The Greatest Enemy

By Kay

Disclaimer: Don't own TMNT. Mirage, Eastman and Laird do. SOMETIMES THIS MAKES ME CRY AT NIGHT.

Author's Note: Just a drabble I did based off of the "Return to New York" comic arc in Mirage, Volume One. This IS based off of the comic, so while you will understand even if you haven't read it, the actions and details will definitely go over your head. But I hope someone enjoys it. (bows) Thank you very much, guys!

... and yes, there will be more of my chaptered fics coming soon. I'm sorry. I FAIL AT LIFE.

Oroku Saki! Face me!

Gladly. Leonardo… I've been waiting a long time.

Too long, said Leonardo.

- Mirage Volume One, Issue 21

They give him an honorable send off, even if he doesn't deserve it. Even if Leonardo whispers his bitter-caked truth, "I hope you rot in hell," there is the right thing to do and Leonardo has always tried to do it. So they send the Shredder away with flame and water and the solemn vigil afforded to those who die as warriors. They watch his body, consumed by flames, as it floats down the river. It's Leonardo who puts the helmet on the sword and leaves it there, in the dirt, a gleam of metal against the moon.

It is… the good thing to do.

It's also better than Oroku Saki deserves. And yet much, much less. Too anticlimactic, somehow, it's too difficult to let go of a deep-seated ache that has lasted three years. Leonardo feels indescribable; that it is done, his haunted nights are over, is an impossible thing to comprehend right now. He should be heady with victory, but instead he is exhausted to the marrow of his bones. He should be relieved his family is safe, but instead he distances himself from them, his brothers, because the truth is, they only allow this because they do not understand.

They would have left him to be swept away in the aftermath of the explosion. Leonardo isn't entirely certain they would have been wrong.

He tells himself there is a code to follow. In the end, Shredder had faced Leonardo with honor. Newly regenerated and thriving with the smell of decay, but with honor. Two swords and two men, if either of them can be called that, in fair combat. The dance of vengeance that Leonardo's father and teacher spun for them at an early age found their feet again, and they brought steel to steel, no trickery but the tiny war ensuing under their feet. There is to be something to be said for it. Perhaps. Enough, at least, that Leonardo does not feel shame in giving Shredder a spare thought or two—to wrap his body carefully, to destroy the remains in far less gruesome ways than the Shredder would have done for him. Saki's corpse is cool, but Leonardo thinks it's always been that way—death brought its mark on the Shredder a long time ago and claimed what had been left of his humanity. There are holes in his flesh, in his neck. Leonardo wraps them, too, in linens.

Oroku Saki could have been a normal man, really. Stripped of all else, he becomes such again and Leonardo wonders at the transformation. What turns souls into festering blisters? Saki's eyes still burn.

He'll see them in his dreams again, no doubt.

Sometimes he can't help but think about it. Nagi and Saki, the brothers. Yoshi and his pet rat. The slain older brother, wicked and defiling but still blood, and Saki's vow of revenge. Would Leonardo have been so different? He contemplates, but finds no answers. Pushes his questions away. What has happened has happened, what they are is what they are. There is no doubt of the Shredder's judgment. Leonardo does not feel regret, nor does he ever return to the place where he left behind the katana that sung so surely against his own.

It is not a sound he hears again. And this, at least, Leonardo mourns.

The End