It had only been one mistake. One mistake, an inpulse, a twisted reflex of rage and pain and fear, and God only knew what else.
Leo remembered that much. Splinter's words were still lingering in the air between them, something about patience and fortitude.
Leo only remembered the snarl, the horrible sense of the last frayed bit of control snapping. His katana slicing the air in his aggitation, and then, the sickening groan from Splinter, as he cupped his bleeding ear and stared at Leo in silent anguish.
Leo remembered the katana clattering to the mat from his slack fingers. Rage fragmenting, the sudden tidal wave of choking regret and shock, as he fell to his knees pleading and sobbing.
Splinter shuddered at his outstretched hands, stepped away in fear.
Fear. Leo choked back the wail at the thought. His master, his father, feared him.
And now...Oh, God.
Splinter sighed, a long, sliver of overwhelming sadness and acceptance. And then, his featured hardened, when he almost timidly held out the fingers sullied with his own blood to Leo's ravaged stare.
"My son..." An anguished whisper as if Splinter was uncertain if the title still fit.
"Father..." An agonized, bewildered plea, as Leo lurched forward.
Splinter flinched, eyes narrowed and flickering towards Leo's bloodied fingers.
Leo bowed his head, as if waiting for the executioner's ax.
The old rat shut his eyes, and opened them in tears.
"I'm so sorry, Father." The words were broken.
Splinter's breath was bitten off as he rose, warily, neither attempting to condemn Leo, but worse yet, refusing to comfort him.
"Such rage endangers all of us, Leonardo. What, if in your anger, you had struck one of your brothers?'
Leo crumbled as Splinter softly continued, "Your anger has consumed you, Leonardo. And it is not safe for you, or your brothers to practice until it is controlled. Surrender your katana, and leave the dojo. You are forbidden to train."
The words seared, the disbelief made it mercifully numb. Leo's hands were almost trembling too much for him to unbuckle their sheaves, to work the straps off of his body. He felt the loss of leather against his plastron like an amputation.
It would have been kinder if Splinter had asked him to drive one of those blades through his flesh.
Splinter only watched in silence.
Leo reverently lay the katana at his feet, hands lingering for a long moment, knuckles white with the effort to let them go.
And giving Splinter one last tortured look, he slowly rose from his bow and fled while his legs would still hold him upright.
Splinter sat in the troubled silence. The flickering gold of candles,and the warmth of his tea gave him no comfort, the meditation had done nothing to clear his mind or yield any answers. It was a pitiful mercy that Leonardo's savage blow to his ear had only resulted in a slight cut. It was easily concealed by his fur, and not large enough to bandage.
But, this was not a wound inflicted by an enemy. This had been an injury from his own son. Leonardo, his beloved first born,
Splinter's paw strayed to the cut as he sighed. He had felt the slice of pain, before he could comprehend who had inflicted it. And he found himself staring in shock.
Leonardo was staring dumbly at the blood dribbling down his kantana, as if he had never seen it before. He looked bewildered and lost as a child when he finally blinked and fractured.
Splinter warred between the instinct to comfort and the horror of the hurt. And, whether it was cruelty, or wisdom, he opted for the latter.
For the first time, he had been cruel to his own son, sending him out of the dojo, weaponless and disgraced and gutted.
Splinter knew that no blow he could inflict upon Leonardo could be so grievious. And then his trembling hand strayed to his ear.
What if Leonardo had done such a thing to one of his sons?
Splinter cringed at the sudden, searing realization that he had just referred to Leonardo as an enemy.