Mikey breathed out the realization, curled his arms over his plastron in the futile attempt to comfort himself.
Leo's gone, and I'm alive.
His tremble grew to outright quaking as his knees nearly gave out.
I'm alive. I'm alive and Leo's gone.
He could not stop the tremble that wracked his body, nor could he stop the dull ache of realization that he was alive, and Leo had vanished. Numbly, Mikey stared at the emptiness, heard the familiar hiss of the sewer pipes, the cloying darkness, and the sting of blood from where Leo had cut him. He drew shaking fingers over his throat, and stared at the hot red trickle that coated his skin, felt the cold of the bricks behind his shell, the sudden, overwhelming silence.
Swallowing back the terror, the bile in his throat, Mikey forced himself to put his leaden feet in motion, lurching forward at first and then nearly breaking into a full run back towards the Lair.
Panic mercifully overrode his shot to hell nerves as he skittered down the tunnel, only pausing to listen for Leo. Mikey didn't know if Leo planned on circling back to the Lair and finishing off their father and brothers. How could he know?
Leo could be heading back home to finish the rest of us off.
The fear put fire to his feet, as he nearly flew. He halted when he heard a cry, and then the scutter of feet.
Mikey whirled, and froze, bracing himself against the wall, nearly disappearing into the shadows.
He tensed instinctively when he heard somebody stop, only a few feet away from his sliver of refuge.
"Leo, if you can hear me, just let Mikey go. Please. I won't come after you. Just let Mikey go, and leave."
Donny stood there, wretched and nearly sick with terror at finding the brother he hated and the other one dead, as he stared into the fathomless darkness and listened. Mikey cringed to hear the desperate fear in Donny's pleading. Donny heard a shuddering breath that sounded like a sob, and whirled.
Mikey saw the curve of a shell, a shard of purple from Donny's mask as his brother hoisted his bo in defensive stance.
Stepping out of the shadows, Mikey spread his arms upwards, palms out, and gave Donny a bright, forced grin. "Relax, bro. It's just me. Leo's gone."
Donny gaped at his brother, eyes huge and disbelieving, before the bo clattered to the concrete, and Mikey found himself nearly crushed in the fierce embrace.
Mikey hid the wince as Donny gently pushed him back, to stare in bewilderment before he instinctively started scanning Mikey for any injuries.
"Mikey, are you alright? Did Leo hurt you? What happened?"
Mikey gave Donny a smirk, and paused a moment to scrape together the forced, false reassurance. Mockingly spreading his arms, he twirled with a chuckle that sounded like a sob.
"Take it easy, Donny. I'm fine. Really. Leo didn't really do anything but drag me here, and let me go."
Right. Leo didn't do anything but stab Raphael, hold his sword to my throat, and leave me wondering if he was going to kill me. Never mind about that….I'm alive.
"He let you go?" Donny asked in dismay as Mikey only shrugged off the hellish experience with a hitch of his shoulder and what was left of his crumbling cheer.
"Yeah." Mikey whispered. Swallowing hard from the sudden tears, he nodded. "Yeah, Donny. Leo let me go, and he told me good-bye."
He only took time to wipe away the desecration of his brother's blood from the katana. Leo inwardly cringed at seeing the vivid scarlet coating the silver of the blade, and hastily sheaved it. It would do him little good, now, but it was the last remnant of who he was.
Leo knew that he was leaving behind unanswered questions, wounds that would never heal, and a betrayal that could never be forgiven. His parting gift to his father and brothers was a hated memory, a lair of ghosts, a haunted loathing that none of them would relinquish. He had left Raphael possibly maimed for life, Splinter broken, Mikey in terror, and Donny with his hatred, but he was leaving them all alive and intact. It was the last thing that he could give them, even if they never knew that he had saved them in the only way that he could.
It took every last scrap of love, and inner resolve for Leo to keep up his jagged, broken sprint through the tunnels, away from his home and all that he knew. He halted a moment, for one last look, to drink in the bittersweet familiarity of the years he spent down here, the safe, beloved world and those he cherished enough to leave.
So very soon, Mikey would be found. Leo didn't harbor the frail hope that any of his family would come after him. There would be no farewells, no explanation. It was hell, but better this way.
Leo took a bitter bit of solace in knowing that it couldn't be much worse. Swallowing back the last sob, he lingered for a moment to steel himself for what was to come.
Gritting his teeth, he drew two breaths, let the finality curl in his gut, before he forced himself to climb the rungs to the surface.
He palmed the manhole cover, shoved it out of place and quickly soared into the flip upwards from the sewer to the concrete of the human world.
He landed, quickly righted himself, and quickly darted back into the shadows. The alley was deserted, except for a piece of newspaper skittering over the concrete.
Swallowing hard, feeling as if he were attending his own execution, Leo strode forward into the wan glow of the streetlight, in full view, his pulse thundering in dull warning.
He didn't turn towards the falling footsteps, or acknowledge the ambush that was about to take place.
Leo didn't trouble himself to grace Karai with anything more than a glare as she materialized, rising out of the dark and gliding like a panther.
And with the graceful silence of leaves falling, he was suddenly surrounded by her henchmen.