He had grown taller.
That was her lone thought before fear clouded Karai's mind for a long moment; an eternity without clarity that was like an eternity without air. He towered several inches above her now, and she had to tilt her head back to capture his gaze.
Leonardo met her eyes unflinchingly, as he always had. She imagined that the pools of deep liquid sky shimmered with some emotion in the uneasy lantern light, but as he stared back at her, they hardened almost imperceptibly.
"It's over, Karai." His voice was quiet but firm, utterly mellow. Flat, almost. Though he looked her over with a shinobi's short, assessing glance, there was no heat or interest, no ethereal fingers of flame on her spine as his yang caressed her. There was nothing.
He took a step toward her. A thrill chased through Karai as he did; her traitorous, utterly irrational body wanted him close between her thighs, his face cradled in her breasts, even now. Leonardo reached behind himself, drawing one katana, and a trill of swordsong pierced the humid night air. He was almost languorous in his motions, with an assured, predatory grace that told her he knew he had all the time in the world to carry out his mission.
"Yes," she whispered, a little hoarsely. "It is."
He swung suddenly, his speed exponentially greater than Karai remembered. A bright flash of silvery steel lightning arced fatally towards her throat. Leonardo's expression didn't change as he found his blade stopped, albeit barely. Crimson liquid, nearly black in the dimness, flowed over both their fingers and dripped audibly to the icy marble floor.
"You caught me in my bathrobe, maybe, but a kunoichi is always prepared." Karai's little smile was more of a snarl, as thin as the blade so close to her breast. Though his betrayal; no, his duty; left a hole in her heart she'd never realized had been filled, she wouldn't back down from him. Not even now.
His cool gaze flickered down to the kunai lodged between his katana and her body, trembling with the effort of holding her strength against his own. His own strength, which he was barely using.
They had grown so much apart. Leonardo closed his eyes, struggling to center himself, pushing away the memories. Karai was a slow burn that haunted his dreams. It had been three years since their few hours together, but the taste and sensation of pale and supple flesh, the warmth of honey-golden eyes tracking appreciatively over a body hidden from the world for sixteen years, her fingertips caressing and stroking his shell as though it were a beloved gift, were all as fresh in his mind as if she still lay beside him, breathless from his kiss. Even now she seemed so close, a welcoming fire kindled in a hearth just for him...
Her lips beneath his were just as he remembered, flushed scarlet and slightly parted to allow her heavy breaths. They were a night-blooming flower waiting for his kiss, that whispering touch of moonlight to open them fully. Leonardo closed his eyes, dipping his head to brush his mouth over hers; Karai didn't see the spasm of pain that ghosted across his features like a late autumn breeze as he did.
He pulled away.
She couldn't move.
An upwelling of pain crested through Karai, branching through her chest and filling her lungs as though she were breathing suffering itself. Glancing down, she saw blood soaking and staining the lavender silk of her robe, plastering it firm to the curve of her bosom. So much blood from just a cut on her hand? She tried to move just her head, but couldn't; a shaft of steely agony split apart her ribcage, pinning her to the wall.
His lips brushed over her forehead, just as velvet as she remembered. Leonardo rested his cheek against hers, murmuring quietly in her ear. Gently, he eased the katana from her chest, causing a new gush of still-warm blood to drench them both. Karai gurgled and coughed against his neck, but breathed more easily.
"Karai, I'm so sorry." His voice was soft, somehow imploring, as though he were the one bleeding into her hands. The pain in her chest and spine seemed more distant now, just a throbbing, and Karai found she could move again. Her numbing fingers closed around his much larger ones, and though Leonardo cringed at the sudden chill of her flesh, she brought their entwined hands up to rest against the wound that had rent her apart.
She kissed him again, and they both tasted blood; as Leonardo withdrew, he saw that she bled from even her nose and eyes now, turning the dark eyeliner tattooed around them a deep burgundy. Karai had always been pale, but she was alabaster white now, nearly transparent against the deep verdure of his own skin. Her breaths were shallow and halting, fanning oddly cool air against his face; despite this, her voice was surreally clear.
"Don't be. I told you it'd never work." She couldn't help laughing, even though that made it truly hurt again, a slow building burn as the life flowed from her body, soaking through the silk and his padding, smearing across his plastron, slowly congealing in forgotten pools at their feet. Karai disentangled her hand from Leonardo's, barely able to move shaking fingers as she caressed a long, slow, halting line from his snout and beak up to his eyes. Her fingertips were sticky with her own blood, and she marked him there, both with the flaring peaks of her own tattoos and the labyrinthine swirls so dear to her muscle memory, the mark his shell beneath her hands had left on her soul as he gave her everything Leonardo, pouring himself into her.
Leonardo dropped to his knees, bringing her with him. She had grown her hair out, and it stuck and caught in the gory maw that was her chest now; tenderly, he brushed it away. He cradled her, stroking her cheek once more, but Karai was gone; she had slipped away as they slid down the wall, her final breath a mere ghost over his shoulder.