Disclaimer: I don't own the TMNT
A/N: One thing I have to say that is completely different about the 87 show and the 2012 show is the relationship between Mike and Don. In the 2012 show, they are very close, but I see them in the 87 show with a different relationship. They still care about each other, but Donatello's introverted aloofness doesn't quite fall in line with Mikey's extroverted, emotional personality. So this chapter is going to look into that. And wow...It's been like 1 ½ years since I've updated this...and more since I've updated my other multi-chapter fics. I'm going to try to change that!
Donatello didn't hear Michelangelo enter his lab. The genius had a tendency to throw himself so deeply into his work that he became oblivious to the outside world, and now was definitely one of those times. He was sitting at his work table, head bowed, staring intensely at a piece of paper.
He was clearly preoccupied with it, and whatever it was had filled Donatello with a level of hurt that Michelangelo had never felt from his brother before.
His older brother was an enigma to him, unspoken emotions flitting beneath the surface only to be drowned in the sea of his lab. He would escape there, burying himself in experiments or circuitry to push away feelings he didn't wish to express. Michelangelo, on the other hand, felt his emotions freely, openly. They were as much a part of him as pizza and skateboards, whereas Donatello erected a wall of science and mechanics around his.
From time to time, there were cracks in Donatello's armor, fine fissures marring the surface, and allowing Michelangelo a glimpse of what was underneath...and if he read his brother properly, Donatello held a vast wealth of emotion, almost as deep as his own.
"Hey Donster," Michelangelo called out good naturedly, heading over to his brother's side. "How's it hangin', compadre?"
Donatello started in surprise, promptly flipping over the sheet of paper he had been analyzing. He folded his arms and leaned forward, placing his arms over the parchment, as if trying to hide it. And as always, his mental walls were hastily reconstructed as he plastered a plastic grin on his face.
"H - hey Michelangelo! What brings you here?" he said in an unassuming manner.
Luckily for Michelangelo, Donatello was also a horrible liar. The surfer placed the coffee and pizza on the table's wooden surface. Donatello eyed the mug and plate suspiciously, as if they were volatile chemicals about to blow.
"Fearless Leader wanted you to chow down some pizza, dude, so I come bearing tubular pie and your favorite ground bean juice," Michelangelo returned his brother's smile, only his was genuine. He motioned to the cup and food. Almost as an afterthought he added "...and I was hoping for some help with something."
"Ohhhh...that wasn't necessary, Michelangelo," Donatello's voice cracked, a trembling vibrato of hurt sneaking into his tone. He cleared his throat nervously and rose to his feet, crumpling up the paper and clutching it in a fist behind his back. "And I'm really busy right now...so whatever needs fixing, just put it in the pile over there" - he motioned to a corner of the room that was cluttered with a myriad of appliances and scrap metal - "and I'll get to it as soon as I can."
With his free hand, the genius twirled his brother around and began pushing him in the direction of the exit. Michelangelo locked his legs in protest. He was slightly stronger than his purple clad sibling, and thus Donatello was not making much progress.
Michelangelo spun himself back around and nimbly side-stepped away. He shot his older brother a skeptical, yet concerned glare and planted his feet firmly in place. He crossed his arms tightly across his plastron and noted, "Dude you suck at lying. What's wrong, bro?"
"Me? Lying?" Donatello waved his hand at Michelangelo as if it were the most preposterous thing he had ever heard. However, despite his denial, the party dude caught a flicker of emotion in Donatello's eyes; an empty sadness as if something had crushed his spirit. "No...I'm fine...just busy. So many things to fix, so little time!"
"Dude, I don't need anything fixed…"
A look of irritation momentarily crossed Donatello's features. "I cannot play video games with you right now." Michelangelo opened his mouth to speak, but Donatello interrupted him, "And no I have not invented anything pizza, surfing, or skateboard related recently. I think that about covers all the circumstances in which you normally seek me out. So..if that is all, there is another matter which requires my attention."
Michelangelo was certain that Leonardo and Raphael would not have picked up on it, but Donatello's eyes were missing their typical inquisitive spark. It was difficult for Michelangelo to imagine beyond his own senses, but it was as if his inspiration and curiosity had been snuffed out like a lonely candle in a hurricane.
"That's clearly not all dude...so what's the haps?"
Donatello tensed up, nervously fiddling with the balled up paper in his hand. He was realizing that Michelangelo was not going anywhere. In an attempt to get the topic off himself he replied, "Didn't Master Splinter teach us to not pry into other's business? I'm fine leave it at that."
"Bro, I'm not trying to be nosy...just worried about -"
Again Michelangelo was cut off, Donatello's tone turning cranky, "You're being over emotional as usual, Michelangelo. Now what did you need help with."
Michelangelo frowned, slightly hurt by Donatello's words and how he was pushing him away, but he figured for the moment he would not be able to get anything more out of his brainy brother. Donatello could be more stubborn than burnt grease on a pizza pan.
"Well…" the younger mutant suddenly felt sheepish, internally debating if his need for advice on Kala was worth interrupting Donatello when he was so preoccupied with something else. Quickly weighing his options - either disappointing Kala or facing the ire of Donatello - he decided to go with the latter. He could handle cranky Donnie, but the thought of letting down Kala made his heart hurt and his stomach flop nauseatingly.
"Well…" Donatello prodded, making a "go on" motion with his free hand.
"Well, ya see…" Michelangelo began again. Why was this so hard? Now it was his turn to change the subject. "Why don't you eat your pizza over there...or have some tubuloso coffee? I hate coffee...but I make a bodacious cuppa joe according to Raphael...in fact, dude, just the other day -"
Donatello flashed him a glare that could have melted the ice caps.
Michelangelo sighed in resignation. "I need your advice. You're like, so smart, dude, so I figured you could help me with a major problemo I have."
Donatello visibly relaxed, thinking that Michelangelo was done prodding into his personal business. He cocked a bemused eyebrow ridge at his younger sibling and said, "I'm a genius, of course...but honestly, Michelangelo, why come to me for advice? Raphael and Leonardo stopped long ago...saying I was too analytical about things. If you ask me, the best approach to a problem is a good dose of logic. And you - no offense - aren't really one to follow logic."
"Actually, D…" Michelangelo mumbled. "I kinda already went to our bros...and they really couldn't help...so…"
The hurt flickered in Donatello's eyes again, and his grip tightened on the paper ball, as if affirming something disheartening in his mind. "So I'm your last resort then." his words were clipped and his mood swung instantly to defensive and pained. "Of course!" he ranted. "That's how it always is!"
Michelangelo's eyes opened in shock. There was no doubt in his own mind that there was something definitely bothering Donatello. The genius could be touchy at times, but even that reaction was a little extreme for him.
"No - no - bro!" Michelangelo stammered. "That's not it at all...I just...they just…"
"As Raphael would say, 'whatever'," Donatello grumbled. "What do you want then?"
Michelangelo internally cringed at Donatello's gruff, accusatory tone. He decided it was probably better to just get this over with and blurt it out.
"Kala's birthday is totally coming up, bro, and I wanna make it special but don't know how, so I was totally hoping one of my bros could help and I -" he nervously babbled.
Donatello interrupted him with a harsh, almost choked laugh. "Now I can see why I was your last resort."
"Dude - you weren't -"
"Michelangelo, I am the last mutant in this family to ask for dating advice, "Donatello scoffed. "I'm married to my work, right? As Raphael always so kindly points out."
"Donatello - this is nutso!" Michelangelo waved his arms in exasperation. "You would never be my last resort, dude! You're my bro, just as much as Leonardo and Raphael are!" His next words were pained and subdued "...And it hurts you would ever think that…"
Donatello's eyes widened at Michelangelo's last remark, his bristly demeanor softening. "I - I'm sorry, Michelangelo...I just have something on my -" he caught himself, as if about to reveal information he did not want to, "I mean I'm really tired. Been burning the late night pizza grease lately..." he gave a forced, unconvincing chuckle. He reached over and grabbed the coffee and took a generous gulp of the now cold, bitter liquid, giving his younger brother his full attention, and erasing all signs of upset from his features. "So...what problem could the 'party dude' be having planning a birthday?"
Michelangelo narrowed his eyes dubiously, knowing full well that his brother was still lying, but deciding to leave it be for the moment.
"Raphael totally said the same thing to me, dude," Michelangelo said wryly.
"Because it's a valid observation," Donatello commented. "It's unusual for one who usually takes the reigns for party planning to require assistance."
"This is more than just a party, dude...this is Kala, a totally bodacious dudette...and I don't want to disappoint her...she deserves the most righteous celebration ever!"
Donatello gave a slight grin, pushing aside his own issue for the time being. That could wait. Michelangelo's optimism had always been something Donatello had secretly envied, and seeing the enamoured expression on his younger sibling's face as me mentioned Kala...the admiration his words held…
Donatello nodded in understanding. He silently headed across the room to his computer desk and motioned for Michelangelo to join him. The orange banded turtle trailed him curiously.
"Do you have any notions, bro?" he inquired.
"Well," Donatello began as he took a seat in his computer chair. He now wore his detached scientist expression, and his words reflected this as well. He was actually welcome to the distraction. Before he had this to occupy him... he banished the thought from his mind. "While I have no personal experience in the dating department, I have done in depth research on the subject. But before I give you some evidence based suggestions, please inform me of what Raphael and Leonardo proposed."
"Uhh…" Michelangelo scratched his head in confusion. One drawback to Donatello's "scientist mode" was a plethora of big words which the more care-free brother didn't always understand. "In English, dude."
Donatello gave a quiet snort and "dumbed" down the words, "What did Leonardo and Raphael tell you to do?"
"Raphael told me to take Kala out for pizza and to the comedy club, and Leonardo said I should take her to a Japanese museum exhibit and give her a katana."
Donatello smirked in amusement. "Figures…" he shook his head at the predictability of his siblings. "Now, Michelangelo, what is inherently wrong to you about those ideas?"
Michelangelo cocked his head to the side, not really comprehending what his brother was getting at. "Nothing's really wrong with any of those ideas...like, I mean Mona Lisa totally digs comedy, and I'm sure Lotus would think a katana was righteous...but…Kala..."
"Exactly," Donatello interjected, hoping his brother would have an "ah-ha" moment soon. "Those ideas are good for them…but what do you think of them for you?"
Michelangelo's eyes lit up, finally getting it. "Totally bogus…that's stuff they like to do."
Donatello grinned, an actual genuine smile this time. "As you would say, 'exactamundo, dude'! As much as I think with my head, you tend to think with your heart. You don't want to feel like you're going to let Kala down, so you are over thinking things. That's not you. Be you. What sounds good to you?"
Michelangelo pondered Donatello's words for a moment before responding, "Pizza always sounds gnarly to me, and I love cooking it…"
"There you go...but also think of what she would like. It's her birthday, so go with that. Make it about her. Not you...not your brothers...make it special for her. Implement what you excel at, and tailor it to her. She definitely is attracted to you -" Michelangelo blushed at that one - "so put all of yourself into it. Be yourself, the guy she likes, not the guy Leonardo and Raphael suggested you be." Donatello explained.
Michelangelo's mind exploded with ideas and he stared without focus at the far side of the room. "I could instead of a huge party...make her a meal and take her on a picnic...we haven't had time to ourselves in forever…" his voice sounded distant and thoughtful before he perked up and exclaimed: "Hey bro! Do you have any Neutrino recipes in your book shelf?"
Donatello was proud of his brother. "Don't I have books on everything?" he grinned slyly.
"For sure, dude."
Donatello made his way over to his bookshelf. With his mind fully engaged in assisting Michelangelo, the crumpled paper ball was forgotten. It dropped out of Donatello's hand and rolled under the computer desk. Michelangelo eyed it, tempted to pick it up and discover what was causing his older brother so much concern. He knew it was wrong to take other people's things...and Donatello would be really upset...but he also knew that Donatello was too proud to ask for help himself. When he had a problem, he would mull it over and over by himself where it festered in his soul like an infected wound. And that troubled Michelangelo deeply.
Michelangelo glanced back at Donatello quickly, who was busy rifling through some books. The orange clad turtle took that moment to use his ninja dexterity to swiftly snatch up the paper. He put his shell to his brother and opened the wrinkled parchment as noiselessly as possible. He scanned the page, wordlessly mouthing the text as he went along.
Tears had rimmed his eyes by the end as he cast another side-long glance at his brother. No wonder he's so upset…
Michelangelo turned around to face the genius, the paper dangling weakly in one hand. "Donatello...dude…"
The scientist glanced up, his eyes growing wide at the sight of Michelangelo grasping the letter. He dropped the pile of books he was holding in his shock and bounded over to Michelangelo. He ripped the paper roughly away from the younger mutant and glared at him with a mix of anger and embarrassment.
"This," he hissed, waving the paper around in a jerky motion, "is none of your business."
"But Donatello…this is a major bummer, dude...no wonder you are so upset."
"I'm not upset!" Donatello ranted, in clear opposition of his spoken words. He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. "I just...I just didn't want you guys to know that...my college degree was being…" he gave out a long and heavy sigh, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders "...revoked."
A/N: This will be continued in the next chapter. I just felt it was getting long and that this would be a good point to break it up. This whole interaction between Mike and Don is to help both of them better understand themselves and each other, so it is going to be longer than the previous two chapters. So I'd say there's about two chapters left. I hope you enjoyed!