The lounge was in disarray, chairs upended and papers scattered across the floor, along with broken glass and what might once have been a coffee maker. Mikey picked his way through unhesitantly to the large, hunched figure in the corner.
It was one thing to be passively aware that Leatherhead had PTSD, Donatello realized, and quite another thing altogether to see it.
"Hey, Ellie," Mikey said kindly, crouching within arm's reach but making no move to touch. Donnie couldn't see his expression from where he stood, but he could picture the patient smile and lamplike blue eyes. "Are you okay for me to touch you? You can nod or shake your head. You won't hurt me, dude, I'm not worried."
After a moment, Leatherhead's broad shoulders uncurled only barely, and his head dipped in concession. Mikey scooted forward eagerly, and wrapped tanned hands around his forearm.
Donnie moved closer, until he was standing behind Mikey's shoulder at a respectable distance. Wanted to make clear that he was with them, and not apart. He was ashamed, constantly, of his unwarranted dislike of Lamar in the beginning, this man who had lost two sets of parents in much the same way Donnie had, this orphan who hadn't had a Leo to mend all the hurts and smooth down the sharp edges of a rebroken heart.
But that was years ago, and they were friends now; they shared books and citations and long three a.m. discussions on Facebook about string theory and Star Trek in equal measure. And Donnie would share this with him, too, this pain and these scars, if Leatherhead would let him.
"I'm still your safe place, ain't that right? And I'm right here, LH, so you know what that means, huh? If I'm here and I'm safe, you must be, too." And Donnie realized in a rush that Mikey's method with all the one-sided conversation was never to convince, it was to simply reassure. Leatherhead could have no clue what he was saying, but it wasn't the content that mattered, it was the voice, and the resilient, impossible young man the voice belonged to, and Mikey would talk until the sky fell down if that's what it took to bring Leatherhead safely back home.
"I'm here, buddy," Mikey said, words shaped like a smile still, crouching in the office space ruin like there was nowhere else in the world for him to go. And it made Donnie think of Leo – and Leo would be mortified but Mikey would be thrilled if Donnie ever told them how much like Leo Mikey was turning out to be. Selfless and steadfast and endlessly stubborn where it mattered. "How about you take a look around, tell me what you see?"
And it was no surprise when Leatherhead lifted his head and his green eyes didn't stutter past Mikey's face. Lost and dazed, pale and shaken, but coming into focus with alacrity, going soft with unspeakable gratitude and impossible affection. He leaned into the hand Mikey cupped around the burned side of his face, like he had forgotten about the scars there – and really, Donnie thought, didn't that say it all?
"Well?" Mikey prompted impishly, and Leatherhead exhaled the barest ghost of a laugh.
"I see you," Leatherhead said, like it was the only answer. And who knew, maybe it was.