Disclaimer: If I owned the ninja turtles, I would not be here writing fan fiction. I do not own the turtles or any associated characters or places. They are the property of Mirage Studios. I make no money from this and I mean no harm. Please do not sue.
A/N: And after yet another inordinately long hiatus this story finally receives it's conclusion. You have Midnight Heir to thank for this coming out tonight. She made a pact with me that we'd have a story out in the near future. And this is my contribution at the moment. Thank you to everyone who has read through forty chapters of my (occasionally flighty) muses! Y'all are great. Now a one-shot and long overdue chapters of Amiah are in the works.
Leonardo watched Donnie slide through his bo staff kata. The kama still came out on occasion, but it was becoming rarer with each passing day, and, for that, Leo was grateful. In addition, the naginata had returned to it's status as proficiency only. Those weapons did not suit the young man Leo knew his son to be. Donatello had been true to his punishment, remaining in the lair and nearby sewer tunnels for the past two months. He was getting a rather severe case of cabin fever, and that brought the kama back out once in a while as Donnie felt the occasional need to viciously attack something. Close range weapons made that more satisfying. The end of his punishment was quickly approaching and Leo could tell that he was quite eager to return to the surface after being cooped up for so long.
"Hold your staff higher, Donatello." Leo instructed from the door, and he smiled as the next block found the weapon at the correct height. A few more moments passed as he silently watched his son work.
"You are broadcasting your next move, hide your intent from you enemy, do not let them know what you plan to do."
Donatello's movements became sharper, cleaner and his weight distribution stopped giving away the next movement. Leonardo watched as Donatello came to the conclusion of the kata and finished formally with a sharp bow.
Leonardo smiled and gave his son a nod, releasing him from the bow. "Now you just need to get the whole thing the way you finished without needing the reminders from me."
Donnie sighed and tried to choke back a small cough.
"But that can wait."
"I am ok, Sensei." Donatello objected.
"Yes, and I wish you to stay that way, My Son." Leo said calmly. "Take a hot shower then get a sweatshirt on."
"Yes, Sensei." Donatello said before bowing again and leaving the dojo to do as ordered.
"He's getting pretty good with that stick of his." Raphael grinned as soon as Donnie was gone.
"Yeah, he is. I'm glad he's gone back to it." Leo responded with a small smile.
"He really needed ya, Leo." Raphael agreed quietly. "I can't believe that we missed-"
"It's ok, Raph. He doesn't blame you, and neither do I. It happened, and now it's over so stop worrying about it, ok?"
"heh, I still feel bad about it, Leo. I had no idea he'd been sneakin' out or that he'd seen that."
"You had no reason to." Leo looked Raph right in the eyes and put a hand on his shoulder. "It's over. Let it be."
Raph nodded and left the room. Donnie came back down a few moments later in a light grey sweatshirt.
Leonardo did not have to look at the clock to know that time for the brothers' evening patrol/training run was fast approaching. He also knew that Donnie had been cooped up down here long enough. The blue-masked turtle glanced up to the second level before heading up to his son's room. When he got there, Donnie was working on something that Leo did not recognize. Donnie looked up, noticing his father's near silent entrance. Leonardo smiled, pleased with his student. He then crossed the room and crouched next to his son.
"I believe that it has been two months." Leo said quietly, causing Donnie to put down the soldering iron he'd been holding and look up at his father in surprise. Quietly laughing to himself, Leo continued speaking.
"Your uncles and I were just about to go up for our run and patrol. I would like for you to join us if you feel up to it."
Donnie looked down for a moment before quickly shaking his head. "Um... no, that's ok."
The response surprised Leo as Donatello had been itching to get out of the lair for weeks now. "No?"
"I- I just don't..."
Leo sighed, recognizing the look in Donnie's eyes. Getting out of the lair was one thing, practicing ninjitsu in the safety of their home was one thing, returning to the streets for a training run would have been a possibility, but Leo had used another word. That was the one that was upsetting the young turtle... patrol.
"You won't be alone this time, Donnie."
"Dad, I-" The teen hesitated.
"I promise to keep Raph on a short leash if it looks like it might be too risky for you." Leo added with a small grin.
"D- do I have to?"
"You have to some day. That day need not be today, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be."
Donatello looked at the object on the bench in front of him before slowly nodding and looking up at his father. "Ok," he agreed.
Leo put a hand on Donnie's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. "It will be just fine, you'll see."
Donatello nodded and slid his bo staff into the holster on his back, after a moment of debate, the kama were also slipped into his belt. A silent, unnoticed sigh escaped his father.
Leonardo had lied. Well, not necessarily lied, but things were not alright. Donatello forced his bo staff a little higher in the next block then dropped low, kicking out and pulling the Foot ninja's feet out from under him. Whipping his weapon around, the ninja was knocked unconscious. Donnie looked up when he heard a familiar grunt, the scene that greeted him required quick action, and the teen acted without thought.
"Uncle Mikey!" The young turtle shouted at the older turtle's back as he whipped a kama from his belt and threw it. Michelangelo heard the shout and jumped clear, but the ninja that had been sneaking up on the turtle had remained in the path. By the time Donnie's brain got around to processing what he had just done it was too late. He screamed and stumbled backward, barely blocking the first ninja who rushed at him in his daze.
"Donatello, Focus!" Leonardo ordered sharply. He was too far away from his son to be of any great help beyond that. The call was just in time and Donnie snapped back to himself and where he was.
The young turtle turned on the Foot around him and battled them off avoiding use of his second kama.
"Thanks, Donnie." Michelangelo said as he approached his nephew as soon as the last Foot ninja fell. He smiled and ruffled the purple bandanna. "You did good."
"I... I killed that guy."
"Yeah, you did." Mikey told the young turtle, making the incident sound like less of a big deal than it really was. "I'm actually rather glad you did."
"I threw a kama at his back. At his BACK!"
Leo looked up. He considered stepping in, but it seemed that Mikey had everything under control for now. Instead he turned back to the downed Foot ninja.
"Guys, we have to move." Leo ordered.
Though the family followed the order quickly Mikey and Donnie continued their quiet conversation as though it had never been interrupted.
"In a fight, things happen quickly. Sometimes you just have to act without thought. That is what you did. You are a great ninja, Donnie. We don't go out at night seeking to kill our opponents, and we avoid it when at all possible, but sometimes we are left with no choice. I am sorry to have put you in this situation, but it would have happened eventually." Michelangelo watched his nephew look sadly down at the rooftop they now stood on. There was a troubled expression on the teen's face and Mikey could tell that Donnie was having trouble justifying this to himself.
Yes, his actions had been meant to save his uncle and they had worked effectively, but someone was dead at Donnie's hand. In all the nights he had gone out since witnessing the death of the woman in the alley Donnie had never killed anyone. He had beaten people up a bit, giving them cuts and bruises they would not soon forget, but he had never killed them.
"Donnie, listen to me. The fact that you are beating yourself up now speaks volumes about your character," Michelangelo insisted, breaking into Donnie's thoughts. 'And as much as it hurts right now, I'm glad it does, and I hope that this sort of situation is never easy for you."
The younger turtle looked up at his uncle in confusion.
"You'll make it, Donnie. You'll get through this. I have no doubt of that. In fact, I'd be more concerned about you if you weren't taking this hard."
That statement did little to alleviate Donatello's fears, concerns or confusion.
"Because if it weren't, you would be hardened far beyond your years, hardened far beyond where anyone should ever be. I wouldn't want that for you, and I hope you never reach that point." Mikey squeezed Donnie's shoulder. He was almost finished channeling his father and sensei, or perhaps Leo, but there was still a little bit to be said on this subject.
"You may not be able to see it right now, but you still have a lot of innocence to you. It won't always be easy, but hold on to that innocence with everything you have." Mikey almost begged. "You lose that and you lose yourself. And you losing you would just be confusing for you in general and more confusing for us to explain."
Donatello almost smiled at his uncle. It never made sense to him, but Uncle Mikey had an almost uncanny ability to bring a smile to his face. Donnie took a moment to correct himself. It wasn't just his face that Mikey could bring a smile to. Michelangelo could brighten a room with a grin, joke or a few well-chosen words in a way that no one Donnie had ever met could.
"So, think you can handle this, Mini-ninja?"
Donnie chuckled as his mask was ruffled up once again.
Leo watched Mikey and Donnie silently. He felt Raph step up next to him, also watching the conversation.
After the chuckle at the name, Donnie really considered the question he had been asked. He frowned at the ground for a moment before looking up at his uncle again. The look on his face was enough of an answer for his father and uncles. A confident sparkle tempered by past mistakes filled the teen's eyes.
That look made Leo feel old. His 'job' with Donnie was far from over, but, in that moment, Leo was sure that both of them had done well up to this point. It was a turning point in both of their lives. For the past twelve years, Leo had hoped that his efforts to train and raise his son would give Donnie everything he needed to survive and even thrive in the world they had been given, but up until now it was never more than a fervent hope. April had been right, in no more than the time it takes to blink, his baby had become a man; Leo was ever so grateful that he had managed to not blink. For the first time since that deathly ill three year old appeared at the farmhouse door, Leo knew that Donnie, that his son, was going to be just fine.