Summary: Donatello finds out that some unsolicited brotherly affection is often the best kind of pick-me-up. Just a bit of fluff, and I do mean fluff. Rated for a smidgeon of language.
A/N: Probably inspired by the movie, I've fallen madly in love with the rarely seen softer side of Raph, and I quite like the Don/Raph dynamic at the moment. Thus comes this little ficlet. This Raph is probably a smidgeon out of character, being so fluffy, but just go with it. Enjoy! Constructive reviews always welcome!
I don't own any of the following characters etc.
Donatello couldn't decide if he was on the verge of tears, violence or giving up, but knew that he didn't like the sensation. It wasn't often that he couldn't get his head around something, but when it happened it was almost like someone was shaking his world up and down and bouncing it against a brick wall.
He didn't presume to think that he understood how everything worked, really; it was just that fixing the second rate fittings and electrical systems in the lair was the one thing he knew he could do, and yet he just couldn't do it.
This wasn't just a case of Mikey blowing a fuse with all his gaming consoles and blacking out the television, either. No, he, of all people, had shorted out the back up power for their security system with his computers. Their security was still running, but for the last few weeks there had been some sewer maintenance underway on higher levels, and it had thrice cut off their predominant power source. Everything had been running well for the last couple of days, but the council workers were yet to move away their equipment, and Donatello was worried their work could start up again unexpectedly and leave the family in the lurch.
Now that he really needed to fix it, nothing was working.
He couldn't understand it. All that was required was a simple reworking of the wiring, but he couldn't get the power back up. It wasn't a difficult process, he must have done it a thousand times before in his comparatively brief lifetime.
But for the first time in a long time, he was truly stuck.
"Why the shell won't you work, damn you," he growled, slipping into Mikey-mode briefly and surprising himself. Now he was talking to his work? Just what he needed.
He pushed at a tangle of wires irritably, wondering if at this point it would be easier to simply rip the whole fitting out of the wall and starting from the beginning. It would probably be quicker too.
"Smile, bro, it's better for you."
Startled, Donatello looked up, quickly masking a scowl of frustration when he found Raphael leaning against a supporting barrier, watching him curiously.
"Ain't like you to look so miserable when you're surrounded by machines," he noted, concern slipping through his typically gruff countenance. "The Donnie Smile's missing. What's up?"
"How long have you been there," he asked curiously, inwardly hoping it hadn't been long enough to witness the 'I'm so frustrated I'm going to curse the inanimate tangle of wires' incident. Raphael lifted an eye ridge.
"Long enough to think you might need a break, bro."
Donatello shook his head, deflating further. Great. Now his brother probably thought he was insane as well as incompetent.
"I can't afford to take a break," he mumbled. "If I can't get this back up system running again, and the power gets shut off again, we'll have nothing, not even the monitors. We can't really chance that right now, not with all the men in the sewers."
Raphael glanced up at the ceiling, somewhat uselessly, as he crossed the room and flipped a chair around; straddling it backwards. Something he'd always done as a child, and something that Splinter had only recently stopped nagging him about.
"I'm sure we could just let Leo go on guard duty," drawled Raphael. "Just let him know one of the men left the construction site and he'll be sitting outside the lair all week with his katanas anyway, and we can sleep easy for a few days."
"Well that might fix the problem for a few days but I still need to repair the system," Donatello mumbled. "Leo can't live outside permanently, however much you'd like it."
"I guess it'd probably get boring after a while, having no one to tick me off. I mean, you and Mikey have your moments, but man, he's narrowed it down to a fine art."
Despite himself, Don chuckled tiredly.
"So what's the problem 'ere?"
"I… I don't know," he groaned. "It's my own fault, I had too many things running at the same time. All I want to do is reboot the back up system, but I guess maybe I've done more damage than I originally thought I had. But I've tried rewiring everything, and it's just… not working."
Raph made a face.
"Sounds… monumentally boring, and far too complicated."
"Yeah, well, it should be simple," Don muttered, rubbing his temples.
"Oh I dunno Donnie. I still don't get how you can do all this stuff."
Donatello sighed, misinterpreting the words and slumping in his seat.
"I don't know Raph, I can't help it. Technology is the one thing I can get my head around. At least usually. Sometimes I wish I had normal side projects or could focus more on our training, but I really can't help it."
"Hey, bro, that's not what I meant," corrected his brother softly, leaning forwards. He frowned gently. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine," replied Donatello quietly, shaking his head. "Just… frustrated. This should be working and I… don't know why I can't do it. This of all things I should be able to work out. It's my job."
Raphael considered him for a long moment.
"What I meant," he said at length, watching the younger turtle carve jagged shapes into the wooden tabletop. "Was that this stuff you do just goes straight over my head. I can never understand how you can take two bits of wire, a battery and some spare metal, and make a security system."
Donatello cocked his head, opening his mouth to speak, but Raph cut him off.
"Really. I've seen you fix things on the spot, pull apart security systems with seconds to spare, make bombs with… Heck, with garbage. This techno thing of yours has saved all our shells so many times, you know that right?"
He smirked, almost proudly.
"You just… blow me away with this stuff."
Don ducked his head, eyes tracing the ragged patterns in the desk shyly.
"Oh yeah," enthused Raphael, still watching him. "It's like… I can never let my guard down around you. In a good way," he assured quickly. "Like I have to run as fast as I can just to catch up. It's the same with all of ya to a degree, I know. But I mean, at the very least I've been known to absolutely destroy Mikey at his freaking car racing games… let me tell you, he had it coming. And we both know I could kick Leo's shell if I really wanted to, right?"
Donatello declined to answer, and Raphael just smirked.
"Doesn't matter. But you, you're in a league of your own, bro. Yeah you're an amazing fighter, and I know from experience that it hurts like Hell being on the receiving end of that stick of yours," he chuckled. "But I mean, heck, your brain could run circles around mine in reverse. Geez, even that don't make sense, does it? Do you know what I mean?"
Donatello wasn't sure he did, but could appreciate the general sentiment, and felt himself smiling shyly in gratitude.
"I think so."
"And beyond all o' that, you're an even better little brother," Raphael concluded, gently. Donatello swallowed, looking up slowly to meet his companion's gaze.
"I uh…" He blushed faintly. "That's nice to hear, Raph. In fact, you… you don't know how nice it is to hear."
"You're not too shabby as a big brother either, you know," he noted, smiling a little timidly.
Raphael smiled back and clapped his shoulder before loping to his feet, padding lazily back in the direction of the den. Donatello settled back in his seat, fiddling thoughtfully with the screwdriver in his hands. Before he could force his mind back to focusing on the technical problem at hand, he heard his brother pause.
"You know I love you, right?"
This time Donatello's smile rang out, sheepish and grateful, and by the pleased look on Raph's face he could tell it was one of his rare, real ones.
"Yeah. Yeah, Raph. Ditto."
"Good," nodded his brother, an uncharacteristically softness flashing briefly across his expression. "Don't forget it." He moved to leave but turned back again, and by now his typical gruff face and tone were back. "You do realize that if you ever tell anyone about that I'll have to kill you?"
Donatello nodded gravely, successfully masking the playful grin that was desperate to reveal itself.
"Oh I know. I figured as much."
"Right on. Don't drive yourself nuts over the security mess, huh? Remember my idea about Leo."
Shaking his head in touched amusement, Donatello finally turned back to the problem at hand; staring thoughtfully at the jumbled mess of wires and power boards. Sighing, he dropped the screwdriver and returned to his work with his fingers; deciding to attempt it with his hands.
Unconsciously thinking back to Raph's words, he couldn't help but feel uplifted. It was true that he still really needed to get the back up system up and running, but the gentle reminder that his efforts never went unappreciated had tugged him back from the 'I'm going to rip this whole wall out' mindset.
Something he didn't reach very often, even on Mikey's worse days.
Humming distractedly he started running his fingers along the wires at hand, wondering how long it would take to unthread the mess and work them through an improvised separator.
Absentmindedly working out a kink, he yelped when sparks flew suddenly at his face, and the back up lights in the lab abruptly burst to life.
He let the wire drop back in disbelief, stunned that something so simple had been blocking him for so long.
"Uh huh," he muttered, blinking in the new, bright light. "Well don't I feel like a royal idiot."
Glancing around quickly, he smiled upon realizing that Raphael truly had gone, and his brothers nor his father were anywhere to be seen.
Some things were better kept to himself.