Leo came out of the dojo, stretching and smiling with that calm look on his face that meant he'd just run through a workout of like everything they had ever learned and felt all self-satisfied by it.

Mike didn't mind, though, because at least he was there now. At least someone was.

"Leo!" He jumped off the couch. "Hey, Leo! Good workout? Need ointment or anything? I should make us some lunch, isn't it close to lunch time? Want a burger? Maybe I could call April to bring us some burgers."

Leo stopped just outside the door, brows lifted, amused eyes on Mike. "Okay, what did you do?"

"Nothing!" Mike reached his side and grabbed his arm, tugging Leo towards the kitchen. "I'm bored! It's quiet in here, and me and quiet are not friends, Leo. Not even, like, nodding acquaintances."

Leo chuckled. "Alright, alright. I'll hang around while you make some lunch."

"Oh, like it's such a chore. I'll make you something too."

"Deal." Leo's eyes shot to the side as Mike pulled him on. "Let me guess."

"All day, Leo! Holed up all day like they're actually doing something or something! And I know they're not."

"How do you know that?" Leo didn't seem too concerned.

Mike rolled his eyes. "Because! Don's in there being all smart-research-boy, and what's Raph gonna do that's smart and researchy? He's just being weird."

Leo's smile faded a little. "Leave them alone, Mike. Maybe he's just making sure Don's not overworking himself."

Mike heaved a sigh. No one understood the injustice of the current situation like Mike did. He cleared his throat and raised his voice. "So, Leo!"

Leo jumped and pulled his arm free. "What are you shouting for?"

"Guess you got all worked up after practice! How about some food!"

Leo stared at him.

Don's door opened and shut, and Mike turned to see just what he knew he would - Raph, all glowery, marching up to them.

"Okay, Mike, enough. I told you, he's working. He's got a lot of stuff on his mind, and he don't need you shouting all over the place, distracting him. Now stop it."

Mike raised his hands, even as he sent a smug look Leo's way. "Genius-boy's always managed to work around my shouting before."

"That's because he had no choice. Now I'm here making sure he doesn't lose his focus. So shut up."

Mike nodded.

Raph glowered at him, then turned. "Yo, Leo." He headed back to Don's room without a pause.

Leo stared after him, and turned wider eyes back to Mike. "What was that?"

"That's what he's been doing for days! You don't notice, 'cause…well, 'cause I'm the only one loud enough to get him mad. But he's all overprotective towards the nerd, and I don't get it!"

Leo shrugged, his surprise fading too fast. "Mike, remember where they were a week ago."

Mike rolled his eyes, knowing what Leo was getting at. "Come on, it's not like Don was near death and Raph's all traumatized. He just hit his head a little."

Leo blinked at him, waiting.

Mike sighed. "Alright, alright. Trauma. I get it. I just…" He moved to the fridge and jerked it open, frowning at their rather limited ingredients. He wasn't particularly hungry, but it gave him something to do, and he was just annoyed enough to want something to do. "I just want my pal back."

Leo's voice was low, close behind him, when he answered. "Which one?"

Mike turned to him, shutting the fridge. He wanted Raph to leave Don's room and watch TV with him, or jump into random wrestling matches, or something. Or he wanted Don to come out and try to force him to watch some documentary on TV, or build him another model car. Anything.

"I don't know. Both of 'em." He sighed, feeling the pout forming. "They don't even like each other."

Leo smiled, patting his arm in consolation. "They love each other, Mike. But don't worry, I'm sure it won't last."

Mike blinked at him, and his mouth twitched up instantly. "They love each other? Oh, ew! Really? Is that why they're all shut up in the bedroom?"

Leo gaped at him, then burst into laughter. "That's not what I meant, you idiot." Though for a moment his eyes went to Don's door and the laughter faded into thoughtfulness.

Couldn't have that. Leo didn't laugh enough. And…

Hell, Mike was the first to admit he didn't give a crap what his brothers were doing together, just that they were shut away and he wasn't in there with them, and he needed a playmate, damn it. That was how he rolled.

Leo's grin was a sudden and welcome reminder that he did have a fourth option. He smiled and threw his arm over Leo's shoulder. "So!"

Leo looked at him sidewards. "So?"

Mike grinned. "Wanna sneak into Raph's room and find out where he's hiding that old stuffed bear he thinks we don't realize he still has?"

Leo rolled his eyes, but hesitated and glanced at Don's shut door. "Yes, Mikey. Yes, I do."

Raph shut the door and sighed to himself. Idiot. Mikey was his best pal and all, but damn. The kid got so antsy when the spotlight wasn't shining right on him. Raph was happy enough to oblige usually - because Mike really was a fun guy, and Raph liked hanging out with him.

But he was starting to appreciate silence, too.

Don looked over, face glowing pale in the light from his monitor. "Okay?"

Raph nodded, heading back to Don's bed. He dropped on it, grabbing the book he'd left behind. "Go back to work, it's all good."

Don's eyes stayed on him for another moment - he could feel them, all thoughtful and silent and deep - but he went back to his work.

Studying online wiring charts for alarm systems, Raph knew. Don tried to explain it to him in more detail, but Raph's head was crammed full of the book he was slogging through, so he didn't bother trying to understand.

Something about security, something about the lair. That was all he knew. But it was important to Donnie, and that's all that mattered.

He looked at his brother for a moment, at the still and focused attention he was giving the computer. Nodding now and then, his breath changing as he read something new or understood something different.

The guy really liked learning things, Raph had come to find in the last few days. It wasn't just that he was smart and liked to show it off. It was that he got a real, sincere buzz out of teaching himself something he hadn't known the day before.

That wasn't the kind of thing that made Raph buzz that way, but he was trying.

He made himself comfortable against the wall, leaning on Don's pillows, and with a small sigh he read.

The words still looked strange to him, but he did appreciate that unlike the first couple of days reading he wasn't constantly bombarding Don with questions about what every other line meant. He figured there were some things he wasn't picking up on, but he was getting better at it.

Made his head hurt after a while, but damn it, he was trying.

His brow furrowed as he read, and the room fell into the same comfortable silence it had been in most of the day.

So this dude was sent to England because he killed one of the king's pals. The king set him up so when he got to England the king there would kill him, but dude figured out what was happening, rigged it so his two traitor pals got killed instead, then…

Apparently his ship got attacked by pirates and they took dude prisoner, but dude promised to do them a favor someday so they let him go. And now he was going back home, and nothing was accomplished at all, and what the hell was the point of it?

He sighed and turned the page.


He looked up. "Mm?"

Don's eyes were on him, and he was sitting like he'd been watching him for a while.

Raph set the book on his lap. "You okay? Head hurting?"

Don gave a faint smile. "No. I'm alright. Are you…?"


Don hesitated, drew in a breath.

Raph looked back at the book, unsure he wanted Don to go prying into things. It was fine when they just sat there and did their own things. Raph shut Mikey up, Don explained Shakespeare to him when he needed it, and that was fine.

Now Don wanted to talk, and damn it.

"What are you doing in here?"

Raph heaved a breath. "Trying to figure out why your pal Shakespeare didn't write the play about Fortinbras instead."

Don blinked, and his smile grew wider. "That's not what I mean."

"Well, it's what I'm doing. Hamlet's getting on my nerves."

"You'll like the way the play ends, then."

"Yeah?" Raph went ahead and took that as an end to the conversation, and hauled the book up to his face again.

"You don't have to do this."

He lowered the book. "Do what?"

Don's eyes were on the wall over his shoulder, not on him. He looked sheepish. "I don't remember everything about…"

Raph shrugged. "Concussion. Memory loss. You diagnosed it yourself." Satisfied, he raised the book again.

"But if I said anything…"

Raph sighed. He set the book down. "Look, Donnie. You didn't say anything, really. Just…I kinda figured out that things weren't the way I thought, and…"

"What do you mean?" Don spoke fast, the words rushed.

Raph blinked at him.

He wasn't bright like Don, but something was going on in his brother's head he hadn't figured out. "I just meant…" He shrugged, watching Don carefully. "I've thought for a long time that we didn't hang out 'cause I was…you know."

Don met his eyes at that, his brow furrowing delicately.

Raph pushed out a breath. "'Cause I'm all muscle and you're all brain. You know?"

Don nodded slowly. "But we're not. You're smarter than you give yourself credit for, Raph. And me…" He smiled suddenly. "I bet I could take you down in a fight."

Raph laughed. "Brave words, Donnie."

"Yeah, well. Give me a little more time to recover, and we'll see."

"How much time, brain?"

Don grinned. "A few years from now we'll probably be safe to try it."

He laughed again, louder. "Uh huh. Show me the page in these nerd books that says concussions take years to get over."

"I'm sure I could find you a website that says so."

"Didn't you once say you could find a website that claimed there were giant mutant animals in New York sewers?"

Don blinked, chuckling. "Yeah."

"See? They'll put anything up on the web. I need a more reputable source."

"I'm not reputable enough?"

"Donnie, you're threatening to take me down in a fight. I'd say that makes you suspect."

Don grinned.

Raph returned it. He glanced down at the book on his lap, and the grin wavered. "Nah, I know you're not all brain. I mean, you've saved all our asses a few times."

"Yeah." Don looked down, smiling.

Raph's smile returned - Don was kinda cute when he was all shy. "But that's the thing. You could spar with me anyday, but I can't exactly come in here and…I dunno. Read these books and talk to you about websites and stuff."

Don looked up again, his head tilted. "What do you call the last few days?"

Raph hesitated. He blinked. He looked down at the book.

Don stood up suddenly and padded to the bed, sitting down beside Raph. "You like Fortinbras more than Hamlet, huh?"

He shrugged, wondering if that was a stupid thing to say. "Hamlet's spent all this time being pissy and making speeches and not doing anything. Fortinbras had a dad die too, and he isn't sitting around. He's leading an army and kicking ass." He gestured to the page, feeling his face warm as he talked. "And here's Hamlet calling Fortinbras dumb because he's going out to fight for a little piece of land that isn't worth anything, but he's missing the whole point."

"What point?"

Raph wondered if Don could feel the heat radiating off his face. Fortunately he was too dark to blush noticeably. Nothing more awkward than talking about something he didn't quite understand in front of someone smart enough to understand perfectly.

"It's not about the land. It's about honor. The minute Fortinbras lets Poland get away with taking this little piece of land he's sending a message. Hamlet? All he does is give ground. 'Oh, this dude killed my dad, so let me rig up a bad play and kill some old guy who had nothing to do with anything, and let him go on being king and boffing my mom', right? The first time he coulda killed the guy and froze up, he gave up ground."

Don nodded, thoughtful. "Hamlet's criticized a lot for over-thinking things for so long that there's no ending possible but tragedy."

"He should be. This guy can't operate on instinct, he doesn't need to be king anyway."

"Instinct, huh?"

Raph hesitated at that, drawing in a breath. "I dunno, maybe I'm wrong."

Don leaned in and kissed him.

Raph drew back, surprise making him move before he could even think. He opened his mouth to squawk but shut it again.

Don regarded him with those solemn eyes.

Raph cleared his throat. "Uh."

"I really didn't say anything that day, did I?"

Only because he was so close could Raph see the nervousness in his brother's face. He hesitated, baffled. "What, about…? Uh. No."

Don smiled, but it looked sad. "I wondered if you weren't spending time in here out of pity."

Pity? Raph blinked.

Don swallowed. "Don't feel like you have to pity me now." He stood.

Raph grabbed his arm. "I don't get it."

"Yes, you do."


Don sighed, but smiled. "Raph, you're not stupid. You get it."


Don pulled away from Raph's hand. "Yeah. There are a lot of 'buts'."

"You'd get bored with me," he heard himself saying, and his hand dropped to the book on his lap. "I can't talk."

Don chuckled. "You'd get bored with me first. I'm not exactly Casey Jones."

"What? Who said I had a thing for Casey?" Raph straightened, but after a moment he realized what Don meant. "Oh. Hell. Me and Casey tire each other out after a few hours. I don't think I could be real close to another version of me."


"No buts." Raph grinned suddenly, the book heavy on his lap. "I've just read four acts of a guy arguing against doing what he wants to do. I've had enough of that crap."

Don blinked, and met his eyes. After a moment he smiled, bright and awed. "Really?"

If he were being honest with himself, Raph had to admit he wasn't sure. He was still kind of in a state of shock about Don kissing him. There was a lot there - like everything about Don, there was a lot worth thinking about.

But Raph, as much as he was slogging his way into the fifth act of Hamlet, wasn't much like Don. He liked his instincts, and he trusted his gut.

And when Don bent his head, all shy and upset, Raph wanted to put a stop to it. He trusted that. He also trusted that he'd been distant and resentful for a lot of years because he thought he wasn't sharp enough to hang around Don. And hell, there had to be a reason he was so upset by that. Right?

He spoke confidently in answer. "Really. I might need a little time to adjust to…" He grinned. "Okay, time's up." He tugged Don back down to the bed.

Don sat, smiling so big it made his face glow.

Raph figured there had to be a quote in one of those plays that was pretty enough to describe that look. Maybe he'd just keep reading until he found it.