A/N: This is a follow-up to SAINW. I have been working on it for awhile, but after I read "Those Moments" by Princess Tyler Briefs (which is an excellent story along the same lines, only with Raph and Don) I decided I'd go ahead and publish this. So this is in no way stealing from Princess Tyler Briefs (I have talked to her about it), but if anyone reads this and feels differently, please let me know. And to those of you who are reading "Aftershock"... this is kinda of my "timeout" for that - I needed a little break. But no worries - I will continue plodding away at that one! So, without further ado...
Warnings: Just a lot of Mikey/Don brotherly love stuff... no slash or anything... just fluffy angst. And I would also love for all of you who read this to review - I do love constructive criticism! Even a "hi, I liked your story" will do for me... please, feed the starving author...
Disclaimer: I still don't own them. I doubt I ever will. Sad, I know.
Don sighed, rubbing his face. His eyes were burning from staring at the computer screen for the last few hours. He stood and stretched, feeling a brief burst of pain as some of his joints popped, followed by a strange, sweet relief. He stepped out of his room and headed for the kitchen, careful to be silent. It was early, and he didn't want to wake his brothers or his sensei.
He tried to hold in a yawn, and half-succeeded. He hadn't slept for the past three days. The truth was, he didn't want to sleep. If he went to sleep, he would dream about what he had experienced nearly a week before.
Don suppressed a shudder. The future he had visited had been absolutely horrible. Why on earth did he get to visit that horrible future? Leo had been able to visit with his old friend Usagi, Mikey got to experience his comic book dream, and Raph had succeeded in his first (and probably only) stint as a Planet Racer. What did he get? A bleak future where Shredder ruled the planet, Casey and Splinter were dead, Mikey was short an arm, Raph short an eye, and Leo… he didn't really know for sure, but he was pretty sure Leo had lost his sight because of the dark glasses he always wore. Not to mention all of the horrific scars on his brothers' bodies. On top of it all, his brothers hadn't seen each other for years, resenting each other, and only came together to fight one last time because Don made them. And then they had all…
Don shook his head slightly, trying to prevent himself from reliving their deaths. It hurt too much to think about it. He blinked back tears, wiping his eyes before heading into the kitchen.
He was surprised to see that he wasn't the only one up. "Hey," Mikey greeted through a mouthful of his thick sandwich.
"Hey," Don replied, hesitating. He didn't really feel up to talking to any of his brothers or his father yet. As soon as they had exchanged stories, he had disappeared into his room, claiming that an invention needed to be worked on. He debated on whether or not to just head back to his room, but his stomach overruled his mind with a loud protest. Suppressing a sigh, he began to dig through the refrigerator, trying to find something to eat and bracing himself for Mikey's inevitable onslaught of questions.
Once again, he was surprised. Mikey didn't say a word as Don fixed up a sandwich. He just sat and watched his brother, pulling an old chair out from the table so Don could sit. After a moment, Don plopped down wearily into the chair and began to eat. Even when Mikey finished, he just sat and stared at Don. Don eyed him every now and then. He noticed that Mikey had the beginnings of dark circles forming under his eyes, and he looked rather tired. "What are you doing up?" he asked finally.
Mikey smiled faintly. "Waiting for you," he replied simply.
Don froze mid-bite. "Why?" he choked out, hurriedly swallowing.
"Wanted to make sure you were going to eat sometime," Mikey told him, standing and rinsing his plate in the sink. He shuffled over to the cupboard and pulled out two cereal bowls. Don watched with interest as Mikey moved about the kitchen, pulling out the fixings for one of his "Super Simple Sundaes," as he liked to call them - ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. When he was finished he balanced the two bowls in one hand, then opened a drawer and pulled out two spoons. He slid the sundaes on the table, opting to give Don the one with a considerable amount less of chocolate and whipped cream. Don just stared at him, one eye ridge raised.
Mikey sighed, plopping back down into his seat and holding a spoon out to his brother. "If you're gonna try and pull another all-nighter, you might as well have some sugar to help you out," he said knowingly.
Don slowly took the spoon and took a bite of the sundae. He kept staring at his brother, enjoying the soothing feeling of the cold ice cream on his rather dry throat. Mikey stared at his sundae, eating it half-heartedly. "Thanks," Don finally said.
Mikey's eyes flicked up. "You are going to have to sleep sometime," he told Don. "Leo was about ready to track you down when you didn't show up for practice today."
Don sighed, mixing the whipped cream, chocolate, and ice cream slowly into a thick milkshake. "I just… need… more time, I guess," he said softly.
"It's been almost a week, Don," Mikey began gently. Don glanced back up, eyes flashing. Mikey hesitated, noting the anger on his brother's face.
"It's a lot easier for you to get over your dimension than it is for me," Don growled. "I bet you'd give anything to go back, wouldn't you?" Mikey didn't respond, staring down at the table again and pushing his ice cream around with his spoon.
Don's anger slowly ebbed away, and he pondered over Mikey's strange silence. It wasn't like Mikey to be this quiet, even if it was early in the morning. Come to think of it, Mikey had been kind of mellow in his telling of his adventure. Raph seemed overtly eager to tell his tale - he did have an exciting time as a Planet Racer, after all. Leo, too, was glad to tell his tale, as he had rather enjoyed his time with Usagi, even though he had gone through plenty of danger to protect Lord Noriyuki. On the other hand, Don had rushed through his explanation, not too eager to dwell on the possible future timeline. But as he thought now about it, Don realized that Mikey had also hurriedly explained what had happened to him, although he dwelt for a long time on the fact that Casey was a mild mannered assistant to April, of all people. Casey, who had been present for the tales, was not hapy, and had threatened Mikey to death by hockey stick if he didn't stop laughing. He had spent the rest of the time muttering angrily about wimpy assistants. Definitely an alternate reality, Don thought wryly. His thoughts became sober. But nice compared to what he went through in my dimension.
"No," Mikey suddenly whispered, jerking Don from his thoughts. Seeing Don's confused look, Mikey added, "I don't want to go back."
Don blinked, shocked. "Why? I would've thought that seeing us as superheroes would've been real exciting to you." Compared to the alternative, he added silently.
Mikey shook his head. He opened his mouth and hesitated, as if deciding whether or not to speak. Finally he murmured, "I think… I think… I would rather go to where you went."
Don's jaw physically dropped. The spoon clattered in his bowl as it dropped from his limp fingers. "Wh-what?" he spluttered. Mikey kept his gaze averted. "Why the shell would you want to go there? It was horrible!"
"At least they cared!" Mikey exclaimed, looking at Don fiercely. "At least you weren't alone!"
"What are you talking about?" Don asked incredulously. "You weren't alone! You had the alternate versions of us!"
"Yeah, the alternate versions - not you," Mikey replied. "I mean, yeah, Griddex was Raph, Gravi-Turtle was Leo, and Shellectro was you, but… it wasn't you." Don merely stared at him, puzzled. Mikey sighed and ran his spoon through his steadily melting ice cream. "They weren't us. I mean, Casey was a wimp, Splinter was -" He suddenly stopped, appearing to choke up.
"Splinter was what, Mikey?"
Mikey didn't reply for a long moment. "Evil," he whispered finally. "Splinter was evil. He was Sliver - the arch villian. The Super Turtles' most hated enemy."
Don blinked, stunned. Mikey had failed to divulge that little detail earlier. Master Splinter… evil? It didn't hardly seem possible. "Still… that sounds a shell of a lot better than where…" Don trailed off.
Mikey looked back up at him. "At least where you went, you were treated like a brother."
"What do you mean?"
"They missed you. They gladly welcomed you back. They followed your plan without question. Where I went… they didn't need me. Sure I helped save the city and stuff… but they didn't need me. At least, not emotionally. They weren't missing a member of the team - Blobboid was there, Grid, Grav, Shell - they were all there. I didn't fill in a hole. I was just… an assistant. Not a brother," Mikey muttered.
Don laughed hollowly. "You don't get it, bro - that was the whole problem! You guys followed me without question, and you all d-" He couldn't finish his sentence past the lump in his throat.
"Died? So? How's that so horrible?" Mikey asked.
Don gaped at him. "You all died because I screwed up! I couldn't think of a better plan! That's what makes it horrible!"
"From the sounds of it, your plan was perfect - you killed Shredder and stopped his evil regime," Mikey replied, leaning his chin in his hand again.
Don felt himself growing angry at his brother. "You just don't get it," he growled.
"No, you don't get it!" Mikey snapped back. Don stared at him, shocked. "They followed you because they wanted to. Not because you made them. They knew the risks, because there's always been risks. We've always had risks, bro," he finished in a more gentle tone.
They were silent for a while. "Why do you suppose ice cream's considered a comfort food?" Mikey asked, slurping up some of his puddle of sundae.
Don tilted his head. "What?"
"I mean, do you think that it's the sugar in it or something? Or just the fact that it has a lot of calories?" Mikey continued.
Don shook his head, chuckling. "Mikey, you amaze me sometimes," he said.
Mikey grinned. "I have that effect on people," he quipped. Don laughed. After a moment, Mikey quietly asked, "What was I like?"
Don froze, staring at him quizzically. "Huh?"
"What was I like? You didn't ever really talk about what me, Raph, and Leo were like where you went. Why were you so relieved that I had both my arms when we met up?"
"I don't really wanna talk about it," Don replied, standing and taking his bowl to the sink.
"I bet I was devilishly good looking, with loads of secret admirers in the resistance," Mikey laughed. "Quick with the nunchuck, and quicker with the pranks."
"I said I don't want to talk about it," Don growled. His hands were starting to shake as he washed the dishes.
"And I bet I could've beat Raph hands down with one hand tied behind my back," Mikey added, seemingly ignoring his brother.
"That would've been hard, seeing as you only had one arm!" Don exclaimed angrily, whirling on his brother. Mikey froze as Don loomed over him. "You never laughed. You had lost your left arm, and you were covered with battle scars, and you… you never laughed. You were serious and determined all the time," he finished quietly, dropping back into his chair. "And Raph and Leo were so mad at each other that they were ready to kill each other before I came." He covered his face with his hand and took a shuddering breath.
He looked up when he felt a hand on the top of his head. Mikey's face was less than a foot away from him. "Look," he whispered removing his hand and showing it to Don. "It's still here." Don shakily reached up and grabbed it. Mikey gripped his hand tightly. "We aren't going to have that future, Donny."
"How - how can you be so sure?" Don choked out.
"'Cuz you're here," Mikey replied simply. "We're a whole team, and we're not going to let Shred-head take over the world. Ergo, that future won't come to pass."
"But what if-"
"You can't waste your life worrying over 'what if's, Don. We're a team. We'll deal with whatever challenges come our way."
"But what if the next plan causes one of you to die?" Don murmured. "I don't want that to happen."
"There's always going to be that risk, bro," Mikey replied. "There's always that possibility that a Purple Dragon will have a gun and will pull off a lucky shot. Or that the Foot will one day just be too good. We've always had that risk, and it's not going to change." He fell silent for a minute, his face completely serious. "Remember when we were on D'Hoonnib?"
"How could I forget?" Don replied, raising an eye ridge and wondering where Mikey was taking this conversation.
"Well, there's a time where everything seemed to be going wrong. We didn't know if Master Splinter was okay in that tank, we didn't have a clue who the Utroms were, we didn't know where the shell we ended up, and we didn't know how we were going to go back. Then when we found Professor Honeycutt, we thought we had our ticket home, only he got taken by the Triceratons," Mikey said, releasing Don's hand and rocking back on his heels so he was sitting on the floor.
"Mikey, why are you telling me this? I was there, I remember," Don said, looking down at his brother, annoyed.
"And then we ended up getting shot down before being shot at and going to the Triceraton home world in a cargo bay with no oxygen. Then, when we try to bust out, Raph decides to go and get himself thrown in solitary, so we had to go save him, and then we end up getting sent to the games, and when we finally do rescue the Fugitoid and build his teleportal thingy, the thing's a dud!" Mikey finished.
"I know, Mikey. What's your point?" Don asked tiredly.
Mikey got to his feet and looked Don right in the eye. "My point is, oh genius brother of mine, that pretty much everything that could've gone wrong, did go wrong. And we still ended up helping the Utroms return home, even though the whole memory-machine thing went all wacko and nearly killed us. We stopped Shredder from getting his revenge, caused a building to be completely destroyed, and still managed to get out alive. So in case your big brain hasn't quite figured it out yet, stuff goes wrong all the time. It always has - and we're still here, aren't we?"
Don sighed and sat back in his chair, a faint smile starting to pull at his lips. "Who are you, and what've you done with my brother?" he joked softly. At Mikey's quizzical glance, he explained, "You're being way more serious than normal."
"Meh. It's early - give me a break!" Mikey quipped, sitting back down in his chair. "Even I can have an off day."
Don leaned forward and put a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Thanks, Mikey," he said softly. "For - this. It helped. A lot."
Mikey grinned. "Enough so that you'll sleep?" he asked seriously, despite the playful look on his face.
Don thought about it for a moment, then nodded once. "Yeah, I think so."
Mikey relaxed. "Then get to bed. We're supposed to spar tomorrow, and I don't want to beat you too badly," he said, pulling Don to his feet.
Don snorted. "You look dead on your feet, bro," he replied. "I bet I could still beat you."
Mikey shrugged. Then he grinned slyly. "But I'm the Battle Nexus Champion - I don't need as much sleep to win."
Don rolled his eyes and groaned. "There's the Mikey I know. I wondered when you were going to bring that up." He flung an arm around his brother's shoulder and eyed him warily. "When's the last time you slept?"
Mikey grinned. "Too long ago, bro. Too long ago. I think it's long past time for bed."
As they made their way towards their rooms, Don softly said, "The calories."
"I think the calories is why people consider ice cream a comfort food," Don told him. "I mean, something that good, that high in calories - what's not to like?" He paused, then added, "Of course, good company makes it a lot better."
Mikey nodded, too sleepy to reply. As Don collapsed onto his bed a few minutes later, he sighed contentedly. I still can't help but shake the feeling that something big is coming - something that could change us forever. But Mikey's right - that future will not happen. I simply won't allow it. And with that, Don fell into a blissful sleep.
A/N: So... the ending didn't quite turn out as I had planned, but for those of you who weren't aware, "Exodus" (the big battle with the Shredder) takes place two episodes after this. I thought it would be fitting to drop a hint towards that, because, after all - it was a very big episode (well, pair of episodes, actually). And as for Mikey rather wanting to go to the bad future instead of the comic book... I could personally see him wanting to be there, just to be with his "real" brothers. But that's me. If you have comments regarding it, please leave a review. As I said, I love constructive criticism - I'm not a big fan of harsh flames, but... whatever. I can deal. So, please, feed the starving author! I do so love reviews!! Thanks for reading!