In a matter of responsibility

"What?"

"Well could you?"

Teal grey eyes stared at the form of the elder, more substantially physically built turtle in front of him. What was he--no, why was he asking him this? Why now of all times?

Surely he'd paused to consider the implications of distress such a question could pose? The after-effects of such thoughts that could be planted from posing such a thought?

"I...I..." Donatello sighed as he glanced down at the ground in deep thought, brow furrowing.

"Could you handle everything if I weren't here?"

What a horrible thought. What a blaintently horrible thought.

It was to wonder; what did his brother mean? Did he mean if they were dealing with alternate universes? Alternate birthing orders perhaps? Events that transpired not as they were supposed to?

What did Leonardo mean?

"I...what?"

"Donny," the elder sighed "Yes or no, little brother, could you handle everything? Could you keep this place running?" He asked,

"Wha? How so?"

"Well, Could you keep everyone more or less in line? You know, could you handle it?" the blue bandanna wearing turtle sat on the chair opposite, preparing himself, obviously, for a fairly prolonged stay in the intellectual's room.

Donatello just continued to stare at him strangely. Why was he asking him of all the family members?

Shouldn't he be consulting this with their sensei? Or, in a manner of sense, be asking this from the second oldest sibling, Raphael?

Why was he asking him?

It wasn't that Donatello was afraid of choosing a 'wrong' answer, per say. He just had to question the validility of Leonardo's choice in asking him on such a matter. Keeping people in line. Keeping a family in line. Surely it couldn't be logical to discuss such a matter with one of the youngest family members much less direct an entire topic to him personally.

Why would Donatello be prepared for such a question? Why would Leonardo ask? Leonardo never asked anything like this; such matters were the unofficial responsibility of their father, if and when they occured.

The eldest never asked anything of the younger's--especially not the 'weakest' of the ninjas, not unless something were to transpire.

Donatello could only blink and swallow.

Realization sunk in slowly, like a dead weight over a sea of dark, mysterious tar.

"You're leaving." he stated in a quiet, deep breath.

"Training,"

"Pardon?"

"Training." the elder repeated "I'm training, not leaving Donny. It's a six month ordeal."

Sketchiness was Leonardo's speciality, it seemed.

Donatello's mouth curled wryly as he continued to stare down "Whichever; you still won't be present."

An obvious fact.

Logically Donatello should have been emotionally prepared for this; Leonardo seemed to be a situational empath, always taking the smallest problem into his responsibility and unwillingly blowing it out of proportion.

Why should this bother the younger turtle?

Was it the fact that he'd actually had to figure it out by himself?

Or was it simply the time period that Leonardo had stated.

Donatello swallowed again, features softening into a neutral yet noticably upset look.

Periods of abscense. How long had they ever really been:

An hour?

A day?

Either way, it was never more than a week.

Six entire months...he could only imagine what it would be like.

No eldest sibling to look to for solice.

No big brother to confer with and ask or advice.

No being in general to confide in.

In short, no Leonardo.

He swallowed the lump forming in his throat.

No Leonardo.

That was it then. He couldn't have another problem.

How could he possibly handle it? He couldn't go to Raphael with such matters. The angriest of them would probably just grunt and nod, or give him useless advice about toughening up and preparing to fight--a trait that the mildly pacifist scienctist couldn't do for matters un-related to self defence.

And he couldn't possibly go to Michelangelo; he did have an 'image' to maintain. Although he was still learning, he did want to have his only younger brother feel comfortable around him. Comfortable in the sense that he could know that he'd always be there to watch out for him, as they all did.

Basically, he felt Michelangelo too young for some of the problems he faced; problems that weren't trivial anyway.

Donatello let out a slightly staggered sigh

"So what have we done this time?"

"What?" Leonardo blinked at the question, amber eyes glittering with confusion,

"Their must be a reason: training. What have we done to distress you?" Donatello embelished "Did we not practice hard enough? Have we...have we unintentionally come into contact with some unspeakable danger that you want to be able to handle mostly by yourself? Why? Why leave now?"

The younger stifled a sniffle. He absoloutely refused to cry over this.

He had to refuse. If he broke down now, he'd never be able to deal with "never having another problem"

Silence followed.

Donatello swallowed again "Why Leo?"

He struggled to keep his voice from cracking.

Silence continued all the same.

Leonardo shifted, eyes slowly closing.

"Because," his voice was quiet, and truthful "I'm not good enough."

Donatello just responded with a sullen, disbelieving expression. He swallowed again, considering asking for an elaboration, but found his words were sticking and digging into the back of his throat.

"I'm not good enough for you guys," the eldest responded, as if reading his mind "I'm not the so called fearless leader you all seem to have labelled me." his mouth twitched wryly at that, curling into a cynical smirk of self pity "But I can be...if I work hard enough at it." he concluded, more to himself than to anyone else.

Donatello just continued to look at him, face continuously contorting as he faught to keep back the emotions bubbling inside of him. The emotions that threatened to burst at the slightest push.

For the life of him, he couldn't make out what in the world Leonardo meant. When did he suddenly become so self doubtful?

Surely it couldn't have happened during one of his and Raphael's fights?

It wasn't possible. Leonardo and Raphael may have had their differences, they may have fought and complained with and about each other like their was no tomorrow, but neither of them ever wanted to see the other's confidence staggered.

It was a matter of familial respect of course.

"That's..." the younger of the two choked out between sniffles "That's...that's just..." he sputtered and sniffled again.

"That's just, what, Donny?" Leonardo asked calmly, slowly opening his eyes to gaze at the other with soft sympathy.

Donatello shook his head furiously; bandanna tails whipping against the back of the air as he pressed his now overly wet eyes into his forearms, which in turn took to resting on his now drawn in knees.

"No. What is it?" Leonardo insisted gently as he moved off the chair to kneel and face his younger brother.

He seemed too well prepeared for this; it was almost as if he wasn't surprised with his behaviour. As if he'd expected nothing less than a childish tantrum of emotions from Donatello.

Donatello mumbled something that was incoheretly laced with a reluctantly released sob.

"Come again?" Leonardo asked once more. That same gentle tone of voice becoming fully noticable as he leaned in to gently put his arms around his brother.

Another sniffle escaped the more noticably upset of the turtles "s'just rubbish..." another soft sob was heard as he leaned his face closer against Leonardo's chest, which in turn sparked the older one to tighten his hug like grip around Donatello's shell.

All that for the vaguest of vague answers.

"s'just rubbish..." he carried on, voice cracking horribly "You-you never-I mean I never thought-I-You and Raphael you never-and I..." he took a breath to try and atleast form a sentance that made sense. One that wasn't littered with constant stuttering or interuppted by a cough or sob.

Even if it were in vain, he wanted to keep atleast a shred of his own resolve.

Leonardo just held him close, supporting him physically and emotionally as he tried to form words. "it's not you guys..." he assured in a gentle murmur.

"m-must be..." Donatello choked "i-it's...it's never anything else."

Leonardo just sighed again, drawing him closer into his chest "Donny..."

In all honesty, Leonardo could say he'd never seen his younger brother like this.

He was normally so calm and seemingly secure. He seemed happy.

Inwardly, he couldn't place the sudden shift in emotions.

Yet all the same, he wouldn't let himself be put off by it. He couldn't afford to: it'd do more harm than good.

It was a natural trait with Donatello; if you left him alone while something was bothering him, he wouldn't let it go as quickly as he should.

Like any idea for an invention, or a blue-print at the least, he'd hold onto it. Obsess over it. Let it slowly eat him away inside.

He wouldn't let that happen. He couldn't let that happen.

"Donny..." he murmured again; only barely catching the attention of the younger, more distraught teenager currently wound up tightly against his chest.

Soaking wet teal grey eyes looked up at him once more. Shimerring in a manner that mimicked light dancing against steel; or more relatively, hope against pain.

Leonardo took the sight of him in, and shook his head with a sigh. Hand going to the back of the purple wearing turtle's head to gently coax his face back into his body "Nevermind...it doesn't matter."

"n-no, wh-wh-"

"Nevermind, Donatello." the elder cut his whimpering off. His voice put across a vibe of love, yet subtle disappointment.

Unfortunately, Donatello picked up on the disappointment and swallowed once more, looking down. To his shame, he couldn't keep back his now significantly muted sobs.

He looked utterly weak. He felt completely helpless. An annoyance...excess baggage...an overall baby.

It took him a few minutes to register that he was being moved; Leonardo was standing with him still in his arms, causing the younger to drape his limp arms around his big brother's neck, unconciously falling into him closer.

"L-Leo..." Donatello whimpered,

"Ssshhhh..." Leonardo gently patted the back of his brother's shell, before laying him down on his own bed.

This caused Donatello to whimper once more, trying to voice out to him, make it known something was amiss.

"Just go to sleep, Donny." Leonardo soothed.

The older teenager put a hand over his present baby brother's eyes; as if blocking his sight would mask the pain of him leaving the room.

A sniffle.

Moments in darkness.

And then a mild groan as he started to wake back up.

"what...?" he began to murmur croakilly as dried tears became painfully obvious against his sticky cheeks.

Sleeping. That had to be it, he must have been sleeping; Leonardo must have sent him to sleep some how.

A sigh escaped as he came to terms with that fact; ofcourse. That age old trick...Leonardo had thought of that when the four of them were much younger--just having one of them being held while their sight was blocked by whatever figment plaugued their oh so fragile imaginations in the dead of the night.

Amazing...that was Leonardo in general though; amazing.

His glazed over grey eyes widened in realization.

"Leo!"

Staggering out of bed and clumsilly tripping over his all but too tightly tucked blankets, he began to run; feet noisilly thundering against the floor in the process.

He could have walked, he could have sauntered if he'd liked.

But how in the world could he possibly have made ammends?

A crash, a clutter, bang, bop and thud later; the position in which the fourteen year old turtle landed was anything but graceful.

"Donny?"

A blush of embarrassment enveloped the wearer of purple. For two breif seconds, all was quiet, before the younger of the two brothers bounded up, like a starving shark leaping out of water indesperation for it's next meal, and hugged around Leonardo's neck fiercely.

To say the least, the oldest sibling had dropped his travel bag in surprise. Amber eyes were hard with confusion and registration, they softened however when realization slowly melded into him.

"It'll--"

"I can try,"

"What?"

"I can try," there was a slightly stronger voice, a slightly stronger personality at work behind those words.

Leonardo had to pull him back slightly, just to gaze at him. No, it was the same Donatello; just having grown a little bit.

"Just do me proud, ok?" the blue wearer asked as he pressed his own forehead into Donatello's,

"Ok," a nod with a souful smile. It was his usual smile actually, the smile that you would only have to glance into and know that you could trust the wearer of it without question.

Leonardo only held him for a moment; to spare him the grief, he supposed.

Despite his high of realizing his newfound maturity, Donatello couldn't help feel that all too familiar ache in his chest as he watched his eldest brother leave the lair; that hole in the pit of his stomach...

That tight sense of loss.

A sigh...and all was quiet; no more Leonardo.

"Hurts."

"What?" the purple clad turtle whirled around, eye-sight snagging his still older, red-wearing brother.

If red was the penultimate colour of anger, then he was just perfect for the part; Raphael.

Even his name bled danger; just that sharp snap of phonics in one's ears; Raphael.

"Hurts, don't it?" Brooklyn had always been his trademark grammar scheme "Seein' him walk out the door...all high and mighty,"

Donatello gulped slightly as the red-wearer spat furiously with a growl

"He got nerve...leavin' you with it. That baggage; all on you..." for a moment, Donatello could swear he saw pity slowly creeping into his second-oldest brother's eyes; as rare as it was, he could have sworn it was there.

Raphael shook his head again, mouth quirking to the side with a growl as he left "Nerve..."

And once again he was alone, only now he looked just a little bit taken deflated.

"Funny..." he mumbled, staring at his now twitching toes "I knew I'd have to grow up..."

Yet the young turtle never suspected that he'd have to at the age of fourteen.

The end.