A/N: Raph and Donnie need to still work out some issues, I think, and this seemed like this would be the way Splinter would make them do it. Don't you all agree?
In addition, Leo's assessment of Mario Galaxy (which is what Mikey is playing, by the way) is completely accurate. It's pointless and yet…you can't help watching.
Disclaimer: I own nothing here, and am making no profit off it of any kind.
Summary: What was supposed to be a simple exercise in teamwork quickly deteriorates into a brother's worst nightmare as two turtles must remember they can rely on each other. [Post-2007 CGI Movie, Raph and Don Centric.
Into The Fire
Leo could not possibly understand why he was still awake or—better yet—why he was even still sitting there, watching the funny little Italian plumber man in a red and blue jump suite rocket around at impossible angles and defy every law of gravity he understood, and even those he didn't. It wasn't like it was all that exciting, and yet he simply couldn't bring himself to pull his eyes away. "How long have you been playing this for, Mikey?"
"Today," the orange-clad Ninja grinned as he titled the controller that was strapped to his wrist to the side, making the little character turn with him, "or just in general?"
The older turtle watched in amazement as the game system, he thought it was called a Wii, responded to the movement of Mikey's wrist, "in general."
"About twenty three hours, dude, and still counting."
"All getting those little stars?"
"That can't be healthy."
"Stars make the world sparkle, Leo," Mikey laughed, narrowly avoiding falling off the edge of the couch as he leaned forward, "of course they're healthy."
Not for the first time, the eldest terrapin questioned what exactly had possessed him to think that leaving Michelangelo to his own devices had been a good one. In this universe or any other one that ever existed. "Dare I ask what the object of this game could possibly be?"
"Gather all the stars and fly to the center of the galaxy to rescue Princess Peach of course! What other object could a Mario game possibly have?" The younger turtle turned his head to grin at his older brother. "He's only been saving his one true love since, like, the beginning of time!"
"Sounds like a pain," Leo couldn't help but smile, folding his arms across his chest plate. "He should teach her some self defense or something."
Mikey out and out snickered at that, nearly missing his jump as he did so but somehow recovering at the last minute. "That would make it a VERY different game, bro. Maybe we should send that to Nintendo…"
Leo shook his head, not entirely sure how serious Mikey was being, and prepared to question his little brother further when some noise coming from the far side of the lair caught his attention. The blue-banded turtle pulled himself up from where he had been lying on the couch into a kneeling position, facing the back of the couch. "What is that?"
His younger brother paused the game, momentarily halting the music of his battle so he could listen to the muffled voices. He made a face before starting to play again, "there they go again."
The older turtle shot his brother a confused look, but didn't have to ask who he meant when 'they' excited Donatello's lab with the resounding crash of the door against the wall.
"I'm done talking about it, Don," Raph growled over his shoulder as he dropped down into the main room.
"Yeah, well, I'm not," unlike his more hot-headed brother, the paler turtle chose to take the stairs down, though he stopped halfway. "This childish behavior is going to stop. Now. And you're going to start listening to me."
Raph turned, his eyes narrowing dangerously, "you ain't got no right to tell me what to do, Donnie. I only got ta follow one leader."
"You only ever did," Donatello shot back icily," but I'm not telling you as a leader. I'm telling you out of concern. This isn't healthy!"
"You can stuff your concern, Don, I don't need your pity." The red-banded turtle turned around, heading towards the door, as his younger brother raced down the stairs after him.
Leo looked over at Mikey, who was now quite obviously trying to tune them out, with a slight frown. "Did this happen a lot when I was gone?"
"Every day, dude. Soon as Raph woke up."
He would have been lying if Leo said that Donnie and Raph had never fought before. They'd all fought with Don at some point or other, because it wasn't uncommon for them to take their frustrations out on the brother they knew could take it and wouldn't hate them for it. Even Leo had been guilty of that, sometimes, and Raph was the worst one.
But to get Donnie to raise his voice everyday? That was just unheard of. Usually, Don would just take whatever they gave him, understanding they weren't really angry with him, and barely looking away from his computer screen. Following and still yelling at Raph? New behavior to Leo.
"You can't keep doing this! You and Casey are going to get yourselves killed, you know that?" Leonardo watched, amazed, as Donnie voluntarily walked into Raph's range. He, personally, always chose to stay just out of reach when dealing with a temperamental Raphael.
More than that, however, the oldest turtle found his curiosity stirred by the apparent point of the argument. Donatello was upset with Raph and Casey's nightly outings. Leo used to hate it, too, but after the 'Winter's Incident'—as Michelangelo called it—he'd reevaluated what was worth a fight and what wasn't. He still didn't like Raph and Casey going out every night, but he knew they were careful and it helped keep the peace in their home by giving Raph something to do with his energy. Leonardo had decided that it wasn't worth the battle, but apparently Donnie disagreed.
With another frown, Leo leaned back to talk to Mikey again. "This happened every day while I was gone?"
"Well…not at first." Mike paused the game again, obviously resigning himself to helping Leo understand as he put down the controller and joined his older brother in kneeling backwards on the couch. "But Donnie wasn't you, dude. He couldn't be leader and brother at the same time. Eventually, he gave up the former, 'cause Raph wasn't listening anyway."
Wasn't totally illogical, although a bit unlike the stubborn Donnie that Leo knew. Once Don had gotten an idea into his head, it wasn't like him to let it go until he'd figured out how to make it work. That's what made him such a good scientist and strategist.
And having Don be leader HAD been Donnie's idea. When Leo had told his younger brother he was going to be leaving, ever the practical one, Don had immediately worked out that this would leave their little team without a leader. He'd told Leo that he didn't want Raph and Mikey to have to deal with the stress he knew came with Leo's job, because he doubted that Raph would want to and that Mikey could, and had voluntarily asked his brother to allow him to be leader in his place.
He hadn't wanted glory; he'd wanted to spare his brother's pain. In the process, he apparently more than doubled his own.
"But Raphie-boy here," Michelangelo continued, seemingly unaware of Leo's confusion, "thought that Don had given up being his brother instead. Probably because Don didn't go back to being, you know, Don. He was trying to be something that was like you and him at the same time. And trust me, dude that worked even less than leader Don."
"Obviously, Raph thinks he's still doing that," Leo mused, folding his arms on the back of the couch and resting his head on them.
"Only because he is," Mike muttered, mimicking his brother's move downward. "Used to be that Donnie would just bandage him up and not say anything. I think lecturing became too much of a habit for him. Sort of like…"
Leo shot his younger brother a dark look, which effectively cut off his sentence, and returned to observing the fight before him. He was prepared to jump in if either brother needed him, but from the sounds of it there was a lot his two younger brothers needed to work out.
The fight had continued while he and Mikey had been talking, and they both watched as Raph gave Don a hard shove. The slighter turtle took a step back to keep his balance, but didn't falter.
"It's none of ya business anyway, Don. I ain't lettin' you get away with thinkin' your better than me!"
The look on Don's face made his oldest brother's stomach give an unpleasant lurch. He recognized that look as the one his normally quiet brother got just before he exploded.
"I am not the one that insists on going out every night, putting himself in danger, as well as countless other people!" Donatello's fists were clenched now, his arms held stiffly by his side and head high as he continued, "I'm not the one who abandoned his family and teammates for his own twisted sense of justice and glory! In light of those things, I think I have a RIGHT to act better than you. Because I. Am."
"Oh boy," Mikey whispered, his voice somewhere between awe and exasperation, "now he's really done it."
Leo was vaulting over the back of the couch the same instant that Raph charged at the purple-banded turtle with a roar of rage. Donnie didn't dodge, instead planting his feet and taking the attack head on.
With a growl of frustration, the oldest turtle leaped into the fray—momentarily thankful that, for once, Raph hadn't been wearing his sai so that he wasn't going to have to deal with THAT problem—and immediately began trying to separate his two brothers. "Raph! Don! You two will get a grip, now!"
For all the good the yelling had done, Leo might as well have been asking Mario to come out of the TV and have tea with him. Raph simply threw his older brother aside, swinging his fist at Donnie's head, which the younger turtle expertly dodged.
"This has been a long time coming, dude," Mikey informed him as Leonardo hit the ground on his side. "It might be better to just let them work it out."
"The only reason that would solve anything," Leo muttered, getting to his feet and glaring at Mikey, "would be because one of them won't be living when they're done. And you only get one guess as to which one that would be. Now, get your shell over here and help me!"
Michelangelo frowned, seeming to contemplate this information, and Leo didn't wait for him as Raph let out another roar of rage—this one caused by Donnie catching a good chunk of his brother's arm with his teeth.
It wasn't something Splinter had taught them, but then Don had always been the one to fight dirty when he did get into fights.
Leo reached over and grabbed Donatello by the knot of his bandana, effectively holding his head in place, and hopefully getting his attention. "Donnie, let Raph go!"
The younger turtle didn't seem like he was going to comply, so Raphael took this opportunity to hit Don over the head with one fist. Leo was willing to bet that seeing stars had more to do with the turtle caught between him and Raph letting go than Leo's quick tug to try and move his head out of the way had.
"Raph, get a grip! Donnie…"
The blue-banded turtle once again found himself on the floor, this time caused by Donnie using him as a spring board to get the momentum to roll Raph over and land a good punch on his brother's beak.
"You're right about one thing, dude," Mikey observed in awe as he finally moved off the couch to help the stunned Leonardo to his feet again, watching as the now rolling pair knocked over a bunch of innocent chairs, "this is going to be a fight to the death."
Leo was about to comment, only too happy to point out to Mikey that this wasn't a good thing, when Splinter's door slid open. Both Leo and Mikey watched as their sensei surveyed the scene before him before calmly walking over to where the two middle turtles were still scuffling—now using the broken legs off one of the chairs as weapons.
With one swift motion, the aging rat managed to hit both the fighters over the head with his cane, stunning them both into stopping long enough to stare at him.
"Raphael. Donatello. You will tell me what this is about this instant."
As Leo and Mikey tentatively crept up to their sensei's side, neither eager to become involved in the punishment that would surely be forthcoming, both Raph and Don began speaking at once.
"Raph was being a neanderthalic prat as usual, sensei, coming back with his bike all snafued, expecting ME to fix it like some kind of robotic…"
"Don here got up on this high-and-mighty horse, thinkin' he's to good fer us, so I had ta…"
"Enough," Splinter held up his hand for silence, and the guilty parties immediately ceased their babbling. Even Leo and Mikey held their breaths unconsciously, still trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
"It seems to me," their father began once more, his tone betraying nothing but his sharp eyes narrowing as he eyed both his sons up and down, "that two of my sons have forgotten what kind of behavior is expected of them."
The two bowed their heads, both studying the floor as they slowly disentangled themselves and settled, with a winces, into kneeling positions.
"Since you were small boys, I have taught you that fighting in this manner is wrong," his yellow eyes fell on the still visible teeth marks on Raphael's arm and he shot a warning look at Donatello, "and, particularly, that you are not to fight each other. Do you remember those lessons?"
"Yes, sensei," came two mutter responses, Raph's a few seconds behind Don's, almost as if they were said on autopilot.
Splinter let a breath out his nose, and Leo heard Mikey almost cackle beside him, "They are SO busted."
"It seems, my sons," the rat continued, pacing in front of the two kneeling teens—something they all knew was never a good sign, "that a few refresher courses about respect for each other and our belongings is in order."
Here he gestured toward the damaged chairs that surrounded the pair. They followed his move, and both looked almost surprised at what they had done before glancing down again.
"I will fix them, sensei," Don muttered, looking particularly sheepish.
All four turtles jumped when their master banged his walking stick against the ground. "No, Donatello, you will not! For you will not be here to do so."
This statement was met with four wide-eyed stares, and Leo was fairly certain their father had paused there on purpose specifically so that it would be impressed upon them just how terrifying he could be when he was angry. It was sadistic, really, but even with that knowledge Leonardo couldn't help that his heart skipped a few beats as the rat looked at his two brothers with narrowed eyes.
"You and Raphael are being sent out for additional teamwork training," Splinter continued after that pause, and Leo felt that he could breathe again. "You will not return until the lessons I have taught you returned to your minds."
The two turtles in question looked at each other in surprise, and their looks quickly turned to disgust as they turned back to their sensei and started protesting.
"You can't really expect me to do training with this belligerent…"
"If you think for one minute that I'll put up with braniac and his…"
"He'll KILL me, sensei!"
"You're off your rocker! I won't…."
"I will here no complaints, my sons," Splinter cut in loudly, his reserve of patience obviously starting to deplete at a rapid rate. "My mind has been made up on the matter, and you will obey, whether or not you can see the wisdom. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, sensei," both Raph and Don rushed to assure him.
"You will be packed and ready to leave within an hour. Report to my room and we will discuss it from there." He turned to the two turtles who hadn't been in the middle of the ruckus, and Mikey immediately ducked behind both his brothers. "I expect you two will take advantage of this opportunity to clean up as much of this mess as you can, and perhaps learn some teamwork yourselves."
The pair briefly shared a look of confusion, and Leonardo could see Mikey was thinking the same thing he was. They weren't the two fighting, and nine times out of ten they had no problem working together. Still, if Splinter thought so…
"Of course, sensei," Leo bowed, and could just picture Mikey's reassuring grin behind him.
"You are dismissed." No sooner had he said this than his four sons scattered, two for cleaning supplies, and two to pack for the unknown that lay before them.