Quiet Concentration

The lair was quiet. It was a quiet Donatello usually longed for; needing it so he could concentrate on his latest gadget. He ran his hands over the smooth, round surface of the latest and greatest project he had been working on as if trying to remind himself why he had begun to make it in the first place.

He stared at the orange ball in his hand; but his mind wandered out to the empty lair. The empty, quiet lair. Raph had gone out long ago, or so he assumed. Raph was never in the lair anymore, often staying the night with Casey. Anything to avoid the lair.

Splinter didn't watch his shows anymore. Donatello never really understood what he had seen in those shows with their ridiculous plots and fickle romances, but he suddenly found himself wishing he'd hear the TV flick on and the Days of our Lives theme start. It would have begun nearly ten minutes ago, but Splinter would probably do what he normally did these days: sit somewhere quietly and meditate, and he would never know if Erick was the father of Donna's baby, which had once been so important.

And Leo… Donatello didn't know what to think about Leo. He never came out of his room anymore. Since that night, Donatello had seen him only at night when he entered the dark room to make sure Leo had something to eat. Leo was always sitting in that corner with a faraway look in his eyes, not even acknowledging his brother's intrusions. His face is usually hard to make out in the dark room, but what dull features Donatello is able to make out makes him put the plate down quickly and turn away. It doesn't seem like Leo. It never looks like Leo. The images burn into his mind; haunting him, but not so badly as the other image… of…

He shook his head quickly, bending down to the round orange ball. It was supposed to be a power cell, but it wasn't working right. It needed a bit more fine tuning…

"Hey Don! What you working on?"

His careful fingers faltered slightly. Thinking back to just a few days ago with a small smile.

"Not now, Mikey, I need quiet. This is delicate work."

"Can I help? Is there something I can do?"

Donatello turned his head away from his work as he heard Splinter's door open. The lair was so quiet, he could hear his master as he walked quietly into the kitchen. Then all was quiet again. Donatello sat still for a while, straining his ears to pick up any minute noise his master might make. When the kettle whistled suddenly, it made him jump and nearly drop the power core. After a few more moments, he could hear Splinter make his way up the stairs. The squeaky step groaned slightly under Splinter's weight. Finally, a door was opened, then quietly shut.

Donatello knew instantly that Splinter must be in Leo's room. He was slightly relieved; he hoped Splinter would be able to help Leo and guiltily, Donatello was glad he wouldn't need to bring dinner to Leo tonight.

"Hey guys, I'm going out for a bit! Save me some dinner!"

Donatello had been glad seeing Mikey walk out the door, beloved skateboard tucked under his arm. It meant there would be a few hours of peace and quiet for a change. During dinner, Raph had done his best to eat more than his share, trying to make sure there was none left for Michelangelo when he got back. For a moment, Don thought about the racket Mikey would make when he came back in a couple of hours to find there was nothing saved for him; but then joined in.

It wasn't until dinner was long over and everything put away that Leo began to worry. He'd always been a bit overprotective of their little brother. Raph and Don knew better; Mikey had just lost track of time. He'd be back in time for his Friday Horror Movie Marathon.

It wasn't until the credits started to roll on It Came From Another Planet that they really started to worry. Raphael grumbled that Mikey was just playing some prank on them, but didn't object to coming with Donatello and Leonardo to look for him.

They split up. To Don, it felt like they searched the familiar tunnels for hours before Raph's voice came over his Shell Cell.

Don. Get over here. Now.

He knew it wasn't going to be good. Something had happened so he thought he had prepared for the worst. He made his way to Raph, his light first shining on Raph who stood straight and stiffly, arms crossed in front of him. He was looking away; at first, Don had assumed it was because of the light in his eyes.

As he lowered the light and began to ask what was wrong he saw it. Not too far from where Raph was standing, with his back turned, was a green leg. "Mikey!" Don ran past Raph who didn't move, shining his light up higher towards his brother's head. "Mikey, what's wron-"

The question caught in his throat as the beam came to his brother's head, catching just on the edge of the light rats scampering away. He felt his stomach flip; there was so much blood. "Mikey!" He knelt down quickly, grabbing his brother's shoulder. His cold, stiff shoulder.

It was something out of a bad dream. It didn't feel real. Don knew Leo had come up behind him, had said something to Raph, then had seen. He could hear Leo asking him rushed questions, but Don couldn't answer. He just knelt there and waited to wake up.

Only he didn't wake up. Numbly, he searched for a pulse, knowing it wasn't there, but not wanting to believe. Things had to be done, but what? Had they planned on this? Had they trained? Raph found the skateboard a few feet away. He must have fallen and cracked his head open, but Leo had already begun to blame himself like there was something he could have done. Like there was some foot ninja he could have fought.

Donatello was never quite sure what had happened. Mikey was just too skilled to have simply fallen. At the time it was the furthest thing on his mind; it was unlike him to not look at all the angles. Since that day he'd thought of going back, seeing if there had been something – there had to be something there. Something that would had tripped Mikey, something that had given out from under him.

But he couldn't bring himself to go back.

They had argued quietly for a bit on what to do with the body. They couldn't leave it there; where the rats were already just waiting for them to leave. But to bring it back to the lair where Master Splinter was waiting for their return didn't seem right. No one would say it, but no one wanted to be alone with the body, either.

They hadn't saved him any dinner.

In the end, they decided to carry the body back carefully. Don had never known Mikey to be so heavy. Leo went in first, to prepare Splinter for what they had found. It was the last time Don remembered hearing Leo speak.

They prepared a mat on the floor and laid their brother upon it. Don had been so certain washing the blood away would be left to him, but Splinter insisted. So he was left with the phone calls as Raph wouldn't have thought about it, and Leo didn't seem capable at the moment. When he heard April's tired voice come over the phone - asking why he was calling so late at night and already hearing the concern in her voice - he suddenly didn't know which job was worse.

At first he couldn't say anything. Sat there with the phone at his ear, as if saying it would make it true. Even now, he couldn't clearly remember what he finally said to her, couldn't remember if he cried. He thinks he might have. Whenever he thinks back all he can see is his brother's body sprawled out on the ground. His head is never clearly there, the flashlight wasn't bright enough. And if it starts to move up towards… his… head…

The power core falls out of his hand onto the floor. The small clunk that sounds as it hits is like a bomb going off in Donatello's ears. He jumps up off his chair, then quickly looks around to see if anyone had seen his startled response.

But the lair is quiet. Perfect for working on a power core. He bends down and picks it up, examining the damage. It's extensive, might as well throw it out and start afresh. The lair is quiet, so he can concentrate and maybe make an even better one.

Don stares at the core for a long while before finally rubbing his eyes with his fingers. He lets out a long sigh, before setting the core on top of the goggles it was going to power. The two clink quietly together and the sound echoes in his mind. There's really no point to finishing them now. After all, Raph didn't like video games that much and it's not like anyone need a virtual reality game to keep them out of his lab and quiet. Mikey had enjoyed the games he had played so much in the future; maybe Don could have made one decent enough to entertain him. The goggles blur in his vision.

The lair is quiet. Too quiet to concentrate.