Michelangelo lazily skateboarded through the lair

Michelangelo lazily skateboarded through the lair. His brothers seemed to hooking up some big thingamajig in one corner of the lair. He wasn't sure what it was, but Don insisted that it might help them find Splinter. Mike wasn't sure what to think about that. A small part of him thought that if anyone could find their Father it was Don. Don knew more about the virtual world than he or any of his brothers. He probably knew more about it than Serling.

Mike knew he should be helping his brothers bring in the equipment that Donatello needed, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. For one, Don was replaying the scene of Splinter getting vaporized over and over again. Mike figured it was Don's way of punishing himself and Don didn't need an audience for that. But if Mike was honest with himself, the main reason that the turtle would rather skateboard than help is because he didn't think it would do much good. Why get your hopes up for something that wasn't going to happen? Splinter was dead.

Those words reverberated in Mike's mind.

Splinter was dead. Sensei was dead. Father...was dead. We all saw him explode into a million pieces. You can't put a million pieces back together no matter how smart you are.

When it had first happened, he and his brothers stood in a state of disbelief, not sure what to do next. It was Raph who had recovered first. He yelled at Leo that they had to go back for him, but Leo didn't seem to hear him. The two of them were so caught up in their own so shock, that neither of them heard Don blame himself. And while no one accused Donatello of killing their father, no one bothered to disagree with Don's statement either. Mike couldn't fault his brothers. He had heard Don blame himself and he didn't contradict his brother even though he knew it wasn't Don's fault. Not entirely anyway.

Another turn, another circuit around the lair,

Mike dodged his brothers carrying more heavy equipment toward Don's workspace.

It had taken Leo a few minutes to shake off the initial numbness of the situation, but once he did, he was all business. The first concern was security. They had to make sure that Viral had no chance of infecting Serling and killing the rest of them. Donatello and Raphael had taken care of that part while Leonardo and Mike went to check out the lair. It had been some time since they had been there and they needed to make sure the lair was still secure and livable.

Mike didn't talk to Leo the whole time, other than to acknowledge Leo's orders, and Leo didn't seem to realize Mike was there most of the time. Michelangelo had felt for his brother. In the span of a few seconds, the weight of the world, their world, had dropped straight onto Leonardo's shoulders. Without Sensei, they all knew Leo was in charge now. This had happened several times before, but this time, it was for good. Splinter was dead. It was something they all knew was going to happen one day, but still they weren't prepared.

Several hours later, their home secure, Leo sat down with the rest of them and fired off questions for Don and Serling. Was it possible to find Splinter? What did Don need to get started searching? How could they help? Raph had immediately jumped on board because now they were doing something. They would find a way to get Splinter back.

Donatello answered each question with a slow, deliberate tone, as if having trouble keeping his voice even and Serling's voice was line with guilt. But even those emotions were just below the surface. They had all matched Leonardo's tone and demeanor-- calm and business-like. There was a problem and they were going to fix it.

Mike didn't buy it.

There was no fixing this.

Another turn, another circuit around the lair.

The impromptu family meeting completed, they went to their separate tasks. Don and Serling started giving lists of needed equipment that Raph and Leo hustled to find and bring to the lair. Mike had started by helping, but the stifling silence between his brothers drove him to find something else to do. However, there was nothing to do and this is how he found himself skateboarding. He was so adept at boarding that it didn't take much concentration to keep him upright. As long as he retained a small amount of conscious attention to keep from crashing, the rest of his mind could wander where it wanted.

And his mind wandered toward his father. He barely heard his brothers' grumblings that they could use his help. It was kind of like meditation. On wheels.

Did Splinter suffer? It seemed his death was pretty sudden. And what had happened to him? Did he join Master Yoshi? Or, were his atoms just scrambled in the virtual world that he wasn't dead as much as just…gone. Mike rather preferred to think that Splinter was hanging out with Master Yoshi right now. That would make his father happy.

Another turn, another circuit around the lair.

Splinter would never have regretted how he died. He had died saving his sons, something that he had been ready to do many times before. Mike found some measure of peace in his father's heroic death. Maybe they should start thinking about a memorial of some kind. He looked over to his brothers and decided that now would not be the best time to ask. His brothers were still trying to find ways to raise the dead.

Mike wondered if he said 'Splinter is DEAD', if they would stop. Probably not. No one seemed ready to admit that. Not even Mike, unless it was in his own mind.

He whispered to himself, "Splinter is dead," just to see if it would make it more real. It didn't. What his mind knew, his heart refused to accept. Quietly, "Splinter is dead. Splinter is dead. My father is dead."

His eyes blurred.

Another turn…and he didn't see Raphael.

The skateboard was momentarily out of control as he spun around Raph and Leo who were carrying the latest of big thingamabobs to Don. A few fancy moves and he was upright again, but it seemed Raph had enough of his brother's skateboarding.

With a quick fling of his sai, the skateboard's wheel locked and Mike crashed into the wall.

He scowled at Raph and opened his mouth to yell to Splinter that Raph was trying to kill him again. The turtle closed his mouth, not looking at Raph's self-satisfied look because now he knew what it meant to feel with his heart that his father was dead.