Part 1 - In the shadows



One night after yet another argument he went topside just to get away from the lair and Raphael for a few hours - to calm down and clear his head. Otherwise he only went up there some nights to get supplies, visit April or stop a few crimes - ninja vanish style. What his older, hot-headed brother and his youngest brother didn't know was that he still did nightly patrols, just not as often as or as many hours as they had all done before. Not while he had that job as an IT -support guy anyway.

He knew Raphael left the lair night after night and assumed he was out with Casey busting heads. Raphael seemed to presume that all Don and Mikey did was work, train in the dojo as per routine and had some serious downtime. Did he think that they had stopped caring about the topside world besides April, Casey and their other human allies? Don wondered as he sat there, as one with the shadows beside an old chimney. Ever since he had been appointed by Leo and Splinter to fill in as the leader while Leo was away, things had gotten more and more tense between him and Raphael and then the arguments started and grew more frequent.

In the past Don and Raphael sometimes had mini arguments that passed almost as fast as they came up if even that, which had been a stark contrast to Raphaels constant arguing with Leonardo about most things, but now it was so different. Too different! It was as if Raphael thought he needed to assert himself all the time and that Don actually wanted to be the leader. But far from it, Don had never wanted the job and nobody had asked him what he wanted, they just assumed he would – as always- step in whenever something needed to be done and hold things together somehow.

It had worked a year but when that year had passed and they stopped getting letters from Leo, the atmosphere in the lair had become tense and more serious. Master Splinter spent most of his time meditating or watching old Asian movies and day time soap operas these days. He'd speak of Leo sometimes, as if he would return home any day, just like that. But now it had been a year, four months and 2 weeks since he left. This had taken its toll on all of them, Mikey had been upset by it but tried to keep it inside until today when he was so upset he had to be soothed and reassured Leo would return before he could go to sleep.

Raphael had tried and managed to keep his cool until after they managed to get their little brother to sleep, then Don had urged them to go talk outside the lair as to not disturb Mikey or Splinter. Raphael had said a few heated words about what he thought of Leo's prolonged absence, Don had told him that he was worried about Leo but then...then Raphael had accused him of taking Leo's side like a good little Leo clone!

Don had a lot of pent up feelings he had kept to himself to not worry the others and Raphael's words upset him. But instead of yelling back at his brother, venting, he had said something curt with an exceedingly calm and cold voice before he turned his back to Raphael and left, ninja vanish style, before his brother could continue.

He heard his name called but just hurried his steps instead. He'd gone topside and now, four hours later he was still up here, in the outskirts of their usual territory, watching the city lights. Right then he didn't want to return to the lair, but he would eventually when dawn came. Raphael would no doubt still be annoyed at him for defending Leo and then taking off like that in the middle of a conversation. It was ironic, because usually Raphael was the one who'd take off in mid conversation if angered or annoyed enough. Don felt a bit guilty but thought he'd probably feel even guiltier if he had let his own dam burst and yelled back at Raphael.

"I tried to meditate but it just couldn't do it, I couldn't find my centre. I kept seeing images of what if scenarios of Leo killed by wild animals, by humans or in a plane crash trying to get home in my mind's eye. I've had nightmares about that and more for weeks, I also keep having this dream where Leo gets captured by Bishop on his way home and then buried alive after he's of no use to that creepy man. "

"I haven't told anyone about those dreams. I just can't. I used to be able to talk about things like that with my family but not anymore. Splinter keeps telling me that I have to be strong when my brothers are weak, but right now I feel so useless as a leader. "

"I couldn't even restrain myself enough to hear what Raphael was going to say or yell next. Not good enough. I can fix just about any appliances, decipher alien languages and hack into top secret files but I couldn't even keep calm when I spoke to my hot-headed brother a few hours ago. Isn't that ironic?"