Alright, so most of you are rolling your eyes and saying "Another Turtlefreak121 story" to which I gladly say "Yes, indeed." I like to write. In any case, this one is actually more or less a dare I got on AOL over writing angst and Donatello centric. I gladly accepted the challenge and, considering my other current works are what people would like to paraphrase as "peculiar," I decided to go ahead and give this one the green light. So, without further ado, here is Flicker.
Little more ado…
TMNT, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, and the Foot © Mirage Studios
story © Turtlefreak121
Chapter One: The Key
The pressure of his own skull seemed to keep his head spinning. He felt enclosed within himself, stuck within some indescribable bubble. He could not escape the funk of this entrapment and it made even his body stiff.
He rubbed the side of his head as he looked over it again.
Blue line, blue line, blue line – over and over again. He could not turn away, he could not face any other obstacle just yet. He had to concentrate on the lines, the directions until the image was taken from his hands.
"It was a simple overlooked error, Donatello," LeatherHead assured gently before offering his hand yet again. The highly intelligent crocodile simply smiled at his confused expression and pressed the offered object into his palm. "There is no reason to be ashamed of a simple mistake."
"Yeah, I suppose so," the turtle responded with a disdainful sigh, still eying the rolled up schematic before accepting the offered object in return. He looked at the key to the newly improved Sewer Slider, the one that was waiting to be driven home, to be tested out now that it was completely fixed.
The turtle glanced to the machine resting by the garage like entrance to his friend's lair. It was such a simple fix, too. Donatello should have been able to do it himself. He had developed the Slider from scratch, after all.
"I'm not ashamed, by the way," Don came to correct his friend. "I'm just not sure how I forgot something so simple as calibrating the fuel tank."
At this LeatherHead laughed. "My friend, perhaps it was because the answer was so simple that you neglected it."
Don did not bother to dispute his fellow scientist. He knew full well that he would be incapable of translating his sense of loss to the gentle crocodile. On the other hand, Don had been feeling this unsettled state all day if not longer than that. He knew something, anything, was not right.
"What time is it anyway?" Don questioned as he finally received his much desired schematic as well. "I just remembered that I was supposed to pick up a pizza for everybody back home. Guess they had to wait longer than they expected."
"I do wish you had told me you were running short on time," LeatherHead murmured to himself before glancing down to his watch. His brow like ridges formed a thin crest and mouth upturned to a definite frown. "I suppose they went to bed without dinner at all."
"What?" Don asked in confusion before crossing to LeatherHead's side, looking at the time for himself. His eyes widened as he realized his error. "Eleven? Already?"
Sighing, LeatherHead nodded and maneuvered himself so that his young terrapin friend could better see the watch. He was looking over Donatello carefully as though he was beneath the crocodile's microscope.
It was a look that Don did not like but decisively chose to ignore. "I should get home, I guess I'll have an angry and hungry Mikey to look forward to if nothing else," he sighed as he tucked the schematic beneath his arm. "And perhaps an even angrier and hungrier Raphael to look forward to!"
His dear friend, however, simply continued his scrutinizing gaze over Donatello. He seemed so intent on discovering something. He was so intent in fact that Don could no longer ignore the piercing gaze from him.
"Something wrong, LeatherHead?" he asked, mocking as much as it was in concern.
"Yes," the crocodile stated before grunting. "You."
"Me?" the surprised turtle countered. He folded his arms as he cocked his eye ridges.
"Yes, you have been acting very strange as of late, my friend," LeatherHead announced as he slowly walked around the turtle, gazing upon his body. "I am unsure of what it could be but for some time now you have been leading to many concerning matters with your work. Are you not getting enough sleep? Are you perhaps doing too many at once?"
"Is this about the calibrations?" Don sighed. "Look, LH, I'm embarrassed but they were just like you said: errors. And everyone can make errors every now and then, right? That's what science is all about! Having a concept that one corrects."
"You have never been incapable of correcting your own mistakes before, Donatello, not on this low of a magnitude at least." Sighing, LeatherHead looked back toward his own lab. His expression softened more as the concern overwhelmed his features. "And it is not simply the calibrations, Leonardo has told me that frequently in the lair you—"
Having heard enough, Donatello rolled his eyes and made his way toward the hovercraft sled. "Oh, so you've been talking to Leo," he scoffed. "Well, that explains almost everything about this conversation."
With that, the turtle slid into his driver's seat and laid his schematics aside, starting the engine with the new key. "You still have the spare, right?" Don questioned.
"Yes, of course," LeatherHead sighed before stepping toward the machine. "Do be careful, Donatello. I do not wish for you to grow ill while you are driving or—"
Groaning, Don leaned against the doorframe and smiled knowingly at his worrisome friend. "You have been talking to Leo too much, LeatherHead. I'm absolutely fine," he assured the crocodile. "You said it yourself, I'm probably just overlooking things. I'll be more careful from now on."
He raised an eye ridge. "Shall you be placing anymore aluminum foil in the microwave?"
The turtle's cheeks flushed a violent red. "He told you that?" he questioned before pressing the button to his right, starting the propulsion of the Sewer Slider and gearing him toward leaving. He smirked. "Eleven at night or not, Leo's so going to get it! See you around, LeatherHead!"
"Farwell, Donatello," the large reptile sighed as the Slider took off through the opened gate.
The candle's small yet vibrant light swayed ever so gently as a rush of air entered the Lair. The aging master studied his flame and silently awaited the entrance of his long awaited son. He had sent Leonardo to bed not long beforehand, assuring the eldest that his wayward brother would be appropriately dealt with.
Now, however, he waited with much patience. It was not the master's style to go to his children so much as it was to allow his children to come to him.
At the time Donatello was in his lab, his entry point, with no clear line of vision to warn him of his father's stirring nor the reverse to warn his father of Don's peculiar aura. And it was truly a peculiar one this evening.
That bizarre hole in his heart seemed incapable of filling and the more Don pondered on it the less he felt it had to do with his mishandling of his projects. No, rather, Don felt it was something within him missing entirely.
He had no idea what this mysterious missing essence could be, though. He was simply baffled.
With much disdain, Donatello parked the hovercraft in its corner and reluctantly removed the keys. It felt so disheartening, how missing a single piece of the large craft so effectively dismantled the whole. The feeling was all too familiar for the turtle.
Reluctantly, the scientist once more opened up the rolled up, crumpled diagram and scanned over its ever square. How was it possible that he made such a simple mistake and it not seem to register time after time again when he looked over the machine for himself?
Once more something so important appeared to be missing from him, something that would have caught this scientific travesty long beforehand. Oh, how he wished he knew what it was.
"Alright, LeatherHead was right," he grumbled to himself before tucking the schematic back into the passenger seat. "I've been letting this get to me too much." Climbing out of the vehicle, he made his way toward the bookshelf behind his desk and smirked at the new key in his hand.
"I'm not ready to let those three trash this baby," he chuckled to himself. He looked to the shelves and begun his almost ritualistic counting: three shelves down, three books over. "No, I'm going to have to keep you hidden so no one takes you out for a 'test run.'"
He almost cringed at the very thought of his brothers' most unhelpful 'testing' of his experiments. He dreaded any time that one or more of the three sheepishly approached him with their hands behind their backs unsuccessfully concealing a sparking item.
"Here we go," he said gently to the key before removing the third book. "Right here behind Mr. George Ellis." He shook his head at the dull read. His brothers thought that any 'smart' literature would pique the nerd-turtle's interests. Unfortunately, Before the Beginning did no such thing for Don.
He hummed to himself as he looked about the room. He furrowed his brow. What could he have been forgetting?
"I'm always forgetting something," Don mutters before shaking off the nagging and becoming subdued by his own tiredness.
He placed the key quietly toward the back of the empty space on the shelf before filling the space with the missing book. He smirked; amused by the fact that he had a secret ridden bookshelf in his laboratory.
Turning, the turtle was prepared for bed until he saw the warm glow of his father's candlelight.
"Oh, no," he moaned before turning off the lights within his lab. He had been preparing himself for a speech from Leo but Master Splinter was a different issue entirely. He had assumed too much, though, and now was stuck with his father without an exit strategy.
Not that he would have been able to use it or even have considered doing so in reality.
Sighing, the turtle made his way to the living room where his father patiently sat at his favorite chair, the candle resting in its stand on the end table. As soon as Don had taken his first entering step, Splinter's ears flickered toward him and the old rat looked halfway around to gaze on him.
"Ah, I see you have returned home for the night, my son," Splinter stated coldly. "I am glad."
The words cut deeply, causing Don to flinch. There had been rare situations in which Don was on the receiving end of his father's biting anger and they had all caused the turtle to become almost physically sick with worry. He hoped this would not be similar.
"My apologies, Master Splinter," the youthful turtle countered as he neared his father. "I lost track of time at LeatherHead's lab. I have good news, though! We fixed the Sewer Slider so—"
"Your brothers and I were very concerned, Donatello," Splinter interrupted, his eyes more directly toward his son with every word it seemed. "We attempted to call you but you had left your phone here."
Embarrassed, Don felt his cheeks flush yet again. Here was yet another thing that he had forgotten! "I did?" he questioned. "I'm so sorry, Master Splinter. I didn't mean to, I promise."
Releasing the sigh of relief bottled up beneath the hot air of anger in his chest, Splinter shook his head. He was so glad for his son's safety. "It is fine, my son," he assured Don before looking to him with a frown. "But all is not right I sense."
Feeling his aggravation rising once more, Don tilted his head to the side and sighed. "Have you been talking to Leo or LeatherHead?"
"I have been investigating within myself, Donatello," Splinter corrected, folding his hands over his lap. "I sense that not all is right with you, my son. I simply do not know how this is."
Rubbing his face, Don could no longer solve the itching within his body, the overwhelming irritation with everyone's concern. Regaining his composure, however, led to the turtle to lower his hands and smile at his father.
"Maybe I'm just working too much," he offered candidly. I guess I'm just stressed is all. It will pass."
His father did not appear at all convinced, simply more concerned. "Are you certain this is what has been bothering you?"
Studying Don once again, Splinter seemed determined to prove that Donatello was in more harm than he let on. For a moment or two, Don was concerned that the old rat had found something on his person to prove that this hypothesis was correct. Nothing happened, though.
Looking at Don, Splinter sighed and nodded. "Very well then, Donatello. Please rest well and overcome this presence of frustration. I shall see you in the morning."
"Thank you, Master," Don cited before bowing obligingly. "Good night."
"Good night, my son."
As Don made his way toward the stairs, the old master leaned forward and gently but ever so swiftly blew out the flame that had been battling to keep alive for so long. Flickering, the small light held tightly to its wick before silently extinguishing.