TMNT, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, and LeatherHead © Mirage Studios
story © Turtlefreak121

Flicker
Chapter Ten: Good Day

One mistake, as Michelangelo saw it, was that he had never felt a reason to define what a good day meant before the situation with Don started up. Had never had to think of what started a good day before.

It wasn't really a term which anyone could agree on, let alone predict.

But unlike everyone else, Mike still looked for them with the excitable and perhaps naive perspective that they were still there, that they could be found even while things around them – while things around Don – seemed to fall apart around them.

A good day, if Mike could have placed such a thing in comprehensible terms, was a day where everyone in his family was safe. It was a day where everyone was present and together, maybe doing their own things, but known to be healthy and happy.

It was a day where Mike could pull out his video games or comic books and spend hours in his own little world without the tickle in the back of his mind working over his concern for the others.

The lair had been a rather dark place lately, but Mike could sense that it was the dawn of a new day from the moment he set foot outside his room.

After all, Leo had said the night before that he and Don were going to visit LeatherHead. He had said that he had a plan. And if there was one turtle in the world that Mike could trust to come up with a good plan, to make everything safe and secure for them, it was Leonardo.

Raph could seethe the phrase "turtle luck" as pessimistically as he wanted that day, but Mike wasn't about to listen to him. Not about to let anyone bring down his bad mood.

So Mikey did not blink twice as he sat down beside his brother for breakfast.

Donatello stared absently at him for a few moments as Mike eagerly grabbed the cereal box on Don's side of the table and took it for his own. Mike smiled at his brother pleasantly and poured his cereal into the bowl waiting for him.

"Good morning, Bro!" Mike beamed as he put down the box and then grabbed the carton of milk.

Usually Don would sip coffee and give him a gentle nod before ignoring Mike's barbaric take on table manners. But on this particular good day, Don gave a full, albeit sleepy, smile.

"Morning to you, too," he offered in return.

"Come on, Donnie," Mike responded with a smirk. "It's more than just morning.Today's a good day! A great morning!"

For a moment, Don's expression fell into something more quizzical and alert. Then a certain nervousness tainted the expression and he bit his lip. "Am I… Forgetting why it should be?" he asked lowly.

"It's going to be a good day because I feel like it's a good one already," Mikey assured him quickly before taking a pause to chomp onto his spoonful of cereal. He then slipped the spoon through his lips with an audible pop before waving it at his brother. "And I bet if you tried real hard, Don, you'll feel the same way, too!"

At the statement, Don blinked. He then leaned back in deep though and pondered it. His smile returned. "Yeah, I guess it can be a good day. No reason not to be yet, right?"

"Exactly!" Mike yelled out exuberantly as Leonardo passed through the door.

"Okay, I think we're ready," Leo informed Don. "I just want to grab a quick bite." He then paused and stared at the bowl Mike was using. "I'm not even sure why I'm surprised."

"First come, first serve, Leo," Mike said with a laugh before holding up the bowl and pretending to not notice the splashes of milk falling to the table. "Want some?"

Leo returned Mike's look dully before rolling his eyes. "No, it's fine. Just lost my appetite." He then looked over to Don more determinedly. "Come on, Don, let's get started. LeatherHead said he's got everything at his place ready for us."

Mike watched as Don's eyes lit like fire crackers when he was reminded of the task for the day.

"Right, let's get out there," Don said. "I'm ready to find this thing."

"We all are," Leo responded somberly before nodding again to Mike. He led Don out without another word.

Mike huffed and sloshed another spoonful of cereal into his mouth as he thought about the situation carefully. "Hope the thing Don's looking for isanswers and not the stupid keys still."

Before the thought could go an iota further, though, Mike shook his head and rose to his feet. "Positives, Mikey," he chided himself. "It's a good day."


But, of course, sometimes good days were also boring days apparently.

Mikey could count all the major events that happened before two-thirty that afternoon on just one of his three fingered hands. They also happened to not involve him directly.

He laid on the couch in silent discontent when he heard a loud growl and a slew of curses.

In the dullness of laying flat on his shell on the couch, Mike had almost forgotten that the lair could be amiss of noise outside of the occasional movement from Splinter's room. But, somewhat fortunately, Mike had been so wrapped up in boredom that his body was too stiff to jump into the air like his instincts called for.

"DAMN CAT!" Raph's voice boomed before Klunk came flying out of Don's bedroom and took off down the stairs and out of sight.

To suppress his explosive laughter, Michelangelo had to bite his lip and just watch Raph stomp around from downstairs.

"Get a leash on your cat, will ya?" Raph growled at Mikey. "He just about broke the computer screen chasing a stupid spider. A spider! Why can't he go after something worthwhile? Like a cockroach?"

"What's it matter? You're scared of both," Mike shrugged, hoping his brother wouldn't notice the amused glint of his eyes.

"What'd you just say to me?" Raph snapped.

"Oh, you heard me, Raphie!" Mike laughed, leaping up to his feet, rejuvenated and freshly free of bored stiffness. "What're you gonna do about it?"

He might have been literally asking for it, but Mike still did not contain the shrill scream as his brother dove for his waist. It gave him only seconds to grab the pillows from the couch and begin whomping his brother's head with them as they hit the floor shell first.

"Don't you remember what sensei always taught us?" Mike warned as they rolled on the floor. "Never mess with a master of Pill-Fu!"

"The only thing you're a master of is being a pain in my shell!" Raph snapped, continuing to wrestle and topple Mike, but his voice lacked any trace of malice, and there was a subtle crack to his smile that Mikey was privy to.

There was a certain joy in the struggle, in the normalcy of their arguing and both of them could feel it.

They only stopped when the paper doors to Splinter's room slid open with a click and their father stood expectantly.

"I have heard enough," he said, pointing toward the door. "If you wish to be loud, I will ask you to take it outside so that I may meditate further."

"Fine by me!" Raph chirped before leaping to his feet. "I need an excuse to bust outta here anyway." And though they had been locked arm and arm just seconds before, Raphael through a glance Mikey's way. "You coming?"

"Bro, you know it!" Mike returned as he scrambled to his feet as well.

Master Splinter shook his head and closed the door behind him, but Michelangelo and Raphael gave him little mind. For the first time in so long they weren't weighed down with concern and fretting uselessness.

Things were normal.


To both Mikey's great relief and his even greater surprise, the fight and clobbering did not continue outside the lair.

Instead, the two brothers silently walked with one another through the familiar sets of tunnels. A maze to anyone outside of their family, but for them a consistent pattern block by block, old memory by memory.

"Remember when I wrecked Don's bike here?" Mike asked with a lighthearted laugh. "he never let me ride it again. Of course, I guess we should've figured out I was better on four wheels than two."

"Nah, you suck at four, too," Raph smirked before giving Mike's shoulder a shove. "But at least you're not as likely to fall over." As they got closer to the exact spot, though, the scratches and scrape of old metal and chipped paint from the bike became more self evident and Raphael whistled, low and impressed. "Geeze, Mikey. How'd you even manage that one?"

Shrugging, Mike couldn't help but laugh. "I don't know, dude. But it was fun.Y'know, until the whole near-death thing."

At the very mention of death, Raphael's relaxed expression hardened, cooled, and he glared off.

Mike sighed and shook his head. "You're gonna have to get over that, Raph."

Turning, Raph glared back at Mike. "Get over what?" he asked sharply.

"The whole scowl thing when you're thinking about Don," Mike answered, growing as serious of an expression as he could manage. "I know it goes with your whole Me Against the World vibe, but it's really starting to grate on everyone's nerves. Well, more than usual. And it all seems like you're irritated with Donnie."

"I am irritated with him," Raph responded before looking off. "Sorta. It's just… It's hard to explain. And I think I have permission to be just the tiniest bit pissed, Mike. He's just… not himself anymore. And I just haven't been able to make anything of it yet."

"Oh, come on," Mike groaned with a roll of his eyes. "Just have the tiniest bit of compassion and it'll take you far with… well, whatever's going on in Don's head right now."

"Yeah, I'm not the one who tried to treat this first like all Don needed was for us to act like everything was normal," Raph pointed out sharply. "Only now Leo's acting Mister Savior on us and taking up the lead. Getting to the bottom of all this and making the rest of us – those of us who actually acted like something was up the whole time – to sit on our damn thumbs."

"Yeah…" Mike sighed, rubbing at his neck as they came to another corner. "Yeah, I know. But at least Leo's being proactive!"

"Proactive my foot," Raph snorted before coming to a stop. He glanced around the tunnel before narrowing his gaze on Mikey. "Why're we here?"

"Huh?" Mike asked intelligently back before looking around. He blinked a few times before the familiar tunnel clicked – the shortcut to their childhood home laid before them. "Oh, weird. I totally forgot… No, that's not true. I didn't forget. I guess it's just… I don't know, hardwired into our brains to go this way," he said, tapping on his skull. "No matter how many years pass."

Raphael looked down the tunnel, unmoving. "I guess," he said lowly.

Humming slightly, Mike crossed his arms. "Kinda makes you think… I don't know. Maybe that's how it happened to Don? Just the hardwiring junk. Walking on autopilot. We'll always try to get home."

"That's the thing," Raph replied with a shake of his head. "It means Don's not thinking. And I just…" He sighed and pinched the bridge between his eyes. "A Don not thinking just is someone who isn't Don to me."

They stood silently for a few moments more before Raph turned and led the way back home.

Raphael didn't say much of anything, and with the whole idea of their feet taking them subconsciously where they wanted to go, Mike was forced to bite back on his tongue to keep from asking just why his brother was in Don's room earlier.


Unlike the trip away from the lair, the trip back home was silent and cold. Not even Mikey attempted to break the silence until they were through the door.

Before either of them could see the others or before they could overhear a conversation, the mood already told them that they had left Mikey's good daychecked in at the door.

They looked to each other before carrying forward toward the living room where Splinter and Leonardo sat.

Don was absent from the equation, though some noise of movement could be heard upstairs.

"What is it? What'd LH say?" Mike questioned worriedly.

Raphael's jaw was sternly shut and he simply stared at Master Splinter and Leonardo expectantly, as if nothing short of an explosion was going to come from his mouth.

When the silence lapsed for a moment too long, Mike hugged his arms against his chest. "What is it, guys? You're freaking me out!"

Finally, Leo took a breath and buried his face in his hands.

"It's cancer."