Raphael glared and dug his steadying hands into Donny's shoulders.
"There's no line, Donny. There's no line that you cross over once and then you can never go back. You blew up because you saw somebody threatening your family, and you acted to protect them. You didn't have a choice to do anything else. There wasn't a damn way out, there wasn't anything else to be done. Those bastards were the ones who murdered somebody that night. Those bastards were the ones who captured us and wouldn't let us go. Hell, Donny. You didn't have any more say in killing that night than Mikey had in dying. What you did wasn't wrong. Those bastards would have lived if they had walked away. We were the ones who were trapped. We didn't have a choice."
Donny stiffened against Raphael's grip, but said nothing. Raphael scowled at his tremble, and gripped Donny tighter for a moment more before he let him go.
"We didn't have a choice, Don." Raphael repeated quietly, wondering how in the hell Donny could only be inches away and yet feel as if he were miles away. Donny closed his eyes, and breathed out through his clenched teeth. Raphael hated the way that his once quiet, gentle brother now had to struggle to maintain that peaceful façade.
Donny narrowed his eyes, and peered at the withering sunlight, the peaceful green of the forest.
"I never said that I regretted it."
Donny managed to keep his voice soft, but he could not take out the undercurrent of barely-concealed rage. His lip twisted in his teeth, and then tightened into a grim, frustrated line.
"I never said that it was wrong, either. What was done… what they did to Michelangelo is unforgiveable. But what I did…it's unforgiveable, too. That was the line that was crossed, Raph. It's not a matter of how deserving they were. It's the fact that I murdered, and I enjoyed doing it. I wasn't defending Mikey. I was getting vengeance. And harming or killing out of vengeance was one of the things that Splinter always told us was wrong. I can't take that back. And, as sick as it sounds, I wouldn't."
There was only another long silence, as Raphael finally asked, bitterly, "Why in the hell should you?"
"Because I hate this!" Donny suddenly snarled, and whirled to face him. "I hate what Mikey's death has done to me, what I've become! Look at me, Raph. Look at me!"
Donny raises his shaking hands, hands that had slain, hands that had sewed up his dead brother's head, and taken a shovel to the earth to dig a grave. He stared at his palms, and suddenly snapped them shut with a finality that made Raph wince.
"It feels like that I'm not just burying Mikey, Raph. It feels like I'm burying everything that I knew about the world, about us, and most of all, me. I know, it sounds sick, and selfish, and wrong, but I don't know what to do."
Ignoring Raph's bewildered stare, Donny clutched his forehead, and wilted with the sudden flood of the undercurrent. "I'm sorry, Raph. Forget I said anything. I didn't mean to dump any of this on you."
Raphael only cracked that sad, bitter smirk as he shook his head in perverse amusement.
"Why? Because you think I don't get how you feel?Being pissed off is easier, you know. All that anger? It gives you a sense that you can do something besides sit there and cry. Makes you feel more powerful, and it's hurts a lot less than just blubbering. Anger can protect you like that….for a while."
Raphael's smirk withered as he raised troubled eyes to Donny. "Don't let this make you hard, Donny. It ain't worth you giving up everything that makes you good."
Donny felt Raph clap a hand on his shoulder. "Mikey would hate that, Donny. And the rest of us would, too."
Donny gently shrugged his hand off, and glared at the trees. "Mikey's dead, Raph. I don't think he has the ability to really give a damn, now."
The resignation, the despair, both curled in his gut and hardened like concrete over his soul. He ignored Raph's wince as he dully rose to his feet, and turned back towards the house.
"I might as well read Mikey's letter. There's no point in putting it off now." Donny said it as if he were expecting his own execution. Uncertainly, Raphael watched his brother make his way through the woods.
With a sigh, Raph followed.
Meanwhile, an update with Leo and Splinter….
Splinter's eyes flickered, as he continued, harsh, brittle, soft, "Leonardo, I am afraid."
Leonardo's features twisted. "Of what?" What could possibly left to fear, or wound after this?
"I fear for my sons." Splinter whispered. "I fear for the future they must face, for the life ahead they must rebuild. And I fear for myself."
Splinter wrenched his paws from the fold of his robe as he rose. "I fear returning home and facing the emptiness there. I fear entering Michelangelo's room and no more hearing his laughter, his voice. I fear that every time I close my eyes that I will not see his smile, but his body. I fear that I will feel this way until the end of my days. A father always carries the fear that something may happen to one of his children, Leonardo. When that fear comes true, a father's fear becomes terror of the world, and maybe, life itself."
Splinter felt Leo's flinch, the recoil as he pulled himself away from Splinter to stare at him with the bewildered eyes of a wounded child.
"Forgive the ramblings of an old rat, Leonardo. My burdens are not yours to bear."
The brittle attempt at a smile on Splinter's lips withered and dribbled away like water, as he turned his searing, wet gaze to the flicker of the candlelight.
"As children, when you were small and afraid, it was far easier to reassure you, to comfort you. Whether it was fear of the dark, or a storm, or even the presence of a human, if I held you in my arms, and told you that all was well, it was enough for you to feel safe. I wish that I could give you that reassurance, now, my son."
Leo gripped the trembling paws between his own hands. "I wish you could, too, Master Splinter."
Splinter at last gave him a wan smile. "I have tried, my son, to raise you all to be good, kind, and strong, but most of all, as brothers, who care for one another,who love each other deeply. This world can be cruel to those who are different, as you already know, Leonardo. I wanted the four of you to have the strength of safety, of peace, of family. I am proud of you all, my son. You have proven that this old rat has succeeded."
Rising, he held out a beseeching paw to Leo. "Come, my son. We will face this together. Let us find your brothers, and say our good-byes."