Finally Donny can't take it anymore and he starts taking apart nearly everything he's built in the last three years.
When one of his brothers asks what he's doing he just tells them distractedly that he'll put it all back together when he's done.
It isn't until Mike just silently hands him his hoverboard, without even having to be asked, that he realizes what his eyes must look like. The answering look in his brother's eyes give Don pause.
"I… I'll put it back together," he says with more sincerity than he did about the entertainment center that morning. Mike only nods.
"I know you will," he says, touching Don's shoulder with his hand as he passes him. Don wants to tell him, right then, and he would, but his throat has suddenly closed up and he can't see for the tears.
It comes out anyway when he hands Leo his "shopping" list for the week.
"Five satellite dishes?" his brother says incredulously.
"Five of the 26-inch ones. If you can't find five of those, two smaller ones for each bigger one will do. And just drop them off at April's, you don't need to bring them back here."
"Don, what on earth do you need five satellite dishes for?" The look on Leo's face would be called stubborn on anyone else: determined, unyielding. On him it is only patient. He knows Don will crack. Don briefly considers fighting him on it, for his pride's sake, but his pride isn't worth it.
"I'm building a device to contact the Utroms," he says. Leo raises an eye ridge, a silent instruction to clarify. Don sighs, and tells him. Leo's expression goes blank, and he looks back down at the list, and then back up at Don. He gives a tight nod, and says,
"We'll talk to the professor, see if he has anything for us."
"Thanks, Leo," Don says, trying to stuff everything he feels into those two words. He thinks Leo gets it, because he touches Don's shoulder the same way Mikey did. Raph, who has been listening, cuffs him on the other shoulder, and from Raph it is the same thing.
The Utroms tell him that based on the data he has given them, Splinter will in fact have a normal human lifespan minus a decade or so to make up for the fact that he'd already reached maturity as a rat when he was mutated. All things being equal, they tell him, he could easily live for another thirty or forty years. Something inside Don uncurls, and after shutting off the communicator he puts his head down on his desk and cries in relief. Then he goes to tell his family the news.
"But, like, what about turtles?" Mikey asks, and Don looks up from the hoverboard, and stares at his brother for a long time.