So here's my first foray into the world of TMNT fan fiction. I've been reading quite a bit so I finally decided to sign up and write a bit myself. Hopefully it's not too shabby! Please let me know what I can do better next time!
The first part of this story is inspired by true events.
BTW, don't own 'em. Ok, shutting up now!
More Than One Thousand
"No. Absolutely not," Don grumbled through his closed door as he resolutely stuffed a pillow over his head. There was no way he was opening that door. Not a chance.
"Why not?" his only younger brother whined from beyond said door.
"Because Mikey," he said with all the patience as he could muster, "I'm really really tired and I just want to sleep by myself. You kick and I never get a good sleep when you're in here."
"But," Michelangelo paused for a moment and Don could just picture him wracking his brain for a good excuse, "I'm scared of the dark."
"No you're not." Donnie snorted dismissively and his voice became more muffled as he crammed another pillow over his head. Michelangelo let out a huff and Don smirked as he heard his brother walking away. Sweet, sweet sleep.
Less than ten minutes later a loud knock at his door jolted him back to the land of the awake. The noise was followed by the much softer sound of a piece of paper being slipped under the door. Groaning to himself, Don rolled out of bed and flicked on a light. Upon further investigation, he saw that on the paper was a drawing that Mikey had apparently sketched out as fast as he could. The drawing depicted a sad orange-banded turtle sitting forlornly outside a locked door. On the other side of the door was a quite impressively fanged monster wearing a purple dress and shouting about hating his brother.
"Really Mike?" Donnie directed his incredulity at the door, "Really?" His only answer was another piece of paper sliding under the door, this one with a picture of a big eyed teddy bear opening its arms for a hug.
"Oh for the love of-," he rubbed his eyes, exasperated, "C'mon Mikey, just go to bed."
"But I hate my room," came the sullen reply that Don had been expecting. A few months ago Master Splinter had excitedly led them to an area of the sewers they'd never seen before, stopping at what appeared to be an extremely old abandoned subway station. It was small, yes, but compared to their previous lair it was gargantuan, so much so that for the first time in their lives each turtle had their own room. Ever since they'd moved into the new lair, Mikey had been having trouble sleeping. It was an adjustment for all of the brothers, having grown used to sharing one small room between the four of them for the past ten years, but the youngest turtle seemed to be taking it the hardest.
"We're not little kids anymore Mikey," Don straightened up as he said this, a small part of his brain telling him that yes, in fact, they were still kids, "You gotta start sleeping by yourself."
"You know what Don?" as Michelangelo spoke, another paper slid under the door. Donnie barely had a chance to see a cape-wearing turtle telling him he shouldn't be mean to the best little brother ever before Mikey continued, "Someday I really am gonna be too old to need you or Raph or Leo to help me fall asleep and then I bet you'll really miss me." Another page, this one with a stick-turtle sleeping on a happy moon.
"Why don't you go see Leo or Raph? I'm just...like I said, I'm really tired," Donnie sighed, gathering up the papers into a neat stack and setting them on his makeshift work bench.
"Leo locked his door and he's pretending to be asleep," Mikey replied cheerfully, "And Raph told me that the next time I woke him up at one in the morning he'd tie me up and feed me to the alligators."
Traitors, Donnie thought as he glared through his bedroom walls in the general direction of his older brothers, hoping that they could somehow feel his wrath. Why was it always him who had to deal with this sort of thing? To be fair, Mikey had crawled into Leo's bed at least four nights last week. And he'd leapt practically on top of Raph (because it's just more fun that way) in the middle of the night for nearly two weeks straight prior to that.
But still. After three straight nights of being kept awake by Mikey's shin-kicking, personal-space-crowding, blanket-stealing sleep habits, Don wasn't feeling very fair towards his older brothers.
"Seriously Mike," Don turned off his light and flopped back into bed, "Go to bed. You're gonna get in trouble."
"Just go away Michelangelo," Don snapped, regretting the harshness of his reaction as soon as the words were out of his mouth. After a tense pause he could hear the soft, dejected shuffle of his brother returning to his own bedroom. How does a shuffle sound dejected? Donnie squeezed his eyes shut and covered his head with a pillow again, trying to block out the guilt-inducing noise. Snuggling further into his blankets and trying to ignore the sinking feeling in his chest, he was ready for a good night's sleep.
But sinking feelings in one's chest usually tend to prove quite difficult to ignore, and almost an hour later he was still trying to fall asleep. Finally, walking carefully so as not to bump any of his furniture in the dark, he got up and flicked on the lamp that sat on his work bench. Beside the lamp, right where he had left them, was the stack of drawings that Mikey had done. Don picked them up and flipped through the brightly coloured pages. They were actually pretty good, especially considering how fast his brother had drawn them...but then, Mike had always been better at that kind of thing than the rest of them. The corners of Don's mouth twitched upwards when he looked at the first drawing again; the image of himself as a scary, fanged, dress-wearing monster was pretty funny.
After a few moments of admiring his brother's artistry, he fished through one of his drawers and found a paperclip to keep them together. He then tucked the stack gently into his 'special things' box, which housed other things that he didn't really need to keep but didn't want to part with. Early experiments, assignments for Master Splinter that he'd done particularly well on, designs for a ninja space station that him and his brothers had laboured on for a good week when they were six, a letter from Raph apologizing for breaking one of his toys (he couldn't even remember what the toy was, just that the two had gotten into a huge fight and he had ended up running into the sewers, sitting in a distant tunnel crying until Raph had come to find him), an origami crane that Leo had made for him, and dozens of other small items.
He took a few minutes to look through the contents of the box, unable to simply close it and walk away without at least a cursory glance. When he was finished he closed the cardboard box, which had in a previous life been the packaging for somebody's hockey skates, and slid it under the bed where it belonged.
Then, with a resigned sigh and a soft smile, he turned off his light, opened his door, and quietly made his way to his little brother's room.
9 Years Later
Raphael sat numbly staring at the blank television screens in front of him, barely aware of the fact that his older brother had come into the room and dropped heavily onto the other end of the couch.
"Raph..." Leo's voice cracked slightly and he took a deep breath.
"Don't Leo, just..." Raph's voice was hoarse from disuse, "...I appreciate it, I do. But just don't."
"I'm sorry," the blue-banded turtle whispered so softly that Raph had to strain to hear it, "I wish I could-"
"Well you can't," Raph interrupted sharply. Leo flinched a little at that, and Raph cursed himself inwardly. Every time Leo tried to talk to him, he ended up snapping at some point in the conversation...it wasn't like he planned it, it just happened. "Leo, look...I-I'm sorry. I didn't..."
Leo shot him a quick, slightly confused look before rubbing his eyes and sinking back into the couch. "Yeah...I know. Don't worry about it." Raph gave Leo what he hoped was a grateful look, but he knew that his expressions often didn't come off the way he intended. Especially lately...it was hard to convey the right emotion when they had all been walking around like robots. The past few months had been...god, there weren't even words. Raph had thought he knew...they'd come close before, but nothing compares. Thinking that somebody might have...
Well, it was completely different from knowing, that was for damn sure. At first it was chaos and disbelief and heart-wrenching despair, the kind that feels like your insides have literally been ripped out and you'll never be able to think again because the only, only thing you'll ever see in your mind again is...and you can't breathe and you think maybe it's because you just don't want to anymore or maybe you just forgot how to go about doing it.
And then the shock was gone and belief began to settle in and he would never have thought that he could feel so empty and so fucking heavy at the same time. He wasn't sure if he actually fully believed it yet. He just felt numb, and he could see that his brothers were the same. They went through the motions, but a fog had settled over them. They were there, yes, but because he wasn't...they could never really be there. It just didn't seem right. They never said his name, didn't talk about what had happened...like if they ignored it they could pretend it didn't happen, as though the mere act of forgetting the events would mean he would come walking into the lair like he always used to. Like just saying his name would make everything real to them finally.
Raphael was jarred from his thoughts by a sudden crash. Leo lifted his head at the noise and Raph noticed that his eyes were red and glinted with unshed tears.
"What was that?" Leo rubbed his eyes quickly and stood, a worried frown forming on his face.
"Dunno," the second oldest turtle replied, flinching slightly as another crash resounded through the lair, "But I think it came from Don's room." The two brothers spared a brief moment to glance at each other and then made their way towards the noise.
When they walked into the room, the first thing that Raph noticed was that it was a freaking disaster. Although the lab tended to be a bit cluttered due to the sheer amount of crap that Don was always working on, he usually kept his room pretty clean. Now it looked like it had suffered a natural disaster of some sort. Papers were strewn everywhere, the mattress was flipped on it's side, drawers were everywhere but where they were supposed to be, and it looked like the closet had caught a flu and vomited all over the room.
The second thing he noticed was a frantic Donatello pulling items off of his shelves with no concern whatsoever for the mess he was creating or the fact that he was breaking a fair amount of the things he was throwing onto the ground. Raph and Leo stood in the door for a few seconds, slightly stunned by the spectacle before them. Don hadn't even noticed them open the door and continued to tear apart his room, muttering softly to himself as he went.
After getting over the initial shock of seeing his genius brother acting like a lunatic, Raph took a tentative step towards him. He was closely followed by Leo, who reached out to put a hand on Don's shoulder. Don whirled around in surprise at the touch and grabbed Leo's wrist violently. His eyes were wild and it seemed to take a few seconds for him to recognize his older brothers. Leo seemed too shaken by the sudden attack to do anything about it, staring wide-eyed at his little brother.
"Whoa Donnie," Raph stepped forward and gently grabbed his brother's arm, easing him out of his death-grip on Leo's wrist, "What'sa matter?" Don's eyes darted between the two of them before he wrenched himself out of Raph's grasp and turned back to ripping apart his shelves. Leo and Raph stared at him, shocked.
"What's the matter?" Don growled suddenly with an anger that made his voice almost unrecognizable, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Raph felt his words like a blow to the stomach, actually taking a small step backwards. Leo continued to stare at Don in disbelief.
"Ok, that's fair," Raph took a deep breath and reminded himself that Don was hurting just as much as he was, maybe more. After all, he'd been the only one to actually see it happen. "That was a stupid question." Don's only reply was an affirmative grunt.
"So..." Leo spoke softly, trying not to upset him, "What are you doing Don?"
"I'm looking for something," came Donatello's gruff reply.
"Can...um," Raph cleared his throat, "Can we help you?" Don seemed to physically deflate at the words; he stopped looking through his shelves and his shoulders sagged as though suddenly burdened with a massive weight. For the second time that day, Raph cursed himself for his uncanny ability to say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the right time.
"No," Don whispered, barely audible. This time there was no anger in his voice. He sounded defeated, completely and utterly devastated. "No," he repeated, slightly louder this time and disturbingly calm, "It's gone. I thought maybe I could...but it's gone. I threw it out last year."
"Threw what out?" Raph asked, a little confused by his brother's swift mood changes.
"I thought I didn't need it anymore," Don continued as though he hadn't spoken, turning around to face them without actually looking at them. Although he still sounded calm, Raph could see a hysterical glint in his eyes. "It was taking up space and I was cleaning up and it was just full of old things that I'd looked at a thousand times before. None of it had changed, just the same old junk. I thought...I thought I didn't need it."
Raph and Leo glanced at each other but didn't say anything, waiting for their brother to continue. When he didn't, Leo stretched out his hand again, more slowly this time as if he were approaching a wild animal. Raphael watched, hardly even daring to breathe, as Leo's hand rested gently on Don't shell. At the touch, Don's eyes seemed to snap into focus and he looked at each of them in turn.
"It's different now, isn't it?" he whispered finally, his voice cracking, "If I could see them again, they'd be different."
Raph could feel his eyes pricking with tears and fiercely blinked them back.
"He...Mikey," Don almost choked on their youngest brother's name, "Mikey made them for me." At this, he fell apart completely. Raph and Leo moved quickly to support him as he sank to the floor, sobbing so hard he couldn't stand. Raph was fighting back his tears at his brother's anguish and a few tears had fallen onto Leo's face, but neither said a word as Don continued.
"He...drew th-them for m-me and..." Don gasped for air between sobs, "...and n-now they're g-gone...and it's all m-my fault." Raph hugged Don tightly to his chest while Leo patted his shell. Don was wailing incoherently now, his words distorted by heaving sobs.
"It's ok Donnie," Raph spoke into his ear, knowing that it was a lie. Things could never be ok again. "We'll be ok." He met Leo's gaze over Don's head, still fighting the urge to cry. He wasn't good at this comforting thing. He tried, he really did, but when people cried it made him want to cry. Don said he was just overly-empathetic; he wasn't entirely sure what that was supposed to mean, but whatever it was it annoyed him because crying embarrassed him and then the whole thing just became awkward.
"Say something," he mouthed desperately at his older brother. Leo nodded and ran his hands over his face, struggling to find the right words even though they all knew that the right words just weren't there.
"Don," he spoke after a minute, "I know it's hard...losing that piece of him. But..." Leo paused, swallowing hard, "But you still have the memory, right? That's...that's the most important thing."
Don's sobbing eased up a bit and Raph looked at Leo again, nodding his head to encourage him to continue.
"And...and Donnie," Leo took a deep breath as though preparing himself for what he was about to say, "It wasn't your fault. You have to know that." Don flinched at those words, curling his body tightly inwards and pressing himself closer to Raphael, but Leo continued. "It wasn't anybody's fault. You guys were ambushed. Mikey fought well, you fought well, Raph and I...there was absolutely no way we could have gotten there sooner." As he said the words, Leo's brow furrowed. Raphael looked at him with his eyes wide. He hadn't heard Leo say anything about that night that wasn't just him blaming himself for the whole thing. Don drew away from Raph and looked at their oldest brother.
"Do you really...is that what you believe?" he asked, not unkindly. Leo looked at him, then at Raph. To Raph it seemed like his older brother was fighting some inner battle, and it was a few minutes before he answered Don's questions.
"Yeah," Leo replied at length, voice becoming stronger as he continued, "Yeah I do. We...we just can't keep living like this."
"Mikey wouldn't like it," Don's voice was low and strained. Raph chuckled softly at this. He was surprised at just how good it felt to laugh after so long, even if just a little.
"I bet he'da been pretty bored with us by now," a small smile crept onto his face as he said it.
"I bet he w-would have done something h-horrible by now," Don sniffed.
Leo smiled, "Like put hair dye in the soap."
"Or messed with all of my experiments," the corners of Donnie's mouth twitched upwards.
"Or painted my bike," Raph frowned at that one, remembering the lovely prank, "Man that pissed me off." Leo and Don both laughed.
"I don't think I've ever seen you so mad," Leo grinned, "And you know, coming from me that's saying something."
"Mikey hid in my room for three days," Don recalled, sliding away from Raph and drawing his knees to his chest so the three brothers were in a circle on the floor, "He thought you were gonna kill him."
"I kinda wanted to," Raph smiled at the memory, leaning back on one arm and putting the other over his knee, "But then he convinced Casey to help him repaint it. It actually looked pretty damn good."
"Oh hey, and remember the time when..."
The three sat on the floor of Don's trashed room for hours, swapping stories about their youngest brother. It felt good, being able to talk like that. They had been afraid to even mention his name for so long, terrified of the pain that it would bring. None of them wanted to push his memory away, but they didn't know how to move past the fear. Don had been right; Mikey would have hated seeing him like that. After so many weeks of walking around the lair like the living dead, they had reached a breaking point.
Finally, after a recounting of the time Mikey had somehow managed to get his tongue stuck to April's screen door (they laughed until they cried at that one), Donnie heaved a large sigh.
"I really miss him," he said softly, tears forming in his eyes again. Leo got to his feet, pulling Don with him.
"We all do," he said, hugging Don tightly, "We always will. I think...it'll be a long time, but I think we'll be ok." Raph sat on the floor still, looking pointedly away. He'd had enough bloody crying for one day...crying was exhausting, seriously. Looking around at the mess that was Donnie's room, a flash of colour amidst the hundreds of strewn papers caught his eye. Reaching over to pick it up he saw that it was a drawing of a small turtle locked out of a room that had a monster wearing a purple dress in it. He wasn't sure why the small turtle would want to be in the room in the first place, but he easily recognized the drawing as a Hamato Michelangelo original.
"Hey Don," he grimaced as he stood up, legs sore from sitting on the floor for so long, "This what you were looking for?" Don turned towards him, eyes widening as he looked at the picture. He reached out and took it gently, as though it was the most precious thing in the world.
"Yeah," he replied softly, staring down at the brightly coloured page, "I guess I saved the one." Leo peered over Don's shoulder at the drawing and gave a snort of laughter.
"Is that supposed to be you?" he asked, craning his neck to look closer.
"Mm-hm," Don smiled, remembering the night his brother slipped the paper under his door, "Pretty good likeness, huh?"
Raph patted his younger brother roughly on the back. "Mikey...what a kid," he said with a laugh as he turned to leave the room.
"Leaving so soon?" Leo asked, gaze still transfixed on the drawing their youngest brother had done so many years ago.
"Soon? It's almost two in the morning," Raph yawned as if to prove his point, "Think I'm gonna hit the sack."
"I didn't realize it was so late," Leo frowned slightly and moved to right Donatello's still upturned mattress. With Raph's help it was quick work and the two had their younger brother's bed mostly back to normal within a few minutes.
"You gonna be alright Donnie?" Raphael asked when they were finished, concern lining his face.
"As much as I can be," Don replied, still staring at the paper in his hands as he sat slowly down on his bed. Raph clutched his elbows awkwardly as Leo gave Don a one-armed hug before turning to leave.
"Night Donnie," he said as Leo opened the door. Donnie looked up briefly and shot him a small smile.
"G'night guys," the purple-banded turtle said, "Thanks for...thanks." Raph and Leo nodded, careful to be quiet so as not to wake Master Splinter now that the door was open.
As his older brothers closed his door behind them silently, Donatello's gaze returned to the picture his little brother had drawn. It wasn't his brother, he knew that, but somehow he felt like holding it brought him closer to Michelangelo. He sat there taking in every little detail of the image. Finally he stood and cleared a spot on his desk to put the drawing safely for the night. Giving it one last glance, he flicked off his light and flopped into bed.
"Good night Mikey," he whispered softly to the dark and empty room.
He tiptoed lightly through the lair to Mikey's room and tapped on the door with one finger. Pushing open the door without waiting for an answer, he saw his little brother illuminated by the crack of light from a night-light in the hall. Mikey's eyes were open but bleary, as though he'd been fighting sleep.
"Donnie?" came the small, tired voice, "Issat you?"
"Yeah Mikey, it's me," Don smiled and walked over to his brother's bed.
"What're you-," Mikey began, clearly confused.
"Couldn't sleep," Don interrupted him, gently pushing the smaller turtle to side of the bed so that there'd be some room for him, "Move over little brother."
"Not little," Mikey grumbled, but slid over obligingly. Don lifted the covers and settled into the bed, smiling to himself as his brother snuggled tightly against him, kicking him hard in the shins several times during the whole process.
"Mikey?" he spoke after a few minutes.
"I'm sorry," Don hugged his brother closer to him, "For snapping at you earlier. I didn't mean to."
"S'ok," Mikey mumbled, "Still love ya."
"Love you too Mikey," Don could feel himself being pulled to sleep, "Good night."
I really had no intention of ever writing a death fic, but when I couldn't find the pictures that my little sister had drawn for me (I wouldn't let her in my room either) when we were kids, this idea sort of popped into my head.
Hope you enjoyed! Let me know. :)