Yes, yes, I know History Bites needs finishing, and it's in progress, I swear. But post season 2 premiere, I had to bash this one out. So yes, SPOLIERS FOR SEASON 2. Big time. I'm not sure what to make of the new lead writer, and I realize that I now have very much my own take on the family and their dynamics, but the events of the premiere left one very big issue that I was wondering about, so this is my way of working it out. Make of it what you will.
So happy first anniversary of Falling, you guys. I was hoping to have a History Bites for you, and it IS coming, but in the meantime, take this instead. And to celebrate the first anniversary, askthehamatofamily is now its own blog on tumblr. You guys were asking for a Falling!Gang ask blog for some time. You got it. Thank you all for an absolutely amazing year.
The End of the World
Numbers and math. They were the code that ran the endlessly complex program that was the world as they knew it. Thoughts and emotions – they were the glitch in the code. Random, fleeting, unpredictable. There was no room for them in the code. The numbers, the math – they were constant. Reliable. Focus on the numbers. His tongue protruded a little as he concentrated, manipulating the chemical cocktail derived from the traces left on the shattered canister. Focus on the—
I never want to see your faces ever again!
A tremor ran through his hand, spilling too much of the catalyst, and he watched in helpless defeat as yet another experiment fizzled and turned dark, bubbling into uselessness. He stared at the vial of sludge for one long, agonized, endless moment before he hurled it against the opposite wall with a bitter cry.
"Whoa!" Raph had been passing through the doorway as the vial hit, and he stared at the black ooze dripping down the wall before turning his attention back to Donnie. "You still at it? Did you even sleep?"
Donnie shook his head and returned to the desk, pulling out the tools he needed to scrape together another sample. "I can sleep," he said, his voice brittle, "when April has her dad back."
Raph took a careful step toward him, looking for all the world like he'd rather be anywhere else. "Donnie…" he said slowly, and sighed. "It was an accident, man. We screwed up, but it's not like we meant for any of this to happen."
Donatello's head snapped toward Raphael, and he slammed his tools down on the table. "You think I don't know that? That doesn't make April any less hurt!" Tugging his goggles down into place, he gave a sharp, angry shake of his head. "You wouldn't understand."
A strong hand grabbed at him, yanking his goggles back up, and Donatello glared straight into Raphael's furious green eyes. "You are so self-centred, you know that? You think you're the only one who's upset? I don't like it when April's hurt either, okay? Normally, something happens to her and I'm right there ready to punch whatever hurt her in the face. Only in this case, that's us, which doesn't really work out so well for anybody. So unless there are some Kraang around here that I don't know about, the only option I've got is to hang around until you and Leo come up with a plan and tell me what to hit. So yeah, I think I understand." He let go of Donnie's goggles and stepped back, shaking his head. "She'll come around, bro. Storming off in a rage? That, I get. Give her some time before you go beating yourself up."
Donnie had been trying to focus on the numbers. He had. But every word Raphael said wound his already-frayed nerves tighter and tighter, until at last, there was nothing left for them to do but snap. Lunging forward, he shoved at Raph, sending him staggering back.
"Who else am I supposed to beat up?" he snapped. "We mutated her father, Raph! Her life as she knew it is done. It's the end of the world for her, and it's all our fault, and you're telling me not to beat myself up? Seriously, Raph, do you even care at all?"
He was expecting the swing. It was Raph. But even so, he hadn't been prepared for the force or the fury behind it, and it sent him sprawling. As he glowered up at his brother, rubbing his aching chin, Raph loomed over him with his hands planted on his hips.
"Of course I care! I hate that April's sad, okay? I'm sorry she's hurt. And I'm sorry that her dad's gone. I'm sorry that he got turned into something he didn't want to be. And if there's anything I can hit that will help April get her dad back faster, just point me at it and I'll beat it into the ground. But don't expect me to get all broken up like you just because her dad's a mutant."
Struggling back to his knees, Donnie narrowed his eyes as he grabbed at the desk for support. "What's that supposed to mean?"
With a strangled cry of frustration, Raph threw up his hands in defeat. "Jeez, Donnie, for a smart guy, you are really dumb sometimes! You're acting like her dad getting turned into a mutant is the end of the world. But if having a mutant for a dad is the worst thing ever, what does that say about Splinter?" His voice cracked on the word, and he took a step back, his arms folding across his chest defensively. "What does that say about us, man?"
And then, as Donnie watched, that moment of open vulnerability was gone, and Raph's face shuttered closed again.
"Forget it," Raph muttered. "Sometimes, I just don't get you."
Shaken, Donnie pulled himself back to his feet and flung himself back into his chair. He couldn't bring himself to meet Raph's gaze as the words hung raw between them, daring him to acknowledge them. But he wasn't sure if he was ready for that. Wasn't sure he could handle the truths about himself that they would uncover. So instead, he just pulled his goggles down again and picked up the broken container. "Then why did you come looking for me?"
"I didn't," Raph said, already halfway to the door. He paused in the doorway, one hand on the frame, and glanced over his shoulder. "I was looking for Mikey."
And then he was gone. Donnie shook his head, focusing once again on the work in front of him and letting the numbers flow. Letting them wash over him and wash the uncomfortable glitches of emotion away. Numbers made sense. Numbers were constant. Numbers didn't lie. Numbers-
I was looking for Mikey.
Sighing, Donnie pulled the goggles off his head and spun his chair around. Easing himself to his feet, he made his way across the lab, absently patting Timothy's canister as he passed, and paused at the array of monitors displaying his attempts to synthesize the human musculoskeletal system.
On the other side of them, huddled in the shadows, Mikey raised his head from his knees. Most of the costume was gone, but the tea strainer goggles hung loose around his neck. "Some superhero I turned out to be, buzz buzz." He looked away, and there was no trace of his earlier glee in his expression now. He sighed, his voice quieter than Donnie had heard it in a long time. "I was just trying to make her feel better."
With a soft shake of his head, Donnie quietly pushed the numbers aside and held out his hand. "Come on, Mikey. You can help me gather a sample."
Mikey took his hand, letting Donnie pull him to his feet, and looked up at him hopefully. "Can I run the centrifuge?"
"Can I mix the acid burny things?"
As Donnie returned to his desk, Mikey followed him like an eager puppy. "Can I make the fizzy thing do the whooshy stuff?"
"N—oh, forget it." He turned and reached into the shelves where he kept his chemical supplies. A few minutes later, he set a beaker of baking soda in a dish in front of his brother, and placed a bottle of vinegar in his hand. "Yes. You can make the fizzy thing do the whooshy stuff."
"Thanks, Donnie," Mikey said, and studiously set about dropping vinegar into the baking soda as Donnie returned to his calculations. They worked together in silence for a while, Mikey solemnly watching the baking soda bubble and overflow its container, until he looked up at Donnie.
"If anyone is gonna figure this out, Donnie, it's you. That's what I meant, is all."
Donnie blinked at that, and allowed himself the ghost of a smile. With a soft, somewhat self-deprecating laugh, he reached out and patted his brother's shell. "That's okay, Mikey. I think we all said and did the wrong things last night." He looked down at the canister on his desk, and his hand tightened into a fist as determination filled his heart. "It's not the end of the world."