I feel lighter than air as I make my way back through the familiar tunnels. It’s like going home in a lot of ways. I’ve been on cloud nine since Leo called to say I could resume my training. And now that Raph’s able to go out with Casey again, without feeling like a traitor, maybe I can finally sleep at night without worrying whether or not he’ll make it back.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve been away. Well not quite that long, but close. I knew when I made my choice that there would be some fallout, but I hadn’t anticipated the extent of how badly it would go.
I knew Donnie would be hurt when I chose to be with Casey. He loves me or at least he did. Even if I didn’t possess psychic powers I would have known that. He’d never been particularly subtle about it, despite his best efforts. But I had to make a choice. Stringing both of them along indefinitely was cruel and unfair. I knew there would be a cost, but just not how much.
When I decided on Casey, I assumed that, sooner rather than later, Donnie would forgive me and we could be friends again, but I badly underestimated the blow I had dealt him. I still cherish the hope of eventually getting my friend back, but I know now to proceed with caution.
For the time being, I need to focus on reconnecting with my other brothers and getting back into the flow of my training. I’ve tried to keep up with it on my own, but without any guidance, I know that my skills are embarrassingly rusty. I hop the turnstiles using one hand, careful not to drop the peace offering I’m holding in the other.
Raph is on one end of the couch reading a comic book, while Leo’s on the other watching Space Heroes. Some things never change. They both look up and smile.
And then I’m tackled to the floor in an enthusiastic hug. Kunoichi skills are definitely getting rusty if I didn’t see that one coming.
“And she came bearing pizza! You are the best.”
“Thanks Mikey. Can I get up?”
He grins and helps me to my feet, but doesn’t relinquish the pizza boxes. Leo and Raph are watching him warily lest he abscond with them. I can see Karai coming out of the dojo looking amused. I’m about to go searching for the person that I’m most hoping and dreading to see when he pokes his head out of the lab.
“What’s going…oh.” Our eyes meet briefly and while there’s a moment of sadness, it passes quickly. I’m relieved to see how well he appears. Mikey bounds over to him to display the pizza boxes with a flourish.
“Check it out! The boxes say gor-met pizza.”
“Gourmet.” Correcting his brothers is still apparently automatic.
“Is that like super pizza?”
He shakes his head affectionately. “I don’t know. You’ll have to eat some and find out.”
Mikey gazes down at the boxes in awe and suddenly I hope that the pizza parlor’s claims at being the best pizza in New York are based on something. I’d hate for Mikey to be disappointed.
And then Karai is next to Donnie, intertwining her hand with his and resting her head on his shoulder while they both watch Mikey reverently remove a piece of pizza. Even if I hadn’t been able to comprehend what I was seeing, the wave of love that hits my extrasensory perception is impossible to block out.
Time seems to slow to a halt and I can’t breathe as realize that Donnie and Karai are together. How the hell did that happen? I thought Karai liked Leo. I know I’ve been gone for a while, but I just assumed…
Honestly I assumed that Donnie would still be here waiting for me. It’s why I chose Casey despite feeling equally drawn towards them both. If I chose Donnie, Casey would hurt and move on. But a part of me, without me even realizing it, expected Donnie to be waiting for me forever in case I ever changed my mind.
As I reel from the loss of Donnie, my epiphany at least grants me to the grace to feel ashamed. Donnie’s the best person I know. He deserves better than being my backup guy. And so, despite my breaking heart, I’m happy for him. Not that I have a lot of room to talk here, but if she doesn’t treat him right, I don’t care that she is Sensei’s daughter or how much kunoichi training she has, I will take her down.
Time ticks back up to its regular pace and I work to breathe normally as they all lay enthusiastically into the pizza. I approach cautiously and become aware that, without realizing it, I’ve gravitated towards Donnie. He looks over at me questioningly, unsure of what to say. I flick my eyes towards Karai and manage a smile.
He flushes slightly but nods. “Thanks.”
Another awkward silence. I know this is my first time back in forever after what I did to him and that I still haven’t fully processed the reality that he has moved on, but I can’t stop myself from asking.
“Are we ok?”
He doesn’t immediately offer any false assurances. Accuracy was always important to him and I respected that about him.
“I don’t know.”
“But will we be?”
He looks back at me and gives me that gap toothed grin that I haven’t seen in the longest time.
“Yeah, we will be.”