What He Does
Donnie tightened the final screw and sat back to examine his work. It didn't exactly look like the toy helicopter from the commercial. The pieces were all mismatched, giving it a mechanically Frankenstein-like appearance. But, pretty or not, he was sure it would work just as well as the store bought one.
Since the commercial cautioned that the toy was for children ages ten and up, building one at age seven was probably impressive. He didn't often have any frame of reference for comparison, so he couldn't help but feel a surge of pride at the accomplishment.
Time for a test flight. Picking up the remote control, which was a mess of knobs, wires and exposed circuitry, he flicked the switches to turn both the helicopter and remote control on, powered by his carefully salvaged batteries. Thank goodness that the people above just threw them into their regular garbage, long before they'd expelled their full charge.
Giving it a little time to sync up, he excitedly fired it up, grinning widely as the blades began to spin. After some experimentation with the angle of the blades, he increased the speed and the toy lifted up off the table. Tilt the blades and it veered forward. Adjust the rudder and it turned.
As it soared around the lab, it passed the door where he noticed Raph staring up at it in awe. Unable to suppress a spike of pride at impressing his normally aloof brother, he couldn't help but want to push it. Taking a risk, he maneuvered the toy into a loop de loop, letting a sigh of relief when it didn't lose control and spiral into a disastrous crash.
"Can I try it?" Not really hearing the unusual level of supplication in his brother's voice, Donnie was more focused on visions of Raph ramming it into a wall and destroying all his hard work.
"No. The controls are very delicate." Raph frowned.
"I'll be careful. Let me try it." It was no longer a request but a demand and Donnie bristled.
"No. It's mine. I made it and I'll decide who can and can't use it." Raph's eyes narrowed.
"I want to try it." He reached for the remote and Donnie staggered back, stretching out his arm in the vain hope of keeping it out of Raph's reach. Raph's hand hit the controls as he groped for the remote and the helicopter veered into a nose dive, shattering into pieces against the cement floor.
With a hiss of shock, Raph pulled back and Donnie clutched the remote control to his chest as he staggered over the crash site, falling to his knees beside the ruins of his creation, sniffling quietly.
"Donnie I…I didn't mean to…"
"Yes you did!" Donnie whipped his head around as the tears spilled down his cheeks.
"If you couldn't have it, no one could!" Raph recoiled.
"What is going on in here?" They both froze momentarily as their father swept into the room and assessed the situation.
"Raph broke my helicopter!"
"It was an accident! He wasn't sharing!" Splinter sighed and took a deep breath as Donnie and Raph glared at each other.
"Raphael." Raph straightened but couldn't help cringing as his name was called.
"The…device belonged to Donatello. It was wrong to touch it without his permission. You will get up early for the next week and clean the dojo. Additionally, if your brother requires help finding new parts to rebuild, you will assist him. Understood?" Looking crestfallen, Raph bowed his head.
"Hai Sensei." Donnie wiped his running nose. It wasn't very much of a punishment, but it was probably the best that he could hope for.
"Donatello." His jaw fell open as he heard his father call his name.
"In the future, you should take more consideration of your brothers' feelings and share with them anything that will not endanger you or them. Do you understand?"
"Do you understand?" His shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Good. I want you to apologize to each other and clean this up together."
Donnie carefully packed his tools into the old dented metal box that was almost but not quite too big for him to carry. He was still stewing over Sensei's decision. Why had he been reprimanded? He hadn't done anything wrong. If he'd given the remote to Raph, his brother would have broken it just the same. He'd been working on it for weeks and had a right to try and protect it. And Raph hardly got punished at all for being the terrible bully he always was. Raph was clearly Sensei's favorite. That was the only logical explanation. And if that was the case, he wouldn't stand for it.
"What's up bro?" Donnie let out a shrill yelp as Mikey seemed to materialize beside him.
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm bored. Do you want to play?"
"No. I'm running away." Mikey's face screwed up in concentration.
"Running away? Like a race? To where?" Donnie sighed and rubbed the bridge of his beak.
"No, I…I mean I'm leaving and I'm not coming back." Mikey frowned as he processed this.
"It's either me or Raph and since Sensei likes Raph better, I guess I have to be the one to go."
"You or Raph? Why?"
"Why? Because he's bad!" Mikey's frown deepened.
"I don't know…"
"He breaks everything and hurts everyone. It's what he does. And no one cares! He just gets away with it! I'm done."
"He isn't that bad…"
"What about yesterday when you were poking him? He threw you down and sat on your shell like you were a chair for an hour while watching television." Mikey winced.
"And all he had to do was apologize and let you watch whatever you wanted for the rest of the day."
"But I got to pick shows without having to take turns."
"Mikey he sat on you like you were a piece of furniture. You don't do that to people you care about."
"I guess not."
"So you understand why I have to do this?" Mikey nodded solemnly but Donnie wasn't really sure he got it. It didn't matter. His little brother was wandering off, deep in thought, leaving him to put the finishing touches on his goodbye letter.
Carefully leaving it on the table, he hefted his toolbox and staggered over to the open wall that emptied into the abandoned subway tracks. It was a pretty far drop and normally he would be able to make it without a problem, but not with his toolbox.
Trying to cautiously lower himself over the ledge, he lost his grip and fell with a startled cry, slamming his shell hard into the rail and spilling his tools. Wincing, he sat up and stifled the urge to cry as he gathered his instruments back into their container. He stood, ready to leave again, when he almost collided with Mikey, clutching a ragged teddy bear that their father had salvaged from a dumpster for him years ago.
"Mikey! What are you doing here?" His little brother grinned.
"I'm running away with you."
Donnie debated arguing with him, but considering that any debate with Mikey was a fruitless endeavor, he decided against it. Besides, he hadn't even left yet and he was already lonely. Mikey, despite how annoying he could be, was the best for chasing away loneliness. He nodded and Mikey clapped excitedly, bounding along after him as Donnie dragged his toolbox, too sore to carry it at the moment.
"Just try to keep up okay?"
Raph stomped around angrily, not sure what to do with himself. He wanted to be mad at Donnie. Mad at him for being selfish. Mad at him for tattling. Mad at him for holding a grudge. But every time he thought back on it, all he could see was the expression on Donnie's face as the toy flyer smashed to bits on the ground. Ultimately, the only person he could be mad at was himself.
He hated this feeling and wanted it to go away. Maybe he could fight it away. Where was Leo? He was usually up for sparring. Knocking on his older brother's door, he heard a quiet sound of ascent on the other side.
"What's up Raph?" His brother answered, but didn't actually look up as he entered. He sat cross legged on his bed, reading a ratty old comic book that he must have rescued from a storm drain, probably the last time Sensei gave Donnie permission to go out scavenging for junk. Leo usually ended up on babysitting duty since they weren't allowed to go anywhere alone and they certainly couldn't go far.
Raph peered closely at the cover of the comic book. Space Heroes. The cover art was really cheesy and boring. It kind of seemed like they were on a space ship, but it looked more sciencey than cool. Space ships ought to be cool.
"What are you reading?"
"Space Heroes! I found it a few weeks ago and it's amazing."
"Uh huh. So amazing that it has taken you weeks to read a single comic book?"
"What? No! This is the one hundredth and forty seventh time I've read it." Raph just blinked.
"There is something wrong with you."
"I'm serious Raph. This is the best thing ever."
"If it's so awesome why haven't they made a TV show for it yet?" Leo finally looked up, eyes shining.
"A TV show? Do you really think there is one?" Raph's jaw fell open.
"That wasn't what I…"
"I have to find out." Raph staggered aside as Leo blew passed him. Growling in annoyance, he turned to follow, still not having gotten a chance to ask Leo if he wanted to fight…er practice. Back in the living room, Leo had his head buried in the basket of practice reading material that Sensei left by the couch.
"Yes!" He triumphantly pulled free a relatively recent TV Guide, water stained and missing most of its cover, and began eagerly flipping through it. At this point Raph was pretty sure he'd completely lost Leo's attention. Now how was he going to stop feeling guilty?
Against his will, his eyes found their way towards Donnie's lab. He could apologize again and mean it this time, now that he wasn't in the heat of the moment. He hated apologizing. But he hated feeling bad about his even more. And he really was sorry that he'd broken it.
"Omigosh! Raph you're right! There is a TV show! It's premiering next month. This is going to be so great." Raph groaned inwardly, strongly suspecting that he was going to regret steering Leo towards this discovery.
Taking a deep breath, he started towards the lab. Time to suck it up and set things right. Maybe he could help Donnie fix it. He had no idea how, but he would try. He needed to make this right. Sliding the heavy door further open, he poked his head in.
"Donnie?" No response. He tried again, a little louder this time.
"Donnie?" Only silence answered. What was going on? Donnie was always here or so it seemed. Feeling the first inklings of concern, he went inside and looked around.
The lab looked as it had when he last left it. Minus Donnie. He walked around the large room, trying to see if his brother was obscured by any of the piles of junk he kept in here, in what he insisted was an organizational system. Hoarders had organizational systems too.
Frustrated, he slammed his hand down on a nearby table, feeling paper slide against the surface. The paper stuck to his hand as he lifted it and he carefully peeled it off, reminding himself that he wasn't here to ruin anymore of Donnie's stuff. As he set it back on the table, his eyes caught the words and he almost stopped breathing.
I can't take it anymore. I'm done being pushed around and having everything I make ruined. I know you love Raph more, so I'm leaving. Goodbye and I'm sorry.
Oh no! This was all his fault. Donnie was gone and it was his fault. He had to get him back. Now!
He started to run towards the door, when he realized that he'd been pacing in the living area and kitchen. He would have seen if Donnie had gone through the turnstiles. So that left…
He ran towards the lab's subway platform and saw a smattering of spilt tools and the marks of something being dragged along the tracks. Donnie.
He wasn't sure how long they'd been walking. Mikey's incessant chattering could really skew a person's sense of time. It probably wasn't as long as it felt. Maybe being lonely wouldn't have been so bad. And then a shell knocked roughly into his and he snapped his head back towards Mikey.
"Donnie. Donnie. Donnie."
"I've been saying your name for like forever and you weren't answering. Weren't you listening?" Honestly no. He'd been doing his best to tune Mikey out.
"What is it Mikey? I'm trying to think."
"When are we going to go home?" Donnie closed his eyes and rubbed his head.
"I think you're missing the point of running away. We aren't going back at all." Mikey pouted.
"But I'm hungry." That stopped Donnie. Food. It hadn't occurred to him to bring anything to eat. What was he going to do about feeding them? If he didn't figure something out, they would starve.
"And my feet hurt and I'm tired." Mikey sighed and began to flop down against the brick archway they were passing under. Donnie saw the decaying structure and the inevitable danger, but not in time to stop his brother. As Mikey's shell hit the wall, the arch started to crumble.
Terrified and unable to prevent the impending disaster, he rushed forward, dropping his toolbox, and wrapping his arms protectively around his little brother as the ceiling fell in on them. He closed his eyes and waited for the bricks to hit, but he blow never came. Instead, all he heard was a strained grunt.
He cracked his eyes open and gasped. Raph was above them, bruised and bleeding, supporting the pile of bricks over them. He shook with the effort as he fought to keep the weight from caving in and crushing them.
"Can't hold long. Can you dig out?" Raph spoke through gritted teeth and Donnie nodded. He gave a quick glance at the position of the pile, rapidly determined which points were supporting most of the weight. He knew what not to touch to prevent causing a collapse. Careful to avoid those, he let go of Mikey, who remained hidden in his shell, and began to dig, burrowing a way out.
In actuality there weren't that many bricks. It was a relatively small cave in, but it would have been enough to kill them if not for Raph. Fortunately, the limited quantity meant that it didn't take long to generate an escape route. He shook Mikey's shell.
"Mikey! Come on. We need to leave." Scared and struggling not to cry, Mikey came out of his shell and allowed Donnie to guide him to the hole. As Mikey went through, Donnie glanced back at Raph.
"Donnie just go! Now!" Donnie wanted to argue, but knew that every word cost Raph and so he complied instead, scrambling out of the pile as quickly as he could. The moment he was out, the heap of bricks collapsed behind him.
"Raph!" Both he and Mikey cried out in unison as they rushed forward, clawing at the bricks. It was likely only minutes, but it felt like eternity before he managed to unearth his brother. Oh no, he wasn't moving. Trembling, he shook Raph as hard as he could and was rewarded with a groan.
"Mikey help me get him up! We need to take him home as soon as possible." Mikey nodded timidly and they each took an arm over their shoulders, staggering under his weight. Holy cow he was heavy.
Donnie's mind raced as he tried to remember what Sensei did for them when they got hurt. He had a first aid pamphlet tucked away in his bookshelf. Between the two he should be able to fix this. If only he could fix this and Raph would be ok, he promised to learn everything he could about injuries and treating them. He'd be able to make it right. He just had to.
"S…s…sorry." He almost tripped at the sound of Raph's voice.
"Didn't mean to break it." Donnie shook his head as he pushed forward.
"Don't worry about it. I can always make another, but I can't replace a lost brother, so we have to get back."
"No Raph. You saved us. We should be thanking you." With great effort, he managed to shake his head.
"Nuh uh. I'm your big brother. It's what I do."
~11 Years Later~
Donnie paced excitedly as he waited. He was practically buzzing, although that might be a combination of the caffeine overload and lack of sleep, but he always went into overdrive when working intensely on a project.
"Is this really necessary?" He could hear Raph's voice, amusement more prominent than the pretense of annoyance he was trying for. And that's why Mona had been the one to get him. His red bandana was turned around so he couldn't see as she led him by his hands, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"It's worth it. Trust me." When they were finally in line of sight, she stopped him and turned the bandana around as Donnie yanked the canvas tarp off.
"Happy Birthday!" They called out in unison. True Mutation Day was tomorrow, but Donnie had finished ahead of schedule and they couldn't wait. He knew they'd struck gold when he saw Raph's jaw drop and eyes light up like they hadn't since that first Christmas Mikey had put together for them.
"I helped design it, but Donnie built the whole thing from nothing."
Mona was playing down her role a bit. While he didn't need her to tell him how to build a kickass armored motorcycle, she knew Raph's Nightwatcher work better than anyone and had provided a list of maneuvers it needed to be capable as well as what tools he'd need it to be able to store in various hidden compartments while he was out. She had known exactly what he needed and Donnie had merely built it.
Now Raph would be fully equipped when he inevitably went out every night to protect the innocent because that's just what he did. He watched Raph run his hands over the frame of the machine as Mona excitedly ran through its functionality. He was actually surprised when Raph addressed him, assuming that he'd faded into the background.
"Donnie have I ever told you how awesome you are?" Donnie laughed at the memory that evoked.
"No, but you were seriously considering it when I built the Shellraiser."
"Well you are awesome! I can't believe you built this." Donnie smiled as his brother drooled over his birthday present, knowing that Raph probably didn't even remember, but he would never forget. Speaking too low to be heard.
"It's what I do."