Donatello from the other dimension sat in the dojo, staring off at nothing. Raph watched him and wondered what their Donatello was going to say when he saw his counterpart and found out what Mikey had done. It was not going to be good for his fragile psyche.
It was a difficult situation that they were in. Was it fair to keep the new Donatello in their world? Could they really bring themselves to send him back, knowing that it was a death sentence?
Raph wondered what had happened to Donatello’s brothers but knew better than to ask. He wanted to do something to help him through his grief not make him relive the trauma.
Raph walked over and sat down next to Donatello. The other turtle glanced over at him. Raph could tell by the way Donatello looked at him that he was curious about all of Raph’s scars.
“I did something stupid,” Raph said, tracing his finger along one of his scars. “Leo and I got in a fight and I went out alone to vent my anger. I took on more than I could handle. I almost died because of it. Now, I ain’t so pretty anymore.”
Donatello looked Raph over and then went back to staring at the floor.
Raph wanted to pull him into a hug but had to remind himself that this Donatello wasn’t his brother. They didn’t know each other. He couldn’t be so familiar with him. “I don’t know what happened but I know one thing, if your brother is anything like me he would want you to live your life. He wouldn’t want you to... give up.”
Tears streaked down Donatello’s cheeks as he continued to look at the floor.
“We don’t want to replace your brothers,” Raph said and placed his hand on Donatello’s shoulder. “We could never do that. But you’re not alone anymore. You can train with us, live with us, and maybe learn to enjoy life again. If you were my brother, I know that is what I would want for you.”
Mikey walked into the dojo carrying a plate of food. “I brought your dinner,” he declared and set the plate in front of Donatello. “It was my turn to cook dinner so rest assured that it is good.” Raph smiled at that. Mikey was a decent enough cook. He stuck to casseroles since they were easy to assemble and just throw in the oven. Tonight it was a casserole of chicken, rice, and broccoli.
Donatello looked down at the plate, picked up the fork and started pushing the food around. Mikey’s grin turned into a look of concern. “Please eat.”
Donatello collected a little up on his fork and took a bite. The smile returned to Mikey’s face. After Donatello managed to take a few more bites Raph got up. “I’m going to get a plate before it’s all gone.” He left Mikey to watch over Donatello and headed to the dinning car.
After Dinner it was Raph’s turn to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. It was always easy to clean up after Mikey due to the fact that he didn’t use a lot of dishes in his prep work and cooking. By the time he was done, Donatello was asleep in the dojo. Splinter was meditating next to him, using his orb which meant that he was ‘visiting’ with his Master Yoshi.
With Donatello asleep, Raph decided to go to his room and call it a night. He did a few pushups and then read a book before crawling into his hammock. After a few hours of sleep, Raph was awoken by a sound coming from the dojo. He got up to investigate, moving slow due to some stiffness in his joints.
By the time he stepped into the dojo, his body was moving well enough that the stiffness wasn’t noticeable. He saw Donatello twitching on the floor in a fitful nightmare. It was expected. He was probably reliving his brother’s deaths. Splinter was sitting near him in an attempt to offer comfort.
“Stop,” Donatello pleaded in his sleep. “Please, stop.”
Raph walked over and knelt down next to Donatello, placing his hand on his shoulder. Donatello’s eyes snapped open. When he saw Raph he screamed and pulled back. Raph inwardly cursed himself for being so stupid. He would be a frightening sight to see after a nightmare. “It’s alright,” he soothed.
Donatello’s eyes darted around the room for a moment before settling on Raph again. He took a few steading breaths and then nodded his head, curling back up in a ball.
“Come on,” Raph said, nudging Donatello. “You’re gonna sleep in with me. You shouldn’t be sleeping by yourself.”
Donatello glanced up at Raph then shifted his gaze back to the floor as he thought. After a moment he nodded and let Raph help him stand. Raph looked at Splinter, who smiled softly and nodded his head, and then Raph led Donatello out of the dojo.
Donatello’s eyes went wide when he saw the immaculate stairwell. “Someone will give you a tour of the lair in the morning,” Raph said as they crossed the platform. “We live in an old, forgotten subway station. It’s actually one of the pretest places we have lived.”
He took Donatello into his room and helped him up into the hammock. It was big enough for the two of them but they had to curl around each other. As they lay there Donatello traced some of the scars along Raph’s plastron and down his arms. After a while Donatello drifted off to sleep again.
In the morning, Mikey burst into Raph’s room. “Raph, he’s gone! Oh.” Mikey’s eyes fell on Donatello, who was holding Raph in a death grip. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I went into the dojo to get you and you weren’t there so I panicked. I thought you ran away or something.”
“He was having nightmares so I brought him in here with me,” Raph explained.
“Good,” Mikey nodded. “This is good.” He walked over and helped Donatello out of the hammock. “Breakfast is ready. Leo’s cooking so it’s gonna be good. He likes to go all out.” Mikey looked down at Raph. “You coming?”
“You go ahead,” Raph waved them away. “I’m a little stiff in the morning. I’ll join you in a bit.”
“Okay,” Mikey replied and led Donatello out of the room. “We each take turns cooking,” Mikey explained. “We rotate out with breakfast, dinner, and dishes and we are on our own for lunch. You also have to clean up your own mess from lunch. You’ll be added to the rotation eventually.”
Mikey opened the door to the dining car, “Our Don fixed up this old subway train as a kitchen and dining room. Pretty cool, huh?” Donatello nodded as Mikey urged him into the dining cart. “Sit down. Leo will be bringing breakfast out in a little bit.”
Donatello sat at the long table and just started off at nothing. Mikey sat across from him and drummed his fingers on the table before saying, “I’ll give you a tour of the lair after breakfast.” Donatello looked up at Mikey and simply nodded his response before returning his gaze to the table.
They were eventually joined by Leo, Splinter, and Raph. Mikey watched as Donatello picked at his food with an occasional bite. At least he was eating some of it.
“If you like,” Splinter offered, “you can join us for training today. I would like to assess your skills.”
Again Donatello nodded but said nothing.
“We start training an hour after breakfast,” Splinter told him. “That will give you plenty of time to digest and be shown the lair.”
After breakfast Mikey pulled Donatello into the kitchen with him to help with the dishes. Leo had offered to give Donatello the tour of the lair but Mikey insisted that it be him. Together they finished cleaning the kitchen in no time.
“So,” Mikey said as they stepped out of the kitchen. “This is a really old subway station that lost funding and was forgotten about. Lucky us, because this baby was made back when they went for a standard of artistic beauty.”
He pointed down the tunnel. “Both ends of the tunnels are sealed but they have secret doors that lead out to the sewers. That’s how we get in and out. There are a few unused storage closets down there.” They stood on the platform and Mikey pointed to each side. “Those are the bedrooms and that is the dojo. Master Splinter’s room is in there.”
Mikey grabbed hold of Donatello’s hand and led him up the first flight of stairs. “On the first landing is Don’s lab. The portal device that I used to bring you here is in there. Don also sleeps in there with Leatherhead.” Donatello looked at Mikey with a wide eyed look of surprise. Mikey chuckled, “Yeah, Don has a thing for large crocs. They’ve been together for a while now. Don’s not here now because he had some sort of mental break down. One of our enemies captured him and put this weird uterus thing in him and he had a baby…. You’ll get the full story later. On with the tour.”
Mikey tugged Donatello up the second flight of stairs. “Over there is the entertainment room. Master Splinter is in there now, watching his stories. The real reason we get a full hour break after breakfast. On the other side are the bathrooms. They used to be men’s and women’s bathrooms but we’re all boys here. So what used to be the women’s restroom now has a large shower and the former men’s restroom has a hot tub. Both still have toilets.”
He pointed up the last flight of stairs. “Up there would have led to the street if it wasn’t sealed off. Don said that he erased all records of this place and put in something about the area that marks it as a bad spot for development. So where not going to be found any time soon.”
With the tour over Mikey pulled Donatello into his room and showed him his collection of comics. He actually managed to get a small smile out of Donatello before he burst into tears. Mikey wrapped his arms around the taller turtle. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I probably did or said something that reminded you of your brother. Didn’t I?”
Mikey was right. His actions reminded Donnie so much of his brother that it had brought him to tears. He didn’t know if he was going to be able to handle it. It was hard. He could see his brothers in each of them. They would serve as a constant reminder of what he had lost. How was he going to be able to recover?
For a short time he had thought that they had brought him there because they had lost their Donatello but he was corrected when Mikey told him where their Donatello was. He wasn’t looking forward to the awkward day where he met his counterpart. What if his counterpart hated the fact that he was there?
He let himself cry his sorrow out on Mikey’s shoulder. Despite the few similarities there were several differences and Donnie tried to focus on those. This Mikey’s skin was darker, he lacked freckles, and his hands were smaller. Donnie wondered how much easier things would be if his hands were that small. He would have still had the limitation of just three fingers but at least they were more like human hands than what he had.
After Donnie had managed to calm himself down, Mikey suggested that they head to the dojo. Silently Donnie agreed and followed Mikey across the platform. Raph was already in the dojo, lifting weights and Leo was acting as his spotter.
Donnie looked around and found his bo leaning against the wall. As he walked over to get it he noticed his counterpart’s bo. Part of him wanted to hold it, see how it felt compared to his but decided against it. Instead he walked over to the center of the dojo and waited for their Master Splinter.
As he waited he looked around the room, studding it to see if he could get to know them better. There were a few pictures lining the walls and some artifacts on shelves. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Shredder’s helmet. Did that mean that they had defeated him?
When Splinter entered the dojo, the others took their position on the floor and Donnie joined them. Splinter led them through simple warm up katas first. It had been a while since Donnie had actually trained but he was pleased with himself and how quickly his body remembered. After their warm up, Splinter moved to more difficult katas and Donnie managed to keep up with the others.
Splinter then had them break off individually to go over specific katas one by one. When it was Donnie’s turn Splinter asked him, “What is the most complex kata that you know?”
Without thinking, Donatello’s body started to move through the kata. The one Bradford had taught to Mikey that told them that Oroku Saki was in New York. The one that Oroku Saki had used in his fight against Splinter that led to their capture. He could never forget it.
“That is an aggressive attack,” Splinter said once Donnie had finished.
Fighting back his tears, Donnie could only nod his head.
“That will be all for today,” Splinter said, dismissing his sons. “Donatello, come with me. There is something that I want to show you.”
Again Donnie nodded his head and followed after Splinter. He was led to a spot that was obviously used for meditation and was directed to sit down. Splinter placed an orb in front of Donnie. “I want you to meditate. Focus on the orb and think of your family.”
Donnie sighed and did as he was told. He never really liked meditation. It was a difficult task to settle his mind. He had found it hard to meditate before he had lost his family. After a few deep breaths he was able to push away the sorrow and guilt long enough to enter in to a meditative state. He felt an energy reach out to him and he almost pulled away from it. Whatever it was, it was inviting so he welcomed it instead.
Opening his third eye, he found himself in what he could only explain as a dense fog. But he didn’t feel alone. Someone was approaching. “Hello?” he called out.
“I am here,” a familiar voice answered.
His heart leaped into his throat, “Father?”
“Yes,” Splinter… no… Yoshi stepped out of the fog. “I am here.”
“Is it really you,” Donnie choked out, wrapping his arms around his father in a tight hug. “How is this even possible? You’re human again?”
Yoshi smiled down at Donnie and caressed his head, “The orb acts as a portal into the spiritual plane. A spirit can manifest itself however it wants to.”
“Hey! Don’t we get a hug?”
Donnie pulled away from his father and turned around to see his brothers. Mikey’s arms were opened wide. With tears in his eyes, Donnie rushed over to embrace them. “You’re here too?” He cried as he hugged each of them and he was overrun with guilt. “I’m sorry I have failed you.”
“You haven’t failed us, Donnie,” Raph soothed. “We’re not angry or disappointed in you. We didn’t want you to go back to avenge us. Shredder would have killed you.”
“But at least I would have died trying,” Donnie sobbed. “I just gave up. I’m a coward.”
“No. We do not want you to be consumed by the darkness that revenge brings. It would taint your soul,” Yoshi said, causing Donnie to turn around and face him. “Do not feel bad for us. You will see us again.”
“I will come in here a visit you as often as I can,” Donnie said.
Leo chuckled. “Visiting us is fine and you can do it whenever you want, just don’t do it too often. Go out there and live your life.”
“Besides, we’re not gonna be here much longer anyway,” Mikey added and Raph swatted him.
“We can’t tell him too much.”
Donnie felt his heart sink, “Where are you going?”
“Yeah,” Raph smiled and scratched the back of his head. “Apparently when you lead a good life and help others, you get to have a say in what happens next.”
“We have all chosen to be reborn,” Leo said. “Father is the first one who will be going. He only has a few more days.”
“But,” Donnie protested. “If you’re reborn then I’ll never see you again.”
“Donnie,” April said as she and Casey joined them. “We are all going to be born in the world you are in now. We were allowed to choose where we go. We will all see you again.”
Donnie looked at April and slowly walked over to her. “I have missed you so much,” he whispered. “Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of you. I played your last voice message over and over again.”
She wrapped her arms around him and held on tight, “You’ll see me again. I promise.”
“I’ll wait for you,” Donnie choked out. “I will never love anyone else.”
April pulled back enough to look Donnie in the eyes and she cupped his face in her hands. “I love you too, Donnie. It was so hard to choose between you and Casey. I know that when I chose him that it hurt you. It hurt me too. But I want you to let me go and try to find love again.”
Donnie blinked away his tears and kissed April’s wrist. “There are not many options out there for me. I know I will be considerably older but that’s okay. I’ll keep my distance until you’re eighteen. I don’t want anyone but you.”
April shook her head, “Please, Donnie. Don’t linger on me. It will only hurt you. Promise me that if the opportunity presents itself, you will take it.”
Donnie nodded, “But only if she is as wonderful as you.” Looking April in the eyes, Donnie asked, “Can I have one last kiss?”
“Yes,” April smiled, pulling Donnie down to press her lips to his. He knew that it wasn’t really happening but it still made his heart beat faster.
“How will I find you guys?” Donnie asked, pulling away from April and looking at his family. He wiped the tears from his eyes, amazed that he could cry so much in the spirit world. “I’ll be living in the sewers, hidden from most of the world. How will I know who you are?”
“You’ll know once you see us,” Leo answered.
“Can’t you tell me where to find you, who you’ll be?” Donnie asked, turning back to Yoshi.
Yoshi shook his head, “No. To tell you would be revealing too much about the future.”
Donnie turned to look at his brothers, “Will the three of you still be brothers?”
Raph shook his head, “No. But we will be close.”
“We decided to pick different parents,” Mikey chimed in. “We didn’t want to burden one with all the problems we are going to have.”
“Problems?” Donnie asked as Mikey received a swat to the back of the head by Raph. “What problems?”
Raph sighed and rubbed his eyes. For a moment Donnie swore that Raph’s eyes were gone and that there was blood coming out of his ear slits. “Our deaths were tragic,” Raph explained. “Our souls are scarred and that is going to carry over into our new lives. It’s taking a lot of our strength to keep them hidden from you now. This is why Casey hasn’t said anything it’s taking all of his concentration to look like that but he wanted to see you.”
Memories of Casey’s death flashed through Donnie’s mind. He could only imagine what problems he was going to carry with him into the next life.
“We’ve all chosen understanding parents,” Leo interjected, drawing Donnie from his thoughts. “I know I have chosen a great guy to be my dad. One who will name me ‘Ryan’. They might feel the burden of or problems at first but they will be able to work with them and help us through them.”
Donnie lifted an eye ridge, “Ryan?”
Leo blushed and twirled his fingers, “Yeah, you know, after Captain Ryan.”
“Dork,” Raph said with a chuckle and Leo only blushed more.
“Are you going to be in some kind of clinic?” Donnie asked, trying to get as much information out of them as he could. “Is that how you are going to be close?”
“We have already said too much,” Yoshi interrupted. Grabbing Donnie’s hand he pulled him close. “There is someone I want you to meet before you have to go.”
As Yoshi spoke a woman joined them. Donnie knew who she was the moment he saw her. “That picture father had of you didn’t do you any justice. You are more beautiful in person.”
“It is a pleasure to finally get to meet you,” Shen smiled. “Yoshi has told me so much about you and your brothers speak highly of you as well.”
Donnie looked around, “What about the others? Leatherhead, Slash and Karai?”
“Leatherhead and Slash are here as well,” Yoshi answered. “They are also waiting to be reborn but Miwa is still alive.”
“She is?” Donnie choked on the words. What horrors could she be facing? “Where? Can you at least tell me that?”
“Saki has her in his dungeon,” Shen answered.
“I’ll find a way to save her,” Donnie promised. “I’ll get her away from there and I will see if I can bring her here so she can see you before you have to go.”
“Be careful, my son,” Yoshi warned. “Do not try to save her alone. Have the others help you. I’m sure that they will be more than willing.”
Donnie nodded his head, “I will.”
“Hey, Donnie?” Mikey said, drawing Don’s attention. When Donnie turned to look at him, Mikey looked uncertain and asked, “Are they nice? Our counterparts.”
Donnie shrugged, “I haven’t really had the chance to get to know them but they seem nice. They are all trying to make me feel welcome. They are a lot like you guys. Leonardo is the leader and is focused on his training. Raphael is huge, strong, and protective. Michelangelo is funny and he has a comic book collection. But they could never replace you guys.”
“They don’t have to,” Yoshi said. “You can keep a special place in your heart for us but also allow them in.”
Donnie nodded, “I know. I’ll try. I’m just… afraid. They have their own enemies. I don’t want to get attached to them only to lose them too.”
“I know how you feel,” Yoshi said, “When I lost my family I didn’t think that I would ever be able to love again. But then fate gave me you and your brothers. Do not let fear keep you from finding joy.” He pulled Donnie in to one final hug. “Now you must go.”
Donnie didn’t trust his voice so he responded with a tight nod.
“I’m getting tired,” Mikey whimpered.
Donnie turned to look at him but Raph and Leo where shielding him. “Go,” Raph said. “You don’t need to see him like this.”
“Go,” Yoshi repeated, placing his hand on Don’s shoulder.
Donnie snapped out of his trance, opening his eyes to see the dimly lit dojo. Splinter was sitting nearby, his eyes studding Donnie waiting for him to react. Donnie took a steading breath then bowed to Splinter, “Thank you.”
“Did it help you find some closure?” Splinter stood and picked up the orb to place it back on its shelf.
“It did,” Donnie nodded.
“You are welcome to use it whenever you like… so long as it is not too often,” Splinter said with a touch of humor.
Donnie smiled, “My family said the same thing.” He stood and watched Splinter cross the room. Clearing his throat, Donnie asked, “Do you think that you guys could help me with something?”
“What is it?” Splinter asked in return.
“I need help saving my sister.”