Guided to an adjoining room, he like felt the complete opposite of a guest of honour--for although he was politely, and very patiently, dare he add, offered a seat, a wary silence had nevertheless manifested itself in the air around them. He did not meet eyes with his brother, the only other in the room. Not even wishing to speak with him. But that wasn't out of spite, for Leonardo had much greater justification for exhibiting bitterness. And yet he choose not to. Surely, the others would, when they returned and saw him here.
It was all part of the plan they'd prior agreed upon: to delicately put to the rest of their family the estranged exposé. He and his brothers were once inseparable, but now, they wanted nothing to do with him. Donatello didn't blame them, of course.
"When will they be back?" Donatello said. Peering across from him at the diligently sat Leonardo.
"Five minutes, give or take."
Leonardo had made some effort to tell his brothers to come home early to meet someone. Though, needless to say, Raph and Mikey weren't the most reliable on that front. Their first thought had stupidly been, is it your girlfriend? Despite the fact in knowing that A, that would never happen, and B, Leonardo really wasn't the type to care for any benign infatuations. And they were definitely similar on that front, as he imagined Donatello would sooner build himself a robot and elope. Leo chuckled.
"What?" Donatello smirked, slightly put at ease due to the obscene sight of his stoic brother laughing at nothing.
"Just a thought ..."
At that, Donatello leaned back in his armchair. Not wishing to pry further, since he took his brother's short-spoken ambiguity to mean, don't ask, I'm not telling you.
Footsteps pounded outside. Leo shot up. "That'll be Raph and Mikey. I'll go."
He nodded at Leonardo, who then gracefully traced a corridor to find them. His heartbeat quickened. Donatello's thoughts were running amok. They were going to see him, right now. He wanted to run away and hide, but he couldn't, because he also wanted to finally reconcile with the family he now and had always dearly loved. He missed his father telling him to swing harder with his bo; he missed Michelangelo playing in his lab and breaking absolutely everything; he missed Raphael charging in and getting him and his brothers in a whole lot of trouble. And then, there they were.
"Why did you bring him here, Don--and against his will!? Do you think he wants to be stuck in another timeline!?"
"Of course not. But, see here, Raph ...--listen to me, and you will understand: with another me from the future, we can revolutionise the present. Technology will advance tenfold! After all, it's only logical to take advantage of a gateway through time, isn't it?"
"...Your logic is sick," Mikey spat.
He was shouldering a second Donatello who appeared older, slightly more muscular and toned, and also wizened in his years. But encased in that mellow exterior was a burning resentment, in understanding that he was now trapped here indefinitely. And because of himself.
"My family will never see me again," the older Donatello said, his head bent in mourning.
Splinter went to offer respite to his now eldest by carefully pressing a palm to his shell. Raphael wasn't so punctual, however, as he took one look at this new brother of his before turning to the younger--fist clenched. He wanted to hit him so bad, and Leonardo understood this well enough to step between.
Donatello's eyes bulged. Finally! At least one of his brothers could understand his reasoning. But, that thought was short lived. For although Leonardo did not talk down to him like his brothers did, he made sure to shoot Donatello daggers. A glare--a dignified look of cold, and carving at him beneath his sheet of ice with a twinge of scorn and disgust. Don's face caved in on itself.
After that, their relationship only took a turn for the worse. Don and his own brothers, and perhaps even his Master, became distant. Sour, bitter. The kind that even when swallowed and digested it left a horrible taste in your mouth. One that ought to be washed down with something--that which their Donatello could not provide. In a strange facility they had found a portal through time. Donnie himself saw it as unstable, and predicted that it could barely withstand a single usage. Well, that turned out to be true--once he'd brought back with him a future copy of himself.
The four brothers made a vow never to use the machine. Rather, to destroy it, if at all possible. But, through his strange rashness, Don had broken that vow, and burdened his family with a second Donatello. A Donatello now cruelly fated to relive the past, and unjustly separated from his true family. And, no matter how much the present Donatello tried to make amends, it was hopeless. So he left. Never to be seen again.
"I brought Donatello here ..." Leonardo said, to which Mikey gave him a derisive look.
"What? No you didn't. He's with us--oh."
Donatello was then graced by his brothers, that hesitantly wandered inside. They were beneath an internet cafe. Hence, the skyward pipes decorating bluish, ash-tinted concrete walls. Surprisingly kempt and smooth, from their Master's insistence on cleaning.
The ceiling was gently sloping--excavating out to the sewer tunnels; and, for the chamber they were in, a higher roof. A few woven bits of furniture were strewn about, and--like a moat--tiny waterways followed throughout the structure's outermost lining. Drips reverberated into the cavernous below, and the underground's humidity also released beads of moisture along a tangle of overhead ducts.
Following behind Leo was Raph; then Mikey, then his Master, and lastly the future version of himself. Other Don bit his lip. Oh yeah, he'd forgotten about him. Or at least, tried to. Mistakes hurt like that: you can repress them all you want. But, it's inevitable that you will only feel even more guilty for not allowing them to act as a constant reminder, as to not repeat your past wrongdoings.
The instant Raph's spirited yet snarky face met with his long departed brother's, he stiffened. His lips sealing: a surefire sign that Raph had absolutely no intention of talking this over. Strangely, however, he did not curse a venomous 'What's he doing here?'
In comparison, future Donatello's expression was muted, although his forehead had procured a single drop of sweat. And amidst them, Splinter mutely gasped his son's name.
"What's this about, Leo?" Mikey began, folding his arms--there better be a damn good reason for this.
"I spoke with our Donatello--" Leo stopped himself, thinking his brothers probably wouldn't like that. Which they didn't. " ...our ex-Donatello. And while I have not forgotten, I've come to the conclusion that it's time we at least make an attempt to accept him back. It was a long time ago that this happened ...he's different now."
“Well, the damned boy genius looks his same old self to me. What’s he got for us this time: four dozen smackaroons and a letter of apology?” Raphael scoffed.
"Raphael!" Splinter said, silencing him.
Seeming perplexed, Donatello comfortingly ran his fingers across themselves, whilst given the chance to speak. "No, really, I ...I'm sorry. To all of you. What I did was wrong--unforgivable, even. So, I'm not here to ask for your forgiveness. I just want you to know that I am sorry, and that I wish to be your brother again. If you'll have me ..."
They all paused, and turned to one another. Huddling, as Splinter slipped past and took the long departed Donatello's hand.
"I cannot aid you in this, Donatello. I cohesively seek what is in each of their best interests. You are my son, and, be that as it may, if not all wish to welcome you, I believe it would be unwise to have you remain ...and bring further upset."
"I ...think I understand, Master. Thank you."
"I'm glad you do. Know that, no matter what happens, you will always be my son."
Splinter retreated to stand by his family, a fleeting touch drawing over the younger Donatello's shoulder. The three knew what Leo and Splinter wanted, but what of them? Moments passed unfulfilled at Mikey and Raph's introspection, and, when they still didn't know quite what to think, future Donatello stepped up to pat their arms.
"Please, accept him. He's your brother."
"He's also you. Trust Donatello to stick up for Donatello!" Raph growled. "Don't pity him just because he's a copy of yourself."
"It's not because he's me. Hey--I'm the smart one, remember? I know he means well."
They thought on future Donnie's consolation for a time, before slowly dipping their heads. He was right. And Leo was, too. It'd been far too long. Holding grudges was pathetic--this much they knew--but, it wasn't for a grudge. If you can believe it. They simply felt that he wasn't to be trusted. However, if half of their brothers thought he deserved a second chance, then so be it. And at the final outcome, Don smiled down at Leo. It felt warm and genuine, that which Leonardo had missed. He smiled back.
Now, normally, Leonardo would've come up with some sort of an idea as to how he would mend the relationship between Donnie and the rest of his family. But, such a case stumped him. He was clueless. Since the decision had been made, the present Donatello had been living with them and nothing more. He didn't talk much, and neither did they. Laying in the sitting room, he felt Splinter draw a breath nearby.
"The mirror that held Donatello shattered long ago, and with it, a shard of him missing. Us. I see that, even now."
Turning, Leonardo saw Splinter peering at him through the corner of his eyes.
"Please, speak with our ...older Donatello, if it troubles you, my son," he confided, stepping away as Leonardo nodded dutifully.
It couldn't go on like this.
Leonardo knocked on his door--for since the current Donatello's departure, he'd taken up the room of his former self.
Future Donatello wedged it open, always happy to see his little brother. Although, unlike his current form, he did not typically wear belts, or knee and elbow pads; coming from a future where the turtles had defeated most threats around and there was little reason to fight. Instead of the ninja gear, he wore an unbuttoned purple coat that almost touched the floor. And Leonardo thought it suited Donnie's pacifistic inclinations.
"What's up, Leonardo?"
It'd been two years already and this Donatello was still so formal. Raph and Mikey always had to tell him, it's Raph! It's Mikey! Well, Leo had an interchangeable knack for it, too.
"It's Donatello--uh, the other one."
Future Donnie laughed at Leo sharply correcting himself.
"It's been rather awkward hasn't it? Did you come to me for advice?" Don pleaded innocently, but with a knowing hitch in his voice as if he already knew the answer.
"...You just read us like an open book, don't you?"
"Ha ha! Yes, I do quite like books. And I have known my brothers for thirty-four years."
Future Donnie grinned and scratched his nose.
"Even so ...despite my age, I can't say I've gained much experience in this matter. But, since he is me--try chatting to him about Paris, France. He'll love that. Then, serve him pizza with green peppers, mild tea--coffee's for all-nighters--with two scoops of milk, extra sugar, and--"
"I was asking about fixing his relationship with me and my brothers, not how to suck up to him, Don."
"Eh, right. So, about that …” future Donnie sat for a moment and clenched his hands, now actually giving the question some thought. “It’s no use waiting around, or the same will happen again as it did two years ago. When you were sixteen. Think of this as a blank slate, Leonardo. Familiarise yourselves ...whether it be through physical or emotional contact. Although I-- …he is not the most receptive to the latter.”
Ducking his head in understanding, Leo prompted him to continue. However, that seemed to be about the extent of future Don’s help.
“It can’t hurt to try, right?” Don added.
Future Donnie wasn't kidding. Sixteen years from now, his younger self's conversational skills will have improved very little. Nonetheless, he took his words to heart and approached his own Donatello. In complete contrast, this Don was explicitly discouraged from referring to the turtles by nickname. This didn't help to reaffirm their bond, but, calling them Leo and Mikey so quickly would just be presumptuous.
Leo found the younger Donatello on the sofa, since his room had been snagged up. And Leo even came to realise that Mikey was resting his head in Donnie's lap.
"Snuggling up already, are we?"
"Shuddup, Leo," Mikey hummed deviously. "I was sleepy."
Their Donnie was clearly overjoyed to see Mikey's display of affection, although he'd normally settle down like that with anyone. At Leo’s observance, however, Mikey did become self conscious and slowly eased off. Allowing Leo the space to sit next, as he made some slight attempts at conversation.
Perhaps unifying his family again wouldn't be as difficult as he once thought--it looked promising so far, but, Raphael may be a problem. Therefore, Leo decided that he'd test a few methods before pushing Don and Raph together. Mikey getting all touchy-feely added a degree of confidence to future Don’s somewhat lambasted suggestion.
Leo himself did not normally express fondness through physicality, and, true, Don wasn't much for it either ...but, it couldn't hurt to try. So, by the time Don had ushered everyone off the couch, and he was slowly but surely falling asleep, Leo poked him. He'd briefly thought Don to be napping, until the younger turtle groaned in response.
"Donatello, are you sure you're fine with sleeping on the couch?"
Donnie looked around before sighing. He gave the impression that he intended to express a little more tiredness and irritation, but Don settled for agreeableness in recalling the terms he and his brothers were on.
"What gave you that idea?” he smirked.
"Oh, nothing, really. So, I take it you don't want to share my room with me?"
Gasping at the revelation, Donnie grabbed his clothes and sprinted down the hall.
"I'm going, I'm going!"
Grinning as he shook his head, Leo strode in after him. Finding Don already tucked under his bed sheets. Practically mummified, with how tightly he had them wrapped around himself. Right, the past few nights must've been cold for him. They only had thin, worn out blankets to spare. When Don saw Leo hovering, though, he threw the sheets away.
"Oh--sorry! It was on impulse ...I can take the floor--"
But Leo raised his arm. Halting him.
"When I say share, I mean share, Don."
That was the first time he'd been called Don in so long--and by Leonardo, no less. The corners of Don's mouth became plastered with a death defying grin, as he ducked back into bed. Exhaling a sigh of relief, at no longer having to lay across floors or flimsy furniture.
However, Donatello did reluctantly withdraw himself a few inches to give Leo some room, as he reminisced on the past. Recalling Mikey howling like a banshee, and Raph relentlessly pounding him in his sleep. To which he'd wake up either deaf, or black and blue. Or both. He really couldn't remember Leo's nocturnal habits, though. And he feared for the worst. Well, beggars can't be choosers. His brother was warm and Don huddled up beside him. Leo faced his shell while Donnie faced the wall.
He was out like a light--but Leo, ehm ...not so much. Don was hogging the covers, however it was already too late to reclaim his territory through fear of waking him. Instead, Leo resorted to crawling closer to Donnie who was taller and hence exuded more body heat. Although not significantly so, for eye-to-eye and at their full height, Donnie's mask still sat only a notch above his own.
Perhaps the closeness had partially roused Donatello, because next he flipped himself over so they were facing each other. Leo could make out his breathing now--that sounded high pitched and nasally, in contrast to his own. He even thought Don's sleepy puffs of air were a bit stupid, but it was quiet so he didn’t mind. Leo shut his eyes tight, and he guessed he could start dreaming any moment. Until he felt some discomfort down his leg.
It didn't take him long at all to recognise the touch of flesh, that was Donnie's shin creeping over his own. The younger was lying on his stomach, with his right knee jutting out from the sheets. He tried to shove the pest away, but that stirred Donatello so he thought it best not to. He could probably sleep like this, anyway. Probably. Concentrating again on counting sheep, he groaned at sensing Don's leg on the move. Was he awake and doing this on purpose?
Don's right thigh was now pressed between Leo's legs--and he definitely did not like where this was going. It wouldn't have fit between the outliers of his larger frame in the first place, if Don wasn't so slender. Pulling away, Donnie's leg only slid up and up. Deciding its final resting place as right below his crotch. Ugh. Fine, Donnie. No more. Time for sleep--but, just then, he felt a fuzzy sensation. Don's knee had jostled in the compromised position and nudged Leo's groin.
He felt himself clench, his inner thighs tingling, perhaps at the coldness that inched its way across his bare skin. Leo knew what was happening, and he thought he had to stop it, but he didn't. In fact, he let it go on for a few seconds more; maybe out of shock, or if he was just that determined to fall asleep. Or because it felt a little, pleasurable?
Leo abruptly pried himself away from Donatello. Fortunately for the both of them, however, it did not wake him. Somehow. Rather, Don snorted once and dozed on like nothing happened. What Leo wished he could be doing right now, but, after something like, fat chance.
This was a bad idea after all.