"Wow," Michelangelo awed as he stared at the night sky, "I-it's so… pretty!"
"Ugh, Mikey," Donatello sighed as he checked the time on his T-phone, "It's late! And Splinter wanted us home fifteen minutes ago. Leo must be-"
"Ah, Leo-shmeo. Look at it, Donnie," the orange clad turtle sighed with his wide, baby blue eyes shimmering with wonder, "We never get a view like this from home."
Humoring his brother, the purple clad turtle turned up his chin and stared into the black abyss. After seeing it so many times from a computer screen, Donatello figured he'd just be boring himself. However, the laptop's view of the sky was nothing compared to this: the unfathomable amethyst sky, ever so slightly freckled with bright speckling stars, seemed to cover the entire city like a thick blanket as it stretched along the skyline. Of course, being the logical being that he was, Donnie knew that it was just…
"A celestial, unbreakable dome which covers everything that lies a certain distance above the surface of the Earth, including the atmosphere and outer space," Donatello dictated, "Fascinating… can we go home now?"
"Aw, c'mon, dude! The only dome that needs a little breaking is yours," Mikey laughed as he jumped on his older brother's shoulders, despite the vast height difference, to give him a noogie to the head.
"Hey! Get off, Mikey!" Donnie exclaimed as he elbowed his little brother in the plastron.
Obeying his brother's wish, Michelangelo hopped off with a chuckle. After adjusting his mask (thanks to Mikey's precise noogying), Donatello was ready to get back at him… until he noticed his little brother, once again, sighing and looking up at the sky again. With a puzzled look, the purple clad turtle stared at Michelangelo with much curiosity; that is, until the orange clad turtle turned his attention from the clouds and back to Earth.
"Hey Don… what's up there?"
"Well, it's just like I said, Mikey- the sky is a celestial-"
"No! I mean, like… like what else is up there?"
"Huh? I don't… oh! Oh, you mean-"
"I mean, you know, you're pretty smart. You know a lot of stuff, so I figured if anybody would know, it would be you. Like… like our real mom. And Tang Shen… she's gotta be up there, right? …What do you think?"
"Oh, uh… um, well…"
It was a good thing it was dark out, because as Donatello stumbled over his words, his cheeks that shone with a green complexion darkened into a deep scarlet constancy. For some, Mikey's question would've prompted a great, creative answer: filled with imagination, belief, and a colorful vision about the world beyond. For Donnie, however, it was completely black and white- the sky was he sky, and nothing more. Beyond the Earth's atmosphere, there was only the solar system; and death meant the end of all life… even life after death.
To Donnie, there was no Heaven, there was no Hell. There was only the life we have now, and there was no set of evidence to disprove his theory. It wasn't that he didn't want to believe in a higher power: it was just the fact that there was no proof. Like most scientists, Donatello felt that atheism was the most logical, yet contradictory, religious belief- since it meant to hold no perception of religion at all based on the fact there was nothing to disprove his theory.
Nevertheless, each holiday, he joined his brothers' hands in prayer as they gave grace; and honored the aspects of Daoism and Confucianism the family practiced just as Master Splinter had raised them to believe. Of course, Donnie wasn't a devout Daoist like Splinter or Leo, but he went through the motions to maintain order within his family. He was sure that if they ever found out Donatello's true beliefs, they would never accept it: coming from such a religious family and claiming to hold no religion at all is not that easy to consent to, nor is it to admit. And now, here Mikey was, practically tearing it out of him. How was he going to tell him?
"Um, Mikey," Donatello said with a gulp, "I, uh, I don't think…"
He paused with anxiousness. Was he actually sweating? Wow, this was harder than he imagined it would be. But Michelangelo wasn't making it any easier: staring at him with childlike innocence, his bright eyes hanging on Donatello's every word, waiting for an answer. He couldn't do this- Mikey's bright vision of the next life, as impractical as it seemed to Donatello, was one of the greatest hopes that the orange clad turtle had; and Donnie couldn't just bash his beliefs without any proof. Then… it hit him.
"You know what, Mikey," Donatello said with great certainty, "I might know a thing or two-"
"Or EVERYTHING! Dude, you're like a walking encyclopedia… with a turtle shell!"
"Well, I do know a few things," Donnie blushed, "But… I can honestly say that I have no idea what's up there. And, you know what? I think it's better that way."
"Huh?! Whaddya mean?" Mikey exclaimed.
Smiling, Donnie added, "Think about it, Mikey. If we spend every single day living on the planet wondering what's going to happen once we're not on it anymore, than what kind of life do we have to hope for? And, more importantly than that… what kind of life will we have lived?"
"Dude… okay, I know that thinking is, like, your thing an' everything… BUT I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE SAYING!"
"How about this," Donatello laughed as he placed his hand on his brother's freckled shoulder, "We should spend our days on Earth living for today. Because, to be honest, nobody's really sure if there's something more up there."
"Do you think there is?"
"Well… for Mom's sake… and Tang Shen… I sure hope there is. I guess we won't know until we…"
Trailing off, Donnie stared into the hypnotizing beauty of the night sky. The glimmering crescent moon seemed to serve as an almighty lantern- lighting up the evening like a beacon of hope. Watching the lights from the buildings along the skyline combine with the stars, Donatello felt the magic of the night overwhelm him.
"Gee," Donnie gasped quietly, "It really is pretty, isn't it?"
"If you think this is cool," Mikey added coolly, "You should see the sun rise."
"You've seen the sun rise?"
"You mean you haven't?!"
"Of course not! I mean, c'mon, you've gotta be up by at least six to- "
"Actually, bro, you gotta be up by at least five-thirty."
"What?!" Donnie gasped, "Y-you mean… you, the turtle who's late to six of our seven weekly training sessions, wakes up at five-thirty?!"
"Sure! Why d'ya think I'm late all the time? I watch the sun rise, and then go back to sleep. It's fun-"
"It's dangerous! Mikey, if Leo ever knew… if Splinter ever-"
Just then, Michelangelo grabbed Donatello by the plastron and raised him from the ground.
"You're not gonna tell him, are you?!"
"Not if you put me down, ya loon!"
Noticing his brother's disconnection with the ground, Michelangelo returned Donatello to the gravitational norm of a hard surface.
"Sorry, dude," Mikey laughed as his cheeks turned a slight shade of burgundy, "I just… something about the sky just makes me feel, I dunno… like I'm part of something… like there's so much more out there."
"Hmmm," Donnie hummed with a cockeyed smile, "That makes a lot of sense."
"W-what make sense?"
"Well, it all makes sense… y'know, why you're heads always stuck in the clouds," Donatello said with a laugh.
"Corny, bro," Mikey sighed as he playful punched his brother in the arm, "Let's go home — your calculators must be missin' you."
"Yeah," Donnie chuckled with a yawn, "And the moldy pizza box under your bed must be getting lonely."
Laughing all the way as they hopped from rooftop to rooftop, the two brothers soon returned to their sewer abode… of course, not without a lecture from Master Splinter.
"Aya," Master Splinter exclaimed with anger, "I can understand being late within a matter of minutes… but you an hour and a half?!"
"Technically, Sensei," Donatello defended politely, "We were an hour and thirty minutes late. So- to emphasize the aspect of the 'minutes' factor you mentioned-"
"Silence!" Splinter bellowed furiously, "You two will go without television for a week."
"No 'buts', Michelangelo," the wise rat raged, "Let it be known that I will not have any 'buts' about this situation. If there is even a single 'but' to be mentioned, I will not hesitate to take action on this 'but'! And, let me be quite frank… this 'but' action will be very hostile. And, in part, I — my sons… you are not laughing, are you?!"
"N-no, S-sensei," Donatello choked out as he tried to stifle his laughter, "W-we understand we're in, um… nothing but trouble."
As Michelangelo snorted comically, he, too tried to fight back the urge to start cracking up.
"Y-yeah," Michelangelo added, "We're just gonna go to bed. Waiting to watch tv again is gonna be…a real pain in the butt."
With that, Donatello ran out of the room and into his lab as Michelangelo followed suit. Snorting and cackling, the two brother's laughed until their plastron ached. Though Splinter misinterpreted the loud roar of muffled sound as a rumble of shameful sobbing, Raphael didn't care what it was- he just wanted it to stop.
"Hey!" the red clad turtle exclaimed angrily as he stormed into the lab, "What the shell are you two idiots doin' at one in the morning?!"
"S-sorry, Raph," Donnie sniffed as he wiped the tears of hilarity from his left eye, "We were just-"
"Save it for the morning, Count Dorckula," Raph shushed, "What's a guy gotta do to get some sleep around here?"
"Hey, bro," Mikey inquired with a giggle, "Who's your friend?"
Looking down to find his old, tattered stuffed bear, Mr. Toughy, tucked between his arm, Raphael's face flushed beat red with both embarrassment and fury.
"See here," Raphael demanded, "If you two don't shut your traps and get quiet, you're gonna need more stitches than Mr. Toughy. So, unless you want me to kick your butts, then-"
"DONNIE, HE SAID BUTTS!"
"OOH, DON'T TELL MASTER SPLINTER! BAHAHAHA!"
Immediately returning to their original fit of laughter, Michelangelo and Donatello slammed themselves to the ground with their cackling. As Raphael left in a fury, the two brothers just laughed and laughed until they tired themselves out. Drifting off into sleep, Mikey thought to himself, 'Wow… Donnie's right. All we have is today. It's the simple things. And with days like this, I'm glad that we do… And, like, pizza, too.'
Donatello, however, just thought about the sky. The vision was stuck in his head: the beautiful landscape of darkness. And maybe, just maybe… there was more to it than just a celestial dome of atmospheric pressure. With that, the two fell asleep- with the happiest of thoughts in mind, and a feeling of unconditional comfort in their hearts. And, as Master Splinter instructed… not a 'but' to be seen.