I wanted to write a story from 2k3 Don's point of view. Thanks to Skitsmix for the prompt, the beta read, for more Mikey, and for suggesting the turtle pile at the end. :D
This story takes place immediately after "Good Genes, Part 2"
Break this silence open wide
Before it seeps into my ears
And fills me up from the inside
"Don. Donny. Come on, buddy, it's time to get up."
He regained awareness slowly, struggling to rise from deep sleep that mired his thoughts like thick tar. He could hear several people moving around him, but the sounds seemed to be coming from a long way off, and he didn't have the strength to follow them.
"Leonardo, surely there is no need to wake him. I can carry him."
"I know, Leatherhead, but it's really best if we give him a chance to figure out what's going on. Come on, Donny, open your eyes."
A warm hand came to rest on his shoulder and gave him a little shake. The touch was gentle, but the movement hurt. Don winced and made a soft sound of protest, but it was enough to pull him out from under the heavy weight of exhaustion.
He opened his eyes and blinked, squinting a little in the light. It wasn't all that bright inside the helicopter, but the low illumination seemed to lance straight to the back of his skull. He was bundled under a blanket, leaning against Leatherhead's side. His family, April, and Casey were clustered around, looking at him with varying degrees of relief and concern. "Are we home?" The words felt like they were scraping over gravel as he spoke and he winced, swallowing hard through a seared throat.
Leonardo was kneeling in front of him, watching him anxiously. His face relaxed into a smile when Don met his gaze, though. "Yeah, we're home. You think you can walk, or do you want Leatherhead to carry you?"
Don frowned a little. The simple question felt heavy and cumbersome, clunking around inside his mind. His head felt dark and empty. He didn't remember any time passing, but he sensed that somehow he'd missed quite a bit. A cold, heavy fist clenched tightly in his stomach.
"Don?" Leo's hand tightened just slightly on his shoulder, his careful inquiry reminding Donatello that he hadn't answered the question.
"Uh - I'll walk," Don said.
"Are you sure, Donatello?" Leatherhead's angular head loomed into his line of sight.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Just help me up, will you?"
Leo reached out, but before Don could take his hand, Leatherhead's huge hands had closed around his torso and hoisted him up to set him carefully on his feet. Don staggered and nearly fell, but caught himself against his friend's huge scaly shoulder.
"You need help, my friend," the crocodile said.
"N-no, I'm okay. I'm okay," Don said, hoping he didn't sound as breathless as he felt.
"Sure you are, Brainiac," Raph rumbled. He pushed his way past Leo, gathered the blanket from where it had fallen, and draped it around Don's shoulders again. "Come on." His hand clamped firmly underneath Don's elbow as he began steering his brother towards the chopper's exit ramp. Mikey carefully slipped around them and jogged on ahead.
Don felt as if he were trudging through half-set cement, but Raph's hold on him was steady and a lot more supportive than it looked, and it allowed him to walk without feeling like he was being carried. He leaned gratefully against his brother's solid bulk as they made their halting way out of the chopper and down the long tunnel back to the lair.
Michelangelo met them at the door, holding a full glass of water in one hand. Don hadn't realized how thirsty he was, but he eagerly took the glass and drained it without stopping for breath.
"You want another?" Mikey asked.
Don shook his head. "No." He was still thirsty, but the water sloshed coldly in his stomach, and he didn't think he could handle any more. Raphael was supporting nearly all his weight now, and his shaking legs felt ready to give out.
Raph could tell. "Time for you to sit down," he said. "You want the couch or you want your bed?"
Splinter cut in before Don could answer. "Bed," the old rat said firmly.
Don's brow furrowed a little. He felt utterly drained, but there were too many gaps in his memory, too many missing pieces. "Sensei, I'd really rather…"
Splinter drew near to Don's side, looking up at his son with deep concern in his dark eyes. "Donatello, please do not argue," he said, laying a gentle hand on the olive-skinned forearm. "These past few days have been very difficult. You need your rest."
"Past few days?" Don swallowed hard against the fluttery feeling of panic rising in his gut. "What happened?" he asked again. It had been bad enough merely suspecting that he was missing a good chunk of time. Hearing his suspicion confirmed sent a tremor rippling through him from head to foot. Raphael felt him shaking and tightened his grip, frowning down at him worriedly.
"Please, my son. Rest. I promise that all your questions will be answered in the morning."
Don opened his mouth to protest, but his knees were dangerously close to buckling and Raphael's support was the only thing keeping him on his feet. The black holes in his memory seemed to be swirling in front of his vision. "Okay," he said unhappily.
"Come on, Donny," Raph said quietly. "Mikey, you wanna give us a hand?"
Michelangelo ducked under Don's free arm, wrapping his own arm tightly around Don's shell. "Trust us, Donny," he said reassuringly. "We're all okay, and you're gonna be fine. Okay?"
Michelangelo's calm, serious tone was able to cut through the emptiness and settle Don's fraying nerves - at least a little. Mikey was rarely serious, and calm even less frequently, so whenever he chose to temper his typical wild enthusiasm and speak earnestly, his brothers always listened. Right now, it was enough to allow Don to regain his unsteady hold on his self-control.
"Okay," he said softly. He couldn't bring himself to return Mikey's smile, but the corners of his mouth lifted just a little. He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against his brother's.
Raphael waited for just a moment before giving Don a little nudge forward. Donatello didn't resist any longer as they steered him to his room. Raph eyed the loft briefly before reaching up to tug the mattress down to the floor. Don was so exhausted that he didn't even protest; he just folded onto the mattress, settling flat on his plastron and sinking into his soft bedding as someone draped a blanket over him. He was dimly aware of a warm, furry hand brushing softly against his forehead…
Pain, crushing pain, so savage he thought his skull would shatter. The Triceraton mind probe ripped through his memories with sharp, icy fingers, burrowing deep and unearthing everything - private thoughts, time with his brothers, moments from his childhood that he had all but forgotten. It wasn't a systematic search, but a frenzied plunge into his life as each memory linked to another. The mind probe tore into him like a wild beast into its prey.
He could feel his consciousness hemorrhaging away. The probe was gutting his mind, tearing his life away piece by piece, leaving a cold black emptiness behind. He screamed from the pain and terror of the growing void inside his head. He tried to fight it, but he wasn't strong enough - he was losing himself, and he cried out for his father like a child lost in the night, knowing that no one could hear him. "Master Splinter!"
But then, beyond all hope, there it was: a bright, familiar presence drawing his floundering soul like a lighthouse in a storm.
Donatello, my son…I am with you.
It was a fleeting glimpse, a brief moment of light before the darkness crashed over him again, but it gave him strength and illuminated a path for him to follow. He cried out again, this time in defiance, and pushed against the cold, metallic power of the mind probe with all the strength he had left. And, impossibly, the encroaching emptiness halted…and began to retreat. It pulled back slowly at first, reluctant to relinquish its crushing grip; but his spirit flared in rebellion and pushed back the dark. There was a moment of excruciating brilliance -
And then he was free, gasping for breath as he knelt shuddering on the floor. Rough hands lifted a cold metal device away from his head, and he blinked in the sudden glare, confused and frightened. He tried to remember where he was but when he reached for his thoughts, there was only a vast, echoing void. His name, his life, his history - dimly, he knew something should be there, but it was gone, somehow wrenched away from him. Terror gripped him - but in the next moment it came flooding back in a chaotic flood of color and light, and he remembered. It was nearly enough to send him slipping into unconsciousness, but he clenched his bound hands into shaking, stone-hard fists and held on. And then the storm was passing, and his vision cleared, and he was himself again.
Donatello lifted his head to see the Triceraton Prime Leader glowering furiously down at him. His racing pulse thrummed in his veins like a wild electrical current, but instead of trying to slow his heart and calm himself, he focused on the frantic but powerful thumping of his heart, willing strength to flood his limbs as he waited for his enemies to make the next move. He was still afraid, but he remembered now, he could fight this -
The Prime Leader's eyes fixed on him with a tangled mixture of awe and rage. The burning wrath on the Triceraton's face intensified, and his eyes kindled and flared with a blood-red light. Donatello gasped as the space ship around him shattered like glass. A fathomless void yawned open behind him as the horned features of the Triceraton darkened and twisted, flowing together like melting wax. The saurian body grew and changed into a hulking shadow with teeth like knives and savage claws. Slavering jaws opened in a bestial howl as the beast hurled itself at him, the fiery red eyes the only things he could see. Trapped between the burning eyes and cold nothingness behind him, Donatello screamed.
Donatello cried out as he woke, eyes wide and searching in vain for light in the darkness. He sensed something reaching for him out of the gloom and his hand lashed out, catching hold of his assailant in a crushing grip.
"Mikey," he gasped. He froze, breathing hard as if he had just sprinted a mile. His senses slowly returned, seeping into his awareness. He could hear the ever-present echoing trickle of water. The musty smell of cool concrete made itself known. And he realized his hand was locked around Mikey's wrist in a grip that was tight enough to bruise.
He took a shuddering breath and pried his fingers open, scrubbing his hands over his face. He heard the subtle sound of movement and the soft click as Mikey crossed the room to turn on the small lamp on his desk. Don lifted his head to take stock of the situation. He was still on his mattress on the floor. He wasn't sure what time it was, but it felt late. Mikey's mattress and blanket were on the floor a few feet away, and Don realized that his rather dramatic awakening had probably roused his brother, too.
"You were sleeping in here?" he asked, wincing at the hoarse sound of his own voice.
"We didn't want you to be alone," Mikey answered, dropping wearily to sit cross-legged on his own mattress. He stifled a yawn and turned his attention back to his brother, looking Don over in concern. He'd let his mask hang loose around his neck while he slept, and his dark blue gaze looked unusually warm and unguarded. "How you feeling?" he asked.
"I…" Don sighed and dropped his gaze, folding his hands together in his lap to keep them from shaking. His whole body ached as if he had been in a fight, but he couldn't see any visible wounds. And, more importantly, he hadn't seen any injuries on his brothers, either. But despite his foggy mental state on the chopper, he hadn't missed the signs of exhaustion and overwhelming relief on his family's faces, and he knew that something deadly serious had happened. Something that had to do with him, something that he should remember.
But he didn't remember. His memory flowed smoothly up until the night his brothers had dropped him at April's apartment, but then his thoughts fractured apart into disjointed and blurred fever-dreams and spiraled into frightening emptiness. There was nothing. No fleeting glimpses, no remembered sounds, nothing. His well-ordered mind had broken into chaos. A feeling like vertigo washed over him and he swayed unsteadily.
"Donny." Mikey's hand descended on his shoulder, grounding him and causing the dizziness to dissipate. "You still with me?"
"Um. Yeah, I'm all right," he answered, rubbing his gritty eyes. He let his hand fall and looked up to see Leo hovering in the doorway.
"Everything okay in here?" Leo asked.
Mikey smiled a little and nodded. "Yeah. Donny just decided to make a grand entrance back to the land of the living, that's all." He scooted over to make room for Leo on his mattress as the blue-masked turtle came in, but took the blanket for himself, bundling up in a little cocoon where he sat. Leo rolled his eyes a little, but his little smirk was softened by the fond expression on his face.
Leo's brief burst of humor faded as he turned his attention back to Don. "How do you feel?"
The blank patch in Don's memory was humming like microphone feedback inside his skull, and he couldn't take it much longer; but he forced himself to answer calmly in spite of his racing heart.
"You need to tell me what happened." His voice was quiet, but but his eyes were pleading as he turned to his brothers. "Please. There's this empty space in my head, and I'm…I'm not used to having empty spaces. I'm used to knowing."
He wasn't at his most articulate, but Leo gave him a warm look of understanding and nodded once. "Okay," he agreed. "What do you remember?"
"I got sick in the Battle Shell," Don answered haltingly. "I remember you guys left me with Casey and April, but I don't know what happened after that. The next thing I remember is when I - " His words ground to a halt in his suddenly tight, dry throat. He didn't remember anything until he had awakened in some kind of shielded containment unit, staggered out, and collapsed into Leatherhead's waiting arms.
"I was in a cage," he rasped. "Leo…" Cold dread seeped into his bones. Ever since he and his brothers had been old enough to understand how different they were, capture and caging - or experimentation - had been their version of monsters under the bed. Splinter hadn't wanted to frighten them, but he had made it very clear how dangerous it would be for them if they were discovered. Somehow, Don had been subjected to their oldest fear. And somehow, he had no memory of it.
"Dude, calm down," Mikey said urgently, seeing the panic welling up in his Don's eyes. "It's not what you think. You got infected with that mutation virus."
"I - what?" Don stammered. His chest hurt, and he realized that he was gasping for air. His heart was pounding against his plastron like a sledgehammer. Leo reached out to set a hand on his shoulder. The warm pressure grounded him and he swallowed hard, catching his breath.
"The mutation virus," Leo repeated gently. "You were infected through that wound in your leg."
Don could feel the missing pieces of memory starting to click into place inside his head. The wound that wouldn't heal, the persistent fevers and worsening sickness - they didn't know how the virus was passed on, but a sting made sense. And all the goo that splattered everywhere every time one of the mutants was destroyed; they'd all been covered in it countless times, it was a wonder his brothers hadn't been infected as well. But it had been months since the mutant had stung him. All the other exposed people or animals had mutated much sooner -
And then the biggest puzzle piece crashed into place. A horrible chill coursed through him. He sat utterly still, hardly breathing. "I mutated," he said hoarsely.
Leo sighed a little. "Yeah."
"You were…you were pretty aggressive. You didn't recognize us, couldn't understand us. We had to keep you with us until we could come up with a cure, and we couldn't control you - or protect you - any other way. That's all it was, Don," Leo said softly. "You were never left alone. Master Splinter and Leatherhead stayed with you the whole time. I swear, nobody did anything to you."
Donatello couldn't answer. His brain, which had been frantically trying to fill in the gaping holes, had screeched to a grinding halt.
He could feel Leo's and Mikey's eyes on him, but they remained silent and let him be. Some part of him was dimly grateful that his brothers knew him so well, that they would wait for him to be ready, that they would knowwhen he was ready - but the rest of his feelings were torn between fear and horror, wondering exactly what he had done that made them need a cage in the first place but afraid to ask.
The silence was broken as Mikey's head nodded and he nearly toppled forward. Leo caught him and gave him a little shake, causing his little brother to sit up sharply and mumble, "'M listening, Sensei."
Leo chuckled. "Go to bed, Mikey."
"Dude, we're sitting on my bed," came the plaintive reply.
"You can sleep in my room."
Mikey looked at Don uncertainly, reluctant to leave. "Go on, Mikey," Leo said, giving him a nudge. "Your shift with Don was over a couple hours ago. We just let you sleep."
"'Kay," Mikey said around another cavernous yawn. "But I'm takin' the blanket." He bundled the fuzzy fabric in his arms and clutched it against his chest before climbing slowly to his feet. He paused just long enough to pat Donatello lightly on the shoulder, then shuffled out into the darkened hall.
Don managed a bare ghost of a smile for Mikey as he left, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared. He swallowed hard and turned back to Leo once more. "Tell me."
Leo told Don everything. He spoke slowly to give his shaken brother time to absorb everything, voice lilting in the same calming cadence he always used during their group meditation sessions. He picked up where Donatello's memory left off, the night when the mutation virus finally overwhelmed his mind and body, transforming him into a raging beast. He told him how they had tracked him down and how Leatherhead had helped bring him back to the lair. Leo told him how they'd done the unthinkable - turned to Bishop for help. Piece by piece, memory by memory, he reconstructed the past few days.
A troubled little frown darkened Don's face as he heard Bishop's named price for his cure - the cure that Bishop didn't really have. Karai already hated them, blaming them for the banishment and likely death of her adopted father. Breaking in to the Foot building and stealing a treasured artifact was dumping gasoline on a bonfire.
"…and then Bishop tripped the self-destruct and gave us ten minutes to get you and get out. The rest you know." Leo rested his elbows on his knees and interlaced his fingers, propping his chin on his folded hands while he waited for Don to say something.
Donatello took a long, slow breath, letting the echoes of Leo's words reverberate inside his head. The picture they had created was disconcertingly flat, the colors diluted and blurred. It wasn't a complete picture, but it was something.
"Well," he finally managed, trying to make his voice sound light, "at least you guys didn't go through too much trouble for me."
Leo huffed a laugh, reaching out to rub his knuckles affectionately on the top of Don's head. "Never too much for you, buddy."
Don laughed, too, but it sounded shaky - and when he looked down, he saw that his hands were shaking, too. The initial adrenaline from the dream and the revelation was fading, leaving him feeling queerly weak. "Um. I'm feeling kind of lightheaded," he said.
Leo's brow furrowed worriedly, but his voice remained even. "You haven't eaten in days. We should probably get some food into you. Think you're up to moving to the kitchen?"
Don hesitated, but nodded. "Yeah."
Leo stood and stretched before bending to help Don to his feet.
"What time is it?" Don asked.
Leo pulled Don's arm across his shoulders and wrapped an arm around his shell as they started walking. "A little after four in the morning."
"Nah, it's okay. You've actually been asleep for about eighteen hours."
Don grimaced. More time he didn't remember. "What'd I miss?"
One side of Leo's mouth lifted in a smile. "Nothing. Casey, April, and Leatherhead went home, and the rest of us turned in shortly after you did." He maneuvered Don into one of the kitchen chairs and headed for the fridge. "Want some eggs?"
"Sounds good." Don rested his elbows on the table and leaned forward to rest his chin in his hands. "I suppose asking for coffee is an exercise in futility?"
Leo chuckled. "You suppose correctly. Here." He set a glass of orange juice on the table and moved to the stove.
Don sat quietly and sipped his juice, listening to the quiet sizzling of eggs in the hot skillet. It didn't take long for Leo to finish cooking, and after a few moments he scraped the scrambled eggs onto a pair of plates and joined his brother at the table.
The brothers ate in silence for a few moments, but then Don's brow creased a little as a new sound filtered in from somewhere deep in the lair. "What in the world…?"
Leo snorted in amusement. "Guess Mikey didn't really need to sleep that much longer."
Michelangelo was singing. As he wandered closer to the kitchen, his voice grew louder. The words became audible, and they realized he was singing in a terrible Scottish accent.
"…wind blow high, let the wind blow low! Through the streets in mah kilt I go! All the lassies say 'HELLO!' Donald, where's your trooooosers?"
Mikey bounced through the door of the kitchen at the "Hello!", and as he sang the last line, he came to a halt behind Donatello's chair and clapped his hands on his brother's shoulders.
Don yelped, startled - but then, almost before he realized it, he was laughing. Leo looked towards the entrance to the kitchen and started laughing, too. Don turned to see Raphael standing in the doorway, giving Mikey a look of weary exasperation.
"This is what woke me up," Raph said flatly.
Mikey grinned, highly pleased with himself. "Hi, Donny! Hi, Leo! I smelled food. Is there food?"
Leo chuckled. "Sure. Donny, you want any more?"
Don was still hungry, but he could tell his body was still adjusting to food after several days without it, so he shook his head. "I'd better not."
Raph clomped over to the coffee maker to fire it up while Leo headed back to the stove and cracked more eggs into the skillet.
Mikey sat down at the table and scootched his chair close to Don's. "So Leo told you everything?"
"Are you okay?"
Flat pictures, echoes of memories, a quick patch-job on the breach in his mind. Don gave a little half-shrug. "I have to be, don't I?"
Mikey bumped his shoulder against Donatello's. "That's not what I asked."
Don looked away from his brother's knowing gaze, staring down at the corrugated scar on his right leg. After months of refusing to heal, his skin had closed over the wound with shocking speed. It would be a while before the scar faded, if it ever did, but the constant pain that had plagued him was all but gone, the occasional cramp or twinge the only sensation he felt.
"Well…I can't change anything," he said in a low voice. He winced a little, thinking of April's damaged home, the danger he'd put his family in just by being near them, the renewed war with the Foot… "I…I know none of it is my fault, but it still happened."
"So you don't remember anything?" Raphael asked.
"Nothing since the night you guys dropped me off at April's. I wish I did, but…" His voice trailed off as he mentally sifted through the story Leo had told him earlier, trying to keep the events in a logical order. It wasn't easy. Whether it was because the memories weren't really his or whether he was just still exhausted, he couldn't tell. As he concentrated, though, he realized there was one thing on which Leo hadn't really elaborated.
His brow furrowed a little as he asked, "What was the artifact you stole from Karai?"
Leo paused a little before he answered. "I don't know," he admitted. He took the skillet off the burner and brought plates for Mikey and Raph, giving the red-masked turtle a grateful look as he was handed a cup of coffee. "It was a medallion of some sort, but I don't know where it came from or why Bishop wanted it." He gave Don a serious look across the table. "We had other priorities."
"Who knows what he's got planned?" Don said, half to himself. Bishop was frighteningly good with technology, and if the medallion was connected with the Shredder's Utrom technology, Don didn't like to think of what the government agent would be capable of.
"Hey." Raphael frowned at him over the top of his coffee mug. "If you're thinkin' of telling us we shouldn't have done it, you better quit right now. When it comes to saving one of us, the 'what-ifs' don't matter."
The fierce protectiveness in Raph's voice helped chase away the uncertain chill that still clung to him, and he gave his brother a small but heartfelt smile. "I know."
Don didn't hear his father enter the kitchen but he knew when Splinter entered. Mikey smiled, Leo's shoulders relaxed, and Raph's habitually stern expression lightened. Splinter came up behind him and stopped beside his chair.
"Donatello. I am glad to see that you have awakened." He rested a hand on his son's shoulder. "I take it that your brothers have told you everything?"
"Yes, Sensei." Don looked down at the tabletop. "I feel like I should somehow apologize for all the trouble, but…"
"But you know there is no need," Splinter finished gently.
Don nodded once, sighing just a little. He was torn between trying to remember, trying to understand fully what had happened to him; or just letting it go and shutting it out entirely. His head felt heavy with indecision.
Splinter saw the weary look in his eyes, and his gray brow furrowed in concern. "You are still very tired, my son."
"Yes, but…I don't want to go back to bed."
"You may rest on the couch if you wish. But you are not to enter your laboratory today," Splinter added with stern fondness.
Don smiled. "It's a deal."
"Good. Although before you make yourself comfortable, perhaps you should get cleaned up first."
"I'll second that," Mikey said. "My guess is you haven't seen yourself in a mirror yet. You're pretty dirty. And you don't exactly smell like roses, either." He pushed back from the table and stretched. "C'mon, I'll give you a hand."
Raphael looked up from his own half finished breakfast and lifted a brow ridge when he saw that Mikey's plate was licked clean. "Did you even chew?" he asked.
"Question not the ways of the warrior, bro," Mikey said, causing Raph to roll his eyes and prompting a chuckle to echo deep in Leo's chest.
Don accepted Mikey's help as he rose to his feet, but he found that he didn't need quite as much support as they crossed the lair on their way to the bathroom. Now that he was completely awake and, more importantly, had eaten, he felt a good deal stronger than he had when he had first woken up.
"Think you can handle it from here?" Mikey asked once they reached the door.
"Yeah, I'll be okay."
"Okay, I'll be right back."
Don turned the hot water all the way up and climbed into the shower. He grimaced a little at the grayish streams of water that swirled down the drain, but he sighed in relief as he felt the layers of unknown grime he'd collected over the past few days washing away.
He was reluctant to step out from under the hot spray, but the heat had loosened his muscles and he was starting to feel shaky again. He caught the flash of movement out of the corner of his eye as he stepped out of the tub, but his reflexes were still sluggish, and the rolled-up towel sailing across the room smacked him in the face. He managed to catch it before it fell to the ground, shooting a glance in the direction from which it had come. Mikey waved at him, grinning cheerfully.
"Thanks," Don said dryly.
"No problemo, Dude." Mikey waited until Don had dried himself off and then crossed over to him, one hand outstretched.
Don looked down and smiled to see his mask draped across his brother's palm. As he tied the familiar strip of violet cloth around his head, the echoing emptiness inside his head seemed to shrink just a little. Mikey stepped close and ducked under his arm again, pulling him against his side as they made their way back to the main room.
Even though Mikey was moving slowly in order to accommodate Don, he couldn't hide the little bounce in his step as they walked. Don smirked as he realized that he was still humming the song about the kilt.
"…all the lassies say 'hello!' Donny, where's your troosers?"
Don huffed a laugh. "Well, if you really want to know, they're probably lost somewhere in what's left of our old lair. Unless you count a Triceraton space suit, I don't think I've worn pants since that time we disguised ourselves as Purple Dragons to bail Casey out of a tight spot."
Mikey winked at him. "You scandalous rogue."
Don rolled his eyes, but gave Mikey's shell an appreciative little pat as they arrived at the couch and he lowered himself onto the cushions. Raphael was already there. He scooted over a bit to make more room.
"What do you guys think?" Mikey asked. "Movie marathon?"
"If I can stay awake," Don answered. "What do you have in mind?"
"Tales of bravery and daring that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away?"
Leo came in from cleaning up the kitchen and sat down on Don's other side. "The original versions?"
"Naturally. Donny found 'em online a few months ago, didn't you, Don?"
Don nodded. "Yep."
"Good," Raph said. "I don't like the new versions. Everyone knows Han shot first." Leo nodded his head once in agreement and stretched his arm out along the back of the couch to bump fists with Raphael.
"You speak the truth," Mikey said solemnly. He rummaged around in his DVD bin for a few minutes before triumphantly surfacing with what he wanted. He popped the movie in and bounced over to the couch, wedging himself into the narrow gap between Don and Leo.
Don elbowed Mikey a bit to get him to scoot over and give himself a little more room, but by the time the theme song was over and the introduction had scrolled past, his brother was plastered against his side again. Don didn't have a lot of space, sandwiched between Mikey and Raph the way he was, but he found that he didn't mind. The empty chaos in his head was less overwhelming now. He could feel his pulse and breathing slowing down, pacing with his brothers'. He couldn't see Splinter, but the familiar smoky scent of incense had begun drifting through the air.
Don tried to stay awake - he really did - but by the time the Millenium Falcon had blasted its way out of Mos Eisley, his eyelids were feeling heavy. The last thing he remembered before his thoughts blinked out was a quiet discussion between Mikey and Leo debating the advantages of katana vs. lightsabers, and whether or not lightsaber nunchaku would be feasible.
He woke up some time later, feeling crowded, but very warm. He opened his eyes, blinking sleepily. He found that he'd listed a little to the right until his head had come to rest on Raphael's shoulder. Raph was snoring softly, head tilted back against the back of the couch. Mikey was curled against Don's other side in an impossibly small ball, while Leo, turned sideways, had flung his left arm across Mikey's body so his palm rested lightly on Donatello's chest.
A soft flutter of movement drew his attention and Don realized what had awakened him. Splinter appeared around the end of the couch, carrying several blankets in his arms. He had already covered Raphael, draping the soft fleece over his son without waking him, and was shaking out another blanket to cover Leonardo. Don smiled quietly, relaxing against his brothers as Splinter spread the last blanket over Michelangelo and himself. Mikey murmured a little in his sleep but did not wake, nestling closer.
Splinter stood in front of Donatello, giving him a soft, fond smile. "How do you feel?" he asked in a whisper.
A thoughtful look settled on Don's face as he took stock. His muscles still ached from days of exertion, but a lifetime of arduous training allowed his body to bounce back from stress and injury quickly, and he already felt much better than he had when he had first come back to himself in Bishop's base.
His focus turned inward as he cautiously explored the inside of his head. The memories were still gone and he knew they would not return; but the cold, blank silence of the past few days was gone, replaced by color and warmth of the present, soaking into him through his brothers. The lost feeling was gone, and instead of the dread he had felt after learning what he had done in his mutated form, he felt only the relief of peace now that the crisis had passed.
"I'm good," he answered softly.
Splinter reached out and gently rested his hand against Don's face, dark eyes lingering searchingly on his own. Whatever the old rat was looking for, he must have seen, because after a moment or two, Splinter sighed and the whiskered muzzle curved up in a smile. "It is good to see you well, my son." He stepped back, preparing to withdraw - but not before adjusting the blanket more securely over Leonardo, brushing his hand over the top of Michelangelo's head, and ever-so-carefully adjusting the angle of Raphael's head so his son wouldn't wake with a crick in his neck.
Klunk padded silently into view as Splinter walked away. His bright green-gold eyes surveyed the pile of turtles for a moment or two before he crouched, leaped, and landed softly on Donatello's lap. The cat snuggled down on top of the blanket, in the little warm space between Don and Mikey. He stretched and let out a contented purr, kneading his paws on the blanket over Mikey's plastron before he yawned and shut his eyes.
Donatello smiled tiredly and followed suit; safe, whole, and healing, he curled against his brothers and slept.