Chapter Nine

It was sunrise in the city by the time those present in the lair realised that they had been sitting on tenterhooks for five hours, awaiting for Michelangelo to wake up from what seemed to be a deep coma. Casey and April had gone home long ago, promising to return later in the day to check on Mikey.

For those five hours Donny sat, mentally evaluating the creation of the drug. The scores of processes ran through his mind at lightning speed. For every second that his brother had not woken up, he blamed himself again and again. Why hadn't he just put the vial in his bag in the first place, when he had the chance? If he had, he would not have needed to have run the great risk of re-creating the drug with inferior equipment and when he lacked both the time and experience to do it properly. He should not even have taken on the responsibility of trying to make the drug. There could have always been another way. But instead, he took on the job and until his brother woke up, if his brother ever woke up, he had failed him and his family.

Leonardo, whilst hoping and praying that Mikey would wake up, could see that Donatello was mentally beating himself, and he tried to comfort his younger brother. It took his mind off the waiting for a while, at least. He placed a comforting hand on Donny's shoulder and said, "Don't give up hope yet, bro. Give him some time." Donny looked up and nodded appreciatively.

In truth, Leonardo was not feeling as positive as he sounded. He too was blaming himself for what happened. He should have stepped in right from the beginning, pushing Raphael to apologise to Mikey, or even to talk to him himself, to try and work things out. Raphael had told him exactly why Mikey had gone out that night, not to get drunk, but to train instead, because he felt he needed the practice. In reality, Mikey was more than up to the standard of the others. He had seemingly endless energy, something that propelled him to train and spar for just that bit longer than the others, and he had the persistence to improve his skills and to make sure that he got them right. That was probably why his brother went out in the first place – he was more of a perfectionist than anyone knew. Not quite to Leonardo's degree, but Mikey liked to improve on himself.

Raphael was sat on the floor, close to the sofa, watching and waiting intently for his brother to awaken. How he wished he had just swallowed his pride and apologised in the first place! If he had done so, he could have prevented Mikey from going out that night and being attacked by the scientists. He cared deeply for his little brother, and wanted nothing more than to be able to take the pain away from him. But it was never that easy. "I'm sorry, bro," he murmured, not loud enough for anyone but Splinter's sharp ears to hear.

Master Splinter was sat in his armchair, keeping a watchful eye over his sons, particularly his youngest son. He had watched Donatello create the antidote, and saw that his bright son knew exactly what he was doing. At the time, Donatello had managed to detach himself from what he was doing, or rather, who he was doing it for, and he had no doubts about his capabilities or that he might be in over his head. Now though, having been given the time and space to do so, those doubts began to arise with each passing second that Michelangelo was not waking up. Leonardo too was having doubts and fears, but these were about his role as the big brother and as the leader. Splinter knew that in time, Leonardo would realise that he cannot take every mistake upon himself and put them right, and that not everything that goes wrong is his responsibility. And Raphael, he felt as though he had let his brother down, and that he had instigated the entire problem by teasing Michelangelo in the first place. Splinter knew that Michelangelo would unconditionally love his brother and forgive him for any wrongs caused, as was one of the unwritten terms in the bond between the two.

"When's he gonna wake up, Sensei?" Raphael asked, looking up to his Master. In a glimmer of a moment, Raphael did not look like the tough, hardened sixteen-year-old he had grown to be, but he looked like an innocent five-year-old who'd just awoken from a nightmare, and needed to be told that everything was all right. The mask only slipped for a second, though, and he instantly replaced his frowning visage.

Splinter answered, "He needs peace, Raphael. A wise man once said, a watched pot never boils."

"Yeah? You're still sitting here, same as you were five hours ago," Raphael said back cheekily. He knew it was wrong to backchat his Master. He always knew when he was doing wrong. But he still did it. It relieved some of the tension that had to sometimes relieve in other ways – usually physically. He knew he had done wrong, and he also knew that he was not about to get away with it.

"A wise man also said not to talk back to his Master," Splinter said crossly. Even though everyone was under a great amount of stress, he was not about to relent to rudeness taking place.

"Sorry, Sensei," Raphael replied apologetically.

"Master Splinter's right – he's not going to wake up any faster if we all sit here, waiting for him to," Leonardo said, standing up. "Who wants breakfast?"

"Now you're talking my language, dude," said a hoarse voice from the couch. Four pairs of startled eyes turned towards Michelangelo, and saw that he was awake and attempting to sit up.

"Take it easy, Mike," Donny said cautiously. He added another cushion in an attempt to make his brother more comfortable.

"How long have you been awake?" Raphael asked with mock suspicion. In truth, he was overjoyed to see his brother awake and looking better than he had in some days.

"Long enough to hear you try and answer back to Master Splinter – so busted, bro!" Mikey said, enjoying the slight look of unease drift over Raphael's face.

"How do you feel, Mikey?" Leonardo asked, becoming serious for a moment.

"Not bad, Leo," Michelangelo replied sincerely. His voice was still a little croaky – a telltale sign that he was weaker than his brightness and humour let on. "Did someone find some aspirin or how did I get better? And more to the point, how did I get back from the crazy scientists' lab?"

"Boy genius over there re-created the cure for you," Raph said, jerking a thumb in the direction of a blushing Donatello.

"And that was after you two, Casey and April rescued you from the AMI building," Donny reminded them, not willing to take all of the credit for the restoration of his brother's good health.

"Man, I must have missed a lot," Mikey said wistfully. He felt a little left out, having been unconscious for much of the adventure. "You guys can tell me all about it. But, before you do, someone said something about breakfast a second ago," he added, dropping the hint.

"I think we can safely say that Michelangelo is back to normal," Splinter said with a grin. With that, the rat volunteered to make breakfast, whilst the other three filled their brother in on all that he had missed.

The End

Note: The end! I wish I had a prize for everyone that made it to the end... ah well. I've warned people before and I'll warn you again, I am weak at endings, but I done my best. Thanks to everyone who reviewed, I really, really appreciate the feedback. Most of all, I hope you enjoyed reading it!