This one shot was written in response to Good Genes part 2 fiction challenge by Goddess of Idun. Goddess of Idun, thank you for posting such an interesting challenge. In the Clouds and Pacphys, thanks for wonderful reviews on Stealthy Stories board!
We had to make a deal with Bishop, one of our worst enemies, to get Don back to normal. On top of that, when we finally did get Don back, we barely managed to escape Area 51 before the entire place self-destructed. What I remember most from the flight back was Master Splinter holding Don's head on his shoulder just like he did when we were little.
When we got back to the lair, Master Splinter fussed over Don and immediately had all of us help Don get comfortable on the couch. When I fetched the tea Master Splinter asked me to make for Don, I found him bundled up snuggly on the couch with a faint blush on his face. His eyes were downcast slightly looking at where his hands were buried under the covers, a sure sign that he's embarrassed by the attention he's getting. I wouldn't be surprised if he was twiddling his fingers under the covers too.
Suddenly Master Splinter's clearing throat jolted me out of my observation. "Leonardo, is the tea ready?"
"Yes, Master Splinter." I handed him the tea which he then handed to Don. Don made a face at the taste of the tea but obediently sipped it. We all watched him sip his tea in silence. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, lest he would change back to the monster if I looked away for a second. He looked so fragile, bundled up on the couch with the same sort of dark rings under his eyes we usually see when he's exhausted from one of those crazy all-nighters he pulls sometimes.
"Uh, do any of you mind telling me how we happened to be at Agent Bishop's facility? I frankly don't remember anything after getting to April's. I bet I have few days of gap in my memory," asked Don looking up at us breaking the awkward silence .
Everyone stopped talking and moving, not even to take a breath. I, for one, was torn between wanting to fill him in and not bothering him with knowledge of what we did to get him back. Was I feeling guilty about having to make a deal with Bishop to get him back? And for stealing that pendant from Karai? Maybe a little but not really. Karai deserved more than that for what she did to our family while I was away; I had to do what needed to be done to get Don back, even if that meant selling my soul to the devil. But somehow, I felt Don would feel burdened by what we had to do for him. I didn't want him to feel that way.
Before anyone could utter a word, especially Mikey, Master Splinter came to the rescue by telling Don that everyone had a difficult day and that everyone should be in bed.
"We will tell you what happened tomorrow morning when everyone has rested, my son".
Don again looked where his hands would be at in a thoughtful mode and then we heard him sigh, as if in defeat. Of course, Don didn't like to be kept in the dark but he didn't go against Master Splinter's orders without a logical reason either. I saw him start to pull himself up from the couch and I rushed forward to help him up and get the covers off from him. I offered to help him to his bedroom and we started a slow ascent to his room in silence and I could tell everyone was watching every step we took up the stairs.
Shortly after Don went to his room, April and Casey left for their homes and we all went to our beds. I don't think I slept a wink and others probably didn't get much sleep either through the ordeal. But despite how much sleep I needed, I couldn't immediately go to sleep. I was too excited about getting Don back to us in one piece. I kept going through my mind what we would have done if something went wrong and Don died.
"You're a worry wort, Leo. Don's back and he's OK and well. He's not a growling, ferocious monster that doesn't recognize his family and friends any more' I told myself repeatedly but I couldn't help this urge to go check on Don: make sure he's back to his normal self and stays that way. "I might as well go check on him. I might get some sleep once I do", I mumbled quietly to myself and pushed myself out of the bed.
There weren't any lights on Don's room, but my night vision was good enough I could see Don lying on his bed along with Raph and Mikey sitting on the floor next to his bed! Those two troublemakers! I am going to have their shell. Can't they just let Don rest even for a day? What did they break this time to run to his room at wee hours?
"Hey, what are you guys doing up? Don needs sleep. You shouldn't be here disturbing him!" I proceeded to get them out of Don's room.
However, Don frantically waved his hands to stop me. "Leo, it's OK. I couldn't sleep so I asked them to keep me company. Mikey's doing a good job of giving me hand massage to get my circulation moving, see?" Don was quick to defend them, showing what Mikey was doing to make me calm down a bit.
"Alright then but you really need to get some rest, and that's means getting some sleep. Wait a minute, you are cold? I am going to get Leatherhead to check on you.", I was already on my way out when again he stopped me by saying, "No! Leo, come back. I am just tired, that's all. Please don't bother Leatherhead so late. If I am still cold in the morning, you call Leatherhead about it, deal?"
Don can be so stubborn at times. He can be almost as stubborn as Raph, at his own expense. If anyone else is sick, he would be all over it, insisting that the 'patient' follow his suggestion (more like an order) and won't take no for an answer. But if it's him, he doesn't worry until he's already too sick. I really don't know why he does that. Can't he see that it doesn't do any good to rest of us? Even though I was upset, I found myself thinking that the three of them looked so cozy in Don's room together. Well, he does look more lively than when he was on the couch. I could keep an eye on him if I stay with him, right?
"OK, deal. However, I am going to keep an eye on you till you fall asleep, got it?" with that said, I sat on the chair near his desk.
"Alright. Come on, Leo, join us. You can keep me company too. How about you giving me a foot massage?" Don asked, holding his leg up, wriggling his toes in the air.
"Oooh, you're getting everyone to do things for you today, nice going, Don" Raph teased.
"Well, since everyone is so obliging today, I might as well take advantage of it while I can." Don flashed us his mischievous grin.
Mikey, tired of giving Don a hand massage, plopped up on the bed altogether and made himself comfortable next to Don who didn't protest. "Remember when we were little, we used to share one bed? We all huddled together inside one blanket to keep warm in the winter?" said Mikey.
"Yeah, that was when we didn't have a heater. Man, was it cold, back then. The first heater you fixed, Don, that was god's sent" commented Raph.
"Well, you know, my name means god's gift. I strive to live up to my name" countered Don, giving Raph a cheeky grin.
Don must be feeling better to be bantering with Raph like that. That relieved me a bit and I decided to join the guys next to the bed.
"Move over, Raph. Foot massage, coming right up". I took up Don's foot and started the massage. Don's foot was icy cold! It wasn't unusual at night when it was cold since we are cold-blooded but I didn't like that he had so many layers of blankets and still has cold feet. If Don didn't act like his usual self, I would have called Leatherhead right then but I pushed my worries away and instead, I continued massaging.
"Ummm, that's nice. Thanks, Leo" Looking up, I saw gratitude in Don's eyes that was saying million things. I wondered if he guessed what went on while he turned into a growling monster. Suddenly, I wasn't sure if I wanted him to know the details come morning as sensei promised him in the evening. I quickly broke the eye contact with Don, lest he could see my thoughts. Am I afraid Don will judge me for my actions? If Don knew what I was thinking, he would tell me I am being illogical. 'What has happened has happened, so why worry?' But I couldn't shake off the guilty feeling. After all, this wouldn't have happened in the first place if we were attentative of his symptoms earlier.
Suddenly, we heard sniffling. We could immediately tell it was coming from Mikey who had been unusually quiet next to Don.
"Mikey, what's the matter?" Don asked softly, trying to extract Mikey's head from where he had lodged into the corner of Don's pillow.
"You won't ever leave us? Promise?" Mikey's muffled voice asked, his silent crying growing stronger.
"I will never leave you if I can help it. I promise you that. Mikey, please, what's wrong? Why are you worried about me leaving?" Don asked worriedly, his voice quivering with emotion, I could only identify with fear.
"But you almost did!" Mikey looked up to Don with his angry eyes and started pounding on Don's plastron with his fist. "I hate you, I hate you! Why don't you take care of yourself more? Do you think you are doing us a favor by pushing yourself hard? You are just like Leo, you know that?"
I think all of us were shocked by Mikey's uncharacteristic outburst that we just sat there dumbfounded, letting Mikey go on with his rant. He's probably channeling his pent up anxiety on Don now that the crisis is over. I recovered from the initial surprise and held Mikey's hands to keep him from hitting Don. "Shush, Mikey. Let it go. Everything's back to normal and Don's OK. Come on, Mikey, calm down." Inwardly, I sighed, knowing that cat's out of the bag and Don will never rest until he gets the story about what happened. Well, so much for keeping it secret till morning. Mikey was still crying but he didn't offer any resistance and he just pushed his face back into the pillow and Don sat up to give Mikey's shell a hug.
"Oh, Mikey. I don't know what happened but I guess I was bad, huh? Can you forgive me, just this once?", Don whispered softly to Mikey and then looked towards me and Raph, his eyes asking for explanation. From the corner of my eyes, I could tell Raph flinched when Don turned his gaze on us. Telling myself that someone had to tell Don sooner or later anyway, I steeled myself and launched into explanation.
"You mutated into a monster from that cut on your leg. Leatherhead told us that your cells were breaking down and we will loose you if you didn't get help fast so we made a deal with Bishop to get you back to normal." I put it simply.
"I see," was all Don said. Don's expression however told me that cogs in his brain were turning faster than I could imagine, playing over every possible situation that could have happened.
"I owe all of you an apology then. Everyone risked a lot on my behalf. I should have checked myself when that flu didn't go away after a month or two. I was stubborn, wasn't I? Can you forgive me?" asked Don looking at us with his eyes glassy with gathered tears.
"It wasn't your fault. Heck, it wasn't anybody's fault, except for that scoundrel, Bishop. No one blames you and you don't hafta apologize to us. We're just happy you're back to normal", assured Raph, reflecting my sentiment. I nodded to Don to show that I felt the same way too.
Suddenly, Mikey shot up and hugged Don, mumbling apologies for his previous behavior. True to his character, Mikey never stayed angry for too long. Don just hugged him back, rocking him back and forth, a movement that was comforting to all of us.
I don't know why but Mikey's reactions punched a hole in the wall I constructed around myself to keep the emotions in check during our ordeal to get Don back. All of sudden, I felt my eyes going moist and felt overwhelming joy and love for my geeky brother. I launched myself at Don like Mikey and hugged both of them. "I love you, Don". Surprisingly, Mr.Macho-Man, Raph, joined us to in the group hug and we sat there hugging each other for I don't know how long.
Next morning, Master Splinter found us all sleeping on Don's bed, huddled together. All of us got a scolding but he didn't make us do the flips for punishment he would have normally given us. Feeling lucky, we all got up and surprised him with a hug. When I saw a bright smile on his face and tears of happiness, I couldn't have asked for a better ending to our recent ordeal. Our family is whole again and that's all we needed.