So I suppose I could start by explain how I had grown up watching and enjoying the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but somehow fell out of it as I grew older. I could continue on by saying how I got back into the show after my older sister received an old Dreamcast for Christmas just last year, and because of that we were able to play our old SNES game CD that happened to have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on it. And due to being able to play that old game, I somehow ended up watching the new TMNT show that had begun in 2003, and enjoyed it despite it being different from the cartoon I had seen back in my childhood.

However...To explain the entire story would probably take up more time and words than this prologue. I think all you guys need to know is that Donatello has always been my favorite turtle, and this is my first TMNT story.

As a true novice, I've only managed to see a sparse number of the 2003 TMNT show. So if I somehow miraculously continue on with this story, please keep that in mind. I'll try to write the best I can, but remember I'll be writing based on limited knowledge (and if someone would like to help me fix that problem by informing me of a place to view more episodes, I'd be very grateful).

I have, however, seen the episodes "Same as it Never Was", "Adventures in Turtle Sitting", and "Good Genes" part 1 and 2. As you will probably tell from this prologue, this story is going to be heavily influenced by those episodes.

Actually, that's only half true. I think what might end up happening is that for the first half of the entire story, it will be more heavily influenced by the aforementioned episodes. The second half will be heavily influenced by another episode that I've seen (and won't mention now, because I don't want to spoil the surprise).

But enough out of me. Enjoy.

Within This Nightmare

The clatter of metal against the concrete floor suddenly reverberated against the walls, startling him from his work. With quick realization, he just managed to catch his current project before it had a chance to meet the same fate with the ground.

Placing his work down on the table before him, he winced a bit as he slowly bent down and reached for the fallen tool that lay beside his feet, holding his breathe as he waited, partially expecting for someone – anyone – to leave their room and catch him at his station, working instead of being asleep as he should have been.

Fortunately for him, several minutes passed without the silence being broken. Sighing softly in relief, he placed the tool down on the table. It seemed that the clamor had been so loud only in his mind, and he wouldn't have to worry about any further chastising for not resting, especially so late at night.

Or early that morning…it was difficult to tell which.

Placing a hand to his forehead and rubbing his burning eyes, Donatello inhaled deeply and released the breath slowly. He was quite aware that he should have been sleeping at the time instead of tinkering with the various gadgets that lay strewn on his table, and truthfully he wanted nothing more than to abandon himself to sleep. It was beginning to become a struggle staying up for so long, and given his current condition he was surprised that he had managed to last that long without dropping anything else.

But what his body craved the most was what his mind refused to give. For he knew that even if he allowed himself to sleep, the nightmares that plagued him would prevent any of the peace that he desperately sought for. The dreams that haunted the darkness of his subconscious every night were far worse than any kind he had ever experienced when he had been growing up. The nightmares of his childhood were nothing compared to the ones he was having now.

Because the visions were more than just nightmares…They had once been real.

Given the type of lifestyle that his family lived – the battles they had to fight, the hardships they were forced to face, atop different aspects of ordinary house life that "normal" families would probably never have to endure – it seemed only natural that there would be certain moments that stood out from the rest in their memories…Moments of both good and bad, instances of happiness and sorrow that would reside in their minds for much longer periods of time, things that would be much harder to forget than others.

But for Donatello…he knew that the nightmares that continued to disturb him would never be forgotten, even though he wished to at least overcome them, as he had done once before. Still that desire constantly eluded him, casting him into the fearsome world of the same two terrible experiences and forcing him to relive them over and over again.

The first of the terrible dreams had occurred shortly after they all had returned from being scattered across the universe by Ultimate Draco. While his brothers had described the worlds they had seen and the events they had been involved in, he had hesitated to elucidate the full details of his own adventures to them. All he had finally told them was that the world he had visited was completely controlled by the Shredder, but they had managed to overtake him and win.

Master Splinter was the only one who knew the entire truth to his story, and it had still taken him several days before he could bring himself to confess the whole account to their sensei.

For a long time afterwards – and even sometimes still – he had such trouble looking at any of his brothers without seeing their aged, war-torn, and exhausted faces…To watch Michelangelo and not see the stump of a missing arm and the hardened, almost cold expression in those eyes…To look at Leonardo and not imagine the scars that left a grisly illustration across his head, or the sunglasses that vainly attempted to cover glossy eyes…To see Raphael and not think of the sewn-up bandana covering a missing eye or feel the desperation in that one, fleeting embrace…And even to glance at Master Splinter and never recall the sleek stone slab that marked his final resting spot with his walking stick leaning against it, almost protecting the burial place from the Shredder's menacing army just nearby.

During the day when he was with his family, he would briefly see the ghosts of these images in his mind, making it difficult for him to ever speak with them, or even to look them in the eyes. But during the night, left alone with only the darkness both around and within him…the memories returned with full force, clearly unfolding the events before him and compelling him to witness it again and again…To watch time after time as his brothers fell, one by one…to hear their last words before they finally rejoined Splinter to whatever lay beyond them…And every morning, the regret and guilt would be there to greet him, forcing him to fight for composure before setting out and interacting with his family once more.

How long the memories haunted him was hard to determine. Eventually though, with both the comforting guidance of their sensei and the passage of time, he had learned to move through the difficult visions and continue with his life. He never told his brothers the whole story, nor did he ever really allow himself to forget what had happened that day, but he had at least managed to work through the trying time and find some solace again. Even the frequency of the nightmares waned away after a certain point.

That is…until Bishop's outbreak virus caused him to undergo his second mutation.

Truth to tell, Donatello couldn't exactly recall all the events that had taken place during his monstrous transformation. Still, even the miniscule things he could remember were frightening enough. His vision had been tainted with a crimson haze, only occasionally broken long enough for him to see the remorseful gazes on the faces of his family and friends…or to see those same people he cared for desperately trying to fight him, to prevent him from doing what he knew he shouldn't have been. The sounds of his own feral snarls had drowned out most other noises, but familiar voices at times rang in his head, urgently calling out his name, pleading for him to stop.

But the truly horrible thing…the thing that had terrified him more than anything else…was the fierce rage and fury that had dictated his every action…the compelling need to attack and to fight without any reason why. And the fact that he had felt it course within his mind, and yet there had been nothing in his power to keep him from acting on it. His mind…the one true strength that he possessed for his own…had not been able to help him against the vicious beast he had become that day.

Unable to control himself…left alone with what was left of himself as the predatory creature was free to reign and attack whoever dared stand against him…he had frantically held onto what was left of his identity and refused to give into the creature that was trying to take over him completely. He forced himself to remember who he truly was, struggled to remember the life he had led, to cling to whatever was left of him before.

But to remember everything…meant to also resurface old memories that he had spent so much time trying to overcome.

Guess we really needed that level head of yours…

Hearing those words again…hearing Michelangelo's words again had brought back the same fears and doubts he had, with the strength he hadn't felt since his return from that world…that future. Even within the confines of his new savage form, he had worried…What good would he be to his family? If it was his mind that they needed the most of him, how could he help them?

And left alone with nothing but his own thoughts…thoughts that had begun to fade every moment the monster continued to exist, driving him out of his own head…a gripping fear had taken hold. It was the same dread that he had felt after learning of the consequences for his mysterious absence, the concern of seeing how broken his brothers had become. But the terror was far worse, because the nightmare was no longer limited to the future. Trapped in the body of a monster, unable to reach or be reached by them, he had been worried that the nightmare was finally coming to be.

He was truly afraid that he had failed his family…just as he had failed them before.

Even now, about a month after Leatherhead had managed to find a cure for Bishop's virus, Donatello could still recall the monster in the deepest corner of his mind. The creature was gone and never to return, he knew that, but the effects of what had happened continued to linger. Thinking of all the possible things he had done, all of the things he could have done…Even the understanding ear of his crocodilian friend did little to ease the torment that he continued to berate himself with, especially after convincing Leonardo and Leatherhead to explain everything they had gone through to get the cure for him in the first place.

Knowing of all the destruction that he had been capable of causing…of all the destruction that he had caused…and all the while his family and friends went through all the trouble to save him…making a dangerous deal with the devil…That knowledge had truly scared him. Why had they been willing to do so much, to go so far to save him like that?

When you never came back, Donnie…well, everything just…fell apart…

He winced slightly as the words echoed in his head once more. He had never actually considered himself that important to the team – and honestly, there were times when he still thought so – but just the idea that they had risked so much for him…and already seeing the possible outcome of what could happen if he was to suddenly vanish and disappear from their lives…The very notion was enough to haunt his dreams and keep him from recovering the way he needed to.

And so there he was, a month after they had returned from Bishop's headquarters and he had been restored to normal, yet still not fully recuperated because the nightmares would never allow him a single night's rest. The visions – either recollections of the broken future he had once visited, the lingering memories of his vicious transformation, or a disturbing mixture of both – constantly stormed his mind, and the only sanctuary for him was to prevent himself from sleeping as long as he could.

But he knew that he would nod off eventually, and when he did he would immediately be thrown back into the disorienting world of his dreams until he would be awakened by a member of his family.

He groaned softly, rubbing his temples firmly to dissipate the pressure that had started to collect there. As grateful as he was to his family, and as much as he cared for all of them, he was beginning to feel that they had become a little overprotective of him. He could understand their concern – if one of them had nearly died, he surely would have acted the same way – but he was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable by it all. During the day, he could feel the constant gaze of his brothers or Master Splinter, watching over him to make sure nothing happened, or to be there in case he needed something. And he could feel their curiosity as they wondered why it seemed that he wasn't getting better. If only they knew about the nightmares…

'But what if it's not just the nightmares?' he found himself thinking suddenly. 'What if there's another reason that I'm not getting better? What if there's something else that's wrong?'

He frowned thoughtfully. That had not been the first time the thought crossed his mind. But he quickly shook his head. No, there couldn't be anything else wrong with him. After everything that he and his family had been through, hadn't that been enough for a while? No, he was just tired from not being able to sleep properly. Things would get better, given time, and he would eventually learn to overcome his fears as he had before, and things would be okay again.

Inhaling deeply, Donatello released it in a soft, shaky breath as he placed his hand on his plastron. That was what he wanted to believe…but for some reason the doubt continued to linger in the back of his mind. The strange, sinking feeling that something wasn't quite right…Was he just paranoid? Were his nightmares just getting the better of his sense of reasoning? Or maybe…was it really something else?

It wasn't often for him to wish that he was wrong. But in this particular case…as he played around with the idea that there was still something keeping him from getting better…he realized that nothing would make him happier.


That's a lot darker than some other stories I've ever written. Oh well.

As I've mentioned earlier, I've only seen a few episodes of this show. The note in the summary was meant to infer that, while this story doesn't exactly take place immediately after "Good Genes" (which is what I usually mean with notes like that) and instead occurs much later on, it takes place after that episode in a time before the episode "Ninja Tribunal." In fact, that episode and everything that happened after it probably won't coincide with this story at all. But such is the way of a creative writer.

Anyway please review, and no flames if it can be helped. I really hope to continue, but I'm a bit stuck on something in the first chapter at the moment. With any luck, I'll get unstuck soon...and I won't die this semester. We shall see.