I open my eyes. There is something above me, touching my face, covering my body. A sheet. I lift my hand weakly and take it off, sitting up on the table. I look around me, I'm back in the lab. Mike is sitting in the corner, his face buried in the hollows of his hands. He looks up.

"Leo..?" he leaps to his feet and runs to me, throwing his arms around my body. My living body.

"Jesus, Leo... I thought you were dead! I was... I was too late with the antidote... I thought I lost you!"

I swing my feet off the bed and stand on the floor, swaying back and forth. My body is coated with a sheen, a thin oil... I look into Mikes eyes and suddenly I remember everything.

"Raph... Don..." I say, breathing hard. "Where are they?"

Mike puts his hands on my cheeks. "Leo... they died. Don't you remember..?"

"I... I remember..."

I run out of the lab, it is hard to do without falling. Mike follows after me. We get to the vaults that we had constructed for our brothers, I start to pound through the bricks around Don's, my fists turn bloody as the skin on my knuckles breaks. I burst through with one final blow and a cascade of red oil pours to the floor. I look within. Don lies silently still. But his throat is whole, there is no sign of slit, no remaining scar. I touch his arm and he draws in a breath, sitting up in the space and striking his head against the short ceiling.

Mike covers his mouth and his eyes start to flow. He breaks through the bricks on Raph's grave as I pull Don onto the floor. Donatello looks into my eyes and shudders. He wraps his arms around me... he remembers dying... he remembers that place... he remembers me being there...

Raphael lets out a scream as he is thrust back into life. Mike is holding him tightly. He won't let him go... he won't lose him again. We are all crying, all holding to one another. We were given back this life, given back a chance.

Raph crawls to my side and reaches out with a sickened hand, touching my own. "...Leo... what the hell happened to us? I remember being held under water and then I woke up somewhere... a place... there was somebody there and you..."

I wrap my hand over his shoulder and Mike joins us all in our embrace. We're together now, someday we will go apart again - but now...

I look above me. Charbel, he gave the last piece of himself to me. Gave me the remains of himself. I know that somewhere the child lives, that he will wake from what he thought was a dream...

-

I rub my head and look at Don where he sleeps on his bed. I walk to his computer and sit down - I need to find something out. It has been weighing on my mind. Who was he... where had he come from? I turn on the computer and type in the name. I think I spelled it right. Don has set up his computer for the most thorough searches...

The screen flashes to life with a simple text, black letters on a stark white background. I read the words:

Soon after Charbel Makhlouf, a Maronite monk at the St. Maroun monastery at Annaya, Lebanon, was buried in 1898, strange lights were seen around his grave. He had been buried, like others of his order, without a coffin, and after the lights had been seen for several weeks his body was disinterred. Heavy rains had flooded the grave, but despite this the body was found to show no trace of decomposition. It was washed, dressed in new clothes, and placed in a wooden coffin in the monastery chapel. Before long a strange oily liquid was noticed suffusing the body. It smelled of blood and seemed to be a mixture of blood and sweat, but whatever it was, it seeped through the skin in such quantities that the body's clothing had to be changed twice a week. Strips of the saturated cloth were said to have remarkable healing properties.

Twenty-nine years after Charbel's death, his body was examined by doctors and pronounced free from corruption. Their report, together with the testimony of other eyewitnesses, was sealed in a zinc tube and placed with the body in a wood-lined zinc coffin, which was then placed in the monestery wall and bricked over. That was in 1927.

In 1950 pilgrims noticed that a curious liquid was seeping through the wall in front of the coffin. The tomb was broken open, the coffin removed, and again in the presence of ecclesiastical and medical authorities, opened for examination of the body.

By every appearance Charbel might have been merely asleep. His clothing was partly rotted and was soaked in the oily fluid, much of which had congealed inside the coffin. The zinc tube containing the evidence of the previous examination was badly corroded.

Since 1950 the body has been examined and the oily exudation, which had accumulated to a depth of about three inches, has been removed from the coffin for curative dispensation. Charbel Makhlouf was canonized in 1977.

I sit back from the computer and look behind me at my brother as he sleeps peacefully. I stand and walk out the door, into the kitchen. Mike is at the corner, chopping a daikon.

"Mike?"

He jumps and I hear him yell. He looks at his hand where he just cut himself with the knife. I walk forward, looking at the blood coating his hand. Something...

I pick up the knife and pull it across my own palm.

"What are you doing?" Mike asks, shocked.

I don't know. I look at my palm as it bleeds. But the bleeding stops, the oil begins to flow. We watch as the skin on my hand reforms itself, healing before our eyes. He draws in a quick breath and looks at me. I smile and press my oil-coated hand to his wound. Seconds later I take it away, we look at his hand. The wound is gone.

"How..?" he stutters. "Leo... how did you do that?"

I smile again and look at the slick liquid as it absorbs back into my skin. "I don't know," I admit.

Yes, I do know...

A gift... one that I'll have forever. Charbel gave to me that last part of him - that incorruptibility. His gift - the life and the health of me and mine. As long as I remain by my brothers, as long as I can reach out to them when they are in need - as long as this ointment flows through my veins...

We will live on.

-


The End

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