Disclaimer: Don't own but I wish I did. I would be making millions! Not to mention I would have four turtles and a rat in my apartment.
I blame this on a plot bunny that wouldn't stop chewing on my leg at work. There is some mention of blood but nothing to graphic.
Life is filled with hardships and disappointments. Especially if you're a five foot tall talking turtle who just happens to be a ninja. I knew when I was young life was going to be difficult for my brothers and I but I had been hoping that we could at least live in peace and quiet. However fate had decided to play us a cruel had and we have found ourselves hunted and hounded by thugs, Foot ninjas, alien races and government agencies intent on dissecting us. So far my brothers and I have managed to stay alive and well but we have had more then our fair share of close calls.
Right now is no exception.
At one point we had called her ally and we had honestly hoped that the Foot ninjas would never bother us again under her leadership. That never happened and now I would love nothing more then to through her off a building or push her through a dimensional wormhole. Karai has become the new Shredder, claiming that the only reason she adopted the mantel was to claim revenge for her father exile. She blamed us because we were the ones to capture him and then turned him over to the Utrom council for sentencing. She found the Lair –our home- and destroyed it, almost taking us with it
We were lucky to escape and regroup, finding refuge in an old pumping station for Turtle pond under the park. We were alive but everything we had known and owned was gone. All the work I had put into the Lair, all of my notes, schematics, theories and inventions I had built were destroyed in a matter of minutes. It's hard to start over from scratch, especially when you had put so much work into something. Yes, if given the chance I would push Karai through a worm hole or off a building or I could just lock her into a room with Raph and Mikey. Raph would give anything just to pound her and Mikey was as mad as I have ever seen him when he realized that his comic book collection was destroyed in the attack.
Wishing and doing are to completely different things. It was decided that before we repaid Karai for the destruction she had done, we had to make the pumping station into a more suitable home. My brothers and I were out looking through the dumpsters and at junkyards for salvageable parts and supplies when a group of Foot ninjas found us.
They had just come out of no where. I was just standing up to let Leo and Raph know that I was done with this dumpster when something hit me from behind. I was flat on my plastron, blinking in confusion as why I was in that position with something heavy on my shell. I heard Raph yell something and the clanging of metal on metal as Leo began to wield his katanas. None of us had suspected the attack to come from the end of a dead end ally.
I felt more then saw the ninja perched on my shell was lifting his sword to stab through the back of my neck. I was too dazed to attempt to dodge the blade or throw the man off. Luckily, Mikey was in the dumpster with me and was still hidden underneath the garbage that we had been looking through. He exploded out of the trash heap just in front of me and swung what looked like a dirty diaper knocking the ninja off me. He said something witty and humorous but I was to busy rolling out of the dumpster and getting ready to fight.
I won't bore you with the details of that fight but needless to say, Leo gave a retreat order. We could have taken that patrol but they had no doubt radioed our position to other ninjas. I agreed with Leo's decision rather then Raph's who wanted to stay and fight. We split up, Mikey and Leo head over to the next street to slip down a manhole and Raph and I went down the manhole in that alley. We were to go in opposite directions and make sure that no one followed us back to the Lair.
We had barely moved half a city block underground when we ran into another ninja patrol moving through the sewers. Raph growled and through himself at the first wave of ninjas with me right behind him. I never did fully understand my older brother's violent and bloodthrist tendencies. We're exactly opposites; Raph is more of an act first, think later guy while I spend most of my time thinking rather then acting.
It was after I had taken down a third ninja that I realized two of the ninjas were hanging back and digging through what looked like a duffle bag. Their comrades were fighting us with a ferocity that matched Raph when he was seriously mad at Leo and taking out his ire on the training mats. I watched closely as they rustled around in the duffle bag and realized that they were putting something together. I heard Raph yell at me to pay attention as he blocked an incoming strike at my head. I swung my bo back and hit the goon in the stomach, taking my eyes off the ninjas that had captivated my attention for a second before looking back.
My eyes widened considerably as I saw the serious fire power that they had brought.
It was a laser guided rocket launcher.
And they were aiming right at us.
"Raph! Move!" I yelled as I knocked him aside. The rocket zipped past us and hit the wall farther down the tunnel. The explosion rocked the tunnel and everyone was scrambling to avoid the falling debris. Raph and I ran down the tunnel, we were seriously out matched and a tactical retreat was necessary. We ducked into another service tunnel and I realized our mistake when the water came up to our hips. I heard Raph swear and looked up to realize we had just run into a dead end tunnel.
We both turned to see the ninjas were standing at the mouth of the tunnel with the launcher pointing at us. If I could time it just right I might be able to send the missile back at them or I could miss and kill us. Since the ninjas seemed intent on killing us anyways I watched the barrel of the weapon, calculating the angle and trajectory of the missile. The shot would come between us slightly above waist level. I took my bo in my other hand and held it at ready, the timing was going to be critical.
A sudden yell shocked me and I turned my head to see that Raph, in his true hotheaded fashion, was attempting to charge the ninjas. Or at least try to with the water coming up over his knees. I jumped after him, "Raph! NO!" I pulled him back and shoved him farther back into the tunnel. I saw him spin around and fall down in the water at the same time I heard the pouf of the rocket as it left the barrel.
I swung and hit the rocket with a wild strike. I knew I was in trouble, I hadn't hit the rocket right. It could go anywhere now. It spun upwards and the tunnel rattled as it struck the ceiling. I jumped backwards trying to avoid the cave in only to have something hit my shoulder and shove me under the cold water. I felt things settling over my legs as blackness stole away my vision. I knew I was going to drowned.
I only hoped that Raph was alright.
"Ow," I said when I came up outta the water holding my head. Donnie had some explaining to do and it better be good because he was some going to be pounded for tryin' to drown me. I grumbled as I looked toward the entrance to the tunnel only to see it that the tunnel was completely caved in. I should have known Donnie had a plan. I shook my head to clear it a little and said, "Yer tryin' to kill me, brainic? Guess we're stuck here for now."
I didn't hear any remark or even any other noise despite my own breathin'. "Donnie?" I glanced around I the gloom of the small space I was in looking for any sign of my brother. My eyes laid on the pile of debris in front of me and my stomach clenched in sudden realization.
"DONNIE?!" I yelled I panic as I waded towards the pile. This couldn't be happen. I had been so stupid! Why couldn't I slow down and think for once? I should have known Donnie had a plan, he always had a plan. I had noticed Donnie's stance, I should have known what he was going to do. Shell! He's gotta be okay.
"Donnie?! Where ya at brianic?!" I yelled as I waded up to the pile. I felt my foot hit something soft and without even thinkin' twice I dove beneath the water.
I had kicked his arm. It almost looked like he was lyin' on his side with his legs buried up to his thighs in rubble. I gritted my teeth and began to clear away the debris. I began to move faster when I realized he wasn't movin' to assist me in any way. He was just limp as his arms drifted slightly in the water.
My air was beginning to run out and his calves were still partly covered. Without thinkin' twice I gabbed and pulled him free in one swift jerk. I was hopin' I hadn't hurt him any more then he already was. I broke the surface of the water gasping in air only to have it freeze in my lungs when I realized Don wasn't breathin'.
Donnie had trained all of us in basic first aid and he was always forcing us to do regular CPR drills. Every few months he would get us all together in the kitchen and tell us about CPR no matter how much Mikey would whine about it. He even had Master Splinter sit through it. This had to be the first time I have ever been glad I had to sit and be bored out of my skull every three months for several hours.
First step I need to get Donnie laying down on a hard flat surface…
Okay someone definitely hates me. I'm hip deep in water with a brother who isn't breathing and there is nowhere I can lay Don down to perform CPR. I look down at Donnie's way to still face and try to think of something else I can do. I have to get the water out of his lungs. I need to… it suddenly hits me like a ton of bricks.
I need to force the water outta his lungs like I do air.
I turn him around so he is facing me and hold him upright as best as I can with one hand. "Sorry, Don," I whispered as I hauled back. "This is for your own good," with that I hit him as hard as I could in the solar plexus, right where I would hit someone to knock the air outta their lungs. Nothing happened, there were still no signs of life from my younger brother so I hit him again. I was about to strike a third time when I heard a choked sound coming from him and I could hear the piddling of water as it trickled outta his mouth.
"That's right, Don," I said more to myself then him. "Just keep breathing," I looked around the small space we were trapped in as I arranged Don against me in a semi comfortable position. I pulled the strap for his duffle off his shoulder and tossed it behind me, not really caring where it landed. By the looks of it I could be holding Don up for a while and the less excess weight the better.
Instead of hearing the splash like I had expected I heard a thump. I looked over and in the dim light I could make out Donnie's bag sitting above where the water was. I walked over and stubbed my toe on what appeared to be a ledge. I carefully held Donnie to me as I ran my hand along the slab in front of me. It looked like the explosion had knocked loose part of the ceiling and made a kind of shelf along the one wall.
"Okay," I said as I shifted Donnie's dead weight around so that I could get him up on the ledge. "You stay up here while I try gettin' us outta here." I don't know why I was talking to Donnie, I knew he was out. I guess it was more like a comfort.
I was startled when he hissed in pain. "Don?" I asked thinking he was awake. I twisted him around to lay on his stomach instead of his side. He was still out I realized as I began routing through his bag looking for the flashlight that I knew he always carried. I hoped it was shock and water proofed as I pulled it out and flipped it on.
Shell, that's a lot of blood.
Don's right shoulder has been torn open by something and he's bleeding all over the slab. "Shell," I said as I start digging around in Don's bag looking for something to help stop the bleeding. The wound looks serious and I doubt our bandanas would be able to cover the wound. All I found in the bag were electronics, gizmos, gadgets, and what looked like a soggy pad of paper but nothing to help with a bleeding wound. "Shell!" I said again pounding the rock near Donnie's head. There nothing in there that could…
Donnie is so going to kill me.
Don loves his duffel. I've never known him to be very materialistic but when it came to that bag it was his pride and joy. I think he actually loved that thing. He had it ever since we were kids, toting it around sewers when we went out gathering. I never knew how he got it, I think he went into a store for it and bought the darn thing. All I knew was that one day he went missing and when he came back he had the bag.
I'm going to get him a new bag, I thought as I upended it and used my sai to cut through the heavy material. I cut it into several strips using the excess to wipe away the blood and hopefully some of the debris outta the wound. Using the strips I made the best bandage I could under the circumstances. It wasn't pretty but it would hold.
I quickly checked over him looking for any other injuries. There were some cuts and bruises but the swelling of his left ankle was what caught my attention. I hoped that it was only a bad sprain but judging by the size it was a whole shell of a lot worst.
I sighed and turned off the flashlight leaving it near Donnie's head. No sense in wasting the batteries, there was no telling how long we would be stuck in here. I turned toward the pile of rubble, time to see if there was a way for us to get outta here.
I had fallen asleep on the lab table again I thought sleepily as I sighed into the hard surface. Usually one of my brothers or Sensei would wake me up but I guess they had all already gone to bed. I shift my head around on the hard metal surface, not quite ready to wake up. Why is there sand on my desk? Was I experimenting again? I hope I didn't leave the Bunsen burner on again.
That was when they pain hit.
I gasped and jerked. Where the shell am I? The pain in my shoulder is a sharp ache as if someone was driving a hot nail through it. My left ankle was a whole other story. It feels like I took a kunai and shove it through to the bone. I blinked my eyes open only to find myself in shadows. The faint light that was coming from somewhere behind me allowed me to distingue shapes in the darkness but not much else.
I felt around me with my left hand trying to figure out where I was. Had the Foot caught me? What had happened to Raph? Was he okay? My hand found the edge of what I was laying on and I traced it down the rough side till my fingertips touched water. I hissed and pulled my hand back, that water was cold.
"Don?" came a very familiar gruff voice from behind me. "You awake?"
"Raph?" I asked. Shell, they had caught him too. I tried to sit up using my good hand as leverage and began to achieved a semi upright position.
"Donnie, stay put," Raph said and I heard the sound of loose gravel and rocks sliding and falling with plopping sounds into the water. "Don't move around."
I was starting to feel dizzy and sick to my stomach as I remained partially upright. It made sense, I had been laying prone for who knew how long and my heart was unused to having to pump blood to the wounds and to my now vertical head. My blood pressure was bottoming out. There was a splash as something big hit the water and the sounds of water lapping against various objects as Raph came towards me.
A familiar hand was placed on my shoulder, "Easy Donnie." Raph gently pushed down on my shoulder till I laid down again, "It's okay just lay down."
"Where? What?" I mumbled and relaxed onto the hardness of whatever I was laying on. My big brother was with me and my mind decided that that meant I was safe no matter what.
"Just take it easy," I heard him say as he patted the rock I was on looking for something in the darkness. His hand found it and he said, "Close yer eyes." I did and a few moments later a light flared up from the other side of my eye lids. "How are you feeling?" he asked as he poked at the large bandage on my shoulder.
"In pain," I moaned as he went to look at my ankle having been satisfied that the bandage on my shoulder was doing the trick. He just barely touched my leg and pain boiled up it and into my lower back. I gasped and he instantly pulled his hand away with a mumbled apology. "I think it's safe to say," I hissed through clenched teeth as I tried to keep from throwing up. "That my ankle is definitely broken."
"Prob'ly my fault," Raph admitted in a slightly sheepish tone. Raph was hardly ever sheepish or embarrassed about anything. "It was either that or ya would've drowned."
I just nodded my head, the lesser of the two evils. I glanced around the room we were trapped in as best as I could. "Where are we anyways?"
"Still in that same tunnel," the flashlight beam pointed back to where I assumed the caved in tunnel was. "Ya prevented the bomb from killing us but ya brought down the roof."
I nodded. My memories were a little fuzzy and jumbled. I contributed it to head trauma. "Did it decide to land on me?"
"Close enough. Somethin' took a chunk outta yer shoulder and I had to drag yer out the last few feet. That's prob'ly what happened to yer ankle."
The bright light from the flashlight was starting to give me a headache so I let me eyes close. The light was still there but it wasn't half as bright as it had been. "Are you alright?" I had to ask. He seemed alright but then again this was Raph and he was really good at hiding his injuries.
"Lost several years off my life when I realized you were buried under all that," I could just imagine him jabbing his thumb in the direction of the cave in.
"I'm sorry, I was-"
"I know," he let his hand rest on my good shoulder and gave it a small squeeze. "It's my fault. I jumped the gun." I saw the light behind my lid go out and I opened them.
"Raph," I said trying to take some of the blame for our predicament. It wasn't all his fault, "I didn't tell you what I was going to try and do. Don't blame yourself."
He laughed. Raph rarely laughs, he chuckles a lot, especially at Mikey's antics, but I've only seen him really laugh a handful of times. His laughter boomed around the small chamber and I felt a smile spread across my face. The headache was worth hearing him laugh. "We sound like a pair of kids begging fer candy." I can barely make out his shadow as he shakes his head. "Let's say it was both our faults and call it even."
"Okay, we're even."
"Good. Now try and get some rest," I could hear him move away from the rock I was laying on, heading back to the debris.
"Have you called the others and let them know we're okay?" I asked propping myself up on my good elbow. "They could help us dig our way out."
"First, yer suppose to be restin' not diggin'," he said in that stern no argument voice he always reserved for Leo if he thought he was being pushy, which in Raph's book was all the time. "Yers is some where under all these rocks and mine's waterlogged or somethin'. I can't even get it to turn on."
"And me without my tool kit," I sighed and laid back out on my temporary bed.
"Don't worry, ya can fix it when we get home. Now get to sleep."
I chuckled, "Sir, yes, sir." I had been planning on staying awake for a while to see if there was some way I could help Raph get us out of the tunnel but my eyes were to heavy and I found myself falling asleep to his muttered cursing and the sounds of rocks being shifted around in gravel.
I waited until I could hear Don's breathin' even out before poundin' the wall next to me in frustration. I was so not cut out for this coming up with a plan routine. I think for now on I'll leave that to Leo. Don needed medical attention, which I barely knew half of, and I need to get him home on my own. There was no way in shell I was letting Don try walkin' on his ankle.
I pull another rock out of the tunnel and push it off to the side where it slides a few inches before stopping in all the gravel and sand. I check to see if I could fit through the small tunnel and sigh when I realize I still need to lose more on the lower left side. The good thing was when the tunnel was big enough for me to fit through then Don would definitely be able to fit through, he was smaller then me.
I began to dig through the rocks and dirt, occasionally checking to see if the tunnel was large enough and using my sais to pry free some of the larger rocks. It was taken for freakin' ever to get out of this mess. As far as I could figure it had been several hours since the tunnel collapsed. Splinter and Mikey and Leo had to be worried by now. With all the stunts Karai's pulled lately I would probably be freaking too.
Checked the hole and grinned when I could fit most of my body through. We were almost out. As I went back to diggin' with renewed vigor, I had to ask myself now what? I don't make the plans or figure out strategies like Leo and Don. I'm the action guy, the one who carries the plans out. I punch first and ask questions later.
I push on a large rock and it rolls out the other side. Finally I got through this mess. Now I just gotta widen it a little more and figure out what the shell I'm going to do. Donnie needs to get home and the sooner the better. I'm no doc and he probably need to see one by the time we get outta here.
The easiest thing for me to do would be to leave Don here, run home and get the others to come back and help me with him. That plan had one to many if's for my liking. What if Karai's ninja's found him? What if some of those mutant roaches came by looking for a snack? What if the remained of the tunnel gave out? What if Bishop was takin' a stroll and decided to stick his head in here?
Since I didn't want to do things the easy way I opted for my other plan. Carry Donnie home on my shoulders. It's not like I was worried about the carryin' Donnie part, he was the lightest outta all of us. Bet it had something to do with him living on an almost pure coffee diet. He should write a book about it or somethin' and make some money. I was worried about everything between home and us. The sewers really weren't a very safe place anymore and I had a feeling that at some point I would end up dropping Don to thump somethin' or someone intent on either cavin' our heads in or havin' an easy dinner.
I can fit through the tunnel I made now. I crawl through to the other side and glance around trying to see if anything was attached to all the noise I had made diggin'. After waiting and listenin' for a few minutes I snuck out of the tunnel with a sai in each hand. Sticking to the shadows I walked up to the main tunnel. When nothin' out there caught my eye I twirled my sais and headed back to get Donnie.
It was high time we went home.
I went back through my tunnel and carefully slid down the embankment to land in the ice cold water. I didn't want to dislodge to many rocks and make it harder to climb up the debris pile especially if I was goin' to have Don over my shoulder. As I waded through the water I found myself glad that it hadn't rise, if it had we both would have drowned long before I would have dug us out.
Don was laying still as a board and if it wasn't for the rise and fall of his shell I would've have thought he had died. That was a unpleasant thought. "Hey Donnie," I said as I put a hand on his good shoulder. "Donnie, come on. Ya gotta get up now." I gave him a gentle shake but then froze when I realized I could've hurt him worst.
"Mmmmmmm….." he moaned sleepily seeming barely disturbed by my shake. He slowly opened his eyes and gave me a completely blank look until it dawned on him the events of the past few hours. "Raph?" he glanced around noticing the increased light in the room. "You got through?"
"Yeah, I got us out. Now it's time to get home," I moved to pick him up only to have him wiggle out of my grip and start to get to his hands and knees. "Don, stop that and let me get a grip on ya shell."
"You don't have to carry me," he insisted as he began to shift around so he could slide off his improvised bed. "I can walk."
"Like shell ya gonna," I growled. Outta my bros I was easily the strongest and while it meant I had to do a lot of the heavy liftin' it also meant I got my way. I normally don't try strong arming my brothers but there was no way I was going to let Donnie walk on that ankle. With barely a grunt of effort I grabbed the belt around his waist and lifted him up onto my shoulder in one fluid movement. He gasped, not use to me muscling him around. I usually saved that privileged for Mikey and sometimes -when he was being a real pain- Leo. "Yer said yerself yer ankle was broken."
Don was quite and didn't move around as I slogged through the water. Don was a smart guy. He knew when he was beaten. I got us both up to the tunnel and set him down near the entrance, I was going to go first and make sure no one decided to come looking at the collapse. I took a quick second to glance over his shoulder to make sure the bandage was still holding up and winced when I realized how blood soaked the heavy canvas had become.
"Hey Raph?" Don asked as I checked the knot to make sure it was as tight as it could go. I just grunt and he continued, "Where's my bo?"
I realized I never did look for it. I had my mind on more important things then that piece of wood he calls a weapon. I had just assumed he could use the spare he kept back in the lair but I had forgotten the old lair was gone and we were starting over from scratch again. "Under all this somewhere," I guessed gesturing down to what we were sitting on.
"And my bag?"
I knew better then to try and tell him the same thing. How else had I gotten his flashlight? I sighed, "It's on yer shoulder."
He gave me this confused look before it dawned on him. He looked to the bloody lump of fabric and lightly put his hand on it. "I'm sorry. I know it meant a lot to ya," I'm really not cut out for this sentimental stuff. "It was-"
"It's okay Raph," Don looked to me with a forced smile. "It's just a bag."
I knew how much of a front that was. Don said he enjoyed giving out gifts to us and that's why he was always building us things. He said the looks on our faces were more then enough of a payment for him. We had gotten him everything in his old room for him, especially his library, but the bag he had gotten for himself. It wasn't just a bag to him. It was more like faithful dog that was always with him.
I sighed and looked out the tunnel. "Stay here," I said before I crawled through the tunnel. I came out the other side with both sais drawn and looking for any signs of life that would be interested in whappin' me. When the tunnel remained still for a full minute I slid my sais away and moved to help Don only to find him waiting in the tunnel for me to move outta the way. "What the shell are you doing?" I hissed at him.
He gave me that timid little grin he got when he did something he knew he wasn't suppose to and then did this little shuffle hop thing to climb out of the tunnel more. He shifted his hand forward having to bounce upward slightly then brought both his knees forward as if he was crawling. I shook my head and muttered, "Yer somethin'. Ya can't get all the way home like that, come on."
I picked him up and draped him over my shoulders. I put a hand on his thigh to help him stay balanced and felt him tighten his arm around my shoulder. With my free hand I pulled a sai free and began walkin' forward, "Let go home Donnie."
"I'm all for that."
I stayed immobile and silent, listening to the creatures as they got closer to the drainage pipe Raph and I were in. Raph had slid me off his shoulders and now stood in front of me, both of his sais drawn and the bulk of his body nearly filling the pipe. He was still and silent as well but he was ready to defend while it was all I could do to keep the world in focus.
I didn't think that the mutant things knew of our presences any more they we had known of theirs. If one of them hadn't squealed neither Raph or I would have known they were coming. Even when they did squeal they had almost been on top of us and it took all Raph's speed and stealth to duck into pipe and drop me behind him. He had then turned around, sais ready and waiting as the Outbreak mutants approached.
I felt pathetic as I lay behind Raph peeking around him like a terrified kid but I knew that there would be little I could do if a fight broke out. That fact I had lost my weapon was meaningless, I was no slacker when it came to hand to hand combat. Out of the weapons we have received as gifts from Master Splinter when we were younger the bo staff was the easiest to break and so I had received extra training in hand to hand just incase.
I was just having trouble on focusing on the world around me.
Raph was really just a large dark green blur as he stood before me and his sais were little more then a thin silvery line. The pipe we were in was mostly dark and the main tunnel it was connected to was bright and hazy. As the mutants crawled past they were just big blackened shapes that blocked out the light for a moment.
I knew why I was having problems with my vision. The wound on my shoulder was most definitely infected. Since I was laying on that slab with all that dirt and a bag being used as an improvised bandage that I knew hadn't been washed in ages I was surprised that I had just started to develop a fever. My ankle was adding to the problem, with it so swollen just the slightest touch made pain shot up my leg and into my lower back which in turn made me nausea beyond belief.
"Don?" I was so out of it hadn't realized that the mutants were gone and Raph was crouched next to me with both sais in his belt. His hands were cold in contrast to my forehead and I leaned into them. "Shell, yer hot."
I couldn't help it. The opportunity was just too good to miss. I smiled and said, "It wouldn't work, Raph. I'm not gay and I don't think Splinter would understand."
I wish I could've seen his expression because judging by the way his whole body had stiffened it was priceless. "Goob," he said after a moment of frozen silence. He pressed one of his hands to the front and back of my head and I sighed in contentment. "I meant yer fever."
"I know," I said and relaxed into his hand. I know I started to doze off because when Raph slid me back to prop me against the side of he tunnel I was startled. "Raph?" I asked as he moved away.
"Stay put," I heard him say as he crept out of the pipe. He was gone for only a few moments before he was back. He tipped my head back and then something so shockingly cold that I gasped was laid across my forehead. I could feel water trickling down the sides of my head. "Try and relax," Raph said as he sat down next to me. "We'll move when yer fever's gone down a little."
I don't remember answering him. I just let my eyes close and let myself relax against the wall. I stirred occasionally when Raph rewet the cloth he was using on my forehead but other then that it was just blissful, cool darkness.
I don't know how long I dozed in the tunnel with Raph watching over me. He pulled me up into my former position in a fireman's carry over his shoulders gently, as if he thought I was still asleep. "We're off?" I asked partially muffled by his shoulder.
He froze for a second as if he wasn't expecting me to start talking. "Did I wake you?" he asked in a soft voice.
"No," I lied as I shifted around to get a better grip on his arm so I could hold up my own weight. "I was just dozing." As Raph hopped the short drop out into the main tunnel, a dull ache in my gut flared briefly in pain and I was unable to stifle the slight gasp.
Raph stopped moving from where he was crouched on the sewer tunnel's floor. "Don?" he asked twisting his head so he could look at my face. "You okay? Where's it hurt?"
"It's nothing," I turned my face away from him but I had a feeling he had already seen the grimace pasted on it.
"Nothin' my foot," he growled. "What's wrong?"
I knew there was no chance in trying to avoid the question. Raph was many things but stupid was not one of them. He wasn't a mathematical genius, or a stagiest or even someone who could beat the tenth level in CyberCop without taking any damage and not using any special moves or power ups but he knew things that none of us could ever understand. Raph knew what it was like to be a human. If we were all turned into humans and told to survive in the real world, I think Raph would be the only one to really make it.
Leo and Master Splinter think that the only reason goes out on his own at night is to work through his aggression by beating on Purple Dragons or heading out with Casey. I know what he really does. He goes people watching. Just sits there and follows around one person he picks off the street for hours on end. He knows what really happens, not what is on the television all the time, but what really happens in daily life. The pains, the gains and the drama that normal humans have to live with and because of this he can read someone's body language and know what they are going to do before they even know.
It was what made him such a brilliant fighter.
Trying to lie to Raph's face was like giving Mikey a five pound bag of candy, bad things always happen. I sighed and said, "My stomach hurts." I could feel Raph just freeze below me and hurried to say, "It's not bad enough to be internal damage and I doubt I would still be alive if there was a serious injury. Just relax."
He huffed slightly as if he was going to say something but didn't. He stood up from his crouch and moved forward towards our new home again. I stayed quiet and didn't pry. If you continually bugged Raph for an answer he would just get mad at you. To get something from Raph you just had to be patience.
As Raph moved through the tunnels silently, I did my best not to sleep. My mind was fuzzy and even though Raph told me several times to sleep I made myself stay awake. I knew Raph was more then capable of getting us home but I felt so useless just letting him lug me around like this. "Yer not useless."
I blinked, "I hadn't realized I said that out loud."
"I know, ya wouldn't have said it if yer head was screwed on right." He stepped up onto something and the sloshing noise that he had made when going through the water stopped. His feet was silent as he padded through the dry access tunnels.
I let my eyes close, we were close enough to the new lair Raph could probably yell and everyone would easily hear him and come running. I hear him twist the pipe near the door and then turn the wheel on the door causing it to open. We were finally home, I released a sigh as Raph walked over the catwalk heading for my bedroom.
"Raph!" Mikey's voice made me cringe as my headache flared again because of the loud noise. "Donnie! Where the shell have you to been?" I heard metal slap against his feet as he landed on the catwalk, he must have been down on the lower floor. "Donnie?" he asked when he saw me hanging all over Raph's shoulders.
"Go get Splinter," Raph said in his no nonsense voice. "Then get a bowl of cold water and a towel from the kitchen." There was a moment of silence before Raph growled, "Mikey."
His feet slapped against the floor as he took off to do what Raph asked. At the same time a pair of near silent but worried steps hurried closer. "Raph, what happened?" Leo asked as he came up next to Raph and I.
"We got ambushed in the sewers by some foot bozos with a rocket launcher," Raph said as we began moving again. "Don got caught in the cave in." I opened my eyes to find we were in my room and Raph was shifting me around to lay on my bed. Leo pulled the blanket back out of the way. "Keep his foot from hitting anything. His ankle is broken," Raph said as my shoulders hit the soft mattress and I felt Leo take hold of my left leg and keep it off the bed.
"Donatello," Master Splinter's voice sounded worried as I heard his cane and footsteps came into the room.
I looked at him and smiled, "I'm okay, sensei." I shifted slightly and my shoulder throbbed causing me to hiss. Raph put his hand on my good shoulder and held on making it clear that I shouldn't move around anymore.
Splinter was examining my ankle without touching it. Just observing it in the soft light of the room's light and the small desk lamp I had on the rickety little table I was using as a bedside table. He took one of my extra pillows and put it down underneath my ankle. Leo then cautiously lowered my foot down onto it but even that soft touch caused me to gasp in pain and squeeze my eyes shut.
"Incoming," Mikey said as he came into the room with the ice water Raph had had him get. He handed it over to Raph who put it on the small table and dipped the cloth into the water to soak. "Shell, Donnie," he said to me when he noticed I was awake. "What happened to you?"
"Tunnel collapse," I said. A dampened folded cloth was placed over my forehead and I let my eyes close again. I was surprised that the fever was back but then again I wasn't. I needed some serious disinfectant.
"Michelangelo," Master Splinter's voice rang out. "Go get some extra blankets. Leonardo, come with me." They headed out of the room leaving Raph and I alone for a moment.
"I never did say thanks did I?" I asked. I knew Raph was still in the room I could hear his breathing next to my bed still.
"Ya know ya don't need to," was his quite response.
"Still," I opened my eyes and smile up at him. "Thanks for everything."
"Thanks to ya too."
I would have asked him what he meant by that but Mikey was back toting what looked like every blanket in the Lair. He was actually stumbling under the weight and I felt myself smile as he screamed and fell over to lay in a heap of fabric and turtle on my floor.
"Nice floor show, Mikey," Raph said as he pulled one of the thicker blankets off the pile and began to spread it and my blankets over me. "What's next a juggling act?"
"Just let me go find some balls."
"To replace the ones you're missin'?" Raph asked with a smirk on his face and I had to laugh at Mikey's face. It was a cross between confusion, disbelief and anger. Before he could retort both Master Splinter and Leo came back into the room. Splinter was carrying the bag of medical supplies we had managed to salvage from the old Lair and Leo was cradling a cup of tea that was steaming.
"Come on, Don," he said as he came over to the bed and took the cloth off my forehead. "You need to drink this before it gets to cold." He helped me to sit up and then sat behind me letting me lean into his chest as I sipped the tea.
"Drink it as fast as you can," Master Splinter said as he shooed Raph out of the way and began to go through the bag setting various things on the bedside table. "You should go and rest, Raphael."
Raph crossed his arms and stood there defiantly. "Sorry, sensei, but I'm not going anywhere till I know Donnie's going to be alright." Sensei shook his head but didn't say anything else.
I blinked at Raph over the rim of my cup to find him standing at the foot of my bed watching me closely. Raph would go against Leo's word just to annoy him but he never disobeyed Splinter before. Twisted them around some to get his way but he had never flat out disobeyed him. What had gotten into him?
"Then sit down before you fall over," Mikey said pushing the old desk chair in my room into the back of Raph's knees so he fell back into it. "You need to take a break every now and then too." Mikey leaned on the back of the chair and ignored the glare that Raph threw him before he went back to watching me. It was kind of creepy watching them both stare at me while I finished drinking my tea.
Suddenly my eyelids were heavy and I could feel the cup begin to slip from my fingers as I leaned back heavily into Leo. "Easy, Donnie," I heard Leo say as he plucked the cup from my lax fingers. I realized as he shifted me around to lay on my shell that I had been given one hefty knockout drug.
That was also the last thing I remember.
I was more then a little tired as I leaned slightly on Mikey as he took me to my room. I had been awake for close to twenty four hours. Movin' the rubble around to get us outta the tunnel and then carryin' Don home were just addin' to the fatigue I felt. As we went through my doorway I was glad that Mikey had one of my arms over his shoulders because I stumbled and would have fallen over.
"Wow, there cowboy," he said as he waited for me to get my feet back under me. "Just take it easy."
"Shuttup," I grumbled as he set me down on my bed and I fell over onto my side. My head thumped onto the pillow.
Mikey sat on the edge of the bed, "You hungry or anything? I can whip you something really quick."
It was a nice offer, I was kinda hungry, but I was more interested in sleeping for the next three days and then maybe food would be more appealin'. "Nah, I'm good." I rolled over onto my plastron and closed my eyes, tryin' to relax and fall asleep.
Of course, it would be a whole shell of a lot easier if I weren't as stiff as a piece of petrified wood.
I felt Mikey get off the bed only to feel his hands grip my shoulders and squeeze. "Shell, talk about tight muscles." He then began to knead my shoulders, putting a knee on my bed to help him keep his balance as he worked. Mikey would occasionally give out massages but they were few and far between. They were like freakin' gold to all of us and I sighed into the pillow as he went to work.
And, boy did he have his work cut out for him.
Mikey dug his fingers into my shoulders and pulled outward then pushing back into toward my neck. He worked down my arms in swirls before taken each hand and rubbing his thumb deep into my palms. He then worked back up to my shoulders then onto my neck. "Where did they ambush you?" he asked in a low voice, not pausing in his ministrations.
"'bout a block or two west of the alley we were in. Just came around a corner and they were there."
"We didn't run into any," he paused for a second to work on the knots in my arm before continuing, "When you two didn't show up Leo nearly had a panic attack."
"Heh," some how it didn't surprise me. "Did he have an ulcer?"
"Nope," Mikey moved down to work on my thighs and calves. "We both had one of those when we went looking for you and couldn't find you anywhere."
"Sorry," I mumbled then hissed as he found a particularly sore muscle in my calve.
"No we should be, we walked right by a cave in that was in the same area."
"You sure?" I found it hard to believe that they had just walked right by us, not with all the noise I had been making digging us out.
"Yup. We saw that there were several explosions in the area and found a katana but couldn't find any sign of you two so we moved on."
I could hear the self loathing in his voice and realizing Mikey was blamin' himself for not finding us. "Don't blame yerself," I mumbled into the pillow. "It happens."
"Just can it Mikey. Niether of us were seriously hurt so no big deal." I thought back to when Don wasn't breathing and the feeling his heart slowing down in his chest. It sent a shiver through me and I found myself fisting the mattress below me.
I came so close to losing him.
"You okay Raph?"
"I'm fine." My voice was oddly hitched and sounded strange even to my ears. I hoped Mikey wouldn't make a deal of it.
"You cold?" Thank god he can be Mr. Oblivious at times. "I'll go grab one of the extra blankets from Don's room." He scampered out of the room.
I quickly scrubbed at the tears risin' in my eyes. Don had almost died because of my rash actions. I had seen his stance. I knew what he was trying to do. I just didn't want him to get hurt if he slipped up somehow. I wanted to keep him safe. He was my younger brother and it's my job to keep him safe. And all I ended up doin' was nearly gettin' him killed.
"Sorry it took so long. I threw on some chicken soap for you." Mikey said carryin' a small heap of blankets.
"S'okay," I muttered, more caught up in self loathing rather then what Mikey was actually talking about.
He paused. Mikey can be many things but he is definitely not stupid. He knew somethin' was eating at me but he also knew better to pry. "I'll wake you when the soup's ready, sleepy-head. Try and get some rest, okay." He spread several blankets out over me then crept out of the room.
I buried my face into the pillow.
I'll blame the dampness on drool.
I woke laying on my stomach with a dry mouth and raging thirst. There was a slight metallic taste in my mouth but I didn't have the spit to try and swallow it. I coughed slightly and moved my head which felt heavier then it should. My throat was sticking together and I had the serious urge to start gagging.
"Don?" Leo's voice seemed to echo slightly in the dark room. As far as I could tell there was just one candle lit on my bedside table. I blinked at it for a moment, memorized by the flickering flame, before my attention was directed to Leo who was kneeling down next to my bed. "Hey," he said softly as he put a hand on my good shoulder. "How are you feeling?"
I opened my mouth to demand some water only to have it stick together again. I coughed slightly, trying to clear my throat so I could voice my demand.
Leo seemed to get the message. "Okay. Let's get you sitting up." He moved to help me, "Go slow and shake your head if you get dizzy, okay?" I just nodded my head and started to push myself slowly off the mattress. Leo's arms came around me taking the majority of the weight. Once I was upright and twisted around so I could sit up properly Leo handed me a glass of water which I drank in less then three swallows.
Leo took the glass back from me, "A little thirsty weren't you?"
I smiled, "You have no idea. How long have I been out?" I looked at my shoulder to see fresh white bandages wrapped around it. By the feel there were some stitches buried under all that gauze.
"Awhile," Leo said as he sat on the edge of my bed watching me pull the covers back enough to look at my ankle. It was splinted with what looked like two pieces of wood and maybe three or four rolls of ace bandaging. "You're not going to be able to walk on that for awhile." Leo said gesturing to my foot, "Mikey is going up to April's later to pick up the groceries and see if she was able to find you crutches or something."
I sighed, "Great." With me immobile the lair's electronics and water systems were going to be done for a while to come. I could leave some of the projects to my brothers but there was no way I'm letting Mikey near the toilet or waste water system again. "Think you can keep Mikey from flooding the lair?"
Leo scrunched up his nose, he remembered the last time Mikey was trying to be a plumber too. "Easy enough." He then got that mischiefs look in his eye ad I knew I wouldn't like what he said next. "As long as you promise to try and get a few days of bed rest. No fiddling with gizmos under the sheets."
I smiled up at my older brother. He knew me all to well. Thinking of my older brother reminded me of Raph. "How's Raph?"
Leo's face darkened and he sighed which did nothing to ease my conscious. "He slept for about ten hours, ate like a horse and then left the Lair."
I could tell by his face that he and Raph had had a few 'words' about his trip. "He can take care of himself, Leo."
"I know. It's just…" he trailed off. Unsure of what to say I stayed silent as well. The room fell into silence as I waited for Leo to speak his mind. "Mikey sided with him, told me to let him go." He finally said in a low voice, "It wasn't till after Raph was gone he told me he was crying."
Raphael crying? What the shell happened to make Raph cry? Raph almost never cries. As long as I can remember the only time I had seen Raph cry was when we were hiding at Casey's grandmother's farm after the Foot had almost killed Leo. I tried to remember if anything drastic had happened when we were trapped in the tunnel but could think of anything to make him cry. Something bad had to have happened when I was coherent or when I was sleeping.
Leo had continued while I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that Raph had cried. "Mikey said he talked to Raph about where you were buried and that we had walked right past where you two were. I'm sorry."
I had to smile at him. Leo was the oldest in the family and felt that it was his responsibility to keep us all safe but with that responsibility came a lot of stress. He always found away to blame himself if one of us was hurt. I think it was a natural talent he had as the oldest. "Leo, it wasn't your fault. You couldn't have predicted that the Foot would be waiting for us in the sewers with explosives."
He sighed again, "I know it's just-"
"Hindsight is twenty-twenty Leo. There are a lot of 'could haves', 'but', 'justs' and 'shoulds'. The only important thing is that both Raph and I are safe and mostly intacted."
He smiled, "You always knew how to cheer me up." He moved to push me back down on the bed, "Get some more sleep. I'm going to go check on Mikey and see if Raph's back yet."
"How long has he been gone?" I asked as I rearranged myself on the bed and Leo tucked and smoothed the blanket out. He could be such a mother hen at times.
"A few hours. He has Mikey's cell and I made him promise not to go topside on his own." He turned and walked to the door but paused just before walking through it. He turned and came back into the room and moved several of the half finished projects from my bedside table to the other side of the room. "Stay in bed," he said with a smirk as he left.
I rolled my eyes, brothers.
As I laid there in the silence of my room I found my eyes captivated by the light of the candle still sitting on the table. What could make Raph cry, I wondered as my eyes watched the flame flicker back and forth in the slightest wind. Raph was always upset when one of us were hurt, especially if it was his fault. He said he might've broken my ankle pulling me the last few feet out of the cave in but that doesn't seem serious enough to cause him to cry.
It could've been fro the actual cave in. Despite our agreement that it was neither of our faults he may have been blaming himself. I sighed causing the candle's flame to dace back and forth, it just didn't seem serious enough. Something else had to have happened but what?
It was then I noticed the flame struggling to build itself back up to it's former glory that I knew what was bothering Raph. I stared at the candle with intensity. I needed to talk to Raphael. I had to know if I was right. A huge yawn interrupted my thought and I realized then how tired I was. I would talk to Raph after I spelt for another few hours.
Mikey was makin' stir-fry for dinner. The whole pump station smelled like chicken and teriyaki sauce. It made my stomach growl reminded me that I hadn't had anything but a bowl of soup about twelve hours ago. I hoped Mikey was maki' enough for me too.
Leo was movin' around some rocks down in the basin of the pump station. He stopped when he saw I was back and came over to me. Even though I wanted to go give Donnie what I had gotten for him I knew that look in Leo's eyes. I was going to talk to him one way or another. "Make it quick Leo," I said when he was close enough. "I want to give these to Don before Mikey shoves food down his throat and you tell him to sleep for the next three days."
"He wants to talk to you too." Leo's eyes traveled over what I was holding. "I thought you promised not to go topside," he voice was slightly accusing but I didn't really want to fight with Leo. That could be for another day.
"I didn't. Casey went and got'em for me," I gestured to two of the gifts with a wave of my hand.
Leo sighed but didn't say anything else on the matter. He just waved his hand towards Donnie's room, "If he's asleep he said to wake him."
"Gottcha," I turned and headed for his room.
"And if he's fixing that shell cell again bring it out here."
I chuckled, it figures Don's already restless and trying to fix things. I remember when we were kids and Donnie had a cold. Sensei was chasing him all over the Lair trying to get him to stop playing with the electronics and rest. Every time he turned his back, Don was out of bed and fiddling with this or that. Finally, Splinter tied his ankle to the bed frame to keep him in bed. Don just convinced Mikey to bring him something small to work on and when Sensei was in the room he would just tuck it under the sheets and act if he wasn't doing anything.
As I stand in his doorway I can see he still does it. He's fiddling with something in his lap partially hidden behind a wall of blankets. When we were kids, the rest of us had a game of tryin' to get as many electronics and gizmos to Donnie when Splinter wasn't lookin'. Now though, he should be restin' and not fiddiling. I cleared my throat and he winced and looked up at me with that timid smile. He knew he was caught. "What'd ya doin'?"
"Fixing up a new shell cell." He pulled the half finished product, "I figured I can give it to you, I shouldn't have to worry about going anywhere for awhile."
I sighed and crossed the to stand next to his bed, "Well put it away for now. I got something for ya."
He obediently put the gadget away as he tried to look behind me where I was holding both of my arms. "You didn't have to bring me anything."
"I know," I handed him the first one. "I never did look for it and I figured once yer back on your feet ya would want to go back to practice."
He took the brand new bo staff from me and leaned over a little so he could spin it around his fingers a few times. "Where did you find this?" he asked as he continued to admire its balance.
"Casey found it." Don raised an eyebrow at me, "Okay so it's actually one of those wooden poles people sell by the yard at hardware stores with a few modification done to it."
"Well, as far as I can tell the balance is about right," he twisted around and leaned it up against the bedside table.
"I also had Casey get ya this," I held out the actual present I had wanted to get Donnie. The bo had just been a little extra. Don took the duffle from my hand and frowned when he realized there was stuff in it. "I dumped everything ya had picked up on that slab. Figured ya would need it so I went back and got it."
"Raph," he was fiddling with the bag's strap. I had told Casey I wanted one that looked exactly like his old one. Where he had found it I don't know. "I wasn't breathing when you pulled me out of the collapse, was I?" I'm sure my face gave it away because Donnie didn't wait. "I thought so."
"What gave it away," I asked turning my back to him and crossing my arms.
"The fact my stomach hurt and you wouldn't tell me anything about it was the real give away. I also know that if you pulled my out the last couple of feet then you were probably panicking about something."
I though back to when I held him to my plastron looking around for something to lay him on some I could give him CPR and shivered. I never wanted to feel that sensation again. Feeling the heart slow and the body in your arms die was by far the worst thing I have experienced in my life. I jumped, startled when Don wrapped his arms around me from behind. "I'm fine Raph. I'm going to be alright."
I sighed and turned wrapping my arms around him too. I sighed when I felt the heart beating strongly in his chest. "I know. I just…"
"It's alright Raph. I'm here."
"I almost lost you," I forced myself to say as I squeezed him to me. I had to tell myself over and over again that he was alive. That he was safe. Beaten and battered slightly but still here.
"It's a Kodak moment," Mikey's voice came from the doorway along with the smell of stir-fry. Both Don and I turned to look but neither of us let go of each other. Don was standing on one leg –how he had gotten out of bed and over to me without me noticing was beyond me- and I had a feeling that he couldn't stay upright on his own if he let go.
Mikey and Leo were holding plates of food and Splinter had a tray holding a teapot and several glasses of water. They all had that smile on their faces that seemed to brighten the room and I couldn't help but smirk back. This was our family and there was no force on earth -Foot ninja or just plain bad luck and poor timing- was going to change that.
"Let's all hold hands now and sing songs together!"
Mikey's big mouth is the only exception.
"Get within two feet of me tryin' to sing and Don won't be the only one stuck in bed."