Lessons Learned

April was roused from her sleep by the far-off sound of her cell phone chirping from the livingroom. She woke with a start and glanced at the bedside clock. It was well after three in the morning and a cold stone of fear settled into the pit of her stomach. She had received her share of three-a.m. phone calls, none of them good.

"You gonna answer that?" Casey mumbled, his face half-buried in his pillow. "It's been going off for ages."

"Why didn' t you wake me?" April demanded. She didn't wait for an answer but dashed out of bed. The phone had stopped ringing and then started again when she grabbed it. She glanced at the number before flipping it open.

"Leo, what is it?"

"It's Donatello. He's in a bad way. We need your help."

The stony fear in her gut grew a thousand times heavier, stealing her breath and making her heart thud dully in her chest. "What happened?"

"He's sick. He's burning up. And he's lost a lot of blood. I can sew up his leg but its infected, there's fever..." There was a short pause and then, almost angrily, "Just tell me what to do."

April forced herself to focus. "All right, listen. Put him in a tub of lukewarm water. Not cold, just tepid. You don't want to shock his system further but you've got to bring that fever down."

"Okay." There was a pause where April could hear Leonardo barking her orders to the others. "What else? What about his fever? Can you bring some medicine from your lab?"

The fear in Leonardo's voice made April's heart ache. He sounded so young. "Yes, of course. I'll go there now."

"Raph's already on his way to get you. We've been calling..."

"Oh, Leo, I'm sorry." April could now hear a not-so-gentle tapping at her bedroom window. "He's here. I'll be there soon."

"Thanks, April."

April raced back into the bedroom where she could see the hulking form a turtle out on the fire escape. Casey tossed off the covers and went to let him in. "What's going on?" he asked, struggling to lift the window. "Why's Raph here?"

"It's one of the guys. He's sick," April said, hauling on a pair of jeans and a New York Rangers sweatshirt Raphael had given her as a birthday present one year.


"Uh...it's...well, it's Donatello."

Casey grunted, still straining with the window. "Gee, are you sure?"

"I'm just...in a hurry," April said, tugging on her sneakers. "What the hell's taking so long with the window?" she snapped.

"I'm gonna guess that it's stuck," Casey muttered. He gave one last strained pull and the window flew up. Raphael climbed in.

"Take your time, why dontcha? Only half the city got a look at me," he griped to Casey and then turned to April. "You ready?"

"Yeah, just let me get my keys."

"I'm driving."

"You mean on your bike?"

"No, my Rolls Royce. Yeah, my bike. Let's go."

April nodded and steeled herself. She had been a passenger on Raphael's motorcycle once before...once.

"Don's really sick, eh?" Casey asked, and for some reason April found the concern in his eyes completely irritating. "I'll go with you. We can take the van..."

"No!" April exclaimed, drawing stares from both of them. "The van is too slow. Plus, I...I think you should stay here in case we need you."

"Uh huh," Casey said slowly. "I'll stay here in case you need me there."

April straightened and grabbed her purse off the chair by the window. "Yes, exactly. If we need something topside, I'll call you. It's better that way." She turned to Raphael. "I'm ready."

The turtle looked between her and Casey with narrowed eyes, nodded and climbed back out of the window. "Meetcha downstairs. Later, Casey."

Casey shrugged. "All right, I can tell when I'm not wanted," he said and climbed back into bed. "Let me know if Don's all right, will ya?"

April forced a small, tight smile. "Yes, of course," she said, and tore out of the apartment as though it were on fire.

April told Raphael his motorcycle wouldn't go faster than sixty but he didn't believe it until he tried to push it to seventy on New York's nearly deserted, three-in-the-morning streets. He cursed under his breath as the bike hit its limit on the straightaways and stayed there. April, clinging to his back for dear life, thanked God and Donatello that it would go no faster. Her lab was at least ten minutes away. They arrived in five.

"There's night security," she told Raphael, jumping off the back and onto blessed solid ground. She whipped off her helmet. "Maybe you should wait here..."

Raphael's eyes were scanning the building. "See that office with the balcony?" He pointed to a window three stories up. "Can you get in there?"


"Good. Meet you in three minutes."

It seemed to April that all she did was blink and Raphael was gone.

Night security didn't ask any questions; many employees burned the midnight oil, working late on rush projects, or losing track of the time while getting caught up in something new and potentially groundbreaking. April was at the third floor office--one that belonged to a senior project manager, hence the view--in under three minutes. Raphael was already waiting for her.

"You could've just waited outside," April said after she let him in. She flipped on the computer on the project manager's desk. She left the lights off so the room's only illumination was the computer monitor coming to life and the dim light of the city filtering in from the enormous windows. "Might've been safer."

"Waiting woulda made me crazy," the turtle replied. He watched her at the desk, a scowl growing on his features. "What are you doing? Let's get to the medicine already."

"The pharmacy is huge, Raph," April said, her eyes on the screen. "I don't know the names of any antibiotics and it would take hours to dig through the cabinets and find something that might work." She could hear Raphael grind his teeth. "I know, I want to get to Donatello as soon as possible too. Believe me, I do."

The computer was asking for an access code. She punched in her own and sighed with relief when the computer let her in. Quickly, she went to the pharmaceutical files and began her search. Raphael paced like a caged animal around the desk. April glanced up at him. After several false starts in which her mouth opened and closed like a fish, she finally managed, "So...I heard from Mikey that you had a girlfriend."

Raphael jolted to a stop. "Oh, yeah? When did he tell you that?"

"Uh, a few weeks ago. He happened to mention something..."

"And you're talkin' about it now because...?"

April shrugged. "Just making conversation." She cleared her throat. "Is it true?"

"I guess. Mikey has a big mouth." He looked at her pointedly. "Why?"

"Sorry, I know it's none of my business," April said, flinching at the hard stare Raphael was laying on her. "I guess I was just...curious." The computer was asking for a narrower search and she concentrated on her task.

"Curious, eh?" Raphael said, crossing his arms over his plastron.

"Yes, Raph, curious," April snapped. "You're my friend--I think--and I want to know what's going on with you."

"Uh huh." Raphael was giving her a look that made her feel completely transparent.

"Okay, nevermind," April said tightly. "Forget I brought it up." There was a silence broken only by the sound of the computer printing out the names of eighteen different antibiotics the lab was currently in possession of. April looked them over and shook her head. "God, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know which of these is best, or if he needs something else, or..." her words ended in a sigh. She shook her head. "All right, let's go. He needs our help, not me standing around wasting time..."

"I should have helped him," Raphael said suddenly, the hard edge to his voice dulled. "This wouldn't have happened if I had gone with him to fix those stupid sensors."

"He just got sick, Raph. That's all."

"No, you didn't see him. He was so damn tired and worn out. He got really frickin' overworked and he hurt himself and I was the one who said I'd help him and I didn't. I played that stupid card game instead and now he's..."

April had never heard Raphael sound as he did just then--standing quietly in the dark, the tough exterior made soft by remorse. "He's going to be fine, Raph. Really. I'm not going to let anything happen to him. I promise you. I...I just won't."

The turtle looked at her then, a peculiar expression on his face. "Yeah, because he's your friend too, right?"

April nodded. "Yes," she whispered. "He's my friend."

"Is that all?"

The question made her throat go dry. "Umm...what?" she managed.

Raphael studied her for a moment more and then said, "Nevermind. Let's go. He's waiting."

The main hallways of the lab were rigged with security cameras. It was decided Raphael would go back and wait for her at the motorcycle after all while April went to the pharmacy for the medicine. She raced down the hallways, mindful that she had taken too much time and cursing herself for letting Raphael get suspicious. Even as she dug through cabinets for the antibiotics and some topical ointment for Donatello's leg injury, she found herself turning their conversation over in her mind. He knows, he knows, he knows...she thought again and again, and then, He knows what? But that was a question she wasn't willing to answer so she shut down that train of thought and concentrated on the business at hand. She signed out for the supremely expensive medicines (and decided to worry about explanations later), and hurried to the street. Raphael had the motocycle revved and waiting.

April wordlessly took the passenger helmet he held out to her, figuring the best kind of damage control was to say nothing at all. She climbed on the back of the motorcycle, steeling herself for the ride to come, but suddenly Raphael shocked the cool and casual facade she had been trying to adopt right off her.

Keeping his back to her, his eyes straight ahead, he said, "Her name was Jaime and the reason we broke up was because I wasn't presentable enough to the friends and neighbors, if you catch my drift . But I guess you can't 'break up' with someone if you were never really together, right?" he asked, the bitterness heavy in his voice. "We hung out. Yeah, we hung out and talked and that's the whole damn story. But here's the real deal, April. As good as it was to be with her and have some laughs and all that, I sometimes wish I'd never met her, 'cause it's too damn hard living with a gigantic maybe all the time." He twisted around to look at her intently. "After awhile, it starts to eat away at you. Do you get what I'm saying?"

"Yeah, Raphael. I do," April said. She realized her facade was useless; Raphael wasn't stupid and there was a strange sort of relief in putting a name to the confusing emotions she'd been having as of late. "I don't want to hurt him."

"I know."

"But I'm not...I'm not ready. I just..." April sighed and shook her head. "You won't say anything, will you?"

Raphael revved the bike and kicked it into gear. "Not a chance. But not for your sake. For his."

The motorcycle shot away from the curb like a bullet from a gun. April closed her eyes, rested her head against Raphael's shell, and for the entire hair-raising ride back to the lair, she held onto him a little tighter than she needed to.

April hadn't known what to expect when she arrived at the lair. For Donatello to be sick, yes, but she thought she would give him a shot for that and some ointment for the cut on his leg, and that would be it. She hadn't expected for things to be as bad as they were...or for how the sight of him, lying prone on the worn living room couch would turn her blood to ice and make her heart feel as though it were a lead bell, tolling ominously in her chest.

Donatello was caught, writhing, in the grip of a terrible fever. He lay sprawled on the couch, surrounded by his brothers and sensei, shivering and moaning in a state of frightening delirium. The turtles had already bathed him as she had instructed, and cleaned up the gash behind his right leg, both to little effect. The fever hadn't abated and the wound oozed yellow pus between the neat, tight stitches Leonardo had expertly crafted. She swallowed hard and knelt beside Donatello, pressing two fingers against his throat. His skin nearly burned her and his pulse was racing.

"Oh, Don," she murmured quietly. Aloud she said, "His heart's galloping. Someone get me an ice pack." Raphael disappeared into the kitchen. "What the hell happened?" she demanded of the others.

Michelangelo--fresh from the speedy shower Leonardo had forced him to take--stepped forward. "We found him knocked out in the south tunnel," he said in a small voice. "It's pretty gross down there. Is that why he's sick?"

"I don't know. How long was he down there?"

Leonardo and Michelangelo exchanged glances.


"We're not sure," Leonardo said, his voice low and unreadable. "Hours, maybe. He'd been gone since before dinner tonight."

"And no one thought to look for him sooner?" she snapped, making Michelangelo flinch. "I'm sorry, it's not your fault. He went to fix the security system, didn't he?" she asked, gently patting Donatello's forehead with a damp cloth.

"How did you know?"

"He told me all the work he had lined up. I told him to rest, but I guess he didn't listen."

"He's gonna be okay, isn't he April?" Michelangelo asked in a small, forlorn voice as Raphael returned from the kitchen and handed April an icepack.

"I'm working on it, Mikey," she said.

"What about medicine?"

"I have to get his pulse down first, Leo. The ice should kick in the diver's reflex and slow his heart," she said. Quickly, April pressed the icepack to Donatello's face with one hand and checked his pulse with the other. Her fingers at his throat registered that his heart rate was slowing from its alarming, rabbity thumping to a slower, albeit still rapid pace. "It's already working." She breathed a sigh of relief. "Master Splinter, take this please." She handed the icepack to the rat who resumed dabbing his son's face with it while April dug into her purse. She pulled out two vacu-sealed packages of six syringes, each filled with a pale yellow liquid. She tore open the plastic of one package with her teeth, pulled out a needle, snapped her fingers at it and turned to her patient. Donatello's convulsive shivering made her catch her breath and Michelangelo, hovering over the back of the couch, looked like he might burst into tears at any moment. And if he loses it, I'm going to lose it. Give him something to do. "Mikey, hold his arm for me."

Immediately, Michelangelo did as he was told, holding his brother's twitching arm for April's needle. "Hold on, bro. April's gonna give you something to make you feel better. You're gonna be just fine."

April blinked hard and depressed the needle into a vein on the inside of Donatello's elbow. He moaned as the antibiotics flooded his bloodstream, snaking a burning pathway through his veins.

"I'll give him another in four hours, and another after that," April said. "Let's look at that cut now."

Michelangelo gently lifted his brother's leg so that April could carefully dab the swollen tissue with antibiotic ointment. Her fingers lingered over the strong muscle of his calf as she cleaned the wound. My God, you're pathetic, she scolded herself silently. When she had finished, she sat back on her heels and waited for the medicine to take effect.

Time seemed to crawl by. The ice in the bag Splinter held to his son's forehead and cheeks melted away and needed to be replaced. The old rat spoke soothingly in Donatello's ear, urging him softly to win his battle and rejoin them. Raphael resumed his pacing as he had at April's lab and punctuated the relative quiet with muttered curses. Michelangelo did start to cry, though he did his best to pretend like he wasn't, and Leonardo stood as still as a statue, staring at his stricken brother, saying nothing, his eyes stony and unreadable. April chewed her lip and tried to tell herself that there wasn't as much at stake here as there was. But when Donatello finally opened his eyes, hers filled with tears and the relief that washed over was undeniably stronger than she could have imagined it to be.

He looked blearily around at the faces hovering over him, his eyes half-mast and red-rimmed. His body had ceased its terrible convulsing and a sweat had broken out on his forehead--releasing the the worst of the fever that had burned through him. He licked parched lips and said in a voice that was hardly more than a croak, "C-can I have...some w-water...please...?"

Michelangelo vanished into the kitchen and returned again, sloshing water over the carpet as he handed an over-flowing cup to Splinter. The sensei held his son's still feverish head and helped him to drink.

"Rest now, my son. You have earned it," Splinter told him softly.

Donatello sighed with relief and his eyes were closing again, this time in sleep...but not before they meet April's.

"Hi," he breathed weakly, a small smile spreading on his face.

"Hi," April said, returning his smile with a tremulous one of her own. "Sleep now, okay?"

Donatello nodded once and then drifted off, still wearing that little grin.

The tension that had sucked the air out of the lair was released and everyone breathed easily. Michelangelo, tears streaming freely down his cheeks now, hugged April. Leonardo gave her a small bow of respect and Splinter took her hand in his gnarled one and thanked her in a gruff voice.

She didn't dare look at Raphael.

The hour grew later...or earlier as the night became day. Topside, the sun was rising, filtering its wan, watery light between the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Below, in the sewers, Splinter lit his candles, filling his chambers with warm, yellow light. He beckoned to his sons.

"Sit, now, before me."

The three turtles obeyed. The flickering candlelight revealed that each wore similiar expressions of remorse and guilt.

"Donatello is better now, and will recover with no lasting effects. The time for regret has passed," the old rat said, his voice gentle. "The time to learn has come to take its place, and even I am not exempt from this lesson. We all have strayed from the ways of honor and duty in that we have neglected to treat Donatello with both. He is a cherished member of our family and is blessed with many valuable gifts, but his generous spirit and strong work ethic should never be taken for granted again."

The turtles nodded in unison.

"He is not to be disturbed for any reason until he has recuperated," Splinter continued, "and even then he is not to be overwhelmed with our needs. Nor should he be permitted to overwhelm himself. Donatello has an inquisitive, energetic spirit. He is easily lured by the promises of discovery and invention, often to his own detriment. It is our responsibility not only to temper our demands of him, but to help him temper the demands he makes of himself. Do you understand, my sons?"

"Yep," Michelangelo said brightly. "Don't bother the dude with too much stuff, and don't let too much stuff bother him."

"Oh, man," Raphael said, rolling his eyes. "I hope you put that in the Splinter-to-Mikey/Mikey-to-Splinter dictionary."

"It's okay, Raph," Michelangelo said, grinning ear to ear. "I know you need help with the big words. That's what I'm here for."

Raphael slugged his little brother lightly in the arm and Michelangelo laughed. Leonardo looked away. "Are we dismissed, Master?" he asked.

Splinter nodded. "I trust you each will learn from this incident, as I have myself. We shall go forward, being ever vigilant and mindful of the needs of each other, yes?"

Three muttered assents.

"Good. Then I suggest you all meditate on the events of last night for clarity and perspective."

The turtles got to their feet. "I'm going to go meditate my face onto my pillow," Michelangelo muttered under his breath to Raphael.

"I'm with you."

They laughed while Leonardo felt his hands clench into fists.

"Leonardo, a moment."

Leonardo turned around slowly as the others shuffled out. "Yes, Master?"

"Do not now do what I suspect you will do."

"What's that, Master?"

"Go easy on them. Or on Donatello in particular."

Go easy on them? I can't even bear to look at them, let alone give orders, Leonardo thought bitterly. Master Splinter, can you not see my failure?

"They need your leadership and drive as much as they need their leisure," the rat was saying. "Balance is what is required, not an extreme in either direction."

Leonardo's face was tight, his voice terse. "How does one achieve that, Master?"

"Practice and experience. You have accomplished much more than you give yourself credit for." Splinter smiled. "Donatello is not the only one who works so hard." His smile faded as he studied his eldest son. "Is there something else troubling you, Leonardo? You wear the face of one who is carrying a great burden in your soul. Tell me, so that I may help ease it."

"It's nothing, Master," Leonardo said. "I am just very tired is all."

Splinter stroked his chin whiskers. "You were never a great liar, my son. In my estimation, it is one of your most prized characteristics."

Leonardo looked to the floor. Every particle in his being wished to kneel before his master and father and tell him everything...But I have done that in the past and still, these mistakes are made. He straightened and met his master's eye. "Thank you, Master Spinter, but I think this is one time in which I had better figure things out on my own."

Splinter regarded him for a moment and then said, "As you wish, my son. But know that I am here should you require me."

Leonardo bowed and went out.

Donatello was lying on the couch, sleeping deeply and without fever or chills. April lay curled up on the floor next to him. The others had gone to bed.

Leonardo watched the gentle rise and fall of his brother's chest and he shook his head. Splinter's words may have comforted Mike and Raph, but he felt no relief. He could see things clearer now, and the clarity was as sharp as a ­tanto knife cutting into his heart. It is obvious, he thought bitterly, that each crisis solved is one that I, as their leader, should have prevented in the first place.

"I keep failing," he murmured aloud into the quiet of the early morning. "Maybe it would be better.." He let his words trail off, swallowed them and let them roil in his gut as went to his room. His body was tired but Leonardo lay on his bed, his hands laced behind his head, staring at the ceiling.

He stayed that way for a long, long time.

April woke with a start and blinked her eyes, trying to get her bearings. It took a moment to realize she had been sleeping on the livingroom floor in the turtles' lair, Donatello sleeping peacefully on the couch beside her. In the windowless sewer home, she had no idea the time, but it felt like early morning. She pillowed her cheek on her hand on the couch, watching Donatello sleep. This close to him, she could see the details of his skin, the pale green of it, the texture that was smoother than she would have thought. He had a small scar under his jaw too; a little slash where some weapon wielded by some enemy had somehow breached his defenses and touched him. Why haven't I see that before? she wondered and then realized she had never been this close to him, lying beside him as he slept, alone.

April took Donatello's hand in her own, studied it, squeezed it gently, and pressed it to her cheek.

She had had little sleep the night before herself, and her tired mind began to make blurry little offerings and suggestions that made her skin tingle... Other mornings in which she woke up with him beside her instead of Casey. Making hot coffee for him, poring over the lastest science mags and journals with him, bickering pleasantly over some theory or another with him. She imagined conversations in which she didn't have to censor her vocabulary because her listener didn't understand the words. She envisioned coming home from work and explaining how some experiment went wrong (or right) and getting feedback, suggestions, and ideas instead of perplexed expressions and pretended interest that masked boredom. She could see renting movies that didn't have monsters or explosions or car chases in them and televisions that weren't monopolized by hockey games and wrestling matches and monster truck rallies...And April imagined that it might not be so strange or weird if the green, three-fingered hand she held were to touch her, and that there might be a kind of bliss waiting when the location of every scar on his body was no longer a mystery to her.

With these thoughts and imaginations drifting pleasantly in her mind, April smiled and closed her eyes and lay her head beside his on the couch, sharing Donatello's breath and clutching tightly to his hand...

"It's late. Casey'll be worried."

April's head shot up and she let go Donatello's hand as though it were a hot poker. Raphael was leaning against the kitchen doorway, looking at her intently. Again, the feeling that he was looking right through her came over her and this time there was no attendant feeling of relief. The crazy, frenetic night had ended and the solid reality of morning had arrived with a vengeance. Her warm daydreams were doused by Raphael's words as though they were a bucket of ice water. She glanced at her watch and gasped.

"Yeah, I think I heard your cell phone go off too," Raphael said.

April nodded. "I should...uh, I should call him."

"Not sounding like that, you shouldn't," Raphael said. He pulled from his belt his own cell phone and dialed a number. "Yo, Case-man. It's Raph...Yeah, she's here. Donatello had kind of a rough night and she fell asleep on the couch...No, he's good now but it was late and we asked her to stay here until morning just in case...Yeah, bad fever and infection or something, but he'll be fine...Yep...Okay, late." Raphael closed up the cell phone with a snap that nearly made April jump.

"He's your friend," she said quietly.

"Yeah, and Don's my brother."

April nodded. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it." Raphael gave her a hard look which softened when his gaze moved to Donatello lying peacefully asleep, and then retreated to his room.

April looked at Donatello's sleeping face beside her through a blur of tears. "No," she said softly, "I won't."


3 Days Later...

"How do you feel?" Leonardo asked, pulling up a chair to his brother's bed.

"Pretty good," Donatello replied. "You know, I was so tired and thought all I wanted was to sleep, but now I keep thinking about all the work I still have to do."

"Well, don't. We have strict orders to give you some rest, and to make sure you give yourself some too."

"I see," Donatello said. "I appreciate that." He smiled. "And does that bucket of water have something to do with your orders?" he asked with a nod toward the tin pail beside his bedroom door.

"That's insurance."

Donatello laughed but it faded quickly when his brother didn't join in. "You seem like you could use some more sleep yourself. Everything all right?"

Leonardo sighed. "Yeah, Don. It's just...we owe you an apology. I owe you an apology..."

"No, you don't--"

Leonardo held up his hand. "Yes, I do. I shouldn't have pushed you about the cell phones."

"Not a big deal."

"Maybe not by itself but just..." Leonardo struggled to find the words. "I shouldn't have pushed you but moreover, I should have seen you were on the edge. But I didn't."

"It's okay, Leo," Donatello said quietly. "There's a lot of things I should have done differently. Don't take so much on and you won't feel so bad."

"But see, that's just it," Leonardo said, rising and pacing the room. "I was so busy trying to do the right thing, and be a good leader, and prevent trouble and so I didn't see it staring me right in the face. I don't know, Don. I sometimes think I'm not cut out for this."


"You almost died," Leonardo said. "And for what? Because I thought the damn cell phones just had to be fixed."

Donatello sat up against his pillows. "Okay, first of all, sit down. You're making me tired just looking at you." He watched as his brother slumped back into the chair beside his bed. "Secondly, I know perfectly well how to stand up for myself and I didn't. You're my brother and I love you, but I don't live and die by your word. And thirdly, while I don't live and die by your word, I respect it and obey it, because you don't ever ask us to do things that are illogical or unfair, even when we bitch and complain and give you a hard time. The cell phones needed to be fixed for the precise reasons you said they did. The fact that I hadn't slept in five days doesn't change that and certainly isn't your fault." He reached out and took his brother by the arm. "You're our leader, Leo, because you're the best one of us. But no matter how good you are, we're going to screw up now and then. And that's what I did. I screwed up. It's not your fault what happened to me but the reason you feel bad about it is because you're our leader and because you're the best one of us."

"That's not true."

"Isn't it? Do you think Mikey is sitting in his room, agonizing over our futures and giving himself ulcers plotting and planning ways to keep us all safe? Or Raph? I know I don't." Donatello grinned and chucked Leonardo on the arm. "The doubt and worry that's making you think you're not qualified for the job are the exact reasons why you are. Okay?"

Leonardo said nothing. The love he felt for his brother made his chest tight, and he realized in that moment how important Donatello was to him, how much he needed him and relied on his intellligence and kindness and keen perceptions... I'm not the best one of us, he thought, you are, Donnie. I came so close to losing you, and for what? The danger Donatello had been in over something so simple and so preventable haunted his soul and no amount of kind words was going to banish that sense of failure. The earnest way in which Donatello was looking at him, the very fact that Donatello was alive and well and sitting there, saying those things to him only magnified the feeling, making him feel worse.

But don't burden him with that. He doesn't deserve it. Leonardo forced a smile and said, "Okay."

Donatello beamed and then yawned. He settled himself against his pillows. "You know, I might just get used to this."

Leonardo made to reply when a small, muffled comotion could be heard going on outside Donatello's closed door. Leonardo held up his hand for silence and they both listened to the whispered exchange.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Damn, Raph. Scare a guy half to death."

"You were going to go in Don's room, weren't you?"

"No way! I was...uh... I forgot something and..."

"Don't you get it, Mikey? Do you even remember what happened?"

"Yeah, I do. It's just..."

"It's just what?"

"The cable's out."

There was a pause. In the room, Donatello clapped a hand over his mouth. Leonardo rolled his eyes.

"It is?"

"It is, and there's a National Lampoon's marathon starting in twenty minutes."


Leonardo shook his head. Donatello was shaking with stifled laughter.

"Yeah. First Vacation, then European Vacation and then Christmas Vacation..."

"They're showing Christmas?"

"Yeah, I know!"

"I love that flick. So underrated."



Leonardo, with a sigh, rose from his chair and went to the door. "I told you this would come in handy," he whispered, taking up the water bucket.

Donatello choked back his laughter. "I stand corrected."

Leonardo stood to the side of the door, ready to unleash his weapon. Slowly, quietly, tentatively, the door opened.



A/N :Thanks to all have read and reviewed this fic. I haven't had time to do review replies, but I'll try to get to any left on this last chapter. Thanks again! I enjoy writing in this fandom and your support is greatly appreciated. :)