Vile Vial

Disclaimer: TMNT was created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. TMNT belongs to Mirage Studios. I am not making any money from this fic.

Edit: I've fixed that annoying scene change problem, so hopefully it won't be such a wrench on the old grey cells to tell what's happening. Thanks to Nekotsuki for the advice! :) Also what I should have said before was a big thank you to Miss Kay for beta-ing this monster

Hi guys! :) Sorry about the notes again, but I want to make a quick comment about this fic. It'll be a pretty long fic, but it is finished – so in theory you're guaranteed to get the end :)

Also, beginning in this chapter and carrying on from there, is a little anomaly I'd like to explain. In the 2003 TV show (upon which this fic is based), the signals are very mixed as to whether or not the boys are cold-blooded. In 'Tales of Leo' they're all wrapped in blankets in the truck, and Mikey (I think) makes a comment about being cold-blooded. However, in 'Adventures in Turtle-Sitting', Don has a fever and in 'Return to the Underground' he can be seen sweating. Cold-blooded creatures can't sweat, because that's a function only warm-blooded creatures have, as it involves regulating their own body temperature.

So, being the ornary creature I am, I've decided to use an amalgam of warm and cold blooded in this fic. Sorry ; I'm employing a little creative license:)

Anyway, I'll stop talking now and let you get on with what you're really here for:) Please, enjoy!


Vile Vial

Various shades of grey sped past Mikey as he skateboarded quickly down the sewer tunnel. He heard the vacuum of air in the tunnels to his left and right as he passed them, and high on the exhilaration, he called,

"Waaaahoooooo!!"

His attention taken by the excitement of the ride, he didn't notice that the floor of the tunnel ahead of him had been damaged. Peaks of smashed grey concrete stabbed up viciously in the path ahead of him, and he saw them too late as his skateboard skittered and juddered and then simply came to a stop in the middle of the concrete debris, sending the turtle careening forwards through empty space.

Mikey's 'wahoo' quickly turned into a 'waaaagh' as he flew through the air. He attempted to straighten himself and then saw a wall coming at him all too quickly. Throwing himself backwards, he tucked in his head and his arms and let his shell protect him as he crash landed with a harsh, loud scraping sound and a distinct

"Ooof!"

Mikey waited for the world to stop moving and carefully got to his feet, dusting himself off and craning his neck to inspect his shell.

"Aww, man…" he said disappointedly as he examined some relatively deep new scratches.

"It takes forever for those things to heal over." He grumbled, turning to walk back towards the broken concrete. He glanced down just before he put his foot on a pile of sharp-looking glass shards and a disembodied rubber stopper.

"Whoah!" Mikey exclaimed, hovering on one foot for a moment. He noticed a glass vial to the left of the pile of shards - and this time it was complete, with the rubber stopper rammed tightly into its neck. Mikey looked between the glass fragments and the vial and said to himself,

"I wonder if I…?"

He glanced down at the floor and at the transparent, slightly red tinged patch of liquid that had pooled beneath the fragments of glass. Then he looked at his own legs.

"Eeeeeewwwww…!" he exclaimed, as he noticed the tint of red on his left leg.

"That's gross…" he exclaimed, trying to rub the liquid off his leg. It was thin but slippery, and became slightly tacky as he rubbed it between finger and thumb. He leaned slightly further down and picked up the still whole vial. He muttered to himself,

"I'd better take this home to Donny. He'll know what it is."


"Where did you find this, Mikey?" Don asked, holding the vial carefully in his fingers. A worried scowl crossed his face.

"It was out in the viaduct by 34th and Main. I was in the middle of this totally tubular ride! Originally, there were two of them but…" Mikey began, but he quickly trailed off, skirting around what Don instinctively knew was a bigger issue.

"You didn't open the other one, did you? Where is it?"

"I didn't exactly open it… But I did kind of break it…"

Don's head hit the table in front of him – hard.

"Tell me you're kidding…?"

"Well, I could… but I'd be lying and you know what Master Splinter says about telling the truth…"

Don looked up at his brother with a look of concern etched on his face.

"Have you showered the stuff off?"

"Yeah – I didn't want that on me. And, you know, we live in a sewer, so I think I know what kind of stuff I need to wash off straight away." Mikey screwed his nose up and made to take the vial from Don's hand. Don instinctively closed his fist on the vial and tugged it out of Mikey's reach.

"And how do you feel?" he asked, ignoring his brother's pout.

"I'm good! I could go ten rounds with Raph right now!" Mikey instantly withdrew his nunchakus, swinging them with skill - and took out a small pet project in Don's lab.

"Mikey! Go and entertain yourself, will you?! Look, there are 'Stargate SG-1' reruns on the Sci-Fi channel all day. Go on and...shoo!" Don exclaimed, exasperated. Mikey cringed and wandered off towards the TV bank and the sofa, where the Sci-Fi channel was coaxing him forward.

Don sighed, opening a drawer and digging out a vial holder. He carefully placed the offending object into the holder and looked at the calendar on his PC. Raph and Leo had been gone now for seven days.

It was odd in the lair without them. They'd gone to the farm for some 'unification' training, as Master Splinter had called it. Their normally fractious relationship had worsened in the last few months, and Splinter had decided that it was time it stopped.

Don slipped into a different coat with every brother, so he never needed 'left hand and right hand' training. He glanced across to where Mikey sat, glued to the TV screen and with a newly acquired pack of chips in his hand.

Don felt his worried frown return.

Vials with bizarre contents had always been an indicator for change in the world of the turtles and their master. He looked across at the vial in its new home and sighed.

He could only hope that this time it was different.


"Raph! Stop!" Leo cried, throwing his brother off him. He looked at the nick on his arm irritatedly. Breathing heavily, he sheathed his twin katana.

"That's enough for now – before you take my arm off."

"If I can take your arm off, doesn't that mean we need more practice?" Raph asked, flicking his right-hand sai irritatedly.

Leo levelled his eyes at his brother.

"Feeling bloodthirsty today, Raph? If I didn't hope I knew better, I'd say you were trying to kill me."

"If I was trying to kill you, you'd already be dead," Raph said, sheathing only one sai.

"Oh Raph," Leo said disgustedly, "you stopped scaring me a long time ago. You're just a bigger bully now than you were back then." Raph snorted.

"Think our training's working?"

"For our family's sake, it had better work." Leo said – still somehow reluctant to turn his back on his brother. Raph paused and nodded. Leo turned his eyes away from the hot glare of his brother.

If Raph and I can't get it together, we risk losing everything. I don't know when our relationship got so bad – how we got so out-of-tune.

Like all things that change; slowly, I guess.

For Don and Mikey's sake, we have to get our mojo back. Without it, we're at serious risk of letting them down.

"Shall we go again?" Leo said, withdrawing his katana once more. Raph smiled.

"That's what I wanted to hear."


Don yawned. He was tired, but he had to find out what was in the vial – preferably sooner rather than later. He knew here was no point in putting a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on his door – of all the brothers, Mikey was the one who never paid attention to that request.

"Mikey? You still up?" he called from the subway carriage. After a few moments, Mikey appeared at his door. He looked miserable, and slightly paler than usual.

"What – the reruns are over?" Don smiled, looking back at the papers strewn across his desk. Mikey shook his head.

"I don't feel so good."

Don's heart sank as he immediately looked up.

"What kind of 'don't feel so good,' Mikey?"

"The kind of 'don't feel so good' that means you barfed all over the sofa." Mikey said miserably. Don squeezed his eyes shut.

"Okay, well… I did ask." He put his pencil down, stood and placed the back of his hand on Mikey's forehead.

"You are hot. Show me your tongue," Don asked. Mikey instantly opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out. Don pulled a face and said,

"I've got to stop asking for things I might actually get."

Mikey shivered, and Don turned him around, pointing him towards the door.

"Go to bed. Sleep on the floor - and take a bucket. I'll be in to see you in a minute."

Don watched Mikey go, worry etched into his face.

This was not good.

And it was the kind of not-good that Don immediately associated with the vial. He looked at it, disturbed.

I've only managed to part-run tests on the contents. Already I don't like what I've found. And if Mikey's sick, that's either some kind of crazy coincidence, or...

I'm a scientist; I don't like coincidence.

Keeping his promise to his sick brother, Don traipsed off to the linen chest to get Mikey several extra blankets, to use for making him a nest on the floor. He walked with them down the corridor and dumped them on the floor outside Mikey's room. He then walked out to the kitchen and picked up a bowl, filling it full of water,and then grabbed a facecloth from the bathroom.

He peeped around the door to his sensei's room to see if he was still awake, but his father's breathing was deep and rhythmic – he was asleep, and Don didn't have the heart to wake him.

He walked into Mikey's room, finding him on the floor, huddled in blankets, snuggling a teddy bear Don hadn't seen for years.

"I didn't know you still had Rufus." Don grinned, putting down the bowl of water and dragging in the blankets he'd left outside. Mikey opened one bleary eye.

"I couldn't get rid of Rufus. Rufus is my buddy through thick and thin, dude. He's like a soft, cuddly version of Raph," He mumbled.

"Well… Raph sure doesn't do soft or cuddly." Don raised an eyebrow and sat down beside his brother.

"So, apart from not good, how else do you feel?" Don asked, feeling Mikey's brow and finding him warmer than before, despite the fact that he seemed to have an oncoming case of the shivers.

"Just…not good…" Mikey mumbled, closing his eyes and tugging the covers more tightly around himself.

"How about you try to be a bit more specific for the nice scientist, hmm?" Don asked, squeezing the facecloth in the bowl and placing the cooling fabric on his brother's forehead.

"My-my stomach feels like someone took it out, twisted it up and then put it back in… And m-my head feels like it's got one of Raph's metal bands playing in it. And they're stamping." Mikey's breath was hot on Don's hand as he withdrew the facecloth and soaked it again, putting it back afresh.

"And I feel as thought m-my heart is about to beat out of my ribcage…" Mikey said. Don tried to resist the worry that once again played havoc with his features, but he couldn't resist its call.

"Okay, so… that's pretty specific," He said, worry lilting his voice.

He turned his wrist upwards and flicked the support fabric away from his watch. He put a finger against the pulse at Mikey's throat. He counted the pulse he found for ten seconds, multiplied it by six – and sighed.

"Your pulse is fast," He said.

"I think…I think everything's going dark…" Mikey said, reaching out a hand in front of him. Don paled.

"This is it… This is the end, bro…" Mikey moaned.

"Mikey, you'd better be kidding…" Don forced.

"No, this… really is the end… Tell Raph and Leo…"

"Mikey…"

"Tell Raph and Leo…"

"Mikey, I'm going to smack you if you're playing me," Don warned, his heart beating like a drum in his chest. Mikey's hand fell.

"You're such a spoilsport." Mikey groaned, pushing his face into the pillow before him. Don gave him a light whack on the arm – a warning not to play that card with him again. It was, as it always was with Mikey, the wildcard.

"Don't do that to me, Mikey. What good am I to you if I'm a gibbering wreck?" Don reclaimed the towel and soaked it again.

"My head really hurts… And my neck…" Mikey said into the pillow.

"Your neck hurts?" Don's worry peaked again. He made to turn Mikey's face towards him again, when his brother lifted his face out of the pillow voluntarily.

For a moment, they both stared.

As they stared, the red patch on the pillow was joined by gentle spats of scarlet. They slowly surrounded it - once, twice, three times – the sound of the droplets hitting the pillow the only sound in the room.

Donny cursed quietly and pressed the facecloth against Mikey's nose.

"Okay, I wasn't panicking before, but I am now…" Mikey said weakly, trying to get to a sitting position.

"Sit still, Mikey," Don instructed, the facecloth in his hand still pressed to his brother's face.

"When this stops, I'm going to get Master Splinter."

He needs to know what's going on now, Don thought to himself. I can't keep this to myself.

Leo lay on his back in the barn. He could hear the sounds of the forest around him – somehow comforting after the day he'd had with Raph. He'd managed to get on every last one of his nerves and it had been all he could manage not to lose his own temper.

He felt strangely alone. Despite the life of the forest all around him, there was something missing. He knew Raph was in the house - one of the bedroom lights was on, which meant that Raph was probably still whacking seven bells out of a practice dummy. If not, he may have been listening to music on the mp3 player Don had knocked up for them to share before they went away.

"At least you'll have to keep talking to each other if you want to listen to your music," he'd said before they left.

Ah. Suddenly it hit him.

I'm homesick.

After a week? Damn. Raph and I must be getting along really badly if I'm feeling sick for Don and Mikey after only a week.

And Master Splinter.

He sent us out here to improve our interpersonal relationship – probably more so than our skills. But so far we've come up with a big fat zero.

He turned in his hay bed.

But I can't go back empty-handed. I can't go back without improvement.

I'm just going to have to try harder.

He fidgeted again, turning once more onto his back.

I suppose Mikey's driving poor Don crazy. He had some big project he wanted to work on – Mikey probably keeps asking him to reset his Rubik's Cube.

I suppose if I'm going to improve my temper and extend my patience, I should probably go to bed.

Leo jumped out of the hay and landed on his feet, drawing his weapons simultaneously.

Ah, Leo. You still got it.

Sheathing them again, he drifted back towards the house, shutting the barn doors tightly behind him.


"My son…" Donatello woke to his father's gentle prodding. He rubbed his eyes and immediately cast them to Mikey. The turtle was pale, and a sheen of sweat covered his brow. His teeth were clenched, and every so often, he would chew at his cheek.

"How is he, Master?"

"He is…not well, Donatello. Not at all."

Donatello had drifted to sleep at his brother's side. At first, Splinter had accommodated this – but the truth was, Donatello was getting in the way and was in need of sleep himself.

"Donatello – go to your own bed. I will take care of your brother."

"But – Master, I – "

"Do as you are told, my son. I will take care of Michelangelo." Splinter's voice was firm, and Donatello knew that he must stand and leave the room.

But go to bed?

Perhaps he could get out of that.

He looked again at Mikey and the look of consternation on his face. He tucked Rufus back under his brother's arm – with Mikey's twisting and turning, he had become dislodged. Don's hand lingered for a moment and then he stood, immediately regretting the requirement to turn his back on his brother.

In the early hours of morning, Donatello sat back and looked at the printout of a graph. It disturbed him greatly.

An unsettling feeling had slowly groped at him for the past two hours, touching him in unprotected areas, tainting the very air he breathed, the sanctity of his chest. He didn't like it, and he didn't like where his discovery was heading.

He stifled a yawn and reached out for the vial which he now knew for sure was the source of his brother's current state.

He should have done as Splinter had said. He should have gone to bed. He should not have been in his lab so late, or so tired.

Instead of taking hold of the vial, he knocked it. Immediately fully awake and with a heart beating hard with panic, he reached for the vial before it hit the counter – and missed.

The fragile glass vial shattered as it hit the desk, sending its contents everywhere.

Donatello immediately felt sick as he instantly reached for tissues and paper – anything to cover the area, already knowing that whatever was in the vial, he'd been exposed to it - that whatever had stolen away with Mikey's laugh now had him in its sights.

He immediately went to the bathroom and snatched up a nailbrush, taking the antibacterial soap on the side and scrubbing it across his hands, across his arms, knowing already that it was too late, knowing that antibacterial soap would be no use against a virus, but still, through his panic, aware that he had to control this outbreak in their home if he possibly could.

He rinsed his hands and arms, once again soaping them up and scrubbing, repeating it at least twice more, until the skin on his hands and arms was red and raw and, in some places, simply gone and exposing flesh.

There's nothing else I can do.

I've done all I can.

I've done all I can – to me, at least.

Master Splinter looked up from his ailing son and sniffed the air. His heightened senses smelled something acrid and dangerous, something heavy and dark.

Smoke!

"Donatello!" he snapped, leaping up and racing out to the living area to find the room filled with smoke and the yellow light of fire. His ears fell flat against his head.

"It's controlled, Master. I damped down everything around it. Took everything away that would burn." Donatello's voice was merely a husk as he approached his father.

"My son – what have you done?!" Splinter exclaimed angrily. Donatello's eyes fell to his burning lab.

"Stopped it spreading any further."

Even as he spoke, the flames slowed on their destructive path, finding metal where they wanted to find paper and wood and cloth.

"It won't burn for long. The vents are open. Soon…it'll all be gone." Donatello's voice was still blank. Splinter suddenly took hold of his son's wrist, his grip hard. He glanced down, seeing the red flesh amidst hot, raw, olive green skin.

"You were exposed…"

"No. First I was stupid – then I was exposed."

Splinter was silent.

"Raph and Leo… They can't come home," Donatello said hoarsely. "We must quarantine this area, Master. We can't let them in."

"My son – "

"I'll tell them. It's… I'll do it."

Donatello took a fire extinguisher to the smouldering remains of his beloved lab. There was some little comfort to be found in his wireless network. The server itself was in his bedroom; the lab was only an annexe. All his computer-based work would remain – including the work he had done on the virus. His physical work-in-progress would all be gone, but at least he'd be able to hit the ground running when he started work again.

If he didn't simply just hit the ground.

"How's Mikey?" Don asked. His father simply looked away.

"I'd probably have been exposed anyway. I don't have access to any biohazard gear or…stuff…" the turtle said, his composure merely a layer as thin as his skin.

"It's absorbed through skin. Once it's in, it works by locating an enzyme available only to reptiles. You'll be safe, Master."

"Safe… Donatello, when something comes into my home and attacks my children, I cannot consider myself safe…" Master Splinter said, his hands heavy on his stick.

"Sensei, we need to get word to Leatherhead. He's a reptile, too – Mikey found the two vials in the sewer; that means he's also at risk."

"We will get word to him, Donatello. I will go to him myself." The old rat put a hand on his son's forearm and only then noticed how far up his arms the thinness of skin stretched. He rubbed his abraded arm gently.

"Do not worry yourself, my son. You have enough to worry about already."


Leo poked at a piece of toast disconsolately. Something was decidedly wrong with the feeling of the morning – something he couldn't lay a finger on but that disturbed him nonetheless. He was up early but even so, Raph had been up first, and Leo could hear him practicing on a padded stake even as he picked up his toast.

With the toast halfway to his mouth, he heard his Shell Cell ring. Don had recently enabled them to play mp3 ring tones, and he was greeted by the opening strains of 'Lament' by Deep Forest.

"Turn off that tree-hugger crud, Leo, I'm trying to practice here!" came Raph's gruff voice from the other room. Leo made an exasperated face and answered his Shell Cell.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Leo. It's Don."

It was somewhat a relief to hear a friendly voice – but its nervousness wasn't lost on the oldest brother.

"Hey, Don. Wasn't expecting to hear from you.

"Did you not go to bed again last night?"

There was an awkward pause.

"Well, you know, I kinda didn't…

"How's the training going?" Don asked, detracting from Leo's question.

"If we pretend you didn't ask, I don't have to lie to you," Leo replied, glancing into the other room.

"Oh. Like that, huh?" Don replied, his voice distant.

"Is everything okay, Don? You sound a bit…spaced."

There was a sigh. Leo waited patiently.

"No. Not really.

"You guys… You can't come home."

Leo had been standing in the doorway between the two rooms, toast in hand. He paused, and indicated for Raph to pay attention.

"What do you mean, Don?" Leo's chest tightened suddenly.

"I mean you can't come home right now. I know you're not finished training, and I'm sorry, but… there's some things that couldn't…maybe can't wait.

"It's a long story, and I'm not making any sense…"

"Wait a sec, bro. I'm going to put you on speakerphone so that Raph can hear," Leo answered, pulling the Shell Cell away from his ear and pressing the speakerphone button. Raphael stopped what he was doing, but didn't approach.

Donatello relayed as much of the story as he dared, including the destruction of his lab. Leo and Raph's expressions mirrored each other as they glanced at one another over the Shell Cell.

"So how's Mikey now?" asked Raph, the worried frown seared onto his forehead as he approached.

"He's…not good."

"And you?" Leo asked.

"I'm…okay for now. I haven't started showing symptoms yet."

"So you might not have contracted it?" Leo asked, trying to get an exact picture in his mind.

"It…seems unlikely."

"Rate it as a percentage for me, bro."

"98."

"Likely that you have or likely that you haven't?"

There was another pause.

"Likely that I have."

"I don't like those odds," Leosaid gravely. Don laughed nervously.

"You know what? Me either."

"Donny – are you a complete numbskull?" Raph asked – angry that his brother had made the foolish mistake of exposing himself prematurely to a strange and, by all current accounts, dire virus. Don laughed again, still with an edge of nervousness.

"Yeah, apparently. I thought I was smarter than that – but maybe I'm stupid after all."

"It's not about how stupid you may or may not have been, Don. It's about what we can do about it now.

"What do you need us to do?" Leo asked, determined not to let Raph bully Don into an even more fragile state – it didn't take a mastermind to figure out that their brother was already anxious and scared.

"First of all you need to stay away. It makes no sense to expose you two as well as me and Mikey. Second, I need you to go to April. She's safe; like Master Splinter, she can't contract this so she can actually come down to us. I don't have an example of the virus anymore, so I can't do any more research on it. Tell her to bring some hypodermic syringes. I'll e-mail her what I managed to learn – maybe she'll be able to find out more. She can do bloodwork from home if she takes some of my equipment.

"She's not a complete nerd like me – so she doesn't have any of that stuff.

"Tell her she can e-mail or IM me – I've got the network up all the time anyway.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"You'd better not be, bro." Leo's words were heartfelt.

"Yeah – when you finally let us come home, we want a full contingent." Raph said. Leo gave him a brief smile.

His hand was tight against the Shell Cell. The gravity of the situation was finally sinking in.

"So… That's it for now. I'm sorry it's not…you know… better news."

"What's done is done, Don. Let us know if there's anything else you need.

"We'll do whatever it takes."

"I know. I'll call soon."

"Good."

There was reluctance on both sides of the conversation – neither wanted to end the call.

"Well… I'll speak to you soon."

There was an unspoken 'I hope' tagged onto the end of Don's sentence.

"Stay safe, Don. Tell Mikey… Tell Mikey not to be too much trouble – and that we're thinking of him."

"Sure."

The line went dead.

Apparently, goodbye had been too poignant a word for Donatello. Whatever he had found in the tests he'd run on the vial had disturbed him to the core.

Leo looked up at Raph.

"I think-"

"We're going back to New York," Raph finished for him. Leo nodded.

"Give me that. I'll raise our ride." Raph indicated for Leo's Shell Cell.

Casey was going to get a rude awakening that morning.


Don sat beside his brother. Mikey's eyes wore dark circles and he was only barely holding onto his consciousness. His grip on Rufus however was as strong as always.

Don dampened his brother's lips with a clean cloth. He squeezed it gently, allowing a few drops of water to fall into Mikey's mouth.

I've got to figure out a better way to keep you hydrated. Don thought to himself worriedly. He put the clean cloth back into the cup of water to his right, and picked up the refreshed bowl of fever water next to it, complete with clean face cloth.

Mikey opened his eyes and gazed at Don.

"Don…?"

"Yeah. It's me, Mikey."

"Am I sick?"

"Yeah." Donatello's sigh was sad.

"I thought so. I don't feel so good," Mikey said, blinking a few times.

"I know. I'm working on it. I'm working on how to make you better." Don carefully squeezed out the cloth in the bowl and wiped Mikey's face gently.

"Don?"

"Yeah?"

"I can't see properly."

Don put the bowl down. Through sheer effort, he kept the worry out of his voice.

"What do you mean?"

"I think I've… got something in my eye…" Mikey's hand reached up shakily, but it didn't get to its target before Don removed his brother's mask carefully.

He didn't like what he saw.

"Yeah… Y-you have got something in it…" Don said, his face pale. He lifted the cloth from the bowl and squeezed it, immediately pressing it into the tear ducts in both of Mikey's eyes. He hid what he found in his hand when he lifted the towel away; he didn't want Mikey to know he was crying bloody tears.

Haemorrhagic fever… Oh, that's just greatDonatello's heart skipped a beat.

Today just keeps getting worse and worse and worse.

He moved forward with the cloth again as Mikey's nose followed suit. He turned his brother onto his side so that he didn't have to swallow the blood and kept the cloth pressed against his nose.

"I'm making a mess again…" Mikey said, his voice cracked and muffled.

"It's all right." Don smiled gently. "Don't worry about it."

Mikey coughed and said,

"I'm thirsty."

"Why don't you sit up? I'll give you some water."

"I don't think I can sit up on my own."

"It's all right; I'll help you. What are brothers for?"

"Seems like it's for bleeding all over," remarked Mikey. Against his better judgement, Don laughed.

"Then it must be my lucky day."

Don swallowed hard against the sickness in his stomach. He couldn't show Mikey that he was starting to share symptoms with him. For Mikey he had to be strong, he had to hold up – no matter what happened. He could be their only lifeline.

Helping Mikey to a sitting position, he took the drinking water glass and removed the thin cloth. He encouraged Mikey to drink carefully, aware that it was a while since he'd actually taken any liquid. Mikey coughed, and Don was patient with him as his body wracked.

It was then that Master Splinter entered the room. He indicated to Donatello that he would take over as the gentle turtle helped his brother back under the blankets that protected him from the rest of the world. Donatello nodded to his father, without meeting his eye.

His own pallor might have evaded the notice of his bedridden brother, but it did not evade the notice of his teacher and father. Neither of them spoke as their eyes finally met. Donatello looked away quickly, unable to look his father in the eye for long.

"I'll be back to see you in a minute, Mikey. Master Splinter's got your back for now, okay?"

He smiled weakly as he stood and walked towards the door. As he approached his father, Splinter's hand snapped out and caught his wrist. His eyes were beseeching.

'Do you have an answer?' was the unspoken question in his eyes, on his lips. Donatello shook his head and gently pulled free of his father's grip.

"I have to go…do some more research," Donatello said quietly as he left the room.

Splinter watched him go with a heavy heart.

As soon as Donatello was outside, he headed unsteadily for the bathroom. It was going to be a long, long day.

If he was lucky, it would be a long few days.

End of Part One


Thank you for reading this far. Part two will be up in about a week!:)