Picking Up the Pieces

Disclaimer: I wish they were mine. Sniffle.

Okay… I think that three and a half months is a long enough time to be MIA from the server. It's time I got my 'shell' in gear and got back to work.

And if anyone is really curious on where I've been let's just say 'Life' and leave it at that.

So, sorry for the delay in this chapter everyone, hopefully all 29,000+ words of it will be worth the wait.

And thanks to everyone who either pm, emailed or pestered me online, it's nice to know you all care about my well being and my stories enough to fill my inbox almost everyday with mail of some shape or form.

And special thanks to Miles333, Storm Princess, and Quote the Raven for all the ideas and thoughts you gave me.

Chapter Twenty Six: The Last Piece


Oh shell, not again…

This is starting to become a very bad habit.

I've been unconscious so much in the past week that I must have set some kind of record. I wonder if I'm going to get some kind of reward. A vacation would be nice. Yes, a nice long vacation with my family…with no time, space, or dimension travel…an ordinary, nothing special about it, vacation. And there better not be any kind of mad scientist/doctor nearby, because I think I'd beat him to a pulp just on principle.

Before I start beating on random doctors and scientists, I should see if it's possible for me to move in the very least. Judging by the dulled pain in my arm and hand, Raph finished up the stitches he was working on after he brought me in here. My shoulder aches from where that arrow hit me as I was ambushed in the dark by Foot ninjas, but it's a good ache that means that the skin and muscle is healing. Thank shell that the arrowhead didn't pierce too deep or hit anything important. My ankle's been wrapped. I guess I hurt it kicking something…or someone. My ribs are a little tender again. I really haven't given them a chance to heal that much in the past week. And last but not least, my head feels like someone took a baseball to it. I bet the drugs are just as much to blame about it as the fight is.

Wow, this is going to be tough. I can understand –and I entirely agree- as to why I am strapped down on my shell and blindfolded, but that doesn't mean I like it. Talk about feeling exposed. Defenseless. I force myself to take a deep calming breath. I'm in the middle of the lair, there's no way anyone can get in here to get me. It's not like anyone could find the lair and I doubt my family will let someone just walk in here while I can't do anything. And even if someone did get in here, they would have to get past whoever is sitting next to me.

I can't help but flinch when a hand gently touches my shoulder. The hand is immediately pulled away, "Donnie? Are you awake?" At least I know I can still understand English. It would've been just my luck if I had lost it again.

"R-Raphie…" Why does my voice sound so horrible? It's barely above a whisper and it sounds like I've taken up eating rocks. I hope Raph at least had an idea of what I was trying to say.

"Easy Donnie. Let's get some water into you. That should help you talk better." Right now, anything that helps me to not sound like I swallowed a cross between a basset hound and a frog would be greatly appreciated, Raphael. And hurry up, please. The last thing I want is for Mikey to overhear me sounding like this. I won't be able to get him to clam up about it for weeks.

His hand gently tucks underneath the back of my head and he supports it as he presses the glass to my lips. He's only letting me have the barest of trickles. It's nice to know he remembered how easy it is for someone to choke when they are like this. Water has never tasted this good before. When was the last time I drank water? The soup broth can be considered water, but it did have a high salt content and I was out for a while. I'm probably a little more than a little dehydrated.

Either I've drained the glass or Raphie thinks I have had enough, cause he pulls it away from my lips. "Are you feeling better?"

Why is he keeping his voice so low? How late is it, anyways? "Yeah." Good, my voice sounds much better. Maybe Raph's being so quiet because my voice sounds so quiet. Nah, it's has to be something else. "Why is it so quiet?" It's never quiet here, unless something bad has happened. I suppose me flipping out and trying to kill everyone counts as bad…

"It's nearly five in the morning, brainiac." It's that late already? Or early, depending on how you look at it. Everyone has probably been in bed since, like, three. He sighs and the chair squeaks slightly as he sits down again. "It's really been a long night for everyone."

Yeah…that's an understatement. I still can't believe I tried to kill them. I don't care if there were subliminal messages or drugs involved, I should have been able to overpower it somehow. I love them; that has to equate to something. I should have been able to stop myself. I should've actively tried to do something rather than worrying about them reacting to what I was doing. If I had focused on ho-

"You know, I gave you water so you would talk to me, not so you'd stay quiet and overanalyze something."

I can't help but smile. "Sorry, Raph. I was just…I should've been able to stop myself. I should have been able to warn you somehow."

"Next you're going to tell me that you need to find how to bring about world peace, cure cancer, and get Mikey to give up the remote without having to wrestle him for it. You're only one turtle Don, don't get too big for your shell."

Usually, it's Leo or Mikey who grounds me back into reality, but coming from Raph seems to make it that much more potent. Maybe it's because he rarely does it that it's not half as expected for him to always reassure me. "I know, it's just-" He huffs at me. Yeah, I'm doing it again. Sorry, Raph. "Thanks, Raph."

He snorts. "Someone has to keep you sane." Do I detect a bit of amusement in his voice?

I know it wasn't his intentions to make me think back on what I did earlier tonight, but I can't help it. Technically, I really did go insane. It was so weird having my body act without any input from my mind. What kind of drug would do that to me? Saka had to have made it from scratch. I know there isn't a drug that powerful out on either the market or the black market. There is a wide assortment of amnesic drugs available to psychologist, maybe he combined several of those and somehow increased the half-life. How would someone go about doin-


I can't help but smile at the annoyed growl that comes from Raph. "Sorry, I'm just trying to figure out what kind of drug could have turned me into a psychotic killer." That reminds me. "Hey, Raph?" He just grunts at me to continue. I'm so glad that he still has his standoffish attitude, despite what happened. If he became all caring and considerate, then I would worry about his mental health. "Is everyone going okay? How bad are they hurt?"

Raph's gone silent. I don't like it when that happens, what is he hiding from me? I'm just about to open my mouth to demand an answer, only to have Raph beat me to the punch. "Leo took a hard hit to the head, but other being knocked for loop, he'll live. Master Splinter has some bruising on his side, but I already checked for broken ribs and he's fine. Mikey shoulder was dislocated and the muscles around it are weak, but he should be fine in another day or two."

I dislocated Mikey's arm? No wonder he was having problems using it. He must have been using pressure points to try and block out the pain when we were in a standoff together. "And what about you? Don't hide anything, cause when I get off this table and I've found out you weren't taking care of yourself, you'll be strapped down for a week."

He chuckles under his breath. "I'm fine, brainiac. I just got a new ding in my shell and a couple of decent sized bruises."

And it could be some much more… "What about Casey and April?" He hasn't said anything about them yet.

"They're going to be fine. I told them to go to the hospital so-"

"WHAT?!!" I try and sit up, only to have the restraints across my chest and arms force me back down. I had enough upward momentum to really jerk myself hard against them and whatever the pain reliever the Raph used for my arm really wasn't that strong. I can't help but gasp at the pain that's flared up my arm. A chair is clattering to the floor and Raph's hands are on my shoulders pushing me back onto the mattress.

"Easy, Don! Easy! I wanted them to get x-rays just in case something was broken! Calm down!" Ow… More painkiller, please. I think I busted a stitch doing that. I can feel blood pooling under the heavy bandages encasing most of my lower arm. "Crud." I guess Raph's noticed the blood to.

"What's going on in here, Raph?" Leo's up?

"I should be asking you the same thing. I told you to get some sleep."

"You're not my doctor."

Oh good, they're fighting. Please don't worry about me or anything, you two. I'll just lay here and calmly bleed to death. "But I am, and if Raph is telling you to get rest, then so am I."

"So you're finally admitting to being a doctor?"

"Shut up, Raph." I swear Raph does things like this just to get me mad. It has never worked, though. All he does is manage to annoy me.

"How are you feeling, Donnie?" Leo's voice is steadily getting louder as he walks up to stand next to the bed. He's walking louder then normal, I guess that's so I can tell where he is and not freak out if he touches my arm. Raph's been purposely making noise too. That's considerate of them. He sets his palm on my shoulder as he says, "Are you comfortable enough?" I wonder if it's possible to roll your eyes at someone and have them notice if you're wearing a blindfold. How the shell does he think I feel? I'm strapped down to a bed wearing a blindfold. It's really disconcerting to have people hovering over you when you pinned like I am.

"How the shell do you think he feels?" I can hear the sarcasm in Raph's remark, but then again, he's always using sarcasm. "Hold him down for a minute, will ya? I'm going to grab the morphine."

Hold me down? Morphine? What the shell? Raph's hands leave my shoulders only after Leo's hands take over their positions. At least he's not pushing down to hard, that could hurt. "You really don't have to hold me down, Leo. I'm not going anywhere."

His thumbs begin to gently massage at the tension that I had built up in my shoulders at some point. I didn't even realize it was there. I wonder if this is a side affect of the drug. "I know you're not going anywhere, Don. It's just in case." Meaning it's just in case I flip out again and try killing people. At least this way I'll be hampered by the restraints long enough for them to pump me full of muscle relaxants. Hey, what is th-

Raph better not be doing what I think he's doing. "Don't you dare give me a shot of morphine, Raph."

"Why not? If one of us was a banged up as you were, you would've been pumping this stuff into us every chance you got."

Yeah, but I can deal with this minor pain with aspirin. I don't need any morphine, I feel just fine without it. "I don't need it and I'd rather you save it then waste it. Now put the syringe down." Why did Leo stop the impromptu massage session for a second?

I swear Raph made that poor IV stand shake for no reason. "Too late." Great, there goes a fairly large amount of morphine. Shell, it's hard enough as it is to get a hold of even a little bit of that stuff. I really need to look into manufacturing our own somehow. I can feel Raph's breath on the side of my head as he whispers into my ear in a very threatening tone. Actually, it sounds more like a stage whisper. "If you ever consider that giving morphine to you is a waste again, I'll personally shove that bo of yours in a very…awkward place."


Yeah, that could hurt.

I open my mouth to say something back to him, but somehow I forgot it before I could say it. Leo's simple massage is so lulling and soothing. I forgot how fast it takes morphine to kick in. It may be a powerful pain reliever, but it tends to make me very…loopy. I moan as I let my head flop into my cheek and I stared listlessly off into the space behind my eye lids while Batman and Bugs Bunny start talking about something involving a flying cheeseburger and an elephant which works for a secret government agency that wants to steal all the coffee flavored ice cream in the world. I could really go for some coffee right now. A hand gently caresses my cheek as I lay there.

"It's alright, Donnie," Leo soothes. "Why don't you get some sleep, we'll wake you later."

That, Leo, is a very, very good idea.

"Hey, Donnie? Are you awake?"

No, Mikey. I died shortly after Raph gave me morphine and then left me to sleep it off in a drug induced stupor. Hey, do I smell coffee? "Yeah, I guess…"

"I'll take that as a 'yes, I'm awake and I'm in dire need of food'. I can practically hear your stomach growling from the kitchen, bro." I can hear him moving around near the left side of the bed. "So let's get something into you before your stomach revolts and eats you from the inside out."

"That's scientifically impossible, Mikey."

"Well, you've obviously never seen any of the Alien movies, dude. Okay, you're coming up." A muffled hum comes from underneath as the head of the bed is slowly lifted so that I'm in a reclined sitting position. There's a slight bounce on the mattress next to my leg. I guess that means Mikey's done with the remote. I really need to get after him for throwing things around like that but since he brought me coffee, I let it go this time.

"Technically in the Alien movies, it was the aliens 'hatching' that cause people's stomachs to explode. It really had nothing to do with the stomachs themselves exploding." What on earth is he doing? It sounds like he's trying to use the silverware and plates as a drum set.

"Why do you always have to be so technical? Besides, how do you know it's not their stomachs exploding? Did you do field research on those things? I didn't think so. And since you don't have a PhD in alienology, we'll just stick with the stomachs explode part. When you get the PhD, then you can lecture me in alien anatomy and reproduction." I can't help but chuckle at Mikey's antics. He would go and blow something way out of portion just to get my spirits up. "Now open wide so the airplane can get in a hangar." What? Hanger? Mikey's making a noise that sounds like an engine that has a blown tie rod crossed with one of Casey's farts after Raph makes that extra hot chili. Something bumps lightly against my lips and I jerk my head backwards and surprise. I really wasn't expecting that to happen. "Aww, come on, Donnie. You're supposed to open a hangar door for the airplane to land, dude. Don't you know anything about aircrafts?"

Considering I was the one to refurbish our helicopter and most of our other vehicles from scratch I'm pretty confident that I know something about aircraft. I don't bother saying that the Mikey, though. He's just trying to get him under my shell, anyways. I pull my head away and off to the side so I can talk without having whatever shoved into my open mouth. "Mind telling me what you are doing?"

"Well, I really can't take the restraints off and you really need to eat sometime soon, bro. This seems like the simplest solution." I can nearly hear the shrug in his voice. I wonder how long he's been thinking this over, or better yet when. Knowing Mikey, it was probably several minutes after I was brought in here and strapped down in the first place. No matter who is sick or hurt, Mikey is always trying to find a way to feed them. It probably has to do with his massive appetite. "So open the hangar doors, 'cause the USS muffin is inbound for the runway."

That gets me to raise an eye ridge at him. Since this is Mikey, it'll be best just to play along, to an extent anyways. If not, he'll find a way to force-feed me whatever he's trying to get me to eat. I've had that happen once and there is no way in shell I'm letting Mikey do that to me again. It's also why I never tell him where I keep the come-a-longs anymore. I open my mouth and am presently surprised when he pops a small piece of those coffee muffins I love so much. "Mmmm…Mikey, you didn't have to make me these." It's freshly out of the oven, warm and steamy just the way I love them. How early did he get up to make these?

"I know. I figured you could use a little cheering up. I can't imagine its fun being tied down to the bed like this." I open my mouth to say something else, but Mikey takes the opportunity to put another piece of muffin in my mouth. If I didn't know any better I'd say he's using the muffins to keep me from saying anything. "Okay, you ready for some coffee bro?" Coffee? He brought me coffee too? Well, I can smell it, so it's bound to be in the room. How does he expect me to drink coffee like this?

"Careful now, it's still a little hot." Thanks for the warning, Mikey, but I don't see how that's really going to help me any. I feel the rim of a cup press against my lips and very slowly it's tipped towards me. I try and brace myself for what I know is gonna be a very hot liquid coming into my mouth and down my throat. Actually, this coffee isn't that hot. It's more lukewarm, almost but not quite too cold to drink without tasting nasty. It's at this temperature that I usually guzzled down the rest of the cup. Like Raphael had done the night before, Mikey makes sure that I don't get too much coffee at once and choke on it. He's letting a little more then a trickle run down my throat.

Mikey finally pulls the cup away and asks, "Ready for some more muffins?"

Okay, Mikey's up to something. He has that tone in his voice that usually tells me that he blew something up, destroyed something, or cause general chaos and discord wherever he's been for the past twenty-four hours. I wish this blindfold were off so I give him my less-than-convinced look. That always gets him to tell you what he did at a given time. Since I can't give him the look, I'm going to have to settle with asking him verbally and frowning at him. That'll also help him to realize that I'm on to him. "Mikey," I said with a long-suffering sigh. "What did you do this time?"

"W-what do you mean?" Yep, I've caught him in the act. He's definitely sucking up to me for a reason. Oh shell, if he's gotten near the arc welder again...

"Mikey. What did you do?" I hate using my firm, commanding voice on him, but sometimes this is the only way to get him to fess up to something. This role of playing the serious, disciplinary older brother is better left to Raph or Leo. I hate it when I have to scold Mikey for anything. Except when he blows up the toaster…again.

He lets out a sigh and I know I've won. Now it's time to find out exactly what he did this time. I wait patiently for a moment and I can practically see Mikey shuffling from foot to foot. He always does that when he's either unsure or trying not to admit to being in trouble. I hope whatever he broke is easily fixable this time. "It's not what I did, it's what I shouldn't have done." I frowned at that sentence; what the shell is he talking about? "Donnie…Donnie, I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I never should have said those things to you. I-I knew they would upset you. You told me they would upset you and I just use that to get back at you because of some stupid argument about...about…I don't even remember what it was about. I never should have said those things to you."

What? Argument? Oh, that argument. Is he still blaming himself for my capture? I thought we took care of this already. Oh wait, no we didn't. We couldn't talk to each other then, so he hadn't understood what I was saying. I may have taken the blame from him, but he never apologized to me. I guess all this special treatment is just his way of trying to say he's sorry. "Mikey. You don't have to apologize to me. I under-"

"What do you mean, I don't have to apologize to you? I could've gotten you killed!" I bet anything that Mikey is standing up and waving his arm around for no apparent reason. He really over-exaggerates everything. "When I found the fight scene where the Foot must have caught you and saw your bag torn open, I knew it was my fault that you were caught. It was because of what I said that made you leave the lair that night."

"Mikey! Calm down! It's nothing like that! You didn't have anything to do with me leaving that night!" Hopefully that will calm him down enough so that he will listen to what I have to say. "I went to my lab and locked the door because of what you said. I tried drowning myself in my work like I usually do. The only problem was I was missing some parts that I needed to complete my current project. That's why I left the lair. Not because of what you said."

"But if I hadn't said those things then you would have gone to your lab, you wouldn't have started working on some project, you wouldn't have needed those parts and you wouldn't have left the lair that night. See, it is my fault. This entire mess was all because of me! What's it called…the monopoly effect or something?!"

Oh, Mikey. "The domino effect."

"Yeah, that! I pushed over the domino in that argument and that got you to leave the lair and get captured and have your brain liquidated by the Foot!"

Okay, he's not calming down yet. "Mikey, even if that argument had never happened I still would have noticed that I needed to make a run to the junkyard. And If I recall correctly, you and I weren't the only ones in that argument. Leo and Raph were just as bad as you were."

"But they didn't say what I said! They didn't say what made you storm out of the room!"

I can't help but feel like I'm talking to Leo. He's always the one to twist around your words so that he is the one at fault. He takes way too much blame on his shoulders and it seems that Mikey is copying that right now. I'm going to get nowhere with him arguing about this. He has it set his mind that it was his fault I was taken. I have to stop arguing over the details with him and get him to understand that I don't blame him anymore. I smile broadly and chuckle under my breath. I can practically feel the confusion radiating off him. "Mikey, do you know who you sound like right now?" I don't bother waiting for an answer, "You sound just like Leo would if he was apologizing to me. I'm going to tell you the exact same thing I'm going to tell him, and Raph, and Master Splinter, and April, and Casey. I'm going to tell you all the exact same thing. This was not your fault, this was my fault. I should have called for back-up sooner. I should have run away after the first wave. I let myself fall into that trap. The argument may have happened before this all started but it had nothing to do with my actions in the junkyard that night. So stop blaming yourself, because I'm not putting any blame on you."

"You should." He sounds so small right now, and I can still hear the fight in his voice. I can all but see his head hanging in despair and self-loathing. Here I thought that Raph was my most stubborn brother. Mikey's really prove me wrong about that today.

"In your eyes, maybe I should be, but as far as I'm concerned, you're already blaming yourself enough that I don't need to add anything to it. I forgive you, Mikey, so just let it go." He's quiet for a long time. The only way I still know he's in the room is that I can still hear him shifting back and forth. Please tell me he's not going to keep up this argument. It's getting to the point of being pointless. He is continuing to blame himself when no one else blames him. I wonder if he was older than me, would we act any different?

"Thanks, Donnie." I guess he's decided to not blame himself anymore. Thank shell. I don't think I could deal with an unhappy Mikey. I really want to think of how much worse that would be then happy Mikey. "You know you really shouldn't let people get off so easily. Especially when something like this happens." Is he trying to lecture me? When did he start turning into Leo? Are they twins or something and I just never noticed? Or did I end up in the twilight zone at some point? Great, now I'm starting to sound like Mikey. "Now come on, your muffins and coffee is starting to get cold. Open wide!" Somehow I know that this isn't over yet, but as Mikey begins to feed me more coffee muffin and sips of coffee, I know that it's slowly going to get better.

"Hey, Don." April's here? When did she show up? When did I fall asleep, is a better question. The last thing I remember was Mikey trying to explain to me how he was going to cook dinner tonight. He was complaining about the lack of groceries and options available to him. I think he said something about takeout, but deciding against that because his favorite pizza place had fallen under new management. Now he complains that the sauce tastes funny.

"April? When did you get here?" I ask, trying to collect my thoughts. I must've been asleep for a long time, I guess.

"I've been here for a while. Mikey said you fell asleep shortly after you were done with breakfast." Without pausing a beat, she answers my unasked question. "It's nearly noon right now. Mikey said that lunch be done in about an hour."

I must've been asleep most of the morning. "How much morphine did Raph give me?"

A deep chuckle sounds from the other side around. "Not enough to keep you out for most of the day, brainiac."

Raph's been here, too? Actually, there are a lot of people in here. I can sense them. If Raph and April are in here I doubt that whoever else is here is going to cause me harm. Still, I can't help but tense up. The hand on my good arm clenches into a fist and my other hand tightens against the end of splint as best as it can. I can feel my face pinch into a frown as the try to figure out who else is in the room with us.

"Easy, Donnie." Well, now I know Leo is in here too. I bet that Mikey, Splinter, and Casey are the other three people in here. "You're safe. And you're home."

Why would Leo say that? I feel a slight pull on the knot fixing the blindfold to my face and the next thing I know it's jerked off my head. I blink my eyes open in shock and close them just as quickly. It's too late. I know it's too late. Master Splinter was standing right at the end of the bed so the first thing I saw was him. Shell, what if my programming kicks in again? What the shell was Leo thinking? "Leo! What the shell-"

"I told him to do that, Donnie." April quickly cuts in, before I can really chew Leo out. "I've been running blood tests every hour since you were put to bed." That's a nice way to say strapped down and drugged. "The drug that Doctor Saka gave you was only designed to work once. The blood tests have been confirming that over the course of this morning. There is barely five percent of the drug left in your body right now. I highly doubt that that is enough to send you into assassin mode."

Five percent still means that there is a slim chance that it's possible to be a 'super assassin' again. Five percent is way too much for me. I open my eyes and fix April with a stern glare. "Five percent still means that there is a chance that I could revert back and try to kill everyone again. You can't completely trust Saka's notes. If he made a mistake about my physiology once, then there's a chance that he did it again. What kind of plan do you have in case I do flip out again?"

"The four of us hold you down while April pumps you full of muscle relaxants," Raph says with a shrug from where he's leaning nonchalantly against the wall behind April. I glance around the room; he's right. Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Casey are positioned so that if I tried to break free of the restraints each of them has an arm or leg that they can jump on almost instantly. The only one that would have to be very careful would be Raph; the hand he's in charge of restraining has the IV in it. I'm sure he chose it that way because he knows how much stress it takes to snap a needle and how gentle he has to be where the needle inserts into the back of my hand.

"So for now we're going to sit and wait for the next half-hour and see if you can into a deadly ninja assassin." How can Mikey sound excited about me trying to kill him?

"Between the time that you heard the words and saw Splinter and then tried to kill Mikey in the kitchen was about half an hour." April answers my question before I even have time to ask it. So now it's going to become a waiting game. If I don't try to kill someone or break free in the next thirty minutes, then I'm officially cured. This is gonna be longest thirty minutes of my life.

"And since we have the time, you're going to explain to us why the shell you decided to take on an entire ninja stronghold on your own." It figures Raph would want to know about that. I'm kind of surprised he didn't chew me out for this earlier. He pushed himself off the wall and points an accusing finger at me, "You could've been hurt worst then you were or killed. Why the shell didn't you take the time to wake one of us up?!"

I guess the easiest way out of this is going to be telling him the truth and hope he doesn't get too mad at me. I wish there was somewhere I could look without having to look at someone. Even though they haven't said anything, you can see the accusing look in their eyes. I sigh and look at the blanket covering my legs. Better get this over with now instead of later, "I didn't want Saka to get a hold of one of you. I didn't want any of you to go through what I went through. I just wanted to sneak in, find information about what he did to me, and seek out again. I wasn't planning on getting in a fight, I wasn't planning on getting caught, and I wasn't planning on needing to be rescued. All I wanted to do was get a general idea of the layout to make sure there was no way Saka could hurt you guys like he did me."

"Shell Donnie, that's it?" Raph looks like he just was told that the wrestling championship was canceled or least a good fight with the Dragons. "That's not a good excuse to take on the Foot like that!"

"He's right, Don." Great, now Leo's gonna lecture me, too? When does Leo need an excuse to lecture someone? "Even for a scouting trip, you should have at least told someone where you were going."

"Yeah. Whatever that alarm thingy was on the shell cells gave me a heart attack. You could've left a note for something a little more conventional."

I can't help but smile at Mikey while answering his statement. "At least it worked. I was hoping to be able to be home before anyone realized I was gone. I only had that backup alarm just in case I got caught."

"So you waited until the last second to call us! Shell Donnie, you can be such an idiot sometimes!"

"Actually, Raph, I called you a good fifteen minutes before you got there."

"I don't care if you called us two hours before that! You still shouldn't have gone by yourself!" Somehow I knew Raph was going to be upset by this. I wish he'd stop yelling now, he's starting to give me a headache. I can't even rub my temples to try and alleviate the pain.

"Raphael, lower your voice." It's a good thing that Master Splinter has my shell. Hopefully now Raph won't chew me out anymore. "Donatello." I guess its Master Splinter's turn to talk to me about this. "I am glad that you least had a way to contact us in case of an emergency. However, you shouldn't have gone alone like that. With your disability in communication, you're lucky that you weren't forced into a situation where you had to communicate with anyone."

Should I tell about my confrontation with Karai back in the lab? Or should I keep that entire episode to myself? I can't imagine Raph would like the fact that Saka almost caught me again. I'll keep this to myself for now, better to be safe than sorry, and avoid another earful. "Yes, I was very lucky. Everyone I ran into was more interested in fighting with me than talking to me." I can't help but catch the frown that passes over Leo's face. He knows I'm not telling them something, and judging by the look on Master Splinter's face he's suspicious too.

"So you got into a fight with everyone you ran into! Shell, that's almost as stupid as going out by yourself! And here I thought that by then you remembered everything about yourself! Obviously you didn't remember any of your training!" Raph has his arms thrown up in the air and has a look of utter exasperation etched upon his face. I think I've really worked on his last nerve.

"I didn't get into a fight with everyone, Raph. I only fought the battles that I had to in order to get out of there." I keep my voice level and calm like I usually do when Raph is throwing a temper tantrum. All he's trying to do is blow off some pent up frustration without punching anything. If yelling at me for this will help, then fine. He can yell away.

"Hey! If this is going to be ask Donnie twenty questions I want to know what was the first thing you remembered!" Okay, Mikey, that was about as subtle as a bomb going off. I never did understand how Mikey could completely redirect the conversation and not piss anyone off. Maybe because his questions confuse everyone for a few seconds, but never piss anyone off.

"Yeah, what was the first thing you remember anyways?" And somehow when Casey's in the room with him, Mikey's conversation redirection seems to flow into the general conversation without a single hitch. Sometimes I wonder if Casey's a better friend for Raph or Mikey. Well, Casey's a good friend for all of us, even if he complains I talk circles around him.

I look down at the blanket still covering my legs and think for a moment. What was the first thing I thought of? I don't think I'll mention the fact that I threw up. "That I had to go home." I shrug. I'm pretty sure that was one of the first things I thought of. "That was pretty much my entire focus until I ran into you guys."

"That reminds me," April said, looking thoughtfully towards Casey. "Why did you run from Casey in the first place? And later when you ran from Leo, Mikey and Raph?"

"One of the first things that Master Splinter taught us was never to let a human see us. When I was standing in the apartment, just after I'd first seen Casey, that's when I remembered that and I ran from him. I probably wouldn't have run from Leo, but Casey showed up and since I was associating him as a Foot ninja-"

"Whoa! Hold on a second, you thought I was a Foot ninja?"

I can't help but sigh. I just knew that I was going to have to explain everything to them. I really need to learn how to keep my mouth shut. "You have to remember what I been through up until then, Casey. The only other people who it seen me and were able to follow me over the rooftops were Foot ninjas. I figured you were one of them, just not in uniform." Now that that little side conversation has been dealt with, it's time to get back to the original conversation. "That's the whole reason I ran from Leo. If Casey hadn't have shown up, I probably would have gone with him."

"So now am I going to get blamed for everything?" Casey folds his arms over his chest and looks away. "Figures…" Oh great, now I've hurt his feelings.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes, and that takes quite a bit of effort. "I'm not blaming you, Casey. I'm the one who couldn't remember who you were."

"It's not like you had any choice." I turn away from the sulking Casey to look at Leo. "The drugs were confusing you to a point that I'm surprised that you didn't freak the moment you saw me."

I'm not telling them about freaking when I saw my reflection. I've had enough humiliation for the past few days. "I was more freaked about how you seemed to appear out of the shadows. How long had you been following me before I noticed you?"

He's amused. I'd know that smirk anywhere. "About six minutes."

"Anyways," I continue, shaking my head slightly at my own folly. At least I had the drugs to blame. Otherwise I know Leo would be getting after me for extra practice. "Since Leo didn't react negatively to Casey showing up I assumed he was working with the Foot, too. That's why I ran from them and from Mikey, because he also jumped into the chase."

"And then you jumped off a building and nearly killed yourself!"

"Please Mikey, don't remind me." It definitely wasn't the smartest thing I had ever done. "I realized that was a stupid idea after I jumped off the building. Not that there was anything I could have done to stop in mid fall."

"Leo almost went after you." What? He could have been killed! Well…I was almost killed but still. I gape at Casey for a moment before Leo speaks up in his own defense.

"If I wasn't just a step off and a few seconds sooner, then I would have gone after you." And ended up splattered all over the asphalt, which is what I nearly was. Either that or he would have caught me and swung the two of us through an apartment window and into someone's living room. That would have just added to the problem.

"Initially you didn't run from me. Was that 'cause Casey wasn't there?"

What did I think when I first saw Raph, other then the fact that he was huge and had to have been lifting weights since he was eight. Actually, I think he started when he was nine or ten. I can't remember. Oh yeah, "You were safe. That's why I didn't run away from you to being with. I would have stayed with you if the Foot hadn't shown up. "

"So you ran from Raph because the Foot showed up and not because you thought he was going to take you back to the lab." I nod at April's statement. There's really no sense in repeating myself. "But why would you think of him as safe?"

"Because Raphael was always there for Donatello, especially when they were infants." Sensei? He's has that weird look that he only gets when he's proud of us. He glances first at me, then Raph, then Mikey and Leo. "The day I first found the four of you I noticed that Raphael always seemed to protect Donatello from Michelangelo and Leonardo just as much as Leonardo seemed to protect Michelangelo from Raphael and Donatello. Both Raphael and Leonardo kept themselves between their younger charges as if they were shielding them from the other two. As you four have grown, Raphael and Leonardo still have that inherent ability to protect Donatello and Michelangelo, respectively. I do not know why you two," Master Splinter pointedly looks at both Leo and Raph before continuing. "Have always protected one of your younger brothers more then the other, but it obviously has left a noticeable impact in Donatello's psyche." He turns to April, "That is why Donatello thought of Raphael as 'safe', Miss O'Neil, because Raphael has always brought safety and security to Donatello even if he doesn't believe he needs it."

Ooo-kay, now that was a little awkward. Master Splinter is right, though. Typically when I get knocked down or hurt in a fight, Raph's right there to help me back up or lay the smack down on whoever tried to take me out. Same thing with Leo and Mikey. Yeah, any of us will step up to bat to take a hit for one of our brothers, but both Leo and Raph seem to be slightly more protective of either Mikey or I. I wonder why? Are we from the same clutch? Did something happen in that pet store that none of us remember that caused Raph and Leo to be more protective of Mikey and I? Maybe it had something to do with the-

I'm rudely brought out of my thoughts as a fist knocks lightly against the side of my head. I blink in confusion for a moment before glaring at Mikey. I don't get a chance to ask him why he decided to do that before he's in my face -leaning over most of the bed and half pushing Leo out of the way as he does it- asking, "So when did you remember me?"

Uh oh. If I don't say this right I could have a repeat of this morning for the next few weeks. An overly attentive Mikey is almost as annoying as a very bored Mikey. Whatever happens I am not bringing up that argument again. "Right after I almost killed myself on your board in my not so gracefully act of sewer boarding."

"Where I found you down near the green line?"

I don't even get a chance to say anything to Leo before Mikey is pointing an accusing finger at me, "I knew it!" He half screams. Oh shell, this is going to be bad. "You were trying to tag the train too!"

Actually, I was trying not to get creamed by it. I don't think I'm going to say that or the fact that I nearly killed myself when I couldn't land right. As it is, Leo looks like he's about to chew me out for leaving the lair in the first place. Great. "I was not trying to touch the train, Mikey. I value the usage of my hands."

"And why did you leave the lair in the first place?"

Sorry guys, I hate lying to you but I don't need the three of you blaming yourself anymore than you already have been and still are. Even though neither of them will ever admit it, Leo and Raph are still blaming themselves for me leaving the lair that night too. I doubt they'll ever admit it to my face, but I don't think there's going to be anymore ganging up on me for a long time to come. "Sewer boarding." Oh, this is going to be so lame sounding. I can tell by the way Raph has lifted his eye ridge at my lame excuse for a lie to his question he doesn't believe me. "I had a generally idea of how to do it and I wanted to try so…yeah, didn't end too well."

Out of the corner of my eye I catch Leo stiffening as if he just remeb- oh shell. And here I thought I was done being lectured. "Don-"

I don't even let him start. "I'm fine, Leo. That's all that matters."

"You could have been killed!" That caught everyone's attention.

"I could have been killed long before that, Leo!" Am I actually getting into a yelling match with Leo?

"Not as close as I bet you were then!" Yup, we're in a yelling match now.

"I had a good six point two second window!"

He rolls his eyes in aggravation before continuing, "Before or after it went through?!"

"After! Why do you think I was sprawled all over the ground on the other side of the tracks and not smeared across them?" Oh I so shouldn't have said that. Now everyone's going to be on my shell.

"You almost got whacked by the three thirty train?!" And so it begins. Thanks, Casey. I owe you one.

"Don! I don't know how many times I've told you this, but if you're going to tag any trains go for the orange train at eight. It's slower and you can build up more speed and height coming in from the east."

"Don't encourage him, Mikey!" Raph snaps.

"And when the shell did you start tagging trains!" At least Leo's off my shell now. I would feel sorry for Mikey, but I told him not to let Leo find out he kept tagging trains after he broke his arm trying for one. "I thought you said you would never do that again!"

"Oh, lay off, Leo." Oh no, now Raph's going to get into an argument with Leo over this? Why does this not surprise me? "At least he's learned enough not to go for the high speed trains now."

"What?" Oh great, and I'm stuck between the two of them as they argue. Why did I have to be strapped down again? Yes, April, I agree with you. If I could palm my face too, I would be. "Are you going to admit to tagging trains too?!"

"BOYS!!!" That shuts them up. Mikey looks like he was about to say something, but shuts his mouth as Master Splinter gazes at each of us. "That is enough. Arguing about what has happened in the past only tends to disrupt the present and the future. However, if I hear anything else about 'tagging trains'," I really want to snicker at the look he's giving Mikey right now, but I know he'll only glare at me. The fact that Mikey is cringing away from him and looking sheepish is just adding to the hilarity of the situation. "A certain turtle's skateboards will go missing and," why's he glaring at me now? I didn't giggle. "If a certain older brother makes him a new one, there will be extra training for both for them and double the chores." Oh, ouch. He's not pulling any punches on the discipline side of things. "Is that understood?"

"Yes, Sensei," all four of us say at the same time. Even though Leo and Raph weren't scolded outright, the threat is still there. Now the only thing to worry about is what other death-defying stunts Mikey's going to come up with to keep himself entertained. Please let it be something semi-sane and not completely insane.

"How do you feel, Don?" After Sensei's verbal lashing, April's voice sounds really quiet. How do I feel? Normal would probably be the best way to describe myself right now. I don't feel any different then I normally do.

"Fine, I guess." I won't mention the fact that my hands and feet fell asleep last night at some point. I can still move them, so that rules out any serious nerve damage. It's just a minor discomfort. Somehow though, I know someone will blow it out of proportion, so I'll just keep my mouth shut. "Why?"

She gives me the gentlest smile as she gets out of the chair and starts to work on the strap while saying, "It's been almost forty minutes. I think it's safe to say you're officially cured."

There's a whoop from Casey, but I currently have a lap full of overjoyed Mikey to deal with. Leo grabs my shoulder in a tight and reassuring grip at the same time Raph pulls me into a half hearted headlock and gives me a noogie that is way gentler than usual. Physically he's not touching me, but I can feel Master Splinter's eyes on me even as I get overly congratulated by my three brothers. Casey and April are hugging each other, and I know as soon as my family gets off me April will give me a hug too. Casey will probably try and give me a noogie, end up hurting me, and then he and Raph will get into a wrestling match that'll end up with something breaking, because that's what always happens when they wrestle.

It was bound to happen eventually. I don't know who did it, but something hit my tender right hand and I can't stifle the gasp in time. Mikey freezes and half jumps off me and Raph has the elbow of my injured arm pulled out off to the side with a look on his face promising ill if anyone so much as tries to touch it. "Are you alright, Don?" Leo asks hurriedly.

Shell, they're going to be so protective of me that I'm going to want to scream. "I'm fine, Leo."

"Your arm is going in a sling." Yes, Raph. I know. I was the one who trained you in first aid, remember? "And there's going to be no rough housing." He glares at Mikey, who smiles back.

Mikey suddenly gasps and whips his head around to look at the clock. "Shell, the lasagna!" he growls before bolting out of the room.

"Mikey made lasagna?" Mikey hates lasagna. I don't know why, but he's the only one in the family that complains when it's for lunch or dinner. Everyone else likes it, even Raph, who has this odd love for vegetable lasagna but hates any other vegetarian dish. Mikey, however, complains about making it, eating it, and cleaning up after it. Is he still trying to suck up to me?

"Yeah, as long as he didn't burn it," Raph says as he secures the sling around my neck. Leo and April have the rest of the restraints off and I won't deny it's a relief to have those straps off. Shell, it feels so good to stretch…

"Lunch's ready!" comes a call from the kitchen. I share a look with everyone in the room, which pretty much asks the question of 'is it ready or over ready?'

Even if he does hate to make it, Mikey's lasagnas kick some serious shell. Everything that shellhead comes up with in the kitchen is amazing. I'll never understand how he can do it and make it look so simple. Well, there are three things he's stopped making on his own but I think that's just because he likes spending quality time with us in the kitchen. Anything involving baking other then dinner rolls he drags me into the kitchen for. He would excel at baking too if he could just get it through his head that precise measurements are the key. If he would just stop throwing random and unmeasured amounts in, then he wouldn't blow up the kitchen every time he tried to bake something.

With Raph in the kitchen, whatever comes out of there is going to have enough hot spices added to it to burn most of the digestive tract for whatever poor soul eats it. I think those dishes are more of a challenge between the two of them on who can eat the most spicy food before they have to get a drink. Those are the nights Leo and I end up in a fight for the apple juice or milk and I can help but notice Sensei only seems to have a little of the spicy dish and a lot of plain white rice. That's probably the safest bet right there.

When Leo is in the kitchen, the night's dish is going to be stir-fry. I think Mikey hates dealing with the exceedingly hot fats. The fact that he's lit up the kitchen more than once trying to use a wok probably is the reason why. I don't know how many times he's tried putting water on flaming oil and has ended up spreading the fire all over the kitchen. And he wonders why I took the time to find and install fire resistant paneling in there.

Now that the meal is done, what do I do? April and Casey had to go back their place. I'm wondering how big of an impact this little episode has had on their lives. Those two give up so much for us. I'm so glad we met them in the first place. Our entire lives would have been so much harder if they hadn't done as much as they have for us. I'll have to make sure I find a way to pay them back for this.

Mikey has herded me out of the kitchen and told me to go rest. Raph told me the same thing before he went to talk to Master Splinter about something. I hope he's okay. He seemed embarrassed about something as we were eating. Normally he throws his two cents into the conversations, but he really didn't seem to be saying much today. He kept glaring at his food as if he was going to yank out his sais and stab it repeatedly. Hopefully, Master Splinter can figure out what's wrong with him.

And Leo is…somewhere. I think I saw him heading to his room after he was done eating. He's probably meditating. I probably should go and lay down, but I'm really not that tired. I'm feeling a little restless right now. I'll just walk around the lair for a few minutes. That should help a little, then I'll try and lay down for a bit.

One thing is for sure, I trashed the lair. It looks like everything been mostly picked up and cleaned up. Someone took the time to pick up all the pieces of the server tower I crushed. I take a moment to rifle around in the cardboard box full of computer components and breathe a sigh of relief. It looks like all I really did was crush the outer casing. Everything seems to be here except for one of the fans. It wouldn't surprise me if I had broke one of those things. I always end up breaking one of those somehow.

The most obvious heavily damaged item is the half pipe. Shell, that's a mess. Someone has completely dismantled what was still standing and everything has been laid out in neat little piles. Did they get any rest after I had fallen asleep to Raph stitching up my arm? I glance over the materials that were salvaged. I should have enough to rebuild the half pipe, but I'm going to look into getting a higher-grade bolt for the supports. It looks like some of them were shorn completely off. That's what made the half pipe fall apart like that. Instead of getting them second hand I think I'm going to special order them from an industrial firm this time.

I stop looking over the rubble and turn towards the stairs. I'm going to have to redesign a good section of that framing so that there's a secondary support system to prevent a total collapse like that from happening again. I really should have fixed that thing over a year ago. Why did I have to keep putting it off? I sigh, already knowing the answer. That was the least of my worries almost a year ago. I had much more pressing matters to worry about then.

I stop and look over at dojo doors before I head up the stairs. I'm so glad the fight never led in here. That would've just been a massive accident waiting to happen. What would my brothers have done if I'd managed to get in here? I step through the doors and look around the room at all the different weapon racks. Even though we've been trained never to take a life, Master Splinter has taken the time to teach us how to. Depending on the skill of the wielder anything can become a deadly weapon. From bos to swords and even flowerpots and dining room chairs, everything can be deadly in its own right.

Speaking of deadly, that stupid naginata is leaning innocently against the wall. I glare at it, despite the fact that it is an inanimate object and completely immune to my anger. I really can't blame it for trying to kill Mikey, that was the programming Saka installed in me, but…it was the weapon I nearly killed him with. If April hadn't fired that dart when she did… I sigh as I grab the smooth black pole and remove it from the wall. Sensei told me no practicing, but I need to remind myself that I am not a killer, that this is just another weapon to learn how to use, that I control who it kills and not the other way around.

I take a step away from the wall and I'm in mid turn when I hear someone clearing their throat. Busted. Oh boy, why did it have to be him? I wish I could pull off Mikey's puppy eyes as Leo marches against the mats to where I standing. "You're supposed to be resting, Don. Not messing around in here." He comes to stand next to me, regarding the bladed staff in my hands.

"I know. I'm just not that tired, Leo." As long as I know what I'm supposed to be doing, Leo won't lecture me too bad. "I was just strapped down to a bed for the past seventeen hours. I'm not exactly in a rush to get back into one." There, that should take the lecture right out of him.

"You could try and lay down on the couch for a bit." I am not sleeping on that couch for a long time to come. I doubt I'll even be able to sit on it for a while. I give Leo a less than happy glare out of the corer of my eyes as I flip the naginata up to rest on my shoulder.

"What was it with you guys and always laying me down on that anyways? I designed the medical facility in my lab for a reason, and I had a perfectly good bed up stairs."

He smiles at me as he reaches out to take the weapon balancing on my shoulder. Without pausing, I turn it over to him. He takes a few steps back and holds the weapon out as he looks down the staff and onto the blade, admiring the craftsmanship. "Everyone could keep an eye on you there. We weren't constantly hovering around the lab on your room. You can see the couch from almost anywhere in the lair." He tosses the weapon up to catch it higher up on the pole and flips it around hand once before catching it and frowning. "When did you learn to use one of these, anyways? I don't think I've ever seen you use a naginata before."

"I never have. They're longer and heavier then most of the tridents and spears I've used before, but they follow the same general combat style."

He looks at the weapon in his hand before looking at me. "You taught yourself how to use it?"

I can help but smile at him. "You and Raph are not the only one who do extra training, Leo." Well that has him looking dumbfounded. Does he really think that the only thing I do in my lab is experiments, repairing, upgrading and inventing? "I've worked on a large combination of styles in my free time."

"When? I almost never see you in the dojo except during mandatory practices. Are you training in your lab? Or in your room?"

Why do I have a feeling I'm about to be scolded for something? "In the lab. My room lacks in the required floor space to effectively train with any form of bo staff or pole arm." Well, technically I could train in there, but I would end up clearing off the tabletops and knocking down most of the shelves.

"Don…" Yup, he's going to scold me for something. I can tell by the way he seems to frown as he says my name. The scolding tone in his voice as to the ambiance of the lecture I'm about to get. "That floor in there is nothing but concrete. There would be no one there to know if you fell and hurt yourself. Do you train in there when the door's closed?" His eyes are narrowed as he continues. I hate it when he seems to read my mind. "Don, we don't open that door for a reason. What would happen if you hurt yourself and were unconscious? No one would know anything about it until one of us had to come in there to remind you to eat. You could be out for most of the day before anyone found you." He walks past me and rests the naginata back against the wall where it had been before. "That's why we train in here and only in here." He turns to me and crosses his arms. "From now on, if I see the door to your lab closed, I'm going to go in to make sure you're not practicing."

Oh no, I am not going to bow down meekly to Leo's I'm-in-charge-here voice. "There's a reason I close that door, Leo. I don't want to see one of you guys get hurt because someone walked through the door at the wrong time. I don't need anymore experiments blowing up in my face and I don't have the time to replace everything that certain-people-who-will-remain-nameless seem to break whenever they walk past the threshold."

Leo just raises an eyebrow at me like he usually does when I've repeated myself too much. This argument is never going to end, I just know it. "Regardless of Mikey and Raph's bad habits, I'm still going through that door if I see it closed."

I sigh and rub at my eyes. I knew that this was going to happen. "I'll lock it."

"I can pick the lock." I wasn't expecting him to answer that. It was more of a half hearted argument starter then anything. It was more for my personal enjoyment rather than for anything else. Still, if he's going to take the bait…

"I'll install a dead bolt."

"I can slip my katana through the side of the door and cut it."

"I'll barricade it with a four-by-six and a two 'U' brackets."

He just gives me a devilish smirk if I ever saw one. "Then I'll get Raph to break it down as a diversion as I sneak into your lab through the ventilation system." Shell, how am I going to block that? I can't seal off the vents with all the gasses that can possibly be floating around in there at any given time. I could poison myself and everyone else in the lair. I guess this round goes to Leo. "Don," he puts a hand on my shoulder brings me out of my contemplations. "Enough. Just swear that you'll always practice in here from now on and I won't go into your lab if the door's closed, alright?"

A reasonable compromise. I don't plan on extra training for a while now, anyways. With Leo here the whole reason I started extra training is kind of null and void. "Alright, Leo. I swear on my honor not to do any extra training in my lab anymore. I promise. All training will be in the dojo from now on."

He gives me that smile that means he's truly happy with the outcome of an argument before he grips my shoulder and turns me towards the door. "Good. Now, it's time you lay down for a bit. You look tired." I feel tired. I yawn as the two of us head out of the dojo and up the stairs. Is he going to follow me all the way to my room? What a stupid question. Of course he's going to follow me upstairs. He probably won't leave my side until he's sure I'm fast asleep. "Where did you get it anyways?"

"Huh?" I think I missed something just now.

"The naginata. Master Splinter doesn't remember ever seeing it before and neither did Raph or Mikey. Casey and April were at a complete lost to where you found it as well. Did you make it?"

I grace him with a small smile. I'm good at weapon repairs, but I don't think I could ever make a weapon from scratch with the precision that's in that blade. I paid top dollar for it for a reason and I sure as shell got my money's worth with it. "I wish I had been able to make that. I may be able to do minor repairs on the majority of the weapons around here, Leo, but I don't have the blacksmithing skills required to be able to make a high quality blade like the one on that naginata. To make a kiln alone with the ability to reach the required temperatures would take some very extensive research-"

"How do you do it then?" Leo effectively cuts me off and it takes me a moment to figure out what he's talking about. And even then I double check to make sure we're on the same page.

"Fix weapons?" At his nod I continue. "A bo staff has to be replaced if it's broken. Depending on where a nunchaku is broken is how hard it is to repair the weapon. If the chains are broken I have to reattach a new length of chain between the clamps before reattaching it to the handles. If one of the handles is broken, then I have to pry the clamps off the end and install a new handle before re-clamping the clamp. Katanas have to be partially melted down before reformed and cooled down to help seal out any form of impurities. However, doing this often weakens that piece of metal more than the rest of the blade, making it easier to be broken in that same location because of stress. That's why I always tell you not to reuse that particular sword in combat again, the risk of it breaking again is way too high." Have I ever had to repair Raph's sais before? I don't think I have. Out of the four of us, I don't think Raph's even had to replace his weapons once. I think the ones he uses are still the originals. "To date I have yet to repair Raph's sais. I don't think I could match the tapper of the prongs correctly if I did. Most likely I would only end up damaging them more, and would owe Raph a new set."

"So if you didn't make the naginata, where did you get it?"

Persistent, isn't he? But if he wasn't, then I would have thought that this was a rather well done clone of my older brother with the incorrect personality programming installed. "Leo, please, you can find almost anything online nowadays, including finely crafted weaponry from almost every region on earth. Since I was also in control of the finances in household it was easy to purchase the naginata without raising any suspicion."

I don't have to look to know that Leo is giving me that look that says 'I know you did something wrong and I'm getting ready to lecture you on it'. You can tell by the way his eyes ridges seem to draw together little more than necessary in his eyes narrow as he stares at you. I really need to learn how Mikey can do those puppy eyes that completely melt him into a pile of elderly brother loving goo. Those would have really come in handy during this conversation. "And where did you have it delivered? Casey and April never saw it, so how did you get a hold of it?"

I can't help but smile at him and roll my eyes. There are times that Leo can overlook the simplest details. He really needs to learn that not everything is it overly complex problem in need of solving. After all, a complex calculus equation can only be solved if basic Mathematic principles are known. "Technically, I sent it to Casey right after he moved out of his apartment and in with April. I remember him saying that the landowner wasn't going to have someone move in immediately after him. Instead, the new tenant was going to move in about a week after Casey had already left. I calculated so that the naginata arrived at his old apartment after he had moved out and before the new tenant had moved in."

Leo chuckles as we enter my room, and he immediately steers me towards the bed. I knew he was going to do that. "And then you started practicing in your lab instead of the dojo to become proficient in using it." It's not a question so much as a statement, so I'm not even bothering answering that. "There's just one thing I don't understand," he says as he waits by the bed as I crawl into it. He is not going to…oh, that so figures. It would so be like Leo to tuck me into bed. And of course he has to. No, don't smile at me, I'm glaring at you for a reason. I'm really getting sick and tired of all this babying going on. I'm a grown mutant ninja turtle, too. "Why did you feel the need to start training with the naginata? You're perfectly good at using a bo staff. Are you thinking of giving that up?"

I sigh and look towards a wall. Somehow I knew this question would come up one day if anyone ever found that thing. That's why I was keeping it hidden for so long, so I wouldn't have to face this question. I know better than to wait for Leo to drop it. He'll sit there on the edge of the bed for the rest of the night if he has to waiting for the answer. "I-I rather not talk about this, Leo." Yeah right, like that's really going to persuade him to drop the topic.

"Donnie…" Yeah, I knew that wasn't going to work on him. I sigh again and mumble my response under my breath. Maybe that will keep him from- "Don. What's wrong? Speak up so I can hear you."

Leo, you're probably the best big brother I could ever ask for, but right now I really want to tell you where you can shove it. I might as well sit up too so that I know he can hear it this time. "What I said was: I got it to be able to protect Mikey and Raph better."

Leo is frowning at me, like he can't decide if I'm actually being serious or not. I look back at the wall. Now I know what one of my specimens feels like when looking at under a microscope. "Master Splinter forbade you three from fighting while I was gone. Why did you feel you need to protect them?"

I can't help but laugh at him. "And obviously that stopped Raph from fighting." I had so much sarcasm in that sentence that I'm surprised I didn't drown in it. "And even though Mikey won't admit it, I know that some of the bruises he came home with did not come from a child's birthday party." I sigh again and look away from wall at Leo. "You told me I was in charge of their well-being when you left. I was worried that if one of them ever called for back-up, I wouldn't be able to help them with just a bo. I wanted to carry a sword with me too, but that was too bulky and I would have to go and get a sword before I could go help them. I figured a naginata would solve that problem, so I ordered one off-line." Theoretically, a naginata can be defined as a katana tied to the end of a bo staff. It's a crude but effective way of describing it. Uh oh, Leo's giving me that look again…

"Don." Great, here comes another lecture. "When I asked you to keep an eye on their well-being, I didn't mean that you had to go to such an extreme just 'in case' something happened. Both Raph and Mikey are fully trained ninjas that know their limitations. I highly doubt either of them would get in over their heads rough housing with a couple of street thugs."

I knew he was going to say that. It doesn't help that even though I told that to myself I just couldn't believe it. All I could think of was 'what ifs' when they were both out there fighting, and I knew it. Yet I never did anything to stop them. "I know that they can take care of themselves, Leo. I was just worried that the two millionth percent chance that they were going to get in over their heads would happen and I wouldn't be able to fight well enough to help them get out of it. I was worried that I would just get in their way so I thought-"

"Don." Talking in a stern voice usually catches my attention, Leo. I really don't think that the grabbing and give my shoulders a slight shake was needed. "You are not going to sit here and downplay your fighting abilities all day. You are a terrific fighter and a dangerous warrior against your opponents. Just because you dislike violence does not mean that you are weak. If it was my choice I wouldn't fight either, and neither would Mikey or Raph." Well, I doubt Raph would stop fighting if he was given a choice. "We all fight only because we have to not because we want to and none of us would consider you joining in a fight as a handicap. You need to stop doubting your own abilities on the battlefield like this."

"Leo…" I can't look at his eyes any more. There filled with so much determination that it's intimidating to look at them for so long. The covers are a lot more interesting anyways.

Fingers gently press underneath my chin and force me to look back up at Leo's face. He's giving me that purely affectionate look that he gets when I've missed the complete obvious. What did I miss? "Don, remember, it's not the weapon that makes the warrior, it's the warrior that makes the weapon." Oh yeah, Master Splinter told us that when he first started us on weapons training all those years ago. He made us repeat that at the beginning and ending of practice every time we worked with weapons. I can help but smile sheepishly at Leo. That was rather forgetful of me.

He chuckles and pulls me into a hug, letting me rest my chin on his shoulder. He doesn't seem very keen on letting me go anytime soon. I wrap my arms around him and relax. I'm one lucky turtle to have Leo here to cheer me up and tell me how proud he is of me even without words. It's one of those things you can see in his eyes. I don't think I've ever heard him say that out loud, either…

"Come on," he whispers in my ear. "You need to get some rest." Was I really half asleep against his shoulder? If that yawn was any indication, then I'll say yes. Leo lays me back in the bed and waits until I've rolled over on my stomach before draping the blankets over me. Shell, he can be such a mother hen sometimes. And I'm not going to complain too much about that, because it's nice to be taken care of every now and then. I sigh into the pillow as his fingers gently begin to massage the back of my neck and I'm almost asleep when he hesitantly gets off the bed and leaves the room. He doesn't close the door all the way and just as my eyes drift closed I hear him whisper, "Rest easy, Donnie. I'm proud of you."

I fall asleep smiling.


Huh? Wha…

"Are you awake?"

Awake? Well I guess you could consider this awake. I feel more like I'm about to fall asleep again. Man, I'm tired. I shift slightly on the bed and that's when I realize how stiff I am. Exactly how long have I been asleep, anyways? Judging by the soreness in my shoulders and legs, I've been out for while. I feel like I've spent the entire afternoon asleep. Hey, wait a minute. Did I spend most of the afternoon asleep?

"Don. Donatello, it's time to wake up now." While it's really tempting to wake up, April, but I think I'm just going to go back to sleep. You don't have any coffee with you, so I have no interest in waking up right now. I turn my head away from the door and towards where I know the wall is. Hopefully she'll get the hint and go away. "Donnie…I know you're awake." Or she could presently shake my good shoulder gently in an attempt to get me up.

It's really hard to ignore someone when they're shaking you. "April, stop." Just go away already and let me sleep. I try and knock her hand away from my shoulder but that only makes her sigh and shake a little harder trying to coax me into waking up. "I wanna sleep," I mumble half-heartedly into the pillow as she keeps shaking me and calling my name. Fine. Fine. If it will make you stop shaking me I'll at least open my eyes. See, they're open now.

She smiles down at me. "Good evening, sleepy head." Shell, I really did sleep away the afternoon. I hope it's not too late in the evening. I wanted to get some repairs started from my unintended fighting spree today. If I did sleep too late, then I'll be lucky to get a chance to start on some of the initial redesign of the half pipe before someone tells me to go to sleep. "And yes, you did sleep away most of the day, Don." Stop smiling like it's a good thing, April. This is a disaster! "It's nearly eight."

"Eight? As in eight at night?" At least I didn't sleep away the night as well. Maybe with any luck I'll be able to wait till everyone else goes to sleep so I can get some more work done. She stops shaking her head yes as I sit up. Oh, get that stupid grin off you're face April. It's embarrassing to have you look at me like I'm your favorite son. "April…"

She giggles as she looks away from me. "Sorry, I know you hate that, but you're cute when you're half asleep." I can understand calling Mikey cute, but I am not cute. That must have shown on my face, because April busts out laughing at me. I roll my eyes at her, which seems to dash her attempts at composing herself as another round of laughter cuts her off. This is so humiliating…

"Can you stop laughing at me long enough to tell me what's been happening while I was asleep?" I ask in a completely exhausted voice.

My voice must have tipped her off that I was beginning to get annoyed. Either that, or it was the glare I was giving her with half asleep eyes. She snorted but was able to compose herself a moment later. "Sorry, Don," she said, smiling at me as she perches on the edge of the bed. She's still grinning at me, even as she asks seriously, "How do you feel?"

Considering how long I've been asleep, pretty good. I obviously needed to pass out for most of the afternoon and evening. I didn't think I would have been that tired after being strapped down and asleep for eighteen hours, but that really can't be considered a restful sleep. Sure the drugs kept me relaxed but that doesn't mean I actually got any rest. It's hard to relax after nearly killing your family and friends. Even with the help of medicines. "Better. I guess I really did need to sleep."

She nods her head and gets up as I begin to pull the covers off me so I can get out of bed. It's kind of chilly in here. Either that, or I'm running a fever. I hope it's just that the furnace has broken again. A fever could lead to a huge list of complications that I don't even want to think about. "It wouldn't surprise me if you were tired, Don. Being comatose for almost sixteen hours, followed by a sudden strenuous exercise wasn't the best thing for you."

Tell me about it, April. I think I pulled my muscles' muscles. "And on top of the injuries that I had received in battle with the Foot and the ones I received here at home, it's a wonder I didn't lay down sooner." Actually, my injuries are feeling kind of numb. Did they inject me with a painkiller when I was asleep, or something?

She watches me carefully as I get out of bed and stand next to her. I can tell she's watching my movements to make sure that they're consistent and solid. If I passed out right now, she would catch me or at least make sure I land on the bed. I can tell by the way her smile seems to grow that I've passed her generalized health and wellness test. "Well you're looking much better. I thought you were going to fall asleep in your lasagna during lunch."

Speaking of falling asleep, when was the last time she got a good night's sleep? "You look like you could use a nap, too, April." She's always been rather pale in human standards, but her skin seems a shade too light and there are dark circles under eyes. Even her eyes are a little duller then normal. "When was the last time you got a decent rest?"

She gives me a soft smile as she sighs. "Honestly, I don't think I've been seeping well since I found out that you were missing." That means April has had a decent sleep since almost sixteen days ago. That's almost three hundred eighty four hours of little to no rest. "Then we finally found you but you couldn't speak right and had amnesia…" She trails off for a moment before sighing again.

"So you pushed yourself even harder to try and figure out what had happened to me." I finish what she was trying to say as if it was nothing. I should have known that April would've done this to herself. "April, you need to take better care of yourself."

She smiles at me as we both head for the door. "You're starting to sound like Casey."

"Well, Casey's right for a change, April." I can't believe I just said that. Casey being right is almost an oxymoron, emphasis on the moron part. It's not like Casey is a complete idiot, but there are times when I worry about his mental stability. "Regardless of what happened to me, you shouldn't have forced yourself to keep going like that. You could have seriously hurt yourself."

She stops dead in her tracks and gives me a look that I know means I've over stepped my bounds. April's mad at me. "Don, you're my friend. One of the best friends I could ever hope to have. If you go missing and show up again hurt, I'm going to do everything I can to help you get better again. It's what you would have done for me in the past and I'm going to return the favor every chance I get. That's what I told Casey and your brothers." She points at me and jabs her finger against my plastron. "So don't forget it."

Okay, I can see where she is getting at. However, the emergency is over with, so she should be resting. I fold my arms across my chest and look up at my surrogate sister. It's time to fight fire with fire. "Well, as you can see I'm better now, so why don't you go home and lay down. Or do I have to drug you and let you spend the night on the couch?" She blinks at me as if she doesn't believe that I am serious. "Well? It's your choice. To be drugged or not to be drugged? That is the question."

She started laughing before I could finish my last sentence, but at least I know that she heard my passive threat. After all the times she has threatened to drug me and has drugged me, it's time for some much needed revenge. I have several kinds of sedatives that I make sure to keep on hand just in case, and I'm not afraid to use them on her. "I'm planning on going home after dinner and sleeping until Monday, Don." Well, that will give her seventy-two hours of rest, but she still shouldn't have pushed it like that. She starts towards the stairs again as she talks. "I don't need the drugs, but thank you for the offer."

Come to think of it, I don't think I have ever thanked April for all the times she has drugged me. Usually I woke up thirsty with a headache and grumbling about interfering humans. The last thing on my mind was thanking her for making sure I didn't collapse from exhaustion. "Hey, April." I should thank her for what she's done in the past two weeks. I don't know if my brothers would have been able to get by without her. She looks at me expectantly and suddenly I can't help but feel nervous. "Thanks…y'know…for everything." Wow, Don, way to put it elegantly. Shell, that had to have sounded so stupid.

She stops walking and gives me a hug. "Don't mention it, Don. You may not be my little brother, but you and the others are as close as family to me." She leans back away from me, holding me at a distance as she smiles at me. "If I could I would move the earth to help you guys any day."

Oh, this is just to good a set up to ignore. "April, the earth easily outweighs you and myself by several trillion pounds. I highly doubt you would be able to move it in the event that we needed help with it." She let's go of my arms only to lightly smack me upside the head. I figured that was going to be what she would do. Since she's still smiling at me, I know I didn't actually offend her. Thankfully, she's use to my literal sense of humor just as much as my family is.

"Stop being such a wise turtle," she says as we start down the stairs again. The main room is strangely quiet and devoid of life. The lair is never this quiet unless something has happened or Master Splinter has called us together for some training. Since it's almost dinner I know he called them into the dojo for training. I hope nothing bad has happened while I was asleep...

"Casey?" April must have noticed the lack of chaos, too. Casey sits up from where he was lounging on the couch watching the television so he can look at the two of us approaching. "Where is everyone?" She gestures to the otherwise empty room around us. "They were just here before I went to wake up Don."

"Splinter wanted to talk to them about something. He said that they would be out in a second. Mikey asked me to tell you that dinner was going to need checking when you came downstairs." He jerks his head at me while saying, "Yo Don. How are you feeling?"

"Take a seat and relax for a bit, Don. I'll be back once I'm done checking the oven."

I flop down in the recliner and lean back, letting the footrest come up. I love this old recliner even more than Master Splinter does, I think. Originally, the four of us had gotten this recliner out of the junkyard and cleaned it up for Sensei for his birthday a few years back. After Leo left for South America, I noticed that he rarely chose to sit in the recliner. I wonder if maybe that's because the chair reminded him of Leo that much that he didn't want to sit in it anymore. It might have something to do with this spring that's trying to stab me in the arm. Why the shell is it poking out of the chair like that? I guess I could try to push it back in...

"Umm...Don? What are you doing to the recliner?"

I guess this does have to look weird. It's not like I'm kneeling on the seat, facing the left arm and pushing of the chair with all of my weight. Nah, that can't look weird at all. "I'm just trying to figure out what's up with the spring in the arm of the recliner." Wait a second? There aren't any springs in the arm of a recliner. What the shell could be poking up through the arm of the recliner?

"Okay, Don. That's enough." Casey, let go of my shell. "Come on. There's no way I going to let you flip over the recliner while you're supposed to be resting. Leave it alone. Come on and sit on the couch with me." You're more annoying then Mikey is, Casey. He pushes me back on the couch and gestures towards the television. "Now just sit back and watch Godzilla eat Tokyo again."

"He's not eating the city, Casey. He's destroying it." I've seen Godzilla vs. Mothra about a million times. It's one of Mikey's favorite monster movies. Actually...now that I think about it, I think that this is the only one of Mikey's favorite movies that he doesn't have on DVD. Hmm...I think I might have just figured out what to get Mikey for his birthday. I'll have to check and make sure that no one else is planning on buying that for hi- OW! I rub at my head and glare at Casey, who is putting the pillow he used to smack me in the side of the head back against the arm of the couch.

"You're thinking too hard. I can hear you grinding the gears all the way over here. Just chill out and relax for a couple hours."

"I've been resting for most of the day, Casey. I'm really not in the mood to rest anytime soon."

"Yeah, well sorry." Hey, don't point your finger at me like that. I haven't done anything to piss you off. Usually when Casey's mad, he has a habit of either breaking everything around him or he points at you. "But I promised Raph that I would make sure you took it easy when he wasn't around." Oh great, Casey always does what he has promised, especially to April and Raph. "So chill."

Speaking of promises, I wonder if he kept his promise to me, especially if Raph killed someone trying to find me. How am I going to word that question and not sound like I'm going to condemn him if he didn't? "Hey Casey." I guess the easiest way to do this is to just say it and hope that he knows that I'm not mad at him. "Did you keep an eye on Raph for me while I was...under the weather?"

He looks at me and frowns as if he can't remember what I'm talking about. After a moment of staring at me, he looks back at the screen with a sigh. Was that a good sigh or a bad sigh? "I'm not you, Don," he says after another moment of sitting there in silence. "I really couldn't get him to unwind and talk the way you can get him to. It's like he can just be around you and he spills his guts about everything. I tried that and we would just stand around in silence forever. I don't know how you can get him to unwind, but it only seems to be you who can do it." I open my mouth to try and say something, only to be cut off by Casey again. "I tried to be there for him like I promised, Don, but I couldn't figure out how you do it."

How do I do it? It's not like I'm actively trying to get Raph to talk. He'll talk about something when he's ready to talk. Maybe that's how I do it? Instead of trying to get Raph to talk, I just wait for him to talk. I go about my own business while he putters around the lab and wait for him to start talking. I really don't pay any attention to him until he starts to say something. That's got to be it. "The key is to keep doing what you're doing until he feels relaxed enough to talk you. Then you listen to what he has to say." I shrug as I watch Godzilla roar at a giant moth floating above the Tokyo skyline. "There's really no secret to get Raph to talk. You just have to wait for him to be ready. If you try to make him talk to you, he'll just get all stand offish and refuse to talk at all."

Casey snorts as he watches the screen too. "I still think it's only you who can get Raph to talk like that." I shake my head, but I don't bother saying anything else. There's really no need to. No matter what I would say, Casey would just come up with another way on how it is I am the only one who can get Raph to talk about what he's thinking. It's not like it's rocket science or anything. "Even if I couldn't get him to talk at all, Don, I was still there for him when he needed it."

"Thanks, Casey. I owe you one." He waves his hand at me lazily. I don't see the need to brush off the thanks Casey, but if you insist...I'll just have to make sure and up grade his bike when he's not looking.

"I'm back," April says as she sits in the recliner. She frowns and glares down at the arm of the recliner. Good, I'm not the only one to have noticed something poking up through the arm of the recliner. "What's with the recliner?"

"Don all but flipped that thing over to find out what it was, April. Don't worry about it now. We're supposed to be taking it easy. Y'know, the emergency's done with, time to kick back and party. What is with the two of you and trying to fix everything?" It's nice to know I'm not the only one to get yanked around by my shell. Well, April really doesn't have a shell, but her tee shirt works just as well obviously. Casey pushes her down on the couch next to me and goes back to his spot on the couch to watch the movie. "When's the food supposed to be ready, anyways?"

April rolls her eyes and snuggles down on the couch between us. She pulls the afghan off the back of the couch and throws it over our laps. "It's sitting on the counter cooling off right now. It should be cool enough to cut and eat in the next couple of minutes." She yawns as she rests her head against Casey's shoulder, while curling her feet up next to my thigh. April's got a good idea. I lift my feet up and tuck them under the blankets as I lean back into the arm of the couch. I find myself muffling my yawn as Godzilla tries to set Mothra on fire...

"Hey, Donnie?" I jerk awake to find myself alone on the couch and with Mikey kneeling in front of me. "Morning - I mean evening, Donnie. I really didn't want to wake you up, but you should eat something before you go to bed." He presses a plate laden with pizza into my hand before sitting next to me on the couch. "There's a Sprite on the table for you. Now eat."

Bossy, isn't he? I yawn as I pick up the pizza and began indulging in it. The rest of the lair is all-quiet, except for an episode of M.A.S.H. playing on the television. "Where is everyone?" I ask as I reach for my soda after the first two slices have been eaten.

"April fell asleep on Casey, so he took her home. Raph and Leo went with them just in case anything happened. Sensei is meditating, and I'm making sure you eat something before you're going back to bed." Good, at least now April can get some rest. I really don't feel like going back to bed, but judging by the look on Mikey's face I don't think I'm going to have much of a choice in the matter.

Eight pieces of pizza and one soda later Mikey has obviously decided that I don't need to finish watching the rest of the episode. I've barely finished swallowing the last of the crust when Mikey is suddenly in front of me, blocking the view of the television and pulling the empty plate out of my hand. "Time for bed!" he says, giving me a smile that sets off every mental alarm bell that I have. What is he planning?


"Michelangelo! Put me down right now!"

"Stop struggling, Don, and just relax. I promise I wouldn't drop you, but if you keep kicking like that I am going to." I do not like being picked up, Mikey, and you know it. I glare at him. I know better than to complain about this or show my annoyance in anyway. If Mikey knew how much I hated being picked up, he would do it every chance he got just to annoy me. "See, now is this so difficult?" He carries me over to the bed and sets me on the edge of it before pushing me over and rearranging the blankets over me. "Comfy?" I raise an eye ridge at him. "Good!" He beams down at me happily. "Now do you need me to read you a bedtime story or anything?"

I hope he's not going to baby me forever. This is really starting to get annoying. "I'm fine, Mikey." I really didn't have to fake that yawn, but at least it will help to add to the effect. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Sure thing, dude." He turns and starts out of the room, only to pause at the doorway. "Hey, Don?" I mumble into the pillow below me so he'll continue. I really would just like him to stop all together and let me go to sleep. "If you need anything, just holler."

Okay, that does it. I refuse to have Mikey wait on me hand and foot for the next couple of weeks. "Mikey?"

"Yeah, Don? You need something?"

"Mikey, please, you don't have to keep doing this. I'm fine, you really don't have to worry about me anymore." I can see his shoulders sag as he stands in the doorway. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings. I had better make amends just in case I did. "But if I need anything, I promise I'll call." I can see his shoulders lift back up. Good, even if I did upset him by saying that, he's back to normal now. I know he's going to keep babying me, but hopefully now it isn't going to be that bad anymore.

"Night, Don," I hear from the doorway, followed by the gentle click of the latch closing.

"Night, Mikey," I say it loud enough that he could hear it through the door before I force myself to relax onto the bed. I'm surprised at how little it takes for me to fall asleep. You would think after all the sleeping I've done in the past thirty-eight hours that I wouldn't fall asleep the minute my head hit the pillow.

Steel rank and steel as Raph blocked the swing of my sword with one of his sais. I spun out of block, kicking him in the back of the shell to knock him off balance for a moment. Midway through the spin, I ducked low to avoid a nunchaku and punched Mikey as I came back up from the other side of the nunchaku. I didn't pause to see how much damage I had done as I continued to spin back towards Raphael shell. I bring up the sword, angling at the back of his neck, and move my arm faster than my body building up enough momentum to make one clean-cut. Without any conscious thought, without a pause, I slice through the back of his neck, easily decapitating him.

Warmth splashes against my arm, shoulder, and catches me a little bit on my cheek. The metallic smell of the blood doesn't even seem to faze me as I finally stopped the spin and stand over the fallen body. Behind me, Mikey screams. I… I… I just killed Raph and I'm not even fazed by it. What's going on? What's happening to me? Am I under the effects of the drug again? I turn almost too slowly to be natural and look at Mikey. His terrified eyes meet mine as he finally drags him away from Raph. I slowly bring the katana up, angling towards him as I slide into a classic offense stance. Oh no, not Mikey too…

Mikey holds his hands up as if that's all he needs to ward me off and slowly starts to back away from me. "D-Donnie? Donnie, snap out of it. Come on, Don. This isn't funny anymore!" I suddenly lunge forward, bringing the sword around and taking a quick slice at him. He's barely able to dodge it and the sharpened sword easily slices through the tails of his mask. "Donnie!!!"

I gasp as my eyes fly open and I find myself staring at the wall of my bedroom. How do I get into my bedroom? What happened? Is Mikey are right? Raph…oh shell…oh shell, Raphie… I slowly sit up and blink numbly out across my room. I killed him. I killed my older brother. I-I killed…no, it was a nightmare. It was just a nightmare. It-it had to be a nightmare. Please, let it be a nightmare! Why are these sheets tangled around my leg so much? Was I struggling that bad in my dreams?

The blankets have barely hit the floor before I'm running out of the room. I hope that that was all just a dream. A really, really bad dream. I pause outside Mikey's door; I wonder if he's okay. Carefully, I turn the knob and peek my head around the door and into the room beyond. Everything seems to be in a total state of disarray as usual. If this room were ever clean and orderly, then I would worry about him. Mikey's on the bed, one leg is jutting out from underneath the blankets and hanging over the edge of the bed. His snores are muffled by the pillow that his face is crammed deeply into. With an extra loud snore, Mikey rolls over onto his shell and mumbles about something involving a videogame. At least I think it was a videogame, I'm pretty sure that's where I've heard him talking about Ratchet and Clank before.

Mikey seems to be alright. I close the door quietly and begin to walk towards Raph's. Please let him be okay. Please let that have been nothing more than a bad dream. I bite my lip nervously as my hand closes around the handle to his door. Come on, Donnie, open the door. You never know if he's alright if you don't open the door. I take a deep breath to help calm my nerves a little more before quickly opening the door and sticking my head inside before I loose the nerve to face the truth. Well hopefully it's not the truth…

The first thing I notice is that there are no teeth-rattling snores echoing through the room. That's not a good sign. Raphael is lying on his shell in his hammock with most of the blankets on the floor rather than on top of him. He seems peaceful enough. I open the door all the way, why isn't he snoring? Wait a minute…his chest isn't moving…oh, shell… Shell! He's not breathing!!!

I'm moving even as my mind is going over every possible scenario to help him. Depending on how long he's been…gone, there may be nothing I can do. Please let this have been recently -not at all would be preferable-but it happened in the past ten seconds, I should be able to do something. I don't even think I have the upper body strength to be able to perform CPR on him. Still, I'm at least going to have to try. I should be able to call for help and get Leo or Mikey in here. They both have the strength to push down his chest. I should've spent more time in the gym and less in my lab. I should've-

I'm grabbing at his shoulders, when I feel him jerk under my fingers and lets out a surprised grunt. I really don't get chance to be thankful that he's still alive. One of his hands grabs my left wrist and bends it backwards at weird and painful angle. I let out a hiss and that only seems to tell him where my throat is. His other hand grabs my throat and squeezes hard, choking off anything else I could possibly say to get him to let go. Well this is a fine mess I've landed myself into. I know better than to struggle against Raph, he's way better at grappling that I am. Besides my struggling would only make him think that I really was here to attack him. I grabbed his wrist that has its hand wrapped around my throat with my right hand and pull backwards gently. Come on, you've got to say something. "R-Raphie…"

"Donnie?" His voice is muffled the sleep and I can practically hear the gears in his head begin to click together as he realizes what's going on. He lets go of me immediately and I can't help but step back and rub my sore wrist and neck. Shell, I'd forgotten how hard Raph can grab ahold of something, even when he is half asleep. I could just barely make out him sitting up in his hammock. I bet he is glaring at me for being so stupid as to half jump on him in the middle of the night. I can't believe I thought he was actually dead. "Jeez Don, what the shell were you thinking? I could've hurt you!"

I can already hear the self-blame in his voice, and he didn't even hurt me. If anyone here is to blame, it's me for being so stupid as to think that my completely healthy brother randomly passes away in the middle of the night. "Raphie, don't blame yourself. I should know better than to sneak up and startle a sleeping ninja."

"You wouldn't be saying that if I had caved in the side of your head!" The weak light spilling in from the doorway allows me to see him turn his head toward the clock. "What the shell," he mumbles as he looks back at me. "It's barely three in the morning, Don. Why did you wake me up?"

Okay, now I really do feel completely stupid. I woke him up for no reason and now he is probably more than a little angry at me for interrupting his rest. Great. "It's-it's nothing Raph. I'm sorry to have woken you. Goodnight." I vacate the room before he has a chance to say anything else, closing the door behind me with a soft click. I walked back to my room rubbing at my temples. I guess that nightmare did just a little bit more than freak me out. It terrified me into thinking that Raph was dead.

I close my door behind me and scrub at my tired eyes as I walk over to the bed. I need to get some sleep. Maybe I should go to the medicine cabinet and get some sleeping pills to keep me out for the rest of tonight. No, I shouldn't need to take those. It was just a nightmare. Nothing more and nothing less. Man, did I screw up my sheets or what? They're all rolled up in a ball at the foot of the bed except one corner, which is partially lying on the floor. I guess before I can go to sleep I need to straighten out a few things.

I'm just finishing remaking my bed when I hear the door open and close behind me. I guess it was just a high hope that Raph would go back to bed. "Don, I know you're not okay so don't try and hide it. Now what's wrong?"

I don't turn around as I smoothed out the rest of the blankets. "Nothing's wrong. Just go back to bed, Raph." I said that a little too fast to be taken seriously and my voice seriously cracked when I said that.

I hear Raph sigh behind me before he takes my elbow and forces me to turn towards him. "Don, only Mikey would half jump on me like that in the middle of the night. You would always say my name before walking into the room so I know something bad happened." In the faint light of one of my monitors, I watch as he jerks his head towards my bed. "And since your bed is all torn up and you're trembling like crazy." I'm not trembling. I'm just cold. It's chilly in here. "I know you had a nightmare. Do you want to tell me about it?"

I don't even want to think about it right now. I look away from him and over at the far side of the room. How can I say 'I had a dream where I killed you' and not break down completely? If I hadn't been able to tilt that sword then I would've killed him. Even if I hadn't decapitated him, I still would've sliced through the spinal column. He would've been paralyzed at best, dead at worse. I almost killed him. I-

"Hey. Hey, it's okay. Don't cry, Don. It's all right." No, it's not all right. And I'm not crying. I'm just…I'm just...okay, I'm crying. No use denying it after that sob. Raph wraps his arms around me and lets me bury my face in the crook of his neck. "It's all right Donnie…its okay." I feel his arms move, and then a blanket is draped over my shoulders. He actually brought that fuzzy blue blanket with him? Shell, I love this blanket. He goes back to holding me just as tight as he did before and continues to whisper comforting words into my ear as I literally bawl my eyes out into his shoulder.

It's taken awhile, but my harsh sobs have finally calmed down to the occasional hiccup every now and then. I'm tired enough by what has happened in the past twenty-four hours, but now I'm emotionally exhausted as well. Good thing Raph has such a tight grip on me, because I think I would have fallen over if he wasn't standing here. I'm leaning with pretty much all my weight into his chest and he's still just holding me, gently rubbing my shell. What is he trying to prove here, anyways? How long he can hold me up? Alright Raph, if you don't lay me now in the next ten minutes, I swear-

He's telepathic. How else could he have known I was wishing him imminent death unless he let me lay down? Of course I could've done without the whole tucking me in and wrapping every blanket on my bed around me, but at least I'm in bed now. Now I can finally get some rest. Well, I'll get some rest, once Raph stops poking me in the side. I shift backwards towards the wall, trying to avoid him and his insistent prodding better. Why is he- oh, I guess I figured out why he was poking me. He could've just asked for me to move over so he could lie down too, but that would've been so un-Raph like.

He lies on his plastron, and throws an arm over my shell. He's holding something in his hand; it just barely brushed against my arm. But even with all the blankets between me and whenever I can tell it's long and tapered at one end. Is that his sai? Why does he have one of those out? I bet his other one is in his other hand that he just tucked under the pillow. He better not accidentally stab me in the night. "Don't worry, Donnie," he whispers in my ear. "I always have your back. Even in your dreams."

I can't help but choke back another sob. He maybe protecting me from my dreams, but who's going to protect him? I don't want to close my eyes and see him decapitated every night. Please let my insomnia kick in. I don't want to go to sleep. I don't want to see him die again. His hand moves up and down my shell. I can't feel it but I know he's doing it by the way the blankets shift up and down my sides, legs and arms. "Don. Please, tell me what's wrong, bro."

"I-I…" I'm not going to tell him. He doesn't need to know. He doesn't need to worry anymore bout me. He's done enough. Everyone has done more then enough. I couldn't ask for a better family. I don't deserve them. "I almost killed you." I am such an idiot! I shouldn't have said that. I tried to turn away from him to face the wall but his arm and hand pushes down on my shell, keeping me lying prone next to him.

"But you didn't," he whispers in my ear as he keeps me lying next to him. "You didn't kill me, Don. You didn't kill any of us. Compared to you, none of us were even hurt. Stop blaming yourself for something you had no control over."

"But what if I did, Raphie?" I sniffle into the sheets. I will not cry in front of Raph again. I'm sick and tired of crying. "What if it was possible that I could have overridden the commands somehow? I could've stopped. I should have tried to find it more than watching you guys fight me. All I could think of was how you guys could take me down easier. Everything I did just got someone more hurt or I focused my attacks on them or-"

"Donatello, shut up!" he hisses venomously in my ear. "Just shut up and listen to me! There was nothing you could have done to prevent this. There was no way for you to know you had been programmed. There was no way for you to realize how dangerous of a fighter you were. You tried. You did your best to fight it. Subliminal messaging is impossible to over ride if you are the one with the messages." He cuddles closer to my side and holds me tighter against him. "Most importantly none of us blame you. Please stop blaming yourself. You did what you could." He nuzzles the side of my face slightly. "I don't like seeing you all upset Don. It doesn't suit you especially after how brave you've been."

When the shell have I been brave? I blink the tears out of my eyes and twist my head enough so that I could look up at him better. "Brave?" Shell, I sound like a terrified three year old who just got caught sneaking cookies out of the cookie jar. Is this mortification ever going to end?

I can just barely catch the faint smirk on his lips as he looks down at me. "Yes, brave." He rubs at my shell again as he waits for a moment. Whether it's to decide on what to say next or if he's waiting for me to get what he's talking about, I don't know. Before I can ask him to define what he says he speaks up. "I don't think any of us could have with stood everything you have in the past week. You were lost, confused, and scared out of your shell with no memory to speak of and having a group of mutants and people who you saw as complete strangers take care of you didn't help you much either. Then you were facing the knowledge that you may never be able to speak again and taking on a Foot stronghold on your own, and still you took it all in stride." Somehow I doubt that Raph is going to let me forget about how I stupid I was to take on the Foot like that alone. At least not for a long while to come, anyways. "You attacked us against your will, tried to kill us, and ended up strapped to the bed for eighteen hours, and that still didn't crack you. You took all that in stride as if it was nothing at all. I would call that being brave."

I can't help but scoff at him slightly. "And that's why I needed you to hold me still while April gave me a shot." Yeah, that wasn't my brightest moment ever. Even after it was all over I bolted when I saw a single needle. How can Raph call me brave when I ran from a sealed needle?

"Yet, you were able to give April a blood sample without even blinking later, and I didn't have to hold you. I wasn't even on the same side of town then. After everything you went through, you were brave, Don. I don't care what you could possible say to change my mind. You were brave. End of discussion."

My lips move several times as I try to come up with something to say. Nope, I've got nothing to counter that. "Raphie…thank you…" I want to say so much more than that, but Raph chuckles at me, interrupting what I was trying to say.

"You're welcome." He shifts slightly so that he is resting more comfortably against my side and lays his head on the pillow. "Now get some sleep and don't worry about it. Everything is going to be alright."

I nod my head and rest it on the pillow. My eyes are barely closed for a second before I realize something is wrong. I twist out of Raph's grip despite his protests and reach down towards the foot of the bed. I can almost…got it. I pull the extra blanket up and toss it over Raph's shell as I lay back down. He chuckles at me as I spread it over him and return to where I had been. He shakes his head as I cuddle back against his side. "Thanks, brainiac. Now get some rest."

"You're welcome," I mumble into the fabric as I let my eyes close.

Fabric shifts and the bed dips slightly as Raph rolls over. I wouldn't have noticed that except he sits up on the edge of the bed and a moment later his weight leaves all together. I frown behind closed eyelids. Where the shell is he going? It's still the middle of the night. "Raphie?" How the shell is he supposed to hear that? That could have barely been classified as a mumble for how quiet it was. It was more like a murmur almost completely smothered out by the pillow.

"It's alright, Don." I guess he heard me just fine. His hand lightly strokes down the back of my head and neck. "Go back to sleep."

"Where are you going?" I ask as I shift around on the bed better to get into a comfortable position again. I think he put my arm to sleep. It's numb.

He silent for almost an entire minute before answering, "To the turtles' room. I'll be back in a bit. Just go back to sleep." I barely remember mumbling okay and hearing him chuckle at me before darkness takes over again and I fall back into a dreamless sleep.


The bed dips again as Raph perches back on the edge of it. I guess he's back from the little turtle's room already. That was fast. He sits something down on the bedside table I have and then just sits there, watching me sleep. Well, I'm more like half asleep now. It's very disconcerting having people watch you when you are sleeping. It's board line being very creepy. Fingers gently caress the side of my face. Why hasn't he just laid back down and gone to sleep yet? "Raphie?"

"Guess again," a gentle voice echoes from above me. Leo? Why is Leo here? I open my eyes and blink several times so that I could see better. The faint light coming from my door and the lights from the computers across the room are almost too bright for me to see well. Even with my inability to see because of the glare, that is definitely Leonardo sitting on the edge of my bed. "Good morning."

I yawn as I shift to sit up. Man, am I sore. I feel like I slept like a log. At least I'm not stiff enough to not sit up. I rub my eyes before looking at Leo, who is smiling at my semi-awareness. If he says anything about me being cute, I swear I'm going to smack him one. "Leo, what are you doing here? It's the middle of the night."

"Not quite. You might want to look at the clock again." Why? What's so important about the- Wow. It's going on eleven. I should have been up five hours ago. "It's okay, Don. None one was expecting you to be up." But how did Raphie sneak out of the room- oh, when he was going to the bathroom. He might have been going to the bathroom, but after that I bet he went into the dojo for practice. He told me that he was going there just so I would go back to sleep and not try to go to practice. I guess I should be annoyed, but I still feel like I could sleep for another six hours. Am I ever going to not feel like falling asleep anytime soon? "Here," Leo says picking up a large mug he set on the table earlier. "I brought you a little pick-me-up."

Coffee? Leo brought me a cup of coffee? Mikey might occasionally bring me a coffee in bed, but Leo? I think someone has kidnapped my older brother and sent a clone copy to take his place. If this were the real Leo, he would have brought me a cup of tea and some toast. I doubt he would have even let me sit up. "Alright, who are you and where is Leo?"

He smiles at me as he sees the humor behind my words. "I figured that you would prefer that over tea. It seemed like you were getting tired of tea all the time, anyways." He then proceeds to chuckle at the face I give him as I show exactly how much I thought of that tea he gave me at every turn the past few days. "I'm sorry, Donnie," he says after a moment of laughter. "I know how much you hate tea, but every time you drank it you seemed calmer."

"Didn't that have something to do with the chamomile and various other herbal drugs that were added to it?" I raise an eye ridge at him while I say this. I'm never going to be able to drink tea again without thinking that there is some form of relaxant or sedative in it. I think I'm scarred for life.

Leo frowns at my statement. "We didn't drug every cup of tea we gave you, Don. You would calm down on your own. I think that there were only four cups that had any form of herbal remedies in it. And there wasn't enough chamomile in any of those cups to knock you out."

So I drank tea and calmed down on my own? Out of everyone in the family, I drink it the least. Mikey and Leo are the tea fanatics. Raph isn't a big fan of the more eastern teas, but something about the English teas he loves. Earl Gray is one of his favorites. In fact, the only time I really drink tea anymore is when I'm sick or for a special occasion, because Master Splinter brings out that ancient teapot and makes a batch for everyone to have four or more cups each. That has to be it. The tea reminded me of Master Splinter and in turn reminded me I was safe. That's why I would calm down whenever I had tea. "I must have been thinking about Master Splinter subconsciously when I was drinking it."

"Speaking of Master Splinter, he wants to see you." I look over the rim of my mug at Leo. There's something about the way he's looking at me right now… I know that this meeting with Sensei isn't going to be very pleasant. What the shell did I do wrong? I hope Leo didn't tell him I was messing around in the dojo. Who am I trying to kid? This is Leo I'm talking about.

"I take it back. You're Leo." Even though I'm staring at the coffee mug, I can sense his confusion. I know he doesn't do it on purpose, but Leo is such a tattletale. It may be because he doesn't want to see any of us get hurt, but it still is annoying when he tells Master Splinter every little detail about something that has happened and -ultimately- who was doing what when they weren't suppose to. "You didn't have to tell Master Splinter I was messing around with the naginata in the dojo earlier."

"I didn't." Wait a second, what? "I did tell him how you got it, but I didn't say anything about you messing around with it. I think that's one of the reasons he wants to talk to you." I guess I stand corrected; I guess Leo does withhold some information from Master Splinter. "Now come on. Don't worry. I don't think Master Splinter knows anything about that." Did he just wink at me?

I down the last gulp of coffee, and then hand the mug to Leo so I can get out of bed without having to worry about dropping it. Raph got me that mug several years ago from somewhere. He still won't tell me where, but the shape of it is just perfect for coffee. A wide mouth, a comfortable handle, and the added bonus of an extra thick cup wall that lets little heat out. I can grab a hold of the mug itself after pouring boiling hot coffee in it and not feel any of the radiant heat.

Leo waits while I dress in my pads and mask before leading the way out of the room. Please tell me he's not going to escort me all the ways to Splinter's room. It's not like I'm planning on getting out of this upcoming lecture or whatever. The television is blaring, I guess that means that Mikey is watching it, and an equal amount of noise is coming from the bathroom. Heavy metal music, by the sound of it. Raph must be in the shower. Either that or there's a man dying in there...

I'm surprised when Leo heads towards the kitchen when we reach the bottom of the stairs. I guess he's full of surprises this morning. As I start towards the door to his room, I can hear Mikey laughing at the antics of the cartoon characters that are on. I guess that my earlier guess is true. I pause for a moment, just listening to the normal sounds of the lair after practice. It's hard to believe that only a few days ago all of this was completely alien to me. I sigh and take the last few steps to the door, and knock on the frame. "Enter, Donatello." That's my cue.

I slid the door open and shut it behind me as I enter Master Splinter's room. Man...he really has been burning the incense today. It's powerful enough that I can feel my nostrils burning faintly. He's kneeling behind his table, and I move to sit opposite of it. His eyes are closed, and if it wasn't for the slight twitch in his whiskers I won't even had known if he had knew I was in the room. He has a teapot sitting on the table between us and there is a small cup for each of us. Maybe this is why Leo brought me a cup of coffee this morning instead of forcing me to drink tea. He knew I was going to be sharing a whole pot with Sensei. As long as it's not chamomile, I think I'll be fine…

"My son." Watching Splinter come out of meditation has always reminded me of a cat lounging in the sun. He just has this calm and contented look on his face that looks so much like an overly happy cat. "I am glad that you are feeling better this morning." Shell, when he says it like that I feel like I did something wrong and that there is a big 'however' coming up in this conversation. "However…" See, I knew it. "What we have to focus on now is how to keep you feeling well and how to best speed up your recovery." Well, at least I'm not getting lectured for something that I didn't do, but I have a feeling that I'm not going to like where this is heading.

"I have spoken to both Raphael and Miss O'Neil on this matter, and they agree with me." Okay, now I know I am not going to like this conversation. "For the next three days you need to rest and that means-" Oh no. Here it comes. "-That you are not to train or do any other physically-tasking activity." Okay, it could be worst but it could be better, too. I guess I should be thankful that he didn't say anything about- "And that does not mean that you may sit in front of your computer for the next few days." Now it's officially considered worst.

"Yes, Sensei…" I know better then to fight with him when he's like this. Besides, I bet he's already told everyone that I'm to be resting for the next few days. That means that I won't be able to really do anything without getting caught and in trouble and –knowing my bountiful amount of good luck- hogtied to the bed. I hope I don't get tied to the bed again.

Master Splinter nods his head. Out of the four of us, I'm the only one who complies with Sensei when it involves my own health. Leo will sometimes do it, but only after he's tried every conceivable way to get out of resting. Even then, it's more like he passes out when he's finally forced into bed. I really won't call that resting. I watch as he takes the pot and fills the small mugs in front of us. I wait until he's place the teapot back on its hot mat and takes his cup before I take my own and cradle it in my hands. For a moment both of us just watch the steam roll out of the cups before taking our first sips. Green tea, with no extra 'relaxers' added to it, is by far one of my favorite teas.

"Now, Donatello." I look up from my tea to see him giving me this look that let's me know he's figured out something before me. But what has he figured out? "I believe it's time you told me what really happened between you and Karai."

I knew he knew I wasn't telling them something. I guess I am officially in the hot seat now. I can't help but swallow the mouthful of tea I have a bit harshly. "I didn't want you to worry about me, so I didn't say anything…"

"I gathered that, my son." He's smiling at me. That's always a good sign. "However, the past shouldn't be hidden in the shrouds of your mind. Raphael said that you had suffered from a nightmare last night." I should have known Raph would have said something about my untimely wake up call for him last night. I'm surprised he didn't complain about it last night. He didn't even tease me about it yesterday. Of course, I rarely start crying in front of any of them… "My son, the chains of the past sometimes can only be removed by the words in the present."

Translation: Tell him what really happened that night and don't leave out any details. I sigh and stare into my mug for a moment longer before taking another sip. I better get this over with because I doubt I'll be allowed to leave the room until Master Splinter has heard what he's wanted to hear. "I decided to go it alone because I didn't want to see the guys get hurt. I didn't want them to lose their memories like I had." He's nodding and smiling. I guess that he knew I was going to say that. Actually, I think I said that yesterday when Raph was trying to find a reason to rip off my shell for going alone. Who would have guessed that yesterday would have seemed like years ago or that it feels like this all started eons ago. Well, I guess that technically since I relived my entire life in the past week I can see why it feels like it's been so long.

"The patrols were in a predictable pattern and once I had memorized it, it all came down to the timing of who was going to walk by when. I slipped past them and into the compound through an open bathroom window." I'll leave out the nastier details of that little experience. "And I was able to find the lab that I was held in and found the case of chemicals and the notebook."

"And no one knew of your arrival?"

I can't help but smile at him. "Sensei, you taught me well. No one even knew I was in there." I feel myself frown as I remember what happened next. "And it would have stayed that way, except Saka and his head ninja decided to walk through the door at that moment." Master Splinter is frowning too. I doubt it's for the same reason as to why I'm frowning. In a way I am so glad that Karai dealt with him and not my brothers or I. There's no telling how they would have reacted- no, actually I know exactly how they would have reacted. I just don't think that they could have justified it after they had killed him.

"We ended up getting into a fight as they tried to catch me again and through a series of unfortunate events," I think I'll keep my pride here and not say anything. I'm pretty sure Splinter would have me doing extra katas and tumbling exercises if he learned the details of how I ended up on that table. "They were able to partially pin me down to an examination table." His ears have perked up more meaning that I have his full attention now. I hope to shell he doesn't tell the guys about this. They won't let me forget this embarrassment anytime soon. "That was when I smashed my watch, which sent the signal to set of the emergency beacon in the shell cells."

The look Sensei is giving me is a mixture of worry and pride. An odd combination, if any. "Donatello. Before you continue, may I say that I have never been gladder of your technical knowledge before today." I feel my cheeks heat up and can only imagine of how bright I'm blushing right now. Well, at least the red isn't reflecting off my tea yet. "Had it not been for that watch, I doubt any of us would have realized that you were missing until that morning."

"I was able to sneak past all four of you?" I had thought that Leo would have known that I was gone. As I walked past his bedroom door, he had stirred and I thought he was waking up. Usually if one of us sneaks out of the lair when we're not supposed to, Leo usually wakes up and comes looking for us saying he felt 'something was wrong'. I can't believe that I was able to make a clean get-away out of this.

"Donatello, you were not the only one traumatized by this experience. As they say in my stories: 'You never know what you truly have until it is lost'. Each of us has learned how much we have come to depend on you from this experience and I doubt that any of us will be able to forget what has happened anytime soon." Talk about leaving me speechless... I-I don't know what to say. "Now please, Donatello, how did you manage to free yourself and meet up with your brothers in the storage room?"

Right, the story. "Karai and the rest of the Foot showed up." Sensei's ears have tilted backwards slightly, meaning that he is not in a good mood right about now. He never has been that fond of Karai since she tried to kill us. I've never been that fond of her either since then. "As far as I can figure, the group that kidnapped me was more of a branch-off of the actual Foot. They were a whole other faction of the clan operating with the Foot outfits as more of a cover then anything else. She freed me, gave me my bo, and told me to leave."

"And what of Saka? Did she let him escape as well?"

Sorry to dash your hopes for revenge, Sensei. "No, she killed him and his commander before me." Well technically, Saka was killed after I had left the room. But judging on how mad Karai looked, I doubt that he was still breathing after that. "That's when most of the fighting started and I ended up being attacked in the storage room. The cavalry arrived then."

Master Splinter is quiet for a while after that, obviously lost in his own thoughts. My tea is nearly gone and what's left is too cold to appreciate fully. I really shouldn't drink another cup of tea on an empty stomach with nothing but coffee in it, but there really isn't anything else to do. I pour myself another cup and wait patiently from Sensei's thoughts to mull over what I just told him.

What seems like hours later but in reality can only be minutes, Master Splinter stands and walks around the table to kneel next to me. I set my cup down but before I can turn to face him, he's wrapping his arms around me. Master Splinter's arms may look really thin, but they belay how strong he really is. He pulls me into a hug, allowing me to rest my head on his shoulder as he runs a hand up and down my shell. When was it the last time he hugged me? Master Splinter has never been big on the whole touchy feel kind of thing but I guess that this experience was bad enough for him that he's making an exception. Well, I did force him to live through his biggest nightmare. I can understand why he's more than just a little upset.

He holds me for a long time after that. He doesn't say anything, he just holds me. Lightly stroking my shell and occasionally the back of my head and neck. My neck has always been a weak spot for me. I think it has something to do with my turtle heritage. By either stroking or petting it I turn into a large pile of happy goo and my brothers have been exploiting that for the past week. And now Sensei is using it to keep me still. It's not like I'm planning on going anywhere anytime soon anyways.

"Now, my son, will you tell me the cause of your nightmares last night?" The briefest flash of Raphael's head rolling across the floor completely severed from his body, flashes quickly through my mind and I can't help but shiver slightly. That dream had been so real... "Donatello?"

Right, explanation time. I've never been one to admit my weaknesses, but at least I'm more willing to talk about them, unlike Raph and Leo. I think Mikey is the only one of us that openly says what scares him. "I nearly killed you all. It's bad enough I hurt everyone as much as I did, but I nearly killed Leo, Raph, Mikey, and attacked April and you." I sigh heavily as I glare into my mug of tea. "If April hadn't have found out how to take me down from the notebook, then there is no telling what would have happened."

"My son, there is no sense in worrying about what you can not change. What has happened has happened. There is no sense in dwelling on what has happened. We must move on with life in the present." Splinter is playing the voice of reason here, but no matter how many times I have already thought about it, I still come back to the fact that I nearly killed my family. Hey, why is he smiling like he knows something that I don't? "Besides, though I do not agree with Raphael's choice to fight crime as a masked vigilante, that time helped him to greatly improve his manrikigusaris techniques." Sensei has a point. If I got into a fight with Raph when he had one of those, it wouldn't have mattered if I had used a naginata. He would have had me wrapped up and hog-tied before I could have blinked. He did tell Casey to go get one of them during the fight. I would have been done for when he brought that to Raph.

Still... "But Sensei... Before all that...I nearly threw a knife at Mikey. I dropped that half pipe on Leo's head. I almost decapitated Raph...and there was nothing I could do to stop it." Except for that voice. I've heard someone say that before. Who was it? "No matter what I tried I couldn't stop myself."

"That is not true, my son." Huh? What? What the shell is Master Splinter talking about now? I wait patiently as he takes another sip of his tea. Okay, make that impatiently. "Even if you didn't have full control of your body, you still made the effort to protect your brothers for your actions. As you said, instead of throwing a knife at Michelangelo, you choose to throw a bottle of dish soap. When Leonardo pushed you to the ground to protect you from the falling debris, you covered the back of his head with your free hand." I did? I don't remember doing that. It would explain why he was shaken up, and hadn't had a concussion afterwards, though. "Instead of decapitating Raphael, you angled the blade so that it imbedded in his shell instead. And, when you had just woken, you choose to attack your brother with ground pepper and not the kitchen knife that was also within reach."

I had nearly forgotten about that. When I first woke up and April tried to get a blood sample from me, I flipped and attacked them, trying to get away. I'm so glad I threw pepper in his face and hadn't not spun around with a knife. Sensei must have noticed that and called Raph off from trying to break down the bathroom door to get me out of there. If I had nearly pulled a knife on Leo then there was no telling what I would have ended up doing if they kept going aggressively after me. What ever would have happened I bet it wouldn't have ended well. If it wasn't for that voice-

That's it! That's why I didn't hurt them. I heard Master Splinter telling us not to hurt each other. That's what made me not pick up the knife and attack Leo. Every time I came close to aggressively attack one of them, I heard Splinter's voice. "I think that I should be thanking you here, Sensei." He's waiting for me to continue, but he doesn't look that surprised. Did he already know how I was able to keep myself from hurting them? "When I was aggressively attacking one of them, I would hear your voice telling me not to hurt them."

Somehow I knew that he wasn't going to be surprised by that little revelation. "When the four of you were younger, all of you had difficulties understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. There were many times that the four of you would be playing and, because you four were too young to understand your limitations, there would be an accident where one of you would hurt another. I knew that it was nothing more then a misunderstanding, but the four of you had to learn control if you were to practice the art of ninjitsu. When one of you accidentally injured another, I would remind the four of you to know your limits and not to hurt one of your brothers."

"And that's exactly what I heard, Sensei. 'Do not hurt your brothers'." But I did. I lower my eyes to rest on the empty cup in my hands. I never noticed that chip on the rim before. I nearly-

"Donatello." Uh oh, what did I do now? I look back at Splinter and see what I can only describe as forgiveness. "It is time to put this behind us. Let it go."

My lips move soundlessly as I try to come up with something else to say. I don't think that I am ever going to be able to just let this go. I'm not going to be able to forget this anytime soon but I shouldn't burden my family with it any longer. I'll just keep it to myself. I'll never forget what I almost did and I'll do everything in my power to prevent it from happening again. I put the cup back on the table and stand up giving Master Splinter a bow that he deserves. "Hai, Sensei."

He waits until I stand back up before saying, "As I said earlier, Donatello, for the next three days you are to rest. Michelangelo should have something ready for you to eat by now." I bow again, before heading for the door. "Donatello." I look over my shoulder to see a wide smile splitting Master Splinter's face. "I am very proud to have you as one of my sons." I can tell I'm blushing as I give a hasty bow and a mumbled 'thanks' before slipping out the door. The television is off and I can smell pancakes and bacon wafting from the kitchen, so I guess Mikey is in there cooking.

I hope there are strawberries on those pancakes…

I can do this.

I know I can do this.

It's been three long weeks since I was talking with Sensei about the truth of what had happened in the lab. Through out that time I had to deal with my family's hovering, complete boredom, and the embarrassing ability to fall asleep just about anywhere. Luckily, that last one only lasted for about the first week of my recovery, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. I fell asleep in the middle of dinner once. The last thing I remembered was eating, and the next thing I knew, Raph was picking me up, telling me to go back to sleep while Mikey and Leo finished clearing off the table. I sigh. At least I only did it that once.

I stop thinking about the past and focus on what I'm doing. I'm pretty sure I have everything I'm going to need for this. Yup, everything is in the bag. I zip it closed and swing it over my shoulder to rest against my thigh. My bo is already tucked into my belt behind my shell, and my shell cell is tucked into my belt, along with my suko spikes and a dozen shurikens. I'm ready to get going.

I step out of the door to my room and calmly start to walk down the hall towards the stairs. Mikey and Raph are arguing about who won that last match in whatever fighting game they are playing. The trick to hiding in plain sight is just to act normal and judging how neither of them have so much as even glanced this way then I know I'm doing it right. Leo's not in his room, but I can see the light coming from his dojo. He'll be in there for a while. It's time for his evening meditation, so Master Splinter will be in his room. This is the perfect time to sneak out of the lair.

I know I shouldn't be leaving like this, but I was given a clear bill of health after a rather through physical examine by Raph. I think I may have taught him too well. This trip should be relatively quick anyways. I'm just going up to the junkyard and back. It should only take me twenty minutes tops. I'm not even going to look for anything. I just need to know if I can do this. I need to know if I can be on my own again without having a panic attack.

It's like an irrational fear that has been developing as I've healed. I doubt I'm actually suffering from a case of PTS, but if I am I rather find out now so I can get it addressed as soon as possible. My brothers aren't always going to be able to go with me every time I need to go topside to a junkyard and there are times when the four of us need to split up during patrol. I need to make sure that I can be on my own again before something like that happens. There's no telling what may happen if we need to go in different directions and I can't be alone. I could get the one of the four of us hurt or all four of us killed.

I slow my steps without trying to look obvious, the last thing I need is someone to realize that I'm trying to sneak out. I look out of the corner of my eyes again to make sure that no one's paying that much attention to me. Alright, I'm right next to the door and...now! I'm out the door before it's barely open a sliver and pulling down on the section of pipe to reclose the door before its even halfway open. Okay I'm out and -as far as I know- no one saw me leave. I take a deep breath. I didn't think I would have been able to do that. However, I wouldn't put it past one of my brothers to fake not seeing me leave, only to give me a few minute's head start and then follow me. I better wait a few minutes to make sure no one is doing that right now.

I stand outside the door for almost fifteen minutes, waiting to see if anyone comes out looking for me. I can't believe I did that. I've never been very good at stealth, so how the shell did I manage this without my overly protective family knowing? Well, technically, I said I was going to be lying down. They probably still think I'm in bed or something. I guess being paranoid didn't help me any. I slowly turn away still watching the door expecting at any moment one of them to come running through it to yell at me. Still nothing. I guess I did get out without them knowing. I shake my head as I walk away. I can't decide if I should feel proud or be upset that they didn't notice me leave.

I head in the direction of the junkyard, walking slowly and taking in the surroundings. Nothing looks different but that doesn't mean anything. I'm not feeling any kind of threatening presence and other then the dripping of water and the occasional squeaking of rats it's quite. I watch the shadows as they play across the walls and litter the floors. There's nothing in these sewers that can hurt me and now I feel like a complete idiot. What the shell was I thinking? Post traumatic stress disorder indeed. Yeah, right.

I start to relax as I stroll through the sewers. Almost nothing has changed since the last time I headed towards the junkyard. Well, at least until I got there anyways. Still, I can't help but notice, turning my head from side to side, watching the shadows pass. I guess I am being a little overly cautious. I highly doubt the Foot ninjas are going to be in the sewers, especially after the beat-down back at the lab. They had to be hurting after that little episode. I'm actually surprised that we were able to get away from that fight without any of us being hurt. Well, I was kind of hurt during the fight but that came from before the guys actually showed up.

I kind of wish they were here. I've tried to get used to them always hovering around me. It's weird to be walking through the sewers without an escort. I've always enjoyed having my own space but this is kind of ridiculous. However, I have no one to blame but myself. It was my choice to walk out of the lair tonight without telling anyone. Shell, they are so going to freak out when they realize I'm gone. Hopefully I can get home before anyone notices I'm missing. Heh… aren't those some famous last words? That was exactly what I was thinking when I left the lair that night I was-

Wait…what was that?

That wasn't a rat or drip…

Whatever it is, it's large…

And moving much too quietly for something its size…


I continue to walk normally, despite the fact that I'm completely focused on whatever is following me. Who could it be? Is the Foot really sneaking around down here tonight? Am I being paranoid for nothing, and this is just a figment of my imagination? Or did one of my brothers really see me walk out the door? Despite the lecture I can get from Leo, or any of them for that matter, I still hope that one of my brothers is stalking me and not some Foot operative about to get his head bashed in.

I'd better be ready just in case. About a hundred paces of this tunnel there's a split, with the right title leading down to a Park Avenue runoff. There will be plenty of room to fight with my bo there, but that is also a good place to be ambushed. I better stay away from there. Standing my ground here in the tunnel wouldn't be a good idea either. The ankle deep water makes it difficult to tell if there's anything lying underneath to trip me, and the narrow passageway makes it hard to effectively use my staff. Of course if I can get down near Chelsea, the tunnels widen not enough for me to fight in. I'll try to get down there. If worse comes to worse, I remade that watch with the emergency signal in it so I can get-

Oh, shell…

Don't tell me…

I sigh, stop moving, and turn around to face the darkness behind me. I fold my arms across my plastron and halfheartedly glare into the shadows hiding part of the left side of the tunnel. "Okay Leo, you caught me. You can come out now." I say in a semi-exasperated voice. I knew I didn't get out of the lair without anyone noticing me leave. Sneaking past Leo is like trying to convince Raph not fight. It just doesn't happen.

"Close, but you got the wrong turtle, bro." Well okay I didn't expect this but I guess I should have. Of course Mikey would've followed me out of the lair. He's been babying me so much that I nearly wanted to scream at him to leave me alone a few times. More than a few times actually. Mikey steps shadows with a timid smile on his face. It's a smile that I can't help, but return with a slight shake of my head. "Leo's actually the one stuck to the ceiling and Raph is over there," he says jerking his finger at the wall across from him.

"Good one, Mikey. It's a wonder you can do anything without telling someone about it." How can Leo drop from the ceiling, admonish Mikey, and land silently on his feet without even blinking? He always makes things looks so much easier than they actually are. He can be such a pain in the shell sometimes. Mikey doesn't even seem to acknowledge what Leo said except for giving him a quick wink. On the other side of the tunnel, Raph calmly stepped out of the shadows of folds his arms like I have mine. "Sorry for following you like this, Donnie, but when you just left the lair we were worried about you."

"Yeah, it's not like you just sneak out the door. And even if I didn't say that you checked out okay, that does not mean you can scamper out of the lair without telling anyone."

Oh boy, Raph is not looking too happy with me right now. "Sorry guys but I…I…" Shell, now that I'm about to tell them why I'm sneaking around out here, it sounds so stupid. What can I say to them without sounding like an idiot?

"Hey, Donnie, don't worry about it." Mikey throws and arm over my shoulders and gives me a light punch in the shoulder closest to him. "Just remember that Raph is all bark and no bite. Now, why did you sneak out? Are you sneaking away to a party? Can I come?!"

"No, Mikey I'm not going to a party. I just…I wanted to go out for a walk. That's all." Raph gives a muffled cough that sounds more like a swear I've heard Casey and him use multiple times, and Leo is giving me that look that tells me he knows that I'm lying and I should just give it up and tell him the truth. I always have been bad at lying to people. Mikey on the other hand can lie through his teeth and people don't even bat an eyelash anymore. "Alright." I shouldn't drag this out too long. I know that they are eventually going to get me to talk. "I wanted to make sure I could head out on my own. I wanted to make sure I wasn't suffering from any mental disorders. I…I also needed to go back to the junkyard and get a water pump, at least ten feet of phone line, and a capacitor." I give the three of them a sheepish grin as they look at me dumbfounded. Wait for it…

"That's it? Usually when we go to the junkyard you need the van to haul everything you found back with you." Mikey lets go of my shoulder and points down the tunnel towards my destination. "Onward!" he shouts, doing a dramatic pose that looks like it came from one of his epic role-playing games.

Raph calmly walks over and smacks him over the back of the head. "What is with you, shell-fer-brains?" he asks as Mikey rubs at the back of his head and pouts. "We're supposed to be quiet."

"You guys don't have to follow me." Yeah, right Don, like they're going to believe that. "I can go on my own."

"Sorry, Donnie." Wha-Hey! Stop with the noogie, Raph! "But it's been awhile since we got out of the lair, too. What'd you say, fearless? A trip to the junkyard, followed by a jaunt across town?"

Leo crosses his arms and looks down at the water pooling around his ankles for a moment before smiling and looking back up at the three of us. "Sure, why not? Besides, you need the practice, Raph."

Raph was probably about to say some kind of snide remark back at Leo, but Mikey cut in. "Yeah, Raph. You've been getting lazy."

"Lazy?" Well, at least Raph let me out of the headlock. I wish I had brought some earplugs though. "I'll show you lazy!" Mikey's scream is just going to echo through out the tun- OW! Man, that hurt. I surprised that Mikey can even reach that octave. Both Leo and I lower our hands away from our ears and watch as Mikey runs down the tunnel with Raph hot on his heels.

"We should probably catch up with them." I glance at Leo who's watching me. He smiles and jerks his head after them. "Come on."

"Hey, Leo?" He hesitates and waits for me to say my piece. At least Mikey and Raph have moved down the tunnel enough that I don't have to yell over them to talk to Leo. And Raph was telling Mikey to be quiet? He can be such a hypocrite. "You guys don't have to do this."

His face goes hard. I have a feeling I just found a brick wall that's not going to give anytime soon. "Yes, we do."


"Donnie," Shell, Leo, stop interrupting me! "You weren't the only one who suffered through this. You're not the only one still recovering. Now come on. Let's get going before they wake up half of New York."

Leo's right. This isn't all about me. They suffered just as much as I have if not more. "Leo, I'm sor-"

"Don't you dare say you're sorry again, Don. You've said that way too much in the past few weeks. Now come on." He starts off towards the two wrestling turtles, "Let's go." He jumps over them, breaking up the wrestling match and catch their attention. "Last one to the junkyard has to clean the dojo by himself for a week!" Wait, what? I'm off, on Leo's heels as Raph and Mikey struggle to separate themselves from each other. I don't want to be the last one there. Cleaning the dojo alone can take most of the day.

As the four of us continue to barrel through the tunnels in a foot race to the junkyard, I find myself thinking about everything that has happened to me and how lucky I am to have my family with me. If it hadn't been for them, I doubt I would still be me and not some insane assassin for the Foot. I might not even be alive if it wasn't for them. Everyone may think that I need to stop saying 'I'm sorry' and 'thank you' but I can't think of any other way to express how much they've helped me through all of this. Every now and then they remind me that 'it's what a family does' and that they're just glad I'm back.

And I'm so glad I found them again too.

Of course, that's not going to stop me from making and leaving in some very conspicuous spots new 'toys' for all of them…