A/N: Once again, I'm SO sorry for taking forever. I realize that it's been three months since the last chapter. Between being out of the country for most of August, starting at a new university, and severe writer's block (huge thanks to my friends at SewerSweetSewer for helping me get over that), I wrote very little. Hopefully I'll be able to write more quickly, but I won't be able to promise that I'll be able to post a chapter more than once a month from here on out. I knew that the University level work would be harder, but I didn't think it would be this much more so ^.^'
A/N2: Huge thanks to everyone for reviewing and for your patience with me!
Disclaimer: I own only the plot...which sometimes seems to own me instead ^_~
Leatherhead gently set Donatello on his old, beat-up sofa and, wiping away the sweat beading across the smaller reptile's brow, checked for a fever.
"Oh, my!" Professor Honeycutt hurried over from his workstation, hovering over the side of the couch like an uncertain C-3PO. "Whatever happened to him?"
The crocodile shook his head slowly. "I cannot say for certain; this is how I found him."
Donatello shivered violently as a new line of sweat began to bubble from his skin. Leatherhead once again felt his forehead.
"His temperature is dangerously high. Professor, if you would, please fill a bucket with some cold water and bring it as well as a couple of clean cloths."
"Oh, yes, of course."
As he hurried off, Leatherhead turned to pick up the phone from the coffee table, just missing seeing the skin on Donatello's legs lurch as though making way for some giant insect inside of them.
"…and after we got out past Bishop, I closed the door on him, trapping him inside." Leonardo winced as April pulled the bandage off his shoulder. She had immediately begun her Big Sister/Mother Hen care when the turtles returned to the apartment that she and Casey shared.
"Sorry, Leo." April carefully probed around the scorched edges of the impact points. "It looks like they actually were patching you up and nothing more."
"Good." The eldest turtle sighed in relief.
"Man, I wish I coulda seen ol' sunglasses' face." Raphael smirked from where he was sitting backwards on one of Casey's dining chairs.
"Yeah, but how did Don end up like this?" Michelangelo pulled a blanket over where his unconscious brother was lying on the beat-up couch. Other than a white bandage covering a scrape on his cheek and the bandage from the cut on his arm just four days prior, Donatello looked fine. No reason for his unresponsive state.
The eldest turtle frowned. "I don't know, exactly. We ran through the hallways, knocking out the soldiers as we encountered them. Come to think of it, though, it was almost too easy; not like the other times we've gotten out of Bishop's bases."
"So you got lucky," Casey shrugged. "Big deal."
"I don't know…" Leonardo trailed off then shook his head. "Anyway, we managed to get out from underground and found ourselves in the warehouse district. There wasn't any sewer access close, so we headed up to the rooftops. But after we got out of immediate danger, Don just passed out. I couldn't find any injury or anything on him, so I just carried him as far as I could and just kept hoping that you all would find us." He sighed and looked down at his hands. "But even so…"
"'Even so' what?" Raphael crossed his arms, his face souring. "I don't wanna hear no stinkin' crap about you not bein' able ta help Don any more or any of your guilt-trip shit, you got that, Fearless?"
The corners of Leonardo's mouth twitched upwards slightly. "Language, Raph. Mikey and April can hear you."
The younger of the two shot him a mild glare, almost softening as Leonardo's face grew grave once more.
"Actually, it's more of just a feeling than anything. Sort of a sixth-sense type of thing. It's weird, but I almost feel like the brother I left with isn't the brother I came back with. I don't know exactly what Bishop put him through, but something is telling me that he's going to start getting even worse."
"Even worse?" April furrowed her brows. "What exactly do you mean?"
"Yeah," Michelangelo agreed, unwilling to be left out of the conversation. "What could be worse than this?"
Leonardo mentally slapped himself for the slip of the tongue. "I-it's just that Don's been having some, er, health problems lately. He didn't want any of us to know about it so we wouldn't worry. I only found out by accident."
"'Xactly what do you mean 'health problems,' Leo? And no tryin' to get outa answering me. I know yer hiding somethin'."
Leonardo stared down at his hands. Come on, Don, wake up. I can't tell them this; I can't tell them that you're dying!
"I promised that I would keep it a secret for a year or if something happened." His voice was strained.
"I'm pretty sure this counts as somethin' happening," Casey pointed out. "I mean, he is flat-out cold."
"That's true…"Leonardo did not lift his gaze from his palms.
"Come on, Leo!" Michelangelo whined, jumping up onto the back of the couch, right by his closest brother's head. "If something's wrong with Don, we've gotta know, bro. We're like the Mouseketeers, ya know? One for all and all for one?"
"Musketeers, Mikey, but yes, I know." Leonardo sighed, wishing for some kind of distraction to break through the interrogation.
Raphael opened his mouth to say something, but the shrill ring from his Shell Cell, as if on cue from Leonardo's wish, cut him off. With a glare saying we-will-continue-this, he answered it.
"Yo, LH, what's up?" After a moment of listening, puzzlement shot across his face. "What-d-ya mean? Don's right here, out cold on the couch!" More listening and puzzlement quickly became annoyance. "Yes, I'm sure! You can even talk with April if you want! Here!" He shoved the phone into April's hands, muttering something about drunken crocodiles.
"Hello? …. Oh yes, he's here….No, I'm very sure….What do you mean he's on your sofa?"
All eyes turned to her.
"How badly?" She continued, pursing her lips. "I see. So Splinter's on his way there?....Mmm, I'll see what we can do." Nervously, she tugged on the strand of hair dangling by her ear. "Yes, yes. Thanks for calling. See you soon."
"So is he drunk or what?" Raphael burst out as April handed the phone back to him.
"What's going on?" Michelangelo's eyes darted back and forth between the two.
April sighed. "Leatherhead said that he found Donatello passed out in the sewers, looking pretty beat up and running a high fever."
"That's impossible, Ape!" Casey slammed a fist into his open palm. "Don's already here with us."
"Yeah, dudette, there can't be two of him."
"You think I don't know that?" She turned to Leonardo. "What do you think?"
The eldest turtle shrugged slightly. "To be honest, I'm not completely sure." His face darkened. "On the one hand, I don't know if we can afford to leave Don or exactly what. But on the other hand, if there are somehow two Donatellos, it could be a trap for us like when the Shredder created a robot version of Master Splinter."He slouched forwards on the chair, not looking at any of the others. "Either way, I just don't like it."
"Tell you what," April walked over and put her hand on his uninjured shoulder, squeezing slightly. "You can leave Don here with me and Casey and we'll keep an eye on him. Then you won't have anything to worry about as you guys check out this other Donatello."
"Thanks, April." Relief seemed to wash over the eldest turtle as he squeezed her hand briefly and stood. "Let's go."
As Leatherhead hung up the phone, the Professor had just brought the cloths and was starting to wipe away the beads of sweat trickling off Donatello's forehead. The turtle shuddered violently once more. As the coolness seeped into his skin, Donatello groaned hoarsely and opened his eyes a tiny crack.
"Professor?" He felt as though he had been eating sand.
"Easy now, you are with friends." Leatherhead, hearing his friend's voice, grabbed an unopened soda that he had left previously on the table, popped it open, and pressed the beverage to Donatello's lips.
The turtle could barely get down two sips before choking.
"Careful. Just relax; your family will be here soon."
All of a sudden, Donatello moaned and writhed as his muscles along his appendages began to bulge in every direction possible, his arms and legs lashing out violently.
"Quick! Hold him!" the Professor yelled as Leatherhead tried to grab Donatello's arms. "He's having a seizure!"
"N-oo" the turtle wheezed. "Antido-AAHH!!" His back almost arched, prevented only by his shell and Leatherhead's grasp. "Hurry!"
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