DISCLAIMER: It's been a while, so let's see... Oh yeah, I don't own the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or anything associated with them. They belong to Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Mockery is the sincerest form of flattery, or something like that... Anyway, I am not making any money off this. No infringement is intended.
NOTE: This is the edited/hybridized version of two stories I used to have up here. I was never satisfied with either of them, but I feel better about this one. I hope you do too.
Spoilers: The end of Season 4. Also brief reference to the Leatherhead storyline.
Summary: Donatello spoke angrily under two circumstances: major setbacks to his projects or prolonged periods of intense work without rest. They were guessing the latter this time...
Placing two cups of coffee on the kitchen table, April sat down and said, "Thanks for being a good sport about this, Casey."
"Eh," Casey replied, shifting uncomfortably in his suit and reaching to pick up a steaming mug, "you know. There are other nights. Anyway, they do so much for us, that it's good to be able to repay 'em once in a while, ya know?"
April looked over her shoulder at the slumbering turtle on the couch. The blanket rose and fell in time with his breathing. She thought about all they had been through, and was surprised at how peaceful he looked.
"Yeah," she said with a small smile. "I know."
Donnie was working late again.
Actually, Michelangelo realized, it was the sixth night in a row that Donnie had out late-nighted him. Him. Lord of the 3 a.m. monster movies. Usually, Mikey preferred the nights when the glow from Don's lab lit up the otherwise empty lair. It gave him someone to run to – not whimpering because real ninjas never whimpered – after the movie ended and he swore he saw something lurking in the corner. But this? Donnie was pushing a week without a wink of rest. Even for Brainiac, this was excessive.
"You're still working?" said Mikey, approaching Don from behind, "Man, you seriously need to take it easy, bro."
Donnie nearly jumped out of his shell. One hand reached for his bo as he whirled around. Mikey smirked. Time for Mr. Jumpy-shell to take a break, that much was certain.
"How many times," said Don between gasps for breath, "have I told you not to sneak up on a turtle while he's involved in serious research?"
Mikey shrugged. "Ninja training, dude. I can't help it. Back to the topic, please?"
Donnie rolled his eyes. "I'll be up for a while," he replied, removing a slide from a microscope and locking it in a plastic case. "I had a theory I wanted to test before I turned in."
Don sighed, rubbing the top of his head. "No." He surveyed the rest of his workspace, something like helplessness in his eyes. "But I've formulated one more hypothesis that's worth checking out."
"Dude," said Mikey, "It's, three in the morning. This hour is reserved for sleeping, partying and bad horror movies only."
"Not tonight," said Don.
"Can't you, like, write it down or something and test it tomorrow?"
"No can do, Mikey. I need to do it now, while it's fresh in my head. If I wait until tomorrow, I might lose it." As Don spoke, he pulled a beaker from a wire rack and let two drops fall onto another slide. "Besides, every minute that goes by, this outbreak only gets bigger and harder to control." He slipped the slide under a lamp and switched it on. Part of the table and the bottom half of his face suddenly glowed with bright white light. Watching him maneuver the chaos with such ease was comforting and dizzying at the same time. "If the outbreak virus spreads beyond the city…" he trailed off for a moment before shuddering. "I don't want to think about that. What a nightmare."
"It already is a nightmare if you ask me," said Mikey, folding his arms. He smirked. "Or Raph." At the look on Don's face, he realized that the point, however fun to make, didn't help his argument any. "But seriously, bro," he said. "You already pulled, what, five all nighters this week? Even turtles need their beauty sleep, you know."
"I know," said Don. "I'll do my best to get some rest before morning."
"I'll believe that when I see it," said Mikey.
Don gave a small grunt and scratched the bandage on his leg. For the first time, Mikey noticed the shadows under his eyes. He made his decision: desperate times called for desperate measures. He crept up to one of the contraptions strewn about the work area and studied it. Inside, vials of green liquid sat between coils of wire glowing red-orange. He heard Don's intake of breath and grinned. Perfect.
"Don't touch that!"
Hearing Don's fast approach, Mikey placed one hand on the dial and held the other in front of him.
"If you take one more step," he said, "I'll turn it up all the way. I mean it."
Whatever this crazy thing was, full heat evidently spelled bad luck because it did the trick. Eyes widening in fear, Don stopped in his tracks.
"Mikey, no!" he said. "Do you know the kind of damage you could do? I could be set back weeks. I don't have time for this."
"You do now," said Mikey. "By order of everybody's favorite turtle, you are going to bed right now." The look on Don's face suggested that Mikey was nobody's favorite turtle at the moment, but at least he had stopped moving.
"But…" Don sputtered, "I…" His shoulders slumped. "Fine. Just let me clean up and write some things down."
Mikey folded his arms. "Okay, you have ten minutes. I'll be watching you."
Don smiled wryly. He looked about to reply, but thought the better of it. He finished cleaning and writing in just under the allotted time.
"There," he said, "happy?" Mikey nodded, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Bedtime, braniac. And don't you worry, tomorrow morning all this will be right where you left it." Ignoring the reluctant expression on Don's face, Mikey steered his brother into his bedroom. He hid in the hall, holding his breath and refusing to leave until positive that Donnie had fallen asleep.
If it wasn't the spinning, churning motion that woke him, it was the overwhelming sense that something was wrong. Darkness made it worse, so he opened his eyes and pushed himself into a sitting position, despite the sway of the room that threatened to flatten him. Deep breaths. His entire body seemed to pulse with the beat of his heart.
He felt a depression on the edge of the couch, a hand on his knee. Gentle green eyes, wide with concern, sought his gaze.
"Donnie," April whispered. "Are you all right? What's wrong?"
"What's goin' on?" said Casey from behind him. "Everything okay, bro?"
The lights went out.
Much as open air of the subway junction calmed his sprits, Leatherhead felt most at peace in the evenings spent working side by side with the turtle Donatello. Although these days, conversation mostly centered on the outbreak situation, simply having another being to talk to and work with made it worthwhile. Every evening, he could scan the progress they had made, most of it stemming from the intellectual prowess and unsettling diligence of the turtle working beside him, and go to sleep feeling not like a monster, but like a civilized being who had accomplished something.
It was almost like having his family back. Almost like being the way he was before Bishop found him. Life mirrored normality when Donatello was around. Leatherhead looked forward to it every day.
Yet this particular evening, something did not seem right. The difference was subtle, but distinct. Not at all up to his usual precision, tonight Donatello worked more slowly and with less certainty than usual. He had been sneezing all evening, and hands that typically stunned Leatherhead with their steady, precise skill seemed weaker, less sure of themselves. Watching him take noticeably longer than normal to insert a simple metal plate into its frame, Leatherhead made a mental note to voice his concern after tonight's project had been finished. For the moment, they worked in silence.
"There," said Leatherhead, beginning to lift the freshly-cut slab of Utrom glass. "The first panel is ready."
"Excellent," said Donatello. He stood up, shaded his eyes with one hand and surveyed the cage-like ring of thick metal bars surrounding him. "The gas chambers are secure, and the frame appears to be all set."
Together they lifted and shifted and teased the panel of glass into its proper place in the frame. Over the next forty-five minutes, they repeated the process with the remaining three panels, Donatello inside the metal ring, Leatherhead out.
When they had finished, Donatello nodded for Leatherhead to close and secure the door. That done, he placed a hand on the inside of the glass and pushed.
"There," he said with a satisfied grin. The glass muffled his voice. "Even the strongest of Bishop's creatures won't break through this."
"Truly a job well done, my friend," Leatherhead agreed.
"Do you think we can use the…" Donatello trailed off. A confused and oddly blank expression crossed his face. "The…uh…"
"Donatello?" said Leatherhead, alarmed. Are you all right?" When Donatello didn't react, Leatherhead opened the door, prepared to catch him if he fell. Donatello seemed frozen, unresponsive. After half a minute, he blinked, stumbled and steadied himself on the glass. Leatherhead took him by the arm and led him out of the chamber. Had those shadows always been under his eyes?
"I have you," he said, guiding Donatello to a chair. Donatello sat, closing his eyes and rubbing his forehead. "Are you all right?"
Donatello nodded. He took two deep breaths before speaking. "I don't know what happened. All of a sudden I felt like I…phased out or something. It was weird. Like my brain just…stopped functioning for a second. I-I-I don't get it. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before."
Leatherhead "hm"ed softly before replying. "I know what is the matter. This is an affliction I have seen before, often among the most brilliant and talented of scientists."
Donatello looked at him, worried.
"My friend," said Leatherhead gravely, "you are overworked."
Donatello exhaled and looked down with something akin to a wry smile. "I've heard that before," he muttered.
"You must rest," said Leatherhead. "Get a good night's sleep. Take a break from this work for a couple of days. It would be foolish for you to continue in this state."
"I can't," said Donatello, shaking his head. The look in his eyes crossed between helplessness and amusement. "This situation needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible, before it gets out of hand." He rubbed his forehead. "More than it already is, I mean. I rarely take a day off when there isn't a crisis. There's no way I could do it now."
"While I understand how you feel," said Leatherhead, slowly, considering his words. "Your health is also a serious concern, both for your well-being and for the sake of the work we do. We can stop here, for now. I will accompany you back to your lair. We will continue tomorrow only if you are feeling up to it."
Donatello hesitated, then sighed in defeat and nodded.
He wasn't sure what had triggered it, but the sudden rush of understanding took him by storm the second April left the room. It seemed that as soon as he was alone with it, just him and this bug – this bug, he'd been calling it, a bug of all possible ironies – he could finally piece the clues altogether: the speed of his heart, the sinking feeling in the back of his mind, the burning sensation in his leg, the cut that should have healed three months ago. And with that came the sudden realization that something was happening and he should have seen it coming.
And as the ripping, burning feeling tore through his bloodstream, as someone opened his voice cavity and used it to scream in pain, he floated, detached, watching the gap between his fingers grow. The part of him that was always thinking, always cognizant, encoding, analyzing, calculating, the section of his mind that never quieted was thinking only one thing.
Oh shell, oh shell, oh shell, shell, shell…
It wasn't until his return trip from the bathroom that Leo noticed the noises, the steady rhythmic clangs muffled behind a door in the far corner. Instantly, he knew the perpetrator and, letting out an exasperated sigh, went to investigate.
He hadn't been in this room before, and its size took him aback at first. Huge and almost completely empty, it looked more like a hangar than an old pump station. Leo blinked, allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Something huge sat in the center of the floor, partially silhouetted by a lamp on the other side, where the sounds were coming from, but mostly cloaked in darkness. As Leo approached it, the contours of its outline began to slip into view. He gawked upon realizing what it was.
"Shell, Donnie," he said. A gasp and the sound of metal hitting concrete responded to his voice. Donatello, hammer in one hand and lamp in the other, emerged.
"Leo," he panted, "Don't ev…ever do that to…to me again."
He sounded much stuffier than he had the last time they had spoken. His skin was a distinctly paler shade of green, his forehead creased, his posture tired and overworked. Leo wasn't fooled for a minute into thinking the dark shadows under his eyes appeared only from a trick of the light.
"Is that…" he shook his head, still astounded. "Stockman's helicopter? What are you doing with it at this hour?"
Don gave the chopper a sheepish look. "I wanted it to be a surprise," he said. "Don't tell anyone, okay?"
"How…" Leo sputtered, "When did you do all this?"
"Usually at night after I finish working with Leatherhead," said Don. "It helps me relax."
"Relax?" said Leo. "You call this relaxing? And speaking of relaxing, why aren't you in bed? Right now you need your sleep more than anyone."
Don sighed. "I know," he said, "but I really wanted this done. I don't mind the work, and anyway, think of how many times we could have really used a decent mode of air travel. Now we'll have one."
"It's amazing," Leo admitted, despite himself. "You really are something, Donnie."
Don grinned shyly. The sneeze that broke the silence reminded Leo of his agenda.
"All the same, Donnie," he said, trying to sound as diplomatic as possible. "You need to sleep. It's been days since you've gotten some decent rest, and dozing off during meditation doesn't count." Donnie ducked his head, embarrassed. Leo could tell from his expression that he had thought no one had noticed, when in reality Master Splinter had simply been turning a blind eye, knowing how little rest Don had been getting lately. "You try to hide it, but that cold isn't going away, and the cut on your leg is still bothering you. If you keep doing this, you aren't going to get any better."
"I know," Don sighed again. "But there's too much to do right now. You've seen how quickly this whole Outbreak virus is spreading. If I rest now, who knows what will happen? What if one of you guys got infected, and I hadn't come up with a cure?" He shuddered. "That would be awful. We have to find a way solve this problem now, before it's too late."
"You can't take all this on yourself, Don."
"Oh yeah," Don snapped. "And who will take over if I rest? Mikey?"
Donatello spoke angrily under two circumstances: major setbacks to his projects or prolonged periods of intense work without rest. Leo guessed the latter this time. The helpless look in Donatello's eyes conjured memories of a feeling Leonardo knew all too well.
"You can't keep this up, Donnie," he said. "Believe me, I would know. You can't take responsibility for everything, and you won't get anywhere if you never give yourself time to breathe. You've had that cold of yours since before we fought Savanti. That's more than three months."
"Might not be the same cold," Donnie muttered.
"Fine," said Leo, "so you're sick again. You need to rest, bro. If you run yourself into the ground, you won't be able to help anyone."
Don hung his head. "I still feel," he said, "That if I take a break, and something terrible happens, it'll be my fault for not stopping it."
Leo gripped his shoulder. "I know exactly how that feels."
Don's shoulders slumped as he studied the floor by his feet. He looked ready to collapse at any minute. Leo sighed. He remembered the helplessness, the sense of futility behind the drive to keep going. Even too much was never enough. Don looked about to say something, but two more sneezes broke the silence and he opted to blow his nose on a handkerchief instead.
"Don," said Leo. "It's time for bed." To his surprise, Don nodded.
"All I have to do is weld one more plate of armor to the outer covering. That's it, then I'm done. I promise."
Leo considered this. "Fine. But you sit. I'll do it. And tomorrow, you are finally going to take it easy. You look awful, bro."
Don shook his head. "I need to finish readjusting the suits. After the last time we took them out, I decided the seams could use more reinforcement. One more day," he said to Leo's grim expression. "That's all I need. After I finish the suits, and we've tested them in the field, I…yes," he said to Leo as the latter started to protest, "I'm coming with you. I have to be there to make sure they work. After that, I'll rest. I promise, I'll sleep off this stupid bug."
Leonardo frowned "Fine," he said. "Sounds fair. Now, tell me what to do."
They were going to follow him. He knew it. He felt it. They were going to follow him and then something was going to take over what used to be his body and destroy them. No time to think. No time to be angry. Already he could feel himself detaching. Even as the huge and gawking things that used to be his feet carried him into the abandoned apartment, he felt himself scrambling to hold on to them, to thought, to something. As a ninja he was supposed to fight off panic, but in the last few seconds, he clung to it. Panic was still feeling. This heartbeat was his heartbeat, this breath was his, these footsteps were his, these hands gripping in the sink were his, these red eyes in the mirror were –
It didn't take a genius to figure out Donnie wasn't up for the mission. Clue number one? He gave the keys to the battle shell to Mikey. Bozo hadn't even asked for them this time. Clue number two? The shadows under his eyes, the color of his skin, – even for a turtle, that shade of green was sickly – the way he hugged his plastron and stared at the floor as if working really hard to stay conscious…you name it. He'd looked all right this morning, but less than a minute on the road, and Raph found himself wondering if Donnie would even make it to the power plant without checking out.
"Bro," said Raph, "You feelin' okay?"
Don hesitated, then shook his head slowly, closing his eyes. He exhaled slowly through his teeth. Raph felt his forehead.
"Whoa, Donnie," he said, "why didn't you tell anyone you were runnin' a fever?"
"I wasn't," said Don, his voice weaker and more stuffed-up than ever. "I checked before we left and I was fine. I dunno what ha-ah..." He sneezed and blew his nose. Raph scowled; he'd seen enough.
"There is no way," he said, "You're gunna do any fighting tonight. I don't care what you say. I'm telling the others." He started to reach for the window Don had set up between the back of the van and the front, but a hand on his wrist stopped him.
"Wait," said Don, "You can't. I need to be there to make sure everything runs smoothly."
"Oh yeah?" said Raph. "Things won't be running so smoothly once one of those freaks flattens you because you're too sick to fight. Come on, Donnie, you're supposed to be the smart, sensible one. Look me in the eye and tell me you won't fall over if I tap you on the shoulder right now."
Brainiac looked like he had an all-purpose, intellectual sort of thing to knock Raph's argument on its shell, but Raph crossed his arms. Pure, turtle stubbornness was going to win this one. Donnie wasn't going near any fight tonight, not if he could help it.
"Okay," Donnie whispered, his voice hoarse and trembling. "You win."
"Bout time, bro," said Raph.
About to say something else, Donnie winced, grunted and touched the bandage on his leg as if in sudden pain. As Raph watched in alarm, his eyes became wide and unfocused. Moments passed and he was silent, unmoving. Raph waved a hand in front of his face.
"Donnie?" he said. "Donnie? You okay, bro? Answer me." What the shell? Were his eyes glowing? "Donnie, come on." Raph gripped Donnie's shoulders. "Talk to me, bro. You're scarin' me. C'mon Donnie, say something."
Finally, Donnie blinked. Raph started to breathe a sigh of relief until Don leaned forward and threw up all over the floor. Raph jumped out of the way just in time.
"Aw shell," Raph muttered. "Guys," he yelled through the window, "pull over. Donnie's sick." He reached for a bucket and thrust it in front of his retching brother, awkwardly patting his shell. The van took a sharp turn before stopping short.
"We never pull over when I get sick," Mikey was saying as the back doors opened. "We always…" He stopped short. "Aw shell."
"Donnie," Leo muttered. Instantly at his brother's side, he placed a hand on Don's sweat-soaked forehead. Don's eyes were shut and he was taking slow, deep breaths.
"Get him outside," he said to Raph. "Take the bucket, just in case. Get him out of the suit. Mikey and I will clean this up."
"Aw, man," Mikey groaned, "Why me? Gross city."
"You wanna smack him or can I?" Raph whispered to Leo as Donnie cringed.
"You just get Don into fresh air," said Leo. "I'll take care of Mike."
"M'sorry guys," said Donnie as Raphael pulled his arm over his shoulders.
"Hey," said Raph, "You can't help it. Don't feel bad. Watch your step," he added as they made their way out of the van. They emerged into the relative darkness of a deserted alley; Raph helped Don sit in the shadow of a brick building. As Don rested his head against the wall, Raph began to unbuckle his suit.
"Looks like you didn't get any on ya, bro," he said with grin. "Good aim."
"I can't believe I puked in the new battle shell," Donnie groaned.
"Hey," said Raph. "Don't sweat it. Leo and Mike can clean it up, no problem. It'll be good for 'em, build character." Raph set Don's now-empty suit on the ground and sat against the wall. "Besides, with all you've been doin' lately, I'm surprised it took you this long to wear out."
Don groaned again. "Not you too."
"Yeah," said Raph. "Me too. Ya know, for the brainiac, you ain't been too smart when it comes to takin' care of yourself."
"I know," said Donnie. "But I-I just had to. It's what I do. Leo leads, you're the force, Mikey's the…something… and I do this."
"I dunno, Donnie, seems like you got the crappy end of the deal."
"Not usually," said Don, "I like what I do."
"I'll take your word for it, bro." Raph grinned. "You've always amazed me, you know. I could never handle what you do." Don smiled weakly. "Now it's time to take it easy. You've earned it. Gotta save some of the fun for the rest of us."
Donnie looked at him, weak, exhausted, surrendering. Braniac never was the rebellious type, lucky for them.
"You'll tell me if the suits need more reinforcements?"
Raph thought for a second. "No. Then you'd just be up longer, doing the same thing you've been doing for months. Besides, if I know you, there won't be anything to tell you about except a few whackbag mutants who don't know what hit 'em."
Don gave him a weak smile as Leo approached from the van.
"We're pretty much done cleaning," he said. "We're closer to April's apartment than the lair, so Don can stay with her while we take care of things at the power plant."
"Sounds good," said Raph. He hauled Donnie to his feet and half-carried him back to the van. Mikey, for once in his life, showed some tact and stopped complaining as they climbed into the back. Raph did not sit down until sure that Donnie was safely strapped in.
"Thanks," Donnie whispered as the van kicked back into gear.
Raph patted his head. "Back atcha, bro. Right back atcha."
Cautiously, gently, Leatherhead set Donatello on the couch where Splinter directed. Immediately, Raphael and Leonardo covered him with a blanket that Leatherhead could have sworn had not been there less than a minute before. Donatello stirred but did not wake up. For almost a full minute they watched him, grinning and apprehensive.
"Someone should stay with him," said Leonardo. "Just for tonight. Just in case."
"I'll do it," said Raphael. "I'm not tired anyway."
"You should get some sleep, all the same," said Leatherhead. "Infiltrating the Foot stronghold could not have been an easy task. I will monitor him while you rest."
"We could not ask that of you," said Splinter. "You have already done too much on our behalf. I will stay with my son."
They looked at each other. No one knew what to say.
The second before Leonardo opened his mouth to ask where Michelangelo had gone, he appeared behind them, holding in his arms a pillow, a sleeping bag and a teddy bear.
"Scuse me," he said to Raphael, who backed up out of sheer surprise. Laying the sleeping bag across the floor in front of the couch, he sat down, and looked at Donatello.
"If you need anything," he said. "We'll be right here, kay?"
Donatello slept on. Michelangelo looked at the four standing figures, all of whom were staring at him.
"What?" he said. "I've always slept with a teddy bear. You knew that. And you," he said, pointing to Raphael, "had better. Not. Snore. I will kick you, sleeping or otherwise."
Leonardo and Raphael looked at each other.
It was late in the afternoon when Donatello finally opened his eyes. The rest of his sons off practicing, fixing up the new lair or otherwise engaged, Master Splinter sat next to the couch and brushed Donatello's forehead with his paw. Donatello squinted; without his mask on he looked many years younger.
"Sensei?" he whispered. Splinter smiled.
"How do you feel, my son?"
Donatello closed his eyes. "In all honesty? Like I just attempted to dismantle Foot Central single-handed."
Splinter flinched at words "Foot Central" but Donatello didn't appear to notice. "Leatherhead told us that you would feel this way. The effects of the Outbreak virus have been extremely damaging. Recovery will take time."
"Now that the crisis is over," said Donatello, opening his eyes and shifting so that he lay on his side, facing Splinter, "I guess I have more of that now." He smiled lamely, but his expression faltered when he caught his sensei's knowing glare. He winced and closed his eyes again. "Here it comes," he said. "You're going to lecture me, aren't you? About the importance of taking care of myself?"
"I don't have to," Splinter replied. "If my understanding is correct, you have already heard this talk from each of your brothers. Leatherhead as well."
"Then," said Splinter, "you do not need to hear it from me. All I can do is hope that your boundless ingenuity and remarkable intelligence will allow you to absorb what they have been trying to tell you."
"I think I get it by now," said Donatello wryly. "I'm really sorry for all the trouble I caused."
Splinter sighed. "And here is your greatest shortcoming, my son." Donatello opened his eyes, taken aback. "Your mistake is not what you have done to us, but what you have done to yourself. Until you understand this, you have not gotten the message."
Donatello blinked. For several seconds, he was silent.
"I just," he said, his voice quiet, wavering. "…didn't know what else to do. It felt like I was stuck, like I didn't have a choice."
"You always have a choice, my son," said Splinter. "Although at times, the right choice might be difficult to see. In this, you might be lucky. I suspect that the next few weeks will be a good lesson for you, my son."
"Weeks?" said Donatello, his eyes round. "I can't rest for weeks. What about…" he trailed off. When Master Splinter didn't respond, he sighed.
"Yes," he said, "I expect they will."
Every set of eyes, including Leo's, which was disturbing given that he was in the pilot's seat, had fixated on him. They were all giving him those silly grins they always had after situations that seemed doomed to end miserably had, despite seventeen quadrillion-to-one odds, turned out right. They looked almost as exhausted as he felt.
Embarrassed and a little ashamed, Don moved his gaze to the floor. What had he just put them through?
Suddenly, it was Splinter's hand gripping his arm. "Come, my son," he said. "You should rest."
Donnie nodded; somewhere between exhaustion and shame he had been rendered unable to speak. Wordlessly, like a child being led by the hand, he let Splinter steer him into one of the seats. Sitting felt wonderful.
Michelangelo was retrieving something from a compartment overhead. He emerged with a pillow, a blanket, and that I-can't-believe-we-managed-to-get-out-of-this-one-alive grin.
"I put these in here on the way over," he explained. "I figured you'd want them when you…when you got better. Now," he said, surveying the rest of the helicopter with an amusingly serious glare that only Mikey could pull off, "if I were a sudden and convenient collapsible bed-like thing, where would I be?" He looked at Donnie suspiciously. "I know you built one in here bro. You know us too well not to."
Don shook his head. "I don't need one. I'm okay."
"Dude," said Mikey. "Not the question."
Don smiled, "Touche. It's in the far corner." With brief direction and Leatherhead's help, Mikey managed to set up a small but functional bed. They and Master Splinter helped Donnie into it, before covering him with the blanket and strapping him in. The baby's treatment was humiliating, but every second that passed seemed to drain him of energy, until he couldn't even muster the will to protest.
He could feel the five sets of eyes focused on him. Donnie looked around, and sure enough, even Leo was still looking his way. No one was moving. The sight would have been frightening under different circumstances.
"I'm okay," he told them in a voice that was suddenly hoarse and quiet. "Just tired." Leonardo grinned and – finally, for it would have been more than ironic to die in an easily-avoided helicopter crash less than a half an our after a miraculous return to the world of the living – turned around.
Splinter sat next to him. "Rest, now, my son," he said, patting Donatello's shoulder. "You need it."
"Sleep well, Donnie," said Raph.
"Thanks guys," Donnie murmured, closing his eyes. "For bringing me back. Thanks."
Somebody said something in reply, but Don fell asleep almost immediately and didn't hear it.