Disclaimer: Does anyone have any idea of how much money I would make if I did own them? That would be insane…
Author's Notes: Sorry about the massive delay in posting. This chapter absolutely refused to be written. Seriously, I think completely rewrote it several times but it's finally done. Hopefully the rest of this story won't be nearly as painful.
And the Pieces Fall Together
Chapter Six: Home at Last
I am not a runner, never have been and I never will be. I can sprint -anyone can sprint- but being able to string out your energy for long periods of time and to stay at the same pace? Nope. I can't do that. Give me a bike any day. My kingdom for a bike. However, I don't think I could navigate a bike through the sewers no matter how well I know it. I guess I am out of luck.
Still, even if I had to run several thousand miles, I'd do it just for this. They found him. Donatello is still alive. I was beginning to think that we would never figure out what had happened to him. That he was lost to us forever. I don't think that I will ever be able to admit that to anyone. Even Casey. It was too close to becoming a reality as it was.
It's second nature moving through these tunnels. I don't even think of it as I hop over a puddle that's been there since I first started coming down this way. I barely even notice the smell anymore, a combination of mildew and mold. It's only when I first enter the sewers through the secret access the turtles made in the basement that I even notice the hint of raw sewage anymore. The whole trip seemed to fly by and before I knew it, I was at the door to the lair, waiting impatiently for it to open.
Master Splinter was waiting at the foot of the stairs, drooping slightly when he realized it was me, but the joy that had been missing from his eyes was back again. I hadn't realized how much I had missed it. He smiled at me as I panted, "I thought you were working more on your endurance, Miss O'Neil."
"Still need to work on it," I managed to get out in one breath as I walked down the staircase to join him. I think I may have pulled something. "It's better than it was."
The old rat hummed knowingly, "I will have to take your word for it."
I didn't know what else to say or even what could be said. We both stood there, looking up at the doorway, waiting in the suffocating silence for the four turtles and Casey to come through the door. All four of them.
I am trying to be patient but it's hard. I kept shifting back and forth and glancing over at the clock even thirty seconds or so. Time seemed to slow to a crawl and the aching muscles in my legs did nothing to help improve my mood. I try several focusing on my breathing, forcing myself to calm down like Splinter showed me.
Speaking of Splinter, I'm surprised that he doesn't seem excited or anything. He's just standing there, breathing normally and acting like this sort of thing happens all the time. I guess that he is use to waiting for them to come home. As far as I know, he's only left the lair to go with them a handful of times and usually that was only during really dangerous missions that almost always involved dealing with the Shredder.
I need to get my mind off this. I need to distract myself from looking at the clock so much. Think, April, think. What can you think about that will distract you from all this?
Even though I was trying to think of anything but what was happening, I couldn't help but relive the past few days. I had spent most of it glued to the computer, searching the net and media sites trying to find any clues that would lead to where Donnie was. I couldn't even remember the number of times that Casey would be hovering over me trying to convince me to eat something or to get some rest. It was so sweet of him because I know that I wasn't the easiest person to look after. I can be downright stubborn and that's putting it mildly.
I'll have to do something special for him later.
I thought that he had fallen asleep on the couch and had woken up having a dream or something when I had heard him first shout about Donnie. I couldn't believe it was real even after I heard the loud thump which turned out to be a thrown book and Casey calling for him to come back. I think my jaw was on the stairs as he grabbed his hockey bag and mask while telling me to call the guys. I was barely even able to call out for him to be careful before I was rushing back up the stairs to the computer desk where I had left my phone.
Talk about a whirlwind conversation, I don't think I even gave Leo a chance to say 'hello' before I was talking, "Leo! Donatello was just here! Casey's chasing him, he said something about Donatello panicking and running away!" At least that's what I think I said. Leo barely even responded to me, yelling for Mikey and Raph to join him as they left the lair to catch up with Casey and Don.
I had stood there in the apartment for a moment wondering what to do before I was heading for the door. I knew that the guys would take him home, back to the lair, and there was a chance that Raph might need my help. Donnie was still in the process of teaching him how to use everything in the little medical ward he had made in the corner of his lab.
Besides, I wanted to see him.
Splinter suddenly stood more upright next to me. I turned my head to look at him only to have the door to the lair open. Mikey came scampering in, trying to look behind him while not tripping over himself, and right behind him came Raphael, carrying Donnie draped over his arms. Casey and Leo brought up the rear but I was barely paying them any attention other than to make sure they were alright as I looked over Donnie as best as I could.
He's home at last.
He's breathing wrong. I could tell by the way his breath seemed to hitch slightly with every inhale. Something is wrong with his ribs. It didn't appear to be anything to serious from just that quick look but it was enough to know that it wasn't serious. Donatello was alive and back again.
Oh crap, my eyes are watering up.
"My son," Master Splinter is reaching for Donnie even as Raph carries him down the stairs and brings him right up to him. Raph even stoops slightly so it's easier for Splinter to see him. He looks like he's asleep. "My son," oh Splinter… I'm going to cry at this rate.
"Mikey, grab the first aid kit off the bench," Raphael said softly as everyone gathers around him and Donnie. "I'm going to put him on the couch."
I step aside, even though it is reluctantly, to allow Raph to pass me. Master Splinter steps off to his side but keeps pace with him as he heads for the couch in the living room. I can't take my eyes off them as Raph navigates around the armchair and the end of the sofa. I can't believe he is really back.
An arm over my shoulders finally breaks the odd daze I found myself in. Casey is looking at me concerned even as he pulls me closer to him in a one armed hug. With his free hand he wipes at the tears I hadn't realized were tracing down my face. "Are you okay babe?" he asks me softly as he stares into my eyes. God do I love his eyes.
"I'm just," I rub at my eyes a bit before looking back up at him. "I'm just so glad he's alright."
Casey has that look on his face that just screams that there's something he's not telling me. It's all in the way he quirks his eyebrows and can't look me in the eyes anymore. "Casey?"
"There is something wrong with him, April," Leo finally says from where he is standing next to us. I had almost forgotten that he was there watching us. "He appears to be suffering from amnesia and there's something wrong with his speech."
Now that doesn't sound good. I twist away from Casey rather reluctantly. I had been in such a rush to leave that I hadn't grabbed a jacket and while I love this tank top dearly it is not very warm. I'm going to have to see if there's an extra sweatshirt or tee shirt down here somewhere. "Amnesia?"
"He didn't recognize us at all," There's enough frustration in his voice that it wouldn't surprise me if Leo was somehow trying to figure out a way to blame himself for Donatello's memory loss. "About the only one who had any luck getting near him was Raph and even that was short lived."
There are so many things that could cause memory loss. I step out of the way slightly as Mikey hurries for the couch with an ice pack in his hands. Donatello's subconscious could be trying to protect him from a traumatic event or he could have been hit really hard on the head or maybe a form of memory suppressing drug. Oh please let it not be that. I wouldn't even have an idea of where to start looking. If it comes down to that I might be able to get a small sample from his blood but that will only give me an idea of what type of drug it is and there is a high chance that his body has already broken down a good part of the medication only leaving the affects.
Okay, slow down April and start at the beginning. I look up from where I had been staring blankly at the floor and let the hand that had been holding my chin lightly fall away. "What's wrong with his speech?" That may be a clue as to what happened to him.
"The words are all messed up, like he's speaking a different language or something," Odd but then Casey said something about that earlier too.
"It's no language I've ever heard," Leonardo frowns.
If there are problems with memory and speech there is a really high chance that Donatello suffered from some kind of blunt force trauma to the head. I spin on my heel and start for the couch. If Donatello is suffering from a concussion then we need to check on him now.
Raphael has come a long way in regards to his medical training. He's already wrapped Donatello's ribs and is holding up Donnie's ankle while Mikey packs pillows underneath it to help it stay elevated. The ice pack that had been in his hand earlier was wrapped in a hand towel loosely tied around Donnie's ankle.
I smile at him -not that he was really paying any attention to me- and then look over Donnie's head for anything out of the ordinary. I'm not seeing anything but that could hardly mean anything. I'm just about to reach up to start running my fingers over Don's skull when Raph speaks up.
"I already checked. Whatever is wrong with him it ain't from a concussion."
I should have figured that Raph had already checked him over. I nod my head, "And what about his eyes?"
Raph huffed at me but continued regardless of what he was thinking. "Rolled back in his head. Don's been given some hard knocks but it's nothing that is life threatening. His most serious injuries are the cracked ribs and sprained ankle."
He didn't say anything about Don's amnesia or inability to speak correctly. He didn't have too. That was something that was going to take a bit of research to figure out what was wrong with him. Especially since whatever was wrong with him must have come from something else like a drug. I am not looking forward for the amount of bookwork this is shaping up to be.
I head towards Don's lab and the small research area right outside of it. This is going to be a daunting task, never mind the fact that I'm not even sure where to begin, I don't know how the various human medicines would react with a mutated turtles DNA. I know Don has to modify penicillin and morphine so that it actual works with their genetic codes but I'm really not sure what he does. Maybe that's why Don isn't making any sense. It might be a side effect.
I start grabbing at every book on the shelf on medical procedures, biology and turtle physiology. I didn't realize that Leo had followed me over to the book shelf but he silently offered his help, taking the books from my hands and stack them up in the crook of his arm. I can practically feel how much he wants to help and I can feel how upset he is knowing he can't do anything to help.
He follows me back to the table like a lost puppy. It's daunting to know that I am the best hope that Donatello has to getting better. I wish that Honeycutt or Leatherhead were around. They could at least help me piece together this jigsaw puzzle. Wish I knew where they were or even how to get a hold of them and ask for help. I think that Don said something about them being back at the end of the month from their sojourn into space with the Utroms. I wish it was sooner. I don't know much of anything about the mutagen. I don't understand how the chemicals in that stuff changed them to what they are. I don't even know if I'm just going to make this worse by trying to be helpful. I could possible kill…
I force myself to take a deep breath as I reach for the first book Leo set on the table next to me. Maybe it's something physical. I may just be jumping to conclusions. I need to slow down and think. Don's counting on me. His family is counting on me. I need to be careful and think through everything that I can before acting on it.
It's what Donatello would do.
I feel like I have read each and every one of these books cover to cover at least twice by now and I don't have a clue of what could be wrong with Donnie. Everything that I can find in the turtle anatomy book is saying that sick turtles should be taken to a veterinarian for treatment. That really doesn't help me but I doubt that anyone has had to deal with a turtle suffering from amnesia and an unknown drug.
I know that Don figured out how to give out meds to him and his brothers but I don't know how he modifies it. Neither does Raph. He can tell me where they all are but Donnie was the only one who 'fixed that stuff up' for them to use. Wish he had wrote down what he did to things before he used them.
"Donatello, my son, do you hear me?" Did I just hear Master Splinter right? Donnie's awake? "Donatello? April, Donatello is awake. How do you feel my son?"
I've barely even stood up off the stool I have been perched on for the past several hours before a scream of pure fear rings throughout the lair. I freeze and watch as Don struggles against the blankets he's wrapped in and then up he's up and over the back of the couch watching Splinter worriedly. He really does have amnesia. Poor Master Splinter, he looks heart broken.
"Donnie," Leo looks lost which is not an expression that I'm use to seeing on his face. Donatello is looking at him and I can't help but feel my dismay grow. His eyes hold nothing of the kind warmth that Don use to have. He looks more like he's sizing Leo up and gauging him as a potential threat or not. He turns that same calculating gaze on Casey. This is horrible. I shift slightly on the stool. He doesn't even know he's safe.
My movement attracted his gaze to me but instead of sizing me up, he looks confused. That doesn't last long before he gets this almost dopey eyed look as he stares at me. Maybe seeing me has triggered some kind of memory? "Do you know who I am, Don?"
He stares at me for a moment longing before his expression changes to wary and curious. He looks around the lair as if seeing it for the first time. "Definitely amnesia."
"Told you," Dammit Casey, now is not the time to play the 'I told you so game'.
After I had shot Casey an annoying glare, I go back to watching Don. He definitely isn't showing any recognition of the lair or of Mikey as his brother gives him some water to drink. It hurts to see that Don is actually defensive around him. That's his little brother. His only little brother. It's not right…
Speaking of not being right, "Mikey, can you get him to say something? I want to hear this scrambled language he's speaking."
"Gottcha, April." It would figure that Mikey would do charades to 'talk' to Donatello. Doesn't look like Donnie has a clue of what he is trying to say. He finishes the glass of water and studies Mikey's movements. It reminds me of all the times that I walked into his lab when he was working on some kind of delicate electronic that required all his focus and attention. It's a small glimmer of hope that the Don we know isn't completely lost. "Talk, Don. April wants to hear you talk."
There is a moment of silence before Mikey looks over at me apologetically, "Any ideas? I'm open to suggestions." I'm really not sure of what else could work. Even though it looks odd, charades are probably our be-
Leo sighs as he turns to me, "Like I was saying earlier, his words are messed up, like the letters are all jumbled together somehow. I could try and duplicate them but I do-
"Mb rbv fcbt tipw H'd xprhcj?" What the hell? Is that what Leo is talking about? "Gvmjhcj xybd rbvy lsaylxxhbc wipw'x nbw jbhcj wb tbyf." And now he's rubbing at his head like he used to do when he had a headache coming on. Is talking somehow hurting him more?
"My son…" Poor Master Splinter. I can only imagine what he is going through right now. I'm upset enough that I am fighting tears and Don is only a good friend. I wish there was something more that I could do to help him –help everyone in this unorthodox family- get through this easier.
There is one thing I can do. I can figure out what is wrong with him and how best to treat him. Hopefully I can find a treatment that will restore him to normal again. "Okay, so he's not speaking in another language," I'm thinking out loud as I pull the only book that could have a possible answer towards me. There is something mentally wrong with him, almost as if part of his brain isn't communicating correctly to another part. It's possible, but I don't know enough about the brain to be able to piece together what it may be. This book on the neuroscience should at least give me a better on what could be going wrong.
"Shell!" I nearly jump off the stool at Raph's shout. I had thought he was upstairs trying to get some rest. "We're wasting time! Let's just go find the guy who did this and make him tell us how to fix Don!" I can tell he's frustrated the way his shoulders are heaving with every breath, he's been more on edge since they got Don back to the lair then the entire time Don was missing.
His raised voice and the pointing seems to have Don on edge again. He looks startled. This is not something that Donatello needs right now. It's just added stress. Leo's getting ready to deal with Raph by the looks of how he seems to square his shoulders slightly. Master Splinter seems to be happy with just watching the confrontation that's about to happen. "Raph-"
Raph's really in a mood to be glaring at Leo like that, "Leo! Even you agree with me that we should be out there finding out who did this! And don't you dare deny it, because I know you'd be lying."
"I want to go after the Foot too Raph, but I would rather go after them knowing that Don is going to be alright."
Raph jumps off the balcony and stomps over to Leo. I've only seen a handful of their arguments before but, according to Mikey, they were legendary. Very rarely -despite Raph trying to intimated Leo with his larger bulk like he is currently doing- would it result in a physical confrontation. I have to keep repeating that to myself as Raph points an accusing finger at his older brother. "You know he's going to be alright! Look," Raph needs to stop pointing at Don. He's looking more and more confused as the argument progresses. "He's standing, thinking and trying to talk to us. He's going to be fine. Now let's go bash some Foot and get some answers!"
Leo lets out a long suffering sigh. I wonder if they were arguing about this earlier when I was reading. "Rap-"
"If you rather stay here and play nurse maid, be my guest. I'm going to get answers," I sigh and rub at my face. Raph and Casey are so alike that it's creepy. There is always a point in their arguments where they lose their tempers and storm out of the room. It's so frustrating. At least Leo doesn't lose his temper like I do.
Leo grabs his arm but only enough to get Raph to turn back to him instead of heading for the staircase. "Is he acting fine to you? He doesn't even recognize Splinter! How can you say he's fine if he can't even talk right?!" Maybe I spoke too soon about this not turning physical.
Oh god, please tell me Raph isn't going to punch Leo.
Mikey's voice is the only warning any of us get as Donatello suddenly rockets across the room and shoves Leo and Raph apart, glaring at both of them in turn for a moment. Don one time did tell me that he had broken up a fight between the two by putting himself in the middle. It works like a charm this time too, both Leo and Raph seem to deflate as a torrent of mixed up and jumbled words spill out of Donnie.
"Rbv wtb xibvemc'w ol khjiwhcj buly xvni p dhcby mlwphe. Xb tl npc'w vcmlyxwpcm lpni bwily, ohj mlpe. Tl npc khjvyl xbdlwihcj bvw hk tl pee gvxw xwpr nped, cbw ihw lpni bwily by hcxwhjpwl khjiwx thwi lpni bwhly. Vcwhe tl npc nbdl va thwi xbdlwihcj lexl, Bypcjl'x nipypmlx tbyf tlee lcbvji kby dl wb jlw wil jlclrpe hmlp bk tipw'x jbhcj bc." There's a stunned silence for a moment before Don sighs and rubs at his temples again. "Pcm cb bcl ipx p nevl bk tipw H gvxw xphm," he walks away from his still stunned older brothers and back to the couch, saying "Lsnvxl dl," as he steps passed Master Splinter. He flops on the couch and eyes his father for a moment as if expecting to be attacked.
Raphael's voice breaks the silence that seemed to have frozen us all. "Does anyone have a clue of what he just said?"
"I think he told both you and Leo off," despite everything that has been happening and is still happening, I feel a smile stretch across my face. It did sound like Don just told both Leo and Raph to stop fighting, of course that could be wishful thinking, but again it's another small glimmer of hope that Don is still himself despite the loss of memories and a speech impediment.
"H ilptm wipw," he's rubbing absent mindedly at his temples again. He's been doing that a lot more lately. Maybe his headache is getting worse? I watch as Mikey taps him on the shoulder and mime's out having a headache and offering Don aspirin. Don rubs at his cheek as he nods his head. It's good to know that he is starting to rel-
Wait, rubbing at his face and headaches are some of the first symptoms of coming down off a high. At least for some people. That means there is a good chance that whatever was injected into him is still in his bloodstream. If it was injected, "Wait a second, Mikey. I want to take a look at him first."
I should have thought about checking this earlier, I can't believe I didn't even think of it. I snatch a pen light and walk over to Don, trying not to let any of the frustration or anger show in my movements. I have a feeling that he is also using body language to gauge our emotions and I really don't want him to think I am an enemy. His pulse is accelerated at a higher rate than it should be even with him on edge. It's all but fluttering.
Aw, isn't that cute, he's blushing.
"Guess Don thinks you're cute or something, April," I'm starting to think that too, Raph. Now I know why he was staring at me when he first saw me.
"He's got good taste," oh Casey…
I get back to checking Donatello over. His pupils are large than normal but not overly so. He is definitely coming down off something as far as I can tell. I give him a moment to finish rubbing at his eyes both turning over both his arms.
He's been giving something, a lot of something. There are needle marks all over the skin just below his elbow pads. I press at them lightly, one arm at a time, only for Don to jerk away in pain. They're tender, that means that they haven't healed fully. "He has needle marks on both arms. It looks like he was hooked up to an IV in both arms." Whatever he has been shot up with it had to been given to him in the last twenty four hours or so. There should be a good chance that there is still some of the chemicals floating around in his blood stream.
Don pulls a hand out of mine and lightly touches his neck. That can't be good. I shift closer and pull his hand down so I can look at his neck. There are needle marks along the carotid artery on both side of his neck. "He also has several needle marks on his neck. I'm going to get a blood sample so I can isolate what's in his blood stream." At least I hope I can. "He's been drugged and that is probably the cause of this whole mess."
Which is what I have been afraid of this whole time and it has only been growing since to form a lump of dread in my stomach. I'm not good with genetics or physiology or chemical engineering. I'm good with machines and computers. This is going out of my areas of expertise and into an unknown field where one screw up could hurt Donnie even more than he already is. I wish we could get ahold of Leatherhead, he's good at genetics, he'd know what to do better than I ever could. About the only thing that I can do is try and figure out what he was given then try and go from there.
I can't keep jumping ahead of myself and my defeatist attitude is not doing me the least bit of good. I can do this for Don, for my surrogate family. I force myself to take a deep breath as I gather up a hypodermic needle and an antiseptic wipe. I need that blood sample before I can go any further and worry anymore.
What's the worst that could happen?