A/N: I've had this on my computer for a ridiculously long time, and am only now getting around to finishing and posting it.
You know, I don't believe that Don couldn't have known what was happening to him when he got sick. He's too smart for that. Fortunately, Raph agrees with me.
This fits rather nicely with my other story "Those Moments" but isn't really a sequel, and can be read with out, but if you want it to be a sequel I suppose it kind of can.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Raph confronts Don as to why he didn't tell them what was going on when he was ill, and learns more about his younger brother than he ever wanted to. [Post-Good Genes].
What Dreams May Come
"To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come"
--William Shakespeare, "Hamlet"
If Leo knew what he was about to do, their 'fearless leader' would probably have knocked him as soundly about the head as Raph normally did Mikey. He'd told Raph countless times over the last few days that Donnie still needed more rest. That an incredible amount of stress had been placed on his body and it was still trying to recover from it.
Looking at his younger brother now, curled up on his side to try and better fit on the couch—the place he was 'resting' on so they could all keep an eye on him periodically—Raphael thought that Leo was probably right. Don still looked exhausted, shivering now and then in spite of the many blankets piled on top of him, and twitching fitfully in his sleep. The young turtle still did need all the rest he could get.
There was something eating away at the brash ninja, though. A thought that had entered his head, and wouldn't leave it. Loud music and training hadn't gotten rid of it. Taking his frustration out on the punching bag had served to make it the only thought in his head. He wasn't going to get any peace until the question had been answered, and there was only one turtle in the world that could give him that.
And, Raph knew, Donnie was more likely to talk truthfully when he was too tired to pull that little stunt he usually did of turning the conversation on you. If he waited until Donatello had fully recovered, Don would find a way to manipulate the conversation away from himself and dig for the reason why the idea bothered Raph as much as it did and making him forget what he'd asked in the first place.
Don was a sneaky little bastard like that, and Raph figured his trick was simply turn about.
The olive turtle muttered a bit in his sleep as Raph sat down on the arm of the couch, but didn't fully wake. That alone proved how tired he was; Don was normally a very light sleeper even for a ninja, and for a moment Raph hesitated. He didn't want to disturb his brother, really, but as he watched his brother's beak move in inaudible whispers he steeled himself. Don's being like this was why he had to ask in the first place!
The thought that he was really doing this to help his quietest brother allowed the red banded turtle to reach out and gently shake his brother's shoulder. "Hey. Don. Wake-up."
Amber eyes opened half-way and blinked blurrily, not seeming to register exactly what was going on. "Hm? Raph? 'S it breakfast time already?"
Raphael allowed himself a half-smile as his still mostly asleep younger brother rolled onto his shell to see him better. "Not yet, brainiac. I jus' wanted to talk to ya'."
"Oh." Don made a half hearted attempt to sit up, but seemed to change his mind halfway through."You okay, Raph? You look troubled."
"I'm thinkin' too much." Raph shrugged, though more to himself then Don. He was never on to make small talk, so he might as well get to the point so they both could go back to sleep. "Why didn't you tell us you were getting sick, Don?"
If the younger turtle was surprised, he didn't show it. "If I had told you, what could you have done?"
"Not left ya at April's, fer one." It was almost ridiculous how often their friend had to pay for damage caused by the four of them. Usually Raph felt somewhat better about it because she was annoyed with them for weeks afterward, but this time all she'd done was consistently ask them how Don was.
Aside from the guilt about wrecking some of her house, again, and nearly getting her boyfriend eaten, probably again, there was that moment of horrible moment of realization he'd had. Donnie had been in trouble, had needed him—them—and they had left him behind. To what? To chase some stupid bugs? Chances weren't high that anything would have been different if they'd been there, but that didn't change the fact that they'd abandoned their brother when he needed them the most.
Don looked down fiddling with his hands on his stomach. "I hadn't expected anything to happen so soon. At the rate I was tracking, I thought I had a few months left. I guess when Renet brought us back in time; my body hadn't gone back to the way it had been like I'd hoped. I hadn't had the time to run another test."
"Hold on a second, Don. Trackin'?" He knew that Donnie had known he was ill, and had probably guessed what the source was. Tracking was another level of awareness entirely. It meant he'd known what would happen, and how soon. And more importantly…"you knew it was killin' ya."
It wasn't a question, and the way Donatello turned his head away was the only confirmation Raph really needed.
Anger surged through his system, and Raphael clenched his fists so tight he was nearly drawing blood. Some things made perfect sense, now. Like how Donnie had been trying to teach him how to do repairs around the lair for weeks now. Why his younger brother had been devoting all his free time to hanging out with Mikey, or spending time with Leo, or quietly sitting by Master Splinter while the genius fiddled with something. Inviting April down to help with projects he really could have handled just fine on his own. Voluntarily watching sports with him and Casey.
He'd assumed that Donnie just gotten tired of being so anti-social all the time. Now Raph felt sick. "You knew you were dyin' and you didn't tell us?"
"And have you guys worry about every little sneeze?" Donnie was looking up at him, dark eyes suddenly defiant. "There was nothing you guys could do about it. I didn't want you to freak out or over react."
"What would we have done if we'd gotten up one mornin' to find you dead, huh? Did you even think about that?"
Donnie looked like someone had slapped him, but Raph didn't care. He should feel bad. Because…because…because now he couldn't stop imagining how that would have been. He would have been sent to wake Don up; he was always the one to do it. He would have gone in, and tried, but then realize Donnie wasn't breathing. He'd yell for the rest of the family, and they'd come running, but there would be nothing any of them could do.
It felt like someone had splashed a bucket of cold water on his head, and Raph could only stare at his brother, and the brown eyes that were looking evenly back at him. "That's what you what you hoped would happen."
"It was better than the alternative. I'd seen the monsters, Raph. The ones even sentient beings became." Donnie shuddered at this. He claimed not to remember anything that had happened, but with all these new realizations, Raph was starting to doubt that. "I didn't want you guys to have to put me down, if that happened."
Raph shuddered. That was a whole different set of nightmares; ones he knew Leo was having, that Raphael would have when he allowed himself to fall asleep. It had been a real possibility, and something they might have done without realizing it if they'd taken him back home instead of to April's like Leo had wanted to.
"I was hoping my original mutation would over power it, or it would over power me before the actual mutation happened. Leatherhead and I finding a cure would have been ideal, but I knew it was taking too long." Don was sitting up now, studying his toes with his knees pulled up to his chest.
The oldest of the pair took a breath and held it, trying to count backwards from ten. Donnie had been suffering. How could he not have been? Knowing his death was approaching, in one way or another, but not telling a soul, how could he not have been suffering? Don had been going through hell right under their noses and none of them had noticed. HE hadn't noticed.
Of the four of them, Raph was probably the one that could claim to be closest to Don. Sure, they had vastly different personalities, but the shared a love for machines. This was more than the other two could say. And, when Donnie dumbed himself down a few grade levels, Raph could even understand what he was saying. About half the time, anyway.
He knew, more than the others, what to expect from Donnie. He also knew what not to expect, which was why he was the one that saved Don's shell more often than not. He'd seen the odd behavior, and easily dismissed it. Didn't even question. How could he not have thought to even ask what was up?
"Donnie, you didn't…" What the shell was he supposed to say here. This sentimental brotherly crap was Don's department, or Leo's, but not his. "I would rather have known what was comin'. Even if it meant feelin' helpless we could have tried."
"And ended up at Bishop's place that much sooner. Not a chance." Donatello was glaring at him now, arms folded over his plastron. "If I'd had any say in it, you guys would have let me die instead of risking your shells like you did."
The truly scary part was that Raph now understood just how serious Donnie was about that.
They'd all give their lives to protect another member of their family. It was some kind of rule between them. You just didn't hesitate. But there was also an unspoken rule that you had to save more. If you could save one brother but might hurt the other two, you didn't do it.
All three of them entering the Foot Tower for the chance that they might be able to save one brother was unheard of. But this was Donnie. Even Mikey, who was technically younger, always wanted to save Don.
It was because Donatello wasn't made to be a ninja. He didn't like fighting, like they did. He cherished and protect life, all life. To him it was a miracle that science could never fully replicate, and was therefore something precious. Raph knew that he, at least, felt that someone who could believe that was worth protecting no matter the cost. They were just too rare in this world.
Don, of course, didn't see it that way. Of the four of them, he probably had the biggest self confidence issues. And coming from mutant turtles, that was saying quite a bit.
"After a while," Donnie looked far away as he spoke, "it wasn't so bad. I'd sort of convinced myself that it would, at least, not be a painful death. And there was no one to blame but myself for it."
"I pushed you inta it." It seemed important to point this out. Not that Raph really thought he was to blame either—there was no where he could have shoved Donnie that would have kept him out of the reach of all the tentacles—but Raph needed to take some of the world off Don's shoulders. At least for tonight.
Don just smiled at him. That smile that he had where you just knew Don was reading every thought you had, and he understood them even if he didn't agree. "True though that statement is, we both know the reasons you had to save me in the first place. It was my fault, but I was okay with that. Better me than anyone else."
"How do yah figure?" Raph moved from his spot on the edge of the couch to the cushions by Don's feet. "Out of all of us, you do the most around here. We depend on yah, Don, you know that. We'd fall apart without yah."
The younger turtle flinched. It probably wasn't—no, it wasn't—fair of Raph to bring up what he knew Don had experienced in his dark future, but if Donnie hadn't learned that lesson then, he never would.
"I was trying to fix it…"
"I know." Too much, too well, too late.
"I didn't want to die, you know." Donnie was looking at him, a quirky sort of half smile on his face that just wasn't right at all. "I kept telling myself that 'death was but the next great adventure'. Somehow, that's less comforting to me. I'm more the homebody type myself."
"You're not going to die." Not now or ever, if Raph had any say about it. Leastwise, not before Raph himself did. "I just want to…go to sleep, braniac."
Somehow, like he always did, Don knew what he was really trying to say. The smile softened, but instead of lying on the pillows again like Raph thought he would, his little brother curled up with his head in his lap. They stayed like that for a long time, well after Don had fallen asleep and Raph's feet had joined him in slumber land.
He just couldn't leave. Not yet. Not until he was sure that Don wasn't going to fade away the minute he was out of sight. Because that would be so like Donnie. To simply disappear.