A/N: Thank you all so much for sticking with me through this entire story. It was a great adventure, and I'm glad you all enjoyed it. This fiction hit so many milestones for me! I appreciate it, and once more, thank you. J
"Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago - the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider... It doesn't seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we've traveled."
-Jane Mersky Leder
He couldn't sleep, not without having his brothers in the same room. For once, he and Raph didn't argue, and they used each others silent companionship to watch over the two younger brothers. They'd nearly lost them, ran out of time. If they hadn't been as quick as they were, would they have lost Mikey, Don? Both? It was a thought that neither of them even wanted to think about.
Leonardo tilted his head up, breaking out of his thoughts at Raphael's voice. "Hm? What is it Raph?"
"Ther' okay." Raphael walked into the room, setting a cup of hot chocolate down in front of his brother, and taking his own seat.
"I know that… it's just, what if we had been too late?" Leonardo trailed off, eyes darting down to the hot cup in his hands. It was that thought that wouldn't leave him alone. All these 'what ifs'. It was driving him insane, but, he found it surprisingly easy to tell Raph about his problem. Maybe this ordeal had brought them closer together. He wouldn't want to give the closeness up for anything, but this wasn't the way he'd wanted to gain it.
There was a small grunt, and Leo looked up at Raph's small smirk.
"Ferget 'bout all these 'what ifs', Leo. Ya ain't the only one ya know."
Leo blinked slowly in comprehension. "You too? The same ones?"
He was shocked at the shake of his brother's head.
"No Leo, my 'what ifs' are different. I keep t'inkin', what if not killin' Stockman brings us more trouble? I know dat I stabbed 'im through the knees, but he's come back from worse. I don' wanna be the reason dat something' else goes wrong. What if he goes afta you next?"
It was nice, hearing his younger brother's thoughts, knowing that they weren't being kept locked inside, but it also saddened him that Raph would even think to place any kind of blame on himself.
"In your words, 'No Raph'."
He gave a small smile as Raphael looked up, the molten amber locking with his own chocolate brown.
"You did the right thing, in not killing Stockman. You're not a killer Raph, and even though you act tough, rowdy even, you will never be a killer. You aren't the type. You can say you'll kill him, but I know that you never could."
Leo offered his brother a small smile at the slightly shocked look on Raph's face. "And you know it's true as well."
Raphael let out a soft snort, rolling his eyes. "Yer cheesy… but t'anks."
Two days, that's it, that's all they'd been gone for. The 'game' had only lasted a day, but they'd been trapped in those 'caskets' for a little over two days.
Donatello paced in his lab, eyes darting over to his younger brother lying still in the cot. He'd woken up himself about half a day ago, much to the relief of his older brothers, which is exactly why they weren't in the room. He'd never seen them look so exhausted, and if it wasn't for his powers of 'persuasion', he was sure they'd still be here in the room.
He could watch Mikey on his own, it was still a part of his promise. The others needed rest, and as far as he was concerned, he'd rested enough . They'd been asleep for three days since they got home. He hardly remembered crawling into bed, his mind a jilted blur. It was hardly recognizable to even himself. It wasn't something he was pleased with, but it was how it was.
Donatello chuckled softly to himself, lines of worry creasing his brow. This was sad, and he didn't know what to do. Just how long had his brother been out, 'dead'? The lack of oxygen to the brain, how badly had it affected his brother?
He'd done the calculations himself, thinking back hard to exactly how long Mikey had been oxygen depraved, coupled with the water. At the worst, permanent brain damage, and at the best… no damage at all. Of course he was hoping for latter, he would feel horribly guilty if his brother was stuck with brain damage because he hadn't sensed their attackers.
Don walked closer and took a seat, gently brushing his large fingers over his brother's brow. "Come on Mikey, I know I've already reminded you about our promise… but I can't help but remind you again. You hate breaking promises, remember? We said we'd get out of there, and we'd be okay. If you have any kind of injury Mikey, you're not 'fine'. So don't start lying now."
He lay his head down, resting it on the soft bedding of the cot, eyes slowly drifting shut. He trailed his hand down and grasped the lighter coloured one in a tight grip.
Donatello opened his eyes, groggily looking around. He looked up, seeing lids fluttering. "Mikey…?"
Blue orbs clouded with sleep, slowly showed themselves.
His voice was raspy, and Don quickly noted that it was due to the lack of water. "Don't talk Mikey, I'll be right back with a glass of water, okay?"
As Mikey moved to open his mouth in response, Don chuckled. "I said no talking, Mikey. Just nod."
He gave a smile at the nod, and quickly turned back to doing what he had been before. He moved quickly over towards the small sink in the corner of their makeshift 'infirmary'.
After filling up a cup of water, he grabbed a straw and brought it over. "Drink slowly Mike, I don't want you to throw it up."
Mikey complied, taking small sips as directed, having had the water taken away from him plenty of times before the last few times he'd been sick and in need of water.
"I'm going to go and get Leo and Raph, okay?"
Mikey gave a slight grin and nodded in an exaggerated fashion, ignoring the comment of 'goof' as his brother left to fetch the others.
He was home, and the familiar smell that surrounded him, gave comfort. Next time, he'd make sure to be more aware, and he wouldn't let his brother get caught trying to protect him. That was something he would definitely work on to improve.
He didn't know what it was, but the faces of his brothers walking in the door, all three of them together, brought a smile to his face. They were all together again, they were a family again. He just couldn't wait until he got out of this stupid cot and back on his feet.
Confusion enveloped him as Leo brought out Monopoly. He'd been bugging them to play that for weeks, but why now? Why would Leo just suddenly bring it out now?
"I'm sorry Mikey, this was the whole reason you didn't ask either Raph or I to go with you two. I promise that we won't just brush you off like that, and if we ever do, don't be afraid to pester us. You know I'll remember." Leo offered an apologetic smile.
Mikey laughed, slowly setting up the game pieces. The laughter in the room was contagious, and he allowed himself to be caught up in it.
Now which version did they want? Better to ask, then to pick wrong, right?
"How do you want to play?"
Done! Woot~! It's been a great ride guys, thanks so much for everything! :D