An Upward Spiral

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I.

Don hesitates when they come in view of the chopper.

"A helicopter? Where are we?"

"New Mexico," Raph says bluntly.

"New Mexico?" Don repeats, as though this were completely implausible, which Raph supposes it sort of is.

He sleeps all the way back to New York.

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II.

Don lies on the couch, contemplating the ceiling forty feet above.

"I don't remember."

Hunger.

Water rising around his body.

It seems to take a long time to cover his head.

The words echo back to him, empty, bringing only confusion.

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III.

He feels something every time he looks at Mikey. A vague queasiness he can't put his finger on.

He doesn't know why.

He thinks it has something to do with the way Mike won't come nearer to him than arm's-length, and even then just long enough to give him something or take something back.

But Mike won't say.

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IV.

He remembers being sick. He remembers his brothers leaving him at April's. He remembers how ridiculous Casey looked in that suit.

After that, blackness.

A flash of silver. Pain. His body heavier than he had ever known.

And then his brothers again, and no one would tell him what had happened.

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V.

He throws his bo across the room.

"It's not fair!"

Splinter watches him, outwardly unmoved, but his inner sadness is apparent.

"It's not fair," he repeats, because if he can't have the satisfaction of knowledge then he at least wants the consolation of agreement.

Splinter's reply is calm, almost clinical. "It is not the first time you have had to fight to regain your strength, Donatello."

"No," he says bitterly. "But this time I don't even know how I lost it."

.

VI.

He adopts a technique from his skittish brother.

"Tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me."

Raph whirls on him. "Ya turned into a monster, ya tried to eat Mikey's leg, and Leo shot ya with enough tranquilizers to kill an elephant." His eyes widen, and he runs a hand down his face. "Damnit, Donnie..."

Don stands there, pale, in shock.

And flees to his lab.

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VII.

It had always been a place of refuge.

Now, for the first time, Donatello feels like an experiment amidst his own equipment.

Splinter finds him surrounded by vials of his own blood, and gently takes his son's shaking fingers from a device he cannot name.

"Now it's just blood loss," Donatello gasps out, before collapsing bonelessly to the floor.

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VIII.

When he comes to, in his infirmary, Splinter tells him everything.

For the rest of the day Raphael holds him there with the threat of restraints and the weight of guilt.

As if the renewed weakness in his limbs isn't enough.

It was worth it.

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IX.

When he gets back to his lab, the vials are gone.

"Where are they?" he demands.

"We put 'em back in ya, dumbass," Raph replies.

He starts opening drawers.

"Took 'em away," Raph grunts.

He opens cabinets, frantically. "One. Just one."

"Donnie."

He stops, looks over his shoulder.

Raph is shaking all over. "Don't fucking do this to us."

His hand slides from the doorpull, until there's just one finger hanging in the metal loop. "Do it for me?"

There's a long pause.

"I'll get Leo."

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X.

Leo insists on "supervising" while Don peers through his microscope and scribbles notes on his pad.

("Like a fucking addict," Don had heard Raph whisper. "Don't take your eyes off him.")

He ignores his brother's gaze boring through the back of his head, and focuses on finding his answers.

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XI.

Whatever Don sees in the blood brings him a measure of comfort, and he falls asleep with one hand still on the objective.

Leo isn't sure whether the relief or the residual exhaustion is more responsible for this sudden sleep. He does know that Don would certainly be more comfortable elsewhere, but over a lifetime of such incidents he's learned better than to try to move him.

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XII.

Don's study of his blood, his scientific scrying, brings psychological healing, and physical recovery soon follows. He eats what's put in front of him, rests when he's told to, and trains without complaint.

Mike, who only ever feels healed when strength returns to his limbs, doesn't understand how Don can be so calm in the mere promise of its coming, but this is one transformation he's glad to see in his brother.

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XIII.

When Don, clear-eyed and sane, tells them he's done resting, they listen.

It's good to have him back.