Hello! I am so sorry this chapter came so late. School and life are really eating my time up right now, and apologize so much for not getting these out as quickly as before. I hope you'll forgive me! I will try to reply to all messages and reviews within the next couple of days-I just really wanted to get this out, especially after the last episode. How cool was it?

Also, I managed to fit a bit of a psychology joke in here, for those who can catch it. It'll also hint to Donnie's age range, since I don't think it'll come up.

But thank you all for reading and supporting this. I appreciate every fav, alert, and review! It really helps to boost my drive, especially reading your guys' comments. Thank you!


Michelangelo felt it explode in his head, then smear itself in his chest and stomach. And he was sure panic was throttling him right now too, because he couldn't breathe. He tried, but nothing was working. Not his lungs, not his mouth, and certainly not his eyes. Because his eyes told him that a young Donatello sat in front of him, and that just wasn't happening.

Said illusion continued to stare at Mikey, mouth opened wide in silent horror. Then, he slowly brought his hands up to his face and stared down at the little digits. His gaze traveled up his short arms, then back down to his front. His tiny, toddler front. The purple bandana slipped off his face and fell into his lap, and all that escaped Donatello was an odd, choked sound.

"Okay, Don, I get it. Don't mess with the machine. You can stop being...I don't know, little now. How'd you even do that?" Mikey couldn't keep the tremor from his voice and his smile was crooked. Donatello looked back at Mikey and slowly shook his head, still in a frozen state of terror.

"I-I'm not kidding you. This is my size, this is really happening, and the machine that did it..." Donatello glanced at the device, his heart sinking into his stomach when he saw the torn and frayed wiring. "Is broken." His heart fell into the pits of his intestines, and if he wasn't absolutely horrified, Don was sure he'd be amazed he could still talk.

"Maybe Don was right and I hit my head too hard. Maybe I need a nap. But with concussions you have to be woken up, right? Maybe I can set an alarm. But I never get up when it goes off," Mikey said to himself, dazed. Donatello's head snapped up and he snarled, jumping from the chair and running for Michelangelo's feet. He clung to his brother's ankle and clamped his teeth on the skin, digging his canines in.

Mikey screeched and made to throw Don off, stopping only when he remembered Don's size. Taking a deep, shaky breath, Mikey picked Donnie up under his arms and pulled him up to his face. Don scowled, kicking his feet. "I can't believe this," Don muttered, glaring at his feet.

"Dude...you're really-really a tot," Mikey said, voice in awe.

Donnie sent Mikey a burning look. "Yeah, thanks to you. What did I tell you? Now look! I can't-can't-" Donnie trailed off, room tilting to the side. His stomach seized and he jammed his eyes shut, stiffening when Mikey held him close to his chest.

"Whoa there little dude. Don't-I mean, what's wrong? And how can you even talk?"

Mikey's voice was still filled with awe but Donatello barely paid him any mind until the wave of nausea passed. "I don't know why," Donnie said eventually. "And I don't care. I want to be my normal size again, but it's busted." Donnie squirmed in Mikey's arms, glancing at the machine. "And I doubt we have the parts I need to fix it."

"I'm so much bigger than you. Were we really this small when we were little?" Donnie growled when Mikey poked his head, whipping around.

"Would you focus for a second? We have a serious problem on our hands! What if this wasn't the intended function? Then something could seriously go wrong later. Or what if there's some secondary effects. Or, more importantly, how the shell am I supposed to get back to normal!" The last part came as a high-pitched squeak and Donnie wanted nothing more than to crawl into his over-sized covers and die. "I can't believe this."

"H-hey now, come on, little guy." Aware of it or not, watching Donnie's baby face crease with worry had a profound effect on Mikey. Seeing large brown eyes search aimlessly for a solution twisted Mikey's chest and he carried Donatello to his bed, sitting on the mattress and cradling Donnie in his lap. "We'll figure it out, okay? I mean, you're smart. And you still have your smarts, so we can figure this out."

Donnie still didn't perk back up and Mikey bit his lip, eyes widening at a new thought. "I mean, who else can? Just imagine if it was just me trying to do this. Then you'd really be in trouble."

Donnie chuckled, the sound light and bubbly, making Mikey's heart soar. "Fine, point made. We can do this. It's just...I can't believe it. I'm so small." Don held his hands to his face again, swallowing. "Why would they need something like this? And...for Leatherhead. Oh..." Don't eyes lit up and he put a hand to his chin, narrowing his gaze in thought.

"Oh what?"

"N-nothing yet. I want to think about it some more, before I say anything. Maybe talk with Leatherhead. But how? How? I can't have anyone seeing me like this, can I?"

Don stopped, giving Mikey a dead stare. Mikey had a huge grin on his face, hiding behind his hands and popping out every three seconds, giggling. "What's wrong, Donnie? Can't see Mikey either, huh? Where'd Mikey go? Where'd he go?" Again, Mikey hid behind his hands, and again, popped back out, ignoring Don's increasingly irritated expression. "There he is! Oh, oh, there he goes again." Mikey snorted behind his hands and Don growled.

"Mikey, even if I didn't still have my fifteen year-old brain, I am well past learning object permeance! Stop."

"Object what?" Mikey asked, tilting his head to the side.

Don shook his head, face scrunched in deep thought. Mikey had to resist giggling. Serious Donnie was normal, but serious tot Donnie was adorable. "And I still have all my mental capacities. That just doesn't seem right."

"Are you complaining?"

"No. No, I'm not. But this device...it shouldn't have left me with them. If it was really meant to revert age, it should have taken that away too. I mean, I'd still be smarter than you, but..."

"Hey!" Mikey huffed, but he felt relieved with Donnie taking jabs at him. If Don could do that, he could find a way out of this. "So, how are we going to get you back to normal?"

Donatello's face fell and he looked at the machine on the floor. "I'll have to fix that of course. But, from what I've seen from the writing, I'll need special materials. Probably from the Kraang themselves, and even then, it doesn't look like their normal tech." Don sighed. "If it's special to them, it'll be harder to get a hold of. And substitute materials will likely be incompatible."

Humming absently, Mikey started to play with Donnie's arms, smiling at how small and easy to hold his brother was. "And after that, I'll need to figure out how the settings work. Confirming what the device is for will probably help with that, but really, I can't get anywhere until it's fixed."

Donnie pulled away from Mikey, giving him a flat look. "And stop doing that."

"I can't help it. The big brown eyes just seal the deal! You're so cute!" Mikey poked Donnie's cheek, snatching his finger back when Don tried to bite. "Vicious, but cute."

"I'm serious, Mikey. I need to get those materials."

Mikey's shoulders dropped, head rolling up towards the ceiling. "But you know how hard that'll be? Isn't there something you can do with what we have?"

Donnie rubbed his face, looking over the bed before grabbing the edge and lowering himself to the floor. Scowling once more at his size, he clumsily landed on the ground and trotted to the machine. He knelt beside it, peering inside the wiring and sighing. "Maybe... But it's gonna take time to figure out." Donnie's face hardened and he glanced at Mikey. "If this is going to work, you're going to have to make sure the others don't find out what happened."

Mikey sat up straight at this, eyes widening. "Why not?"

"Because, they'll freak out, want to know what happened, cause a bunch of distractions-and..." Don paused, cheeks warming. "I don't want them to see." Mikey snorted but Donatello plowed on. "And really, I'm worried about what they'll do. They won't want me to be near this thing after what happened and I really don't want to deal with that. The sooner I figure this out, the sooner I can return to normal."

"And you don't want them to see." Mikey grinned, but Donnie gave him a sharp look.

"Just wait till they find out how it happened, huh?"

Skin paling, Mikey coughed into his hand. "So, yeah, I'll try to distract them then. Got it." Donnie had already looked away, picking the machine up and setting it in his lap. It overtook his legs, sitting heavy on his limbs, and he couldn't stop the wince. Mikey watched as Donatello examined the insides, worrying his lip. "And, you know, I could help with that."

"I'd rather not."

Michelangelo stood up and joined Don next to the machine, casting him a sideways glance. He watched his brother closely, poking his cheeks again. "Mikey, what did I say-"

"Your cheeks are still rosy." Mikey shrugged. "Well, as rosy as green gets, anyway. And you feel kind of warm. Too warm."

"Stress does that to a turtle."

Mikey rolled his eyes. "Sure, it's fine when you go all doctor-y on us, but when I do it."

Donatello only shook his head, gently pulling out some of the wires to examine the thin threads inside. "Listen, I appreciate the offer, Mikey. But the best thing you could do for me is keep the others away. I'll be up for a while working on this, and like I said-"

"No distractions. I hear you." Mikey sighed, leaning closer to Donatello and humming under his breath. Don tilted his head at him, squealing when Mikey's hand lashed out, fingers pinching his cheeks. "You're so small!"

Mikey jumped up dashed out of the room before Donatello could reply, leaving his now much younger brother fuming.

"And now he's working on...what, the phones again?" Leo pinched the the space between his eyes, Mikey holding his hands up in surrender.

"I know, I know. He's been at it for hours. But you know Don..."

"Yes. What I don't get is why you're helping him. He's been at it since we got home, and that was three hours ago. It's two in the morning, Mikey. Don't you think you should be helping Don get to sleep instead of losing more of it?"

Leo watched Mikey for a long time, his eyes narrowing. "And why are you doing this? Normally you'd be all over trying to disrupt him."

Mikey's heart skipped, mind scrambling for an excuse. "He's blackmailing me!" He blurted before thinking and Leo's face dropped. "Y-yeah, that." Mikey swallowed at Leo's continued silence, glancing at the door and wondering if Donnie had heard him. "So, I gotta do this, you know? Or else he'll wind up telling Raph and then I'll never be able live it down."

"What could you have done that-you know what? No. I don't want to know. But tell Don, blackmail or no blackmail, he needs to get his shell in bed." Leo took on a stern look again, ruined by the smirk that formed seconds later. "And we'll talk about just what this blackmailing consists of later."

Mikey deflated. "Thanks, Leo. Glad to know I always have your support, grin and all." Leo just waved at him, turning away and heading down the hall. When he disappeared around the corner, Mikey looked back at the door, shoulders slumped. "I guess he does have a point. Don't toddlers need more sleep? I need lots of sleep and I'm not even little anymore. And if he doesn't have if figured out now, he won't have it in another hour. Right?"

Mikey continued to reason with himself as he reached for the doorknob. He knew from experience how dangerous Donatello could be when he was interrupted, even more so late at night. And little or not, Don still had teeth and the smarts to strategize with them.

"I'll just...yank him up and hold him away. Then he can't get me. I mean, his arms. So little..." Nodding and chuckling to himself, Mikey pulled the door open, eyes focusing on the only light in the room. Don sat in the center of the floor, his desk lamp shining over the wiring spilling out of the device. A screwdriver held in one hand, Don peered inside the machine. Don's face shone with sweat in the fluorescent lighting, and without his mask, Mikey could easily see the dark bags that hung under his eyes.

"Dude...do you always look like this when you work late?" Mikey's voice didn't snap Donatello out of his fog, the tot easing the screwdriver into the device and pulling up a small, thread-like wire. Mikey narrowed his eyes and walked over to his brother, sitting behind him and peering over his head. Mikey breathed heavily over Don's skin, holding back a giggle. "Watcha doing?" he finally asked.

Again, no answer came. Mikey huffed and slid in front of Donnie, glaring at him. "Earth to Donnie! I know you're shell bent on fixing this, but you need to get to bed. Leo's orders." Donnie simply pulled out another wire and began to inspect the coiling ends. The light played dark shadows on his face and Mikey held back a shudder.

"Mikey's orders?" he tried, poking Donatello's arm. The toddler didn't even blink. Mikey sighed and crossed his arms over his chest, shaking his head. "You'd be trying to kill me if I ordered you around like that. But maybe you're just that determined, little bro? Huh?" Mikey smiled. He couldn't get over being able to call Donnie that. "And I've seen you get this way before a few times. Like when you were making that flow chart. But, you still need to get to bed. Okay? So come to big brother Mikey!" Mikey held his arms out, giving Donnie a toothy grin.

Clanking metal parts were Don's only response.

"Yeah seriously, dude, this isn't going to work. You get bad sleep when you're normal size and it really messes you up. Like that three-day binge of straight inventing? You were all feverish then. And now you've got a little turtle body." Mikey poked his brother in the forehead, frowning. "It's gonna mess with you a lot...more..."

Mikey trailed off, zeroing in on the glazed sheen to Donatello's eyes. The screwdriver dropped to the floor with Mikey's poke, and Donnie had to wave his arms to keep himself from tumbling over. Biting his lip, Mikey pressed his hand to Donnie's forehead again, eyes widening. Don's skin was hot to the touch, leaving pools of heat in the pads of Mikey's fingers. Mikey slid his hand down to Donatello's cheeks, heart skipping when he saw they were even darker than before, managing a red tint.

Swallowing hard, Mikey scooped up Donatello, who didn't protest. Didn't make a sound. Just stared ahead with half-lidded eyes, chest moving achingly slow. "Don? Donnie? Come on, bro, this isn't funny."

Panic kicked his heart to his throat and he carried Don to bed, cradling him in his arms. He wiped the sweat away with his hand, hovering his face over Don's. He tried to smile, eyes searching for recognition in Donatello's irises. Dull eyes searched above aimlessly, and Mikey couldn't hold back a whimper. "Donnie. Don. Donatello, come on. I-why didn't you stop if you were feeling this bad."

Raspy breath sent of wave of cold through Mikey and his hands began to tremble. Holding Donatello closer to his chest, he stood from the bed and took several deep breaths. "No more playing around. The others...they can help. They'll know what to do." Mikey paused, glancing back down at Donatello. His small, feverish body began to shake against Michelangelo, eyes finally closing. Don shuddered and pressed his face into Mikey's chest and Mikey shook his head.

"I'm sorry, Don."

Mikey burst from the room, making sure the door would slam against the wall and sound down the entire lair. He dodged its ricochet and ran down the hallway, shouting for Master Splinter and his brothers. Flicking on the switch to the living room, he hurried to the couch and laid Donatello on the cushions.

Donnie hardly stirred. Not when the door slammed, not when the light his eyes, not when Mikey shook him.

Mikey's heart sped up and he swallowed air, bellowing at the top of his lungs. "Guys! Guys! Come here, I need you! Come on!" More doors slammed open and Mikey could already hear Raphael's groggy voice snarling down the hallway. Michelangelo grabbed Donnie's small hand in his own, smiling for his brother. "You hear that? They'll come and know what to do and you'll be better in no time, right?" Mikey took a shuddering breath, trying to believe his own words.

"Mikey, this better be good or I'm gonna pound your head-" Raphael stopped short at the sight before him, his eyes going wide. Mikey stared right back at Raphael, still holding Donatello's hand as he tried to find his voice. Leonardo and Splinter came next, Leo tilting his head at Raphael's stillness.

"Raph?" Leo asked, moving beside his brother. Splinter came up behind him and all sets of eyes moved to Mikey and Donatello, Leo's and Splinter's soon mirroring Raphael's own stunned state.

Michelangelo just tightened his grip on Donatello's hand. "Guys...I-I'll explain. But, he's sick. He's got a bad fever and I-I don't know what to do for him!" His voice loud in the silent room, Michelangelo looked imploringly at his brothers and father, his stomach tightening into a hard ball of knots. Splinter was the first to break the trance, striding across the room and gently lifting Donatello.

"It's all right, my son. Let him go so I can look at him." Michelangelo slowly nodded and released Donnie's hand, eyes still firmly on his brother. Splinter held Don close to his chest, pressing his paw to his forehead. Eyes darkening at the heat bubbling through Donnie's skin, Splinter sat on the couch with Don still held close. "Raphael, fetch a bowl of cool water and a washrag. Leonardo, grab any spare blankets you can find. Michelangelo, retrieve the aspirin and a glass of water. When you return, I want you to find the first-aid kit as well."

The three disappeared after each order and returned just as quickly, Michelangelo taking slightly longer in his hunt for the first-aid kit. Splinter tilted Donnie's head up and popped the aspirin into his mouth, coaxing his son to drink the water and swallow. Splinter wiped the dribble of water from Don's mouth and nodded at Raphael, who dunked the rag into the bowl and wrung away the excess water, handing it to Splinter.

Donatello was placed on the couch again, the rag laid on his forehead and one blanket draped across his small body. Don groaned, shaking his head and sending the rag to the floor. "My son, you must have it to keep the fever down..." Splinter whispering, placing it on Donnie's head several more times until the feverish turtle's energy was spent and he left the rag alone. Chills tore through his small frame, face contorted in discomfort and pain and his cheeks rosy with fever. His breathing remained raspy and shallow, the slow and irregular rhythm steadily filling the quiet room.

Splinter turned to Michelangelo, who looked on with wide and fearful eyes. Mikey's hands were clenched at his sides and his eyes bright and wet. Splinter cleared his throat, startling Mikey from his trance and drawing his gaze. "Michelangelo, I need to know what happened. Why is Donatello-why is he young again? And this illness, what brought it about?"

Raphael and Leonardo nodded, silent as they studied Michelangelo, waiting for his answer. Mikey swallowed, rubbing his face. "I-I don't...I don't know why he's so sick, sensei. Earlier he had pink cheeks but-but it was nothing like this. I found him working on the machine and-"

"What machine?"

Mikey jumped, hand clamping over his mouth. But he quickly let his arm fall back to his side, nodding. "Earlier today, I went to see Leatherhead. But we got ambushed by some Kraang, and they tried to use this machine on Leatherhead. I told him Donnie would take a look at it and brought here. And Donnie-he was looking at, trying to figure what it did. But I-I kind of got impatient."

Mikey's voice was barely a whisper here, and Splinter leaned forward, resting a paw on Michelangelo's arm. "Right...sorry. But, I got impatient and wanted to know what it did. Donnie didn't agree and we kind of started struggling for it. And then-well...I hit a button..." Raphael smacked a hand to his forehead, but Mikey ignored him. "The next thing we knew, Donnie was the size of a tot and the machine was busted."

"And Donatello?" Splinter kept his voice even, but worry danced in his eyes. "What of him when this occurred?"

"Well...that's the weird thing. Even Donnie said so. He was the same old Don, aside from being little again. He was still smart and he could talk and everything. I mean, I still felt kind of stupid when he explained it, and he was younger than me, but-but that doesn't matter." Mikey shook his head, rubbing his eyes. "He said he'd have to try and fix it, but that he didn't have the right stuff. He said he'd try anyway...but...not to tell you guys."

Mikey looked around at his father and brothers. "I'm sorry, but he said I couldn't tell! That-that it was important he be left alone to figure it out and that-that he might get slowed down and..." Mikey took a shuddering breath, gritting his teeth. "But now look at him!"

Splinter was silent for a moment, gaze drifting back to Donatello. He watched Don's chest move up and down: slow, steady, and weak.


"And he was still working when you found him?" Splinter asked eventually.

"Y-yeah. I was gonna send him to bed because, well, he's little and all-nighters aren't even good for him when he's normal but...but... It was so weird, sensei. He just kept working, even when I messed with him, but his eyes weren't really seeing it. Weren't really seeing me."

Mikey choked on the last part, jumping when Raphael's hand dropped onto his shoulder. Leonardo nodded at Mikey, walking toward the couch and kneeling beside Donatello. Mikey blinked when Leo leaned over and whispered something in Donnie's ear, grabbing Don's small hand in his own and sitting next to him. Mikey's chest clenched at the sight, the lost look in Leo's eyes leaving him cold.

"What do we do, sensei?" Leonardo asked, never taking his eyes off Donnie. He watched Don's shaky breathing, the puffs of breath hot and wet. Sweat trickled down Donnie's temples and when Leo's fingers brushed his forehead, searing his burned his skin. "He's so sick and we don't even know why."

Splinter closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, focusing his mind. "Whatever is wrong with Donatello is undoubtedly tied to the device. Did he say anything about it, Michelangelo?"

Mikey nodded. "He had a few ideas, but he said he'd have to think about them, figure out what was more likely," he said hurriedly.

"And he said he'd need certain parts to fix the machine?" Michelangelo nodded again and Splinter looked toward Donatello, chest heavy. "There...there isn't much we can do until Donatello regains consciousness and speaks with us. Tells us what he thinks of this situation and machine."

"But we can't do nothing! Sensei, he's so-I mean, his breathing!" Raphael spluttered. "We can't just-"

Splinter's sharp eyes landed on Raphael. "There is not much we can do, but we will do everything we can until then. Do not mistake that. Michelangelo, you said this was a device of the Kraang and involved Leatherhead? Then perhaps we should bring Leatherhead here and work out a plan of action. He'll know more about the Kraang than anyone."

Michelangelo nodded vigorously, but his face fell. "Sensei...I don't know where Leatherhead went! He-we decided he should find somewhere safer in the sewers and I never asked him where he'd go!"

"Then we'll search. I have a feeling we'll need him for what comes next. If only certain parts will fix this device, I fear we'll be seeing more of the Kraang in the very near future. It's vital we get Leatherhead here so we are able to face them on equal footing. Rapahel."

Raphael stood a little straighter, nodding at Splinter. "You and Michelangelo will search the sewers for Leatherhead. Bring him here as soon as you can."

Raphael's eyes widened. "But, sensei, what about..." Raphael's eyes drifted to Leonardo, who looked just as surprised as Raph and Mikey.

"I have something else for him to do here. Please, Raphael, there is not time to-"

"Got it. We're off, sensei. Come on." Raphael grabbed Mikey's arm and led him away before he could utter a word, but Mikey kept glancing back at Donatello until he was out of sight. Leonardo turned to Splinter, eyes wide.

"S-sensei, why didn't you want me to go with them? I thought I-"

"I have several tasks for you as well, one of which I don't feel comfortable giving to anyone but you." Leonardo nodded, wishing he felt the sense of pride that usually followed such words.

His chest only tightened.

"I need you to go to April, tell her the situation, and see if she'll come here to assist. I do not doubt there will be times that we need something from the surface that only she can acquire. It's important, too, that she help me with treating Donatello. She'll be able to help with some of the more technical aspects of this situation."

Leonardo was already nodding, heart beating harder as Splinter moved to the next task. "This may make you...uncomfortable, but I also need you to look in Donatello's room. Recover this device and any notes he's made about it."

Leonardo swallowed. "You want me to look through his things?"

Splinter closed his eyes and nodded. "Yes. A breach of privacy is...necessary to have the knowledge and materials we need to continue. I am sure when we explain to Donatello later, he will understand. However, I want you to look only for notes relating to this. Do not let your eyes linger."

"Yes. Yes, of course." Leonardo stood, squaring his shoulders. "I-I guess I should look through his room first. And you, sensei?"

"I will be tending to Donatello. This illness is unlike anything I've ever seen. I must watch him closely." Leonardo nodded, turning away and heading down the hall. He kept glancing back at Donnie, apologies flying in his head, as well as how he'd make it up to Donatello later.

"What have you gotten yourself into, Don?" he muttered under his breath. He paused in front of Donnie's room, the door still cracked open from Michelangelo's alarm call. Leonardo steeled himself and walked inside, gently closing the door behind him. His eyes immediately found the device, still hanging open with wires spilling out. "So Mikey stopped him in the middle of this?"

Leonardo picked the machine up, holding it close to his chest while his eyes roved Donnie's desk. Notebooks and papers littered both the desk and the floor around it, and Leonardo scooped up anything that seemed relevant. Sketches, notes on materials, notes and theories on how the device worked, how it didn't, what the symbols could mean.

Leonardo hardly understood half of what his eyes caught, but he stopped cold when he saw Don's writing get progressively sloppier as the notes went on. Stains and blotches marred the pages, and Leonardo narrowed his eyes. "What is this? I don't know..." And he found himself reading the next page, legs numbing.

...Strange symptoms have started to occur. My body temperature is increasing at a rapid rate, but my heartbeat is irregular. Torn between slowing down and speeding up. I can't stop sweating. My hands won't stop shaking.

The Kraang really know how to mess a turtle up.

Nausea has been coming and going too, and all within the span of twelve hours. This...body...can't seem to keep up with the changes. But that can't be the only reason. It's not just because my body is trying to adjust. No... I think my other theory comes into play as well. The fact that my mental capacities remained unaffected after the 'event' (I'm never going to let Mikey live this one down!) points to the device malfunctioning. Or that the Kraang don't even know what they're doing. But I think they were trying to turn back the clock on Leatherhead. Make him the size he was when they found him, as detailed on page fifteen of these notes. If that's the case, they must have meant for his mental state to turn back as well. I have a feeling they were going to capture him again, retry the experiments they did before, but with new data. Try again and see what happens.

Trial and error.

I'm glad they didn't get the chance. If what I saw of Leatherhead is any indication, the first time around left more than enough scars. But knowing their mistakes leaves room for them to make even bigger ones. Or succeed.

I'm not sure which would be worse.

But I don't think the Kraang realize the other error they made with this device. Considering that Leatherhead was likely exposed to the same mutagen as us (what else could explain his sentience?), attempting to use this device, working or not, would have terrible side effects. The way they try to manipulate the cells is incompatible with the mutagen's existing changes. The two will try to control and manipulate the same cells, effectively "going to war." The problem is, the host (it sounds like a parasite this way...) won't be able to handle it. The body will begin to breakdown as the cells tear themselves apart, unable to sustain the multiple and conflicting changes.

I'm worried that's what happening with me, too. The same mutagen, the same problem. The only good thing about all this is that I'm still mentally capable. I shudder at the thought of the others trying to figure this out on their own. If all they saw was a sick, toddler me, I don't know if they'd be able to see past it. Mikey might be able to explain, but what then?

It's getting harder to write. My hands are shaking even harder than before. I feel like throwing up and passing out. And I tried to ask Mikey for some coffee earlier but he said no! It's hard enough trying to hide this from him too... If he sees, he'll tell the others. No doubt about it. I don't want that. Not yet. I need to get closer to the solution. I need to figure this out before I turn this over to them.

My head hurts too. I wonder if the mental deterioration is only a delayed effect, and the headaches are the onset? But that doesn't seem right. The migraines, while painful and distracting, don't seem to dampen my thought processes. It may just be another symptom of my body's breakdown.

My body is breaking down.

Is that just another way to say I'm dying? It sounds more detached when I write it that way. But it still sounds the same. It sounds like I'm dying.

I'm scared.

I need to work on the device some more. Even if I can decode the symbols, it does me no good if it doesn't work.

And it needs to work.

I'm starting to doubt the materials I have on hand will be able to fix it. I may have to tell the others sooner than I thought.

I have to stop for now. My hands can't keep steady. I'll inspect the machine some more, and come back with a tentative list of the materials I need.

Leonardo stared at the note for what seemed like hours. His eyes were blank. Flat. He added the pages to the rest of the notes and grabbed whatever else seemed relevant. He returned to Splinter and laid it out on the coffee table, saying he was off to get April before his father could get a word in. He didn't look at Splinter's face, knowing his eyes would betray what's he'd just read.

And once he was in the sewer tunnel, sure know one could see or hear him, he punched the wall. Slammed his knuckles into the brick and swore so much he could make Raphael proud. He choked on words and stifled his breathing and threw his fists at the wall, over and over until he broke the skin.

"My body is breaking down."

Then he slammed both hands on the wall, shaking his head. "Don. Donnie, why didn't you tell us? We could have helped you sooner. We could have done something. I could have done something." Leonardo hit the wall with the palms of his hands, the blows weak.

"Why? Why? Why?" Leonardo muttered, shoulders shaking.

"I'm scared."

Leonardo wiped the worry from his face. Forced back the anger and the fear, leaving his eyes clear and focused. He clenched and unclenched his hands and hurried up the nearest manhole, April's address swimming in his mind. He wiped all other thoughts and words away.

All but Donatello's.

"It sounds like I'm dying."