Greasy, Grimy, Gloppy Glue
I own nothing, but myself.
It hurt to breathe. I adjusted myself weakly against the floor to try and get some comfort to breathe in deeply, but no matter how much I shifted the pain grew worse and my panting grew harsher.
"Get up. Got to get up. Ninjas don't quit. Turtles don't either. Move."
I strained as I tried to push myself up, but my strength had long waned. Again I slumped helplessly to the sewer floor. Tears pricked my eyes.
"I tried. I tried to stand on my own. I tried to prove all of you wrong. I failed again. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Emotions flared up as the image of Father entered my mind. My Father needed me. My brothers needed their Father. I would not fail in my mission. Again I pushed against the ground and pulled myself to my feet all the while cradling the prize in one of my fists. Stumbling, I walked further towards the lair.
"Keep going. Keep moving. You can do this. Go. Keep going."
Blood splattered around me as I continued moving forward. Finally, the lair's entrance entered my line of sight. The stairs caused me agony while I climbed and I gritted my teeth as I dragged myself over the ticket booths. I vaguely heard Leo and Raph arguing. Sounded like Raph still wanted to go topside and force the Kraang to give him the antidote while Leo wanted to keep everyone safe as Donnie figured out the poison's chemical make-up that was in the darts that had hit Splinter.
"Shut up!" Donnie hissed as he slammed his lab door open, "I have limited time to break down the poison! How can I concentrate when you two are…Mikey?"
Three pairs of eyes turned to me in shock. I stumbled forward as my three brothers remained frozen for several seconds before leaping towards me as my strength finally gave out. Raphael reached me first and barely caught me before my face slammed into the floor. I felt myself turned over and heard them screaming questions at me as I coughed up blood, but my eyes sought out my purple-banded brother.
"Here," I whispered as I held out my fist to Donnie, "T-take."
"What?" Donnie asked as he reached for what I held before gasping when I placed the vial in his palm, "Oh, God! Is this what I think it is? Mikey? Mikey!"
I had to pant for several seconds with my eyes tightly closed before I could open them again. My three brothers looked down at me as I coughed up more blood.
"Cure F-father. Tell him…I'm sorry. I'm…I'm so sorry, Bros," I choked out as the edges of my vision dimmed black before I knew no more.
Donnie's point of view:
I gasped again when my baby brother lost consciousness cradled in Raph's arms. I was torn. Splinter needed this antidote, but Mikey looked like he was fading fast. How in the world had Mikey accomplished this? Had he gone against the Kraang on his own?
"Mikey!" Leo called as he hovered over our littlest brother in distress, "Don't go to sleep! Mikey, wake up!"
"Raph! Leo! Get Mikey into my lab," I ordered as I snapped to attention, "I'm going to inject Splinter with the antidote while you two get Mikey cleaned enough for me to see to his injuries. Hurry!"
"How do we know that this is really tha antidote?" Raphael asked as he pushed Leo away to scoop up the smallest turtle in the family.
"Mikey knew what he was doing," I snapped as I hurried after my red-banded brother with our limp, baby brother.
I snatched up a fresh, hypodermic needle and measured out the correct amount of antidote once in the lab while my other two brothers cleaned up Mikey as best they could.
"Wait," Leo interrupted as I went to inject our Father with the antidote, "How can you be so sure?"
"Because…" I whimpered as I gave Splinter the shot, "…I expressly told him exactly where the antidote was when the three of us were blaming him for Father having been hit by the darts. Now get out of my way! Mikey's breathing is labored and he is still internally bleeding judging by the blood that is still trickling from his mouth."
I watched as Raph and Leo backed up with blood soaked towels in their hands as I bent to assess our brother's condition. Mikey was covered in injuries and his freckles stood out even more against his too pale complexion. His orange mask was torn and frayed and hung by a thread on one side.
"He's goin' ta be okay, right?" Raph demanded as I slid a breathing mask that I had specially made over my little brother's lower face.
"Donnie?" Leo snapped as he watched me work, "Is Mikey going to be okay?"
"I don't know," I moaned as I continued to catalogue our baby brother's injuries, "Guys, it doesn't look good. Get out. I need to prep him for surgery. He's slowly drowning in the blood that is filling his lungs. Go!"
I barely noticed as Leo dragged a frozen Raphael out of the lab. I grabbed my supplies and saw that Father's vitals were improving dramatically.
"You did it, Mikey," I whispered as I began to treat his injuries, "You saved Father. Stay strong so I can save you now."
I had to blink back tears as I worked.
"I'm so sorry, Little One," I said down to my unnaturally still brother.
Leo's point of view:
I had to drag my little brother out of the lab. Raph was frozen staring at Mikey in horror. I frog marched him out into the living room portion of our lair and pushed him onto the couch. I frowned when he remained docile and didn't lash out at me as he would normally have done on any other day.
"Raph?" I asked in concern as my hotheaded brother continued to stare ahead in silence, "Raph, answer me."
Raphael's green eyes turned and stared at me before he violently stood and flipped the couch.
"Did ya see him?" Raph demanded as he turned on me and trembled in anxiety and rage, "Did ya see our Mikey? What tha shell happened? Why did he…Leo?"
I shook as hard as my younger brother was shaking. I did see him. I also remembered how the three of us had screamed at our baby brother after Splinter had shielded him from the Kraang attack. We were supposed to have been simply going to find some stupid bush that Father wanted for his birthday. The Kraang had appeared out of nowhere and Mikey had slipped and fallen during battle.
"God!" I gasped as I tried to breathe deeply and continued to spiral into a full-blown panic attack while my legs gave out on me, "My fault! I yelled at him. Raph, I screamed at Mikey that it was his focus that led to Sensei's poisoning. I told him none of us would have slipped because we would have been more aware of our surroundings. I was just so angry that Father had been hurt that…I…I just snapped."
"And I basically accused him of havin' murdered Splinter," Raph interrupted as he kneeled down beside my shaking form, "Donnie yelled at Mikey too. What have we done, Fearless?"
I was the leader. The eldest. The one responsible to protect. I had basically abandoned Mikey and the three of us had almost thrown him out of the family. I didn't even know when the tears started, but the next thing I knew Raph and I were sobbing up against one another. I could usually control my emotions, but not when it came to my baby brother.
"God, Raph," I sniffled, "Will he be okay?"
"I don't know," my first, younger brother answered as we leaned against one another and watched the lab door, "Our Donnie is the best. He'll help Mikey."
"Please help Mikey, Donatello," I prayed in my mind, "Save him."
Raph's point of view:
Leo and I waited for several hours to hear something on Mikey's and Sensei's condition. Finally, Donnie exited his lab with a look of exhaustion on his face.
"Well?" Leo and I demanded at the same time as Donnie plopped down on the couch that we had set back in its original position.
Donnie sighed and looked forlorn.
"Come on!" I snapped losing my patience, "How are Mikey and Father?"
"Splinter's system has flushed out all of the poison thanks to the antidote that Mikey retrieved," Donnie stated before looking up sadly, "Mikey is not so lucky."
"Spit it out, Donnie," Leo urged with wide, frightened eyes, "How is he?"
"Mikey must have put up one shell of a good fight," Donnie explained looking towards the lab before turning back to us, "His right leg was fractured in two places and he is covered with cuts and bruises. I also treated several laser burns from Kraang weapons, but…."
"What, Donnie?" I demanded with impatience, "We already know that Mikey was bleedin' internally. What did ya find?"
"I had to drain his lungs," Donnie moaned as he shuddered while Leo put his arm across our younger brother's shoulders, "It looks like he was crushed or hit really hard on one side since I had to reset a lot of his right, rib cage. Mikey had to have a blood transfusion from the stockpile that I have been collecting over the last year from him for just such an emergency like I've done with the rest of us. Plus, he has a serious concussion. Mikey…he…Oh, God!"
Donnie burst into tears while Leo and I hugged our sobbing brother.
"Donnie?" Leo soothed, "What is it?"
"Mikey' heart stopped and then he slipped into a coma during the surgery!" Donnie wailed as Leo and I froze in horror, "His system is so depleted. Guys, there is a very strong probability that he will never wake up again."
My eyes widened as I fought to breathe in. No way. A life without the Knucklehead. No way.
"You're lyin'," I denied as I pulled away angrily before rushing into the lab.
I saw Father first. Splinter seemed to be sleeping normally instead of being in pain like I had seen him earlier. I turned and then saw my baby brother.
"No!" I whispered as I viewed his smaller frame.
Mikey was pale and had a tube down his throat to help with his breathing. He was covered in a blanket, but I could still see the outline of the cast that must have covered my brother's leg straight up to his hip under the covers. His arms and forehead were wrapped in bandages and the skin that showed was mottled with bruises. The rest of his bandages could be seen peeking out of the blanket he was covered with. Machines beeped around him measuring his heart rate and life readings.
"God," Leo voice breathed behind me as he and Donnie entered the lab, "Mikey. Oh, Little Brother, no."
"How do ya know he isn't just unconscious?" I argued as I gently lifted one of my baby brother's hands in my own, being very careful about the IVs.
"His brain waves prove that this isn't a natural sleep," Donnie choked out, "I'm amazed he made it home in his condition. Mikey must have been moving on pure adrenaline."
"Wake up, Baby Brother," I demanded as I squeezed his hand, "Wake up and yell at us for bein' bad brothers. Don't ya dare fall asleep on your job ta keep us together as a family. Come on, Mikey. Open your eyes."
Mikey didn't move a muscle. I trembled as my eyes filled with very rare tears. This wasn't right. Mikey was supposed to be cracking some kind of stupid joke or pulling a prank. The images of those blue eyes looking up at all of us in hurt and pain made my insides ache. It was not his job to have gone into Kraang headquarters alone.
"Raph," Leo interrupted my thoughts as he came over and removed my hand from Mikey's since I was beginning to squeeze too hard, "Stop. We've got to stay strong. Both Mikey and Father need us to keep it together."
I nodded and breathed deeply as I watched my oldest brother stroke Mikey's cheek and murmur apologies to our baby brother. Donnie was holding Mikey's ruined, bloody mask and quietly weeping.
"We f'd up bad," I moaned as I pulled Donnie into my arms to comfort my first, little brother, "We f'd up real bad."
Splinter's point of view:
I awoke from a terrible dream. The Krang had been attacking my sons. My baby had slipped on a discarded, robot arm. Michelangelo had fallen right as our attackers fired a gun at my child. I remembered that this was no dream, but a memory.
"My son!" I cried out as I sat up quickly, "Michelangelo!"
"Father," I familiar voice answered me as I swayed before hands steadied me.
"Donatello?" I gasped as I looked up at him before noticing my two eldest hovering over me, "Leonardo. Raphael. Where are we?"
"We are in the lair," Leonardo answered, "You're safe."
I shook my foggy head before it dawned on me.
"Where is Michelangelo?" I demanded sitting up straighter in Donatello's arms, "Did I not make it in time? Where is my son?"
My three sons looked horribly exhausted and upset.
"He is dead?" I voiced in horror before calming when Leonardo shook his head violently.
"No, Sensei," my eldest began looking ashamed, "You shielded Mikey from the darts that were fired at him. The Kraang had that new type of poison that Donnie had found traces of and you ended up getting hit with darts filled with it. You were so sick and…."
"And, what?" I urged as Leo wrung his hands in anxiety.
My sons hung their head in sorrow.
"We got ya back to tha lair as quickly as we could," Raphael took up the story, "Donnie was able ta stabilize ya, but tha poison was fast actin'. Don realized that your heart would give out before he would be able ta figure out tha antidote and we all freaked."
"How does this apply to your youngest brother?" I asked beginning to hear a strange beeping that was coming from a different part of the lab.
"Well…" Leo began.
"You are the worst excuse for a ninja, brother, or son that has ever been!" I screamed as Donnie and Raph glared down at our sobbing, kneeling little brother, "The rest of us would have been aware of our surroundings! This could have been avoided if you had been paying attention!"
"I was paying attention," Mikey denied looking pathetic with his eyes pouring tears, "I didn't see what I tripped on. I was trying to hold off three Kraang-bots at the time."
"So you screaming 'Booshakaya' every five minutes was your form of focus?" Donnie snapped, "Father should never have been in that fight! Now he is fading away in my lab and we cannot get to the antidote because it is locked in the middle of the Kraang headquarters! You heard the damn Kraang transmission like the rest of us, Mike! This chemical weapon attacks the nervous system and now Splinter is dying because of you!"
"I didn't ask to be shielded," Mikey stuttered in distress as his blue eyes turned imploring on the three of us, "I'm sorry!"
"Sorry ain't good enough!" Raph growled as he looked at the youngest in disgust, "Ya might as well have fired those darts inta Sensei yaself!"
Mikey gasped and looked at us in terror.
"I…I would never…" the orange-banded turtle began before I interrupted him.
"You are off the team!" I gritted out, "You are a burden and a hindrance to this entire family. You will never be able to stand up on your own and be a formidable warrior. If we lose Father, I will mark you as my enemy!"
"That goes for me as well!" Raph agreed as Donnie nodded and glared hatefully at our little brother.
End of flashback:
My eyes widened in disappointment at my baby's treatment. Michelangelo ever tried to seek his brother's approval. Their words must have crushed his spirit.
"Mikey burst into tears and then ran and locked himself in the bathroom after that," Leonardo continued, "We all ignored him while Donnie tried to make an antidote to cure you. That night he left the lair, but at the time, I didn't care."
"Where is he?" I asked with my "Sensei" voice.
"Here," Donatello whispered in clear distress, "Father, Mikey somehow broke into the Kraang's headquarters. He…he got the antidote, but was horribly out numbered. Mikey was hurt really badly. We have no idea how he got out or how he even made it back."
I gasped and began to rise in my alarm. Hands tried to push me back down, but I pushed them away as I stood up unsteadily.
"Sensei, you shouldn't be up so soon," my third son said before growing silent at my look.
"Where is my son?" I gritted out before my sons sprang apart and assisted me to my youngest's bedside and I froze at the sight, "Oh, Michelangelo."
My most vibrant child lay still in the bed with machines keeping him alive. The tube running down his throat was almost my undoing. I reached with my mind and found only emptiness within him.
"His condition?" I snapped as Leonardo assisted me into a chair so I could take up Michelangelo's hand in my own.
"Broken ribs which led to internal bleeding," Donatello stated, "Broken leg, lacerations, bruises, there was trauma to his internal organs, and laser burns. A very serious concussion."
"You are holding something back," I urged as my three sons looked at me sadly, "I cannot feel your brother's spirit as clearly as I should."
"Mikey lost a lot of blood and I had to operate," Donatello continued, "He slipped into a coma during the surgery after his heart stopped. That was three days ago. I don't know if Mikey will wake again, Father. He is getting more and more reliant on the machines that are keeping him alive."
Coma? My child was in a coma? I closed my eyes to hide the horror I felt. Disappointment and rage bubbled within me before I was able to push the feelings back down.
"Sensei, I am so sorry," Leonardo sniffled as he wiped at his wet eyes, "We all are. None of us meant for this to happen to Mikey. I wouldn't let Raph charge into the Kraang headquarters. I never thought Mikey would go on his own."
"You allowed emotions to dictate you," I stated coldly since I wasn't feeling very charitable at the moment, "You made my right of a Father to sacrifice myself for my child into a meaningless action. I would have done the same for any of you and I know that you all would do the same for one of your brothers."
My three sons hung there head as their shoulders shook. I smelled the salty tears, but this was a lesson that needed to be harsh.
"Acting as a team means supporting all of the members," I continued, "Mikey tripped over a robotic arm that was kicked from behind him right when he took a step backwards. He slipped due to an accident and not due to negligence. I only hope that you might have the opportunity to apologize to your brother one day. I can tell you from firsthand experience what it feels like to rue your actions that led to the death of ones you love. Leave me. I wish to be alone with Michelangelo."
My eldest sons left the lab quietly as I watched over the still turtle in the bed.
"How well you must have fought," I whispered down to Michelangelo as I stroked his hand gently, "You did well in protecting your family. Now it is time to open your eyes and come back to us. Come back to me, Child. Please come back to me."
I allowed myself to break down and weep when my littlest's spirit didn't even flicker at my words.
Donnie's point of view:
I sighed as I stretched to get a kink out of my back. I had been researching to discover everything I could on coma treatment over the last few days. Our sweet, little Mikey had been in a coma for a full week now and most of his bruises had blackened and finally begun to fade. I had been forced to place a feeding tube down one of my brother's nostrils to get nutrients into his system. I hated seeing all the machines, tubes, and wires hooked up to him.
"Mikey, it is not right for you to look like this," I thought to myself as I looked over at the limp turtle.
I watched as Leo gently sponged warm water on the areas of our baby brother that were not covered with bandages to keep his skin moist.
"There we go, Mikey," Leo spoke as he continued to diligently work, "I bet you that feels a lot better. Cracking skin isn't very fun to deal with, huh? Your big brothers are going to make sure that your skin doesn't crack at all while you heal and get better. We miss you so much, Bro."
My eyes burned when my youngest brother stayed still and silent. A hand on my shoulder made me look up as Raph walked further into the lab with a bowl of ice chips. Our hotheaded brother was a lot more withdrawn now and spent every waking moment assisting with Mikey.
"That's good, Raph," I encouraged when I saw him tenderly running an ice chip over our little brother's cracked lips while Leo seemed stuck in his thoughts before startling when Raph nudged him gently with an elbow.
I watched as Leo shook himself before moving the bowl of water onto my desk. He'd been blanking out quite a bit lately.
"When will ya be able ta take tha tube out of Mikey's throat?" Raph asked as he continued to treat the split skin, "This damn tube is dryin' out his lips somethin' fierce."
"I don't know," I admitted as I walked up and checked some of the reading on the machines that were helping my brother as he slept, "Mikey is still not breathing on his own. Without the tube…."
"Don't say it," Leo interrupted looking pained, "Just…just tell Raph and I how we can help."
I stroked a finger down my baby brother's cheek before shaking myself.
"Let's change his bedding," I began as I pushed the railing down on one side of my little brother's bed, "Leo, you and Raph bring the cot Splinter was laying on as close to the bed as possible. We are going to have to work together to move Mikey without hurting him or unhooking him from one of the machines he is hooked up to. Be extra careful with his casted leg."
The three of us worked together and gently moved or brother to his new resting place. I was surprised to see Splinter walk in with fresh bedding.
"Father?" Leo asked.
Splinter had not been talking with us as much as he usually did these days. Though he assured us that we were forgiven for our atrocious behavior, there was a wall that had been erected between us and our Sensei.
"I see that you three had the same idea that I had, my sons," Splinter explained as he bent to check on Mikey before going and stripping the sheets off of the scavenged hospital bed that Leo and Raph had located in an abandoned, senior center.
I remember how the three of us had carefully cleaned and sanitized the bed before using Mikey's old mattress out of his room to cradle our baby brother while he slept so deeply.
"Thought it would be good for him," I agreed as Leo and I assisted our father to remake the bed.
I looked over Leo's shoulder and watched Raph stroking Mikey's plastron as he squatted next to the cot. It was heartbreaking to watch and I couldn't help another sigh that escaped me.
Splinter looked over at me before beckoning for us to place our little brother onto the newly made bed. I sat the head of the bed up a little more.
"Why are you doing that?" Leo asked.
"Can't keep Mikey in the same position all the time," I explained as I went to support Mikey's broken leg, "I don't want him to start developing any bedsores."
Leo and Raph blanched before combining their strength to lift Mikey back into bed.
"There we go, Child," Splinter said to Mikey as he adjusted him so he could be more comfortable before sitting on his usual stool beside of our little brother, "Your muscles will feel better to sit up a little. I have brought a book that you will enjoy hearing while your brothers go eat and practice in the dojo."
We were being dismissed. The three of us left the lab so that Splinter could have some time with our brother. We wandered into the kitchen and sat looking numbly at the place that our baby brother would usually be humming away as he whipped up one of his weird, yet tasty, dishes. None of us had been eating very well since this whole fiasco had begun.
Leo's point of view:
I looked at my two, despondent, little brothers. Donnie had thrown himself into researching if there was any advances in bring people out of comas and Raph…Raph was just…lost.
"Lunch time," I announced as I stood to peer into the fridge, "What do you two want?"
Don and Raph looked at me blankly before looking at one another. This would have been the time that our baby brother would have piped up and said something along the line of "something not burnt to a crisp, Dude." My two younger brothers locked eyes with me as we sighed as one.
"Who'da ever thought we would miss tha little Knucklehead's smart-butted comments, huh?" Raph groaned as he looked back towards the door of the lab.
None of us answered for a moment as we thought back on our roles in allowing this to happen.
"I'll cook," Donnie stated as he stood, "I guess none of us will be able to help our brother if we don't eat something. Mikey…he wouldn't want this for any of us."
I had to sit before my knees would give out. Donnie was right. Mikey always tried to look out for all of us in his own unique way. I watched as the purple-banded turtle unconsciously ended up making our little brother's favorite meal besides pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I was startled to feel Raph lean his head against my arm as we watched Donnie work. This was completely out of character for the red-banded turtle.
"Are you okay?" I asked my emerald-eyed brother while Don looked back at us in concern.
"Fine," Raph grunted as he remained leaning against me, "Little tired. Stayed up too late readin' Mikey his comic books. Was hopin' he'd sit up and tell me ta say tha voices right like ya do when he cons ya inta readin' for him."
I nodded as I laid the side of my head on top of his. I would have loved it if Mikey had done that as well. I again felt myself drifting like I had been doing a lot lately. I guess my baby brother's condition was affecting my concentration levels. I was startled when Raph nudged me once again today and I came back to myself. We both sat back up as Donnie laid a plate in front of each of us. We ate, but it was mechanical and not at all satisfying. I frowned when I saw how little my other two brothers had really eaten.
"Oh, no you don't," I denied as I grabbed the tails of Donnie's and Raph's masks as they tried to rise, "Eat some more. You barely touched your lunches."
Both squawked and grumbled as they began to pick at their food. Donnie should have been rattling off facts to me about the actual proportion of food that is necessary to survive and Raph should have blown up into Mt. Fuji, but both merely forced a few more bites down before stomping into the dojo.
"Wake up, Mikey," I pleaded in my mind to my brother, "This family will fall apart without you. We need you."
I entered the dojo to see Raph and Donnie half-heartedly stretching. I thought for a moment and then walked over to kneel in front of them and bowed low to the ground.
"Fearless?" Raph questioned from above.
"I failed as a leader," I admitted as I remained bowed, "I led that argument against Mikey. It was my having lost control that opened the floodgates for the two of you to vent on our little brother with me. Everything said was stated out of anger and not out of truth. This is my fault."
I heard Donnie gasp before I was roughly yanked to my feet by Raphael.
"No!" Raph yelled as his eyes filled with angry tears, "This is the fault of us all, Bro. Don't ya dare try ta take on all of this responsibility all by yaself."
"Raph's right," Donnie agreed as he got into a kneeling position and looked down, "We were all so upset that Splinter was hurt that we needed to blame something and unfortunately, that something was our Mikey."
"Can you imagine how hurt he felt at our words?" I finally asked as I leaned against Raph seeking comfort that he easily gave much to my surprise.
Raph eased us both to the matted floor. Donnie crawled up and leaned against Raph's other side. We stayed like that until we finally drifted into an exhausted sleep.
To be continued…