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Fic: Wasting Away Chapter 4 (Part B)

Title: Wasting Away
Author: Brokaw22
Disclaimer: The norms
Rating: T
Story Synopsis: Leo knows that there's something going on with Raph. He just never expected it to be something of this magnitude.

Previous Chapters: Chapter One (Part A) Chapter One (Part B) Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four (Part A)

A quarter of the way through the fifth episode and Leo notices that Raph is listing to the side and looks as though he’s going to fall asleep again. However, before his exhausted brother can return to unconsciousness once more, all four of them are startled by the sudden distinctive sound of someone clearing his throat. All of their eyes fall to the lone figure standing by the turnstiles, and Leo’s stomach drops at the expression on his father’s face. He never really considered what he was going to tell Master Splinter when he finally returned home to see one of his sons in such a dismal state. Now he wishes he had.

“My sons, what’s wrong with Raphael?”

The question is directed to no one and everyone at the same time. Leo swallows thickly, unsure of how to tell their father that he could very well be losing a son…just not to death. He glances over at Donnie, hoping that his brother will be able to explain everything to Master Splinter in that calm collected way that he always explains everything medical, but Donnie has his eyes downcast towards the floor and looks as though he’s about to shake apart at any minute.

Leo takes a deep calming breath before glancing over at his other little brothers. Mikey is as still and quiet as Leo has ever seen him, looking like a deer trapped in headlights. It’s almost startling to see his most hyperactive brother so motionless. Then Leo’s eyes land on Raph, who is sitting as stiff as ever and just staring up at their father hopelessly. He knows that Raph didn’t want Master Splinter to know about his condition, but Leo figured Raph realized that this was inevitable. Apparently, Raph hadn’t planned for this moment anymore than Leo had.

Leo watches as Raph’s mouth begins to move but no words come out. He shifts slightly so that Raph has more breathing room, not wanting to make his brother feel more discomfort than he already is by feeling closed in. Raph’s mouth is still moving without sound and he’s starting to look rather panicked when his eyes suddenly roll to the back of his head and he slumps unceremoniously back in his seat. The next thing Leo knows his brother’s body starts to seize, and he scrambles to lay Raph down on his side.

Donnie is instantly beside him talking him through what to do. “Don’t try to hold him down and don’t restrain him, but keep him on his side in case he vomits.” Leo has no idea how Donnie can sound so calm right now, but he’s grateful for it all the same.

There’s a small whimper somewhere off to the side and Leo can hear the obvious fear in Mikey’s voice. “Donnie, what’s happening to him?”

Donnie glances over at Mikey, but whatever silent conversation passes between them is beyond Leo. His focus is solely on his still seizing brother in front of him. He’s desperately trying not to hold Raph with too much pressure, but it’s difficult to keep his brother on his side while his whole body is still spasming. When the convulsions finally subside, Donnie all but orders Leo to help him move Raph to the lab, but before Leo can get his arms around his brother a clawed hand lands on his shoulder and gently tugs him away. “I will carry him, Leonardo. Stay with Michelangelo.”

Leo wants to protest, but one glance at the expression on his father’s face as he lifts Raph into his arms and cradles him close to his chest has the words dying in Leo’s throat. He can’t possibly keep Master Splinter away from his son…not after that, and Leo doesn’t want to try. He does, however, want to be in the lab, helping whatever way he can, but he knows that he would just be in the way, so instead of barging in, Leo grabs Mikey by the wrist and drags him into a hug as they slump down onto the beanbag on the floor.

Mikey immediately starts crying, clutching at Leo tightly and mumbling questions. “Will Raphie be okay? What’s going to happen to him? Will he recover?”

Leo doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t have any of those answers right now and he knows better than to give his little brother false assurances. He’s silent for a long moment, rocking his little brother back and forth in an attempt to comfort them both. “Donnie will do his best.” It’s the only thing that he can think of to say, and Leo knows it isn’t nearly good enough.

Mikey, for his part, doesn’t say anything. Instead, he just places his head down on Leo’s plastron and continues to cry. It feels like hours have passed when Mikey’s sobs taper off to soft snores. Leo doesn’t want to risk waking him, so he just simply stays put, holding his sleeping brother. His legs are numb and his arms are starting to fall asleep too, but Leo doesn’t care. He continues to hold his brother until he hears the lab door slowly open. He glances up to see Master Splinter step out, eyes obviously red and the fur under his eyes damp. Leo doesn’t say anything at first. A large part of him needs to know what’s going on, but another part of him just wants to stay in blissful ignorance for a few more moments, before his world comes crashing down around him more than it already has.

Master Splinter’s eyes fall upon him and all Leo can see is immeasurable amounts of pain throughout his father’s visage. It makes Leo’s heart tighten as his breath catches in his throat. His father comes over and kneels in front of him, and, for some unknown reason, it makes Leo grasp onto Mikey even tighter. Master Splinter places his clawed hand on top of Leo’s head and strokes his skull gently. “I will take Michelangelo to bed, and then we shall speak.”

Leo nods and reluctantly passes his brother to his father. He stays seated on the beanbag and slowly tries to work feeling back into his limbs as he awaits his father’s return. Long before Leo feels ready to speak, Master Splinter is beside him once more. Leo heaves a large breath and holds it for a moment before releasing it slowly, preparing himself for the worst. “You wished to speak to me, father.”

Master Splinter nods gravely as he sits in front of his son. “Donatello explained to me what he believes is happening to your brother. What he did not explain is why I was not informed about this a week ago when you four discovered what was happening to him.”

Leo can hear the obvious demand to know why he wasn’t informed even without the words being spoken, but he finds himself at a loss for words. He can certainly understand why his father would be angry and upset about being left out of the loop, but how could they tell him when they could barely handle knowing themselves. “Raph didn’t want you to know. He didn’t want to interfere with your recovery and I didn’t want to pressure him when it was so obvious he wasn’t well, especially when Mikey mentioned that Raph was worried that you wouldn’t view him the same way.”

Master Splinter raises an eyebrow as he strokes his long beard. “Why would I view him any differently?”

Leo shrugs as he sighs heavily. “I don’t know why, but Raph apparently believes that he’ll eventually do something to cause you to stop loving him. Mikey seems to believe that, in Raph’s mind, this qualifies somehow.”

Leo watches as Master Splinter’s ears flatten against his head and his gaze falls to the floor. “I see.” Leo’s glad that someone does, because he still doesn’t understand any of this. After a long moment, Master Splinter places a hand on his shoulder. “I appreciate that you were trying to protect your brother as well as myself, but I would have preferred if one of you had called me the moment you realized Raphael was unwell.”

Leo nods in understanding. It’s not as though he didn’t think that from the start. “I know, but I couldn’t go against Raph’s wishes…not when…” Leo lets the sentence trail off, unable to speak the words. Master Splinter seems to understand what he means anyway, because the next thing Leo knows he’s being pulled into a rather tight embrace. He instantly reciprocates as he clings to his father’s robe, wanting nothing more than to hide away from all of the terrible possibilities laid before them.

It feels like an eternity has passed when the lab door opens again and Donnie shuffles his way out into the open. Leo glances up to see his brother seemingly in shock, hands shaking and eyes darting around the room. He immediately gets to his feet and rushes to his brother before Donnie can collapse. “Don, what’s going on?”

“He…he de-mutated.” The words come out as a low sob.

Leo honestly can’t believe his ears. How could Raph have de-mutated already? It’s only been….well, Leo doesn’t know how long it’s been, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been enough time for a full transformation to have happened. It takes all of his willpower to swallow down his own emotions and ask the one question that he almost doesn’t want an answer to. “De-mutated into what exactly?”

Donnie makes a keening sound as he clings to his big brother. “A normal turtle.”

The words crush Leo’s heart. It’s over. There’s nothing that they can do. They can’t fix this. Raph is gone and they’re never going to be able to get him back. Leo doesn’t realize that his legs have given out on him until his knees hit the hard, unforgiving cement floor and a hurt, broken wail is wrenched from his throat. Tears cloud his vision and fall freely down his face, but Leo doesn’t care. He can feel Master Splinter’s arms wrap around him from behind, but it’s meaningless. He’s lost a brother. There is no comfort for this. The grief overwhelms him and Leo doesn’t know how any of them are going to move past this. This is worse than death. After all, death would have been more dignified…for all of them.

The End (for now)