The sound of the monitor alarms going off jolted Raphael awake. He had fallen asleep with Yoshi on his chest. He had been sitting there all day with his family coming in to check on him from time to time and had dozed off.
He was barely able to process what was happening before the doctors swarmed around him and took Yoshi. Panic gripped Raph’s throat. “What’s going on,” he rasped out.
“He’s got a fever,” one of the doctors answered as she placed Yoshi in an incubator, “and his breathing has slowed. We need to get his fever down.”
“We’ll do everything we can,” another doctor reassured him and they whisked Yoshi away to the other side of the infirmary before anything else could be said.
Fear and regret left Raph numb. Everything that was happening was his fault. If he hadn’t run away that day, none of this would be happening.
The doctors hadn’t gone far so Raphael was able to hear them but he didn’t understand their medical jargon. All he could do was sit and wait for one of them to come tell him what was happening. Not knowing was the worst feeling.
A few moments later, Leonardo entered the room. His attention was first drawn to the cluster of doctors. Resisting the urge to run over and asks questions, Leo pulled his attention away from them to scan the room. When his eyes fell on Raph, he rushed over.
“He… has a fever.” Raph’s voice was tight with emotion and he had to swallow the lump in his throat before he could continue talking. “They also said that his breathing had slowed. I don’t know what they’re doing.”
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Raph took a few steadying breaths. Getting back to his old ways, he refused to let his emotions get out of control.
Leo held his hand, squeezing it gently to show his solidarity in the moment. Raph allowed it. They took comfort in one another while they feared the worst, neither of them taking their eyes off the doctors.
Raph was usually not one to pray but he silently bargained with any higher power out there to save Yoshi.
When one of the doctors started to approach them, Raph’s heart began to hammer in his chest. He was glad that he was sitting down because he was light headed and ready to pass out. Squeezing Leo’s hand, he braced himself for the worst.
“He’s stable,” the doctor told them, attempting a weak smile. “He still has a fever but we’ve got his oxygen levels back up. He’s going to have to stay in the incubator for now.”
Raph let out a sigh of relief and loosened his grip on Leo’s hand. At least Yoshi was still alive.
“Do you know what happened,” Leo asked.
“He’s premature,” the doctor said, “and going through withdraws, making him weak. There’s any number of things that could have triggered the fever. It could have been an infection or simply a side effect of the dugs leaving his system.”
Though he felt heavy, Raph pulled himself to his feet. “Can we go see him?”
The doctor nodded. “You can. You can talk to him and touch him through the holes. Make sure your touch is not too light or it will tickle, but not in a good way.”
There was already a comfortable chair set up next to the incubator. Raph sat down and slipped his hand through one of the holes to touch Yoshi’s. The tiny fingers barely fit around the top of his.
The doctors left the immediate area, allowing some privacy for the small family.
A stray tear traveled down Raph’s cheek. His time with his son had been all too short. Leaning in close to the hole so Yoshi could hear him, Raph softly sang in his gravelly voice,
“If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you.”
His throat closed, preventing him from continuing the song. Taking a deep breath, he hoped to catch Yoshi’s scent but it was drowned out by the smell of sterilized medical equipment.
“I let myself get attached,” Raph confessed.
“I did too.” Leo leaned in and nuzzled Raph. “He still has a chance.”
“Leo?” Donny walked through the door, looking around. “Did you find out what Raph wanted to eat?” He caught sight of them next to the enclosed incubator and made his way over. “What happened?”
“Fever,” Leo answered.
Looking at the monitors, Donny nodded his understanding. “It is high. But, he looks to be stable.”
“Donny,” Raph pleaded, looking up at his brother.
Kneeling next to Raph, Donny looked him in the eyes. “I know you guys see me as some miracle worker but I can’t do anything more for him than what’s already been done. He’s in good hands.”
“Okay,” Raph said, resisting the urge to breakdown in to uncontrollable sobs. Turning his attention back to Yoshi, he mumbled, “I’m gonna stay here with him.”
“I’m gonna stay for a while too,” Leo said.
“Alright,” Donny said. “I understand. I’ll let Mikey and father know what happened and then come back in to check on you later.”
He gave Raph’s shoulder and reassuring squeeze before leaving. It wasn’t long after that Splinter arrived. He pulled up a chair and sat next to Raph, silently giving him support and love.
Hours passed and it was just after dawn before Yoshi’s fever broke. Even then, Raph refused to leave. He had been in the medical bay for more than a day and the doctors insisted that he a break.
It took both Leo and Splinter to get Raph up, and away from Yoshi long enough to go shower and eat something. As soon as he was done, he was back at Yoshi’s side.
Days passed with Raph refusing to leave Yoshi longer than he had to. Every moment with him felt like it was going to be his last and he didn’t want to miss any of it.
The doctors had set up a cot, close to the incubator so that he could at least get some sleep. He managed a few broken hours at a time but worry had him up and in the chair more often than not.
Three days later, Raph returned from a meal break to find the doctors had removed Yoshi from the enclosed incubator. He was laying in an open bassinet, eyes covered, under a UV light.
“The drugs are out of his system,” the doctor informed him as he approached. “He’s just getting a UV treatment for jaundice. You can hold him again, if you’d like.”
“Doesn’t he need his treatment,” Raph asked, looking down at Yoshi.
“I can turn the light on the two of you,” the doctor answered. “He can get his treatment in your arms. The light would probably do you some good as well.”
Raph nodded. “I would like to hold him then.”
“Have a seat,” the doctor said, indicating the chair. “I’ll hand him to you.”
Yoshi let out a grunt as he was lifted and placed on Raph’s chest. The doctor helped Raph get situated and comfortable before adjusting the light. She checked the monitors after everything was done and smiled. “He’s already improving just by being in your arms.”
“Then I’ll hold him for as long as he needs,” Raph replied and gently kissed the top of Yoshi’s head.
“You can hold him until we need to take him for tests,” the doctor said with a smile. “He’s not out of the woods yet but things are starting to look up.”
“Thank you,” Raph said.
“I’ll send someone to let Leonardo know about Yoshi’s improved condition,” the doctor said, making sure to emphasize Yoshi’s improvement.
“He’d appreciate that,” Raph said.
Yoshi let out a long grunt, causing Raph to smile. The doctor left and Raph leaned further back into the chair, relieved that Yoshi was back in his arms.
Yoshi continued to improve with each passing day. Leonardo wanted to stay next to him with Raph but he had three other children who needed him. They wouldn’t have understood if Leo suddenly wasn’t around.
Yoshi showed signs of growing stronger by staying awake and alert longer. He started calling out from his bassinet and wouldn’t quiet down until he was held. The best was when he started to eat on his own. The thin, frail baby was starting to fill out.
The more promising it was that Yoshi would live the more Raph eased up and eventually he was okay with others holding him. He had even allowed Mikey to sit with Yoshi while he took a well needed nap in his own bed.
Things were going so well that it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when things went wrong. The children were tended to by members of the Justice Force so that the whole family could be present when the doctors presented the news.
Raph sat with Yoshi in his arms with Splinter in a chair next to him while the others stood. Leo rested his hand on Raph’s shoulder and waited for what the doctor had to say.
“He’s healthy,” the doctor stated, doing his best to set their minds as ease. “However, while running standard test for newborns, we discovered that he is deaf and blind. His hearing can be corrected with a cochlear implant. But, that will have to wait until we are sure he is strong enough for the surgery.”
“Surgery,” Raph asked, holding Yoshi a little closer. “Don’t hearing aids just go in the ear?”
“Not with the kind he will need,” the doctor explained. “Hearing aids amplify sounds so they may be detected by damaged ears. That won’t work with Yoshi. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.”
Raph looked down at Yoshi. “So, then, whenever he’s put down and no one’s touching him, for all he knows, he’s alone. No wonder why he hates it so much.”
“I do have some good news as well,” the doctor said.
“Yeah? What’s that,” Mikey asked.
The doctor smiled from ear to ear. “He’s finally heathy enough for you to take him out of here.”
“That is good news,” Leo said as he leaned down to get a closer look. “You ready to meet your brothers and sister?”
With a smile on his face he looked at Raph but he showed no sign of joy. With tears in his eyes, he shifted Yoshi’s position in his arms so that he was resting on his chest. “I am so sorry,” he whispered.