Leonardo stayed with Raphael to comfort him through his withdraws. He held his brother while his body shook uncontrollably and tended to his every need. As gloomy as the situation was, Leo was glad to have Raph back in his arms.
The window was open, allowing in the sun’s rays and a cool breeze. The two combined, made the room comfortable enough that it lulled Leo into a light sleep.
A soft knock on the door drew Leo from his doze.
Leonardo carefully pulled away from Raph to see who it was. One of the doctors stood on the other side and he could tell by the look on her face that she was not there for good news.
“We’ll talk in the hall,” Leo whispered as he started to step out.
“You’ll talk in here,” Raph said, stopping Leo. “If it has anything to do with my eggs I want to know.”
Opening the door further, Leo stepped aside to allow the doctor to enter. “We’ll talk in here.”
“Of course,” the doctor agreed as she entered the room. “I am sorry to disturb you but one of the eggs didn’t make it. We ran tests on it. It is Huns and, like the other one, the yolk sack was lacking in nutrients and had trace amounts of THC and opioids.”
“Why are you guys testing to see if they’re Hun’s,” Raph asked. “He’s the only one I’d been with for the past year.”
“Yes, well.” The doctor cleared her throat. “Turtles can store sperm for up to two years. We don’t know if this is the case with you or not so we run the tests.”
Sitting up, Raph’s eyes bore into the doctor. “You’re telling me that Hun’s cum is still inside me and even if I don’t have sex, I can lay another set of fertilized eggs that are his?” Raph’s voice broke at the end as he turned his head to hide his tears.
The doctor walked over to the tatami and sat on the corner, facing Raph. “Once you are stronger, you will be given the option to undergo surgery to remove your female reproductive system with the exception of your ovaries.”
“Why keep the ovaries,” Raph asked unable to look up at the doctor.
“Both your testicles and your ovaries supply you with hormones,” the doctor explained. “Right now, they are balanced. Remove one, and it throws everything off and potentially leading to several medical issues. So, it’s best to keep them.”
“But I won’t lay anymore eggs,” Raph asked, looking her in the eyes.
The doctor nodded. “That is correct.”
“Okay,” Raph nodded. “I can live with that.”
“Good.” The doctor moved closer to Raph to do a quick examination. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been worse,” Raph answered. “At least I’ve stopped shaking.”
“Then the worst is over,” the doctor said with a smile before getting up. “Sleep. Regain your strength. We’ll discuss surgery options later.”
“Thank you,” Raph said as he closed his eyes, “for everything.”
Leo held the door open for the doctor and whispered his thanks as she passed. Closing the door behind her, Leo got back into bed. Raph pushed in close and held Leo tight. The worst was over but he still had far to go before he was fully recovered.
Raph sat sipping his miso soup. It had been several weeks since his brothers had saved him and he was finally starting to regain his strength.
It was strange, being back with his family in a new place. In a way, it helped. If they had gone back to the sewers then he would have felt more pressure for things to go back to the way they were. Here, at the Justice Force headquarters, everything was already different so it was okay for him to be different too.
A squeal of joy warned him that the others were approaching with the kids for their afternoon meal. The squeal came from none other than Alba. She was a happy baby and the first one to open up to Raph.
Savio on the other hand was a grump and definitely Raph’s child. He kept his distance while keeping a wary eye on Raph. Raph though it best to give him his space.
Nevio was shy and quiet, always suckling on that pacifier. He would let Raph hold him and play with him but whenever Donny entered the room Nevio would go straight for him, whining to be picked up.
Alba waved ‘hi’ to Raph as soon as they walked into the dining area while Savio glared at him.
It was funny watching the kids eat and seeing their personalities shine through. Nevio ate quickly, intent on getting his pacifier back as soon as possible. Alba played with her food more than ate it. And, Savio took his time, carefully picking up his food with his fingers, demonstrating the part of him that was Leo.
“You doing alright,” Leo asked as he did his best to keep Alba under control.
“The rice and the miso are settling well,” Raph answered. “I think I’m ready to start increasing my exercise routine. The stretching and light weights aren’t cutting it anymore.”
“You don’t want to push yourself too hard and set yourself back,” Donny warned.
“I know,” Raph replied. “I’m not looking to spar or start bench pressing again. I just wanna start on some basic katas.”
“I can’t think any reason why you shouldn’t be able to,” Leo said. “Master Splinter and I will come up with a regimen for you.”
“Yeah, okay,” Raph conceded. He was perfectly capable of doing it himself but would allow Leo to take care of him for a little while longer. He could see it in Leo’s eyes, how much it meant to him. “Just remember that I’m still recovering. Don’t pick anything too hard.”
Leo smiled. “I promise.”
Every afternoon, Raphael moved through his katas under the watchful eye of Master Splinter and Leonardo. Though he was weaker and out of practice, the motions were like second nature it him and he managed to execute each one flawlessly.
Each time he proved he was capable of completing all the katas at one level, they allowed him to move up to the next. Pure will and determination helped him recover and rebuild his muscle mass. He was not going to allow what happened to him keep him down for long.
Each night, Raph slept in between his brothers, comforted by their presence. Mikey always insisted on sleeping in the middle with him. In the morning, Mikey stayed with him while the others tended to the babies. Raph indulged him by sleeping in a little as well.
Raph felt like an outsider when it came to the children, like he was someone there for a visit. It didn’t help that Savio and Nevio were wary of him. He wanted to do more but he didn’t feel like it was his place.
“Alba,” Leo called out.
Raph sat up in time to see the small turtle toddling out of the nursery with a big grin on her face. “Hi!” she waved when she noticed him and changed direction, heading for the bed. She was still wobbly on her feet, learning to walk only a few days ago.
Leo poked his head through the door. “Good you’re up. Will you tend to her while Don and I take care of the boys?”
Raph glanced down at Mikey, whose eyes were still closed, before answering, “Sure.”
Alba fell on to her hands and knees when she reached the tatami and crawled the rest of the way to Raph. Sitting down, she reached out to him. “Up.”
Raph nudged his brother. “Mikey?”
“She came to you, dude,” Mikey yawned. “Pick her up.”
“Alright,” Raph mumbled, lifting Alba as he got to his feet. “I can do this.”
“No need to panic,” Mikey reassured him. “She’s the easy one. Just take her to the kitchen. Leo and Don will be there in a few to make her breakfast.”
“You comin’,” Raph asked him.
“You need me to,” Mikey asked in return.
Raph nodded. “Yeah.” He still wasn’t comfortable being alone with them.
“Okay,” Mikey said, smiling softly as he got to his feet. “I’ll go with you.”
“Thanks,” Raph said as they made their way out of the room.
Alba babbled up at Raph while they waited in the kitchen. The expressions on her face changed as she spoke, as if she were having a conversation.
Mikey smiled. “She likes you.”
“I wonder what’s going through her mind,” Raph wondered.
Alba squealed and smiled at hearing Raph’s voice. When he didn’t say anything more she continued babbling.
Leo and Don entered the kitchen, carrying Savio and Nevio respectively. Donny instructed Raph on how to put Alba in her highchair and then placed Nevio in his.
They were about to feed the children when one of the doctors entered the kitchen. “Somethings come up,” he said, looking at Raph and Leo.
“What’s going on,” Leo asked, staying calm while Raph fought back a surge of panic.
“We need to make a decision,” the doctor said. “There is reason to believe that the yolk sack in the final egg is depleted. Even though it’s premature, we think it would be best to open the egg now. We need to feed it, if the baby inside is going to be given any chance of survival.”
“What makes you think the yolk sack is depleted,” Donny asked.
“The egg is trembling,” the doctor answered. “The baby was getting a steady supply of opioids through the yolk. The trembling is a sign of withdraws, telling us that the supply has been depleted.”
“Can I be there when you open the egg,” Raph asked.
The doctor nodded. “That’s why I’m here. To get your permission and to see if you would like to be there when we do.”
“If you want to go with Raph, Mikey and I will tend to the children,” Donny offered. “Make sure you check with Splinter. I know he would want to be there. He should be watching the news.”
“Would you be alright if father and I join you,” Leo asked Raph.
Raph nodded. “I would like that… very much.”
Raph’s heart pounded as they got Splinter and headed to the infirmary. He was lead to where the egg was being kept and instructed where to stand. From where they placed him, he had a clear view of the egg.
It was visibly shaking and weak cries could be heard, muffled by the shell. His eyes stayed fixed on it as they carefully cracked it open.
As the doctors gingerly pealed the shell away, more of the baby within could be seen. “It’s so small” Leo whispered.
Once they had it removed from the egg, the doctors got to work assessing its health. They connected monitors to it and inserted a feeding tube. The baby cried throughout the whole process.
Leo stood next to Raph and placed a comforting hand on his shell. “Its crying is a good sign. It means that at least its lungs are developed.”
When they were done, one of the doctors approached Raph. “Would you like to hold it?”
“Would that be okay,” Raph asked. “It won’t hurt it?”
The doctor shook his head. “Holding it will help it. Skin to skin contact is therapeutic.”
Raph nodded and the doctor led him to a chair. He helped to get Raph settled before picking up the baby and placing it on Raph’s chest. “This is the best way to hold it for now, with as much skin contact as possible.
“Its future is still uncertain,” the doctor told them “He’s premature, underweight and has to go through withdraws, but he seems strong. He might just surprise us all.”
‘So, don’t get attached,’ Raph thought to himself as he took in the baby’s scent. Leaning back, Raph settled himself in, intending to stay there as long as they allowed.
Leonardo and Splinter stood next to Raph to get a better look at the baby. “Do you need me to get you anything,” Leo asked. “I know you didn’t get a chance to eat.”
“Maybe a granola bar or something,” Raph said. “I don’t think I could each much right now.”
Splinter leaned over to look at the baby, placing his hand gently on its shell. “He has a strong spirit.” A soft smile turned up the edges of his mouth. “He looks like Leonardo.”
“You have good intuition,” a doctor said as she walked up. “The baby is a boy and he is Leonardo’s son.”
Raph looked up in disbelief. “He is?”
“Yeah,” the doctor smiled. “Maybe that’s way he’s so strong. It’s in his genes.”
Raph would have accepted the baby even if it had been Hun’s but hearing that it was Leo’s was a monumental relief. He wouldn’t have to see the face of his tormentor whenever he looked at his child.
With tears in his eyes, Raph kissed the top of the baby’s head. “I want to name him Yoshi.”
“My master would be honored,” Splinter said.
Leonardo knelt down and leaned in close to the baby. “Stay strong, Yoshi. My son.” Looking up at Raph, he smiled. “I love you.”
Raph’s heart skipped a beat and his cheeks burned at hearing those words. To cover his embarrassment, he gently shoved Leo, knocking him back on his butt. “Just because everyone’s okay with it does not mean I’m gonna start with the PDA.”
Leo chuckled as he pulled himself off the floor. “That’s fine. You don’t have to say it. I know.” He leaned down to kiss the top of Raph’s head. “I’m going to check on the kids and get you something to eat. I’ll be back in a few.”
Raph nodded his understanding. “Alright.”
Before he turned to leave, Leo asked, “Would you mind if Mikey and Don came in to see Yoshi?”
“That’d be fine,” Raph answered. “But it might be best if they don’t bring the kids. If Yoshi doesn’t make it….”
“Good call,” Leo agreed. “We’ll wait until Yoshi’s stronger, just in case.” Raph could see his own mix of emotions looking back at him through Leo’s eyes. They wanted to hope but they both knew that there was a good chance Yoshi wouldn’t make it.