The television abruptly shut off before the three turtle toddlers’ drowsy eyes. They turned their attention to their father, the culprit.
He smiled. “Time for bed, boys.”
Leonardo yawned. “Five more minutes…please?”
Splinter chuckled and scooped up his youngest, who was asleep on the couch.
“No, Leonardo, it is getting late. Come now.”
Leo rubbed his eyes. “Okay.”
“You need no second bidding tonight?” Splinter joked. “You must be very tired.” He then noticed that Michelangelo felt a tad warmer than usual and felt his forehead and face.
Leo, Donnie, and Raph all three nodded and yawned, and Splinter walked behind them to guide them to their bedroom. Each of them climbed into their homemade cots and awaited their father to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.
Splinter placed the dozing Mikey on his cot and tucked him in snugly. He decided he would feel his forehead again just to be safe.
“You are a bit warm…” he muttered. Nonetheless, he kissed his forehead and went on to tuck in and kiss his older three.
“Goodnight, my sons. I love you all,” he said before exiting the room.
Splinter gave his boys one last fervent glance and then retired to his dojo for his routine late night meditation.
He sat himself down cross-legged in his dojo and lit two candles around him. He exhaled deeply and began the relaxing of his body and then his mind. Having mastered the art long ago, it didn’t take long for the world around him to slip away. All thoughts of the day had disappeared: the mishaps, the spills, the booboos, and the petty fighting, an ordinary day in the Hamato family. It had all slipped to the temporary vault in the back of his mind. All that he had to think about was his own breathing and the stillness of his relaxing muscles.
“Daddy…” a small voice moaned.
That quickly, the vault opened and his thoughts released throughout his brain. He sighed and opened his eyes. There before him in the candlelight stood his youngest son gazing at him with tired and uncomfortable baby blue eyes.
“What is it, my dear?”
“Daddy, I frew up…”
It was then that Splinter noticed that Mikey’s chin and plastron were covered in vomit. He sighed and massaged his temples.
“Did you make it to the bathroom?”
Mikey shook his head. “I frew up in my bed. Sorry, I was sleepin’.”
Splinter rose to his feet. “That is alright, Michelangelo.” He took the little one’s hand. “Come now, let’s get you cleaned up.”
“Okay…” Mikey allowed himself to be led off to their only bathroom, dragging his feet all the way.
Splinter turned on the faucet and began to fill the bathtub. He knelt down and turned to Mikey.
“Do you still feel sick, my son?”
Mikey groaned and rubbed his belly. “A little.”
“Alright, just try to hold out until I can get you back into your bed.”
“Daddy!” A voice yelled for him from his sons’ bedroom.
Splinter sighed. “It looks like someone else needs me too.” He placed Mikey in the tub. “Why don’t you try and wash yourself off a bit? I will come back and help you in a moment.” He handed Mikey a wet rag.
Mikey gave him a sleepy nod. “Hai, Sensei.”
Splinter stood. “Please, do not go anywhere.”
Splinter entered the bedroom to find that the voice yelling for him had come from Leonardo. He was sitting up in his bed with his arms folded over his chest, showing his disapproval.
“What is the matter, Leonardo?”
“Daddy, I woke up and now I can’t go back to sleep ‘cause something stinks in here,” he complained. “It stinks really bad.”
“My apologies, my son. Michelangelo got sick in his bed. In fact, I’m going to change his sheets right now.”
Leo held his nose. “Well, please hurry ‘cause it smells.”
Splinter stripped down the bed at the end of the row of the four and, though filthy, folded the sheets neatly. Without another word, he went to exit the room, not wanting to leave a sick Mikey alone for too long.
“Daddy, is Mikey okay?” Leo asked.
Splinter turned and grinned. “Yes Leonardo, your brother is fine. He is just feeling a bit sick. Go back to sleep now.”
Leo groaned. “But it still stinks…”
“Just give it time to pass. It will be gone soon. Good night, Leonardo.”
Leo yawned. “Good night.”
Splinter trudged off to their tiny laundry room and threw the contaminated bed sheets in his antique washing machine. He opened a plastic tote beside the machine and pulled out a rubber liner and a spare blanket. He then began to wonder how many times he would have to switch between Mikey’s sheets and spare sheets throughout the night.
“Da-a-dd-y-y!” A tear-stricken voice screamed for him from what he could tell was the bathroom.
He sighed and paced to the bathroom. When he entered, he saw Mikey, soaking wet, heaving into the toilet.
“Da-addy…” He croaked through tears.
Splinter knelt beside him and stroked his shell in soothing circles. “Do not cry, my son. You will be alright.”
Mikey hiccupped. “S-sick…”
“I know, I know,” Splinter soothed, “but I am sure it’s just a small tummy bug. We will get you cleaned up and then get you back in the bed so you can lie down.”
“Are you all done?”
Mikey nodded and Splinter took some tissue from the toilet paper roll and wiped his mouth. He then scooped him up and set him back in the tub.
“No daddy,” he whined, “I just wanna go back to bed.”
“I know, and I will make this quick, but you cannot go back to bed without being cleaned properly.”
Mikey groaned as his father thoroughly scrubbed his plastron.
Splinter lay Mikey down on his own cot after covering it with the spare sheets and tucked him in.
“I am sorry, my sweet, I must do one last thing before I let you go to sleep,” he said and put the thermometer near Mikey’s face. “Open up.”
Mikey reluctantly opened his mouth and Splinter tucked the thermometer under his tongue.
“Keep it under your tongue.”
Splinter sniffed the air and took note of the fact that the room still smelled foul.
He sighed. “Why does it still stink in here?”
The thermometer beeped and Splinter pulled it from his son’s mouth. It read 65.1 degrees, five degrees higher than healthy. He ruffled Mikey’s head.
“Well you definitely have a fever. Would you like a glass of water before you go to sleep?”
Mikey shook his head, barely holding his eyes open.
“Stinks in here,” he groaned.
“Yes, I know. It is just from you throwing up in your bed. It will pass.” He leaned in and kissed Mikey on his forehead. “Yell for me or come and get me if you need me.”
Splinter moved to the neighboring cot to check on Donatello and tuck him in again. He was alarmed to find that the foul smell seemed to get worse. Something in him told him to pull down the blankets. He did so and recoiled at the horrendous sight. Donatello had voided his bowels all over his cot and himself.
He held a hand over his muzzle as he stepped back and took a second to recompose himself and then sighed as he carefully shook Donnie awake.
“Donatello?” he whispered. “Donatello, wake up, my son.”
Donnie rolled over with a groan. “W-what?”
Splinter cautiously lifted him up. “Come with me. You had an accident.” He carried him off to the bathroom, holding him away from his body and sat him in the empty tub.
“I feel nauseous…”
Splinter turned on the faucet. “You must have what Mikey has,” he said.
Splinter filled up the cup on the side of the tub and rinsed off Donnie’s lower half.
Donnie gasped. “Did I poop in my bed?”
Splinter chuckled lightly. “Yes, you did. It is okay, though. Accidents happen when you are sick.”
“Please don’t tell my brothers…”
Splinter grinned and finally put the plug in the drain and began to fill the tub.
“Do not worry, my son, this will stay between the two of us. Do you think you could clean yourself while I go change your sheets?”
Donnie nodded and picked up the washrag.
Splinter rose to his feet and went to the boys’ room.
He, once again, stripped a cot and neatly folded the contaminated blankets.
“Daddy…”a voice groaned.
“What is it, Raphael?”
“M-my head hurts,” Raph sat up and rubbed his forehead. “And it smells bad in here.”
“Donatello and Michelangelo got sick in their beds,” Splinter explained. “Try to get some rest. I must tend to Donatello, but if you still have a headache when I am done, let me know and I will take care of it.”
Raph yawned and threw his head back on the pillow. “Okay...”
Splinter gathered up the blankets and once again and took them to the laundry room. He moved Mikey’s sheets to the dryer and loaded the washing machine with Donnie’s. He then retrieved another bed liner from the tote and made his way back to the boys’ room.
While he remade Donnie’s bed, he heard Mikey roll over and groan loudly in his bed. He watched him for a moment, and once he saw that the little one had seemed to settle again, he returned his attention to the bed.
After another few seconds, Mikey began to whimper in his bed.
“Mikey, stop that. My head hurts,” Raph whined.
Mikey whimpered a little louder.
“Raphael,” Splinter scolded. “Hush. Your brother does not feel well either. Yelling at him won’t make either of you feel better.”
“Daddy,” Mikey whined.
Mikey sat up. “I think…I think I g-gotta use the potty.” He felt his tummy cramp up and rumble loudly, and he began to panic. He rolled out of bed. “Y-yeah, I gotta go!”
Splinter rushed to his side, scooped him up, and took him to the bathroom. He lifted the toilet lid with his foot and placed Mikey on the seat just in time before his bowels released. He breathed a sigh of relief.
Mikey began to cry.
“It is alright, Michelangelo. It is just diarrhea,” Splinter soothed.
“B-but my guts are g-gonna fa-all out!” Mikey screamed. “I-it hurts! It hu-urts!”
Splinter chuckled. “My son, you cannot poop out your organs.”
“Actually,” Donnie spoke up from the bath tub, “it is possible to poop your own guts. Like one time, on TV…”
“Donatello, please!” Splinter interrupted. “No, Michelangelo, you will be fine. Do not cry.”
In spite of his father’s soothing, Mikey continued to cry while his bowels moved almost endlessly.
Donatello felt the contents of his stomach begin to rise.
“What is wrong, Donatello?”
Donnie breathed heavier. “I think I’m gonna vomit…”
“Oh no. Oh no, no, no.” Splinter pulled him from the tub and frantically looked for a place for him to spill his stomach contents. He spotted the sink, and though he didn’t like the idea, knew he didn’t have much other choice or much time to even think of something else. He reluctantly held Donnie over the sink, and immediately his stomach released.
Splinter cringed as he watched the sink he had just cleaned earlier that day fill with vomit.
Donatello too began to cry, causing Mikey to cry even more.
Splinter rubbed Donnie’s shell in soothing circles, while he vomited for several minutes. Splinter was in awe that a little three-year-old could hold so much in such a tiny belly.
“Are you finished, Donatello?”
Donnie nodded sleepily.
Splinter got a tissue and wiped his mouth. “Come now, let’s get you back into bed.”
“Wait!” Donnie protested. “Gotta brush my teeth! Throw up will rot them!”
Splinter grinned and set him back on the floor. “Of course.” He retrieved Donnie’s toothbrush and dabbed it with toothpaste. “Open up.”
Donnie opened up and Splinter brushed his teeth for him. He glanced over and saw that Mikey had stopped crying and was dozing off on the toilet.
“Michelangelo,” he said, “are you all done now?”
Mikey nodded. “Mm-hmm.”
“Okay, just wait one moment. I must get your brother back into bed, and then I will clean you.”
“I can do it…” Mikey protested.
“I know you can, my son, but I just want to make sure you are cleaned well enough after…that.”
Splinter scooped up Donnie and went back to the bedroom.
“Daddy,” Raphael whined upon his entry.
Splinter laid Donnie on his cot and tucked him in. “What is the matter, Raphael?” He leaned in and kissed Donnie’s forehead.
“Tell Mikey and Donnie to be quiet,” he sobbed. “My head still hurts and I can hear them in the bathroom. They’re noisy.”
“Again, I am sorry, Raphael. Give me a moment and I will see what I can do about your headache.” He went to his bedside and nuzzled his cheek. “Please, do not cry. Daddy will take care of it.”
Raph hiccupped. “’kay…”
Splinter returned to the bathroom, cleaned up Mikey and returned him to his cot as well. He kissed him on the head. “Get some rest now, sweetheart.”
He went back to the bathroom to retrieve the thermometer and a cold, wet rag. He placed the wet rag on Raph’s forehead and then sat on Donnie’s bed.
“Open up, Donatello,” he said.
Donnie opened his mouth and Splinter stuck the thermometer under his tongue.
“Keep it under your tongue,” he whispered.
Trusting Donnie to hold it in place, he decided he would get up and check on Leonardo. He adjusted his oldest son’s blankets and felt his forehead. He sighed. He was beginning to feel warm as well, but alas, he still appeared to be sleeping soundly.
Splinter returned to Donnie and removed the thermometer. It read 64.9 degrees.
“You have a pretty bad fever too, Donatello,” he said and rubbed the little one’s shoulder. “Do you need anything? Perhaps a glass of water?”
Donnie shook his head. “No thank you,” he squeaked.
“Alright then, try to get some rest.”
He went to Raphael and took him into his lap. He cradled him and adjusted the rag on his forehead.
“I wish I had something to give you for your headache, my sweet,” he whispered and felt his cheek with the back of his hand; it was a bit warm. “It looks like you’ve got a fever too.”
Raph groaned as more tears streamed down his little face. “H-hurts…”
“I know, I know,” Splinter cooed sympathetically. “This might help.” He began to massage his temples for him.
For several minutes, Splinter sat holding Raphael in one arm and massaging his temples with his free hand until the little one began to drift off in his arms. He carefully tucked him back in, took the wet rag off of his forehead and kissed him goodnight. He checked on each of his sons one last time and tiptoed toward the doorway.
Splinter turned to see Mikey sitting up in his bed. “Don’t go…I w-want you…”
Next, Donnie sat up. “Don’t go, daddy. Stay with me.”
Leo stirred. “D-daddy…sta-a-ay…”
Raph sat up last and just held out his arms, giving his father a pouty, pleading stare.
Splinter sighed. “Very well. You win.” He sat on the floor and leaned against the wall.
All four boys gathered up their pillows and laid on the floor all around their father.
“I guess I am camping out in here tonight, then.”