There were worse ways to go, Casey reflected.
He could see the sunset if he turned his head, all the reds and pinks he'd come to love in this timeline. It was rather peaceful, too, up in the sky and separated from the chaos below. And, most importantly, he wasn't alone.
Even if his friends -family- hadn't noticed what was wrong yet. He could hear them, talking and joking to the side, unaware of why Casey had laid down. He wanted to just keep listening to them for as long as he could…
Trust Raph to notice first. Casey turned his head toward Raph, stifling a grimace.
Raph knelt. "Is something wrong?"
"I think… I'm dying, Raph."
Casey blinked slowly at Raph's panic. Honestly, there were worse places or circumstances.
"Tell me you're joking!" Raph yelled.
Casey squinted at Raph. "Raph… do I look like… I'm joking?"
"Bu-but, you- guys, get over here, now!"
"Wassa matter, Raph?" Leo asked, sauntering over, "Still sore about not making- woah, what's wrong, Casey?"
Casey lifted one hand, keeping the other clamped tight against his stomach. Leo knelt, his expression turning oddly to one of horror as he took Casey's hand.
"I'm-" Casey briefly curled in his legs with a groan, "I'm dying, Leo."
This time, everyone yelled. Mikey, Donnie, and April had joined them just in time for Casey's explanation. Instantly, everyone was crowding around Casey, voices overlapping.
"I have a scanner-"
"Where're you hurt?"
"I have Band-Aids-"
"-didn't tell us you where hurt-"
"How are you hurt?!"
Casey groaned and closed his eyes, which only seemed to make everyone panic more. Casey forced his eyes open, squinting against the pain.
"Guys… please." Casey tried, he really tried, to not whimper, but it hurt. "Just… just stay with me."
"We're staying, and so are you!" Raph snapped. "Donnie, get to the lair and prep the infirmary, we need to find out what's wrong. Casey, what hurts?"
"My-my stomach," Casey whispered.
Leo closed the portal behind Donnie and looked around. "But you've been with us all this time, and all we've done is watch Raph fail to set a new record! What could have caused it?"
"P-poison?" Casey groaned and curled over his twisting stomach. "I-it feels like that."
"I'm not even going to ask how you know what being poisoned feels like," Raph said.
Casey squinted at him. "I've been poisoned…?"
"Casey- no. Just, no. I'm going to pick you up, okay?"
Casey groaned when Raph's arms shifted him. But he grit his teeth and determined to stay quiet for whatever time he had left. He clenched his eyes against the bright blue of Leo's portal, only opening them when Raph put him back down.
Donnie was over him a second later, waving some sort of medical scanner over Casey. He frowned at the scanner, then moved quickly out of sight.
Casey turned slightly to watch, but twisting sent a twist of roiling pain through his stomach. He returned to his curled-up position, noting distantly that the pressure helped.
"Casey?" Raph touched Casey's forehead. "Hang in there, Casey."
"Tryin'" Casey grunted.
"I still don't understand," April said. "Casey hasn't left our sights, and he hasn't eaten or drank anything we haven't. How could he have gotten poisoned? And who'd want to poison him?"
"One question at a time," Donnie mumbled, suddenly appearing with a needle at Casey's side. "Arm out, hold it still, Raph."
Casey twitched at the needle prick. Donnie walked away and squirted a bit of Casey's blood into a tray, which he then put into a small, boxy machine.
Casey watched with detached curiosity. His stomach was still roiling, and getting worse.
"Casey, can you describe the pain?" Donnie asked.
"F-feels like my stomach's… in a vise." Casey curled tighter, pressing his knees against his stomach. "C-can someone… put me out of… my misery?"
"Stop talking like that," Raph ordered shakily, looking near tears.
"Y-you're going to be fine," Mikey said. Not very convincingly, since he had tears running down his cheeks.
Leo flapped his hands and shifted his feet, staring at the ceiling. He was mumbling to himself, "Maybe it doesn't affect turtles… except April's not a turtle…"
"It isn't poison."
Donnie's statement made everyone freeze.
"I'm not finding any signs of toxins in you," Donnie said, turning from his computer.
"No, Casey's dying in here just because he feels like it," April snorted.
Casey chuckled, then immediately winced and pressed his forehead against his knees. Whatever was trying to kill him, he wished it would get it over with.
"Could be something he ate," Donnie mused, suddenly the least alarmed in the room.
"Donnie, you just said it wasn't that," Raph growled.
"I said there aren't any toxins in Casey," Donnie said importantly. "But it still might have been something he ate."
"And I think you ate it, too," Leo said.
Donnie pushed Leo's hand away from his forehead. "No, what I mean is Casey must have some sort of food poisoning."
Casey lifted his face from his knees. "...what?"
"Wait, wait, he's right," April said. "Casey grew up eating rats and… and algae on stale crackers, right?"
"Still disgusting, but so?" Mikey asked.
"So he's not used to our foods!" April said.
"Please just kill me," Casey pleaded.
"Food poisoning won't kill you," April said.
Casey blinked slowly at her. "No?"
"Unless it's a food allergy," Donnie added. "That could."
April smacked his shoulder. "You could have said that sooner! How do we figure out which one it is?"
"We'll have to wait for this to…" Donnie made a sweeping motion with one hand, "Pass."
"And how long will that take?" Leo asked.
"Uh… depends on the type and severity of the allergy…"
"Which could also kill Casey if we don't treat it," Raph reminded Donnie.
Casey groaned as his gut clenched. "I'm going to be sick."
"That's another option." Donnie rifled through a cabinet and produced a bottle. "We could also induce vomiting. Bottom's up, Casey."
A little bit later, Casey laid in his room, feeling slightly less like he was dying. But only slightly. Because while the pain in his stomach had lessened slightly, it felt hollow and achy from throwing up.
Casey squirmed uncomfortably and curled onto his side to press his knees against his chest. He burrowed under the extremely fluffy blanket Leo had found for him, hiding in the dark warmth. He tugged at his pajamas, searching for a distraction.
Everything about the past was just plain weird for Casey, but pajamas were pretty high on the list. April had picked them out specifically for him, explaining that in the past, people had special clothes they only wore at night.
And when they were sick, apparently. Casey hadn't bothered to ask when Raph suggested the pajamas. He was too distracted by the increasing pain caused by just standing.
Laying down helped, though. Casey continued to prod his pajamas. They were thin, with no protection whatsoever. But they were soft and dark blue, and covered in little hockey sticks. They were a bit weird… but Casey liked them.
Casey was pulled from his thoughts by another twinge in his stomach. He groaned and curled up a little bit tighter.
"Leave me alone to die," Casey mumbled to Raph.
"Aw, you're not dying." A finger poked his covered shoulder. "Hey, where's your head?"
"Between my knees," Casey mumbled.
"Do you feel like throwing up again?"
"Don't have anything left…"
"Well… that's good, at least. Come on out, you need to drink some water."
The blanket was pulled back. "You're going to get dehydrated, then get sick again."
"I've gone two days without water," Casey said.
Raph scowled at him.
"I'm going to throw up the water," Casey mumbled.
"I think the worst is over, buddy," Raph said kindly. "Come on. Sit up."
Casey did so grudgingly, grimacing and moaning when his stomach protested moving. When he opened his eyes again, he stared blankly at the object sitting on the edge of the glass of water in Raph's hands.
"What is that?" Casey asked.
Casey poked the thing. "That."
"Oh! It's a bendy straw," Raph said. "You drink through it."
Casey also didn't understand bendy straws… but he did discover that the ridged part of the bendy straw could be formed into different shapes.
That distraction lasted a little bit longer, long enough for Casey to suddenly realize he needed the bathroom. Fast.
Two hours later, Casey felt almost normal again. So, he put his day clothes back on and left his room in search of the others.
April found him first.
"Casey, what are you doing out of bed?!"
Casey froze and looked sheepishly over his shoulder. "I feel better now? I didn't mean to-"
"Nope, don't care, you shouldn't be on your feet. Come on, let's go sit on the couch and find a soap opera to watch."
It took a week and a handful of tests for them to figure out what had happened.
"Lactose… intolerant." Casey stared at the floor, then at Donnie. "What's lactose?"
"A sugar in dairy products," Donnie said, eyes on his tablet. "It's a common enough condition that's present for a variety of sources, but the reason remains the same. Not enough of an enzyme in your small intestine called-"
"Okay, okay, so Casey's allergic to milk?" Raph asked.
"To lactose, is nobody listening to what I'm saying?" Donnie asked.
"Not for the last five minu-" Leo looked at his wrist, "Nope, ten minutes."
"I have been listening, but I don't understand," Casey said slowly.
Donnie grunted, then set aside his tablet. "Any foods containing dairy can't be properly digested in your system. Since you've never experienced the symptoms, I'm going to assume milk wasn't part of your normal diet in the future."
"Oh, milk. No, Sensei used to talk about it. He said cows went extinct a couple years after I was born."
Mikey sputtered. "Say again?"
"Well." Donnie blinked once, then twice. "That would explain how you didn't know about being lactose intolerant."
"But when did I have milk?" Casey asked.
"I feel like we've forgotten to explain some very important things to you," April said with a wince.
"Cheese," Donnie answered. "The white gooey stuff on the pizza you ate that day."
Casey's mouth dropped open. "That's what made me sick? But it was so good!"
"Unfortunately, it's the good things in life that hurt the worst," Leo said solemnly.
"What?" Casey asked.
Raph shoved Leo backwards. "Ignore him. It'll be fine; we'll just make sure you don't eat anything with milk or cheese in it."
Casey stared at the floor.
"Something wrong?" April asked.
Casey shrugged. "I still want to eat pizza again."
"No can do, unless you want to get sick and feel like you're dying again."
"But…" Casey lifted his head and grinned. "It didn't kill me. And cheese won't kill me, right?"
"Well, no," Donnie said.
"No," April said. "No way, no how."
"You want to suffer through all that again?" Raph asked.
Casey's shrug was sheepish. "It was good!"
Leo snorted and clapped a hand on Casey's shoulder. "I gotta agree with you there. Pizza is to die for."
"We are not-" Raph started.
"But it won't kill me!" Casey protested.
"I'm ordering right now!" Mikey said.
Raph clapped a hand to his forehead and left the room, muttering, "I give up."