Mikey squealed as he skid around the corner of the couch. Two of his older brothers laughter echoed back at him, and only made move fast as a hand brushed again his head. The fingers wrapped around the streaming tails of his mask, and he could feel it as it was yanked off. Strong arms pulled at him, but as he wiggled away from his captor, and the patter of his feet could be heard as he dashed down the hallway.
Donnie let out an exasperated sigh. This was supposed to be the easy job, or so he had told himself. With Master Splinter sick, it had fallen upon his shoulders, as well as Leo and Raph’s, to get Mikey ready for bed. In the long run though, they should have gone over each job more carefully. Who in their right mind put Leo up for cooking Mikey’s supper? Or have Raph give him a bath? And here he was, trying to catch the youngest of them all so that he could drag him away to bed. It would have been much simpler if he had cooked Mikey’s supper, if Leo had given him the bath, and if Raph had been in charge of getting their little brother, he would have had him by now. This little game had already gone on for a full twenty minutes already, and counting. Donnie had had little help from his brothers either, as they were too busy laughing at him, clearly amused with his dilemma. Of course, a half hour ago, Donnie was the one laughing at Raph...and an hour ago, his and Raphael’s enjoyment had been directed at Leo’s rather impressive cooking skills. Each brother had their own time in the embarrassing spotlight, but Donnie wasn’t going to be in it anymore.
“Fine,” He said nonchalantly. “You win Mikey. But if I don’t see your little turtle tail in the bed in one minute, there is going to be no bedtime story for you,” Donnie smirked at his own genius. He was not going to be outsmarted by one so young, and he knew his little brother well. Mikey loved the stories Master Splinter would read to him every night, and he wouldn’t give that up for anything in the world.
It only took about three seconds for a familiar green blur to fly towards them. Mikey’s naked face bore up at them, his mischievous grin contagious. After giving both Leo and Raph a heartfelt hug each, he took Donnie’s hand, dragging him off to his room. “Come on,” For once, he was antsy to go to bed. If anyone would carry out his threats, it would be Donnie. Glancing at the clock, Mikey picked up the pace. Sure, he didn’t understand what the lines on the round thing meant, but the more it ticked, the less time he had. He knew that much at least.
Donnie only shook his head as he picked up his little brother. He tucked Mikey deep into the covers, much like their father did. Turning to the bookshelf, he sighed in relief. The worst part was over. All he had to do was read a few words before heading off to his lab. He had some projects he wanted to finish, so the quicker he got this done, the better. “Okay, so which one do you want?”
“No!” Surprisingly, Mikey crossed his arms. “New! I want new!” Beaming up at his older brother, there was only an innocent and pure childish want. “Tell me a new story Donnie!”
Donnie stood there for a few seconds, his mind running. He’d have to come up with something on the spot, something that would keep Mikey occupied long enough for him to fall asleep. And although Donnie knew he had a good imagination, he was sure that Mikey would not want a story on how the planets revolve around the sun. No, Donnie was more a facts person, and he would use those facts to make things. But here, now, he had nothing to start with. Nothing but those big, wide eyes looking up at him. But it was when he saw that gaze, he knew what he was going to do.
“Scoot over,” Donnie laughed as he sat beside Mikey. “I’m going to tell you a story that’s very special to me. Sensei told it to me, Raph, and Leo before when we were about your age,” Glancing around, Donnie leaned into Mikey’s ear, whispering as if there was some secret that only he could pass down. “But I don’t think they got the seriousness of it.”
“Seer-ree-uss-ness?” Mikey murmured back, already one edge for Donnie to continue.
“Close enough,” Donnie chuckled. “It went like this:
There once was an oak growing in a forest. He was tall, and strong, and had very strong roots. He had many friends and family in the forest alongside him, but he had also allied himself with the wind. As we all know, the wind can be kind, and gentle, but only when it wants to be. In truth, it is wild, and untamed. It can lash out at anything and everything for absolutely nothing, no reason at all.
One day, the oak fell in love with a beautiful woman. She was a morning glory, delicate and perfect. He did not know that his friend, the wind was jealous, that he wanted the morning glory for himself. But that was impossible, since the wind was a drifter, never stable, never loyal. The morning glory attached herself to the oak, her sweet vines climbing up his trunk and branches. Where once there were two, now there was one.
It was not long before a small tree grew in between them. She was their daughter, created in the wondrous harmony of their love. But this only angered the wind more, and as his rage reached boiling point, he lashed out. A storm grew, and the clouds gathered, hitting against one another, causing lightning to form.
It only took one strike. The pure electricity burned the morning glory, her petals dropping to the ground, black and charred. She withered away until there was nothing left except for the oak’s screams. Her touch, which once was wrapped around him so tightly, fell away, never to be felt again.
The oak could knew that it was his time. Fire lapped up at him, scorching him. But just as quickly as the clouds had caused his pain, they helped, raining down on him the relief he needed. But as the smoke cleared, and the sun began to shine, the oak was horrified. Everything was gone. His family, his friends. His daughter. Somehow he was in a new place, a new home. All alone. He had no one.
Now, the oak didn’t know it at the time, but there were seeds in the ground that he stood upon. When these seeds sprouted, he saw that there was life left for him, that he could raise up these children that, just like him, had no one. And together, they made the unlikeliest of families. Father, sons, family.”
Donnie paused. That was how Master Splinter had always ended it. But with Mikey here, now, the story had changed. They had a new addition to their family, one that, despite all the trouble, was worth it. Now the story had an epilogue, one that he had the honor of bestowing.
“Given time,” He smiled, “Something new drifted to the oak. A new part in his life, a new seed. Where it came from was anybody’s guess, but it brought a new meaning to the family. Just like the morning glory, it wrapped itself around its new family, holding them together like glue. They cared for him, and he cared for them. With him, their family was complete. He added the bond between brothers, he helped hold the oak’s heart. With him, they were indeed a family.”
Splinter walked down the quiet halls of his home. His fever had broken in the night, and as a father always would, he went to check on his sons. But the moment he opened up his youngest son’s door, he smiled. There they were, all huddled together on Michelangelo’s small bed. They were all sleeping against for said youngest, who was sitting between them, drawing. “Shhh...” Mikey put his fingers to his lips before lifting his arms for his father to hold him.
Carrying his son to the kitchen, Splinter caught a glimpse of the picture he was holding. “What is that?” His curiosity as a parent never diminished, especially with Michelangelo.
Lifting it up so his father could see, Mikey pointed out what the figures were. “It’s from the story. That’s the oak, that’s strong, tough vine, and in between are his brothers. He’s holding them together,” He grinned up at Splinter, and the man inside him never thought he had seen his son do something so precious. Bending down, Splinter pulled his son into his arms. Michelangelo would never replace what he had lost, none of sons would, but he would not give them up for anything. It was moments like these that he remembered how invaluable life truly was.