(A/N: I'd like to thank Life-without-L0ve for the idea for this fic that she asked me to write. I adapted it for her, and I hope she likes it. If you don't know who I am, the name's Ace. I do things for the idea master a time or two. That's all. Enjoy! -Ace-)
Leo nervously drummed his fingers on the table beside him. He was waiting right for the second that door would open, and once it did, he was sure he would have a heart attack. This was the moment of his life he never thought would happen. He was in a public building, and people weren't running away. They weren't screaming, trying to attack him, nothing. It was such a strange feeling, humans would smile at him when he walked down the streets. Sure, some stared in horror, but a lot more smiled and waved and took photos. He could go into a pizzeria and sit down for once to order. He could see the city in the daytime, he could breathe in the fresh morning air, and he could cross the street without hiding in the shadows.
He was free.
Leo closed his eyes and took a deep breath in through his nose, and out his mouth. "I can do this…" He whispered softly. He repeated the phrase again and again to calm down. This was a massive part of the rest of his life, and he couldn't botch it up. He was confident though. If all the other mutants could do it, so could he. He was no different than they were, was he?
The door squealed open and Leo's vision snapped up. Out stepped a tiger mutant, a female, who hurriedly rushed down the hall to the main lobby, a grin slapped across her face. Her tail swept across the marble tile as she left, kicking up dirt that others had left behind. He watched her leave, curious, but immediately looked back into the office right as the lady was motioning and calling for him to enter. She had long dark hair and sparkling brown eyes, and she welcomed him with a smile. This would be his interviewer for the next half hour. He took a shaky breath, then let himself confidently stride inside. The room was spacious, and right behind the lady hung a large American flag, tattered and worn around the edges from age. On her bookshelves were framed pictures of what he assumed was her family. She took a sip out of a coffee thermos and typed something into her personal computer, probably taking note of the last interviewed mutant, or finishing an e-mail to a co-worker. Leo sat in the red cushioned chair bouncing slightly. This chair was way too small for him, he was afraid it was going to break.
He glanced over at the wall clock that hung on the wall beside him. It was 10:00 AM on the dot, not a second earlier. He took another deep breath, fidgeting slightly with his hands. His mind started to drift off to what other things he would do once he left. Lunch…he was getting kind of hungry, he had skipped breakfast because he couldn't seem to find an appetite over his anxious gut. Italian food sounded really good. He wondered if he could find a good Italian place nearby. He wanted to pull his phone out and search for one, but that would send the wrong signal to the woman in front of him. He had to seem patient and composed.
The clicking of the keyboard made him want to ask her to stop, it was raising the level of his nervousness to a snapping point. She paused, and he sighed in relief internally. She continued again though, and all of his muscles tensed as a result. Lunch. He had been thinking about lunch, why not think about it again? He sighed, this was a hopeless battle. Maybe Mikey could get calmed down by the thought of food, but Leo couldn't. He rubbed the back of his hand and looked out the window under the wall clock. He was on the fourth floor, and he noticed a little morning dove strutting across the ledge. He smiled and watched as its head jerked around in search of its other winged friends. It took off right as his interviewer got up and circled behind him to the door. Poor bird must've been scared really easily.
"What is your name?" The lady asked, shutting the door before she took a seat behind her desk again. Her hands were clasped in front of her and her wrists rested comfortably on the top of the desk. Leo cleared his throat and adjusted his neck tie. He couldn't believe he had decided to wear it. Back at the lair he had thought it looked great for the occasion. Maybe he could've dressed it down…he blinked, realizing he hadn't answered yet, and hurriedly responded.
"Leonardo Hamato in English."
"What would it be otherwise?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. There was a special tone in her voice when she asked it, but Leo couldn't quite describe it.
"Hamato Leonardo in Japanese, that's the technical order they use there. My father is Japanese, so he taught us to respond to...both." As the sentence went on he got quieter.
"I see." She nodded and brushed a loose hair behind her ear. She studied him curiously. "How old are you Mr. Hamato?"
"Ah, eighteen." He smoothly answered. It seemed awfully sad that this was the only question he felt tremendously smooth while answering.
"Fresh and bright eyed." She said. "Mr. Hamato, I'd like to congratulate you for making your appearance here today to be a part of this interview. I'm sure it must be an exciting time for you and your family."
Leo nodded, smiling hesitantly. "When I was younger my brothers and I would always joke about what we would do if we were humans, but we never expected this." He replied. She smiled and continued on.
"I'm sure. Let's start now please, you must answer the truth for all of the questions in this interview Mr. Hamato, do you understand? You may be denied citizenship or have it taken away if we find out." She said.
He nodded. "I understand." Hopefully she wouldn't ask any questions that would require him having to bend the truth. He decided to tell nothing but the truth anyway. Splinter had taught him better, and no secret was worth losing this.
"Good." The dark-haired lady gave a short nod and pulled a drawer open from one of the filing cabinets on her wall. She thumbed through the files, probably looking for his name he mused. Maybe she was checking his scores for the test he had taken a few weeks before. He had worked hard on that, Don and his brothers had studied for hours, even Mikey had given in to the boring task. They wanted this, and they wanted it bad.
She pulled out the file. He caught a glimpse of his name written in ballpoint ink on the flap as she pulled out some papers and scanned over them. "It says here you're fluent in both English and Japanese. When did you learn English?"
"I learned both languages at the same time ma'am, my father thought it would be valuable for us to understand both."
She nodded. "It says you, your father, and three brothers lived in the sewers for the majority of your time before the act passed?"
"Yes ma'am, that is true."
"When did you come outside into our world for the first time?"
"When my brothers and I were 15, so about three years ago, our father decided it was time to let us outside. We frequently came to the surface world after that, but only at night when nobody could see us. This was obviously before the act passed."
She didn't look up from the papers, her eyes just kept scanning over them. "I see. And it says that once you were on the outside world you used your skills in martial arts to stop criminals?"
"And an alien invasion several months later, yes." He nodded. She raised both eyebrows, then scanned over the forms again. No doubt she had found the proof on the text, because she wouldn't stop reading it over and over.
"Alien invasion? Like the one several years ago with the gigantic floating orb above the sky?"
"Exactly." He replied.
She whistled. "That is impressive. You were the leader of all four of your brothers in these missions, is that correct?"
"I was, my father chose me for that role."
"Would you say you did well in that role, Mr. Hamato?"
"Yes, I would."
There was a moment of silence as she kept looking over the forms. Leo was so nervous, his hands were shaking. He closed his eyes, mouthing out the calming phrase again and again. He was going to be fine. He never thought he would be in here at all. He was getting interviewed for citizenship. He was actually going to be an American, legally. He smiled at just the idea of it.
"Mr. Hamato, did your father give you any form of education?" She asked, raising one brow curiously.
"Actually, yes, you could say we were homeschooled."
"How would you describe the extent of your education?"
Leo didn't want to sound like he was stupid, but he also didn't want to take the chance of losing his citizenship. "Average." he answered. "Any other information we wanted we found from the internet."
"I see..." She nodded slowly. There was another long pause before she set the stack down. "Mr. Hamato, are you familiar with this act's technicalities?"
"Most of them." He replied.
"Recite them to me." She said, still flipping through the numerous pages in his forms. She didn't even look up for a second. Leo gulped and adjusted his tie again. Was he fidgeting too much? He had to get used to this…
"The 'Mutants of America' Act states that all mutants that apply and are accepted as citizens of the United States of America get the same rights as human citizens. They can hold a job, own a home, receive income, get married, and/or start a family."
She smiled and nodded. "Very good." She lay the stack of paperwork back in the file, then slid the folder back into its spot in the filing cabinet. She slammed the drawer with a large heave, then faced him once again. "It also seems that you've passed all of your intelligence tests with high enough scores to have a job here."
"That's great!" He smiled.
"Mr. Hamato, I do believe you have the perfect qualities for a citizen of the United States of America. You can become accepted tonight at the ceremony if you so wish."
Leo's heart leaped with joy, and he nearly knocked the chair down when he stood up. A grin was slapped across his face. "Really?" He exclaimed. She laughed lightly and nodded, and when she looked behind him she laughed harder. He ran his hand over his cheek. "Thank you! I'm ecstatic!" He laughed.
It was then that he realized that the chair was stuck to his shell, and he pried it off sheepishly, blushing a bright shade of red. He set the chair on the floor of the office with a loud thud, then then thanked the woman for her time. As he was walking out his mind filled with ideas of what he wanted to do now. He wanted to go eat first, Italian probably. Then he wanted to hop online and look for apartments that were open. Oh, but first he had to find a job! What kind of job would work for him…hmm…his mind buzzed with the idea of it.
Mr. Hamato…it sounds amazing…
"Excuse me, sir?" The lady called for him. He turned around, afraid he had done something wrong. She was holding out a small pack of papers. "The ceremony starts at around 7:00 PM tonight, not a second later. Be here on time."
"I will!" He nodded and hurried back to her. "Thank you so much!"
"This is some of the more specific technicalities in the act. I suggest you look over them and make sure that you understand everything to the best of your ability." She said. He took the stack, smiling brighter than a love crazy teenager, and thanked her once again. He opened the door and took a deep breath through his nose. Free. He was free. No more sewers, no more hiding in the shadows, he was absolutely free. Accepted into society for a change. It was so strange, walking around the part of the city they had been banned from before.
Leo sighed happily and continued down the long hall that led to the front entrance. He had never felt happier in his life, never, and he took great note of it. As he opened the doors and stepped out into the sunshine, he let the warmth of the sun shine down on his mutant skin without any shame. He was going to call himself an American now, and nobody could stop him. His mind began whirring again, with all the possibilities of what he could do now. But first, lunch. He hurried down the street, following the GPS on his phone to the nearest Italian pizzeria he could find. He was starving.
Donatello paced the hall anxiously, continually clearing his throat or running his hand across his cheek. Stress had been a part of his life countless times before, but never in this exact way. He had always formed dreams when he was younger. Dreams of things that he wanted to be. He knew that he was smart enough to be the next NASA engineer. He knew he had the same brilliant ideas that got Steve Jobs so far. He had once even thought of the chance that he might be able to work at the NSA as a professional computer scientist.
But he had always laughed at those dreams, thinking that he would forever be the geek of the little ninja squad his family was. He had accepted that freely, but now he actually had to think about life. He was going to get a job, own a living space that he didn't have to share with his annoying brothers...it was a head rush, but a really exciting one at that. He smiled at just the thought of it. He was awfully glad to be so smart, he was sure that he would be accepted into any job or college in a moment's notice. He had taken the test to get his high school diploma.
His intelligence had exceeded their expectations.
He chuckled, shaking his head as he thought of it. He was allowed to be a little air headed about the subject within the confines of his own mind. He let the topic drop though, he saw the door at the end of the hall open and his older brother Raph came rushing down the hall. "Hey, have you seen Mikey?" He asked, seemingly annoyed. Don gave a curious look.
"When have I ever known where Mikey is?"
"Look, we have exactly ten minutes to find him and get in that room, and you're gonna help me!" Raph grit his teeth and grabbed his brother by the arm. Don sighed and fought his grip, but was dragged down the hall anyway. The sound of his stumbling echoed through the building.
"You really don't need to drag me Raph." Donnie grumbled, shoving him away. He dusted off his arm and-even though he didn't want to-followed Raphael through the building in search of the youngest. "You do know that by heading this way we're heading to the staff only area of the building, right?"
"This is Mikey we're talking about!" Raph threw his hands in the air from frustration and kept going. Don paused and stretched his neck to look behind him.
"Okay, while you go get lost, I'm going to look somewhere actually useful." Don sighed and went off the opposite way. If Raph got lost and tried to pin it on him...Don rolled his eyes and turned back down the hall he came from. There were a lot of other mutants waiting in the room adjacent to it where the ceremony was going on, Mikey was probably drumming up a conversation with his new "buddies".
Surely enough, he opened the door to find Mikey excitedly telling a story to a small group of mutants. Among them were a dog-like mutant, a pigeon mutant, and six other assorted hybrids. They were laughing and opening their eyes wider with every sentence. Don smirked. If Mikey couldn't get a serious job he could always work as a traveling comedian. That might be his thing.
"The guy was huge! I named him myself too! Justin!" He proudly grinned, pointing his thumb at himself. One of the girls among the group giggled. "I'm awesome at naming stuff." He bragged. Don rushed back down the hall and called back down to Raph.
"Found him Raph! In the room!"
He came back into the room and listened to the rest of Mikey's story. Raph joined a few moments later. There were a few parts of the story that he exaggerated. Okay...more than a few. But they decided to let him have his glory. At five minutes till he took a few of their numbers into his phone at a speed anyone could marvel at. He was going to have a lot of friends. Lots of them.
Seats were filled within minutes, and all four brothers sat beside each other. Their serious side was turning on, even for Mikey, who normally couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes. Several humans came into the room and stood on the stage placed at the front. Raph's hands clenched into fists. He wouldn't say he was afraid. No, he was just ready for this to be over with already. He had things he wanted to talk care of, he needed to get his own apartment. No more dealing with his wacko brothers anymore, he was more than ready for it.
If only he knew exactly what it was he was going to do after this ceremony was over. He knew that he was going to have to find a place to live, but to do that he would need money. And to get money, he was going to need a job. Raph had never been good with people, and he was afraid that because of that, he wasn't going to find a job that would pay enough to support himself. He sighed and rolled his eyes when his youngest brother began bouncing in his place. Mikey was going to need to find a job that would let him release all of his wound up energy.
If Mike could even successfully hold a job.
One woman, obviously way over her 60's, stood before the chattering room and tapped on the small microphone clipped to the edge of the podium. The noise quieted down. "May I please ask for you to stand up so we can perform the Pledge of Allegiance?" She asked. She had a strong country accent, and she pursed her lips as they all stood. "Now, could I ask for you all to put your right hand over your heart, and say the pledge with me?" The room erupted into a chorus of different voices as the American flag was hoisted high above the woman's head by a military officer. The pledge finished with a brief applause.
"Good, you may now be seated." She said. The rustling and squeaking of chairs across the floor almost drowned out the sound of the speech the president started giving in a video being shown on a screen hanging on the back wall. Mikey was struggling to listen and stay calm, so he tapped his foot on the floor. Self control. He had to practice his self control...
The problem was, he was just so happy, he couldn't seem to keep any of his excitement inside. His mind was looping with what he wanted to do afterwards. His brothers had planned to have dinner once the process ended at Murikami-san's shop, just like old times. Just the thought of popping food in his mouth made him smile, and his eyes closed. Within moments, the entire speech being given by the old guy on the screen was completely drowned out by thoughts of food in Mikey's one track mind.
An elbow jabbed into his shoulder and he flinched. His eyes snapped open. Donnie had been a blessing just then by helping him to focus. Mikey looked back up at the screen. It was so hard to keep his mind on the speech. Ever since he had told his brothers about the idea of keeping him on track, they had either shoved or tapped him when he seemed to not be paying attention. Raph was more violent about the whole thing. Mikey was glad he was seated beside Donnie instead.
"I am proud to welcome you as a new citizen of this country." The president said. "May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America." The video faded into black and the room erupted into applause. A man, slightly overweight with thinning grey hair, took the podium with a stack of papers in his hands. He was grinning, and wore an American flag pin on the pocket of his shirt.
"I will now begin the calling of the names. Please come accept your certificate of citizenship at the podium as your name is called." He said.
Leo took a deep breath. Only a few more minutes and he could call himself an American. The anxiety was about to kill him, and Mikey's foot was tapping so fast it was like it would fly off and kill somebody. Leo let a deep breath out of his mouth just as Raph leaned over and whispered in his ear.
"Relax fearless, we're almost done."
"Lucille Greenhill." The man called out. A cheerful girl with feline ears and paws accepted the certificate with a grateful smile and returned to her seat, right beside Leo. Leo's heart skipped a beat. He cleared his throat and rubbed the sweat off his palms. "Leonardo Hamato."
He stood up and gracefully made his way across the room and up the stage. Feeling that paper in his hand...it was an indescribable feeling that Leo wouldn't trade for anything. He stepped off the stage right as the second oldest in their line was called to the stage.
Raph hadn't ever really cared if he made it to the surface world as more than ninja staying in the shadows. At first he had hated staying in the shadows and hiding, but he had adapted to it. Ever since Congress had made this up though, Raph had found himself shoved out into the daylight with no clue what to do with himself. So as he took the paper in his hand and sat back down, he started to think about it. What was he going to do with his life? Because starting in a few minutes, it was going to matter.
Don stood up and brushed off his knees. His mind buzzed with mixed thoughts. His whole life was starting now, everything, every passion, every dream, and just...he smiled. "Thank you." He took the paper and touched the ground again with a mind dripping with ideas.
"That's me!" Mikey stood up and practically ran up the stage. His brothers, embarrassed to be affiliated with him, averted their eyes and shielded their faces. "Thanks, dude!" Mikey took the paper and swung off the stage, ninja style. He threw himself into his seat as a few of the others among the crowd laughed. It was a miracle he had passed any of those intelligence tests.
Five minutes later, the last mutant exited the stage. Once again the crowd stood, a few of them emotionally crying, others with faces of stone. Leonardo and his brothers, lined up in the second row from oldest to youngest as they had requested, kept solemn faces. However, on the inside, emotions ran rampant all around.
"We will now finish the ceremony by saying the Oath. Please read the words on the screen with me."
Leo, Raph, Don and Mikey all took a breath and started.
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
"So help me God."