Title: Colors Author: Stormy

Rating: G

Notes: My first Ninja Turtles fanfic. Yay! ^^ Anyway, this fic is actually part of a much longer story arc, basically re-using the ideas from the cartoon episodes "Back to the Egg" and "Adventures in Turtle-sitting" where our boys were reversed back to five year olds. In this arc, Mike was reversed to the age of five, and at the moment, there's no way to turn him back. The turtles and Splinter have to learn to deal with living with a five year old mutant. ^^

Additional Notes: My Ninja Turtles are based on the cartoon, with the edge and tension of Mirage. Perhaps an unholy hybrid, but hey, whatever works right?

Written: 18 November 2002

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Raphael limped into the lair, his muscles aching. His trench coat was discarded on the floor beneath the coat hangar, a sure-fire way of guaranteeing a lecture later on from Leonardo, but at the moment he couldn't have cared less.

Easing himself down on to the sofa, he mentally berated himself again. He knew better then to let punks antagonize him like that. He growled. It was getting so even a simple errand was out of the normal scope. And here he had thought the city was getting used to the appearances from him and his brothers.

" After all, it's not like we keep saving their lives, or keep them from being blown to bits by Shredder, his goons, the Technodrome, aliens from another planet—" he slammed his fist into the coffee table.

Sometimes he wondered why he even bothered to help others. There was almost never any gratitude in it for them. Leonardo would say that the good deed was its own reward but surely a 'thank you' wasn't asking for all that much. April didn't count – she was a friend to all of them. Casey, well, he was one to commiserate with over a beer but in the end, Casey was still a human behind the hockey mask, and could be rewarded if he had chosen to go that particular route.

That wasn't even counting the countless knocks he and his brothers took from April's boss Burn Thompson, and his daily critiques of their crime-fighting behaviour, which usually resulted in a plea from city officials to do something about the 'green turtle menace.'

And just now on his way back from dropping off April's new turtle-com, courtesy of Donatello's constant tinkering, he had stopped to help a young woman being mugged, only to have a handbag slammed into his face out of sheer terror from the very person he was trying to save. The complete surprise had allowed the thug to slam his baseball bat into Raphael's leg, not enough to break the bone through the dense muscle, but certainly enough to guarantee a nasty looking bruise. And on green skin, purple and blue could look particularly painful. Dark, nasty colors. Like black thoughts. Black and red thoughts. He smiled grimly.

Not for the first time in his life, Raphael wondered why he even bothered trying to be something of a nice guy. The bad guys always seemed to get the perks. He didn't want to become the very thing Splinter had always taught them to defeat, but being a neutral bystander was sounding good. Taking off and just staying by himself sounded even better.

He contemplated his trench coat, still lying in a sodden heap where he'd tossed it.

" RAPH!"

" Eh?" Raphael looked up in time to see a five year old, green and orange ball of energy launch itself off the stoop leading to the outside, and he opened his arms automatically. Michaelangelo crashed into his plastron, small arms wrapping around his neck in a tight embrace.

" Missed you Raph!" Mike's big eyes sparkled up at him with all the childish enthusiasm he could muster. " Donnie took me for ice cream! An' we went to see Auntie April at work an' she gave me a coloring book for a contest!"

" Really?" Raph grinned at his little brother. " What kind of contest?"

" I have to color this picture really carefully," Mike told him seriously, pulling the folded page out of his belt and opening it up. It was a picture of a policeman on a bicycle, next to a fireman holding a fire hose. " It's for 'Safety Week'. If I do a really good job, Auntie April says I might win a prize!"

" No doubt about it, kid." Raph tugged the absurdly long bandanna tails that trailed down Mike's shell.

" Will you color with me?" Mike shyly reached into his belt and pulled out another sheet, the exact same. " Auntie April said you were too old to win anything, but I got you one anyway. We can color together!"

Raphael hesitated, glancing over at the door where Donatello was still hanging up his and Mike's coats. Donatello grinned at him and then mock-scowled at the third trench coat on the ground, picking it up while shaking his head. Raph looked back down at Mike's pleading expression and felt his earlier anger melt away in the light of the little turtle's eyes. He gently knuckled Mike's head and nodded.

" Sure thing kiddo. Go get your crayons."

Mike's face lit up like the Fourth of July and he leaped off Raphael's lap, crowing victoriously. Raphael watched him race out of the room and glanced at Donatello who had dropped into the seat next to him. " It's hard to stay angry around him."

Donatello chuckled. " Guess no matter the age, Mike still stays the same."

Raphael snorted and pushed the coffee table away from the couch, creating more space on the floor to sit on. He watched as Mikey flew back into the room, his bucket of colors held tightly in his arms. Dumping them out, he then plunked himself down in Raphael's lap, reaching for a blue crayon.

" How am I supposed to be coloring when you're using me as a chair?" Raph asked, amused.

" You reach around me, silly," Mike told him as though it were perfectly obvious. Raph shrugged.

" Gimmee the black one."

Mike shook his head and pushed the green one into his hands. " This one's nicer. It's green like us!"

Raph studied the bright green crayon. " I think we're a little darker then that." Unbidden, some of his earlier tenseness threatened to make a return at the accidental play on words.

" Nuh-uh!" Grabbing the green crayon out of Raph's surprised hands, Mike turned his big brother's hand over where the skin on the palm was lighter in shade. He scribbled a line across the heel and then pointed at it, grinning at the surprised look on his brother's face. " See? It's almost the same!"

Raph stared at the bright green mark on his palm and then looked at Mike's proud face. On the couch, Donatello was muffling his snickers behind a cushion. Finally, a low chuckle escaped him, and the tension ebbed away like the tide. " I guess so, squirt."

" Don't call me squirt," the little turtle lectured him, turning around to work on his picture again.

Raphael watched his little brother labour over the picture, his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he concentrated on staying within the lines. He only used bright colors – yellow, red, green, blue, violet and orange. And in a way, it was strangely fitting. Mike was like a little ray of light, a colourful aura that no one could ignore.

He sent a mock-glare at Donatello and then reached for the orange crayon. " I'll color the sun."

" I thought the sun is yellow?" Mike asked, confused.

Raph grinned at him and tugged his bandanna again. " Not to me."

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The End

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End Notes:  Okay, so this was a little sappy. So what? I'm sappy. Just a ficlet, more to come very soon as I create the entire arc. But in the meantime, how does this look for a start?  In every fandom I'm in, the main thing I try to work on is being in-character. Raph may seem a little light-hearted here, but remember, this is a combination of the cartoon (which I love) and the Image title (which is okay but I've only got part of), and Cartoon Raph is not quite so dark as Image Raph. Keep that in mind if/when you review please? ^^

Feedback is a wonderful thing. ^^