The five eight-year-olds were scattered around the den, all wearing the timeless expression of painfully bored children. One, a turtle wearing a blue bandana, finally broke the silence.
"I. Am. So. BORED!"
"Join the party, Leo."
What party, Raph? We're bored out of our shells!"
"Oh, shut-up, Donny. I thought you liked staying home so you could play with your electronic junk."
"They're not junk, Kameko, and I don't play with them. I fix them."
Kameko rolled her eyes. "Yeah, just like you fixed the toaster the other day. And the telephone. Which now sounds like the people on the other end are under water when we order pizza. And the micro—"
"I GET THE POINT, MEKO!"
Michelangelo snickered from where he lay on the floor. "Don't forget the radio, Meko."
"And the lamp!" Raphael chimed in.
Donatello grit his teeth. "Ha, ha, that's so funny I forgot to laugh. One of these days you guys'll be happy I'm here to fix stuff. Like the TV.
Mikey groaned miserably. "Did you have to say TV? I could be watching cartoons right now! I'm never gonna make it a whole week!"
"I HATE bein' grounded..."
"It's all your fault, RAPH-I-EL..."
"It is NOT!"
This erupted into a shouting match of "is nots" and "are toos." It didn't last long.
"What is all this yelling about?" The room was instantly silent, save for the sound of their sensei's tail making a soft thwacking noise as he thumped it against the concrete floor in annoyance.
Five small voices finally responded, "Nothing, Splinter."
"I doubt very much that 'nothing' would have caused such a commotion. I have a very bad headache and I expect ALL of you to behave yourselves and be quiet. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Master Splinter."
"Good." He left the room.
"Thanks a lot guys! Now we're in even MORE trouble! Are you happy now?"
"Oh, can it, Leo."
Leonardo scowled at Raphael but didn't reply. Instead, he stood up and said, "There's got to be something to do around here that won't get us in trouble..."
"Like what? Stare at a blank TV screen?"
"Miiiiikeeeey..." Donatello threw a pillow at his whining brother.
"We could play a game."
"Like what? Pin the tail on the obnoxious bossy brother?"
Leonardo shot Raphael a dirty look. "Yeah, or maybe whack-a-Raph." He shrugged. "How about cards?"
Mikey looked up, his attention momentarily drawn away from the unplugged TV set. "We're missing four cards, Leo. You can' even play solitaire missing all those."
"Okay... um, any ideas?" He looked around, only to find four blank faces staring back at him. "Well, I tried." He flopped down on the couch, realizing—too late—that his sister's legs were in the way.
"YEEEOOOOOWWW! Leo, you moron, your shell just crushed my legs!"
Donatello jumped up and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Shhh... you wanna make Splinter come out here again?"
She whimpered a negative and hugged her bruised legs to herself. Leonardo apologized profusely, while Mike and Raph just laughed at the scene. Kameko glared murderously at them.
"Poor wittle turtle-girl. Ya gonna cry?"
"Shut-up Raphael! I. DON'T. CRY!" Even as she said it, she had to blink back the tears welling up in her eyes.
Raph snickered. "Wuss."
"I AM NOT A WUSS!" She grabbed her nunchuckus off of the nearby side table and threw one at her brother with all her might. Two more inches to the left, and it would have missed completely. As it was, it hit Raphael hard, just above his eye.
"ARGH! KAMEKO!" He jumped up and leaped after her, but she was already on her feet. Until Donatello stuck a foot out and sent her sprawling.
With a yelp, she dodged Raphael's grasp by millimeters and dove between him and Donatello, knocking her remaining weapon against the unfortunate Donny's shin as she did so.
"COME BACK HERE YOU LITTLE—" He stopped short when he hit a wall. Which turned out to be Splinter. Kameko had disappeared.
"She threw a nunchucku at me, Master!"
The rat sighed. This was getting old. "Donatello, why are you crying?"
"Kameko hit me in the leg." He sniffed. "And I'm not crying."
Splinter smiled slightly. "Of course not, my son." The smile vanished. "Kameko?"
A head of messy black hair slowly appeared from behind a chair. "Yes, Master Splinter?"
"Come here. You are to apologize to your brothers."
She didn't move. Splinter raised an eyebrow in surprise. This was not like his daughter to be so defiant.
"Kameko, I said, 'come here.'"
"No fair! Why should I apologize? Raph started it, and Donny tripped me on purpose!"
"I am unconcerned with the 'whys.' Raphael and Donatello will apologize as well, but you hurt them both, and I expect you to apologize to them. NOW."
Splinter was halfway across the room before Kameko knew what was happening. She started to run but had hardly taken three steps before he caught up with her. With a hand on each of her shoulders, he held her against the wall. Although it didn't hurt, she was trapped. She tried not to cry, but it was a battle she was quickly losing.
Her brothers looked on in shock. They weren't sure what was more surprising—Kameko saying 'no' to their sensei, or the rat's reaction to the word. It was rare to see Splinter upset, but he clearly was. No one dared utter a syllable.
"Listen to me very carefully, Kameko. You WILL apologize to your brothers. Then you will apologize for your disrespect towards me. Tomorrow morning, you will spend an extra hour practicing. Do you understand me?"
She nodded. "H-hai, sensei..."
"Good." He released her.
Kameko turned to better face her brothers. She looked down as she spoke. "Sorry for hitting you, guys. Sorry for being disrespectful, Master Splinter."
He nodded and turned to face his sons. "Donatello—"
Splinter raised an eyebrow at the rushed apology. But then, at least he had apologized. Now for the other... "Raphael, it is your turn."
Raphael stared at his feet and mumbled something.
"I'm afraid you will have to speak up, my son."
He made a face. "Sorry, sensei."
Splinter frowned. "And?"
Raphael kicked at a loose concrete chip. When he finally spoke, it was through gritted teeth. "Sorry, Kameko."
Splinter sighed, but decided that an insincere apology was most likely the best he could get out of his stubborn child. He let it go.
"Donatello, Raphael, put some ice on your bruises. Kameko, give me your weapons. If you cannot be responsible with them, then you need to leave them in the dojo."
Kameko pouted but handed over her nunchuckus.
"I expect you to work on controlling your temper." Splinter looked up. "All of you. Your inability to control your tempers is what got you in trouble in the first place. Now, unless you wish for me to add another week to your punishment, I suggest you find something QUIET to occupy your time. Work out any problems calmly. Understood?"
They replied as a unit. "Yes, Master Splinter."
Splinter returned to his room, leaving his children to their own devices for the time being. Though he loved his sons and daughter, he was daily amazed that they had not yet turned his fur gray.
A loud crash and several shouts interrupted his thoughts. He turned back to the door with yet another sigh, pausing to glance in the small mirror by the door.
Still brown. For now.