A/N - I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the TMNT as youngsters, and am planning on doing it again. Another brand new story is in the works! Look for it soon.
Thanks to all those who reviewed this story. I love all you guys. You're awesome!
But here it is: the epilogue to 'Memories'. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.
Epilogue: Sniffles and Stars
Splinter sat down in his armchair. He sighed. He'd finally tended to the last little voice calling for him, and he hoped he'd have a few minutes alone to rest.
They lived in such tight quarters now, since the turtles were getting bigger, that when one boy got sick, usually they all did. He'd put them all to bed, tucked them in, and wished them good night. Then came the calls for glasses of water, or another tissue.
Splinter had never dreamed he'd have children; never really thought about it, actually. And now he had four rambunctious four year old boys.
"Spinder?" A small voice called out.
Splinter sighed. Speaking of the boys… He got up, and walked into the room that they all were sharing as they got better.
"Yes, my sons?" He asked.
Four pairs of big eyes looked back at him.
"Mikey wanded you." Leonardo said, rubbing his eyes.
"What is the matter, Michaelangelo?" Splinter kneeled next to the small boy, who was curled up around his teddy bear.
"By head hurts." He said, looking up at Splinter with round, wide eyes.
"I dink he has a fever." Donatello said.
Splinter nodded. "I think you are right, Donatello. One usually gets a fever with a cold." He turned back to Michaelangelo and placed a hand on his forehead. The other three turtles gathered around them. He sighed. Michaelangelo did indeed have a fever. Michaelangelo had been the last to catch this cold. He moved around so much during the day, the illness usually didn't catch up to him until late at night.
"Id he gonna be OK?" Raphael asked, then wiped his arm across his face.
"Tissue, Raphael." Splinter chided gently. "I will go and get something for him. I shall return shortly."
He left to get a washcloth, and ran it under cold water, hoping to relieve Michaelangelo's fever. When he returned, he found they had dragged all of their sheets and pillows to the ground, and were making one large bed. He smiled. They often did this when sick.
Splinter kneeled next to Michaelangelo, who had moved to the ground. "Here, my son. This will make you feel better." He placed the washcloth on the child's forehead.
He moved to stand, then felt a small tugging on his robe. He looked to see Leonardo kneeling there, too.
"Can you stay here, until we fall asleep?"
Splinter smiled at the anticipated question. He knew he wouldn't be sleeping in his own room tonight.
"Of course, my son."
Leo grinned, and got up to grab another blanket. Splinter sat down, making himself comfortable, leaning against a bed. As soon as he was settled, there was a scurry of movement as Michaelangelo dragged his blanket and teddy bear over to Splinter, laying his head on his lap. Splinter laid a hand on his hot little head, and reapplied the washcloth.
Donatello shyly made his way over and lay down about a foot away. Leonardo followed suit, and eventually, Raphael did, too. Soon, they were all crowded into a small space on the floor. Splinter sat there, listening to the sniffles and coughs as they settled down, and fell asleep.
He'd never thought he'd have children. Never imagined it.
He knew there were many more years of this: of sickness and fevers, nightmares and overactive imaginations. Fighting, growing up, questions… Questions that would get harder as they got older. Things he wouldn't know the answer for.
And he couldn't wait.
Before, he couldn't even imagine them. Now, he couldn't imagine his life without them.
"It is beautiful here." Donatello said softly, the wind gently blowing across his face.
"Yeah." Leo said. "Master Splinter always liked it here."
"Mmmm" Don agreed, nodding. He sat back on the hill, watching as the sky turned red in the setting sun.
"We were lucky, you know." Mike spoke up suddenly.
The rest turned to look at him.
"We were." He continued. "Splinter was really good to us. And you know we were a handful." He turned and smiled at Raphael.
Leo smiled. "For once, I agree with Mikey."
"Yeah." Don nodded.
"Hey, remember when he used to let us all sleep on the floor when we were sick?" Leo asked. "And he'd end up there, too." He grinned. "By morning, we were usually all bunched up into one corner."
"Yeah." Don smiled. "That was usually Mikey's fault." He looked over as Leo sat down beside him.
"Yeah, but I always had to ask him." Leo added.
They sat in silence for a moment.
"Remember the first time we sparred against each other?" Raphael asked.
Leo and Mike nodded.
Don grunted. "Barely."
Raph looked over at him. "Well, that's because you had your face in the mat most of the time."
Don shot him a look. "And thank you for bringing that up."
"Hey, anytime you wanna hear about it…" Raph smirked.
They all laughed and swapped some more stories as the sun set and it became dark. They began gathering their things to head back home.
After a moment, Michaelangelo broke the silence. "Do you guys think, you know, that he's… watching over us?"
There was silence for a moment.
"Without a doubt." Raphael said, and they all looked over at him.
Don smiled and flung an arm around Mike's shoulders. "Of course." He said, then added. "And you know how big a lecture Raph'll have waiting for him…"
They chuckled a bit at that, then they turned to the small marker they'd placed for Splinter.
"Bye, Master Splinter." Mike said. "See you next year."
They all nodded, then said a few more goodbyes, and began heading down the hill.
They walked in silence until suddenly, Mike spoke up.
"Hey, Raph. You remember what you used to call Splinter…?"
"Mikey…" Raph warned.
"What was it again?" Mike prodded. "I think it was…" He was cut off by Raph pulling him into a headlock.
Mike freed himself from Raph and took off down the hill, Raph close on his heels.
Don looked at Leo and they both grinned as they could hear Mike's laughter, and Raph yelling at him, trying not to laugh.
Leo looked up at the sky. One of the stars twinkled, almost as if it was winking at him.
"Yeah." He said softly. "He is definitely watching over us."
"What?" Don asked.
Leo turned and looked at him. "I was wondering… think we should help Mike?"
"Or remind Raph about some of his other childhood habits?"
"Or…" Leo started.
"We could do both." They said together, then took off down the hill, meeting their brothers at the bottom.
Their laughter filled the night air, and, high above them, a star twinkled happily.