DISCLAIMER: Wrestlemania belongs to someone else - not sure who, but they don't belong to me, I know that much. Also, I do not own the TMNT's nor do I even get visitation rights. All I get are ideas and then I add four turtles, an occasional rat, some action, and a heavy dose of inspiration from fellow writers and readers! The results are often entertaining, most times imperfect, but definitely 100 fun. Enjoy and please offer up any critiques or ideas to improve my muses. Thanks! Also, no warnings unless you just have to keep Mikey the happy-go-lucky guy without a backbone and easy to push around. Then, fasten your seatbelts – at least for the first chapter.
CHAPTER 1 – Can't Take it Anymore!
"Why'dya watch this junk for, Mikey?" Raph sneered as he came into the living room from the dojo, "They're nuttin' but a bunch of rip offs an' fakes."
Roughly grabbing the remote from his youngest brother, Raphael changed the channel from the infomercial Mike was watching to Wrestlemania. He leaped over the back of the couch, landing hard on the cushions. The effect nearly catapulted Mike off completely, but he managed to land square in the spot he had just been occupying.
"Now there's arthuntis'ty!" Raphael declared proudly, pointing towards the television screen.
Mike just looked over at his brother in disbelief, "Au-then-ti-city, Raph, and that's not real either! Those guys are fakes, actors or has-beens who couldn't make it into …" Suddenly, his windpipe stopped working as he couldn't breath where Raph hadgrabbed his throat.
"Moron, I don't think so. You can't get thrown –" Raph's attention was momentarily drawn back to the T.V. screen, again,as wrestlertook aprop and slammed itover the head of another performer, "Hey, look at that! Now you tell me how someone can get his head hit by a folding chair like that guy just did and not have it hurt! Believe me, Mike, Wrestlemania is ferreal!" Looking back at his brother,"Don'cha ever think otherwise, either!" Raph then let go of his brother's throat, allowing Mike to fall back against the couch. Then he settled in to watch his favorite programming.
Shaking his head in frustration, Mike decided not to push the issue. Angrily rubbing the ache out of his neck, he stood up and walked towards the kitchen.
Looking back at his brother and glaring,Mike decided to just try and ignore the big galoot. Soon his discontent gave way once he began thinking about fixing himself a snack.
"Popcorn sounds just about right. Lots of crunch and plenty of munch!" he mused under his breath, trying to cheer himself up.
Overhearing his baby brother, asked, "Bring me back some, 'kay?" all the while continuing to stare at the television screen.
"Ah huh, yeah – riiight…" Mike said half heartedly as he stroked his throat protectively. Leveling a stoney gaze once more at his brother, who now seemed mesmerized by the television screen, the orange masked turtle made his way towards the kitchen.
As Mike walked in, he notied that Leo was there, as well, fixing some tea for himself
"Raph grab the remote again?" the blue-banded turtle asked casually of his youngest brother, pouring hot water from the teakettle into his cup.
"What else is new? Gad, Leo, we need another television so at least one of us can watch in peace while the other has his soap opera!" Mike headed over towards a cabinet, shaking his head in frustration.
"It's NOT a soap opera!" Raph declared from the other room, "It's – just a story line they use to make it interesting."
"Yeah, another words," Mike turned and whispered to Leo, "s-o-a-p o-p-e-r-a!"
Leo smirked at Mikey as he stirred his tea.
"I heard that and I can spell, too, M-o-r-o-n!" Raph yelled back from the living room.
Leo had to chuckle at the banter between his two siblings.
Sighing, Mike rummaged through the pantry looking for the microwave-able popcorn. "Say, I thought we had a ton of that stuff back here?" he asked in annoyance, practically crawling into the cabinet as he checked the nether reaches of it's depths. "Shoot, they're all gone!" Mike moaned as he extracated himself from the pantry, "Guess I'll have to go topside and buy some more!"
As he made for the kitchen exit, Leo stopped him, "Wait until I finish my tea and I'll go up with you."
"Naw, I can go alone. I've done it before, Leo." Mike exclaimed.
"Only one time, Mikey, and you needed rescuing, too! You know that Splinter insists you double up with one of us. Raph's 'busy' and I know that Don has a new project he's working on, so…" Leo explained.
"You know, at least once I'd like everyone to think I'm capable!" Mike shot back angrily as he stormed uncharacteristically out of the kitchen. Leo looked after him, a bit shocked with the reaction of his usually carefree sibling.
Overhearing his brother's complaint, Raph exclaimed as Mike huffed by him, "You are 'capable', Mikey; 'capable' of getting into a mess of trouble!" and then he laughed good and loud.
It wasn't hard for Leo to notice the change in Mike's demeanor. Lately, he had observed over that his usually happy and wisecracking brother had gradually become moody and more serious. He seemed overly focused in the dojo and frequently had Don explain complex ideas that would have normally brought a yawn from Mike. Not that Mike understood his more genius brother, but his attempt to comprehend extended well past his normal tolerance for such matters.
Even with this obsevation and as the last word faded fromRaph's lips,both Leo and Raph were completely unprepared for what Michelangelo did next.
In a moment so quick that it surprised both of them, Mike ninja kicked the television. He deliberately missed the screen, but, where he connected along the side of it, his effortsent the T.V. careening across the room and sliding to a stop against the far wall, resulting in a loudthud. A piece of the framework fell away next, exposing a little more of the television tube.
Standing before a shocked and slack-jawed Raphael, Mike shouted out to him, "I'm sick of you bullying me,Raph. When I'm watchin' the television, show a lil' more respect for me, 'kay? I'm NOT gonna to take it any more!" and with that Mike charged out of the room and down the hallway towards his bedroom. Forgotten were the popcorn and his plans to go topside.
Looking at the now fallen T.V., "Sonofa …." Raph exploded off the couch. He stormed after Mike with Leo following close behind.
"Raph, don't. Just let him go." Leo called out as he went after him.
"No way, Leo; that kid's gonna pay for interrupting my show and for probably breaking the T.V., too!" Raph bellowed as he marched towards Mikey's room.
Leo knew that Raph would probably pound Mike into hamburger; he was bigger and heavier – and just a little bit meaner. "Hey, keep in mind that you did as much just a while ago! You're due and it's about time, too!"
That stopped Raph dead in his tracks, "What'd ya mean by that, Leo?" he charged Leo's face and glared back at him, their snouts centimeters apart, withh Raph fisting his hands as if ready to throw a punch.
Trying to be calm within the slowly escalating brewing storm, Leo held up his hands in defense, "Just listen to me, okay? You always grab the remote from Mike. You always make fun of whatever it is he's watching. All I'm saying is, I think he's had enough of you."
"Enough of me? Not quite! Not until I've had my fill of him…." With that, Raph stomped down the hallway again.
Leo shook his head in frustration and followed after him. "Raph, wait, let's see if he really did break the television." However, Raphael continued his march, mumbling a slew of words and threats that Leo knew Sensei would disapprove of.
Hearing the commotion outside his room, Don stuck his head out through his doorway, asking, "What's going on out there?" However, seeing his enraged brother rush past him, he decided that staying in his own room was a better idea all the way around. He ducked back inside and quickly closed his door, locking it from inside.
Raph now pounded against Mike's bedroom door, yelling, "Open up, coward! You do all that and then go and hide? You're nuttin' but a yellow-bellied lizard! Com'n out and meet me face t' face!" Raph's fists struck the door furiously as he tried his best to intimidate Mike into opening it.
"I'm not a lizard, Raph! Just go away. Just go – watch your stupid soap opera, 'kay! But just leave me alone!" Mike hollered back from his room.
"How can I, now? You've probably broken the friggin' television!" Raph yelled.
"Well, now you know what it's like!" Mike replied angrily behind his bedroom door.
Suddenly, above the pounding, they heard someone clear their throat. Raph stopped his abuse against Mike's bedroom door and turned around. "Sensei!" Raph exclaimed, straightening up in surprise.
"What is going on, Raphael?" the old rat asked. He stood just outside his own room, his tail twitching irritably.
"It's MIKE! " Raph explained defensively, as he pointed towards the living area, "He - he kicked the television across the living room while I was watching it!"
"Yeah, Raph, but that was after you grabbed the remote and then insulted him – twice, in fact!" Leo interjected.
"Go soak yer head, Leo, and stay out of this, 'kay!" Raph sneered back at his brother.
"Just stating a fact, Raph. I think Sensei would want to know both sides." Leo commented, smugly folding his arms across his plastron and leaning against the opposite wall.
Splinter lashed his tail in irritation at the conflict between his two oldest sons. "I will talk to Michelangelo. In the meantime, I want the both of you to clean up the living room and then do your katas in the dojo."
"But, I just did them earlier!" Raph complained, nearly whining.
"Do them again!" Splinter commanded sternly, his long hairless tail slapping the cold concrete floor for emphasis.
Growling in resignation, "Yes, Sensei", Raph left for the living room with Leo, muttering as he went along, "Not much of a punishment for you, Leo. You could 'kata' all day long and be as slap happy as a frog on fly paper!"
His brother smiled a little, "You'd be surprised what other things I like to do!"
Raph perked up slightly, one eye ridge raised, as the two of them walked into the living room,"You? Doing things other than katas? That's a stretch." He laughed and then asked as he picked up the television and sat it back down on its stand, "So, Leo, what else d' ya like to do?"
Smiling broadly, his brother replied, "Weapons cleaning!" and quickly sidestepped out of harms way as Raph tried to land him a swift kick.
Meanwhile, back in the hallway...
"Michelangelo?" Splinter called out softly.
"Michelangelo, I would like to speak with you, please." The rat insisted.
Hearing a heavy sigh from the other side of the door, Splinter waited. Soon, the door opened, revealing a subdued Michelangelo. The turtle quickly wiped his snout, an obvious sign that he'd been crying a little.
"May I come in, my son?" the sensei asked politelym, although fully aware of his youngest's emotional state.
Shrugging noncommittally, Mike stepped aside to let his father in. He then quickly closed the door. It was quite possible for Raph to throw all caution to the wind and pound him despite the fact that Splinter was now in his room.
Sitting down on Mike's bed, Splinter asked, "I have noticed and felt a great uneasiness with you, Michelangelo. Lately, you have become restless and have not been the cheerful son I have come to know and love. Do you care to talk about it?"
Mike was already sitting on the edge of his bed next to his mentor. He looked at his feet, swinging them nervously,as he tried to think how best to answer his sensei's question. Finally, turning liquid eyes towards Splinter, he replied, "I just hate being – stupid, is all." Sniffing, Mike returned his gaze back to his feet.
With raised eyebrows and placing a gentle bony hand upon his son's shoulder, Splinter replied, "You are not stupid, Michelangelo."
"Everybody else thinks I am!" the young turtle declared dejectedly, as he looked sharply over at the rat, wiping a hand across his nose again.
"How have they told you that you are stupid?" Splinter asked seriously.
Giving a short laugh, Mike replied as he glanced over at the door, "Raph continually calls me a moron. Don talks down to me as if I'm an ameba. Leo lords it over me that I can't even go topside without an escort 'cause he thinks I'm so inept. And…." However, that was where Mike hesitated. He loved his sensei and he knew how much Splinter loved him and his brothers. Yet there were still times that Splinter had conveyed in some small way his lack of trust in Mike's abilities as well. Yet, for the moment, he didn't feel quite brave enough to tell him this.
Still, the rat quickly sensed that Mike was going to say more, "There is one other thing, though, isn't there, Michelangelo?"
Sheepishly and reluctantly, the turtle nodded his head and shrugged, but continued to stare at his feet.
"You can tell me anything, my son. What else bothers you?" Splinter asked.
Givine his father a sideways glance, and then looking back down at his feet again, Mikey answered softly, almost inaudibly, "Sometimes you treat me as if I was – well – all of the above!" He cringed just a little, yet it was the truth as he saw it. He fiddled with the edge of the coverlet to his bed, nervously working the material between his fingers,as he waited for his sensei's response.
Surprised didn't come close to describing Splinter's reaction, "Have I? I don't remember ever calling you a moron. Moreover, I talk to you rather than down to you. As far as going topside, I prefer that all my sons double up; two is always safer than one."
"Please forgive me, Sensei, but that's where you are wrong!" Mike declared boldly and without thinking. He caught himself too late and wondered what Splinter would do next. He knew he voiced his thoughts too disrespectfully.
Splinter straightened up at the statement, rather shocked that any of his sons – outside of Raphael – would dare accuse him of being wrong. "Explain!" he asked firmly of Mike, lifting his snout up as he faced his son.
Swallowing back his fear since it was obvious his sensei was offended, Mike carefully said, "Leo and Raph often go out by themselves. You never ask them to pair up. Even Don, when he goes to the junk yard. I'm the only one that seems to – need an babysitter." Mike hung his head, ashamed that he had been so forward with his master.
Splinter thought for a moment, silent in his contemplation. Then he nodded his head in understanding, "I see and…you are right, Michelangelo. However, I never thought it was wrong to insist on others being with you. Yet, maybe it is because you are the youngest and that I remember too many times when, as a child, how fearful you were of going outside the lair."
The rat studied his youngest son intently. He noticed the well-muscled arms and legs of the teenage turtle, strong from years of faithful adherence to ninjitsu and honed to a near chiseled perfection. Michelangelo was almost fourteen, almost an adult. Still, even though the youngest turtle's stance was somewhat smaller than his brothers' - and maybe Mikey was at times too silly - the youth was still a force to be reckoned with. Even more so, the ninja master had noticed his youngest son's recent improvement in staying focused in the dojo.
"Maybe it is time, my son, for you to enjoy the same freedoms that the others have experienced? I will let it be known that it will no longer be required of you to be paired up with any of your brothers when venturing topside." Splinter announced cautiously, "Unless, of course, you choose to bring someone along."
Mike just stared at his sensei, his eyes big, unbelieving and yet hopeful. "Really?" he asked him breathlessly, a slow smile spreading across his face.
"Yes, just so long as you obey the clan rules and not do something that will endanger any of us - or yourself." Splinter replied, smiling. "However, before you go anywhere...was there some purpose to all of this; some place you wanted to go that began this problem with Raphael?"
"Popcorn. That's all I wanted!" Mike offered eagerly, his eyes large and expectant.
"Popcorn, okay, well…either way, before you go, Michelangelo, you must first apologize to Raphael and right the problem between you," Splinter said with raised eyebrows, "With privileges comes responsibility. I want you try to work out a system whereby both you and your brother will show respect towards the other. Otherwise, both of you will lose your privileges!"
Mike smile widened and declared,"You won't regret it, Sensei! And I will go and apologize to Raphael - right away!"
With that, Mike leaped off his bed and bowed quickly towards his mentor. Then, he was through the doorway and running towards the living room. He knew that Raph just might pound him regardless, yet, with his newfound freedom, it was a price Michaelangelo was willing to pay!