On the surface of New York City, the streets were still alive with theater goers, and partiers. The lights and excitement would last far into the night. However, beneath the city, one aged mutant rat tucked his sons in and wished them good night many hours ago. The four boys with very little complaint drifted off to sleep in their beds, two to a room so they would not be alone.
As the water rushed through the pipes overhead, one small voice broke the silence.
"Raph? Raaaaph? Are you asleep?"
Raphael was either too deep in slumber, or too smart to answer the question from his youngest brother.
Michelangelo became more insistant. "Raph? Raph!" He tossed his pillow at his brother, instantly waking the sleeping turtle.
Raph sat up quickly blinking. "What? What's wrong?" He frowned at his brother across the room in the next bed. "What is your problem?"
"I can't sleep." Mike tried his most pathetic and innocent face. It usually didn't work on Raph, but at 3 am, it was worth a shot.
Raphael glared at Mike and, not for the first time, wondered why he had to share a room with him. True, they were all mutated at the same time, and were probably around the same age, but Mike still held onto things that the others had long since given up. The nightlight in the corner and the teddy bear on Mike's bed were proof positive of that. To tell Mike to go to sleep would be a waste of breath, even Raphael knew that. To ignore him wouldn't work either. Raph laid down on his pillow throwing one arm over his eyes. "Count sheep Mike."
Mike sighed sadly. " I can't." He propped himself up on one hand looking at Raph.
"Why not?" Raph half muttered into his arm. Sometimes, he could hold just enough of a conversation with Mike to bore him into sleeping.
"All the sheep are gone."
The simple statement made Raph move his arm and look at his brother in disbelief. "Gone? Gone where?"
"Well I was counting sheep," Mike started looking a little sad. "But then the wolf showed up."
Raphael blinked. "Wolf? What wolf?"
"The BIG BAD WOLF," Michelangelo said in his best "duh" voice. "Of course."
Raphael groaned. "Lemme guess...he ate all the sheep?"
"No. They ran away and jumped over a fence. Like in the story book." Mike smiled a little.
For his part, Raphael couldn't understand why he was still having this stupid conversation. "A fence? So they got away?"
Mike shook his head sadly. "No, the fence was on the edge of a cliff."
"A cliff?" The hell? A CLIFF? Where is he coming up with this stuff?
"And they landed in a river," Mike's sad voice conveyed his deep suffering at the loss of his sheep, non existent they may be.
Raphael sat up. "Ok, lemme get this straight. You were counting sheep. A wolf showed up so they ran away, over a fence, over a cliff and into a RIVER! What RIVER!"
"The East River," Mike said simply.
Raph groaned looking very annoyed with his brother. In a tight, teeth clenched voice, "MIke..there are NO sheep near the East River."
Mike shook his head. "Of course not, they all drowned!"
If this had been anyone but Mike, Raphael would have pounded them until they were unconscious. As it was all Raph could do was put his pillow over his face and scream. Mike watched his hot headed brother with a smile. This was certainly more entertaining than sleep.
After a couple seconds, Raph looked at Mike. "Count something else."
"Like what?" Mike asked innocently.
Raph growled. "What the hell do I care? Count pigs."
Mike considered that and shook his head. "No...pigs smell. That'll keep me awake. I'll count penguins."
Raph blinked at him. "Penguins."
"Penguins can swim." Mike settled down on his pillow closing his eyes, while Raphael stared at him in disbelief. With a frustrated shake of his head, Raph laid down to sleep again. It was quiet for all of a minute.
Raphael moaned. "WHAT Mike?"
Mike sniffed a little bit. "A shark came and ate the penguins."
"Shut up and go to sleep Michelangelo."
"HOW can you sleep when there's a shark in the East River eating all the sheep and penguins?"
Raphael jumped to his feet angrily and pounced on Mike. "THERE ARE NO Sharks! No Penguins! And NO sheep in the East River! Now SHUT UP and go TO SLEEP!"
The door to the room opened. "What is going on in here?" Splinter asked from the doorway. He frowned at his two sons who appeared to be wrestling when they should be sleeping.
Mike looked up at his father with a sad expression. "I can't sleep."
Splinter sighed a bit. "Why can you not sleep, My son?"
"NO!" Raph jumped to his feet again. "No, please don't ask him that."
Mike interrupted whatever Splinter had been about to say. "I'm scared. Can I sleep with you?" He gave Splinter his best "break your heart" smile; the one that his father could never resist.
The old rat blinked at his son's expression and sighed. "I suppose. Just for tonight. Come along Michelangelo."
"Finally!" Raphael said throwing his arms in the air as his brother grabbed the teddy bear and ran after his teacher.
Once the door was closed Raphael closed his eyes to sleep. He listened to the sounds of the sewer. The sounds that he was so accustomed to he hardly ever noticed anymore.
"DAMMIT! Now I can't sleep!"