Hey everyone! This is my first Ninja Turtles fic. I was inspired to write this after remembering a story I was told about my step-nephew Landon, and his great-aunt Jackie. Please enjoy and review for me. I don't know if this idea has already been done, but I'm not trying to rip someone off! This is purely me writing in memory of someone I've never met and three others I've had the pleasure of knowing for a few years! Enjoy!
This fic is dedicated to the memory of Jackie. It is also dedicated to Landon, whom I made a character, but changed his name. This is for you buddy! Tonya- Love ya girl. You've been a great friend. Lisa- Thanks for being there and sharing your sister's memory with me! This fic is for all four of you!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with the Ninja Turtles. I only own Hunter and Jackie.
The Eyes of a Child
Hunter carried two glasses from the kitchen, being careful not to spill anything. He knew from experience that the bright red juice left stains on many surfaces, from carpets to couches. His busy little legs hurried through the living room where his mom and uncles were sitting. Raphael, Leonardo, and Michaelangelo sat on the beat up old cushions alongside Hunter's mother, Jackie, watching television. Jackie looked away from the screen and towards her son as he reached the doorway to his room. "What are you doing sweetie?" she asked.
"Playing." he replied. He strained to close the door of his subway car, leaving an opening as he had been told to do, just in case any adults wanted to check in on him. The others watched him go, amused at their blonde nephew.
"The squirt was in a pretty big hurry, wasn't he?" Michaelangelo asked. "Didn't even say hi."
"He's got something on his mind." Jackie said, recognizing the way Hunter was acting. She moved to see inside her son's room from her place on the sofa.
"He's always got something on his mind."
"Yeah, but look who the father is." Raphael said. He pointed to his brother, behind him, separate from the group. Donatello looked up from his computer at the sudden attention he was getting from his family. "What?" he asked confused from the looks they were giving him.
"See? Doesn't even know anyone exists when he's workin' on sumthin'" Raphael continued.
Donatello sighed. "Can I help it if I'm focused? I'm working over here Raph. Remember what that is?"
"Ignore him Donatello." Leonardo spoke up. "He was only saying how much Hunter is like you."
"Oh..." Donatello said. He pushed his chair away from the workstation, stood up, and walked over to where they were sitting. He looked down at Raphael. "And that's bad?"
"Ah come on Donnie. I was just kiddin'. I love that kid."
Donatello smiled. "I know" he said and sat down on the arm of the sofa. "He's been in there all day, hasn't he? He looked at Jackie. She nodded.
Jackie met the turtles seven years ago, when a purse snatcher chose her as his next victim. The turtles were out on a routine patrol, not really expecting to find any trouble on that particular night, but, as on many nights, they were mistaken. They found Jackie just in time and saved her from the criminal. Being so thankful that she had been saved, Jackie surprised them all by not being afraid of the four mutants before her. Of course she was unsure of what to think of these creatures, but only minutes with them turned any fears away. The turtles were also a little insecure about making another human friend, but Jackie did not seem to pose any threat to them so, she was finally accepted.
Months went by with frequent visits by her new friends who loved to take any chance they could to escape the confinement of the sewers. It was during these months that she came to know the four through long conversations, both group and individual. Each turtle more curious than the next, but one's curiosity could never be satisfied. Donatello wanted to know everything he could and Jackie gladly told him anything she knew, which led to a great friendship and eventually more.
One year after Jackie met the guys, she moved into the sewer lair at Donatello's request, and another year later, Hunter was born. He delighted everyone when he arrived. Never had any child had more attention or been as spoiled as he was. Splinter was prouder than all the rest at the arrival of his first grandchild although he was very sick at the time of Hunter's birth. Sadly, only three months afterwards, Splinter died and left everyone devastated. After his death, no one spoke his name. The pain caused by his death was too fresh to be revisited by the mention of his name.
So, Hunter grew without knowing his grandfather. His uncles did their best to teach him right and had even started his training. By now, Hunter was five and familiar with some of the teachings of his grandfather. He had grown to be an adorable young boy with his bright blue eyes and blonde hair. He favored his mother very much in looks as she had his same eyes and hair. His passion though, like his father, was learning. He was very intelligent; always building, mixing, and wanting to learn this and that. And, like his father, he enjoyed spending some time alone in his room, finding something to entertain himself while everyone else went out. The only exceptions were when he wanted to spend time with his uncles or his frequent visits to the park where he loved to play with the other children his age.
However, today was different. Hunter had only left his room three times since he awoke early that morning and had not spoken more than a few words to anyone. His mother was beginning to worry about him. "He's been acting like this all day. You think he's alright?" she asked.
"I'm sure he's fine." Donatello reassured her.
"Yeah, he's fine." Leonardo said. "He said he was playing. There's nothing wrong with that."
"Nothing at all, but I'm still worried." Jackie said. "Donnie, go check on him."
Donatello stood up and quietly, so as not to disturb his son, walked over to Hunter's room. Looking through the opening of the door, he could see Hunter sitting in the middle of the floor. The two glasses he had carried in with him were now on the floor with him. One was situated in front of Hunter, but the other was a foot in front of him at least. Another point that made his father curious was the fact that Hunter seemed to be talking to himself.
Donatello turned and once again walked to the couch. "What'd you see?" Raphael asked.
"Not much, he's just talking."
"To himself?" Michaelangelo asked. "Talk about weird."
"He's probably got an imaginary friend." Donatello said to him. "Nothing to be concerned about."
"Well..." Jackie began.
"You remember when I took him to the park yesterday?" She continued.
"Yeah." Donatello said. Jackie took Hunter to the park often for a change of scenery. The outing was encouraged by all because they were deprived of this luxury as children, and so, they wanted Hunter to take every chance he got to go above and just be a normal kid.
"When he's there, he normally joins in with the other children. He loves to run and play, but yesterday he didn't" Jackie explained. "He sat by himself under a tree the whole time we were out there. It was pretty unusual for him so I asked about it when we left. He said he was just playing. But, he wasn't playing. Not the way he normally does. And now he's saying that he's just playing."
"That doesn't mean anything. Kids have imaginary friends. It's what they do." Donatello said.
Jackie still did not see any reason to let it go. She wanted to know what the reason for her son's sudden change in character was, and she was going to find out now. "I'm going to talk to him." She said. Jackie jumped up and quickly reached Hunter's room. She knocked softly on the door. "Come in!" Hunter called.
Jackie hesitated and looked to the others. "Are you guys coming or what?" She asked, knowing their curiosity would kill them if she left them behind. The four followed in her path as she walked into the young boy's room.
Hunter's room was recently cleaned and everything was in order, a welcome change from the disorganized mess from days earlier. The five entered quietly and saw that Donatello was telling the truth. Despite their appearance in the room, Hunter was talking, not to himself, but to something across from him. The words could not be heard. He was whispering now, with his hand cupped to his mouth.
"Hey kid." Raphael said, breaking the silence. He and Hunter had always been close. Raphael walked over to Hunter and knelt down. "Who ya talkin' to in here?"
Hunter looked up at his favorite uncle, breaking his conversation. "My fwiend" he said.
"Your friend, huh? What are you and your friend talkin' about?" Raphael asked in an unusually gentle manner.
Hunter moved to sit on his knees and face Raphael. "I'm not 'posed to say. It's a secret, and I promised my fwiend I wouldn't say anything" he said, holding his finger up to his lips.
Raphael smiled at this action. "And does this friend have a name?"
Hunter nodded. "Uh-huh. His name is Sp'inter."
"What?" Raphael asked him. He looked to the others with a shocked expression only to find they were as shocked as he was.
"Hunter, sweetie." Jackie said. She walked over and knelt down beside Raphael and looked at her son. "Did you say Splinter?"
"Yes. He's sittin' right there." He pointed towards the spot where the second glass sat. Nothing was there.
"Hunter, there's nothing there." Donatello told him.
Hunter looked hurt that he was not believed. "Yes huh. Dad, he's right there and we've been talking all day. And, he even helped me build a castle with my blocks."
Jackie and Raphael stood up at the same time and joined the other three in the corner of Hunter's room. "Did any of you..."
"No." Donatello broke in. "We didn't."
"Neither did we" Michaelangelo said. Everyone agreed that no one mentioned anything about their late master to Hunter. They never mentioned him at all anymore. "Then how?" Leonardo asked. He looked at his nephew sitting on the floor, once again talking lowly.
"You need to drink your juice." Hunter said. He pushed the glass further away from him in the direction he was speaking. "Dad says it's good for you and it tastes good too."
Leonardo watched him for a moment. "You don't think..."
"No, I don't think. It's impossible." Donatello said. "It's completely impossible."
"If you think it's so impossible, then go over there and talk to him. Figure it out." Raphael told him and pushed Donatello towards Hunter. "Fine. I'll get to the bottom of this." Donatello sat down beside his on. "Dad, why don't you believe me?" Hunter asked, looking up into his father's eyes. Donatello picked him up and sat Hunter in his lap. He took a deep breath before he spoke. "It's not that I don't believe you. It's just that...Splinter..." he paused. These were the most difficult words he had ever spoken. "Splinter's dead. And, he has been for years." For some reason, he felt so much better after saying those few words. 'Maybe it's because I've been running from them all these years' he thought.
Hunter rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently. "I know that dad."
"Of course. And you know what else?" Hunter brightened up at this point. He loved sharing his news with everyone.
"What?" Donatello smiled at the sight of Hunter, beaming.
"He's a rat too!" Hunter whispered. His whisper turned out to be just the opposite. All ears caught what he said, and the shock wave hit them once again as another bit of unspoken information rolled off Hunter's tongue. "He is?" Donatello asked, trying to disguise the surprise and even belief in his voice.
"He doesn't like me to say it, but he is."
Laughter, as well as tears, came from everyone. Now what they thought to be a mistake, but deep down hoped to be the truth was confirmed in their hearts. The news that their master, Splinter, was alright and with them comforted all, and the mention of him relieved them from carrying the burden of unsaid things anymore. "He says that he's going to look after me." Hunter told his father who was now on the verge of crying. "I'm sure he will." Donatello almost choked on the words.
"And," Hunter began again, "he told me to tell you that he was proud of you."
That did it. Whatever barrier that was holding back the tears broke. Donatello was completely assured that his father was there. 'It's not impossible' he thought.
"Dad? Why is everybody crying?" Hunter wiped a tear rolling down his father's cheek.
Donatello was able to control his emotions after a few moments, and he again looked at his son who looked concerned about what was happening around him. It was not everyday he saw his father or mother or uncles cry. "We're crying because Splinter is our father."
"Oh, are you sad that he's dead?" Hunter asked.
"No," Donatello said, "We're happy he's okay."
"Dad?" Hunter asked again. "Will you tell me about your dad?"
"Sure" Donatello looked to his family who stood across the room in tears. "I think it's time we all told you about him."