The Baby Sitter:

Donnie gets roped into helping Raphael baby sit, and gets a whole new perspective on his brother. One shot.

Disclaimer: The TMNT and all realated characters belong to Mirage comics. The baby and her mom are mine.

Authors note: To know who Marie and Michelle are you have to go read my story "Affirming Life" Maggie is from my current story "Farewell Dear Friend," and she's gone. For the record in the cameo Michelle makes in "Farewell" she is four months old. This is now ten months later.

Special thanks to Becca for editing. :)

Donatello sat quietly at his desk welding the circuitry of his improved shell cell together as he listened to the ruckus outside of his door. Behind him Leonardo stood at a partial alert. When they heard a crash in the main room of the lair Leonardo calmly glanced out of door.

Without looking up from his work Donatello asked, "What did they break this time?"

"The coffee table," Leonardo said unconcerned. When he didn't say anything else Donatello turned to look at him.

"Aren't you going to stop them?" He asked.

"Only if sensei decides he's had enough of them," Leonardo answered back evenly. "I am not pulling Mikey's fat out of the fire for this one. He deserves what he's getting. Besides Sensei could used the distraction. Tomorrow would have been Maggie's birthday, and he's been feeling kinda down lately."

Donatello sighed relieved. "I thought I was the only one who noticed." When he heard something else crash in the main room Donatello asked, "But why is Master Splinter letting them carry on like this. That's not like him either."

"Like I said," Leonardo said moving away from the door so Donatello can look. "Mikey deserves exactly what he's getting this time. "

Donatello peered though the doorway. Splinter was calmly watching Raphael throw Michelangelo to the ground and pull his left hand back over his shell. Donatello had a perfect view of the back of Raphael's head and the smiley face clearly drawn there in black marker.

Donatello covered his mouth, but the snickering was coming out anyway. "Don't laugh," Leonardo said trying to keep a straight face himself. "If Raph catches us laughing he may come after us."

Donatello nodded, but didn't dare say anything.

"Ow OW OWWW! UNCLE!" Michelangelo shouted as Raphael pulled his arm back further.

Very calmly Splinter said, "I believe you have made your point Raphael."

Raphael relaxed the pull on Michelangelo's arm a trifle. "Say it!" Raphael ordered.

"I'm sorry I"M SORRY I'll never draw smiley faces on you again!" Michelangelo said quickly.

"Or?" Raphael asked pulling on the arm again.

"Or anything else!"

Raphael leaned over and said in Michelangelo's ear. "And if you EVER come near me with a marker in your hand again I'm gonna take your hand off. UNDERSTAND!"

Still struggling on the floor Michelangelo said. "I got it I GOT IT! OW LEMME GO RAPH!"

"Now I've made my point," Raphael said. He released Michelangelo and got off of his back in one motion.

Michelangelo got to his knees and rubbed his sore arm. Before he could get to his feet Splinter walked over and glared at Michelangelo sternly.

"You are now to clean up this mess and find us a new coffee table!" Splinter said sternly.

Both Donatello and Leonardo blinked at that. Even Raphael turned around surprised. Usually Raphael had to replace anything he broke.

Michelangelo noticed the change too. "Awww come on sensei, Raph broke it."

"Raphael has duties elsewhere tonight," Splinter said still scolding Michelangelo. "If you had not antagonized your brother we would still have a coffee table."

"Raphael rubbed his head and frowned as the marker only smudged slightly. "How am I gonna get this stuff off before I go to Marie's?"

"Come on in here," Donatello laughing still smiling. "I think I have some stuff that will take it off."

With a glare and a grumble Raphael sat down in Donatello's room as Donatello applied a sticky white fluid to his head that itched. When he reached up to scratch Donatello said calmly. "Don't scratch. I know it's irritating but it's the fasted way to get the marker off."

"Just make sure not to take my skin off," Raphael grumbled. Then he glanced up at Leonardo who was trying not to laugh. "And what do you think your laughing at?"

"Who me?" Leonardo said as innocent as he could. Even Donatello could tell that he wasn't pulling it off.

Donatello rubbed firmly at the offending marks with an old rag. After a few minutes he said "All done. Now go wash before you really start to itch."

Raphael grabbed the rag out of Donatello's hands and threw it at Leonardo. He moved to the little sink Donatello kept in his lab. As he pulled the hose out of the side and rinsed his head he grumbled, "The least you could do is call Marie and tell her I'm gonna be late."

"Hey he let you chase Mikey around the lair for an hour. He's already done you a favor," Donatello shot back with a grin. "You won't be late I'll swing you by with the Battle Shell."

"That's a good idea," Leonardo said as he tossed the rag into the trash. "In fact Marie said this party they all have to go to is going to be pretty late, and on Long Island. Maybe Don should keep you company until they get back."

Raphael soaped, rinsed his head and grabbed a nearby hand towel to dry off. "I've babysat with Michelle before, Leo. I don't need anybody baby sitting me!"

"I know," Leonardo said trying to diffuse Raphael's outburst, "I just figured that you were going to be really late tonight and tired. If Don takes you over in the Battle Shell I'll worry less."

"Okay okay, but he'd better stay out of my way!" Raphael snapped.

"I have my own work to do Raph," Donatello said as he moved to get his laptop. "You won't even know I'm around."

"Well I wouldn't bring your computer if I were you, Don," Raphael said suddenly. "Michelle has recently be introduced to the joys of walking and now the house is officially baby proofed. Anything within reach is fair game, and lemme tell you Michelle has longer arms than you think."

"Fine," Donatello said beginning to wonder if this was a good idea. "I'll just bring some books along."

"Then grab your stuff and lets go brainiac," Raphael grumbled. "I don't wanna be late."

Raphael ran up out of Donatello's lab heading for the elevator. Donatello glared at Leonardo who looked entirely too smug. "You owe me for this Leo,"

Leonardo just smiled and nodded. With a sigh Donatello grabbed two of his new technical journals and ran after Raphael.


6:00 pm

It was still daylight out when they pulled up next to Marie's apartment building. There were far too many people around to use the fire escape like they usually did. Together they slipped in the service entrance to the building and ran up the maintenance stairs to the fifth floor. Once at the landing Raphael rang Marie's phone with his shell cell. "Yo, Marie I'm here, open the front door." He and Donatello peered out into the building's plane pale blue unadorned hallway. A door several yards away opened and Raphael and Donatello rushed for it.

The moment they were inside Marie shut the door quickly but quietly. She was dressed in a black evening gown with a pearl necklace. "Hey Marie," Raphael said easily then whistled as he saw her dress. "Man, you gonna give all those police brass a show tonight or what?"

Marie hit him with her purse. "Get your mind out of the gutter, hot shot. Hi Don, I didn't know you'd be here."

"Leo's worried because Raph said you'd be so late tonight." Donatello explained. "What's with the outfit?"

"It's a dinner for the widows and orphans fund." Marie explains. "But it's out on Long Island and it's a 90 minute drive. That's why I needed you here before dark."

"It's okay Marie, we managed," Raphael said evenly. "By the time you'll get back we won't have trouble getting home. Later is better for us anyway."

Suddenly a tiny high pitched voice started shrieking. "Ahhh AHHH AHHH!"

Instantly a smile flashed across Raphael's face. "I'm coming I'm coming!" He called over to a playpen. Inside the pink playpen was Michelle. She was dressed in a bright green romper, and Donatello could tell that she had grown again since he had last seen her. Her hair was coming in thick and dark, and her bright green eyes flashed with delight as she saw Raphael. "AHHH" She called back.

Raphael took two steps to the playpen when Marie said. "Raphael what have I told you about wearing those things and holding my daughter?"

"Okay okay!" Raphael said with a sigh. He glanced at the baby over his shoulder. "Hang on Michie, I gotta keep your mom happy." Raphael walked into the kitchen drew his sai and placed them gently on top of the refrigerator next to the Cheerios. "Happy now?" He asked When Marie nodded Raphael made his way over to the playpen. "Now where's my angel!"

Michelle had her hands high above her head and shouting out "Ahh ahh ahh"

In a single move Raphael scooped her up out of the playpen and gave her a huge hug. "How's my favorite girl!"

Donatello turned to look at Raphael. He never heard Raphael talk like that to anyone before. He never heard Raphael laugh that way either. It was a soft chuckle, not like the hearty laughs or the snide snickers he usually did. Michelle squealed in delight and batted her hands on Raphael's plastron clearly as happy to be with Raphael as he was to be with her.

"Are they always like that?" Donatello asked still trying to figure out what was up with Raphael.

Marie looked over at the pair. Michelle was now engaging Raphael in a game of peak a boo. She'd cover his eyes while he giggled, "where's Michie! Where's Michie! Peek a boo!"

"Pretty much," Marie said without a second glance. "Okay Raph, now there's a full lasagna in the fridge with a bowl of sausages and peppers, when you guys get hungry. Her bottles-'

Before she could finish Raphael added. "Her bottles are on the second shelf in the fridge, the baby food is it the right cabinet over the sink. Children's aspirin are in your medicine cabinet on the bottom shelf. The number for your cell, April's cell, Casey's cell and his mom's cell are on the cork board next to the phone. So is the number for the pediatrician and the hospital. Bed time is at nine o'clock sharp. Dinner is at seven and bath time is at eight. And if the building blows up I'm gonna bring her to the lair. Did I forget anything? "

"Funny," Marie said with a glare. Raphael just smiled at her and went back to making faces at Michelle. Making faces?

Sure enough Raphael was sticking his tongue out at the baby and blowing up his cheeks. She was laughing hysterically and slapping his cheeks making him blow right into her face.

The phone rang. Marie went to answer it. "Hello? Okay Casey, I'll be right down." She hung up the phone. "Casey and April are downstairs waiting for me. I shouldn't be any later than two am." Marie reached over and kissed Michelle on the head. "Okay honey be a good girl for Uncle Raphie." She said quickly. She grabbed her jacket and purse and waved goodbye to the three. "See you later Raph,"

"Laters Marie." Raphael said absently then waved and said to Michelle "Go ahead darlin' tell mommy bye bye!" Michelle managed to wave a sketchy goodbye. Once the door was closed Raphael moved to the window. He waited a few minutes holding Michelle watching at the window. Then a broad grin broke out on his face. "Okay now we have some fun!" Raphael said and twirled around making Michelle laugh. "Hey Don, do me a favor, fold up that thing up and put it in Marie's bedroom."

"What the play pen?" Donatello asked puzzled.

"Yeah, she don't need it." Raphael said, putting her down on the rug. "No god daughter of mine is gonna be put in a cage while I'm around."

Donatello wasn't sure what to make of that. "What about the toys?" He asked.

"Put them on the floor," Raphael said as he got down on his hands and knees next to her. "She plays with them fine out here."

"How do you keep her out of trouble?" Donatello asked.

"She don't get in trouble when I watch her," Raphael said. "You just gotta keep an eye on her."

Raphael spoke with such confidence Donatello had to remind himself that Raphael had baby sat for Michelle before. He folded up the playpen as instructed and put it in the master bedroom. When he came out he saw Raphael balancing Michelle on the palms of his hands an inch off of the floor. Before he could even cry out or giving a warning he saw Michelle teeter and grab onto Raphael's head for support.

"It's okay," Raphael said encouragingly. "Hang on...okay now let go," Obediently Michelle released his head and balanced again. When she grabbed onto his head a second time he put his hands down onto the floor and allowed Michelle to walk off of them. "That's my smart girl!" Raphael said giving he a noisy kiss.

Donatello decided at that point that there was a lot about Raphael's and Michelle's relationship that nobody knew about. He pulled his bo out of his belt and rested it on the wall next to the book case and sat down with his two technical manuals. He didn't plan on reading though. Donatello was beginning to get the feeling that what was going on in front of him was going to be more fascinating than any book he had ever read.

7:30 pm.

Donatello had his book in his hands but it was only a front to observe the events on the floor a few feet away.

Raphael and Michelle were sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room, and Raphael was singing a baby song to Michelle doing the motions as the toddler followed along.

"Head and Shoulders knees and toes knees and toes!" Raphael sang happily as Michelle followed the motions. She couldn't quite reach her toes yet but she obviously had played this game before. She laughed and followed along as best she could.

"Eyes and ears and mouth and nose," Raphael sang, "Head and shoulders knees and toes!"

Michelle laughed delighted then she put her hands to her mouth again. "Eee Eee" she said.

"You're hungry Michie?" Raphael asked. When she repeated the gesture he said. "Okay dinner time then. Don keep an eye on her while I see what Marie left for her to eat." Raphael jumped up from the floor and moved into the kitchen. Michelle watched Raphael very closely until he was out of sight then she turned around and looked at Donatello

Me watch the baby? Donatello thought to himself. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. Michelle solved this problem by wandering over to him. "Um hi there," Donatello said uncertainly. What am I supposed to do with her? Suddenly Donatello smelled something that he was positive wasn't supposed to be Michelle's dinner. "Uh Raph? Could you come back in here?"

"Why what's the matter?" Raphael said coming back into the living room. He looked down at Michelle in front of Donatello. "What you afraid to hold her or something?"

"Is she supposed to smell like that?" Donatello asked. And if she is I'm not holding her.

Raphael frowned at him. "Considering what comes out of your lab I would be careful about saying something smells," Raphael said a hint of annoyance in his voice. Then he took a sniff himself. "But in this case your not wrong." Oblivious to the smell he scooped Michelle up into his arms. "Come on darlin' Dinner is gonna have to wait. Somebody needs her diaper changed."

I didn't hear that, Donatello said sitting in a mild shock. I didn't hear Raphael say the words diaper and changed cheerfully. Curiosity beat out his good sense. Donatello followed Raphael to the nursery. He already had Michelle's romper off and was tickling her belly with one hand while he pulled at the tabs of her diaper. Once the diaper was open it was obvious that she was the source of the olfactory disturbance. Donatello backed up and covered his nose with his hand.

Raphael oblivious to the smell pulled the diaper off and rolled it into a ball and tossed it into the pail next to the changing table. He then proceeded to pull out baby wipes and cleaned Michelle thoroughly.

And this is the person who complains every time we end up dumpster diving for stuff for the lair? Not only was Raphael doing this without a grump or a complaint he was actually humming and singing to Michelle while he was doing it. One by one about a dozen baby wipes followed the diaper into the pail. Raphael redressed her in her romper tickling her again.

"Where's my Michie's belly button?" Raphael asked then laughed as she placed her hands on her belly button. "That's my girl." He picked her up and she started working her hands down his chest. "Yeah Uncle Raph ain't got no belly button," He told her with a grin. "I came out of an egg." He suddenly shocked Donatello by handing her to him. "Here Don, hold her for a second while I wash up." He then walked into the bathroom

"Um okay," Donatello was still not sure what to do. He held her the way he saw Raphael hold her earlier with her head on his shoulder. To his surprise Michelle reached up and began climbing up his shoulder until she could reach his shell. She then grabbed his shell in both hands and chomped down on it with her mouth. "Hey!" Donatello said.

Raphael leaned out of the bathroom drying his hands and noticed Michelle's position on Donatello. "Oh that," he chuckled, "She does that to me all the time. Just let her chew." He tossed the towel into the bathroom and simply motioned Donatello to follow him. "She's been chewing on me since she started teething. She'll take a teething ring from her mother but if I'm holding her she goes straight for my shell." As they entered the kitchen he pointed to the top of his shell. "Check it out,"

While Michelle still contentedly chewed away Donatello examined Raphael's shell. Sure enough there were tiny bite marks at the top. Donatello was still trying to understand this when Raphael said, "It took me a while to get it though her head that Mommy's shoulder is different from my shell, but she only does it to me now."

"I see," Donatello said. He sat down with Michelle still chowing down on his shell trying to figure out why Raphael consented to becoming a teething ring.

8:15 pm.

"You do know you have her off of her schedule now Raph," Donatello said gently as he watched Raphael finish washing Michelle's dinner dishes.

"Yeah I know," Raphael answered back not in the least perturbed by the inquiry. "Marie keeps her on a pretty tight schedule. Eat now, sleep now play now. Kids don't need to be kept on schedules. They'll have enough of that when their grown. Michie knows that when I'm around she can relax and be herself."

Donatello gave up at that point. He knew Raphael was a rebel at heart. If Marie was going to say one thing, even if it was for the baby's own good Raphael was going to do it differently.

"You hungry Don?" Raphael asked. "I'll heat up some of that stuff Marie left for us."

"That sounds like a good idea." Donatello said. "I'll –"

"No Michie," Raphael said. Donatello looked around wildly realizing for the first time Michelle wasn't underfoot in the kitchen.

Michelle was out in the living room standing less that two feet away from Donatello's bo.

"Oh I'm sorry Raph I should have -" Donatello rose to get his bo but Raphael stopped him.

"Chill Don it's okay," Raphael said calmly. Donatello sat down again not believing Raphael's tone and manner.

Raphael handed the towel and cup to Donatello and faced the living room now watching Michelle carefully.

Michelle eyed the bo up and down. She took another tentative step towards the staff reaching out for it.

"No," Raphael said evenly. Michelle looked instantly in Raphael's direction. She looked from Raphael to the bo several times before making another attempt at the bo.

"No," Raphael said again not even raising his voice.

Now Michelle looked at Donatello as if he had anything to say about this.

"Don't look at Donnie," Raphael said evenly. "I'm telling you no."

Michelle sighed then turned around and wandered over to one of her own toys.

Raphael smiled satisfied. "There see Don? She's fine. She'll leave it alone now."

"But what if you're not looking?" Donatello asked.

"I'm never not watching her Don," Raphael said as he opened the refrigerator. "I knew exactly where she was. You didn't. "And she knows when I tell her no it's for her own good." He pulled out the pan of Lasagna and a microwave bowl. "Here watch this." He closed the refrigerator and took his sai from the top. He gave a quick sharp whistle, and suddenly Michelle appeared at the kitchen door.

"Come here Michie," Raphael said with a smile. Michelle drew closer and Raphael put his sai down on the floor in front of her. "What do we know about Uncle Raphie's sai?" He asked her.

Donatello was sure this question was too complicated for the girl, but she looked right up at Raphael and said "ow."

"Right," Raphael said pleased. "And what do we do when we see Uncle Raphie's sai,"

Michelle put her hands behind her and moved away from them.

"Good girl," Raphael said as he put the sai back into his belt. He turned away from her and put the lasagna pan into the oven. "And what do we know about the oven?"

"Ow," Michelle replied promptly and moved away from the oven with her hands still behind her."

"That's my girl," He closed the oven door and picked her up. "Okay new lesson here," he said. He carried her out to the living room sat her down on the floor then got Donatello's bo and put it before her. "Okay Uncle Donnie's bo is an ow, okay Michie?"

Michelle sat there looking at Raphael puzzled.

"Raph," Donatello said from the kitchen. "I don't think -"

"I got this Don," Raphael said without a hint of his usual impatience. "The bo is an ow," Raphael repeated. He had to do it serval times but eventually Michelle got the idea.

"Ow," the little girl repeated, and put her hands behind her back.

Raphael left the bo where it was and moved away from both her and the staff. "And what do we do when we see an ow?" He asked her.

Immediately Michelle got to her own feet and toddled after Raphael. He picked her up and kissed her on top of her head. "That deserves a cookie" He said. He brought her back into the kitchen and presented her with a zwieback cookie.

"See Donnie," Raphael said proudly "Problem solved."

"And that's it?" Donatello asked.

"Yep," Raphael said putting the bowl of sausages in the microwave. "Casey gave her the lesson in ow when he hit his head on the freezer door once. Marie had to call me and come over he scared Michie that much. The next day she had to take Michelle over for her shots and needed me to come over here because nothing made her happy after that. I asked Michelle if she had an ow on her arm, and you could just see the light go on in her eyes. She knew what an ow was. After that it was easy to explain to her why I didn't want her to touch the oven or my sai."

"But do you really think she understands." Donatello asked watching her sitting on the floor eating her cookie.

Raphael smiled. "She understands. The last time I was over here I broke a glass and cut my finger. I didn't scream or anything but I said ow, and Michelle looked like she was the one who got hurt. It also kept her from coming in the kitchen while I cleaned up the mess. Afterwards she looked at my hand and told me 'ow,' so I know she understands that. "

"Okay," Donatello said with a shrug. "If you say so."

The microwave dinged and Raphael took the bowl out. "Here you go Don. The lasagna wont' be done for another half hour but you can start having some of that. Just save me some."

"Your not eating now?" Donatello asked as he accepted the bowl. "I thought you were hungry too."

"I am," Raphael said. He was looking down at Michelle so Donatello followed his gaze. Michelle was covered head to toe in chewed up cookie. "But now it's officially become bath time."

Donatello had the honor of holding Michelle as Raphael fixed her bath.

"You know Don," Raphael said as he tested the two inch deep water. "You aught to find out what's in those cookies of hers. Combine it with baby spit, and let it dry it becomes harder than concrete."

"I'll have to look into it," Donatello answered. Once the bath was ready Raphael removed his pads, belt and mask, then sat down cross legged in the tub himself. "Okay Don give the little munchkin over."

"You sit in the tub with her?" Donatello asked.

"It beats trying to reach over the tub to wash her," Raphael said. "It's not like I wouldn't be wearing the same thing in a pool with her right?"

Donatello decided that Raphael had a point. He sat there in the bathroom and watched as Raphael managed to clean every bit of cookie off of her.

"One of these days I wanna talk Marie into letting me take her down to the lair," Raphael said as he expertly handled the wriggling baby. "I wanna teach her to swim in that giant hot tub you built for us."

"It's a little deep for her don't you think?" Donatello asked. He didn't even bother reminding Raphael that he just called it a hot tub. Raphael knew that Don had attachments that would allow him to alter the temperature of the water, and he also knew that if he hadn't done it already Raphael would just say 'fix it.' and he would."

"I said a wanna teach her to swim," Raphael repeated. "I read in one of Marie's parenting magazines that some mom's teach their kids to swim only a few months after their born. Besides I'll be in the tub with her. Nothing is gonna happen to her."

Donatello tired to imagine what the others would think if they saw Raphael behaving this way in the lair. Mikey would probably think the apocalypse is coming, and Leo would swear that Raph was a robot or something, He couldn't think of what Master Splinter would think. Then again Master Splinter always knows there's more to any of us than we even know about ourselves. Maybe he wouldn't have trouble believing Raphael as a patient and gentle baby sitter.

"Okay Don," Raphael said picking Michelle up out of the tub. "Grab her hooded towel next to you, put the hood under your chin and hold her the way you did before."

Puzzled, Donatello did as he was told. Raphael put Michelle into his hands and once Donatello had her securely Raphael wrapped the rest of the towel around her.

"Now hang on to her while I dry off. Raphael said. He grabbed a huge green bath towel and began to dry off.

Once they both were dried and redressed, Raphael and Donatello sat down to their own dinner serenaded by Michelle on a pot with a spoon. The noise was beginning to give Donatello a headache but he didn't complain because to his shock the turtle who hollered if Michelangelo's music was too loud was sitting there eating and looking at her with a smile on his face.

"Is something wrong Don?" Raphael said above the clamor of the pots and pans.

Donatello looked from Raphael to the child and back again. "No," Donatello said wondering who exactly he was sharing this meal with. "Of course not."

9:30 pm

Bed time had come and gone and Raphael showed no signs of putting her to sleep. He was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner. Donatello had been put back in the living room with Michelle with instructions to "keep an eye on her."

Michelle without Raphael wasn't as fascinating, but Donatello never got to watch children of any age so he kept making observations on Michelle's activities.

"Okay, level with me," Donatello said the moment he was alone with the child. "You're a witch in disguise and you've laid some weird mind control spell on Raphael."

Michelle gave Donatello a puzzled glance, then began to walk around the living room picking up her toys and piling them in the center of the room.

The bo staff still laying in the middle of the room was still a forbidden object. Michelle eyed it warily then would look around as if she were looking for something. Finally she called out. "Ahh!"

From inside the kitchen Raphael called. "What does she want Don?"

"I don't' know," Donatello said completely confused.

Raphael stuck his head out of the kitchen. The moment she saw him Michelle ran over and pulled him over and pointed to the bo.

"Good girl!" Raphael said with a kiss. "Don, you can put your bo away now. I left it there to make sure Michie got the lesson earlier."

"Okay," Donatello picked up his bo and put it back against the bookshelf. Once the offending object was off the floor Michelle went back to picking up all her toys and putting them in a pile.

"I'll only be a few more minutes," Raphael said evenly. "Just keep her entertained until then."

"Right," Donatello said doubtfully, "Entertained." At the moment she was entertaining herself. Or at least Donatello thought she was until a stuffed panda came sailing out of the air and struck him on the foot. "Huh?"

"Da!" She said happily. Next she took her cow and flung it in his direction.

"Hey!" Donatello said sharply. Michelle didn't seem to notice as she continued to toss her stuffed animals in his direction. Once they were all in Donatello's lap she looked at him thoughtfully.

"Well," Donatello asked her with a grin. "You threw them at me, what are you going to do now?"

"Don!" Raphael called back from the kitchen. "Throw them back to her!"

"What?" Donatello asked. "You want me to throw them at her?"

"I mean pitch them over her head. She'll gather them up again then throw them back! It's a game we play."

Donatello shook his head but did as he was told. He pitched the toys high over he head. Michelle laughed delighted and went about collecting them.

Raphael came out of the kitchen and smiled. "It's a variation on a game that we play when Marie is around." Raphael explained. "She tosses all her toys out of the playpen and I catch them and pitch them right back in."

Once Michelle saw Raphael the toys were forgotten. She bend down and put her head on the ground.

"Ohhh that's what we wanna play hmmm?" Raphael giggled. "Okay if Michie wants to tumble Michie gets to tumble" He knelt down next to her and put his hand under her head and allowed her to fall forward performing a very clumsy tumblesault.

Donatello leaned back in the chair and allowed the remaining stuffed animals to fall to the floor. "Well at least I know where I rate now," he said to no one in particular.


Only now did Michelle seem to be slowing down. She looked up at Raphael and gave a huge yawn.

"Looks like someone is ready for some quiet time," Raphael said as he picked her up from the floor and stood up carrying her. Instantly as he told Donatello she reached up for his shell and began to chew. "Don, do me a favor," Raphael said softly. "She hates ice cold bottles. Stick on in the microwave for a minute then bring it to me in the nursery."

By the time Donatello got to the nursery Raphael had settled himself in the oversized rocking chair. Michelle was nestled in the crook of his arms. Raphael's head band was off and in her hands. Without looking away from Michelle Raphael reached for the bottle.

"There we go," he said softly. When Michelle saw the bottle her hands, still holding Raphael's headband reached up. Raphael gave her the bottle and gently began to rock back and forth humming to her softly.

Gradually Michelle's eyes began to droop closed and she would pause in her drinking before sucking on the bottle again. Donatello couldn't help but think about how Michelangelo would love to sketch such an idyllic scene. There was something about the tune Raphael was humming that struck an odd chord in Donatello though. "Raph where did you learn that tune?"

Raphael smiled. "You don't remember Don?" he whispered. "Master Splinter used to sing that when we were little. I don't remember the words, but she likes the tune."

"And the headband?" Donatello asked with a grin. He sat down with his shell against the wall to watch him.

"Ahhh she's been pulling on the ends since day one," Raphael said with a soft laugh. " Marie says its cuz babies like bright colored things. It was always easier for me to just give it to her than to have her yanking my head around. There's probably one in her crib from the last time I was here. She won't let Marie take them out until she gets a new one, and she has to have the one I'm wearing. The ones her mom washes won't do."

There was something about Raphael's voice and eyes that made Donatello wonder. The only time before he had seen his brother like this was the day that Michelle was born right into Raphael's hands. Donatello almost wished he could capture this moment forever. Raphael, completely happy and peaceful humming lullabies to a baby and rocking her back and forth in the darkened room.

12:30 am

"Don, Don wake up."

"Huh?" Donatello blinked and rubbed his eyes. He had dozed off while Raphael was rocking the baby to sleep.

"Come on Donnie, we gotta have this place the way Marie left it when she gets back." Raphael whispered. He reached into one of Michelle's drawers and pulled out, sure enough, a clean headband. He fastened it on around his head and gestured for Donatello to follow him.

Together they retrieved the playpen from Marie's bedroom. They put the toys back inside, they put away the dried dishes, and Raphael prepared a pot of herbal tea for Marie. After they were done cleaning up Raphael put on ESPN.

Donatello couldn't believe the evening he just had. Raphael hadn't complained once, threw a punch or growled at anyone the entire night. True he and the baby had been the only ones here, but it was so not like Raphael to be grouchy it was bizarre.

"What?" Raphael asked annoyed. It took Donatello a few minutes to realize that he was staring at his brother.

"Oh, nothing sorry," he said feeling a bit guilty

"Come Don what's wrong with you?" Raphael insisted. "You've been staring at me all night like I grew a third head or something. Tell me the truth did Mikey draw something on my shell too? Cuz if he did those markers of his better not be toxic or anything. Michelle chews on me all the time."

"No no" Donatello managed to laugh the idea away. "It's just that I never see you this cheerful. Or happy around the lair." When Raphael glared at him Donatello added. "Not that this isn't an improvement far from it," he added a nervous laugh. "It's just so not like you it's weird."

Raphael snorted and rolled his eyes. "I guess," he said. "But like when I'm here with her, Mikey's not trying to tick me off, and Leo isn't jumping down my throat for something. I can just relax and have fun with her." Raphael put his hands behind his head, closed his eyes and smiled. "Besides," He said. "There's no way I can be unhappy with Michelle around. I'm telling you Don, that kid is the best thing that ever happened to me."

Donatello fondly remembered the day they delivered Michelle as well. "You're right about that Raph," he said with a smile. "You're certainly right about that."

1:45 am.

"So how was she?"

Raphael took Marie's coat and hung it up in the closet. "She was perfect Marie like always."

"She ate at seven?" Marie asked.

Casey folded his arms and eyed Raphael skeptically

"Every drop."

"Took her bath at eight?"

"Right on time."

Donatello wondered if he should tell Marie that Raphael conveniently threw Michelle's schedule out the proverbial window.

"Went to bed at nine?"

"Like a dream," Raphael said handing Marie her cup of tea.

Marie looked Raphael sipped at her tea and said. "You're lying through your teeth."

With a smile on his face Raphael said, "Absolutely."

Marie rolled her eyes and laughed. "You are impossible," she told him.

"I could have told you that," Donatello said with a grin.

"Go on home you two," Marie said. "You've had a late night as it is."

"We've had later, Marie," Raphael reminded her gently.

"You guys need a lift home?" Casey asked."

"Nah," Donatello assured him. "We took the battle shell over. The streets are empty now, we'll be fine."

"Okay then I'll see you guys around." Casey said. Marie showed him to the door.

"And now I suppose I'll show you gents to the window?" She said.

She led them over to her kitchen window and waved goodbye to them as the climbed out onto the fire escape. "Remember Raph Wednesday at eight!" She called.

"I won't forget," Raphael said evenly. "Night Marie!"

On the whole ride back to the warehouse Raphael said nothing. He rested his feet on the console with his eyes closed and a peaceful smile on his face. Donatello decided not to bother his good mood.

When the elevator opened into the lair they both saw Leonardo doing stretches in the center of the room. Michelangelo was on the couch his eyes glued to the video monolith. Absently he waved to them.

"Hi guys," Raphael said evenly. He gave a great stretch and said. "Well I'm done for the night. See ya in the morning." Without another word he began to climb up the stairs to the second level of the lair.

"So," Leonardo said with a grin, "How did the adventures in baby sitting go?"

"Not what I expected," Donatello admitted. He thought about everything he saw tonight, and tried to figure out exactly what he should say. Should I tell them? Should I tell them that once he's with Michelle he's a giggling crazy extremely competent cheerful baby sitter? No way they'd never believe him. He stuck to something simple. "He's very good with her."

Leonardo frowned. "That's what April always says, and Casey and Marie. I'm beginning to think you guys are keeping a secret or something about her. Maybe next time I should tag along and find out what's really going on."

Good, because I don't think you'll believe me until you see it for yourself. Donatello kept a tight cap over that thought. "He likes to spend time with her," Donatello decided to try to keep it neutral. "It makes him happy."

"I want to know what this kid sees in Raph though," Michelangelo muttered from the couch. "I mean he's grouchy, grumpy, complains about everything, and has absolutely no patience in all. Why does this kid light up like a Christmas tree every time he's around?"

Donatello wasn't sure what to say to that. "He's different when she's around."

"Different?" Michelangelo said puzzled "Different how?"

Suddenly a crash was heard from Raphael's bed room, and then Raphael's voice. "MIKEY! MIKEY YOU CUT A HOLE IN MY HAMMOCK AGAIN! WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU I'M GONNA STUFF THOSE SCISSORS DOWN YOUR THROAT!

Michelangelo looked for an exit terrified. "Um on second thought Don you can explain it to me later!" Michelangelo raced for the entrance to the lair.

Leonardo sighed. "I'll give Raph ten minutes and then I'll go rescue Mikey before they wake up Master Splinter."

Donatello shook his head and smiled. I wonder how I can convince Marie to let us borrow Michelle so we can have some peace and quiet down here in the lair?

The end: