Disclaimer - TMNT and what goes with it belongs to the respected people. The things that are referenced belong to those who that own them. Songs belong to those who own them (e.g. "Cheeseburger in Paradise" © Jimmy Buffet). If I own anything, it's mine. If there's any in-character mistakes, please give me your thoughts. I am, after all, not the creator, so this story is just a guess.
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What You Get Is What You See
by Zabbie Q.
The difference between man and turtle has been noted by many great scientists over the past centuries. One difference, that science shows, is the fact that man is a biped and is capable of abstract thought and making intelligent choices (or otherwise), while turtles walk on four legs, carries its house about, and will love you if you manage to remember that it has to fed once in a while. Another fact is that man's center of gravity, chemical balance in the skull, millions of muscles, and nervous system allows him to perform a number of acrobatic feats. Science will show you that a turtle is lucky to even climb onto skateboard without rolling on its back, much less do anything with the skateboard.
Of course, scientific law is based upon observations made by humans that are capable of error, which is what four brothers loved to point out everyday.
"Yee-hawww!" Michelangelo cheered as he spun in the air before landing his red skateboard on the stone floor. His nunchaku rattled on his rope belt, and he playfully thumped his elbow pads as he performed a comical victory dance. With a smile he raised arms, kicked off again, and used acceleration to ride his skateboard on the stone walls of the sewers. The wheels managed to roll up five feet before the teenaged turtle had to turn it and glide it back down. The board whizzed along the walkway, and he jumped over the river of sewer water separating the two side of the tunnel.
"Show off!" Raphael called out, but he smirked when he said it. He spun around once in his red rollerblades stretched out his legs and picked up a good speed before he reached a set of stone stairs that Michelangelo had soared over. With the ends of his red bandana fluttering behind him, Raphael bent and leapt over the stairs, twisting his body into a somersult. One, two, three-- he landed, skidded a little, but managed to keep his balance.
"I'm afraid I can only give you a seven-point-five, Raph," Michelangelo said, pretending to be remorseful. He coasted a little bit before performing a 360.
"Roller-blades ain't so easy as they look," Raphael returned, catching up to his brother. He pushed Michelangelo's shoulder, sending the orange-wearing ninja face first into the water. Michelangelo yelped before he disappeared under the surface.
"That's gross," said a voice behind them. Raphael quickly made way for his brother, Donatello, who rode down the steps on his purple bicycle. Donatello pedaled once before squeezing the break. "Even for you, Raph," he added.
Raphael rolled his eyes. "Can't you guys get a joke?" he demanded, but suddenly, he shouted as Michelangelo's three-digit hand grabbed his ankle and dragged him under.
"...Yes," Donatello replied as Michelangelo quickly pulled himself out of the drainage. The two guffawed, but in a moment they were silenced as Raphael's head broke surface.
The turtle glared daggers at Michelangelo. "These skates are new!" he bellowed, grabbing the edge of the walkway. "You are so dead!"
Michelangelo screamed as Raphael lashed out at him and promptly jumped on his skateboard, which hadn't gone into the water with him. Raphael let out a war cry and swung his legs up, but before Raphael could start after Michelangelo, Donatello asked, "Hey, where's Leo?"
Raphael twisted around and scanned the tunnel, and Michelangelo zipped forward twenty feet-- just outside the dangerous radius around the provoked ninja-- before stopping and looking as well. There was no moving shadow upon the wall, no sound of wheels on a scooter. The three turtles squinted at everything, including the arch of the ceiling, in case Leonardo was pulling a prank on them.
"Leo's good," Donatello said with a frown, "but he's not that good at hiding."
Michelangelo laughed nervously. "Huh, and he tells us that we shouldn't wander off." He cupped a hand to his mouth. "Kay, Leo! It's a funny joke, but time to come out!"
Leonardo did not appear. The brothers looked at each other; Donatello and Michelangelo winced, uncomfortable, but Raphael made a strange sound in his throat that was half-sigh, half-growl.
"Fine!" he called out. "Here we come, ready or not!" Rollerblades still filled with water, Raphael pushed off with one foot and glided to the stairs. He grabbed the iron rail tightly and started the slippery climb to the top.
"Does he mean 'Here we come, whether you're ready or not?'" Michelangelo asked as Donatello shouldered his bicycle. "Or 'Here we come, whether we're ready or not?'"
Donatello shook his head. "There's no way that I'm actually related to you."
Michelangelo looked at him, confused, but then he frowned. "Hey!"
Leonardo crouched against the sewer wall and peered around the corner, raising an eyelid. He quickly ducked and kept as quiet as he could. He waited a moment before folding up his scooter and laying it down.
Minutes ago he had been with his brothers, heading to April O'Neil's apartment. Since he was the slowest of the four while riding the scooter, his brothers had jeered at him with taunts such as, "Slow and steady won't win this race!" Leonardo had decided to take a short cut and surprise his brothers-- well, not scare them per se, but at least show off a new trick move he had been practicing when they appeared at the "Crossroads". The Crossroads--a section of the sewers where seven tunnels met to go out an eight, larger tunnel--would be the perfect place.
He had been gliding down the small intersection between his brother's route and the new one when his instincts suddenly told him that he should slow down and stop making noise. Leonardo had quickly walked the rest of the way to the end of the "alleyway", and now he looked again around the corner.
Kneeling side-by-side as the edge of the walkway, two boys leaned over the water. One had blond hair and looked thirteen; he held his companion protectively as the younger, a redhead around ten, stirred the water with a stick. Only five feet away from them were the iron rungs of the ladder leading up to a man hole.
Leonardo held in a private sigh and pulled out his Shell Phone. The time read 9:30 p.m. What were these boys thinking? The sewers were dangerous enough for the four ninja turtles and their sensei; it was no place for little kids. Leonardo watched them, waiting to see what they would do, but the boys remained where they were, silently observing the current.
After what might have been five minutes, the younger boy finally raised his head. "Will we be here long, Sosso?" he asked.
"I haven't decided yet, Kevin," the blond boy replied with a shrug. "Though I do want to explore this underground a bit more. It's more interesting than trying to walk in the subway tunnels."
"Are talking about before or after we escaped the train?"
"Stop complaining, you wuss."
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Leonardo's mind flashed over and over like a radar. He knew there was a small emergency walkway in the subways that led from one station to another, but it was narrow. If you were on it while the train was going pass, you might as well say good-bye. You don't know how lucky you are, he wanted to say to them.
"I suppose it is safer down here," Sosso said thoughtfully. He stood at last, and Kevin straightened beside him, releasing his stick. Sosso cracked his knuckles. "We might find a lot of stuff down here."
Kevin fidgeted, and he looked up and down the sewer. "Um... what about the alligators?" he asked, his voice going up an octave.
Sosso snickered, and his pale face was strangely contorted. "You're so stupid!" he taunted. "Don't you know that's just an urban legend? What would alligators eat down here, huh? It's not like anyone flushes down a pizza. There's no way one could survive."
"I guess so," Kevin replied, and he sounded relieved. He pulled out something blue, which Leonardo recognized to be a piece of sidewalk chalk, and started coloring on the wall. Sosso punched his fists into his pockets and watched silently.
Leonardo moved back again, and he thought of his choices. He could just sneak away and leave the kids alone; he wouldn't be detected then, but something bad could happen, and he would have to live with that shame for the rest of his life. 'What can I do? What would be the best way to keep them from harm?'
Fear. It was the first answer he received, but he was not so sure of it. The only way he inspire them with terror would be to reveal himself to them, which he was not keen on doing. He thought of Master Splinter. Master Splinter always did say that a ninja had to conceal himself; then, as Leonardo thought, Master Splinter would also say that they should take any means necessary to avoid the chance of harm falling on innocent bystanders.
He took a deep breath and then stood. He straightened his shoulders, put on his best smile, and strode around the corner. At first the boys did not notice him. They were too absorbed with Kevin's drawing of a lizard-like monster standing next to what might have been the Statue of Liberty. Then suddenly, Sosso's gray eyes averted and were suddenly fixed upon the turtle in blue. The boy's jaw dropped, and he uttered a little squeak. Kevin glanced up and froze at the sight of the ninja.
"Hello," Leonardo greeted, trying to sound friendly. "Could you kids spare me a quarter?"
They stared, as if hypnotized, then a shriek tore from Kevin's throat. "Alligator!" he screeched. He turned and ran towards the ladder, climbing up faster than Leonardo thought short legs like his could; Sosso followed suit. "I'm sorry about flushing you, Fluffy!" Kevin wailed before they were out of sight.
"Hey! Didn't your dad ever tell ya not to wander around the sewers!" a voice demanded, right next to Leonardo's ear. The turtle jerked as Raphael pushed passed him and shook a fist towards the kids. His tone had more bite than normal, and Leonardo noticed that he carried his rollerblades under his arm. He looked like he had been swimming in the East River.
"Yeah!" Michelangelo chimed in. Leonardo whirled around just in time to see his younger brother emerge from the shadows. "Ours tells us not to all the time!"
Donatello came next, and he shook his head. "Alligators!" he sighed. "But I suppose they go to public school, huh? That's Casey's excuse."
Leonardo felt his face heat. "What are you guys doing here?" Leonardo demanded, trying to hide his embarrassment of being found.
"Oh, so you didn't miss us," Raphael cracked. "What were you doing down here?"
Leonardo decided not to explain. "Nuthin'," he said, pushing pass Donatello to retrieve his scooter.
"Busted!" Michelangelo chuckled, but Leonardo ignored him.
"C'mon, guys," he urged. "We told April we'd be at her apartment by ten."
"Just waiting for you, O' Leader," Raphael replied, giving a mock bow. Leonardo didn't reply, but merely unfolded his vechile. Raphael sniffed, but he did not give any more comments. He slipped his wet rollerblades back on and winced. "You so-o-o owe me a new pair, Mikey," he said before starting down the new route.
Leonardo climbed on to his blue scooter, and Donatello grabbed his bicycle, but Michelangelo lingered, observing the picture left on the wall. "Can't draw to save his life," he decided.