A/N: - Merry Christmas to everyone on Hope you all have a fantastic time! Thought I'd better update before Christmas – the next two weeks seem to be the break between Christmas concerts and pantomimes! Enjoy Christmas and make the most of it while it lasts! It only comes once a year! Hope you like this chapter – Read and Review for me! Thank-you!

Outside the dojo, Don and Mikey waited in the living room, nervous,

"What do you think he's gonna do to them?" Don asked with a grimace.

"I dunno, but it's not gonna be pretty," Mike wrinkled his beak in response, though his eyes twinkled.

"Maybe he'll attach them to some sort of high-tech mechanical collar with a shock device installed so that whenever they argue they get shocked," Don suggested.

"Get real, Donnie, we all know he's gonna make them clean out the lair every day for a month – I'm gonna mess it up so bad they won't know what's hit them!" Mike was grinning mischievously.

"I am afraid I must tell you that both of your suggestions are incorrect," Splinter opened the door to the dojo and emerged slowly, shutting it again with a soft click, "Although I am tempted by both, one has been tried and has failed while the other would severely affect the speed at which we could train."

"I wouldn't complain," Mike grumbled softly.

"Michelangelo! That is not the attitude. Your brothers are stood inside the dojo in absolute silence, and are not to be disturbed." Splinter brushed past his sons, his cane tapping on the floor with every other step, creating a rhythm to which Mikey immediately began humming, not listening to a word his Sensei was saying. Don rolled his eyes and turned back in the direction of his laboratory, hoping to remain unnoticed by Mikey. No such luck. The second he put one foot in front of the other, Don acquired a second shadow in the form of a certain orange-banded turtle, asking him ceaseless questions about anything and everything – to which the answers were so scientifically complex that Don could not get Mikey to understand the concepts anyway.

-

Inside the dojo, Raphael could have sworn he had gone deaf – never had he and his brother stayed in silence for this long. Leonardo, meanwhile, was under the impression that there was a superior being at work – rarely did Raph not comment on Splinter's lectures after the old rat was gone, usually saying something along the lines of 'Leo started it,' or 'It's always me,' and gaining a repeat lecture for both of them from Splinter in the process. Clearing his throat softly, Leo gained Raph's unwanted attention. His red-clad brother was watching him carefully, perhaps hoping that Leo would be the first to break the silence so that he would get into further trouble. The truth of the matter was that Raphael was secretly relieved on hearing the noise – it signaled that he was not deaf, just silent – he did not know which he found more disconcerting.

-

"Man, how long have they been in there?"

"I-"

"You think Splinter's still mad?"

"Ma-"

"Wonder if they're still gonna be fighting when they come outta there?"

"Pro-"

"Hey, Don, you're being kinda quiet – everything ok?"

"Y-"

"Ya know, I'm not sure I like this silence idea – you think it will work?"

"H-"

"Ooh, what if th---" a hand was clamped over Mikey's mouth by Don. The purple-wearing turtle sighed and then inhaled deeper than before,

"Firstly, I would say they've been in there approximately forty-three minutes; Secondly, maybe Splinter is still mad – although I don't think he was mad, I'd say he was more disappointed; Thirdly, probably, yes – they never stop fighting; Fourthly, yes I am fine, it is just impossible to get a word in edgeways; Finally, have any of Splinter's punishments worked on those two before?" he removed his hand.

Mikey chuckled, "Heh, sorry," he rubbed the back of his head.

"Don't sweat it," Don dismissed the apology, knowing full well that Mike's apologies just tided him over until the next chance he got to get on someone's nerves.

"No, seriously, I'm sorry,"

"I said: Don't sweat it,"

"But you don't sound like you forgive me – I really am sorry, bro," Mike whined, putting on the puppy dog eyes; after Leo, Don was the next most likely to melt, although as he thought about it he realised there wasn't much to call between them. It was Raph that pummeled him whether or not he gave him the pleading, innocent look.

"What part of 'Don't sweat it' do you not understand?" Don turned on his brother, his voice rising slightly above the gentle tone Don usually applied to his voice. This was the point at which most sensible mutant turtle brothers would cease to grate on the purple-banded turtle's nerves. Mikey, however, seemed oblivious to the limits of his brothers, and continued to push.

"Um, the 'don't' part?" Mike quipped, poking his tongue out of the corner of his mouth.

"Mike, why don't you go and play on a video game or something. Or maybe you could sit outside the dojo and wait for Raph and Leo so you can tease them. You could even go and make yourself some popcorn and watch a movie. You could do all three at once if you really wanted to, just so long as you let me get on with my work!"

"Geez, Don, keep your shell on. You're getting as bad as Leo," Mike left the lab, popping his head back round moments later with a snigger, "And that, oh brother of mine, is saying something!"

-

Leo turned his head a little to the left, meeting the gaze of his hotheaded brother, who still happened to be watching him. He longed to say 'What?' or 'Why can you never be this quiet when I tell you to?' or 'How long have we been here?' or... he was thrown from his train of thought by a prickling sensation in his left foot; Then his right. It spread rapidly up his legs as far as his knees, causing him to shift uncomfortably. He wanted desperately to stamp his feet, administer the remedy for severe pins and needles, and stop the aching. But instead his toes curled under and dug into the underside of his foot. Grimacing, he couldn't help but notice a soft snort from the other side of the room. Raph was laughing at him. Of all the cheek; Raphael was laughing at him. Leo scowled, unaware that to Raph it merely looked as though Leo was attempting a somewhat twisted form of contemporary dance. He glanced at the floor, spotting a small chunk of wood, probably from a training board or something similar. Stooping slowly, he picked it up between his thumb and forefinger, scrutinizing it carefully – it would do. He flicked it across the dojo, catching Raph square in the back of the head, just above his bandana. That was the last straw.

-

"My sons, I have tried and tried to reason with you. To be fair and give you just punishments without going overboard, but you leave me no choice. I will…"

Splinter's voice faded in and out of the dojo, drifting through to Don and Mike, both sat in the living room, the latter sporting a satisfied grin while the brainier of the two looked mildly concerned for the welfare of the two turtles caught up in Splinter's wrath.

"…petty arguments and the trivial revenge you…"

Mike gave Don the thumbs up and snickered softly as he heard Splinter turn his fury first onto Leonardo; a rare occurrence, it was one not to be missed when it happened.

"…disappointed in you for this childish and pointless behaviour – do not make that face at me, Leonardo – why you felt the need to…"

Don narrowed his eyes at Mikey in a silent reprimand at first, but even he could not mask the warm glow he felt at being one of those in Splinter's better books, while the hot-head and the leader, the two eldest, were being ripped to shreds by their Master's tongue, which was renowned for being just as sharp as his claws.

"…for you, Raphael. Your temper is out of control. Perhaps you should consider…"

Mike had clamped his hand over his mouth, stifling the laughter he was longing to let out in a stream of guffaws. Don, seeing his brother's struggle, assisted by clamping his own hand over Mike's in an effort to dull the sound further.

"...goes for both of you. Leonardo, if you would just stop with this pretence that there is nothing wrong with you. How long has it been since you slept? And by 'slept', I mean for more that five hours."

Don's ears pricked up at this point. Maybe Splinter was getting somewhere with Leo. But from the silence that followed, Don altered that idea. Raph's dulcet tones piped up with yet another patronising, sarcastic comment – the sort he was best at making – causing Splinter's attentions to be distracted once more from Leonardo. Don could almost hear the sigh of relief from his eldest brother.

"…what did I tell you about such remarks, Raphael? Now, both of you get out of my sight. I do not wish to see, or hear, you for the remainder of the day. If so much as a whisper of contempt or insult reaches my ears, whether directed at each other, your brothers, or even myself, there will be serious trouble. I shall meditate on your punishments and call you back once I have had time to think. You are dismissed."

-

"Leo, come on," Michelangelo whined, "Please?"

No answer.

"Leeoo, please? Please, bro?" he tried again, elongating the vowel sounds in his brother's name. That always got to him.

No answer.

"What about you, Donnie?" Mike turned hopefully to the next brother.

"Sorry, Mikey, I'm a little busy right now. Maybe later."

Mike shrugged; at least Don had given him a response. With a faint hope, he turned to his last brother, "Whaddaya say, Raphie?"

A grunt.

"What's that supposed to mean? You may know what your various grunts and groans mean, but can ya translate for the rest of us? We're not all fluent in hot-head, y--- hey!"

"You deserved that," Don muttered from his corner as Raph bapped Mike on the head.

"Did not,"

"You're pouting like a three year old, Mike," Don groaned.

"Am not,"

Raph grunted, "Will ya quit bein' so damn childish? It's drivin' me crazy here!"

"Driving you crazy? I would have sold my soul to swap places with you when you and Leo were in the dojo,"

"Yeah, right," Raph scoffed, "You mean to tell me that you'd honestly prefer a lecture for somethin' ya didn't do," a glare at Leo, "than spend a few minutes with Mike?"

"A few minutes? Try almost a whole day! With him asking questions, non-stop, and babbling on about who knows what!"

"Hey, what is this – is it Mikey-bashing day already?" the hurt orange-banded brother protested.

"Every day is Mikey-bashin' day," Raph snorted. Leo arched an eye ridge and inhaled deeply, exhaling with just as much purpose, "What's up, fearless?" sneered the red-clad turtle, rolling his eyes.

"Raph, remember what Splinter said," Don reminded the hot-head gently.

"He said 'insult'; he never said anythin' about anythin' else,"

"Insults were an example," Don pointed out meekly, "Merely chosen to illustrate his point, and as insulting someone is the most commonly used method of demeaning them and hurting them emotionally I believe Master Splinter thought that the best example. I have no doubts, however, that he meant for nothing unpleasant whatsoever to leave your mouth."

"Not gonna happen, brainiac,"

"Didn't think so,"

"So, fearless, what's eatin' ya?"

"None of your business, Raph," Leo spoke up for the first time, his voice low, indicating that he was in no mood to be messed with. That tended to be a major problem in their household, one which Donatello had chewed over many times, always coming to the same conclusion. He, personally, preferred to avoid his brothers when they were feeling more foul than fair while Michelangelo pushed them but stopped before breaking point and Leonardo tended to try and help in some way - whether or not it worked was another matter, Don reasoned, but that was beside the point. Raphael, however, pushed and pulled and heaved and hoed in every direction until the recipient of his attitude, usually Leonardo, cracked. And, if they weren't careful, that was exactly what would happen now.

"Aw, c'mon, Leonardo. Splinter always encourages us to share our feelings and ain't ya always tryin' to be Splinter Junior? This ain't the right way to go about keepin' your title, bro – your hard-earned title."

"You gave me that title, Raphael," Leonardo responded with a forced patience.

"It's stuck though; doesn't that bother ya?" Raph smirked. Realising he was getting no further responses, neither calm or confrontational, from his brother tonight, Raph let it go and left the room with a grunt. The door to the lair slammed less than a minute later. Don swiveled his chair back to face his computer, once again deep in thought. This time he came to a far more disturbing conclusion – were it not for the endless battles for their lives that they seemed to get into, he could almost call their lives predictable. Were it not for villains like Bishop, Hun and Shredder – he shuddered – their lives could almost be considered…well, boring.

-

A/N: - No cliffhanger this time, but next time? Well, we'll have to wait and see! hums Christmas tunes and waves I wouldn't want to spoil anything! Wishing you a very, very, very Merry Christmas…yep, you've guessed it! And A Happy New Year!