Disclaimer - What is it about my muses? I just - don't understand them. Where I should focus my attention on more important matters - such as finishing Butterfly or beta reading, ideas such as these nip viciously at my creativity. This one began with a title - as so many of my stories do - and just morphed from there. Nevertheless, as many of you know I do not own, nor will I ever own, the TMNT's. Only the story (and the title) are mine.
"Michelangelo," Master Splinter warned, "if you do not eat the rest of your dinner, you will not grow big and strong like your brothers!"
Eight-year old Mikey, the littlest of the clan, looked down at his plate, his face twisted into one of disgust. He looked up at Master Splinter with pleading eyes, but he saw nothing but a very determined rat. He was mystified that his father could be so callous, so cruel, so - so utterly without mercy.
His father, meanwhile, stood opposite from him at the other side of the dinner table, arms crossed in front of his chest, his ears pinned back. The sage rat was getting rather tired of the conflict and it had gone on far longer than it should.
Thoroughly repulsed nonetheless, the young turtle finally asked, "How can peas make me strong…?" He smashed one with his fork for emphasis, "they're so mushy! If they're so good for you, why'd they make'em so wimpy - and - and yucky tasting?" He stared at the tiny, round and very green monstrosities with abject horror.
The ninja master sighed and repeated what he had said only moments before, "It is just the way it is, my son. Some things that are good for you, taste good, while some do not, but that does not matter. You must eat all of your dinner."
"But whhyyy?" Mike whined, wishing that he was in the living room, watching television with his brothers, who had already finished their dinner a long time ago. Well, thirty minutes ago, anyway, because that was how long Mikey had been sitting alone at the kitchen table, staring at the awful and probably poisonous collection of green, mushy marbles.
"I just told you, Michelangelo!" Splinter replied, sighing just a little.
"No, why must I eat peas? Can't I eat somethin' else instead, something that'll taste better?" The little turtle looked up expectantly at his father, hoping his suggestion was a one that Master Splinter hadn't thought of yet.
His hopes dashed to pieces though, when the rat shook his head, "No, and I am not going to cater to your finicky tastes. You must learn to eat whatever is on your plate - we cannot afford to have picky eaters."
"But…peas make me feel…feel sick." Mike already felt like throwing up just looking at the peas, but now thinking about getting sick only made him gag and his throat wretched reactively in response.
"And acting like you are going to get sick will not gain my sympathies, either!" his father said sternly.
"I wasn't actin'," Mikey declared softly, "They - really make me want to…" He couldn't help it, he began to wretch again, mouth open, his tongue out, the muffled sound of a strangled gag.
"Enough! You will sit there until you have eaten every bite." And with that, Master Splinter turned to leave the kitchen.
Mikey glared at the squishy, green pills, wrinkling his nose, and tried not to gag some more. With liquid eyes threatening to spill over, he glanced up at his father and watched as the aged rat left the room.
There would be no leniency tonight, not for Michelangelo, not until he ate each and every pea on his plate.
"S'not fair. Don't know why I have t'eat this stuff. Never got any bigger the last time I ate'em." he grumbled under his breath.
Mike sniffed once and turned to look out the kitchen doorway - and sighed. How he wished he could see what it was they were watching, but Master Splinter had long ago moved the television to where any who sat at the kitchen table would not have that luxury. He could still hear the program, though, and his brothers, as they talked about what they were watching.
"Hey, Donnie, 'zit possible for someone t'just get big like that jockey just did?" Raph asked from somewhere in the living room.
"Naw, Raph. Takes years to do that and, besides, I think this guy's gonna regret wishing for it."
Mikey brightened a little. It sounded like a science fiction program, one of the old ones from long ago. Mike smiled a little as he listened to the dialogue coming from television and it was then he recognized the program!
Oh, he loved Twilight Zone, even though it gave him nightmares. Michelangelo had many favorite episodes and it sounded as if the episode playing right now was one of them.
"Maybe if I just got big 'cause I wanted to, like…like that jockey on Twilight Zone. Yeah, he got big 'cause he wanted to and I bet if I could get big all'a sudden, Master Splinter wouldn't make me eat peas anymore!"
Just the same, Mikey pushed his plate of peas away, and a little harder than he intended to. The action made some of the vegetables skitter crazily around the plate like little drunken balls. He suddenly had an idea. With index finger to thumb, he flicked one off, watching it as it shot through the air across the kitchen and landing a few feet away into the sink.
"Two points," he said cheerily, but then thought about flicking the rest, one pea at a time, into the sink, too. Still, he knew if he even so much as tried to get off his chair, to make sure each pea made its way down the drain, Master Splinter would know, as he seemed to always know whatever Mikey was doing.
Resigned to his spot yet quite determined not to eat such yucky, mushy things as peas, Mikey grew tired of sitting up and so he rested his arms on the table. Crossing them in front of him, he then laid his chin on top his arms, continuing to stare woefully at what remained of his dinner. He then began to wish that they were beans, or carrots, or grapes or - or even broccoli!
No, not broccoli. Broccoli was worse than death, worse than peas, but beans or carrots, or even squash would be better than yucky, mushy old peas.
Well, maybe not squash either, but - certainly, anything else would be better than peas; that much Mikey knew.
In either case, he just could not force himself to eat such repulsive, squishy, yucky, bad-tasting food as those terrible little round green-things. Yet, the longer he sat there at the table, the more tired he got, and before too long, Mikey yawned big and wide. Before too much longer after that, his eyes began to droop and before too much longer after THAT, he fell asleep.
Mikey didn't know how long he had slept, but then after a while…
"Michelangelo." The voice was softer, now, and more familiar as it poked into Mikey's sleep-muddled brain.
Mikey opened his eyes, one at a time, and squinted a bit. He quickly realized his head was lying on something hard, with his arms outstretched on something else equally as hard and it was then when he realized that he was still in the kitchen and half-sprawled on top of the table.
Well, his arms and his head were sprawled, anyway. The rest of him still sat on his chair - with his rump and his tail feeling very, very numb under his shell.
Nevertheless, it quickly became obvious to Michelangelo that he had fallen asleep in the kitchen and now someone was trying to wake him up.
"Michelangelo," the voice called again and this time, Mikey knew who it was.
"Yeah, Master Splinter?" the little turtle looked up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He quickly noticed his father standing next to him, a smile gracing the old rat's face.
"My son…" Master Splinter said kindly, "I am proud of you."
"You…are?" Mikey replied sleepily and somewhat clueless. "H-how come?" he asked, sitting up a little straighter, now, and squirming a bit, if only to try and get feeling back into his rump - and tail - again.
"Because you have eaten all of your peas!" Splinter patted the young turtle on his head, "and even though it took you a much longer time to eat them than it should have, I feel you have earned a reward."
"You…do?" Mike was fully awake now, eyes brightening. The word reward often followed with ice cream, or cake, or candy, or even pizza but never with peas, or broccoli, or squash, or…
"Your brothers have already had their dessert and are in bed," Splinter said, interrupting Mikey's thoughts of his reward, "so I have a special dessert just for you!"
"You do?" Mikey's eyes were growing wider and a smile edged along his snout. He looked once at his plate, hoping he wasn't dreaming, and lo and behold - the peas were GONE! He lost his smile for just a moment, though, wondering how that could be. He certainly didn't remember eating them, unless - he ate them in his sleep?
Sleep-eating? he wondered silently, his smile returning again.
No matter, the fact was that they were gone and Master Splinter was proud of him and wanted to reward him. It was enough for young Michelangelo. He would accept it as fate, a miracle, Karma, or whatever one wanted to call it, so long as he got dessert and didn't have to eat any more peas, awake or otherwise.
Maybe he could even figure out how he did that, so whenever Master Splinter made him eat peas again, or even broccoli or squash, Mikey could just 'sleep eat'! That way, he wouldn't spend all of his time at the kitchen table finishing his dinner, while his three brothers had television privileges.
Maybe it's like med'tating! he thought loftily.
Just the same, not only did Mikey get ice cream, but Master Splinter even let him have TWO cookies to crumble on top of his dessert, except Mikey preferred eating them one bite at time, rather than making confetti out of them.
He enjoyed every bite, too!
After Mike had finished his ice cream, he went to brush his teeth and put his PJ's on. By the time Master Splinter had tucked his youngest son into bed, Mikey was one very happy turtle.
The next morning, four eager and very active turtle children - separated in age by only months - came barreling out of their shared bedroom and through the living area. They playfully pushed and prodded each other as they raced along, each heading for the kitchen where Master Splinter was fixing breakfast.
"Good morning, Master Splinter!" all four yelled out excitedly, bounding energetically into the kitchen the way most eight-year olds would do.
"Good morning, my sons," their father replied, almost laughing. They bowed respectfully, as they did every morning before breakfast, and then Splinter motioned for them to take their seats. As they moved around the table and began clambering eagerly up into their chairs, the rat watched them.
Suddenly, he sucked in a startled breath.
"My sons, stop, now!"
All four were in various stages of climbing into their appointed chairs, frozen in place, hand to seat, foot to foot rest, heads turned towards their father, and each wondering why he had asked them to stop.
"Stand before me, now - please," the rat instructed.
Four young turtles dutifully came off their chairs and walked over to their father, again. They stood in front of him, with Leo bowing first and then Raph, followed by Don and finally Mikey.
"Thank you, my sons, but you do not need to bow. Please stand as straight as you can," their father said, trying to sound calm.
Now, all four turtles stood straight and tall, shoulder to shoulder, each with a puzzled and curious expression on their face. There was a little bit of fear, too, because as they looked up at their father, they saw an equally puzzled and somewhat fearful expression on his, as well.
"What - is it?" Leo managed to ask as he watched his father visually assess him and his brothers.
The rat did not reply at first, but only looked at each of his sons, seemingly fixated on their heads. It was very odd behavior for him.
Finally, the rat said, his voice whisper-soft, almost awe sounding, "This - this is impossible."
Four brothers looked at each other and shrugged, with Raphael finally asking as he turned to look at his father again, "What's impossible, Master Splinter?"
Splinter covered his snout with a paw, much the same way humans might cover their mouth with a hand to keep from gaping in surprise. He smiled a bit, almost amused, almost acting that maybe he was mistaken, but the more he looked and studied, and looked again, he couldn't dismiss what he was seeing.
"It seems," Master Splinter finally explained, "That during the night, Michelangelo has grown a bit taller."
Three turtles now turned their attention to the one in question, the youngest. They looked at Mikey and stared, and then their eyes grew wide and incredulous, as it finally dawned on them why their father said what he did.
All three brothers noticed that Michelangelo, the shortest turtle in the family, was now standing almost as tall as Donatello, who was the biggest of the four. It seemed that in just one night alone, Mikey had grown taller - by four inches!
"IknewitIknewitIknewit," his words jumbled together, bouncing on his toes, "I knew that if I just wished to be bigger, it would come true, just like that man on Twilight Zone!" He bounced on his toes some more, a grin as big as the world spreading gleefully across his face, as he pumped his fist in the air in victory.
"But, that's impossible, Mikey," Donnie insisted.
"Yeah, Mike, no one grows that much in just one night!" Leo concurred.
Mike took a pose, hands on the side of his shell, chin up, sporting a smug smile, "If that's so, then how come I'm taller than you, huh?", and he stuck out his tongue.
"MICHELANGELO!" Splinter called out, "that is quite enough."
Mikey cringed almost instantly, regretting his actions as he felt his father's stern, disapproving gaze, "Sorry, Sensei," he mumbled.
A momentary silence filled the kitchen as all five members of the clan considered the situation. The turtles looked to their father and the rat looked back down at them. Then, Splinter said, "All of you, to your chairs. We will eat breakfast and then afterwards discuss the matter."
Four quiet and very subdued turtles went obediently to their chairs, climbed up, and waited.
Mikey was still excited, though. He just knew if he wished to be bigger, he would be. Twilight Zone was now more than a television program; it was magic! He wanted to go and hug the set right then and there, or even write a thank-you note to Mr. Serling…that is if Mr. Serling was still live, which he wasn't, which sort of made Mikey a bit sad right then, but then he thought about how much bigger he was, all because he wished it, and his smile returned once more!
Splinter rushed around the kitchen getting breakfast prepared, knowing how hungry his four sons were. He rummaged in the freezer and the refrigerator, trying to work as fast as he could. He paused briefly, as if in thought, chuckled once, and set about to gather the rest of the breakfast ingredients.
Mikey thought for sure his father was happy that he had grown so much - and all because he wished for it, too.
I'm sure Sensei will be glad he won't have to make me eat peas anymore! he thought, quite pleased with himself.
"Sensei, when's breakfast?" Raphael complained, "I'm hungry!"
"Me, too!" Donnie and Leo chorused together.
"I am hurrying as fast as I can, my sons," Splinter then turned to face his young charges, "I believe I have figured out what it was that accelerated Michelangelo's growth spurt, and so I have changed the breakfast menu a little bit."
"What are we havin?" Raphael asked eagerly.
His father wagged a bony finger, "Ah, it shall be a surprise, my dear Raphael." The rat giggled a little, which caused his sons to wonder a great deal about what it was their father was fixing for breakfast.
Finally, Splinter sat four covered bowls in the middle of the kitchen table. Aroma of eggs and bacon and pancakes filled their nostrils. The rat took his seat and sat there quite pleased as he looked at each of his sons.
Then Master Splinter announced, "Since it is obvious to me why Michelangelo has grown so much since last night, I believe we all need to take advantage of the amazing opportunity to do likewise."
With that, he uncovered the largest bowl, filled to the brim with tiny green balls, and triumphantly announced, "From now on, all of our meals will include a generous portion of - peas!"
Michelangelo woke up screaming, screaming his lungs out, screaming and crying and begging, "No, Master Splinter, please, no more peas, I'm big 'nuff, really I am, I don't wanna be fifty-feet tall!"
He then felt a lurch, a bump, and something hard underneath him. Still he screamed and begged and cried and then strong, bony hands lifted him up, hugging him to a kimono-covered ry chest, cooing with soft, soothing words of "It's all right, Michelangelo, wake up, you are only having a nightmare."
It was Master Splinter.
Mikey sobbed quietly, clutching at his father's robe at first, but then he pushed away, his eyes wide with fear, "NO, no more peas, Master Splinter, No, I don't wanna be big, I don't, I like bein' small…" and he cried some more.
"It's all right, my son, please, calm down, I will not force you to eat anymore peas."
Mikey finally collapsed against his father again, allowing his father's arms to comfort him, as Splinter sat down in Mikey's chair.
Raphael and Leonardo, followed closely by Donatello, came rushing into the kitchen, all asking together "What's wrong with Mikey?"
"He has had a nightmare, a bad dream," their father said.
"In the kitchen?" Raphael asked, "That's stupid; how can anyone have a bad dream in…"
"Raphael, you will go to your room, now!" Splinter demanded, "Your brother fell asleep at the table and he has had a bad dream. It is not stupid. Now Go!"
"I always get in trouble, even when it's not my fault…" Raph grumbled as he stomped out of the kitchen, heading for his bedroom, complaining all the way, "Of all the stupid things to get punished for, s'not fair…"
"What happened, Sensei?" Leo asked as he came up to his father. He laid a gentle hand on the back of his sobbing brother's carapace.
"I do not know, but if you and Donatello will kindly turn the television off…"
"But Master, the 'Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman' is just starting," Donnie complained, "I always miss the first part, can't I…"
"And it is probably why your brother had his nightmare." Splinter interrupted, "Between Twilight Zone and that science fiction channel, it is amazing Michelangelo has not had more bad dreams than he has! I want the television set turned off, no questions."
"Okay, but the next time the movie comes on again, can we send Mikey to his room so I can watch it?" Donnie asked.
"Hmmph," the old rat sighed, "I shall consider it, but nothing more."
Satisfied, Donnie went into the living room and, after watching just a moment more of the show, he reluctantly turned the television off. He sighed then and walked back to the kitchen. Don saw Michelangelo sitting on Splinter's lap, no longer crying, but still rather upset. In fact, Mikey was explaining his dream…
"…and, and after making us eat nothing but peas for days and days and days, we all started growing really big, so big we couldn't stay in the sewers anymore and then we had to find a way out and when we did, all the people of New York started screaming and running 'cuz they were afraid of us because we were so BIG, but we were brave and stomped all over them like they was little ants!" Mikey beamed just a little, but then his eyes filled with tears as he continued with what happened next, his voice soft and serious, "And then…they sent planes to shoot at us and kill us and, and…and they were shooting PEAS at us, Master Splinter, and we tried not to eat any, but the pilots were REALLY good shots and we ate some anyway and then we grew bigger and...and…"
Splinter gently covered Mikey's mouth to hush him and said, "I understand, now, Michelangelo. You have made your point very clear, I think." He looked at Mikey's dinner plate, his eyes narrowing just a bit, until finally he looked back at his son said, "I promise you that I will not force you to eat peas again."
Mikey didn't look too convinced, so he asked, "Promise not t'make me eat them for breakfast or lunch, or…or d'sert, too?"
Leo and Donnie scrunched up their faces and exclaimed together, "Peas for dessert?"
"Yeah, in my dream, Master Splinter made Pea Pie!" Mikey replied with big, wondrous eyes, "an' the scary part was, it was really good, too!" He shuddered, "Peas aren't supposed to taste good…yuck!"
Splinter chuckled just a little and shook his head, "No, I suppose not, my son." He then stood and allowed Mikey to slip off his lap to join his brothers.
As Mikey walked over to Leo, he looked up at Donnie and smiled, "You're still bigger than me, so - so I guess peas really can't make me grow taller in one night, huh?"
Donnie's eye ridges pinched together, "What?"
"In my dream, I grewed four inches in one night and I woke up as tall as you!"
"That's impossible, Mikey," Donnie replied as he shook his head.
"Yeah, I know!" Mikey grinned bigger this time, "but, dreams are like that, huh?"
Master Splinter said, "Yes, my son, dreams are like that. Now, it is time for the three of you to get ready for bed."
"Aw, do we have to?" Mikey argued, "I just got up!"
"Yes I know, but you were only asleep for a little while," his father replied, "Now, go, shoo, go get your teeth brushed and your pajamas on, and maybe I will read you a story - and make sure you tell your brother, Raphael, to get ready for bed, too."
Splinter smiled as he watched his three sons scamper out of the kitchen. He then looked over at Mikey's plate again. "Well, at least he ate his peas," and then took up the now-empty dish and went to rinse it off. That was when he noticed the lone, errant pea, sitting forlornly by itself on the bottom of the sink.
"Hmm…" the rat mumbled, "I wonder if he…" and so he peered over the drain but didn't see anything. It is quite possible the child managed to get all but one of the peas down the drain, he thought, but highly unlikely. Either that or maybe he ate them and then fell asleep afterwards?
Splinter shook his head, mumbling, "No, Michelangelo would have raced out of the kitchen and told all who could hear that he had eaten his peas." The rat looked at the plate again, then at the one pea, then at the drain, when he finally decided, "Or, he could have eaten them in his sleep." Master Splinter shook his head, "But that would not explain why this pea is in the sink. Hmm…" He pondered that thought for a moment and then he chuckled, "I am sure he ate them but was so tired he fell asleep. Yes, that must be it"
While Splinter pondered this mystery, Mikey was getting his pajamas on, all the while regaling Raphael with the nightmare he had, "Yeah, bro, I mean we were BIG, bigger than some of those skyscrapers, and, and the planes really shot us with peas, and…"
"That's the dumbest dream I've ever heard of!" Raph laughed, "Leave it to you, Mikey, to have a dream 'bout peas!"
"It's not dumb, it was real…well, it seemed real, anyway, but I mean, what if peas can make you grow bigger?"
Donnie, who had already finished getting ready for bed and had his teeth brushed, replied, "Any food will make you grow big, Mikey, it's just that peas have a lot of good vitamins and stuff in them that help."
"Yeah, but they won't make me grow as fast as in my dream, right?"
"I told you earlier they won't," Donnie said and then he slipped into his bottom bunk, covering himself with his blanket.
"Right, just checking!" Mike grinned, quite pleased with his genius brother's logic. He then skipped out the bedroom door, heading for the bathroom to brush his teeth.
A few minutes later, Mikey's scream brought everyone to the bathroom. His toothbrush was on the floor, still covered in foamy toothpaste, with bits of a familiar green flecked throughout. The poor turtle was pointing and screaming at the toothbrush, terror written all over his face, "I knew it, it's gonna happen, I'm gonna grow into a huge monster turtle!"
Splinter picked up the toothbrush and studied the tiny green specks. Sure enough, they were bits and pieces of peas from Mikey's dinner and the old rat couldn't help but laugh.
Mikey, truly crestfallen, cried out, "It's not funny, we're gonna grow really big and have to move out of the sewer and then we'll all get attacked by pea-shooting planes…"
"My son, it is obvious that while you were sleeping in the kitchen, your subconscious mind obeyed my request that you eat your peas. You ate them while you were sleeping, that is all."
"But, that's what happened in my dream!" whined Mikey, clutching himself now as he thought about the next morning, and the next, and the next…especially about having to eat pea pie.
"I know, you told us, but it is impossible for you to grow four inches in just one night."
"Are you sure?" Mikey asked breathlessly, his face streaked with tears.
"I am absolutely certain."
Relieved that his sensei would not say something unless it was true, Mikey finally said, "All right, okay, I believe."
"Good," Splinter said, "Now, all of you to bed!"
As his sons headed back towards their bedroom, Splinter took the toothbrush and rinsed it off, placing it back in its holder. "Parenting is definitely not for cowards, that much I am sure of!"
The next morning, four eager and very hungry turtles barreled into the kitchen, all shouting they were hungry. They stopped before their father, who was fixing breakfast, and bowed.
The scene seemed all too familiar, though, for one of them. Mikey looked around just to make sure…and nearly fell over backwards.
He was taller than Leo or Raph and as tall as Donatello was!
However, before Mikey could scream, Master Splinter sternly admonished, "Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello - you will all stand up straight and stop teasing your brother!"
"Ah, Sensei," Raph replied, quite disappointed, "we were just having fun," as he and his other brothers straightened back up as requested, now taller than their youngest brother.
Mike only glared at them, "Not funny!"
Then, as he realized it was just a joke and that he really didn't grow taller during the night,he paused. Soon,a small quirk of a smile grew along one side of his mouth and then Michelangelo couldn't help it. He doubled up, laughing and giggling, as his older brothers joined in with him.
Master Splinter could only shake his head and smile,"Kids," and went about getting breakfast made.