Just a bit of fluff to shake out the kinks before I tackle two different stories that need updating. TMNT are not mine! NOT now, not EVER.
Pomp and Circumstance
"Guys, this is really silly."
"Can it, Don. We're doin' this. You agreed. Splinter's been lookin' forward to it, and you don't wanna even GET Mikey started on how must time he's spent on his preparations for this."
Don sighed dejectedly, perched on the bed in the room he shared with the others at the farm house. He stared at his feet, and wished himself a million miles away-- or at least back in his lab at home.
"C'mon, Einstein," Raph both encouraged and bullied his brother. "Time ta get dressed."
"Awwww... do I have to?"
"Don, it's scary, but you sounded just like Mikey when you said that," Leo, holding out the first item to be worn, involuntarily shivered. He loved all his brothers, but the idea of two Mikeys was a bit much, even for Fearless Leader.
A few minutes of inactivity followed the statement. Leo and Raph exchanged looks, then nodded. In two minutes Don was dressed and being frog marched-- or rather, turtle marched downstairs and out to the barn.
Don, letting his brothers do all the work, briefly got a glimpse of what awaited him outside. The porch of the house had been decorated with colorful paper streamers, bouquets of flowers, a podium, two chairs and many, many balloons. Across the front of the overhanging roof a banner boldly and cheerfully proclaimed "Congratulations Graduate".
Facing the porch were several more chairs-- Splinter was already seated in the front row on the center aisle, wearing a new robe and a look of sentimental joy.
April, next to him, was dressed in her best, while Casey, tie less but still looking more spruce than Don was used to, played with the video camera, taking film of everything and everyone.
Don stood as Leo and Raph straightened out the graduation robe and hat that they'd "persuaded" him to wear, then stood him right at the opening of the barn.
"Remember, don't come out until the music starts, and walk slow the way April showed you," Leo reminded him, dusting imaginary specks off of the shoulder of the long, loose, dark-blue gown.
"And be sure to wave at Master Splinter," Raph added, adjusting the mortar on his brother's head, making sure the gold tassel was hanging just so.
Don sighed again.
"I should never have taken those college courses over the Internet," he mumbled. "I should never have let April talk me into getting that scholarship. I should never have--"
"Don, yer harshin' the joy here!" Raph snapped, growing angry. "You took the courses, you passed with top honors, and you earned a bachelor's AND a Master's Degree in Science! DEAL with it!"
And then Raph and Leo vanished, to take up seats of their own next to April, mugging for the video that Casey was making.
Don seriously considered escaping, but he knew that it would only take a few hours at the most for Raph to track him down, Leo to shame him, and Mikey to cry about how he ruined the ceremony and party.
Mikey appeared from inside the farm house, wearing a very big, very bright necktie and a suit jacket that was too large for him-- heck, it looked even too large for Leatherhead-- who had just come from the wood shed and had seated himself on the ground behind Splinter (the chairs being too small for him". Professor Honeycutt joined Mikey on the "stage" and then, with the push of a robotic finger on the CD system that he and Casey has set up earlier, the familiar strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" broke the relative stillness of the countryside.
Don was under strict orders to not march in until the part where the music slowed down-- the most familiar part of the song.
As he watched everyone preparing for this moment, he suddenly recalled that day that April came to the lair...
"It's perfect," she said. "There are many people who for various health reasons or reasons of location are unable to attend college in person. You could easily get the scholarship and the degree! Think of it, Don-- a chance to really study with others-- well, technically."
"It would be nice to see if I could do it."
"Do it? You probably could teach it, as smart as you are!" April exclaimed. "And Honeycutt and I could help you with some of it; be your study group so to speak. I could check out the books you would need, since not everything can be found on the Internet. What do you say?"
He had said yes. She was right. Getting the scholarship had been easy, despite the lack of a social security number. They got by that one by listing him as a student from Japan. It was much easier to fake that kind of information. April was put down as his sponsor/guardian to explain the address discrepancy, and it had gone smoothly.
Admission was even simpler! It's true, he would not really share the college experience of many others by actually attending, but Mikey had gone out of his way in an extremely annoying manner to try to make Don feel as if he were living in a frat house or a dorm-- pizza parties, late night music, panty raids (that last one still had Don puzzled, and it was only recently that April had finally forgiven Mikey).
It had amazed him, too, just how hard some of it had been. He was used to solving problems, to being the genius of his family-- to mastering any and all things educational. But he had to admit, there were some things he did not know, and some things that technically he should not have been able to do-- but he had been pleased that there were so many new things to learn.
AND one of his professors, when reviewing an assignment where Don had solved it in his typical Turtle fashion, was so impressed with his methods that he insisted that Don write it up as his thesis for his Masters work.
"You have a unique way of approaching the problem, and your solution was sheer genius. My colleagues were stunned. Indeed, the department head insisted that it was impossible-- until he recreated your method in the lab. He was all for hiring you on the spot, and we had to restrain him from going to the University heads as it was three A.M. It is a shame that you could not attend in person. I would be honored to meet you."
A sharp whistle snapped Don out of his memories. Everyone was turned towards him, and Mikey was frantically waving.
Slowly he marched to the music, trying to time each step to the stately pace of the familiar strains of the song. Everyone stood, and everyone (even L.H.) seemed to be taking pictures. The sound of many clicks and occasional flashes assaulted Don as the picture storm broke around him. He made it to the stage where he had to stand while the music finished.
To his embarrassment, he could see April and Splinter both wiping their eyes with tissues.
"Be seated," Mikey, as master of ceremonies, took command of the podium. Then he launched into a long and boring welcoming speech, complete with as many humorous anecdotes and meaningful quotes as he could squeeze into this masterpiece of the cliché ("Amazin', ain't it, what you can do when the Internet is at your mercy," Raph whispered to Leo. "Not as amazing as the fact that he is truly as boring as I've heard the real thing can be," Leo commented back, shifting on the chair to alleviate the numbness of his tail.
Ten minutes later, Don was being introduced as the Validictorium.
Applause sounded, and he reluctantly made his way to the podium.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Family, Friends, and Faculty," he began his speech (also helpfully written by Mikey-- "anything for my brainac brother!"). "I humbly stand before you, a humble Turtle-- grateful for the amount of support my family and friends have shown me during this epic event in my humble life-- Mikey, really, you overdid it with the word 'humble'."
"Just read the speech."
"When I look back on my humble life, it amazes me just how far I have come. I began life as a humble-- MIKEY, jeeze, use a thesaurus!-- pet shop turtle, and now I stand before you, an educated one. Who would have thought all those years ago that I and my three loving, wonderful, supportive brothers would fall into some fantastically amazing glowing ooze, be adopted by probably the smartest rat in the entire world, mutate into this current form, and become kick ass Ninja on top--- 'kick ass'?--- on top of it all? And now, with the help of my family and friends, I have become what I am today. I am truly humbled by all of this. I would like to thank my wonderful father Hamato Splinter, whose untiring efforts and great personal sacrifices over the years to raise me to what I am today have finally paid off. Way to go, Dad!"
Don blushed. This speech was a Mikey speech all right. As the audience applauded Splinter, who nodded in polite acknowledgment, Don wanted nothing more than to shred this piece of writing into little bits of confetti and toss them all over the place.
He had promised, however...
"I also thank my three brothers. Raphael, whose patience and understanding have truly guided me during my periods of frustration when the work became too difficult-- What the--?" He turned to his brother. "Mikey, Raph threatened to thump me if I didn't bring that one grade up from a B to an A!"
"Read. The. Speech. You. Promised."
Don turned back. Somehow, someday, they would all pay...
"Leonardo, my oldest brother and role model. I have tried some what unsuccessfully to be what he is, but I realize that I will never attain that lofty status. But I try nevertheless."
Don wondered what Mikey had done to his brothers. This was a Mikey apology if ever there was one.
"April and Casey-- my two best friends-- their support has meant a lot to me, especially considering all of the monstrous changes I have gone through in the past few months. You just had to bring up the Gamera thing, eh?"
"Leatherhead, Professor Honeycutt-- I owe a lot of my success to you as well. Without your help these past few weeks I doubt I would have graduated at all."
Don took a cleansing breath. Mikey had evidently pissed off nearly everyone-- though not as pissed as Don was becoming.
"And finally, to my baby brother Michelangelo. Bro, this moment would not have been possible without your guidance, your support, and your WISDOM? That's it, Mikey! You're going down!"
"Ahem!" Splinter's cough from the audience reminded Don that now was not the time or place to do such things.
Don looked at the serene face of his father-- and caught the warning glint in his tear-filled eyes. He turned back to the podium, and Mikey eased back into his own chair (he had started to vacate it to avoid a brotherly thumping).
"In conclusion, may I say that I am truly thankful to have such a family. I could not have done any of this without you all."
And Don smiled. For that last sentence had been true. He could NOT have done any of it without all of them, from April's first bringing it up to Raph and Leo's encouragement, to Casey's assistance in delivering complicated and delicate projects to the college rather than risk shipping them (thankfully it wasn't that far away. More thankfully, he never broke any of them!), to the helpful advice of Leatherhead and Honeycutt, to the goofiness of Mikey who made sure he had fun the entire time-- to the pleasure that Splinter was taking in the fact that his son was actually achieving something only humans participated in.
"Thank you, one and all."
Thunderous applause, and then Professor Honeycutt stepped up to the podium as Donatello sat down.
"It is my pleasure to confer the diplomas upon the graduating class of 2006," he said. Will the class please rise?"
Don, with a wry grin, stood up and faced the professor.
"Ahem... Donatello Hamato," he called, and everyone leapt from their seats, clapping and whistling and snapping pictures as Don stepped forward to accept his diploma and shake hands with the Professor. Casey practically climbed onto the porch to get a close up of the moment with the video camera.
Don finally stepped back to his seat, and Mikey took the stage again.
"May I present the Graduates of 2006!" he announced, signaling to Don, who moved his tassel from right to left. Everyone applauded again, and Splinter wiped more tears from his eyes.
The music played again, and Don marched out, followed by friends and family who then gathered just outside the barn.
"Dude! You forgot to toss your hat!" Mikey shouted, and Don, feeling even more silly than when April had rushed up to him to kiss him on the cheek, tossed the hat as high as he could. It landed on the roof of the barn.
"Uh... I'll get it down later," he promised April, whose cap and gown it was, saved by her from all those years ago.
Later, at the celebratory barbecue, Splinter approached Donatello with a small package.
"My son," he said, drawing Don aside for a private moment. "I have always been proud of you. I am proud of all of you, but I have marveled at all of your accomplishments all these years. From the first time you spoke to the first time you dismantled the toaster, I have watched in awe at your abilities to do the impossible. But I could not be prouder than I am today. You have done something many humans aspire to but are unable to achieve due to circumstances they cannot change. You have graduated from college and earned a degree. You have obtained a real education."
"No, Sensei!" Don protested. "YOU have always provided me with the real education. I couldn't have done it without you. I could never do anything without you!"
Splinter smiled at the sincerity of the words, and handed Don the small gift.
"I spent a lot of time scavenging and saving what I have found, and with April's help, I have bought you this," he said, handing the simply wrapped package to Don. "It is not brand-new, but it is paid for, not scavenged."
Don unwrapped his present-- it was a first edition of "Through the Looking Glass"-- and the poem "Jabberwocky" had been bookmarked with a simple card.
"To my beamish boy, from his proud father."
Don hugged Splinter and tried to thank him, but his voice for some strange reason had quit working.
"You're welcome," Splinter replied none the less. "And thank you, my son."