Why Michelangelo hates Brussels sprouts.

"Could you pass the potatoes please?"

"Sure Leo." April passed a big bowl of mashed potatoes to Don who sat to her left, and he passed it to Leo who sat next to him at the end of the table.

Across the table from April, Casey was digging into his steak like some sort of starved carnivore; though his gusto was dimmed by the sheer eating power Mike was displaying next to him. Watching Mike eat made you wonder if his stomach had a bottom, and if he would even notice if he ate his fork along with the rest of the food. Raph sat next to Mike watching his brother eat with an expression of disgust.

"You mind Mike? I'm tryin ta eat here."

Mike stopped eating; his mouth rimmed with mashed potatoes, and gave a puzzled look.

"Whut?" He asked around a full mouth.

Splinter's walking stick struck out, hitting him sharply on the head. The elderly rat was sitting at the very end of the table to Leo's right and Raph's left. He was rather far away from Mike and even though Splinter's arms shouldn't have been long enough, he had still managed to reach his oranged masked son… especially with Raphael leaning conveniently out of the way.

"Oww, Senshee." Mumbled the orange masked turtle, rubbing his head and endeavoring to swallow his mouth full of food.

"You are a turtle not a pig Michelangelo, you will eat normally or I will send you back to the lair with no dessert." Splinter said sternly.

At the threat of no dessert Mike's eyes widened to the size of small dinner plates.

He swallowed quickly. "Uh, right. This is me eating normally." He said nodding to his father and continuing his dinner contritely. The threat of no dessert was a grave one indeed.

There was a ding from the kitchen and April got up from her chair. "Ah they're ready."

She came back with a medium sized casserole filled with little round green things, resembling miniature cabbages. "I don't know if you guys have ever had these before but I really like them so I thought I'd make them for you to try out." She said setting the casserole in the middle of the table.

Mike took one look at the things in the casserole, his eyes went wide and he gasped, immediately beginning to choke. As Raph and Casey slapped him on the shell trying to dislodge the piece of food in his throat, Don and Leo exchanged knowing glances.

Puzzled as to Mike's reaction April looked over to Don.

Don gave an apologetic smile. "We've had them before April, and we all like them just fine except for Mike. I'm sorry, Mike won't eat Brussels sprouts."

"Why not, he eats everything else." Casey said sarcastically still pounding Mike on the back.

Leo looked over at Raph sternly. "It's because of something Raph said when we were still young, Mike hasn't touched them ever since."

Raph rolled his eyes, "Man, we were like ten years old Leo, get over it."

"I'm not the one that should be forgetting it Raph, Mike's the one who still won't eat..."

Leo broke off as the piece of food finally dislodged from Mike's throat, flying through the air and to land with a slimy wet plop in the middle of Don's plate; or more precisely his mashed potatoes.

Don dropped his fork.

"Brussels sprouts." Leo finished grimacing at Don's plate.

Don looked down at his plate then up at Mike, the expression on his face wasn't pleasant.

Mike gulped, and gave a tentative grin of embarrassment. "Uh, sorry Donnie."

April spooned the wet, gooey and slimy piece of steak out of Don's potatoes; along with a large portion of the potatoes as well; and slopped it all into a napkin which she took to the kitchen garbage can. She returned, and gave Don a double portion of potatoes to make up for what he'd just lost.

"Thanks April." He smiled gratefully.

She gave a weary smile. "You can thank me by telling me what happened. What did Raph say that made Mike hate Brussels sprouts so much."

"I don't think he hates the taste it's just, well." Don looked over at Mike, who was downing a glass of water to clear his throat. "Let me start from the beginning."

It was a particularly harsh winter, and Splinter had been scavenging the city for enough food to keep his four young sons well fed so that they wouldn't get sick. He had been lucky enough to find a small bag of groceries someone had abandoned next to a bus stop on the streets above. Splinter had watched for a time, to see if the owner of the bag would return but, when hours passed and no one came he decided to take it for himself. It was better to take it to his sons then let it spoil and go to waste on the streets, where it would be of use to no one.

Luckily the bus stop had been next to a manhole cover and he had been able to reach the bag with no one seeing him. Once back down in the sewers he had been happily astonished to find a small bag of potatoes, a package of hamburger meat, some tomatoes, two bottles of spices and a package of Brussels sprouts. Not only would they have a good meal tonight, but it was a meal that would consist of potato, vegetable and meat as well. Splinter examined the package of Brussels sprouts with some puzzlement, he'd never seen such a thing before and had no idea how to go about cooking them. Still, he decided, boiling them and using a little salt and pepper couldn't hurt. Clutching the bag he made his way back home, where he put the ingredients in the kitchen before going to check on his sons.

He was just in time to break up a fight between little Mike and Raph who had gotten into an argument over a game they were playing together. Splinter separated them, scolding them for misbehaving. He then put Raph in front of the TV and gave Mike a box of crayons and a coloring book: he turned to his other two sons but Don and Leo were keeping themselves busy. Don was taking apart a radio Splinter had found in the junkyard and Leo was reading a book. He praised them for behaving and returned to the kitchen.

There he gathered everything in front of him in a bunch and stared at it, pondering how to make the best meal he could out of what he had.

Three quarters of an hour later the hamburgers and the potatoes were done, the tomatoes were chopped and the plates were placed on the table..but the Brussels sprouts had turned into little green mushy masses sitting at the bottom of his pot. Splinter poked them, unsure if this was a normal state for a cooked sprout. There were voices coming from the living room however, complaining of hunger and immanent death of starvation if they weren't fed, so Splinter was forced to serve the green balls as they were. They looked like something that could have been found floating in the water in a particularly stagnant swamp but there was nothing he could do about it now.

He put the food on the plates and ran his eyes over the table, a proud smile on his face.

He had done well, this would be one of the best meals they had eaten all winter he was sure of it. Calling his sons into the room he watched until they had all seated themselves at the table and then sat. All four, especially Michelangelo were very happy to see the potatoes and even happier to see the hamburgers; but the four young turtles were puzzled by the sprouts.

"Everything looks and smells good Sensei, and I don't mean to be rude but..what are those." Leo asked looking down at the green balls on his plate.

"Try them first my son and then I will tell you." Splinter said with a fatherly smile.

Don poked his with a fork examining it with a young scientist's eye. "Looks like something from the cabbage family." He said.

Mike got on eye level with his plate, watching the sprouts for some sign of movement. When none was forthcoming, he sat back up and speared one with his fork, it slipped back off and hit the plate with a wet slap sagging in place a bit.

Splinter looked at his sons. "I shall go get some ketchup, perhaps that will help." He slid his chair back and went to the kitchen.

Raph regarded Mike's plate with a disgusted look on his face. "Ugh."

Mike shrugged "I'll try anything once." He said grinning.

Raph looked at the disgusted looks on Don and Leo's faces. He looked over at Mike again, and then a large evil grin spread across his face.

He looked to make sure Splinter was out of earshot, and then leaned over to Mike. "Dontcha wanna know what it is before you eat it Mikey?" He asked whispering out of the corner of his mouth.

Mike pushed the sprout up on his fork and shrugged again.

"Well, just thought I'd warn you, y'know just in case."

Leo and Don looked at Raph and raised their eye ridges in puzzlement.

"Just in case what Raph?" Leo asked cautiously.

"Just in case ya got a problem with eatin that kinda thing." Raph said innocently.

"What kind of thing? Cabbage?" Don asked.

"Nah,that ain't cabbage. Y'know what those are dontcha Mikey?" He looked around as if he was going to depart a very large secret and then leaned closer to Mike, speaking barely above a whisper.

"Those're little baby turtle brains."

Mike's fork paused midway to his mouth, and his eyes went very, very wide.

April was laughing. Don shook his head mournfully and looked over to Mike and Raph.

"He didn't even finish his meal, he wouldn't eat anything the next day until Sensei had thrown the sprouts away. We tried to convince him that they were just cabbage, but even to this day he won't touch them- all thank's to Raph."

"Yes, that was a particularly fine dinner and you my son managed to ruin it before it even began."Splinter said shaking his head mournfully at Raphael.

Raph had the decency to look embarrassed. "Aww cumon Sensei, how many times do I have ta appologize for that. I wuz ten okay?"

Casey was laughing now too slapping the table with a hand. "Man." He said wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. "I can just see you doing something like that Raph."

"Yeah, ha, ha laugh it up nut job." Raph said elbowing his human friend sharply.

Mike's face was red, and he was looking even more embarrassed than Raph.

"I can't help it okay, I just..every time I see those things I..I mean.."

April patted his hand. " It's okay Mike, I'll take them away if you want."

"No, April, it is time my son learns to eat them. He is now almost seventeen years old, such childish thoughts should have been left in his childhood." Splinter said looking at Mike sternly.

Mike looked at his father and gulped. "Aww cumon Sensei.." He said in a voice that was almost a whine.

"You will try ONE Michelangelo, I will not force you to eat more but you will eat one of them. Or I will not only force you to return home without dessert, I will take away your television privileges as well."

Mike gasped, if there was one thing worse than no dessert was no dessert AND no TV.

He hurriedly speared one green sprout from the casserole with a fork and only hesitating long enough to squeeze his eyes shut, stuck the fork in his mouth.

"You'll have to chew it and swallow it too Mike, just putting it in your mouth does not count as eating." Leo said putting an elbow on the table, and propping a hand under his chin.

Mike gave another whine and, looking as if he'd just put the most disgusting thing in the world in his mouth, began go chew. For a second the disgusted expression stayed..and then he actually began to taste what he was eating. His eyes opened and a thoughtful expression crossed his face. "Humm." He said after another second. "That's actually pretty good."

April smiled. "It's my mother's recipe, it's the only way to make them."

Mike speared another one and put it in his mouth chewing enthusiastically.

"I told you it was just cabbage, but you wouldn't believe me." Don shook his head with a half smile.

Mike scooped a bunch of sprouts onto his plate and dug back into his food. Everyone returned to their food. Raph looked at his brother beside him and then at everyone else and then a grin spread across his face.

He pretended to look at Mike's plate in puzzlement, but when Mike looked over to see what Raph was looking at the red masked turtle went back to his plate. This happened two more times before Mike finally got tired of it and said.

"What is it Raph?"

Raph looked up innocently. "What?"

"What are you looking at on my plate Raph?"Mike said tapping the end of his fork on the table.

Raph looked over at the plate again and then looked up at Mike. He shrugged, "Just thought I saw something."

Mike looked down at his food and looked up again, puzzled. Everyone else was looking now too. "Saw what?" He asked.

Raph leaned closer to the plate and with exaggerated innocence pointed to Mike's mashed potatoes and said.. "I'm not sure..but is that a cockroach leg?"

Two minutes later Raph was sitting alone at the table covered from head to toe in food but it didn't seem to bother him; nor did the whack on the head he had received from Splinter. Instead he was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. He was dirty, April would probably be mad at him for a week, but as far as he was concerned the look on their faces had been worth it.

"Man…" He said wiping tears from his eyes as well as mashed potato from the general area of his nose. " I shoulda thought o' that when I was ten."