Author's note: I skimmed through the first 150 humor fics here to see if anyone had already written a story around this particular idea… it seems so obvious, it's hard to imagine that no one thought of it already! Rating for one bad word and for whatever you want to construe with your dirty mind. In my own opinion, all the feelings between all the characters are completely wholesome and innocent. And, adorable-- particularly in the case of Don/April.
You Are My Sunshine
Dinnertime was family time. At least, it was supposed to be. Tonight, however, Donatello refused to be dragged out of his room, and Raphael was lurking topside, presumably attempting to cool down after his latest outburst.
Splinter narrowed his eyes at the eldest and youngest of his sons. Leonardo was saying something about the unwashed condition of the dishes; Michelangelo was peeking at the nearly-done lasagna in the oven. Predictably, Michelangelo was floundering a bit in his never-ending quest for attention, since the two brothers who were most responsive to his antics weren't present.
Splinter settled onto his seat at the table with its red-and-white checkered tablecloth, and sighed. It was Michelangelo's whose head turned quicker.
"Something wrong, sensei?"
Splinter smiled at him. "Perhaps," he said kindly, and looked over to Leonardo, who stiffened, instantly concerned. "Do not worry, Leonardo," Splinter reassured him. "We can discuss it while we eat."
"Yes, sensei," his eldest son replied in a quiet, serious voice, taking his seat at the table.
A moment later Michelangelo marched over with the main course, placing it squarely on the table with a triumphant "ta-da!"
Splinter looked up gratefully, smiling at the chef. Leonardo, however, simply reached for the serving spoon with obvious impatience.
"Leonardo!" Splinter growled. Leo looked up, frowning.
"Perhaps a word of thanks…" Splinter suggested, his eyes narrowed.
Leo scowled down at his plate, but then closed his eyes. Michelangelo bowed his head, and Splinter did the same. After a moment of private reflection, they all looked up again. "Thanks for cooking, Mikey," Leo muttered, and scooped some lasagna onto his plate.
"Zero problemo, dude!" Mikey beamed. "You know Italian food is kinda my specialty."
With that, they began eating. Splinter watched his sons carefully. Mikey ate sloppily, as usual, making sure to let out an audible "Mmm!" every few bites. Leo, on the other hand, ate with near-robotic precision, cutting each bite with the same motion and setting down his fork while he chewed. This was their normal behavior, of course, but Splinter couldn't deny that there was something… burdensome… in the atmosphere around the table.
At last he set down his fork. "My sons."
They turned to look at him.
Splinter sighed. "Tell me what's wrong."
Leo's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?" he asked heavily.
"It's the oregano, isn't it?" Mikey winced. "Or do you think it's the onion?"
"The food is fine, Michelangelo," Splinter assured him. "It is our family I am worried about. Something is wrong."
Leonardo stood up. "Do you sense an impending attack, Father?"
Splinter shook his head. "No, Leonardo, it's not that. I sense… an unhappiness. Something… oppressive… endangers your spirits."
Leo's eyes narrowed to deadly slits. "I'll have a talk with him, Master."
Splinter sighed again. "Sit down, my son. This is not just about 'him'. There is something wrong with you, as well."
"Heh heh, I'll say," Mikey added, grinning.
Leo ignored him. Splinter went on. "All four of you seem to be suffering from… a negative attitude."
The serious expression on Leo's face intensified. "We will train harder to improve our attitudes, Master Spl—ah!" Leo rubbed his skull where Splinter's walking stick had just smacked it.
"This is not something to be fixed with training, Leonardo." Splinter sounded exasperated. "What I am trying to say is that you and your brothers do not seem happy!"
Then Mikey spoke up. "Not happy?" he asked, something desperate in his face. "Oh, man, I totally know the cure for that! Ice cream! And, video games! And, for super severe cases, a marathon of all six of the Kung-Fu Commandosvs. Chainsaw Cheerleaders movies!"
Splinter smiled. "I wish it were that simple, my son."
"We've got no reason to be unhappy," Leonardo said in deadly-quiet voice. His fists were clenched on the table on either side of his plate, and it looked like he was either about to pick up the entire table and throw it into the living room, or burst into tears.
Splinter blinked, his concern doubling. "Hmm. I see," he said softly, and stood up. "Perhaps we will discuss this another time." He put his hand on Michelangelo's shoulder. "The lasagna was wonderful. Leave the dishes, I will wash them later tonight."
"Really? Awesome! Thanks sensei!"
Splinter left the kitchen with a heavy heart but a determined gleam in his eye.
If his sons would not or could not tell him what ailed them, he would simply have to find out for himself.
Splinter began his investigation the following morning. He paused at the door to Donny's room, frowning. He couldn't remember the last time that door had been opened. Splinter knocked, waited. Knocked again.
No answer. Snarling, the ninja master struck the door with the blade of his hand, and with an explosive crack the door burst apart.
"Muh?" The sound startled Donny out of his slumber, and he sat up from where he'd been sleeping on his desk.
Calmly, Splinter stepped over the pile of kindling that he had just created, and walked into the room.
"Master Splinter," Donny mumbled, rubbing his eyes. "What is it?"
"I came to check on you, Donatello. I am sorry about your door."
"That's ok," Donny said, yawning. "I can fix it."
Splinter looked around the room. Raph's motorcycle, disassembled. April's broken computer. Mikey's broken PS2. The broken blender. The broken clock. The broken printer.
The old rat smiled kindly. "Yes, my son. I am sure that you can. But there is a more serious problem that needs to be fixed first."
Donny sighed. "The toilet again? I've told them over and over, it doesn't take an engineer to unclog--"
"No Donatello," Splinter said. "This problem-"
"I know, I know: the microwave. We just might as well get a new one this time. With all the creative ways I've already repaired that thing, our food's likely to end up even more mutated than we are."
Splinter shook his head. "It isn't the microwave either," he said, and folded his hands on top of his walking stick. "The problem I speak of appears to be emotional."
Donatello stretched his arms in front of him. "You mean emo-chelangelo. I'll have a talk with him."
Splinter shook his head. "It isn't just one of you. All four of you seem to be… unhappy."
Donny looked upset for the briefest moment, but the cool blue glow of his computer monitor quickly smoothed his expression into indifference. "Oh," he replied, looking away absently. "Don't worry about that, Master Splinter. We're fine."
" 'That' ?" Splinter repeated. "So there is something the matter! Tell me, my son."
"No, it's nothing," Donny said. "I mean… it might be something, but… I don't know what it is. I'm sure it's not important though. Probably just a phase. We all have these slumps sometimes."
"Yes, but 'sometimes' has occurred more and more often in the past few months," Splinter remarked. "There must be something we can do about it."
Donny's mouth tightened, and he stared straight ahead, determined not to say what was on his mind. Splinter waited patiently.
"You have something to say, Donatello?" the ninja master prompted at last.
Donny sighed, defeated, and stood up. "Yes sensei. Yes- there is something we can do about it. We can play video games until we burn our eyes out. We can do one-handed handstands in the dojo for six hours a day. We can lurk in alleys on the surface, looking for extra thugs to punish. Or, we can sit here and fix the toaster and the DVD player, and whatever else someone wants to break."
Splinter stood silently through his son's tirade. "I see," he muttered at last, and then cleared his throat. "You seem exhausted, Donatello. Perhaps your pillow will be more comfortable than your keyboard."
Guiltily, Donny repressed a yawn.
"Get some rest," Splinter advised. "I will repair the door I have broken."
"You don't need to do that, Master Splinter," Donny said.
"Yes I do, my son. And I must fix the other problem, too… although that one, I fear, will be much more difficult."
Donny smiled, appreciating Splinter's desire to help-- but there was a hopelessness in his dark eyes that didn't escape his father's notice.
Splinter headed down the hall, even more concerned than before, and no closer to an answer. He heard the sounds of combat coming from the dojo, and realized that he had an opportunity to spy on Leonardo and Raphael as they sparred. He intended to watch closely for clues to the mysterious unhappiness that had settled around his family, but after a while he found himself watching them in sheer admiration.
Splinter's whiskers bristled with pride. It was a beautiful fight. Alone, either of these brothers would eventually self-destruct. But together, they constantly tore away the negative qualities in each other, while reinforcing the positive. Yes. Unchecked, unchallenged authority would eventually consume even the purest soul. Ungoverned passion was just as dangerous. Leo and Raph held each other in balance. The energy between them was perfect. Until suddenly it disappeared.
Splinter narrowed his eyes in disbelief. Leo had just begun to win the match when suddenly, inexplicably, he stopped fighting. He actually let the tips of both swords rest on the floor. And instead of jumping at the opportunity like he should have, Raph also gave up. Just… gave up. Stopped fighting, tucked his twin sai into his belt, and stood there, slowing his breathing, the same as Leo was.
"You win," Raph conceded.
"Yeah," Leo commented, sheathing his blades.
Long after they'd deserted the dojo, Splinter sat alone in the shadows, dwelling on what he'd seen. Splinter realized that his sons were depressed, and he felt the weight of parental guilt settle in his spirit. Something had to be done!
He meditated for a while, and then remembered a magazine article he had once consulted religiously when his sons were small. Thoughtfully, he went rummaging in an old trunk and at last found the article, sitting down immediately to read it. Suddenly his black eyes flashed with inspiration. Of course! He shook his head. He should have thought of this years ago. Perhaps it was a long shot, but it was worth a try.
That night, Leonardo took his brothers on a patrol, and Splinter managed to use Donatello's computer to do a little online shopping. Splinter grinned as he deleted the history of the websites he had visited. He wanted this to be a surprise.
Just a few days later, Splinter faked a case of irritability and shooed the boys of the lair so that April could sneak over to help with the installation of the device he had purchased. About an hour later, Splinter was calmly sipping his tea as his sons cautiously returned home. They stayed out of their sensei's way for a while, until gradually they caught on that all was well, and resumed their normal activities.
It was Michelangelo who first discovered the effects of the device. The youngest turtle was just walking by on his way to the TV when suddenly he stopped. His eyes widened, his mouth hung open. "Duuuuude," he said slowly, exhaling and slumping his shoulders. He took a few steps backward.
"Oh, man. Right here, dude," he said aloud, although no one was around to hear him. His head rolled back. He stood for a moment, directly underneath a bright yellow light. The ordinary-seeming light shone down on his upturned face. Breathing deeply, eyes closed, he spread his arms out palms up, shuddering as the unremarkable light illuminated his skin. "Ahh…"
Slowly he sat down, directly under the light. And after another minute, he lay down on his stomach on the floor, and promptly fell asleep.
Splinter chuckled. It was perfect! He tucked the small remote control into his sleeve and settled back to watch his other sons' reactions.
Before long, Donatello appeared in the living room, his lab goggles perched on his head. "Hey, Mikey? Can you help me with something?" His voice was just a little edgy and impatient-sounding. And then he noticed his brother laid out on the floor. "Mikey? Mikey!" He rushed over, kneeling beside his little brother and quickly rolling him to his side. "Mikey, are you ok?"
Michelangelo's eyes barely opened, but a big smile stretched across his face. "I… am awesome," he said sleepily. "Dude… don't you feel it?"
The confusion on Donatello's face indicated that he did, in fact, "feel it", but he wasn't sure what "it" was. He looked around, and then looked up at the bright yellow light. With a grimace, he jumped backwards into the normal half-shade of the room, out of the circle of light on the floor.
"Shit!" Donny cursed, and Donny never cursed. Splinter nodded slightly to himself at the frustration evident in his son's voice. "That light- that wasn't there before! Hang on, Mikey!" Donatello dashed away, and returned in less than two minutes wearing a trench coat, hat, and sunglasses- and carrying a large reflective 'shield' that he'd made by taking down the mirror in the bathroom and attaching it to his arm.
Splinter's eyes gleamed proudly at his son's resourcefulness, and at his bravery as he proceeded to 'rescue' his brother.
Holding the mirror above his head, Donny charged into the circle of light and grabbed Mikey by the belt, hauling him back into the shade.
"Mikey!" Donatello cried, holding Mikey's face in both hands. "Come on-- open your eyes, bro!"
"Ugh, Donny," Mikey grinned. "Like… mellow out, dude. The light--"
"Yes, the light," Donatello said, standing and turning to face the offending bulb. He hoisted his bo over his shoulder, prepared to use it as a javelin.
"Donatello, wait!" Splinter called, just in time.
"Master Splinter!" Donny whirled to face him, and pointed at the light. "Someone planted that light here. I don't know exactly what it does, but I found Michelangelo underneath it! I was only exposed to it for four or five seconds, but that was long enough for me to start feeling its effects-- If Michelangelo was exposed to it for very long, he might suffer from--"
Splinter chuckled. "Relax, Donatello. I will explain. The light is not harmful."
Mikey sat up, smiling. "Man, Donny, you need some serious sunlight. Soak it up, dude! It is pure golden goodness!"
"…what?" Donny frowned at his brother, and then looked back at his sensei.
Splinter smiled. "It appears Michelangelo has figured it out. The light is a sun lamp… similar to the kind used in some aquariums."
"Right on," Mikey said, getting to his feet. "Man, that was the best nap I've had in forever. And it was only like five minutes!"
Donatello, meanwhile, took off his hat and glasses, and stared hard at Splinter. The corner of his mouth twitched in a rare display of anger.
"…you going to start feeding us minnows now, too?"
With that, Donatello turned towards his room, his shoulders hunched.
"Donatello!" Splinter called after him, raising a hand.
"Donny wait!" Mikey exclaimed, and grabbed him by the wrist.
"Let go, Mikey, I'm—" Donny started to protest, but Mikey was pulling the trench coat off of him, pushing him towards the light.
"It's for your own good, dude! Trust me, you'll like it!" Mikey wrestled his brother into a hug and braced his feet against the floor, determined to hold Donny in place under the light for as long as it took…
…which wasn't very long. Donatello slumped against Mikey's chest, relaxing in spite of himself. He shook his head, as if to clear away an unwelcome idea. "This is… this must be… a really… powerful… light," he said, before passing out.
"Jeez!" Mikey lowered his defeated brother to the floor, and then sat beside him, patting him sympathetically on the shell. Donatello mumbled something in his sleep, the only discernable word being 'wavelength'.
"Aw," Mikey said. "There you go, little techno-turtle. Soon it'll be all better!" Mikey beamed up at Splinter. "I guess intellect can only overcome instinct so far, eh sensei?"
Splinter nodded and took the remote control out of his sleeve, looking at it thoughtfully. "It appears that the light works as expected. It concerns me that your brother was so offended, however."
"Nah." Mikey turned his face up towards the light, closing his eyes and breathing in deeply. "Trust me, he'll get over it."
"Guys?" It was April's voice.
"April!" Mikey waved, and Splinter looked up and nodded respectfully as April approached. There was a backpack slung over her shoulder.
"So, how's the new sun lamp working out?" April asked, eyeing the unconscious Donatello with a grin.
"You knew about this?" Mikey asked. "Man, so far, it's awesome!"
"Splinter told me about it a few days ago," April explained. "He said you guys were all depressed, and he thought this might cheer you up."
"Me and Donny here are the only ones who've tried it so far," Mikey said. "But I think it's mondo fantastico!"
"Donatello, unfortunately, is an unwilling test subject at the moment," Splinter confided.
"Oh," April said, taken aback.
"Uhh?" Donny asked, coming around.
"Wow, that was fast," Mikey commented. "You feelin' better, bro?"
"Yeah," Donny said slowly, rolling to his side and looking around the room as if seeing it for the first time. Then he smiled brilliantly. "Hey April!"
He sounded so genuinely happy that April had to fight back her giggles. "Hi Donatello," she replied. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Basking," Donny replied frankly. "It's a turtle thing."
April cocked an eyebrow. "Oh really?" she asked.
"Yup!" he sat up beside Mikey. "Normal turtles spend hours every day basking in the sun," he explained. "It's believed to be primarily for thermal regulation, but there are numerous health benefits associated with the behavior- discouraging parasites, fungus and algae, for instance, and of course it enables the production of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and shells." Donny leaned over and knocked on Mikey's shell. "Really it's a miracle our shells are in as good shape as they are, considering we've been deprived of sunlight for our entire lives."
April laughed. "You're so cute when you're the expert," she said, causing Donny to blush.
Splinter's mouth fell open. The word 'deprived' had gone like an arrow through his heart. "Donatello…" Splinter said, something heavy in his voice.
Donny looked over, as if surprised to see his sensei standing there. Then his face softened. "Oh, Master Splinter!" he said cheerily. "Sorry about that comment, about the minnows. I didn't mean it. The truth is, I've often wondered about getting a sun lamp, but I never brought it up-- I figured you'd all make fun of me for wanting to try something so… turtle-ish."
Splinter felt tears rise to his eyes. "I am the one who is sorry, my son," he said. "I should have realized long ago…"
Donny shook his head. "Don't worry about it, sensei!" he said, and laughed. "It actually never occurred to me that sunlight might help our bad moods. Remember our discussion the other day? You promised to fix our attitude problem… and you really have!"
Just then, a loud crash sounded at the other end of the lair, followed by an enraged battle cry, the scrape of steel on steel, and a torrent of rude language interspersed with terms of endearment such as (sequentially): 'hothead', 'suck-up', 'maniac', 'prick', 'psycho', and 'pretty-boy'.
Donny and Mikey exchanged glances and sighed simultaneously. "Well, you've fixed some of our problem, anyway," Donny amended.
"Dude!" Mikey exclaimed, and grabbed Donny by the shoulder. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"I am SO thinking what you're thinking," Donny replied, smiling. He looked squarely at the device in Splinter's hand. "Sensei, that's a remote control for the light, isn't it?"
"Ah, yes," Splinter answered.
"Ambush?" Mikey had a mischievous grin spread all the way across his face.
Donny nodded. "Ambush."
Leo and Raph were down to one weapon each. A sword was imbedded in the wall a little above Raph's head; a sai was sticking defiantly out of the wall just behind Leo, level with his chest.
"Grr!" Raph said through clenched teeth, breathing hard.
"Had enough?" Leo taunted, breathing equally hard.
"I've had enough of being bossed around!" Raph roared, attacking.
"Too bad!" Leo said, dodging.
Sai caught blade. Blade turned- feet slid, knees bent, forearms trembled; Leo's was a two-handed grip, Raph had a hand free. A punch. Another.
Neither of them noticed when suddenly an innocent white-yellow light flickered on directly above them. But about five seconds later, the sai suddenly dropped the blade it had trapped, and Raph leaned forward, resting his head on Leo's shoulder.
"You… ok?" Leo asked slowly, panting.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm… fine," Raph answered, closing his eyes. He staggered; Leo dropped his weapon and used both hands to steady his brother.
"Hey…" Leo said, "Let's… take a knee. Ok?"
"Yeah. A time out. Good idea."
Heavily, they lowered themselves to their knees, but as if they couldn't halt their downward motion, they tumbled sideways.
Raph grunted, rolled onto his stomach, and rested his head on the ground, his eyes closed. Leo was on his side right next to him, fighting to keep his eyes open, and managed to throw his arm over Raph's shell before passing out.
A few seconds later, April, Splinter, Donny and Mikey stepped out of their hiding places.
"Aw!" April said, clasping her hands in fangirl-esque joy at the result of their 'ambush'. "That is SO adorable! You are all just too cute when you're unconscious!"
"You really think so?" Donny asked, blushing again.
"Dude, things are gonna be sweet around here from now on. Imagine! We now have the power to turn off The Angry One and Leader-nardo with the literal flick of a switch!" Mikey grinned wildly. "Raph'll be like, 'Grr, gonna kill ya Mikey!' and I'll be like 'ZAP! Think again, Raphie boy! Say hello to Mr. Sunshine!' and Leo'll be like, 'hey guys, let's have an extra training session and run five miles before breakfast!', and I'll be like, 'ZAP! Train this, bro! Take a nap!'"
Donny smiled and put a hand on his hip. "You're vulnerable too, Mikey," he said good-naturedly. "The next time you're annoying somebody, you might wind up taking a zap-nap yourself."
"A Zap-Nap!" Mikey repeated, impressed. "Hey, that's cool with me! I love that thing! I'll go sunbathing anytime, definitely!"
April laughed and then cleared her throat. "Actually, speaking of that…" She unzipped her backpack and took out a small handful of shimmery yellow fabric that was quickly revealed to be a…
"Whoa, April!" Mikey exclaimed. "Is that a bikini? An actual itty-bitty yellow bikini?"
April grinned and bit her lip and scrunched her eyes shut and nodded yes. Don's mouth fell open.
"See, summer's almost here," April was explaining. "And I'm SO pale- in the sun I just burn to a crisp- but I was reading the box, of the sun lamp, while I was helping to unpack it- and while it's mainly advertised as a way to combat depression, this particular model is special because it can ALSO be used for tanning! So I was hoping, if you wouldn't mind…"
Splinter coughed, and winked at Donny. "Miss O'Neil, my sons have been extremely depressed as of late, so I'm afraid they need the light for themselves. However, if there's space…"
Donny turned a critical eye to the circle of light on the floor. "Based on my best estimation of the light's area of influence…I'd say there's space to share," he said.
"And, we totally wouldn't mind!" Mikey added enthusiastically.
"Great! I'll go get changed!" April scurried off towards the bathroom.
Donny watched her go, practically in shock. She looked over her shoulder, smiling at him. "When I get back, you can tell me more about thermal regulation!" she said, laughing.
"Sure," Donny said, his voice almost a whisper. He looked gratefully at his sensei.
"Thank you," Donny said, not knowing what else to say.
"Yeah sensei, you're the best!" Michelangelo wrapped his father in a hug, and then bounded off towards the light. "Move over, Leo- or I'm gonna be forced to cuddle you!"
Splinter looked at his son warmly. "The four of you have brought sunshine into my life for many years now," Splinter said. "I am happy that I am finally able to return the favor."
And with a satisfied smile, the wizened ninja master hobbled off to watch television.
Donny stepped back into the light, loving the way it immediately sank into his skin. Soak it up, dude! Mikey had told him. Ah, yes. He would do exactly that, as much as he could… it was wonderful. It was perfect. It was just what they needed- what they'd been missing all their lives. Donny lay down next to Raph, and then reconsidered and scooted over, leaving room for April between himself and his sleeping brother.
After all, a little sunshine was a good thing to share.
Author's Note: (again) This was inspired by actual events and actual turtles. I was on a fishing trip recently when I observed four turtles sitting in a row on a log, basking. The one that was slightly smaller than the other three attempted to climb on top of the one that was slightly larger than the other three. The larger one attempted to dislodge the smaller one, and ended up falling off the log into the water. I laughed like crazy, and thought to myself; do the ninja turtles ever bask? This story was my answer. And, yes, you really can use a sun lamp to treat depression.
Ok, now back to torturing poor Leo in my other story. Thanks for reading!