Just some plot bunny that has been nagging me to write. Nothing earth-shattering, just something silly. TMNT do not belong to moi. And that fact alone should make everyone sleep more soundly at night. EDIT! Since posting this, I was told it reminded one reviewer of Splinter's story (see review)-- and God help me, once I went to read it, I realized that yes, I had read that one a long time ago! And so naturally I got in touch with Splinter, and she said and I quote "lol it's no problem to me. Just put something into your intro that its similar and you had my permission and all is well in the world"-- so Splinter says it's okay. And God knows I would not want to get on her bad side as she IS a martial arts instructor and could easily kick my butt!

The Answer Dude

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah!"

"Says YOU!"

"Yes, says ME! I'm right and you're wrong-- as usual!"

"Well I say you're fulla sh--"

"Raphael!"

The two arguing turtles guiltily started at the sharp tone of their father's voice, the one in red visibly more embarrassed, while the one in blue allowed for a very brief moment a superior smirk to cross his nine-year-old face.

Splinter was tired of the arguing. Normally he would inquire about the reason, but this time he was Tired with a capital T. He had been very hard-put to find enough supplies the past few weeks. The weather was not cooperating, as it normally did this time of year-- indeed, this unexpected "heat wave" was making laying in the winter supplies very dangerous! He had nearly been discovered at least three times, and as for going to the all-night store for milk, well! It was too hot even at night to successfully pull off the disguise he had perfected all these years.

"I do not wish to know the reason behind such a hateful exchange of words," he said, tail slowly twitching back and forth. "Nor do I feel the desire to punish you, my son, for almost saying something I would take offense at."

Raph breathed out a sigh of relief; it played briefly on his mind to protest that he wasn't gonna say what Sensei THOUGHT he was gonna say-- even though he WAS gonna say it-- but he decided that the Rat did not look as if he would appreciate any such comments.

"I do not care what this dispute is about," Splinter continued. "But I wish the two of you to either find a quieter way of resolving it, or drop it all together!"

The two little turtles bowed deeply, then waited at least fifteen minutes further before the argument heated up again.

"Listen, I saw it in that magazine, Leo, and everyone knows if you put it in a magazine it's REAL!"

"Not everything is real!" Leo countered. "Remember that picture of Santa drinking the soda? That's not real, so once again you are wrong."

Raph made a face as if answering his brother was beneath him. The snorting sound he made alerted said brother to the contempt he was being held in.

"I ain't talkin' about the commercials, LeoNERDo, I'm talkin' about the actual shows."

Now it was Leo's turn to partake of disdain.

"They're called 'articles', not 'shows', shell-for-brains," he said, shaking his head as if he could not believe the stupidity that was issuing from his brother. "Honestly, why Splinter even bothers trying to teach you--"

"Watch it, Leo, or we're gonna be settlin' this the painful way!" threatened Raph, both fists at the ready. "And 'sides, I'm RIGHT!"

"No, I'm RIGHT!"

"ME!

"ME!!"

"ME triple times infinity!"

"ME triple times triple times ad infinitum!"

"ME triple times triple times ad infinity plus ONE!"

"Hey, guys!" Mike's voice cut into the growing argument like a knife through pizza. "Knock it off! You're so loud I can't hear Don think!"

Their ongoing "discussion" had led them into the kitchen, where Mike was reading from a newspaper-- yes, a NEWSPAPER!-- and Don was making notes on his "More Great and Brilliant Ideas for Inventions by Hamato Donatello" tablet.

The two, momentarily stunned into speechlessness by the sight before them, paused as their little brother with an exaggerated show of shaking out the paper, went back to reading.

"Here's one you won't get!" he crowed. " 'Dear Answer Man, Our pet rabbit keeps chewing up my toys. The other day he destroyed my first ever 'He-Man' action figure'-- man, that's too bad! Those things are classics!-- 'My sister says that if rabbits don't chew all the time, their teeth will grow so long that they won't be able to eat and they'll starve to death. Is this true, or is my sister even dumber than our rabbit?"

Then Mike peered over the top of the newspaper at Donatello, waiting expectantly.

"It's a known fact that certain animals have teeth that keep growing," Don said, eyes on his notebook. "Rabbits and some other animals, like rats, have teeth that keep growing throughout their lives. Depending on the rabbit's breed, the upper incisors can grow about five inches per year and the bottoms can grow about eight inches. But, the teeth rub against each other, so they wear down on their own."

Mike smiled despite his disappointment.

"Man, Don, that is just about what the answer man said, only he used some words I don't know, like mal-oc-clu-sion. And rats? Does that mean Splinter has to file his teeth? 'Cuz this guy says that if the rabbit has that mal-oc-clu-sion, that you have to cut their teeth every three or four weeks. HEY! Maybe that is why Splinter's been in a bad mood! He needs his teeth cut!"

"No, Splinter doesn't need to have his teeth cut," Don said, making a few notes on his tablet. "He just needs some peace and quiet."

And he pointedly looked at his other brothers.

Mike, following Don's gaze, nodded in agreement, then went back to the paper.

"Hey! Now I KNOW you won't get THIS one! 'Dear Answer Man...'"

They listened for a few more minutes as Mike tested Don's knowledge on underwater cities, dead pigeons, STDs ("It means 'sexually transmitted diseases'." "EWWWWW! And I READ it! Am I gonna get sick? I need to bleach my eyes! GROSS! I thought they weren't supposed to print nasty stuff in the papers where innocent little children can see it!"), the oldest city in the world ("There's a disagreement whether it's Byblos or Damascus." "Dang! That's what this guy said, too! Are you sure you didn't read this paper first?")-- and then Raph was struck with Inspiration!

Grabbing Leo's arm, he dragged his brother out of the kitchen and into the bathroom where they could have privacy. Leo protested the entire way, but once Raph was determined, it was hard to escape. Leo had found that out several times the hard way.

"What's the big deal?" he said, nevertheless, once Raph turned him loose so he could lock the door.

"The Answer man-- that dude Mike was reading about!" Raph said, grinning as if he had solved the World's problems with the stroke of one little idea. "We can write to this Answer dude and he can solve the problem for us!"

He stood there, waiting and waiting for Leo to praise him for his brilliant idea.

He waited a few minutes longer, his triumphant grin slowly turning into an angry grimace.

"Well? What's the problem, bro? Pissed off 'cuz I thought of a cool idea and you didn't?"

"Raph, HOW can we write a letter to a HUMAN?"

"Easy! We just write a letter, mail it, and then wait for the paper to come out."

Leo drew in a long-suffering breath, and then shook his head.

"Raph, the mailman doesn't come here," he patiently explained. "The mailboxes are out in the open where humans can see everything, and we don't have any stamps. And 'sides, I think you have to write a return address on the envelope, and even if we had one, I don't think Splinter would like us giving it out."

"Oh. Yeah, I hadn't thought of that," Raph replied, deflating visibly as his brilliant idea evaporated in the face of Leo's logic. Then his face lit up like the sun as Inspiration once again struck him harder than a bokken during training.

"We'll write DON!" he said enthusiastically! "We'll write Don a letter like this answer-guy person, and Don can answer the question just like this guy!"

Leo looked skeptical.

"Why not just ask him outright?" he inquired.

"Because Answer Guys gots to have LETTERS!" Raph replied, and though he didn't SAY "Duuuuhh!" it was strongly implied-- and Leo knew it! "Don's the smartest guy we know, even smarter than that guy in the paper! He could answer all those questions Mike was readin', so he can answer this question! And," Raph added confidently, "he's gonna side with ME!"

That tore it!

"That's TWICE you are wrong, 'cause he's gonna side with ME!" Leo immediately responded, and he quickly unlocked the door and headed off to grab pencil and paper and prepare his version of the question.

"Hey! NO fair! We're gonna write it together! You hear me, LEO?"

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In the end it was decided that each brother would prepare his own letter (after Splinter had had to break up a physical fight that resulted in much torn paper, a few broken pencils, and twenty flips each).

Then they found Don, who was sitting on the couch watching some boring old TV show about Einstein and listening to Mike whine about how they were probably missing something cool and interesting and exciting on "Spiderman and his Amazing Friends".

Simultaneously they handed to Don two envelopes, and waited expectantly.

Don, distracted from his documentary on the World's most intelligent guy in the entire universe, blinked in puzzlement.

"They're envelopes," he said finally, then tried to wrest control of the remote from Mike who had taken advantage of the distraction to switch channels just in time to see Firestar get captured by Kraven the Hunter.

"NOO! I gotta see what happens!" Mike pleaded desperately, using all his ninja skills to maintain his grip on the remote control.

"Don," Leo said, interfering in the struggle and ignoring the cry of victory from his happy little brother who was now shouting advice to Firestar about how to escape, "Me and Raph-- I mean Raph and I-- need you to answer a question. Like the guy in the paper."

And he and Raph (or is it 'Raph and he'?) proceeded to explain the dire consequences at stake, and how it had to be on paper, and the impossibility of mailing real letters to a human ("just so we can find out that I am right after all." "You mean to find out that you're WRONG after all!").

Don stared at his brothers as if they'd grown extra heads.

"Why not just ask me the question?"

"Because, it's got to be this way," Raph insisted. "You're the Answer Dude. Answer Dudes get letters. Everyone knows that."

Suddenly Leo doubted that Don was the right person for the job. After all, if everyone knows that, how come Don didn't? But before he could voice this suspicion, Don nodded in agreement.

"Okay. Mail me the letters and I'll try to answer them," he said, and, giving up on any hope of even seeing part of his show during the commercial breaks ("But THIS commercial is my favoritest!"), headed into the kitchen for a snack.

Leo and Raph blinked in confusion at each other. MAIL the letters?

Quickly they followed Don into the kitchen.

"How are we gonna..." Leo began, but Don merely smiled as he got a glass of water to go with his cookies since milk was scarce at the moment.

"You figure that out," he said, taking his snack to the table and seating himself. "But if we're gonna do this, let's really do it! Mail me the letters."

"And then you'll answer our question?"

"Well, yeah," Don said, warming to the idea. "But we gotta do this right. Mail the letter to me."

Leo scratched his head, then looked at Raph as they wandered back into the living room.

"How are we supposed to mail a letter to Don?"

Inspiration was working overtime where Raph was concerned. With a sudden "Ah-ha!" he ran to the closet, wrestled around for a few minutes looking for something, then emerged with a baseball cap, the large blue coat that Splinter occasionally wore while scavenging, and an old canvas bag.

Without even an "excuse me" he quickly grabbed Mike, dressed him up, and handed him the bag with the letters inside, all the while giving him instructions on what he was supposed to do "or else".

"What the-- but FIRESTAR is in trouble!" Mike protested.

"You're gonna be in trouble with her if you don't do this!" Raph threatened.

Mike appealed to Leo, but the oldest turtle had the remote control and a look of determination.

"Man, the things a guy has gots to do just to watch some good TV," he grumbled, and shuffled into the kitchen, where Leo and Raph heard him sing out "Special Delivery for Hamato Donatello the Answer Dude", followed by the snorting laughter of said Answer Dude.

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Leo and Raph were waiting on pins and needles as it were. Don had read their letters (they assumed; Mike wouldn't help them find out because he had missed the most exciting part of the show where Firestar used Kraven's growth energizer to defeat the Tyrannosaurus she had been forced to help transform in the first place by Kraven because Iceman and Spidey had been captured thank-you very much evil selfish brothers!), but he was taking his time answering.

"Maybe he just don't know, and is ashamed to tell us," Leo guessed. "I mean, it's been three whole hours!"

But Raph was confident.

"Nobody is smarter than Don! He's just trying to figure out how to say that I'm right without hurting your delicate feelings."

"Yeah, well I say it's taking so long because he hasn't figured out what your letter even said," Leo replied. "You have the worst handwriting in the whole world."

Truth to tell, Don was having trouble, but not the kind that Leo or Raph envisioned.

He was trying to compose a good response, but he kept laughing as he reread the two letters. It was hard to concentrate on a serious reply when he kept cracking up.

"Dear Answer Dude,

My brother insists that humans have tails on account of some picture he saw in a torn up magazine at the dump. But I saw the same magazine and none of the humans that I saw have tails. He is such a stubborn person-- humans don't have tails, right? You are so smart, I know that you will see that I am right as usual and he (meaning Raph) is wrong again.

Sincerely,

A curious (and really right) brother"

"Dear Answer Dude,

This brother that i have i'll call him 'Beo' thinks that 'cuz he is the best at certain katas as well as kissin' Sensei's i mean 'Bensei's' tail that he is so smart. You are the smartest dude I know, so I wanna ask you, Humans gots TAILS, right, only they keep 'em hidden under their clothes. i told Leo i mean 'Beo' that humans gots tails but he thinks he is way smarter 'en you, and he even said so! He said 'i'm so way smarter than the answer dude, and i'm better, too!' You aren't gonna put up with that crap, right? So just say that I am right and we can all live happily ever after. Well, except 'Beo' 'czuse he'll be pouting for being wrong!

Your bestest brot-- Fan,

'Bamato Baphial'"

Mike, drawn by the laughter, finally joined his brother at the table.

"Having trouble?"

"Yes," Don replied. "I can answer these easily, but they're just so funny!" And he passed over the two letters for Mikey to read. Mike frowned in thought as he slowly studied the letters.

"Do humans have tails? Wow, I never knew."

"They don't have tails," Don snickered as he finally began to write the appropriate response. After about fifteen minutes he passed over his answer to Mike "for proof-reading".

"Dear Gentlemen,

You are both right so to speak. Humans do not have tails. Males, however, do have genitalia. I suspect that the picture in question was of a naked human male, and what 'Bamato Baphial' saw was his--"

"YOU can't write that!" Mike exploded, blushing furiously. "Splinter will be angry at you for writing nasty stuff!"

"It's not nasty, Mike, it's just science. We have them, too, you know." He would have added "so does Splinter", but he felt that Mike was traumatized enough.

"Well, yeah, I know, but writing the words like that!" And he shuddered in revulsion, going back to the letter.

"-- I also assume that the picture 'A curious (I'm leaving out the 'and really right') brother' saw was of a naked female human, so naturally she would not have the same reproductive organs, which is why you would not have seen a 'tail' so to speak.

And I also assume that you'd better not be looking at that magazine again because 'Bensei' would not like it, and would make you each do fifty flips if he found out about it.

Sincerely, the Answer Dude"

"So all the time they was arguing about this?"

"Yeah. Funny, isn't it?"

Don took the letter back from Mike, made a copy so each brother could have his own answer, sealed them both up and went to deliver them himself (putting on, just for the heck of it, the same outfit they'd forced Mike to wear earlier).

Mike reached over and, taking paper and pencil, composed his own letter, leaving it for Don to find. Then he headed into the living room to see if he could find another showing of "Spiderman and His Amazing Friends" on one of the other channels.

"Dere Answer Dude,

Why do Raph and Leo fight alla time over stupid stuff?

Signed,

A puzzeled brother"

"Dear Puzzled Brother,

Even I, the great Answer Dude, can't answer that one. Sometimes the mysteries of the universe must remain mysteries.

Signed,

The Answer Dude"