Chapter Thirteen

Michelangelo gasped. "You sunk my battleship!" he exclaimed.

Shaking his head, Leonardo chuckled. "Dude, I always sink your battleships! Why do you want to keep playing this game when I always win?"

Michelangelo shrugged and shoved half a slice of chocolate and zuchini pizza into his mouth.

The two sat across from one another in the two cushiest chairs in the common room. Leonardo leaned back in his seat and glanced at the closet. "Let's play something else. What else do we got?"

"I don't know," Michelangelo replied. "Raphael!" he called over his shoulder.

"Busy!"

"Ra-aph!" the little brother whined. "Leo and I are done with Battleship and want to know what other fine Milton Bradley game we have in our arsenal."

Raphael stormed out of the kitchen and into the common room. "You know, Mikey, some of us have to work around here! Donny and I may not have had to deal with your conceptual art or your special sauce all month, but cleaning the lair is still a pain in the ass!"

Michelangelo sighed. "Damn, I miss my special sauce. I haven't been able to make it in weeks."

"And what's wrong with the pizzas I've been making you?"

Michelangelo winced. "You're too heavy on the oregano, dude."

"Wow. I feel so appreciated."

"Raph, your pizza is fantastic!" Leonardo praised. "Can we have another one?"

Raphael crossed his arms. "Do you guys want me to make pizza, or do you want me to get you another game?"

Leonardo and Michelangelo looked at one another and shrugged. "Yes," they replied together.

Raphael retrieved Aggravation from the closet and threw it into Michelangelo's lap. "Here you go, princess!" he muttered before disappearing into the kitchen.

Leonardo and Michelangelo closed their Battleship boards and dropped them on the floor beside their chairs. Michelangelo opened the box for Aggravation and sighed. "Oh, yeah. We're missing half the marbles. I forgot about that." He sighed and pushed the game onto the table.

Leonardo shrugged. Leaning back in his chair, he asked, "How's your head feeling?"

"It's all right," Michelangelo replied. He slid Aggravation around the table with the tip of his finger. "Lately, I've only had headaches when going to bed."

Leonardo grimaced. "I'm really sorry, Mike."

"Dude, when are you going to stop apologizing?" Michelangelo shook his head.

Raising a hand to his youngest brother, Leonardo exclaimed, "Well, it's my fault you got hurt in the first place!"

"You didn't smack me upside the head with a manhole cover!" Michelangelo argued, and Leonardo winced. "Dude, all you did was tried to give a lady a second chance! You can't be faulted for that! How were you supposed to know that it was like neko ni koban?"

Leonardo smiled. "Wow, Mike! You've been practicing your Japanese!"

"Yeah, Donny lent me the same Japanese primer that you were reading before," he replied. "I'm a hell of a lot smarter since I got hit in the head." Michelangelo's smile faded. "Seriously, Leo, you have to stop blaming yourself. I sure as shell don't."

THUD!

A string of profanity poured out the kitchen in Raphael's voice.

"Raph's still working on the kitchen?" Donatello asked as he approached with a folding chair. He put it down between Michelangelo and Leonardo and pulled up to the table. "He still has to clean the bathrooms!"

"Dude, you're already done?" Michelangelo squacked.

Donatello grinned. "Of course!" Rubbing his hands together, he asked, "So what are we playing?"

"Nothing," Leonardo replied. Gesturing to the box on the table, he said, "Aggravation is missing pieces."

Donatello peeked into the box. "You mean somebody's lost their marbles?"

Michelangelo snickered.

Bouncing out of his seat, Donatello picked up the game. "Let's play Trivial Pursuit," he suggested as he headed for the closet.

Leonardo shook his head. "That's boring! You always win!"

"Didn't you just win forty plus games in a row of Battleship?" Donatello asked.

"Yeah, and it was boring."

Donatello rummaged in the closet. "How about telling me what isn't boring?"

"Pretty Pretty Princess!" Michelangelo exclaimed.

Donatello and Leonardo stared at him.

"I can't even believe we own that game," Donatello shook his head.

"I can," Leonardo replied. "Mikey bought it."

"Oh, come on, guys! It's wicked funny!"

Donatello shrugged and pulled the game out of the closet.

Several minutes later, Raphael emerged from the kitchen. He had a pizza in his hands and a scowl on his face. He was halfway into the common room when he stopped dead in his tracks.

"Yes!" Donatello exclaimed. He snatched a purple plastic crown from the middle of the table and planted it on his head. "I win! I'm the pretty pretty princess!"

"Yes you are, honey!" Michelangelo exclaimed. A pink bracelet dangled from his wrist as he reached over and pinched his brother's cheek.

"Are you girls ready for some pizza?" Raphael asked in a high, squeaky voice.

The three at the table jumped. They quickly pulled off their plastic princess jewelry and threw it in the box. Donatello closed the lid and stuffed the game under his seat. Meanwhile, Raphael pulled up a chair and put the pizza on the table. The four each grabbed a slice and chowed down.

"Guys, it's pretty sad you've resorted to playing dress-up," Raphael commented between bites. "I don't need my brothers turning into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Princesses. We really need to get back on patrol!"

Splinter entered the room. "I believe I smell sushi pizza," he smiled. "My favorite!" After pulling over another chair, he sat. He raised a slice and nibbled it. A smile swept over his face. "Yes, very good. Thank you, Raphael!"

"Good enough so I get out of cleaning the bathroom?"

"No."

Raphael sighed and slumped in his chair.

"Sensei?" Leonardo asked, setting down his pizza. "When will we be ready to return to our patrol again?"

"Soon, my son," Splinter replied. He took another bite. The turtles sat in silence as he chewed and swallowed it. Their sensei continued. "You four grow restless, but realize that you also grow strong. Ame futte chi katamaru."

"After the rain, earth hardens," Michelangelo translated.

Closing his eyes, Spinter nodded. He finished his slice of pizza and reached into the pocket of his kimono. "Now, who would like to see polaroid pictures of my sons, the pretty ninja princesses?"

THE END