This plot bunny has been nagging me. I think I've got it whipped into shape, though I might redo it later. I keep thinking I need to add or subtract something. For everyone's information, this story does not feature underage drinking. Raphael is "of age".

TMNT are not my "nomi nakamas" because they are not real. They are characters created by Eastman and Laird. Just say "No".

Nomi Nakama

PREPARATION:

1. Moisten the back of your hand below the index finger (usually by licking) and pour on the salt.

2. Lick the salt off your hand. The salt lessens the burn of the tequila.

3. Drink the tequila.

4. Quickly bite the lemon or lime wedge.

"Naw, Sensei... Like THIS!" Raphael insisted, and he once again demonstrated-- though rather unsteadily-- how to moisten the back of the hand below the index finger, pour on the salt (though most of it ended up on the floor), and how to lick off the salt (and it took him three tries to find his hand), drink the tequila, and bite the lime wedge.

Splinter, nodding in understanding, attempted again to repeat Raphael's instructions-- but with little success. He managed to take the drink, however-- as he had been doing all evening. Whatever else happened, he never spilled one drop of the liquid.

They'd been at it for some time, a birthday wish of Raphael's that Splinter had reluctantly agreed to.

"I mean seriously," he had said when the subject of what type of celebration he wanted for this momentous birthday. "I'm too old for the cake and ice cream stuff! I wanna do somethin' grownup!"

"I don't care, there is NO way I'm giving you a lap dance!" April had replied angrily, causing Raph to stare in stunned surprise, Mike and Don to stifle snorts of mirth at a joke gone well, and Leo to blush furiously while trying to figure out if Sensei had understood the exchange even as he wondered whom he should lecture later.

"C'mon, Sensei," Raphael then turned to Splinter. "Just you an' me, okay? I won't even invite Casey. Let's just you and me have some fun!"

"But your brothers--"

"They can take a hike! C'mon, Sensei! You and me don't get ta do that much stuff together-- unless it's lecturing me for losing my temper. I wanna do this! Just you and me, doin' something grownup!"

"Very well," Splinter had finally agreed. "Just you and me, my son. Doing something 'grownup'."

So April, at Splinter's request, had procured a fine bottle of tequila for the occasion. Michelangelo, seeing that there was no worm, had immediately produced a fake one (once Raph had left the kitchen to put his other presents in his room) and insisted that Splinter put it in the bottle "so's it'll be authentic. Plus, it'll freak Raphie out! I wonder if it tastes nasty."

"The worm isn't IN tequila," Don had pointed out disdainfully as he cleared up the table from the birthday dinner Splinter had insisted they all participate in before "fun time". "It's in mezcal. And it tastes like the mezcal as it's been cooked and pickled in the alcohol for a year."

Splinter, with much cold politeness, had asked Donatello just how it was that he spoke with such certain authority, whereupon the brainy turtle remembered that he had promised Leatherhead he'd come over at once and fix something important...

"I am sorry, my son," the wise rat said after dropping the lime on the floor (along with the salt shaker), "but could you demonstrate one more time? I seem to be unable to do it exactly as you instruct me. I guess I must be a slow learner."

The rat appeared so embarrassed as he spoke these last words that Raphael, normally one who might exploit such a weakness in his father, teared up at the revelation and only JUST managed to hide his sympathy.

"Sure Daddy," he gushed, leaning forward with fixed determination as he focused on the limes. "See, first.. FIRST... ya gots ta lick yer hand like THIS!"

And, grabbing Splinter's hand, he proceeded to demonstrate.

"THEN... the salt," he nodded emphatically, and the salt flew like a snowstorm. Very little seemed to end up on Splinter's hand.

"An' then ya slug it down, and bite the lime!" and the shot of tequila ended up more on Raph's chin than in his mouth, and he swallowed the lime accidentally. It lodged for a brief moment in his throat, then Splinter, with a sharp slap to his son's plastron, managed to induce Raph to cough it back up.

"Are you all right, my son?"

Raph grinned with tears in his eyes.

"You saved m' life," he slurred, adoration dripping from each drunken word. "Again! You saved m' life when I wuz an iddle widdle teeny weeny lil' baby turtle.. hic... I don' deserve such a father. I don'..."

"How did you become so skilled at this, my son?" Splinter casually asked, as he passed a napkin to Raphael, more to distract him from the emotional turn the conversation threatened to take than anything else.

"Oh, ya know... ya read stuff," Raphael, despite so many shots, was wise enough to not incriminate himself. "An' I seen it in a movie. An' 'sides, it's kinda like sake. Only without the salt and lime."

Splinter accepted this without further comment and then (cleaning his hand from when his son had licked it), proceeded to do three tequila shots in a row with no trouble.

Raphael paused in his own preparations for the next shot, admiration mixed with awe shining from his red-rimmed eyes at this suddenly successful achievement of his father's.

"I... am... the GREATES' TEACHER inna World!" he crowed, jumping up and pumping the air with both fists for all of ten seconds before toppling to the floor. Splinter got up to check on his son.

"Damn floor," Raphael grumbled, already getting to his knees. "Don needs ta fix it. It ain't safe, bein' able ta move like that! What if it tips like that when you're home alone and you break a hip or sumpin'? It ain't like yer gettin' any younger, ya know!"

"I will be sure to inform Donatello to take care of it," Splinter replied. "And I will stay out of the kitchen while you are all out of the lair."

Raph nodded fiercely as he accepted his father's help up off the floor.

"Good, 'cuz if he don't fix it, and you fall and break a hip or sumpin', I'm gonna whup his ass-- sorry, Sensei-- whup his tail personalally!"

Splinter merely smiled.

"Naw, really!" Raphael asserted sincerely, swaying on his feet as he attempted to make steady eye contact with Splinter. "I mean, lookit all that gray hair yer sportin'... not gettin' any younger... gotta be careful, ya know! Are you drinkin' enough milk? Gotta take care of them bones. Old guys like you get that ospreyoporopus and... well, not that I mean yer really old... I mean, no disrespec', Sensei, but... well, you know..."

"None taken, my son," Splinter replied, as they both sat down again at the table. "Let us have another go at it."

"Okay, Sensei, but are you sure you should be drinkin' anymore?" Raph cheerfully agreed, alcohol-fueled emotions swinging wildly once again in a 180 degree arc. His brow ridge wrinkled in concern. "I mean, yer lookin' a bit unsteady there... yer swaying in yer seat there... ha, ya STILL haven't got it! Look... FIRST, ya gots ta..."

A few shots later, and Raphael was waxing nostalgically about his earliest memories.

"... and then, when ya got sick that time," he was sniffling, tears and snot dripping down his face, "and me and Leo had that idea ta go to the store..."

Splinter merely handed another napkin to his son, who with a "thanks" noisily blew his nose-- and missed the napkin. Fortunately it wasn't the hand that he was licking the salt from.

"Anyways, like I was sayin'," he started up again, after cleaning himself up. "It's jus' so cool that you agreed ta do this tonight! I mean it! I always knew ya wasn't the tight-ass ya pretended ta be! I always knew ya was--"

"My son, let me pour you a drink," Splinter cut him off before he could say anymore.

Raphael nearly teared up again at the gesture. When Splinter had filled both shot glasses, Raphael took his and held it up (carefully), an emotional smile on his face.

"To Hamtaro Splinter... I mean Hamato Splinter... sorry, Mike distracted me earlier with that damn idea of a present," Raphael went from sentimental fuzzy feelings about his father to puzzled indignation at his crazy brother. "What made him think I'd want a buncha dvds 'bout Japanese hamsters anyway? I thanked him like ya ordered me ta do, but seriously, Sensei! I'm not a kid! I'm an adult now! When is he gonna--"

Splinter held up his own glass and clinked it to Raphael's less steady one that he still held in mid-toast.

"To you, my son. Happy Birthday."

Raphael beamed at that.

"Happy Birthday!" he responded, and managed to down the shot without spilling it. Then, wiping his mouth, he gazed at Splinter again. So many gray hairs. So many! Splinter's fur was so gray...

"All my fault," he sniffled out his thought. "All that gray fur, makin' ya look so old and frail and..."

"One shot left for the birthday turtle," Splinter interrupted and offered the bottle to his son.

Raph blinked in surprise. There was some left? They must have done like eleventy-seven shots tonight! He gazed at the bottle Splinter held before his unfocused eyes. Looked like there was three bottles left, not one! An' all three of them had that lil' plastic worm in 'em...

"I hate bugs," he slurred, trying to take the bottle and failing on the first few grabs. He'd forgotten (unsurprisingly) that he'd added the plastic worm at Mike's insistence ("so's you get the hell outta here and leave us alone!"). "But why do they gotta treat that poor lil' worm like that, stickin' it in a bottle of alcohol? It's unhuman. No, wait-- inhuman. Yeah. I always have trouble with 'un' an' 'in'."

And he took the last drink of the tequila, careful not to swallow the worm. Instead he shook it with some difficulty out of the bottle and cupped it in his hand. For a moment he contemplated the wet plastic thing, as if seeing it for the first time.

"Poor lil' worm... I'll set you free!" he said, getting out of his chair and lurching away from the kitchen, his father following along to make sure he did not leave the lair.

"Booorrrrn freeeeee... as free as the wind blows..."

Splinter was hard-pressed NOT to laugh. He was grateful that the others, especially Michelangelo, were out.

As he followed, he knew that the evening would soon be over. Eyeing his son expertly, he knew all he had to do was to get him to sit down and he'd soon be asleep.

"C'mon, Wormy," Raph was now cooing to the fake worm. "Soon you'll be roamin' the free world. Jus' stay away from them blue agave plants."

"Raphael," Splinter got his attention, even as he managed to steer him towards the couch. "Before you set the worm free, I want to speak with you."

"Sure! Anythin' for my dear old dearest daddy!" he grinned, and staggered his way to the couch, when he fell more than sat, sprawling out and absently reaching for the remote and dropping the worm.

"My son," Splinter said, seating himself in his chair, even as Raphael turned on the tv. Raph blinked in surprise at the sound of Splinter's voice.

"Huh? Oh, hi Sensei," he smiled. "Ya wanna watch some tv?"

"No," he replied, even as the telltale signs of drunken sleep began to show themselves on his son. "I just wanted ask if you have enjoyed your birthday."

Raphael sat there, appearing to be thinking about the question. He drew in a breath as if he were about to answer, then let it out as his head nodded forward, eyes closing.

Splinter smiled. Question answered.

He got up and helped his son settle into a comfortable position on the couch, fetched a blanket, and shut off the tv and lights.

The others would be home soon. And in the morning, there would be plenty of work for Splinter to do, what with keeping a hung-over Raphael from trying to kill a devilishly teasing Michelangelo as well as a lecturing Leonardo.

Plus, he needed to delve deeper into Donatello's all too familiarity with the taste of mezcal-flavored worms.

In the kitchen, Splinter cleared up the remnants of their night of doing something "grownup", then made sure what he would need to deal with Raphael's futsukayoi would be at hand for first thing in the morning.

Finished, he picked up his glass with his last shot untouched. With practiced ease he moistened his hand, applied the salt, licked it off, downed the shot with one quick motion, and bit into the lime, and chuckled to himself as he thought back over the night's activities.

"Ya do it like THIS, Sensei..." he could hear in his mind, and shook his head in amusement.

"What is that saying?" he mused aloud. "Ah yes-- 'do not try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs'."

And he went to bed.