"Why are we coming out here, Master?" A small turtle asked as he looked into the blackness of the sewer tunnel. The tall rat smiled and looked down at his young son. He set down the oil lantern and knelt before his students.
"Because today's lesson will be about learning how to navigate in the dark," Splinter answered.
"But we won't be able to see anything. How can we tell where we're going?" seven-year-old Raphael asked.
"I thinks as our eyes adjust to the light, we'll be able to see more. Is that right, Master Splinter?" Donatello asked.
"Very good observation, Donatello. Yes, your eyes will adjust. Now, turn your faces away from the light, and close your eyes."
The four turtles did so, squeezing their eyes shut as tightly as they could. Splinter gradually turned the lamp down until the fire died down to a dark smolder. He set the lantern down by the wall and watched his students as they tried to see in the darkness.
Michaelangelo squinted as he tried to make out shapes. His imagination started to play tricks with his mind. Shadows climbed up and down the walls, strange creatures came from dark corners, wanting to get him.
Oh man, I really hate the dark he thought to himself. Then he thought he saw something scurrying around in the darkness in front of him. Mike gasped and started to slowly back up, when something suddenly touched his shoulder.
"Ahh! Don't do that!" He yelled. Mike whirled around, finding Raphael looking at him with an evil grin.
"What's the matter, Mikey? Scared of the dark?" Raphael teased. Michaelangelo scowled and pushed past him.
"Boogerhead," Michaelangelo muttered. Raphael grabbed his arm, pulling him back.
"What did you call me?" Raph whispered angrily. Mike looked into his angry little eyes, and stubbornly repeated himself.
"Boogerhead!" Mike watched his brother grow angry.
"Well, you're a scaredy-cat!" Raphael retorted.
"No I'm not!" Mike snapped. Unfortunately, their attempt to have a quiet quarrel was heard a few feet away.
"Raphael and Michaelangelo, come here," Splinter said sternly. The two young turtles looked at each other and reluctantly stood in front of their master. He stood with arms crossed, looking at them intently.
"What seems to be the problem?" He asked, one eyebrow raised.
"He's trying to scare me," Michaelangelo answered first.
"He's calling me names," Raphael said quickly. They started arguing again until Splinter raised a hand, silencing them both. He cleared his throat and frowned at them. The two turtles lowered their eyes in shame.
"Both of you are at fault in this. I want to hear no more of this name-calling and trying to scare each other. When we go inside, you will both clean up the dojo after practice, understood?" Splinter said.
"Yes, Master Splinter", his sons answered. Splinter stooped down and picked up the lamp. Lighting the wick, he turned up the light until the orange glow bathed the five figures. The turtles turned to face him, eagerly gathering around Splinter as he held the lantern up.
"Today's darkness training is over for the day. We are now going back into the dojo to continue katas", Splinter announced.
Practice eventually finished, and the rest of the evening went without incident. That night, once Splinter was gone from the door, the four young turtles got up and joined in Leonardo's lower bunk.
"So what do you wanna do?" Donatello asked quietly. They looked at each other until Raphael got a sly look on his little green face. So did Leonardo and Donatello.
"Wanna tell ghost stories?" Raphael asked excitedly.
"I don't know if this is a good idea guys, we might get into trouble," Leonardo said anxiously.
"What kind of story do you have?" Mike asked hesitantly.
"Well, I know that we aren't the only ones who live in the sewers," Raphael started, "They say that all the psychopaths and killers live in the sewers to hide from the police." His brothers gave him a fearful look.
"No way, Raph, I-I don't believe you," Mike said, trying to be brave. Slowly, Leonardo and Donatello backed away.
"They hide in the shadows and wait for people and then jump out and grab them!"
All of a sudden, Leo and Don bombarded Mike with pillows. A very well planned ambush was quickly accomplished. Michaelangelo emitted an eep of surprise, and grabbed a pillow for himself. An all out pillow fight erupted. The battle ensued for about ten minutes. All the blankets on Leo's bed were almost on the floor.
"That was a dirty trick you guys! I'm gonna get you for that," Michaelangelo said as he whapped Leonardo with his pillow. Raphael and Donatello looked at Mike, and then hit him with their pillows at the same time, knocking him off the bed. Michaelangelo landed on the floor with a loud thump.
Suddenly light flooded the room. The three young turtles on the bed and the one on the floor looked up in dismayed realization. Splinter was standing by the light switch, frowning deeply. He had heard Michaelangelo hit the floor from the living room. They knew it; they were in trouble... a Lot of trouble.
"That is enough! I want no more of this...guretsu. Get into your beds this instant," Splinter said angrily.
The turtles quickly scrambled to their beds. Leonardo swiftly fixed the blankets on his bed as Mike climbed into his, rubbing the sore spot where he had landed on the floor. Splinter looked at his four sons as they sat up in their bunk beds; their heads hung low with eyes even lower.
"Now, how did this start?" Splinter asked. Leonardo looked up and started slowly.
"We were telling ghost stories, and-"
"They were playing a trick on me!" Michaelangelo interrupted.
Splinter gave Michaelangelo a look and the little turtle hushed. He returned his attention to his oldest son. He nodded for him to continue.
"Um, we had Raphael tell a ghost story to get Mike scared so me and Don - I mean Don and I- could hit him with um ... pillows," Leonardo finished in hushed shame.
"I take it that is how the pillow fight started," Splinter said sternly, stooping down to pick up a stray pillow. Mike gasped a little. He had forgotten to pick up his pillow when he had hurried into his bed. Splinter looked down at his youngest son with one eyebrow raised, and then gave him his pillow. Mike took it slowly, eyes still low. Splinter inhaled deeply and cleared his throat. He exhaled with a sigh.
"All of you are old enough to know how to behave. I want no more of this foolishness to go on. If I hear anymore ruckus in this room tonight, you all will be punished accordingly. Do not force me to do something I do not want to do," Splinter scolded them sternly.
They all knew what he was talking about. It was rare, but if they incensed him enough, a firm spanking could or would end up being given. They knew from experience that it was not a welcomed thought. They flinched nervously in their beds.
"Yes Master Splinter," the four young turtles chorused sadly.
"All right. Goodnight, my sons," Splinter said, and turned out the light. The four young turtles lay down and went to sleep.
Michaelangelo woke up about two hours later. All the water he drank earlier was now torturing his little body. He got up and stepped into the hallway. The entire lair was cloaked in darkness.
Master Splinter must have gone to bed already. Oh, I hate the dark, Michaelangelo thought to himself. After using the restroom, he stepped back out into the hallway. He was just about to open the door to their bedroom when he heard a bump in the living room. Quietly, he sneaked into the den. It was pitch black, but Mike was still just barely able to make out shapes. He could hear water rushing through the pipes that went through the lair. Suddenly, something brushed his foot and hissed.
"Eep!" Mike squeaked and started running for the safety of his room. He was almost there when he collided with something big in the hallway. He dropped to the floor, cowering.
"Don't hurt me!" Mike whimpered fearfully. Then, he felt hands on him, lifting him. He opened his eyes slowly, finding himself looking into the face of his Sensei.
"Michaelangelo, what are you doing out here? Why are you not in bed?" Splinter chided him quietly.
"I'msorryMasterSplinterIwasjustgoingtothebathroomandIthoughtIheardsome thing-" His young son started to ramble. Splinter put a finger to his son's mouth, silencing him.
"Shizukesa ako. Now, tell me why you are out of bed at such a time," Splinter said gently.
"I got scared of the dark and the noises," Michaelangelo pouted.
"Ah, I see," Splinter said softly. His hardened face from earlier had softened greatly.
Slowly, he walked into the dark living room, holding Mike in his arms. Michaelangelo leaned his head against his father's shoulder, looking around the dark room. Mike felt safe having Splinter there with him. He started to relax a little as his Master paced slowly around the lair. Splinter softly patted the lower half of the young turtle's shell as he walked. This was a small gesture of reassurance. Then, Splinter took Michaelangelo back into the bedroom and put him into his bed. Splinter sat on the edge of the bed smiling lightly at his son.
"There is nothing here to be afraid of. The darkness can actually be one of your greatest allies. Don't let your imagination get the best of you, my son. Do you feel better now?" Splinter said kindly.
"Uh huh," Michaelangelo yawned sleepily.
"Shibireru ako," Splinter said kindly. He kissed his son's forehead gently and returned to his own room.
The next day, Splinter brought his students into the dark sewers for more darkness training. They did everything just as they did the day before. The young turtles found that they adjusted to the darkness more quickly than before. As they walked along the ledge, Leonardo walked in front with Donatello, with Raphael and Michaelangelo right behind him. Splinter kept back a yard or two to observe them. Suddenly Leonardo stopped, blocking his brothers from going on.
"What is it Leo?" Raphael asked.
"There's something blocking the way," Leonardo whispered.
His brothers squinted to see what he was talking about. Sure enough, the young turtles found a large sewer pipe. It was about four feet across and had a space between it and the ledge large enough for someone to crawl underneath. It jutted out of the side of the tunnel wall, blocking three-quarters of the ledge.
"Do not go any further, my sons. That pipe is not safe," Splinter said, calling his students back.
"Why is it not safe, Master Splinter?" Donatello asked.
"This pipe brings water into this area of sewers every night. It would be very bad if you ever fell into the water. You would have a very hard time getting back to the ledge," Splinter explained. The young turtles gave the pipe a leery look.
"Let us return to the area of the lair," Splinter instructed. As Splinter lead them back to the lair, Raphael nudged Michaelangelo with his elbow.
"What do you want?" Mike asked suspiciously. His other two brothers heard them and quietly joined the conversation.
"So Mikey, enjoyed your babying last night?" Raphael asked.
"What are you talking about?" Mike asked frowning.
"I saw Splinter walking you around the den, showing you that there was nothing scary in there," Raphael smirked evilly.
"You're a liar," Mike shot back quickly.
"What?!" Leo and Don asked simultaneously. They kept their voices low as not to attract Splinter's attention.
"Splinter was holding Mike like a BABY," Raphael teased.
"No he was not," Mike tried to defend himself. Mike's brothers giggled, despite his attempt to quiet them.
"You were acting like a baby when we got in trouble," Leo quietly agreed. Mike frowned as his brothers continued the bantering.
"I told you I'm Not A Baby!" Mike almost growled.
"Oh yeah? To prove that you're not being a baby, I dare- no, I Double Dare you to come out here and come to the pipe tonight, alone, and bring back that can that was underneath it," Raphael whispered. His brothers gasped at his proposal. If Splinter caught Mike, they knew what would happen to him, and it was not a pleasant thought.
Mike remembered the can. All of them saw it. The can wasn't crushed or tipped over. It looked as if someone just set it down there.
"You have to do it, Mikey, you got double dared. No one can back out of that," Donatello said. "Fine, if it'll make you guys stop calling me a baby, I'll do it," Mike said bravely. How am I gonna get outta this? I just hope I don't get caught after last night, He thought to himself.
"Come along, my sons, you are lagging behind," Splinter admonished them lightly.
They all returned to the lair, not mentioning another word about the Dare.
That night, Michaelangelo waited until he saw Splinter's light go out. He started to prepare for the trip to the pipe. As he put some of his gear on, Raphael sat up and looked at Mike with bleary eyes.
"You're not really gonna do it, are you?" Raphael asked with a yawn.
"Yes I am. It's the only way you'll stop calling me a baby," Mike answered, tying his facemask on.
"But you'll get in trouble! If Splinter catches you sneaking out of the lair, you're gonna get-"
"Yeah, I know Raph. But I'm still gonna do it," Michaelangelo replied.
"Good luck, Mikey," Raphael said quietly.
"Thanks," Mike said nervously. I'm really gonna need it, He thought to himself.
Carefully, Michaelangelo opened the bedroom door, and stepped out. He had to be extra careful as he passed Splinter's door. His hearing was sharper than any of the turtles. One wrong movement and Mike would get caught for sure. He slowly inched his way to the entrance to the lair, opening the door carefully so it wouldn't creak. Finally, he was out in the sewers.
Woah, I actually got out! Next stop, the pipe.
As he walked, Mike tried to remember what Splinter had told him about the dark being good, but at the same time, he remembered the stories Raphael told him. He kept his eyes toward the ground, trying not to let his imagination get the better of him. In just a matter of minutes, Michaelangelo finally reached the pipe.
Wow, I can't believe I actually did it! I won the dare! Mike thought to himself triumphantly. He saw the can, and stooped down to pick it up. Muffled in the background, he heard a rumbling noise. Mike slowly looked up. He was almost right in front of the opening of the pipe. His eyes grew wide when he saw what was coming. He jumped to get out of the water's path, but the spray still nailed him. The cold water knocked him off the ledge.
"Oh no!" Mike yelled. He grabbed onto the edge of the ledge, and clung on for dear life. There was nothing he could do but hold on and hope someone would come to his rescue.
Splinter's eyes opened and he sat up. He dreamed that Michaelangelo had sneaked out of the lair, and was now in grave danger of drowning. The disturbing sound of the rushing water had made him tense.
He stood up and decided to check on his sons. After he put his kimono on, he entered his sons' bedroom quietly. All seemed well, but then he found Michaelangelo's bed empty. Splinter looked out in the hallway to see if the bathroom light was on, but it wasn't.
"Michaelangelo, where are you? This is certainly no time to be playing games. Where are you, my son?" Splinter whispered.
"What's wrong, master Splinter?" Splinter turned to see Leonardo sitting up, looking bleary-eyed.
"Leonardo, do you know where Michaelangelo has gone?" Splinter asked worriedly. Then Splinter saw that the other two had woken up.
"Raphael, Donatello, do you have any idea where your brother has gone?" Splinter asked.
Raphael and Donatello looked at each other. Raph nodded very lightly, and Donatello's eyes grew wide.
"You mean he actually went- ouch," Before Donatello could finish, Raph quickly whacked his arm.
"Where did he go? Do not hide the truth from me, my sons. Where did Michaelangelo go?" Splinter asked his sons sternly. They sat hesitantly, until Raphael spoke up.
"He went back to the big pipe," Raphael said reluctantly. Oh man, we are gonna get it now, he thought to himself. Splinter sighed when he heard this.
"We will discuss this when I return. I am going to go look for him. Shibireru, shounen," Splinter said sternly. His sons went back to sleep, dreading the outcome of what was going to happen.
Splinter returned to his room to put on his cloak. He quickly retrieved his staff and headed out of the lair. As he walked towards the pipe, he could hear that same sound of rushing water. The rushing water...my dream. It was real.
Splinter started to run, increasing his speed as the sound intensified to a dull roar. He arrived to see Mike hanging onto the edge of the ledge while getting dumped on by the pipe. Mike happened to turn his head and saw his father standing at the far corner of the open area.
"Master Splinter! Help, I can't hold on for much longer!" He cried fearfully.
"Dokkoi, Michaelangelo!" Splinter yelled from across the junction where the two tunnels crossed.
There was a pillar in the middle of the intersection that was about three feet tall, and large enough for someone to stand on. Calculating the distance in his head, Splinter carefully backed up a few feet, ran, and pole-vaulted over the rushing water. He landed on the pillar with perfect accuracy, his long cloak flowing behind him, wrapping around as he halted. Splinter was about to jump again, but the flow of the water suddenly increased to twice its normal strength. Thankfully, Splinter saw that Michaelangelo had somehow managed to climb into the space between the pipe and the floor, but the cold water had taken its toll on him.
"I am coming, my son. Just hold on," Splinter called.
All of a sudden, the area where Splinter landed quickly started to flood. He could not get any further.
What else could go wrong? Splinter thought to himself. Suddenly, he heard voices coming from one of the tunnels.
Splinter could see two humans walking down the sewer. They were city workers.
"Shimatta," Splinter said to himself. He looked over to his son, who was noticeably losing strength due to the coldness of the water that had drenched his body for so long.
Splinter caught Michaelangelo's eyes and signaled to him to hide above the pipes. Mike nodded and scrambled tiredly up to some pipes above the larger one, hoping the two humans wouldn't see him.
Very good, Michaelangelo, Splinter thought to himself. Quickly, Splinter jumped back to another tunnel and hid while he observed the two men.
"Come on Vinny, we gots to fix the valve on the cold water pipe. Dang thing keeps on sticking. There it is, let's get to work," a middle aged man said, adjusting the straps of his suspenders.
"Got it Charlie," the taller man answered.
Splinter waited for the two humans to leave, all the while hoping his son would be all right when he'd finally get to him. Despite the darkness, Splinter could see the little turtle holding onto the pipes, frightened and trying not to cry. Splinter shook his head lightly and thought about the events of the past two days.
I know that Michaelangelo is terrified of the dark. I realized that during the first day of the darkness training. I sensed that his brothers knew as well. Most likely, he was trying to show his brothers that he could be brave. Oh Michaelangelo, your good intentions always have a way of getting you into more trouble, Splinter thought to himself. Have courage my son; you will be back in the safety of my eyes and arms soon.
About twenty minutes later, the workers finally fixed the pipe, and left. The water coming from the pipe slowed down to a continuous light flow. Once the workers were out of sight, Splinter jumped across the tunnels until he was able to get to the pipe. When he looked up, he saw his son hanging onto the smaller pipe above the main one, eyes squeezed tightly shut and shivering.
"Iza, Michaelangelo," Splinter called. Mike looked down with a look of intense fear.
He's scared of the humans...and that I will be angry with him, Splinter thought to himself. Splinter set his staff against the wall and looked back up to his frightened son. He looked in the young turtle's eyes. He could see the fear of being punished etched into Michaelangelo's little face and tears streaming down both his cheeks.
"It is all right Michaelangelo, it is safe now. Rakka ako," Splinter said gently. Mike hesitated for a brief second, but once Splinter reached out his arms for him, he slowly slid into his father's embrace, his small body shaking as he cried. Splinter held his son close, patting his shell and whispering soothing words.
"Shh, it will be all right. The humans are gone and you are safe with me," Splinter said soothingly. He could feel the small body shiver, so he took a fold of his cloak and wrapped it around him. He leaned against the wall, holding his son as he continued to shed tears.
"I'm so sorry, Master Splinter. I'll never, Ever do that again," Michaelangelo whimpered. Mike buried his face in his father's shoulder as tears stained the front of the cloak.
"Michaelangelo, why did you do something so dangerous?" Splinter asked quietly.
"Well, *sniff* the others were saying that *sniff* I was acting like *sniff* a baby. Just because I'm afraid of *sniff* the Dark," Michaelangelo sobbed," They dared me to do this to *sniff * prove myself."
"You do realize what you have done? You came all the way out here, alone, and almost got hurt," Splinter said slowly. The young turtle nodded, and then paused. His eyes grew wide as he repeated the words Splinter had said.
"I came all the way out here alone...I did it, I conquered my fear!" Mike suddenly realized. Splinter nodded. The little face that had been draped with fear now relaxed and looked up at his father with a tired but happy smile.
"Yes you did. In your hurry to show your brothers that you could succeed in this `dare', you proved to yourself that you could overcome your fear. However, there were better ways that you could have done this," Splinter smiled.
The little turtle shivered again as Splinter took up his staff in one hand while holding his son in the other. Splinter took his son home, humming a soft lullaby, putting his son to sleep, and helping him finally overcome his fear of the dark.
Foolishness, silliness guretsu Shizukesa hush
Shibireru to go to sleep Ako my child
Dokkoi! hold on! Shimatta damn it
Shounen boys Iza come (now)
Rakka come down