Just a random one-shot that grew out of sheer boredom and an overactive imagination.
I don't own the turtles – sorry. Actually, I don't really wish I did, since I'm happy to leave them in Peter Laird's capable hands. This is just for entertainment, mostly mine, not profit.
Some things are determined by perspective.
For example, a quartet of young ninja turtles had for years lamented that fate had prevented them from ever forming a band. Their fingers, quick with weaponry, proved a bit too wide and thick for guitar and bass strings, too broad at the tips for keyboard or brass. And while each one of them had an uncanny sense of rhythm, not one of the turtles really had more than a passable voice – terrapins were not known for their singing abilities. When younger, the turtles had tried and failed many times to form their own "sewer band," dreams of rocking the underground firm in their heads. But even Donatello, nimble enough with delicate circuitry, could not master the fickle nature of fingerings on the one guitar they recovered from the dump in their early years. It was simply not to be.
On the other hand, one particular rat sensei was rather glad that his sons were physiologically unable to produce the sort of music they envisioned. Not only did this keep their minds firmly upon their studies of ninjitsu, rather than rushing off to practice whatever song came into their heads, but it saved him from hours of wailing rock and roll that, to his sensitive ears, would have been sheer torment. He did encourage their appreciation for music, sadly finding that the four preferred a harder, modern sound to the classical strains he appreciated. And Splinter was very pleased that all four of his sons had such impeccable timing and a good sense for cadence, as it served them well in many ways both ninja and otherwise. But he, for sure and certain, did not mourn the turtles' inconvenient situation.
Even so, it was rather pathetic to watch four little turtles emulate the bands that they so loved from the TV. Michelangelo endlessly thrust various objects at Donatello, praying that THIS stick with THESE strings might finally be the solution to building a bass guitar fashioned precisely for turtle fingers and joints. Leonardo treasured a discarded hop-on keyboard, large enough for an entire foot to strike a single key, and once it was somewhat-functional, would play atop it in secret, striving to find ways of speeding up his own performance to a level worthy of a true musician. Raphael took to singing in the shower when he felt no one could hear him, singing loudly enough that Splinter had to install padding around the space so those on the surface would not hear his crooning through the pipes. Music filled the turtles in a similar way to the exhilaration of sparring and combat, teaching their spirits to fly even in their underground world, and they desperately wanted to be a part of it.
Therefore, upon coming to the conclusion that they simply could not play the instruments or produce the vocals required to form a real band, the brothers were determined to find another way to exercise their enjoyment of music. For a long time they attempted to train to the radio, settling their katas to the beat of the top hits of the year, using lyrics and musical flourishes to embellish their moves. That ended the day that Splinter caught Michelangelo adding the Moonwalk to his defensive techniques. The youngest turtle would never live down the image of bumping into his sensei mid-step and attempting to cover his lapse in discipline with a throw on his "unsuspecting" master, thus ending up flat on his back with Splinter practically standing on his head.
So the turtles turned to chores instead, allowing their musical tastes to filter into making other forms of work more interesting. And while Raph made no secret of the fact that he felt like his brothers were acting out the cleaning scene from "Mary Poppins," he joined the others in it all. From garbage duty and dusting to the dreaded and massive undertaking that was spring cleaning, the four turtles bopped and danced and grooved their way through their tasks. And sometimes they even managed to do it without breaking something. And sometimes they didn't.
It became a well-known fact that slippery dishes, combined with a hip-hop beat, did not make good Frisbees even if they made fantastic sound-effects on impact. It was also understood that Leo was under no circumstances to be permitted to do the sweeping when any techno came on the radio, else the brothers risked losing him to an imaginary swordfight and finding themselves at the wrong end of his "weapon" in a cloud of dust. And after the third or fourth incident of salsa music combined with laundry, ending in at least one turtle swaying around with a towel piled with socks on his head like the Chiquita Banana girl's headdress, Splinter decreed that dressing up like a flamenco dancer was only permitted during free time. Also, it was established that nunchucks did not make appropriate microphones, crowd-surfing really took more than two turtles to be successful, and moshing while scrubbing the bathroom was definitely not a good idea.
And while the youngster turtles endured their punishments solemnly time and again, and humming their favorite songs until radio privileges were returned, Splinter closed himself in his room and laughed until tears streamed from his eyes.
As the turtles grew older, their enthusiasm did not slow, nor their antics, but their coordination improved. It was Michelangelo, of course, who discovered the value of break-dancing for balance and agility, who perfected the "Shell Spin" as they called it, and who therefore found alternate uses for it. One memorable April Fools' Day involved a certain blue-clad turtle, tied hand and foot, spinning across the ground with the rope-end of a mop affixed to his shell like some sort of shouting floor-cleaner. Donatello mastered the art of remix, taking every request from his brothers and transforming any musical track from their collection into club-worthy creations that kept the turtles occupied for hours. Leonardo eventually acquired a taste for the meditative music of his father, but he was just as happy to plug his own ipod into the stereo and crank the volume until its reverberations shook the very walls. Raphael went through a period where he carried a pair of drumsticks where his sai usually hung, whipping them out to beat an additional rhythm to whatever music happened to exist around him.
And through it all, Splinter withstood the noise, the chaos, the damage, and the hilarity with his usual serenity and grace, though the image of his eldest son being used to wax the floor would stay with him forever. Gaining little-to-no more appreciation for the type of music enjoyed by the turtles, their sensei did come to recognize and enjoy the things it brought out in them: energy, laughter, togetherness, and the occasional innovation. It was modern dance that helped hone the brothers' natural balance and grace, giving them exercise and toning their muscles with very different maneuvers than their usual practice. It was the near-obsession with dancing in perfect synchronization that also served to perfect the turtles' timing with each other in all other things, forging yet stronger unity between the individuals and the flawless nature of their teamwork.
But, the sensei considered as he exited his rooms one ear-splitting afternoon, there was definitely a limit to how far this love of music could go.
"What is going on here?" Splinter demanded in his authoritative voice, somehow cutting through the pounding noise that was overwhelming at least two square miles' worth of sewer.
"Oh, uh, Master Splinter," Michelangelo stuttered as the lair fell suddenly silent. "Hi there! How's it going, sensei?"
"Will someone please explain what is going on?"
"It was all Raph's idea…" Leonardo began sheepishly.
"Was not, you pain in the shell!"
"Was too!" Mikey taunted from where he crouched, reaffixing some straps that had begun to come loose.
"Donatello, you tell me," the rat sighed, turning his eyes on the one son who appeared at least somewhat chagrined.
"Well, see, we heard about that new group performing on Broadway, you know, 'Stomp,' where it's just rhythm and no instruments that made it work. So we wondered if we could do that."
"We snuck in to see a part of the show and it was rockin'!" Mikey added.
"Yeah, but the difference between us and them is that they have a sense of rhythm and we got Mikey," Raph snorted.
"Anyway, they use garbage cans like this to make the noises," Leo rushed on, lifting one leg in demonstration, the full-size can firmly strapped to his foot like a bizarre, cylindrical snowshoe.
"And we could only find six cans of quality sound that didn't reek," Don put in. "So we had to improvise for Mikey's."
"I understand thus far, my sons. But would one of you care to illuminate me as to why exactly you, Michelangelo, chose to use two stacks of what appears to be a dozen hubcaps?!"
"Um…because they came off of a bunch of old Toyota Crowns and I'm the 'Lord of the Dance?'"
The wizened rat closed his eyes slowly and turned his back on the whole scene. As he resolutely dug into his drawer for the cotton balls he kept on hand for this very purpose, he tried to ignore the resurgent sounds from the common room, praying he could get enough cotton in his ears to at least dull the migraine-inducing volume of his sons' activity.
"At times like this, I think I'd rather that instead of music they had discovered something quieter, more soothing. Perhaps pyrotechnics."
And, fittingly in its own way, above the ruckus and the eardrum-shattering crashing and the tortured squealing of hubcaps screeching against each other in some complicated and flawless rhythm, came the sounds of Mikey's voice upraised over it all.
"This is the song that doesn't end…"