Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

The author of this story does under no circumstances claim to own these characters.

Raphael stifled a yawn and, with a tremendous effort, got out of bed.

It was much too early in the morning for it to be early in the morning, he thought grumpily. If he'd had his way, the late-night people would rule the world and nobody would have to do anything before noon. At earliest.

Splinter, however, had made it absolutely clear that if Raphael wished to have breakfast at all before the nine o'clock morning practice, he would have to get up in time. And since Raph, after some consideration, had decided that he hated practicing on an empty stomach slightly more than he hated having to get up early, it meant he had to go with the lesser of two evils and force himself awake every morning.

It didn't mean he had to like it, though. Muttering under his breath about mornings and what he'd like to do with them, he exited his room and headed towards the kitchen area in the hope that Michelangelo had made breakfast already, so he at least wouldn't have to wait forever for the scrambled eggs or whatever.

When Raphael entered the living room, however, he saw that Michelangelo was not in the kitchen and making breakfast like he should, but sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. To make the insult complete, he had an extremely cheerful smile plastered on his face, just as if there was something about mornings that wasn't completely and utterly loathable.

"Mikey," Raph grumbled, moving over to the couch. "When's breakfast?"

"And a very good morning to you too, Raph," said Mike, nodding at him once before settling back into his original position, still with that increasingly stupid-looking smile on his face.

"What are you so happy about?" Raph demanded, the general annoyance he felt about mornings starting to fade and make room for a more specific annoyance about certain brothers who just sat around imitating those damn 'smiley' faces instead of being useful and making breakfast.

"Oh, just practicing my new hobby," said Mike.

"New hobby?" said Raph. "What new hobby?"

"I thought of it just now. I betcha nobody's ever had this as a hobby before."

"Uh-huh. And what is this great new hobby of yours," said Raph sarcastically, "and why's it keepin' you from your cooking duties?"

"It's not. I just wanted to make sure I had it right before I started doing anything else," said Mike. "See, the great thing about my new hobby is that I can do it at any time, at any place, even while I'm doing other things!"

"And what is it?" Raph snapped. Every second of this conversation was another second he had to wait for breakfast, and it was wearing on his already thin-worn patience with annoying brothers who didn't even have the common sense to not be all happy with the world this early in the morning. "Please, oh please tell me what this wondrous new hobby is!"




Raph stared. "You can't have smiling as a hobby!!"

"Sure I can. Watch." Mike sat back, and the smile on his face, if possible, grew even larger.

Raph bit back a groan. "That's not a hobby! That's... that's just lookin' stupid!"

"Nah, that's your hobby," Mike grinned. "My hobby is smiling."

"Smiling ain't a hobby!" Raph snapped, gritting his teeth. "A hobby is something ya do, for fun or whatever..."

"Yep, and I smile, for fun."

"No, look!" Raph snapped, ignoring the odd sensation that he had somehow wandered into a bad Monty Python-style sketch by mistake and was caught in the role of the straight man. "A hobby is a recreation thing, something ya do in your spare time. Smiling is just... just a facial expression! A body function! You might as well call it a hobby ta go to the bathroom, or..."

"Hey, that's not a bad idea," said Mike. "Instead of saying stuff like 'well, gotta hit the can' you could say 'I'm off to pursue my hobby for a few minutes, be right back.'"

"Mikey, that's gross!"

Mike appeared to think for a moment. "Ya know, you're right. It is gross to have that as a hobby. Better just stick to smiling."

Raph gave up. "Why do I even try to argue with you? Just start makin' breakfast already, willya? Or are ya plannin' on lettin' your family starve while you're busy with your hobby?"

"Weren't you paying attention before?" Mike smiled. "My hobby is the kind that I can pursue even while doing other things. Probably the food's gonna taste even better when it's cooked with a smile." He got up from the couch and walked in the direction of the kitchen.

"Whatever." Raph sat heavily down on the couch, closing his eyes. Why did Mike have to be so... so Mike-ish at this hour, anyway?

About half a minute later, the familiar sounds of Mike rummaging about in the kitchen reached his ears. Normally, this might have cheered Raph up at least slightly, since breakfast wouldn't be long in coming now, but today it was all ruined by the stupid, annoying smile that he knew Mike was still wearing. Even if he couldn't see it, he could feel it, radiating from the kitchen and burning into him...

He held out for half a minute more before his patience finally snapped.


"Are you trying to derive me of my hobby, Raph?" came Mike's voice from the kitchen. "I'll have you know that scientists agree that having a hobby is very emotionally healthy."


"You're just jealous because you didn't think of it first!"

Raph clutched his fists, took a deep breath and let it slowly out again. "All right," he said, in what he hoped was a calm, rational voice. "Tell ya what. You stop that stupid smilin' hobby of yours, and I promise I won't take up my favorite hobby again."

"Which is?" Mike sounded half-curious, half-skeptical.

"Thwackin' you on the head whenever you annoy me!"

There was a very brief pause. "You drive a hard bargain, Raph," said Mike. "But if I stop my hobby of smiling, you promise to stop your hobby of thwacking me?"

"Yeah, yeah, I promise," Raph grumbled.

Mike sighed. "All right. I'm stopping."

"Good. Great. Thank you." Raph rubbed his head, leaning back on the couch. Maybe he could tell Splinter he wasn't feeling well, and be excused from morning practice after he'd had breakfast, so he might get a few hours' extra sleep. It wouldn't actually be lying, he thought; an argument with Mike on an empty stomach was more than enough to give him a major headache.

Five seconds later, Mike's cheery voice sounded from the kitchen, in loud and off-key song: "Skimbleshanks, the railway cat, the cat of the railway tra-aain...!"

"Aw, no... " Raphael's hand slid down from his forehead and over his eyes, as he groaned loudly. "Mike, will you stop being so damn cheery?! "

"Oh, c'mon," Mike protested. "You just made me give up my new hobby of smiling, and now you wanna make me give up my new new hobby of musical cooking?"

"That's it," Raph muttered. "Forget breakfast, I'm goin' back to bed. If Leo or Splinter or Donny ask, I'm sick."

He rose from the couch and hurried back to his room to escape the sound of Mike's voice:

"There's a whisper down the line, at eleven thirty-nine, when the night mail's ready to depa-aart... saying Skimble, where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble, we must find him or the train can't start!"

The only thing he hated more than mornings right now was hobbies.