A/n: This small piece of fluff is a gift offering for Sneefee, based on her drawing 'Family Picture', which you can see at her devart page! (sneefee dot deviantart dot com). Thanks for all the awesome art, Snee, and thanks for being so patient for this story to finally emerge.
Oh, apologies in advance if anyone's a huge fan of the Spidey3 movie. XD
"So," said Mikey loudly, without any kind of preamble, "if your house was about to burn down, and you had to evacuate like really fast, what would you take?"
Three heads swivelled towards him and away from the television screen, where a truly awful DVD had been playing for the past half an hour. Three pairs of eyes stared.
"I don't think that's ever likely to be a problem for us, Mikey," Don noted finally, eyeing the damp-ish stone walls of their lair. "Flood? For sure. Earthquake? Well, you never know. Random explosion caused by Foot ninja? I'd have to say almost definitely. But a fire? Down here? … How can our house burn down if we don't even live in a house?"
"Shush, Don." Mikey flapped his hands at him. "You're over-technicamalising things. You always do that. Seriously, dudes. What would you take?"
"Um," said Leo slowly, struggling to keep up with his little brother's haphazard train of thought. "My swords?"
Mikey performed a massive eyeroll. "Duhhhh. They're practically moulded to your flesh, bro, I'm pretty sure they don't count."
Raph grunted. "Why are you even asking such a pointless dumbass question, anyway?" Mikey opened his mouth to answer, but Raph continued: "Oh wait. This is Mikey we're talking about."
"Heeeey. That's not very nice."
"Since when am I ever nice?"
"He's got a point, Mikey," Don said, with the air of one trying to be helpful.
"Guys! Focus here! This is a Very Important Question!"
"… I really don't think it is, somehow," Leo said with considered weight.
Raph snorted quietly. "No kidding."
"Come on, Don." Mikey wiggled all six fingers at him threateningly. "Flames are coming closer. What'll it be?"
Don tried to sink further into the couch cushions. "I don't know…"
"BZZZ! Wrong answer."
"Fine! Ugh, if it will shut you up… I would bring, uh… my external hard drive."
Mike squinted up at him from the floor, considering. "No flashy gadgets? No expensive high-tech toys?"
"Well, I'm assuming that if our house was burning down, we'd make our escape in the Battleshell, right? So at least I'd get that too."
"Hmm… fair point, I guess."
There were a few seconds of pregnant silence.
"… Soooo why the external hard drive thingy?"
Don dropped his head onto the back of the couch with a groan. "I thought that if I gave you an answer you would drop this!"
"It's a perfectly legitimate question!"
Raph flicked him on the back of the head. "Nothing about you is legitimate."
"Owwww. My feelings."
"I'd take the external hard drive," Don raised his voice over the loud whining noise, "because it contains the plans and the data for pretty much everything I've ever worked on."
Mikey blinked at him for a second. "That's kind of cheating."
"What? How is that cheating?"
"You're supposed to choose the one thing that's the most important! Not just weasel your way into getting everything!"
"Hey, you said one thing, so I chose one thing."
"Is anyone," Leo asked rather plaintively, "actually watching this movie?"
"I wish I wasn't," Raph muttered. "S'total crap. Even for a superhero movie."
"Yeah, but you gotta see a trilogy to the end! It's, like, the law!"
They all watched as Peter Parker combed his hair forward into an emo-fringe.
"… This is painful."
"Hey Leo, what about you? And don't say your swords."
"What would I take in an emergency? Oh, I don't know… there's nothing I couldn't really live without. Maybe some of my old books." He stretched his legs out in front of him. "You seem to have given this a lot of thought – what's your answer?"
"The comics. Natch. All of them if I could carry 'em, but if not, then just the rare ones. No way I'd lose my babies!"
Donatello snorted a mouthful of coffee at some particularly ludicrous action of Spiderman's and, deciding that any amount of inanity had to be better than this, turned away from the screen and tuned back in to the conversation. "I think my hard drive is still winning in terms of prized possessions, here. What about Raph?"
Three curious faces tilted towards Raphael's end of the couch. He crossed his arms over his plastron.
"No way. I ain't playing this stupid game."
They all knew a challenge when they saw one.
"C'moooon, Raph! Spit it out! … If you tell us, Leo will buy you a case of beer."
"Um. Do I get a say in this?"
"Ah. I didn't think so. Carry on, then." Leo waved a hand indulgently. Mikey beamed.
Raphael felt caught in a rising tide of desperation (and if Spiderman made one more breath-takingly idiotic decision then he swore to god he was going to put a sai through the TV screen). Maybe be could make a break for the bathroom? No, he was pinned down by the gaze of watchful brothers on all sides.
"Maybe he doesn't wanna tell cause it's something embarrassing! Is it your collection of dirty magazines, Raphie-boy?"
"Oh, fer cryin' out – " he broke off, fuming. "Fine! If the house was burning down, I'd take… uh… that!" He flung an arm out mostly at random, pointing at the pile of paper and junk that had accumulated on the floor beside their DVD cabinet. If he just picked something, then maybe the annoying little pest would leave him alone, right?
"What?" Mikey scooched over there on his knees. "This?" He poked at the pile doubtfully, dislodging a swirl of loose paper and thick grey dust, which revealed something large, pale gold, and rectangular. Mike picked it up, blew away the remaining layer of dust, coughed and spluttered a bit, and then brought it back to the couch.
"Hey!" Don took it from his hands eagerly, his eyes lighting up. "It's the old photo album. God, I haven't looked at this in years."
"A photo album, Raph?" Leo sounded amused. "Isn't that a little sentimental for you?"
"Shuddup," Raph ground out. "Anyway, that's what people always say they'd pack in an emergency, right? Dunno why… it's bad enough having to see Mikey's mug in the flesh every day, let alone pictures of it."
Don ignored the slight scuffle that ensued from that comment, resting the album on his knees and creaking open the front cover. "Ah, my early photographic efforts. How the years have flown…"
Raph stuck stubbornly to his end of the couch, while Mikey squashed up close to Don's legs and Leo came over to sit on the arm of the couch, peering over Don's shoulder. Don leaned around him to tug on the cord for the reading lamp.
"Aww, look how tiny and cute we were!" Mikey cooed. "Of course, some of us are still cute…"
"Raph was grumpy even back then, though." Don pointed at a picture of an eleven-year-old Raph and Mikey sitting together on their bed. Mikey had his hands clasped angelically and his lips puckered as if he was blowing kisses to the camera, while Raph's mouth was half-open in a snarl and his glare suggested that he was trying to burn a whole straight through the lens with nothing but the power of his gaze.
"I remember that one," Leo chuckled. "I had to rescue Donnie afterwards, I think."
"Yeah," grunted Raph, "well that's what ya get when ya try ta take photos of me unawares."
Mike turned the page impatiently. "Oh, the camera loves me…"
"I take it these were some of your early efforts?" Leo pointed at a couple of blurry, crooked photos that seemed to show various turtle body parts, half covered by a blob of very dark green to one side which was probably where Mikey's finger had been blocking the lens.
"They're some of my more experimental works."
"Uh huh. Raph, seriously, come look at these!"
Raphael heaved a long-suffering sigh and shifted himself towards Don's end of the couch. "Brilliant," he muttered.
And in some ways, they were. There is something peculiar about old family photos and the hold that they have over the future. Even Raphael was drawn to them, gradually, reluctantly, until the television cast its forgotten glow over four completely absorbed brothers. (Spiderman vanquished evil, and no one even noticed). There was Mikey on his first skateboard. Leo and Raph, in a rare quiet moment, their heads bent together over a board game. A portrait of Master Splinter reading. An un-posed shot of the four of them in their early teens, half-asleep around the breakfast table, which their sensei must have used his ninja stealth to capture. Don and Mikey on their first computer. Page after page of moments that they thought they'd mostly forgotten.
Just as they were losing steam, they found one final photo, loose, slipped inside the back cover. Don pulled it out and held it up with almost reverent fingers, and they all stared. It was one of Don's early attempts at reverse shooting, with a camera that he had put together himself. They had all squeezed into the frame. Don had his arms outstretched, tongue sticking out in concentration as he lined up the shot. Mikey was playing up to the camera as usual, winking and holding up two fingers in a V behind Don's head. Leo was relaxed and actually smiling, a rare expression on his face even then, and Raph had draped himself over Mikey and Leo's shoulders, looking perfectly content. In the space just below the photo, Mikey had convinced them all to sign their names. ("In case we all become famous some day, so we can sell it for like a bazillion dollars!")
It was one of the only photos they had that showed the four of them all together and all happy.
"Raph?" said Leo quietly, "I think you made a good choice."
Raph growled out something like "Bah!" which everyone (including Raph) knew that he didn't really mean.
Mikey gave a contented yawn, and after a while Don said, "Is anybody going to turn that thing off?"
The rest of them looked at the TV screen in surprise, where the opening music for the DVD menu began playing on its fifty-third repeat.
"Stupid movie," Raph muttered without much poison, and hit the stop button on the remote.
"Can you even remember how it ended?" asked Don.
"… Nope. Not really."
"Oh, good, it's not just me. Note to self: never let Mikey pick the flick for movie night ever again."
Everyone knew that would be forgotten by the time they got around to the next movie night, too.
"Okay." Leo stretched his arms out. "Bed. We've got training in the morning."
"Mommy, will you tuck me in?"
"Geez, moron," Raph began dragging Mikey towards the stairs by the lip of his shell, "don't encourage the guy."
"'Night, Leo," Don mumbled out, and he too disappeared upstairs.
In the fresh quiet of the living room, Leo methodically switched off the power on the screen, DVD player and speaker system. He removed the last photo, then closed the old album and put it back in its place on top of the pile of papers.
Raph stuck his head back over the edge of the second-level balcony. "Yo Leo, you goin' to bed or what?"
"Yeah, I'm going."
Raph's head nodded and disappeared.
Leo looked at the photo in his hand one last time and smiled; tomorrow he'd try and find a nice frame for it. He reached over to click off the reading lamp, and followed his brothers upstairs.