The one and only warning-type-thing: This story is NOT SLASH. There is nothing remotely slashy happening here. Unless you really, really want there to be, in which case I can't stop you from using your wild imagination. But seriously, it's not slash.

Characters do not belong to me. (Even though I really, really want them to.)


(Originally posted August 2009 on SS.)

Bonds of Brothers

"This sucks," Mike says.

"Shut up, Mikey," Raph growls. He attempts to indicate his own situation. "This sucks."

"Oh, yeah," Don grouses. "That's a constructive argument."

"Guys," Leo says. "Can we focus? Who can reach a knot?"

They all shift against the ropes that hold them.

"I might be able to," Don says. "Leo, if you bend backwards, are you going to fall on us?"

"Not if Raph counterbalances," Leo replies.

"Nice," Raph grumbles.

Leo starts to bend backwards, carefully, laying his weight on Don's back.

Raph pulls away from Leo's encroaching crotch, turning his face to the side. "Geeze, watch where you're puttin' that thing."

Leo sighs. "Deal with it, Raph."

"Ow," Mike complains, as Don and Leo's combined weight fold him further forward than a mutant turtle is really supposed to go.

"Almost there," Don says, stretching his fingers for the knot.

Five minutes earlier...

Splinter checks the knot at Raph's wrists, then steps back and nods.

"I am going for a walk," he announces. "I will return in one hour." He looks slowly, meaningfully, around their home, his eyes lingering on tools and action figures and unwashed dishes. "I expect this room to be clean."

And then he walks out.

A momentary silence.

"Y'know," Raph says. "Sometimes I really hate that rat."

"Someday," Leo grunts, as he stares at the ceiling and tries not to fall over, "we will appreciate this training."

"Yeah, whatever," Raph says. He concentrates on squeezing his thighs together, to hold Leo's feet, and pulling against Don's hips, to brace Leo's knees.

"Got it," Don says, and starts picking at the knots binding Mike's wrists to his ankles.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow," Mike says helpfully.

"Stop pulling," Don tells him. "You're only making it tighter."

Mike rolls his shoulders and pushes his wrists together.

Leo straightens up a little. The rope looped around his waist, around Don's shoulders, pulls Don up with him.

"Leo, stop," Don says. "I almost had it."

Leo leans back again.

"Owwww," Mike whines, at the fresh assault on his back.

Raph pokes Mike's leg with his toe. "Shut up already."

"There, I got it," Don says. The rope slips loose. Mike raises his hands above his head, and Don slides his bound wrists up Mike's arms, freeing himself from the triangle of his brother's body. "Get your feet."

Mike is already working on it.

"Can I stand up now?" Leo asks.

"Please," Don and Raph say in unison.

As soon as Mike's feet are loose, he starts working at the creative knots tying Raph's ankles to his own hips. With his hands free, it only takes a minute. He hops up from the floor, then turns, crouches, and starts picking away the knots at Don's wrists.

"See," Leo says. "This isn't so bad."

"Speak for yourself," Raph shoots back. "Mike -" He taps his fingers against Don's plastron. "I got a more important knot here."

"Give me one second," Don says. The bindings at his wrists come undone, and immediately he reaches for his waist.

"I'm comin', bro," Mike says. He scoots across the floor in a crouch, and starts working on the knots between Raph's knees, the ones around Leo and Don's ankles.

Raph moves his leg to give Mike room to work, and tugs impatiently at his wrists.

"Stop that," Don chides him. "Were you not listening two seconds ago?"

"You're takin' too long," Raph informs him.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Don says. "Do you have somewhere to be?"

"Guys, enough," Leo says. "Raph, how long has it been?"

"Twelve minutes," Raph replies.

"How much of that did we waste on complaining?" Leo asks.

"Y'mean in total, or the part where we were only complaining and not getting untied?"

"The part where we were only complaining," Leo says patiently.

"'Bout five minutes."

The knots under Mike's fingers come loose. At the same time, Don finishes unraveling his own knot, and Raph throws himself backward, grateful to have sight lines that aren't full of his older brother's anatomy.

"Hurry it up," Leo says. "Seven minutes is too long."

Mike stands up and starts on the knots at Leo's waist. "It's cool. We can clean fast."

"I mean if this were real," Leo says, as Raph comes around to work on the knots at Leo's wrists, which are bound behind his back.

Don lowers his head so Raph can get a better angle. "If this were real, we would complain less and untie knots more efficiently."

"Be serious," Leo says. He rubs his wrists together to see whether the ropes will slide off yet. They won't. "You guys would complain anyway."

"You should complain more," Raph tells him. "'S very cathartic."

"Aw, Leo never complains." Mike says. He tugs at the knot. "Damn, this one is complicated."

"Of course Leo complains," Don says. "He complains about us complaining."

"So if you didn't complain," Leo says, "the whole problem would be solved."

"Funny how the problem is always with us," Raph remarks.

"Okay, stop," Leo says, twisting away from Mike's and Raph's hands. "Donnie, can we just slide this off?"

"See?" Don says. "This is why we keep him around." He hooks his thumbs under the rope across his chest, and carefully ducks out of the loop. The rope drops to the floor as he rises from his knees, and Leo steps over it.

"Now if we can just untie your wrists..." Mike says.

Leo shakes his head. "Raph, go get a knife. Mike, Don, start picking up your toys."

"They're not toys," Mike and Don both say indignantly.

"Are we allowed to do that?" Raph says, glancing towards the kitchen. "I mean, Master Splinter locked up our weapons..."

"True," Leo says. "But if our enemy is going to be silly enough to leave us a bunch of other, un-locked-up sharp things..."

Raph grins deviously.

Forty minutes later...

The door opens.

Master Splinter enters and surveys the room.

The floor is clear, even swept. The furniture has been dusted, the pieces of rope coiled neatly and hung over a railing. The dirty dishes have been picked up and - he has high hopes - been washed and put away.

His sons are waiting for him, their weapons holstered. Leonardo gestures to the open door of the closet. "We took the liberty of picking the lock."

"How long have you been finished?" Splinter asks.

In the kitchen, the kettle begins to whistle. "Long enough for the water to boil," Leonardo replies. "Tea, Sensei?"

Splinter inclines his head. "Thank you." He moves through the doorway, to shut off the flame before the kettle boils over.

The brothers exchange high-fives.

"Well," Mike says, dusting off his hands, "next time the Shredder kidnaps us, ties us up, and orders us to clean his house, we'll be ready."

"Yeah," Raph says. "That'll probably happen."

"Oh, dear," Splinter says loudly, from inside the kitchen. "Look at all this tea, and this large box of cookies. How will I finish them by myself?"

As one, their heads swivel towards the doorway.

"Guys!" Leo says urgently. "Master Splinter is in trouble!"

"We have to help him!" Don says.

"I'll help him!" Raph declares, starting towards the door.

"No, I want to help him!" Mike exclaims, springing after Raph. "Me first!"

They jostle into the kitchen, laughing and arguing over who gets to help.

It takes them less than five minutes to rescue Splinter from his terrible predicament.

"Good job," Leo says, wiping the chocolate off his face. "Next time Bishop threatens us with cookies, we'll be ready."

"Oh, man," Raph says. "I do hope he tries somethin' like that."

"We should be threatened with cookies more often," Don agrees.

"Seriously, Sensei," Mike says. "Anytime you're having a cookie problem... I'm there."

"Don't be ridiculous," Leo tells him. "It's only by working together that we can defeat the evil cookie hordes."

The last cookie has been melting in Mike's palm. He stuffs it in his mouth. "Horde defeated," he mumbles through the crumbs.

"And training appreciated," Leo adds.

"I love a fast turn-around," Raph says.

Splinter smiles, and drinks his tea.