Still don't own 'em.

The Devil's Luck

Splinter always looked at me guiltily after he did it.

We don't know how he managed to absorb so much of Japanese language and culture while he was still, y'know, just an ordinary rat. But the point is that he did, and he passed a lot of it on to us as we were growing up.

Here's a thing about Japanese language and culture: The number four, shi, is unlucky. It's too close to the word for death.

So every time someone said four - even, sometimes, if they said it in English; the association was that strong – Master Splinter would make this gesture like he was trying to get rid of it.

And then he would give me this Look, like I didn't mean it, I'm not trying to get rid of YOU.

Because I'm shi.

The fourth brother. The unlucky one.

And sometimes - thanks, weird cultural superstitions - I wonder if it's my fault that so much bad stuff happens to us. If there'd only been three... maybe it would have been different.

(On the other hand, me being here makes the total for the whole family five, so maybe actually I'm saving us from even more bad stuff.)

(On the other other hand, maybe it's just a weird cultural superstition, and bad stuff happens to us because, y'know, we're freaky giant humanoid animals.)

It doesn't even make sense, though. Because, actually, I have really good luck. I mean, maybe I get away with a lot of stuff because I'm just so adorable and charming. But I don't think good looks and charisma count for much when you're skateboarding in a subway tunnel, and you try to jump the train, and it doesn't quite go as well as you'd hoped, and you bounce off the far side of the car and slam into the concrete wall and roll a little across the brick platform, and you lay there wondering how many bones you just broke, and then you stand up really slowly, and it feels like none, and then you get your butt home before the Universe changes its mind.

This kinda thing happens to me all the time.

I mean, it's not like I've never gotten hurt. Actually, I've broken 22 bones, which is the high score in my family, and probably gets me at least an honorable mention in the International Bone-Breaking Competition.

I've had loads of injuries. But the point is that I haven't died once.

I mean, probably not many people die more than once, but how many people have faced down serious mortal danger about a zillion times and are still around to tell you about it?

Well... at least one.

A Four.

Maybe us Fours aren't unlucky. Maybe being close to Death isn't a bad thing. Maybe it makes us the special privileged ones, who get to hang around with Death, and then go home and have dinner with our families.

Maybe we can use our specialness (and our amazing charisma, if we have it) to talk to Death, to ask him not to take our Ones and Twos and Threes.

I like that superstition better. It's a happier one, and it explains why my ichi, my ni, my san, are also still alive.

Because the Fourness isn't in me. I couldn't be a Four if I didn't have three others. We're four together, and we make each other strong, and we keep each other safe, and if Death wants to take any one of us he's going to have to fight for it.

We'll push him away, the same way Master Splinter pushes away shi.

He's waving away Death, so he can still have Four.

I know that, really.

And he doesn't have to look guilty anymore.