Disclaimer: Of course, it's a no go with the ownege an' all that jazz
A/N: Well, I'm a sucker for Splinter, so...
Splinter often found afternoons to be quite pleasant.
Right after lunch, the boys had a quiet time for one hour. They were free to do whatever they wished so long as it was in silence. He hoped the exercise would accustom them to their own thoughts so when the concepts of meditation and stillness were introduced, they would not be completely foreign.
Leonardo and Donatello were lying head-to-head before the blank TV, propped on their elbows and coloring. Leonardo was slowly kicking at the air, straying a bit too far of the lines as he worked on a dancing circus elephant. Donatello, his ankles crossed and biting his tongue, was carefully filling in Spiderman's blue and red outfit. The crayons were spilled between them. Over the weeks, Splinter had been delighted to find they had worked out a system of hand gestures when searching for desired colors.
He smiled at his children, unnoticed, before leaving them to their projects. He padded around the couch and peeked over the armrest to check on Raphael. Quiet hour was harder for him, but he was getting better at waiting it out. He slowly traced his finger over cracks in the cement, his eyes drooping. Most afternoons he could be found at this post, in direct line of the clock on the kitchen wall.
At age five, he knew when the big hand was straight up again, he could search out his partner in crime. He and Michelangelo had learned to avoid each other during this time, as their interaction usually resulted in something (the coffee table, TV, or their father) being upended and time outs for both of them. But once the clock struck one, they were off again, tumbling and shouting and often dragging the other two into their wild play.
He glanced back over the living room, realizing he was one turtle short.
The youngest usually snuck in with Leonardo and Donatello when the coloring books appeared. Otherwise, he would thumb through Splinter's art book, making up stories of what the people in the paintings were doing. And every so often, the rat found him lying on the floor just grinning at the ceiling, though he could never fathom why.
Splinter peeked into the empty kitchen and frowned. Running an eye over the other three, he decided they weren't in any position to cause trouble. He went down the hall, pushed open their door, and felt the first thread of concern.
He went a little faster to check in his own silent room and all but ran to the bathroom, his eyes wild with fret. He threw himself into the bright light and a paw went to his chest in relief.
Michelangelo braced himself on the edge of the sink with his rear in the air, peering at his reflection between his knees. He gave a dangerous wobble and stepped down into the porcelain. He straightened and turned in a circle, trying to peer over his shell.
Splinter stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "Michelangelo?"
The young gaze lifted and brightened. "Quiet time's over?"
"Not yet. What are you doing?"
His smile faltered. "Nothin'."
The rat's ears flicked higher. "Are you lying to me?"
"No…" his eyes were huge with guilt.
"Yes," his chin fell to his chest. Splinter waited. "I…I can't see it…"
The rat's brow rose high, unsure just where he was about to find himself in the conversation. "What can't you see?"
"My tail!" Mikey wailed. "Why ain't mine like yours? Yours is…neat!"
Splinter glanced back over his shoulder. His tail twitched as if it were self-conscious. He turned back to his son, battling against a laugh. Plucking his child out of the sink, he sank down on the lip of the bathtub. "Michelangelo, if you were meant to have a tail like mine, you would already."
"But I want one!"
"Well, that's a wish I cannot grant," Splinter said, hugging him close. "Just as I cannot have a shell like yours."
Mikey pushed against his chest, sullenly. "The guys all have shells, it ain't special."
Splinter jerked, taken aback. He had not expected this. Yet, why not? All his sons knew about the world consisted of themselves, their father, and what they saw on television. They did not yet know just how unique they were. He gave a gentle scoff. "I assure you, Michelangelo, you never have to worry about not being special."
"But Leo's so much faster than me, and Raph can knock me down, and Donnie…" his voice trailed off, at a loss to explain just what Donatello was. He shook his head. "But I ain't nothin' like 'em, so I thought, maybe if I had a neat tail like yours…"
"Is that so?" Splinter mused. He rose and set Mikey's feet back into the sink so he facing the mirror. "What color are my eyes?"
Mikey frowned. "Black."
"And look here," he tapped the glass so his son stared at himself. "What color are yours?"
"Do you know I have never known such eyes before?" Splinter grinned at his son through the mirror. "Not in anyone I have met."
Mikey tipped his head to stare, upside-down, at his father. "Yeah?"
"Nor have I ever heard such a beautiful laugh as yours. Or seen anyone who could cartwheel so fine. And when it comes to finding coins in the tunnels, who is better than you?"
"No one!" The young face broke into a proud smile.
"You don't need a tail to make yourself any more special, do you see?"
Mikey looked at himself closely. "I'm the best?"
"One of the best I know," Splinter said gently. "And who would know better than I?"
"I'm the BEST!"
Splinter blinked at the outburst and drew back as Michelangelo launched himself from the sink, landing with feline grace. "My son?"
He was ignored as Mikey threw open the door and bolted down the hallway. "Oh, Raaaaphie! Guess what Splinter tol' me!"
Splinter lunged after him, horror jolting through his chest. "Michelangelo, wait!"
"Guess who's the best of all of us? Guess! Guess!"
Thirty seconds later, quiet time officially erupted into chaos.
* And Mikey never outgrew it…
** It feels really random looking it over again. Did you like it, though? Fingers crossed.