Splinter had been reading his book when he heard hushed whispering from behind him. His ears prickled as he picked up faint whispering of Leonardo's and Raphael's voice saying, "Ask him! Ask him!"
"But guys...what if he gets mad?" Mikey whined softly.
Splinter smiled, not moving as he listened to his oldest sons making the youngest ask questions. He knew why they did this, and it had not been the first time. This has been ongoing since they were mere babies and for some reason, he could not get angry at his youngest when he asked questions.
"He won't get mad Mikey. Just say you're curious...you always asking him questions...this is just a few more...now hurry," Donatello whispered back.
"Michelangelo, is something wrong?" he called out, hearing his shuffling feet coming closer, and his small hand on his arm as he glanced at him. He saw his slight nervousness and smiled as he played with his fingers as he fidgeted.
"Daddy, why don't we have fur like you...or claws?" Mikey asked slowly, warming up to his subject, "and how come you and Raphie talk funny?"
"HEY!" Raphael cried out, before two voices shushed him. Splinter smiled as he turned back to Michelangelo, "I am different than you my son. I was born as a rat while you four were born as turtles. You know this...why do you ask?"
Michelangelo hesitated before he said, "I know...but...turtles are supposed to have claws...but we have neither...why?"
"You may have had claws when you were mere turtles but somehow the mutagen gave us all some human qualities. I believe that is what happened. I do not fully understand our change. Do you have any other questions?" Splinter said, pulling his youngest on his lap as he heard his other three shuffling behind his chair, listening in. He shook his head, hiding his smile.
"Uh huh...why do you call us by our full names? And why you and Raphie talk funny...you speak weird...but I like it," Michelangelo said, playing with the front of his robe.
Splinter smiled, "I have seen others call their children by their full names, my son, as well as by their shortened names. It is not something unusual but I will admit, I feel proud every time I say each one of your names. Some days I may be frustrated, but your names were chosen with care. I enjoy saying each one for it reminds me of the joy that I have in my life now."
"Oh..." Michelangelo said, eyes crinkled as he thought, "That's weird...so you'll never call us by nicknames?"
"Never Michelangelo," Splinter said with a smile.
"Cool...so what about how you talk? Are you ever gonna change that? I know Raphie did, he sounds different than us...and Leo sounds close to you...but Donnie sounds like Spock on Star Trek...and I sound like me!" Michelangelo said excitably, "why do we not sound alike?"
Splinter smiled, enjoying his son's exuberance as he spoke, "Well, as I grew up in Japan, I heard a language called Japanese. You know this because I have taught you the language. When I came to the United States with my Master Yoshi, I learned English. That language I grew to love was Master Yoshi's so I adopted it. I spoke it so much, I started to sound like those who grew up with it," Splinter explained, "and as I learned from Master Yoshi, your brothers and you, learned from other sources."
"But who? We only down here in the sewers..." Michelangelo said, his blue eyes wide with curiosity, "are there other people we learned from?"
Splinter smiled, "Yes my son. You have all learned from different sources. Raphael learned by listening to people speak underneath a grate. He enjoys listening to their words and copied them. He also learned many words I wish he had not."
"Is that why you say we aren't allowed to say 'fuck' or 'shit'?" Michelangelo asked innocently.
Splinter nearly laughed out loud when he heard his other son's gasp in shock, and instead said somewhat sternly, "Michelangelo, you know I dislike those words. They are vulgar and uncouth words that you do not need to speak."
"What's vulgar mean?" Michelangelo asked, confused.
Splinter sighed, "Vulgar means it is not pleasant to hear and bad to say," he explained simply.
"Oh, I'm sorry sensei..." Michelangelo said contritely before he asked, "What does...u...ucoot mean?"
Splinter managed to hide a smile at Michelangelo's attempt and his ears flickered when he heard Donatello's voice pipe up, "It's uncouth stupid."
Michelangelo's eyes instantly filled up with tears as he retorted angrily, "I'm not stupid Donnie...I'm learning!"
Splinter smiled in pride at Michelangelo's handling of the situation, "Michelangelo, was there anything else you wanted to know?"
Michelangelo looked hesitant, his eyes still wet as he stared up at Splinter warily, "Daddy...are we ever gonna be allowed to see the sun and play in the playgrounds like we see the kids on TV doing?...or even play with the other kids we see on tv?"
Splinter's heart clenched painfully at the words he dreaded and wondered how to answer. He now understood why his eldest put the youngest up to these questions. They clearly had this question for quite some time and knew it was time to finally explain to his sons why they cannot go upon the surface in reality.
"Gather my sons," he called out, nodding to his sons as the shuffled out behind the couch, looking sheepish.
"Way to go lamebrain," Raphael said irritated with Michelangelo.
"I didn't do anything. I did what you wanted...at least I got to ask my own questions!" Michelangelo said, sticking his tongue out.
"Yeah, but now you got Master Splinter making us come..." Leonardo complained, glaring at Michelangelo, "can't you do anything right?"
Michelangelo was about to speak up, his back straightening as he prepared to defend himself but Donatello joined in, "See I told you guys we should have just asked, now we're in trouble," he mumbled, "I told you he wasn't smart enough to pull it off!"
Michelangelo eyes filled once more, a sniffle leaving his nose as he curled back into my robe and I sighed in irritation at his sons, "Enough now. I know you were the ones who brought Michelangelo into asking questions you obviously wanted answered. You all may come to me to ask any questions and I shall answer."
"But you never give us a full answer sensei..." Leo responded quickly, "you always dance around them...like when I asked about where baby turtles come from...you said you'll tell me when I get older."
"Or when I asked if I can use tha weapons in the case in tha dojo...you said that 'not quite old enough' and it stinks!" Raph replied.
Donatello spoke up, eyes wide, "and when I asked about why we can do stuff with our bodies that other turtles can't do, or when I asked about how your teas make us better...you never tell the real truth."
Splinter was about to retort when Michelangelo spoke up, "So they gotted me to ask questions daddy... they say when I ask...you actually answer..."
"It's 'got to' Mikey," Donnie corrected, looking irritated, "Geez, can't you even talk right?"
Mikey flinched at the words, silent as he stared at Donnie, a hurt expression on his face.
Splinter sighed, shaking his head, "My sons...it is not that I do not give you the whole answer, it is because with some of your questions I am unsure on how to answer. I will attempt to now.
"Michelangelo, you asked me why you four are forbidden to go to the surface. The simple answer is that there are humans above who would fear who and what you are, and in that fear, would harm you. You are still young and unable to defend yourself. It is why I am teaching all four of you Ninjutsu."
Understanding flowed into his youngest eyes and he smiled at him.
Then he turned to Leonardo, "My son, you asked me about where baby turtles come from. From my understanding, they lay eggs from female turtles. They eggs hatch and within is a baby turtle. How they egg came into creation though, will have to wait until I myself learn," he explained.
Leonardo's eyes widened, "Wait, you don't really know?"
"No Leonardo, unfortunately I do not. That is something I did not learn but I will search for some material on turtles to answer your questions. Is that okay?" Splinter asked him.
"Raphael, you asked about the weapons in the dojo and it is true that I have told you are too young. The reason is the weapons are heavy and you need to build up muscle and accuracy in your training before I allow you to begin. If I do not do this first, there would be more injuries and that is what I do not wish to see," Splinter explained, looking worried, "All four of you are excited to use them but without proper practice than you would be hurt."
"Sooo, ya jist protectin' us?" Raphael asked curiously, "but we'll be careful! We won't git hurt or Nuthin!"
Splinter shook his head slowly, placing a hand on Raphael's shoulder as he spoke, "Do you remember last month while we were sparring what had happened to Leonardo and Michelangelo?"
Raphael looked puzzled for a moment before he said, "Ya mean when they hit eachother and cried like babies?"
Splinter caught himself before he rolled his eyes in exasperation and shook his head, "No Raphael. I meant their injuries."
"Ya...Leo got a bump on his head and Mikey's arm was hurt..." Raphael replied, "but tha' wasn't me!"
"I know that Raphael. What I am pointing out is that their injuries occurred when sparring with you and Donatello. They were still not as skilled as they could be," Splinter said, "and until I can judge that you four are both strong enough, but also skilled enough to start learning with your weapons."
Leonardo spoke up, "But how long do we have to wait?"
Splinter smiled, "I was waiting until you four would turn ten before I let you use your weapons for the first time. It is why I started training you in alternate wooden weapons before you would advance to the next level."
Raphael looked upset for a moment before shrugging, "Okay sensei," he said smiling.
"Donatello, if you wish to know more about herbs and how they work, I will be happy to explain it to you," Splinter said, smiling at his intelligent son, "but I fear I am unable to explain about how your bodies work in comparison to the turtles you once were. I do not have that knowledge but when I am able to find books or material, I shall show you as well."
Satisfied with answering all his sons' questions, he gently placed Michelangelo down on the ground, "I am going to start dinner my sons. Do you have any more questions?"
"Are you also our mom and our dad?" Michelangelo asked, his eyes wide.
Startled at the question, he paused for a moment, before a smile grew on his face. "A mother is one who has birthed you and cared for you until you hatched. Your natural mother loved you. In a way, I am both since I have taken care of you since you mutated but I am also your father figure."
"Oh...so does that mean we gotta call you mom to?" Michelangelo asked, a smile growing on his face.
"You can't call him mom stupid. He's a guy. Only guys are dads!" Raphael said angrily.
"Oh," Michelangelo replied, his voice small before he brightened, "Daddy...does that mean we get to have another special day to celebrate mommies and daddies?"
Four set of eager eyes glanced up at him and he smiled, shaking his head in mirth, "Very well my sons, tomorrow, we shall celebrate a Father's day."
Donatello spoke up, "Why don't we call it a Guardian day father?" he said shyly, "You guard us and take care of us..."
"That is a perfect day. My sons, please select four days on a calendar, one for each of you. And those days we shall have a Guardian Day," Splinter said smiling, "be good while I prepare dinner."
Splinter smiled as he watched all four run to the dojo where the calendar lay and knew his sons were excited about adding some holidays to their days.
Their days are so dark sometimes...I am glad to make their eyes light up...
Upon his return to the dojo to see the dates, he smiled as each day circled were dates right before the each turtle's individual birthdays.
"Why did you choose for it to be this way my sons?" Splinter asked them.
"Well...we decided each guardian day we can do a family event...because you always make our birthdays special by spending the day with us. This way, we can have fun as a family, and then have our day with you the next day. We won't get upset like that," Leo explained shyly.
"Very well my sons. Dinner is ready so please wash up!" he said with a smile. They ran off, arguing about who will use the soap first.
Shaking his head, the only thought that came to his head was, "Kids."