* We've made it to the last chapter of this little Christmas fic. I want to thank all of you for reading, and I hope that you have a wonderful holiday. Whether everything in your life is going perfectly at the moment, or whether everything is going wrong, I pray that you will find things to be grateful for this year. Thank you for celebrating this season with me, and making writing so worthwhile. (I don't own any Christmas carols, including the song found within.)
Michelangelo dropped into a cross-legged position on the plush rug, patting the floor beside him. "C'mere, little dude."
Nate squealed happily as he scampered from the kitchen to the Great Room. The toddler jumped up and down in front of the orange-masked turtle and tried hard to get both of his small arms around his neck.
"Thanks for the hug, Nate. You excited?"
"Ready to open some presents?"
Mike looked up at Rebecca. "Leo got the phone call, right? I'm not sure how much longer the kids are gonna hold out."
The curly-haired woman smiled. "Greg said we could start without them. Do you think they'd go for opening one at a time?"
Michelangelo snorted. "Have you already forgotten about Reina's and Liv's 4am raid? If Heff hadn't been awake, everything would probably have been unwrapped before the rest of us woke up."
The red-masked turtle nodded his head as he listened to their conversation, and then shot his three-year-old a look. "You can go on down there with your cousin if you want, Liv. It's almost time."
Olivia climbed off the couch with more meekness than usual and came to sit on the rug by Mike's side. He rested an arm over his niece's shell with a secretive smile, and the little girl grinned at him hopefully.
Katherine came down the hall with Reina trailing on her heels, and the woman prodded the four-year-old to go sit down too.
Reina dashed toward the orange-masked turtle. "Are we gonna open presents, Mikey?"
Mike nodded. "Real soon, kiddo."
The girl impulsively threw her hands around Nate with a tight hug. "We gonna open presents, Nate!"
Nathaniel clung to the girl's midsection as she collapsed to the floor, and Reina giggled when the little turtle fell on top of her.
Shunshi knelt in front of one of the Christmas trees, searching out the names on packages. He looked over his shoulder at Michelangelo. "Should I find presents for the kids? Are we waiting?"
"We've almost got everyone," Leonardo spoke up. "I just saw lights outside."
"Shun, don't miss behind the tree," Hisui told him. "Would you like some help? I could get down there with you."
The Asian boy grinned at her. "You can look, aneki, but your best present isn't under the tree." (big sister)
The nineteen-year-old's green eyes registered confusion. "What are you talking about, Shun?"
Shunshi got to his feet and glanced toward the door. "You are going to have to look outside."
Leonardo nodded, hardly repressing a smile. "Why don't you try opening the door?"
Hisui looked baffled as she crossed the Great Room and unlocked the front door. "I don't understand wh—" The last word caught in her throat as the door swung inward, and someone met her on the porch. "Kouhei!"
Mike had to climb to his feet to watch the pair's reunion. The normally ultra-reserved Asian girl broke down in seconds while the young man embraced her. The orange-masked turtle had only met Kouhei once before, but the then teenage boy was partially responsible for helping save Donatello's life on their eventful trip to Okinawa.
"How long are you here?" Hisui finally managed.
Kouhei cleared his throat shyly. He seemed keenly aware that many strangers were watching them, but he didn't let it ruin the moment. "My green card was expedited. It was hard not to tell, but I want it to be surprise for you. Your friends, they helped me."
Hisui sniffed as if trying to contain herself, but it wasn't working. "You can stay?"
"Yes. I can go to school in New York, and work to become a citizen."
The young woman only let go of her love in order to hug the man standing behind him. "Oh, thank you, Greg-san!"
The man patted her back. "It was a team effort, Hisui, believe me."
Luke waved at all three of them. "Come in. Welcome to our home, Kouhei, and to the family."
The young man looked around the grand space of the Great Room, taking in all of the unfamiliar faces. He was clearly nervous, but took a few steps farther into the cabin. "Thank you for having me," he told Luke.
Michelangelo drew Nate into his lap while Hisui began making a circuit around the room, taking the time to introduce Kouhei to everyone. Rebecca lowered herself to the rug beside him, resting a hand on his knee. Mike had to smile when he saw the tears in his wife's blue-green eyes.
"I don't know why some people seem to care so much about things, Mikey. The greatest presents aren't wrapped, and they don't break down after a couple of years of wear and tear."
Mike shook his head. "No. Sometimes they fall into your lap in the middle of an African rainforest."
Becky ducked her head with a laugh. "If the world judged wealth the same way that I do, we'd be considered some of the richest people on the planet. There is nothing better than this, Mike."
He leaned over to the woman and kissed her on the lips. "It's cool to have such a smart wife who's right all the time. We get to have our best presents with us year-round."
Christmas was one of those days that felt like a whirlwind to Donatello, and it was usually over much sooner than he wanted it to be. That day, however, time seemed to stand still around them, like the entire universe itself was slowing down.
The purple-masked turtle was quiet, but not because anything was bothering him. He was consumed by so many different emotions that he hadn't felt the urge to talk. Don had spent much of the day simply absorbing everything going on around him.
A completely untouched coffee mug sat on the table beside him. The cup had been sitting there for long enough that he supposed it was cold by now. Donny looked away from the mug to find Victoria gazing toward him. The auburn-haired woman had Jayden cradled against her chest, wrapped in a fuzzy white blanket. When they made eye contact, the woman came over to him.
"Here, Donny. Why don't you take Jayden, and I'll get you a refill?"
Don laughed sheepishly. "I didn't drink any of it."
"Then I'll get you some fresh brew."
He nodded gratefully and took his little boy from her. Despite there being two babies to go around, there were enough people wanting to see them that he hadn't held Jayden in a couple of hours. Donatello shifted against the back of the couch, holding the tiny bundle in one arm against his plastron.
Don fingered the light blue hat covering the baby's head, admiring the infant while he slept. Even though the twins were five days old, somehow they still didn't always feel real to him. He imagined that their incredible ordeal from that summer made the twins seem like even greater miracles than they already were. You left the solar system before you were even born, he thought wistfully, stroking Jayden's cheek. Kind of makes me wonder what else life has in store for you and your sister.
Jenna was resting on the other end of the couch, grasping Charlotte in her arms. She glanced his direction and smiled. "Finally got Jayden back, huh?"
He nodded. "Did Charlotte finish that last bottle?"
"No…she's not eating quite as much as her brother. Calley said Jayden really went through it."
Donny chuckled. "Sounds like he'll fit in with this group."
Jenna made a scoffing sound. "Was that ever in question?"
He scooted down the couch to get closer to her and smoothed his free hand over her black hair. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Tired, but happy. How could I not be?"
"It'd be pretty hard at the moment. Do you really feel up to playing?"
Jenna gave him a relaxed grin. "You bet I do. You want to go ahead and take Charlotte too? I want to make sure I'm in tune before I do this."
The purple-masked turtle accepted Charlotte into his other arm, cradling both babies close while his wife went across the room to retrieve her case from the corner. The woman had no sooner left than Michelangelo sat down on his right side, and Raphael came around the left.
"Got your hands full now, huh, Bro?" Raphael knuckled his shoulder. "Y'better get used to it."
"I think I can do that," Don said mildly.
Mike fussed with the edge of Charlotte's yellow blanket so that he could see her face better. "We're building up a nice little crew," he remarked. "Now we just gotta wait for Leo's kid to get here."
The red-masked turtle laughed. "And to think Genius thought we couldn't have kids."
Donny shrugged. "I never claimed to know everything, Raph. The mysteries of our DNA would take me more than a lifetime to unlock. I don't mind being wrong occasionally, especially where this matter is concerned."
"We don't mind you being wrong either," Raph teased. "Keeps you humble."
"Isn't that what I keep you around for?" Don retorted.
Raphael smirked. "It is one of my gifts."
"What's that? Talking out your shell?" Leo suggested, coming up behind the couch.
Michelangelo snickered. "You nailed him, Leo."
The blue-masked turtle motioned to Jenna, who was now sitting in her chair with a guitar in her lap. "Your girl is going to play for us?"
"It's tradition," Don said. "She told me that she was good for it."
Jayden stirred in his sleep, but the baby didn't wake up. Mike leaned over Donny's lap to graze the little boy's blanket. "These two are gonna be tough buggers. They lived through Zuhur just like the rest of us."
"Fortunately, they won't have to remember it," Leonardo said glibly.
Raphael rolled his eyes. "Maybe one of these days, we won't have to obsess over it anymore either."
Leo sighed. "It'll take time, Raph. Something like that…you're not going to simply forget it."
"Donny? Guys? I think I'm ready," Jenna announced.
All of the previous motion in the room changed directions as family members came back to sit down in the Great Room. Victoria set a new mug on the coffee table for Donatello, and he smiled at her.
"I'll get to it in a little bit," he assured her.
Donny fixated on the raven-haired woman as she played a couple of experimental chords. Then Jenna slowly started in on the song she'd chosen days ago, keeping the typical timing more laid back.
"God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy."
The woman's voice washed over Donatello like a gentle ocean tide, soothing and calming his spirit which had been at the point of bursting all day. It was like being wrapped in an invisible embrace that left him warm and completely content.
"From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy."
There were no words left to express how Donny felt, but it wasn't a bad thing. It was one of those moments when words would have been cheap filler. He hugged his newborn babies close and let tears fall without shame