Turtle-tots, turtle-tots everywhere.

The boys are around 6 y/o in this one-shot. All TMNT 2k3 verse. NO NICK ALLOWED HERE.

Enjoy.


Life in the sewers isn't easy.

For starters, it's unsanitary; no one in their best judgment would even consider go down there let alone make it their home. The sewers are definitely not exactly the perfect place for a father to raise four children and yet five living beings, five outcasts of society had no other choice but spend the rest of their lives hidden bellow the city, breathing toxic fumes and surrounded by waste.

Food doesn't grow from the moldy sewer walls either, that only leaves trash cans as the only option.

But that wasn't entirely true for Splinter.

Even with his limited knowledge about children, he was very aware that his babies needed to be fed with the best of the best; it was bad enough they had to live in a sewer. He would never allow them to fill their delicate stomachs with expired canned tuna, rotten fruits or some poisoned cheese, even worse.

And so he stole.

Small grocery stores, unguarded shopping markets… he stole from any place that had good food and a certain lack of security.

Good nourishment and constant cares guarantied the ninja master his sons would grow strong and immune to any virus of bacteria roaming around in the sewers without needing any medicine.

However, there were times when not even the good attentions could protect his little turtles from catching a very bad cold.

Some may think a cold is not much of a great deal but when you live in the sewers even a simply scraped knee could mean the beginning of a horrible and painful end.

"Dad, no…" A feverish little Raph protested weakly, trying to avoid the spoon his father held. "… no more, please"

"You must eat, Raphael. It will help you recover your strength" Splinter replied.

"But I'm not hungry anymore. I wanna sleep, please!" Raph whined.

Splinter wasn't one to give up so easily but this time, he did. "Alright, little one"

Putting the rest of the chicken soup aside, he proceeded then to check up the sick turtle's temperature; it was still too high to his liking. Splinter knew it was time to go outside once again and hope he would successfully retrieve the medicine his son needed.

With a thick comforter, the ninja master covered up Raphael and gently caressed his warm and sweaty forehead before leaving. Just as Splinter closed the door behind him, a tug on his robes had him looking down at a smiling Michelangelo.

"Daddy, lookie what I drew for Raphie!" Said the freckled turtle holding a picture of his red-masked brother and himself playing with toy cars.

Splinter smiled; this was the tenth picture of the day since he told his hyperactive son that his drawings could help enlighten Raph's mood. Now it seemed Michelangelo had taken this too seriously.

"It is a very good picture, my son. Why don't you put it in your desk so you can show it to your brother tomorrow morning?"

"But daddy, I wanna show him the picture now!" Mikey pouted.

"Michelangelo, Raphael is sleeping right now; he needs to rest and so do you. It is very late" Splinter replied.

"I'm not sleepy yet, daddy" The little turtle said stifling a yawn.

"We want to see him too, dad" Another voice came from behind Splinter.

He turned around to see his blue and purple-clad little ninjas looking at him with hope in their eyes; it was certainly a look that could melt the coldest heart but Splinter resisted.

"Perhaps tomorrow. Your brother's illness has made him very weak and he must sleep if he is to get better. You may see him after breakfast, do you understand?"

The three little turtles sighed in defeat. "Yes, Master Splinter"

"And now, my young ninjas, it is bedtime. But do not forget to wash your teeth before you go to sleep"

"Can you read me a story, daddy?" Mikey asked tugging at Splinter's robes again.

"It will have to be for a next time, my son" Splinter said, patting Mikey's head. "Right now I must fetch some medicine for Raphael"

"I can read you something if you want, Mikey" Don suggested. The blue eyed turtle's face lightened again and followed his brother to their room.

"Leonardo, perhaps you should sleep with your brothers tonight. I will return soon"

With that said, Splinter went downstairs, disguised himself with some extra clothes and left his sons alone under the watchful eyes of Master Yoshi's spirit.

The minutes felt like hours; maybe it had been the bed time story or the cold water in his face after washing his teeth but whatever the real reason was, Michelangelo didn't seem to fall asleep.

He rolled in his bed from side to side trying to close his eyes but nothing. Finally, he decided that if he wasn't going to sleep anytime soon, he might as well have some company.

"Donnie?" Mikey whispered.

"Yeah?" Don's voice came from the top bed.

"Are you asleep?"

Don's head peeked from below. "What's it look like"

"I can't sleep" Mikey sighed.

"Me neither"

"That would make three of us"

Don and Mikey turned their attention to the extra bed; Leonardo was sitting on his bed and hugging his teddy bear tightly against his little chest. More coughing sounds came from Raph's room making the little turtles cringe.

"Man, it sucks to be down here" Mikey lamented. "Raphie wouldn't be so sick if we could just take him to a hospital"

"But you know what Father says: humans are dangerous; they could hurt us just for being who we are" Don quoted.

"Say, why don't we go visit him?" Leo said.

"Sensei said he's sleeping" Don replied.

"We'll be quiet; we're ninja after all" The blue-clad turtle replied back, jumping off his bed.

"Actually, we're not ninjas yet. It takes years of training and studying and-"

"-yeah yeah, we get it already" Mikey interrupted the little genius. "Let's go see Raphie!"

Walking as stealthy as they could, the little turtles finally made it to his red-clad brother's room.

"There he is" Leo whispered after opening the door.

"He looks so… frail" Don commented sadly, approaching Raph's bed.

"Poor Raphie" Mikey said, his voice shaking. "I don't like seeing him like this"

The sick turtle's dreams were perturbed by the muffled voices which caused him to wake up just to find himself surrounded by his brothers, all of them wearing a mask of sadness Raphael didn't like to see.

"Guys? What are you doing here?" Raph asked with a raspy voice.

"We wanted to see how you were doing" Mikey answered, giving his brother a sad smile.

"Everything hurts… m'too hot and… and…" Raph's coughing fit came back and stronger than ever.

"Sssshh, don't talk" Leo said, gently patting his brother's back. "Mikey, get him a glass of water. Donnie, fill a bowl with water and also bring a clean cloth; he's running a fever"

Both turtles ran as fast they could to get the items Leo required while the latter tried his best to not panic and say encouraging words to the sick turtle beside him.

"Hang in there, buddy. You're the strongest turtle I've ever seen; you'll pull through this" He whispered to Raph.

Soon enough, Mikey was back with the glass of water. "Here you go, Raphie. Drink slowly" He said helping his brother to swallow the refreshing liquid without choking.

"I got the things you asked for, Leo!" Don announced his entrance.

"Good, now get the cloth wet then put in gently on Raph's forehead" Leo ordered and the little genius did as he was told.

"What's taking dad so long?" Don couldn't help but ask.

"Maybe the stores with all the medicine are closed" Mikey said.

"Those are called pharmacies, Mikey" Don corrected. "And I doubt all of them are closed; I read that there are some that stay open the whole day and night"

"Don't they ever get tired?" Mikey asked, making conversation.

"Guys, quiet down. Raph's asleep" Leo said pointing at the now slumbering turtle.

"Leo, do you think he'll make it?" Don asked after a moment of silence.

"You should know that, Donnie. You're the genius of the family"

"I know Raph is tough and he doesn't get sick so easily but now, seeing him like this…" Don couldn't finish that phrase; it was just too hard.

"Don't lose hope, guys. Raph will be alright" Leo said reassuringly.

"I hope so" Mikey said yawning. "Bros, is it just me or my eyes are like… closing?"

"Mine are closing too" Don yawned as well.

"We should sleep here to keep Raphie company" Leo suggested.

"Don't need to tell me twice" Mikey chuckled while resting his head beside Raph's right arm. Don did the same just inches below Raph's right foot.

It didn't take them too long to fall asleep but there was one turtle that still had some energy left to wait for their father's return. As hours passed by, the blue-clad little ninja found it very hard to keep his eyes open; his eyelids weighted a ton now and he was yawning more until sleep claimed him.

Sadly that wouldn't last long.

"Leo… Leo, wake up!"

A scared voice woke Leonardo up. He rubbed his eyes trying to get rid of the cloudiness but still, he could distinguish the sickly dark green figure at his left.

"Leo, please wake up!" Raph insisted more desperately. This worried Leonardo greatly.

"What is it?" He asked now more awake than before.

"There's someone here" Raph whispered, his hands shaking under the covers.

Leonardo looked around but couldn't see anyone or anything. Just two sleepy turtles, an olive skinned one sleeping soundly and a sea green skinned one drooling on Raph's favorite blankie.

"Where?"

"Over there, can't you see him?" Raph said pointing at a dark corner in the room, far from any light.

Leo glanced at the spot in confusion. "Raph, I don't-"

"-he says he'll take me away" Raph continued. "Leo, please. Tell him to leave! Go get dad!"

The young soon-to-be leader finally glanced at his brother's direction and what he saw scared him and surprised him; Raph's eyes were barely opened, he was sweating more, his cheeks were flushed because of the fever and he clearly heard painful moaning coming out of Raph's mouth.

Leo thought perhaps his brother was hallucinating because of the fever; he had seen it before when Mikey had a fever last winter but this sounded more like simple hallucinations.

Could Raphael have just seen… Death?

Yes, he knew who Death was. They all knew. Splinter had taught them that in a very subtle way but Leonardo and Donatello had explored further and they knew exactly that during their lives as ninjas, they would have Death as both an ally and an enemy.

This time, Death was the enemy trying to take Raphael. But what was a little turtle to do against such powerful enemy?

"It's dark… so dark…!" Raph moaned. "It's pulling me!"

Suddenly, Leo's eyes landed on Raph's shaky left hand. Perhaps there was something he could do after all.

"Hold my hand" He ordered.

Raph looked at his eldest brother in puzzlement and fear. "W-what…?"

"Hold my hand, now!" Leo repeated more firmly.

Raph slowly grabbed his brother's hand and held onto it for his dear life with such force he had probably crushed some bones.

"Don't let go, Raph. You have to promise you won't let go"

Raph nodded tiredly. "And you? You won't let him get me, right? You won't let go… right?"

Leonardo leaned in, smile on his face, and kissed his little brother's sweaty forehead. "I'll never let go, Raphie. I promise"

As if on cue, Raphael stopped trashing and trembling; his breathing slowed down and his eyes closed. He still had a pained expression on his face but one could clearly see it was because of his high temperature. Leo sighed in relief but his face wore a frown of worry; he didn't know if… whatever the heck had tried to get Raph… would come back, thus he had to stay awake for his brother's sake.

And so he waited and waited until, again, sleep defeated him.

Later that same night, Splinter smiled fondly at the scene before his eyes. His four little ninja sleeping together; two of them at Raphael's right while the eldest of them rested at his left, holding his hand.

THE END


TmntLizzie, I hope you read this because I'm not going to repeat it again. Thanks for reading and for your reviews but:

1-If I decide to write brofluff, I'll do it on my own terms and with the frequency I decide. Thank you very much.

2-If you don't like death fics, cursing or adult themes… you can just walk away and read other stories from equally talented writers here on FFNet.

3-True, I like suggestions from my readers and other writers but I DO NOT work with other people's OCs especially if they are annoyingly Mary Sue-ish.

4-I am NEVER changing my writing style just the ease your mind/heart/whatever.

And that goes for EVERYONE.

My stories.

My rules.

My turtle world. (2k3-2k7)

Take it or leave it; either way I won't be offended. Except if you start to insult me, then we have a problem.

Understood? Yes? Good.

Read and Review.

Ps: ... I might write a second part. If you ask me to, of course.