Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Character/Pairing: Splinter, tot!Donnie
Challenge/Prompt: fffc r18.02: Blanket
Word Count: 1,106
Date Written: 20 January 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
He wakes in the middle of the night to a soft, strange sound. His muscles tense as his ears twitch, listening intently. It’s not the swishing of his master’s blade, but then his Sensei has been dead for a while. It’s also not a sound made by Horaku Saka, he reasons as his heart feels a fresh pang at the reminder of his beloved master’s murder.
He opens his eyes slowly and peers around at the murky darkness. Water drips, runs, and gurgles in various places in the sewer, but none of that is the sound that has awakened him. The sound is coming from a mouth that’s rather close to him. Looking down and around him, Splinter realizes that it’s not just one tiny mouth that’s making the sound but four. All four of the small turtles, who were tiny when he first found them, have crawled out of the bed he made for them in an old box and to his sides.
Splinter shivers in the cold but turns and collects the turtles, bringing them closer to him and underneath the one, raggedy blanket in his possession. When he first found them, he could lift two of them at a time without effort, but now he has to position one at a time. He’s grown, but so have they.
They have more than tripled in size in the last twenty four hours, and he wonders how big they will grow -- and how big he will grow. He hasn’t grown so much since the first year of his life. He wonders again about the strange, green ooze in which he found them and rather these growth spurts are due to it. There are so many questions, and so few answers, but he will find them in time.
He shivers again in the cold. There will be time enough to hunt for answers in the bright daylight tomorrow. Tonight, he just have to survive and make these four, very special, little souls survive with him. He’s still shivering as he holds them beneath the blanket. Their little heads don’t come out of their shells, but they each seem to scoot closer to him. They snuggle into his fur, and soon Splinter is asleep again.
When he wakes again, it’s to another strange sound, but this time, there is also a voice, tiny and excited. Splinter sits up immediately, barely remembering to catch the turtles before they can fall from their places on top of him. There are only three, not four, and Splinter realizes immediately that the fourth voice must belong to one of the little turtles.
Holding the other three in his arms, the old rat looks around in the darkness that is no longer quite so solid. The atmosphere seems a little lighter. At first, he thinks perhaps dawn is approaching, but then, beside the same, little turtle who is eagerly clapping his hands together while simultaneously crying out, “Radical! Radical!”, he sees a light. It’s not a very big light, but whatever is producing the light is the same instrument whose humming woke him.
Splinter moves to his knees and, carrying the other three turtles with him, approaches the instrument and the excited child beside it. The little turtle looks at him. As their eyes connect, Splinter realizes that this is the same tot who he has already caught calculating and investigating other things and who has, until tonight, not spoken a single word. There’s another who hasn’t spoken a word, one who insists on crying, and one who appears to think “pizza” is the appropriate answer to every situation.
Splinter cocks his furry head to one side as he studies the little turtle. “Donatello?” he asks.
The baby turtle claps his hands together again and squeals, “Radical!” Then he holds his hands out to the instrument and beams up at the rat.
Splinter approaches him slowly. As he comes closer, he begins to feel a heat that grows warmer with every step he takes toward him. “What have you done?” he puzzles aloud, gazing intently at the instrument.
“Radical?” Donatello asks, dropping his hands and handing them shyly behind his shell.
Sitting the other turtles carefully down between them, Splinter reaches out and tentatively touches the metal instrument. He snatches his hand back in a hurry. “It is hot!” he cries in surprise, his wiry tail whipping through the warming air behind him. His gaze shifts to the little turtle who suddenly seems shy, almost afraid. “Why,” he marvels, “you’ve made a heater!”
Shaking his head in amazement, Splinter returns to his makeshift bed and lifts his blanket. He hurries back to the turtles, spreads the blanket out beside the heater, and gathers the turtles into his arms once more.
“Radical?” Donatello asks again, peering shyly up at him. His concern is interrupted by a long, loud yawn.
Splinter beams proudly down at him. “You’ve done amazing well, Donatello,” he says, convinced, now, that that is the right name for him. He strokes his little, dome-shaped head. Donatello closes his eyes and rubs his head against his surrogate father’s furry fingers. Splinter sighs happily, nestles into his blanket beside the heater, and keeps stroking Donnie until the little turtle’s eyes drift closed and he begins to snore again like his brothers, who, despite everything, have not awakened.
Splinter gazes at him as he sleeps. “You amaze me,” he whispers honestly. This entire experience has amazed him, but nothing more so than waking to the warm, soft buzzing of the heater. He still doesn’t know how the turtle managed it, and although he’ll study the heater more closely in daylight, he doubts he’ll have any more understanding of what he has done to make it work than he does now.
One thing he does understand, though, is that his life has been changed forever. Being with these four turtles, living with them, and taking care of them is going to be the most amazing adventure he’s ever had, and it’s only just beginning! Cowabunga, whispers through his awed mind. He’d missed his Sensei and wanted love and a family again. He’s got all of that now and more, but he never would have dreamed it would happen this way. Feeling the Great Spirit working in his life, Splinter knows he has been blessed and eagerly looks forward to the next day, and a lifetime, spent with these four amazing, bright souls. He falls asleep smiling and awakes the next day the same way. After all, now that he’s got them, he’s got no reason to be sad or lonely any more.