I awoke late one cold, snowy, December morning Christmas morning and stared up at the ceiling. I felt TurtleNinja stir next to me and knew that she could sense that I was awake. I felt her drape an arm over my plastron and felt her kiss my neck.
"Morning." she said, her voice muffled because her face was buried in my neck.
I nuzzled her gently and felt her rest her head on my shoulder. A second later, Michaelangelo burst through the door, a big grin on his face.
"Ready to get the tree?" he asked.
TN giggled and buried her face in my shoulder as she tugged the purple comforter up over our heads. Mike pulled it back and I had half pulled myself into my shell.
He tugged on my arm and I reluctantly got up. TN rolled onto her shell, giggling.
"Okay, okay." I said.
Mike grinned and ran to wake Leo and Venus. Venus chased him out of the room a few seconds later. I saw him turn and blow her a raspberry. Venus giggled and pretended to be mad, but she couldn't stay mad for long. Not at Mikey. He had gone to wake Raphael, but Raph shoved him out, slamming the bedroom door. Poor Raph hadn't been the same since his divorce. It had been messy and Raph had always been grumpier than usual since then. Mike was disappointed, but didn't give up. He headed back into Raphael's room and I heard Raph grumble a bit, then decide to be a bit more cheery for Mike's sake. Splinter was already awake and had hurried back upstairs to see what the commotion was. Venus was leaning on the doorway, a smile on her face. Leonardo stepped up behind her and slipped his arms around her in a hug. For as long as any of us could remember, Mike had always been carefree. He could be mature any day, but this was the time of year when he could be a little immature. Venus turned and hurried back into her room as the baby began to cry. I looked over at TN and saw her rest her hands on her lower plastron and look down at it, a small smile on her face. I sensed something from her. Could she be pregnant? It was possible. Boy, wouldn't that be a Christmas surprise. Venus came back with the baby in her arms and I remembered back a year to when the baby was born...
Christmas morning, 2008, 3:00 AM. I awoke to the sound of Venus screaming in pain. My mind was still sleep-fogged, so I didn't realize what was happening at first. Leo threw my bedroom door open and I immediately realized that Venus was in labor. Leo saw that I knew and hurried back to his room. I followed a few seconds later to find that the baby was halfway out.
"How long has she been like this?" I asked, shocked.
"I don't know. I awoke when I heard her scream and went to get you. She may have been in labor for hours."
"There's no time for painkillers. The baby's ready to come right now. I'm afraid we'll have to do this the old-fashioned way."
Although Leonardo and I were worried, Venus was not.
"Do not worry, Donatello. I am not afraid, for I am built for this. My body can withstand it."
I swallowed hard and nodded, knowing that she was right. Leo sat next to her and held her hand.
"It's okay, Venus. It's okay."
I think Leo may have said that to calm his own nerves rather than Venus'. Twenty minutes later, their daughter was born.
I watched Venus and Leo as they tickled the baby and then watched Mike trying to cheer Raphael. Ever since his divorce from Tai two years ago, Christmas had been painful for him. Maybe this year, it would be different.
I awoke late in the morning to the sound of yelling coming from Raphael's and Tai's room.
"I can't believe that you were drunk again last night!" Tai cried.
"As if you haven't been drunk before."
"Do you know how worried we were last night? Do you even care?"
A few seconds later, Tai stormed out of the room. Fights between her and Raph had escalated these last few weeks and this may have been the final straw. She kept her distance from Raph all day until that evening, when she left, never to return. I tried to comfort Raph on the loss of his wife, but he pushed me away. But the next morning, when the fact that Tai had left him sank in, he accepted me. I gave him a brotherly hug, letting him cry.
"Why'd she have to go do this to me?" he sobbed.
I could have easily answered him, but I didn't want to upset him more than he already was.
"I really screwed up this time, didn't I?" he asked.
I didn't know how to comfort him.
"Aww, hell, I deserved it. Go ahead, Don. You can say it. Go ahead."
I don't think Raph could have felt any more pain than he did at that moment. I could have condemned him, but didn't.
"Raphael, no. You didn't deserve it. Nobody does. Tai's hurting, too." I said softly.
He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes.
"How do you know?" he asked.
"Tai told me to give this to you before she left."
I handed him a box and a note. Raphael read the note, his eyes filling with tears. Tai had been in tears when she gave me the note, but I didn't tell him. Raphael set the note aside and slowly opened the box. He burst into tears the moment he saw what was inside. Inside was a framed picture of him and Tai on their wedding day.
"She loves you, Raph. Despite what happened, she loves you." I said.
By now, Mike's cheerfulness had begun to rub off on Raph and he was his old self again. But there was a time when Mike hadn't been cheerful at Christmas. No, there was a Christmas five years ago when he had not been cheerful.
"See you guys later!" Mike cried.
He was the lucky one. He had been invited to a mostly human Christmas Eve party. None of us knew what was gonna happen, though.
Mike was having a blast at the party. Lots of pretty human girls were surrounding him and fawning over him. One of them brought a glass of punch. He drank it, not knowing that she had slipped a pill into it. He soon fell into a drug-induced stupor. At home, Splinter sensed that Mike was in trouble and sent me after him. I found him sprawled out on the sofa half-conscious, and a barely clothed human girl was sitting next to him.
"Hey! Get offa him!" I yelled.
The girl looked up at me and screamed. She crawled over the half-conscious Mike and off the couch. Mike looked up at me and said with slurred speech;
"Donnie? Hey, what the hell are ya doin' here?"
A second later, he passed out. I glared at the group of girls, knowing that they had done this to Mike. I picked him up and hurried from the party before we made an even bigger disturbance. Mikey woke up halfway home.
"Mmph...hey, Don, what's goin' on?" he asked.
He was still drugged, but I answered anyway.
"I'm bringing you home."
I set him down and supported him as he wobbled on his feet.
"Nevermind. Let's just get you home."
I pretty much had to carry him. He stumbled many times and I eventually lifted him up onto my shoulders to carry him home. He passed out again just as I walked through the door. Splinter was waiting for us in his room with a cup of tea.
"How is he?" he asked.
"Mikey was awake, but passed out twice on me. Once at the party and once just now when I walked through the door."
"Stay with him and give him the tea when he wakes up."
Mike was very ashamed of his actions when we told him the next morning and trusted very few humans afterward. TN and I followed the others downstairs to get the tree. Mike was even more exited when we got it in the house to decorate. Christmas had always been a special time for us because we were fighting crime most of the year. Mikey's eyes sparkled with a playfulness that we didn't get to see everyday. TN and I brought the decorations downstairs and we all began to decorate the tree.
"Venus, I have something for you and Leo. Actually, it's for the baby." I said, holding up a brass ornament.
"Ooh, thanks! She'll love it."
I grinned and once again caught TN looking at her belly with a funny little smile on her face. I slipped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah. A little tired, but I'll be fine."
I smiled at her and whispered in her ear;
"Just wait until we trade presents."
She smiled again and we looked up at Mike, who had tapped us on our shoulders and pointed up. While the two of us had been talking, Mikey had hung mistletoe above our heads.
"You guys know what to do." he said with a mischievous wink.
TN and I looked at each other before sharing a kiss. Mike whistled loudly and gave a thumbs-up. Later that night, we exchanged presents. Mikey had the surprise of the night. He went upstairs and when he came down again, he had a female turtle with him.
"Guys, meet Setsuna, my new wife." he said.
She giggled as he gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"When did you get married?" I asked.
"Yesterday afternoon when we got the tree. Sorry I didn't tell you about her sooner, but she wanted to be a surprise. Didn't you babe?"
Setsuna giggled again and nodded.
"If you guys don't mind, we've got some honeymoonin' to do." Mike said with a laugh.
But before they could go upstairs, there was a knocking at the door. I hurried to answer it and was surprised to see who was there. I let them in and hurried back to the other room.
"Raphael, there's someone here to see you." I said.
As he looked up, Tai stepped into the room. A look of shock crossed Raph's face when he saw her.
He leapt up and ran to hug her.
"I thought I'd lost you for good, babe!" he said.
"No, you didn't. I have a surprise for you."
She stepped aside to reveal a two-year-old male turtle baby that looked like Raphael.
"Hi, daddy." he said.
Raph looked at Tai and said;
"Yes. And he's yours."
"What's his name?"
"Raphael. I named him after his dad."
Raph bent down and scooped up Raph Jr.
"Merry Christmas, baby." Tai said.
Raph hugged both her and his little son. At that moment, all his previous pain had melted away. Later that night, when we were in our room alone together, TN showed me that she had another present for me.
"What? Another present?" I asked and TN nodded.
"I've got news for you."
"What news is that?"
"Well...I'm pregnant. You're gonna be a dad."
It took me a moment for her words to sink in.
"Me? A father?" I asked.
"Yes. You knew, didn't you?"
"Well, sort of. I kinda suspected because every time Venus mentioned her baby or her and Leo did something to do with their baby, I saw you look down at your belly and smile to yourself, as if you had a surprise for me."
She grinned and gave me a kiss. Wow, what a Christmas surprise! Me, a father? Finally, TN and I were gonna be parents.