Donatello sighed gently, though exasperated.
“Mikey, keep the icepack on your nose,” he persisted and took the pack of ice off of Mikey's lap where it had dropped to for the umpteenth time. He pressed it to his stubborn little brother's beak until his own free hand came up to accept it and hold it in place.
“Is it broken?” he mumbled.
Donnie continued to press the larger icepack to Mikey's injured arm where he kept his concentrated gaze fixed.
“No, it's not broken. I just need you to keep the icepack on your nose to help keep the swelling down,” he explained.
Mikey shook his head. “No, dude, I mean my arm.”
Donnie cringed. “Uh...yeah, buddy, it's broken.”
“Of course,” Mikey groaned.
Donnie pulled the icepack up from Mikey's arm to check the progress of the reduced swelling. There was hardly any; he knew they could be there a while. Perfect. Nothing was more difficult than trying to do a medical procedure on a fidgety Michelangelo, and the longer he had to force him to sit still on that lab table, the worse he was going to get. He looked up from the injured arm and briefly around the room for something to keep the energetic turtle busy. When he found nothing, he thought he'd attempt his next idea.
“So,” he began, “care to explain the cause to this particular effect?”
Mikey pulled the ice away from his face and stared blankly at him.
Donnie sighed. “What happened?”
The blank look on Mikey's face turned to one of regret. He dropped his gaze to his lap.
“I hit him,” he mumbled.
“You hit him? You hit Raph?”
Donnie, in spite of his brilliant mind, could barely fathom a situation in which his younger brother would strike one of them in a violent manner. Mikey, even when they were only small children, had seldom ever been one to even raise his voice to someone, let alone his hand, except for in those rare circumstances when he was pushed too far, and Raphael had a knack for bringing on those rare occurrences.
“Why'd you do that?”
Mikey did not answer at first. Donnie looked up from his arm to glance at his face to be sure that he had even heard him.
“He just...” Mikey shook his head. In retrospect, his reaction to Raphael's bullying was irrational and probably unjustified. He was ashamed. Ironically, to him, trying to avoid shame was what brought him to strike Raph in the first place. It was as if he was trapped, destined just to be ashamed. He sighed. “He got in my face.”
Donnie eyed him incredulously. “Well, that definitely sounds like Raph,” he sighed, “especially recently, but that doesn't sound like you. What did he do? Did he say something? Did he hit you first?”
“No, he didn't hit me.” Mikey stopped, hoping Donnie would allow the subject to drop.
Donnie stood up from his chair and pulled open a drawer below the table to obtain a roll of gauze. Much to Mikey's dismay, he was still expecting an elaboration if his once again expectant glance was any indication.
“I don't really remember how it went down. I just remember he was yelling at me, I made, like, one smart remark, and the next thing I knew he was all in my face, telling me to do something...and I did. I punched him.”
Donnie smirked. “Damn. Go, Mikey.”
The slightest boost of confidence came over Mikey from the unexpected support.
“Well, he was making me look stupid, you know? He pushes me around and expects me not to do anything.”
Donnie nodded. “I understand, buddy. You know how many times he's tried to make me look like a fool in front of April?” He chuckled. “I should have punched him too.”
Mikey felt his blood pressure rising again.
“I mean, he can beat on me and get in my face and talk to me however he wants, but God forbid I do the same thing to him when he's asking for it,” he ranted on.
“Yeah, I hear you, Mikey.” Donnie returned to securing the icepack against his arm.
Mikey groaned. “He can step on my toes all the time, and just because he overreacts, I have to deal with it or else this happens.”
Donnie planted himself back in his chair.
“Oh, I don't think he'll be breaking bones again anytime soon,” he said. “He's in deep for this. You were probably too upset to notice, but Sensei is pissed.”
Splinter held himself against the wall outside of his second son's bedroom door. It seemed like hours he had been standing there biding his time, hoping for a godsend solution as to how to approach his hot-tempered son.
It wasn't the first time in the past week or so that Raphael had been in trouble for his temper. In fact, it had been almost a daily occurrence; a new mishap for each day of the week, each one progressively getting worse as the week went by.
A new approach was definitely an order because what he'd been doing was clearly ineffective. Each time Raphael got into trouble that week, he'd been scolded and sent to his room, sometimes for several hours at a time. Regardless, he'd come back out calmed down, but once something rubbed him wrong, he'd be right back where he started: throwing tantrums, lashing out at his brothers, and disrespecting his father. But this time something really needed to be done. This was not like the other day when he decided to challenge Leonardo's leadership during their training session, which ended in him attempting to attack him, or later on when he busted into Donatello's lab and smashed one of his newest inventions because he thought Donatello had called him a 'dumb-ass'. This time he brutally attacked and injured one of his own.
According to Casey, he had 'freaked out' because Michelangelo had taken a sarcastic tone with him, so he threatened him, and to his surprise, Michelangelo had punched him. It was seeming the pettier the reason for his anger, the more explosive Raphael's response would become. As a father, he knew he shouldn't encourage any of his sons to strike their brothers, but he'd seen first hand the degree to which Raphael could antagonize his brothers, particularly his pacifist of a son, Mikey. He could hardly suppress the tiny glimmer of pride he had in Michelangelo for taking up for himself for the first time in a while. Still, he made the mental note to briefly discuss his initial behavior with him later.
But a brief discussion with Michelangelo was the easy part and could wait to be addressed. The hardest part needed to be dealt with now. Raphael had gone too far. He allowed his pride and his anger, once again, to control him and put his loved ones in danger, and nothing his father did, it seemed, coerced him into using his self-control. Splinter had tried every means of grounding him that he could think of: extra training, extra chores, no patrolling, no television, no games, and no hanging out with Casey or April, none of which had any lasting effects.
There was one punishment, however, that he hadn't tried: switching. He shuddered to think of it. Surely, he had spanked his sons on numerous occasions until they were as old as twelve or thirteen, but that was just a single, firm swat or two on their hindquarters with a belt or his own palm. Switching was like spanking on steroids. Switching was done with a blunt object and left welts and bruises, a fitting criterion for abuse, though not at the time that he was a child. In fact, he could very vividly remember his first and last switching.
Ten-year-old Yoshi sat there on a bench, an icepack over his eye that his school nurse had provided for him. The low murmuring voices of his mother and school principle behind the closed door to his left piqued his curiosity, though he was sure he already knew what was being said. No doubt his principal was telling his poor mother everything her trouble-making, short-tempered son had done to that 'poor' child. Of course he will leave out one important detail: he was defending his best friend's honor.
That no good punk, Daichi Akio, had called his best friend Saki a 'bastard', and teased him about his father walking out on their family, a subject that everyone knew was a touchy one for Oroku Saki. To Yoshi, Saki was like the brother he never had and always wanted, and that meant his pain and frustrations were his too, and no one spoke that way to his best friend and got away with it. So naturally, Yoshi and Saki pounded this kid. They pounded him good. The faculty had to send him home, and the principal, while he was yelling at them, had mentioned something about the boy going to the hospital.
Yoshi didn't care. He hoped he did have to go to the hospital, and hoped he'd felt every blow for a long, long time. Maybe that will teach him not to tease anyone Yoshi cared about.
The door beside him opened and his dreaded principal stood beside him, glaring.
“Yoshi, please step inside my office,” he said.
Yoshi obeyed and walked into the office to find his mother standing beside the principal's desk, her hands planted on her hips and her dark eyes glaring into his with disappointment.
He stood before her and bowed his head submissively.
It scared him that she said nothing, but he could still feel her intense stare on the back of his head.
“Yoshi,” his principal began again, “your mother and I have been discussing your behavior.”
“What is wrong with you Hamato Yoshi?!” his mother finally spoke. “You put that poor little boy in the hospital! And for what? For a few nasty words?”
“But mama,” he argued, “he called Saki a 'bastard'! His papa left him and...”
“I am aware of the situation! What that boy said was wrong, but you know that two wrongs do not make a right. We have spoken about your temper before,” she scolded.
“I know, mama, but...”
The principal cleared his throat. “Your mother and I decided, as punishment, you will be switched, but we agreed that she will be the one to do it.”
Yoshi felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up as the chills worked their way up his spine. He rose his gaze to check his mother's expression for confirmation. She nodded.
She picked up the bamboo stick that he hadn't realized was leaning against the desk.
“Turn around and put your hands on the desk, my son,” she said.
“No, Mama,” he pleaded, “please! I can control myself. I learned my lesson! Honest!”
“Turn around, Yoshi!”
On shaking legs, the boy turned and held his hands against the desk.
The bamboo made a sickening 'swish' in the air on his mother's back swing before it smacked against his backside. How many more times it made contact with him, he lost count.
Splinter hated to admit it, but the switching had worked. Just like Raphael, he was prone to having a short temper when he was growing up and even well into his young adulthood, but through his mother's coercion, he never did get into another fight. At least not until the fight. The fight that, ironically, was against the one that he was defending in his previous fight as a child.
Splinter sighed and shook his head. He had to do it. He knew if he left marks on his son and reduced his son, a tough young man, to tears through his physical coercion, he may never forgive himself. But if he allowed his son to continue on this way, a danger to himself and his loved ones, he knew he could never forgive himself. He will have failed Raphael if that were to happen. After all, it is his role as the father to steer his sons in the right direction and take any means necessary to do so.
He knew what must be done.
He turned the heavy doorknob and pushed his way into Raphael's room. Dim darkness met his eyes, only lit modestly by the jack-o-lantern on the shelf above the bed. On that bed sat the shelled form, his head hanging and face hidden by two large, three-fingered hands.
Raphael did not respond.
Splinter approached the bed and stood over his son, waiting for him to acknowledge his presence. When he did not, he spoke again.
“Raphael, look at me, my son.”
Raph sighed and looked up at his father to reveal a tear-stained face and bloodshot eyes. He stared into his father's brown eyes, deep with disappointment. Shame overwhelmed him. There was no wiggle room, no space to argue his case and defend his actions, and he knew his father did not even wish to hear him try. Shame forced his eyes to the floor.
“I-Is...” his voice cracked, he tried to swallow it back and talk smoothly. “Is M-Mikey...o-okay?”
Splinter took a deep breath. “His arm is broken. Why don't you tell me what lead you to do such a thing?”
Raph shook his head. “Mikey punched me in the mouth, and I-I guess...I guess I just lost it.”
“And why did he punch you? Were you tormenting him?”
Raph nervously rubbed the back of his neck.
“I-I mean, I guess. He was...he was mouthing off to me, and I was yelling at him and h-he...”
Splinter sighed. “Raphael...I don't know what I am going to do with you.” He planted himself next to his son. “I have tried all I can imagine; I have given you extra chores, extra training, forbidding you from patrolling, watching television, playing games...I-I am...I am just at a loss.”
Raphael hiccuped. “Y-you gotta k-kick me out, Sensei. I d-don't wanna hurt th-them.”
Splinter was awestruck. His son wanted to be punished? Worse yet, he wanted to be cast out of his own home? Splinter was never a fan of kicking a child out when they became too out of control. To him that was just telling them to go elsewhere so the parent doesn't have to face the challenge and look at their own failure. Something he would not do.
“Kick you out? No, Raphael, that is out of the question.”
Raph finally looked him in the eyes. “Y-you don't get it, S-Sensei. I-I don't w-wanna h-hurt anyone again. I already hurt Mikey and h-he'll probably never forgive me. I-It's not l-like I can go get pr-rofessional help. The o-only th-thing that can be d-done is for me to go away...”
“My son, if I send you away, then I have given up on you, failed you as a father. Something can be done. You have a good heart, Raphael, and I know that you love your family.”
Raph hiccuped. “Tha-at's why I h-have to go...”
Splinter placed a firm hand on his shoulder. “That is why you have to stay. I believe that your heart is strong and the people that love you can and will help you. You will just have to try a little harder to control your anger.” He sighed. “I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. That is what you do for the ones you love.”
The smallest glimmer of a smile appeared on the turtle's face, but just as quickly vanished.
He sighed. “I guess I-I'm still in big trouble though, huh?”
Splinter's scowl deepened. “I have to punish you. After all, you seriously injured your brother. I cannot let that slide.”
Splinter sighed. “I just...I don't know how to punish you at this point.”
“Beat my ass,” Raph mumbled.
Splinter's ears perked, unsure of what they had just heard.
“I beg your pardon?”
“U-um, I, I mean...beat my, uh, butt.”
“No, my son, I mean...y-you want me to hit you?”
Raph looked back down and nervously shuffled his fingers.
“I mean, no, but...Sensei, I hurt him. My own little brother, who I'm supposed to protect, who's, sure a great fighter, but still smaller than me...” he sighed. “I deserve it. Maybe if I get my own ass...butt...beat by someone stronger than me that I look up to, I'll finally learn to control myself.”
Splinter thought he'd made up his mind; he was going to switch that boy and just hope with everything that he is that he would learn from it, but he was expecting indifference. He was expecting Raphael to be defensive and try to justify his behavior. He was not expecting to confront his son sorrowful and mortified, humbly asking to be punished harshly for his misdoing. Now he was back to questioning the purpose of switching his son.
“There is logic in what you are suggesting,” he hesitated, “but I am not sure that I can do it.”
Raph shook his head. “You have to. I need to learn a lesson that even my anger won't let me forget.”
Splinter thought again of his mother. How he wished she were here. She would have asked no questions, made no excuses. Before Raphael could even explain himself she would have busted a bamboo stick over that boy's hindquarters. No one would have time to protest, to try and make this dreaded decision. It would be done with no second guessing. Or she would hold him and tell him that all is forgiven because he is remorseful of what he'd done, shown that he has a heart in there strong enough to overcome a hot temper. She could do this as well with decisiveness and certainty. She was gifted that way, which Splinter knew he was not.
He sighed and looked pleadingly to the ceiling. “Oh Mother, what do I do?”