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Same Difference

By sunnylighter

Adventure / Scifi

How it All Began

Before now, Hamato Yoshi had never known that life could change so drastically so fast.

A year ago, his life had been the happiest he'd ever known. He'd married the woman of his dreams, and together they'd had a beautiful daughter named Miwa. He was also the head of his family's ninja clan, and was considered a master in the art of Ninjutsu, one of the greatest in a century.

Life was as close to perfect as it could get. There was only one dark spot in his otherwise happy life, and it was named Oroku Saki.

Saki used to be Yoshi's best friend. The Hamato family had adopted him when he was an infant, and the two had grown up as close as brothers.

But then Saki and Yoshi had both fallen in love with the lovely Tang Shen, and their rivalry for her affections drove a wedge between their bonds of friendship. The bond was further damaged when Tang Shen chose Yoshi over Saki, and the latter's jealousy drove him to horrendous acts of rage.

The final straw that severed their ties completely came when Saki had discovered the truth of his origin. That he was the heir to the bloodthirsty Foot Clan, and had been taken in by the Hamatos after an attack on his clan's home base many years ago.

Enraged by all this, Saki had forsaken Yoshi, and the entire Hamato Clan, swearing vengeance upon them all before leaving, never to return.

Or so they had thought.

Yoshi had mourned the loss of his friend, but he had never expected to see him again, much less in the way that he had. But their inevitable reunion was the catalyst of the rapid changes in Yoshi's life.

It had started with various members of the Hamato Clan being picked off one by one. The murders were cleverly disguised as various unrelated crimes. Tragic accidents, a robberies gone wrong, a Yakuza drive by shooting, maybe even a suicide none saw coming. But as it continued it quickly became clear that these deaths were no coincidence. Someone was targeting the Hamato Clan, and they were slowly but surely being killed off.

In an attempt to protect his clan, Yoshi ordered them closer together for safety in numbers. Those who lived alone would go to an extended visit to others, families scheduled spontaneous and lengthy reunions, and none were to go out alone or unarmed.

But far from creating safety for his clan, the precautions only caused the perpetrator to drop all pretences and speed up his work. Reports soon came in of more murders. Whole families were being wiped out, and none, man, woman, or children were being spared. And still there were no clues as to who was responsible, and seemingly no way to stop the deaths from happening.

In desperation, Yoshi ordered all of his clan to flee. To go into hiding far away where not even he could find them, and remain there in secret until the killer was stopped for good.

And so like the ninja they were, the Hamato Clan vanished without a trace. It's members scattered themselves across Japan, and even into other countries using false names, and keeping their skills secret.

Yoshi knew it was only a matter of time before his family was targeted as well, so he made plans for them to vanish too. He secretly bought tickets to North America on a boat that was owned by a trusted friend, and he warned his wife to pack only their essentials, as they would need to leave quickly.

But the night before they could flee, everything went up in smoke.

Yoshi had been standing guard that night, and was startled when he heard one of the alarms he'd set within his house go off, alerting him that someone had broken in.

The sound also awoke Tang Shen, who scooped up Miwa, and held their daughter closely to her chest, looking around in alarm.

Yoshi wasted no time arming himself with shuko spikes, and moving to stand protectively in front of his wife and child.

The intruder knew that stealth was no longer an option, so the Hamatos could hear him as he rushed closer to their location.

Suddenly, the door to their room was kicked in, and before them stood Oroku Saki with a murderous expression on his face.

"Saki!?" Tang Shen breathed in disbelief, not wanting to believe that their old friend was the one responsible for this.

"What are you doing?!" Yoshi demanded, enraged at this betrayal.

Saki moved forward, ready to strike at any instant, and in the candlelight Yoshi could see he was wearing the Foot Clan crest on his clothes, and was armed with a pair of razor sharp gauntlets. "I am taking back what is MINE!" Saki snarled, and he lept forward to attack.

Yoshi was able to block the attack, and the two began to fight fiercely.

Having grown up together, each knew the other's fighting style almost as well as their own. But this was no longer a spar for fun and bragging rights, this was a duel to the death where only one would walk away alive.

As they fought, Yoshi saw Tang Shen rush Miwa to safety out of the corner of his eye. It was just as well, as their fight had knocked several of the lit candles to tip over, causing the room to go up in flames.

Suddenly, Saki used a new move that Yoshi had never seen before. A spinning kick that ended with a sweep of the leg. Before he knew it, Saki had kicked Yoshi's feet out from under him, sending the man sprawling onto the floor and leaving him vulnerable to any coming attack.

Saki sneered down at him, and raised his gauntlet.

Yoshi knew he wouldn't be able to dodge any blow Saki dealt from this position. Hoping he could reach the person who had once been his brother, Yoshi shouted, "Saki, please don't do this!"

Saki only smirked, believing his rival was begging at his feet where he belonged. "This is for stealing the woman I love," he said darkly as he positioned himself to strike.

He brought the blades down in a blow that would undoubtedly end Yoshi's life, when suddenly a figure jumped between them.

Both Yoshi and Saki both cried out in alarm as they realized that the figure was none other than Tang Shen, rushing to protect her husband from the killing blow.

Though Saki tried to pull back from the strike, it still hit, and the woman they both desired fell slumped onto Yoshi, blood pouring from the long gashes on her back.

Yoshi dropped his shuko spikes, and cradled his wife in his arms, searching her face desperately for any sign of life. "Tang Shen," he begged. "My love, please…"

But though Yoshi could still feel her pulse, Tang Shen lay still and silent, her eyes closed as if in sleep. She still lived, but she looked like death.

Saki, realizing what he had just done, backed away from them both, looking at Tang Shen in horror. "No," Yoshi heard him whisper in a lost sounding voice.

Before either man could do anything more, the fire caused the roof to collapse between them, cutting Saki off from Yoshi and Tang Shen.

Yoshi heard Saki cry out in pain and rage as the flames burned the skin on his face. He then heard him crash around in the room, before fleeing from the house.

Knowing he himself had only minutes, Yoshi scooped Tang Shen into his arms and rushed them both out of the house as their home burned down around them. He stopped only long enough to collect a crying Miwa from her hiding place as he went.

Once he was clear of the building, Yoshi looked down at the slashes upon his wife's back.

They were deep and bloody, but would be nonfatal if treated properly in time. Time that he feared Tang Shen did not have. Yoshi knew that there was no way he could get her to a doctor before the worst happened. If he didn't act now, Tang Shen would bleed out and die.

Gently laying his wife face down on the ground, Yoshi grabbed a stick of wood made his way back to the burning building. Using the fabric from his sleeve, he made the stick into a torch, and walked back towards his wife.

"Forgive me, my love," he whispered, before using the torch to cauterize the wounds shut. In her unconscious state, Tang Shen let out a hiss of pain, but mercifully did not awaken.

Once he was done, Yoshi bandaged her wound with more strips from his clothes. Her back could be forever scared from this night, but she would live, and that was all Yoshi could want.

Once he was done, Yoshi knew it was no longer safe for his family here. So once again he gathered them both up, and ran with them to safety.

The next day, after having Tang Shen be treated by a trusted doctor, the Hamato family boarded their boat to America. Fortunately, they had stowed their meager luggage on board the day before. Thanks to that the fire did not destroy it, and they could leave for their new life like they'd planned.

And so after a long voyage their new life in the United States began. They decided to settle in New York City for their new start, as it was so full of people already, no one would notice one more Japanese immigrant family, and that suited the Hamatos just fine. Tang Shen had always dreamed of living there, though she wished her dream had not come at such a price.

Their new apartment was nowhere near as nice as their old house in Japan, and the only job Yoshi managed to get only paid minimum wage, but they got by. They were together and content if nothing else, and that was more than they almost would have had if Oroku Saki had had his way.

At least until a few months after their arrival in the new country, when Tang Shen went to her husband and told Yoshi that she was pregnant once again.

And so, now Hamato Yoshi was in a hospital waiting room with his toddler daughter, awaiting the next big change in his life as his wife gave birth to the newest addition to his family.

It had been a rather difficult pregnancy. Tang Shen had seemed to grow even larger than she had been when pregnant with Miwa, and the baby (they had decided to wait until birth to find out the gender) was far more active than she had been as well. All of the extra weight had been putting a lot of strain on her body, especially on her still recovering back.

Agitated about having to wait for news, Yoshi gave into the urge to pace up and down the waiting room, while little Miwa sat watching him from one of the uncomfortable chairs.

Finally, the doctor walked in and called his name.

Yoshi immediately picked Miwa up, and walked over to the doctor, eager to hear the news.

"My wife, is she-" he started to ask, but the doctor just held up a hand and smiled.

"Your wife is fine, Mr. Hamato, as are your sons. Would you like to come meet them?" asked the doctor kindly.

Feeling like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, Yoshi gave a great sigh of relief.

But then he froze as he realized what he had just heard. English was not his first language, so he must have misheard.

"Sons?" he asked, putting emphasis on the plural. Surely he had heard that wrong.

The doctor gave him an amused smile. "Yes, Mr. Hamato, sons, four of them in fact. Congratulations, you are now the proud father of quadruplets."

Yoshi knew he was gaping at the doctor in a very undignified manner, but he was so flummoxed by this news that he couldn't bring himself to care. He barely even heard himself say he wanted to go see them.

Sons… Four sons… Along with Miwa that meant he and Tang Shen now had five children…

He pulled himself out of his daze just as he entered his wife's hospital room. At the sight of her mother, Miwa started squirming to be put down. When he obliged, she immediately toddled over and jumped up on her mother's bed and hugged her, accidentally jostling the four blanket-wrapped bundles that were also on the bed.

Upset at being moved, the four immediately started to wail, making Miwa stare at them with wide eyes.

Tang Shen laughed at the expressions on their faces, and picked up one of the newborns and began rocking him back into slumber.

Yoshi hurried to help do the same with one of the other three.

As they coaxed their sons back to sleep, Yoshi took the time to really look at the four of them.

It was clear that none of them would be identical, something Yoshi was extremely grateful for (it would be a nightmare to keep who was who straight otherwise). Still they were all small and dark haired, they would need to grow more before most of their distinguishing features became prominent.

The most obvious differences between the four of them were the colors of their eyes, dark blue, vivid green, reddish-brown, and baby blue eyes all stared back at him as he worked to calm his new sons down. There were other minor differences between them as well, such as the one with baby blue eyes had freckles, unlike any of his brothers.

"What will we name them, Shen?" Yoshi asked softly once they and Miwa (who had nodded off as well) were all asleep. "We only picked out two names, and I doubt any of them would thank us for naming them Catherine."

The two of them had decided not to give their new child a Japanese name, but instead chose to give them names from Renaissance history, which Tang Shen was an avid fan of. The names they'd chosen were Leonardo for a boy, and Catherine for a girl.

Tang Shen smiled up at him, "Then we will just have to give them other names that fit." She gently placed her hand on the head of the baby with dark blue eyes (not that they could be seen with his eyes closed in sleep). "This little one was first," she said softly. "So he will get the name Leonardo."

As she said that, the doctor, who had been hanging back during the reunion, pulled out a pad and began writing the name down.

The Hamatos paid him no mind, and Tang Shen moved her hand to the green-eyed baby. "He was second, and I believe the name Raphael would be fitting for him."

The newly named Raphael squirmed in his sleep, as if acknowledging the name.

Yoshi gently stroked the dark head of the brown-eyed boy. "What of this one?"

"He was third," she said with a smile, "and I believe Donatello would be a good name for him."

Yoshi smiled, then turned his attention to the last, who was sucking his thumb with a content smile on his freckled face. "And the youngest?"

"Michelangelo," said Tang Shen immediately, and with great fondness.

The couple basked in the happiness of the moment, simply content to be in each other's presence while their little ones slept.

But eventually they had to come back down to earth, and Yoshi said to Tang Shen. "We are going to need a bigger house."

Tang Shen laughed in delight, unfortunately startling the children awake again.

Humorous statement or not, Yoshi was correct. Their small apartment may have been a cozy home for a small family of three, and may have been a tight fit for four, but it would definitely not hold a family of seven, especially once their children grew bigger.

Knowing this, as soon as Tang Shen was out of the hospital Yoshi went to convince the bank to give him a loan. With the loan he bought an undeveloped lot, and built his own dojo on it. He'd had it constructed so that the upper floor and basement could be used as a living space, and he would teach martial arts classes on the main floor.

And so the Renaissance Dojo came to be.

Once it opened, the dojo quickly became a success. With the variety of classes it offered, from basic self-defense, to kendo, to ninjutsu, the dojo quickly became popular, and was a good source of income for their family.

Yoshi was always very careful to not let the dojo broadcast his name, so as not to draw Oroku Saki to his doorstep a second time. In an attempt to counter this he had filed for the dojo under a false name (one that if ever caught by authorities could easily be passed off as a simple mistake of an immigrant new to the country), and he allowed his students to call him by his old nickname, Master Splinter, rather than his real one. He also grew a beard in hopes of disguising his features. Thankfully, it seemed to have worked, and they heard nothing from their old life in Japan.

Thanks to all this, the Hamato family had a nice home with enough room for five children to grow up in. It also was the perfect size to have enough secret rooms, hidden exits, and hideaways that you would never find them all unless you knew where they were.

In short, it was the perfect home for a human ninja family with its share of secrets. Within it, Miwa, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo grew up happy and safe, and Yoshi passed down to them all that he knew of ninjutsu, and the ways of their clan.

And so the Hamato Clan lived happily for years. At least until the night of the boys' fifteenth birthday, when everything changed...

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