Another cold morning. New York seemed to have an endless supply of them, now.
Splinter reached out a claw and took the scrap of cloth he'd found in the storm drain the night before. It wasn't enough to warm him, but it was something. He scuttered over to the coffee can; the boys still stayed near it, even though they could no longer fit in. They were cuddled in a heap, shuddering, clearly trying to warm each other. He sighed and stretched the cloth over them; they calmed down, then, and fell back to sleep.
That should give him a few hours to scavenge for food. His changing body seemed to need more and more sustenance, and it was harder to find any as he grew; he'd been a bit larger than the average sewer rat, and now he was closer to a small dog's size. And he couldn't ask the boys to do anything. They were big, bigger than he was, but still children, at most; their bodies ached more than his own did, judging from their whimpers and groans, and they were still clumsy and awkward. Rats were good at hiding in shadow, but turtles didn’t have to, and Splinter had the advantage of his old sensei’s teaching, as well.
Traffic was slow this morning, which meant fewer things pushed or blown into the storm drains; Splinter would have to forage further today. He ignored the growling of his stomach and his aching joints and counted two more manholes before he tried to ascend.
His claws handled the ladder easily now; one more change to note, and there had been so many. His tail still helped him balance, and he still moved quietly, but he reached the storm drain in far fewer steps now. He’d become too large to fit through the grate of the storm drain, but his paw (hand? he's no longer sure) could rifle through the leaves and detritus.
He found a hot dog bun, some kind of hard candy, and one of the shiny metal discs the humans use to trade with.
It was going to be a long day.
The next two drains were not much better, though he found a half-finished package of peanut butter crackers.
His paw caught on a strap in the fourth drain; he pulled it closer and realized he’d found a human bag. He had to use both paws to wriggle the bag through the bars covering the drain, but the work was worth it: a pack of peanuts, a bar of chocolate, pen, paper, and a thick leather wallet full of discs and paper for trading.
Splinter had seen a machine that accepted the shiny round objects years ago; they might still exist, and as he grows larger, he might be able to use them.
He stuffed his other findings in the bag and went back to the boys. He knew he needed to sleep again; the changes in his body tired him, even as his stomach ached for more food and his joints for movement.
The boys were awake when he returned; they swarmed over the food as he divided it (always leaving himself the smallest portion; he's an adult, they are still growing) and then amused themselves with the toys he lets them have from the bag. (He keeps the pen and paper, the wallet, a mirror.)
He found the cloth and pulled it over himself to rest. Perhaps their luck has changed, and the next forage will be better still.
He was dimly aware of the boys settling back next to him as he tried to sleep, and he reached out a hand so they could come closer. One of the boys, the quietest, shifted his weight so his shell rested under Splinter’s claws. Splinter scratched at him gently and smiled.