Pizza For Algernon (1)

Not Needed

Donnie pored over his mutagen experiments with meticulous care and extreme caution. Handling this volatile element was a delicate process. He and his brothers had seen the terrible consequences they've wrought on innocent people and animals. It was a good thing that they managed to make progress with getting to the cannisters before the Kraang did.

Donnie was just about to tip a beaker of water into a reaction tube of mutagen to dilute it when he stopped and shouted, "Mikey! Don't touch that!"

His little brother stopped just before his hand closed on a can of rejected mutagen. Mikey swiftly pulled his hand back. "Oh, uh...sorry, I thought that was...uh, soda."

Donnie rolled his eyes. "Lab protocol 101: never ever have food or drinks at the work bench. You know as well as I do that the can of rejected mutagen is not soda!"

"Well, maybe you shouldn't put the stuff inside an actual soda can!" Mikey retorted. He jabbed his finger at the recycled can of Crush grape soda to make his point.

"I'm running low on proper lab equipment. I have to make do with the limited resources we have. Now be quiet. I have to dilute this mutagen."

"Can I help?" Mikey asked.

Donnie lowered his reaction tube to shoot an incredulous, horrified glance at him. "You, help? Sorry Mikey, you'll just be in my way. I can't trust you to give me a hand in any of these experiments when you don't know a thing about basic science."

"Sure I know some things. How about that time I made the antidote in that centrifudge so you, Leo, and Raph stopped turning into freaky wasp zombies?"

Donnie sighed with exasperation. "Centrifuge. And that was one time, Mikey. Sheer, dumb luck." He returned to his dilutions. "Go finish the leftover pizza or something. Unlike you, I'm actually doing some real work."

Mikey's shoulders slumped, and his older brother was oblivious to the sight of him trudging away. His gloom was short-lived, and he perked up at the sight of Raph sitting on the couch, hunched over from playing a handheld console. Mikey made a running dash and threw himself in the air to plop neatly right next to Raph. His older brother never batted an eye and kept on playing.

Mikey leaned over with interest. "Hey, what's that? A new game?"

"Yeah. It's pretty good," Raph replied offhandedly.

"Can I play it after you?"

Raph laughed. "Forget it, Mikey. This game is way over your head. It's not mindless button-smashing."

"I can play all kinds of games besides the mindless button-smashing type," Mikey insisted.

"Maybe you can play later. After I beat the next ten levels. Get your fat finger out of the screen; you're distracting me!"

"Your finger's just as fat as mine," Mikey mumbled.

His face fell and he promptly marched off to leave Raph to his new game. Mikey strayed into the dojo, where Leo was lost in executing a sequence of advanced katana techniques.

"Pssst! Hey, Leo! Looking for someone to spar with?"

Leo opened his eyes and froze in mid-pose. "I can't, Mikey. This new set Master Splinter wants me to learn is a solo endeavor."

"I don't know what that last word means, but I take it that you don't want me around."

Sensing his little brother's indignant tone, Leo relaxed his stance and properly faced Mikey. "Well, I guess I can use a little unwinding. This new technique is pretty hard on me."

Mikey brightened and he whipped out his twin nunchucks in a lightning-fast flurry. "Booyakasha! You make the first move, bro!"

Leo held aloft his katana with both hands and charged in a straight line. As usual, Mikey evaded. The youngest of the four turtles had always been fast and quick. To Leo's annoyance, he almost always used that agility to dodge attacks.

"You're fast, but not as fast as me!" Mikey said as he laughed.

"Stop backflipping away and actually try to disarm me," Leo said with irritation. "Dodging my katanas will only get you so far."

"Well, it's been helping me out pretty well," Mikey replied. "You're just saying that because you can't lay a finger on me."

"I'm annoyed with your fighting style," Leo frankly admitted. "Trying to do any traditional close-quarters combat is impossible with you."

"That's just not how I roll, Leo. You're you and I'm me. Nothing can change that, not even Master Splinter."

Leo lowered his katanas and let out a resigned sigh. "We're done here. I need to work more on the new techniques."

Mikey opened his mouth to argue, but held his tongue at the last second. Leo would just get even madder. He left the dojo feeling dejected. No one took him seriously. If anything, he felt more like a mascot, with all his annoying catchphrases and enemy-naming, than a valued member of the team. Sure, he was good at being goofy and funny, but he wanted to be good at other things, too. He knew just what he wanted when he felt down. He needed a box of hot, freshly delivered pizza.

Strangely enough, just as the thought struck him, the very smell wafted into his nostrils and filled his head like a balloon. He didn't remember any of his brothers ordering for pizza. Oh well. Mikey licked his lips and closed his eyes, focusing his mind and senses only on that smell. He followed it past the lair, into the sewers, and eventually to the surface.

Mikey muttered to himself all the while: "When I get that box of pizza, I'm gonna have it all to myself and not let any of them have it. I'm gonna order super special combo toppings only I like. That's all I'm ever good at doing, anyway: eating a whole box of pizza on my own."

Careful not to expose himself to the unaware masses, Mikey kept to the shadows and nimbly hopped across the rooftops, all the while keeping himself trained on the smell of pizza.

Little did he know that not too far from him, a group of Kraang disguised in their bizzare automatons were luring Mikey with a false trail. Just like luring a mouse with a cheese-laden trap.