TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:
THE ZOO AT THE EDGE OF THE CAGE
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
Note: Just a fluff piece set in the universe of my ten book TMNT novella series; feel free to check those fics out. This story takes place after book nine. Cheers.
Irma probably shouldn't have been so harsh judging Donatello the night before. For putting his work ahead of her.
He had just completed work on his Bio Tan system, a device capable of giving you the searing sensation of an inward tanning experience that would stay with you for a four month cycle. Ideal for wintery conditions.
He was entitled to go out with his brothers and celebrate.
She knew she had needs of her own, needs that men in her life needed to fill, but she had to be honest with herself. She wasn't living with a man. She was living in a Zoo.
And in a Zoo, many creatures keep to themselves rather than keep to humans, even if it's the human's job to look after them.
She knew Donatello cared for her, but so many distractions had come between them, such as A.P.E, trying to play catch up with his brothers, and depending on her to be there with a nice hot meal and a reluctantly warm face, and not expected to demand why he'd been out so late or question what he'd been up to.
She felt like a proper Shirley Valentine sometimes. Taken for granted by her man, or mutant, and needed some alone time to reflect on a side she felt had been caged for so long.
Caged in the Zoo.
She was supposed to be at A.P.E today filing up a psychological assessment of Donatello for the community, but she felt there had been enough instances of her doing someone's dirty work. She was going to spend this day with her mutant and try to inject a little bit of 'Shirley' into her surely dour lifestyle so far. Don's hunt was over; it was time to relish in his dependable prize.
So she had come to the lair to surprise Donatello, who was working on a few new devices for the team. When she arrived at the lab portion of the lair, she found it empty.
She took a gander at his notes, some of it was ramblings about cross universal inversions, another was trying to tell the difference between stream of consciousness writing and a set plan, and investigating why human beings never seem to create logical or satisfying follow-ups or massive pay-offs to years of slow build-up in arc driven storytelling.
She wondered aloud if he was trying to tell a theoretical God or whoever was in charge of their destinies to stop insulting their intelligence and trying the patience of whatever audience he was trying to satisfy in controlling their destinies.
Irma shook up the philosophical urges and waltzed around the lab, looking at the devices. In a way, this was the cage at the edge of the Zoo. With machines designed to create maximum comfort and capability for himself and his brothers, and in doing so, help them fight the good fight against the usual crop of crooks.
Several noises made her turn. Instinctively, she followed them to its source, heading out of the lab, and indeed, out of the lair.
She recognized instantly where the noises were emanating from. She and April had discovered that watering hole a mere seven days earlier, back when Raph was feeling blue, while the one that usually wears blue, Leonardo, was feeling quite chirpy and bordering on sheer bursts of overconfidence.
She walked over and there they were. Three of the four Turtles.
Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello. Masks off, weapons and belts scattered across the concrete surrounding the hole and the sandbags encircling it, playing happily in the waters. To Irma's relief, Raphael seemed in brighter spirits than he was a week or so ago.
"Irma, what a surprise, I thought you were heading to work?" said Donatello, his arms folded behind his head as he comfortably dipped in the waters, his toes outstretched and playfully curling up.
"Oh I'll GO Ape if I have to stomach those brown-nosers for another all day mostly all night notebook bender" said Irma
"I can't help but feel that whole thing with the Diamond heist mystery last week was just one big anti-climax. Is that how life works?" asked Raphael, "At the end of it all, we caught them in the act of delivering the goods, but the cops brushed off how they were receiving them, there wasn't much mystery to it. Just a hearty hand shake, a good profile of us for the news and that was it. It's only a string of big, important things you let linger and build in your head, and then when the time comes to bring it all to order, it's as matter-of-fact and less sensational than you want it to be"
"Sometimes we try to over complicate people's motives so much that we just don't see how basic they can be. We set ourselves up for disappointment that way" said Leonardo
"Life and soul you are" Raphael replied
"Hey, at least I'm not trying to sap the soul out of the party like you did last week" said Leonardo
"Hey, don't let your thriving dating success with that Asian broad make you so giddy that you can judge my moods. You know why I was down last week. It was the day Crys-Mu took one for the team and saved us all"
Leonardo composed himself and dashed over to Raphael, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry Raph, you're perfectly right, I am too confident at the moment, and it's allowing in some arrogance. I should have clear sight, especially since I have to lead by example"
"So where's April and Mikey then?" asked Irma
"Covering a story at the Zoo. Someone's been leaving diamond-tipped fangs in the mouths of outback snakes that have been brought in"
"Oh, diamonds again…hey, maybe that's where the Diamond smugglers were getting the diamonds FROM" said Irma. "Someone at the Zoo must have connections, they go into the Zoo at night, break into the snake's cages, remove the diamond-tipped fangs, forge them back into proper diamonds, and then deliver them to the employer"
"See? Connect a dot, then all you need do is connect it to us four, good call Irma" complimented Raphael
Irma blushed, "Oh, think nothing of it guys"
Donatello rose up from the water and grabbed a towel, "Want to come back to the lab with me when lunch is over and done with? I have some great theories I'd like to share with you on the deconstruction of stream of consciousness structure"
"I sort of noticed that when I was browsing your lab, but…really? Lunch? We're having lunch? Wait, was I supposed to get that? I can never separate errands from entertainment where you guys are concerned anymore"
"Oh no Irma, I took the liberty of getting the food this time, I figured you could do with a break after all you've put up with from me over the last few months"
"Oh Donny, you DO have my needs firmly in mind! C'mere you" Irma said, beaming with joy, she ran over to Donatello and hugged him, forgetting that he had yet to really dry himself off.
"Oh poo, now I'm all wet. That probably sounded better in my head than coming out of my mouth"
"Hey no worries Irma plenty of time to let that dry off and have some fun at the same time" said Raphael
"Yeah, the offer from last week still stands, why don't you join us?"
"It's not exactly past the watershed" said Irma
"Who can tell? It's a fanfic" said Raphael.
"I think she simply means she's not exactly one for the watershed" said Leonardo, "It's ok Irma, you don't have to come in el natural, but I think it would lift the weight of the last few weeks clean off your shoulders"
"I'd listen to his advice Irma; we're all in a good place these days, it's best to revel in those days while we can"
Irma bit her lip tight and twiddled her fingers. Finally, she conceded defeat
"Well…Oh all right" she said
"Great, I'll go get the Pizzas" said Donatello, kissing Irma on the cheek
"You're going to eat and swim at the same time? Isn't that a bit hazardous health wise?" Irma said
"Standards and practices don't count for much in free-form literature"
"Oh it's perfectly safe Irma, so long as you take one of these" said Leonardo, giving Irma a veil of pills.
"Donatello's invention. Just take two and it'll clear of your body of contractions after you chow down"
"You know, I reckon I'll pass on a Pizza. If you're going to look at my body, it's going to be a trim one, cut off from as many calorie casseroles as possible"
Irma set about undressing, and when Donatello returned with the food, his face froze into a priceless and awkward expression at the sight of his girlfriend freed from her dapper and unassuming bookworm guise, with her glasses off her hair allowed to cascade down, she looked a sizzler.
"Suddenly I don't feel that hungry…at least for food" said Donatello, his heart melting.
As the four individuals played about in the water, only two of them now chowing down on the feast before them, Irma snuggled up to Donatello, wrapped her arms around him and rubbed his nose with hers.
She knew his needs, and the best news all day for her was she knew how much he appreciated her for it.
She allowed him to natter on about his theories on the deconstruction of stream of consciousness. And her thoughts flooded back to earlier.
She knew the feelings of being trapped in a cage of sorts would crop up again, it always happens in moments of weakness, but so long as there was a zoo like this at the edge of the cage, she could afford the luxury of spending jail time in it.