As of April 2017: This story was nominated in the 2016 TMNT Universal Fanfiction Competition in the category Most Interesting Crossover.
Cold Fire Rising 4: Crossfire
When we first came here
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin
We were light and paper-thin
And when we first came here
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin
'Til you let the spectrum in
Say my name
And every color illuminates
We are shining
And we will never be afraid again
"Spectrum" - Florence And The Machine
Like an unsung melody
The truth is waiting there for you to find it
It's not a blight, but a remedy
A clear reminder of how it began
Deep inside your memory
Turned away as you struggled to find it
You heard the call as you walked away
A voice of calm from within the silence
And for what seemed an eternity
You're waiting, hoping it would call out again
You heard the shadow reckoning
Then your fears seemed to keep you blinded
You held your guard as you walked away
When you think all is forsaken
Listen to me now (all is not forsaken)
You need never feel broken again
Sometimes darkness can show you the light
"The Light" - Disturbed
It was obnoxiously early. He grinned. His middle and youngest sons might say that too much. His youngest, much more often. It had become ingrained in his thinking. It was fine.
From the far corner of the dojo, he sat lotus style, gently widening his spiritual senses to cast over the whole space. The conversation, traveling through his ears, over his closed eyes, seemed far more entertaining this way.
A familiar soft grunt, then a louder groan, then an even louder moan with a whine at the end. "Yeah, okay, I am pretzeling as hard as I can. See? Look! I got this!"
A long, purposely exaggerated sigh. "Yes, your fingers are touching your toes. I want your hands flat on the floor."
Splinter sensed them sticking their tongues out at each other and tried to not smile.
There was silence. The gasping and hitching of breath started; a new pose was beginning.
"Auuuu fuuuck, Leo, no, this one huuurts…"
"Do you need the leg braces again?"
"No! No, I swear, I got this! Just gimme a little… come on…damn arms, I just need that one twiiist AAAHHHH okay I got *pant* got it *pant* Ow."
"Do you need the arm braces too?"
"Holy sewer apples, Leo, it's been two months, I'm fucking getting there."
Splinter's ears twitched.
"Donnie, can you help me move his legs into that therapy pose that we-"
"Donnie, don't come in here, I am fine and I don't need the braces and I don't need help and my brain's already fixing it up so just let me…hey!"
Michelangelo let out a growl. Splinter's nose twitched – it was both pain and stubbornness. More scuffling.
Raphael's voice. "Ohh, not this again. Want me to hold Mikey down while you put the braces on? Hell, I'll get the wheelchair again." A smirk in his voice, yes.
"You're all traitors," Michelangelo grumbled, but softly. He sounded completely exhausted.
There was silence save for bodies moving, murmured sentences.
"There," Donatello was saying. "That feels better, doesn't it?"
Michelangelo sighed long and harsh. "You know, it was fun playing space age techno cripple at the beginning, but…"
"But you are still severely weakened, and the modifications Freya and I made to these will strengthen your vital organs, your muscles, and your nerves without added stress. Stop complaining, it is brilliant and genius and without it you wouldn't even be out of bed, let alone wheelchair. Don't make me get Karai."
"Karai, I can handle," came the soft reply. "She doesn't baby me."
"Karai is different," Leonardo said.
Splinter opened his eyes and lifted his head.
His four sons were in the center of the dojo near the tree. Michelangelo was lying flat on his carapace, the odd, confounding silver-white braces of silicone and plastic fitted to his legs from ankles to thighs, to his arms from wrists to biceps. Some sort of padding was taped to his upper plastron. Gel pads were affixed to his head at both temples. He was spread-eagled, in the middle of an exaggerated pouting miniature tantrum, right leg raised up, left leg straight on the floor but at a strange angle. Splinter had not even tried to understand the point behind the Mako family's medical devices; all he knew was that his baby was getting better and stronger in half the time, and so he endorsed whatever it was.
Donatello was crouched over him, smirking. "So, you're saying that if I poke both your knees hard, you won't scream in pain?"
The glance Michelangelo gave him was threatening. "You wouldn't."
"See? If you didn't hurt anymore, you'd let us poke you all day."
"Dude, I actually forgot how many joints I dislocated and how many bones I actually broke, okay? I admit it. You win. I just wanted to do yoga and kata in peace, without the braces, just to prove myself. Happy? Happy, Brain?"
"No, Bouncy, none of us are happy. People who wake up from six month comas generally don't have the stamina, power, or flexibility you do after two months in recovery. Which makes me think you are cheating and allowing the psionics to work overtime in a way that cannot be healthy. They need to rest and you need to rest, so get comfy in the braces and get in the wheelchair."
"But I'm booored."
"Here it comes," Raphael said.
"I can do it!"
Splinter let out a huffed chuckle as Raphael hooked his hands under Michelangelo's arms, hoisted him easily, and deposited him in the padded wheelchair. "Don't make me strap you in, brat."
"You guys suck. You know that, right? You suck."
"Shut up and make those pancakes for breakfast, gimpy."
Raphael took the handles and wheeled his pouting brother out of the dojo. Donatello followed, failing to hide his giggles.
Splinter walked up to Leonardo. "Ah, family."
"How long were you eavesdropping, Dad?" And Leonardo smirked at him.
Splinter lifted his chin. "I have excellent hearing, my son."
"Uh huh," and Leonardo quietly began another kata, which the rat watched carefully.
"Mikey, are you absolutely sure you don't want help? I could mix the batter, I could flip the pancakes…"
"Dee, darling brother dearest, I love you, but if you don't sit back down and let me work, I will banish you from touching my kitchen."
"Hah! Shows you, Donnie."
"Raph, take your hands off my wheelchair."
"What, no please?"
"Raph, take your hands off my wheelchair, you asshole."
Mike turned back to the sizzling pan, muttering about his family not even letting him stand to lean against the counter. He flipped the pan, two pancakes dancing like gymnasts before landing on a nearby plate. Donatello twitched, not caring that the same thing had been done twice already. He watched Michelangelo's wrists and elbows and shoulders, watched the rotation of his left arm from shoulder to fingers. Sure, the damage had healed in an insanely quick period, because the damn M'Kari psionics had worked literally overtime in eight months when it would have taken nearly two years, but he was still going to worry, damn it. He was allowed. Gaia would have said he was giving himself Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He no longer complained or fidgeted nervously when she came to give him telepathic therapy twice a week help him relax. His brothers were grateful; gone were the nervous tics, the twitching eye muscles, the hitched breaths. Raph had a session afterwards, shorter and simpler, and still teased him, his way of showing the deepest affections. Donatello merely smirked and reveled in the emotional aftereffects.
But he still watched his only baby brother like a hawk, because despite Mikey trying to dull that empathic link between them, Donnie still sensed it when he had sharp pains, when his nightmares overloaded him, when his sensory perceptions and processing overwhelmed.
"Breakfast is ready," Mikey said with a flourish, repeating it telepathically, broadcasting to Leo in the dojo. The oldest arrived stretching his neck muscles. Mike pointed at him and rotated his finger in the air a few times. As Leonardo was massaging his neck and shoulder, he suddenly sighed loudly and slumped in a chair. The twitching muscles visibly smoothed out.
"Thanks, little brother. I think I've earned my pancakes."
"Extra butter, then!" and Mikey gleefully smothered a plate with butter and maple syrup, which floated to Leo's spot.
They all ate in happy silence, scraping their plates empty.
One month later:
Mikey was spinning in one of the lab chairs, humming. Donatello had gotten multiple chairs, specifically so his brothers could stop perching on his desks and tables.
"What's that?" Mikey pointed, sounding highly distracted. And suddenly Don realized he had completely forgotten.
"Mikey, you took your medicine, right?"
"Including that anti-seizure tea?"
"…and that chocolate high-caffeine coffee I made for you?"
"…oh. Nope. You want some?"
"Sure. Yes, please. Go. Go get some before you leave footprints on the ceiling."
Mikey didn't move. He sat ramrod straight, hands pressed against his thighs drumming, both feet tapping a rhythm. Donnie watched out of the corner of his eye, noticing the left hand moving a fraction slower, but Gaia and Rhea said it would happen, with acquired dyspraxia and hemiparesis, and Don berated himself every single day that he could not do anything, something; until that therapy session last week where Gaia had kissed him to shut him up and told him that no one could do anything, except maybe the M'Kari psionics and Neural Mike, and maybe even those mental coping mechanisms taking on the forms of Apollo and Hecate.
The smell of coffee and hot chocolate drifted from the kitchen. Two twenty-ounce mugs floated steadily in and slid onto Don's main desk. One contained ice, which Mikey took and sipped from loudly. Donatello looked him over: No braces, no bandages, but certain muscle groups spasmed every now and then…
"Get out of that dark part of your head, Dee," Mikey said loudly, smacking his lips. "I'm not even listening and I can hear it. I bet Gaia's gonna start charging you by the hour if you keep…y'know, ruminating."
Donnie frowned. "I mean, I'm happy to update her laptop and tablet and stuff…"
"Plus maybe sex."
Don spluttered, coffee dribbling down his chin.
A cheeky grin. "Oh, come on. I see her dancing in your head. I mean, she can't actually move like that. But sweet, dude."
"Mikey, please just drink your coffee quietly. Your polyamorous pansexual girlfriend is here for my psychotherapy, not more comfort sex."
Shrugging, Michelangelo downed the rest of his coffee and let out a sigh. "Fine, go work on your equations and your data. Can I check out this pile of junk over here?"
"I guess so. It's leftover Kraang technology."
"Oh, even better! I get to be Crazy Backwards King!"
"I…Mikey, with the Kraang gone, I don't think it will even work."
"Eh, you never know if Primey is hiding out. Or has some direct link."
Donnie sighed. Mike's imagination reached the most bizarre and fascinating places.
Mikey began to launch his chair at the pile when his T-Phone rang, singing "The Whole Of The Moon" by Mike Scott And The Waterboys. Mike used that ringtone for one person only.
"Kitten!" he crowed, phone to his ear, chair still spinning. "Wazzup, my love of loves?"
A few minutes later, he shut off the phone and grinned at Donnie upside down. "Gaia's coming over. She found a thing she wants you to look at."
"Just a thing?"
"A technology thing. See, her palsy physical therapist – who's also an anthropologist – found it on a dig, and Gaia said she knew a guy, and of course the guy was you, so bam."
"Interesting connections." But Mike was already poking through the haphazard pile, telekinetically floating bits of metal. "Oh, I recognize this…hey, that's from when…wow, Don, how'd you get this one?" And it continued, until there was the click of turnstiles and footsteps on the stairs, and Mike went flying out of the lab.
Don followed, smiling softly, and when he saw Mikey with Gaia in his arms, nuzzling her head and neck like the most content joyful puppy in the world, he grinned. Gaia Mako, deceivingly human, was laughing like bells, her waist-length black hair tucked behind her pointed furred ears, a v-slit cut into the back of her leggings to accommodate her calico tail, which was happily twitching. She was covering Michelangelo's head in kisses, cat-like nose twitching lightly. They were approximately the same height, and Mikey was rubbing his large hands up and down her feline curved spine like they belonged there. Gaia's cane, bright blue with silver ribbons, had fallen to the floor, and Donatello picked it up; the noise finally brought the lovers out of their enthusiastic hug and they looked at him.
"Hello, there, Donnie!" and Gaia put her arms around his waist and stood on tip-toe to kiss his cheek warmly. He blushed. Hugging her was different from hugging April; Gaia put everything into an embrace and held on tight, as though she could transfer her very energy through intense touch – well, she could, she was a very powerful telepath, but still. He found himself nuzzling her half-feline ear, breathing in the scent of her mocha shampoo. It was a scent that took him all the way back to when the turtles were recovering from the final battle with Shredder, and he immediately relaxed.
She grinned widely and pressed her lips to his in a sweet, barely-there peck. "So, I have a thing I think you'll like."
Breathing in the taste of cinnamon lip gloss, he smiled. "So I heard." He led them back to the lab, noticing how Gaia held her cane lightly when Mikey had his arm around her waist.
From her large shoulder bag, Gaia pulled out a gleaming cylinder in ocean blue, rusted at the edges. There were various buttons in various shapes. "My therapist said that's not from Earth and it's mostly likely thousands of years old. He actually didn't want anyone else at the dig to see it, because the society is still reeling from the Kraang and Tricetraton invasions, and he knew that I had friends involved in the war. So." Gaia clasped her hands and twisted her fingers. She was starting to rock back and forth. Don hurried to reassure her autistic worrying. "I really, really appreciate you bringing it to me, Gaia. This is fantastic. Really." And after a few long breaths she stopped rocking, and Mikey's embrace tightened and he kissed the side of her head.
Donnie carefully placed the cylinder on one of the tables less cluttered and grabbed his sticky notes, writing out "Unknown Potential Alien Tech" – which made the other two giggle.
Don sat down on that table's chair, picking up each piece of metal and examining it, separating the ones with notes from the ones without.
He began to tune out everything else. It wasn't until he turned around and saw Mike and Gaia with electrodes attached to their bodies and brainwave headbands around their skulls that he came to reality.
"What are you two doing?"
Gaia widened her feline eyes and let the pupils dilate as much as possible. "Gathering neurobiological data."
Donnie sighed; her kitten eyes were worse than Mikey's puppy eyes. "Are you going to have sex in the lab again?"
"D'you want us to?" Mikey asked with a wide cheeky grin.
"It'll be really telekinetic, I promise," Gaia said. "You'll have so much data."
Don folded his arms and tilted his head. Gaia and Mike stared at each other, silent for several minutes, and suddenly laughed.
"Okay," Mike said out loud, "but I'll step back."
"It'll just be a little," Gaia said. "For science."
Mikey pumped his fist and yelled "Science!"
"Now what?" Don asked.
"Just come here," Gaia said, holding out her arms, and in was in those seconds that Mikey cheerfully yanked her shirt over her head and her leggings down her hips.
One hour later, as the three of them attempted to scan the new cylinder artifact, Donatello kept sighing and stretching out his neck and legs.
"Awww, he's still glowing," Mikey grinned. "Good for him."
"Before, during, after…a nice record," Gaia added, switching out screwdrivers.
Donnie said nothing, merely basked in the residual energy of two telepaths deliberately releasing bursts of energy at once.
"Bet he's so de-stressed he'll start singing," Mike said. Don whipped his head up and glared.
There was a knock at the lab doors. Mike unlocked them without moving. Leo and Raph strolled in, stopping inches away from the table, eyes narrowing. "Did something psionic happen in here?" "Leo asked.
"Yup," Mike and Gaia said.
"…did it involve you guys doing fun things?"
"And you didn't call us?" Raph grumbled.
"It was spontaneous," Donnie said with a shrug.
"There is a lot of telekinetic residue in the air," Leonardo observed. "Even I can feel it. Donnie, it's all over these pieces of tech. What's that?"
"Gaia brought it over," Don explained. "It doesn't appear to be Kraang, or Triceraton, but you never know. There are plenty of aliens and weird scientists running around with all sorts of technology."
"I'm going to get drinks for everyone," Gaia said, and pulled Mikey's head toward hers for a long deep kiss. "Be right back. Make sure nothing explodes."
"All is well," he smiled, watching her leave.
"Okay, I think it's fixed." Don set the cylinder down, and the four turtles gathered around it.
It shouldn't have happened.
Later, Donatello would blame all the telekinetic energy crackling around the lab.
Lights flashed. The cylinder expanded to Donatello's height. It stretched into energy, forming a rectangular portal that swirled dark blue.
"Well," Raphael muttered, "I don't think we were expecting any of that."
Michelangelo half-turned to the lab doors when a burst of light shot out and wrapped around his waist. "Ah, shit."
Three more bursts, like arms of energy, enfolded the others.
"Oh, yay," Donnie muttered, "adventure time."
The last thing they saw was Gaia and Splinter in the doorway, looking horrified, and then darkness.
The darkness became blue, and more blue, and they found themselves tumbling, shoved through a doorway, and painfully deposited on a floor. A collective "OW!" rumbled through the pile of limbs and shells.
"Nggh…" Raph opened one eye, and saw blurry tables piled with junk. "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas."
"Still New York, actually," a voice said, slightly echoing. "Still the lair, in fact. Just our lair. You must be new. We've already met all our other dimensional counterparts."
As the turtles rolled off each other and stood up, they found themselves staring at Donatello. Large, dark, very solid and muscular Donatello with gray-green eyes. He stood a head taller than Donnie. His voice was lower pitched, but the purple eye mask and bo staff on his back did it.
"Ohh, you have got to be kidding," Donnie mumbled.
Big Don blinked and looked them up and down. "I'm really, really not. Hi, kids. Welcome to my lab."
Raph was still adjusting to the odd lighting, Leo was very carefully looking around, and Mikey was uncharacteristically quiet, hands clasped at his waist.
"Don?" a voice called. "What was all that noise? You didn't open another dimensional portal, did you?"
"Nah, but they did."
And there was Leonardo, same height as Donatello, with even more muscle, streamlined, with hazel eyes. He merely looked at the new arrivals, his expression neutral.
"Ooh!" a cheerful voice called out, "what'd we miss?" And Michelangelo and Raphael were there, Raphael an inch or two taller with Michelangelo a few inches shorter, muscles long and slender, the musculature of a gymnast, an athlete. Raphael was so powerfully bulky he could have benched pressed all four of them. His amber-gold eyes widened, then narrowed, then rolled. "Really?" he muttered. "Really? Weren't we done with this after all those Shedders?" and the Brooklyn accent was strong.
Michelangelo, grinning like it was everyone's birthday, patted his shoulder and winked. "Come on, Raphie, it'll be fun," and his deep blue eyes sparkled. "At least we're not fighting for our lives again."
Big Leo merely folded his arms and stared straight into Leo's sapphire eyes, which stared back unblinkingly.
"You," Big Leo said in a rich voice, "have some explaining to do."
"Indeed," and Master Splinter was there, shorter than any of the host counterparts, fur wild and gray. "Yet I sense no harmful intent. Our guests are confused, and frustrated. Perhaps we should all sit down in the main room and share our stories."
Mikey's head snapped up, baby blue eyes sparkling, and his hands went from white-knuckled to waving. "I love stories!"
Everyone turned to him.
"Awww!" Big Mike grinned even wider, "He's adorable!" And Mikey grinned sunnily.
Everyone else facepalmed.