Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987
Stockmans Times Six
Notes: The characters are not mine (although the concepts of a Platinum Dunes Barney and Vincent are mine) and the story is! ThickerThanLove helped with many plot adjustments and ideas. This crosses over the 1987 cartoon with the Platinum Dunes movies, but it's still told largely from the POV of the characters from the 1987 series, with the Platinum Dunes characters as guest-stars. It's part of my Exit the Fly verse. Baxter is human again and an ally of the Turtles. His brother Barney no longer works for Shredder.
The man's dark hands trembled as he adjusted a knob and pulled a lever on a platform high above Manhattan.
"I'll show you, Brother," he snarled under his breath. "You've overshadowed me for the last time! When you see my achievement, you'll realize that opening a portal to Dimension X was mere child's play. I am the true genius in this family!"
He shook with mounting rage and glowered out into the night sky. Down below, near the ground, the air started to ripple.
"You were always the one everyone noticed. I was always just your twin brother. I was lucky if anyone even realized I had a name other than Baxter Stockman's brother! And you were always so caught up in your fame. You never noticed me either! Now you'll have to notice."
The air rippled more and began to part. Within seconds, a glowing hole had ripped open in the fabric of space-time. Another city was visible through it.
"I've done it!" the man exclaimed. "Look at this, Brother! Look what Barney Stockman has accomplished!"
His mad cackles echoed throughout the city.
On the other side of the world, a troop of Foot Soldiers kept hold of an identical man as they marched down a hall. The man had given up physically struggling, but he was still trying to think of a way out.
"Hey, come on, guys," he pleaded. "Sensei Shredder's off in Dimension X with Commander Krang. You don't have to follow his orders now. I should be back in Manhattan. What's there to do at this Tokyo facility?"
The Foot Soldiers didn't speak. Instead they just walked coldly on.
The man scowled to himself. Maybe he had made a big mistake when he had started working for Shredder. Actually, when he had first signed on at TCRI, he honestly hadn't realized it was a front for the Foot Clan's criminal operations. They wouldn't have let him go even if he had wanted to leave after learning the truth. But really, he hadn't been that bothered once the initial shock had passed. He wanted recognition and greatness, and if that came by taking part in experiments that were not generally considered aboveboard, oh well.
Now, however, he was starting to rethink that attitude. Maybe his brother Barney had had the right idea by trying to stay relatively more honest. What had these criminal ventures gotten him except betrayal and obscurity? No one would know him here.
One of the Foot Soldiers went out ahead and opened a door to a laboratory. The others shoved the man in and locked the door after him.
He had fallen to his knees. He straightened, staring around the room. "Oh wow," he murmured. "Maybe this won't be so bad after all."
"Hello!" came a chirpy voice.
The man went stiff. "Who said that?!"
"I did." Across the room, a face appeared on a computer screen. "I am V.I. -2152. And you must be Baxter Stockman. They told me you were coming. Let's be friends, shall we?"
For a moment the man stared. Then a grin split his features. "You're incredible! What are you?" He got up and went over, examining the computer from all angles.
"I'm an alien computer. I crashlanded here in Tokyo several hundred years ago and was just recently unearthed by the Foot Clan. They want you to figure out what makes me tick."
"Oh yeah?" Baxter frowned. "What do they want to do with you?"
"I'm not sure. I guess they want use of my services."
Baxter scowled now. "I've seen how these people make use of services. I gave them everything they asked for and Sensei Shredder just banished me here after promising me a place next to him in greatness!"
"I wouldn't like that," the computer frowned.
"Who would?" Baxter returned.
"I have an idea," the computer said. "Why don't we make a break for it?"
Baxter's eyes glinted. "I've gotta admit, that sounds promising. But they'll always be on our tail. . . ."
"I can input new orders in the system," the computer grinned. "They won't come after us."
"Alright!" Baxter rubbed his hands together. "Let's do it. But . . . hey, how am I gonna get you out of here?"
"I'll tell you," said the computer. "Listen carefully."
Baxter sat upright in bed, wide awake, bewildered and confused. "What was that?" he murmured. "What on Earth?"
He collected his glasses from the nightstand and shuffled out of bed, heading for the door. Maybe Vincent was up late watching television and somehow some of it leaked into Baxter's dreams. He had experienced that happening occasionally when falling asleep in earshot of a television. Right now, however, he couldn't hear anything.
Barney was coming out of his room when Baxter was coming out of his. They jumped, momentarily startled to see each other. Then Barney grunted and looked away, heading for the stairs.
Baxter trailed after him. "Barney? Why did you wake up?"
"I must have eaten something bizarre at dinner," Barney said flatly. "Maybe we'd better be more careful when letting Vincent experiment with spicy recipes."
Baxter chuckled. "Heartburn?"
"No. Weird dreams." Barney swept his hair away from his face with one hand while starting down the stairs.
Baxter followed him. "I was having strange dreams too," he said. "There were people calling themselves Baxter and Barney Stockman, but they . . . weren't us."
"Big, tall men?" Barney supplied. "Barney opened a portal to somewhere and proclaimed his greatness, saying that Baxter would have to pay attention to him now?"
Baxter stopped walking, stunned. "You dreamed the same thing?!"
Barney turned to face him, deeply frowning. "And the Baxter was in Tokyo and met a Vincent there?"
Baxter nodded. "I don't understand," he breathed. "Barney, why . . . why would we dream such a thing?"
"I'm more troubled as to why we'd both dream it," Barney growled. "I've heard of some twins having such a deep bond that they can sense what's happening to each other, but that's never been us."
"Maybe we should get Splinter's advice?" Baxter suggested.
Before Barney could reply, Vincent rushed over to them from the living room, eyes wide. "Baxter! Barney! Something bizarre is happening in town!"
"Something bizarre is happening in this house," Barney retorted. "What did you discover?"
"Look!" Vincent rushed back into the living room, his human brothers following. On the screen, April was standing in front of a glowing hole in space.
"This is April O'Neil, reporting live from the sight of an extremely odd event," she intoned. "Thirty minutes ago, this portal opened in Midtown. It appears to lead to another New York City."
"Another New York City?" Barney scoffed. His eyes widened. "A parallel universe?!"
He and Baxter stared at each other.
"The other you and me," Baxter gasped. "Maybe they're from over there!"
"What other you and you?" Vincent blinked.
"A strange dream we both had," Baxter said. "There was another you as well."
"What's going on?!" Vernon suddenly wailed offscreen. He was holding the camera, which was starting to shake violently.
April clenched her teeth. "Vernon!" she hissed. "We're on the air!" But then she saw what had sent Vernon into such a state.
Four new Turtles were emerging from inside the portal. Four hulking, giant Turtles, towering over both of them.
"Yo!" said the new Michelangelo with a cheery wave. "What's up, boyos?"
The camera crashed to the street and pointed upward at the Turtles.
"Ooops," said Michelangelo as he leaned over it. "Dude's fainted."
"What, he ain't never seen 6-foot-tall talking Turtles before?" sneered the new Raphael.
April was gaping at them, momentarily at a loss for words. When she finally found her voice, she said, "Michelangelo? Raphael?"
"That's us!" Michelangelo chirped. "Although we usually go by Mikey and Raph." He blinked at April with curiosity. "So, where are we and who are you? Donnie figured this is a parallel dimension, with other versions of everybody."
"It . . . it is, I guess," April stammered. "I'm April O'Neil. . . ."
"Awesome!" Mikey exclaimed, pumping the air with a fist. "You're just as gorgeous as the April in our world! Well . . . almost." If a Turtle could blush, he was doing it.
April smiled in gentle amusement. "Thanks a lot," she remarked.
"So who's the idiot on the ground?" Raph asked.
"That's Vernon Fenwick," April said.
"Oh great." Raph rolled his eyes. "Your Vern is a total wimp!"
"Yours isn't?" April quipped.
"Well . . . not all the time," said Mikey.
"Actually, he's helped us quite a lot," the new Leonardo finally interjected.
April finally smiled a bit. "Ours has been starting to, thanks to Baxter Stockman's friendship and guidance."
All four Turtles stared at her.
"Come again?" Raph said at last.
"Baxter Stockman's a good guy?" Mikey added.
"Yes," April said slowly. "Oh . . . he still isn't, in your world?"
"You could say that," Leo nodded.
"We don't even know where he is," Donnie spoke up. "He's 'at large.'"
"Meanwhile, Krang froze Shredder and they're both in Dimension X," Mikey chirped.
"Krang froze Shredder?" April stared. "They don't work together?"
"Well, they sure don't anymore, unless Krang unthawed him or something," Mikey shrugged.
On the ground, Vernon finally stirred. "Oh . . . what happened?" he moaned.
Raph smirked and leaned down. "Boo."
Vernon shrieked and fainted again. April slapped her forehead.
"Raph, that wasn't very nice," Leo scolded.
"No, but it was funny," Raph shot back.
Barney didn't wait to see more. He rushed for the front door.
"I'm going to call the Turtles," Baxter said. He reached for his Turtle-Comm, but it wasn't there. He paused and blinked.
Vincent was regarding them in amusement, his hands on his hips. "Don't you think maybe you should both change into day clothes first?"
Barney scowled and turned to head back to the stairs. Chuckling in embarrassment, Baxter rubbed the back of his neck and followed.
Krang was wide-awake, staring at the transdimensional screen as April chatted live with the new Turtles. "Hmm," he mused with the stroke of a tentacle.
"What is it, Krang?" Shredder appeared in the doorway and then gasped. "What happened to the Turtles?! They're enormous!"
"Oh, these aren't our Turtles," Krang retorted impatiently. "You see that rift in the air? They came through that. Somebody opened a portal between dimensions, and it's staying open!"
Shredder ran over to the screen. "There's more Turtles in other dimensions?!" His voice was thick with horror.
"Yes, and now we've got eight of them here," Krang said. "But they just said something interesting. Apparently I wouldn't put up with you in the other dimension." He laughed. "You're an ice sculpture on the other Technodrome!"
Shredder turned and glowered at him, his fists tightly clenched. "Don't get any ideas, Krang!" he snarled.
"Oh, would I do that?" Krang said in an all-too-innocent tone. "I have to admit, it's tempting."
Shredder was not amused, but he opted not to pursue the topic further. "Four Turtles are bad enough!" he boomed. "We can't possibly deal with eight!"
"So we'll have to find a way to send them back through the portal," Krang said, unconcerned. "And find out who opened it in the first place. Maybe if we're lucky, we can send all eight Turtles into the other dimension. Shredder, you, Bebop, and Rocksteady are going to go there, pronto!"
"And risk the other Krang freezing me too?!" Shredder exclaimed.
"Don't tell me you're afraid," Krang taunted with a grin.
"Well . . . yes!" Shredder snapped.
"The other me is in Dimension X," Krang giggled. "Now get going!"
Shredder stormed off, muttering to himself.
Donatello was both sleepy and bewildered when his Turtle-Comm went off in the middle of the night. "Yeah, what is it, Baxter?" he slurred.
"Donatello, I'm sorry, but you'll have to wake up," Baxter told him. "A portal opened in Midtown and it leads to a parallel New York City. The four Turtles of that world just came through and are talking to April!"
Donatello stared at him. "I must be dreaming," he said. "I thought you just said there's a parallel world with more of us in it."
"It's true!" Baxter exclaimed impatiently. "Turn on your television and look!"
"Okay, okay." Donatello got up and shuffled into the living room. One glance at the picture snapped him awake and sent him calling for the others. "Guys! Guys! You've gotta come and see this!"
The other Turtles fell out of bed in shock. Soon, they and Splinter were hurrying into the living room in varying states of irritation and confusion.
"Alright, Donatello, this had better be good," Raphael growled. "I was just . . . what the heck?!"
"Check it out!" Michelangelo gasped. "It's other uses!"
"Impossible," Leonardo exclaimed. "How?!"
"Baxter said they're from a parallel universe," Donatello said. "Come on, let's get down there and meet them!"
"I would like to come with you, my sons," Splinter spoke. "It isn't every day that one meets other versions of his students."
"Great," Leonardo said. "We'll all go. Tell Baxter we'll be there soon!"
"I heard," Baxter told him.
April was still talking with the new Turtles when a man curiously wandered out of the portal. "Uh . . . did I take a wrong turn somewhere?" he blinked.
"Oh hey, Vern," Raph greeted. "You just walked into another dimension. And you're just in time to meet your other self." He pointed to Vernon on the ground.
"Huh?" Vern stared.
Vernon was just reviving for the second time. "Now what?" he groaned, holding a hand to his head as he stared at the newcomer. "Who are you?"
"Vern 'The Falcon' Fenwick," Vern replied, folding his arms. "Are you really me?"
"What?!" Vernon leaped to his feet. "I most certainly am not you! I'm me!"
"Oh brother," April said in dismay. "Say, is your Vernon egotistical?"
"Could we tell you stories," Raph smirked.
"Not to mention our April," Mikey said. "Wow, could she tell you stories!"
"Great," April muttered. "And now we've got two of them."
As the Vernons continued to argue, Barney drove up in his Cadillac and the trio of brothers got out. "Hello?" Baxter said slowly, uncertainly.
Everyone whipped around. "Hey!" Mikey grinned, holding up both hands in a welcoming gesture. "So . . . who are you guys?"
"Baxter, Barney, and Vincent Stockman," April introduced with a smile.
"No way," Raph blinked. "You're Baxter Stockman?!"
"But Baxter Stockman is tall," Mikey said. "And big! You're . . . uh, well, not."
"Because the Baxter Stockman in this world is not tall or big," Baxter retorted.
"And Baxter Stockman doesn't have long, shaggy, light brown hair," Raph said. "Or a twin brother. Or a . . . what the heck are you?" He stared at Vincent, who folded his arms in defiance.
"I'm a computer," Vincent said flatly. "With a body."
"Well, ask a stupid question," Raph muttered.
"Vincent is an alien computer," Barney said. "And he's alive." There was an edge to his voice that said Don't argue with us on that.
"Vincent wanted to have a more normal life," Baxter said. "Barney built the device that allows him to generate a body for himself."
Mikey strolled forward. "Good for you, bro!" He immediately high-fived Vincent.
Raph was still baffled. "You're really Baxter Stockman?" he demanded again.
Baxter frowned. "Yes, I'm really Baxter Stockman," he snipped. "Would you like to see my birth certificate?"
"Cool it, Raph," Leo said, stepping forward. "We've already seen that things are different in this dimension."
Donnie nodded. "It's the same . . . yet it isn't. That's why it's a parallel universe. It's fascinating, really."
Baxter was troubled. "You said the other me doesn't have a twin brother?" he said to Raph.
"Not that we know of," Leo answered instead.
Baxter looked to Barney before pressing on. "But he does!" he exclaimed. "He has to. You can't have just one Stockman!"
Barney folded his arms. "You should find out if there's a Barney Stockman in your world," he said. "More importantly, you should find out if he's the one who opened this portal."
"Why would he do that?!" Raph snapped.
"To assert himself as the better scientist over the brother who always overshadowed him," Barney said.
The new Turtles exchanged a look.
"Hey, it's worth a try," Mikey said.
Donnie nodded. "It could be very dangerous if this portal stays open," he said.
"What, is it gonna suck the dimensions into each other?" Raph mocked.
"Of course not," Donnie shot back. "This isn't a science-fiction movie! But if it stays open, the villains from each of our worlds might cross over and wreck new havoc in both places!"
That brought dead silence.
"Okay. That's . . . definitely a problem," Raph said at last. "You guys don't want our Foot Clan over here."
"You might rather have our Foot Clan," April said with a weak smile. "They're just robots. At least, the ones we always tangle with are. The real people are only in Japan."
"Robots?" Vern blinked. "That sounds promising."
"But the Technodrome is usually on Earth," Baxter said. "Whenever it gains enough power to move, it's highly dangerous to anything in its path."
"And our Shredder and Krang are dangerous," April said.
"Even though their schemes are usually incredibly bizarre," Barney said.
"So there's pros and cons everywhere," Vern said.
The Turtle Van pulled up at that moment. The big Turtles and Vern turned, staring as the doors opened and their counterparts came out.
"Are you kidding me?!" Raph said in disbelief. He came forward, lightly resting his hand on a lamppost. It bent under his weight. "Whoops." He jerked his hand back.
Raphael stared too. "Okay, now that's scary."
Vern's jaw dropped. "They're so . . . small."
"Whoa . . . mini uses!" Mikey said in awe. He bounded over. "What's up?!"
"Uh . . . hi," Leonardo greeted with an uneasy smile. "Welcome to our . . . dimension."
Michelangelo hurried over to his other self. "Bodacious! You wanna have a combination pizza and get-to-know-you party?!"
Mikey looked at him with utter delight. "Pizza?! You bet!"
"But first," Leonardo interjected, "this is our Splinter."
Splinter nodded and bowed. "Greetings, other Turtles."
Somewhat to Raphael's and Barney's surprise, the new Turtles all sobered and showed complete respect for the Splinter they had only just met. They all bowed in turn.
"It's an honor, Da-er, Master Splinter," Leo said.
"They call their Splinter Dad?" Raphael whispered in amazement and disbelief.
Leonardo smiled. He wasn't sure he could ever picture himself being that informal, but he loved the idea of that level of closeness. "These new Turtles are different from us, but in many ways they're the same," he said. "I think we're going to get along just fine."
The transport module came out of the ground and opened on the other side of the portal. Shredder jumped out, followed by Bebop and Rocksteady.
"This is definitely New York City, alright," Shredder mused. "It doesn't look any different on this side."
"But them Turtles sure do," Bebop gulped. "I wonder what else is different on this side?"
"I wonder if it's possible that you two morons have brains," Shredder said.
They passed by the T.V. Vision store, which was tuned to Channel 6.
"Tonight, the mutant criminals Bebop and Rocksteady have been moved to a maximum security prison upstate," the reporter intoned. "They were recently captured in a large crate by Corrections officer Casey Jones. This is April O'Neil for Channel 6 News."
"Hey, April looks different here," Rocksteady noted. "Her hair's longer and darker."
"And it was too much to hope for that you two could actually be intelligent in any dimension," Shredder grumbled. "Now, where can we go to find out who opened the portal?"
"Krang gave us this tracker thingie," Rocksteady volunteered. "It says we should head this way." He pointed straight ahead.
Shredder and Bebop followed him until they came to a street where, instead of towering buildings, they found what had once been an abandoned platform. Now it was currently in use. Electricity sparked and leaped from a console at the top, where a lone figure was turning a dial and wildly giggling.
"I've done it!" he laughed. "The portal is staying open! Just look at all the different versions of the people here!"
Shredder's eyes glinted. "We've found him!" He approached the bottom of the platform and looked up. "Excuse me . . ."
The man looked down. "Shredder?! . . . Oh, wait, you must be the other Shredder!"
"That's right," Shredder purred. "And who, might I ask, are you? You certainly have reason to be proud of the incredible feat you've performed."
"I do, don't I?" the man giggled. "My name is Barney Stockman, Mr. Shredder. Dr. Barney Stockman."
"What?!" Shredder rocked back in disbelief.
Bebop and Rocksteady were also staring.
"That big guy is Barney?!" Rocksteady exclaimed.
"He don't look anything like our Barney," Bebop said.
"Maybe not, but he certainly acts like him," Shredder said.
"So . . . uh, what you gonna do now, Boss?" Bebop wondered.
"I don't know," Shredder scowled. Louder he said, "The Barney from our dimension betrayed us."
"Oh, you wouldn't have to worry about that with me, Mr. Shredder," the new Barney answered. "I know the Shredder from this world betrayed Baxter, but I would prove my loyalty to you. Then I'd be undeniably the most recognized Stockman brother!"
"The most notorious, perhaps," Shredder grunted. "Honestly, I don't want to take my chances with another Stockman. I've dealt with too many of them already. But I'll tell you what I will do. I want to trap the Turtles from both our dimensions over here. Help me do that and maybe we'll talk."
The new Barney frowned. "It's crazy enough over here with four Turtles," he objected. "Why would I want four more?"
"You're right," Shredder said. "What about if we banished all eight of them to a completely different dimension altogether? After all, you opened this portal. Surely you can open another."
Some reluctance passed through the new Barney's eyes, but it vanished. "Of course I can. I'll make all the correct calculations and the new portal should be ready within 24 hours."
"Splendid!" Shredder exclaimed. "We'll return through the current portal and find a way to lead all eight Turtles here to you as soon as it's ready." He tossed up a comm-link. "Contact us on this when you're ready."
"Of course, Mr. Shredder." The new Barney caught the comm-link and stuck it in his pocket.
Rocksteady and Bebop waited to speak again until they were heading back to the module.
"So what're you gonna talk about with him after he sends the Turtles away?" Bebop asked.
"Nothing," Shredder smirked. "He will have outlived his usefulness by that point. We'll just leave him here to suffer the consequences of removing this dimension's Turtle heroes and go home."
"Gee." Bebop frowned. "That don't seem very nice."
"Well, of course it's not very nice!" Shredder snapped. "What do you think we are, The Salvation Army?!"
"It's just that . . . well, I know he ain't our Barney, but he's still a Barney," Bebop said. "I don't like hurting a Barney."
Rocksteady shot him a worried look.
Shredder just threw his hands to the sky. "Why?!" he exclaimed in utter frustration. "Why did that traitorous vermin have to worm his way into my henchmutant's conscience?!" Then, his eyes darkening, he looked back to Bebop. "If you do anything to warn or help this Barney, so help me, Bebop, you're going to get it!"
"I won't, Boss. Honest!" Bebop insisted.
"Why is it that I don't quite believe you?" Shredder muttered.
The groups gathered in April's apartment, a place they could all feel good about, and exchanged stories and explanations about their dimensions. The tales continued long into the night, the differences surprising and confusing them more than once as they talked.
"I never met a Turtle wearing glasses before," Donatello remarked presently.
"I invented them myself," Donnie said proudly. "They don't really make Turtle-sized glasses."
"Very impressive," Barney acknowledged.
The human Stockmans and the two Donatellos soon fell into a scientific discussion that left everyone else staring blankly at all the strange terms.
"Oh dear." Baxter finally looked around, seeing the baffled expressions.
"Uh, do you think we could have all that again, but in English this time?" Michelangelo said.
"We were merely discussing the types of processes this new Donatello has discovered and how he has used them," Barney said.
"Oh. Of course," Leonardo said, still obviously confused.
Raph had other things on his mind. "So your Splinter is really a guy turned into a rat?" he blinked.
"And yours learned ninjitsu from a book?!" Raphael shot back.
"Both of our Splinters are very good teachers," Leo said.
"And fathers," Leonardo added. "I don't think the rest really matters."
". . . Yeah, I guess." Raph leaned back. "It just sounds weird to think of Splinter as a human."
"I must admit, I feel that my identity as Hamato Yoshi is all but gone," Splinter said. "I consider myself Splinter now."
"What if there was one of those retro-mutagen thingies you could use?" Raph asked. "Wouldn't you wanna take the chance to be human again?"
"I . . . don't know," Splinter said slowly. "I have certainly thought long and hard about that very question, especially since Barney now has the knowledge and capabilities to create such devices. But I worry whether I would still be able to live down here with my Turtles if I were human again."
"I don't know why not, Master," Leonardo said kindly. "After all, we all lived down here before our mutations."
"That is true," Splinter acknowledged. "Well, we shall wait and see if the time ever comes."
"I guess you're sure glad to be human again," Raph said to Baxter.
"Oh yes," Baxter said. "I'm glad for your Baxter that he hasn't had such an experience. I hope he won't in the future."
"Yeah. We wouldn't wanna deal with a human-sized fly," Raph grunted.
"Baxter's mutation wasn't of the normal variety," Vincent spoke up. "He was actually fused with a fly. It was taking over his mind."
"Well, that's not pleasant," Raph said.
"Dude, that sounds awful," Mikey said. "But you're okay now, right?"
"Yes," Baxter smiled at him. Mikey wasn't Michelangelo, but Baxter could see the same kindness and compassion there.
"It sounds like you did a lot of crummy stuff in your right mind too," Raph remarked.
Baxter flinched. "I'm still troubled by what I tried to help Shredder do," he said. "I was thinking the other day that maybe I'd fallen so far that I just didn't care if he eliminated the Turtles."
"I've been thinking about it too," Vincent said, "and I believe that it's the same as what happened when you tried to take revenge on Barney. You thought you wanted it, but when it happened and you saw how Barney was actually suffering, you couldn't bear it. I think that if the Turtles had really been killed by one of Shredder's schemes, you would have been shaken to the core, even if you thought you didn't care."
Baxter managed a weak smile. "That's a nice thought. I'd like to believe that." He paused. "I remember that when it looked like their deaths would be imminent after we found the first fragment of the Eye of Sarnoth, I conveniently made myself scarce. I didn't want to watch."
"I remember that too," Leonardo said. "And there's something I've always wondered about that time. How did all the buildings return to normal? You and Shredder escaped with the fragment and the buildings were still shrunk. We didn't know what to do. But the next day, they were all in their proper places in the city and they were normal-sized again."
"I theorized that maybe the effect wore off after a while," Donatello said. "But that wouldn't explain how they all got back to where they belonged. April took them with her to give to the police."
"Well . . ." Baxter ducked his head. "The truth is that late that night, I stole away with the fragment and reversed its effect on all the buildings. I told myself I was doing it to show what a genius I was, but of course, it didn't really take a great deal of intellect to use the fragment."
"And that's how the fragment got lost!" Leonardo realized.
"Yes," Baxter admitted. "The final building was near the carnival. Someone saw me use the fragment on the building but misunderstood what I was doing. They chased me and I panicked. I ended up tripping and losing the fragment somewhere on the carnival grounds. I didn't realize it was gone until I got back to the hideout. Then I had to make up a story to tell Shredder about what happened to it. He believed me. And he never suspected I was the one who fixed the buildings. He assumed that you or someone else did it after finding the fragment."
"Totally gnarly," Michelangelo exclaimed. "So you were secretly helping out even back then, Bud!"
"I certainly didn't think of it like that," Baxter sniffed. He sighed. "But I guess you're right."
"Whoa. You're sure a lot different from the Baxter in our world," Mikey said.
"Maybe not, from what you've told us," Baxter said. "He craves recognition too."
"And his Barney feels overshadowed and neglected," Barney frowned. "Somehow we have to convince him to close the portal before something disastrous happens."
Everyone looked to him. "We don't even know there is a Barney in our world," Leo said. "Yet you're talking as though you know there's one."
Barney looked caught. ". . . I'm just speculating on what he might be like," he said harshly.
"But you're so insistent that he's the one who opened the portal," Leo said.
"You know something." Raph glowered at him.
Baxter decided to come to Barney's rescue. "The truth is that we both had a strange dream tonight," he explained. "We saw the other Barney open the portal. We also saw the other me discover a Vincent at a Tokyo Foot Clan base. Naturally we weren't sure what to make of it. That is, not until we saw April's news story about the portal."
Raph scowled. "I'm not big on this vision stuff."
"Me either, but our Master Splinter believes in it," Donnie said.
"As do I," Splinter said, "and I would venture to guess that you both had this dream not only because of the imminent discovery of the other dimension, but because you may be needed to correct the problem."
Barney was not pleased. "What could we do about it?" he frowned. "If the other Barney is anything like I was, it could take months to get through to him."
"And I doubt either he or the other me would listen to other dimensional versions of themselves," Baxter said.
"Perhaps not, but I believe you must try, my friends," Splinter said. "Who better to understand the pain and sorrow they may be feeling?"
". . . I can't argue with that," Barney conceded.
"And I doubt there's any hope of sleep any more tonight," Baxter said.
"So we're going through the portal?" Raphael wondered.
Leonardo nodded. "Let's do it!" He got to his feet.
Everyone else stood as well.
"I wonder if I'll meet the other April O'Neil," April commented.
"Probably," Mikey said. "She's totally chill. You'll like her."
"I wonder if she'll like me," April muttered.
Armed with a new tracker courtesy of Donatello, the group stepped into the other New York City and soon followed the device to the same platform Shredder had visited. The other Barney was still there, frantically typing into a computer and looking over at another monitor's feed.
Barney froze. "It's the same man from the dream," he said. Not that he hadn't been expecting as much, but it was still startling to realize the dream actually did mean something.
Baxter gave him a weak and worried smile. "Shall we?"
Barney nodded and stepped forward. ". . . Excuse me . . . uh . . . Doctor."
The other Barney started and peered over the edge of the platform. "Who are you?" he asked warily.
"Barney Stockman." Barney folded his arms. "And my brother Baxter."
"Oh no. Seriously?!" The other Barney stared. "You pipsqueaks are us in the other dimension?!"
"Hey, watch it, Dude. There's no need to be insulting," Michelangelo spoke up.
"Yeah," Mikey added. "We don't care that the other uses are fun size."
"Speak for yourself," Raph grunted.
Raphael glowered at him. "You want to say that again?" he said, reaching for a sai.
"Raphael, let it go," Donatello hissed.
"Anyway," Barney cut in, touched by the support but wanting to get back to the point, "we want to talk with you about what you've done in bridging our worlds. It's . . . undeniably a great achievement. But it could also be very dangerous."
"How so?" the other Barney retorted.
"It allows the villains from both worlds to freely pass between them," Baxter said. "They could wreak untold havoc on both dimensions this way. They might even join forces."
The other Barney looked away, uncomfortable now. ". . . Why are you two here together anyway?" he asked. His voice had lowered.
"Do you mean, why are we not estranged?" Barney supplied.
"That's exactly what I mean," was the reply. "Baxter and I . . . we've never got along. He was always more loved than me. Nobody ever noticed Barney Stockman, except to say that I was Baxter's brother. And I know it sounds awful, but there were so many times I wished I wasn't."
Baxter and Barney exchanged a look. This Barney was an odd mixture. He felt much like Barney had, yet he was more quiet and subdued like Baxter and could sometimes be blunt like both of them.
"We were estranged for most of our lives," Baxter said at last. "And I believe we're older than you. We've only started to behave like a real family in the last several months."
"It's a very long story," Barney said. "And we'd rather not yell the whole thing. Why don't you come down from there and we'll talk normally?"
A hesitation. "Why don't you come up here? Just the two of you, though. No one else."
"Alright," Barney agreed. "But Vincent is also a big part of the story." He indicated Vincent, who stepped forward.
The other Barney stared. "Oh wow. What I wouldn't give to have a computer like you! They must be thrilled."
"I'm their brother, not their computer," Vincent said.
"Brother?!" The other Barney's jaw dropped.
Baxter chuckled. "As Barney says, it's a long story."
"Okay, all three of you come up," the other Barney said. "No Turtles."
"Aww, I feel so much love," Raphael snorted, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
It was indeed a long story. Day began to break as it was shared. But while the other Barney listened and seemed intrigued, by the end he was saddened and discouraged.
"My brother would never be interested in reuniting with me like that," he said bitterly. "He barely notices I'm alive, same as everybody else."
"Maybe that's only the way it appears," Baxter said. "Barney and I misunderstood each other so many times and in so many ways."
"I know I'm not wrong," the other Barney replied. He stood. "The only way I can get recognition is by besting him at something." His voice began to climb. "So this portal stays open! I don't care what comes in or goes out! Do you understand me?!"
"Perfectly." Barney got up as well. "But I wonder if you'll regret your stubbornness someday. Most assuredly, I regret mine."
"Well, I'm not you!" the other Barney spat. "Get down now! All of you! Go back to your picture-perfect dimension where brothers can really act like family! I don't want to hear about it again!" He picked up a nearby wrench and waved it at them.
Baxter flinched. This Barney was clearly showing his temper now, and Baxter was more than a little intimidated.
Barney held his ground. "Would you really hit one of us?" he said. "Or your own brother? Could you live with yourself if you did?"
The other Barney stiffened, Barney's tale of having struck Baxter flooding back into his mind. He set the wrench down. "Go on," he said, subdued again now. "Get out of here."
The trio slowly climbed down, making their way to where the Turtles and the others were waiting.
"Well, that went well," Raphael said dryly. "I thought maybe you actually had him there for a while."
"Major bummer," Michelangelo said sympathetically.
Baxter sighed, the exhaustion of being awake so long now showing in his eyes. "I knew it wasn't likely to work."
Barney nodded. "The pain in this family runs deep, just like in ours."
"Maybe if we could talk to the other Baxter and let him know how badly his Barney feels," Vincent suggested. "Chances are he doesn't even realize."
"He was planning to escape Tokyo with his Vincent," Baxter said. "Maybe they'll come back here."
"I sure don't know how we'll find them if they don't," Raph said. "But what are we gonna do in the meantime?"
"I've got a gnarly idea," Michelangelo spoke up. "How about we all go to bed?"
"Bed?!" Raph yelled in disbelief. "With all this goin' on?!"
"Works for me," Raphael shrugged.
"It is a good suggestion," Splinter said. "We will need strength to deal with this situation."
"So we'll just let our April know what's going on and she can be on the lookout for Baxter coming back here," Mikey said.
Leo nodded. "Maybe she can put something on the news to get his attention. Then we can all get some sleep until she calls. Or until something else goes wrong. Whichever comes first."
"Very good," Splinter nodded. "And we will let you know if anything new happens on our side of the portal. Farewell for now, new friends."
Goodbyes were exchanged all around and the groups departed for their various homes, leaving the other Barney behind to resume his work on opening another portal.
"I'll show them," he muttered to himself. "I'll show them all!"
But his hands trembled. How he longed for a relationship with his brother like the visiting Stockmans had! That would never come to pass for them. He would have to be content with worldwide recognition instead.
Was he really alright with getting it by banishing the Turtles, though? He hadn't expected them to be friends with the other dimensional Stockmans. He had felt rather slimy not mentioning anything about his plans after they had revealed their friendships with the Turtles. And regardless, he had never done anything like that in his life. His brother was more the one to do questionable things, while he had tried to be honest and proper. But that had never got him anywhere and he was sick of it. Or so he told himself.
"Once I go through with this, there's no going back," he muttered. "But . . . they won't be hurt or anything like that. . . . They'll just have to be in a new home. . . ."
That didn't sound great for them either. Still, he kept working anyway. He had given his word to Shredder.
He shouldn't have, though, should he?
"That was brilliant, Baxter. You got us out of there with ease."
"I know," Baxter giggled. "But hey, I never could have got you out too if you hadn't changed our orders in the system."
"Not to mention I told you how to transfer me to a nice, portable laptop. So where are we going, Buddy Boy?"
"I don't know," Baxter mused. "Back to Manhattan, I hope. Or we could just run away. I don't feel all that loyal to the Foot Clan after Sensei Shredder turned against me."
"Then why are you still calling him 'Sensei' Shredder?"
"You're right. Force of habit, I guess."
". . . Tell me, do you have a twin brother?"
"Yeah. Barney. Why?"
"I'm getting a news report that someone's opened a portal between two New York Cities. A reporter named April O'Neil says it's Barney Stockman."
"What the heck?! Why would Barney do a thing like that?!"
"Maybe we should go to Manhattan and find out?"
"Let's do that."
". . . Only aren't you wanted in New York City for crimes? April O'Neil also just said something about that."
Baxter ground to a halt. "Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I heard about it on the flight." He shook his head. "I can't let that stop me. . . . I need to find out why Barney's doing this. He was always the quiet one. I never thought he'd try something like this."
"Maybe he wants to live up to you?"
"Nah. . . . Barney wouldn't want that. . . . I don't think. . . . Come on, we're going to New York."
Again Baxter snapped awake. He slumped back into the bed with a groan as reality processed. "More dreams about the other me. . . ." He ran a hand into his hair. "It sounds like he's coming. . . ."
He frowned. The other him was so much more outgoing. It was strange. But neither of them had seemed to understand their Barneys' feelings. He hadn't realized how his Barney loved him, while his counterpart seemed to have no idea that his Barney was hurting. And Barney the quiet one? That was outlandish to picture. Yet when they had met the other Barney, he had seemed to be more subdued at times. But like Barney here, he had a vicious anger that bubbled right under the surface.
Baxter rolled onto his side. "I wonder if we could arrange immunity for the other me if he would agree to turn state's evidence about the Foot Clan," he mumbled into his pillow. It seemed worth a try, at least. The other Stockmans would probably have a much easier time reuniting if one or both of them weren't in prison.
He wondered a bit if he was really processing any of this-another dimension, another him, another Barney . . . other Turtles. . . . It was so much to take in, yet he almost felt like he had accepted it fairly quickly. And Barney seemed to understand his counterpart fairly well, which was an encouraging thing. That poor man seemed to need all the understanding he could get.
He closed his eyes, but sleep didn't seem about to come back. After a few minutes he sat up. He might as well fix a late breakfast.
He wasn't altogether surprised to discover Barney and Vincent already downstairs in the kitchen. Barney was slumped over the island, looking exhausted. Vincent was fairly bright-eyed, or he would be, if he wasn't regarding Barney sympathetically and in concern.
"Hi, Baxter," Vincent greeted.
"Hello." Baxter sat down on Barney's other side. "Barney? Are you alright?"
Barney slowly looked up. "Are you?" he retorted. "Meeting that other Barney . . . dredged up so many unpleasant memories for me. Didn't it for you?"
Baxter sighed. "If I'm to be honest, yes, it did."
"It was like the past all over again. I was seeing myself from the outside looking in. I felt bad for him, me, however you want to say it, but I was cringing to think of you hearing what he said. And I was angry for some of his, my thoughts. I guess for him it makes more sense if he really was neglected, but I had no excuse." Barney gripped his arms.
Baxter hesitated. ". . . You used to wish you weren't my brother, didn't you?" he said softly.
Vincent gave him a sad look.
"Yes, I wished that," Barney admitted. "Worse, in my darkest moments, I . . ." He trailed off. "I can't say it."
"You wished I didn't exist at all?" Baxter still spoke softly. "I suspected when you sent me that angry email when Mother wanted to see you."
Barney stiffened. "No," he said. "No, that isn't it, exactly. . . ." He looked up. "But I wondered why there had to be twins. I thought of how it was said that twins are genetically the same person and I wondered why there had to be two of us. Our parents only wanted one, so why . . ." He stopped again.
"Oh Barney. . . ." Baxter reached for his brother, but stopped, not sure if he should.
"But twins aren't the same person," Barney continued. "They're even discovering now that the DNA of identical twins isn't entirely identical. And the reason why there were twins in this case . . . well, only God knows for sure. Obviously we both needed life, and perhaps we were born to the same family and as twins because we needed each other so much, especially with the way our parents acted. But I was too angry and hateful to realize. And I broke your heart over and over." He shook his head. "You would have been happier somewhere else, in a different family."
"I wouldn't want to have been born somewhere else," Baxter said.
Barney stared at him in disbelief.
"Yes, you hurt me. We both know that. But we're finally discovering what's it like to be a family. And if you and I hadn't been brothers, would you have ever met Vincent? Would I have ever met Vincent?" Baxter shuddered. "Everything we went through brought us to this moment right here. And I wouldn't trade that for a happy childhood or a family that wasn't dysfunctional. Never!"
"I believe you're right that we were supposed to be brothers, Barney," Baxter continued. "And you may be right as to why. I'm sure that was part of it. And God probably also knew how much we would grow and learn from being brothers, even though that brought its own share of problems. I'm sure He knew as well that Vincent was supposed to be part of our family too, and how we would all help each other."
"That's amazing to think about," Vincent finally spoke. He had stayed quiet to let them work this problem out themselves, and he was proud and pleased with the results.
"It sounds almost too amazing to think about," Barney remarked. "And yet I've wanted to believe that God is mindful of Vincent."
"I can't believe He isn't," Baxter said.
"I go back and forth on it," Barney said. "When it comes right down to it, you're right, I can't believe it either. But then I wonder if He would really see Vincent as we do."
"I know a lot of Earth priests would probably say He wouldn't," Vincent mused. "But I believe He would. I'm not an inanimate object. You realize it, and if God understands everything, He would realize it too."
Barney finally nodded. "That makes sense." He straightened.
"Do you feel any better, Barney?" Baxter asked.
"Some." Barney half-turned, leaning on the counter with one elbow. "But I still don't know that we're going to be able to help those other Stockmans."
Baxter gave a weak smile. "Maybe not. But we have to try, not just for their sakes, but for ourselves and our friends. The portal must be closed."
"I know." Barney scowled. "But I hate barging into other people's business, even if in this case it's something that's our business as well because of the possible danger that could result."
"In a sense, I suppose it's our business too simply because they are our counterparts," Baxter said. "We finally figured out how to start being a family and it would be wonderful if we could share that with this other you and I."
"It would," Barney consented.
"Well," Vincent said, "organic beings need strength to deal with this problem. Why don't I make brunch?"
Baxter smiled. "I was coming down to do that, actually. I'll help."
Barney started to get up. "I want to get my mind on something else. I'll help too."
"It doesn't take three beings to make a small meal," Vincent said. But he didn't begrudge them. It would be good for Barney to be able to think about something else for a while. And it was nice for them to all work together, even if it was for something as simple as a meal.
The Turtles were also eating.
"Can you believe there's really another world with other Turtles?" Raphael scoffed. "I saw them and it's still hard to think of them as us. That other me is so angry all the time."
"And seriously strong," Michelangelo shuddered. "Did you scope out when he accidentally bent that lamppost? Man, you know, I bet he could bust right through the Technodrome's hull, no explosives needed!"
"Maybe," Raphael shrugged. "I don't know. The whole thing creeps me out big time."
"I think it's kinda gnarly," Michelangelo said.
"Scientifically, it's fascinating," Donatello spoke up.
"They're still Turtles like us," Leonardo said. "I think there's more similarities than differences."
"You know, we have it easy with you," Raphael said. "That other Leonardo acts like he's a military general or something. Remind me never to complain about you lightening up again."
"I'd love to," Leonardo said.
"Leonardo used to be kind of like that," Donatello said. "He did lighten up. Theirs probably will too."
"And that other Barney." Michelangelo frowned. "Man, I feel sorry for him."
"He started this whole mess in the first place," Raphael said with a roll of his eyes. "And apparently just to get recognition. It took ages for me to feel better about our Barney. Don't expect me to feel bad for this one."
"I think he's calling out to his brother," Michelangelo said. "He wants his Baxter's attention and he thinks that's the only way he's gonna get it."
"Oh boo-hoo," Raphael retorted.
"I believe Michelangelo isn't far from the truth," Splinter declared as he entered the room. "That is close to the impression I had while observing the other Barney."
"So now we've got to try to help these other Stockmans find brotherhood or something?" Raphael sighed.
"If we do not, it may mean disaster for both our worlds," Splinter said. "I fear that only two things will cause the portal to close."
"Well, one would be if the other Baxter satisfactorily acknowledges his Barney, I guess," Raphael said.
"What's the other thing, Sensei?" Leonardo asked.
Splinter sighed. "If the other Barney is hurt or killed and someone else can hence get to his controls."
Somberness swept over the group, broken only by Michelangelo. "But we can't let that happen! Sure, he's doing something wrong, but he doesn't deserve to die for it!"
"Then we must hope and pray the other Baxter will return," Splinter said.
When April had showered and readied herself for the day's work, she wasn't expecting for the doorbell to suddenly ring and for her to find the other Vernon standing outside on the mat. "Um . . . hello," she greeted in surprise.
"Hi." Vern shifted. "Hey, I was just in the neighborhood and wondering if you were free to, I don't know, grab a bagel or something."
April regarded him in amusement. "The Vernon here would never ask me to grab a bagel. Even if he did, I don't know if I'd say Yes."
"I'm not the Vernon here," Vern replied.
"I know." April pulled the door shut. "I guess there's time if we hurry. Burne will roar if I'm late for work."
"Burne Thompson." April frowned as they walked to the stairs. "Isn't there a Burne Thompson in your world?"
"Well . . . there's a Thompson, but ours is Bernadette," Vern admitted with a smile.
April stopped walking and stared at him. "Your Burne is a woman?! Oh no." Her eyes twinkled and she found herself laughing. "Burne would really love that!"
"About as much as Bernadette would to discover she's a guy here," Vern smirked.
"Things really are different in your world," April remarked.
"Probably not that much . . . really," Vern said. "Our bosses still scream for stories, the Turtles are around to fight the bad guys. . . . Almost everybody has the same names and at least some similar personality traits. . . . Err . . . are you . . . seeing anyone?"
April shot him a Look. "No. My work is my life. And helping the Turtles. Who has time to see anyone?"
"Oh. I was just wondering. The April in my world isn't too busy for it . . . but you have to be her type. It's not easy to find her type. She seems to like this Casey Jones guy a lot, though."
"Casey Jones?!" Again April was staring. "Total psycho wielding an arsenal of sports equipment to stop the bad guys?!"
Vern looked a little taken-aback. "Well, he likes hockey," he said slowly. "He caught Bebop and Rocksteady with a hockey stick and roller skates. But he's . . . actually a fairly normal guy otherwise."
April shook her head. "Won't the Turtles be bowled over to hear that! I only associate with the Casey Jones here if he's part of a news story. Or if the Turtles need his help. He's just too nuts to be very reliable about anything other than smashing stuff or beating up the bad guys."
"That . . . sounds scary," Vern proclaimed.
"That's putting it mildly." April spoke wryly.
They reached the bottom and stepped out into the cool Spring morning. It looked as though today would be sunny, unlike the string of rainy days they had been having lately.
"So," April said, "did you really cross dimensions just so we could eat bagels?"
"Oh. No, actually." Vern snapped to. "I wanted to tell you that the Baxter Stockman in our world has been located on a flight back to Manhattan. At least, the guy matches his description. And he's got a talking computer with him, like your Baxter and Barney talked about him finding. He must have heard the news story about Barney, just like the Turtles and the other Stockmans hoped he would. But if he gets here . . . er, the other here . . . there's a warrant out on him. How will he even get to talk to Barney to try to get him to close the portal?!"
"Hmm." April pondered. "He probably knows a lot about the Foot Clan. Is there any chance the police over there might grant him immunity if he can stop Barney and agrees to testify against the Foot Clan?"
"I don't know," Vern said slowly. "It's worth a try. I can talk to the woman in charge of the investigation into the Foot Clan. She ended up being . . . surprisingly open-minded about things once we got past her prickly side."
"Then talking to her sounds like the way to go," April said. "I'm sure your April would have told you the same thing." She smiled a bit playfully.
"Yeah, probably," Vern said. "But oh, here's the bagel place. I noticed it when we were coming to your apartment last night." He opened the door and let April go in first before following. "You know, it's kind of a shame that the portal has to be closed."
"It's sure been big news for the last twelve hours or so," April said. "But closing it makes sense. I don't see how it could stay open, not with all the crazy villains we both have."
"You're right," Vern said. "It could cause a lot of trouble. But it's still a shame."
April studied him and slowly nodded. "It is," she mused.
Irma was both surprised and confused when she arrived at work and found Vernon in a very ill mood. He was standing at the water cooler, gulping down a cup of ice water.
"Vernon, what's wrong?" Irma frowned. "I thought you'd be all over the big story in town! For once it's not even dangerous! Well . . . not yet."
Vernon scowled. "Haven't you heard, Irma? There's other people like us on the other side of the portal. Only . . . they're not always . . . like us . . . exactly. . . ." He crumpled the empty paper cup.
". . . Is there another you?" Irma said gently.
"Yes, and he's insufferable!" Vernon sniffed. "April likes him! I'll bet you'd like him too, better than me."
"Hey, sure I might like him, but if he's different, he wouldn't really be you," Irma said. "How is he different?"
"Because . . . because he's not a wimp!" Vernon gestured widely with his arms. "The Turtles in his world are huge, enormous! And I . . . I fainted when I saw them. Twice." His shoulders slumped.
Irma came over and rested her hand on his arm. "Maybe I would have fainted too," she said. "Or at least screamed or something."
Vernon stared down at her in awed amazement. "Do you really mean that?"
"Sure," Irma said. "You know I've got a history of that. But now, why don't we see what's happening about that big news story?"
Vernon started to smile. "Alright."
April and Vern had just left the bagel shop and were heading on to Channel 6 when Vern's phone rang. "Excuse me a minute, it's April," he said. "I mean . . . my April. . . . I mean . . ."
"I get it," April chuckled. "The other April."
"Yeah." Flushing in embarrassed frustration, Vern opened the phone. "O'Neil."
"Vern, where are you?" came the other April's voice. She sounded younger, perhaps.
"In the other dimension," Vern said. "Why?"
"There's some really big news over here. And some really bad news too. Word's on the street that the Foot Clan is planning to attack that other dimension!"
April went sheet-white. "Oh no!" she gasped.
". . . Vern, who was that?"
"Uh . . . the April who lives here," Vern admitted. "We went for bagels."
"I don't believe this. The future of two dimensions is at stake and you're running off to have a date?!"
"It's not like that," Vern stammered. "Look, how reliable is your source?"
"Very reliable," the other April answered. "He's a young kid who got in over his head when he joined the Foot Clan. When he found out about the attack, he escaped."
"So . . . when's this supposed to take place?" Vern asked.
"Tonight, under cover of darkness," was the reply. "Vern, we've got to get that portal closed before then! The police have been looking high and low for the source of it!"
"I know where the source is," Vern said slowly. "The Turtles didn't want the police to know because they were hoping to get the guy to close it back up before he got in trouble."
"They told me that too," the other April said with impatience. "Okay, I'm going to call them and find out what they'll think now. If there's any way to get Barney Stockman to close it up before nightfall, we've got to do it!"
"We all slept late today," Vern said in chagrin. "It's already close to noon!"
"So we'll have to work fast." The call ended.
April was already pulling out her Turtle-Comm. "You bet we'll have to work fast," she declared.
Vern stared at her. "You're April, alright," he commented.
As April called the Turtles, Vern was soon distracted by the sight of the Turtles from his side of the portal wandering down the street.
"I still say this is completely pointless!" Raph growled. "The city's the same; it's the people and the mutants who're different!"
"But from a scientific standpoint, we should log all the differences we find," Donnie insisted.
"And it's just fun anyway," Mikey said.
"We're going to be seen," Leo worried.
"So what?!" Raph shot back. "The Turtles who live here can go wherever they want. People see them all the time!"
"But it isn't the ninja way," Leo persisted.
"Aww, let's just be teenagers for a while, bro," Mikey replied. "There's Vern and Other-April over there!" He waved wildly. "Hey!"
"Hey," Vern said slowly. "April was going to get in touch with you guys. She probably doesn't know you're over here."
"Oh." Mikey blinked. "Yeah, probably not. What's up?"
"Trouble," April proclaimed as she hung up the Turtle-Comm. "We'll tell you about it while we're going to meet the Turtles who live here."
The Turtles, Splinter, and the Stockmans were all alarmed by the news April brought. They mutually opted to cross back to the other dimension with April, Vern, and the other Turtles and be there when the plane landed that the other Baxter was supposed to be on. He was likely coming because of what he had heard about his Barney, but he probably didn't know or suspect why it was happening. Baxter and Barney's hope was that if they could make him understand the reason, he would have a better chance of getting through to his Barney before it was too late.
The airport was crowded with arriving people, but somehow the group managed to find those from the other Baxter's flight and eventually located the other Baxter among them. Baxter hurried forward, deciding he needed to take charge of this situation. "Excuse me, Baxter Stockman?" he greeted.
The other Baxter stared down at him. "Yes. . . . You know me?" For a moment his eyes gleamed, but then they darkened in dismay. "Are you from the police?"
"No, I'm not." Baxter took a deep breath. "I'm also Baxter Stockman, and I'm here because your brother opened a portal that's currently connecting our parallel worlds."
The other Baxter gawked for a brief moment. "I heard that a portal had been opened, but . . . are you serious?! You're Baxter Stockman?!"
"Very serious. And yes, I am." Baxter glanced over his shoulder at the others to make sure they hadn't gotten lost in the crowds. "We need to talk with you about why your Barney is doing this."
"You know?!" The other Baxter frowned. "I don't even know!" He followed Baxter over to the window.
"We spoke with him," Barney said.
"Don't tell me," the other Baxter said. "You must be Barney."
"Yes," Barney nodded.
"Your brother is doing this because he feels like no one notices him or cares about him," Baxter said. "He feels ignored and neglected."
"And unloved," Barney added.
The other Baxter rocked back. "I can't believe that," he objected. "Really? How could he feel that way? He's the one who always wanted to go his own way. I never supported him doing that!"
"Maybe not," Baxter said softly, "but did you tell him? Did you try to talk to him? I mean really talk to him."
The other Baxter hesitated. Part of him wanted to get angry that these complete strangers were challenging his relationship with his brother. The other part, however, realized with a sinking heart that they might just have a point.
". . . We haven't really talked in years, if ever," he admitted.
"Then you need to do it now," Barney said. "Today. Your Barney must be made to understand that the portal has to be closed. The Foot Clan from this world is planning to launch an attack on our world after nightfall."
"Then this is serious, Baxter," the other Vincent spoke up. "You don't want Barney to be responsible for that, do you?"
"No, of course not," the other Baxter frowned.
"Come with us and we'll take you to him," Vincent said.
The other Baxter gaped at him. "You have a body!"
"That's right. And I'm very important to the Baxter and Barney of my world," Vincent said. He looked to his counterpart. "I have every reason to believe that you will be just as important to yours."
"That's wonderful," the other Vincent said in reverent awe. "I finally have a friend. I want to think it will last."
"And maybe someday you'll all be a family together like we are," Barney said. "But that can't happen if that portal stays open."
"I'll come with you," the other Baxter said. "But I don't think Barney will even listen to me. He never has before!"
"We have to try," Baxter said. "If we don't, your Barney may end up hurt."
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" the other Baxter retorted. "But can you tell me more about this incredible body?" He stared Vincent up and down.
"It's a relatively simple process called a solid energy generator," Barney said. "Vincent does the rest. But yes, we can discuss it while we walk."
The other April met the group as they all proceeded to where the other Barney had set up shop. As she approached, Mikey bounded over to her. "April! Have you met the other uses from beyond the portal yet?!"
The other April regarded him in amusement at the greeting. "How could I have met them before when I'm just getting here now?" Then she caught sight of them and she stared in surprise. ". . . Wow. Mikey was right when he said you guys were small."
"We're pretty big in our dimension," Raphael defended.
"Oh, I didn't mean any offense," the other April exclaimed. "It's just . . . surprising after getting used to seeing the Turtles here."
"It would be," Leonardo nodded. "No offense is taken."
"So how did it go, O'Neil?" Vern cut in.
"It's official," the other April said. She looked to the other Baxter. "If you help us about Barney, and agree to testify against the Foot Clan, you'll be granted some leniency. Maybe it won't be complete immunity; you'll have to talk with the District Attorney about that. But your sentence will definitely be reduced in any case."
She received a stunned look in response. "I never would've expected that. I thought I was walking into a long prison sentence by coming back here."
"But you came anyway, for Barney," his Vincent told him.
"That's true, I did," he said quietly.
Baxter smiled. "And I'm sure that will mean a great deal to him."
The other Barney was wildly talking to himself when they approached. "It's finished ahead of schedule!" he exclaimed. "Mr. Shredder is going to be so pleased!"
That sent a wave of horror through everyone.
"Shredder?!" Raph cried. "But he's an ice pop!"
"He must mean our Shredder," Leonardo worried. "He's been here!"
"Oh no," the other Baxter gasped. He ran forward. "Brother, what are you doing?!"
The other Barney looked up with a start, his eyes wide. "So, you've come to see me triumph over you at long last!" he crowed. "Look at what I've done, Brother! I've opened a portal between dimensions! And now I'm about to open another one!"
"Another one?" Mikey gasped. "Come on, isn't one enough?!"
"Where's the other one going to go?" the other Baxter asked.
"You'll find out," his Barney grinned.
Baxter stepped forward. "You mentioned Shredder," he said. "Did he want you to make this other portal?"
"So what if he did?!" the other Barney shot back.
"Hey, if Shred-Head wanted it, it can't be for any good purpose," Raphael declared.
"And chances are, nothing good will come to you if you make it," Leonardo said. "Shredder always betrays those who work for him."
Baxter nodded. "The Shredders in both our dimensions betrayed both me and my counterpart. He will betray you too."
"No!" the other Barney insisted. "And even if he does, at least I will have asserted myself first!"
"At what cost?" Barney replied. "Whatever Shredder wants you to do, it will lead you down a path of darkness. No one knows this better than Baxter and I." His eyes narrowed. "No matter what you believe you're going to gain, it won't be worth it."
Vincent looked to Barney with glowing pride in his eyes.
Raphael shook his head. "This is the guy who wanted to stay with Shred-Head and Krang because he finally felt wanted with them?"
"No, Dude," Michelangelo said. "He isn't. Not anymore."
The other Barney looked slightly conflicted now. But then, scowling, he turned back to his console and pressed more buttons.
"Barney, come on!" his Baxter cried. "I had no idea you felt so left-out and alone!"
"Why would you?!" was the angry reply. "You had your own life to lead! You graduated from college at a crazy early age and went off to forget all about me!"
"I never forgot about you!"
"Really, Baxter?" the other Vincent said softly. "Are you sure?"
"Well . . ." The other Baxter hesitated. "I never wanted to forget. I never meant to forget. . . ."
"But you did!" the other Barney screamed. "And now it's too late!" His finger hovered above one final button. "When I press this, it's gonna be all over for both sets of Turtles!"
"No way!" Michelangelo gasped.
"You're gonna dust us?!" Raph stepped forward in fury. "Okay, that's it!"
"No! I'm not going to kill anyone!" the other Barney shot back. "But you're all going to end up in another dimension, locked away from both this one and the other one!"
"Brother, you don't want to do that!" his Baxter exclaimed. "I found out the hard way that opening portals in space doesn't give you recognition!"
"Maybe without the Turtles around, I'll figure out what can!"
The button was pressed. A vicious wind began to blow as a second portal opened and started to grow in mid-air. Both Leonardos dug their katanas into the ground, while the Raphaels did the same with their sais.
"Turtles!" April wailed in horror. "Splinter!"
"Everyone, hold onto us!" Leo cried.
The other Turtles and Splinter complied.
"This is mondo uncool!" Michelangelo yelped.
"If you think I'm going to have any sympathy for this Barney, you're crazy!" Raphael yelled.
The humans and computers were struggling as well, although not as hard. "What is this?!" the other April burst out. "A dimension that only reacts to mutants?!"
"It must be!" the other Barney exclaimed. "Look at this, Brother! Look at what a scientific breakthrough this is!"
"Barney, you've gotta close it," his Baxter begged. "And the other one too! The Foot Clan is going to invade that other dimension if you don't! You'll be responsible for who knows how much destruction! You never wanted anything like that!"
"And we're not going to wait until nightfall to invade." Shredder's sneering voice brought everyone's attention up. He was standing with a legion of Foot Soldiers. "I've made a new allegiance and we're going to attack right now. Good work, Barney."
"Oh great!" Raphael moaned. "Tin Head's found a new Foot Clan!"
"Bogus!" Michelangelo snapped.
"Barney, please don't do this!" Baxter implored. "The Turtles need to fight off this new threat! And I'm not going to lose my friends without a fight!"
"There's nothing you can do!" the other Barney insisted. "I'm the only one who can shut off the portals!"
"Then do it already!" Raph screamed.
Mikey wavered. "I . . . can't hold on much longer. . . ." He looked to his brothers with sorrow. "I guess . . . we're never gonna finish that hip-hop Christmas album, are we? Unless there's recording equipment over there. . . ."
"Don't say that!" Raph snarled. "Don't you ever say that! There's gotta be a way out of this. Right, Leo?! Donnie?!"
"Right now, unless someone can overpower Barney, he's our only hope," Leo said through gritted teeth.
"Oh great," Raph said in despair.
"And with the way things are right now, the chances of Barney turning to our side are 0000000000000.1!" Donnie added.
"Gee, thanks for that spot of brightness in our lives," Raphael growled. "And I thought Donatello and I were gloomy."
"Well, I don't believe it!" April said. "I believe in feelings and people more than I believe in statistics! And even if this other Barney won't help you, we'll find another way!" She reached for the ladder leading up to the platform and then cried out in pain. A force field had been activated.
Splinter clenched his teeth. "I believe in this Barney as well," he said. "Even though it seems impossible."
At the moment, the other Barney was still observing the mutants' desperate plight. But now something was flickering in his eyes.
"Barney, no," the other Baxter said sadly. "I made some serious mistakes in my life, but I didn't want you to make them too. Or worse ones!" He looked up at his wayward brother. "I thought I'd get arrested if I set foot in Manhattan. Maybe I still will. But I came back anyway, for you!"
His Barney stared down at him. "You . . . you did?" He trembled. "Really?"
"Really. So please, I know you're still good at heart. Probably better than I've been for years. I don't wanna see you do this. And I don't think you really want to do it either. Don't send those Turtles and the rat spinning off space."
At last the other Barney nodded. Too choked up to speak, he pressed the button and the portal closed. All eight Turtles and Splinter dropped to the ground. Their friends ran over in joyous relief.
"I don't believe it," Raph said. "He really did it!"
"I knew you'd do it, Barney!" Mikey exclaimed.
"Da-er, Master Splinter, are you alright?!" Leo asked in concern.
All the Turtles looked to Splinter, who was getting up and dusting himself off.
"Yes, I am quite well," Splinter said. "And relieved to not be discovering what that other dimension is like."
"Bodacious!" Michelangelo grinned. "Brotherly love triumphs again!" He high-fived Baxter, who smiled.
"Yes," he said softly. "They'll have a long way to go, just as Barney and I, but they're on the right path. I believe they'll make it. And I'm so glad the other Barney made the right choice."
"We all are," Vincent said.
"And we have a battle to fight," Leo announced, immediately getting to his feet. "The Foot Clan is here. Turtles, let's go get them."
"We're going to help too," Leonardo declared. "And we're taking our Shredder back with us through the portal. We don't want to leave him here to cause havoc for these people. They just thought they were free of Shredder!"
Shredder sneered. "You won't find it so easy to be rid of me," he said. "This Foot Clan was looking for a new leader. They are willing to accept me since I am another version of their beloved Shredder." He bared his spikes. "So have at it, Turtles."
The humans and Vincent scrambled out of the way as the battle began. But even with eight Turtles and Splinter all fighting full-force, it seemed hopeless. There were just too many Foot Soldiers.
"And I thought the Foot Clan had been disbanded," Raph growled. "At least in New York."
"They must have been hiding underground, just waiting for a reason to come out," Leo said.
The other Barney quickly adjusted some controls. "Hurry, get up here," he told the humans and Vincent. "I got rid of the force field."
His Baxter scrambled up, his Vincent clutched under one arm. Vern also ran for the ladder. But the other humans hesitated.
"I'm not going up there," the other April insisted. "I want to stay down here in case I can help the Turtles and Splinter."
"O'Neil, come on!" Vern exclaimed. "This is their turf. This is a battle for ninjas! What part of that don't you understand?"
She looked up at him. "Some of these Turtles are my family, and I'm not going to abandon them."
Vern sighed in resignation and started back down again.
"We have ways of being useful," Vincent added. Electricity sparked from his fingertips and he sent many Foot Soldiers flying.
"Incredible," the other Baxter breathed.
"Can I have a body like that someday?" his Vincent asked.
"I sure hope so," was the reply.
The other Barney jumped a mile. "What?! You've got one of these computers too?!"
"I found him in Tokyo," his Baxter explained. "So now I don't regret being sent over there."
Down below, the humans did what they could to assist the Turtles. These Foot Soldiers were not low-level robots but were instead people, making them far more dangerous. But both Aprils, Vern, and the Stockmans managed to find creative ways to startle and overpower some of them.
"Have you got anything here that could help them?" the other Baxter asked.
"Maybe." The other Barney pressed a button and a stun wave knocked several nearby Foot Soldiers down.
"Alright!" the other Baxter exclaimed.
With everyone's combined efforts, the tide of the battle was turning at last.
Most of the Foot Soldiers had been defeated when one of the remaining ones darted out of the shadows and brought his bo down at an unsuspecting Barney, who had just tripped another Foot Soldier.
Suddenly Baxter was tackling him from the side. "Barney!"
Shocked, Barney crashed to the ground with Baxter and heard a strange, pained yelp, then silence. "Baxter?!" Barney twisted around to look at his twin, who was slumped against him.
Vincent forcefully threw the Foot Soldier away from them and knelt down in fear. "Baxter . . . old pal. . . ." Gently he loosened Baxter's frantic grip on Barney's waist.
Barney turned more fully and reached for Baxter's limp body. "He's not . . . ?"
"No, thank goodness," Vincent said with a weak smile. He let Barney take Baxter, feeling that would be good for both of them.
Barney held Baxter close. "I've told you . . . how many times have I told you?! Don't do things like that!" He growled, resting a hand in Baxter's hair.
On the platform, the other Barney sank to his knees. "Oh no. . . . I didn't mean for that to happen! I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt. . . ."
"But bad choices can still cause it to happen," Barney answered, looking up at him with pain in his eyes. "Your choice to open that first portal led to this."
"He'll be okay, won't he?" the other Baxter asked in concern, laying a hand on his Barney's shoulder.
"He'd better be," Barney retorted. "I won't accept anything else."
The Turtles had just finished subduing Shredder by this point. Michelangelo turned, taking in the other scene. "Baxter!" He ran over. "What happened?!"
"He was protecting Barney and he was hit by a Foot Soldier's bo," Vincent said softly.
"Oh, poor Baxter." Michelangelo laid a hand on Baxter's head. "Getting hit with a bo hurts mondo bad. It's probably even worse if there's no shell."
"It didn't hit his back," Vincent said. "But it hit his head."
"I'm so sorry," the other Barney said in stricken horror. "It's horrible enough the way it is. And what if that had been you down there?" He looked to his brother.
"I guess in a way it is," the other Baxter replied. "They're us, in their world. And we're them here. Okay, so physically we don't look that much alike. But in our minds and hearts . . . yeah, there's a lot about us that's the same. Including that we love each other."
His Barney looked at him in astonishment. "You've never said that before."
"Then I should have, because I love you, Brother," the other Baxter declared.
His brother stared at him, emotions crashing through his eyes. "And I . . . I love you," he said. "I've waited a lifetime to hear this. . . ."
"Then it's high-time for it," the other Baxter said.
". . . I'll close the first portal," the other Barney spoke with a heavy heart. "But maybe now it's too late."
Down below, Barney gently touched the side of Baxter's face. "Baxter . . . Brother . . . please wake up," he choked out.
It didn't usually happen that one was able to regain consciousness immediately following a loved one's pleas. But this time, Baxter was able to weakly push his eyes open. "Barney?" he mumbled. "Are you . . . alright?"
"No, I'm not alright," Barney snapped. "You took the hit for me and you were lying there in my arms, not moving! Baxter . . . !" Barney hugged him as close as he dared without hurting him worse. "Don't you know how you scared me?!"
"I . . . I'm sorry, Barney," Baxter said softly. "This time I tried to get out of the way too, and it still didn't work. . . ."
"Oh Baxter . . ." Barney held him close, shaking, not trying to hide his love for his brother. Seeing the dysfunction and sorrow among their counterparts had been bad enough. Seeing his brother hurt for his sake in the middle of all that was infinitely worse. And thinking of how harshly he had treated Baxter in the past was almost unbearable.
Baxter gazed at Barney in awe before settling into the embrace and returning it.
Vincent smiled broadly. "Everything's alright now," he said. "You're okay, Baxter."
"Yes," Baxter mused. "I'm okay."
"Totally gnarly!" Michelangelo whooped. "We can all go home happy!"
On the platform, the other Barney finally smiled. "He's okay," he said softly. "He's really okay."
"And we're so glad," Leo said with a smile of his own. He looked to the visitors. "We're going to miss all of you."
"Yeah, like really," Mikey said. "Maybe when the Foot Clan's all put away, we can say Hi again someday."
"I hope so," Leonardo said. "Take care, all of you."
The Leonardos bowed to each other, while the Michelangelos high-fived. Only the Raphaels seemed unsure how to say Goodbye.
"Try taking some anger management classes," Raphael said.
"You try beefing up," Raph retorted.
"We worked well together," Leonardo said, hoping to diffuse any last-minute problems.
"We did," Donnie agreed. "And . . . my calculations ended up being way off. Maybe I need to rethink them . . . a little. . . ."
"Understanding statistics is a lot easier than understanding people," Donatello said. "I've sure been figuring that out. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm getting there. I think we'll both make it."
Donnie finally smiled a bit. "I'd like to believe that too."
Barney got to his feet and he and Vincent gently helped Baxter. "Thank you, for finally listening," Baxter said, looking up at their counterparts.
"You finally brought us together as a family," the other Barney said. "We'll never forget that."
"And if you ever need anything from us, just ask," the other Baxter added. "Err, if you can get back over here, that is. . . ."
Baxter smiled. "We'd find a way."
Vern looked to April. "Hey, um . . . if you ever do get back someday, would you be open for dinner?"
April regarded him in amused surprise. "I guess that might depend on what we were doing back," she said. "But let's say I'll keep an open mind. How's that?"
"Great," Vern grinned.
"Well," Leonardo said, "let's take Shredder and . . . oh no!" He pointed to the sliced ropes. "He got away!"
"We can't let him stay in this dimension!" April yelped. "Especially if this Foot Clan will accept him as its leader!"
"There he goes!" Baxter exclaimed, pointing to a streaming purple cape up ahead.
A transport module broke through the surface and the door opened. "Let's go, Boss," Rocksteady exclaimed. "Krang says you're to come back to our dimension right now."
"No!" Shredder stamped his foot. "I want to stay here!"
"Uh, but Boss . . ." Bebop started to say.
"Go back and tell that blob of brains that I don't need him anymore, that I've found something better," Shredder insisted.
A hulking shadow emerged from the module. "Oh really?" Krang gurgled. "Why don't you tell me that personally?" He grabbed Shredder and dragged him onboard. The door slammed shut and the module drove back into the ground.
Everyone stared at the spot where it had vanished. "Well," Raphael said at last, "I guess that takes care of that problem."
"Yeah, totally," Michelangelo agreed.
The smaller Turtles looked at each other and burst out laughing. April, Splinter, and Baxter soon joined in. Some things would never change.
The group was back in their dimension, in April's apartment, albeit now they were minus their new friends.
"You know, it feels kinda lonely without them," Michelangelo remarked.
"Well, just look at it this way, Michelangelo," Raphael said. "More pizza for us!"
"Yeah, that's true," Michelangelo said, but he still looked wistful. "I would've liked to have had more time to get to know them."
April nodded. "That other Vernon was actually kind of interesting," she mused.
All eyes turned to her, filled with questions.
April promptly flushed. "I don't mean like that!" she exclaimed. "But he seemed . . . well, a lot easier to get to know and like than our Vernon. And he told me that the Casey Jones in his world is a normal guy."
"Seriously?" Michelangelo blinked.
"Okay, now that's weird," Raphael said. "But I'd pay to see that kind of weird!"
"I hope our counterparts are going to be alright," Baxter said in concern.
"They'll be fine," Barney said gruffly. "We started them on the right path and they'll go from there. They can make it, just as we have."
Baxter smiled. "Especially when they have their own Vincent to guide them."
"I hope theirs isn't bent on revenge," Raphael said.
"Hey, you know, I wonder what kinds of things he likes, since he crashed in Tokyo instead of New York," Michelangelo mused.
"Probably Japanese anime and Godzilla movies," Raphael half-wisecracked.
Vincent took a moment to process that. ". . . He might like Sailor Moon instead of Knight Rider?!"
"Well . . . maybe Naruto," Raphael said playfully. "But hey, who knows. Some guys like Sailor Moon!"
Baxter had to laugh. They all really felt like a family here, laughing, joking, enjoying each other's company. Not only had meeting their counterparts helped said counterparts, but it had brought all of them closer as well.
Barney finally gave a gruff but sincere smile. He was happy to see his family happy. And he was happy that he and Vincent were finally welcomed by everyone. He never could have imagined that anything like this would ever be true, but somehow it was.
He caught Vincent's eye and the computer was smiling too. It was a happy note on which the evening was ending.