Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987/Pokemon

Shadow of the Turtlemaniac

By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! A follow-up to the Turtles episode Turtlemaniac and a second part to the cracky crossover I did in the prior story, We All Live in a Pokemon World, since it was left open-ended and provided for a little more interaction later, including a scene I really wanted to write. (Also, because I had a weird dream and really wanted to incorporate a bit of it.) ThickerThanLove helped with some plot elements. This is 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. I'm still unsure where this takes place in the Pokemon timeline, due to the oddities I came up with of how Pokemon characters exist in the same verse to begin with. I think it loosely takes place following Adventures in the Orange Islands, while incorporating some but not all events of other seasons.

Baxter quietly moved down the corridor towards his room. It had been a bizarre night, the kind where they learned that supposedly fictional anime characters were real and roaming the city. Barney was still struggling with it. Baxter was more willing to accept it, but even so, he was worn-out from the long experience and wouldn't mind dozing off to sleep.

He decided to check in on their odd guests first. Peering into a guest-room with twin beds, he found the girl, Jessie, sound asleep and facing the wall, the cat, Meowth, curled up on the boy's bed, and the boy, James, awake and staring off at the wall.

"Hello," Baxter said quietly. "Can I get you anything?"

James started and looked over. "No," he said, also quietly. "Thank you. I'm just thinking." Slowly he got up and limped towards the doorway. "This mansion belongs to your brother?"

"Yes," Baxter smiled. He stepped into the hall, allowing James room to ease out.

"Did he inherit it?" James wondered.

"No," Baxter said. "He earned it with his own money. He made his own fortune. That said, we do come from a wealthy family."

James sank down on a chair in the hall. "So do I," he mumbled.

"And yet you ended up mixed with Team Rocket?" Baxter frowned. That sounded all too familiar.

"I couldn't stand the upper-class life." James traced a pattern on the chair arm with a finger. "The only times I ever had a chance to be myself were when I went to visit my grandparents. At home, I was tutored day in and day out by 23 people! There were rules for the most bizarre and inane things. And I wasn't even allowed to choose my own future. It was mapped out for me; I was manipulated into an engagement with a wealthy girl when we were just children!"

Baxter stared at him in sickened horror. "That's even worse than Barney's and my childhoods," he exclaimed. "Our parents wanted us to become romantically involved and sometimes set us up on dates with girls they deemed suitable, but they didn't try to press us into betrothals!"

"Then you were lucky," James said. "Having that girl try to dictate my life on top of everyone else trying to dictate it was too much. I finally ran away. My dog went with me at first, but later on, after I flunked getting into Pokemon Tech School, I sent him home. I had fallen in with a bicycle gang and I didn't want him mixed up with that crowd."

"Pokemon Tech School?" Baxter blinked. "You wanted a job in technology?"

"No, that's not what it is," James said. "It's a prep school for Pokemon Trainers.

"Meanwhile, Jessie wanted to be a Pokemon Nurse, but she flunked that too . . . although the reason why was really unfair."

"You can train to be a nurse as a teenager?" Baxter said in disbelief.

"For Pokemon, yes," James said. "Hey, kids can start their Pokemon journeys at age 10."

"And no one worries about them getting kidnapped while they're wandering all around?" Baxter was still finding everything about the culture difficult to grasp, aside from the Pokemon themselves.

"Not when they have Pokemon to protect them," James shrugged. "Anyway, most Trainers travel in small groups, the way the twerps do."

"And if they don't go to one of those fancy boarding schools, what do they do about education while they're traveling?" Baxter asked.

"It depends on the Trainer," James said. "But most of them have workbooks and send in the lessons through correspondence school. The teachers send back their scores through the professor who mentors the Trainers."

Baxter shook his head. "This is all very strange for me. How did you meet the others?"

James sighed. "Somehow Jessie and I met by chance after our failures and got into the bicycle gang together. Then later, Jessie found out about openings in Team Rocket and suggested we apply. So we did. We were allowed to stay together and then we found Meowth and he became part of the team as well."

"Barney and I can both understand falling into wrong paths despite your upbringing," Baxter said. "Barney was angry and I was sad and we each made poor choices that led to us taking criminal paths."

James looked at him. "But you're not criminals now?"

"No, we're not," Baxter smiled. "We've both improved our lives. You and Jessie and Meowth certainly have that chance as well."

"Maybe." James looked down. "Jessie and Meowth talked to me about what your friend Michelangelo said to them. Leaving Team Rocket does have a certain appeal, it's true, but it's also terrifying. For years it's been all we've known. I honestly don't know if we could live decent lives now, in spite of the fact that we do good when we can. Jessie especially. Her mother was in Team Rocket, so that was always an influence in her life. She tried to get away from that lifestyle when she tried to be a nurse, but in the end it just pulled her back in when all other doors closed."

"You can change, no matter how long you've been in Team Rocket."

Both of them started and looked up. "Barney," Baxter said in surprise as his twin came out of his room. "We woke you?"

"No, I wasn't asleep yet," Barney grunted. He folded his arms and looked at James. "Baxter and I are 43 years old. I thought there was no possible way I could ever change my ways. For decades I'd said I didn't care if I had to commit criminal acts to get ahead. It wasn't really true; any time I had to do something wrong, I hated myself inside.

"You're what, 16? If I could turn my life around, you certainly can."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," James sighed. "I don't know. The thought of such a big change scares me. And maybe part of me wonders if we could do a lot of good staying where we are. We could learn the inside scoop on Team Rocket's plans and maybe be able to stop them."

"I had the same thoughts," Barney said. "And yes, I was able to do a lot of good by working undercover. But eventually that road has only one way out. Sooner or later something happens that forces you to reveal your position and it can very well end with your death. It almost did for me."

James cringed. "Well, that's something I'm trying to avoid."

"Do Jessie and Meowth want to leave?" Baxter asked.

"We're all considering it, at least," James said. "But I absolutely don't want to go home! Since I'm still a minor, I could be sent back if I try to do any honest work. That's the main reason I agreed to go into Team Rocket with Jessie. There didn't seem to be any other road open to us." He shuddered. "I can't go back there. I can't! The girl they insist I marry is the most controlling, vicious, abusive person I've ever known! She was using a whip on me and having her Vileplume knock me out every few minutes!"

Baxter stared at him in disbelief. "That's horrible!" he cried, even though he didn't know what a Vileplume was.

"So none of the girls your parents tried to set you up with were like that?" James wondered.

"Thankfully, no," Barney said. "But they still didn't gel with our personalities. Not to mention we didn't want to have a decision that important made for us. And the problem that we weren't even attracted to any of them. Or anyone at all."

James looked surprised. "Really?"

"Both of us are asexual," Baxter said. "Barney is aromantic too. I'm not opposed to the idea of a romantic relationship on my terms, but there's never been anyone I've wanted to be with."

"I suppose I'm like that in some ways," James said. "I'm occasionally attracted, but I've never wanted to start a romantic relationship with anyone. Well, not since I had a crush on that girl from my childhood and then I found out what she was really like." He shuddered. "My parents insisted it was just because I didn't want to take responsibility and settle down. I'll admit that the thought of marriage has become a horror to me, but that's more because I've only been exposed to terrible romantic relationships."

"I can't blame you for finding it horrifying regardless," Barney said flatly.

"I don't suppose either of you also find women's clothing fascinating," James said.

Baxter went red. "No, neither of us have that interest."

Barney firmly nodded. ". . . You're a crossdresser?"

"Sometimes, when we're in disguise. Some people think that because I do that, I must have . . . other interests as well," James said. "But I've never been attracted to guys!"

"Meanwhile, you and Jessie obviously have a very special relationship," Barney said. "But not a romantic one."

"She's my best friend," James said. "Sometimes like a sister, maybe. I was an only child, so I don't know what it's like to have a sibling."

"It's . . ." Barney glanced to Baxter. "Sometimes confusing, sometimes frustrating, but always very fulfilling."

Baxter nodded. "You know that there's always someone who has your back."

"That's a nice thought," James acknowledged. "Jessie and Meowth and my Pokemon are the only ones I trust completely."

"Everyone needs someone," Barney said.

"Yes. But what are you going to do?" James asked. "If you're trying to be upright citizens, I don't imagine you'd feel that in good conscience you could simply say nothing about having seen me when I'm not of legal age."

Barney sighed, running a hand into his hair. "I'll admit this is a problem," he said. "But right now you should be focusing on getting better. You took a very bad beating tonight."

Baxter nodded. "We'll try to come up with a solution while you recover."

James slowly got up. "Thank you. I should get back to bed, I suppose. I'm keeping you from sleeping. Goodnight." He limped back to the guest-room and shut the door.

The twins stared after him.

"Do you believe him?" Baxter asked.

"I do," Barney said. ". . . But partially because I had Vincent run a check on him. He traced James through his picture and found that a boy who looked strikingly similar ran away from an estate in Georgia several years ago."

"So now what do we do?" Baxter worried. "If he's not exaggerating about his home life, we can't in good conscience send him back to that. But how can we just stand by if he decides to stay with Team Rocket? He is a minor, as he pointed out himself."

Barney sighed. "More than likely, he will decide to relieve us of the burden of making a decision. When we wake up, they'll probably be gone."

"Can they get out with all the alarms in place?" Baxter frowned.

"Well," Barney said as he shuffled back to bed, "let's find out."

"You're awfully blase about it," Baxter remarked.

Barney paused. "Maybe because they seem to have a better direction than I did. They're with Team Rocket, true, but they're good people and they're happy to help when they can. And maybe also because I really don't want to have to make a decision for either of those kids. I don't feel qualified."

"So you're shoving it under the carpet and hoping you won't have to deal with it," Baxter mused.

"Now you sound like Vincent," Barney complained. "But you're right."

Baxter gave him a sad smile. "Goodnight, Barney."

"Goodnight." Barney headed to his room, relieved to not have to discuss it further. Vincent, he imagined, would have kept at it. Of course, he added to himself, maybe he needed that.

xxxx

As it turned out, he was right about Team Rocket's plans. The next morning, when he and Baxter came downstairs, Vincent was studying a note on the island.

"What's going on, Vincent?" Baxter asked in surprise.

"It looks like our guests have flown the coop," Vincent said. "I hope James was really well enough to leave." He held out the note.

Thank you for your kindness,

It's what we won't forget

And we hope that you won't mind

That your cupboard took a hit.

Barney immediately opened the cupboards. "It looks like they ran off with some canned goods," he said.

"And a loaf of bread," Baxter said as he opened the fridge.

"Not to mention some peanut butter, jam, and a package of crackers," Vincent added.

Barney grunted. "Well, we can certainly spare it and replace it easily enough, which is what I assume they thought." He sank down at the island and propped himself up with one hand. "But I didn't want to take responsibility for figuring out what to do with them long-term. It was probably the wrong decision."

"You couldn't have done anything until morning anyway, Buddy," Vincent said. "And they apparently didn't want to leave their fate in your hands."

"I suppose I'll have to think of it like that then," Barney said tiredly.

Baxter came and sat beside him, resting a hand on his shoulder. "I can understand you not wanting to decide their fate," he said. "Especially when they've been on their own for all these years. They've probably learned things most adults don't know."

Barney nodded. "It would seem more like interference than help. Only . . ." He sighed. "I do wish we could get them out of that Team Rocket organization."

"Maybe they'll decide to on their own," Baxter said, "and then they'll come back."

"Possible, but unlikely," Barney said. "I have the feeling they'll stay. I know how I was afraid to leave Shredder and Krang when it started feeling familiar to me."

"Maybe," Vincent said. "But I think what happened last night really shook them up. We'll see what happens."

Baxter was about to suggest fixing breakfast when his Turtle-Comm went off. Surprised, he took it out and opened it. "Hello, Michelangelo," he greeted.

"Baxter!" Michelangelo looked worried, even panicked. "Monroe Q. Flem is being released from the insane asylum!"

Baxter blinked in both surprise and confusion. ". . . Who is that?" he asked.

Michelangelo paused, also blinking as he realized Baxter didn't understand. "Oh. He's this totally nutzoid guy who wanted to have every piece of Turtle stuff he could get his hands on. Including us!"

"What?!" Baxter stared.

A frantic nod. "He tried to wax April and he was gonna wax us! I mean like literally! Like House of Wax!"

Baxter stiffened. "That's horrible!" he gasped.

Barney leaned over. "They must feel he's showing signs of stability now or they wouldn't release him," he commented.

"Yeah, I know," Michelangelo said. "You'd sure think that. Me and the guys sure hope it. But considering how they locked up Baxter when he didn't deserve it, can we really trust that they're releasing this guy when it's safe?"

Baxter looked down. He had to admit, he still felt bitter and angry over having been committed against his will when he hadn't been mad. "I don't know," he said softly.

"I figured you'd be worried too," Michelangelo said. "I thought I should let you know in case . . . well, what if he's the same as before and now he'll want to add you guys to his collection too?!"

Baxter cringed. "Thank you for warning us, Michelangelo. We'll be careful."

"And you be careful too," Vincent said in concern.

"Oh, totally," Michelangelo nodded. "We're all on high alert."

"Hopefully there's no need for concern," Barney said. "Maybe he's really turned over a new leaf."

"Maybe," Baxter said, but he looked skeptical. "Have you warned April?"

"Yeah," Michelangelo said. "And she had to cover the news story about him being released!"

"So he saw her?" Baxter frowned.

"He sure did," Michelangelo sighed. "And he wants April to come to his place and interview him tonight!"

"Well, that's suspicious," Barney conceded. "Why?"

"He said he wanted to give her an exclusive scoop on his rehabilitation," Michelangelo said.

"Surely she's not going," Baxter exclaimed.

"She totally is," Michelangelo sighed. "So we're going with her! We'll wait outside the wall and listen in and make sure everything's gnarly."

"That's a good plan, but you'd better be careful," Baxter said in concern. "What if him calling April there is just a trap to get you there?"

"Leonardo thought of that," Michelangelo said. "We're gonna have gas masks. That's his favorite gimmick-gassing people."

"That's good to know," Baxter said. "Keep in touch with us. We'll be on hand if you need more help."

Michelangelo smiled. "We can always count on you dudes. Well, I'll let you go so you can eat and stuff. See you!" He hung up.

Barney glanced to Vincent, who was already running through websites. "What did you find out about this person?" he asked.

"Not much," Vincent frowned. "He's a noted billionaire, but his reputation went downhill following his arrest and being committed to the asylum. He's released a statement saying he plans to get back on top of his game, which was collecting. Apparently his Turtle memorabilia wasn't his only collection."

"Dare I ask?" Barney grunted.

"Among other things . . . he collects Pokemon memorabilia," Vincent admitted.

Barney groaned and slumped over the island. "How did I know that was coming?"

Baxter looked to Vincent. "Was his collection of Pokemon things as extensive as his Turtles one?"

"The Turtles collection was his pride and joy, apparently," Vincent said. "For Pokemon, it looks like he mainly collected anything related to the turtle Pokemon Squirtle and its other forms."

"He really was obsessed with turtles," Baxter blinked.

"Yes, and the reason why was told in his confession," Vincent said. "His mother gave away his pet turtle when he was a boy and it apparently messed with his head."

"I suppose I can see how that could happen," Barney said.

"He also named the turtle Rosebud," Vincent blinked. "What kind of a name is that for a turtle?"

"What kind of a name is it for a sled, either," Barney muttered.

"What?" Vincent looked bewildered.

"Earth joke," Barney explained. "Maybe we'll watch Citizen Kane sometime."

"Okay," Vincent said, clearly still baffled.

xxxx

The day proceeded quite normally until evening drew nigh and Baxter and April were just wrapping up the 6 o'clock news.

"Well, now I've got to get out to Monroe Q. Flem's estate," April remarked as they walked off-stage.

"After everything I've been finding out about him, I really don't like to see you go," Baxter frowned.

April smiled. "Aww, you're sweet, Baxter. But the Turtles will be there. I'm sure I'll be safe. I can't pass up a scoop like this. Even though the guy did try to dump me in a vat of hot wax," she muttered.

"He was clearly demented," Baxter said. "Did he seem to you as though he'd changed for the better?"

"Honestly, I couldn't tell," April said. "He could always turn on the charm, and he did that today. He apologized for what he tried to do to me and said he'd got carried away. He also said the doctors and nurses have made him better. I'm still suspicious. A good news reporter has to be. But I have to get that scoop!"

"Be very careful," Baxter said in concern.

"I will be," April smiled. "I promise!"

Baxter frowned. Maybe, he thought, he should go along too and wait with the Turtles. But he sighed to himself. Maybe it wasn't fair to keep suspecting that man of evil plans, especially with his own past. On the other hand, after trying to turn the Turtles and April into wax figures, something must have been frightfully wrong with Flem. It surely wasn't wrong to be concerned and not trust him at first, just until seeing whether he really did seem to be cured. Wanting April to interview him in private was definitely suspicious and bizarre.

He reached for his Turtle-Comm.

xxxx

"Dudes!" Michelangelo called as he ended a Turtle-Comm conversation moments later. "April's heading out now and Baxter thinks he should go too." He ran into the training room.

"Well, I guess there's the idea of safety in numbers and all that," Raphael said as he stuck his sais in his belt. "But on the other hand, it just gives that nutball one more potential victim."

Leonardo sighed. "Let's hope there really isn't a reason to worry. But at the same time, we should be on the highest alert." He sheathed his katanas.

"And get there as quickly as we can," Donatello said. "Even getting there a couple of minutes after them could be disastrous."

"Ooh, that's a good point." Raphael cringed.

"So let's make tracks!" Michelangelo hurried back out of the room and towards the exit.

Splinter was there to see them all off. "Take caution, my students," he said. "It is true that Mr. Flem is displaying some odd behavior, but there could be other explanations for it. Do not jump to harmful conclusions that could unfairly damage his chances for a normal life."

"Don't worry, Master. We won't," Leonardo promised. "After the mistakes we made with Baxter, we sure don't want to do the same thing all over again."

Splinter nodded in approval. "A wise decision. Of course, in case your suspicions are correct, you must also be on the highest alert."

"Oh yeah. The last thing any of us want is to wake up as statues," Raphael said.

Michelangelo shuddered and hurried on ahead.

xxxx

Barney had just finished gathering things together following the last class of the day when he heard an eerily familiar laugh.

"Now, you see what happens if you combine these chemicals? Ka-boom!"

He almost dropped the eraser. "What . . ."

He turned to see Andrew standing in the doorway with his tablet. The kid blushed, clearly embarrassed. "I'm sorry, Professor," he said. "I was just fooling around on YouTube and I saw this television episode of Lifestyles of the Brilliant and Scholarly that you did. I had to look, but it . . . kind of surprised me."

"It would," Barney grunted.

"You . . . you're so lively," Andrew blinked. "And off-the-wall."

"It surprised me the first time I saw it too," Vincent mused.

Barney scowled. "Chemistry got me really excited," he said. "It still does, but I . . . try not to act like that. It's most unprofessional."

"You're so serious all the time now," Andrew said.

Barney leaned on the desk. "You know, what's funny is that when I acted silly like that, I wasn't really happy deep down. I was geniunely enthusiastic about chemisty, but really, showing it that way was mostly a facade. I wasn't happy and I was pretending to be because I was lonely. Now, I'm serious, but I'm genuinely happy."

"That's interesting," Andrew mused. "You've always said you were even stricter in the past. This craziness doesn't seem very strict."

"Oh, I was serious about neuropsychology," Barney said. "Yes, I was very strict and harsh. With chemistry I let loose a little more. Although even with neuropsychology, I . . . let myself go later on."

Vincent knew he meant when he was getting into crime and didn't offer anything on the subject.

Andrew nodded and turned to go, but paused. "You know, though, Professor . . . being cheery and stuff . . . isn't a bad thing."

Barney smiled a bit. "I know. But I'm tired of facades. I want to be the real me."

"And we all like the real you, Professor," Andrew said. "You're a great guy."

Humbled, Barney replied, "I try."

Vincent smiled, but waited until they were alone before speaking again. "Andrew does have a point about being cheery."

Barney folded his arms. "I know you've seen that episode before. What did you think?"

"Your sincere enthusiasm definitely came through . . . but I could also see the facade," Vincent said softly.

"I think the last time I even tried to act like that was when I rebuilt the original Knucklehead," Barney said. "Maybe it leaves a bad taste in my mouth because of that."

"That's understandable," Vincent said. "And I like you just the way you are. But if you ever decide you want to be cheery or silly at all, I will be happy to see that you've come to feel so comfortable."

Barney smiled a bit. "I know."

"Oh, were we going to check in and see if April was okay?" Vincent remembered.

Barney glanced at the clock. "She's probably going to that private interview right now. She'll have all the Turtles in her corner. And I won't be surprised if Baxter goes along too."

"And us?" Vincent wondered.

"We can go," Barney said. "But I don't know if we'll be needed. Still, if there was trouble, I'm sure we would have heard."

"Unless no one can contact us," Vincent pointed out.

Barney sighed. "Try to reach Baxter on our way out."

Vincent did, but soon frowned in bewilderment. "I'm only getting static on the Turtle-Comm."

"Well, that shouldn't be happening." Barney looked over in concern. "Try emailing."

"Alright, but we'd better go over there," Vincent said. "The address is easy to remember: 777 77th Street."

"It sounds like something out of a cartoon show," Barney remarked.

xxxx

The last thing Baxter had thought he would hear as he pulled up at Flem's mansion was familiar kids' voices.

"Misty! Where the heck are you?!"

"Misty!"

"Pika!"

Quickly he got out and hurried over. April and the Turtle Van hadn't arrived yet; he was the first. "What on Earth is happening?" he demanded.

Ash jumped a mile. "Oh, hi, Dr. Stockman. We were all just walking past this weird house when Misty disappeared!"

"Togepi got down and started running towards the gate," Brock explained. "Misty followed him and then she suddenly wasn't there."

"But here's Togepi." Ash frowned, pointing to the strange Pokemon as he stood on the other side of the gate and trilled.

Baxter frowned. "Well, the only thing we can do is use the intercom system and explain what happened. Surely Mr. Flem will allow you to come onto the grounds and look for your friend."

"You know the guy who lives here?" Ash blinked.

"No," Baxter haltingly admitted. "But I was coming here to monitor a situation that . . ." He trailed off. He really didn't want his imagination to run away from him, but he was growing increasingly worried. Misty really wasn't there. "Misty doesn't have a Squirtle, does she?" he asked instead.

"No, but I do," Ash blinked. "Why?"

"This man collects everything turtle-related," Baxter explained. "Including Squirtles. Maybe he thought that since Misty's specialty is Water Pokemon, she would have one?"

"But how would he even know that we'd be walking by his place?!" Ash exclaimed. "If Misty's in danger, we've gotta get in there!" He grabbed the bars of the gate and shook them.

"Calm down, Ash," Brock insisted. "Dr. Stockman is right. We should use the intercom."

"And I wouldn't recommend mentioning anything about Squirtle," Baxter said.

"Don't worry, I won't," Ash vowed.

Baxter was just about to press the button when more voices startled him.

"James?! Where did you go?!"

"Jim, you'd better come out!"

"You!" Ash and Brock cried in unison as Jessie and Meowth came from around a corner.

"It's the twerps!" Meowth yelped.

"Calm down!" Baxter suddenly interjected. His voice had gained an edge.

"Oh." Jessie and Meowth froze. "Hello, Dr. Stockman."

"I hope you've been enjoying our food," Baxter remarked.

"They stole from you?!" Ash cried indignantly. "That figures."

"Borrowed," Jessie retorted with a closed eye. ". . . Without intending to replace it."

Baxter doubted they would even have the means to do so, but he didn't say that.

"We've definitely been enjoying it," Meowth said. "We thought you could spare it."

"Yes, but now you've apparently got yourselves into more trouble," Baxter snipped. "You should have stayed on with us. You say James has gone missing?"

"Yeah, at this weird, tacky place," Meowth said.

"Misty's missing too!" Ash said.

"We're going to get to the bottom of this now." Baxter reached to press the intercom button.

"On the contrary, Baxter Stockman. I have other plans for you! And those children!" a heavily accented voice crackled from the intercom. "But you're right that you will get to the bottom of it!"

The sidewalk opened up underneath Baxter without warning. Shocked, he fell through the trapdoor while everyone stood looking on.

xxxx

Monroe Q. Flem sneered as he adjusted the pictures on his monitors. "Yes, now I have you right where I want you," he hissed as Baxter fell straight down a chute with a cry.

"I don't get it, Boss," Adler blinked. "Why do you want him or those two kids?"

"Baxter Stockman is one of the Turtles' dearest friends," Flem exclaimed. "Even an imbecile like you should be able to figure out why I want him."

"I know," Clyde said. "To add to your collection! And maybe as bait to get the Turtles!"

"The first one," Flem said. "Miss O'Neil is the bait.

"As for the children, I hoped the girl might have a Squirtle. I have longed for one of those to add to my turtle collection. If she doesn't have one, perhaps the boy can either steal one or his friends will, to set him free. Or . . ." He paused with a sickening smile. "Maybe they should both be bait as well. Or better yet, I could test out my new waxing process on both of them but not tell their friends that they're dead until after they bring me a Squirtle."

"That's really cruel, Boss," Clyde said.

"That sanitorium doesn't seem to have helped you any," Adler said.

"Oh, it has helped a great deal," Flem sneered. "It has given me new insight on how to achieve my goals. And just think, none of this would be happening if my mother hadn't given away my precious pet turtle!" He switched to another monitor. "The children went down a different path than Dr. Stockman. Let's check in with them, shall we?"

The path down that he had sent James and Misty on was long, twisting, and painful. James shrieked all the way to the bottom, clanking into first one wall of the zigzag tunnel and then the other. Moments after he crashed, Misty sprawled on his back.

"What are you doing here?!" she exclaimed.

"Being sat on," James gasped. "Get off of me, Twerp!"

Misty slid off. "It's not like I'm heavy or something!" she snapped.

Flem laughed. "Ah, females. They're all the same. So troublesome. I'm glad I don't have to deal with them aside from someone like Miss O'Neil, who will soon bring me the ultimate treasure in the form of the Ninja Turtles!"

James slowly and painfully got to his feet. "I'm still not well," he snapped back.

"Oh yeah? Then why did you leave Dr. Stockman's house?" Misty countered.

"Nevermind that! Where are we?!" James looked around the darkened room with a growing foreboding.

"You're right where I want you, Children," Flem said over the loudspeaker.

"Who said that?!" James gasped.

"Where are you?!" Misty demanded.

"I am Monroe Q. Flem, and I would like to inform you that you have mere moments to live before your youthful beauty will be preserved forever in my wax museum."

Both kids went stiff.

"You mean we're going to be coated with wax?!" Misty cried.

"I'd rather grow old gracefully," James whimpered.

"Why do people keep telling me that?" Flem sighed. He leaned back. "Feel free to try to escape, but you won't succeed!"

He switched the picture to Baxter's location. The scientist had hit the bottom and was lying sprawled on his stomach on the floor, looking dazed. "Ow," he moaned.

"Welcome, Dr. Stockman!" Flem boomed.

That revived Baxter enough that he forced himself to kneel on the floor. "You haven't changed, have you?!" he snarled. "You tricked the authorities into letting you go free!"

"Oh now, do you really believe I could do that?" Flem purred.

"They committed me against my will when I was sane," Baxter said bitterly. "Yes, I believe you could fool them."

"Ah, so you still carry angry feelings over the past," Flem remarked.

Baxter frowned. It was true, obviously, but he hadn't realized how angry he still was until hearing about this character. Somehow that had started to bring all the pain to the surface. Part of him honestly felt like suing the asylum, not to mention the police who had mistakenly arrested him. The other part didn't want to bother. His life was happy now and he didn't need an unnecessary court case to drag it through the mud. Nor did he really want to ruin anyone's lives now that he was sane and revenge was not a driving force behind his actions.

"We're not here to talk about that," he said. He reached for the wall and pulled himself up. "What do you want?"

"You, here forevermore," Flem smiled.

"In wax?" Baxter said dryly. "I know about what you tried to do to the Turtles and April."

"One way or another, I want you," Flem said. "You're perfect for my Turtles museum."

"And the kids?" Baxter demanded.

"Let's say they will be my guinea pigs," Flem said. "Unless you can find them."

"Darn-tootin' I'm going to try," Baxter snapped.

"Feel free to try," Flem said. "I will leave Clyde here to monitor things. I must go prepare for my interview with the lovely Miss O'Neil."

Fear flashed in Baxter's eyes. They would all be trapped here, victims of this madman's wax! He pulled out his Turtle-Comm but soon gritted his teeth in frustration and despair. Only static was on the screen. Checking his phone revealed there was no signal. And this time when he tried connecting the devices, it didn't help to boost the signal's range.

"I can't warn them," he whispered in dismay. "I'll have to look for the kids and pray that the other kids will stay to tell the others what's going on."

But he had the terrible feeling that Ash and company wouldn't hold still for that. They were probably already trying to get inside.

Praying for everyone's safety, he tore down the dimly lit hall.

xxxx

The Turtles were all highly tense as they drove to the Flem manor. Michelangelo shifted all over the seat.

"This is totally not good, Dudes," he proclaimed. "First April gets this bizarro request from Monroe Q. Flem to come to his pad and now Barney and Vincent say that they can't reach Baxter! And we already knew he was planning to head to Flem's place too!"

"I'll admit it doesn't look good," Leonardo said.

"And it gets worse, guys," Donatello said in concern from the back of the Van. "I just talked to April. She's reached the place and said that she saw Ash, Brock, Jessie, and Meowth going over the wall!"

"What the heck are they doing there?!" Raphael burst out.

"I have a better question," Leonardo frowned. "Where are the others? Maybe the ones April saw were going in after them."

"But that doesn't make sense," Raphael objected. "What would any of them want there?"

"Like, what if Monroe Q. Flem wanted them for some reason?" Michelangelo suggested.

"Because we met them once?" Raphael snorted. "And how would he even know about that? It just happened yesterday!"

"Well, in any case, something is obviously wrong," Donatello said. "April says that Flem denies knowing anything about the kids or Baxter, but Baxter's station wagon is parked outside!"

"Let's peal rubber, Leonardo!" Michelangelo cried. He leaned forward. "Something is so mondo wrong at that creepy place!"

"On that, we completely agree." Leonardo's expression was grim as he floored the accelerator.

They reached the manor around the same time as the Cadillac. Practically as one the two groups leaped out of their respective vehicles.

"Has there been any word?" Leonardo asked.

"No," Vincent said in distress. "I'm trying to remotely hack into Flem's security system, but I haven't made it yet."

"Well, we can't wait around for Flem to do something else crummy," Raphael snarled. "Let's go over that wall and break into the place!"

"It's probably a trap," Barney pointed out. "But you're right, there's nothing else to do."

Leonardo nodded. "We have to save the others. All we can do is be careful and watch out for gas."

The Turtles easily vaulted the wall. Then Raphael and Donatello leaned down to pull Barney and Vincent up.

"Last time, there were vicious dogs patrolling the yard," Leonardo remembered. "This time I don't see anything."

"If they're absolutely not here, we're being led into a false sense of security by their absence," Barney said. "But maybe they were here and those children got past them by using their Pokemon." He scowled even as he said it. Despite now knowing Pokemon were real, it was still one of the most outlandish sentences he had ever spoken.

"That's totally possible," Michelangelo said.

"There's an open door!" Donatello pointed at the upstairs balcony. "Maybe the kids got in that way."

"There's only one way to find out!" Raphael sent up his grappling hook. Soon he reached the top and ran through the door without skipping a beat.

"Raphael . . . !" Leonardo exclaimed. He and the rest shimmied up to the balcony on the other grappling hooks and peered inside.

Raphael was standing in the old Turtles museum, staring up and down the hall with a disturbed look. "This really brings back memories, doesn't it?" he gulped.

"Yeah, Dude. All the wrong ones!" Michelangelo snapped.

Vincent came closer, scanning the corridor up and down. "I'm not picking up on any traps," he said slowly.

"Then we are so in!" Michelangelo headed through the door. The other Turtles followed suit, while Barney and Vincent stepped in carefully.

"It doesn't look like he's had time to make new wax figures," Leonardo said. "Everything looks pretty quiet here."

"So where do we look?!" Raphael said in frustration.

"Maybe the room with the waxworks?" Donatello suggested.

The loudspeaker above them crackled. "Ah, but I have moved my waxworks into the basement," came Flem's unwelcome voice.

"And are April and Baxter down there, you creep?!" Raphael yelled.

"Well, you'll just have to see for yourselves," Flem replied.

"You're probably hoping to get us into your waxworks too," Leonardo said.

"I am hoping to get everyone into my waxworks," Flem sneered. "But first I have to make sure my new process works. I need a couple of guinea pigs."

Barney stiffened. "You wouldn't."

"I wouldn't test it on children?" Flem returned. "I would test it on anyone."

"We'll stop you, Flem!" Leonardo cried.

Raphael was too angry to make a quip about Leonardo's dramatic line delivery. "And April was supposed to be interviewing you!" he exclaimed. "Where is she?!"

"And the other kids?" Barney demanded.

"Tick tock, Turtles and friends," Flem mocked. "If you don't stop gabbing and start looking, all you will find are the sad and permanent remains of all of them."

Vincent's eyes flashed with hatred. "Oh, we'll find them before you can kill them," he vowed. "And then we'll find you. You'll regret what you tried to do!"

"We shall see," Flem sneered.

"How they ever let you out is beyond me." Leonardo's voice was dark and filled with anger as they ran down the hall.

"Especially when they put Baxter in," Michelangelo added. "They're like, totally backwards!"

"Lucky for me and too bad for you," Flem said.

"Dudes . . ." Michelangelo looked to the others with agonized eyes. "Do you think we're gonna make it in time?"

"We have to, Michelangelo," Leonardo immediately replied. "We have to."

xxxx

Down below, Baxter was still desperately and hopelessly wandering the dark and winding corridors. Every now and then he called for the missing kids, to no avail. His heart pounding, he ran around another corner. What if it was already too late? What if they were both dead and coated in wax? No, it was too horrible to think about!

He ran on. At last faint voices started to travel to his ears. He strained to listen.

"James, this is ridiculous," Misty said in frustration. "There has to be a way out of here!"

"Yes, but how?" James whined. "Maybe we'll never find it! Maybe we'll only find the waxworks and not have any chance to escape!"

"I wonder how Jessie puts up with your whining," Misty snapped.

"About the same as I put up with her abuse," James retorted. "But at least it's nothing like Jessiebelle back home."

"Maybe she wouldn't even still want you if she found out what you've really been doing with your life," Misty said.

"I don't think it would stop her interest," James replied. "It might only make her more abusive!"

Baxter hurried towards the sound of the voices. "Kids!"

He nearly tripped over a giant lavender starfish. "Starmie," it grunted.

"Oh, excuse me," Baxter hurriedly said. He zigzagged past it and rushed on. Behind him, he could hear the starfish moving to follow him.

"Dr. Stockman?" Misty called.

It was just as she and James came into view that another light flashed on and Baxter caught sight of a giant tub of wax suspended from above and starting to tip towards them. Horrified, he lunged and tackled both kids. "Look out!"

Misty and James crashed to the floor. The hot wax poured down right where they had been, followed by the empty tub as it fell upsidedown into the mess.

"We were almost covered in that!" James wailed in horror.

"But where did Dr. Stockman go?" Misty knelt on the floor, a sick feeling growing in the pit of her stomach.

"You don't think . . ." James turned to stare at the tub.

"It's big enough," Misty quavered. "Come on, we have to move it!"

"But if he's . . ." James swallowed hard. "There's no way he could still be alive!" He trembled. He didn't want to see such a sight.

"We have to find out!" Misty insisted. She pushed on the tub with all her might.

Despite the terrible images swirling through James' mind, he got up to help her.

xxxx

April was not pleased as she tore down the halls in search of everyone else. "I knew there was something phony about all this!" she cried. "Flem excused himself right away and never came back! Oh, where are they?"

She rounded a corner and crashed headlong into Jessie. "Watch where you're going!" the fiery redhead snarled.

"You watch where . . ." April trailed off at the sight of the teen, followed by Ash's group. "I've been looking everywhere for all of you!" she exclaimed.

"What about Misty?" Ash pleaded. "And Dr. Stockman and James? Have you seen them?"

"No, I haven't," April said sadly, "and I'm worried. Mr. Flem won't even acknowledge that any of them or you are here!"

"Well, we all know that's false!" Ash burst out.

"Ash, we have to keep our cool," Brock spoke up.

"And what if they're all wax statues by now?!" Ash retorted.

"Pi-Pikachu!" Pikachu exclaimed.

"That wouldn't happen to ol' Jim," Meowth insisted. "And it probably wouldn't happen to the Doc or the twerp, either! They're resourceful."

"Hmph," Ash glowered. "Maybe James would even push Misty or Dr. Stockman into the wax to save himself!"

"He wouldn't do that!" Jessie snapped. "We're thieves, not murderers!"

"Everyone, calm down!" April cried. "We're all worried about our loved ones. Now let's keep looking until we find them! Standing here arguing is only going to make it all the more dangerous for them!"

Dead silence reigned.

"She's right, you know," Meowth said at last.

"We'll have to keep our truce going until we get out of here," Brock advised.

"Good idea," April said. "All of you, stay with me and we'll keep looking!"

The others, sobered and silent, walked on either side of April as the search resumed.

xxxx

So far nothing had happened to the other desperate search party, which only made them more frantic. As they descended the basement stairs, Michelangelo ran out ahead.

"Dudes," he gasped. "The museum room is being recreated down here."

He was right. The room they had arrived in looked much the same as the upstairs room had once looked. And amid the pieces Flem had rebuilt, such as the Lair set and the original wax figures, was a new addition.

Barney went stiff. "Dear God. . . ."

If Vincent could have paled, he would have. "Baxter . . ."

"Oh no," Michelangelo choked out. "We're too late. . . ." He stuck his nunchucks sloppily into his belt before running forward and grabbing the figure by the shoulders. "Baxter?!" He looked into the vacant eyes. "Baxter, come on! Speak to me! Please?" He trembled and fell forward, hugging the wax creation as the tears slipped from his eyes.

The other Turtles stood by, watching in equally sickened horror. "There's no chance he's alive in there, is there, Donatello?" Raphael swallowed hard.

"Not a chance," Donatello said, shaking his head. "He'd suffocate in a few minutes. If he survived the hot wax being poured over him at all, that is."

"But what about the Golden Goose mess?!" Raphael exclaimed. "We all survived being encased in that!"

"Yes, but the aliens were using an advanced technical process, like . . . Han Solo in carbonite," Donatello said. "It probably took them centuries to perfect how to keep someone alive encased in gold."

Barney looked away. Mentioning that disaster only reminded him again of what he had done to Michelangelo and had almost done to Baxter. And seeing Baxter now. . . . He trembled and covered his face with a hand. He couldn't look anymore.

Vincent was frantically scanning the form. "There's no signs of life," he reported. "Baxter . . ." He laid a hand on the shoulder. Part of him wanted to withdraw it. The other part couldn't bear to.

Leonardo's eyes darkened. "Last time, Flem tried to do this to April. This time he succeeded in doing it to Baxter. Maybe to April too, and who knows how many others. And we won't let it rest." He drew both katanas. "Let's get him, Turtles."

Michelangelo sniffled hard. "I never thought he'd go this way!" he cried. "It's too awful to be true. Please say it's a nightmare and I'm gonna wake up!"

"It is a nightmare, Michelangelo," Leonardo said quietly. "But unfortunately, it's not the kind you can wake up from."

Michelangelo sobbed. "Baxter . . . if you can hear me at all, I'm so sorry. . . ."

"Michelangelo! Wait, that isn't me!"

Everyone looked up with a start at the familiar, nasally voice. "Baxter?!" they exclaimed in collective shock.

"It can't be," Raphael gasped. "Then what's this?!"

Baxter ran up another flight of stairs and into the room. "It's just wax," he said. "I'm alive! I was almost killed rescuing the children from a vat of wax, but I didn't get hurt! I fell through another trapdoor. Flem deliberately put this figure up just to torture you!"

Michelangelo's eyes glowed. He let go of the statue and ran at his friend, sweeping him off his feet and into his arms as he hugged him close. "You're okay!" he laughed in pure joy. "You're really okay!"

Baxter was momentarily stunned but quickly recovered. He hugged Michelangelo in return. "Yes," he smiled. "Yes, I'm okay."

Barney and Vincent ran over as well. "Do you know what we thought?!" Barney roared. Completely illogically, since of course Baxter knew, but Barney didn't care much about logic right now.

"Yes," Baxter said softly as Michelangelo put him down.

Vincent hugged him close. "But you're okay, Pal."

"And we're all overjoyed," Leonardo said. "But where are the kids?"

A light flipped on and Monroe Q. Flem stood there, sneering. "Everyone is right where I want them," he declared. "And now that the Ninja Turtles are finally here, I can create my new wax statues!" He reached to pull a lever.

"Everyone else is finally here too!" Jessie announced.

A vine shot out, striking Flem on the hand, and a strange screech echoed through the room.

The Turtles looked around. "That's . . ."

"Prepare for trouble! You've done it now," boomed Jessie's voice.

"And make it double. We're having a cow," said James.

"What is going on?!" Flem cried.

A spotlight switched on across the room, highlighting Jessie and James posing as they said their motto. Their Pokemon, including Victreebel, stood by.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all people in every nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love . . ."

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"James!"

"Team Rocket blasts off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now or prepare to fight."

"Meowth, that's right!" Meowth somersaulted down in front of them.

"This is not happening!" Flem screamed, clenching his fists as he fairly shook with anger. "You should all be covered in wax by now!"

"Well, we're not, thanks to Dr. Stockman," James retorted.

Other spotlights came on, revealing Ash's group and April. "And now we're all gonna make sure you pay," Ash vowed.

Flem snapped his fingers and Adler and Clyde appeared, along with a troup of his robots. "Let's see how well you will all fare now."

"Oh boy," Raphael groaned. "I was hoping we'd never see these tin cans again."

"We can take them," Leonardo said. "Let's go, everyone!"

The next few minutes were a flurry of people, mutants, Pokemon, and robots. And Vincent, of course. Thanks to the Turtles' weapons, the Pokemons' and Vincent's attacks, and some common sense from the humans, the robots were soon flying in every direction.

"No!" Flem screamed. "NO! Not again!" He jumped up and down in a mad rage and again reached for the lever. "I will have my Ninja Turtles and allies statues if it's the last thing I do!"

Leonardo tackled him out of the way. "If you drop that wax on everyone, it will be the last thing you do!" he shot back.

"And like, that is totally not acceptable, Dude," Michelangelo declared. "We don't wanna be waxed and we have a responsibility to keep even you from being waxed!"

"But you are definitely taking a one-way trip to the looney bin," Raphael smiled. "All expenses paid."

"And I think the Pokemon you wanted is going to help you get there!" Ash declared. "Squirtle, Water Gun!"

Flem went stiff. "No! My precious Squirtle! There was one around all along!"

"And after everything you did, you don't deserve it," Leonardo remarked.

"Squirtle," said Squirtle. His water spray sent Flem flying into the wall.

"Bulbasaur," exclaimed a nondescript blue Pokemon with what looked like a giant flower bulb on its back. It shot out two vines, wrapping them tightly around Flem.

The madman struggled. "No! I will not be beaten like this!" he cried. "Adler! Clyde! Take care of them!"

"Right, Boss." Adler lumbered towards Baxter, who leaped out of the way. Barney came up from behind the brute and pressed a pressure point, causing him to drop unconscious to the floor.

"Alright, Dude!" Michelangelo beamed.

"There's still me," Clyde spoke up. He lunged at Barney. Instead, Baxter shoved him into Vincent.

"Hi," the computer smiled.

Clyde screamed.

Raphael twirled his sai. "Well, I think that takes care of it," he said smoothly.

"I'll go upstairs and call the police," April volunteered.

Ash grinned. "We made a pretty good team!"

"I don't think we'll be coming back to New York any time soon," Jessie and James gulped.

"Yeah, the place is even weirder than usual," Meowth said.

"Maybe it's because of Halloween just around the corner," Raphael smiled. "Although our city is almost always pretty weird."

Baxter chuckled.

"We'll probably be moving on too," Brock said.

"And hope that the next place won't be as strange," Misty said.

"And that the Pokemon won't be so scarce," Ash added. "There's not a lot of them around here."

"Oh, there's a lot," Meowth said. "They just know how to blend in and hide in the big city."

Barney looked to Team Rocket. "Have you decided what you're going to do yet?"

They looked at each other. "We haven't," James admitted. "Maybe when things quiet down we can think about it better."

"Well, don't take too long," Barney advised. "I almost did and it nearly cost me my life."

"You're not mad about the food, are you?" James asked.

"Not really," Barney shrugged. "I half-expected it."

"What about sticking around to give statements to the police?" Misty asked.

"The police?!" Jessie and James echoed, looking at each other in horror.

"You weren't doing anything wrong," Leonardo pointed out. "And you actually helped during the battle."

Barney nodded. "If there aren't any active warrants out on you here, you should be fine."

James rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, honestly . . ."

". . . We're not sure where all we have active warrants," Jessie admitted.

Meowth facepalmed. "Oy. . . ."

Ash rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that's Team Rocket for you."

Michelangelo looked back at the wax figure of Baxter as he moved to usher Flem up the stairs. He shuddered. "Um, Dudes? You won't bring a souvenir back this time, will you?"

Leonardo gave him a kind smile. "No, Michelangelo. Not this time."

"You did the first time?" Barney frowned. "That's rather demented."

"Yeah, it probably was," Raphael said. "But we thought the one of Master Splinter would be good for a few laughs. Flem hadn't tried to wax the real one, so . . ." He shrugged.

"I guess that makes sense," Barney relented. "Maybe."

Baxter laid a hand on Michelangelo's shoulder. "Hopefully we'll never have to come back to this place again," he said kindly.

"Oh, totally, Dude," Michelangelo said. "I never wanna see it again."

"And I'm pretty sure Monroe Q. Flem won't ever see it again," Raphael said. "I'm sure this time he'll be off to the nuthouse for life."

Flem just scowled. "This is all my mother's fault," he grumbled.

"Uh . . . why?" Ash blinked.

"Because she gave away my pet turtle!" Flem roared.

". . . Okay." Ash rocked back, utter disbelief in his eyes.

"Let's not ask him any more questions," Brock whispered.

"I'm with you," Ash nodded.

xxxx

By the time the group arrived back on the main floor and outside on the grounds, the police cars were starting to arrive. It was to no great surprise to anyone that Team Rocket immediately made themselves scarce. But Barney gave a weary sigh and adjusted his glasses.

"Those three remind me so much of myself," he said to Baxter and Vincent. "It's not pleasant to remember, either."

"Those times are over now," Baxter said with a kind smile.

"And maybe those three will find a new path in life too," Vincent said. "At least we can hope. They've been introduced to the idea that Team Rocket isn't the only path for them. I have the feeling that's never really been suggested before."

"It hasn't been," Ash mumbled. "Even though they've helped out sometimes, we've never really thought of them like they could be good guys."

"And that's completely understandable," Barney said. "They probably don't think it of themselves either. They're supposed to be bad, so they tell themselves they are. Maybe sometimes, they really believe it. It hurts to see my story reflected in theirs."

Baxter laid a hand on his shoulder. "I know," he said softly. "But maybe eventually their story will have a happy outcome and a new beginning, just like yours."

"All of ours," Vincent said.

"Hey, it's totally something to hope for," Michelangelo said. "And maybe you'll see them again and can encourage them some more."

"Maybe," Barney said. "Too much pushing can have the opposite effect, as Baxter learned when handling me. He had to say his piece and wait for me to be ready to accept it. I've said my piece to those kids. Now I have to wait for them to accept it."

"It sounds like a drag," Michelangelo said. "But I hear you. You can't force anyone to change."

"We'll see what happens," Baxter said.

"That's all we can do," Barney agreed.

"Michelangelo . . ." Baxter looked at his friend in concern. "Will you be alright? I can only imagine how horrible it was for you when you saw that blasted wax figure."

Michelangelo gave him a genuine smile. "I'll be okay, Baxter Dude, since you're okay."

"I hope so," Baxter said. He was sure the experience would net at least a few nightmares for Michelangelo, and Barney and Vincent as well. From the other Turtles' expressions, they felt the same. Michelangelo was doing so much better, but continually stumbling on heartbreaking experiences could not be helping.

"Even though it was only for a moment, thinking that thing was you was horrible," Barney rasped.

Vincent was in complete agreement. "We really thought you were dead."

"I'm so sorry," Baxter told them.

"I know." Barney sighed. "This has been another night for the books. I'm almost afraid to know what's going to happen tomorrow."

"Well," said Vincent, "let's just focus on the here and now. We have to tell the police what happened."

"Oh, that's going to be fun," Barney grunted, the sarcasm dripping from his voice.

"Come on, kids," Raphael said, addressing the group at large. "We'll make our statements and pack ol' Flem here away and then have a pizza."

"Mondo notion!" Michelangelo exclaimed.

"I knew that would perk him up," Raphael said.

"Are we invited too?" Ash said in surprise.

"Sure, why not," Raphael said. "We'll go to Vinnie's or something."

"Alright!" Ash's eyes gleamed.

Barney had to idly wonder if Team Rocket was still in hearing range and if they would come out also hoping to join in once they were away from the police. That would be fine with him.

He wasn't sure how their story would turn out, although he knew how he wanted it to. Meanwhile, he was very happy at how everyone had come out of this latest mess alive and well. He would try to focus on that instead of those horrifying moments when they had encountered the wax figure of Baxter.

Of course, it was easy enough to tell that to himself when he was awake. Once he was asleep, he might not be able to control the night terrors. But at least he could wake up and find that all was well. He could deal with the nightmares under those circumstances. From Vincent's expression, he felt the same.

Barney looked to where Baxter was laughing and talking with Michelangelo and smiled.