Fanfic notes: I originally wrote this for a TMNT Fanfiction Challenge. So it's all just a bit of fun. I hope you enjoy reading it.
On Your Own
Shredder grunted as he shifted Krang's cumbersome metal workbench over to the left a couple of inches. By no means was it an unusual task on its own, however it was odd because he had done the act several times now. Out of the corner of his eye, Shredder could see his top-heavy captive, April O'Neil, raise an eyebrow at his weird antics. The villain frowned behind his metal mask, just knowing the woman was going to open her mouth again. He just knew it. She could never keep it shut. He wondered why he didn't just gag her, but then again, it was always slightly amusing to hear what she had to say. He figured he had to occupy himself somehow while he waited for those stupid mutants to come and rescue her.
"Why do you keep doing moving that desk?" April wondered. It wasn't as though she cared, but just like Shredder, she also had to occupy herself while she waited for her shelled friends.
"Why do you insist on speaking?" Shredder sternly responded, reminding April of his initial rules about speaking.
April glowered back and wriggled uncomfortably in the chair she was tied to. A few seconds later, once she had given up trying to escape, Shredder could hear her mutter, "I can't believe I'm missing the story of the century." Leaning against the bench he had just moved, Shredder crossed his arms and stared at her. He sighed. Just looking at her in that yellow news reporter outfit (which Shredder believed was the only thing she wore) made him feel tired. Miss O'Neil was just so career focused, that sometimes he wondered if the woman was hanging out with those pesky turtles just because they seemed to know where all the good news stories were. Kidnapping April was always a sure-fire plan to attract the turtles and yet it was also so mentally draining to be around someone who was just so immersed with their work. How could someone love their job that much? Even when kidnapped, tied to a chair, in the middle of the Technodrome, and while staring at the self-proclaimed, hottest ninjitsu master in the world, Miss O'Neil still thought about her work.
Naturally, spending time with the woman always forced Shredder to look more critically at his own career. With all honestly, he was quite a lazy man and it scared him to think of all the things he would have to do once he had gained control over the entire world. Then again, he thoroughly enjoyed bossing other people around, and so it was the perks of the job that attracted him. But then there was Krang…
"Shredder!" As Shredder was entering that line of thought, sure enough, his partner in crime rolled into the room, warbling his name as usual. "Have you calibrated the Doomsday Duel-Shock X-ray Missile Launcher yet?" Krang asked with that annoying voice of his, referring to the second part of their plan that would be put into action once the turtles arrived.
"Of course I did! What do I look like? Some kind of fool?" Shredder retorted. It irritated Shredder that Krang felt the need to constantly check up on him. There was no faith or trust in their partnership. No praise or compliments. It was all 'use and abuse' and Shredder was quickly getting tired of it. And if Krang was going to be so pedantic about it, then why on earth didn't just calibrate his ridiculous invention himself?
Krang simply muttered his response under his breath and left the room. As soon that the little, pink invalid was gone, Shredder immediately turned around and shifted the large workbench a few more inches to the left. "What are you doing?" The woman couldn't help but ask again, bringing the conversation full circle.
"If you must know, I'm pulling a prank on that imbecile, Krang." He could have stopped there, but he liked the sound of his voice too much. "I'm curious to see just how observant he really is. So every time he leaves the room, I move his desk five inches to the left, just to see how far it can get before he notices it."
April thought this was all very weird… and quite sad, yet she was curious nonetheless. "So how far have you moved it so far?"
"Three feet," Shredder guessed. The woman looked genuinely amazed. "I've been doing this all day," Shredder added in response to her expression.
"Do you even like Krang?" April wondered out loud.
"Of course not." Even though his response was immediate, Shredder was still shocked by the words that had just popped out of his mouth. There, he said it. He hated his partner and now it was out in the open. Shredder began to wonder how long he had felt like this.
The woman hummed while she was deep in thought, somehow finding this bit of news all very intriguing. "Your case reminds me of that news story I did a while ago about disgruntled employees," April commented. Shredder didn't know what disturbed him more – the fact that she thought that he was an employee of Krang, or the fact that she had once again mentioned her work.
He was just about to correct her when all of a sudden Bebop and Rocksteady entered the room. "Boss!" Bebop hurriedly snorted. Shredder smirked at the title the mutant had appointed him and hoped that Miss O'Neil would take notice.
"What is it?" Shredder snapped at them all the same. He liked keeping his henchmen on their toes.
"We've seen no sign of the turtles yet!" Bebop hurriedly announced. Shredder groaned, as he honestly believed that the hog had something important to say for once.
"Then get back out there and keep standing guard!" Shredder bellowed. Bebop snorted in agreement, however Rocksteady strangely kept quiet. Even though he was a complete simpleton, the mutant thug had somehow managed to notice something that a (supposedly) intelligent talking alien brain had not.
"Boss… I think that table has moved!" Rocksteady noticed. Shredder raised an eyebrow, not because he was impressed with the rhinoceros for actually noticing, but rather because the beast sounded frightened for some reason. "This room must be haunted!" Rocksteady miraculously came to the most ridiculous conclusion of all. Shredder rolled his eyes.
"It's not haunted, you fool! Now get back to work!" Shredder angrily commanded.
"But what if this place really is haunted?" Bebop wondered. Great, just great. Now Shredder had two idiots.
"Fine! Whatever! Go ahead and salt and burn Krang's possessions. But just make sure you keep a look out for those turtles!" Shredder ordered, deciding to just play along with their overactive imaginations for the time being as long as his message about guarding the Technodrome was getting through to them. With an obedient nod after realizing that they had overstayed their welcome, the two mutant henchmen left the room.
"I wonder what happened to my camera crew," Shredder heard Miss O'Neil mutter to herself. He groaned at the woman's comment about work and once again considered gagging her. While pondering to himself about what he could stuff down her throat, Shredder jumped in surprise when a loud siren started blaring. A second later, the sprinkler system fired off millions of little droplets of water, quickly soaking Shredder's cape and ruining April's professionally administered makeup. There was no doubt that something had gone horribly wrong. Without a moment to lose, Shredder untied and tossed April over his shoulder and headed towards the nearest fire escape.
It was only when he was outside of the Technodrome that Shredder realized that the alarm wasn't a trick deployed by his enemies, but rather the spherical building really was ablaze with ferocious flames. Once she was thrown off the villain's shoulder, even April couldn't tear her eyes away from the sight of the fire licking and devouring the insides of the Technodrome. Shredder's mind was so blank with disbelief that he didn't even think about his comrades until they personally spoke to him. "Shredder!" Krang wailed, hopelessly wheeling around in his scorched metal seat. "Shredder! What, what happened?" The alien continued to blubber on. Krang couldn't bear the sight of seeing his home burn to the ground. Shredder thought Krang's heart was going to break in two – that is, if a disembodied talking alien brain had a heart.
"Boss!" Bebop and Rocksteady's simultaneous call could be heard as the two lumbering brutes emerged from the burning wreckage. "We got rid of that ghost!" Rocksteady happily announced. Shredder's eyes went wide with disbelief. Did the mutants just say what Shredder thought they had said? Were they really that stupid?
"You moronic nincompoops! You burnt down the Technodrome!" Shredder exclaimed in disbelief. Bebop snorted in defiance.
"But you were the one who told us to do it!" Bebop replied, obviously confused.
"Shredder, what is the meaning of this?" Krang grew more and more alarmed when the truth of the matter finally revealed itself. Shredder was speechless for once. "Is this true?" Krang uttered, sounding quite hurt.
It was at that moment when the turtles finally arrived. Like everyone else, they gawked at the fiery scene before them. Leonardo scratched at his bald scalp as he amusingly wondered who on earth had done their work for them. It was Donatello who spotted April. There was no fight. All of the villains were too busy arguing amongst themselves to notice their presence. It was easy for April to simply slink away from Shredder and Krang's side. "Are you okay?" Leonardo quietly whispered to his human friend after she had successfully rejoined them. They wasted no time in walking away from the site.
"I'm fine. But I just know that I've missed out on a great story," April muttered.
In the meantime, Shredder continued to argue with Krang. "It isn't my fault that I am surrounded by imbeciles!" It was his excuse every time and Krang knew it.
"It's never your fault, is it, Shredder?" Krang sneered, crossing his little stubby tentacles across his brainy body.
"Of course it isn't! I'm the only competent person here!" Shredder complained.
"You're always blaming someone else for your mistakes. And don't talk to me about competence. Without me you'd be nothing but a failure," Krang metaphorically gave Shredder a piece of his mind.
"A failure!?" Shredder couldn't help but repeat the alien brain's hypocrisy. He subconsciously clenched his fists in a fit of rage. The man had had enough. Krang had no idea how much he was riling Shredder up, as this was how he usually spoke to him after their many, many failed attempts of world domination. Usually Shredder would just tolerate it, but today he couldn't. After spending 'quality' time with Miss O'Neil and being reduced to some kind of lackey or guard dog, Shredder forced himself to realize just how pathetic his life really was. After all, he did spend the majority of the day moving a desk across a room and inadvertently burning down his workplace was probably going to be the most enjoyable thing he had done all week. So what exactly was he doing with his life? Was he as excited about his job as Miss O'Neil? And if he did indeed want to continue with being a criminal mastermind, then did he really need Krang? Was the alien simply holding him back? Could he do better without him?
"Yes, you're a giant failure! If you weren't my arms and legs, I wouldn't keep you around!" Krang continued to squawk while Shredder silently fumed. Finally Krang stopped for a second when he noticed Shredder's serious gaze.
"Krang… I'm leaving you," Shredder solemnly announced. Krang sucked in a deep breath out of shock. Even Bebop and Rocksteady held confused faces, which was a normal expression for them to hold anyway.
It wasn't the reaction Krang was expecting from Shredder, as all he really wanted to do was to chastise and belittle his partner's intelligence like always. If they were in ordinary circumstances, then Krang would have probably entered into fit of panic after hearing that threat. But they weren't in ordinary circumstances this time around, and since Krang had just lost his home, there was only enough room inside his round body for anger. His fury was justified when he witnessed, in his peripheral vision, a large section of the burning Technodrome collapse. "Fine! Leave! See if I care! I don't want you around wrecking our plans any more. Let's see how far you get on your own!" Krang melodramatically yelled, frantically waving his little pink tentacles around.
"Fine. We're done," Shredder darkly muttered. As he stalked off into the unknown, Krang quivered as the feeling of loneliness enveloped him. In one day he had lost both his home and his slave. Now all he had were two mutant idiots. Although he was extremely angry about what happened to the Technodrome, deep down he knew that things wouldn't be the same without Shredder.
But Oroku Saki didn't feel the same way about Krang. As soon as he surfaced above ground and took in a fresh breath of New York's smog, he felt like a free man. But as he quickly found out, he was a free man without money. Shredder was immediately faced with the problem of where he was going to sleep that night. In fact, he had mooched off of Krang's facilities for so long that he had almost forgotten the etiquette on how to book a hotel room in the first place. But being optimistic, he tried his luck anyway and it didn't take him long to spot a lavish hotel that he fancied. So, still wearing his shiny armor, he decided to hang out in the lobby, hoping to come up with a plan on how to steal someone else's room. Yet he wasn't exactly the most inconspicuous figure and it seemed that security had their eye on him as soon as he entered the building.
"Um, sir?" a lowly bellboy was the first to approach Shredder while he was casually lounging about on one of the couches.
"What do you want?" Shredder demanded.
"Are you a guest here?" the teenage worker asked. Shredder did some shifty eye movements.
"Yes," he answered after a five-second silence.
"Where is the key to your room?" the bellboy wondered. Shredder knew he was onto him. Suddenly the teenager was shadowed by three of the hotel's security guards. Shredder wondered if he could take them all on, however one of the men looked like he carried more muscle than Rocksteady.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but loitering isn't allowed here," the burly guard said as he puffed out his chest, making himself look even bigger. Shredder sighed. He didn't want to get his armor dirty, so he decided that fighting against all four of them wasn't really worth it.
Embarrassed as he was basically kicked out by a bellboy, Shredder continued to roam the streets of New York. It didn't take him long to realize that no matter where he went, he would need money. So before he could pay for accommodation, he needed to find a job.
Or better still, he could just resort to stealing.
That was the new and improved plan that he had in his mind when he passed a paint-chipped and slob-infested comic book store. Judging from the look of the storefront itself, Shredder figured that he wasn't going to have any problems this time around with security guards. Entering with the intent of robbing the place, Shredder was taken aback when the obese male shop assistant greeting him with a relieved smile. "I was wondering when you were going to arrive," the man said. Shredder raised an eyebrow at his T-shirt which had 'I 'heart' the Comic Book Store Guy' written in big black letters, complete with the yellow face of the repulsive Simpsons character.
"You're a bit late, but I'll forgive you since you went to the effort of getting dressed up," the man continued.
"I always dress like this. What's wrong with it?" Shredder sternly asked. He knew the shop assistant had obviously confused him with someone else, but Shredder still disliked it when others commented on his choice of fashion. Honestly, do people realize how hard it is for a man to pull off sterling silver?
"Nothing. I'm just pleased that you're really taking the initiative and getting into this job," the large man complimented.
"Job?" Shredder's ears picked up that key word.
"I don't know who you're dressed up as, but that doesn't matter. I'm sure you'll attract customers either way," the man continued to talk. Shredder looked on as the shopkeeper pulled out a large piece of cardboard from under his desk. "Now slip this on and stand outside. Try to advertise the sale we have today on the classic Marvel action comics," he instructed, practically shoving the large sign which read 'Sale today!' into Shredder's stunned hands. Figuring that now that he seemed to have a job, Shredder reverted back to his original plan and grudgingly slipped the length of rope that was attached to the sign over his head.
It was starting to get cold outside and Shredder grimaced as the tacky large piece of cardboard annoyingly flapped in the breeze. "What are you looking at?" Shredder grunted when he caught someone staring at him. Appalled by his comment, the potential customer moved on. After an hour of getting weird stares and old grannies saying, "now who are you supposed to be?" as though he was some preadolescent trick-or-treater, the dissatisfied shop assistant decided to confront him.
"I know you are new at this, but I haven't seen you make an honest effort in getting people into the store. I don't want you to feel pressured or anything, but try to step it up," the obese man critiqued before returning back inside to work the register. If he weren't getting paid, then Shredder would have punished the man for his insolence.
"Hey!" Shredder yelled at a lone woman as she made her way along the sidewalk. "Step inside," Shredder ordered.
"Excuse me?" the lady started to get defensive and she subconsciously clutched her purse tighter.
"Come inside," Shredder pointed to the door behind him. The woman found him slightly creepy. She tried to step around him but Shredder moved in front of her.
"Miss, I think you want to go inside." Shredder's words came across in a threatening manner, almost reminding the woman of the large, blunt bouncers that usually guarded the doors to nightclubs. She suddenly wanted to flee.
"Leave me alone!" she yelled as loud as she could, getting the attention of people from across the street. Shredder looked on in puzzlement as she fled. Unfortunately for him, her scream was loud enough for the comic book store shop assistant to hear her. A few seconds later, he was outside again, frowning at Shredder.
"Can I have the sign back please," the shop assistant ordered. Angry, Shredder whipped it over his head and shoved it in the obese man's hands. He was back to where he started. Except now it was colder outside.
Slinking around the block, the alluring, warm of smell food enticed him to enter a small French restaurant. Still not having any money to spend, especially since he had left the comic book store in such a huff, Shredder knew that he couldn't even order anything, at least not without a few dollars in his pocket. So not wanting to waste any more time, he asked to speak to the manager.
"Can I help you?" a man with a European accent asked.
"I want a job," Shredder grunted.
The manager chuckled a little at the villain's boldness. "Well at least you know what you want. I admire that," the man smirked. "So why do you want to work here?"
"I like knives and I enjoy cutting into things with them," Shredder answered. The manager smiled a little.
"It's good to see that you have a sense of humor-"
"-I wasn't trying to be funny," Shredder cut him off. The manager chuckled again; still thinking it was all a joke, especially since Shredder's clothes were so odd.
"I tell you what – I'll give you trial. Just take off some of your… shoulder pads and shin guards and I'll get you started right away," the manager offered, pausing slightly when he realized that he had no clue as to what Shredder was wearing.
"I'm not removing my armor. My blades are a part of me," Shredder seriously informed the man.
"Okay then," the manager muttered to himself, already beginning to doubt whether giving the villain a trial was such a great idea. He gave Shredder a tour of the facilities before leaving him under the supervision of one of the chefs. "Okay, have a go. If you have any problems, just see me," the manager said before leaving the kitchen.
"What's with the outfit?" It was the first thing the chef said to Shredder and his only response was a dark glare. Being a disgruntled worker, the chef didn't really care if the new recruit disliked him. "Here's a menu. Do me a favor and whip up the sixth dish listed," the chef arrogantly instructed before tending to his own cooking.
Shredder raised an eyebrow at the menu. He couldn't understand a word of it as it used arty farty French descriptions. 'Emblazoned with a pastiche of fine seasonings.' So what on earth was that supposed to mean? All that Shredder could make sense of the five sentences which made up the description was that the dish consisted of chicken, brandy, a bunch of herbs and a sauce. So he popped a chicken fillet into the microwave and once it was thoroughly nuked, he sloshed on the alcohol, sprinkled some garlic, added ketchup, sliced it up a bit with the blades on his gauntlet before finally handing it to the most attractive waitress. He was usually quite a fine cook, that is, when he was baking Japanese dishes. But he figured that at least some of his skills would transpire onto a French menu.
Ten minutes later Shredder stopped deluding himself and simply resorted to eating as much food as he could from the completed dishes that the other chef had cooked. He was asked to leave the restaurant another five minutes later.
It was now raining outside and Shredder still had nowhere to go. With the rain falling down harder and harder, it didn't take long till he had to take shelter, this time in a doughnut shop. He groaned when he noticed that there was a 'no loitering' sign within the store. With no money, he wasn't a customer, but he didn't want to face the cold either. A sign advertising a job position was found tacked up against the wall adjacent to the front counter. With absolutely nothing else to do, Shredder applied for the position and demanded to be interviewed immediately.
The tired, blurry-eyed manager sat down with Shredder at one of the booths and tried not to gawk too much at his armor. "So do you have work experience in the food industry?" the young adult asked.
"I do. It's written on my resume," Shredder said.
"Is this written on a napkin?" the manager scoffed in disbelief when Shredder handed it over.
"No it's just a specially permeated form of paper so that it can stand out from the other applications," Shredder lied his way through the question. In reality he had just scribbled down in pen the experience he had just gained while working in the French restaurant. But it included fancy words like, 'attributed', 'complimented', 'assisted', 'contributed' and 'took initiative', so it looked like he had actually done something.
Judging the manager's expression, Shredder thought he would be out of luck this time around, but the bored employer surprised him with an unexpected offer. "Look, normally I wouldn't accept applications like this, but because we're short staffed tonight, I'm going to give you a trial," he said.
Before Shredder knew it, he found himself thrown into another dead-end job. At first it was exciting to try something new, but now it had just become incredibly irritating. Was working in this greasy place really the best he could do? It wasn't long till Shredder began to wonder how Krang was getting along. Starting to miss his old life and loathing his new one, Shredder became incredibly disgruntled with the customers that seemed to constantly bug him.
"Can I have a chocolate iced doughnut?" a teenage girl asked. Shredder grabbed a tight little bag and used his fingers to plop the doughy ring inside. "Um, can I get another one?" the girl awkwardly asked.
"Why?" Shredder demanded an answer.
"Because you used your hands. Just get another one using the tongs." Shredder heaved an annoyed sigh, picked up the metal tongs and reached for another doughnut. "No, not that one. That one. The one with the green sprinkles," the girl instructed.
"All the sprinkles taste the same. What's the point?" Shredder remained stubborn.
"I just like the color," the girl innocently answered, quite surprised with his attitude.
"Too bad. I'm color blind," Shredder lied, shoving the doughnut that was closest to him inside the bag. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, can I have a cinnamon one as well?"
"Where the shell are they?" Shredder asked as he scanned his eyes across the display counter, not realizing that he had accidentally used one of his enemy's sayings. After all, some of them were rather catchy.
"Um, I think you might have to bake another one," the girl nervously said.
"How do I do that?" Shredder grumpily stared at the boiling vat of oil and the tub of mixed dough.
"There should be a button which starts the conveyor belt." Before the girl could say more, Shredder simply used a spatula and dropped in a large dollop of the dough into the oil.
"How long do I cook it for?" Shredder grumped.
"I dunno. Two minutes?"
Shredder watched as it sizzled, forgetting that the lump of dough had to be turned over so it could be cooked evenly. When the time was up, still using the tongs, he pulled out the half-burnt chunk and rolled it around in the bowl of cinnamon. "Um, doughnuts usually have a hole in them." Now this girl was getting picky. To shut her up, Shredder stabbed the center of the lump with his gauntlet (which he was still wearing as once again he refused to remove his armor).
"There!" He plunked the girl's order in front of her and grabbed the cash out of her shocked, outstretched hand. "Have a nice day," Shredder muttered. Overhearing the entire transaction, the manager pulled Shredder aside as soon as he had a free moment. The villain didn't even know he was being watched, not that he would have changed his behavior either way.
"I'm sorry, but I don't think you're… suited for this job position," the manager informed Shredder.
"Has it stopped raining?" Shredder wondered.
"I think so." Before the manager could say more, Shredder had already walked out the door.
The world was harsh and cruel, where there didn't seem to be a place for an ex-criminal mastermind. Shredder realized that by walking out on his old life, he had nothing; being forced to start right at the very bottom of the career ladder where he had no power at all and with employers who treated him worse than Krang ever did. Shredder just didn't get along with regular society, but his little band of misfits was where he felt he belonged.
He found himself drawn back towards the burnt remains of the Technodrome. Nothing had been done. Krang just sat outside the blackened entrance, at a complete loss as to what he should do. In Shredder's absence, Krang had realized just how much Shredder did for him, and that without his help, nothing at all would be accomplished. The Technodrome just couldn't be rebuilt without Shredder's much-needed input.
It was the reason why Krang's eyes lit up when he saw Shredder's lone figure in the distance. Letting the emotions take over, Krang started to frantically wheel towards him. Shredder also started to break out into a run, not wanting to be away from his home for another second. They moved faster and faster towards each other, neither really knowing what they were going to do once they met. But they didn't have to think about it too much, as right when they were only a few feet apart, one of Krang's flimsy wheels broke off, sending the alien flying towards Shredder. He caught the little brain like a small, pink football. Krang wrapped his tentacles around Shredder's torso mainly to doubly ensure that he didn't fall to the ground. If someone didn't know any better, they would think the two villains were hugging.
And that was exactly what Bebop and Rocksteady thought they were doing. Seeing his presence and getting into the same emotions like two giant copycats, the two mutants lumbered towards him. "Boss!" They yelled out in excitement as they tackle-glomped Shredder and Krang to the ground.
"Get off of me!" Shredder demanded after finding himself being hugged by one too many people. Krang also quickly separated himself from the dog pile. The alien brushed himself off as though he was repulsed with what had happened, but Shredder knew that Krang really needed that little accidental hug.
"Good. You're back," Krang said bluntly. "Now get to work," he squabbled. Shredder smiled behind his metal mask, as this was what he was used to and where he belonged. It was a nice feeling to know he was missed and by no means did Shredder want to leave his colleagues' sides any time soon. There was just no place like home.