No, I haven't forgotten certain epilogues. This is just the product of late night distractions. Hee.

Set in the post-Fast Forward universe, just an extrapolation on what might be.

Disclaimer: TMNT and all associated properties don't belong to me, yada yada, fun not profit, yada.

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Black Danube

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Lately the dynamic had changed, and he couldn't fathom why

It was hardly as if it kept him awake at night. He had more important things to obsess over. But every now and then … looking over reports, tuning out Stockman's inane self-adulation, riding the elevator between floors … he would remember the look in their eyes over the drawn sword at his throat, and he would wonder.

The four turtles and the rat had disappeared off the radar for over a month. Something he paid note to and recorded out of duty and habit; by then, Agent Bishop had moved on to other avenues of research. If he were totally honest with himself, the mutants could give him nothing else to work with. He'd already extracted everything from them that he needed. Any desire to study them further, dissect them, had dulled somewhat given the assistance they'd loaned to him both willingly and unwittingly in the past. Bishop would admit to himself that he'd indulged his cruel streak in the past, but of late the turtles had proven to be useful tools. Ones he could potentially manipulate for greater gains in the future.

So he left them be. Noted that they had vanished, recorded when they returned. Kept a loose surveillance on their activities topside, as he always had. It was procedure.

And then, inevitably, their paths had crossed again, once again at odds with each other. Bishop called it a difference in opinion; clearly, his idea on what was good for the protection of mankind was not one shared by the sewer freaks. But they had fought, and he had bested them as he always did, up to and until the point Michelangelo had come a little too close, and Bishop had reacted ruthlessly enough. A broken arm, and the orange-banded turtle had been flung face first into a cabinet, and suddenly the mood had turned … vicious.

Less than thirty seconds later, and Bishop was suddenly, painfully aware that the four of them had been holding back. It was an oddity that kept him distracted for another two seconds. Then he ducked to avoid the flung sai that scraped a line past his ear, and he frowned. There was a sharp yell from Leonardo, an attempt to rein in a suddenly murderous Raphael even as the eldest of the turtles turned twin ninjaken against him in a dizzying blur of cold skill, and Bishop realised that a line had been crossed.

Nevertheless, he was still more than a match for the two of them.

It was when Donatello – pausing long enough to help his wounded brother to his feet – finally joined the fray that the tide turned against him. Three angry ninja, clearly more skilled than the last time they'd fought, and Bishop found himself looking for an escape route. He never played the odds, after all. But luck was against him that day; a shuriken thrown from the far edge of the room, Michelangelo glowering at him with his arm bent at an unnatural angle, and Bishop found his sleeve caught against the wall. A minor annoyance. But it delayed him long enough that the sai plunged into the wall and pinned his other arm.

And suddenly, there he was with a sword against his throat.

Bishop smiled. Wasn't concerned. Met Leonardo's cool gaze and contemplated escape strategies that would no doubt be successful; he hadn't survived all these years by luck alone.

The blue-banded turtle lifted his other sword, and he tensed against the wall, ready to move. He was more than willing to let the sai tear through flesh if need be. Then Leonardo flicked the tip of the sword up to rest under his eye, and with one gentle move lifted the sunglasses away, and Bishop blinked.

Leonardo smiled at him. It didn't reach his eyes. "Don. How much time do you need?"

"Two minutes, tops." Donatello shot Bishop a doubtful look and then moved away, rummaging through the bag at his shoulder.

It didn't take any amount of genius to realise they were going to destroy this lab. Bishop raised an eyebrow. He supposed he should move to stop them. The knowledge that something was distinctly out of place in this confrontation held him still. Sheer curiosity, as he stared back at that strange smile.

"Fifteen minute timer," Leonardo said absently, still watching Bishop. The sunglasses slid down the edge of the second ninjaken and he flicked them away onto the floor. "Give the staff enough time to evacuate."

Raphael scowled. "What about him?"

Bishop smirked. Raphael stepped forward with a snarl and stopped as the sword barred his path. Leonardo met Bishop's smirk with a look of chilled annoyance, and shook his head. "Not now, Raph. Go help Mikey. We're out as soon as Don's done."

Raphael spat something venomous and stalked away. It would be too easy now, Bishop mused; to turn the tables and remove the sword from his throat and perhaps give the turtles a practical demonstration of why he shouldn't be underestimated. Yet Leonardo still held his gaze, and the look in his eyes was strange enough that Bishop took several seconds to place it.

Finally, he moved. Tugged one sleeve free of the shuriken with measured care and reached carefully to pluck the sai from the wall. The sword stayed at his throat, no more threatening, no less. Leonardo seemed quite content for him to do so. It was …disconcerting.

All four of them, staring at him with that look in their eyes. Weeks later, when he'd written off the destruction of the lab officially as an accident and moved on, Bishop remembered the oddity of that encounter. It was fascinating.

And it changed everything. Slightly, subtly, he found himself toying with them. Give and take; deliberately moving through their sphere of influence, goading them into attacking him, a dance of suspect motivations and scientific curiosity. To this day, Bishop wondered what had changed to make the mutants change tactics; always, forever, they would meet his challenge.

And always, forever, they would pull back and let him walk away. A restraint that wasn't there before. The turtles had no interest in stopping him any more. Instead, they watched. And waited. As if they were expecting him to do something.

In the end, he found it irritating. As if he were being judged ahead of time. Bishop wondered whether he should just put an end to it and destroy the four of them before whatever they were waiting for came to pass. Clearly, there was some threat on the horizon that he was unaware of. And they knew it.

Yet when the opportunity presented itself to kill them – and though their skills had improved, they were still quite capable of being careless and overconfident – he found that he let such windows slide by as if it no longer interested him to seek their destruction.

Really, it was getting on his nerves.

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Mikey's injuries had nearly been a breaking point. It had taken a lot of effort for Leo to hold Raphael back from trying to kill Bishop, more so because he was trying to bite his own fury back. It was harder than he'd thought to show such restraint. Bishop in this time was still every inch a bastard. But they knew what the future held, and some days Leo found himself wishing he didn't. In 2105, Bishop had proven to them how much he'd changed. Not something that readily came to mind when they fought with him now … but in the end, it was knowledge that stayed their hand, again and again.

It was driving them all nuts. Especially Raph. Who was arguing loudly, yet again, for them to ignore what they knew of the future and live in the here and now.

"—fuck's sake, Leo, we're practically protectin' the asshole, all because he might turn out to be the almighty president and saviour of the universe—"

"I'm not so sure his influence extended as far as the universe, Raph." Don spoke mildly, but the tapping of his fingers on the table told Leo all he needed to know. He wasn't the only one sick of this argument. But then, he wasn't sure if he was annoyed that Raph brought it up … or that Raph just might have a point.

He still wasn't sure, even now.

"Whatever," Raph snapped. "I'm just sayin'. Where do we draw the line? This guy lives for gettin' on our nerves. You sure you wanna live with that?"

Leo gave a faint shrug and concentrated on polishing the sword currently resting across his lap. "He'll move on," he said evenly. "I'm not saying we need to be gentle. I just don't think killing him is wise."

"Leo's right," Mikey added cheerfully. "I mean, dead people can't win elections or make nice with your local space-faring tentacle monsters. Least, I don't think so. Hey Don, can you win an election if you're dead?"

Don raised an eye ridge. "Mikey, that has to be the stupidest question I've heard you ask all week."

"Hey! It's a fair one!"

Raph made a disgusted sound. "Fine. Just one question, then. Bishop doesn't have any such noble thoughts about us. You ever thought what you'll do if he goes too far?"

Valid question. The most important one at hand. And still the one that kept him awake at night. After all, Bishop's road to the future might be altered here just by their knowledge of it, according to Don; Leo didn't try to get his head around that one. Instead, he worried about the unknowns. Bishop might find his redemption, but there was nothing written about whether the rest of them survived the process.

"What if," Raph said softly by his ear, pressing the point home, "Bishop ends up killin' one of us?"

He won't get the chance. Ever.

Leo shifted to his feet in one smooth motion, sheathing the sword with a sharp enough sound that Don and Mikey glanced up at him.

"Then we take him out," he said simply.

After that, the subject was dropped.

For another week or two.