A/N: I don't know what to tell you about this, except that it's going to be one heck of a ride. Hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I don't own the TMNT, Splinter, Casey, April, or any other character that you recognize. I don't own X-men, Tarzan, anything related to Disney, or any other company or merchandise mentioned. I don't own the songs the inspired this, including everything on the Evanescence album 'Fallen', Bebo Norman's song 'Where the Angels Sleep', Vertical Horizons 'I'm Still Here' and Avril Lavigne's 'I'm With You'. I do own the handful of OCs that you will see, but I don't care about them, really.
Summary: Donnie's newest invention causes a rift in the family that prompts the young turtle to chase his own dreams. But, as Donatello soon discovers, simply looking human isn't enough to save you from humanities darkest side. Meanwhile, Splinter and his brothers will do anything to make their family complete once again.
Journey to Shangri La
"Donnie, Donnie, what does this panel say? You're supposed to read this one next!" Mikey pointed excitedly, shifting his weight back and forth so fast he was bouncing and nearly hitting his head on the bed above them. Don had to wonder how Leo managed to avoid hitting his head every morning, since it was technically his bed they were sitting on. Both his and Mikey's beds had far too much stuff on it for both of them to sit and have Don read Michelangelo his bedtime comic book story.
Don grinned, doing his best growling voice, "Watch it, Bub. Those threads don't exactly come cheap."
"H'yes!" Mikey punched the air, grinning ridiculously. "Wolverine totally rocks!"
The purple-clad turtle couldn't stop smiling as he turned the page, proud that his ability as the only one of the four five-year-old brothers that could read without Master Splinter's help could make Michelangelo so happy. He switched voices, aiming for the high whiney ones he used for villains. "You won't get away with this, freak!"
"I'll show you who's the freak," Mikey recited with him, imitating Don's imitation of Wolverine, before pointing excitedly to the smaller words next to the character's claws. "What's that word say, Donnie?"
"It says 'shink'."
"What's that mean?"
"I think it's the sound his claws are supposed to make, but let me check." Don leapt of Leo's bed and scrambled over to his, looking for the dictionary—or most of a dictionary anyway—that Master Splinter had brought him back from one of his foraging trips.
"Give me the remote, Raph," Don heard Leo growl as he reached the top bunk. "I was watching that movie!"
"And I'm going to be watching world wrestling, so shove off. I got the remote from you fair and square."
"We're supposed to share, not steal it! If I had it first, you can't change it without my permission."
Don grabbed the battered and slightly waterlogged book, climbing back down as the TV flipped between wrestling and what Don recognized as the Disney movie 'Tarzan'. He could hear the high British-accent of Jane Porter from here.
He flopped back down next to Mikey and turned the crinkled pages. "Sa, sc…here we go! Sh…" He ran one chubby finger down the page, reading quickly as he went. "Shilling…Ship. Nope. Shink isn't in here. That must mean it's a sound effect."
The orange-bandana wearing turtle nodded sagely, looking as serious as possible. "I knew it. That's just the sort of noise I would expect Wolverine's claws to make. I mean, they'd have to just sound that manly. Doesn't 'shink' sound manly to you?"
Don rolled his eyes, having no opinion on the gender of shink, and grabbed the comic again to scan for the page. Behind him, he could hear the gorillas singing suddenly become the screaming of an enraged crowd. "Now, where were we?"
Mikey pointed at the panel, "at the shink."
"Right. 'You mutants are all a like. Thinking you can win just because you've got those freakish powers. That you can rule over us!'"
"That's not fair," Michelangelo observed with a pout. "The X-men aren't trying to rule anybody. They're trying to stop the mutants who are doing that."
The TV switched again, mid-scream, to Jane Porter rambling about meeting Tarzan.
"Listen, Bub, I've seen enough people who DO want to that to ya that I don't want to be one. We're just tryin' to help ya.' 'Sure you are, you freak! Next you'll be telling me that…that….'" He made the same frantic, accusatory motion as the character on the page as he pointed toward Sabertooth. "THAT freak wasn't trying to kill me, either?"
"Raph, if you don't stop changing the channel I'll…"
"You'll what? Go tell Splinter on me? I'm shaking in my shell, Splinter Jr."
"That one says 'Pow'," Mikey said proudly, pointing to the one word contained in the panel of Wolverine's upper cut of the guy he'd been talking to.
"Good job, Mikey."
"Raphie taught me that one."
Grinning at his brother, Don looked back down at the page and pointed too. "The sound effect says 'thunk'. Then Wolverine goes, 'Listen good, you. There are good mutants and bad mutants, just like there are good humans and bad ones. You can't go makin' assumptions about all of 'em just because you had a bad experience with one. If that were true, I would have given up the hero business long ago."
"You may be willing to risk our safety, but I'm not," said Kerchak's booming voice from the little box behind them.
Another shift in voice, this time female because it was a girl in the background aiming a gun at Wolverine's head. "Don't you even compare yourself to us, monster! You are nothing like us humans, and we must destroy you all or we will never be safe!"
"Why are you threatened by anyone different from you?"
Don froze as the roar of a gorilla echoed, almost with agreement, throughout the lair. That was it, wasn't it? The whole reason Mikey's book had a story was because the humans didn't like what was different from them. Would avoid and destroy it if possible.
Just like Kerchak in the movie. Just like…
"Alright, my sons. I do believe it is well past your bed time." Splinter walked out of his room. He'd been sneaking a couple moments alone for meditation, Donnie knew.
"Aw, man," Mikey groaned, seemingly louder than necessary as Leo obediently switched off the TV. "Right as we were getting to the best part. Can't Donnie finish the chapter, sensei? Please, please, please, please? I won't be able to sleep if we leave Wolverine with a gun to his head all night!"
"And this is why I told you not to read such things before bed," the rat sighed, looking down into Mikey's pleading face. "Alright, then, finish the chapter if you must. But I expect you to wake up at the same time as always, regardless."
"N-no, it's okay, sensei." Don was surprised to find his voice and hands were shaking as he handed Mikey back his comic book. "Sorry, Mikey, but my eyes are kind of tired now."
Mikey looked disappointed for a moment, before grinning. "Nah, it's okay, Donnie. I'll just look at the pictures to see if Wolverine makes it out okay. You can read me the story tomorrow night!"
A shaky, forced smile tugged at the corners of Don's mouth. "Sure, Mikey. Sounds great."
"You okay, Don?" Leo had scrambled up to reclaim his bed as his two younger brothers started moving to vacate it. "You look kind of sick."
"I'm alright," he answered, wincing when he realized it was far too quickly and didn't fool anybody. Donatello blinked as his sensei's paw was placed on his forehead.
"You do not feel feverish…"
"I promise I'm not sick, sensei. It's just…well…I…"
Splinter glanced down at the comic Mikey was holding in his hands and Don twisting his fingers together nervously. "Do you wish to speak with me about it, my son?"
Don nodded, climbing off Leo's bed and latching onto his father's hand.
"I expect the rest of you to be asleep when I return," Splinter warned the other three sternly.
"Yes, sensei," they chorused together, with practiced ease. All of them knew that none of them would be.
The ninjutsu master guided his young son away from his brothers and into his sensei's private sanctuary. He sat the boy down and smiled at him gently. "What is troubling you, my son?"
Don frowned, studying the ground between the two of them as he tried to figure out exactly what to say. "The humans would kill us if they found out about us."
It was said with such certainty that Splinter found himself take aback. He knew he would have to explain that fact to his sons one day. He was just not expecting it this day. "Who told you that?"
"No one, sensei. I just…the X-men look like humans, for the most part, and those that don't try to. But, even when they look human, if the real humans find out what they are they try to destroy them. It's only worse if you don't. We aren't human. We never were. And they don't like what they don't understand."
Again, Donatello was not so much asking his sensei if his theories were correct as much as he was stating them to see how they would be received. To see if he could analysis these facts in a different light, possibly reach a better conclusion.
Splinter sighed, reaching out to put a reassuring hand on the young turtle's head. "I am afraid that is true, Donatello. That and sometimes worse. Not all humans would seek to do us harm, but some would separate you from your family and take you far from home. To examine you." He thought briefly about comparing the act to what his young son did with the household electronics, but he didn't want the little one to become afraid of the activity he so enjoyed. "And, yes, some would even seek to take your life."
More frowning from the child, and he finally looked up. "That's why you don't like it when we go up to the surface, isn't it? Why you make us be ninja."
"Yes. I desire only for you to be able to protect yourselves when I cannot. I hope that, someday, you will not need the skills I have taught you, but for now we must do what we can to protect ourselves and each other."
For a moment, Donatello looked as though he might want to say something further, but then changed his mind. "Thank you, sensei. I just…wanted to make sure that I was right, I guess. Awful as it may be, I just…"
"Wanted to understand, as you always do, my son. Are you alright now?"
Slow nodding and a thoughtful look crossed the child's face. Splinter was curious as to what the boy could be thinking, but chose not press. He would learn in time. Donatello kept no secrets from his family. As soon as he found the words to express his thoughts.
"Good night, sensei."
"Good night, Donatello. We can discuss this more in the morning, if you wish to then."
"Of course, sensei."