Title: Follow the Leader, 2/2
Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)
Warnings: Spoilers for the FF series
Notes: Done for LJ's fanfic100 community, prompt #16: purple
Follow the Leader Chapter 2
"I hate oatmeal." Dark Mike folded his arms, glaring at the offensive tray that had been brought to him. The oatmeal 'blurped' at him.
"Have you ever tried it?" Mikey asked cheerfully. "'Cause you know, you can't say you don't like something unless you try it first."
"I don't need to try it to know I don't like it." Dark Mike smacked the bowl away, knocking the contents all over the floor. "It looks like the mush we pretty much lived on, except when Darius felt like being generous and gave us meat."
"Meat like hamburgers and lightly seared steak?" Mikey looked at the destroyed remnants of breakfast. "'Cause yeah, I can see how that would be more appetizing than oatmeal."
"No. Meat. Raw meat, nice and fresh. Still dripping." Dark Mike licked his lips at the memory, giving Mikey a fiendish look. "Tasty, best when warm."
"Now that's just sick," Mikey said with a frown. "Darius, what – fed you like animals in the zoo? Tossing meat scraps?"
Dark Mike shrugged, uncaring. "It tasted better than the mush. Better then that." He nodded at the oatmeal.
There was no way he was serving his clone raw, meat. He had limits. "How about bacon instead?" Mikey suggested. "Cooked bacon. We don't serve bloody meat scraps to our guests, but I can definitely do bacon." Dark Mike gave him an odd look. Mikey frowned. "What's up?"
"You refer to me as a guest?" Dark Mike raised an eye ridge, reaching out to knock on the energized barrier. "I'd love to see how you treat an enemy."
Mikey rolled his eyes, and left the room. Raphael was in the hallway. "S'up, Raphie?"
"Getting chummy with your clone now?" Raph studied the door Mikey had just exited. His voice wasn't angry. Just even.
"Well, to be honest, I'm with him on the anti-oatmeal bandwagon." Mikey shrugged. "And since I'm not about to go hunt down a deer to toss in there, I figure some bacon and maybe a nice omelette might raise the cheeriness level around here."
"Whatever." Raph turned and walked away.
Mikey watched him leave and sighed, before heading to the kitchen to keep his promise.
Donatello checked the readouts again. The auto-docs were doing a wonderful job at healing Dark Leo's body, but his brain was another matter entirely. The private doctors Cody had hired to come in and perform periodic checks on their 'guests' had said that there was nothing more they could do but wait and see if he woke up, and go from there. Another day or two, and Dark Leo could be removed from the tank, and put in a bed to finish healing. It had taken nearly two weeks for the auto-docs to repair the deep-tissue damage he'd sustained all over his body. His organs had nearly been pulped; the auto-docs had to salvage the remaining living tissue and practically regrow everything.
Mast Splinter and Cody came in. "Hey Donnie."
Donatello gave them a brief smile, before returning to his data pads. "Hey guys."
"How's he doing?" Cody asked. The youth went straight to the tank and placed his hand on the outside.
Donatello sighed. "As well as can be expected. All we can do is wait for him to wake up."
"Serling brought news of the other two clones," Master Splinter told him.
Cody looked tired. "They've been put into permanent stasis," he said quietly. "Apparently the psyche divers found they were too dangerous and too unpredictable to ever be rehabilitated. There was absolutely no remorse, no second thoughts. Only blood lust and the wish to kill everyone they saw passing in front of their cage. One of the psyche divers refused to work with them after only one session."
Donnie sighed. "I guess it was too much to hope for to redeem them all," he said glumly. His head drooped slightly.
It did not go unnoticed. Splinter looked him, concerned. "What troubles you, my son?"
"Them," Donnie said, pointing at Dark Leo. "I mean, Dark Leo showed bits of Leo's character when he protected Dark Mike. Leo got through to him about caring for each other. Proof that part of Leo exists inside his clone. And Mikey..." Donie smiled briefly. "I can see bits of our Mikey in Dark Mike. His snarkiness, his quips to hide his emotions, the child-like reactions he has to certain things."
"You wonder why your clone showed such cruelty," Splinter said, suddenly understanding.
Donnie nodded. "Even Raph's clone showed characteristics of him – that grouchy, angry disposition, his temper, and the quick way he lost it when being teased or insulted." Donatello rubbed his temples, trying to stave off the headache he could feel starting to form. "What does it say about me, when my clone is a complete and utter psychopath?"
"You are reading too much into the surface of what we see," Splinter told him, reaching out to his son. Donatello clasped his Master's hand, squeezing it tightly. "You see just what your clone wishes you to see."
"And what do you see?" Donatello asked tiredly.
Splinter smiled. "While your clone shows cruelty in experimentation, I see your curious mind wanting to know the hows and whys of everything in the world. Your clone merely ignores the part of you that is honorable and gentle."
"He is clever, as you are brilliant, poking at people's flaws while you merely view them with your insightful observations." Splinter drew his son closer and hugged him gently. "My son, you do indeed share traits with your clone, but how you choose to express them is vastly different. You have an inherently good nature, my son. Do not fear yourself. You are not a monster."
Donatello drew in a shaky breath, feeling relief wash over him in waves. "Thank you, Sensei. Father." He bowed deeply. Then he straightened, smiling much more sincerely this time. "I should get back to work. Dark Leo will be ready to come out of the tank by tomorrow night, I think. I need to start getting things ready."
"I'll help," Cody volunteered.
"Thanks, Cody," Donnie said gratefully. "I can use all the help I can get."
Dark Mike was starting to be of the opinion that he was not the craziest terrapin-based life form in the galaxy anymore.
This opinion had been cemented when his 'original' walked in to his hospital room the first time after he'd woken up in the hands of his enemies. He'd been there for three days, and had been going stir crazy in his room once he didn't feel the urge to sleep all the time. The door had slid open and Mikey had walked in, carrying a large metal and plastic box that Dark Mike had somehow recognized as a gaming system. Instead of hostility and a 'chuck to the face, he'd been given a chocolate bar, a warning not to tell Donnie he'd given him something not on an approved hospital diet, and a remote control. The barrier was still between them – only one remote controlled it and Mikey was forbidden to touch it except in emergency cases – but the field had been recalibrated to keep from interfering with the hospital equipment, and so it didn't faze the gaming system. They had then proceeded to play a three hour marathon of Helix 2. Of all the reactions he had been envisioning regarding his 'original', playtime had not been one of them.
Adding in the gentle tones of which Donnie had a habit of speaking to him in, and the smiles Leo freely gave, and Dark Mike didn't know what to think. Part of him wanted to smile back at Leo, or thank Donnie for helping him. But the other, louder parts of him were telling him to keep his mouth shut and look for a way to escape.
Even though he didn't really want to. Why should he? He got three hot meals a day, on plates no less. No fighting for scraps – he could have seconds, even thirds if he wanted them. No sleeping on floors here with only a stolen coat from a dumpster for a pillow – he had a nice, soft bed, with thick blankets and fluffy pillows. He didn't have to clean off blood and grime in the cold river water that flowed near their lair. Since being given access to a shower with vibrating jets and unlimited hot water, he'd been shocked to discover a hidden fondness for being clean.
No, he didn't want to leave. But he also didn't know if this was the right thing to do. Part of his nature was to work for acceptance. Only if the others tolerated him, would he eat, or be spared during practice. By accepting his enemies help, by wanting to change in such drastic ways, was he not betraying his old life? He didn't care about Dark Raph and Dark Donatello's opinions, considering they were going to be in stasis fields for the rest of their lives, but was it really okay for him to do this?
He really wished Dark Leo would wake up. Leader would have a plan. He was smart. He always knew what to do. If Leader said he could stay and make this a home, then he would do it. But on the off-chance that Leader wanted to leave, or attack... he had to stay distanced. He had to.
The door slid open again, and Donatello poked his head inside. "C'mon down," he said cheerfully. "It's movie night! We've got thrills, chills – and no doubt, plenty of spills once Mikey gets his hands on the snacks."
Dark Mike looked at him warily, but eventually got to his feet. "Movie night?"
Donatello stepped back to allow the forcefield by. "Yep. A collection of old horror and sci-fi flicks from the 20th century. We managed to get Cody hooked on them, and so we've started up a weekly tradition. We've got 'The Wolfman', 'The Blob that Ate Chicago', and 'Godzilla versus Mothra.'"
Dark Mike considered this for a minute as they made their way down the hall.. As they went into the living room, he shook his head in disbelief. "How on this planet did we manage to keep losing to you guys?"
"Raph asked the same thing when he saw the night's lineup," Donnie said, chuckling.
In the living room, Mikey sat on one end of the long couch. Cody sat next to him, and Leonardo took up the other end. Master Splinter had one armchair to himself, and Raphael was draped over another, glaring at them as they walked in.
"Ignore him," Donnie said quietly. "He's under orders from Master Splinter to behave."
Dark Mikey didn't know how reassured he was supposed to be by that statement. Regardless, he sat down on the floor as far away from Raph as he could get while still being within viewing distance of the TV. Donatello nudged Leo and Cody apart and joined the party on the sofa.
"Let the movies begin," Cody intoned solemnly as he pressed the remote button.
It had been nearly a month since Dark Mikey had woken up in not-Dark Donnie's lab. Life had slowly settled into a series of routines that he, despite his insistent urge to deny, had to come like and expect. Breakfast, now with the others in the big dining hall. Rehabilitation workouts in the dojo. Visit his Leader. Lunch. Video games with his 'original'. More workouts in the dojo. A visit to the rooftop to watch the rat play with rocks and plants. Another visit to Leader. Dinner. TV time with everyone. A last visit to Leader. Pick through some of the comic books and hand held games that 'original' had stuck in his room. Sleep, and begin the whole process anew the following morning.
Despite his vow to remain distanced until he heard otherwise from his Leader, he felt himself slipping. He had thanked Mikey for letting him play the new game Starlie had dropped off before dragging Cody on a lunch date. He'd sparred with Leonardo during one of his rehab sessions, and he'd had fun doing it. There was a twinge in his stomach, and he rubbed it uneasily. Was he changing? Was he starting to be someone else? Would his Leader hate him for it? Would he hurt him for changing? But Leader himself had started the changes. It was his fault.
Still, he was Leader. He was allowed to change and do what he wanted. He...he was not Leader. His job, his place, was behind Leader. To do as he said, to carry out orders. He was not permitted to change on his own – that was reserved for those higher than him, and as his crazy sibling used to tell him all the time, he was the lowest of them all.
"Wake up," he said listlessly, as he did every time he came to see his leader. He poked the barrier weakly, not expecting an answer. "Wake up."
It was driving him crazy. He was not built to function like this. From the very moment he'd awoken in the bio-tanks, Shokunabo and Darius had made sure he knew very quickly how not important he was. He needed his Leader to tell him what to do.
"No, you don't."
Dark Mike blinked and stared at Dark Leo. His eyes were still closed. Dark Mike furrowed his brow in confusion.
"You don't need him to tell you what to do."
Dark Mike looked behind him and saw Raphael standing there. He hissed, and whirled completely around so he could face the other. Lowering himself into a crouch. He didn't care about the barrier around him – things came in the barrier all the time. For all he knew, the red one had programmed it to allow his arms and legs through to hurt him. "Stay away!"
"Shut up." Red's voice was cold, but calm. "If I wanted to hurt you, you'd be hurt right now."
Dark Mike resisted the urge to stick out his tongue.
"I heard you," Raph continued. "Your other two brothers are gone. Darius is gone. Shokunabo is gone. Nothing's left for you but your leader, and he's down for the count. You need to make decisions for yourself."
Apparently not all of what he'd been thinking had stayed in his head. Dark Mike smacked himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid...
"You gotta ask yourself what you want," Raph said in a low voice. "Frankly, I still think having you here is a mistake. I ain't as foolish as my bros to let my guard down around any of you. But you've been here a month, and I know you want to get out of that cage. Thing is, when you do get out, do you wanna stay here like Leo offered? Or do ya wanna make a break for it and go back to a life of crime, chaos, and living off scraps and dumpster trash?"
He wanted to stay."I want Leader to wake up," he repeated tiredly. "I will do what he wants me to do."
Raph shook his head, and a tiny scrap of pity could be seen on his face. Dark Mike was astonished. "You really are pathetic," he said quietly, before turning to leave. "Think about what I said, Mike-zilla."
Dark Mike watched him leave, confusion swirling around his head and heart, making them both ache.
His leader was awake! Dark Mike was all but dancing inside his little cage barrier. The barrier had been fixed to the back of the room to keep him out of the way, but at least they'd let him stay in the room. They had no choice, really – he'd threatened to sing a song his 'original' song had taught him, the song that never ended, and his voice was much harder on the ears than the others and when he really shouted, his voice carried easily to over forty percent of the penthouse. Considering his close proximity to the room where they'd be working on Leader, it was best just to give in to him. Dark Mike was rather proud of how he'd been able to manipulate his jailers all by himself. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.
"Let me see him!" he snarled, striking the barrier.
The group made up of turtles, a rat, a human and one very annoying robot, parted like the Red Sea. Donatello made his to his containment area. "He's asleep," he began.
"But you said he woke up!" Dark Mike felt the first, small, flaming tendrils of hope that had begun to grow in his chest, wither and die into ashes. "You said so!"
"He did wake up," Donatello hastened to assure him. "But he was very weak and very tired. Healing takes a lot energy. He couldn't stay awake any longer. But he'll be able to next time."
"When will that be?" Dark Mike demanded. "When?"
"Whenever is body is ready." Donatello gave him a sad smile. Dark Mike might have been almost touched by that if he hadn't been so angry at being kept from his Leader when he'd been awake and aware.
"I want to see!" he hissed, and if he sounded desperate, he didn't care. It had been a month. A month! As far as he knew, the turtles were lying, and his leader had ever woken up at all.! And never would! "Now!"
Donatello had a strange look on his face for a minute, staring at Dark Mike searchingly. Before Dark Mike could compare his behaviour to the Crazy One, the turtle picked up the remote to Mike's cage and pressed the button, despite the protests from the others. The barrier lowered.
Dark Mike swiped his claws curiously at the space where the blue shield had been. Nothing. No crackle of energy, no hum of energy chambers. Nothing but a faint breeze he could feel coming from the window behind him. Well then. That certainly settled it. "You are crazy," he informed Donatello haughtily and stalked through the throng, ignoring the drawn weapons, and the way Cody had been dragged behind the big, ugly robot. Reaching his leader's bed, he stood over the still form with his arms folded, inspecting every inch of him. After a minute, he reached down and smacked his Leader fiercely across the face. Protests sounded behind him, but he tuned them out. "That's for falling asleep before talking to me," he snarled. Then he patted his Leader's arm, awkwardly, like Donatello had done for him, and turned his back on the bed, sliding down and bringing his legs up. He would watch. Watch and wait, and when Leader next woke, he would know what to do.
"Are you planing on staying there all night?" Donatello asked cautiously.
"Yes." Dark Mike scowled up at the purple one, daring him to try and move him.
Donatello nodded. "I'll bring your blanket in," was all he said. Dark Mike was surprised.
Raphael was a bit more vocal, demanding to know what Donnie was thinking, but Don, Leo and Mikey dragged him out of the room for a private conference, leaving the rat, the robot and the boy behind. Dark Mike scowled at them. "What?"
The rat was smiling at him. It made his skin start crawling again. The boy was checking the machines that beeped. After a few minutes, he addressed Dark Mike."Your Leader is healing far more quickly than we thought," Cody told him. "We've given him painkillers that will also help him sleep through the night. Based on his metabolism, he should be awake by tomorrow morning."
Dark Mike nodded, and continued to watch silently as the boy pushed buttons and checked outputs.
Donatello and Mikey came back in five minutes later. Donatello had the blanket that Dark Mike had been using."Since he's settled for the night, we'll leave you two alone. Try talking to him. Sometimes people who are unconscious can hear those trying to talk to them."
Dark Mike snatched the blanket away, wrapping it around his shoulders quickly. "Whatever."
Mikey waved a fistful of large, flat books at him. "More comics, big guy! I know you hate Justice Force, so I brought a few different ones so you can figure out which ones you do like!" He set them on the floor next to Dark Mike's tail.
Dark Mike felt that confusion coming back, and he growled, low, deep in the back of his throat. "Why? Why are you doing this?"
Donatello narrowed his eyes. "Did you think we were all like Darius Dun?"
"Yes!" snapped Dark Mike. "In that no one does something for nothing. Everyone wants something. What do you want from me? From him?" He flung a clawed hand back at his Leader. "What's the trick?"
"No trick," Donnie said quietly.
"Honestly," Mikey added. "We just wanna help you guys. We figure you can't be all bad., not after you tried to save each other."
Dark Mike was not convinced. He continued to eye the others warily.
"You obviously need a reason," Donnie said with a sigh. "So accept this then: we're doing it because we know Bishop from a long time ago, and the situation you were in with Darius could just have easily been us. We don't want to see anyone living like that."
"We wouldn't have done the same for you," Dark Mike said flatly. "We would have left you to rot."
"And therein lies the difference between you and us," Donatello said gently. "So accept this as a kind of...charity, if that makes you feel any better about why we're doing this."
"I'm assuming you'll want us to repay you by working for you?" Dark Mike was trying to figure out all of the angles, and the bit about 'not expecting anything' was playing havoc with his logic.
Mikey shook his head. "No way, dude. You'll be free. Kinda. I think. Um." He stopped, and looked at Donnie. "Help?"
Donatello looked amused. "But you're doing such an eloquent job as it is." Ignoring Mikey's sputtering, he looked back at Dark Mike. "Technically, and as distasteful as I find it, you're considered to be property of O'Neil Tech."
Owned. Dark Mike felt his heart sink into his taloned feet. Nothing but property.
"But once you two are healed, we plan to have a group discussion on what to do – involving you too, of course." Donatello smiled. "I think you'll either have a choice of staying here until you figure out what you want to do out of life, working for O'Neil tech as guards - they could certainly use some extra muscle – or leaving to start new lives somewhere else entirely, if you want. You won't be owned anymore. You'll be free. Cody said he'd be willing to help get you started with that."
Dark Mike's head was spinning. Free? Freedom was a tiny bird that kept flitting like quicksilver out of their grasping hands. He could barely contemplate it. It was too big, too much. He turned his head away, and his tail snaked along the length of the bed, reaching up and wrapping around the wrist of the blue-skinned mutant behind him. "Leader..."
He could hear Donatello sigh, and his 'original' murmur something, but he didn't care anymore. He would wait. Wait and see what Leader wanted to do.
"I'm just sayin' it's creepy, is all," Raph said, shrugging. "It's like he can barely function aside from 'Leader this', and 'Leader that.' That kinda thing ain't healthy. It sounds like he's brainwashed or something."
"Well, maybe he is," Mikey pointed out. "I mean, I know if you and Donnie snapped one day and it was only me and Leo left, I'd be clinging to him so hard I'd be like an extra growth on his shell. Leo always has a plan. Me? Not so much."
"Don't give me that," Raph snorted. "You play the idiot, but I seen ya come up with some plans all your own and pull 'em off too. You did manage to graduate after all."
"Yeah, but I'm used to that. I mean, I haven't been so beaten down that I can't function without someone telling me what to do." Mikey gazed into the room where Dark Mike was huddled next to the bed, reading another one of his comic books. "I've been talking to him, Raph. He doesn't come right out and, like, say things, but he gives me ideas. You know?" He shook his head sadly. "He's never been allowed to think for himself. Shokunabo, Darius, Dark Leo and the rest of his brothers – he's always been told exactly what to do, and severely punished if he wasn't."
"That ain't too different from us and how we were brought up," Raph scoffed. "We got in trouble for not listening to Master Splinter and Fearless."
"Yeah, but Donatello never strapped me to a lab table and peeled strips off my plastron as a punishment, right?" Mikey snapped. "And you've never starved me by beating the shell out of me and taking my share of the food."
"If it makes him feel better to wait for Leo's evil twin to wake up before he decides what to do, how does that hurt us?" Mikey gave Raph an even look. "Give him half a chance, bro. He's been out of that cage for a few days now, and he hasn't changed a thing in his routine. I really think this time will be different from the last."
Raph looked back in the room where Dark Mike was scowling at the comic book, calling the hero a moron for falling into such an obvious trap. "Maybe."
He's been in this type of situation before. It was well known. A soft bed. A soft pillow. The scent of pine and disinfectant. Dark Leo opened his eyes and took in a view that was very familiar. The room was exactly the same it had been the first time he'd been brought to the home of their 'originals'.
But there was one difference. He noticed it on his second scan – the tip of a long, prehensile tail resting by his hand on the bed. It hurt to move, but he did it anyway, shifting awkwardly until he could see the sleeping form of his younger brother, stretched out along the floor. He had a pillow under his head, and a blanket twisted around him.
He flicked the tail bit that was by his hand. "Hey," he rasped hoarsely.
His brother stirred on the floor, rolling over so he was facing the bed. His tail slipped off the covers to the ground. "F'rglrrrmmm..."
Dark Leo rolled his eyes. Of course. Looking around, he saw a data pad underneath a stack of comic books. Forcing himself a bit, he managed to bring his arm up enough to get it around the pile. Then. He gave it a weak shove. It didn't take much, and the books fell with a thump onto Dark Mike' head.
"S'about time you woke up," he croaked, grinning at his gob-smacked sibling.
Dark Mike gave him an evil glare, and then smacked his arm. It was a relatively light smack, all things considered. "I could say the same thing about you."
Dark Leo motioned to the room. "Are we where I think we are?"
"If you mean Goody-Two-Shoes central, you got it," Dark Mike said, still staring at him. It was an odd look, one of reluctant concern, fear, a hint of anger, and a whole lot of oncoming panic.
It was making his head hurt just to look at him. "What's your problem?"
"Tell me what to do!" Dark Mike suddenly burst out. "I don't know what's right anymore! The Crazy One and Meanie are gone, gone like Darius, gone like Shokunabo, and you're the only one left! And I want to stay, I want to have pancakes again, but I don't know what to do 'cause no one will tell me!"
Dark Leo was nearly overwhelmed by the near-hysteria and force of his siblings words. "Shut up!" he roared, and Dark Mike instantly went silent, staring at him eagerly. "So we're at the penthouse again, huh?" Dark Mike nodded. "How long has it been?"
"Almost five weeks," Dark Mike said. His tail was still wriggling back and forth like a worm on a hook.
The eager look left Dark Mike, to be replaced with more of the fear. "You don't remember?"
"Not all of it," he admitted roughly. "I remember those two idiots turning traitor on me, and I think they attacked you..."
"You saved me," Dark Mike said, looking away. "Don't know why, but you did."
"Huh." That was interesting. "You been in here this whole time?"
"Only since you kinda woke up before." His brother started pacing, obviously needed to expend some energy. "I mean, they let me eat meals with them, and then we exercise in the gym, and my 'original' teaches me to play video games and I saw the tree you talked about before--"
"Calm down," he growled. "For drek's sake, you sound like you're on a sugar buzz."
Dark Mike looked oddly guilty. "They said I was allowed," he whined, but reluctantly dropped a couple of candies that he'd been hiding in his belt onto the nightstand. Dark Leo looked at them, groaned and then chuckled, despite himself.
"I'm not the leader," he cut off the other quickly. "We were never a team, you saw that. And if we were, well, it's fairly obvious we aren't now."
"But..." Dark Mike looked thunderstruck. "But...you... Leader."
"I'm not the Leader," he stressed. His head was hurting; he wanted to be done with this so he could go back to sleep. "Get that through your thick skull. I'm not the Leader. I don't think I ever was."
Dark Mike looked at him with eyes that seemed strangely hurt. "You were my leader," he said quietly, and then suddenly whirled around, speeding out of the room.
It was only after he left that Dark Leo clued into the fact that he was not confined inside the barrier surrounding his bed – that he had in fact, ran through it, as though he were one of the other turtles, allowed to roam free at will. He held his hand out and knocked on the blue barrier, feeling the mild sting of weak electrical current. Still trapped.
He watched the door where his sibling had run out for a long time.
"You are a grade A jerk," Donatello ranted the next morning.
Dark Leo looked at him in astonishment. "What the heck did I do?" he growled. "I just woke up?"
"I'm talking about whatever you said to your brother." Don glared at him. "I don't want to yell at you, now that you're finally awake, but would it kill you to show an ounce of compassion? Dark Mike was sleeping on the floor of your room for the entire week before you completely came to again last night!"
"I didn't ask him to do that." Dark Leo looked away, frowning. "I never asked for any of this. Why didn't you all just let me die?"
"I could be a jerk and say it's because we don't want you getting off easy," Don snapped. Then his anger subsided a bit, and he blew his breath out in a sigh. "But really, it's more because we didn't want anyone, including you, trapped in a government-funded laboratory. What we saw on that tape made us realize that there was something worth saving in you."
"Me getting beaten to a pulp showed you that?"
Donatello smiled thinly. "Well, it was more the footage of you protecting your brother," he said calmly. "Which is why I can't for the life of me figure out what the heck is wrong with you."
The door slid open again, and Raphael came in. "Oh, wonderful," Dark Leo groaned sarcastically. "I was just wondering if my day could get off to an even worse start. Thank you fates, for showing me there's always a way."
"Oh, shut up." Raph shot him a glare. "I don't like you."
"I said, shut up." Raphael's voice was cold. Chillingly cold. "I talk now. You don't."
Dark Leo was surprised enough by Raph's channeling of his own dark sibling that he did in fact, shut up.
"I don't like you," Raph repeated. "You took the chance Leo tried to give you and you threw it back in his face. As far as I'm concerned you could'a died in that little family spat you had and I wouldn't have given a damn." Donatello made a protesting sound, but quieted when Raph held up his hand to stay him. "Even when I saw the clip'a you saving Dark Mike. I figured, hell, it's a fluke. An automatically, programmed response." His lips thinned in a cruel smirk. "You'd know about being programmed, wouldn't you?"
Dark Leo bared his teeth, snarling.
Raph was completely unconcerned by his anger. "I been watching your brother this whole time, waiting for him to screw up. I figure, he's cloned from our Mikey. The odds of him screwing up are pretty much in our favor."
Despite his anger, Dark Leo couldn't stifle a partially amused snort.
"But you know? He's been fine. A few temper tantrums, but hell, I throw worse ones. The last week he's been out of the cage, he's been a model guest, more than you ever were. The only thing on his mind was you."
Dark Leo closed his eyes, a growl building in his throat.
"And I don't freaking get why?" Raph pointed his finger at the bedridden mutant. "You freaking saved his life, called him 'brother' in a way that showed you meant it, and then nearly died. He's been going outta his mind over you, and the first chance he gets to talk with you, you shut him out completely?" He shook his head slowly, disbelievingly. "You know, they call me the cold-blooded one. Man, I ain't got nothing on you."
"Are you finished?" Dark Leo asked, fists clenched. A hole was starting to tear in the sheets.
"We just want to know why," Donatello ventured, glancing uneasily from Dark Leo to Raph and back again. "Dark Mike needs you. He's worried about you, and won't let himself completely relax unless you give him a command."
"S'at still in effect?" Dark Leo looked interested. "I thought he'd be over it by now, if it's been as long as Mike said it's been."
"What are you talking about?"
Dark Leo made a vague hand gesture. "I dunno. Something about making him dependent. He was always a little wilder than the rest of us – more free, more prone to rebellion. After Darius took us back from Shokunabo, he began working on eliminating that urge to break free, and he did it by trying to program his mind--"he shot a dirty look at Raph, who had the decency to look away"--into needing permission or approval from any of us before he did something on his own. Darius was automatically included, but we were the ones who dealt with him the most."
"Why did you think it should have worn off by now?" Donatello looked both repulsed and a little fascinated.
"Because it never took hold permanently. He had to be 'wiped' at least once every two weeks or so. Five weeks, yeah, should be gone."
"Maybe it ain't the brainwashing that's making him care about what happens to you," Raph said coldly. "He said you were the one that started telling them what Leo'd been doing. He kept saying, 'you shared the meat'. He was amazed by that."
"Considering how starved he was, I ain't surprised." Dark Leo glared at them both. "Now are you done?"
"Not until you tell us why you pushed your brother away," Donnie said, with surprising firmness. "There's got to be a reason. One that makes sense."
He was being backed into a corner. He didn't like it. "He needs to stand on his own two feet," said Dark Leo, finding it hard to meet their expressions. "If I'd died, what would have happened to him? He'd make the choice himself. It's no different now."
"But it is," Donnie insisted. "You're alive, and he cares about you. He wants to know what you'll do first, so he can make a decision that won't push you away!" Donatello risked reaching out and tentatively placing his hand on Dark Leo's huge arm. "He sees you as his Leader, but also as his brother. Don't you feel the same?"
The whole situation was making him uncomfortable. "No. Look, I don't take care of myself so good, let alone anyone else," Dark Leo said gruffly, trying to end the conversation. "I can't take care of him. Both of us were nearly killed."
Raph wasn't buying it. "Let's see... making sure he got food, protecting him from the others...gee, sounds like you were on the right track."
"Providing food and protection are two basic requirements for 'good big brother' candidacy," Donatello added with a grin.
Dark Leo fought the urge to snarl like a rabid dog. "Did you forget the part where I just said I nearly got him killed?"
"'Nearly' being the key words," Donatello said cheerfully.
"So, you're telling me this whole macho act is because you're afraid?" Raph snorted derisively. "Big, bad, dark boy is scared of having a family?"
"Shut up!" Dark Leo reached in vain for a weapon. All he had was a pillow. It would suffice. He slammed it into Raphael's head, knocking the mutant head over heels. The motion made Donatello instantly hit the button that turned on the barrier, but Dark Leo didn't care – he was laughing too hard. Raph was spitting out pillow feathers and cursing a blue streak, but Dark Leo could only laugh and laugh and keep on laughing, even after his guests left, throwing him strange looks as they did so.
His hysteria died down, and he wondered about those looks until he saw his reflection in the shiny polished metal of the hospital bed's guard rails, and saw a single tear track drying on his face.
"So they said I should give you another chance."
Dark Leo looked up to see Dark Mike in the doorway. It was strange seeing Dark Mike unencumbered by the blue energy field that constantly surrounded him now that he was conscious, but it was also fitting in a way. The one who had been able to crave and seek freedom the most, had been the first to earn it. "They?"
"Purple and Red," Dark Mike said shortly. He stalked into the room, folding his arms and glaring down at the bed bound mutant. "So, Leader--" he stressed the word, making it sound like a curse. "--wanna yell at me some more? Tell me to drop dead? Wait, that can't be right. If you wanted me dead, you would have just let the Crazy One do what he wanted to. Right?"
Dark Leo scowled. "What do you want me to say?"
Dark Mike shrugged, snapping his tail from side to side. "I dunno. I mean, our 'originals' apologize when they hurt each other, but I don't think either of us know how to do that."
"I hurt you?" Dark Leo was surprised. "I didn't touch you. I tried to stop them."
"I know that!" snapped Dark Mike.
Dark Leo stared, confused, until he met the other's eyes, and it was all laid bare. He'd hurt the other's feelings, by pushing him away. He groaned silently. He didn't want to deal with this. "Would you even take an apology seriously?"
"Before? No." Dark Mike glared heatedly at the floor. "But it's been a very long five weeks. Things change."
That was for sure. "And if I were to... apologize.." he said stiffly. "...what would that mean?"
"Well, I'd probably accept it," Dark Mike said casually. His eyes flicked up and then back to the floor. "And then I'd ask you what our next move was."
"Our next move?"
Dark Mike suddenly shrunk a bit into himself. "'Leader always has a plan'," he parroted quietly.
Dark Leo recognized his words from the brainwashing. His fists clenched on the already-abused bedsheets tearing more holes in them. "That's over," he said harshly, willing himself to remain calm. "It's been over seven weeks since your last session with Darius. That can't still be in effect."
"What if I want it to be?" Dark Mike blurted out. He stubbornly refused to raise his eyes.
His eyes widened at the admission. Dark Leo stared at him, at a loss. "Why?" he couldn't figure it out. He wasn't fit to lead anyone. He'd been one of Dark Mike's tormentors in the past. How could he allow one moment of stupid, suicidal behaviour change so much?
"I don't want to be alone," said Dark Mike, still staring at the floor. "You said we could be a team. You said we should share. You said I was your brother." A strange sound escaped him. Dark Leo didn't know what it was until Dark Mike raised his head, and he could see a thin film of tears starting to well up. "Why did you say those things if you didn't mean them?"
"I... I..." Dark Leo was stupefied. "I...thought I was going to die. I thought it wouldn't matter."
Dark Mike scoffed. "I'd buy that for the 'brother' comment. But the others were way before then. It's what got you beaten in the first place."
It was a stalemate, and both of them knew it. Dark Mike suddenly muttered, 'Screw it', and faced him staunchly. It unnerved him a little, but his sibling was speaking before he could begin a protest."Look," he began. "I've been alone with our 'originals' for a long time. I like what I see. I like this place. I like not having to fight for scraps. I like having hot water for showers, and I like having a blue blanket on a real bed." He glared at his Leader. "I want to stay." His eyes dropped again, and so did his voice, as he forced out the last of his words. "I want my brother to stay too."
Dark Leo was relieved he didn't have to say anything else, except for a firm, "Me too."
"So, you've decided to stay at the O'Neil Tech building?"
Dark Leo nodded. The story of the four turtles traveling to the future had given them all additional ideas. "You don't really want us here all the time, and we can do guard work to pay back the brat—err, Cody, for his help. When you guys go back to your own time, we can come here and make sure he doesn't get himself offed."
Cody was smiling. "You don't need to," he assured the older brother, who just ignored him. Undeterred, Cody pulled out a file folder. "I told you, I was happy to do it. And these papers--" he handed a sheaf of them to Dark Leo. "--are your full identities for here in New York. You are no longer registered property of O'Neil Tech."
Dark Mike clawed at the papers. "I wanna see! I wanna see!" Dark Leo gave him a swat on the back of the head. The smaller mutant dropped with a pout and a drawn-out 'Awww...'
Dark Leo looked at Raphael. "Thanks for that tip," he said, flexing his fingers. "It really works."
Raph snorted again. Leonardo shook his head, amused.
Donatello and Serling were busy loading the last of the provisions into the back of the O'Neil hoverjet that Starlie had sent over for their pickup. "There's enough stuff to last you for a few weeks, at least until O'Neil technicians finish renovating that lower level into a proper lair for you."
"And the credit sticks I gave you are for whatever you want or need," Cody said. "If you want to buy a mansion or anything huge, I need to sign off on it, but other then that, have fun with them."
Dark Mikey was waving his credit stick. "Can we stop at off downtown on the way home?" he asked. He waved at Mikey happily. "I wanna see if there's more Silver Sentry comics still around!"
"Dude, we've got to compare notes," promised Mikey. "I wanna know which parts you liked best."
"Next time," Dark Leo growled. "I want to get going."
Everyone gathered around and waved goodbye. Dark Leo gave them a weak attempt at a smile but his brows were still furrowed downwards, and he just looked scary. Dark Mike said he'd work on that with him and waved goodbye so forcefully he nearly fell off the loading platform. Dark Leo had to haul him in by his shell. Finally though, the ship took off, neatly maneuvering across the cities numerous skyways to the tall tower of O'Neil tech.
Dark Mike was bouncing in his seat, asking if they were there yet. Dark Leo watched him out of the corner of his eye, feeling a small ball of warmth unfold and spread out inside his stomach. Family. He had real family now.
"Soon," he said gruffly. "We'll be home soon."
End Notes: Well, that's over and done with. :D I may do another Dark Turtle fic in the future, but I can honestly say this one is finished! Sorry, that's a rare thing for my multi-chaptered fics. :D
I liked Dark Leo and Dark Mike in the FF series. Dark Don freaked me out – reminded me a LOT of Baxter Stockman and Bishop combined in a mutated body. Dark Raph is said to be cannibalistic on the box his toy comes in, so having him turn on the others wasn't a big stretch for me. The biggest problem was trying to keep everyone in character and working towards a resolution (I like happy endings) but without sappy mushy stuff that would make them OOC. I hope this worked for everyone.
Thanks for reading!