There's No Excuse For This

By: Serendipity

Author's Notes: There really is no excuse for this. I blame too much angstfic, too much caffeine, and a brief stint in the sunlight, where I clearly do not belong.

So, it was a normal day in the sewers. That is, everything had gone according to the typically formulaic life that you got when living below ground amongst various pipes while undergoing the urban ninja lifestyle. Training, eating, jumping around on rooftops, Leo going out on his own for special leaderly purposes that involved spying on the neighbors and being paranoid.

All in all, a normal, uneventful day in the sewers. Until the door opened with a quiet swish and the Shredder walked in.

Then it was still a fairly normal day, because enemies often found the need to track them down to their home and make attempts on their lives. It wasn't an everyday occurrence, but by now it was hardly out of the ordinary. They could have days entirely composed of series of horrible attacks on their lives.

Which was what was running through their minds until Leo walked in behind him with an air of complete casualness and no apparent desire to take out his blades and attack.

Now, this took the day off of 'normal' and placed it on the level of 'fairly bizarre'. But even that wasn't totally insane. No, the note of insanity drifted in when Leonardo stepped up next to the Shredder, their arch foe, destroyer of worlds, wearer of really creepy metal armor, and linked hands with him. And then beamed cheerfully upon the family, gifting them all with his shining grin.

"Guys," he said with complete and gooey sincerity, "I know this might be a little weird, but I think you all should know that the Shredder and I are in a committed relationship."

All eyes turned toward the Shredder. He stood there, a freakishly tall pile of metal and blades and grim, burning eyes. "I love your brother very much," he admitted.

Splinter's fragile rat heart decided it couldn't take this kind of stress, and he collapsed on the floor in a heap of fur and robe.

Everyone else stared in utmost horror.

Then the Shredder leaned down and lifted his helmet to give Leo a kiss, and the day officially became a black pit of madness.

"Leo can't possibly be serious. And when I say this, I mean his mind must have flown out of his fucking skull," Raphael raged, "There is no way in any universe this is real. He's gotta be drugged or something. He has to be drugged. Don, tell me he was drugged. I NEED to hear this."

Donatello, who had used the combination of super-ninja and mad scientist powers at his disposal, had snuck up behind Leonardo with a hypodermic needle and taken a sample of his blood. After explaining to Leonardo about the sudden infestation of huge mosquitoes in the sewers, he'd flown to his lab and begun processing the sample as quickly as possible.

Now, he sighed and shook his head. "I'm afraid not. I didn't see anything in the blood sample that would explain this new change in behavior. It's all normal."

"Brainwashing!" Michelangelo seized upon this new idea, "He must have been brainwashed! Or! Or he has a cunning plan behind this!"

Leonardo typically had cunning plans, or at least plans that he thought would be classified under 'cunning'. Sometimes, of course, they were bad, sometimes bordering on trainwreck-quality. But mainly good plans, on the whole. This seemed like a good standard to hold him to.

"What the hell kind of cunning plan would this be, genius?" Raphael snapped, "Lead the Shredder to our home so we can all be wiped out by his whackbag, insane minions? He's having sleepovers with him! Sleepovers! What the hell are they doing, perming each other's weapons?"

They contemplated this. The thought of swords with neatly coiffed wigs and tidy little dresses was far too much to bear.

Michelangelo continued with a note of desperation. "Anyway! Leo's the big plan man, right? He's the fearless leader, which means he fears nothing! Not even dating the world's spikiest bad guy! And he hates the Shredder, because…well, because the guy's a complete jerk with megalomaniacal plans to destroy us all!"

"Drugs," seethed Raphael, holding onto his righteous fury, "Horrible, sneaky drugs that can't show up on drug tests. Evil, evil ninja drugs. That bastard."

"So…so this can't be what it looks like! He must be using his, um, masculine turtle wiles to lull the Shredder into, um, a false sense of security. And then he'll kill him in the bedroom! I…that sounds awful. Is that really his plan? That's just awful."

"Probably slipped 'em in his tea," Raphael muttered fiercely, "Or shot 'em through a dart gun. You know how they are about drugs. Always firing them at him."

It looked as though the both of them could happily continue muttering to themselves about this new and horrifying turn of events forever. Donatello decided that someone had to think of the present.

"Maybe we should, um, attack th-him," he suggested. The others turned, jolted out of their personal levels of hell, and stared at him.

"I mean," Donatello continued carefully, "If Leo decided that his plan is to seduce the Shredder and bring him to the lair in the hopes that we could attack and kill him when he was, um, distracted…" his eyes glazed over at the sheer terrifying wrongness of that image, and the others shuddered. "Well, then we should go and continue with the plan, right?"

Everyone nodded, mainly because they were still too shell-shocked by the imagery to really think about the question.

"Also, if it turns out that he was brainwashed all along, then we're just restoring his honor and killing the person responsible. I can see no way that this can possibly go wrong," Donatello said, ultimately dooming their plan to a messy end.

They stood around stupidly for a few seconds. Being aggressive and taking the initiative was all well and good, but it had suddenly just occurred to them that Leonardo and the Shredder had explicitly stated they wanted to be alone. And since it was also very clear that the two were in a blatantly romantic relationship, there was but one way they could take that comment. It didn't bode very well for the plan.

It also made them think about how exactly any of what their brother and the Shredder were doing was actually possible, with one of them being a giant turtle and the other being a rather small slimy blob in a metal cyborg body. None of the images they were conjuring were attractive at all.

Michelangelo cleared his throat, breaking the trance. "Let's get our weapons?" he suggested.

"Uh, right. I think they went in Leo's room," Donatello said, shaking himself firmly into reality. He had a plan. He had a glorious purpose. He would not be mastered by his own imagination and his fear of walking in on his brother committing unspeakable acts with an alien in a sharp metal suit! "We'll sneak up on them, enter with stealth, and then drop on him above. And then we kill him as quickly as possible and hopefully not be able to see all that much in the dark."

"I blame the drugs," Raphael continued, mainly to himself. He seemed lost in his indignation at the foul and addictive attacks on his brother. "Those Foot bastards. We should flood the damn Shredder tower with marijuana gas or somethin'."

The thought of hundreds of Foot ninja falling to the perils of marijuana gas was definitely an interesting one. Donatello decided to file it away for later use. Possibly for the upcoming epic battle after it was discovered that they'd killed their master the Shredder. Again.

On the other hand, you'd think they'd have gotten used to that by now.

"We attack immediately," he said, full of purpose.

"You've always wanted to say that, haven't you?" Michelangelo accused him. People weren't naturally that dramatic.

Donatello ignored him. "Come on," he said impatiently, "And remember that cutting his head off never works."

It was indeed very dark in Leonardo's room. As ninja, and therefore denizens of the midnight realm of shadow, they were totally cool with this. Darkness was essential for the entire blending into shadows routine, after all. What they had managed to forget in all the haste to get rid of their hated foe was the fact that the two people they were sneaking up on were ninja as well, and pretty awesome ones at that.

So the light turned on, courtesy of Leonardo, and all parties froze. There was a moment of deafening silence as the assembled assassination party took in the scene before them.

In the aforementioned silence, one could hear a pin drop onto a cotton sheet. And therefore everyone could clearly hear Michelangelo's high-pitched scream of pure hysteria. Everyone could also hear the muffled retching noises Raphael made as he fled from the scene. And pretty much everyone could hear Leonardo's tone of insulted modesty as he said: "Come on, guys, I left a sock on the doorknob and everything!"

Suffice to say, the event was traumatizing enough to make them flee the room in fifteen flavors of panic, with the mad desire to claw out their eyes from the horror. The bedroom antics of their brother and their arch-nemesis were too much for their frail minds to take in. This definitely killed the morale.

"I had no idea that he could do that with his tongue," Michelangelo said, shuddering. He looked as though he had witnessed all the nightmares of the nether hells.

Raphael was a lighter shade of green than he had any right to be. "Eyebrows should not be that interesting."

"Or that articulated," Donatello agreed, "They- I think I might have gone temporarily blind from the sight. We will never speak of this again. And someone needs to help me unclench my hand from this doorknob."

The doorknob had been wrenched off the actual door, but Donatello's fingers were locked around it in a horror-triggered attack of rigor mortis-like grip. They took a few moments to grab his fingers and pry them off the of the knob before continuing the conversation at hand. This was a lot more difficult than it seemed, and involved a run-in with various tools, peanut butter, and a miniature Jaws of Life

"I knew I invented that for a reason," Donatello said, as the doorknob finally clattered to the top of his worktable.

"Of course you invented it for a reason," Michelangelo said, "Dude, you have some kind of latent psychic powers or something, because every time we ever need something you just happen to have just the right thing for us! You never invent stupid shit like electric banana peelers or- or subway cleaners or the cure for Tourette's Syndrome! It's always something awesome that we need the next day!"

Raphael nodded. "Yeah. That's frickin' weird. Did you get your hands on some kind of see into the future machine or something?"

Michelangelo peered at him accusingly. "Have you stolen something from Renet?" he accused, "Only I saw you grabbing something off her-"

"That's not important right now!" Donatello said quickly. Suspiciously quickly. "Our brother is engaging in unspeakable acts with our worst enemy, guys! The enemy that only recently attempted to destroy not only us, but an entire race of alien people! The enemy that eventually wants to rule the world!"

"Oh, that?" Leonardo said, comfortably, "He's gotten over that. It was a brief phase in his life, and we have it quite under control."

Everyone stared at him in disbelief. This was quickly becoming their most common expression. It was a mingled display of disbelief, horror, moral offense, and glazed-over incomprehension. 'They' and 'everyone' mainly referred to Donatello and Michelangelo, as Master Splinter seemed to be too traumatized to pull himself into reality nowadays, and Raphael was very busy tracking down enemies to destroy.

"Look," Donatello said carefully, "I think you need to remember several key points here. The first, and most important point? Shredder-"

"Oroku Saki," Leonardo corrected.

Donatello sighed deeply, indicating that he was drawing on immense inner wells of patience, "Oroku Saki- although I hardly see why you'd like me to call him that, as it isn't even his real name-"

"Saki desires to completely embrace Earth culture," Leonardo added. "Ch'rell was his evil alien name, and The Shredder was his evil overlord name."

"I'm pretty sure Oroku Saki was also an evil overlord name," Donatello tried to point out. "Not that it matters, really. Not that his name makes any iota of difference. I'm just pointing out semantics now. The point is not his sinister name. The point is that this…this person has repeatedly proven himself to be a megalomaniacal, plotting, sinister tyrant. This is not an ideal first boyfriend, Leo. I don't care what the bad boy complex tells you, this is not what can be considered a good first step into the realm of dating."

Leonardo nodded. "I respect your concerns, but it's not going to be an issue. I told you, he doesn't do that kind of thing anymore. He's actually been pretty exemplary as far as behavior goes. At least for the last few months. I mean, he donated a large part of his estate to abandoned pets, as well as giving funding to the Make a Wish foundation."

"They must be covers for a nefarious plot," Michelangelo said grimly. "I have read about this in comics. The villain uses something, like, completely innocent as a cover."

Leonardo seemed to be losing patience with this line of questioning. "What kind of nefarious plot has kittens ambling around in his skyscraper? No offense, Mikey, but your Marvel comics aren't exactly a good reference point for real life relationships."

"They're robot kittens. Robot kittens with LASER EYES." Michelangelo seemed a bit hysterical. His brother was being seduced into evil by the ultimate enemy. Usually, plots like that tended to involve a lot of collateral damage. "Robot kittens built to enslave us all!"

"I've seen the bills for kitty litter," Leonardo said. "No robot kitten could use up that much kitty litter. Not even the ones built to enslave us all." He sounded as though he was unsuccessfully hiding his amusement. Clearly he didn't consider death by robot kittens a serious threat.

Meanwhile, Donatello felt like he might just be developing a nervous tic. And if he wasn't, he was willing to undergo the effort to make one to outwardly express his frustration. For some reason, his brother just wasn't grasping the sheer, unbridled insanity of his lifestyle choices. For some unfathomable reason, he was unaware of exactly how pivotally horrific this had the potential to be. Not only this, but the conversation was gradually winding down in seriousness.

"Look, that isn't even an option," he demanded. "Ignore him. Just ignore him, he brings nothing but- but chaos and distraction."

"I also bring carob-covered soy chips," Michelangelo said helpfully. He waved the snack item at Donatello's face.

Donatello gave him an expression that implied that he would unleash Scientific Mayhem on his head if this nonsense did not end right this second. The chip was lowered. "Anyway," he said, grasping patience with firm hands and a weary mind, "We'll leave that aside. This…person…has shown himself, on many occasions, to be an untrustworthy bastard of the highest order. I do not exaggerate when I say this. He has tried to murder us on multiple occasions. Several times, he has committed more crimes than I can possibly list in one day. He is known as the scourge of the universe."

To the mild concern of those present, Leonardo only seemed to find this appealing in some way.

"Dude, do you have a dreamy look at that? That is sick. You should not find scourges sexy," Michelangelo shrieked. "And no! Don't say anything! Not one thing!"

Leonardo shrugged. "I was only going to say-"


"Dammit, Leo!' Donatello snapped, "Can you not see that I am trying to lead you down the right path, here? Can you at least think of Master Splinter's health?"

This was the right trigger to use, Donatello noticed with some satisfaction. At the mere mention of Master Splinter's name alongside the implication of deteriorating health, Leonardo snapped to attention. "What's wrong with him?" he asked, looking concerned.

"This new relationship of yours seems to have turned something in his brain," Donatello said, "Frankly, we think he's trying to disassociate through meditation."

All eyes turned to the corner where Splinter was, indeed, meditating. An exorbitant amount of incense surrounded him, and quite a few sticks appeared to have been burned out for days.

"He's not even eating," Donatello said, sounding pained, "One of us tried to leave a bowl of soup there yesterday and it just floated away and landed on the table. Either Master Splinter has telekinetic powers, or we are being haunted."

Actually, spiritual possession had come up as a reason for this bizarre new relationship. Of course, it was suggested by Michelangelo and on the heels of other such nonsensical reasons, like alien invasion, crop circles, brain-eating zombies, and El Niño. Some people, Donatello thought, were incapable of handling stress without losing their minds completely. Then again, Michelangelo sometimes seemed like his grip on reality was shaky to begin with.

"Well, he's probably in deep thought right now," Leonardo said.



"I mean, when Master Splinter has to concentrate on something, he likes to spend some time in meditation to clear his mind and help him focus on the issue at hand, right? So, obviously this is an important issue he needs to contemplate, and so he's busy contemplating it." Leonardo nodded, having clearly solved the dilemma of Splinter's sudden withdrawal from the physical world.

"Oh, I give up," Donatello said.

Michelangelo peered suspiciously at Leonardo. "It's not too late to look for crop circles, bro," he said to Donatello. "I mean, they'll be pretty hard to find in the sewers, but they've gotta be out there. Made of garbage or something. Garbage circles. With evil, alien influence."

At that, Raphael stumbled through the door, adorned with bruises, scrapes, and what looked like a band of silly string draped across the back of his shell.

"Don't ask," he snarled. "Just don't even fucking ask."

"But-" Michelangelo started.

"Nothing." Raphael's decision on the matter was clear and absolute. He picked at the stream of silly string in disgust, and turned on his heel. "I'm gonna take a shower."

They watched politely as he left.

"You think someone should mention that he has a Purple Dragon symbol spray-painted on his back?" Leonardo asked.

It was dinner at the Shredder household.

Usually, this meant next to nothing, as Shredder didn't need to partake in human foods, Karai had her own residence and usually dined out anyway, and the Foot had assigned meal times and shifts. Today, however, the Shredder had summoned both Hun and Karai to dine with him in his recently refurbished living area. This made both of them extremely curious and frankly suspicious of a trap. Unusual behavior of this sort could mean anything from a set-up by an enemy, an assassination attempt, or some kind of test from Oroku Saki to see how skilled they were. This is why Karai brought bladed weapons to the family dinner, and Hun showed up with brass knuckles and a concealed firearm.

"Hun," Karai greeted him with all the frozen, perfunctory decorum she could muster.

"Karai," Hun sneered, making her name sound like an obscenity.

They stood there for a moment, staring each other down like lone wolves. This was an important part of their meetings: the staredown. Both of them would stand in a way that suggested that they were powerful, dominant, and clearly unaffected by the other. Then, they would proceed to communicate with nothing but the power of their stares, sending the message that the other was beneath contempt, clearly worthless, and altogether a waste of time. Following that, they would turn away from each other in a manner that was pointedly dismissive and in no way a retreat, and get on with whatever business they had at hand.

This moment of intensity was somewhat ruined by the presence of no less than five kittens, a beagle puppy, and a cockatiel that landed on Hun's shoulder and chirped a sweet song.

"What the hell is up with all these animals?" Hun said, angrily brushing the bird off his shoulder with one beefy, ham-like hand. "I know master is trying to present a positive public image, but why adopt animals? Can't he just dump a check on an orphanage or something?"

"I'm sure he has put a lot of thought into this animal adoption program," Karai said. There was the distinct note of doubt in her tone. "The Foot soldiers are of the opinion that the animals are trained and have advanced espionage technology implanted into their bodies."

Hun prodded the puppy with his foot, trying to keep it from coming too close. Nothing cute could come within five feet of him. It was standard Hun protocol.

"Some of the Purple Dragons think they're robots," he said, for lack of anything else to say.

Karai raised a finely-sculpted eyebrow. "Robot kittens," she said.

"With laser eyes," Hun added.

Karai nodded. The gesture managed to express without words the sheer level of contempt that Karai, and indeed the whole of the Foot, had for Purple Dragons and their mental capacities. Then she placed a careful hand on the hilt of her katana, waved a hand at the door, and went to open it.

It was always her job to open the doors. Hun was physically incapable. There was some strange tweak in his mind that gave him this disability. Instead of opening doors, he would either walk through them, or grab them in his hands and crush them, or drive a car into them, or any number of destructive methods that did not involve turning a doorknob or sliding a shoji door. He was door-blind.

They walked through, followed by a freakishly adorable tabby, and stood in a moment of awe.

Shredder had redesigned his living space. Where before it had been one large room, it now had different compartments, separated by large, paper screens and decorated with elaborate watercolor paintings. This was not the disturbing bit. The disturbing bit was the kitchen.

It was very much a kitchen, in all its Western-styled, gleaming, chrome-and-linoleum glory. A small window sat above the polished white sink. It was framed with bright gingham curtains. A small potted petunia sat on the windowsill. The whole thing was very bright and cheery, like something one would see in an old sitcom.

A little ways from the kitchen sat a table with a red-checked tablecloth, and it was set for three people.

Hun and Karai, armed and dangerous and ready for combat, became Hun and Karai, confused and shocked and ready for an explanation.

"That is a kitchen," Hun said, reaffirming Karai's beliefs about his intelligence. He wasn't entirely to blame for the redundancy of his comment, of course. Many people, when presented with a cheery domestic scene as opposed to a den of evil, would react in the same way.

Karai refrained from making the obvious comment about his intelligence and turned to the greater matters at hand. "It could be a trap," she suggested.

This didn't fit in any of the ideas they had about traps. Shredder traps tended to be far more insidious than this, and involved ninjas, or death machines, or both ninjas and death machines. The kitchen was not only death machine-free, but also smelled faintly of garlic, tomato sauce, and air freshener. Not a very evil scene. Of course, it could be a set-up to try and lull them into a false sense of security. This was possible. It just didn't seem very much like the Shredder.

Befuddled, they both made their way over to the table and inspected its cheery, checkered surface for any sign of danger.

"Ah, here you are," a sinister voice said from just behind one beautifully-painted screen.

Neither of them jumped.

"Father," Karai said respectfully, laying a hand on the table, but not taking her sword hand off of the hilt of her katana.

"Master," said Hun, oozing servitude. Karai twitched the corner of her mouth in an almost imperceptible expression of disgust.

"I see that you have redecorated," she said, making the observation with no intonation in her tone to show how she felt about it.

"Yes," Shredder said in his raspy, evil voice. "I've been rearranging several aspects of my life. Please be seated, both of you. I would like to discuss something with you."

They both gave the innocuous wooden chairs a critical look, gave each other an even more critical look, and eventually settled down with an overall air of unease. Their places were set with matching china plates, tall glasses, and silverware wrapped in paper napkins. This was definitely out of the ordinary.

"Are there flowers on my plate?" Hun said, lifting the thing up in the air and squinting at it.

Karai didn't respond. Not that she had anything to say to that, anyway.

What she was thinking was that perhaps they had stumbled into the wrong ninja overlord's home. That this bizarre vision of Leave It To Beaver fused with Japanese culture couldn't possibly be her father's residence. That there had been some kind of mistake made, a strange, twisted, chimerical mistake that could somehow explain the- the strikingly unusual scene before her. Where were the weapons? The imposing, low table? The pillars? And why a kitchen? Her father didn't even eat, for heaven's sake.

"There are definitely flowers on this plate," Hun accused, poking the thing like he expected there to be a bomb attached to it.

"They're hardly contagious," she said dryly.

Before Hun could come up with a suitable retort, one of the doors around the dining room compartment slid open, revealing the Shredder in full regalia.

"Dinner is served," he said, eyes glowing a malevolent red.

It turned out to be spaghetti.

In the entirety of the food genre, there was probably no other dish that showed how completely off the deep end this evening had gone. It was not only spaghetti, but spaghetti and meatballs. And not even dignified, well-made pasta. It had clearly been homemade by someone with a flimsy grasp on cooking skills and a few cans of Ragu.

Karai poked at it with her fork.

"This is…very interesting," she said politely. She didn't want to disrespect her father's cooking by calling it complete garbage, although it was disturbing that he'd actually been cooking.

"I am delighted to create healthy and nourishing meals for my children," Shredder said, causing both Hun and Karai to look over their shoulders to see who he was referring to, then turn back with similarly blank expressions. "Please continue eating while I get the milk."

Shredder went off to the kitchen, intent on procuring refreshing, calcium-giving milk.

Hun prodded at his food with his fork. "If I eat this," he whispered, "Will I go crazy, too?"

Meanwhile, back in the sewers, the brothers had mutually decided this had to end, preferably sooner rather than later, and were conspiring to- well, conspiring to meet and conspire, really. Their big planner was busy swooning over their arch nemesis, leaving them out of a tactician. They decided that Donatello would be the planner for now, because he seemed good at that sort of thing. Also, if it backfired, he would get the blame. Donatello was pretty good at sneaking out of blame through logical arguments and innocent stares that read: "Who, me? I am but an inoffensive scientist who hasn't a speck of guile in his soul. I am clean of mischief." It was shockingly effective.

Raphael left the sanctity of the showers and entered Donatello's technologically-secure fortress of a bedroom. At least, he knocked on the door and tried to enter the fortress of a bedroom. "Yo, it's me," he muttered, feeling like this entire routine was a bit idiotic.

"Greetings, brother," a sibilant voice answered, "The alligator swims in the blackest lagoon."

Raphael rolled his eyes. "Mikey, this got old weeks ago. It's been old. It's so old that disco is calling it ancient. Knock it off."

"I'm sorry, did you say something about a bird?"


"Look, we can't just let anyone in here. What if it's Shredder doing a Raph voice, or Leo doing a Raph voice, or an evil Raph robot or something? We have to have some kind of safety stuff set up, dude. What was that about a bird?"

"How about I kick down the door and dent your head?"

"Can't," Michelangelo chirped happily from his place of relative safety, "It's reinforced steel, remember? That stuff Don refuses to tell us where he got it from. But you can't break it, that's for sure. This is some amazing super-metal. I think it's adamantium. I think Don mugged and killed Wolverine for it."

"FINE. The graceful hummingbird sings its praise to whatever. Now lemme in."

"Oh, I don't think there's such flower as 'whatever,' Raph. You've gotta say the flower name! Go on, say it!"

Raphael's tenuous grip on his self-control snapped. "You know what the hummingbird does, Mike? The graceful hummingbird pulls a stunt plane maneuver and crash-lands its tiny bird self smack up your-"

"Oh, for- Mikey, just let him in! We don't have all night for this! The planning must be precise and calculated and must not take all night while the two of you talk about hummingbirds and alligators! And I'm taking those books away from you, Mikey!"

Michelangelo sighed mournfully about people who had no sense of fun. "It was a daffodil," he said to no one in particular as Raphael stormed in, sporting a blurred purple dragon on his shell. (By now, it looked more like a fuchsia salamander.) Michelangelo took a small amount of pleasure in that. "Just so everyone knows," he added. "Not a hard flower to remember."

Donatello studiously ignored this input. "All right. Look, I think everyone here agrees that Leonardo is either not thinking straight, or has been involved in some sort of sinister plot that has left him brainwashed and unable to make logical decisions."

The others nodded. The raging debate had ended with generally those two options, with various takes on the same idea. For example, crop circles in the sewers vs. the Foot Mystics doing some strange Foot mystical thing to Leonardo's brain. The idea that Karai had forced some kind of love potion down Leonardo's throat was also a popular one.

"Anyway, the how doesn't matter anymore," Donatello said, "What's done is done, it is time to look to the future. I think we should kidnap him."

"Wait," Raphael said, "What? Did I miss something here?"

"Kidnap him," Donatello repeated firmly, "For his own good."

"We can't kidnap him," Michelangelo said, "That's…that's insane. Also, where would we put him? Canada?"

Donatello sighed, frustrated with the lack of support this plan was getting. "In the dead of night, we'll sneak into his room, overpower him with technology and ninjitsu, and spirit him away to some far away country, and keep him there until he returns to his senses. It's a perfectly logical plan."

They all turned this prospect over in their minds.

"There might be crop circles there, too," Michelangelo pointed out.

"Besides," Raphael said, "What about Master Splinter?"

Master Splinter had taken an extended and, most likely permanent, visit to the astral plane. He now subsisted entirely off of the energy gleaned from nature, barely moved, and basically seemed ornamental. Casey had accidentally hung his coat on one of Master Splinter's frozen arms. This was worrying. They couldn't possibly leave him in his bizarre state alone. People might mistake him for an ornamental table.

Donatello slumped. "You're right, it would never work." His genius plan had been cut short by an over-meditating father. Einstein didn't have to deal with this. "We've tried to kill Shredder. It never works. We've tried to detox Leo. He came out sparkly clean and still continued his misguided love affair. We've tried throwing him at different men. This was a short-lived plan, and Casey didn't approve. We've tried Utrom mind-healing. He came out negative for tampering. There must be SOMETHING!"

"I guess there's really nothing we can do," Michelangelo said glumly.

Raphael snorted. "Except for maybe pick out the curtains."

"Hey," Michelangelo said, "Did you ever think maybe that it's Leo brainwashing the Shredder?"

A awkward silence hung over the group.

Donatello looked up at the security cameras set to scan every inch of the Lair. "…Where IS Leo?"

Dinner was passing fairly well, especially since Karai had summoned a Foot soldier who specialized in poisons and had stationed him under the table.

"Foot soldier," she said commandingly, while Shredder had gone to fetch the salad dressing, "Your entire career, and, in fact, life, depend on your ability to hide under this table and eat the spaghetti completely undetected."

The Foot soldier, who couldn't very well show his expression of surprise behind his face-concealing ninja mask, nodded obediently and began dealing with the considerable problem that eating while wearing a mask presented him with.

Hun, who had no Foot soldier to eat his food for him, glumly wound forkfuls of spaghetti and pushed them around his plate.

"Eat your food," Shredder instructed. "It's full of vitamins."

Hun, who paid no attention to the nutritional properties of his food, stared back at him dumbly.

Karai, whose plate was empty and glistening, put her fork down solemnly. "Father, why have you called us before you today?" she asked with the formality appropriate to the occasion- or what the occasion could possibly be construed as.

"Well," Shredder began, sounding distinctly uncomfortable. "You know that I have longed for someone to share my life with for some time now…"

"No, I haven't," Karai said.

"Neither have I," Hun said, pushing a lump of spaghetti off his plate.

Karai glared at him. "I can say with certainty that those desires have never been made clear to me," she continued.

"Well, I have," Shredder said, sounding slightly petulant. "And after several moonlit strolls on the rooftops and candlelit duels in my private study, I have found my soul mate. And I wish to present him to you tonight, in the hopes that you will continue to follow him as loyally as you have followed me. I have found true love, and with it I have found a new and lovely peace."

At this point, Karai and Hun had reached a peak of terror that had hitherto never been reached by two badass warriors with arms of steel. Their lives of crime and ninjas and thuggery had never before touched the realm of epic romance. It was enough to make them want to flee this scene of spaghetti and domestic bliss and return to their happy place of violence.

The ninja under the table tried very hard not to choke on his food.

"Yes," Shredder continued in blissful obliviousness to the horror of his minions. "I present to you my future companion."

Horrible, corny music started to play. The high-backed chair that sat at Shredder's side swiveled slowly around.

"Leonardo!" Karai gasped.

Leonardo smiled. "If you can't beat them," he said, "Take them over. Preferably through non-hostile means."

Shredder beamed with adoration, completely ignorant of the mind-controlling programming holding him hostage. "That's my love," he said, and kissed him, his eyes glowing gruesome red.

The phone rang.

April answered it, filing her newly-polished nails. "Of course it worked," she said, smiling beatifically, "Amor vincit omnia, after all. Now we'll discus the method of payment."

The End

Or is it?