Summary: The Justice Force knows the value of a strong team. That's why they won't break up Leo's. A missing scene set during the Lost Season episode Membership Drive.
Mikey – Turtle Titan, Leo corrected himself mentally with a small grin – was busy hassling the new recruits and goofing around with Tsunami. Bowmaster and the shrinking guy were watching him warily and Leo couldn't figure out if it was because he was a mutant or because he was a doofus. He wasn't worried about it either way. Mikey didn't take ignorance to heart and Leo was confidant the Justice Force didn't tolerate it in the ranks. And if it was the other, well. Mikey was a doofus and proud of the fact. Besides, Leo couldn't help but think those two needed to be loosened up a bit. And from him, that was saying something.
Gauntlet was nowhere to be seen. Leo wondered if he snuck away or if Sentry sent him packing. He glanced sideways at the new Justice Force's leader and contemplated asking, but decided he didn't need to know. Sentry knew what he was doing.
"Successful membership drive, I'd say," Leonardo offered. He raised an eyeridge as Mike shrieked like a girl and started backflipping across the room, Tsunami giving an outraged but laughing pursuit. Shrinking Guy cringed against the wall and Bowmaster regarded them both with a vaguely confused condescension. He'd lighten up, Leo was willing to bet. A want-to-be superhero who took the title too seriously. Given time he'd figure out they couldn't be icons all the time.
If Raph could hear his thoughts now, Leo knew, his brother would laugh in his face.
"Very successful," Sentry agreed. "I hadn't expected to be able to test our new recruits' combat reflexes quite so quickly, but the situation worked to our advantage nicely."
Rampaging robots could be a mixed blessing, Leo supposed.
"Speaking of new recruits," Sentry continued, "there is something I'd like to discuss with you. Walk with me?"
Leo caught his brother's eye and signaled that he was leaving. Mikey flashed him a thumbs up for a second before Tsunami took advantage of his distraction and tackled him around the waist. Leo rolled his eyes as Nobody tried to separate them and ended up on his rear end with an indignant look on his face. Leo gave it ten more minutes before Michelangelo dragged the entire room and everyone in it into utter chaos and was rather glad Raphael hadn't come along. Or Donatello, for that matter, as his quiet brother had an impish tendency to join in on Mikey's foolishness when they were surrounded by friends.
"I'd like to discuss Michelangelo's application to the Justice Force," Sentry said as soon as they were away from the room, the door shut behind them and the sounds of rowdy superheroes fading in the background.
That made Leo raise his eyeridges in surprise. "Sentry, Michelangelo's a big boy." He considered that. "I know he doesn't act like it-"
"We're happy to have him," Sentry said. He stopped and crossed his arms over his chest. "Admittedly, he can be a bit… lacking in seriousness…"
"Doofus," Leonardo supplied with a sympathetic grin.
Sentry returned the smile. "I'm quite serious. I've worked with Michelangelo before, individually and as part of a group, and I've observed the aftermath of several of your battles with the Purple Dragons. Not to mention that I've come across more than a few muggers, rapists and murderers left trussed up like Thanksgiving Turkeys for the police. I'm painfully aware of his competency and the fact that he has a tendency to goof off at times. But he has saved my life and all of humanity on more than one occasion. He's honorable, capable and he's willing to sacrifice for the greater good. All of which more than makes up for his more exuberant moments, in my opinion."
Leonardo blinked. "The rest of the Justice Force agrees with this?"
'They do." Sentry was hiding a grin now and Leo felt vaguely put out. Like they'd known he'd react with surprise. "Nobody, Raptar and Ananda were strong supporters of his. And Metal-head was happy to have him as well."
He was never going to be able to explain this to Sensei. He just wasn't. And Raph – God. Mike would be impossible to live with for weeks. Months. Maybe years. They thought the Battle Nexus thing was bad; this was only Mike's life-long dream.
"But it wouldn't work," Sentry said. "And that's why I want to talk to you privately."
"I-what?" Unreasonably, Leo felt a little offended. Mikey was awesome, but sorry, we don't want him? He frowned at the Silver Sentry. "I confess to being a bit in the dark here."
"Being in the Justice Force would take quite a lot of Michelangelo's time," Sentry said. "He'd frequently be required to travel to foreign countries, or even to outerspace as our abilities were required. And I think we both know that could present a problem."
"I wasn't kidding when I said he was a big boy," Leonardo offered. "He's not going to cry like a kid at his first sleepover."
"No." Sentry swallowed a laugh, probably fighting off the same mental picture Leo had just given himself. "No. But the first time you or one of your brothers needed him while he was with us, where do you think his final loyalties would lie?"
"Your other teammates have families too, Sentry."
"They do," Sentry conceded. "But none in a similar line of work. Let's face it, Leo. At the end of the day, the only difference between you four and us is that we get to be on TV. And possibly, the fact that your line of work is even more dangerous than ours. My family isn't going to be facing down crime lords, ancient Japanese demons or alien dinosaurs. There may be times when my responsibilities to my family conflict with my responsibilities to the Justice Force, I'm aware of that. But Leo – how often would Michelangelo be torn between those responsibilities? God forbid," he added, "one of you are hurt or killed while he's working with us, or worse. What would you have me say to him when we return from a mission one day and the three of you are gone?"
"Thanks for the good karma," Leonardo said dryly, crossing his arms over his plastron as Sentry looked a little sheepish. "I see your point."
The Sentry clapped him on the shoulder. "Your brother's a good man. We could have used him. But he'd do more good, and be the better for it, by staying with you."
Leonardo couldn't pretend he'd have been happy about Mike throwing himself in danger without the rest of them to watch his back, anyway. And the idea of Mike being gone for days or months on end was oddly unsettling – they'd lived in such closeness for so long that he couldn't imagine it would be comfortable for one of them to be gone so completely.
"We do have a proposal, though." Sentry grinned. "We're admitting two new members on a provisionary basis-"
"Bowmaster?" Leonardo asked. "And Shrinking Guy-"
"Seriously? Okay, Moleculo. Those two?"
"Yes. They have some potential, and never let it be said we can't all make a bad first impression-" He sounded a bit gruff. "Regardless, with Nano joining the ranks, we've a full staff – I had hoped to bring in two full-time members, but I'm not going to recruit someone just to fill a seat." He shrugged. "And then there's Michelangelo."
"He is a big boy, Sentry. He's going to be able to handle a rejection." Leo refrained from mentioning the colossal sulk he and their other brothers would be subjected to upon their return home. Some things were best not mentioned.
"I had an alternative suggestion, as a matter of fact." Sentry grinned.
-"And with the addition of this mysterious Nano, the Justice Force completed their membership drive."
Donatello and Raphael turned to him as one. "Nano?!"
Leo waved them off. "Don't ask."
Raph smirked and raised his voice. "What's the matter, Mikey?" he asked, ignoring the stern glance Don gave him. "Didn't make the cut?"
"In your dreams, you wanna-be," Mikey retorted, a definite note of condescension in his voice. "The Turtle Titan is an official member of the Justice Force." He stepped into the room and struck a pose, showing off the new costume he'd spent most of the evening designing. "Of course, I'm only on duty every third Wednesday of every fourth month. And February twenty-ninth. When there is one."
Raph groaned. Donatello laughed into his hands. Leo shrugged at them both and decided not to mention until later that all four of them had been made honorary reserve members of the Justice Force.
Mike was going to be impossible to live with for weeks.