Summary: As one of RooTTech's many Tech Support drones, Donatello gets all kinds of calls. But when Donny gets phoned by a wrong number on the edge, will he be able to keep her from toeing the line? Intermixed events and various pairings as one turtle's choice affects the entire team.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except for fond childhood memories of watching turtle cartoons on Saturday mornings.
Quick Author Note: Donatello's nickname will be written as "Donny" rather than "Donnie" in this, as determined by the subtitles of the live action films. I wasn't sure which spelling to go with, but that little detail became the deciding factor. :)
Chapter 9: Immovable Object
"Policeman says, "Son, you can't stay here."
I said, "There's someone I'm waiting for if it's a day, a month, a year.
Gotta stand my ground even if it rains or snows.
If she changes her mind this is the first place she will go."
'Cause if one day you wake up and find that you're missing me
And your heart starts to wonder where on this earth I could be
Thinking maybe you'll come back here to the place that we'd meet
And you'll see me waiting for you on the corner of the street
So I'm not moving, I'm not moving,
I'm not moving, I'm not moving
People talk about the guy that's waiting on a girl, oh ohh
There are no holes in his shoes but a big hole in his world, hmm
And maybe I'll get famous as the man who can't be moved
Maybe you won't mean to but you'll see me on the news
And you'll come running to the corner
'Cause you'll know it's just for you
I'm the man who can't be moved
I'm the man who can't be moved"
-The Script, "The Man Who Can't Be Moved"
Out of all the places they'd ever broken into, he could honestly say that this was a first. The alarms were minimal, the security so lax it was almost nonexistent, and the whole setup was downright sloppy. Then again, he'd never really been in a public school before, so he wasn't sure what to compare it against. But what he did see was rather dismal.
Faded blue-grey linoleum, beige lockers, and despite their disappointing security measures, the whole place had a "lockdown" feel to it, with bars on a few of the windows and a surprisingly new-looking metal detector at the front.
What desks he could see through open doorways were made up of worn wood and bland plastic, chalkboards instead of newer whiteboards. The whole place had the look about it of being stuck somewhere in the 1980's. Like he'd somehow fallen into the setup of Ferris Bueller's Day Off or something, dropped there by some unknown deity.
Although that wasn't right—he knew why he was here, and the sole blame went to Donny.
Unbidden, his mind went back.
"Joi wants to finish school," the words, spoken deliberately into the dojo, interrupted his kata. Leo's arms slowly lowered, careful of the weapons he held. Then, deciding that it was time to work on other things anyway, the other turtle began putting his equipment—including his priceless swords—away.
"Good to hear. What does that have to do with me?" his words were short and sharp and he almost regretted them—almost. Because usually out of all his brothers he got along with Donny the best.
It was just that…Joi put him on edge for some reason. Or, to put it more accurately, the way that Donny kowtowed to her every whim put him on edge. Where was his calm, logical brother, he wondered? Someone who could calculate the risks and shie away from exposure. This version of Don had nothing to do with the original model; a false copy portraying emotions which were out of character for the technologically-inclined turtle.
At least, those emotions hadn't appeared since Donny was mooning after April, ten years previous. But that had been when they were teenagers and prone to wildly shifting emotions, he justified. It was a normal part of growing up, and also something which they set aside as they got older.
Plus, Leonardo wasn't about to compare Joi to April—they weren't even close to being similar. April was strong, confident, adaptable. Sure, she'd freaked out upon first meeting them—given the circumstances he couldn't fault her for it. Mutated turtles and rats aside, she'd already gone through a series of shocks. But the fact of the matter, though, was that she'd bounced back—she was their Ane, their older sister.
Joi, on the other hand, recoiled whenever he came near. She always seemed to be ducking her head or hiding behind Don—he couldn't help but think that it was all an act; no one was that fearful. Sometimes it just made him want to pick her up and shake her. To say, "who are you really working for?! And why do you have such a hold on my brother?!"
But that would probably result in a complete falling out with Don. Which was the worst part—he was seemingly chosen his 'friendship' with the Roberts girl over their family. Not being allowed to go on patrol was supposed to be a punishment—Leo knew that Splinter had intended it that way—yet Donatello had accepted it with calm cheerfulness for the most part.
It was like he didn't even miss them.
Or that he thought, for some reason, that giving them intel over a headset made up for not being by their side.
The whole situation just made him short-tempered and frustrated.
Which is why he reacted the way that he did—cold, sardonic, biting.
Donatello frowned but didn't rise to the bait, unfortunately, "well, it concerns you because I can't leave the Lair."
"And?" he prompted, back still turned.
"And," his younger brother's tone was sharp, "Master Splinter asked me to ask you to go get her things from her school locker."
Leonardo scowled at this clear evidence of the olive-colored turtle undermining his authority by going straight to their father.
"She has a lot of her schoolwork there that she would like to finish or use to catch up. It would maybe allow her to start college in the Fall. Plus there's some of her mother's things in there, so it's kind of important."
Joi wanted to finish high school. So that she could go to college. Which potentially meant that she would be moving out of the Lair.
The vigilante group's leader finished his ministrations and turned around, irritated expression still in place. But the logic of his thought process was already cementing itself in his mind.
"Fine. But after that I'm not doing you any more favors."
So now he was stuck here, in the late evening, doing Don's dirty work. Mikey had offered to come with him, but he knew that it was out of the desire to see if all high schools matched his TV-influenced view of them, not out of the intent to be helpful.
Leo had left him home due to security reasons. Mostly.
Partially he just wanted the chance to clear his head.
Being with his family was wonderful in many ways, but having lived in the Amazon jungle for several years he'd learned to appreciate solitude, a commodity he couldn't always get at home. Where Raphael had Casey to bust heads with and drink a beer or two at the end of the day, Leo sought quiet. And it was matched by a strange itching ache in his chest that had developed over the past couple of years—ever since April and Casey got married.
He'd tried to figure out where that 'unease' stemmed from, but all his internal evaluations hadn't resulted in any results yet.
But maybe with some time he could figure it out.
Forcing himself to focus on the task at hand, Leo shook his mind out of its short daze, continuing to examine the building.
Despite the rather drab look of the place, he could at least say that it was clean. If the materials were old and worn, then the wood shone with recent oiling and the floors were clear of litter. The boards were the dark black and green of having been wiped down with water and there was no tagging or gang signs on the lockers or walls—making this one of the largest graffiti-free spaces he'd seen in his home town of New York. Then again, he generally didn't get the chance to view the interior of most buildings…
There were minimal decorations, of course, what posters which existed drawn out in bright, bold colors with too many exclamation points. Mostly they declared details like, "Last Debate Tournament of the Year. SUPPORT YOUR DEBATORS!" and "Senior Play. The Importance of Being Earnest." Plus there was the odd typed up notice, "don't forget to order your yearbook!"
Whatever a yearbook was.
All this he observed within the darkness, eyes adjusting so that he could imagine what it looked like in the full glare of day. Streetlight from the world outside filtered through far-off windows like silvery reflections on a pond, washing the linoleum with ghostly blues, and the harsh golden security lamps near the office and computer labs. But otherwise the place was silent—the way that he liked it.
Pulling out the carefully folded piece of paper from within a pouch on his belt, Leonardo frowned at Joi's faint handwriting. It could have been written by a feather, for how light and hesitant it was. The lines were long and delicate, with only the slightest bit of a hook at the ends. Only the dots had any substance, like big black eyes jabbed on to the page.
For some reason they made him feel uncomfortable.
She'd suggested that he come through a loose window in the girl's bathroom on the main floor, as it was near the hallway her locker resided in. But that also put him just down from the office, where one of the school's few security cameras was posted.
He tried to move silently, ignoring the prickling of unease the turtle felt as he potentially exposed himself in the "open" area. But when no lasers came at him or klaxons went off his shoulders dropped and he set about figuring this locker situation.
He hated to admit it, but Donny usually took care of these sorts of situations. And it wasn't like he couldn't figure it out, but there just wasn't any muscle memory there for turning dials and pressing buttons. In this case it was a locker combination.
#A-113. Two turns to the right…38…one turn left…24…one half turn right…34. Gotcha. The door opened with a metallic clang, obvious in the stark emptiness of the pubic school building and he hissed in dissatisfaction, teeth gritted.
When this didn't seem to result in people running at him with weapons of any kind, or even alarms going off, the turtle carefully continued. Dragging the gunny sack he'd been towing along up and over his shell that he could start filling it.
"Not the 3 large textbooks at the bottom," Joi had written out. They were apparently school property, but he carefully began packing the rest.
There were novels, for one, from "Persuasion" to "A Little Princess," and even, "The Phantom of the Opera." Plus titles that were a little more modern, like, "Ella Enchanted." Joi said that she'd taken them to school to protect them from her father, which made sense given Roberts' apparent drunkenness.
Leonardo didn't doubt for a second that Donny would be borrowing some of these titles in the future—after all, any new reading material was good reading material, and these were in surprisingly good condition. Especially when compared to the fare that they were used to.
There were also what he assumed were journals or study notebooks, many of which were either black or pink for some reason, most of the text written out in purple. Also a shoebox, which was heavier than expected. Its content slid around with a metallic, almost serpentine sound that made him think of—
"Drop the box and step away from the locker!"
The command came in a powerful feminine voice, originating from the direction of the main office.
The vigilante's immediate response was to dive forward, using the metal door as a shield. But he knew it couldn't block everything, and his knew that his shell was distinctly sticking out.
"Listen, lady, this isn't what it looks like," he tried to reason with her while concurrently attempting to stuff the box into his sack.
Ah, shell, Leo thought mentally. The box wouldn't fit. He would probably have to dump the contents in and—
The crackle of a Taser being put to use sent his spine tingling.
So much for people not running at him with weapons, he thought dryly.
"Oh, it is exactly what it looks like," the woman proclaimed fiercely, "Joi Roberts is missing and then you come along, rifling through her stuff. Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation is probably the right one."
Shell. He'd been caught by a teacher.
"Put your hands up and move away."
He scowled into the metal confines, large hand poised to pour the container's contents into his bag. But that would likely make sound. And he still had to get out of here.
"Why should I?" he demanded icily, "I can see no benefit in it, not with you armed."
"Yes, but we're at a stalemate," she responded almost sweetly, voice low and rich, "you're going to have to come out some time. Especially as my friend from the police force is already on her way over. You sounded the silent alarms."
Silent alarms?! How did he miss those? No, he sternly told himself, she must be bluffing. Which meant that it was time to play his hand. After all, she thought that he was a looter, but she didn't know what kind of 'looter' he was.
"I don't believe that. Just like I don't believe that you'll actually shoot me," he called out, words echoing through the door. With some reluctance he pushed the shoebox back into the topmost shadow of Joi's locker, where most people wouldn't be able to see it.
"And why do you think that?" her voice was confident, in counterpoint to the static heat his reptilian blood picked up from several feet away.
Leonardo slowly straightened, bag carefully set on the floor in a smooth, soundless way. He would pick it back up after dealing with the situation.
"Because you'll never get the chance to do it," he intoned ominously.
Then he was moving faster than human eye could follow in the darkness, leaping toward the human and pulling her into a roll. She was shorter than he expected, though, and…fuller, so the traditional ninjitsu flip became more of an altered tumble. His miscalculation almost sent her head slamming into the linoleum and instinctively Leo caught it before it could make contact, knowing that a fall like that would probably be permanent.
Because while he wanted to stop her, he logically knew that she was just defending her territory and what might be construed as her 'family.'
Her skull bounced off of his muscular palm, and he was surprised to find her hair thick and springy. But thoughts like that were shut out as she yelped into his ear.
Then he was on top of her, pinning her arm to her ample chest. Being eye to eye with the human, he was witness to her wide expression as she took in his appearance, shadows and reflected light falling against the mottled skin, followed by a harshly indrawn breath. But shock didn't halt her for long.
"Who—whu—who are you?"
"That doesn't matter," his voice rumbled low in his chest, beneath the plastron level, "you're going to let what you've seen go and not come after me."
Something shifted in her dark eyes, and full lips pursed in a furious expression, "not until I know Joi's safe, I'm not."
Then, from the proximity of mere inches, something pierced his skin and sent a bolt of straight pain through him.
He'd incapacitated her right hand, aiming to remove the Taser from the equation.
The only problem being that she was left-handed.
The heavy shuffle and gasp of his brother startled them out of their conversation, and without pause he leapt over the couch, leaving Joi to watch them both with wide eyes. Neither brother paid her shock any attention, Donatello's attention immediately going to the way Leo was wincing, his bag roughly thrown over the back of his shell.
They both shifted over to the infirmary before any words were said.
"Leo, what happened?" Don asked as he worked at checking the wound, eventually throwing a blanket around Leo so that he could go grab some sterile bandages.
"It appears your little songbird has at least one defender," he winced, hand hovering over the wound gingerly, "she tased me."
The olive turtle sat back on his heels for a moment, "who tased you?"
"I think she was a teacher or something," he frowned, "I tried to neutralize the attack, but she got one in when I least expected it. I limped on out of there after grabbing the bag."
Donny hummed as he moved from his ministrations—checking and covering Leo's injuries, the double puncture wounds looking red and angry against his brother's upper chest—to pulling up a new program on the small computer they kept in the medical facility. A few minutes later he asked, "was it one of these three? They're the only ones with access to the building after hours."
Three individuals—a wizened Caucasian man, a young Latin-American woman, and a handsome African-American woman—appeared on the jittery, slightly off-color screen.
Leonardo jabbed one large terrapin finger at the last image, "that one, that's her."
"Well, it looks like you really know how to pick 'em, Leo," his brother remarked wryly.
"That's the Principal."
"What?" he hissed.
He nodded, "Principal Sarah Burns-Nichols, age 35—pretty young, all things considered. Recipient of the Teacher of the Year award a few years back. Does a little bit of public speaking and has some slight political clout—she's the one that fought to keep art programs in New York's schools last year."
"I remember," the older turtled sighed, before he ran a hand over his face. Then swore in Japanese.
Donatello's eye ridges jumped up in surprise before slowly nodding, "my thoughts, exactly. Well, not in so many words, but…"
He made an abrupt decision, "I'll go back tomorrow."
"What? Why? I mean, are you sure that's wise? Especially now that she's seen you?"
Leo forced himself to be honest, a painful expression on his face, "I…I didn't get everything."
"What?" Donatello gaped.
"There was a box," he murmured, touching his skin gingerly, "I didn't get the chance to grab it. I got all the books, but I think…I think that it held Joi's mother's possessions."
His brother looked horrified, an expression he couldn't help feeling guilty about. Not for Joi, but that he hadn't done the job right. That he'd failed a request by a member of his family. And he'd also failed Splinter-Sensei's expectations of him.
Looking away, he said quietly, "additionally, it's better to just deal with the situation before it becomes a problem. She already asked about Joi—" he ignored the medic's cry of dismay, "—imagine what could happen if she starts scouring the internet for information about mutant turtles?"
"Then she also gets information about flying bat people, Spiderman, and alligators in the sewers, too," Donatello answered with sharp practicality. Not that that last one was all that inaccurate, they both knew.
"Then we have the same sort of situation as when April first started sniffing around the Foot, is what we'll have—she'll draw attention, and we don't need another civilian in the mix to worry about. Not with everything else I've got on my plate right now," the last of his words were muttered anxiously as he paced, folding his arms in agitating and then quickly pulling them away as he hissed, painfully reminded of his wound.
The comment reminded Donny of the part he'd played in the 'everything' Leo was talking about, making him frown, but the turtle only asked, "well, what are you going to do?"
Their leader sighed heavily before looking away, licking his lower lip, then turning back, "do we have one of those Polaroids Mikey took of Joi?"
Donatello blinked and straightened. Michelangelo had been playing with the archaic camera ever since they discovered it in the dump. And, unable to help himself, Donny's curiosity led him to replicate the chemical compound used in Polaroid film. After that their youngest brother had gone on a bit of a photographic rampage, "I think so, why?"
"She said that she wanted evidence of Joi's safety. So I'm going to give her evidence."
"I hope you know what you're doing."
AN: the locker combination is that of my work locker, which I used for seven years straight. ^^
One nerdy reference that is not likely to be picked up is that Joi's notebooks are a callback to Helga G. Pataki's poetry volumes, in the show Hey Arnold, most of which are pink. She also has a tendency to write in purple, according to fans. ;)
To all those interested in seeing the fanart that I've created for this story (and possibly getting a glimpse of what Joi looks like), please visit my deviantart account: shahrezad1. deviantart gallery/ 50544260 /Teenage -Mutant -Ninja -Turtles (remove spaces)