Splinter strode smoothly across the mats of the training room, pacing slowly back and forth in front of his sons. The four turtles knelt before their master, all eyes trained on the giant rat, awaiting his instruction.
"Your ninja skills help you to survive in the heat of battle, but brute force is not the only tool at your disposal when combating the evils of this world. Knowledge is key in any struggle."
Donatello couldn't help but straighten his posture at that, a proud grin spreading across his face.
Splinter's eyes shifted over to the tallest of his students and, before they young terrapin could react, his tail whipped out with blinding speed and struck Donatello across the face. Donnie let out a yelp, tumbling backwards several feet from the force of the blow.
"Do not gloat, Donatello." Splinter scolded calmly as Donatello scuttled back to his place in line with his brothers, rubbing his cheek as he mumbled a dejected "Yes, Master..."
"I do not refer only to such things as math and science, but also to more abstruse, more involved subjects such as philosophy and history. To know what the evil men of the past have done will help you to prevent the same from occurring again, and understanding the reasons, the motivation behind such things will give insight into how to stop them."
"What does it matter why they do what they do? All we gotta do is take 'em down!" Raphael interjected, which immediately earned him a stinging blow from Master Splinter, though for him the blow was aimed right on the scar on his shoulder. The ninja master merely continued casually on as the young turtle was left holding his shoulder, cursing lightly under his breath.
"That is what you will be learning here today. Sometimes the best of intentions can be warped into hideous deeds. The evil rarely think of themselves as such."
Splinter stopped abruptly once he reached the last of his students in the lineup. He glanced down at the youngest of his four sons, his bushy white eyebrows furrowing in clear annoyance. Michelangelo sat there like the others, but he had his head tilted back, his eyes shut and his mouth gaped open. The other three turtles shifted slightly away from their little brother as he snored away, already seeing an anticipatory twitch in their master's tail. Sure enough, Mikey caught that tail across the face just a moment later, sending him flying to the back of the dojo.
Mikey slammed shell-first against the far wall before slumping haphazardly upside-down on the floor. Despite the energetic wake-up call, the freckled young terrapin merely gave a groggy yawn.
"H-huh? Whuz goin' on?" Michelangelo mumbled, rubbing at his eyes. Splinter let out a sigh, raising a hand to rub at his temple.
"I can see I am merely barking into the wind. We are done… For now. We will continue this another time."
With that, they were dismissed. The four young teens filed out into the main living area, leaving their master to have a well-needed moment of peace. As they headed out, Raphael made a point to shove his trouble-making baby brother as he passed by.
"Way to go, Mikey! Ya pissed Sensei off!" the red-masked turtle growled, earning a mildly indignant grunt from the younger of the two.
"I warned you not to stay up all night playing video games again." Leonardo chimed in. He wasn't normally one to agree with Raphael, especially since he usually resorted to bullying to get his point across, but he did have a legitimate point this time. Mikey merely continued along, eventually vaulting over the back of the couch and flopping down against the cushions.
"But I was so close to the end, dude! I couldn't just stop there!" Mikey mumbled groggily, his voice muffled slightly by the arm of the couch that he'd buried his face against. Donatello merely rolled his eyes at his brother's excuses.
"Whatever. Either way, we've got the rest of the evening to ourselves. Anyone up for some pizza gyoza?"
"Hell yeah!" Raphael replied, his mood brightening instantly at the mention of their favorite food.
"Sounds great." Leo added, an eager smile appearing on his face.
There was a moment of silence. Wait, that didn't seem right... Something was missing here. It didn't take them long to figure out what it was. The three turtles looked over the edge of the couch. Sure enough, there was Michelangelo, snoring away and dead to the world.
"Wow, he must really be tired if 'pizza gyoza' doesn't wake him up." Donatello commented softly, absolutely stunned that Mikey's insatiable hunger hadn't overridden his instinct to sleep.
"Forget him. Let's just go without him. Maybe that way we'll actually be able to eat our own damn meals without him stealing off our plates." Raphael said, not bothering to keep his voice down as he started for the door. Donnie sighed and looked to Leonardo for further input. Leo took another quick glance down at their baby brother before shrugging his shoulders.
"We'll, uhh… We'll just bring him a doggie bag." he decided, giving the lanky turtle a mildly apologetic half-smile. Donnie gave a small nod of agreement before the two headed off to catch up with Raph.
The three had stayed out for a few hours before they finally made their way back to the lair. Stuffed full of pizza-flavored dumplings, they shuffled sluggishly into the living room.
"Man, that was good! So nice ta actually enjoy my whole meal for once!" Raphael announced rather loudly, clearly trying to make a point. Leonardo rolled his eyes.
"Don't be an ass, Raph..."
"Hey, Mikey! We brought ya home some food!" Donatello announced, striding over towards the couch where they'd left their youngest brother. He leaned over the back of the couch, intending to wave the paper bag containing his dinner over the younger turtle's head, when...
He was gone. That was strange... As tired as Michelangelo was, Donnie didn't think he'd be up for another few hours. His confusion hadn't gone unnoticed. Leo came over to see what was the matter.
"Where'd he get off to? I figured he'd still be asleep." the eldest brother commented, barely noticing Raphael pass behind him. Donnie gave a shrug of his shoulders.
"He ain't in his room." Raph called out from across the Lair, poking his head out of Mikey's bedroom. Donnie furrowed his brow, stroking his chin thoughtfully. Then, a feeling crept up in the back of his mind. It was that same feeling he got when a certain someone was messing with something he wasn't supposed to.
Donatello immediately marched off towards his lab. Oh, if that little twerp was messing with his experiments again... He stepped through the threshold, and instantly spotted the green, lightly freckled back of a short mutant turtle's head. Donnie didn't spare a moment to see what he was up to.
"Mikey! What are you doing in here?! How many times have I told you not to play in my lab?!" he barked out, storming up to his little brother. Mikey and science just didn't mix. It was a disaster in the making. Just look at Ice Cream Kitty.
Mikey, somewhat unsure, it seemed, that he was the one being addressed, turned to face his older brother. Donnie stopped dead in his tracks. He'd been so ready to jump down Mikey's throat about touching his things that he hadn't noticed how strangely the younger turtle was dressed. That he was dressed at all was strange enough, but the fine, neat suit he wore wasn't something Donnie would have figured someone like Michelangelo even knew how to put on properly. Yet there he was, not a wrinkle in his trousers, not a scuff on his shoes, an orange cravat tucked neatly under the collar of a tan silk vest, a brown coat hanging down to his knees and, stranger still, a pair of circular spectacles where his mask ought to have been. A pair of very familiar baby-blue eyes blinked back at Donatello in mild confusion.
"Beg pardon? Your lab?" he repeated, his voice laced with a rather charming British accent. Donnie could do nothing but stare, eyes wide and mouth hanging agape in astonishment as Michelangelo proceeded to let out a hearty chuckle. He stepped forward, reaching up to pat the stunned turtle on the cheek as one would do when patronizing a child.
"Oh, how precious! Really! You, with a laboratory!" Mikey stated, as though the very concept was an audacious joke. Donatello shook his head, trying to shake himself out of his daze.
"Uhhh… Mikey..? Are you alright? What the hell are you wearing?" he asked as the shorter turtle made his way back over to the main worktable.
"Quite alright, dear brother! Though I could use a spot of tea. Earl grey, one sugar, and don't forget the milk." Mikey replied casually, never looking up from the small leather-bound book he was flipping through. Donnie opened his mouth to reply before closing it again, seemingly unsure of how to reply. Then he simply held up the paper bag he'd been carrying.
"We… brought you pizza gyoza..?" he offered hesitantly, unsure of anything at the moment. Mikey glanced back at him, that look of confusion on his face once more.
"The devil are 'pizza gyoza'?"
"Guys! Mikey's acting weird!" Donnie shouted as he sprinted back out into the living room. The other two, having heard him shouting at Mikey for being in his lab, had taken to watching TV. Raphael, currently sinking into his beanbag chair and flipping lazily through channels, merely rolled his eyes.
"And that's different from usual how?"
"No, I mean weird for Mikey! He's dressed in these strange old clothes, he's talking with a British accent, and he asked me for tea!" Well, he didn't really ask, more so just told him to do it, but that was neither here nor there. Still, it was enough to make Leo tear his eyes away from the screen.
"But he hates tea…"
"He's just messin' with ya. Prolly pissed we went out to eat without him." Raph assured, still more concerned with the television than the situation at hand. Donnie stared at him for a moment before holding up the untouched bag of leftovers.
"He doesn't want his pizza gyoza!"
That single statement seemed to stop the rotation of the very planet in shock. Leonardo sat frozen, his mouth hanging open in disbelief. The remote had fallen out of Raphael's hand and clattered to the ground. Then, after a long moment frozen in time, the two leaped abruptly from their seats and sprinted into Donnie's lab.
They stood in the doorway for what seemed like hours, merely staring at the strange turtle standing before them. He couldn't be Michelangelo. He simply couldn't! Mikey would never dream of turning down pizza anything, let alone pizza gyoza! Michelangelo, on the other hand, looked quite bored, and not at all happy with being made a spectacle of. He took a cloth from the breast pocket of his vest and proceeded to clean his glasses as he spoke.
"I've been meaning to ask… Why are the lot of you nude? Really, to think my own brothers would be seen in such an unbecoming state… You'll damage my reputation, behaving like such uncultured swine."
That, for whatever reason, seemed to strike a nerve with Raphael, not that that was at all difficult to do. The red-masked turtle charged forward with a growl, taking hold of Michelangelo's collar and lifting him up off his feet threateningly.
"What'd you call me, ya poncy bastard?!" he snarled out. Much to his surprise, he didn't get much in the way of a reaction from his younger brother. Mikey merely arched a brow, staring somewhat boredly down at his hot-tempered sibling.
"I'll ask you to kindly release my coat. I do so detest physical contact." he asked rather calmly. The lack of a reaction served only to anger Raph further.
"No! Yer gonna tell me what the hell yer up to right now or I'm gonna give ya the biggest shell wedgie ya've ever had!" he demanded, balling up his fist at his side. That finally got him a reaction, but not one he'd been expecting. Mikey's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, his bored stare turning icy cold in an instant.
"I'll only ask once more… Remove your hand or I shall remove it for you… At the wrist."
Raphael felt a chill go up the back of his shell. Mikey had never looked at him that way. Hell, Mikey had never looked at anyone that way before. For just a split second, it felt like he was staring into the eyes of Shredder himself. Coming from his little brother, it terrified him more than anything.
Raph lowered Mikey back down to the ground and backed away a few steps, still a bit in shock. Donatello watched the odd exchange with interest, stroking his chin in thought.
"Guys, call me crazy, but… I'm starting to think this isn't our Michelangelo."
The four took a well-needed moment to stop and try to figure out what was going on, eventually settling out in the living room. Michelangelo sat on the couch, one leg hooked neatly over the other as he sipped at his tea.
"As absurd as it is to say, what Donatello surmised earlier is correct. I may look familiar, but I'm afraid I am not the Michelangelo you know. I come from a different reality, an alternate dimension if you prefer. And from the looks of things thus far, one quite different from your own…"
"Yeah, that's for sure…" Raphael mumbled under his breath, visibly keeping his distance from this strange alternate version of his brother.
"But how did you end up here? And where's our brother?" Leonardo asked. Michelangelo set down his cup of tea and picked up the leather-bound book he'd been flipping through earlier, opening it by pure memory to the page he wanted.
"An experiment of mine gone afoul, I must admit. I fancy myself quite the inventor, you see, and my most recent project mingles with the realm of inter-dimensional travel. We experienced an unexpected surge in power during my latest test, and thus I was transported here. As for the Michelangelo of this world, well… They say the universe has its ways of dealing with such temporal paradoxes."
Both Leo and Raph could only stare cluelessly at the explanation, clearly not understanding a word of what he'd just said. Donatello, however, had no such troubles.
"I see… When you transferred to this dimension via your machine, it created a paradox by there being two of the same person in one dimension. To prevent the possibility of them meeting each other, the universe had to get rid of our Mikey before it could let this one cross over to our world."
"Get rid of him? What does that mean? Where is he?" Leo asked as he rose up to his feet, clearly expecting the worst.
"Okay, are we seriously just going to ignore the fact that it was Mikey who just said all that sciencey mumbo-jumbo?!" Raph shouted, though the others seemed to be doing their best to ignore him for now. Donnie considered Leo's question for a moment before providing his theory.
"Logically, one would assume… he's wherever this Mikey belongs."