A/N: This came out of a really odd dream/conversation I had with my hubby (the convo was about crossovers, and the dream came out of that) and as usual, it spawned a plot-bunny that I just HAD to use! So here I am, tossing poor Sam Beckett into the body of one Donatello Hamato, in the STRANGEST leap through time he's EVER made!!
A Matter of Time
Sam Beckett arrived from his latest “leap” on his back. Not the first time that had happened, and probably not the last, either. He was in a bed, from the feel of the lumpy mattress beneath him, and the worn, scratchy blanket he was bundled in. It was dark- the only light he could see came from a small night-light on a wall behind his bed’s cool metal head-rail. In the dim glow, he could just make out a couple of posters on the wall. A photo image of Einstein with some quote underneath, and what appeared to be a chart of the Elemental Periodic Table. There were two model planes and one of a space shuttle dangling from the ceiling, and a bookcase with three rows of neatly shelved books, all of them thick and heavy-looking. A table against the adjacent wall from the bed had what looked like an ancient radio partially dissected, its innards scattered about and some tools sitting next to it. Whomever the room had belonged to, they were a science buff, and apparently liked to repair things. He glanced around and spotted a digital alarm clock. It read 5:26 AM. He yawned, wondering where he was, and whose body he’d jumped into this time.
A second small bed against the opposite wall was occupied; a large bulky shape took up most of the space in it, completely buried under the blankets on it. A large stuffed bear also sat next to the wall on the second bed, and a skateboard was propped against the rickety wooden headboard. Posters of comic book heroes adorned the wall on that side of the room, along with a shelf holding a few paperback novels, and several action figures. Sam smiled to himself, realizing it must belong to someone young. Sitting up, he glanced around the room once more, and noticed a conspicuous lack of any kind of mirror, or windows, either, for that matter. The shape of the room was odd, too. It was on a raised platform of some sort, with a lower area below a three-foot drop, that opened up into a large empty space with several brick and concrete pillars at the edge of the platform, and what appeared to be- railroad tracks?- on the floor of the lower area. The “room” he was in was little more than an alcove with an open doorway.
He heard loud snoring coming from another room somewhere to his left, and soft mumbling from the other bed next to his. The bed creaked as he rose, and stepped cautiously out onto the main platform area. A subway car that looked like it hadn’t run in decades sat further down the lower portion of the open area, with a single door open at one end. It looked like it had been turned into a comfortable living space, if somewhat small. The rest of the area around him was also very dimly lit, but he was definitely in an abandoned subway station. The ceiling was high and vaulted, with what appeared to be stained glass mosaics, and tiles on the platform walls. An area far to the left had a set of steps leading up, presumably to the entrance of the station.
“Where the heck am I?” He muttered to himself, though a better question might be WHOM. Then he happened to look down, suddenly aware that he felt drafty. And then he saw why. Not only was his body completely naked, but it was- He froze in shock, staring down at a pair of large, three-fingered hands. From the dim glow of the night-light coming from the room he’d just left, and a second one at the far end of the old subway platform, he was pretty sure his skin was green. And what the HECK was that thing on his chest and stomach? He tapped the hard, flat plates that appeared fused to his skin. It sounded slightly hollow, like thumping on a melon.
Sam rushed over to where the other light was, and looked around frantically for something to check his reflection. He finally found a toaster with chrome sides on a table in what looked like a make-shift kitchen and dining area. Holding it up near the light, he looked at the face belonging to his “host” body. His jaw dropped in shock and horror. Staring back at him was- something that most definitely was NOT human.
“GAAHH!! I- I’m a- a freak!!” He yelped loudly, for the moment forgetting that he wasn’t alone down here. He dropped the toaster with a loud clatter and fell backwards, his rear hitting the floor painfully. Something just above and against his buttocks felt crushed, and he yelped again as he felt underneath him to find some kind of short, stubby- and sensitive- appendage there. “What the-?! I have a- a TAIL?!”
The noise apparently woke up the station’s other occupants, and he heard several pairs of feet come stumbling out from the alcoves behind him, all shouting in confusion and fear. “What’s going on?!” “Is it the Foot? Did they find us again?!” “Donnie, what’re ya’ yellin’ about?”
Sam turned toward the voices, and his eyes bulged out in utter astonishment. He saw three more of- whatever he was- all looking nervous and frantic, with weapons in their strange-looking hands. They were completely naked, just as he was, and all sported the same strange bony plates on their fronts. And apparently, they had some kind of hard, curved, bony plates on their backs, as well. In fact, they looked like giant-
“Turtles,” Sam muttered in amazement as it finally dawned on him. “Giant, talking turtles. I’m a turtle? Oh boy….” It was all just too much. He passed out.
Above the unconscious turtle, the others looked down in surprise. They traded glances, before one of them bent down and gently prodded the prone form. “Donnie?” He asked uncertainly, wondering what had come over their brother.
Sam woke with a groan. He was lying on something cold and hard. It felt like he was on a floor. “Ugh, what a nightmare. What happened?” He said, mostly to himself. He opened his eyes, and nearly jumped right out of his skin at the sight that greeted him. Three round, green heads leaned over him, with a fourth- this one furry with small round ears on top and a long, pointed snout with whiskers- staring down in concern. “Yee-aah! Wha-?!” Sam yelped, scooting backward away from the three giant turtle-men kneeling down next to him. His eyes darted frantically from one to the next, trying desperately to grasp what he was seeing.
“Uh, Donnie? You okay, dude?” One of them asked, putting a hand on Sam’s shoulder. He sounded young. Sam jerked away as if he’d been snake-bitten.
“Donnie?” Sam echoed, confused. Was that his name here? Where WAS here, anyway? Some other planet? He had never jumped into an alien body before, but then he supposed there was a first time for everything.
“What is wrong, my son?” The furry one said, and Sam turned to stare up at him. He sounded much older, and his wiry brown fur was sprinkled with grey. His eyes were small and dark, almost beady. Rodent-like. In fact, Sam suddenly realized he WAS a rodent. The long bald tail poking form the bottom of his Japanese-style robe, the strange, clawed hands, the long, protruding front teeth- it hit Sam like a ton of bricks that he was staring at a huge talking rat. A rat in a kimono. Weird.
Okay, he thought, first turtles, now a rat. What’s next? He shook the thought away, trying to focus his mind and get a handle on the situation. The other turtle had called him Donnie. They spoke English, so at least he could try to get some answers. He desperately wished Al was there. Maybe then he could figure out where- and when- he was, and how he’d ended up in the body of a five-foot talking turtle. “Uh, I- I think I’m having a breakdown. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’m a little confused. Where am I?” He asked, hoping he could at least get his bearings.
“Where else? You’re in the lair, bro,” The turtle who had answered had an accent that sounded distinctly as though he was from Brooklyn. Which was ridiculous. “Ya’ want to tell us why ya’ were yellin’ like the Foot were about to attack?”
That one confused Beckett. “Lair? Foot?” He replied, shaking his head. He rose to his feet, and saw that the other three still held the weapons they’d had when they had dashed out onto the main platform. The one who had spoken first held two pairs of nunchucks, the one with the Brooklyn accent had a pair of some sort of long three-pronged daggers or something, and the last one- Sam’s eyes bulged at the sight of a pair of matched katanas. Why would they need weapons?
“The Foot Clan- Donnie, are you okay? You didn’t bump your head or something, did you? This is our HOME. You know, under Midtown Manhattan?” The third turtle said, cocking his head slightly. His voice was young, like the first, but calm and soothing. “You don’t seem like yourself.”
“N-no, I’m really not,” Sam replied nervously. That was an understatement. “I don’t feel so great.”
“Hmm, perhaps you should lie down and rest, my son. Leonardo, please help your brother back to his room. Michelangelo- go get him a glass of water and a cold washcloth.” The rat seemed to be in charge, as the other two were quick to do as he ordered. But what was with him calling them his sons? Were they a family of some kind? The rat had also called this Donnie their brother. And the turtle with the Brooklyn accent had called him “bro”. If they were in New York, at least the accent made sense now. The way he and the first one had talked, Sam was guessing it was the late 80’s, maybe. If that was true, then the skateboard made sense, too. Though he’d never heard of a skateboarding turtle. How old were these creatures, anyway?
“Hai, Sensei!” Two turtles said in unison, each rushing to do as bid. The one with the katanas slid them into sheaths that hung from a belt and scabbards that hung loosely over one shoulder, as if he’d been in the process of donning them when he came out of his room. The one with the nunchucks draped them over a mannequin with targets painted on it and ran off into the kitchen area. Sam glanced at the mannequin, which appeared battered and had several holes in it in very strategic places. A practice dummy? He shelved the questions that brought up for later.
The one the rat had called Leonardo draped an arm over “Donnie’s” shoulders, and gently steered him back toward the room he’d come from. “Don, I think you’ve been working too hard, maybe you should take a break from trying to repair the Scepter of Time. Besides, it’s not like we’re ever going to use it again.” He said, shrugging.
“Excuse me- Scepter of Time?” Sam asked, pausing before they reached the alcove. This sounded like it might be something important.
“Uh, yeah, you know- the ‘egg-timer’ that accidentally sent April back to feudal Japan, and sent Kenshin here in her place? You DO remember, don’t you?” The other turtle pulled away, looking at him intently. “You’ve only been tinkering with that thing for DAYS to try to fix it, though for the life of me, I can imagine why. We’re better off if it can never be used again, if you ask me. I’m still not convinced Mikey wouldn’t try to use it again to go back there and stay. He was so upset about leaving after the way we were treated there. I think he misses Mitsu, too.”
Sam took that in, trying to digest what he was hearing. So far, all had learned were the names of his host and two of the others- Leonardo and Michelangelo- and that these turtle-men lived like some sort of family with the rat. And that they had somehow come to possess some sort of time machine. If he was understanding this Leonardo correctly, this Scepter thing might be some sort of primitive Quantum Accelerator. Maybe it was his ticket home? It had switched two people in time, from the sound of it- but how could they travel beyond their own life-spans? Was there some variable missing from his calculations, that might allow for travel further back than his own birth?
“Refresh my memory. Pretend I don’t know what you’re talking about, and tell me exactly what happened,” He said, motioning the other turtle to join him in the room. Leonardo cocked one brow-ridge and followed him in, and they sat down on the two beds.
“Well, April bought it at the flea market, and when she pulled it out of the bag, it started glowing, sparks and lightning shot out everywhere, and that little thing in the middle started spinning. Next thing we knew, she was gone, and Kenshin was standing there wearing her clothes. You studied it and told us it worked on equal mass displacement, and we all activated it to go back in time and get her back. Then Raph and Mikey almost decided to stay behind when it was time to leave, because they felt accepted there after the villagers started treating us like heroes when we saved Yoshi from that fire. You really DON’T remember, DO you?” He was staring at Sam suspiciously now, and Sam realized he might have potentially blown his “cover”. His task for each leap was nearly always contingent on the people around him remaining unaware of his involvement.
“I- everything is a blur right now. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I HAVE been working too hard. I don’t even know what day it is!” He hoped that would give him a better idea of when he had jumped to, without being too obvious.
“It’s Monday. Don’t you remember? April came down yesterday to see us and bring some supplies we can’t get ourselves. And Casey and Raph went out Saturday night to patrol for scum-bags to knock around. Does any of that ring a bell? Are you SURE you’re okay?” Leonardo seemed worried; he leaned closer, his calm yet intent gaze boring into Sam. Sam suddenly realized that he wasn’t sweating, though it felt like he should be. That was strange.
“No, that’s not what I meant. I was talking about the date. What is today’s date? I honestly can’t remember, and it’s really bothering me.” He wanted to add that he had no idea who April and Casey were, but that would be too suspicious. Leonardo had mentioned Raph twice now. Was he the third turtle? He desperately wanted to ask Leonardo what they were and where they came from, but bit his tongue.
“Oh. It’s August sixteenth, 1993. Does that help?” Leonardo shrugged, leaning back, though he was still staring far too intently for Sam’s comfort. 1993. It was only about five years before he would go into the Accelerator. And he was in New York. In the body of a turtle. Who apparently was part of some sort of freakish family of similar monsters. No, that wasn’t quite right, these- whatever they were- didn’t seem like monsters at all. More like normal, fully intelligent people in strange bodies, living underground in a hidden “lair”. And they were worried about being found and attacked by something called the Foot Clan.
“I- think so. How long ago did we go back in time?” He asked, frowning. He felt a headache coming on, and rubbed the spot between his eyes, just above his- what exactly would one call it? His snout? Beak? He studied the face and body of his “brother”, noting the details of small spots on his head, shoulders, and legs, the color of his eyes, and the muscular, powerful build of his arms and legs. These guys were certainly not slow or weak, that much was certain. They were built more like professional athletes. Or fighters. Maybe that would explain the weapons. And the mention of this Foot Clan, or one of them going out with someone named Casey to beat up thugs. Vigilantes?
“About a month ago, now. Why? Is it important? Do you think there were side-effects?” Leonardo queried curiously.
“Maybe. I’m not sure yet.” Sam sat back, chewing his lower lip thoughtfully. Okay, things were starting to come together now. Sort of. He still had no idea what he was doing in the body of a humanoid turtle. But what the heck, he might as well run with it, since he didn’t seem to be leaping out of here any time soon. Which reminded him that he had no idea why he was here. Obviously, it had something to do with this Time Scepter thing. Was he supposed to fix it? Or maybe prevent Donnie from doing so? He wished he knew. Now, where the heck was Al?
Almost as if on cue, a glowing hole opened in thin air, and out stepped his friend and aide, Rear Admiral Al Calavicci, cigar in hand as always. He took one look at the two giant turtles, and his cigar fell to the floor. “Wow. When that Donatello guy said he was a mutant turtle, I thought he was joking. Sam? You, uh, okay, buddy?” He stooped to pick up the cigar, shaking his head in disbelief.
Sam almost sighed in relief, but a moment later, the one named Leonardo shot straight up off the bed, his eyes glued to where Al stood. “What the-?! Who the heck are YOU?!” He drew one of the swords and pointed it at Al. Sam’s eyes nearly fell out of the sockets in surprise.
“You can SEE him?” He asked uncertainly. His jaw dropped. Very few could see Al- usually animals, very young children, and people with mental disorders or handicaps. What did that mean?
“Yeah, I see him; wait, do you KNOW this guy, Donnie?” Leonardo turned back to him, his eyes narrowing suspiciously again. “No, on second thought, don’t answer that. Maybe I should be asking who YOU are, instead. I know my brother, and you’re acting like- like someone else.” He drew the other katana now, and pointed it at Sam. “Okay, DONATELLO- you want to start explaining what’s going on with you, and who this guy is? I‘m REAL curious.”
At that moment, the turtle the rat had called Michelangelo turned the corner into the alcove-room, a cup in one hand, a damp cloth in the other. He stopped in mid-stride, his eyes going wide and his mouth hanging open. “Whoa! Who’s the dude in the cheap suit?” He asked the room in general, staring directly at Al. Sam’s gaze shot from Leonardo to Al, and then to the second turtle-man, stunned by the fact that they could actually see the holographic image of his friend.
“This suit was NOT cheap, thank you! Hey, Sam- they can see me!” Al’s expression was a mix of surprise and indignation over the minor insult, though apparently the surprise had finally won out. He stared back at the second turtle, eyeing him warily, as the turtle-man cautiously stepped closer.
“Uh, Donnie? Why'd he just call you Sam? How’d you GET here, dude?” This Michelangelo had an odd way of talking that reminded Sam of surfers on the West coast. He and Al were circling each other slowly, carefully sizing each other up, while Leonardo moved in on Sam and Al, both blades drawn.
“Because he’s NOT Donnie. I don’t know who this is, but he’s not our brother. Just who ARE you, and where is Donatello?” The sword-wielding turtle’s voice had gone almost deadly calm and soft, which sent alarm bells going of in Sam’s head. He recognized that as the tone often used by men used to violence and danger. It was cool and commanding, with a threatening edge. Michelangelo’s head shot up to meet the other’s gaze for a moment, before he, too, suddenly turned hostile.
“Not Donnie? So he’s an imposter? NOT cool. Okay, dude, you better have a good reason for droppin’ in on us, or Leo here’s gonna’ make you guys a LOT shorter!” Michelangelo said, setting down the glass and cloth and slipping into what Sam recognized as a fighting stance used by martial artists. This was getting out of hand. They weren’t even supposed to be aware of the switch, yet here they were, not only fully cognizant that he was an imposter, but they could see Al, too!
“Just- just calm down, guys. I can explain. This is all just a really BIG misunderstanding!” Sam said, holding his hands up in a placating gesture.
“Okay, so start explaining. And Donnie had better be safe, or you’re in BIG trouble, pal.” Leonardo’s words were curt and direct. Sam gulped. This had just turned into the most complicated leap he’d ever made!
“Oh boy,” he muttered, glancing over at Al, who simply shrugged and shook his head in complete bafflement. Sam slowly sank back against the wall, rubbing the spot between his eyes again. His blossoming headache had just become a dozen times worse….
Just totally redid chapter two, since it had some issues in the post, and I had finally completed it. So here we go!
Chapter 2: Donatello’s Bad Day
Donatello opened his eyes as the wave of dizziness subsided, leaving him staggering on his feet. Feet? He’d been in his bed asleep until SOMETHING had awakened him just moments earlier. He looked down, frowning at a fully clothed body that was utterly unfamiliar. Pink-skinned, five-fingered hands that weren’t his own, white body suit that looked like something from a laboratory clean room- what was going on here?! To top it off, the room he was in was white and mostly empty. No windows, no smells, nothing. Just a chair and small table, a bench-like extension on one wall that might have served as a bunk, a mirror on the wall near the bunk, and that was it. Like a prison cell, or perhaps a quarantine room. And he was alone. Donnie didn’t know which worried him more, that his brothers were missing- or was HE the one missing?- or the emptiness of the place, or the fact that he had no memory of how he’d arrived there.
A glass of water was on the table, the only other object in the room. He ignored it for the moment, and wobbled over to the mirror. The reflection that stared back was human. HUMAN?! Donatello rubbed his eyes, wondering if he was dreaming, or just seeing things. Nope, still there. He reached out to touch the mirror, as if to reassure himself that it was real. “Son of a snapper! What happened?” That was the question, though, wasn’t it? He was staring back at the face of a man in his mid-forties, perhaps, square-jawed, with short but unruly light brown hair, a hint of five-o-clock shadow, and intelligent eyes. He stuck out his tongue, just to be sure, and shook his head when he realized the absurdity of the action. Somehow, he’d been transported into the body of some human. But how? And WHY?
“Get it together, Donatello,” he muttered, scratching his head. “There’s got to be an explanation for this- maybe.” He tried to remember the last thing he’d done, but that was no help. His last memory was of falling into his own bed, exhausted from yet another day spent in a fruitless attempt to repair the Time Scepter. Not that he really had reason to use it, but there was always that chance…. Besides, if what Mitsu had told them of the legend was true, there might YET be some need for it.
The door opened while he was lost in thought staring blankly at his reflection, and he whirled instantly to face whatever threat might be approaching. He was surprised to se a man who looked about late fifties, in a suit that to his mind was rather tacky, holding a cigar in one hand, and some sort of device in the other. He was talking to someone, though Donnie couldn’t see whom.
“No, Gushie, I DON’T know who Sam leaped into this time, we still can’t find him! Have Ziggy keep looking!” The man pushed a button on the object in his hand, and sighed, shaking his head as he turned to regard Donnie. “Sorry about that, friend, but we’re having some technical difficulties. You’re probably wondering where you are, and why you’re not- you.” The man took a puff on the cigar, and Donnie just nodded silently, wrinkling his nose at the smell, confused as to why the man appeared to know exactly what he was thinking.
“The thought HAD crossed my mind, yes,” Donnie said finally, as he moved toward the chair. “Mind telling me what’s going on? What is this place, who are you, and why do I look like- this?” He waved his hand down at his body, before sitting down cautiously. The man didn’t seem threatening, just slightly annoying, but that didn’t mean he was going to trust him.
“My name is Al, and that’s really all you need to know about me right now. I’m sorry, but we can’t risk you knowing too much, or it could REALLY screw up the timeline later. All you need to know is that you’re in what we call our “waiting room”, in the physical shape of my friend Dr. Beckett. I guess you could say that you’ve just become part of an experiment in time-travel that sort of went screwy. Trust me, we didn’t exactly plan this, but while you’re HERE, Sam is- stuck somewhere in the past looking like YOU, so it’s no picnic for us, either. Every time he leaps, we have to track him down again, and HOPE that whatever he’s supposed to fix in the past will allow him to leap back here again. It’s complicated.” The man was long-winded, that was certain. Donnie frowned as he took it all in, until the man got to the part about his “friend” being in Donnie’s place.
“Son of a snapper! Are you saying that I’ve switched physical appearances with a human being?! Oh, no- no, this is NOT good….” He jumped up and began to pace, fear tightening his gut as he shook his head and bit his lip. “What will happen when he sees my brothers? We’re turtles! No one is even supposed to know we EXIST! This is bad, very BAD….”
Al gave him an odd look; it suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea who was actually taking Sam’s place at the moment. He hoped it wasn’t another nutcase like Oswald, or the serial killer he’d had to drag back after the lunatic had escaped. “I almost forgot to ask, what’s your name? It might help us figure out where Sam is in the past.” Al asked him after a moment, getting back to business. Whoever this guy was, he was more nervous than most subjects he’d had to deal with. Then again, he couldn’t even be sure it was even a HE. Could be a woman, for all he knew- there was no way to tell, when he looked and sounded just like Sam. The way he was talking was certainly odd, though. Switched with a human being? Why had he phrased it like that?
Donnie paused in his pacing. “Well, I’m, uh, that is….” There was no easy way to say it. “I’m a mutant turtle. My name is Donatello. I know this must sound crazy to you, but it’s true! I’m from New York City, and I live with my three brothers and our sensei underground in an old subway line that was shut down. We’re, uh- we’re ninjas. Mutant turtle ninjas. That- I guess it sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?”
Al stared at him, his expression skeptical. After a moment, he decided to humor the guy for now, in order to get more information out of him. “Okay, uh- Donatello, was it?- What year was it before you found yourself here? That could help us find Sam. And how did you become…whatever it is you say you are?”
“It happened a long time ago. We used to be ordinary baby pet shop turtles, until some kid accidentally dropped our bowl and we fell down into the sewers, right after he bought us. We were raised by our sensei, a mutant rat named Splinter. He was changed by the same mutagenic goop that turned us into- well, you’ll see what I mean when you find your friend. Splinter named us after Renaissance artists from a book he found. And he trained us as ninjas because he used to be the pet of a ninja Master before his owner was murdered by a rival. It’s complicated.” Donnie shrugged, shooting the man’s own words back at him.
“Uh-huh. Exactly WHEN are you from?” Al was beginning to think the guy was a complete loon. He really seemed to believe this mutant nonsense. Ninjas? Talking mutant rats and turtles? It sounded like something out of a cheesy sci-fi movie or comic book.
“The year was 1993. August sixteenth. And this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with time-travel accidents. We had one just a few months ago after our friend April bought an old Japanese artifact at a flea market that turned out to be some kind of time-travel device. It activated, and she got sent back to Japan in 1602. We had to use the Time Scepter to go back and get her, and we almost got stuck there. Is- is that what happened? The Scepter only switches two people in time, though, not appearance. I mean, we ended up wearing the armor of some samurai warriors, but we still looked like ourselves. If what you say is true, this sounds similar to what happened with the Scepter. I just hope your friend doesn’t have a heart attack when he sees my family, or we might never get back to our proper places!”
Al listened, and decided that he might as well humor the guy, as long as he was trying so hard to sell this mutant story. “Ah, okay…. Tell me more about your family. Maybe it will help us find Sam and get you back to where you belong.” This should be good, he thought.
“Well, there’s not much to tell, really. It’s the just four of us, and Master Splinter. We’ve been living in the sewers for a little over sixteen years now, hiding from people who might want to lock us away or hurt us. I’m the resident genius of the family; I was the one who figured out how that Scepter worked- it was equal mass displacement. For every person that went BACK in time, someone from that time ended up here. I’m still working on the actual time-travel part, though. Whoever made that thing was WAAY ahead of his time! It’s at least eight hundred years old, according to a legend told to us by someone from the time-period we went to. Hey- can I see the device you used? Maybe I can help figure out what went wrong and fix it!” Donatello grew excited at the thought of examining a new piece of technology. He was aware that the man before him probably didn’t believe his story, but it couldn’t be helped. April hadn’t really believed it at first either, and she had SEEN them. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he now looked like an ordinary human; that was something he had never even imagined being possible. Still, maybe it was a good chance for him to try some things he’d never done before.
“Ah, that’s probably not a good idea. We can’t take the risk of you knowing too much about the future. It could screw up the timeline. The whole point of the experiment was that Sam was supposed to be an observer, seeing through the eyes of someone from the past, and nothing more. But somehow, his brainwaves got switched with theirs, and he ended up BEING that person- except he lost his memory the first time, and didn’t even know who he was! And without knowing who he got switched with, we had no way to bring him back. But when we found him and tried to reverse it, he just jumped into another body in another time instead of coming back- and it’s been pretty much the same thing every time we’ve tried. You’re just a victim of the latest attempt. We have a theory that there’s been some interference by a, uh- higher power. Because every time Sam leaps, he has to fix something wrong in that time before he can leave. And it’s almost always something that positively affects the lives of the people he leaps into, or someone around them.” Al was getting impatient. This was a waste of time, he was sure. He didn’t even know how much of this he should even be telling this guy, not that it made any difference. What could the nut do about it, anyway?
Donnie took in the man’s explanation, and tapped one finger against his chin thoughtfully. “So, what you’re saying is that it works on brain-wave transference? Interesting theory. And his mind just keeps bouncing around in time, going from person to person, and you can’t retrieve it? And the mind of whomever he bounces into gets pulled here. Got it.” He scowled, a new thought occurring to him. “But that means that he has no idea what he’s getting into each time, which could be very traumatic if he leaps into a bad situation blind.” He sighed, realizing that his pickle was dire indeed, “Which is exactly what has happened here. Great. I REALLY hope your friend isn’t prone to heart attacks! Most of the humans we’ve met have freaked out when they saw us!” Donnie wondered what was happening back home right now. How would the guy who had taken his place react to them? And would they realize they had an imposter in their midst?
Al took another puff from his cigar, but said nothing. He turned, and began to press buttons on the data-link in his hand. The response made him scowl darkly. He whirled back to his guest, eying him suspiciously. “Ziggy says there’s no data on you. We can’t find any record of a Donatello from New York in 1993. Nothing on any mutants, either. So who are you, REALLY?!”
Donatello sighed. It was expected, after all. “Of course there isn’t! Only five people even know we exist! And they all agreed to keep our secret. I mean, if you were a giant talking mutant reptile, would YOU want the whole world knowing where you live?! We’d have every scientist and big-game hunter in the world after us! It’s bad enough that one of our only friends is a reporter! But at least she knows how to keep a secret.” An idea came to him, and he snapped his fingers, his expression lighting up. “That’s it! Tell this Ziggy or whoever to look up April O’Neil. She works for Channel Three news. And one Casey Jones- he’s a mechanic and handyman. That should at least prove when I’m from, even if you don’t believe me about the turtle part.”
Al gave the stranger a skeptical look, and turned back to the door. “We’re going to run that through our databanks, and for your sake, you’d better hope we come up with something. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping my eye on you. Until we find Sam, you’re stuck here, so don’t get any funny ideas. Capishe?” He didn’t even wait for Donatello’s reply, but opened the door and went through. Donnie watched him leave, feeling suddenly very alone. He sighed, sitting back down in the chair to wait. He looked around, but there was nothing in the room to occupy him. This was not turning out to be a good day….
Al stepped outside of the room, and was immediately assailed by their technician Gushie’s bad breath. “So, did he give you anything useful? What’s all this about mutant turtles?”
“I’m not sure yet, but the guy’s a nutcase. I think he really believes all that crap. But he did give us a place to start looking. See what Ziggy can dig up on a reporter named April O’Neil, or some guy named Casey Jones. Maybe they can shed some light on this. If that Donatello wasn’t just feeding me a load of bull. I’m going to go meet Tina for breakfast, so keep me posted.” He headed down the hallway of the Project: Quantum Leap facility toward the entrance, before he belatedly remembered something. “Oh, and send something in for our guest- he’s probably hungry.”
“Yes, sir!” Gushie said, saluting him as he walked away. Al groaned softly, and finished off his cigar. He really hoped they could find Sam soon. He had a feeling Dr. Beckett was in worse trouble than ever this time.
Donatello heard the door open after a short interval, and another man walked in, this one shorter, wearing a lab coat. He carried a tray of food, which Donnie took to mean that they had at least enough courtesy to feed him. Then again, he was borrowing the body of their colleague, so he supposed it was more self interest than concern for his welfare. He waited for the man to set down the tray, looking it over warily. He didn’t think they would try to drug or poison him, but one never knew….
“Here’s your breakfast, Mr. Donatello,” the man said cheerfully, though he gave Donnie an odd look. He must not have believed his story, either, Donnie surmised. “You’ll be pleased to hear that we did find the O’Neil woman, and that Jones fellow, too. So at least we’ve narrowed down the WHEN of where Dr. Beckett is. But as to your own identity, we still can’t find any data! Why don’t you just tell us the truth? This ridiculous tale of yours isn’t going to help you get back to your own time any faster- or is that what you want? Are you hiding from someone? Perhaps you’re a fugitive?”
Don sighed again. “No sir, it really IS the truth! Look, the reason you can’t find anything on us is because legally speaking, we never existed. There are no records of me or my family, and we have done our best to keep it that way. Can you imagine what would happen to us if humans were aware of us? I don’t want to spend my life being poked, prodded, and studied like some lab specimen, thank you! Or worse. The art of invisibility is what we live by- and for good reason!” He frowned. Technically speaking, they hadn’t always done a good job of that. Like that incident in the dance club. That had been a huge mistake, exposing themselves so publicly. Thankfully, the humans had thought it was all an act, with costumed performers and special effects, and nothing more. The only evidence to the contrary was the damage to the pier and construction site, and Professor Perry’s immediate disappearance afterward.
That gave Donnie an idea. “If you really need more data, check for records of a company called TGRI. They created the ooze that caused our mutation. One of the canisters fell off the truck on the way to disposal about sixteen years ago- my time, not yours- and it fell into the sewer and broke. We landed in it not long after, and there you have it. And when they unburied them last year- our time again- we got involved because one of the canisters was stolen, and someone used it to create more mutants like us- specifically, a giant wolf and snapping turtle. They caused some major damage to a residential street, and then there was an incident the next night at a construction site and a dance club down by the docks. There was a story in the papers about it. We- kind of messed up and let ourselves be seen in the club. But everyone thought we were just performers in costumes.” He shrugged, giving the man a wry smile. “I’m sorry, but that’s all there is. Unless you want to go back into the Channel Three files and dig up some news reports on a rash of thefts by a group called the Foot Clan. They were the ones who stole that last canister of from TGRI, and they were responsible for the crime wave earlier that year. Most of them ended up in jail, thanks to us.”
Gushie frowned, but nodded sagely. “I see. Fascinating. I assure you, we will verify this, so if you’re hiding or fabricating anything, we will find out. Well, no matter. Admiral Calavicci ordered me to bring you breakfast, even though it’s a bit early for it yet. Eat up! Mustn’t let Sam jump back to a malnourished body, eh?” He laughed, and Donnie wrinkled his nose at the man’s halitosis. He grimaced at the thought that they clearly had more concern for the other guy than for him.
“Yeah, thanks. What time is it, anyway?” He hadn’t even thought to ask earlier, and there was nothing in the room to indicate time at all.
“It’s about 4:45 in the morning. Which reminds me, I am in desperate need of some coffee!” The man spun on his heels and scuttled off, and was out the door before Donnie could utter another word. Donatello groaned, before pulling the tray in front of him to eat. They had given him a plate of scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage links, and a small box of apple juice. He shook his head in frustration. They could have at least brought some coffee….
He had long since finished his bland breakfast, and was sitting in the chair staring up at the ceiling counting tiles out of boredom when the man named Al came in an hour later by his estimate, looking at him like he’d grown another head. He must have finished his cigar at some point, because this time he had a tumbler of what looked like whiskey or scotch on ice in its place. Donnie frowned, thinking that it was far too early in the day to be drinking something that potent. Al’s hands were shaking slightly, and he held a bottle in his other hand that he recognized as a well-known brand of bourbon.
“Little early for that, don’t you think?” Donnie asked.
“After what I just saw, not a chance. At first, I thought you were trying to pull one over on us, like some kind of prank in poor taste. Or that you were some nutcase in a mental hospital somewhere. But I just met four giant talking turtles and a rat bigger than a Rottweiller! And they SAW me!” Al was still trying to grasp what had just happened back in the past. Not only had Sam been stuck looking like some kind of creature from a monster movie, but then the others had seen and heard him!
“Well, I should hope so. They’re not blind.” Donnie said, rolling his eyes at the man’s mild hysterics. Then again, he supposed it was only natural to have such a response to the reality of what he and his brothers were. He just wished he could have been there to see their reactions to Al. Of course, if he HAD been there, none of this would be happening.
“No, you don’t understand. I can appear to Sam in the past as a holographic projection, but usually, he’s the only one who can see or hear me, because the accelerator is attuned to his brainwave signature. To anyone else, I’m invisible and inaudible- I’m not really there, so physical objects pass right through my image. Except that they saw me. That’s not supposed to happen!”
Donatello thought that over. “And that’s bad, I assume? Since it was supposed to be strictly an observation of the past, without interacting with it. What happened? What did they do?” He desperately wished he wasn’t stuck here in this empty room with no way to know what was happening back home. “Is there some way to tell them I’m okay? At the very least, could you bring something in here for me to read or something? Heck, I’d even settle for a crossword book! I’m going out of my mind in here with nothing to do!”
“I could maybe give them a message for you. In fact, they want me to prove you’re still in one piece, so that’s a good idea. And why didn’t you tell me those guys were so jumpy? If I hadn’t been a hologram, that Leonardo guy would have taken my head off!” Al waved his arms dramatically, still a little unnerved by the way those strange turtle-men had reacted to him. He poured another shot into his glass and downed it.
“At least it wasn’t Raph. Be careful around him; he’s kind of temperamental. Umm, anyway, just tell them that I’m safe, but I am bored to tears without anything to tinker on. Better yet, tell them I forgot to set the VCR to record that movie Mikey wanted to watch. That way they’ll know it’s me. You really should slow down with that stuff. It’ll rot your liver.” Don was starting to get used to the man’s habits, but that didn’t make this any easier. He figured this Al was the type to chase women and abuse his organs with God only knew what kind of carcinogens. He also had cheap taste in suits.
“NOW he tells me,” Al muttered to himself, making an exasperated face. “What are you, my doctor? I get enough of that from him, I don’t need health advice from a talking turtle! And thanks for warning me about that one- but you’re a little late. Is your whole family nuts, or what?”
Donnie shook his head, rolling his eyes at the man’s reaction. “No, but Raph has anger management problems. The rest of us are usually pretty mellow- unless somebody messes with our family. Mostly, we just want to be left in peace. And technically, I’m not a even turtle at the moment. This is really weird, by the way. You know how many times we’ve wished we could be ‘normal’? Or what it’s like to have to hide from the entire world? Maybe Mikey was right- maybe we SHOULD have stayed back in 1602. At least THERE we were accepted and appreciated.”
Al scowled over at the individual currently occupying Sam’s body. He honestly hadn’t considered how this experience might affect the mutant, but it seemed he was waxing philosophical. Al paced back and forth while his “guest” fidgeted nervously with the fork from his breakfast tray. He got the impression this guy wasn’t used to being idle. Then he remembered Donatello’s comment about wanting something to occupy himself. Maybe he could at least solve that problem.
“I guess it must feel strange for you, suddenly looking like an average Joe. If you’d like, I can arrange for you to go outside for a bit. You’d have to have an escort, but what the Hell, it’s not like you can just take off with Sam‘s body, right? Unless you want to leave him stranded back in 1993 looking like a giant turtle. I’ll go talk to Gushie and see what I can arrange. Hopefully, by now Ziggy will have figured out what he‘s there for, and how to get him out of there and get YOU back where you belong. Be right back!” And with that, he left the room once again. Don sighed; he was getting tired of being left alone.
Donatello thought that over for a moment. A short excursion outdoors might not be a bad idea. At the very least, he could look at something besides this boring room. Still, he resented the restrictions being placed on him. This was the third time someone had nearly accused him of wanting to remain here rather than return to his own time and place. It was insulting to think they would treat him more like a prisoner than an accidental guest. Then again, he supposed they had no REAL reason to trust him. Make off with the other guy’s body? It was almost tempting….