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The Donatello Complex

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The kid comes falling out of the sky, not really to Don’s surprise; things do usually have a habit of getting weird on his nights off, when all he wants to do is look for parts.

He’s just really glad it’s not the Foot.

Still, a kid that looks everything and nothing like him all at once is a tad bit alarming. Don just looks at him, and the taller, lankier- and made entirely from metal- him stares back owlish and mouth open.

“Holy chalupa I really did it,” the kid whispers, probably more to himself than anything, and literally proceeds to dance, “I thought I was the only one!”


Universe: 2003

For a long time, Don was sure it was just him and his brothers. The only mutant turtles. It was a weird thing to come to terms with- an endangered species, destined to go extinct someday, and be all but forgotten about in the many, many years to come. He probably reads to much Aristotle with Leo between chess matches, but, hey, thinking about your existence could be fun sometimes.

It sure as hell beat getting his ass handed to him uptop, or having to multitask his brain into diffusing a bomb and trying not to get said ass handed to him.

Still, it leaves a strange loneliness for Don, and makes him feel even less connected to life itself, and facing certain death so many times doesn’t exactly help.

But nothing could change it; they were the only ones. The only Leo, Mikey, Raph and Don.

And being singularly them, they beat the Shredder six billion times, got blown up by the Shredder, had major PTSD presented in various different ways, got their friend’s shop burnt down, almost lost Leo (god how many times?), lived in a pretty sweet spot Upstate; alone, Don got himself infected (couldn’t enjoy a pretty awesome trip to prehistoric times), double-mutated, un-mutated, got sent to a future, saw his brothers die, got sent to another future and saw Master Splinter disintegrate.

All and all, Don was convinced their experiences were uniquely theirs, and if there ever was some alternate version of him floating in the unknown multiverse-? Well Don hopes his life is a hell of a lot less traumatic.


Universe: 2012

Leo gets tossed through a window and all of Dee’s world crumbles in the same moment the glass shatters, all of his consciousness of the fight outside April’s apartment dying away as his vision zeroes in on his brother, whose labored breaths seem louder than the explosions overhead.

His brain shoots out responses rapid fire and Donnie just goes along with it, feeling entirely out of his own body, like he’s watching himself stop Leo from bleeding out, and hearing himself bark at Mikey to fucking do something.

He shouldn’t yell at him like that, some rational part of Dee’s brain that’s still here admonishes.

Mikey’s afraid, and so is he.

He shouldn’t yell.

“Mikey, for fuck’s sake move!”

He does it anyway, brain and body and voice on autopilot, and still that rational part untouched by fear and adrenaline, tells Dee he’ll apologize later, as he hefts Leo’s weight up and runs.

See they can’t lose him, they can’t lose Leo (his brain still buzzes, still smells blood and hears Splinter’s scream as he died). Because it’s only them- that’s all they got.

They’ve been through everything together and no matter how fractured their relationships get, his brothers are all Donnie has. And he can’t do this without Leo.

A long drive and three month later and Leo’s alive. Splinter isn’t. He still has his brothers. More invasions come, more threats, more tears in their family as pressure rises to crush them.

They go to space together, fight aliens and cross planets to save theirs. Donnie freezes over, gets infected and loses his self esteem a little more. But, hey, he gets a cool ass technology advanced bo. He loses interest in romance the further along in war he and his brothers get (thank god, because it helps avoid one kind of pain at least) and he still can’t cure Timothy or Karai.

They time travel, sees Splinter’s wife burn up in a fire.

That takes a backseat, Shredder comes back, mob wars occur and before or after or somewhere amongst that they wind up in feudal Japan.

Splinter gets killed and tossed off the roof like he’s nothing, and Donnie barely has emotion left to process that.

They don’t kill Shredder. Leo does. They don’t get to see Splinter ever again. Leo does.

They’re not really all that together, a bomb drops and Donnie loses his body. He loses his brothers anyway, after years and years and so many exhausting, awful years of triumphantly keeping them as close as their tightly packed trauma and friction could allow.

Mikey, Leo, Raph- they’re still his brothers, he hopes, in some other life. He opens up a portal.


Universe: 2011

Donnie is very skeptical of reincarnation. There’s just…no evidence at fifteen that he’s ever been anything more than an accident, albeit fucking amazing and scientifically groundbreaking.

Father believes it, Leo never needed much convincing and Mikes and Raph didn’t care where they were from, as long as now they were together.

Donnie shares a similar sentiment, watching his brothers play Mario Kart, a soft smile on his lips. Raph’s pretty adjusted to home now. Lost a lot of the little edges he doesn’t bother explaining. They all knew, though they really didn’t know.

But that pain Raph’d felt seemed shared between all of them, even before Donnie would admit his brother was actually still alive somewhere.

“That’s your problem, Donnie,” Mikey said, once, only half-joking, “You’re way too much of a skeptic, bruh.”

He becomes less of a skeptic when memories of his old death trickle in his dreams. When flickers of his past life, and old familiar comforts catch him off guard in the middle of battle or patrol. When certain smells call to mind memories not his.

Donnie keeps these to himself, and prepares endlessly for a war. Prepares without support. Prepares in spite of the sickening feeling he gets when he looks into the Shredder’s eyes through the red tinted screen of Metalhead.

It tastes like ash in his mouth, and dirt (and deep, deep down, Donatello knows it’s something else buried in his chest, that freezes cold when he sees this man).

He dwells less on the possibilities of his Other Life the more complicated the one he’s living now gets. He sees a future in shambles at his own hand, he wants to die because of that.

He loses too much and gets it back in fragments.

He stares death in the face, and, like a very quiet and tenderly broken whisper, hopes it overcomes him.

It almost does. Death overcomes him just enough, though so, so painfully.

So that he’s greeted at the gates and by a woman his heart instantaneously leaps for.

And Donnie finally lets himself bear the weight of his death- the first and, maybe, the second- and all the infinite possibilities of dimensions and universes and pasts. In the minute he dies that all becomes clear, like a tiny flame in darkness and Donnie can only hope it’s better someplace else.

As he prepares, and prepares, again and again and again for battle. Against mutants, aliens, his father, his trauma.

He’s staring at his reflection, in the television as he whoops Harold’s obnoxious ass in Dragon Ball Fighter, and hopes he doesn’t look as tired as he feels, when the world tilts and he’s sucked into a void.


Universe: 2018

“Fuck you, I’m trying to disassociate right now and you’re messing me up,” Donnie mumbles, not lacking some bits of affectionate annoyance as he barely makes an effort to shrug Raph away.

Raph was relentless in a totally not overbearing way and was somehow the only one of Donnie’s brothers that could successfully get a full smile out of him without even trying (Mikey was a close second once he got bantering going) on Migraine Day. Which was almost every other day with how much shit they had going on.

It wasn’t bad- just new, and it takes Don a little bit longer to adjust and process. Longer than he likes to let on.

His brothers were phenomenal adjusters and he loves that about them; he was not and he…was just starting to learn to be okay with not being okay with change right away.

Nevertheless Raph stays close and rests his chin on top of Donnie’s head, overseeing his work and notes he probably won’t understand. But- and this was admittedly a really, really cool thing about his brothers- Raph will still stick around anyway, just ‘cause he can sense its importance.

Not just to the team and to their family, but to Donnie- and that’s really all Raph needed to know to stick around most times. 

So much happened between them finding mystic weapons and now and Donnie is just trying to make sense of it, in what was, roughly fifteen minutes prior to Raph finding him, solitude, in the dark with ungodly amounts coffee and raw fish.

Thank god for Leo for snagging some for him, and Mikey for chopping it in even slivers, and Raph for…being here.

“I dunno bro, zoning out in the middle'a work don’t seem like a good idea,” he says, lifting his chin from Donnie’s head to look better at his notebook, “You...can feel your fingies and toes, right? No…loud buzzin’ noise in ya head?”

“Yes and nope,” Donnie answers, staring at his computer, “I said trying.”

And Raph laughs, in a way that bubbles in his chest and one that Donnie feels. It’s stuff like this that grounds him.

He doesn’t think of another world, or another life. He doesn’t think of that…or really anything at all as the room explodes and warps. And he’s ripped from Raph.


“I did it!”

The robot…kid- whoever the shell he is- dances around for another minute, analyzing everything around him with the manic gleam in his eyes Don knows he’d have too, if he weren’t so confused.

“Hey, fella wait a minute-”

“Holy cow- you must be me in this universe! HA! You’re a bit…different, dimensionally speaking and well…compared to my other body-”

“What-? I...who are you?”

The robot sags his shoulders, dropping his staff, “I literally just said- are you still a genius in this universe because, damn, you’re clueless.”

Don snorts, adjusting the strap to his duffle bag and folds his arms, “Gee sorry, it’s just that usually when people pop out of portals in this dimension, they have the courtesy to at least give a proper introduction-” he shrugs.

“-It’s considered rude not to ya know.”

The robot seems to give him a long look, though Don can’t even be sure because he’s got pixels for eyes and they’re flat now; it’s gotta be some variant of Donatello to convey that much done with barely a look, he’s gotta give him that.

“Hi.”

Robo-him sticks his hand out, sounding bemused, “I’m your friendly neighborhood Donatello from 2075. Dee for short. And the technology here sucks. You?”

Don sighs, taking his hand and shaking it, caught off guard by his grip, “You can call me Don…I’m from, well, here. And trust me, you’ll adjust, Mr. Roboto.”

“Just tell me you can at least get me a decent charging port,” says his counterpart, sounding impossibly, and suddenly, tired.

And Don just snorts, and picks up the futuristic staff, shaking his head.

“Yeah, of course. This isn’t 1880, we have a billion outlets in the lair.”


It’s weird, Dee comes to understand, seeing his brothers so…different, and together, sitting and eating cereal and cold pizza on the couch like he and his universe’s brothers would do.

Only these guys…probably aren’t teens, and in Dee’s world, once 17 hit stuff like this stopped.

They might as well be over 21- these versions of him and his family- he thinks, because Mikey’s got a cocktail to down his Fruity Pebbles with, and really only the 20-somethings could produce that kind of depression-induced nonchalance.

Dee should know, he only really got to 20 before his death and the complete halt in his aging as a whole.

So technically they’re all older than him, born before him, but Dee feels like right in this moment he’s fucking ancient. Aged and ragged and worn out.

This Leo reads a book and offers a puzzled, but nothing less than serine smile to Dee, listening to Don explain their meeting and the portal and-

“I mean…it’s pretty awesome. He’s from 2075 guys so technically he’s younger than us, but-”

“I’m gonna shit my pants, this is totally Back to the Future,” this Mikey squeals, drawing his knees up, and Raph gives him a look that does nothing to dull any of his excitement.

He gives Mikey a nudge, and Dee’s just happy it’s not as hard, and holds no malice, like he’s seen and perpetuated in his own world, to his own Mikey.

“Pretty much,” Don surmises, with a soft smile and a half shrug, “But like…minus the whole complexity. I hope.”

They all look to Dee now, and its only then that he actually remembers he’s never said why he’s here, and frankly, he totally forgot up until now; blame his tired circuits for that one.

“Ah, yeah. Yes, I…um. I’m from 2075. In…in my world thing’re-

“Shit, hang on,” Raph grumbles, turning his head towards the T.V, a series of explosions flashing across the screen as a newscaster reports the footage.

“….reen alien is terrorizing Lower Manhattan tonight. The…figure was seen hovering in a futuristic spacecraft, and what appears to be six metal spider legs-”

The camera work is shaky, and fuzzy at best, but Dee can’t help but make out an exhaustingly familiar purple mask attached to that green skin, and briefly thinks beneath his amazement: what the fuck have I done?


“In hindsight, I never knew opening this portal would be so monumentally shitty.”

“In hindsight,” Don says, running alongside his counterpart across rooftops, racing towards the sounds of terror and- most likely- manic laughter, “You really shoulda. For every action is an-”

“Equal and opposite reaction. Yah, got that. Like, a gazillion times pal. I’m just sayin’…whatever the hell we unleashed, he’s gotta be one psycho son of bitch.”

Don really, really hopes this isn’t another Donatello, now beginning to think that more than one at all in the world and dimension was too goddamn much. Two was pushing it.

Three though…

“Wait, pump the breaks Terminator, there’s hardly a we in this-”

“Correction,” Dee interjects without letting up, vision pinpointing on the chaos ahead, “You and I are linked. Our minds…This is basically, inevitably how you would handle a situation.”

They leap in complete, unintentional unison, probably proving Robo Dee’s point, though Don won’t admit to that.

“Uh I think not, friend. I…would never-”

He remembers all the experiments gone horribly wrong, and shudders.

“-Let’s just drop it and snag the kid okay.”

Aaand got ‘em! See? Easy. Coordinates locked in baby!”

Robo Dee accelerates with thrusters Don only kinda wishes he had, keeping up all the same on his feet, and lunging himself across buildings with the help of his bo. Years of having to keep up with Mike adapted him to making the best use of the speed he did have, amplifying it with his agility, and the two became pretty much unstoppable on the rooftops and fighting across them.

Still, this Donatello was fast, mostly because of the thrusters, and also because- well, he was just fast, carried himself effortless and lightweight for all that metal, and seemed impossibly focused on their target.

As they got closer, Don could make him out, the other, other Donatello who, like Robo Dee, seemed to enjoy tech with his fighting, and was happily busy raiding dumpsters.

Please, please, please don’t be an evil clone.

This new, possibly evil clone Donatello barely lets it phase him that there’re two different variants of him standing at the end of the alley way, or that one of them is a robot, pointing a fucking blaster at him.

With an eye roll, he just puts a hand on his hip lazily, and a whole plethora of deadly weapons whips out from his little purple book bag or some shit like that, with a damn smug grin.

“I won’t hesitate bitch.”


It’s like meeting parts of him he’s only ever locked away. Like…all the personas just got out and now Don’s faced with the consequences. He almost wants to think this is another PTSD induced nightmare, and that, maybe, if he lets the kid, with enough guns and blasters in his bag to supply the entire Foot, to just kill him now, he’ll wake up back at home in his lab with a stiff neck and a killer migraine.

Only…this isn’t one of those things, no matter how jarring and just…really weird it is to see a version of himself so chaotic.

Robo Dee’s blaster whines as it charges up, and this Donnie shrugs, flicking open his fanny pack and ready to hit a small button with such an indifference like he’s not about to maybe blow them up-

“Okay, okay hold the phone-” shaking out of his shock, Don rushes to step between the two and prays he doesn’t wind up dead.

Which is highly probable that he will considering he has two maniacson either side of him that still hold their weapons at will and glare at Don like he’s the target in all of this, and not just an average, friendly neighborhood mutant turtle who happened to get mixed up in an epic yet incredibly dangerous plot he doesn’t even know of yet.

“Let’s just…breathe-”

“Breathe? Don, this…abomination is a threat to the mission-”

“What mission? You haven’t even specified-”

“Ha! That’s false. I’m. A fucking genius, not an abomination, bitch-”

“Oh my- for the love of god stop swearing so goddamn much-”

“One: pardon my fuck, but you just cursed! Two: there’s a serious level of double standards here. Three: Tin Can Man is here about to kill me, I’m just using self defense-”

“That’s self defense-? Guess there really isn’t Master Splinter in some universes. Explains your form-”

“ENOUGH! Damnit, you two, I’m not gonna be the only sensible one here, okay? So shut up and let me think this through!”

The two Donatello’s stop. Shut up and just stare, which kinda catches Don off guard as the alleyway is taken over by silence.

“Robo Dee,” he says, through his teeth in the way Leo does when he’s really, really pressed, “Explain why the hell you’re here and why the hell he’s here.

Dee keeps his eyes on the little Donnie, narrowed purple pixels, but loses tension in his stance.

“I…I wanted to see if I could. Fix something. And it. I thought it worked but it didn’t.”

It’s…a remarkably more simple answer than Don was expecting. Everything about the past few hours seemed nothing short of complex and manic and seeing Dee deflate like this feels wrong for many, many reasons Don can’t even make sense of right now.

But then Donnie seems to get it too, wincing a little.

Maybe it’s a sentiment they all get. Wanting to make things right for all kinds of reasons and just…falling short somehow. Maybe it was a multi-universal Donatello thing.

What happened to him, Don wonders, and wonders further if he even wants to know, realizing he’s barely stopped to even consider why this Donatello’s lacking any flesh and blood, confined to metal and steel instead.

His shoulders sag as he looks between these two versions of himself, and honestly curse his inability to not be so empathetic.

“We’ll figure this out. Promise,” he’s not sure why he says that, “But we gotta get back home. M-my home, I mean.”

And turning to Donnie, whose weapons have retracted into his back, Don extends a hand, “But only if we promise not to blow each other up, cool?”

Donnie seems to contemplate it, an irritated scowl on his face as he looks at Don’s hand.

“‘M not big on…touching anyone, outside my family. But, I sense something wonderful, like a grand conglomeration of ingenuity in the air, and…” Donnie pauses, smiling with actual stars in his eyes as he turns to Dee, “A boss ass upgrade.”

Dee gives something of a maniacal smile, for as much as he can emote, and a passionate, crazed glint in the screen of his eyes.

And Don, feeling aged by a hundred years and simultaneously understanding all of Splinter’s pain in an instant, shakes his head and stares heavenward, wishing beyond everything that he at least makes it to next Tuesday.

That’s free wing night and he’d be damned if he missed one of those.


From not too very, very far away, just on the outskirts of Newark, another portal opens, and another Donatello slips out, a controller in his hand and a heating cloth on his sore neck where nerve damage still lingers.

He presses his comms, only receiving the faint crackle of static and a voice trying to get through.

“Harold? Yeah…I’m gonna hafta call you back.”