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Fanfic / The Chronicles of Karai Getting Her Shit Together

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The Krang have New York, The Shredder wants her captured, and the people she once tried to kill are now her friends and family. Living with the turtles and their friends at the farmhouse has given Karai a taste of the life she's secretly always wanted. Now she just has to find a way to not mess it up.

Too bad she's an expert at that.

The Chronicles of Karai Getting Her Shit Together is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) fanfic by Crowdog that can be read on Archive of Our Own here.

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Tropes in this fic include:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Karai is a repeat victim of sexual abuse by the Shredder. While she says that he only does it to punish her for failure, it is implied that he does it in a twisted, misplaced affection for her and her mother Tang Shen. It is also explicitly stated that she was trained to kill at a very early age, has done so before she hit her teens and was forced to allow Shredder to rape an underaged prostitute as a "test of loyalty". While she usually hides all of this under snark and jokes, she is clearly not as maladjusted as she says.
    • In his comatose-state, his brothers discover that Leo engages in self-harm, using a knife he keeps hidden to cut his arms and then hides the wounds in his hand-wraps. Raphael even refers to them as battle-scars because "you would have to be battling something to do that." It is implied that his routine self-destructive behavior is routed in feeling that he is inadequate in Splinter's expectations of him.
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    • Raphael has taken up drinking while taking the initiative in taking care of his brothers.
    • While Mikey is the only turtle with no serious issues of his own, watching his brothers deal with various traumatic things has left him with recurring nightmares of horrible things happening to them.
    • In-canon, there is only mention of Casey having a dad and a little sister, both of whom he cares so much for that he takes of vigilantism to protect them. Here, Casey's dad was a cop that committed suicide and him mom routinely physically abuses him.
    • Cold-Blooded Torture by the Foot Clan had rendered Donatello functionally blind with a broken-tail and traumatized cloaca.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
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    • Both Karai and Leo are bisexual.
    • In canon, Shinigami reciprocates Mikey's harmless flirting. Here she is a lesbian, asking Karai if Leo has a sister.
    • In canon, Casey Jones routinely fights Donatello for April's affections. Word of Gay confirms here that he is "gay in denial", spending a lot of his time with Raphael in a bromance and complaining an awful about his handsome classmate.
    • In canon, Mikey has only ever shown interest with girls like Shinigami and Renet. Word of Gay says this Mikey is pansexual.
  • Adaptational Villainy: On-top of the kind of abuse you would expect from someone like the Shredder, Shredder uses rape as a method of punishment for Karai. Not only that, but it is confirmed that he has regularly purchased underaged girls from human traffickers for this very purpose.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In Chapter 29, Karai takes Leo to KFC, claiming that it is super popular in Japan during the holidays. In Real Life, KFC as Christmas dinner has been a widespread practice in Japan since 1974.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When the turtles ask why Splinter had such a strong fascination with turtles when he drew them in his youth, he remarked that he found them cute. When they asked him if he thought that of them, he says that he still thinks that and offers to break out the baby pictures just to mess with them.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Leonardo suffers from depression, most often exhibited by his self-destructive tendencies in the form of cutting himself and his Chronic Hero Syndrome. The PTSD he suffered from the Shredder's near-death beatdown when the Kraang invaded only escalated this to suicidal and hallucinatory levels. He also routinely suffers from IBS brought on by the severe anxiety attacks.
    • Donatello's workaholic etiquette, his addiction of stimulants like coffee and smoking, his insomnia and his Guilt Complex towards Leo's self-destructive behavior all hint that he suffers from an anxiety disorder.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Casey and Raphael tend to spend a lot of time together alone. There is even a Brain Bleach moment where they do a literal dick-measuring contest. That said, when Donatello and April become an official couple, Casey conspires to get them to break up. Word of Gay states that he is Armoured Closet Gay.
  • Baleful Polymorph: After Karai is hit with a faceful of Donnie's retro-mutagen mist, she briefly takes on the form of her canon-counterpart's mutant form before turning fully human. Later on, she finds out that she transforms in and out of her original mutated form in her sleep, a habit she has learned to do temporarily.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: While much of Karai's human appearance is left (more or less) in-tact from the waist-up, she has various quirks that highlight her new mutant body. She very quickly grows accustomed to getting around without legs, she prefers sleeping in dark cramped spaces (like under beds instead of on them), she can get around in the winter and autumn chill perfectly fine despite being cold-blooded (just like the turtles), she sheds her skin once every few months and while she can eat human food perfectly fine, she much prefers hunting live-animals and she only needs to feed once a week.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When the Foot has Donatello and Karai captured, they would pour various chemicals in his eyes and "probe" him in a manner unambiguously called rape. By the time they escape and meet back with the others, his eyes have all the signs of severe cataracts and can be considered blind.
  • Comfort Food: While Splinter is usually in-control of himself, he tends to gorge himself with cheese if it becomes too much.
  • Cool Big Sis: Karai becomes something like this to Mikey, often humoring his weirder habits and claims (coming find that he is more aware of his surroundings that he seems) and even offers to beat up Raphael for him when he feels like he can't handle it.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Donatello all-but admits to Karai that Michelangelo's greatest strength is his determination and strength of will, the only thing keeping him from surpassing both Leo and Raphael in a fight (who are established as being the best fighters) is his complete lack of competitive spirit.
  • Darker and Edgier: The fanfic is full of angst, cursing and various controversial subjects such as rape, child-abuse, depression, alcohol, debilitating injuries and suicidal thoughts, making the canon series that the fanfic is based off of look like the lighthearted '87 show by comparison.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Much of Karai's dialogue and inner-monologue is her reacting to things with heavy amounts of sarcasm and irony.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation:
    • While in his coma, Donatello believes that Leo might never walk again, and when he wakes up he is unable to move or feel his legs and is forced to rely on wheelchair and Karai to get around. When given time to heal (more-so than in canon) and doses of Donatello's experimental medicine, he eventually regains feeling in his feet and is able to walk again with a permanent bad leg that requires a brace to work.
    • When the turtles face off the Creep in-canon, they survive it virtually unscathed. Here, the experience leaves Raphael missing an eye. While his brothers are off-put by it, Casey and Raph think it makes him look cool.
    • Cold-Blooded Torture by the Foot has rendered Donatello nearly blind.
  • Family of Choice: The Hamato Clan has always believed that family is not something tied by blood. Splinter's father truly believed Saki to be like a son to him and Yoshi's brother despite being adopted. Splinter himself believes this too, seeing the turtles as his sons even if none of their human DNA comes from him (baring Donnie, of course), and he still sees Karai as his daughter when it becomes a real possibility that she isn't.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Leo and Splinter are both big fans of The Golden Girls.
    • When Splinter's mother mails him his old sketchbooks, it reveals that he did various drawings and paintings of turtles, having always thought they were cute before he decided to adopted his sons pre-mutation.
  • Humans Are Ugly: Raphael makes it explicitly clear that unlike his brothers, Raphael has zero attraction to humans, citing their "rubbery skin" as one of the things that weirds him out.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: When Karai gets blasted with the retro-mutagen used to cure the New Yorkers, she briefly turns into her canon-counterpart's mutant form before turning fully human. This devastates her because she had grown used to her naga-form, she feels like she would relate less to her mutant family, that she would be less attractive to Leo and her more familiar physiology will leave her more vulnerable to the likes of Shredder and his abuse.
  • Living Emotional Crutch:
    • Everyone in the household acts as this to Leonardo when his depression and anxiety begin to afflict him, but Karai has been proven to be the most effective in helping his mood when he suffers from a breakdown. While she is caring and gentle with him, she is the only one who doesn't walk on eggshells around (not that she could walk, being part-snake), she is one of the few who understands his trauma (having been a victim of physical and sexual abuse), he can be honest with her in ways he can't be with his brothers and her Brutal Honesty is proven to be the most effective in getting through to him when he gets upset.
    • April acts as this for Donnie after Cold-Blooded Torture from the Foot renders Donatello blind and riddled with PTSD.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Raphael's lack of interest in pursuing a relationship with a human becomes apparent, Leo cites that his type must be "out of this world", referring to his relationship with Mona Lisa in-canon.
    • When Karai's skin starts shedding, Mikey eats some of it thinking they are chips before he throws them back up when he finds out what they are. This was a joke done in "Serpent Hunt", where he ate them when the turtles were searching for Karai in a Kraang infested New York.
    • When Karai gets blasted with the retro-mutagen used to cure the New Yorkers, her mutation destabilizes and she turns into her canon-counterpart's mutant form before turning fully human.
  • No Social Skills: When Karai tracks the Hamato Clan down at April's farmhouse, she struggles to integrate herself with the household. Most of them don't trust her on account of having been their enemy, her Super Hearing ends up causing her to hear things she shouldn't and she has trouble reading certain situations, having been an only child most of her life.
  • Noodle Incident: Karai was once been trapped in a piano.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Karai comes to realize Michelangelo isn't as ignorant as he seems, questioning whether or not half of the various crazy and stupid things that he says or does are all means of taking the initiative. It is also implied that he has a strong spiritual awareness similar to what Splinter believes April to have, claiming that "the trees" told him that Karai has been hunting deer in the woods, a fact that he shouldn't know.
  • One of the Girls: When Karai and April have a girl's night, they invite Mikey. April cites that it's because he is really good at doing nails.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • While in-canon it takes a few episodes for Leo to get back to full-health after his near-death experience and coma, here it takes them half a year before they return to New York, with everything from physical healing to psychological problems prolonging their stay at April's farmhouse.
    • By the time Karai makes it to the farmhouse, the team is on a tight monetary budget caused by the sudden move, paying bills, groceries, gas for the car and various other things they need. It takes a hefty amount of money Karai stole from Fishface and a scheme or two devised by Donnie to keep them functioning before they head back to New York.
    • Mental problems like depression, PTSD and self-harm can't be willed away within the span of a Saturday Morning Cartoon episode. It's a fact that it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience to endure such things and they aren't something you can cure so much as learn to live with. Much of the story involves Leonardo suffering from some form of panic attack, depressive episode or some kind of self-inflicted injury, only for someone to catch him in it and trying to do something about it.
    • Karai has been a human woman most of her life. When she is turned into a snake-human mutant, it takes her time for her to learn how live with it, and even then she has no idea how her body really functions. It comes as a surprise to her when her skin starts shedding and she has no idea were her genitalia even is, much less how they work.
    • Anatomically speaking, turtles in relation to turtle penises are much larger than human penises. Now make those turtles human sized and it makes it anatomically impossible to perform sex with a human without a lot of trial and error. When Kirby jokes not to get April pregnant when he agrees to let her stay with them, Donnie (who was too sleep-deprived to remember to be tactful) gives him a very detailed explanation on how that would be impossible.
  • Relationship Upgrade:
    • Donatello and April never really moved past the Will They or Won't They? stage in canon. Here, it isn't until Donatello just bluntly confesses his feelings to her after enduring Bigfoot's advances does she finally reciprocate his feelings and they become a couple.
    • In-canon, Leonardo and Karai never really went past the Dating Catwoman phase and stayed friends. Here, not only do the both of them clearly like-like each other, but Everyone Can See It and are encouraging them to just spit it out.
  • Sickly Child Grew Up Strong: When Hamato Yoshi planned on getting a pet before their mutation he was originally only going to get Donatello because he was reclusive and ill. After the mutation, his immune system was weaker than the others and he wasn't strong enough to start training until he was ten.
  • Snake People: While canon!Karai is mutated into a mindless three-headed snake-monster (later capable of shifting between her fully-human form and her mutant form), here it is explicitly said that her design is closer to a naga of Hindu Mythology, having a snake-tail instead of legs but a human upper-half.
  • Super Hearing: Part of her mutation gives Karai a very acute sense of hearing, allowing her to overhear things all throughout the house.
  • Trauma Button: Since the Shredder would routinely strangle Karai when he was enraged or sexually abusing her, she becomes sensitive whenever she has someone's hands on her neck. She completely shuts down when the Chimera grabs her by the next and she suddenly has a panic attack when Leo touches her neck while they were intimate.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation:
    • The canon turtles are all just excepted to be brothers with Splinter being the source of their human DNA, making Karai their sister on a genetic level. In Chapter 19, it turns out that back when they were all nine, Donatello was able to have their DNA tested. It revealed that Leo and Mikey are paternal half-brothers (pre-mutation) with two unrelated humans being the source of their human DNA. Raphael is Mikey's third cousin on his human side. Donatello is unrelated to all three of them on all sides. When Karai and Donatello where imprisoned and tortured by the Foot, Donnie confesses to her that his DNA came from Splinter and has been keeping this a secret from the others, making him the only turtle that is Splinter's biological son and Karai's half-sibling.
    • It is strongly implied that Shredder actually is Karai's father brought on by a tumultuous affair Tang Shen had with him before she married Yoshi. Since the Hamato Clan are staunch believers in Family of Choice, Splinter still thinks of her as his daughter.

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