Title: Protective Instincts

Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)

Rating: PG

Word Count: 2932

Series: Done as part of LiveJournal's Fanfic100 Community, prompt #72: Fixed

Notes: Set sometime during Season 3/4, after Klunk's arrival, and after the episode where Bishop had them – and Leatherhead – trapped in his lab.

Additional: I have GOT to stop hanging around the SS forums. The plot bunnies are breeding relentlessly. :)

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"Mikey, ignoring the situation isn't going to make it go away!"

Michaelangelo shrugged and made a face at his older brother. It was a completely immature response, and not particularly convincing with its wittiness, but it made him feel better.

Leo obviously couldn't appreciate that. His brother rolled his eyes. "Real mature, Mikey."

Raphael stomped into the room. "Is he still coppin' a 'tude in here? For chrissakes, let it go, already."

Mikey decided a raspberry would do quite nicely. Raph disagreed.

"You bratty, little fu--"

"Raphael!"

Mikey looked up. Master Splinter stood in the doorway of his room, glaring at them all. In a rare moment of wisdom, Mikey held his tongue.

Raphael was not feeling prone to bouts of wisdom that day. "Master Splinter, you know the deal here. Mikey's just being a bigger idiot than usual about it."

That was not true. Being an idiot implied he didn't know what was going on. He knew precisely what was going on, and that was the problem. He looked back at the rows of televisions, deciding to tune out the chatter behind him. In his lap, Klunk purred contentedly, letting out soft meows every time Mikey's fingers brushed against his fuzzy ears.

"Michaelangelo?"

He turned his head again to see Master Splinter standing next to the couch, staring levelly at him. "'Sup, Master?" He aimed a wide-mouthed grin at his father, the one that almost always guaranteed a near-hidden smile in return.

His charm seemed to be working. Master Splinter's eyes softened, just a touch. "My son, we have spoken about this. Donatello has told you the reasons why it must be done."

"He's my cat." Mike's voice stayed at the same volume, but his tone was edged with steel enough to rival Leonardo's katanas. His fingers dug a bit more firmly into Klunk's fur, and the cat issued a quiet 'meow' in protest. Easing up, he gave his pet a silent apology, resuming the soft strokes.

"It is for the best--"

"Don't care."

"Michaelangelo."

Mikey flinched imperceptibly. Okay, that tone had been pushing it – practically bordering on outright rude. Klunk, sensing his owner's wariness, uncurled himself and reached up, planting two paws on Mikey's plastron, peering up at his face with twitching whiskers.

Mikey stared into the tiny face, the same little face that he'd first rescued that past winter; saving him from a life of cold, of starvation, of being chased by dogs or hit by cars. He had taken Klunk in, had cared for him, nursed the near-skeletal creature back to health, and vowed to keep him safe from harm. With renewed determination, Mikey gently wrapped two strong hands around Klunk's torso and lifted him up, setting him on his shoulder, before getting to his feet.

"No," he said again, a bit desperately. "I won't let you hurt him. I won't let any of you hurt him."

Donatello came over and stood next to Splinter, a sheaf of papers in hand. "Mikey, listen to me! It won't hurt him – he won't even know they're gone!"

Mikey flinched. "You are not taking my cat to be hacked apart," he hissed. "Do we remove your body parts at random?"

Don bristled. "At random? Mikey, that cat of yours sprayed my lab and the inside of the Battle Shell!"

"He was angry," Mikey countered defensively. "I read somewhere that animals sometimes pee in places they know they're not supposed to, to show their disapproval. And he did get locked in that sewer pipe for a whole day!"

Donatello brought his hand up to pinch the bridge between his eyes, rubbing hard. "And that's another thing. Wandering. This will cut down on his wandering and keep him close to home. Don't you want that?"

"I want my cat in one piece," Mike said calmly. On his shoulder, Klunk glared at Donatello and growled warningly, making Mikey smile a little. For all he knew, Klunk understood perfectly what Don wanted to have done to him, and was voicing his own opinion.

Donatello tried a different tack. "It'll keep him healthy--"

"He is healthy!"

Raphael had obviously had enough. Whipping his sais out, he stalked over to the sofa. "Enough, Mikey. The cat's gettin' his nuts chopped, and that's that!" With a roar, he launched himself at his brother.

Mikey yelped and leaped out of the way, rolling into a one-handed cartwheel, keeping his other hand on Klunk. Klunk, used to his master flipping around with him in tow, went limp in his grasp, making it easier for Mikey to focus on his hotheaded sibling who had turned around and was coming after him.

"Get back here!"

"I don't think so!" Mikey sprinted across the ground floor of the lair, flipping onto the railing of the pool bridge. From there he made a leap to the cabling that Donnie used to hoist up the Shell Sub for repairs, using his momentum to launch himself to the second floor. From there, it was a quick sprint into his room, where he slammed the door shut, locking it from the inside.

The inner locking mechanism was something Donnie had discovered by accident, and Mikey was now fervently glad that the techno-turtle had shown them all how to access it. His thankfulness grew even stronger when Raphael skidded to a halt outside his room and began pounding on the door.

"Open up! You can't hide in there forever!"

Mikey ignored him, and eventually, amid curses and last kicks at the door, Raphael stomped away. He breathed a sigh of relief, sitting on the floor of his room, cuddling Klunk to him. His cat, none the worse for wear for the mad rush through the lair, nuzzled him gently, his purring sounding as loud as an engine in the stillness.

"I won't let them hurt you, Klunk," he said softly, closing his eyes. "No one's strapping my cat to a table and cutting them open."

He sat there in his room for a long time, refusing calls from the others to come and eat. Even a direct summons from Master Splinter went unheeded, save for a quiet, 'Sorry, Master'. He had enough junk food hiding in his room to last at least one night.

Around eight o'clock, he heard greetings being called out, and he could recognize Casey's voice. That struck him as odd, because normally Raph headed out and met him at his place before they went skull-bashing for the night. The loud greetings suddenly cut off into low mumbles, and Mikey scowled. They were probably talking about him, telling Casey about how Mikey was sulking in his room, refusing to come out.

The voices eventually died out, and Mikey figured Casey and Raph had to be gone for the night. Then footsteps sounded on the walkway outside his room, coming to a halt by his door. Mikey closed his eyes. It was most likely Donnie. Leo had a much softer step, and he could never hear Master Splinter at all.

"Yo, Mikey?" A light knock on the door. "It's me, Casey. Can I talk to ya, for a sec?"

"Mikey can't answer the door right now, but if you leave your name, number, and a sizable donation, he'll be sure to get back to you." Klunk meowed, and Mikey smiled, reaching for a cat toy under his bed. He flicked it, and Klunk rumbled in delight, leaping to the floor and crouching, his little hind end wiggling in anticipation before striking out with his front paws.

"Mikey, I ain't gonna do nothin'. I just wanna talk to you."

"And what ever could you want to talk about? Gee, let me think," Mike drawled, not moving from his sprawled position on the floor. Klunk leaped, missed the toy, and fell headfirst into a stack of old plush animals.

"C'mon, Mikey. I ain't never done nothin' to you. You got no reason to not trust me."

Grammar issues aside, that was true enough. Mikey contemplated the door in silence for a minute. Then he rolled over, neatly kipping up to his feet. Unlocking the door, he slid it open about half a foot. "What?"

Casey rolled his eyes. "Let me in, ya putz," he said, sticking his arm through the crack to grab the door frame, and pulling it all the way open.

Mikey stumbled a bit. He kept forgetting that while not as talented in the ninja arts, Casey was still a lot stronger then the average human. He glared at the vigilante, and then went back over to where Klunk was still batting the toy he'd dropped. Scooping his cat up, he plopped himself back on the ground. "So, talk."

Casey slid the door shut behind him and came inside, eying the room. "Gee, and you guys say my place is bad?"

Mikey took in the dirty piles of street clothes, the toys, the comics stacked haphazardly everywhere, the mountains of dirty dishes, the piles of snack bags and the dying, sheet-born fort in the corner that sagged about two inches off the floor. "What?"

"Never mind." Chuckling, Casey seated himself across from Mikey, picking the cat toy up, offering the feathered end to Klunk, who watched avidly from the safety of Mikey's arms. "You know, I had a cat once."

"Really." Mikey arched an eye ridge at him, suspicious.

"Yup. Black and white monster." Casey smiled. "I'd been buggin' Ma for a pet. I wanted a dog, a big one. I was, what, fourteen? A lot'a my friends had dogs and I wanted one too. My dad had died two years before, and Ma was always busy working. I figured a dog would keep me company at home."

"So she gave you a cat." Mikey blinked. "That must'a made you mad."

"Nope." Casey shook his head. "Well, okay, a little. At first. See, she said I couldn't have a dog because they were too much work. They need walks, and playtime and training and lots of time. She said I could have a cat, because cats were easier to take care of. She didn't have time to take care of a dog."

"But it was going to be your dog," Mikey objected.

Casey snorted. "Newsflash, kid. Anytime a family gets a pet, eventually the novelty wears off. It's the parents who need to realize that even though they say Jr's gotta look out for it, it's the Mom's and Dad's who wind up taking Fido for that three AM walk in the middle of winter."

"...Oh."

He continued. "Anyway, Ma took me to the animal shelter and let me pick out a cat. I wound up with a black and white mix I named Raven."

"Cool name," Mikey nodded, giving him a thumbs up.

"Thanks." Casey snapped the cat toy, and Klunk jumped out of Mikey's arms, ready to do battle with the evil, mini-feather duster. "Raven was a tiny thing, about ten weeks old. At first, he was real skittish, but soon, he'd follow me around the house, demanding to be pet, or fed. I'd be watching TV, and he'd jump on me, all twenty claws digging into my skin, telling me off for being late with his dinner."

Mikey looked at Klunk and laughed. "I know how that goes."

Casey chuckled. "Yeah, I seen this little guy get mouthy." He pulled the toy in, drawing Klunk over, and gently knuckled his little head. Klunk tried to gnaw on his knuckles. "Anyway, around the five month mark, Ma told me we had to get him neutered, like the guys been telling you that."

Mikey stiffened. "No one's cutting up my cat."

"That's exactly what I said," Casey said, shrugging.

"Really?" Mikey asked cautiously, wondering if perhaps he had an ally on his side. "What did your Mom say?"

He rolled his eyes. "'Tough shit, son. My house, my rules.' Raven got neutered the next week."

Mikey's eyes widened. "That's horrible!"

"That's what I thought." Casey looked at Mikey. "Then I noticed the difference. He was calmer, happier. He didn't spray Ma's shoes anymore." He smirked. "That made her calmer and happier too."

"Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say." Mike glared, refusing to give in to the joke.

"But the best part? He was healthier." Casey stroked Klunks head, right down between his eyes to his nose, making the kitten purr ecstatically. "No chances for testicular cancer, and no chance of him going nuts around females in heat."

Mikey looked at him warily. "Cancer?"

"Yup. Fairly common in cats. Dogs too. Neutering is not a bad thing, Mikey." The ex-hockey player looked the young turtle straight in the eyes. "What are you really fighting against?"

Mikey tried to meet his look head on, but eventually his eyes dropped. He reached out to Klunk, letting him sniff his fingers, and he curled his hand protectively over the animal. "I don't want him on some doctor's table, getting sliced open."

His voice broke slightly as he spoke, and he cursed himself when Casey's eyes narrowed. Contrary to popular belief, Casey's goofy, dumb exterior hid a surprisingly sharp mind, at least when it pertained to certain things. Kinda like himself. It was no wonder Casey could see through him so easily sometimes.

"It ain't Klunk you're scared about," he said calmly, and Mikey shuddered, suddenly feeling very cold.

"Don't put him on the table," he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut. Bits and flashes of memories danced behind closed lids, white lights and sharp knives. "Don't drug him. Don't cut me open."

"Yo, Mikey?"

Mikey blinked, and looked up at Casey, confused. "Huh?"

"You said, 'don't cut me open'," the vigilante said gently. "Somethin' you wanna talk about?"

"...Bishop," Mikey said numbly. "When we were...he... I shouldn't complain, you know? Leatherhead had it worse then I ever did..."

Casey swore under his breath, and Mikey jumped slightly when a big hand came down on his arm. "Kid, you okay?"

Mikey breathed, in and out. "Yeah."

"Why didn't you say nothing?"

He blinked again. "I did! My bros know what happened. They saw everything! Heck, I had nightmares for a week – Donnie had to wake me up three times."

"I mean, why didn't you tell them that's what you think is gonna to happen to Klunk?"

Mikey bristled. "They should know." How could they not? Didn't they see the similarities?

Casey chuckled in fond exasperation. "Your bros ain't mind readers, Mikey. They don't know why you're actin' like this."

He shrugged. "It doesn't matter how I feel. In the end, they're all still gonna want him hacked apart." Klunk meowed. Feeling protective again, Mikey picked Klunk up, cuddling him under his chin. "I'm not gonna let anything happen to him."

"The vet ain't gonna kill your cat, Mikey. It's kinda bad for business if they do that a lot."

"Vet?" Mikey raised his eyes to meet Casey's. "What vet? I can't take Klunk to a vet, remember? A turtle bringing a cat to the vet – the vet wouldn't know which one of us was the patient."

Casey looked startled. "Then what--"

Mikey looked disgusted. "Donnie has a book."

For minute, Casey couldn't seem to speak. "... That's wrong." Casey screwed up his face, like the idea left a sour taste in his mouth. "That is wrong on so many levels. You do not perform voluntary surgery on helpless animals who can't consent, winging it with a book."

"Tell Donnie that," Mikey said mildly. It was nice to see someone confirm he wasn't in the wrong.

Casey nodded. "I will. And I'm also gonna get you an appointment with my old vet. The one Ma still takes Raven to."

"Still?"

"Yeah, Raven's still alive. Ten years old, and ruling the house. Ma takes care of him permanently, now. My life ain't exactly stable enough for an animal." He grinned, a bit sheepishly. "Sometimes I don't take care of myself so good, let alone him. And he's happy there."

Mikey still didn't look convinced. "But the vet--"

"I'll take Klunk for you. My vet's a good guy – he's seen Raven through some tough times. He'll take care of Klunk like he was his own."

"But..." Mikey looked helplessly at Klunk. "What if something happens? What if something goes wrong?" He looked up at Casey with wild eyes. "Will he still be a boy cat?"

Casey snorted, and then gave in to full-blown laughter. "Yeah, yeah, Mikey, he'll still be a dude. I promise."

Calming down, he held his arm out to Mikey, who recognized the gesture as the warrior shake he and Raph sometimes did to seal promises. Looking the vigilante straight in the eyes, he asked, "You'll be there? The whole time? And you promise he'll be okay?"

"I promise," Casey repeated without hesitation.

Mikey slowly reached out and gripped Casey's forearm, shaking it once. "Okay."

"I'll call my vet tomorrow morning. No backing out, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah."

"And talk to your brothers. At least Master Splinter. Tell 'em what you told me." Casey narrowed his eyes in a rare display of severity. "You got some stuff knockin' around your skull that needs to come out."

"Some of it did," Mikey said, looking at Casey a bit gratefully. It was weird, Casey being the responsible voice of reason. But he had helped. "Thanks, Case-man."

"Anytime, green-boy." Casey tapped Klunk's head once more, grinning as the orange tabby tried to swipe at his fingers. "C'mon, your bros saved ya some dinner."

Mikey nodded, and followed him out the door, feeling better than he had all night. Atop his shoulder, Klunk purred reassuringly in his ear, and Mikey made a mental note to give him some extra sausage in his snacks to make up for what he'd have to go through later. Bribery was a good thing.

Casey led the way out of his room, and Mikey slid the door shut behind them.

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End

End Notes: I'd just like to make it clear I am 110 in favor of spaying and neutering, adopting from a shelter rather than indulging irresponsible, backyard breeders and puppy mills, and keeping house-cats INSIDE instead of outdoors where they get hit by cars or attacked by dogs and then the idiot owners expect sympathy. As a long-time SCAA volunteer, there is no excuse you can give me for not doing the above that I will ever accept, so Don't Bother.

Well? What did you think of the fic?