Title: When Everything Grinds to a Halt.
Word Count: 985
Notes: Tag for Season 4, episode 'Bad Day', written for LJ's fanfic100 community, prompt 12: Orange.
Summary: Mikey realizes what – or should I say, who – he almost lost.
When Everything Grinds to a Halt
"Klunk! You're okay!"
From the top of the ledge, Klunk looked down on Mikey, meowing. Mikey held out his arms, and Klunk leaped down. Catching hold, Mikey held the small kitten close to his chest, nuzzling the fuzzy, orange head. To his utter astonishment, he felt tears welling up in his eyes. His heart was suddenly racing, thumping almost hard enough to hurt, and a cold sweat broke out all over his body. What's going on? Mikey held Klunk up, staring in confusion at his pet, feeling the tears start to trickle down his face. It was just an illusion. It didn't really happen. We're all okay. Why am I crying?
"Mikey?" Donnie was suddenly standing next to him, one hand reaching out tentatively. He had a perplexed look on his face, mixed with worry and his own brand of confusion. "What's wrong? Are you all right?"
I don't get it. We're safe. Klunk's safe. Mikey felt his pulse speed up. A raspy sound was pounding through his skull – it took him a minute to realize it was coming from himself. What the shell?
"Mikey, calm down." Donnie was right in his face now, gently pushing Klunk down further into Mikey's arms, which had tightened considerably around the cat. "You're hyperventilating. You need to breathe deep breaths and slow down or you're going to pass out."
"D-Donnie," Mikey wheezed. "What... I don't..." His body started shaking, and his knees suddenly gave out beneath him. He sat down hard, still clutching Klunk like a lifeline. The kitten meowed in surprise at the sudden movement, but didn't try to escape. Instead, Klunk wound his tail around Mikey's forearm and began to purr, loud and strong.
Mikey could feel the vibrations pushing straight into him, drowning out the sound of his racing heartbeat. It was soothing, and he slowly felt his breath start to come easier. The shaking turned into trembles which began to fade away. The sweat dried on his body, making him shiver once, and suddenly something was draped over his back. Looking up, he saw Master Splinter standing by his side, gently rubbing his arms through the blanket he'd covered him with. "Master?"
"You had a panic attack," Donnie said quietly. "I don't blame you. I nearly did too, until I talked to April and Casey. It was a delayed reaction."
"But.." Mikey blinked hard, raising his arm to rub his face clean of the tear marks. "But Klunk's fine. We're all fine. Why did I..."
"Because you didn't have time to think about it earlier," Master Splinter said calmly. He knelt next to his son, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Everything was happening so quickly. Your ninja training allowed you to push most of your reactions to the side to allow you to deal with what was happening. Now that it is over, your subconscious is returning those emotions and memories to you."
Mikey exhaled noisily, and bent his head forward, rubbing his face against the fur on Klunk's head. "I left him, Master," he said quietly, desperately.
"You got clobbered by a television," Donnie said wryly. "There was nothing you or any of us could do."
Klunk meowed, as though he understood, and Mikey pressed a kiss against his pink nose before loosening his grip. Klunk stepped daintily out of his arms and settled in Mikey's lap, curling into a trusting ball. Mikey was horrified to realize tears were in danger of forming again. "I don't get this," he complained, trying to hide them. "Why aren't you guys all weepy and panicky?"
A snort came from behind him; Mikey craned his head and saw Raph standing stiffly, his arms folded in a classic defensive pose. "'Cause we're not all babies like you," he said roughly.
Mikey studied him for a second, taking in the nearly imperceptible tremors rippling through his brother's strong frame. Can't fool me, bro, he thought knowingly, but decided not to call attention to it. "Still, this isn't fair." He took another deep breath. "I'm cold, I feel sick to my stomach, and I have a parade of geese marching their bumps all over me. Since you're all such tough guys, I demand pampering until I recover."
"You are not the only one to feel that way," Splinter said, and Mikey looked up again to see his Master sag slightly, lowering his head. Even his whiskers were drooping. "I thought I was going to lose my sons. I thought I had already lost my adopted children," referring to Casey and April, "... and all of you were next."
Mikey took that in with a small frown. Then his eyes lit up with understanding. He looked down at Klunk. "I thought I lost Klunk," he said, repeating his earlier statement.
"The fear of losing a pet can be almost as strong as the fear a parent feels about losing a child," Splinter said. "The urge to protect them can be quite strong. As can the reaction to failing to do so."
Mikey shivered again as he remembered seeing the desperation in Klunk's eyes, the pitiful cries as Klunk looked in vain at him, expecting Mikey to come to the rescue, just before his tiny head slipped under the roiling waters. "I believe you, Master," he said fervently.
Donnie coaxed him up, and Leo was right there to help Splinter to his feet. Raph headed for the kitchen to make hot tea for everyone – nerves needed soothing, and Raph, though lousy at making anything edible, was capable of handling a teapot.
Mikey allowed himself to be tugged along, letting the warmth of his family wrap around him. Though it hadn't actually happened, tendrils of guilt were still weaving their invisible tendrils around him. It would pass though, and silently Mikey vowed never to leave Klunk behind again no matter WHAT reality they were in.
Notes: Definitely not my greatest work, but it was written in 20 minutes after I watched 'Bad Day' – haven't been hit by a plot bunny that hard and fast in years.
That episode always hits me hard. As an animal foster parent, a rescue worker and a pet owner myself, I feel sick to my stomach when I watch animals get hurt on T and movies. The thought of losing my baby girl Ruthie (rescued here in Shanghai 4 years ago) makes me break out in a cold sweat, much like Mikey did. About a year ago, I was walking her (on leash, naturally) and someone riding their motorcycle on the sidewalk very nearly ran her over. I had an attack nearly as bad as Mikey's – after I tried to beat the hell out of the driver (who drove away in his own panic, rather than deal with the raging laowai who was hitting him with her bag and was about to move on to the bike).
I know people laugh at us pet owners for treating them like our children, but there's no denying the protective urge we feel for them is a powerful force. This fic is dedicated to all pet owners – may you never lose your loved ones too soon.