Title: Understanding

Author: Stormy1x2 (traveling_storm)

Rating: G

Word Count: 2382

Summary: Trapped with Mikey, Casey is pleasantly surprised. Well. As best he can be, considering the circumstances.

Notes: Long time, no TMNT! ^__^ Busy, busy, BUSY, that's all I can say. Done for LJ's ff100, prompt #021friends.

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Casey was having the mother of all bad days.

It wasn't enough that he sprained three fingers on his right hand punching out some Dragons during a routine patrol. And the policeman pulling him over for speeding on his way to April's apartment afterwards? That was annoying, but at least he hadn't been going that fast, and the fine was barely worth mentioning. No problem.

But then his motorcycle gave a pitiful sputter four blocks from April's place, and without a tool on him, there was no way to do a repair job. He'd had to walk it the rest of the way – and wouldn't you know it, the skies opened up and a downpour started as soon as he began moving. Then, naturally, the deluge stopped minutes after he set foot inside the door.

And then April hadn't even been there! But a message was – telling him to meet her at the lair. Without a bike, that meant trudging two blocks back the way he'd come, and an icy wind had pushed him the entire way – a very unpleasant feeling for one wearing soaked clothing.

Now, to top everything off, he was trapped in the elevator leading to the lair. An elevator, whose crystal power had apparently worn off. A big, metal or-whatever-the-hell-it-was-made-of box with no way out. And for the icing on the cake? He was trapped inside the alien metal box with Mikey.

Now, Mikey wasn't a bad person to hang with, normally. He was cheerful, sometimes funny, a good fighter, and good for a laugh. But that was when one was free – with the option of getting away from him.

It had been two hours since Donatello and Leonardo had left to retrieve a new supply of crystals from the underground city. The look of embarrassment on Donnie's face through the shell cells when he realized he'd run short of the crystals that powered their lair had almost been worth being trapped – until Casey learned it would take about four hours round trip for them to get back, and that was assuming they didn't run into any problems along the way.

Two hours was a long time to be stuck with the turtle most likely to be designated the poster child for attention deficit disorder. Somewhere in between an entire rendition of '100 bottles of beer on the wall' and a flopped attempt at playing 'I Spy', Casey had pounced on the turtle and gagged him with his own bandanna.

"No more," he declared fervently, shaking Mikey by the shoulders before backing off and shaking out his sore hand. "No more singing, no more games. All right?"

Wide-eyed, Mikey nodded, making a big show of crossing his heart.

Casey nodded sternly, and didn't stop the the other from freeing himself. He left Mikey to figure out the complex knot he'd tied in the fabric, and leaned his head back against the wall, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. In, out. In, out. It was all about focus and control, he reminded himself.

Casey wasn't afraid of anything, and he'd punch out the first person who suggested he was. In fact, he had, on two separate occasions when Raph's mouth got ahead of his brain. But if you got him full of Coors and then pushed just so, then maybe, just maybe he'd admit to being less than fully comfortable in enclosed spaces. But he wasn't drunk at the moment, so all he could do was relax, stay pressed against the wall, and visualize the wide open space of the city skyline as he ran across it in his memories.

A drumming noise filled his ears. Casey cracked his eyes open to see Mikey, now free, rapping his knuckles on the floor, the walls, beating out a rhythm to a song he obviously had running in his head, and it sounded vaguely like it would fit Bon Jovi's 'In and Out of Love'. Casey made a mental note to tell Raph his brother's taste in music sucked, and then glared at Mikey. "Stop that."

"What?" Mikey looked innocently at him. "I'm bored, Case-man."

Casey shuddered. 'I'm bored' were two of the most scariest words in the English language when they had to do with Michaelangelo. Somehow though, he couldn't work up the full-fledged terror for that he normally would. His energy was focused on trying not to flip out, thank you very much, and the tapping Mikey was doing was only reminding him quite loudly that they were surrounded by metal on all four sides. Like a box. Like a coffin.

Casey breathed deeply again, trying to find his inner calm, and vowed never to make fun of April's home yoga tapes anymore.

"You okay, Casey?"

"I'm fine," he snapped, irritably. "Just edgy. I'm not used to being in one spot like this for a long time, you know?"

"Yeah, me too," came the disturbingly cheerful reply. "Man, I wish I'd brought my GameDude up to the garage. S'not like Donnie really needed me to help him tune up the Battle Shell, I could'a gotten a brand new high score with all this free time sittin' here doing nothing."

In, out. In, out.

"You sure you're okay, dude? 'Cause it'd be so not kosher to puke in an elevator. I mean, we'd be stuck in here with the smell and everything and this box ain't very big."

Keep breathing. In, out. Stuck. The box ain't very big. "Shut up, Mikey."

"Why? Are you gonna pull a Raph on me and try to beat me up or something? 'Cause dude, I know Sensei's been working with you and April and you guys are getting' good and all, but I'm still the master in this elevator dude, and I can do handsprings off the walls for hours to make sure your greasy mitts don't touch me."

Stuck. Box. Elevator walls. Breathe in, breathe out. Casey wasn't a big fan of begging, but he might have to rethink his position on that. "Mikey...." Or not. See, that wasn't begging. It was pleading, and there was a subtle, acceptable difference between the two.

He squeezed his fists and a pained hiss escaped him as his sprained fingers reminded him that he hadn't taken the time to tend to them properly.

"What's wrong with your hand?" Mikey's voice, bright and curious.

"I sprained three fingers last night. This morning. Whenever." Casey shook his hand again, and then realized the pain was keeping him from thinking of much else. Including facts like his current location. This could work. With that, he took his other hand and squeezed his bad one as hard as he could stand.

Pain flashed through his hand, raced up his forearm and made him curse despite himself. The heck with sprained, there was a good chance his pinky was broken. Sweat broke out on his forehead, and he welcomed it, feeling the panic get pushed down under the hurt.

"Knock it off, Casey!"

Mikey was suddenly right in front of him, pulling his hands apart and glaring at him like he was someone's mother hen. Casey glared right back. "Personal space, kiddo, ever hear of it?"

"Well, if you weren't busy being an idiot, I'd stay out of your personal bubble." Mikey pulled Casey's injured hand towards himself, and began to gently straighten his fingers, checking them over. "And dude, I hate to tell you this, but your baby finger?"

"Broken?" He'd figured as much.

"Yup. Way to go." Mikey gave him a mockingly stern look. "I thought we taught you how to throw a proper punch."

"Ha, ha," Casey said, trying to tug his hand back. "I taught myself, thanks so much, and give me back my hand."

"Not if you're gonna keep trying to make maracas out of them." Mikey reached into one of the small compartments that Casey knew was sewn into the backs of their leather belts. He pulled out a small roll of bandaging, an then cast about the room for something else. A Popsicle stick in the corner made him beam happily and he reached over for it. "Now, hold still."

"Mikey, leave it," Casey protested. "I'll get it checked out later, when we're out of here."

"What, no trust?" Mikey looked hurt, but the twinkle was still in his eyes. "I promise, Donnie gives us a first aid refresher course every three months, whether we want it or not. I can do this."

The walls were starting to close in again. Casey shut his eyes and breathed deeply. "I know, Mikey. I sat in on the last one, remember? But I need this, I need..."

"You need the pain?"

Casey looked up, meeting Mikey's knowing gaze. He thought about protesting but then decided it was a little late to start lying now, and so he shrugged instead. "Keeps me from thinking of other things."

"Like the fact that we're trapped in a box that seems to be shrinking?"

His breath blew out in an explosive huff. "Damn it, Mikey! Don't say things like that!" He glared at the turtle again. "And who the hell told you?"

Mikey raised an eye ridge. "Please, give me some credit. You've been trying to keep from hyperventilating for the last two and a half hours. Donnie figured you were claustrophobic about a month after we first met you."

"Are you serious?"

"Why do you think we leave the windows rolled down every time you catch a ride in the Battle Shell?"

Casey stared at the other in complete and total shock. "You do?"

Mikey nodded. "Donnie said it'd help."

It does. It did. Casey thought about getting angry that no one had decided to ask him if he truly was claustrophobic before making any other assumptions about him, but then decided it wasn't worth the headache. And it was touching, in its own way. "Uh... thanks."

"No sweat. That's why I was singing and stuff, you know." Mikey shrugged. "I figured I'd keep your mind off it."

Casey shot him a look. "So what was with the 'box' comments then, if you were trying to make me forget?"

Mikey looked embarrassed. "I forgot."

A bark of laughter escaped Casey. That was just such a typically Mikey response. His laughter grew strained and he bit it off, shaking his head and closing his eyes again. He could hear Mikey shifting, fidgeting with the lack of something to do, and he sighed, cracking one eye open. "Go ahead."

Mikey beamed. "Any requests?"

"No more Bon Jovi."

"And here I was gonna do the entire Slippery When Wet album for you."

"Then I'd have to strangle you with your bandanna. Nothing personal, of course."

Chuckling, Mikey set about diverting his friends attention as best he could. Casey would never admit it, but he was starting to be grateful he'd been stuck with the one person he'd been positive would be torturous, but was actually turning out to be better than he could hope for.

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"The cavalry has arrived!" Mikey cheered, somewhat hoarsely. His throat had begun to give out almost twenty minutes ago.

Casey smiled weakly, but kept his eyes focused almost desperately on the door. He hated looking so pathetic in front of the guys – and April, naturally – but there was no way he was gonna be able to bluff his way out of this--

"Come on, Case-man, gimme your arm." Mike was suddenly there, reaching down to pull him to his feet.

Casey blinked. "Huh?"

"Your legs must be like rubber, dude," Mikey said knowingly. "My knees turn to jello whenever I'm freakin' and there's no way you're gonna get up by yourself after four hours of hunching like that."

Casey opened his mouth to protest; then he shut it, and just gave in, reaching up to grip Mikey's wrist. "Thanks," he muttered, wincing as the blood rushed through his legs. "Um... Mikey, I...I, uh..."

Mikey cocked an eye ridge at him, and then mimed zipping his lips shut. "Not a word, bro. Promise."

"Thank you." Simple, but heartfelt gratitude. Casey leaned over and punched Mikey in the shoulder, lightly. Mikey grinned at him in response, and then the elevator doors were opening.

"Casey!" April was there, immediately reaching for him. "Hey, are you okay?" Her green eyes were filled with concern. Beside her, Raph and Donnie were peering through the doorway.

"Is Mikey alive?" Donnie asked worriedly.

"I won't blame you if he isn't," Raph chuckled. "Dude, four hours. I'd have snapped."

Casey pushed himself off the wall he'd been forced to lean against after gaining his feet, reaching for April's outstretched hands. "We're cool," he said easily, shooting Mikey a quick look.

Mikey slipped out of the elevator and immediately draped himself over his brothers. "I'm hungry!" Leo was behind them all, and he gave their leader a mournful look. "Feed me, Igor! Feeeeeeeed me! I thought I was gonna have to eat my elbow pads!"

The banter slid away as Casey breathed deeply, savoring the sights and scents of freedom. He met April's knowing gaze, and shrugged. "I'm actually doing okay," he said, as reassuring as he could be under the circumstances. "Really." He lowered his voice, leaning forward to whisper, "Ya know, Mikey isn't as stupid as he acts."

"I've always said that," April retorted mildly. "What made you change your mind?"

"I dunno," Casey said, shooting the orange-banded turtle a look. "He just understood, is all."

April looked slightly confused, but seemed to accept that. Casey hugged her and then pulled her after the turtles, towards the kitchen and the warmth and light of family.

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