A/N: This fic was an experiment – the summary was written before the fic, and was used as a plotbunny to craft the action.
The style is inspired by Harold Pinter's play Betrayal where the plot starts at the present and then the scenes move backwards through time to unravel how events happened. The last two sections continue forward from the present time again.
The world is based upon a mix of the 2003 cartoon and the 2007 movie. Rated T for mild language and action
I make no claim to the TMNT or the play Betrayal. As always I did have too much fun writing this.
Reviews are loved. Be excellent to one another!
A TMNT story of a cat, four brothers and some less-than-stellar decision-making skills.
Donatello crouched down, precariously balancing on one of the I-beams holding up the sewer roof and swore lightly under his breath. With his baby brother's limp form nestled in his arms and a yowling cat parasitically attached to the back of his shell, the teenaged turtle told himself, yet again, that this had been a bad idea. He could feel Klunk shifting back and forth in the canvas prison he had stuffed the cat into minutes ago, sending ripples of tension through his legs as he struggled to stay centered and listen.
Amidst the morose dripping of water down the cement walls he could make out the very faint disruptions in the sewer noises. The cessation of the rats' squall, the interruption of a stream of water before the sound reappeared and continued on again. The Foot soldiers may be able to mask their footsteps, but the landscape of the sewers noticed as they passed. Don's heart sank into his bowels. They were following him.
Michelangelo groaned softly, stirring in his brother's arms and Donatello had long since given up the farce that shushing him would make things better. Between Mike's added weight slowing him down and Klunk's incessant howls of protest, the Foot could have followed them blindfolded with their legs tied together.
One more huff of air went through Don's lungs as he moved forward. He was delaying making a decision on his final destination because there were too many places in the sewers that he did not want to lead the Foot to, and instead opted for at least getting off the unstable beams and catwalks and onto some solid ground. He didn't quite know how he was going to accomplish that with Mike in his arms and a backpack full of Klunk, but his nimble mind was trying to work on something.
He did know that if he got out of this alive and got back to the lair safely he was going to kill Raphael.
Five minutes ago
Water flew from the metal as Don's feet slid down the pipe and the butt end of his bo-staff impacted into the chest of the closest foot soldier. The black clad figure wobbled and spun his arms like a propeller before he tumbled from the ledge, his fingers just catching on the grate directly below as he swung in midair. The two Foot behind him dropped down to pull their companion up, giving the terrapin just enough time to act.
"Mikey?" He called, his breath burning as it ran in and out of his lungs. "Mikey?" Mike lay draped over one of the beams, groaning faintly and trembling as he stirred. His older brother hissed a breath through clenched teeth and called out "Mikey! Don't move! I'm coming for you!"
Putting his bo behind his back, he grabbed onto the ledge he was standing on and swung himself downward. At the furthest part of the arc he released his grip, flinging his body through the air and landing on all fours on the grate. He flew to Mike's side, checking him over and breathing a soft sigh of relief to not find any broken bones, and to find his pulse steady. His breathing was shallow and his eyes fluttered. Don was guessing a mild concussion, and some sort of drug from the weapon he was struck with, but at least he could move him.
In the corner Klunk stared petulantly at the dead end he was backed into, puffed out his fur like a feline porcupine, and started to hiss. Don took a quick look around. Behind him the Foot were pulling up their fallen member and he knew they would soon resume their attack. Gritting his teeth he darted out a hand and snatched up Mike's canvas backpack, and Klunk by the scruff of his neck. "Sorry, Klunk, I don't have time to do this nicely." As the cat howled and scratched his skin, he unceremoniously stuffed him into the canvas pack and yanked the drawstring tight, tying it off into a knot. Casting another glace to the recovering ninjas, he tossed the backpack onto his own back and gathered his brother up into his arms.
As the three Foot Soldiers regained their footing and started to climb down towards him, Don headed for the end of the grate, looked at the I-beam below, and uttered a silent prayer. His best guess was that the rusty metal was still sturdy enough to hold them, and he added into his prayer the wish that Mikes hadn't been recently pigging out on pizza. As footsteps rang out from the pipe directly above Don's head he took a running start and leapt off the grate, landing hard on the I-beam below. The entire length of it vibrated, while a powder of dust and concrete showered down upon Don's shoulders. It took several seconds for him to realize that he had, in fact, survived… and another second or two for his body to stop shaking. The Foot stood yards above him, watching with incredulous expressions as if they believed the jump was impossible. The purple clad turtle decided it wasn't the time to question their luck, and he started to run - as fast as his precarious bridge would allow him.
Ten minutes ago
"You think he'll jump if I hold the bag out for him?" Michelangelo asked, gesturing to his backpack.
Donatello looked up to his brother who was balancing on an I-beam some twenty-five feet above the floor - and the mewing cat that was perched on a bit of platform that hadn't been struck when the roof was built. He was still lingering above Mike's head and out of reach. "I don't think Klunk understands the meaning of jump or the concept of a safety net."
"I wanna know how he got up there in the first place." Mike asked while testing the strength of a cross beam to see if it would support his weight shimmying up it.
A rope looped up on the I-beam and several seconds later his older brother appeared, swinging his foot up and pulling himself level. "He's a cat, Mike. They can get places we couldn't dream of."
The orange-clad turtle grinned and took the rope, flipping it around the next level and bringing it back level to be tied off for a handhold. "I can dream of some pretty strange things, bro." He stuck his tongue out as he climbed, pulling himself one level closer to Klunk. "Though I'm not sure I wanna dream of this later." Slowly he started to test the strength of the beam he'd landed on, looking over to the grated walkway on the other side of wall. "Score!" he crowed. "I think I can make it from here!"
He had gotten about halfway down the beam when he realized that Donatello wasn't answering. "Don?" No answer. "Donnie?"
Michelangelo was just starting to turn around when Don's voice called up, tense and worried. "Mike, look out!" He snapped his head back up to see a lithe black figure melt from the shadows behind a large cross-support and groaned.
"What are you guys doing here?" He pulled one nunchaku, keeping the other hand clenched to the rope for support.
The ninja smiled and pulled out a short, glimmering knife… advancing. Her body – at least Mike thought it looked like a female – was slender and lithe. She seemed at ease on the precarious foothold, thirty some feet in the air. Below him he could see two more ninja advancing on Donatello. Right. No one messed with his cat and got away with it.
She ran at him, and he sent a sweeping kick to her feet, forcing her to jump rather than strike him, and while she was occupied in the air he flicked out his nunchaku, striking her across the front of the shoulders and jaw. She landed down in a crouch, gripping the I-beam with white knuckles to keep her balance. The teenaged turtle grinned. "You're messing with the wrong dude, Sis."
"You overestimate your abilities." She hissed back.
Mike took that as a challenge and cleanly hopped over her, leaving her wavering in the middle of the beam. "You wanna pick this back up when we're on the ground? I mean, that way if you fall you don't have very far to go." He grinned, skittering quickly to the end of the beam and hitting the more solid grated area. Klunk was just ahead of him, almost within his reach. The female Foot turned and hissed again at him, pulling herself up to her feet.
Mike took his backpack off, holding it in his off-hand like a weapon, and using one of his nunchaku in the other, waiting for her approach. She carefully picked her way down the beam before breaking into a dead sprint, leaping into the air; but Mike had the better ground. He struck her side with the nunchuck as a distraction. She batted it away and leaned forward to slash at him as she landed, suddenly feeling something wrap tightly against her ankle. As her velocity brought her downward, the terrapin yanked upwards on the body of the backpack, the strap catching on her foot and shifting her balance suddenly. Her entire frame crashed down to the grate, sending a shockwave through the structure. Above, Klunk howled in terror and was shaken off the corner, twisting in midair. Mike watched breathlessly until the orange form landed on his feet on the platform below. "Whew. Good thing you're a ninja, Klunk." He whispered to himself.
"Too bad you're not." The female Foot spat between wheezing coughs. Despite her pained posture on the floor, she had enough wherewithal to keep hold of her knife and drive it into Michelangelo's ankle.
The orange-banded turtle gave a small yelp and jumped backwards, pulling the little implement out of her hand and tossing it aside. "You need a lesson in manners." He grabbed her and rolled her to her back, dropping a knee onto her side by the ribs to keep her pinned. He reached out for the backpack to use the strap to tie her arms when a wave of nausea passed over him.
Perhaps ten feet below, Donatello was having troubles of his own. Fending back one Foot Ninja on his level, he was also trying to keep a second from joining the fray. He snapped his bo staff out, trying to listen to what was going on above him. When he heard his younger brother call out his name, Don's heart skipped a beat and he rapped his opponent on the head hard enough to give himself several seconds to check the area and look up. The female opponent Mike was facing kipped up and delivered a punishing kick to Mike's side, as he gripped the railing of the platform, doing a very good impersonation of a drunken freshman in a bar fight. It didn't take a genius to figure out that her blades were likely coated with poison – though being a genius never hurt. Being a genius didn't stop the sick feeling he got as he helplessly watched Mike stumble to, and then topple over the edge of the platform either. He felt his pulse race as his brother landed hard on the I-beam below.
Donatello screamed his brother's name and jumped up to grab the beam above his head to pull himself one level closer. Mikey's eyes fluttered, but he managed just enough coherent thought to grab the beam he was on and steady himself before he rolled off. With an arm and a leg draped over either side, his eyes rolled back and his head fell onto the cold steel. Donatello took a quick location check of the Foot surrounding him and jumped over to a wet rickety pipe, running for all his life to reach his brother.
Twenty minutes ago
"Heeere Klunkers… here kitty kitty kitty…" Michelangelo's voice was pleasant and coaxing as he rounded the next corner. He crouched down to inspect the small crawlspaces for signs of eyes as his brother broke away, inspecting the intersection and trying to figure out just how far they had come. Having no luck, Mike rose to his feet once again. "How far are we?"
"Almost a mile I'd guess." His older brother replied, trying very carefully to sound neutral.
The youngest hung his head. "We're not gonna find him out here, are we?"
Donatello bit his lower lip; not wanting to confirm that, despite the fact that he felt it was the most reasonable answer. "He'll come back on his own. Once he gets hungry."
"But what if he's injured?" Worry seared through Mikey's blue eyes. "What if he can't find his way back? He doesn't go out this way ever."
Stepping forward, Don put a hand on his brother's shell. "He knows the way home."
Mike gave a tired, world-weary sigh. "Can we just try one more block?"
The pleading expression in the blue eyes sunk into the older terrapin's conscience and he found himself nodding yes before he even thought about it. "Sure. One more block."
Mike resumed the lead, calling out once again as they traveled down another junction that looked exactly like the last three. The only difference was the big clearing up ahead, and a strange echoing call.
No, not a call. A meow.
"Klunk?" Michelangelo rushed forward, his voice overflowing with excitement. He was rewarded by another, clearer meow as he burst into the massive chamber. "Klunk! I found you!" He clapped his hands in pure delight as he looked up, spotting the precious kitten on one of the top girders.
"Great, we found him!" Donatello walked up behind his sibling and took stock of the situation before asking in a quiet tone. "Now how are we going to get him down?"
Thirty-five minutes ago
The leader of the black-clad ninjas stopped, holding up a hand. It was a routine scouting mission, owing to the fact that stranger and stranger things keep cropping up in the sewers from extra-dimensional beings to their ever-present terrapin enemies. So on a regular basis the Foot sent out patrols from their territory to search the immediate area, perhaps venture farther for signs of their foes.
There it was again – a mewing sound. The leader frowned and looked at his team, their expressions clearly reading they had heard it, too. Who loses a cat this deep in the sewers?
Someone who lives in the sewers, that's who.
The team of three spread out as they came to the large open hall where a soft feline cry was echoing down from above. Each of them slipped into the shadows and hunkered silently into a hiding spot, waiting for the inevitable appearance of the cat's owners.
Forty-five minutes ago
Klunk lifted his head, shivering in the dank chill of the sewers, his ears flicking about. Having narrowly escaped from a sewer rat that was nearly his size had not rested well on the feline's mind and he decided that higher ground was in order. Revving his tail up for the jump he flew through the air. His paws landed on a tiny ledge and he paused for a second to catch his balance with his tail before working his way down the sliver of a path.
He walked slowly, reminding himself to breathe, and took in his surroundings. Above were a series of big platforms and beams like the ones in the top of the house. The ones he could not reach for there was no ledge to jump on. But here he could work his way upwards. This made sense. He was, after all, king of all he surveyed. The higher up he got the more he could survey – therefore climbing to the apex would make him powerful.
A powerful King of everything he surveyed would have a better chance of surveying his warm home and green servants to carry him back there. This plan was brilliant.
A quick series of leaps and Klunk made his way upwards, beam by beam into the infrastructure that held up the streets and the subways, surrounded and protected the sewage processing stations and everything else the city blissfully forgot about. He was focused on one goal: reach the top, get home.
But when he reached the top all he could see was the dismal stretch of floor he had just crawled through. Feeling his heart thump against his furry chest he gave out a tiny, pitiful mew. Maybe they would hear him? But how could he get down? He ran back and forth on the beam looking for a safe jump. Back and forth. Back and forth. He lay down and gave another pitiful mew. Maybe this wasn't such a brilliant plan.
Two hours ago
You are not a crybaby. You are not a crybaby. It was Michelangelo's mantra. Not that he ever accused himself of being a crybaby, but it was something his brothers had teased him with in his younger years. Now, trudging through darkened sewers feeling panicked and alone while searching for his beloved pet he dearly wished to sit down and have a good cry. Not from fear like children do, but to release the frustration. To scream out at his brothers – his eldest brothers – the ones who chided him for being thoughtless, accused him of immaturity, and dismissed his ideas. Scream out at them for acting like all the things they blamed him for.
His legs ached, his shoulders hurt from his work and all he had really wanted to do when he got home was to sit down, relax, and play some video games with Klunk on his lap. That shouldn't have been too much to ask for. He made breakfast today, trained in the morning, helped Master Splinter get his medicinal herbs ready for drying and went to work. That didn't seem to matter much to a perfectionist like Leo or a hothead like Raph, but Mike felt he had earned his right to relax. Instead he was out in the sewers, cold and alone, missing all vital components of his plan for the night and it sucked. It made him want to cry.
Crying was better than destroying things, right? His first mantra had been 'you are not Raphael. You are not Raphael.' Despite how much he sincerely wanted to pull a Raph and break something. It wasn't his style. Besides, how much damage would he do to his finely formed, video game honed hands if he smashed them into something? The flash of anger was short and was quickly replaced by the far more Mike-like mantra of 'you will find Klunk. You will find Klunk and get home and with a bit of a shower and a big towel everything will be OK.' He had been smiling, calling out each new turn with a bright tone of hope as he searched for his beloved pet.
Every turn yielded nothing.
As the minutes passed into hours Michelangelo's sense of hope started to falter and was slowly replaced by sadness and frustration. His voice calling around each corner started to sound hollow, and there was no sign of Klunk anywhere. Finally he found a dry cement ledge and sat back against it. His breathing came in shuddered puffs as he worked to keep his calm. He wished now that he hadn't pushed Leo off, no matter how much he felt betrayed by his eldest brother. At least if Leo had come along, he wouldn't be alone.
He perked his head up. Was he hallucinating? Was Klunk calling him? Was he imagining Leo coming after him just because he was lonely?
"Hey, Mike, are you there?"
That voice was familiar. Michelangelo stood up and facepalmed. Donatello. They told him Donatello left looking for Klunk. Relief flooded into his features "Donnie? I'm over here!" As his brother rounded the corner and came into view Mikey's face cracked into a grateful smile. He was glad to have a companion, glad to find someone on his side and most glad to see the resolute focus of the Brainiac as he waved him forward.
Donatello sighed in mirrored relief. "I have been looking for you for over an hour."
"I'm trying to find Klunk."
"I know. Leo and Raph told me when I went back to the lair." Don looked apologetic but he waved his orange-clad brother forward. "I wanted to grab you because think I found some footprints."
Hope flooded back into Mike's veins and he smiled, heading off beside his sibling. His mantra changed again. You will find Klunk. Donnie will help you find Klunk. We'll all go back and laugh at Raph and Leo and we'll make them wear frilly aprons while they scrub. And maybe rub our feet for good measure. We deserve it.
Three hours ago
It burned. It burned like fire in his throat, in his eyes and on his skin. It burned and he was scared so he ran away from it. He ran away from the hands and the noises and the burning. He ran until his paws were sore and his lungs hurt. He ran until the burning stopped, and finally he looked around.
Klunk would never admit it to anyone but he was lost.
Certainly now a feline could not be lost, so therefore he would turn around and promptly find his way back home. Now that the burning was dulled he could find a proper solution to this mess. Yes, of course. He would simply turn around and walk back.
Was this the right direction?
Certainly it was the right direction for he was a feline and felines could not make mistakes. He would simply keep walking in this direction and he would get back.
This did not smell like home. It did not smell anything like home.
Klunk turned around again and considered the passages. Slowly he realized that there were a myriad of forks in every path, and it was impossible for his nose to tell which one led home or which way he can come from. Alarm started to creep into his gut. In the darkness he could see the eyes of the rodents sizing him up. Klunk puffed his matted fur out and hissed. No rodent was a match for a feline.
The sewer rat that waddled out looked like it had feasted on a full-grown Chihuahua for lunch and was ready for seconds. Klunk searched his mind and realized he had never seen a rat that big who wasn't Master Splinter and fear tore through his collected feline mind. The rat glared back at him with beady eyes that seemed to say it considered Klunk a promising supper. On second thought maybe a rodent was a match for a feline.
For the second time in one evening Klunk turned and ran until his paws bled.
Three hours, thirty minutes ago
Michelangelo walked into the lair, tossing his Cowabunga Carl helmet off to a side table. He was just about to shuck off his backpack when he paused like a person who had accidentally stepped on an electric shock panel. He lifted his beak and sniffed the air, his body tensing as the scent of lemon cleanser and cat dander hit his nostrils.
His bright blue eyes narrowed slightly as he slunk forward towards the kitchen, pulling his best impression of Leo in stealth mode. Inside Raphael's voice was tired and grumpy. "I already washed that spot, get over to the other corner!"
"The other corner doesn't have any spots. This one does!" His eldest brother barked back, sounding authoritative.
Raphael's voice took on a growling tone. "It's my corner. I'm washing it."
Mikey put his hands behind his back, and strolled in, looking as casual as he could for someone who had just popped up out of nowhere. "What'cha guys doing?"
He wished he had a camera. At least that was the first thing that hit his mind. As soon as he spoke both of his elder brothers stopped bickering and looked back at him, posed on their hands and knees on the kitchen floor. With cleaning rags in their hands, and a bucket of soapy water in between them, each of them wore an identical wide-eyed expression of shock and shame. Priceless, Mike thought. And they say they're not alike. He was just about to lean back and laugh at them when he noticed exactly what they were cleaning.
The kitchen was covered in muddy orange blotches. The floor, the countertop, the kitchen table, the chairs, even bits of the sink and walls had splotches. But it was on the tabletop where the blotches seemed to clarify and transform into a telltale shape: paw prints.
There was a long pause before anyone spoke, and it was Leo who tried to sow some good will. "Mikey…" he started before trailing off, searching for words.
"Where's Klunk?" the youngest asked plainly. There was silence, and for many long moments three brothers just stared at one another.
"He got scared and ran out. Don's lookin' for him." Raphael, who never wasted words, hit his brother with the straight story - despite a glare from his eldest brother.
Michelangelo chewed his bottom lip as his eyes collected the rest of the evidence. The broken bottle, the lack of blood, the small bandage on Leo's hand, the spatters of orange in the main room and hall, and his older brothers scrubbing away like embarrassed maids. "I'm finding my cat." He said firmly.
"You shouldn't go alone." Leo cautioned, holding a hand out. Mike pushed it away.
"I think you two did enough damage already. I'll find Donatello." With that he turned on his heels and marched out of the lair like a turtle on a mission. Leonardo was just about ready to follow on his heels when a hand held him back. Raph shot his brother a silent, meaningful look and tossed a cleaning rag at him.
Point taken, Leo sunk back to his knees and started scrubbing again.
Four hours ago
Under different circumstances it would have been funny.
Leonardo sat, bandaging his hand and watching as Raphael chased the cat about the main rooms. Klunk was something approaching terrified, and Raph's heavy stomping and clumsy attempts to grab him were not making anything better. Leo would have put a quick stop to the whole circus and told his crabby brother to let the poor thing be if it wasn't for the fact that every time Klunk settled down somewhere, the first thing he would do was try to lick himself clean. And when he licked himself he got a mouthful of Tabasco sauce, which burned. Then Klunk would screech, and tear off as if he was being chased by demons. They had already saved two lamps and the VCR from feline destruction. So Raphael's course of thought was to catch the cat and force him into a bath – then they could let him go to lick his fur as much as his little heart desired. But it was clear that Klunk didn't want to have anything to do with the elder terrapins.
"He's got to get tired sooner or later." Raph groused from the floor, waving his hand under the couch.
The elder flexed his hand, satisfied that the cuts were only minor and wouldn't affect his training before looking back to the commotion. "The question is: will he get tired before or after you?"
"I ain't letting no cat get the best of me!"
Leo gave a silent nod, smirking slightly. If he hadn't been the major accomplice in this he would have reminded Raphael that the cat had already gotten the best of him. He paused and his smirk faded as he mentally corrected himself. The cat had already gotten the best of them.
Klunk tore out from under the couch with a low-pitched growl, and darted into the library. Raphael had been methodically closing doors, restricting the routes the cat could take to escape, so now it was an endless chase from the couch to the bookshelf and back to the couch again. "Leo, if you're done bleeding, why don't you flip that couch on its back so he can't hide under it?"
The eldest complied, flipping the sofa up onto it's back and stuffing a coat under the crevice while Raphael swatted at the back of the bookshelf. Like clockwork Klunk came tearing out into the main room, only to find his favorite hiding place upturned. His eyes were like saucers and they searched for a new safe haven, darting backwards and forwards as two green hands clamped about his midsection.
"Got ya!" Raph declared in triumph.
"What is going on?" a new voice demanded, the sound of the door accompanying it. Raphael looked up momentarily as his concentration broke for a split second to see a rather unhappy Donatello framed in the doorway. Klunk, however, felt his opportunity knock.
Like a streak of lightening the cat squeezed out of the red-clad turtle's grip in his moment of lapse, and ran directly for the first exit he saw: directly through Donatello's legs.
"No, Don! Shut the door!" Leo called in panic, stretching his hand out as if he could somehow catch Klunk, but it was too late. The cat threaded the newcomer's feet and the doorframe, screeching as he bolted off into the darkness of the sewers outside. All three brothers ran to the doorway, shining a light outside. Nothing. No sign of the retreating cat but the echo of his howl and a faint smell of cat dander.
Donatello turned back to his brothers and fixed them with a critical stare. "Let me guess…"
Four hours, fifteen minutes ago
"Hold him, hold him, hold him!" Leo's voice was rising in pitch with every word, as he struggled to shake the fiery orange liquid out onto the brush.
"I AM holding him!" Raphael snapped back, his hands outstretched to their apex as Klunk gave another long low howl that trailed off into a rumbling growl. "Hurry up!"
"I AM hurrying" Leo grunted, juggling brush in one hand, bottle in another and trying to weave both through his brother's arms to reach the snarling feline. "We should have gotten this stuff out of the bottle before we started."
"This was YOUR plan, fearless leader." Raph countered, turning his head away as Leo first set brush to fur.
"And this was YOUR idea." He countered. Struggling to work the brush across his fur, Klunk let out another venomous howl. Leo grit his teeth, finally shedding himself of the bottle by setting it on the edge of the sink. "Let me take his collar."
Raph was all too grateful for a shift in positions and the brothers worked their way around the cat, still pinning him inside the dry sink basin. Klunk scrabbled his claws against the ceramic base, yowling once again as the brush hit his fur. In his own catty way he vowed to make them pay for this indignity.
"I don't think you got enough on there." Raph pointed out, frowning.
"Hand me the bottle." His blue-clad brother requested, struggling to get a hand free.
He gave a nod, fishing for it amidst the tangle of arms and fur, passing it over to Leo who caught it in the hand with the brush. At precisely that moment Klunk splayed all four legs and pushed against the sides of the sink hard enough to buck-up. Leo felt a stab of panic as the bottle spun precariously in his hands and went flying.
He chased it, even as it hit the counter, bounced off the faucet and shattered in the sink. An explosion of runny dull orange liquid flew from the cracked form, splashing Raph in the plastron and coating large parts of Klunk's fur.
Leo's hand closed around the jagged pieces just as they bounced upwards from the bottom of the sink, as if trying to prevent the mess. His hands were coated in orange mingled with small cuts from the glass welling through with bright red blood. There was a second delay before Leo realized they burned like fire.
He howled in pain and snapped both hands backwards, his uninjured one going to cover the one cut by the glass, red and orange spatters hitting the countertop. With half the guards off duty, Klunk saw his chance for escape. Twisting his head he bit down hard on the thumb of the remaining guard.
"DAMMIT!" Raphael yelled, releasing the cat and sending a stream of curse words at the retreating furry form. Klunk leapt from the sink, trailing blotchy orange pawprints over the counter, across the floor and up the table as he made his escape into the hall.
Leonardo shoved his injured hand under the faucet, wincing. "We gotta clean this up."
Raph was surprisingly silent and nodded a shallow accord. "I'll get the first aid kit."
Four hours, thirty minutes ago.
Leo's eyes widened as Raphael pulled his prize from his coat pocket, handing it over. "That is the biggest bottle of Tabasco sauce I have ever seen."
"I got it from Casey. I guess he practically drinks the stuff." He grinned, shrugging his coat off and tossing it on a hangar. "Now all we need is a brush and a cat."
"I found his brush." The elder held up his prize and gestured to Mike's bedroom, "and I know exactly where we can find the cat. I put towels in the kitchen and cleared off the counter."
The red-banded turtle blinked a bit in surprise. "The kitchen? I though we would use the bathroom?"
Leo shook his head, unwavering in his plan. "The kitchen has a much bigger sink and will give us more room than the shower. We should be able to just pin him down, sprinkle some on, brush it in and let him go."
Raph shrugged in agreement. "Alright, lets go get the cat."
Six Hours Ago
"Noooo!" Leonardo's cry of frustration ripped through the lair, making Raphael pause from his workout. Dropping the mitts he was wearing by the punching bag, he strolled into the main room to see what trouble his brother might have cooked up. He found him kneeling by the coffee table carefully wiping down pages of one of the old journals on meditation Master Splinter had gifted him – a prized possession for their fearless leader.
"What's wrong?" the red-clad ninja started conversationally, with maybe only a hint of pleasure at his brother's pain.
Leo shook his head, removing the cloth to show a large rusty orange and grey wet stain spattered over the pages of the journal. "That cat has a problem."
His brother didn't laugh, not this time. Well, maybe inwardly, but his outward expression was calm. "At least this time you weren't in the line of fire?"
"This book isn't waterproof! The ink ran on the other page!" He flipped the page carefully to show the damage and the dividing pieces set between the pages to prevent further damage. "I swear that cat has it out for me."
Raphael perked a brow behind his mask. "Uh, Leo… I don't think cats target specific people."
The eldest shook his head. "I swear ever since I punished him for breaking Master Splinter's teapot that cat has an agenda."
For the second time his brother didn't laugh, but he wanted to. "Maybe he's just got a problem with puking up fur?"
"A big problem." Leo agreed, finally laying the book on a top shelf where it could dry undisturbed. "There has to be something we can do without taking him to a vet or forcing April to buy special cat food for us all the time."
"I already gave my idea and it was shot down." Raph countered, leaning against the doorframe and watching as his sibling paced.
Leonardo waffled a bit, staring at his damaged journal, to Raphael and back. "Mike's afraid it will hurt Klunk."
"How can it hurt him? People use the stuff on food, and it's not like we're making him eat it. We're trying to make him not eat it so he stops licking himself. Just a little should do the trick."
"Just a little?" his tone was cautious.
"Just a little." Raphael confirmed. "And I know where to get some."
Leo bit his bottom lip, chewing on his decision before giving a small nod. "Get some."
One day ago
Raphael fought valiantly to keep a smile off his beak when he heard the telltale ominous low meow followed by their fearless leader's very un-ninja-like "Aiyeee! No! Klunk noooo! Not the bed!" He was winning the battle, too, until Leo appeared running through the lair holding Klunk out at arm's length like he was a live grenade. The cat's shoulders and stomach rippled as he hacked and coughed, finally sending a juicy mat of regurgitated orange fur covered in slimy cat-puke careening onto Leo's plastron where it stayed. "Ugh! Klunk! You couldn't wait for the litter box?" The eldest chided as if the cat could understand. He dropped the little orange furball who scrambled under the couch.
Turning, he caught his red-clad brother watching him from the main room with a grin plastered over his face. "Next time hold the cat facing away from you, genius." Raphael recommended.
Leonardo's expression fell, and he put his hands on his hips, the hairball stuck to his chest like a badge of his wounded pride. "Don't laugh."
Raph gave him a little mock-salute and watched in barely concealed delight as their leader turned and marched towards the bathroom. As soon as the door closed the red clad turtle leaned back, holding his sides as he laughed so hard it hurt.
Two days ago
The sound was low and groaning, like a siren call before a storm. A guttural meow burst forth from the little cat. Donatello looked up from the book he was reading, his expression screwed up in confusion. "Is Klunk OK?"
Leo snapped his head up from the slow kata he was performing in the adjacent room and headed to the doorway. "Stop him! He's gonna puke!" he called to his brother.
"What?" Don asked, looking from the cat to his sibling and back. Seconds later Klunk proceeded to open his mouth and start to retch, long streams of orange drool preceding a massive wet hunk of fur. For a second he wondered if Leo had become a feline psychic. "How did you know?"
The eldest was already halfway across the room, fetching paper towels. "He always does that before he pukes up a hairball. Always."
"You have experience with cat puke?" Raphael called from the kitchen, bringing his bowl of cereal with him as he tailed Leo back out into the main room.
"Not by choice. But he's been doing this a lot lately." Klunk skittered backwards, prancing playfully around the wet pile he has left behind, as if he was ecstatic to be rid of it and now considered it a toy. "Gross, Klunk, get back." Leo swatted him away and knelt to clean the spot.
Grinning, Raph put his hands to his mouth and called out in boisterous tones "Hey Mikey! Come get yer pukey cat!"
The summoned one appeared a few seconds later, jogging over from the back hallway. "Hey guys, what's going on?" He asked, eyes blinking in curiosity.
Leo stood, depositing the puke-sodden paper towels directly in his youngest brother's hands. "Here, these are for you. Courtesy of Klunk."
"Oh, no! Hairballs! Aww…" He tossed the towels in the trash and went to look for his pet, speaking in a soft, soothing tone. "Klunkers, you OK? You feel better now?"
"Feel better? He just upchucked a wad of hair the size of a dead mouse on the rug. I'm not sure that fits the definition of feeling good, Mikey." Raphael grinned, playing devil's advocate. It earned him stares from Donatello and Leonardo, both of which he ignored.
The youngest scooped the cat up tenderly, scratching him behind the ears. "He'll be OK. It'll be fine."
"Fine?" The eldest wrinkled his beak and crossed his arms across his chest. "He vomited hairballs up into Master Splinter's slippers last week, on my bed twice, left a pile that I slipped on in the bathroom, and another on the hallway rug. This has got to stop."
"Klunk can't help it, it's just something cats do." Michelangelo replied, comforting the cat as he petted him. "April said maybe she could get him some special food."
Donatello sat down, sounding diplomatic. "April can't come down here all the time just to bring Klunk food, but I'll look to see if we can easily get him or make him something to prevent the hairballs."
"Yanno, I was reading that if you didn't want a pet to lick or chew something you need to cover it with something that tastes gross to 'em like lemon juice or vinegar or hot sauce." Raphael tossed out from over on the couch.
His purple-clad sibling considered this for a moment. "But they're talking about smearing that something else – not the pet itself. Like if your dog is chewing on your cupboards you can smear the edges with vinegar and not hurt them. On the pet itself I would consult a vet."
"How can we get Klunk to a vet when we live down here?" Leo countered, ever the rational voice.
The red-banded brother waved them both off. "I'm telling you a little Tabasco won't hurt him. It's even pretty much the same color as his coat." He grinned, pleased with the cleverness of his idea, while his brothers displayed various expressions from disinterest to outright disgust.
Mike fixed his brother with the most serious look he could muster. "Raphael… do NOT put hot sauce on my cat." He folded his hands across his plastron in a look that said this was his final say on the matter.
As soon as his feet hit the ground Donatello knew that any benefit of better balance and familiarity with the sewers was lost. He could hear the Foot gaining ground and he was looking for the best place to engage them. His heart was ringing against his chest as he came to an open area – an inspection junction. Now or never.
He unloaded Mikey, rolling his brother underneath a solid slab of stairwell concrete and was just about ready to divest himself of his Klunk-pack when he heard their footsteps approaching. No time. He slung the bo staff from his back and advanced to the side of the door, reaching up for a handhold to climb.
Foot ninja were well trained, but predictable. They would send their strongest up front to enter, and defend against both sides knowing that many enemies would use the wall for cover and press the attack on whoever entered the door. But they rarely through in three dimensions which Master Splinter had said was a terrible oversight. It was also a great boon for Donatello who thought that two against one was far preferable to three against one. Most of these junctions put a thick concrete frame around the door to solidify the wall as a whole and Don stood on the little ledge afforded by the frame, waiting for his prey to enter.
The black form lingered, looking one way, then the other, and finally leaping in when he heard Michelangelo's muffled moan. He looked around realizing that there was one turtle missing and as he turned his back to the wall Don struck. Flying down from above, his descent was punctuated by a shrieking battle cry from Klunk. He drove the end of his bo staff into the back of the ninja's neck and then snapped it side to side, battering him about the head until he sunk to the floor. The terrapin turned, facing the remaining two ninja who shook off their second of shock and entered a fighting stance. The taller pulled out a thin blade, similar to the one Mike was struck with and Donatello gave a dry swallow.
Soundlessly, both attacked at once. The turtle lashed out, striking the first in the gut with his staff, keeping her at bay just long enough to concentrate on the larger fighter. He slashed with his weapons in a quick series of blows, he parried with the staff, two more deflected by Don's shell and the last he just barely caught with an open-hand block, pushing his assailant to the side. He shuffled backwards, taking in a breath and lashing a strike out to the back of his shoulders and then a downward blow near his neck. He tucked the bo staff under his arm and advanced as his enemies were slightly dazed, planting a solid kick into the back of the male Foot ninja's knee and forcing him to the floor.
The female rose, leaping over her fallen companion and striking Don with her fist into his plastron, knocking the air from his lungs. She lashed forward with another punch to his throat before stripping his bo staff from his limp grasp and kicking it off to the side, before she pulled her own weapon.
He felt her blows rain down on his chest and shoulders as he struggled to fend off the hand bearing the poisoned knife. Finally he caught her wrist, taking a jab to the kidney in the process. He twisted the arm around, bending the wrist so the nerves felt pain. She gasped lightly as he forced her to drop her weapon and then bent her double, bringing a knee into her chest. She coughed and collapsed to her knees and he grabbed for his staff, but something stopped him just before he could reach it.
His entire chest yanked backwards as if it was tied to something and Don gave a muffled gasp when he realized he was tied to something. The second ninja was grabbing the backpack. Klunk screamed from his prison and Don felt claws scrabble through the canvas and against his shell, and he reached around wildly to break the hold. The Foot member tugged and they both sailed backwards. It took every ounce of Don's training and focus to not land directly on his back and squash his brother's beloved pet. He landed on his side, and thankfully he broke part of his fall by landing on the Foot Ninja, who immediately retaliated by kneeing Donatello in the kidney.
Hissing in pain he reached backwards again to try to pull the man around, but all he hit was fabric, and when he pulled he got the black grilled hood the Foot wore in his hand. 'Crap' he thought to himself and tried to roll to his feet and get his bearings, but the same tug brought him crashing back down. Klunk gave a second scream and there was a soft snap and something let go.
The foot ninja's eyes widened as the drawstring holding the bag closed snapped and the contents of the back flew towards him. All nine pounds of tormented, terrified, hysterical Klunk shot into his face in a flurry of fur and claws. As the terrapin recollected his bo staff, the ninja screamed, trying to dislodge the cat before it tore through his eye sockets. When he finally tossed it to one side, tiny rivers of blood were draining down his face from a myriad of claw marks and Donatello was standing over him. A second later the bo staff impacted with his temple and the world went black.
There was a blur to the back of the room and Donatello's first thoughts went over to Michelangelo, but seeing him unaffected he calmed himself for a moment. The female ninja. He had lost track of her. He swallowed dryly, stilling himself to listen for her advancement hearing a slight wheeze behind his left side moments before she struck. The poisoned blade flashed in the air and Donatello spun, rapping her hand away feeling the knife skid harmlessly down the back of his shell. As she struggled to regain her balance, he planted a solid kick into her chest and a downward punch that forced to the ground where she fell with a thick thump. Wheezing slightly she put her hands up to block, but it was too late, the turtle had recovered and delivered the final blow to her temple, knocking her into unconsciousness.
Klunk was by the door, panting with his tongue out as Donatello whirled around checking the area. All three Foot ninja were still. The cat gave him a panicked look and then his yellow eyes flitted to the backpack. "Klunk…" the turtle started as calmly as possible, but the cat was uninterested in being calmed. With one last look at Donatello he turned tail and ran through the doorway and down the corridor. The purple-banded turtle cursed softly. He gathered up his baby brother and the shredded remnants of the backpack, chasing Klunk's shadow down the passageway. He could hear the huffing of the tiny critter as he set Mikey down and got to his knees. Yellow eyes shone out from underneath a large crack in the stonework. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty…" he called in a quiet, desperate tone, only to watch as Klunk slid backwards just out of his reach. "Please Klunk, just let me take you home."
Klunk gave an angry, irritated growl in response. Don closed his eyes for a second, and he felt the threat of a major headache. Opening them, he looked back down the hallway where he had left the foot soldiers and reconsidered. "Alright. Stay there. Don't move and don't climb anything." He wished, hoped and prayed that despite the fact the cat couldn't understand English that he would stay put. "I have to get Mike home and I'll be right back."
Slowly he clambered to his feet and scooped up his brother, making the long arduous trek back to the lair.
Several hours later
Raphael wrinkled his nose as he set down another tiny chuck of tuna. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty…" he called out dryly.
Lounging several feet away Donatello shook his head. "You can't say it like that. You have to sound pleasant, relaxed, coaxing."
His brother gave him a disgusted grimace and tried again, his deep voice sounding foolishly sugar-sweet. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty…" as he backed up, Klunk's mud-spattered form slunk forward to eat the farthest pieces of the trail. Raphael moved forward to catch him but the cat flicked a glance upwards in paranoia and darted back under a crack in the sewer wall. He groaned in frustration. "How long do I gotta do this?"
"Until Klunk is back in the lair." Don replied firmly.
The red-clad brother rolled his eyes. "That's over a dozen blocks away."
"This wasn't my idea. You and Leo agreed. We finished with the Foot and now he's cleaning the lair and you're bringing Klunk back." He watched as Raph threw his hands up in frustration and added, "Before Mikey wakes up."
"I don't see why he's gotta have that stupid fleabag…" the older ninja started before trailing off. He could see in his brother's eyes that he wasn't going to win this argument.
Donatello's voice was incredibly calm, almost scientific, yet there was something in the tone that told Raphael that he was enjoying this. "Mikey loves his pet, and Master Splinter allowed him to have it. This entire thing was started by him looking for Klunk – so when he wakes up Klunk had better be there." He paused and this time a grin actually appeared over his beak, "besides – Master Splinter's not home yet and he doesn't know… yet."
Raph groaned, knowing all too well the ways of brotherly blackmail. Turning back towards the shadows where Klunk's yellow eyes were peeking out he sighed and laid down yet another bite of tuna. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty…"