Author's Note: this was inspired by setoangel01's awesomely cute comic of April kissing Raphael and used with her permission. I have some ideas on developing the Raphril relationship in a series I started with "Release" and this fic would fall outside of those – it was just so cute an idea I couldn't resist! I'm not sure yet if I'll write the other stories I'm thinking of so we'll see. Hope you all enjoy this and thanks for reading!
Get it together O'Neil, it's just a freakin' knee, April thought fiercely.
But still her heart continued to pound.
It had been five minutes – or maybe ten – or hell, maybe an hour, she had no way of knowing since she had lost track entirely of what was happening on screen - since Raphael's knee had bumped against hers.
Five minutes, or maybe an hour, that every muscle in her body tensed even as she maintained her casual slump on the sofa, not even flinching or glancing to the side but staring ahead as though nothing in the world was more riveting than Cheer Camp Massacre XII, that her heart had started to drum against her sternum in a beat so loud she was unspeakably grateful for the low but constant soundtrack of shrill screams from the television, that her hands had got clammy and tingled and her throat so dry she yearned to take a big refreshing swig of her cherry coke.
Except that – if she moved – he might too.
If she moved, even to lift her drink to her lips, it might startle him into shifting, moving his knee beyond the reach of her own. Leaving her knee cold and loveless once more, bereft of the kiss of his cap to hers.
She'd already learned that the hard way.
There had been last week, when they'd all been clustered up watching Crognard and they'd been side by side when Casey had leapt over the back of the sofa and beside her with a yahoo, shoving her so that she jammed up against Raphael. The snappish rebuke had died on her lips as her flesh registered the rock hard curvature of Raphael's biceps and she had instead simply settled mutely and at an awkward slant as though Casey's lanky body had her wedged impossibly between them, glaring at the television set and painfully aware in her peripheral Raphael was doing the same. Casey was gloatingly smirking at Donatello who sullenly took the armchair next to him and not for the first time April noted she seemed incidental to their tiresome feud. For a few delirious moments she had thrilled to feel the press of Raphael's arm against hers and then she had made the mistake of lifting a hand to push a lock of hair back over her ear.
Immediately, Raphael had got to his feet, muttering about dumb cartoons as he left the room and within seconds Donatello had taken his place and she'd endured the battle of stink eyes over the top of her head for ten endless minutes before stomping off to the kitchen herself.
Then, there had been the afternoon a couple days earlier she had taken him to the creek to show him the frogspawn and as they'd sat on the damp bank with their feet submerged in the cold, crystalline water, she'd danced her toes along the pebbled bed and they'd brushed his. They'd been snickering over lousy horror movies – the exact conversation that had led to their current "date" (which was how April was thinking about it even though she knew he was never going to actually ask her out, not that they could go out anywhere even if he did, so she was going to take what she could get and if that was a crummy low budget horror movie in a ramshackle farmhouse in the middle of nowhere at two am after everyone else was asleep, then so be it) – both of them mid-laugh at the exact moment the pad of her big toe identified the knobbly joint of his and immediately her heart had started racing as she looked at his smiling face, the smooth green of his skin dappled in the sun that filtered through the leaves overhead. Did he realise that was her? Did he just think it was debris in the water – a twig or a leaf? What was he thinking? And without breaking the thread of conversation, she'd rubbed her toes across his, slowly and deliberately, and in the next moment he'd jerked his foot away, standing up with a disparaging remark about frogspawn being about as interesting as watching moss grow.
And that was just two of the most recent incidents.
April sighed inwardly and dared a surreptitious glance from the corner of her eye at the red masked terrapin by her side. He seemed intently focused on the movie, brow furrowed and green eyes illuminated in the flicker of the screen, his mouth in a stern line. Entirely too intent, given the nature of their choice of entertainment. Moments ago (or had it been an hour?) they'd been MST3king with the best of them, Raphael's rapid-fire witticisms on the ludicrousness of the "plot" necessitating her to bury her face in a musty cushion more than once; mindful of waking the others and having their rare peace disturbed. Now, he was silent and still, as silent and still as she herself was and that told her loud and clear he was as aware of the intimate closeness their knees were engaging in as she was.
What was it going to take? She'd been sending him every signal she could think of for what seemed like forever and still he hadn't so much as even looked like he might be thinking of kissing her. Had she read him all wrong? Had she really misinterpreted those sneaky glances when he thought she wasn't looking, the tiny concessions like never ever going easy on her when they sparred but always getting her an icepack afterwards, how he always let her take the last of the popcorn or the chips or the m&ms? Was she wrong about the nature of the tension that increasingly stretched between them whenever they were alone together – a tension that, to her at least, was impossibly addictive. Wow, what if he just felt uncomfortable? Oh God – was she pulling a Casatello on him? Please, no – the irony would be unbearable, not to mention devastating.
But surely if that was the case he would've moved his leg by now, April told herself as she fixed her gaze back on the old television set, unseeingly watching as the scythe-wielding undead cheerleader resurrected from the previous film stalked a shrieking posse of her peers. Raphael wasn't the type to prolong physical contact if it wasn't necessary. He wasn't exactly cuddly.
And if he didn't feel the same way, then why did he get all quiet and furious whenever Casey and Don got especially ridiculous and offensive as they battled for her attention? Why did he stalk away with such an ugly glower constricting his face, as though he didn't trust himself to stay in their vicinity? Maybe he's just feeling a little brotherly protectiveness, a traitorous voice from the far corners of her mind whispered sneakily in her ear. Maybe he's just pissed Casey spends more time with Don these days. Maybe it just bores him.
No. No. She'd caught him checking her out more than once. Not often, but still. She didn't think he was even aware of it when he was doing it – it was never the slack-jawed ogle of a teenage boy with only one thing on his mind (so it seemed to her and so she told herself) – but a kind of furtive and slightly pensive concentration. Something that hinted at a deeper preoccupation. Something she suspected might cross behind her own eyes when she caught herself captivated by the ripple of his muscle beneath green scales, the flash of those bright eyes and the smart-ass smirk that infuriated her precisely because she found it so goddamn irresistible.
She wanted him to kiss her. April didn't consider herself old-fashioned, but seeing as how that smirk of his made her knees tremble so bad and her stomach play jumping jacks every single damn time, fuck him, if he was going to have that effect on her he could damn well make the first move. Let him put that cocky mouth of his where the money was.
April felt her cheeks flush hot at the thought and was relieved for the darkness they sat in, the glow of the television bathing them in a flickering wash of silver and blue. She had run through a thousand possible scenarios in her mind – like when she'd stumbled over a tree root while they'd been collecting firewood and he'd caught her effortlessly by the elbow and steadied her – what if instead of just smirking and remarking that a 'true kunoichi was always aware of her surroundings' before strutting on ahead, he'd just smirked and pulled her in close, pressing his lips to hers as the morning birds serenaded them from the branches above their heads. Okay and maybe made that crack about true kuniochis too, cos he was kinda cute when he was giving her shit. Or maybe when they were mucking out the chicken coop and he'd chuffed with a fondly amused glimmer in his eyes and pulled that strand of straw from her hair before trying to stick it up her nose as she'd screamed and squirmed away – what if instead he'd pushed her hair back over her ear and cupped her head before leaning in and bringing their mouths together. Or that sudsy dishwater fight they'd had while washing the dishes after dinner that time and she'd chased him with a sponge bulging with grotty water and he'd turned whipfast, grabbed her wrist and thrust it above her head, his powerful hand clasping over hers and squeezing so that all that filthy water showered down on her as he laughed, drenching her so her shirt plastered to her skin and her hair clung to her neck and she screamed so loud the others came running to find out who was being murdered – what if instead of that, he'd just grabbed her wrist and yanked her to him and bent her backwards while he kissed her. What if?
Actually, she'd been pretty pissed off at him after that one – its unrealised potential for a romantic interlude not occurring to her until he dumped an armful of fresh lavender in her lap the next day and nonchalantly suggested she could infuse her next bath with it. True, he'd spoiled the gesture a little by remarking that her furious and frantic shower after their water fight hadn't quite washed out 'the dirty dish stank', but by that point she was already so smitten the flowers were enough. Plus she hadn't been so enraged at the time she had failed to note his laughter abruptly fading when he'd seen how a wet tee-shirt looked and how quickly he'd made himself scarce after that.
But for all those moments so ripe with potential, here they were just the same, sitting stiffly side by side with their knees pressed together, in the dark quiet of late night solitude and watching one of the lousiest horror movies ever put to film, the absolute perfect kind to make out to, no closer to getting anywhere than ever before.
April realised she was pouting, her brows drawn together in a tight knot above her nose, so lost in her ruminations she hadn't even been properly appreciating the feel of their kneecaps rubbing and boy, if that's how hard up she was things were bleak indeed. On screen, the final three cheerleaders were holding a voodoo ritual to send the spirit of Zombeader back to Hell and April focused enough to note wryly that all of them were inexplicably in their underwear. It was exactly the sort of thing one of them would've commented on by now but that the silence just echoed between them further testified to the fraught weirdness of the moment.
Why hadn't he kissed her yet anyway? Maybe he really didn't want to. Casey and Donnie – that was just some weird kind of fluke. Boys never really noticed her. She wasn't pretty or stylish or patient or accommodating enough for guys to pay attention to. If Raphael were human and they went to school together, would he be into her? Probably not. She'd just be some kind of geek to him. With way too much baggage. As the oozing reanimated corpse of the Zombeader staggered into the chalk-drawn pentacle (that wasn't voodoo!), crazily wielding her scythe (and why a scythe?) and scattering the underwear clad cheerleaders, April dared another little glance at Raphael. His arms were folded across his plastron and his jaw was set hard, his eyes glittering stonily in the reflected glare from the set. He didn't look exactly thrilled. Oh god, what if she was pulling a Casatello on him and he was just trying to spare her feelings, like she did with them? April's heart thudded dully at the thought. She'd probably had the wrong idea all along and been making a total creep of herself.
The possibility hit her with such a wave of horror that she involuntarily twitched and Raphael started beside her and shifted his leg away, as she knew he would, a muttered "sorry" barely audible beneath the wailing shrieks of a cheerleader being hacked to cornsyrupy pieces.
Cheeks burning, April gulped back several mouthfuls of warm coke, her stomach doing miserable flipflops. Damn it. The coke hit her gut and burbled uncomfortably, the sickeningly sweet aftertaste tacky on her tongue. Salt. She needed salt.
Her hand scooped into the bowl of popcorn wedged between them and she crammed a handful of heavily salted and buttery kernels into her mouth, chewing hard as though she could munch away the tingling flush of adrenaline. Focusing on the movie, she cleared her throat and tried to act normal.
"Why do you think they keep taking off their clothes?" she tried, and if her voice sounded a little strained then she could always claim she was trying to keep it down.
Raphael snorted and plunged his own hand into the popcorn bowl. He didn't look at her and she didn't look at him – not directly anyway.
"Helps 'em ran faster - reduces drag," he offered and she giggled before she could stop herself, a girlish sound that made her cringe. Real smooth, O'Neil.
"Not much point in being able to run faster if they're just gonna run up the freakin' stairs," she noted dryly to recover, flicking an exasperated hand towards the screen as the final cheerleader – who had now lost her bra – hurtled up the stairs of the camp house, the Zombeader in lurching pursuit. Beside her, Raphael shifted his weight, the couch springs creaking, and she sensed his shoulder within inches of hers and wondered if she dared lean towards him. Maybe if she tucked her legs up under her it would give her a reasonable excuse…
"You really expectin' logic from a franchise that revolves entirely around undead cheerleaders harvesting the souls of other cheerleaders for Satan's cheer squad?" he queried her sardonically.
April grinned, relaxing a little as their banter reminded her just why she had fallen for Raphael in the first place. "Ah. So that explains the scythe. I must've missed that critical plot point."
And she reached for another handful of popcorn just as Raphael did.
His fingertips brushed her knuckles, sending a jolt through her that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and her heart skip a beat or six. They both jerked their hands back and for the first time since they had sat down on the couch they looked at each other and her cheeks flushed anew as their eyes locked and he grinned sheepishly, looking so damn cute her breath caught.
"Sorry," he said, and his voice sounded a little strained itself. "You go."
"No, it's okay," she replied, a note or two higher than usual, her hand still tingling where he had touched it. "You go."
Then in a flare of light from the television set, his eyes were illuminated and for an instant she saw straight through to the heart of him.
And in that rare, unguarded moment she knew beyond all doubt he felt exactly the same as she did and it terrified him and he was never, ever going to make the first move.
In the next instant she was leaning across the popcorn bowl, quickly, before she could change her mind, and he just had time to register what she was doing and what was about to happen and for his eyes to widen and that smart-ass mouth drop open without making a damned sound for a change before she shut her eyes. For a second she was terrified he would dodge but then her lips found his and she pressed them together fiercely, gratefully, a flood of endorphins crashing her system as the fantasy that lulled her to sleep every night finally became reality. His lips beneath hers were firm and smooth and tasted of butter and she was painfully, deliriously aware of the rest of him, so close next to her there on the couch in the dark, as a crummy horror flick played out before them, while his brothers slept upstairs and their home and everything they had ever known was horrifically ravaged miles and miles away. His scent was crisp and clean, reminding her of fresh spring water burbling straight out of the earth and she yearned to put her hands on him, to stroke the long, powerful thighs she had often admired, to test the texture of that plastron beneath her palms, to knead and rub the muscular arms – but his mouth hadn't moved beneath hers and instead she pulled back, blushing and trembling, licking butter from her lips, one arm crossing over her chest sheepishly, lifting her eyes apprehensively to his. Maybe she had been wrong, after all. Oh god, maybe she'd just screwed things up on a catastrophic level they could never recover from. Maybe she had literally just kissed one of her best friends when he didn't want to be and how could she ever apologise for that?
Raphael stared at her with what looked like a sort of perplexed horror, his lips slack and his eyes bright and she bit her lip and held her breath to keep the crushing tide of devastation at bay. Her throat began to tighten and her eyes prickled even as she readied herself to apologise and the dying screams of the final cheerleader in the background seemed the shrieking of her own squashed soul.
And then, quicker than she could blink, he jolted forward and his lips were crushed to hers, clumsy and clueless and utterly exhilarating and her entire body was suffused with a tingling delight as she kissed him back, twisting on the couch to get closer to him as he did likewise, the popcorn bowl tipping up and hitting the carpet with a dull thud. Her hands slipped up onto his shoulders and his found her waist, resting there tentatively, and even just that gentle pressure was enough to send a course of pure euphoria rocketing through her body. His skin beneath her palms was smooth and cool and daringly she tested his deltoids as their lips eagerly, experimentally slipped over each other in an intoxicating mess of flesh and excited breath and the tiniest flick of tongue. The muscle was exactly as firm and hard as she had expected and she couldn't help smiling against his mouth as coke and butterflies whirled madly in her tummy.
After a short eternity, he pulled back and though disappointed, she didn't chase him. He didn't take his hands from her waist and she didn't take hers from his shoulders and they looked at each other with shining eyes and she wondered if the grin on her face looked as dumb and dazed as his did.
At the same instant, they guiltily glanced around the room, searching for witnesses but all was dark and still as before, the only motion the flickering light of the television as the credits rolled, the only difference the scattered mounds of popcorn that now littered the rug at their feet.
April found herself suddenly shy to look at him again, even as she yearned to, even as the impulse to throw herself on him again welled up and she felt her cheeks redden for what must've been the millionth time that night and bit her lip, still tingling from where his had pressed.
And she had to look, because he was cute as fuck and she needed to see his stupid face right then more than she needed air.
He turned his head to hers at the same moment and she caught the bashful glimmer in his eye even as he quirked his lip and attempted for macho nonchalance. Nice try, tough guy, but you're still speechless. And the realisation sent a torrent of giddy delight racketeering throughout her as she gazed upon his adorable, dumb face and felt a helpless smirk run up her mouth, one that was quickly matched on his and they sat there in the dark living room in a broken down farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and grinned silently at each other in the thrilled flush of their first kiss.
"We missed the end of the movie," she finally said reproachfully, unable to help teasing a little and his grin fled, replaced by a startled expression.
And she laughed, clapping her hand to her mouth to stifle the sound that burbled impulsively up out of her, delighted to see him so confounded and without a damn thing to say for once, unable to stop staring at his mouth and wondering how long it would be before they kissed again.
Raphael was trying to scowl at her but he hadn't taken his hands from her waist and their lingering presence was more tantalising for all they weren't doing. Her heart hammered and despite her helpless giggles she had never been more aware of anything in her life than those huge three-fingered hands pressing gently, hesitatingly against her.
"You'll wake the others, shuttup," he growled with an edgy glance towards the blackened stairs and she saw her chance.
"Make me," she said pertly and his eyes snapped back onto her face and she saw the wary question in them, saw him check that she really meant what he thought she meant and when she met his gaze boldly, cheekily with her own, his eyes narrowed and a smirk ran up his lips and then he was tugging her to him and she went willingly, joyously and the third mash of their lips together was even more exhilarating than the first, the taste of his mouth seeming to enter her blood stream and sending her reeling as she leaned into him and he into her and the whole world beyond that couch with the rusty springs and the horrible brocade faded out.
April knew she was going to be exhausted the next day, that there was going to have to be a talk about what happened now and did they tell the others and that these few moments of captured bliss changed nothing about anything else that was wretched and fraught in their lives. But as she dared to run her hands up and around Raphael's neck, as they slid close enough on the couch that his thigh pressed against hers and their knees once again rubbed, as she parted her lips and tentatively allowed her tongue to dart out and touch the cleft between his, the daring contact sending a shiver through her that was met by the quiet hitch of his breath, she also knew that right then none of it really mattered. All that mattered was the then, on that moth-eaten old couch in a dark, creaking farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, and her first kiss shared with a mutant turtle with a smart mouth she'd silenced and a cocky smirk she'd wiped clean off his face.