"Okay," April said over her shoulder, "There's eggplant parm waiting in the oven, just set it for 350 about a half-hour before you're hungry, unless you guys are just gonna gorge yourself on wings all night, in which case you need to put it back in the fridge – "

She was rummaging around in her purse. They could hear her keys rattling but she didn't seem to be able to find them.

"I think we'll figure it out," Donnie replied, smiling without turning his head from the TV screen.

" – or it'll go bad and I got you that IPA you like on the bottom shelf," she sailed on, pulling her jacket on, "but I have no idea where the, uh – "

She absently mimed popping open a beer.

"Bottle opener, hon."

" – right, that's missing in action, but there's cans of that swill Raph likes in the crisper drawer."

"Hey!" Raph protested. But he was ignored. As usual.

She swooped into the living room with a sigh, and gave Donnie a warm kiss. She stepped back a bit and turned in a circle so he could admire her outfit. Her skirt twirled a bit, and Raph caught himself glancing at her legs almost against his will. Her wedding ring caught the bluish glow of the TV and sparkled briefly.

"Yeah? I dunno, should I change?"

"Never. You're perfect," Don said, gazing at her adoringly. April's face softened as she peered deeply into his eyes. Raph shifted in his seat and tried to stare fixedly at the football game, but he could hear the rustle of her skirt as she knelt down, and her soft murmur just for Don.

"You're okay?"

"Go." Donnie soothed, "I'm having bro time."

April beamed, then turned to Don's brothers, and announced to the room, "I love my man." Mikey grinned and raised his beer in a mock toast in Donnie's direction. Raph thought he might puke.

"Ok, I'll be home tomorrow for brunch," she said, swooping in to give Donnie a final peck on the cheek, "And hey, I might even bring a guest with me."

"Oh? That'd be nice," Don smiled. Raph bit his cheek and looked away. He couldn't stand to see his brother made a fool of like this, couldn't believe she would actually have the nerve to drag that scum back to the apartment and rub it in his face like that.

"Bye guys," she said

"Later, April," Leo said, "Sorry you couldn't stay."

"Yeah, I've just been saying I would, and – bad timing. Next time," she promised them.

"Lie," Raph told himself mentally, observing the tic of her neck muscles, the way her eye subtly scanned the room assessing their reaction, evaluating whether she seemed casual enough.

"Have fun," Donnie called, "Tell him 'Hi.' Y'know, from us."

Raph eyed the sappy, puppy-love face Donnie was making and resisted the urge to throw his half-empty beer can at his head. He must have been making some kind of face, because Leo subtly kicked him in the shin, and smoothly disguised the maneuver by settling back into the couch and placing his ankle over his knee in a lazy figure four.

"I'll text you goodnight," April promised Donnie, and finally, she was out the door. They heard the jangle of her keys and the deadbolt slide. There was a pause as the sound of her high heels faded down the hallway.

"'Tell him hi?'" Raph quoted at Don, deliberately ignoring Leo's earlier signal to drop it, "Just, 'Tell him hi, y'know, from us?!' " He jabbed sarcastic quotes in the air around his can of beer.

He felt Leo's posture stiffen in annoyance next to him.

"Yep," Donnie replied, deflecting Raph's attack just as he might have with his bo staff. "Just 'Hi.' Who's got possession, I wasn't even paying attention?"

"Giants are down by seven, Pats have the ball" Mikey hurriedly supplied, eager to circumvent the coming storm, "But it's fourth down, so they might go for a – "

"I'm not saying 'hi,' " Raph said, bluntly, "I'm not saying 'hi,' to Casey Jones. Look, I'm just gonna say what we're all thinkin' here. She's cheating on you. Again."

"Raph!" Leo admonished.

"It's not that, Raph, it's just, they're gonna get out late, and it's kind of a drive, and – " Donnie started explaining lamely, but Raph had already come too far and said too much to be deterred now.

"Look, that asshole as much as told me so, Donnie, I asked him point blank, and you know he can't wipe that shit-eating grin off his face when he's lying. I wanted to knock his fancy new teeth out, and I'm the one that usually likes the guy. How can you not see this?"

"Because I do see it," Donnie muttered under his breath.


Donatello sighed.

"I know," he said, simply.

Raph was brought up short, and could only blink for a moment. He made eye contact with Leo surreptitiously, and could see that even he was surprised by this turn of events. On screen, there was a muffled referee whistle, and the crowd booed ominously.

"Don't worry about it, Raph," Don said, coolly, and turned back to the game.

"Um," said Mikey, hesitantly slinking from the armchair "Who's ready for another cold one? Leo? Cuz I was gonna – "

"Don't WORRY about it?!" he turned to his brothers for an appeal, "Do you hear this shit?"

Mikey slunk guiltily back into the armchair, diversion failed.

Leo sighed, "Raph, you're not help – "

"What do you mean you KNOW?!" Raph exploded, "And that's it? How long has this shit been going on, Donnie?!"

Leo put a restraining hand firmly on Raph's bicep, "That's none of our – ."

"The HELL it's not!" Raph said, smacking Leo's hand away and jostling his beer so a few drops fell onto the coffee table and the carpet.

"Coasters," Mikey interjected feebly.

Raph wheeled on Donatello again, jabbing an accusing green finger his way, "How can you just SIT there and let her walk out the door?! That's your wife! Your. Wife, Donatello!"

Don shrugged and simply said:

"I love her."

"So you just let her GO?" Raph asked, his eyes round in shock.

Donatello just nodded.

"And then she comes home. To me."

"Leo," Raph said, turning to his right, "Talk to him."

Leo shifted uncomfortably in his seat, "I think what Raphael is…we're just worried about you Donnie. I mean, I love April too, but you shouldn't have to just shoulder this. You deserve – "

"You deserve not to be two-timed by your own damn WIFE!" Raph roared, "Geezus, aren't you PISSED? Isn't this KILLING you? It's killing ME and I'm not the one married to the little – "

"Hey," Don said, his voice suddenly stony, "I AM the one married to her. So watch it."

There was another awkward pause, until Raph set his beer down and turned in his seat to face Donatello.

"Okay," said Raph, "Okay, Donatello: it's just me, here. This is your brother talking, who cares about you, who fuckin' LOVES you, idiot, who stood up at your damn wedding, and I – I don't get this. Okay? I mean, I know I'm not the smart one, but this, I just DO not get. If you can explain it to me, I am all ears. How the hell is this okay? What am I missin' here?"

Raph could sense Leo and Mikey behind him, listening carefully. Typical. They wanted an explanation just as badly as he did, but as usual, were relying on him to the say the things no one else wanted to say.

Donnie sighed, grabbed the remote, and turned off the game. He sat forward in his chair, and the silence stretched out for a moment before he turned to address all three of his brothers.

"Look, no offense, Raph – or to any of you – but like you said…I'm supposed to be the 'smart one,' right? Did you really think I had no idea what was going on?"

"But D," said Mikey, squirming uncomfortably in his armchair, his can of beer sweating a ring into the upholstery, "She's cheatin' on you, bro."

Donnie smiled, and shook his head, "No, she's not, Mikey."

"But you JUST said – " Raph exploded.

"RAPH," Leo interrupted, using his 'leader' voice, "You wanted an explanation, let him talk."

Raph stubbornly folded his arms across his plastron, and then gestured ill-temperedly that Donatello had the floor.

Donnie sighed.

"I knew," he said, "I knew it was going on, even before we got married."

"Shit!" Raph cursed under his breath, then withered under a glare from Leo, "What, I can't even react now?"

"Go on, dude," Mikey prompted, "We're listening."

Don rested his elbows on his knees, and leaned towards his brothers.

"It started with the little signs, you know…the constant text messages…locking her T-phone. Him stopping by because he just 'happened to be in the neighborhood'…they met up for lunch a few times. One night I came home and they were laughing their heads off about something, and she had her legs on his lap…you know, just small things…individually you could dismiss them, but all together…it was setting off alarm bells."

Raph clenched and unclenched his fists, wishing he could flip April's fugly coffee table and its stupid coasters right into their flat screen. Though he supposed it was also technically Donnie's flat screen. Damnit, not again. How could they? How could she? He was going to break every bone in Casey Jones' flea-bitten body, and then tell April what he really thought of –

"And yeah," Donatello admitted, nodding at the carpet, "For a while, it made me crazy. We started fighting about it. And then one day I come home from patrol and I walk in on them kissing. And – the whole thing just blew up. I mean, with the yelling, and the crying, and the…throwing…stuff. And then halfway through, I just realized I was tired of it. That we'd been doing this dance for years, and I was sick of it, and I just said, 'Enough.' You know? 'Enough, I can't do this anymore. It's killing me.'"

Raph felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had no idea it had already gotten this bad between Donnie and April. Was this it? Game over? Was this Donatello's way of telling them they were…what, separated now? Or getting…he didn't even want to think the word.

"So I said, 'We are going to sit down, like people, and talk this out, once and for all.'" Donnie continued. "And we sat down right over there -

Donatello hooked his thumb over at the breakfast bar where April had been rummaging through her purse just minutes ago. The three brothers felt their eyes drawn to the spot as though it was haunted.

" – and we talked it out. "

Donnie paused, nodding seriously at the carpet. Then, as though the matter were closed, he heaved a deep sigh, leaned back and turned the television back on.

"Woah," Raph interjected, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, just – hang on – time out."

He snatched the clicker out of Donnie's hand and turned the TV off again.

"And you're just…okay with this? This is just how it works now?"

"Yeah," Donnie said, meeting his brothers' eyes for the first time, "I'm okay with this."

Raph searched his brother's brown eyes for signs of a lie…as smart as Donatello was – and Raphael didn't know anyone on Earth, human, turtle, or otherwise who was smarter than his poindexter brother – Donatello had a unique talent for denial, for the ability to lie to himself, to push his own needs aside, especially when it came to the people he loved. But he saw none of the anguish he recognized from the old Donnie-loves-April-loves-Casey-hates-Donnie-hates-Casey drama: None of the jealousy, none of the moodiness, or anxiety showed in Donatello's level gaze.

"Bullshit," Raph said, sitting back, "Nope. Sorry, I call bullshit. No way are you okay with this."

Donnie simply shrugged. "April has always had a soft spot in her heart for Casey. Hell, we all do, in a way. I mean, none of us can count on one hand the number of times he's saved our lives in battle– "

"But dude," Mikey interrupts, "We've haven't got that many fingers."

Raph shot him some side eye.

"Just lightening the mood," he said, and sipped his beer nervously.

They wisely chose to ignore this as Donatello continued:

"The more I tried to push Casey out of April's life, the more I tried to…to own her, the more resentful she felt. The harder I tried to be everything she needed, the more suffocated she felt – I just ended up driving her right into his arms. And then, of course…relationship-wise, they were terrible together – "

Donnie actually snorted, and Raph's brow shot up even higher. He was laughing about this?

"I mean, just disastrous - well you remember how it was."

Raph had to admit…Don had a point. They had been doing this triangular square dance for years before they finally got married…It always started out well with Donnie and April – then he got clingy, she felt smothered, he felt jealous, and then came the endless, tearful "I need space," and "bad timing," and "different directions," talks, followed by months of Donny moping around. By contrast, the inevitable "Casey and April" chapters of the turtle family saga were always marked by pure, volatile combustion. They argued so often and so loudly, even a guy like Raph, who enjoyed a good argument, couldn't stand being around them. Yet, he couldn't deny the spark of passion that ignited between them. Just thinking about it now, thinking about what April and Casey were bound to get up to tonight, made his chest ache for his poor brother.

"Donnie, you…You are a great guy. You deserve…everything," he said weakly, and to his horror felt a lump rising in his throat. "You deserve her everything, not her…scraps."

"I have everything, Raph," Donatello said earnestly. "April isn't scraps – she's my wife.We still love each other, maybe even more than before. No, I mean it, Raph. Because I think maybe…I think real love means letting the people you care about be themselves. Even the, uh…well, things between April and I…y'know…like, the…husband and wife stuff…has been…"

He blushed, grinned, and interrupted himself with a cough. "Well, you see what I'm getting at."

"'Sex,' Donatello," Raph deadpanned, "You're thirty years old, you're telling me point blank that your wife is out screwing another guy as we speak, and you can't say the word 'sex' in your own damn living room."

Mikey giggled, then made a weird choking noise. They turned to look at him.

"Sorry," he said, pawing at his face, "Sdorted by beer."

"Anyway, things with us have never been better," Don continued hastily, "Truth be told, it's…like a weight has been lifted. Even Casey and I are getting along."

"Pfft…why not," Raph muttered, "You certainly share a common interest. Ow. I swear to God, Leo, if you elbow me one more time – "

"Look," Don continued, "I know it seems complicated on the surface, but it's real simple, guys. When April has what she needs – when she's happy – I'm happy. One day, I just realized that's all I really wanted. And once she realized that…she just wanted me to be happy. And Casey…well…"

"Obviously he's happy," Raph grumbled.

Donatello gestured to the door, where April had just left.

"This thing with us – it just works. We all just seem like – better versions of ourselves this way. Our best selves. The kind of people that care more about each other than we do about ourselves."

Raph pondered this silently.

"You know," Mikey piped, "I knew you seemed happier since you got married, Don. But I figured it was just cuz you and April were finally…you know, had it all figured out."

Don smiled, "Well…I think we do, Mikey."

There was a pause where no one seemed to know what to say so they all looked at their beers.

"Well, alrighty then." Mikey said, grinning that toothy grin that still looked childlike, no matter how old they got. "So long as you're happy, dude, I'm down with it. Man, it's always the quiet ones, right? Go Team…uh…Apri…Donne…lly?…WAIT, DUDES, I GOT it: Quesaprillo."

"Quesaprillo?" Leo echoed, weakly.

"Yeah," Mikey said, beaming, "Cuz it kinda sounds like 'quesadilla,' which is like a hot, cheesy sandwich, and – ."

"STOP, STOP, STOP, WE GET IT, STOP," Raph said, squeezing his fists into his eyes until he saw stars, and mentally reaching for the brain bleach, "Ugh, we are way too related for this conversation. Oh God," he added, the thought just occurring to him, "You don't – the three of you don't – "

"What? NO. Nooooo no no, heh heh, no. Not that there's anything – I mean, not judging, but uh, no, that's really not our, we don't, that's not how this - no." Donnie replied eloquently.

"Thank you, Turtle Jesus," Raph muttered, "'Cause I really don't think I could come back from knowing that."

"Well," Leo said, measuredly, "I guess…if this really makes you happy, Donny. I'm assuming we're keeping this from Master Splinter?"

"Um," Donnie said, rubbing the back of his neck nervously, "Well, I think he actually…might warm up to the idea. Eventually."

Raph snorted, "Are you kidding? Sensei? Sure, he's only what, three hundred years old now, and has a stick up his ass the size of your bo staff? No, I'm sure he's just gonna roll with this. Maybe have the paddles ready, just in case."

"Hey, Don" Leo said, obviously still a bit a concerned for his brother, "Just make sure everyone is being…y'know, careful. You don't want…"

But he trailed off and got a strange look in his eye. Raph followed Leo's gaze to Donnie's face, and saw that Donnie's expression was reddening even further and he couldn't meet Leo's eyes.

"Wait," Leo said, his eyes widening, "Wait."

Don had closed his eyes, but he was starting to smile crookedly.

"No shit," Leo breathed it like a prayer, a rare grin spreading over his face like a New York City sunrise through the concrete canyons. "No shit, Donatello."

Raph blinked in surprise. He had a mouth like a sailor, but couldn't remember the last time Fearless let one fly. It was…unsettling…but something in Leo's expression…

"What?" Mikey asked, leaning forward petulantly, "What?! Tell me, guys, what am I missing?"

The gears in Raph's brain finally, creakingly clunked into place.

"A guest," Raph muttered, "April said she might bring home…"

A sudden jolt of adrenaline shot through his heart, and he sprang out of his seat so fast, he ended up standing on the sofa, like that whack job actor guy.

"YOU LITTLE MUTANT," he roared. The fierce, exhilarating joy in his chest was fighting to claw its way through his doubt and apprehensions like a wild, caged thing, and to his horror he heard his voice cracking with emotion. "ARE YOU SERIOUS? ARE YOU SERIOUS, DONATELLO? 'CAUSE IF YOU'RE FUCKIN' WITH US, I SWEAR TO GOD…."

"April's gonna kill me," Donnie giggled ruefully, "We weren't going to say anything until we had actual – "

"CASEY," Raph stammered, sitting back down and trying to contain his shouting, "AND CASEY, HE'S – he's cool? He's on board, just like that?!"

"Well, not 'just like that.'" Donnie said, "But yeah. He's on board. He keeps insisting that he wants to do this for us. For April and…for me."

Don tried to compose himself as his voice broke. "He says…he says he just wants us to be happy."

Leo clapped both his hands over his mouth. His eyes were sparkling, and Raph felt his own tears starting, despite his best efforts.

Don kept up his rapid-fire babbling, "I mean, given the nature of our...we knew if this was ever going to happen for us, it would have to be a unique situation, and he still wants to be involved and – Look, it was always going to be complicated, but we're just going to take it one day at a time, and – "

"You're going to be great," Leo breathed, "All of you."

"Thanks," Don snuffed, "So are you."

There was a tinny clank as Mikey slammed his beer can on the coffee table, recklessly ignoring the coaster protocol, and assumed a fighting stance.

"If somebody doesn't tell me what the shell is going on," he threatened, "I am going to beat all of you up. 'Cause you guys're freakin' me out, man."

Raph laughed, the sound bubbling up from deep inside him like water from a fountain. "Mikey, you idiot."

"Tell him, Don," Leo beamed, "Go on, tell him." He punched Raph in the arm again, once, twice, three times - but this time it was a celebration, and Raph gleefully put his arm around Leo's shoulders and crushed his obnoxious older brother fiercely to his shell like he would never let go.

He suddenly realized with a wrench in his chest that he had written this off so long ago, so long ago decided it would never happen, not for any of them, filed it away as just another Thing We'll Never Have, assumed that one day the last traces of his strange, weird, wonderful family would just disappear from the Earth entirely but now his stupid face was leaking and he was actually hugging Fearless and holy shit and holy SHIT and now Mikey was jumping up and down and there goes the fugly coffee table after all, and he swore to himself that the next time he saw Casey Jones he was gonna break his fancy new teeth for keeping this a secret and then he was gonna drag him to the nearest bar and buy that man a drink.