"Everybody ready for the Super Robo Mecha Force Five Movie?" Leo asked, the cheerfulness in his voice a little forced.

"You know it!" Michaelangelo crowed, "The fangirls on the SRMFF forum said that it was 'Z-O-M-G awesomesauce' and gave it four 'squees,' so you KNOW it's gonna be epic!"

He sprinkled a package of Goobers over his bowl of popcorn.

"Ugh!" Raph pulled a phony grimace, "You know we already buttered that, right?"

"They taste better together!" Mikey said, grinning, "Right, Donnie?"

They all turned eager eyes towards him, and Donnie sighed internally. He knew what they were doing, and truth be told, it was a little condescending…but at the same time, if he was honest with himself, he was really grateful. It meant they cared.

"Right," he smiled, and grabbed a piece of popcorn and a chocolate-covered peanut together, popping them into his mouth as though to prove Mikey's point.

"I think I will join you," Splinter said, serenely taking his place on the sofa. Donnie's brow raised in surprise.

Splinter took in his expression. "As I understand it, this movie will be subtitled? It would be nice to watch a movie in my native tongue. Even if it is about fighting robots."

He placed a rat-like hand, at once so human and yet so distinctly inhuman, on Donatello's shoulder.

"And why should I not enjoy a pleasant evening with my sons?"

Donnie gave a lopsided smile. So even Splinter was in on it. He wondered how they'd even known what day it was. Leo probably heard it from April. Or maybe Raph had heard it from –

Donnie jerked his head back towards the TV screen, and forced himself to smile. It was okay. He was okay. And he wanted his caring, considerate family to know that, not to feel like they had to worry about him. Besides, a movie sounded fun. Who doesn't like movie night? Right?

"Okay," Leo beamed, grabbing the remote, "Everybody ready?"

"Ready!" Mikey sang out, for all of them.


They all turned from the television at once, to gape at April, who stood panting by the old subway turnstiles.

She was wearing a yellow gown, scattered with sequins, the bottom half of which, she had bunched up in the crook of her gloved arm. She was also wearing her combat boots, spattered with sewage – the flecks on her shins showed she had been running. Her hair was carefully curled and piled just so on top of her head, crowned with a tiny gold tiara. A few strands had escaped their bobby-pin prison and started to uncurl at her neck, reverting to their natural straightness. In her hand, she carried a tiny yellow purse, and a pair of strappy, glittery heels, and she stared at him with a panicked, hunted expression.

She looked, Donnie reflected, like a princess; the most beautiful princess he'd ever seen – like Cinderella fleeing the ball. But it was nowhere near midnight…the "ball" hadn't even started yet.

"April?" he asked, stupidly. They could all plainly see who it was.

She said nothing, but continued to stare at him. The world seemed, for a moment, to be suspended in midair, hanging like a mote of dust.

"I think I will meditate," Splinter said, standing in one smooth motion, and heading for the dojo, "Now."

"I'll join you!" Leo said, stumbling after him.

"Us too!" Mikey chimed in, "Come on, Raph."

They were almost to the dojo, but Raph just stood slowly where he was and folded his arms.

"C'mon, Raph," Mikey hissed, scowling.

But Raphael just glared at April. Some color came to her cheeks as she quailed under his emerald glower. Donatello looked back over his shoulder at his fiery, protective older brother. Finally Raph shook his head, turned, and followed his brothers into the dojo.

Leo smiled at Donnie weakly, before gently sliding the screen door shut behind him.

Donatello turned back to face April. One spaghetti strap had slipped over her shoulder and was hanging useless against her bicep. The satin of her skirt slid from her elbow a few inches, sagging towards the floor.

"Careful," he pointed, "you'll…"

He paused, staring at the way the sequins sparkled in the dim light, how the dress fell so smoothly from her hips to –

"What are you doing here?" he blurted.

"I…" April whispered, unable to look away, "I decided I don't wanna go."

"What? It's your Senior Prom! You're on the committee, or the Court, or whatever they call it, you – you're all dressed up. You look…"

He sighed.

"You look beautiful, April."

April finally looked away.

"It's just a party," she said, to the floor, "Baked ziti and a bad DJ. Just a stupid party. "

"It's not stupid," Donnie said, firmly.

He took a deep breath, knowing what he had to do.

"You need to get going," he said, firmly, "If you leave now, you can still – "

"I told you, I don't wanna go," April said, stubbornly, color rising in her cheeks. She crossed the room, marching right up to him, throwing her sparkly shoes on the couch. Oh no.

Be brave. Make her understand.

"Casey will be worried about you," Donatello said, firmly, "He's wearing a suit. Do you hear what I'm saying to you, April? Casey Jones – put on a suit – for you. Are you really going to do this to him? Come on. We both know you're not that kind of person."

"I don't want to go with Casey," April said, the words springing up guilty and quick, like the unshed tears sparkling in her eyes. She gripped Donnie's shoulder, "I want to go with – "

But Donnie flinched, closed his eyes, and held up a hand, stopping her in mid-sentence.

"Don't…talk," he stammered, trying to regain his equilibrium.

His reddish-brown eyes met hers again. She looked so miserable.

"'Sometimes when you talk…it hurts more,'" he quoted, smiling lopsidedly.

They stared at each other until April's eyes finally spilled over and the tears started sliding down her cheek. She turned away quickly, took her hand off of Donnie's shoulder to brush it away.

There was a pause where Donnie wondered what to do next. She was still standing there, seemingly undecided about her next move. Finally she reached into her purse, and took out her T-phone. Opening it, she scrolled with her thumb for a moment. Donnie worried for a moment that she might be calling Casey to cancel, was about to tell her not to, to put it away, when her thumb hit something, and music started to come from the phone.

With the first sad, sweet strains of the harmonica, he recognized the song, and his heart lurched painfully in his chest. She set it down on the arm of the sofa, letting the introduction play, and turned to face him.

"I won't go to my Senior Prom unless I can dance with my best friend," she said, as steadily as she could.

Donnie smiled sheepishly.

"I don't really know how to dance to this."

"It's mostly just…hugging back and forth," April said, grinning.

They shared an awkward chuckle, and Donnie stretched out his arms for her, as he always did, always would.

And I never thought I'd feel this way
And as far as I'm concerned
I'm glad I got the chance to say
That I do believe, I love you

April stepped into his arms with a whisper of satin, fitting into place like a puzzle piece. She rested her cheek on his plastron, and he touched his chin to her hair, forcing himself to take deep, slow, even breaths. He waited for her to move, not knowing what to do, and slowly, they started swaying back and forth.

And if I should ever go away
Well, then close your eyes and try
To feel the way we do today
And then if you can remember

April leaned back, out of his embrace. Donnie resisted the impulse to resist, to draw her close again – as he always did, always would. She met his eyes, pleading with him to understand as the words of the song drifted around them.

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for

Donnie smiled. How could his heart breaking inside his chest feel so good? How could he make this pain last forever? He mouthed the next words back to her, making a promise.

For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for

The music continued, but they both seemed to stop dancing at the same moment, and spent a while staring into each others' eyes, like they were memorizing them. Donnie knew what was going to happen before it did, knew that it was going to hurt, but knew that he was just as powerless to stop it as April was powerless to stop herself.

Across the room, three pairs of eyes watched through a tiny crack in the screen door.

Raphael shook his head, furiously, made as if to stand. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Not on his watch. This was Donnie, his smart, shy, stupid, kind, decent, stupid brother, and he deserved to have the whole world, and he couldn't, and he wasn't just about to let April waltz in here in a prom dress she bought for someone else and break his –

Leo's firm hand on his plastron stopped him. Raph looked up at his oldest brother – he hadn't even looked away.

"Let him have this," he whispered sadly.

His face was so resigned, so sad, that Raph couldn't argue. But he didn't have to like it. He turned away and swallowed hard, unwilling, or unable to watch.

April put a hand on Donnie's cheek. He smiled and leaned into it a bit – her skin was always so warm. Slowly, they closed their eyes, leaned in to one another, and their lips met in the middle.

Donnie was briefly reminded of that old proverb: "A bird may love a fish, but where would they live?"

In the middle, his heart begged desperately, they could meet in the middle.

She smelled like hairspray, and tasted like tears. His hands tightened around her waist as the kiss deepened, and he felt the satin fabric slide against her skin and he thought maybe this was what dying felt like, and if it was, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

It was probably only a second or two, but it felt like forever.

Finally, it was over.

Really, truly over.

He drew a determined breath, as they parted, controlling his emotions, steeling the resolve that felt ready to break at any moment. Now came the hard part.

Don't make it any harder for her. Keep it together.

Tears glittered on her lashes, and then fell.

"I love you," she sobbed.

Donnie smiled. How many times had he literally dreamed of hearing her say those words? He brushed another tear away with his thumb.

"I love you, too."

"I wish – " April said, and hiccupped for air.

"I know. Me too."

He swallowed hard, and had to look away. The song had ended and he disguised the gesture by picking up her T-phone, and sliding it back into her tiny purse. He handed it to her, along with her discarded sandals.

"Don't forget your shoes, Cinderella," he smiled.

"We've still got months," April blurted, "September is months away. And I'll be online all the time, so we can chat. It's still the same time zone."

"Of course," Donnie said. He took her by the shoulders, gently turned her around, and started guiding her towards the turnstiles.

"And I can write to you, too," April pleaded, desperately, "Just for fun. Like, real, old-fashioned snail mail."

Donnie smiled, knowing full well that he had no address. Where would she send it? 'Donatello, the Sewer, New York, New York?'"

"Sounds like fun."

"And I'll be home every single holiday, and I can come on the weekends sometimes," she gulped, tears sheeting down her face.

"Go," Donnie said, firmly, feeling as though he was lovingly, tenderly sawing off his own arm. He pressed on the small of her back gently, and the turnstile made a ratcheting noise as she went through it. She turned to face him from the other side, looked like a fresh argument was brewing, but he held up a hand to stop her.

"I don't want you to miss anything…because of me," he said, smiling at her, "Now go."

"But – "

"Go," he said, bluntly.

Before I never let you.

She gave him one last look. He wanted so badly to reach out and touch her one last time, but he knew if he moved another inch, she'd just be back in his arms, and he'd drag her back to his cave, his hidden lair in the stinking sewers, where he could hide her away from the world until she grew to hate him for it. He wanted to – knowing full well that it was wrong, knowing full well she'd be miserable – he still wanted it so badly that the slightest push, a soft breeze could have sent him tumbling over, cracked his resolve, have him hoarding her like a golden harp.

But he was ninja. He knew when to be still.

April smiled a watery smile.

"I'll text you," she promised.

Donnie smiled, knowing she'd forget.

"Have fun," he said, genuinely.

And she was gone.

Donnie closed his eyes, inhaled deeply through his nose and counted down from ten. The tears would keep until tonight, when he was alone. He still had a job to do.

"Sorry 'bout that," he said brightly, turning and rejoining the lair, "We still doin' this?"

The screen door slid open slightly, and Mikey poked his head out, lip trembling, his mask sopping wet and dark with tears. Donnie couldn't help it, and laughed abruptly.

Huh. That's funny. I didn't expect to laugh again so soon.

Mikey scrambled off the ground, leapt over the couch and hugged Donnie tight, mashing his face into his chest.

"We were so not listening to your private conversation!" he wailed, "'Cuz that would be rude, and I am totally crying about something else!"

"Thanks, Mikey," Don said, wryly giving him nuggies.

"Y'okay?" Raph asked, gruffly. Donnie winced at his furious expression. Donnie hoped he wouldn't take it out on Casey, or April. He just didn't understand.

"It's Prom Night," he mused, "And I danced with a pretty girl. Yeah. Yeah, I think I'm okay."

He nodded, and resumed his seat at the couch.

"You behaved honorably," his father said, "I am proud of you."

Donnie felt his face get hot and he kind of really wished they'd all just stop talking about it.

"So," Leo said, reading his mind, "who's ready for some 'SMURF?'"

"Dude. Don't call it 'Smurf.' See, this is why I'm the one to name stuff," Mikey sniffed. He was still pouting a bit, but Mikey never stayed sad for long.

"Pssht. Have a Goober, ya Goober."

Raph flung some candy at him, and Mikey retaliated with some popcorn. Splinter cleared his throat.

"That is how you get bugs, Raphael."

Raph nervously scanned the floor, and half-lifted his foot, and Donatello found himself giggling again. Why was everything suddenly so funny?

"We ready?" Leo asked again.

"Ready," Mikey sang out.

Leo hit start, and they settled in.

Don mostly let the movie wash over him, slowly letting the tension and adrenaline fade from his bloodstream, hearing Mikey and Raph's running commentary without really listening. He was surrounded by people who loved him – they were safe, and healthy, and together. April was out having a nice time, and had her whole life ahead of her.

Donatello knew he was still carrying a jar of grief, carefully labeled, sealed and preserved, and that he would have to pour it out eventually. But all things considered? He actually felt pretty good. Lighter, somehow.

His T-Phone buzzed. He thought about ignoring it, knowing who it was likely from, and not really sure he could deal with it right now…at least not without losing it in front of his family and making them all worry. Still, it was New York City at night, and he ought to check it, just in case. He slid it open and glanced down, surprised to see it was from Leo. His brown eyes flicked over to the other side of the room. Leo was draped casually over the armchair, watching the movie, his T-phone resting on his plastron.

Donnie touched the screen, and the text opened:

LeoIchibanTurtle: You're the bravest person I know.

And now Donnie's eyes were getting hot, and he had to stare fixedly at the TV screen for a while and hold his breath.

Not yet. Hang in there. A few more hours and you can have the lab all to yourself. Just watch the movie.

It would be okay. They had left nothing unsaid, and April was free to live her life, now…and it wasn't as if she was dropping off the face of the earth. His brothers and his father were always there for him – even Casey would be there to trade insults in his passive-aggressive, weirdly affectionate way.

He settled deeper into the sofa with a smile. It would be okay. It wasn't, not yet; but it would be.

A/N: WELP, IT AIN'T PROM NIGHT TIL SOMEONE'S CRYIN'. :D :collapses in a puddle: IT'S NOT OKAAAAY I'M NOT OKAAAAAY. Also I didn't realize it until after it was written, but this was probably inspired at least in part by Ponaco's A Winter Interlude – if you haven't read it yet, and you NEED a happy ending after this, that should be your next click. ;) This is also probably the one and only songfic I've ever written/will write, because I usually hate them, but really, nothing says "Prom" or "Donnie and April" like that song. (If you're not familiar, it's That's What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick.)