Raph doesn't know how much time passes, but it must have been hours - hours he spent running and punching and kicking trees, and when this doesn't make him feel better he switches to rocks. That doesn't help either, but it's something to do. Something he can do. Something that should keep his thoughts away from what April was about to say.
By the time he has to stop because his lungs are feeling like they were on fire and his hands and feet are hurting from all the punching and kicking, it's dark. He didn't realize before or at least he didn't care. And he doesn't care now. He's a ninja, he can find his way home even in the dark.
With a sigh Raph wipes over his eyes with the back of his hand. Some sweat must have trickled into them because they are burning. They are burning a lot, actually, but he refuses to accept any other explanation than the trickling sweat-one.
When the farmhouse comes into sight, Raph stops. He does not want to go there. He doesn't want to see April again, he doesn't want to give her a chance to talk to him again, he just wants to stay away. But he can't. Because his brothers are there, too, and they are worried, probably, and Leo still needs help, and they have a mission together, and well, the thing is, he can't just run off. No matter how much he'd want to do right now. He can't.
So he takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders and walks towards the farmhouse. His steps falter when he sees someone waiting on the porch. For a moment, he's afraid it's April, but the silhouette is too tall to be hers. And as Raph gets closer, he realizes, it's Donnie.
Raph lets out a sigh of relief, but then his eyes widen a bit when he sees the look on Donnie's face.
"What's up?" Raph asks, trying to keep his tone as matter-of-factly as he can.
"What's up!?" Donnie repeats. "It's in the middle of the night, Raph! That's what's up! You disappeared just like that!"
"I was out for some solo-training," Raph replies with a shrug.
"For six hours!?"
"Yeah," Raph says with another shrug.
Donnie looks at him for a moment, then puts a hand over his eyes, taking a deep breath.
"Look, we all have been worried," he says. "Next time tell us before you're leaving and when you're planning to come back."
"Okay, Leo," Raph replies, hoping a little joke would smoothen Donnie's mood a bit.
Donnie just lets his hand slide all the way down his face and shoots Raph a glare. Then he sighs again.
"Leo's already asleep. The medicine got the better of him. Mikey and Casey went to bed hours ago, and don't let me get started on April!"
The mention of her name sends a pang to Raph's heart.
"April?" he asks nonetheless before he can think better of it.
"Yeah, she seemed really worried, even looked like she'd been crying. She went to her room a while ago. I wanted to check on her, but she didn't react to my knocking." Donnie looks at Raph for a moment. "Do you think you could at least stop by her room and tell her you're back?"
No! Raph wants to shout. You don't know what you're asking for! You can send me there!
Instead, he shrugs once more. "If I have to."
"Yes," Donnie replies, his tone calm, but strict. "You have to."
With another shrug - really, he should work on another reaction than just shrugging - Raph sets into motion.
Raph stands in front of April's room. He doesn't want to go in there. Maybe he can just give a gentle knock, whisper that he's back and leave again?
Then he hears Donnie coming up the stairs, and he knows he can't do that. Because Donnie is going to check. He still settles for a gentle knock, though. A gentle knock won't wake April. And he needs to make sure that she really is asleep so he can tell Donnie. So he opens the door.
And what he sees then sends another pang to his heart.
April is sitting on her bed, hugging her knees. Raph can't see her face because she's resting her forehead on her knees.
Raph knows that there might be a chance she's actually sleeping in this position, but he somehow doubts it.
"April?" he asks gently.
"Go away!" April says, proving that she's not sleeping.
Her words make Raph flinch. Granted, he wanted her to stay away from him, but now that she's telling him so directly, it actually hurts.
He knows he should leave now, telling himself that he got what he wished for.
April wants nothing to do with him. April is going to keep a distance. April is going to choose Donnie.
It's what Raph wanted, what he hoped for, what he wished for. He wanted this!
He didn't expect it to hurt that much, though. It feels like a red-hot blade is stabbing his heart. It's so painful that Raph can't breathe for a moment.
And in this exact moment he hears something that adds even more pain to his heart. It's a silent sobbing, and Raph has to fight the urge to just get over there and pull April into his arms.
As much as he wants her to choose Donnie, as much as he wants her to stay away from him, he never wanted her to suffer. He never wanted her to cry.
He closes the door and walks over to the bed. Because he can't hug her he kneels down next to the bed.
"April, I'm sorry," he says.
It's the truth. He is sorry, really sorry. He's sorry that he has to do this to her. He is sorry that he has to hurt her. But it's the right thing to do.
April doesn't reply, only keeps on sobbing silently.
Raph can't see her like that. It's just too much for him.
"Please stop crying," he says.
Again, she doesn't react.
So Raph decides to do something he usually wouldn't do. He raises his hand and places it on her arm.
April jumps at his touch and her head shoots up. She looks at him, her eyes red from crying, her cheeks wet from the tears, and like before, Raph just wants to hug her.
"April, please," he says instead.
April studies his face, and he recognizes that there are no new tears running down her face. Which, he decides, is a good sign.
April turns her head away from him.
"I get it," she says. "You don't return my feelings."
You have no idea, Raph thinks.
But he's glad or at least he's trying to tell himself that he's glad that April finally gets it. It puts a little bit of the weight from his shoulders. In fact, he even feels that he can stay close to her for a few moments longer. Because she gets it.
So he gives her arm a little squeeze and it makes April look at him again.
"I'm sorry," he says, looking into her eyes, her beautiful, beautiful eyes. "There can never be an us." He takes a deep breath. "No matter how much I want it."
April's eyes widen. "What?"
Raph's heart skips a beat, panic rising in his chest, when he realizes that he said these last words out loud. He wracks his brain for something to say, but April speaks up first.
"No matter how much you want it?" she asks.
"Yeah, that's what I said," Raph replies. "No matter how much you want it."
April shakes her head ever so slightly. "No matter how much I want it. Those were your words."
"I… I…," Raph begins, trying to figure out a way out of this mess, but fails.
Great job, Raph! Just when she got it, you ruin everything!
He jumps to his feet and takes a few steps back, bringing some distance between himself and April.
"What do you mean, Raph?" April asks, getting to her feet as well, looking directly into his eyes.
"April, please!" Raph calls out, holding up his hand in a gesture to keep her away. "Please, don't make me yell at you again. Please! Please, stay away! We can't do this! I can't do this!
He retreats to the door. April watches him with a frown on her face.
"Anyways, I'm back, I'm okay, and, well, good night!" he says quickly. He opens the door and steps out into the corridor, closing the door as fast as he can. And then he simply flees to the room he shares with his brothers. April for sure won't follow him there. But he only allows himself to breathe when he's closed the door behind him.
He can hear Mikey snore, and somehow, it's a soothing sound. He checks the room and realizes that his three brothers are fast asleep, even Donnie. That's good. That's something normal.
Raph silently makes his way to his bed and lies down on his back. Something's telling him he's most certainly not going to find any sleep tonight. And that's okay. He just closes his eyes and places a hand over his heart, a heart that's still hammering in his chest. A heart that is still hurting. A heart that is still spreading a warm feeling through his body.