Title: A Horse of a Different Color
Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)
Word Count (fic portion): 2275
Summary: April shares a few thoughts she's had about the guys with Raphael.
Notes: I've always wanted to write a fic with April as a primary character instead of a background one. So I did. I hope you like it.
"Hello?" April ducked through the elevator doors to the lair, still shaking the last bits of the downpour she'd been caught in from her hair. She hadn't bothered to bring an umbrella since the sun had still been shining when she left her apartment. It really was amazing how quickly clouds could gather together, blacken, and let loose with torrential downpours, she decided.
"Yo April." A towel was thrown her way, and she caught it in mid-air, smiling in thanks at Raphael before plopping it on her head and vigorously rubbing away. The mutant eyed her soaking form warily, raising a single eye ridge in question.
"I thought I could make it in time," she shrugged, and then scrubbed harder. She pulled the towel down, and Raphael grinned at the spikes she'd made, her hair ruffled outward like a fluffy, red halo. He glanced pointedly behind her.
"He's coming in a bit. His mother wanted to stop by and drop something off, so he's waiting for her. He told me to go ahead." April stuck her tongue out at his obvious amusement at her hair, and tried in vain to smooth it down. "Oh, shut up."
"One of the perks of being bald," he grinned, flicking a stray piece. "And what sorta female don't carry a brush in her bag at all times? I thought you gals were always prepared." He shook his head at her.
"Those are the boy scouts, oh sassy one. As for the sort of female I am, well, I'm one that has more important things to worry about in life then how I look at any given minute." Still, she quickly ran her hands through the tangled strands again, before giving it up as a lost cause and chucking the towel at the mutants smirking face.
The sounds of sparring reached her, and she looked over Raph's shoulder to see Leonardo facing off against his Master. The aged rat had dodged a blow from his blue-banded pupil, and had quickly retaliated with a swat to Leo's head with his walking stick. The look of consternation on Leonardo's face made her giggle. Raph, casting his gaze back to see what had captured her interest, didn't bother to stifle his laugh. Leo shot him a Look.
Just wait 'til it's your turn, his brother mouthed threateningly, and then turned back to Splinter to try again. Raph snorted, and gestured for April to take a seat.
"So whatta you and Casey been up to lately?" he asked. He waggled his eye ridges at her. April smacked him on the shoulder and sat down on the small ledge that lined the sunken practice and living room. The ledge served as a convenient bleacher seat to watch them fight.
She loved watching the guys practice – it always looked like they were having so much fun. She couldn't wait until her skills were enough to warrant sparring with them. Raph was still speaking, and she looked back at him. "I mean, youse two have been kinda scarce lately. Was it my imagination, or did Casey blow off a chance to patrol with us the other night to watch TV at your place?"
"Nothing has been going on that you need to concern yourself with, nosey." April reached up and poked him in the knee. "And stop teasing him about it! He's shy enough without you embarrassing him!"
"Casey? Shy? You gotta be kidding me."
"Silence!" She commanded, but she was grinning. "And I was going to root for you too. Now I'm hoping Splinter thwacks you a good one."
"So sorry you'll be disappointed."
The two of them shared a smile. Despite being a close sister to all of the turtles, and an adopted daughter to Master Splinter, over the years she had developed an especially close bond with Raphael. He had proven himself to be a good listener, and provided a non-judgmental attitude to bear against her rambles. She suspected years of putting up with Mikey's non-stop motormouth had given him a special kind of patience for certain cases that would try most saints.
And really, he was the best person, considering what – or rather, who – the bulk of her rants were about. Initially, she and Casey had found a mutual solid ground in how to handle each other, in arguing – her screaming at him for trivialities, and he letting her vent before doing something to make her do it again. Neither of them ever really took their 'fights' seriously – it was a way to pay attention to the person who was becoming most important to them without revealing anything deeper that might scare the other off.
The problem was, they couldn't get past the bickering stage to move onto new terrain together. Her relationship with Casey had been stuck, stagnating, each of them unsure about what the other wanted, and for a while, it had been starting to affect the way they worked - both as a team together, and with the turtles.
Raphael had offered himself up as a sounding board to both of them. Casey was able to talk his fears out and crunch skulls at the same time, and April had a confidant who would never reveal anything she told in secrecy – though Raph felt it was within bounds to reassure Casey that the redhead was crazy about him, even though he was a musclebound goob with no education (which was Casey's belief).
The end result of Raphael's offer, was that Casey and April had surged through the tumultuous waters of their relationship, forging a stronger link between them that wouldn't have been possible without his aid.
Raph was just waiting for the day when April came in with a ring on her finger, shrieking her head off in joy. He had told April once before that as best turtle (as he was sure to be), he was obligated to completely humiliate the groom with his speech, and that he'd been working on it since the day Casey had stutteringly told him he wanted to ask April out on a date.
April wasn't sure she was supposed to be so eager to hear about her possible future husband's imminent ridicule but lord only knew there was far too many incidents with which to pull aforementioned speech tidbits from.
She shook her head, making Raphael hiss as a few stray water droplets hit him, and focused back on the sparring match in front of them.
Leonardo pivoted on his back leg, sweeping the front one with lightning speed, missing Splinter's head by a millimeter, following up on his master's retreat with a flying tackle. Spljnter doged that one as well, but Leonardo simply turned the dive into a fluid roll, coming to his feet with his swords out, springing out and continuing his offensive.
"Always a show-off," Raph muttered, but his tone was light, a faint tinge of respect hovering at the very edge of them. He finally joined her on the ledge, leaning back on his hands and watching the fight with a critical eye. April hugged her knees to her chest, avidly following every move.
"I love watching you guys – ALL of you – spar," she said, eagerly tracking Master and Student as they flipped and battled their way across the practice mat. "It almost looks choreographed – like a dance." Her companion snorted.
"Fighting can be like dancing, but you ain't never gonna see me in a tutu," Raph drawled. She rolled her eyes.
"That's not what I meant! I mean, look at Leo." She gestured to where Leonardo was trading sword strikes with Splinters walking stick, twirling and slashing, leaping up to avoid a blow and then quickly returning with his own. "He reminds me of a ballet dancer."
Raphael snickered. She smacked him on the shoulder before he could comment, and he nodded quickly, waving his hand as if to say, 'okay, I'll let you explain that one.'
"Do you know what it takes to be a dancer Raphael? You need to be strong. Focused. Disciplined. Every move needs to be trained and practiced almost religiously, daily, without fail. You need to be able to perform on your own and function within a group, or as a pair. You need perfect balance, spatial awareness, and you need to perform flawlessly, showing grace and poise. Even when your muscles are screaming, you need to have your mask on, that face of calmness to see the show through to the end." April took a deep breath. "Tell me that Leonardo isn't the very epitome of a dancer."
Raphael was still smirking, but he had been nodding as she spoke. "I guess I can see it that way." He batted his eyes at her, pouting playfully. "You sayin' I'm not graceful enough to be a ballerina?"
She laughed. "You know very well a lot of those traits apply to all of you as ninjas." She cocked her head at him. "But honestly? If I had to picture you in another sport, you'd be a football player."
He blinked, surprised. "Huh?"
"Yeah. Linebacker, even. Frighteningly strong, dangerously tough, able to dish out brutal punishment and take it in return. Very skilled, able to follow plays and take matters into your own hands when the situation calls for it." She nudged him. "And just look at the throwing practice you get in with your sais. Trade it in for a football and I'd bet on your team in the Super Bowl."
He smiled at her description of him, particularly the 'strong' and 'tough' parts, she noticed. "What about Donnie?"
"Baseball player," she said with a certain sense of finality. "Definitely a baseball player."
"This I gotta hear."
"Does well in a team setting where everyone has a predetermined place and specialty – infield, outfield, catcher, pitcher – or in his case, technology," April said, ticking off the positions on her fingers. "A baseball player still needs to be highly skilled to play the game, but they also allow for...pinch-hitting." She grinned. Raph chuckled.
"You mean when the pitcher's too fat to run so when he's at bat, someone runs for him? You saying Donnie needs to lay off the Cheeto's?"
"Oh, he does not. And what I mean by pinch-hitting, is Don knows that if his skills alone aren't enough in a battle, he's comfortable with bringing in a gadget or utilizing a weapon or situation that will handle it. He doesn't see it as a poor reflection of his ninja skills-"
"-or using the baseball analogy, his running skills," Raph joked.
"--but as an extension of his strategical skills, his intelligence," she finished.
Across from them, Splinter had turned the tables and had Leonardo on the run, making the group leader head for the bridge in an attempt to put more space between his head and his Master's walking stick. Raph nodded.
"Yeah, okay, that fits. So what's Mikey then?" His eyes gleamed. "Circus clown?"
She frowned at him playfully. "You know, if that's all you really see him as-"
"You know it's not," he interrupted her. She nodded, mollified. She did know. "So what is it? What sport would he be in if we were humans instead of turtles?"
"Gymnastics," she said. "Obviously. He's faster then all of you except for maybe Leo in certain situations, flexible, and he bounces around like a ping pong ball. And that whole tight-rope walking on his hands thing back at the TCRI building? All of you were concentrating fully on keeping your balance and not falling, and he was acting like it was second nature to him."
"It is second-nature to him," Raph grumbled. "Much as I hate to admit it."
"And his back flips are extraordinary – he gets three times the height of all of you!"
"There's a reason for that," he countered. "It's all the flips Master Splinter made him do for punishment growing up. At one point he was probably doing about fifty a day on top of what he normally pulled in sparring matches." He cocked his head thoughtfully. "Probably explains why his brains are scrambled like his eggs."
"You are not being very nice."
"This is news to you?"
April grinned again, and they both cheered loudly as Leonardo hit the ground, Splinter having connected with a jump kick. Leonardo glared at them from his upside-down position, chest heaving.
"Gee thanks guys."
"Raphael!" Splinter beckoned to his second oldest.
"Your turn," Leo panted, groaning as he rolled over and crawled over to the ledge where April was sitting. She smiled and reached for her purse, pulling out a bottle of water and waving it at him. "You are a wonderful human being."
"Baby," Raphael snorted, and went to take his turn against his sensei. April handed Leonardo the water and then waved at the two combatants.
"Get him once for me, Master Splinter!"
"Traitor!" Raph shouted and then 'eeped as Splinter began his attack, a gleam in his aged eyes that suggested to April he was tempted by her request. Leonardo chuckled.
"So what were you two talking about?" he asked, picking up the towel April had thrown at Raph and began wiping off excess sweat. She eyed him warily.
"That was clean before I used it, right?" He blinked in confusion. "Never mind."
"Leo, have you ever seen the ballet on TV?"
He paused again. "Can't say as I have." His eyes crinkled in wry amusement. "You and Raph were talking about ballet?"
"Among other things. Remind me to tape you guys a performance some day..."
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