April knew she was breaking the rules - a cardinal one in fact...

"Do not act out of anger."

It wasn't like she was fighting anyone, though. Did the rule really apply if she was just practicing? Her hands clenched the hilt of the katana tighter as she whirled it about skillfully, recalling Splinter's words. It was better that she worked out her frustration here rather than taking it out on anyone else. And, boy, did she feel like taking it out on someone else.

Casey. Flippin'. Jones.

She couldn't even believe she'd invested any sort of interest in the jerk. A couple of drinks down his throat and there he went, charming the pants off of half the women in the bar. April should have known something was up when he took her to a bar in the first place. How was that even a real date? Pft. Expecting a nice dinner was too much for him to handle, she supposed. He probably would have gone even if she hadn't.

Asshole.

She whirled the katana around the other way and thrust it forward. Why did she bother with his type anyway? What was so appealing about his chiseled features and unshaven, square jaw? He was basically a gorilla waving around a hockey stick at muggers every night. Not like that took much skill.

The boombox she had brought up to the roof of her apartment building trailed out from the ending of "Barracuda" to Roxette's "Fading like a Flower." Two verses into the song April promptly smacked the box with her sword, causing it to skip and whine pitifully.

"Little stressed?" she heard in response to the stuttering machine. Distracted from her seething, she glanced over to the ladder where the deep voice had come from. She would have known him by that alone.

"Maybe," she hummed, standing straight again and resting her hand on her hip, the other resting the katana at her shoulder. She regarded him cooly. Raphael hoisted himself the rest of the way up onto the roof with one press of his arms. "You're up late."

"City never sleeps, and neither do I," he replied, simply. True New Yorker, accent and all. Actually, April knew that Raph had the habit of wandering out at night while his brothers were at home asleep. It was the only time he managed to get out alone or else his brothers were tagging along. "I was wonderin' what all the noise was up here."

"I'm not that noisy," she defended lightly, blowing a strand of loose hair out of her eyes.

"Awful lot of screamin' says otherwise," he responded. April's eyes wandered and she knawed her lip guiltily. The first hour of "training" hadn't been as cool and controlled as she would have liked to admit.

"How long have you been there?"

"Long enough. What did he do now?"

"Mph," April huffed.

"Fine. Not like I really care," he said, wandering to the edge of the roof to look out, his back to her. For some reason April felt a little insulted, but she just reminded herself who she was talking to. Raph was the last one to share his problems, much less want to talk about anyone else's.

"Well, if that's the way it is...I'm just going to go back to my own business then," she replied, pressing the play button on her boombox, relieved as it began to play "Hey Pretty". She turned from him and practiced some more moves, trying to just ignore that he was there at all. It was all about the zen. She span, slashing the sword outward to the left. It crashed sharply into something metal and she stumbled a little, startled, and looked up into Raphael's eyes behind the red mask. His sai pressed against the pressure of her katana and a smirk curled at the corners of his mouth.

"Not so fast. I came up here to train. And I'm gonna train," he said lowly. April cocked an eyebrow and pushed back from him, hopping a few steps away and letting her sword come to her side.

"What are you talking about?" she said with a confused chuckle in her voice.

"Just what I said."

"What...?" She glanced side to side. "With me?"

"Better than nothin'," he said, sai's still ready in his hands.

"What's THAT supposed to mean?" she replied, brow furrowing. Raphael smirked and tilted his head once to the side in a sort of smart-assed shrug. April knew she was hardly at the same level as the brethren of turtles. They had been training since they were very young, and she hardly had the girth that they did. He couldn't possibly be serious, could he? Something in his remark made her fume, though. She was almost certain he was trying to rile her up. Raphael had an awful temper sometimes and she knew he had a bad habit of picking fights. She attempted to remain cool and let the annoyance melt from her face. "Right...Raph. Funny." She sheathed the sword and headed towards the stereo to retrieve it, making like she was going to leave him to his one sided training.

As her fingers brushed the handle of it, she unsheathed the katana and swung at him. Raph never let his guard down entirely, and this time it was no different. He blocked her swing with both sai and regarded her with a little amusement.

"What was that?" he asked.

"Can't blame me for trying," she replied, putting all her weight behind the sword before pushing off again as she did before.

"Can and will," he replied, suddenly heading for her with amazing speed. She almost had no time to react. Unable to get her sword up in time to guard, she rolled off out of the way as his sai hit the concrete with a clang. He glanced over at her from where he crouched and she stuck her tongue at him, scrambling up to her feet. She sprinted around and came at him from the other side to which he flipped away, landing on the edge of the building.

"Come on, Raph. I'm sure you'd rather spar with one of your brothers," she said, lifting her sword and shrugging up her shoulders.

"I want to fight you," he replied, and leapt up, diving at her from above. April readied herself this time and managed to get the sword in front of her, but Raphael's sheer weight brought her down to her back with a thud. If he had landed on her with his full body she would have had broken more than a few bones, but he merely crouched over her, pressing down on her sword with both sai now.

"Little rough, Raph," she huffed, fighting to push him back. Certainly he wasn't using all his strength or else she'd be losing, right? But Raphael was hardly the type to go easy on anyone. What continued to boggle her was why he wanted to practice with her when she obviously was no match for him no matter how skilled she was.

"Casey could take it," he replied. April's eyes darted up to him and she flared. Her foot came up and shoved him up off of her. The turtle stepped back but remained balanced as she moved to her feet again. April gripped her katana fiercely and came at him, overhead, to the side, underhand...whatever her body commanded as it raged with adrenaline. Raphael continued to block her swings as she advanced on him, causing him to step back with every blow. The air became tinged with the harmony of metal against metal.

He watched as her cheeks flushed and her eyes sparked with fury. It was so suitable against the frame of her red hair which had begun to come loose of it's ponytail with her furious motions. They had come to the edge of the building and one of Raph's feet rested on the edge as he held her sword there between his sai.

"Come on! Don't LET me win!" April huffed.

"Never dream of it," he replied and shoved her back, retaliating on her with his own set of attacks, forcing her to defend and retreat. April forced herself not to miss a step, watching his motions and trying her best to pre-empt them. When she found an opening, she would attack and Raph would always defend and return the favor. She could feel the sweat coating her tank top and shorts, sliding down her face and chilling her as the night breeze came in. Training with Splinter had never been so intense. There was always some sort of restraint. It was all about composure and skill. As Raphael came at her and she responded in kind, she felt very much envigorated, and on fire. Even if he was going easy on her, even a little bit, she couldn't tell.

In the flurry of the fight she barely saw it coming. The pain didn't even register until she had fallen backward. Raphael's sai flew past her blade and crashed into her shoulder.

"Ah...!" she gasped as she landed and her shoulder began to throb. Raph had seen it coming, but a little too late. He had expected her to block, but she had moved too slow. At the last minute he managed to tilt the sai upward so the tip didn't penetrate her shoulder, but the metal still impacted harshly. He was a little startled, but it only crossed his features for a second as his sai flew to the side out of his hand. April sat up and looked at him, feeling her shoulder and rubbing it. She looked up at him and gripped her katana, getting to her feet and bringing her arms to her sides.

"I -" Raphael didn't have to figure out what to say because April came at him with her katana readied. His muscles tensed and he moved to guard with only one sai available.. Honestly, he hadn't expected her to keep going. He wasn't sure if he had really hurt her or not. He brought his sai up and caught her blade once again.

"Didn't expect me to quit that easy, didja?" she asked, still panting from the activity prior. Raph looked at her a moment and tried to contain a grin.

"No."

They continued to exchange attacks for a while longer, and soon the ache in April's shoulder began to fade.

"I can't believe this," April huffed, as she took another side swipe at Raphael.

"What?" he asked.

"I feel better."

"I know."

"What do you mean?" she asked, stepping back for a moment and wiping her forehead with the back of her hand before starting to round on him.

"You were pissed."

"I am pissed." Raph regarded her with a raised brow and watched her movements out of the corner of his eyes. "Okay...less pissed," she admitted. "I can see why you like to train by yourself."

"Hn?" he murmured, promptly whirling to block and repel her attack as she rushed him from behind.

"Splinter won't let you fight angry," she replied and scowled at being blocked for the billionth time. "But... it helps you calm down. So...you won't hurt anyone." Raphael said nothing but merely tilted his head as if in acknowledgement. He was a turtle of little words like that. "It really helped me. Thank you."

"Yeah," he replied, watching as her stance became more casual. His eyes darted quickly to the side when he noticed how tightly her clothes clung to her with sweat. "What...are you done?"

"Yes," she replied with a chuckle, sheathing the sword with finality. "I need a shower..."

"Pft... I haven't even broken a sweat," he prodded.

"Wh...ah...right... I see what you're doing there. Trying to rile me up again.. I'm all angered-out, Raph," she chuckled.

"Women are never 'angered-out'," he replied.

She eyed him a moment, amused.

"Don't push it... Besides, how would YOU know? Not like you talk to any women but me."

Raphael puffed up, "You don't know that."

"Come on... Your people skills aren't what they could be."

"Doesn't mean I don't... talk...," he trailed off, frustrated. She picked up the boombox and slung the sheathe over her shoulder, walking up to him and patting him on the shoulder.

"It's okay...really. It's a whole lot of complicated stuff you don't wanna get involved with, believe me." She patted his cheek then and turned for the ladder.

"April."

"Hm?" she looked over her shoulder at him.

"You're... You...fight... good." He turned his head and crossed his arms indignantly. April blinked a couple of times.

"Pardon?" she asked, stepping backwards towards him.

"Mmpmhmhpmh...," he murmured, lowering his head.

"Hmmmm?" She asked, leaning towards him.

"You fight...good," he repeated through his teeth and looked at her now. "...for a girl." April's expression faltered. Raphael grinned, and couldn't help it.

"Damn you!" she huffed and set the boombox down, punching him in the arm.

"Thought you were all 'angered-out', April," he teased.

She punched him in the face then, and for once he didn't see it coming.

"...ow," he said, stunned.

"Jerk," she huffed and started to march off. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going home now." Raphael watched her descend the ladder and walked to the edge of the building as she disappeared through the window of her apartment and closed it loudly behind her. He moved to retrieve the sai he had dropped earlier and went to sit on the edge of the roof.

April had a lot more in her than he thought. He rubbed his jaw a little bit and wondered if she would consider sparring with him again.

Naw.

That would be suspicious if he asked wouldn't it?

The look in her eyes, though...the rawness of her movements when she got angry...

A smirk quirked at his mouth again.

This was the first time he actually got her to fight him. He had considered it before, watching her train with Splinter...but asking her would have been ridiculous. The timing had been perfect. All she needed was a little shove, and boy, did she let go.

"...certainly won't be the last," Raph murmured, looking out at the city. He stood, stretched, and leapt down off the building towards the street.

The night was still young, after all.