Disclaimer: I do not own or profit from TMNT

April O'Neil tried for the tenth time to rearrange the wildflowers Casey had given her at breakfast—my God, are those pancakes still in my stomach?—in the cracked blue vase. The bouquet was the first thing he had ever given her, and she wanted them to last at least until bedtime. In spite of her gentle efforts, the small purple blossoms drooped in defeat, scattering curling petals all over the dusty windowsill; a couple of them seemed ready to jump to their deaths.

"C'mon, guys—drink up the nice water!" April coaxed. She was so intent on the flowers—or bare stems, at this point—that she didn't hear the knock on her door.

A purple-masked turtle poked his head into her room. "Uh…April?"

Lavender petals scattered wildly as she spun around. "Donny!"

He smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. I thought you heard me knock."

April ignored his apology. "What on God's green earth is that?" she asked, backing toward the wall.

Don looked down at the large blue hank of alien fiber in his hand. "It's hair."

He sat on the edge of April's bed as he told her about Jhanna. The Hair sat beside him, a blue, coiled lump.

"And when I woke up, she wasn't there," he finished. "But she left me this." He patted the Hair.

"You really like this girl, don't you?"

He shrugged. "Well, it's not like anything's going to come of it. I just have the Hair, now."

They looked at it.

"Uh, Don? Do you mind getting it off my bed? It's shedding all over my pillow."

Jhanna hadn't wanted to take his sleeping bag, but Don insisted. "You are preparing for the battle of a lifetime," he argued. "You need to get some rest." He certainly wouldn't mind sleeping on the cold ground for one night; besides, his shell provided all the insulation he needed to keep warm.

She was guarded, and fierce, and spectacular. Also, as Mikey pointed out in a whisper over dinner, she was "sort of like a combination of Klingon and Level 18 Paladin Elf."

A hot Elf, Don mentally added.

Later, lying next to her by the dying fire, staring up at the stars, he could just feel her arm touching his, and a long, stray blue braid tickling his cheek.

Splinter knew a thing or two about love triangles. For one thing, they were a frequent source of drama in his Stories. More significantly, he had witnessed the murder of Tang Shen, his Master Yoshi's true love, at the hands of Yukio. He still missed Tang Shen terribly, especially on rainy mornings. She always delighted in rainy mornings.

He had been concerned lately that a love triangle was upsetting the balance of his family. Both Donatello and Casey cared deeply about April, and he did not want to see his son broken-hearted—or worse. Therefore he was deeply relieved when Donatello brought him the Hair.

"It is…so very blue, my son."

"Yes, Father. She's an offworlder. Her name is Jhanna."

"And you have feelings for her, Donatello?"

His son's wide smile and eager brown eyes gave the answer away even before he started speaking. "Well, she flew inside this giant robotic exoskeleton—I knew it was friendly, but the others didn't believe me—and she's an amazing fighter…."

Splinter interrupted him. "And she gave you this hair? Why, my son?"

Donatello stroked the tightly braided coils in his hand and looked up at his father. His eyes were happy. "Because she has feelings for me, too."

Klunk loved the Hair. He batted at it and tore at it and knocked it under tables and back again. He pounced on it when it wasn't looking and kicked it up high with his hind legs. He stalked it and loved it and slept on it. He coughed up bits of it on Michelangelo's bed.

Mmmmm. Hair.

"Aaaaahhhhh!! Kill it! KILL IT!!"

Raphael emerged from the dojo, slick with sweat, to find Michelangelo frantically whacking at something with a broom in the kitchen. He rushed to his brother's side, then snorted and turned to go back to his workout.

"Chill, Mikey. It's just the Hair."

"Argh! Don KNOWS I hate it when he leaves it in the kitchen!"

Raph shrugged. The Hair didn't really bother him much. Sure, it was gettin' a little nasty and snarly around the edges, but it was just a pile of hair. It wasn't hurtin' nothing.

Donatello looked up as Leonardo stormed into his lab. "Donny, the guys have asked me to talk to you about the Hair."

Don's face tightened; he knew that this confrontation had been brewing for some time. His brothers just didn't understand about the Hair, which was his only connection to Jhanna. Leo especially didn't get it—and his increasingly angry attitude wasn't helping.

"Look, I'm sorry, Leo—I'll fix the clog in the sink in a few minutes, okay? As soon as I finish debugging this program."

Don hoped that his offer would be enough, that Leo would just go away. But lately everything with Leo was a fight. The narrowed eyes behind the blue mask told him that his older brother wasn't going to leave without an outburst of some kind.

But instead of his habitual angry snarl, Leo used a softer, deadlier tone of voice. "If I see that scruffy blue pile of crud lying around the lair one more time, Donatello, I am burning it." He left.

"Scruffy blue pile of crud," Don mumbled angrily. He would carry it with him, then. If they didn't like it, they didn't have to see it anymore.

"How much time do we have, Don?" Leonardo shouted. Blood poured from his shoulder and upper arm as he leaned weakly against the wall. Michelangelo pressed both of his hands against the wound, but warm, red fluid still leaked from the gash.

"Forty-five seconds!" Donatello yelled back. He had almost finished defusing the explosive device that Hun had left for them in the warehouse. He just needed something coarse but flexible that he could jam into the… "Hey, Raph—throw my bag over here! Now!"

Raphael was busy trying to force open the door that led to the only way out of Hun's trap, but he immediately obeyed Don, sweeping the bulky brown duffle bag toward his brother. Donatello pulled out a tangled blue skein and a knife, slicing off enough Hair to suit his purposes. The timer stopped with three seconds left on the clock.

"Done!" he called out, carefully stepping back from the bomb, wary of any secondary devices that Hun may have left behind. But for the moment it seemed they were safe.

"Leo!" shouted Mike. Immediately Raphael and Donatello rushed to their brother's side. Leonardo was pale, sliding in and out of consciousness.

"Help me get him up," ordered Don. "I need to stop the bleeding. Keep pressure on the wound!"

"Aw Fearless, c'mon now," whispered Raph as he helped Michelangelo lift their older brother onto a nearby pallet. "Gotta keep some juice inside that body."

Donatello looked at the deep slash across Leo's hard, muscular arm and pulled the rest of the Hair out of his bag. "Just a little more," he muttered, working the sticky blue mass into Leo's wound. It worked like a plug. Like a clog. Like a charm.

"Well maybe you should hang onto it a little bit longer," Raphael suggested.

They were standing in the woods near the Jones farm in Northampton, staring into the flames of a crackling campfire.

"I mean, it came in handy a couple times," Raph continued, "and it doesn't stink nearly as bad as it used to." He glanced over at Michelangelo, who was happily skipping rocks into the nearby millpond. "I don't think Mikey's even allergic to it. He hardly ever sneezes around it anymore, ya know?"

Don opened and closed his fingers around the remaining straggly blue braids. "It's time to let go, Raph. She's not coming back."

Leo stood silently behind Don, placing a strong hand on his brother's shoulder as he let the long strands fall into the fire. They stood motionless under a billion bright stars as the Hair crackled and burned with a silver light.

"What is that godawful SMELL?" April was suddenly standing next to him, her nose wrinkled up in an adorable way. "It's freezing out here! C'mon back to the house, guys."

She linked her warm arm in his as they walked home in the chilly moonlight.

A Brief A/N: I find "The People's Choice" (Season 4 of NT) to be one of the biggest "WTF?" episodes. Not only does a pleasant camping trip get interrupted by intergalactic political intrigue, but then Don crushes on a completely inappropriate girl who hacks off a big nasty chunk of hair and leaves it on him at the end. And he gets all misty-eyed and stows it in his backpack as the music rises and we fade to black. (Of course, in its defense, the ep is also host to one of my favorite NT scenes EVER: Raph riding the giant black snake monster and yelling out "Yeee-freakin'-ha!"

So my natural thought was, "What in heck is Don going to do with that hair? Keep it in a box? Hang it around his neck? From the rearview mirror? (actually, that's not a bad idea...) So I wrote this story. It was meant to be a drabble and gradually grew into something a bit larger. I had fun writing it and hope y'all enjoyed.