You know you shouldn't ask.

It's a fruitless line of inquiry. Nothing will change by asking, and it will soothe nothing in your heart. But you have to ask, and so (in penance?) you do so when everyone is there to hear. In penance, because you know your brothers will see it for what it is, and by now they won't even tease. They'll look at you with sympathy, or pity, and that is worse.

"Do you think you two would have gotten together if it weren't for us?"

Cloak it in teasing, in humor, and pray that when she turns her bright green eyes to you, she won't see right through you.

"You mean, would Casey and I have become an item if we hadn't spent a month cooped up together in a Northampton farmhouse?"

She teases right back, and your heart flutters. How can she not know? But Casey answers her rhetorical question with a loud guffaw and a slap on the table.

"Hell no, Don. You think a lady like her would have given a goon like me a first chance, let alone all those second chances, if she hadn't been forced to spend time with me?"

"Hey, she knew you before that. She woulda come around," Raph says, with touching loyalty to his friend. But Casey shakes his head.

"No way, man. I needed all that time to convince her I wasn't just some slob off the street with a penchant for breaking stuff." Raph snorts, belying his earlier show of support. Casey gives a disinterested swipe at his head. "Plus I saved her life. That's always popular with the ladies."

A laugh from those present, and an amused but sincere smile from April. I saved her life before you even met her, a very juvenile part of you thinks, and you stifle it quickly. Casey turns to Leo, grinning.

"So yeah, basically, this is all your fault." And the sweep of his hand includes not just the love of the woman beside him, but the warm apartment in a respectable neighborhood, the child in her arms and the sense of family that permeates this place. All Leo's fault that this 'slob off the street' got chance after chance when I never had one?Your stomach is in knots, and you wish you hadn't said anything.

Leo grins back.

"My fault? What are you talking about? Was it my fault I got tossed through April's window? No, clearly this is all the work of the Shredder."

And there's an uncomfortable, unbelieving silence, as you and those present try to figure out who this turtle is and what he's done with Leo. But then Mikey laughs and says,

"Yeah, just call 1-800-shred-head, for all your villainous match-making needs."

And his laughter gives everyone else permission to laugh, and you think maybe it wasn't such a fruitless line of inquiry after all, because this is the first time, after all those years, that Leo has been able to joke about what happened. And there's a new lightness next to the heaviness in your chest, and some of the knots untie themselves, and you think maybe it's time to move on.