History Bites: Epilogue
It took a great deal of hauling, lifting, shoving, and a thorough education in Japanese curse words before they managed to haul MastoDan out of the snow and back into the deserted museum. The police had shown up not long afterward, and had been so stymied by the snow spilling out across Central Park West that they'd been about to write the alarms off to a freak meteorological accident when Steve, still dazed from Dan's Kraang taser, stumbled into their midst. The cops pounced on him like a swarm of ants, leaving the rest of the museum clear for four turtles, their human colleague, and a large frozen mastodon to break in the back way.
April forgot sometimes just how strong the guys were. But in next to no time at all, they'd pilfered a shipping crate from the loading dock, stuffed the iceberg inside it, and April found herself sitting on a desk outside of the museum's massive specimen freezer watching Donnie, Leo, and Mikey argue over the best way to get the shipping crate - now marked "Biohazard! Do not thaw!" - through the freezer door.
Despite the crinkling foil blanket around her, April shivered, unable to shake the last of the bone-deep chill. She glanced over at Raph, stuffed into his own blanket next to her, and she couldn't hold back her smile. They hadn't thought she was listening when Donnie finally gave up the second blanket to Raph, but the weird acoustics of the freezer bay had made their voices carry.
As Leo and Mikey had a discussion about what to write on the shipping crate that seemed to involve an inordinate amount of shoving, Donnie turned his attention to Raph, who'd been shivering miserably ever since they'd finished lugging MastoDon down to the freezers. "What?" Raph had snapped, with that edged defensiveness he got when he was really uncomfortable and trying not to show it. "Oh, I get some attention now? Would have thought you'd be too worried about your girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend," Donnie said, the response clipped and automatic. But his tone softened as he stopped his diagnostic check and actually looked at his brother. "Besides, I wasn't worried."
Raph had blinked at that. "You weren't?"
"Well, no," he said, shaking out the blanket and wrapping the blanket around Raph. "You were with her. I knew she'd be just fine."
Raph stared at Donnie for another moment before a grin broke across his face, and he reached out of the blanket long enough to punch Donnie lightly in the shoulder. "And don't you ever forget that."
Despite the warmth of the memory, April shivered again, and was answered by a long-suffering sigh from the turtle next to her. "That's it," Raph said, filling the air with a resounding crinkle as he spread his arms. "If you get sick because of this, I'm never gonna hear the end of it. Get over here."
Meekly, April scooted closer and let him envelop her in his blanket. Between the shield of her foil wrap and the combined warmth of Raph and his own emergency blanket, her shivering finally subsided.
"Better," Raph said. "Seriously, how the heck do humans manage to survive without a shell?"
"I guess I'm just lucky that yours is thick enough for the two of us." Shifting beneath the blanket, April flicked the rim of his carapace.
Raph snorted, poking a finger into her ribs and making her double over with a sharp squeak. "Brat."
"Oh, you're one to talk!" April craned her neck to stare at him. "Come on. I'm the hothead?"
"Hey," he said, "I'm not the one who ploughed straight into a nest of Kraang on my own." He considered that a moment. "This time, anyway."
April winced. "Okay, point."
"Still," Raph said, "you did good, kid." He glanced down and grinned at her. "Thanks for the remedial history lesson, by the way. You may not be a kunoichi, but you're not bad to have around in a fight."
"Careful, Raph," April said. "That was almost nice."
He didn't say anything in response; instead, his arms tightened, driving another breathless squeak from her. But April was smiling as her head came to rest against his shoulder. Raph may be crude, gruff, and possessed of all the subtlety of an angry bull driving a speeding freight train, but there was a big heart beating beneath that thick shell. Sometimes it just took a hundred pounds of snow and ice to remind April that she had a place in that heart alongside the rest of his family.
The resonant clang of the freezer lock echoed throughout the room with solid finality, and Raph let her go as the others descended on them. With the Kraang gone, security absent until the morning shift arrived, and the authorities still trying to figure out the sudden summer blizzard outside, it took very little effort for four trained ninjas and one ninja trainee to slip into the sewers and emerge, blinking, into the winter wonderland that was Central Park a few minutes later.
The snow spilled in a widening arc from the museum, spreading across the street and bringing traffic to a standstill, coating the hillside of the park in pristine, gleaming white before it ended at the frozen expanse of the turtle pond.
"Whoa," April breathed.
"This…" Mikey breathed, moving to stand on her left as he stared out over the frozen pond. "This… is… Awesome!" Dancing from foot to foot, he reached out and seized April's hand. "'C'mon, let's go skating!"
The resultant dash down the hillside nearly yanked her arm from its socket, the blanket falling forgotten behind her. But she didn't need it any more. As she sprinted down the hill, the spray of snow around them glittering like stars in the moonlight, she might have fallen more than once – were it not for the three sets of hands working to catch her and keep her on her feet. And every time one of them caught her and set her right, a new thread of warmth coiled through her, until she no longer felt the cold.