I know I promised no more interludes until History Bites was over. But this is a very special interlude. Snuffes did one of the first pieces of fanart for Falling, and latched onto one of the action figures in "Serious Business" in a way that made me want to tell that story. It's been in the back of my head ever since I saw her artwork about it, but this was the perfect opportunity to tell it.
Happy Birthday, Snuffes.
Petunia the Destroyer (An Interlude)
"Ha ha! Your puny forest powers are no match for my mastery over the undead! Prepare to face undead possum fury, princess fairy!"
"Fool! Your powers of reanimation may work against ordinary villains, but they stand no chance against my radioactive death rays!"
"No fair, April, that's cheating!"
"No it isn't. Why do you think she glows in the dark."
Leo made his way gingerly down the steps from the dojo, rubbing muscles still aching from his workout with Splinter, and dropped down on the bench next to Donnie. Looking up at the two figures racing around the perimeter of the pit, he raised a brow. "Are they still at it?"
"Yup," Donnie sighed. "Captain Cadaver is holding his own, but I think Petunia might be gaining the upper hand." A doofy grin spread across his face. "She is so cool."
"Eat fairy death ray!" April cried as she chased Mikey up the steps toward the dojo.
"Why's she dressed so nice?" Leo asked Donnie. He couldn't recall ever seeing her out of her regular clothes, unless it was the hoodie she used for undercover missions. Or her pyjamas. The yellow sundress was new.
Donnie glared at him. "She's always dressed nice!"
Before Leo had a chance to defend himself, a shout from the ledge drew his attention. "You shall never triumph, Petunia! For I know your greatest weakness!" Mikey struck a pose, his face a mask of sinister glee that immediately brought Leo to wary attention. "Water!"
April's eyes widened, and it was her own voice, not Petunia's, that protested, "Wait, Mikey, no!"
But it was too late. Mikey was already in motion, his hands striking her shoulders just hard enough to overbalance her, and with a shriek, April toppled off the ledge and splashed into the pool below.
Donnie was on his feet and moving even faster than Leo. As Mikey stood on the ledge, crowing over his victory, Donnie waded in after April, catching her under the arms and hauling her to her feet. Leo, however, stopped at the edge of the pool to pick up the fallen fairy. She looked so small in the palm of his hand, and he couldn't help wondering why April had made sure to throw her clear of the water as she fell.
"April!" Donnie held her steady, brushing her wet bangs out of her eyes. "Are you okay? Are you hurt? Do you need medical attention?"
April shook him off, rounding on the ledge with fury etched in the line of every muscle. "Michelangelo!"
On his ledge, Mikey froze. Even Donnie took a step back, as Leo blinked in surprise. He'd never heard anything that angry coming from April. Mikey shrank in on himself as April stormed to the edge of the pool, ignoring Leo's extended hand as she hauled herself out.
"I...I was just..." Mikey stammered.
"You were just ruining this dress!" April looked down at herself, wringing out the hem of the sundress. "I have to be at my grandma's for dinner in an hour, and now my dress is covered in sewer water!" Turning on her heel, April stormed toward the bathroom, and the sound of the door slamming echoed throughout the lair.
Leo looked up at Mikey's stricken face. "We were just playing..." Mikey whispered.
"I'll go talk to her," Leo said. "Donnie, can you make a run to her aunt's apartment and see if there's anything else that would do for dinner with grandma?"
Donnie shook himself, and the look of shock on his face was replaced with determination. "Sure."
"I'm going too," came Raph's voice from the direction of the bedrooms. As he walked into the pit, arms folded, he raised a brow. "What? You think a closed door is going to block yelling like that?"
"Why are you going?" Leo asked.
"Because he's not allowed to be alone in April's room."
Donnie glowered at him, affronted. "I'm not going to do anything."
"Of course not. 'Cause I'll be there." Raph grabbed Donnie's arm and hauled him bodily toward the turnstiles. "Come on, fancypants. We're on a deadline."
As the other two headed off on their mission, Leo made his way to the bathroom door. After some time, the sound of running water stopped, and he knocked quietly. "April?"
"Go away, Leo."
"I was just wondering if you wanted Petunia back."
There was a few moments of silence, and the door opened. April, wearing the gi she used for rigorous practice, stared down at the action figure sitting in Leo's open palm. She took it from him carefully, and he watched the tension drain from her face as she saw that the fairy was intact and unharmed. She looked at him, her eyes dark with chagrin.
"Where's Mikey?" she asked quietly.
"I'm sorry, April." The voice from around the corner was barely audible.
April sighed and rounded the corner to where Mikey sat, arms wrapped around his knees and his head drawn halfway into his shell. Kneeling next to him, she placed a hand on one of his knees. "No, I'm sorry. I totally overreacted. I just..." she looked down at the action figure in her hand.
"She's special," Leo said.
"Yeah," April replied, and looked down at Mikey. "You wanna hear the story of how I got her?"
Wide blue eyes stared up at her, and Mikey emerged from his shell a little as he nodded.
"Well," April said, sitting cross legged on the floor, leaning against Leo as he joined her. "It's more my dad's story, really. It starts about nine years ago..."
Time always seemed to stretch to his an eternity when his sister started going off on a tangent about something or other that displeased her, so it took a while for Kirby to realize that he actually hadn't seen his daughter in quite some time. Finally managing to disengage from the latest diatribe, he snagged his youngest cousin to take his place with his sister, and set off in search of April.
Scents of turkey and stuffing, oranges and spice threaded the air as he wandered through his mother's house. The decorations on the walls brightened the normally stuffy atmosphere, as did the laughter of all of April's cousins.
At last, as he was climbing the stairs to the attic, he heard it; a soft, muffled sound coming from the cubby underneath the stairs. He knocked lightly and tugged open the cubby door.
April raised her tear-stained face, blinking in the sudden light. The pigtails he'd painstakingly put in her hair, adorned with cheerful red and green tartan ribbons, seemed far too lighthearted for the serious look that shadowed her eyes.
Kneeling next to her, Kirby placed a hand on her head. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"
His little girl sniffled miserably and held up a brightly coloured box. "A-auntie gave m-me Petunia the P-Princess Fairy." Inside the box, a sweet-faced fairy peered out through the plastic window, adorned with an improbable amount of lace and sequins for what was supposed to be – he looked more closely at the label – the princess fairy of the forest. Decals on the box enthusiastically proclaimed "lights up in the dark!" and "wand sold separately!"
Nonplussed, Kirby looked down at his daughter. "And that's bad?"
A fresh wave of tears welled in April's eyes and rolled down her face. "I w-wanted Hero Knight Valorous. I told her I wanted V-Valorous, b-but she got me Petunia anyway!"
Kirby closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Not for the first time, he wished April's mother were here to deal with this, because he was fairly certain nothing in his scientific training covered princess fairies. "What's wrong with Petunia?" he asked cautiously. "She seems….nice."
April's look changed immediately from bereft to outraged, and she slammed the box down on the floor. "Princess Fairies never get to do all the fun stuff! When the evil Ogre Trolls threaten the Mystical Valley, it's the Hero Knights who go out and have all the fun adventures. The Princess Fairies just sit in the castles and try on clothes and do each otherses hair and hope that the Knights do okay! I told Auntie that's why I wanted a Hero Knight, but she said that I spent more than enough time around men and needed to know what girls are supposed to do!"
The rant came fast and furious and left Kirby blinking in its wake as he attempted to follow it. He got the important points well enough, though, and a wave of anger stormed through him as he realized what his sister had been telling his little girl. With a quiet sigh, he picked her up and pulled her into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. He'd be having words with his sister later, but right now, April needed him.
"Sweetie, listen to me very carefully. Where would we be if they'd told Lisa Meitner she had to clean the house and wasn't allowed to study Physics?"
April sniffled, resting her head against Kirby's chest as she gazed up at him with mournful eyes. "We wouldn't have nuclear fission?"
"That's right," he said, tapping her nose gently. "And if Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin had become a teacher like she was supposed to instead of moving to the US to study at Harvard?"
"We wouldn't know what the sun is made of." Her voice was still uncertain, but one of her hands rested against his chest, her fingers tracing over the smile sported by the reindeer on the ridiculous Christmas sweater he had worn because April insisted on it.
Kirby smiled. "Exactly. And do you know what these ladies had that let them make all these incredible discoveries?"
Her features scrunched up as she considered that, and he could see the wheels turning in her head. "Knowledge?" she ventured.
"Well, yes," he said, reaching over to fix one of her Christmas ribbons. "But what did Einstein say is even more important than that?"
Recognition burst across her face like a sunrise. "Imagination!" she said.
"Imagination," Kirby repeated. "That's something you have, just like Lisa, and Cecilia, and Hypatia, and all the other lady scientists in the murals your wall. And that's a very powerful thing, April."
"But…" she looked down at the box on the floor. "I don't get how that makes Petunia less lame…"
Placing a gentle finger beneath April's chin, he tilted her head up so that she was looking at him again. "Who says Petunia has to be lame?"
"That's the way she is on the show," April answered, confusion clouding her eyes.
"But you have a very powerful tool in here, young lady." Kirby tapped her forehead gently. "You don't have to do what Petunia does on the show. She's your toy. If you don't like her story, you can create your own. She can be anything you can imagine, sweetheart. You decide what Petunia is going to be."
She turned eyes full of wonder to him, and for a brief moment, his heart broke from how much he loved her. "I can do that?"
"You can do anything you want, honey."
In the instant before she lunged forward, wrapping her arms around his neck, Kirby could see in her eyes the possibilities that began to dawn on her. He held her close, smiling as she nestled her head under his chin. Sometimes, it was hard to believe that this incredible little human being was actually his.
"I love you, Daddy," she said, her voice muffled against him.
Giving her a little squeeze, Kirby kissed the top of her head. "I love you too, Princess."
He held her long enough to dry her tears, and they left the cubby under the stairs behind. April's little hand held tightly to his as they made their way back downstairs, Petunia clutched beneath her other arm. Christmas dinner was just being set out on the table, and Kirby paid close attention as his sister entered the room, but April showed no signs of her earlier upset, even thanking her aunt profusely for Petunia as she sat down at the table. She laughed and clapped her hands with glee as they pulled the Christmas crackers, and as Kirby watched her oldest cousin place the little paper crown on April's head, he couldn't help but give himself a small mental pat on the back.
His sister could keep her opinions to herself. He wasn't half bad at this whole parenting thing after all.
It had started out to be the worst Christmas ever. But it had ended as one of the best. After dinner, she kissed her Grandma, and hugged all of the cousins, and thanked her aunt again for Petunia. Barely even able to let her go as her father bundled her into her coat and wrapped her scarf around her neck, April grabbed Petunia again as soon as she could, wriggling impatiently as her dad slipped April's earmuffs over her ears.
They headed down the steps for the cold walk home, and she held tightly to her father's hand, looking down at the box as the glow from Petunia's dress and wings began to shimmer in the evening's shadows. That was pretty cool. It was the unearthly green glow of nuclear fission. It was the glow that would spell doom for her enemies. As a light snow began to fall, April smiled down at her new toy with megalomaniacal satisfaction.
For this was Petunia the Princess Fairy no more. After being left out of the adventure once too often, Petunia was no longer a friend to the Hero Knights. Instead, she would use her power to conquer the kingdom and rule it with an iron fist.
From now on, the Mystical Valley would tremble before the wrath of Petunia the Destroyer.
"Wow," Mikey said, looking with new appreciation at the fairy, which was glowing now in the dim light of the tunnels beneath the nearest exit to April's grandmother's house. "Petunia's more awesome than I thought."
"She's the awesomest," said April, one hand smoothing out the skirt of the green dress Raph and Donnie had brought for her.
Mikey thought for a second, pausing with his hand on the ladder to the exit. "Your dad's pretty cool, too."
Her expression softening, April nodded. "Yeah, he is."
"You gonna be okay from here?" Leo asked.
"Yeah," said April, looking up at the exit. "Just stay away from the bottom of the ladder when I'm climbing up, okay?"
Raph laid a restraining hand on Donnie's shoulder. "You got it." Donnie shot him an insulted look, but remained silent.
April turned, grabbing onto the ladder with one hand, but paused as she brought up the other, looking at the glowing figure of the princess fairy. "You know," she said, "Petunia needs to be with people who understand her. I think maybe I should leave her with someone cool for safekeeping 'till I get back." Stepping off the ladder, she pressed the little fairy gently into Mikey's hand.
Michelangelo stared down at it with utter astonishment, and his gaze snapped back up to April. An instant later, her feet were off the ground and she was giggling as Mikey swept her into a hug.
"I'll take the best care of her ever, I promise!"
April patted him on the head lightly as he released her. "I know you will, buddy."
Mikey held Petunia close, fending off Donnie's attempts to get near the action figure, and Leo couldn't help but snicker at Raph's expression of utter disgust. He glanced at April in time to see her reach the exit, and she smiled at him, offering a little wave. Leo waved back, keeping an eye on her until she was clear, then turned back to his brothers, watching them thoughtfully.
Petunia may have been formidable. But when he considered it, he found that April's method of ruling hearts was a whole lot better.