CHAPTER ELEVEN

At the rink, there was a sense of unity from all assembled, as the kids were pouring onto the ice in droves and couples continued to make the most of their elegant and romantic glides across the floor.

As they skated and skidded across the floor, the helpless Vernon Fenwick was slumped somewhere in the middle, having slipped and fell on his bottom earlier, and finding himself unable to stand as a group of mischievous children surrounded him, holding hands and forming a protective circle, keeping him isolated. They began to sing an agonizing song.

"Ho Ho Hum, Santa's on his bum" they chanted. Vernon groaned.

What was worse was that, amongst the heckling kids, were Mr. Thompson's nephews, who had pressured their uncle to let them come down after seeing the turmoil Vernon had experienced in his Santa guise earlier.

While all this was unfolding, April was staring at her watch, checking the time, anxiously awaiting the arrival of her Phantom. It was almost time to hit the airwaves.

"Oh where is he? We're on in five" she said.

Suddenly, she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned around, and her worries melted away as a familiar face greeted her

"Happy holidays April" said the friendly voice of Leonardo, who was accompanied by Splinter and the Turtles' old allies, the Punk Frogs, all dressed in snugly jackets and mittens.

"Boy am I glad you got here. I heard the stations were all snowed in" April said

Leonardo nodded, "They certainly were, but the Frogs, sensei and I all volunteered to clear the paths as best we could" he said, "As a result, we couldn't pry ourselves away from it and couldn't deal with that hostage crisis down at the orphanage"

"We can only be thankful that the other, most urgent deed of the day was carried out by two of my students" Splinter said

"Speaking of them, where are Raphael and Michelangelo?" Leonardo asked, "Raphael told us to meet him, Mike and you here"

"Beats me Leonardo" April replied, "But at this rate, they'll have instants to spare rather than seconds"

"Boy it sure is nice seeing all those people dancing on top of frozen water like that" remarked Rasputin the Frog, "If only we could get some of that down in the swamp, it's always good and toasty down there"

"We've had such a nice bit of variety these last couple of hours" replied Napoleon Frog, "First by taking the bus rather than the pesky old sewer route, clearing up the busy Manhattan roads and getting a real taste of what a shovel can do, now I feel like going on the ice and showing everyone why frogs legs are the diamonds of the dance"

Donatello and Irma were the next to arrive, their dog in tow.

"We're here April" Irma said, "Now when exactly does the lout of the dance show up?"

"Be nice Irma...one of us has to be, since if he's any later I'm going to have to kill him" April said.

Leonardo noticed Donatello's arm was wrapped around Irma's.

"Are you in the escort business now or are you just happy to see her?" Leonardo asked. Donatello, alarmed, quickly yanked his arm out of Irma and waved to Leonardo.

A police car suddenly pulled up behind them, and out of it emerged Michelangelo and Raphael

"Thanks for the ride copper dude" Michelangelo replied, waving to officer Barrette, who waved back before driving away.. The two turtles walked over to greet Leonardo, the Frogs, Splinter, and April.

"I'm ready to put on a show dudette" he said. April took one look at the tattered, coal-ridden remnants of his outfit and tried to hold back her laughter.

"Yeah, you sure look the part" April remarked sarcastically, and pointed to the rink, "Brush yourself down a bit and get into the swing of things, let's really make an impact out there, just not the kind Vernon tends to make"

Michelangelo was nervous, but steeled himself up for the occasion, and, after wiping some of the dirt from his outfit, he took April's hand and glided across the ice. As the cameras came to life, so did the pair of them, starting off elegantly with a slow dance, then, as April whispered instructions to Michelangelo on what to do next, co-originating the entire session so he couldn't screw it up.

Michelangelo tried following everything to the letter, but on some occasions he slipped. He compensated for this by, at points where he thought he was careering out of control, he would pick April off of her feet and, before hitting the edge of the rink, stuck out one foot, it graced the side, enabling him to propel the foot off of it and dash back on to the rink with one leg still perched upright. April was impressed

"I've seen you sweep me off my feet when rescuing me from a burning building, but this is a whole other level for you" she said. Michelangelo smiled.

The burst of enthusiasm from her seemed to calm his nerves and the two were able to finish off the dance without much more incident. As April made the signal for the cameras to cut, she and Michelangelo gave each other a high five.

"Thanks for the dance lesson dudette, we're a total team out there" Michelangelo replied

"Think nothing of it Mike" April said

Michelangelo scratched the back of his head anxiously, "Er, April, I know this is a bit of a stretch for you to accept this, but according to Raph, I heard this was how you apply for this big thing I wanted you to go with me to..."

"Here it comes, here it comes" Raphael said excitedly, rubbing his hands and sporting a sinister grin.

"What are you getting at Mike?" April said

Michelangelo dug deep into his pocket and produced a small purple case, he popped it open, revealing a small brass ring dotted with micro sized diamond pebbles.

April clasped both of her hands together and put them against her mouth, she was awestruck

"Will you..." Michelangelo attempted to ask, but found himself stuttering, "Will you..."

Raphael couldn't contain himself anymore, he laughed out loud hysterically, "Oh boy, this is going into my next book on the best pranks ever, just look at the expression on her face"

"What are you up to now Raphael?" Leonardo said.

"Calm down Raph, calm down" Raphael said to himself, "I want to hear what she says about this, oh when I'm good, I'm good"

"Will you..." Michelangelo continued, trying desperately to get the words out. April put one finger to his mouth and whispered "sshhh", before saying "yes"

"But I didn't finish the question" Michelangelo said.

"You don't have to say anything else...yes, yes, I'll marry you" April replied

Raphael felt like punching the air, "Yes, that's what I'm..."

He suddenly froze, the magnitude of what he'd said coming to him.

"What did she say?" he said out loud.

"Not what I was getting at...but...hey, score one for bachelor Ninja Turtles everywhere" Michelangelo said, and threw his arms around April, the two embracing as several other people on the ice wiped their tears and applauded the sight

"Obviously I've missed a scene or two in this episode?" Irma said

"I don't get it, she was supposed to...to...she wasn't meant to..." Raphael said to himself repeatedly.

"Nothing in life goes by the design of the one individual, but by the intent and heart of those united with common purpose" Splinter said, "I feel most proud today to see that tradition of life maintained"

"It was just a joke, that thing we got her was dirt cheap, I wouldn't have said 'yes' with a thing like that"

"It's the thought that counts Raphael" Donatello replied.

As the music on the rink's loudspeakers started up, "Finally Found" by Honeyz, everyone resumed dancing, including April and Michelangelo, all whilst Raphael continued to try and dissect just how much his prank had backfired.

"How was I?" April whispered to Michelangelo

"You were loud and proud babe" Michelangelo replied, he took another look at Raphael, "Think we should leave him like that all week?"

"It was a good thing you used your bathroom break earlier to let me in on what he was trying to pull on you, at least he didn't tell you what his idea of babysitting was, then we'd really be in trouble"

"I may be a little empty in the nest sometimes, but I've still got one chick in there that's well-fed" Michelangelo replied, happy to signify that he wasn't as gullible as Raphael had assumed, and that he had successfully gotten the better of the prankster of the group.

April kissed him on the forehead.

"Thanks" she said, "I've been struggling with finding the right answer for ages now...I don't think with everything that goes on that I'll ever find someone regular I can have a similar experience with. If anyone had to ask me that question, I'm glad it was you"

"Happy to oblige babe" Michelangelo replied, and ticked April's nose with his right hand.

"Mike?" April said.

"What?" Michelangelo replied

"Does it have to end?" she said.

"Woah...you mean...you want to actually keep this going for a week?" Michelangelo said, "Why not cut it off when the jokes in it's prime?"

"What if it doesn't have to be a joke?" April said, wrapping her arms around Michelangelo's neck. The Turtle got hot and heavy very quickly as uncertainty coursed through him.

"You said you couldn't find someone" Michelangelo said

"I said someone regular." she replied, "You guys have always been right up my street. Especially you. You've been sharing and saving my world so many times it's high time I swooped in and shared yours"

"This is a pretty gnarly notion April...especially for two friends" Michelangelo replied, the dance helping to ease his nerves.

"We're best friends Mike. Best friends can make the most incredible things happen if they're brave enough, and I know precisely just how brave you are. No matter how much the weight of the world feels like it's pinning you down, you have the strength to lift it high above your shoulders and endure a task that puts even Atlas to shame"

"People are so gonna talk" Michelangelo said.

"Let them, so long as they say "that girl likes him, and he likes her"...do you Mike? Do you like me?"

Michelangelo was on the spot, part of him thought it wasn't fair, part of him was open to answering, excited, unsure, happy, conflicted, all the range of emotions were open to him. He chose in this instant to be brave.

"Of course I do. I always have...just never thought you'd ever..." he began, April cut him off by gently pressing her head against his.

"It's ok my brave little party dude" she whispered, "You can think about a lot of different things now"

As the music came to a stop the two ceased dancing and stood in the centre of the rink, they both looked up at the twinkling stars. They saw a shooting comet fly past.

"Think we should go as fast as that?" she asked

"I'm a turtle babe. We're going the only pace I know. Slow" he said.

"You're the boss" April replied, "And at least a boss like you won't dock my pay"

"So are we still going to that martial arts thing?" Michelangelo said.

"Oh totally" April said, posing in a fighting stance jokingly.

Eventually, the two left the rink, and, after April had overseen a few more cuts of the programme in the news van's editing suite for the complication programme over Christmas, joined the Turtles and the Frogs in the Turtle Van.

As the van drove down the busy streets, Raphael was still trying to piece together what had happened.

"I don't get it...you two? YOU TWO?" he continued, "Who in the heck would marry the pair of you?"

"Last I checked, Casey Jones is still a master of ceremonies down in Texas" Leonardo replied, smiling.

"Don't you join in too" Raphael said.

"Boy, I sure am hungry" Rasputin said, "Any chance we can head on down to your lair and chow down on some food, anything but Pizza will do"

"Sorry guys, I had a roast going, but there were complications" Donatello replied.

"Don't worry, I've got a plump one back at home, we can have dinner over there" Irma said. Donatello grinned.

"Where have you been all my life?" he asked.

The van pulled over at the traffic lights, where a lot of angered drivers were busy hammering their car horns and making a lot of commotion.

"What's going on there?" Leonardo asked, and peered out.

He caught a glimpse of a bunch of hoodlums jumping up and down the cars, knocking over newsstands and threatening helpless citizens, a few police cars were there, but the cops seemed helpless as hostages had been taken

"Guess there's no rest for the wicked even at this time of year" Leonardo said

"Of course, the prison break-out, we forgot all about it" Raphael said

"The let's make sure those crooks don't forget who protects this city" Leonardo said, getting out of the car and darting through the traffic, "Come on Turtles"

"Alright, time to deliver some much needed Christmas beatings" Michelangelo yelled, tearing off his disguise and jumping out of the van, before turning back and offering April his hand, "You don't mind working on our first date do you?"

"Are you kidding? There's nothing better than coping with stories like this every day of your life" April said, and took his hand as he led out of the van, the two ran after Leonardo.

Donatello followed, "They might need some logic thrown into this" he said to Irma, Irma kissed him on the cheek, "Go and blind him with science" she said.

"Ok, all this mushiness is getting me so riled up, I'm going to give any Coney island cousin I see an extra few knocks on the noggin if I see any kissing going on" he said, and also ran out of the van in pursuit of his brothers.

"Hey, don't forget about us" said Napoleon, as he and the other Frogs followed them out.

All that was left were Splinter and Irma, watching the Turtles and Frogs take to the streets to deliver as best a brand of justice as they could dish out. So much had changed for some of the Turtles in such short a time, but when push came to shove, they remained the same as they always were.

"Those mutants sure are miracles aren't they Mr. Splinter" Irma remarked.

"To preserve peace and love, and ensure fun...merry Christmas from us...everyone" Splinter said, and delivered a small wink to an invisible camera

"Who are you winking at?" Irma asked.

THE END