A/N: What's this…? Two chapters in 24 hours? Unheard of!
A HUGE HUGE thanks to my dear BETA reader Poleepkwana/Suthnmeh - couldn't have finished this without her help!
Stirring in that blissful place between sleep and awakeness, April tried her very best to ignore the waking world and rolled over. Looking for a comfortable spot, she stretched out her legs in front of her and was momentarily confused when she found something next to her in bed.
Slowly, she cracked her eyes open to investigate, finding Donatello laying beside her, wide awake and watching her with an amused smile on his features.
In that one look her recollection of the night before was restored. Suddenly she was reliving the passion-filled kisses and the confessions of love that left her smiling to herself.
"Hey you." She mumbled, trying to blink away the last of her sleep.
"What time is it?" April asked, pushing up on her arms to try and look around the room. But even after living underground for many weeks, she had still not shaken the habit of expecting the sunlight to be peeking in through windows that weren't there.
Giving up easily, she collapsed down onto the soft bed and snuggled up to Donnie's side.
"It's early." He answered, and despite her face being buried against his arm, she could hear the grin in his voice.
Turning up to face him, she forced her groggy eyes back open. "Why are you so awake?"
"It probably has to do with the fact that I basically slept all day yesterday."
April stuck her tongue out in response to his teasing tone. And was rewarded with a chuckle.
"Have you just been watching me sleep all night?" She asked curiously.
"Not all night." He averted his gaze feeling a little foolish. "I just woke up a little while ago."
"Why didn't you wake me up?" April asked, as she draped a lazy arm across him in a half hug and softly kissed his shoulder.
"It's really early." Donnie explained. "In fact, I should sneak out of here before the others wake up and we get in trouble."
April let out a disappointed sigh. "But I don't want you to go." She mumbled into his pebbled skin, as she tried her best not to fall asleep again.
Donatello's arm had somehow snuck its way around her back, helping to cradle her closer to him. He gently rubbed her back as he spoke. "I know, but remember how you also wanted to avoid being teased by my brothers? Well, they would never let us hear the end of this!"
A moment went by as April thought about what he'd just said, trying her best to accept that he was right, when suddenly something else occurred to her.
She sprang up, propping herself on her elbows to get a good look at him. A curious glint in his eyes at her sudden change.
"I just realized something I forgot to ask you." She stated simply.
She watched as Donnie's brows came together. "What's that?"
"Well, I figured it was my turn…" She smiled as mischievously as she could, dragging out the sentence to make him wonder if just for a minute. "Donatello… would you like to be my boyfriend?"
He let out a hearty laugh, obviously having not been expecting her to say that.
April let a fake-unamused grin cross her face at the joy she had caused, and attempted to roll her eyes as though unimpressed with this response.
He stopped his laughter abruptly, and clamped his lips shut pretending her fake scolding had worked. But the efforts lasted for less than a few seconds before he was grinning again. "Absolutely I'll be your boyfriend."
He reached across himself to gently place a hand on her cheek and guide her down to his lips.
April let her eyelids flutter closed again as she leaned down to meet him. The kiss was slow and lazy, as opposed to the intensity and urgency of the ones they had shared the night before. Something about this moment in time, snuggled together, sharing a bed, and talking about being a couple; it felt as though they had the rest of their lives to explore this new found love.
As their embrace ended, April leaned back on her elbows again to smile at her boyfriend propped up in the pillows beside her.
From behind purple fabric his eyes squinted as he watched her, as though silently asking what she was thinking about.
"Do you usually wear your mask to bed?" She asked with a cock of her head and a raised eyebrow.
She had known her friend for a while now and he was never very good at hiding his reactions, especially from her. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to cloak the slight flicker of discomfort that crossed his features.
"No." He answered quietly after a beat too long.
"You know you're cute, right? Like adorable and handsome rolled into one." April teased, poking him in the side as he tried to roll his eyes in disbelief.
Donnie shrugged, brushing off her 'cute' comments, but she could see the smile tug at his cheeks, knowing that he liked hearing it. She changed her tone, so that he'd know she was serious and added, "I don't want you to feel like you can't be yourself around me. There's no need to hide."
He nodded silently, a serene smile spread wide. "I know…. I just honestly, sort of forgot about it."
April giggled with a slight nod. "Ok, I get that. I woke up about an hour after we fell asleep, to clumsily remove my contacts."
"I guess we're pretty good at distracting each other." He remarked with a smirk. "And speaking of distractions, I was supposed to be leaving." He slowly sat up, much to April's disappointment. "Someone is going to catch us."
"We should just tell everyone." The words spilled out from her mouth.
Donnie turned to look at her sitting up behind him. "Really?"
"Yeah." She shrugged with a smile. "I'm pretty sure they are all making assumptions anyways. Let's make it official and tell them we're a couple."
"I love that plan." Donnie smiled, leaning over to kiss her again. "But either way, If sensei finds out about this..." He swirled his hands between them indicating the bed they both slept in. "... he'll never leave the two of us alone again."
"Well, we won't tell them everything." April winked playfully.
This evoked another laugh and Donnie shook his head at her banter. "Go back to sleep, silly."
With one last peck, he scooped up his pile of gear from the floor and left the room.
April fell back onto her pillows, sighing at the overwhelming sensation of happiness that seemed to flood through her. She closed her eyes, smiling to herself.
Stepping through the thick curtain and out into the dark hallway, Donnie peeked around for any sign of a snooping brother. He and April may have been ready to tell the family that they were officially a couple, but that didn't mean it was anyone's business what they were doing when they were alone. Not to mention the earful he's sure he'd get from Master Splinter. Just the thought of the 'birds and the bees' talk that was sure to follow made him cringe.
Still reliving the memories of the last several hours, Donnie sighed to himself contently as he meandered to his lab across the hall.
The girl of his dreams loved him back. It was a rather amazing high, after the emotional roller coaster that the last couple of days had been.
So caught up in his memories, he did not even notice his eldest brother as he just about collided with him in the doorway of his lab.
"Whoah, sorry!" Donnie sputtered, dropping one of his knee pads from the pile in his arms. "You surprised me!"
"Sorry Donnie, didn't mean to startle you." Leo responded, squatting down to grab the leather pad off the ground. "I couldn't really sleep, so I thought I would help clean up some of the messes left over from the wasp, and Mikey had mentioned that your lab was in real bad shape and—" He suddenly stopped mid sentence and his brow knitted together as he looked over the object in his hand and then back up to Donnie's face.
Donnie swallowed an audible gulp and willed himself not to turn red.
"Did you just come from April's room?" Leo pointed across the way. "Carrying all of your gear? In the very early morning hours?" Leo's own cheeks seemed to flush as he was slowly putting the puzzle pieces together.
"I uh…. I was just…. We were only sleeping!" Donnie finally blurted, knowing it wasn't even worth his breath to attempt a lie.
"Donnie!" Leo exclaimed in a shocked sort of manner.
Donnie felt as if his cheeks were on fire and wanted nothing more than to run and hide. He opened his mouth a few times to try and retort, but found he couldn't even decide what argument was worth having. Before he could land on one, his brother clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"Donnie, breathe already, I'm not going to rat you out." He smirked at the use of the code term they had come up with as kids, in reference to the six foot rat they'd be tattling to. "I know you aren't that suave." He laughed with a wink.
Donnie's shoulders slumped forward and he returned what he hoped was his best glare.
"I'm glad you and April worked things out. I'm happy for you two."
"Really?" Donnie asked honestly.
"Yeah, I don't know… seeing you two together… it kind of gives the rest of us hope, you know?" Leo looked up with a sad sort of smirk in the corner of his mouth. "I mean let's be honest, we never really thought anyone would be willing to give us a chance, right?"
Donnie reluctantly had to nod his head in agreement. Despite his hopeless crush on April, he really never expected anything to come of it, and just assumed he'd carry on his life with this unrequited love looming over him.
"But you two just prove that it's possible for someone to actually care about us. To see past the green and the shell and get to know us for who we really are." Leo's face was solemn while he thought over what he'd just said.
Donnie wondered if he should say something about Karai, and how she seemed to at least not be afraid of them, but he held his tongue. That relationship was a complicated one, and so far, she was on his bad list after attempting to kidnap April on more than one occasion. So he settled instead with just a silent nod in agreement.
And like that, Leo wiped any reminence of his feelings from his features and stood a little taller. Donnie could tell he was about to say something using his very best leader voice.
"But now we need to work on training with April alongside us and also making sure that you two know how to keep your head in the game, when the moment calls for it."
Donnie nodded. "Absolutely Leo, I won't let it mess with my focus."
Leo seemed skeptical, but accepted his answer and nodded his head in return. "So, do you want some help cleaning the lab? Or were you going to actually get some sleep now?" Leo waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Feeling his cheeks heat up again, Donnie ignored his teasing. "Nah, I've slept plenty the last fews days. Some help would be great."
Telling the family that they were now a couple had been less of an ordeal than either of them had built it up to be. Just as April had assumed, pretty much everyone seemed to already know that there was something going on between them.
They had told the group over family breakfast. It had been their regularly scheduled day of rest, and Mikey as per usual had insisted on serving a nice meal of pancakes after they'd all had the chance to sleep in.
No sooner than the words had left her mouth, April was practically plowed over by an eager Mikey who had been so excited to hug and welcome her into the family, that he'd also knocked over the carton of orange juice in the process.
Leonardo had smiled and shared a sort of look with Donatello that April had definitely noticed. He had confessed to her that Leo had caught him sneaking out of her room and they'd already had a "talk" about things, but he hadn't really gone into details about it.
Raph locked eyes with her and nodded his head in the same way he did when he was proud of a new move she had finally mastered in training. She figured that was about the best possible response she could expect from him these days and was grateful that he was able to look her in the eye again.
Similar to his son in blue, Splinter had sat with a warm smile and took in the reactions of his family around him. She expected he would want to have a more private father-son talk with Donnie at some point, but for now seemed content to just enjoy the moment.
Feeling the love and approval of her new family around her was more emotional than April had anticipated. She was surprised to feel the tears fighting to break free, as she looked around the table at the ragtag family who had taken her in, and the one beside her who had shared his heart.
The conversations picked up again, and with the focus back off them, Donnie leaned in to whisper in her ear. "I promise you, soon enough we'll have your dad here to celebrate with us."
The next few weeks flew by in a whirlwind of bliss, full of shared kisses and whispered secrets. At least when they managed to find time to be alone.
Mikey had decided it was his duty to give the new lovebirds their own celebrity couple name and had dubbed them "Apriltello", preferring to refer to them as if they were one entity. It had been kind of adorable at first, but by the third day Donatello had collapsed onto April's bed and declared that he now understood why she hadn't been in any hurry to tell the family about their relationship status.
April had once again picked up her training sessions with Raph, three days a week and with a much lower intensity level than what they had originally started with. If the boy in red was still feeling uncomfortable around her, he was doing a much better job hiding it. By the end of their first session back, he was knocking her down, tossing her across the room and teasing her for missing an easy strike, just like the good ol' days.
The one new rule that April had made, was that this was their time; her's and Raph's. No talking about dating and Donatello was absolutely not allowed to join their practice sessions, even as an observer. He had been a little hurt at first, but came to understand that especially with them living under the same "roof", or technically subway tunnels, it was essential that they had a few activities that didn't involve the other. And after the steamy make out session they had had as April went about reminding Donnie that he was the only turtle for her, she was pretty sure he felt better about things.
Late one night, now that Donnie had found time to replace the main television damaged in the wasp fight, April found herself in one of her favorite places. Laying on the living room benches watching a movie with the boys. Her legs sprawled across Donnie's lap as he balanced her laptop across her, furiously typing away, trying to make sense of what he thought was an encrypted message.
Mikey had chosen the movie and as per usual, what had started as a collection of groans, became a room full of hushed enthrallment as all but one pair of eyes sat glued to the screen. Only looking away long enough to pass around the tub of popcorn.
Donnie had been alternating between spouts of typing and casually reaching over to run his fingers through her hair or caress her shoulder. It was definitely her favorite thing about them "coming out" to the family; Donnie's desire to touch her as often as he could. Nothing over-the-top or really anything to be considered PDA, but she noticed that he often sought out her hand to hold as they sat together, or casually brush her bangs from her face, or simply touch her arm if he walked up to stand beside her. Even the most innocent of touches made her skin burn with desire at the point of contact.
She adjusted her position to give him better access to the side of her neck, and wiggled her toe against his thigh in a playful 'thank you'.
His fingers dragged a little path down the side of her neck and over her shoulder as his hand went back to the laptop. After a series of clicks, he let out a gasp.
"Stop the movie you guys."
Raph groaned for good measure, but immediately hit the pause button, sensing the urgency in Donatello's voice.
"I did it. I decrypted the file."
Everyone perked up and April scooted her legs out from under the computer so she could sit up beside him as the brothers moved closer to hear. Donatello turned up the volume on the speaker and clicked play.
A tinny sort of static was the first to come through, but it was followed by a familiar voice that April would recognize anywhere.
"April, this is your Dad…"
She let out a gasp as her hands shot up to cover her mouth in astonishment. Squished in beside her to see the screen, Leonardo placed a comforting hand on her shoulder as they all sat in silence listening to Mr. O'Neil explain that he was being held captive.
"We found him!" Donnie's eyes lit up as a map hidden within the depths of the file opened on the screen, a blinking marker showing his location.
April leaned in to wrap her arms around him as best she could from their awkward placement on the couch. She pressed a soft kiss into his temple, not really caring that the others were still hovering around them, reading the map, already hatching out a plan.
Donatello turned to look at her, a promise that was never forgotten shining in his eyes. "It's time to get your dad back."
One thing was clear, April knew the events following that moment were about to change her life all over again. But this time, the uncertainty felt more bearable, knowing that she wouldn't have to face it alone.
Ok, holy wow. I did it. I wrapped up this story that I've been working on since May of 2013! What started as a small project to keep me busy after I was laid off from my previous job and found myself with lots of downtime, turned into this giant 22 chapter, 100+k word project that I've poured hours and hours of my life into.
I never expected this story to develop into what it did, in fact my author's notes back in chapter 9 said that I was planning to wrap it up in a few more chapters - ha!
What really surprised me and encouraged me to keep this thing going and expand it even more was the amazing response from my readers! You guys are seriously the BEST. I NEVER expected to so many likes or reviews or followers or fans, but every last one of you have encouraged me to push my creativity further than I thought possible.
I know I wasn't the fastest writer and sometimes there would be more than a couple of months between updates, so thank you again for sticking with me to the end! I hope you all enjoyed it! I fully intend to follow this up with a few stand alone fics set in this universe, because now that I've built up these characters I know I'll never be able to put them down. (any requests?)
**I would very much love to hear if the ending lived up to your expectations and also what your favorite part of the whole thing was. Please make my day and leave me one last review!**
P.S. Keep an eye out for a new fic that I'm co-authoring with the lovely Poleepkwana/Suthnmeh. It will be a whole new spin to the Apriltello genre and we're both pretty excited about it!
P.P.S. I have a small collection of LASKI illustrations that I made over on my deviant art page, as well as a beautiful masterpiece created by the above mentioned Suthnmeh of the scene where Donnie is installing the sink/vanity in April's new room. Make sure to check them out!