In the weeks between April starting school and Halloween, the turtles deal with: a possessed scooter (no, really, they did, and Leo will never be the same), the Health Department shutting down their second and third favorite pizza places, aliens spraying a hockey game with hallucinogens, and a sentient computer virus that really just wanted a friend.
Donnie installs the virus on his gaming rig, and it happily takes over his old World of Warcraft account. Since it can play for 24 hours a day, Donnie finds himself running a surprisingly lucrative side business selling off all the character sets the virus creates. His accounts grow fat, and he moves the money over to the various shell (ha, ha) accounts April and Casey set up for them.
They've got a safety net. You know, for the day when they retire from being ninjas and...yeah.
None of them ever talk about it, but they don't believe a retirement's in the cards for them. It'll end, hopefully far enough in the future so they're not bitter when it does happen, but no one has any illusions about how. It'll end bloody and messy, but with a little luck, not alone.
"Donnie, I'm going crazy," says April over Skype, the week before Halloween. She runs her hands through her hair every nine seconds. Donnie knows, because he's been counting. "You would not believe the amount of work they've handed us. Forty-plus hours in the lab, plus office hours, plus class - when am I supposed to sleep? When am I supposed to eat?"
"How about now, instead of talking to me?" he suggests, without a hint of the reluctance he feels. This is the first time they've managed any kind of conversation beyond texts in three weeks. It feels too much like the summer for his taste.
April blows her bangs out of her eyes. "Hilarious. Talking to you right now is the only thing keeping me sane. And going to get something to eat means leaving the lab. Stupid to forget to pack a lunch when I know I'll be here all night."
"All night? That's not healthy."
"You're telling me," she grumbles. "Oh, Donnie, I'm sorry. I've been so busy bitching I haven't even asked how you've been. What have you guys been up to?"
"The usual," he hedges, and shifts so the splint around his wrist isn't visible. April raises her eyebrows.
"Uh-uh, Donnie. You don't get to play me like that. Besides, I already texted with Leo today. He told me about your arm." Her face softens. "How're you feeling?"
His throat closes tight. She looked like this when she slept against him, on a warm summer night, when everything smelled like rain. He wishes he could run his hand over her hair so badly he has to look away.
"Better now. Casey brought down some heavy-duty painkillers to get me through the first few days, but I only needed them after Leo splinted it. Ibuprofen works now."
"Yeah, aliens. Still don't know why they chose that hockey game, but I don't think they'll be back. They were more scared of the fans than us."
April laughs, her chin in her hand. "Well, since Casey's on the well-behaved side of the scale, I'm not surprised. You sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, April," he tells her, and means it. He misses her, but he's fine.
"If you say so," she says, dubious, but whatever either of them would say next is lost when her stomach rumbles, loud enough for him to hear.
"Okay, Ms. O'Neil," he says, over her protests. "You need to go get food. Now. You're making me hungry. Just something from the vending machines."
She pouts, but nods. "Fine. I'll be back in a few. Will you still be around?"
"I have to run out for a bit," he says, struck by an idea that shouldn't give his wrist too much trouble. "But I'll be back in an hour or so. Talk then?"
"Talk then. Bye Donnie."
The windows to April's lab are sadly easy to pick, even one-handed. Donnie slides in, careful to hold his broken wrist against his chest, and lowers himself to the floor silently. The cartons in his backpack shift, but the noise is lost below the whirr of the centrifuge.
No one else is there; it's past midnight, and everyone else is home sleeping. April, however, is asleep on top of a pile of books, her laptop screen still open. He can see his lab on her Skype window, and his heart clenches a little.
He sets his backpack down on the table and brings out the cartons one by one. April mutters in her sleep and turns her head, blinking slowly as the smells of egg foo yong and scallion pancakes fill the air.
"Wha - Donnie? What?" She sits up and rubs her eyes like a little girl. "You're here?"
"Yep. More importantly, so's dinner." He holds out a box of fried rice and a pair of chopsticks. "Eddie Lang at the Jade Dragon says hi, and to get some rest."
"Oh my god, you brought me dinner?" She beams at him, eyes glowing, the color high in her cheeks. "You are...Donnie, this is amazing."
"No problem," he says, and ducks his head. Twenty-six years old, and he still blushes like an idiot.
"Was this the errand you had to run out for?" She pokes him in the leg with her chopsticks. "You jerk. You should have told me, so I wouldn't be drooling all over the table when you got here."
"And ruin the surprise? Much better this way." He opens the box of egg rolls and sends a silent thanks to Eddie for packing enough food for three people. "Besides, you would have told me to stay home and rest my wrist. I didn't want to get caught up in your Catholic guilt."
"Oh, screw you, Donnie," she says through a laugh, and steals one of his egg rolls. "Nice backpack, by the way. Very nineties."
"April," he says sweetly, "shut up and eat your dinner."
An hour later, they're both pleasantly stuffed and failing to resist a food coma. April spins lazily on her stool, and Donnie watches her.
"That was so good," she groans, rubbing her stomach. "But I'm never going to eat again. I can't believe we ate everything."
"Job well done," he mumbles sleepily. "Gold star in eating like a ninja."
"I can't believe you guys eat like this every night. How are you not dead? Your arteries must be -"
"Some thanks," he sighs, with the most put-upon air he can muster. "I come all this way, in the dark, in the cold, bearing food, and all you can do is mock me. You wound me, April, to my core."
"Oh, be quiet." She kicks at his leg and misses, so he kicks back and catches her foot with his. She gasps.
"God. You're fast."
"Ninja, April," he teases, still with his foot locked around her ankle, and then he realizes she's not trying to pull away. Instead, she's running her foot up his leg.
"Yeah, but - it's different, seeing it here as opposed to when you're bashing the Foot or some Kraang, you know?" She grins at him. "You're just Donnie right now, not a ninja."
She kicked off her shoes a long time ago, and he can feel the warmth of her skin through her thin sock as she slides her foot up the side of his calf. "April."
When she glances up at him through her lashes, her smile sweetens unexpectedly, and she leans a few inches closer. "Yeah?"
"You're..." You're so close. You're lovely. You know exactly what you're doing, don't you? He hears a faint mechanical chime, and swallows. "Your results are in."
She blinks. "My what?"
"Your uh, results."
"Oh, shit!" she yelps, and stumbles as she tries to slide off her stool, her leg still tangled with his. He catches her with his good arm, and waits till she's steady before letting her go. "Be back in a second!"
Donnie lets out a low, shuddering breath, and gathers up the cartons while he waits. Bad lab habits to leave boxes of food lying around. He even has time to wipe down the counter before April comes back, face drawn with the dark circles under her eyes even darker.
"I have to run the whole cycle again," she says. "It's going to take hours." She reaches up, ready to run her fingers through her hair again. Donnie catches her wrist and gives her what he hopes is a reassuring smile.
"Can I take a look?" he asks. "A fresh set of eyes might help."
April's face crumples into pure relief, and Donnie has less than a second to swing his bad wrist out of the way before she pulls him into a tight hug.
"You're a lifesaver, Donnie," she murmurs into his neck. "Thank you."
He steels himself, ready with the first part of his hypothesis, and drops a kiss on her forehead.
Theory: forehead kisses are not for just friends; therefore, if she accepts a forehead kiss, she is not resistant to the idea.
"Not resistant" is a long way from "actively interested", but when April presses closer, her mouth hot against his throat, he shivers and gives her another kiss, right by her eye.
"Results," she says, clearing her throat but not quite pulling away.
"Results," he says. "Right."