"Don… I am so excited for you!"
"April, I really don't see what the big deal is."
"Hello!" April exclaimed as she brought a bowl of popcorn in from the kitchen and onto the living room coffee table, "The 'big deal' is the fact that you're about to watch you first-ever Disney movie! Oh, I just hope I chose the right one for us to watch…"
"Ooo, I'm shaking with excitement," Donatello scoffed as he rolled his eyes sarcastically, "Seriously, the way television commercials publicize this franchise… it just seems so overrated."
"That's because you don't know what you're missiiiing," the teenage girl sang, popping the DVD into the dented video player (which the purple clad turtle managed to salvage from the city dump).
Sighing with exasperation, Donnie shook his head tiredly. With all of the work he had left to do in his lab, the very last thing he should be doing is sitting around, eating popcorn, and preparing to watch a Disney movie. The one thing that was keeping him from hopping up and tending to his duties, however, was the very thing which prompted the cinematic gathering in the first place: April O'Neil. Judging by the way her crystal blue eyes twinkled when she asked him if him to engage in the lazy-American pastime, how could he say 'no'? Still, Donatello couldn't help but dread the cartoonish spew that he was about to indulge in.
'I wonder how many of my brain cells'll make it through this torture,' the purple clad turtle thought to himself, 'That is… if any. Gahh, why did it have to be a cartoon? C'mon, Donni… do it for April…'
"Sooo, what's this one called?" Donatello asked, trying to at least pretend he was enthused as he stuffed some popcorn into his mouth.
"Beauty and the Beast. Oh, it's my absolute favorite! See, there's this girl, and—"
"Wpph er mrrnrfff!" Donnie muffled almost angrily, washing the popcorn down his throat with a glass of root beer with a gulp, "Y'mean Beauty and the Beast? As in one of the most classic stories of all time?!"
"—Disney stole it! I mean, what a rip-off! How can they take credit for the work of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve?!"
"They didn't steal it," April retorted defensively, "They just, uhh… adapted it."
"Uh huh, yeah. Sure. Next you're gonna tell me they 'adapted' Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, too, right?"
"Oh, c'mon! They're thieves!"
"Listen, you," April snapped, pushing her forefinger into Donatello's plastron, "Disney is known for its beautiful story adaptions, its crediting to authors of the previous tales, and the miniscule shred of hope and happiness that still exists in this world. Now, you promised to give it chance; and you're gonna. Do I make myself clear?!"
"Good. Now… let's light this candle! You'll find out later that I meant that literally, heehee… oh, you're gonna love it."
"Doubt it," Donnie mumbled inaudibly under his breath.
Without a shred of a second wasted, April hit the 'play' button on the half-crushed remote, and Beauty and the Beast had begun.
'Once upon a time in a faraway land, there lived a prince in a shining castle.Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.'
'Aaaand story tale cliché number one comin' in clear and strong,' Donnie thought.
'But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. '
"When does the movie start," Donnie whispered.
"Shh! I love this part…" April hushed, clearly engrossed in the whole façade.
Though this was pretty lame by Donatello's standards, he did enjoy watching April become so enthused by the fantasy flashing in front of them. It was almost… magical. Deciding to live up to his promise, the purple clad turtle took a deep breath, turned his attention to the screen, and watch the movie with all of his consideration. And, to his surprise… he was growing curious.
"So, wait," Donnie pondered aloud, "He has to find true love before the last rose petal falls on his twenty-first year… looking like that?! But the enchantress turned him into a freak! How's he gonna—"
"You'll see," April chuckled, until menacingly switching her frontage, "For all you know, maybe he doesn't."
"Oh, yeah, sure—like they'd do that. C'mon, April! …I mean, they don't really do that, do they? April? April?"
'Little town… it's a quiet village. Everydaaay, like the one before…'
"Wow," Donnie exclaimed, "She's… beautiful."
"Well, of course," April laughed, "Her name is 'Belle', remember?"
But Donatello just stared at the screen as the Disney yet-to-be princess strolled across the bridge and sang her little song. She looked perfect: optimistic, clever, and undoubtedly beautiful. It reminded him of the first time he first saw April. As the scene went on, April glanced over to find the purple clad turtle subtly bouncing in his seat with the song's progression.
"You like this, don'tcha?"
"Nooo," Donatello replied falsely as his cheeks blushed a deep crimson, "It's just… a catchy song, that's all. I—"
'Right from the moment that I met her, saw her… I said 'she's gorgeous', and I fell. Here in town, there's only she, who's as beautiful as me! So I'm making plans to woo and marry Belle…'
"Who's this jerk?"
"That's Gaston. He's the 'macho-man' of the town."
"Oh. And who's his little friend there?"
"He reminds me of Mikey."
After the first song, Donatello was a bit more content with the fact that he was watching a Disney movie. Actually, he'd dare to admit that he was enjoying this whole event! That is until the Gaston came back…
'Gaston, may I have my book, please?'
'How can you read this? There's no pictures!'
'Well, some people use their imaginations.'
'Belle, it's about time you got your head out of those books and paid attention to more important things...like me…'
"Gimme a break," Donnie sighed, cupping his face in his hands, "It's guys like this which promote a negative male stereotype! I mean, c'mon, just because he's 'pretty', he thinks he can get the girl?! I mean what about respect? What about nobility? What about—"
"—Guys like you, Donnie?" April intruded with a smile.
Shying into incoherent babbling, Donatello returned to his focus on the movie; where Belle had now returned home to help her Papa, Maurice, configure his new invention, and also impart a deep question in return.
'Papa, do you think I'm… odd?'
'My daughter? Odd? Huh—where'd you ever get an idea like that?!'
With Maurice popping up from beneath his invention to find a bizzare pair of glasses over his eyes, April immediately laughed on the spot. During the entire scene, Donnie watched April watch the father-daughter scene with awe. She was so entranced by their relationship. Figuring that April had been without a father for months, the hero-in-a-half shell could tell that this scene held deep pertinence to April's being. Noticing his stare, April lightly blushed and giggle to herself.
"I, uhh… When I was little, my dad and I would watch this scene over and over again. I just—"
"You don't have to explain," Donnie reassured with a smile, "I know how you feel."
Smiling back, April returned her attention back to the screen. After witnessing the progression of the film—from Maurice's encounter with the beast, Gaston's unsuccessful proposal to Belle, and the heroin's eventual trapping in the castle—the exciting part of the film was just beginning.
"How could she agree to stay with him in that castle forever?" Donatello exclaimed, "I mean look at him!"
"She loved her father," April exclaimed, "She'd do anything for him. And—"
Who does she think she is? That girl has tangled with the wrong man. No one says 'no' to Gaston!
"Oh, good grief," Donnie moaned, "C-can we fast-forward passed him?"
"But he has a song coming up—"
"Explain it to me while we fast-forward. I just… really don't like him…"
There was something about Gaston that Donatello just couldn't stomach. His smug, better-than-all attitude just bothered him. And, in a way, it reminded him of somebody… he couldn't quite put his finger on it, but it just ticked him off.
With that, April hit the 'fast-forward' button; which, unfortunately, had a mind of its own and wouldn't stop until it wanted to watch something.
"Dang button," Donnie cringed, smacking the remote control against the couch arm, "C'mon, work!"
'Ma chere, mademoiselle. It is with deepest pleasure and greatest pride that we welcome you tonight…'
"Ahhhh! 'Be Our Guest'!" April exclaimed.
"Huh?" Donnie inquired confusedly, "Wait, wha—"
"Shhh! Here it comes!"
'Be our guest, be our guest! Put our service to the test, tie your napkin 'round your neck, cherie and we provide the rest…'
Now, if Donatello thought the opening number was bouncy, then only he could tell how excited he felt from 'Be Our Guest'. It had everything — dancing silverware, twirling napkins: Don had never seen such a spectacle! Following the candlestick, which April had mentioned earlier, Donnie felt a new form of joy that he had never felt before. Dancing and laughing, the purple clad turtle felt reborn from this musical phenomenon… and April knew, from that moment, that it was a mission accomplished.
….FUN! April, do you see the chandelier?! It has dancing forks on it! What a world! A-and all the plates, and—the pudding! April… the pudding is dancing! HA! This is AWESOME! Rewind it — let's watch it again!"
After re-watching the scene… twice… the two movie-viewers decided to press on with the movie. Once Belle tried to escape the castle, after being bombarded ferociously by the Beast for entering the forbidden West Wing, the two characters were now at a somewhat mutual understanding; and the Beast was starting to change for the better, just as Belle was starting to see a new figure… from Beast to friend.
'There's something sweet and almost kind, but he was mean and he was course and unrefiiined. But now he's dear… and so I'm sure. I don't know why I didn't see it there before…'
Looking at Donnie, April could tell he wasn't only enjoying the movie… he was relating to it. Within the strange characters and the plot points, he was finding a deeper connection between his own life and the movie's transitions. And, much to her own surprise… so was April.
'Yep,' April thought to herself smiling, 'I chose the right one.'
'She glanced this way… I thought I saw. And when we touched, she didn't shudder at my paaaw. No, it can't be… I'll just ignore. And yet, she's never looked at me that way before…'
Out of the corner of his eye, Donatello watched April quickly whip her head erect to the television screen.
'Was she? …Nah.' Donnie thought to himself, 'Well, maybe…'
Watching this movie, Donatello could see the evolving love that was forming between Belle and the Beast; and as the title song began to play, it was more prevalent now more than ever. In came Belle with her bright, golden dress on; and, across from the parallel staircase, in came the Beast looking dapper. Throughout the scene, the two danced throughout the ballroom, with Lumierre, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts standing idly by. Looking at April, Donnie rose from the couch, cleared his throat, and extended his arm to April's.
"Madam," he dictated politely, "May I have this dance?"
"Why certainly, sir." April laughed, taking his hand.
As the two playfully twirled across the living room, laughing all the time with each time they stepped on eachother's feet, the other three turtles peeked in to find the spectacle occurring right in their own home.
"Well," Leonardo grumbled with shock, "I didn't expect to see this today…"
"Oh, jeez," Raphael shuddered, "Are they serious?!"
"Shhh," Michelangelo insisted, "Let 'em have this."
Looking over as April held him in a tight embrace, Donatello blushed wildly to find his brothers giving silent winks and thumbs-up signs. Feeling more content than embarrassed however, Donnie smiled, hugging April back until the song ended. Unfortunately, the black moment in the movie was approaching; and Belle, using the Beast's magic mirror, discovered his ill-stricken father traveling the woods to find her.
'Papa. Oh, no. He's sick, he may be dying. And he's all alone.'
'Then...then you must go to him.'
'What did you say?'
'I release you. You are no longer my prisoner.'
"Wow." Donatello marveled in amazement, "He clearly knows that, if she were to stay, she would break the spell. But… but he loves her so much… he would let her go. What a guy…"
With a tear in her eye, April nodded affirmatively. As the mob scene occurred, once Belle denies Gaston's proposal (again), the castle is under attack. With the help of all the castle's enchanted creatures, a certain victory is predicted. However, the final battle between the Beast and Gaston leaves the hero wounded: with Gaston stabbing him in the back just before the pompous woodsman falls to his doom. With the Beast injured, Belle runs to his side to cradle his head in her arms.
'Maybe it's better this way…'
'Don't talk like that. You'll be all right. We're together now. Everything's going to be fine. You'll see.'
'At least I got to see you one... last...time.'
As Belle pulls Beast's paw up to her cheek, h holds it there for a second, then
drops it — his head falling back, and his eyes closing forever.
'No, no! Please! Please! Please don't leave me! I love you!'
"Stop the movie." Donatello commanded in a serious tone.
Hitting the pause button, April looked over quizzically to see what the problem was.
"What, was is—"
Stopping short, the teenage girl noticed that Donatello, who had no intention, at first, of even enjoying this movie… was crying. His bright brown eyes, drenched with tears, looked to April with a mixture of devastation and disappointment.
"Wh-why didn't you tell me he died?" Donatello sobbed, cupping his face in his hands, "Aa-prihiiiilll! Th-they finally fall in love — the last petal falls, a-and he's dead! Gaaaahhhhahhaaa!"
"Aw, Donnie," April cooed as he pet the sobbing turtle on the shell, "I-it's okay—"
"It is NOT okay! This *sniifff* was such a tease! Th-the cute guy is alllllwaays gonna get the pretty girl, and whenever there's a tiiiiiiny chance that the freak might get a chance… he dies!"
"Whyyyy? Wh-why would you make me watch this?!"
Now blubbering into April's lap, the purple clad turtle felt pain like he'd never felt before. Coming home from their patrol, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo beheld the unhappy sight.
"What's wrong with him?" Raphael scoffed mockingly.
"Y'KNOW WHAT, RAPH — J-JUST GO AWAY!" Donnie exclaimed furiously before returning to his sob-fest in April's lap, "I am depre-heh-hessed…"
With a bewildered stare on their faces, the three turtles gawked as their brother continued to cry. April simply nodded, as if to say she could handle it, and the three boys in green casually walked away… still wondering why their brother was so upset.
"Donnie," April said calmly, "If we turn on the movie, you'll be very happy we did."
"…Okay. Go ahead…"
Flipping the 'play' button on, the movie began to roll; and there was Belle, sobbing over the Beast just as Donatello had done with April.
"Look familiar?" April smirked.
"I dunno what you're referring to," the purple clad turtle lied bashfully.
Within seconds, the screen flashed, the colors flew, and the lifeless Beast is enveloped in a cloud of light, and becomes wrapped in his cloak. Suddenly, his body is shifting and forming. A fore paw comes out and the claws turn into fingers, a hind paw emerges and develops into a foot. Finally, a wind blows across his face and the fur melts away to reveal a young prince. He gradually descends and is laid on the floor again. And, much to Donatello's contentment, the Beast is—
"ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! Oh, April, the spell is broken! He DID find true love! Woohoo!"
With joy beyond recognition, Donatello lifted April into the air, twirling her around as the objects on the screen morphed back into human beings. As the ending played, April turned to Donatello.
"Soooo… howdja like it?!"
"Well… the comedic timing between Lumierre and Cogsworth is brilliant, the tenderness of Mrs. Potts is endearing, and the story as a whole… is AMAZING! I…hate to admit it, but I loved this movie! But…"
"'But'? Whaddya mean 'but'?"
"Something gets me," Donnie pondered, "If Belle knew about the spell in the first place… do you think she would've stayed with the Beast?"
"Well," April hummed, her thoughts twirling, "I would think that she would! I mean, she saw the truly amazing person the Beast was. Despite his—"
"I'd call it his 'uniqueness'. Y'see, Don, Belle likes books for a reason. She sees the cover— and sure, that's important at first—but she reads into things. And that's how she sees people, as well! Gaston looks like a god, but deep down, he's a monster. And the Beast… well, sure, he looks different, but…"
Just then, April looked deeply into Donatello's brown eyes and smiled.
"But… after getting to know him, she saw just how amazing he truly was. And even if he didn't turn into the Prince again, she was intent on staying with him. She taught him how to love… and that doesn't just go away."
"I guess you make a pretty compelling argument. But, April… if you were Belle… would you stay with the Beast?"
"Really? Are you sure?"
"Without a doubt."
"Yeah, but are you absolutely certain?!"
"…Certain as the sun rises in the East."