"Oh, c'mon, Red!"
"I'm not so sure about this Jones…"
"Do you wanna learn to skate or not?!"
"Umm… can I rethink that answer?"
"Hey! Quit pulling me! Casey! Casey!"
Forcing young April O'Neil onto the ice, the rambunctious rebel rouser, Casey Jones, chuckled to himself as his red-headed friend grumbled to herself.
'Oh, April,' the struggling teen thought to herself, 'What've you gotten yourself into now?'
There was no question about it: she did get herself into this. Curse those figure skaters who were dancing on the Northampton farmhouse television only minutes ago. Curse April for saying, out loud, that she had always wanted to skate. And more importantly…
Curse Casey Jones for insisting that he be the one to teach her.
Sure, he was good; and April knew it, having watched him at hockey practice. There was only one problem… she wasn't.
"E-easy Jones," April insisted, feeling her ice-bladed feet being dragged through the snow as they approached the edge of the lake.
The water looked distilled – a frosted haze of lacey ice twinkling upon the surface. One could almost feel how smooth it was just by looking at it.
"Uhh, I dunno, Jones," April said hastily, "The ice looks like it's kinda thin."
"Pff! You kiddin'?" Casey scoffed, gently forcing April to lean in closer to view the lake, "See the waves? You can't see 'em movin' under the ice. That's how you know it's thick enough."
It was true - the waves of the lake were frozen to a halt, fortunately proving that the water was firm. Though impressed by Casey's knowledge of the ice, April still hesitated as Casey slid onto the frozen plane.
"Woohoo! Back in my element, baby!" the scruffy boy cheered, zooming along the ice, "I haven't done this in months! Watch this, Red!"
With an audible gasp, April watched in awe as Casey began to perform all types of tricks. Figure eights, figure nines, and topping off his performance with a double axel. Hiding how impressed she was with the boy's talent, April chuckled and called to him.
"Okay, show-off, I get it – you're good."
"Just 'good'?" Casey smirked with a wink, skidding his skates to a halt… accidentally shaving April with a clean sheet of frost.
"Hey!" April shouted angrily as she wiped the snow from her yellow coat.
"Oo-hoops!" Casey exclaimed, giggling bashfully, "Heh, heh - S-sorry, Red."
Glaring at him with piercing blue eyes, April felt her freckled cheeks begin to burn with slight anger: only to dissipate immediately after Casey asked…
All April could do was stare at the glove. Then the ice. Then her friend. In all three focusses, though, her crystal blue eyes told a story of fear. Taking note of this, Casey extended his hockey-gloved hand to her with a warm smile on his face.
"You're gonna be fine," Casey ensured sincerely, "I'm not goin' nowhere. An' if ya fall, I'll catch ya! There's nothin' to worry about."
"Promise?" April questioned, reaching her pinky out to her companion.
With his smile growing bigger to reveal his missing teeth, Jones hooked April's pinky with his.
"Promise," he stated, suddenly grabbing her hand, "Now… c'mon!"
"Woooaaah!" April cried as Casey whipped her out onto the ice.
Sliding all the time, the teenage girl could feel all of her balance leave her body. Though her feet were touching the ground, April felt as if she were flying. Or… falling!
"Gotcha!" Casey cried, grabbing April before she hit the icy surface as he casually whispered, "Toldja".
Not sure what just happened, the redheaded lady looked up to find her savior staring coolly at her while he held her in his arms. Stuck there for a second, Casey stared back at his damsel in distress.
'Wow,' Casey thought, 'Her eyes… they're so cool…'
This was true: April's eyes were just as clear and bright as the ice they were skating on. In a matter of seconds, however, they began to shift.
"Uh, Jones," April muttered shyly, "You can let me up now."
"Huh? Oh! Riiight!" Jones replied, his voice cracking slightly.
This forced April into reflexive giggle.
'Damn it.' Casey thought, clearing his throat gruffly.
"-Ahhurrmm!- I mean, er, right!", Casey said in an over-compensating manly voice, "So, y' ready for some skating?"
"O-okay," April replied, visibly nervous, "B-but just little things: simple and easy. I'm not gonna be doing any crazy tricks like you, am I, Twinkle-Toes?"
"How else're ya gonna learn?" Casey insisted, skating in place, "I was gonna start ya out with a triple axel: y'know, the basics."
With April staring widely at the teenage boy with worry and fear, Casey began to laugh to himself jokingly.
"Ffffahahaha! Just kiddin', Red. Man, you shoulda seen the look on your face! You were-"
"Arnold Bernid Casey Jones," April reprimanded seriously, "Are you gonna teach me to skate or what?!"
"Yeesh, the full name," Jones gulped, "Alright, alright! Fine. Now, whaddya wanna know?"
"W-well," April shrugged, "What can you teach me?"
"Hmm…" Casey hummed, scratching his peach-fuzzed chin, "Oo, I know! How about turns? Simple and easy! Just like you ordered."
"'Turns'?" April repeated with uncertainty, "Shouldn't I learn to go forward first?"
"I'm all about packages, y'see," Casey replied confidently, "While ya learn to turn, yer gonna learn to go forward, too. Just like walkin'."
"B-but you have to learn to crawl before you can walk—"
"Details, details. Overrated, if y'ask me."
Skating a few feet away from her, Jones made a sharp 90 degree turn, bowed his head, and folded his hands together as he spoke, "Now, c'mon young grasshopper: there is much for me to teach, and much for you to learn."
"For the record," April scoffed, "That was the worst Master Splinter impression I've ever heard."
"Hey, I gave it my best!" Casey smiled, "And, for the record, I bet his Casey Jones impression is just as awful."
"Yeah, yeah," April muttered, staring down at her legs and skates as they began to shake with ambiguity, "C'mon Sensei, start teaching. I-I'm not so good with standing still on these things."
"Okay," Casey began, growing slightly more calm as he slipped into his element, "So, yer gonna skate around me an' back. Got that?"
"A-around you?! B-but who's gonna help me-"
"You're gonna help you," Jones said seriously, "And I'm gonna be coachin' ya all the way."
"But I'm not—"
"Look, Red: you can fight off the Foot Clan, use your hocus-pocus powers to save all kinds of stuff, and you're a straight A student. You can do this."
Letting these words soak in for a moment, April sighed and squinted her eyes ambitiously.
'Jones is right,' April thought, 'I can do this!'
"J-just tell me what to do!" the teenage girl called as her friend moved farther out onto the lake.
"You got it!" Casey called back, giving his companion a thumbs-up, "Just move right to go left; and remember that when yer goin' around me!"
"'Move right to go'…WHAT?!" April exclaimed confusedly.
"You'll see what I mean!" Casey reverberated, "Just do it! I'm right here!"
Gulping slightly, April took a deep breath, and…
Swish! With one light kick of her right leg, she felt herself move. With one leg in the air, however…
"Other leg, Red! You got two, remember?!"
"O-oh, yeah!" And with that, she pushed off with her left leg, regaining her balance.
"That's it!" Casey exclaimed, "Keep goin'!"
Though she wasn't exactly flying along the ice like Casey, April could feel herself becoming more and more liberated with each push. With every stride of her left foot, she could feel herself drifting towards the right; and vice versa.
"Hey, Jones!" April called out with a laugh, "You were right! The centrifugal force of the weight shift in each leg causes the exertion of energy to travel in the parallel direction of—"
"Oh, God, April – don't go all Donnie on me!" Casey sighed, slapping his gloved hand to his forehead.
Laughing it off, April cheered as she drifted along the icy surface. She hadn't felt this happy since… well, before the entire Kraang invasion happened. Though she liked being at her old farmhouse, she wished it would've been under better circumstances. She just felt so bad for everybody: the city of New York, her poor father – wherever he was – and turtles… especially Leonardo. What with him being all wounded and out of commission, it seemed as though he'd never be the same. Thank God he was awake now, but still… not himself.
With all of this unhappiness going on, however, April was so thrilled by the fact that she was actually having fun for a change! Seeing herself becoming closer and closer with Casey, however, she could feel herself getting nervous again.
"You're doing great, Red," Casey continued to cheer, "When ya turn, y' gotta shorten the strides of yer inside leg."
"What does that even mean?!"
"Which way are ya turnin'?"
"L-left, I think!"
"So which leg is on the inside'a the turn?"
"The lef… Oh! I get it!"
"Sh-should I slow down a little bit?"
"Wait… you're moving?"
"Hahaha! Just jokin'!"
Shaking her head, even April started to smile a little bit. Surprisingly enough, Casey was a good teacher! A very hands-on teacher, but good. Approaching the turn clumsily, April's speed (if you could call it that) began to decrease, as her left leg began to pivot while her right leg took elongated strides. It was tough, and the turn looked as clumsy as anything, but it was a turn; and she was doing it.
"Atta girl!" Casey cried with encouragement, "Now pick up speed an' get back to where ya started."
"You got it!" April exclaimed happily.
Now that she knew how to skate in a straight line efficiently enough, the redheaded teen zoomed to her starting position. Watching his friend cheer as she skated along the frozen water, Casey sighed and smiled – becoming zoned out in a blank stare of wonder and awe.
Usually, it took weeks – sometimes months – before people could even skate period, let alone in a straight line!
And here April was, doin' it like a champ. Of course, he knew that if he had told her that from the get-go, she'd never have made it.
Boy was she somethin': smart, graceful, slipping, skilled, and—
'Wait,' Casey thought, slowly coming out of his stasis, 'Slipping?'
Shaking his head abruptly, the young teenage boy was brought back to the sound of panicked screams as April's body slipped and jolted across the ice.
"JONES! YOU NEVER TAUGHT ME HOW TO—"
With that, April plopped right into a snowbank at the edge of the lake.
"…Stop…" she stated, her phrase muffled by the pile of snow that was in her mouth.
"Red!" Casey cried, racing over to help his friend to her feet. Pulling her up, he noticed that she was completely covered in snow, and almost as if on reflex…
"….ffff… heh… hheh heh…," Without even thinking, Casey failed as he desperately to stifle his laughter, "pffff, heehheeehare y-you ohh-kaahaaay?"
"Casey Jones, you are not laughing are you?!"
"N-n-no! No!" Casey replied, covering his mouth and clearing his throat to regain seriousness for a second to say, "Geez, I-I'm so sorry, O'Neil."
Casually, he reached out his hand to—
"Don't. Even. Think about it, Jones," April hissed, her cheeks returning to their angered blaze of crimson red.
"A-are you okay?" Casey asked stupidly, his own face glowing a bit, from both embarrassment and leftover laughter.
"What do you think?!" April cried, whipping out her pinky, "Remember this?! 'If you fall, I'll catch ya', you said. 'Nothing to worry about', huh?!"
"Don'tchu – "Look, April"- me, Casey Jones! You promised!"
"I-I know, it's just—"
"Didja not hear me calling your name, like, fifty times?!"
"…It was, like, four times."
"Yeah, four more times than I should've had to!"
"Hey, I said I was sorry!" Casey exclaimed almost angrily.
"Well, 'sorry' isn't go make me any warmer!" April huffed, crossing her arms irritably.
"Well, no," Casey agreed, before his eyes lit up, "Butcha know what might…"
"Oh, Jones, grow up—"April yelled, whipping her arm around into Casey lower… region.
"Owwwww!" Casey wailed, the pitch in his voice shooting up like a rocket.
Meanwhile, in a not-so-far away thicket, three of the four heroes in half-shells, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, stood dead in their tracks upon hearing an echo call out from the sky.
"Woah," Michelangelo exclaimed, "Didju guys hear that? Sounded like a wolf t'me!"
"Mikey, wolves don't populate this region," Donatello replied smartly, gathering up some branches to aid in their quest for firewood, "Besides… wolves don't howl like that."
"Yeah," Raphael added, "Butcha know what does?"
"No, what?" Michelangelo asked curiously.
"I dunno," Raph admitted before whipping out his sais, "But I say we find out."
With Raphael running down the hill toward the noise, Donatello groaned.
"Ugh – Raph! – Come back here," the purple clad turtle exclaimed, "We've gotta get this firewood home: Leo's orders."
"He'll be fine, c'mon!" Raphael called from the near-bottom of the hill.
Sighing with exhaustion, Donatello clenched the firewood in one arm and rubbed his temple with his free arm. Looking up, he found his youngest brother staring at him with his sapphire, puppy-dog wide eyes reaching into his soul.
"Dooooonnnnniiiiiieee," Michelangelo begged, "Can I go too? Pretty pretty please with sugar on top?!"
"Oh, for the love of – Fine, Mikey – go."
"Sweet! Hey Raph, wait up!"
With his brothers running down the hill towards the noise, Donatello followed slowly behind. Things were tough without Leonardo leading the team. Sure, he needed to rest – Donnie knew that – he just wished he could claim the same respect that he got. Or, at least… bring him back somehow. It was tough for Leonardo: being all cooped up in the house while his brothers trained onward. When it comes to healing, time is key, but for them… time was running out. If only Leo could show a sign – just a little sign of improvement – that'd be enough for Donatello to have hope. Then, he'd—
"Woah, Don," Michelangelo exclaimed, "You gotta see this! Come quick!"
"Shhh! They're gonna hear ya, stupid!" Raphael hissed.
Donnie was confused as he rushed down the hill, "Who's gonna-"
"SHHHH!" The two brothers hushed as Raphael pointed down at the bottom of the lake.
"What the heck…" Donatello squinted, whipping out his glasses from inside his shell, "I-It's Casey an' April!"
"Oh yeeeahhhh," Mikey recalled, "Casey's s'posed to be teachin' April how to skate."
"How do you know that, sport?" Raph inquired condescendingly.
"I read April's diary," Michelangelo replied truthfully.
This allowed Donatello to perk up a bit.
"Y-you've read it?!" Donnie asked neurotically, grabbing Mikey by the plastron, "Wh-what's it say? Did she write about me? I need answers, Mikey!"
"Get a hold of yourself, dork," Raphael hissed, ripping Donatello from his grip on their orange-clad brother, "It's just some dumb book."
-"Geez, Red, that hurt!"-
-"Not nearly enough as it should have, Casey Jones!"-
Listening to the shouting match behind a large snowbank, the three turtles listened and talked amongst themselves.
"Yeesh, what a fit those two are in, huh?" Raph shrugged.
"Whaddya think happened?" Mikey asked curiously, poking his head from behind the snowbank.
"Well, whatever it was," Donatello replied, staring down at the two humans, "It must've been Casey's fault."
"What makes you think it was Casey's fault?" Raphael insisted.
"Well, April rarely makes mistakes," Donnie insisted back.
"Yeah… so she's overdue." Raphael snarled, getting nose-to-nose with Donatello.
"Y'know what else is overdue," Donatello said, drawing his bo staff from behind his shell, "A good Donatello-Raphael sparring match."
"Yer right," Raphael remarked, his sais at the ready, "I've been needing a good nerd-whoopin' anyway!"
"Bring it, tiny!"
"It's brought, stretch!"
All of a sudden, the two were greeted with the strike of nunchaku with a BOINK!
"OW!" Donatello cried.
"HEY!" Raphael exclaimed, rubbing his head as his face grew red with fury, "YOU LITTLE-"
"Shhhh! Dudes, knock it off," Michelangelo hushed, casually putting his nunchucks back, "I can't hear them."
Becoming quiet once again, the conversation was continued.
-"Some teacher you turned out to be!"-
-"Oh, yeah: well some student YOU turned out to be!"-
Watching the two argue from behind the snowbank, Donatello adjusted his spectacles as he squinted.
"Uh, fellas," Donnie began, removing the glasses from his face, "Is it just me… or is Casey holding his-"
"Oh man… That wasn't a wolf we heard, boys," Raphael claimed.
"Well, then what was…" Just then, Donatello came to the realization, "Ooohhh!"
"Poor dude," Michelangelo sighed.
"And he's still standin', the little trooper," Raphael saluted.
Watching the battle rage on, the little trooper finally felt that he had recovered from his… attack. That is, until April slowly began to approach him.
"Of all the people who I pick to trust while I'm out on the ice," April rumbled, clumsily gliding forward as Casey shifted backwards, "I go and pick you."
"Quite the judge of character, ain'tcha Red?" Casey remarked sarcastically.
"Oooh, you make me so mad!" April exclaimed, her face glowing with fury.
"Now, now," Casey tusked, "Temper, temper, O'Neil."
"Casey Jones, you haven't even seen my temper!"
And with that, April lunged forward: instantly forgetting that she wasn't on land. Landing with a thud, April could feel herself hit her knee on the thickest part of the ice.
"A-ahh, oww!" Aprils seethed, grabbing her knee.
Almost instantly, tears began to form in her eyes – from both pain and embarrassment.
Casey could tell she needed a hand, "Here, lemme-"
"Don't bother," the redheaded girl retaliated, "Just… just leave me alone, Jones. I'll learn to skate… by myself."
Returning to her feet unsteadily, April finally got her balance back. With a 'humf' and a turn of her head, she was off: gliding and limping slightly down the lake. Standing in confusion and anger, mainly with himself, Jones slapped his hockey mask in the snow.
"Well fiiine!" Casey cried, his voice cracking again, "Good riddance!"
And in his rage, he screamed and sharply flung his hockey stick across the ice.
…As it landed with a 'Thwack' against something that wasn't ice.
"Huh?" Casey hummed, unsure of the surface his stick had just smacked.
Skating towards it, he found the stick lying adjacent to a snow-covered sign which was stuck in the ice. Casey didn't even have to clear it off to know what is was.
…But he did anyway.
Reading the sign to himself, Casey gasped, 'Danger: Thin Ice. Do Not Cross. Aw, damnit.'
He knew what he had to do.
"Red!" Casey called frantically, "Red!"
In her anger, April had just so casually walked passed the sign: not taking the time like Casey to clean it off and take a gander. She also didn't take the time to respond her teenage annoyance, gliding as if she was in her own little world. That is, until he called—
It was then she stopped dead in her tracks. He never called her April. Ever! It was always Red or O'Neil. Hiding her shock, she paused and turned back to the teenage boy.
"What, Jones?" April cried as she thumped her foot hastily.
With each thump, Casey's face grew a little paler. What a mess!
"Red," Casey insisted, carefully stepping toward her, "Please… come back this way… s-slowly."
"What, so you can laugh at me again?!"
"No! Red, please – listen t'me: the ice is-"
"Your 'element', I know. You've told me a million times."
"Look, Jones, you had your chance. And I'm done. You know, now that I think about it, I don't need you to teach me anymore! I know the basics: and the rest is just physics and centrifugal motion."
"Okay, I still have no idea what that means, but ya gotta listen ta me, you stubborn girl-"
"No – you listen ta me, you stubborn boy! Actually, you know what? Don't listen to me at all… Just watch me."
And with a twirl in the air and a firm landing, April had completed her first axel. Covering his eyes in fear, Casey did not initially notice that his friend had completed the move: a move which took him months to perfect, but a move, nonetheless. Smiling confidently, April O'Neil stared at Casey Jones unwaveringly.
…That is until the ice emitted a noisy 'CRRRKKK'….