April sat sulking on the sofa in the common room of the lair and Casey sat next to her, rubbing her back trying to comfort her. “It’s okay, babe. We didn’t need to go.”
“But I wanted to go,” she whined. “Irma’s going.”
“What’s wrong, April,” Donatello sat down next to her, taking her hand. “Did Casey do something to upset you?” Venus sat on the floor next to Donnie’s feet, her red eyes staying focused on him the whole time.
“No,” April wiped some tears from her eyes. “It just…, prom is next week but we can’t go because I can’t afford a dress and Casey can’t even get the money together to rent a tux.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Donnie tried to hide his joy. “Maybe things will be better next time.”
April looked up at Donnie, “It’s senior prom. This is the only year I can go.”
“I’m sorry, April,” Mona said with sincerity. “I wish there was some way we could help.”
“Yeah,” Mikey chimed in. “Too bad we don’t know anyone with a collection of nice things, who could help.” He looked over at Raph, who simply kept his beak in the comic he was reading.
“Yeah that’s too bad,” Raph turned the page without looking up. “I guess they can’t go.”
“Raph,” Leo glared at him. “April is our friend and she really wants to go to the dance.”
“You can’t expect Raph to give April something from his collection,” Donnie argued. “I mean he beats us for just looking at them.”
“No offence,” April put her hands up, “but I doubt Raph has anything nice enough for me to wear to prom.”
“Oh really,” Raph put his comic down and got up to walk back to his room. When he returned he was holding a garment bag that he hung near the bottom of the stairs. He unzipped the bag and pulled it back to reveal a powder blue, strapless formal gown.
April’s jaw dropped, “Where did you get that? It’s beautiful.”
“Yeah, you think so?” Raph smiled. “I found it.”
April ran her hand down the dress then stood on her toes to look at the tag. “Oh,” she frowned. “It’s too big. I wear a size four, this is a size eight.”
“Okay,” Raph pulled the bag closed then zipped it up and took it back to his room. It wasn’t long before he returned with four more bags and hung them on different parts of on the stairs. He then unzipped them to reveal the dresses within.
“Oh, wow,” April gasped. “They’re beautiful.”
“You like them?” Raph stood proud by his collection.
“Yes,” April answered.
“Well then I guess you were wrong,” he turned and started to zip the bags back up. “My nice things are good enough for your prom.”
“Raph?” Mona gasped.
As the realization of what was happening hit April, tears started to fill her eyes, “You just showed them to me to prove a point?”
“Well yeah,” Raph answered flatly. “I’m not gonna let you have one. They’re mine.”
“Raphael,” Splinter’s stern voice had Raph turning to look at his father. “Why not let April simply borrow a dress? She can return it to you after the dance.”
“Yeah,” Mikey scowled at Raph. “It’s not like you can wear them.” Raph turned to glare at Mikey but said nothing and Mikey stuck his tongue out at Raph.
“Don’t you want to help your friend?” Splinter asked, stepping forward. “I’m sure she will take good care of it. And she really wants to go to the dance.”
Raph looked into April’s pleading eyes then groaned, “Fine. But if you damage it at all… you… I’m gonna….”
“Thank you, Raph,” April rushed forward to give him a hug.
“Yeah,” Raph grumbled. “Which one do you want to borrow?”
“Can I try them all on before I choose?” April pleaded.
“You wanna try them all on?” Raph exclaimed. Splinter caught Raph’s attention and the look he got elicited another moan from Raph. He hunched forward in defeat, “You can take them back to your old room and try them on.”
As April collected the dresses and rushed back towards the bedrooms, Raph looked over at Casey. “I guess this means that you would like to borrow a tux.”
“Do you have one in your collection of nice things?” Casey’s voice had a hint of humor in it.
“Yeah,” the tone didn’t seem to register with Raph. “Come on. We’ll find one that fits.”
Splinter’s ears perked up, “You are taking Casey in to your room?”
Raph shrugged, “Yeah, sure.” He led the way with Casey following close behind. A look of humor spread across Casey’s face as they walked away.
“I fear that this will not go well,” Splinter’s ears dropped with worry.
Raph pushed his door open and invited Casey in. His human friend’s jaw dropped as he looked around the room, “This… is your room?”
“Yeah,” Raph closed the door, his eyes lingering on the empty tank in the corner. “Don’t touch anything.” When he pulled his attention away from the tank, he looked over to see Casey holding a doll. “What are you doing? I told you not to touch anything.”
A look of disbelief was splayed across Casey’s face, “You have dolls?” Casey looked around the room, “And dresses pinned to the walls? Is that a pair of fairy wings?”
“Put her down,” Raph snapped. “She’s porcelain and very breakable.”
“And here I thought you were the tough one,” Casey lifted the doll above his head; the legs clinking together, causing Raph to cringe a little. “I had no idea you were a whoopsie.”
“A what?” Raph grabbed for the doll, but Casey was too tall. We would have just punched him, but Raph feared that he would drop the doll and break her. Why did he have to grab the porcelain one?
“Do you wish you were a girl or something?” Casey asked, holding the doll higher.
“What?” Raph grunted in frustration. “No.”
“Do you like guys?”
Raph dropped his arms and looked at Casey in disbelief, “When you say ‘like’…, do you mean the kinda ‘like’ like I ‘like’ Mona?”
“No!” Raph skewed his beak. “I have no interest in other boys. I have a girlfriend.”
“Then why do you like girl things,” Casey laughed, keeping the doll aloft. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I like nice things,” Raph spat out in frustration then the realization struck him. He looked around his room and sighed, “I remember Splinter gave me a hard time when I was a kid for liking ‘girl’s toys’. I didn’t get it back then and to be honest I don’t really get it now. I like pretty things,” Raph tried to explain. “I really like princesses; I think they are beautiful and enchanting. Growing up, my favorite story was The Frog Prince. I would dream of a princess kissing me and turning me in to a human prince so I wouldn’t have to hide anymore.
“I liked dresses.” Raph shrugged, turning away so Casey couldn’t see his face, “I even wore them for a while, but I eventually grew out of it; mainly because I got too big to fit in them. I don’t want to wear them anymore; I just like to collect them now. They’re pretty and I like to look at them, imagining what they would look like on someone. I have one suit that I can fit into now and I will admit that I put it on every once and a while.” He closed his eyes for a moment and steadied his breathing. “There aren’t many things in this life that make me happy. And Splinter didn’t limit me to your society’s standards to find them.”
He looked up at his friend and opened the door, “This is who I am. You can take it or leave it.”
Casey looked down at the doll in his hands and he could see the seams from where she was carefully glued back together. “I get it,” he handed the doll back to Raph. “Sorry I gave you a hard time about it.”
Raph took the doll and fixed her dress before placing her back on the shelf. He then moved over to where he had several garment bags hanging with boxes stacked underneath. He eyed Casey then leafed through the bags. “I’ll see if I can find one small enough to fit you.”
Casey let out a sarcastic laugh as April entered the room wearing a powder pink dress and carrying the other three dresses, “This is the one I choose.” She stopped as she stepped through the door and looked around the room. “Whoa.” She pointed to the shelf of dolls, “Is that a Princess Clare Ballerina doll?”
“I don’t know,” Raph answered, pulling a bag down. “Splinter found her at the dump three years ago and brought her home for me.” He handed the bag to Casey, “Go in the next room over and try that on. I’ll see if I can find a tie and things that will go with April’s dress.”
As Casey left the room Raph took the other dresses from April, “It looks good on you.”
“Thank you,” she blushed. “This really means a lot to me.” She walked over to the shelf of dolls and Raph tensed a little. “They are in great condition for dolls you found in the trash.”
“Splinter brings finds them and I clean them up. I learned how to mend the dresses and fix their hair. Sometimes I take parts from one that is too far gone and save them to fix others.” Raph returned the dresses to the rack. “What size shoe do you wear?”
“Seven,” April answered.
Raph knelt down and pulled a box out from the stack and handed it to April, “These should fit and go with the dress.” After she accepted the shoes he moved over to another part of his room and grabbed another box. Sitting on the bed, Raph opened the box and started to pick through its contents.
April’s eyes went wide as she looked down in the box, “Oh my God.”
The box was filled with jewelry of all kinds. Some were loose while others were in varying sized jewelry boxes. Raph pulled out a larger box and opened it to reveal a jeweled necklace. He looked up at April then back down at the necklace then closed the box and placed it on the bed. He repeated the process until he found the one he liked.
“You’re in luck,” he stood, turning the box so she could see. “It’s one of the few complete sets I have.”
He held out a box containing a string of pink pearls with matching earrings and bracelet. April looked down at it in disbelief. “Something else you’ve found?”
“Yeah,” Raph closed the box and handed it to April. “This should look good with that dress.”
“Did you know that you have a small fortune in jewels, Raph?” April pointed to the box.
“They’re just things I found in the sewers,” Raph shrugged. “I thought they were pretty, so I brought them home and cleaned them up. I have a few things that match.”
“Yeah, but if you were to sell them….”
“And how would we manage that?” Splinter cut her off and continued before she could answer. “Even if we were to give the jewels to you or Casey to sell, questions would be asked as to where you got them. And that could lead to trouble for you.” A smile spread across Splinters face as he regarded his son. “Besides that, they are Raphael’s treasures and I would never ask him to sell them.” He then looked at April again, “You look beautiful in that dress.”
“Thank you, Master Splinter.” April held the case close to her chest, “I will bring it all back to you, Raph. Thank you so much for letting me borrow them.” She looked at the rack of dresses tucked into their garment bags then around at the well-tended to dolls on the shelves. “You know, you have a girlfriend you would probably love to be your princess. Her kiss may not turn you human, but she’ll make you feel like a prince.”
Raph squinted his eyes, “You heard that did you?”
“I heard you guys through the door,” April smiled. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with you liking princesses.”
“I don’t know about this one.” Casey entered the room wearing the tux and holding the pants up, “They’re a little too big.”
“They’re adjustable,” Raph walked over and pulled the straps at the waist to tighten them. “The length looks good in the leg though and the jacket fits.” He stood back and looked Casey over before he walked over and grabbed another box. Inside was a bunch of bowties of varying colors and sizes. Raph pulled out a pink one and walked up to Casey who took a step back.
“I ain’t wearing pink.”
“Why not,” Raph looked up at him. “Not man enough?”
Casey took the tie and put in on while looking Raph in the eyes, “I’m more than man enough.”