At Eastman-Laird University, students were bustling to and from classes. A few were just hanging out in the courtyard either shooting the breeze or playing on their phones. Among these students was April, who sat under a tree trying to study. However, her attention was fleeting as her mind kept drifting to her friends who were currently holed up underground. The smallest thing would remind her of them, from the smell of pizza, to a skateboarder, to one student carrying a turtle shell backpack. She was starting to become a bit depressed, burying her face in her text book and letting out a groan.
“I know students are supposed to get frustrated with school, but I didn’t think you’d be one of them.” a voice remarked.
April looked up to see Casey standing before her with a smirk on his face.
“Casey, hey.” she greeted, adjusting her glasses. “I’m not frustrated with school. I’m just… frustrated in general.”
“About the guys?” Casey guessed.
“Yeah…” April lamented. “I mean, every time I look up, there’s something reminding me of them, and the fact that they’re on lockdown for the sole reason of being different. It’s not fair.”
“I know.” Casey agreed, sitting down next to her. “I miss em too. I want nothin more than to pop down to say hi, but…”
“But we can’t for risk of getting tied to them or leading the police to their front door.” April muttered, slamming her text book shut bitterly. “Why does the world hate them?”
“Because the world is run by idiots who think anything different is gonna kill them.” Casey remarked.
“Right...” April grumbled, slumping against her tree. “I hate humanity.”
“Join the club. We got jackets.” Casey joked, nudging her.
April snorted slightly, lightly punching his arm. The two just sat under the tree for a bit, not really saying anything. Then Casey came to a decision.
“You know what?” Casey spoke up. “I think we need to take the day off.”
April blinked in response.
“Day off?” she repeated. “Casey, we still have classes to-”
“Forget classes.” Casey told her. “Considering the past few days we’ve had, we need a personal day. Besides, considering your perfect attendance record, you can afford one absence.”
“And what about your less-than-stellar record?” April challenged.
“I’m nowhere near the drop-out mark, and I’ve got A’s and B’s in all my classes.” Casey informed her. “I’ll be fine.”
“But-” April tried to protest.
“Come on.” Casey insisted “I think you could stand to break the usual ‘studious student’ routine, and have some fun for once. What do you say?”
April looked conflicted, glancing down at the stack of textbooks and assignments she had surrounding her. After a moment, she sighed.
“Alright.” she decided. “One day off wouldn’t hurt.”
“Great.” Casey replied, getting up and grabbing April’s hand. “Let’s go.”
A few minutes later, April was riding on the back of Casey’s bike, riding through the streets of the city.
“You hanging on ok back there?” Casey asked.
“Yes, I am.” she promised. “I just wish you’d tell me where we’re going.”
“You’ll see.” Casey replied. “But first, you hungry?”
“I never did get a chance to grab some lunch.” April admitted.
“Then that’s our first stop.” Casey declared, speeding off.
A few minutes later, April found herself at a Chinese restaurant Casey had found. Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised.
“Wow, Casey.” She let out. “How did you find this place?”
“My mom used to bring me here for special occasions.” Casey answered. “They make the best pork buns, and their pan fried rice is the best.”
“Well, I guess I know what I’m ordering then.” April replied.
After the two placed their orders, the two just sat in minimal silence.
“Whatcha thinking about?” Casey asked.
“I wasn’t really.” April admitted. “I was just… off in la-la land.”
“Ah.” Casey replied. “Great movie, didn’t get the ending though.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it.” April playfully teased.
“I know.” Casey replied.
“My mind keeps drifting to the guys.” she admitted. “Them… and that government guy we met.”
“Yeah, what was his name again?” Casey recalled. “Bishop?”
“Yeah, him.” April answered. “I guess I’m trying to figure out how he found out about the guys.”
“No clue.” Casey responded. “Maybe he’s got commandos scouting the sewers or something.”
“I’m pretty sure the guys would have noticed them.” April pointed out. “It had to be one of their topside adventures.”
“I guess so.” Casey agreed. “Maybe it was that whole thing with the four initials never to be said aloud.”
“Yeah…” April replied, flashing back to what happened at that place. “If I never hear those initials again, it’ll be too soon.”
“Then let’s not talk about it anymore.” Casey decided. “Let’s just focus on the rest of our day.”
“Right.” April agreed as their food arrived. “So, what do you have planned after this?”
“You’re just going to have to wait and see.” Casey told her. “Now let’s dig in.”
After their meal, they were back on the road. After a while, Casey began to slow down and pulled up to a local arcade.
“An arcade?” April asked. “Casey, since when are you a member of the arcade scene?”
“What? You don’t know everything about me.” Casey remarked. “You should see me crush it on Whack a Mole.”
“Alright Jones, you’re on.” April replied.
As they went inside, April was slightly taken aback by the abundance of sounds and bright lights emanating from almost every corner of the room.
“Guess you don’t arcade that much either.” Casey noted.
“I’m more of a library or book festival girl.”
“I’m sure we can find something here for you.” Casey reassured.
Their first stop was skeeball. April held the ball in her hand, looking down at the target intently. She then pulled her arm back then sent the ball rolling down the lane. It rolled up to one of the holes, dropping in easily.
“Not bad.” Casey remarked.
“It’s just a hundred points, Casey.” April replied. “It’s not that impressive.”
“Hey, it’s just the first go.” Casey reminded. “Let’s see if we can have a streak going.”
April just shrugged as she grabbed another ball and rolled that one as well.
After skeeball, April and Casey moved onto Whack a Mole, with Casey smashing away at every target that popped up and racking up massive amounts of points.
“Wow.” April remarked. “You’re weren’t kidding when you said you were a master at this thing.”
“Eh, I don’t like to brag.” Casey remarked, tossing her the stick. “Want a go?”
April looked down at the stick and then back at the game.
“Eh, why not?” she replied.
The game started back up, and she got to whacking. Her reaction time wasn’t nearly as Casey’s so she was a bit slow to hit a few. As the game ended, April breathed in and out, glancing at the score screen.
“What the… that’s not even half your score!” she exclaimed. “How did you get so good?”
“Practice.” Casey replied. “Lots of practice. Ready to move onto the next game?”
“And what would that be?” April asked.
“Seriously?” April let out. “Dance-Dance? You do realize I’m going to die on that thing, right?”
“If it makes you feel any better, so will I.” Casey promised. “At least we’ll both fail together, right?”
“I… suppose so.” April conceded.
He and April went up to the machine and placed their coins in, waiting for the arrows to appear on screen. The movements of their feet from that point were sporadic and aimless. It seemed like for every step they took on the pads, they were seconds late in the game. Despite their ever increasing speed, it seemed to do little for their in game performance. Finally, the song ended, and the two stopped to catch their breath.
“How’d we do?” Casey asked.
“76% completion.” April answered.
“That’s… not so bad.” Casey replied. “Right?”
“That’s a mid-C.” April reported. “Let’s face it. Neither of us can dance.”
“Agreed.” Casey concurred. “How about we try something else?”
“Sounds good to me.” April concurred.
Not that much later, the two were engaged in a heated game of air hockey. The two were tied, with the puck flying back and forth between them. Both of them were determined, hitting the puck as hard as they could towards the others opening. With one major hit from April, she managed to bounce it off the side and into Casey’s hole before he could even move.
“Yes!” April cheered. “Finally, the hockey MVP is beaten at his own game!”
“I don’t know if this technically counts as ‘hockey’,” Casey remarked. “But good game regardless.”
“Aw, someone a sore loser?” April teased.
“A little.” Casey replied chuckling a bit. “Still, I’m glad to see you’re having fun.”
“I will admit, this is fun.” April allowed.
“See? Sometimes a day of reckless fun is all we need.” Casey replied before an idea popped into his head. “In fact… I think I know the perfect way to close this day out.”
April noticed the mischievous look on Casey’s face and immediately felt a twinge of fear course through her.
“I’m scared.” she said quietly.
“Oh come on,” Casey insisted. “I promise, you’ll love it.”
They arrived back at the school, heading for the gym. It was already late and the janitor was just making his final rounds. As he locked up for the night and headed off, Casey and April approached, intercepting him.
“Raul, hey.” Casey greeted. “It’s me, Casey.”
“Casey, hey.” Raul replied. “How ya doin, man?”
“Doing well.” Casey answered. “How’s that leg of yours?”
“Healing up just fine.” Raul replied. “No small part to you.”
“Eh, that Dragon was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wasn’t about to let him get away with knee capping you.” Casey shrugged off. “Listen, you think you’d be okay with letting me and April into the pool? We want to go for a late-night dip.”
“We do?” April let out.
“Alright, just be sure to clean up after yourselves and lock up when you’re done.” Raul told him. “And don’t go telling anyone else I let you do this. This is a one-time thing.”
“Can do.” Casey reassured. “Thanks man.”
“Anytime.” Raul replied, heading off as April faced Casey.
“Casey, are you nuts?” April asked. “We’re going swimming at this time of night?”
“Relax, we have permission.” Casey assured her. “Besides, I figured an indoor pool would be better than taking a dip in the Hudson. The water’s much cleaner.”
“Permission from a janitor is not the same thing.” April replied. “What if security finds us?”
“Again, we have permission.” Casey rationalized. “Now come on.”
He took her hand, pulling her inside. April nearly tripped over herself trying to keep up with him as they made their way through the building. Once they made it to the pool, Casey removed his shoes and socks, stuffing the latter into the former before setting them aside.
“Casey, are we really doing this?” April whispered.
“Just take off everything except your underwear.” Casey insisted. “That way, your clothes are dry when we leave.”
“I do not like this!” April hissed.
“It’s part of the reckless fun thing we’re going for.” Casey insisted, taking his shirt and pants off, leaving him in grey boxers. “Besides, what’s wrong with a little stupid fun every once and a while?”
“The part where we get caught?” April offered up.
“Didn’t I tell you we had permission?” Casey reminded. “Besides, I know what you’re really worried about.”
He took her hands, giving them a squeeze.
“We won’t get in trouble, we won’t get hurt, and I have no intention of doing anything besides swimming.” he assured her.
April paused for a moment, thinking about everything as she took a breath.
“Just… turn around for a moment.” She requested.
Casey nodded as he turned around for April. She slipped out of her clothes, folding them neatly and setting them by her shoes.
“Alright, you can look.” April told him.
Casey turned back to face April, finding her in a sports bra and yellow underwear. She slid off her glasses lastly, setting them on top of her clothes.
“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.” she let out.
“Well if it’s any consolation, you look great.” Casey complimented.
April smiled in response as Casey took her hand.
“Shall we?” He asked.
“Might as well.” She replied.
With that, the two leapt into the pool, causing a huge splash. They came up, both laughing a bit. Casey then playfully splashed April, cutting off her laugher. At first, he thought he’d messed up, until she retaliated with a splash of her own.
“Oh, you are so asking for it!” He challenged.
The two began splashing each other back and forth, laughing the entire time. After a while, they settled down, just leaning on the edge of the pool.
“Remember when we went to Northampton?” April asked. “Mikey found that old tree-house and the guys showed us that star drawings game.”
“Yeah, that was a ton of fun.” Casey recalled. “Almost made me forget why we went up there in the first place.”
“Yeah.” April agreed before an idea hit her. “Want to go to the shore and see what stars we can find?”
“Yeah!” Casey confirmed. “Let’s clean up and go!”
They got out of the pool, drying themselves off as best they could before grabbing their clothes.
Heading out to the shore, the two laid down in the sand, looking up at the stars.
“I see… a turtle with a spiky shell.” Casey let out.
“Nice.” April commented. “Bet Raph would be envious of that. I see… a platypus in a prom dress.”
Casey chuckled in response.
“So… still think going rogue today was a bad idea?” Casey asked.
“Nah.” April admitted. “You were right. We needed this. Your turn.”
“I see… the most beautiful girl in NYC.” Casey spotted.
April turned to Casey, who was just looking at her smiling. She blushed as red as her hair, fiddling with her sweater.
“Flirt.” she teased.
“Ain’t flirting if it’s true.” He teased.
He then leaned in and kissed her, the sounds of the waves the only sound that reached their ears as all their worries and fears melted away, with this moment being all that mattered.