He tugged uncomfortably at his collar and tried shifting his shoulder in the restraining garment. Was he really wearing this thing? It looked suspiciously like a suit from the history channel. And it was blue of all colors. Blue. Really?
He scanned the sea of plastic faces, feeling vaguely uncomfortable although no one had reacted to him. Yet. It seemed the real deal had passed unnoticed in the crowd of play actors.
Why everyone thought that it was loads of fun to put on masks and pretend to be monsters was beyond him. Maybe because tomorrow they could take off the masks and be themselves again. Being a monster all the time sucked royal. He would know.
Finally he caught sight of her in a huge, frou-frou, bright yellow ball gown. She was still stunningly beautiful of course, but her outfit seemed even less practical than his.
He pushed his way over to her through the crowded sidewalk, determined not to get separated a second time. She could take care of herself but he didn't like to be apart from her. Not if he could help it. She grinned and wrapped a gloved hand around his.
"Yellow and blue? Aren't these April and Leo's colors?" She sighed.
"It's Halloween. Have fun being someone else for a change." Fun? Right. How had he gotten roped into this?
Raph and Casey burst into the lair, leaping the turnstiles, still buzzed on their charge of adrenaline. After a few more energetic high fives and competitive compliments over the number of lowlifes they'd taken down, Raph flopped down on the couch and scanned the lair.
At the far end of the large couch, Venus sat next to Donnie, flipping casually through one of his science texts while he tried explain some really complicated math to April, who looked to be five seconds away from putting her fist through her book.
Mikey was nowhere in view, which was concerning, and Sensei was probably in his room. Leo and Karai were still not back from their patrol and he chose not to dwell on what they were up to.
When the lot of them had nights off from patrol, he always went out with Casey and Leo went out with Karai, although Raph was a bit skeptical about how much crime those two actually stopped.
He didn't see Mona and felt a clutch of disappointment. She must not be back yet from visiting her parents. Having decided to remain a lizard mutant, she'd quickly determined that it was time to fill her folks in on what had happened.
They probably panicked but Mona wouldn't let a little thing like that interfere. By sheer force of her personality, she'd gotten them over it and was gradually acclimating them to her new situation in life, probably in preparation for the shock of introducing him.
He was not looking forward to it. That just could not end well. But it would happen. That's just how things went when Mona decided something and it was safer and easier to roll with it. Not that he'd want her any other way.
Mona. After embracing her new mutant life, she'd decided to go with that name that Lily…wait it was Renet now…had once given her. He didn't mind. Mona suited her.
Now that he thought about it, all the girls had changed their names one way or another. Lisa to Mona Lisa, Lily to Renet, Mei to Venus. Even Karai was going by Miwa more and more often. He wondered if that meant something and quickly dismissed the thought as Mikey rambling territory.
Suddenly Mikey was bounding out of his room with…oh no, was that his Turflytle costume in his arms? Catching sight of Raph and Casey he rushed right over.
"Do you know what tomorrow is?" Raph snorted.
"Just another day."
"Dude, it's Halloween! We can go topside and get candy! I can't wait to go trick or treating. You guys are coming right?" Raph huffed and Casey laughed.
"No way. That's kid stuff."
"Absolutely not. Grow up Mikey."
"But we didn't get to go last year because we were worried about Leo. This is the first time…"
"No." They both answered in unison. Momentarily deflated, Mikey perked up when he spied Venus, Donnie and April.
"Hey you guys want to go trick or treating with me? It will be a-maze-ing!" Donnie smiled but shook his head.
"Sorry Mikey. Tomorrow Venus and I are working on a study of non-corporeal entities. Apparently it's a really good time of year for it." Mikey just stared blankly at his brother for a moment before Venus jumped in.
"I'm teaching him about ghosts. Maybe next year Mikey. I am curious about these American traditions." Mikey slowly turned to April and she cringed as he turned on the puppy dog eyes.
"Please. Please. Please. Please."
"Yes! This is going to be epic!"
"Probably not. Don't get your hopes too high Mikey."
"Candy!" She sighed.
"Casey and I will meet you here around six." Casey stiffened up.
"What!?" April grinned at him.
"Don't worry. I have a great costume idea for us." Whatever protest he had died in his mouth as he met her eyes and waiting smile.
"Uh, ok." Raph snorted.
"Way to stand your ground Jones." With a growl, Casey spun around and punched him in the shoulder. He didn't pull the punch. He didn't have to. Raph was solid. He shrugged.
"Just saying…" The sound of approaching footsteps, caught everyone's attention and Raph felt his mood lift. Mona was home. And carrying large bags? She was practically vibrating with excitement and didn't even acknowledge anyone else as she made a bee line for Raph.
"I have a great idea for tomorrow!"
That was right. He was out here because of a pair of beautiful brown eyes that couldn't be refused. Sighing, he adjusted his coat again in another vain attempt to be more comfortable.
It had taken forever to get into costume, more Mona than him, so the others had gone on a head without them. But Mikey desperately wanted pictures of his first Halloween topside, so they were meeting up.
He saw Mikey first. Even in the horde of costumes, Turflytle stood out. Then he caught sight of April and Casey and almost doubled over laughing. They'd gone as ninja turtles. Their shells were made out of painted and duct taped cardboard. April had on one of Donnie's spare masks and wore his bo, one of his many back up replacements, strapped to her back.
Now Raph could see why Casey had texted him asking to borrow his mask and sais. The answer was still no of course, but it made sense. Casey had gone as him, using an old red bandana for the mask.
"Wait, are those gardening rakes? Are those supposed to be sais?" Casey grinned, trying to spin the tools they way Raph usually did with his sais, with very limited success.
"Like there's a difference. Hi to you too by the way." Before Raph could pound that smug look off his face, April jumped into the conversation as she stroked Mona's gown.
"Wow! That's the most amazing Beauty and the Beast costume set ever!"
"I know. I found it online and had my dad rush order it." Raph frowned and crossed his arms indignantly.
"I'm supposed to be the Beast?" Mona flashed him a disorienting smile.
"Would you rather have been Prince Charming?"
"Point taken." After cajoling some poor, overwhelmed stranger to take their picture with April's camera, Mikey clutched his plastic jack-o-lantern bucket and hopped up and down excitedly.
"Trick or treating! Buzz buzz. I can't wait buzz buzz. Where should we start buzz buzz?"
"Mikey if you say buzz buzz one more time, I'm gonna…"
"Actually, we've got other plans. See you guys later." Before he could finish his threat, Mona had him by the arm and was dragging him off into the crowd.
Mona was so excited. She'd never been much of a Halloween fan before, but it was now the best holiday ever. She could actually go out on a real date with Raph. Tonight was going to be perfect. She'd picked formal yet recognizable costumes for them, so people would think it was some sort of Disney pun when they saw them and not look too much into it.
She'd also selected a fancy Italian restaurant for dinner and a movie for afterwards. Unfortunately, it was mostly horror movies in theaters today, but she did find at least one new release action flick that the internet assured her had an awesome romantic subplot.
She wondered if there was any chance that she could convince him to go dancing with her at a club. Dancing sounded fun and she knew that he could really bust a move, but what little she knew of dance clubs suggested that might be pushing it for him.
Sighing she snuggled into him as they walked along the river, him with no idea what was going on and her leading them to the restaurant. Then some girl and an incredibly realistic ghost costume approached.
Whoever put on her make-up had done an amazing job, like movie effects amazing. The girl looked horrifying, with the side of her face smashed up and her head bent at a strange angle, soaking wet in what looked like it used to be an angel costume. It seemed a bit odd to layer costumes, but since that was what people probably saw when they looked at her and Raph, she wouldn't judge.
"Help…me…Mary…please…help…" Uh, that was a costume, right? The girl reached out to grab them and Mona could hear Raph hiss as her vision blurred at the young woman's frigid touch.
For an instant, Mona could see another young girl at a picnic table with strawberry blonde hair and a Bay Bridge High School sweater over her fairy costume that was definitely not warm enough for the weather tonight. When she blinked the image away, the ghost girl was just gone. Raph was breathing heavily.
"Did you see that?"
"The fairy girl?" He nodded.
"Do you think we should look into it?" Inside she was screaming and throwing a tantrum. No! This was their night! It wasn't fair!
"Yeah." Sighing, she pulled out her phone and started cross referencing Mary and Bay Bridge High on social networks until she found a picture that matched the girl in their vision.
"So how do we find her?"
"I could do more searching, but it will just be faster to buy the information."
"Buy it?" She shrugged.
"We live in the age of the internet. Privacy is an illusion. Do you think it's coincidence that you're pop up ads are almost always related to martial arts or motorcycles?" He started to respond and clamped his mouth shut as he absorbed her words, looking disturbed.
"Relax. It's only really a problem if you've got a stalker or a crazy ex."
"Or if you're mutants hiding in the sewers."
"Please. I'm sure Donnie doesn't let anything important get out. Got her address." She frowned as she hailed a cab. Well, they probably wouldn't have time to go to the restaurant she'd picked out, but maybe they could find another, closer to the theater. A taxi pulled in towards them and she gave Raph an encouraging smile.
"Let's go find out what this is about."
Raph stood next to her like a silent sentinel as she rang the doorbell. A plump, jovial woman with Mary's signature strawberry blonde hair answered.
"Oh aren't you too adorable." She scooped a handful of chocolates out of her bowl and looked around in confusion for their trick or treating bags.
"Uh actually, we're looking for Mary."
"Oh, you must be friends from school. Of course. I thought she was meeting all of you up at Stanton Park for the Halloween concert." Mona flashed her a winning smile, glad she'd asked the cab driver to wait for them.
"Oh yeah. I totally forgot. Thanks!" Ok, maybe they'd just eat movie theater concessions for dinner.
She could tell that the blaring music in the park was putting Raph on edge. It wasn't that he didn't like loud music in general. He was actually a fan of metal. But out here, where it interfered with his ability to perceive threats in his surrounding environment, it was much less welcome. That and the band kind of sucked. Mercifully, it didn't take Mona too long to spot Mary, somehow sitting by herself at a crowded picnic table, looking miserable.
"Mary?" She blinked up at them in surprise and puzzlement.
"We were looking for a friend of yours. She's wearing an angle costume." Mary scowled down into her bottle of soda pop.
"You're too late. Dea already ditched me to hang out with Lorna's entourage." Ok. Whatever fight Mary and Dea were having wasn't Mona's problem. Finding Dea and making sure she was ok in time to catch her movie was.
"Do you know where they went?" Mary sniffed, trying not to cry.
"The condemned steel plant on the river, by the marina. Like that's somehow more fun than hanging out here with me." Mona ignored her. She knew the place.
The marina had been trying to get it shut down for forever and finally succeeded two years ago, discovering to their dismay that they'd only swapped an industrial plant for an abandoned property.
It figured. That was almost all the way back to where they'd started. There was no way they'd make their movie now. Officially grumpy, she stormed back to the taxi, knowing that Raph would follow.
It was quiet, save for a few distant voices. Frowning, Raph leapt up to scale the building for a better vantage point, while Mona tried the doors. Mona could scale buildings too, but the dress complicated things.
Although she knew that it should probably be locked, she couldn't say that she was surprised when the door pushed right open. There was Dea, clinging to a crane over some steel I-beams and the river.
She could see it now. Dea would fall, hit the beam, drop into the river and wash up more or less we're she and Raph had seen her. A premonition then? If Mona hadn't known Venus, she would have scoffed at the idea. But she knew better now.
At least they had a chance to stop it. That was much more satisfying than merely apprehending the people responsible after the fact. Those people, Lorna's entourage Mona assumed, were standing at the bottom of the crane, two girls and three boys dressed as celebrities. Pretty masks to hide ugly hearts. One girl was calling out.
"Come on Dea. All you have to do is touch the crane's hook. Then you can hang with us. Don't you want to sit at our lunch table every day?" Dea gathered her courage, reached out to touch it and lost her grip. With an ear piercing shriek, she toppled forward toward the I-beam.
And then Raph was there, catching the crane with one hand to halt his dive while snatching Dea out of the air with another. The series of flips he'd used, jumping off I-beams and other equipment to safely expend his momentum as he landed, must have been a bit too much for Dea as the girl fainted.
Lorna and co had gasped when Dea started to fall and were turning to leave as though they could walk away and pretend none of this had ever happened.
"Where do you think you're going?" They all stopped at the sight of her. Mona crossed her arms fiercely.
"I think you're all going to wait her until the cops arrive."
"Like hell!" One of the boys charged forward to shove Mona out of his way. She easily caught his arm and twisted it to pull him down into a knee to the gut. He sank to the ground choking and gasping for breath.
"Anyone else think princesses can't kick butt?" They put their hands up defensively as Mona pulled out her phone. Well so much for their date, but at least they'd saved Dea.
Raph watched from the shadows as Mona spoke to the police with her usual air of authority. Since she had a real identity, address and parents that could cover for her, he figured he'd leave this part up to her.
He glanced back towards the ambulance where paramedics were still checking Dea over. She was shaking like a leaf and deathly pale but otherwise unharmed. He was glad she was ok. And glad that those other kids wouldn't get away with it. Whatever connections or influence they had, Mona had more. And she was using it to the fullest extent.
He loved the way she had total control over the situation. No slipping through the cracks for these criminals. Looking at her filled him with pride. She really was remarkable. And this night hadn't turned out nearly as bad as he'd been expecting. He and Mona made a good team.
It looked like she was finishing up. He retreated to a nearby alley and waited until she was well out of the building before stepping out of the shadows and embracing her. She looked sad. Why?
"What's wrong?" She shook her head.
"It's nothing. This night just didn't go as planned, that's all." He raised an eye ridge questioningly. She huffed.
"It was going to be our first date and I wanted it to be the best date ever. I was going to take you to a restaurant and a movie and…it doesn't matter." He took her hands in his and looked at her seriously.
"Hey. No matter what we do, it's special if I'm with you. You don't need to go out of your way to make it awesome, just because it's the first date I've ever been on. Besides I had a great time, so cheer up." She smiled and laughed a little.
"Yeah well, it's the first date I've ever been on too, so I wanted to do something other than the usual take down of bad guys, not that that isn't fun." He blinked in surprise.
"This was your first date? But you were human. And you're incredibly hot. How is that possible?" They both flushed as he realized what he'd just said.
"I kind of…" She searched for the right words. "…put people off a bit. With my personality. You're actually the first person to see through to the real me. No one else really gets me."
He was so stunned that he didn't quite know how to respond. He'd always assumed that suitors would be lining up for a chance to go out with her and that he'd won some sort of fate lottery. But there'd been no one before him. This had been a first date for both of them and all her plans fell through. She shook her head, looking tired.
"Don't worry about it. You're right. As long as we're together it is special." She patted him on the shoulder, trying to reassure him that she was fine.
"It's late. Come on, let's go home." He held back as she took off, knowing that he'd never, ever live this down, but needed to do it anyway. Pulling out his phone, he hit one of the speed dial buttons.
"Turflytle buzz buzz."
"I need your help."
Despite assuring Raph that she was fine, Mona had spent most of the next day sulking in the room she'd once shared with Renet. It was a bit childish, but she needed a good pout.
There was no patrol tonight either, but Raph would probably want to go out with Casey. She was trying to decide whether or not joining them would improve her move when her phone buzzed with a text from Raph.
Curious, she got up and went out to see the room empty except for her yellow Belle dress and a note on it.
"Get dressed." Following the arrow, she flipped it to find a map drawn if Raph's unique art style. He was actually a pretty impressive artist, although he often seemed a tad shy about it. She couldn't help smiling. Why not?
An hour later, she was dressed up in a full ball gown, struggling to scale a building by its fire escape. This may not have been the most well thought through part of the plan. Moderately crabby, she was still willing to play along. Finally, the top.
There was a small abandoned green house on the roof, the final location on the map. Cautiously, she opened the door to see that all the dead plants had been shoved aside and all the hardy, determined ones had been arranged around a garden table with two chairs.
On the table were two lit candles, a pan of what smelled like Mikey's famous pizza lasagna and a bottle of sparkling grape juice with a pair of fancy glasses. Romantic music started from a portable radio that Donnie had fixed up a long time ago and Raph stepped out blushing, wearing his costume from the previous night.
Mona gasped and put her hand to her mouth. He'd planned a date for her. Despite the indifferent tough guy mask that he wore for the rest of the world, even his family, things like this reminded her of just how much he felt and cared underneath. He shifted awkwardly.
"I know that it's not exactly what you had planned for yesterday…"
"It's perfect." Wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him willingly into a passionate kiss. And it really was perfect.