The Silent Partner

Falling Slowly

Something was moving. It was the middle of the night and Raph was most of the way asleep. But something was moving. Something inside of his room was moving. And that bothered him. Spike used to move around in the nighttime, but he didn't have Spike anymore. So what was—

Whatever it was that had been moving around the room suddenly pounced and rolled him over. They put a hand over his mouth.

Raph struggled for a few moments before his eyes focused on the nimble form of Mona Lisa sitting bedside him. She brought a finger to her lips in a 'sh' gesture and lifted her hand away.

"Mona what—"

Again, Raph's mouth was covered by her hand.

'Shhhhh!' She gestured more demandingly.

Mona Lisa grabbed Raph's hand and yanked at it. When Raphael made no move to get up she frowned and put her hands on her hips. The second time the lizard mutant grabbed his hand and pulled, Raph stood. His emerald green hands grabbed his mask off the nightstand and automatically tied it on.

She smiled and brushed his cheek affectionately with her fingers.

Raph went beet red. He was so flustered that Mona Lisa was actually able to grab his hand and drag him out of the room. He let out a small cry of protest making Mona frown. She pressed a finger to his lips gently and Raph stared wide-eyed.

The hotheaded turtle allowed Mona Lisa to lead him down the hall and through the lair…towards the door. As soon as Raph realized where they were headed, he ground to a sudden halt. Mona turned and glared at him. She tried to tug him forward, but he wouldn't budge.

Raph's glower spoke for him: he didn't want Mona going topside. She wasn't ready. There were humans everywhere. Besides, she didn't really know how to defend herself and if anything happened to her, Raph would never forgive himself.

The turtle's worried expression cooled a little as she gave him the puppy-dog face. He sighed and rolled his eyes, desperately trying to look away but Mona was having none of it. She held his gaze and refused to look away. That proved to be very difficult, so in the end she settled for just reaching out pulling his face down to plant a soft kiss on his cheek. Raph blushed and Mona giggled. She grabbed both of the his hands and stared sweetly at him, pulling him gently towards the door.

Raph deflated and gave in. He just couldn't say no to that face. But that didn't mean he would go unarmed. That would be just stupid. So he quickly grabbed his sais from the dojo.

Mona smiled happily at Raph's change of mind and jovially dragged him out the lair door and down the sewer tunnels. It didn't take Raph long to figure out they were heading for the nearest manhole. Leery as he was about this whole thing, he didn't want to upset Mona Lisa by saying no.

She obviously had something in mind. As they proceeded down the tunnels Raph's gaze fell to their joined hands. Raphael couldn't stop the heat that rose in his cheeks. His mind was reeling.

Where are we going? Why is so urgent? Is there something wrong? No, she wouldn't be cheerful if there was something wrong…Then what—

His thoughts were cut short as they reached the manhole in question. Mona Lisa led the way.

Raphael raised an eye-ridge. Doesn't she realize how dangerous it is up there? There are humans and mutants and…the Foot. No! I won't let anything hurt her!

The hotheaded turtle sprang up and tugged lightly on Mona's tail. He accidently startled her. Her grip on the ladder slipped and she fell. Raphael rushed forward and caught her.

She looked up at him in surprise, the fall leaving her in a whirl. Her cheeks colored. The lizard mutant pressed a hand to the center of Raph's plastron and stared gratefully up into his eyes. But her sweet expression quickly melted into a glare and she swatted Raph's head reprimandingly. She pointed at her tail, made a pulling gesture, and glowered at him.

Raph sputtered, "I-I—well I—I was trying to—"

Mona Lisa raised a demanding eye-ridge.

"I was trying to get your attention." He answered meekly, his cheeks a little bit flushed.

Mona rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.

Raph looked away, then a thought occurred to him and he smirked. He released his grip on her and let her fall. She landed on her backside and glared up at him. Raph chuckled.

Her long, brown hair cascaded down in front of her face, shadowing Mona's features and facial expression. Which was advantageous, considering it meant that Raph couldn't see her plotting smirk.

The lizard mutant was careful not to move an inch and sure enough, after about half a minute, Raph's laughter faded and he bent down concernedly. "Mona, are you okay?"

Mona Lisa tackled him, bowling the turtle over onto his carapace. She smiled in mirth as she held him down. But Raph wouldn't allow himself to be subdued for long. He used his strength to reverse their positions and the two of them wrestled for few moments before they both grew tired and gave up. For a few moments they sat side by side, their backs leaning up against the tunnel, legs stretched out in front of them as they caught their breath. Raph and Mona turned and gave each other rather winded smiles.

The lizard mutant's eyes ran appreciatively over the red-masked turtle's form. The tunnel was dark which accentuated Raph's sharply sculpted features. His eyes glimmered and sparkled in the dark, lighting up attractively when he smiled. Mona grinned, but her grin quickly faded as she looked down to where their hands lay next to each other.

Raph saw the grin on Mona's face falter and he followed her gaze down to their hands. They slowly looked back up and stared into each other's eyes. Mona Lisa blushed.

She looks cute like that. He thought, before doing a double take. Did I just think that?!

Slowly and tentatively, Raphael reached out and took her hand in his.

Mona's eyes widened in surprise, but she squeezed his hand reassuringly. Raph smiled. The lizard mutant smiled back, pulled her hand away, and jumped to her feet. Raph raised an eye-ridge. Mona said nothing, but she offered him her hand.

The hothead canted his head, but accepted the offered hand and pulled himself to his feet. He allowed Mona Lisa to lead him topside and over into the shadows. He tensed a little and did a visual sweep of the area, just to make sure that it was safe. The two of them appeared to be alone in the area, which suited him just fine.

Mona guided him over to the fire escape and pointed up at it. Raph stared at her questioningly, but Mona Lisa didn't answer so the hothead sighed and pulled the ladder down for her. She nodded her thanks and proceeded up the fire escape, motioning Raph to follow after her.

How does she know where she's going? Raph wondered, confused. But that thought was quickly forgotten as Raphael saw the rooftop.

A couple of old blankets, which Raph recognized as coming from the lair, were stretched out on the ground and a boombox in the corner squeaked to life. Mona Lisa bounded over and stretched out, staring up at the stars. She turned to him and motioned him to join her.

Raph's look of surprise turned into a frown. "Who set this up? My brothers?"

Mona looked crestfallen as she sat up and signed, 'You don't like it?'

The red masked turtle's frown lessened a little at her expression, "No, it's not that I don't like it…I just…well, I don't…I don't want them to set us up like this. You don't understand…It's like they're trying to…"

Mona frowned, jumped to her feet and padded softly over to him. She stared directly into his eyes and gestured slowly, 'I wanted to. I thought…I thought you might like me more if—' she stopped gesturing and looked down at her feet.

Raph, meanwhile, was wide-eyed. "Mona…what do you mean 'like you more'?"

The lizard mutant blushed. She approached the mutant turtle and gestured, 'Like this.' With no warning, Mona Lisa pressed another soft kiss to his cheek.

Raphael's expression was completely serious. "Mona, there's a difference between liking someone and liking someone."

Mona's eyes watered as she gestured, 'You don't like me?'

The hotheaded turtle put a soft hand on her shoulder. "No, it's not that. I just…I want to make sure that you know the difference between the two. Are you sure that this is more than just the friendly type of like?"

Mona Lisa nodded, still teary-eyed. Her expression was hopeful, so hopeful, that Raphael would like her back.

Raph let out a small sigh and pulled her close. "Mona I—I really…I do like you. I—" Raph struggled, not really sure he'd be able to say this. "I like you that way, too." With that soft confession, Raph leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. Afterwards, he was unable to meet her gaze. His face turned as red as his mask.

Mona threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. She was ecstatic. She was over the moon. She pressed multiple feather-light kisses to his cheeks.

Raph only got redder. He pushed her back gently, "Okay, okay! Don't push it!"

Mona smiled and rolled her eyes. She returned to the blankets and lay down, motioning Raph to join her.

This time the hothead did so without hesitation.

They sat in silence for a few moments before Raph chuckled, prompting Mona to look over at him.

Raph listened to the music for a few moments more and chuckled yet again. He looked over at Mona and raised an eye-ridge. "Let me guess, the music was Mikey's idea?"

Mona looked away and her cheeks flushed. Raph smiled and turned back to the stars. After a few moments of admiring the hothead's features, Mona did the same.

Raph sighed and rolled his eyes. Of course Mikey put together a collection of cheesy love songs. Still, it might not have been such a bad idea…

He glanced over out of the corner of his eye. His breath hitched and he stared open-mouthed. She was smiling up at the stars and their light was reflecting beatifically in her dark-brown irises. She was beautiful.

Suddenly, as though sensing his gaze on her, Mona turned and caught Raph staring. They both blushed. Ever so slowly, Raphael reached out and lay his hand over hers.

Their eyes locked and the song went on, becoming part of the background. Mona Lisa scooted closer to the emerald green turtle. They didn't take their eyes off of each other for a second. Raph reached out, his hand shaking slightly as he wrapped an arm around her waist.

Finally Mona broke the eye contact and rested her head on Raph's shoulders, pressing a lithe hand against his chest. They remained that way until the song began to come to a close.

The song ended and Raph reached over to turn it off. A light green hand caught him before he could do so. Raph's attention was once again trained on Mona Lisa. The lizard brought her other hand up to cup the side of Raph's face. His cheeks colored, but as he leaned in towards her, she did the same. Their lips were only inches apart.

Raphael didn't even realize he was closing the distance between them until he felt a warm puff of air caress the side of his face. They both stopped less than one inch away, staring deeply into each other's eyes. Raph couldn't bring himself to go any further.

Yep. Raphael, the hotheaded turtle of destruction, who threw himself into battles head-first, was afraid. No, no, to be accurate, he was terrified. He just couldn't…

The next thing he knew, warm lips slid against his in a soft, chaste version of a human kiss.

Raph pulled back rapidly and stared wide-eyed at Mona Lisa. For a moment they both stared at each other, uncertain. It wasn't until Mona's shoulders drooped a little in sadness that Raphael shot forward and pressed a soft kiss to her lips.

Mona leaned into the kiss and wrapped her arms around Raph's neck.

When they pulled away a few moments later, both of their faces were red.

Mona Lisa smiled and Raph grinned. He took her hand in his and squeezed it gently. Both teenage mutants smiled and leaned back to gaze at the stars.

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