The Silent Partner

A Normal Day

It was a quiet morning in the turtle lair. Michelangelo was, as usual, in the kitchen rushing to and fro like a mad-turtle as he attempted to manage three different things at once. Despite his current tasks, the youngest turtle was counting down the seconds in his head: Three…two…one…

Right on cue, Donatello stomped into the kitchen and headed straight for the coffeemaker. The brainiac rubbed his aching temples with two fingers and sighed.

Mikey frowned. That sigh never boded well. "Migraine?" He hazarded a guess, currently unable to turn away from the pancakes he was trying to keep from burning.

Donatello glanced briefly at the back of Mikey's shell and grumbled, "Gee, ya think?!"

Mikey flipped the pancake and after catching it and placing the pan back on the stove he held his hands up in surrender. "Hey, don't blame me just because you decided to stay up all night working!"

The purple-masked turtle's normally soft eyes narrowed dangerously at Michelangelo as the young, orange-masked turtle once again turned his shell to him. "If it weren't for you and your plans last night, I wouldn't have spent half the night doing surveillance sweeps on empty alleyways!" Don exclaimed, frustratedly.

Mikey sighed and rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, Don! It's not like it was all for nothing. We were doing it for Raph, remember? Besides, you're the one who decided you wanted to work in your lab for the rest of the night after we got back." The youngest pointed out.

Donnie was just about ready to explode. And so was his head. "Yeah, because you and Leo dragged me away to play chaperone! I didn't get to finish!"

The pancake was done and Michelangelo was quick to get it on the plate before it burned.

Once that task had been completed, Mikey turned back to his immediate older brother. "Donnie." He glared sternly at the brainiac. "Raph and Mona have been dancing around this thing for weeks! It was about time they finally got it all sorted out, and let's face it bro, neither of them were going to do it on their own. Don't you think it was worth it to see Raph so happy?" When faced with that bright, earnest, and heartwarming baby-blue-eyed expression, Donatello could feel guilt creeping up into his stomach.

"Y-You're right Mikey. I was being pretty selfish. I shouldn't have snapped at you, either."

Mikey waved off Don's attempt at an apology with a soft smile. "Don't sweat it bro. You're tired, hungry, and you've got a killer migraine. I wasn't really expecting you to be cordial."

"Good to know." Donnie murmured softly in reply, lifting the steaming cup of black coffee up to his lips. He took a slow sip and sighed as he savored the taste and scent of the beverage. Mikey turned back to the stove and immediately began preparing more pancakes. The brainy turtle watched in silence, simultaneously draining the coffee from the cup. Once that coffee had vanished, Donnie stood and proceeded to pour himself yet another cup. As the seconds and then minutes ticked by, the cogs of Donatello's highly refined brain wheels began turning and he stared contemplatively at his younger brother's back. "Hey, Mikey."

"Hmmm?" The youngest answered as he flipped two pancakes directly onto a plate, one on top of the other. Sometimes it helped to be ninjas.

Hesitant, and not particularly sure he wanted to know the answer Donnie asked, "How long had you been planning…you know…?"

"Raph's date?" Mikey asked, just to make sure he and Don were talking about the same thing.


The orange masked turtle shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know exactly. A week, maybe? Leo helped too. He could probably give you a more specific date."

The brainiac's eyes practically bugged out of his head. Leo?! As in their older brother Leonardo?!

Donatello knew Leonardo. Or at least, he had thought that he did. Planning a date simply did not seem like something Leo would do. It just wasn't…Leo.

Mikey chuckled at Donnie's shocked expression. "Yeah I know. He surprised me, too. Actually, Leo was the one who came up to me and said that we needed to do something before things went too far. He said he was afraid that if they skirted around each other for too long, one of them was going to get hurt. So we started concocting solutions!" Michelangelo crossed the kitchen to Don's side and put an arm around the purple-masked turtle's thin shoulders, pulling him close to whisper in his ear, "Leo made me swear not to tell anyone, so keep this under your mask, but the music was his idea." The youngest turtle said, letting out a dark cackle and a smirk at the smart turtle's dumfounded face.

"L-L-Leo?" Donnie sputtered.

Michelangelo just laughed. "Yeah, who knew he was such a romantic!"

"I don't believe it." Don echoed airily, still quiet stunned.

"Don't believe what?" Another voice asked.

Both of the two younger turtle siblings tensed and their eyes slowly moved to the form of the turtle that had just entered the room. The very turtle in question: Leonardo. There was innocent curiosity in those deep blue eyes of his as he glanced slowly from Mikey to Don. Then his eyes narrowed as he caught the look in his brothers' eyes. He crossed his arms over his plastron and tapped his foot. "Alright, what were you saying about me this time?"

"Nothing." They both answered simultaneously.

The grin that spread across Leo's face made them both shift uncomfortably. "Of course, I could always just extract it from you during sparring later, if that's the way you want it."

The two younger turtles shuddered. When Leo put his mind to it, he could be really good at making threats.

Unsurprisingly, it was Mikey who spoke up first. "Donnie and I were just talking about the romantic touches you added to my plans for Raph's date."

The threatening grin completely vanished and Leonardo's face slowly began turning a very bright shade of red. "Mikey! I told you not to—"

"Hey guys, what's up?" A voice heavy with sleep asked, dazedly.

Leo cut himself off midsentence and all eyes flew to the tired, but contented-looking figure of Raphael standing in the kitchen door. The muscular, emerald green turtle stretched a little before slowly glancing at each of his brothers in turn. Leonardo's bright red face made him raise an eye-ridge. "Leo, you okay there, bro? Your face is red."

Leo waved away Raphael's concern. "Don't worry about it Raph. I'm fine."

With a nod of indifference, Raph turned to Michelangelo. He crossed his arms over his chest and a hot, green glare focused on the youngest.

Mikey shifted nervously for a few moments before muttering, "Um…Raph? Buddy? What's up?"

Raph's soft growl rumbled in his chest as he got right in his little brother's face. "Oh, I'll tell you what's up, Mikey, and don't pretend like you don't know nothing about it either. I know you set up that date for me and Mona last night."

Donatello thought about correcting the red-masked turtle's grammar, but after a short deliberation decided it would be better not to get involved.

Meanwhile, the orange masked turtle gulped in fear as his hotheaded brother went on. "Mona told me she asked you for help, but I think we both know that's not quite true."

"Aw, come on Raph! I was just trying to help you guys along! It wasn't like I was setting you up blindly or anything! I mean, you both liked each other, and you were both afraid to admit it, so…"

Raph held up a hand. "That's not the issue."

At this, all three of Raph's brothers seemed confused. Leonardo, whose face had slowly returned to its natural forest-green, was the first to ask, "Then what is?"

Raph's eyes fixed his fearless leader with a hard stare. "It wasn't safe. Mona Lisa is in no condition to go topside. She's still recovering from the trauma of her experience! She's still vulnerable! And what's more, she doesn't really know how to defend herself! What if something had happened? What if we'd been attacked by the Foot or something?!"

Leo put a hand on his brother's shoulder. The eldest turtle could clearly see that through that thick wall of anger, lay a deep pool of concern. Raph wasn't angry at them for what they'd done. Rather, he was angry at them for putting Mona in danger. But they hadn't. And that was truth. Leo looked straight into Raph's eyes as he said reassuringly, "We took the proper precautions Raph."

Raph's eyes widened and he stared at his blue-masked brother in shock. "Leo—you?"

The eldest turtle nodded. "Yes, I helped Mikey plan the whole thing out. We knew that being topside would be risky for the two of you, so we chose a secluded location that was easy to observe, and even easier to patrol around. While you and Mona were on your 'date,' Mikey, Donnie and I were making sure that no one got too close."

Raph was speechless. He couldn't believe that his brothers had put so much thought into this. Then something else occurred to him: "So…wait a second…you were watching us?"

Leo chuckled and patted Raph's shoulder as the hothead looked a little bit flustered. "Let's just say we were keeping a friendly eye on you."

The red masked turtle shuddered. "Do you guys have any idea how creepy that is?"

Leo shrugged, apathetically. "So we're a little overprotective."

"More like obsessive." Raph grumbled.

Leonardo frowned and retorted. "Would you rather we just left you there with no other line of defense if attacked?"

The hotheaded turtle growled. "I could have protected her just fine."

A long sigh escaped Leo's lips. Leave it to Raph to take it as an offense. "I never said you couldn't. I'm just saying that we were looking out for you."

With a huff and a grumble from Raphael, the conversation came to a rather abrupt end. And of course, Mikey was the first to break the silence.

"So…who wants pancakes?"

About ten minutes later, Master Splinter shuffled slowly into the kitchen to find his sons laughing and joking amiably. Even Raphael. A fleeting smile crossed the old rat's lips. It pleased him to see his sons so contented. But there was something missing, or more precisely, someone. "Raphael, where is Mona Lisa?" Splinter asked slowly.

Raph's laughter died down and he shrugged at his father's question. "I don't know. I think she's still asleep."

As if she had been summoned by their conversation, Mona Lisa stepped softly into the room, waving good morning to the turtles. She moved smoothly around the table and took a seat between Donatello and Raphael. As she sat down her eyes caught Raph's and she smiled, leaning forward and giving him a little peck on the cheek.

Master Splinter raised an amused eyebrow as his hotheaded son's face began to redden.

Raph's brothers smirked triumphantly. Not just because they got to see an embarrassed Raphael, which was a rare phenomenon, but also because it seemed that the date had finally solidified things between their brother and the lizard mutant.

The rest of the morning was relatively normal. The turtles trained, and Mona wandered about the lair, trying to find things to do. A few hours later Raph found her sprawled out on the couch watching Crognard the Barbarian. He settled down beside her wordlessly, and less than a minute later she was leaning up against him. He grinned a little and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

Just another normal day. But as long as 'normal' meant he got to spend time with Mona, Raphael couldn't bring himself to care.

The fact that Mona Lisa's first noise was a whimper had deeply perturbed Raphael. Most of all he was angry. He was angry because those monsters had hurt her so badly in that laboratory that, even now, Mona was haunted by the past. Her first sound should have been something joyous, like a child's first word, but instead it was soft and painful and, dare he say, heartbreaking.

Raphael hated it when Mona Lisa was hurting or afraid. He didn't like to see her like that. He'd find those scientists that did this to her and make sure they never did anything like this to anyone ever again! Raph's brothers were more than willing to go along with him on this one. Let it suffice to say that they all had a soft spot in their heart for Mona Lisa.

Raph could tell that Leonardo, in particular, had proclaimed himself Mona's older brother, perhaps not verbally, but all the indications were there. Leo had become somewhat of a second guardian to Mona Lisa. Leo would watch out for her, his dark blue eyes shifting every so often in Mona's direction. The same way Leo often watched the three of them just to get that quiet contemplation, that visual reassurance, that they were alright.

The similarities between Mikey and Mona's personalities had immediately pulled those two into a very close friendship. Of course, Mikey did annoy her sometimes, but Mikey annoyed everybody sometimes, so that was a given.

As for Donatello, it had taken Mona a little bit longer to trust the brainy turtle for the simpler fact that he was almost always in his lab. But Don's normally gentle nature had made it easy for the lizard mutant to get used to being near him, and she had finally accepted that the things in his lab wouldn't hurt her. Occasionally, when Don had been working most of the day, or for a couple of hours straight, the lizard mutant would bring him a cold soda from the fridge.

She also seemed to express a certain amount of interest in Donnie's projects, but she never got too close since there were usually sparking wires or sharp objects nearby.

Mona Lisa had, at some point during her short stay, become part of the turtle family. That went without saying. And whoever hurts a member of the Hamato clan would pay the consequences. That was for certain.

Raphael was snapped out of his thoughts as a high-pitched scream echoed through the lair. The hotheaded turtle shot to his feet just as a wailing Mikey charged into the room, with an enraged lizard mutant hot on his heels.

Leo immediately appeared from the dojo and assessed the situation before catching Mikey by the shell and bringing them both to a stop. "Alright, what is going on here?" He asked calmly.

Though the answer to that was pretty obvious in Raph's mind. Mona's hair appeared to have been braided and dipped in some kind of paint. And she was livid. Raphael suddenly found himself fighting the urge to laugh at the look of pure and absolute rage on her face.

"It was just a prank! It was supposed to be funny!" Mikey squealed fearfully as Mona swatted at him.

Raphael stifled his laughter to the best of his ability as he pointed out, "Mikey, you ought to know that when it comes to fiddling with Mona Lisa's hair, nothing is funny."

Mikey whined, sounding very much like an eight-year old child, "Well, you fiddle with it!"

"I ruffle it. I don't dip it in bright red paint!" Raphael pointed out.

Leonardo sighed. "Mona, I'll see to it that he gets punished. I'll make him join me and Master Splinter in daily meditation for the rest of the week."

The youngest turtle wailed. "NOOOOOOO!"

Mona Lisa's thin fingers felt the bottom of her braid and she grimaced in disgust at the feel of the hard, drying paint, and at the sticky residue that coated her hand. She turned to the youngest turtle and her eyes narrowed as a light growl echoed through the room.

Leo, Mikey, and Raph all stared wide-eyed. And so did Mona, once she realized what she'd done. After a short moment of awe, she was once again reminded of the current state of her hair and she whined in distress. Mikey and Leo were absolutely astounded. Of course, Raph had told them she could make noises, but this was their first time actually hearing her.

Raphael was quick to react. He gripped Mona's arm softly and murmured, "Don't worry, we'll get it out. C'mon, let's go see Donnie."

The lizard mutant allowed Raphael to lead her to the lab. Donatello took one look up from his current project and surmised: "Mikey?"

"Yep." Raph answered curtly. "Got anything she can use to get it out?"

Donnie got some of the pain between his fingers and rubbed them together. "Well, paint removers have a lot of dangerous chemicals in them, but you won't need to worry about that since this paint appears to be washable." Raph nodded, glad that the solution was so simple.

But Don wasn't done. "But," Don began, making Raphael turn back around, "You'll have to help her get it out. If she doesn't want it to leave any residue she'll need to get it washed thoroughly. It isn't going to be easy."

"Wait…what? How am I supposed to help her out? Like wash the paint out in a bucket of water or something?"

Don raised a dubious eye-ridge. "You could do it that way, I suppose, but it would be much more effective if you assisted her in the shower."

Raph's eyes went wide. "What?! Donnie! She's a girl!"

"I certainly hope you are not just realizing that now, Raph." Don quipped at his immediate older brother's expense.

"Well…getting in the shower with her, isn't that like weird or something?" Raph asked, rubbing the back of his neck as he shifted uncomfortably.

Mona Lisa just glanced from one turtle to the other, not really understanding the problem.

Don sighed. "Raph, she needs help and, in case you haven't noticed, we don't have any females around here that can take care of it. Are you going to help her? Or do you want to have Leo or me do it?"

Raph stared with shocked eyes at his smart sibling. Then he realized that, awkward as this was going to be, he'd much rather do it himself than have to remain calm with the knowledge that Leo or Don were doing it. "I'll take care of her."

Mona smiled and immediately began dragging Raph out of the lab and down the hall.

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