A few days had passed since the unicorn incident. It had yielded plenty of laughs for all three turtles, and Mona Lisa as well. And of course, Mikey had been given a taste of his own medicine.
But even then…Leo still wanted to get back at Mikey for that snake prank. And yes, Raph's prank had really gotten the youngest turtle riled up, but what Leo had in mind was a little more…vindictive. The eldest wanted to show his little brother that pranking the leader had very serious consequences. And so a nifty little idea had popped into his head.
Raphael was on the couch with Mona. The red-masked turtle was currently introducing her to the world of action movies. She seemed to be taking it pretty well, though there were times where she would cower in fear and slide closer to Raph.
Not that that bothered the hothead in the least…
"Raph." Leo called.
The red-masked turtle growled at him. "What do you want, Fearless?"
Leonardo smirked. "Your help. Your prank on Mikey wasn't bad, little brother, but I have something guaranteed to make Dr. Prankenstein stay dormant for at least another month." Leo's voice was smooth and enticing like a salesman trying to sell a product to a customer that didn't need it.
Raphael paused the movie and turned to face his older sibling with an eye-ridge raised. He crossed his hands over his plastron. "I'm listening."
Mona smiled and nodded her head fervently at Leo, excitedly urging him to go on.
Leo's grin was absolutely menacing. "Ever heard of a little thing called 'Unicorn Meat'?"
Raph smiled, Leo grinned even wider, and Mona was completely lost.
"Keep talking." Raphael said, his smirk growing increasingly disturbing as he considered all the possibilities.
By now the two eldest turtles had matching expressions. Raphael had to admit that even though Leo could be an idiot sometimes, for all those rare times that he did dare to cross the line, Leo could be downright diabolical. And that subtle mischievous-streak was one of the traits Raphael enjoyed the most about him.
One thing Leonardo could say about Raphael was that the red-masked turtle was loyal to a fault. Raph had never once blabbed a single secret Leo had shared with him. And Leo valued that. He'd always been able to trust Raphael explicitly. The only problem was that the red-masked turtle only very rarely did the same with him. But still, Leo was taking Raph into his confidence with this thing, and it looked like Raph wanted in.
"What if some of this 'Unicorn Meat' magically ended up on Mikey's pizza?" Leo suggested, smiling wickedly
Mona Lisa was hopelessly lost. 'What is the meaning?'
Raphael turned to her and tried to explain. "Unicorn Meat is like spam."
Mona was still lost and so Raph struggled a little. "Spam is meat that comes in a can. It's usually ham, but it can be other meats too. Unicorn Meat is like spam, but it has edible glitter in it."
Mona Lisa practically gagged and her face turned green. Then she promptly proceeded to glare at the turtle.
Raphael laughed and held up his hands in surrender. "Hey, if you didn't want to know you shouldn't have asked!"
The lizard mutant shoved him lightly, crossed her arms over her chest and began to swat him affectionately. Raphael chuckled and Leo couldn't help but smile at the cute scene that was unfolding right in front of him. The eldest turtle smiled.
She was good for him. Of that, Leo was certain. Laughter had always been a rare thing when it came to Raphael. Since Mona Lisa's arrival, however, that had changed. Around her, Raph had transformed. His soft side had been exposed. And Leo was grateful for that.
Raphael smirked at his older brother. So maybe he was working with Leo on this one, but that didn't mean he'd pass up an opportunity to poke fun at him. "So Da Vinci, got unicorns on the brain much?"
Cerulean blue eyes narrowed and Leo growled. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Haven't you read anything 'bout yer famous counterpart? 'The unicorn, through its intemperance…blah, blah, blah' Sound familiar?"
"Oh, well excuse me for not striving to live up to one of the greatest artists and scientists of all time!" Leo remarked, rolling his eyes.
Raph threw up his hands. "Hey, I'm not trying to offend you, Leo. I'm just saying, you need to brush up on your history."
Leo scoffed. "And I suppose you're the expert?"
The red masked turtle scoffed and shook his head. "Nah, Don's the expert." Raph admitted.
"Look Raph, do you want in? Or what?" Leonardo snapped exasperatedly. There really was no reasoning with Raphael sometimes.
The younger turtle smirked and his neon green eyes glinted mischievously. "Oh, I'm most definitely in."
Mona looked disgusted, and when the two older turtles turned to her she shook her head. Raphael grabbed her hand, and put on a pleading expression.
Leonardo watched in amusement as Mona's resistance crumbled. He rolled his eyes and smiled gently. Those two are perfect for each other.
Raphael chuckled lightly at the lizard mutant's expression before kissing her lightly on the bridge of her nose. It wasn't until after he'd done it, that he realized Leo was smirking at him.
It took a little bit of convincing, on both Leo and Raph's part, to get Donnie in on the prank. It wasn't that Don wouldn't like to get back at his little brother for all the times Michelangelo destroyed something in his lab, but…well…what Raph and Leo had in mind was pushing it. Eventually, after a long period of deliberation, Donnie agreed, on the condition that they would confess the prank soon after. Both of the older turtles agreed, and that was that.
Leo had already procured the can of Unicorn Meat a few days before, so they had everything they needed. Now all they had to do was wait until dinner. Leo smirked darkly. This is going to be epic.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, dinnertime rolled around. They were all gathered together in the main room. Donnie and Raph went up topside to get the pizza and it took them a little longer than usual. As soon as the purple and red-masked turtles returned, Michelangelo was bouncing all over the place.
Time for Leo to put his plan into action. Leonardo popped open the can of Unicorn meat and began spooning it out onto the pizza.
Mikey took one glance at the can and froze, staring at Leo as though the eldest had suddenly grown another head. "Ummm…Leo?"
"Yes Mikey?" The eldest asked innocently.
"What are you doing?" Mikey asked slowly.
Deep blue eyes stared flatly at the youngest turtle. "I'm just putting some spam on the pizza. You like spam, don't you?"
Mikey was so shocked that it took him a few moments to come up with an understandable answer. "Uhh…Yeah…but that isn't spam, dude."
Leo looked down at the can in his hand confusedly. "What are you talking about? Of course it's spam, just look at the can!" The leader thrust the can out to his younger brother.
Mikey shook his head. "No, it says: Un-i-corn meat." The orange-masked turtle said, pointing at the words with his finger as he read.
Leonardo's eye-ridges furrowed. He glanced down at the can then back up to his little brother with a very genuinely stern expression. The leader put a soft hand on Mikey's shoulder. "Mikey, are you okay?"
By now Michelangelo was beyond flustered and extremely confused. His baby blue eyes narrowed at his eldest sibling as he snapped. "Yeah, I'm fine, Leo! There's nothing wrong with me! It says: Unicorn Meat!"
Dark cerulean eyes gleamed with concern as Leo patted him on the shoulder. "Mikey…it says Spam. S.P.A.M. Spam." The blue-masked turtle said, pointing to the label on the can the same way Mikey had earlier.
Mikey's eyes went wide and he staggered back in shock. Leo wouldn't lie to him about something like that…would he? Then the youngest noticed something else. "Well just look at the meat! It's all sparkly!" A sea-green finger pointed at the glittering meat on the pizza in front of them.
Raphael's eyes narrowed and he frowned. "What the shell are you talking 'bout, Mikey?! It's just normal spam."
"HUH?!" Mikey was growing more and more desperate, he couldn't be imagining this! He yanked the can roughly from Leo's fingers and examined it thoroughly before running over to his brainy brother. "Donnie! Just look at the ingredients!"
They read: Magic, Hopes and Dreams, Giggles, Smiles, Rainbows, Stars, Happiness, Kisses & Hugs, Sunshine, Superglue, Love, and Surprises.
But to Mikey's distress, his immediate older brother moved his finger down the side of the can as he 'read' them aloud. "Total fat: 16 grams. Saturated fat: 6 grams. Cholesterol: 40 milligrams. Sodium: 790 milligrams. Total Carbs: 1 gram. Proteins: 7 grams."
Michelangelo's eyes were as big as saucers. His mouth opened and closed repeatedly for a few moments before he plucked the can away from Donatello and turned desperately to their father.
Mona Lisa moved aside to let the youngest turtle through. She raised an eye-ridge at Mikey's brothers. While she had to admit, it amused her how gullible the orange-masked turtle could be, she still thought that it was rather cruel to torment him like this.
"Master Splinter! This isn't spam, is it? I'm not hallucinating, am I?!" The youngest asked desperately.
All three older turtles held their breath. Shell. They hadn't thought about the possibility of Mikey asking Master Splinter. From behind Mikey's back the three other turtles stared blankly at their father.
Master Splinter stood and pulled Michelangelo into a gentle hug, sending his other three sons a very stern glance. They deflated a little. Leo, in particular, was disappointed. But then, just as they thought all was lost, Master Splinter pulled away and cupped Michelangelo's face softly. The old rat looked down at the can in the youngest turtle's hand doubtfully and then his face creased with worry. "Are you sure you are feeling well, my son?"
Mikey was at a loss.
But it isn't spam! It isn't! Why can't they see it? What's wrong with me?! Even Sensei…
The can dropped to the floor with a soft clang.
Raphael's composure temporarily fell as he stared in shock. Sensei had actually helped them with their prank?! No way! But the hothead quickly came back to his senses as Michelangelo stumbled over and fell onto the couch, looking completely befuddled. Raph smiled and glanced over at his brothers. They too smiled at the youngest turtle's expression, before silently agreeing that enough was enough.
Time to come clean.
"Who's going to tell him?" Don whispered under his breath as the three of them and Mona huddled together.
"It was Leo's idea." Raph offered, looking expectantly at the eldest.
"Exactly why I'm not going to tell him." Leo stated resolutely. "One of you two should do it."
Raph shook his head. "I'm not gonna do it."
Donatello also shook his head. "No way I'm doing it. Mikey would never trust anything I say again."
The hothead growled and rolled his eyes. "Don, he isn't gonna trust you anymore anyway."
"Well excuse me for trying to preserve some sort of reputability." The genius retorted, glaring at his red-masked sibling.
Leo immediately held Raph back as the hothead began to surge forward. "This isn't getting us anywhere. We should—" The eldest turtle glanced up and stopped midsentence.
The other two turtles followed Leo's gaze curiously. He was looking at Mona Lisa. They all stared at the lizard mutant for a few moments and exchanged glances before nodding in agreement.
Mona's eyes widened. 'Me?' She gestured. 'No. It was your prank!'
The three turtles just smirked and pushed the lizard mutant in the direction of the couch. She looked back at them with confusion and nervousness. Leo motioned her to go on. With a sigh Mona Lisa straightened a little. Her eyes caught the can on the floor and she bent down to pick it up. The lizard looked down at the can in her hand and over at the youngest turtle, who was now curled up in a ball on the couch with his carapace to the room. She tapped him softly on the shoulder and he slowly rolled over to glance at her.
"What do you want?" He asked a little sourly.
Raphael couldn't help the soft growl that escaped his lips. Even though Mikey was upset the youngest should know better than to talk to Mona like that.
Mona smiled sweetly at the youngest turtle and pointed to the can in her hands. 'Unicorn meat.' She gestured. Then, to further convince him, she scraped a bit of glitter off the inside of the can and showed it to him. 'Glitter'
Mikey just stared at her for a few moments before he finally asked hesitantly. "You mean…I'm not crazy?"
That was all it took. The other turtles suddenly burst into laughter.
Mona shook her head. A colossal smile spread across Mikey's face and for a few moments Mona Lisa was afraid that his face would crack.
In all of his relief and joy Michelangelo jumped to his feet and pulled Mona with him, holding her tightly by the shoulders. Still feeling incredibly elated, and not thinking much beyond his sheer joy at not being crazy, Mikey yanked Mona towards him and planted a loud kiss on the lizard mutant's cheek.
Mona Lisa's cheeks went bright red and she completely froze as she stared at the orange-masked turtle with wide eyes.
A dark growl snapped her out of it and she quickly realized that Michelangelo was staring at Raphael with a terrified expression on his face. Raph was livid as he charged his younger sibling with his fists raised. "I'm gonna Shellac you, Mikey!"
The red-masked turtle used his strength to easily pin Mikey to the ground, where he proceeded to punch his little brother's carapace repeatedly. Mikey screamed and both Donatello and Leonardo sprung into action.
They were beat to it, however, as a soft hand on the fist Raphael currently had raised made the hothead look up. Mona Lisa was shaking.
The hothead immediately pulled away from Mikey and reached out for her, but she jumped back and out of his reach. Raph belatedly realized that his fists were still clenched. He relaxed his hands and turned back to her, his eyes soft. "Mona…" Again she stepped away from him. "What's wrong?"
Mona's face was grave and her eyes were wary as she signed: 'You were going to hurt him.'
Raph's eyes widened. "No…No I wasn't…" The hothead rubbed the back of his neck nervously. He knew that if no one had intervened, he probably would have hurt the youngest turtle in his rage. "I wasn't trying to! I just…" Raphael glanced around and realized that his entire family had really stern frowns on their faces. "I didn't mean to…" He whispered softly, his shoulders drooping with genuine guilt and regret.
The lizard mutant's stern gaze softened and she slowly reached out to cup his cheek affectionately. 'I know.' She signed with a gentle smile before stepping close and kissing him softly.
Raphael let out a sigh of relief and pressed into the contact, softly wrapping his arms around her. He murmured softly. "I'm sorry. My temper…I just…I lose control…"
Mona pressed a gentle finger to his lips silencing him before she repeated: 'I know.'
Raph nodded and grinned bleakly at her before he turned to his youngest sibling. "Mikey I—" the hothead's voice was nothing more than a whisper, "I'm sorry."
Mikey smiled and nodded, but Leo smirked, not about to let a golden opportunity go to waste. "What was that? I don't think he heard you."
Raph glared at the eldest turtle and grumbled. "Don't push it, Fearless!"
Leo just rolled his eyes and chuckled. Don lips curved upward into a smile.
Michelangelo belatedly put two-and-two together. "Wait, so you guys were gaslighting me?"
All the other turtles grinned. Mikey crossed his arms over his plastron and glared. "Not cool!"
Everyone just laughed.
Later that night, Raphael retreated to his room. The other turtles didn't make much of it, but Mona Lisa couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.
So, when Leo Mikey and Donnie agreed on having a movie night, Mona went down the hall to the hothead's room to ask him to join them. Unsurprisingly, the door was closed. The lizard mutant reached out with a thin hand and knocked softly, waiting for the grumbled 'Come in' before she entered.
Raph sat up and dangled his feet off the side of the bed as he turned to face her. "Hey. You need something?"
Mona shook her head and plopped down beside him. Her fingers danced softly across his shell for a few moments and he leaned into the contact, eventually giving in completely and laying across her lap with a sigh. The lizard mutant blushed down at him and reached out to gently stroke the side of his face with a giggle.
Raphael smiled and pressed into the contact. Mona Lisa looked beautiful. She always did. Then he remembered the way she had jumped away from him earlier and a frown marred his handsome face.
A thin, lime-green hand pressed firmly against the turtle's plastron, where she could feel his strong, steady heart pounding away. Her soft, brown eyes were filled with concern. 'Are you alright?' She asked worriedly.
The red masked turtle sighed, making Mona frown. Something had upset him.
What was wrong? Why wouldn't he tell her what was wrong? Could it be…No…
'Do you still like me?' she asked, small tears slowly starting to gather at the corners of her eyes.
Raph's eyes widened in shock at the question before he realized that she thought he didn't…
He shot into action. Strong emerald green hands reached out and yanked her down, pulling her into his chest. He kissed her temple softly and whispered into her ear: "Of course I do! Don't ever doubt that, Mona! I will always love you! Always! I swear it." Raphael was so desperate in his attempts to console her that he didn't even realize that he had just confessed his love for her.
Mona sniveled a little and poked his plastron. He let her sit up again and she glowered down at him. 'Then why won't you tell me what's wrong?'
Raphael frowned and slowly confessed. "I—I…Mona, I was afraid." The hothead admitted softly, refusing to meet her gaze.
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion and she canted her head at him.
"I was afraid that, after what happened earlier...I was afraid that you would see me as a monster. I mean, my temper, my anger…I almost hurt Mikey…and you…"
Mona Lisa silenced and quelled his fears with a passionate kiss. Raphael hummed and pressed up into the kiss as best he could, but the next thing he knew, a soft pressure was holding him down. Mona had her hand pushing him down, keeping him from sitting up as she shifted into a more comfortable position, laying on his plastron. Raph smiled and wrapped his arms around her as he pulled her down for another kiss. When he pulled away his arms loosened, allowing her cuddle up against him.
It wasn't long before the lizard mutant was fast asleep. Raph smiled softly as he carefully lifted her and set her down beside him on the bed. He wrapped his arms around her protectively and soon he, too, fell into a deep, carefree sleep.
The next morning he was rudely awakened by a bright flash.
"MIKEY!" A furious Raphael bellowed, his voice so boomingly loud it shook the lair.
Michelangelo giggled as he fled down the hall, keeping his camera out of his older brother's reach.