In the Dead of Knight
I can't believe it. Those imbeciles. Incompetent fools. That lab is supposed to have some of the best security in the nation. It's been weeks and still no sign of the creature. One of them is a turncoat. It's the only possible way. Subject X71364 couldn't have escaped without help. It was too weak! I'd made certain of that.
It must have been one of them. One of those morons who'd threatened to report me to the board for carrying out inhumane experiments.
My blood-red lips curled back, showing the glint of my pristinely white teeth. I snarled. Inhumane? I was being inhumane? Pfft. Like that thing deserves to be treated like a human being!
Those pansies lack guts as much as they do common sense. Monsters like that abomination have no place in this world. They all deserve to wiped out. Snuffed right out of existence.
The only reason I kept it alive was to teach it the reality of human suffering. I wanted that thing to know exactly who it was dealing with. After everything it took from me…
I, Professor Rouge Knight, was going to make history! I was going to prove that our planet is infested with freaks! With abominations! With aberrations! I intended to prove that our civilization was a piece of cardboard crawling with pests!
I leaned my arms on the building's edge and looked out at the city. I took a long drag from my cigarette and blew the smoke out through my nose.
Those cretins! Mutant freaks! I threw the cigarette to the floor and milled it into the ground with my shoe. Pests! That's exactly what they are. And they should be dealt with in the same manner: extermination. I growled darkly.
My black hair glinted blue in the moonlight as my ice blue eyes flashed coldly. I reached back and pulled my mask down over my face, tucking it down into the collar of the shirt I was wearing. It covered everything but my eyes. My white lab coat and wrinkled blue medical gloves provided a stark contrast to my otherwise black attire.
I was ready.
I had filled my utility belt with some of my more dangerous inventions. With a final twist of my foot to grind the smoldering remains of my cigarette into the dirt, I turned away from the cigarette and towards the edge of the building.
If those idiots won't do anything about tracking down that freak and finishing it off, I guess I'll just have to do it myself.
I leaped off the rooftop and into the night, vanishing silently into the shadows below.
The next day in the turtle lair was a little…hectic. Sensei was really going hard on the turtles in training and by the time they finished, the four teenagers were absolutely exhausted.
Raph slowly made his way over to the couch and sat at Mona's side. With a frown, he slowly spoke. "Mona." She turned to him expectantly and he fumbled for a few moments before going on. "I—Well, we, meaning the four of us—my brothers and I—we…" Raph reached out and put hand on Mona's shoulder softly. "We asked April to come over today."
Mona's eyes went wide with horror and she began to shake, but Raph gripped her shoulders tightly and looked directly in her eyes. "Wait. Before you freak out, just listen! I know you won't be able to accept her the same way you did Casey. I know it's gonna take a lot longer for you to trust her, but please Mona, April needs to continue her training with Master Splinter. Not only that, but we miss her too. She's our friend and it's weird not having her down here all the time. Don's dying to see her."
Mona pouted stubbornly and narrowed her eyes at the green-eyed turtle. 'You expect me to act as though her presence doesn't bother me?' Bitterness, anger and hurt welled up inside the lizard mutant and she snapped. There were tears in her eyes. 'You expect me to ignore all the things they did to me? All the pain they caused? You want me to just 'get over it'?'
Before she could storm off, Raphael reached out and grabbed her wrists. He stared directly into her eyes, allowing her to see the pain and helplessness that he felt. "No, Mona. I don't expect you to do any of those things." Raph wiped away her tears with the back of his hand and cupped her face gently. "I'm asking you to trust me." He pulled her into a strong embrace. "I won't ever let anyone hurt you."
Mona nodded and returned the hug, her tears wetting his plastron as he rubbed her back soothingly. Mona Lisa knew with all her heart that Raph wouldn't let anything happen to her, but she was dreading the female human's visit.
April arrived at the lair ten minutes ahead of schedule. In all honesty, she'd been practically dying with boredom over the past few weeks and the prospect of being able to visit the turtles was a godsend. Still, April was concerned given the way she'd scared the lizard mutant last time.
Of course, over the past few weeks Don had been visiting every three days or so to give her a rather short recap of what was going on down in the lair, but it just wasn't the same. And she hadn't seen any of the other turtles since that night she'd visited with Casey. Considering they were practically a second family to her, that was hard. She missed Mikey's constant jokes and Raph's growls and Leo's subtle eye-rolls. Though, it was nice that Donnie had come to see her every once in a while…
She walked slowly into the lair through the turnstiles. The sound of someone moving around caught her ear and she turned to find Mona Lisa standing about ten feet away behind one of the couches.
The guys told her that Mona Lisa was ready, but to April it seemed that the lizard mutant was anything but ready. The lime-green mutant was shaking like a leaf. Why she was alone April could only imagine.
Uncertain of what to do or say, April eventually settled for: "Where are the guys?" Mona Lisa said something in sign language, but April didn't speak sign, so she just canted her head in confusion. "Huh?"
The lizard rolled her eyes and pointed to the dojo. April smiled a little. Mona had attitude. That was for sure. The human female moved towards the dojo, which coincidentally brought her closer to Mona.
Strangely enough, the terrified mutant didn't budge, even though the tremor in her hands intensified.
April's eyes widened in surprise and Mona Lisa gave her a 'what?' glance. April smiled a little and murmured, "I'm just surprised you didn't move away."
Mona gestured something, but again, April didn't understand.
They both jumped as a voice from behind them muttered, "She says: Raphael trusts you."
The redheaded human relaxed and let out a sigh of relief as she recognized the voice. She glared at him. "Donnie! Give a girl a warning next time!"
'Yeah.' Mona signed to the brainiac. Suddenly, strong, emerald-green arms snaked their way around her from behind and Mona's shaking died down a little bit.
Raph's eyes met hers and he whispered calmly. "You okay?"
'As I can be.' The lizard mutant gestured with a shudder, hardly taking her eyes off of April. In truth, after what had happened to her in that horrible lab, Mona Lisa had decided that she would never turn her back on a human female again.
April watched the two of them with interest. The last thing she'd heard the red-masked turtle was merely the lizard's guardian. She glanced down at the emerald green arms wrapped around Mona's waist and noted the way that Raphael gently cradled her close to him. She smiled. How sweet.
Seeing Raphael in such situations really reminded April that for all of his brashness, he was a really sweet guy. As the saying goes: he had a mouth as sharp as a dagger, and a heart as soft as tofu.
Turning away to give the couple some privacy, April returned her attention to Donatello. "Hey Donnie! How's it going?"
The brainiac blushed brightly and rubbed the back of his head. "Huh-huh…well, pretty good actually. It's been weird not having you down here all the time. But I think the only way Mona will learn to accept you is if you start coming down on a regular basis again."
Mona Lisa pulled out of Raph's arms at Donnie's words. A brief flash of panic crossed her face. Finally, Raph's hand wrapped tightly around hers and she turned to him.
His facial expression was soft and earnest.
April raised an eyebrow. She'd never seen Raph this gentle with anyone before. Of course, there were moments where she'd seen him comfort Michelangelo or reassure Leonardo, but this took all of that to a whole other level.
But still…April frowned. She could sense that Mona Lisa's uncertainty and terror could not simply be pushed aside. And the way Donatello was talking, it seemed as though he expected Mona to simply 'move on'. As much as she wanted to believe that would be the case, April realized, with a heavy heart, that it was going to take a lot more than that.
Mona Lisa would need time, space, and comfort alongside the daily exposure to April and Casey's presence. A brief pang of anger flared through April's heart as she cursed the human race for being so inherently cruel. The lizard mutant had done nothing to deserve such a fate. She suffered through all of their tortures simply because she existed.
The redheaded human suddenly thought back to that night after they'd dropped in unexpectedly…
She and Casey had gone back to her place and decided to wait a few hours before calling the turtles to see if everything was okay. About an two hours passed before April's t-phone rang loudly. The two humans practically jumped on it, but April got it first and put it on speaker.
"Donnie! Is everything okay?! How's Mona?"
There was a sigh from the other end of the line. "She's asleep, but from what Raph told us she was a nervous wreck."
"I'm so sorry Don! I had not idea…"
"Don't apologize, April. It's not your fault. We didn't know then what we do now."
Casey raised and eyebrow and their eyes met for a brief moment before they stared confusedly down at the phone.
"What do you mean?" Casey asked insistently.
"Am I on speaker?"
"Yeah." April answered, before turning Don's attention back to the issue at hand. "What did you mean, Donnie?"
"Well—urm…" Don suddenly sounded nervous. "I think it'll be better coming from Raph."
That made April blink blankly. Raphael was a turtle of very few words and a lot of attitude. 'Better coming from Raph?' Moments like this certainly didn't arise very often…
There was a short pause before a soft grunt revealed that Raphael was now holding the phone.
In the background they heard Donnie mutter: "Tell them what you told us, Raph."
There was a low growl. Casey Jones' eyes narrowed. Whatever the red masked turtle was going to say, Casey already knew he wasn't going to like it.
Raph spoke slowly, his voice deep and quivering with barely restrained rage. "It's nothing personal, April. Mona Lisa reacted badly because—because of her past experience."
Casey frowned and burst out, "But she did alright with me. Why is Red any different?"
We both stared expectantly down at the phone as we waited not-so-patiently for Raphael's answer. Finally, with a deep breath, the gruff voice on the other end of the line softly spoke again. "Because April is a woman, Casey. The person…the monster…that did all of those things to Mona…It was a female scientist."
April gasped and brought her hand to her mouth. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes as she thought about how terrified Mona Lisa must have been. After all the progress the lizard mutant had made it must have brought everything back. Poor thing.
There was a pause before Raph went on. "I think it would be best if you guys try and stay away for the next week or so. We'll let you know when Mona's ready."
The redhead wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. "O-Of course. We understand." It sounded like the hothead was about to hang up, but April caught him just in time. "And Raph?"
"No one deserves to live with that kind of fear. Take care of her."
Raphael's voice was resolute. "I intend to."
That kind of hurt wasn't just going to fade away into nothingness. There would undoubtedly be fear and discomfort for a long time. But…perhaps April could lessen it a little right off the bat.
April's bright blue eyes narrowed with determination. She turned and took a few steps towards the female lizard mutant.
Mona's eyes widened in fear and her muscles tensed. Raph sent April a curious stare, but made no move to stop the redhead. The turtle was closely gauging Mona's reaction. He decided that he wouldn't come between them unless it was absolutely imperative. As much as it hurt him to see Mona so terrified, the hothead knew that if he continued protecting her all the time she would never learn.
The lizard mutant shuddered and held out a hand, her way of telling April not to come and closer. 'Stay Away'. She signed frantically.
April's expression softened a little. "Mona…I know that you don't trust me. I know that it will take a long time for you to be comfortable having me around. And I know that you probably won't believe anything I say since I don't have your trust, but…I won't hurt you. I swear it." She held up a hand and crossed her heart solemnly.
Mona's shaking slowly died down. Seconds of silence quickly turned into minutes. Her lime-green lips pressed into an impassive line as her eyes bored a hole in the human female.
April felt as though Mona was trying to see straight through her.
The longer Mona Lisa stared the more her fears began to slowly dissipate. There was something in April's eyes. The same thing she had seen in Raphael's eyes the day he rescued her. The same thing she'd seen in each of the turtles' eyes since she'd come to stay here: genuine concern. April cared.
Mona's lip trembled a little as the eyes of her tormenter flashed through her mind's eye. That human female who had been so vindictive, so awful.
Those eyes…they were cold, uncaring. Her eyes were filled with nothing but hatred. Hatred and some awful kind of glee, as though it had pleased her to see her captive in pain.
Tears rose up in the lizard's eyes and she dabbed them away. She shook her head to push those horrible memories aside, and refocused on April. Mona took a deep breath and straightened. With slow, tentative steps, she pushed her fears aside and began to close the five feet of distance between them.
Raphael stared wide-eyed and Donnie's jaw dropped.
April herself froze. She couldn't bring herself to move, for fear that it would upset Mona Lisa.
A four-fingered hand trembled as Mona softly reached out and put her hand on April's shoulder.
April's bright blue irises glowed as she made eye contact with Mona Lisa. Her lips parted in surprise as she realized that even though Mona was terrified, the lizard mutant was using all her strength to push past her fears. April relaxed and sent Mona an easy-going, encouraging smile.
The female mutant nodded gravely, and pulled her hand off the human's shoulder.
The next thing April knew there was a light green hand in front of her, as though Mona Lisa was offering it for a handshake.
Not sure how the female mutant would react, April hesitated. But Mona Lisa only stuck the hand out further and more insistently.
Eventually, April decided it would be better to go ahead and take the lizard up on her offer. She reached out slowly and smoothly, being careful not to make any sudden moves.
Mona shook hands with April softly before immediately pulling away and dropping back to Raphael's side. The redhead nodded understandingly at Mona's actions. Just because they'd struck a tentative peace didn't mean that Mona was ready to face all her fears just yet.
It was a long day. Mona Lisa was on edge practically every moment of the day, until April finally departed. Once the human was gone, the lizard mutant collapsed on the couch in exhaustion.
Raphael sat beside her and the two of them watched television for a little while. Mona Lisa fell into a deep sleep and Raphael rolled his eyes. I wouldn't be surprised if one day I found out she just pretends to fall asleep so I'll carry her to her room. Raph thought with a smile as he lifted her into his arms and carried off. He set her down gently on the bed and turned off the light as he left, closing the door behind him.
He didn't hear Mona's whimper.
Everything was blurry. She didn't know what was going on. She didn't know what she was doing, or how she had gotten here. The images were so obscured…she could barely make out what was going on. The ground was concrete and the walls were gray and bleak. What is this place? Why do I feel like I've been here before?
Mona Lisa tossed and turned in her sleep, another whimper escaping her lips.
There were creatures. Strange things, scary things…They came at her with their purple eyes glowing. A piercing wail split the air. Was that her? Had she screamed? She wasn't sure.
Sweat began to accumulate on her brow as she rolled over, trying to escape the images that plagued her.
Those things! There were more of them. They were grabbing her and trying to take her away! Don't! Don't let them take me! Wait! There was something else…someone else…It threw the creatures away from her and yelled something. Something. She couldn't understand what they were saying. A horrible sound split the air and the figure that was protecting her fell to the side.
"NO!" A voice in the dream yelled. Who said that? Mona tried to see, tried to figure out what was going on, but then there was the sound of something shattering. It soaked her. She wailed, not knowing what to do. And then…pain. Waves and waves of searing pain. There was someone yelling. Who was yelling?
Those things came and tried to grab her, but just as they reached down, a voice stopped them. The indistinguishable figure stood laboriously and seemed to be trying once more to protect her.
That horrible sound echoed down the alley once more and something hit her protector in the chest. He fell back against the wall with a sickening thud. Someone else was rushing down the alley and suddenly the creatures pulled away and ran off. Mona Lisa stared at the unmoving form of her protector, slowly getting closer and closer. No. No. No. Please get up! Please wake up! Why won't you wake up? No…No…
Suddenly the image cleared and she could see his face. His human face.
"DADDY!" Mona Lisa screamed at the top of her lungs, as she shot up in bed, her eyes wide open. She shivered as the moving air hit the cold sweat on her forehead.
Outside, all four turtles had jumped out of their beds and come running as a terrified scream of "DADDY!" echoed through the lair.
Master Splinter appeared soon after. "My sons, what is going on? Have you had a nightmare?" He looked at each turtle, but they all shook their heads.
But if it wasn't any of us then…
Raphael straightened and his neon green eyes filled with fear. "Mona." He whispered beneath his breath. The hotheaded turtle sprang into action and burst into Mona's room. The rest of the clan followed right on his heels.
The lizard mutant was shaking in her bed, everything she'd seen repeatedly flashing before her eyes. She was so far gone that she didn't even feel the bed dip as the red-masked turtle climbed on and wrapped his arms around her. Mona's eyes slowly moved down to his arms before looking at him as though she hadn't even realized he was there.
Mona's expression was so blank, so devoid of feeling, that Raphael's eye-ridges creased with worry. "Mona." He called softly, but he got no response.
The images continued to plague her and she simply sat there, wide-eyed, watching them flow. Tears filled her eyes and once again spilled down her cheeks. She shook her head. No. No. No. The face of her protector flashed in front of her yet again. No! "Daddy…" She whispered.
Raph's arms fell and he pulled away from her in shock. The rest of the Hamato family gasped. A short silence spread through the room. Mona's expression was still absently blank and Raphael finally couldn't take it anymore. He reached out and grabbed her by the forearms, turning her around as carefully as he could.
At long last, Mona's soft, chocolate-brown eyes finally met Raphael's neon green irises with some measure of clarity. Raph ran a hand down the side of her face. "Mona you-you-you spoke." He stammered disbelievingly.
Mona's eyes widened. She could speak? Her body began to shake, her eyebrows furrowed, and her eyes darted about restlessly. She shook her head. No she can't speak. She couldn't have. But she had. But how? What was going on? What were those images? Where had they come from? Why had that human protected her? And why, after seeing his face, did she instinctually want to call him 'daddy'? She shook her head. Too much. It was all too much. What was she supposed to do now? What did it mean? Why now?
"Raphael, she's in shock." A voice said. It sounded far away, like it had come from another room.
The world began to spin and the next thing she knew the world was flying beneath her feet. She turned and looked up. Strong, emerald-green arms cradled her softly against a strong, cracked plastron. Mona dazedly wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself against him. The arms around her squeezed gently in response.
The lizard mutant pressed desperately into the contact, pushing all her confusion and fear aside, as she focused solely on the comforting presence of the red-masked turtle. She closed her eyes, listening to the soft steady beat of Raphael's heart as she was swept away…