Raphael grabbed Mona's hand in his, softly. He leaned over and rubbed his forehead gently against the lizard mutant's with infinite tenderness. As her light green eyelids fluttered open, Mona shot up off the table, practically jumping into his arms. Raph wrapped his arms around her slowly, offering as much comfort as he could.
A very lost and uncomfortable feeling stewed in Raph's gut. Tears really weren't his territory. And in a situation like this he felt incredibly inept. So he did the one thing the only thing he knew how: he held her close and tight.
He ran a hand slowly through her hair. But instead of tussling it, as he usually did, Raph found himself pondering the way the soft, wavy locks felt as they slid through his thick, green fingers. He closed his eyes and just tried to feel Mona. He wanted her to feel his presence beside her. He wanted her to know that she was here, in his arms, safe. But more than anything else, Raphael wanted her to stop crying.
So far, it seemed as though it wasn't about to happen anytime soon. The hard, raucous sobs that wracked Mona Lisa's frame showed no indication of slowing and Raphael could feel the tears starting to wet his plastron. Finally, in an act of desperation, Raphael delicately wiped the tears away and kissed each of her damp cheeks affectionately.
Mona's sobs came to an abrupt and hiccupping halt. Her cheeks darkened a little as she sniffled, her chocolatey eyes never leaving Raph's.
"Please, please Mona…don't cry." He tried his best to keep that waver out of his voice. He really did. But the longer his neon green gaze lingered on her, the more his heart cried out in anguish. Mona was hurting.
Mona Lisa's in pain and there's nothing I can do! I don't know what to do! He thought to himself.
Then the softer side of him spoke up. But I can't keep standing here doing nothing!
So he did the first and only thing he could think of. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her warmly on the lips.
They parted sooner than Mona would have liked, and she wrapped her arms around Raph's neck. His strong hands held her firmly against him as he pressed their foreheads together.
Their gazes locked. Mona stared in awe. Are those…tears?
Raphael's eyes were wet with tears that had not yet run down his face. His effulgent green eyes burned with anger and his shoulders heaved up and down, laboriously. When he spoke, his voice shook with the sheer force of his emotions. "Mona, I've never been good at this. I've never been good at words. But, I promise you, Mona Lisa, you'll never have to suffer alone. Never again. I'll always be here. You can tell me anything. You don't have to be afraid. I'll protect you. You don't have to keep your feelings locked away inside. I'll be here for you. And if you don't want to talk, or you don't feel comfortable about something, I'll wait for you."
The red-masked turtle immediately found himself fighting the urge to face-palm. Geez Raphael, how cheesy can you get?! Urgh!
He tried to hide his embarrassment, but he could already feel his cheeks betraying him and reddening rapidly. The hothead struggled to reign in all of his warring his emotions, but they were proving to be infinitely stronger than he had thought.
Mona Lisa, however, didn't care whether it was a cheesy line or not. She smiled up at him with grateful tears in her eyes. The lizard mutant barreled into Raph full force and clung to his plastron like a barnacle to a whale, with no intention of letting go.
"I hate seeing you in pain." He confessed softly.
Mona nodded against his plastron and Raphael knew that she felt the same.
Raph's lips softly brushed the side of her face as he murmured, "I'd do anything for you." His voice dropped below a whisper and he turned his gaze to the floor. "I know you'd do the same for me." Raph grew even quieter. "I love you too much to see you hurt like this."
Their eyes met. Mona smiled up at him, and with one, final sniffle, she leaned up to kiss him chastely on the lips.
Raph kissed back with fervor, his hands cupping the sides of her face gently.
Another figure suddenly barged into the lab and froze in his tracks. He smirked and let out a loud 'Whoop-whoop.' "Hate to break up the make-out session you two, but I need to borrow lover-boy for a few moments." Don said with smirk, his arms crossed over his chest.
Raph jerked away roughly and growled at his immediate younger brother.
Sometimes I really hate having siblings…He thought with a roll of his eyes.
"Mona's coming with, Donnie. I don't want her to be alone right now."
Donatello frowned. "You better have her stay with Master Splinter then. Leo wants to discuss the plans for our next—" Don paused and sent an uncertain glance in Mona Lisa's direction before finishing his sentence, "— mission."
Mona Lisa raised a suspicious eyebrow. What is Donatello trying to hide?
She immediately grew wary and gestured to Raphael, 'I want to go with you. I want to know what's going on.'
Raph's posture stiffened and he tensed. "Mona…I'm sorry, but I think Donnie's right."
The lizard mutant's mood shifted. She put her hands on her hips and her eyes narrowed. 'You said you would do anything for me, yet you won't even tell me the truth? You're hiding something from me and I can feel it.' She gesticulated angrily.
Donnie, who had been instrumental in teaching Mona Lisa American Sign Language, raised an eye-ridge at her words. But as his over-active mind processed everything in full, he couldn't stop a second smirk from crossing his face.
Raph actually admitted he would do anything for her? Donatello watched with amusement as Raph's cheeks reddened. Then he realized that if Mona Lisa discovered the truth about the plans for their next mission, she would probably freak out.
So he decided that, for Mona's sake, intervention was needed. "Mona, Raph just doesn't want to worry you. It's just a simple reconnaissance mission, but you'd probably be more comfortable if you don't have to listen to all the different kinds of risks we take on a daily basis." He put a hand on her shoulder. "Please, Mona Lisa, trust us."
Mona's brown eyes glanced from Donnie to Raph and then to the ground. 'Fine.' She signed, giving in. There was flash of worry in her eyes as she gestured, 'Be careful.' Raphael grinned and nodded.
As Raph walked her to the dojo, the lizard mutant leaned against him and held his hand. They stopped just inside and Raph squeezed her hand reassuringly as he began to turn away. But Mona grabbed his fingers and tugged him back, making him pause. Hesitatingly, Mona Lisa signed, 'I mean it Raphael. Please be careful.'
"Careful as I can be." He jeered good-naturedly. Raph's grin quickly faded, however, as he saw the apprehensive and fearful expression on in her sensitive, coffee-colored eyes. "Mona I…" His voice died mid-sentence as she turned away from him. An emerald green hand reached out and slowly gripped her elbow. "…Mona?"
When she turned back around to face him, her eyes were once again red with tears, but it was obvious to Raphael that she was fighting them back. Much as he wanted to pull her close to him, he resisted. His gut instincts were telling him that that wasn't what she needed right now.
'I saw so many things.' She began, roughly extricating herself from the turtle's grip.
Raph raised an eye-ridge. Is she talking about...?
'Things I don't understand. Places that I remember, but I don't know how or why. But the one thing I do know is that I lost someone.' Mona's eyes remained glued to the floor as she refused to meet Raphael's gaze.
After failing to make eye contact with Mona Lisa, Raph focused instead on the bottom of his Sensei's door, wondering briefly whether or not the old rat was hearing every word of this conversation. Or, his side of the conversation, anyway. In all likelihood, Splinter probably could. But Raphael pushed those thoughts aside and muttered. "You were screaming 'Daddy'."
Their eyes met briefly and there was a flicker of something indistinguishable in Mona's gaze before she turned her back to him and refused to say anything further.
Raphael was confused. This was very different from the discussion they'd had just a few minutes before in the lab. This was a darker, heavier topic that left Raph feeling like a great weight had suddenly been placed on his chest.
'I want you to tell me the truth.' She signed.
The emerald green turtle raised and eye-ridge. "I wouldn't lie to you."
'Yes you would.' She retorted immediately, as though she had known exactly what he was going to say. Her eyes narrowed and she stomped over to poke him in the chest. 'You'd lie to me if you thought lying would save me the hurt. I want the truth.'
"The truth about what?" Raph asked, even though he already knew exactly what they were talking about.
'Donatello's thumb twitches when he lies.' She stated, her expression growing increasingly serious. 'What is the mission?'
He leered dryly at the sudden emergence of her obstinate streak. "You're too stubborn for your own good."
A brief smile fluttered across her lips and she smirked, 'Tell me something I don't know.'
Raph smiled briefly before his expression grew slightly guarded and apprehensive. "I don't want to upset you."
'The truth.' Mona demanded. She put a hand on his shoulder and stared directly into his eyes.
The hothead sighed. There was no way he could avoid this question without a fight and honestly, that was the last thing he wanted at the moment. He placed his hands on her shoulders. "We're going to infiltrate the human research lab that was holding you captive."
Every ounce of strength Mona Lisa had collected over the past few minutes suddenly vanished and her legs turned to jelly. As she collapsed to her knees, Raphael was immediately at her side, his face filled with concern. Her hands shook as she gesticulated, making it difficult for him to understand her next few words. 'If…if they catch you…they'll…' Her focus slowly moved down to one of her many scars.
As soon as the red-masked turtle realized what she meant, he gripped her tightly by the shoulders and whispered into her ear. "We're ninjas, Mona. They won't catch us. Besides, its just a recon mission." He smiled softly as he consoled her.
Mona gestured meekly, fearfully. 'I don't ever want to lose anyone again.'
A sigh escaped Raphael's lips and he frowned sadly down at her. His thumb stroked her cheek gently. He allowed his rock-hardened, tough-guy mask to fall once more. "Mona…I know it's hard to accept losing the ones you love. It's always hard. It's the hardest thing in the world. But it happens all the time, to everyone. Death is a part of life."
She stared in awe at him for a few moments. But before she could say anything more he went on, taking a seat beside her. He leaned back and stared up at the light coming through the ceiling and the tree branches above their heads.
It struck Mona Lisa that at that moment he looked…perplexed yet amazed all at once. Like a philosopher struggling to understand the meaning of life.
Raph lips folded down into a smooth, thoughtful frown. "I—I sometimes wonder what will happen when one of us…ya know? Or when Master Splinter's gone. It just won't be the same. It will never be the same but, somehow, life will go on without him. And even after the four of us are gone…life will continue."
Silence spread between them for a long moment before Mona shifted uncomfortably. 'I'm most afraid of losing you.' She gestured, cuddling up against his side and laying her head on his shoulder.
Raph raised an eye-ridge slightly and smirked down at her. He flicked her nose lightly and the lizard mutant sent him a curious stare. His smirk melted into a lop-sided grin. "Don't be getting all sappy on me now." Raph said with a slight chuckle.
Mona rolled her eyes and lay her head back on his shoulder. There was about thirty seconds of silence, during which, Mona could feel Raphael's gaze on her. Finally, she looked back up at him. He reached up with his right hand and ruffled her hair.
Mona sputtered in shock for a few moments before glaring heatedly at the mischievous, and now smirking, turtle. She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted briefly before pouncing on the laughing hothead with a lighthearted growl. They rolled and flailed on the floor for several minutes before a walking stick tapped twice on the ground a few inches from their faces.
Both mutant teenagers looked up, surprised. Was it Raph's imagination, or was there a slight hint of a grin at the corner of his father's mouth?
"When the two of you are quite finished I should like an explanation." He stated smoothly.
Raphael jumped to his feet and offered a hand to Mona and helped her up before turning back to Master Splinter. "Sensei! I was hoping that Mona could stay with you for a little while. Leo wants to discuss the plans for our next mission."
Splinter nodded in understanding. "Hmm. I see. That is quite alright, my son. In fact," Splinter turned to Mona with a gentle smile, "there are a few things I have been meaning to discuss with Mona Lisa."
Mona canted her head, curiously. Raph also looked curious, but he could tell from the way his Sensei said it, that Splinter wanted to talk to Mona alone.
The next thing the red-masked turtle knew, Mona Lisa had bounded over and pressed a soft kiss on his lips. He could feel his cheeks growing hot and increasingly red, even after she pulled away. Then Raph realized that his father was staring at him with an eyebrow raised in amusement.
"I—uh…I—uh better get—going—or something…" The hothead blurted out before turning and running out of the dojo.
Splinter stroked his beard thoughtfully as he stared musingly after his son.
I do not think I have ever seen Raphael move so fast. He thought with a smile.