About a week passed. Donatello had kept the female lizard mutant on an IV-drip to provide her with the necessary nutrients and hydration. She was still weak, but gradually growing stronger.
At the moment, Donatello was updating his brothers on the details of her condition.
Leo and Mikey sat on one couch with Don facing them as he gave his report. Raphael was pacing angrily up and down behind the couch where his elder and younger brother sat, and it was driving Leonardo wild.
It was no secret that Leo didn't particularly enjoy having people stand behind him. As ninjas all of them were hypersensitive to anything and everything, especially if the subject in question was out of their sight. Therefore Raph's inability to stand still was wreaking havoc on Leonardo's nerves.
Dark blue eyes narrowed. "Raphael, dammit, just stand still!"
Raph growled, hopped over the back of the couch, and landed next to Michelangelo, seating himself on the opposite end from Leonardo. It was obvious that he was fighting to contain all of his pent-up anger and frustration. With a sigh of frustration, Raph stood and stomped over to the punching bag. A fierce battle cry rang through the lair as he stabbed it repeatedly with his sais, sand hissing out the holes and piling on the floor below.
All three turtle brothers shuddered at the sheer force behind their strongest brother's thrusts. Their eyes were wide as Raphael proceeded to pummel the bag with every ounce of fight he had.
Just as Raph threw his final punch, Sensei emerged from the dojo. "What is going on in here?" The turtles' father bellowed. Wise, brown eyes fell on the hard, chiseled form of his second son. Raphael's shoulders rose up and down in deep, labored breaths. Rage burned in the bright neon green eyes.
Splinter's angry eyes softened. "Raphael…"
Raph turned away as Splinter attempted to put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry Sensei. I just…it makes me so angry that those monsters were able to do this to her. How could they just…? How can anyone be that heartless?"
The old rat lowered his gaze and when he spoke his voice was a mere whisper. "Raphael, for as long as I could I attempted to protect you from the outside world, to shield you from the more horrible aspects of human nature. I understand how difficult this must be for you. But do not lose faith in the human race, my son. There is always hope that tomorrow will bring change. Let us hope that those with accepting spirits like April and Casey represent the greater percentage of human kind."
Raph scoffed. "That's a fickle hope."
"And your view is cynical, my child." Splinter responded, refusing to meet Raphael's eyes.
Raphael's green eyes dimmed and darkened. "It's my nature."
Silence spread over the room. Finally Don cleared his throat, bringing everyone's attention back to him.
Raph's eyes narrowed. "What Don?"
"There is no telling how she'll react when she wakes up or how well she'll be able to recover from what was done to her."
Leo's face darkened as he perceived the jist of what the brainiac was talking about. "You mean that she'll be haunted by memories of what happened."
Don nodded solemnly. "Most likely."
"So what do we do?" Mikey asked.
Don opened his mouth to answer, but Raphael cut him off.
"We comfort her, support her, and we don't push her. She'll tell us in her own good time." Raph said evenly.
Splinter glanced thoughtfully at his red-masked son. After much deliberation and a long period of lingering silence, the rat came to a conclusion. "Raphael, you seem very determined to help her to the best of your ability."
Slowly, the hothead nodded. There was a very hard glint of determination in those bright green eyes of his. "Of course I am, Sensei. I saw her pain. No one deserves to live that way. I am going to help her. Those bastards will never hurt her again, I'll protect her. I know she'll be afraid and it will be difficult to win her trust, but she deserves to have someone she can trust after so many years of hurt."
"Hmm…your words are very heartfelt, my son. You sound as though you have thought a lot about this."
"It was also your decision to rescue her, isn't that correct?" Splinter asked, cocking an eyebrow inquiringly.
"Hai Sensei." Raphael answered.
The other three turtles exchanged confused glances. Leo was the first to voice his confusion. "Master Splinter, where are you going with all of this?"
Splinter held up a hand to Leonardo, silencing him, as he focused solely on Raphael. "It seems to me, Raphael, that you have already taken the responsibility of being her guardian."
Raph stared at the floor, actively attempting to mask the emotions in his eyes from this father. "I'm only doing what I think is right, Father."
The old rat put a hand on the hothead's shoulder and this time Raph didn't pull away. "I am confident that your judgement is sound, my son. Even so, do not forget to exercise caution."
Raph grinned and nodded.
Now Leo and the others were even more confused.
"So Raph's her guardian now?" Don murmured.
Splinter pulled his hand off Raph's shoulder and turned to his other sons. "Yes, my son."
"So…what exactly does that mean?" Michelangelo asked curiously.
"It means that your brother will have full responsibility for our new friend's actions as well as her safety."
Donatello frowned. "Sensei, I hate to object, but Raph has none of the knowledge necessary when it comes to dealing with PTSD."
"What Raphael does not know he will learn from you, Donatello. Also, how long will it be before the young woman awakens?"
The brainiac sighed and shrugged. "There's no telling, really. Anywhere from a few days to another week or so. Her injuries were extensive."
The old rat nodded. "Understood. Until then you will instruct your brother in the basics of how to handle a trauma victim."
Again, the genius sighed, but this time it was one of exasperation. "Hai Sensei."
Three days later, their mystery guest began to stir. Donatello hurriedly called all his brothers to the lab. Unfortunately only two of the three showed up. "Where's Raph?" The purple-masked brother asked insistently.
Leo frowned. "Sensei wanted to talk to him in the dojo. What's up?"
"She's waking up."
Leo looked at Donnie, then he turned to Michelangelo. Mikey turned to Leo and Leo turned back to Donnie. The orange masked turtle glanced at both of them. "Why are we all looking at each other?"
Leo and Donnie rolled their eyes and sighed.
As the lizard mutant returned to consciousness she saw the outlines of three strange figures looming over her. In a fit of panic and fear she lashed out and realized that she was not being restrained. With desperate haphazard blows she knocked them away from her. She heard one grunt in pain and the others immediately stooped down to help him.
The lizard took her chance and threw herself through the doors at the other end of the room. She landed in yet another unfamiliar chamber. Her eyes locked on a door and she hurled herself towards it, only to find herself being held back by strong hands.
Her captor whirled them around so that he was now between her and the exit.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, take it easy! I'm not gonna hurt you! Listen to me, dammit! I'm trying to help you! Just listen to me! Listen."
The lizard mutant struggled violently in his arms, but eventually her fight died down. After all, she was injured and still quite weak. Slowly she met the eyes of her captor. Wait…she recognized those eyes.
"Listen." He repeated a final time, bright neon green eyes gleaming in earnest. "It's okay, you're safe here. Nobody's going to hurt you."
Suddenly she realized something else: he was green. In fact, he wasn't a human at all. She relaxed in his grip and stopped fighting. Slowly the green male's hands released her, warily. The lizard canted her head curiously. She reached out and grabbed an emerald green hand and lifted it up. He seemed a little bit taken aback, so the lizard mutant made her intent clear by pressing her hand to his. She looked curiously at his fingers, confused.
Raphael grinned. "Yeah, well…I've only got three fingers. It's a turtle thing, I guess."
There was a short moment of inaction before she nodded, as though accepting his answer. She released his hand and her fingers began to feel along his shell.
At that moment Raph's brothers emerged from the lab in a panic. Luckily for him they were behind her back and she showed no sign of noticing them. He subtly gestured them not to come any closer until he said so. The other turtles were very confused as to what was going on, but they kept their mouths shut and did as Raph said.
The lizard mutant, meanwhile, was fascinated by the feel of Raph's shell. She seemed to marvel at its hardness. She even raised a fist and knocked on it, as though testing its strength. Her fingers ran over Raph's scar and he shuddered. She pulled her hand back violently, her eyes filled with fear and apprehension.
Raphael frowned. "No, it's okay." He put a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. She flinched a little, but as she looked deeper into his eyes she relaxed even further. "You didn't hurt me. It's just…sensitive."
The lizard nodded, but moved her hands away from the scar, her fingers stroking and examining the texture of Raphael's mask. As she fiddled around with the bandana tails he caught her hand gently. She tensed.
He smiled indulgently. "Just don't untie it."
Again she moved her hands away. The lizard held out her hand. For a moment Raphael was confused.
"What does she want you to do?" Leo asked from behind them.
The lizard whirled around, but as soon as she realized that the other three were all turtles, and the emerald green one was ignoring them, she, too, decided it would be safe to ignore them for now. She turned back to the emerald green one and offered her hand.
Raphael's eyes darkened with understanding. "I think we're comparing features." He took the offered hand and pressed it against one of his own. "I see you have four fingers."
She nodded enthusiastically. Then she turned around and pointed to her tail.
Raph smiled. He liked the kind of childish joy that she exuded.
The hothead shook it off. "Yeah, you've got a tail too. That's pretty cool. Can you control it voluntarily or…"
She smiled and flicked her tail over to his belt, grabbing his t-phone and lifting it away with efficacy.
The red-masked turtle smirked. "That's a neat trick."
The lizard mirrored the smirk and handed the phone back to him.
"I'm Raphael." He stated, holding out his hand.
She stared at the hand confusedly for a moment before placing her right out in the same manner a few inches away from his and let it hang there.
Raph chuckled and gripped her hand, giving it a firm handshake. "It's called a handshake. It's something people do when they meet for the first time."
The lizard nodded and mimicked Raph's action. He smiled.
"So, um, have you got a name?" He asked.
The lizard mutant dropped to her knees and swept a small pad and pen up off the floor from where Don had left it earlier that morning. She scribbled something down and handed it to him.
The other turtles watched curiously from where they stood. As much as they wanted to come closer, they were afraid it would frighten their new houseguest.
Raph read the paper slowly, "SX71364". His eyes narrowed with anger. "That's what they called you, isn't it?"
Slowly she lowered her eyes and nodded.
"Can't you tell me your real name?"
She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out.
Raph frowned. "You can't talk?"
She nodded again.
"Well, you do have a name, right?"
The lizard mutant refused to meet his gaze and shook her head.
Raph reached out and softly tilted her face up so that he could make eye contact. "Then we'll give you one."
Mikey took that as his cue and shot forward. "Oh, oh, oh, I know! How about Izzy!"
Raph's eyes narrowed. The lizard mutant sidestepped behind him, clinging fearfully to his carapace. After a couple of seconds she peered out from behind Raph's shell at the youngest turtle.
"What about Cleopatra?" Mikey asked.
The lizard made a gagging face at the suggestion. Raph chuckled. "I don't think she likes that one, Mikey."
"Well then, what about Lizzie? Liz?"
She stuck out her tongue rudely at him. Raph grinned even wider, though he, too, was trying to think up a name. "What about something to kinda go with our names like…I don't know…Mona Lisa, or something?"
Her eyes lit up and she whacked the back of Raph's shell to get his attention.
"I think she's trying to tell you something Raph." Leo said, barely restraining a chuckle.
Donatello also grinned. And silently contemplated the lizard mutant in front of him. For someone who had suffered through an extremely traumatic experience she seemed alright. In time, maybe she could live without always having to be fearful of others.
Meanwhile, Raph looked back over his shoulder at her. "What is it?"
The lizard smiled and nodded her head at him.
"You like Mona Lisa?" Raph suggested.
She nodded fervently once again.
The hothead smiled. "Mona Lisa it is then."
Michelangelo deflated, pouting his little heart out. "Awwwwww, I wanted to name her!"
Raph was secretly gloating over the fact that she preferred the name he came up with better than any of Mikey's suggestions. "Sorry, little brother."
Leo saw that as his cue and finally stepped forward.
'Mona Lisa' recoiled a little bit, but Raph gripped her hand reassuringly and managed to coax her into moving forward to meet the eldest turtle halfway. She held out her hand awkwardly.
Leonardo ignored the awkwardness and shook the offered hand. "It's a pleasure to welcome you into our home, Mona Lisa."
She gave him a shallow nod before returning to Raph's side.
Don muttered, "Well, it's obvious which one of us she trusts the most."
Raph shrugged. "I wouldn't have expected it to be any different. I think she knows I'm the one that rescued her. So why would she trust anyone else more than me?"
Don brought a hand up to his chin. "Hmm. I suppose you have a point."
"Damn straight." Raph stated.
"My sons?" A deep voice called from the direction of the dojo.
Mona Lisa jumped back behind Raphael, doing her best to conceal herself.
"Is she awake?" The old rat asked.
Raph nodded. "Hai Sensei. She's right here." The hothead gestured to behind himself. He turned around and looked straight down into her eyes. "Don't worry. Master Splinter won't hurt you. He's my father."
Ever so cautiously, Mona pulled out from behind Raphael. Her eyes widened in fascination as she set sight on the giant rat. Immediately she rushed over and held up her hand, much the same way she had done with Raph.
"She wants to compare features, Sensei." Raphael explained.
The old rat nodded and offered his hand out to her. As Mona studied Master Splinter's rat form the old rat spoke softly to his sons.
"No adverse reactions so far?"
Raph shook his head. "A little bit of natural fear at first. Strange place, strange people and all of that , but so far she seems to be okay. Energetic little minx though." Raph added as an afterthought as he watched Mona Lisa staring with fascination at Splinter's fur before rapidly moving on and reaching for the rat's whiskers.
Mikey looked confused. "But she's a lizard!"
Raph just rolled his eyes. "It's an expression, Mikey."
"Oh." The youngest said blandly.
"Indeed. She seems to have a very distinct personality." Sensei agreed.
"She's pretty brave, if you ask me. I mean, trusting in people you barely know takes a lot of confidence." Leo stated.
Raph frowned. "I wouldn't say she trusts us. I'd say she's just getting her feel of things. Trust won't come until way later."
The hothead chuckled as Mona tried to examine Sensei's ears and they kept twitching away from her. Eventually she gave up and pouted.
Raph went over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, you're lucky you got that far. I'm amazed he let you past the whiskers."
She smiled a little, and her eyes gleamed. Even without words, Raph knew what that meant: Thank you.