The Silent Partner

Now! Before It's Too Late

"There are several things I need to discuss with you, Mona Lisa." The old rat stated as he steered her into the center of the dojo. "First and foremost, I am well aware that you have a fear of sharp objects and weapons, but now that you have become part of my family, it is imperative that you learn how to defend yourself."

A fearful look crossed Mona's face and he was quick to reassure her. "Do not fear, little one. You will not need to concern yourself with weapons for a while yet. For now we will focus only on hand-to-hand combat and the power of the mind. From your dedication to meditation I have already seen that you will become a very devoted student."

Mona Lisa gave him a doubtful look and Splinter chuckled. "Do not doubt yourself, my child. You have a great potential. More importantly, I want to ensure that you are not harmed in the future." He stated, his eyes darkening at the thought of anyone hurting the sweet, unassuming lizard mutant any further.

Ah…at this point I have more children than I ever could have imagined all those years ago. Four—or five sons including Casey Jones—and now three daughters including April, Mona and Miwa. I have enough students to proclaim this the beginning of a new generation of the Hamato Clan. The old rat's contemplative frown turned into a smile. Not that there is anything wrong with gaining children.

But there was another matter they needed to discuss. "Mona Lisa…" He paused and chose his words carefully. "I'm am sure that you are aware how deeply I care about my sons."

She peered softly up at him and she nodded.

Master Splinter sighed. "Raphael…is my pride and joy. He is his brothers' strength. He is their passion."

She looked confused.

The old rat lowered his gaze. "He cares very deeply. Especially for you, little one. Please…do not hurt him."

Mona Lisa gave Master Splinter a very serious nod. She wouldn't dream of it.

Mona trembled with fear as she followed Raphael around his room while he gathered his gear. Today was the day of the turtle's planned intel raid on the human research facility and she had never felt more scared in her life. As soon as Raph finished gathering everything he needed from his room, he headed for the door. But he stopped short as he realized that there was something, or more accurately, someone blocking his path.

"Step aside Mona."

The lizard mutant shook her head and threw herself at the turtle. Raphael wrapped an arm around her, while his other hand stroked the side of her face softly. "I'll come back to you. I promise."

Mona Lisa summoned every ounce of courage she had in her and leaned up to press a passionate kiss to the turtle's lips. Raph's cheeks went pink.

After Mona pulled away he was left gaping at her like a gob-smacked codfish. Mona blushed and giggled at his expression. The sound of her laughter made him smile. He stared affectionately down into her eyes and tilted her head up. "That's what I like to see."

Mona's tail reached up and poked the turtle in the side. Raphael tensed up like a cat in a dog pound. His brilliant green eyes narrowed. "Don't you dare." He growled.

The lizard mutant smirked and tackled him to the ground where he landed with a loud thud. She ran her fingers up and down his sides. His raucous laughter erupted and boomed through the room and the lair.

Thirty seconds later the door burst open to reveal three concerned turtle brothers on the other side. But when they realized what was actually going on, gentle smiles lit their faces.

Leonardo had to fight to stifle his own laughter as he spoke. "What's going on in here?"

Mikey smiled brightly and answered for them. "I think that's pretty obvious, bro." He smiled at Mona. Then his smile turned into a smirk and he cracked his knuckles before stepping forward. "Step aside, little sis, and leave this to the masterful Dr. Prankenstein!"

Mona laughed. Actually laughed out loud. And it was the most beautiful sound Raphael had ever heard. He'd never smiled so wide in his entire life as he did at that moment. He couldn't even bring himself to yell threats at Michelangelo as the youngest turtle began to tickle him even more. Eventually even Leonardo joined in on the younger turtles' and the lizard's antics.

About a minute later, they were all brought back to reality by the sound of someone clearing their throat. "Um guys, I hate to break up the moment, but we really do need to get going."

Mona's smile was wiped clean off her face and Raph sent Donatello a glare before turning back to comfort the lizard mutant. "Mona, everything will be okay. I promise I'll come back to you."

She wrapped her arms around his middle and pressed she side of her head against his plastron. For a few moments she listened to the strong, steady beat of the heart beneath the scutes.

The other turtles frowned lightly at the tender scene and how much Mona was affected by this. Leo put a hand on her shoulder and she turned towards him.

"It's okay Mona. We'll make sure he keeps that promise." Mona smiled gratefully at the eldest turtle. She pulled away from Raph and moved to hug Leo. Leo was so surprised that it took him a while to reciprocate and Raph couldn't help but smile.

"And you guys say that I don't know to respond to hugs." Raph muttered and rolled his eyes.

Leo sent glared over Mona's shoulder as he returned the lizard mutant's hug. Raphael chuckled.

Donatello did a little victory dance as he cracked the lock in less than ten seconds. But his dance was cut short when someone pinched his arm, hard. "The shell, Raph?!" He exclaimed.

The hothead chuckled. "Shut up, brainiac and get movin'." He motioned with his sais.

Don sighed and did as his brother asked. Geez, Raph's in a crabby mood. He's probably just agitated because of what the scientists in this place did to Mona.

Less than ten minutes later alarms were blaring so loudly they made the turtles' brains throb. Turns out it had merely taken a little while for the security system to detect the break-in at their entry point. They ran as quickly as they could through the eerily pristine, white hallways. Heavily armed guards wearing gleaming uniforms and bullet-proof vests were hot on their trail. Footsteps could be heard closing in behind them and the shadows of their pursuers danced across the walls.

Raph glared over at Donatello as they ran. "Something tells me they've tightened security since the last time we came."

Don mustered up a look of supreme annoyance and remarked sarcastically, "Gee, ya think?"

The turtles were now running for their lives. Because if they got caught here, they'd be here for the rest of their lives, undergoing horrid operations and heartless experiments, just as Mona Lisa had for who-knows-how-long.

They turned down a particularly long, straight hallway. Donnie immediately spoke up. "The schematic I downloaded when I cracked the locks shows an exit this way!"

Leo's eyes gleamed, determinately. "Then let's not risk staying here any longer. We need to leave. Now."

They all nodded. Mikey and Donnie were almost to the door when Raphael straightened. The hothead shoved Leonardo against the wall. "Look out!" The armored humans rounded the corner and opened fire. Raph had pushed Leo out of the way just in time and the two of them stood in a narrow recess, pressing themselves against the wall. A plasma shot grazed Raph's cheek and he bit back a yell.

Donnie and Mikey, who by this point had also taken cover near the wall, peered around cautiously at their older siblings. The purple masked turtle saw the shot graze Raph's cheek and his eyes widened. He stepped slightly out from his hiding spot, "Plasma weapons? When did—" He never finished that sentence.

Raphael surged forward and shoved Donatello back, out of the line of fire, catching a few shots in his carapace at the same time. Luckily for him it was nothing serious. "This is not the time, Donnie!" He scolded and Don had the sense to shut up after that.

Leo carefully moved forward and began to herd his brothers further down the hallway towards the exit. He sent Donnie and Mikey ahead while he and Raph used their weapons to deflect or block any potentially dangerous shots. The two older siblings turned to follow their brothers, but the humans had other plans.

"We can't let them escape," a voice, probably their leader's, said. He raised his gun and opened full fire on the ceiling above the turtles.

Not long after a shower of plasma fire hit the ceiling, a low groan made them both look up. Leo reacted first. "Raph!"

The red-masked turtle suddenly found himself being shoved to forward as the ceiling crumbled around them. The air was thick with dust. He coughed and crawled forward. "Leo?" he called quietly, his voice rough. He could feel his brother's hand and he traced it gently up to Leo's shoulder and rested a hand on the eldest turtle's head. "Leo. Come on, wake up!" No response. A flash of dread made Raph's hand begin to tremble. "Leo?" He asked, infinitely more timid.

"Raph." A voice rasped through the dust.

"Leo!" Raph cried, relieved that his older brother was alive. He tried to pull Leo out, but a hand on his plastron stopped him.

"No Raph. I'm trapped. I'm being held down by a ceiling beam. I'm not injured, I can still feel my feet, but I can't get out."

Raphael began to sift urgently through the debris and peel it, piece by piece, off of his brother. Again, a soft hand on his plastron stopped him dead in his tracks.

"Raph, there isn't time! You'll have to go on without me." He murmured softly.

The hothead bristled. "Like shell we are! Just hold still, I'll get you out of this!"

Leo's hand grabbed Raph's wrist and squeezed it tightly before taking hold of the younger turtle's hand. "Please listen to me. Sensei told me that with the world at stake we must do whatever must be done. No matter what we have to sacrifice…or who. Please Raphael, for me, get our brothers to safety."

Neon green met ocean blue and Raph saw something in his older brother's eyes he had hoped never to see: Fear.

Raphael lay a hand on his older brother's shoulder and squeezed gently. His only older brother… He held Leo's gaze as long as he dared. "I will come back for you."

Leo grinned tritely, as though he expected nothing less. "I know you will." Then his grin faded and scraping noises could be heard. "They're digging through the rubble, Raph. You need to go. Now!"

Raph nodded, staring into Leo's eyes one last time before withdrawing and turning away…without looking back.

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