The Silent Partner

The Wrong Name

The turtles' shoulders drooped. Their heads were bowed and their feet dragged as they shuffled down the stairs and through the turnstiles into the lair. Donatello had one of Leonardo's arms draped over his shoulders, supporting the older turtle, despite Leo's protests that he didn't really need it.

Michelangelo trailed behind, constantly looking back over his shoulder, mournfully. He couldn't stop thinking about the fact that their brother was probably lying unconscious and beaten in some tunnel miles away.

It wasn't long before they heard the sound of the dojo door sliding open. Their eyes moved lethargically up from the ground to their father.

"My sons! It is very late. Mona Lisa was—" Splinter stopped short as he saw the tears trembling in the corners of Leonardo's eyes. The old rat's heart plummeted to his stomach. The other turtles all wore similar expressions and dread crept its way into Splinter's eyes.

A lime-green figure swept over to Master Splinter's side. Leonardo tore his gaze away. He couldn't look Mona in the eyes. He' d failed. He'd failed Raphael and therefore he had failed Mona Lisa. He'd broken his promise to her.

Then came the dreaded question: "My sons…where is Raphael?"

Nobody answered. Donnie and Leo bowed their heads. Mikey threw himself into Master Splinter's arms, sobbing. The old rat stood straight as a board for a long, tense moment. Finally he melted and slowly wrapped his arms around his youngest child, terrified beyond belief.

"We were being followed after we left the base, Sensei. S-She attacked us in the sewers. Raph jumped in front of me and—" Leo's voice cracked.

Mona Lisa shot forward, grabbed Leonardo by the shoulders and shook him roughly, fighting to meet his gaze.

When he finally looked down into her eyes, he could no longer hold back the tears. "Mona…I—I'm so sorry."

Tears began to cascade down her cheeks. She shook her head, disbelievingly, her eyes pleading with Leo, begging him to say it wasn't true. She keened in devastation as Leo's expression remained the same.

Mona fell to her knees, her shoulders shaking violently with the force of her sobs. Leo acted completely on instinct. He dropped down beside her and pulled her tenderly into his arms. She clung to him tightly, sobbing into his shoulder. He pulled away slightly and looked straight down into her eyes. "We'll find him Mona. I promise. He's alive. I know he is."

"Leonardo." Sensei murmured softly, prompting the eldest to look up at him. "Tell me everything, my son."

"Hai Sensei." Leonardo whispered. Mona Lisa didn't pull away, instead she curled up to lean against his plastron, tucking her head under his. He wrapped his arms around her tightly as he began relaying the story to his father.

Leo purposely omitted the fact that the strange woman who had followed them and hurt Raphael was somehow connected to Mona Lisa. She was already upset enough as it was. And if Leo's suspicions were correct, telling the lizard mutant that this scientist had some kind of vendetta against her would only derail her even further.

Leo told them how the vigilante woman dropped Raph into a torrent of raw sewage and Mona Lisa cringed, her eyes wide and filled with tears. "Nnn—Nn—N—No…"

Leonardo jerked away, staring down into her eyes, in shock. They had all gradually gotten used to Mona making noises and sometimes even humming to herself, but she hadn't said any words, other than daddy, until now.

Master Splinter lowered his gaze to the floor, sadly. If Leo were really honest with himself, he'd say that Master Splinter was fighting to hold back tears. "That is what I was trying to tell you when you came in, my sons. Mona Lisa has begun mimicking words."

Leo practically crushed the lizard mutant in a hug, grinning from ear to ear. Mona blinked confusedly up at him. The blue-masked turtle tipped her head up and looked down into her eyes as he said, "Raph will be so proud when he finds out."

Mona grinned and returned the embrace. There was nothing conditional about Leo's statement. He used definitives like was 'will' not would have been and 'when' not if. That certainty was more reassuring than anything else. Because it meant there was still a chance. Mona Lisa nodded to herself. They would find Raphael. They just had to.

A few days passed. Leo, Donnie and Mikey spent day and large portions of the night out in the sewers searching for their missing sibling. Unfortunately for them, the sewers were just as extensive as the city above, sometimes even more so. They had a lot of ground to cover and they were determined to get to their brother before anyone else could.

Mona Lisa had been having nightmares. She wouldn't really talk about them, but from what she let slip, it sounded as though they all involved Raph being sucked down into the sewer. They had all done their best to comfort her and keep her company, but unfortunately none of them were able to meet her needs, not even Mikey. When she could, it seemed as though she gravitated towards Leo because, despite his awkwardness, he offered her strong physical reassurance with little to no questions asked, which was what she needed most.

On the fifth night, Mona's nightmares must have been particularly gruesome, because she left her room and walked down the hall to knock on the blue-masked turtle's door. He opened it and stared sleepily at her.

There were tears in Mona Lisa's eyes. She sniffled.

"L-L-L-Leo…" She whimpered and hugged him tightly. Leo stiffened, his arms coming to wrap around her automatically, even though his mind was reeling.

He blinked away his own tears and shook his head.

It shouldn't be me. This shouldn't be me. The first name off her lips…and it's mine. It should have been Raph's not mine—not mine.

Miles away, a dark, bulky figure darted swiftly about the sewers scavenging for anything that might be considered useful material. But he stumbled on something very different…literally.

He tripped over the strange object, but managed to catch himself before he fell. He turned around, about to kick whatever-it-was out of the way for good measure.

When he looked down, however, he froze in his tracks and fell to his knees. He wasted no time in turning the body, which he now realized was a very familiar one, over.

The dark green eyelids were closed. His body was limp and cold, his mask was missing. He looked…dead.

Fear welled up inside of the large, shadowy figure and he immediately pressed a huge finger against the emerald green turtle's neck. There was a pulse. Slow and barely detectable, but there nonetheless.

The pipes creaked and the tunnels groaned. The figure glanced warily from side to side, suddenly wary of his surroundings. With no further ado, he scooped the injured turtle up in his arms. He headed back the way he'd come at uncharted speeds, his earlier reason for being in the sewers completely forgotten.

The injured turtle needed help. Help that the larger being carrying him could not provide. Two green eyes beamed softly and concernedly down at the injured, sullied, and waterlogged mutant in his arms.

Raphael needed help fast.

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