The Silent Partner

Mona Meets the Mighty Mutanimals

Leatherhead glanced repeatedly down at the turtle in his arms as he ran back to the Mighty Mutanimals' lair. He probably should have headed for the turtles' lair, but that was practically all the way across the city. There was no telling how much longer the turtle was going to last without medical care, so in the end the alligator mutant had no choice but to double back.

He rushed into the old water monitoring station they'd been using as their lair for the past couple months. It had been closed over a year ago and it was large enough for the four of them. Leatherhead burst in so quickly that Rockwell jumped to his feet and spat out some of the soda he had been drinking to prevent himself from choking. Pigeon Pete squawked in shock.

"Leatherhead! Just what do you think you're—" Rockwell stopped short as he realized exactly what—or who—Leatherhead had in his arms.

"Whoa, is he okay?" Pigeon Pete asked, hopping over towards the alligator mutant to look down at Raphael. Leatherhead growled making Pigeon Pete jump back with a startled squawk, a few feathers floating slowly to the ground behind him.

Rockwell's lip pushed out into a frown as he briefly glanced over the injured turtle. His eyes narrowed. "Put him down."

Leatherhead did exactly that without hesitation. If there was anyone who could be trusted with the care of the injured turtle, it was Rockwell.

The monkey genius's expression was grave as he glanced back up at Leatherhead. "I'll take him into my lab and do everything I can."

The alligator mutant's eyes softened as he nodded. "I know you will, my friend." He grumbled lowly.

Doctor Rockwell used his telekinesis to lift the emerald green turtle up and carry him into his lab. The turtle was breathing heavily, practically gasping for air, so Rockwell gave him a respirator and attached him to a heart monitor just to be safe. Once that was done and Raphael was stable, the monkey mutant returned briefly to the main room.

Leatherhead was still there since only about a minute had passed. Good. Rockwell needed to talk to him. "Leatherhead." The alligator turned to him.

"Have you…" Suddenly, the genius's confidence faltered a little. "Have you told him yet?"

Leatherhead's pupils narrowed. "No. I have not."

Rockwell sighed and ran a hand over his face. "I know it will be hard for him, but tending Raphael's injuries will require all my concentration. No doubt he will be worried, but tell him that he must stay out of the lab until I come out and tell him otherwise."

It was obvious to Rockwell that Leatherhead was not very comfortable with that. Even so, when the alligator nodded and Rockwell knew that Leatherhead would keep his word.

He nodded his gratitude and returned to the lab for what promised to be several hours of very delicate analysis and first aid.

With a sigh, the broad-shouldered alligator mutant rose to his full height and headed down the hall. He stopped outside the door, shifted nervously, and knocked twice.

"Come in." A raspy voice called from within.

Leatherhead took a deep breath and pushed his way inside. It was pitch black inside and the alligator's pupils dilated at the change. "Slash?"

"Yeah, what do ya need?" The turtle asked gruffly. He'd been a little bit off all day. He had a strange feeling in his chest and he didn't know what it was. But something was wrong. That was for certain. The lights snapped on to reveal the large, bulky-shelled turtle standing by the switch.

"You might want to sit down, my friend." Leatherhead urged softly.

That simple sentence had Slash on full alert. Over the past few months he'd learned to recognize Leatherhead's mannerisms and voices really well. Right now, both were disconcerting. His eyes widened as he turned to Leatherhead questioningly.

"I was out looking for metals that Rockwell might be able to melt down for his experiments." Leatherhead made direct eye contact with the giant turtle.

Slash stiffened uncomfortably at that look. Then his eyes narrowed. "Spit it out, LH."

"I stumbled over…" Leatherhead averted his eyes. "Raphael."

Slash's mutagen-colored eyes snapped up to the alligator's face, suddenly filled with emotion. "What do you mean you stumbled over him?" He asked with an eye-ridge raised, growing increasingly on edge.

Leatherhead put a hand on Slash's shoulder. "Raphael was unconscious, barely alive. I literally stumbled over him. I was going to take him back to the turtles' lair, but I wasn't certain he would last that long. Rockwell is in the lab tending to his injuries now. Rest assured my friend, he is in good hands." All through Leatherhead's explanation, Slash's eyes were growing wider and wider, filling with panic. LH had barely finished his last sentence when Slash rushed for the door. The alligator caught the turtle's shoulder. "I'm sorry my friend. Rockwell says that he will require absolute focus. You will not be able to see Raphael until he is finished."

Slash's fists clenched and he growled. "Tell me how bad it was."

Leatherhead's eyes narrowed and he resisted Slash's orders as best he could, desperately trying to reason with his friend. "Slash, I do not think that is a good—"

"Tell me." The turtle insisted.

Leatherhead sighed and closed his eyes. "He was pale and dirty. His pulse was barely detectable. His arms, neck, and feet sported nasty looking burns. Judging from the location where I found him and the state of his elbow and kneepads, he'd been tossed into the sewer somewhere near the turtles lair and was washed all the way down here."

Slash's eyes went white with fury. "I'll destroy whoever did this." He grabbed his mace and made to leave the room, but Leatherhead held him back.

"No. Think about this, Slash. Without any knowledge of what happened your efforts will be fruitless!"

"Well, I can't just sit around here and do nothing!" Slash yelled.

"Then don't." LH murmured.

The black-masked turtle froze and turned to face his second-in-command. As soon as he did, he realized what the alligator meant. "Someone needs to tell the turtles." Slash murmured. Leatherhead nodded resolutely. "Alright. I'll go get them. You stay here. If Rockwell comes out with a report while I'm gone, call me immediately."

Leatherhead nodded solemnly and promised, "I will, my friend."

Slash moved faster than he had ever moved in his entire life, fueled mostly by the fact that Raphael was injured and he needed to get back to his lair as soon as this errand was complete. It also crossed his mind that Raphael's brothers might have an idea as to who had hurt the red-masked turtle, meaning that he could then proceed to give that very special person a very special beat down. Nobody hurts Raphael. Nobody. He could feel his eyes clouding with rage and he ran faster, trying to work off the excess anger.

He burst into the turtle lair and came beak to beak with someone new.

Was she…a lizard?

She shrunk away from him, her eyes wide with terror. His gaze softened a little and he backed away slowly.

"Leonardo!" He called, turning expectantly towards the dojo, knowing that his voice would bring not only the leader, but the other turtles and Master Splinter out as well.

Just as he expected, they all came running.

Leonardo immediately detected Slash's confusion and then he realized what the source of that confusion was. He introduced them. "Slash, this is Mona. Mona, this is Slash."

Slash nodded, but other than that, he failed to really acknowledge her.

Mona shrunk back even more. This new turtle wasn't like the others. He was big, and dark. His shell was spiky and he was much more foreboding. She moved to hide behind Leonardo and the eldest turtle frowned a little.

Slash's eyes flashed as he cut to the chase. "Leo, Leatherhead found Raphael."

All three turtles tensed and leaned forward with anticipation.

"Is he alive?!"

Stunned by the reaction, all the larger turtle could do was nod. He cleared his throat. "Rockwell is fixing him up back at our lair. Leatherhead found him in the sewers not far from there." He stated, suddenly feeling a need to justify why they didn't take Raph here in the first place.

Oddly enough, both Leonardo and Master Splinter nodded their acceptance. Then their eyes narrowed. Leo was the first to speak. "We'll follow you back to your lair. We want to see him."

Slash shook his head. "No one can see him. Not until Rockwell is done."

"Donnie can help." Leo argued. "Besides, we're his family. Even if we can't see him right away, we're going to wait until we can."

The lizard mutant nodded her agreement. Leonardo took her hand in his and frowned as he looked her in the eyes. "Mona Lisa…You're staying here."

Everyone, with the exception of Slash, stared at the blue-masked turtle as though he'd lost his head.

Mikey gawked. "What?! Are you loco homie? Mona's been just as worried about Raph as we were! We can't leave her here!"

Donatello nodded. "For once…I think Mikey is right."

"Yeah!" There was a brief pause. Then Mikey's eyes widened and narrowed as he fully realized what Donnie was implying. "Hey!" The youngest snapped. Don grinned.

Mona Lisa ignored their little aside and glared at Leo. Her fists clenched and she growled. 'I'm going.' She signed angrily, trying to push past Leonardo, but he caught her arm.

"No Mona. It isn't safe."

Master Splinter's eyes narrowed. He knew that while Leonardo was often protective of his family members, the eldest turtle's protectiveness seldom manifested itself without reason. And if Leonardo had a reason for his overprotectiveness at this moment, then the old rat was certainly not aware of it. Splinter frowned and inquired softly, "What do you mean, Leonardo?"

The eldest turtle belatedly realized that he had been so preoccupied with the search for Raphael that he had never pulled Master Splinter aside to explain that their attacker had a vendetta against Mona Lisa. He sighed. He didn't want to scare Mona Lisa, but he had to make her understand the danger. She would never back down otherwise, so he had no choice but to elaborate. "The woman that attacked us in the sewer. She said that she was going to kill us all 'starting with the little lizard that ruined her life'. She has some kind of vendetta against Mona Lisa."

Master Splinter's eyes narrowed and he bristled. "Why did you not tell me this before?!"

Mona's eyes went wide and she started to shake. Her eyes moved down to the scars on her arms and her eyes filled with tears. She chewed her bottom lip for a few moments before shaking her head and straightening her posture. After wiping the tears away with the back of her hand, Mona's dark brown eyes glared heatedly at Leonardo. Her hands shook in spite of herself as she gestured, 'I don't care. I'm going with you.'

The mutant rat sighed. "Leonardo, I'm afraid that we must take Mona Lisa with us. In light of this new information, leaving her alone in the lair is no longer a safe option. Especially if this woman who attacked you is still in the sewers."

"But Sensei, what if we run into her in the sewers?" Leo asked worriedly.

"Then we protect Mona Lisa." The rat answered, his eyes flashing gravely. "With our lives, if necessary."

All of the turtles nodded solemnly, even Michelangelo.

Slash raised an eye-ridge. It was now obvious that the lizard mutant had been accepted as one of the family. The black-masked turtle knew that expression well: it was the look all of the turtles adopted when they were looking out for each other.

Slash's green eyes briefly studied the lizard mutant. She was small, a few inches shorter than Michelangelo. Her skin was a light lime green, with a cream-colored patch on her front and on the underside of her tail. There was also a dark-green patch that highlighted the middle of her back and ran down the top of her tail. She had long, brown hair that fell neatly about her face, and chocolate brown eyes.

Mona Lisa caught the giant turtle's inquisitive stare and she slowly sidled up to him. Slash tensed, unsure of what was going on.

The turtles watched carefully. Leonardo, in particular, seemed ready to jump in at any moment if Slash startled the lizard mutant or vice-versa.

Mona held a four-fingered hand up to Slash and he canted his head, glancing at the turtles for an explanation.

"She wants to compare features with you." Leo elaborated, slightly surprised by how comfortable the lizard mutant was with the giant, spiky-shelled turtle.

Slash slowly brought his hand up to hers, suddenly feeling very self-conscious as she began to look him up and down. She examined his hand first, noting that he had three fingers just like the other turtles. She seemed fascinated by his spiky shell. A lime-green hand reached out to touch one of the yellow spikes in his plastron, but he caught her wrist. Her eyes moved up to meet his gaze, and Slash was surprised to see that she wasn't afraid of him. Instead, her expression was one of simple surprise. Out of the corner of his eye, Slash saw that the turtles had tensed a little. He let go of her wrist. "They're sharp." He murmured.

Mona Lisa nodded her understanding and pulled her hand away.

Master Splinter broke the resulting silence. "My sons, we should get going."

"Hai Sensei." They chorused.

Slash was in the lead, the turtles, their father, and Mona Lisa not far behind as they made their way swiftly through the sewers. After about ten minutes of walking in silence, hehe turned to Michelangelo and muttered. "She's new."

The youngest turtle shrugged. "Not really. She's been with us a couple months. She's just new to you." Mikey said. Slash gave him a flat stare. The youngest turtle's eyes widened. "Oh. That's what you meant."

"So what's the story?" Slash asked.

Mikey frowned, making Slash raise a surprised eyebrow. Mikey whispered as they walked. "We rescued her from a human research facility. She was being…experimented on." An angry look flashed in Mikey's eyes, but soon vanished.

"And she doesn't speak?" Slash asked. He had noticed the way she communicated only with hand signals, yet the others seemed to know what she was saying.

Mikey nodded. "Yeah, Donnie thinks it's because of all the messed up things those humans did to her. She's started speaking a little bit though. Couple words here and there. I've been trying to teach her to say 'booyakahsa' but she hasn't really caught onto it yet."

"So…she's part of the clan now?" Slash asked slowly.

The youngest turtle shrugged. "Kinda. Y' see, Splinter made Raph her guardian. The two of them got really close. Now she's Raph's girlfriend." He chimed in a sing-song voice.

Slash sputtered in shock for a few moments before turning to glance back at the lizard mutant introspectively. She caught his eyes and for a few moments the two of them stared wonderingly at each other.

At the same time, Mona Lisa and Leonardo were having a conversation very similar about Slash. The lizard mutant glanced over at Leonardo and poked him in the arm. He turned to her worriedly, but she brushed off his concern and gestured, 'What about Slash?'

Leo raised an eye-ridge. "What about him?" He whispered.

'What is his story?' She asked, curiously.

The eldest turtle sighed and began to relay the full story to her. It was a condensed and abbreviated version that really only skimmed the surface, but it was enough for Mona Lisa. When he finished the tale, he glanced over at the lizard mutant, who now appeared to be absorbing everything he had said.

She tensed a little as she suddenly felt a gaze on her. She looked up and found Slash's eyes staring softly at her. Mona held his gaze for a few moments before quickening her pace and coming up by the larger turtle's side. Slash raised an eye-ridge at her sudden proximity, but quickly let it go as they finally neared his lair.

The black-masked turtle paused and turned back to them. "Not much farther." He said.

They all nodded and ran the rest of the way.

When they got there, they found Leatherhead and Pigeon Pete in the main room.

"Leatherhead!" Mikey crowed joyfully, bounding over and giving the alligator mutant a tight hug.

Leatherhead smiled. "Michelangelo," he rumbled, returning the hug with fervor.

Mikey pulled away slightly and looked up into the mutant's big, green eyes. "You saved my brother, LH! I can't thank you enough!"

The alligator's eyes dulled. "I did what I could, my friends. But I'm afraid it is now up to Rockwell to save Raphael's life."

Everyone shifted uncomfortably. Finally, Slash broke the silence. "Has he—"

"No. There has been no word." Leatherhead answered softly.

Slash closed his eyes and his shoulders drooped before he fell into a seating position.

Leatherhead frowned sadly at his friend and reached over to put a hand on the giant turtle's shoulder.

Slash jerked his shoulder away and clenched his jaw firmly.

Mona Lisa watched the exchange with intrigue. After what Leonardo had told her, she realized that Slash was just as worried about Raphael as the rest of them were. Her face softened and she slowly made her way over to him.

A four-fingered hand softly pressed against Slash's plastron, carefully avoiding the sharp, yellow spikes.

Mutagen green eyes swept slowly up from Mona's toes to her face. They held each other's gaze for a long time.

Slash had spent most of his life being a normal turtle. As such, he could communicate without the use of words. He knew how to express his thoughts through his eyes and actions. And from what he could tell, so did she.

The hand on his plastron moved to his shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He'll be all right.

Slash met her gaze and stared solemnly. That won't stop me from worrying.

I know. She answered with a little nod. Then a frown spread across her face. You aren't the only one who's worried.

The dark-skinned turtle smiled. I know. "Thank you, Mona Lisa."

She smiled and patted his shoulder. You're welcome, Slash.

The other mutants glanced at the pair confusedly, but quickly shrugged it off.

All eyes were now on the lizard mutant as she pulled away from Slash and turned to Leatherhead. She pulled the giant alligator, who was more than twice her size, into a tight embrace and the other members of the Hamato clan stared in shock. She'd never taken to anyone that quickly before.

Leatherhead also looked very shocked, not merely by the hug, but by the new mutant herself.

Mona Lisa pulled away and quickly signed something to the alligator. He canted his head, confused. "What?"

Donatello stepped forward. "She says: Thank you for saving Raphael."

Leatherhead nodded sadly, wishing for the umpteenth time that he could have done more.

Once all of the greetings and introductions were complete, Donatello turned to Slash and LH. "I want to go in. I can help Rockwell."

"Rockwell said not to disturb him." Leatherhead rumbled.

Donnie glared with determination. "Raphael is my brother. I want to do everything in my power to help save him."

Slash sighed, knowing that there was no use arguing with Donatello where his brother's health was concerned. "Go on in, but if Rockwell tells you to get out, do as he says."

Don's eyes narrowed. He didn't like that, but he knew that here he was under Slash's rules. He nodded. LH showed him the way to the lab and quickly left the turtle standing alone outside a matte, gray door. He pushed it open, slowly.

The first thing that hit him was the silence. It was quiet, extremely quiet, eerily so, and a little bit dark. He turned in the direction of the light and his mouth fell open. Shock and horror froze him to his spot as he beheld the injured, limp, and pale form of his immediate older brother. He gasped in spite of himself.

"I knew it wouldn't be long before you showed up."

Purple mask tails whipped behind him as the turtle whirled around, coming face-to-face with Dr. Rockwell. He sighed in relief and took his hands off his bō. "Rockwell."

"Donatello." The monkey acknowledged with a brief nod.

"What's his status?" The purple-masked turtle barely managed to choke out as he turned once more to his injured brother.

"Not good, as I'm sure you can see." Rockwell replied dryly. "The damage is extensive. I could work faster with an extra pair of hands."

Donatello heard Rockwell's words, but he couldn't take his eyes off of Raphael.

Rockwell noticed this and frowned. "That is, if you are able to stomach it."

Donatello took a deep breath and closed his eyes, breathing it out slowly. His brown eyes snapped open and darkened grimly. This was no time to let his emotions get the better of him. Not now, not when Raphael needed him.

Outside, Michelangelo and Mona Lisa sat on the floor near Slash and Leatherhead. Master Splinter was about ten feet away, in a lotus position and appeared to be meditating. Leonardo was pacing up and down the room. Michelangelo's eyes followed his older brother from end of the room to the other relentlessly. Finally Mona Lisa sighed and jumped to her feet. She stomped frustratedly over to the oldest turtle and grabbed his arm, forcefully bringing him to a halt.

Leo's eyes were adorably wide as he stared at the female mutant in shock. "Mona? What—?"

She stared deep into his eyes, but couldn't get her point across so she sighed and pulled away. Leo resumed his pacing as Mona tried to come up with some other way to make him stop. Her eyes widened as a solution presented itself. She smirked.

Mikey watched the lizard mutant after she pulled away from Leo. It had been obvious to the youngest that Mona wanted the oldest turtle to stop pacing, but Leo was so beside himself with worry that he didn't get the message. A dark, mischievous smirk danced over Mona's lips. An evil smile spread over Mikey's countenance. He didn't know exactly what the lizard was planning, but whatever it was, Leo was never gonna see it coming.

Mona's shoulders hunched, she widened her stance and her tail lifted a little. Understanding finally dawned on the youngest turtle and he smiled from ear to ear.

Leo turned to change direction once again. The lizard shifted her weight a little, waiting for just the right moment…and…shoom!

Leo struck the ground with a thud. His dark blue eyes stared dazedly up at Mona Lisa, who had him pinned to the floor. Everyone was now staring at them. Even Master Splinter opened his eyes to take in the scene before him.

Mona crossed her arms over her chest. She glared down at the shocked turtle for a few moments before gesturing heatedly. 'Stop it! You're just making it worse! Not to mention driving us crazy!'

Leo smiled and rubbed the back of his neck nervously, blushing a little at the fact that everyone was staring and also at the position they were in. "Sorry. I didn't even realize I was doing it."

The lizard mutant rolled her eyes and peeled off of him. She offered her hand to help him up. He took it and stood. "Thanks Mona. You know, for…"

She put a hand on his shoulder, smiled, and nodded.

Michelangelo jumped up between them and wrapped his arms around their shoulders. He beamed at Mona gratefully. "Yeah. Without you around he would have kept going until his legs gave out!"

Leonardo rolled his eyes and everyone laughed. Then the leader's eyes narrowed and he smirked. "Let's see how you like it!" He exclaimed, pouncing on the youngest. Mona giggled as the two turtles rolled around on the ground.

Slash and Leatherhead wore matching looks of amusement. And Master Splinter chuckled and rolled his eyes, "Kids."

Pigeon Pete watched them and sighed with a smile. "It reminds me of the good old days. Fighting with the other pigeons over breadcrumbs in the streets…ah…good times, good times."

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