The Silent Partner

A First Timer, Eh?

Raph's brothers watched with amusement as their hotheaded sibling attempted to convince Mona Lisa to at least try the pizza.

Three days had passed so far and Mona Lisa had proved to be a very picky eater. She liked vegetables of all kinds, particularly carrots. Somehow she had stumbled upon them in the fridge and wasted no time in grabbing them. In fact, the turtles had grown quite used to seeing her poking about the lair with a carrot in her hand. Raphael, who had always detested carrots, would simply roll his eyes and mutter under his breath about how she should have been mutated into a rabbit.

Mona Lisa brought the pizza up to her nose and sniffed it. She eyed it warily and glanced uncertainly at Raphael.

He couldn't help but chuckle at her distressed expression. "Well, go on!"

Mona pushed it away a little and sent Raph a pleading stare. She looked very much like a child who didn't want to eat their spinach.

And in this instance, Raphael was playing the role of the strict parent. "You won't find out whether you like it or not just by smelling it. Give it a taste."

The lizard mutant was still unsure, but she slowly lifted the pizza to her mouth and nibbled at it. She chewed slowly and uncertainly, focusing only on the taste of the food she was consuming.

After a long moment of suspense, on Raph's and his brothers' parts, Mona finally looked over at them. Her expression was so serious that the turtles couldn't really tell whether she liked it or not.

All of them stared anxiously at Mona Lisa.

Mikey, in particular, was distressed. He'd never met anyone who didn't like pizza before and he really hoped she wouldn't be the first.

I mean, someone who doesn't like pizza, how can they possibly survive? He thought to himself.

Mona raised an eyebrow and examined the pizza, before taking a loud, and very large bite.

Raphael smirked. "I told you you'd like it if you tried it."

Leonardo smiled. Raphael was his usual brash self, but he was especially protective towards their guest. Like earlier this afternoon for example…


Flashback

It was about eight o'clock when Casey Jones came down to visit. Raph was punching at his punching bag and Mona Lisa was seated on the floor in front of the television with Leo. Television was something new to the lizard mutant and she found it absolutely fascinating. She actually enjoyed spending most of her time watching the pictures and images that danced across its colorful surface. At the moment she was crouched behind the eldest turtle with her hands on his shoulders, peering around his shell at the screen.

Raphael assumed this position was mainly due to the fact that the volume was turned up and it was the middle of a battle, so she was just a tiny bit scared. Raph rolled his eyes and went back to the punching bag.

So she's hiding behind Leo for protection, eh? The hothead scoffed. Leo's so absorbed in his stupid show he probably doesn't even realize that she's there.

That was the last thought that crossed his mind before, the next thing he knew, he was sprawled out on the ground, with a hockey-masked human pinning him down to the ground.

Mona jumped up at the sound of the commotion, literally shaking with fright.

Casey lifted his mask and laughed, murmuring something about Raph not seeing it coming.

Mona's eyes were filled with horror at the sight of the human, but she pushed past it and ran to Raph's side. In her haste, her tail knocked over a stack of odds-and-ends that fell with a crash.

Leo actually paused the show and tried to figure out what was going on. Mikey emerged from the kitchen, where he was trying to work out some sort of carrot-pizza recipe for Mona. And finally, Donatello poked his head out of the lab with a blow-torch in his hand.

Raph growled and pushed the human off, putting a good three feet of space between them.

Suddenly the hotheaded turtle felt thin hands turning him around. Mona's hands ran over him frantically as though searching for injuries, her eyes filled with panic.

Emerald green hands shot out and caught hers, stilling them. He looked directly down into her eyes and something inside of him cracked. He pulled her into a gentle hug.

The other turtles slowly made their way into the center of the room. When Raph pulled her into a hug their jaws dropped.

Raph hugging someone?! Of his own free will?! No way!

Casey's jaw had also dropped, but for an altogether different reason. "Whoa, another mutant?!" The human reached out towards her and Mona recoiled violently.

There were tears in her eyes as she pulled out of Raph's arms and moved behind him. Raph looked over and saw desperation in her eyes. The same desperation he had seen when he first decided to rescue her. His hands tightened into fists.

Raph used his right hand to hold Casey at bay. "Casey, I think you should go."

Casey's eyebrows furrowed and he frowned. "Huh? But I just got here. Don't you wanna go bust some heads?"

The red-masked turtle glanced back over his shoulder at the terrified mutant clinging to his carapace. He sighed. "Sorry Casey, not this time. Please you need to go, you're scaring her."

"Aw, come on, I didn't mean to scare you…" The teenager leaned over to try and address Mona. "I'm not gonna hurt you. I swear." Casey's expression was earnest, and for a moment Mona Lisa peered out from behind Raphael, cautiously.

Raph tensed, but allowed it.

But then Casey made the mistake of reaching towards her.

Mona jumped back and burst into tears. Raph turned his back to Casey and murmured over his shoulder. "Casey, please leave. I'll meet you at your place later and explain."

Casey frowned and nodded, taking his best bud's advice and heading out.

"And Casey."

The human turned back to his friend.

Green eyes glinted warningly, "Tell April she needs to stay away too. At least until we get Mona sorted out."

Casey nodded once more before he turned and left.

Mona dropped to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest as she sobbed. The other turtles watched with concern as Raph dropped to his knees to join her. "Eh, Donnie, throw me the tissue box." He stated gruffly.

The brainiac did as he was told.

Raph's instincts were true to form as he caught the tissue box without taking his eyes off of Mona Lisa. He took one of the tissues and helped her dry her tears. Her slow sobs came to a stop as she looked into his eyes.

The emerald green turtle's expression was stern. "C'mon now, toughen up. Big girls like you don't cry."

There were still tears in her eyes. Raphael offered her a gentle smile and a soft stroke on the shoulder. Mona Lisa smiled back at him and did her best to blink the tears away.

Donatello frowned and rolled his eyes. "Technically, crying is an important bodily function that helps regulate emotional wellness."

Raph glared. "Not the time, Don." His neon green eyes softented as he turned back to Mona Lisa. "Mona, there are a lot of things in this world that are scary. We deal with those kinds of things all the time. You can't let those things get you down." Raphael stared stiffly at her and his voice hardened as he went on. "I need you to trust me, Mona. Do you?"

The female mutant stared deep into his eyes and nodded.

"Good. Listen to me. I have friends that are humans. Friends that I trust. If you trust me, then I need you also to trust in my judgment. My friends won't hurt you. These humans are okay. Casey, the one you just met, is one of my friends. And maybe the next time he comes by you could actually shake hands with him. I'm not asking you to trust him, Mona. I'm only hoping that you'll trust in my ability to protect you. I won't let anyone hurt you. I promise."

Mona let go of her knees and looked up at him. She looked him straight in the eyes, and nodded. Raphael grinned, stood, and offered her a hand. Mona Lisa took it and Raphael pulled her up roughly.

End Flashback


…Leo smiled. So far Raphael was taking his responsibility surprisingly well. As the eldest tuned back in on the conversation at hand he saw that Mona Lisa's curiosity appeared to have been peaked by the video games that Mikey was currently amusing himself with. She was looking over his shoulder as he played, trying to figure out what was going on.

Mikey yelled something at the television and Mona jumped back at the youngest turtle's sudden burst of volume.

"Mikey." Leo chided warningly from where he sat on the couch reading comics.

Michelangelo paused the game and glanced over at her. "Hehe…sorry Liz."

Mona's eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms over her chest. Raph stomped over to their side with much the same expression on his face. "Mikey, stop calling her that, it's obvious that she doesn't like it."

"Aw, come on, bro. Cut me some slack! It's just that her name is soooooo looong…" Mikey drawled.

Raph rolled his eyes, "Try Michelangelo on for size." He said pointedly.

Mikey just smiled and waved it off. "Relax Raph, it's just a nick-name, you know, for short."

"You can call her Mona for short."

"Aw but that's no fun!" The youngest pouted.

Raph put his hands on his hips and glared down at his orang-masked sibling as hard as he could. Mikey's eyes skillfully avoided the hothead's scalding glance for a grand total of thirty seconds before he finally caved. "Okay, okay. Fine, fine, Mona it is then."

Mona nodded, lifted a hand and whacked Mickey over the head.

Raph smirked, his eyes filled with mirth. "I couldn't have done it better myself."

Mona Lisa giggled and pulled Raph down beside her, yanking the controller roughly away from Mikey and gesturing from the controller in her hands to the television. Raph smiled. "You wanna learn how to play?" He asked.

Mona yanked on his arm and eagerly nodded. Raph grinned and took a seat beside her. "Okay, so let's start with the basics…"

Mikey was a little upset that Mona and Raph had stolen control of the video games, but the longer he watched his older, sour brother trying to teach Mona how to play, the giddier he became. Raph was such a big softie!

The youngest turtle shook his head and stood, sending a knowing smirk at Leo and Donnie. They smiled back. Sensei emerged from the dojo. All four other members of the turtle clan grinned as they watched Raphael teaching Mona how to play video games.

Mona giggled as Raphael tried to show her how it was done. He failed miserably and died within the first few seconds.

Mikey laughed. "Hahaha! Nice job Raph!"

Raph glared at the youngest and turned back to Mona. He took his time instructing her in the function of all the buttons and the goal of the game. The hothead didn't really feel like she fully understood everything he said, but she waved him off insisting she was ready.

Raph frowned, "Cool off, hothead!" he murmured as he reached out with one hand and tussled her long, brown hair. She growled and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring hotly at him. Raphael just laughed.

Mona smirked mischievously. And just when Raph let his guard down…she pounced. She laughed soundlessly, as she pinned him to the ground. Raph laughed as well as they wrestled, good-naturedly.

Though they didn't say anything, the other turtles could tell that Raphael was purposely allowing her to wrestle with him. The thick, muscular turtle was far too strong to be wrestling for any long period of time with Mona...unless of course he was pretending.

Master Splinter rolled his eyes. "Ah, kids."

Raphael's brothers just smiled.

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