The Silent Partner

Stitches

The following morning Mona was awakened by loud knocking on the door of her room. She pushed out of bed slowly, her long hair ruffled and unkempt. Slowly and tiredly she stumbled over to the door and poked her head out.

Whoever was outside pushed in with little ado.

"Rise and shine, sleeping beauty!" Raph said, his voice almost too bright and sunshiney for Mona's taste.

She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. She raised a tired eyebrow at him, her eyes still half-lidded, and yawned.

Raphael turned to her and chuckled. "That's quite a mop of hair you've got there."

The only reply the turtle received was a hard shove and a very hot glare. Raph hadn't been expecting the shove, and hadn't braced himself. As such, Mona was easily able to topple the turtle and Raphael landed very unceremoniously on his rear end.

Raph's bottom lip pushed out into a light pout. "Someone's not a morning person." He grumbled. The hotheaded turtle pushed himself up off the floor slowly.

Mona tapped her foot impatiently and he sent her an inquisitive stare. In order to get her point across she began to try pushing him out of the room. Unfortunately since he was considerably heavier than she was, it was quite near impossible.

Raphael, confused, glanced over his shoulder at her. "Hey, what's the big idea?"

She yawned and, after a few more attempts at pushing the turtle out, finally gave up. The mutant lizard didn't answer his question. At least, not directly.

Once she stopped trying to force him out the door, the turtle's eyes gave her a good once-over. She really did look dead tired.

He couldn't help but smile as she yawned yet again and sent him a sleepy glare. Raph rolled his eyes and grabbed her gently by the wrist. "Come on, sleepyhead."

Mona pulled her hand away and headed back over towards her bed.

Raph sighed with resignation. "You can sleep if you want, but your breakfast will get cold."

Mona Lisa didn't care. She dropped back onto the bed and rolled over so that she could glare at the red-masked turtle.

Raph huffed and held up his hands in surrender. "Alright, alright. Just don't be surprised when you find yourself eating breakfast alone. I'll be in the dojo if you need anything." He laughed as she turned over and snuggled into her pillow. Shaking his head, he turned out the light as he left, closing the door softly behind him.


About an hour later, Mona emerged from her room. Muffled sounds of movement and voices came from the dojo. Her insatiable curiosity peaked, Mona pushed her hunger aside and opened the dojo doors just a crack so that she could peek inside.

She opened it even wider when she saw what was going on. The turtles appeared to be fighting each other. Her brow creased slightly with worry, but it didn't take her long to see that they weren't really trying to hurt each other.

It was a free-for-all, really. A last-turtle-standing type of exercise. After a couple days' break from training, for their visitor's sake more than their own, all of the turtles had been itching to get back into the zone. Leonardo and Raphael, in particular were eager for action.

Leo snapped back into the early morning training routine with ease, and Raphael…

Raph was just having an overall good day. He was a little bit disappointed that Mona hadn't wanted to get up earlier, but he couldn't blame her. And, as Don was getting fond of telling them, technically Mona was still recovering, so she needed all the rest she could get.

Mona watched as Leonardo and Raphael made quick work of Michelangelo and Donatello and the two younger siblings went to sit off to the side.

Leo and Raph were both in top form. Raph's focus had allowed him to bowl Mikey over without even having to use his weapons. Suddenly the hothead heard a thud and a grunt. He glanced over just in time to see Leo eliminate Donatello from the game. His emerald green lips pulled upward into the hothead's signature smirk.

Leo mirrored the expression and drew his katana with a flourish as they began to circle each other. Raphael's hands reached back to his belt and drew his sais. He spun them lightly and dropped into a ready stance.

Mona's eyes widened and her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach. The blades in the turtles' hands flashed and she began to tremble. As the blades met with a mighty clang she shook her head frantically from side to side. Memories flashed through her head. Memories of sharp objects, bright lights, pain, voices…Mona Lisa screwed her eyes shut. Tears ran down her cheeks. A soft snivel slipped past her lips before she silenced her sobs.

Raphael and Leonardo really went at each other. They were both in very good form, and the match was a very close one. Their weapons met repeatedly with clangs and scrapes. Raph's senses were on high alert. Leo wasn't winning this match. Not in a million years. The hothead smirked.

But the smirk was sponged right off his face as he heard something else. A quiet snivel. Mona? Raphael turned towards the dojo door, distracted.

Leonardo was mid-swing, and Raphael was about to block, when suddenly the hothead got distracted and looked away. Leo's cerulean blue eyes widened, but it was too late to stop the swing of his blades.

"AUGHHH! Shell!" Raph dropped to his knees, his right hand clutching the left side of his face, blood rapidly coating his fingers. The hothead pulled his bloody hand away, glancing from it to Leo's blood-stained katana in astonishment. Less than a split second later his brothers, including Leonardo, rushed forward.

Leo let his weapons fall to the ground with a mighty thud before he went to kneel at his immediate younger brother's side.

Mikey was the first to speak, "Raph, are you okay?!"

Raphael shoved past them.

Mona Lisa stood in the doorway, absolutely horrified. Raphael rushed over to her, one sai still clutched in his left hand. Mona recoiled violently and more tears wet her cheeks as she stared at the sharp blade in Raphael's grasp.

Raph followed Mona's gaze to the sai in his hand and he frowned, casting the weapon off to the side without a second thought.

Slowly, Mona's trembling, wet eyes moved upward after he tossed the blade away. When she saw the blood running down the side of his face, her eyes went wide with horror. A shaking hand reached up and touched the area around the wound. Mona's eyes watered as she saw the blood on her fingers. She stared up at Raphael slowly before throwing herself into his arms. She clung to him desperately as though she feared he would disappear.

Raph was in shock for a moment before he wrapped his left arm around her and softly rubbed circles into her back. "It's okay, Mona, it's okay. It was just a little accident, don't worry. I'll be fine. It's just a little scratch. I'll be fine."

Mona Lisa was still shaking violently and Raph wanted nothing more than for her to just be okay again. Something about the way she'd reacted to his sai suggested that it wasn't necessarily the injury, but rather the circumstances that had upset her. The hotheaded turtle frowned. He was worried.

Don appeared behind Mona Lisa and Raph looked up at his smart brother's grunt. "I'll get my supplies. Be right back."

Raph nodded and returned his focus to Mona. He murmured words of comfort into her ear, and she finally began to calm down.

Until Donatello returned.

At first, as Donnie cleaned the wound, Mona was fine. Don frowned and let out a low hum. The cut was deep. It was going to need stitches. The brainiac put his back to them to thread the needle where the light was better. When he turned back to Raph with the needle, however, Mona Lisa went completely stiff.

The lizard mutant put herself protectively between the brainiac and the hothead even though she was shaking like a leaf. Donnie raised an eye-ridge, and then straightened in realization as everything became clear. He moved the needle towards her experimentally and she jumped back, tears springing up in the corners of her eyes.

As Raph saw the way Mona pulled away, his eyes narrowed at his immediate younger brother. The muscular turtle gripped Mona's shoulders reassuringly. "What's the big idea, Don?!" He yelled, his protective instincts on high alert. Mona flinched at Raph's volume and he lowered his voice, "You scared her. What the shell was that?"

Donatello frowned. "Aichmophobia."

Raphael raised an eye-ridge. "Fear of…what?"

The purple-masked turtle's expression was grave. "Fear of sharp objects, particularly needles, probably brought about by her traumatic experience. My guess is our sparring match triggered bad memories."

Raphael frowned, his grip on Mona's shoulder tightening protectively.

'Doctor' Donatello frowned and made direct eye contact with the green-eyed turtle. "Despite Mona's fears, Raph, you really do need a couple of stitches."

Raph nodded in understanding and tilted Mona's head up to look her in the eyes. "Mona, I think you should go wait in the other room."

Mona's eyes widened and she stared from Raph to Don. She shook her head vehemently from side to side.

Raph's neon-green gaze softened. "Mona, please. Donnie needs to do this so that it'll heal up right. Please, go to the other room."

Once again, the lizard mutant refused.

The hothead smiled at the appearance of her stubborn streak. He stared down at her in earnest. "Mona…" His voice dropped to a whisper, "I don't want it to upset you."

Mona Lisa stared straight back into his eyes with utter determination. Raphael couldn't help but grin. She wasn't backing down from this one. No way.

The lizard mutant took his left hand and held it tightly. Raph's grin broke out into a smile. He whispered softly into her ear: "You probably won't want to watch this next part."

Raph motioned Don to go ahead. This time when the brainiac approached with the needle Mona flinched but made no move to stop him. The lizard pressed herself against Raphael's plastron with her eyes tightly closed.

The hothead grit his teeth as his smart brother began to stitch the cut.

"Please try and keep still." Don murmured softly.

Raph grunted in pain, but did his darnedest to keep from fidgeting. The hothead bit his lip to stifle his pained noises as best he could. No need to worry Mona unduly.


As soon as the red-masked turtle was all patched up, Raph set himself to washing the blood off of his and Mona's hands. So he took bowl of water and a washcloth and sat Mona down at the kitchen table.

A long silence stretched between the two mutants. Mona watched the bowl of clear water turn pink as Raph scrubbed the blood off of their hands.

Finally Raphael had had enough and he slowly broke the silence. "Leo and I must have really scared you." Mona Lisa refused to meet the red-masked turtle's gaze, and that worried Raphael. "I'm sorry." He murmured, hoping for some kind of response.

Mona's soft, brown eyes flicked upward to meet his.

Raph reached out and put a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I hope you don't think any less of me."

The lizard mutant's eyebrows furrowed and she canted her head in confusion at the turtle's words.

He tore his gaze away from hers and muttered. "The last thing I want is for you to be afraid of me."

Mona's gaze softened as she tilted his face up with one hand so that he could see her smile. She punched him good-naturedly in the shoulder and he laughed.

After the first couple guffaws, the turtle brought his hand up to the side of his face. "Ow. Laughing is not a good idea right now."

Mona Lisa smiled, her mouth open as she laughed silently. The lizard mutant wrapped her arms around his shoulders in a half-hug, unconsciously pulling him down towards her. Their cheeks rubbed together and Raph could feel the heat rising as his face turned pink. His neon green eyes sent her a sideways glance as he smiled.

She really was unlike anyone he'd ever met before.

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