The Silent Partner

Not the Face!

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Allow the fabulous, world-famous chef Michelangelo to present…the long-awaited Carrot Pizza!" Mikey placed it down proudly on the dish in front of their lizard mutant guest. The other turtles smiled…or, at least, most of them did.

Raphael gagged. "Disgusting."

Mona rolled her eyes and punched him in the shoulder. Don and Mikey laughed while Leonardo just smiled.

"Hey!" The hothead protested.

The lizard mutant laughed and stuck her tongue out at him.

Raphael's eyes narrowed. But then a slow smirk crossed his face. He reached behind her and ruffled her hair with one hand. The hothead broke into a laugh at her expression.

Mona glared at him, before breaking out into a smirk of her own. She pulled a large pinch of shredded carrot off the pizza and slapped it into the hotheaded turtle's open and laughing mouth.

Raph's smile vanished quicker than sugar in water. His snout wrinkled in disgust as he spat out the offending pieces of root vegetable. "ICH! That is positively vile!"

The other turtles burst out with laughter.

"Hahahahahahahaha! Time to wake up and taste the carrots Raph!" Mikey cackled. "Nobody messes with Mona's hair, bro!"

Don snorted. "I think it's pretty obvious that Raphael doesn't carrot all for the taste."

Leo rolled his eyes at Don's horrible pun. A bright smile graced his lips. Raph had changed a lot since Mona Lisa had recovered. Over the past couple of days the turtles had seen a lot more of the softer, more protective side of their often brash and hotheaded brother. Make no mistake, he was still Raphael the smirking, smack-talking, thrill-seeking turtle he had always been, but Mona seemed to have brought out a little bit more of Raph's elusive, tender side. Much in the same way that Michelangelo did.

Goodness knows the youngest turtle had always been able to tap into Raphael's soft side. In fact, in many of the instances where Raph said something mean or hurtful, it was Mikey who pointed it out. Mikey was the one who constantly reminded Raph that people do have feelings, and that you can't always be brash about everything.

But back to the topic at hand. Mona Lisa seemed to bring out that side of Raph in an altogether different way. In playful moments like this, for example. If Mikey or Leo had shoved a piece of carrot into Raph's mouth he would have beaten them to a near pulp. But with Mona the hothead just grumbled and pouted and crossed his arms over his chest as he glared at her.

Leo smiled. If there was one thing he could say for Mona Lisa, it was that she definitely had guts. It took real courage to face up to Raphael, even when he was in a relatively good mood. The hotheaded turtle was renowned for being the first to throw something potentially dangerous at any one of them in a fit of rage. Not to mention the sheer intensity of that scalding glare of his.

Leo laughed as Raphael sat with his arms crossed over his chest, picturing steam coming out of his ears. He'd been trumped.

Mona giggled at the red-masked turtle's put-out expression. She leaned her head on his shoulder, but he shrugged her off and grumbled, "I hate carrots."

She put down the pizza and her hands began to gesticulate wildly. The other turtles exchanged confused glances.

Raphael watched her movements carefully. When she finished, his eye-ridges furrowed and he scowled.

Mona smirked and turned back to her pizza, which she was thoroughly enjoying.

Mikey raised an eye-ridge, "What the shell was that all about?"

Raph rolled his eyes. "She was telling me something."

Mikey's baby-blue eyes gleamed with interest, "You can talk to her?"

"Anyone can talk to her, Mikey, she can understand every word we say." Raph stated.

Mona Lisa, a little bit offended that she was being talked about as though she wasn't there, crossed her arms over her chest with a pizza crust still clenched in her right hand. Mikey giggled at the comical image she presented.

Donatello shook his head and elaborated. "I think what surprised Mikey is the fact that you seem to understand her."

Raph shrugged. "There isn't much to understand, it's not rocket-science. It's like playing charades."

Leo raised an eye-ridge in curiosity. "So what did she say?"

"When?" Raph asked.

The eldest sighed, "Just now!"

"Well, I said I didn't like carrots and she basically said: that was the point." He said, obviously still a little annoyed by the whole thing.

Mona Lisa smirked and the turtles just laughed. Even Raph was smiling. But Leo's smile sobered very quickly as he caught a flash of pain in the red-masked turtle's eyes. Raph reached up to the wound on his cheek. Guilt gnawed at the blue masked turtle and he stood.

All eyes turned to Leo as he stood rather abruptly. The blue-masked turtle moved over to Raph's side and gently tugged on an emerald green elbow. He spoke in hushed tones. "Raph…can I talk to you for a minute?"

Raph shrugged. "Talk away."

Leo glanced at the others and shifted uncomfortably. "Alone."

Raphael looked a little bit confused, but he nodded and led his older brother out of the kitchen and into the dojo. For a few moments they both just stood there in awkward silence, until Raph cleared his throat. "Well, you wanna talk? Talk."

"Raph, I wanted to…well the truth is…I wanted to…to apolo—"

"Don't bother." Raph cut the elder turtle off.

Leo's brow wrinkled in confusion. "But I—I didn't mean to…"

"Exactly. It was an accident, you didn't mean to. So there's nothing to apologize for."

"But I should have reacted sooner…"

Raph rolled his eyes. "C'mon Leo, we both know you couldn't have stopped yourself at that point. If it was anyone's fault then it was mine! I'm the one who got distracted. You couldn't have seen what was coming."

"But I should have been—"

"Can it, Leo! I'm not gonna listen to any more of this crap!" The hothead yelled aggressively.

Leo took a couple of steps back at the sudden show of temper.

The hothead took deep, heavy breath. "I wasn't angry…"

"Of course not." Leo replied almost immediately. Of course, Leonardo was well aware that Raphael was angry, the hothead just didn't mean to be angry.

"I really need to get out of here and bash some heads. I'm going stir-crazy in here." Raph muttered.

Leo frowned. He was sure that he was going to regret suggesting this, but Raph really needed to release this pent-up frustration before it involuntarily hurt someone. "Why don't you call Casey? I'm sure he'd be more than happy to bust some heads with you."

Raph sighed. "Yeah…I just don't want to scare Mona again."

Leo's face was solemn. "I can understand that, but if she's never exposed to the humans she'll never learn. The only way she'll accept that Casey, and April for that matter, can be trusted is if she sees it for herself. I suggest you invite him down here to hang out."

"Yeah, but she gets so scared—" Raph began, but Leonardo cut him off.

"Raph, she ought to know by now that she's safe here. We'll protect her. It wouldn't hurt to ask. If she doesn't feel comfortable having Casey in the lair, then the two of you can go out and bust some heads. But we really need to push her out of her comfort zone just a little if we ever want her to get used to our human friends."

Raph let out a long, low hum. "I hate to admit it, but you're probably right. I'll go ask her."

Leo nodded solemnly and watched his younger brother go. He shook his head and sighed.

Honestly, if Raphael keeps babying Mona he's gonna be surprised when one day he gets a smack in the face. Despite the way he treats her, she's hardly a child. And if the way she looks at him is any indication, I'd say she sees him as slightly more than just a friend.

Raph waited until after lunch had been eaten before confronting Mona Lisa. "Mona, I…"

Her big, chocolaty brown eyes turned up to the hothead and the words died in his mouth. The soft, gentle, upward sweep of her lips in that tiny beatific smile made Raph's heart grind to a complete stop. He could feel his cheeks growing as red as his mask and he struggled to shake it off.

"Mona, I've asked Casey to come hang out for a little while."

The smile vanished and Mona's muscles tensed.

"I promise he won't hurt you. He won't even come near you if you don't want him to. I just want to prove to you that not all humans are bad. Please say you're with me on this."

Mona backed away a little, uncertainty flashing in her eyes.

Raph deflated a little and murmured. "I'm not going to force you into anything. If you don't feel comfortable just shake your head and that'll be the end of it."

Mona Lisa bit her tongue as she thought it over. It wasn't that she didn't trust Raphael and his brothers, but a human? She wasn't sure that she was entirely ready. After a careful moment of thought she was about to shake her head, but then she caught Raphael's eyes.

The female lizard mutant had only been with the turtles a short number of days, but she had already learned a lot about their individual quirks and features. One of the things she found most interesting about them was that each turtle had very distinctive facial features.

Michelangelo's face had the roundness of youth, with big cheeks, dimples, freckles, and bright baby-blue eyes, obviously the youngest of the four.

Donatello's features were also rounded, but his cheeks were a little more sunken in. The smart-turtle's gap toothed smile and dark, maroon-brown eyes set him apart from the rest of his brothers.

Now Leonardo differed quite a bit from the others. His features were well-defined and the big, dark-blue eyes behind his bright blue mask were incredibly attractive and very understanding.

But that didn't change the fact that Mona liked Raph's face the best. The deep, red, tattered mask framed his neon green eyes beautifully. Raph's facial features were by far the sharpest and most sculpted of his brothers and those eyes…they were a shade Mona had never seen before and probably would never see their equal. So full of emotion, so compassionate, so kind, so…beautiful.

Mona couldn't bring herself to say no. Not when Raphael was looking at her like that.

Later that evening, Casey Jones arrived. But instead of his usual, boisterous manner, the teenager exhibited a quieter, more considerate side. Raph walked right up to his friend and clapped a hand on Casey's shoulder. "Hey Case! What's up, man?" The emerald green turtle raised an eye-ridge as he realized that the human teenager had a bag in his hands. "What's that?"

"April said it's some stuff for Mona. Shampoo, hair ties, headbands…I gave April a general description of her and April picked out some things she thought Mona might need."

Raph nodded. Indeed, those were things that Raph hadn't thought of. He grinned. "I'm sure Mona will be happy to get them. Isn't that right, Mona?"

Mona Lisa peered out from where she was currently hiding behind Leonardo. The lizard mutant approached slowly. When she reached Raphael, Mona clung to the back of his carapace looking at Casey from around the hothead's shoulder.

"Hi." Casey said, waving.

Mona shrunk back behind Raph's shoulder. The hothead glanced at her with concern, but made no move to comfort her.

In view of the fact that Mona would need a long time to even come to terms with being in the same room with a human, the turtles decided a distraction was in order.

Mikey went into the kitchen and made some popcorn while the other three turtles, their lizard guest, and Casey Jones spread out on the sofa. During the movie Raph Mona and Donnie sat on one couch, while Leo, Mikey and Casey sat on the other. That way Mona could keep an eye on him.

Casey Jones could feel the lizard mutant's eyes on him every once in a while, but every time he tried to make eye contact she looked away.

During the action parts of the movie the two hotheads occasionally threw in comments. It was during one such moment that they both exclaimed simultaneously, "Aw, seriously, that was so cheesy!"

Mona glanced from Raph to Casey with interest. The two hotheads smirked at each other and said at the same time, "Jinx."

It was then that Mona noticed the similarities between their behaviors and even their smirks. She raised an eyebrow in curiosity before her attention was once again commandeered by the events of the film.

The End. The film concluded.

As the credits rolled along the screen, an awkward silence spread between the four turtles and Casey until finally, the human broke it. "So…what now?"

Raph glanced at his brothers. He hadn't really made any other plans. He shrugged. Then he smirked. "I'll challenge you to a round of video games."

Jones's lips curved upward into smirk. "Oh, you're on!" He yelled excitedly.

Raph and Casey rushed over, slid onto the floor and grabbed the controllers. Mona jumped behind Leonardo as Raph moved away, but after a few moments she stepped out from her hiding spot. Big, brown eyes watched curiously as Casey played with Raph. The two of them occasionally nudged each other, pushing and shoving as they each tried to attain the victory.

"Oh no you don't!" Raph exclaimed as Casey's character took the lead.

"Hahaha! Taste the defeat, Raph!" Casey exclaimed as he won, standing and doing a victory dance. Mona took several tentative steps in their direction.

Casey was so busy rubbing his victory in Raph's face that he failed to notice the lizard's approach. Instead, he pulled Raph into a headlock and rubbed the bald emerald green head affectionately.

Raph growled and pulled away. "Try that again, hotshot, and I'll beat you with your own hockey stick."

Mona had been with the turtles long enough to tell Raph's playful threats from his serious ones, and this one was indeed on the playful side. She grinned.

Casey flicked the side of Raph's head. The hotheaded turtle growled and lunged. For a few moments the two of them wrestled light-heartedly, laughing and growling as they tumbled about on the floor.

Leonardo watched Mona Lisa out of the corner of his eye and he couldn't help but grin at what he saw. She still appeared apprehensive, but at least she wasn't hiding anymore. Not only that, but there was a small smile gracing her lips. She looked as though she were trying to keep herself from giggling at Raphael's current behavior.

Yes, Leo thought to himself, I think she's warming up to Casey.

Finally, after a long bout of laughter and a lot of rolling about on the floor, the two hotheads stood. The human pushed himself to his feet and stopped dead in his tracks as he found a trembling, light-green hand held out a mere foot away from him.

The entire room froze. The turtles held their breath.

Casey failed to respond and Mona's eyes flicked to Raphael, uncertainly. Raph nodded his approval and motioned her to go ahead. "She wants to compare features with you, Case." He told his friend.

Casey shifted uncomfortably. "Okay. So what do I do?"

"Nothing. Don't make any sudden moves. She still doesn't feel entirely comfortable around humans." Raph stated evenly.

The human teenager looked back over his shoulder at the red-masked turtle, "How can you tell?" He quipped teasingly.

Raph just was pleased that Mona finally seemed to have wracked up the courage to approach Casey. Pleased and…impressed. It wasn't easy to face your fears. Something like that takes a lot of courage. Raph admired her courage almost as much as he did her stubbornness.

Wait…What? Raph thought with wide eyes. He shook his head and pushed those thoughts aside for later.

Mona seemed fascinated as she examined Casey's hand. Raphael couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, Casey's a human. He's got five fingers."

Mona jumped a little at the sudden sound of Raph's laughter as it broke the silence. The room brightened a bit and the other turtles relaxed. Mona resumed her examination of Casey Jones, turning her attention to his long, black hair. She lifted his bangs curiously and raised an eyebrow.

Casey slowly reached out and stilled her hand. "Yeah, I have hair too. Just like you."

Mona yanked her hand back and began to stroke her own hair self-consciously.

Casey smiled. "Don't worry, your hair looks fine."

Mona's cheeks reddened a little and she took a step closer to the human so that she could look more directly into his eyes.

Raph didn't know why, but Mona's reaction to Casey's compliment, followed by her decision to move closer, perturbed him. To be quite honest, he was annoyed.

Leo flashed Raphael a rather concerned look as hothead growled under his breath. Luckily for them, Mona didn't hear Raph's growl and continued.

Once Mona had satisfied her curiosity regarding the human, she took a few steps backward. Unfortunately for her, Michelangelo had left some of his marbles lying around on the floor. Mona stepped directly on them and she suddenly found herself toppling backwards. Casey's arms reflexively reached out and caught her, pulling her back onto her feet in one swift movement. He was held her close as he looked down into her eyes. "Whoa there, you okay?"

Mona nodded shakily, put her hand on his, and stared deep into his eyes as she nodded.

Raphael had rushed forward to catch the falling lizard mutant, but the human had beaten him to it. And now Casey was holding her even closer than before! Urgh!

Casey Jones looked confused by Mona's gesture, but it was one that Raph knew well. As he pushed between them, he grumbled: "That's her way of saying: thank you."

"Oh." Casey's cheeks flushed. "You're welcome."

Mona smiled and turned to Raph, whom she immediately began gesturing wildly at.

Raph chuckled at her excitement but his hands reached out and stilled hers. "Mona, Mona! Whoa! Hey, I'm glad you're excited, but if you want me to understand you need to go slower."

Mona calmed down a little and nodded. It was obvious that she was struggling to express whatever she was trying to say in a calm and concise manner. First she pointed to herself then she smiled, then she pointed at Raph, then she moved her hands around so quickly that the others exchanged confused glances. Then she brought her hands together with a clap.

Raph smiled. He turned to the others. "She says that she's happy I arranged this get-together."

Casey Jones smiled and put a gentle hand on Mona's shoulder. She flinched. A sad frown spread over Casey's features. "I know it's gonna take you a long time to get used to humans, but I hope I've managed to prove that not all humans are bad."

Mona looked up at him with uncertainty before nodding and giving him a thumbs-up, a gesture she had learned courtesy of Mikey.

Casey smiled. Then he saw the clock. "Look guys, it's been fun and all, but it's getting late."

Raph smiled. "Yeah, sure Casey. See ya round, dude."

"Same to you, buddy." The human turned and smiled at Mona Lisa, "Same to you, dudette." He winked at her and she blushed.

Raph's eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. He wasn't angry…he was just…aw, screw it! Yes, he was angry! He was annoyed that his best friend had the ability to make Mona blush.

Raph shook it off.

Now is not the time for this! He thought to himself.

The other turtles smiled and waved goodbye to Casey Jones. Leo stretched and yawned. "Okay, I'm going to bed."

Mikey nodded his agreement. "Me too, bros. See ya in the morning."

Don waved goodnight to Mikey and turned to the others. "I'll be in the lab."

After the other three turtles had all gone their separate ways, Raph turned back to Mona Lisa.

"C'mon Mona, let's get to bed." Raph stated as he turned to head out of the room. Suddenly he felt thin hands wrap around his arm and start to pull backwards. The hothead turned to face her slowly.

Mona shook her head emphatically from side to side.

Raphael sighed. "Mona, it's late, you're still healing…" His voice faded as he saw her face. Mona's bottom lip was pushed out and her eyes were wide as she stared up at him. His eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest. "Alright, when did Mikey teach you the puppy-dog face?!" Raph did his best to fight it, he really did. He pushed her aside lightly, "Nope, that face doesn't work on me!"

Mona somehow maneuvered her way in front of him again, all the while holding the facial expression. Raph's shoulders drooped. He sighed, resignedly. "Fine, you win."

Mona jumped up in victory and began pulling Raphael back over to the sofa.

He looked down at her inquisitively, "So what do you want to do?"

Mona pointed to the couch and then to the TV.

Raphael rolled his eyes. "Alright, but just an hour, and then we're going to bed."

The lizard grinned ear to ear and nodded. They sat side by side on the couch. Mona pulled her legs up beside her and lay her head against Raph's plastron.

It didn't take long for both of them begin dropping off. However, just as her eyelids were about to close, the remote, fell out of Raph's hand and onto the floor as the hotheaded turtle's grip went lax. It startled the lizard mutant, and she straightened in wakefulness. The remote landed on the floor with a soft thud, changing the channel.

Mona Lisa was about to turn it off, but instead she found herself watching with intrigue as the two humans on the screen seemed to be separately preparing for something. What, she wasn't entirely sure, but…in the next scene the two humans met on a rooftop looking out into the night, sitting side by side.

Suddenly the male's hand moved closer and closer until it was on top of the female's. She blushed and leaned against him. The male smiled and put his arm around her shoulders. Then they both turned slightly and pressed their lips together.

Mona Lisa canted her head in confusion.

"Our first kiss." One of the characters said with a sigh.

A kiss? Is that what it was called?

She was about to wake Raphael and ask him, when suddenly she began to wonder: What would it be like to…kiss…someone?

Mona shook her head and turned the television off. Then she shook Raphael violently.

"Wh-Wha…? Hey!" He exclaimed, his cheeks turning red.

Mona smiled and pointed at the clock.

"Oh." Raph said as he realized why he'd been so rudely woken. "You know, if you ever do that again, I'll ruffle your hair."

Mona crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. Her glare said it all: You wouldn't dare.

Raph smirked and let her pass, but on their way down the hall he reached out and rubbed her head hard, completely disheveling her long, brown locks. Mona whirled around and gave the red-masked turtle a hot, hard, backhand slap.

"Ouch!" Raph yelled, his hand rubbing his offended cheek.

At least it isn't the left one… His brain pointed out. Yeah, getting slapped where he'd already been injured, that would have been bad. Mona probably did his right cheek on purpose.

Mona Lisa rolled her eyes. She pointed at Raphael and then swung her arms as though she were cradling a baby.

Ralph's cheeks reddened and his neon green eyes narrowed. "I am not a baby!"

She stuck out her tongue at him before turning to leave.

Raphael just rolled his eyes and waved her off.

As Mona proceeded to her room a thought crossed her mind…

What would it be like to kiss someone?

Mona turned and watched as Raphael disappeared into his room and closed the door behind him.

What would it be like to kiss Raphael? Mona could feel her cheeks growing warmer at the thought. Then she thought about the way Raph's cheeks turned red every time she held his hand. Kissing Raphael might prove to be most interesting indeed. Mona smirked as she entered her room, closing the door tightly behind her.

The only problem was she knew absolutely nothing of how to go about it.

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