The Silent Partner

Confidence and Confidants

The next day Mona Lisa woke up early and found Mikey in the kitchen cooking breakfast. As soon as the orange masked turtle saw her he broke out into a smile. "Hey Mona! You're up early this morning."

Mona shrugged and smiled. Her soft brown eyes glanced at the stove behind Mikey, where some eggs were sizzling away in the pan. Michelangelo followed her gaze, looked down at the omelet-to-be and exclaimed: "Oh no, my baby's burning!"

He threw a slew of pepperoni and breadcrumbs into the pan before taking a spatula and folding the omelet in half.

The lizard mutant watched with fascination as Mikey lifted the omelet out of the pan and lay it delicately on a plate.

Mikey whooped, threw his fist in the air and squealed, "Yeah, victory!"

Mona Lisa giggled and rolled her eyes at his antics.

"You wanna try it?" Mikey asked.

She deflated a little. Her hands moved slowly as she gestured to him.

Mikey quickly figured out what she was trying to say. He'd always been good at charades.

"Aw, come on girl, just because you've never done it before doesn't mean you can't do it. Come on, I'll teach you." Mikey pulled her over to the stove and put an arm around her shoulders. The youngest turtle poured some of his egg mixture into the pan from a medium-sized green mixing bowl. Then he wrapped his arms around her from behind so that he could guide her hands.

With the youngest turtle's guidance, the two of them made a rather haphazard omelet. Mona gave Mikey a crestfallen look. The orange masked turtle patted her shoulder. "It's not your fault Mona. Making perfect omelets takes a lot of practice."

Mona Lisa flashed a small, grateful smile in Mikey's direction and he chuckled.

"Anytime dudette."

The lizard mutant pointed emphatically back at the pan and Michelangelo smiled. "Why don't you try it this time? I'm gonna cut up some carrots."

Mona's dark brown eyes lit up at the mention of carrots, but she quickly turned her attention back to the task that had been given to her. She poured some mixture into the pan and did just as Mikey had showed her. However, as she tried to fold it over it started to fall apart. She reached out to try and fix it, but her hand touched the pan. Mona yanked her hand away rapidly. Tears surfaced in her eyes and her bottom lip pushed out.

Michelangelo shot forward and hugged her gently. "Oh my goodness, are you okay?" He reached out for her hand but Mona pulled it away. "C'mon, let me see. I know it hurts, but I'm trying to help you, girl!"

Mona Lisa sniffed the tears away and held out her hand to the orange masked turtle.

Mikey gripped her long, thin fingers softly as he examined the burn. "Ouch. That's a pretty bad burn. Does it hurt?" Tears welled up in Mona's eyes as she nodded. He frowned. "Okay, I know what to do. Hang on," Mikey set her hand down gently, focusing on the issue at hand.

Hahaha, at hand. Get it? Mikey shook those thoughts away. No, no Mikey, this is no time for bad jokes.

He told himself as he rummaged through the cupboards searching for a short, brightly-colored spray bottle. They youngest let out a strange cross between a crow and a cackle as his fingers fell upon the object in question.

But as soon as Michelangelo brought it up to Mona Lisa's hand, she yanked it away fearfully. Mikey frowned sternly and grabbed her hand, forcing her to hold still. "Mona! Mona, calm down! It's just burn spray! It'll make it feel better, I promise!"

Mona started shaking and she struggled, trying to pull away. Mikey worked fast and sprayed the burn before letting go of her hand. The lizard mutant stumbled backwards as all resistance suddenly disappeared. She closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable impact…that never came. Strong emerald green arms caught her and swept her back up onto her feet.

A deep, foreboding growl echoed through the kitchen. "What the shell is going on?" Neon-green eyes were on fire as Raphael frantically examined Mona's burn and checked for other injuries.

Mikey shuddered as a livid Raph finally turned to him. He held up his hands. "Raph it isn't what it looks like! She burned her hand and I was just trying to help!"

The hotheaded turtle stalked forward and lifted the orange masked turtle clear off the ground with one hand. "Really? It looked to me like you threw her backwards."

"No! No, I was just letting go of her hand, I didn't know that it would make her fall backwards! I didn't do it on purpose! Seriously Raph, chill out dude!"

A soft hand on Raphael's shoulder made him look over at Mona Lisa. "Is that true?"

Mona nodded vigorously and wrapped Raph in a tight hug.

The hotheaded turtle was so shocked by her action that he dropped Michelangelo and blushed. Mona Lisa pulled rapidly away and Raphael belatedly realized that her goal had been to see that he released Mikey. He sputtered. "Wh-Hey!" He growled and glared at her. "That was an underhanded trick."

Mona smirked and turned back to Mikey.

Mikey smiled. "You still wanna help?"

The lizard mutant nodded emphatically.

Raph let out a loud huff and sat at the kitchen counter where he wouldn't be in their way. But that didn't mean he wouldn't be keeping an eye on things. He watched for a few minutes as Michelangelo showed Mona how to make the perfect omelet.

The youngest turtle stepped back and asked. "So, you wanna try it?"

Mona looked a little bit less than enthused.

Mikey smiled. "I could help you if you want, like before."

The lizard mutant nodded happily and Mikey moved to stand directly behind her as he guided her hands.

Raphael fought the urge to growl. An uneasy feeling entered his chest as he realized just how closely they were pressed together.

Mikey guided her hands fluidly through the motions.

The hothead couldn't ignore how close they were to each other. How close their lips were. All it would take was a turn of Mona's head and…

Raph shook it off. Anger welled up inside of him. He couldn't watch. He couldn't be in here any more. A loud screech of a stool being dragged across the concrete made Mona Lisa jump and Mikey turn just in time to see Raphael storming out of the kitchen.

The lizard mutant gave the orange-masked turtle a questioning glance, but Mikey just smiled knowingly. "Don't worry. I'd say that Raph just got a little steamed, that's all."

Mona canted her head, curiously. Mikey's smile grew even wider.

"I don't think he likes it when other people stand that close to you."

'Why not?' Mona gestured.

Michelangelo smirked. "You'll have to find that out on your own." She pouted, but Mikey shook his head. "Nope. Like I said, you need to find out on your own."

Her frown made Mikey chuckle. A long silence spread between them until finally Mona gestured as best she could, 'What is a kiss?'

It took Mikey almost a minute to understand what she was asking, but when he did his eyes widened. "A kiss?"

Mona nodded confirmation.

Mikey rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Well, a kiss is something that you do when you really like someone. Like when you're attracted to them."

Mona Lisa looked confused.

The youngest turtle sibling sighed and tried to think of a way to explain attraction. "Um, it's like when you see somebody, and just looking at them makes your heart feel all warm and fuzzy. Or you blush when you hear their name, or when you can't stop thinking about them. When you want to spend a lot more time with that person because you find yourself wanting to be with them. Have you ever felt that way about someone?"

A blush tinged Mona's cheeks as she looked away. After a long moment of inaction, she nodded.

Mikey's eyes practically bugged out of his head. "Seriously?! You like somebody?! Who?"

Mona's cheeks were bright crimson as she shyly refused to meet Mikey's gaze.

The youngest laughed jovially, "No, don't tell me! It's Raph, isn't it?"

The lizard mutant stared at the orange masked turtle in shock.

He smirked. "Ha! I knew it! Man, this is gonna be so perfect! I can't wait to set up your first date!"

Mona was confused and she tapped Mikey on the shoulder with an inquisitive expression.

Mikey realized that he was going way too fast for her. "Oh, a date? It's a thing where two people who are attracted to each other go out and do something fun or romantic."

Mona shook her head from side to side.

Mikey put a hand on her shoulder. "Okay, so maybe you're not ready for a date yet. Well, how do you want to go about it?"

Mona pointed to herself. 'I want to get-' she brought her hands closer together.

The orange masked turtle smiled. "You want to get closer to him first?"

The lizard nodded.

The youngest turtle wrapped an arm around her shoulders and whispered in her ear. "Okay, you wanna get Raph's attention? Here's what you need to do…"

As the turtle clan began to gather for breakfast in the front room, Mona Lisa and Michelangelo dished out the pizza omelets. But there was just one little problem. Raph wasn't there. Mona frowned at the hotheaded turtle's empty seat. She walked carefully to Master Splinter's side and gave him a questioning stare.

The old rat smiled. "Raphael is in the dojo, Mona Lisa. He said that he wanted to get an early start this morning."

Mona frowned and put her hands on her hips. With a dramatic sigh she straightened and exited the kitchen, making her way to the dojo. She could hear someone moving inside and she opened the door slowly.

Raphael was in the middle of a kata. A kata he was currently struggling with due to lack of focus. Truth be told, even though his body was practicing, Raph's mind was still swirling around Mikey and Mona's behavior in the kitchen this morning. He had rather…mixed feelings regarding the way those two had been acting.

On the one hand he was her guardian and he had to be concerned for her wellbeing at all times. And on the other…his duties as a guardian weren't the only feelings he had towards her. For instance, Raph definitely didn't like the way Mikey was kissing up to her. He didn't like how close they'd been standing while Mikey taught her how to make omelets. He didn't like how Mikey could always make her laugh or smile.

But…he liked the way her face lit up when she laughed. He even liked the way she stuck her tongue out at him. It was cute, in a naively attractive sort of way.

Raph shook his head. No! What the shell am I thinking?! She's just another girl, fer cryin' out loud!

But she isn't…she's…

"Mona!" Raph's thoughts were cut short as he saw Mona standing in the doorway. That distraction seemed to be all it took. His foot slipped and the next thing he knew he was sprawled out on his carapace with his sais embedded in the dojo floor.

Mona Lisa's eyes widened as she watched the turtle hit the ground with a loud thud. She rushed over to him and offered her hand to help him up.

Raph pushed her hand away and stood on his own. "Sorry about that. Guess I was a little distracted."

Mona smirked and put her hands on her hips. She raised an eye-ridge and gestured mockingly: 'a little?'

Raphael rolled his eyes and turned to yank his sais out of the floor. The lizard mutant jumped back a couple of feet to give him a wide berth. She had managed to come to terms with the fact that the turtles carried weapons, but as soon as any of them removed their weapons from their belts, Mona always allowed herself plenty of space.

Despite all of their progress, they still hadn't managed to get her into the lab for a full examination. Raph suspected that the lab brought back too many painful memories and it was hard for her to face that type of environment. Still, she'd learned a lot since she got here. Donatello had decided to give her daily lessons in sign language, which they were going to start today. And she still liked watching Space Heroes with Leonardo. And Mikey…Mona had been spending a lot of time with Mikey lately. A lot of time.

Raphael sighed. "What do ya want?" He tried to keep the hard edge out of his voice, he really did, but he was annoyed.

Mona made an eating gesture and pointed in the direction of the kitchen.

Again the hothead sighed. His gaze fell to the dojo floor. "I'm not hungry."

The lizard mutant's bottom lip pushed outward into a frown and she looked shocked. She stepped closer, placed a hand in the center of his chest, and stared deeply up into his eyes.

Raph's smile was less than convincing. "Yeah, I'm fine."

Mona pouted. She knew Raphael wasn't telling the truth. She grew annoyed and so she whacked his plastron.

Raphael was very surprised. He looked down into those determined brown eyes of hers and softened a little. But just a little. "I really am fine, Mona. I just got a lot on my mind."

Mona made a gesture that looked like she was pretending to be a cow and then she brought her hand to her nose in a disgusted expression. When she finished she crossed her arms over her chest to get her point across to Raphael.

His eyes widened briefly in shock, then quickly narrowed. "Who taught you that word?! That's bad language!"

Mona's eyes narrowed. She pointed at Raphael and moved her mouth like she was talking, her hand gesticulating the words coming out.

Raph put his hands on his hips. "I know I talk like that a lot! That doesn't mean you should!" He retorted angrily.

'Why not?' Mona gestured.

Raphael rolled his eyes and let out a sigh of frustration. "Well because—because…"

Mona crossed her arms over her chest and smirked. She pointed to herself and then pretended she had a crown on her head.

The red masked turtle was not pleased. "Oh you haven't won, sweetheart, this is only the beginning." He ground out. Raph didn't exactly know why, but he was feeling a little better and a little more clear-headed. Also a little more hungry. Slowly, his signature smirk began spread across his face. "I'll beat you to the breakfast table!" The hothead challenged as he raced by her on his way out the door.

The lizard mutant remained standing there just a few moments longer, her cheeks growing redder by the second.

Sweetheart? That was a good thing, wasn't it?

And then, never one to refute a challenge, raced after the hotheaded turtle.

To her astonishment, Raphael had waited for her right outside the dojo.

What about what Mikey was talking about earlier? Should she do it now? Michelangelo had told her to try… and she wasn't sure it was right moment, but…

Mona Lisa grabbed Raph's arm and held him back before he could run off. The turtle's face reddened further with every step she took towards him. Until finally, Mona wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his cheek.

Every muscle in Raph's body went stock-still. Did she just…?

Raphael stood there, paralyzed, as he watched her run off into the kitchen, the afore mentioned challenge completely forgotten. His fingers ran softly over his cheek where she'd kissed him as he stared wistfully and blankly in the direction she'd gone. That is…until he snapped out of it.

What the Shell was that?!

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