The Silent Partner

Interesting Developments

A rather uneventful week passed. Donatello decided it was about time to perform a full medical examination on Mona Lisa. Of course, it didn't take the brainiac very long to discover that that was easier said than done.

Mona Lisa hadn't entered the lab since the day she left it, and she seemed determined to keep it that way. All things considered, Donatello couldn't blame her. After all, from what they could tell she'd been locked up in her lab for most of her life.

But unfortunately for Donnie, getting Mona Lisa into the lab was the least of his worries. In fact, the brainiac was considering giving up right on the spot because he had two hundred pounds of pure muscle glaring him angrily in the face.

For most of the turtles the majority of their weight was actually their very heavy shells. In Raphael's case however, there was far more muscle mass than shell, which of course made him the heaviest of the turtle brothers, and consequently the hardest to transport when injured. But that's beside the point, back to the situation at hand.

To top things off, Don's rather tactless attempts to drag Mona Lisa to the lab had scared her and she had begun to cry. And now Raphael was officially considering pounding his so-called 'smart' brother to pulp. Mona rushed over to her red-masked guardian and hid behind him, her body trembling with fear.

Don felt guilty for scaring her, but for her own sake he needed to do this. The genius just hoped that could save him from Raphael's wrath. "Raph, Raph! Don't do anything hasty! Hear me out first. She needs a complete medical examination! Not only to see how she's healing, but also to learn more about her background!"

Raph's fist stilled halfway to Donnie's face. Neon green eyes narrowed. "That's no excuse for scaring her, Don. You should have been more careful. You know that she doesn't like the lab!"

Don bristled. "Well, I can't examine her in here! I need my equipment in the lab!"

A deep growl worked its way out of Raph's throat and Donnie knew that he had just made the mistake of yelling at his hotheaded brother while said turtle was angry.

Raph was about ready to rip Donnie a new one when a soft hand on his shoulder held him back. Slowly he turned to look at Mona Lisa curiously. She pulled his hands down and placed herself between him and Donatello. Finally she slowly looked at Raph, then at Donnie, and nodded.

Raphael's eyes narrowed as he frowned deeply. "Are you sure about this?"

Mona smiled and nodded, squeezing his hand. Unfortunately Raphael couldn't tell whether the action was out of fear or need for reassurance. When Mona Lisa began to tremble, Raph assumed that it was probably the latter.

Raph's neon-green gaze intensified to an almost laser-green shade as he spoke lowly to Donatello. "You better not hurt her, Don."

The brainiac straightened a little. In a way he was glad that Mona trusted him in a situation like this, but on the other hand he wasn't so sure he'd be able to calm the flames of Raphael's anger if she displayed any sign of being uncomfortable or in pain. His voice was shaky ad he whispered back, "Don't worry. I'm just going to do some basic scans."

The other members of the turtle family exchanged glances and slowly followed after Raph, Donnie, and Mona.

As they made their way through the lab doors, Mona Lisa sidled closer to Raph.

Leonardo smiled. The way she clung to Raph's arm reminded him of the way human kids cling to their parents as they entered the doctor's office for an appointment. The eldest turtle wasn't sure, but he had a feeling that Mona fancied Raph as something more than just a guardian. Whether Raph returned those feelings or not was difficult to tell because the hothead seemed oblivious as a rock.

But perhaps…in time…

Leo was snapped out of this thoughts as Don muttered, "Lay down on the table please, Mona."

Her entire body began to shake. She sent Raph a worried look and pulled herself even closer to him.

Raph frowned and his temper flared as he turned to our smart brother. "She's not comfortable with this, Don. You're scaring her."

Donatello sighed and he approached Mona. The purple masked turtle smiled sweetly and took Mona's hands in his as he looked deep into her eyes. "Mona Lisa, I know this is hard. And I know it's really difficult, especially after what you've been through but it's for your own benefit. I swear, on my honor as a scientist, that I will not hurt you. But I need you to trust me. Can you do that for me? Please?" Don's voice was smooth as silk and his eyes were earnest.

The smart turtle, of course, had failed to notice his immediate older brother's growl as he grabbed Mona's hands. Don had also failed to note the way Raphael had bristled as the lizard mutant blushed.

When Mona Lisa nodded timidly in answer to Donnie's question, Raph put an inhibiting hand on her shoulder to hold her back. She turned to him with gentle eyes and pressed one of her hands softly over his. After a long, tense bout of eye contact Raph seceded and took a step back while the lizard mutant slowly lay down on the lab table.

She shivered as her back made contact with the cold metal table and shifted a little at the hardness. When she held a light green hand out to Raphael the hothead wasted no time in softly taking it in one of his own.

That only made Leo smile more. Yep. Raph may not realize it yet, but she's got him wrapped around her little finger.

In fact, I don't think Mona Lisa realizes that she could get Raph to do practically anything for her on a whim.

But of course, Leonardo knew nothing as to what had occurred before breakfast a week prior. Therefore he also didn't know that both Raphael and Mona Lisa were, at this point, in a state of total denial.

On the one hand Raph, stunned and utterly perplexed as to the meaning behind the kiss on the cheek, had written it off as a mere childish display of affection. As Leonardo had pointed out in the past, Raphael viewed Mona Lisa as a young girl when she was, in fact, a woman. And as such, the hotheaded turtle had gravely underestimated her.

On the other hand, Mona Lisa had assumed that the inaction on Raphael's part suggested disinterest. When she'd finally confided in Michelangelo what had occurred he had laughed and told her that Raph was renowned by his brothers for being very thickheaded when it came to the emotions of others. The lizard mutant hadn't really understood the meaning of that, but she understood enough to know that Mikey didn't think she should give up. Still…it would be a while before she'd be able to gather the courage to try again.

Mona's brown eyes flickered softly over to Raphael as he stood by her side. Her grip on his hand tightened and her bottom lip quivered as she was assaulted by horrible memories. To her very great surprise, Raph reached over with his other hand and traced his fingers softly over her cheekbone as he offered her a soothingly handsome smile.

Donatello wasn't particularly surprised by the fact that Raphael was trying to keep Mona Lisa calm. In fact, the brainiac was quite thankful that the hothead was even able to do so. But what surprised Donnie was the sheer gentleness in Raph's manner. Of course, they all knew that Raph was very soft-hearted, but this was taking it to a whole new level. Here Donatello actually got to see Raph with all his walls down. Moments like this were rare.

Or at least they had been, before…

Don belatedly realized that ever since Mona Lisa's arrival Raphael had been acting this way increasingly often.

Could it be more than just a passing interest? Hm. They showed all the signs. But seriously…Raph?

Before he could deliberate any further on the subject, Donatello was rudely yanked from his thoughts as the scanner beeped its completion. He looked down at the read out. Naturally, Mona's healing injuries had showed up. But…

"Huh. Interesting." Donatello murmured as he studied the readings in greater detail. His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized one aspect of the read-outs he found particularly surprising. He went over to one of the drawers and removed a tongue depressant sealed in plastic. He removed the plastic and approached the table. "Sit up." He commanded.

Mona did as Donnie asked but she tensed and sent her red-masked guardian a frightened glance.

Raph's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What do ya need her to do that for?"

"I want to look inside her mouth." Don answered plainly.

Raphael stiffened a little at the brainiac's reply but he took a step back to allow Donnie plenty of room.

The purple-masked turtle smiled reassuringly at Mona Lisa. "This won't hurt, I promise. I'm just going to use this," he held out the tongue depressant, "so that I can see the back of your throat better."

Slowly, Mona Lisa nodded her consent and opened her mouth. Don used the tongue depressant just as he said he would, took a look inside her mouth, and then pulled away with a deep rumbling hum of confusion.

Raph's hands balled into fists. "What's wrong with her?"

Don sighed. "Nothing." He turned back to Mona Lisa, who was still sitting upright on the edge of the lab table. "Your injuries seem to be healing fast Mona. Also, with the proper nutrition we should have you in perfect health in a matter of two months."

Mona smiled and let out a relieved puff of air.

But Raphael was still frowning. "What do you mean 'nothing'? Something was obviously botherin' ya."

The brainiac shifted a little. "I wouldn't say it was bothering me, more like I found it curious."

Raph's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Found what curious? I asked you already, Don: What's wrong with her?"

Donnie put his hands on his hips. "And I answered you already, Raphael: there's nothing wrong with her. Other than the injuries that are healing she seems to be in pretty good shape."

"But what was wrong with her throat then?" Raph asked, now thoroughly confused.

"Nothing." Don repeated and Raph was getting real tired of hearing it, so Donatello elaborated. "Nothing. No evidence of damage to her vocal chords, no scars, nothing. Don't you find that curious?"

Raph's neon green eyes clouded with confusion as he glanced in Mona's direction. "B-But if there's no damage…why can't she speak? It's obvious she can hear and understand what we're saying."

Don's face was impassive. "My guess: She can."

Mona Lisa was beyond confused. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed she clung once again to Raphael's arm.

Raph took one look at Mona and shook his head. "I don't know, Don. If she could speak, why wouldn't she have just…ya know…?"

Don sighed. "It could be that she doesn't know she can."

Raph's eye ridges furrowed and Mona looked completely bewildered. "Huh?" The hothead stammered.

"Well, suppose she was first captured by the humans when she was very young. Now if she were physically able to talk at that time, which I bet she was, she suddenly found herself surrounded by strange people. There is a chance that perhaps she chose not to speak around her captors. Then, perhaps, as time passed she simply forgot that she had the ability altogether. She could still understand what was being said to her, but she no longer remembered how to speak back."

Raph's frown was deep. That seemed…plausible. But still… "That's a lot of 'ifs' Don."

"It's one of many possibilities, Raphael. However, the fact remains that she should be able to speak."

"But you said she doesn't know how." Raph pointed out. "So how can we re-teach it to her?"

Don's frown was akin to Raph's. "We can't. Unless she is able to tap into the reservoir of memories buried deep in her mind…she probably won't be able to speak."

Mona lowered her head and scowled at the floor, wishing she could remember more.

Later that evening, after the other turtles had long since retired, Raphael and Mona Lisa sat side by side watching television.

Cartoons to be exact. Cartoons were what Mona liked best. Raph preferred action films, but he'd decided that films like that might be a little too much for Mona, so he had allowed her to pick what she wanted.

Suddenly, during the commercial break Mona turned to him and poked his shoulder to get his attention. Raph glanced over at her curiously and she lowered her head. Raph raised an eye-ridge. Mona began to gesture to him slowly in sign language. Raph didn't always understand everything, but he had sat in Donnie and Mona's lessons and had learned to understand enough to get by. Slowly she asked: 'Are you disappointed?'

Both of Raphael's eye-ridges furrowed. He was very confused. "What are you talking about? Why would I be disappointed?"

Mona let out a long puff of air. 'Are you disappointed that I no speak?'

Raph's bottom lip pushed out into a frown as he tried to figure out the right way to say this. "Mona…the fact that you don't speak doesn't mean anything. And it doesn't change anything, either. I don't care whether you speak with actions or with sounds. In the end your voice is just as powerful." Raph blushed and looked away.

Did I seriously just say that? He did a mental face-palm. That was so cheesy and sappy! I can't believe I just said that!

Mona Lisa smiled wide and wrapped her arms around Raph's shoulders in a tight hug.

Raph didn't really know how to react, so he just sat tight. Mona lay her head on his shoulder and the hothead could suddenly feel his cheeks getting hot. The lizard mutant lifted her head and Raph turned to look at her. She smiled and, without warning, swooped in to press a gentle kiss to his cheek.

Raph was certain that his face was as red as his mask. Mona giggled a little at his blush before once again resting her head on his shoulder.

Twenty minutes later, the two of them were in much the same position, but with one difference. Mona Lisa was asleep. Raph turned and glanced down at her sleeping form, wondering whether or not he should carry her to her room. In the end he decided that it would be better to disturb her as little as possible, so he carefully extricated himself from her grasp and lay her down gently on the couch. Raph lay the blanket over her gently and it wasn't long before Mona clung to it tightly. He smiled.

Then his thoughts went back to the week prior. That morning before breakfast when she had…

An emerald green hand slowly came up and his fingers brushed against the cheek she had kissed. The longer he looked down at her the more his smile dimmed with thought. Should he…?

Neon green eyes glared left and right, searchingly, and found nobody there. So who would even know?

Ever so slowly, Raphael bent down and pressed a soft kiss to her cheek, the same way she had done to him earlier. Yeah, maybe it wasn't the tough guy thing to do, he could have just walked away without giving a damn, but it didn't really matter since there was no one here to judge.

Raphael smirked. After all, nobody has to know. The smirk softened a little as he turned out the light in the main room, taking one last glance at the lizard mutant on the couch before the darkness settled.

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