It wasn't fair.
Of course it wasn't fair. Nothing about this was fair.
"You'll be back to normal in no time," Donatello had said. "It'll take a few hours, maybe, but you'll be there!"
Mona Lisa had taken the 'retro-mutagen' in good faith, chugged the stuff like it didn't taste terrible, and waited.
Her tail had disappeared, her skin had returned to normal, her amphibious beak had become her nose again, and her hair now sat on the top of a perfectly human head. Human!
How wonderful it'd been, even saying goodbye to Raphael had been bittersweet, instead of just bitter. She had to get home, she had to.
In the comfort of the sewers, April had lent her some clothes she could wear that were only a little big for her. Mona had burst out of a training room, hugged Splinter, hugged April, gave Raphael a kiss on the cheek, and before she knew it was home free, running through the streets of New York, knowing her family would be happy to see their college kid back home again, since she'd been gone for a while.
Surely they'd be worried.
She was even anxious to tell them about her heroism, how she had saved the world (with a little help, of course). She'd alter the details, of course. Her mutation into a grotesque, bipedal salamander.
She slammed open the door, calling for her family, to come see her, to tell them she was alright. Her mother, her father, her sister, they were all relieved, and she had the reunion she'd wanted, happy tears and joyful hugs, the human touch being all she'd wanted and needed after her horrible experience. She herself had shed tears, glad tears as her mother held her close, as her father repeatedly kissed her forehead, as her sister thumped her on the back, patting her shoulders.
Her mother had ordered pizza for dinner (Ha!) and sat down, asking why she hadn't called, why she hadn't come to see them.
"Well, did you see the Channel 6 report?" Mona grinned.
"Of course, dear, it was horrendous! Why?"
"I stopped them. Or, I helped. It was incredible, Mom. I worked with one of the Ninja Turtles, and we stopped Captain Filch!"
Her parents exchanged looks at their daughter's excited outburst. "Honey, are you feeling well?"
"Yes, I feel fine now!" Mona proclaimed. She cocked her head. "Why?" She shivered. "Is it cold in here, or what? Turn up the heat, Amanda."
Her sister frowned. "No. It's warm. Are you sure you feel okay? You look a little green."
Mona bolted to her feet, knocking her chair over backwards. "What?! Green? Really? That's impossible! There's no way I-"
"She's right, dear, you look….literally green," her father said, stepping back.
Mona dashed around the side of the table, through the comfortable apartment, to the bathroom. She shoved the door open and stared into the mirror over the sink with huge, frightened eyes.
Her skin was green.
It's not fair. It's not fair. It's not fair.
She couldn't do it again. Even as her pants tore to accommodate the thick tail, she swore it was not happening. She put her hands over where her external ears used to be. "No, no, no, no, no, this isn't happening, this isn't real, I'm dreaming, it's a nightmare."
Another glance in the mirror told her otherwise, as her face lost its human quality. Her skin was slick again, her nose had turned into a pronounced snout. Her eyes shut tight, and a tear squeezed out, running down her face.
A scream pierced her thoughts as she turned.
Amanda stood in the doorway, shaking, deathly pale, eyes fixated on Mona. "You….you….w-what are you?"
Mona raised her webbed hands. "It's not that bad, I promise, it'll be okay, we'll figure something out-"
"Who are you?!"
"It's me! It's Mona Lisa! Don't you recognize me?"
"Get back! What did you do with my sister?!"
"Amanda, I promise, it's me!" Mona fell onto her knees, extending her hands, palms up. "It's me."
Amanda shook her head, pressing back against the hallway, as her parents joined her, attracted by the commotion.
Her mother put her hand over her mouth, her father wrapped his arms around his wife and daughter, pressing them behind him.
"Dad?" Curse that choke.
Her father said nothing.
Mona Lisa backed up against the window, staring at her family as her heart ripped in half.
She turned and looked out the window.
A manhole cover.
Mona yanked the window open, leaped out, trusting her strong legs to take the impact. She ripped the manhole cover off, fell into the sewer, ran, tail whipping, eyes leaking, back to her friends, to the lair.
She was so blinded by the blurring in her eyes that she didn't see until it was too late.
She ran smack into Raphael's plastron, into his arms.
"Woah, hey! What're you doing here? Mona? Mona Lisa? What happened?"
Mona's only response was to bury her nose into his shoulder and cry harder.
Raphael moved his arms back up, wrapping around her shoulders. "I'm sorry."
"It didn't work," Mona sobbed. "It didn't work. I'm still a hideous mutant. I am again. You can't fix it, can you? I'm stuck like this, forever."
"Not forever. Donnie will come up with something. You can stay here in the meantime." The last thought brought a note of cheerfulness into the mutant turtle's voice. "We'll fix this. You'll go back. I promise. You can go back to your family, you won't have to stay here."
Mona smiled into the crook of Raphael's neck, a watery smile he did not see.
And Raphael bit his lip at the thought of her departure, a horribly sad, lonely expression that she did not see, would not see, could not see, for her own good as well as his, his brothers', and his sensei's.
After all, life was not fair.