Raphael had never been more wrong in his life.
The red turtle had gone to space fully prepared for things to get even weirder than they were on Earth – and seeing how his last adventure back home had involved meeting his time travel double, that was saying something. Between his everyday life and several begrudged Space Heroes marathons, he was certain he was ready for any sort of strange alien creatures, planets, and adventures they might face.
He was so sure that there was nothing left in the Universe that could catch him off-guard, but nothing could have prepared him for when, a few days into their journey, a giant newt girl spotted him from across a crowded space port, marched over to him, grabbed him with her tail and unabashedly kissed him while his brothers watched, dumbfounded.
Through a haze of hormones and confusion, Raph could faintly hear his youngest brother say “woah.”
“…I see. Raphael did mention that they had gone back in time sixth months. The fact that this would create a paradox didn’t occur to me, but it makes sense.”
“Yeah, uh,” Raph rubbed the back of his neck. The apparent couple couldn’t manage to look at each other after the misunderstanding, even with it cleared up, even with the others leaving them alone to sit on a nearby bench and sort things out. “So, the… ‘other me’ called you Mona Lisa?”
Mona Lisa nodded. “I apologize for what was no doubt an uncomfortable first impression.”
“Uncomfortable” was far from the word he’d use – being ravaged by a hot alien babe had been the subject of a few daydreams since they’d left home - but Raph nodded all the same. He didn’t need to ask Mona Lisa how they’d met to get where his paradox clone was coming from – he could tell from their short conversation (not to mention how when he said he didn’t know her, she demanded an explanation at gunpoint) that she was a strong woman. Absolutely his type. He stole glances at her before he got too embarrassed again and he could tell she was doing the same thing. How had the other him managed to convey any of that out loud to win her heart though?
“So, um, Mona Lisa, does this mean we're…. kind of… dating?” He tried to look as nonchalant as possible, slouching against the bench’s arm. “Because I guess I’d be cool with that if you’re cool with that.”
Silence. Raph was too scared to look her way again to see if she was disgusted with him or just thinking.
“…No,” she said after a moment, “we are not.” She stood up, gazing into the starry distance. “Perhaps you are similar to…. my Raphael,” she said this with a surprisingly bashful pose, blushing and staring at her feet, “but he and I share a wealth of experiences. Experiences that changed us – made us who we are – and made us who we are to each other. My heart belongs to him and only him.”
It was a weird feeling, being so incredibly jealous of yourself. “Right, yeah, that makes sense. Sorry.”
When Mona Lisa next looked over at Raphael, there was a sad longing in her eyes. “However, would it be alright if I pretended you were my Raphael for one more moment?”
Mona sat back down next to Raphael and pulled him close, wrapping her tail around him, closing her eyes, and clinging tightly – desperately - to him for what felt like ages. Space closed in on them, drowning out the throng of travelers passing by and making Raph hug Mona Lisa back, just in case he never felt this way again.
It was over too soon.
“Thank you, Raphael,” she said before she finally released him, standing back up as if she might cling to him again if she didn’t. “I wish you and your brothers the best.”
She offered him a handshake, which he took, before she vanished into the crowd. Raphael’s spine still tingled with the emotions she’d left on him. He wondered if he’d see her again, or meet someone else on his own adventures. He wondered if he’d change and grow in his own way to make up for missing out on the experiences his other self overcame.
Until then, the second Raphael felt completely outclassed.