A/N: This one-shot was inspired by Tumblr, and features the cliché of one-bed hotel room. :P Sorry, but this bunny was persistent.
Work with Snake-Eyes was always quiet, and Scarlett liked it that way. It was never an awkward kind of quiet; both of them knew what they were doing, and each knew the other well enough to wordlessly alter plans and strategies with full confidence that the other would catch on instantly.
However, this was not the battlefield. This was not their 'base of operations,' and this was not a remote, trap-filled Cobra hideout.
This was a small motel on the tail end of a long, tiring day of nothing but fruitless scouting for Cobra presence. It had turned out they had abandoned the area months ago, and left no sign of caring to return.
Groaning, Scarlett massaged her temple. It was a decent room, complete with a mini-fridge, a TV, and a nice bed. The problem was that there was only one bed. One, and the provided couch couldn't have hidden a drowsy ninja, let alone a fold-out bed.
Beside her, Snake-Eyes was silent, but not his usual actions-speak-louder silent. This was more of an oh-god-what-now silent, complete with hands clasped together in apprehension.
"Well," Scarlett said, her voice sounding out of place in the silence. "This was... unforeseen."
Snake-Eyes nodded once, slowly. Then he pointed to himself, made the sign language for 'sleep,' and pointed to the floor. Conversation between them was at a minimum, with Snake still learning sign language and all, but she usually had no problem understanding him.
This time was no different. Scarlett frowned at him. "I'm sure the carpet looks very tempting, Snake, but I'd rather you not sleep on the floor. Who knows what lives in it or how dirty it is?"
In response, he tilted his head to the side.
"I know, I know - ninja. You can endure unimaginable hardships with your hands tied behind your back." She sighed. "Still, you shouldn't purposely put yourself in bad positions and claim it's for 'training.' And the last time I checked, getting bug bites doesn't give you any immunity to future bug bites."
Shaking his head, Snake audibly sighed. He pointed at her, then signed 'sleep' again followed by him waving an index finger for the word 'where.'
"Me? I guess I'll sleep in the bed."
Nodding, Snake pointed back to himself, then at the small couch.
"No." She placed her hands on her hips. "You need adequate rest too, and a chair isn't going to cut it if there's a bed nearby."
There was an awkward pause as he struggled to come up with the hand signs to properly convey his thoughts. He settled with pointing to her, then to the bed, then to himself, then back to the bed.
Scarlett nodded. "Yes."
More silence. Then, slowly, Snake lowered his hand. Heat prickled along his neck and back, and he turned his head slightly to avoid looking directly at her.
Him? With her? In the same bed? He knew sharing the bed was reasonable, and that neither he nor Scarlett had any intentions beyond getting a good night's rest.
But how could he sleep with her so close by? So close that all he would have to do was turn his head and his face would be mere inches from hers.
His damaged face was probably turning all interesting shades of red at the moment. He wasn't sure what he looked like blushing.
Lowering his head, he stared at the floor, feeling utterly stupid - like a middle-school boy experiencing his first crush. He was a grown man, for God's sake! He needed to act like one.
Scarlett waited patiently, sensing gears turning in Snake's head. "Is... this alright with you?" she asked. "If you are really uncomfortable, then I'll take the couch, and you take the bed."
Snake shook his head, placed a hand on his chest, and pointed at the couch.
"No, Snake. You were the one running around today squeezing into tight places and searching the entire base while I sat at the computer trying to find information. You need the rest more."
Somehow, he managed a snort, and fumbled for paper and a pen. "You were the one running around asking questions, and getting us out of trouble with that cop. Squeezing into tight spaces is easy. I didn't do anything."
Scarlett read the note and sighed as she stepped into the bathroom to wash up. "I almost wish we'd run into those snakes. That way, we'd both be too tired to care about who sleeps where." Her voice echoed off the tiles, and there was the sound of water running from a faucet.
Shaking his head at himself, Snake-Eyes fished an extra blanket and pillow from the closet and tossed it onto the couch. Then he went to the bed and pulled out some of the tucked-in blankets.
Just as he was finishing inspecting the mattress and pillows for bed-bugs and other unwanted roommates, he heard the bathroom light clicking off and saw Scarlett walking past wearing nothing but a tank top and shorts. He didn't give her actions much thought until he heard her smugly say, "How nice of you to set up everything for me."
He turned around; Scarlett was on the couch, under the blankets, with the pillow on an armrest and her knees pulled against her chest. Her position didn't look very comfortable, but she looked pleased.
"Ah ah ah," she tutted when he took a step towards her. "My couch. You can try to move me, but you won't succeed."
Technically, he could move her, but she would put up a fight if he did, so he just sighed and left her be to go prepare for the night.
He ended up taking longer in the bathroom than she did, but only because he had to be careful cleaning his face.
His ruined face. He stared at his reflection, the lights surrounding the mirror completely lighting up his features.
He sucked in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. No use berating himself for it. He'd thought about it many times, to the point where the bitterness had almost receded to simply a bad taste in his mouth.
Almost. He was still working on that.
After replacing his mask and walking out of the bathroom, he noticed that Scarlett's breathing had deepened and evened out. Curious, he walked over to the couch. Her arms were tucked under her pillow and her blanket was slipping, but it was very obvious the redhead was asleep.
Snake exhaled slowly, feeling the tension leave his body as he lightly brushed a strand of red hair away from her forehead. Sure, he'd lost a lot - his voice, his face - and suffered through the pain of burns and healing, but no matter how angry and frustrated he got with himself, he knew he'd do it all over again if he had the choice.
All for her life and safety.
Squatting, he carefully slid his arms under her legs and back and slowly picked her up, making sure to settle her head against his shoulder. She stirred lightly, but didn't wake up.
Smoothly, he carried her over to the bed and gently set her down, pulling the blanket over her as he made sure the pillow nicely supported her head. He was going to get an earful from her in the morning, but at least she'd be well-rested.
He tucked the blanket under her chin and softly touched her temple. How peaceful she looked, how relaxed.
He stroked her hair and started getting up when a pair of arms shot out and wrapped themselves around his neck. Momentarily panicked, his hand flew towards a knife at his waist until a soft, playful voice murmured, "Gotcha."
Snake stayed tense. The side of his face was pressed against hers and her arms felt warm. He tried getting up, but stopped when she didn't let go. "Ya think I'm just gonna let you carry me to the bed and hog the couch for yourself? Nuh uh." Scarlett's voice sounded groggy with sleep, but light-hearted.
He shifted, trying to find a position that wasn't awkward for him. His feet were both still on the ground, and it was rather uncomfortable to be hugged when he was bent at a ninety-degree angle forward, but she wasn't letting go. He tugged gently at her arms, but she didn't budge.
"Either you're takin' me back to the couch or you're stayin' here with me," she mumbled, the tiredness in her voice belying the grip she had on him. And boy, did she have a grip.
Snake sighed against her neck, making her giggle. Well, he'd tried to get her to let go. Looks like he had no other choice.
Slowly, he slipped his hands down her waist; Scarlett shuddered at the touch as his hands came to a stop right where her body started to curve out into her hips.
Then his fingers went after the sensitive skin.
"EAAAHHH!" Scarlett shrieked, kicking about wildly. "NONONONO SNAKE NO!" She released one arm and futilely tried to grab Snake's wrists to stop him from tickling. It did absolutely no good against two hands bent on assaulting her sides no matter where she reached.
Just when Snake was starting to wonder if someone was going to call the police from all the yelling and giggling, one of Scarlett's knees managed to hit his abdomen. Hard.
Pain exploded in his abdomen, and he stopped his tickle attack in favor of collapsing onto her. It wasn't the worst pain he had ever felt in his life, but it was enough to discourage him from holding himself at a distance where she could knee him again.
"Oof," Scarlett grunted, before slipping an arm underneath his and happily hugging him. "You're heavy. Very heavy."
Snake held his breath and didn't respond.
"Oh, you drama queen," she scolded lightly. "Playing dead. Ain't gonna fool me." With a grunt, she started rolling towards the bed.
"Gosh, you're heavy," she gasped. "Did you gain weight? I told you to lay off the sweets." She ran a hand along his muscular torso. Snake's breath hitched.
"Ha, knew you were still alive." Scarlett sounded smug as she patted his stomach. "Yep, you definitely gained some weight here." She poked his all-muscle-no-fat side.
Snake's shoulders began shaking and Scarlett could feel him pant-laugh into her shoulder. Grinning, she wrapped both arms around him and hugged him again, tightly. Much to her joy, she felt his hands move around her as he hugged her back.
"You're fun to hug, Snake," she murmured into his neck. "You're like a big teddy bear. A big, black, deadly teddy bear, but a teddy bear nonetheless."
Snake must have found the mental image of himself as a teddy bear hilarious, because he started pant-laughing again, his breath warming her neck. Scarlett giggled and patted his back, happy to see a light-hearted side of him. He rarely laughed.
With a final heave, she finally managed to roll him onto the other side of the bed. "Alright, mister. Time for bed. And yes, you're staying here with me."
Snake slumped his shoulders. Despite making up his mind to sleep on the couch, he decided he found the bed comfier and Scarlett more determined than he had expected either of them to be.
Really, what harm could it do? It wasn't as if she was expecting more. He supposed it wouldn't hurt to share the bed for one night.
He swung himself up into a sitting position and stood up. When Scarlett protested, he shook his head and tugged at his bodysuit, indicating that he needed to change into something more sleep-appropriate. With her reluctant approval, he went to the bathroom, peeled off his suit, and slipped into a pair of civilian shorts he'd brought.
Scarlett had her head propped up on her hand and a small smile on her face when he came out of the bathroom. Snake nearly stopped in his tracks; heat crept up his shoulders and onto his neck. He knew she was probably just observing him, but good grief, the way her body was positioned - with the blanket outlining the curve of her waist and that smile - she looked like she was expecting something else entirely.
He tried to swallow the lump in his throat as he made his way to his side of the bed. The fact that he was only wearing his mask and a pair of shorts did not help his predicament. Thankfully, Scarlett dropped her pose in favor of flopping onto her pillow as he slipped under the blankets.
"Snake," Scarlett murmured, grinning.
He froze, then cautiously tilted his head. Yes?
"You're blushing, aren't you?"
There was a moment of panic as his hand flew to his neck. He didn't even know he was blushing that hard. God knows he felt strongly for the redhead in front of him, but he didn't think he'd be that embarrassed. Back at the Arashikage, Tommy used to tease him about how easily he blushed - how much the red stood out against his pale skin - but there had been only a few times when the blush actually managed to reach his neck. What now? Was she going to tease him? Scold him?
His thoughts were cut short when Scarlett laughed. "Silly, your neck isn't red. I can tell by the way you're acting." Her grin turned cheeky. "But you confirmed it by touching your neck."
Oh. So he hadn't been blushing that hard...
Snake-Eyes exhaled sharply in disapproval and threw his pillow at her. She happily caught it and hugged it to herself. "Mine," she declared.
A moment later, she was squealing again as Snake wrestled the pillow out of her hands by tickling her, this time making sure to avoid her flailing arms and legs. When he finally retrieved his pillow, he made a show of hugging it possessively, prompting her to burst out laughing.
"You know, there's an extra pillow over there," she gasped, pointing at the couch where the extra pillow and blanket still lay.
Snake stroked the top of his pillow carefully, making her laugh harder.
"Alright, alright." She shook her head, chuckling. "Your pillow. Got it. Now, bedtime."
Obediently, Snake set his pillow down, making sure to fluff it up before laying down on it. After they got settled, a silence fell over them. Scarlett stared at the ceiling, feeling content yet peaceful after so much laughing. She turned her head slightly to look at the ninja and frowned.
"Snake, are you honestly going to wear that mask while you sleep?" she whispered, breaking the momentary silence. "You know I don't mind if-"
He stopped her with a quick shake of his head. No way was he sleeping with his mask off. He didn't want her pity, not after the playful moment they'd had.
Much to his relief, she dropped the subject in favor of rolling around until she found an ideal position.
"Good night, Snake," she murmured sleepily after turning the light off.
After a moment of hesitation, he reached towards her and gently pressed the sign for 'good night' against her shoulder.
Smiling, Scarlett took his hands in hers and held them until sleep loosened her grip on them. And even then, Snake didn't pull away.