Obviously, I own nothing.

A/N: Inspired partially by the strangeness of the movieverse, and partially by my annoyance that Scarlett's backstory is so frequently dominated by her father. I've got nothing against her dad, I'm just tired of moms getting short shrift.

More generally, I changed Scarlett's background because I think it makes more sense based on what she does in the movie, and italics is Snake Eyes using sign language. Apologies for the angstiness, no apologies for suggesting that not every relationship pans out.


Her father had taught her to win. Her mother had tried, and failed, to teach her it didn't matter. It wasn't her mother's fault; for all that she loved her, Scarlett had simply never been close enough to her to pick anything up. She had always understood her mother to be something to be admired from afar, like a star or a sunset, impossible to touch because she was too alien to comprehend. Scarlett hadn't thought about it when she was small. She'd simply accepted that they were different. But as she grew older, Scarlett found herself irritated with her mother. Scarlett was precocious, competitive, devoted to the things she could prove and quantify. Her mother seemed to care for none of those things. And so Scarlett had spent more and more time with her father, who had delighted in her drive to be the best.

After all, her father would teach her to win. Her mother would simply tell her to slow down. Not everything was a competition, she would say. Not everything was something you could win.

Scarlett hadn't listened. At the time, she'd thought it was foolish advice; at that point, she'd never encountered something she couldn't win. Or at least she believed she hadn't. Thinking back on it now, she could see that she'd missed more than she could ever begin to quantify, between skipping high school and going to university as a child. As it turned out, a seventeen-year-old with a Bachelor's in Computer Science still didn't know much about herself. At the time, her father had encouraged her to go, pointing out that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Her mother had listened to their discussion without comment, until her father had paused.

"What do you think, Eileen?" he'd asked quietly, turning to her mother almost tentatively.

Her mother thought it over a moment, absentmindedly chewing on her bottom lip. "Will it make you happy, Shana?" she finally asked.

Scarlett had sighed dramatically. "Of course it will."

It was a better question than she'd thought at the time. She had been confident in her answer when she was thirteen. Now, she was less sure. Learning to win was not the same thing as knowing if you wanted the prize.

Of course, it was almost too late to claim that birthright now. She saw her mother a few times a year for days at a time. It was warm, but it was distant. Scarlett had never been sure how to bridge the gap, tell her that the value in her lessons was almost painfully obvious now. Her mother would never have been caught in something like this, would have known just how to look at things to make them fall into place. But she wasn't her mother. She wasn't even close.

Snake Eyes was looking at her curiously. Something wrong? She realized they'd been sitting in the rec room in silence for quite some time.

She shook her head. "No, I'm fine."

Think it's time, he said. She looked at the clock – it was almost quarter to five.

"It was probably time half an hour ago," she admitted. "It is a date, after all. I should freshen up a little, even if it's informal."

Ripcord won't care, he replied. He just wants to see you.

It was an odd thing for Snake Eyes to say; she'd tried not to burden him with details about Ripcord and her. But he had always been a good friend, probably better than she deserved. That was the irony of it all, that this situation meant he had become the one person she could not confess to.

"I know," she said, a little quieter than she meant to. She almost left, almost walked down the hall to meet Ripcord - who had been nothing less that perfect, who she didn't blame in the slightest - but then it hit her. She pulled up suddenly just in front of the door.

Snake Eyes was looking at her curiously.

"You know, I'm not sure I'm feeling up to it tonight," she explained. "And I need to let him know. I just remembered there's someone I need to call, and I've waited too long already."