G. I. Joe belongs to Hasbro. I usually don't write about good guys, but with characters as complex as Snakes and Scarlett, who could resist. This story takes place in issue 4 of G. I. Joe: Reinstated and makes references to Master and Apprentice I #1 and Reinstated#1 (the slap scene). It's just before Scarlett says "I love you, you big jerk."

They set behind the glass wall in Wright-Peterson AFB to keep Alexander McCullen's nanomites from infecting the others: Scarlett, the fiery Southern belle, and Snake Eyes, the silent, masked ninja who broke her heart.

She had once believed that he loved her. Snake Eyes lost his voice and face for her. He saved her life time after time. He told her about his past and real name. Storm Shadow had had to use an old ninja technique to make him leave to go on a mission when she was in a coma. Snake Eyes never asked for her shoulder to cry on, even though she gladly offered it. That was all before he left her at the altar.

That Snake Eyes was a lie. All he really wanted was to toy with her emotions because it made him feel powerful. She would have to stay here, alone with him, until the other Joes could reprogram the nanomites. If they failed to reprogram the nanomites, Scarlett and Snake Eyes would die. She would die with this man who had hurt her so much.

Well, she thought, I have a lot of things to say to him anyway.

"You bastard! You enjoy trying to manipulate how I feel, don't you?!"

He lowered his head and shook it.

"No? Then why did you walk out on me? And don't give me any 'I made a mistake, baby' crap for an answer!"

Snake Eyes removed his mask. Tears were forming in his eyes.

Oh, he's sorry he left me. Good. Now he can suffer.

What Snake Eyes signaled next surprised her.

"Ophelia died." Scarlett stood up.

"She had no family, and I couldn't afford funeral services. I had to bury her at my cabin. I tried to make it back to Atlanta on time, but I couldn't," the quivering hands signed as the tears began to flow.

A pang of guilt rushed through Scarlett. Kamakura had said that Ophelia died. Had Snakes really missed the wedding to bury his former apprentice?

"How did she die?"

He closed his eyes and after a broken inhalation, he signed, "A few weeks before our wedding, Duke contacted me. Firefly was acquiring weapons for an unknown employer. Duke and Chuckles set a trap for Firefly, but they thought that one of their team was a traitor. Duke wanted me to intervene in the mission to force the traitor to change his plans. Firefly realized what was happening and detonated his explosives. He killed most of Duke's team, and, while he was escaping he shot Ophelia."

That bastard had gone on a mission like that one week before their wedding? How dare he act like such an inconsiderateā€¦soldier doing his duty? They both had special skills that America needed from time to time. They had to be ready to serve whenever their nation called. But a question remained.

"Why didn't you tell me before you went, Snakes?"

"Because you would have gone with me. I didn't want you to risk getting hurt if it could be avoided, even if it made you hate me."

This sounded like the old Snakes, the one who always put her ahead of himself. If he had really wanted to abuse her, he would never have risked his life and given so much for her in the past. Even when he abandoned her he did it to protect her. But she didn't want his protection. She wanted him. She still wanted him. In all the time since they broke up she had not formed a close relationship with any other man. She wanted the Snake Eyes who had given so much for her. When he left, though, she believed that he had just been a false persona of the real Snake Eyes, who cared nothing for her. She saw now that she was wrong. Snakes never put himself ahead of her. His mistake was not letting her share his burdens. Overprotection not neglect.

"I love you, Snakes, and if you really didn't want me along, I would've respected that. But if I had tried to go with you, you still should have let me. I worry about you as much as you worry about me." Scarlett was unaware of the fact the she said "love" in the present tense. If Snake Eyes noticed he didn't show it.

"Why didn't you tell me when you got back?"

"You never let me."

That hit Scarlett hard.

"I'm sorry, Snakes."

"No, you had every right to be angry."

"No, I'm sorry for not trusting you." The selfish Snake Eyes was a creation of her mind. She had stood by him all those years because she chose to. He had never asked her for anything. He was still her true love. And the first time he did something that hurt her, she refused to hear why.

"When I saw you again for the first time a few days ago, I slapped you because you buried your apprentice," she said touching his face as she sat by him.

He removed her hand and signed, "You slapped me because I ruined the future that we wanted. The future I still wish could have been. I'm sorry, Shana. I still love you, but I don't have any hopes."

"You were doing your duty when you went on that mission. You had to bury Ophelia. You did what you had to, Snakes."

"Shana, you don't have to forgive me."

"If it makes you feel better, you could have done one thing differently."

"Which was?"

"You should have told me before you left." Scarlett snuggled close to Snake Eyes.

"I am so sorry, Shana." Tears expressed the emotion that his signs could not.

"I'll forgive you for not telling me before you left if you'll forgive me for not letting you tell me what happened."

"You have done nothing to be forgiven for Shana, but if it will make you feel better," he signed, repeating her words, "I forgive you for not letting me explain."

"I forgive you too, Snakes. No more secrets. Is that a promise?"

He nodded and signed, "I love you, Shana."

"I love you too, Snakes," she said and threw her arms around him.