-laugh- Truthfully, I'm not even sure where this story came from. If you're expecting lush description and emotional involvement... nope, this isn't it. Just a silly little mostly-gen story... shocking, I know!


Ink

Summary: Shipwreck, Clutch, Stalker and Snake-Eyes talk tattoos.


"I'm serious, 'Wreck, why an anchor?"

Shipwreck grinned and flexed his arm, admiring the dark, clean lines on his arm. He'd just had it touched up—after ten years, it'd kind of needed it. That was the problem with all the time they spent out in the sun. "How's a sailor supposed to be Popeye without an anchor tattoo?"

Clutch tapped his foot a little at that, but after a moment, he nodded. "Makes sense. In a really dorky kind of way." Shipwreck chuckled back. That was one of the things he liked about Clutch—he didn't even ask. Or even make a face. A lot of the Joes were like that, though—he did love this crew. Clutch, though, was smirking when he raised his head. "No Olive Oyl, though."

"Thank God." Shipwreck shuddered. Popeye had been his favourite cartoon, yeah, but Olive Oyl was just creepy-looking. He wasn't into stick figures. "Cover Girl's way hotter, anyway." Just as tall, but oh, sweet sailin' gods, those curves, and that hair…

Clutch snickered. "Yeah, but difference is, Popeye's got Olive Oyl."

"Shut it, greasemonkey." Shipwreck growled. Yeah, so what if he hadn't exactly been lucky with the tank girl? There was time. And he was pretty sure she thought he was cute—she hadn't been able to quite keep the smile off her face the last time he'd tried one of his lines on her. "I don't see you riding a Desert Fox off into the sunset with Scarlett sitting shotgun."

There was a harsh, throaty noise from the top bunk.

Shipwreck glanced up in surprise. That had sounded… a lot like a snort of laughter, actually.

"See, even he agrees," Shipwreck nodded, sagely. If Snake—probably the most serious guy of the lot of them—found the idea of Clutch riding off with Scarlett funny… well… okay, so it was pretty funny.

Clutch muttered, "You kidding? Of course he would."

"Don't fool yourself, buddy, everyone would. What about you, Snakes?" Shipwreck tipped his head back and glanced upwards at the commando, perched on his bed. No-one had argued when Snakes'd called top bunk. "You got any ink to show off?"

Snake-Eyes shrugged one shoulder. Patted his left bicep, casually, then went back to cleaning the Uzi in his lap with strong, sure strokes.

"Really?" Shipwreck blinked—it didn't seem all that… ninja, having a tattoo. And he knew Snakes was probably whiter than he was—he'd seen the man once in what passed for civvies—but… hey, wait. He grimaced. "Like a… yakuza tat, or something?"

Snake-Eyes stopped cleaning the Uzi, and stared.

Stalker glanced up from where he was sitting at his own bunk, flipping through mission sheets. "'Wreck… please tell me you didn't just ask Snake-Eyes if he was in the yakuza."

"Hey, you were gang, we all come from different places, right? S'all good, we're all Joes here," Shipwreck protested. "And don't the yaks have tattoos all over the place?"

"He's got a Ranger tab on his arm, you squid head." Stalker sighed. Oh, right—Snakes had gone through, like, three Ranger schools. Well, that was boring… well, in the typical, military overachiever, G.I. Joe way. They all had enough certificates and badges and pins and stars and tabs to fill a whole drawer. "And for your information, I'm pretty damned sure 'yakuza' isn't the same thing as 'ninja.'"

"It's not?" Shipwreck blinked, and glanced over at Clutch. Clutch raised both hands. News to him. Well, that'd teach him to listen to the guys posted over in Okinawa.

Snake-Eyes cocked his head, and Hector saw his hands moving in that fluid, elegant sign language. Stalker blinked, once. "Oh. No, it's not the same thing at all, but he says some of the yakuza actually do have ninja connections. Just for future reference."

"So you're not pissed?" Hector asked, anxiously.

Snake-Eyes shook his head. Thank God. Shipwreck'd never seen Snake-Eyes mad—had a hard time imagining it, the man was always so chill—but it was difficult to tell what someone like that would take as a… mortal insult, or something.

"And you've got gang colors on you, right, Stalker?" Clutch added. "So we've got two folk here who've got, y'know, secret society tats."

Stalker chuckled, and rubbed his chest with a fist, putting down the sheaf of papers. "Detroit gangs? You kidding? Definitely wouldn't be calling them a secret society. My gang days were a long time ago, bro—can't even remember the last time someone told me to pull down my collar. Wife's been at me for years to get them taken off."

Shipwreck winced, and saw Clutch doing the same. "Ouch. Doesn't that hurt like a mother?"

"Yeah, exactly," Stalker grinned, sheepishly. "That's why I've still got 'em."

"Who's the other one?" Shipwreck blinked, and stared at Clutch. "You? Hell, no."

"Screw you, 'Wreck. Nah. Him." Clutch nodded at the top bunk. "Snakes hasn't got gang colors, he's got something better."

Snake-Eyes put down the gun and swung his legs over the side of the bed, his hands flickering through the air.

Clutch laughed, and Shipwreck blinked—he hadn't realized that Clutch knew how to sign too. "You're forgettin', Snakes, I was with y'all before… you know, the accident. You still wore short sleeves sometimes back then. C'mon, might as well show him, it's damned cool."

The ninja paused, then he pulled off a glove, unzipping one arm of his commando suit up to the elbow.

Unlike Shipwreck's own tat, the red lines and bars across Snake-Eyes' forearm looked as clean and crisp as if they were brand-new. Which kind of made sense, since the man wore long sleeves even when he was in civvies. "Oh? Some sort of Zen thing?" There'd been a chef on one of the rigs he'd served on who'd been big into that sort of holistic fluff.

Stalker shook his head, and chuckled. "Kind of. It's some kind of hexagram from the I-ching—right, Snakes? Fire over water, something like that? That, Hector, isthe symbol of his ninja clan."

"A ninja… clan? You for serious? You've got a real clan?" He had to admit—he was impressed. More than impressed. Awesome!

Snake-Eyes made another noise like a snort, through his nose, softer. Stalker rolled his eyes. "'Wreck, I don't get how you can make a face when you ask if he's yakuza, but now that he's got a ninja clan—"

"—which, considering he's a ninja, makes sense—" Clutch tossed in.

Stalker shot a hard look at Clutch, "—and you're all starry-eyed?"

"Yaks are, like Japanese Mafia, matey. Thugs. Ninja clans are way old-school." Shipwreck shook his head. "Man, Snake, if I hadn't seen you on the field, I'd seriously have thought all that was sci-fi, you know?"

Snake-Eyes just shrugged again—a bigger shrug this time, both hands up.

"Yeah, I know it's probably all normal to you," he commented, enviously. "You probably grew up with them or something, huh?"

Stalker laughed. "You know, 'Wreck, if you want to have a conversation with Snake-Eyes, you really should learn some sign language."

"I'm getting there, I'm getting there!" Though he thought Snake did pretty well for himself: he didn't know a lot of guys who could communicate with his eyes, right through a mask and a visor. "It's just taking awhile. You got any more ink to show off, Snake?"

He really wasn't expecting anything—sure, Stalker's gang colors went all the way across his chest, and Clutch had tattoos all over both arms and some on his back, but Snakes really didn't seem like the kind who'd get 'em. Plus, well, he couldn't imagine what tattoo artist would really want to put a needle to a guy whose face he couldn't see, and who wouldn't—well, couldn't—talk, unless it was in writing.

Then Hector blinked as, after a long moment, Snake-Eyes nodded. Picked up a notepad, and drew, in long, fluid strokes, handing it down.

"Cool." He twisted the picture around, then righted it—it was sort of like Chinese writing, but… a lot more abstract, artsier. He knew a few symbols, but this wasn't anything he recognized, and it was twisty enough he probably wouldn't have recognized it in its normal form anyway. "Looks… Chinese. Or…" wait, the man was a ninja. "Japanese?"

A nod.

"Where?"

The dark-suited quiet commando reached over his shoulder and tapped his back, just under his neck. Shipwreck grinned. See, they communicated pretty well, even if he knew hardly any sign language.

"More clan stuff?"

Snake-Eyes shook his head.

"Just for fun?"

A shrug.

"Oh—oh, I see. Souvenir of a drunk night in Shinjuku?" Shipwreck commented, sympathetically, and reached up to pat the commando's shin. "Worth it, though, huh? I've been there, man."

This time, Snake-Eyes cocked his head. See? Anyone who could look curious right through a mask and visor, in 'Wreck's opinion, didn't need much help communicating.

Shipwreck grinned, and rolled his eyes upwards in mock-ecstasy. "Oh, you know what I'm saying, you sly dog. Those Japanese honeys, whoo, they can make a man beg!"

Stalker choked.

"Oh, man. I think Snakes is laughing at you, 'Wreck." Clutch snickered.

Huh? "What?" Shipwreck demanded—and looked up to find Snake-Eyes' chin bowed to his chest, and his shoulders shaking. "What?"

*_*_*_*

"Scarlett, my love!" Shipwreck sauntered into the training room to find his second-favorite sight in the world: Scarlett with her back to a wall, in a center split, bent forward, stretching her way out to being the world's sexiest pancake on the floor. Mmmm. Cover Girl was a sight like a freshwater shower after months of salt, no matter what she was doing, but an ultraflexible martial arts chick getting her stretch on was pretty damned close.

She mumbled out a "Hey, 'Wreck, you guys back already?"

"Yeah, an' all's well on the Southern front. Or as well as they get, anyhow." He pressed his hands to the wall and started stretching his calves, grinning as he looked sideways at Scarlett bending the rest of the way forward. There was something just incredibly hot about the fact that her shirt was riding up at the waist as she stretched out, further, further, little inches—oh, man, she really did have just the creamiest white skin right at the small of her back… wait—

"Hey! Whoa, wait, let me see—" he bent down, reached out and nudged up the back of her tank top.

Shipwreck just barely dodged the foot that almost took his nose off. Then he blocked the fist that followed it. Found his wrist aching. Huh. She was… stronger than she looked.

"What do you think you're doing, barnacle-brain?!" she yelled.

Okay, that'd been pretty cool—the girl had looks, but man, with that martial arts thing she did, she was probably almost as good as Snakes. He didn't know how she'd gone from full center split to upright, kicking, and… maybe she'd shoved off the wall somehow?

Huh, she looked pretty mad.

Just a moment too late, Shipwreck realized that lifting up a girl's shirt—even at the back—just… wasn't a good idea. "Just looking! Uh…" no, that wasn't right; hey, he'd never thought that such a pretty girl could have such a mean look in her eyes. "I mean… your tattoo, Scarlett! I was just takin' a look at your tattoo. That's a tattoo, right?"

"Yes, but most people don't consider that an invitation to take off my clothes!" she snarled, both hands on her hips.

"Oh. Okay." He nodded. Hey, he knew that. "So can I see it?"

Scarlett gave him a look that should have seared his beard right off, it was that hot. And… not in a good way. "No!"

Sheesh. Touchy, touchy. It wasn't like he'd been trying to cop a feel. "I coulda sworn…" Shipwreck paused, and edged just a little out of foot-range. Then he took an appreciative look at how long her legs were, and edged away a little more. "I mean, yeah, I'd put money on it!"

She grimaced, and tugged her shirt straight down past her waist with, he thought, way too much vehemence. What was the point of a tat if she wasn't going to show it off? "I don't know what you're talking about, but you'd put money on whether or not the sky will be red in the morning or the evening, sailor boy."

Well… yeah, okay, so she had a point, but that wasn't the issue. "I'm just sayin'. We were talking ink during some downtime, and… that's the same tattoo that Snakes has!"

"Snake-Eyes?" her red brows came together. She looked… surprised. Distracted. Thank God, he wasn't sure how much more he could have taken of her being angry. Especially if she decided to attack—being in the room with an angry Scarlett was kind of like being in the pool with an angry killer whale. "Did you see it?"

Well, he couldn't blame her for looking skeptical. Ninja clan stuff was one thing, but pretty brushstrokes on Snake's back? Too… artsy.

"I mean… well, no," he muttered. "Yeah, I know, he's not the ink kind of guy, but I swear. He drew it out—lots of jagged lines, just like that."

Scarlett's eyebrow went up. "And you're familiar with jagged lines?"

"SEAL, girl, SEAL." Shipwreck grinned. "Best in my batch at star charting—I'm good with lines. And I'm telling you, Snakes' are a different place, but it's the exact same tat."

"Oh, is it?" but there was something just a little different about Scarlett's smile. Something golden in the green of her eyes, a little curve to the side of her mouth, and suddenly, she wasn't just sexy, she was… holy shit sexy. "Well. I wouldn't know anything about that."

He was too busy standing there with his mouth hanging open and his tongue on the floor to make any more comments—and by the time he got any blood flow back to his brain, she was doing some jumping kicks. And rule number one of the training floor was, well, not to interrupt any man or woman doing anything that involved somersaults, unless he wanted to be somersaulted on.

"Yeah, it was really weird, Stalker," he commented, at dinner. "They passed each other when he was on his way in, and she was leaving. She nodded, said 'hey, welcome back,' and he nodded. Then they walked away. She didn't even ask him what all that was about!" Shipwreck shook his head, and tugged on his beard, frowning.

Stalker raised an eyebrow. "Scarlett doesn't just understand sign language, she speaks it. Would you have even known if she had asked?"

Shipwreck grunted. "Hey, I can't speak the language, but I can tell when someone's hands are goin' at it, okay? And she didn't say diddly-squat. But I know what I saw, man! Why would Red and the ninja have matching tattoos?" he rolled a pea around his plate with the tip of his fork. "I don't get it."

"'Wreck, my man," Stalker commented, wryly, "You're an idiot."

~fin~

Start: June 4, 2009
End: June 5, 2009

Silly story, I know. ^_~ I haven't really thought much about what kanji they'd have on their backs—I think it's one of those things that's better off ambiguous. Personally, even though I speak Japanese and have a fair amount of ink, I don't think I'd ever get kanji tattooed on me, but I've seen some very pretty ones...