Summary: Where does everyone go for the best gossip? Some companies have a water cooler. The Joes have... a gym.

"Nice rep, Red," Duke congratulated Scarlett, dropping a towel on her abdomen as she lowered the bench press barbell back to its holder with a small 'ooof.' "You know… you've been working out a lot lately. Beach Head busting your ass?"

"If Beach Head wasn't busting ass, it would be a sad, sad day for the Joes, Duke," she laughed, picking up the towel and mopping her face with it. He grinned as she left it draped over her forehead. When she was all spit and polish in a long dress or her dress uniform, she was sophisticated, elegant, poised—but this was the woman he recognized, sweat blurring her trademark red hair to almost burgundy. "No… not everyone's favorite ad for deodorant." They both glanced over in the direction of the weight bench and dumbbells—and laughed when they met each others' eyes again. "No, it's Snake-Eyes."

Duke felt his eyebrows rise. "Snake-Eyes?"

"Trust me," she replied, and he wasn't even sure if it was a grimace or a laugh on her face. "In a lot of ways, he's worse than Beach."

"Is that even possible?" Duke asked, dryly. The whole PT thing aside, he'd once heard of Beach making some recruits scrub the barracks with a sparkly, purple gel pen. A leaky one. No-one had dared to ask where the thing had come from.

Scarlett snorted, and sat up, scrubbing the towel across the back of her neck. "Beach would yell and howl and force me to run laps and slog through obstacle courses and clean toilets with a romance novel, or something. That's easy."

Duke was pretty sure that generations of Joes and Ranger trainees would probably beg to differ with her, but… "Uh-huh?"

"Yeah, I know what you're thinking, wise guy, and no, I have no plans of ever letting Beach know I said that," but the smile on her face was genuine, not annoyed. "Snakes' idea of training is… different." He watched her wince at the memory, rubbing her leg. "Try doing a spinning hook kick over and over and over until you get the angle just right—and then just as you think you're done, he stares at you, and insists you do the exact same thing with the other leg. And then keeps you doing them until they're automatic."

"That sounds pretty bad, but not too bad," Duke admitted. He had no idea what a spinning hook kick was, but he'd seen some of the acrobatics that those two routinely pulled off when they were training together—in some ways, it was more physically strenuous than even Beach's PT. Mentally, though… "I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd rather deal with extended training with Snake-Eyes than with Beach Head getting in their faces…"

Scarlett gave him a look that was all wry amusement and flickering green eyes. "Yes, maybe. I generally do. Except for one thing."


"Snake-Eyes doesn't yell. Obviously. And I do a damned fine spinning hook kick already." She flashed that grin of hers, fierce and white, the kind of smile Duke couldn't not answer. "But he's teaching me to use it as a block. So that means every time the angle isn't quite perfect or my timing's a little off… it means I don't get to block." That time, it definitely was a grimace that crossed her face. She raised a hand to her ribs, almost involuntarily. "He's not hitting too hard, but I think I've got bruises on my bruises."

Duke felt his eyebrows jump upwards, right into his hairline. Yes, he had to admit, Scarlett and Snakes definitely had the weirdest relationship of any couple he'd ever met. "Oh." He wasn't going to ask her if she was okay—he'd learned through hard experience just not to question what went on between the two of them, because they both just ended up giving him odd looks—but… "That's where that shiner last week came from."

She sighed, and sat up, reaching for her water bottle. "Yeah, that one was my own fault. I was being lazy, and when he shoved me mid-kick, I unbalanced right into him. It was pretty bad."

Scarlett could hold her own—even against Snake-Eyes. He was pretty sure of that.

Still, though. By this point he was pretty used to the idea of female soldiers, or at least female Joes, but… the idea of one of them walking around with a black eye from some supposedly friendly fire didn't strike him quite right. "The man's got insane control, Scarlett…" Duke pointed out. "Doesn't he pull his strikes?"

This time, Scarlett pulled the towel off her head and gave him… yup, there was that odd 'what are you talking about, man?' look. "He could. But I'd kill him if he held back a hit."

Yeah. Well. That explained everything. Right.

"Don't look so freaked, Duke, it was just a black eye. I got some of my own back." She smirked. Duke coughed to try and hide his chuckle—he didn't know any other woman who'd react that way to being clocked in the face by her boyfriend, training session or not. "I'm fine, and I'll be a better fighter for it by the time I'm done wanting to stick his head into the toilet."

"You actually think about that?" Duke asked, a little intrigued. He obviously didn't know the commando that well… almost no-one did. But he was pretty damned sure that most people—even a lot of the Joes—found him intimidating. There was something, well, a little untouchable about him. He could definitely count on the fingers of zero hands the number of friendlies, Scarlett aside, who could even imagine doing anything to Snakes that he didn't want done to him. There was a reason Shipwreck called the man "the biggest can of whoop-ass we've got in our cupboard."

But their counterintelligence agent just laughed, tossing her head back—her hair clung to her neck and her face, and she swiped at it impatiently with one hand. "Trust me, there are times when I really, really want to short-sheet his bed."

And… she probably could get into Snake's room to do just that. But that was something that almost no-one ever mentioned. Almost no-one. Duke raised a challenging eyebrow at her. "You know, I'd think that… I don't know, that in general he'd be a little easier on you."

But her mouth curved in a smile that was as sly as it was lovely—there was a definite saucy glint of audacity in her eyes. Sure, as First Shirt of this outfit, he wasn't supposed to know what was going on with her and Snake-Eyes. But there were a whole lot of 'supposed tos' in this situation, and Shana O'Hara was a Hell of a lot smarter than she generally let on.

"You know what really bites?" Scarlett stood up from the bench and draped the towel around her neck. "I've got this sinking feeling he is taking it easy on me."

Duke shook his head as Scarlett strode off to the mat corner for her cool-down. Yeah. Yeah, Snakes and Scarlett had probably been together forever—they had that vibe about them, like an old married couple with just that faintest edge of more to them—but walking anywhere near that particular relationship was a little like starting reading from the middle of a book. Or standing too close to an electric fence.

He headed over to the water cooler for a drink, and was unsurprised to find himself smiling as Scarlett stretched upwards towards the ceiling, extending her back, her long legs looking even longer and leaner in those little soccer shorts that she wore when she was working out.

Yeah, he wasn't going to poke that relationship with a stick anytime soon. It didn't mean that he couldn't enjoy the view, though.

But as he glanced around, he realized he definitely wasn't the only one watching.

"What are you looking at, corporal?" he asked, curiously. True, this batch of greenshirts was particularly new—new enough that he was pretty sure their first hand-to-hand class was today—but… most of them weren't at the gym this early in the morning. But then again, most of them weren't baby-faced enough to look like they needed tweezers rather than a razor to shave with: this particular kid probably worked out the way he did to keep from being mistaken for one of the chaplain's assistants.

"Sir?" The tall corporal, in BDU pants and a black T-shirt that strained over his arms tried—and failed—to rip his eyes away from a certain redhead. Duke struggled not to smirk. "Oh… nothing, sir."

Duke grinned, and leaned back against the mirror, crossing his arms. "She's pretty, huh?"

"I… uh… well…" Scarlett bent over double to stretch out her legs, and Duke chuckled as the greenshirt had to work to remember how his tongue functioned. Thank God he, personally, was used to her, the way she moved—the way she dressed, in that tank top and shorts, when she was in the gym. The first time he'd seen her stretching out, it'd been in his first week as First Sergeant for the Joes… damned embarrassing.

Actually, embarrassing didn't really cover it. Scarlett had walked in and grabbed the ballet bar to start stretching her back—presenting him with a full-on view of probably one of the finest sets of ass and legs that God had put on the Earth, bar none. With the very edges of her shorts riding… up. And since she'd been facing the mirror, and wearing a tank top—Hell.

He'd almost dropped a fully loaded bench press bar onto his chest. Thank God he'd had a spotter. 'Wreck had practically turned the air blue with his curses when he'd caught the barbell, bobbling it, before hauling it back into the stand.

And then after he was done apologizing to the SEAL, Duke'd found Stalker looking at him across the room with a very distinctive smirk on his face. The memory still made him wince. Yeah. Not exactly the way he'd wanted to start off his relationship with his Joes.

Then 'Lonzo had shrugged, and grinned, and clapped him on the shoulder. It was with the utmost sympathy that he'd said, "Happens to all of us once, man. Just keep your hands to yourself—well, if you want to keep your hands—and you'll be fine."

Damned fine advice. Especially once he'd met Snake-Eyes.

"No? Not the right adjective?" Duke murmured, wryly. Oh, now she was moving into those long splits that she made look so easy—and so damned sexy. He really did consider this one of his favorite parts of the day.

"She's spectacular, sir." There was real admiration in the kid's voice—well, he couldn't blame him. But then his voice… changed. "It's… it's just… why is she here?"

Duke felt his smile quirking at the edges at the kid's tone. Oh, uh-oh, here they went again. Most batches of greenshirts had already heard the stories about the redheaded sergeant—the one that no-one thought had a bad side until that bad side hit them with an axe kick, and no, Duke wasn't referring to Snake-Eyes. But every so often, someone felt the need to push. Or shove. Luckily, Scarlett hadn't seen the kid staring.

It wasn't that Duke thought that she minded men looking at her—she didn't. But… she was friendly, and if someone was looking at her, well, she was going to come and talk to them. Her looks aside, she'd have been just incredible as a spokesperson, a recruiter.

Their reactions to her coming over for a "Hey, welcome!" chat really were amazing. A good ninety-ten split. Ninety percent of the new greenshirts were perfectly pleasant and polite and walked away with smiles on their faces from how nice Scarlett was… and ten percent of them opened their mouths, let the garbage spew out, and… well. In a word, wham. Not always physical, either: it was as awe-inspiring as it was terrifying, watching her emasculate a man with words alone.

There was a running pool going on about it, actually: how long it'd take before Scarlett—accidentally, or otherwise—did something lethal to one of the stupider ones. Duke's bet was on 'probably never,' considering she hadn't killed the young idiot who'd decided that running his hands over that tempting rear was okay—the kid had ended up with walking papers, not a death sentence—but… hey, you never know.

"What do you mean, 'why is she here,' Corporal…" he glanced at the boy's tags, "…Prestosa?" Duke heard the chill formality in his own voice. Yes, of course he admired Scarlett's looks—and she was one of the scariest, deadliest operatives of any military agency in the world because of them, not despite them. And if the kid thought that pulling out the machismo crap would earn him brownie points, he was going to be unpleasantly surprised. "That woman is a Sergeant of the United States Army, and a card-carrying G.I. Joe."

"I mean… I guess. She's Intelligence, right?" Technically, yes, Scarlett was, but… the corporal really had no idea, did he. It was almost amazing. The kid couldn't even rip his eyes off Scarlett while he was spewing shit out of the wrong hole—Psyche-Out would probably have had a field day analyzing him. "But why do you even bother spotting for her, sir? Isn't it a waste of your time? Little arms like hers, you could probably spot her with one hand."

Duke raised an eyebrow at the sneer crossing the boy's face. Maybe, but maybe not … considering that Scarlett typically bench-pressed more than her own weight. The kid's eyes had probably gotten stuck on her chest and never made it to her arms and the barbell.

"Maybe you can spot for her next time," he suggested. A lot of even the most malignant greenshirts tended to tone down once they got to know her a little better. Well, after she'd softened up their hard heads some. Yeah, it was going to be an interesting session when the kid marched into hand-to-hand later in the afternoon and found out exactly who his instructor was going to be.

There was a long moment of silence. Then Corporal Prestosa laughed a hearty laugh, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Oh! Good one, sir!" he grinned, a white flash of teeth and good-ol'-boy humor. "No, sir, there are other things I'd rather do with her on her back. But she won't be wearing those little running shorts when I spread her legs, that's for sure!"

Duke felt his eyes widen in shock, and found himself actually speechless—maybe he'd just forgotten what the 'traditional' military was like, because… yeah. He was still shaking his head in utter disbelief when the corporal headed off to the machines. He couldn't believe it--the man was still chuckling.

Yeah, it'd been awhile since Duke had heard anything quite like that. Mostly because the Joe girls were feminine, very female, but they just weren't… girly, not when and where it counted. He'd been hit by one of Scarlett's kicks to the head, once, early on. He'd woken up in the infirmary.

He'd been wearing a helmet. She hadn't been going full-force.

Yeah, it was going to be one of those days where they had to get blood out of the training mats again.

Duke scratched his head. Well… kid's gotta learn sometime. He started his stretches and his own cool-down, then turned to reach for his towel—

Found Snake-Eyes standing no more than a few arms'-lengths behind him, dressed in his black skin-suit, mask up, visor on, arms crossed.

Almost—almost—jumped. Jesus!

Duke actually didn't find the ninja creepy, the way some of the new recruits did. Or at least not anymore. Snake was private enough, but he just couldn't help being as quiet as he was, could he? For all his secrets, he was solid through and through—incredibly dependable in a fight, and loyal all the way down. But his habit of silently appearing wherever he damned well chose was a little unnerving, sometimes.

Duke really hadn't believed in ninja before he'd met Snake—and, truthfully, even after hearing the moniker a few times, he'd thought it was just a nickname that the troops had given the quiet commando.

Then he'd actually seen the guy fight.

Most days, he was just glad that Snake-Eyes was on their side.

"Just so you know, Snake, you're going to have your hands full, later," Duke informed him, quietly. "Red's going to be mad."

Then Duke had to grin as Snake-Eyes looked up at the ceiling, like he was praying for patience… and, quite audibly, the ninja sighed. Yeah—it had taken awhile, but that was kind of how Duke had figured out that the commando and the redhead were close. Any mention of Scarlett got more expression out of Snake-Eyes than even the nastiest warzone ever did.

For the most part, though, the Team Supreme were very discreet—which he appreciated; having to explain to the higher-ups how he was letting them flout fraternization regs under his nose was not a conversation he ever wanted to have. Hawk probably didn't care, but Duke didn't think "Sir, with all due respect, you try to pry them apart!" would go over very well with the rest of the brass.

Finally, Snake signed, slowly, [What happened?]

In Snake-Eyes-speak, that was like asking where Scarlett had hidden the bodies, so he could help bury them. True, he thought that Snakes was a damned lucky man, in a lot of ways. Duke, like every other red-blooded male who met her, he was sure, had toyed with the idea of what it might be like, being with Scarlett, but… no, not really. Not after seeing the slow, lovely way she looked at Snake when she thought no-one was watching. And definitely not after the first time he'd seen her lose her temper.

Still, Duke grinned, reluctantly. It was really too bad he had a meeting to go to that afternoon—he didn't envy Snake-Eyes the task of trying to calm down a furious redhead, but watching said furious redhead taking down someone on the practice mats was… oh, pure, silk-and-ribbons poetry. "Nothing yet," he muttered under his breath, gesturing with his chin over to the culprit. "Just… let's just say that we've got a live one on deck, and Scarlett's probably going to be doing the masochism tango with him this afternoon."

Snake-Eyes glanced over at the tall, young corporal sitting at the leg press, then shrugged a dismissal. [Why?]

"Poor kid's got the serious hots for her," Duke shook his head, regretfully.

[That happens all the time,] Snake-Eyes pointed out, shoulders relaxed. [She'll set him straight.]

Yes, it did, and yes, she probably would. Most of the time, she even did it gently. It was one of the saving graces of the Joes that Snake-Eyes, for all intents and purposes, seemed to have no concept of jealousy—thank God, Duke couldn't even imagine what a disaster that would have been. The Generals would have figured out something was going on, all right… there was no way they could have hidden that many bodies.

It was one of the many reasons that Duke really didn't feel all that guilty watching Scarlett doing her stretching: the view was amazing, and if Scarlett didn't mind, and Snakes didn't care, why not enjoy it?

"Yeah, but… not a lot of greenshirts come in saying that the only place Scarlett belongs is on her back with legs spread, Snakes," he retorted, dryly.

Snake-Eyes, for a moment, was very, very still… and the silence coming from him was… more profound than usual.

Oh. Huh. It made Duke like the guy a little better: okay, so maybe Snake didn't care about guys admiring Scarlett, but someone actually insulting his girlfriend made him mad. Good to know.

"It's almost funny, really?" Duke offered, after a long, awkward second. Hard to tell, behind the visor, but he actually wasn't sure that commando was even blinking. He certainly wasn't breathing.

[Oh?] Snake cocked his head.

He couldn't read the man the way Stalker and Scarlett could, but at least the movement of his hands was fluid, and his stance was still… as relaxed as Snake-Eyes ever got, anyway. Duke shrugged. "I mean, I expect that that kid is going to be hurting so badly after hand-to-hand, he's never even going to be able to look at Scarlett again without curling up in pain. Right?"

[Yes,] Snake-Eyes replied, finally, after a long, thoughtful pause. [I agree.]

When he paced off, though, there was something about the way he was moving that made the short hairs on the back of Duke's neck prickle—just a little bit.

"Does he know how not to be intense?" he muttered, scratching the back of his head in a vain effort to get those hairs to lie down flat again.

"That'd be a 'negative,' Top," he glanced over to find Shipwreck leaning against a deadlift brace, towel draped over his neck, beard damp with sweat. "Didn't want to interrupt your chat with the ninja man, but… uh… Duke? I mean, yeah, the kid's a moron, but isn't siccing the ninja on him a little harsh?"

Duke reached over for his own towel. "Hey, we've got to watch out for our own, 'Wreck--Snake's a pro, but every man needs an early warning system. You know that when this happens, Scarlett comes out from hand-to-hand spoiling for a fight."

Shipwreck gave him a funny, sideways look. "Top... Scarlett's training us. So she's not on greenshirt hand-to-hand duty this week."

She wasn't? Which meant… Duke looked past 'Wreck to where Snake-Eyes had disappeared, that edge of violent grace in his walk, his shoulders high and straight.

There was a long, long moment of uneasy silence between him and Shipwreck, rich with understanding.

Oh, fuck.

Duke pressed the headache that was starting at his temples. Okay, now he was kind of glad that he had a meeting this afternoon. It was one thing to tell Scarlett's boyfriend—who generally let Scarlett handle her own problems—that a corporal had said something about her that more than bordered on sexual harassment. It was… kind of another thing to tell the greenshirts' hand-to-hand instructor—who definitely did care, apparently—that.

Which was screwed up by any definition, but that was just how the Joes went.

But, yeah, he'd meant well, but that had been a definite tactical error… especially keeping in mind his recent conversation with Scarlett. Snake-Eyes' definition of 'easy' was… what, again? And Duke thought he might have just accidentally given Snake not-so-tacit permission to maim the poor little bastard.

"Damn," Duke sighed, thinking of the piles of paperwork already on his desk. The kid would more likely than not have been a washout anyway, but that wasn't the same set of forms to fill out as someone quitting. "Prestosa's going to be begging to go back to his squad by the end of the week."

"With how he was looking at her?" 'Wreck was grinning when he pulled his beanie back on, adjusting it jauntily. "No way. His mouth's saying the stupid thing, but his body's saying the stupider thing. Being beat up on by Snake-Eyes'll just strengthen his resolve, just you watch."

"Yeah? That like being kicked by Cover Girl strengthen your resolve, squid?" Duke raised an eyebrow. Hector's attempts at Courtney weren't just legendary, he was surprised that she hadn't broken bone a time or two. Or at least a rib.

Shipwreck chuckled, unabashed, and took a swig out of his water bottle. "You know it, Top."

"Not much resolve to start with, then. If I hear it told, you gave up chasing after her after… you know." Yet another frat reg violation, but Duke had been so surprised and entertained at it that, Hell, the generals could say what they liked, but someone was going to get hurt if they protested. If they even believed it, come to think. The two weren't public about it, either, but the word had gone around fast: no-one, but no-one, had better mess with Cover Girl.

Courtney had been pretty pissed about it, too, much to all of their amusement.

"Hey, what can I say, I'm a gentleman," Hector protested.

Duke tried not to snort too loudly. "Pretty sure there's no 'G' in Sea, Air, and Land, 'Wreck."

Shipwreck grumbled. "So what if I don't want to be doing push-ups on my knuckles until the second coming of Christ? It's an abuse of power, if you ask me."

This time, Duke didn't even attempt to shortchange his snort. "And you still think Corporal Prestosa's going to keep wanting to hang out with us, after Snakes makes him a bloody smear on the dojo floor? When even you gave up panting after Court because of the threat of PT from Hell?"

With a startling amount of dignity, Shipwreck raised his chin and smiled. "You kidding? I heard what the kid said about Scarlett. Mark my words, Prestosa's hanging in for the long run. Not even I was stupid enough to think that Courtney belonged anywhere but in her tank."

Duke considered this, frowning and running a hand across his chin. "'Wreck, that doesn't even make sense."

Shipwreck shrugged, shoulders twitching underneath his tank top. "Didn't say that it made sense. I'm just sayin' that's how it is. That greenie might not make the cut—that's out of his hands. But someone that dumb's not gonna let himself get hazed out."

Obviously, 'Wreck hadn't been spending enough time in the dojo with Snake-Eyes. Duke glanced sideways at the SEAL, and grinned, holding out a hand. Hector made it so easy sometimes. "Willing to put money on that, Hector? Twenty dollars?"

"Hah! You're on." Shipwreck seized his hand and pumped it firmly. "That boy's running on pure balls and hormones, and just you watch, when he gets knocked down, hormones'll drag him right back up by the scruff of his neck."

"I don't know what kind of hormones you have, 'Wreck," Duke retorted, leaning back again and crossing his arms. "But I'm pretty sure my hormones aren't an annoyed mama dog—"

"Oh, man. Speak of the angel," Hector interrupted in a low murmur, and the open longing in his voice actually made Duke look where the Navy SEAL's eyes were pointing. "Oh, yeah, look at that. There's a good wind blowing in the sails today."

Courtney was less Duke's type than Shana was—she was more willow than girl-next-door, for one: taller, statuesque, more sleek than she was sexy. Even when she was covered in grease up to her elbows, Cover Girl had a kind of distance to her, a certain elegant poise, that Scarlett didn't.

Physically, at least—then she opened her mouth. He'd been very impressed by the way she could curse, and then downright freaked out by the way the woman could drive.

Duke freely admitted that Courtney was an incredible tank operator, but behind the wheel, she just plain terrified him. Just as he freely admitted there weren't a lot of things in this world that scared him, much less terrified him.

But in yoga pants and the same army-issue tank top as Scarlett was wearing, Cover Girl was all long lines and runway stride, with that coppery hair swinging behind her in a tousled ponytail. And when she stopped to talk to Scarlett, grinning, he could hear them laughing all the way across the gym. Shana bumped Courtney with a playful shoulder—their tank driver snatched their counterintel agent's towel and dropped it over Shana's eyes.

Duke smiled, and shook his head, watching them head for the treadmills. They liked to run together—Scarlett stretching her legs to make up for Cover Girl's stride, Cover Girl pushing to match Scarlett's endurance. Forget Helen of Troy—now there is a sight to send a man to war for his country.

"Tongue back into your mouth, sailor," Duke didn't have to look behind him to know that it needed saying. Shana didn't mind being stared at. Courtney, bizarrely, actually did. "Unless you've got a death wish, too?"

"There are days I think it's almost worth it, you know?" Shipwreck sighed, regretfully.

Duke smirked, and glanced over his shoulder to find Hector stroking his beard contemplatively. "You want to say that just a little more loudly?"

"I said almost, Top." Hector's hand dropped from his face, and he shrugged, mouth curved ruefully. "What can I say? Jaye's feisty, Scarlett's fun, but... former model who can drive a tank, rework a car, and shoot a laser pistol? You telling me that doesn't do it for you?"

Duke had his mouth open to retort when Corporal Prestosa let go of the triceps pull bar with a loud, rattling clang. Duke closed his mouth and turned with a frown—most people, by the time they made it to Joe training, knew how to treat gym equipment right. Admittedly, some guys found Cover Girl even more distracting than they found Scarlett, but—

"What is with all the chirpies trying to grow balls around here?" the greenshirt's voice was half sneer, half gripe. And neither half was soft.

Around him, Duke watched as every G.I. Joe in hearing froze for just an instant, as synchronized as a morning team run with a drill sergeant snapping the verbal whip from the rear. Just a momentary bubble of absolutely perfect silence, broken only by the chatter from the TVs above the treadmills, and the cheerful grunts and chatter from the people fortunate enough to be out of the blast radius.

Shana and Courtney were both out of earshot, which was good. Snake-Eyes was out of the gym… which was better.

Duke looked over his shoulder again at Shipwreck. Found Hector's eyes so wide the whites were showing, and his eyebrows were buried under his blue skull cap. Wondered if his own eyebrows were doing the same.

Both of their eyes drifted over to where Wayne was slowly, methodically, doing biceps curls. Their drill sergeant was the single person in hearing—and he was very much in hearing, considering that the weight benches and barbells were one machine over from the triceps pull—who hadn't stopped what he was doing. He hadn't even slowed in his careful, methodical routine. Yeah. Very Beach Head.

But Master Sergeant Wayne Sneeden's brown eyes were suddenly golden-sharp, fixed on the corporal, and the expression on his normally hard face was… actually… actually, it was the facial equivalent of watching Snake-Eyes walk out of the gym with graceful murder in his step.

Biceps curl up… down. Up… down.

Kind of like watching the countdown on a nuclear missile, really.

"…I guess it's not a fair bet anymore, huh?" Duke murmured, regretfully.

"Nuh-uh, Top. Oh, Hell, no. All bets are off," Shipwreck agreed, vehemently.

"The kid's dead?"

"Yeah, the kid's dead."


Start: June 2, 2009
End: June 3, 2009

About the title: there are several kinds of muscle contractions—isotonic contractions are one of them, in which the muscle shortens as it contracts. Yes, I'm done with my dork moment for the day…

So what is it about these silly little day-in-the-life stories that makes them so much fun to write? I really wonder. –laugh- A turning hook kick is also known as a jumping turning long kick, a tornado kick, a spinning heel kick, etc.