Hi guys!!!!! *waves energetically, Snake's rolls his eyes, slurping on a smoothie I bought him* Yea, I found my ninja's weakness, strawberry blast baby!! XD Anyway, I'm sooooo sorry you all had to wait soooo long, It's been over a month!!! *slaps self on wrist* But I'm so not giving up on this story, no matter how long it takes!! Perseverance baby!! Anyway, thank you all so much again for being such wonderful people to write for. If it weren't for you grumpy over here wouldn't be getting the girl and I'd be out of a job- er, hobby. So thanks. I hope this chapter is as satisfying (or unsatisfying ;)) as the others have been, and again. You guys are great with the suggestions things, so keep the reviews and advice coming!!!!!!

Oh, as for the whole Snake Eyes shouldn't have been able to leave that quickly thing, yea. You're right. I goofed there. But I don't really want to change it, so lets chalk it up to incredible willpower for now.


The sound of Snake's body hitting the floor did not go unnoticed. His wolf, Timber, who'd been sleeping on the bed had padded over, nudging Snakes and whining softly. When his master didn't wake the wolf lay down next to him, instinctually keeping his body warm. Sensing Snakes to be in danger, Timber began to howl, a sound that was quickly heard.

Ripcord, who was on his way back from checking on Scarlett, stopped abruptly, shocked to hear an animal down in the base. He knew that the team kept some dogs, but he'd never heard a wolf before. Following the sound, the soon found himself outside a section of the barracks. Trying the door handle, he found it locked. Suddenly, a young Joe came running up, fumbling with a set of keys.

Ripcord stood in a haze, trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Why would a wolf make such a commotion if he was supposed to be there?

The Joe to his left cursed. "I forgot, Snake Eyes never lets his room key out to anyone except Hawk!"

Now Rip was really confused. "What? Sorry, but what on earth is going on??" He asked, staring at the door in front of him, the one the wolf was clearly behind.

"Snake Eyes! This is his room, and about five minutes ago he stumbled in here, looking really bad. He has a pet wolf, and if that thing's this upset, something must have happened to him." The man looked severely frustrated. "We got to get in there. Listen, you see if you can get the door open, I'm going to find Hawk." He paused, thinking "And a medic!"

Without another word, the soldier was off, leaving Ripcord with one option; kick the door in.

"Sorry man." Rip muttered, angling a ferocious side kick at the door.

His leg resounded sharply with the shock and he fell back with a cry, limping as the feeling returned to the bone. It felt like it was still vibrating.

Cursing, he tried a different approach, angling his shoulder and hips into the already weakened part of the door. Bracing himself, he rammed his yet undamaged side into the stubborn structure, this time receiving a satisfying crack for his efforts. The door was beginning to give way. Feeling sore already, but determined not to loose a fighting match to a door, Ripcord braced himself again, shouting a war cry as he attacked. This time the hinges bowed and snapped, causing him to fall into the small apartment with the door underneath him.

Body jarred from the hard landing, Ripcord gingerly got to his feet, his eyes immediately landing on the wolf in the middle of the room. Glancing at the grey fur on Snake Eye's bed covers, Rip quickly decided that the wolf was probably a pet, but still. Knowing Snakes for even a little while, Ripcord wouldn't have been surprised if the wolf only reacted kindly to him. Approaching cautiously, he prayed that Hawk would show up soon.

"Hey………I'm your pal, Ripcord…" He said, talking more to ease himself than anything. The wolf had fallen silent the moment the door had broken down, and was now regarding him with dark, predatory eyes. He swallowed. "I'm going to help your friend here……you know, the strange one that doesn't talk and must be severely color blind?"

The wolf growled softly, a paw moving to cross Snake's arm protectively.

Rip jumped back some at the growl, berating himself somewhat. He needed to see if Snake Eyes was even still alive. He couldn't tell if he was breathing- the wolf was covering him too well.

"Alright, sorry about the comment, I'm sure good old Snake has a budding artist in there somewhere, I just really gotta get to him, ok?" He almost pleaded, moving steadily forward, hands in a placating gesture. When he was close enough, he let the animal sniff them. The wolf's ears flattened back minutely, but it then removed its paw from Snake's arm, scooting over slightly.

Ripcord breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks man." Relaxing, he then moved to the side of Snake Eyes not occupied by his pet and rested his fingers on the other man's wrist.

He was alive.

Tentatively, Ripcord lay his head on the ninja's chest, listening and trying to remember the little he'd been taught in emergency procedures about abnormal heart rhythms and breathing. As far as his limited training could recall, Snake Eyes seemed stable- for now. Not daring to move the wounded man even to the rescue position, Ripcord settled for sitting next to him, keeping watch with the wolf.

Now that he and the ninja's unusual roommate had come to an understanding, Ripcord gazed around, feeling the adrenaline ebb into a throbbing pain all along his side. And his leg. He was fairly certain that Snake Eyes owed him a beer.

All around the splintered bits of damage from his forced entry were candles, the smoke wafting through the room as still hot wicks smoldered. The scent made him think unwittingly of a code, and a land, worlds apart from his. Seeing the ritualistic nature in which Snake's naked sword lay in front of him, he sobered.

Snake Eyes had much more to him than he'd thought. Somehow he gained new respect for his sometimes annoyingly strange teammate.

His thoughts were broken by the welcome arrival of Hawk and a medic; both of whom looked winded. That meant a lot for two army conditioned men; they must have been halfway across base.

Approaching first, Hawk knelt down and immediately began massaging the wolf's ears and head, causing the animal to relax and lower it's hackles submissively. Still calming the animal, Hawk nodded to the medic and then turned to Rip.

"How is he?" His voice was quiet, worried. But not surprised.

"He's alive, I wasn't sure what to do beyond check up on him."

Hawk nodded. "You did good son."

Ripcord stared. What was it about this one soldier that seemed to command awe and respect from everyone who knew him? Even Hawk seemed to treat him like an old friend, one that he'd gone through hardship with. Hardship that seemed to have its own level. Somehow Snake Eyes was always above them.

It didn't seem like it sometimes, when he would actually crack a joke or join in an arm wrestling contest, but there was a very complex soul housed within his now weakening body.

Hawk straightened up, letting the medic have room. He signaled Ripcord to do the same. "Come on. I have work to get to and you should go check on Scarlett, make sure she's alright."

Ripcord suddenly forgot how his body was aching. "Why wouldn't she be alright??"

"Calm down, she saved Snake Eye's life almost a hour ago, but his revival came as quite a shock and she passed out. I took her to her quarters- I'm sure she could use some company when she wakes up." Hawk gave him a meaningful glance.

Ripcord nodded, striding away quickly.

It didn't take him long to reach Scarlett's quarters, but once he got there, he cursed inwardly. He hadn't known her long enough to get a key from her, and he certainly was not going to break her door down. Unsure of what else to do, he knocked, wincing in the chance that she might be asleep. When there was no answer he sighed, debating on whether to wait or risk waking her and knock louder. Deciding against the latter, he slid down to sit in front of her room, rubbing his sore shoulder absently as the seconds crawled by. He really hated not knowing if she was well or not.

Inside the apartment, Scarlett tossed in a fitful sleep. Flashes of blood and poison danced across her vision, and the blindingly white costume of Storm Shadow was a frequent haunt in her fevered mind. Over and over she would see him strike Snake Eyes down; her imagination filling in for what she never actually witnessed.

The plain was dark, empty, flat. Cool stone was beneath her feet, and the scent of cherry blossoms was thick on the air.

A figure approached from the side, dark, humble, but unbelievably powerful. His presence forbade her break the silence.

Then his challenger would arrive. Storm Shadow. The very mockery of every thing Snake Eyes stood for.

White to black.

Good to evil.

Blood to mercy.

Warmth to bitter cold.

Scarlett shivered. She'd been here before; and the outcome sat in the pit of her stomach like a bitter poison. She wanted to shout, to warn him, to tell him not to go- but she never could. Her feet would suddenly be bound in place and her voice would be stolen from her.

Only to be returned in time for the death blow.

In time for her scream.

That was when it was too late. When the flash of white would be just a little too fast and the silver blade would run with rivulets of liquid ruby.

Snake Eyes would stagger, the sword cleft perfectly through his heart, and then he would fall, Storm Shadow's sneer of hatred and satisfaction visible through his mask. Snake Eyes would turn his head with his last breath, his hand reaching out to Scarlett as the light died in his eyes. She could never actually see his eyes directly, but even through the mask she could sense the exact moment when he gave up.

Cruelly, Storm Shadow would then look at her, sensing she was helpless- his lip curling in pleasure. Knowing she could see every movement, he cut Snake's robes open, revealing his bare skin. With a last glance at Scarlett, Storm Shadow would carve into Snake's chest, slowly.

Deliberately.

When he was done, his clothes would be stained with his brother's precious lifeblood, and he would spit on him, turning and going his way.

Only then would Scarlett be able to move. She would fall to her knees, sobbing. Crawl over to her friend's mangled corpse, and stare down at the bloody symbol.

The symbol of the Arashikage clan.


Still good? I hope so. *glances over at Snakes, who is happily letting Timber lick the slushy out of the cup* Well, at least HE is good. *sigh* I would have written more so you guys could be repaid for all your patience, but this is all I got for now and it was a good stopping place. *goes to buy another smoothy, just to keep him happy* See you guys soon!