Relaxing day off.
The GI Joe psychologist needs some time to unwind and relax.. and he's got a good idea of how to do it.
Psyche-Out shook out his climbing rope and looked up the cliff face. He'd finally had enough of the stress and headaches of trying to drag things out of his patients. He'd known it would be a difficult assignment, to work with the GI Joe team. General Hawk had warned him further, telling him in no uncertain terms that he'd be under-appreciated, and that the team was remarkably close-mouthed around strangers.
There was the major rub. He was a stranger, even though he was one of the team. Everyone meshed so well together, despite occasional dust-ups between individuals. Except him. He had to maintain a professional distance, or completely lose any effectiveness as a psychologist for the group. The close camaraderie bound the team together into one of the best fighting groups ever assembled.... with him on the outside. Even Doc and Lifeline were part of them. And while the other medical professionals tried to be there for him, it wasn't the same as the good-natured bantering between the rest of the team.
He sighed. He was being morose and digging a hole of misery for himself. He would cycle downward as he would focus on what he didn't have, and not see the good things. Instead he should focus on the good things. Getting to work with a diverse group, that were pretty darned healthy mentally, and in superb shape physically. He got to go into the field on occasion, something he'd never be allowed anywhere else. And on occasion he would take a day off to treat himself.
Alpine had mentioned climbing in the messhall, and Psyche-Out immediately struck up a conversation, being an avid climber himself. When he'd learned of nearby cliffs that were practically tailor made for free-climbing, he'd started making plans to go himself. Waiting until he needed a real treat of a day, he finally had had enough and decided to go out and take a day to just climb and be one with the rock face.
He checked his harness again. Making sure each strap was properly tight, without being uncomfortable, and being sure his chalk bag was accessible hanging from his belt in back, and finally checking that the mouth of the pitons bag was open enough for his hand to dip in easily, the loop of caribeeners was hanging exactly the way he wanted it to... finally ready to climb. This would be a good day. He honestly loved climbing, and the cliffs here were just difficult to be a good climb. He reached for the first likely handhold and began to ease himself upwards.
Twenty minutes, and he drove in a piton, clipping onto it with his safety rope. The bright sunlight warmed the rock underneath him, and he sweated just a little. It was a perfect day. The silence was broken by whispers of breeze flowing through nearby forest, and birds that sang loudly. He heard the occasional helicopter fly nearby, or the roar of a jet, but he was just far enough away to make it a oddly long hike to get to here. That meant he would be undisturbed by Joe's on training runs, and joggers and endurance runners would be unlikely to make the journey.
"Gorgeous... this is the best day." He smiled at his own whimsy in talking to himself while climbing and stretched to grip the next bit of out-thrust granite. Lifting himself carefully, he pushed his toes against his left foothold, pausing while he put his full weight onto the new handhold, until he was certain it would hold. Then it was another reach and grip with his other hand, stepping out to a slightly awkward foothold to his right. He eased his way up the cliff face, happy with his speed. He didn't brag to Alpine who was a professional climber, but he was pretty respectable in his own skills too.
Hearing a slight rustle, he turned to look downward at the cliff he'd already gone up. Other than his left behind climbing pitons, and his dangling rope, there was nothing there. Shaking his head, he decided it was nothing, and moved upwards another ten feet. At this point he'd have to go sideways, as the face began to overhang a bit more than was comfortable to climb.
There was that rustle of sound again... he twisted to his right, looking down under himself. Sheer cliff, warming up under the midday sunlight. The breeze picked up slightly and he turned his face to the left to let it cool him. He looked directly into dark eyes looking back at him with curiosity.
"AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" One eyebrow raised in surprise and he grabbed tighter to his handholds as he almost slipped.
"Are you okay?" The redclad Jinx tilted her head. "You've been hanging here a while, so I figured I better come make sure you weren't stuck."
Psyche-Out closed his eyes a moment, resting his cheek against the rock. "Jinx.. you scared the beejebus out of me. What are you doing up here? And.. where's your climbing harness?"
She grinned at him. "Harness? Really? We're ninjas, and this is a pock-marked granite cliff. We hardly need safety equipment to practice climbing on it." As if to prove her point, Kamakura scuttled up past her, then turned slightly sideways to look at him with bright curiosity.
He looked at Jinx, then at the psychologist. "Is he stuck? Sensei has rope, I could tie it to him. I'm strong enough to hold his weight, I don't think you should try to hold him Jinx. You're very small compared to him."
Jinx scowled. "Stop calling me small. I can hold his weight just as well as you can." He smirked at her, and crawled backwards out of her reach. "You better back up.."
He chuckled. "I just don't want you to pull me off the cliff when you fall off trying to save Psyche-Out."
Now she growled and pointed at Psyche-Out. "I can carry his weight easy! I've been training since I was five years old! I'll show you small!"
Psyche-Out himself was beginning to wonder if he'd fallen off and struck his head, the conversation was getting a little too surreal. "I don't need carried anywhere, by either of you. And why are you up here? You should both have harnesses on! And be roped together for safety!"
He was given two nearly identical pitying looks. Kamakura backed upwards, so he was head-down in orientation. "We're doing climbing training. Why are you up here?"
Trying not to get nauseous watching the younger ninja hanging upside down, he sighed. "I'm having a day off, climbing by myself to enjoy." He gasped as Jinx suddenly twisted herself around and crawled downwards in a hurry. "Be careful!!"
Kamakura gave him a polite smile, still dangling himself off the cliff face without worry. "Jinx is fine, she's going down to ask Sensei for the best way to help you up here." He lowered his voice. "She is very good at climbing, but I am better. Sensei says so every time we train."
Gritting his teeth, Psyche-Out tried to keep a even tone. "That's very nice. I don't need any help though. I'm doing just fine on my own. I'm an experienced climber."
Now Kamakura blinked at him in confusion. "Umm.. okay. So.. hmm.." He lifted his head to shout downwards. "HE SAYS HE'S FINE!" He watched down the cliff for a second. "Sensei wants me.. I'll be right back." With a speed that made the doctor think he'd turned loose and fallen, the young ninja scuttled down the cliff face like the fictional Spiderman.
Psyche-out twisted to watch him crawl at a high rate of speed face-first down the cliff, something he'd only seen stunt climbers do, and even then never that quickly. "Good lord... they are ninja geckos." He shook his head and took a deep breath, turning back to the cliff face under his hands, as the ninja's disappeared from view. Peace and quiet. Sun, breeze, and rock. He climbed another twenty feet upwards, angling off to his right quite a bit to take advantage of the slight slope that made it easier for him. When he paused to drive in a new piton, he was suddenly passed by on both his right and left by Kamakura and Jinx. The young ninjas swarmed up the cliff at speed, making him feel foolishly overcautious. However, he was a psychologist, not a ninja, or even a ninja-in-training. He would use his pitons, and safety rope. Turning, he slipped his hammer back into place on his belt and twisted to get more chalk and came face-to-face with the black visored visage of Snake Eyes.
"Whoa!!" He grabbed at his handhold, feeling himself tip backward away from the rock face. A hand touched the center of his back, and gently pushed him back forward into safety. "Oh my god... " He gripped the small protrusion and swallowed twice before he turned to look at the man hanging beside him easily by a hand and a toehold. "Thanks. You startled me."
One hand came up and signed easily. *Your welcome, are you sure you don't need some help?* The jawline under the cloth mask seemed to twist just a little bit. Was he smiling at him?
Psyche-Out shook his head. "I'm perfectly fine." He watched an expressive shrug, and the well-muscled ninja climbed upwards at a moderate pace. He felt a bit better about his own lack of speed, until he noticed that Snake Eyes paused at regular intervals to sign instructions at his apprentices, sometimes climbing while signing with one hand. "I'm a good climber, I really am, it's not fair that they're part gecko."
He watched Kamakura come scuttling back down headfirst to him, stopping just above him in the most precarious position ever. "Are you certain you wouldn't prefer me to help you? I can carry your weight quite easily."
He gritted his teeth. "No. I'm fine." The apprentice seemed doubtful. "Go on, go catch up. Jinx will reach the summit before you." Now he was treated to a huge boyish grin. "What?"
The grin widened. "We've already been to the top, we're just practicing things like going down, and moving sideways while carrying weight, and still being soundless." He went sideways and twisted himself around upright to hang next to the psychologist who was rapidly feeling old, fat and out of shape. "I told Sensei that you must be climbing injured.. to be so slow." He tilted his head. "But Sensei told me you would never be so foolish to go climbing if you were nursing an injury."
"I'm not injured. I'm just fine. I'm enjoying the climb, and the nice weather and pretty day. I'm not racing up the cliff just to reach the top fast." That sounded so much better than, 'I'm slow because if I tried to climb as fast as a ninja trainee, I'd go splat in a heartbeat'.
Kamakura nodded slowly. "Okay." He started swarming upwards again without warning, seeming to glide along the sheer rockface without effort. His voice raised in a shout. "I TOLD YOU HE WAS FINE JINX! HE'S ENJOYING THE SCENERY!!"
Psyche-Out sighed to himself and tried to ignore the young ninjas as they moved around the cliff with ease. Even the mature Snake Eyes seemed to hover nearby during any difficult areas. He had to turn down offers of being carried twice more, and at one point growled a warning to Snake Eyes who dangled a rope to him when he stopped for a five minute break to consider what path to take to get around a largish crack in the rock.
He was trying to decide which direction to go around a large bulging rock, when a pebble struck the rock beside his head, bouncing off and flying down to the nearly unseen ground beneath him. "HEY!!" Twisting to look, he saw both apprentices looking guilty. "Don't you DARE start throwing rocks at me!" They pointed at each other.
"Jinx threw it!" "I was aiming for Kamakura but he dodged!" .
Kamakura frowned. "Of course I dodged! I'm not supposed to sit here as a static target for you!"
"Kamakura! You're just lucky I was being nice! You're such a big target I could hit you blindfolded!"
The squabble abruptly stopped when a fist sized rock bounced off the face between them both. They tilted their heads up and so did Psyche-Out. The black clad master ninja was signing a bit too fast for him to follow. It was obvious the apprentices understood and were getting chewed out.
Jinx suddenly threw a last pebble at her fellow apprentice before yelling up. "But you SAID to target practice!" Apparently that was the wrong tactic, as Snake Eyes suddenly showed a burst of unexpected speed and ran down Jinx. She tried to scuttle sideways out of his range, but he quite easily caught up and grabbed at her. Showing that his earlier estimate of the older ninja being slower to be totally without merit, Snake Eyes chased her across the cliff face with ease, smacking her legs with a loop of safety rope every time he was within range. Her yelps weren't loud, but he could tell she was being thoroughly humiliated and chastised for talking back. Apparently ninja training was pretty harsh.
"She's done it now. Sensei will be after her for a while." While the other two played chase across the cliff, Kamakura had moved over to the psychologist. "Don't worry, I'll stick close by in case you need help."
"I. Don't. Need. Help." His angry tone made the young man's eyebrows go up in surprise.
"Umm okay. But Sensei told us to keep an eye on you, umm.. in case something went wrong. I can't go against his orders.." Kamakura tilted his head upwards as the two passed overhead, Jinx now loudly apologizing. "Right now I really really don't want to make him mad at me."
Taking pity on him, Psyche-Out gave in. "Fine.. you can be my climbing buddy. Not that I need help, but if Snake Eyes told you to stay close to me, then I guess you can't go against that, right?"
Now Kamakura beamed at him with a big smile. "Yes, I will wait until you slip and fall, then I can catch you."
The slow, old, fat, out-of-shape hopeless case sighed. "Whatever." He began to move up again, mostly ignoring his companion's helpful suggestions and advice. He really shouldn't take it personal that the kid could outclimb him so thoroughly. Everyone was outdone by the ninjas, and there was normally good-natured ribbing about it. The rest of the Joes were mainly happy to have them on their side, and not one of the three wouldn't help out with extra training if there was an area that a person wanted to improve. Maybe it was just that this was a pleasure activity, and not training.
Snake Eyes appeared next to him and motioned for Kamakura to leave. While the young trainee had been very patiently hovering alongside, he happily took off across the cliff towards Jinx when his sensei released him from baby-sitting duty. He looked at his currant companion.
"Thanks for having someone buddy with me, but I'm really fine. You guys can go do your training, and just ignore me."
Snake Eyes tilted his head in query, and climbed up a bit higher to balance on his toes and sign using both hands. *You are so slow, are you certain you want to be alone? We have all day, it is no hardship to keep one of us nearby. We can switch off to keep from getting too bored.*
Psyche-Out gritted his teeth again, and then counted slowly to ten. "I'm fine. I came out here to be alone and enjoy a rock climb. I don't need babysitters.. not even gecko ninja babysitters. Okay?"
He watched the ninja pause. *Okay. We were just worried.* Without waiting for any reply, Snake Eyes swarmed his way upward to disappear, motioning curtly at his two apprentices to follow after him. Within a bare minute, all three were gone, and Psyche-Out could only hear the wind and birds and his own breathing. He wondered if he had hurt SnakeEyes feelings by dismissing him and his concerns. They'd only been looking after his safety. He was a big advocate of climbing buddies and safety. He sighed. He could always apologize and explain later. Snake Eyes and he never seemed to be easy with each other. They were always at odds, with him trying to pry into the ninja's thoughts, and Snake Eyes doing his level best to avoid scheduled sessions, sometimes with the most ridiculous excuses ever.
He spent another two hours sweating and groaning by himself up the cliff face. Somehow it wasn't nearly as interesting without the two apprentices racing about, or the unexpected appearances of the silent commando. He forced himself to concentrate on the climb itself instead. He did enjoy rock climbing, and this was a beauty of a climb.
Finally reaching the edge, he pulled himself over and lay there, taking deep breaths, letting his twitching arm and leg muscles relax slowly. Sitting upright, he gazed out across the vista. It wasn't unspoiled, he could clearly see the base, and airstrip, and roads. But it was nice.
Turning, he spotted a small knapsack and wondered if one of the apprentices had left it behind accidentally. He smiled to himself smugly as he went to pick it up. Imagine their faces when he brought back the missing bag.. he frowned. Under the bag was a heavy duty spike driven into the rock, with a neatly coiled line attached to it. He lifted the bag to look at it. There was a bit of paper attached with his name written in a neat cursive script. Opening it up, he spotted a bottle of water and a sandwich wrapped up in wax paper. When he pulled those out, he found a folded note.
He seated himself and sipped the water, sniffing at the sandwich happily. After a couple bites, he opened the note and saw more of the neat writing he could identify as Snake Eyes'.
I left a rappelling line attached to a stake, you can use it to get back down easier. If you get stuck and can't get down by yourself, just yell. One of us should hear you, and we'll bring a ladder.
the gecko clan
"God, I hate ninja humor." He looked at the sandwich he'd been enjoying in disgust, then shrugged. At least Snake Eyes liked him enough to play pranks on him. Maybe it was a turning point in their strained relationship. Either that, or he was going to murder all three ninjas and have to make a really good story up for General Hawk.
Sorry, it's fluff, and fluff involving one of the least liked characters. Couldn't help it!