Thick as Thieves.

This is a short plot bunny inspired bit, thanks to my beta! Following after the same style as my other fic, any signed statements are enclosed in *text*. I do change POV in spots. I don't own GI Joe, or the characters, I just borrow them briefly to enjoy. I'll give them back.. one day.

I did have a lot more to add in, but honestly, I think it worked just fine as is. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave reviews with suggestions or comments. As always, thank YOU for reading.

Dojo:

Snake Eyes looked down at his two apprentices. They were standing attentively, and waiting for the evening's exercises. He tilted his head back for a moment and thought over the idea carefully again. While he was set similar exercises when he was learning, it was quite a different thing to do it on a military base. However... it should be just fine, with his strict ground rules.

*Tonight we begin a new area of ninja training for Kamakura. That of being a thief.* He watched their faces become slightly confused.

Jinx spoke up first, as usual. "But Sensei, I have already learned lessons in thieving.. I learned in Japan..."

He held up a hand to stop her. *That was in an entirely different setting. Houses, and offices are not military targets and as such, do not have the same type of security. Kamakura is new to this, and will be able to use his ninja skills to be a successful thief, and then later you will give him instruction on utilizing the skill in domestic settings.* She nodded and he turned to Kamakura who was obviously uneasy. *You have questions Apprentice?*

Obviously uncomfortable, he finally spoke up quietly. "But, won't people be angry at us for stealing from them?"

Snake Eyes relaxed just a little bit. He did worry that the balance between traditional ninjas and GI Joe team members was not going to work, but by the very question, Kamakura at least showed he was thinking of his teammate's feelings.

*There will be some ground rules, and yes, some may be annoyed, but if you do it correctly, they should not know who made the theft. There will be no.. * He glared at Jinx in particular. *No stealing from private quarters. Violating your teammate's private space is a good way to disrupt relations between us and the other regular military members. There will be no violence in these thefts, only true stealing will be allowed. If you are caught, you will immediately cease, apologize, and try to make it right, without explaining that it was a training exercise.*

Both of the younger people mulled that over. It meant they might have to take the heat if they were caught, but then, they were not supposed to be caught. Neither of them were new to their training. He waited until they accepted it.

Kamakura finally spoke up. "What shall we steal first, Sensei?"

* * * *

Late night in the Dojo:

Jinx and Kamakura both stood when Snake Eyes entered the Dojo in the wee hours of the morning. They presented boxes for inspection. He sorted through Kamakura's box of blue ink pens, and nodded, satisfied that it seemed to be every blue pen from the entire Pit, without any of any other color mixed in. Jinx's box contained paperclips.. every paperclip. Handing the boxes back, he straightened and questioned them.

*How many?* They glanced at each other. *How many came from each office?* Identical blank looks and he tilted his head to fix them with a slightly disapproving gaze. *If you do not know, then you've failed. What good is stealing a thing, if you don't know where it came from, or the details of where is was?*

"Yes, Sensei." Both echoed softly, sounding slightly chagrined.

He signed quietly. *Take them all back.. to the same place they were removed from.. tomorrow night.* He strode out, without elaborating. They looked at their respective boxes of items that were near identical in nature, and sighed together.

Kamakura looked at the more experienced Jinx. "How do we do that?"

She shrugged at him. "I don't know, I just stole things, I never took them back. But I guess we'd better figure out how to sort them and return them by tomorrow night.. or Sensei will know it."

He gave a forlorn look at the box of pens he'd been proud to collect. Over half were generic blue Bic stick pens, and now he would have to figure out how to sort out which was in which office. Glancing over at Jinx's collection of paperclips, he decided he had the easier job and sat down to begin examining each pen individually.

* * * *

Obstacle Course:

Jinx yawned widely, and then nudged Kamakura when he began to tilt sideways. BeachHead noted this however and strode over to shout at them anyway. They both stood straighter, looking ahead and appearing alert.

BeachHead wasn't fooled. "Am I boring you Jinx? Do I need to get you a cuppa coffee? Maybe you need a nice nappy instead of running the course this morning??!"

Unable to resist, she smiled. "Yes Drill Sergeant, that would be lovely Drill Sergeant!" He leaned in until he was inches from her face and yelled at her more. She ended up running ten laps, while everyone else began the course instead. As she ran, she considered the last day's task.

She had needed to switch every phone cord out, all short normal cords switched to extra long, and vice versa. She could only work during the normal day shift, just to make it more complex. Then during the night, it was taking every notepad being used, and moving it to the next person. Her eyes were heavy from lack of sleep, and she knew it was to lessen her edge, to make it harder for her to concentrate.

Kamakura was faring slightly less well. He'd taken every desk blotter.. from under the items on the desk, without seeming to have moved anything. Tomorrow he got to put them all back.. during day shift. So far, neither of them had been caught, although there were several close calls, including a four hour block Kamakura had spent crammed in a footlocker in the women's shower room.

Finally coming to a stop at the starting line, she was sent directly out on the course, and almost immediately felt the sting of a paintball hitting her thigh. "I wasn't even over the start line!!" Her protest brought on the expected flurry of shots, and she scrambled to avoid them while jumping over the tires of the first obstacle. The rest of the morning progressed slowly as BeachHead ran them all ragged.

* * * *

Late night in the Dojo:

Snake Eyes fingered the cover of the dictionary on top of the stack. He flipped it open and pointed at the hand written name.

*Marking the item for easier return?*

Kamakura shook his head. "Flint's just anal about his books. He puts his name in all of them. I think he might be the only one that realizes his dictionary is missing, actually..."

Jinx grinned. "You might get found out, Kamakura.. Flint likes to dig out the truth of things. He's like a stubborn terrier."

Kamakura gave her a smirk right back. "No, he's a little busy, I also planted a book of love poetry of his. In Lady Jaye's desk. From the sighs and way she was reading it slowly, I think he'll be otherwise occupied for a while."

Snake Eyes shook a finger at him. *Private quarters are off limits.*

Now the young apprentice gave a slight bow. "That's why I took it from his locked desk drawer, he keeps it there, so she won't find it in his room when she visits."

The sensei gave a nod of the head. *Very good.* He walked away, and stood still for a few minutes. Then he turned and lifted his chin. *It's time for Kamakura to be put to the test.*

Jinx looked startled. "Master? Kamakura.. he's still very.." A slight headshake silenced her, although she didn't look pleased. "Yes Sensei." She stood to his side, gaze downwards.

The young man gave her a little bit of a perturbed glare. "I am ready for any test you deem worthy of me Sensei!" He bowed deeply.

Snake Eyes stood in front of him, stiff and formal. *This task is put to every Arashitage apprentice at some point, in some form. Jinx has passed it.* He gave a slight smile to her. *It made me extremely proud of her.* Back to formal stance and he reached up to peel off his mask, facing his apprentice bare-faced. *As your sensei, I will assign you a task. If you fail this test, you will no longer be my apprentice, and will be released to find a new master, if any would take you, shamed by failure. You are given three days to complete the task. During the three days, you may not talk to Jinx, nor communicate with her in any way. You may not reveal the task to any of your teammates. Do you understand?*

Kamakura, now fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, nodded and gave a deep bow. "Yes Sensei. I understand."

Snake Eyes felt a little pang, knowing how difficult the task might be. *Then your task is as follows. You will bring me General Hawk's security tab from his office safe. You have three days."

Stunned, Kamakura almost stuttered as he replied. "B-but Sensei.. General.. General Hawk's safe? I... "

Snake Eyes repeated his signs. *Your task is to bring me General Hawk's security tab from his office safe. You have three days.* He turned abruptly, and motioned Jinx to leave. Just before he exited the doorway, he stopped and turned back. *Return the dictionaries tonight.* Kamakura stood there, thinking about his task, and what it might mean.

* * * *

Messhall:

Late the next day, he sat alone, eating his lunch and thinking. He wasn't sure how to accomplish this task, and further, he wasn't at all sure he should accomplish it. It was one thing to steal minor items from offices.. but this was their commanding officer. Why would his sensei ask him to bring the security tab to him? What purpose could be served?

He could do it, he was certain. Well.. he was relatively sure. It was a safe, locked with a retina scan code. Shifting in his seat, he looked across the room and met Jinx's eyes. She only held his gaze for a moment, then she turned her back and sat down with Falcon and CoverGirl. From the animated looking conversation, she wasn't losing any sleep over his task. Maybe she knew he couldn't do it. Or at least, she thought he couldn't. What if she was right? What if he was caught, stealing from the commander's office safe? Would Snake Eyes come forward to explain, or would he let him fall?

Pushing the food around on his plate, he finally got up and went to throw away the lunch, and walked to his barracks. Climbing up into his bunk, he brooded about what he should do.

Which person did his loyalty lie with? The Army had his oath, his sworn word to serve. But Snake Eyes was his sensei, his teacher and master. He was apprentice to a master, who deserved and even demanded his utmost devotion. He had gone to Snake Eyes to beg to be his apprentice, been overjoyed to be accepted, when everyone had said he would never take him on. He'd followed him unquestioningly, stood by him through anything and everything, even when he was convinced Sensei was wrong, even when it seemed they were completely doomed with no hope.

But.. he could not get past the nagging feeling that there was no legitimate reason for Snake Eyes to send him after the security tab. Why would he pick that? There was certain to be other items, equally hard to steal, even items in safes, or locked under more security than the tab. Was there a reason? And why couldn't he discuss it with Jinx? He suddenly realized there was no prohibition against talking to Snake Eyes himself.

Swinging his legs over the edge, he dropped soundlessly to the floor and padded out to find his sensei.

* * * *

Armory:

He stood in the door of the armory for a few minutes, watching Snake Eyes cleaning the parts of a dismantled machinegun. Finally he stepped inside.

"Sensei.. may I ask you a question?" Snake Eyes turned and gave him a slight nod, motioning for him to come in. Kamakura stood at the table. "It's about my task.. can I ask you... about it?" He was given a wary nod.

*You may.. but I have told you all you need to know. Three days, no more.*

The anxious young man looked away and then nodded. "Yes.. but... why.. what do you want with the security tab? Why can't I take something else?"

Snake Eyes stood with his eyes on the gun part he was wiping down, but his body posture stiffened. When he looked up, Kamakura swallowed, even through the visor he felt the heat of that intense stare.

*How dare you question me. It is not your concern as to why I want it, it is your duty to bring it to me.* He looked away, and then pointed out the door.

Stricken, the apprentice bowed and apologized. "I'm sorry.. I..." Instead of answering, Snake Eyes pointed again. Kamakura fled, more confused than ever.

* * * *

Admin Offices:

Kamakura stood outside Hawk's office, torn between his conflicting duties. It was the extremely early morning hours, and nothing stood between him and the security tab, nothing but his own misgivings. He placed a hand on the doorjamb, looking at the safe door... fingering the tiny gadget that would fool the locking mechanism into opening for him, instead of his commanding officer. He closed his eyes, and cleared his mind. He was a ninja. He was certain. He stepped inside.

* * * *

General Hawk walked into his office, setting his folder onto the desk, and stopping at the sight of Kamakura seated on the floor lotus style.

"Kamakura? What are you doing..."

The young private looked up at him. "Sir. I have to talk to you... about my.. about Snake Eyes."

* * * *

Snake Eyes was escorted to the offices by Duke, summoned by General Hawk himself. As he strode him, his gut twisted, worry that he was being summoned to witness Kamakura being arrested or dismissed for being caught stealing out of the general's safe.

"Snake Eyes..." The General himself stood there, his wayward apprentice standing in the corner of the office, eyes on the floor. The ninja felt his breath catch. "Kamakura came to me this morning to tell me, you wanted him to steal my security tab from the safe." Snake Eyes stared at the young man he'd taken in and trained faithfully.

"I'm so sorry Sensei..."

Snake Eyes drew his mask off, and waited until Kamakura raised his eyes. He smiled at him gently.

*Congratulations apprentice. You have passed the test.* He reached to take him by the shoulders. The look of confusion made him laugh silently, almost giddy with relief from worry now. *The test was not to steal, the test was to know when not to follow my direction. Hawk needed to know that he had your true loyalty, and I needed to be sure you knew your own heart. I am so proud of you.*

Suddenly Kamakura smiled back. "It was... was a test? You... General Hawk?" He still looked stunned and confused.

Hawk stepped forward and reached to take his hand, gesturing to Snake Eyes as he spoke. "I apologize Kamakura... but the powers that be require proof that ninjas are trustworthy. They are still unsure, even though not one has failed to pass testing. GI Joe values you, and values your ninja skills as well. Welcome to the Joes... Sergeant Kamakura."

* * * *

End