Games People Play
Summary: Flint overhears a conversation he wishes he hadn't.
A/N: Forget the latest film – let's make fun of the original G.I. Joe movie! This is for bioteacher, who noted the disclaimer in chapter nine of A Book By Its Cover. She provided the beginning and end for the story, and I filled in the rest.
A/N II: I have nothing against the cartoon, I'm just not very familiar with it. No offense intended to any fans.
Rating: PG-13 should more than suffice for a bit of language.
Disclaimer: I seriously doubt Hasbro wastes time reading fanfic to see if anyone forgot to include a disclaimer.
"You know, that's my third snake-through-the-heart coma this week."
Flint stopped short in the hallway outside the rec room, frowning. He was tired, sure, and his head ached like crazy, but Doc's statement had made no sense whatsoever. And Doc always made sense.
Deciding he had simply misheard, the exhausted warrant officer gave his head a gentle shake and rubbed his temple.
It had been a grueling six-day mission in the jungles of Central America. Some American journalists had gone there to do a story on a local terrorist group known for kidnapping foreigners, and – in a surprise to no one except the journalists – had been kidnapped themselves.
The rescue operation had succeeded, but there had been some minor injuries when one of their helicopters had been shot down, and Flint's head still felt like it was going to explode.
The damn idiots had then decided it was the team's fault they'd been kidnapped in the first place. Flint had tried to point out the only reason the Joes were there was to rescue them, but it had been a futile effort. The more he dealt with the press, the more he decided it was the only profession that required its employees to fail an intelligence test before being hired.
"But at least I wasn't blinded by spores," the team's surgeon added.
Flint slowly swiveled his head toward the doorway. Just what the bloody hell had happened while he was gone? Did he really give a shit? No one had bothered to inform him about it, so it wasn't his concern – at least not until he had a shower and gotten some hot grub. It had been a long six days, not to mention lonely.
Too bad Lady Jaye wasn't there, he thought to himself; with her skills, she'd have had the blundering imbeciles eating out of the palm of her hand in less than an hour. And if that hadn't worked, she was damn hot, she knew it and knew how to use it to her advantage when necessary.
Oh, she'd complain about it, which surprised him, but all of the gals hated it when they were asked to use their sex appeal, even though they did it oh, so very well.
Memories of the mission faded as he imagined Lady Jaye's fiery expression; she had a temper, that's for sure, but it was just one aspect of her passion. And what a passion! The way she could turn even a demure nightgown into something more enticing than any piece of lingerie, the smoky look in her eyes that let him know he could have his way with her when they got alone, the sound of her voice when …
Three thoughts immediately came to Flint's mind: one, it was a damn good thing she didn't use her sex appeal more often, or he'd have a full-time job keeping the yahoos in line; two, his headache wasn't that bad; and three, she had been in such an affectionate mood before he'd been suddenly called away on this mission.
He started back down the hallway to his quarters, knowing his lover would prefer it if he didn't show up grungy, sweaty and smelling like one of Beach Head's boots. Maybe he could finagle a couple days off for the two of them and head to Salt Lake City for a very private vacation.
It was her voice that caused him to freeze.
"Hey, you think that's bad? I got de-evolved into a monster last time," she grumbled.
Okay, he had hit his head hard when the chopper came down, but he didn't think he had a concussion. But this was Doc and Jaye – two of the most level-headed members of G.I. Joe, and they were talking, well, crazy. And if they weren't crazy, then either he was crazy or … what?
Growling under his breath, he headed toward the rec room, mentally vowing that if he saw any tardy rabbits in waistcoats, he was going to grab Jaye, borrow one of her parent's boats, and they weren't touching land again until they'd used up all their accrued leave.
He quickly spotted her and Doc at a table covered with what looked like homemade playing cards. Giving Scarlett a nod when she looked up from her reading, he crossed the room and set his duffle bag behind Jaye's chair, resting his arm on the back of it.
Looking over her shoulder, she ran her eyes over his body to verify he was okay before giving him a promising smirk. Her gaze was enough to chase all other thoughts from his mind, and Flint was ready to suggest she come with him when Doc set down a card and let out a triumphant laugh.
"Ha! Get out of my mutant vines."
Flint stared as Jaye grumbled again, flipping through her cards to place one on the table. "I'll use my … rocket-launched grappling hook javelin … to get out," she said, pausing to read the typewritten description on an index card that had been sloppily laminated.
"Do I want to know what's going on?" Flint asked uncertainly, massaging his temple as his headache flared up.
"It's a game Mainframe and Dial Tone made," Doc explained. "Apparently role-playing games based on cards are the newest fad in the geek community. They made a Cobra versus Joe version. We're 'beta' players."
I had to ask.
"And you had three snake heart comas?"
"Snake-in-the-heart," the doctor corrected.
"Right," Flint sighed, rubbing his head before looking up in confusion. "Wait, how would a snake in the heart cause a coma? Wouldn't it kill you?"
"I think a better question is how would you throw a snake," Jaye said, raising her hands in pantomime when they turned to stare at her. "They're not exactly aerodynamic – snakes flop around when you pick them up. And they're not pointy. Even if you could throw one, it would bounce off the target, not pierce it."
"The snakes were thrown?" he clarified, his headache intensifying as he tried to make sense of the game.
"It's Serpentor's special ability," Doc said. "All the 'main characters' have one."
"Of course they do," he muttered; now that he thought about it, his boat idea sounded really good. All he needed was a reason to tell Hawk that wouldn't land him in a psych ward.
"Scarlett has her crossbow," Jaye said, smirking when the redhead shot an irritated glare from the couch.
"And Lady Jaye has her javelins," Doc said.
Flint closed his eyes. "Why would you have javelins? An M-16 is easier to aim, has a longer range, has a faster rate of fire and is more lethal."
"It's supposed to be kid-friendly," she said. "No guns."
"But crossbows, javelins and throw-able, non-bouncy, coma-inducing snakes are okay?"
"I think they were just looking for an excuse to make your card," Doc joked.
Flint picked up the card in question, initially grinning at the rather busty drawing on it, until he realized one of those geeks was thinking about his lady that way. He couldn't do a damn thing about what the other guys thought about her – and he couldn't blame them, either – but when they crossed the line and did something about it, well, that was another story.
"Which one of them drew the cards?" he asked, trying hard to keep his teeth unclenched.
"Cover Girl," said Dial Tone as he and Mainframe entered the rec room, quickly joining the others at the table.
"She… wha? Huh?" Flint closed his mouth when Lady Jaye turned to him with that amused expression of hers, the one she used when he wasn't trying to be amusing.
"I always thought models had problems with distorted body images, but it looks like she overcompensated," Doc said, his lips twitching.
"Cover Girl wouldn't let us use her likeness without paying," Mainframe said in exasperation as he took a seat. "And even with the discount she offered, you wouldn't believe how much her agent wanted."
"But she offered to do the drawings for us," Dial Tone added as he plopped into the chair opposite of Mainframe.
"I'm sorry I asked." When Jaye chuckled at him, he rubbed his hand along her shoulder blades, hoping she'd get the hint to leave the game and join him for something that would actually be fun.
Instead, she frowned when Doc played a "BET Device" card and she swore.
"That's too powerful," she said, flipping over all the cards laid out in front of her, ditching the cards in her hand into the discard pile, and drawing six new ones from the deck.
"What does it do?" he asked in defeat. Better than anyone, he knew her dedication and competitive nature. She wasn't going to leave this idiotic game until it was over, and she was going to do her best to win.
And he did feel a bit of sympathy for her; ever since The Scrabble Incident of '89, there weren't too many people willing to take her on in a game. At some level, she probably was enjoying herself.
Not as much fun as she would have if she'd head up to the Quonset hut with him…
"It's a Broadcast Energy Transmitter," Mainframe said excitedly. "It, uh, well, broadcasts energy."
"Why?" Flint asked.
"To solve the world's energy crisis," Dial Tone said. "It can send energy all over the world."
"Where does it come from?"
"Where does what come from?" the radio expert asked.
"The energy. It has to come from somewhere. If it's enough to solve the all the world's energy needs, it has to be a hell of a lot of power. And what about dissipation? Most of the energy is going to be wasted …"
"The object of the game," Mainframe interrupted, "is to be the first person to 'capture' the BET Device in the Himalayas, and then fend off your opponents as they try to take it from you."
"What type of power source exists in the Himalayas? There isn't any type of power station up there. And how do you control who gets the energy? If you're just broadcasting it out there, anyone – including Cobra – could tap into it," Flint continued, ignoring the irate stares the team's resident geeks were directing his way. He stopped and frowned when Jaye played a card of a figure in red. "And why is Jinx blindfolded?"
"The ninjas are too powerful. We had to handicap them," Dial Tone said shortly.
"You mean you're still upset Jinx laughed at you when you tried to ask her on a date," came Scarlett's mutter from across the room.
"She fights better blindfolded because she was taught by the Blind Master," the radio expert continued, a slight flush on his cheeks.
Flint started to point out the numerous logical fallacies in that statement, but restrained himself when he caught his lover's expression; he had the unpleasant sensation he was providing her with more entertainment than the game.
"Is there a point to this game?" he asked instead; maybe if he made Lady Jaye realize how silly this was, she'd come away with him.
"If you're playing the Joes, you have to capture Cobra-la and defeat the snake people."
"Snake people? Of course. Because there's no excitement or purpose in just defeating a ruthless terrorist organization bent on world domination. You had to turn them into, into … cartoon characters!"
"You asked," Lady Jaye reminded him, her eyes dancing with delight. "If you're playing Cobra, you have to capture the Joe base and de-evolve humanity by launching your pods into space."
"The citizens of Cobra-la hate humanity for its technology. So they plan to de-evolve all the humans on the planet," Doc said.
"What good would that do? You'd still have the technology, but instead of people who know how to control it safely, you'd have a planet full of mutant freaks with technology," Flint pointed out, feeling like he was the only one thinking logically. "And if they don't use machines, how did they get their spores in space?"
"Cobra-la uses organic-based technology," Doc said lightly as he considered his cards.
"Why?" Flint asked in spite of himself. "All the world's militaries moved away from animals as soon as they could. They're a logistical nightmare. You don't have to feed machines, keep them healthy, let them sleep, deal with their personalities, train them to go against their instincts,…" he said, pausing when he noticed the looks directed his way. "Well, you don't."
Doc laughed as he played a card of what looked like a permanently constipated, four-headed snake. "And that'll eat its way through your perimeter wall."
"I have a guard on duty," she countered, tossing a card on top of it and smiling.
"What's my special ability?" Flint asked, curious despite his impatience.
"That's not you. It's Falcon," she said, turning to him in amusement.
"Falcon? Who'd trust him on guard duty?" he said, adding something that sounded like "cheap imitation" under his breath.
"And I have my Zarana distraction ready," the physician said, laying down the card as Lady Jaye swore again.
"How long does this take?" Flint asked, gently nudging her on the back, but to no effect.
He knew if he made a scene about his headache, she'd immediately focus her attention on him. But he did have his pride, and it would worry her. Not to mention there would be holy hell to pay if she ever found out he did it to get her into bed. Doc would also want to examine him, and that meant being stuck in the infirmary.
"As long as it takes," she said, giving him a knowing smile and a promising look that threatened to send his blood flowing in embarrassing directions.
"How many people can play?" he asked, resigned to waiting out the match. Maybe his headache would go away if he stopped trying to make sense of the game.
"Two easily; we're still working on the details for three or more people," Dial Tone said.
"Why isn't Scarlett playing then?"
The redhead looked up from her book, her cold expression chilling the air around Flint.
"She's not too happy with us," Mainframe whispered, handing the warrant officer the homemade box for the cards. Its drawing prominently featured the currently irritated martial artist, her crossbow in one hand and her other arm draped around the waist of…
"Scarlett and Duke?" he asked. "Together?"
"We needed a strong visual to attract buyers," Dial Tone said, wilting under the redhead's glare. "Any of the gals, er, girls, uh, ladies, uhm, female Joes would work, and Scarlett won the coin toss. We couldn't use Snake Eyes."
"He's not, uh, what you'd call visually appealing," Mainframe tried to say delicately.
"How many times has he saved your life?" Scarlett asked pointedly.
"That's not the issue. I mean, come on. Do you think a masked, mute, mystery man who's also a ninja is going to be popular with anyone?" Mainframe asked.
Flint exchanged a meaningful look with Jaye; these guys obviously didn't do their market research. He also wondered which of them had the death wish. Everyone who spent more than five minutes with Scarlett knew how protective she was of Snake Eyes.
"We had to use someone good-looking for the cover," Dial Tone said. "Not that Snake Eyes isn't, uh, well, he's in good shape, uh, you know what I mean."
"And you picked Duke for your handsome man?" Flint asked coolly.
Duke? Yeah, the sergeant had that blond-hair, blue-eye thing going on, but Flint knew he was a hell of a lot better looking.
Once again, Lady Jaye gave him that amused look that made him wonder if she was silently laughing at him, and he crossed his arms over his chest.
"He does end up in a coma a lot if you try to use his card," she told him, and her expression eased his mood somewhat.
"Well, what's my card like?"
"You don't have one," she said, her lips curving gently.
"Uh, we needed to save something for the expansion set," Mainframe said quickly, finally realizing they had insulted the mercurial officer.
"Wha, oh, yeah. You have to save some of the best stuff to get people to buy the next set of cards," Dial Tone said, nodding his head as he caught on.
Flint knew people thought he had an ego problem, but he also knew when people were playing him.
"So, what's my special ability then?" he challenged them.
"We haven't decided yet," Mainframe shot out. "We were thinking maybe, uhm…"
"Aerial assault abilities, you can bring people in over obstacles," Dial Tone lied obviously.
"Or leadership qualities. Your presence increases the attack abilities of others."
"Funny, neither one of you look like Snow Job," Flint grumbled, his eyes opening when Jaye reached her hand out to discreetly rub his knee.
"Uh, why don't you join us for a game?" Mainframe asked. "We could really use your tactical analysis of it."
"Maybe when my head isn't ready to explode."
Lady Jaye turned to him, her expression serious. "Why don't you go lie down?"
"I'm not ready to go to sleep," he said, hoping she'd finally get the hint.
"Then sit down. This game is almost done," she said, raising an eyebrow as she turned to Doc. "I'll use my Roadblock card to escape into the river."
"River? In the Himalayas? How? And why wouldn't he freeze to death if he was soaked in the middle of the Himalayas?" Flint demanded as he crouched down next to Jaye. "And how do snake people live there? Wouldn't they be cold-blooded? They wouldn't be able to move in that environment."
"It's a toy. It doesn't have to make sense," Mainframe groused irritably.
"It does if you want it to be successful," the warrant officer countered.
"It's not going to be sold," Scarlett injected from across the room, setting down her book when the would-be toy tycoons turned toward her. "You haven't considered the legal ramifications of using the likenesses of real people in your game."
"We'd give everyone a cut," Dial Tone said.
"Or at least a free copy of the game," Mainframe offered.
"And do you think Destro will be satisfied with that?" Scarlett laughed.
"And what about Tomax and Xamot? They've never been legally connected to any of Cobra's criminal activities," Lady Jaye pointed out. "They'd certainly wouldn't let you make a game implying they are."
"But they are involved!" Dial Tone half-whined.
"Prove it in a court of law," Scarlett said. "And then there's the issue of the security breach you'd create by releasing the game."
"But it's all make believe," Mainframe said.
"You're using the likenesses of real Joes and real Cobras. Some of the vehicles are accurate, too. There's no way the Pentagon would allow you to release any of this," Doc said, frowning as he picked up a fresh card. "But you've made something to keep the team entertained."
Lady Jaye waited until he played, then she tossed down a card and grinned broadly. "I'll use your time worm to stab you in the eye."
"That's certainly kid-friendly," Flint sighed, hoping the queasiness he felt was a reaction to the game and not from hitting his head. Still, Jaye's triumphant look indicated she was about to win, and maybe they had time to have some fun before he had to check himself into the infirmary.
"Damn," the doctor said, scratching his chin as he looked through his cards. "That's going to leave a scar."