I don't own G.I. Joe, though it would be really awesome if Hasbro decided that they didn't want the rights anymore and sent them my way. While I'm dreaming, I want a flying purple unicorn and Hugh Jackman as my pool boy.

This is going to be a longer, multi-chapter story. I don't know exactly how long, because things I write tend to gain some sort of pseudo-life and dictate their own length. I just write stuff down as it bounces around in my skull. But this one will be long, I know that much.

Snake Eyes waited for the sentries below him to turn back on their beat and move out of sight around the corner of the building. The two men below him stepped just past his hiding place, then turned crisply and strode slowly back the other way.

Snake waited until they turned the corner and vanished from sight. It would take them twenty-three seconds to complete their beat one way, and the same to reach his current location again. More than enough time.

Hooking his knees over one of the bare support beams that ran along the underside of the eves, he swung down, dangling upside-down above the window directly below him. He kept his body flexed just enough to keep out of view, just in case someone was in the room.

He slid his knife out and tilted the highly-polished blade just so, scoping out the room past the window. Empty. Excellent.

He slid the knife away, and let himself dangle straight down to examine the lock on the bulletproof window he'd chosen as his entry point. For such a high-security base, the locks were of surprisingly low quality-basic Kwik-Set cylinders. Snake slid a pair of lock picks from his right wrist cuff. A few quick twists later, and the window was open. He slid the lock picks away, edged the window open.

He'd spent maybe twenty seconds so far. He was still good on time. He pulled himself back up into the eaves, grabbed hold of a beam, and unhooked his legs. He swung easily down through the window, landing silently on his toes.

He shut the window behind him, and slid across the small office to the door. Dropping lightly to his belly, he examined the hallway outside through the half-inch gap at the bottom of the door. If he had the guard schedule right…

He did. The staccato sound of boots sounded, faintly, then louder. The sentry stumped down the hallway, turned a corner, and was gone.

Snake edged the door open just enough to slip through, and immediately trotted down the hall in the opposite direction from the sentry. A left, and there was the storage closet he'd remembered from the blueprints. He slipped inside, and held himself absolutely still and silent as a pair of sentries trooped past.

Right. He looked up.

He was on the top floor of the administration building. Above a suspended ceiling were bare metal support beams, and in the storage closet the contractors who'd built this place hadn't bothered with ceiling tiles. Snake pulled himself up, and he was in the narrow space between the suspended ceiling and the roof.

He moved easily, silently along the support beams. Gauging his location, he paused above a specific ceiling tile. There was a light fixture here, wires and a chain running up through a small hole drilled through the tile to the beam above. Snake swung down to get a look of the room below.

Yep. This was it. He was hanging directly above the high-security, highly-guarded, need-to-know-and-only-about-thirty-people-needed-to records room. According to his mission briefing, there were enough high-value military secrets in the room directly below him to send any enemy agent that managed to lay hands on a tenth of them into an absolute frenzy.

He evaluated his position, and then moved ten feet to his right. Sliding the blade of his knife under the edge of one of the tiles, he levered it up enough to slip his fingers underneath and lift it carefully, silently, out of place.

He dropped down through, landing directly behind the two armed guards who stood at attention a few feet in front of the single, highly-reinforced door. A knife to the throat of the first, drive his elbow sideways into the windpipe of the second before he could get a cry out, and he was done.

"Excellent work." General Hawk's amused voice sounded from behind him. Snake turned, came to attention. The two guards behind him picked themselves up, the first touching a hand to his neck and examining it for blood; Snake eyes smiled at that. He'd not even nicked the poor Marine, just tapped him with the flat of his knife.

"You've made your point." General Leighton's voice was dry.

Hawk smiled. "Any specific security suggestions for the General, Sergeant?"

*Cut back the treeline, higher quality locks on the windows, and fire your contractor, sir.* Snake signed. *Suspended ceilings…* He shook his head. *Too easy.*

Hawk translated. General Leighton nodded slowly. "What about my personnel? They didn't seem to be as effective as their units promised." He glared at the two men standing by the door.

*Your men are doing their job fine.* Snake reassured him. *But they're spread too thin…outside, you've got almost a forty second window between patrols. Inside, it's twenty seconds.*

As the commando's words were translated, the General nodded, something like victory in his eyes. "I told the President that I needed more security personnel…but he thought that the fewer people knew the location of this facility, the better." He turned to face Hawk, and held out a hand. Hawk shook it. "Thanks, Abernathy. I owe you a beer."

"Two." Hawk said dryly. "One for the golf game last month, one for this favor."

General Leighton grimaced. "I was hoping you'd forgotten about that…very well." He turned to face Snake Eyes. "Any chance I could coax you away from the Tomahawk, Sergeant? I imagine that I could swing you a fairly hefty pay raise if you transferred."

Snake Eyes shook his head. Hawk chuckled. "Sorry, Leighton. Snake Eyes pulls down enough with his hazard pay that I doubt he'll bribe easily. He wouldn't bribe anyways, for that matter."

Snake Eyes smiled, and shook his head again. Hawk nodded at him. "Dismissed. Good job, Snake Eyes, as always. See you back at the Pit."

Snake saluted both generals crisply before heading out of the compound, to Wild Bill and the waiting 'chopper. He passed several shocked-looking sentries; they'd been told that he was testing the security tonight, and had been given his description. Judging from the mildly-angry, incredulous muttering that followed him, they hadn't really thought that he'd be able to get inside the complex, let alone the administration building.

Wild Bill was dozing with his feet propped up on the Tomahawk's control yoke when Snake reached the 'chopper. The pilot tipped his ever-present cowboy hat back and grinned at the ninja as Snake fastened his restraint webbing.

"How'd it go?" Snake gave him the thumbs-up. "Yeah, I didn't think any of them yahoos'd catch hide nor hair of ya." Wild Bill started up the 'chopper, and the whine of the rotors almost drowned out the pilot's next words. "We'll be back to our stompin' grounds in an hour. Unless you wanted me to take a spin through the drive-thru for some grub?" The pilot grinned toothily. "Bet I could get this bird right up to the window, too."

*NO.* Snake smiled, laughing silently. Wild Bill was just overconfident enough to try a stunt like that, too. *Please don't.*

"Aww. Fine." Wild Bill tweaked the controls, and the ground dropped away.

Snake settled back and quickly fell into a doze; he, like other experienced soldiers, could more or less sleep anywhere, and through any sort of commotion that wasn't immediately life-threatening. He'd also been in the military long enough to treat sleep as something you did whenever you could, because you just didn't know if something would come up and keep you on your feet for the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours.

He woke as Wild Bill brought them in for a landing; the experienced pilot set them down as gently as a feather. Snake hopped out of the chopper and waved to the pilot.

"Night, Snakes." Wild Bill glanced at his watch. "Well, what's left of it. Suppose Beach'd let us off PT come mornin'?"

Snake Eyes snorted. The day that BeachHead let anyone off of PT for something as trivial as sleep deprivation was the day he'd eat his own boots. After a week's deployment in a swamp.

"Yeah, I was 'fraid of that." Wild Bill grimaced. "I'd better go turn in for a few hours then. See ya come mornin'." He glanced at his watch again. "Well, come daylight. Technically it's already tomorrow."

The pilot yawned and moved off. Snake headed towards his own quarters.

Most of the Joe team shared bunkrooms, like most military branches. Snake Eyes, however, had managed to convince Hawk to give him his own room. Given his rank, his service record, and the fact that the senior officer knew that his commando was uncomfortable sharing quarters, Snake had been given a small but private bunkroom complete with a tiny but serviceable bathroom.

Actually, the ninja suspected that some of his fellow Joes were glad that they didn't have to share quarters with him; he knew that most of the team found him intimidating, even terrifying. Plus, the private wall space gave him room for his really sizable collection of combat knives.

He keyed his entry code and slipped inside. He removed his visor and peeled off his mask, and unbuckled his utility belt.

A muffled snore came from the bed; he smiled. Scarlett was sprawled on her belly, the blankets pulled up to her chin. On paper, Counterintelligence Specialist Sergeant Shana O'Hara was assigned to the women's billet with CoverGirl and Lady Jaye. In reality, she'd long since moved in with him.

He finished stripping off his gear and grabbed a quick shower before slipping into bed and fitting himself around the warm curve of Shana's body. She stirred, yawned, and snuggled back against his chest.

"Hey." Her voice was muzzy with sleep. "Didn't think you'd be back tonight. Not that I'm complaining."

*It didn't take me long.* He reached around her to sign. *And Wild Bill was flying.*

"Oh. Well, that will do it." She yawned again and fell quiet. Less than a minute later, she was snoring again. Snake closed his own eyes, and was asleep in seconds.