This has been bouncing around in my head and refusing to leave me alone, so I figured I'd let it have its way with my word processor.


Conrad Hauser blinked up at Doc's familiar face. He eased the dumbbell back into place and sat up, reaching for his water. "Something wrong?"

Carl Greer had a slightly distracted look about him, one that G.I. Joe's top sergeant had come to realize meant that their medic was concerned about something…or more accurately, someone. Given the general temperament of about ninety percent of the Joe team, Duke had come to know that look very well. It usually meant that he'd soon end up ordering a belligerent soldier into Doc's competent care.

"Not really. I was just wondering if you'd seen Snake Eyes since they got back."

Snake, Roadblock, Dusty, and Flint had returned from a mission not six hours before. The Cobra ammo stockpile was now a crater in the middle of the Iranian desert, and Snake Eyes had managed to swipe blueprints for a new, more heavily armored model of the HISS tank.

From the middle of a walled compound crawling with vipers. Guarded by high-tech surveillance equipment and a contingent of seasoned mercenaries hired by the Commander to protect the plans from being stolen. According to Flint, without alerting a single guard or tripping a single security system.

Duke shook his head. Ninjas.

But… "I haven't seen him since he got off the transport, Doc. Something wrong?"

Snake Eyes hadn't looked hurt, but then Duke had seen the ninja shrug off injuries that would have laid any other man out on a stretcher. He also knew how much Snake Eyes hated medical confinement, even when patently necessary.

Like that mission nine or ten months back, when Storm Shadow and Snake had gotten into it, and Snake Eyes had gotten freaking stabbed, right in his upper arm, and laid open almost all the way down to his elbow.

The ninja had bled copiously in the transport back to base, as BeachHead had sworn loudly and helped the commando field-dress the injury and apply pressure. A blood transfusion, seventy three stitches, and a low-grade infection later, and Duke had been thoroughly sick of searching the base for the ninja only to find him calmly meditating, running through kata, or cleaning his small arsenal of weaponry.

"I don't know." Doc shrugged. "I thought that I saw him limping when I met them at the motor pool, but then I was distracted."

Yeah, by Dusty's shrapnel-damaged leg. Fortunately, the desert trooper hadn't been badly hurt.

"He's probably in his quarters." Duke knew that Snake tended to lock himself in his private room after debriefing to meditate or clean up. Or turn invisible and crush golf balls with his bare hands, or whatever the hell ninjas did to unwind.

Duke swore that Snake Eyes knew, somehow, about the top sergeant's affection for bad eighties ninja flicks. Every once in awhile, the commando would do or say something that both made Duke suspect that Snake had seen more than a few bad martial arts movie in his day as well…and that the ninja had somehow seen Duke's file.

There was the incident three weeks ago, for instance. Hawk had been gone on that golf outing with the politicos. Duke had been going at the punching bag in the gym, brushing up on his boxing form, when he'd heard Scarlett talking to Snake Eyes over on the practice mats.

"What?" She'd sounded surprised. "You don't golf."

That had gotten Duke's attention. Actually, he could picture Snake Eyes with a five-iron…but feeding it to a viper, not whacking a little ball around with it.

A pause, which meant that Snake was signing, and then Red had laughed. "Heavy Duty, maybe. But I don't see you bench pressing a golf cart with a couple desk jockeys in it."

Duke's brain had immediately flashed to a scene from a really bad movie with the weirdest possession scene in all of cinema history. He'd snuck a look sideways at the pair, and found that black visor looking right back at him. Snake Eyes had nodded, and Duke had gotten the distinct impression that the ninja was smiling.

But then the commando and the intelligence agent were back to takedowns and joint locks, and Duke was wincing and reminding himself never to close to hand-to-hand with either a trained ninja master or a frighteningly skilled intel agent.

Duke stood, mopped the sweat from his face with his towel, and picked up his water. If Snake Eyes was trying to hide an injury…well, it wasn't something that he'd stand for.

"Come on." He said to Doc. "I'll order him in for a quick checkup."

"Thanks." Carl Greer fell in beside the top sergeant. "I swear, that ninja is the most hardheaded patient I've ever had…and that's counting Beach." The medic sighed. "At least I can put restraints on Beach if I have to."

Yeah. Duke remembered the first time Doc had tried that with Snake. Couple years ago, when the ninja had been recovering from a cracked femur and a concussion, courtesy of jumping from an exploding Sky Striker. After Snake Eyes' fourth escape, Doc had put four-point restraints on the ninja, whom had surprisingly gone along with the procedure.

Escape number five had taken place roughly ten minutes later. As far as anyone could figure, the restraints had slowed Snake by approximately five seconds. They'd found him on the roof, calmly cleaning his Uzis.

"Oh! Um, Scarlett's not around, is she?" Doc seemed suddenly nervous. Duke almost smiled. That always was one possibility when Snake disappeared for a few hours on base. Generally speaking, if both the commando and the counterintel agent were missing, it was smarter to just wait until they turned up on their own. Finding the pair when they were…fraternizing…could possibly result in maiming.

Plus, while Duke wouldn't have minded seeing Scarlett naked, he could really live without seeing Snake in the nude. Yeah. Bad mental pictures.

But… "No." He answered. "She took a half-day of leave with Jaye and CoverGirl to go out on the town, do some shopping or whatever it is those three do for fun."

They stopped outside Snake Eyes' door. Duke rapped lightly. "Snake? You in there?"

No answer. He rapped harder. "You ok in there?"

Nothing. Duke frowned. Snake Eyes was generally pretty prompt about responding when called on. Either the ninja wasn't in his quarters, or he was really in bad shape. Either way…

He keyed the entry code into the number pad, Doc hovering anxiously just behind him, and opened the door about halfway. "Snake? You…oh god…"

The last two words were more a horrified gulp, as Duke's brain rapidly tried to shut itself down to avoid further damage. Well, other than the damage that he was pretty sure Snake's fists would be causing very shortly.

Snake Eyes was…definitely in his room. On the bed, to be exact, and Duke was seeing way more of the commando than he'd ever wanted to.

And…way more of Scarlett-who was very definitely not in town-than he'd ever hoped to. Huh. Actually, Duke had had more than one fantasy that involved Scarlett's legs wrapping around his waist like that…

Leavenowleavenow Backoutbackup! His brain was screaming at him, and Duke started to obey. Snake Eyes seemed pretty, ah, distracted at the moment. Maybe the ninja hadn't heard him…Oh fuck me.

Duke's life began flashing before his eyes as pair of very angry, very blue eyes fixed on him. He got a brief impression of scars and a truly terrifying snarl before Snake Eyes launched himself off the bed, off of Scarlett, and moved in a blur. The door slammed shut in Duke's face.

"Well, he seems to be moving pretty well." Doc said, almost cheerfully…but then he'd been off to one side, and Duke doubted that Snake Eyes had seen the medic. "See you later, Duke."

Duke glared. "If he kills me, I'm going to haunt the med center just to get back at you for this."

"I'll revive you if he strangles you. Bye now." Doc sped off down the hall with admirable haste.

The door opened again. Snake was now wearing sweatpants and his mask. His eyes were still burning right through Duke's, with all the frustrated fury of a man who has just been interrupted and dragged away right in the middle of a really good romp in the sack.

*Yes?* The ninja signed shortly.

"Um…" Duke smiled weakly. "Doc thought he saw you limping…he was worried…wanted me to check on you…" He started backing up again. "But you seem fine, so I'll just be on my way. Sorry to, um, interrupt."

Snake Eyes gave him a final glare that by all rights should have left a smoking, Duke-sized crater in the middle of the floor, and slammed his door again. Duke let out a slow breath. Oookay. He was alive. That was good. He wasn't maimed. That was also good. Mentally scarred? Yes, but he could get Psyche-out to help him repress those memories.

Jaye rounded the corner just then, smiled and waved at him.

"Though you were in town!" Duke croaked.

She eyed him, her smile fading. "We came back early…Roadblock is cooking tonight. Are you ok?"

No. "Fine."

Jaye looked from him to the door he was standing by, back to the top sergeant. She chuckled, shook her head. "Well, they didn't kill you outright, so I wouldn't worry. If you need it, there's a fresh bottle of bleach in the laundry room, but I don't know if that'll help for long." Still laughing, she passed him and continued on down the hall.

Duke watched her go, considering her words. Huh. Bleach in the eyes might help…but he wasn't sure it'd be enough. He sighed. Maybe Clutch had some battery acid lying around in the motor pool? That might work better.

He sighed, trudged back towards the gym. He did not get paid enough for this job.

I'm going to take a page from willwrite4fics and quiz my good readers! If anyone can correctly state the name of the movie that I referenced, you get a shiny prize ficcy!