Prize ficcy prize ficcy! YAY!

Another prize fiction won by the exhaustive Joe knowledge of aloneforvalentines…She wanted my take on Hawk's skilled ignoring of the blatant violation of frat regs that occurs in the pit…

"Abernathy!" General Frank Leighton grinned and waved at Hawk as he stepped out of the Tomahawk.

"Leighton." Hawk shook the other general's hand. "How's life treating you? Have you lost more hair?"

"Haha." General Leighton rubbed a hand over his graying and thinning head. "Funny man, Hawk. Funny man. Things have been going fair enough…but you know that already." Leighton shrugged a shoulder.

The orders had come down just a few weeks ago…the White House wanted Hawk to have backup, seeing as the G.I. Joe senior officer steadfastly refused to keep out of the line of fire. Leighton had been chosen, and today Hawk's fellow general had come for a tour of the Pit. He'd already been granted access to personnel files and past mission profiles; the Pit tour was the last step in Leighton's briefing.

"You want to dance around and trade small talk for awhile, or shall we get going?" Leighton said amiably.

Hawk smiled; he liked Leighton, mainly because the older man was no-nonsense and didn't beat around the bush. "We can get moving…this, obviously, is the airfield."

"I would never have guessed." Leighton said dryly.

Hawk smiled. "Aircraft hangers are over there." He pointed at the three large buildings. "Sky Strikers, Ghoststrikers, Tomahawks, and the other, more sensitive craft that you've been briefed on are kept there…under constant guard, of course. You want to walk through?"

"I've seen aircraft hangers before…I'd like to see the famous Pit."

They went in through the open motor pool door. Clutch and some of his grease monkeys were buried in the innards of a Wolverine; they scrambled upright and saluted when the generals walked in.

"At ease, men." Hawk turned to Leighton. "As you can see, tanks and humvee are kept and maintained here…and we've got the best mechanics in the service to keep them in good order."

Clutch straightened up again. "You're too kind, sir." He grinned at Hawk and dove back into the nest of wires he was sorting through.

"Your men seem to like you." Leighton observed.

Hawk shrugged. "They respect me…I couldn't ask for more than that."

They kept walking. Through the armory, the mess hall, the gym, into the dojo, where Snake Eyes and Scarlett were…well, Hawk was hoping that they were working something, because any other scenario where Scarlett was straddling the prone ninja's hips wasn't something that he wanted to see.

Oh…but then Scarlett was wrapping her hands around Snake's throat, and he slammed his fists down on her elbows, struck for her eyes, and then a roll and he had her arm twisted behind her at an angle that looked really uncomfortable.

Still…there was a way that they handled each other, a familiarity in the way that Scarlett had straddled the ninja and a edge of something in the way that the two interacted that was…interesting. Hawk saw Leighton's eyebrows rise.

Then Snake Eyes spotted them, and he was on his feet and saluting crisply in a fluid motion that seemed to defy gravity on some level. Scarlett was on her feet almost as fast, and Leighton blinked. Hawk smiled; he was used to Snake Eyes' seeming denial of the laws of physics, and…well…Scarlett hung around with Snake a lot.

"Leighton, this is Snake Eyes, the best commando, bar none, in the service. That is Scarlett; she's our counterintel specialist." Hawk smiled. "These two are perhaps two of the finest martial artists in the US military. At ease, you two."

"Honored to meet you, sir." Scarlett said. Snake Eyes simply saluted once more.

Hawk and Leighton left the two going back to their ground defenses and grappling. Leighton eyed Hawk. "Abernathy…"

"Mm?" Hawk was a master of noncommittal.

"Those two…close, are they?"

"Should be…they're partners and have been for years. They work well together. Teach hand to hand together too. They're good friends. Damned good operatives too."

"Ah…they seemed…exceptionally comfortable with each other."

"Should be…they throw each other around pretty well on a semi constant basis. If that doesn't acquaint you with someone, I don't know what will." Hawk smiled blandly. "Ah, here we go…control room."

Jaye and Flint were arguing over an intelligence brief; the two were almost snarling at each other across the table. They snapped to attention when the generals walked in.

"At ease…Leighton, this is Lady Jaye, intel and covert ops. This is Flint, warrant officer."

"Charmed." Jaye smiled at Leighton. "Flint's told me very good things about you, sir…apparently he served with you before he joined the Joes?"

"Oh, he won't remember me." Flint shrugged, smiled. "I was just a private at the time."

As the two generals exited the room, Hawk heard Flint and Jaye talking behind them.

"Modesty, Flint?" Jaye's voice was teasing.

"First time for everything."

Leighton's eyebrows reached for his receding hairline again. "Hawk? Weren't those two just about ready to tear each other's throats out? Do you have a situation there?"

"No. Those two are great friends." Hawk said calmly. "They disagree professionally sometimes, but they'll work it out. Mostly, they mesh well…the best in the world at what they do, too."

"Indeed." Leighton sounded doubtful.

"Mm." Hawk made a vaguely affirmative noise. "There really aren't any people on the Joe team who don't work well together; there are always going to be little issues, of course, but that's what my Top Sergeant is for."

An hour and a half later, and the two generals had made their way through most of the pit. Outside at the track, CoverGirl was running, with BeachHead timing her.

"Cinderella, you've only shaved two point three seconds off your time…thought you said it'd be at least five." Beach scowled.

"Still faster than you, ranger man." CoverGirl smirked.

"Ha ha. Funny, girlie, funny…get your tight little buns down in the grass and give me fifty. Thought you'd be smart enough not to talk back by now…sirs!" BeachHead caught sight of the generals and snapped to attention. CoverGirl bounced to her feet and saluted.

"At ease…Leighton, this is BeachHead, best drill sergeant in the world and the main reason recruits wash out of G.I. Joe."

"Sir." Beach hadn't relaxed one muscle. "Thank you, sir."

Hawk shook his head. "This is CoverGirl…and if you recognize her, it's because you've been reading too man of your wife's old fashion mags, Leighton. Woman drives a tank like you wouldn't believe."

CoverGirl flashed that camera-worthy smile. "I drive anything like you wouldn't believe, sir."

"She's modest, too, as you can see." Hawk said dryly. "Fortunately, she isn't boasting…I've seen her literally drive circles around Cobra vehicles. That pretty much takes care of things here. Now, Leighton, I believe that I owe you a beer for that golf game two months back. I know a great little pub..."

An hour later, the two generals were chatting over a couple of pints. Hawk was waiting for it, waiting for it…

"All right, Abernathy." Leighton abruptly set down his glass. "I'm not stupid, and I know you aren't."

Here it was. Hawk raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Thank you. Your point?"

"That ninja and the redhead were all over each other until we walked in…the covert ops woman and the warrant officer were arguing like an old married couple…the drill sergeant and that tank jockey were practically flirting…come on, man. You can't be blind."

"Are you suggesting that there are frat violations on the Joe team?" Hawk laughed, just the right touch of casual dismissal. "Don't be ridiculous, Leighton. My team is nothing if not professional. Not a one of the Joes are about to risk their career…they've worked hard to get to where they are."

"Uh huh." Leighton sounded unconvinced. "I've seen a few frat violations in my day, Abernathy…"

"Leighton, think about it." Hawk tapped a finger against his temple. "Frat regs are there because we know that they cause distraction, poor judgment, and can compromise missions and even lead to the death of both parties involved. You've seen the G.I. Joe mission files. Is there anything like that in any of those files?"

"Well, no…"

"Of course there isn't, and if there were frat reg violations occurring in not one but three cases in my unit, shouldn't at least something show up in the mission statements?"

"Well, logically, I suppose."

"Yet nothing does, because when it comes to frat reg violations there simply isn't an issue in G.I. Joe. My soldiers are professionals; I wouldn't tolerate anything less. Many of them are good friends, which is great for unit cohesion, but they are professionals. If they get along well…that just means less work for my Top Sergeant."

"Yeah." Leighton relaxed, and Hawk smiled to himself. "I suppose you're right…there would be some sort of incident in the mission files. Sorry I doubted you, Abernathy."

Hawk raised his glass again. "Don't mention it; I know that not all military units are as closely-knit as mine."

"You've got some good men and women, Abernathy." Leighton tilted his glass back and sipped. "Proud to be your backup."

Hawk grinned, and turned his attention to his beer…and it was very good beer. Sooner or later, Leighton, he thought. You'll figure out the situation eventually…but you'll have given upon trying to pry them apart too, by then.