Hippocratic Oath.

In which Carl Greer finds out that ninja make the worst patients…

Iron body training causes microscopic fractures in the crystalline structure of the bones, which cause the body to deposit more calcium and thicken and toughen the bone structure as the tissue heals.


Scarlett screamed the name, watching Snake pelt towards the flaming Sky Striker. Her boyfriend ignored her. Ace was (hopefully, because the alternative was much worse) unconscious inside, slumped over his control panel. There was a spatter of blood on the cockpit dome, and fresh bullet holes ran in a long jagged line down the side of the plane. Cobra heavy machine gun fire had caught Ace's fighter as he tried to take off, and the plane had crashed back to earth, flames moving towards the fuel tanks with frightening speed.

The Cobra ambush was already being dealt with; the attack force hadn't been large. But now Snake Eyes, being Snake Eyes, was running towards a flaming deathtrap of a plane that could explode any second, and Scarlett couldn't do anything but watch her boyfriend risk his life in an effort to save the helpless, possibly dead fighter pilot.

The ninja scrambled up the plane, and then he was pulling shards of broken cockpit glass out of the way and scrabbling his way over ruined instrument panels. A few cuts with his trench knife, and Ace's restraint webbing gave way.

The ninja dragged the pilot out of the cockpit, and Scarlett watched in horror as the flames licked at the fuel tanks. "Snake! It's going to blow!" She heard Flint behind her, already radioing for the medics…Scarlett hoped desperately that Ace was the only one who would need them.

Snake Eyes didn't need goading. He moved for the edge of the plane, and jumped for the ground.

He'd almost landed when the Sky Striker went up in a spectacular fireball. Scarlett heard herself screaming as she watched Snake and Ace flung through the air like rag dolls, but then Snake was twisting himself in the air, and Scarlett realized that he was alive. But then he was pulling Ace around, and using his own body to break the injured pilot's impact on the ground. Snake Eyes crunched into the hard-packed earth of the Arizona desert with enough force to make everyone watching wince in unison, and Ace landed on top of the ninja.

They lay there, limp. Scarlett was pelting towards her lover, and Lifeline was right behind her, trailed by any of the Joes not busy chasing down the last of the squad of vipers who'd managed to find the Joe's supposedly secret live-fire training range.

Lifeline had Ace on a stretcher, and was saying something to the Joe's moving the injured-not dead, thank God-pilot towards the helicopter. Scarlett reached for Snake Eye's wrist, feeling desperately for a pulse. The ninja made no response, his hand limp in hers.

There. A heartbeat, strong and steady. Thank you, oh, thank you god.

"He's unconscious." Lifeline was stating the obvious. "That was a helluva fall; he's probably concussed, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's got a cracked skull…" The medic ran experienced hands over the prone ninja. "No, skull's intact…tough bastard…but this feels like a cracked femur. Help me get him on the stretcher, Red."

She did. Minutes later, and both men were on a troop transport, Scarlett hovering nervously. Lifeline removed Ace's flight helmet; the source of the pilot's injury was obvious. Judging from the twisted plastic and wires over Ace's left ear, a bullet had clipped the man. There was blood matted in the pilot's hair, but Lifeline breathed a soft sigh of relief.

"Just clipped him; he probably lost consciousness when he crashed. He'll be fine." The medic cleaned the cut and applied a pressure bandage.

Snake Eyes stirred, and he suddenly sat abruptly upright. Lifeline yelped in alarm and jumped towards the ninja. "Snake! Careful!"

The ninja ignored him. Seeing Ace laid out with a bandage on his head, the commando went to stand, every line of his body radiating concern. His right leg buckled underneath him, and Scarlett heard his hiss of pain. She shoved a shoulder under his arm and helped him back onto the stretcher.

"You've got a broken leg." Lifeline said dryly. "But I think that you just figured that out, didn't you?"

Snake shot him a look that was scorching even through a visor. *Ace?*

"Will be fine, thanks to you. He got clipped, but the cut is superficial. He's got a nasty concussion from bouncing his forehead off of his instrument panel, but he'll pull through. Incidentally, how's your head feel?"

*Like it got run over by a truck.* Snake Eyes admitted. He glanced at Scarlett. *How…*

"The rest of the team took care of the vipers." She assured him. "You scared me, you know."

*Sorry.* Snake Eyes shook his head suddenly as if to clear it, then winced as if he regretted the motion.

"Dizzy?" Lifeline asked keenly. "Nauseated at all?"

*A little.*

"You're concussed…take your visor off for a minute."

Snake Eyes obeyed, but left his mask on. Lifeline leaned over and examined the ninja's eyes with a penlight. "Pupils aren't dilated…no hemorrhaging, then. I can give you some painkillers for the headache and to take some of the pain out of the leg until we can get it set, but I can't do a whole lot else for you, I'm afraid."

Snake Eyes shook his head, carefully. *I'll be fine.*

Duke poked his head into the transport. "How are our ninja and our pilot doing?" He caught sight of Snake. "Good to see you alive, man."

"Ace got clipped, but it isn't bad. He picked up a concussion in the crash, but he'll pull through…I don't see any symptoms of internal bleeding. Snake Eyes managed to concuss himself and crack his right femur, but you can see he's already alert and refusing medical help, so he'll be fine."

"Good." Duke nodded. "Thanks for saving our air support's ass, Snake Eyes. I'm sure he'll be grateful too, when he wakes up. That was insane, though…you're lucky you didn't get vaporized."

*I'm a ninja. Exploding planes cannot kill us.*

"You're completely crazy, but you know that, don't you?" Duke shook his head. "We're moving out in a few minutes." He vanished.

Snake scooted up just a bit to lean back against the transport wall. He turned to look at Lifeline. *How bad is my leg?*

"I think it's just a hairline, but it's hard to tell without an x-ray. Your bone is still inside your leg, though, so you'll claim to be fine, won't you?" The medic sighed as the ninja smiled a bit.

"Ignore him if he does." Scarlett leveled a finger at Snake. "You will not request an Ace bandage and a sturdy stick this time, buster."

*Yes, ma'm.* Snake signed meekly. Scarlett glared, not fooled. He sighed, winced. *I'll be good. For awhile.*

Scarlett sighed. Snake Eyes hated medical confinement with a passion…something that the new G.I. Joe medic, Carl Greer, hadn't run into yet. So far, the ninja had managed to escape from serious harm, and Doc hadn't yet had to do more than stitch up a few superficial cuts for the commando.

The engine of the troop transport growled to life, and Scarlett felt the familiar little dip in the pit of her stomach as they lifted off.

Several hours and a couple thousand miles later, and Snake Eyes was scowling up at the two medics as Doc frowned at the x-rays that he'd taken of the ninja's leg. Ace was awake, and complaining loudly that he wanted to get out of bed and go blow a few thousand vipers up. As far as Snake could tell, the pilot was more infuriated that his plane had been destroyed than because he'd been hurt.

Doc and Lifeline were ignoring the pilot. Doc glanced down at Snake Eyes, who was sitting with arms crossed over his chest, waiting for the doctor to speak. He shook his head.

"You are one lucky man." Doc said. "I have no idea how you not only managed to survive that fall, but how you managed not to crack your skull and at least ten other bones…and this leg is just an incomplete hairline fracture. It should be in splinters."

Doc frowned at the x-ray again. "You've got some odd bone density readings, here, actually."

*Iron body.* Snake Eyes signed. Doc raised an eyebrow.

"Come again?"

*Iron body…training the body to take greater punishment. Causes bones to harden.* Snake Eyes elaborated. *When I was with the Arishikage family, our masters used to make us spend two hours a day kicking trees, punching buckets of sand, breaking poles over our arms and ribs, breaking boards with our skulls.* The memory of a thousand bruises, and he smiled. Then regretted it; his head still throbbed and spun.

"Ah." Doc's second eyebrow had joined the first. "Well…that would explain why you've got roughly three times the bone density of an average man…and why you didn't break yourself into bite sized bits. Ninja." He sighed, shook his head. "You are completely crazy, you know."

*Comes with the training.* Snake Eyes shrugged.

"Well, you won't be doing any training for a few weeks." Doc said. "I'm going to put a cast on you. Fortunately," The medic smiled a little at the ninja's disgusted snort. "It isn't a bad break, so it won't be the clumsy monstrosity that you're afraid of. I'll put a walking cast on you, so you should still have good mobility and won't need crutches."

Snake Eyes smiled. *That sounds good.*

Lifeline coughed slightly. "Doc? You sure that's a good idea?"

Carl Greer eyed the junior medic. "I really don't see the need for a full-on cast, son…unless you know something I don't."

Snake Eyes caught Lifelines gaze. The medic gulped. "No…Just, well, ninja. You know?"

"Oh, I'm sure Snake Eyes will be careful." Doc smiled. "I'd also like to keep you for observation for at least a week…hard head notwithstanding, you took a hard fall, and I want to make sure that you rest up; it's the best medicine for a concussion."

"Yes…" Lifeline hesitated. "Rest." He trailed off, but Snake Eyes still caught his muttered words. "Like we won't be getting."

Snake Eyes leaned back against his pillow and smiled to himself.

Several hours later, and Scarlett was sitting on the edge of his bed and examining the lightweight walking cast that Doc had fitted him with. She sighed. "He really doesn't know you, does he?"

*You act like I'm going to bolt from the room at any second.*

"You are." She patted him on the arm. "Don't try to deny it; I know you, Snake. Just please hold off the escape for a day or so? You took a hard fall, and I'd feel better if you take it easy for at least a little bit."

*I'm fine, Shana.* He reached over and ran the pad of his thumb over her cheekbone. *A little battered, but fine.*

She leaned into his touch. "One day. Please?"

*Very well…only for you.*

"I love you too, big guy." She smiled down at him. "Even if you seem to think that you have adamantium bones and a healing factor."

*You've been watching too many Saturday morning cartoons.* Snake Eyes considered. *Though that would be nice.*

"If you two can't keep your hands off of each other, at least pull the curtain back so I can watch." Ace's voice came from the other side of the privacy curtain that Doc had erected between the two beds. "Snake, you can keep your clothes on."

Scarlett glared in Ace's direction. "You wish, flyboy."

"I do." Ace sounded plaintive. "Snake Eyes stole the remote control. I'm stuck with watching the National Geographic channel. I'm going slowly crazy without a distraction here."

Scarlett eyed Snake. He grinned. *They're running a special on 'the myth and truth of Japan's shadow warriors'. I want to see how much they get right.*

She laughed, leaned down, and kissed him on the forehead. "I'll be back later. One day."

*One day. I promise."

Next chapter, and Doc learns that keeping a ninja somewhere that he doesn't want to be is a difficult proposition.

I will update my story "Duty as Usual soon, too, but I've had this new story bouncing around in my head and refusing to leave me alone, so I gave up trying to ignore it.