The conclusion of one of my longer stories…I've been working on my other one, too, I swear!

In which Scarlett and Doc chat, and Doc gets to argue with a very much put out ninja. Satisfying conclusions are reached, though Doc might have an ass-beating looming in the not-too-distant future.

Scarlett dropped by the infirmary after she finished working her weapon techniques. First, however, she stopped at the rec room and made a pot of tea.

She sipped from her own mug as she leaned on the medical center's lever handle with one elbow and bumped the door open with her hip. Snake Eyes had long ago turned her into almost as much of a tea snob as himself. He was, she knew, quite proud of this fact.

The door swung open and she paused, blinking. Snake Eyes was sprawled on his bed, soundly asleep. Someone had removed his visor, though his mask was still on, and his boot, Uzis, and visor were stacked neatly next to his bed. Whoever had made the ninja more comfortable had also draped a blanket over him, which moved as the ninja's chest rose and fell.

Scarlett glanced at the clock. It was only seven thirty. Even for BeachHead that was a little early. It was certainly too early for Snake Eyes; she and Snake didn't usually turn in until about ten. Plus, Snake didn't usually sleep on his back; most people might not have thought twice about that, but Scarlett was intimately familiar with the man. She knew him perhaps better than anyone else alive, and she knew his sleeping habits. She should. She'd slept next to him for close to three years, after all.

Doc poked his head out of his office. "Ah. Scarlett. I've been expecting you."

"Is Snake Eyes ok?" She asked bluntly. "It isn't like him to be asleep so early."

Though Doc hadn't ever been told about their relationship, he was a smart and observant man. He'd figured things out quickly enough, and now didn't even raise an eyebrow at her familiarity with Snake Eyes' sleep schedule. He took off his glasses, calmly polishing a smudge from the lens. "Oh, he's fine." The medic smiled, and Scarlett frowned.

"What did you do to him?" Scarlett's voice was a low, dangerous purr.

"Easy, there. He's already sworn to kill me once he comes around. I don't need you both gunning for me." Doc took the thermos from her and took a gulp. "This is good. I'll have to ask him where he gets it." He examined her expression and sighed. "I slipped an oral sedative into his supper. He'll come around in…" Doc glanced at the clock, "…another six to eight hours. He might be a little groggy, sluggish and hung over, but none worse for the wear. Then he and I are going to have a nice little chat."

Scarlett raised her eyebrows. "He is not going to be happy with you."

"Oh, I know." Doc smiled just a little. "I've planned for that. I'll also accept the asskicking that I'm sure is coming my way next time I have mandatory hand-to-hand. But we need to reach some sort of understanding, he and I, or one of two things is going to happen. He'll hurt himself, or I'm going to break the Hippocratic Oath and murder him."

She smiled. "He's always been like this, and he's still around, even if sometimes I have to sit on him while Hawk flat out orders him to comply with medical instructions. He's broken other medics, you know."

Doc smiled again, a glint of teeth in his dark face. "They weren't me. I care about my patients, and I care about what they might do to themselves, even if they don't. I'll fight him to the end if I think that he's putting himself in danger."

"I hope you know what you're doing." Scarlett shook her head.

"Yeah. So do I." He laughed softly. "I'll admit, a ninja is a new challenge for me. How does he vanish out from under my nose so fast, anyways?"

Scarlett shrugged. "He doesn't tell that even to me. It's what he does; you get used to it eventually. He gives the Cobra Commander nightmares." She grinned.

Doc sighed. "I suspected as much. Come back in tomorrow after PT if he's still here."

"Do Duke and Hawk know about this?"

"No. This is between me and our commando." Doc hesitated. "Though…if he kills me, could you help Lifeline explain the situation to our commanding officer?"

Scarlett snorted. "Sure, hang me out to dry. Thanks a lot."

"Well, I'm going to go shower and turn in." Doc drained the thermos and handed it back to her. "I've got an exciting early morning of fighting with a groggy, angry ninja to look forwards to. Think BeachHead would excuse me from PT if I show up with a few dozen broken bones?"

"Probably." Scarlett smiled. "Goodnight and good luck. You'll need it."

The medic sighed. "Don't remind me." He headed out of the infirmary.

"Doc's dead." Ace observed as soon as the doctor was gone.

"Yeah." Scarlett went and sat down on the edge of Snake Eyes' bed. "He is." She cupped Snake Eyes' jaw, running her thumb affectionately over his cheekbone. Even deep in a medicated sleep, he sighed quietly and turned into her touch ever so slightly. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.

"Let Doc live." She told the unconscious man softly. "He's a good guy, and he's just looking out for your stubborn butt. That kind of makes me like him."

Snake Eyes drifted back to consciousness slowly, and then still had to fight to peel his eyelids open. They felt heavy and itchy, and his head felt like it was filled with cotton. He really felt like he had a hangover, which was a sensation that he hadn't felt for a very long time. It wasn't something that he'd particularly ever wanted to feel again.

He blinked up at the ceiling, trying to convince himself that he could, in fact, move. Doc. He needed to kill Doc. Right.

He levered himself into a sitting position and immediately regretted it. The room spun, and the remnants of the medication in his system were still fighting to drag him back down into soft darkness.

It was a measure of just how out of it he still was that it took him a few minutes to notice that his visor was gone, someone had taken his boot off of his good foot, and that his Uzis weren't where he'd left them in their holsters. Someone had also thoughtfully draped a blanket over him.

"Ah. He wakes." Snake Eyes carefully turned his head towards the voice and blinked several times to bring Doc's face into focus.

*You.* He signed clumsily. *Gonna hurt you.*

"Yeah, well, I've got another half-hour or so before you can stand without falling over, so I'm not too worried yet." Doc pulled up a chair and sat down. "Your equipment is by your bed, so don't fret about it. Scarlett stopped by last night just after you went under; I think that she'd like you to let me live, if her opinion carries any weight with you. I think that it does." Doc smiled at him.

*Can maim you.* Snake scowled.

"I'm sure you could." Doc held out a water bottle. "Here. You have to have terrible cotton-mouth right now. That particular family of sedatives will do that."

Snake accepted the water, but hesitated. Doc narrowed his eyes. "I've seen you without that mask before, and I don't really give a damn what you look like, so go ahead. I'm sure as hell not leaving right now, and I know you're thirsty, so it's really up to you."

Snake Eyes reluctantly tugged his mask up far enough to gulp at the blessedly cold water. Doc didn't flinch at the exposed scarring, which did gain him a few points with Snake, but not enough for the ninja to stop considering all the ways to break every bone in the medic's body with his bare hands.

"Now." Doc's voice was conversational. "While you're still stuck here and unable to murder me, I'd like to have a little chat."

Snake Eyes glared, and went to swing his legs over the edge of the bed. Then he sat back again as two Docs briefly spun before him.

"Obviously," Doc said, "we have some issues here. You don't like medical confinement, and after reviewing your file I can understand why. Still, you're in a line of work where you will get injured, and you will end up on my table probably more often than either of us would like. Now, I understand that you don't see the point of medical confinement currently, and I understand that most of the base seems to view your exploits with some kind of tolerant humor. I'm also not blind to the betting pool being run in my infirmary." Doc glared in Ace's direction; the pilot was still snoring happily.

*Is pointless.* Snake signed, still trying to get his eyes to stay focused.

"No, it's not." Doc sighed. "I'm not doing any of this for my own enjoyment, you know. I give the orders I do because I care about my patients and want to see them get better and out of my hands as quickly as possible. I've dealt with your kind before; you think that pushing as soon after an injury as possible will get you better more quickly. It doesn't always work like that. Sometimes, you can end up making things worse, and that means that you'll have to deal with me for even longer." The medic sipped at a coffee mug. "Sometimes, you just have to lay back and let yourself heal for a few days-or weeks-before you're really up to doing what you want to do again."

*Don't like lying around all day.*

"I know you don't, and I really don't care. Now, I have a bargain to propose to you." Doc took another mouthful of coffee and grimaced. "I have to teach these people how to brew this stuff...Anyways, you're right."

That took Snake Eyes by surprise. He blinked. *What?*

"You haven't shown any symptoms of complications from your concussion. You probably are fine, and I'm willing to release you. But there are conditions, and remember, I could just stick you with this." Doc held up a syringe. "And I know you'll stay put for awhile longer. I doubt that you'll be able to dodge me right now. Then, I could hook you up to an IV and keep you in one place until I was sure that you'd rested enough."

Snake Eyes scowled again. *I'd kill you.*

"Yeah, well, that's a risk I'm willing to take." Doc shrugged. "I swore the Hippocratic Oath. I'll make sure that if, by any action, I can keep you from harm, I'll do it. Even if that involves protecting you from your own actions, and even if you don't like it." He smiled thinly at Snake Eyes' open frown. "I know, I'm a cruel man."

"Anyways, I'm willing to discharge you to light duty on the following conditions. One; light duty. That means take it easy. And I want you back in here once a day so that I can keep an eye on you. Also, in the future, I will not confine you to the infirmary unless I think it completely necessary. Second condition however, is that if I ask you to check in at regular intervals for observation, you will do so. Third; if I do deem it necessary for you to spend some time in my medical center, you will trust that I am doing it for your own good and you will not fight me-at least until you are out of immediate danger. I spent many years in school for the express purpose of keeping people alive and healthy, and I did it because that's what I care about. I do not particularly care that the people I save like me; their continued healthy existence is enough praise for me. Do we have an understanding?"

*You drugged me.* Snake Eyes glared. *I really don't like being drugged against my will.*

"You're coming around a bit more…getting more lucid, anyways." Doc smiled. "Remember this, too; you have to eat and drink sometime, ninja, and I'm a very inventive and sometimes very subtle man with a large pharmacopoeia at my fingertips. It would be far easier on me simply to sedate you and hook you up to IV's for a few days whenever you end up in my care, and if that's what it takes to get you to stay put and heal, I have no problem doing so. I think that you would not like that arrangement nearly as much as my other proposal."

Snake Eyes considered for a long moment. *Still going to beat you through the floor.*

"I expected as much." Doc nodded.

*Not promising that I won't vanish on you.*

"So long as you do it after your life isn't in immediate danger any longer. Hawk apparently thinks that it's good practice for you anyways."

*I'll always start working my techniques as soon as I can stand upright.*

"So long as long as you don't do them somewhere where a dizzy spell could send you fifty feet headfirst into cement. You can hide out on the roof, but stay off of the walls and cliff faces until I clear you for regular duty."

*Fine.* Snake sighed.

"Good." Doc got to his feet, looking satisfied. "I swear to God, you are the most difficult patient I've ever dealt with."

Snake Eyes smiled a little at that. He wasn't having as much difficulty focusing now, and his head was starting to clear. *Ninja.*

"Are all ninja as bad as you?" Doc winced at Snake's nod. "Jesus. I'm glad you're the only one I have to battle."

*I may take apprentices someday.* Snake Eyes smiled wickedly at Doc's groan. *I'll train them to be just as stubborn as myself.*

"You would. Now, I'm going to go get some more coffee and change into some clothes that I don't mind BeachHead destroying with his damned obstacle courses. You're free to leave as soon as you can stand without falling over, which by my estimate should be another fifteen or twenty minutes."

In response, Snake Eyes pulled himself to his feet, sternly keeping himself straight even when the room swam for a second. Doc's eyebrows rose. "I'm going to have to adjust dosages of some medicines on you, I just know it." The medic shook his head. "See me tonight after supper, and I'll tell Scarlett that you're supposed to check in once a day for a few more days."

*You learn fast.* Snake Eyes carefully headed for the door. *As soon as this cast comes off, you are dead.*

"Yeah, yeah." Doc followed him out into the hallway. "I'm looking forwards to it. By the way…who had you escaping five times?"

*Scarlett.* Snake Eyes smiled. *Almost sixteen hundred dollars, last I knew.*

Doc laughed aloud at that. "That woman is either very smart or very lucky."

*She knows me, and she's good at judging people.* Snake pointed out. *You know, I could just maim you a little right now.*

Doc did glance back nervously at that. "I'm sure you could."

Snake Eyes suddenly started for him, and the medic was twenty yards down the hallway in the blink of an eye. Snake Eyes smiled. Yes, he was going to beat the medic through the practice mats, but he could also torture him a bit first-it'd help make the remaining weeks he had to spend in this damned cast more bearable.

Doc deserved a bit of fear for that stunt with the sedative, after all. Snake Eyes headed for his own quarters, the promise of weeks to spend reducing Doc to a nervous wreck cheering him up considerably.

He thought that he might come to quite like the new medic.