Chap 3

Last chapter! Can they get him back to the Pit in time?

* * * *

Lifeline was putting in i.v. lines and hanging bags of fluids. "He needs blood.." He bent over his patient. "Hey Snake Eyes.. still with us?" He watched the eyes flutter open and look around. "Alright, you stay awake.. you're gonna be just fine.. have several thousand stitches, Doc and I will get hand cramps tying all those knots.. hope you're happy." He was given a thumb's up from the commando and couldn't help but smile. "You're so difficult. Feeling more alert? The fluids will help a lot.." He reached over and grabbed more bandages to begin working on his other leg. While it didn't have the huge gaping wound his left leg did, it was still sliced badly in a few places.

"Beach.. help me with his leg, I want to wrap these up too, it's not as bad as that left.." BeachHead reached under Snake Eyes thigh to lift the leg up, and jumped when blood poured out. "Oh no.." The medic grabbed bandages and leaned down. "Pick it up higher.." Scarlett gasped in horror as the crimson stain flooded the stretcher and spilled onto the chopper deck. Lifeline whipped a strip of bandage around the upper thigh and tied it off, twisting it tightly to slow the bleeding. Then he tried to find the bleed. "Oh geez..." He triggered the comm unit. "Doc.. I got a secondary bleed on his other thigh."

Scarlett patted the commando's cheek. "Snake Eyes.. Snake Eyes.. please.. he's fading Lifeline.. do something.." She leaned down and spoke to his face earnestly as his eyes dimmed. "Come on, stay with me.. hang on.. we're almost to base.. Doc is waiting for you.. stay with me.. no no.. " She watched with horror as his skin paled visibly and the almost alert eyes became unfocused and rolled up into his head. "Lifeline!!"

The medic tightened the tourniquet more, talking to Doc via comm. "We got problems.. massive blood loss, he's unconscious, unresponsive, BP is nonexistent, recommend course of action?!" There was silence for a long instant.

"Hit him with a shot of adrenaline.. cardiac direct." Lifeline acknowledged and grabbed his small bag, drawing out a syringe and attaching a long needle. "Make sure you hit the ventricle.."

The medic responded tersely. "I know how to do it.." He felt across the ninja's chest carefully, finding exactly the right dip in muscle. Aiming the needle, he jabbed it in, plunging it directly into the heart itself and injecting the liquid. Drawing it back out, he puffed out the breath he'd been holding. "It's in.." Slipping the stethoscope back up to his ears, he listened. "BeachHead.. squeeze those iv bags.. open the drips up full bore.." Slipping the ear pieces back out, he tugged the comm unit back into place. "He's still got a pulse, but it's erratic."

A new voice came over the earpiece. "You get him here, we'll put him back together."

Lifeline looked confused. "Who is this?"

The voice sounded cheerful. "Hey, I'm Dr. Piernick, surgical specialist. I've fixed up shark victims and such, your friend will do just.."

The medic got an angry look. "Get off my comm line!! Brag about yourself on your own time, and get off the comm line! Doc.. pulse erratic, but we almost got a BP. What's our ETA, Wild Bill?"

The somber voice came from the cockpit. "Twenty-seven minutes.."

"Unacceptable Wild Bill, can you get us there faster?" The medic handed Scarlett another bag of fluid. "Change the empty out for that.. and squeeze it.. he'll be bleeding out saline but it'll be pumping."

The texan pilot's voice sounded distressed. "Lifeline, I've got her at redline and then some. I'm eeking ever' bit of speed I can outa it."

"Eek more.. or Snake Eyes isn't going to make it." They all heard the engines begin to strain just a little more.

* * * *

Landing at the Pit nineteen minutes later..

Lifeline grabbed a side of the stretcher, and BeachHead grabbed the other. Scarlett went ahead, making a clear aisle by main force when necessary. Doc had wheeled a gurney up and they deposited the limp form onto it. Scarlett followed after them, with Lifeline beside Doc rattling off the vitals and information. BeachHead stood there breathing hard. He turned and walked back out to the chopper, ignoring everyone's questions.

Flint followed after him. "Snakes looks bad.. how bad is he?" BeachHead shook his head and turned. Flint blanched at the blood covered sergeant. "Good lord! Are you okay?"

"I'm.. I'm fine..." BeachHead suddenly staggered to the side and bent over to vomit. Flint reached to take his shoulder. "I'm okay.. leave me alone.." He gasped hard. "He's cut to pieces.. we got the guys who put those wires up.. we got 'em." Flint nodded and handed him a cloth. "Thanks.." He wiped his mouth and looked at the chopper.. and then down at the floor.. with the trail of blood spatter. Twisting away, he retched again, and Flint stepped up to help him.

Flints voice was as hard as his namesake as he turned to some of the motorpool crew. "Get that chopper cleaned up.. get the blood out of here.." He swallowed hard and gave the shaken man beside him a quick pat. "It's alright Beach, he'll be fine. Snakes is tough."

* * * *

Duke finally walked into the Pit hours later. The motorpool was suspiciously crowded with people, as was the messhall and rec room. He looked around at the worried faces. "I haven't heard more than he's still alive. When I know, you'll know." They parted in front of him, until Ripcord stopped him.

"Duke.. you need to.." The exhausted lieutenant shook his head, brushing his friend aside. "Duke.. " His hissed whisper stopped him finally. "Duke.. at least go clean up.. you're still covered in blood.." Duke glanced down at the dark caked blood all over his fatigues.

"Oh..." He turned and headed for his quarters. "Thanks.. I gotta change.." Ripcord followed after him. Once they were in his quarters, Ripcord took the clean clothing from his hands.

He shook his head. "Showers first.. Duke.. are you okay?"

Duke gazed at his hands, still spattered with blood, like the rest of him. "Yeah... Rip.. he was real bad.. I just don't understand.." He sat down in his chair suddenly. "We were going fine.. flight path was easy with those jet units.. it was great.. and then suddenly he.. he just shut off his jet, and it flipped over.."

Ripcord shook his head. "I don't know man. Maybe he saw the wires."

Duke twisted his hands. "If he saw the wires.. why didn't he avoid them? Why would he have shut the engines down? Why make it flip into the wire trap? Why didn't he warn us? First we knew, was when his engines went off, and.. " He became thoughtful. "He blew on the mic.. and he shut the engines off, and.. he was warning us about the wires.."

Ripcord sighed. "It sounds like something Snakes would do.. especially with Scarlett following. What else could he do to warn you? The man can't shout a warning.."

Duke got up and paced out. "I have to get cleaned up. Hawk said he's running a unit to check out those wires and see how Cobra got out there."

Ripcord handed the clothing over. "I'll head down now.. see if I can get an update." Duke nodded, and left without commenting further.

* * * *

Scarlett was seated in the front of the medical emergency ward when Ripcord entered. "Hey.. Scarlett... have you heard anything?" She looked up and he felt a pang at how terrible she looked. Her beauty was drawn out by the worry and pain.

"Yeah.. nurses have said everything is going fine, about ten times." She leaned forward and he held out the coffee cup. "Thanks." He motioned for her to come with him.

"Come on.. you need to come eat something." She shook her head. "No really.."

"No... I'm not leaving. I'm waiting until I hear from someone, Snake Eyes is in there somewhere, and I'm not about to leave him alone." Ripcord sat down next to her. "He's everything.."

"I know girl.. I know." He hazarded putting an arm around her. "He'll pull through. He's Snake Eyes.. he'll probably come dragging his tough ninja butt out the door there any minute, waving his hands all over griping at everyone about how he's perfectly fine."

She laughed and then sniffled. "Yeah.. I know. But he was cut up so bad. Duke didn't want to let me set eyes on him.. He'll make it. There's some special surgeon here at the Pit.. Lifeline yelled at him over the comm."

Ripcord gave her a confused look. "Uhh.. Lifeline? Yelled?"

She smiled and drank some of the coffee. "Yeah.. he was in medic-mode and whoever this hotshot doctor is, he was talking on the comm link.. and Lifeline let him have it, told him to get off 'his' comm line. It was grand. He kept Snakes alive on the chopper. Him and BeachHead."

The paratrooper gave her a startled look. "BeachHead? You mean he can do something other than yell really loudly?" She rolled her eyes. "Kidding.. he's a good guy.. I know. Never pictured him doing medic duty though."

"Yeah.. well Duke and him kept Snakes alive until I could get Lifeline there.. Beach has been a good friend. People just tune him out because he's the drill sergeant. Just like everyone tunes Snake Eyes out because he's the silent ninja."

He nodded. "Sometimes people can't past the surface. It's not just Snakes.. or BeachHead. But most of the Joes do make more effort to know their team. We're a family here. And right now, everyone is pulling for Snakes to make it, and come storming out of here, against Doc's orders.. just like always."

She smiled and leaned her head over onto his shoulder briefly. "Thanks. He's a tough guy, but everyone's number has to come up sometime." He bumped his head into hers gently. "I know, I know. Think positive."

He grinned at her. "No way, think the very worst is gonna happen.. that way you're sure to be pleasantly surprised." She sighed at him.

"I guess.." She suddenly jumped up when Lifeline came walking out.

He wiped his face and looked at her. "Come on back.." Ripcord stood up anxiously. The medic seemed to see him and shook his head. "Not you.. but you can let people know. He'll pull through just fine."

Rip leapt up in the air and pumped his fist. "Yeah! I told you Scarlett!" He trotted off to spread the news. Scarlett followed the medic.

"He's not awake, but I know you need to see him." Lifeline looked over at her. "He'll recover, really. I'm sorry I couldn't come out sooner. We've literally been stitching on him for hours it seems. That surgeon was a huge help, he really is good. After I apologized for yelling at him, we got along great."

Scarlett nodded at the commentary, but was more focused on getting to the back. They finally got back to the ICU recovery room and she moved to the side of the bed, reaching out to take the limp fingers in her hand.

"Hey Snakes..." She took in the yards of bandaging. For once, his face was nearly the only uncovered part of him. Scarlett let her fingers comb through the short blond hair, and stroked his scarred cheek lightly. "You're gonna be fine." Lifeline cleared his throat and she stepped back in time for a strange doctor to enter.

The tall handsome man in scrubs smiled at her and extended a hand. "Dr. Piernick, surgeon." She shook his hand and watched him beam at the unconscious commando. "Some good work, putting this fellow back together. Pity about his face." She felt herself twitch and tried not to show it. "Was a bit of a job, but then, I usually end up working with animal attacks.. same sort of injury. So it wasn't anything new." She saw Lifeline rolling his eyes and tried not to snicker.

Scarlett crossed her arms and stood listening as he went on for a few moments about the types of complex surgeries he'd preformed. "Wow.. yes. I'm sure Snake Eyes was lucky to have you around today. With as badly off as he was, it was probably quite the job to get him stitched back up."

That sent him off on another long explanation of how delicate and complex it was, and how superb a job he'd done. She nodded and hummed at the appropriate spots. Finally something caught her attention. "I'm sorry... what?"

He smiled. "Well I was just explaining that the repair work on his throat was pretty delicate. But I'm certain it won't affect his voice, once it heals, he'll be just as good as new." His beaming smile didn't diminish even as she half-closed one eye, looking at him.

"Really? That's good." Her sarcasm went unmarked. After a few more minutes, he finally announced he had to go do important things and left. When he was out of sight, she sighed. "How do you stand to be around him, Lifeline?"

The medic groaned and shook his head. "I can't. I usually just avoid him as much as possible. But.. he is one of the best surgeons, especially for reconstructive traumatic injuries. But there were three of us in the OR working on Snake Eyes. I'd love to tell you the number of stitches we put in, but we all stopped counting after a thousand."

She turned back and took hold of his fingers again. "But, he'll be fine, right?" Lifeline nodded and ran a quick check of vital signs again. "Thanks Lifeline."

He grinned, still checking the settings on the monitor. "All part of my job. I get paid to put you guys back together."

She reached over and squeezed his arm fondly. "No.. I'm pretty sure there was no clause about riding double on an experimental personal aircraft, or about piecing together a sliced up ninja in the field with only the medical equipment you could stuff in your shirt."

Now the medic grinned at her. "Well.. no. But the ride wasn't that bad. The scenery was grand!" She rolled her eyes. "Seriously, it was fine. Whatever got me to my patient in time. As it turns out, BeachHead was doing pretty good without me. It was just a lot of work putting Snake Eyes back together, it was like fixing a kid's toy after they threw a tantrum on it. But now that he's out of the woods, it'll just be a few days before he can start getting up and around. It'll be weeks before he's recovered, but I know he'll be pushing to get out as soon as he can crawl out of the bed. Doc was giving Hawk the full report, so I better get back there."

Scarlett pulled the room's chair over and settled in to wait. Sooner or later, her ninja would wake, and she wanted to be here when he did.

* * * *

"Scarlett?" She blinked at Duke's concerned face. "Hey... how're you doing?" She groaned and sat up from the awkward slouch she'd slid into.

"I'm fine.." She automatically got up to check on Snake Eyes. "He's doing fine too. How about you?"

He shrugged, and then gave her a sideways look. "I'm okay.. I figured out why Snakes here shut off the jet engines and ended up in the wires, rather than avoiding it.." She only gave him a raised eyebrow. "If he had shot upwards over it, we both would have ended up in it, probably head first and sliced to ribbons. He had no other way to warn us.. other than basically hitting it himself."

"Oh no.." She shook her head. "It makes sense.. Snakes would do that. We wouldn't have seen it until it was too late.. we almost didn't climb at a steep enough angle as it was. Did Hawk find out about the wire trap?"

Duke looked grim. "Cobra operatives of course. They were on hand to seize the jet units, but typically, they screwed up and weren't in position until back up arrived, and unfortunately for them, my back-up was BeachHead with a fifty cal, and Ace with some big heavy crates. Good thing.. if they'd tried to hit us even five minutes earlier, I'd have been a sitting duck."

She smiled. "You did good. Annd Beach, and Ace, and Lifeline... as always, the Joes always win out in the end." She felt a tug on her fingers and whipped around to see Snake Eyes opening his eyes to look at her. "Hey! How's the big bad ninja man?" He lifted a bandaged hand up wincing to sign at her shortly.

*When leave?*

She rolled her eyes and shook her finger sternly. "No leaving. Right now, you're laying here and healing. You have more stitches in you than a clothing factory. Tell you what.. if they say you can have food, I'll even bring you stuff from Roadblock, instead of whatever stuff they say you can have."

He rolled his eyes and looked at Duke who shrugged elaborately at him. "I told you so. Should have listened."

The ninja pointed at him briefly. *Saving butt kicking later* He paused then signed slower. *Thank you.*

Duke grinned. "Hey, it was nothing, you'd have done the same thing for me."

He coughed slightly at him, shaking his head. *Help up*

Now Duke shook his head firmly. "No way. You're staying put for a while. I know.. add another butt kicking to my list, I'll get them all at once. I gotta go, Hawk is livid that Cobra was right inside our testing area and no one saw them. They had the tanks in pits dug into the sand, who knows how long they were out there. The wires were strung overnight."

Snake Eyes reached up and Duke grabbed his hand and squeezed gently. He gave a small nod to the lieutenant and turned loose to sign once more hopefully. *Help up?*

Now Duke laughed. "You're just trying to get me into trouble. Stay put until Doc says otherwise. Scarlett, get some rest." He strode out, leaving behind the redhead scolding a very uncontrite ninja.

Scarlett propped her chin in her hand, looking at him shifting uncomfortably in the bed. "I'm really happy you'll be okay. You really had us scared for a while. Odd how it seems you end up putting yourself in harm's way so often for the team.. when they all just think you're the deadliest thing ever born, no mercy, no heart, scary ninja." She saw him roll his eyes at her and smiled. "It's okay.. I know you're a big old softie, but I won't tell." He struggled to lift his hand, already exhausted just from the brief talk with Duke and her. "What? What can I do?"

*Help up?*

"No! I'm not helping you up out of the bed!! Stubborn blasted ninjas!!"

* * * *

End Fic:

Yep.. that's the end. I figured I'd just stick all three chapters up at once, give you all a treat. Hope you enjoyed. Remember, Reviews let me know what you like and don't like and also trigger plot bunnies that turn into MORE fics. You don't HAVE to review, but if you DON'T review, I won't know what you liked!