Twenty five miles and a two mile cooldown later, and Tommy was feeling pretty good. He scrutinized the motor pool entrance; per usual, it was open to ventilate the area. Clutch and his grease monkeys were buried in the engine of one of the battered old transport trucks, and CoverGirl was fiddling with her favorite Wolverine again, bent over at an angle that actually provided a pretty good view. Clutch straightened to grab a rag and apparently noticed this fact; even hidden in the brush twenty yards from the other Joes, Tommy heard the mauler driver.

"Nice...hey, Courtney, you wanna bend over a little further?"

A wrench bounced off of Clutch's head, accompanied by a really caustic string of expletives from CoverGirl. Clutch yelped and ducked a second missile; Tommy took full advantage of the commotion and slid unobserved into the motor pool, vanishing promptly into the shadows.

He made his way unobserved to his room, where this time he actually did shower. He examined his stitches, too. There was dried blood on his bandages; he'd torn the barely-scabbed incision open again when he'd pulled the stitches out.

Damn. He'd torn out three of them. He considered ignoring the problem; he'd heal soon enough anyways, and technically it would just be fewer stitches for Doc to remove.

Of course, Doc probably wouldn't see it that way. Deciding that he might as well suck it up, he sighed and headed for the infirmary. With any luck, Doc would be distracted enough stitching up Clutch's forehead to minimize the lecturing.

Lifeline, looking distinctly irritated, was the medic on duty. As soon as Storm Shadow sauntered as casually as he possibly could through the infirmary door, Lifeline was paging Doc. The combat medic fixed the ninja with a glare that could have stripped paint.

"It isn't noon." Storm pointed out. It was, in fact, exactly five minutes to. "I'm following instructions."

"How badly did you screw up our work?" Lifeline narrowed his eyes. "I triple-tied those stitches, but you still managed to pull some if I know you."

Doc stormed through the door just then. Storm Shadow sighed; the doctor's expression was livid.

"Sit." The doctor growled, pointing at the nearest examination table.

"In my defense, I would like to point out that you didn't tell me that I wasn't allowed to run." Tommy obeyed the order. "And I turned myself in before noon, so technically I am doing as I was told."

"Shut up." Doc growled. "Shirt off, and if you try giving me any excuses I will sedate you and sew your mouth shut."

"I'm just saying." Tommy tugged his tank top off. "If you didn't want me running, you should have been more specific...ow!"

Doc, who'd just peeled off the bandages without any care for whatever body hair the dressing was stuck to, glowered. "Don't whine...three?"

Lifeline sighed and went to fetch suturing supplies. "Triple tied...heavy duty thread...and he still pops them out."

"Good thing you did tie them as securely as you did, or he'd have torn open the whole incision." Doc glared at the ninja. "And then he'd have been in here bleeding all over the floor, and still acting like it's my fault for not itemizing an entire list of things he's not allowed to do. Things that should be common goddamn sense, like don't run a bloody marathon when you've just had fairly major surgery to remove a damn arrowhead from your ribcage."

"I don't need my ribs to run." Tommy pointed out. "I popped the stitches when I was hiding from Lifeline. If he had just let me be, I'd be fine." He winced again as Doc cleaned the freshly-opened injury with disinfectant and jabbed a needle through his skin.

"Don't you dare act like it's my fault." Lifeline crossed his arms. "This is all on you and your apparent conviction that you're Superman."

"Three weeks of full medical leave." Doc said savagely, tying a final knot.

Tommy swiveled and scowled. "What?"

"You heard me. One for each stitch, and every time you come back to have another one replaced I'll tack on another week." Doc started taping a fresh gauze pad over the incision. "Nothing else seems to get to you."

"Three weeks? For ripping out a few stitches?"

"Argue and I'll make it a month even." Doc shoved the tray of suturing equipment at Lifeline and folded his arms. There was a steely gleam in the medic's eyes. "And I still expect you to check in every day. Miss one check-in and I'll make it two months of leave."

Tommy glared back, but didn't say anything.

Lifeline chipped in. "My new trank gun should be here within a week, and Doc ordered an extra...so if you fight us, in addition to leave, its open season on ninja. I may simply let anyone use the trank guns and sedative darts and offer a reward for anyone who can bring you in. Saves me so much running around."

Doc eyed the combat medic with approval. "That's an idea, actually. Maybe I'll put another half dozen on order."

"Low Light would be ecstatic...he's been trying to figure out more difficult training exercises for the advanced marksmen class." Lifeline observed.

"I'll fill out the forms and get them submitted."

"I get it." Tommy snarled. "Be a good little boy. Can I go now?"

Doc flicked a hand in a 'shooing' motion. "Please. Get out, before I change my mind and decide sedating you for the next week is worth the risk of broken hands."

Tommy stomped out in a royally foul mood.

His mood hadn't improved any by dinnertime. Dusty, a package tucked under one arm, spotted him brooding over his food and trotted over.

"You owe me twenty bucks." The desert trooper eyed the ninja. "Um...You okay?"

"Fine." Tommy said shortly. He extracted a twenty from his back pocket and slapped it down on the table. "There."

Dusty eyed him. "How many stitches did you pull, and how long are you on medical leave?"

"Go. Away."

"More or less than a month?"

Storm glared.

"Right. I was just heading this direction...away from touchy ninja in deep shit with their doctors...bye now." Dusty set the package on the table and beat a hasty retreat, pocketing the money.

Tommy returned his tray and headed for the roof, stopping by his room to drop off the peace offering chocolates. On the roof, the really spectacular view of the sun setting over the Pit complex cheered him up slightly. The uninvited company that turned up a few minutes later didn't.

He was meditating on the edge of the roof, slowly calming himself, when he heard a familiar heartbeat. He opened his eyes; Snake Eyes was leaning against the safety wall ten feet away.

*Three weeks?*

Tommy scowled. "Completely unreasonable."

*What did you do?*

"Went for a run, and pulled three stitches when I was hiding from Lifeline and Spirit."

*Ouch.* Snake Eyes shook his head. *That is rather unreasonable. God knows I've done more or less the same thing more than a few times. Much worse, often enough.*

Tommy sighed; at least his sword brother was sympathetic. "To make things worse, he says that if I do anything as insignificant as turn myself in to the medical Nazis five minutes late, he'll make it two months."

Snake Eyes winced. *Are you still in female trouble?*

"No, thank the merciful gods."

*Well, if you need to vent...* Snake Eyes shrugged. *I'll leave you alone to sulk now.*

Tommy almost smiled. "You're a good friend."

*I try.* Snake smiled under his mask and melted back into the early evening shadows.

Feeling marginally better, Tommy returned to contemplation.

It was several hours later before he finally made his way back down to his quarters. Just inside his door, he paused, blinking.

Sherry was sitting on his bed, scrutinizing the box of chocolates. There were several empty spaces in the box already. She carefully selected one and nibbled experimentally; her face lit up.

"Ooh...coconut cream. I'm assuming these were for me?"

Tommy blinked again. "Why are you naked? Not that I'm complaining."

"Because I heard about your little adventure today, and I know you well enough to know that if you get a good sulk going you will be absolutely impossible to be around for the next week. I think it's called 'taking one for the team'."

He grinned. "I may need to be snapped out of a bad mood every day for the next few weeks."

"Ha. Don't push your luck, ninja."

Finis.