This is a plot bunny gone rabid, demanding attention (or to be put down if you prefer more sadistic expressions).

This is, as will quickly become obvious, set at a time where Storm Shadow is a member of GI Joe.

"Hey, Snake Eyes!" Ace greeted. "Heard you guys kicked Cobra's butt again… good job, buddy!"

Snake Eyes nodded and walked past Ace. Something in his stance told Ace the ninja was far from happy.

"Er… Is something up?" He asked.

Snake Eyes turned around to face him again and signed shortly that he was aware of the latest betting pool.

Ace's face fell briefly before settling back into a would-be-carefree smile.

"Oh. Err… well… you don't mind a bit of harmless speculation, do you?"

Snake Eyes crossed his arms and nodded firmly to signify that he did, in fact, mind. He uncrossed his arms again to sign a demand that the speculation and betting cease.

Ace's face fell again and this time, he did not bother to try and recompose it.

"All right." He said.

Snake Eyes snarled under his mask at the obvious lie. He signed that he had better not find out the betting was still going on and turned on his heels, leaving Ace standing in the hallway.

"Yo, Ace! Got anything out of him?" Clutch greeted as soon as Ace entered the rec room.

Ace sighed and shook his head.

"Not unless you count threats."

"You're kiddin'." Shipwreck said, evidently in shock. "Snake Eyes? He threatened you?"

"I didn't even get to try and talk it out of him. He knew we were trying to figure it out, and he wasn't happy." Ace replied.

"You're not… giving up, are you?" Dusty asked.

"No." Ace grinned. "It's Snake Eyes. You know he wouldn't actually hurt us, and he wouldn't tattle, either. Maybe he'll take it out on some Cobra…" Ace trailed off and his eyes went wide.

"Storm Shadow!" He exclaimed, grinning. "There's no WAY he doesn't know it! Be right back. Bets still stand? No new entries?"

"Terrence for 20." Ace jumped and turned around to find Flint staring at him from his favourite reading chair, a thick file on his lap.

Ace quickly shook off the surprise and took out his notepad.

"Flint: Terrence." He said as he wrote. "Twenty bucks. Gotcha."

"Where'd you get THAT idea, Flint?" Shipwreck asked.

"His twin sister was called Terri." Flint shrugged. "Terri and Terry. Besides, it'd be a good reason for him not to want to be called like that, by anybody, ever. I can't think of another reason why he'd be so set on keeping his name hidden, either."

"Right. Retired the name like a number." Clutch said in a philosophical tone. "Meh. I still say it's Mark. It fits." He added, targeting an invisible 'mark' using his hand as a pretend gun.

"We'll find out soon." Ace said, getting up. "Storm's on KP tonight for complaining about the food too much again. I swear, like there's anything wrong with Mac & Cheese with wieners."

He trotted off.

Storm Shadow chuckled to himself when he heard Ace trampling in his direction. He finished drying the pot he'd just rinsed and turned towards the door, leaning on the counter next to the sink and smirking.

Ace entered and grinned at him like they were best buddies.

"Tommy!" He greeted, grabbing a dishcloth.

Storm Shadow raised an eyebrow, pleasantly surprised. He hadn't expected Ace would go so far as helping him.

"I can't believe you're still here. On dishes, now?" Ace pattered on, absently scrubbing an already clean plate.

"They ran out of ceiling fans for me to scrub. Hand that over, it's clean."

Ace handed the plate over with a warm smile.

"Goodness, you're layering it on thick." Storm Shadow observed. "How much money are you going to make if none of the bets turn out?"

"About 500." Ace said off-handedly. "Wait… you know about that?"

Storm Shadow nodded and wagged a finger at him, his smile gone.

"I overheard some of the guys talking about it. If you can't help being nosy, you people should at the very least work on being less noisy about it. I'd be furious on my brother's behalf if not for the fact you have no chance of finding what you're looking for. As it is, I can't decide whether I'm amused or irritated."

Ace stopped washing.

"Did you tell Snake Eyes?"

"Of course." Storm Shadow said, now frowning. "It's very important to him that his name remain secret; I could not possibly fail to let him know some of our team mates were trying to uncover it for sport. I'm guessing from your question that he's already confronted you about this and let you know his feelings, so why haven't you dropped it yet?"

"It's not like WE're the enemy." Ace said defensively while scrubbing a saucepan. "Why does he need to keep his name secret from US? Nobody else around here does that. Nobody."

"Because it's important to him that his name remain secret." Storm Shadow repeated, grabbing the clean saucepan from Ace's hands to rinse and dry it.


Storm Shadow shot him an annoyed look.

"Because it is. Why is it important to YOU? You already have a name to call him by, what does it matter that it's not the one he was given at birth?"

"Do YOU know what his real name is?"

"Define 'real'." Storm Shadow said. "To me, the word that best expresses who he is, is 'brother'."

"What would have been the name on his ID when you first met him?" Ace said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. He wouldn't dare imply that a ninja could be corny, but Storm Shadow got pretty darn close, sometimes.

Storm Shadow snickered.

"Did you actually think I would tell you if you only managed to phrase your question so that the only right answer was the one you wanted? Really?"

"You said it was important to him that it stayed secret. Why? He never wants to hear it again, or something?" Ace asked, thinking of Flint's guess.

Storm Shadow turned around and gave him such a glare that Ace took a step back.

"I will not tell you anything more on this subject." The ninja growled. "You may not respect my brother's wish, but I do. Cancel the betting pool, Ace, before the end of the night. This is NOT a request."

Ace gulped and hurried out of the kitchen. Storm Shadow listened to him running off back towards the rec room and smiled to himself as he started the dishes again, satisfied that his warning would be heeded better than his overly revered and trusted brother's had been.

Flint laughed out loud when Ace entered the room, looking distinctly disgruntled. Ace glared at him.

"Should have known." He grumbled. "You wouldn't throw 20 on such a risky bet."

"What? Did he tell you?" Clutch asked eagerly. "It's Terrence? Really?"

"He didn't tell him a thing." Flint answered for him, chuckling. "Like I knew he wouldn't." He added, looking extremely pleased with himself. "Like you should all have known too."

"The pool is off." Ace confirmed, crashing into his chair and taking out a deck of cards. "Who cares, anyway? Snake Eyes is a good name for him."

Author's Notes:

At least that pesky bunny will leave me alone now. Hope you enjoyed! Reviews, as always, are insanely appreciated!