Something different, this is an AU story, and thus does not fit in with any of my other stories. Yes, CHARACTER DEATH, but with the twist of him returning. It's one of the odd ideas that grew in my head until I caved and typed it out, and it's since grown to a full fledged story.

Once you get past the actual death, it's going to be somewhat humorous, although there's some touching moments that might illicit a sniffle.

Standard Disclaimer, I do not own GI Joe, and I make no money from the writing I do. Please enjoy and review if you so desire.

* * * * Caution Death Scene* * * *

BeachHead struggled to gasp.. he was drowning.. in the middle of a desert he was managing to drown, ironic and annoying at the same time. Everything had simply gone dark so quickly, and he'd fallen down.. he was certain he'd fallen down. Hawk's voice kept fading in and out nearby, shouting at him. Couldn't the man see he'd fallen down? Why wouldn't he pull him out of the stupid water.. why didn't he feel wet?

He shuddered, struggling suddenly even though he couldn't quite grasp what was wrong.. why was he so cold...

"Ha..hawk..?" He distinctly felt his body lifted as someone sat him up some. With the movement came a few breaths of air. There was no water.. he wasn't in water.. he felt sand trickling between his fingers.. something wet and warm under his tactical vest.. he was soo lightheaded.. did he really faint? He'd be really embarrassed if he'd fainted out here.. there was a battle to finish up.. greenshirts to count the heads of and see who he'd be writing letters home for...

"Beach.. hang on.. blazes.. MEDIC!! MEDIC!! Get over here! Someone get a blasted medic here! BeachHead.. hey.. stay with me.."

He felt himself blink and swore he could almost see light.. shadows moved near him. "..d-don't... " Beach suddenly began to fade, he was barely aware of his vest being pulled open, it was like he just needed to rest.. just for a moment.. the battle was over.. just some mopping up.. he could just lie still and rest.. "..s-sooo.. tired.."

"BEACH!! NO! Stay with me.. " Hawk sounded pretty upset.. but he'd get over it.. Beach'd explain later, he just needed a minute to rest.. just ... just a minute.. then he'd get up..

...everything just seemed to fade out.. the little hazy bits of light went away.. the fact that he couldn't seem to get enough air didn't seem important.. just.. just a little rest.. then it'd be okay....

* * * *

Lifeline sprinted up, dropping to the ground next to General Hawk. "How bad is it?"

Hawk looked at him, despair written across his face. "You're too late.. it just took a minute.. he's gone.. the round went right through his vest.. just walked right through it.. it must have been a high powered rifle.."

The medic dragged the limp body out of his arms and pulled the vest and torn open shirt aside. "You don't know that! It's not too late! I just got word you needed me! Come on Beach!" He did a sternum rub. "Come on!!" He ignored the cooling skin and placed his palms over the bloody chest to begin compressions. The first two compressions caused blood to pour out of the ridiculously small hole. He stopped.. looking at the oozing blood. "Oh... god no..." He reached to flash his penlight into the dully unresponsive eyes. Both pupils were wide and didn't react. "Oh god no.. "

Hawk placed a hand on his shoulder. "He's gone.. you can't help him.. " He got to his feet and gazed around, bringing his attention back to the battlefield. "Someone give me a status report.." He paused and looked down at the body next to the distraught medic. "Someone... someone carry Beach off the field.. don't leave him out here. Lifeline.. other people need you. Go see to them." He walked away, numbly forcing his attention where needed.

Lifeline struggled to get to his feet. Then he bent and pulled the shirt closed.. refastening the useless tac vest carefully. "You guys take care of him.." He resolutely turned his face away, looking for his medical bag. He trotted away, leaving two corpsmen to gather up the body and remove it.

* * * *

The sniper bullet had taken the Sergeant Major through the chest.. blowing apart one of the major arteries on top of the heart. He'd bled out so quickly that he'd been fading before he ever finished hitting the ground. Hawk had been looking right at him, amused at the quick happy expression the man had been sporting under that ever-present balaclava. BeachHead wasn't ever as pleased as he was in battle, and this one had gone so very well. Casualties had been very light, the Cobra forces had been routed and been in full retreat. It had been all but over when one left-behind Cobra sniper had taken the brief opportunity to snuff out a life with a tiny piece of steel jacketed lead.

He'd never given any real expression of pain.. just looked confused. The tiny puff that had erupted from his chest had almost looked like some prankster had tossed a pebble at him. When the blood had immediately started to stain the hole, Hawk had realized his sergeant had been shot. Even then, no one, not even Beach, had been thinking the worst. The man wore a tactical vest all the time, he'd been half blown apart on multiple occasions, shot many times, stabbed too much to keep track of, and on one singular occasion, he'd been run over by a truck. This was just a minor thing.. just a tiny hole in his vest.. then he'd fallen over... then he'd gasped for air.. bled bright rich red blood all over Hawk's fingers as he'd tried to stop it.. struggled to live.. and then he'd just died. Right there. Just suddenly slipped away like a sliver of soap in the water.. slipped right out from Hawk's fingers.. like the slick blood that had finally stopped flowing.. not because he was okay, but because he'd already pumped it all out through that stupidly harmless looking hole.

Lifeline had been the one to tell CoverGirl.. she'd ended up in the infirmary, sedated to stop her hysteria. SnakeEyes disappeared and no one could locate him. Duke was holding the day-to-day things together, and Hawk had to deal with the regular questions and reports to all the military big-wigs who wanted to know what was happening.. Sergeant Major BeachHead's death was just a number on a report to the brass.

His funeral was brief, but attended by most of GI Joe. Every member that could make it there attended, a few members of other military groups appeared. Right before they were to carry his casket to the graveside, SnakeEyes appeared, in full military dress uniform, and took a spot as a pallbearer. No one ever asked him where he'd been.

For someone who was supposed to have been so universally disliked, he was missed so very badly. All his normal duties were distributed among the others. The greenshirt brigades had been coming undone at the loss of their leader. Duke had taken over the morning PT sessions himself for a while, until some of the other instructors could take certain days.. taking on bits and parts of the duties so that everything could continue. Life went on.

Lifeline and Covergirl spent a lot of time together. She came to ask to be taken off medical leave and went back to work in the motorpool. It had taken a week before Clutch could manage to make even the smallest sexual comment to her.. and he'd promptly ended up in the infirmary with a wrench shaped dent in his head.

Lifeline brooded a lot and Doc spent a lot of time listening to him. Psyche-Out kept pretty busy listening to a lot of people feeling guilty over things they couldn't change, and wouldn't have if they'd actually had the chance.

Life.. moved on. The empty spot left behind filled in. Stalker stepped up to take over many of his old duties. There was no replacement.. just a subtle rearranging that made the hole lessen.

Then something happened. Hawk came back from the last of the conferences with politicians and judges and generals. He was just taking off his jacket and hanging it up when he dipped a hand into a pocket and drew out a battered set of dog tags. He turned them over in his hand for a moment, missing the wearer rather intently. No matter what was bothering Hawk.. if he got too brooding, he'd taken himself to BeachHead.. griped and bitched to him.. listened to the gruff voice telling him to suck it up and do his job.. and gone back to his work.. knowing that at least someone understood he was frustrated.. understood he'd still do his job no matter what. He always could depend on Beach not to go talk to Flint or Duke.. he knew the man was loyal as a hound and would walk through fire just on his orders.

It was just such a shame that right when he'd been unwinding himself and beginning to let himself relax and enjoy his life, he'd been killed. There. Hawk had said it inside his head to himself. Killed. Dead. Gone. He sighed and looked at the tags on the tarnished chain. He wasn't sure why he'd kept the dog tags. Just couldn't quite let go of them. He supposed he should have made sure they were still on the body when it was interred.. but somehow it hadn't seemed important. It had been more important to get him interred in Arlington National Cemetery where he belonged. There'd been some argument.. some bit of paperwork or technicality that had threatened to delay the burial. Hawk had gone into the offices and informed them that his man was being buried there.. even if he had to go fetch a shovel and dig the hole himself. One look at his face had sent all the clerks into a frenzy of stamping and writing, typing up of new files. And Sergeant Major Wayne Sneeden was buried with appropriate honors, where Hawk had chosen to put him.

He sighed and tucked the dog tags into the coat pocket again. Duke, Flint, Doc and Breaker were due to arrive within moments for another meeting. It would be another meeting where one chair was left empty because no one wanted to be the first to move it aside.. or god forbid.. sit in it. Instead everyone avoided looking at the empty reminder of the absent man, and no one moved it or changed it. Eventually they'd do something about it. But not yet.....

* * * *

Duke slid a copy of his report to Hawk across the table. "I put in the requisition for half a dozen new AWEStrikers.. and also for two Maulers. Clutch says at least four Maulers are not fit for repair at this time. CoverGirl argues that she can get at least one up and running though."

Hawk nodded, fingering the report. "How's she doing?"

Duke looked over at Flint. The warrant officer had taken over the position of representative for the enlisted members. He was supposed to be the go-between for the enlisted and the officers.. something that BeachHead had always done, never making either side happy.

Flint gave a little shrug. "About as well as expected. She's grieving, but she's working." He smiled a little bit. "Clutch and Shipwreck have both made a few trips to the infirmary to get stitches and treated for concussions."

Doc snorted. "They got little sympathy for it either. Between the nurses and Lifeline, they'd almost rather just deal with the pain than come get treated."

Hawk gave a nod to Breaker. "What's the security report? Last night there were some glitches reported in the outer layer of the sensors?"

Breaker nodded. "Just glitches.. the network is fully active."

"Naw, it's not.. there's a gap on the northeast wall, sector sixteen, level three. There's an AC leak shorting out a panel.. gotta get it fixed, or it'll continue to be a gap in the defenses."

Everyone froze. There was no mistaking that southern drawl, nor the slightly sarcastic tone as he corrected the errant communications officer. Hawk looked over at the not-so-empty chair.


* * * *

End Chapter:

Yes.. so that's the set up. How's it looking? There will be quite a bit of Hawk, and it will(obviously) be a BH/CG fic as well. Later on you'll even get to see some Cobra. Hope you enjoyed.