Hey yes.. this is a short plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone.. first it was the first action piece then it was the after stuff.. but I think I've subdued the stupid plot bunny completely now.

Yes, I have written another BeachHead story. Imagine that! This one with Action and Adventure! And parachutes and planes....

I still don't own GI Joe and have no rights towards the universe or characters, and I make not one thin dime off all this writing I do. I do it because I love to write, and because YOU love to read it!

Enough junk.. jump right into the story!

* * * *

BeachHead swayed in place slightly, staring across the cargo hold of the plane at the standoff. Right now he was assessing the situation for options and coming up short.

A nondescript man in camo stood with his back to the plane wall, LadyJaye held securely in front of him with his pistol pressed to her side. The rear 'tailgate' of the plane was open.. the wind rushing past and making everything difficult to hear. Flint stood to one side of BeachHead, motioning for the gunman to calm down and let Jaye go.. his shouts having little effect. Beach's eyes flicked to CoverGirl standing beside the terrorist, obviously torn between backing off and trying to help.

BeachHead's .45 pistol was gripped tightly, yet held downward in a less threatening position. The madman had demanded he drop the weapon entirely, which wasn't going to happen. You never relinquished your weapon in a hostage situation. Back off some, but never let go of the gun. Right now he waited as Flint tried to talk the guy into letting Jaye go, hoping he'd get an opening to take the guy out if he didn't become more agreeable. Most of the rest of the team had jumped out of the gate moments earlier on a training mission over Georgia. Before BeachHead could go out, one of the support personnel had produced a weapon and yanked Jaye over by her hair. Now he demanded that they fly the plane south to mexico so he could turn them all over to Destro for a reward.

Eying the open rear door, BeachHead shifted slightly down the walkway. At this point, he was the only one in the plane already wearing a parachute. He would have been out the door as well, except something about the guy as he walked stiffly up to Jaye caught his eye. He'd stopped himself two steps from following Duke out of the plane. He'd only drawn his sidearm when Jaye was grabbed and the man produced his own weapon.

The guy shifted himself further towards the open rear door and BeachHead lifted his pistol slightly. "Stop right there! Don't move.." His voice was loud but his tone calm and even. No time to panic.. time to be calm, take the situation into hand.

Flint's voice came from his right although BeachHead's eyes never left his opponent's. "Just put the gun down.. you're not leaving this plane.. it's not gonna happen. Let her go.. you're going to get yourself killed." The Sergeant major admired Flint's resolve and control, seeing as it was his girlfriend being held at gunpoint. "Drop the weapon and you'll get to live.."

"Throw that gun out the door!! Do it now! I'll shoot her!" The maniac was getting closer to panic the longer his plan continued to fail. CoverGirl stepped one half step closer to him to BeachHead's concern. Just as he caught her eye and flicked his gaze to the side to tell her to back off, the guy turned his head and caught sight of her movement. "GET AWAY FROM ME!"

She smiled and began to lift her hands and back off when he kicked out at her, catching her in the chest.. flinging her backwards.

Out of the rear door of the plane. Without a chute. At thirty-five thousand feet. BeachHead felt his world give a odd lurch and his brain automatically began to count off the seconds from the instant he'd seen her disappear past the gangway. One-one-thousand... his gaze tore from the empty doorway to latch onto the guy's face as he turned back to grin at them all, pleased at the fact that he'd killed one of them. She hadn't been wearing a chute because she wasn't supposed to jump.. she'd been support personnel only.. just like Flint and Jaye.. two-one-thousand... his right hand came up in a smooth arc, bringing the .45 to bear on the smug grin as his left hand came around to grip and steady in the classic shooter's stance... three-one-thousand... he sighted on the guy's right eye and squeezed the trigger carefully.. watched the bullet tear through LadyJaye's curly locks of brown hair and impact exactly where he'd sighted it.. saw the man's head snap back... four-one-thousand... dropped the gun on the platform.. heard Flint's bellow as the terrorist's body began to drop, Jaye stepping away unhurt, ducking reflexibly too late to have done any good if his aim had been off.. his legs already beginning to stride towards the open doorway where Courtney had disappeared.. heart beginning to pound... five-one-thousand... broke into a flat out run as he pitched himself out into open air.. calculating in his head desperately how fast the plane was moving.. ignoring the terror beginning to course through his veins.. how fast Courtney would be falling.. which direction was he facing now? Six-one-thousand.. and he oriented himself in his fall, stifling the scream wailing instead his head, steadying his position and beginning to search desperately for the pinpoint of a falling body below his outstretched limbs. He slipped through the air to bring himself closer to where she should have been.. but it was a big big sky over a lot of hard unforgiving ground... Seven-one-thousand.. where was she? He didn't think about what remnants would be left if he didn't find her in time to stop the fall.. didn't want to calculate the impact speed of a body.. eight-one-thousand.. clenched his teeth tightly while he looked across the open air.. how much time did he have now to catch up, hook up somehow, and open the chute? How many seconds before his safety distance was compromised and he had to open his chute to save himself.. would it be worth it to even bother opening his chute at all? Nine-one-thousand... there.... there? His eyes tried to focus on a small figure and he twisted his body to aim towards it.. shooting through the thin air like an arrow. He steered easily.. catching up more quickly than he could have hoped. THERE!

"COURTNEY!!!" His shout was unheard.. he knew she couldn't hear him over the rushing noise of air blowing past her at terminal velocity. It didn't matter.. she was spread out trying to slow her fall.. a fruitless effort without a parachute.. but one that impossibly could end up saving her as he managed to catch up to her.

Smacking into her from the side, he grabbed desperately at her arm, ignoring the thrashing, feeling a wash of relief that at least he had found her, now to save her... "COURTNEY!!!"

She twisted and stared at him, long strands of her tangled hair whipping his eyes briefly, grasping at his chest straps. "BEACH!! BEACH!!! I'M GONNA DIE!!! HELP ME!!"

He couldn't help the foolish grin that spread over his face. "I ain't gonna let ya die Barbiedoll!! Who'd play pranks on me in the messhall!?" He pried her hands off his chute straps. "LEGGO!!!" He shoved one of her hands underneath the strap instead, making her arms cross as she got both of them intertwined under the chest straps and holding on to the opposite strap. "Under and grab on to the other strap.. it's gonna jerk really hard!!! Don't let go!! I don't care if your danged arms break!! Don't you let go!!" She nodded and her grip tightened. He kicked her legs away from where she tried to cling to him and wrapped his own around her thighs to lock his ankles into place. Pressing himself to her, forcing his muscles to lock into place around her slight form, he held to Courtney as if she held the very breath of life for him. One arm went around her to pull her body in tight to his in a desperate full body embrace meant to save her.

"Beach!! Please!!" Her face was so close to his. "If I die!!! I want you to know.. I lo.."

"Shut up!! Yer not dying today! Tuck yer face into my chest.. hang on.." He reached up to yank the ripcord and wrapped that arm around her chest as well, grabbing his own wrists to lock her against him as tightly as he could. For just two seconds, his eyes focused on the ground below them.. rushing up to them bringing death with it. Then the sudden shock of the chute releasing and opening yanked them hard. The weight of both of them slammed into BeachHead via his webbing harness. His tight grip with arms and legs meant she didn't have to take the full weight on her arms through his harness strapping, so she didn't slip. They swung around wildly for a moment before stabilizing somewhat under the open canopy.

Her face lifted free and stared up at the chute. "It's open!! We're okay!"

He gripped her tightly. "Not yet we ain't.. we're falling waay fast. Too much weight on the chute. Hang tight.. I can't steer us and we're gonna hit the ground hard. We'll need to cut away as soon as we're down.. got it?? Cut away if I can't! We're too heavy.. " He looked past her face to the ground still coming up entirely too quickly. "Dang it.. not in the danged brush!!"

Before Courtney could wonder.. they smashed down into tough dark branches, Beach taking the brunt of the fall. His back crushed through the thin branches with the parachute pack mostly protecting his back from the thorns and broken wood.. mostly. His gritted teeth and stifled yelps told her that his body armor wasn't protecting him completely and she shouted as her shin was stabbed by a broken limb.

Beach jerked as he felt the sharp splintered wood driving into the backs of his thighs, a sharp odd pop as something ragged knifed into his side.. he tried to ignore the tearing sensation as a broken limb raked across his neck.

Finally they impacted into the ground.. the sudden hard landing knocking the breath out of the Ranger while CoverGirl smashed her face into his chest plate hard enough to stun her momentarily. His limbs finally came free of the desperate embrace as skull met ground with a final thump.

A few seconds later she lifted her face off the armor, trying to disentangle her arms from the harnessing. Beach struggled to reach his chest with his left arm.. only half-conscious from the landing. "Cu-way.. cu-way.."

She tried to focus on what he was trying to say. "Beach.. you okay? What? I'm okay I think.."

His hand fumbled between them. "Cuu-away.." A sudden gust of wind snatched at the fallen chute, partially re-inflating it and causing it to drag the prone Ranger through the broken hawthorn shrubs. "Get off.. cut away.. pull.. strap.." Plucking weakly at the release strap, he struggled to tug at it.

CoverGirl grabbed at the straps, pulling fruitlessly on the cords before she managed to find the right one and yanked it hard. The chute was released to collapse into the bushes while the dragging motion finally halted BeachHead's steady progress through the broken branches covered by thorns. "Beach.. you okay? Are you okay?" CoverGirl's lower leg throbbed as she managed to get to her hands and knees. Unlatching the pack straps, she soon had him free of harnessing. "How bad are you hurt?"

"Danged... hawthorn bushes.. couldn't we land in cactus?" His weak voice did less to reassure her than the complaint. "Get off me.." CoverGirl scrambled to take her weight off his body, trying to see where she could help him move to.

"Beach.. hold still.. " She let out a soft cry as her arm was snagged by a thorny limb. The sharp odor from the weedy bushes stung her nose, even as the thorns and jagged bits of branches burned where they broke her flesh. She put a hand on his arm as he ignored her instruction and tried to sit up. "Please.. be still.. I can't tell how bad you're hurt."

"Get me outa these branches.. cuttin' me ta ribbons.." Seeing he wasn't going to stop, she tried to help lift his weight. He jerked and sagged back down suddenly, trying to reach under his thigh to yank a splinter free of it's attached branch. "Now.. try it again.." With her assistance, he got to his feet and picked his way out of the brush pile they'd made of the little grove. CoverGirl supported his weight when his right leg threatened to collapse under him.

Once freed from the hawthorn brush, Beach let himself sink back to the ground, settling onto his left hip gingerly. Fumbling at his thigh again, he tried to drag the chunk of splinter out with several tugs and curses. CoverGirl knelt to check him carefully.

"Stop Beach.. " She pushed his hands away and plucked the blood soaked cloth away to have a look. "It's really deep... we should leave it alone.. let the medics take care of it."

"Ain't no danged medics.. it's burning.. yank it out, dang it. It's danged wood.. pull it out or I will!" As he tried to reach for it, she pushed his hand aside again. "Dang it!"

"Hush. I'll see if I can remove it.. just stop trying to yank at it." She turned to him. "Beach.. thanks.. you saved me."

"Yeah.. well.. " He took a deeper breath and winced. "Wasn't gonna let you die. Bastard goes kicking folks outa planes.. what the heck was all that?"

She grasped the splinter and pulled gently, trying to free it without causing more damage to the torn flesh. "I don't know.. I just know that was the most scared I've ever been. I hope LadyJaye is okay and he didn't hurt her."

Beach coughed slightly. "He didn't hurt no one.. I shot him just a'fore I jumped out after you."

She gave him a long look. "Good that he didn't hurt anyone.. I didn't know you could come after me that way."

"I didn't either.. you were out of the danged plane nine seconds.. we'd moved a good bit off from where you were.. I didn't think I was gonna be able to locate ya in time." He gritted his teeth as the finger-thick splinter was dragged free of his leg. "Aahhhh.. "

"You wanted it out.. hold still.." The slender blond finally tugged it free and held it up for him. "Wow.. jebus Beach. That's what? Five inches into your leg? See, we should have left it alone. Lifeline is gonna yell at me for pulling it out."

"Well, sucks ta be you I guess.. wasn't no fun havin' it in there." He reached around to his side, feeling under the edge of his chest plate. Fumbling at the buckles, he began to undo the straps.

"What are you doing?" CoverGirl bent to help unfasten his body armor. "What's wrong?"

"I dunno.. somethin' under the plate.. don't feel right at all.." When he peeled the front plate off, he looked down at the bloody sweater and sighed lightly. "Crap." The jagged tip of a strip of branch poked through his belly skin. At least it wasn't bleeding badly from the hole.

"How bad is it? How'd you get a stick under your armor like this.." She reached to begin to tug it loose before he could.

"Stop.. STOP!" He grabbed her wrist hard enough to make her wince. Gasping in shallow pants, BeachHead reached behind his side and groaned. "It's through me.."

"What do you mean..." Picking at the tattered sweater, CoverGirl freed the folds of cloth from the bits of wood, finding the end of the thin splinter sticking out from just under his ribs on the side. "Beach.. god.. you're impaled.. we got to get you some help.."

"Yeah.. " BeachHead laid back, his breathing beginning to quicken. "Ask one a them squirrels fer their first aid references.. "

"Are you okay?" She bent over him. "You're getting pale."

"Shock.. I gotta get up.." His struggle to sit up made him whimper softly at the pain in his abdomen. "Help me up.."

"BeachHead.. you can't walk with a piece of tree stuck through your stomach!" Despite her chastisement, CoverGirl took his arm to help heave him up to his feet, steadying him as he staggered. "Easy.. what are you doing? You should lie down.. where do you think you can walk to?"

He tottered two steps and stopped to peer around. Feeling his thigh pocket, he unbuttoned it and dragged out a map. "We can't be that far from Benning.. we was over it when the rest of the team jumped." His eyes narrowed as he peered around for a moment. CoverGirl took the time to retrieve the parachute, stuffing it into his discarded rucksack that she pulled free of the brush with a great deal of effort. Her cursing as she gained more shallow gashes from the broken branches made Beach turn to see what she was doing. "CoverGirl.. whatcha doin' over there?"

"I'm seeing what all we have.. inventory.." She discarded various items, stuffing the others back into the pack. "I'm leaving your body armor.. get the rest of it off too.."

"Alright.." His compliance surprised her a bit, making her alarmed at how badly he was injured. A few minutes and the rest of his armor joined the chest and back plate in a heap. She shoved the chute into the bag however. He held up the map and pointed at it. "We oughta be here.. or near-abouts here. Hiking out to the south-southwest.. we'll hit Benning's property-lines. Then someone will spot us." Tucking the map carefully back into the thigh pocket, he tried to take a deeper breath and tilted his head up to peer at the bright sun overhead. "Ain't gettin' no where standin' here."

CoverGirl snapped the straps of the rucksack across her chest, tugging all the adjustable straps snugger to fit her. "What happened to your communicator anyway?"

Beach held up his left arm without looking back at her, beginning to walk hesitantly through the brush slowly, limping heavily on the punctured leg. "Busted.. found a few bits of it on the ground." His lower arm was scraped and raw, a slight bruise forming already on his wrist and hand where the comm unit had been ripped free during the crash landing. "I knew I shoulda put a hand unit in my pocket.."

"Hindsight.. let me help you.." She tucked herself under his right arm, keeping away from the jutting stick in his side. "Lean on me if you need to."

"I'll need to..." The Ranger shivered despite the warm weather. "Are ya okay?"

"I'm fine.. busted my leg a little.. I'm still shaking." She steadied him as he staggered a bit. "Easy there tough guy.."

"Yeah.. adrenalin. It'll wear off. Happens to ya when ya nearly die." He was struggling to breathe the further he walked. After only twenty minutes he'd slowed to barely moving even with her help. "Sorry.. can't... can't catch my breath.." It was beginning to alarm him as his chest worked ten times as hard trying to get air into his lungs. No matter how much he tried to suck in air, it wasn't working properly and gray shadows were beginning to creep up around the edges of his vision.

"Do you need to rest? Here.. sit down. You shouldn't be walking." CoverGirl staggered slightly as his full weight came down on her abruptly. "Easy easy.."

"Sorry.. can't.." He suddenly began to black out and felt his legs collapse. "Sorry.." Laying on his side again to stay off the impaling bits of wood, his chest heaved as his lungs refused to cooperate. The thought made him groan. "Mah lung.. collapsin'.. "

CoverGirl dropped the rucksack and bent over him. "Beach come on.. don't.. what can I do? You're the one with medic training.. you can't do this." She pulled his mask free, trying to straighten him out and listening to his ragged breathing beginning to falter.

"Yer gonna.." He struggled to stay conscious. "..hafta poke a hole.... in mah side.." Another gasping effort. "Put inna chest tube.."

"I don't have a chest tube! Beach.. how am I supposed to do that?" Even as she spoke, she was grabbing the pack to dig through it. "How big a tube?"

"Spout.. waterpack..." BeachHead pointed. "Cut it.."

"This is crazy..." CoverGirl pulled her combat knife and sliced the tube off of the waterskin. She looked at the plastic cap on the end. "I'll leave the end intact.. I can shut the tube up once we get your lung working.."

"Good.." His voice faded to a breathless whisper. "Here.." His fingers felt along his ribs. "Hurry.."

Looking at her knife, she hesitated. "Beach.. I don't want to do this.. what if I screw up? I could kill you.."

"Dying.. jus' do it..." His eyes closed and he felt her shaking hands touching his side. The thick sweater was tugged up and out of the way. A shudder ran through him and he felt his legs twitch. The sharp pain as her knife cut him brought him aware again, followed by the intense pain of the tube being inserted. When it seated into the proper spot, air flooded out in a wheezing rush. Almost immediately he felt better, his breathing finally able to deepen enough to provide the much needed oxygen. "Better..."

"Okay.. okay.. just for the record.. I prefer to work on vehicle engines.. I don't want to do this ever again.." Using duct tape from his kit she secured the tube. "I'm going to stopper the tube.."

"M'kay..." When she was done, he could still breathe and tried to sit up. "Ya did good.."

"Lie down.. you're not walking any further. I doubt you could take ten steps right now.." She moved away and he tried to turn to watch what she was doing.

"We can't sit and wait.. no one's gonna find us out here..." He watched with some curiosity as she dragged the chute out and began folding it into a pallet sized pad. Finding two long limbs in the nearby brush and trees took her several minutes but she eventually returned to lay them down. "Yer gonna drag me out onna litter? Girl.. yer half mah weight.."

"Well, I'm not going to leave my big brave hero laying out here for the wolves to eat. Sitting here won't get us rescued. Even if I could carry you on my shoulders, it would probably be the worst possible way to do it with your injuries.. so litter it is." While she talked to him, she was laying the folds of parachute silk over the sticks, tucking a rock under the layers of cloth and grabbing it from the top side to wrap cord around the bulge to make a button attachment. "Wow.. look.. that really works well. I've never done it outside of training."

"Yaa.. buttons..." He paused to breathe a few times. "Smart gal.. "

"Thanks. I'm not just a tank jockey.. I know stuff too. This big thick-headed Ranger kept beating useless survival tidbits of information into my head no matter how much I tried to ignore him." She smiled to herself as she used the cords from the parachute to tie off the folded cloth, forming a travois litter quickly.

"Sounds like a real jerk.." He grinned at her weakly. "Ya oughta give 'em a swift kick in the rear.."

"I do... on a regular basis. I think he likes it." The huffing laugh reassured her a lot. "Okay.. not the prettiest stretcher you've ever been carried on.. "

"Prettiest trooper carryin' me though.." Getting him onto the litter proved he was too weak to even stand, making her worried again. "Sorry.. "

"Not your fault.. just relax.. if I was hurt, wouldn't you be dragging me out?" She put the rucksack on his thighs.

"Naw.. I'd yell at ya to get yer sorry butt up on those long shapely legs and walk out on yer own." His eyes seemed to fade for a few seconds.

"Beach.. wake up.." She pinched his arm, making him twitch in annoyance. "Stay awake here. I'm having an argument with you, no falling asleep. You'd carry me out.. you already carried me to a chopper once."

"Tha' don't count..." He took a breath. "Yer leg was busted.."

Taking up the poles, she tugged the litter forward. Once she got the thing moving it wasn't too bad to move despite the heavy weight of the man laying in it. "So? You had a piece of tree through your leg.. and you still have a piece of tree stuck through your belly."

"Bones are intact... counts different.." A few seconds passed and his tired voice spoke up again. "Yer not goin' the right way.."

"What do you know? You can't see where we're going." She puffed a breath out as they started up a slope, beginning to feel the pull in her back and thighs.

"I can see where we been.. head ta the north more.. nooo.. yer other north Barbiedoll.." She changed direction slightly again. "There ya go.. don't go gettin' us lost out here.."

"Back seat drivers suck, Beach.. just saying. I can still leave you out here for the wolves to eat." Once over the slight hill she sighted in on a tall rock and used it as her guide to stay headed in a straight line.

"Ain't no wolves in Georgia.. coyotes maybe... snakes.. maybe a bear.. sharp tongued tank jockeys.."

"You're pushing your luck Ranger man.. " She grinned despite herself. "How's the lung?"

"Gettin' short a breath.. gonna pop my cap again.." He coughed slightly.

"Can you reach it okay?" He grunted assent at her and she continued to drag the litter. "I know you're hurting.. otherwise you'd have argued more about me carrying you out."

"Can't walk.. what's ta argue." He still sounded disgruntled over it. "Ah still jumped outa plane to save ya.."

"That you did. I'll always think of you as my knight in shining armor. Or.. my sergeant in battered kevlar." She moved to go around a thick patch of bushes, making certain to keep an eye on the angles with her rock in the distance.

"Gawd.. yer a smartass.." He paused. "Yer goin' all crooked again."

"I'm going around the bushes, you doofus. Shut up and ride."

* * * *

Over two hours later, CoverGirl had taken a few breaks but made good progress when she saw the first signs indicating a government installation. The warning signs about trespass made her sigh in relief. "Beach.. we're officially trespassing on Fort Benning." She felt him shift on the litter as he tried to look. "Hang on.. I'll turn so you can see."

Peering at the sign and then around at the area, Beach dug out his map. "Alright.. We're on the south end.. keep headed in the same direction and we should hit somethin'.. or someone will spot us.." He puffed a few breaths. "Is it cold?"

Wiping sweat off her face, CoverGirl twisted to look back at him. "No.. it's warm.. are you cold?"

"Yeah.." His faded voice made her want to stop to check him but she just tried to speed up her walking instead. He was either in shock or bleeding too much and either way, she couldn't help him. She could get him to help if she kept dragging though.

When she saw the third flicker of movement she stopped. "Beach.. I keep thinking I'm seeing something." There was no reply and she put the litter poles down to check on him. His lips were getting a blue tinge again, his breathing shallow. "Beach.. come on.. wake up.." She released the cap on the tube, letting the accumulated air escape again. Jostling him a few times gently made his eyes flicker open. "Come on.. wake up. You're the navigator.. you can't sleep.."

"Sorry.." His chest heaved a few times and he coughed softly. "Can't breathe real good.." He fumbled at his side and she pushed his hand aside.

"I already released it.. try to take a deep breath.. come on.. breathe in.." After a moment he could finally manage a shallow breath and she recapped the tube. "Alright.. you have to keep awake.. I keep thinking I see something.. in the trees and brush."

He looked around, peering carefully at the surrounding area. "Yell. I saw someone.. tell 'em we're US Army.."

She stood up and cupped her hands to yell loudly. "US ARMY!! I HAVE WOUNDED!! MAN DOWN!! US ARMY!" It was quiet for a few minutes and then two bits of forest suddenly stepped free of the surrounded brush and approached her with rifles held downward. She spread hands out to show her unarmed status. "I got a wounded man here.. need a medical extraction."

"Step off.. move away from the litter..." She was still while the two approached. He reached to pat her down quickly when the low growl came from the makeshift stretcher.

"Get yer hands off her." BeachHead glared at the young man who had twisted to look at him. "Any part a ya that touches her.. ya ain't gonna get ta take home wit' ya... ya got me?" His low tone held the threat of violence in it. "Ya'll Rangers?"

A quick nod and CoverGirl suddenly grinned as the young man narrowed his gaze at the wounded man. "Private Reid, Ranger trainee.. we're on a training mission.. no communications, no vehicles.."

CoverGirl stepped over to bend down at BeachHead. "Look Beach.. we've been rescued by baby Rangers! Aren't you proud?"

"Shut it Barbiedoll."

Private Reid motioned to the woodline with two fingers up. Two additional camouflaged figures approached. He turned to the two bedraggled rescuees. "Name and rank?"

CoverGirl smiled at him. "Corporal Kreiger, US Army." She didn't miss the slight twinge at the fact that she actually outranked him. She gave a slight wave at her downed companion. "Sergeant major Sneeden.. Army Ranger..." She truly enjoyed the sudden dawning light in the boy's face.


She glanced down to see Beach acquire a slight smile. "Yes.. THAT Sneeden.. you've heard of Sergeant Hardass here I presume?"

"Ah'm gonna run that smart mouth right off yer face, Cinderella.. ya keep it up." The disgruntled tone almost covered the weakness betrayed by his voice. "Jus' get us a medical evac so Ah ain't gotta listen ta her no more."

CoverGirl saw the private make the decision that since Beach was wounded and out of his element, he had the upper hand over a feared legendary drill instructor. She almost pitied him. He knelt next to the litter.

"We'll do our best to haul your sorry butt out of here.. since you're off your feet and all.." His smug expression was wiped clear when a powerful hand seized his throat and squeezed. He had made the classic mistake of being within BeachHead's reach while making snarky comments. Drawing him in closer, BeachHead's displeased expression deepened.

His voice wasn't as loud or commanding as normal.. but the deep accent definitely held the same tone of contained violence. "Look ya little pogue.. Ah done shot one man in his danged pointy head already. Ah jumped outa a plane to save the corporal there.. landed in danged hawthorn brush.. had someone stab a freakin' tube inta mah chest.. and had ta listen ta a girl the size a mah left leg complain while she dragged my busted up body outa the landin' zone. Don't ya think Ah done had quite enough humiliation fer one day? Or do ya wanna be guy number two that Ah get ta shoot in the danged head?"

"Sorry Sergeant major!" Beach gave a slight shove as he released him and he fell back onto his butt on the ground. "We'll get you out of here, no fears." He stood up and gave a sharp whistle. "UNIT UP!"

At least ten trainees appeared and he directed them fairly efficiently to fix the travois into a proper stretcher so they could carry BeachHead instead of dragging it. CoverGirl was handed a bottle of water while one of the guys tended to her leg. The other medically trained trooper checked BeachHead's various wounds and the jury-rigged chest tube with some trepidation.

"Sergeant major.. I have a chest tube in our kit.. but if this is working, I don't want to pull it and replace it, so I'm going to leave it as is." The nervous sandy-haired youngster dared to give him a slight pat-pat-pat on his shoulder. "You'll do okay, don't worry, we'll take good care of you."

BeachHead sighed. "Jus' get on the danged move. Ya'll wait around any longer and chest tube or not, I'm gettin' up and walkin' out on my danged own."

CoverGirl stepped to his side as they lifted the stretcher. "Be nice Beach.. these are your little ones.. you should be nurturing them.. they'll all grow up to be real Rangers one day." Her teasing made the closest trainees twitch and move slightly further away. "You just lie still and rest. You breathing okay?"

"Ah'm breathin'... good 'nuff." He closed his eyes as they moved through the rugged terrain.

By the time the group of trainees were intercepted by the Ranger cadre of instructors, CoverGirl had proved to them that she was able to keep up despite the rucksack pack she'd insisted on carrying. She reassured BeachHead that they would go back and find his body armor some time later on. Private Reid offered to go personally for it as soon as he had permission to go off base grounds.

When the cadre had first seen the group, they'd bellowed at them for breaking cover during the exercise. The sight of the improvised stretcher and strange female soldier silenced them until they got the full story. A evac chopper was called in immediately.

One of the staff sergeants had called their medic in and knelt beside the stretcher. "Sergeant major Sneeden.. a pleasure to meet you. We'll have the chopper up here in ten minutes.. our medic is headed here at a trot, he'll ride back with you. How are you doing?"

BeachHead's eyes blinked at him a few times. "Ah gotta straw stuck in mah chest.. and half a tree jammed through the rest a me. How do ya think Ah'm doin?"

"Umm.. sorry Sergeant major.." He stood up and backed off, standing near CoverGirl as an excuse to get out of range. "Is he always this.. uhhh.. snappish?"

Courtney looked over fondly at her friend laid up, now berating the newly arrived medic. "Oh no no.." The sergeant relaxed slightly. "Most of the time he's not nearly this pleasant.. but then, he can barely breathe, so I wouldn't get used to his winning personality. He'll go back to being grumpy as soon as medical fixes him up."

"You mean... he gets worse?" The look of horror actually pleased her.. filling her with an odd sense of pride that GI Joe's Sergeant major was so feared. "Good lord... how do you put up with that?"

"It's easy.. you learn to give one hundred and ten percent all the time. That pleases him enough that he'll put up with you existing in his universe." She watched him swallow nervously. "Don't worry.. as soon as the chopper gets here, he'll be someone else's problem."

"Thank god for choppers." He turned as the faint sound of the rotors was heard. "Once they get you two back to base, you'll be able to contact your C.O."

"Good." She went back to BeachHead's side. "Stop fussing at the medic.. duct tape is not an approved bandage. He's right. Just be glad you'll probably be out cold when they remove it."

"Whaddaya mean, 'out cold'?" His glare simply made her pat his hand.

"You don't think they'll be able to remove the wood impaling you without surgery, do you?" Her smiled never faltered through the loud round of cursing that followed. "Come on Beach.. I'll stick with you for the surgery. You'll do fine."

"Stupid.. I wish I hadn't shot that jerk in his stupid head... I want to go get his body and shoot it a few more danged times!" He grumbled under his breath a few minutes. "Dang it! I'm the hero, I shouldn't hafta go getting surgery!"

"Would you like them to just yank the stick out of your liver without any anesthesia?"

"Shut up, Barbiedoll.. it ain't you that's gonna puke up yer bootlaces fer a day!"

"No, I have the worse end, I'll have to listen to you while you do it."

"So lemme get this straight.. Ah jump outa a plane to save yer life after ya manage to fall out without a danged chute... Ah save yer life.. get wounded in the danged process from landin' on hawthorn trees.. and mah thanks is you stabbin' me with a knife in mah side and gettin' harrassed by ya?"

"Yes.. but remember you liked getting stabbed.. you asked for it. And don't forget to add to your reward... getting cut on by strange surgeons! Won't that be grand?"

"Gawd.. where's that stupid chopper?"

"Awww Beach.. " CoverGirl deepened her voice to mock his accent. "Yer mah danged old hero, ya are!"

"Can Ah still choose dying? Cause Ah think Ah'd prefer to be dead right now.. "

"Nope, you don't get a vote. You're wounded and not in your right mind so you get no say in the matter. Oh look! The chopper is here! Hey!! That's Flint! Look Beach... Flint came to rescue you! Baby Rangers AND Flint!"

"Oh gawd... mah day gets better and better..."

* * * *

Poor old BeachHead.. never a kind hand...

I promise.. I'm going to pull up the Little Medic fic and look at it. Promise! Hope you enjoyed this one though. Thinking vaguely about a 'afterward' because you know.. Fort Benning isn't all that far from Atlanta...

Shh.... I know I know.. Little Medic.. I know!!!