A requested fic for Linuxgirl, which I already was considering anyways.
Temporary recruit code names being doled out by highly effective Joes was, of course, inspired by Totenkinder Madchen's story 'Order Up.' It made sense…the fresh meat coming in wouldn't really have a code name until they actually earned a place on the team, but their very involvement in G.I. Joe would mean that they'd probably be given a temporary call sign of some sort.
Snake Eyes was well aware that most of the Joe team considered himself and Storm Shadow completely, utterly, hopelessly mad.
This wasn't even the general and automatic assumption of "Well, he's a ninja. Of course he's nuts" that was used as a mental shrug by every member of the G.I. Joe personnel when faced with, say, Storm Shadow shooting clay pigeons, blindfolded, with a bow and arrow or Snake Eyes using the exterior of the Pit for climbing practice. No, displays like that were considered highly entertaining, but pretty much par for the course when you had not one, but two classically trained ninja masters on your payroll.
What had convinced the team as a whole that both ninja were completely off their rockers was the fact that neither man considered BeachHead's PT particularly threatening or even difficult. Sure, they ended up just as muddy as the rest of the team (though Storm was impressively skilled in the art of Not Getting Mud In Your Hair, which was something that Snake Eyes had never figured out). But…well, the Ranger's famously murderous PT courses were just not that intimidating to men who'd spent a good chunk of their lives slogging through forty-mile runs, uphill, through overgrown mountain forests and performing kata for hours on end on the Plum Flower Poles the Soft Master had been so fond of.
Actually, the Hard Master had been fond of the irregularly sized, notoriously treacherous poles too…but he'd made them spar on them. Occasionally while blindfolded. Snake Eyes still had not-so-fond memories of the time the Hard Master had decided he needed work on his flexible weapons and stuck him and Tommy up on the poles with three section staffs.
Tommy was better than Snake Eyes was with flexible weapons. He'd originally been pulling his strikes, but had been promptly snapped at by his uncle, who considered getting hit a few times the best way to learn proper blocking. Snake Eyes had spent the next few days trying not to move, because any movement managed to find a bruise.
Anyway, both of the ninja tended to regard PT pretty much just a bracing way to wake up in the morning; got the blood flowing, and warmed you up enough for some real working out later in the day. This did nothing to endear either man to BeachHead, who while he respected the ninja's abilities and effectiveness in battle, took a great deal of personal pride in his status as a legendarily feared drill instructor.
Storm Shadow also delighted in showing off, which had earned him more time on his knuckles in the grass than just about anyone else on the team. Considering that the ninja had been on the team for a far shorter time than most of the core Joe members, this was impressive. Unfortunately for BeachHead, this ever-popular punishment didn't really faze the ninja. Snake Eyes himself didn't tend towards the theatrical as much as his sword brother, but he'd managed to earn himself more than a little time in the grass too on days he was feeling particularly perky.
This particular morning, Snake Eyes was feeling pretty good. This had quite a bit to do with the fact that he knew Roadblock was appointing himself head chef for supper tonight, and more to do with the fact that Scarlett had been extremely affectionate the night before. Tommy was already stretching out when Snake made it out to PT; the shorter ninja eyed Snake, grinned and shot to his feet. Considering he'd been flat on the ground doing a split, this was a fairly impressive indicator of just the kind of shape ninja kept themselves in.
There were several other Joes already outside. Snake and Tommy were standing towards the back of the group. Scarlett, who'd walked out with Snake Eyes, as usual, spotted Jaye and drifted over to get in a few minutes of pre-PT gossip.
Tommy glanced around; BeachHead wasn't looking their way. "You look in a good mood today." He grinned, and Snake Eyes knew that grin; it usually preceded either mayhem or someone that Tommy really didn't like getting stabbed. His sword brother's fingers moved. *How brave are you feeling today, brother?*
Snake Eyes raised an eyebrow. *How loudly do you want BeachHead to yell, and what's on the line?*
*I'm thinking a little demonstration for the benefit of our adoring fans.* Storm waved a hand, indicating the rest of the team. *There's a group of fresh bodies coming in tomorrow…I'll put up my naming privileges if you'll do the same.*
Snake Eyes smiled. Recruit naming…before they'd earned a place on the team and proper code names…was considered high entertainment. *Winner by louder applause or by how long Beach yells?*
Storm Shadow grinned. "Excellent. You don't have a chance, brother."
*We're both going to be doing pushups until lunch, you know.*
"Probably." Storm shrugged.
It was about then that BeachHead's voice cracked out through the morning air, and they jumped automatically into ranks. Warm-ups took ten minutes, and then they were on the track and jogging the usual three miles. Then they were herded over to the obstacle course.
Everything went smoothly enough for the first few minutes. Beach was sending people out in pairs today, and it wasn't until the third group that Storm Shadow's name was called. Tommy's face was deceptively innocent when he took off, leaving Tunnel Rat in the dust.
The cheering started when Storm hit the second obstacle. The first had been a wire crawl; the second was a set of tall poles, linked by rope climbs. Storm Shadow shinnied up the fifteen foot pole in about two and a half seconds, and then he was on the rope.
It was pretty much par for the course for the ninja to view rope climbs as excuses for tightrope walking demos. It was not quite so much par for the course to cross one of the ropes while doing cartwheels, which Snake Eyes had to admit was a fairly impressive display of balance. But then, Tommy had always had excellent balance; he'd routinely received accolades from both of his uncles for this fact.
BeachHead was scowling. "What the hell you think you're doing, ninja?" His yell was ignored completely by the ninja in question. He rounded on the team. "Don't encourage him… 'Wreck! Are you deaf? What'd I just say? Down and twenty!"
Instead of climbing down the pole when he hit the end of the rope, Storm jumped, hitting the ground in a neat roll to dissipate impact and coming out of the tumble on his feet and sprinting again.
The tire run was crossed via backflips, with Tommy pointedly planting his feet squarely in the center of the tires each time before launching off once more. BeachHead, apparently realizing that the ninja wasn't going to listen to a word he said until he'd tired of showing off, was just standing, scowling, eyes narrowed and arms folded. The rest of the team, not particularly wanting the drill instructor's ire directed at them, were reserving their cheers to fairly quiet clapping and a few hoots whenever Beach turned his back.
Snake Eyes, eyeballing the obstacles and considering exactly what would be likely to win him naming privileges this time around, had to mentally revamp his plan when Tommy stole his plan for the second mudpit, the one crossed by the commando line. Storm ignored the lower rope and instead hopped up on the more loosely strung line, the one intended as a handhold. Tommy edged across the slack, swaying line, jumped back to the ground to another smattering of applause, and sprinted onto the minefield.
Minefields were easy to cross if you knew what you were looking for. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow had both had extensive experience spotting buried explosives during their time on LRRP duty, where it was a basic survival skill. This tendency to scan for the slight divots or mounds in the grass, the slight discrepancies of the replaced vegetation, and the occasional gleam of not-quite hidden metal had been honed to a fine edge by ninja training. It was a running campaign by BeachHead to disprove the saying 'a ninja does not step on a landmine'. To date, the Ranger had failed spectacularly.
BeachHead actually perked up a bit when Tommy elected to cross the minefield with his eyes closed. He scowled again when Tommy still managed to avoid the mines like they were flagged with neon. The applause this time was slightly incredulous; Snake Eyes wasn't as impressed. He knew perfectly well that Tommy had examined the field prior to depriving himself of his sense of sight. 'Flashing' a room or rooftop into your short-term memory was a vital skill to someone who habitually operated in pitch-dark nights, and often destroyed any light sources to disorient enemies.
The tunnel crawl was dealt with in a fairly standard manner; Tommy emerged soaked and dripping muddy water, which seemed to mollify BeachHead somewhat. The climbing wall, however, put a scowl back on the Ranger's face. Tommy shinned easily to the top, where he paused, glanced over at his audience, grinned, and waved cheerfully before flipping off and landing on his feet.
The third mudpit, the one crossed by a rope swing, was next. Tommy caught the rope, climbed halfway up, and launched himself off, declining to 'swing' at all. He landed in a forward roll on the far edge of the mudpit, popping back up to his feet and sprinting off towards the final obstacle, the series of hurdles dotting the last fifty yards of the course. The ninja elected to fall back on the crowd-pleasing favorite of front flips, clearing each hurdle with room to spare.
He crossed the finish line with a grin that was entirely smug, to applause and a few whistles. BeachHead waited a few minutes for Tunnel Rat to catch up (the shorter man had been completely forgotten by the rest of the team).
"Decent, 'Rat." The Ranger nodded. "Five seconds up on your old time…good work." He rounded on Storm. "What the hell was that?"
"Technically, what I just did was more athletically challenging than running the course in the standard, more boring fashion." Tommy pointed out. "I'd think you'd be pleased at the fact I'm pushing myself."
BeachHead growled. "Well, if my PT is just so boring for you, you won't mind doing it again. Two hundred pushups, three hundred crunches, and then hit the track again. Then you get to run the course again, an' this time do it right."
Storm saluted, and dropped to his knuckles without argument.
The next four groups were sent out without incident. BeachHead grumped at Bazooka for falling behind Clutch, at Covergirl for being four seconds off her best time, and at Flint for tearing his shirt on the razor wire.
Then, finally. "Snake Eyes! Jaye! Move it!"
Snake Eyes took off at speed. He hit the wire crawl, made short work of it, skinned up the pole, and hit the rope.
The clapping started when he copied Tommy's technique of cartwheeling over the tightly stretched line. The cheering started when halfway across, he switched to using only one hand. Snake distinctly heard BeachHead's angry growl, and ignored it.
On the tire run, he saw no reason to improve on his sword brother's backflips. At the commando line, he hopped up on the loosely strung top line and tightroped across it…backwards. This drew both more shouts of approval and a groan that Snake recognized as his sword brother.
He dismounted with a backflip, stuck the landing, and elected to cross the minefield with his eyes open; with his visor, no one would know if he closed them anyways. He did, however, elect to handspring over mines instead of zigzagging around them, which his audience seemed to appreciate.
In the tunnel crawl, he discovered cold, dirty water filling the bottom third. He braced hands and feet on either side of the tunnel, keeping himself just above the water line, and edged his way through. He took longer than his sword brother to clear the obstacle, but when he emerged, it was with still-dry clothes. This drew a few impressed exclamations, another groan from Tommy, and a loud growl from their drill instructor.
The climbing wall was dealt with in the usual, fairly tame manner. The rope-swing mudpit, however…Snake narrowed his eyes. The mudpit was only a few yards wide…
He put on an extra burst of speed, planted a foot at the very edge of the solid ground, and jumped, disdaining the rope all together. He just barely cleared the mud, tucking and landing in a shoulder roll, but he cleared it. He'd put money on the pit being wider by tomorrow morning, but that didn't change the applause right now.
The hurdles…Snake Eyes flipped over the first, hopped up on the next, found that the next three were all fairly closely set, and proceeded to jump from one to the next with handsprings, declining to touch the ground at all.
He hopped back to the ground, flipped over the next two, and then finished the course by hopping up on the next one and crossing the final six with more handsprings. He jogged across the finish line to applause and a few daring whistles, and came casually to attention.
BeachHead waited for Jaye, who was eyeballing Snake Eyes with a distinctly impressed expression, to catch up. He eyed her. "You need work on the wall climb yet. Stay back; you're gonna do it a few more times before I let you go." He rounded on Snake. "There some sort of bloody damned ninja conspiracy today?"
Snake Eyes lifted one shoulder.
"Well, your little show-off sessions better have been worth the laughs, 'cause you are mine. Down in the grass by your buddy. Pushups 'till I tell you to stop, and then you're gonna run the course again, and again, until you get that damned smirk offa your face. And I can damned well tell you're smirking, so don't claim you ain't."
Snake obediently went down on his knuckles by Tommy. When BeachHead turned to watch Duke and Recondo, he switched to one-handed pushups long enough to sign.
Tommy scowled. "You had an advantage…you went second."
*I still win.*
"I wish I'd thought of wall-walking through the tunnel."
*How many newbies were you up for naming?*
*Then I get four.* Snake Eyes grinned.
A heavy boot landed between his shoulders. Snake winced. BeachHead glared down and growled. "If you've got enough breath to chat, you ain't going fast enough. That goes for both of you…I'll run the smartass right outta you both."
There was a snort from Tommy, who generally operated under the theory of 'if you're going to piss Beach off, you might as well piss Beach off.' "My uncles failed to do that for fifteen years, you know."
Beach leaned the rest of his weight onto the foot on Snake's back, flattening him into the grass, which Snake Eyes thought was rather unfair. Then he realized that Beach was simply stepping off to stomp on Tommy instead.
"Can't snark while you're running hard enough to make you puke." BeachHead grated, and stomped Tommy flat to the ground. Tommy grunted as the air was forced out of his lungs. Beach stepped back, leaving a muddy boot print between the ninja's shoulders. "Did I tell you to stop knocking them out?"
Both men hastily resumed pushups, under BeachHead's narrow-eyed glare. It wasn't until later, when they were both on the track again, that they had a chance to speak.
Tommy, despite the mud covering him, despite the boot track on his back, and despite the fact that he'd just spent ten solid minutes doing pushups, was grinning. "So worth it."
*I'll name one of the recruits after you.* Snake Eyes signed with a great deal of satisfaction. *The slowest, fattest one.*
"Ha. Funny. Funny. So funny that I might just have to add a little ground glass to your breakfast. "
"Did I tell you two you could talk?! Pick it up…if you've got breath to talk, you ain't going fast enough! Gawd, how the hell did I get stuck with a pair of goddamned smart-aleck ninja? Should transfer back to Benning…least Rangers damn well listen…"
Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow both picked up the pace obediently. Tommy still had enough wind to shoot back. "You know, technically we both are Rangers. Not our fault most Rangers are dumb enough to do whatever they're told without question. Or style."
"Goddamnit, Storm…obstacle course! Move!"
It was a long time before the pair of them finally trudged back inside. They just made it into the mess hall before the kitchen crew stopped serving breakfast; the hall was almost empty.
Almost. Scarlett was chatting with Dusty over the dregs of her coffee, and Jaye and Flint were snuggled up in one corner, apparently oblivious to the world. Scarlett raised her eyebrows when she spotted her lover and his partner in crime. Dusty grinned.
"That was awesome." The desert trooper said enthusiastically. "Seriously…I'd have killed for a video camera. My family does not believe that there's seriously a pair of ninja on my team. That would have proved it. How bad did Beach beat you up?"
Storm shrugged. "Just ran us hard. Doesn't bother me any."
Scarlett polished off her coffee and leaned back in her chair. "So, what was the bet?"
*You know me too well.* Snake Eyes glared at Dusty until the desert trooper left, then sat and peeled his mask off to eat. *I get to name Tommy's share of the recruits tomorrow.*
Scarlett snickered. "You're both mad, you know. Beach was purple."
*Still not as scary as the Hard Master in a bad mood.* Snake Eyes applied himself to his food.
"True. Very true." Tommy sighed. "I still can't believe you won…I'm slipping."
*Shall I buy you a cane, brother? You seem to be getting old and slow.*
Tommy perked up. "If it's a fighting cane, sure. I don't have any, and there's some really interesting things you can do to a human spine with one of those."
Scarlett put her head in her hands and sighed. "You're both mad."