Requested fic for General Zargon...see? I haven't forgotten about you! I've just been pounding my head against the wall trying to jog my brain into actually working on any of the requested fics recently, is all. I've got a nice dent in the shape of my forehead worn in the wall next to my desk now, but my brain finally decided to cooperate and I figure I can now attempt breaking a board with my skull in class. Iron body training for the win!

A piece with Snake and Kamakura, with Snake Eyes slightly more in 'human' mode than 'sensei' mode. Why will become apparent. I shall just say now that guilt is something of a driving force in Snake Eyes on occasion.

Of all the things he'd accomplished so far in his (admittedly rather short) life, Sean Collins was perhaps proudest of the fact that he'd been accepted as the ninja apprentice of a man who was a damned living legend. Snake Eyes was feared by other ninja, for chrissakes, and ninety nine percent of the world considered ninja ancient history. An interesting blurb in Japanese history, sure, and perhaps a rather cool pop culture icon, but real ninja? Come on.

As the man code-named Kamakura knew, this was actually proof that ninja were pretty damn good at what they did. And Snake Eyes was the best. Well, one of the best…Kamakura had seen his sensei fight with Storm Shadow before, and all hero-worship aside he had to admit that the Cobra agent was just as skilled as his sensei. He'd never before seen anyone get a knife strike in on Snake Eyes; a part of him really hadn't believed it to be possible.

Hell, Kamakura himself carried scars from Storm Shadow's sword…there was really no reality check for an apprentice rather proud of his skills and just slightly cocky than getting his back opened shoulder to shoulder and unceremoniously kicked halfway across the room.

That had hurt. He had no illusions about himself surviving through skill, either. Storm Shadow had as good as said that he hadn't been striking to kill. If he had been…well, Kamakura knew he probably wouldn't be around to regret his brash stupidity.

All in all, however, Kamakura had been put through far more pain and suffering by his sensei than anyone else he'd ever met or anything he'd ever done. And that was including voluntarily eating Gung Ho's gumbo.

He knew, logically, why his sensei drove him and Jinx so hard, and really he didn't mind. Even if Jinx tended to gloat if she caught the tiniest groan, flinch, or dragging caused by flat-out physical exhaustion. She'd been raised by ninja, after all, and apparently ninja were taught from birth that the only thing pain meant was that you weren't dead yet and if it wasn't killing you, it was making you tougher. Jinx was often underestimated due to her size, but Kamakura knew better; all ninety or so soaking wet pounds of her was made of gleeful aggression, wiry muscle, and very hard fists. But he'd be damned if he'd let her show him up, ninja bred and raised or not.

This didn't change the fact that right now, after ten hours of alternate stealth practice (interesting fact; it was actually possible for a hundred and eighty-five pound man to fit in a footlocker. Uncomfortable as this was, it was still preferable to BeachHead finding him stealing the extra socks out of the other lockers. White only, clean only. Sensei wasn't quite sadistic enough to make him go after the used ones after the team had spent the morning on Beach's just-reconfigured obstacle course) and weapons drills, he hurt from scalp to toes and his bruises had bruises.

He still didn't flinch as he made his way up to the roof. The roof of the Pit was pretty much acknowledged as the territory of the pilots during the day, though it was occasionally usurped for ninja sparring purposes. It was an unspoken rule in the Pit that sword fights always had right of way.

Around about dinnertime however, people drifted off and the roof was often appropriated by anyone who wanted a little peace and quiet and a good view. Since the first two were highly conducive and the third a nice bonus for meditation, it wasn't uncommon for one of the ninja to be found up there around sunset.

This, in fact, was Kamakura's intent. When he slid, absolutely silent, out of the stairwell and directly into the shadows...paranoia was considered a virtue by ninja...he quickly realized that he wasn't the only one who'd had the idea.

Snake Eyes was sitting cross legged on the edge of the safety wall, his back to Kamakura. Kamakura promptly froze and went to back up; he didn't want to disturb his sensei. Not that Snake would be mad...he wouldn't...but it was a respect thing.

Snake Eyes didn't turn, but one hand came up. *There's plenty of roof, Kamakura.*

"Sorry, sensei."

*Don't be.* Snake Eyes twisted enough to eye him. *How are you feeling?*

Kamakura blinked. "Sensei?"

*Jinx. She was being a She hit you rather hard a few times. I reprimanded her; bumps and bruises are acceptable, but truly injuring your fellow apprentice is not.*

"I'm fine, sensei." Kamakura felt rather mollified; Jinx had been rather touchy today, and she had hit him hard a few times. He was fine...but still. He hadn't been about to say anything, but still.

*Good.* Snake Eyes turned back to eye the sunset. Kamakura appropriated a patch of wall a respectful distance from his sensei.

They had approximately fifteen minutes of peace before distraction arrived in the form of a tall redhead. Scarlett called Snake's name; Kamakura retreated another fifty feet down the wall to give his sensei and Sergeant O'Hara a bit of privacy.

"Snake?" Scarlett's voice again. Kamakura tuned out; a ninja apprentice that lived in close proximity to his master and his master's fiancée quickly learned selective hearing, mostly out of self-preservation. There were some things that he just did not want to think about, not the least the extreme pain that would result from prying into even the innocent details of Snake and Scarlett's relationship.

When Jinx's name managed to make itself through his concentrated armor of Not Listening, however, he couldn't help himself. He pricked up his ears just a bit.

"...talked to her." Scarlett was saying. "I know she's been in a bad usually puts her in a bad mood...but she's promised that she'll keep it to herself." A pause, and when Scarlett spoke again Kamakura could actually hear the grin in her voice. "She is sorry...and she wants to apologize to you and Kamakura, but I told her I wasn't sure exactly how badly you or Kamakura wanted to hear anything about 'lady issues.'"

...And that was a particularly shining example of why he practiced selective hearing. Kamakura groaned to himself, very quietly. He still couldn't help himself; he glanced sideways.

Snake Eyes was shaking his head. Kamakura couldn't see what he was signing, but the body language was clear, and it was saying 'I don't want to know.'

"That's what I thought." Scarlett smiled and kissed Snake Eyes on top of the head. "Big, bad ninja master, but you are such a guy sometimes. You're welcome, Snake. If you need me to talk to her again, I will."

The *Thank you.* signs were clear. Scarlett, still smiling, headed back for the stairwell.

A few minutes passed in silence. It was broken by a sharp clicking, which Kamakura recognized as his sensei's usual request for attention. He slid off the wall and trotted over.

*I take it you heard that?* Snake Eyes didn't look angry, though. *If you want her to apologize in person, it wouldn't hurt her.*

"I'm fine, sensei. No need." As far as Kamakura was concerned, women with PMS were something to be avoided at all costs, let alone ninja women.

*Very well.* Snake Eyes examined him. *You did a good job today, Kamakura.* A sudden smile.*Though I think BeachHead is going to murder me tomorrow... something about every pair of his clean socks vanishing, while he was in the room and in the few minutes his back was turned. He thinks I have something to do with it, for some reason. Very well done.*

Kamakura puffed up a little bit. Complements from sensei were not given unless more than earned, and were to be savored. "Do you want me to return them tonight, sensei?"

*If you would. Exactly as they were.*

"Right away, sensei." Kamakura bowed.

Snake Eyes was still examining him, looking rather thoughtful. Kamakura waited, just in case sensei was going to add some more tasks to be accomplished before bed. Though, actually, bed was sounding like a really, really good idea right now. Shower...pillow...blankets...sleeping. Preferably for about the next twelve hours. If he went to bed now, he could get in a solid eleven before his alarm went off in the morning, and his tired muscles were highly enthusiastic about any plan that involved not moving for ten or more consecutive hours.

He rather hoped that sensei didn't choose to add on another task or two.

When Snake's hands moved, however, it wasn't to add a few more kata or another stealth exercise. *Wade would be proud of you, Sean.*

Kamakura could count on the fingers of one hand how many times since his apprenticeship began his sensei had called him by his real name. "Sensei?"

*I know he didn't want you to join the army. But he would be proud of you.* A smile under the black mask. *God knows, I didn't sugarcoat things...I really didn't think you would enlist. I am glad you did, however. Jinx needs the competition. She tends towards overconfidence, and it's good for her to have someone who didn't even know about ninja until a few years ago already at her level, or nearly so. Incentive, you might say.* A pause. *She is very, very good, to be fair...but you're catching up to her remarkably quickly.*

Kamakura blinked again. "Thank you, sensei. Um...why, exactly..."

*Sorry.* Snake looked out over the Pit complex again. *Today, many years ago, we left Wade for dead in the jungle.*

"Oh." Kamakura winced. "He...never talked much about that."

*I don't expect he would.* Snake Eyes...Kamakura had gotten rather good at reading facial expression through a mask, and right now, what he was seeing was guilt. It was...strange. It wasn't often that Kamakura thought of his master as anything but a near-omnipotent, all-knowing and incredibly capable being who might just be a little more than human. *He'd be proud of you, Sean. I am, too. Now go take BeachHead's socks back, because if he has to wear a pair twice we'll all die. I don't need to tell you not to get caught.*

"Right away, sensei."