Karama9, your sequel, in which people are a bit nicer to Tommy, who also gets to show off and get laid. (God, I really am a hopelessly pervy ninja fancier, aren't I? Least I'm not alone. 'Points at Karama9') As I promised about a month ago. Thanks for the extra bits early, by the way.
Anyway, I'll shut up and get on with the ninja showing off and giant run-on sentences. (If I have one technical fault as a writer…)
"Seriously?" Tommy raised his eyebrows. "It's not like it's my first one or anything…you really don't have to make a fuss over it, sir."
Hawk just smiled. "Think of this as my way of thanking you for saving my life. Seeing that you just suffered through three weeks of medical leave without killing one of my medics, I rather feel you've earned it."
"Dress uniform?" Tommy grimaced. "Really?"
"You said you've never worn it. Every soldier should have an excuse to wear his dress uniform at least once. " Hawk grinned a little more widely. "And somehow I think you'd enjoy the opportunity to show off your medal collection just a little bit."
His CO had a point there. Generally, Storm Shadow tended to view medals as something that you accumulated as a matter of course if you were doing your job halfway competently. He'd racked up a half-dozen citations for valor, three or four Purple Hearts, a couple of commendations for his hand-to-hand skills, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a few others that he really couldn't remember at the moment.
Most of the time, these were kept in the back of one of his drawers, under his extra socks. Generally, he considered surviving and completing your mission to be success enough; this was a ninja value that had been ingrained into him so thoroughly that it had been rather odd the first time he'd been informed he was receiving a medal during his first tour in Southeast Asia for something he simply considered 'doing his job.'
It had been a bit of a culture shock; while Tommy had always enjoyed being recognized for his skills, the most praise a ninja would ever expect to receive was a verbal commendation from one of the clan masters and the respect of his fellow agents. Such verbal praise and notoriety was highly valued, to be fair. Tommy himself, a full agent since the age of sixteen, considered a few words from the Hard Master wholly worth whatever danger and bloodshed was necessary in order to earn them.
Medals? For things like getting wounded in action? Getting wounded in action was expected by ninja. However good you were, you were going to pick up a few scars over the years. Injuries were generally only viewed as proof that you either needed to work at your blocks or that yes, you could in fact take on seven armed opponents single-handedly.
Valor? That was more situational…the usual ninja view on valor was that it was great so long as it didn't get you killed; dead agents weren't of much use to the clan. Of course, ninja also tended towards a certain amount of fearlessness and adrenaline addiction and a little bit of pride over their skills, so what was seen by some as 'valorous actions under fire' could simply have been 'a lot of fun at the time' or 'I'll be damned if these idiots take me down.' Of course, ninja also tended to have a far different view of 'danger' than most; Tommy had a few awards for valor under fire from situations that hadn't even measurably raised his pulse.
He was a ninja first. Medals? Rather nice, but not really necessary. A flat-out formal presentation of an award given for simply fulfilling the terms of his sworn oath was ridiculous.
But…well, Tommy had never claimed not to enjoy a chance to show off a bit and if it made Hawk feel better about the arrow, the broken rib, the surgery, the fight with the medics, and the resulting three weeks of highly irritable Tommy and edgy doctors, Tommy wasn't going to argue.
And he never had worn his dress uniform...
"Yes, sir." He grinned. "Dress uniform, medals, and the formal weapons. Do you think a kasuri-kama or a whip chain would be more appropriate with the dress threads?"
Hawk sighed and rubbed a temple. "I doubt you'll have to fight off a platoon in the motor pool, Storm."
"You never know." Tommy said innocently.
Hawk sighed again, but started chuckling under his breath. "I'd say the swords would go better with the Army dress uniform, but that's just me."
"Duly noted, sir."
Three weeks after his conversation with Hawk, Tommy was digging through one of the storage boxes from under his bed; he kept various things he rarely used or wore but still found occasionally useful in it.
Mostly, this consisted of odd personal effects accumulated over the years, along with a few favorite disguise accessories and items 'liberated' from enemies that might come in handy someday.
He moved aside several stolen Cobra ID passes, a Spetsnaz uniform in his size, an old framed picture of his parents, and pulled out the dress uniform he'd been issued upon officially re-joining the Army.
"You've seriously never worn that?" Lying on her belly on his bed, Sherry sounded curious.
Tommy sat back on his heels. "No, I have not."
"You're telling me you never even put it on and pinned on all your medals and admired how awesome you look in a mirror? Seriously? Every soldier has done that. I've done that."
"I'm not a big fan of regulation uniforms, in case you haven't noticed."
A snicker. "Like anyone on this team is."
"Well, true. But I can honestly say that I haven't put on an army uniform since I served in Southeast Asia…well, unless I was wearing it as a disguise."
"You wear a tee shirt with 'Army' across the chest in big black letters every day to PT."
"That doesn't count." He stood and shook out the dress uniform. "I only wear that because the sight of white clothes sends BeachHead into a frothing rage and he can't rest until I've got grass stains on top of the mud stains. The laundry crew already hates me enough."
"Well, bloodstains are hard to get out of white clothes." Sherry pointed out reasonably. "And you do have a habit of going for the really bleedy bits when you're fighting."
Tommy closed his eyes and bit back a sigh. "They're called 'vital targets'. Or if you're a doctor, arteries, large veins, and organs. Not 'bleedy bits'."
"You know, this might be part of why you still get used as punching practice by the rest of the hand-to-hand class."
Sherry scowled. "And let's see you smoke a CLAW glider with a few 50 cal rounds when your targeting software is on the fritz, your missiles are gone, and there are holes punched in your cockpit canopy, mister almighty ninja. That needs to be pressed before you wear it. Have you even taken that thing out since you shoved it under there?" She eyed him and shook her head. "No, you haven't. You've paid more attention to that Russian uniform you stole…and no, I do not want to know how you got that…than you have to your own dress threads."
"Guilty as charged." Tommy said cheerfully. "The Spetsnaz uniform is an interesting story, actually."
"I don't want to know. You're a terrible excuse for a soldier…haven't even admired your own medal collection."
"I'm not a soldier. I'm a ninja."
A sigh. "Why did I know you were going to say that?"
"Because you've spent entirely too much time around me."
That got him a rather wicked grin. "I like being entertained. And you're a reasonably interesting person. Fairly decorative, too."
Tommy grinned. "True. Faces like this don't grow on trees."
"So modest, too." She shook her head.
Tommy gave her an injured look. "I do believe that I expressed my support of most of the major sins shortly after we first met, didn't I? Do you never listen to me? "
Sherry rolled her eyes and sat up. Tommy ducked; her shirt just missed his head. "Stop being melodramatic, get over here, and remind me why I like hanging around with you."
He grinned. "See, now you're speaking my language."
"Less talking, please."
Two days later, and Tommy had to admit that the Army dress threads looked pretty damn good on him.
Snake Eyes had done a great deal of head-shaking when he'd found out that his sword brother was to get a formal presentation of his newest Purple Heart. Not because Tommy was getting another medal; while Snake Eyes had a sizeable collection of his own, and while he perhaps took a bit more pride in this fact than Tommy did, he tended to view earning them the same way that Storm Shadow did. Still, he was a soldier, and he enjoyed seeing his friends earn medals almost as much as he (secretly, but Tommy knew his sword brother) enjoyed receiving them himself
Of course, being Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow's sword brother tended to qualify for medals while running errands. His sword brother was the absolute darling of the Pentagon, despite the occasional tendency to vanish on private side-missions not officially sanctioned or downright forbidden by the chain of command.
You could get by with a lot if the 'specialty' line on your personnel sheet read 'ninja commando'. Tommy had a private theory that the higher-ups would sign any medal application with Snake Eyes' name on it that Hawk sent across their desks. Probably without even reading the mission specifics, and up to and possibly including the Medal of Honor, in the event that Hawk ever got it into his head to put in for that particular award on behalf of his commando.
Tommy, while he enjoyed the same leeway to pretty much do whatever he wanted to under the blanket assumption of 'ninja do weird/dangerous/slightly illegal things, but they make our enemies and could make us extremely dead so just go with it', didn't quite enjoy such favorable reception on the occasion that he had to deal with the chain of command higher than Hawk. Feared was probably the best term for his reputation amongst the rest of the armed forces. The higher-ups still remembered his face on the 'most dangerous enemy agents' list, and it hadn't really been so long ago.
Anyway, Snake Eyes had done some head shaking, and had remarked that he was fairly sure that the world would implode when Tommy voluntarily put on a regulation uniform…whatever the occasion. Tommy had pointed out that Hawk had told him that he was to dig out his dress uniform; Snake had countered by saying that Tommy could have gotten out of it if he really wanted to, which Storm had to admit was probably true. Avoiding functions or appointments that he really didn't want to go to was something of a specialty of Tommy's. And Hawk probably wouldn't have fought him too hard on the question of dress. Hawk himself, after all, was more likely to be seen in slightly battered BDU's and body armor than his dress uniform and general's stars.
So far, no space-time rip had sucked the Pit into oblivion. Tommy managed to dredge up memories of what pin went where in which order and on which side from somewhere in the depths of his brain. Considering that he had absolutely never used this information since unenthusiastically committing it to memory in Basic many years ago, he was rather proud of this fact.
Tommy was twenty minutes early, but Hawk was already down in the motor pool when Tommy made his way down; the general raised his eyebrows when the ninja sauntered in.
"Good lord, you actually wore the uniform." Hawk sounded vaguely surprised. "You look...dear god, you look like a soldier."
Tommy buffed his nails on his chest. "I clean up okay when I want to. Feels downright weird, though."
"Looks weird." Hawk examined him curiously. "Out of curiosity, how many weapons..."
"Fourteen." Tommy grinned. "It was a little bit of a challenge to hide them in places I could get to them easily...I much prefer a gi, sir."
"Craziest damned unit in history." Hawk muttered under his breath.
"Why, thank you sir."
It was about then that the other Joes started drifting in.
The presentation itself was short and to the point, which Tommy was grateful for. As much as he did enjoy it (and it was nice to get praised by his CO) he hated speeches, he hated having to give speeches, and he was glad that neither took place. His new Purple Heart got pinned next to his other four Purple Hearts; Tommy amused himself for a few moments by remembering exactly which one of his scars had earned each award.
Dismissed, he made a beeline towards his room and comfortable clothes.
He was ambushed just outside his door.
"You look good in that." Sherry's tone was downright admiring.
"Thank you." Tommy raised an eyebrow slightly; that tone of voice meant that he had a very, very good chance of getting extremely lucky sometime in the next hour or so.
Sherry grabbed him by the front of the shirt and dragged him into his own room. "I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I like men in uniform. Medals kind of do it for me."
"You never mentioned it." Tommy was grinning now. "Easy on the buttons...if you rip them off, you're sewing them back on."
A snort. "You really don't want that. I have the sewing skills of a three year old." His shirt hit the floor, and Sherry's eyebrows jumped. "Jesus!" A sigh. "You know, getting you naked can be scary."
Tommy carefully removed the knives strapped to his forearms, the throwing spikes tucked in his belt, and the whip chain around his waist. "Better?"
Some time later, and Tommy was in a fantastic mood. He grinned good-naturedly at his ceiling. "You know, if that's the kind of response I get, I'm going to wear that uniform a lot more."
The only response he got was a snore.