This first story is set while Snake Eyes is training with the Arashikage clan. It is in Tommy's point of view.


"Where did you even GET that?" I ask, grabbing the can of coke out of his hand.

He jumps and turns around, trying to frown but looking like a kid caught with a stolen bag of candies. I smirk at him.

"Still deaf as a stone, I see."

"You're the first one to manage to sneak up on me in a while. Give that back, will you?"

"Nuh-uh. It belongs in the trash, not in you."

He opens his mouth but I cut him off.

"If the Hard Master finds out you don't feel like you're abusing your body enough already, I'm sure he'll find ways to remedy the situation."

He rolls his eyes.

"It's not abuse if it's in moderation."

"You would spend all this time and effort making your body as efficient as it can be, and then undo it all by stuffing yourself with refined sugar and drugs?" I lecture. "And do you expect me to believe there isn't a single actual food item – real food, I mean - that you enjoy? Come on, you MUST like some fruits, at least. I don't even remember your being a picky eater in the war. You even managed to gulp down those rations without so much as a single gag."

"Don't YOU ever want a treat? Precisely BECAUSE you're putting yourself in pain all the time?"

I smirk at him. He's going to start literally begging next, at this rate... he obviously needs a distraction.

"No junk food," I repeat sternly. "For crying out loud, haven't you figured out how the other students comfort themselves? I'm hardly ever here and I still can tell they're just like we were before I left for the war, despite the much smaller numbers. You ARE allowed out of your room in the evenings, you know."

He turns beet red, confirming without a doubt that he HAS noticed.

"You know about that? Do the other Masters...?"

I roll my eyes at him.

"Of course they know. Stop being such a prude. Sex feels good and unlike this..." I wave the can at him. "...it won't harm you, provided you protect yourself. It even gives you a bit more cardio, if you absolutely need an excuse. What is it, can't find a girl who's willing?" I finish with a smirk.

He somehow manages to turn an ever deeper shade of red as anger mixes in with embarrassment.

I probably shouldn't be enjoying this quite so much.

"And it was like that when you were a student yourself, was it?" he asks in an obvious attempt at steering the conversation away from himself.

I nod, smirking again.

"Admittedly, it was easier back then. There were literally dozens of girls here, and plenty of them were my age or close enough. Between that and the girls at school who were either dumb enough to believe I was absent all the time because I was plagued with all those diseases and therefore took pity on me, and the ones who were smart enough to figure out I didn't look and move like a ninja for nothing and downright lusted after me..."

"Oh shut up," he cuts me off. "Wait a minute..." he adds accusingly, "you told me you were homeschooled!"

"I was for the most part, but going to an accredited school is mandatory here, so I was registered. I'd go for a week every now and then, and once every week or every other week outside of that. My uncle made up all kinds of health reasons for me not to go more often - I'm guessing the school didn't buy it, but they never felt the need to fight my family about it, as long as I passed my classes."

"I can't picture you taking advantage of the girls pitying you."

"Oh alright, you got me on that one. I only ever had one conquest at school, and she was in the lusting-after-the-ninja-kid category. I felt sooo used." I finish with a melodramatic accent.

He snorts.

"Not enough to refuse, obviously."

"Well, no. I WAS fifteen."

"First time?"

"How did this conversation become about me?"

He shrugs.

"It's a talent of yours, and I'm hoping to distract you enough to snag my coke back."

I chuckle.

"Forget it. And no, but she flashed me. Like I said: fifteen."

He sniggers.

"Is that why you wanted to be a teacher? More of the right kind of action by staying home?"

This time I laugh out loud. He's so naive it's cute. He interprets my reaction correctly and groans.

"Don't tell me. The marriage proposals come with offers to try it out?"

It takes some serious effort to stop laughing and to answer.

"Sometimes, but there's no need for proposals for that. Teachers tend to settle down, marry. Wage Earners are the ones who are usually promiscuous and who enjoy this kind of variety. Haven't any of the other students mentioned that?"

His eyes are wide but he nods.

"I thought they were kidding. They say it's part of the whole lifestyle… is what you do really all that dangerous?"

"Technically, yes, but in reality, we don't go around killing each other over the prizes, so thieving missions and guarding missions for them aren't that dangerous – the most that will happen is an injury. Bodyguard jobs can be dangerous, but usually, the opposition is no threat to ninjas. If the opposition IS ninjas, we still avoid mortally wounding each other because that would quickly devolve into clan wars. So, yes, it's dangerous, but I don't expect to die young from it."

I flash him a smile, cock my head and bat my eyelashes.

"You weren't worried for me, were you?"

He rolls his eyes at me.

"Not anymore, now I know you just go out to sleep around with any willing girl."

"I do NOT. I refuse most offers, if you must know."

I neglect to mention the only reason for that is that I'm typically too tired or eager to come back and train to have much desire to accept.

He snorts.

"Most? That still means you're a shameless playboy, and I COULD use less gentle vocabulary," he says, imitating – badly – my voice. "My opinion of you is forever tainted, but I might consider forgiving you IF you give me my coke back."

"Can't now, the Hard Master's coming this way... I think I made you late. I'd almost be tempted, though, just to reward you for talking normally for once."

He looks at his watch in a panic and jumps to his feet to trot towards his sensei, who promptly scolds him and instructs him to go run the long course a couple of times since he's obviously feeling so leisurely today.