Sooo.. fluff. Yes, I know.. should be writing on other things, but I was dehydrated and hot and I just had to write down this instead.. I'm still working on the regular fics. I don't own any of the GI Joe stuff, and I don't make money from any of these fanfics.

Dehydrated Ranger: Just Add Water

Beach climbed off the back of the transport truck and dragged his backpack out to let it thud onto the ground. "Thanks fer the lift, Clutch." Hefting the pack up onto a shoulder, he trudged towards the motorpool. His week in Death Valley had been six days too long. Despite having been stationed in the desert region for the past years, he'd never quite gotten used to the arid weather and lack of humidity. His morning runs in the pre-dawn hours often let him start out the day in a slightly humid foggy atmosphere, to counter the rest of the day. Some summers he relished supervising PT when it rained, simply to not feel like a bit of beef jerky at the end of the day.

"Beach! You're back!" The light cheerful shout made him turn to look while walking. "I missed you." CoverGirl trotted up to pace his long strides. "How'd it go?"

"Long.. hot.. dry." He gave her a slight smile. "Missed you too." He dragged off the dusty mask to bend slightly to kiss her cheek. While she beamed happily, he shook the balaclava, leaving a cloud of dust in the air. "Danged desert conditions.."

"Awww.. what's wrong Ranger man? A dry heat doesn't feel as bad." She nudged him a few times, deliberately pestering at him trying to get a reaction.

He ignored the pokes. "Yeah, well.. I had nosebleeds halfway through the danged week. A little moisture in the air would've helped." She grabbed at the pack and pulled him off-balance. "Hey.. come on, gimme a break."

"How about you come eat lunch with me?" Courtney reached to ruffle at his hair, making him duck away. "Ewww... you have grit in your hair."

"Well I just got off the danged truck.. would you LEAVE OFF ME WOMAN!" He whirled and swatted her hand away as she grabbed at his ear. "Gawd help me.. I'm gonna smack you."

"Oh fine!" She crossed her arms and frowned. "I haven't seen you in a week and you won't even stop walking to say 'hi' to me!"

"I hafta go report in!" He rolled his eyes. "I'll say hi and all that junk after I go report in to Hawk." His gaze flicked over to her sulky face as he continued into the garages. "I shouldn't hafta stop and make a big fuss over ya.. it ain't like yer some delicate needy waif who has to have attention or you'll start doubting that I care about you. Yer smarter than that." He stepped into the lift. "I'll see you at dinner?"

She shifted her weight foot to foot, and then smiled. "Well.. yeah." Her pleased expression didn't change although she leveled a finger at him as the lift began to descend. "You better remember to meet me for dinner though."

"I will." He sighed to himself as the tank jockey disappeared. He itched, both from the dust and grit and also from his skin drying out. With any luck, he could report to Hawk and then hit the showers for an hour.

"Beach..." The familiar voice of the Joe Warrant officer stopped Beach in his trip towards the admin areas. "Hey.. Hawk told me you would be in.. I need you upstairs."

"What? I'm just going to report to Hawk.." Beach's protest was interrupted.

"Hawk's off-base. He told me he'll debrief you tomorrow unless there was some important thing? No? Okay.. in that case.." Flint twirled his hand in the air. "I need you back up top. We need a member of Joe command upstairs. There's some maintenance going on and I need you available to inspect as they get done with each repair." He got a smug look on his face. "Sorry, I know you're probably all worn out after your week in the field.."

Beach knew he was being baited, knew Flint was setting him up so he'd have to swallow his pride or fall for the taunt. But he couldn't wriggle out of it either way. "No sir... it's fine." He was gritting his teeth as he hefted his pack again. "I'll head up now, sir."

Upstairs on the grounds of the base, BeachHead grumpily checked in on the list of maintenance projects. Each of the teams working assured him they were getting things done in a timely manner, most of them nervous about his obviously poor state of temper. He'd replaced the balaclava and scowled fiercely at the team leader of the group digging up the water supply pipes to one of the outbuildings.

"Sergeant major, we're nearly done exposing the pipes, then we'll be able to find the leaking portions and begin cutting them out to replace them." The greenshirt corporal stepped slightly away as Beach shifted his weight irritably. "We're working as quickly as possible, but it's hot and..."

Beach snapped at him. "Hot? I just got back from Death Valley and yer gonna whine about 'hot'? Shut up." He turned to stride away and twisted to speak over his shoulder. "Make sure everyone drinks water. If one of yer team falls out from dehydration, I'll bust the whole team."

The next team was painting the exterior walls again, after the latest escapades involving inventive paintjobs on the walls. Corporal Miller offered BeachHead a jug of water without speaking. Beach downed half of it and handed the remainder back. "Thanks. How long until this's done?"

Miller eyed the team painting, all of them keeping their eyes from the scowling instructor watching. "I would say it will take until at least four in the afternoon." Beach nodded, his own estimate being close to that as well. "I'll report to you as soon as it's finished."

"Yeah, you and all the rest of the danged team leaders." Beach snarled. "Danged standin' around for no good reason."

Miller edged sideways warily. "Sorry Sergeant major.. maybe you could go downstairs until.."

Beach waved him off. "No, Flint made it clear.. I'm supposed to be up here.. supervising ya'll until it's all done. Dang him.. he knows I hate doing nothin'."

"Sorry Sergeant major. Maybe you could just find some shade while you wait?" Miller edged a bit further away. "I'll send Williams around every so often to get reports from everyone. He can bring updates to you."

Beach's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Yeah? What? You think I can't take the heat? Think I'm gettin' too danged old to be working anymore?"

"No Sergeant major! Just.. you just came in from desert conditions, uhhh.. and we all know that rest in the shade would be best so you can.. umm.. recover in case the Joe team is needed." Miller nodded hopefully. "Yeah, and I know that your first concern is always being ready in case you're needed."

"Good save." Looking slightly amused at the greenshirt's quick backpedaling, Beach smirked. "I'm gonna go find somewhere to sit and wait for reports. I'll be easy to find, no doubt." He walked away, swinging by the small crew patching up the potholes in one of the access roads, and then stood looking across the weedy field to see the team stretching new fencewire. No one looked like they needed direct supervision and he frowned to himself, feeling the hot sun beating on him. Gazing over to the far reaches of the base, he could just see the edge of the wall separating his obstacle course from the rest of the field and sighed. He'd just about go and soak in a mudpit right now, but being secluded off out of sight wasn't fulfilling the obligation of being available to take reports.

Heading for the front of the barracks, he stopped as the smell of water hit his nose. Walking around to the side, he found the sprinklers running on the lawn and felt his lip twitch. Having a lawn in the middle of a desert had always seemed foolish but the brass felt it was needed to give the base the crisp feel of an orderly military installation. He watched the water spray wetting the grass and twitched again...

"LIFELINE!" The shouts from the young greenshirt brought the medic running to the front of the infirmary area. "Come quick!"

"What is it?" Lifeline was grabbing at the emergency medical bag under the front desk. "Where's the emergency?"

"It's Sergeant major! You gotta come quick, he's passed out!" The greenshirt tugged at Lifeline's sleeve in an attempt to move him faster. "Come on!"

"I'm coming!" Lifeline twisted as he was pulled towards the corridor, shouting back to the treatment area where one of the assistants was peering out curiously. "Stretcher! Hey.. grab a litter and follow me up!" He turned back and waved the greenie on. "Okay okay.. I'm coming.. what happened?"

"I don't know.. I just know he's laid out on the grass and he wasn't moving and I came down to get you because he shouldn't be passed out on the ground like that and it's really hot out and I know he was really mad about being up top when he just got back and everyone was trying to get the work done fast so.."

Lifeline shushed him before he passed out from lack of oxygen. "Calm down.. calm down. I'm sure BeachHead is fine, he's a tough guy. He probably just got overheated and dehydrated."

The wide-eyed greenshirt nodded. "Yeah.. you'll help him, you help everyone!"

Lifeline smiled a little. "Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll do whatever I can."

They arrived in the motorpool and the instant Lifeline stepped off the lift, the greenshirt was tugging him again. "This way.. he's over here.."

There were quite a few greenshirts crowded up at the corner of the building when they arrived, all peering around at something. Lifeline rounded the corner, shooing them out of his way. "Move move.. what are you guys.. oh geez..." He pursed his lips, looking at the prone Ranger stretched out shirtless on the grass.. under the sprinklers, soaking wet. The only clothing he had on were fatigue pants that were obviously completely soaked with water. "Couldn't you guys at least move him out from under the sprinklers? Why'd you leave..." He stopped as the sound of a loud drawn out snore reached him. "Oh for god's sake..."

"He's asleep, Medic Lifeline." Miller looked at him expectantly. "I guess he was hot."

"Why didn't you wake him up?" Some days Lifeline really didn't feel as if he had enough patience to deal with the foolishness.

All of the greenshirts looked at him. Finally Folkson spoke up. "Well.. would you like to go poke him awake? I mean... he's not all that happy to be disturbed at the best of times.. and.. he's sleeping under the sprinklers."

"I see he's sleeping under the sprinklers.. I don't know why he'd be sleeping under the sprinklers... and who put the... uhh... accessories around him?" Suddenly no one wanted to look at him and Lifeline sighed and shook his head. The sleeping Ranger was surrounded by a inflatable life ring, a set of battered water wings, at least a dozen tiny drink umbrellas in a simulated mushroom fairy ring around him, a single lonely rubber duck and finally a plastic pink flamingo that was leaning over Beach's face, leering at him.

Mouth grinned at him. "I'm pretty sure no one saw anything."

"Of course not." Lifeline gazed at Private Mouth for a moment while the cocky greenshirt smirked. "I think you should wake him up... since you're the innocent one and haven't done anything for him to be annoyed at."

Mouth lost the smirk and began to stammer a bit. "Oh.. well.. y-you know.. I was just about t-to.. uhh.. go and... umm..."

"Well, it's a good thing you lingered then, so you're here to lend a hand. I know you're happy you're able to help out a medic this way, I really appreciate how willing and able you greenshirts are." Lifeline smiled and gave him a gentle push towards the Ranger.

"Wait.. wait! How am I supposed to wake him up? He'll murder me!" Mouth looked for help to his fellow troopers.

Corporal Miller smirked. "Well.. you could try throwing some water on him..."

"Oh that's very funny, Miller... really witty." Mouth looked at Lifeline with a pleading expression. "Come on.. please don't make me die a horrible death this afternoon... I know Roadblock is baking chocolate cake and I haven't had chocolate cake in weeks. If I wake up Sergeant major, I'll be eating through a straw for a month."

"Well, for someone ballsy enough to treat all of my tongue depressors with lemon juice to make people gag when I used them.. you seem awfully worried now." Lifeline crossed his arms. "Why don't you just poke him with a stick?"

"Because last time I did that, he told me that I'd eat the next stick I poked him with!" Mouth looked from the snoring Ranger to Lifeline. "Pleeeease don't make me! I'll do whatever you want.. just don't make me wake him up!"

Letting out a heavy sigh, Lifeline suddenly nodded. "Okay.. let's be fair... " Mouth relaxed with a heavy puff of breath. ".. you don't want to do it.. I don't want to do it.. I outrank you. So I say.. you do it. Now."

"Awww... come on! Rock, paper, scissors?" Lifeline shook his head and Mouth tilted his head back. "Geez.. and I thought you were a cool guy, Lifeline." The medic simply nodded at the sleeping man. "Fine.. but when you have to put a body cast on me.. it's gonna be your own fault!"

"I'll deal with it." Lifeline watched him approaching the wet grass cautiously. "Just try to stay out of reach.."

"What?" As Mouth reached down to shake Beach's leg, the Ranger woke up all at once. The first sight to greet him was the leering flamingo and he sucked in breath, choked on water and coughed wildly, just as Mouth grabbed his leg.


Even Lifeline was astounded at how fast the big Ranger could move when he was motivated. Mouth barely had time to yelp before a hand closed around his throat and his protests were choked off. The wet grass did assist in the take-down and Mouth was twisted into a uncomfortable position with his limbs pinned at terribly awkward looking angles.

Miller tilted his head watching. "Should his elbow bend that way?" He winced as there was a loud pop audible even over the angry cursing.

"Not really..." Lifeline sighed. "Maybe we should go pull him off of Mouth?" A particularly high-pitched shriek issued forth and the medic squinted at the volume level.

Thinking it over slowly, Miller hummed. "My advice would be to wait until we can understand what he's saying. When Sergeant major's too mad to speak clearly, he has that tendency to break bones until you guess what he wants."

"True that." Lifeline shrugged and stepped forward. "But if we wait much longer, I'll have all that paperwork regarding non-combat related deaths..." He lifted his voice. "Beach! BEACH!"

The shirtless soaking wet man twisted to glare at him. "WHUT? Ah'm BUSY!"

"Yes.. I see that. Could you please not actually murder Private Mouth?" Lifeline motioned to the greenshirt hanging from Beach's grip. "He really isn't supposed to be that shade of blue.."

"Whut? Dang it.." BeachHead dropped him with a squishy thud. "What the hell are ya doin' out here anyway! What's all this junk?" He brushed irritably at his arm, dislodging bits of grass from his dripping body.

Lifeline ignored the questions. "Are you okay? Why were you sleeping under the sprinklers?"

"I was dry." Beach wiped at his face and pushed the wet hair back off his forehead.

Shaking his head, Lifeline reached to pick up the discarded shirt. "Well, you sure fixed that. Here.."

Taking the shirt, Beach shrugged. "Well.. my mudpits were too far off. I didn't mean to fall asleep though. I just got in though.. danged Flint assigned me out here."

"Well... what are you even supposed to be doing out here anyway?" Lifeline watched him picking up the discarded body armor and gear. Bundling it up under an arm, Beach tossed his boots over his shoulder to hang by the laces. "Can I carry something?"

Beach gave him a sly glance. "Sure.. here.. carry my guns.." When Lifeline made a face at him, he shrugged. "Before ya ask.. no that don't never get old."

"Yes, I've noticed your ability to find the same joke amusing for years. It's a sign of your simple nature." Lifeline plucked up the heavy medical bag and then waved at Stretcher who'd finally appeared with the litter and the larger pack of emergency gear. "Sorry.. false alarm. BeachHead was just napping under the sprinklers."

Stretcher looked puzzled. "Umm, okay. So we're gonna take him to Psyche-Out for a mental eval?"

Lifeline nodded seriously. "Yes.. if you'd just put the restraints on him.. we'll drag him down to the office now."

Now Stretcher narrowed his eyes. "Me? Why don't you do it?"

The medic sighed. "Why is it that everyone wants ME to be the one BeachHead snaps like a twig?"

Stretcher shrugged. "He won't injure you too badly.. he likes you." He peered past Lifeline and BeachHead. "Why is Mouth curled up on the ground that way?"

"OH... yeah." Lifeline turned to look. "We probably should take him down for.. oh I don't know... Xrays or something."

BeachHead scowled. "I didn't break none of his major bones."

Lifeline nodded agreeably. "That's nice. Stretcher, load him up and we'll check him downstairs."

BeachHead looked around at all the greenshirts. "What are all ya'll lookin' at? Get back to work.. if'n ya got the job finished, let me know so I can go sign off on the project. Go on! Git!"

The crowd mostly scattered. Only a handful remained, standing as far away as possible to report on assignments to the Sergeant major. The field medic and Lifeline got the groaning Mouth onto the litter to carry him downstairs. Another greenshirt volunteered to help carry Mouth on his stretcher.

As they started to leave, Stretcher took a last look at the damp lawn. "Where did someone find a pink flamingo on base?"

Lifeline simply rolled his eyes. "Don't ask... if you ask, I fear we might find out where Beach gets things like thirty-four sets of pink women's underwear or fuzzy pens that look like kittens. And that would mentally unhinge me. You don't want a mentally unhinged medic on staff, do you?"

Stretcher grinned. "Oh no no... we already have one. He's kind of pint-sized, but we like him anyway."

"Oh shut up... I swear... I'm FIVE EIGHT AND A HALF!"

End fic

Yes, I'm aware. It's ridiculous, and nothing but fluff. I enjoyed writing it, hopefully someone enjoys reading it. Now.. back to writing the regularly scheduled fics.