01. WOUND

This always, always happened: One would arrive, and the other would throw himself off a cliff if it meant reaching the first that much faster. One would chase and the other would follow, and always the dance was the same.

They would close together, like so, in a violent mockery of grace; every well-honed muscle, every sleek line of their bodies had been dedicated to this, to the flow of war in their own private battle. Pain, blood, the frustrated cries of their allies meant nothing- Their hate-drenched need for each other made each of them a deadly Fisher King. [1]


02. SCRATCHES

Hidden amongst the scar-tissue and bullet-wounds and gashes from blades, Doc nodded thoughtfully and made note of a series of thin lacerations spread across ninja's back. Interesting...

Well, had it been any other man; but Snake Eyes was Snake Eyes, and it was difficult to imagine him with a woman, the Pit's running pool aside. [2]

Snake Eyes was thinking of the way he'd received those particular scars. It had been an act of passion, as it always was between himself and his pale shadow. He wasn't surprised- Scars happen, especially after falling twelve stories into a tree full of thorns.


03. CLAWS [3]

The claws were meant to scale with, to find yourself where no-one wanted you to be; but, like their wielder, the claws were versatile too. Should one's silent work be interrupted by a black-clad ghost, why, then those claws were just as happy to sharpen themselves across the phantom's flesh instead.

Snake Eyes, as always, said nothing as the steel raked through his uniform and tore his skin; in a fluid movement he slipped out of Storm Shadow's reach and failed to notice the pain, though his hand reflexively went to his right forearm, its crimson hexagram now on display.


04. TORN

It has something to do with the man in white, the ghost whose shadow haunts the mind and heart of the operative called Snake Eyes.

Storm Shadow: The reason Scarlett contents herself with being "friends." [4]

They'd tried, were trying, not for love but for something that worked. Except that in his sleep Snake Eyes sometimes speaks, a single word over and over again, the only time that Scarlett ever hears his voice.

Scarlett read the file. She knows who "Tommy" is. [5]

Knowing that, she should let things go. But she doesn't, because something of Snake Eyes' is better than nothing.


05. SHRED

He wants to tear his "brother" into pieces, tanned white flesh splitting at the seams to reveal whiter bone.

He wants to break every little piece of that man's cobbled-together life into fragments of existence, the frayed ends of rope.

He wants to watch the vaunted Snake Eyes, emotionless and level-headed as everyone thinks he is, collapse into a nerveless heap on the polished wooden floor.

Sometimes Storm Shadow thinks about what he's thinking and he can't remember actually wanting to think that. Then he's up for another dose [6], and he takes it because he doesn't want to think anymore.


06. KNIVES

The swords come out first, drawn from their sheathes as silk over stone; Snake Eyes drops his gun and goes for his blade, unwilling or disdainful of trying to meet the elegant swords with a brutish semi-auto.

Eventually, they lose the swords too. Then come claws and daggers, sometimes the occasional shuriken, but mostly the shorter blades, always beautiful in close-quarters fighting. Like shards of a broken mirror, the polished steel slides like light through reinforced Kevlar and thousands-of-dollars-per leather.

When a razor-edged slash finally breaks through Snake Eyes' skin, Storm Shadow smiles and tauntingly licks crimson from the silver-white.


07. MACE

In retrospect, they should have chosen a different venue if they'd wanted to avoid collateral damage.

Fortunately, neither of them gave a damn for their surroundings at a time like this, and they were content to destroy the museum's west wing while searching for the perfect armament.

Storm Shadow, making the best of a bad situation, was thrown through a display case and recovered in time to fling Meiji-era kunai towards the black shadow across the room. Meanwhile, white-gloved fingers closed around the metal-plated shaft of a medieval mace.

This thing could crush skulls if its wielder wasn't careful.

Perfect.


08. BLEED

It's not until Storm Shadow steps over the edge and begins his descent towards the abyss that Snake Eyes notices:

Storm Shadow doesn't seem to be upset about being stabbed, much less about dying.

There's a light in his eyes that wasn't there before.

His clothes are as white as death, and he's been cut half to ribbons, so why isn't there any blood staining that white uniform red? [7]

Snake Eyes lunges for his brother's hand, to save him or question him or half-hoping that Storm Shadow would pull him down too, but for once Snake Eyes isn't fast enough.


09. YELL

From somewhere far away, Tommy Arashikage watches the man in white fall, and has to remind himself for a moment that he's also Storm Shadow.

Not that anyone ever called him Tommy, of course. Everyone else of the clan could pronounce Tomisaburo. Only gaijin [8] would need an Anglicization.

A moment before he hits the water, Tomisaburo-slash-Tommy-slash-Storm Shadow sees a dark shape on the edge of his vision, leaning over the edge of the platform. Above the roar of the ocean and the crackle of power, Storm Shadow thinks that he hears someone scream his name.

They scream for Tommy, anyway. [9]


10. RIP

The icefield is quiet and thick with snow, and Snake Eyes isn't sure why he's there. He wonders if it had been the press of battle, keeping him distracted, or...

A metal spire is frozen into the ice, its movement creating a space to the water beneath; into this pool goes the yellow camellia, the violet hydrangea, the pink lotus, the white rose.

The sweet pea and the higanbana, pink and red, float at the surface, and freeze into shards of color in the colorless world.

Against reason, Snake Eyes hopes that his brother has found some kind of peace. [10]


Annotations (because I'm anal like that)

[1]. In Grail Mythology, the Fisher King suffered an eternal wound that leeches life from him and from his kingdom. Only the right question can heal that wound, which, of course, is a long time being asked.

[2]. This fanon holds that the Pit (G.I. Joe HQ) has a running bet on if Scarlett's interested in Snake Eyes and if they are or will get together. The other drabbles answer this question, playing off of Scarlett and Snake Eyes being (apparently) pretty close in the movie, as well as their relationships in other Joe lines.

[3]. Also known as shuko, ninja-claws are meant for scaling walls and the like, but are often pressed into service as weapons. Vega wields one in the Street Fighter series, Wolverine has natural ones (sort of), and Storm Shadow has a claw that comes with his action figure.

[4]. So yeah, Scarlett digs Snake Eyes. Who probably cares for her, but...

[5]. Tommy is Storm Shadow, btw. Scarlett, being a genius and all, would probably have found the files concerning Snake Eyes and the ninja in white, who's probably openly on file as the Cobra ninja.

[6]. Cobra has a tradition of brainwashing Storm Shadow into their service; the movie has nanomites that apparently also brainwash people. So, yeah.

[7]. Seriously, go watch that scene yourself.

[8]. Foreigner, specifically "someone not of Japan." As Snake Eyes is definitely not Japanese (canon/s hold him to be a blue-eyed blond)...

[9]. Storm Shadow's real name is given (in other media) as Thomas "Tommy" S. Arashikage, the surname being the name of his clan; "Storm Shadow" is a literal translation. New canon for raised-in-Japan Storm Shadow (as opposed to Japanese-American Storm Shadow) is that "Tommy" is short for Tomisaburo. Possibly named for late martial artist and samurai/period actor Tomisaburo Wakayama, which incidentally wasn't his real name.

[10]. In the Japanese 'language of flowers' (hanakotoba), the flowers and meanings are: Yellow camellia = "Longing," Hydrangea = "Pride," Sweet Pea = "Goodbye," White Rose = "Silence/Devotion," Pink Lotus = "Far from the one you love," and the higanbana (Red Spider Lily) means "Never to meet again," "A lost memory," and/or "Abandonment."