Author's note: This is technically a separate thing, but I decided to post it as a semi-unconnected epilogue to the previous story, because it follows the same idea of GI Joe logic + comparative theology and superstition = WTF.

Kind of inspired by "Ask a Ninja," but only in that it touches on a similar subject.

Rating: K

Warning! Contains future kids (invented by CrystalOfEllinon), fluff, and frustrated Kamakura. Author not responsible for diabetes induced while reading 'fic.

Disclaimer: G.I. Joe and all associated characters and concepts are property of Hasbro Inc, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.

Santanic Rituals

by Totenkinder Madchen

Ten years later and several thousand miles away . . .

It's always difficult to persuade children to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. Twins, even moreso: when you've got your eye on one, the other can make a break for it. Redheaded, devious, six-year-old twins, currently being raised in the ninja tradition by Clan Arashikage? Forget about it.

"I said, go to sleep," Kamakura said for what felt like the billionth time. Normally, when he wanted to subdue someone, a quick nerve pinch or a carefully-applied fist to the side of the head would do the trick, but he had no intention of being murdered by his sensei. Snake-Eyes had trusted Kamakura to watch the twins while he took Mistress Shana out to look for one of Timber's missing pups, and that included putting them to bed with minimal violence. Plus, Kamakura had the sneaking suspicion that Sean and Terri would be impossible for him to subdue: despite being trained by one of the deadliest ninjas in the world, he had yet to learn a defense against large, watery, puppy-dog eyes.

Sean, two minutes younger and only mildly less of a nightmare than his twin sister, burrowed down under his comforter and peered out at Kamakura. The boy was terminally messy and had created a nest of comic books, toys, discarded socks, blankets, and drawing paper, giving his babysitter the distinct impression of being stared at by a small, feral animal looking out of its den. "Kam, is Santa gonna be here?"

The ninja puffed out a breath under his mask. "Sean, you know Santa isn't real."

That was something both sensei and Mistress Shana had agreed on. Stories were nice, but after years of running secret missions that would be handwaved or flat-out denied by the governments of the world, they were determined to actually get the credit for their effort for once. [And frankly, I don't want my children growing up thinking that a stranger dropping down the chimney while they're asleep is nothing to be worried about,] Snake-Eyes had signed. Nevertheless, Sean and Terri had both picked up the story from television, and were now determined to stay up and meet the fat jolly man who would apparently be bringing Sean the ghillie suit he was dying to have.

"Says you," Terri butted in, reluctantly climbing into her own bed and pulling the covers up to her chin. "Uncle Tommy says some people think ninjas aren't real either."

Kamakura barely restrained the urge to eyeroll. Terri would notice and inevitably report him to sensei. "Ninjas are very different from Santa, Terri."

"Why?" Terri demanded.

"Because ninjas are highly-trained, skilled warriors, and Santa Claus is a story invented to make kids be good so they can have presents." A note of irritation crept into Kamakura's voice, making him wince ever so slightly: after his biological father had joined Cobra, becoming just another Fred Broca, the holidays had often involved protests against bourgeois materialism and "Cobra Claus" indoctrination videos. Wade Collins had changed all that, but still . . . Issues? Who, him?

Terri wasn't having any of it. "People say ninjas are stories too," she pointed out, sticking out her lower lip ever so slightly.

"Yeah," Sean chimed in. "Maybe Santa's a ninja."

" . . . Santa Claus is not a ninja."

"Why not?" Sean said. "Nobody ever sees him, right? And he's really fast."

"And he can do stuff normal people can't." The idea seemed to have caught Terri's interest too. "Da and Ma can get outta cuffs by doing that-" She wriggled her fingers, unable to find exactly the right words for 'dislocating the bones of the hand and wrist'-"thingy, and Uncle Tommy can do it with his shoulders too. Maybe that's how he gets down the chimneys."

Kamakura scoffed at that. "Please. No ninja would be that bad at stealth. He wears bright red!"

"Uncle Tommy wears white," Sean pointed out cheerfully, with the damning instinct for trouble that all six-year-olds possess. "And YOU wear green."

Dammit. Kamakura had walked right into that. "It's impossible," he said calmly, albeit with some effort. "Santa legends have been around for hundreds of years. He can't possibly be that old."

"Maybe he uses the Sleeping Phoenix Trance?" Sean said thoughtfully. "Da says everything's weird when you're in it. He only comes out on Christmas!"

That got a snort from Terri. "Don't be stupid," she said with the withering scorn of a big sister. "That's impossible."

"Thank you, Terri," Kamakura sighed. "Now would you please go to-"

"It's a legacy! There must be a Santa Clan or something," Terri continued, making Sean nod. "His son, and his son's son. Maybe there's a Santa Master."

Seeing that he wasn't going to win on that front, Kamakura tried a different tack. "What about getting around the world in one night? No ninja can do that."

For a moment, the twins looked crestfallen, and Kamakura felt simultaneously guilty at upsetting them and happy that maybe, just maybe, they'd go to sleep now. Alas, his hopes were dashed when Sean crossed his arms and glared at him. "If Santa has a clan, then he has apprentices. Like you're Da's apprentice, an' so is Jinx. An' apprentices have to do whatever he says, right?"

"Like deliver the presents," Terri contributed, looking satisfied. "And if it's a really, really big clan-"

"But, but, but," Kamakura managed, "The number of apprentices needed—it still couldn't get done fast enough-"

Another withering look, this time from both the twins. "The government," Terri said simply.

"The government?"

Sean rolled his eyes. "Da and Ma and Uncle Tommy go all around the world when the government asks them. Their planes can fly faster than sound and stuff."

"I can't believe I'm having this conversation," Kamakura murmured.

"Silly Kam," Terri said to Sean. "He probably thinks God isn't a ninja either."

"What?" Kamakura said.

"Well, duh," Sean said to the slightly confused apprentice. "Nobody ever sees him either, right? And he's super scary and he can kill you if he doesn't like you. And people are s'posed to be frightened of him, and do what he says or there's lots of blood everywhere."

" . . . go to sleep. Please."