It had started out suspiciously enough. Little pieces of white paper were tied into knots and scattered, well, everywhere. Since "everywhere" was on a military base that the U.S. government denied existed and most other governments didn't imagine existing, Hawk felt the extra touch of paranoia was just about right. The papers were untied, examined, and found to be in some kind of elegant calligraphy.

"Japanese," Flint had commented. "The knots almost remind me of The Tale of Genji, where..." Hawk was sure that Flint would have found an excuse to flex his ill-used I-studied-literature-at-Oxford muscles had Lady Jaye not shoved her elbow into Flint's chest.

"Japanese," Jaye had agreed. "But the kanji used are pretty archaic. It'll take me a while to translate them. Storm Shadow's Japanese is much better than mine, sir, and Snake Eyes is right there with him. Getting a translation out of them would be faster."

And that was why the Pit's resident ninja were seated in Hawk's office, Storm Shadow looking disgusted, and Snake Eyes radiating his usual calm.

"It's poetry", Snake Eyes signed. His shoulders shifted a bit, like he was trying to hide... something. "And it's rather rude to open up things that weren't meant for our eyes." He glanced over to Storm Shadow. Hawk tried to imagine Snake Eyes having a shit-eating grin under his visor and mask. Hawk was unsuccessful, but he knew that the ninja had to be smiling. Storm Shadow responded by looking even more disgusted.

Hawk fought the urge to sigh or pinch the bridge of his nose before addressing Storm Shadow. This time, he was victorious. "These papers, all of them, were for you?"

"They weren't supposed to get here." Storm Shadow gestured at the slips of poems like they were about to attack him. "In theory, I had it arranged so that these would stay in Japan. Preferably as ash. Of course, I was dealing with a group of gossips whose only purpose in life is to annoy me." He huffed and muttered, "The next time I see them, I'm going to kill those bastards." Hawk was feeling the same way, even if he didn't know "them". Or, actually, much of whatever the hell was happening.

Another battle between frustration and decorum, with Hawk establishing a winning streak. "Pretend I don't know anything. Pretend that I am absolutely clueless, and please tell me what is going on, so that I have a reason to give to the Pentagon about why we're going to be moving."

"My brother is still single," Snake Eyes signed, probably still gleeful-now there was a frightening thought-under the mask. "And that makes him very-" he stopped when Storm pointed at the ceiling, then to a tile at Hawk's far right. The two ninja each simultaneously produced a throwing knife and whipped it at the tile. Or rather, through the tile. A whine, a thud, and the tile was removed. A slim figure in charcoal dropped to the floor and into a crouch. Hawk considered it an accomplishment, as the figure seemed to be bleeding from both thighs.

The figure adjusted his? her? arms and legs to perform a rather thorough bow. (Hawk thought he saw Storm Shadow roll his eyes.) "Arashikage-dono no-"

"English, please." Storm Shadow interrupted. "I want everyone here to understand your stupidity." He looked at Hawk. "And I told you that these tiles were too stupid to keep in."

The figure-a ninja, obviously-bowed even further and then continued. "I have a token from my mistress, if Arashikage-dono is pleased to accept it." He? She? got out a box wrapped with rather fancy-looking cloth and a red cord in some kind of insane knot and placed the package on the floor, towards where Storm Shadow was sitting.

"No, I'm not going to accept it, or anyone else's, and once you get back you're going to make sure that everyone gets that message." Storm Shadow smiled. "Including the clans that yours are feuding." He stood. "If you'll excuse me." He nodded to Hawk and Snake Eyes and walked towards the ninja and the wrapped box. He toed away the box like it was a dog turd, picked up the bowing and still bleeding ninja, and led him? her? out the office's door. Hawk considered the last action Storm Shadow's act of mercy towards maintaining everyone's sanity.

Snake Eyes picked up the box, brought it back to Hawk's desk, and unwrapped it. Inside was a box made of red lacquered wood, worked with some kind of fancy pattern in gold. Snake Eyes lifted the lid and dropped it on Hawk's desk. Inside the box, delicately arranged, were perfect little squares of chocolate. Hawk's shoulders sagged, just a bit. Ninja compromising the best that security technologies had to offer, and all to deliver some poems and chocolates. Well, his reports had been looking a little monotonous lately.

"-have been trying to get his attention for years." Snake Eyes signed. "He's the heir, so they've been looking to make a match." Hawk realized that he missed the first part by wondering how, exactly, he should be wording "Ninja delivering poems and chocolate" into something resembling sense. "They haven't stopped since." Snake Eyes got up, saluted, and left the office.

Hawk took another look at the box of chocolates. Having a few wouldn't mean that he was engaged to some ninja clan's heiress, would it? He took the chance and reached for a promising-looking piece.