So, this is just something that I couldn't get out of my head. The Special Missions issue (#3, I think it was) 'Words of Honor' has stuck with me since the first time I read it. Not only was it about one of my favourites characters, Clutch, but after reading the other comics I think the subject of it kinda surprised me.
Anyway, I had to write this. It wasn't going away. It didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped - I think I'll stick to making stuff up rather than borrowing from the comics. Still, practice is good, right?
By the way, I don't own G.I Joe. I just love it a little too much :D
"Hey, food's on man. You comin'?"
Thump. Thump thump. Thump.
"Huh?" Clutch steadied the punching bag and turned to see Rock 'n' Roll standing in the doorway, a frown on his hairy face.
"I said food's on," Rock 'n' Roll repeated. "You hungry?"
"Nah. I'll grab somethin' from the Snack Bar later. You go, I might be a while."
To Clutch's relief the big blonde surfer dude didn't press, just turned and walked out of the training room.
Clutch ran a hand through his sweaty dark hair and fixed his blue eyes back on the punching bag - but he didn't really feel like training anymore.
He needed a shower. He felt dirty - filthy. Just standing in the same room as that…monster…had freaked him the hell out.
He hadn't wanted to go on that mission. But Hawk was Hawk: you didn't question the guy. You got orders, you followed 'em. Even if you didn't like 'em.
And Clutch thought those orders had sucked. Hell, all the Joes on that op thought the orders sucked. Making a deal with a Nazi? That was screwed up.
Unfortunately, millions of lives had depended on what that old bastard - Otto Totenschadel - knew. A frozen German Condor bomber plane had been found on a glacier, still with a bomb of nerve toxin on board. Totenschadel claimed to be the only one who knew only way to disarm the bomb - and he'd tell the Joes, providing they offered him protection.
Yeah. Screwed up.
Clutch sat on the weight bench, wiping the sweat from his face with his towel. Damn, that guy had given him the creeps. He knew he'd probably been imagining it, but when he'd been crouching in the jungle with Dial Tone, Roadblock and Recondo, keeping tabs on the house Totenschadel had been shacked up in with two of his Nazi friends…Clutch's guts had felt like ice. He could've sworn he could feel evil rolling off that guy in waves.
He'd seen action before, a lot of it. But that was nothing compared to seeing that old man in the rocking chair on the porch.
Clutch didn't scare easy. He was a Joe. But Nazis…they scared the shit out of him. Ever since Grandma…
Clutch leaned back and grabbed bar, bench pressing far less than he knew he could handle. He wasn't training for fitness. He was training for something to do. Sure, he'd probably cop some shit tomorrow; he wasn't known for being to most motivated of Joes - but what the hell.
Grandma…man, he hadn't thought of that for a while. Tried not to.
When he was little, and Grandma had lived with them, Mom had always told him not to ask Grandma what the little blue numbers on her arm were. She said they made Grandma very sad. Clutch didn't want to make Grandma sad, so he never asked. He hardly ever saw them, anyway; Grandma always wore long-sleeved blouses that covered her arms up. Sometimes he saw the numbers when she was washing the dishes, and had her sleeves rolled up - but he didn't ask. He remembered asking Mom once why Grandma wrote them on her arm all the time. Mom had given him this funny look and said that somebody else had written them and that the ink couldn't be washed off. Then she'd sent him outside to play.
One day, Clutch was in his room watching TV. It was one of his favourite shows - an army show. He liked it because it was funny. Grandma had come in and started to ask him if he wanted a snack…then her eyes had flicked to the TV screen. The funny guys were on - the guys with the red bands on their arms, with the weird-looking X in a white circle.
Grandma started to scream. Horrible, shrieking screams that had given Clutch nightmares for weeks. He'd almost pissed himself.
Mom had burst into the room. It took her a few seconds to realise what had happened, then she saw what was on TV. She turned the set off and held Grandma, who'd just crumpled to the floor, still screaming, rocking back and forth. Clutch just sat on his bed, tears streaming down his cheeks, hugging his favourite toy car tightly to his skinny chest until Dad had come in and taken him outside.
That night, Clutch learned what the little blue numbers meant. It was another few years before Clutch completely understood the sheer horror of it.
But he understood now. He'd stood in a room, feet away from one of the monsters who'd taken part in that. Clutch wasn't the only one disgusted by the old fart, he knew that. But he wondered if any of the other guys knew how he really felt. He'd almost been tempted to let the Israeli Mossad team who'd snuck up on the Joes in the jungle go in ahead of them so they could kill the old bastard.
But Clutch had his orders, and he'd follow them. Totenschadel had killed enough people already - hell, he was still trying to play God, bargaining with people's lives while trying to save his own miserable hide.
Recondo had snuck away from the Israelis and initiated contact with the Nazi. The Mossad team - led by a man called Ibraham - decided to storm the house. Clutch managed to convince Ibraham to let the Joes help. He still didn't know quite how he'd talked his way into that…perhaps it was because Ibraham overheard him talking when he told Roadblock, Recondo and Dial Tone about his grandmother. In any case, Ibraham allowed them to join the charge.
Recondo had smoothed things over by the time they burst into the room…and then Clutch got an interesting phone call from Alpine, who was at the icebound plane with Airtight, Breaker and Snow Job. Airtight had neutralised the bomb, and Alpine had made a discovery in the plane's log book. Turned out Totenschadel hadn't been living the life of poverty he'd told his Nazi friends he had - long story short, he'd turned on his own kind and been living the high life with gold that had been intended to fund a new Reich.
The old man started whining about how unfair it was. Just being in the same room as him made Clutch sick to his stomach.
It was Recondo who said it first. They'd made the deal to protect Totenschadel from the Israelis. Clutch had been relieved…he didn't know if he could've done it, if Recondo hadn't said it. He didn't know what he would've done.
The Israeli team left without a fight, also spotting the loophole.
Totenschadel didn't get it. Clutch couldn't help himself. His last cold words to the bastard pointed out his mistake: Totenschadel hadn't taken into account what his Nazi friends would do if they found out what he'd done, all those years ago.
They all heard the shots as they walked away. Clutch felt the Joes' eyes on him. He didn't care. It was one less monster in the world.
He looked up. Rock 'n' Roll was back, a plate of food in each hand and two cans of Yo Jo Cola tucked under his arm.
Clutch felt a wave of gratitude for his best buddy. Rock 'n' Roll might be big and hairy, but he wasn't stupid. And he knew Clutch well.