I cannot explain to you how busy I have been. I apologize the update took so long. I have a laptop now so never again will you have to wait so long. I do this for the readers. The ones who bother to comment and inbox me… it is appreciated. Unfortunately, I don't have Microsoft Word or anything like that so please excuse the mistakes. I can't catch them all. Enjoy J and comment!

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January 9th 2010:

The coldness of the January air could not be disguised, not even from the mountain of blankets Scarlett had piled on top of her. It was a long night. Most of it spent tossing and turning because it was by far one of the coldest nights she spent in the new house.

Scarlett and Duke had spent nearly a year looking for a home. With the market the way it was it seemed almost impossible to get a place they could call their own. Whoever said it was, 'the time to buy,' was full of it. It was far from the time to buy, unless you were up for constant disappointment and even sparing your feelings. They had put in nearly a dozen offers, until finally getting the home they now lived in.

It wasn't anything extravagant. In fact they had settled, quite frankly. They were so desperate that they had put in offers on all houses that were near the base. Only to get a pretty, yet deceiving, colonial home that promised to be picture perfect. Instead… pretty much everything that could be wrong with a home, was wrong with theirs. It seemed that they had to fix almost everything. Which explained her restless night, and symptoms of a cold to come.

She opened up her eyes before the alarm went off. Only to find her husband was not in bed. Then again, he hardly ever seemed to be. She thought she worked a lot… nope. Not nearly enough as one Conrad Hauser. Then again she supposed that came with the title, 'First Sergeant.' She was worried about him. He spent way to much time working, and even when he was home, he was working. Not to mention that brother of his…

Before she could think any further her thoughts were interrupted:

"Tonight let's sleep in the living room by the fireplace. I am so tired of laying in bed. Notice how I said laying and not sleeping. That heater feels more like an air conditioner." Duke smiled at his wife and went to her side to give her a kiss. "Good morning Miss Hauser."
"Good morning Mr. Complaining Hauser." She teased.
"Complaining? Are you trying to hurt my feelings?" He played along, pretending to be offended.
"Maybe. Or just calling it like I see it."
"I think you are just trying to flirt with me."
"Flirt with you? Please don't flatter yourself!" She laughed as she said it. "Just kidding handsome. I love picking on you."
He smiled at that. Thinking how they will never seem to get out of the honey moon stage. Which he loved.
"Well get out of bed lazy. We have quite a day ahead of us."
"Who are you calling lazy? You know sleeping is normal. Try it some time."

He shook his head, laughing, as he exited the room. Duke was already dressed in his usual uniform. He was probably headed down stairs to get their morning coffee ready.

Scarlett went into the master bath, got washed up, and ready for the day. Which would consist of constant work. She looked into the vast mirror in front of her. Her lack of sleep was made more apparent because of her ivory skin tone, and her nose looked more pink than usual (which reminded her to pick up some medicine). She tied her crimson hair in a loose pony tail and put on light make-up, to keep her husband on his toes. She loved surprising him every now and again. In fact maybe she would stop at her friend Victoria's in the mall sometime this week… to heat things up in that freezing cold house of theirs.
As she headed down stairs she caught the aroma of breakfast. This was a surprise being that all she was expecting was coffee.

"Mmmmmm. To think I would have been happy with just coffee." She smiled at him and took a seat at their kitchen nook.
"I figured I would be nice to you… not just because you are beautiful, intelligent, and caring. But talented as well."
"Mhm. What is the catch?"
Scarlett knew Duke. He was a nice husband and all, but he sure did know how to whip out the words when he needed something.
"What catch? There is no catch." He played innocent.
"You have exactly five seconds to ask. One. Two. Three. Four…"
"Fine. Beach Head is needed by Hawk today. So he won't be able to do the usual training. I was asked to do it, because Flint can't. Look babe, I wouldn't be asking if I didn't literally have a Mount Everest type stack of work to do in the office. Please. I will make it up to you."
If you didn't look so handsome right now I would really be ticked off… She thought.
"I am not happy about this Mr. Hauser." She said in a stiff voice.
"I know and I am sorry."
"You owe me. I am talking a massage… a real one. With oils and candles and the whole nine yards!"
"Anything for you." He kissed her hand. "Thanks a million." He added.
"Don't use that tone with me…"
He laughed, "Oh Shana… nothing gets passed you. Eat up. We don't have much time."

One would normally think that spending 24/7 with a person would get irritating. However, it was the exact opposite for them. It was like they were the best of friends… only married. Sure they had their arguments, but so did everyone. In the end they would kiss and makeup, then get on with their lives. On their way to work they held hands and this always made Scarlett smile. It caused her to think while the radio played, and Duke would whistle, hum, or sometimes even sing along to the song. It made her think of her parents, how they never seemed to get along. In fact most married couples weren't as affectionate as they were, or got along as well. Maybe this was a faze… but as she sat in the passenger seat, she looked at her husband. His hair was as blonde as could be. In fact it took actual evidence and living with the man to prove to her he didn't dye it. Those eyes a whirl wind of sea blue. With the face that caused her to melt when she first met him.

As she looked at him she hoped that this wasn't just a stage. That the blissful happiness between the two could somehow last forever. She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back.
"I love you." He said as he parked in their designated spot.
"I love you too."

"Well if it isn't the Hauser's." Flint shouted from behind them.
"Good one Flint. Now tell me when will you and LJ be the Fairborne's?" Duke replied while waiting for Flint to catch up.
"Good morning sir. Scarlett. Ahhh way to early to be thinking about that. Not everyone gets married after 5 months like you two."
"Are you sure it's the time that's keeping you from asking, or rather the fact that she wouldn't want to take such a last name?" Scarlett couldn't help the tone of bitterness while saying it.

Duke couldn't hide his laugh. Scarlett and Flint weren't the best of friends and it was, no doubt, because Lady Jaye shared a bit too much information about their relationship. Flint smiled and pretended to be amused.

"I will see you for lunch," Scarlett continued," I have the amazing privilege of training today. Wish me luck."
"Break a leg, babe." Duke joked while kissing her good-bye for the moment.
"Possibly more then one."

Scarlett went into the locker room to change. A black tank top, camo pants, and black combat boots seemed to fit the occasion more. She hated training. No one who had been in Joe for some time would ever think to under estimate her. However, these were recruits. Newbie's. She could already hear their smug laughs and smiles. She would have to prove herself, again. Which wasn't hard but shouldn't be necessary.

As she entered the training room she could feel all the eyes on her. She walked in with all the confidence she had, as Stalker made his way to her side.

"Good morning Scarlett."
"Good morning Stalker." She replied quietly while reading the papers on the clipboard he handed over to her.
"We have a few promising soldiers here. I am actually kinda excited."
"There is only six. Why so little?"
"Well Beach-Head has been working with this crew for sometime. Everyone who is here is pretty much a keeper. Should be an easy day for you."
"How many did he start off with?"
"24."
"Oh wow."
"Ya. You know him though. He don't be playing games."
"Well he should try a little harder to work with them. Not just cut them off and feed them to the wolves."
"Only the best of the best for Joe."
"Yea. I guess so. Still we are much smaller then I'd like. Considering Cobra puts a uniform on anyone who is stupid enough to let them."
"I feel you. Those slimy bastards have no shame or morals… Do you want me to stick around?"
"No I can handle it."
"With out a doubt. Later, Red."
"Bye Stalker. Go get some real work done."

She looked at the men before her one at a time. One looked so masculine he surely couldn't cross his arms. Another typical recruit, who looked like a ranger. Another most likely for intelligence. Another looked tired and out of it. The next very tall with a Miami Heat headband on. Lastly one more to the side with blonde hair and his eyes at the ground.

"Alright men, I am Mrs. Shana Hauser. Codename: Scarlett. Beach Head is needed else where, so I will be your trainer for today."

She could hear whispers between the over masculine male and the ranger. Most likely because she used 'Hauser' that was always an ear opener for any young want-to-be Joe. The name itself has earned its respect. She looked down at her clipboard. The role call was normal, with the exception of the last name on the list. Instead of the actual name of the recruit, it was his codename. This was strange because codenames are only given to actual Joes, and they take time to earn. Not that the recruits weren't Joes, but it just was not normal. Scarlett was regarded as Shana for almost a year before she got her codename… as was everyone else.

"Roll call," She continued, "Kellen Clemens."
"Present." Muffled out the muscle head.
"Ray Miles."
"Present, ma'am." Replied the possible ranger.
"Erick Vega."
"Present, Mrs. Hauser." Replied the possible candidate for intelligence.
"Earl Weathers."
"Present." He responded tiredly.
"Jarade Morris."
"Present, ma'am." The Heat fan replied with enthusiasm.
"And… Snake-Eyes."
"Present." He answered just loud enough to be heard.

"Okay great. Well today we will be doing some hand to hand combat…"

There was a muffled laugh from the muscle head, Clemens. Which made Scarlett flash with anger. This is why she hated training, because all male recruits underestimated her. They didn't know how hard it was for a female to get into Joe… let alone become a Master Sergeant. It was disrespectful and hurtful. All her hard work and dedication was laughed at, simply because she was a female. What men didn't seem to realize was she had to work twice as hard for that same reason.

"Typical. How very very very typical. Clemens… What you fail to realize is I am a Master Sergeant. I have spent years working for that title, and have 110% earned it. So when you treat me like a joke, it pisses me off. You may think you are big and bad, because of those oversized muscles under your skin, but lethal is to the bone. Believe me. I would know. I could kick that laugh and smile right off of your face and you would never see it coming. I could embarrass you in front of all these men… oops looks like I already did. Pick up your jaw Clemens. I am full of surprises so try to get used to it."

Clemens was in shock. Complete and total shock. All the men gasped at that and a few laughed quite loudly after.

"Please! No offense Mrs. Hauser but Clemens is all that talk! He aint nothing more!" Shouted out Morris.
"Morris that head band needs to be taken off." Replied Scarlett placing her clip board down.
"Oh of course ma'am."
"I am the toughest one in this group!" Shouted out Clemens in defense.
"No you aren't. We all know who that is…" Trailed off Vega.

They all stood quiet at that. Which left Scarlett intrigued, so she questioned:
"Then who do you all think is?" She asked extremely curious.

No one answered. You could hear a pin drop in that room.

"Who is?" Asked Scarlett again a little irritated.
"Well if it aint me… then I guess they mean Snakes." Answered Clemens annoyed.

Scarlett looked at Snake-Eyes who was still starring at the ground ahead of him. He looked about 25-27. wasn't nearly as big as Clemens but built nevertheless. His honey blonde hair seemed too young, he had a chiseled jaw, full lips, and he was eerily quiet. He didn't even look up. She wondered what could he possibly be concentrating on so hard.

"Snake-Eyes… Prove it." She said with all her confidence.

She expected him to reject her challenge, but to her surprise he nodded and stepped forward.

"Follow me." She said as she turned around and led the men out of the room, and onto a grass area outside.

She tied her hair into a very tight pony tail and got into stance. Snake-Eyes got into stance after she did, and for the first time looked into her eyes. His eyes took her back for a moment. They were crystal blue. Truly beautiful, and something rare. For some reason she found herself embarrassed that hers were so plain blue. Which was a stupid thought that she dismissed as soon as it came.

"Count us off, Vega." Scarlett said, almost to break herself away from those eyes.
"Yes, ma'am. 3, 2, 1."

She right away got on the ground and kicked his legs, hoping it would be a quick fall to the ground. He jumped over her legs before she knew it, and was behind her in no time. His speed was extraordinary. She jumped up and did a back flip, as quick as possible, to distance herself from him. This guy was fast. She punched him as hard as possible in his arms, hoping to hurt him. He seemed unharmed… like it wasn't even a flinch. This frustrated her and it was written all over her face. While his face seemed emotionless. She attempted to kick him in the chest but he swatted her leg away from him.

The men oooooed at that. Which made Scarlett flash even more red. She quickly tried again to kick him in the chest and did so. He fell to the ground and she pinned both his arms. He gave her a half smile, that revealed a dimple, from underneath her and put his arms up in surrender.

The men clapped at that, and made side comments of surprise.

"You sure do have one hell of a kick!" Shouted out Morris in excitement.
"Shut me up." Cut in Miles.

Scarlett smiled at the comments and got up. Snake-Eyes, to her surprise, offered her a hand shake that she took. His smile was gone to her disappointment.

"Wow Snakes. Maybe I really am the toughest one." Clemens told Snake-Eyes as he walked passed him. He didn't reply and just made his way to the side of the group.

As Scarlett let the men talk amongst themselves she got a weird feeling. She looked at Snake-Eyes who was again off to the side and starring at the ground. That's when she felt as though she didn't just achieve victory… that instead he had let her win.