A/N: Sorry for the late update. My plot bunnies fell asleep.
Snake-Eyes was not easy to intimidate; Scarlett knew this for a fact. He had persevered his way through ninja training, survived Cobra's torture methods, and endured the roaring wrath of Beach Head without so much as a blink, though it was difficult to tell through the mask if he'd blinked. Hell, even she had tried her own infamous tactics during some of their worse arguments. And every single time, he'd made it very clear that he wasn't going to run away, and that was that.
The funny thing was, this same man was currently doing an impressive job of melting into the opposite corner of the room from... well...
Scarlett regarded the Asian woman carefully. She certainly acted like the white ninja. The edge in her casual posture, the almost-malicious glint in her eyes, and that all-knowing smirk all belonged to the Storm Shadow.
Snake-Eyes seemed more or less convinced. Scarlett still wasn't sure what the woman had told him, but it was safe to assume it was something Snake wanted to keep secret. Otherwise, Snake wouldn't be acting so... skittish. Or making so many evil-warding hand signs.
Storm rose, taking her shiny thermal blanket with her, and walked over to Snake-Eyes. The ninja promptly flattened himself against his seat. "What's the matter, brother?" she smiled. "Don't you want a sister?"
[I had a sister! I don't want another one!]
"You don't have much of a choice this time." Completely disregarding the fact that Snake was currently very uncomfortable around her, Storm sat down next to him. "That is... unless you don't want to be my sword brother anymore." Her eyes narrowed.
Snake-Eyes shook his head furiously. [No, I didn't mean that.]
Scarlett studied the river of long, black hair spreading down Storm's neck and onto her back. "Would you like a hair-tie?" she asked, then internally berated herself. Of all the things she could've said (What happened? How are we going to get you to turn back?), she asked her if she wanted a hair-tie.
Storm turned to face her. After several seconds of staring at her unblinkingly, she finally shrugged. "Heck, why not?"
Shifting her sleeve up a little, the redhead rolled a hair-band off of her wrist and offered it to the ninja. "What?" she asked when the Japanese woman took it and inspected it. "Thinking about how to kill someone with it?"
She was rewarded with a glare. "Well, excuse me. I don't exactly have experience tying my own hair up." Scowling, she pulled her hair back.
"Here - I'll do it." Scooting closer, Scarlett took the hair-band back. Storm immediately ducked and stared warily at her. "Good grief, Storm. Are you honestly scared of me tying up your hair?"
The ninja straightened up, expression indignant. "I'm more concerned about you being so close to the back of my neck."
Raising both hands, Scarlett wiggled her fingers. "See? Nothing. Now, stay still."
Snake-Eyes watched the deceivingly innocent-looking scene before him. To any other observer, a woman braiding another woman's hair was no big deal. Make one of those women his own sword brother, and it immediately looked... strange.
The black-clad ninja almost flinched when Storm looked at him. Those were, without a doubt, Tommy's eyes, but he dimly remembered seeing those eyes on something else. On a... photograph. More precisely, on a woman who had looked very much like Storm did now.
A thought hit him. Oh, man. What would Tommy's parents think if they saw him like this? Fearless Master would definitely be laughing, and Ayame... well, Snake didn't really know what her reaction might have been, but he guessed it was pretty safe to assume that she would be very surprised.
Speaking of surprises, they were going to have to explain a few things to Duke once they got back.
Snake sighed quietly as he ran a cloth along his sword. This... wasn't going to be easy.
The look on Storm's face reminded Scarlett of the murderous glare cats gave their owners when forced to wear cute outfits.
"You look nice," she offered.
Storm Shadow's eyes locked onto hers. "You're lying. There's nothing 'nice' about wearing a greenie's uniform," she grumbled. "I miss my own uniform."
"Would you rather stumble into the Pit wearing nothing but tattered clothes? You can change into casual wear once we explain everything to General Hawk." Scarlett grimaced and swallowed several times to make her ears adjust to the change in pressure.
Storm tugged on the outfit and strained a little against the harness. "This is a little uncomfortable. It feels... different, especially in the front." She looked over at Snake, who appeared disturbed by her comment. "Do you have any shuriken or daggers to spare?"
A little hurriedly, Snake produced the requested items and almost dropped them in passing them to Storm. She raised an eyebrow at him as she tucked the weapons away. "Wow. I know you've always been shy around girls, but this is a little over the top, don't you think? It's me, Snake."
[I know it's you. I just still can't believe it. How are you managing to deal with it?]
Her shoulders rose and fell. "I guess I haven't really thought too hard about it yet." She scanned the interior of the plane. "Oh, please tell me you have my swords."
A bit hesitantly, Snake-Eyes showed her the two white, sheathed katana. [I'll give them to you once we're on the ground.]
As if on cue, their transport touched down. "Well, what do you know - good timing." A click, and Storm was on her feet and in front of her sword brother. "My swords, please." She held out a hand, palm facing upwards. Snake slapped the weapons onto her hand and watched as she tucked one sword under an arm and unsheathed the other halfway to inspect the blade. "Thank you for retrieving these, by the way."
[I didn't - Shana did.]
"Then in that case, thank you, Scarlett." She nodded at the redhead.
"No problem." Scarlett grinned as she got off of the transport. "I knew you would throw a huge ninja tantrum if you didn't have your swords to cuddle with at night."
Storm followed. "I don't cuddle with my swords. Too uncomfortable and easy to see. Shuriken, on the other hand-"
Snake-Eyes looked in the direction of the voice. At the same time, the corners of Storm's lips twitched into a very slight smirk. Oh, no.
Without looking up from checking her weapons, Scarlett acknowledged the approaching man with nothing more than an, "Evening, Clutch." At the same time, Snake took ahold of Storm's arm and began gently tugging her in the direction of the Pit.
"How did it go? Did you get Storm back?" he asked.
"Nice. By the way, I was thinking that maybe you and Snake could come down to the rec room tonight and-" his words trailed off, and his eyes lit up as his attention wandered. "Red, you let a greenie come on this mission?"
"Huh?" Scarlett's head shot up and she followed his line of sight. "Uhh... yes. That greenie."
Snake-Eyes tensed up and contemplated breaking into a run to avoid having to explain Storm's current situation to Clutch. Almost immediately, he decided against it; it was probably not a good idea to have Storm run in her condition. At least not yet. She might be... unbalanced. He shook his head, trying to clear his confused mind.
Storm looked unsettlingly at ease, with shoulders relaxed and expression unfazed, as Clutch neared. Confused, Snake could only watch as she smiled innocently and waved at the driver.
As expected, Clutch flashed a cocky grin. "Hello. You're a cute one."
Uh, oh. Snake knew where this was going. He pulled slightly on Storm, only to find her resisting.
Storm's smile thinned ever-so-slightly, but not enough for Clutch to notice. "Really? You think so?"
"Definitely." He tilted her chin back and looked at her face. "You look... familiar. Have we met before?"
"I believe so." She brushed his hand away. Snake was mildly surprised when Clutch didn't cry out in pain.
"Are you sure? I don't think I would have forgotten such a pretty face," he purred. Storm giggled.
Okay, this was getting weird. Snake gave her wrist a not-too-gentle squeeze and marched towards the building. "Aw, c'mon, Snake," he heard behind him. "Do you have to have two girlfriends? You already have Scarlett!"
[You have no idea what you're doing,] Snake signed back at him, still walking.
"Of course I do!" Clutch snorted. "God, Snake. I'm not that inexperienced with women." He gave Storm a suggestive look.
Choosing not to acknowledge the driver's heated gaze for his own sake, Snake pointed at the swords at the woman's side. [How have you not noticed these?]
"Wha- Oh, huh... white swords." His expression fell. "Ah, hell. Don't tell me Storm has already claimed her."
Snake snuck a glance at his companion. There was no trace of annoyance on her face. Instead, she looked a little like the cat that ate the canary. That was not good. [You should probably stop talking right now.]
"Why?" When the masked ninja jerked his head in the direction of the innocuous-looking young woman, Clutch laughed. "Her? No... no. She wouldn't hurt me. Would you, sweetheart?"
That was it. He didn't know what made him do it - perhaps it was the stress of the mission, or maybe it was the fact that his brother was now a woman - but he suddenly grabbed Storm's right arm and rolled her sleeve up in a one, smooth motion, undeterred when she tried to pull away. The red clan tattoo was clearly visible. [This woman is Storm Shadow, so yes - she will hurt you if you don't shut up,] he signed before forcibly dragging her in the direction of the med-bay.
Speechless, Clutch stayed where he was, eyes bulging and mouth hanging open as he watched the pair disappear. Long after they were gone, he managed to squeak out one word. "... What?"