Note: I don't own GI Joe. Also, I fully admit that this story is pointless fluff. However, I hope you all enjoy it. I'm not sure at this point if I'll add related chapters to this story.
Tante: Cajun French for "Aunt."
Maw-Maw: Cajun slang for "Grandma."
Mon ami: My friend
"Someone put ribbons on Freedom."
Gung Ho looked up from the cookbook to eye the Joe standing accusingly in the doorway. The eagle in question shifted position on his master's arm and drooped his head slightly in shame. Sparkly, pink ribbons dangled ominously from both of his legs. The Marine bit back a laugh, as his roommate was clearly not in the mood for it.
"Wasn't me who emasculated your bird, mon ami," the Marine grinned. Hell with it, he still thought it was funny. "De only ting Ah ever did was put dat bow tie on him for Mardi Gras."
Spirit's body relaxed slightly. He moved his arm over to Freedom's "chair," which consisted of an old wooden quilt rack that Dusty had found for him at a garage sale. The eagle hopped off and settled on his perch. The tracker began the task of removing the sparkly ribbons.
"Roadblock said he didn't do it either," Charlie Iron Knife sighed, naming one of the few other people that Freedom would willingly let touch him. He silently disposed of the offending ribbons before adding, "I apologize for accusing you."
Gung Ho shrugged and turned the page of his book. He was off duty and stretched out on his bed and he'd be damned if anything moved him from that spot.
"Ain't no trouble, homme," he replied. "It was probably a ninja." That was the unspoken rule of the Pit…If you eliminate the possible culprits and find yourself at a dead end, it was a ninja who was responsible.
"Got a letter from Maw-Maw Olla," Gung Ho added, referring to his maternal grandmother. "She wants you and Mutt to come visit again." He plucked the letter out of the pile of papers on his night stand and held it up. Spirit hesitated a moment and then took it. The tracker groaned quietly under his breath after he read it. Gung Ho snickered at him.
"She's still trying to marry me off to your cousin," Spirit complained. The man looked absolutely bewildered. "Why is she still trying?"
Gung Ho shrugged.
"I'm not marrying your cousin."
"Dat's what Ah told her," the Cajun answered. "But you saw how stubborn she is. Someting 'bout you bein' a nice Catholic boy who's respectful of de old ways…"
He was answered by a snort. Gung Ho grinned at him. Spirit never let on, usually preferring to wrap himself in a "Native American spiritual shaman guy" stereotype to see how many people he could fool, but the Marine had since learned that most of the inhabitants of Taos Pueblo practiced Roman Catholicism and the native Pueblo religion.
They were a bit like Cajuns, in that way. Catholicism and folk religion existed side by side and only outsiders batted an eye.
Spirit, however, refused to accept the title "nice Catholic boy." He preferred instead to maintain the image of "aloof and mystical shaman." However, the rosary that was hidden in his medicine bag proved otherwise. Not that Gung Ho had peeked, of course. Not at all.
"She wrote to yer momma, you know," the Marine added mildly. Spirit froze slightly and Etienne went on innocently. "Someting 'bout you bein' a gentleman and your momma had done raised you right."
"What?" The tracker blinked a moment and his usual stoic mask suddenly slipped away. Spirit's mouth hung open slightly in horror. "Maw Maw Olla wrote to my mother?"
"Dat's what she told me," the Cajun answered defensively. "Maw Maw wanted me to give her yer momma's address….my momma told me Ah should've asked," Gung Ho added quickly, "But Maw Maw thought you might not give it, so she done said 'Now Etienne, you get Mrs. Ironknife's address by any means necessary,' so dat's what Ah did." It hadn't been hard either. Spirit's mother sent him a couple of letters every month, so it had been simple to look at the return address.
Charlie Ironknife rubbed his temples, as if trying to soothe away in impending migraine.
"Etienne….." the man emphasized his roommate's name, as if trying to suggest "What the fuck did you do that for?"
"Ah ain't had no choice!" Gung Ho protested. "Maw Maw woulda skinned me if Ah hadn't. You know her word is law in my family."
A heavy sigh answered him. Freedom ignored the humans and contented himself with pecking at a vitamin ball, which Spirit had attached to one of his perches.
"Was probably Jinx," the Marine suddenly said, turning his friend's attention back to the ghastly pink ribbons that someone had dared to put on Freedom. "Ah doubt Snake Eyes did it…Storm Shadow might have though."
Little lines formed between Spirit's eyebrows as he frowned briefly. He shifted his head to peer at his pet.
"Who was it Freedom?"
The eagle tilted his head and made a low "kuk-kuk" sound.
"Ten dollars says it was Jinx," Gung Ho told him. He flung the cookbook at the foot of his bed and stretched his muscles. His body ached after a week of chasing mercenaries through the jungle, especially since Red Ninjas had appeared to aid said mercenaries. After a week of sleeping on the ground, when they actually got any sleep, he was enjoying his bed.
Gung Ho was as tough as they got, but dammit, bed. Pillows. Blanket.
He kicked off a sock and yawned.
"Fifteen says it was Storm Shadow," Spirit replied.
Gung Ho pulled the blanket over his head and muttered something in French. His roommate quietly left a few minutes later. The Marine peeked out of the nice, warm blanket to see that Freedom had been left behind. The eagle stared expectedly at him.
"You're spoiled rotten," Gung Ho told him. "Can't imagine why." The Marine leaned out of his bed and stretched to pull a laundry basket close to him. He fished around for a plastic container and pulled out the "Treats which do not exist and Spirit shall not know about."
A set of wings fluttered as an eagle hastily moved over to the bed, not able to use his wings well in the tiny space. Gung Ho held out his arm and the eagle hopped on. The Marine deposited him on the back of a nearby chair.
"You're greedy," he told the bird. Freedom cocked his head and stared down at the treats, which were in fact canine bacon strips. The eagle had made the discovery one day that Junkyard's treats were in fact quite tasty. The fact that they were now forbidden to him made them even more delightful.
Gung Ho offered a bacon strip, which was quickly snatched out of his fingers.
"Who's a good eagle?" the Marine crooned. He scratched Freedom's chest and offered another treat. It was immediately gulped down.
The Marine's hand paused in the container of "treats which do not exist" when a loud knock echoed on the door. A joyful bark relaxed the sudden tension in his hand. Mutt wouldn't squeal on him.
"Anyone else wit' you?" he called out.
"Just us!" the dog handler responded. He opened the door and raised a knowing eyebrow at the Marine. Junkyard immediately bounded towards the bed and put two paws up the Marine's chest. The dog inched his head towards the plastic container. Freedom shifted moodily and glared down at the sudden threat against "his" snacks.
"You know Charlie doesn't like it when you do that," Mutt told him. "Something about it being 'dog food and not eagle food.'" Gung Ho shrugged and tossed a couple of treats at an expectant Junkyard.
"A few treats ain't gonna hurt him." However, the Marine hastily hid the treats back in the laundry basket, lest his roommate suddenly return. Junkyard stuck his nose in the basket and was promptly shooed away by the Marine.
The dog turned his attention to sniffing around the room before suddenly disappearing underneath Spirit's bed. A pair of black hind legs jutted out from underneath of the perfectly made bed, while a tail wagged vigorously.
"Junk!" Mutt rebuked.
"Spirit ain't got nothin' under there for him to get into," Gung Ho told him. "He learned his lesson after Timber shredded his bag of wild ginger."
Junkyard backed carefully out from underneath the bed, with a rawhide in his mouth. The dog jumped up onto Spirit's bed and began to chew on the treat that he had so carefully hidden before. Mutt shook his head.
"He's got those things hidden all over the base. I'm surprised Timber and Order haven't stolen them yet."
"They probably have," Gung Ho pointed out. "That's probably why he hid one in here….Here," he tossed the letter from his grandmother at his teammate. "Maw Maw sent a letter. She sends her regards."
"She still trying to get Spirit married into the family?"
He supposed it shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, his Maw Maw, Olla Mae Gravois, had been a traiteur back in the day…a Cajun folk healer. Traiteur were well regarded in Cajun communities, using a mix of faith healing and medicinal herbal remedies to cure the sick. Maw-Maw had seen to it that all her children and grandchildren knew a smattering of herbal medicine. His Tante Ameline and two of his cousins were fully trained traiteur.
When Maw-Maw had found out that Spirit was also the Pueblo version of a traiteur…well….Maw Maw had decided that Charlie Iron-knife was good enough to be married into the family.
The door suddenly opened to reveal an irked Spirit, back from whatever tracking mission he had conducted. The tracker dug into his pocket and produced fifteen dollars. He tossed them at the Marine.
"It was Jinx," Gung Ho grinned. He took the fifteen dollars and immediately pocketed it. Spirit's left eye twitched slightly while his bottom lip lowered into a faint sullen pout.
"She bribed him with meat from the kitchen," Spirit explained. He glared at the eagle, who merely fluffed out his feathers and ignored the rebuking stare.
"Freedom is kind of greedy," Mutt pointed out genially. Charlie sat down on his bed and scratched at one of Junkyard's ears. The dog rolled over onto his back and exposed his stomach.
"And Junkyard's a thief," Spirit replied back dryly. "I can't help but notice that he took over my bed again."
"Junk's not a thief," Mutt corrected indignantly. "He's an opportunist."
The three men chatted quietly for a few minutes, while Gung Ho silently thanked the Virgin Mary and General Hawk, Lord of the Pit, that he had hidden away the "treats which do not exist" before his roommate had returned.
"So…what did Jinx do?" Mutt finally asked. Spirit pointed accusingly at the trashcan.
"She put those on Freedom."
Mutt sauntered over and peered into the garbage. He bent back up and let out a loud guffaw.
"It's not funny!"
"Actually, it is, mon ami," Gung Ho grinned. His friend crossed his arms and gave a near silent huff. Mutt shook his head and fished out the sparkly, pink ribbons. He tossed them at Junkyard, who immediately abandoned the rawhide. In mere minutes, the ribbons met their demise. Shredded bits of sparkly pink floated about the shared dormitory room.
"You're going to get Jinx back, right?" Mutt asked. Spirit had never been one to let a prank go unpunished. He'd find some sneaky, back handed way to get the ninja back.
"And Scarlett," Spirit muttered. "She bet Jinx that she couldn't do it."
"Switch her coffee with decaf tomorrow," Gung Ho suggested, pulling the blanket over his head again. His mouth cracked open in a wide yawn. "Dat way she has to suffer and Jinx has to suffer because Scarlett didn't get her caffeine. Woman ain't right in de head when she hasn't had coffee."
Spirit sat up straight while Mutt immediately responded with a "Hell no!"
"That plan has merit," the tracker mused thoughtfully.
"No it doesn't!" Mutt protested. "Do you really want to have a homicidal Scarlett in hand to hand training tomorrow?"
"Snake Eyes and the other ninja will get the brunt of it first," Spirit pointed out. Gung Ho couldn't see from underneath the blanket, but he was fairly certain that his teammate was rubbing his chin in thought. Spirit always rubbed his chin in thought when he was plotting.
"Make it look like one of de ninja did it, and dey definitely will," Gung Ho yawned sleepily. "Replacing her coffee with decaf sounds like someting Storm Shadow might do."
"And making it look like possibly Storm Shadow's fault will cause him to pay you back," Mutt replied, looking at Spirit. He was trying hard to be the voice of reason, which was usually Spirit's job. "Don't listen to Gung Ho. He'll get you in trouble again."
"I won't make it look like one of the ninja did it," Spirit replied back calmly. "I know that would backfire." As Gung Ho dozed off, he was fairly sure that there was probably a glimmer in the man's eyes when he added, "Scarlett can draw her own conclusions."
The Marine yawned again and shut his eyes. Everything around him began to fade into blissful nothingness.
"Aww…..dammit," Mutt groaned. "Now I've got thirteen hours to figure out how to get out of hand to hand training tomorrow."
He was answered by muffled snores.
A couple of notes:
Religion is always a sticky issue, but most Taos Pueblan people do practice a mix of Catholicism and native Pueblo religion. I thought that even if Spirit isn't a practicing Catholic now, and he may not be, he was at least raised in that environment. Since Cajun religious beliefs seem to also be a mix of Catholicism and folk religion, I thought that was an interesting parallel between Gung Ho and Spirit. The Cajun folk healers were also an interesting parallel to Spirit's mix of shamanic and herbal healing.
Gung Ho's grandmother, Olla Mae, and the aunt that was mentioned are my own creations.
Also…I think I may need to actually write the "Mutt and Spirit visit Gung Ho's family on leave" story.