Billy was completely, utterly, fascinated with his new toy.

A ninja! Billy had never seen one before, much less watched one fight. He had been expecting an action figure when he asked for a ninja, but this was much better!

Storm Shadow was everything - well, almost everything - Billy imagined in a ninja. His footsteps were seen but not heard, and instead of like the dark shadow Billy had been expecting, he moved like a white ghost, silent and intimidating. Which was better, he realized, now that Billy had seen him fight.

It took Storm Shadow a while to move everything to his new quarters, and the entire time, he was followed by a slightly annoying, slightly loud kid. After about the fifth trip, Billy's footsteps grew noticeably quieter. Ah. He had noticed the ninja's soundless steps and was making a considerable effort to silence his own feet.

"Stormy?" he asked for what seemed like the hundredth time.

"Oh, god. What do you want, kid?" Storm shoved a box of... something under his bed.

Billy turned his nose up and frowned. "My name is Billy, not Kid!"

"Yeah, whatever. I thought your name was William?" Storm carefully began arranging his knife collection.

"William is too long. I like Billy!"

"Billy, huh." The white ninja climbed onto the provided desk and tested each ceiling panel with a hand. "Who gave you that name?"

"Me!" Billy scrambled onto the desk as well and looked up.

"Uh huh." Storm rapped his knuckles lightly on a specific ceiling panel and pushed gently on it. It felt and sounded loose. Good.

"Stormy, what are these?" He felt a slight tug and looked down. Billy was holding the ends of his coat-tails and examining them intently.

"Part of my uniform." Storm Shadow pried his coat free from the child's grip. "Don't touch, please." And he returned to his work.

Not five seconds later, he felt a small hand on the back of his thigh. "What are they for?"

"The coattails or my legs?"

"Both."

"Both?" Storm turned around to stare incredulously at the kid. "Was that sarcasm?"

Two brown eyes stared back at him. "No," he replied honestly. "What's 'sockism'?"

The ninja blinked. "... My coattails are just decoration, and... uhh... my legs are to help me get around, William. I think you should know that."

"I'm asking what are ninja legs for, and my name is BILLY!"

"Fine. Billy. Whatever. And what do you mean by ninja legs?"

"Like yours!"

Storm rolled his eyes. "Fine. Ninja legs are for doing anything and everything, from running to powering a kick. Please be happy with that as my answer."

"Everything? Can you eat with them?"

The white ninja threw his hands up in frustration. "Why, ABSOLUTELY, Billy! Ninjas use their legs to pick up food ALL the time!"

Billy tilted his head. "Really?" he breathed. "That's cool! Can you show me?"

Storm banged his head on the wall repeatedly, making a dull thunk every time. "No, Billy. I can't show you."

"Why?"

"I don't want to."

Billy whacked his leg.

Storm immediately caught his hand. "No hitting," he said sternly.

Billy wriggled out of his hold. "You're my ninja! I can do whatever I want to you!" He placed his hands on his hips and stomped his foot. "And I ORDER YOU TO PICK FOOD UP WITH YOUR FEET!"

One of Storm's eyes twitched. "I'm your bodyguard - not your ninja, and if you keep up this attitude, I just might look the other way during an assassination attempt."

Billy crossed his arms and tapped his foot. "I'm going to tell Father you said that."

Despite his irritation, Storm couldn't help but feel a twinge of fear. If Cobra Commander caught word that he had indirectly threatened his son, his own life could be in danger.

Billy looked up at him with the most ridiculously smug smile Storm had ever seen. Of course, Storm thought. Being the Commander's son has its perks, including the ability to threaten others with his father's wrath.

He recalled his observations from half an hour ago when he had been moving his things. Every single Viper he and Billy passed had an elevated heart-rate. Storm had assumed that it was because they caught sight of his collection of knives. After all, word had probably spread by then about the events of that morning and the squad Storm had battled.

He'd been wrong. They were scared of the little tyrant-to-be that followed him everywhere. He was dealing with a mini-Cobra Commander.

Storm frowned as a disturbing thought suddenly entered his mind. "Billy?"

The change in Storm's tone wiped the smirk off of Billy's face. "Yes?"

"How long have you been on base?" Storm squatted so he was closer to Billy's height. The desk creaked in protest.

Billy appeared to be thinking hard. "I don't know."

That wasn't good. "Do you remember any place other than this?"

The child shook his head. "I just remember here. Father says that this is my home."

"So you've been here for a long as you can remember."

Billy nodded.

Storm narrowed his eyes and leaned closer to the boy. He held back a smile when he saw fear flicker across Billy's eyes. "Then - tell me," his voice was cold, "how come I've never seen you around? I've been with Cobra for two years, yet I haven't met you until today. I haven't heard your heartbeat so much as once the entire time I've been here."

Billy actually started fidgeting. "I... I dunno, Stormy."

"So you're saying you just materialized out of thin air and appeared on base without anybody but the Commander knowing."

Billy straightened up and looked bravely into the ninja's eyes. "Yes," he said with as much conviction as a five year-old could manage.

Storm sighed. "Nobody can do that, Billy."

"Yeah huh! Then how come ninjas can appear from anywhere?"

"That is beside the point, Billy."

"If ninjas can do it, so can I! I just poofed onto base!"

Storm's eyebrows rose. "Really. So you're saying anything I can do, you can do?"

Billy nodded enthusiastically. "If you help me, I can do anything!" The boy paused, then grinned widely. "Maybe... you should teach me!"

The white ninja chewed on his bottom lip thoughtfully. Train the Commander's son and perhaps show him a new way of looking at life. It sounded really, really tempting. Already, the teacher part of him was planning lesson one, then lesson two...

Storm firmly ordered that part of him to shut up. He was supposed to guard Billy - not teach him. "Fine." He nodded. "If you can follow me to your room, then I'll teach you."

Billy nodded enthusiastically... until Storm lifted a ceiling panel up and to the side, then climbed up and disappeared. "Well?" His voice echoed slightly. "Are you coming?"

Shaking slightly, Billy stood under the hole, staring up into the darkness. How was he even supposed to get up there?

"Stormy," he whispered. No answer. "Stormy!" he screamed, feeling tears well up in his eyes. He didn't like being left alone.

"I'm right here, kid. Gosh, don't scream. It hurts my ears." Storm Shadow's head appeared over the edge of the hole.

"Stormy..." Billy sniffled, holding his hands up.

With a long sigh, Storm reached down and grabbed ahold of the boy's arm. "You're more trouble than you're worth, you know?" And with that said, he yanked him into the ceiling.


Special Thanks to Greentigerr for her usual help.