"Kid. Stop."

"Don't wanna."

"I mean it."

"No."

"Do you want a broken finger?"

"... No..."

"Then stop touching me!" Scowling, Storm scooted away from Billy, who just followed him.

"Stormy!"

A quiet growl. "What now?"

"Pick me up!"

"Hell, no."

"Up!"

"No."

"UP!" Billy bounced on his toes and reached for the ninja. "UUUUP!" he whined.

"No!" Storm stepped away, only to be followed again. "As soon as I pick you up, you're going to attack my face, like you've been doing for the past three hours."

An eager chirp. "FACE!" The boy stared up happily at him. Storm Shadow had the strangest face Billy had ever seen in his short time alive. His eyes were angled funny, his nose looked unusual, and his mouth was always in a thin, displeased line. Oh, and his hair was fun to play with. And pull. And yank. And tug.

Storm rested his forehead against the wall and counted to ten in quiet Japanese. His efforts to calm down turned out to be in vain when Billy grabbed ahold of his weapons belt and pulled down on it. "Stormyyy..."

"Stop it, alright?" He not-too-gently pried the small fingers off of his belt. "Just stop. I am in no mood to deal with you, so cut the crap and go do something else."

Billy looked around his room. He could color, yes, and he could play with his toys, but the white ninja was currently the most interesting thing in the room. "No." He picked up the tips of both coattails and attempted to wrap Storm's legs in them. When the result of his efforts were less than satisfactory, he proceeded to wrap himself in the white fabric. "I'm a burrito!"

Storm Shadow tried not to flinch. Billy's height resulted in the child's head being uncomfortably pressed against him. "You want to be a real burrito, kid?" he asked as he freed his uniform. At Billy's eager nod, Storm pinched the bridge of his nose to resist groaning. "Fine."

Eagerly, Billy watched his bodyguard take the covers off of his bed and spread it neatly on the ground before saying, "Lie down." Squealing, he tumbled into the blanket, wriggling around for a moment before Storm picked him up and set him on the edge.

With little effort, Storm began rolling Billy, wrapping him with the blanket and ignoring his giggles of delight. When he was finished, he picked up the roll and laid it on the bed. "There. Now you're a burrito."

Billy looked down at himself and wiggled his feet. "Warm..."

"You're wrapped in a blanket. Of course you're warm." Sighing, he sat down on the floor and closed his eyes in meditation, glad that the boy was temporarily incapacitated. Technically, Billy looked more like a sushi roll than a burrito, but Storm didn't feel like clarifying.

Ten minutes of complete silence had passed before the ninja noticed the quiet breathing from the form on the bed. He rose to his feet and walked over to the bed, leaning over slightly to have a better look. Sure enough, Billy was asleep, mouth slightly open. Storm sighed. He supposed it was time for the child's afternoon nap anyways. He'd wake him up in half an hour.


The rest of the day had passed relatively peacefully, with the boy occupied throughout the evening with his studies. Storm had watched, disinterested, as the Commander's son struggled through simple addition. Just when he was beginning to wonder how in the world the kid could more-or-less behave for so long, the tutor had pulled out a candy bar and cooed praises as Billy dove into the treat.

Storm sighed as he shook off his shirt. At least Billy didn't need much convincing to go running with him. The little tyke seemed to enjoy doing anything and everything involving the ninja, even physical exercise. Not that Storm felt like complaining too much. Running everyday was beneficial for a kid like Billy, and it was a good habit to have. Now if only he could wean him off of those sweets...

He snorted to himself. Good luck with that. The son of Cobra Commander had and could have anything he wanted. The only way he would ever give up junk food was if he was an Arashikage ninja apprentice.

Now that was a thought, a grown-up Billy with the ji-ji tattooed onto his forearm. A funny thought, really, considering how far it was from any reasonable possibility.

Shaking his head, Storm crawled into bed and immediately fell asleep.

A few hours later, he woke up to the faint sound of someone entering a code at his door. He was on his feet in less than a second, his left hand holding no less than four shuriken and his right hand clutching his sword.

The door opened with a weak hiss and Storm recognized Billy's heartbeat. Alertness quickly turned into relief, then into irritation. "What are you doing here?" he demanded. "It's midnight. You should be asleep."

There was a soft pitter-patter as Billy ran over to the man and hugged his leg as tightly as he could. "Stormy."

"Hell, kid. If you woke me up just so you can have a cuddlefest, then for the love of god I am going to-"

"There is a ninja in my room," Billy whispered, his eyes wide.

Storm blinked. Some ninja, if he managed to sneak in here just to be detected by a kid. Still, it was better to be careful. "Stay here. I'll go take a look." He pulled the child off of him.

Billy immediately reattached himself to his leg. "I came to protect you!"

"You protecting me?" If he had been more awake and in a better mood, Storm would have laughed. "Kid, I'm the bodyguard here."

"Buh..."

"But what?"

No answer other than Billy burying his face into his hip.

Storm sighed. "Stay here," he repeated as he slipped into the ventilation shafts and carefully made his way to Billy's room, listening carefully.

Complete silence. Not a heartbeat, not a breath. Just the quiet humming of Billy's night-light - the eyes of a Cobra insignia. How in the world a pair of glowing red eyes could be considered soothing to a sleeping child, he did not know.

With no sign of a ninja being there recently, he returned to his own room. "Billy, there are no ninja in your room."

A covered bundle on the bed moved and the blanket lifted. "There is! I saw him." Billy's eyes were wide.

"... Get OUT of my bed."

"But it's warm!"

"NOW."

"Can I please sleep with you?" Billy stared pleadingly up at him.

Storm shook his head firmly. "No. That is never going to happen. You go back to your room. There are no ninja; I would have heard them."

"Buh... buh..." Squirming, he wriggled himself deeper into the cot. "I don't wanna."

"You never want to do anything but eat and annoy the hell out of the person closest to you," Storm snapped. "There are no ninja in your room. How many times do I have to repeat that? And I'm NOT going to let you sleep in this room. Go back to bed!"

"NO!" Billy declared stubbornly. "I. DON'T. WANNA!"

Storm's fingers twitched with the urge to wrap themselves around the brat's neck. He forced himself to take a calming breath. "What's your problem? Are you scared? Worried about ninja? What's going on here?"

"I'm not scared!" Despite his brave words, Storm heard his heart-rate increase. "I just don't want ninjas looking at me!"

"I'm looking at you right now, genius."

"You're friendly, so you're okay." Billy pulled the covers back over his head.

Tiredly, the ninja ran his fingers through his hair. "How about this: I'll stay in your room until you fall asleep and make sure no ninja come?"

Fumbling, and then the child's face reappeared. "Okay," he said meekly.

Exhaling in relief, Storm stood up. "Alright, let's go."

"No."

"Oh, god. What now?"

"Carry me!"

The ninja scowled and scooped him up. "You're as lazy as your father." No more than ten steps later, he dropped him onto his bed. "Sleep. I'm not going to talk to you for the rest of the night, so don't attempt to hold a conversation with me."

He melted into the shadows in a corner. Billy started a little, stunned that the ninja disappeared right in front of him. "Stormy?"

"..."

"Are you there?"

A hand waved at him from the corner. The ninja's outline became more visible as Billy's eyes adjusted to the darkness. Sleepy and sensing that his bodyguard really wasn't going to talk, Billy fell asleep quickly, beneath a haphazard pile of blanket.

Silently, Storm got to his feet and prepared to leave the room when something caught his eye. A children's book that hadn't been there before was sprawled out, open, on the floor. Frowning, he picked it up to examine it closer.

'The Black Demon,' the cover read. Curious, he flipped to the first page.

An illustration of an all-too familiar man clad in black, a metal visor covering his eyes and an Uzi in one hand, stared back at him.

It was all he could do to keep from dropping the book.


A/N: Just a heads-up: do not be surprised if my stories take longer to update. School just started recently. I'll be swarmed with tests, homework, and college applications.