Title: Difficult Days, Lonely Nights
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 7 December 2010
Fandom: G.I. Joe
Pairing: Scarlett / Lady Jaye
Rating: PG-13 / Gen (Pre-Ship?) (mentions of canonical het relationships)
Word Count: 1508
Summary: In the aftermath of a mission, two women learn to lean on each other
Warnings: Implied Death Fic
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW10
Disclaimer: G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero was a Sunbow production, under license from Hasbro and Marvel Comics; no ownership is inferred here, merely playing in their sandbox for fun
Author's Notes: The cartoon was somewhat lacking on serious interaction between each of the women who were introduced over the toyline's history. This story is something of a result of that.
Beta: ilyena_sylph, to whom I owe so much
There had been more than enough time for the entire team to check back in, yet Lady Jaye refused to give up on Flint. Cobra Island had never been enough to take the man from their team for long. She sat by the communications board, waiting, hoping, praying.
"Dash... come home to me," she whispered softly, beating down the urge to cry. This was something they both had faced from the first day they had chosen to set aside code names and become involved with one another. Some day, one or the other wouldn't be there. She just had truly never expected it to be him.
A noise at the door intruded on her, and she pushed it all down to be as professional as possible with whomever was coming into Ops. She turned, face a perfect mask, to see Scarlett striding over to the Tac Computer. From the tightly controlled manner in which she was touching the keys to enter data, Lady Jaye could surmise that things were not looking so rosy for Scarlett.
The redhead looked over at the other woman, then shook her head, making her pony-tail swish. "Just the usual grief he puts me through," she said, then raised a hand to cover her mouth. "I'm sorry...I know..."
"It's okay," Lady Jaye said, though a lance of pain spiked through her chest more at Scarlett catching herself than the reference itself.
"I'll be around... if you need someone who might understand," Scarlett offered, before returning to her typing.
"Thanks; I'll remember that." Lady Jaye turned back to the board, waiting, and hoping it would not be in vain.
Scarlett was eating in the mess, alone, when Lady Jaye came and set her tray down in front of her, taking that seat.
"Snake Eyes?" Lady Jaye had recognized the fact that the ninja-trained specialist had been absent ever since that night in the Ops room. With nearly a month passed, Lady Jaye had begun to push herself into missions and normal life. She wasn't ready to grieve, but she also had a job to do.
Scarlett's mouth went tight. "Arashikage business. Again."
"How... how do you cope?" Lady Jaye asked. She'd actually been on the verge of trying to make contact with Destro, to see if he had word of Flint, which had been her wake up call to actually throw herself back into work. Relation or not, dealing with the enemy was not acceptable Joe behavior.
Scarlett drew in a deep breath, centering herself as best she could. "It's hard. I have a lot of faith in his ability to survive, but every time he goes off to help Storm Shadow, I worry more than when it is just a mission. Here, he's got a safety net, even if he does strike out on his own a lot. Out there, with Storm Shadow? I'm sorry, but all that mind control and nebulous morality worries me," she admitted.
Lady Jaye frowned, then nodded. "I can see how that would be worrying. Of course, Snake Eyes is so capable."
"Yes, but...how long will it last? And in the end, where am I?" Scarlett asked. "Not at all like you and Flint, with how close and concerned for each other you've always been." She reached out, covering Lady Jaye's hand with her own, knowing she had caused more pain. "If Flint's out there, he's only thinking about how to get back to you, I bet you."
Scarlett squeezed Lady Jaye's hand at the troubled word. "We are soldiers."
Lady Jaye turned her hand over, clasping Scarlett's. "Yes."
Three weeks after the longest separation Scarlett had ever known Snake Eyes to take, she added a black arm band to her own uniform. Lady Jaye had been wearing one for three months. Neither, as the respective partners of the missing men, would allow the files to be closed as 'KIA', leaving both labeled as 'MIA'. In Flint's case, there was a flag of 'potential POW', but with Snake Eyes, there was only an annotation that he had been in the company of a known terrorist at the time of his last mission, because Duke had said the ninja had been acting on orders.
That made Scarlett a little frosty to her C.O. It was an attitude Lady Jaye could respect; Snake Eyes having been on orders might have calmed Scarlett considerably in the aftermath of Snake Eyes' abrupt departure.
The two women continued to meet for meals, occasionally, and with their respective other halves out of the scene, Duke and Hawk both started eying the potential of them as a pair. Scarlett was well-versed in the Counter-Intelligence department and Lady Jaye was a specialist in Covert Operations. The first mission that had them together was supported by Stalker, Tripwire, and Bazooka and proved to be quite the success.
From that start, it was just a matter of refining who best backed up their skills, and also trying them on the more dangerous duo team runs.
Scarlett would always think it had been a mercy that she was the one to recognize the metal in the mud as they were cutting through the jungle on Cobra Island. She did not have time to do more than take multiple pictures, snap a GPS coordinate, and scoop up the metal into a pouch, heedless of the mud. Lady Jay never noticed the distraction, roving ahead to be certain they were on track to the rendezvous on the beach for pick up by Shipwreck's side of the mission.
Scarlett would wait until they were safely aboard the Killer W.H.A.L.E. Before showing them to her friend and partner. It was going to be hard enough, and Scarlett knew it would be better to do it where the mission would still have priority, and Lady Jaye would need to be professional, than to wait all the way to the Pit.
Lady Jaye wanted to deny the truth even now, curled up in her bunk with the two newly cleaned buckles. Distinctively designed, they had been a part of Flint's uniform most of the time they had served together. She had spent the whole trip back in a state of numb shock, working on auto-pilot. Scarlett had pointed out it didn't necessarily mean Flint was dead, but Lady Jaye was too practical to discard the notion. Unless they ousted Cobra entirely from the island, it would be near impossible to go back with the equipment necessary to search the location for human remains.
A light scratch came at the door, before the lock was bypassed, and Scarlett slipped in.
"I didn't think you ought to be alone," the redhead murmured, as the grieving woman sat up on the bed. Lady Jaye pressed her lips tight, but her chin quivered, and Scarlett hurried over. As she settled on the bed, she opened her arms, and the other woman moved close, burying her face into the offered shoulder.
Scarlett held her tight, rocking a little, and wasn't terribly surprised when her own walls against Snake Eyes' fate crumbled, and her tears streamed down to wet Lady Jaye's hair.
Scarlett woke, disoriented, because this wasn't her bunk space, and...that was not Snake Eyes on her shoulder. Slowly, she remembered the night, as it had passed from mutual grieving into anecdotes and memories shared. They had each needed it, Scarlett possibly more than she had thought possible. Apparently, they had drifted off together in Lady Jaye's bed.
It made Scarlett smile a little, looking at the peace on her partner's face. Then, as Lady Jaye woke and realized she was cuddling a superior non-com, she blushed faintly, and that made Scarlett laugh softly.
"We needed it," she said, reaching up to push Lady Jaye's bangs back from her face with a gentle motion.
"Yes, I think we did." Lady Jaye drew in a breath and realized that even the sight of the metal buckles on the corner of the bed weren't enough to bring back the pressing weight of pain. Yes, there was an ache, but there was also a sense of easing, as if talking and crying with someone who understood had eased it enough to make it livable.
"I'm always here," Scarlett murmured, sliding away, readying to leave. Lady Jaye propped up on her elbow, watching her.
"Shana." The use of her first name stopped the master sergeant in her tracks; it was so rare to think of herself as anything other than who she had made herself for the Joes. "Thank you."
Scarlett looked at the woman on the bunk, nodded once, and then gave a faint smile. "Anytime, Alison."
Lady Jaye accepted the use of her name as easily. "The offer runs both ways, you know?"
Scarlett met her eyes, and inhaled deeply. "I do." She left the room then, which let both women touch upon the same fear privately.
Did either one have the strength to repeat the same path with a fellow member of the Joes?