This is a series of vignettes I'm writing for Caeser's Palace forum's shipping week. Hopefully I will be able to do all seven days. GI Joe Renegades verse, and it will run the gamut of pre-show, during the show, and post-show. The following takes directly after the end of Return of The Arashikage, pt 2, while Snake Eyes is still injured and brooding.

Day 1, prompt: whisper.


Whisper

Ironically, it is her voice that first captured him.

The first time Snake Eyes laid eyes on Shana he'd been deceived by the soft, pale face, the sheen of strawberry curls that made him expect a syrupy drawl to pour out of her lips. Instead she opened her mouth and he was struck with a sword edge, words sharp and hard, as unsubtle as lightning bolts. They set everything in range ablaze, and he's been on fire since the very first, "Hell no, you listen to me!"

So Snake Eyes is surprised when she sits down beside his supine form and speaks in that raspy, subdued, un-Shana like way, her throat a damaged husk from the poisoned darts – "So. Did you kill the Hard Master?" – and he's hit with all the undiminished power of her blade-like voice.

To the touch, his skin feels boiled alive. The fever has cooked his brains into something like scrambled eggs, and he barely manages a weak shake of his head – No.

She won't look at him. "I want to believe you." Green eyes stare holes into the back door of the Coyote, her voice a bare whisper above the engine's roar. "But you realize I just learned more about you in a few hours than I have in the past five years." These aren't the broad strokes of her curses or commands. These words cut with surgical precision. It's her lawyer voice, and she's handing him an indictment – withholding for now a conviction, but nonetheless he's still on trial. Sensei never tells anyone anything. "What I don't understand is why you never told me about Jinx or Storm Shadow or any of it. Why you have to keep hiding from me, even now."

He brings a fist to his chest and inscribes a small circle. [Sorry.] Snake Eyes likes to think that when Shana first saw him, she must have expected hollowness and silence, and in that one regard he has never disappointed. What else can she feel, after unraveling his mystique to reveal nothing but a stranger cloaked in dishonor and shame? What else can he feel, except – I knew this day would come. When all his skeletons are unearthed, hung up on the line for the world to judge. He hears them now, the bones of his old life, rattling away amidst the communal silence.

Please say something, he thinks. [I should have –] his hands try. But fatigue muddles his fingers. Shana lifts her eyes from the back of the Coyote up to roof, over to the front cab, resting each of their comrades in turn, then out the windshield to watch the passing woodlands, and says nothing. Not a whisper. Not a shout. And as much as her voice has the power to destroy, the silence hurts more, cuts deeper, sinks through flesh and bone and those oh-so-carefully constructed walls he's spent his whole life building, another scar on his soul that will never fade.

[Sorry.]

She finally relents, closing her eyes: "I know." She opens them, looks right where his eyes should be. "And I believe you. I know you. Even if I know nothing about you, I know you, and I know you didn't kill your master." Touch is a fundamental part of their communication, as real as words, and often more meaningful. A tap on the nose – you're funny. A hand on the shoulder – I forgive you – and her palm feels cool against his burning skin. "I've never kept anything from you. I just wish you trusted me enough to do the same."

But it's these moments when he desires nothing more than a voice. Not a gesture or a look-of-meaning. Even the smallest whisper would suffice. To own a word – just one word. The one he'd come to cherish above all others.

Because if he could say her name, if she could hear it said with a fraction of the passion that she says everything, maybe it would put her doubts to rest. Maybe he would have the courage to finally make due on his many, silent promises. One day I will tell you everything.

[I'm sorry, Shana.]