A/N: Thanks for the reviews and please, do not ask me where this one came from.
In which there are melons and plenty of duct tape. And crack, quite possibly.
Clay, like every other soldier after twenty years of active service, had his fair share of nightmares. Dead comrades, gruesome injuries, lost in the jungle. The usual repertoire of horrors.
When Roque had become a Loser, a new scenario had joined his nightmares: Roque bored.
Then Summers had signed herself onto the team and since then, Clay got seriously twitchy if his two best fighters were stuck anywhere for more than a few hours without entertainment.
It never ended well.
There was that one time where they’d decided to go skinny dipping in a shallow pool they’d found in the jungle and ended up with leeches all over them. Or the one time they’d gotten tired of Texas’s mouth and duct-taped him from head to toe and hung him upside down from the ceiling until Clay got back and cut him loose.
Or the time in Panama that involved a kiddy pool, several dozen gallons of grape jelly and copious amounts of the Patron that had been meant as a bribe for some officials they needed to look the other way.
That had been after the time Roque wanted to see if you could flambé a human without hurting them, like you could pudding. Snake’s eyebrows had never grown back quite right.
Really, no-one could blame Clay for trying to keep his two weapons specialists as busy as possible with whatever inane tasks he could come up with, food runs and laundry duty included.
The motto was: Do Not Let Them Get Bored and everyone who’d ever spent any amount of time in close quarters with them was fully on his side.
So really, when Roque came marching past him with an assortment of things in his arms (including but not limited to: duct tape, clothes, several towels, Snake’s sleeping bag), Clay was right to feel very, very antsy. They had been stuck in their latest safehouse for over two days, unable to do much of anything and there were only so many distractions in a place like this.
He waved at Roque, but the man only grunted and stomped out the backdoor. Summers came around the corner a moment later, carrying (Jesus fucking Christ), what looked like every blade she and Roque owned between them.
Small knives. Big knives. Serrated knives. Straight knives. Fixed knives and ones with blades that folded into the handle. Butterfly and Bowie knives. Throwing knives. Hunting knives. Ornamental and functional, antique and new, cheap and expensive.
Clay stood and followed their token female out into the backyard. Roque had put his equipment down on the worn picnic table and was now fumbling with the tape. Summers set the knives down next to his things, putting them in neat, orderly lines, sorted from smallest (one inch blade, good for hiding in the center of a bra and don’t ask how Clay knew that) to the biggest (two and a half foot machete, taken off a dead man in Western Africa).
There was a pile of smallish watermelons next to the table that hadn’t been there this morning.
Clay felt the sudden need to vacate the premises and never come back.
“Roque,” he barked, because at least Roque would answer, instead of smirking and throwing his hair over his shoulder, mostly out of a severe lack of hair, but whatever. Small mercies. “What are you doing?”
The man didn’t look up from where he was taping a random stick to the handle of a mop. “Testing a theory.”
The Colonel swallowed. When Roque
felt the need to be evasive, things were bad. “What theory?”
“Internet,” Summers said, taking the mop-crucifix from Roque and starting to stuff it into a very loud Hawaiian shirt that belonged to Texas.
They were building a scarecrow?
“What kind of theory on the internet?”
Summers stopped trying to get the buttons right and blinked, very slowly. “Is it really ‘on’, or is it ‘in’ the internet? Roque, what do you think?”
“Who gives a fuck?” the big man asked philosophically, bending to pick up one of the melons and inspect it. Summers leaned the mop-guy against the table, plucked the fruit from his hand and handed him the towels and the duct tape.
“Shoulda done that first,” she remarked as she help up the shirt and Roque wordlessly started taping the towels to the mop in a sort of torso. Another grunt.
“Soldiers,” Clay barked. “What theory
“Huh?” Mom looked up, giving him a surprised look. “What… oh. Snake. Snake plays that stupid game. With the elves and the half naked blue women and… stuff. And there was this discussion in a forum-thing last night. They were fighting about whether or not you can split a human head simply by throwing a knife at it. We want to see if it works, because we don’t think so. Except maybe with slayer strength, but those geeks don’t have that, right?”
Oh Jesus, this was what his mother had meant when she’d told him every prank he’d ever pulled on her would come back to bite him one day. Except she’d probably been talking about little Clays, not fully-grown, homicidal, knife-swinging fighters. “The melons?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
Summers patted the one on the table fondly. “The heads,” she confirmed.
“Right.” He retreated. He could have tried to stop them, could have ordered them to stand down, but they would have found a way to do it anyway and make his life even more of a living hell while they were at it, simply because they could. Plus, if he had to listen to another lecture about how he was ‘stumping his men’s creativity in their natural development’, courtesy of Summers, he was going to scream. She had a very annoying tendency to pull it out every time he shot down one of his men’s crazier schemes.
He very carefully backed away until he reached the backdoor and then made a beeline for the fridge. Beer. He might just get through this with beer. He grabbed a bottle, reconsidered, took the whole six pack and settled on the steps leading into the backyard, a safe distance away from the goings-on.
Roque was about to tie the scarecrow to the only tree in the yard, when Mom stopped him. “Sleeping bag first,” she insisted. “We don’t wanna harm the tree.”
Roque looked at her sideways but obeyed, taping the sleeping bag to the trunk of the tree in question. Clay looked from the two inch thick piece of fabric to the knife collection on the table and decided it was the thought that counted. Wordlessly, the two mounted the scarecrow as their CO watched.
And then came the first problem.
“How are we gonna fix the melons to the end of the mop?”
Summers shook her head wildly. “Nuh-uh. Can’t tape the whole melon over. It’d ruin the experiment. Maybe a hole in the bottom?”
She picked up a stiletto dagger and unceremoniously rammed it into the first melon, twisting. It split down the middle, one half rolling off the table and more or less exploding as it hit the edge of the bench. Apparently, the melons were a bit ripe.
The blonde danced away from the flying pieces of fruit and observed, “Well, I already knew you could split a skull like that. It’s about the throwing
Then she picked up another melon and dug a hole into it, more gently than before. Clay took a bit swig of his beer and decided not to ask how she knew about splitting skulls with knives.
They named the scarecrow Jimmy.
Eventually, they figured out how to fix the ‘heads’ to Jimmy’s mop, excuse him, ‘neck’.
They then spent fifteen minutes quibbling over which knives to use, since they only had fifteen (now fourteen) melons and about fifty knives. Throwing more than one knife at one head would falsify the data and thus ruin the experiment.
After that, Mom settled down next to Clay and pulled out paper and pen, ready to take down their results. Clay, then on his third bottle of beer on an empty stomach, was starting to find the whole adventure mildly amusing. Roque, who had gotten the dubious honor of getting to start with the small knives (completely unworthy of his skills, he said), promptly missed the melon on purpose with the one inch knife, burying it to the hilt in the sleeping bag behind Jimmy’s back.
Poor Snake. He was probably going to miss that sleeping bag.
After burying the next biggest knife in the sleeping bag, too, Roque finally reached for a four inch knife, which he deemed worthy of his skills. He hit Jimmy right between the sharpie-d on eyes and his head exploded in a shower of melon-gore.
“Wow,” Mom said, staring at the mess. “Didn’t expect that.”
She put away her notes and went to prep another melon, drawn on face and all. Roque took her place next to Clay and she threw the knife with scary ease.
Boom. Chunks of melon hit the table and slipped off the edge, landing on the remaining stack of clothes and towels. Texas was not going to be happy either.
After number five, Roque took down the results in handwriting that was decidedly less loopy and girly than Mom’s and then stood, moving to get the next melon. Summers stopped him with a shake of her head. “This isn’t right. I think the holes are ruining the integrity of the melons.”
Roque tilted his head, thinking the suggestion through, obliviously fingering a knife. Clay didn’t say anything, just kept watching. He felt a bit smug about hearing Summers use a big word, because it meant she felt safe enough, comfortable enough, around them to stop putting on the ditzy routine all the time. It was probably sappy as hell, but Clay liked knowing that his team liked being his team.
“Well,” Roque finally spoke up, “You nixed the tape. So how we gonna get the melons to stick?”
In the end, the taped over a spot on the melon and then dug the hole right there, through the tape. That way, they had the hole, but the melon didn’t burst the first time someone looked at it too hard.
Five through thirteen went off without a hitch, throw a knife, embed it in the melon, put melon aside. None of them exploded like the first few had, unless you counted what happened when they were carelessly dropped into the ‘used’ pile next to Jimmy, the melon-man. Clay suspected that they’d gotten them out of some vendor’s trash, because there was no way anyone could have sold melons that overly ripe. Every time the two dropped one from waist height, it exploded in a shower that had a radius of at least three feet, most of the time more because they kept putting a bit of extra power into the ‘dropping’. Apparently, they were having a lot more fun than Clay, who had to keep covering his beer to avoid it getting melon-flavored.
Right before melon number thirteen met its maker, Summers piped up, “Can I use slayer strength? Like, just this once?”
Roque considered, looked down at the notes and then nodded. “Go for it.”
She hefted the knife, tested its weight and then adjusted her grip, since the foot long blade wasn’t meant to be thrown. Then she drew back her arm and the knife went flying.
The melon exploded like a tasty bomb and the knife buried itself in the sleeping bag and the tree behind it, several inches deep.
Summers wiped a bit of melon from her cheek and frowned. “Whoops.”
They stood (or in Clay’s case, swayed) around the pile of melon goop in the middle of the yard. There were splatters of fruit all over the place and a large heap at their feet. The knives were covered, the material they’d used to build Jimmy was covered. Jimmy himself was barely visible through the new sheen the Hawaiian shirt had taken on. The picnic table was drenched in fruit juice and Clay was pretty sure he had some of that shit in his shoes. He’d definitely had some in his beer earlier.
It looked like Melonland had exploded.
“Results?” Summers asked, kicking at a piece of melon.
“Inconclusive,” Roque returned promptly, kicking the piece right back at her. It hit her shin with a wet smack and slowly slid down her bare leg.
“Well,” the blonde said with a shrug. “At least we know what’s for dinner.”
Clay, who was at this point, drunk enough to not even care what they’d done to the yard, themselves and assorted things belonging to their teammates (which was going to cause no end of fighting), shook his head and wriggled his toes in his shoes.
Definitely melon in there.
He figured he should be glad they weren’t loopy enough to try their little experiment on random people on the street, but he would have probably slept safer if they had just watched TV when they got bored, like anyone else.
“I’m taking a shower,” he announced, picking his way through the debris. Mentally, he was already compiling a list of tasks to give Summers and Roque to keep them out of trouble for the rest of the day. Getting him some painkillers was at the top of the list, followed by cleaning up the damn yard.
Anything that got them away from him.
Once their fearless leader was safely out of earshot, Buffy turned to look at Roque. “Do you think he’s ever gonna figure out that we do this shit just to mess with him?”
Roque, who was licking a knife clean, shook his head. “Nah,” he decided. “Probably not.”