1-17-2002

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to Bandai and Sunrise and others and not to us. Original characters belong to the authors. No money was made from this, and this was done totally for fun and the joy of writing.

Notes: This story belongs in the Life Rules series which can be found at the websites above. It's not necessary to have read the other stories to understand this, but it wouldn't hurt either. (Though, that's slowly changing as the series progresses). Just for timeline references, this story occurs a few days after "Pictures Taken" and goes from there.

(This is one of the new stories promised in the repost.)

Archiving: Permission to archive in list archives, all others please
ask. This fiction will be archived at
http://home.earthlink.net/~beaglepack/vault and
http://www.ondragonswing.com/ninjababe/ninsfic/
and past stories in the series can be found at both sites.

Thanks to Nin for starting the Life Rules and letting me play with it. Much thanks to KellyD for listening to me and reading (the Quatre and Trowa stuff is for you). And, thanks to Heidi for reading and filling in the blanks.

Feedback: Any and all comments are welcome.

Pairings: 1+2/2+1, 3+4/4+3, 5+OFC/OFC+5, 6+9/9+6

Out With It
by comet <comet@ao.net> and Heidi <beaglepack@earthlink.net> (with input from Ninjababe < ninjababe@ondragonswing.com>)

 

Ronnie walked into the elevator, not noticing it was already occupied. She hit the button for the fourth floor a little harder than was necessary, muttering the whole time about wanting to kill some idiot.

"Taking it out on the elevator won't help," said a male voice from behind her.

Ronnie spun around, while reaching for her gun. She never completed the last move as the voice registered through the mental anger. "Wufei," she replied dropping her hand. "Sorry."

Wufei smiled at her. "I'd ask how your day went, but I think that's obvious," he said. "Would you care for a cup of tea instead?"

"Yeah," she said quietly, moving to lean against the elevator. "I would."

Neither of them moved as the doors to the elevator opened on the forth floor, opting instead to let the doors close on their own. When the doors opened on the fifth floor both exited and walked to Wufei's apartment.

Unlocking the door, he gestured for Ronnie to precede him through. After closing the door behind him, he tossed his keys to their usual spot on the table in the entranceway while watching Ronnie shrug out of her jacket. She looks tired, he thought. He reached out his hand for the jacket so he could hang it on the coat rack. Ronnie nodded, unclipping the gun holster from her back and slipping it into one of the jacket's pockets before handing it to him. "Not going to shoot me?" Wufei joked, trying to get her to loosen up little.

Ronnie smiled and shook her head. "I am sorry about that."

Wufei shook his head and walked into his kitchen to put the water on to boil while Ronnie continued on into his living room. Getting comfortable, she took off her tennis shoes so she could curl her feet under her as she sat down. Propping an elbow up onto the couch's arm, she stared off into space, lost in thought.

Ronnie was brought out of her thoughts when she heard Wufei say, "Out with it."

Looking up at Wufei, she smiled. "You're starting to sound like Duo," she said with a light laugh.

"I got you to laugh," he answered pleased with himself, as he set a tea tray down on his coffee table. He sat on the edge of the overstuffed chair near the end of the couch where Ronnie sat and went about fixing their tea. Pouring two cups, he added a bit of milk and sugar to one of the cups before passing it to Ronnie.

"Thank you," Ronnie said as she accepted the cup, not surprised that Wufei knew exactly how much sugar and milk to put in it. He paid attention to details most wouldn't notice.

"So, want to tell me why you were trying to kill our elevator? Something at work?" he asked, wondering if there was anything he could help her with.

Ronnie shook her head no. "Work was work. Two cases closed, one set for trial and a new one." Ronnie took a drink from the cup before placing it back down on the table.

"That leaves your photography," he said. "And, I know the Galleria showing went very well..."

"Thank you for being there," Ronnie interrupted, wanting him to know how much it meant to her that he came and showed his support. "It's...I'm...ugh. That jerk." With a sigh of frustration Ronnie leaned her head down to the arm of the couch to rest in her hands. "I don't see how Duo works with that guy everyday without killing him."

Wufei smiled at Ronnie, though she couldn't see him with her head still down. "Ah, would 'that jerk' be the ever present idiot named Stephen?" he asked, since he knew she had other names for the Lab One's lead, Chad Evans.

Ronnie turned her head so she could look at Wufei, and nodded. "I swear he has no clue what 'no' means, doesn't understand personal space, keeps telling everyone how good his laser tag team is, and..."

"And is hinting to everyone that the two of you are dating," finished Wufei, having heard the rumours the young man started about Ronnie and himself.

Ronnie turned her head back into her arms. "Ugh, ick. Make him stop. Are you sure you couldn't use real guns in the tournament?" she asked, another hint of laughter in her voice.

"I think the other players would object to that," Wufei paused. "Probably not many of them though." Ronnie laughed at that and smiled up at him. "You could always get yourself a boyfriend," he added. That was subtle, he thought.

"You sound like my mom and Noah," Ronnie said. "Besides, who?"

"Who would you say yes to if they asked you out?" he asked.

"You," Ronnie said before she could stop herself. Great, opened my mouth again, she thought.

"Then go out with me?" he asked.

Ronnie was flabbergasted then said, "Okay."

"Dinner and a movie?" he asked.

She smiled and joked, "Traditional."

"No planning." He smiled back. "What time do you get off?"

"Two." In way of an explanation, she added that she had to go into the office much earlier in the morning than normal.

"Pick you up at your door at four-thirty?"

She nodded. "Sounds good to me."

Their impromptu plans set, Wufei and Ronnie continued to talk, enjoy their tea, and later dinner until both had to call it a night, or neither would feel like going to work in the morning. And Ronnie knew if she wanted to make sure she left work early so she would have time to get ready for her night out with Wufei, she would actually have to get in early and finish the paperwork sitting on her desk.

=====

By one the following afternoon, Ronnie was ready to go home. She was cross-eyed from all the paperwork she'd done and frustrated from the ever-growing pile of memos from Evans. A nap, a shower, she thought, and I'll be ready for tonight. At two, she was out of the office, via the back way, before anyone could stop her or a new case came in that would have her working overtime.

At the same time across town, Wufei was trying to finish up the reports on his desk. By two-thirty he was done, and at three, with just enough time to get home, shower and change. He left the office, telling Heero and Trowa he had errands to run, not bothering to tell them he had a date. He didn't want to answer questions or deal with their teasing comments. He just wanted to enjoy his evening with Ronnie.

Ronnie took a forty-five minute nap on her couch, not wanting to get too comfortable by using her bed, then showered and changed into dark-colored blue jeans, tan tank top, and a long-sleeved dark green dress shirt that she left open and untucked.

At five minutes till four-thirty Wufei knocked on Ronnie's door wearing jeans, a navy t-shirt and a black leather jacket. She answered the door with one of her digital zoom lens in her hand; Ronnie smiled at Wufei and let him in to her apartment. "Just let me put this away," she said.

"Take your time," he replied, "we still need to pick a movie." He picked up the remote to her television and turned it on, changing the channel to the local event schedule channel, then called up the movie times for two of the local theatres.

Coming back into the room, Ronnie saw him skimming through the listings at the multiplex theaters and asked, "Find anything?"

"We have an action with romance, a romance with action, the horror flick Duo's been raving about, a sci-fi action-drama." He stopped with the last one. "Sci-fi action-drama?"

Standing next to Wufei, Ronnie read the little blurbs about the movies then agreed with Wufei. "The sci-fi one sounds good. Movie or dinner first?" she asked.

Wufei paused then answered that they should probably go to the movie first or else they'd sit at dinner and talk and forget the movie. Adding that with it just being the two of them, they'd probably make it all the way through the movie without incident.

Ronnie laughed. "I heard about that," referring to an incident a year or so back that involved Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei. "And, I have been to the movies with you and the guys before. Several times, I might add."

Twenty minutes later found the two of them standing in front of the movie theatre ticket booth. "I asked, I pay," Wufei stated, referring their tickets.

Ronnie wasn't going to argue, she was planning on getting even by asking him out the next time. She knew she should be surprised she was already thinking about the next time, but this felt right and she wasn't going to analyse it, she was just going to go with it. Maybe instead she should be surprised they had known each other for as long as they had and they were finally doing this.

As the two entered the theatre, they missed seeing Zechs and Lucrezia exit. "About damn time," Noin commented.

Zechs looked at his own date. "They've been out together before, Luce."

Sometimes you can be dense, Zechs, Lucrezia Noin thought. "Yes, but this is obviously a date date," she said out loud. "Let's go eat."

Zechs shrugged and followed Noin. He figured there was some distinction between tonight and any other time Ronnie and Wufei had gone out but that distinction was something only a woman would understand.

The movie lasted just under two hours. Half way through, Wufei put his arm around Ronnie, who instinctively leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder. Neither action seemed to faze either one of them, it just seemed natural. Talking as they came out of the theatre, they agreed the movie wasn't that bad and they'd have to remember to suggest it to the others the next time all of them got together.

They walked a couple of blocks to a little Italian restaurant where they spent the next two hours talking and laughing as they slowly worked their way through a bottle of Chianti and their respective pasta dishes, occasionally sharing a taste with the other.

=====

In the thirteen days since Wufei and Ronnie went to movies, they had been out on five dates and had dinner at one of their apartments four times. The dinners weren't really anything new for the two of them; they'd been doing that for almost a year. But just the two of them going out, on date dates as Noin had called it, that was new, and they were enjoying themselves and the time they spent with each other.

Their next outing, however, wasn't to be alone, but another laser tag practice with dinner afterwards. This one had Ronnie and Noin playing, as well as the six guys. The red team consisted of Heero, Zechs, Wufei, and Trowa; while the blue team was made up of Quatre, Duo, Noin, and Ronnie. Though, this time, the parameters of their game would include the small park and playground near their building. Having to avoid any children playing would add more of a challenge to their game and hone their skills for the competition.

"Explain to me why I'm doing this again?" Lucrezia asked, strapping on the sensor panels and holstering her gun.

Ronnie looked over at her with a smile and shrugged. "I haven't even figured out why I'm here yet. You're a whole other story."

"Because it will be fun," said Quatre and Duo together, both with evil grins on their faces. "And because we, the blue team, are going to win," they added in unison.

"They're scary sometimes," Noin said, shaking her head at her male teammates.

"Yes we are." Duo grinned, taking pride in what should have been an insult. "Now let's move out. The park awaits."

***

"I'm apologising now," Ronnie said to Quatre as she ducked behind the same park bench as Quatre. "I think I may have killed your boyfriend."

Quatre started to snicker. "That's okay, I shot yours."

Ronnie stared at the blonde, then started to laugh. "I guess you make three," she declared. Noin had confronted her, wanting all the details, the day after her first date with Wufei. "We weren't not telling people, we just sort of..." she tried to clarify.

"Got caught up in it," Quatre finished for her. When Ronnie nodded he added, "I understand." Then he smiled. "Let's see how long it takes the others to figure out."

Ronnie stared at the blonde again. "That's just evil," she muttered, but liking the way he thought, causing Quatre's grin to widen. Duo and Noin came around the building and signaled an all clear. It appeared the game was moving into the building and out of the park. Once in the building the game only lasted another half hour before Quatre called, "That's the game."

"Anyone seen Heero?" asked Zechs.

"And Duo?" Noin asked.

"I saw Heero going down the stairwell ten minutes ago," answered Trowa.

"Duo was going up," Ronnie said, pausing to think about what Trowa had just said, then started to walk toward the stairwell, "about the same time."

Noin followed Ronnie, leaving the rest to follow after them. As the group approached the door they shushed each other, trying to contain their giggling, then quietly opened the door and peered into the stairwell. "I wonder who captured who?" Noin asked loud enough to startle the two boys, wrapped in an embrace and kissing on the platform below them.

The two boys turned around to see six people staring down at them. "Um, we got a bit distracted," Duo offered, a slight blush in his checks, looking very much like a child who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"That's one way of putting it," Ronnie called down, laughing at the two of them.

"I would suggest that you not get distracted during the tournament next month," Noin advised, trying to be serious and almost succeeding if not for the humour in her voice.

Ronnie followed Noin's suggestion with, "It would make for a good picture though, too bad I don't have my camera with me..." Both women laughed.

Duo looked up at the women and shrugged. "Dinner?" he asked.

=====

The eight players were at it again a week later. This time the red team came out with the flag. Now they sat around Quatre and Trowa's apartment, waiting for the pizza to be delivered. "I still can't believe you shot me," Zechs said to Noin.

Noin shook her head. "I said I was sorry about that, besides I was actually after Wufei when you stepped into the shot."

"That would explain the 'oops,'" Wufei commented, entering the living room.

Noin nodded. "But the expression on his face made it all worth it," she said, playfully, teasing Zechs.

Her comment earned laughs from all the players. "On this, our final little practice I'd like to once again thank our two alternate players for chipping in," Quatre said all official like.

At that, Noin looked up from her position on the floor, where her back rested against the chair that Zechs sat in. "Uh, what's he want now?" she asked.

Zechs didn't look down at her when he answered. "That we attend the Charity Fundraiser that's about two weeks after the tournament."

"Ah, I see," Noin said. "Guess it could be worse." Besides it would be worth it to see all of them dressed up especially Zechs.

Zechs looked down at her and smiled, then mouthed "thank you."

"And Wufei can bring Ronnie," said Quatre, grinning at Ronnie.

"He could ask her first," Trowa said, not aware of the same things as his lover.

"We're both in the room," Wufei commented, as he sat down next to Ronnie.

Ronnie shook her head no. "I have to work," she said, taking the water bottle out of Wufei's hand and drinking from it, but not returning it.

"No you don't," Quatre said. "You've been taken off the schedule." He smiled. As soon as he figured out was happening between Ronnie and Wufei he had started this into motion. He wanted her there this year and having her and Wufei there as a couple was important to him. He smiled, knowing his friends made a great couple and he was glad they had figured it out for themselves. His grin widened as he watched Ronnie try and formulate a question.

"What? How? Oh, never mind," she finally said, sounding a bit defeated, this was Quatre after all and he usually got what he wanted.

Ronnie listened as the rest of the people in the room gave excuses to why she should go to the Winner Industries' fundraiser. The comments ranged from the fact that she'd always managed to get out of attending them by working, to the concept that it was now her time to share in the pain of the stuffy parties, to an almost sarcastic "it should be fun."

Ronnie muttered something under her breath and stared at Quatre and Duo, knowing those two were behind all this. Quatre because he know about Wufei and her; Duo because it would be something Duo would do.

Wufei covered his mouth and coughed to cover up that he was quietly laughing. Clearing his throat and the laughter from his face he looked over at Ronnie and smiled. "Veronica," using her full name, Wufei asked, "would you care to attend the Winner Industries' Charity Fundraiser with me?"

"I would be honored," Ronnie said, shocking three of the people sitting in the room.

"Guess you could call it a date," said Duo with a grin, not knowing how true his statement really was.

=====

It only took Duo another week to figure out he had been right when he said, "guess you could call it a date." He couldn't say exactly what it was that tipped him off, maybe it was just the way they were with each other when he thought back to their day of laser tag and party afterward. He wanted to talk with Wufei, get a few facts straightened out first then he'd be happy for the two of them. About time anyway, he thought. Now is a good as time as any to find Wufei and have that talk.

Wufei and Ronnie were enjoying a quiet afternoon in Wufei's apartment until someone knocked on the door. "It's open," Wufei called quietly, surprised to see Duo had knocked instead of just walking in like normal.

Duo walked in to find Wufei sitting at one end of his couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table, a book resting on the arm of the couch, and Ronnie's head lying on his leg. Ronnie appeared to be asleep, curled up under the throw that Wufei kept on the back of his couch.

"Out with it," Duo demanded quietly.

"Told you," Ronnie said sleepily. "You sounded like him."

"Thought you were sleeping," Duo said, ignoring the comment.

Ronnie shifted to look at Duo, a small smile playing on her lips. "I was until you knocked on the door," she replied. Ronnie didn't have a chance to continue as her pager went off. "Damn."

Wufei calmly handed his phone to Ronnie, and listened to her side of the conversation. When she hung up he asked, "Evans?" He was referring to Chad Evans, the Lead for Lab One, and not a favorite person among the ex-pilots. And when he, Trowa, and Heero had left the Preventers to open 1-3-5, not having to work with that man again had been an added perk.

Ronnie nodded and sat up to put her shoes on. "Appears so," she said. "Seems he's got a problem with Jamie and April," two of the forensic investigators in her unit, "and two of my techs."

"Isn't this your day off?" asked Duo. Ronnie's only response was to shrug her shoulders. "Gotcha," Duo said, "Well, if you're back by seven we're going to the Thai restaurant down the road." The six of them had a ritual of going to dinner at least once a week.

Ronnie nodded and said she would try to make if she could. She stood up from the couch but before she could take two steps Wufei pulled lightly on her arm so that she was facing him. Wufei quietly said something to her that Duo couldn't hear, and because of where he was sitting he couldn't see either of their faces. Ronnie shook her head and Wufei pulled on her arm again.

What Duo couldn't see was that both Wufei and Ronnie were smiling. After the second pull on her arm, Ronnie leaned down and kissed Wufei on the cheek. Wufei returned the kiss only after moving slightly so their lips met, then let go of her arm. Ronnie waved bye to Duo, then grabbed her coat and gun and left.

Duo waited until he was sure Ronnie had made it to the elevator before asking Wufei, "Are you sleeping with her?"

Wufei glared at Duo. "I will not answer that."

Duo nodded. "Good. I'm not sure, but I think I'd have hit you, or perhaps worse, had you answered." Duo glared at Wufei for a second then shrugged his shoulders and smiled. It was an empty threat, he knew it and so did Wufei. But, he felt it had been something that needed to be said.

He's like an over-protective brother, Wufei thought. Just what she doesn't need another one of. He shook his head and snorted. "We're both grown-ups, Duo," he said. "And, I look forward to having a similar conversation with Aidan," Wufei said, referring to the oldest of Ronnie's two brothers.

Duo laughed. "Ooh, best of luck with that one, Wu. Though, Aidan and Noah do like you," he said. "Now then, as your best friend, when were the two of you planning on telling the rest of us?"

"We haven't not told you," answered Wufei. "It just never came up."

Duo paused, thinking back to the number of times he'd actually seen his two friends together in the past few weeks and realized it hadn't been very much. "True," he conceded then looked Wufei in the face when he fully processed what Wufei had just said. "Quatre knew," he realised. "And that would explain his little conspiracy at the last practice," was said more to himself than to Wufei. "And why she easily accepted your offer to take her to the Charity Fundraiser instead of trying to get out of it again," he continued.

"Yes," affirmed Wufei, who then quietly added, "Hopefully she'll wear her hair down."

Duo snickered. "Can't run your fingers through that ponytail of hers, ne?" Duo joked knowing that Heero often complained about not being able to run his fingers through his braid.

If Duo didn't know better, he'd have sworn that Wufei had just blushed.

***

Half an hour later Duo ran into the communal room, but stopped short to observe and appreciate his lover as run through a martial art kata on the practice mat. I never get tired of watching him do that, he thought. Leaning up against the wall and postponing his original intent for finding Heero as he watched his lover's body ripple through the intricate moves.

Heero finished with a bow, then looked up to peer directly into Duo's eyes and winked. Heero watched Duo's expression change from a slight lustful to shocked then playful. Heero started for one of showers, not looking back at Duo.

"Hey!" Duo called, following Heero. "Not without me."

After their extended shower, Heero and Duo returned to their apartment to get dressed for dinner. Passing Quatre and Trowa in the hallway, Duo paused. "You could have told me, Q."

"Nah," Quatre answered, knowing exactly what Duo was referring to. "Wouldn't have been as much fun."

Heero and Trowa exchanged looks then looked to the two younger men. "Mind enlightening the rest of us?" Trowa asked.

"Um," Duo started, waiting for Quatre to help him. When he looked over to the blond he saw he wasn't going to be getting any help. "Cha cabhair sinn," he muttered at Quatre.

Quatre smirked and shook his head, indicating it was all his to tell. "Ronnie taught me that one too," Quatre told the braided man. "And you're right, I'm not helping."

"Fine," Duo said. "They're dating."

"Hai."

Not expecting that answer from Heero, Duo grunted. "You knew? Since when?"

This time Heero and Trowa smirked. "Yesterday," Trowa replied. "We saw Wufei walking Ronnie back down to her apartment."

"They were kissing in the stairwell," Heero added. "They didn't see us."

"Well damn," Duo said, hating the fact he was the last one to figure it out. "Oh well. Guess we should get ready for dinner."

The two couples split up promising to meet back in the hallway in an hour. The deadline was only set so the couples didn't get distracted.

=====

Ronnie didn't make it to the Thai restaurant that day, nor did she get to see Wufei again for several days. If it wasn't her job, it was the latest client at 1-3-5. Both of their schedules finally calmed down and that was why Wufei was standing in his living room watching Ronnie as she was looking through a book from the shelves. Wufei ghosted up behind her and wrapping one arm around her waist, he rested his head on her shoulder so he could see what she was looking at. A book on dragons, he said to himself, I should have known.

Ronnie closed the book, but held a small piece of paper in her hand. "You both look a little lost," she said.

"I didn't know that was in there," he said, reaching for the photograph.

Ronnie released the picture. "You should have it in a frame, Wu, not stuffed in some book, forgotten."

"We never saw things the same way. That's not true," he said, "maybe at the end we did. I don't think we ever even loved each other, but before she died we'd finally become friends." Wufei sat in one of his overstuffed chairs and put the picture on the table beside him.

Ronnie sat on the end of the couch closest to Wufei. She picked up the picture and handed it to him again. "That's why you should have it in a frame," she said, giving no room for an argument. "You should know this," she paused before continuing, "Our past, no matter the bad or good, shapes who we are."

Wufei shook his head and laughed quietly. "Now you're starting to sound like Trowa."

Ronnie smiled. "Maybe," she said, shrugging. "But I'm right." As Trowa was often right.

"True." Wufei put the picture back down on the table and tapped Ronnie on the nose with his finger. Her only reaction was to scrunch up her eyes and nose at him. "Quatre should be knocking on the door any minute," she said, looking at her watch.

True to his word, Quatre knocked on the door right on time then poked his head in. "You coming to dinner?" he asked. "We've got to stop on four for Ronnie and Trowa's getting the others."

"Yes," Wufei said. "But we've been waiting for you." He stood and reached out his hand for Ronnie. "No need to stop on four."

Whenever they all went out to dinner together it was always an event. Never a group to eat and run -- they usually monopolized their table for several hours. Using the time together to catch up with those they hadn't seen due to conflicting work schedules and simply enjoy each other's company. Because the occupied the table so long, they usually compensated their waitress with a very generous tip.

=====

A few days later, as Zechs and Noin entered Lab Two they passed one obviously unhappy Chad Evans, who was leaving Ronnie's lab in a huff. "What's his problem this time?" asked Zechs.

"We are," Jamie Falkes answered, indicating April and himself.

"As well as those two," April said, pointing to the techs at the fingerprint analysis station.

"Thought that was straightened out," Noin said as she sat down at Ronnie's desk. She'd heard about the problems between Evans and Ronnie's people the week before last. She couldn't imagine what the problem was now.

Jamie nodded. "Not to Evan's satisfaction," he said. "He wants to talk with Ronnie again." Jamie shook his head. "It's like the man just can't admit that someone else can be right."

"Speaking of the ponytailed one, where is she?" asked Zechs. "And why are there roses in the garbage can?"

"Ronnie hates roses," April said, looking up from the microscope she was working at. "Some secret admirer sent them."

"Then who are the white Calla Lilies from?" Zechs asked, referring to the vase of flowers sitting on Ronnie's desk.

"Her beau," one of the techs said in a dreamy voice, causing Noin to laugh quietly. "So, when are you two getting married?" asked the same lab tech, in the same dreamy-sounding voice.

"Ever the romantic," Ronnie said to the tech as she came out of the darkroom.

"Lunch?" Zechs asked.

"Duo," both Ronnie and Luce said. "You're thinking of food," Luce finishing the thought and clarifying it for Zechs. Zechs just shrugged his shoulders, still not understanding and passing it off as another girl thing.

Ronnie picked up a disk from her desk. "Give me five minutes to talk to Evans," she said. "Then we can go."

"Five minutes?" questioned Noin.

"Yes, because if I'm not back you're going to set off my pager," Ronnie said as she headed for the lab doors.

"Good plan," Zechs called after her.

After the lab door swung close Noin asked the lab, "So who's going to win one of the sets of tickets?" There were several "I am's" heard in the lab and then the sounds of shuffling papers and moving chairs as everyone went quickly back to work.

"You enjoy doing that to them," Zechs said, sitting down on the corner of Ronnie's desk.

"Yes." Noin grinned up at him.

Like the year before, Ronnie had bought two sets of tickets for the charity fundraiser and stapled them to the large corkboard in the office. She then told the people in her office that the two with the highest closure rate over the next three weeks could have the tickets. That had been two weeks ago and the battle was still on for the tickets.

=====

A couple days later found Ronnie sitting on the edge of Duo's desk, looking over his shoulder to watch him maneuver the game's protagonist to the next level. "The colors and sequences look good," she said.

Ronnie could see Duo's grin through the reflection from the computer monitor. "Oh yeah, definitely," he said. "Wait until the next level."

From his desk Stephen watched the pair for several minutes before approaching Duo's desk, he wasn't there to talk to Duo but to Ronnie. He hoped she liked the flowers he had sent. "Miss Morgan," he said and both Ronnie and Duo turned around to face him.

"Yes?" Seeing that he had her complete attention, Stephen asked if she would accompany him to the Charity Fundraiser.

I knew I should have rigged the auction, for a day he wasn't going to be here, Duo thought. Like Ronnie, he had bought several sets of tickets for the fundraiser. The money was going to several charities, including an orphanage on one of the L2 satellites. He'd given a set of the tickets to Nathaniel and his fiancée, and another set to Jason. Duo considered those two his closest friends at work and wanted to treat them to something fun. The other two sets of tickets he'd given to the office in the form of an auction. Unfortunately, Stephen had won one of the bids.

Ronnie blinked, but said nothing. Seeing the shocked expression on her face, Duo nudged her in the back. "Stephen," she said, "how many times do I have to tell you I won't go out with you."

"Why not?" he demanded.

"Because I have a boyfriend," she said.

"Who," Stephen asked, then to Duo, "him?"

Trying hard not to laugh at the thought of Duo as her boyfriend, Ronnie shook her head. "No, him." Ronnie pointed at Wufei who had once again come through the 'employees only' door.

Seeing the guy that had caused him and Ronnie to finally start dating Wufei had to smile, but the smile didn't last long when he saw Ronnie point at him and the look on Ronnie's face that said she wanted to strangle the guy. Stephen glared at the Asian man that had once again not paid attention to the 'employee only' sign. Wufei glared back but Stephen however wasn't exactly smart enough to back down.

"You're not allowed back here," Stephen said trying to intimidate Wufei.

"Let it rest, Stephen," Duo advised shutting down his computer and standing up. "He's here to pick us up."

When Ronnie passed by Stephen, he grabbed her arm and told her, "You're rooting for the wrong team."

Ronnie pulled her arm free of his grasp. "I don't think so," she said.

Wufei extended his arm toward her, which she gladly took, looping her arm through his. "Are you sure you can't just shoot him," Ronnie asked on the way out the door.

Wufei pulled her closer and whispered, "sounding better and better," into her ear, causing her to smile.

Having heard Wufei's quiet statement, Duo snickered, "You got that right, Wu." Stephen was a pain to all of them.

 

- end -

 

End Notes:
"Cha cabhair sinn" is Scots Gaelic for "You're no help" and is pronounced [cha ca-vare shinn].