2-10-2001

Disclaimer: We don't own any of the characters portrayed in this story. No money was made from this, and this was done totally for fun.
Archiving: If you do not have previous permission, please ask.

Notes: This story belongs in my Life Rules series It's not necessary to have read the other stories to understand this, but it wouldn't hurt either. Just for timeline references, this story occurs several weeks after "The Things We Do So We're Not Bored."

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One Picture
by Ninjababe and comet

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"We're in trouble now," commented Jason as he saved the program he was working on.

"What makes you say that?" asked Nathaniel.

"Turn around and look," Jason pointed towards Duo's desk.

Nathaniel turned around to see what had grabbed Jason's attention. "And you wonder why I face the other way, better to not know the trouble in advance."

"It's more like he's staring off into space."

"What are you two rattling on about? Why don't you just get back to work," stated Stephen from his desk. "We have a lot to do, and you two sitting there like you have all the time in the world isn't helping us. Just wait until the boss arrives."

"Oh shut up, Stephen," replied both and Jason Nathaniel as they got up from their desks and headed toward the breakroom. Finally out of earshot of Stephen Jason added, "He sure did become a suck up."

"Especially with the people up in marketing and public relations."

Ten minutes later when they came out, Duo was still staring off into space. Well, not really off into space, more like he was staring at the frame on his desk and not really paying attention to the office around him. The frame was your average, ordinary, everyday dark wood frame; there was nothing special about it. But then, Duo was actually staring at the frame; no he was remembering when the photograph inside the frame had been taken. And what had caused Jason's trouble comment was that the more Duo thought about the picture, the larger the smile on his face grew.

"Okay Duo," started Jason, "what's with the canary look?"

"Hm. Oh, just looking at the picture."

"We noticed. Who are they?"

"Friends," replied Duo.

"Duh!"

"Let's try this another way." Nathaniel began again. "What's with the
pose?"

"Ah. It was taken a year or so ago. We had just finished a case and were leaning against the wall out of the way when someone else with our group, her camera always ready, snapped the picture."

Stephen, who had eavesdropped on part of the conversation muttered, "Yeah right, he's probably lying. No one lets kids have real guns."

"Maxwell doesn't lie," a male voice whispered into Stephen's ear, causing Stephen to jump and spin around to look into the eyes of a young Asian man.

"And who are you? How did you get back here?" Stephen demanded.

Wufei quirked an eyebrow at the man standing in front of him. He could already tell that this guy was basically a jerk. 'How does Duo put up with him,' he wondered. Instead of asking that, Wufei answered, "A friend of Duo's, and I came in through the door."

Still looking smug, Stephen told Wufei that only employees were allowed in the work areas and that he would have to leave. While Stephen was trying to impress upon Wufei that he was not allowed in the work area, Nathaniel and Jason were telling Duo about the yearly lasertag-capture the flag tournament Circle10 sponsored that was coming up in about two months. Duo hadn't been a regular employee the year before so this was the first he had heard about the tournament. Though, noticing Wufei's plight with Stephen and knowing how annoying the man could be Duo called out to them both. Well, he actually called out to Wufei but being nosey and not wanting the "visitor" to get the best of him, Stephen followed Wufei to Duo's desk.

Nathaniel was still talking about the yearly tournament, and Duo was still listening. His interest obviously peaked, but not actually considering the idea of playing. That was, not until Stephen started spouting off about how his team was going to take home the championship. After that, Duo started making plans about how he could play in this tournament.

Jason told Duo about some of the rules, while Stephen continued to make grand proclamations about his team. Wufei just backed out of the crowd a little so he could observe the interactions of everyone in the office. He watched as a young, auburn haired woman slipped through the crowd and laid several file folders and disks on Duo's desk, and then tried to slip away unnoticed. "Hiya Ronnie!"

"So close," she muttered.

From beside her a voice with a hint of a grin behind it, answered, "Yes, but he still saw you."

"Hello Wufei," she smiled to the man standing next to her, and turning back to Duo she also said hello to him. "Going to lunch?" she asked as she turned back to look at Wufei.

"Eventually. Would you care to join us?"

"I really wish I could," she answered, "but I have a meeting with a prospective client in about twenty-five minutes and a case to testify at at two. I'd get Duo out of here before someone comes looking for him."

While Wufei and Ronnie chatted for a moment, Stephen issued a challenge to Duo and his little friends in the picture. Both Ronnie and Wufei overheard the challenge. "Idiot" they both muttered, then looked at each other and smiled.

Looking at her watch, Ronnie spoke up, "As much as I'd love to see Duo go after Stephen, I've got to run. But," pausing to make sure certain people in the crowd weren't paying attention to them, "play in the tournament, knock Stephen on his ass." With that, Veronica Morgan sprinted for the closest door.

Wufei shook his head, turning back to look at Duo and making sure his friend could see him, he nodded. "We're play in the tournament," Duo told the people standing around his desk.

"Very cool," Jason said.

Stephen looked between Duo and the unauthorized visitor and smirked, "We'll see how good you and your friends think you are."

"I'm sure you will," Wufei commented quietly, walking up to sit on the corner of Duo's desk, next to where the picture now sat.

After that, the atmosphere in the office returned to normal as someone asked, "Asher, where's the code for level three?"

Nathaniel looked over his shoulder. "It's on my desk." Looking at the mess on his desk he added, "I'm coming."

"That would be my cue to return to work as well," added Jason. "Bet your team beats the pants off Stephen and his friends."

The grin on Duo's face could easily be described as an evil smirk. "Oh, I think we should be able to manage that." Looking over at Wufei he asked, "Right? Lunch?"

"Yes."

- end -