Author: Ravengirl
Rating: R (for adult themes and language... jeeze, I sound like a freakin' censor)
Pairings: established 1x2, 3x4 and 5x9
Spoilers: Not unless you consider them living through EW to be one.
Warnings: Duo's mouth *rolls eyes*, post EW, yaoi/shounen-ai/boys loving boys/pick your label... they all mean basically the same thing, switching POVs, Preventer fic... sorta
Disclaimer: Y'all know the drill...

A/N: This is a series of vignettes which address some of the more exaggerated characteristics Duo is often given. 02 is seen through the eyes of four friends... and one other who is considerably more.

Deconstructing the Myth

Ignorant Supposition #1: The Mindless Jester

"He's nothing like they say at the Academy."

I looked up at the man standing in my office, a fellow agent so green his badge still had that new-minted shine. He was peering over the thick pile of files he held, at a photo tacked to my crowded corkboard.

Taken at the end of the Eve War, it showed Yuy, Maxwell and myself, standing in front of Wing Zero. As per the usual, 02 was draped all over us, holding a mocking pair of bunny ears behind 01's head and generally hamming it up for the camera.

"To whom do you refer, Agent?"

The boy looked uncomfortable.

"No disrespect intended, Agent Steel. Both of you are, um, highly regarded for tactics and training, it's just... Preventer Shade has a rep for practical jokes 'n stuff, you know? One of our instructors used to say that he never knew when to shut up and wouldn't recognize 'professional' if it bit him."

As soon as the words left his mouth, the kid turned a pasty white that matched his code name. He stared at me with wide-eyed trepidation, waiting for my wrath to fall on his rather deserving head.

Duo isn't the only one whom unwelcome notoriety follows around.

Instead of laying into the young fool, I gave him a tight-lipped smile.

"I could present you a long list of reasons why *not* to believe everything you hear, Agent Blanc, but you'll learn them yourself, eventually. You could do worse than to emulate Shade. The only Preventer with more successfully completed missions on his record is Agent Light... you do know they used to call him the Perfect Soldier?

Although, speaking of names..." I paused for effect, "a man does not achieve a moniker such as 'The God of Death' for no reason... don't you agree?"

His face went from pale to crimson in a matter of seconds, the dark blush clashing rudely with the regulation white button-down beneath his uniform jacket. Stuttering an incomprehensible apology, he scuttled off, nearly running Duo who'd just come through the door over in his haste.

Maxwell shot a puzzled look at Blanc's retreating backside then shrugged and sauntered lazily towards me, take-out sacks in either hand. Tossing me one of the bags, he arched a questioning brow in my direction.

"What's with the newbie? You give him one of your mental wedgies?" A finger wagged itself playfully at me. "Naughty 'Fei... haven't I told you that skewering the other kiddies just ain't company manners?"

I snorted, opening my order to make sure it contained the correct dish. Last time, they gave me lemon chicken instead of pork stir- fry with snow peas and mushrooms. Morons.

"Nothing wrong with him that a few real assignments and a lot more experience won't cure," I muttered.

Duo's eyes warmed with understanding and he gave me what I think of as his 'real' smile: lopsided and rueful with just a hint of self- mockery.

"Don't let 'em get to you, man, they don't know us. All they see is the image, you know? Hard not to, with the bullshit propaganda from the wars backing it up."

Grabbing my hands, he yanked me up from my chair and draped a long arm over my shoulders.

"C'mon, partner, we'll go sit in the park and get some fresh air. All this paperwork's givin' me hives. And I'm freakin' hungry! Let's eat before it gets cold, this time, huh?"

I was laughing as he snatched the still-warm bags and pulled me out the door towards a sunny day. Duo inspires laughter... just not the way most people think.

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