Author: Ravengirl
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclamer

Deconstructing the Myth

Ignorant Supposition #2: The Reckless Adrenaline-Junkie

"Sector five clear, boss." I said into my lip-mic, my voice the near-soundless murmur used by agents in enemy territory.

"The intel was clean, then. 01 inside their system yet?"

I glanced over at my partner. Blue-white illumined Heero's face as data scrolled endlessly down the computer screen in front of him.

"Affirmative, 02."

Somehow, we'd never gotten beyond our war-time numerics. They fit like a comfortable Tee soft with years of washing, and whenever any of us worked together, we found ourselves falling into old, familiar patterns.

"I said *no*. You will stay right here until my mark, Agent Draco, and you may consider that an order!"

Maxwell's angry voice hissed into my com, startling me. If you could shout a whisper, he'd just done it.

"02?"

There was a pause.

"Sorry, 03. I'm stuck babysitting you-know-who today, trigger-happy little fuck that he is."

I laughed silently.

Usually Chang would be at Duo's back, sharp and deadly as his code- name. 'Fei was laid-up though ­ bed-bound by a nasty case of strep and his gun-toting girlfriend ­ and damned unhappy about letting us go off without him. Especially when Duo got landed with Jeffrey Dillinger as temp partner.

A senator's kid, Dillinger was as pretentious and arrogant a little weasel as ever I'd had the displeasure of meeting. At twenty-five, with three years of Preventer work behind him, he thought he was the shit and made no secret of his belief that we Gundam pilots were his inferiors in everything up-to-and-including ability.

Never mind that we'd been fighting and killing while he'd been getting his first blow-job in the back seat of Daddy's Beemer.

It stuck in the man's craw that we had tested out of most Academy classes... we'd only needed instruction in the dos and don'ts of Preventer procedure and a run-down on Earth Sphere law.

The five of us regularly defeated the organizations most of our colleagues had worked for. Expecting us to take instruction from them was laughable.

Dillinger ­ or Agent Draco ­ hated our swift advancement through the ranks, and reserved his special brand of malice for Heero and Duo, under whose authority he often fell.

Unfortunately for all of us, his long-time partner had recently been killed in the line of duty, leaving him available for this particular mission.

"Data transfer complete."

I nodded briefly to Heero before turning my attention back to the surveillance screens in front of me. Maxwell and Dillinger were on none of them, not surprisingly. Their job was to make sure our chosen exit remained free of hostiles. Once Heero dropped his virus into the system, all hell was gonna break loose.

"Virus deployment in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... active. Let's go, Verde."

"We're heading your way, 02," I informed Duo.

"Roger that, 03. The back door is wide open. Get your asses out."

We were halfway through the maze of hallways when it happened. Duo's "Shit!" was all the warning we got before the sounds of a fire- fight exploded over our coms.

"02, report!" Heero barked into his mic as we increased our pace.

"Sonnofabitch! Fucking moron moved! Guys, better go to backup. This exit's compromised. I gotta get dumbfuck and myself out fast and you're not gonna be able to do much."

"Negative 02, I am on my way," Heero gritted through clenched teeth.

"Love you too, babe, but I gave you an order," Duo's voice held an intimate, laughing note that clutched painfully at my throat. "I'm lead and if I say go, you go."

The mics crackled as Maxwell returned fire and his erratic breathing told me he was mobile and running.

"Get him out, 03!" he shouted over the noise. "We went over this already!"

"Affirmative, 02. See you on the outside."

I grabbed Yuy's arm as he went by me, halting his rush. He turned on me like an angry leopard, all wild blue eyes, spitting fury, and point-blank aim.

"Don't get in my way 03."

"We don't have time for this 01," I said calmly. "02 trusts us not to fuck up the mission. We have to trust that he can get himself to safety."

We stood there, eyes locked, for what seemed like hours but was probably only a few seconds. Finally Yuy's body relaxed and the gun he had leveled at me lowered.

"Heero, if Duo said he'd meet us, he will," I told him quietly.

He nodded curtly and turned back the way we'd come.

"Let's move."

We all made it out that day. Duo and his much-chastened leg-iron were waiting for us at the extraction point and when Heero solemnly handed Maxwell a detonator, you'd have thought it was a freakin' proposal, the way 02 just lit up.

Blowing the place sky-high wasn't in the plans, but those had been shot to hell and back already and we couldn't afford the possibility of pursuit. The Blackhawk-SR70 sent to retrieve us rose swiftly, a fiery flower blossoming in its wake.

I stared into the heart of billowing flame and listened to the low- voiced conversation going on behind me.

"Don't ever do that again."

"What?"

"Don't doubt me, Yuy. I trained for this shit almost as long as you. And don't forget who hauled *your* ass out of an Alliance hospital, not so many years ago."

"I am sorry. I just..."

A deep sigh.

"I know, man. You got this whole 'protector' thing going on, but you gotta remember: I ain't Relena. I don't need a goddamn knight, I need reliable backup. Tro gave me that today. You didn't. Then I had pansy-ass over there on my hands... remind me to ream him a new one later."

"Alright. Duo?"

"Um?"

"Sorry."

" 'S okay Hee-man. I know you can't help it."

Turning my head slightly, I watched them from under my lashes. They were slumped together, Duo's head on Heero's shoulder, the long braid clenched firmly in 01's hand. Looking at them, all I could think of was Quatre and how much I wanted to get home to him in one piece. Thanks to Duo, I would.

There are several reasons Une regularly designates Maxwell as lead. He pays attention to his fellow agents... makes it his business to know our strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to the mission's advantage. He has the priceless ability to think on his feet. If the original plan doesn't work, he throws it out and comes up with something that does... usually while dodging live ammo.

Yuy and Chang are both loners. They are neither leaders nor followers, and given the choice will work alone. I tend towards that direction, myself. The three of us are respected but not generally liked, and while we are competent at giving direction, it's not our métier.

None of us has Maxwell's flexibility or the engaging personality that allows him to bring disparate attitudes together on a team... and make it work. He is not a by-the-book operative, by any means, and Preventers is the better for it.

Some idiotic desk-jockeys call it 'flying by the seat of your pants' or 'criminal recklessness'. I call it years of experience coupled with a shitload of raw talent... and a little crazy Shinigami thrown in for good measure.

Duo wouldn't be Duo, otherwise.

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