Rating: PG-13
Warnings: 1+2+1, past 1x2x1, angst, language, Relena bashing, sap
Archive: Want it? Take it. Just give me credit, please.
Disclaimer: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants! What does not belong to Emily? Gundam Wing and this song! "Call and Answer" is by the Barenaked Ladies off of their CD Stunt, so please do not sue me or I'll be in debt for a month! Spongebob Squarepants! Spongebob Squarepants! Spongebob Squarepants! Spongebo~ob Squarepaaaaants!
Comments: *Emphasis*, //lyrics//, 'thought', [flashback]...that's it.
This little ficcy is a companion/sequel to my fic "In the End". It was created solely because of the Moment of Rapture fic contest. I honestly did not want to write a sequel, but the pic kicked up my muses and put me to work. ^_^ Enjoy.
Important: If you didn't read "In the End", you will most definitely want to in order to understand anything going on here. Go here before reading this fic.

Call and Answer
by Vinyl Koneko (Emily)

He looked up, amethyst eyes challenging Heero, who was still holding Duo's wrist like a vice. The Japanese youth could see the mental struggle as Duo tried to form words to match the emotions flashing across his features. Heero could see what Duo wanted to say in his eyes. Those heliotrope orbs were the windows to Duo's soul, and at the moment, they looked angry. Dark. Loathing. They looked like they wanted to cause Heero as much pain as he had caused them, but the American seemed to have lost his grasp for expressing himself, when all he could manage was a whimper. "Heero..."

The other didn't know how to respond. It seemed to Heero that he could never find the right words to say at any particular moment. He had never been able to put a name on his thoughts or feelings to share with others, so instead of trying to explain, he just locked up.

' came here to kill yourself. And I think I can see now that it is my fault.'

["I love you."]

'You told me how you felt, and I turned away. I went to Relena. I didn't know why I went to her at the time, but I think I understand now. I was afraid of what I felt for you. With Relena, I knew what she expected of me. She knew I didn't love her the way she thought she loved me. We cared for each other, yes, but Relena wanted me to protect her. Even a pacifist doesn't feel safe in the world she's creating.'

Heero's eyes looked back and made contact with Duo's, not missing the glare the other young man was directing his way. 'I knew where things stood with Relena and I, but it was you and me I was uncertain of. I believe I understand now, but you'll never hear me out if I don't apologize.'

He got down on his hands and knees, hands spaced shoulder-width apart and bent at the elbows, bowing in the traditional Japanese way to demonstrate both the utmost respect and deepest humility. "Duo...moushi wake arimasen."

//I think it's getting to the point where I can be myself again.
It's getting to the point where we have almost made amends.
I think it's the getting to the point that is the hardest part.//

Heero didn't know what response to expect. He felt prone and vulnerable, nose to the sandy surface of the precipice that just moments before almost meant the death of the one he loved. 'Yes, loved, and love. I know that now.

'I always knew in some way. During the war I used the excuse that emotions would get in the way of performing as a pilot to the best of my ability. Since J died and the war ended, I lost the reason to use the only valid excuse I could find, but before I can tell Duo all of this, he needs to accept how sorry I am. He needs to find it within himself to forgive and be able to move on, and if he does find that strength, that courage, Duo is a stronger person than I ever gave him credit for.' Heero looked up carefully from the ground, trying to gauge Duo's reaction.

The other young man wore an expression of pure shock. "Heero? What are you doing?" Duo laughed uneasily, but Heero could tell that it was because the American was trying to ward off the tears that were coming to his eyes.

Heero swore mentally, rising up from his position bowed against the ground into more of an upright kneel. He reached out, gently grasping Duo's hand and stroking the back of it with his thumb. "Duo, what can I do to stop causing you so much pain?"

"Just go away," Duo responded harshly, pulling his hand from Heero's grip and running down from the cliff, towards the sandy shoreline half a mile down the coast.

Heero knew that Duo was angry with him. Hell, pissed off beyond all reason was probably a better way to describe Duo's state of mind, but he could tell that the other young man was challenging him, testing him to see if Heero really was serious about his apology. Heero chased off after him, running as fast as he could in the soft sand which absorbed the strength he fed from his legs to the ground, causing the distance that, while so short, seem so much longer.

He had come to reclaim Duo, and Heero Yuy sure wasn't going to give up without a fight. He just hadn't known how desperate Duo was, and how Heero's impeccable timing ended up saving the other man's life. Duo was still running in the distance. Somewhere along the line, he kicked off his shoes, having an easier time in the sand running barefoot than he did with the soles of his sneakers sliding along the fine grains of the beach.

'Please, Duo, please be able to see that I'm a changed man. Please realize that I need you in order to become the person I would have been if I hadn't been trained my whole life. I can't live without you.'

"DUO!" Heero yelled over the crashing waves. The longhaired man must have heard him because he stopped in his tracks, turning around to face his former partner, companion, and lover. The Japanese man caught up, stopping ten feet away, Prussian blue eyes focused on the tendrils of Duo's hair that had escaped the braid and were blowing about in the ocean breeze. The picture would have been a peaceful one if it weren't for the tension in the air.

"I could never understand you," Duo said just loud enough to be heard over the wind and the waves.

Heero voiced the mantra chanting through his head before he lost his nerve. "Duo, aishiteru."

//If you call, I will answer. And if you fall, I'll pick you up.
And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home. I'll point you home.//

"What?!" Violet eyes were wide. Duo appeared doubtful while at the same time wanting to whole-heartedly believe.

"I didn't know what love was before you," Heero began, hoping it would convince Duo to at least hear him through, but the other man just scoffed.

"What about the high and almighty Relena? You sure fucking left my side for hers pretty damn quickly." Duo was clenching and unclenching his fists at his sides.

Heero slowly shook his head. "Relena and I were never together the way I was with you."

"Of course you weren't. I'm sure ojousan was too pure and innocent to just be used for a good romp in the sack. Duo Maxwell, born and bred street rat of L2, on the other hand-"

"I never thought of you like that!" Heero interjected fiercely. "If I just hung around for the sex I wouldn't be here right now trying to tell you how wrong I was for leaving!"

"Then, damn it, Heero, tell me!"

Heero paused, startled at actually hearing the demand from Duo. The look in the American's eyes was pleading. 'He wants to believe me, but he doesn't know if he can until I show him otherwise.' Heero had to recollect his prior thoughts before beginning to explain himself.

"I loved you, Duo, but I was scared because in loving you I lost control. I couldn't afford that during the war. As far as my training had gone, I knew it was likely that I would not survive the war, and you, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei would have to continue on your own...without me. It was harder for me to accept my own fate when I kept thinking how my death would hurt you. I hated watching you in battle because every time someone took a shot at you I wanted to kill them a hundred times over just for threatening your life."

Duo seemed to digest this information. "So during the war you didn't want feelings to get in the way of duty?" The Japanese man nodded, hoping it was enough for Duo to understand Heero's mental standpoint. "But you still left *after* I said that I loved you, and that was when the war was over *and* we'd been...together for a couple years." Duo raised his eyebrows in an expression for Heero to continue. He couldn't help but feel a little relieved at the motion. 'Hn. Stubborn baka.'

//You think I only think about you when we're both in the same room.
I'm only here to witness the remains of love exhumed.
You think we're here to play a game of who loves more than whom.//

"I was still afraid. Afraid of not living up to your expectations. Afraid of the possibility that another war could start. Afraid of the way I was losing my control to you. Afraid of the fact that my Perfect Soldier facade was slipping and the person who I truly am is a complete stranger that even I don't recognize." Heero hadn't noticed that Duo had ditched his coat somewhere along the beach during their brief run along the shoreline until the other man shivered briefly as a strong burst of cold air came up from the sea. The Japanese man moved closer to the other, kneeling beside him and wrapping his arms around Duo's shoulders. "Afraid that my love for you would never measure up to your unconditional love for me."

Duo turned towards Heero in the embrace. "Then why did you go to Relena?"

"I knew what she wanted of me and that I could give it to her." At Duo's questioning gaze, Heero explained. "Relena doesn't really love me. She just wanted me to protect her and her ideals. As I said, we were never together the way I was with you. I just helped keep her safe for a while, but it didn't make me happy. Only in my misery was I truly able to understand what I had been missing and why."

Duo blinked back tears. "And what was that?"

Heero smiled tenderly, holding Duo's face in both of his hands. "You because I love you."

Violet eyes softened as Duo smiled slightly. "You can be a real asshole, you know. If you had figured that out three years ago you wouldn't be in this mess right now. I nearly died because of you!"

"But I saved your life at the same time. Doesn't that count for something?"

Duo couldn't help but snicker. "See? There you go being an ass again."

"Could you learn to love this ass again?"

"Oh, your ass is fine, I have nothing against that. It's the rest of you I'm unsure about!" Duo couldn't help but laugh.

Heero was practically appalled by the mockery. "I'm being serious!"

"Yeah," Duo replied, throwing his arms around the Japanese man's shoulders, "me too."

//If you call, I will answer. And if you fall, I'll pick you up.
And if you court this disaster.//

They stood like that for several minutes, Heero still reading uncertainty in Duo's eyes. He knew that it would be some time before Duo would be able to trust him again; he even accepted the fact that while he may regain the American's trust, it would never be back to the extent it had been before.

"You know, Heero, this doesn't mean I'll accept you back in my life."

"I know, but I think you will."

Duo narrowed his eyes slightly. "What makes you say that?"

Heero shrugged. "Despite it all, you still loved me. You thought death would be a better alternative to living a life without me, so you took the only escape you had left."

The other man looked pale, murmuring, "If you weren't right I'd say you were being pretty damned cocky."

Calloused fingertips brushed over Duo's cheekbones. "But I know you too well."

"So, hypothetically speaking, I should welcome you back into my life with arms wide open."

"If your only alternative is suicide, I hope you will."

Duo laughed sharply. "I never thought Psycho Suicidal Spandex Boy would be giving me counseling against my committing suicide. There seems to be a strange irony about it."

"This is different..."

"How, Heero? How is it any different?!"

Heero opened his mouth to try and formulate the appropriate response, but the only thing he could think of was, "Your life is worth more than mine."

Duo's eyes narrowed into a glare. "Fuck you, Yuy. Your life may mean jack shit to you, but did you ever think about what I thought?" The American pulled himself out of the other man's embrace, standing to face across the endless expanse of water before them.

"I did. Every time we were fighting, together or otherwise. Every time I saw one of the other pilots I was afraid they'd tell me you had been killed, and the only reason I allowed myself to survive the Colony Wars in the first place was because I knew that you wanted me to!"

//You think it's only fair to do what's best for you and you alone.
It's only fair to do the same to me when you're not home.
I think it's time to make this something that is more than only fair.//

"Then why don't you admit that your life isn't worthless?"

"Because that's what J taught me to believe! Nothing was more important than the cause or the mission. Not a soldier's life and sure as hell not mine! In choosing to fight you already show that you hold what you're fighting for higher than your own life!" Prussian blue eyes widened in shock at what had just been confessed. He didn't even think; he was just so upset with Duo that his response just came out, and in retrospect, Heero realized he should have kept his mouth shut because the American was wincing at something that had been said.

The other's blue-violet eyes seemed sympathetic. "Heero, I'm sorry. I keep forgetting what a sadistic bastard J was."

Heero tried to act nonchalant. "It doesn't matter. He's dead anyway."

Duo approached cautiously, reaching his hand out to Heero's face, forcing their eyes to meet. 'I don't want him seeing me like this. Not remembering the training, anything but the training.' The Japanese man had to force himself to suppress a sob.

"You're different now, Heero. More...vulnerable."

Heero didn't know how to respond accordingly, so he just kept his gaze locked with Duo's. He actually found that he couldn't look away.

//So if you call, I will answer. And if you fall, I'll pick you up.
And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home.//

"Is it too late for us to start fresh?" The Japanese man had a hard time keeping the hope out of his voice. He felt like the odds were in his favor. Duo just wasn't that cruel of a person.

Duo leaned into his body, lying his head on Heero's shoulder. Heero drew his arms around Duo, and slowly they sank to the sand, legs no longer able to support the full weight of their bodies. He felt the American nod into his neck before drawing his face back to look Heero in the eyes.

Amethyst eyes were glistening with unshed tears. Duo seemed to be trying his hardest to blink them away, but he was fighting a losing battle. Duo smiled softly, leaning forward to kiss Heero chastely on the cheek, pulling his head away as if the simple contact with the other man had burned him.

Not satisfied with the simple gesture, Heero grabbed Duo by the chin and forced their mouths together, pouring every ounce of his being into the kiss. Duo's mouth caved under the pressure, and Heero took advantage, both young men rediscovering the way his lover felt and tasted. When they broke to breathe, Duo's eyes were still closed, previously restrained tears running freely down his face.

//I'm warning you, don't ever do those crazy, messed up things that you do.
If you ever do, I promise you, I'll be the first to crucify you.
Now it's time to prove that you've come back here to rebuild.//

"I swear, Heero Yuy, if you fuck this up again..." the threat was never finished. Duo seemed to be unable to find what he had wanted to say. Heero didn't need him to finish in order to understand what he had meant. He had just gotten his lover back, and nothing in the universe could take Duo away from him again. Not death and sure as hell not Heero's own devices.

Duo seemed sick of looking for the words that wouldn't come to his mind, so he pressed forward and kissed Heero with so much passion and intensity that the atmosphere seemed to crack with pure energy alone.

//Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild.
Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild.//

"I love you," Duo breathed softly into his ear before sinking even further to the ground.

"Aishiteru mo," replied Heero, kneeling behind the American with his arms around Duo's shoulders, turning to watch the sun set over the calming sea with his reunited love.

The End
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