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Journey

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Jerome was first in all things, including his thoughts. He left his so-called "loved ones" behind without a first thought, let alone a second one. When Jerome stepped in front of the car, he wasn't thinking about his parents, his sweetheart, or his friends. He wouldn't have expected them to understand anyway. None of them had his potential. None of them was as gifted in all things. The burden of perfection was his alone. His suicide belonged to him, the same as the damnable silver medal around his neck.

When Jerome discovered he had survived the impact, he wept. So much for perfection.

Jerome found Vincent distasteful when they first met. No -- disgusting. The man dressed poorly, his grooming was deplorable, and he spoke with an irritating whine. Jerome was better than him and better than this tedious, deplorable charade Jerome had subjected himself to playing. Necessity demanded the cruelest things. At least the man was vaguely amusing.

When Vincent agreed to the surgery needed to add the few inches to his height (Of course, he'd be too short!), Jerome began to think the Invalid could possibly succeed, despite his numerous shortcomings.

Watching Vincent work at everything was tiresome. He studied, he exercised, he wrote copious notes. It was exhausting watching him expel all that energy when Jerome could have done it so effortlessly. Had he had the desire. Begrudgingly, he admitted to himself that Vincent at least, had a decent idea of how to get off this miserable rock. A rocket ship into space seemed more sensible now than stepping in front of a car. Still, Jerome's way had a simple elegance that Vincent's complicated scheme lacked.

When Jerome abdicated his name to Vincent, he had a grudging belief that the new Jerome would earn it. That he could perhaps be a Jerome Morrow, if not The Jerome Morrow. Besides, he'd always liked "Eugene" better anyway; 'twas nobler.

The hardest transition to being Eugene was how Jerome was always present. They had been housebound from the beginning of their arrangement until the physical transformation was complete. When they left the house, they left together. Eugene needed and expected to be on the social scene and to his chagrin, he could no longer navigate it on his own. Jerome too often spoke and acted as an Invalid would; he required constant coaching. Eugene pretended reluctance at helping him in those situations. The truth was Eugene was quite good at being himself, but it was fun to watch Jerome squirm and tell wry jokes to ease his tension.

Eugene gradually became accustomed to his presence and even perhaps to enjoy it. He had begun to expect it, no doubt. Consequently, when Jerome left for his interview at Gattaca, Eugene missed him, though he couldn't have said that's what he was feeling.

When Jerome passed the screening at Gattaca, Eugene surprised himself with disappointment. He pitied Jerome that he wasn't judged on his own potential - all that hard work, for nothing. The pity, however, was fleeting, tossed aside with Eugene's usual decision to mark the occasion with alcohol.

The years Jerome toiled at Gattaca were the best of Eugene's life. Jerome, he found, was good company when he wasn't stooped over star charts. He was an excellent cook with wide-ranging tastes and Eugene liked to guess the cuisine by the spices Jerome used. They played chess and Eugene was surprised to find it actually a challenge. They debated the history and ethical philosophy of genetic manipulation; laughed over the inanities of everyday living; and silently wept over poetry. They drank copious amounts of wine and passed out together on the bed. They woke in the morning, lost in each other's bodies.

Jerome's had changed in more than height. Eugene was fascinated with the smooth skin - he'd spread his fingers into the muscles lining Jerome's stomach, savoring their gentle undulation; he'd press his face against the broad pecs over his rib cage and heart and listen to the rapid, pounding rhythm slowly return to normal.

Eugene drank more than usual the evening Jerome announced his mission was a go. He had been drinking at his usual pace, until he noticed the gentle curve of Jerome's lips, as he blew smoke into his wine glass. Those lips spoke of mystery, invited it even. Jerome found himself longing to discover it again, wanting to prolong the long-awaited launch away from the Earth and all her inequalities. But, the discovery would be fleeting, quickly lost like everything of value. He had his own journey to travel.