Author: Dorryen Golde PM
Jerome Eugene Morrow's thoughts about a certain Vincent Freeman, along with an alternate ending.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Words: 1,915 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 2 - Published: 12-06-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4700548
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own Gattaca. The parentheses contain quotes from the film.
Jerome Eugene Morrow had never had any reason to call this monstrosity of a house "home". Home had connotations of coziness and belonging. There was nothing homely about the hollow spaciousness, hissing automatic doors, and cold, metallic walls that only seemed to reinforce his self-imposed solitude, all part of a huge metal safe that locked him away from the rest of the world. Or perhaps cage was a better metaphor—safe implied the protection of something valuable, and for a long time Jerome had felt anything but that.
The only time the godforsaken place had come close to feeling like a home was when Vincent moved in. The two of them really had nothing in common, except for a sort of loneliness that clung tenaciously to their bodies, much harder to brush off than the millions of dead skin cells shed every day. Perhaps in the past Jerome would have found the solemn, awkward Vincent quite annoying and worthless. In fact, at the beginning he had gotten a kick out of treating the nerdy degenerate with an obnoxious, supercilious attitude.
(He's right. My eyes are prettier.)
Once they settled into a routine, Jerome decided it felt rather nice to be needed after being an invisible, forgotten member of society for so long. Jerome recalled the day when he realized he was not alone in the world.
Vincent had groaned, hand draped across his face. "He knows." With the tacit understanding only shared between men, Jerome had immediately known what he meant.
"The investigator. He's my brother." Well, that was unexpected. Jerome had never considered that Vincent had a family. The guy was so characteristically solitary that imagining him surrounded by kin was ludicrous. Not so different from yourself, taunted Jerome's mind. As for himself, Jerome didn't need a family. His parents had only cared that he make it to the top, crown himself champion of the world, of mankind. Once the silver medal toppled him from his pedestal, however, he had been erased from their memories. Too shameful! Jerome had wished he could erase himself.
(You know, I wasn't drunk when I walked in front of that car.)
But Vincent had started speaking again. "Some brother he is," he had muttered bitterly. "He never hesitated to prove that he was superior to me, someone with the path to success laid out for him in gold." He had glanced up and caught Jerome peering intently at him, abandoning his façade of indifference. When Jerome had realized he had been caught staring, he had turned away and said lightly, "Who cares about your brother? He has no proof of your real identity. It probably just gets to him that you're getting off this ball of dirt while he's stuck down here examining eyelashes."
At this, Vincent had smiled slightly, placing a hand on Jerome's shoulder. "You're more of a brother to me than Anton could ever be, Eugene."
"Of course. Who else would be willing to spend the rest of their days giving you gallons of blood and piss?" Jerome had tried to sound like his usual cool, somewhat shallow self, always confident, always with the upper hand. But the truth was that Vincent's candid declaration had shaken him to the core. Brother? He'd never had a brother before. The word made strange, foreign echoes in his head.
"What makes you think we could be brothers? 'We look nothing alike,' remember?" Firmly shaking his head, Vincent had given him a knowing, affectionate smile, like the one he had worn the night Jerome had gotten drunk and Vincent had playfully said, "Don't give me a hard time."
Vincent now left Jerome's side to ascend the stairs. Halfway up the winding steps, he had tossed over his shoulder to his handicapped friend,
"Well, we're both invalids now, right?"
At first, Jerome had been offended at being called an invalid, feeling Vincent was ridiculing him for his paralysis. The affronted ex-swimmer had locked himself up in his room, brooding. Eventually, however, the loneliness had become unbearable—he had grown attached to his roommate. Wheeling himself out to where Vincent had been preparing to leave for work, Jerome had said, "Don't you dare go to work disgracing me by looking like a mess. I demand that you fix that tie!"
With a boyish smile, Vincent had cheerfully done as he was told and had gone out the door calling, "See you later, Eugene." And the ice had been broken, just like that.. With a grunt, Jerome had pondered his relationship with the degenerate. Vincent had called him an "invalid" without intending any insult or changing opinions of him. The degenerate was probably the first to accept and befriend Jerome for himself and all his quirks and flaws of temperament.
Brothers. He liked the sound of that.
Before he left, Jerome gave him a small white envelope with the instruction that he was not to open until later. The two friends parted ways feeling uncharacteristically sentimental.
Vincent disappeared out the door, and the house didn't feel like home anymore.
Dr. Lamar shook his head bemusedly. "I don't know what the hold up is. They should have taken care of any discrepancies before the day of the flight. Whatever the case is, though, it'll be at least an hour until you'll be able to board."
Damn, thought Vincent. He didn't want to wait. Waiting meant he had time to think, and there was nothing to distract him from thinking of the people he was leaving behind. Lamar, Irene, Eugene—Eugene!
Vincent eagerly took an envelope out of his coat pocket, finding a small card inside. Opening it, the first thing he noticed was the tuft of dark, wavy hair attached to the paper. Touched, yet somewhat uneasy, Vincent read the note on the other side.
I'm proud of you, Vincent.
His tears took him by surprise. Perhaps that was really what this was all about, or at least part of the reason. Maybe what he wanted most was not to travel in space, but to do something, be someone, that he and his family could be proud of.
(No, not Anton. Name him Vincent.)
The words—written with the arrogant flourish that distinguished Eugene's penmanship—echoed those that Eugene had spoken on one drunken night.
The night that Eugene had admitted to attempting—
No. It couldn't be. With mounting panic, Vincent read on.
I'm proud of you, Vincent.
Jerome Eugene Morrow
Goodbye. Vincent's blood ran cold. Surely not Eugene. Proud, charming, perfect Eugene. The man must have been drunk while writing this.
(I'd never been more sober in my life.)
Dr. Lamar barely had time to jump out of the way as Vincent Freeman bolted past the startled doctor and out the doors of Gattaca.
He would not be a coward. He couldn't back out now, couldn't let Vincent down.
He was no longer needed. Vincent had achieved his dream, and even if he was upset by Jerome's absence, the boy could always find comfort in the arms of Irene the Ice Queen.
Funny. On the brink of committing suicide, and he was making jokes. Why was it so bloody cold in here? The open door of the incinerator looked like arms inviting him to come in and warm himself in its eternal fireplace.
Taking a deep breath, Jerome started to climb in.
"Jerome Eugene Morrow!" a voice cried. A million thoughts sprouted in his mind at this unexpected interruption. First was that he had never heard someone call his name with such concern, such fear for his well-being. Inexplicable warmth flooded through him, and suddenly burning up in scorching heat inside the cramped space was unthinkable. No! Don't back out! You must do this for—
Only then did he recognize the voice. His hands shook and his paralyzed legs, unable to support the rest of his body, gave way to gravity. Jerome Eugene Morrow lay in a heap on the floor, and he had never been more mortified in his life. He hadn't wanted Vincent to seem him like this. Christ, I can't even die with dignity!
Vincent abruptly closed his gaping mouth and advanced towards Jerome, eyes blazing. "How—how could you!" he choked out.
Avoiding Vincent's piercing glare, Jerome murmured, "What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing there?" Vincent exploded furiously, pointing an accusing finger at the open door of the incinerator. Smooth, suave Jerome found himself speechless.
"I—It would be for the best—"
"For what? For me to come home and find you reduced to a pile of ashes?"
"I'm just a burden—"
"You think I would give a damn about my career if my best friend was dead?" Jerome sighed. Vincent walked up to him, knelt down, and helped him into a sitting position.
"Promise you will live for me, Jerome. Promise me. I still need you." Vincent's hands settled on Jerome's shaking shoulders.
He had gone to the stars and back, yet none of the cosmic wonders he had seen had thrilled him as much as did the sight of an enormous, gray edifice—massive, gloomy, home.
"Eugene!" he called jubilantly. He found his friend in his wheelchair before a small coffee table, ben over a bottle of vodka. Vincent slumped with disappointment. He didn't want his homecoming to commence with a drunken Eugene. "You're drunk," Vincent stated glumly.
Jerome looked up, sharp eyes sparking fire. "No, I'm not, you nitwit. I wanted to prove to you that I could stay sober for more than 3 hours straight, so I went through this whole year abstaining from alcohol—and I'm sick of it. Now that you're home, we must get drunk immediately."
A few hours and many bottles later, Jerome lay sprawled on his bed and Vincent was slumped in the bedside armchair. Both men sported lazy, languid smiles on their faces.
"So," Jerome said, making small talk, "how were things in the tin can?"
"Cramped," came the prompt reply. "How were things in this oversized cell?"
This went on for a few more minutes, then silence descended.
Vincent was the first to break it. "I missed you, Eugene."
A smile—a true smile, one not distorted by bitterness and cynicism—dawned on Jerome's face. Only two simple words came out of his mouth, yet they were remarkably poignant to the two lonely souls.