Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the book The Giver, written by LOIS LOWRY (not me). Please don't sue as this is only meant for fan fiction readers and will earn me not a single dime of profit, I promise. However, if you do chose to sue, I plan to cough on you repeatedly to give you my cold, baste your body in gravy and bread crumbs, and then dump your sorry carcass out of my truck in the middle of the park for the pigeons to eat you.

Author's Notes: This was inspired by the following dudes and/or dudettes: without permission, Pink Corisu, Neko4, Veronica Catharine Richards, Mizu T. Kantou. Your fics on the Giver were very enjoyable to read over and over again and I hope I do justice to this category as you five have.


1) This is very much a slash fan fiction. I know you've heard it before, but in case you haven't it means that there is going to be some physical action or love between two people of the same gender and this case it's two boys. Read of your own freewill, if you don't like slash, don't be dumb and read it anyway, at some point you won't like the guy/guy action.

2) I must also warn that this fic is very long. I know that is can be a chore or exciting, depending on the person. I'm sorry for this, but I could not help myself, I got too into it. Let me know how it fared.

Summary: Asher muses about the aspect of his life that involves his childhood friend Jonas. In the wake of the recent death of his friend, he can't help but recall some of the most enlightening and emotional moments of his life, all through the influence of his friend. Certain moments between them are told through his eyes.




***Stuff***=scene change of the past

~Stuff~ lectures from their instructors.

*+*Stuff*+*=passage of time in the present

¤-¤-¤Stuff¤-¤-¤=dream sequence

Sixty Seconds of Perplexity by Evolutionary Spider

The sensation of a breeze flew across Asher's skin, but he was too wrapped up in his thoughts to notice. His vision did not register what he was seeing, his eyes blank from deep thought over the recent events in his life. His father and mother rode beside him and he paid attention to the walkway as he and his family continued their idle ride back to their dwelling. He glanced behind him to see Phillipa had already fallen asleep in the child seat attached to his father's bike.

She looked peaceful and joyful. 'No' Asher thought in dismay, 'It isn't joyful, the correct word is...content. Because she is a asleep, she looks peaceful and content.' Having corrected his error, he gave a final glance at his sister, before looking forward again. After all it would not do for him to crash or fall from his bike, due to his inattention and clumsiness.

All three pulled up to their dwelling and slowed down to park their bikes into the bike port. His mother unbuckled Phillipa from the child seat and carried her slowly into their home, trying not to wake her. His father gave him a calm smile as he looked at him. Asher returned the gesture, but inside it didn't feel as sincere as it usually would've been.

Inside he was a small storm of odd sensations and feelings, all coursing through him, confusing and scaring him. He never remembered being in such an intense emotional state in his whole life and frankly he felt lost and alone. Perhaps during tonight's sharing of feelings, his parents could help him sort out his baser emotions.

Once inside his home, he walked directly towards his room, not sparing a glance at his family or what they were doing. Once inside the solitude of his room, he laid flat on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. He went over the events of the day and could not understand why he felt the way he did.

Today had been an enjoyable day from the start. He remembered how happy his family had been when the announcement over the speaker came, "TODAY IS DECLARED AN UNSCHEDULED HOLIDAY." Their faces lit up into smiles at the knowledge of being able to spend a relaxing day with nothing to do.

He spent the day playing with Phillipa and other children that he knew from his training at the Recreation Center. While their parents were at the plaza with other adults, they spent hours playing various games in the park. He felt happy and free and felt like a child again, even though he technically was an adult now. Being with the younger ones, brought him back to the days when he was their age, as he enthusiastically participated in their games.

When Fiona came with her younger brother Bruno, he stopped playing and had stopped long enough to talk with his friend. The two sat politely together on one of the park benches, watching their siblings play. Bruno was sitting in the sandbox, giggling cheerfully as he waved his arms about with his toy shovel, throwing sand every which way and on himself. Phillipa seemed to show concern for the little Two, despite being only a year older herself, but continued making her sand castle.

Fiona smiled as she turned her head to Asher, "Our siblings seem to get along well enough." Then as if an afterthought she added, "Despite being at such a young age, your sister seems to be a caring little girl." Asher looked back at her with a smile as he spoke, "Your brother seems like he's going to grow up to be a handful like me."

Fiona smiled after hearing that, but said nothing else. Asher snuck a glance at her from the side of his vision. She seemed as content and calm as she usually was. The posture of her legs together with her hands in her lap, did not betray anything of what she could be thinking about. He would say that she looked the same, but that would be a lie. He had always been several inches taller than her, but it seemed that this year she was going through a growth spurt. As they now sat side by side, he realized how she was almost exactly his height. They would continue to grow of course, but the thought of never noticing how much Fiona had changed, unsettled him.

After that small revelation about his female friend, things went back to their carefree state when she invited him for a game of catch. He spent the later hours of the day talking with Fiona, playing with her and other children of the community until his parents came to take him and Phillipa back to their dwelling. The ride itself had been uneventful, his mind anywhere but where it should be.

He shifted to his side and looked over to his desk to see his training folder neatly laid on top. He always kept it handy because of his training. While there were certain areas in his training that were fairly easy to comprehend, other areas were not. When he first received the folder, he had been relieved to see that it did not contain as much information as that of others, easing his mind from worries over his assignment's difficulty. His Ceremony of Twelve had gone very smoothly and was a memory he enjoyed. This year, the weeks leading up to the ceremonies had been something he had not expected.


"Asher!" came the shout from someone nearby. The sound of a bike breaking and being dropped reached his ears. "Hey Ash!"

Asher moved from his hidden position, to peek over the bushes and see who was calling his name. He smiled when he saw that Jonas was standing in the field unprotected. Just as he was about to warn Jonas, a Nine named John made firing sounds and caused a female Eleven named Tanya to stagger forward from her hiding spot. Now that John had gotten her, she fell to the ground dramatically.

Wanting to scare his friend, he stood from his hiding spot and yelled out a "Blam!" Jonas turned around to watch him. Asher aimed his imaginary weapon at Jonas and kept running from one tree to the next, waiting for his friend to retaliate. "Blam! You're in my line of ambush, Jonas! Watch out!" he yelled with glee.

Jonas finally reacted as he moved behind Asher's bike. Asher watched as the rest of the children came forward yelling their attacks. Both sides met in a clash of shouts and fell down in exaggerated poses after being hit, giggles emanated from their bodies that littered the grass.

Jonas walked forward into the field and Asher saw it as his chance. With a big yell from behind a tree he attacked, "You're hit, Jonas! Pow! You're hit again!" He watched as Jonas stood there and did nothing. By now the other children raised their heads or stopped attacking to look at Jonas, unsure of what do to. A male Five raised an imaginary rifle and made an attempt to destroy him, but nothing worked. Asher felt confused and a bit annoyed when he saw that Jonas had made the little boy upset.

After Asher's assignment, he saw the interactions between the children as his job, his duty to observe and participate in. Asher watched the other children look at each other nervously. Some looked worried that they had done something wrong towards Jonas. Many grew impatient with the inactivity and finally went on their bikes to ride away.

Asher looked at his friend in angry confusion. He had never seen his friend act so strange before. Jonas was the one who usually acted logically, yet recently his disposition was something that was beginning to worry and anger Asher. He hadn't played with or seen much of Jonas because of the other boy's Receiver of Memory training, and when the chance finally came, Jonas had to spoil their time for games.

He walked toward the other boy who looked like he was struggling to not cry. Fiona asked if there was something wrong with Jonas, trying to sooth the emotional boy. "You ruined it," Asher said letting his anger and irritation show through.

"Don't play it anymore," Jonas pleaded.

Asher felt his anger increase. 'Why does it matter what game we play?,' he thought. "I'm the one who's training for Assistant Recreation Director," Asher pointed out angrily. "Games aren't your area of expertness."

"Expertise," Jonas corrected him automatically.

"Whatever. You can't say what we play, even it you are going to be the new Receiver." He quickly realized his error and looked warily at Jonas as he mumbled out, "I apologize for not paying you the respect you deserve."

"Asher," Jonas said. Jonas spoke to him again, but this time in a different tone than the one he'd used before. "You had no way of knowing this. I didn't know it myself until recently." Asher did not understand what he meant, but was unnerved by his friend's response. "But it's a cruel game. In the past, there have-"

"I said I apologize Jonas." His voice cut through the air, loud and clear, demanding what he was expecting. Asher did not understand why his friend believed he was exempt from giving him the usual courtesy in apologies.

Jonas sighed and wearily said, "I accept your apology, Asher."

Fiona, wanting the slight tension to dissipate, asked "Do you want to go for a ride along the river, Jonas?" She was biting her lip in nervousness. Jonas stared at them both, before he shook his head. Asher felt a bit calmer at the response. He did not want to be around his friend at the moment. He and Fiona turned and went onto their bikes and rode away from the field, and from Jonas. A small part of Asher's mind told him that he should have stayed, but the thought disappeared just as easily as it came the closer they came to the community.


He had kept that memory pushed aside, never thinking much about it. The times he did, he only remembered how his anger had seemed unimportant to Jonas. In truth, he felt obtuse around the other boy. There seemed to be an air around his friend that said he knew more than he was letting on, that he was better somehow. He didn't understand the feeling and he certainly didn't like it.

His interactions with Jonas and Fiona had taught him many things, like friendship and interdependence. Fiona was always a model citizen; a good student, a good friend, calm and friendly to everyone in the community, and most importantly of all someone who obeyed the rules. Jonas was very much the same way. He was a top student in their studies, a very good friend and was a caring and respectful person to everyone. He upheld the rules like no one Asher had ever seen before.

It was because of this that he had spent much of his life emulating himself to be like them. He wasn't always up to standards like them, but his efforts did help him come far from his beginnings. He supposed that was why the strange behavior in Jonas throughout the year had thrown him off balance. He admired his friend very much, but soon after the Ceremony of Twelve he also began to notice his friend's different behavior.

Asher had once seen Jonas backtrack into his house, just like he had done many times before himself, to go back and take his pill. It had gone on much the same way for some time. It had only been a months ago that Asher saw the truth.


Asher had been coming back from an errand to the Hall of Open Records. He had retrieved the correct information for his superiors and took a shortcut walking alongside the community's river banks. He had been relatively alone until he spotted Jonas ahead. He was about to call his friend's attention, but stopped when he saw what Jonas was doing.

Jonas pulled out a small jar, much like the ones used in his science and technology studies. Jonas opened the lid and shook out the contents, letting them fall into the river. It was only until he walked a bit closer that he realized the contents had been Jonas's pills for his Stirrings. By the amount he saw, Asher realized that Jonas had not taken his pills in quite some time. He had been surprised by the scene in front of him and had waited until Jonas was done to call his friend's attention.

Jonas turned around surprised to find Asher standing behind him. Asher asked his friend what he was doing by the river and the other boy had casually answered that he had only been there to think. Asher's eyes widened when the other boy had quickly bid his farewell, excusing himself to go to his training. Asher had waved off the departing Jonas, watching him go he had felt confused and betrayed.


That was the first time he ever remembered his friend lying to him. He knew he should have gone to report Jonas for the high infraction of the rules, but at the time the whole situation had thrown him for a loop. He did not understand why his friend had so flagrantly violated the rules and began to wonder if it was because of his training. He wondered if because of the high position Jonas's assignment gave him, breaking the rules about lying and pills was allowed.

Now that he thought about it, soon after Jonas's assignment—his selection to be exact—the other boy had broken several rules, but nothing ever happened to him and he had never been chastised for them. The one that stood out most in his mind was when Jonas had been particularly rude toward him. He didn't know if it was intentional or not, but he had still felt uncomfortable about it all.


"Asher," Jonas said one morning. Asher turned his attention from the bike port to Jonas. He saw his friend pointing toward a gathering of bushes and flowers, "look at those geraniums planted near the Hall of Open Records." He had walked a bit forward to look at the flowers in question, but had seen nothing out of the ordinary. He had been about to speak, until he felt Jonas's hands on his shoulders. He had jumped a little at the warm contact and turned his head to see what his friend was doing. To his surprise Jonas was not even looking at him, but was concentrating on the geraniums instead.

"What's the matter?" Asher asked uneasily. "Is something wrong?" His friend's behavior including the physical contact had begun to make him uncomfortable. He moved away from Jonas's hands. It was extremely rude for one citizen to touch another outside of family units. Jonas knew that as well. 'Why was he touching me then?' Asher thought in curiosity. He saw a disappointed look on his friend's face from his actions and for a second he regretted causing his friend's sadness, despite the reason being a rather rude one.

"No, nothing. I thought for a minute that they were wilting, and we should let the Gardening Crew know they needed more watering." Jonas sighed, and turned away from him. He watched the other boy walk back to the bike port, seeing a sad stride in his step.


The whole situation was only a few minutes of his day. Nothing in the grand scale of time that was his life. Jonas never mentioned the incident afterwards and that was fine with Asher, not understanding it much himself. He never asked his friend what prompted his actions. At the time he was so uncomfortable that he didn't think about it much. He had simply let it slid through his mind and had continued on as carefree and happy as usual.

He knew why it had resurfaced in his mind now and it led to more memories of Jonas and himself. Memories of Jonas, Fiona and himself as they grew up were easy to think about, such as when the trio had met and become friends, the many times Jonas and Fiona helped him in his studies, and the times when he broke small rules but they did not tattle on him. His two friends had always been there for him in times of need and comfort. He did the same for them as well, but unlike him, his friends rarely had many problems that they didn't solve themselves. Then again, there was always a rare time or two with his friends. That last time with Jonas was one he never expected and even now he doubted he would ever understand.


Asher rode away carefree and happy as he usually did, when he was on his way to the park. His happiness could be seen in the way he swerved to and fro in loops with his bike. The usual training he received at the Recreation Center was cancelled today and he had the rest of the day to himself. He turned the corner of the Auditorium, waving cheerfully to a group of Fives that were walking the opposite way. He was about to turn the corner again when something caught his attention. He braked quickly almost losing his balance and squinted toward the bridge that connected the community to the other side.

He saw a figure stand in the middle of the bridge, gazing out over the water. He rode slowly toward the bridge, getting closer to the figure as well. When he saw it was Jonas, he rode quicker to the other boy and parked his bike on the side of the bridge next to Jonas's. He looked around in worry, afraid that someone would come and chastise both of them for being there with no approved reason.

Seeing no one around, he took several slow steps toward the other boy His footsteps made little sound as he came closer. Jonas turned alert eyes on him, but they softened after he saw who it was. Asher stood there unmoving, waiting to see what his friend would do next. Jonas gave him a small smile and walked toward the other boy, stopping a few feet in front of him. Asher grinned in return and was the first to speak, "Hey, Jonas."

"Hey Ash." Jonas gave him a small smirk, "What are you doing here? I thought you hated going near the bridge."

"I don't hate it. I'm just afraid I'll one day fall over and no one will be around to help me. I always sink because I'm not very bouncy."

"Buoyant." Jonas corrected.

"Whatever." Asher shrugged as he continued, "The point is I just don't like to go near the river." He put his hands into the pockets of his pants and moved back and forth on the heels of his feet. "What about you? Lately you're always near the river. You're not planning on jumping in are you?"

Jonas looked at him, before just giving a loud laugh. Asher felt happy making his friend laugh, a sound he hadn't heard as of late. After Jonas had calmed down, he looked at Asher in a scrutinizing gaze. It looked like he had made up his mind on something and had smiled in anticipation.

"Asher do you know that as the Receiver-in-training, I'm allowed to ask anything of anyone, rude or not? If I ask someone in the community something they must answer honestly," he said, taking a step forward.

"Yes, I know that," Asher said, wondering where this was going. "It's something that was clearly stated at the end of my instructions and procedures folder. WHEN IN THE PRESENCE OF THE RECEIVER-IN-TRAINING OR THE RECEIVER, YOU MUST BE RESPECTFUL AND IF QUESTIONED BY THEM, YOU MUST ANSWER HONESTLY AND ACCORDINGLY," Asher recited. Jonas nodded in response.

"Is there something you need to ask me?" he asked nervously.

"Ash, come with me." Jonas said turning around and walking across the bridge to the other side. Asher's eyes widened in apprehension and he felt scared someone would see them breaking the rule about leaving the community. He shifted from foot to foot, his indecision noticeable. He saw Jonas reach the other side and turn around to look at him. Asher's feet moved of their own accord as he walked toward the other boy, their gazes locked, his face unsure and Jonas's of determination.

As he came closer, Jonas began to walk again, looking straight ahead. The two walked side by side, Jonas a little bit ahead, while Asher observed all that was around him. They walked on the road that led out of the community before going left into the forest that surrounded it. They walked for half an hour and Asher began to grow worried by seeing the more trees they passed. He was about to voice his concerns, but Jonas spoke first, "We're here." He moved behind a thick shroud of branches and Asher was left alone. He bit his lip once again and just trudged forward, moving through the branches, only to find an exotic sight.

He looked all around him to see that the flat ground was raised into a slight mound that led to the river. There was a bank on both sides just like in the community, but unlike the river there, the one here was very noisy. Asher saw a tall cluster of rocks, where the water fell down in great amounts and flowed forward. "This is where the river begins?" he said aloud.

"Yes," Asher jumped at the sound of Jonas's voice and turned around to see that Jonas had taken off his tunic and shoes, and was only in his pants, "This place is called a waterfall."

Asher quickly averted his eyes from Jonas's shirtless body, "What are you doing, Jonas?!" He felt rude for looking at the other boy's body and was about to apologize, when Jonas moved directly in front of his line of vision. Asher looked up in surprise, but instead of seeing the embarrassed look on Jonas's face, he saw a smile instead.

"Take off your shirt Asher. I'm going to teach you how to swim," Jonas said as if it was the most normal thing to say. Asher's mouth sputtered to work. His friend must have been joking, or out of his mind to suggest such an idea. The area wasn't even designed for proper swimming instruction. "You can't teach me here. The water is moving away and...and w-we don't have the proper accouters."

"Accoutrements." Jonas corrected smiling. While he seemed sure of himself on the outside, inside Jonas was starting to wonder if he should've dragged Asher with him. He realized that if they were caught like this he would be chastised. Asher would be punished more severely and the council could so far as to release him. He shuttered at the grotesque thought. He would never want that horrific fate to befall his friend, but he knew that he had to do this.

"Asher, please do as I ask." The other boy looked at him as if he'd grown an extra head. They stared at each other for several minutes before the other boy sighed. He kicked off his shoes and slowly pulled his tunic over his head, revealing his own smooth chest. Asher hugged his naked torso in embarrassment and shame, not liking the way Jonas looked at him. Jonas realized he would have to be firm with Asher for this to work. He stood behind Asher and forcefully pushed him into the water. He quickly dived in himself and swam towards Asher who was sputtering upwards.

Asher moved about wildly, trying to stay afloat. He felt himself slipping until he felt a pair of arms encircle his torso. He tensed in the hold Jonas had over him before struggling against him too. He pushed away from Jonas and ended up sinking once more. Jonas's eyes widened in fear, his emotions running high as he dove back into the water. He saw Asher's form moving wildly in the water. He swam deeper to reach Asher, the other boy saw him and tried to move toward his outstretched hand. Jonas clasped his hand on Asher's upper arm and took a hold on Asher's body. He swam upward pulling the other boy with him.

They both shot upwards taking big gasping breaths and pants of air. Jonas held on tightly to Asher's body and the other boy did the same to him. Asher finally opened his eyes and let out a gasp of sheer awe. His eyes looked around wildly at the water, the banks, the trees, the sky, the structure Jonas explained was a waterfall, seeing them all change before his eyes. He blinked repeatedly and tried to discern what was happening. It wasn't their shape or form that changed necessarily, it was some other characteristic he couldn't describe.

"Jonas, something's happening to everything," he said worriedly. He pulled a bit away from Jonas's hold on him to look at the other boy. His mouth opened slightly as he saw that the change happened to his friend as well.

Jonas opened his eyes and saw the world's colors fade in front of his eyes. He saw Asher's eyes looking at him in confusion and he quickly concentrated, pulling back the memories of color. Asher saw the thing that had taken over his vision clear up and saw everything look the same again.

Jonas blinked several times and was able to see the normal colors again. He pulled his friend with him to the embankment and helped him get out of the water. Asher fell back on the grass, his tired body outstretched as he caught his breath. He remembered what happened with his vision and sat up quickly. "Did you see what I saw Jonas?" he asked looking directly at the other boy. Jonas looked him in the eye and Asher could see he was unsure about answering. Asher moved closer to Jonas his voice pleading, "Please Jonas, tell me what that was?"

Jonas looked into Asher's brown eyes seeing the other's desire to know the truth. He looked down toward the water, seeing his reflection and he was struck with an idea. He motioned Asher to stand up and look in the water. "Ash, when you look inside the water, what do you see?" Asher looked in the water, "I see you and me." Jonas nodded and took a big breath. He realized that if both of them were in tune, he could pass on the memory of color onto Asher.

"Do you want to see the change again?" Asher bit his lip, before he nodded slowly. "Ok Asher. I'm going to concentrate, but I need you to relax. I'm going to let you see that thing again." he said smoothly.

"How?" Asher asked a bit excited. Now it was Jonas's turn to bit his lip in apprehension. He hoped his friend would comply, but had a nagging doubt he wouldn't. "I need you to give me your hands." He held his own palms up, toward Asher. Asher was reminded again of their unclothed state and was about to cover his torso again, until he noticed that Jonas was in the same state of nudity, but didn't seem to notice or care. He took a big breath and hesitantly placed his hands over Jonas's. Jonas gave him a small smile as he clasped Asher's hands. He closed his eyes in deep concentration.

Asher prepared himself and closed his eyes to relax. He felt a ticklish sensation course through him and he opened his eyes to see that the world had changed again. This time he looked around at everything. Again, nothing about the structures themselves, but the strange quality returned in full force. He gazed out over his reflection and saw that he had changed too. His pants looked dark and his skin had an odd tint to it. He saw that his dark eyes had become a lighter shade somehow. What surprised him most was the shade of his hair. Just as Jonas had eyes of a lighter shade than most in the community, Asher had hair of a lighter shade. As he gazed over the water, the difference in his hair seemed to stand out more.

Asher tried to think of words to describe what he was seeing. Everything seemed so strong in vibrancy, ethereal, and to Asher's confusion, more alive. His gaze returned to his friend and he felt guilty as he looked at Jonas's body, but did not look away.

He studied his friend's appearance. His pants were just as dark with moisture as his own. Jonas's skin had a slightly darker tint than his own and his hair was darker than his as well. The water from Jonas's hair rolled down his eyelids, to the sides of his face. Looking at Jonas as a whole, he looked....otherworldly.

Jonas opened his eyes and looked at Asher. He briefly smiled at him in return and Asher saw, how striking Jonas's eyes were. The quality made them shine brighter and enhance their clarity. He saw his reflection in Jonas's eyes and felt himself getting lost in them, the quality growing stronger as he looked. Jonas's eyes widened suddenly and a panicked look came to his face. Asher suddenly felt like energy was being drawn out of him, he noticed the change starting to fade again and tried to pull it back.

"Let go, Asher," Jonas implored. Asher dropped his hold on the sensation and let the rest be taken out of him. When he opened his eyes again he saw that it was completely gone and everything appeared normal again. Jonas's hold on Asher's hands loosened and he began to feel weak. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as his body plunged into the water below.

Asher yelled out to him, but the other boy simply floated farther and farther away, still unmoving. Jonas's body floated towards the waterfall and Asher knew the force of the water would push him down. Without thinking Asher jumped into the water, but he panicked however, when he saw Jonas's body slip underwater.

His arms and legs moved by themselves, propelling him to the spot where Jonas was. He grabbed the other boy's forearm and used as much strength as he had to pull the other boy up. Asher held on tight to Jonas as they went under the waterfall, both were pushed underwater again. He kicked upwards and both boys shot up on the other side. Asher shook his head to clear the water from his face and saw that they were floating toward a dark enclosing with a hard looking surface. He struggled to pull Jonas and himself up on the floor of the enclosing. With the last vestiges of his strength, he laid Jonas down as comfortably as he could.

He grew scared when Jonas still hadn't awoken. He put his hear to his friend's mouth, but felt nothing. Lowering his head on Jonas's chest, he closed his eyes and concentrated as hard as he could. Then he heard it, albeit faintly and barely undetectable, the sound of a heartbeat. He grew scared it would slip away and quickly thought about how to resuscitate his friend.

~The anatomy of the warm-blooded mammal is quite complex. It is through the electrical impulses in the brain that organs work properly and the functions of circulation and respiratory can be carried out. The heart pumps oxygen in the system through circulation, but none of this would be possible however, if there was no air in the lungs. Lack of oxygen in the lungs is what causes the heart to decrease in palpitation and if not supplied in time, the organism will die.~

'That's it!' he thought. Asher titled Jonas's head upwards and opened the boy's jaw. He took a deep breath, silently promising to apologize profusely afterwards, and bent down to cover Jonas's mouth with his own. When their mouths touched he exhaled the air into Jonas, then remembering the lesson on how the lungs worked, and he pushed the boy's chest. He repeated the process four times and bent his head over Jonas's chest, but didn't hear anything. His fear grew and he stayed completely still to hear for a heartbeat. When he heard none he pushed harder on Jonas's chest, willing the boy's heart to beat. He gave one last attempt and filled his lungs with as much oxygen as he could hold and bent down to breathe into Jonas again.

Jonas's eyes stirred and he felt himself being pulled away from a strange darkness by something hard hitting his body. His mind was drowning in the darkness, but suddenly a gust of wondrous, life-giving air filled his lungs and he couldn't help but greedily take it all in. He awoke from his haze at the very moment Asher's mouth descended on his. The other boy's mouth opened and he breathed into Jonas's.

His eyes widened at the sight of Asher's face in such intimate contact with his own. His mouth accidentally rubbed against Asher's in response to the air being blown into his lungs. Asher opened his eyes in surprise and broke the contact quickly. Jonas sat up to face the other boy, an odd look on his face that Asher thought was anger.

He jumped back guiltily and Jonas could see a red tint color his cheeks as he babbled, "Jonas! I-I saw you fall into the river, but you floated away from me before I could reach you. I jumped in to get to you, but then w-we floated toward that thing you call a w-waterfall and were pushed under. Somehow we ended up on this side, and I pulled us out of the water. When I checked over you, you weren't breathing and your heart had stopped, so I remembered what we learned in our science studies about our lungs. I was afraid you'd die, so I kept b-breathing air into you ,to see if that would work, and I kept hitting your chest to make your lungs and heart contract. I didn't mean to be so rude and touch you like that, I apologize greatly for-"

Asher effectively stopped talking when Jonas wrapped his arms around him and held onto him tightly. Jonas felt a smile come to his face at his friend's bravery in saving him. Asher shivered against Jonas's body and for the first time Jonas felt the cold around them. He felt content at the physical contact he was experiencing with his friend, even more so when Asher willingly encircled his arms around him as well.

Jonas's hands slightly slid down Asher's smooth back, making Asher shiver at the ticklish sensation. The sound affected Jonas in a way he didn't understand. He repeated the action slowly and reveled in feel of Asher's soft skin on his hands. He knew this feeling and had felt it many times before. The Giver had transmitted memories of human contact used to express feelings, actions called punches, kisses and, like what they were doing now, hugs. He knew the pills for his Stirrings were meant to repress hormonal imbalances that would cause him to crave human contact and lust after others. He hadn't taken them in a long time, however, and his desire for more physical contact was being directed toward his friend.

Asher shivered again at the things Jonas was doing to him. He couldn't help his reactions as he made another noise against Jonas's ear. His mind was telling him that what he was doing was wrong, but his body wanted more contact with Jonas because it was starting to feel pleasurable. These strange feelings were familiar to him, a distant memory of sensation that felt just like when he had his Stirrings for the first time. The acute wanting returned in full force, but instead of wanting to be pressed up against Fiona, he wanted to be pressed up against Jonas. He briefly wondered if the pills were losing their fight to suppress his urges.

While he enjoyed Jonas's ministrations, he wanted something more, something he didn't quite know how to voice or what to call it. Jonas broke the contact between them and Asher shuddered from the loss of body heat. "I want to kiss you Ash," Jonas said. His voice sounded husky to him, but he ignored it.

Asher looked at him in confusion, "Kiss? What's a kiss?" "It's a gesture that shows how much the two doing it like each other. I want to kiss you because of the way I feel about you," Jonas finished in a tempting voice.

"How do you do it?" Asher asked with nervousness coating his voice. Jonas pulled his friend to stand up with him. He recalled one of the memories that the Giver had explained was of two youths kissing to express a mutual feeling of attraction sometimes called love or in some cases lust. Going by instinct, he stood directly in front of his friend and pulled the other boy's shoulders forward. Their noses brushed up against each other as Jonas titled his head to touch Asher's lips with his own.

*+*10 seconds*+*

Jonas felt Asher's arms encircle his waist and press his lips more enthusiastically onto Jonas's own.

*+*20 seconds*+*

Jonas moved his arms to Asher's neck, as he remembered seeing one of the youths doing in the memory. His body came closer to Asher's and he started to rub his mouth against the other boy's.

*+*30 seconds*+*

Asher was surprised at first, but began to move his lips in response to Jonas's 'kiss'. In response to the stimuli, he felt a tingle run through the organ between his legs. He surprised both of them by rubbing himself against Jonas's body to relieve the tension. Both shivered at the friction their pants made.

*+*40 seconds*+*

Jonas had known what he was doing, until Asher began to slowly rub against him. The pleasurable feelings from Asher only increased his desire and made him moan in response. The more their hips came in contact, the more Jonas's pants suddenly felt too tight. He imagined that Asher probably felt the same.

*+*50 seconds*+*

Both boys broke the kiss in a flurry of desire. Jonas began to slid his pants down, letting them fall in a wet flop on the floor. He relished the small freedom from being constricted and looked back to see Asher politely looking away. Jonas put his hands on the top of Asher's pants. Asher looked at Jonas, seeing his silent permission to go further. Asher placed his hands on top of Jonas's and helped him slid the constricting pants off to the floor.

*+*60 seconds*+*

"What's happening to us Jonas?" Asher asked, as his eyes racked over Jonas's body freely.

"I don't know," Jonas said as he too looked up and down Asher's body.

"Whatever it is, it's starting to hurt. What do we do now?" Asher asked the younger boy.

Jonas looked around them before he spoke, "I think we should lie down." Asher nodded enthusiastically. His desire for more skin contact with Jonas was clearing his mind of logical thought at the moment. As he lowered Jonas down on the floor something smooth brushed up against his stomach and Jonas's mouth opened in surprise, a small moan escaping.

"What's wrong Jonas? Did I hurt you?" he asked worriedly as he was about to get up, but he was pulled right back down again. Jonas pushed his hips up to meet his own, which made their supposedly useless male organs brush up against one another. Both moaned out in ecstasy at the tingles of pleasure the contact gave them.

Asher couldn't the soft brushes anymore and began to push and rub his hips on Jonas. Jonas wrapped his legs around Asher's torso and did the same. They moved in reckless abandon, their moans and groans muted by the sound of the waterfall crashing down nearby. Jonas's nails scratched Asher's back, but Asher ignored the small pain as he sped up in his movements. He looked to see Jonas's writhing form below him. Jonas's lips were slightly parted, his breath coming out in pants on Asher's face.

Jonas opened his eyes to see Asher's flushed face staring down at him. He lifted his neck to give Asher another kiss on the lips. Their mouths molded together and Jonas felt Asher fight for dominance in the kiss. He felt like he was trying to reach something he didn't understand. He raised his hips a bit more and gave several hard thrusts against Asher's body. The hard caresses their bodies made in tandem, the gratifying friction, the smoldering heat, all felt heightened as they struggled to reach some peak their bodies craved. Asher broke the kiss with a soft cry of completion and fell numbly on top of Jonas. Jonas followed soon after with a shiver of satisfaction that ran through his whole body.

The two stayed unmoving in that position for several minutes, both feeling exhaustion take over their sated bodies. Asher rolled off Jonas and let the other boy catch his breath. He felt something sticky coating his legs. Lifting his head slightly, he saw that some substance had shot out from both his and Jonas's body.

Jonas rolled over and hugged Asher's warm body to his own. His body shook slightly and Asher lifted his head to see that Jonas was crying. He quickly sat up in worry and asked, "Jonas," he tried to get the younger boy to look him in the eye, but his bangs had fallen over his eyes. "Jonas," he repeated firmly. Jonas lifted his head to meet the other's boy's concerned gaze with his own sad one. "Are you in pain? Why are you crying? Is there something I can do?" he asked in rapid succession.

Jonas rubbed the tears from his eyes and sniffled once, before he calmed down again. "Thank you Asher. You showed me that what I'm doing is right. I wasn't sure about it, but now I am. I apologize for any pains I caused you, Ash."

Asher struggled to say something in return, but was confused by what the other boy had said. "You didn't cause me pain, Jonas. On the contrary, I learned how to swim today because of you," he said in a cheerful manner that made Jonas smile. Jonas leaned in again, to give Asher a deep and passionate kiss. The other boy responded equally in turn to Jonas's attentions and felt disappointed when the soft connection was broken a minute later. Jonas gave him a small sad smile as he spoke the words he'd been waiting to say for so long, "I love you, Asher."

He gave his friend one final tight hug and whispered into the other boy's ear a soft goodbye. With that said he grabbed his pants and jumped through the waterfall, plummeting to the water below. Asher was shocked and confused by what his friend's actions. He quickly scrambled to find his pants and struggled to put his legs back into the cold and wet garment. He used his arms to protect his face and leapt through the waterfall, plunging to the warm water below. When he emerged on the other side, he saw Jonas had already reached the embankment and was putting on his shoes, his tunic and pants were already in place. He used his arms and legs to kick himself as quickly as he could to reach the other boy. He hauled himself onto the embankment just as Jonas was running away.

"Jonas stop! Why are you leaving?!" he shouted at the other boy as he struggled to put his tunic back on, "Why are you leaving...me?" he finished sadly. He stood there watching Jonas's diminishing form, feeling an odd ache in his chest. He didn't notice the small trail of moisture fall down the contours of his face. A bad feeling that he couldn't shake off overtook him and he had the irrational notion that this would be the last time he would see his friend again.



The young boy in question was brought out of his musings with a start and looked at his door to see that his father held a stern look directed at him. He gave a nervous smile in return. "Son, you seem very distracted today." Asher moved his legs to the side of the bed and slowly raised himself up, "It's nothing father, I was just thinking."

"Well it's time for dinner. You can discuss your thoughts at the table when we share our feelings." His father smiled and left his room. Asher walked into the restroom and washed his hands. As he scrubbed away, he looked up at the mirror to see his reflection. He looked at his distinct facial features, the same as he had seen them before. The only time he had ever seen them change was the day that Jonas had shown him the quality. He never did understand how Jonas was able to do that, or what exactly it was that had changed everything. He supposed that now that Jonas was gone, he never would.

As Asher walked down the long hallway that separated the different rooms in their dwelling, he thought about how much he missed his childhood friend.


He had meant to talk to the boy, the next day, but could not find him anywhere and he assumed that Jonas was with his parents. He remembered how on the last day of the Ceremonies, the old man that he knew to be the Receiver had stood solemnly on stage. He announced that his protege had gone missing. A loud murmur of curious whispers had gone through the auditorium.

Asher noticed the Chief Elder's face pale a bit, before her calm and commanding demeanor returned. She ordered for the ceremonies to continue and assured everyone that action would be taken to find Jonas. It was toward the end of the ceremony that word spread about how the laborers reported finding Jonas's bike on the side of the river's embankment. Everyone assumed that Jonas had probably lost his footing, hit his head and simply drowned, despite no evidence of the boy's body. The entire auditorium participated in the Ceremony of Loss and recited Jonas's name repeatedly, slowly letting the name leave their lips quietly, letting the boy's memory leave their minds.

Asher did not participate in the ceremony, at a loss for words. When he noticed the Giver look at him strangely, he shrank down at the scrutinizing gaze and joined in the ceremony as well. The Chief Elder participated as well, but from the look in her eyes, she seemed like she was thinking of something else. Asher thought it very rude of her, but did not stop muttering Jonas's name slowly.


He turned to the last door and pushed the door open, it swung back into place on its own. He sat down in his seat and noticed that Phillipa was not present. His mother placed a fresh plate of food in front of his father and him. She placed one in front of herself and sat down to eat. He and his parents ate in silence, occasionally asking Asher to pass them the bowl with extra rations or commenting on the delicious food. He kept looking at Phillipa's empty seat, a question on his lips.

"Your sister was very tired from today. She has requested to go to sleep early and has assured us that she is not hungry, having ate a big lunch," his mother said smiling. She had seen him glancing back and forth to his sister's empty chair.

"Your mother and I didn't have the heart to deny her request. She is very young after all, and it is to be expected that until she is four, eating on a consistent basis at the dinner table will not always occur," his father said as he wiped his mouth with a napkin.

"Oh," was all Asher said as he continued to finish his meal.

When his family was finished, he helped his mother place the dishes into the collection box that would be put outside for the nightshift to pick up. The three sat down again and his father spoke first, "Ok, who wants to start tonight."

"How about you go first?" his mother said smiling. His father nodded and Asher looked at his father as he discussed his day. Asher's father was the Director of the Rehabilitation Center and was in charge of overseeing everyone that worked there. His father made sure things ran smoothly and that all the personnel were working at maximum efficiency, helping the patients successfully recover. His father said that one of Asher's classmates, Benjamin, had asked to speak with him. The two had discussed how the boy wanted to request that three years be waived from his training period. He had listened to the boy's reasons and after much consideration, he gave his approval. He said that he felt happy to have such an enthusiastic new trainee and looked forward to the boy's future contributions to the center.

"That's nice. I'm sure he is going to be an excellent addition to the staff once he completes his training," his mother said smiling. "Asher would you like to go next?" she asked him.

"No mother, that's alright, you can go next," he said giving her his bright smile.

"Well I had a very calm day today. I talked with other women in the community and they have all agreed with me when I say that we must have a more rigorous swimming program at your school, Asher," Asher looked at his mom agreeing, "After what happened the last time, we must ensure the safety of the young ones. Many of us have agreed that with better swimming programs it will be less likely that any of the children at your school will fall into the river and be unable to make it out to safety."

"Perhaps a fence should also be placed along the river's edge so that no one accidentally falls in. Your idea sounds like a good one, now all we have to do is present it to the Council for their approval." All three laughed at the notion. His mother said she felt excited about the new plan and wondered if it would work out in the end. His father had placed his hand over hers and said in a reassuring voice that it would. Asher had placed his hand on top of his mother's as well and had nodded his agreement. His mother had smiled in appreciation, while his father turned his attention to Asher, "Well everyone has gone except you son, care to share your feelings today?"

Asher bit his lip and his parents looked at each other, recognizing the gesture as a sign that their son was nervous. Asher folded his hands on the table in front of him before he spoke, "Well, after you dropped off Phillipa and I at the park, we played with the other children. Fiona came along and brought her new brother Bruno. I saw Bruno and Phillipa play and thought it was very cute. I did feel odd however, when Fiona and I sat next to each other on one of he benches."

His parents looked at each in mild apprehension before imploring him to continue. Asher took a big breath before he spoke again, "For the first time I noticed how much Fiona has grown. I never noticed before just how much. She's gotten a lot taller and I can tell that inside she's matured too. I guess being with her made me feel nauseous and it made me remember back to when we were younger."

"Nostalgic," both his parents said as they laughed aloud at their son's verbal blunder. Asher gave them a weak smile, but felt a little embarrassed to be making such an error in front of his parents now that he was beyond twelve. He said nothing else and his parents took that as a sign he was done.

"It's normal for you to notice such things now that you and your fellow classmates are growing up. The key thing to remember, is that everyone will change even more, but inside your friends will continue to be the same as they always have been. In fact, taking notice of such changes is a sign of maturity," his mother said proudly.

His parents began to get up to leave. His father stood next to his son and ruffled his hair, "Our little Asher-dasher, has finally grown up." Asher rolled his eyes, but still chuckled at his father's special nickname for him. He felt a little bit better at having shared some of his thoughts with his parents. Talking to them always helped him sort out certain things. He would have told them more, but he didn't quite know how to express himself. He decided that until he knew how, he would not mention it to his parents.


"Good night, son," his father said by the doorway. His mother ruffled his unruly bangs from his face, "Yes, have pleasant dreams Asher." She stood up and joined her spouse by the doorway. The two gave their eldest child a smile before they closed the door to his room. Asher heard their soft footsteps grow fainter the farther they walked away to their own room.

He shifted in his bed and stared up at the ceiling, he began to feel the darkness effect his tired body and he slowly let his eyes close shut, his mind delving into a dream state.


Asher awoke on the floor of where the changing lockers were. He shifted to his back and stared up to see that the lights were dimmer than they would usually be. He touched his head feeling a slight pain ache at the back of his head. He sat up and immediately regretted it as the room started to spin and Asher worried something was wrong with his vision. His eyes widened as he looked around, he rubbed his eyes again to make sure of what he was seeing. 'The...quality...I can see the quality again!' he thought excitedly. He awkwardly stood up and began to walk forward. He reached to touch a locker, until he looked down to see his arm was bare. He looked down at the rest of his body and flushed with embarrassment when he realized that he was completely nude.

He felt something poke his side and he looked to his left, but saw no one there. He felt someone brush a hand against his neck and he turned his head again to see who it was. When he didn't see anyone again he started to panic. He started to feel caressing touches all over his body, but when he looked around him, he realized there was no one there. He tried to swat away whatever it was that was doing this, but it seemed that every time he did, he missed.

With a cry of frustration he gave up and just ran down the end of the aisle. He kept running until he passed several locker aisles. He looked behind him to see if anything was following him, but when he looked forward again, he crashed right smack into someone else. He fell in a heap of arms and legs with the other person and struggled to get them off him. The other person began to struggle with him and somehow overpowered him until he was lying on his back, the other person lying on his stomach. Asher stopped struggling, only to gasp in surprise when he saw that it was none other than Jonas. Asher's eyes widened in delight and he startled the other boy by embracing him tightly.

"Jonas!" he said holding the other boy as if his life depended on it, "I never thought I would see you again." Jonas embraced him back, before pushing him away to the floor and getting up. Jonas laughed loudly at him, and Asher turned hurt eyes to look at him. In response, Jonas gave Asher a beguiling smile and gave his friend one wink before he ran off. His bare footsteps pattering on the cold floor quietly.

Asher quickly pulled himself up and ran after the other boy, determined not to lose him. He ran down the aisles in quick pursuit of Jonas. He was the faster one of the two and was able to swiftly catch up to Jonas. Just as he was about to tackle the other boy, Jonas turned sharply into one of the walkways that led to the showering compartments. He skidded to a stop once inside and squinted his eyes to look for Jonas's figure in the thick gusts of steam. He could hear several of the showers being used, but in the haze he could not see which one Jonas was in.

"Hold still Ash, I want to kiss you." Asher jumped at the voice in his ear, and swung his hands out ready to grab Jonas, only to end up grabbing air. He suddenly felt arms encircle his waist, at first he tensed up, but when the arms started to slowly stroke his chest, he felt his defenses slipping. His own arm held fast onto the ones around his torso and he struggled to regain his coherent thoughts, even as Jonas kissed his way down the side of his neck. His resolve returned however, when Jonas's hands were suspiciously snaking down his nether regions.

He pulled away from the enticing arms around him and turned around to give a meaningful glare at the other boy, who only laughed at him. Asher deepened his glare as he asked, "Why are you laughing at me? It's very rude of you to make fun of me like that."

"It's very rude of you to make fun of me like that," Jonas said mockingly. "I suppose now you want me to apologize, well don't believe for a second I will ask forgiveness from someone as pathetic as you," Jonas finished snidely. Asher felt unexpected angry tears course down his face, mixing in with the falling rivulets of water from the showerhead above them. The sight of his tears, made Jonas laugh even more and push him back. Asher staggered to maintain his balance, but Jonas's constant pushing was stopping that and annoying Asher to no end.

Jonas had him pinned to a wall, holding his wrists above his head in a vice-like grip. The normally strong Asher could not break away and his fear and anger grew as the seconds ticked by. He felt Jonas move between his legs and Asher struggled to move them and kick the other boy. Jonas began to kiss his neck and chest, giving Asher the feeling of revulsion. He didn't want Jonas to touch his body anymore, but it seemed the other boy was ignoring that the more he protested.

Just when he couldn't believe it could get worse, as if by some strange phenomena ropes suddenly bound his wrists together above him. He looked up and shook violently trying to get them off. He saw Jonas laugh a little to see him moving like that.

Asher finally stopped struggling when blood slid down the sides of his wrists and simply called out for help. His loud cries echoed around the tiled walls, but reached no one's ears. Jonas stopped his actions, but then sneered at Asher's defeated look, "See, look around you, no one is here to help you. In fact no one would want to. Your whole life you've always been a deficient and asinine fool, it's a wonder your parents haven't requested for your release yet. No one would miss you because no cares about you."

Asher completely stopped moving and went slack against Jonas's body, while the other boy continued to rub himself against him. Asher's mind was beginning to drift away, until he blearily made out another form in the fog.

"That's not true." Asher's eyes widened in confusion when he saw another Jonas stand there behind the one in front of him. He looked between the twins, trying to discern which one was the real Jonas. The Jonas in front of him stopped his actions and turned around quickly to tackle his double. Both fell in a struggling heap, hitting each other and fighting for control. Asher watched them, helpless and unable to do anything. He saw one Jonas had finally gained the upper hand.

He saw one of the boys body slam the other into one of the large mirror located on the side of the section wall. The injured Jonas crashed against it and fell to the floor in a heap around the glass shards. Asher smiled believing that the good Jonas had won.

"Jonas! Please, get me out of these!" he emphasized his point by moving and pulling at his ties again. Jonas's back straightened and Asher felt a chill run through his spine. Jonas turned his head to smile devilishly at Asher. Asher couldn't hide his fear any longer and began to hyperventilate. The bad Jonas took slow and calculating steps toward him.

Asher started yelling at the fallen Jonas, trying to get him to wake up, but it seemed to no avail. When the other Jonas came within his reach he grabbed his bindings and pulled himself up with the last of his strength to kick the other boy. The attack surprised the other boy and sent him flying backwards on the floor next to his clone. Both stayed eerily quiet, the only sounds in the room coming from Asher's frantic breathing.

Asher fell to the floor with a thud, the ropes now gone somehow. He sat there rubbing his wrists, watching either body for movement. He looked at both for a long time before he pulled his legs in and placed his head between his knees. He did not notice the bad twin sit up and begin to move toward him.

A pained cry filled the air and Asher looked up to see that the other Jonas had stabbed his double with one of the larger glass shards. The bad twin pushed off the good one and was about to repeat the action, but could not sustain himself anymore. He fell forewards, his arm still extended to kill his double, but that too fell lifeless at his side.

Asher knew that this Jonas was dead, but he briefly had doubts if it was the right one. He turned his attention to the other Jonas, who was looking at his fallen twin. On shaky knees, Asher stood up and faced this Jonas. The other turned his head to regard him and gave a smile that reassured Asher he was the good one. Jonas stood up as well and was now in Asher's plain view. The older boy took slow and measured steps, before he just ran and hugged his friend. The two held each other in a tight embrace, unwilling to let go.

They stayed like that for what seems like years, simply enjoying the physical contact.

"Hey, Ash," Jonas said calmly. His tone only made Asher hold him more. Jonas continued to speak in his ear, "What he said about you...he was wrong. To me, you've never been deficient. A lot of people care about you...I care about you."

"Then why did you leave? Why did you run away and die Jonas?" Asher said. He knew he sounded betrayed and his voice cracked as he spoke, but he couldn't help it.

"I had to leave, Asher. There's something wrong with this community. Our home is not what it seems and I had to fix it," Jonas pulled away to look Asher in the eye. He gave the other boy a gentle smile as he wiped Asher's tears with his thumb. "Please don't cry Ash. I promise that one day the work I started will be finished by you. One day I'll come back and you'll see me again, but we won't be the same."

Asher sniffled in response, "Not be the same? What do you mean?"

"You'll be a different person, a better one. And I will be too," he said as he pulled completely away from Asher. He started to walk backwards into the steam filled spray of water again. "I promise you Asher one day I'll be back, for you."

"Jonas, don't leave yet. I have a lot to ask you, to tell you, you can't go yet," Asher said as he reached for Jonas. His hand only met water, the other boy disappearing, his final words striking something inside Asher.

"I still love you, goodbye Ash. Never forget."

Asher's hands balled up into fists and he struggled to keep his emotions in check. All the emotions he had set aside, now came hurtling at him. The confusion about what happened that day in the river, his feelings of betrayal and anger at being abandoned after their intimate act, his own inner self-hatred for realizing that despite how much his friend's actions had hurt him, deep down he still cared very much for Jonas, the knowledge he would likely never see his friend again. Everything built up inside him and he let it go by hitting his fists on the tiled wall next to him. He repeated his action over and over again, not caring about how bloody his fists were becoming.

When he was done, he fell down exhausted from his actions. His forehead rested on the cold wall and he felt tears prick the corners of his eyes again. He turned his face upward and let out an anguished cry of pain, "JONAS!!"


The End


Author's Notes: Any comments, constructive criticisms and flames should be said in a review. Be honest, be hokie, be hard, whatever. Review long, review short it doesn't matter, so long as you do. Laterz.