A/N: Back again with more "A Separate Peace" fanfiction! I know how hard
it is to find any. Sadly, the fandom for which I write the most (and the
best, it seems) is the one with the fewest fellow fans... Oh well. The
title is a bit random and has a small amount to do with the story, but I
guess it works well enough. *satisfied smile* This fic has all the ASP
characters but takes place in a more modern setting. I mean, the book
happened like 60 years ago. I guess you could call it "OOCxt" for "out of
context". Still, I think anyone who enjoys a good Finny/Gene should get a
kick out of this. Well, later! ~Rachael~

-:::-Brinker's Song-:::-

Gene could feel the eyelashes of his best friend beating excitedly against
his hands. He, along with Leper, Brinker, Chet, and a few other boys from
Devon had all pooled together money to get Finny this surprise for his 16th
birthday. It was such a big surprise, in fact, that they couldn't bring it
to Finny; they had to take him to it. Hence Gene was covering the boy's
eyes. "Can I look yet?" "No." "Can I look yet?" "No." "Can I look
yet?" "No....." Gene sighed. His best friend could sure wear him out,
and at the moment he was reminiscent of an anxious child on a long car
trip, constantly asking his parents if they were "there yet". But that was
part of what Gene lov-- liked about him. He adored the childish innocence,
the sincerity of youth which Finny had not yet lost and probably never
would. "Oooooh," cooed his friend, "I heard a door open! We're getting
close! There's another door... We must be getting there. Can I look yet?
How about now?" Gene looked over at Brinker, who nodded his approval.
"Alright," he said, lifting his hands and uncovering his friend's eyes,
"You can look now."

Looking around the room, Phineas's face lit up in an excited grin.
"Wowowow! Alright! Karaoke!" Gene smiled. They had rented a private
karaoke room for the party. The original thought had been to go to a
karaoke bar, but Finny's tone-deafness had immediately eliminated that
possibility. "So," he asked, "Do you like it?"

"Like it? I love it! Thanks so much, you guys!" Finny leapt at Gene and
hugged him happily. Gene just stood there and blushed. "Of course I get to
go first, right?" Gene nodded. Finny could be... forceful sometimes.
"Okay, let's see... Hey! There's a 'random' option on here." He pointed
at the machine. Never one to resist doing something random, he selected
it. "Alright," came Phineas's voice again, "turn out the lights." The
boys did as they were told, and the only light in the room came from the
screen onto which the song lyrics were projected. He continued, in his own
peculiar fashion, to devise a set of highly illogical rules, such as the
person singing has to stand on top of the table while the others sat in
chairs surrounding it in a large, open semicircle. He claimed that this
was for dramatic emphasis and what he called "stage effect". Another rule
he instigated was that one could only sing a song if it was a love song,
and still another was that everyone had to clap for every performer. Once
he finished his speech-- by now he himself was standing on the table, and
the chairs arranged as he suggested-- he yelled into the microphone, "Cue
the music!" Chet pressed the button to play the first song, and was
declared Official Button Presser. The "audience" went quiet as Phineas
swayed from side to side (one of the few physical activities at which he
was completely inept was dancing) and began to sing.

"Sometimes, it's hard to make things clear
Or know when to face the truth
And I know that the moment is here
I'll open my heart and show you inside
My love has no pride"

His green eyes flashed Gene's way, and his lips smiled gently. Gene
gulped, unsure of what this could mean. The lines of the song sounded so
like Finny, and he sung them so passionately it literally made Gene's knees
weak, even though he was far from the original pitch. It was just...
Finny.

"I feel with you I've got nothing to hide
So open your eyes and see who I am
And not who you want for me to be
I am only myself, myself

I don't wanna lose you now
We're gonna get through somehow
I don't wanna lose you now or ever
Baby, I've finally found
The courage to stand my ground
But if you want me I'll be around, forever"

Why did it feel like he was singing the song to Gene? The very thought
sent shivers of happiness up and down his spine. Phineas's eyes had not
turned away from him the entire time, except to glance shortly at the words
before returning to their original target.

"We all make mistakes
We all lose our way
But we've stood the test of time
And I hope that's the way it will stay

It's all up to you to tell me to go
'Cause it won't be me to walk away
When you're all that I know
And I know that

I don't wanna lose you now
We're gonna get through somehow
I don't wanna lose you now or ever, never
Baby, I've finally found
The courage to stand my ground
But if you want me, I'll be around
Forever, forever, yeah, yeah

Don't wanna lose you, lose you now
We're gonna get through somehow
Don't wanna lose you now
Don't wanna lose you, don't wanna lose you!"

Phineas bowed majestically, deflecting the mandatory applause with a few
"Thank you, thank you"'s. Everyone would've clapped anyway. Everyone,
that is, except for Gene, who was even now frozen by the intensity of
Finny's stare and the sincerity and passion in his song. Had he really
meant it that way?

But he was not given anymore time to reflect on this suspicion. Finny had
already walked all the way to Gene's chair and was now kicking at it
impatiently. "Come on! It's your turn, buddy-old-pal, and I expect your
performance to be nothing less than dazzling, as usual." Then he
whispered, "And use your real voice." Gene glared at the other boy, but it
was only half-heartedly. "Sure thing, Finny." He got up, climbed
reluctantly on top of the table/stage, and waited. Finny gave Chet the
"press the button" signal, and he breathed in and out, preparing to sing.

"And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now"

This was definitely not a song he wanted to sing in front of the others.
In front of Finny, maybe, but with Finny there was never any sense of
embarrassment, as long as you tried. Not that Gene sang badly; in fact,
his voice was full and smooth, and relatively controlled, especially as
compared with that of his best friend. It was just an awkward song.

"And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
'Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am"

Perhaps the reason it bothered him so much was that this song seemed to
expose his true self, to pour out all his true feelings and hidden
emotions. And at Devon, this was suicide. He hoped no one could tell how
accurately this song described him. Except... He looked around before
locating Finny in his original seat. The boy had been looking at him for
some time now. The mutual eye contact in the darkened room was like
electricity. Gene pulled uncomfortably away from the gaze and continued to
sing.

"And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you'd bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am"

Perhaps the song was only awkward for Gene. No one else seemed to mind;
they were all listening attentively. No one had ever heard Gene sing
before, so they had never known what a talent he had for it. Sure, he'd go
along with whatever ditty Phineas was butchering, but in a voice you could
tell wasn't his real singing. This time, for Finny, he used his real
voice. Because this song was about the real him. Again he glanced up at
his muse, who was paying rapt attention.

"And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am"

He looked urgently at his friend, willing him to feel it too, to know that
the song was being sung just for him.

"I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am"

Gene stepped down from the table to, if it were possible, more applause
that Finny had. People gave shocked remarks, like "Damn, Gene!" and "I
never knew you could sing like that!" and "Wow, you're good." Only Phineas
knew, only Phineas had been sung to sleep on stormy nights, only Phineas
heard Gene's daily half-hour practice sessions. And no one could be more
proud. "You did it Gene, you really sang! I always knew you could!" Gene
blushed again, muttering something along the lines of, "I'm not that good"
before seating himself beside his friend.

Next, Finny declared it Leper's turn. Leper protested, but it was no good.
Brinker and another boy lifted him bodily onto the "stage" and forced the
microphone into his hesitant hands. Of course the song selected for him
was an N'sync song, and of course he'd never before heard it. Still, in a
last-ditch effort to save face, he sang even worse than Finny had to the
music he'd been given.

"Can this be true, tell me can this be real?
How can I put into words what I feel?
My life was complete, I thought I was whole
Why do I feel like I'm losing control?
Never thought that love could feel like this
Then you changed my world with just one kiss
How can it be that right here with me
There's an angel, it's a miracle"

He glanced at Gene, who didn't notice.

"Your love is like a river, peaceful and deep
Your soul is like a secret that I never could keep
When I look into your eyes, I know that it's true
God must have spent a little more time on you"

Mercifully, the others let him stop after finishing the first chorus.
Next, of all people, Phineas chose Brinker to sing. Brinker was another
whose song they'd never heard, and everyone was curious just what he would
sound like. Despite urging from all of his peers, he stubbornly refused
until finally, he gave just a little. "Alright, guys, I'll sing... IF Gene
and Finny slow dance."

"What?!?" cried Gene miserably. "Okay," agreed Finny, "You're on." Gene
whined piteously, but the rest of the group was against him. "Come on!"
"It's just a little dance."

"Oh, all right." Loud cheering. He sighed and placed his hands on
Phineas's waist. But Finny wouldn't have this.

"Oh no, pal, I'm not gonna be the girl. It's my birthday, so YOU get to be
the female in this thing." Gene groaned, but knowing that there was no way
he could win, circled his arms behind his friend's neck. Finny's hands
landed on his hips without hesitation. Brinker climbed up onto the table
and insisted, "Now you two, get over here." He pointed to the broad space
in the middle of the circle of chairs. "On the dance floor." Gene managed
to keep his moan to himself as Phineas dragged him by the waist into the
center of the circle of seats. Chet pressed the button.

"All I am, all I'll be
Everything in this world
All that I'll ever need
Is in your eyes
Shining at me
When you smile I can feel
All my passion unfolding
Your hand brushes mine
And a thousand sensations
Seduce me"

"You know," murmured the handsome boy to his friend, "I've always wanted to
do this with you." He laughed at the boldness of his own remark. But Gene
merely took it as a joking laugh, assuming Phineas was simply joking around
as usual. He stiffened even more. "Yeah, right. I'm sooo attractive."

Finny looked up, startled. "You don't believe me? I meant what I said.
I've really wished I could do this with you. Things like this, anyway..."
He massaged the other boy's back, easing his tense muscles. Gene sighed.
Then it struck him that Finny wasn't just messing around this time. He was
telling the truth. He sighed again.

"I do cherish you
For the rest of my life
You don't have to think twice
I will love you still
From the depths of my soul
It's beyond my control
I've waited so long to say this to you
If you're asking do I love you this much
I do"

Relaxing a little, Gene leaned into his friend and laced his fingers. This
wasn't so bad. He rested his head gently on Finny's shoulder. "Yeah, I
know what you mean." He nuzzled into him. "I've felt the same way."

Finny shrugged. "I thought maybe you had. Especially after the way you
kept looking at me as you sang your song."

"Idiot, it was *you* who was doing that!"

"Was I?" This was Finny's fake-preoccupied voice. "You think so?" He
squeezed the other boy's left buttock. Gene squealed.

"In my world, before you
I lived outside my emotions
Didn't know where I was going
'Till that day I found you
How you opened my life
To a new paradise
In a world torn by change
Still with all my heart
'Till my dying day"

"Great, now everyone's staring at us!" he whispered accusingly.

"Of course they're staring at us, love! We're Brinker's diversion!"

It had not yet occured to Gene that everyone would obviously have been
staring at them anyway. With the exception of Leper, no one had noticed.
And Leper was certainly not going to admit to anyone that he had been
checking out Gene's butt.

"I hope you don't mind me calling you that, 'Love' I mean. If you don't
feel comfortable or aren't sure yet...."

"What the hell are you talking about?!?"

Finny chuckled. "Yes, I am getting a bit ahead of myself, aren't I? See,
what I had meant to do was to ask you if you would give me the privlege of
being my boyfriend." He waited calmly for an answer as they swayed from
side to side.

"I do cherish you
For the rest of my life
You don't have to think twice
I will love you still
From the depths of my soul
It's beyond my control
I've waited so long to say this to you
If you're asking do I love you this much
I do."

Gene was dumbfounded. He'd always wanted this. "Yes. Oh, yes, Phineas,
there's nothing that would make me happier than to be your boyfriend." He
snuggled deeper into Finny's shoulder.

Even Phineas was nervous to ask his love his next question. "Um, Gene?"

"Yeah?" He looked up from Finny's shoulder. "What?"

"Would you, uh, would you like to, um..." Uh-huh. There was no doubt now,
he was definitely nervous. He finally forced it all out as one long word.
"Wouldyouliketokissme?"

Gene could only smile. "Yes." Hugging him tightly, he leaned in to
capture the other boy's lips in a long-awaited kiss. They were so enslaved
by the depth of the moment that neither even noticed the reactions of the
other boys, like Chet's nervous laugh or Brinker's victory cheer or Leper's
disappointed snap of his fingers. As he finally pulled away, Gene
whispered in Finny's ear, "Happy Birthday."