This ficcie is veeery strange. But what do you expect from me? I'm not sure how the idea entered my brain, but it got stuck there and wouldn't go away til I wrote it. It's a big mix-up of "kind-of"s: it's kind-of the part when Gene visits Leper after he escapes from the Army, kind-of OOC but kind-of in character as well, kind-of Gene/Leper (well, very definitley slash, but... you'll see). I dunno, maybe you'll enjoy it. Just in case anyone might, I posted it. I don't really mind flames (anything to keep warm in our currently below-zero weather here), especially since this is an ASP fic and any reviews at all are hard to come by. So flamers, amuse me with your wit. Like I said, this is quite a trip. In many ways. Jaa. ~Rachael~

For Yourself

"How do you like that!" Leper whispered excitedly to Gene. "How do you like that!" They were in the Rennaisance Room, being shown a film about the United States ski troops. The skiers glided gracefully down snow- covered slopes, breathing in the fresh mountain air. Leper's eyes widened. No one had told him that there was a branch of the service like this. No one had told him that this was how he could be spending the war. He smiled; it reminded him of home, of the warm, cozy house in Vermont where he'd been born and raised. "Wow. Y'know, Gene," he said to his favorite friend-- It's true, Finny was always nice to him, but it seemed to Leper like it was a condescending sort of nice, like he was being kind to Leper because no one else did. Gene was different. Gene was... comfortable, somehow. The boy felt some sort of connection, almost a psychic bond between them.-- "My 18th birthday is coming up pretty soon. I'd better enlist before they draft me into the infantry or something, you know? And I think that this would be the perfect thing for me to do, since I'm good on skis and stuff. Do you see what I'm saying?" Gene gave a muffled grunt. He'd been halfway asleep; he had never been the type to be able to watch films without falling asleep in the middle of them. Leper shook him into a state of some coherence. "Wha? Oh, Leper." "You know what, Gene?" He continued, not bothering to wait for the usual response of 'What?', "I think I'm going to do it. I'm going to enlist in these ski troops!"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

No one would ever have guessed it would be Leper who'd be the first to enlist. Most refused to take him seriously, just another one of those idle threats to enlist that had peppered the entire winter, nothing to worry about. Therefore it was quite surprising to everyone when, less than two weeks later, he was gone. Devon was slightly shocked; but as it was Leper who had left, it really did not leave a very big impression. Leper certainly didn't make a big deal out of it; neither did anyone else. A week after his departure, it was as though there had never been a student at Devon School named Elwin Lepellier.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He got up at four o'clock. Every morning. It wasn't that he woke up at four in the morning; no, he was, in general, awake all night. The barracks were filled with the stench of bodies and snoring and the sickening cough of the soldier in the cot next to his. But he was in the Army now, so he was going to get up when they told him to, and eat when they told him to. To run when they told him to, to walk when they told him to. To live and die when they told him to. At least that was what they told him he would do.

In reality, he slept on guard, at the firing range, during instruction, wherever he was not allowed to. He scarecely ate, and in was never in the mess hall -- aptly named, he thought. He ate whatever he could get his hands on, whenever he could get it. What food he managed to get ahold of, he didn't like. Well, how could he be expected to like it? This was the kind of food they'd thrown out at home, or perhaps given to their two dogs. Leper didn't like being compared to a dog, and he told his companions so. Once he even mentioned it to an officer, far superior to him, who had promptly denounced him as an unpatriotic son-of-a-bitch. But, Leper had argued, wasn't that just calling him a dog again? That was what he'd been complaining about in the first place. No one else there seemed to be able to see things the way he saw them; that is, if they even saw them at all. When he first started seeing strange things, they thought he was trying to mess around and he got in trouble for it. But eventually, he was so persistent that they were there, the voices, the faceless people covered in blood, holding their own limbs in their hands, that they started calling him names. But these were different names than he'd ever been called before, names like "psycho" or "unstable", and a few times he'd even been called a faggot, whatever that meant. He just assumed it was another word for crazy. But when word got around that he would soon be recieving a Section Eight, that was the last straw. He had to get out of here.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Yes, he was getting out. No Section Eight for him, Elwin Lepillier. He would be gone before sunup. He'd gotten out of bed about an hour ago, eaten some food (he'd been saving it up for his escape as soon as he heard about the discharge), changed clothes, and packed his bag. He couldn't risk being heard in the showers, so he didn't take one. He made his bed, then sat on it to tie his shoes. He looked around one last time, saw the bunks, the other sleeping men, the guy with the cough; no, he was never going to miss these things. He smiled his first smile since he'd gotten to Basic, and only because he knew he was leaving. Picking up his Army bag, which was a dull green and had "LEPELLIER" written on it in stenciled black letters, he snuck out, leaving the ski troops, his sanity, and his innocence behind.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Gene Forrester stood on top of the prize table and gave an over-exaggerated bow. He was being applauded for completing Finny's insane "Winter Decathalon" course in record time and a style unmatchable except by that of Phineas himself before his accident. Then, over the cheering, he heard Finny's voice. "Telegram for Gene! It's the Olympic Commitee, they want you! I told you all this practice would pay off! Let's see what it says," he ripped the telegram open with a flourish. "To Gene," he proclaimed, "I have esc-" Then he finally realized just what the letter said. Folding it solemnly, he handed it to Gene. The boy opened it apprehensively and read:

I HAVE ESCAPED AND NEED HELP. I AM AT CHRISTMAS LOCATION. YOU UNDERSTAND. NO NEED TO RISK ADDRESS HERE. MY SAFETY DEPENDS ON YOUR COMING AT ONCE. YOUR BEST FRIEND, ELWIN LEPER LEPILLIER.

He looked up. "When's the next train to Vermont?"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Gene wandered the crisp white slope of the hill at the top of which was Leper's house. He was tired; he hadn't been able to sleep on the train. The whole trip to Vermont he'd been thinking about Leper. He couldn't show it in front of the others at Devon, that was just asking for it, but he was worried sick. Leper had always been a close friend. He was probably the only guy in the class besides Finny who didn't exaggerate himself or try to impress people. Gene had always been attracted to that, the quality of just being oneself and not seeming to care what others thought. But there was something more than that, something else about Leper that drew Gene to him and probably him to Gene.

He'd finally gotten close enough to the house to see Leper waving to him at the window, beckoning him forward. He picked up his pace. There was something wrong, he felt it, something desperate. He finally reached the door, and his friend hurried to open it. "Come in," he said quickly, as if to hurry Gene, "Come in here." He led him into the dining room. "This where I spent most of my time." Each boy sat down at one of the wooden chairs surrounding the table. A dog came in from the living room, where it had been lying in front of the fireplace. "Leper, I didn't know you had a dog."

"Oh, well I never told anyone. He's a border collie. We call him 'Con', short for Conifer." Only Leper could come up with a name like that., thought Gene. "That's nice. Come to think of it, do you have any other pets?" Leper's face fell. "We did. She was a border collie too, named Aurora, after the aurora borealis... She died the week before I came back home. Canine influenza. That was the first thing I found out when I got here..." He looked so close to tears Gene couldn't stand it. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. I'm sorry." He scooted his chair up next to the other boy's and wrapped his arm over his shoulders. Leper leaned into Gene's chest, who could feel his friend's tears soaking through his navy blue sweater to wet his skin. He wrapped both his arms around him and gently rocked him until Leper's head came back up again. "I'm okay now. Thanks. I'm sorry, I'm a mess... I told you that." He hadn't, but Gene nodded anyway. "And that's not even the worst part." The noise Leper made was somewhere between a small laugh and a sniffle. "I can't even cry about it, it's just so... so bad it's unreal. Thinking back on it, it's like an out-of-body experience. You know, when you're there but it's more like you're just watching your body move, not controlling it... I'm not making any sense."

"Yes you are," Gene encouraged. "I've had that feeling before. You think, this must be happening to someone else, I can't be doing it."

"Yeah, that's the feeling exactly! That was how I felt, all the time, while I was in the Army. My body was there, I was going through the motions of Basic Training, but it just couldn't be me. What was I doing here, preparing for a war? Every day it just got worse and worse, like it was all more and more not real. Then I started seeing things and hearing things that were really not real, and I saw them more and more often. And it just kept getting worse and worse, more and more not real, until finally one day I saw someone coming into the mess hall, and he didn't have a face and he was all bloody, and he was carrying his own leg... Who wouldn't scream and hide if they saw a person looking like that? Then they came and asked me, what are you doing under the table, and I told them what I saw, everything I just told you. And they pulled me out from under the table, only their arms were all bloody too, and they kept touching me but I told them not to because I didn't want to get blood all over my clothes and stain them. That's reasonable, isn't it? And they kept talking about a Section Eight, and how they were going to give me one. Well, I'm no fool. I know what a Section Eight is. I know what a Section Eight means! So I escaped. In the middle of the night, I packed up and left. and now I'm here, talking to you. That's pretty much it, I guess."

Gene sat in stunned silence. No wonder Leper had wanted to escape. "Oh my God. Leper..." He felt the compulsion to hold the other boy again. He wanted to take it all away, everything Leper had suffered, and to relpace it with love. "Oh, Leper." He leaned over again and squeezed Leper in a hug, not sure whether it was for the other boy or for himself. Leper smiled. "That's why I asked for you, Gene. I asked for you and no one else. Because I knew you'd understand." Nuzzling into Gene, he hugged him back.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Gene sat on the large comfortabe armchair by the fire, waiting for Leper. The other boy had gone to get sleeping bags; since he'd come at Leper's request, his mother had invited Gene to stay for dinner and eventually to sleep at their house. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and got up to help Leper carry the bedthings. They each unrolled a sleeping bag, lay them down by the fire, and climbed in. Several minutes later, Gene was still shivering and his teeth chattering. "What's the matter?" asked his friend. "Just... just a little cold, that's all. Not used to these Vermont winters."

Leper thought on that for a bit. "Well, I learned something in th Army that we could do to conserve body heat. Here, give me a hand. Unzip your sleeping bag, all the way, like this. Good. Okay, now we over lap them, one on top of the other, and there's a special way to zip them... there. Now we should both be warmer." The boy had made a double-size sleeping bag from the two individual ones. Then he got in.

Gene climbed in too, ready to try anything to get warmer. "How does this work?"

"Well," replied Leper, "we just use each other's body heat." He snuggled into the other boy, as if to show him just how one shares body heat. Gene was definitely getting warmer, though perhaps not the way he had meant to... Then he realized. Leper must be hitting on him. Why else would he be cuddling Gene like this, purring like he was a kitten on his lap? Well, he'd better stop, or else Gene's body was going to get the best of him and he'd do something really stupid. Leper kept snuggling. Gene sighed, then, deciding that there was nothing else for it, grabbed the other boy by the shoulders, turned him toward himself and kissed him hard on the lips. Then he let go and broke away. "You know," he said after some silence, "You don't need to be in any Army. I love you just the way you are. I mean, why do you need an army when you've already won the war... for yourself."

Leper was, to say the least, surprised. Surprised that Gene had done that to him. Surprised that he was practically sleeping in the same bed as Gene. But most of all, surprised that -- and maybe he did belong in the looney bin for thinking this -- Leper was surprised to discover just how much he liked it. He pressed his lips to Gene's even harder, kissing back more passionately than he'd ever done anything. Was this the unity he was craving?

Then Gene deepened the kiss. He opened his mouth ever so slightly and used his tongue to ease the other boy's mouth open. Leper wasn't sure exactly what to do next; he had never kissed using his tongue before. Still, he adapted to this new challenge willingly, touching his tongue to Gene's and relishing in the electric feeling that shot through his body. He was definitely crazy now, and he didn't care.

But if Leper was crazy, then his partner was psycho. The boy could feel Gene's hands, first reaching under Leper's shirt and rubbing his back, then slipping his shirt off over his head. Leper tried to follow his lead, still a bit clumsy but ready to find out what would happen next. Now Gene did the craziest thing he had done yet; placing his hands on Leper's waist, he pulled down and took his pajama bottoms and undershorts in the process. His evident shock registered in his face, and Gene backed away. "Oh, I'm sorry. If you don't want to..." Leper shook his head. "No, it's okay... Keep going."

"Leper..." "What?" "Do you want to do it?"

Of course that was the logical conclusion of these actions. Leper knew that. What the boy wasn't sure of was exactly what consequences would result from, as Gene had put it, "doing it." He thought about what Gene had said before, about winning it for himself. The Army claimed to have made him grown-up, turned him into an adult. They said they'd make him into a more responsible person. But nothing the Army had prepared him for this. Had the Army done any of that? Had they really taught him anything? Was he "more mature" from his time spent in Basic? They had said that freedom leads to responsibility. They were wrong. Accepting responsibility is what leads to freedom.

"Yes... I want to. Let's do it, Gene."

As Leper pulled down Gene's shorts and rolled over on top of him, Gene laughed. "What's so funny?" Leper wanted to know.

"Well," replied Gene, "I think they've got a different excuse to kick you out of the Army now."

END

********************

-Author's Notes- Well, how did you like it? It's definitely not what I usually write, but I thought I'd try to expand my horizons a bit and do a R- rated story. I think it turned out pretty well. If there's anything I could change to make it better, or if you think it's great just the way it is, please review!!! BTW, Gene's last comment about another reason to kick him out of the Army refers to the US Army policy of not letting homosexuals join the military. Just to clarify that. (There is something Clinton passed known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', but... let's just say it's a piece of crap. Don't let me start on DADT...)

Love peace 'n' sodomy, ~Rachael~