Title: These small hours, they still remain.

Fandom: Gattaca [1997]

Pairing/Character: Vincent, Eugene, gen.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine, and no profit is made.

Summary: You don't regret it – not then, and most especially, not now.




Here's the thing about being perfect: you wouldn't know how not to be one.

When you've spent nearly whole your life being told how perfect you are, that you're such a fine specimen, that you're always gonna be on top, that you're always gonna be number one no matter what and that you're practically gonna live forever – how would you deal with finding out you're not as perfect as you're told to believe?

You don't, that's how.

Here's the thing you want to say most but never do: please don't leave. Please don't leave. Please don't leave. Please don't leave me here alone.

In the few weeks Vincent's living with you, he has become the most constant thing in your life - such that he's become the center of your universe, the sun to your planets, before you even realize what's happening.

It's rather ironic though, that when it comes down to it, your short time with Vincent is far more precious to you than the whole thirty-odd years worth of accomplishment you've been living.

Here's how you define your life: Before, and After.

Once, Vincent—no, Jerome, he's Jerome now—asks you, "How do you define your life?"

So you tell him.

Even in your own mind, it sounds so stupid and clichéd – to be using the accident that changed your life as the ground zero, as the parameter. But you just don't know how to define it any other way.

Or perhaps you just don't want to. You still can't decide between the two.

"Why the accident, though?" Vincent asks. "Is it because it left you crippled, and therefore changed everything?"

"No." You say. "More because that was the moment I really realized I wasn't perfect. After all, what fool couldn't even manage his own suicide right?"

Here's what you never do: you never tell lies. Ever.

Before, you didn't tell lies because you were such a perfect little kid, always doing what he was told. Always followed the rules and not a single toe out of line unless you were ordered to do so.

Being so perfect you were practically above reproach, you were cruel in your truth, brutal in your honesty – such that you only had few friends. You told everything as it was, because that was how you were taught. Because that was how you were supposed to act.

Because that was the only way you know how to be.

After, you still don't tell lies. Not out of obligation, nor because it's become a habit, no. You tell everything as it is, because you have nothing to lose – at all. Literally.

There's family. No friends. No lovers. All the people you're interacting with are, as Vincent so artlessly put it, the ones you pay.

You only have Vincent.

Since putting up with you is included in his contract, there would be no point for you to be anything but yourself. Especially since he'd also need to behave like you.

…or so you keep telling yourself.

But the truth? The truth is – the truth is, you need somebody to accept you for who you are, with all your flaws and damages included, and Vincent is – Vincent could, and does, understand.

So no, you never tell lies. Ever.

Except to yourself, that is.

Vincent says, "My heart is already ten thousand beats overdue."

You say, "My life is unofficially over a year ago. In the accident."

Vincent says, "You're supposed to live forever – your gene result says so."

You say, "How many heartbeats ago did your gene say you're gonna die anyway?"

Vincent says, "Doesn't change the fact that this is not as it supposed to be."

You say, "What, you're bailing on me now? Just when you're about to go up there, in space, in less than a week time?"

Vincent says, "That's not the point."

You say, "Really? I wasn't aware there was ever any other point. Look, it's simple: you go up, or you don't. So which is it?"

As if there was any doubt in the first place.

Here's the thing about being perfect: it's lonely.

You've got no friends; only competitors – those who thrive to get the same thing as you, and would want nothing more than to see you fall.

There's no pat in the back; there's no comforting touch; there's no reassuring words, no nothing.

When you've done well in school, all people say is, of course, it's already in his gene.

When you've won the swimming competition, all people say is he has such a perfect combination of gene, isn't he?

When you've memorized all the dialogue in the school drama long before anyone else, all people say is it's only to be expected; after all, it's already in his gene.

They don't pay any attention to how much time you've spent to study; they don't think of how hard you've practiced your swimming; they don't realize how many nights you've spent awake memorizing lines, when other children are peacefully asleep.

They dismiss all your hard work, and credit it to your gene.

How – how unfair is that?

Vincent sleeps with you, sometimes. Not in the biblical sense, of course. Only in the most basic sense.

When he thinks you're asleep, he would sneak into your room, tuck you in properly and secure the covers around you, before he lets himself lie on top of the covers, facing you. Then he would watch you sleep, sometimes for hours, before he drifts off himself. Something about his heart condition makes him a light sleeper, and he would always be gone at the slightest sign of your waking up, no matter the time – leaving barely a hint to his presence there.

You only find this out much later, when one night you open your eyes, barely awake, your breathing pattern barely changes, to see his face right before yours.

You don't know why he does this, nor care enough to find out. You're only grateful that you're not alone, even if you do still wake up to an empty bed.

You think he knows that you know. But so long as there's no question, there would be no lies, and besides, you're rather good at keeping things to yourself. You take comfort where you can, after all.

A week into his leaving, he starts to sleep with you under the covers, and no longer bothers waking up before it's time to wake up in the morning.

It makes you all warm and content and grateful and mortified and embarrassed all at the same time, to realize just how much you need this; to realize that he needs this as much as you do – and maybe even more.

To realize that he thinks you still have something to offer, despite the scattered remains of your self-worth on the floor.

Vincent finds his dream in the cells of your gene.

You find your salvation in him.

As the day of Vincent's leaving keeps approaching, you find yourself thinking too much. Hard not to, since you're more often by yourself, these days. Especially now that Irene has inserted herself in Vincent's life, and, by proxy, your life.

Honestly? You're amazed of her, really.

That despite your name and gene and accomplishment records, she still manages to find the real person underneath the persona; that she really loves Vincent for who he really is, and not for the name he's using.

"Why?" you've asked her.

"Because he's him," Irene has replied. "And I'm me."

It shouldn't be enough, but it is.

Here's the thing you would never admit to yourself: you're afraid of being alone.

When Vincent tells you he's selected to go to Titan, you've spent hours holed up in your room, huddled under the protection of your blankets, where you pretend nothing could get you.

Including just how frightening your find the prospect of him leaving you is – despite knowing that is the exact reason he agreed to the contract at all: so he could go into space.

So why is it so hard to accept now, you don't have any idea.

…or just having a hard time admitting it.

You still can't decide.

For a guy whose IQ's supposed to go through the roof, you sure had a hard time deciding things.

Here's the truth about you, Jerome Eugene Morrow, that not everyone knows:

You're right-handed. You're also a neurotic asshole who couldn't accept being less than perfect. After failing to win the first position on a swimming championship, you tried to kill yourself. You failed. Your parents are on the other side of the globe, aware neither of your location nor your well-being, and you had no intention to tell them. You volunteered for 'de-gene-erate' program, also known as 'borrowed ladder' program, just for kicks – because you could.

And guess what? You don't regret it – not then, and most especially, not now – when you finally could help an unfortunate man to reach his dream.

No, you don't regret any of it – at all.

Here's what you do in the last moment of your life:

You extract two lifetimes worth of your own blood and urine, and some hair for Vincent's perusal once he gets back to Earth. You put a lock of your hair in a card as a going away present to Vincent. You pack away everything you own in boxes in your room, lock it, and throw away the key. You clean the makeshift lab in the basement and put everything back it its proper place.

Once everything is in proper order, you write a note for Vincent (Jerome, he would be the only Jerome Morrow once he gets back from Tita) and stick it on the fridge door.

Dear Jerome, everything's yours now.



Then you crawl into the burner, close the lid, and proceed to finish what you failed to do a year ago.

You've never felt more peaceful in your life.

Here's the thing about being perfect: there's no such thing as 'perfect'.