Disclaimer: Everything belongs to John Steinbeck. Except maybe the plot. But either way, if he reads this, he'll probably turn over in his grave and hunt me with a rifle.

Anyways, the plot is rushed, the writing is kinda choppy, but other than that, enjoy. And review. I loooooove reviews. :)

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Alternate Ending

She struggled violently under his hands. Her feet battered on the hay and she writhed to be free; and from under Lennie's hand came a muffled screaming. Lennie began to cry with fright. "Oh! Please don't do none of that," he begged. "George gonna say I done a bad thing. He ain't gonna let me tend no rabbits." He moved his hand a little and her hoarse cry came out. Then Lennie grew angry. "Now don't," he said. "I don't want you to yell. You gonna get me in trouble jus' like George says you will. Now don't you do that." And she continued to struggle, and her eyes were wild with her. "Don't you go yellin'," he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.

He looked down at her, and carefully he removed his hand from over her mouth, and she lay still. "I don't want ta hurt you," he said, "but George'll be mad if you yell." When she didn't answer nor move he bent closely over her. He lifted her arm and let it drop. For a moment he seemed bewildered. And then he whispered in fright, "I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing."

He pawed up the hay until it partly covered her.

Outside, footsteps drew near. The voices of George and Candy grew loud and clear.

"Lennie, oh, Lennie! Ten bucks he's out sleepin' with 'em pups," George's voice drifted in. Lennie crawled under the hay and curled his body into a ball.

"Where's the damn bastard?" George and Candy appeared at the end of the last stall. When Lennie didn't answer, George stepped nearer. He stopped when he saw little dark ringlets, rouged cheeks, and reddened lips protruding from the pile of hay.

"Oh, Jesus Christ," Candy whispered. Silently, George bent down over the body of Curley's wife. His fingers brushed against her slightly twisted neck and then his hand rested over her heart.

"Jesus Christ," George echoed as he slowly stood up.

"I didn't mean to, George," a muffled voice pleaded. Lennie crawled out from under the pile of hay and sobbed, "I tried and tried. But I couldn' help it."

George was silent. It was Candy who spoke, "What we gonna do now?"

"We oughtta hide…in the brush," Lennie stumbled as if recalling a long-forgotten memory. "Hide in the brush by the river."

"Maybe we oughtta run," George said suddenly. He felt everyone's eyes on him, and he continued, "It's 'bout time we got that little place."

Candy started. "You really think so?"

"Last week I wrote to the old folks who own the place," George said. "I tol' 'em that you got three hundred in the bank, and we each got fifty bucks from the boss this month. That's four-fifty, and when I offered to give 'em a portion of the crops for the first month, why, they agreed to let us take her."

"We'll do her," Candy said wonderingly. "We'll have a little house to ourselves, and we'll grow a garden and build our own smokehouse." George stared out the window with a faraway look in his eyes.

"And I'll get to tend the rabbits," Lennie said loudly. He panted with excitement. "Let's do it, George. Let's get that that place now."

There was a flash of pain on George's face. "I ain't coming with you guys."

"What?" Candy stopped. Lennie's face wrinkled with confusion.

"Curley an' the other guys gonna go after us if all of us run," George reminded them.

"To hell with 'em!" Candy exploded. But George shook his head and looked back at the body of Curley's wife. "Even if that sonofabitch don't catch us, the law's gonna chase us. We'll be damned by the hand of God, unless someone stays here and takes the punishment."

Candy looked at George and their eyes met. George tilted his head slightly toward Lennie, who was still struggling to understand.

"You…ain't…coming?" Lennie repeated slowly.

George turned his gaze toward Lennie and his face softened. "I got to stay here, Lennie."

Lennie's face crumpled. "It's 'cause I done another bad thing, isn't it?" He let out a moan of grief and rocked his body back and forth. "You tol' me you ain't gonna leave me! You tol' me we'd always have each other, 'cause you got me to look afta you—"

"—and you got me to look afta you," George finished quietly. "I know. But dammit! You done a real bad thing, Lennie, and we can't jus' hide in the brush this time."

"But you ain't leaving me?" Lennie demanded.

George opened his mouth, but then in his mind, he saw Lennie handcuffed and led by Curley and Carlson to a raised platform. He saw Lennie climbing up the platform to a looped rope hanging overhead. George's throat closed, and he knew that he had to get Lennie away from the dead body of Curley's wife before that fate could befall him.

So, for the first time, he lied to Lennie. "I jus' gonna stay here to tell them guys that we're going off, and then I'll find you two."

Lennie visibly relaxed. "I thought you was leaving me, George."

"No," George said. "I ain't ever leaving you, Lennie. I've never left you, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know."

"Listen," George said. He took out a white envelope from his belt and gave it to Candy. "Inside's the one-fifty we got from workin' on the ranch. On here's the address of the place. Jus' follow the river down, and you'll see a little windmill. It's 'bout a day's worth of hiking. But you'll know when ya get there."

Candy took the envelope with reverence and tucked it carefully into his belt. "You'll be alright?"

"Yeah. You two go ahead. I'll catch up before ya know it," George said. They both pretended that this was true.

"Take care of Lennie for me, won't ya?" George mumbled under his breath as they shook hands. Candy nodded and turned away as tears glistened in his eyes.

George watched as Candy and Lennie turned to go. Before he knew what he was doing, George lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Lennie's torso. Lennie was startled for a moment but then his own large arms enclosed George.

"Promise me something, Lennie," George said thickly. "Promise me that you'll take damn good care of the rabbits."

"I will, George," Lennie promised. "I'll remember to feed them and I'll watch them and I won't let the damn cats get them."

George released his hold on Lennie and fell back. He felt a twinge of envy as Candy led Lennie out of the barn.

The silence of the barn was disrupted by the clang of the halter chains and the loud voices of men. George closed his eyes and in his mind, he saw Lennie letting the pink rabbits out of their cage. He grinned as he saw the rabbits hopping all over and Lennie chasing after them. He grinned even as the sound of footsteps grew louder and the men burst into the stall.