No infringement of the following characters and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. Contains adult themes
Title: Thy fearful symmetry
Series: Jurassic Park III
Web site: http://uk.geocities.com/havisham06/fic.htm
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: MA - Mature Adults only
Pairing: Alan Grant/Billy Brennan
Date: 18 June 2003 -
Disclaimers: The characters of Dr. Alan Grant, Billy Brennan, et al. are the property of Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and (in Alan's case) Michael Crichton. No copyright infringement is intended or inferred.
Warnings: may contain slash, H/C, violence, m/m hanky panky, sex scenes, drug use, nudity, coarse language, horror, dodgy research, adult themes
Spoilers: Jurassic Park III
Summary: Alan and Billy are invited to join a feral dinosaur hunt.
The old man had been doing this since before the war: going out onto the heath under the cover of darkness, setting his traps, catching a couple of rabbits and returning home again. It was subsistence living, but they had always had to fend for themselves up here. It was also called poaching, an ancient and illegal art that required cunning and wiles. Not to catch the rabbits, mind, because rabbits were stupid, but to lay low and escape the old man’s own hunters, the gillies who patrolled these private lands for their master. Once upon a time they’d have filled your arse with rock salt blasted from a shotgun and haul you up in front of the magistrate if they caught you. These days he suspected they allowed him to steal a rabbit or two, out of misplaced sympathy, seeing the old man as part of the landscape himself.
He hated them for it. It smacked of charity and it mocked his skills, honed over decades of moonless nights.
Like tonight. He eased back into the hollow, hearing the soft footfalls amongst the brambles, prepared to lay low until the gillies had passed him by. Only they didn’t pass him by. They circled back, catching his scent, and he began to realise he wasn’t being hunted by a man, too late. He forgot his traps and pulled himself up and ran but his legs were old and stiff with the cold settling mist and the thing was on him before he could manage more than one scream, cut short in the night, as the terrible claws ripped through him.
The white nylon tent flapped in the breeze, sitting slightly uncomfortably on a soft curve of seemingly barren brown land, like a medieval knight’s encampment in the middle of nowhere.
Men in white suits and wellies milled about, squelching in the spongy loam underfoot, damp from recent rains. On the outer circle were a collection of official vehicles, almost all of them four wheel drives, almost all of them sporting wheeling lights of some description, almost all the vehicles parked or slung at odd angles, some coming to rest awkwardly after a slight skid in the mud.
Inside the small tent, the tent that men entered into looking brave and exited again very quickly looking pale, lay the remains of a man. His body was savagely torn open, his limbs eaten, but his face remained. It was fixed in a silent scream of unimaginable horror, the terror in his eyes spoke of something horrible, that something unearthly had been abroad that night. If not for the evisceration, the medical examiner would have sworn that the man had been killed by fright.
“Dogs, wild dogs,” the medical examiner announced, standing slowly, making his preliminary judgement as to the cause of death.
The local police and gilly nodded sagely.
“There’s been a pack of them, out hunting, nearly every week. They’ve been taking sheep, deer, the occasional dog, but never a man before.”
“Old Fletcher was probably an easy kill, the man could barely move these days.”
There was another round of nodding.
“What are we going to do about those dogs?”
Their attention and malcontent swung onto the local wildlife liaison officer, but he was not paying attention to them. He was crouched by a set of odd tracks in the mud, the few as yet undamaged by the commotion outside. They were like a bird’s, only larger than the span of his hand, as he held his own above them for scale.
It looked like the trail of an ostrich, or an emu. He remembered reading about cassowaries, who were also large, ancient flightless birds, and they could rip you open with one kick of their clawed foot. He didn’t think there were any of those fad farms nearby, they’d all gone bust in the early Nineties, but that didn’t mean a couple of birds hadn’t escaped into the wild, or some fool had imported one for a private zoo.
All private zoos were meant to be registered, but who knew, with all the land owned by American businessmen, actors and rock stars. It wasn’t as though he could march up to the front door and check. These fools imported all manner of creatures for their private menageries, then they either grew bored or the animal fell out of fashion, and the idiots set them loose in the wild.
The net result of the stupidity of these people was that Scotland now had a significant if unconfirmed population of feral beasties. Beasties that would prey on livestock, wildlife and family pets, and it was Roddy Ferguson’s job to track these creatures and capture them, if he could, whenever he had a sighting.
Some days he felt as though he did more big game hunting than Ernest Hemmingway. He often half thought of organising a hunt, only the fools that came up here to chase pheasant and deer had no idea how to truly hunt and track their prey, relying on servants to flush out the creatures.
Still, maybe a few locals beating the bush would flush out the latest beast that had gripped the local newspaper, if only he didn’t think it was so dangerous as it had proven itself to be.
“Oi, watch where yer putting yer great feet,” Roddy cursed at a clumsy technician.
“I want a plaster cast made of those tracks.”
“What, still think this was the work of your giant bird?” the local Inspector chuckled.
Roddy snapped off a glare and said nothing.
A copy of the casts Roddy had taken that day were sent to Aberdeen University for identification by the zoology department. They’d been on the verge of dismissing the tracks as those of a stray emu when a student had seen them, a student familiar with the work of Dr Alan Grant and his protégé. Upon closer examination it was decided that Dr Grant should be called for, to offer a second opinion.
A long, tall shadow fell over him and Billy squinted up into the sunlight, making out the shape of Alan against the angry afternoon sun. Alan was wearing his usual uniform, his hat down low, his eyes hidden by sunglasses.
Billy was kneeling before the exposed skeleton of an oviraptor, once a giant parrot like thing with attitude, now flattened into so much road kill. Billy had always wanted to unearth his own oviraptor, and, having done so, he was lavishing the sort of care and attention on these old calcified bones that he would normally lavish upon the skin of a lover.
The man himself was standing over him with the air of being about to say something important. Billy could read him all too easily, sitting back on his haunches, studying Alan with his remaining hand shielding his eyes against the sun.
“You’re leaving, aren’t you.”
It was an accusation, not a question.
“Billy, something’s come up. Somebody needs me to consult on something, a find. I’ll be gone a week, at most. I want you to stay here. This is your life’s work, Billy, and I won’t have it interrupted.”
Billy was already standing up, the bones forgotten.
“I’m coming with you.”
“No, Billy, you’re not. Your work is here, it’s too important.”
“So is yours,” Billy could see Alan was being evasive behind the gruffness. “You said it was your dream to get here. All your life, you’ve wanted to get here, and now the Chinese have finally opened up Mongolia to foreign scientists. We’re here, Alan. What could be more important?”
Alan shuffled around a bit, hands in his pockets, head down, uncomfortable with lying to Billy. So he didn’t.
“They’ve found something.”
“What could they possibly find in Scotland that could match this?” Billy waved his arm about expansively to encompass the roped off squares the size of shopping malls they were prospecting in.
“Raptor tracks,” Alan admitted. “Fresh raptor tracks.”
“I’m going with you.”
“No, Billy. They’re probably fake. Almost certainly fake, or mistaken. The guy said it could have been an escaped emu, from some farm or something. I just need to give them my opinion and then I’ll be back.”
“I’m going with you.” Billy was now standing toe to toe with Alan.
They were two completely different temperaments and they often ran up against each other. Even though they were both American born, their ancestry hadn't been entirely bred out of them. Billy Brennan was as Irish as his name, charm itself and a temper to match, and a silver tongue that could coax the very birds out of the trees.
Alan Grant, by contrast, was Scottish down to his bones: gruff, serious and no nonsense with a slow burning temper and a wickedly dark sense of humour.
Still, they clicked, each of them making up for the shortcomings of the other. It made for a good partnership, and they were happy.
Right now, Alan was annoyed. Billy was using all his charm on Alan and Alan knew damn well it was the wrong thing to give in. To go with him, Billy would be throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime. Alan was being very stern with him and refusing to let him go on a trip that had every hallmark of being nothing but the proverbial wild goose chase.
Billy, however, was being charming and attentive, in the way that always wore Alan down, the way water could wear down rock.
"Please," Billy tilted his head, all dimples, dragging out the middle of the word into a childlike plea.
His mother must have had a hard time ever saying no to Billy when he was growing up. At least before the estrangement that had blasted a no man's land between Billy and his family that only a few cousins dared to cross.
A couple of years ago Billy had been very sweetly earnest and insistent, flushed with youthful folly, that Alan accompany him home for thanksgiving as his guest, his special friend, his partner. Billy had indeed every intention of making a statement, only he'd meant for Alan to see just how serious and committed he was, that it wasn't, as Alan often feared, just a phase Billy was going through.
Unfortunately for Billy, allowing him to go to Berkley was as far as his parent's liberal leanings extended. It had been a cold and hostile weekend of unpleasant truths and Billy had been forced to choose between Alan and everything else.
Since then Alan had been Billy's only family and a friend of Billy's in law school had formalised this state of affairs in paper as much as possible, giving Alan power of attorney.
This was how it had fallen to Alan to consent to the amputation of Billy's arm, a decision he'd had to make on the spot, a decision he had yet to reconcile himself to.
Alan had worried that Billy's family would test their de facto status in court, but all he'd received were a couple of phone calls to ascertain whether Billy was alive or dead, and that was it. After that Alan had wanted nothing more to do with Billy's family, either.
Billy was still giving him the full puppy dog eyes treatment, with that wicked twinkle in his eyes that knew Alan would crack and fold. He did, every time. Billy had Alan wrapped around his little finger and he knew it and he used it and he even abused it a little.
"Please," Billy nudged, brushing against Alan, turning up the volume on his cute factor to an almost uncomfortable level.
Alan ducked his head, conceding defeat. He knew he was a weak, weak man, but precious few could withstand Billy Brennan in full schmooze mode. Especially not if they loved him dearly, which Alan did. It was emotional blackmail, but of the nicest kind.
It wasn't as if Alan didn't have his own little box of tricks. He had a glare that could burn a layer of skin off Billy in his arsenal which he used when he had to. There was also a look of pure menace that really got Billy moving, the one that promised hellfire and damnation if he dared disobedience.
Right now Alan was going to have to deal with a begging and pleading Billy as sternly as he could, which wasn't much at all. Billy knew deep down Alan was an old softie and his bark was much worse than his bite. Armed with this knowledge Alan's evil looks and temper only had the power to burn or sting temporarily.
Alan gave in. Once again he found himself on a plane, sitting beside Billy Brennan, not entirely sure as to what he’d find at the other end. Memories of previous encounters with live velociraptors had him ordering a couple of scotches too many as he tried to calm his nerves.
Even now his hand shook slighltly as he swallowed the last of the golden liquid in his glass, or maybe it was just the plane. He pushed his seat back, pulled his hat low and tried to ignore the shuddering as they flew through the storm front, and the memory of that last flight to Costa Rica came back, unbidden to his mind.
The plane dipped a little but Billy refused to let Alan be distracted, keeping Alan solely focused on why they'd snuck into the tiny little cubicle of a toilet in the first place.
Still, Alan's mind wandered.
"So, what do you think of the Kirbys, really?"
Billy gave him his 'you're kidding me' smile, considering Billy had better things to do than discuss their mysterious benefactors.
"I think they've got more money than sense and I think we should milk them for every cent that we can."
These last few words were drawn out, mirroring what he was doing to Alan, and Alan finally closed his eyes and shut up.
They'd brought each other off quickly in their flying loo like a couple of schoolboys. It had been one of the last times Billy had held him both arms.
Kirby had regarded them curiously as they'd returned to their seats, one after the other, but said nothing.
The plane shook again and Alan jerked awake, to find Billy watching him benevolently.
Damn, if that boy didn’t know him too well. He tried to disguise his
fear of the unknown as a fear of flying, cursing the shoddily made tin tube
that was rattling them like change in a pocket all the way to Edinburgh.