Well, inspite of being left alone minding the store on Deadline Day, I've still managed to finish off a section, as promised. I've only proofed it a few times, so please forgive any rough edges. I also should apologise for the M7 fic bleed, but I think it worked okay and they are in Montana after all, home of Lonesome Dove and one of these days I'll do that LD fic that's rolling around my head. One of these days. This is for the friend who had the go and buy the dvd. Sorry about that, Chief - grin.
No infringement of the followingcharacters and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. Contains adult themes
Title: Here there be Dragons
Series: Jurassic Park III
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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, drug use, nudity, coarse language, horror, dodgy research, adult themes
Spoilers: Jurassic Park III
Summary: Going out on a limb here, ahem, as the boys deal with the scars from Isla Surna.
Alan had exposed a good portion of the predator's hindquarters before he decided to call it quits for the day. It was quite a walk back to the camp and
he wanted to double check his notes and organise a proper survey of the site tomorrow. He needed to arrange hauling the scanning equipment up here, just to see exactly what he had and whether he could spare the time or resources, or if he should just record the location, preserve it as best he could and save it for another season.
The climb back up was easier too as he'd brought a rope and he used
that to half pull Billy up the ridge as he climbed. Billy wasn't bad as a one handed climber, but it was easier when he had help and harnesses.
Alan let Billy coil the rope away once they'd climbed back up, Alan babbling away excitedly about the find and Billy not really listening. Billy was too busy thinking of all the mountains he'd climbed, and would never climb again.
There were a great many things Billy would never be able to do again. He doubted even his ability to make heads turn when he walked into a room, except to stare unkindly.
Billy had always been proud of his body, and with good reason, as his genes had blessed him with a beauty that even turned hidebound palaeontology professors into jelly. As an undergrad Billy had never been short of a fuck, and he'd been with Alan exclusively these last three years or so of his life. He used to be able to make people stare, and he still could, only these days they looked at him with pity and not admiration. He had a metal claw where his hand should be, and only Alan, his dear Alan, would have him now.
Billy had wanted Alan since he'd been about fifteen, when he'd seen him on television once. Smitten, Billy had read every book, every magazine article. He'd sat in on Alan's lectures and had made a single-minded pursuit of the only man who seemed to understand his passion for long dead things. He'd volunteered on Alan's digs while still in high school but Alan, bless his old fashioned heart, had refused to notice Billy until Billy had been old enough to buy him a beer. It must have cost poor Alan dear, because Billy had been outrageous in his flirtations, the way only young men can be. He'd wandered in and out of Alan's life, gradually becoming wrapped up in his own life and his own friends. He'd almost been ready to give up and move on when Alan had finally given in to his charms, returning Billy's kiss after a long hot day and too much beer.
Billy loved Alan dearly, and he knew Alan hadn't really meant what he'd said that horrible day. It had just been that place, Billy's stupid actions, the whole ultimate camping trip weekend from hell experience. They'd been tired and scared and tempers had understandably frayed. Alan's venom though, it had stung him deeply and left a scar. Even though Alan had taken it back, it had been their first real, terrible rift and those moments, they never went away, like a fracture in a glass.
Billy followed Alan, head down, still barely listening as Alan described his hopes of finding the skull intact with those large and impressive meat eating jaws.
Billy suddenly stopped walking, annoyed.
"How do you do it, Alan? How do you stay so enthusiastic, knowing what these things are, what they can do?"
"It's not the same thing, Billy," Alan placated.
"The hell they're not. If it walk like a duck and talks like a duck..."
"They're not the same. We don't know fully how InGen made them, or what they spliced in to make up for missing gene sequences, whether they cloned enough to make a viable population."
"It looked pretty viable to me."
"They're not true dinosaurs, Billy."
"People say that about GM crops, but that doesn't stop them from turning those crops into tacos."
It was Alan's turn to stop walking. He turned to face Billy with a weary exhalation, allowing the horse that had been following them along the ridge to catch up and push at Billy, demanding attention.
Billy ran his hand over the horse's neck, patting it.
"He must like you," Alan teased, trying to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, who doesn't," Billy tossed off. "He sounded much bigger in the dark."
"Things do," Alan agreed, sensing something dreadfully brittle in Billy's tone.
Billy was rubbing the star on the horse's forehead mournfully.
"All I've ever wanted to be was a palaeontologist."
Alan sighed again, slumping slightly with weariness.
"If I've pushed too hard, Billy, I'm sorry. I thought it would be better if I just got you back in the saddle, that things would take care of themselves, but if it's too hard, too painful, if you need to do something else, I'll understand."
"You don't understand," Billy wailed miserably. "You'll never understand."
That did it. It was Alan's turn to push back, and push back hard.
"Billy - you've got to tell me what the hell is going on with you. You're up, you're down, you're all over the place - it's like walking through a fucking minefield."
Billy shot him that shocked, wounded look again, the one Alan had hoped never to see again, but too late, the words were out.
Billy's hurt quickly turned into a snarl.
"I lost my fucking arm, I can barely do my fucking job. I'm a freak and a charity case and I don't have to close my eyes to be in a nightmare. I'm not like you, Alan. I'm not as good as you. I'm not as fucking cold and shut down as you. I can't brush aside what happened like it was a fucking tea party, the way you do. Oh, please forgive little Billy, he made such a mess of things on the island." The sarcasm dripped from his voice. "It fucking destroyed my life. Some days I wish I'd died there."
"Billy, you don't mean that."
"The fuck I don't. You made it sound like fun, Alan. Damn you, you made it sound like fun." Tears bubbled up and spilled over his eyes. "You'd seen them, you'd actually seen them. That all I wanted - just to see them. I just wanted to see what you'd seen," he pleaded.
"I know," Alan offered quietly. "I'm sorry. I should have told you exactly how dangerous it was. I should have told you the bloody awful truth of it. I should have never have let you talk me into going there. I didn't want to admit how scared I'd been, how badly I'd screwed up, how I survived by accident. I'm sorry, Billy. You shouldn't have had to pay for my own cowardice or incompetence."
"But I did," Billy sobbed. "I just wanted to be like you. I just wanted to see."
"I know, I know. I'm so sorry, Billy."
Alan held him close, trying to soothe him, rubbing his hands down Billy's trembling spine. Billy pressed tight against him, as if he was trying to crawl into Alan's skin, then just as suddenly he pulled away, wild fury in his eyes.
Billy's hand was tangling with the horse's mane. Suddenly he had swung himself up onto the horse with his one hand, leant forward and dug his heels into the horse's flesh.
"Billy - no!"
But Billy had already dug his heels in hard, causing the horse to surge past Alan and gallop away across the plain.
"Billy! Billy - no!" Alan cried after him as Billy raced away from him. "Billy!" Alan called after him, knowing it was hopeless.
Alan slapped his hat against his thigh in anger. The damn fool would probably fall off and break his neck. Hissing, fed up, he began to trot after Billy's direction, fully expecting to find a human heap lying upon the ground.
Billy rode, just rode, without sense or direction, just needing to get away from everything, needing to be free. The horse sensed this and they rode wild together, man and beast, bounding across the land, blood pumping, hearts beating, flying like the wind.
Billy laughed. It had been ages since he'd felt so free, so alive. They slowed as they came to the top of a ridge and he patted the horse's sweating side, leaning down to whisper what a good horse it was.
It was when he sat back up that he saw it. The wind carried it to them and the horse twitched with nervousness. Billy's own skin tightened, raising every hair. In spite of the huge thumping fear that was uncoiling in his stomach Billy clicked the horse onwards, picking their way slowly down onto the field.
As Billy rode closer he saw the field scattered with cattle, all lying down. There was something else in the field beside the cattle. A large dark creature was spread over one of the calves, feeding, tearing strips of flesh from the carcass.
Sensing an intruder it cocked its head up, then spread its large leathery wings and pushed off up into the air, hovering for a moment in the sky like a giant mythical beast.
It slapped at the air with an enormous wingspan and slowly took to the skies and circled the field once or twice in a low gliding swoop before flapping and wheeling away, riding the air currents.
People would tell Billy he'd just seen a vulture, an uncommonly large vulture, but Billy knew different and his fear transferred itself to the horse who huffed and resisted Billy's urges to move forward, to go closer until Billy finally dug his heels in its flanks. He had to see, he had to know.
As the horse trotted down amongst the cattle Billy started to gag as the air was thick with the stench of blood and death. This was a killing field.
Billy and the horse slowed to a walk, stepping uneasily through a field of carnage. Cattle, all around him, lying dead and mutilated in the field, their flesh ripped and torn open. Such a sight would have been dreadful enough, except the way the carcasses had been sliced up, from the shoulders, back and sides rather than attacks from below to the throat and belly like you'd except a cat or wild dog to do. It made Billy's blood freeze, made his heart beat fast and made his skin break out in a cold clammy sweat as he slipped from the horse. It nervously pawed the ground behind him while he knelt by the nearest carcass. He didn't want to believe what he was seeing. With shaking hands he drew his ruler from his pack and measured the bite marks. Too large, far too large unless the dog was the size of the Hound of the Baskervilles. He counted the claw marks dragged through the hide and found only three toes, not four, more than once. He dropped his ruler, scrambling back, breathing hard. No, please no. He didn't want to believe what he was seeing. Surely Alan would have told him if some of the creatures had escaped the island? Surely Alan wouldn't have lied?
Billy was still crouching by one of the carcasses, taking photographs, when a ranch hand rode up. Billy stood and turned to face him, still winding on his film.
"You press?" he was asked in a surly tone.
Billy shook his head.
"Ranger? Sheriff? Animal patrol?"
"Student, from the dinosaur dig." Billy answered, all open friendliness, an act he had refined by now.
The ranch hand leant forward in his horse and squinted at him suspiciously.
"You think a dinosaur did this?"
Billy glanced down at the ground, unable to answer what he feared the most.
"What do you think did this?" he countered. "Bear, mountain lion, wolf?" he pressed, begging to be told he was an idiot, that he was seeing monsters in every shadow, that he'd lost it. Strangely, insanity was the most comforting option right now. He'd be happier if the monsters were just in his head, and not roaming loose around the countryside.
"Nope," the cowboy shook his head, breaking Billy's heart. "I ain't ever seen anything like this. I ain't never seen anything that'd tear up an animal like that."
Billy had, and he wore the scars everyday but the gashes on his face and throat could have come from anywhere, so he pulled of his shirt and he showed the cowboy just what terrible jaws and talons could do to human flesh. Deep rents dragged through his skin where the talons had dug into his shoulders, clawed at his side and ripped down his back.
"What the hell kind of an animal did that?" the cowboy wanted to know, leaning forward in his saddle.
"Big bird. Big, big, bad tempered bird," Billy answered, pulling back on his shirt. He was shaking now, sure that he wasn't just imaging things. Worse, the cowboy seemed to agree.
"You think whatever got you got these beeves? Same marks, I'll give you that. I heard tell of a big bird, like those Jurassic Park things - say, aren't you that boy who was half eaten by them things? You saying that they're here? That they come after you?"
The questions followed him but Billy was already backing away, unable to deal with the harsh reality, the sight, the smell, it was all the same. It was back, it had come to get him, the nightmare was still happening.
He swung back onto the horse and just rode fast and far away, as if he could ever escape it, leaving the cowboy hollering after him and calling him a horse thief.
Billy was sitting quietly on a canvas chair, breaking up pieces of crackers and tossing them to the large black crows that had gathered around his feet, jostling for a treat. Another crow flew down low over his shoulder, wings spread wide, and he flinched in spite of himself, feeling the rush of wind against his cheek. He kept throwing them the crackers and watching them, studying the way they moved, they way they talked and squabbled and snapped and eyed off each other, strutting around, preening and watching him just as closely back.
He was beginning to think Alan needed to lift his head out of the sedimentary rocks occasionally, and that maybe by studying existing creatures he could gain a better idea of the behaviours of long dead ones. Of course these birds were communicating with each other as they viciously enforced their pecking order.
The Ranger's truck pulled up to park above him on the rise and Alan got out the passenger door. He didn't look happy.
"I hear you've been having adventures," Alan began. "And I see you have a pet." He noted the horse cropping the grass nearby.
Billy let Alan's bad temper wash off him like water. He stood, throwing out the rest of the crackers to the crows who snapped angrily amongst themselves as they fought over the crumbs.
"Come on, I want to show you something." He led the way into the tent where his prints were hanging off a clothesline, drying like laundry. He unpegged a couple and laid them out for Alan and the ranger to see.
"Yes, we've been having a problem with wild dogs," the Ranger admitted. It was her turn to suffer Alan's steely glare.
"And you didn't think to tell me? I have children here - students," he corrected himself.
"It's not wild dogs," Billy interrupted. "Look." He pointed down to the photo, tracing out the distinctive three clawed tear. Then he pulled up his sleeve, revealing the same three scars that dragged up his arm. It was Billy's turn to gaze at Alan like a sullen, beaten dog.
"You lied to me. Some of them got off the island, didn't they." It was an accusation.
"Three that we know about, possibly more. They tried to shoot them down, but -" Alan shrugged.
Billy turned away angrily, hugging himself.
"Billy, that's Costa Rica. This is Montana, far away from there. You'd suffered enough, you didn't need to know. I wanted you to feel safe here."
Billy snapped around. "What if I'm not?! I've been searching on the net - did you know there have been sightings of an enormous dark coloured bird with at wing span over twenty feet wide, just gliding, sailing alongside prop planes up in the Northwest?"
"The Northwest is too cold -"
"How do you know what's too cold for these animals, Alan? Every sighting confirms a pteranondon. If they're in Washington, they can be in Montana. I'm not safe and you lied to me."
"Billy, I -"
"Fuck you." Billy had turned away again, still hugging himself. "Just fuck you, Alan."
The Ranger, sensing she had stepped into an uncomfortable domestic scene, was studying the photos.
"You really think one of those dinosaurs did this?"
"Have you ever seen a big cat or wild dogs attack like that?" Billy countered, turning back to the table slightly.
"No," she had to admit. "Not like that. The local ranchers thought it might be some of those wolves, maybe mixed in with a dog pack, or a big old cat, maybe a bear. A couple have sworn they've seen a big old bull eagle or a vulture, circling a kill."
Alan saw Billy turn away again, his back and shoulders tightening.
Billy turned on him, thin lipped, cold and furious. "Don't. Just don't."
He stalked past Alan and Alan heard him slam into the trailer.
"He was on the island," Alan offered by way of explanation, pretending to barely notice that he'd probably just lost the love of his life forever, for the want of a few more careless words.
"His arm?" she asked, and Alan nodded.
He handed her one of Billy's photos. "Have some of your experts check these out. If they can't match those kills to any known animal, then we're only left with the improbable."
"Can't you tell, just by looking at these?"
Alan shook his head. "I'll need to check. My field of expertise lies in velociraptors, and I hope to God none of those have made it to shore."
Alan turned back to his study of Billy's photos, his way of dismissing her. He wasn't in the mood for company.
Alan set the book down and rubbed his eyes. He was tired, running solely on coffee and a strong undercurrent of dread that Billy might actually be right.
Proving it was another thing. They hadn't found an pteranodons in the rock fields this season - thank god, he'd thought at the time, but it meant he had nothing to make a case study of up close. The tiny black and white pictures and hand drawn illustrations in his books were next to useless.
He'd thought of calling around to see if anyone had a complete skeleton he could examine up close in a hurry, but he wasn't ready to expose himself to complete ridicule just yet. He could just hear the crowing from his erstwhile colleagues, that Alan Grant had finally lost it. No, he needed something more than just Billy's word for it, especially as Billy's current emotional state wouldn't bear scrutiny if Alan went public.
Alan pushed the book away, annoyed. He needed a full sized, intact as possible skeleton to examine, and he needed to compare the talons to the only evidence he knew that recorded a pteranodon's predatory habits - the scars on Billy's back and shoulders.
He stepped cautiously into the trailer. It was eerily dark and quiet, too quiet.
Billy was curled on his side on the couch, unmoving.
Alan perched on the edge of the couch, rubbing Billy's back softly, trying to wake him gently, but Billy failed to stir. That's when Alan checked for a pulse, and while he was doing that he saw the bottle of sleeping pills sitting on the window sill. He snatched it up and shook it. It rattled hollowly against his ear, with only one or two tablets left inside.
"Billy, Billy." Alan started shaking him roughly. "Billy, how many of these damn things did you take?"
Billy stirred grudgingly in his arms, trying to push Alan away but make no real success of it.
"Three," Billy slurred. Not enough to kill himself, just enough to wipe everything out, to make everything numb.
"Damn it, Billy, you're going to be the death of me," Alan cursed, relieved, feeling his own heart start to beat again at last.
"Come on." He pulled Billy heavily to his feet and walked him slowly down the length of the trailer towards his own bed, rolling Billy into the middle and tucking the sleeping bags around him.
Alan switched on his reading lamp and settled down beside Billy, propping himself up on some pillows. He ran a sadly fond hand through the curling, silky strands of Billy's dust coloured hair as the boy slept.
Alan should have known keeping back that particular piece of information would have come back to bite him on the arse. He'd just wanted Billy to feel safe. He'd done it with the best of intentions, so of course it had all gone to hell.
After a while of quiet reading Alan watched Billy snuffle and roll onto his stomach, sound asleep. Alan watched him sleep, considering a plan of action, then glanced towards the little digital camera that sat perched atop a pile of books. Alan had bought the camera as a present, but Billy had proven emotionally attached to his old SLR camera, a film purist, and he'd claimed his old camera was less fussy anyway. A claim Alan couldn't dispute as they'd still managed to get useable prints out of Billy's camera after all it had been through on the island.
Nevertheless, Alan thought, and he began to gently ease Billy out of his shirt.
"Fuck off, Alan," Billy mumbled, before sinking back into his empty slumber.
With Billy's bare back now exposed, Alan angled the reading lamp just so and he quietly took his pictures. Feeling too much like some sort of creep he set the camera aside again after he'd taken the bare minimum of shots, meaning to transfer the pictures to Billy's laptop later. Instead Alan picked up his journal and began to quietly sketch Billy's scars, writing his estimates of the size and breadth in the margins as he went. He worked away studiously, recording each line with great care and accuracy. This suited him much better. It felt less intrusive, less pornographic.
Never forgetting for a moment whose back he was making a study of, he reached out and gently traces one of the jagged lines that cut across the skin as Billy breathed softly.
He still didn't know how Billy had survived. Somehow Billy had gotten away from the pteranodons and dragged his torn and broken body all the way to the coast. Billy had been all alone, bleeding profusely, crippled, the perfect prey, and he'd spent one cold, rainswept night out in the open, and yet somehow he'd just been too stubborn to give up and die.
Alan couldn't imagine what it must have been like, to be frightened, alone, in pain and close to death in that terrible place.
Billy had dragged and clawed his way out of the jungle and Alan refused to believe Billy was ready to give up now. Delayed shock was all this was. This too shall pass, Alan reminded himself.