No infringement of the following characters 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.
When they arrived back at the base camp Alan busied himself with organising the supplies they’d brought back with them to be unloaded. They’d timed their arrival perfectly, just in time for lunch. Well, lunch on dig time anyway as they tended to start early and knock off early to avoid the heat of the noonday sun. Afternoons were for note making, sketching and fine work under the shade of tents.
Alan was amused as he watched his workers fall on the food like a plague of locusts. Then he saw Billy, standing alone and apart from the crowd, seeming at a loss, feeling useless.
Billy couldn’t help unload the truck, he couldn’t wield a pick or a shovel or a jackhammer. He had once hung upside down on the side of a cliff brandishing a battery powered drill one handed, but that had been because he had something to prove. Alan had said it was all right to let the new kids do all the brute heavy work, Billy was better used on fine work, scouting, recording and preservation anyway, but that hardly helped. It smacked of charity, of special treatment, and Billy had always been so hands on when on site. It had been one of the things that had first brought him to Alan's attention.
Alan looked up again from the feeding frenzy, students snatching food like seagulls scrapping over a box of chips, to see Billy grab his hat and pack from the back of the truck.
"Billy, what are you doing?" Alan asked, striding across to him, not liking this.
"Going bone hunting. It’s not like you need me here." He didn’t meet Alan’s eyes.
"It’s going to get hot," Alan replied evenly, squinting briefly at the sun above them.
"I’ll take water."
"I’ll go with you."
"I don’t need a nursemaid."
"Billy –" Alan shook his head, not entirely sure what was wrong.
Billy met his eyes at last, and his eyes were cold.
"Not now, Alan."
Alan shrugged. He reached into the truck cabin, caught up his pack, slung it on, slapped on his battered old hat and followed doggedly as Billy strode out furiously from the site. Going as fast as he was Alan was sure the only way Billy would see any bones would be to trip over them but he let Billy walk on until the heat leeched some of the anger out of him and he slowed up, enough for Alan to catch up a little closer.
Alan wasn’t sure what had brought on this sudden mood. Last night had turned over memories, and a few ill-considered remarks from the townsfolk as they’d gone shopping for supplies hadn’t helped. Not being able to pull his own weight, that was the kicker. It wasn’t enough to tell Billy that nobody had his eyes for spotting the tiniest metatarsal in a shelf of stone. Billy was a man and to be forced to stand aside while others carried his load – it bit deep.
Alan hadn’t lied, he did believe Billy was wasted on grunt work, and he hadn’t lied about the heat, either. It beat down on them relentlessly but Billy wasn’t stopping as he picked his way angrily along the goat track that wobbled around the lake.
Billy only slowed briefly once to pull his arm off and shove it in his backpack. He was sweating and it was rubbing and it was a dead weight hanging off his side anyway. He surprised Alan next by pulling off his longsleeved t-shirt and tying the arms around his neck like a faded red cape. He picked up the pace again, clipping the front of his pack so it wouldn’t slip off.
Alan wasn’t sure if Billy was just hot or feeling sufficiently isolated now that they’d walked far enough from the site or of he was rubbing Alan’s nose in it, in the deep heavy scars that crawled across his back, neck and shoulders.
Alan knew every centimetre of Billy’s body by sight and touch, so the scars were no longer shocking. He just wasn’t sure Billy wasn’t making a statement, and a cruel one at that.
Billy’s stump did look angry and red in the heat, but the rest of his skin, now pale and unused to the midday sun, was pinking up, too.
Alan supposed it was a good looking stump, if one could ever call it that, stopping about ten centimetres or so below Billy’s shoulder. The surgeons had been skilful and it had healed neatly and smooth, the scars discrete and cosmetic, unlike the other disfiguring rents and tears that marked his body.
‘Just as well it wasn’t my right’, Billy had joked crudely and feebly when he’d woken up to find his arm was gone. Alan meant to tut tut him but the sudden image of Billy masturbating had pulsed through him and flushed his face with heat and Billy, as if sensing his arousal, had seared a drug darkened, smouldering gaze in his direction, causing Alan to burn so brightly he was afraid of melting all the plastic in a radius about him.
The horrible reality of the bandaged, bloody stump where Billy’s arm had been, the hand that had traced his skin and bone so tenderly, it sliced through Alan like a blade of ice and he groaned slightly, feeling sick and needing to sit down all of a sudden.
"Don’t joke, Billy," he whispered, pleading, as he sank down gratefully in the plastic chair as the world tilted alarmingly. That was the moment he’d seen the first shadows slide across through Billy’s eyes like wraiths.
It was later, when he’d been sorting through Billy’s things, which had been handed to him without ceremony in a green plastic garbage bag, that he’d found Billy’s watch, the strap bloody and broken where it had been sliced off by the medics, the face cracked in a fractured spiderweb. He couldn’t bear the thought of giving it back to Billy, or to ever show it to him, so he’d kept it himself, in secret, locked away with his own most precious things.
Billy was still walking hard and fast, tearing, scratching and scrambling through the scrub, straining and pushing himself under the sun. Either he had something to prove or he was just walking away, from everything.
A spike of fear speared up through Alan. He was losing Billy, just watching him slipping and tumbling away and he couldn’t reach him, no matter how hard he tried. As always, Alan was too slow to react, too slow to see. Billy had been all smiles this morning but the darkness was always there, lurking beneath the surface. A part of the island had come back with Billy, vicious and tearing with tooth and claw.
Alan huffed and tried to keep up. He wouldn’t lose Billy, he couldn’t lose Billy. Billy was the most important thing in his life and he’d been soundly struck by that realisation like a vicious punch to his guts. He’d been surrounded by dinosaurs, living breathing dinosaurs, creatures he’d devoted his entire life to, and all he could think about was Billy. By some miracle he’d been granted a second chance and like hell was he going to screw it up this time.
"Billy," he called, standing and heaving, unable to match the pace any longer.
Billy turned, saw Alan red in the face, breathing hard and sweating, and was instantly repentant. His anger and hurt didn’t evaporate but it abated, sinking back down into the background hum of his life, with all of its other attendant aches and pains. He stepped forward, proffering his water bottle as a peace offering.
Alan took it, his eyes never leaving Billy’s as he drank.
"I love you, you know," he spoke quietly as he screwed the top back on before handing the bottle back.
Billy just stepped across the gap between them and kissed him. Alan was startled by the gesture but he closed his eyes and gave himself over to the kiss, drinking in Billy. Then he stepped back to take a breath, and the ground dropped away beneath him.
"Alan!" Billy reached out to catch him with an arm that wasn’t there and snagged only at empty air.
"Alan!" Billy scrambled down to where Alan had slid and rolled and tumbled. Billy’s heart was pounding in his ears but Alan was already sitting up and looking sheepish, slapping the dust off himself.
Billy should have known it would have taken more than a spill to knock the wind out of Alan. Nevertheless he crouched beside his mentor and ran a hand lightly over limbs and torso checking for broken bones. Then he sat back, laughing quietly.
"I’m glad my predicament amuses you," Alan groused.
Billy shook his head, pointing to the thin dark line exposed in the rocks Alan had dislodged.
Alan twisted to see, wincing as he did so, and shared Billy’s grin.
"You haven’t lost your touch," Billy teased. He crouched down beside Alan, pulled a small toothbrush from his pocket and began scrubbing away gently at stone and bone.
They worked on it together until the sun grew low, Alan picking away with hammer and chisel and Billy alternating between tooth brush and a paint brush for finer work. Finally Alan realised the time and tapped Billy on the shoulder.
Billy sat back, admiring their work. He pulled his camera from his bag and took a few pictures, recording the find, and Alan shoved a stick deep in the soil as a sign, so they could come back and do a proper survey tomorrow.
Alan stood and turned, catching the sunset that was playing out behind them. He tugged at Billy to join him and they watched it together for a few long minutes.
Billy seemed to have relaxed back into his old self as he watched the sky ripple into shades of darkening orange. He pulled his shirt back over his head as the temperature had dropped suddenly just as they were standing there, but he didn’t strap his arm back on. It just slapped into his hip like a rod of iron as he walked anyway. He tied a knot in the empty sleeve to stop it from flapping, pulling the knot tight with his teeth.
Alan knew better than to offer to help Billy pull his pack back on so he just waited, testing his torch, as they’d have to walk back in the dark. Alan wasn’t all that happy about the prospect, and he’d been paying far more attention to Billy than where he’d been going, but he had greater faith in his abilities these days to bumble through any sort of trouble they might run into and it was too cold to stay out here all night and people would have started to worry back at the site.
Digging for handholds and footholds they climbed slowly back up to the top of the ridge, Billy this time accepting Alan’s hand reaching down, pulling him back up with him..
Alan had to pause at the top to catch his breath, leaning over and breathing deep for a moment. Billy flashed a dimple at him in the twilight, the one that said ‘old man’ and Alan straightened, irked. A man had his pride, afterall.
They set off, Alan letting Billy lead the way, following the path Billy had charged through the undergrowth. They walked as the sky turned lavender then deepened towards violet as everything around them turned to black cut out shadows then joined with the darkness that fell around them.
Even as they walked, in comfortable silence, Alan was worried about Billy. He was concerned that things seemed to be getting worse, not better. Billy had been so happy to survive at first, to have Alan’s forgiveness, but now it seemed that wasn’t enough.
Alan was at a loss for words, for what to say, knowing anything he might say could only make it worse. ‘Tell me what’s wrong?’ would have sounded so foolish spoken out loud, as if it wasn’t perfectly obvious what was wrong.
Alan was floundering. He just didn’t know what to say or do to make things right. Ellie had never been one to leave things unspoken, the way Billy did. To be honest, in all his other relationships Alan had let the other person set the agenda, when to say hello and when to say goodbye. Sometimes Alan had been so busy working he’d barely noticed their absence.
Things were different now. Billy had demanded Alan’s attention, refusing anything less. Billy was everything to Alan: lover, best friend, collaborator, colleague. There was no part of his life Billy hadn’t touched and Alan couldn’t bear to lose that touch. He needed Billy like he needed to breathe and he could see Billy slipping away and he didn’t know how to reach out and grab him and hold him tight.
He didn’t even know what to say. ‘I’m sorry’ had been spoken so many times it had become meaningless. ‘Please don’t leave me’ sounded pathetic, and if Billy really wanted to go, no words on earth would stop him.
They’d been walking a long while by torchlight, each of them buried in their own thoughts when the unmistakable sound of something large and heavy stirred and crunched the undergrowth. They both stopped dead.
Billy had frozen instantly and Alan caught his fear, sensing it on a primitive primate level. Between the beats of his heart Alan imagined one of those terrible beasts lumbering close and snorting in the pale circles of light cast by their torches. Alan had never told Billy some of the animals had escaped, disappearing into forest canopy before they could be shot down. Alan had decided Billy had nightmares enough without knowing some of the creatures were still out there, but now for several horrible moments Alan thought they’d tracked them down, following Billy’s scent and they’d come back to finish the job.
The beast shifted heavily through the crackling sage brush again, as if to prove that they weren’t imagining horrors and Alan’s mind turned to bears and mountain lions. His hand crept slowly back to the side pocket of his pack where he always kept a pistol there these days, just in case. Twice bitten, as it were.
The creature huffed loudly and stamped at the ground and moved straight towards them, the brush grinding aside as the beast picked up a little speed.
Billy wasn’t moving at all and Alan stepped in front of him, an instinctive, protective gesture, and then Alan stepped forward, St George ready to challenge the dragon.
The beast surged out of the darkness to meet him, snorting hotly and trotting into the torch light, his large head buffeting Alan as he searched Alan all over for hidden treats.
Alan laughed with relief and patted the horse’s neck fondly, laughing at the scare they must have given each other. The horse had probably escaped from one of the local properties and as Alan petted and soothed the animal he considered tying to get a rope around the horse and taking it back with them. It didn’t hurt to stay on good terms with the local ranchers, after all.
He turned back to Billy with a grin but found Billy looking sallow and shaking, looking more than ready to fall down or throw up or both, and worse, as he realised stepping close enough to catch the scent – Billy had pissed himself.
Oh, god. There was a damp stain across the front of Billy’s cargoes and he was trembling like a tuning fork and his face was damp with tears and sweat and Alan wasn’t at all surprised when the boy just doubled over and vomited up what they’d had for breakfast.
Alan sat Billy down on the ground, washed his face and gave him some water to both rinse his mouth out and drink. He eased himself down beside Billy and waited for the shakes to subside. Gently, he reached out for Billy, who had sunk his head onto his knees, but Billy flinched from his touch.
"God, Billy, I’m so sorry for what that place has done to you."
Billy had never spoken of what had happened to him, alone on that island. He’d told Alan he didn’t remember and that might have been true at the time but Alan knew at least some of the memories had returned.
They’d tried counselling but forcing Billy to relive the greatest horror of his life for an hour every week had made things worse, not better, and Alan had always found it best just to get on with things. Billy had always been so fearless, that young, dumb and full of come mentality that made young men think they were immortal and unbreakable, but things had changed. Billy had changed. That blasted island had broken Billy, fractured his spirit, and Alan often felt it was the aftermath that had ground Billy down more than anything else. Blood poisoning had nearly killed Billy and the media attention, when he’d been so fragile, it had been too much.
It had been more than the island, too. Alan had learnt that his bad tempered words to Billy had not been forgotten or forgiven – Billy had made that brutally clear in one of his darkest moments.
Billy lifted his head. "I’m all right," he shot back sullenly.
Alan leant in closer. "I wish I could kiss it and make it better, but I can’t," he whispered and Billy looked at him at last, a look so lost, so far away that Alan knew Billy really was slipping away from him, piece by piece.
Alan drew back, his breath cold on his lips. "You want to help me catch the horse? We can say it followed us home."
The corner of Billy’s mouth twitched at that.
"Come on, then." Alan reached out a hand and pulled Billy to his feet.
People barely looked up when they wandered back into camp. It wasn’t that unusual for Alan and Billy to go monster hunting and they’d already dropped off the horse on the way back. Billy’s clothes had dried and they were both tired, cold and covered head to toe in mud, dust and dirt.
The trailer door and steps creaked and whined as they wearily trudged in. Billy started to head towards the fold out couch at the opposite end of the trailer but Alan grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him the other way.
"Alan, I’m tired –" Billy started to protest.
"You need a hot bath, a stiff drink and a good night’s sleep."
"Just a stiff drink?" Billy arched an eyebrow, more lively now that he was in safe within what passed for home.
"We’ll see," Alan smiled, more than a little wolfishly.
He pulled Billy’s shirt off, threw it in the corner, then turned away mid foreplay to turn on the bath taps, hoping the pumps could manage hot water tonight of all nights.
Billy doffed his boots and pants and looked up at a still fully clothed Alan.
"You’re not getting in?"
Alan smiled again, with a twinkle in his eye. "I’m going to wash you, and besides, I’d rather not swim in Billy soup – most times you can strain it."
Billy was too tired to care about the mild slight, sinking into the warm water. He drank the large glass of rum Alan forced on him and let Alan soothe and stroke him until his eyes closed softly.
Alan’s hand brushed against his cheek, and Alan’s lips murmured "I love you."
Billy’s impossibly long eyelashes fluttered open at that and darkened hazel eyes gazed up at Alan.
"That’s the second time today you’ve told me that you love me."
Alan smoothed a hand through Billy’s short, water darkened hair that curled damply in the steam.
"You used to know without my having to say it," Alan mused sadly.
Billy’s eyes glanced away.
"It’s not you, Alan, it’s – it’s like I can’t escape it, anyone it. Dinosaurs day in and day out, in the dust we breathe and eat."
Alan leant back a little, startled by that revelation.
"The dig, do you want to leave?" He hoped that getting Billy straight back in the saddle, as it were, would have helped.
Billy shifted, but eventually shook his head.
"No," he sighed. "Snake handlers get bit and they still keep handling snakes, and at least these bastards don’t bite. They’re dead and gone and all we’re digging up are ghosts – imprints, nothing more. Ghosts can keep you up all night, but they don’t bite."
Alan’s fingers brushed his face again, down Billy’s cheek to trace the scar that ran across his throat.
"I wish I could make it better."
"I know," Billy answered honestly, openly, and he tilted back his head, letting Alan lean in for one gentle, penitent kiss, just a pressing of lips. On the second kiss Alan licked slightly at Billy’s lips and on the third Billy’s mouth opened under his and their tongues touched and stroked together and Billy’s arm reached around him, pulling him down closer, driving the kiss deeper, more desperate.
Alan used one hand to prop himself above the bath, the other crawled down through the nest of darkened hairs that covered Billy’s chest, reminding him that Billy was a fully grown man, as much as Alan thought of him as a silly young boy at times. He followed the trail of hair as it pointed the way down to Billy’s groin.
Billy groaned and arched up his hips, pressing into Alan’s touch and as Alan kissed him hungrily he brought him off quickly and cleanly. He kissed Billy once more and then stood up, cricking audibly.
As the water drained out, leaving a Billy sized bath ring, a still wet Billy leant in dangerously close.
"Do you need a hand?" he grinned, breathing warmly on Alan.
"If you like," Alan grinned. He’d been about to send Billy to bed, but he’d do anything for these moments of closeness, rare and precious and finite as he now realised they were.
Billy was smiling at him.
"Anyone ever tell you that your were a prize pricktease, Mr Brennan? Don’t give me that look," Alan lectured. "I remember the way you used to look up at me through those lashes of yours, then you’d flash me a couple of dimples and lean in obscenely close and if that didn’t work you’d parade about the site with your shirt off. Don’t think that I’m so buried in my work that I don’t know when I’m being seduced."
"Worked though," Billy reminded.
"I grew tired of walking around harder than these damn –"
"Bones?" Billy supplied impishly.
"Rocks," Alan corrected primly, though there was anything but primness in his eyes. He was wearing that wolf about to devour Little Red Riding Hood leer of his. He sank into the bath and caught Billy’s hand as it glided by, twining his fingers with Billy’s.
"I still think you’re beautiful, you know," Alan spoke as he kissed each knuckle in turn. "The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen."
"I knew you just wanted me for my body," Billy teased.
"No." Alan wanted to make that very clear. "That’s just the icing on top. I love you Billy Brennan, body and soul, and I always will."
"That’s three," Billy noted, leaning forward to kiss Alan again. The rum and exhaustion were starting to hit him but he made Alan gasp his name and then they let out the water and went to bed.
Alan had wanted to curl up and snuggle a little but Billy had gone out like a light the moment he hit the sheets, just lying there like the dead. So Alan had been left to lie beside him, feel his warmth seeping across the bed towards him and listen to Billy breath softly in the darkness.
The official story had been that they shared a trailer as a cost cutting exercise, and if anyone had noticed how the couch was permanently covered in books and crap, no one had ever said anything. This time the couch was being used, as Billy slept there more often than not, but tonight he’d followed Alan into bed, from habit if nothing else, and it had been something, even if the rum and exhaustion had left Billy lying there like a log until the alarm had jerked him awake.
He groaned, rubbing his eyes, squinting at the darkness outside.
"Feels like I just went to sleep," he complained.
"You did," Alan replied sadistically. "We got home late." And palaeontologists kept farmer’s hours, rising before dawn to take full advantage of the cool early light.