No infringement of the following characters
and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. Contains adult themes
Title: Working Without A Net
Series: Jurassic Park III
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pairing: Alan Grant/Billy Brennan
Date: 18 July 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: Dinosaurs aren't the deadliest creatures on the planet.
Previously: In this series Billy carries the scars of Isla Sorna, most noticeably in the loss of his left arm, but also emotionally. Now new horrors are about to be piled upon old and even if Billy survives, his relationship with Alan might not.
"Tell me his real name, please," Billy was begging. He'd come to Thames House on a mission, unable to put Iain's ghost to rest in his mind.
"No, impossible. We can't just give that information to just any Tom, Dick or Harry, not even the BBC," the grey suited man added, pointedly.
Billy slumped back, defeated.
"Then give me back whatever film and notes you've recovered. You owe me that much at least. I'll need them for the book everybody's expecting. You wouldn't want me to rely solely on memories, innuendo and speculation." His voice was dripping with sarcasm and anger.
"I'll see what I can do. We can rely on your continued complete discretion of course?"
"Haven't I been a good little boy so far?" Billy challenged. There was a threat in his voice, and the civil servant heard it.
"You'll get your material," the man in the suit promised. Vetted and edited of course, but it was better than nothing. As Mr Brennan had ably pointed out, to say nothing would just lead to more awkward questions and more trouble and the last thing either the BBC or the British, American or Russian governments needed were more questions and more trouble.
They let him go with a promise and more mutterings about uppity Americans behind his back. Billy didn't care. He wanted whatever he could get his hands on, because, politically embarrassing or not, he wasn't about to let Iain be forgotten.
Billy's dogged loyalty to his friend and colleague earned him some credit with the Brits, and for that reason alone they would move to give him what he wanted, as much as possible.
It felt more and more like Alan actually had to book ahead to schedule time with Billy, and he was frequently disappointed. Which was probably why he was pathetically grateful Billy had spent the whole morning with him, just the two of them, though Billy had been working, skimming through journals as he sipped too strong black coffee and smoked those wretched, foul smelling cigarettes he'd developed an unfortunate addiction to. Billy smoked more and more, a restless, nervous habit and Alan hated it.
Alan kept his own counsel on this and many other things, making allowances for Billy, excusing Billy of a great many transgressions. Things were swiftly coming to a head, though, and Alan wasn't one to sit very long in silence once his temper had been roused.
Alan watched Billy, and studied the way Billy flicked from page to page, the way he alternated taking a drag from his cigarette, gulping his coffee or scrawling notes, all with a nervous quickness that irritated Alan. Alan quietly measured when would be the best time to re-enter the discussion on returning to the States. He had his own work to consider, and he was rapidly coming to the conclusion that staying in London was doing Billy more harm than good.
Billy seemed to be at everyone's beck and call and he seemed worn thin with the sheer energy expended in dashing from place to place, trying to be all things to all people.
Billy, in Alan's considered opinion, needed some quiet time away from this circus. Alan desperately wanted to take Billy away from here, and he fantasised about slipping Billy a Mickey Finn and kidnapping Billy to some remote dig site where mobile phones couldn't reach them. Alberta, maybe, or Mongolia, even better. They’d enjoyed Mongolia.
Billy continued to flitter through his work at hummingbird speed, unaware of Alan's gaze or the plans being hatched behind those bright blue eyes that watched him like a predator, just waiting for an opportunity.
As if to prove a point, Billy's mobile suddenly peeped in his pocket. He fished it out, read the cryptic text message and frowned. It just gave the name of a church and a time. Then he realised what it meant.
"Work," he fudged softly to Alan. "Gotta go."
He kissed Alan lightly on the cheek, picked up his coat, and left.
The door closed, leaving a somewhat bewildered Alan in his wake. Alan wasn't stupid, he knew something was going on. Maybe Billy's producer or publicist had suddenly beckoned, or maybe the spooks hadn't finished with him. Something had definitely happened on that train ride, more than just being taken hostage, something Billy wasn't telling him, perhaps even something Billy couldn't tell him.
Billy stepped forward and tossed a single, long stemmed white rose down onto the coffin, then stepped back, ignoring the curiosity of Iain's colleagues who thought the rose an odd choice of memorial. Billy caught the eye of a slim, blonde haired woman, a fellow American, someone he knew by sight and reputation at least, and she also looked and felt out of place, but he glanced away, not wanting to deal with it, any of it, now, or ever. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away, not wanting anyone else to ask him who he was, or why he was there.
Iain had been his friend, his colleague, and Iain had died for him. That's all Billy cared about, or wanted to care about. Everything else, his work, people's expectations, they just weren't important.
He cut a sullen figure as he walked away, and he knew they were watching him, but he didn't care.
Alan was miserably hunched over the table with the phone cradled against his ear, spilling his guts down the line to the only person he trusted, the only person he knew well enough to actually care.
"All I wanted was my Billy back. In all those long, terrible weeks, that's all I wanted. Only, I didn't get my Billy back, did I," he announced bitterly. "He's a stranger, and entirely different person, and I'm not sure - he's so much harder to even like. Much harder."
Ellie bit her lip, taking this sudden news to heart. Alan had been so happy, and now he sounded so bitter. This was not the heart-warming reunion she'd hoped for. The Alan she knew had never, ever given up on Billy, until now.
"Do you - do you want to love him?" she asked.
"I don't know."
She could feel the anguish and confusion in Alan's voice, and she wanted to hold him.
"If I could see just a flash, just a piece of who he used to be in his eyes, I know I could love him again, but -"
"Maybe you need to give him time. Maybe he's still processing what happened to him.
"Maybe," Alan sighed. "I just don't know. I don't know anything any more. He's a complete stranger to me, going out at all hours, keeping secrets, drinking and smoking heavily and god only knows what else. He doesn't even smell or sound or even taste like Billy. It's like - it's like he's an imposter. I'm not sure I can -"
"It's up to you, Alan. If you want to try, try. If you don't, that's fine, too, but you've got to talk to Billy before you make up your mind. At least try and get through to him, make him understand how you feel. He's been through a lot, he might not even realise what he's doing."
Alan wasn't so sure. He keenly felt that Billy had been holding him at arm's length. It felt over.
"I'll try," he murmured, more for Ellie's sake than his.
He put the phone down and scrubbed at his face with his hands. Now what? He still loved Billy, with all of his heart, only this creature that had returned, it wasn't Billy. It didn't even have Billy's eyes. It didn't laugh and play or smile and tease. This creature had new habits, a new tone of voice and was far more brutal and cold and unresponsive than Billy could ever be. This creature had secrets and it hid all its thoughts and feelings from Alan. This creature treated Alan as an embarrassing inconvenience, not the other part of his soul. This creature was not Billy, and Alan hated it.
Alan sat down alone on the couch that smelled strongly of those filthy cigarettes and grieved for the Billy he'd lost and now knew would never return.
After a while Alan rose stiffly and walked over to the explosion of Malcolm's chaos theory in action that was Billy's work area in the corner of the living room, Alan having taken over the spare bedroom. That simple fact in itself was evidence that something was terribly wrong. Alan had tried not to crowd Billy or smother him, and now he found himself excluded, isolated, removed to the far corner of the flat like so much unwanted junk.
Alan began picking through Billy's things, trying to get a sense of what Billy was up to and who he was now. If Billy wouldn't talk to him, well, it wasn't beyond Alan's abilities to theorise from what he found buried in the sedimentary layers of Billy's mess.
Alan could see from the debris scattered across Billy's desk that he was working on several projects at once: his notes on his recent ordeal, attempts to salvage that series on dinosaur hunting, preliminary work on a new series on international fossil thieves, the outlines for the accompanying books, a couple of half written children's books and a pile of work for an upcoming display and talk at the Natural history museum.
Billy might no longer get his hands dirty digging up old bones, but he was certainly busy. Legitimately busy. Other celebrity scientists might have research drones to help carry the load, but Billy was regarded as enough of a parasite by some of the palaeontology fraternity that he had no choice but to do as much of his research on his own and all his own writing.
Billy had tried to explain to Alan that picking over the bones of other people's research was as valid as picking over actual bones, but Alan was still having difficulty resigning himself to the fact that his protégé had become exactly the sort of indoor palaeontologist Alan normally despised. Alan's imagined future of them both digging side by side under the hot sun, excitedly caressing the dust from some new found discovery, these dreams were all ruined.
More so, Alan finally realised that this flat, which had been little more than a flop house with a mattress and a couple of suitcases when Billy had first bought it, was now a fully furnished and fully functional home. Things from Billy's place in San Francisco that had not made it to Alan's place were here. The bulk of Billy's belongings and research was here, and he had neighbours who greeted him by name and grocers who kept things aside for him. Hell, he even had a casual soccer team that he played for on Saturdays when he was available.
It struck Alan like a mallet as he was standing there that he hadn't come here to take Billy home at all. Billy was already home.
Alan was sadly replacing Billy’s workbooks on the shelves where he’d found them, when a small notebook slipped from Alan’s hands.
The picture fell from Billy's journal, a picture of Billy and another young handsome man, both hugging each other and mugging shamelessly for the camera. It was a recent photo, taken on a recent adventure. Alan studied it, and felt the dark spike of jealousy stab at him again.
Billy had his own life, his own career, his own friends and his own adventures, and Alan just couldn't touch that. He didn't mean to be needy and insecure, but there was something in the evident closeness of the two young men. He realised this was probably the friend of Billy's who had died. He set the photo back down. Whatever their friendship might have been, it was over now.
A more suspicious man might have suspect Billy of an affair, but Alan knew it simply wasn't true. It just couldn’t be true. Alan at least was still prepared to believe in Billy and excuse his behaviour.
Billy was messed up. Billy was obviously still deeply traumatised and he'd used all these countless errands as camouflage, obviously unwilling to let Alan get too close, to let Alan see his weaknesses.
Everyone had been fussing over the physical effects of his captivity, but nobody had really bothered with Billy's emotional scars, finding it too easy to take Billy's assertions that he was fine at face value, because it was easier that way.
It was easier for Alan that way. Alan was of a different generation, less given to wearing his emotions on the surface the way Billy was. As much as Alan often felt himself stuffy and hamstrung when it came to saying the right thing, and as much as he loved the way Billy would dance across feelings like the fluttering flight of a butterfly, it also made Billy more fragile, more easily wounded, the cuts finding blood every time.
Alan had been distracted by Billy's sleight of hand, seeing only the noise Billy made on the surface, missing the deeper darkness that kept Billy awake at nights unless he took something.
Enough was enough. Alan wasn't going to let the tail wag the dog any more. He'd let Billy push him around too much and maybe that's what Billy needed most: Alan to be his old self and to keep him in line. Alan meant to put things back on a even keel. Billy either sat still long enough for them to figure out where they were, or he didn't. It was as simple as that, and as painful.
It was easy enough for Alan to stand here in this empty room and make plans for Billy, it was quite another to get Billy to listen. Nor was it easy for Alan to consider drastic action like ending it. Almost impossible, in fact. Not only did he feel a strong duty of care towards Billy, Billy was the great love of Alan's life, and it would take a great deal to wipe away everything they had meant to each other.
Alan, for his part, knew that he was still in love. He had been, ever since that dusty afternoon in Montana…
Billy had thought Alan was asleep. He'd certainly looked asleep. Billy had reached down and unbuckled his own belt and pulled it open, and a large hand had closed over his. A warm, callused hand. He glanced up into crystal clear blue eyes that were watching him, curious and amused to see what his next move would be.
Billy pulled open his jeans and pushed them open wider, making his intention and invitation clear. He watched Alan for several long moments, just breathing, hardening in anticipation, and that warm callused hand closed around him at last, and Billy closed his eyes in relief. Alan's hand slid up and down, hesitant at first, and Billy twitched his hips forward.
Alan took the hint, suddenly realising or remembering what to do, that the strokes he used on himself would do perfectly well for Billy.
Billy agreed, giving voice to a soft groan of pleasure, then a second, a little louder, and Alan kissed him, to shut him up if nothing else. Alan's arm was starting to burn with the effort and he knew damn well Billy was trying to hold back, trying to make it last as long as possible, the little bastard, but he finally began to tense in spite of himself and spilled warm and sticky into Alan's hand.
Billy had sighed and snuggled blindly against Alan, still all unzipped and messy, burrowing into his warmth.
Alan, after an awkward moment, had wrapped his arms around Billy and held him tight, feeling Billy's heart still beating fast. He caught the sound of his own name murmured against his skin. Not Dr Grant, or any of the names Billy called him behind his back when he thought he was out of earshot, but Alan, and said so softly, so sweetly.
Alan had still been spinning over that when Billy's stubbled cheek had grazed his throat and half murmured the words: "Love you."
Alan wasn't sure he'd even heard the words or heard them right but he stopped breathing for a minute so he must have. Billy's hair was so soft against his cheek, and Billy's lips were tickling his skin and Alan's heart belonged to Billy from that moment on. Because Alan had known Billy had meant it.
This wasn't some silly student crush, though Billy had pursued and pouted and flirted as wildly as any of them. Billy had made himself indispensable, had insinuated himself as Alan's right hand man, and more. They'd eased into a comfortable friendship and partnership and now it was sealed. Billy was serious and so, Alan was surprised to find in himself, was he. He knew what this meant, and he meant to keep the promise he'd kissed lightly onto the top of Billy's head.
Alan wasn't over Billy yet, and he wasn't about to give up on him this time. Billy had taught Alan that brutal lesson before, of underestimating him, and Alan wasn't about to repeat that mistake. Not so long as there was still something to cling to, the way Billy had clung to his stupid hat. No so long as there was still something between them.
"Tired?" Alan dropped a kiss lightly on the top of Billy's head. He reached over Billy's shoulder, saved his work and shut the laptop down.
"Hey," Billy protested, though it was a mild protest. Once upon a time Alan would have hit the off button before the save button, and then Billy would have really had something to complain about.
Billy slumped back in his chair. He was tired, and it showed clearly on his face.
Alan could see it, too. He wished Billy would listen to him and not drive himself so hard. It was like Billy had something to prove, and Alan supposed he had, in many ways.
It had been a long road back for Billy, from the island to here. Billy had been in hospital for so long after Isla Sorna. It was like all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again. They'd sewn him up as best they could but he'd been so ill. Blood poisoning and pneumonia had kept him down, hovering near death for weeks. In the darkest hours Billy had lapsed into a coma. Alan had been warned to expect the worst, told to say his goodbyes, and had been told at best there would be some form of damage. Alan had waited and watched, hoping the doctors had only told him the worst case scenario so he wouldn't sue.
In the end Billy had emerged from his ordeal, and though Alan knew he would never be entirely the same again, but he was still Billy. Billy would always carry the scars from the island, he tired more easily and was quicker to anger, but he was still Billy.
Even now, as much as he tried to pretend Alan wasn't here and as much as he kept himself busy trying to forget his latest horrors, he was still Billy. Nothing ever stayed the same and Alan had to adapt to the changing canvas that was his lover. Alan of all people knew that. Billy was evolving, growing through each ordeal from a boy into a man right before his eyes and Alan knew he either grew and changed with him or he might as well lie down with the bones he studied.
"Come to bed?" Alan asked, gently massaging Billy's shoulders.
Billy rubbed his eyes. He wanted to say no but he was so damned tired and Alan’s hands felt so damn good.
"Okay, but I don't..."
"It's okay. Just come to bed with me. Just to sleep."
Billy gave in, letting Alan lead him to his room, lie him down and wrap around him, warm under the quilt. It was nice, it was comforting, and he fell asleep before he even realised it.
Alan quietly watched him sleep. Nothing stayed the same, and every moment
was precious. Especially these moments with Billy.