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Icarus by alyse [Reviews - 11]
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Category: Jurassic Park III
Characters: Alan Grant
Rating: PG-13
Genres: Angst
Warnings: None

Summary: "You're going to burn." He already has.





Notes: For aithine.

~*~

There's a scar on Billy's forearm. It runs, red and thinly, along the back of his arm from just beneath his watch strap and then snakes underneath where it widens on the fleshy part as though something gripped and slipped.

He used to wear it with something close to pride, a 'fuck you' to the world and everything in it. He'd meet any curious gazes with a sardonic curl to his lip and watch their eyes skitter away when they realised they'd been caught staring.

Alan never stares. The absence of Alan's gaze burns more brightly than a thousand curious undergrads. Alan never stares and Alan's fingers no longer curl around his wrist to tilt his watch towards the sun and read the time on those occasions when Alan forgets to wear his own watch.

Billy wears long sleeves now.

~*~

The second summer after Billy came to work on Alan's dig, Alan had finally remembered his name and loosened up enough to drink beer with him around the campfire in the evening and ask him how his day had been. Billy had answered quickly and clearly, and more than once made Alan laugh, a low chuckle deep in his belly that set off butterflies in Billy's.

He'd lived for those evenings, when he could lean back and pretend that it was the warmth of the fire he was basking in.

By the third summer Billy knew that Alan preferred local brews to Budweiser and steak to ribs and Alan knew that Billy liked to soar. He hadn't understood it, hadn't felt the things that Billy did and it didn't matter. It was worth seeing the wry incomprehension in Alan's eyes while they ate overdone steak and rubbery eggs just to feel the warmth of Alan's leg where it pressed against his.

Afterwards, they'd delay going back to camp and nurse a beer or two instead, and Alan would watch Billy's hands as they darted about, trying to convey the sheer joy that 'gliding gave him. Alan still hadn't got it, even then, but he'd seemed to take pleasure in Billy's enthusiasm, making half-serious comments about Icarus, his head tilted and his eyes watching Billy from underneath the brim of his hat while a small smile played around his lips.

Warmed by that smile, Billy didn't take him seriously. He was twenty five. He was in love. He was never going to crash and burn.

By the end of the fifth summer, Billy knew he'd been wrong.

~*~

The Badlands of Montana where they dig are flat and barren; the days are warm, the nights are cool. They still have campfires in the evening but Billy doesn't go into town that often anymore. People stare there too. He and Alan are minor celebrities and he can live without that.

Besides, out here he can avoid listening to the radio or watching the news. They tick away in the background, measuring out his life in a low hum he can't ignore. A sighting here, a mutilated sheep there.

A missing child.

Out here the dinosaurs are dust and bone, teeth and claws blunted by time and the land is low plains that stretch for miles. The chosen dig site is far enough from the Rockies for them to be a purple haze in the distance, safe and dreamlike. There are no high and lofty roosts nearby, no sheep to graze upon.

But this is big sky country, and sometimes he thinks he'll bend under the weight of it. So he watches the earth and not the horizon, focusing on the dust and rock beneath his fingers until his eyes burn.

And if he wakes each night in a cold sweat, there's no one there to see it.

~*~

Billy's lying on the ground, brush in his hand and dust in his nostrils, when the sky darkens over him. His fingers tighten around the wooden handle, but he doesn't move. The shadow comes from beside him, not above, and even if it had come from overhead, staying still has always been his best option.

Alan's boot is digging in the dirt, back and forth. It's as battered as Alan himself if not as old, and as Alan scrapes it across the rock he sends up tiny flurries of dust that settle whitely on the leather.

When Billy finally looks up, the sun is behind Alan and he's a silhouette against the sky, his face shadowed by his hat. Like a mocked up dinosaur at an amusement park, unreal and remote, separated from him more by aeons than by fences.

The silence between them is as heavy as the hot, still air.

It's Alan who breaks it, coughing deep in his throat. It startles Billy for a second, this statue turning its head to the side, peering down at him. The sun catches the line of Alan's jaw, stubbled and tense.

"You'll burn if you're not careful."

The voice is gruff but not unkind, and Billy drops his eyes to the dust around Alan's feet with something akin to fascination.

"You should know better by now."

He should but they both know how reckless he is. How stupidly, wantonly reckless.

He sits back on his heels and watches Alan rub the back of his neck, Alan's eyes fixed on the mountain in the distance.

"At least wear a hat."

"I wear a hat."

When Alan glances down again, his expression is unreadable. The eyes might have given him away, because Alan could never hide things that well, but the hat, once again, obscures his face.

"You wear a baseball hat, Billy. That hardly provides enough protection when you're face down in the dirt all day."

The note of exasperation in Alan's voice sounds forced, but he welcomes it anyway. It's as close to normal as they've come since Billy earned his scars, and it's enough to have him making an effort of his own.

"I could wear it backwards."

He listens to Alan's snort and watches the sky, at least until he can't ignore Alan's fingers brushing over the bones he's uncovered. The touch is as reverent and gentle as always and now he watches them instead of the horizon, burying the familiar ache.

"It's hot."

Alan's fingers have stopped, resting on a jawbone. The teeth jut out, sharply outlined in the rock, and Billy says, "Yes." The word hangs between them as Alan draws his fingers back and leaves them hanging in the air between them too.

"You're going to burn."

"I know."

He already has.

Alan's sigh is so close he could close his eyes and imagine it brushing over his ear, stirring his hair. It's warm and smells of coffee; not fetid and stinking of Billy's blood. He doesn't look up. He's spent too long looking up and not at where he's going. Instead his eyes track the outline of the velociraptor he's uncovering, mentally calculating from the parts he's already exposed and the lie of the land where the rest of it might be.

He knows what they look like now.

"Here."

Alan's hand doesn't shake, but there's tension in the fingers that hold out his bandana and Billy lets his gaze rise as high as the hollow at the base of Alan's now bare throat before he takes it. It smells faintly of Alan's sweat and Alan's cologne as he ties it around his own neck and he imagines Alan's gaze on him as though it has physical weight.

When he glances up, though, Alan is back to staring at the mountains in the distance, his hands curled loosely on his thighs.

"I thought -"

He waits Alan out.

"Tonight…" Another beat. "I don't know about you, Billy, but I thought -"

He's silent, not to make it difficult for Alan but because at some point he turned to stone, everything leached out of him like the fossils they excavate day in, day out.

"Steak and eggs?"

The mountains are purple, smudged into shadows by the distance and the heat, but the sky is clear and Billy thinks it might stay that way.

"Sounds good."

Another sigh and this time it's almost close enough for Billy to feel the heat of it against his cheek.

"Good." Alan's hat is off his head and in his hand, being used to beat the dust out of the knees of his trousers. It's a familiar gesture and it makes Billy's throat ache. "I think Luanne might have missed us."

There's a sideways look that says more than Alan ever can and after that, rising to his own feet is automatic; where Alan leads he follows, and that hasn't changed.

For a long moment Alan looks at him, hat dangling from his fingers, his thinning hair plastered to his scalp and his expression uncertain. It's a weird look for Alan, and for a second Billy's fingers twitch with the need to trace it, as he does any unusual pattern carved into the rock. It's so crystal clear for a second, that urge, so there and real and overwhelming that his fingers rise an inch or so from his side and then hang there, motionless in the evening air.

Alan's eyes are blue, but they're not the clear blue of the sky. There are other colours in there and they shift as Alan coughs and looks away, then back. His hand reaches out, the move deliberate, and his fingers curl around Billy's wrist.

"They stop serving food at nine, right?" He tilts Billy's watch into the sun. "We've got some light left." Alan's hand is warm, and the calloused pads of his fingers press against the inside of Billy's forearm, right over the pulse point. "Might as well make the most of it." His thumb comes to a natural rest over the scar on the back and lies there, rough and warm and solid. "If we leave at eight, we should still make it."

He doesn't let go immediately; instead his thumb brushes softly over the raised skin of the scar once, twice.

It doesn't hurt anymore.

"The first round's on me."

Alan's smile is crooked and his fingers slide slowly over Billy's skin, brushing along the length of his palm before they're gone entirely.

"Okay," Billy says after some thought. "But I'm having ribs."

When Alan laughs it feels like the sun's come out and Billy thinks that he might finally remember what it's like to soar.

The End






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