What I meant to say was I love you
What's been killin' me is I hurt you
What I didn't do was hold you when I saw the teardrops fall
What I should've said was I'm sorry
What I should've said was forgive me
What I meant to say was what I didn't say at all
- What I Meant to Say by Wade Hayes
God, as if it wasnt enough that the kid was dead, he was dead thinking that Alan hated him. He hadnt meant it. Hed been scared, angry, hed lashed out at Billy... when he hadnt deserved it. Billy had been trying to help. Deep down, Alan knew that, had even known it at the time, but hed let himself lose his temper anyway.
It wasnt supposed to be this way. That thought kept spinning through his mind as Alan Grant sat still as a stone against the back of the boat. The only sound was the soft chirping of insects, or maybe small dinos, and the steady, rhythmic clunking of water under the boat.
It wasnt supposed to be this way. Billy was young, strong, and smart. He was not supposed to be dead. Certainly not dead before Alan. He never should have brought him to this island, anywhere near this island. How could he have been so blind? Call it what you like, the chaos theory or Murphys Law, these islands attracted trouble. These islands were solid proof that the best intentions and the best laid plans were the fastest route to hell.
But still, even in his worst nightmares Alan had never imagined the kids life would end this way... mauled by the very creatures hed spent his every waking moment adoring, while his lover stood mere feet away, powerless to save him.
Eric must have noticed his pained expression, because he suddenly stood and walked over to sit in front of him.
Alan was surprised to hear the sound of his own voice, and even more surprised by how casual his words were when he spoke.
How are you doing, Eric?
Im sorry about Billy, Eric said, as though it had been his fault. Hah, what a joke. It was Alans fault. All his fault.
You know what the last thing I said to him was? Alan said, softly, I said, Youre no better than the people who built this place. Which wasnt true. Billy was just... young, thats all.
He always said the wrong thing. Always. He didnt intend to, exactly, it just happened that way. Why was it so easy for him to say such cruel things... and so hard to say I love you? Why could he lie so easily, and yet find it so hard to speak the simple truth?
Billy knew he loved him. Alan knew that he knew. It was just... hard.
He felt a sudden burst of warmth on his neck as they sailed clear of the forest and into an open field. Erics eyes lit up, and Alan looked to see what had brought on that reaction.
Bright, evening sunlight made the meadow almost glow. Hundreds of dinos were flocking here... graceful, peaceful giants who watched them pass. For a moment at least, the pure beauty of it all warmed his heart.
Know something, Dr. Grant? Billy was right, Eric said.
Theyd met shortly before Ellie and her husband had, in a hotel bar on the first night of a paleontology conference. Alan hadnt come to the bar for conversation, really, he came to be passively surrounded by people. He hated public speaking, and by extension, hated these conferences, but he loved the people here. He loved to be surrounded by others who were just as passionate as he was about dusty old bones. Just sitting in the bar, listening to the chatter around him was enough to make him smile.
And then there was that boy. He seemed to be part of a group, but he was spending a lot of time just silently eyeing Alan. Ok, a lot of people in the bar were eyeing Alan. He was a celebrity. The thing that made this guy different was the fact that Alan was watching him back.
He was handsome. Young. Had the most beautiful smile Alan had ever seen. And there was something about the way his gaze was tracing over Alan that made him suspect the boys interest went a little beyond your run-of-the-mill isnt that the guy who was at Jurassic Park variety. There was heat behind that stare.
Naturally, Billy made the first move. The kid was an adrenaline junky. Hed try anything. He sidled up to the bar and slid onto the empty stool beside Alan.
Hi. I would say arent you Alan Grant, but I already know that you are... and... he lowered his voice to the point even Alan could barely hear him, that would be a pretty damn sorry pick-up line.
Alan laughed at that, more from relief that they were on the same page than from actual humor. He wasnt sure what to say, but Billy wasnt done yet. He held out his hand.
Im Billy Brennan. Ive been working at digs my whole life, I love dinosaurs, I live in Colorado... nominally... I dont stay in one place much, and, just to get us started on the inane conversation we are required to have before we say anything intelligent, I think the weather here is rather nice.
All that in one breath. Ok, Im impressed, Alan said with a smile. He shook Billys outstretched hand. Call me Alan.
And with that, the next chapter of Alans life began. They actually did talk about the weather briefly, then segued smoothly from local weather to weather in general, and then on to anecdotes about the effect of weather on paleontology digs. From there, things really took off.
Sometime during that night the bar closed, and they moved their conversation up to Alans room. Talking led to touching, and it was nearly dawn before they finally managed to grab an hour or two of sleep, wrapped in each others arms.
By the end of the week, they were inseparable.
Hey, this guy with you?
Alan froze, not daring to hope. Billy twisted his head around to see him, and grinned. All Alan could think was that one of these days, that kid really was going to give him a heart attack. He knelt beside Billy, just barely stroking his shoulder. He didnt even remember what it was he said, just remembered locking his gaze onto Billys and not letting go, pouring his heart out through his eyes, and hoping that Billy understood: Im so sorry. I love you.
Billy just smiled.
I rescued your hat, he said, holding out the battered thing.
Alan took it with numb fingers, his mind reeling. Good God, the boy had just been practically pecked to pieces by dinosaurs, and hed managed to think clearly enough, to *care* enough, to find a *hat?* Alans throat tightened, and for the first time his eyes prickled with tears. Everything in him wanted to break that barrier, to say to hell with discretion, to hell with all this repression crap. Everything in him wanted to pull Billy into his arms, kiss him, hold him, tell him he loved him.
But he couldnt do it. Couldnt say it. From a distance he heard his own voice say, cynically, Well, thats the important thing, right?
And then, before he could right that terrible wrong, someone pulled Alan away, told him to sit down. He touched Billys cheek ever so briefly and took his seat.
All through the ride back to the carrier he felt it weighing on him. Hed done it again, covered his feelings with a careless remark. Hell, raptors could talk, why couldnt he?
Billy was taken to a hospital immediatly, but the others had to stay to get things sorted out, so it was several days before Alan could join him. Several agonizingly long days.
He turned the handle slowly and pushed open the door to Billys room, wincing at the slight creak. He slipped inside and pressed the door shut quietly with one hand. Only then, did he notice Billys eyes were open and watching him, so all of his efforts had been for naught.
Youre awake. Nice to see you back among the living.
Alan cringed at his own badly worded remark, but Billy didnt seem to mind. He lifted his hand off the sheets and inclined it toward Alan.
No one will see. Hold my hand? he said, softly.
Alan found himself blinking back tears again as he pulled one of the hard plastic chairs over to the bedside and took Billys hand in both of his own. The words Im sorry pressed against the back of his throat, but they made it no farther.
I love you, Billy said, as though he were commenting on the weather. Alan tightened his lips, and raised one of his hands to stroke Billys short curls.
You need your rest, he said, hating himself for his cowardice. Close your eyes. Ill be here when you wake up.
He watched as Billys eyelids fluttered shut, his breathing evened out. He waited a long time, just watching the younger mans chest rise and fall with each breath, then bent and buried his face against Billys neck.
i love you, billy. so much, he whispered, so soft he could barely hear himself. He felt Billys hand tighten briefly around his own, and when he raised his head, he caught the ghost of a smile on his lovers lips.
See, Billy murmured, not opening his eyes, Its not that hard.