a/n: *windmill-kicks your door in* I'm back and just in time for the new movie. get wrecked on dinosaurs and small, adorable children in danger. the Spanish at the beginning is a little wonky. translation is: "he's having a seizure!" "get in here!" "I need twenty grams of benzodiazepines". last installment.
"Oh, I'm sorry… just give me your hand."
"Esta teniendo un ataque!"
"Necesito veinte gramos de benzodiacepinas."
The first time he woke up, he was promptly harangued by a nurse who didn't seem to understand he had yet to pick up any Spanish. He was only able to manage a reedy, ghostly whisper of "where?" before the fog settled back over his brain
The second time had shook a little clarity into his shaken snow globe mind. Doctor Ramirez was at his bedside and armed with an absurdly big syringe that—in Alan's opinion—warranted a sluggish fit of panic. Though he didn't feel the needle enter his body, he saw it retracting from his arm like a mosquito that had eaten its fill. Feeling justifiably betrayed and hopelessly doped up, he allowed himself to grey out again. This whole anesthesia business was becoming rather tiresome.
When Alan Grant woke again, he knew it would be the last time. The gauzy shroud over his vision had been lifted; his brain felt as though it could possibly send enough signals to move his arm (which was now branded with a purplish pinprick where he'd been injected). His lower back, which had ached with methodical, unrelenting intensity in his drug dreams, was blissfully numb. He almost felt human.
He glanced around the room, trying to recognize his surroundings and failing miserably, when he spotted a blonde smudge in the armchair across from him. "Ellie?"
"No." Lex leaned forward, looking slightly embarrassed. "It's me."
A joy like he had never known swelled over him. Alan had hoped Ellie wouldn't be the first to visit him, if only to spare her the grief of watching her fiancee struggle to form coherent sentences while doctors plugged him full of painkillers. Ever since the Montana accident, he had been vigilant about divulging signs of weakness: it was just too uncomfortable for him. Allowing her to sit with him during the examination had been nothing short of excruciating. And he missed Lex terribly. Between Tim's diagnosis and his own trip to Dizzyland, he hadn't seen as much as her as he liked.
Her hair was pulled up into a high ponytail that emphasized the sweet delicacy of her face and revealed the stitches marching across her forehead. The swelling had finally ebbed, restoring the healthiness to her visage that he had sorely missed. She smiled shyly down at him. "How're you feeling, Alan?"
"A little drugged up," he admitted, struggling to pull himself into an upright position; the wires and tubes that had taken up residence in his arm tugged painfully. "Never do anesthesia, Lex."
She spared him a pity giggle. "You bet."
Alan couldn't think of much to say, which he chalked up to the lingering effects of the dope. The incessant part of himself that insisted on dissecting everything suggested that it was his reluctance to admit that he cared more about the children than anything in his life. He was afraid to speak; if he said something thickheaded—as he so often did—he could potentially lose her. After everything they had survived, he feared failing her in the safety of the real world.
She hadn't wept for her father in the Jeep for nothing.
Lex didn't seem to mind the silence. She had brought up a sudoku page from her room and continued to fill it out while Alan contemplated his quandary and the flannel taste in his mouth. Finally, she set it aside and sighed. "I guess you want to know how things are."
This had failed to occur to Alan until now. "Of course, uh, I mean, I've been out for… uh…"
"Almost a day and a half," Lex answered with a grin. "The doctor told us you could be released tomorrow if you had some appointments when you got home. Ellie and me got released today. Timmy had… he had another seizure. It looked like a seizure on TV, where you just kind of flop around and can't talk. So the doctors want to watch him for twenty-four hours. But he can go home with us tomorrow if he gets a prescription when we get home."
Alan sat back against the pillow, feeling slightly overwhelmed. He didn't know whether to feel ecstatic that he could finally leave this hellish hospital or terrified for Tim. Just like one on TV. He thought of Cujo, where the little boy had dissolved into a convulsive state shortly before dying; Alan quickly forced himself to stop thinking about that. "That's… that's awful, Lex. I'm sorry you had to see it."
"I just want to go home," she said softly.
"Don't worry." He extended his hand to her; she accepted it, squeezing his callused fingers as if they were all that were keeping her grounded. "We'll be home soon."
"Alan, will we see you again?" She asked this so urgently that, in the midst of his surprise, he couldn't supply a proper answer. Her eyes glinted with a shrink-wrap of tears.
Would he? Alan had acclimated himself to this niche so completely that he couldn't imagine abandoning it. He couldn't imagine Lex and Tim being separated from him for an hour, let alone for a lifetime. But if he and Ellie returned to Montana… if they picked up the shards of their life and moved on… would they see the children? Would they collectively move on from this?
How could he move on from his family?
Alan knew it was probably a little unethical to consider the children his own when he had only known them for a few days. But his mind was unable to conjure up a future without them, a future without attending games and recitals and graduations and weddings and birthdays. He wanted to watch Lex walk across the stage—or, better yet, deliver her valedictorian speech from the podium. He wanted to bring Tim to the dig site and teach him about the thing he loved so dearly and tear his bandana in half so they could both bandage their callused palms. He wanted to be there with Ellie on his arm, to pass her a tissue when her eyes inevitably watered, to take everyone out for ice cream afterwards. He had never wanted anything more in his life.
Finally, he said: "Of course you will, Lex. How could I not?"
She sniffled and gripped his hand all the tighter. "I don't want you to leave us."
"Lex." Alan cradled her cheek in his free hand, for once not feeling uncomfortable. There was no reason to now. "I will never leave you. I made a promise that I wouldn't, remember? I meant it."
Then she was on him, crying and hugging at his neck. Alan ran what he hoped was a soothing hand down her heaving back and wondered if he and Ellie might one day have children as amazing as the Murphy siblings.
Until that day though, he would just have to be there for them.
"And what's his name again?"
"That's Jose Cortez. He's not good, but they let 'em play because, um, because he's got a sponsorship and his wife is some big movie star."
Ellie smiled in amusement as the men dashed around the bases in the wake of what Tim grandly referred to as a "grand slam". Baseball definitely wasn't her forte, but he seemed to know enough about the game and its players to warrant a doctorate in the subject. Tim, more alert than he had been in days, was braced against Ellie's side in the bed they had designated the "living room" of his little space. The chair in the corner was the bedroom; the sagging end table was the dining room. And the television was, of course, the entertainment room.
"And who pitches again?"
"Diego Martinez. He's really good. I have his baseball card, but only because I traded my Nicolas Gutierrez one for it." Ellie decided from his grave tone that this had been an enormous decision for the eight-year-old.
They watched in comfortable silence as the score volleyed between the teams, constantly shifting in such a way that Ellie didn't think was feasible for a slow game like baseball. When a round of Spanish commercials temporarily ruled the broadcast, she yawned and stretched her arms high over her head. "Do you go to a lot of baseball games?"
Tim's expression fell so swiftly that Ellie thought for a terrifying moment that he was about have another seizure. "No. Dad usually takes Lex because she plays softball and stuff, and I don't."
Ellie realized she had struck a nerve. "Oh, I see… well, do you do other things with your dad?"
"Not really. He thinks dinosaurs are lame. We went to some museums last year, but Lex said it was only 'cause he wanted to make my mom mad. They're getting a divorce," he added quietly, as if the word were taboo.
She squeezed his shoulder reassuringly and nodded with a confidence that made him turn his face up to her. "My parents got a divorce when I was eleven. I hated them for putting me through it. I threatened to run away if they actually separated, but… well, that doesn't work. And they tried to win me over with presents and trips, so that I would play favorites and pick one parent over the other. Is that what's going on?"
Tim could only nod; he didn't trust his voice yet.
"Do you think it's your fault?"
Again a nod, this time accompanied by an unshed tear. "Maybe if I did sports like Lex, Dad wouldn't want to leave so bad. He doesn't even care that he's leaving. And he wants us to pick favorites, but I… I don't wanna pick favorites. I want both of them to stay."
Ellie gently swiped the tear away with her thumb, feeling her heart break for him. She had blamed herself too when her parents had made the official announcement: it was difficult not to under such hostile circumstances. When there no other discernible cause for unhappiness between parents, that left only oneself to blame. "I know, Tim. But it's not your fault at all. It's not Lex's fault. Sometimes, parents just stop loving each other like they did and decide it's better to separate so that they can be happier. But you shouldn't have to pick sides. That's not your job. Your job is to make sure you and Lex are safe and happy."
"I can do that," Tim said with a tentative smile.
"I know you can," Ellie reaffirmed, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "Now, you better catch me up, because I don't have a clue what they're doing now. Who's winning?"
Ian visited them during dinner. Alan and Tim had been given clearance by Doctor Ramirez to have a proper meal, and were enjoying their newfound liberation from IV's with coffee and grilled cheese, respectively.
Always one to make a theatrical entrance, Ian rammed the door open with his bad leg's coffin-thick cast and wheeled in nonchalantly as if he hadn't just given the lot of them quadruple heart attacks. "And what have we here? The average all-American family dinner?"
"Ian!" The children leapt up to flock around the man, who basked in the glow of their affection with a smarmy grin. Alan still didn't know why children were so attracted to the likes of Ian Malcolm, but he wasn't in the mood to be petty. In fact, he found himself smiling begrudgingly at Ian's effortless charm. He could almost tolerate him.
"Now, now, I don't want any wheelchair sympathy," he announced as the siblings bombarded him with questions about his condition. "I just want to be pushed down the hallway as fast as possible. No questions asked. This may not be the last time I'm in a wheelchair, but I'd like the first time to be memorable."
Lex and Tim clambered for the chance to carry out Ian's wish; their voices carried across the corridor as they pushed him out of the room. Ellie promptly began to giggle hysterically.
Alan coerced himself not to laugh, which was quite an arduous task considering Ellie was practically snorting now. "I'll never know why that man is so beloved."
"Oh, Alan," she sighed, hiccupping. "Don't question it. Ian's just… Ian. And there's something great about that."
Aware that Ian would keep the children occupied for as long as his patience lasted, the two doctors unfolded themselves across the "living room". Alan lifted his sore arm to Ellie; she snuggled against his side and shivered with absolute delight as his hand closed over her forearm. It was a position they invariably fell into when together: at the movies, in bed, even at the dig site while the generator booted up (although that version was typically a little more modest). Ellie had long ago decided that her personal definition of an oasis was Alan Grant's arms.
"I can't believe how well this turned out," she said, tracing a hand lazily across his chest.
He chucked lightly. "All things considered."
"Right. All things considered."
"The kids adjusted well, don't you think?"
"All things considered," Ellie teased, eking another laugh out of her fiancé. "But you're right. Aside from all the medical drama, they've… well, they've adjusted."
Alan felt the conversation shift and cautiously approached the subject that was on both their minds. "Ellie… are you worried about leaving the kids?"
"Yes," she answered without hesitation. "I think we've gotten a little too attached, Alan. I'm looking at them like they're my own children and its… well, I guess it's not right."
"Lex cried today because she was afraid we'd leave them forever. I told her that of course we'd see them again, but how? After everything…" Alan trailed off. He loathed to perceive the situation so selfishly, but it was the truth: he doubted he could visit the kids without some part of himself screaming "they're your family!" from the metaphorical rooftops of his mind.
"I think the feeling's mutual. Tim told me that their parents are getting divorced and, from the sound of it, things aren't exactly pleasant at their house right now. They're attached too. And I don't… I don't want to leave them, Alan. I want to be a part of their lives. And I know you do too," Ellie added, sparing him the embarrassment of verbally agreeing with the sentiment.
"Of course I want to be a part of their lives. But how big a part? How far can we go before we're intruding?"
Ellie hadn't deliberated that angle of the situation yet. She knew that the Murphy siblings had biological parents and that Alan and she, perfect strangers, had no right to boldly invade their lives when their family dynamic was already balancing so precariously on the verge of catastrophe. "Well… maybe we could be godparents. Or an honorary aunt and uncle. Something where we'd see them often, but not so much that it felt invasive."
Godparent. It still had the word "parent" in it. For whatever reason though, this didn't bother Alan: if anything, he was overjoyed to hold the title. "Godparent. I like the sound of that."
"Me too." Ellie pecked his cheek affectionately. "But let's hold out until we meet their parents. I think we need to get introductions out of the way before we start putting ourselves in the family tree."
"You'll always think about it that way, though," Alan said, his tone so sober that Ellie glanced back up in surprise. "In the way we aren't supposed to."
He had been wounded by the park. The surgical scar branding the small of his back and the way he bristled whenever a scream ripped through the hospital was evidence enough of that. But he had been wounded deeper, far beyond what could be snipped away and stitched together. Alan had been given two children that weren't his own to love. That cut deep: she knew because the pain was occasionally unbearable.
"Of course I will."
The private jet arrived the next day at three in the afternoon. Hammond, foreseeing some minor inconveniences for his guests, had a package sent that was delivered to them earlier in the day. It contained clean clothes for all of them, as well as some much-needed toiletries, an envelope labeled "$1500", and a note from Hammond.
Alan had reluctantly scanned the note while Ellie helped the children dress and brush their teeth. It included a confirmation that Hammond had alerted the children's parents, who would meet them at the jet port, and that a second jet had been arranged for the doctors. According to Hammond, the case had gone "just peachy" and there would be more money in the near future, primarily in the form of dig funds. Alan hadn't been able to bring himself to conjure up any enthusiasm about this promise; after all, it would be just like Hammond to never follow-through.
They boarded, armed with well wishes from the entire hospital staff and an absolutely exhausted Raoul, and found themselves just as relieved as they had been upon fleeing the island. It wasn't long before Tim had his head tucked in Alan's lap; soon after, Lex struck up a similar arrangement with Ellie's shoulder.
Once Ellie dozed off, Alan found himself inexplicably happy. He dreaded the road to recovery, which was bound to be wrought with obstacles of every conceivable shape and size, and the inevitable media hounding. Digging would never be the same. Montana would never be the same. He would be leaving behind the two people he held closest to his heart.
As they flew steadily across the verdant landscapes below, Alan found himself smiling in spite of these things. He knew Lex and Tim could never be his own children, nor would he ever dare to label them as such. But the four of them would always be a family and nothing—neither dinosaurs nor divorce papers—would ever change that.
a/n: I literally wrote this whole thing in one sitting, holy shit. well I couldn't have done it without you guys. I can't believe how much attention this story received and I'm certain that if it weren't for your kindness, I wouldn't have been able to finish this story. I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did and that you'll keep loving jurassic park. until next time.