Title: Two Men on a Rock
Characters: Alan Grant, Earl Basset
Summary: Tremors/JP3 crossover, post Tremors 1 and JP3. Earl and Grant are trapped by the Graboids and so take the opportunity to discuss something that's important to them both.
Earl broke the silence as he cleared his throat. Alan glanced his way, but the old handyman just looked out over the flat empty desert of perfection valley, not meeting his eyes. The two of them were sitting on a bare rock, one of many that littered the floor of Perfection Valley.
Below them, beneath the sand, a deadly prehistoric worm was waiting to drag them under with it's snake-like tongues and eat them alive.
This however, did not seem to bother them. They had passed the last three hours mostly in silence, only occasionally broken by casual conversation. They were both men who were accustomed to the desert, it's lonely vastness, and above all it's silence. They were also some of the few people in the world who had become, through repeated trauma, acclimatized to the threat of being killed by monsters just out of reach. So when faced with the possibility of being trapped on this rock for days by an invisible and unpredictable monster, they hadn't wasted any time screaming or otherwise wasting energy, they had simply settled in to wait, each occupied by their own thoughts.
Earl licked his dry lips. "So." He started.
Alan looked at him.
"Real hot out here." Earl noted, not taking his eyes off the desert.
Alan squinted up at the sun. "Its probably in the 90's." He agreed, taking a swig from his water bottle, mind clearly jumping to hydration issues out here in the shadeless desert. He then offered the bottle to Earl.
He took it. "Thanks." Earl took a sip, not saying anything more for a moment, but he kept stealing sidelong glances at the palaeontologist. There was a tension now between them as Earl thought about how to approach the subject. "So…. You and Billy." He said eventually.
Alan was glad he was wearing sun glasses, so Earl couldn't see him wince.
Earl swirled the water around in the bottle, wishing it were beer. He was an articulate enough person, but no-one should be expected to tackle this particular discussion completely sober. "You've known him a while, I guess?"
"Since his third year." Alan said. "So seven years." He clarified.
Earl sighed, and looked back across the desert, towards the bluffs in the near distance that rendered communication to the outside impossible, and Alan's cell phone inoperable. "Longer than I knew him." He admitted. To Earl, Billy was still the eager 5 year old who had brought him scorpions in empty jars and broken his leg when he'd tried to fly using a home made parachute. That was the same 5 year old who had been loaded into the family truck late one night, with his and his mother's belongings packed into the back, and driven away with only a note explaining that she couldn't take it any longer.
It had been Perfection. It had been the emptiness. It had been the parched, red landscape and imposing sky that could crush a girl who had married far too early.
Maybe it had been Earl too.
Earl rubbed his palm against the bristles on his chin. "Billy grew up real good."
"Your son is very smart, and it's been a privilege to work with him." Alan said guardedly.
"I know I might not have the right, since I was never that much of a father to him… but I figure it's a dad's job to make sure his son is being taken care of properly." Earl said.
Alan took a thoughtful breath inward. "Billy is…. Very special, and…" It was his turn to clear his throat. "Mr. Basset… I can assure you that Billy is being taken care of, by someone who loves him very much."
Earl nodded. "Whoever that is… I want them to know that he deserved a helluva lot more than I ever gave him."
The palaeontologist said nothing.
"Promise me something." Earl said at last. "Never let that kid out of your sight."
"Not for a second." Alan answered immediately. "Never again." He repeated, more passion in his voice than earl had heard since they had met.
It is impossible to know if Earl meant to say more, because at that moment he spotted a dust cloud on the horizon and jumped up, shading his eyes. "It's the truck! It has to be! Dust cloud that size!"
Alan stood as well, squinting into the distance. "Billy."