Title: Spot the Dinosaur
Fandom: Jurassic Park 3
Pairing: Alan Grant/Billy Brennan
Spoilers: All of the movie, not that there's really anything to spoil
Email: ruuger (at) gmail.com
I'm Ruuger and I'm here to talk about the love that is Alan/Billy in Jurassic Park III.
Yes, Jurassic Park III.
Those of you who have not seen the movie are probably thinking, "But aren't the Jurassic Park movies just silly films about CGI dinosaurs?" Well, yes, the first two movies are silly movies about CGI dinosaurs, but the third one is a silly movie about the love between Alan Grant and Billy Brennan. No, really, it is.
To paraphrase what someone smarter than me has said, and which seems to be the motto of Alan/Billy fans - not seeing the slash is like not seeing the dinosaurs.
And believe me, they have some really big dinosaurs in this movie. I'm not usually one to notice even canon pairings let alone subtext when I'm watching a movie or a TV-show, but this time even I could see it. The main thought in my mind after seeing JP3 (alongside "It would take special training to make a movie that sucked more than this") was "Am I imagining things, or did Alan Grant bring his boyfriend along to Isla Sorna?"
Jurassic Park III doesn't have subtext. It has "jumping up and down waving its arms and shouting 'Here I am!" text.
"I read both of your books. I liked the first one more. Before you were on the island. You liked dinosaurs back then."
"Back then they hadn't tried to eat me yet."
~ Eric Kirby and Alan ~
Dr. Alan Grant is one of the world's leading palaeontologists. He is grumpy and asocial, and finds the company of fossilized bones preferable to the company of humans. He also has a sexy hat. When we first meet Alan in JP1, he is happily digging up dinosaurs somewhere in Montana with his (most likely only) friend Dr. Ellie Sattler.
The business of digging up old bones is just as unprofitable as it sounds, and so when the mad millionaire John Hammond offers to fund the dig if Alan and Ellie join him to test his new amusement park, even Alan is willing to leave his precious skeletons.
As we all probably know, the little amusement park turns out to have real dinosaurs that inevitably get loose and start killing people. Cue lots of running around and screaming.
Somewhere between trying not to get eaten by the velociraptors and trying not to get eaten by the tyrannosaurus rex, Alan learns that not all children are smelly and annoying, and that maybe getting together with Ellie and getting a few sprogs of their own might not be such a bad idea after all. And so after they escaped the island Alan and Ellie got married and lived happily ever after.
The next time we see Alan he is indeed playing with a small child, but it is soon revealed that not only did Alan and Ellie break up somewhere between movies one and three, but Ellie went and married someone else and is now the proud mother of two children. No reason is given for Alan and Ellie's break-up, only that it was amicable and the two are still the best of friends.
Enter Billy Brennan.
"I have a theory that there are two kinds of boys. There are those that want to be astronomers, and those that want to be astronauts. The astronomer, or the palaeontologist, gets to study these amazing things from a place of complete safety."
"But then you never get to go into space."
"Exactly. That's the difference between imagining and seeing: to be able to touch them. And that's... that's all that Billy wanted."
~ Alan and Eric ~
The first time we meet Billy, he's on a dig, helping a pretty young woman dig up a dinosaur skeleton. The moment Alan drives up on his jeep, however, the girl is forgotten and Billy is running to Alan like an excited puppy. The scene that follows involves blowing into suspiciously phallic looking object and has to be seen to be believed.
Billy isn't given much background in the movie. According to the script he's 25, an associate professor and "a charmer". He is also into hang gliding, a fact that becomes a major
"If I lose you, it'll be just me and the damned tourists."
~ Alan ~
The plot of JP3 is easy to explain (but hard to believe when you're watching it). Digging up dinosaur bones is as expensive as ever, and when the multimillionaire Paul Kirby and his wife ask Alan to become a guide on a flight over Isla Sorna - the second island that was used to as a dinosaur breeding ground - he cannot refuse and takes Billy along for the ride. Later on they learn that the Kirby's are not, in fact, multimillionaires looking for a high but rather a divorced middle class couple looking for their son Eric who disappeared while paragliding near the island, and when a dinosaur tries to eat their aeroplane, it's only the beginning of their problems.
Cue lots of running around and screaming.
But where is the subtext, you may ask? Well... Let me just say that when they are not running away from dinosaurs (and, actually, often even when they are running away from dinosaurs), Alan and Billy are being very friendly with each other. Very friendly.
- When Mr. Kirby originally approaches Alan to ask him as their guide, it is Billy who accepts Kirby's offer for dinner in behalf of him. "We'd love to," he tells Kirby.
- When Alan is separated from the rest of the group on the island, Billy searches for him frantically, shouting his name even though he knows that loud noises can attract dinosaurs. Later, when it is revealed that Billy has taken raptor eggs from the reptiles' nests and in doing so caused the animals to chase Alan who was carrying his bag, what he offers as an apology is "I swear, if I'd known you were gonna end up with them..." seeming far more concerned of Alan's safety than of his own.
- When Billy jumps off a cliff with a parasail to rescue Eric from the pteradons (flying bird-dinosaur thingies), Alan damn near jumps after him, calling his name in despair, and then when everyone assumes Billy has died, has the "Billy only wanted to touch" conversation quoted above.
- When Alan and Billy are reunited in the end, they have a short exchange that on the surface seems to be about Billy rescuing Alan's hat (because even Billy can see that Alan Grant with a fedora is one sexy man), but which involves meaningful looks that speak volumes.
I could write endlessly about the the slashy scenes in the movie, but no matter how much I wrote, I could never do justice to the meaningful looks and the touching and the little things that just make it all seem so very right. The slash is out there on Isla Sorna, and it's bigger than any of the dinosaurs. Besides, the movie itself isn't that bad, at least if you're in the mood for Plan 9 from Outer Space kind of entertainment, and you can probably find the DVD cheap from a bargain bin. So really, there is no reason why everyone shouldn't watch Jurassic Park III and fall in love with the cuteness of Alan/Billy
"I rescued your hat."
"Well... that's the important thing."
~ Billy and Alan ~
First a few words about the JP3 fanon and fanfiction (here mainly because I couldn't think where else to put it):
Since there isn't much canon information on Billy, fanon!Billy is a fickle creature with an unfortunate tendency to often act like an angsting teenager. Fanon!Alan is usually not that much different from canon!Alan (the little we know of him), and I have yet to see an A/B fic that bashes Ellie. As for the relationship between Alan and Billy, fics range from having them in an established relationship during the movie to having them be in still the "Will he ever realise how much I love him" phase.
Anyway, onto the actual fic recs... The following fics are among my favourites and I chose these particular stories from my fic favourite folder mainly becauses they are all fairly short and thus make a good introduction to the fandom.
Self-absorption (PG) by Mary Borsellino
A Stolen Moment (PG) by K9
Three Claw Monte (R) by Mala
The Shape Of Things To Come? (PG) by K9
Third Time Under (NC-17) by Cori Lannam
Evolution - The Alan/Billy Fanlisting
A good place to start your search for all things Alan/Billy, this site has among other things a great essay that takes a detailed look on the subtext in JP3.
The Alan/Billy mailing List seems to be a bit quiet at the moment, but is probably the best place to find likeminded people. The list homepage and fanfic archive can be found here.
As a final note, while I was doing research for my manifesto, I came across an early version of script, and found that it was nowhere near as slashy as the movie (even though it did contain the delicious stage direction: "Grant wakes up with a start, disoriented. Billy is leaning over him."). Not only does it end with Billy dead (no Reunion Scene with the Meaningful Looks!), but it also lacks the dinner invitation scene and has Billy more than flirting with the girl in the beginning of the movie. Makes me wonder how the movie ended up as slashy as it did.