Astronomers and Astronauts
Billy Brennan idly flipped through the channels on the small television. Daytime television sucked but there was nothing else to do while you were confined to a boring hospital room. Four walls, a ceiling, a window, a door, various boring pieces of furniture, lots of flowers and cards were all that his prison contained. He'd been staring at the same things for days. He'd already read all the get-well cards a thousand times over. However reading them depressed him. Lots of them were from people he knew, some were from people he didn't know, but none were from the person he most wanted to receive one from. Since their return to the United States Billy had yet to see or hear from Alan Grant.
Sighing Billy turned off the television and threw the channel changer on the bed. He'd rather throw himself to the pterodactyls than sit in this room for another week till they released him. Thoughts of the dinosaurs still sent shivers down his spine, though. Now he understood why Alan hadn't wanted to go back there. They had all nearly lost their lives. He himself was probably the luckiest of all. He'd been washed down the river and eventually been washed onto the shore of the island. He'd lain half in the water drifting in and out of consciousness. At one point he pulled something out of the passing current. It was Alan's hat. He'd hugged it tightly to himself before drifting off again. The next thing he knew the beach was swarming with people. They'd taken him aboard a helicopter and patched him up. At one point they'd tried to take the hat but he feebly fought them off and allowed him to keep the hat.
Then Alan was back. He was safe. He'd survived the dinosaurs too. And even though he'd wanted to jump up and hug him and apologize for his stupidity all he could do was hand over the hat. After they'd gotten back into the country he was whisked off to have his injuries taken care of. He hadn't seen Alan or the Kirby's since then. He had caught glimpses on television a few times but he could never catch the whole segment. It was extremely frustrating. He looked up as somebody knocked on the door. To his surprise Alan walked in.
"Hello Billy," Alan greeted as he walked over to the bed.
"Hi Alan," Billy replied with a smile.
"You're looking much better," Alan commented.
"I brought you a get well soon gift," Alan said.
"Please not more flowers," Billy begged.
"No, no, I don't know the first thing about flowers. I do however happen to have a certain "Lucky bag" with me," Alan said bringing up the bag in question.
"Really? You still have that old thing?" Billy asked amused.
"Yes I do, I think it still has a bit of luck left in it yet," Alan said handing it over to Billy.
"Thanks," Billy replied taking the bag and setting it in his lap. "So, how are things on the outside?" he asked, unsure of what he should be saying or doing.
"Chaotic. Everyone wants to know about the dinosaurs and what we should do about them. Already they've shot the escaped pterodactyls from the sky. They are trying to decide what to do about the others. Obviously the bans are not enough to keep people out. There is a large debate whether to blow up the island, go in and recapture the animals or simply let them continue to roam free." Alan explained.
"What do you think they should do?" Billy asked curiously.
"Let me put it this way, there are two types of boys or in this case people. Some want to be astronomers and study the stars. Then there are those who want to be astronauts and go up and touch the stars. I am the first kind. I prefer to study and imagine the possibilities. You Billy, you are the second kind, you want to touch. I would say that you got more than a handful this time. Now if everyone were like me, they would study from a distance. But not everybody is like me. Keeping that island there is like leaving a fire unattended and hoping that it doesn't spread into a wild inferno. Those creatures have been dead for a very long time. The fact that they now live to threaten us is unnatural. They may be alive, but not by God's will, by men's. They have no place here Billy. Dinosaurs were wiped out millions of years ago. And that is how it should be." Allen explained.
"You think I'm an astronaut?" Billy wondered aloud.
Alan smiled. "Yes Billy, you're an astronaut."
"Huh, and here I thought I was an archeologist." Billy said as he attempted a shrug. He winced as his sore shoulders ached.
"How are you Billy?" Alan asked concerned.
"It still hurts. At night I can still feel their beaks pecking at me. You know, at the time it didn't even hurt. I wasn't even scared!" Billy laughed looking up from the bag in his hands and meeting Alan's eyes.
"Because I was worried about you. I thought you might do something stupid like try and save me." Billy said in an amused tone that seemed to border hysteria.
"But I didn't. I couldn't. And now we both made it," Alan said soothingly as he put his hand gently on Billy's fidgeting ones.
"I thought...god I thought we wouldn't make it! I mean I love dinosaurs. The whole mystery and the joy of the find....but I hate them now. I hate knowing what they could do, what they almost did to us! How did you....how can you still do it? How can you go back to what you did before, knowing what almost happened?"
"Because, Billy. It's not the knowledge, it's the thrill. The excitement of discovery. The wonder of theorizing, thinking up what could have been. It's about the joy of passing on the knowledge to people like you Billy. You are the reason." Alan said rubbing Billy's hands soothingly.
Billy looked at Alan and swallowed. "Students or me specifically?" Billy asked softly.
"I have never before had a student as enthusiastic as you. You're so eager to learn. You're not afraid to push to get farther. That's how you got there in the first place. You pushed. It's funny, that's the same way you came to me. You excelled in class and fought your way to your position. You simply wouldn't allow anybody else to be my assistant." Alan observed.
"That's not an answer." Billy pointed out.
"What answer are you looking for?" Alan asked.
"Is the reason you go on just students, or me specifically?"
"What is it that you want to hear?"
"Look, I've just been practically pecked apart by dinosaurs. I've been confined within these for walls for eternity and I'd prefer that we not play games. Will you please answer my question?" Billy pleaded.
"If I said the reason was you specifically, what would you say?" Alan asked curiously.
"I would have to ask you whether you meant it or not because I'm not ready to put my hopes on a false statement." Billy explained.
"Well then my statement is true," Alan conceded.
"Then my heart is set."
"On you." Billy admitted.
Alan looked slightly surprised but not too much. Smiling he leaned down and kissed Billy. The younger archeologist's heart nearly stopped then and there. After all the fantasies, the actual feel of Alan's lips on his was better than anything he could ever dream up. Slowly Alan drew back, leaving Billy wide eyed and panting.
"Is that enough to put your hopes on?" Alan asked with a smile.
"Well you know me, I'm an astronaut, I need to touch," Billy replied.
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