"Alan," Eric said, and looked at him with an expression wise beyond his years, "Billy was right."
Then he turned and made his way back to his parents.
Alan sat and stared into the murky green water for a long moment. He supposed he should feel some reaction, should feel some pain- not this detachment. He felt distant from everything. Sure, he understood what had happened- Billy had sacrificed himself to save Eric. Right. He could comprehend that. He even was able to understand that Billy was gone, wasn't coming back. And that fact upset him, but in a distant way.
There was nothing happening in him. Nothing. He was empty inside. He had always imagined losing Billy again would produce the same effect as before, with the constant ache and the neverending agony of loss.
But now, when Billy was gone completely... there was nothing.
Alan thought about that for a moment. Gone. Dead. Lost to the pteranodons. Never to return.
It was a concept he could comprehend quite easily, after all- he did deal with dead things nearly every day of his professional life. But this was Billy. His love, his life... how was he supposed to live without Billy?
And good lord. What he'd said... now that was enough to provoke an emotional response, although it was still a rather distant one. Guilt. An emotion he was intimately familiar with, to be sure.
Lay off with the guilt already, Alan, a memory whispered to him in Billy's voice. I swear, you carry enough guilt around for ten people, and it's all over things that aren't your fault.
Alan swallowed hard. Billy had said that shortly after they'd gotten back together.
There it was again, the detachment, the vast distance seperating him from what he knew he should be feeling. Even the memory of that long-ago seperation didn't hurt. Why?
The trill of a dilophosaurus sent a shiver down his spine and he reflexively glanced at the bank, scanning the thick jungle growth for any sign of danger. But there was nothing visible, and no vile globs of spit arched out over the water to reach him.
What was wrong with him? Was it just shock? Why was it that he worried more about spitting dinosaurs than the loss of Billy?