Masrani Corporation's managed to find hotel rooms for most of the guests that were staying on the island, but it seems they forgot that some of their staff would be needing them, too. Owen's bungalow is on the island, and Claire lives in one of the hotel's penthouses. She thinks the hotel, located on the southeast edge of Isla Nublar, far away from where any dinosaurs roamed, is probably safe, but they're not risking it. Not yet.
They manage to find a room in a hotel near the shore of Costa Rica, just down the street from where Karen and her family are staying until they can get a flight home. They don't have an immediate way to pay for it, but Claire flashes her Masarani Corp identification, and the manager's heard rumblings of what went down in the park, so he takes in their war-torn appearances and takes pity on them. They ask for one room, a silent agreement that neither of them wants to be alone. The fact that the room only has one bed isn't even discussed.
He's a little nervous as he shuts the hotel door behind them. Adrenaline still courses through his veins, but she's seemed calmer ever since Gray collapsed in her arms in the makeshift medical center. The brave face, he expects, will vanish as soon as she realizes it's okay and no one's looking at her right now but him. He's seen her cry a couple times over the past twenty-four hours, and even though her tears were mostly out of fear, he expects tears when the door slams shut. He doesn't expect her to slam into him.
She's kissing him like she's still in danger of imminent death, but he doesn't really mind because he secretly knows he would've pulled her in for a second kiss right there in the middle of the pandemonium of Jurassic World if she hadn't spotted her nephews across the walkway. They kiss, desperately, passionately, until they can't figure out where to go because standing is just no longer an option after the day they've had, but they're both way too disgusting to actually sit or lay down on or really even touch any of the hotel furniture.
With a sigh, Claire finally kicks off her high heels, stepping gingerly onto the floor, and heads towards the bathroom. Her feet are aching; he can tell by the way she walks, even on the soft carpet, and Owen stands, watching her, until she turns just before she reaches the bathroom door.
"Are you coming?" she asks.
There's nothing sexy about the shared shower at first. They empty the little bottles of shower gel onto washcloths and almost furiously scrub each other down, trying to get rid of the dirt and the grime and the dinosaur waste and the gasoline smells, as if cleansing themselves of the physical remnants of the day can make the whole damn thing go away. Her body starts tingling when he slows down while he washes her hair; his muscles twitch as her delicate fingers dance across his back. They both feel better when, after what feels like hours in there, they finally feel clean, but they're both still on edge. How the water is still warm, he'll never know, but the for the first time since they stepped underneath the spray, he slides his hand around her side in a touch that's meant to serve a much less practical purpose than the other touches they've exchanged thus far.
Before she knows what's happening, his lips are on hers again, and her back is against the cool shower wall. When the kisses suddenly stop, she opens her eyes and realizes he's waiting for her okay to continue. She nods, breathlessly, silently, and he grabs her sides, kissing her fiercely and lifting her up just enough for her legs to fall in a low circle around his hips. One of his hands rests underneath her thigh while the other grasps one of her breasts, their mouths still meeting in harsh kisses, and he brushes against her in all the right places when she rolls her hips against him. She moans between kisses, and oh god, what is she doing? She is not this person. She doesn't ever do things like this, but she wants this; she wants him, and…the kissing stops again. Her eyes open one more time.
"Do we need to stop?" he asks seriously.
She understands what he's really asking and closes her eyes again. "No," she breathes, furiously shaking her head. "IUD."
"You're so fucking organized," he mutters, his hands moving to her hips as he pushes into her.
They fuck against the shower wall (because that's really the only thing you could call it the way they're doing it – hot, fast, oh-my-god-we're-alive fucking) until they're both crying out, and the water finally runs cold. The blisters on her feet scream in a different sort of way when he lowers her back to the floor, and she feels herself slipping down the wall, crashing, finally crashing after this god forsaken day. She manages to climb out of the tub, and he wraps her in a towel.
Their clothes lie in a ruined heap on the bathroom floor, so they fall into bed naked (finding clothes when they wake up, he thinks, is going to be interesting. She's too far gone to care), and they fall asleep instantly.
She wakes first, nearly half a day later. She's wondering why she's naked in a hotel bed that's not hers with Owen Grady when the few seconds between sleep and consciousness pass, and she remembers. She sees the ACU heart rates flat-lining one after one; she feels that stomach-sinking dread when she realizes her sister's children are in that park; she sees her boss's helicopter explode and the dinosaur pinning Owen to the pavement and Blue's head smashing through the driver's window and more teeth, more teeth.
That was yesterday. Maybe even two yesterdays. She's not really sure, but she is sure that the adrenaline is gone now, and that's when the tears start. Her crying is quiet, just as it was each time on the island, but he's still on alert, even in his sleep, and he hears her. He wakes to find her curled on her side towards him, tears falling one by one down her face, her body quivering uncontrollably as if she were still shaking in fear. His instinct is to whisper that it's okay, she's safe, they're safe, but he knows she's not scared anymore. She's stunned; she's devastated; she's wracked with guilt, but she's not scared, so he doesn't say anything. He just slides across the mattress and holds her.
He's mentally debating whether putting the dirty clothes back on is worse than walking down to the hotel gift shop in nothing but the white fluffy robes they've adorned themselves in while Claire sits on the bed, trying to swallow her pride enough to call Karen and ask her for some money to pay for the new clothes and the hot meals they desperately need but don't have the means to procure for themselves. Deciding a few minutes of humiliation is better than putting the jungle clothes back on his body, Owen groans and opens the door.
He finds a bag just outside of their room, compliments of Masrani Corporation. It's all Jurassic World merchandise, naturally, but that'll be enough to get them to a restaurant and a store. She's wondering if they could maybe just charge everything to the room and bypass Karen entirely when an envelope falls out of a rolled up shirt, a company credit card inside, and she breathes a sigh of relief. She's not sure how the corporation knows where she landed among all the turmoil, but she's too relieved to ask questions.
"Claire Dearing, faced down dinosaurs, scared of her big sister," Owen teases.
"First time I see her kids in seven years, and I nearly get them killed," she replies. "She's never going to let me see them again. Certainly not alone."
"That wasn't you," he said. "That was a teenage boy thinking he was invincible."
"And he wouldn't have been in that situation at all if she hadn't sent them to me," Claire insists.
"She shipped them off so she could settle a divorce," he insists. "That's not on you."
She lets the subject drop and paws through the pile of clean clothes on the bed, trying to find the most innocuous thing she can in a size that will fit her. He's a little more no-nonsense about the whole thing, finding a pair of sweatpants and pulling them on, despite the screen-printed claw marks that run up and down one of the legs. He tugs a t-shirt out of the pile and finds her sitting cross-legged on the bed, her chosen garments piled on her lap.
"What are you doing?" he asks, pulling his shirt over his head. "Get dressed. I'm hungry."
"Okay," she nods. She pauses for a moment and says, "Can you…turn around?"
"Are you kidding?" he scoffs. He sees that she's not and turns his back to her with a roll of his eyes. "My god, woman…"
Claire pulls on a blue and gray logo tee and a pair of white shorts with the park's name and a dinosaur silhouette printed in navy blue on the corner of one leg. She feels a little ill when she catches a glance at herself in the mirror and clutches the credit card in her hands, mentally reminding herself that she'll be back out of these clothes in just a few hours. They find flip flops buried in the bottom of the bag and head out.
They walk downstairs in silence. Leaving the room burst the bubble, and things between them have finally grown a just little too awkward after the night and morning they shared. They round a corner into the lobby, the beginnings of a debate about where to eat forming on their lips, and that's when the flashbulbs start.
The lobby is filled with journalists and video cameras and paparazzi, not just from Costa Rica, but from around the world, and suddenly, in a moment, everyone's attention is on them, and they know their names, and they know – they know.
"What the hell…?" Owen mutters before they converge upon them, everyone speaking at once.
"Mr. Grady, who's idea was it to set the raptors…"
"Claire, what compelled you to open the T-Rex paddock?"
"How did the Indominus…?"
"Has an accurate death toll been determined?"
"What exactly was the Indominus…?"
"Is there a plan to compensate the guests that were injured?"
"How long have you two been together?"
"Ms. Dearing, what's next for Jurassic World?"
Their eyes meet, Claire shakes her head slightly in a panic, and he understands without a word. It's not good for them to be seen dressed like this, and she's embarrassed to be seen like this at all, in Jurassic World tourist swag and plastic flip-flops, her red hair in messy waves around her shoulders because her flat iron lays long forgotten on Isla Nublar, but more than that, he sees it in the briefest glance from her. It's not just about how she looks. It's not now; not yet; not like this; she's not ready for this.
He puts his arm protectively around her back and turns her around, ushering them back the way they came. It takes the media a second, only a second, before they follow. Owen swipes a newspaper from the front desk without missing a beat, and Claire beats on the elevator button once they're inside, willing the doors to shut before anyone can join them.
"They know everything. Oh my god, Owen, how do they know all of that?" Claire gasps.
He turns the newspaper around, and there she is, splashed across the front page in grainy black and white, a lit flare in one hand and a Tyrannosaurus Rex hot on her high heels.
Their silenced phones have been ringing off the hook (if phones still had hooks, that is.) The newspaper calls her and her chase with the T-Rex "the standout viral sensation from the Jurassic World disaster" so they grab their phones to investigate, both of them finding more missed calls and voicemails than they'll be able to get through in a day.
They pull up the Internet and find themselves in a never-ending spiral of social media links, each of them worse than the last. There's all kinds of first-hand accounts of the incident on the Internet – videos, Vines, Instagrams, tweets, blog posts, and photos all posted directly from guests' cell phones, breaking news reports from around the world, leaked footage from the theme park security cameras, leaked footage from Paddock Nine – and Owen and Claire, unfortunately, have quite a presence on screen.
The media has everything, or at least all of the highlights. They've got the Indominus breaking out of her paddock after Owen just nearly escaped the closing door. They've got them riding into the crowd in the middle of the attack after the aviary was breached. They've got him shooting the flying dinosaurs with members of the ACU; they've got her punching and shooting the dinosaur that was inches away from removing his face. Most annoyingly of all, someone seemingly decided to stop fleeing for their lives and film him kissing her, so they've got that, too, and they've got their little group of four on Main Street (there goes her plan to conceal the extent of her nephews' rather major involvement from her sister) surrounded by raptors, and they somehow, some way, got the whole damn thing with the T-Rex.
She's pretty sure Lowery's behind that particular leak, and even Owen looks mystified as he watches her confidently order the paddock open and wait for the inevitable, horrible chase to begin. When the video reaches the part he lived through, too, he stares at her, screams and roars still playing in the background, until she asks why he's looking at her like that.
"Shit, Claire," he breathes. "That was the dumbest, hottest thing I've ever seen."
"Excuse me?" she asks.
"Well, I'm never going to underestimate you again."
She knows they're both thinking of the moment at the edge of the cliff where he told her she wouldn't last seconds out there, especially in those heels of hers. She sits up a little bit straighter and says, "Thank you."
It seems the rest of the world agrees, a fact she discovers as she starts to go through her phone. Everyone wants to talk to her. Masrani Corporation's overjoyed at finding a positive spin for this whole mess since she's one of theirs, and she's being billed as the hero of Jurassic World (which gives her a tiny bit of a thrill for no other reason besides the fact that her nephews wanted to stay with Owen after watching her shoot the dinosaur.) They say she'll be on every magazine cover in the world. She spends the next several hours hissing "No comment" at reporter after reporter as the calls continue to pour in, and she longs for the days when people had to ability to slam a phone down nice and loud as they hung up on someone.
He points out that they're probably going to have to do press eventually, not just because of all the viral videos, but because of who they were at the park.
She knows that. She's always known that. The PR nightmare has been spinning in her head since she listened to a man get crushed by the Indominus Rex through her cell phone. It's an inevitable battle that she's mentally accepted but is in no way prepared to fight, and she can only handle one of those a week.
"I am aware of that," she finally says, a false calm coating her voice to keep her from snapping at the one person who's managed to make her feel like somehow, this will all be okay. "But it doesn't have to be today."
Karen calls from the hotel down the street, irate and panicked, because they can't quite leave their room, either. The boys are in the majority of the footage getting the widest circulation, and it didn't take long for someone to figure out that they are Claire's relatives, and as such, they're getting the reporters' attention and the interview requests, too. Unlike Claire and Owen, Zach and Gray are just dying to accept and tell the entire world about how they electrocuted a velociraptor from the back of a moving vehicle while their badass aunt sped them to safety through the jungle.
"They called me a badass?" Claire asks, the small smile returning to her face.
"They electrocuted a velociraptor?" Karen shrieks.
"Yeah, well, I told them to never tell you about that," Claire says.
Karen launches right back into her rant and tells her that Gray falls asleep every few hours because it only takes about forty minutes before he wakes up screaming, and Zach has turned into the nicest big brother in the world (not that she's not grateful for that, but it's just weird.) She demands to know what the hell happened with her kids and just how close they were to these dinosaurs. Claire says she doesn't think Karen really wants her to answer that.
"I've seen the videos, Claire," Karen says.
"Everyone's seen the videos. I've got a screaming voicemail from Mom to prove that even people who don't really know how to use technology have seen the videos," Claire replies.
"You get the full name treatment?" Karen asks.
"Yeah, it's quite a doozy," Claire sighs. The line grows quiet for a few moments until Karen's sobs fill the silence again. "Wait, are you crying again?"
"I could've lost all of you," Karen cries. "You told me the park was safe, Claire."
"It was!" Claire says. She sighs again and adds. "Until this week, it was."
"So who's the guy?" Karen asks, drying her tears, her moment over. Claire asks what guy she's talking about. Karen puts on her teasing big sister voice and says, "The guy kissing you in the videos."
Claire rolls her eyes. Of all the things to end up going viral on the Internet… "That's Mr. Grady. He's the velociraptor trainer at the park."
Across the room, behind Claire's back, Owen lifts his head from the newspaper he's reading, his attention officially caught.
"Oh, you mean the velociraptors that attacked my kids?" Karen asks. "Hmm…he's not very good at his job, is he?"
"There were extenuating circumstances," Claire says in defense.
"Anyway, the boys keep asking me when they can see Aunt Claire and her boyfriend again."
"He's not my…" she starts, trailing off as she notices Owen's eyes on her. Karen gasps.
"Wait, are you still with him?" Karen asks. "I saw you wander off with him, but I didn't think…"
Before the conversation can go any further, Gray's screams of terror fill the phone line, and Claire's stomach drops all over again. She only catches bits and pieces, but he says things like "We couldn't get out of the seatbelts," and "The Indominus crushed the gyrosphere."
"What the hell is he talking about, Claire?" Karen shrieks again.
"Don't go all Mom on me again, okay?" Claire says. "It doesn't matter what happened because they are alive, and they are there with you, and none of us are ever going to see a dinosaur in person again."
She knows that's not true. At least not for her. Masrani Corp will go back in. They'll send in a team to attempt to re-capture the dinos. They'll assess the damage and salvage whatever of the park they can, even if it's just to sell some of the rides and the non-living assets to other venues. They'll look for bodies and lost survivors, and she knows that, as Jurassic World's Operations Manager, she'll probably be near the top of the list of people to return to Isla Nublar, and she knows she'll have to go. She thinks she'd like to get back into her home, just to retrieve a few things, but overall, she's not sure how she feels about her probable return to the island.
One look at Owen in the chair across the room tells her he hopes he's on that list. She can see it all over his face, and her heart aches for him. He's worried about Blue, and she's worried about him.
There are no nightmares, at least not yet. He thought they would have nightmares. He's seen things during his time in the military, but this was a whole different breed of terror, and he thinks she's probably never witnessed death before, but as he wakes up on the second morning they've shared in the hotel, he realizes they've both made it through another night.
His second realization is that Claire is no longer in bed next to him.
Nothing happened. They hadn't so much as touched since they had locked themselves in their room and vowed to not go back out until they had to, but he's concerned, so he rolls around on the mattress, scanning the room, until he finds her curled into a chair pulled up to the window. They can see the docks from their room, and they're only on the third floor, so it's a pretty good view. They can see the docks and the ferries and the animated Jurassic World billboards (spared no expense) so even though they've left Isla Nublar, they're still surrounded by dinosaurs.
It should be a madhouse outside their window right now. On a normal day, the first ferry for park open would be just about to depart, but it's not a normal day, and nobody's there.
"Did you sleep?" he asks, and his voice startles her, pulling her out of her deep contemplation. With a glance in his direction, she says not much. "Nightmares?"
"No," she replies, shaking her head.
Her attention is outside of their room again. She received the call late last night. She has to go back to work tomorrow. They're sending a private plane for her and Owen (because he might technically be an InGen employee, but due to his involvement with the incident, Masrani Corp needs to see him, too.) They even want Zach and Gray and their parents on the plane, too, and by morning, they'll all be in conference rooms being debriefed by legal and corporate and hell, maybe even the government. That's a different kind of nightmare.
He throws the covers off his body and walks over to the chair, sitting on the arm opposite the one she's curled into a ball against. He pretends not to notice as her eyes briefly travel up and down his body before turning back to the outside world. He's still wearing the dino claw sweatpants, but he'd tossed his t-shirt aside as he'd climbed into bed. She's still in the Jurassic World merchandise she'd put on the day before, and he thinks, as he watches her pick at the dinosaur screen print on her shorts with one single solitary nail, that her wardrobe is probably only adding to her stress.
He doesn't say anything. She finally looks at him and doesn't avert her gaze.
"Is this my fault?" she asks softly.
Recognizing that the source of her distress is the impending fallout from the event, he relaxes a bit against the arm of the chair.
"No," he says. "You made a couple calls towards the beginning that I don't agree with, but you didn't make that thing."
"I didn't stop them," she says.
"Could you have stopped them?" he asks.
They both know the answer to that question is probably not, but instead, she says, "It didn't occur to me to try."
Owen decides that's not her fault, either. "Yeah, well, MBA's don't usually come with animal husbandry classes."
She lets herself smile just a bit and gets a little more comfortable in the chair as she says, "You're being nice to me."
"I'm telling you the truth," he says. "And I'm dreading these meetings as much as you are, but I'm not the Operations Manager."
Claire cringes, burying her face in her hands. "Oh god," she groans. "How could I let this happen?"
"Hey, it's not your fault. And if anyone should put you at fault, it's me because if you hadn't found me, they probably would've thrown my ass off the island, and it would've been over for me after the first run-in with the Indominus."
The sudden look on her face tells him that she's completely forgotten that she's the one who got him out into the jungle, and while the weight of the park is on her shoulders, it hadn't yet occurred to her to feel guilty on his behalf.
"Crap," he mutters as her face falls. "Look, I'm glad you dragged me into all that shit."
"You're glad?" she asks in disbelief.
"If you hadn't found me, your stubborn ass would've stormed off after the boys alone, and then you, the boys, and probably all of my raptors would be gone."
She laughs – actually laughs – at him. "That's giving yourself an awful lot of credit, don't you think?"
"Take any one of us out of the equation, and none of the others would've made it off that island," he says, and deep down, she knows that's probably true. "So I don't blame you for anything, except maybe not knowing how old your nephews are, because really, Claire? But you have nothing to worry about."
She chuckles in an almost wistful way and returns to staring out the window. "I wish that were true," she says quietly.
Her eyes look shiny in the sunlight, and her cheeks are reddening, and he knows she's about to cry again, so he leans over and catches her cheek in his palm, and he kisses her. She's a little taken aback but responds after just a moment. For the first time, the kiss they share is soft, not hurried, not chaotic, and they take their time.
When they separate, before they even open their eyes, Claire's saying they should probably figure out what they are – the media's already asking, and they'll probably be asked tomorrow, and the boys are telling Karen he's her boyfriend, so they'll probably get interrogated on the plane tonight, too.
"Is that your fancy way of saying Claire wants to know where to file me in her mental catalog of acquaintances?" he teases.
She shoots him a look and, despite her better judgment in that particular point in time, says, "It means I think I've had a change of heart, and I would like to propose a second date."
"Third," he counters.
"Let's get through the second one first."
"Been there, done that."
"That was not a date."
"Sure it was. You said you needed me. We went for a walk in the woods, took a ride through the park with your arms around me, and then we had sex," he recounts, conveniently leaving out all the parts that were straight out of a horror movie. "Sounds like a date to me."
Claire rolls her eyes and takes back her offer. She starts to get up, pushing herself off the chair, when he gently grabs her arm and pulls her back down.
"Hey," he says. "I meant what I said. I think we should stick together. Not just for survival."
She pretends to think about it before shyly looking down again and letting him see the grin that creeps across her face this time.