Author's Notes: Believe it or not, this is a very, very delayed response (read: almost a year) to prompt 3 for the Blue Skies challenge over at day_by_drabble. (That community is like vitamins for my muse. Seriously.) Take place after the first movie.

Alan carefully mounds a pile of dirt into a lopsided fortress. He trails his finger around it and two other piles that look like it, making a distorted moat. There is no water to pour in the ditch, but it doesn't stop him from building. He reaches to his side and selects a flat rock to act as a drawbridge. As he is starting to contemplate what to use for a flag, a tall, Ellie-shaped shadow covers his creation.

She says nothing as she kneels down and examines his makeshift sandcastle. Finally, she pins him with a worried look. "Alan—"

He recognizes her tone of voice; it's a mixture of sadness and frustration.

They had returned to the dig site nearly two weeks ago and he had hardly touched his work. What was the point? They had living samples of dinosaurs in the Isle Nubar lab.

He looks at Ellie, squinting in the sunlight. "What are we doing here, Ellie?"

"Our job." Her answer is firm.

"Our job is extinct."

"No, it's not." She scoots closer to him, nearly knocking down the center tower. "Hammond might have been able to make dinosaurs, but they weren't the real things."

He gives her an unconvinced look. "They seemed real enough at the time."

Ellie looks taken aback by his resignation. She picks up the rock that was the bridge and twirls it in her hand. "You know what drew me to you when we first met?" she asks before placing the rock back in its spot.

Alan shrugs, his eyes cast towards the castle of dirt.

She puts a hand on his shoulder, causing him to look at her. "Your passion for your work. Don't let what happened on that island take that away, Alan."

He knows she is right. But, after everything that had happened at Hammond's Jurassic Park, Alan found himself thinking beyond dinosaur bones and paleontology. "Have you considered my offer?"

She gives him a sympathetic smile. "I have a rule against accepting proposals that occur less than 72 hours after a crisis."

A wry smile stretches his lips. "Duly noted."

All right, so they aren't going to get married right away and dinosaurs aren't as rare as they were a month ago, but Ellie was still here with him. It is enough.

Ellie senses the shift in his attitude. She stands up and holds out a hand for him to take.

Alan considers the castle, then Ellie. Finally, he grasps her hand and allows her to pull him up.

She looks down at his creation. "It's too bad Hammond isn't here. His fleas would have enjoyed playing in your castle."

His eyebrows furrow. "What fleas?"

She shakes her head. "Never mind." She stands up on her toes and places a gentle kiss on his cheek. "Come on, Alan. Let's go digging."