[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: Positive Associations
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Jurassic World
Characters: Indominus Rex, Jorge Gutiérrez (original male character)
Word Count: 3,481
Rating: PG-13 for language and references to animal abuse/neglect
Pairing(s): None
Warnings: Jurassic World spoilers, animal abuse/neglect, offscreen canonical violence, offscreen canonical death (human and animal), and I talk about dogfight rings, neglected elephants and parrots, and the horrifying history of Shamu, but it's all fairly lightly touched on. If you could handle Jurassic World, you can probably handle this... but you might feel bad about bits of Jurassic World you only cheered about in the theatre. This has an oblique unhappy ending.

Author's Notes: I made a joke, and then I immediately made the joke tragic. I'm a terrible person.

Summary:

"Her only positive association is with that crane."

That's not entirely accurate. How do they clean the Indominus Rex enclosure?

A joke concept turned tragic, in two acts.




There are many things she doesn’t know. Knowing she doesn't know them is the worst thing.

She does know she hates most of the little soft things. (She remembers, vaguely, a time when the soft things weren't little, but that time didn’t last very long.) She’d like to smash them up and destroy them, like she sometimes does with her food when she’s having a Bad Day. They smell like fear and fear always smells like it needs to be bitten, and there are swarms of them-- she can see them through the clear stuff, and see their heat above her, and faintly through the walls. There are always lots of them through the walls.

There is one little soft thing she doesn’t want to bite and smash. Sometimes it smells a little like fear, but usually it smells like spoor. (She has never been tempted to bite spoor.)

It comes in twice a day with a Hand Truck and a Shovel, and it scoops up spoor from the ground with the Shovel and dumps it in the Hand Truck, and then it goes away. But it's one of the little soft things, so it takes a long time to get all the spoor it can get, and she has decided she likes the noises it makes.

There are three different doors in the walls for the spoor-soft-thing, and she never knows which one it will come through, which is annoying. She thought about breaking two of the doors so she would always know, but when she tried that with the food doors (if she’s going to try, she's going to bash her snout into food-smell first, not spoor smell), food stopped coming through the doors and started coming over the walls. She doesn’t like that. It feels wrong-- things coming from above. Threat.

She knows right before the spoor-soft-thing is coming, because there will be a thump, a grinding sound, and then crunching as the spoor-soft-thing pulls its Hand Truck over the ground, and she knows it is the right little soft thing not just by the smell, but because it calls out.

She knows Seeking-Greeting, it is one short sharp round bark. Spoor-soft-thing's Announce-Greeting is “Hola, Indy!”

Spoor-soft-thing chatters like birds. Spoor-soft-thing says, “Wow, you've made a big Mess today, Indy! This is going to take a while.” Spoor-soft-thing says, “It's just a Shovel, Indy, look, it's for scooping,” and scoops up spoor with it, slow, so she can see. (It did this a lot at first. She watched, and it showed her. There isn’t much space where she is, and it doesn't take her long at all to realize if the soft-spoor-thing never came, the space would fill up and be foul. Spoor-soft-thing is almost as important as food.)

Spoor-soft-thing says Hola, Hola, Hola, and that is its call for Greeting-Announce.

Spoor-soft-thing says Indy, Indy, Indy, and that is its call for her.

Spoor-soft-thing says Shovel, Shovel, Shovel, and that is its call for its stick-tool for scooping.

Spoor-soft-thing says Hand Truck, Hand Truck, Hand Truck, and that is its call for the thing that takes the spoor away.

Spoor-soft-thing says Mess, Mess, Mess, and that is its call for spoor, dead greens, and food that is too old to be food.

Spoor-soft-thing says Clean, Clean, Clean, and that is its call for taking mess away.

Spoor-soft-thing says Bad Day, Bad Day, Bad Day, and that is its call when it finds food she smashed or greens she broke because she needed to ruin something.

It croons “Good girl! Good calm girl!” when she lays still and watches it, and it yips “Indy! You scared me!” when she slips her head through the greens silent and sudden. (Its fear-smell spikes through its spoor-smell when she does that, but the fear-smell fades fast; it is startled, spooked, but not enough to run away from her.) It picks up dead or broken greens when it finds them, and old food or bones that she didn't want or didn't like or only wanted to break, and it takes those, too. “Messy paddock,” it tells her, “Messy girl. But that’s okay. I’m here to Clean up after you.”

She responds, when she feels like it, to spoor-soft-thing’s chattering. It does not understand her well, but she repeats the important calls. Seeking-Greeting. Come Here. See You. Warning Of Danger. Food Here. Help. She sees spoor-soft-thing start to learn and respond properly to what she tells it. She does not bother with Warning Of Me or Threat, because she is not going to bite spoor-soft-thing. She doesn’t want to taste spoor if she doesn’t have to.

Spoor-soft-thing keeps its distance, but it seems like respect, not fear, like spoor-soft-thing knows it smells like spoor. (It doesn't only smell like her spoor. She can smell other things on the wind, things that aren’t little soft things-- things more like her, but not as much like her as the sister-who was. Spoor-soft-thing smells like their spoor, too. Sometimes she can hear the other things, more like her, not just smell them, when the wind is right.) She’s not sure spoor-soft-thing is really smart enough to be respectful of how it smells, to know it stinks, but she can’t be sure.

Spoor-soft-thing touches the light-thing when the Hand Truck can’t hold any more Mess. The door opens, the door closes, and the smell of spoor-soft-thing goes away for a while.

There are light-things by all three of the doors spoor-soft-thing uses, but there is another light-thing by one of the different parts of the wall. Spoor-soft-thing never uses that light-thing.

She watches spoor-soft-thing come and go. She watches the doors. They have seams, like the food-doors that don’t open anymore. The different part of the wall with the light-thing is solid, not clear and smooth, but it has seams like the clear and smooth different part of the wall. It’s bigger than the doors the spoor-soft-thing uses, and it’s bigger than her, too.

She thinks the different part of the wall might be as much bigger than her as the doors are bigger than spoor-soft-thing.

She thinks the different part of the wall, near the light-thing, might be a door for her.

“Something wrong with this one?” Spoor-soft-thing chatters at her, struggling to lift food that she let sit too long. It has flies now and she doesn’t like how it smells anymore. “Sick cow? It’s okay, Indy, you know I’ll Clean up your Messes, but you gotta eat enough. You’re a big girl.”

She is too big to make the light-thing work, and the light-things make the doors open. Little soft things are the right size to make the light-things work. She thinks spoor-soft-thing might open her door (it is her door. It is a door her size, so it must be her door) for her, but she does not know how to make it do things, and it isn’t afraid of her, like the other little soft things. She knows you can trick things if they’re afraid, she knows you can pretend you aren’t there, vanish into the greens, and make them run where you want them to run.

She has to get other little soft things inside with her. Then, she can make them afraid, make them run toward her door, and make them let her out.

Out is where the smells are, the faint sounds. Out is more than what she has inside. Out is different. She doesn't know enough about out to be sure she wants to stay out forever, but inside is starting to feel like an eggshell, too tight, too dull.

It might be wrong or too big or she might like inside better than outside, but she knows what to do if that happens. She’ll make a mess, and then spoor-soft-thing will come. She will call Seeking-Greeting and Help, and if it doesn’t understand what she wants, she will call Warning Of Me and Threat, and chase it very slowly, so it can lead her where she wants to go.

... Maybe once she’s out, she’ll bite the Annoying Thing out of her back. She’s hated that since it got in. It weighs on her senses like a wasp that got under her skin, buzzing and threatening to sting.

Now all she has to do is figure out how to get other little soft things inside.

---


His name is Jorge Gutiérrez, and he has always suspected he’s the safest person in Jurassic World.

Because his job is shit.

Literally. On his CV, he gets to say ‘waste management technician’ and more impressively, ‘waste management technician for Jurassic World,’ but he spends his day shoveling shit, transporting shit, and shoveling shit again, and getting paid so much for it that his student loans are gone, his little sister won’t have to worry about student loans unless she goes to college on the moon or something, and his family back in Los Angeles is living as comfortably as he is.

Even though he mostly works with the big predators, the ones who live in tightly closed systems, Jorge is never really afraid. He starts his day with Rexie, the biggest of the predators on current exhibit and one of the most mellow. Rexie is getting on in years, and after her early-morning goat all she really wants is a nap while the sun warms her up. He talks to her when she’s half-awake, and while it doesn’t put her at ease, anything that’s not screaming and running helps convince her he’s not prey. By the time he’s done cleaning up after her, she wouldn’t want to eat him, anyway.

And most of the other animals won't come near him when he smells like Tyrannosaurus crap.

The exceptions, for most of his career, are the procompsognathids, who are little chicken-sized scavengers with numbing bites that don’t mind if their food is a little rancid or a little dirty, and of course the velociraptors, who greet any intrusion into their paddock with suspicion no matter what it smells like. The velociraptors get tucked away into their ready-cages on most of his cleaning sessions, but one time the greener one slipped out. Jorge and Mr. Grady were the only ones who didn't panic, although Mr. Grady came close. Both men were telling the guards to hold their fire, but Jorge said, “She’s not going to hurt me, it’s fine! Watch!”

Mr. Grady and his clicker kept a close eye on the green girl, who got maybe five feet from Jorge, then started blinking and force-sneezing, trying to get the smell out of her nose. Mr. Grady managed to lead her back to her ready-cage.

“How’d you know that was going to happen?” Mr. Grady asked while Jorge was towing his hand truck out to the actual truck he used to get from paddock to paddock. “She could’ve killed you.”

“None of them will kill me unless they trip on me,” Jorge said. “They might want to eat me if I smelled like meat, but I smell like crap.” Which was and is pretty close to entirely true. The procompsognathids might be curious enough to take a bite out of him, and enough bites from them and he’ll be in trouble-- but he wears thick sleeves and work gloves and boots that compy bites aren’t likely to break his skin. The dilophosaurs could blind him at a distance even if the smell keeps them away, but anybody who goes into their enclosure has to wear protective headgear anyway. “You want to make sure a dinosaur won’t eat you, make sure you smell like something inedible.”

“That’s... pretty fucking risky,” Mr. Grady told him.

“Jefe, you take more risks than anyone else on this island, getting up close and personal with the scariest dinosaurs we have. And you’re six feet away from me and standing upwind.”

Mr. Grady looked shocked for a second, and then embarrassed. “The smell is kinda--”

“It’s worse for them,” Jorge told him.

Jorge had been working at Jurassic World for a couple of years when a couple of suits approached him about changing his route. The compys weren’t hard to clean up after, someone else could do that, and they wanted him to manage the enclosure of an upcoming attraction-- but he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so thick it counted as a textbook before they’d tell him anything but ‘carnivore.’

They paid him really well to be the official pooper scooper for the most dangerous animals in prehistory, but the NDA came with a pay raise that made his mouth water. He’s been sending money home, but his first post-non-disclosure paycheck could pay off his mother's mortgage.

He signed it.

The Indominus Rex becomes one of his more interesting stops.

She growls at him, at first, and he talks to her like he’d talk to a shy but dangerous dog. He announces his presence every time, and sometimes she’ll announce back, a quick echoing bark that has him smiling into the brush. (Never smiling with teeth. The only predators who like that look are dogs, and just because Jorge smells like a rest stop covered in litter box doesn’t mean he’s stupid enough to put on an accidental threat display.) He never means to name her Indy, and nobody else on I-Rex duty calls her that, but in his head, anyway, it sticks.

He never actually sees all of her. A length of tail, now and then her head when she noses aside foliage to watch him work. Never the whole animal all at once, but he knows how long she is, because they tell him.

Fifty feet.

Indy’s enclosure is a hundred and fifty feet.

The walls are forty feet high, and Jorge is pretty sure the only reason Indy can’t climb out is because she hasn’t got enough room for a running jump. She hasn’t really got enough room to run.

They tell him she ignores the glass except to attack it now and then. They tell him she ate her sister. They tell him if he dies in her enclosure, his family will be well taken care of.

Jorge scoops up dinosaur shit and is making more money than he’d ever thought he’d see in his life, so Jorge only tells the guards that he knows, he understands, yes sir. He tells the suits yes sir and yes ma’am.

And he remembers Hades, the pit bull his friend Marc rescued. Hades hadn’t ever known anything but a stupid amateur dogfight ring before Marc, and that poor dog was fucked up. Hades had lived in part of a garage, in a chain-link kennel. He got his exercise on a treadmill. Once rescued, he lived for kind words, for Good Dog and Good Boy and Bonito. He had to be fed three times a day because he ate all of whatever he got, as soon as he got it, even if he ate so much he got sick. No loud noises, no sunglasses, no other animals, and certain words they had to say in Spanish because in English, they made Hades growl or snap or piss himself in fear.

Hades was a good dog, a loyal dog, but he grew up wrong and it never left him.

Indy’s enclosure isn’t much bigger, in terms of scale, than that old kennel Hades had lived in before Marc. And Indy never sees people bringing her food, just the crane. She watches the people in the glassed-in obs deck, sometimes tries to attack them, but the only human who goes anywhere near her is Jorge.

Jorge is a chicken. He doesn’t pipe up. He doesn’t say ‘she needs more room’ or ‘she's going to be fucked up in the head if she isn't already.’ Jorge doesn’t want to lose the security he can buy for himself and his family with the paycheck scooping up Indominus Crap brings him.

But chicken or not, he can’t do nothing to help her. So he says, “Hola, Indy!” and talks, all the time he’s in her enclosure, happy voice and exaggerated words, and when she makes dinosaur noises at him, he takes the gamble and makes them back.

He sounds stupid, but she repeats the noises.

It’s like a game, and when he thinks about how it’s probably the only game anyone’s ever played with Indy, he wants to punch someone or throw shit at someone or go give a shit-stain-hug to Ms. Dearing and her perfect pastel wardrobe. He doesn't see Ms. Dearing often but when he does, he only ever hears her call Indy ‘The Asset.’

After he clocks out and showers, he looks up animal neglect. The worst ones are elephants, back in the old days, and Jorge knows Indy could make a rogue circus elephant look like a minor temper tantrum. He knows Indy is at least elephant-smart. He knows dinosaurs and birds are relatives, so he looks things up about neglected birds, finds a lot of horrifying information about parrots, and makes a note to keep an eye out for behaviors like chewing, or if she stops eating for too long.

... Sometimes she doesn’t eat. Not often, not enough to make Jorge worry-- not enough to make the scientists or suits worry, actually-- but sometimes he’ll be hauling out a side of rancid beef along with a cart of crap. Whenever he’s actually in her enclosure, Indy always seems relaxed and alert… but sometimes she breaks things, snaps branches off trees, pulverizes the meat she doesn’t eat with her big head or her claws. He knows she can’t be okay, not really, not in her brain, where it counts.

He grew up too close to Sea World than to think you can’t put a fucked-up animal on public display and get away with it, but he also can’t help but think that Indy would be a lousy show animal. If people want to watch a dinosaur tear into something, they’ll go watch a T-rex feeding, which couldn’t be more popular without adding another viewing platform. It’s not like they teach the super-predators to do tricks. Even the mosasaurus is just doing what it would do anyway, when they pretend it’s just a scaled-up Shamu. (Jorge does not go near the mosasaurus lagoon if he can help it. The assorted short-lived orcas named Shamu tended to kill people, and the mosasaurus is hungry all day long or it wouldn’t jump up for its treats. There’s not enough fence around the mosasaurus lagoon for his peace of mind.)

So he does what he can for Indy. He talks sweet to her, he plays copy-me games with her, but there’s only so long he can shovel shit and pick up fallen branches and palm leaves and shattered sides of beef, and then he’s got to go. His cowardice turns into something else, a fear of its own-- if he spoke up and got his ass fired, would anyone else talk to Indy? He can give her maybe two hours a day of being treated like an animal, like a living thing, like somebody’s favorite, and then she’s Ms. Dearing’s Asset again. Jorge can’t be Owen Grady, he doesn’t have the qualifications to be Owen Grady, but he’s not going to gamble with the one thing he can give Indy, besides a clean floor. (If he looked a little whiter, he might have risked it, but if he’d looked a little whiter, they would’ve found somebody browner to clean her cage. He’s pretty sure they still think Indy will eat him eventually, and it’s easier to downplay the tragic death of a maintenance worker when it’s Jorge Gutiérrez who died, and not George Walters.)

Jorge hopes for the best for Indy, but forces himself to remember that what's best for her might end up being put down as fast and painless as possible.

If he hears that's going to happen, he'll try to be there for it.

(In the end, he isn't there. He's a hundred and twenty miles away, evacuated to the mainland, wondering why pterosaurs are such assholes. People know about the Indominus escaping, of course; Owen Grady, Claire Dearing, her two nephews. Dr. Wu. The control room staff, Asset Containment, InGen’s paramilitary unit. They know how many she’s killed, human and otherwise. They know how big a mess she’s made, killing animals and leaving them to rot. But the park guests are never informed, and word doesn’t trickle down very fast from the employees who run the park to the employees who shovel shit, baby-sit the petting zoo, and sell souvenirs. Pteranodons and dimorphodons swooping around main street, picking up people and dropping them or killing them, riling up that damned mosasaurus are ‘asset out of containment’ enough that no one thinks to ask any questions beyond wondering how they got out.)

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