It takes four tries for InGen to successfully produce a group of raptors, ones that last more than their first two weeks.
Owen stays with the first batch from their first breath to their last, not leaving for even a single moment. He’s got a degree in animal behavior and a mind full of useless information, and if there is even a single thing he can do, then he’s doing it.
There are three of them. Three tiny velociraptors, three tiny creatures that could someday grow up to be fierce and loyal and cunning and smarter than almost any living creature. Three tiny creatures with so much potential.
These raptors are more than a science experiment, despite what some of the scientists believe, and he isn’t going to leave them alone in the cold. Not when he knows they won’t make it through the night.
A scientist tells him so, clear as day, and then she’s walking away without even giving them a second glance.
The second group, a pair of beautiful girls, manages to survive for three days.
These ones are distinctly more bird-like, feathers crowning their head and keening at the slightest touch. But they are young and small, and by noon on the second day, a virus has taken hold, and Owen is left holding their shivering forms close to his chest.
They snap at him, tiny claws barely making a dent in his skin and making miniscule tears in his clothes, because these animals aren’t meant to be tamed. They’re wild and scared and confused, and their entire life is spent in a harsh white room, and all Owen can do is whisper words they never learn to understand.
He names them Sparks and Jazz against all advice not to, and tells them that you’re okay and I’ve got you and sometimes, when they grow far too quiet, I’m sorry.
The duo pass away quietly, going still in his arms, and if Owen didn’t know any better, he’d say they’d fallen asleep.
Group three is another trio, their appearance somewhere between the first group’s reptilian and the second’s avian features. They’re exactly what Owen pictured raptors to look like growing up, chirping and whistling and watching him with eyes that understand too much.
They’re stronger, this time around, bred to withstand the virus that killed Sparks and Jazz, and anything else that might stand in their way.
Zeta, the oldest of the trio, learns to follow his orders, while her sisters March and Trick chase around mice brought in by the scientists. A week passes, and Owen thinks that finally, he won’t have to hold these creatures’ still forms, but hope has no place amongst the impossible.
One day before they turn a week old, the raptors are lost in a careless accident, caused by the scientist who had so coldly dismissed their first trio of animals.
But the fourth group is different. Owen doesn’t know how, but he knows this the same way he knows his name and his age and his birthday. The same way you know something that is completely impossible to forget.
The largest egg starts to shake, and he whispers encouragement. “Come on, girl, just a bit more,” he says, and then a tiny head is forcing itself out of the egg, and Owen is struck by the raptor’s beauty. She’s pale and grey and blue scales run down her flanks like racing stripes.
Almost instantly, she’s pushing her head into the palm of Owen’s hand, something none of the eight other hatchlings had done. She’s stronger, he thinks, but then again, he had already known that. She needs a name, and Owen knows what to call her without a doubt.
“Blue?” He calls, tentative and cautious, and she chirps and whistles in a way that means ‘that’s me!’ Owen can’t help but grin, because she’s the one. Blue’s going to be the first raptor to grow into her potential.
They sit there for hours, just the two of them, human and raptor, and Blue is everything and nothing he had expected. She’s intelligent, yes, more so than any other animal Owen has worked with, but she’s also curious and careful. There’s not even a hint of anything malicious, not like the raptors that had ravaged the original Jurassic Park.
Hours pass, and eventually, two eggs hatch.
The older one is quiet, and spends moments simply watching him, as Blue had done. Aside from that, however, the two aren’t alike, with their contrasting scales of yellow and blue, and where Blue was eager, this girl was cunning.
The younger raptor is beautiful, just like her sister is, and her deep, blue-green scales remind him of the ocean. “Hey there, girl,” he coos, and the raptor cocks her head, darting forward to nibble at his fingers.
Owen only laughs. “Hey there, darling.” The raptor blinks up at him. “Delta? How does that sound?” She nods, and then she’s back to nibbling on his fingers.
He turns to the first, and whistles. She repeats it. He whistles a second time, and once again, the small creature copies it. “Echo?” Owen says, a smile in his eyes, and she preens.
He’s got three baby raptors, three beautiful girls he’s never going to let go of.
By the time the final egg hatches, Owen is almost falling asleep. It’s been hours since Echo and Delta hatched, and it’s clear that they’re becoming attached, to the point that when he closes his eyes for even a moment, he winds up with a trio of raptors curled up beside him.
He blinks awake at the quiet sound of the last egg cracking, and straightens, careful not to dislodge the raptors sleeping at his side, and comes face to face with a tiny, green raptor who’s scales send him back to the jungle. She’s tiny, the smallest out of all twelve raptors he’d ever seen.
But she chirps and whistles and calls and she’s beyond energetic. Owen can already tell she’ll be the troublemaker of the group, the one to drive him and her siblings insane. “How about Charlie?” He says, thinking of a woman he’d known in his Navy days.
Charlie, of course, screeches.
And dammit, Owen’s already too attached. Lesson one in working with wild animals was to keep a distance, because no matter how tame they may seem, they’re wild by nature. In the right circumstances, a dog could fight like a wolf, and these tiny things could do a lot more damage than your average canine.
He knows what happens when you get too close, he’s experienced it while training ordinary creatures and ones that were never meant to be trained.. It’s a rule, he thinks, if you get attached you’re vulnerable.
They’re thoughts he’ll never speak out loud, because while that may have been true in the military, there’s no precedent for something like this. No one in the last twenty years has attempted to recreate the raptors of ancient times, and the project is nothing like his work with the NMMP.
But Owen is already in far too deep, and strangely, he can’t bring himself to care. He’s never been an extroverted person, and this soon after leaving the Navy, there are still visions rushing through his mind when he closes his eyes and the smallest thing can take him back, and if he surrounds himself with people now, he’ll crash.
But these raptors aren’t people. They’re the face of a challenge he won’t back down from. They’re the face of an impossible goal, and right now, that’s exactly what Owen needs.
Years later, he holds them close, closer than ever before because he’d almost lost them.
The Idominus Rex had tried to take his girls away from him, had tried to tear apart his tiny family of sharp claws and fangs, but she had failed.
She had failed, because each and every one of his girls has loyalty in their blood, and the Indominus may have been part raptor, but his girls are more than that. They’re the only family Owen has left, his parents long gone and anyone else a distant memory.
He’s covered in blood and dirt and tears, but his girls are here, all four of them, and that’s all he can ask for. Blue’s scales are stained red in places, and Delta is missing some scales all together, and Echo is scratched to hell and Charlie’s burned and battered, but in comparison to what could have been, they’re all okay.
And Blue is shoving her head against his chest, just like she had so long ago, Delta’s protective gaze settled on him, and Echo is chirping and whistling, making every noise sound concerned, and Charlie, his youngest girl, curls up around him, and it’s like they were hatchlings again.
Owen doesn’t care in the slightest.