Gray swallowed nervously as he stared at the fence. There was a sign hanging on it. "Stay behind the red line." He read aloud as they approached. His gaze dropped to the sidewalk and saw the red painted line. "Why… why do you think it says to stay back?"
Zach shrugged boredly as he stared down at his phone. He glanced up at the sign and then the line. "Probably have to say that." He started. "So little kids don't get eaten." He said with a smile.
Gray's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. "Seriously?"
Zach rolled his eyes and reached over to ruffle his brother's hair. "Gray, this is like the tenth time we've been here. How are you still nervous?"
"The velociraptor exhibit wasn't open last time." Gray said softly.
Zach shrugged. "So? You scared?"
"Yes!" Gray said sharply.
"I dare you to go stand next to the fence."
Gray's eyes widened. "I just said I'm scared."
"Conquer your fear?" Zach phrased it more as a question and tilted his head.
"No!" Gray shook his head. "You do it."
Zach shrugged and turned towards the fence. It was just a fence. There was some brush behind it and farther on, a few trees. But he didn't see any dinosaurs. He handed his phone to Gray. "Take a picture of me with the sign." He said and then stepped over the red line. He stood right under the sign and turned around. He leaned against the fence and flipped off the camera.
Gray smiled as he snapped a couple pictures. And then his eyes widened and he dropped the phone.
"Careful!" Zach snapped. "That's new!"
Gray didn't answer. He lifted his hand and pointed.
Zach turned and came face to face to fence with a velociraptor. She was pressed against the fence. She tilted her head back and let out a loud, shrill roar. Zach scrambled backwards, nearly falling. He stumbled into Gray and the younger brother latched onto him tightly.
"Rule number one." A voice behind them started. The brothers turned to look at the man and Zach sucked in a breath. The man smiled. "Never turn your back on them."
Gray turned back around immediately and forced Zach with him.
Zach rolled his eyes. "Too late now." He said and pointed to the sign. "Put that on the sign."
The man smiled. "The sign does say to stay away from the fence." He stepped closer and waved his hand at the dinosaur. "Stop scaring the kid, Blue. And the rest of you can come out." At his words, three others stepped out and peered at the brothers through the fence.
Gray's eyes widened and he smiled. "Wow."
Zach turned towards the stranger. "So… you work here or do you just randomly hang around and pretend to?"
He laughed and nodded his head. "Yeah. I'm Owen Grady, the head of the raptor program."
"Zach." Zach said and pointed down at his brother. "Gray. Our aunt works here. We know some of the workers."
Gray shook his head. "But not the raptors. They're new."
Owen tilted his head. "Not new exactly. We've been around for a few years. But just not released to the public. That's Delta, Charlie, Echo, and you already met my girl Blue. She's the beta."
Zach glanced back at him. "Who's the alpha?"
Owen smirked and winked. "You're looking at him."
Zach piqued an eyebrow. "That's hot. You're really hot."
Owen's eyes widened, a bit shocked at the bluntness.
"Zach got outted a couple months ago and dad kicked him out." Gray still, his eyes still on the raptors. "He's been staying with his friend until he leaves for college next month."
Zach rolled his eyes and bopped his brother in the back of his head. "He didn't ask for a reason."
Gray pulled away and ducked his head. "You're flirting with an old guy and it's gross."
Zach grabbed him and ruffled his hair again. "Shut up, squirt." Gray flailed for a moment and laughed as Zach started tickling him.
Owen seemed to pout as he crossed his arms. "I'm not old." He pointed out.
Zach looked back at him and shook his head. "Definitely not old."
"So you said your aunt work's here?" Owen asked.
Zach nodded. "Yeah."
"So you guys visit a lot?"
Zach nodded again. "Yeah, a few times a year over the past couple years."
Owen smiled. "You guys want a tour of the raptor paddock?"
Gray's eyes widened and he nodded his head. "Yes! Sorry I called you old!" He took off running down the sidewalk.
Zach rolled his eyes. "Wait up! He didn't tell you which way to go!"