Tell the Angels It'll Be Alright
A Resident Evil Fic
Run and tell all of the angels
This could take all night…
Claire Redfield angrily shook her head, her brown ponytail whipping behind her head as violent as the lash of a slave driver's whip. It struck the sides of her face, creating small bursts of almost-pain that fought vainly to bring her back to reality. For a moment, she shut her blue eyes tightly, stubbornly putting a damper on the flood of tears that threatened to inundate her vision.
Just try again, she told herself. Start again. All roads can't lead to…him.
She took a breath, and tried again.
Wind in her hair.
Red hair, so soft.
Even in death.
An almost bestial snarl of frustration emerged from her throat as her eyes flew open, revealing blue depths wet with tears of memory. Her lower lip quivered violently, and Claire quickly caught it with her teeth before it could trigger the horrible train of sobs and tears that were begging to be released. She gave a shuddering sigh and pulled her knees up against her chest so she could bury her face in them.
It had been weeks since her and Chris' escape from the Antarctic Base, weeks since she had left that realm of nightmares behind her in exchange for a one-way trip on the train of vengeance, at her brother's side. Now she and Chris were back in Paris, the place where Claire had been captured and taken to Rockfort Island. Umbrella had long since abandoned the facility that had been Claire's undoing, but Chris was certain that Umbrella had left some trail that could be followed. Claire, of course, had agreed to come with him, refusing to be separated from her brother now or ever again. The seeds of a plan were being sowed, Leon was coming up to meet them, they were hot on the trail of Umbrella, the two siblings having conquered adversity over and over again…
But Claire couldn't forget Steve.
Every waking moment was haunted with the sweet shadow of his brutal, valiant death. The savage nature of the beast he had become in his final moments hadn't been enough to vanquish the humanity that was so strong within him. Steve had been born a human, and he died as a human, unlike so many other victims of Umbrella's horrible experimentations. Even now, weeks after his death, Claire could still see they way his orange-red hair blazed blood red against the deathly pale pallor of his smooth skin as he lay dying against the wall that served as his only grave marker, splattered with his courageous blood. His pale green eyes and coral colored lips were painted on her heart and etched into the backs of her eyelids. His words haunted her dreams; she couldn't escape the memories of him. Every path she took, every thought she started with, always led back to one Steve Burnside, prisoner of Rockfort Island, a boy lost in a savage garden of zombies and blood, lost until he had found her…and she had found him.
Claire couldn't sleep – the hauntingly sweet memories of him came so strong and violent. The realm of blackness behind her eyelids bore his face with its jovial green eyes and full mouth that could yield the most beautiful smiles when he was in his good moods. The fiery color of his hair blazed so brightly against the blackness that soon his own figure burned and contorted as she watched with a broken heart. Her emotions and sanity twisted and turned in this place behind her eyelids where angels burned.
Her dreams were filled to the brim with cherished memories of him, so casual at the time, but now they were among her fondest recollections in her entire life. She didn't remember the horrendously twisted laugh of Alexia Ashford or the androgynous cackle of Alfred Ashford; instead, she recalled Steve's light-hearted chuckles as they joked about flying to Hawaii or when he had insisted on telling her every cheesy joke he had ever heard in his lifetime. That time in the snowmobile in the Antarctic now seemed so far in the past, with her driving and exchanging happy banter with Steve, telling him in a more serious tone about Raccoon City and the events that went down there. She had tried not elate at how envious and protective Steve had gotten when she had mentioned Leon's name…
"Who is this Leon guy?" Steve asked in what was supposed to be a light tone, but came out more as a jealous growl. "I remember you saying something about sending him an e-mail. Is he your boyfriend or what?"
Claire suppressed the urge to grin as Steve tried to appear unconcerned with her answer. She failed, and a smile spread across her face as she averted her gaze from the snowy landscape outside to Steve's figure slouched in the seat next to her. "Leon's not my boyfriend," she said simply.
Steve immediately perked up, his graceful eyebrows coming up out of the scowl they had settled into. "That's cool," he said, voice light with barely contained happiness. "That's really, really cool."
Claire looked at him oddly, her quirked eyebrows contrasting with the grin that was lighting up her face.
Steve turned as red as his hair and looked away, fidgeting in embarrassment. "Well, um, yeah. Hey, have you ever heard the one about…?"
Now there would be no more jokes, no more laughter. Steve had taken them both down with him into his grave. Claire had never known how terrible it was to realize that her entire world sat on someone's shoulders, then to have that person brutally torn from them by Fate, taking almost everything that she had ever lived for with him. She saw it all the time in the movies, those sappy romances with wimpy, underweight women that she had always hated. I'll never be one of those pansies, she had vowed. They don't know how to deal with life and all its harsh realities. Just deal with it and move on. No need to cry about every little thing.
Yet, now here she was, Claire Redfield the tough little tomboy always looking up to her older brother and his rebellious nature, never giving into tears, never giving into hardship. Here she was, a full grown woman sitting curled up in a chair next to a frost-covered window in a Paris hotel, looking out at the cold night and the cruel heavens with watery eyes and a broken heart.
It was these watery eyes that she now lifted entirely to the winter sky, looking at the deep blue of the fabric of space, pierced all over with holes of starlight. Her blue eyes searched that cold, dark night sky for a sign of life, for some sort of indication that there was a place up there where angels danced in the light of love, free of all earthly entanglements and living forever eternal in a realm of unchecked happiness.
Is Steve up there? Claire wondered. Up there with a God and with angels that I don't believe in?
Yet, despite her lack of religious faith, she desperately wanted to believe that there was some heavily Garden up there where angels sang songs of praise to those who had died valiantly, a place where there was no mourning, no suffering, where Steve was happy and carefree, where he could finally be with his parents again. He had loved them so much…
Yes, Steve had loved his parents with all his heart. But he had also loved Claire, too. He had loved her enough to kill the horrible creature that once borne his father's face. He had killed his father not when his own life was threatened, but when Claire had been in danger of dying. He had saved her life then, had saved it a dozen times over, and he had died saving it one last time.
And now he was gone, and she was alone.
Sure, Chris was in the room next to her, making plans about the siege on the Umbrella headquarters and worrying about his sister, concerned with the fact that it had been weeks since he had seen her smile last. He was probably wondering why she insisted on holing herself up in her room and only emerging when it was absolutely necessary. He was probably wondering what the hell was wrong with her and if it had something to do with a boy named Steve…
Claire drew in a shuddering breath and shut her eyes. God, this hurt so much. When was it going to stop? She'd never felt this way before in her life. How could one boy have meant so much to her? How?!
"God," she told the dark, apathetic sky, her voice sounding small and wavering in the vacant darkness of her room. "You're too cruel. If you do exist you must be some kind of monster to take away the life of a young man like that. Isn't there any sense of justice in your heart? He was just looking for his parents, and you let him die, God. You let Steve…die. He didn't deserve what happened to him! What had he every done to you! He's dead, you know, and he's never coming back! Steve's…dead."
She choked on the last few words. Her heart ached painfully in her chest, and her whole body began to shake. Sadness, deep and inescapable, washed over her in one violent tide, making water well up in her eyes. She couldn't take this anymore. Wasn't there anything that could ease her pain?
No, she answered herself harshly. There's nothing that can help you. The only thing that could possibly alleviate your suffering would be to see those green eyes open again, to hear that laugh of his, touch that red hair and see him alive and well…all of which is impossible. He's dead.
Yes, he is. Steve is dead, and he's never coming back.
That one thought, that one forbidden thought, those soundless words of defeat echoed in her mind until it broke the delicate wall that had held back her emotions.
And as the dark, cruel heavens looked on, Claire once again gave into her tears.