Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
AN: Okay, this is a one shot I wrote. I've really fallen off the wagon in updating my on-going stories and I am optimistic that writing this will re-ignite my creative juices.
AN2: I would categorize this story as pointless fluff, I guess? It's AU and doesn't have anything to do with anything. But I hope someone will enjoy it nonetheless. Any and all mistakes are mine but fingers crossed there are not many.
"No. No. No! I'm sorry! Come back! Agh!" A frustrated redhead shouted in vain as the screen went black. Claire Redfield slammed her fists down on the keyboard of the now useless laptop. "Useless piece of shit." She cursed.
"Having problems?" Her roommate Jill Valentine asked, not even looking up from the book she was engrossed with on the couch.
"This stupid, mother fucking computer stopped working. I think it's really dead this time." Claire muttered as she desperately pushed the power button, trying to bring the machine back to life.
"You are not very helpful."
Jill finally tore her eyes away from her book, only to glare at the redhead. "What did you think was going to happen Redfield? Your computer has been on the fritz all year, I told you to get a new one months ago."
"Saying 'I told you so' doesn't really do me any good right now. My paper is due tomorrow!" Claire began sifting through her hand written notes, trying to figure out how she was going to rewrite an entire essay in less than twelve hours. "Can I use your laptop?"
"Absolutely not!" The blonde looked horrified at the very idea. "Claire you are allergic to 90% of technology. You've wrecked every electronic device you own this year. I am not subjecting my belongings to your horrendus luck. Sorry."
"Well what am I suppose to do? The library closes at eleven and it's going to take me all night to put this together again."
"You need a new computer." Jill replied turning her attention back to her book.
Claire checked the time on her watch. "It's almost 9:30, where could I get a new computer at this hour."
The blonde threw her book down on the coffee table, knowing her roommate would not leave her alone until she either let her borrow her own computer or helped her come up with an alternative solution. "You could just hand it in late, and take the penalty." She suggested, but knowing instantly that her friend wouldn't go for it.
"No fucking way, I can't afford to lose that much off my grade. I've been working on this paper for weeks!"
"Okay, okay! Calm down, let me think." Jill found it more than a little pathetic how technologically unsavy Claire was; anyone else would have made back ups of back ups of an essay this important. But considering it was a miracle in itself that the girl could even type, she wasn't really surprised that Claire found herself in this predicament. "Oh, I know! There's a computer repair shop a few blocks away, right beside the Thai place you like, I think they're open pretty late. Maybe they perform miracles. If not, when you get back I'll begrudgingly let you borrow my laptop to finish your paper."
Claire rushed to find her jacket and shove the broken computer in her bag. "Thanks Jill!" She called as she raced out of the apartment.
Claire almost missed it, the shop was so tiny but her relief at finding it was short lived as she noticed the 'CLOSED' sign in the door window. She tried the door anyway but it was locked, and she banged her head against the glass in dismay. But her hope still flickered as the lights were still on inside, so in a display of desperation she banged on the door, hoping someone was still in there. Fortunately, it didn't take long for a head to pop up from behind the counter. Claire knocked on the door harder to draw the person over. She only stopped when they reached the door and she took a step back when it finally opened.
The distressed student was surprised to come face to face with a girl around her age with messy blonde hair wearing ripped jeans and a sleeveless band t-shirt. For some reason she was expecting a nerdy looking guy and she was momentarily thrown by the contrast.
"Can I help you?" The girl asked.
"Yes! I know you're closed and it's late but I really need some help. My computer died and my paper is due tomorrow, and..." Claire rambled rapidly, her hands wildly animated as the stress of the night worked her into a frenzy. "...I'm desperate. So, can you help me?"
The girl in the doorway was more than a little confused by the display in front of her but wordlessly stepped aside and held the door open for the redhead to enter.
"Thank you so much! I'm Claire by the way."
"Uh, my name is Alice." The blonde replied. "And it's not a problem." She led them over to the counter. "Put your computer on the counter and I'll take a look."
Claire did as instructed and looked at the other woman expectantly. When Alice just stared at the machine blankly Claire grew anxious. "What?"
The blonde tech glanced at her and tried to keep her laughter at bay. "What is that?"
"My laptop," Claire replied cooly, crossing her arms over her chest defensively. "What's the problem?"
Alice could no longer prevent the laughter from escaping. "Maybe once upon a time it was a computer, but now I think it's just a piece of junk." She leaned in to get a closer look and prodded at it as if it would suddenly move of its own volition. "How old is this thing?"
"Stop that!" Claire slapped the other woman's hand away, her frustration with said machine making her irrational. "I get it, okay. It's a piece of shit. But that piece of shit has my English paper hiding somewhere inside and I need it back."
"Okay, sorry." Alice raised her hands defensively. "I will see what I can do." She moved to stand on the other side of the counter and turned the laptop so Claire couldn't see what she was doing. "So how much is the paper worth?" She asked conversationally as she began to work.
"Forty percent!" Claire began to pace back and forth. "I've been working on it for weeks."
"Something so important and you didn't make a backup file?"
Claire would have snapped but the question seemed more out of genuine curiousity than judgement. "Alice look at that thing. Up until about an hour ago I considered that to be a good computer. I am what my roommate calls technologically unfriendly. I'm an English major working on a specialization in comparative literature, my world is books. Musty, old, worn out books. I'm afraid I get pretty lost when it comes to anything involving a screen. I can't even properly program a tv remote."
"I see," Alice replied absenty as she was finally able to get the damn computer to turn on. "I read quite a bit myself. Mostly science fiction though," the blonde looked up, catching Claire's eye before admitting; "well almost exclusively science fiction to be honest. I'm afraid I have never really been able to get into some of the classics. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf..." Alice shrugged, "I can get through a chapter or two but I always end up bailing back to science fiction."
Claire was glad to have the distraction of their conversation to keep her attention away from how her academic career could potentially be over if she didn't finish this essay, but it wasn't enough and she began pacing again as she replied. "I can appreciate that you've even made an attempt to read Woolf, she is horribly tedious at best. However, I cannot understand the appeal of science fiction."
Alice snorted from behind the computer. "Of course you don't, you hate technology!" She ducked down behind the counter, searching for something before reappearing. "What about nonfiction?" Alice probed, smiling when the redhead stopped pacing and turned to face her again.
"Sometimes," Claire answered. "When I can find the time that is." She leaned against the counter, feeling slightly more relaxed. "I love biographies, some of my favourite books are biographies about authors."
"That sounds simply awful." Alice retorted dryly, but the smirk she shot Claire gave away her sarcasm.
When the blonde's attention returned to the screen before her Claire took the opportunity to study the tech. Alice was fairly attractive and had an ease about her that Claire liked. She had been able to calm the redhead effortlessly and Claire had somehow found herself sharing more than she normally would have with a complete stranger. She watched the other woman work on her computer, completely fascinated by how different Alice was from herself.
"Can I make a confession?" Claire asked as her curiousity finally got the best of her.
Alice's eyes flickered up to the redhead momentarily before returning to the laptop. "Sure."
"You're not really what I expected."
The clicking of the keyboard could still be heard as Alice chose to respond with merely a raised eyebrow.
"I was expecting someone a little more... nerdy? I guess..."
"The two things you know about me are that I am good with computers and I like science fiction. Are those not 'nerdy' enough qualities?"
"No," Claire replied slowly as she tried to better articulate what she had meant to say. "I just meant that you don't look..."
"I don't look smart enough to know how to fix a computer?" Alice finished before Claire could find her words.
"No! That's not what I meant at all." Claire's cheeks matched her hair as she realized Alice probably thought she was a total asshole. "You know what? I'm just going to stand here and keep my mouth shut until you're done."
"I'm done." Alice responded immediately.
"Oh my God! You are? Did you fix it?" Claire leaned over the counter excitedly, desperate to hear the fate of her essay.
"Well I'm afraid there is good news and bad news." The tech drew her words out, enjoying the way the redhead squirmed with anticipation.
"Bad news first!" Claire demanded and Alice couldn't stop the amused grin appearing on her face.
"Bad news is, this computer is fucked. I was lucky to even get it to turn on. You are going to need a new one."
Claire dropped her head against the counter and began banging it against the hard surface. "If that is the bad news, then how can there be any good news?"
"Here." Claire looked up to see Alice offering her a small rectuangular device. "The good news is, I found your essay. I assume it was the file called 'Super Important Essay,'" Claire nodded and Alice grinned. "I put it on this USB for you so you can finish your essay tonight as long as you can find a computer to use."
The redhead stared at the tiny stick that was going to save her academic career. She looked at Alice as she took the device from the blonde. "My roommate reluctantly agreed to let me use her computer if this one couldn't be saved so it won't be a problem." Claire could barely contain her relief at not having to start her paper over. "Thank you so much Alice. You really saved my ass tonight. I could kiss you." She had meant it as a joke and was therefore surprised when the blonde replied quickly.
"Okay." The expression on Alice's face was unreadable so Claire just assumed she was playing along.
"Seriously though, how much do I owe you?" Alice may not have saved her computer but she accomplished a hell of a lot more than Claire would have managed on her own.
Alice shook her head in reply. "Don't worry about it Claire. I barely did anything."
"But what about this thing? The USB?"
"We must have dozens of those here." The blonde chuckled. "Just get an A on that paper and I'll actually feel like I helped."
"Okay then, if you're sure?" Alice nodded with a smile and Claire hoped this wouldn't be the last she saw of the other woman. "Thanks again Alice. I guess I'll see you around."
Claire gave her a short wave and then went to leave the shop. She was almost at the door when Alice's voice called her back.
"Claire! Hang on." Alice held up her hand, motioning for the redhead to wait and then disappeared underneath the counter. Once she seemed to find what she was looking for she rounded the counter and joined Claire at the door. "Here." She handed the redhead a small book, probably only a hundred pages or so; nothing even remotely close in length to what Claire was accustomed to reading.
"War of The Worlds," Claire read aloud as she gazed at the cover.
"It's my favourite science fiction story." Alice explained. "I know this genre isn't really your thing but I think you might enjoy this one."
"I can't just take your favourite book."
Alice shrugged. "Consider it a loan then." Her cheeks flushed a little. "Returning it will give you a reason to come back." She gave Claire a hopeful smile which the redhead found adorable.
Claire nodded her agreement. "Okay," she said as she carefully placed the book in her bag. "You've given me a lot tonight Alice, are you sure there isn't anything I can do to repay you?"
It was as if a switch flicked in Alice's brain as her sheepish grin turned into a cocky smirk. "Well you kind of promised me a kiss and then didn't deliver."
Claire barked out a laugh at the blonde's sudden change in demeanor. "Do you make it a habit of whoring out your computer skills to all your customers?" She joked.
"Only to technologically hopeless redheads." Alice replied without missing a beat. "Come on Claire," she leaned closer but turned her head offering the redhead her cheek. "Right here," she tapped the space. "You owe me remember?"
Claire had never met anyone like Alice before. The woman was new and exciting and Claire couldn't deny that she was intrigued by the blonde tech.
"Okay, fine." She let out a dramatic sigh but Alice waited patiently for her prize.
Claire leaned in but when she was just mere milimetres from the pale cheek Alice quickly turned her head and caught the redhead's lips with her own. It wasn't much, just the gentle brushing of lips. The faintest pressure of Alice's lips against her own, but it was enough to galvanize the stirring of butterflies in Claire's chest.
This was not how Claire had envisioned her night to go. She should have been at home, hunched over her shitty laptop, finishing her paper. Not at some tiny repair shop, without a computer, kissing a girl she had spent all of thirty minutes with. But as she grabbed Alice's face in her hands and pulled the blonde closer, deepening the kiss she realized she wouldn't change a thing.
When they separated, Alice was wearing a dopey smile on her face, clearly pleased with herself. And while it made Claire want to grin too, she wasn't as amused with the situation.
In fact, Claire narrowed her eyes at the other woman and scowled. "Asshole."
"Uh, I'm sorry?" The blonde's smile was replaced by confusion.
Claire poked her in the shoulder. "You know I have a paper to write tonight, a very important paper and you decide to pull that stunt."
"But, but you kissed me back."
"Yeah, I did. It was impulsive and it felt nice. I think you're smart and interesting."
"So what is the problem? Because I think you're really cool Claire and I thought the kiss felt amazing."
Claire poked her in the shoulder again. "The problem is now I'm going to be thinking about it all night even though my biggest paper of the year is due tomorrow!"
"Oh." Alice nodded in understanding and tried to give her an apologetic smile but there was still a trace of the cocky smirk peeking through. The blonde was clearly pleased at the effect she had on the redhead but didn't want to make Claire any angrier.
"Yeah." Claire was desperately trying to maintain the stern look on her face but it was difficult. She was a little annoyed at Alice for being a providing a massive distraction on the night she was going to need all her mental faculties focussed on her paper. But at the same time if Alice hadn't kissed her it was likely she would have been distracted all night anyway wondering if the blonde would be into her.
"So... what do we do now?" Alice scratched the back of her head nervously.
"I'm going to go home, finish this paper and get an A." She then grinned at the blonde mischieviously. "And you are going to plan the date you're taking me out on tomorrow night." She almost laughed aloud at the terrified expression that appeared on the other woman's face.
Alice gulped audibly. "I am?"
"Yep. Unless you don't want to?" She challenged.
"No, I do!" Alice was quick to reassure.
"Good, then I will see you tomorrow."
"Uh, yes" Alice agreed. "Meet me here, around seven?" Claire nodded. "Okay..."
Claire could tell there was something else Alice wanted to say. "Yes?"
The tech cleared her throat. "Would it uh, be okay if I ah... kissed you again?" She bit her lip nervously, waiting for the redhead to respond.
Claire smiled brightly. Alice looked super cute with the hopeful look in her eyes and she was powerless to resist, not that she wanted to. "Yes."
The other woman visibly relaxed and leaned in to the redhead once more, kissing her firmly on the lips. It was only a few seconds but it was long enough for Claire to feel the butterflies start fluttering again.
"Good luck on your paper Claire," Alice said as she pulled back. "I'm sure it will turn out great."
"Thanks." Claire beamed. "I'll see you tomorrow?" She waited for Alice to nod. "Good night Alice."
Claire stepped out into the cool night air and began making her way back home. It was crazy how her night had turned around. And even though she had lost her computer, she couldn't help but feel like she had gained a lot more.