DISCLAIMER: Claire, Leon, and everything else Resident Evil are all published and licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment and probably New Line Cinema. The concept and games were developed by Capcom.

Let Me Live

Chapter One
Three Months Later

Sometimes I remember
The darkness of my past
Bringing back these memories
I wish I didn't have
Sometimes I think of letting go
And never looking back
And never moving forward so
There would never be a past

-Linkin Park, Easier To Run

Seattle, Washington
January, 1999

Blood, it was everywhere; spattered on the walls in grisly decoration, smudged into the carpets and smeared on door handles. The stench of rotting flesh mingled with the bitter metallic taste of blood and permeated through the walls around every corner. The senses could describe this, though there was no source. Everything seemed empty, void of life. Everything was dead.

A movement. Something was just out of reach, but it was coming closer—slowly, painfully, as if every horrific moment stretched into eternity. If only time really could stop, but there was no avoiding the inevitable. Suddenly it struck, and with the empty, hollow moan of death, it sank its rotten, decaying teeth into warm, soft human skin, ripping and chewing until more blood flowed freely over its own putrid flesh.

Leon Kennedy moved so quickly that the knife he drew from underneath his pillow sliced through his sheets. The blood in his ears was pounding as he sat, deathly still, staring through the darkness of his empty bedroom. Drenched in cold sweat, he listened intently for the sound of shuffling feet or the low, piteous moans he heard so often in his sleep. Slowly, his wits returned to him and he lowered the knife.

The bed he had been lying on was right against the wall where he could look out the window and see dawn just beginning to break over the city skyline. The dim light of daybreak shed the already stark room in an unforgiving light. The walls were bare and white, and the sheets that had been ripped through with the knife were a solid navy blue. The non-descript mini-blinds shook slightly as wind gently blew through the open window. For all the personality the clinically spare room lacked, it was an ideal set up for anyone wishing to hide or disappear.

Leon slid his legs over the side of the bed and pressed his bare feet to the cold floor. He consciously eased his grip on the hilt of the hunting knife. The breeze was freezing as it hit the slick flesh of his bare torso, but his face was still flushed from the terror of the dream. He wore a pair of sweatpants the color of his sheets. He was always dressed, always going to bed expecting to run from it.

"Moron..." Leon muttered to himself. He massaged the bridge of his nose before turning to stare at the phone on his nightstand. He shook his head and trudged to the bathroom instead.

Leon made sure the bathroom door was locked behind him, although he was the only person who lived in the tiny apartment. Cranking on the hot water, he shed his sweaty clothes and stepped into the shower. He reached for a bar of soap from a high ledge above the showerhead, and his fingers brushed against the barrel of a handgun. Instead of being alarmed, Leon only made a mental note to clean the gun later, as the humidity from the shower ruined the last one he had hidden there.

Minutes later, Leon stepped out of the steamy bathroom with gun in hand and rummaged through his dresser drawers, shoving aside small cartons of shotgun ammunition. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt as plain as the room around him before withdrawing an ammo clip for the handgun from his sock drawer. He sat back down on his bed and noticed the ripped sheets for the first time. He shrugged and ripped the material the rest of the way, using a section of it to clean the gun. He glanced at the phone periodically, as though having an internal debate over whether to pick it up or not. When he finally finished with the gun, he loaded it and locked it before putting it back in its place above the shower. The sun was shining in full force now as he returned to the bedroom and sat on the bed once more with a grimace. He stared at the phone again before finally reaching for the receiver.

Leon punched in a well-known number and waited for the connection with a slight frown. He disliked having to bother her all the time with such pathetic, recurring problems, but there was no one else in the world who he knew would understand exactly what he was going through.

Claire Redfield slept on her stomach with her face crushed into the pillow, arms tucked under the other side with one hand grasping a combat knife. Ex-boyfriends during these last three months had always made some comment about her odd sleeping habits– one called it "dangerously sexy" while another had downright refused to sleep in the same bed. Claire only shrugged. Boyfriends came and went, but the knife stayed.

When the phone rang, Claire's eyes snapped open, but she lay still for another moment. She never seemed to sleep very deeply, or at least not anymore. The slightest sound at night had her grasping the hilt of her brother's hunting knife and lying rigidly still, eyes scanning the darkness for shuffling shadows.

The phone rang again, snapping Claire out of her reverie. A muffled groan next to her indicated that it needed to be answered. Claire let go of the long-bladed knife and reached for the receiver on the stand next to her bed. Her back arched in the stretch, and her crumpled sheets slipped further off the bed, exposing her boy-cut panties and white tank top. She grabbed the phone before it could ring again.

"Ashley here," Claire lied, as usual.

"Claire, you awake?" Leon asked on the other end, completely unfazed by the fake name.

"I sure hope so, if I'm talking to you," Claire replied, immediately smiling. The mound next to her reached over and tweaked her bottom, and Claire stifled a little shriek as she batted the hand away. "What's up?" she addressed Leon.

"...Are you busy now?" he asked after a slight pause. "Do you want to get some coffee?"

"Yeah, of course," Claire said. "I-- oh, hang on a minute..." A groping hand was accosting Claire's bottom again, and she pulled the phone from her ear as she slapped the appendage away. A dark, tousled head emerged from the folds of her blankets with a sheepish grin and began to kiss her hand.

On the other end, Leon tried not to roll his eyes as he heard Claire giggle. He knew Claire had a life and didn't need him interrupting her Saturday morning lie-in with Boyfriend #3, but he still wished that she would at least pick one with some manners some time, starting with one who knew not to interrupt phone conversations. He waited semi-patiently before Claire returned breathlessly to the phone. "Okay, how about the usual?" she said while trying to tie her hair up into a messy ponytail with one hand.

"Same place?" he confirmed.

"Yep. See you in a few." Claire set the receiver back on the hook before receiving a particularly shocking nip to her backside. She grinned devilishly before snatching the pillow out from underneath the offender's head and promptly beating him with it. Boyfriend #3 yelped and shielded his face.

"Hey, baby, I was only playin'..." he said defensively as Claire extricated herself from the tangled bed sheets. He watched her, his eyes involuntarily traveling over the thin, silvery lines of scar tissue that zigzagged along her neck and collarbone. She'd told him on their first date that she'd been in a car accident and gotten cut up. She had other scars along her body-- some were burn marks, others more jagged and torn, like an animal bite. She hid them all fairly well, as most of them were healed and barely noticeable, but she never slept completely naked.

Claire didn't see him stare as she turned her back to him and reached for her discarded pair of jeans that still lay on the floor after being tossed the night before. She pulled them on and stood in one easy movement before crossing the room to pick up her brown leather biker's jacket from a chair. "Sorry Mike. I've got to meet a friend for coffee this morning," she said as she slipped an arm through the jacket. Mike frowned as he gracelessly attempted to disentangle himself from her bed covers.

"What, no sugar for me this morning?" Claire had only been seeing Mike for a week and she was already finding him to be a bit whiny. She pretended to ignore his pout.

"Sorry babe, gotta run." She snatched up her purse before leaning over the bed to give him a quick peck. "Feel free to raid the fridge if you want," she offered, pointedly ignoring his obvious displeasure at taking second place in her plans for the day. "There's some leftover take-out from Thursday, but nothing really fresh. See you tonight?"

Mike didn't answer as he pulled the covers up over his head again. Claire rolled her eyes but didn't press the issue. She didn't want to be late for Leon. She grabbed her keys from the dining room table and paused in front of the hallway mirror, tugging at her ponytail and reaching into her purse for some lip balm. No need to look like a total frump, even if it was just Leon. A few swipes of mascara later and she was out the door and down the steps, greeting the brisk air of another Seattle morning.

A/N: For the hard-core RE fan's reference, this story is very slightly AU in the fact that Leon and Claire did not split up after the events in RE2. RE3's EX Files indicate that Leon and Claire had an argument where Claire runs off alone, promising to return, and leaves Sherry with Leon. Leon later makes some kind of deal with the U.S. government (verified by RE4), but Sherry is taken away. That's the "official" version, anyway.

In this story, they did not split... yet. I don't want to spoil my own story, but they were not together by the time of Code: Veronica, although there is the tiniest reference to Leon when Claire sends him the e-mail from prison. By RE4, they seem to have gone their separate ways completely.

I don't really consider this to be out of canon, even though there were basically zero romantic interactions between Claire and Leon in any of the games. I still think that there could be a chance for them within the canon, even considering Ada (a manipulator working on an impressionable young cop) and Steve (who Claire barely seemed to acknowledge, although I loved him!). I want to write more about these ex-loves, but in a sequel.

Anyway, next chapter... Same Place
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes