Disclaimer:I don't own anything related to RE save for my RE1-3 CD's.
Ever wondered where Claire was in all of the RE4 madness? I did. I desperately wanted to know but I had no means of contact with the developers of the series so I just made up a story of my own.
This was supposed to be a one-shot, but the story became too long for a one-shot, so I thought I'll just break it up to two or three chapters.
The flashbacks are in italics. There are quite many references to the past. Actually, three-fourths of the first chapter is about Leon talking about the past.
Anyway, why am I keeping you with my senseless babble? Read on…
p.s. and leave a review after.
This fic is bound to go through another rewriting. Check back in a few weeks if you want to read the revised (and hopefully improved) version.
"Let's just leave it at that," I told the president's daughter as we escaped.
Yes, she was a part of me I can't let go. I had come to learn that there were certain things from my past that I can never let go no matter how hard I try. Ada Wong was one of them. She was there to witness the loss of my innocence, one of the things I never thought would mean so much. She was there to help me escape the horror that was Raccoon City. She helped me then, she helped me again. I nearly died twice but she was there to save me just in time.
I can never thank her enough, for because of her, I can go back. I can come back to the one waiting for me, the same person I had waited for.
"Everybody's been talking about you and the success of your mission," Agent Roberts gave me a pat on my shoulder. The old man was one of my few close colleagues.
"I got some help," I shrugged.
"No need to be humble, Kennedy. I've seen it coming miles away. You're bound to be the hero you are now."
I nodded meekly.
"Boys' night out?" Roberts asked.
I shook my head as I placed my gun in its holster. "I want to gohome."
"Have some rest, man. Enjoy Europe as a tourist. I'm sure there will be a hefty paycheck waiting to be spent," he tried to convince me.
I knew I would enjoy a normal uneventful tour through Europe wherein there would be no chainsaw-wielding maniac after me, but I knew I would enjoy seeing her more. I needed to tell her everything I neglected to say. I had to finish what I started.
I looked at the older agent with a hint of dark weariness and determination in my eyes.
"Claire is waiting."
I slammed the phone's receiver back. I couldn't contact Claire's cellphone and had just found out from her co-worker that she had already quit her work. I noticed that people were staring at me with curious eyes. I would have glared at them if I wasn't so tired.
I picked up my bag from the floor and sat down next to Agent Roberts. "Fight?" he asked, glancing at me from the top of the newspaper he was reading.
"I would have been smiling," I shook my head.
"Your flight is in an hour, you'll see her, don't worry," he tried to help rid me of my worries.
I felt fear creep up from inside. I had fought zombies, giant bio-weapons and had gone against cults, terrorists and whatever madness technology can bring but I had never felt a fear quite like this before. If a tyrant came to pay me a visit, I can always blast the damned thing's brains out with a grenade launcher. But this one…I was weaponless in this war, threatened to be eaten whole with no means to fight. I was against time and numerous other forces impossible to battle with.
I was against time and her decisions.
The events six years ago were still vivid in my memory. It was a far too traumatic memory to easily forget. I accidentally met up with Claire in the zombie-infested Raccoon City. We helped each other to survive. I teamed up with Ada, she with Sherry. After we had escaped, I sent her off to look for her brother. I was angry then, for a reason I could not understand even until now. I thought she was being insensitive and unfair. She wanted to leave when I thought it was priority for us to stick together and help each other recover. I had lost someone already. I couldn't bear to lose anyone again. She was not to be stopped, however. Upon feeling that she was not to be deterred, I told her to leave us alone.
And that was exactly what she did.
I became her support working from the sidelines. She used to call to tell me of her whereabouts and expected me to supply her as much information as I can. I gladly helped. I was as determined to put an end to Umbrella as she was.
I heard about her escape from Rockfort Island. I learned about how much pain and horror she had gone through once more. I learned about Steve, a young man she cannot save. Hearing about him made me think about Ada and the pain I felt when I lost her. I wished Claire wouldn't have to experience that pain. But I realized that it was only wishful thinking for my part.
I received a call from her a few days after their escape. She thanked me for leading her brother to her and asked me to join their Anti-Umbrella task force. For me, the only option was to say yes.
We worked together for almost two years, doing raids and coordinating with bigger groups, asking for help. The team spent almost every day together. There was no rest for people like us. Claire and I never really spent much time together prior to being teammates but she always treated me as if I were one of her best and long-time friends. Not that I had any complaints.
The best and worst thing about joining the team was seeing Claire everyday. It was not that I had long harbored feelings for her, for I certainly did not. After our Raccoon City adventure, I had been mourning for Ada for the longest time. She had a hold in me I cannot easily let go. I had a weakness for strong, independent and mysterious women. Ada was just that.
Spending almost everyday with the team made me see the Claire Redfield without the gun and the zombies. I was able to see the many sides of Claire. I saw that she was the fearless sister who looked for her brother halfway around the world, the teenager who blasted zombie skulls with me and so much more.
I saw that she was strong, independent and could be just asmysterious. She was very endearing that people just naturally gravitated towards her. I was one of them.
Came with these realizations about her were the weird unsorted feelings. They were not flat-out strong emotions. They were feelings cultivated by everyday encounters, by slowly unraveling the mystery that was Claire Redfield.
It was, however, very hard to fit those emotions in the world we were living in. We were so busy trying to destroy Umbrella. She was too eager to fight off the enemies to notice. I once thought that when Umbrella was over, we could start talking about the many things that had been left unsaid.
The chance never came. Two days after taking down Umbrella, Chris and Claire went away without so much of a goodbye.
Four years had passed since I last saw Claire Redfield. In those four years, drastic changes had occurred. Gone now was the rookie cop Leon who tried with a lot of uncertainty, but succeeded anyway, in surviving the terrors of Raccoon City. Gone was the policeman capable enough to help but weak enough to stay by the sidelines. As a member of the Anti-Umbrella task force and now as an agent, I had stared into the eyes of death countless times and walked away alive. I had risked limb and leg in doing missions for the country. I had seen too much death, horror, and corruption to be the same Leon I was six years ago.
The set-up was fine with me. I had no complaints. Life was dull...but tolerable. I was neither happy nor sad. My laughter had become mechanical and only my passion to defend set me apart from the dead.
Two months ago, I received a call that changed the course my life was taking. I received a call from my former captain, Chris Redfield. It was the first time that I had any form of communication with any of my teammates since the team had disbanded. It was an agreement not to contact each other unless extremely necessary, that way we can lessen suspicions and not give away the locations of the other members most sought-after by terrorists and other Umbrella-affiliated organizations, namely Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.
A smile crept up my face upon realizing that with that call, a link to my past had been renewed.
"My sister is there in DC. I would greatly appreciate it if you can keep an eye on her safety. Give her a hand if you can," I heard Chris say. It was, perhaps, the only thing I really heard during the span of our conversation since my emotions were too busy doing cartwheels for me to hear what he said next.
I saw Claire again through the lenses of my binoculars. She was staying two buildings away from the address Chris gave me. It was a challenge for me to talk to her. I couldn't just show up at her door and tell her I found her through her brother because Chris had strictly instructed me never to tell her he called. I resorted, as shameful as it may be, to the good old art of stalking. Not only was she hard to follow when traffic came (because of her bike) but also, she almost never visited the same place twice. I was able to successfully bump into her a week after.
She was very surprised to see me, I could tell. She walked up to me with a big grin on her face and eyes sparkling with excitement. "Leon?" she called out.
I pretended to be surprised as well. "Claire?"
It reminded me of our first meeting in Raccoon City when we had been separated by the car crash and had to call on to each other. This time, however, there were no creepy undead things crawling about and our voices were a lot more subdued.
"Leon!" she crashed into me with a hug which I found myself returning with eagerness. "I missed you."
"I missed you too, Claire."
She pulled away. "H-How are you? I—I never thought I'd see you again, I don't know what to say."
I stared. I couldn't help it. I was dumbfounded. There was an overwhelming emotion of seeing someone familiar again that kept me gawking. There were some things I immediately noticed. Her eyes…it used to scream rage and determination, but now only flickers of passion were left. If my eyes were made dull by the horrors I had faced, maybe it was the same for Claire.
"Leon, are you alright?" she nudged me a bit.
She ran a hand through her hair in an attempt to smooth away the stray ones. "I started letting it down. It's a bit creased from the helmet and—"
"It looks better," I said. An evident touch of femininity, I thought. What else have changed?
"Thanks," she smiled. "I heard you're working for the president now, you big shot!" she punched me lightly in the arm.
"Just got lucky," I said. There was an awkward moment of silence. "Umm…How are you? How's Chris?"
She looked around at the mention of her brother's name. The Redfields had these overprotective tendencies towards each other. "Chris? Err…Hey, my place is near. Let's grab some beer then we could talk," she cheerfully said. I'm glad she didn't lose her appetite for beer.
We went drinking that night. She told me about Chris and Jill, and about what she had been doing for the past four years. I shared most of what I had monotonously been doing myself all those times. She mentioned that she was going to try to get a job while she was in the city. She said she was tired of her nomadic life but couldn't do anything about it. She also told me about a few unconfirmed reports Chris got about the possibility of Umbrella affiliates chasing the two Redfields. She always thought it was just a rumor but admitted that one can never be too careful.
She was a lot different as compared to before, I could tell. Even the aura she was exuding was different. There used to be a strong, raging tiger residing inside her. I remembered her to be a bit brash, always hard-headed, free-spirited and competitive. Somehow, she seemed a lot tamer now. This got me to wonder what could have possibly tamed her…or who.
She shied away upon the insinuation of having had a lover for the past few years. I didn't push it. I doubted I could even stand to hear from her tales about another man. I have had enough of that back then with Steve.
"Stay the night, Leon. Tomorrow's not a work day," she said as she took another swig from the bottle. She was on the opposite side of the coffee table. We were sitting on the carpeted floor in her living room.
"Would it be alright?" I asked so that I wouldn't look too eager.
"Of course, the couch is all yours."
At past midnight, Claire retired to her bedroom while I slept on the couch. Had it occurred four years ago right after taking down Umbrella, I would have taken my chance with her. I would have told her of the feelings that she evoked every time she smiled. I would have gotten either very lucky…or luckless. One thing would have been for sure, though, I won't be sleeping on the couch. I would have either been in her room doing something a lot more productive with my time, or walking through the streets looking for a pub to drink my sorrows away. Now, however, we were both grown-ups. We were now aware more than ever of the scars that Umbrella had left. Everything had gone more complicated. It was not the time to revive old feelings. I could not just simply pick up where I left off.
Whenever I had the time, I made sure to spend it with her. For the next few weeks, I always made sure to drop by her apartment to help her out. It was like old times again. We went out for movies, drinking sessions, we ordered Chinese take-outs, we watched football games on TV. We were like teammates again. Just like old times.
Little by little, the unsorted feelings came back. I think it never died anyway. It seemed impossible not to develop the feelings again. No one can spend everyday with her without falling for her charms.
I dreaded the day I'd be sent on a mission.
And to my luck, I was. And not just any mission, I was sent to rescue the president's daughter.
I drove uneasily the night I had been told of the new mission. I was to leave early the next day. I wondered how long the mission would take. Three days? A week? Even if it would take just a day, it was more than I was willing to give. A few days ago, Claire had given a few hints that she was leaving the city. Only God knew where she would be going this time.
She had called early that morning and told me to come by her place for dinner. She said she would be cooking. I even joked that I would order some take-outs as reserves in case she managed to burn down the kitchen. I can remember her cooking being notorious in the team. I had been polite and ate whenever she asked me to…but one can get enough of the taste of cardboard.
I knocked on the door and was greeted by Claire's mischievous smile. "The kitchen's still intact?" I asked worriedly.
She hit me in the arm and let me in. We had a wonderful dinner. Four years had drastically changed her cooking skills. She said Chris got tired of her feeding him take-outs and forced her to attend a couple of cooking seminars.
We talked in the veranda while drinking beer. Actually, she was drinking, I was merely holding on to a bottle. I couldn't show up the next day for work reeking of liquor. I didn't know why we were looking out the veranda in the first place for the view was nothing more than a secluded alleyway with a trash can in the corner and a few stretches of her neighbor's washed clothes.
We were joking and laughing when I interjected about my mission. "I was sent on a mission," I said flat out. My timing skills always fail when I'm with her anyway. I doubted I could have said it at a better time.
She immediately stopped laughing.
"I was sent to rescue the president's daughter from a European cult," I continued.
She didn't seem interested in the details. "That's, um, good. Go kick ass, I heard you're really good. Well, you're from my team, you have to be," she tried to laugh it out.
I didn't smile. It was nothing to smile about. "I'm leaving tomorrow. I'd be back as soon as I can," I said as I looked at her. She avoided my gaze.
There was a long stretch of silence. "How long?" she broke the silence.
"A day, a week. I'm not sure."
Silence again. The tension hung in the air. Suddenly, I found it difficult to breathe. I leaned onto the railing for support.
"Actually…" she began to speak again. "I…I invited you because I've got something to tell you."
I let her continue.
"I'm actually planning on…" she hesitated. "I'm leaving."
I could have sworn my heart stopped beating, so violently that its last beat almost shattered my breastbone, too long that I could have died at that moment. "When?" I managed to ask, doing my best to keep my voice level. This was exactly what I had feared. I took a drink from the bottle in my hand. I needed it. Badly.
"A couple of days from now, next week…soon," she sounded undecided.
"I was actually thinking that we--" she stopped. She moved away.
"You thought…?" I pleaded her to continue.
She looked away. "Nothing," she said.
My eyes were on her. I was looking at her so intently I could see every fiber of her hair dance with the soft whispers of the wind.
"I was just thinking we could spend the few days I'm staying, um, together," she let out a little laugh. "Not that we're not already doing that."
"Why do you have to leave?"
Of course I knew why. There were a hundred and one reasons why she should. Those reasons had been staring me in the face but somehow I was expecting her to tell me that there was no need for it at all.
Why do you have to leave? Am I not reason enough to stay?
She looked at me. "Why shouldn't I?"
Because I love you…
I searched for the words while she looked at me with questioning eyes. Would it be unfair of me to tell her I love her a few hours before I go on a suicide mission? Would it be unfair of me to ask her to stay for me when there was no assurance I could even go back? I knew how much it crushed her when Steve told her he loved her and ended up dying in her arms. Do I have the right to do that to her?
I looked down. There was silence, and it threatened to squeeze the last ounce of energy off me. When I looked at her again, tears were already streaming down her cheeks.
She let out a suppressed whimper and before I knew it, she had begun to sob.
What did you want me to say?
I took her in my arms as she cried, burying her head on my chest. I didn't know what to tell her. I didn't want to see her cry but I also didn't know what to do to make her stop. She cried uncontrollably when I held her.
I wanted to tell her of the things that had remained unsaid. I wanted to tell her of the feelings and of the longing I felt for her four years ago and of the feelings that she continuously invoked in me. I wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked tonight, with her shirt complimenting her eyes and her lustrous locks shaping her face. I wanted to tell her how much she meant to me and how much it pained me not to have told her all of these.
But I couldn't. I was leaving and so was she.
I didn't know why she cried. Maybe she had been holding off the tears for so long and was able to let it out only now. Maybe she didn't want to leave but circumstances wanted her to. Maybe she was expecting me to give her a reason to stay…or maybe, a reason to leave.
I could guess all my life.
A couple of hours later, we were laughing again while sitting on the living room floor. We were never really fans of the couch.
"Can you even imagine Chris doing that?" Claire laughed.
I always saw Chris as the man. He was a good leader and a prime soldier. I always knew him as the person who could always take on almost anything without merely a scratch. He had a fist made of steel and patience as thin as straw. I, personally, had been a victim of the deadly duo of his fist and patience. I had been struck down to the ground by his punch. My flesh burned where he hit me. Jill was there to stop him while Claire immediately ran to my aid. That was when I learned never to mess with him. He approached me to apologize a few minutes later when he had already calmed down. We remained friends.
It was hard to fit into my idea of Chris the side of him that Claire had just shared.
"God…I miss the team," I sighed as I leaned on the couch.
"I miss the team too…" Claire said in almost a whisper. She paused then she turned to look at me, "Don't you ever wonder why it never happened?"
There was a change in her voice that made me realize what she was talking about.
"I wonder all the time," I told her.
"I always felt like we were more than friends, but we never really did anything about it," she looked away.
She felt it too? She always knew? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"You always acted like you didn't notice," I said.
She smiled and nodded, "But I always did. I didn't know how to act when I'm alone with you, so I always tried to shrug it off and act like there was nothing going on."
Her eyes were on me and I stared back. I opened my mouth to speak but my throat felt too dry to let out any word. Claire looked beautiful, her eyes made use of the dim light to sparkle, stun and render me stupid enough not to be able to formulate any coherent sentence. I didn't notice that I was moving closer to her, lessening the gap between our bodies.
I leaned closer. "Tell me, did you…feel…the same way?"
She didn't move away from my advances. "I did."
Our noses touched. "And now?" I whispered.
She closed in the gap between our lips. It was confirmed, her lips were softer in reality than in my dreams. I kissed her slowly and gently. My hand, the one that I found to be resting on her nape without my knowing managed to travel up to cup behind her ear as I kissed her more passionately.
Finally, the kiss that was four years overdue.
I pulled away to get some air. When I leaned forward again to resume, she moved away.
"What do you want, Leon?"
"I want you," I said.
She was still looking at me intently, searching my eyes for the answer she wanted. "And?"
"I want us."
Whatever it was she was looking for, it seemed like she didn't find it for when I cupped her face again, she stood up and moved away from my grasp. "When you return, then maybe we could talk about what kind of friends we are."
"Wait for my return, then…"
She gave me a little smile. "Maybe."
"Is there anything else I can give you, sir?"
I looked up to see the flight attendant beaming at me with a smile. She extended her palm towards me and gave me a tablet for my headache. "Is there anything else you want, sir?" she asked again, handing me a glass of water.
I shook my head, "no, thank you. I'm fine."
I took the medicine and drank the water. I stared at the glass in my hand and before I knew it, recollection had already invaded.
"Here, Leon," Claire handed me a glass of water. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and took the glass from her with a thank you. I gave her the glass back after I had downed the contents and proceeded on my work again.
"You're doing it all wrong, Leon," Claire said, looking at me incredulously. "That's why it takes you years cleaning just one window!"
I looked at her with a quirked eyebrow. "And I suppose you're incredibly good at this, huh?"
Claire motioned for me to step down the ladder and took the wiper. "Watch and learn," she said with a smirk.
I was watching alright…but not at her self-professed incredibly dumbfounding glass panel-cleaning technique. I found something much better to look at. I always wondered why Claire always liked to parade around everywhere in her shorts. At first I thought it was just the tomboyish sporty side of her, but recently I've been wondering if there was more to it. Could it be that she enjoyed tormenting me so much? I already found it hard to breathe whenever she walked over to me with barely covered legs, but this…this was too much. She can't actually expect me to last very long in this game of hers now that her shirt was hiking up with her movements, revealing skin that was usually covered and her slender legs directly at my sight. The curve of her hips was so inviting that I had to remind myself that touching whatever I please wasn't how life works. And I knew I had to stop staring at her like a pervert if I didn't want an unsightly black eye by the end of the day. It was really a hard choice to make…
"Watcha doing down there? Daydreaming again?" she asked.
"No, just thinking," I said. Of the possibilities? Oh yes, I was thinking.
"Wow Leon, we're into a lot of thinking these days," she laughed as she tried to reach the other side of the window. It made her shirt hike up higher and I couldn't tear my eyes off the wonderful sight it made. "Leon?" she was looking at me now as if I had just dropped down and fainted.
"Nothing," she shrugged and continued cleaning.
"You never struck me as the housewife type," I told her as I surveyed the living room. We had spent the entire morning cleaning up my messy house.
"I'm not, it's just that when you're the only girl in the house…and you have a sibling who's always playing three neighborhoods away, you learn to do house chores the fast and effective way. Here, it's finished," she said as she stepped down the mini-ladder and handed me the wiper.
"Thanks," I said.
She took the empty glass of water from the side table, brushing against me in the process. I had to remind myself to breathe. "Oh and Leon," she turned to me. "Try not to be too obvious next time. I might not be so tolerant," she said with a knowing smile on her face. With that she walked away.
And I was left to think whether she had been planning this all along.
A nudge woke me from my reminiscing. I growled angrily at the invader.
"Sorry, it's just that the plane's landing," a little kid who reminded me of Sherry quickly apologized. She pointed to the fastenings on her chair. "Seat belt."
I went straight from the airport to her place. I hailed a taxi and told the driver to step on it. I tried to contact her cellphone numerous times while in the cab but her phone couldn't be reached. I was running out of time…and very soon, I felt that I would be running out of options.
The elevator trip was very much excruciating. I kept thinking, what if she used the stairs to get the hell out of here? What if I missed her by a minute? What will I do if she wasn't there? All my fears built up. But then again, what will I do if she was there? How will I even start? Should I greet her with a kiss? Will she allow me to?
I started knocking on her door, gently at first. No one answered. Then the knocking got violent. "Claire? Claire!"
"What the hell do you think you're doing waking me up from my siesta?" I would have given everything for Claire to say that. Unfortunately, it wasn't Claire. It was one of her neighbors, coming out of his apartment to check just what the fuck I was trying to do.
"Have you seen Claire?" I asked.
"Do I look like the information counter to you?"
"Do I look like I'm in the mood for a joke?" I asked in a threatening voice as I stood up straight, intimidating him.
"She's gone," he said flatly.
It dawned on me, then, like a ton of cement dropped to my chest. My fears were realized. I almost choked on the pressure I felt in my chest
Once again, Claire left me.
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Warning for the next chapter: The Leon-Claire-Carlos love triangle is very much unpopular and I doubt anybody else likes it. But the thing is, I do…so expect some references to it in the next chapter. The Claire-Carlos thing won't be cheesy, or graphic, they won't even share a single romantic scene in this fic. But for you guys who find the thought of Carlos and Claire sharing something in the past nothing less than freaky, I advise you not to read the next chapter. If you, however, enjoyed what you've read so far and won't puke at the thought of an implied love triangle among the characters mentioned, then please do read the next chapter.