Disclaimer: I don't own it, so don't sue.
Author's Note: This is late, I know, I know… I'm really sorry that I was only able to finish it now. It was really hard to write an ending. There were so many scenes that didn't make it to the uploaded version. What you'll read here are the survivors of my crumple-and-throw episodes. Whew! Finally…the last chapter.
To the ones who were waiting for this chapter, thank my sister for bugging me all the time to finish the story.
And if you don't like the idea of Claire and Carlos being together in the past, then don't bother reading. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Read on and leave a review afterwards! Thanks!
I found myself staring through a hole in one of the undead's skull. It fell to the ground in one inanimate heap. Then I shot another one of its kind. Then another one. What the fuck was wrong with these zombies? Why do they have to come in crowds?
There were too many of them blocking my way. My Desert Eagle was spending ammo like a machine gun.
Click. Click. I reached to my vest for more ammo but found none. I took a couple of steps away from the creatures advancing towards me. I reached for the pocket in my leg and was rewarded with just warm space. I shook my head disapprovingly. Not good.
I took my knife out. Maybe if I'm lucky I could slash these things with only a few bites on me.
I was soon wrestling with one of four remaining zombies, trying to drag him away from the other three so as to avoid being swarmed to death by the foul creatures. I was having the worst time trying to fight off the zombie with my knife that did little to no damage. He was probably a bodybuilder in his past life. The other zombies were fast approaching when I heard three gunshots and saw, as the zombies fell to the floor, Claire Redfield aiming a magnum. She shot my current attacker dead. Or rather, deader than usual.
"Thanks," I said as I wiped the sweat and slime off my face.
"What's with being trigger-happy?" she asked as she walked towards me, careful of not stepping on the fallen zombies.
"I wasn't, they were blocking my way," I replied.
"You're the one being trigger happy, wasting precious magnum bullets. Do you realize how expensive a round is?" I accused her casually.
"Would you rather be dead?"
"Look, this is the last round I got and my bow gun is lodged in a zombie's throat," she admitted. "We better find a way to get out of here and meet the team in the location without the use of guns. The exit is two rooms from here…if you trust my map reading ability, then it's through that door."
"Sounds like an adventure."
"Something we could do with our eyes closed," she smiled.
We started walking through the hall of the Umbrella facility and found the door to be locked. We were trying all the keycards we had gathered, hoping to be able to unlock it. Actually, I was trying the keycards while she stood next to me, telling me of the creatures she encountered on her way here. She didn't sound alarmed at all. She was even talking casually. It was her way of releasing stress and fear. The energy in her voice was enough to calm me.
Leon," she said. I turned to her as I continued trying out the
other key cards. "Next time you're in a situation like that, just
call me and I'll save ya."
ClaireClaireClaireClaireClaireClaire. Where are you? Why aren't you here to help me?
I felt too weak to push hard against the box. I was starting to feel dizzy. All that training to just die in a box. Pitiful. Really.
I was about ready to pass out when light flowed in from above, threatening to drown me. I shielded my eyes from the blinding light that invaded. I was hauled out of the box by the collar. I immediately searched for my gun but it was nowhere on me. The man who freed me opened the other box and hauled Carlos out as well. Carlos collapsed beside me, doing the same thing I did, look for his weapon.
We heard a mocking laugh escape from the man. Carlos and I were too weak to stand up just yet. We doubted we could put up a fight in an instant. The light was blinding us both. We could hardly see his face. "Enjoyed the ride?" he asked tauntingly.
I was too busy trying to inhale as much oxygen to even look at him. Then he laughed again. "Outside," he said sternly before he went out the room, leaving only echoes of his footsteps. The door slammed soundly.
It took me quite a while to regain complete consciousness. Carlos was already examining the room when I stood up. It was filled with cargo boxes. It smelled of gunpowder. There was no other exit save for the one door.
"If we resist, they could blow us to smithereens," Carlos said, shaking his head.
I agreed. I stared at the door for quite some time, wondering what lay beyond. Death? Doubtful. They kept us alive until now, so maybe they're preparing some form of torture before we meet Chris.
"The boss sure knows his business," Carlos murmured.
"Ready?" Carlos asked, his left hand was on the knob. I nodded. He turned the knob slowly and I prepared for the worse…
The cool night air whipped through, sending my hair in complete disarray. The place was dark under the starless night sky. There were no swarms of armed guards like we expected. We could see a car in a distance, with a man half-sitting on the hood. He opened his flashlight and aimed it straight to my face. I involuntarily shielded my eyes with my right hand. His figure was strangely familiar.
"You son of a bitch!" I heard Carlos roar as he ran forward. Before it could register, the man dropped the flashlight and I saw Carlos gripping him by his collar. Laughter was heard and I saw the man hold on to his stomach as he laughed hard. He did not seem fazed at all by the fact that Carlos had a tight grip on him and was looking as dangerous as a Hunter.
I stepped forward. There was something wrong here. Wait…is that…Is that Chris Redfield?
"It was…joke…should seen…faces," Chris managed to say in between fits of laughter.
I had my temper crossed as well. That was definitely not a funny joke. My eyes narrowed as I felt anger take over the place where worry had been. "Fucking bastard," I muttered as I started forward.
Chris raised both his palms in an attempt to make peace.
"Hold him Carlos," I said as I got my fist ready.
"Hey, will you beat me up in front of my son?" Chris asked, tilting his head to the direction of the car. I looked behind him and saw a little Chris Redfield staring at us with wide innocent eyes through the windshield. Carlos immediately loosened his grip.
"The fuck…you have a son?" was the only thing Carlos was able to say.
"Well, obviously," Chris said. "Release me and I'll take you to my place."
"Just what the fuck were you thinking?" I asked as Carlos took his hands off Claire's brother. "We could have died out there."
Chris started laughing yet again, ignoring the deadly glares we were sending him. "You expect to see me that easy?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if one day you open a box to see a dead visitor."
"Don't worry, you were the only ones subjected to it. You guys must have really pissed Barry off, he asked me to give it to you hard."
I looked at Carlos who gave me a huh-what-did-I-do look. I returned my gaze to Chris. There was a deafening silence; both Carlos and I had our eyes narrowed at the former STARS captain. This might be Chris' type of joke but it was probably the most life-threatening experience I ever had. I had never felt so close to death before. It was just not fair to know that you're dying and that you can't do anything about it.
"Fine, fine…I know it was dangerous to do that and I really scared the shit out of you but heck, you'd be laughing over this as well when the time comes," Chris said.
"Is that your form of apology?" Carlos asked.
"Hey, I was just carrying out Barry's orders…"
"Wait, just who the hell is the boss?" I asked, remembering what our contact told us. I wondered just how much of what was said was true. I should hand it to them however for impeccable acting and realistic set-up.
Chris cocked his head to the side, asking us to follow him. "Come on, I'll introduce you." Chris went to the side of the car and opened the door. He picked up the little man and introduced us as he promised. "Carlos, Leon, this is the boss." The little tyke latched his arms around his father's head and looked away.
"No offense, but that's a fuckin' ugly name," Carlos said.
"Hey! You'll offend him. And his name is Christopher Redfield, Jr.," Chris said proudly as he tried to make the kid look at us to no avail. It seems like Carlos and I weren't the only ones who had our share of fear.
"How old is he?" Carlos asked.
"Two. This is daddy's little bastard right here."
"Yeah, long story. Anyway, my wife's gonna kill me if we don't get home soon, let's move," Chris said as he placed the child back inside the car.
"Where's my gun?" I asked. It was a prized possession. My gun was probably the sole thing that allowed me to sleep soundly at night. The definition of sound sleep, however, was debatable.
"In the trunk."
"Would you mind if we get it now?" Carlos asked.
Chris agreed and opened the trunk. Carlos took his weapons while I took mine. The moment Chris was able to close the trunk, Carlos' punch connected with his cheek. I expected a world war to launch right at that moment. The gods were kind, however. Chris merely touched the sore spot gingerly, shook his head and said, "I guess I deserved that."
Carlos seemed to have reconciled with the built-up emotions he had acquired two minutes ago when he learned that everything was just a set-up. I, meanwhile, was debating whether I should do the same as Carlos. Before I could even decide, Chris turned to me and warned, "forget it Kennedy, you want me on your side."
I decided I needed all the help I can get and so my hands stayed where they were.
There was another long pause. The three of us were looking at each other as if debating whether to hug each other or what. We sure haven't seen each other in a long time. I wasn't even able to recognize Chris in an instant.
"What are you doing, ladies? Get inside the car!."
We were on the road in no time. Chris was driving like a maniac. He sure wanted to get home as fast as he can.
"Who's the missus?" Carlos' voice was laced with curiosity.
"Just someone I bumped into three years ago," Chris answered, refusing to give out any useful information.
"I didn't know you were the marrying type."
"Up to the day I proposed, trust me, I wasn't the marrying type. Leon, didn't Claire tell you about this?"
"She did," I nodded.
"And you didn't tell me?" Carlos turned to me.
"No contact, remember?" I threw his answer back at him, smirking.
He shook his head and turned to Chris again. "You didn't invite me to your wedding. Geez, what happened to being friends?"
"The least I wanted was to have Umbrella people at my wedding. You know I couldn't invite any one of you. We were starting over."
"Yeah, yeah… Wait, does Jill know about this?"
Chris was a bit silent for a moment. "She does," he said softly.
"How does she feel about this? She was really in love with you before you guys disappeared," Carlos' voice was hinted with concern. Carlos was probably Jill's best friend in the group. Of course that's after Chris got promoted from being Jill's best friend to Jill's lover.
Chris sighed. "I guess she's happy for me. She's okay with it, I guess."
Carlos let out a sigh of regret for the former lovers. It just wasn't fair that they would separate because of Umbrella. Umbrella had taken so much from us already.
"Damn Umbrella," Carlos muttered, shaking his head.
I couldn't agree more.
Chris asked us to be quiet the moment we got to the front door. He told us to keep our mouths shut and he will do all the talking. His wife, as he said, had quite the temper. I heard humming coming from inside, as well as the all-too-familiar sound of a custom gun being assembled. Carlos peeked through the window and saw a brown-haired woman in the living room.
He turned to me. "Is that…? No, it can't be…"
The door flew open even before Chris could land a knock on the wooden door. "Who told you that you can bring my son to your stupid games!" An angry, dangerously armed woman welcomed her husband. She had a gun dangling from her left hand and her right hand was positioned on the contour of her hip.
Chris squirmed a bit. Carlos was too shocked to say anything. I, on the other hand, already knew who was lucky enough (or unfortunate enough) to become the mother of Christopher Redfield's children. I smiled at the woman and greeted her.
"What the—Leon? Carlos?" she asked. Then in a matter of seconds, recognition replaced confusion. She welcomed us both with a hug. She ushered us into her home and fed us like kings. Chris, on the other hand, was still in trouble. Jill wasn't at all happy about him taking their son to some faraway woods to open up two boxes with human bodies inside. His leaving his four-month pregnant wife to do so added to the weight of his sins.
Jill insisted we stay the night. Chris had received an email from his sister regarding her whereabouts but refused to share any information with me until "all scores were settled". Carlos and I were to share the guest room. Chris failed to sense the tension between us two. I know I had no sufficient reason to be angry at the merc but since when had emotions ever been logical? I lay in my bed feigning sleep. Carlos snuck out of the room to talk to someone by the doorway. They spoke in cold whispers. I wondered what Chris and Carlos were talking about. Perhaps they were talking about me. Why else would they be whispering?
What was Chris telling Carlos? Of how much he disapproves of me? Of how Claire really wanted to get rid of me? Does he favor Carlos over me?
I was so engrossed with my thoughts that I didn't readily notice that Carlos had gone to bed. I waited for several more minutes before I stealthily stood up and went out the room. I surveyed the surroundings and tried to figure out where Claire's room was. I was able to find it on my second try. I had expected Claire's room to be simple. That was exactly what the room was. It consisted of only a bed, a side table and a dresser. The only indication that it was Claire's room was the cork board filled with photographs on the wall.
What I wasn't expecting, however, was the big brother to be waiting in the room for me. "About damn time," he said, much to my surprise. I closed the door gently behind me.
"Chris," I said flatly.
He stood up. "I won't make this long and hell, I won't be subtle. I never really liked you and even before, I hated the way you would spend almost every hour of your day with my sister in the guise of being a best friend when all those times I knew you had a hidden motive. You've caused her so much pain without even knowing it. Give me a good reason why I should lead you to her to do even more damage?" His voice was cutting and his eyes were fierce and protective.
What pain? I thought. The last time I checked, it was my heart that had been crushed when she left several years ago.
"I never had a hidden motive," I said.
"Who are you kidding, Kennedy? Everyone can see why you were so insistent on being by her side. Everyone knows why you were always acting the good guy. If I didn't know better, I'd think it's love," he said, trying to threaten me with his piercing gaze.
"What if it really is love?"
"No, it's not." He was stern. "If it was love, you would have told her about it and then she wouldn't have been as miserable and frustrated as she had been. You and Claire would have a relationship that would have ended normally. That way, she could move on and forget about you. There would have been closure and you wouldn't have added to her miseries."
Added to her miseries? Did I really make her miserable?
"I…I was looking for the right time," I said in a low voice.
Chris scoffed tauntingly. "Right time? When's the right time? Every time we go on a raid, we could die. There is an extremely big possibility that either she or you would no longer walk out of there alive. For someone who could die every week, you've got lots of time to waste."
I had nothing else to defend me. I could never win in his game. I kept silent.
"What, Leon? I'm waiting for a good answer."
I leveled his gaze. "I don't know why you despise me but I really love your sister. I don't care whether you think it's foolish and unreal. I don't care if you help me or not. I don't care whether it will take me a day, a year or a lifetime, I'd find her no matter what," my voice was a bit louder.
"And if you find her, then what? Can you give her the normal life she wants and deserves?"
"Tell me," he stepped forward. "Do you even know her enough to know what she needs?"
"No. The answer is no, but I'm more than willing to learn. She left me, what am I supposed to do?" There was desperation in my voice.
"Don't you dare blame her for any of these. You have no idea what she'd been through!"
Why are you blaming me for everything? Wasn't it you who dragged her into this first?
"What do you want me to do, Chris? I'm trying to grab my slim chance but you're taking it away from me."
"You don't deserve her, Leon. Face it. Forget this, just walk away. Let her be," Chris said. "She's already starting over, she doesn't need the complications and the pain you want to give her."
I stood straight. I won't let him tell me such things. I won't let myself believe it nor be discouraged. "Who are you to tell me I don't deserve the woman I love? I did everything I could for her."
"You speak as if you've never done anything wrong. What have you done for her, anyway? Were you really there when she needed you? Can you honestly tell me you've done everything you could for her? Can you?"
The wall was a plain uneventful white. I had been running into nothing but walls for the last two minutes. I turned around to see the tear-streaked face of Claire Redfield. I was reminded of the anger and disbelief I was feeling a second ago.
"Dammit Claire! That's just plain illogical and unreasonable. We can't continue living in your selfish world. Just face it and move on," my words came out biting and accusing.
"I'm selfish! Fuck you. I've been trying my best here and that's how you see me? I thought you were my—"
I grabbed her and shook her a bit. My grip was tight on her arms. "You're no longer a child Claire! It's about time you start thinking like an adult. I'm so tired of your chronic melodramatic bullshit!"
She shoved me away. "I hate you," she cried out. "So much."
My eyes narrowed and the next words tumbled out of my mouth without my control. "I don't care," my voice was flat.
Her expression quickly changed. The anger in her eyes mellowed and was soon replaced by pain and disappointment. "Of course you don't…" she bit her lip to keep herself from sobbing violently.
I couldn't answer. Every time I wanted to say yes, I see Claire's expression and hear her voice as she said those words that day.
Chris sneered. "That's what I thought." He walked past me and made his way to the door. He was about to slam the door when I spoke.
"She loves me."
He stopped on his track.
"Claire loves me. She wouldn't be happy with anyone else. No one else can make her happy," I said.
"You arrogant bastard…"
"You know it. If I don't find her she can never be happy the way she'll be happy with me."
The rain came down. Hard. Threatening to drown just with the thickness of its droplets. The vertical downpour pounded my skull, threatening to make cracks. I decided to make a run for it.
Europe's weather wasn't normally this fucked up. This city, however, can pretty well be another planet. It rains like crazy in this place all the time. It was sunny when we went out that afternoon. Several hours and a couple of failed attempts to get reliable Umbrella information later, the rain had descended.
The people wore raincoats. They were prepared for it. Claire and I, however, either being too used to America's weather or just being too stupid or heedless for our own good, did not bring umbrellas nor jackets with us. Needless to say, we were running from one covered place to the next.
Not that I minded. This certain part of the city's electricity had gone out and she was holding on to my hand so that we wouldn't lose each other in the black of the night. It took us a third of an hour to realize that we were lost.
Claire wasn't an expert in navigating with maps. My Italian was as elementary as it could get. I only managed to irritate a drunk and be shooed off by a storekeeper when I asked for directions.
I can remember turning to her with a frustrated look on my face. She was soaking wet and she was not at all happy about it. She hugged her shivering self and repeatedly ran her hands through her arms. It was of little use to conserve heat. She kept her back to me. It didn't take me long to notice that her shirt had clung to her body like second skin.
I mentally kicked myself for not having had worn a jacket. Of course the thought was not for me. It was approximately one and a half years after our Raccoon City fiasco and it was the time of my overpowering obsession—no, I prefer to call it unrequited and pitifully unmentioned feelings for Claire.
"What time is it?" she asked, focusing the light of her flashlight over my watch.
"10:40," I answered.
She sighed. I knew that Chris would be stark mad when we return—that is if we can return. It was pitch black and we were trapped in an empty shed. We refused to brave the rain without any clue as to which direction we should be running to.
I kept mumbling to myself.
"What are you doing?" she asked, probably because she was annoyed by my mumblings.
"Of what I'll tell Chris later, He'd kill me I'm sure."
She chuckled and continued her staring ahead.
I was a few steps behind her so she couldn't see me staring at her back. I desperately wanted to reach forward and touch her damp hair. It took all my willpower not to embrace her and share to her slender frame what body heat I still had in me.
"I'm sorry we got lost," she broke the silence.
I shrugged. "It's not your fault."
"Do you think Chris is already looking for us?"
"He better find us soon coz I'm freezing."
That was my cue. Or at least I'd like to think she was sending across a message wanting me to ease the sufferings brought about by the fucked up weather. I reached out, held her arms. She almost jumped at the contact. I pressed my body to hers.
She moved away in surprise.
I took my hands off as if I was burned.
"I'm sorry. I thought you could use some heat. Um, what I meant to say was…well, yeah, heat. I don't have a jacket so I…I just thought…ugh." I stopped my incoherent speech with a sigh.
She let out a laugh. She fell silent afterwards as if contemplating something. I was busy scolding myself partly for having had done that and scaring her but mostly because for not having the balls to have gone through with it. I was in the middle of my litany of curses in my head when she turned to me with an embrace. She hooked her arms around my waist and rested her head on my chest.
"Could use a little warmth."
I instinctively wrapped my arms around her—more than glad to be of help. My breathing was as irregular as it could get. So was hers.
"Claire…" I managed to hitch out my throat. What better time to tell her? This is it.
"I've got something to tell you."
Claire turned to the direction where the voice came from. The intense light coming from the flashlight blinded us. It took a few seconds for me to recognize who it was. It took her less time and she immediately stepped away from me upon recognizing the intruder.
A lot of unexpected things had happened. There was Raccoon, there was that call from the CIA. There was also, of course, Chris waiting for me to tell me his hatred last night. And now, there's this head-splitting headache when I woke up.
It was one in the afternoon when I woke up. My head felt like nails had been pounded in. No more late-night daydreaming and reminiscing for me.
I woke up in Claire's room, lying on her bed. I couldn't help but think that it was the same bed where she used to sleep during the nights when I didn't know for certain that it was her I was missing. I half-stumbled my way towards the first floor where I saw Carlos playing with Chris' son. Jill was busy making her house immaculate. She handed me an envelope from Chris, who was nowhere to be found. She said he went to do some business. I didn't pry. Jill did not seem like she wanted to share much information anyway.
I opened the envelope in the veranda. A revolution was still going on inside my head but it had gone bearable when I saw the exact location of Claire written on paper. There was nothing else in the envelope. I wasn't really expecting Chris to write me a letter. God knows why he finally decided to give me Claire's location. He didn't seem like he would be persuaded during our last conversation. When it comes down to it, Chris was the one who was most against us. He tolerated me for the longest time back then because I was his teammate and friend but I have always known that he wouldn't exactly be doing gleeful cartwheels if ever his sister and I got together. It might just be me, being so hateful to his eyes, or it might be the protective brother inside Chris. I couldn't tell.
The only thing stopping me from getting a jet to her place was my not-so-stellar condition. And what will I tell her? Winging it didn't seem like the greatest of ideas.
Why didn't she just wait for me in the first place? She said she feels the same…wait, no…she never said that. She said that she once felt the same. I just assumed that she still …sigh.
I can spend a lifetime just thinking about what we really are. If my feelings for her started out uncertain, hers was even more so. We both tried to play the game safely and now I'm suffering the consequences. You can't play safe with love. You've got to risk a lot of things and not just continuously tiptoe on the boundary of friendship and romantic love. Maybe that was it. We were both afraid to lose the friendship we had. It was a great friendship we shared and we couldn't just risk it by becoming more.
"Beer?" Carlos offered me one.
"Don't you think it's a bit early?"
He shrugged. I took the bottle from him. He sat next to me. He was, however, wise enough to keep an optimum distance between us. I decided that since he was the one who helped me find Chris, and therefore also Claire, I should at least keep it civil with him. I don't have a good reason to be angry with him but since I learned of his thing with Claire, my blood simmers at the sight of him. Given enough time, I know this unduly feeling of hatred would fade.
"Got what you need?" He asked.
"Did Chris give you a hard time?"
"Not really. Why?"
It's amazing how we could stand the awkwardness of the conversation.
"Leon, I've got something to tell you," Carlos started.
His words gave me an unwelcome feeling of awkwardness at the pit of my stomach.
"Claire and I…"
"I told you it doesn't matter." I cut him off.
"But I want you to know. You need to understand."
"Understand what? That I lost? That you got her first?"
Carlos looked at me with a disappointed gaze. "It was never a contest, senor. It's not about who gets Claire first," he said in a low voice.
I wanted to kick him for being so righteous when it comes to Claire. I hated him for saying the right things, for making me doubt that I deserve Claire.
"Then what is it about?"
"It's about getting her at all. You need to understand, what we had, it was never like what you two always had," Carlos looked away. "She didn't love me. I don't think I loved her either."
"Then what was it? You used each other?"
"I don't like to think of it that way. Look at the situation she was in. She was like a fugitive then. She was alone with her brother in a foreign place. She didn't have a friend save for Chris. She needed someone she can trust, she hungered for a companion.
"I came as a person from her past, someone she already trusted. My intentions at the start was just to be the same friend I was back then, but circumstances pushed us to something else. I needed a friend half as much as she needed a reconnection to the past she hastily left. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. And if there's one thing I know, it's that you should never miss out on a chance to be with a woman like her."
That hit harder and cut deeper than any physical blow. He was right. I never cared to think of the conditions they faced during that time. I just so easily let myself feel betrayed. Carlos was right, it was foolish to miss out on your chance. His words, though enlightening, didn't ease out much of the feelings of pain and anger within me.
"I'm your friend too, Carlos. Didn't you even think of how –" I didn't continue. It was selfish of me to only think of myself. "You're one of my best friends and it just hurts so much that it had to be you."
"I never…" he started but decided not to continue. "Claire and I…we had our moments. Even though I never saw in her eyes what it is that I see whenever she looks at you. Even though I often wondered whether it was you she imagines whenever we kiss. Even though at times I feel like I move in your shadow…it doesn't matter. I'm thankful for what we had and even if you will never forgive me, I don't regret a thing. I helped her, she helped me. She made my life a lot better in those few months we were together. She's a wonderful person, Leon, if you find her, never let her go."
"I won't," I muttered. "Not ever."
"Then good. That's how it's supposed to be. Leon and Claire, perfect for each other. Just like old times."
"Just like always…"
"When the blue light in your watch beeps, you've got approximately ten minutes to secure the passage to the pick-up point. Jill, we're counting on you not to be toast.," Chris was reviewing the team regarding the designations.
We were minutes away from another raid. Barry was driving, while the rest of the team was making sure everything we needed were secured and strapped. I turned to Claire who was staring blankly ahead. Her knuckles were turning white because of her tight grip on her gun.
"She will be alright," I told her. Sherry was alone in the safe house. We needed all our men to be in this raid. When we come back, if ever we do, I would have to bring her to her aunt in South America. She couldn't stay with us. Sherry deserves a normal life.
Claire nodded but my words didn't ease her worries one bit. Claire had always treated Sherry as if she were her daughter.
"Are you afraid?" I asked.
She nodded. "Very much."
I touched her hand and her grip on her weapon lightened. She looked at me, her blue eyes still tainted with worry, fear and helplessness. This was Claire, she had faced all forms of evil thinkable, but even through everything, her heart remained unhardened.
Thoughts came racing through my mind. The answers were starting to appear. The uncertain feelings became all clear now.
like that, looking into her almost teary eyes, I fell in love with
The worst part was waiting. It had always been. I sat quietly on the couch, her couch. She might kill me for intruding her place but I'd take my chance.
I didn't bother open the lights. Fire burned at the flick of my thumb. Then with a flick of my wrist, it was gone. I repeated it over and over again, admiring the warm shine it had on the metal of the lighter. How Claire's lighter got to my bag four years ago, I'd never know. All that mattered was it was there and it was a reminder Claire left me of her existence before she disappeared with her brother.
She would come home soon. I cannot believe I was just minutes away from seeing her face again, from touching her skin, from feeling her warmth.
Excitement powered my pulse. I never knew I could still smile like this.
The rustling at her door alerted me. She's home. I stood up and quietly made my way to her small kitchen. If I'm lucky, it would take her a minute to realize someone else was in the apartment with her. I was situated between the refrigerator and the oven, breathing as silently as if I wasn't even there.
She got in and took her---no, my jacket off. I could only see her silhouette but still, seeing her took my breath away. I felt like I have waited for this for a lifetime. The sudden change in her movements signaled that she knew she wasn't alone.
Before I could even release a breath, she had turned around and a gun was already pointed my direction. I took a step forward.
"Don't move!" she said sternly.
I took another step. She released the gun's safety.
"Who are you?"
I smiled. I flicked my thumb and soon the flame from the lighter gave light, revealing my identity.
She slowly put the gun down when she recognized me. I stood in my place, admiring her from a distance.
Her lips moved to whisper my name and for me, it sounded as loud as a gunshot on a peaceful uneventful day.
One second she was there standing several paces in front of me and the next she had the distance between us covered. Before I could utter a word, her lips were on mine, wiping away every word I planned to say. I kissed back with as much passion. My hands instinctively wrapped around her.
I squeezed her, assuring myself that this was real. Then, my right hand traveled to the back of my neck where she was holding me. I took the gun from her hand all the while ravaging her soft lips. I tossed the gun as softly as I can towards the couch.
She pulled back. "I'm sorry," she said in a remorseful voice. I felt alarm shoot up my spine at her words.
Sorry? Why? Are you going to leave again?
I was about to protest when she kissed me again, this time, pushing me until I hit the wall. Then I realized what she meant. She didn't need to apologize for leaving, the moment she uttered my name, she was forgiven.
She pulled away again and stared at me. She didn't do anything but look at me, studying me intently. I wasn't sure whether she was looking for something or she just wanted to take a good look.
"What is it?" I asked.
She shook her head before I seized her lips for another kiss. And this kiss went on and on, longer than I had expected. My hands started roaming. So did hers. Our tongues dueled. I kissed her almost fervently, letting out the desires that I had repressed for so long. Her skin was soft and smooth under my touch. I don't think I could keep my hands off her if I tried. I could feel her hands underneath my shirt. It sent shivers. And these shivers, I decided, were very much welcome.
I was like a kid opening a long-awaited present. No, it wasn't a robot this time or the remote-control car I begged my father to give me. This was much grander. This was a gift I would never even deserve in ten lifetimes. This was Claire Redfield, the woman I cry, laugh and breathe for.
Soon, I found myself shirtless while she, on the other hand, was not exactly topless but getting there. My hands roamed her body as our lips interlocked. She closed her eyes and when they opened, she was the one whose back was pressed on the wall.
"Bedroom," she panted for air.
Soon, we were walking. Well, not really walking. We were, let's say, stumbling our way to her bedroom. It would have been a lot easier if I just lifted her up, but Claire didn't want to be carried. We both fought for control.
She grimaced in pain when her hip hit the doorknob of her bedroom door. We were careless, haphazardly throwing each other to the nearest wall or furniture on our way to her room. I apologized by ravaging her neck with my kisses. She got back at me by exchanging our positions (without my full consciousness) so that I was the one leaning on the door. She suddenly opened it and I fell on my back. I pulled her with me though and soon we were making out on the floor.
Years of unresolved sexual tension, finally on its way to being resolved.
When I woke up the next morning, I was on her bed and she was sleeping serenely beside me. I pulled her closer to me, enjoying her warmth. She was facing away so I just planted soft kisses on her back. She moved a bit and grunted something about now being too early. She fell back asleep in no time.
I smiled as I rested my head against the contour of her nape. She smelled lovely. I recalled the events of last night and couldn't help but grin. Everything seemed to have happened so fast. One moment she had a gun aimed at me, the next we were almost naked on the bedroom floor.
If I think about it, last night was based mostly on primal desires. It made me wonder if it was just a casual uneasing of the overwhelming sexual tension we had in years. What made it any different from the other similar deeds I had done? I was even gentler with other women. What made it any different from what Claire and Carlos had shared? Am I sure that she also had the feelings I had or was it just another night for her? Was it fueled by lust or love? Or was it something else?
Then I recalled how Claire held on to me afterwards, of how she was like a child seeking comfort. She didn't even bother pull the covers to herself then, she just held on to me tightly, smiled and let her head rest on my shoulder. She pulled extremely close, afraid to let go. There was something about the smile she gave me then. It was thankful, happy, bitter and loving all at the same time. It said a thousand things and the real meaning behind it was unfathomable.
"Stay with me," I whispered to her. She stirred a bit. "Did you hear me, Claire? Stay with me. You'd never have to run away again."
I was rewarded with her even breathing.
"I'll make everything safe. We can have a home together. You don't have to leave. Not ever. You know how I feel, right? I won't let you walk away without me ever again. Be my Claire … and I'll give you normalcy."
She turned to me then, almost teary-eyed but beaming with a smile. "I thought you'd never ask." She reached a hand to touch my face. "Thank you, Leon. Thank you for finding me."
"Every mile was worth it," Every minute was worth the wait.
I kissed her before she settled into my embrace again and closed her eyes. I settled my head above hers, relishing the steady rhythm of her breathing. The overwhelming feeling I had in my chest was now more bearable than ever. I don't know what the future will bring. I do not have answers to all my questions. I cannot assure her that everything will be alright. There was no certainty that we could ever reach normalcy.
Everything could change in a snap, but for now, I am here with the one I love and I'm going to enjoy every second of it.
"I love you…" I whispered to the sleeping woman in my arms. Remembering her smile last night made me realize that I didn't need her to tell me to know that I have my place in her heart as well.
Thank you for reading. I'm going to add a bonus chapter soon, so watch out for that.
If you're going to flame the fic, make it a bit constructive and don't give me reasons saying it sucks just because you don't like certain pairings.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Please leave a constructive review.