Jill stifled a yawn, reaching for her extra-large Styrofoam cup of truck stop coffee in the van's console. It was early morning, nothing but sky, clouds, and empty space stretching out around the moving vehicle.
"Why don't you catch a few winks?" Barry asked from the driver's seat, steering with one hand as he balanced his own cup of coffee on his leg.
"I'm alright," she said, straightening out the map that was spread over her legs.
They had been driving almost non-stop for two days, heading east towards S.T.A.R.S. headquarters. It would have been an easy enough route, but they'd opted for back roads and secondary highways, hoping to throw off anyone who might want to stop them from reaching their destination.
Barry glanced up at the rear-view mirror, taking in the sleeping crowd in the back seats. Rebecca and Sherry were in the back, each leaning up against the side of the van closest to them. Sherry had Claire's vest balled up into a pillow under her head. Rebecca had wrapped her arms tightly around her middle, her head bobbing slightly with the cracks in the pavement. In the next row, Leon was occupying the centre seat, his long legs stretched out in front of him between the front two. Claire was passed out with her head on his uninjured shoulder, his cheek pressed to her forehead.
"So, what do you think?" Barry asked, indicating the back seat with a jerk of his head. Jill turned slightly to see what he meant, the map crinkling over her knees.
"Awe, isn't that adorable," she said, perhaps a little sarcastically, taking another sip of her over-sweetened coffee.
"You don't think Chris is going to have kittens?"
"Oh, Chris is definitely going to shit a brick. Like he has any right to."
They had a habit of talking like this, like there wasn't a very great possibility that Chris Redfield was lying dead in a ditch somewhere, or worse. It was a bad habit: an easy one to slip into and a painful one to break out of.
"That's just how it is with little sisters, Jill."
"Right. I'm sure Claire really appreciates being an excuse for her brother's testosterone fuelled Hulk episodes."
Barry sighed, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. "It's going to be a massacre."
"Woah," Jill said, holding up a hand, "you are giving him way too much credit."
"Chris Redfield, hopped up on fraternal instinct and frustration, vs Rookie Leon – c'mon Jilly, we both know how this ends."
"Hey, Leon's tough – he wouldn't be alive if he weren't. I think he'd put up more of a fight than you think."
"Oh yea?" Barry raised an eyebrow, "how sure of that are you? Ten bucks sure?"
"Desserts every night for two week sure. This is the end of the world Barry, money's no good here."
"That's a steep wager – what are your terms?"
"Hmmm," Jill thought for a moment, tapping a finger against her lip. "I bet you two weeks' dessert that Leon doesn't go down without seriously rearranging at least one of Chris' facial features."
"You sure you want to make that bet?"
"I'm sure. You sure you've got that much faith in your boy, old man?"
"Oh, I'm sure. You don't know him like I know him."
"I know him well enough. Chris may be built like a tank, but he moves like one too. He's so slow," she said, dragging out the word.
"All it takes is one good hit and your rookie is down for the count."
"Leon's wiry. I mean look at the reach on that kid. Chris won't even know what hit him."
"He's also hurt," Barry said, his tone indicating that he was stating the obvious.
"If you don't think Chris is going to be hurting after I get through with him…" Jill said. She rubbed her hands together. "I can taste those cookies already Barry, and they are delicious. I hate to think what they'll do to my figure, but if that's the price I have to pay to put you and Mr. Redfield in your place well…"
"Don't get me wrong, Leon's a good kid, but he's-"
"Not asleep," came a grumble from the back seat. Jill turned around to find Leon looking back at her with one eye cracked open and the same eyebrow raised. In the front seat Barry was trying not to laugh aloud.
"Good, then he knows what's at stake," she said, tossing him a muffin out of the paper bag next to her feet. "So eat up champ, I need you in top form – I'll split the winnings 50-50 with you."
Leon caught the muffin jostling Claire in the process. She groaned, shifting to sit sideways on the bench.
"What's going on?" she asked, only half awake.
"Barry and Jill are planning to pit me against your brother in a duel to the death."
"Mmmm, that's nice," she said, shifting to get comfortable again.
Leon sighed, peeling the top off of his muffin. "I knew I was better off with the Bomb."