"Resident Evil" and all associated characters and likenesses are property of CAPCOM. Used here without permission.

"What Could Have Been"
A sort-of Leon/Claire 'ship fic
by Mayumi-H, A.K.A. BonusParts

It was New Year's Eve, three months since the events of what authorities were now calling the Raccoon City incident. There were parties going on all over the city (the world, even), but as for Leon Scott Kennedy, late of the Raccoon City Police Department, he was stretched out on his sofa in his shorts and an old AC/DC t-shirt, nursing a beer, alone.

His solitary state of being didn't bother him overmuch, though. Leon liked being alone. It gave him time and room and quiet to think, to get his head around the business of getting his life back in order.

Less than six months ago, he had been excited to embark on a life in public service as a police officer in Raccoon City. He had had a good job, good prospects, even a good little apartment on the south side of town where he had imagined spending lazy afternoons and beautiful moonlit nights. Maybe he'd find a girl to enjoy the nights with; maybe not. He'd been in no hurry for romance. There was work to be done, streets to be cleaned up, bad guys to catch.

Oh, if only he'd known.

Over the last three months, he had often wondered how it was possible that the events of one single night could so colossally fuck up his entire existence. His first day on the job, he had stumbled into a living nightmare, thanks to a viral outbreak whose origins they were still trying to figure out in the Agency. Leon had come away relatively unscathed (a busted shoulder and a busted faith in humanity), as well as two other survivors of which he was aware.

One of those was twelve-year-old Sherry Birkin. He had deposited Sherry in California with her aunt, who was a partner in a law firm. Sherry was lucky - the worst that she would have to fear now was bad dreams.

The other survivor was Claire Redfield. Her brother Chris had been a serviceman in Raccoon City, too - one of the elite Special Tactics And Rescue Squad members. Chris had apparently gone missing just prior to Leon's arrival in Raccoon, and little sister Claire had come looking for him. She had ended up in that nightmare, too, one of the few connections to humanity that Leon had found in the city.

She had become more than that, though.

In the weeks that followed Raccoon, Claire had been something of a kindred spirit. She'd seen the same terrible things that he had (well, almost), and she carried the horrors with her just like he did, in silence (well, almost).

There had been one night, shortly after they'd dropped off Sherry in California, when things had been different.

They'd found some no-frills motel outside of Oklahoma City, where the desk clerk had grinned at them lasciviously and Leon had felt like punching him in the face. But he had simply taken the key, left the forty-five dollars for the night, and climbed up the steps to the room, with Claire falling in behind.

She had fallen asleep almost before her head had hit the pillow. But it hadn't been long before she had begun to cry, almost violently, in her sleep.

Leon hadn't wanted to wake her, but - even after everything he'd seen, everything he'd had to do, everything that had been done to him - it had frightened him to hear her whimpering and see her thrashing against some dreamy nightmare. So he had jumped from the chair to the bed and put his arms around her, awkwardly at first but then with a kind of tender care that he hadn't thought he would ever feel for a woman again.

She had woken with a gasp, the name "Chris...?" just barely fluttering from her lips. But then she'd blinked her grey eyes, and she'd seemed to focus on him, and said his name, instead:


He hadn't had time to say anything in reply, because she'd leaned in close to him just then, her lips seeking his.

He'd pushed her away.

Because she was just a girl. Because the wounds left by Ada Wong had still been so fresh and new. Because he'd thought it would be wrong to take advantage of her vulnerability. There had been any number of reasons why. The only thing that mattered to him now, though, was that he hadn't given in to those deeper urges.

With his hands still on her shoulders, Claire had backed away from him. She hadn't seemed surprised at his reaction. She had even smiled. "When I think of what could have been," she had said, softly.

That time, Leon had smiled back at her. "Yeah. I know."

They had never spoken of that night again, but Leon thought of it often enough to make up for that, mostly when he was alone.

Like now.

He thought that, given time, he could have grown to care about Claire Redfield, maybe even... Well, he wasn't quite ready to face that, yet. But now...

Now, he hated her. At least, a part of him did.

They had almost made it back to DC - Leon had wanted to report the events of Raccoon City as they knew them to the highest authority he could think of, at the Pentagon - when Claire had just skipped out on him. He'd known that she was anxious to find her brother, but he'd thought certain that he had convinced her that the best way to find Chris and get the justice ball rolling against the fiends who'd caused the Raccoon City incident were to do things by the book. He hadn't just been trained as a peacekeeper, he believed in that code, too. He lived by that code. Vigilantism wasn't in his nature, no matter how easy it might be to fall into some Batman fantasy of taking down the bad guys on his own.

Claire hadn't seen it that way, though. She'd argued with him every step of the way to Washington. She had said there was no point working in the system. Her brother had worked in the system and now he was missing, or worse.

He could still hear her arguments: Didn't he think that Umbrella had the government - or at least parts of it - in its lucrative back pocket? (He didn't.) Did he really think that writing reports to some antiquated chain of command would help their cause, and find her brother? (He did.)

It had been the day - the day - before they were to meet with a Raccoon City contact in the FBI that Claire had run off on her own. And what had she done to ease his mind? She'd left him a fucking note on the bathroom door ("I have to find my brother. I have to do this on my own. I'm sorry.") and taken the rental car for herself.

It still made him angry to think of the way that she had left.

Now, he sipped at his beer as he watched the New Year's festivities on the television, paying only cursory attention to the concerts and parades of people. The camera stopped on a young couple in the crowd, a man and woman who cheered amidst the confetti and streamers, and then kissed each other.

Life could be good, if you let it. Apparently.

Across the room on the kitchen table, his computer beeped once, sharply, for his attention.

Leon looked away from the television to the computer. It had become a habit for him to leave the machine on and connected all day; he had become an information junkie over the past several weeks, keeping tabs via newsfeeds and emails from intelligence contacts he'd made across the globe. Likely, this was another message coming in.

He got up from his sofa and crossed over to the computer to check his email. He hoped the new message was from Thompson; it had been too long since he'd heard news from Thompson, and he was actually starting to get a little worried about the guy.

When he looked at the monitor, though, he dropped his beer onto the floor when he saw from whom the message had come: Claire. (She didn't use her real name, of course. When they had first left Raccoon, they had decided to use stupid but simple nicknames to keep in touch, mostly with Sherry, in ways that couldn't be traced too easily. For Claire, Sherry had chosen the nickname "Eclair19," and for Leon she had chosen "Lasky," derived from his initials.)

His fingers hovered over the keyboard for a good five minutes, almost afraid to open the message from her.

"Can't be," he said aloud to himself.

He opened the message, and his eyes scanned its single line over and over again for a good minute:

Click here to download audio attachment

Audio? Leon thought. What the hell?

As he downloaded the file, he figured that she probably wouldn't tell him where she was. That was smart of her, but frustrating for him. Despite how angry he was at her (still) for leaving the way that she did, he also worried about her. She was out there, alone, God only knew where facing God only knew what.

He had to fight down the sudden, stomach-churning memory of a skin-stripped horror lashing out with its impossibly long tongue.

He'd gotten used to sublimating.

The computer beeped again, indicating that it had finished downloading the file. It took him another minute to actually open it up, and he realized his hands were shaking a little.

Upon hitting the PLAY button, Claire's voice came to him, almost as clear as if she were sitting beside him, or at least talking to him over the phone:

I guess you probably hate me right now. I don't really blame you for that. I'd probably hate me, too. I mean, I hate my brother for disappearing like he did, without telling me.

Still, I'm sorry.

You know, the worst part of being on my own is just that. I never thought I could feel so lonely. It's not so bad during the day, when I'm moving, but when I put my head down and try to sleep, I just want to cry.

God, that sounds so pathetic when I hear myself say it.

There was a pause, long enough that Leon had to check if the file was still rolling. Then Claire's voice started up again:

How's our girl? I really miss her. I really miss you, too. Sometimes I think I should have stayed with you, done it your way. But so many people have been hurt by this thing we're after, and I didn't want any more blood on my hands. You know?

Yeah, I guess you do.

Leon swallowed hard, memories of Ada bubbling to the surface again. He pushed them back, to a place inside of him that he didn't like to examine overmuch.

Claire continued, unabated:

You know, when I think about what could have been...

She made a noise, something like sad laughter, and he suddenly wished that she was here with him, close enough to hush away her anxieties, the same ones he felt deep within his own heart.

Have you ever thought about that? What could have been? If we were just like everybody else and didn't know, just living our lives in...what do they call it? Ignorant bliss?

Leon found himself smiling at her words. Of course he'd thought of that. He'd thought about it at night, to help him sleep; he'd even dreamt of it.

Do you think we would have met? Would I have noticed you? Would you have noticed me? Would you have smiled at me on the street? Would I have met you in a bar one night, playing pool and drinking some yuppie beer?

She chuckled again, sounding more relaxed now. He found it infectious, laughing along with her as his imagination painted a picture of the two of them skirting the boundaries of post-adolescent attraction.

And then she stopped, and asked the very same question that he wanted to ask her, for every day since she stole the keys to a rental car and run off on her own.

But do you know what I really think about? I think about what could have been if I'd kissed you that night. Do you remember that night?

Of course he remembered. He'd thought about what could have been that night. He'd dreamt about what could have been that night. In more desperate moments, he'd gotten himself off fantasizing about what could have been that night.

You made me forget about everything. Just for a second, you made me forget. And it was like I was like everybody else. Just having a bad dream, and you there to bring me out of it. It still gets me a little excited to think about it, you know?

What would have happened if I'd kissed you that night? Maybe you would have laid back down with me, beside me on the bed. Maybe you would have put your hand under my shirt, and I would have kissed you again. Or maybe you would have slid your hand between my legs and fingered me 'til I was wet.

Leon sat back in his chair, silently amazed as these now-hushed words tumbled from Claire's throat. This hadn't been at all what he'd been expecting when he'd opened her missive.

Almost without thinking about it, he dropped one hand into his lap and started to coax along his burgeoning excitement.

I would have started moaning your name. Have you ever had a girl moan your name, over and over, like a prayer to keep doing what you're doing? I would have turned my head away, so that you couldn't see me vulnerable like any other girl. But you would have turned my face back to yours, your fingers moving over my lips. And I would have sucked one of them into my mouth, rolling my tongue over your skin. And every time I moaned around your finger on one hand, you'd push the other hand deeper inside me, like I was some needy, sweaty Chinese finger trap.

"Jesus," Leon muttered. He was nearly at full-mast already, his eyes shut tight against everything else in the world except for her voice.

Would you have moved on top of me? Would you have liked to feel me under you? Would you have held me down with your kisses, and pulled off my clothes one by one, until I was completely naked against you? And would you have pushed my legs apart and lay down between them, so I could feel you getting hard against me?

Her voice was hitching, as if she were breathing hard...as if - wherever she'd been - she had been acting out this could-have-been fantasy of hers.

He was rubbing fiercely now, biting his bottom lip to keep quiet, even though there was no one else about; he wanted to hear every word she said.

I would have begged you to take me. I would have begged you to stop teasing me and just fuck me all night long. What would you have done, then? Would you have let me go on begging for you? Or would you have given in to me? Would you have hushed my screams with your tongue? Fed my need with your dick? Filled all of the emptiness inside me with your love?

Her voice had become tremulous again, like she couldn't take a breath quickly enough. He knew the sensation well, as he felt his own pulse jump in his head and in his heart and in the blood-hard member in his hand. He came suddenly, lust and loss and arousal and aggression all fading as quickly as the spurted spunk ran down his hand.

"Shit," Leon muttered, looking around for something to clean up with. Finding nothing suitable close by, he carefully pulled off his shirt and wiped himself off with that.

Claire's voice continued, in that same quivering tone...and of a shameful, heartbreaking sudden, he realized that she wasn't aroused at all.

She was crying.

If we'd kissed that night, we would have fucked that night, and everything would be different now. We'd be just like everybody else. We'd go to school and work during the day, and when we came home we'd eat supper in front of the TV, and then we'd go to bed and have sex until it was too late to do anything but sleep. Just like everybody else in the world.

That's what I think about when I think about what could have been.

I want to be like everybody else. I want to live and love and play and fuck like everybody else. I wish I didn't know what was out there, all the things waiting in the dark.

There was another long pause, and Leon once again thought that that was the end of her speech. But there was just a bit more.

I want to find my brother, but I don't want to do it alone anymore. I can't. I want you to help me. I need your help.

I'll be in touch soon. I promise.

Don't close the door on me. Please.

And with that, the file stopped.

Leon sat there for a long time, just staring at the player in the main window. Then he tossed his shirt to the side and started the process of tracking from where her message had come.

He made a tiny, forgiving smile. "Baby," he said softly, "all you had to do was ask."

It was going to be a long night.

Author's Notes:
I wrote this a while ago and posted it on my LiveJournal...but after watching the "Resident Evil:Degeneration" movie a few nights ago, my brain kept coming back to this scene. I always thought that Leon and Claire should be together, but they've always had a hard time of it in my stories. Still, I like the way that the sexual tension arises here.

My posting this is shameless self-promotion for my old Resident Evil stories. You can read more of the old stuff at my website, listed in my Author's Profile on this site.