Claire Redfield didn't dream much anymore. After the hand full of nightmares following Raccoon City and Rockfort Island, she tried everything in order to get a good night's rest. Chewing valerian root, meditation and exercise. Even seeing doctors, hypnotherapists or giving her brother one last phone call before bed. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually she had settled into the habit of trying to focus on as much positive thinking as she could. Claire would often pour herself into work or fixate on whatever good moment was happening that day. It was the least that she could do in order to get through the night. Half the time she was thankful that her sleep only contained an uninterrupted darkness.
That Claire didn't dream much wasn't to say that she didn't dream at all. On the rare occasions where she did have dreams, they were always about the same subjects. She dreamed about the times she and Chris had spent with their parents before they died. She dreamed about going to Raccoon City and spending time with Chris and his S.T.A.R.S. team on a few occasions. The outings around the city with her brother. Shopping with Jill on several occasions. Going target shooting with Barry and Forest. And even trading stories with Brad, Joseph or some of the members of Bravo team.
All were good memories that had overshadowed the bad dreams she'd had from time to time. The death and horror of it all would have been too much for anyone. And Claire was no exception. If it wasn't for her survival instinct or the training she'd received from Chris, then she would have never made it out of the city alive. Of course, she had Leon to thank for that as well. But no one had come away from that city alive and not scarred because of it.
There had been moments in the months which followed where she had been torn from her sleep by images of the undead and the genetic monsters she had encountered. Feeling that she was being pursued by them once again.
Inhuman monsters hungry for her blood. Creatures that would not stop or that she hadn't been fast enough to escape. Possibly the worst were the nightmares of being stalked by the creature she had dubbed Mr. X. The impossibly tall bald man in the trench coat that had hunted Claire and Sherry had been a reoccurring topic in her nightmares.
"It's his facial features. His eyes", Claire had told herself in retrospect.
It had been inhumanly stoic. Completely devoid of any feeling.
The fact that the creature had menaced her and was capable of coming straight through walls had been horrible enough. But the lack of any emotion while it did these things was an aspect that had chilled her to her very core. Up till that point in her life, Claire had never known of anything that could have been that cold, merciless, and unrelenting.
But the horror that invaded her dreams was nothing like the sadness.
Claire had dreams where she would be asleep in her own home, safe in her own bed. Then, like a flash she would see one of them. A white, blinding light would fill the room and then standing there, smiling like old friends, would be either Sherry or Steve. It didn't really matter. They practically took turns at it. All she could remember is feeling such joy at them being there with her. Like missing pieces of herself come to make her whole again. They would appear and then by the time Claire could get out of her bed and out the door of the room, they'd be gone. Replaced by an infinite hallway of doors. Lost and unattainable. Claire wouldn't know what to do in the dreams but run and search till her body ached.
Then she'd wake up, tears in her eyes. Remnants or ghosts from the past still in her mind like smoke dissipating in the air. Gone, but never really there to begin with.
But this morning, it wasn't the dreams that woke Claire up. It was music.
She groaned as her eyes tore themselves open and greeted the day. Blinding sunlight shot into the room, making her squint. Dull guitar riffs echoed through her brain, prying her from her slumber. Either Claire had exceptional hearing or Leon had his music turned up too loud. Regardless, all she wanted to do was put her head back down and drift off to sleep again.
She was used to Leon's choice of music. However, having to listen to grunge this early in the morning was more than she could take at the moment. Claire would have preferred the jazz music he was used to listening to, but it was his apartment and as a result, his choice of music.
She sighed and rolled over in bed, tugging at her pillow and wrapping herself into a fetal position. It was late fall and the room was ice cold, save for her own body heat that protected her like a cocoon. She didn't want to budge. The previous day had left a bad taste in her mouth. The least Claire wanted to do was have a repeat. There was nothing about the morning that could really force Claire out of bed. That was, until she smelled bacon and possibly pepper.
"Great, another world famous Leon S. Kennedy breakfast" she thought as she pulled on a 'Queen' hooded sweat shirt and dug around in her bag for some socks for her feet.
The numerous times that Claire had spent with Leon had presented many things. But the most important might have been the fact that the man had an aptitude and flair for the kitchen. It was apparent that Leon didn't get company much. But when the opportunity presented itself, he was a most generous host. Much more so than her own brother.
While Chris always meant well, he couldn't cook for shit. Leon ranked right up there with several well taught chefs. At least in Claire's opinion.
She opened the door to the guest bedroom and walked out into the living room. Claire hadn't eaten in over half a day and was so fixated on the smell of the cooking meal that she almost forgot why she was in such a bad mood. That was until she turned the corner into the living room and stopped in her tracks.
"Arrggh", she groaned inwardly. "I'm in Hell"
It was like a really twisted version of Three's Company. Leon was at the stove, casually poking at what appeared to be scrambled eggs in a pan while humming along to an old 'Alice in Chains' song. A few feet away sat Ada, her head in her hand as she leaned forward, smiling in Leon's direction. The two of them had been up for some time as they were both dressed and ready for the day. Leon wore nothing more than a pair of jeans and a black, form fitting t-shirt that showed off his pecs and upper body. It was almost as if it were too small on him. Ada wore a pair of black, business style slacks and a red button down shirt which accentuated her bosom.
There was a kind of energy in the air that Claire was picking up on. Good vibes. It had been evident that they had been having a conversation. The way Leon would look over his shoulder at Ada and the manner in which she leaned forward in content anticipation. But there was more to it. No one was that pleasant at nine o three in the morning unless…
"Unless they had gotten laid the previous evening" Claire thought, hiding her distaste at the situation.
Leon looked up from the stove and over to where she stood, Ada quickly following his gaze. He gave her a smile while Ada merely gave a look of contempt.
"You're just in time, I was wondering when you'd roll out of bed", Leon said, taking the pan of eggs off the stove and scraping them onto a plate with a spatula. "And here I was starting to think it would be only two for breakfast"
Claire shot Ada a cautious look.
"Yep, he definitely got laid last night" she thought to herself.
"You'll have to forgive the accommodations, but it looks like we're sitting at the island for our meal today" he said, clicking off the burners on the stove.
Claire breathed inward and a rich smell of bacon, French toast and spices filled her nose. Her stomach growled in anticipation and her mouth watered as she slowly made her way to the kitchen and sat down next to Ada. Claire mentally prepped herself, unwilling to let the circumstances affect her meal.
They all sat in silence while they ate, Claire eyeing Ada while she chewed. Few words were exchanged other than the occasional 'Could you pass the syrup?' or 'Would you like a second helping?'
Eventually they finished and Leon collected the dishes, depositing them in the sink.
"So, what's on the agenda today?" Claire asked as Ada got up and pushed her seat in.
Leon gathered his keys and reached into a side closet for his jacket, "I'm going out shopping for a new table"
"Do try to look for something a bit more sturdy" Ada offered with a half smile while patting her mouth with a napkin.
"Bitch" Claire thought, as the Asian woman was making light of the scuffle from the other day.
Claire immediately saw Leon's trip to the store as a chance be alone with and reconnect with him.
"Do you want me to come along with you?" Claire asked, hopeful.
"Nope" he answered reaching for the door.
"No?" Claire said, taken aback.
"No", he repeated, his keys jangling slightly in his hand, "I think it would be better if spent some time with my fiancé"
It was as if the words had phased right through her. Just a collection of white noise that she hadn't heard as distinctly as she would have preferred.
"Say what?!" Claire exclaimed.
"I think it would be good for you and Ada to get to know one another", he reiterated.
She shot a glance between Leon and Ada before addressing him again.
Claire scoffed, "Leon, you can't be serious"
Ada sauntered over to Leon as he opened the door. He was just about to step out when he turned around and gave her a kiss and a hug goodbye as she came to him.
"No, I'm serious. I'll be back in a few hours. Just try to play nice", he half smiled, half nodded.
"No promises lover" Ada said coyly.
Claire was still fumbling trying to figure out what was happening as Leon closed the door behind him. She stood there in shock for what seemed like forever. Out of all the curveballs he had to throw at her, this one came as unexpected as the events of the day prior.
"Great" Claire thought as she stared at the closed door.
She turned around to face Ada and the two women stared at each other for the longest time. A thick, uncomfortable silence like the calm before the storm rippled through the apartment. Claire had no idea what the next few hours would bring.
Claire escaped to the guest bedroom and got herself ready for the day, intent on spending the rest of it locked in the room. Leon was insane if he thought she was ready to be all 'buddy-buddy' with a woman she still loathed somewhat. She had her laptop, a TV and access to a bathroom. Claire didn't plan on going anywhere for the next couple hours. Of all the problems she had faced in her life, this was one she could outright ignore. That wasn't to say that the problem wouldn't ignore her. Soon enough there was a knock at her door.
"Claire?" Ada's voice came from the other side of the door.
Claire rolled her eyes and reached for her i-Pod.
Another series of knocks. What did Leon expect them to do? Braid each other's hair? Do their nails? Forget it. She wasn't going to do anything with this woman. Just because she understood Leon's situation with her didn't mean she fully accepted it. She was his friend anyway, not Ada's.
"Claire, you know you can't stay in there forever" Ada noted.
"Watch me" Claire said to herself, putting her ear buds in and cranking her music to drown the other woman out.
Within seconds the door burst open and Claire leaped from the bed.
"What the hell!" she said as Ada tossed a jacket to her. The garment landed on her head, blocking her vision.
"I really don't have time for games here. You don't like me? Too bad. But we are going to get along by the time this day is over" she said, fed up with playing games with the younger woman.
"The door was locked how did you even get in?"Claire asked, pulling the jacket off her head.
Ada crossed her arms over her chest, leaning on the doorframe, "You think that was the first lock I've ever had to pick?"
Claire seethed with rage.
"So what now?" she asked, giving Ada a death glare.
"Put the coat on and let's go" she ordered, walking out of the room.
"And just where are we going?" Claire inquired.
"So, how does this work?" she asked.
In an effort to make sure that a scene wouldn't have been made, Ada took Claire out to a local coffee shop. Following Leon's advise to start fresh with Claire she had purchased beverages as a form of peace offering, which Claire had begrudgingly accepted. The warm cup nestled in her hand, she fidgeted with a stirring straw as Ada took a sip and let the late Autumn sunlight shine through the shop window, warming her face. It was rather crowded. A great number of people had found sanctuary in the shop and the many voices filled the air in an indistinguishable hum of sound. Ada sighed and turned to face Claire, leaning back in her seat.
"I'm not quite sure about that myself. But…I think one of us should start with stating the obvious", Ada said.
"The obvious", Claire stated in an almost sarcastic manner while nodding her head. "Well the obvious would be that you're a tremendous bitch"
A few people seated near the two women turned their heads in reaction to Claire's statement. They held their gaze for a few moments before returning to their own business. Ada remained stoic, like she had been anticipating the insult. She blinked in a half bored manner and said, "Alright, I had that coming"
They didn't say anything for a few seconds, just absently sipped their coffee and waited for the other to speak their mind.
Ada set her cup on the table and folded her hands, "You don't like me. It's been more than apparent the second I opened the door"
Claire scoffed with a slight turn of her head, "That sure as hell goes without saying"
Ada ignored the comment, brushing her dark hair behind her right ear with a delicate movement of her hand.
"Actually" she continued, "I have no real reason to dislike you. Other than the few bruises that you gave me yesterday. I should mention, were my ribs done healing you wouldn't have been as lucky in the fight as you had been"
Claire frowned ignoring the last statement, "Are you kidding? You have plenty of reason to hate me Ada. Having six or seven years pass and shacking up with one of my dearest friends does not change that"
"Of course it does" Ada protested in an almost caring manner. "Things change. Every year, the world changes. People change. You, me, everyone. The day you stop changing is the day you die"
Claire absorbed the woman's words. Sure it made sense. But to Claire it was just noise. Or it was Ada's attempt at being philosophical in hopes of making some kind of Freudian breakthrough. A stab at friendship under the guise of realistic insight. It didn't matter. Claire just let it go in one ear and out the other. But she had Ada here with her. There was no reason why she couldn't at least walk away from the encounter with something useful.
"Why?" Claire asked.
"Why?" Ada reiterated. "Why what?"
"Why Wesker? Because that's what really has me stumped here."
And there it was. The million dollar question that people had cashed in on numerous times over the years. The one answer to which would make or break Ada's standing with the woman seated across from her.
Ada moved her coffee off to the side of her and leaned forward, one hand resting on top of the other. She looked down, almost like she was ashamed, "In all honesty I don't quite know myself. At the time it seemed like it was a good idea. If I was going to take down people like the ones that had killed my family, starting in a pharmaceuticals giant seemed like it was a good place to start"
"You're family?" Claire asked.
"Leon didn't tell you did he? No matter, it's a story for another time"
Claire put the topic off to the side as she continued.
"How could you not know what he was? What he was capable of?" Claire asked, shaking her head slightly, in a disbelieving way.
"I knew exactly what Wesker was Claire. Working as a double agent, you learn to watch each and every move the people around you make"
"A double agent? You were working for your people by working with Wesker? Unbelievable. If you were working as a double agent, then you could have left at any time" Claire stated, obviously.
Ada shook her head.
"It doesn't work like that in this business. You don't just decide to stop one day. Doing the things that I did takes an awful lot of time, more time than anyone can even comprehend. You can lose sight of where your loyalties lie when you work for and against so many people. And the same goes for him"
Ada closed her eyes in reflection and took in a breath, letting it out once she had collected herself.
"Wesker's like a rose Claire. The man can draw you in with some charm and whit. But he also has thorns. Thorns with poison and evil. And they're the type of thorns that once they have a hold of you, they don't let go so easily. So sometimes it's better to stay with a small sting and reap the benefits that can come with it"
Ada stared into Claire's eyes with a stern gaze, making sure the redheaded woman understood the severity of her situation.
"You don't just cut ties with Wesker, Claire. There are repercussions. Consequences beyond your wildest fantasies"
Claire took a sip of her almost lukewarm beverage, "Go on", she said.
"At the time, I didn't know what he was. By the time I found out, it was too late. For me, it was better just to stay till I could find an out. But I think I stayed too long. Things got skewed. Lines blurred. If you spend enough time around a devil, some of his worst qualities can rub off on you. Your reasons for your actions are not what they once were. You become a different person. Someone you're not proud of. You can hurt people. And yet you keep going. You learn to block out that little piece of you that acts as a conscience. Convincing yourself that it's all for the greater good. In the end it will all be worth it"
Ada felt something deep inside her. She didn't know what it was initially. But she eventually realized the feeling as self loathing. There was some fiction to her truth. But overall, it had been her decisions and her decisions alone. And she was accountable for them all, regardless of what position she had been put into.
It had been a long time before Ada had been familiar with the term 'conscience'
"Are you sorry for anything that you've done?" Claire asked her, like a vengeful parent.
"No I'm not. I never did anything to harm anyone", Ada answered unapologetically
"The hell you didn't. Because of you Wesker has a sample of the G-virus", Claire accused, pointing a finger at the Asian woman.
"If you were in my position you would have given it to him too", Ada said in defense.
"What position? What if you hadn't?" she asked with a slight shrug and shake of her head.
"Then that crater, where Raccoon city used to be, that's where I would be right now. I had to give it to him or else I would have never made it out of there", Ada said unapologetically.
"And you never thought of what he would do with it? How many people could have been harmed because of it?"
"I did, but I wasn't going to be left in that city to die. I didn't make anyone pull the trigger here Claire"
"No, you just put the bullets in the gun"
Ada turned her gaze downward slightly in anger. It was a low blow. Claire had defiantly struck a chord with her.
"Don't try and act so righteous Claire. I'm not apologizing for living" she said, placing a hand on her chest. "If I have anything to apologize for it's for hurting Leon and only Leon. And since then, I have done a damn good job of atoning for what I've done"
The conversation ended there abruptly while the two of them finished their coffee. Once done, they deposited the empty Styrofoam cups in a trash receptacle and exited the coffee shop. The cold Autumn air was a stark contrast to the warmth that the shop had provided only moments ago. Ada and Claire walked down the sidewalk, not really in any hurry to get anywhere. They just walked, Ada hoping for the two of them to some kind of understanding.
"Humor me here", Claire said, her hands in her pockets. "You look like the type of woman who could have any man she wants. Just what is it about Leon that makes him so goddamn special to you?"
In a flash it all came rushing back to her. The last six years all rolled into one joyous and pain filled montage in her head.
"What was that all about? Running off like that was reckless and stupid!"
"It's my job to look after you"
"I promised you we'd escape together. You just have to help me out here!"
"YOU PUT A FUCKING GUN TO MY HEAD!"
"I'll come back to you. I promise"
"I love you"
Ada stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. She knew the answer to Claire's question. It just took her by surprise. She hadn't thought how to answer it in-depth. It took a moment of reflection.
"Leon is…" she started to say.
Ada thought for a moment about everything Leon meant to her. How could she ever put into words how she felt about him and all that he had done for her at the expense of himself.
"He's unlike anyone I've ever met before. He's strong, determined, intelligent, good looking" she said, looking dreamily towards the sky, like a love struck school girl.
"That's it?" Claire asked incredulously.
"No" Ada smiled with a shake of her head. "What really pulls me towards him is how selfless he is. He's willing to put anyone before himself. To do the right thing. Men like him are so few and far between these days. He's one of the good ones that has stayed as such despite all that's happened to him in this world. But I think above it all, it's his spirit. You can't break Leon S. Kennedy. You can't stop him. There's just something about him. His determination. How he wants to work for a better world. I mean, isn't that what everyone wants? A better future for themselves and their family?"
Claire was stunned. Mostly due to the fact that she never expected such sincerity from the woman.
"For the longest time I was just too focused on my own goals in life. So much so that I never let anyone in. I shut down completely, determined to do what I had to in order to get where I needed to go in life. But meeting Leon, he changed my outlook on life. It had been so long since I'd let anyone help me, or care for me the way he did that I didn't really know how to react to it. In a way, I think meeting him and finally deciding to be with him makes up for what happened to my family all those years ago. It's as if God or some other divine being came to their senses and said 'Okay Ms. Wong, you've had enough. We're going to cut you some slack for a change'"
Claire sighed and cocked an eyebrow, "Nice story. If it's true then why did Leon decide to forgive you after everything you did to him?"
"Because…." Ada paused, collecting her thoughts.
Claire pushed the topic, "Because what?"
"Because we came to understand each other. Because I was in his shoes in California"
"What happened in California?" Claire asked.
Ada paused for a moment while she collected her thoughts. She was hesitant in bringing up the painful memory. All she could focus on was the heart wrenching feeling that came from watching Leon disappear as the elevator separated them, leaving her beloved to his doom against the monster.
"Let's just say….when things were at their worst…. and Leon was at his best he had to make a decision about which of us was going to live or die. He chose me. And because he chose me to live, I thought I was going to lose him forever"
Claire's continued to listen.
"I loved him like he loved me back in Raccoon City. And when I thought I had lost him, Jesus, it crushed me. I felt like my whole world had been torn away from me. I thought Raccoon was my one and only shot. That Leon was the one that got away. But then Spain happened. And then California"
Ada looked at Claire, earnestly.
"I had my eyes opened Claire. And I saw what really…mattered in this world. I decided to stop living for myself and live for someone else. Someone who actually gave a damn whether I lived or died. Who didn't want to use me to further their own gains. It's just a shame that it took me this long to figure it all out"
Claire folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the wall of a building, looking out at the traffic as it passed by. The smell of stale fuel and old leaves passed with it.
"Is there anything else?" she asked.
Ada almost laughed as she answered, "Yes, actually. I don't know many men who cook well and are willing to sing or dance with their women?"
"Leon…sings?" Claire asked in disbelief, cocking and eyebrow.
"And dances", Ada added with a small nostalgic smile.
"So…how's he in bed?" she joked.
Ada's smile faded.
"Claire, you're coming dangerously close to crossing the line. That's my fiancé you're talking about"
"Jesus, I'm still not comfortable with the idea of you too together"
Ada bit her lip as an unpleasant thought moved into her mind.
"Do you love him?" she asked almost hesitantly.
"What?"Claire said, blindsided by the question.
"You heard me. Do you love him? Do you feel about Leon the way I do?"
"Yes" Claire answered without thinking.
Ada's heart leaped into her throat. She kept her emotions in check as she stared Claire down. No matter what, she was not giving up Leon.
"No…" Claire corrected herself, closing her eyes and shaking her head. "I don't know"
She turned away from Ada and starred into the picture window of a nearby bakery. Claire put the fingers of her hand to the bridge of her nose and lost herself in thought while Ada continued to gaze at her, waiting for her to compose herself and finish what she had to say.
"For a time, I had mixed feelings toward him. I probably don't have to tell you this, but when you go through things like we went through…all the horror and evil, no matter who you're with or whomever is at your side, you end up forming a bond with them"
Claire dropped her hand from her face only to cross her arms over her chest.
"I used to wonder how people who go off to war and then come home go on living. They witness the atrocities of life and then have to return to a sense of normality. And no one back home will ever truly understand what they went through"
Ada had a brief vision of all the veterans who came back from wars. All the news stories of men and women who came back damaged because of what they had experienced while fighting. Once a person is broken, it takes a long time for them to ever become fixed. That's if they can be fixed at all.
"It's only the people who fought with them that have any idea what the person is going through inside" Claire continued.
"You can't expect anyone else to really get it without having been there themselves" she said with a brief gesture of her hands for exclamation. "That's how Raccoon was for me. And it wasn't just Raccoon, but Rockfort too. Just one giant nightmare, horror movie rolled into a few months. All I wanted was my brother back. I just wanted to go home. Well I got my wish. After it all, I went back and finished college. By then, word had gotten around that I was a Raccoon city survivor"
She stopped to tuck some stray pieces of hair behind her ear, rubbing her neck as she finished.
"I wouldn't expect you to understand what it was like to have someone stick a microphone in your face every so often and want to hear the same thing that you hear from every goddamn survivor of every tragedy in this world. Or what it's like to go out with friends and have them pester you for 'war stories' while all you want to do is go to a club and dance your sorrows away"
She stopped talking for a few seconds while a group of people passed them on the street. Whether it was out of courtesy or to catch her breath, Ada didn't know.
"I mean, God, there's a reason that people want to bury the past and move on with their lives" Claire stated.
"But with my brother, his friends, and even Leon it's different. They were there. They went through the same experience that I did. That you did", she pointed at Ada to make sure the Asian woman understood that she was just as much of the checkered past as the rest of them.
"And believe me. The incident at the airport didn't make things any better at all for us. Hell, all of our skeletons practically came screaming out of the closet a few days ago"
Claire finally decided to start walking again and Ada hustled to catch up. In a few long strides, she was walking by Claire's side again.
"But they understand. And because they understand, we can all relate to each other. That city of death, as much as it pains me to say it, is the glue that holds us all together. So in a way, I do love Leon. Because without him, I lose the piece of myself that keeps me from going insane"
"You're a strong person. You know that?" Ada stated rhetorically, placing a hand on the other woman's shoulder.
"Don't patronize me Ada", Claire snapped, wrenching Ada's hand off of her. "The only reason that we're strong is because we have to be. Being strong keeps us alive. That's all"
Ada didn't say anything. She just thought. There was something Claire was keeping from her. Something that needed to get out in the open if they were going to make any real progress.
"Come with me" she said, leading them back the way they had come.
Claire eyed her suspiciously, "Now where are we going?"
"So? It's the roof of Leon's apartment. Big deal"
They had both walked back they way they came, back home to Leon's apartment building. Once inside, Ada had led Claire up into the elevator and out through a roof access door. A door that was usually locked but Ada had picked so many times before.
"I like to come up here, to look out at the buildings and park and the lake", Ada said, stepping on the edge of the roof and looking outwards, letting the wind blow through her hair in an almost dreamlike manner.
"Because it puts things in perspective. Or maybe I just like the view"
Now Claire was starting to get weirded out. Ada wouldn't have brought her up to the roof without a purpose.
"You're going to have to talk about them eventually" Ada stated matter-of-factly, not taking her gaze off the view.
"Who?" Claire asked, feigning ignorance.
The statement caught her off guard. It was not what she was expecting in the slightest.
"Birkin's daughter. Sherry. And that boy you mentioned…what was his name? Steve, I think it was"
Claire clammed up almost immediately.
"Don't be so tight lipped Claire. I can see you're hurting inside" Ada said, turning around to face her and taking a few steps forward.
She invited Claire to sit down next to her on an outcropping of brick that had once been someone's flower garden. Old patches of dirt and moss still clung to it. And yet, it made a decent enough bench.
Claire did as she was told reluctantly. And before she could even stop herself, she was telling Ada all about what she had gone through in Racoon. How making sure that little girl made it out of the city alive had been her only real purpose. She recounted how her heart had broken, watching Sherry say goodbye to her mother. A casualty of her and her husband's experiments. What was worse was the lack of proper time that Annette had spent with her daughter. And how that little girl would grow up an orphan. Just one more notch that Umbrella could add to its already large belt of atrocities. Claire told Ada how she had looked into Sherry's eyes and promised that she'd come back for her once she had found her brother. And then she mentioned how crushed she had been to come back and find her gone.
Rockfort and Antarctica hadn't been that better. Even though they hadn't known each other that long, Claire still cared about Steve Burnside and how they had fought through hell together. How he had been forced to kill his father, a victim of the T-virus. Even though he had been a bit childish and aloof, she couldn't have helped but feel for him. And over the next several hours, their bond grew. The two of them fighting for each other's survival rather than just their own. Then her story moved to gut wrenching sorrow as she told Ada in detail how he had been captured and experimented on. How this young man had literally turned into a monster right in front of her eyes only to change at the last moment and sacrifice himself to save her life.
"I didn't even get to bury him" she said, starring out at the city scape, her face held in her hands.
She didn't want to admit it but a part of herself had been lost in Antarctica with him forever.
They didn't speak much after that. Claire just stared out into space, recounting the events of the last six or seven years. Ada just sat and watched her, digesting what she had been told while also trying to make the connections to her own life.
"You know Claire, I've been thinking. And I figured out what makes you so unhappy about all of this. Me and Leon I mean", Ada said, leaning back so her head rested on the brick wall behind her.
"Oh, you do now don't you?" she asked skeptically.
"Yes. But you're not going to like what I have to hear"
Claire was annoyed by the woman's hesitance, "We all have to hear bad news in our life. What's one more snippet?"
"Fine then. All your life, you've had things taken from you"
"No, really? Geez, you should go into counseling" Claire said, bored and unimpressed with Ada's assumptions of her life.
Ada rolled her eyes. Claire was making things unnecessarily difficult.
"Stop and think about it for a moment. Your parents died in an accident while you were in your teens. You lost your brother while he was off trying to bring down Umbrella. You had that little girl you keep mentioning taken. You're friend in Antartica that died. You couldn't even help the people you set out to while being a part of Terra Save. That incident at the airport must have really taken the wind out from under your wings. If you'll pardon me for saying"
"Your humor sucks" Claire said, dejectedly.
"It wasn't supposed to be a pun. And I wasn't trying to be funny. I'm trying to make a point"
"What is the point you're trying to make Ada?"
Ada stood up and walked in front of Claire while she stayed sitting. "The point, if you've been paying attention, is that no matter what you always get the things you care about taken away from you. You can't allow yourself to be happy at all. But above it all, when you see me with Leon, in all honesty, it frightens you. Because you think that's one more thing about you which is being taken away"
"That's ridiculous" Claire said incredulously, standing up and turning her back on Ada.
"It's not and you know it. The hard truth is that you're also scared that someone else gets to be truly happy while you're not"
Claire felt anger well up in her chest. She didn't know if she wanted to scream or cry. Nothing would come out. All that happened was an uncomfortable pressure stayed locked away in her chest. She didn't want Ada to be right, but knew very well that she was.
Ada shrugged, "It's understandable. And I don't think it selfish of you at all. But it is something you have to come to terms with, Claire"
She didn't know what to say. All Claire could do was look at the ground, her bottom lip trembling. Then she said something that Ada didn't quite catch.
"What was that?" she asked curiously.
"They took them from me" she almost whispered. "Wesker took Sherry from me. And I lost Steve. Both to him and that bitch, Alexia. I didn't even get a chance to bury him. Wesker took his body for fucking experiments. He said that he could even come back to life. But in the six years since then. I've never seen Steve since."
Tears started to form in her eyes. Claire brushed them away, determined not to look weak in front of Ada. She looked at the Asian woman with a stiff upper lip.
"They took them from me Ada. And I don't know how I can ever get them back. If I can get them back. Or if they're still alive"
Just then, she did something that Claire never expected. Ada crossed the distance between them and embraced Claire in a hug. The action took her by surprise. This was the closest she'd come to Ada without wanting to stab the woman. Ada held her with a tight yet gently force. It was almost nurturing and it reminded Claire of her mother. Slowly, like a creature out of its element, Claire raised her arms and returned Ada's hug.
In a few seconds, they broke away from each other and Ada rested her hands on Claire's shoulders.
"Looks like we have more in common than you realize" she said.
"Yeah" Claire sighed, "Looks like it" she sighed finally defeated.
Ada was right. They were comrades in this crazy mixed up world. She put her hands on Claire's shoulders, trying to make her see the reality of everything she was feeling.
"You can not let one moment continue to define you for the rest of your life. You can let it shape you into the person you are. But dwelling on it day after day, and year after year? It's not healthy Claire. Nor is it realistic"
"So you're saying I should forget?" she said, breaking away from Ada.
Ada wagged her index finger back and forth in a 'tsk, tsk' sign, "I didn't say that. But keeping it all bottled up inside you like you have been is acting as a barrier. You're not doing yourself any good by thinking about all the 'what ifs' or things that are outside of your control"
Claire threw up her arms, "And what should I do then?"
"You have to find a way to move on with your life in a productive manner. And I'd be a hypocrite if I said that you're the only one who's done that. I know I've done it to an extent"
"No, you tried to shut yourself off and ignore it" Claire accused.
"True, but like I said, things change. And I think that's what needs to happen here with you Claire. You've already made huge steps with Terra save. But a messiah complex isn't going to help you win this war"
Claire turned and looked out over the city. Or maybe she was looking inside of herself for answers. Answers that had been given to her over the last few hours. Answers she was having a hard time accepting.
"So, you can sit there and continue to feel sorry for yourself, lamenting at your losses. Or you can take what you've accomplished and turn it towards getting what you want out of this life" Ada told her.
Author's note: Yes, I know it's been a long time since I updated. Hopefully you guys read this and throw out a few reviews. Who knows where the next few chapters will take us.