Title: North to the Future
Author: Janine
Fandom: Resident Evil (movies)
Pairing: Jill Valentine/Claire Redfield
Rating: PG, eventually R
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in the story.
Summary: When Alice left, Jill headed north in search of her. She found people that needed her and decided to stay. Claire follows Alice's advice and heads north. She finds Jill Valentine.

---

PART I

Jill felt her eyes begin to close as she stared at the computer screen in front of her, and immediately began to fight the impulse to nod off. Forcing her eyes open unnaturally wide she struggled in her chair so that she was sitting with her back straight against the back of the seat. She knew that the others had become more relaxed as time had worn on and their little patch of earth remained safe and free of infection, but she wasn't one to take things for granted and when she was on watch she would be on watch.

Scrubbing her hands over her face before brushing some dark strands of hair out of her eyes, Jill reached for a nearby glass of water hoping that it would help restore some wakefulness to her. What she could have really used was a strong black cup of coffee, or at the very least a cold Red Bull, but both of those items were luxuries that had run out a long time ago.

Jill paused as her fingers brushed the glass.

She wasn't alone in the room.

Her left hand crept to her waist where she always kept a Walther P99 strapped, and she spun around in her seat to look behind her.

"Jumpy," Dr. Dobson commented holding up her hands as Jill's fingers closed around the handle of her gun. "You almost fell asleep," the doctor continued pointing at Jill. "I saw your head dip."

"Almost only counts in horse-shoes and hand grenades," Jill murmured glaring at the doctor before her gaze relaxed a little and she leaned back against the back of the chair, crossing her arms over her chest as Dobson moved over to one of the consoles a few meters away from Jill.

"Just when I think you've run out of quaint little platitudes…" Dr. Dobson responded shaking her head as her fingers moved expertly over the keyboard in front of her. "So, has there been anything exciting on the monitors?"

"I detect a note of sarcasm in your voice," Jill replied, her eyes glancing over at the screen she had been staring at so diligently before returning to the good doctor.

There hadn't been anything interesting on the monitors in years, to the great relief of them all.

"Just a note?" Dobson asked staring at the screen for a moment longer before nodding to herself and turning her full attention to Jill once more. "I must be slipping."

"The world needs pessimists you know," Jill began glaring once more. "You optimists sleep better at night sure, but just remember, the parachute was just as necessary an invention as the airplane."

Dr. Dobson braced her hands on the counter behind her and considered Jill for a moment before smiling and inclining her head. "Right you are," she said affably. "I know that I for one sleep better knowing that you're on watch."

"No sarcasm," Jill commented smirking. She knew that she had a reputation for being somewhat humorless, but that didn't mean she actually was.

Dr. Dobson shook her head seriously. "What you mean to us all is no joke."

Jill was silent; her eyes holding Dobson's after the woman finished speaking. She wasn't great at showing her feelings but what the doctor said to her meant something to her and she wanted the other woman to know it.

"Thanks doc," Jill said smiling gently as she averted her gaze. "Honestly, I hope for all of our sakes that I'm wasting my time here night after night but …"

Jill's head snapped to the side as an alarm sounded from her station. She spun around in her seat a second later her fingers flying over the keyboard in front of her and she toggled from security sensor to security sensor.

After a few harried moments Jill paused on one screen and stared at the image on it intensely.

"Trouble?" Dr. Dobson asked anxiously.

"That depends on the condition of the cargo," Jill responded distractedly as she watched the large object move rapidly towards their location, her fingers moving back towards the keyboard and hitting a few keys.

"What is it? What are you doing? What's going on?" Dobson asked rapidly, peering over Jill's shoulder to look at the monitor though she was only vaguely aware of what she was looking at.

"Turning on the lights," Jill responded reaching for a nearby microphone and dragging it even closer to her. "That splotch right there," she continued taking a second to briefly point at the screen. "That's a helicopter. We're going to have visitors very soon."

She then turned on the microphone and ordered the security force they had assembled years ago to take their positions.

She hoped that they had a clean group of survivors heading their way; that people they could actually help had found their way to them, but she'd be prepared for the worst.

As usual.

---

Claire held her hands up as she stepped out of the helicopter, her eyes scanning the area around her, taking in the very well organized and well armed force of people around her. She'd never been so happy to have a gun pointed at her in her life. She hadn't seen a group this well outfitted in years. Alice was right. Alaska was the place to go.

"Any infected in there?"

Claire turned at the sound of the question, her eyes immediately locking on an impressive looking brunette woman who was striding confidently towards her, the group of officers in front of her parting for her like the sea at Moses' command.

"No," Claire responded keeping her gaze steady on the dark-haired woman.

"You'll all have to submit to a medical examination," Jill said coming to a stop a few meters away from Claire, studying the redhead who seemed to be in charge of the group.

"Anything you want." Claire was too desperate to be proud. If being poked and prodded until the dark-haired woman was content was the price for a warm bed, hot food and a bath, she would gladly pay it and she knew that all of her group would happily pay it as well.

"Jill Valentine," Jill said gesturing to herself.

"Claire Redfield," Claire responded standing right where she was.

"I'll have food and clean clothes sent to the holding area," Jill said, holding Claire's gaze for a moment longer. "Follow Rufus, he'll take you where you need to go," she added a few seconds later, nodding towards a man who appeared at her side.

Claire hadn't even noticed his approach she was so focused on Jill.

"Thank you." The gratitude Claire felt was clear in her voice as Jill turned to walk away.

"Don't thank me yet," Jill said over her shoulder. "If any of you have anything that looks even remotely like a bite mark on you I'll put the bullets in your heads myself."

And with that she continued back towards the building.

---

"They're all clean," Dr. Dobson declared as Jill came to a stop beside her chair glancing over her shoulder at print outs she couldn't understand.

Jill nodded, a smile coming to her face a moment later.

"I think you just showed an emotion, my dear," Dobson commented smiling as well.

They had truly been beginning to feel like they were all that was left.

"A pessimist might walk around with an umbrella, but we're just as happy to see the sun shining bright in the sky," Jill replied. "Thanks for putting in the overtime."

---

Apartment P306

Claire smiled widely, a delighted laugh escaping from her throat as the opening cords of The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun began to emerge from the small boom box she had just turned on.

They had radio that actually played music. There was a station somewhere on the compound. In a few minutes, when the song ended a DJ would probably come on and make bad jokes. Shelter, food, water, clean clothes, and music, Claire thought deliriously.

Lying there, scrubbed clean and full for the first time in years, Claire closed her eyes. She stretched and allowed the sound of the music to flow over, a pleasant warmth bubbling in her stomach as she did. Claire continued to listen and the warmth began to spread out through the rest of her body. Her body relaxed. Muscles that she hadn't even been aware were tense, released, and for the first time in longer than she could imagine, Claire relaxed, and remembered what it felt like to be a human being instead of a survivor.

She reached out for the volume control to turn it up as loud as it could go but controlled the urge. K-Mart was asleep in the bedroom and she didn't want to wake the girl up. After the years of constant fear and barely subsistence living the virtual riches that they now found themselves surrounded by had delighted but also somewhat overwhelmed the teenager. That combined with the deaths of Carlos, Mikey, L.J, Betty and most of their caravan – not to mention losing Alice – had caused the girl to practically glue herself to Claire's side, and while the redhead would have liked some alone time after years of almost constantly being surrounded by other people, she wanted K-Mart to feel safe and get some rest more.

So instead of turning up the volume, Claire picked up the small stereo, holding it gingerly as if she were afraid that if she handled it to roughly it would break, and carried it from the table it had been resting on over to the small coffee table in front of the couch. Carefully placing the stereo down, she then splayed herself out over the couch and closed her eyes allowing the music to wash over her.

---

Two Hours Later …

Balcony

"You should come back inside."

Claire turned at the sound of the voice. She recognized it straight away as the woman from the landing area.

As much fun as lounging had been, after years on the road constantly moving, she found that she couldn't stay stationary for long and after about half an hour of listening to the music she had turned off the radio and left her room to go for a little walk. When she'd returned, she'd found K-Mart awake and waiting for her. She'd told the teen that she could stay in her room for as long as she wanted, but K-Mart had been without her own space for a long time as well, and once she'd gotten some sleep, she'd been interested in seeing her own room.

As Claire had made her way back from the blonde's room she'd come across a balcony with a nice view of the surrounding landscape and had gone out on it to enjoy the chilled, fresh air.

"I never realized how much I hated the desert until I was out of it," Claire commented turning around to face Jill, her arms wrapping around herself as she did.

The truth was she was cold, but the feeling was also invigorating and she didn't quite want to give it up.

"Come on inside," Jill said a few moments later. "I've got something that will help warm you up," she continued pulling her arm out from behind her where it had been resting, a bottle of amber liquid in her hand.

"Oh fuck," Claire groaned the exclamation almost sexual in its delight. "I haven't had a drink in …" Claire paused searching her mind for the last time they had managed to get their hands on some booze. "Jesus, it's gotta be going on two years now. Tell me this isn't all a dream."

Jill laughed lightly. "It's not a dream. You'll learn that as soon as you get your chore schedule," the dark-haired woman responded. "However, you can consider the next few days a vacation."

"What's that word again?" Claire asked as she followed Jill back inside.

Jill smiled.

Claire paused suddenly, her eyes piercing Jill's as the brunette turned to look at her questioningly.

"You don't have any cigarette's do you?" Claire asked desperate hope radiating out from her.

Jill smirked. "Saw this in a movie once, always wanted to do it," she said reaching into her jacket pocket to pull out a cigarette holder, opening the silver case and handing one over to Claire. A moment later she gallantly produced a lighter to light the redhead's smoke. "Here," Jill continued holding out the flat case to Claire as the other woman exhaled and smiled brightly, a look of ecstasy on her face. "I hardly smoke, you'll probably get more use out these than I will, and they're rare enough around here that they shouldn't go to waste." She'd only held onto the pack because it was a nice incentive for people when she wanted them to do a job they really didn't want to do.

"Seriously?" Claire asked nonetheless reaching out for the holder and tucking it into her pants pocket. When Jill didn't yell 'not' or hold out her hand to receive the case back, Claire shook her head happily. "Honestly, are you sure I'm awake? I'm pretty sure you're too perfect to be true."

Jill smiled, she liked this Claire Redfield.

---

Apartment P306

Claire leaned against the back of the couch, her eyes drooping slightly as she stared across at the brunette occupying the arm chair opposite her. She could feel the alcohol she had consumed taking effect and for the first time in years didn't fight her body's impulse to relax.

"Are you in charge around here?" Claire asked drawing her legs up onto the couch and settling into a more comfortable position.

"Commander, not Chief," Jill responded. "We've got something of a functioning civilian government. I just look after the guns and let other people worry about agriculture, taxes, sanitation and a thousand other things it would drive me crazy to keep track of."

"Mm," Claire murmured. "A couple hours ago I was in charge of all of those things. Of course agriculture was inspecting cans of food we'd scavenged for holes and signs of tainting. Taxes were making sure everyone foraged and took turns digging the latrines. Sanitation was making sure we had latrines, and everything else was pretty much a matter of luck."

"Your luck must have been looking up. That helicopter was an extremely lucky find," Jill commented.

"It wasn't luck," Claire responded her features becoming serious as her eyes lost focus. "It was," she continued searching for words that could describe Alice and failing miserably. "It was," Claire repeated at a loss, "Alice," she finished lamely focusing on Jill once more as she shook her head slightly.

"Alice," Jill repeated softly her mind filling with images of the woman she had once known, instinctively knowing that her Alice was the one Claire had to be talking about.

After Alice had disappeared she'd heard rumors that had led her to believe that perhaps the blonde had gone north so she went north as well. She hadn't found Alice, but when she reached Alaska she found people who needed her, and she stayed.

Claire stared at Jill trying to force her mind to focus. There was something in the other woman's eyes much like she had seen in Carlos's when Alice had arrived at their caravan.

"You're Carlos's Jill, aren't you?" Claire asked finally. He'd never mentioned her last name when he had spoken of Jill, but looking at the woman across from her Claire couldn't imagine that there could be another Jill out there more capable than the one she was sitting with.

"That's an interesting way of putting it," Jill responded her lips quirking before her features became sober again. "Where is…" Jill began.

Claire dropped her eyes and Jill dropped the question.

"And Alice?" the brunette asked a few seconds later.

"She was fine when we left, but …" Claire trailed off remembering the zombie horde that had surrounded the shack they had followed the helicopter too. Even if Alice had managed to find what she was looking for there, Claire couldn't fathom how she would have escaped from the army of infected surrounding the place.

"So you didn't see her die?" Jill asked.

Claire shook her head and Jill nodded in response.

"She's alive then."

"How can you be sure?" Claire asked remembering the infected mob once more.

"I can't be," Jill acknowledged her eyes skittering over to Claire for a second before she looked away again, a far away look coming into her gaze. "But after all I saw her do, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt," the brunette finished.

Claire nodded and they found themselves in silence for a few minutes. Jill took the time to top up both of their glasses.

"To Alice," Claire said, picking up her newly filled glass.

Jill smiled and lifted her own.

"To Alice," Jill toasted, "Wherever she is."

To be continued...