A/N: *Ducks from a flying shoe* Hey! I wasn't going to leave you guys hanging long! Hope you'll forgive me for the cruel cliffhanger ;)

Disclaimer: I own nothing

Rating: T

Chapter 9-

Claire rocked the still form in her arms, unable to quell the heart-wrenching sobs shuddering through her. The pain in her chest throbbed furiously, awakening her to a kind of hurt she had never felt before.

The cells of the virus had long since pin-pointed the source that had subdued its host. Torn tissues blossomed with a new life and began pulling together drawing the wound close.

Within minutes the t-virus had mended the damage.

The heart twitched to life, giving its first wakening beat and picked up a steady rhythm. Revitalized blood rushed through the host rousing the muscles into animation.

The dark haze Alice had been pulled into slowly receded as she became aware of her surroundings again. Much to her relief she found herself able to draw in a breath of air. Her chest still ached miserably from where the bullet had hit, but she knew it would soon fade.

Alice took in another long breath of air and squeezed the hand holding hers. Claire jumped in surprise and brought her free hand up to cup the blonde's cheek desperately searching her face for any signs of life. Her heart leapt in her chest as she was greeted to the sight of blue eyes looking back at her, a faint smile touched Alice's lips.

"Oh my god..." The redhead mumbled in disbelief.

Claire couldn't stop the short, astonished laugh from escaping her lips as she returned the smile. Alice raised her free hand up to Claire's cheek and brushed a tear away with her thumb her eyes never leaving the redhead's as she gazed up at her fondly.

The blonde held Claire's cheek and guided her down, bringing their lips together. The kiss started out soft and tender, but quickly escalated as passion took hold of them both.

A heartbreaking whimper escaped Claire's lips as she moved them against Alice's desperately. Fresh tears of relief rolled down her cheeks as she pulled the blonde even closer to her. She craved as much contact as possible.

When they finally pulled away Claire ran a hand through Alice's hair, and pressed a lingering kiss to the blonde's forehead once more before helping her into a sitting position.

Alice grimaced in discomfort, the ache radiating in her chest mixed with the feeling of her blood-soaked shirt plastering itself to her skin, and was unpleasant to say the least.

"Are you alright?" Alice asked, glancing over Claire for injuries. The redhead quirked an eyebrow at the blonde.

"Alice, you were just shot and you're asking if I'm ok?" Claire replied.

Alice shook her head, bringing a hand to where the wound in her chest had been. A dead-serious look fell over the blonde's face suddenly and Claire was quick to pick up on the immediate change in demeanor.

"The one who shot me….you saw her face….right?" Alice asked darkly and turned her head to lock eyes with Claire. The redhead faltered before giving a small nod.

"I…..I don't understand though." She whispered.

Alice looked over in the direction she had heard the chopper take off in. A grave expression befell her features.

"I think I do."

Beakers and test tubes flew from the desk and crashed to the floor exploding into shards on impact.

Isaacs gave another furious shout and threw the rest of the desk's contents across the room.

"It was a simple task!" The man screamed in rage. He turned to stare furiously at the two women across the room from him. A very pale looking Jill was perched up on a table; part of her shirt was pulled down from her shoulder to reveal her still bleeding wound. She glared daggers at the fuming scientist.

"If it's so simple then what are you doing here? Go nab the guinea pig yourself." The Clone challenged, returning the man's stare with a cold smirk. Isaacs narrowed his eyes at the double.

"You seem to have forgotten just how expendable you truly are," Isaacs growled lowly. His eyes flickered back to Jill who was still trying to patch herself up.

"Clean her up." Isaacs ordered, turning his gaze back at the clone.

The clone fought to remain where she stood, but found her body responding to the command. She reluctantly went to retrieve a med kit leaving Jill and Isaacs alone in the room. The scientist gave Jill a once over and grimaced in disgust.

"How was her performance on the field?" Isaacs asked. His anger seemed to have lessened greatly by this point, and was replaced by curiosity and a need for results.

"Acceptable. She followed orders when given." Jill replied, showing clear disinterest in the conversation.

"Her confrontation with project Alice? How did she measure up?" The man pressed impatiently. Jill gave him a look as if to say 'you're an idiot.'

"Peachy, as you can clearly see." The blonde drawled sarcastically motioning at her injured shoulder for emphasis.

"Answer the question."

"One on one, the clone wouldn't have lasted five minutes." Jill replied curtly. Isaac's scowl deepened.

"And with you helping her?" He continued.

A bitter yet satisfied smirk curled the corner of Jill's lips.

"We would've had her."

Isaacs raised his eyebrow skeptically at the former thief.

"I once found your confidence admirable Ms. Valentine. But now, I fear it's given you a touch of delusion."

The muscle in Jill's jaw tensed at the condescending remark.

"There was another. She intervened; that's the only reason Project Alice evaded capture," the blonde spat in annoyance. Isaacs turned and began pacing for a few beats as if mulling something over in his head.

"Obviously we will need to remove this other woman from the equation then, correct?" Isaacs asked rhetorically. Jill rolled her eyes and glanced over in time to see the Alice-clone crossing the entrance threshold, and making her way back towards her. A case of medical supplies clutched at her side.

"Took you long enough," Jill chided. Alice cast a very un-amused stare in the blonde's direction but said nothing.

Isaacs glanced between the two and grumbled something inaudible under his breath. He had work to attend to, and had no desire to be near the two blondes at the moment.

"I have business elsewhere…both of you stay put till you're needed again." The man grumbled distractedly. He waved them both off and exited the room.

"Bastard." Jill muttered and glanced over at the clone who was silently tending to her wound. Her blue eyes were focused entirely on her current task.

"That woman…do you know anything about her?" Jill asked suspiciously.

"Nothing. She's someone Alice met after escaping the Detroit facility." The blonde replied mechanically her concentration still focused on her work.

"How can you be so sure?" Jill asked raising a skeptic eyebrow.

The clone's hands stilled and her eyes finally moved to meet the former thief's. A harsh look was etched into the clone's features. In a tone leaving no room for uncertainty she replied.

"I would remember if she had met her before."

Claire slowly made her way through the convoy keeping her head down and her eyes hidden behind her aviators despite the fact that the sun had already begun to set.

After digging graves for their fallen comrades, all seven of them, everyone thought it best to be quick about gathering the resources and moving away from the area as soon as possible. They refueled, collected supplies, and fled from the carnage. Only to stop at a rundown hotel a few miles outside the city limits.

The convoy leader spotted Carlos across the clearing, and made her way over to him.

"Is the perimeter set?" The redhead asked when she reached him. Carlos gave a small nod; it was obvious by the look on his face that he was tired. They all were.

"Yeah. Perimeter's set, everyone's fed; looks like everything's set for the night." The ex-soldier concluded.

"That's good," Claire rasped weakly. Carlos' eyes softened.

"How are you holding up?" He asked. Claire refused to make eye contact with the ex-soldier and instead chose to take a quick sweep of the convoy.

"I'm fine….We could all just use some rest," the redhead replied. "You have everything under control here?"

Carlos nodded and offered a small smile.

"Yeah. Go get some sleep, Claire. "

Claire gave a weak grin. "Thanks," she replied.

The redhead said goodnight to the ex-soldier, and started off again weaving her way through the trucks and up towards the motel. She walked to one of the rooms, and slipped inside making sure to lock the door behind her.

Alice looked up from her sitting position on the bed and their eyes met.

"Hey," Claire greeted softly. "Got you this," she continued holding up a clean white tank top they had managed to scavenge in Vegas. She handed the clean article of clothing to the blonde, and leaned down to pick up the small bucket of water she had left by the door a previously.

"Thank you," Alice said gratefully taking the offered clothing. The blonde slid her duster from her shoulders, and threw it on a nearby chair. She made a quick mental note to clean the bloodstains from it later as she saw the dark crimson streak that had trailed down the back of her coat. Alice then unclipped the holsters strapped around her thighs and back, placing her LDA pistols, Mossberg and kukri blades onto the same chair that now held her coat. Her body felt much lighter without all the extra weight to hold her down.

She turned to see Claire sitting on the bed waiting for her in her hand was a fresh damp cloth. The redhead patted the space next to her invitingly. Alice made her way back to the bed, and took a seat angling her body towards the redhead.

"Jesus, Alice…" Claire said taking in the sight of Alice's bloodstained torso. The blonde glanced downward, seeming to be embarrassed by the mess.

"It's fine…really." She said sheepishly refusing to make eye contact with the redhead. She eased out of the ruined article of clothing leaving her torso bare save for her bra. As expected, the pale skin of Alice's chest, shoulder, and back was still a dark-maroon hue from where dried blood had caked onto her skin. Claire's eyes fell to where she had seen the bullet go through; her eyebrows knited together in confusion as she gently brought the damp cloth up to the area, and began gently brushing away the grime and blood.

"Is this what you meant when you said Umbrella experimented on you?" Claire asked.

"It's part of it," Alice offered weakly. "I still don't understand the extent of it."

After that they were both silent. Claire continued to clean away the blood marring the blonde's porcelain skin, while Alice silently followed the redhead's every movement. A look of adoration glinted in her blue eyes. When Claire finished clearing away the blood from Alice's chest and back, she stopped back at the area where the wound used to be, her eyes focused on the spot as a tentative hand raised to brush over the area with her fingers.

"Does it hurt at all?" She asked softly.

"It'll ache for a while. That's all." Alice replied.

Claire ran her index finger over the area again. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the skin in question before pulling away. Alice, taken aback by the tender gesture, smiled. While the redhead proceeded to wring out the cloth in the bucket of water, Alice remembered the clean wife-beater in her lap, and slipped it on over her head grateful for the feeling of the soft material against her skin.

Claire pushed the bucket a few feet away and looked back at Alice. The exhausted look in her green eyes pulled at the blonde's heartstrings. The events of the day had caught up to them both obviously overwhelming the younger woman.

Alice reached over pulling her close, and within moments the redhead found herself wrapped in a protective embrace. Fresh tears obscured her vision as she buried her face in the crook of Alice's neck.

"Don't you ever do that to me again," Claire said forcefully, though the crack in her voice betrayed the sadness behind the command. Alice pressed a soft kiss to her head dreading her next response.

"You know I can't promise something like that," the blonde rasped. Alice cradled Claire's form even closer to her, and gently tangled soft red hair through her fingertips. Her thoughts briefly wandered back to the chopper she had seen fly away. A plan quickly formed in Alice's mind. After mulling it over for a few brief moments she pushed it aside.

'Tonight will be hers,' Alice concluded to herself, pressing another kiss to Claire's head.

'But tomorrow…I'm finishing this.'

Alice tilted Claire's head up to face her. She leaned in and gently kissed away a few stray tears before bringing their lips together. Claire instantly melted into it, snaking her arms around the blonde's neck in need.

Alice shifted the redhead in her arms bringing her up to straddle her lap without breaking the contact. She relished the feeling of holding the younger woman, and couldn't help but smile into the kiss as four words repeated themselves over and over in her thoughts.

'I love you Claire.'

To be continued….

A/N: Love it? Hate it? Let me know! I love to hear what you guys think!