Fandom: Resident Evil: Extinction
Rating: R (for language).
Summary: Claire really wants another cigarette.
Disclaimer: I don't own Resident Evil because, duh, if I did I wouldn't be writing a fic about it; this would be canon.
A/N: So this fic is basically a series of four vignettes or "deleted scenes" if you will – just random moments that I felt compelled to write down. For those who have already read this chapter, you'll note there are a few minor changes, as I have revised it somewhat. Enjoy!
Imagine If This All Came Down
Part One: Under the Burning Sun (Eto Akta Gamat)
Under the burning sun
I take a look around
Imagine if this all came down
America it's all so beautiful
Until it comes away
Claire leaned back against the hood of her hummer and removed her cap. With her other hand she reached up to wipe sweat from her brow, but she managed only to leave a streak of dirt across her forehead. Great, she thought, pulling the hat back over her auburn hair with a scowl. She was tired of having dirt and grit absolutely everywhere, and as far as she was concerned the blistering heat of Nevada had long since exceeded its welcome. She hated to admit it, but Alaska was starting to sound like paradise.
She hoped for everyone's sake that it was. It was all well and good for Alice to show up like some deus ex machina and offer them a path to the Promised Land; it was another thing entirely for them to actually make the journey. That particular burden was hers to shoulder, not Alice's, and in some ways she resented the beautiful stranger for it.
How the hell am I supposed to do this?
She shook her head. It was crazy. Even if they managed to get there, the likelihood that it would be what the notebook said was slim at best. Claire had grown to believe not to put her hopes in these things – but the decision had been taken out of her hands, and the pessimistic optimist in her pointed out that for years now they had been living for nothing anyway, so what did it really matter? Like Carlos said: maybe a pipe dream really was what they needed.
Arcadia may turn out to be just an idea, but at least an idea was something. That would just have to be enough, somehow.
With that resolution made, Claire rose from her position on the car. She was not wont to remain sedentary for long: doing so only left her uneasy and restless. The convoy's main group of adults would be meeting as soon as the others retired to bed, and they would decide how exactly to get all the way to Alaska. Until then, she had time she needed to kill.
She had just begun to cross the camp to where K-Mart, Carlos and L.J. were sitting together, when something in her periphery caught her attention. It was Alice: she was perched atop one of the trucks, her back turned on the convoy, staring off into the distance as if expecting someone or something to appear over the horizon. Against all her misgivings about the newcomer, Claire was intrigued.
She cast a quick glance over at the others and then changed her course, as if her feet were driven by some unseen inexorable force.
She climbed the rungs on the side of the rusty old truck, cresting the top moments later. Her boots clanged loudly on the metal roof, betraying her presence to the other woman.
Alice greeted her without turning around: "Hey."
"Hey," Claire grunted in response, placing a gloved hand on the warm rough metal as she eased herself down beside her. It was hardly comfortable, but almost nothing in this world was anymore.
She spared a sideways glance at Alice, but there was a sort of eerie prescience to her green eyes that impelled her to look away. It was like the older woman could see things that a normal person should not be able to; it left Claire feeling exposed and vulnerable. Years of survival had taught her to be wary of such a sensation; in light of that, she found herself unsure of what to make of Alice and her odd abilities. She was dangerous – no doubt – but was she a threat? Something deep inside of her suggested the contrary.
A beat of silence passed, and Claire remembered her initial purpose for joining her.
"So, you waiting for something?"
Alice looked at her briefly before turning her gaze back to the endless sea of sand before them. She tilted her chin up in a half-nod.
"For Perilin to grow from the sands of Goab."*
The response was cryptic: nonsensical. Claire frowned in confusion, and for a brief moment she wondered if all those years alone had been detrimental to the stranger's mind. But then Alice laughed wryly and shook her head.
"What?" Claire asked.
"Sorry, I guess I'm not so good at talking to people anymore. It's from a book I used to love as a kid," Alice explained, her tone almost wistful, "several lifetimes ago."
Claire blinked. "Oh."
In that moment she felt rather uneducated for mistaking a literary allusion for insanity. She had spent a good deal of her childhood following her brother, Chris, and his friends around – as a result she had learned to shoot soda cans with a BB gun before she was twelve and was an expert paintballer by fifteen – but it left little time for books and reading. And then in college she had a tendency to skip studying in favour of her Harley. Still, she had no regrets: those were the good times.
Claire joined her fingers together and pushed her hands outward, the joints making a satisfying pop as she did so. Her butt was starting to ache from sitting on the rigid surface, but she chose to ignore it for the time being.
"God, what I wouldn't give for a cigarette," Claire muttered, more to herself than to Alice.
It was a bad habit, but solace in any form was better than nothing.
"I guess it's your lucky day."
Her blue eyes snapped over to Alice and widened considerably when she removed a half-full package of Marlboros from within her duster.
"I'll be damned," Claire said. "Maybe you are the fucking Messiah after all."
Alice laughed. "I don't know about that."
She reached out to take an offered cigarette but paused with it in her hand. "So you're just going to give this to me? What's the catch?"
The older woman waved her hand dismissively. "No catch. The first one's free."
Claire raised an eyebrow. "And after that I have to sell my soul?"
Alice smirked and glanced back at the horizon. "Something like that."
Claire lit the cigarette and bit back a moan as the precious nicotine entered her system. After all the shit she had been through these last few days, it felt damn good. Beside her, Alice lit her own and seemed just as glad for it.
As the burning sun began its descent a hint of a cool breeze began to waft across them, ruffling their hair and soothing their weathered skin. With the area clear of the undead and the simple pleasure of the cigarettes, it almost felt like a normal day in Nevada. It was almost peaceful.
Long minutes later Claire's Marlboro had burned down to the filter, and she stubbed it out on the roof of the truck. With little care she tossed it over the side: after all, when the whole world was an ash tray, who really gave a shit about littering?
She turned to look at Alice, but more specifically at the just-visible package which had been tucked back into her duster for safe-keeping.
"So what would I have to do for a second?" Claire asked. One was not enough to sate her craving, and with the uncertainty of tomorrow she wanted to enjoy it while she could.
A slow smile spread across Alice's lips; her eyes held an impish glint.
"That depends. What's it worth to you?"
Claire shook her head. "I don't really have anything to give you."
The older woman seemed to mull this over before meeting her gaze once more.
"Then I'll make you a deal," Alice said and held up a cigarette. "I'll give you one of these, but first you have to close your eyes."
"Close my eyes?" Claire parroted, raising an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Just do it."
Claire searched her face for an indication of what on Earth could possibly be going on in her mind, but Alice was unreadable. Once again Claire wondered if the other woman were as mad as the world from whence her namesake came – but her questionable motives aside, the redhead really wanted another cigarette.
So she closed her eyes.
Her cap hit the truck's roof with a soft thunk, and before her lips could form anything more than the words "Alice, wh –?" she found they were otherwise occupied.
Claire raised a hand to Alice's collarbone. She fully intended to push her away and demand to know who the fuck she thought she was, that she could just kiss anybody she pleased, but the intent was belied by her body. Instead Claire's mouth melded to Alice's like it was the most natural thing it could do, her lips pliant under the exploratory press of the other woman's tongue.
As they kissed, the redhead drew her free arm about Alice's neck and used her other hand to cup her jaw, pulling the other woman closer to her.
When Claire's lungs began to burn from lack of oxygen she broke the kiss, but she supplanted it with several smaller ones between breaths. Alice returned them as well, with a sort of intimacy unfit for strangers, as if they did this sort of thing all the time.
After a few more of these kisses they pulled apart altogether, coming back to reality. Alice gave the younger woman a Cheshire-like grin and handed over a Marlboro.
"Thanks," Claire said, breathless.
Alice's grin somehow widened. "No. Thank you."
Once again they smoked in silence and watched the sky as it was streaked with colour by the setting sun. Neither spoke of what just happened, though Claire's mind was reeling because of it.
A while later Carlos appeared at the side of the truck and called up to them. It was time for the meeting that Claire had nearly forgotten about, because of the unexpected interlude with Alice.
"So, you ladies been getting to know each other?" Carlos inquired as the two of them reached the ground. He seemed thrilled that they no longer appeared to be at odds.
Alice smirked and glanced at Claire. "You could say that."
"That's great," Carlos said. He patted Alice affectionately on the shoulder before making his way around to the back of the truck, which had been deemed the official meeting place.
When he was gone, Alice returned her gaze to Claire and held up the package of smokes.
"There's more, if you feel like one later," she said with a suggestive raise of her eyebrows, and then she moved to join Carlos.
Claire stared after her for a moment and shook her head. Something told her life would never be quite the same with Alice around.
She was right.
*Perilin/Goab is a reference to The Neverending Story. After reading that book, I couldn't help but look at Alice as being sort of like Bastian walking through the endless desert. Yes, I am a nerd, and an English major; it comes with the territory. (And for disclaimer's sake, I obviously don't own The Neverending Story, either.)
*Also, the "Eto Akta Gamat" that I added to the title reflects the change in the kiss – "Eto Akta Gamat" is a phrase in the Divine Language, spoken by Leeloo in The Fifth Element, and it means "never without my permission." I changed the kiss from requested to stolen... partially because I enjoy being able to make excessively nerdy references. Hopefully people like the changes, and if not... well, I do.
And lastly, I have no idea if this bears explaining or not, but Alice pushes Claire's hat off because I imagine the brim would get in the way. That and it helped me set up the kiss.