Rating: T (or maybe M? Not hugely explicit).
Summary: Christmas in Alaska: Claire gets called a humbug, K-Mart notices everything, and Alice is always right.
Disclaimer: Yeah... still don't own Resident Evil, A Skylit Drive, or Of Machines.
A/N: So apparently this is the ficlet series that never ends. I know it's a little early yet for Christmas-based fics, but I had this idea and needed to get it down. I apologize for any excessive sappiness in this... I'll blame being a hopeless romantic at heart.
Imagine If This All Came Down
Part Four: City on the Edge of Forever
I've seen this place before
I've been here before
But why do I not know my way
(And for you I'd do anything...)
(Just let me be your world...)
-It Must Belong Somewhere, Of Machines
While rescuing as many people as possible along the coast, the Arcadia made its way slowly back to Alaska. Within months the several thousand survivors managed to get the abandoned capital, Juneau, back into a habitable state, and within the next year brought it to a point one might almost call thriving. It was the Renaissance of humanity: as more people were drawn by the broadcasts their numbers swelled, and the community became quite a sight to see.
It was Christmas Eve and a fair number of people had gathered in a refurbished hall near the center of town. A former pianist was playing a baby grand he had found, miraculously intact, while others gathered around him singing carols. A meal had been prepared from a recent fishing expedition, and spirits were nothing short of jovial.
"You know, all this place needs is a bit of mistletoe," Luther enthused, sweeping his eyes around the sparsely decorated hall. "It's a shame we couldn't find any."
K-Mart chimed in, "And some holly... to deck the halls with."
Claire groaned. "You two are insufferable."
They were giving her a headache: they had gone on in this vein for rather a while now, and her patience with it was beginning to wane.
Chris patted her on the shoulder. "Oh come on, stop being such a humbug."
The redhead balked at this, shoving his hand away. "Disliking terrible puns and thinly veiled excuses to kiss other peoples' girlfriends is not being a humbug."
She turned to Alice, hoping for support, but she found that her lover was grinning widely; it was clear that she was enjoying her frustration. Claire threw her hands up in defeat.
"I give up," she grumbled, but her displeasure was abated somewhat when Alice slipped an arm around her waist, pressing into her side.
"Let's get out of here," Alice whispered into her ear, placing a kiss on her cheek.
The other three became so engrossed in a discussion of which was the best Christmas movie – K-Mart took the side of Home Alone while Chris and Luther argued for A Christmas Story – that they hardly noticed when the two women excused themselves.
"We're going for a walk, be back in a bit," Claire said, but it fell on deaf ears.
The redhead pulled on her black aviator jacket and wound a scarf around her neck. Claire was thankful for Juneau's moderate temperature: she never had been one for frigid winters. When they stepped outside, it was snowing in thick fluffy flakes that floated slowly earthward and left a crisp white covering on the ground.
It reminded her of when she was little: she and Chris would run outside at the first snow – no matter how late it was – and immediately begin an epic battle, which naturally she always won (at first because Chris let her, but later from having bested him at the art of frozen warfare). She glanced at Alice and considered pelting her with a handful of snow, but the thought of the others seeing them sobered her – that sort of thing was better left for a time when there was not several hundred people to bear witness to it.
Farther into town they came upon the central courtyard, wherein a large tree had been erected and decorated as best was possible. A tech-savvy survivor named Justin had even managed to make use of solar-run generators to power a string of bright white lights that were wrapped around the great tree. They twinkled brilliantly, like a beacon of achievement, and it almost felt as if nothing horrible had ever happened; as if it were just another Christmas.
They stood for a while in silence, just looking at it.
Her gaze fixed on the tree, Alice said, "Do you ever think about what it would be like?"
Claire frowned. "What do you mean?"
Alice gestured with her hand. "If the world hadn't gone to hell. Do you ever think about where we would be now?"
The redhead considered the question. It was something that had plagued her for the first few years after the outbreak, but that was before Alice; so much had changed since then.
"Sometimes," she admitted, glancing at the older woman. "But I'm starting to believe that maybe it happened for a reason."
Alice was oddly silent, still staring straight ahead.
So she continued: "And it's selfish, but a part of me is glad that it did. Otherwise I wouldn't have you."
This brought a smile to Alice's face, and she reached out for the younger woman's hand, threading their fingers together.
"A true love story for the ages: all it took was an apocalypse," Alice remarked wryly, but the smile remained on her lips.
Claire laughed. "Anything less would have been too easy, huh?"
"I'm all for a challenge," Alice said, moving close and tucking an errant strand of hair behind Claire's ear. "But I wouldn't mind easy for a change."
The redhead drew her in for a kiss and whispered against her lips, "I'll make it easy for you later. But right now we should get back to the others."
Alice sucked Claire's lower lip into her mouth, teasing it with her tongue. The heat this spurred in the younger woman made her shiver amid the chilly air. Alice pulled away, trailing her fingers down the arms of Claire's jacket.
"I doubt they'll miss us," Alice coaxed.
Claire looked at her with incredulity. "Are you kidding? K-Mart notices everything. We'll never hear the end of it and you know it."
Alice shrugged. "There are worse things that could happen."
The redhead looked back the way they had come and then at her lover. She shook her head.
"Fine, but don't blame me when we have to deal with a smug teenager on Christmas morning."
A slow, roguish smile spread across Alice's lips. "I'm sure it'll be worth it."
It was not far to the house that Claire and Alice had taken to inhabiting, along with K-Mart and Chris. It was a modest home but big enough for them to live comfortably in. Like the lights on the tree, their power was run on solar energy: it meant the house was quite dark, for they needed to conserve when possible, but the moon illuminated it well enough.
They shed their winter things quickly and when they reached their room, the rest of their clothes rather more so. Alice pulled back the covers and climbed in, beckoning the redhead to follow; she wasted no time in doing so, straddling her in a moment.
Claire hovered above Alice, looking down into her green eyes; there was much conveyed in that simple gaze, the want of words transcended by the familiarity between them. A single glance said it easily enough: I love you.
She leaned down to kiss Alice, her red hair creating a curtain around their faces as if to further sequester them from the rest of the world.
The falling snow outside formed a blanket of silence; it was punctuated by the catch of a gasp, the sound permeating the room, foreign as it hung in the air. Claire rolled on to her side, drawing Alice with her and hitching an alabaster thigh against her hip. It was Alice who had gasped; soon it morphed into a moan somewhere low in her throat as deft fingers pressed at the apex of her thighs.
Claire broke from her lips, kissing first the underside of her chin and then the smooth skin of her neck, tracing the freckles there with her tongue. She sucked at the hollow of Alice's throat, grazing it with her teeth when Alice dug her nails into the redhead's back, hips canting up into her hand.
With a grin Claire removed her fingers and replaced them with her thigh, pushing Alice onto her back once more and rolling her hips down to create friction that elicited a growl from the other woman. Claire braced her hands on the bed, expertly rocking her hips, all the while pressing her thigh into Alice and riding the one between her own legs.
Alice curled her arms around Claire's neck and pulled her down, kissing her hotly; she grew more insistent minutes later as their movements became erratic, cresting the edge with a soundless cry. Claire followed her soon after, groaning into Alice's mouth.
"You were right," the younger woman conceded breathlessly.
"Aren't I always?" Alice asked, smirking.
Claire shook her head and smiled fondly down at her. "About this? Yes. But don't let it go to your head."
Alice's eyes shone with mirth. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"Yeah, right," Claire said, drawing her in for a kiss. "But I love you anyway."
Sometimes, she figured, it was okay to be wrong.
The next morning K-Mart greeted them with a smile the size of Canada as they emerged from their bedroom, ruffled and very satisfied-looking.
"Good night?" she asked, trying unsuccessfully to sound blasé whilst also attempting to hide her amusement behind her cup of tea.
Alice glanced over at Claire and grinned. "Sure was."
The redhead rolled her eyes, giving the older woman a beleaguered look. "I wish you wouldn't encourage her."
Before Alice could reply, Chris came wandering out of his own room, bleary-eyed. He smiled at the three women and said, "Merry Christmas."
They answered him in kind, and Claire looked around at her family: it was far from perfect, but she would not trade it for the world.
And yes, K-Mart's line about decking the halls with holly is horrible on purpose.
As always, comments/reviews are greatly appreciated. If you happen to be at a loss for what a good review/comment might be, my suggestion is to comment on something in particular that you enjoyed. It's always nice to know that you liked it, but the reasons why help me know what you, the reader, enjoyed and might like to see in another story. Thanks for reading!