Fandom: Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Summary: For the past six months, Alice's thoughts have dwelt on little else but her arrival at Arcadia. The reality, however, is nothing like what she had hoped.
Disclaimer: Yes, I most certainly own Resident Evil. That's why Afterlife has such a beautiful kissing scene between Alice and Claire... oh, wait, it doesn't? My bad. I actually own nothing.
A/N: Okay, so, for anyone reading this who might be familiar with my other series Imagine If This All Came Down - this fic series takes place in a completely different timeline. Nothing that happens here is at all connected to my other fic. However, it will be done in a similar style - consisting (likely) of 5 parts which are more or less connected to each other. But this time, there's going to be more build-up over the course of the series. And I'm going to shut up now, so comment if you feel so inclined (feedback is always greatly appreciated), and above all - enjoy!
For Hope I Would Give Everything
"Thus we never see the true state of our condition, till it is illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it."
-Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
There are some things in nature for which a parallel cannot be found. This, Alice thought, must certainly be true of Alaska, because it was the most spectacular place she had ever seen. As she piloted the red YAK soviet trainer above crystalline waters, past towering walls of ice and snow-capped mountains, her breath was all but taken away by the sublime landscape.
She reached up to turn on her camcorder and began to speak:
"May 3rd, 16:00 hours. 177 days without signs of life. I'm at 58.37 degrees north, 134.58 degrees west, closing in on the coordinates for Arcadia... but no signs of it on any map. I hope Claire and the others made it."
Alice shook her head and shut the device off. It was an understatement: for the past six months as she made the arduous journey from Japan, meeting up with the other survivors had been the hub of her thoughts; she had dwelt on little else. In fact, Alice had imagined the reunion to such a degree that it almost felt real:
She can see Arcadia from the sky: it is a small but thriving town, and there are people everywhere. She lands her plane in a field dotted with many other vehicles and a party of survivors come to greet her. Among them are K-Mart and Claire. Her feet barely have time to touch the ground before K-Mart wraps her in the tightest of hugs, refusing to let go for long minutes. When at last she finally does, Claire approaches with a smirk and simply says: "Took you long enough." The redhead feigns indifference at first, but when Alice wraps her arms around Claire, the younger woman holds on just as tight. Later, the two of them give her a tour, and K-Mart enthusiastically regales her with stories from their own journey. And for the first time in years, Alice is able to be part of a community.
It was with this vivid mental image that she spurred her little plane on, anticipation coiling inside her as she drew closer to the coordinates she had seen in the journal 18 months ago. She could almost feel the warmth of her friends' embraces; she craved it more than anything she ever did before.
A little over two hours later, she checked her instruments and looked out the window. Something was not right: she was almost on top of it, yet she saw virtually no sign of Arcadia, save for a field of vehicles.
Where is it? Alice wondered, circling her plane around. She made several passes but found nothing more. Finally she resolved to land and see if maybe Arcadia were somehow obscured from above.
When the YAK came to a stop, Alice opened the cockpit; she climbed out and stood on the wing to observe what lay before her. It looked like a graveyard: there were planes of every size and shape, but all appeared long-abandoned. Her earlier anticipation rapidly dwindled as she began to walk among them. No welcome party came, and if people were in the area they would surely have seen her by then.
At the end of the field there were two helicopters parked at the mouth of a path, which led out to a sandy beach; for want of any better course of action, she followed it.
Alice stopped dead – there on the beach was the Umbrella helicopter.
Her feet carried her to it at a brisk pace, but like all the other vehicles, it was empty. She resisted the urge to yell in frustration; instead she began to look closely for any signs of a struggle, blood, anything to indicate what might have happened. As she moved to the front of the helicopter, a flash of red caught her eye. She reached for it – it was the journal that she had discovered in Nevada.
She leafed through the book, hoping that there would be a note between the pages – hoping that K-Mart had left it to tell her where they had gone.
At first there was nothing, but upon coming to the final pages, she found new entries made in neat handwriting. They detailed the long journey to Alaska; the last was dated three months ago:
"We are here. Arcadia. At last."
She turned the page and found that there was another, more hastily scrawled entry:
"Something not right."
With the notebook in her hands, Alice walked over to a large piece of driftwood. She set up her camcorder and sat down.
"May 3rd, 18:30 hours. Arcadia... no such place exists: just an empty field – and a beach."
The waves crashed at her feet, and she looked out at the expanse of water before her.
"But we all heard the transmissions... someone must have sent them. Someone must have brought all these people here. But why? And where did they go?"
She got up and moved closer to the camera, kneeling in front of it.
"Day 177 signing off. I don't know if I can do this much longer," Alice confessed, myriad emotions crossing her features. More than anything, she felt crushing defeat. "What if I'm the last one? What if there is no one else... no one to watch these tapes?"
She paused. "Is this my punishment... for letting all this happen?"
Alice had no idea what she meant to say next; nor would she ever find out, for her train of thought was interrupted by a sudden blur of a figure running through her peripheral vision.
She rose, yelling after it, "Hey! Wait!"
Alice ran in the direction the other had gone – ran as fast as she could.
"Wait! Please – stop!"
She slowed down until she stood still in the middle of the airplane graveyard. She could no longer see the blurry shape that she had been chasing.
Had her mind simply been playing tricks on her?
"Hello?" No answer. "Hello? Answer me."
The only response was the gentle, metallic squeak of a door swinging on its hinges – the door to the plane in front of her. Alice drew her guns and steeled herself. She approached slowly: she had forgotten what it felt like to have need for caution – it was terrifying, and her hands shook with every step closer.
She eased herself around the door –
– And a raucous noise erupted from inside as a dozen crows flew at her. She ducked, but they flew over. With something akin to relief, she let out a breath that she had been holding.
And then something collided with the side of her head.
Alice fell to the ground, confused and seeing stars. She had no time to recover – some feral thing was on top of her, trying to stab her with a hooked knife. She struggled to hold off the attack: the thing – the woman, she realized – was strong, and it took all of Alice's power to buck her off.
Alice was quick to rise, but the she-creature was striking at her again, the blade coming so close she could almost feel it whistle by. She dogged several of these swipes before she kicked out fiercely, her foot hitting home. This had the desired effect – the woman collided with the wing of the plane and slid down, landing face first on the ground.
Staring down at the ragged person with contempt, Alice flipped her over with her boot.
She could not have, by any faculty of her being, expected the sight that came from doing so. The scraggly, feral thing that had attacked her was Claire Redfield, and the revelation wrenched a horrified gasp from her lips.
As her eyes swept across the familiar, albeit dirty, features of the younger woman, they were drawn to something decidedly unfamiliar. Affixed to her chest was some kind of mechanical scarab with needle-like legs, which contracted and dug into Claire's skin as her fingers brushed it. When she took her hand away, the device returned to its former position.
What is this?
Whatever it was, she had no doubt that Umbrella was involved one way or another. And the scarab had to be what was making Claire behave the way she did – it was controlling her somehow.
Alice carefully lifted Claire into her arms, and as the unconscious woman's head fell limp against her shoulder, she felt a pang of guilt for hitting her so hard.
I didn't know it was her, she reasoned, but that hardly made it better. Of all the scenarios that had passed through her thoughts, none had even been close to this.
She did not carry her far – just to the front of the plane – but it was long enough to realize how light Claire was. If she really had been alone in Alaska in that state for three months, it was a wonder she had managed to survive at all. As it was, her entire body was smeared with dirt and her clothes were torn. She also smelled of something, and it was not roses.
Yet, in spite of all this, Alice could scarcely find words to express just how wonderful it was to have Claire there. Her body was warm and solid; an absolute confirmation that at least she was not the only one left.
She set Claire down against the front wheel and used some rope to bind her wrists to the landing gear. It would be an uncomfortable position, but she had to be sure of her own safety in order to help the redhead.
Once she was certain that the younger woman would pose no further threat, Alice set to removing the scarab from her chest. It was not so easy a task as she had thought, for the metallic creature held tight to her skin. When she finally got it free, it was not without leaving fresh puncture wounds.
"Sorry," she said, but Claire remained unconscious.
Alice considered the device briefly before setting it aside. She had things that she needed to see to before the redhead awoke – the most important being finding some means by which to clean her.
It took Alice a while of searching, but she was able to procure a host of useful items: a lantern, several tins and packages of food, a bag of quarters, some batteries for her camera, and a metal bucket. She left the lantern and two tins of soup on the ground beside Claire and brought the other things back to the YAK. These she stored inside, after which she fetched from the back seat a black rucksack, wherein there was a cloth, towel, and spare set of clothes – her only spare set. This she left with the redhead as well, and then she went to fill the bucket with water from a nearby stream. Lastly she gathered some dry wood to make a fire: it was May, but the night was likely to be chilly.
Her task complete, Alice crouched by the plane she had tied Claire to, resolved to wait until she awoke naturally. It was some time before she did, so Alice killed time by examining the scarab in the light of the lantern.
When Claire came to, she struggled against her restraints like an animal in a trap. The wildness in her eyes had dimmed a little, but when she looked at Alice there was no recognition in her gaze.
"Hey, hey... it's okay," Alice said, moving toward her.
Claire grunted at her and continued to squirm.
Alice went on: "Sorry about that, but I had to get this thing off of you. What is this? Who did this to you?"
The redhead merely shifted; it seemed as if she were incapable of speech.
"Do you even know who I am?" she asked, feeling irrationally frustrated by her lack of response. "My name is Alice. We met in the Nevada desert eighteen months ago. Any of this sound familiar? Mikey, Carlos, L.J. – K-Mart."
She had hoped that mentioning the teenager might spark something in Claire, but her eyes had a sort of emptiness to them, like she was not all there. Still, out of desperation she decided to try once more.
"You left in a helicopter with a group of survivors headed for Alaska. Arcadia, remember?"
Claire squirmed some more and tugged her wrists against the rope, but said nothing.
Alice sighed. At least I found her, she thought, shaking her head. If... when she gets her memory back, I'll finally have some real company. Until then, I need to do what I can to help her.
With that resolution made, Alice set about making a fire. A knife and magnesium stick made the task easier, and soon she had a decently warm blaze going. She set the bucket near the fire to warm the water, concerned that if she just tossed the chilled liquid on Claire she might contract hypothermia.
When it was sufficiently warm, Alice dipped the cloth in the water and moved close to the redhead. Blue eyes glared at her approach, but she was not deterred. She laid one gentle hand on Claire's knee to help brace herself and leaned across to brush the cloth across her cheek.
Claire snapped at her with her teeth, almost catching Alice's hand.
"Hey," Alice said, indignant. "I'm trying to help you. We can do this one of two ways: I can throw this bucket of water over your head, or you can let me clean you up. What's it going to be?"
The redhead's eyes narrowed, but when she brought the cloth to her cheek again, Claire made no further protest. Alice cleaned her face with the greatest of care; with all the dirt scrubbed away, Claire looked once more like the woman she remembered, except for the cloudiness in her normally clear blue eyes.
Alice brushed her fingertips tenderly along Claire's jaw.
"I forgot how beautiful you are," she mused softly, almost unaware that she spoke the words aloud.
Something flickered in Claire's eyes, but it was gone a moment later. She seemed to drift into a sort of trancelike state, awake but passive; this worked to Alice's advantage as she scrubbed the grime from the rest of her body. It was a difficult process and took some time, but she managed it. Once done, she used the towel to dry her; with some further trouble, Alice got her into the fresh set of clothes.
With Claire once again settled against the plane, Alice set two large pieces of wood over a bed of coals in her fire with enough space for air flow but not enough to cause the cans to fall through. She set the tins on top of them and waited for the food to warm. She rarely bothered to do such a thing, but she thought it might be good for Claire's health to have a warm meal.
When the soup was heated up enough, she fetched a spoon and can opener from one of the pockets of the rucksack.
"You hungry?" she asked, looking over to her companion.
The redhead still did not speak, but in a rare show of lucidity, she nodded her head. Alice smiled: it was progress, if but a little.
She left her tin of soup near the fire to keep it warm and opened the other as she moved over to sit beside Claire, stirring the contents to let it cool a little. Mindful not to spill any on the redhead's new clothes, Alice scooped up a small portion with the spoon and carefully guided it to her lips. Claire seemed content to be fed, for she made no effort to push Alice away.
It did not take long for her to finish, and Alice was glad: she was so hungry herself that her stomach had begun to growl. As Alice set about eating her own meal, Claire closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
She watched the younger woman for a while, thinking about Nevada. It seemed so long ago – now she wished that she had not sent them on this crazy voyage to Alaska, or at the very least that she had not been so intent on her lone revenge on Umbrella. She should have had the sense to go with them; to ensure their safety.
"I'm sorry I let this happen to you," Alice said, but her words fell on deaf ears.
I don't know how... but I'll make this up to you. I'll make this right: one way or another.
Also for disclaimer's sake, I don't own the RE script upon which certain details from this story were based.
So... what did you think? I hope to have another part done soon, but I'm about to be very busy with assignments. (But then, writing is so much more important than school, isn't it?) I apologize for any mistakes there might be... I'm very tired.