Rating: M (language, sexuality)
Summary: Claire Redfield had always liked to think of herself as a fairly reasonable person; she almost always managed to keep a level head. Except, of course, where Alice Abernathy was concerned.
Disclaimer: I don't own Resident Evil, or "Another Heart Calls" by the All American Rejects.
A/N: So this is written in response to a request from ShinyThingsGirl, asking me to try something with a bit of angst. The setting is a few months after Afterlife, in Juneau once again.
Another Heart Calls
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Juneau, Alaska: September 24.
Claire Redfield had always liked to think of herself as a fairly reasonable person. Under most circumstances, she confronted her problems with a calm, level head. It was not very often that something was able to throw her off balance: not even a horde of zombies, as terrible and frightening as they were, could make Claire lose her cool.
But even the most unshakable have their own particular Kryptonite: a weakness to which they cannot fail to succumb. Claire's was about 5'9, with legs that went on forever, sparkling green eyes, and a smile that somehow managed to make her feel like a flustered, hormonal teenage boy with a silly crush: Alice Abernathy. And, as attraction is often wont to do, it had utterly blind-sided her.
The moment was seared into her memory, as vivid as if it had happened yesterday.
It had actually occurred some weeks ago, not long after their arrival in Juneau, as they were in the process of saying good night. Alice had been in a good mood, observable by her body language and unusually cheery countenance, and it was that, ostensibly, which had inspired her to give Claire a friendly kiss on the cheek before they parted. The gesture was unexpected, and by some bizarre chance, Claire happened to turn her head and catch the other woman's lips instead. Alice seemed to think nothing of it; she merely let the kiss linger.
Then, with an arched eyebrow, Alice had pulled away and said, "Good night, Claire."
Claire, for her part, had been left in the hall, staring after her in surprise.
Sometimes, simple things have a funny way of producing a remarkably profound effect: the kiss, however innocent and accidental, had irrevocably changed the way she thought of Alice. In the weeks that followed it, she found that every minute gesture – from the occasional touch, to a mere smile – began to make her pulse quicken ever so slightly. And no matter how many times she had told herself that it was ridiculous, the feeling did not go away.
Claire had always liked to think of herself as a fairly reasonable person, but attraction has a curious way of making people feel and do the most unreasonable things. That is why, at this particular moment, she was half-seriously contemplating a plan to kill Luther and make it look like an accident.
He was sitting to the left of them in an overstuffed leather chair, oozing charisma as he always did, his dark eyes focused on Alice as he carried on an enthusiastic conversation with her. He kept leaning across the short distance to touch Alice's hand or arm, actions which, to her endless frustration, the older woman did not rebuff. Instead she just smiled and laughed at his stupid jokes, and it was taking every vestige of Claire's self-control not to roll her eyes at the blatant flirtation between them.
She looked away, hoping to distract herself with the wealth of activity around them. They were inside the Centennial Hall Convention Center, a building which they had chosen to refurbish because of its size: it was a perfect place for the survivors to congregate and socialize.
The small cluster of couches and chairs on which they were seated was located in the far corner of the room, thus providing a more private space. Chris and K-Mart were sitting on the couch across from theirs, and her brother was presently having his ear talked off by the inexhaustible teenager, though he did not seem to mind.
The chesterfield that Claire shared with Alice was, ironically, a loveseat; it was small, leaving little room between them. As a result, she could feel the warm press of Alice's body against her side, and it was slowly driving her mad. Even as she turned her gaze to watch other people interact elsewhere in the room, she could not distract herself from the sensation of Alice's thigh resting against her own.
Everyone was in good spirits that evening: their first fishing expedition had been a success, and the spoils from it would sustain them for quite some time. Fresh food – meat, in particular – was a huge encouragement.
To celebrate, Alice had brought out a small bottle of rum, which she had somehow managed to procure. Even K-Mart, underage as she was, had been excited by the small portion that she was allowed. Claire's glass, however, remained untouched. She knew that she was being petty, but she just did not feel much like celebrating.
A loud laugh from Alice caused Claire to turn and look at her. As she did, Alice reached out to grab Luther's arm and shove him, ostensibly in response to whatever he had said, and the sight made her stomach drop. She set her jaw and glanced down at her hands, jealousy flaring yet again.
"Hey Claire, are you okay?"
At this, her head snapped up in alarm, her gaze coming to rest on the source of the question: K-Mart. It was asked out of genuine concern, but Claire really wished that the teenager had kept it to herself, for now all eyes were fixed on her.
She did her best to look nonchalant as she said, "Yeah. I'm just tired."
It sounded hollow to her ears, but K-Mart seemed to accept it. Chris' brow was furrowed, and she knew that her brother, as siblings often can, had seen right through it. But he said nothing, and for that she was beyond grateful.
"Well, I don't blame you," Luther said, offering her a friendly smile. "We've been working hard ever since we got here."
Alice, for her part, rubbed a gentle hand on Claire's back. Even through the material of her shirt, the touch felt as if it were scorching her skin, and she was torn between craving more and wanting it to stop. Alice, oblivious to her internal struggle, seemed content to let her hand linger; her thumb made little stroking motions that were absolutely maddening.
The older woman went back to her conversation with Luther, and for some time Claire did nothing but sit and listen to them. As their flirting began to escalate again, she reached for her thus far untouched glass and knocked back the small portion of alcohol, with the vain hope that it might make tolerating them a little easier.
"So Claire," Luther said suddenly, forcing her to pay attention again. "What did you do before all this?"
The last thing she wanted to do was talk to him, but Alice was looking at her with smiling green eyes, so she was compelled to answer.
"I was a mechanic."
"Oh, well, I bet that comes in handy, huh?"
She shrugged. It had been a useful skill while she was with the convoy, but she had been without a car for around two years now. And her specialty was more to do with motorcycles, anyway.
"She's just being modest," Alice interjected, giving Claire's back another enthusiastic rub and smiling at her in a way that sent a little thrill up her spine.
"Not really," Claire said dismissively. Then, keen to deflect attention from herself, she asked, "So, Luther... you were a basketball player?"
It worked like a charm. His face lit up, and he said, "Sure was. And a pretty good one... if I do say so myself."
In the conversation that followed, she discovered that Luther had no shortage of stories about his life before the outbreak. She was grateful for the reprieve, but after she had endured his prattling on for at least half an hour, she stood from the couch. She needed a break – otherwise, she really was going to kill the man.
Alice looked up at her, surprised. "Where are you going?"
"For a smoke," Claire answered, producing a package of cigarettes from her back pocket.
"You don't need to go outside."
"I know," Claire said. "I just need some fresh air."
The older woman's brow furrowed, but she replied, "Okay."
Once outside, Claire chose a remote corner of the Convention Center to lean on. She let her head fall back against the wall, closing her eyes. A cool, gentle breeze wafted over her face and arms, and it helped to restore her to some semblance of composure. Still, she cursed herself for being so stupid: she was 32, yet she was pining after Alice like some love-struck teenager.
Claire tapped a cigarette out of the package and lit it, letting the nicotine offer what little solace it could. She had finished the first and was working on a second, when she caught sight of Chris in her peripheral vision. As he approached, she wordlessly offered him one, and he accepted it.
He leaned beside her, at first just smoking in silence. But something told her that he had not come out just for a smoke, and her suspicion was confirmed a few minutes later.
"So, what's up? You okay?"
She nodded, not looking at him. "I'm fine."
Claire could feel his gaze, but she purposefully avoided his eyes: as siblings often are, her brother was far too good at reading her. She hoped that he would leave it alone, but obstinacy was a trait that ran in the Redfield line, and Chris was no exception to it.
"Look, I may not know a lot of things, but I know you," he began, stubbing his cigarette out on the ground and crossing his arms over his chest. "You're not fine – something's bugging you."
Yeah – you, she thought childishly, but aloud she said, "It's nothing, okay? Just drop it."
They lapsed into silence; for a brief time, it seemed as if he had let it go. His next comment was so unexpected that it left her flabbergasted.
"You should just say something to her."
"What? How did you –?"
"I didn't for sure," Chris said, smirking. "But your reaction pretty much speaks for itself."
Claire pushed off from the wall and turned to glare at him. "Fuck you, Chris."
"Hey now, don't take it out on me," Chris objected, raising his hands in defence. "And don't expect her to read your mind, either. Way I see it, you have two choices: grow a pair and fess up to her, or deal with the consequences."
She shook her head. "It's not that simple."
"What's so complicated about it?" Chris asked, arching a dubious eyebrow.
The more she was forced to think about it, the more she grasped for logical reasons why it was a bad idea to tell Alice. It was crazy enough, she figured, that she even felt this way to begin with. To think that Alice would, too, was bordering on absurd; if Claire did say something, she would probably just laugh.
"It just... is," she said, with a frustrated roll of her eyes. "I mean, Christ – what would I even say? 'Hey Alice, I like you'? Yeah fucking right."
He shrugged. "I don't see why not."
"Were you even there, Chris?" Claire scoffed. Sardonically, she added, "Did you not see that she was all the fuck over him?"
Chris shrugged again. "And did you not consider that maybe she wouldn't be, if she knew she had other options? Don't get me wrong, because I like the guy, but you're my sister, and I don't see any reason why she wouldn't choose you over Luther."
As he said this, the misplaced anger that she had been feeling toward him began to dissipate. Her shoulders slumped, and she closed her eyes, feeling defeated. Chris, being the amazing brother that he truly was, wrapped a comforting arm around her.
"Thanks," she said, shaking her head with a sigh. "But I do."
"Well, then it's her loss," Chris stated firmly, giving her a squeeze. "I don't know about West, but we Redfields are killer in bed."
Despite herself, Claire could not help but laugh. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that."
He laughed too, smiling down at her. "Come on, we should head back."
Back inside, Luther was in the seat that Claire had left empty, and the two of them were still chatting amiably. Alice just looked so damn happy, and it killed her to know that she was not the source of that happiness. The sight was enough to make her consider turning around and leaving again, but Chris' arm around her shoulders prevented that.
"Sorry Claire," Luther said, starting to rise. "I didn't mean to take your place."
The irony of it almost made her snort derisively, but she managed to hold in the reaction.
"It's fine," she replied, settling down on the other couch instead. The blonde teenager was missing, so she asked, "Where's K-Mart?"
"Washroom," Alice answered. Then, with concern on her beautiful features, she added, "Are you sure you're okay? Maybe you should head home; get some rest."
Was she really that haggard-looking? Claire hoped not; still, she realized that this was the out she had been looking for all night. So she decided to take it.
"Yeah," she said, rising again. "Actually, I think I should."
Alice got up, too. "I'll come with you."
Claire shook her head. "No, I'll be fine. Stay; have fun."
As she spoke the last words, they came out more bitterly than she had meant them to. Alice, always observant, seemed to pick up on it. She raised an eyebrow in silent question, but Claire just looked away.
"Goodnight, guys," she said, with a slight wave of her hand.
Then she turned and left Alice standing there. Had she cast a glance back at her, she would have seen the brief glimmer of hurt in her green eyes.
As much as she had kept saying it, Claire really was tired. But when she made it back to the house that the five of them had adopted as their own, she found that sleep did not come easily. She lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling, giving thought to Chris' suggestion. What would be the worst thing that could happen, if she did tell her?
There was the probability of rejection, for one: Alice had never given any indication that she was anything other than straight. First there was Carlos; now there was Luther. Why would Alice want her?
But if she were to be honest with herself, the real reason that she kept quiet was the insane possibility that Alice might. It went against all logic, reason, and rationality, but it existed. And it was terrifying, because nothing was ever permanent – especially not now. What if Alice's restored humanity, which she seemed to cherish so much, happened to catch up with her? Losing Alice, especially after being with her, was the only thing that she could think of that was worse than having to watch her fall in love with Luther.
Claire had no idea how long she spent thinking about it, but eventually she drove herself to exhaustion by doing so. She had just begun to drift off, when a soft touch on her shoulder caused her to jerk awake, sitting bolt upright in bed. Her startled eyes fell on the culprit.
"Shit," she breathed. "Alice. What is it?"
Alice settled on the edge of the bed, smiling warmly at her. "Sorry to wake you, but I just wanted to check in on you. You seemed upset, earlier."
"It's nothing," Claire said. Then, repeating her mantra from before, she explained, "I was just tired."
It was a blatant lie, and both women knew it. Green eyes narrowed at her, and Claire wondered why she had to know so many observant people. For once, she wished someone would just let it slide.
"Why are you lying to me?" Alice demanded, sounding hurt.
Claire let out a beleaguered sigh. With a shrug, she asked dryly, "Does it matter?"
"Yes," Alice replied, vehement. It was clear that she, like Chris, was not going to let the issue drop. So Claire decided that she might as well be honest.
"Because it's easier."
She had no delusion that the other woman would accept that as an answer; she was stalling, her brain desperately scrambling for a solution. Alice reached out to touch her arm, but that did not help.
Gently, Alice said, "You can tell me. Whatever it is."
Claire looked away for a moment. As terrifying as it was, she knew that this was an opportunity: one that she would be foolish to pass up. Swallowing from the sudden dryness that she felt in her throat, she turned back to Alice.
"Why Luther?" she muttered. "What do you see in him?"
Alice seemed taken aback. "What does he have to do with this?"
Claire stared evenly into her eyes, hoping that the meaning would come through without putting it into words. Alice searched her face, and after a moment, understanding seemed to dawn.
Then the older woman laughed; it was just what Claire had expected. Offended and not at all keen to be mocked, she looked away again.
"Hey," Alice said softly. Claire ignored her, until a gentle hand reached up to cradle her jaw, forcing her to turn. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that."
Suddenly, she felt stifled: like there was not enough air in the room. She made to get off the bed, to leave, but Alice stopped her with a firm press of her palm against her shoulder.
"Alice, don't..." Claire pleaded, unable to meet her eyes.
"Shh," Alice said, her hand once again guiding Claire back to her. There was no judgement on her face; instead, there was warmth and fondness – and maybe something else. "Stop being so silly."
Claire was about to protest, but the sound died on her lips as Alice drew her into a kiss.
Alice's lips were impossibly soft; lush. She allowed herself to indulge in them for one long, blissful minute, before panic kicked in once more. She tried to get up again, but that same hand held her fast.
"Where do you think you're going?" Alice whispered, with a sparkle in her eyes.
Any further protestations which she might have had were silenced with a second, more demanding kiss.
Attraction may not be reasonable, but it is powerful. Everything that had been pent up over the last few weeks came crashing out; Claire's mouth became forceful as she claimed Alice's for her own, her tongue seeking out as if to further mark her territory.
With a fluid, deft motion, she pressed Alice down into the bed; she straddled her hips, bracing her hands against the mattress on either side of her head. Claire's kiss grew hungrier, her lips clashing with Alice's so heatedly that it threatened to scald them both, to consume them as if by a flame; yet at the same time it ignited life within, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Alice's hand, so gentle before, fisted roughly in her hair, the other wandering over her body. She made a guttural sound low in her throat that caused a hot shiver to lick its way up Claire's spine, and when Claire pulled away to draw in a breath, Alice nipped none-too-gently at her jaw.
Claire's chest rose and fell rapidly as she hovered above Alice. She looked down at her, noticing that her pupils had dilated, her green eyes tinged with more blue than usual.
Alice's roaming hand had found its way under the hem of Claire's tank top, and her nails were scratching at the skin there. Her other hand moved to slide along Claire's thigh, burning her through the material of her pants. She closed her eyes for a brief moment and allowed herself to revel in the sensation; then she leaned down and kissed Alice again.
"If you want to stop, say something now," Claire said huskily against her lips. "Otherwise, I am going to fuck you."
Her answer was a slow, hot, deliberate kiss: an invitation to do just that.
They broke apart again, this time to shed their clothes, and soon they were kneeling together on the bed, kissing as ardently as before. Claire flicked her tongue against Alice's, and then drew away, her hands coming to rest at the older woman's hips. She encouraged her to turn around, gently pushing her until she had bent over at the waist, her hands braced on the mattress.
With firm tenderness, Claire drew Alice's backside against her body, and gripping one of her hips for leverage, she slid her other hand down Alice's front, until it came to rest at the apex of her thighs. As she began to stroke her, she rolled her hips into Alice; the skin of her abdomen stuck hotly to her back when she leaned over her.
It was not long before Alice's breath became laboured, with soft, throaty moans punctuating her intake of air. Claire nipped at her back and shoulder blades, sucking the skin into her mouth to soothe the bites. She quickened the motion of her hand, and when Alice came a few minutes later, she could hear it in the hiss of breath that left her, could feel it in the tremble that passed through her body.
Taking the same hand that had been pleasuring the other woman a moment ago, Claire reached down to stroke herself, leaning on Alice as she came to her own blissful climax.
Alice turned in her arms, settling on her back and pulling Claire down to lie between her legs. They shared a few languid kisses, and all the frenzied heat from earlier dissipated to a soft glow.
"I can see why you became a mechanic," Alice said, lazily trailing her fingers over Claire's chest. "You're good with your hands."
Claire laughed at that; she dipped her head to suck at Alice's neck, tracing one of her freckles with her tongue. "Be sure to tell Luther that, huh?"
Gentle hands pushed her back a bit so that their gazes met. "I never wanted him. Just you."
"But..." Claire began to protest, but she was cut off by a finger pressed against her lips.
"No buts," Alice said; then she flipped them over with surprising strength, running her hand down the flat plane of Claire's stomach. "Just you."
As Alice began to kiss a path down her body, Claire found herself unable to formulate any other objections; soon she was overwhelmed once more by sensation.
Claire had always liked to think of herself as a fairly reasonable person, but attraction is not reasonable – and neither is love. As she woke the next morning, thoroughly tangled in Alice, Claire came to the realization that in this case, to be unreasonable far exceeded anything else.
Centennial Hall Convention Center is a real place. I am a nerd who likes to do research... and now I really, really want to go to Juneau one day.
Thanks for reading!