Rating: T (some sensuality, not much)
Summary: K-Mart had always found it funny how adults seemed to think that she would not notice things, simply because she was a kid. But she did notice.
Disclaimer: I don't own Resident Evil, Of Machines' song "Things Too Visible To See" on which the title is based, or "Tale As Old As Time" from Beauty and the Beast.
A/N: So this is one of those random things, which I really have no idea where it came from. It just hit me, and I got it done really quite fast. I love it, so I hope that you will too. I'm back to doing happy fics, because let's face it - I'm not an angst writer. I'll leave that to andrella07. Anyhoo, comments are always appreciated, and above all, enjoy!
P.S. Yes, I did just use a song from Beauty and the Beast as my opening quote. I know it's not really suited to the genre, but those lyrics suit Alice and Claire so well that I just said "fuck it" and chose them anyway.
Things Too Visible to See
Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
~Beauty and the Beast
K-Mart had always found it funny how adults seemed to think that she would not notice things, simply because she was a kid. But she did notice them: when she was little, she noticed if her parents were fighting; when the outbreak occurred, she noticed that the adults around her were trying to seem brave, but really they were terrified; when times got harder and members of the convoy just kept dying, she noticed that Claire's eyes grew increasingly despondent with each successive loss; but most importantly, when Alice joined them in Nevada, K-Mart noticed that Claire seemed to come to life again, no matter how hard she tried to hide it.
Even now, at nearly sixteen, she was still bemused by how Claire seemed to think that she was being so discreet. But K-Mart noticed. She always noticed.
Granted, it did not appear as if it were obvious to any of the other survivors, but maybe that was because they were all too excited by the prospect of Arcadia to really stop and look at her. Even in weakness, Claire was remarkably strong, and her "leader face," as K-Mart liked to think of it, was deceptive enough if given only a cursory glance.
Still, it was the little things that gave her away. And though they were little, they were in no way unimportant – nor really all that hard to see, if you knew what to look for.
Like, for example, how she would make excuses to read the red notebook. Usually she would claim that she wanted to check the co-ordinates again, to make sure that they were still headed the right way; other times, she would claim that she wanted to be absolutely certain that she had not missed any important information which might help them on their trip.
That, in and of itself, did not immediately seem to be significant, but it was. For in the back of the notebook, a message had been scrawled in neat, elaborate handwriting:
I'm sorry that I won't be going with you. I wish I could, but you're better off with Claire to protect you. Just help her any way you can, okay? And maybe one day, once I'm done with Umbrella... once it's safe, I'll come visit you in Alaska.
I hope you understand.
But that was not all it said. Underneath, written as if it haste – or perhaps in faltering – was an additional note:
P.S.: Claire – Don't ever doubt yourself: If humanity has any shred of hope left, it lies with you. Remember that.
On multiple occasions, K-Mart had seen her reading it, and her normally clear blue eyes always clouded with emotion as she did. One time, when she caught her at it, Claire flipped hurriedly to an earlier page; just like many of the adults K-Mart had known over the years, she seemed to think that the less-than-surreptitious move had fooled her. It had not.
That was the most tangible evidence, but K-Mart noticed something else, too: the way Claire would sometimes glance over her shoulder, looking to the horizon, as if expecting something – but more likely someone – to come over it at any given moment.
When K-Mart had questioned her about it, she gave an off-handed answer that she was just making sure there were no zombies around. The others believed her, but the others did not see the spark of hope flicker in her eyes every time she did it, nor did they see the resulting disappointment every time Claire saw that they were still very much alone.
One night, K-Mart decided to try a different, more direct approach.
They were sitting by a fire, with their backs against a large, fallen log. The others lay nearby, spread out on thin, ragged sleeping bags, resting as best they could under those circumstances. Claire was staring into the flames, poking idly at the coals.
"Do you think she really will come?" K-Mart asked, breaking the silence.
Claire's head snapped up so fast that it was almost comical, her eyes widening briefly before she checked herself, managing to push down her surprise – though the damage had already been done.
"I, uh," Claire began, ineloquently, "I don't know."
K-Mart smiled. "Well, I think she will. After she kicks Umbrella's ass."
This earned a soft laugh; a tiny hint of a smile made its way onto Claire's lips. Then she wrapped an arm around K-Mart's shoulder, and she said, "I hope you're right."
The next morning K-Mart woke up earlier than was usual. She sat up and yawned, stretching her arms above her head. Then she turned to look at Claire, who was curled up beside her in her own sleeping bag. Her back was to K-Mart, but she was just able to make out the shape of Alice's notebook, clutched tightly to Claire's chest.
Claire awoke some time later; K-Mart purposely pretended not to notice when Claire slipped the notebook back into her bag. But she did notice.
Arcadia had not turned out to be what they expected. When they arrived, everything happened so fast, and then for a long time there was nothing but blankness. K-Mart's next memory was of Alice and Claire trying to hold her, to stop her from struggling. With the scarab removed from her chest, she slowly returned to normal – just as Claire had – until at last she felt like herself again; it was then that she started to notice things once more.
Claire's reunion with Alice – or at least what she saw of it – turned out to be far less remarkable than she thought it would be. The two of them spent weeks dancing around each other, as if they had both wanted something for so long that now, as they had it, they did not know what to do with it.
K-Mart was not an expert on love, but she figured that she could spot it when it was there, and it most definitely was. That they still had yet to act on it proved something that she had believed for years already: adults, though they liked to pretend otherwise, could be so exceptionally silly sometimes.
With resolve to speak to Claire about it, K-Mart went looking for her. The task should not have been difficult, given that they were on a ship, yet she could not find her anywhere. Nor could she find Alice, for that matter. When there was only one place she had not checked – the control room – she figured that they must both be there; maybe she would just sit them both down and tell them how stupid they were being.
When she reached the door, it was by chance that she happened to glance through the small window set in it; what K-Mart saw made her pause, her hand still on the doorknob.
Alice and Claire were inside, and they had each other wrapped up in a tight embrace. One of Alice's hands gripped Claire's waist, as if letting go might cause her to disappear; the other, placed at the middle of her back, kept their bodies pulled flush together. Claire had one hand on her collarbone, her other curled around her shoulder, and her face was mostly buried in Alice's neck. She was pressing lazy kisses there, and it was clear that Alice was loving it.
Claire said something; then she pulled back, looking into Alice's eyes. Alice said something too, most of which K-Mart could not catch, but she thought that she recognized the words 'shouldn't' and 'here.' Whatever she had said, it earned a hearty laugh, and Claire pulled her in for a kiss.
Despite knowing that there was something inherently wrong with invading their privacy like this, K-Mart pressed her hands against the door and leaned closer to the window to make sure that her eyes had not deceived her.
I knew it! She thought, grinning.
The kiss was slow at first, just a gentle brush of their lips, but it soon began to escalate. They parted from each other and met again with open mouths, and K-Mart caught a glimpse of Alice's tongue. Claire moved her hands down to Alice's hips and began to back her up toward one of the tables. She helped her up onto it, barely breaking the kiss, and Alice smiled against her lips as Claire's hand started to reach down –
"What's so interesting in there?"
K-Mart whipped around, horrified to find Chris standing on the top stair, one of his eyebrows arched in a mix between confusion and intrigue. She flushed at her voyeurism, but as he started to move toward her, she realized that she had to stop him, or things would get a lot worse.
"Nothing," she said quickly, walking over to him and grabbing his arm, tugging him back down the way he came. "I'm really bored. Let's go play cards."
"Okay, but I was just going to check on –"
K-Mart shook her head. "They're fine."
"They?" Chris asked, frowning. "I was going to check on the controls, to make sure we're still on course."
Eyes wide, she scrambled for some kind of excuse. "Um... that's what I meant. The controls are fine; we're still headed to Alaska."
He seemed suspicious but nonetheless allowed himself to be led back to the galley. Umbrella, being as fond of decadence as they were, had furnished it with some comfortable booths as well as the large tables for the standard employees. Luther was sitting at the largest of these booths with a survivor named Rebecca. K-Mart and Chris joined them, and soon the four friends were engaged in a highly competitive "tournament" of asshole.
They were thus occupied for the next hour, after which Luther threw his hands up in frustration. "Oh come on! How did I lose again?"
"I guess you're just an asshole, man," Chris said, smirking.
K-Mart tried to hide a smile behind her hand, but when Rebecca and Chris started to laugh at Luther's exaggerated, mock-irritated glare, she could not help but chuckle, too.
"What's so funny?"
She turned around to look at Alice, who had spoken. Her green eyes were sparkling; there was a sort of glow to her features. Claire stood beside her, looking just as happy, with a genuine smile on her lips. Even if she had not witnessed their earlier tryst, K-Mart thought that the satisfaction they were exuding simply by being close to each other would have given them away in an instant. Yet the others seemed not to notice.
Rebecca grinned and answered, "Luther is an asshole."
Alice raised her eyebrows. "Is that so?"
The man in question began to protest loudly about the truth being misrepresented, and he was so focused on doing so that he missed Claire's mumbled comment to Alice: "I told you."
K-Mart bit her lip in an effort to suppress a laugh at Claire's distaste for him. Her jealousy – especially prior to Luther turning his admiration from Alice to Rebecca – was not in the least bit subtle.
Chris shifted over in the booth, and K-Mart did as well. Claire slid in beside her, with Alice taking up the spot on the end. As she settled in, Claire let her arm casually rest across the back of the seat, her fingers brushing Alice's shoulder. K-Mart noticed Alice half-surreptitiously sliding her hand in the direction of Claire's legs, as well as the warning look that this earned her. She glanced over at the others, but they were so focused on ribbing Luther about his losses that the exchange went unseen.
Luther, desperate to change the subject, turned to the new arrivals and asked, "So where have you ladies been? I haven't seen either of you all day."
"We were upstairs," Alice said, vaguely.
Chris' eyes narrowed as something occurred to him. "Not in the control room?"
"Yeah," Claire replied. "We were. Why?"
K-Mart glanced over at him and knew that she was in trouble. He pointed a finger at her. "So that's what you meant by 'they're fine.' But why were you watching them through the window?"
Claire and Alice both turned to look at her expectantly.
"I was kinda looking for you earlier," K-Mart said. "But then you were, um..."
By the ire in Claire's eyes, she realized she had better not finish that sentence. Yet it had created a germ of interest that did not go away.
Chris addressed his sister: "Did I miss something here?"
"No," Claire insisted.
Beside her, Alice smiled. She put a hand on her arm and said, "We might as well tell them."
"Alice – we literally just..."
She was cut off with a kiss.
K-Mart cast her eyes back to the others, who were all staring with variations of disbelief and complete shock on their faces.
"Well, that's, uh..." Luther trailed off, not able to finish his thought.
"Really cool," Rebecca offered approvingly. K-Mart did not know her very well, but as she went on, she decided that she liked her. "Love was hard enough to come by before all this; it's so awesome that you two found each other."
Claire seemed uncomfortable with the attention, but when Alice drew her arm around her neck and kissed her on the cheek, she relaxed somewhat.
"Yeah, well," she said, "it wasn't easy."
Rebecca was intrigued. "So how did you guys meet?"
Claire groaned, turning her face into Alice's neck. "I knew this would happen. I told you, didn't I?"
Alice just laughed and held her close, not at all bothered by the prying eyes of their friends. K-Mart thought that she had never seen two people better suited for each other: they were the perfect balance of reason and impulse, stoicism and warmth.
"They met in Nevada," K-Mart said, all but bursting to tell the tale. She thought that if Claire would ever let her write it down, it would make an excellent book. "Claire was leading our convoy through the desert, trying to keep us safe. One morning, out of nowhere we were like, surrounded by these zombie birds that just started attacking us – but Alice showed up and saved the day. They didn't really like each other that much when they first met, but then..."
Claire made numerous protestations, but Alice quieted her with a kiss or a gentle squeeze of her hand, and so K-Mart continued to tell the story to her rapt listeners.
Later, Alice commented on how acute her observations were, and when she did, K-Mart beamed with pride. She may be a kid – well, a teenager, now – but she noticed things, and at times like this, she really, really liked being right.
Asshole, in case you don't know, is a card game (also called President/Jackass/etc) wherein the loser is the asshole. Therefore Luther = an asshole. I thought that was rather clever, myself. (I actually don't hate the guy, but he makes such a convenient target for jokes like that).