Title: Pull My Heart
Fandom: Resident Evil: Afterlife
Word Count: 4,643
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: Claire storms off after Chris is set free and Alice goes in search of her.
Claire's knuckles were bloody from punching the gun-metal grey lockers in the women's change room by the time Alice found her.
"Save it for the infected," Alice breathed out in that rasping voice of hers as she caught Claire's wrist, arresting the redhead's movement when Claire tried to slam her fist into the locker once more.
The flames lightening the room flickered ominously around them as Claire's head angled back so that she could glare at Alice, and when their eyes met the brunette knew that Claire's hold on her emotions was as tenuous as the torches hold on the light and that she needed to tread carefully.
"Let go of me," Claire ground out angrily, green eyes flashing as she yanked her arm in an attempt to break Alice's hold.
"No," Alice breathed out, flexing her arm to keep hold of Claire. A year before, holding Claire back would have been easy for her, but without her powers the redhead was about as strong as she was and Alice had to work to contain her. "I'm not going to stand by and watch you hurt yourself for no reason," Alice continued softly before cautiously slipping her arm around Claire's waist, hoping that the bodily contact would help soothe redhead as it had in the past.
"I have a reason," Claire replied irritably, clenching her jaw as she jerked her arm again, practically growling in frustration as she struggled futilely to free herself from Alice's grip.
For her part, Alice was unmoved by Claire's struggle and did not relent. She knew that Claire was going to simply vent her frustrations against the locker again, and that if she kept it up for any longer that she was likely to genuinely hurt herself. She realized that restraining Claire wasn't likely to endear her to the redhead, but she didn't care if it meant that she would stop Claire from injuring herself.
Claire continued to wrestle in Alice's arms but finally, after struggling fruitlessly for over a minute, Claire released an aggravated breath and stopped resisting.
"Is all this about Chris?" Alice asked gently when the redhead settled down, drawing their joined hands down to Claire's waist so that she could wrap both of her arms around the redhead.
Claire stiffened as the hold Alice had on her became a full embrace. She was unused to such a degree of physical contact and it alarmed her to suddenly find herself constricted by the circle of Alice's arms. In reaction to the straightening of Claire's back, Alice slackened the embrace but still kept her arms around Claire. Claire remained tense for a while, even with the lighter hold, but after a minute or so Claire found herself acclimating to feel of Alice around her, and even began to enjoy the warmth that her body provided. She didn't want to be comforted by the brunette, but having Alice so close to her seemed familiar somehow, and as Alice's breath gently tickled her neck, and the heat from her body seeped into Claire's tired and weary form, the redhead found herself relaxing into the hug despite herself.
"I suppose so. I just ... I don't think he's lying about who he is," she finally murmured in response to Alice's question, her breathing evening out and deepening as she unconsciously sank back against Alice. "But if he's not, I should remember him. How can I not remember him? How can I not remember my own brother?" she asked, her voice rising in frustration and then cracking slightly as despondency settled upon her.
"You will," Alice assured her softly, instinctively tilting her head to rest against Claire's, holding herself close to the redhead for a moment before she forced herself to pull away. That type of intimacy was one more thing that Claire had yet to remember, and she did not want to push Claire or make her uncomfortable. "It'll take some time," Alice whispered, "but it'll come back to you. You're strong, Claire. Nothing can keep you down for long."
Alice's concern for her had been obvious to Claire since the morning she had woken up in Alaska. She had seen it every time the brunette looked at her, heard it every time she spoke to her, and felt it every time Alice was near her. The brunette's affection for Claire was so strong that it was almost a physical force. However, it wasn't until they had found the group on the Citadel and Claire had the opportunity to observe Alice around other people that she realized that the concern and affection with which Alice treated her was not the other woman's usual modus operandi.
Alice was a leader, she was brave, and she would have put her life on the line for any of the people that they had found on that roof-top – even Bennett – but she wasn't an overtly demonstrative person. She didn't speak softly in an attempt to comfort the people around her. She didn't try to phrase things in a way that obscured the seriousness of their situation in order to lull the others into a false sense of security. She didn't take them by the hand, or hug them, or stroke their cheeks tenderly to make them feel better.
Except that with Claire – and only Claire – she did.
"Chris," Claire began softly, "he isn't the only thing I don't remember, is he?" she asked, covering the hand Alice had resting on her stomach with her own, not missing the way Alice's fingers immediately clutched at her in response to the touch.
"No," Alice finally breathed out, unconsciously tightening her arms around Claire as the words fell from her lips, securing her hold as if she thought the utterance would send the redhead fleeing from her arms.
"I didn't think so," Claire replied thoughtfully, using her thumb to stroke the surprisingly soft skin on the back of Alice's hand once more.
She had felt drawn to Alice the moment she had seen her. She hadn't been able to remember a damn thing about her, but when her eyes met Alice's gentle gaze, there had been a pull on Claire's heart that had never gone away. She had known without knowing that she had been acquainted with Alice, that she had trusted her, and the feeling of security she got from being Alice's presence – even if she couldn't remember why she felt it – had been what had gotten her through the confusion and anxiety of her first few days free of Umbrella's control.
"Alice," Claire whispered softly a moment later.
"It'll come back to you," Alice interjected gently, though there as a touch of desperation in her voice that hinted at a fear of what might follow her name off of Claire's lips. "And I'll be here when it does. We don't have to talk about this now. It can wait. Besides," she added smiling ruefully, "this isn't exactly the most romantic place to get ... reacquainted with each other."
Claire continued to play with the back of Alice's hand as she mulled over the brunette's words and contemplated the feelings coursing through her as she rested in the brunette's embrace. Alice's scratchy voice was tender as she spoke, and the hold that she had on Claire was all comfort and no demand. It was obvious to Claire that Alice desired her, but Claire was certain that Alice was being sincere when she said that she could wait until Claire's memory returned to renew a physical relationship between them.
The thing was that Claire didn't think she wanted to wait.
Claire could not remember the passion they had shared in the past, but she knew that Alice wasn't alone in the desire she had been feeling since they found each other in Alaska. Alice's chivalry was touching, but as Claire's eyelashes fluttered at the tantalizing feel of Alice's breath on her neck, she knew she didn't want chivalry.
She wanted Alice's lips on her lips.
She wanted to feel the brunette's naked body pressed against hers.
She wanted Alice's taste on her lips and the brunette's fingers inside of her.
She could not remember the closeness they had shared in the past, but her body and her heart still longed for it. So much was still fuzzy and unclear to her, but her need for Alice wasn't at all ambiguous. Wanting Alice was the one thing in the world that Claire was entirely certain of.
"It's warm," Claire began slowly, "there's light, there's running water, and at the moment there are no infected trying to kill us," she breathed out. "That's about as romantic as it gets these days, isn't it?"
"I suppose so," Alice replied haltingly, unsure what Claire was proposing, though from the heat that suddenly suffused her body she knew what she hoped Claire was proposing. "But..."
"We may not get another opportunity," Claire interjected, stroking the back of the brunette's hand suggestively before Alice could continue.
The truth was that the situation they found themselves in was not exactly promising. Claire would fight until her body was bloody and broken and she could fight no more, and she knew that Alice's resolve was just as strong as her own. She also knew that despite the strength of their will, there was a good chance that they would not make it to nightfall. If that happened, so be it. They would go down fighting which was all that they could do. However, Claire did not want to say goodbye to the world before she had known Alice's touch. If she was going to die, she wanted to at least experience something of life, and beauty and sweetness before she went.
Alice was still and quiet for a moment and then she groaned piteously and buried her face in Claire's neck as she flexed her arms around the redhead again.
"We shouldn't," she breathed out into the tantalizingly smooth skin before her. "You don't remember me. You don't remember us."
Honestly, there wasn't a lot to remember. They hadn't had much time together before life had torn them apart. They'd only been together three times, and of those times they'd only felt the full press of their naked bodies against each other once. But short as their time together had been, it was their past, it had been their relationship and it seemed wrong to Alice somehow to couple again when only she remembered what had happened between them before, and what they had come to mean to each other.
"I don't remember details," Claire began slowly, carefully picking her words before speaking, "but I do feel things. I know this," she said touching Alice's hand again. "I may not remember how or when, but I know the feel of your arms around me. When I heard your voice for the first time, I didn't know where I was, who I was, or why I was there, but I knew that I could trust you. I know that when you touch me, I feel safe. I know that your presence calms me. And though I don't remember what your lips taste like, I know that I want to relearn."
Alice's lips pressed against Claire's flesh between the dark green strap of her tank top and the curve of her neck, and as she kissed the redhead, she breathed in deeply, deliciating in Claire's scent.
"I couldn't resist you last time," Alice sighed into Claire's flesh, before placing another soft kiss against it. "I don't stand a chance now."
Alone, betrayed and scared of her own body, she hadn't wanted to trust anyone, or rely on anyone when she had come across Claire's caravan. She hadn't wanted to need or be needed in return. But, on her first night amongst them, Claire had followed her as she tried to retreat into the biting cold wasteland surrounding the caravan, and as she had stared aloof and brooding up at the stars above them, Claire had reached over and taken hold of her hand.
The redhead's action had seemed to startle Claire as much as it had surprised Alice, but as their eyes met, Claire's gaze had remained steady and instead of dropping her hand like Alice had expected the redhead had squeezed her hand tighter.
Claire's touch and the piercing quality of her gaze had spooked Alice, and she had wanted to shake Claire off of her and flee, but something inside of her rebelled against breaking the contact Claire had initiated and in the moments of indecisive stillness that followed, Claire began to talk about the how the caravan had come together, filling the cold desert air with the warmth of her voice.
When Claire first began to speak, Alice told herself that what Claire was saying didn't matter. She told herself that didn't care and that didn't need to know about these people, but as Claire's soft and soothing voice continued to fill the chilly desert air, Alice found herself really listening to her, and despite herself she felt something inside of her unclench and relax.
As Claire's voice washed over her, Alice found herself increasingly grateful for the warmth of Claire's hand in her own. She had found herself remembering the simple pleasure of human contact and she closed her eyes and allowed the sound of Claire's voice to fill her, so that by the time Claire's words faded and the redhead led her back to the caravan – their fingers still firmly entwined – Alice hadn't wanted her to let go.
"Then kiss me," Claire whispered, clutching at Alice's hand with her own where it was pressed against her stomach.
In response to Claire's words, Alice brushed her lips against the pale flesh of Claire's shoulder once more and then pulled back and reluctantly loosened her hold on the redhead so that she could move around her until they were face to face. Lifting her hands, she then took hold of Claire's face and smoothed her thumbs reverently across her cheeks, revelling in being able to touch Claire that way once again. Her heart pounded beneath her breast, and Alice closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to calm herself down. However, when Claire needfully whispered her name, Alice could not hold back any longer and leaned forward until their lips pressed together, finally giving Claire the kiss she had longed to since she had found her in Alaska.
"We won't have much time before they come looking for us," Alice breathed out, voice heavy with desire as she pulled away from Claire's lips long moments later.
She'd had to take Bennett's neck in her hand and shove him threateningly against a wall in order to get him to stop complaining about her moving off to chase after Claire when the redhead had stormed away from Chris and the rest of the group. Time was of the essence however, and she was sure that if the others weren't already scouring the occupied parts of the prison for herself and Claire that they soon would be.
"Then we should start getting reacquainted," Claire murmured, smiling playfully before she reached for the buckle of Alice's belt.
Alice laughed at that and leaned forward, capturing Claire's lips once again as the redhead's deft fingers made quick work of her perimeter defences.
Claire might not have remembered the first time they were together, but she was just as adroit at getting into Alice's pants as she had been that night, and it warmed Alice's heart to know that some things had stayed the same despite all the time that had passed and the struggles they had gone through.
Claire's body was relaxed and a lazy smile played on her lips as Alice's deft fingers tugged her pants into position on her hips and then quickly and efficiently began to do them up.
"Our first time ... I found you under the stars, didn't I?" Claire breathed out as Alice's fingers fanned out over abdomen, stroking the soft, firm flesh affectionately.
Alice's hands stilled against her stomach at the question and her bright blue eyes lifted to regard Claire happily as her full lips curved up into a smile.
"You did. You took hold of me that night and never let go," Alice said softly as she gazed at Claire.
Claire had been out in the desert with Alice when K-Mart had been ready to hunker down for the night, and not wanting to fall asleep alone in the jeep, she had gone to the ambulance to spend the night with Betty. So, when Claire had led Alice to the back of the jeep and badgered her until she agreed to sleep in the shelter of the vehicle instead of curling up with a blanket on the sand, they had found themselves quite alone.
The time they had spent under the stars together had awoken something needy inside of Alice. It had brought something to the surface that Alice thought had died years ago as she wandered the wasted earth alone, and she surprised herself by settling in as close to Claire as she could without actually lying on top of the redhead. A part of her had worried that her proximity might make Claire uneasy, but the Claire had seemed to sense her need for contact, and as they lay facing each other in the back of the hatchback, Claire had reached out and softly touched Alice's cheek.
Alice's eyes had fluttered closed at the sweet touch, she had breathed in sharply before automatically lifting her hand to cover Claire's, holding the redhead's palm against her flesh.
It had been so long. She had told herself that she didn't need this. That it was dangerous for her to get attached to others, or for others to become attached to her. She convinced herself that she was beyond such normal human desires. But as Claire's thumb stroked her cheek and Alice's heart thundered in her chest as eyes slipped closed, she knew that she had been wrong. She knew that she needed this contact more than she had words to express. Despite what Umbrella had done to her, and despite the solitary way she had been living for the past five years, Claire's touch reminded her that she was still human, that she was still a woman and at the realization she felt a tear slip from the corner of her eye.
Claire's hand shifted on her face as the tear slipped from her eye, and the redhead's thumb brushed against the damp streak, gently wiping it away before she gently whispered, "You've been on your own for a while, haven't you?"
Alice's eyes had slipped closed at that, the question and the devastating reality of the answer momentarily overwhelming her, but after a few moments of silence she opened her eyes to meet Claire's and nodded her head soberly, to which Claire softly breathed out, "You don't have to be any longer."
Despite the darkness around them and the quiet of the night, neither of them closed their eyes after Claire had spoken, and after a few minutes of watching each other silently, Claire broke the silence once more and whispered, "You can come closer." Alice hesitated for a moment, but Claire's offer pulled on what was left of her heart and a few seconds after Claire spoke Alice took her up on her offer and slid closer to Claire until she could feel the length of Claire's body along her own, and could feel the redhead's breath warming her skin.
Their eyes met then, and as they did, Alice found herself smiling, really smiling for the first time in longer than she could remember, and when Claire's lips turned up in an answering smile, Alice felt her smile grow even wider.
When the spontaneous moment of shared giddiness finally began to pass, Claire's gaze turned thoughtful and she regard Alice seriously for a long moment before she sighed and murmured, "This is probably a terrible idea." Alice's brows had drawn together in confusion, uncertain what she had done to earn that comment after the sweet moment they had just shared. However before she could ask what Claire meant, the redhead leaned forward and pressed her lips against Alice's, kissing her softly.
The contact surprised Alice, but it was welcome, and as she got over the initial surprise she responded to contact, lifting her hand to cup Claire's face as she eagerly kissed the other woman back.
They kept kissing, and then started touching, their hands worked their way beneath each other's clothes while their lips continued to crash together. They touched frantically and moved against each other desperately until they had exhausted themselves, and then they collapsed against each other, clinging to each other as they caught their breath.
Outside of the hatchback the world was still dying, fuel was still scarce, and food was still out, but as they held each other in the quiet of the night neither felt quite as alone or hopeless as they had when the sun had set that evening.
"We didn't get to undress that time either," Claire said, her voice growing stronger with each word as the memory solidified in her mind. "We were in the back of a jeep. You kicked the hatch so hard when you came that you dented it," she went on, a large smile growing on her own lips as she remembered herself and Alice looking down the length of the brunette's body to where her foot had still been pressed against the hatch door, and how they had turned to each other and regard each other in silence for a moment before they both began laughing.
"It had been a while," Alice murmured, smirking when Claire grinned at her. She had been very responsive to Claire's touch in the back of that jeep. So responsive in fact that she would have been embarrassed by it if she hadn't been so starved for contact that she hadn't been able to find it within her to care about how obvious her need had been.
"What was your excuse the other two times?" Claire asked saucily as fragments of her other intimate encounters with Alice came back to her. These new images weren't as clear as the ones that had come back to her of their first night together, but they painted a vivid enough picture of the strange mixture of intense intimacy and frenzied desperation that had characterized their times together.
Alice stared at Claire contemplatively for a second, mulling over her words, and then her eyes crinkled slightly at the sides as a playful smile touched her lips.
"You're just that good, baby," she drawled, drawing an amused grin from Claire before the redhead reached out for her and drew Alice's head forward until she was able to capture the brunette's lips in a heated kiss that made Claire wish that she could undo all of the clothes Alice had just done up and slip her hands beneath them all over again.
In fact, she was contemplating doing just that when someone coughed loudly near the change room door.
"Ladies," Luther greeted when Alice and Claire pulled away from each other's lips and turned in his direction. "Believe me, I hate to interrupt you, but the natives are getting restless. If everything's all ... buttoned up," he continued smirking at them, before having the good grace to look away sheepishly when Alice's eyes narrowed at him, "we should move out."
"We're right behind you," Alice told him, holding his eyes until he nodded and turned to make his way back out the door. "Hey," Alice said when she noticed the blush reddening Claire's skin after turning back to face her lover. Claire had blushed the same way when K-Mart had found them dishevelled and wrapped up together in the back of the jeep the morning after they made love for the first time, and she knew that Claire was feeling a bit exposed. "At least everything was all buttoned up," she continued smiling gently, drawing a grudging smile from Claire. "Are you okay to go?" Alice asked seriously a moment later. "They've been holed up here for months. They can wait for a few more minutes."
"I'm okay," Claire said, reaching out to brush her fingers tenderly against Alice's cheek, charmed and touched by the brunette's protectiveness. "We can go. We should go," she added before leaning forward to kiss Alice softly one last time. "It's dangerous being alone with you," she murmured against Alice's lips as she ran her hands over the firm globes of Alice's ass, squeezing the rounded flesh longingly before forcing herself to draw her hands away from the brunette's body.
Alice smirked knowingly, and bit down on her bottom lip. "You just don't want Chris walking in next," she teased as Claire stepped back from her to adjust the straps of the holster Alice had hastily pulled off ten minutes before.
"I should probably remember his middle name before he sees me wearing someone else's lips," Claire drawled glancing over at her grinning companion.
"Even one's as kissable as these?" Alice asked, puckering up before quickly dancing out of the way of the hand Claire when the redhead took a teasing swipe at her.
Safely out of the range of Claire's hands, Alice leaned up against one of the lockers, and with a fond little smile on her lips she watched as Claire finished adjusting her holster and then checked to make sure the rest of her clothes were in order.
"Okay," Claire said a minute later, directing a quick nod in Alice's direction.
"Okay," Alice repeated, pushing herself away from the locker and moving back over to Claire's side where she paused, and glanced over at the redhead hesitantly. "Before we go ... I just ... I wanted to say ... it's good to have you back," she breathed out softly, tenderly brushing her fingers against the back of Claire's hand as she spoke. "I missed you."
"It's good to be back," Claire breathed out, slipping her fingers between Alice's. "Well, mostly back," she added a bit ruefully. Though large sections of her time with Alice in the caravan had come back to her there were still large holes in her memory.
"You'll get it back," Alice assured her squeezing her hand. "Besides, Chris's middle name's not that important anyway. You could just make one up. No one would know."
"Chris would know," Claire pointed out reasonably, even though she was smiling.
"I'll beat him up if he says anything," Alice declared, looking over to meet Claire's eyes with a very serious expression on her face. "I'm very good at hitting things."
Claire's eyes twinkled, and a few seconds later she lapsed into a wide grin.
"That's so sweet," she whispered, drawing a deliciously raspy laugh from Alice and earning a quick peck on the cheek.
She was a partial amnesiac, trapped in a prison surrounded by the walking dead, and beyond the walls around them the world that dying. She was possibly one of the last human with a beating heart walking the earth, and their only hope of surviving was to embark upon a plan that was likely to be crazier than landing a plane on a rooftop in the middle of a city. However, despite all of that, as Alice lifted Claire's hand up to her lips and gently kissed the back of it, Claire Redfield couldn't help feeling pretty damn lucky.