Title: Strange and Beautiful

Author: Janine

Fandom: Resident Evil

Pairing: Alice/Claire

Rating: R (overall rating)

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Summary: A look at what life might be like for Alice and Claire and the others onboard the Arcadia if they had been able to sail the ship to Alaska.

Note: The story uses the same timeline as Pull My Heart. This is really only relevant during the parts of the story that reference how Alice and Claire first got together, so it is not necessary to have read Pull My Heart in order to follow this story.

xxx

PART III

Claire's eyes remained fastened shut as aftershocks rocked her, the feel of Alice's lips on her stomach making her hips instinctively arch into her lover's body. Distantly, Claire was aware of Alice smiling against her abdomen as she continued to kiss her way up it, but Claire was too distracted by the feel of Alice's hand returning between her legs to gently stroke her to register much beyond the blissful feelings coursing through her body.

When Alice reached Claire's breasts she turned her face to the side and carefully took the redhead's left nipple between her lips. She alternated between swirling her tongue around the turgid tip and sucking on it gently, nursing the nipple, as she continued to move her fingers against Claire, drawing out the redhead's orgasm as long as she could. Claire's skin was warm, her breath ragged, and the scent of her arousal blanketed the air around them. Claire's pulsed and clenched deliciously against her fingers, and Alice pulled Claire's body more firmly against her own, wanting to hold onto the perfect moment for as long as possible.

"Baby," Claire breathed out as the last remnants of her orgasm faded and her body relaxed against the mattress. "Come up here," she continued softly, still a little breathless as she combed her fingers through Alice's hair.

Alice was loathe to leave Claire's breast however, and she stayed there, suckling for a while longer, though she removed her hand from between Claire's legs, knowing that Claire was done for the night –even though Alice herself wouldn't have minded slipping beneath the comforter again. Eventually however, she managed to tear her lips away from Claire's breast and she slid up the redhead's body until they were nose to nose.

Claire grinned at her widely when she was finally able to see Alice's face, and Alice happily smiled back at her before she leaned down and brought their lips together, allowing Claire to taste herself on her. They then kissed slowly and deeply for a long while, luxuriating in each other and revelling in the press of their bodies against each other.

"I'm fine," Alice sighed into Claire's mouth, capturing her lover's hand as it began to trail up her leg, seeking the warm, wet place at the apex of her thighs. "As it is, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to walk properly tomorrow," she continued, smiling before burying her face in Claire's neck.

As she had promised in the morning, when they had arrived in their bedroom, Alice did have her wicked way with Claire, but the redhead was not content letting Alice run the show, and after Alice had brought her to a toe curling climax, Claire had eagerly turned the tables. She had flipped Alice rather unceremoniously onto her back, and then grabbed her thighs, spreading them until she was able to situate herself between them, and Claire then carefully positioned herself until her center was pressed against Alice's.

The first contact of Claire against her had drawn a sharp inhalation of breath from Alice, which had in turn made Claire smile, and then the redhead had braced her hands on Alice's knee and begun to rock against her, gradually increasing the force of her movements until she was vigorously thrusting and grinding against Alice. When Alice came, she hadn't been able to stop herself from vocalizing her pleasure and Claire's hand had quickly moved to cover her mouth, the press of Claire's hand against her lips intensifying the force of her orgasm, making her buck wildly into Claire's still gyrating hips.

"Mm," Claire sighed, running her hand along Alice's back as the brunette nuzzled against her. "Beds are nice," she concluded smiling.

The times they had been together in the desert had been pleasurable, and more importantly had nourished them emotionally in a way that they had both desperately needed, though they never would have articulated it. But being able to spread out naked on a mattress with Alice, instead of hurriedly finding ways to get her hands under Alice's clothes while cramped in the back of a hatchback had been a revelation.

The first time they had made love on board the Arcadia, Claire had spent an eternity just touching Alice's skin, leisurely trailing her fingers and lips over flesh she had never had a chance to clearly see or explore before. And the queen size bed they now occupied just opened up an entirely new realm of possibilities to them, possibilities they had spent the past four months discovering and rediscovering.

"Horny girlfriends are nice, too," Alice drawled playfully, nipping at Claire's freckled shoulder.

"I'll agree with you on that," Claire sighed, drawing a chuckle from the brunette.

She scrapped her nails indolently over the globes of Alice's ass after she spoke, and hummed contently when Alice moaned softly and arched into the touch. She had ridden Alice well, but the night had still belonged to the brunette, who had been quite insatiable.

Forcing herself to leave the warm nook of Claire's neck for a moment, Alice leaned back and twisted around until she was able to find the edge of the comforter and she yanked it up before setting back down and then drawing her arm around Claire when the redhead turned onto her side.

Alice breathed in deeply, taking in the scent of Claire's hair and their lovemaking, and as a feeling of peace washed over her she pressed a little closer to Claire and closed her eyes. The feelings of happiness that she experienced in quiet moments were still strange to her, though as the chaos of their lives calmed and the quiet moments increased, they became less jarring to her.

When the world ended, even though she had kept on breathing and kept on moving, in many ways it had felt to Alice as if her life had ended as well. Back then it she didn't force herself not to imagine a better life, she just honestly could not conceive of one. Finding the log book in that gas station outside of Salt Lake City had been the first time in years that she had she felt hope for something better blossom in her chest. Then, two days later, as she lay with Claire in the back of her yellow hatchback, her clothes dishevelled and her body relaxed as she luxuriated in the feel of another human body against hers, Alice had been able to believe, for the first time since slipping away from Carlos, Angie and Jill in Detroit five years before, that she might still be able to live a life with some kind of meaning.

Fishing with Chris, telling stories to the kids, chopping wood with Luther, making bracelets with K-Mart, talking to Claire, lying beside her, wrapped up together in a warm bed, Alice was more content then she could remember being in her entire adult life. It sometimes felt wrong to her, that she should feel so happy when beyond their isolated haven civilization had come to an end, and the world and all her creatures were slowly dying. But, when she felt Claire's lips brush against hers, or heard K-Mart laugh, or saw the little ones hurling snowballs at each other with as much force as their bandy arms could manage, it banished such sombre thoughts from her mind.

There was still life on the planet, there was still hope, and if humanity was to have any chance of taking back the earth once the infected had finally starved and died a final death, then she, and all others whose hearts still beat, had believe that they had the right to live, and prosper and be happy.

Alice snuggled even closer to Claire until she was practically on top of the redhead, and Claire made a soft sound before shifting in Alice's arms so that they were facing each other.

"What's wrong?" she asked, reaching out to stroke Alice's cheek, much as she had that first night in the desert in the back of her hatchback.

Despite the initial aloofness Alice had exhibited when they first met, after the first night they had intimately touched each other, Alice had always been physically demonstrative in private and often in public as well – holding Claire's hand or wrapping her arms around her waist and placing her chin on her shoulder while they stood around talking. The level of contact Alice was presently seeking was strange for her, however. Claire had only seen her that way on a few occasions in the past, and always Alice had been in the grip of some powerful emotion that she couldn't find a way to articulate or suppress.

"Nothing," Alice breathed out, lifting her hand to cover Claire's keeping it pressed against her cheek just like she had their first night together. "I mean it," she continued, smiling a little when Claire's brows creased together and her keen green eyes began to search her face. "I just ..." Alice began, but she closed her eyes as a swell of emotion overcame her.

Claire remained quiet, simply using her thumb to stroke Alice's cheek soothingly, knowing that her lover would continue when she felt able.

"I love you so much," Alice choked out raggedly a few seconds later, her blue eyes shimmering with barely contained tears when she opened them again, "I felt nothing for so long, that ... it's ... sometimes I don't know how to ... these feelings, they just overwhelm me."

Even before the experiments performed on her, and her being forced off of the grid to avoid Umbrella satellites, she had never been in love. She had dated, and later she'd had lovers whom she was very passionate about, but she had never been in love with any of them. She had no context for her feelings for Claire. Her past had not prepared her for what she was presently experiencing, and having such intense emotions emerge for the first time after the loneliest, most isolated, and demoralizing period in her life, sometimes left her feeling as if she was coming completely undone.

Claire's hand shifted so that she was cradling Alice's jaw. Tears began to sting her eyes as she saw the naked emotion swirling in the cerulean depths of Alice's eyes, and she leaned forward, bringing their lips together, kissing Alice desperately as tears born of love escaped the corners of her eyes.

"I love you too," she whispered into the kiss which had turned salty with her tears. "Beyond words ... beyond anything I've ever felt before," she sighed before capturing Alice's lips again.

She had not been alone for years as Alice had, but her time with the convoy had left scars on her heart, just as Alice's time wandering the back-roads of America by herself had left its mark on her. She had lost so many people, to illness and injury and the infected. She had tried so hard to keep them safe, and protected and alive, but in the end she had only managed to save a handful of them. In the months before Alice had arrived, the steady stream of losses had caused her to retreat into herself, and with the exception of Carlos and K-Mart who would not allow her to block them out, Claire had shut down in many ways.

Falling for Alice after months of shutting out her feelings had terrified her, and if Alice's own issues hadn't made her so strangely vulnerable, Claire would have tried to pull away from her too. But she hadn't been able to fathom heaping more abuse on someone who had clearly suffered deeply, and the truth was that she had needed Alice. She had needed the closeness of her body, the taste of her mouth, and the hope Alice made blossom in her heart, just as much as Alice had needed her. On their first night alone together onboard the Arcadia, Alice had whispered to Claire, as they lay wrapped up together, that Claire had brought her back to life. She hadn't been able to articulate the thought before, but upon hearing Alice's words, Claire knew that Alice had done the same for her, twice over.

When Claire finally pulled back from Alice's lips they were both breathless, just as overcome with emotion, and just as unable to find words to express the feelings coursing through them as they had been before. However, as they saw their feelings reflected in each other's eyes, they were comforted, because they knew that there was no reason to struggle to find words to explain that which already existed in both of their hearts.

In concert, they flowed towards each other once more and their lips met in gentle kiss. As the kiss broke, Claire stroked Alice's cheek one last time with her fingers, and then she turned in Alice's arms and lay with her back to the brunette once more. Alice immediately closed the scant distance between them until she was pressed as securely as possible against Claire's back, and then she drew her arm around Claire's waist and closed her eyes.

Claire sighed contently as Alice's arm wrapped around her, and thus enfolded in her lovers' embrace she too closed her eyes and within minutes they both of them had fallen into a peaceful sleep.

The End