I had a number of people congratulate me on getting through part IV without kissing. And you know, when I wrote it? I was kinda impressed with myself, too.
So now it's time to spoil yall's good opinion of me by posting the kissing omake ("extra") I wrote after I finished part IV the first time around. Because I am hopeless like that.
Note that while this does expect you to have read Part IV - it skips the whole intro bit - it does tell almost the same events in pretty much the same order, only with different language and, well, smooches. It's also much shorter, as you'll see. Feel free to skip down to the Author's Notes (if you read those); I wrote this for gits and shiggles, and aside from being the genesis of the cherries bit for the original, it doesn't add a whole lot besides kissing.
Warning given. If you're sticking, I do hope you enjoy. :)
Part IV: An Unexpected Smooch
He steps into the room to find Jill waiting, back to the door, body limned in the light of sunset. "Hey," he says, closing the door sharply. "You wanted to see me?"
She turns, and something sighs inside him: she looks more like Jill now than she did before. She's still got the blonde hair - though he'd heard she cut it really short - but she's wearing the standard BSAA pants and a blue pull over top and sure, she's pale, but she stands like Jill. And the smile she gives him, even with its little hesitations, is just like Jill, too.
"Hey," she says, moving to meet him at the head of the table. "Yeah, I did."
"What's up?" It feels weird to sound so casual, but it's the only thing that's coming out of his mouth right now.
Her eyes drift from his for a moment, then come back. "They're shipping me back to the 'States," she says.
He feels his eyes go wide, and though he wants to congratulate her, there are subtle signs that she's not pleased with this particular bit of news. He moves in further. "I think I'm supposed to say that's a good thing," he says, voice slow, "but you don't look like you're happy about it."
"I'm - okay with it," she says. Her eyes turn wistful. "It'll be nice to go back."
It'll be nice for you to be safe, he adds to himself. "But - " he says aloud, continuing her thought.
Her eyes drop. "I'm a little worried about why they're calling me back," she says, and the words sound - forced, as if she doesn't want to say them. "They're already talking the next round of tests, and with those come another debrief, and - " She sighs. "I was hoping the work here would be enough."
"When is onsite ever good enough for them?" he asks, and no, that's not bitterness in his voice in the slightest.
She looks up, though, and there's something brighter in her eyes. "I know," she says. "And I know that if it were me, and I had some random BSAA agent - "
"Important BSAA agent," he corrects.
" - who was supposed to be dead show up on my doorstep, I would ask for secondary confirmation, too. I would want to see them myself, ask them questions myself, get their samples to the lab myself." She sighs. "Wouldn't you, Chris?"
Before he can say anything, she adds, "If it were Wesker, for instance. Wouldn't you want to be cautious?"
He doesn't even have to think before he says, "I'd ride in the damn cargo hold with the body myself."
Her mouth quirks. "With the cold and the pressure problems? You'd end up a corpse yourself."
"Then he could ride in the cabin next to me," he growls, and her smile finally widens to something brighter, something that almost touches her eyes.
"You understand then," she says, voice quiet.
He sighs, and without thinking, reaches out to snag her hand. "I do," he says. "I've spent a lot of time dealing with HQ. They're not happy with me either right now, I'm sure."
"Is that why you're out there helping?"
He squeezes her hand. "You know why I'm out there helping," he says. "And I've seen some of your notes on the maps and reports, too. That won't go unnoticed, Jill."
She squeezes his hand back. "I hope not."
There's a moment of quiet between them, and it feels sort of stuffy and odd, like he's missing something. He breaks it with, "Thanks for calling me to tell me this, Jill. I know you didn't have to do it in person."
Her eyebrows go up. "Like I could do it any other way," she says. "That's not the way partners work, Chris."
Something about the way she says that word warms him; always has, and does even more, now.
"Especially since I'm leaving tomorrow morning. Early." She makes a face. "More like late tonight, really."
He grins; Jill is a forced member of the Morning Person tribe, and she has never been fond of early morning flights. "I could've gotten up," he says.
Her face softens suddenly. "Maybe," she says, "but that's not all I wanted to say."
She catches his other hand in hers, and for a moment, her head tilts down. An emotion stirs in his stomach, poignant and odd, one that makes him want to shift and let go of her fingers. They feel very warm against his.
"What is it, Jill?" he finally asks, unable to last another thirty seconds.
"I wanted to - to - " She shakes her head a little, then looks back up at him. Her face seems confused, but her eyes are clear and full of will. "I wanted to thank you, Chris," she says. "For coming after me."
He stares at her.
She squeezes his hands again. "I've heard, a little, about what you went through. About how you didn't...stop." The corner of her mouth curls up. "I've heard that you've been like this for the past few months, like you knew something and weren't saying anything. So - "
Suddenly she drops his hands, and like that, she's in his space. She pushes up on her toes in a movement that seems slow and graceful, and her lips glance across his cheek. Her eyes meet his for a second, and there's something besides will in them, even as she drops back to the ground, still standing close him.
Much closer than she had been.
"Thanks, Chris," she says, her voice soft and husky.
He touches her face without thinking. "There's no need to thank me," he says, and his voice now matches hers in its own way, a low vibration of air.
Her mouth curves that little bit again, and her eyes meet his. "Yes," she says, "there is." The words seem to barely disturb the air, though they draw his attention to her mouth. She doesn't wear anything in the field besides chapstick, Jill, but they look redder. Moist.
His eyes track back to hers as his thumb strokes her face, and when they meet, it's like a jolt from head to toe, a feeling of openness so rarely shared this fully between them. "Jill," he hears himself say, as he closes the distance between them. "It's what any partner would've done."
"Not just any - " she starts as her body rises.
The kiss cuts off the last of her words, or is what her words were leading to. It is gentle and warm, and it only lasts a second or so, a quick meeting. It is a kiss from him, a touch as light as he can bear.
The kiss that follows it is still warm, but it's not as gentle, and it lasts longer than a second. It is a kiss from her, her mouth catching his.
The kiss that follows that is warmer still, and open mouthed, and it lasts. His arms naturally fit around her as her hands slide along his sleeves; his head tilts and she follows, open mouth slanting across his, tongue touching the edge of his lip.
And then it all merges into a single kiss between the both of them.
She is so warm. She smells a little of generic soap and tastes mostly of nothing at all, but it's all background to the warmth that slithers between them. Her fingers leave spots of heat on his sleeves and back, and when her nails stroke the skin above his collar he almost hisses. His fingers move along the back of her shirt - a man's shirt, faded to softness - trailing the curve from hip to spine, somewhat in time to the stroke of the kiss between them. He feels as though he should touch her more, and at the same time that he can't, that touching her skin now will make this too real, too much.
Then Jill pulls back, just enough to break the kiss. "Chris," she whispers, her lips ghosting over his, making it hard to resist the urge to close the distance. "Chris, I - "
The stairwell door slams. Loudly.
Like that, they're on opposite sides of the table, both looking at the door. There's a long moment of listening for footsteps, fingers brushing clothes back into place, and he can almost feel a breeze from the both of them rifling their minds for an excuse. Just in case.
No footsteps, not even the creak of a floorboard. Another minute passes, and then they look back at each other. His eyes skim over her: there's receding color in her cheeks, but other than that, she looks untouched. Just fine. Just like Jill.
She's doing the same appraisal, and there's a moment when their eyes meet - and then look away.
He feels himself flinch. This isn't how their last meeting should end, unable to look at each other. This is not the memory he wants to send Jill away with. But he can't think of anything to break the silence that hangs between them.
To be honest, he'd much rather be kissing her again. Which is...also a problem, but not one he wants to deal with right now. He's not sure -
Jill clears her throat, breaking his chain of thought. "I should get back to my room," she says. "Finish packing."
"Yeah, with that early flight."
Another moment of stupid silence.
"When - when do you think you'll be back?"
Something in her voice makes him lift his head, look at her. "Last estimate I heard was a week," he says. "I'm guessing more like a week and a half."
"Mid-March," she murmurs.
"Sounds about right."
Her head tilts, and then her eyes flick up to his, a shy expression in them. "Any longer than that, and you'll miss the cherries again."
He manages to hold her eyes, manages a little smile. "I do keep doing that," he says. "Claire - she's given up on me."
"Maybe you should try harder this year."
He gives a little shrug. "I'll see what I can do."
Their eyes meet again, and do not deflect.
"Jill - "
She taps her fingers on the table, cutting him off. "I'd better go."
He swallows his apology, a little unnerved by the look in her eye. "All right," he says.
She moves around the table, and he can't keep his eyes from tracking her as she moves past. He wants to chalk it up to partner habits or the missing two years, but - that's not all of it. Not right now.
Then, without a word, she stops, turns, and looks at him. Before he can move, she sweeps in and kisses him. It's not the full kiss of before, but it's not just a peck, either, and she holds it long enough to make sure her point comes across. She breaks off and takes a step back just as his brain starts nudging him to do the same. Her hand trails along his shoulder and rests at his neck for a second, then slips up to curve against the side of his face. It makes his eyes meet hers, meet and hold.
"Hurry home, partner," she says, voice low and husky again.
He stares at her a moment, brain in a swirl, before he manages a nod.
She gives him a small, tight smile, then turns and slips out the door.
And so ends this story of Chris and Jill.
Just for fun, have a little background on this whole adventure aka Author's Notes aka Ten Babbles Like a Babbling Thing
I started this story based on an idea from the Lovely Beta Faye last July, when it was known as "Five Hickeys." My first draft of it went up for her on the 19th of July, 2010. The last draft of it was checked by her on the 19th of September, 2011.
To say I sometimes have a long lead time is something of an understatement. "Vacation" took a couple of days to write, was done in late July 2010, and went up in November. In contrast, this story had Parts I, II, and IV (it and the outtake) done very quickly, but then Parts III and V didn't work out so well. One of the reasons was that Part IV used to be Part III, and Part V used to be Part IV. The original Part V was going to take place out on a mission, involving covert snuggling between Chris and Jill, and a marriage proposal from Jill based on an easier commute and better tax breaks.
(She was kidding about those reasons. Mostly.)
Eventually, I added the bridging Part III set in the BSAA years and shifted up Parts IV and V. Part V got written and set long before Part III did, though; both of them went through numerous different tries and rewrites. I am tempted to post somewhere every example I came up with for Part III, including the other one I completed and eventually stole bits from. The whole idea of the "nice" bite in Part III actually came from Lovely Beta Himawari, who suggested I should be less dramatic for one of these. Part V, on the other hand, was roughly the same set piece for a long time, just with different intros and exits to the bathroom. I got mightily sick of it in the last month and a half and took stabs at rewriting it from a completely different angle, but again, the Lovely Beta Himawari pointed out that going simple was better, and she liked Chris's midnight thoughts with the mirror. Lovely Beta Faye made me pare and pare and pare and pare and pare and pare down the post-RE 5 details I kept including in order to better fit the frame story. I wrote many other things to work out my frustration. All in all, I still want to stab Parts III and V in a sensitive place, but since it all managed to come together in the end, I'll spare them. For now.
Next up for Ten, we have four possibilities, along with the Epic Stories of Ridiculousness I keep writing in the background:
-"Five Other Firsts": A look at other ways Jill and Chris could've possibly met outside of S.T.A.R.S.
-"Dancing in the Dark": Jill teaches Chris to dance Latin one late Saturday night at the BSAA gym.
-"Corporate Training": In order to secure Jill's final reinstatement, Chris and Jill are required to give a training seminar on zombies to two very different groups.
-"Batman, I'm Not": Awhile back I received some intel that my old partner was still alive. A look at Chris's life through diary entries and random scenes from August of 2008 to March of 2009. Prequel to Blues, aka the Epic Stories of Ridiculousness (coming to an Internet website near you no sooner than 2012).
Voting will probably not affect what does come next, but if you want to toss in your two cents, feel free. However the posting order goes, I do hope to see yall there. :)
Thank you again for reading; it is much appreciated, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed writing and fighting the idea.