Disclaimer & Notices: Please see Chapter 1.

A/N: It's hard to believe this is the last piece of REP. I'm also very appreciative and warmed by all the support I had from so many readers. This was my first Resident Evil story, and I had my concerns about doing a decent job in those first chapters. But the feedback helped me see it was worth continuing and even trying other RE fanfiction. I've certainly fallen for the Claire/Alice pairing after the movies and fanfiction. Most importantly, the reader support in this fandom is outstanding. I will not be able to thank each of you enough. Please enjoy this last update, and I hope to see y'all in a sequel. :)

Anony Reviews:

Giselle: I love to hear "great" and that you're waiting for the next update. :) Hopefully it wasn't a long wait for you. Thank you very much for the feedback!

"No Name": Thank you for the feedback. Hopefully you'll enjoy the last update, and it's just as great for you.

kaz: I'm afraid we won't have an answer on Janus & Dr. Green in this story. Some items have to be left for the sequel, I suppose. :) But I agree, it was definitely obvious that Alice & Claire already loved each other - just had a hard time voicing it 'til that point. I appreciate the wonderful feedback and hope the last update is as amazing.

Sync: Yes! That's the story behind the title. Alice's powers are reborn and so is her love, for herself and humanity. I'm glad you got a kick out of the title. ;) Thank you kindly for the review too!

Started: August 1, 2011

Series: One Shot


Resident Evil: Phoenix

Epilogue

Claire Redfield shifted for the umpteenth time in the rather hard chair. A mental note was made to have cushions added to the wood chairs. Lately the council meetings were growing longer and longer. But they were rather necessary so that the city of Angela could continue growing, strengthening, and preparing for the war. Finally, it was time to vote on the new ordinance for Angela so that a small police force could be put into effect. To head it was Jill Valentine, who initially believed it would be important and instill safety among the residence. But it wouldn't be a very large force considering it was only Jill, Chris, and possibly three other deputies depending on the council's opinion.

After straightening up, Claire called for votes from the council members. She was pleased by the unanimous vote to approve the small police force. She exchanged a smile with Jill and Chris before they rejoined the audience of civilians. But her attention remained on the audience for a moment so she could make sure the next presenters were there. A nervous sensation skittered down her spine, and she knew it was Alice.

Claire softly cleared her throat then looked at the fourteen council members that represented the city. She loudly explained, "Our last order of business is in regards to a military branch of our state." She studied everybody's serious features. "Currently, Angela is without a formal military, and it is imperative that we come to an agreement on one." She glanced at the audience and noted that the two presenters were coming out of the seating area. She held out her hand to the presenters that entered into the center of the chamber. "Alice Abernathy and her sister, Casey Abernathy, will be speaking to us." Speaking again, Claire mentally added.

Casey lingered a step behind Alice as they took a stance before the city council. She wiped her damp palms against her khaki pants. She sure wasn't use to looking nice, and it was noticeable for Alice too.

Alice appeared calm on the exterior. But she was quite anxious since she rarely spoke before an audience of people, until more recently. She couldn't honestly recall doing this except for several training sessions with new Umbrella security recruits in the former Raccoon City facility. The memories faded away after Alice focused on the challenge before her. She and Casey had to present their ideas better than their past attempts so that it'd be passed. She knew Claire expected a proper presentation of the reshaped proposal from her and Casey.

After clearing her voice, Alice opened up with a proper greeting then introduction despite the council and audience knew them. She started out discussing the perils that faced Angela, the residence, and the newly born government that they'd created. Casey then took over and explained why a military needed to be created and maintained. Alice followed up by how they planned to establish the military and what duties would fall under the military. Finally it was time for questions and open discussion, which twisted Alice's stomach.

"I believe we should be greatly concerned with Claire Redfield's position in the government and Alice Abernathy's potential role as leader of the military," Councilor Gary Wise spoke up first. "We must consider the power in their positions due to the nature of their relationship."

Claire curled her hand on the chair's arm. She bit her tongue first before something snide came out. It had been her idea to create the council so that the survivors had a voice and made decisions.

"Perhaps you could point out a survivor as qualified as Alice to head the military?" Luther West instantly countered.

Gary shifted his eyes solely to the other councilor, Luther. "It is not a question of skills and experience, but concern for the power that we bestow upon them when they are romantically involved."

Claire bowed her head slightly while her temper calmed down so she could think clearly. Alice's training helped her calm the G-virus's edge. She sensed that Alice was doing the same thing.

"Have they misguided us so far?" another councilor asked. "I don't see the concern."

"That is why there are safeguards in place for my position," Claire spoke up first. She scanned the councilor's faces but paused on Gary Wise. "Just as there would be for the military."

This time, Gary Wise remained quiet and nobody else rekindled his concern. He sighed then looked at Alice and Casey in the center of the chambers.

Another council member asked how the military would take soldiers in and what would be expected of the soldiers. It wasn't that far different than how the former United State's once maintained their troops. That spawned several more inquiries that Alice and Casey each handled together. Casey started considering whether they were losing votes already, again. But a military wasn't a light hearted topic by any means.

Claire straightened up after a silence lingered in the chambers. She'd had a question from the start but withheld it until this moment. She gripped the chair's handles and centered her attention on her partner, who became quite anxious inwardly. "Alice, you were an employee of Umbrella, correct?"

Alice nodded once then honestly replied, "I worked in security at the Raccoon City Facility for ten years. I was the Head of Security just before the outbreak." She caught several suspicious glances from other council members, and it put her on edge. She wasn't sure what Claire had in mind by bringing up her employment with Umbrella.

"You have intimate knowledge of how Umbrella operates... their procedures, and even their values." Claire tilted her head and waited for her partner.

Alice struggled not to fold her arms against her chest. But her hands still fisted slightly. An engrained memory jumped forefront in her mind, and she loudly recited, "Obedience Breeds Discipline, Discipline Breeds Unity, Unity Breeds Power... Power is Life." She slightly lifted her chin.

Casey bowed her head because Umbrella's motto rang in her ears. A chill traveled down her spine.

"That is Umbrella's belief," Alice informed the council. She searched all the concerned faces.

Claire nodded then shifted in her seat. She carefully posed, "What is there to assure us that you will not return to Umbrella?" She waved her hand in the air and suggested, "Perhaps you still work for them now." She was reminded of Leon Kennedy.

Luther slotted his eyes at Claire Redfield and the ridiculous notion. He nearly opened his mouth until Alice's voice filled the chambers again.

"Umbrella took my humanity," Alice fought. She held her partner's eyes. "I was lied to, manipulated, tortured, experimented on, and controlled by Umbrella." She shook her head and starkly added, "I lost my humanity, my memories, and my friends to those bastards." Finally she looked at the other council members.

Claire bit her lower lip then prepared to bring up the hardest question for her partner. She took a deep breath then asked, "Then perhaps it's just a means for you to seek revenge on Umbrella?" Most likely many councilors and residence would be concerned with Alice's purpose behind the military.

Alice stayed calm and replied, "No." Her one word was held a firmness that didn't allow any councilor to remain worried anymore. "If it was about revenge for me then I would not be here among humans who struggle to trust me." She knew she couldn't be argued by that point. "I could easily have revenge on my own."

Several councilors nodded at Alice's truthfulness. Indeed a few councilors were quite cautious about Alice's presence in Angela. But they also saw how hard she worked to stay with the humans despite the uneasiness among them all.

"Perhaps this is about vengeance," Alice spoke up. "It's vengeance for those people we've lost. For those people that still walk without a beating heart. And for what damage has be done to the planet." She scanned the councilors' faces. "It's about stopping Umbrella and saving humans from annihilation."

Claire was pleased by how her partner handled the questions. She could sense a positive shift in the councilors' attitudes, which had been her plan. She canted her head and slightly grinned. "Just one last question." After Alice's nod, she asked, "Have you decided on a name for the military branch?"

Alice had a grin tugging at her lips because that'd been a discussion between her, Casey, and Claire last night while they went over things. "Yes." She slightly turned to her sister. "Casey picked it this morning."

Casey took the hint and smiled at the council. "We picked the name TerraSave."

Claire's smile grew wider. The name had a nice meaning behind it and fit perfectly to what they envisioned the military doing, not just for Angela but the world. She shifted some and studied the councilors. It was time now.

"What say you, council?"

After Claire's call, she tensely waited for each vote to go around the chamber until the last member gave their decision. Tension faded from Claire after she counted eleven positive votes, two against, and one abstained vote. She let out a low breath but turned a smile onto Alice and Casey.

"The Council of Angela hereby approves the new military division named TerraSave." Claire felt her smile grow larger, and she happily called, "Congratulations." What she didn't expect was the applause coming from the audience off to the right. She was further surprised by several council members standing up and clapping too.

Casey let out a low laugh from relief and shock. She grabbed at Alice's arm and smiled. "We did it, finally."

Alice returned the smile and was amazed after six months and several prior attempts. But today proved to be the final win over the council. "Now we're in for it." She and Casey traded low laughs because they knew they'd be taking direct orders from Claire.

Casey realized they were being surrounded by both council members and people from the audience. But she was warmed by Claire's arrival, and she received a hug.

"Congratulations, Casey," Claire murmured into the clone's ear. She squeezed a bit harder before she shifted over to her partner.

Alice lost the last bit of stress once Claire hugged her tightly. She was still slightly dazed that they had TerraSave approved by the council.

"Congratulations too," Claire affectionately whispered near her partner's sensitive ear. She kissed Alice on the cheek before they withdrew. Her smile was full and her eyes held pride.

"That was awesome," K-Mart stated once she joined the group. She took Casey's side and gave her a congratulatory hug. "I'm really proud of you."

Casey had flushed cheeks at her friend's compliment. She cleared her throat and took a step aside because K-Mart wanted to hug Alice too. Once K-Mart returned to her side, she asked, "Do you still need help for tonight?"

K-Mart dramatically sighed and bent her knees a bit. "Yes. You feel up to helping?"

"All night," Casey joked.

Claire heard the pair talking about tonight's event, which was a Winter Solstice Festival that K-Mart opted to do for the city. It'd be a big event gathering before the council and other officials took a two week break after so much work for the past six months.

"Can we help?" Alice chimed in next.

Claire shook her head and explained, "I can in a few hours. I need to finish up paperwork." She felt guilty, but city affairs required her attention first. She didn't doubt that she'd be going to her office over the break.

K-Mart nodded. "That'd be great." But her eyes cut to Luther, Chris, and Jill after they managed to wiggle through the crowd. She smiled at the next round of hugs and congratulations. She and Casey then said goodbye before they headed off to get the festival ready for tonight.

However, Alice decided to walk Claire to her office before she joined K-Mart and Casey. She was glad to get out of the council chambers and into fresh air.

Claire fixed her ball cap then shifted closer to her partner because tonight was cool because of the breeze off the ocean. She peered up at Alice and smiled again. "You did a great job."

Alice huffed, but she smiled despite herself. "Your questions caught me off guard."

"That was the idea," Claire bantered. She and Alice continued down the path to the office building meant for the council members and Claire.

Alice entered first and held the thatch door. She waited until Claire passed then they continued down the hall. She paused in front of Claire's office door and faced her partner.

"You're going to go help K-Mart?" Claire confirmed.

"Yes." Alice was warmed by Claire getting closer to her.

"I'll be there as soon as I can," the leader softly promised. She drew Alice down for a kiss that she'd wanted earlier. She hummed afterwards then gave a lopsided grin. "I'll see you." She grabbed the wood handle to the thatch door.

Alice gave a content sigh then headed out of the building. But each step made her grin more and more. She tried picturing her partner's reaction even though she was starting to feel it, right now.

Claire stared rather oddly at the object perched in a clay vase in the center of her desk. She wasn't sure it was real, but the sunlight from the window behind the desk brightly shined against the metallic surface. Curiously, Claire approached the desk then gently picked up the rather unique flower.

It stood no more than seven inches tall and was every bit fabricated from well polished stainless steel. The stem was made from a quarter-twenty bolt with a hex head at the base. Two pedals were welded near the top and were once nuts for the bolt. Proudly at the top, the actual flower spread out in perfect size from a mixture of welded flat washers and fender washers. Many washers were carefully bent upwards to give the flower more body and life. But what rested in the center of the flower was a single acorn nut that'd been painted red and bolted the flower to the stem.

Amazement continued overwhelming Claire for several minutes while she studied the flower. She gently turned the flower until a small engraving on the stem caught her eye. She lifted it higher and smiled at her partner's few yet meaningful words on the flower. Claire smiled brightly and shook her head at her partner's affection. Alice's romantic gesture was not at all expected by Claire. If she thought she had Alice somewhat figured out, she still had plenty to learn yet.

Claire gently placed the flower into the tall vase then moved it to the corner of her desk. She went behind the desk and sat down in front of all the paperwork. But her mind wasn't focused on the work, and she stared at the metal flower. Claire couldn't shake her thoughts of Alice after five minutes so she pushed her chair back.

"Hell with it," the leader muttered. She faced the open window, grabbed the rolled mat, and closed up the window. She went to the door but paused and studied the flower for another moment. That silly grin came over her. The damn paperwork could wait until later, Claire decided. She quietly left.

At the center of the island, the city of Angela was buzzing with several volunteers, who were helping K-Mart prepare for the festival. Among the chaos was Alice, and she quickly became the muscle. She and Casey easily moved any heavy items around without any trouble. Only Casey had a slight sheen of sweat after half an hour.

"A liiiiiittle more that way." K-Mart indicated to the sisters, who were getting agitated by K-Mart's perfection.

"There?" Casey snapped. She swore she'd repay K-Mart later for this because she was almost sure that K-Mart was doing this on purpose.

"Right there," K-Mart insisted. She grinned after Casey and Alice lowered the nicely decorated palm tree that was in a huge clay pot. She imaged the damn thing had to weigh two hundred pounds if not more.

Casey approached K-Mart and had a hand on her lower back. "I'm going to hurt tonight."

K-Mart brushed it off and muttered, "Old lady."

Casey glowered but insisted, "You owe me later."

K-Mart now smirked and argued, "I recall you volunteering earlier."

"I changed my mind," Casey declared.

K-Mart chuckled and tempted, "Then what do you have in mind?" She lost the smirk when Casey stepped into her space. She shut her eyes as Casey's whisper brushed across her ear and made her flush, bright red.

Alice folded her arms and refrained from rolling her eyes at the two friends. She wondered how much longer K-Mart could hold out from Casey's constant pursuit for a romantic relationship. But her thoughts were disrupted by Claire's rather early arrival. She knew what'd caused it, and she grinned at her partner beelining for her.

Claire went directly to her partner, and barely stole a glance at Casey and K-Mart. For the first time, she didn't give a damn about the public eye and drew Alice in for a long kiss. She softly moaned once their dancing tongues withdrew, and she gently nipped on Alice's bottom lip. She continued cupping Alice's left cheek and huskily whispered, "I love you too."

Alice had hot cheeks that were lightly dusted by a blush. There were plenty of eyes on them after Claire's sensual kiss. She took Claire's hand into hers then shyly smiled at her partner. "Your favorite species of flower, I take it?"

Claire softly laughed and whispered, "It is." She and Alice traded smiles before they looked at Casey and K-Mart. She cleared her throat after the smirks she received from the pair. "So," she started, "Is this festival ready, or what?" She hoped to get K-Mart in gear rather than the stares.

K-Mart refocused on her task and took charge again. She directed everybody and continued getting the last items done on her list before it was time to go and clean up. They moved quickly and finished everything within an hour, which left them with three hours before the festival would start. K-Mart thanked the large group of volunteers and promised to see them this evening at sunset.

As promised, the festival began at sunset and every survivor met at the market where K-Mart was holding it. Music softly filled the market and freshly grilled food drifted in the air. There was plenty of grilled fresh pork that'd been recently hunted earlier today. To add to the menu was seafood, fresh fruit, and plenty of white honey that'd been cultivated from over the summer. The entertainment kept the survivors full of cheer and several events caused a roar of laughter.

But as the night wore on, a few people drifted home after they bid goodnight and thanked K-Mart for the festival. At that point, K-Mart shifted the evening to simply dancing from the classic Christmas songs that the small band performed in the market. People paired up for a night of dancing.

K-Mart was checking on the desert table and drinks to make sure everything was going well. A warm presence slipped behind her then her waist was gently hooked. She half turned, bestowing a smile on Casey.

"Can I have this dance?" Casey huskily asked.

K-Mart revealed a flush, and her nose crinkled up. She usually didn't dance, which included tonight so far. However, the song's tender beat lend to a slow dance that was hard to refuse. After a faint nod, she was led to the dance floor. K-Mart and Casey found an open space and slipped into each others' arms.

Casey adjusted her hand on her dancing partner's mid back then tangled their fingers together. She sensed K-Mart's other arm hook around her lower waist. She started the dance and guided them across the floor.

K-Mart briefly stole a glance at the various couples on the floor. She spotted Chris drawing Jill onto the dance floor. Then Alice and Claire were directly across from them, softly talking while they glided to the song. K-Mart smiled at their apparent bond that K-Mart became more aware of once she accepted the T-virus in her blood.

Casey bowed her head slightly and whispered, "The festival has gone well." She softened at the smile directed at her.

"It has," K-Mart quietly agreed. Another flush started though once K-Mart noticed Casey's open affection. She slightly dipped her head and considered how far she and Casey had come since they'd met. They'd become inseparable in the past six months. K-Mart couldn't imagine her future without Casey in it.

"Dinar for your thoughts," Casey murmured.

K-Mart was shaken from her thoughts by the odd currency instead of a penny. Her question lit up in her eyes.

Casey slightly parted her lips, but she faltered from explaining how Alice loved ancient history and majored in it during college. Each new day made Casey become her own individual rather than constantly mirroring Alice anymore. She merely shrugged at K-Mart then revealed, "I love ancient history. A dinar was Roman currency."

K-Mart grinned for a heartbeat, but it slipped as she went serious. "We've become close."

Casey softly hummed in agreement. "Very close," she whispered.

K-Mart inwardly measured just how close. Intimacy hadn't slipped into the relationship, but that hadn't ceased the physical closeness that'd built up over the months. Each touch grew more telling of the other's feelings, and K-Mart slipped into a comfortable yet curious place with her friend. Despite the closeness, she craved more and couldn't find a way to grasp more. K-Mart initially didn't understand why she felt the need for a greater closeness with Casey, but it was very palpable and stronger each day. Only recently had K-Mart figured out what'd cause it, thanks to a talk with Claire.

"But it's not enough," K-Mart confessed to her friend. She didn't expect Casey's gentle grin.

Casey peered over her friend's shoulder and carefully maneuvered them away from another couple. She huskily whispered, "We both know there's more." She gazed back at her friend. Some time ago on the Arcadia, she and K-Mart had a late night discussion about a T-virus bond that would take them to another level. They'd settled on waiting, mostly for K-Mart's peace of mind.

"I feel like my life... my existence will end if I don't bond soon," K-Mart weakly admitted.

Casey ruefully smiled because she understood her friend's concerns and experience. As the days passed Casey, she battled deeper with her inner need to bond so that she could continue her existence in this life.

"It's the T-virus," K-Mart whispered.

Casey shook her head and argued, "Every human wishes to mate, but in our case the T-virus has multiplied and deepened that desire." She ran her thumb across K-Mart's knuckles. "It is extremely hard to withhold it." She wondered how her sister, Janus, dealt with it day in and day out, especially with no partner insight.

K-Mart had a furrow in her brow that was unusual. "Claire never said anything about this."

Casey chuckled and explained, "Nor did she and Alice wait. If they'd waited to bond then they'd suffer our little enjoyment."

K-Mart blew out a breath because she didn't find it enjoyable, especially because it was becoming more and more apparent in her. Soon it would be her only focus in life if she didn't bond. She couldn't imagine what would happen if she didn't have a mate to choose from, like she did with Casey. What would ultimately happen to her if she didn't have Casey? She shivered just at the thought.

Casey paused from K-Mart's involuntarily tremble, but she also noticed that the Christmas song had ended and gone to another slow song. She slightly shook her head and renewed their slow dance along with the discussion. "You don't have to choose me as your blood partner." A stiffness entered her shoulders after K-Mart gave her a dark glare.

"I thought we had that part decided," K-Mart remarked. She dared her friend to argue it further.

Casey sighed and lowered her head closer. "I'm not exactly... normal, K."

K-Mart rolled her eyes at Casey's reference to being a clone. She freed herself from Casey then hooked her hands behind Casey's neck and drew them closer together so their swaying hips were touching. Once strong arms were around her waist, she starkly reminded, "Like I give a damn." She admired Casey's appreciative smile.

Casey had grown more confident about herself thanks to K-Mart's support in her past. K-Mart's voice made her refocus on her friend.

"I just... can't help but wonder if this is happening because it has to or because we feel something for each other." K-Mart wasn't sure if she made sense at all.

Casey softly laughed and posed, "Nature versus nurture?"

K-Mart crinkled her nose at her friend and realized that was it. "Yeah."

"Maybe it's a little bit of both," Casey answered. "And does it really matter?" She slipped a hand under her dance partner's shirt and caressed the silky skin underneath it.

K-Mart enjoyed the light strokes at her lower back. She finally shrugged and murmured, "Maybe not."

Casey nodded once. "So..." She weakly prompted and easily faltered. She'd become more self-assured recently, but she wasn't completely there in the relationship. Casey waited on K-Mart's opinion about their topic.

K-Mart easily pick up on her friend's thoughts and smiled. "I'm ready."

Casey hesitated in the next step and came to a gradual stop near a corner on the busy dance floor. "Ready?" She had superior strength, yet it did nothing to support her weakened knees. "You're ready?" she repeated in a shaky voice.

K-Mart nodded then snaked her fingers up into blond locks at the back of Casey's head. "I'm ready," she softly repeated. All the worries were silenced by their earlier discussion and left a clear path for K-Mart. "For us." She drew Casey closer until their lips met for the first time.

Initial shock faded away, and Casey began responding to the kiss. Her lips brushed across K-Mart's for a second before they pressed tighter. Once tongues slid against each other, a moan escaped between their lips and encouraged the passion. K-Mart clung tighter to Casey once the overwhelming sensations sparked to life in her chest and rushed to her stomach. Her blood excitedly burned against her skin as it yearned for a bond it so needed for life.

Casey was breathing hard after she withdrew from the kiss. She studied the blue ring that'd formed around K-Mart's eyes and told her the T-virus surfaced in K-Mart. She knew it well anymore. But she still was unsure about earlier. "We can bond soon," she whispered.

K-Mart grinned and continued running her fingers along Casey's jaw line. She brought Casey lower then rasped, "Now." She teased Casey with a gentle nip at Casey's bottom lip. "Tonight," she breathed out. She continued their earlier kiss that caught a few other dancing couples' attention.

Alice had a clear line of sight of Casey and K-Mart in the corner, until she and Claire turned on the dance floor. She grinned and shook her head. "They waited a long time," she murmured.

Claire knew it'd been K-Mart's decision too. But a smile smoothed across her lips because, like Alice, she knew the pair would bond soon. "Not all blood partners are going to be quick as us."

Alice acted offended and argued, "We weren't quick." She would have playfully yanked Claire's hat down, but Claire wasn't wearing it tonight.

Claire chuckled and squeezed Alice closer. "You keep telling yourself that one." She and Alice traded a grin this time. But the slow song now switched, and Claire had her fill of dancing tonight. "Come on." She broke away from Alice but still held hands.

Alice was curious yet followed her partner from the party. She easily took Claire's side once they were out of the crowd and into open space. "Going home already?" she teased.

Claire smirked. "No." She followed a path that would take them to the beach. "Not tonight."

Alice hummed. It was hard to say what Claire had in mind, but she was certainly willing to follow. "K-Mart's festival went well, I think."

"It did," Claire agreed. She hadn't been sure at first until she saw K-Mart getting it organized, which showed a lot of maturity on her sister's part. "Hopefully she'll do it next year." Just the idea that they all could be around another year was new. But that possibility had grown much more solid after they made it to Hawaii, which was hardly infested by the virus. Thankfully the sterilizing went quickly for Alice and Casey and only one island was left to do.

Claire went past two palm trees before she entered the barren beach. She noticed how the crescent moon caused the white sand to reflect a silver hue. She absolutely loved it and decided they had to take off their boots.

"You and Casey are going to have your work cut out after the break," the leader reminded her partner.

Alice was rolling the pant legs up after taking her boots and socks off. "There's a lot to get ready," she sadly agreed. She stood after collecting the boots into her left hand. Easily her freehand slipped into Claire's.

"Our next proposal is the Nevada facility," Claire reminded. Already she was working on how to present that to the council.

"I'm not sure how well the council will like the idea of moving an Umbrella lab to Angela."

Claire shook her head and argued, "We need them here. If we lose the work that Doctor Green has done on the vaccine then we'll be damned." She frowned and added, "Plus we need Sarah moved here." She peered hopefully up at Alice. "If we can get Sarah back online with the satellites, maybe we can take them from Umbrella."

Alice hadn't considered this aspect, and her eyes narrowed tightly. "Umbrella no longer has an AI." The Red Queen was long gone, and now they had the White Queen, Sarah, on their side. She hadn't accounted for this edge they had over Umbrella.

"I just hope we can trust Sarah," Claire murmured.

Alice frowned and nodded at her partner's worries. "There are ways to control her."

Claire now had the frown and gazed up at her partner. "But just how far can we go with that?" She had a displeased look. "Sarah is becoming sentient and self-aware."

Alice sighed and shook her head at the leader's strong points.

"That'd be like imposing slavery on her," Claire whispered. She sighed once she saw how their discussion was plaguing her partner. She squeezed Alice's hand and attempted, "Let's save work for another day."

Alice sadly smiled at her partner and squeezed the small hand in hers. "Like two weeks from now."

Claire chuckled but nodded. She noted they were coming around a bend, and a smile tugged at her lips. Straight ahead about a hundred feet was a small camp outlined in the moonlight.

Alice paused then looked down at her partner. "Claire..." She wanted to know how this had happened without her knowledge.

Claire tugged on her partner and softly ordered, "Come on." She drew Alice to the camp made in the soft sands. There was an unlit campfire and spare firewood next to it then large blankets spread out nearby. Next to the blankets was a small pack that contained a few items.

Alice was surprised and asked, "When did you..."

Claire went to the pack after setting her boots down near the blankets. She was rooting around for the flintstones. "When you weren't paying attention," she teased.

Alice huffed because she always paid attention. She set her boots near Claire's then went over to the well made campfire that merely waited for a spark. She squatted next to it.

Claire came over and knelt down with flintstones. But an dancing light off to her left caught her eye.

Several electrical sparks danced in Alice's palm. Glowing blue eyes settled on Claire, and Alice offered, "I can help."

Claire quietly laughed and held up the flintstones. "I still like to do a few things the old fashion way." She brought the stones down under the twigs and carefully clapped them until sparks were jumping around.

Alice mirrored her partner's grin. Slowly the blue faded from her eyes and the tiny bolts were absorbed into her hand again. Soon flames danced in her eyes this time now that the campfire was brought to life.

Claire cupped the stones in her hand and waited for a minute to make sure the fire was strong enough. She was content and stood up. She returned to the pack, quickly putting the flintstones away.

Alice enjoyed the strong hands massaging her shoulders, and she peered up at her partner. She rose up and was taken down to the waterline where the ocean's peaceful sounds filled her.

Claire pushed red strands from her face after the breeze moved them. She moved in closer to Alice, her arm across Alice's lower back.

Alice tightened her arm across her partner's shoulders. Briefly she enjoyed the wholeness she felt by having Claire in her life. She smiled and closed her eyes. Their bond swelled in her chest and gave her a heaven that was only theirs. She turned her head and nuzzled her partner's soft hair. "I love you."

Claire rested against her partner's supportive frame. She contently sighed and whispered, "I love you too." She curled her fingers around Alice's soft curve under the dark shirt. Several minutes passed while they absorbed their bond and mother nature's beauty.

But Alice was jarred by the sudden, sharp nervousness that entered their bond. She hadn't expected it and caused her hearts to quicken, excessively. She grew worried and studied her partner's taut features. "What is it?"

Claire gripped Alice tighter, but it didn't settle her nerves. She had practiced this several times, in her head. But this was real now. Claire hesitantly met her partner's concerned features. "I don't know how long we'll share this life together."

Alice freed from her partner and faced her. She saw the bittersweet smile on Claire's face, and it didn't ease anything. She held Claire's hand in hers. Quickly Alice's fears crept into her chest and caused her mind to go in every direction.

"Every breath of it is precious to us," Claire murmured. She took Alice's other hand into her free one. She took a step closer and held Alice's eyes. "You brought me light."

Alice slightly shook her head because she believed that Claire gave her the light. But soft fingers pulled her head forward again.

"We won't share ourselves with anybody else," Claire stated with promise. Long ago she saw that mirrored in Alice's eyes. Yet still the tension rekindled in her chest and caused Alice to become scared that something was seriously wrong. Claire tightened their hands as a tender smile began to shine. "Alice, will you be my wife?"

A long stillness passed through Alice once Claire's proposal surfaced between them. She gasped for her next breath after her initial fears were taken away by Claire's proposal. What Alice feared was going to hurt her was in fact so beautiful. This time it was Alice that gave a nervous laugh from an intense moment, and it helped release the lingering effects of her worries. Her chest rose and fell with excitement from the proposal.

"Yes," Alice softly responded in a rushed breath. She quickly claimed her partner's soft lips and affirmed her answer. She could feel Claire's relief then sudden flood of happiness. Alice smiled into the next kiss and tenderly repeated, "Yes."

The End.