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Chapter 31: Your Love means Everything
"And at once I knew I was not magnificent."
The inside of the base was cold, everyone had to wrap themselves in blankets until Barry and Billy could figure out the heating circulation. They only had one generator for use and one for backup in case of an emergency. The men just couldn't figure the damn thing out. Claire hadn't seen Wesker yet. Maybe it was because she didn't want to. Last time, he had this feral look in his eye. One that told her that it wasn't him, that there was something possessing him to act in such a way. Claire heard him scream from down the halls as Rebecca preformed makeshift surgery on him. They had no medication save for the few prescription drugs that Claire had salvaged from the hospital and even then, none of them could help Wesker now. She knew he was in pain. Mental and physical pain. Physical being that of his cuts, gashes, open and festering wounds; his muscles ached and his head swam. There was nothing that could relieve the pain. His mental state was even worse. He had been defeated, brutally beaten down in his prime. His destroyer was after him, slowly stalking behind him, waiting for a moment when he would fall down to his knees.
Alex was a conniving adversary that knew just what made Albert Wesker tick.
Claire wrapped her son tighter in the blanket and smiled faintly at him. "Do you want me to keep going?" She asked him.
Patrick nodded and picked up the book from the floor. He handed her his father's tattered copy of The Great Gatsby. The one book that man found utmost peace and comfort in, he would find his answers within it, try to reconcile the past with it. For the past, just like Gatsby, was the one thing Wesker dwelled on the most even if he never admitted to it.
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was…
Claire looked down; Patrick was asleep now, cuddling his pale face into the blanket, blonde hair tousled from days of travel. He reminded her so much of Wesker. The way he stood up for what he believed in, fought with his words and if that didn't work, fought with his fists. Blood would remark itself upon his knuckles and gashes upon his lip, and he would only take this as an initiation. Her boy was becoming a man faster than she could count. She tried to tell herself one time not to blink for one day, all of this loveliness would disappear. It was inevitable. Everything was. In this day and age, Claire had begun to realize that her life was just sick fate. Even if she tried her damndest to avoid it or change it, in the end it always turned out pretty bad. Her parents died and left her, Chris left her in his attempt to serve the country, and Raccoon City blew up in her face, literally. Steve let her down, Leon wasn't there to rescue her, and Wesker twisted things around like she was his little carnival. And yet, she would admit, that one, well two, good things came from her turmoil. Her children. They were the light, they were the reason Claire didn't give up after Wesker left. Her life changed, years of smoothing out that road, and it finally settled down. She had accepted her fate, told herself that she was done running. Until now. Now she was running away from her past. It had finally caught up to her and it was a savage beast.
Claire set the book down on the floor again and sighed. There was nothing left to do now but sleep. She would admit that she was exhausted. There were times when her eyes would shift in and out and she would have to run her hands over them or splash herself with snow or water. The base wasn't made for housing individuals. It was made to keep out the Walkers roaming outside. Jill and Barry had set up cots for Chris, herself, and Patrick. Kaya and Wesker slept in the sick ward, while Barry, Rebecca, Jill, and Billy stayed in sleeping bags in a single room, taking shifts for watch out.
Claire wanted to make sure that Kaya was ok before she decided to get to bed and as she made her way down to the ward, she heard the wolves again. They sounded closer this time and their sorrowful songs sent shivers down her spine. They were not threatening, they were not being territorial, they were just calling for the lost. They were searching just like everyone else in the shelter. She crossed the threshold of the ward and saw Wesker sleeping, bandaged up like a victim of war. There were stitches all about his chest, shoulders, arms, and back. Cuts that weren't deep enough for stitches were drying up, caked with blood. His eyes looked weak even in sleep. They were heavy and dark circles began to form there. Underneath his fingernails were dried with blood and yet, this wreck of a man still managed to breathe right.
Claire approached his bedside and a lump formed in her throat. She tried her best to swallow it but to no avail. Her eyes welled up with tears and she grabbed his calloused hand softly, running her thumb over his skin-stripped knuckles. He looked like he had gone to hell and back… and all for her. She felt guilty. Claire felt as if she was the cause of his pain and suffering. He risked sickness for her, he fought off his demons for her, he went to prison for her, he admitted to crimes for her, hell, he even jumped off a building for her. It was all because he loved Claire. Albert Wesker would do anything for her. It was his nature, honestly it was. He was protective and protective meant going to unbelievable lengths to ensure her safety. Right now, Wesker was playing chicken with Death. Claire was never accustomed to such attention and love and she had been enlightened when he professed to her. Genuinely. He looked her directly in the eye and said three words that became hard to say. I and love and you.
She squeezed his hand and sat down in the chair next to his bed. Her soft sobbing woke him up and he looked at her, dull red eyes filled with something that Claire could only say was sadness.
"You're alive," Claire said quietly.
"Hardly." He responded softly.
Claire's eyes let loose a few more tears and they streaked down her paling face.
"Don't cry, dearheart." He asked sadly. "Please don't cry."
Claire held his tighter and sobbed quietly. "Why do you do these things for me, Albert?" She asked him, letting go of his hand.
"Because I love you." Wesker responded.
She laughed lightly, "I know there's much more to it than that."
"No," said he. "I do the things I do because I love you, dearheart… and I know you love me too. There is no one else on this earth that I would fall down on my hand and knees for. I look brightly upon what we have because we've been able to make it last. Eleven years ago, I promised you that I would one day come back. Eleven years I kept that promise. I walked through fire and thorns to get here. I've taken many a beating to see you standing, breathing, smiling. I took that leap so I could be sure that you would never be burdened with my pain. I did it so you would not be stalked by my past." Wesker cupped her cheek in his calloused hand, wiping the tear from her face with his thumb. "Your love means everything to me, Claire."
Claire choked on her sob and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Wesker sat up in his bed, wincing from the pain. The bandages on his torso and shoulder shifted with his position and fresh blood seeped from under it. Claire cupped his face in her hands and kissed him, placing her forehead on his own. "I love you, Albert."
The sun had finally risen over New York City. The beasts hid away in the shadows, waiting for darkness to set once again. That light was a beacon; it was a symbol of renewal. This was the day they would move, head to that Eden place that Jill always talked about. Claire was on board. She really had no other choice. She could either stay here, wait for death to creep into bed with her or take her chances and go for it. There wasn't a one hundred percent guarantee that anything was there but it was well worth the shot. She needed to get Kaya medical attention as soon as possible and the faster they got out of there, the faster things would look up. Wesker was able to walk and therefore able to travel with the group. No one was being left behind whether or not they wanted to go.
The only person in the group that rejected this idea was Chris. He was worried that the group wouldn't make it, that they were too weak to move on at the time. But really, they didn't have a choice. The dead were moving in closer and closer as the hours waned by. Eventually, they would be upon them and it would be impossible to escape from here. This was logic that Chris denied. His idea of staying was that by then, they would have already been able to safely fortify the base and keep the dead at bay. But he was ignorant. He wasn't thinking in the broader spectrum. The group would run out of supplies, food, and water. With eight mouths to feed, it was only a matter of time before their supply ran low and then to none. Every point that they would bring up, Chris would shut down. He would come up with some ridiculous explanation as to why they should stay. Barry tried to talk him out of this nonsense but to no avail. They couldn't get Chris to budge.
He wasn't going anywhere.
Maybe, Claire though, maybe it was because he was afraid. He was scared of failure. His biggest fears would come true if he couldn't protect this group. Granted they had Barry, Jill, and Billy as good shots but the true pain was the two injured. Well, Kaya wasn't injured rather she was more than that. She was still out cold in her comma. Chris couldn't look at her, lying there with such stillness. It wasn't like his niece at all. She was always bouncing off the walls, excitement was her only emotion. Happiness spread through her like wildfire whenever something would occur. Her brother on the other hand, Patrick, was a somber boy whose simplicity pleased that of himself and others. He was unlike any other boy… come to think of it… both of Claire's children were very different from others. It wasn't because their father was a super-human, living a thousand miles away, never being able to be there… it was because of their father. They grew strong without his bodily form being there; rather they grew strong with his spirit living within them.
Claire sighed and wrapped her jacket tighter around her. It was her turn for watch duty. She sat outside in a lawn chair with a hunting rifle in her lap, watching the horizon for hostiles. There was a light snow drifting down, and the world was silent. She had grown accustomed to this silence. Claire's recognition of city sounds was no more as she took in the purity of nothingness. There were empty cars, houses, and streets. She wondered where all of the people had gone. If they had gotten out of the city in time or if they had been eaten alive, or converted into those beasts of blame. The door opened and Wesker stepped out in a fresh shirt. He was still wearing his black pants but they had not really been affected.
"Are you cold?" He asked. It was practically a rhetorical question but Wesker didn't know what else to say. Claire nodded without looking at him and he then handed her a pair of gloves.
"Do you feel better?" She asked. This was small talk. Neither of them had anything better to talk about so this was as best as they would get.
Wesker clamped his hands together and blew warmth into them, "A little," he said gruffly. "I'm still quite sore but I think I'll manage."
"Do you really think it's out there?" Claire asked him softly.
The gears in Wesker's head started turning. He could never lie to Claire but at this point time, where everything was strictly based on the answers that one would be given, it was hard to go against his heart.
"Do you want me to tell you the truth…?" Wesker said quietly.
Claire looked up at him with a tear in her blue eyes. "No." She said with a sob. He reached down, grabbing her hand gently and lifted her from the chair. The gun clattered to the ground and Wesker pulled Claire tight to his chest, burying his nose into her neck.
"I believe that there is something out there…" He said. "But, dearheart, I just don't know what."
Claire clutched his shirt in fists, tears staining his shoulder. She stood on her tip toes, as Wesker was always too tall for his own good. His familiar scent played her nose as it did eleven years ago. She wanted to wade in these feelings for the rest of her life. The gold days when it was them alone.
"Everything will be ok," Wesker whispered in her ear. "I promise."
A/N: I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ELSE TONIGHT! MY BACK IS KILLING MEEEEEEE.