Heavy in Your Arms
A/N: So, these fics/drabbles are companion pieces to my Claire/Wesker fic, Running Up That Hill. I wrote them some time ago and finally decided to post them here. I do want to point out that there is a lack of continutity in all of these pieces. There's an overlying storyline, sort of, I just never filled in all of the details. I guess. But they all fit into the RUTH universe.
Also, I'd like to say that this series, including the original fic and these companion pieces, are heavily AU. I have taken huge creative liberties for the sake of story with this series. This particular piece is based on the idea that Wesker injects himself with the Progenitor virus well before the events of the first Resident Evil game and is slowly, very slowly, affected by several symptoms of the virus prior to his "death". This was written as a fill for an 'eating disorder' prompt on my angst bingo card, although I don't think it has any potential triggers or anything and doesn't really deal with any sort of typical eating disorders, just one brought on by a self-inflicted virus. Also, this spans the early parts of Claire and Wesker's relationship.
(Draw the Line in the Horizon)
Claire's not usually lost for words. She always has a comment, a snarky comeback lingering in the back of her mind, ready to rapid fire at will. Her mind spins faster than the tires on her bike and she's never without a topic of conversation, an anecdote.
But right now, she can't think of one thing to say, the engine has stalled. She wraps her fingers tightly around the menu in front of her and stares at the entrees. There are pictures of some of the items off to the right of the plastic menu and she grimaces, has to refrain from slapping her hand across her eyes.
She had wanted to come here, didn't even think about it when he asked where she wanted to eat. She blurted it out, a grin gracing her lips. This is where she eats dinner with Chris, where her parents used to take her on her birthday when she was a kid. This was the only place on her mind and it was a huge mistake.
Albert Wesker doesn't seem like the kind of man who orders off a menu with pictures on it. He seems far too sophisticated for that kind of thing. Claire wonders what he sees in her anyway. She's a picture menu, he's a fancy one page, plain font kind of guy.
They're here though and it's too late to back out. She agreed to have dinner with him, picked the place out and now here they are. And Claire has nothing to say.
Wesker saves her, breaking the silence filled with harsh breathing and the faint music of Simon and Garfunkel floating in the background. "Are you ready to order?"
He's dressed very sharply, wearing khaki pants and a blue and white striped shirt. He looks like he stepped out of a GQ catalog. She's wearing jeans, worn in at the knees, faded in the thighs, and a Harley t-shirt that used to be black but faded to gray from repeated washings. She walked in carrying her pink backpack on her shoulder and every eye in the place was on her. They were wondering what she was doing with him. She wonders the same thing.
She dares to glance up, her fingers tacky against the plastic in her hands. Her face feels hot and she can't even imagine what she looks like at the moment. Flushed and sweaty, probably. Claire manages a nod and wonders when her brain is going to catch up with this date.
The waitress shows up a moment later and Wesker gestures at Claire. "Cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake," Claire mumbles and she's sure she's so hot right now she's about to catch on fire. What is this man doing with her?
He doesn't order off the menu, doesn't even glance at the pictures to decide what he wants. He orders grilled chicken with a side of vegetables and sends the waitress on her way.
The menus gone, Claire folds her hands together and looks past Wesker, at the door, at anything to keep her occupied. There's an old man walking in through the door, his younger second (maybe third) wife on his arm. They look happy.
Wesker hand covers Claire's and she jumps, jerks her hand back so hard she slams her elbow into the side of her chair. "Shit," she whispers, shaking her head, once again avoiding his eyes. Any minute now he's going to realize this was a mistake. He's going to get up, walk out and forget the day he tried to romance Chris Redfield's little sister.
Wesker reaches out and takes her hand again, drags it into the middle of the table. "You seem nervous." His hands are large, warm, and Claire wants to get lost in them.
"No. Just..." She's not sure how to say it so she comes right out and says it, blurts it out because that's what she does best. "If Chris finds out, he'll kill us."
He nods, his thumb rubbing against her knuckles and a small shiver runs down her spine, right into her thighs, like a bucket of ice water has been thrown on top of her head. "Yes, I imagine he wouldn't be thrilled."
"You are his boss. This is just a lot to take in." She stares at their hands, the way hers look so small compared to his, the way his short, neatly trimmed nails dig gently into her skin.
"We'll make it work," Wesker promises and it's all Claire really need to hear. There must be something he sees in her, something she hasn't noticed in herself yet. If it's enough for him, it's enough for her. And they'll make it work.
Claire's mind begins to spin again and she doesn't shut up for the rest of the evening. She eats her cheeseburger, licks ketchup off the palm of her hand and dips her french fries in her milkshake. She watches as he eats his chicken and vegetables and doesn't leave a crumb behind.
Claire might be sitting down but she's still pulling at her dress, trying to cover up as much thigh as possible. She almost wants to wrap herself up in the tablecloth and walk out wearing a makeshift toga. This is a bit too much. "This place is really nice."
It really is. This is the most expensive hotel in the city (and she only knows because the front desk clerk said so) and it looks it. It's nice and elegant and everything Claire is not. She hasn't worn a dress in years but here she is, wearing some low cut black dress, showing too much skin and far too much cleavage.
The waiter had been staring at her earlier and Claire blushed so hard, she was sure her face matched the color of her hair. He stopped after a moment or two and she's sure Wesker had everything to do with it.
Wesker looks pleased though so she stops pulling at the fabric and focuses on the steak sitting in front of her. "And the food is really amazing. You're missing out."
He's eating a salad with light dressing and if Claire didn't know better, she'd think he's a chick on a diet. "I'm happy with what ordered," he remarks, his eyes on her chest and he's probably thinking about how fast they can make it up to the room.
Claire rolls her eyes and pushes her plate toward him. "Take a bite. It's really good." She isn't much of a cook (she can boil a mean pot of water though) and can't tell what it is about the meat that makes it taste so good. It's spice or seasoning or the way it was cooked. It's something and in the end, she doesn't care about any of that stuff as long as it ends up in her stomach.
"No, I am fine with what I have," Wesker replies and ignores her offering, his fork piercing a cherry tomato that looks depressing and unholy next to her slab of beef.
Shrugging, Claire pulls her plate back to her side of the table. "Your loss." She stabs another piece of steak and chews it slowly, closing her eyes because it's like nothing she's ever tasted before. She's not used to opulence, to ordering food and not being asked if she wants a side of fries with that, but she could get used to this side of things pretty quickly.
Wesker's foot brushes against her leg and she stops chewing, the beef laying dormant on her tongue. "It's not the food I am interested in anyway," he says to her and Claire asks the waiter for a box in record time.
Claire is not a heavy girl by any stretch of the imagination. She weighs exactly what she should, according to the body mass index and some doctor she saw on an episode of Oprah. She exercises when she can, which is honestly not very often, and tries to limit the amount of times she eats at McDonald's, which is twice a week if she's lucky. She's a thin, perfectly normal girl.
And maybe she has a high metabolism, which is why she can scarf down fried foods like they're going out of style. She just wasn't raised eating vegetables and anything green really. She eats her weight in grease and still has the body of a model out of one of those lingerie catalogs. She's completely sure it'll catch up with her one day though.
Until then she's going to eat what she wants and right now she wants peanut butter chocolate pie. She waits eagerly by the door for room service, wrapped up in nothing but a robe. "Don't you want anything else?"
Wesker had hesitated at ordering anything and at Claire's insistence, he had settled on a small bowl of soup. If he eats it, it'll be the most she's seen him eat in a long time. "What I ordered will suffice," he responds, sitting across the table from her. His hands are folded together and his hard expression gives nothing away. She never knows what he's thinking anymore.
Claire tears her eyes away from the door (because staring will not make the food come any faster) and looks at him, her head cocked to the side as she tries to figure him out and once again fails miserably."How about we share my pie?"
His expression does not change, his eyebrows don't twitch, his mouth doesn't tighten. He remains closed off and Claire bets he's one hell of a poker player. "I will eat what I have ordered."
She nods and goes back to staring at the door. Claire knows better than to argue with him and when her pie comes, she doesn't try to offer him a bite. He really is missing out though.
The bar is mostly empty at this time of night. There are a few drunks lingering in the corners, slamming down as many drinks as possible before last call. There's a couple in the corner, nursing a bottle of beer and a glass of wine, hardly touched. They're too busy necking to notice the drinks in front of them.
Then there's Claire, sitting at the bar, with Wesker at her side. She's drinking a glass of chardonnay (and longs for an ice cold beer) and working her way through her second basket of complimentary peanuts. Small beads of salt stick to her saliva slicked fingers as she digs into the basket.
"These are pretty good," she comments, popping a peanut into her mouth and chewing thoughtfully. These are definitely better than what she normally gets at a bar and these probably aren't contaminated with everything under the sun. The bar is as classy as the rest of the hotel. So are the peanuts.
Wesker has his fingers wrapped around a tumbler of bourbon. He hasn't taken a sip. The ice melts into the alcohol and it's nothing but a waste of money. "I'm glad you are enjoying your snack."
Claire holds her palm out to him, a lone peanut resting in the middle of her hand. "Have one," she whispers like a prayer. Just one damn peanut and maybe Claire wouldn't feel the slide of the scales tipping. She's sure they're tipping in his favor and she just keeps her eyes squeezed closed and holds on for the ride.
He's wearing sunglasses, at night, indoors. It's the first time she's seen him wearing sunglasses when it wasn't bright and sunny, the middle of a sun-drenched day. The bar is anything but bright but she can't bring herself to ask why.
The drunks are staring at him but he doesn't seem to notice or care. "I don't want one."
She pops the nut into her mouth and grinds it into her molars. "I thought you would say that." She really shouldn't have bothered asking.
"We should retire to the room. It is getting late." Wesker throws some money down on the bar and stands, his chair scraping unnaturally loud against the marble flooring. The drunks follow his movements with their slow, unfocused eyes. The couple comes up for air. The bartender takes the hundred he slapped down and doesn't make any change.
Wesker walks out without so much as a glance at her. Claire is just expected to follow. She slams down his watered down bourbon and trails after him, hating the feeling of eyes burrowing into her back.
They're sitting at opposite ends of the table, separated by a large expanse of dark oak. Claire's sitting closest to the door, her legs tucked up into her chair, her shins pressed hard against the edge of the table. She'll have red, angry marks on her skin for a few hours but she can't bring herself to move or care at the moment.
At the other end of the table, Wesker is sitting calmly, his feet planted firmly on the floor, hands clasped in front of him. He looks professional, like he's sitting in a meeting not in a hotel room with his secret girlfriend. "Are you going to eat that?" His eyes look like blood but there's something gentle in there, something Claire can't quite put her finger on.
"I don't know," she answers honestly. There's a hamburger sitting in front of her and it's gone cold. She picks at the bun with her fingers, tearing bits of bread apart with her nails. Her eyes are red too, bloodshot, but hers look nothing like his.
He rests his palms flat on the table, his hands splayed out next to his forgotten sunglasses. There is no food in front of him, not even a glass of water. "You need to eat. It will keep your strength up."
Claire almost laughs. What an absurd statement. She eats all the time but never quite feels the way she used to when she was younger. Maybe her metabolism is catching up with her. Maybe the joy she once found in food is no longer there.
"Do you want a bite?" Claire already knows the answer, but asks anyway. She wants him to say yes, for his eyes to fade back to a color she can't even remember anymore. She's making a wish that will never come true.
"No, thank you." Wesker is polite to a fault and she knows that somewhere beneath the increasing leather and black clothing, there is something uncivilized and vile. But there's also a heart, a little burnt around the edges but it has her name written all over it. If he opens up her chest, she knows he'd find the same thing.
"Okay," Claire says and accepts it.