DISCLAIMER: Resident Evil and all associated names and likenesses belong to Capcom. Used here without permission.

Thank Heaven For Little Girls
A Resident Evil story

(c) 2001, 2011 Mayumi.H, a.k.a. BonusParts


Epilogue

The plane thrums beneath me, with droning, drowsy vibrations.

"Fasten your seatbelt, honey," the uniformed lady in the aisle murmurs to me. "We're getting ready to take off." She smiles and I smile back, mechanically.

I pull the leather strap tight across my lap and look out the window next to me. I can see the large panel windows of the airline gate, but they're smoked, so I can't see inside. Still, I can feel that he's there, watching me.

While it still hurts to think about Leon - my beautiful, wonderful Leon - I can't help myself. There will always be something about him, something mysterious and charming, that will always bring me back to him. Everyone said that my feelings are just a phase, and even though I don't want to think that, it might be easiest if that were true.

I don't want to feel pain whenever I think of him, of his blue eyes or his auburn hair or his goofy laugh. I want him to stay perfect, in my mind.

Claire said it would get better if I went home and got back into a routine. School's starting again in three weeks, and maybe I'll meet someone there. No one like Leon, of course, but maybe that's what Claire meant all along. Maybe he's just not for me. Maybe he's for somebody else.

When we said goodbye at the gate, I thought I was going to cry.

"Take care of yourself," Leon said, as he gave me a hug. He felt so strong, with his arms around me. He was quiet, too, more quiet than he usually was. I couldn't help but think it was because of me.

Claire hugged me, too. "Have a safe trip, sweetie." Then she gave me a little gift bag and smiled. "Promise me you won't open this until you're in the air."

I nodded, numbly. "Okay."

The man at the jetway doors made another one of his boarding announcements then, and I heard my row number.

I started for the jetway. For a minute, I was standing in line, behind a girl and her boyfriend or husband, they could have been either. Then, I looked back at Leon and Claire, who were waving gently.

I ran back to them, my backpack bouncing against my shoulders. I held onto Leon tightly, and felt the tears catch in the back of my throat, like something sour. "I'll miss you, Leon," I sniffled, like some little kid. I hadn't wanted to say goodbye like that; I had wanted to be strong. So much for those plans.

Leon breathed deep, and muttered: "I'll miss you, too." Then, he touched my arm, and pushed me away. He looked down at me, a little sad, but firm. "You've got a plane to catch."

And that was all.

I got on the plane, with no more goodbyes, and now I sit here and stare out the window, hoping to see him. He doesn't come, but I know he's there.

The plane lurches away from the gate, moving backward, and I press my face close to the window, so I can watch the gate for as long as possible. He doesn't shoot out the window and jump to the tarmac to chase after me. He doesn't stop the plane and run down the aisle to scoop me up in his arms. He doesn't even have the captain come on over the loudspeaker and make some announcement about me for him.

I guess I've been reading too many romance novels and watching too many sappy movies lately. Still, it's funny to think of Leon doing any of that stuff, and it feels good to smile about him.

As the plane taxis down the runway, pushing me back into the seat like on a roller coaster ride, I look at the seat pocket in front of me. That's where I put Claire's little bag of stuff. The plane ascends at a steep angle, and we're away, back to California.

I reach for the little bag and rummage through the tissue paper. There's a Hershey bar in there, and a sandwich bag filled with oatmeal cookies. There's also a little note, written on plain stationery in a simple hand.

I put the bag down in my lap and open the note.

Dear Sherry, it says in Claire's even script.

Sometimes, things don't work out the way that we want them to. And I'm sorry for that. But you shouldn't be sorry, about anything.

Life tends to get more complicated the more you see of it, but always remember that you have friends. And always remember who you are. You're Sherry Birkin, and no one can take that away from you.

I care about you very much, and so does your aunt Kate. And Leon does, too.

I'll miss you. Stay well.

With love,
Claire

I put the note down and smile.

I look out the window, and there are only clouds out there, but even they're comforting, somehow.

I can't believe that I thought Claire was against me. Through everything, she protected me. I wasn't exactly nice to her, but she still looked out for me.

I start to put the note away when I notice there's something else in the bag, buried near the bottom. Shoving aside the rest of the tissue paper, I reach down and pull out a little stuffed animal. It's a fluffy lion, only as big as my fist, with a toothy, lopsided grin and a big, red mane. There's a little card attached to one of his front paws. Printed there, it says:

Just don't pull his head off, okay? Love, Leon.

I clutch the tiny toy to my chest, and I start to cry. But for the first time in days, this cry feels good.

I sit back in my seat and watch the clouds float by my window. I don't need to get away fast; I don't need to get home fast, either. It's nice just to sit here and think about the man whose smile made me feel loved.


AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Despite its flaws, I've always enjoyed the sweet simplicity of this story. I like to think that Sherry grows up a little bit, here, as little girls tend to do the first time they fall in love...and the first time they get their hearts broken.

I didn't edit this at all from its original writing ten years ago(!), and I don't find first-person perspective very comfortable at all, either then or now...but I still can't help holding a spot in my heart for Sherry, and Leon and Claire.

Many thanks to all who enjoyed the story, and graced it with Alerts, Favorites, and comments. Your support means so much!