Claire Redfield had made a lot of tough decisions in her life. Go to Raccoon City and look for Chris, or stay at school where it was safe? Stay with the wounded Leon in the corridor, or do as he asked and search for the mysterious woman he'd been with? Stay with Leon and Sherry, or go to Europe to find Chris?

They were hard choices, scary choices, but she'd made them and she was still alive. She guessed she'd done reasonably well for herself and the people she cared about, considering the circumstances.

So why the hell couldn't she decide what to order for dinner?

The cabinet was sort of sad. Take-out menus from every restaurant in a fifty-mile radius were taped to the inside of the door. Chris was no Emeril, and she herself couldn't boil water without burning it. She'd be the first to admit it.

She made her decision: Go ask Leon.

She found the owner of that name sprawled on the sofa, remote control in hand. She couldn't help but smile at him. Every week it seemed she learned something new about him. The latest (and by far the funniest) revelation had come just yesterday: he was a closet game-show fan. He would call out the answers as if the players could hear him, and then when they blew it, he'd take it as a personal insult.

" 'View to a Kill', not 'Room With a View', you idiot," he said as someone answered the Daily Double.

"I'm sorry. I believe you were thinking of 'View to a Kill', not 'Room With a View'," Alex Trebeck said.

"Told ya," Leon said triumphantly to the TV.

Claire chuckled.

He turned his head languidly to look at her. "Oh, hey. I didn't see you there."

She grinned. "Well, since you're doing so well, answer this question for me, Einstein: What should I order for dinner?"

"Caught between pizza and Chinese again?" He smiled.

She dropped her hands to her sides and sighed. "I'm sick of all those things."

"So go to a place that has something else." He shrugged.

"Okay! I'll go to Mars!" she said sarcastically, flopping down on the sofa beside him.

He laughed, bringing himself to a sitting position to make room for her. "I'm sure you'll think of something. You always do."

That made Claire uneasy. The problem with being held in high regard was that when you looked down, it was a long, long way to fall. There were times when she wanted more than anything in the world to be Leon's angel, be his hero. And there were times when she wanted no part of his praise, for fear of disappointing him.

She twitched her lips. There was something about Leon Kennedy that disarmed her. He brought out her softer side, made her feel like she could talk to him, tell him things...any things. She was wary of it, of how her hard-won shields melted like sugar in his presence.

He sensed it, of course--he always did. "Claire? Something wrong?"

Yes, something was wrong. The last year was what was wrong. But how could she tell him that? He had seen it too. He'd been through the horror, and he was coping like a champion. His greatest enemy right now was Alex Trebek. If he could be brave--if he could handle it--so could she. She would not cower in front of him, would rather die than do that.

His eyes held a strange light. They fixed on hers, searching her face for a clue, but gently. Electric blue. "Claire, you can tell me. Really. Is something wrong? You can--what is gesellschaft?"

Claire blinked. "What?"

"What is gesellschaft?" Alex Trebek repeated.


"Sorry about that." Leon smiled sheepishly, turning back to face her. "Really, I'm listening now."

Claire sighed, unable to be annoyed at those frozen blue eyes. She dropped her hands to her sides helplessly. "It's just that lately I've been feeling..." Her eyes jumped to the TV involuntarily. "I haven't been...what the hell IS gesellschaft, Leon?" She shook her head.

He seemed thrown off by the question. "'s, you know, a big place. Like a city. Where no one knows each other, really. Not a close-knit--hey, you're changing the subject!"

Damn, he was right AGAIN. The guy was on a roll tonight.

He blinked winter-cool eyes at her. His eyes were the bravest she'd ever seen. When he turned them on you, they held on and didn't let go. "If you told me, maybe I could help you," he said, in that same voice he'd used to say "It's over," on the train. That soft voice that demanded you listen, that you believe.

She wanted so badly to believe.

"Claire." It wasn't a question. She was a little afraid of how much he could move her just by saying her name.

He reached for her, and she shied away instinctively, her back to the arm of the sofa.

"Claire," he said again, just as softly, just as gently. He did not reach for her again. He knew not to crowd her. Damn him. He read what she liked and what she hated in a man better than anyone ever had. She wasn't sure if she were comfortable with how well he knew her.

She looked down at her hands and blurted out, "I can't decide what to order for dinner."

"And that's a crisis?" he asked gently.

She felt a spark flare in her, and it crept into her voice in a growl. "No, it isn't. That's exactly the problem. It's like I can't get out of crisis mode. I can't function except in an emergency. When something's trying to kill me, my mind is always two steps ahead. I'm a genius. I can do anything." She crossed her arms over her chest, straitjacketing herself, turning away from him. "Now that everything's fine, I can't do anything, even something as ridiculous and simple as calling for take-out. It completely confuses me."

With the telling of the truth, something tight and packed and ugly in her heart uncurled and let go. She took a deep breath, and felt profoundly exhausted.

"Let's make it a true Daily Double, Alex," the leading player said on the television screen, eyes bright and cheeks flushed.

"You can tell he's been waiting his whole life to say that," Claire snorted, her hands dropping to her lap, and Leon chuckled.

"I'm sorry. The correct answer is, 'What is selenium?' If you recall, it's taken from the Greek, 'seln', meaning 'moon'," Alex Trebek said, his tone managing to be condescending, as if everyone should know that.

Leon motioned to the TV. "He reads those from a card."

Claire hiked an eyebrow at him. "Of course. He wouldn't know all the answers if he didn't have those cards."

"No one knows all the answers," Leon said, eyes on her instead of on the screen, a smile playing at his lips.

Claire blinked, realizing his meaning.

He reached for her hand and she let him, suddenly and completely understanding the meaning of those familiar words on the back of her vest, Chris' jacket. The friction of his skin on hers as he circled her palm with his thumb amazed her--that something so simple could move her so much.

She shook her head suddenly, returning Leon's smile, and brought his hand to her lips, kissing it absently.

"What was that for?" he asked, his smile telling her he didn't mind.

She smiled back. Finally, an answer she knew. "Because I am Claire, and you are Leon," she informed him matter-of-factly, finding a correct station of karma beside him on the sofa, knees drawn up, her hand still clasped in his. "Any more questions?"

"Yes." His smile was wicked, his eyes twinkling, electric blue. "What are you going to order for dinner?"

Claire hit him with a sofa pillow.


Author's Note:

Gesellschaft: a sociological term meaning a place that is not close-knit, where the residents do not know each other, such as a big city. Antonym: gemeinschaft.

Selenium: a chemical element, used in supplements. Poisonous if taken in large doses. Taken from the Greek "seln", moon (from "selas", light, brightness) + -ium.

"View to a Kill" was performed by Duran Duran(That actually wasn't a "Jeopardy!" question--I saw it on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", but Regis Philbin annoys me just as much as Alex Trebek does, so it's okay. *giggle*).

There, my facts for the day. *giggle*.

My grandmother loves "Jeopardy!" and watches it all the time. I HATE it. Alex Trebek strikes me as so pompous. But Leon made it all worthwhile *^_^* I was so happy to see him again. (Leon and Claire forever...unless he's dating me. *^_^*)

Please review! I accept reviews of all kinds, as long as they're constructive.