“Celebrating You"

A Resident Evil Writers - Holiday Challenge story

by Mayumi-H

He moves between the table and the kitchen island, carrying plates and bowls of steaming food. He glances at his watch for the third time in as many minutes. Where is she?

She's never been late before. He curses to himself, thinking that he should have offered to give her a ride. She would have refused, of course - she's like that: self-sufficient. But really, he knows, it's just pride. She doesn't want him to treat her differently just because she's a girl, just because he loves her.

He looks at his watch again. Come on, what's taking so long?

He puts his hands down on the table, his fingers running idly along the design of the tablecloth. He stares at the candles and the food, and he thinks of his mother rushing between the dinner table and the kitchen. For his mother, Thanksgiving was a chore, not a holiday. His father never made it any easier, either. There were always the expectations - though never spoken - of a dinner fit for kings. Despite how hard it was for his mother, though, she never complained; on the contrary, it always seemed to bring out her creative streak. He likes to think that he gets his aplomb under pressure from her.

His eyes drift over the place settings and he swears. Forks! How could he forget forks?

He rummages through the silverware drawer for a matching set of forks. He comes up with two not-quite-identical-but-only-he'll-know pieces, and he shrugs. Good enough, right? As he goes over to the table, he tries to remember...left side or right? She'll know (she always knows silly things like that), but he can't wait for her to tell him. He wants this to be perfect.

He guesses left, and that looks all right to him. He sets the other fork in place on the table and smiles at his handiwork. Not bad, not bad. What else?

"Candles," he says aloud and snaps his fingers. He checks his pockets for a lighter, can't find one. Matches, where the heck are the matches? He glances over his shoulder to the cupboard next to the oven, his eyes scanning the shelves. I know I just got some from Moriarty's... There, next to the coffee grinder!

He strides over to the shelf, picks up the matches, and walks back to the table. On the way, he has to look at his watch again. Almost twenty minutes late... What if something happened to her? A gnawing feeling starts in his stomach. She could be hurt somewhere, in need of help, and he wouldn't even know it. Sure, she's a capable girl, but the city can be dangerous.

He shakes his head and lights a match. No, she's stronger than that; she knows how to use a gun, and her fists, and how to run, if it comes to that. Men don't mess with her.

His hand pauses right before the candle wick. Another gnawing feeling sets in. What if she decided not to come?

He watches the flame without really seeing it, thinking that he'll probably shoot himself if she doesn't show up soon. This dinner is for them, this day is for them. What's the point of celebrating Thanksgiving without the one person he's thankful to have? He even went to the trouble of cooking a turkey dinner (well, not really - he had the restaurant on Eighth Street send a cooked dinner over...but he had heated it up in the oven - that should count for something).

The flame touches his fingers and he yelps, dropping the match onto the tablecloth. He curses again and stamps it out with the palm of his hand.

He puts the candle over the new mark in the cloth and lights the candle. Stop thinking stupid thoughts. She'll come. She's probably already on her way here. Please let her be on her way.

He looks at his watch one more time - this is the last time, he promises himself; twenty-five minutes behind schedule. Okay, five more minutes...he'll give her five more minutes and then charge into the night like the Light Brigade.

One minute passes, then a second, and he decides to forget about waiting for the other three. He goes to get his shoulder holster and gun, when there's a knock at the door. He rushes to it, yanking it open onto a beautiful girl.

"Claire!" He cries, grabbing her and pulling her both into the apartment and into his arms. she smells like shampoo and soap, and just a hint of motor oil.

She hugs him back, her grip strong. "Chris! Sorry I'm late...I ran into some traffic outside the city." She pulls away from him, holding him at arms' length. She smiles at him. "I hope you weren't worried."

He cocks a grin at her. "Who, me? Never." He pulls her into an embrace again, grateful to have her here, grateful just to have her. This is his life, right here in his arms. "Never."

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