Disclaimer: All rights to Resident Evil and its characters belong to their respective owners.
A/N: For the longest time I didn't know what fandom I was writing for and decided to settle on Claire/Leon at the last minute (and by last minute I mean when I was 3/4's of the way through writing this). I was inspired into writing this tidbit after going to a family wedding and all the drama that ensued afterwards. I suppose that this could be considered as a semi A/U as I've changed a few things around to suit the plot. Also, I just noticed that FF. net doesn't support strikethroughs so anything that's in bold represents a strike. Happy reading!
Marriage, like any other relationship, most strongly resembled a structurally sound house. First you have your base, the foundation, comprised of trust. Next were the walls, the pillars of support, and the windows filled with panes of crystal clear clarity. After that will come the roof, the shield which covers and fills the home with love and care.
A foundation (trust), walls (support), windows (honesty), and a roof (love), these are the building materials needed to create a stable home (relationship), but like all things in the world, nothing can stand forever against the test of time without giving the proper care. As days turn into months, and months into years, time wears down on the once sturdy home and traces of neglect are shown. Shingles are missing from the roof; the walls are battered with cracks and chips, some barely there while others are visibly noticeable; the once clear windows are fogged with grit and grime, and the base, the very first building block, is steadily crumbling away.
They always told her that a fairytale ended with the prince marrying the princess and living happily ever after in wedded bliss, but they were wrong. They were all wrong. Sure the first year of marriage was great, more than great it was fantastic, but that's because you were still riding on the high of becoming a married couple and living in the honeymoon period, but after the first year comes the second and that's when the rose colored tint begins to wear off.
Don't get her wrong, she still loved her husband, very much so and he her, but it was the little things that never bothered her or that she never really cared about before that began to get on her nerves. During the second year of marriage, Claire Kennedy, nee Redfield, noticed that he often left the toilet seat up or left his clothes where ever they lay until laundry day or smoked the occasional cigarette inside instead of out. And Leon noticed that she tended to leave the lights on even after she left the room or recklessly endangered her life by not wearing a motorcycle helmet or insisted on turning the volume up to the max when listening to her favorite song. Nevertheless, they forgave each other for their minor annoyances because what was a marriage without a few bumps along the road, but were paved anew with compromise and understanding? Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other. However, after living alone for most of their lives old habits are hard to break and as the saying goes, you can't teach an old dog a new trick.
When their third year came about that was when the boundaries of their marriage were truly tested. Half way through that year, Claire was laid off and with their income now cut in half it was a struggle to continue living their life of leisure. The world had now become a cut throat place. With a recessive economy and the overall scarcity of employment, the success of her finding a job in her field of expertise was slim. Disagreements and arguments are no longer uncommon and as each one became louder and heated so did the cracks along their walls. But the sun had to break through the clouds at some point and for her they finally did. At long last her tireless search for a job was over. Working endless hours serving greasy food at a mediocre diner just to be paid a dollar or two over minimum wage was nothing to jump in joy about, but a job was a job and it helped pay the bills. After all what couple didn't have their ups and downs? Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
And then they entered their fourth year of marriage. The arguments continued, mostly about their financial issues and sometimes about nonsensical things that get blown out of proportion, and more cracks lined their walls along with a few dents here and there. Leon stayed out later and later only to come back in the early hours of morning claiming they were for work. Excuses were made and empty words of forgiveness were handed out easily yet the damage was already done. The windows were smudged with dirt and chunks were missing from the foundation. Every relationship had their trials and this was theirs. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
As the fifth year rolled around, Claire noticed that she could no longer ignore nature's call. Her biological clock was tick-tick-ticking away and her increasing want of a child became ever so clear. Deep down she knew that a child wasn't an instant fix to their problems, but with her husband away most of the time (working as he repeatedly claimed), loneliness crept upon her like a second skin and she ached to hold someone who looked at her like she was the center of their world. When Claire brought up the subject of children, Leon readily agreed since he desired a child as well. He was no fool for he knew exactly what this distance was doing to her, and to them, and he dearly hoped that this would bring the happiness back to their crumbling marriage. A child wasn't the answer to their problems, but it could be a step in the right direction. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
Their sixth year produced no child and when there was still no pitter patter of tiny feet on polished floorboards in the beginning of the seventh year they stopped trying altogether. They saw all kinds of doctors, specialists, and experts, and after every visit they were always told the same thing, "There's nothing wrong with you. Keep trying and a child will come. It just takes time." Well it appeared that time was against them for with every test that came back negative so were their chances of happiness. The mounting frustration of each failed attempt lead to more fights. There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with you, they kept saying. If that were true then why weren't they bestowed with the gift of life? Disappointed and hurt that they're unable to create a tiny being in their own images, blame was carelessly tossed around. He blamed her while she blamed him (when in actuality neither were at fault, but at the same time they were) all the while the cracks turned into deep tears and a piece of the roofing caved in. Not all couples needed a child to become happy and perhaps they were meant to fit into that category. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
One night during their eighth year of marriage, Claire stayed up late waiting for Leon to return home as she was wont to do for the last four years. He finally stumbled in at the wee hours of morning smelling of a night wasted in alcohol and of cheap perfume. She never questioned his nightly activities and he never looked her in the eyes after coming home. It just became an unestablished rule for them after years of discontent. He'd waver at the door for a moment or two before shuffling off to bed while she'd stare after him, still as a statue. All the while the silence engulfed them, speaking more than any kind of hollow words spoken between them. Everyone was entitled to one or two secrets and they were no exception. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
In their ninth year of marriage came an uneasy calm. Gone were the days of teasing laughter, easy smiles and gentle companionship. Their days were filled with stony silence, blank stares and mild avoidance. Instead of staying out all night and coming back in the early hours of daylight, Leon stayed out for two, maybe three days at a time. Chatter, whether it was about anything or everything, no longer passed between them, but small almost monosyllabic responses. With no child and no husband to care for, a desperate longing filled her being. She wanted, no, needed to hear his voice. She missed Leon dearly and wished for a way for them to go back to how it used to be during their first year. Even though they've faced many hardships she still loved him and decided it was time to fix what is broken. After all it was better late than never.
A twittering sounded out to the left of him. Groaning slightly at the interruption of his sleep, he swung his arm out and groped blindly at the floor for the source of the noise. Finally locating it under a pile of clothes he brought the object up to his face and squinted at the flashing LCD screen. He sleepily sat up and swung his legs to the side of the bed before flipping his phone open. He stared at the name trying to reach him. His thumb hovered over the green button, debating with himself whether or not he should answer the call when the sound of rustling sheets and the sleepy call of his name from his companion disturbed his thoughts.
"What are you doing over there? Come back to bed." his night time companion beckoned him back. The sheets rustled some more as he pressed his bare form against his equally bare lover.
"Who was that?"
"... No one. Just go back to sleep." He answered after a moment's hesitation before flipping the phone closed and tossing it back to where he found it. Unbeknownst to him, he never realized the caller on the other end heard their hushed exchange when his lover interrupted his thoughts and he accidentally pressed the connect button.
Silent tears trailed down her cheeks as the incessant dial tone continued to filter into her ears. Filthy panes of glass shattered as an entire section of wall collapsed followed by half of the roofing. Large chunks of gray foundation broke away leaving an uneven surface as the house began to wobble unsteadily on its perch. No one said that maintaining a marriage of bliss was going to be easy. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.
And now we head into their tenth year of marriage, a milestone. They say that once you reach the ten year mark it's nothing but a smooth ride for the rest of the way. What a bunch of lies. By now they should almost be veterans at the whole holy matrimony thing. They couldn't be further from the truth. After that abysmal phone call, communication between them all but stopped. To this day he still had to idea that he had accepted the call and she never had the courage to confront him. If she had then perhaps they could have had the chance to air all of their dirty laundry for the last nine years and been on their way to mending their dilapidated house. As it stands nothing has changed and their house of brick and stone is falling apart faster than a house of cards. But their love for each must have been strong enough if they were able to stay together for ten years even through their ups and downs. This was proven when Leon decided to take Claire out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Hope blossomed in Claire's chest. Once again it was never too late to fix what was broken.
They were half way through dinner and making light chatter for the first time in how many years was it; two, maybe three? It didn't matter; Claire was just overjoyed that they were actually having a conversation. It was a small step, but a step nonetheless in what was believed to be in the right direction. That was what she thought until she noticed Leon kept drumming his fingers on the table top and diverting his attention to somewhere other than her, a nervous habit he developed during the course of their marriage. Abruptly he stilled his tapping and cleared his throat to reach inside his suit jacket to pull out a small stack of documents. He slowly slid them towards her and leaned back in his seat, posture stiff and his face wiped clean of any previous emotion.
Curious, Claire cautiously picked up the papers, treating them as if they were going to bite her and flipped through the first few pages. Her body stilled as her sky blue eyes quickly scanned over the pages filled with neat lines of black ink then looked up at the man across from her. His fringe partially covered his right eye, but his left was unobscured and the blue-gray orb was hard and unyielding.
"What… is this?" her suddenly parched throat rasped out. A redundant question because it was quite obvious what they were, but she needed the confirmation.
"Divorce papers." What little breath she had left her in a gasping choke. Her half eaten dinner wanted to make a reappearance, but she stubbornly held it down.
"Why?" the question was nearly lost among the pleasant noises of the other patrons, however, Leon's keen hearing deftly picked it up. Watching his wife clutch at the papers with shaking hands like they were her only life line, his stoic façade evaporated away like smoke. Leon slumped back in his seat as he rubbed a tired hand across his face looking decades older instead of his 36 years of age.
"Because this is for the best. Think of how unhappy we are, Claire. When was the last time we had a decent conversation filled with warmth instead of us having screaming matches all of the time?"
"But… Ten years, Leon. We've been together for ten years so why now?" The answer to her own question floated to the forefront of her mind. Don't say it. Please, don't say it. Please, please, please.
Bowing his head down so that his fringe covered both eyes he whispered, "… I've been seeing someone." And just like that their tiny half beaten house rumbled and shook on its foundation until it couldn't take it anymore and collapsed in on itself. "I don't want us to hurt each other anymore and I'm afraid that if we do continue to stay married then that's exactly what we'll do." He continued, but Claire wasn't listening anymore, she couldn't with the sound of her blood rushing in her ears and drowning out everything else.
"It's for the best, Claire." Leon repeated almost as if he were trying to convince himself more than her. He lifted his eyes from the table top to glance at her paler than normal skin. His brows crinkled in concern as he reached out to touch her hand, but the second his fingertips grazed her knuckles she flinched away.
"Claire?" Startled at the mention of her own name, Claire stood up from her chair and in her haste she nearly backed her seat into the person sitting behind her all the while dropping the stack of papers to the floor. The people around them had stopped what they were doing and were now staring at her, but she didn't care. Her chest constricted to a painful degree as she struggled to draw in breath. It felt like she was suffocating on nothing. She then took notice of the many eyes watching her, judging her, mocking her, and then her stare traveled to the still seated man across from her. This man who was supposed to be her husband, her lover, her best friend was now nothing more than a stranger she barely recognized. A cold sweat broke out across her brow as her skin prickled in goose flesh. Claire couldn't take his pitying gaze any longer and fled the restaurant. She dimly heard the scrape of a chair, the pounding of feet, and Leon calling after her, but she wasn't about to slow down for anything. She couldn't.
The tap-tap-tapping of heels against concrete and the labored breaths of her wheezing were the only sounds she heard. Claire had to get away either from Leon, herself, or her failed marriage, she didn't know, but where could she run to? Where? Home! Yes, home was safe; home was where she could breathe again. She ran blindly towards her destination, heedless of any and all obstacles in her path. Marriage wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to make her feel like she was being swallowed up by a black abyss with no light in sight. What had happened to make them become like this? She didn't sign the divorce papers yet and Leon was still chasing after her so maybe there was a chance she could convince him to drop it and they could go back to the way things were before. The way things should have been. Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other… Right?
"-aire! Claire!" Leon's voice called right behind her. He must've been closer than she thought. Claire stopped running and turned to face him, but mid turn she was blinded by a pair of bright lights. There was a horn, a screech of tires, and the crunch of something.
Then there was darkness.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." A small gathering of people donned in black or various shades of black surrounded the closed wooden casket. At the very front of the group was Leon, his blue-gray eyes lifeless as he stared at the spot his wife's peaceful face would have been if the polished casket were open. As it were there was just too much damage to her once flawless body for an open viewing.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…" Leon droned out the preaching's of the priest. He could scarcely believe that this was happening. It wasn't supposed to end like this. They weren't supposed to end like this. Claire; the one who had fire running through her veins and was unafraid to take charge whenever, wherever. The one who preferred motorcycles and leather as opposed to frilly sundresses. Fearless, strong, dependable, Claire. Claire; his Claire was now gone. Her flame snuffed out of existence forever.
"… For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. Amen" A chorus of 'Amen's' were repeated as the gathering watched the casket that contained his beloved Claire be lowered into the ground. Dazed and sick to his stomach, Leon stood unmoving in his spot as people came up to him to offer their condolences.
Later when the funeral processions were finished, Leon stepped into their home for the first time in what felt like weeks. Everything was left the same since the last time he was home when Claire was still alive. Nothing was out of place except for a thin layer of dust. Leon robotically closed the door and gingerly sat down on the sofa, elbows braced upon his knees as his hands clutched at his hair. Harsh breathing filled the room when out of the corner of his eye he saw a white envelope sitting on the coffee table with his name scrawled across the front in Claire's cursive handwriting. Desperate for any kind of connection left of his wife; he nearly tore open the envelope. A picture fell out onto the floor with the back facing up at him. Written on the back of it in a black sharpie marker was "Happy Tenth Anniversary, baby". His hand trembled as he picked it up then slowly flipping it over revealed the grainy image of a white blob surrounded by a black background. Stamped above the white blob in bold white letters was 'BABY' and off to the side it read '9 weeks'.
Staring down at the ultrasound was like a punch to the gut. The family that they so desperately wanted was finally granted to them and he being the ignorant fool had tossed it away without a second thought. Oh God, just what had he done? Claire didn't deserve this. He was the one who gave up on them first when they weren't able to have a child all those years ago. There was so much wasted time, so many wasted years. If only he had talked with her more, been with her more, tried harder with her then this wouldn't have happened. If, if, if. The tears that he hadn't allowed himself to shed dripped steadily down like a leaky faucet to splatter against the image of his never-to-be born child.
Leon cried for what was lost, what could have been, and for what should have been. Marriage was all about acceptance, forgiveness, and compromise. It's not uncommon for lover's to have their occasional spat so long as they were able to get through it together.
Besides all that they ever needed was trust, support, honesty, and love for each other.