AUTHOR: Amet (amet)
FANDOM: Resident Evil (Degeneration, specifically.)
SUMMARY: Leon. Claire. Actual sunlight. Yeah, Leon's not too sure how that happened, either.
PAIRINGS: shades of Leon/Ada, mentions of UST w/ Angela
WARNINGS: NONE, ha!
SPOILERS: Not really any. Mentions some past events, but vaguely.
ARCHIVED: Onion Girls
FEEDBACK: Yes please! ^.^
THANKS: To sephyelysian, because duh. XD
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I don’t know where this came from, but I'm going with it. Apologies for the abrupt ending. ^~
Leon had long understood that Claire Redfield was a collector. She had the skills of an agent, but when you came right down to it she didn't have the heart, couldn't swoop in and save someone and then leave it the hell alone. She didn't want to just be there for people at the worst moment of their lives—she wanted to be there in the aftermath too, helping them rebuild, to be the one reminding them that the world wasn't all nightmares and rubble in the end. He thought maybe she needed the reminding herself, sometimes.
She clung to people, long after the fact. Survivors mostly, and a few peripheral colleagues, keeping herself connected to the world outside the cause with a flurry of emails, phone calls, and the odd Christmas card, letting the trauma of fighting the good fight in the face of such overwhelming odds bind them together in an odd little network of support and intelligence that had her nose in more classified information than Leon really wanted to think about, less for the fact that it meant she was that much more in his business than the visions of how much trouble she would be in if anyone in the agency ever figured it out.
He'd mentioned it to her once, but she'd only laughed and told him not to hurt himself thinking about it too hard. It wasn't about the information, it was about family.
'Sometimes you make your own, she'd explained, smiling wryly.
He'd snorted and told her to tell her 'family' they talked too much.
It made a weird sort of sense, he supposed. She'd tossed herself headlong into the crisis in Racoon City without a thought to how bad it could get, searching for the brother who was literally all she had in the world. Given the elder Redfield's penchant for finding himself on the wrong end of every two bit bad guy's sub-machine gun (among other things) in recent years, a little extra moral support couldn't hurt. Leon was just a little weirded out by his own place in Claire's makeshift family, the tenacity with which she clung to him. Suddenly he found himself with a little sister he hadn’t known he wanted.
And she talked him into the damnedest things.
He squinted into the brightness of the Caribbean sun, wishing he'd thought to bring a pair of shades, sizing up the perfect sandy beach, the clear turquoise water of the ocean lapping the shore, that German couple by the bar who had already assailed him in the hotel lobby this morning to tell him how badly he looked like he needed this vacation. And a tan.
"What kinda place is this?"
Beside him, Claire laughed, playing with the ridiculous little umbrella in her daiquiri—red and white, and wasn't that a laugh and a half? She smiled indulgently, like a teacher humoring a very small child who didn't get it. "Well you did say you wanted to meet up in someplace more normal."
Leon was really starting to think he needed to muzzle himself. Because really, 'normal' wasn't something he did too well anymore. His life had been spectacularly ordinary right up to the day he'd taken that fateful job on the Raccoon City PD—only child, played catch in the backyard with Dad and learned how to make cheese sandwiches on the fly from Mom—but once it'd been blown to hell and back, that'd pretty much been it. The whole idea of being a normal twenty-something hanging out with friends over a drink and talking about... whatever normal people talked about (the weather?) seemed like a waste of time better spent on making it safe for other, more naïve people to happily waste their time.
Claire didn't seem to have that problem. She was as much a workaholic as Leon, that was for damn sure, but she looked completely comfortable lounging in a rattan chair in one of the hotel's beach-front bars, grinning at him as he rolled his eyes and tried not to pay too much attention to the looks she was getting from half the men in the room, dressed in a skimpy pink bikini that made him want to throw a blanket over her and beat the shit out of anyone who got any ideas. She was fine, and frankly would just as soon kick his ass for assuming she couldn’t take care of herself. Leon on the other hand was starting to entertain the idea that he'd somehow stepped into the Twilight Zone when he'd agreed to this little rendezvous.
"Claire," he said soberly, patiently, "Normal for us is a city sewer in the midst of a bioterrorism event. This..."
"Is paradise?" she suggested cheerily, leaning forward to hammer her point home with a stab of that little paper umbrella. "Didn't you promise Angie you'd go diving with her again sometime? She's really been looking forward to seeing you again."
"'Angie'?" he echoed, raising an eyebrow, "I didn't know you two were so close."
Hell, he hadn't known he was that close to Angela Miller, the erstwhile sister of the last nutjob to inject himself with a sample of the G virus. She was cute, he wasn't blind or conceited enough to pretend he couldn't see that, and they'd had a connection back there in Harvardville, but violence tended to hasten that right along at uncomfortable speeds and Leon wasn't naive enough to think it meant anything concrete. He'd been that guy already, fallen hard and fast during that first great disaster, twenty-one and high off the rush of being a big damn hero to the damsel in distress. The thing was, he was nothing if not stupidly loyal and despite her tendency to wipe the floor with him, the intervening years had more than convinced him that no one was going to make him feel the way Ada did.
When she wasn't grinding her stilettos into his face, anyway. He wasn't so much into the masochism.
He wasn't sure how Angela had scored herself an invitation to this little family getaway, was even less sure how he felt about it. He'd spent a lot of time after Harvardville contemplating what it would be like to try for a relationship with someone who could actually reciprocate his affections without trying to kick his teeth in, but he hadn't been able to decide if he would find that a comfort or the adrenaline junkie in him would get bored as soon as he'd gone through the motions of getting her hopes up. Bottom line was that Angela deserved someone who was sure. Who was less emotionally stunted, not that Claire would hear any of that while she was pushing them at each other.
He was just glad he'd been able to convince her not to invite any other blasts from the past, half convinced he was going to show up and find... who knows? Sherry Birkin grinning at him from those ugly leopard print couches in the lobby. The kid was nineteen now, already in college. It made him feel old.
"We traded letters after the whole WilPharma blowout," Claire was saying when he forced himself back to the conversation. "Turns out we have quite a bit in common."
"Like fighting crime?" he deadpanned, crossing his arms over his chest.
"And brothers with overdeveloped hero complexes."
Leon found himself smiling despite himself, shaking his head at the comparison because ouch. "I'm telling Chris you said that."
"Have fun," Claire said, mock-toasting him with her glass. "I already did. He said I needed to get a life so I could get my nose outta his."
"Man's got a point, Claire."
"Oh shush, you," Claire said, sighing melodramatically before she sobered and continued, "Seriously, Leon, what are you so worried about? A couple of days out on the beach, soaking in the rays, and you'll have that tan everybody keeps saying you need."
She made a show of looking him up and down, from the horrendous board shorts she'd forced him into on a shopping trip earlier in the afternoon to the loud t-shirt that went with, off-color clothing leaving him feeling exposed, antsy. He didn't like people looking at his knees.
Claire shook her head. "Which you do. You're all... clammy."
Leon refused to dignify that one with a response, answering her other question instead, eying a particularly drunken local as he teetered a little closer to their table than Leon was strictly comfortable with until he was on his way again. He was gratified to note Claire stiffening ever-so-slightly along with him, drink frozen halfway to her lips until the man had passed.
"I'm just waiting for one of the locals to start shouting obscenities and come at me with a broken beer bottle."
Claire rolled her eyes, patting him on the shoulder sympathetically.
"Proof positive that you seriously need this vacation."
Leon scoffed. "Don't think I don’t know you were thinking it too."
She bought him a piña colada, made sure they put one of those ridiculous little umbrellas in it and mocked him for the rest of the afternoon.