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01 May 2009 @ 07:20 pm
[fic] under twenty-four hours  
Title: Under Twenty-Four Hours
Fandom: Resident Evil
Characters: Claire Redfield
Rating: PG-ish?
Notes: Post RE2, prior to RE: Code Veronica

She reached the hotel by midnight only after a long, grueling four hours at the airport. No flights leaving the country for her destination until nearly six pm the next evening, and - still wired on adrenaline and not having slept in days - Claire slammed her hand down on the counter and all but shouted at the clerk, "That's not good enough!"

But it had to be, in the end. Claire was fortunate that she already had a passport, not to mention the funds to even purchase such a ticket at the last minute. No fourteen-day-advance discount for her. Granted the money had to be pulled out of her savings account, which contained a hefty sum from a trust fund her parents had left to both her and Chris. She'd been good about not touching it for anything unrelated to school up until then, and she silently begged her parents to understand. This was an emergency; Chris needed her.

Ticket bought and in hand, she'd had no other option but to leave the airport and find her way to the department store. There she purchased the basics: some clean clothes - just enough that would fit into a duffel bag - a hairbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner... Necessities, things that had been on a bag attached to her motorcycle...

Back in Raccoon City.

What remained of it, anyway.

Claire refused to think about it. Not yet, not when there were things still left to do and she needed to keep moving, just go go go because if she stopped to do anything else, she was surely going to pass out.

Shopping completed, she found her way to a hotel, left with nothing else to occupy her time until the following evening. Nearly midnight when she got there, and the girl behind the counter gave her a bit of a curious look. I probably look like hell, is why. Hair frazzled and a mess, still dusty and dirty from the days spent in a zombie-infested city, and her clothes looked like she'd been wearing them for a week straight... which wasn't far from the truth. The girl behind the counter probably thought she was some bum that came across cash in some unfortunate soul's pocketbook or somesuch. Claire grinned thinly at her, handed over the cash in exchange for a card-key, and took her leave to the fourth floor.

Room five-oh-five. Peachy.

Inside smelled like lilacs and clean linen. Clean. No scent of rot and decay here, and she wasn't entirely sure what to make of that. Admit it, you're still half-expecting some nightmarish, maggot-infested creature to come shambling out of the closet when you aren't looking. Except that wouldn't be happening. Not there. She was nearly a hundred miles away from Raccoon City, which had been completely obliterated not long after she, Leon and Sherry had made their escape... Even if some of the infection had managed to seep outside the city limits (which she doubted, honestly) it would have been all over the news, she would have seen the signs... and regardless, it would not have reached this far this fast. I'm safe, for now.

With those thoughts in mind as pathetic self-reassurance, Claire began removing her clothing in order to get herself cleaned up for the first time in nearly a week.

The articles were discarded on the floor of the bathroom, and she cranked the water on as hot as she could possibly stand it. Several days in Raccoon had been spent in the rain, and she was sick of cold water anymore.

Unfortunately the heat reminded her of how painfully sore she was, and the water bit into wounds that were probably getting infected after so long of being untreated. She grit her teeth, bowing forward and bracing her hands against the cold tile. With her gaze down, she was able to watch the mixture of dirt and blood swirling down the drain even as the minutes ticked by. Part of her was tempted to simply sit down, lean back and go to sleep right there in the tub, with the force of the water pounding away on sore and still tense muscles.

The cleaning process was slow and purposeful, however. She scrubbed at her skin, opened up the new bottle of shampoo and conditioner and cleansed the grime from her hair. All in all, she spent over an hour in there, not satisfied even once the hot water was off. (She paused then, listening for anything outside in the rest of the room. Habit anymore...)

She'd purchased an oversized white t-shirt to wear for sleeping, for no reason other than the hope that it would feel familiar. Fruit-of-the-loom, the same brand and size Chris wore around the house, and the fit of it was the same on her as his always had been. No dice; it doesn't smell like him, she thought dismally, but sank down into the bed regardless.

It was there that she found herself, at long last, without anything else to do and nothing else to preoccupy her mind. The adrenaline had drained from her system, leaving behind a dull, achy and bone-deep exhaustion she'd never experienced before. Her body didn't seem to want to relax, too tightly wound and sore. She couldn't help but reflect on the last several days, on the atrocities of the city she'd fled, of the two she'd left behind -- Leon S. Kennedy and Sherry Birkin. She wouldn't have been alive if it weren't for them, and for the mysterious figure that had shown up at the end of it all...

Claire forced her eyes to close, willed herself not to see the shadows that played in the room, behind her eyelids. It was the first time she'd been alone in awhile, left in the dark, and her heart was wanting to start pounding again and was too tired to do so.

Alone. Without a trained cop, without a little girl to focus her attention on so the fear didn't seep in. Without Big Brother Chris to take care of you, right? That's the real reason you want to find him.

And it doesn't even matter. He's halfway across the world... assuming he's even still alive.

She let out a soft, choked sound involuntarily. Lifted a hand, pressed it to her mouth. There was a distinct possibility that Chris had gotten in over his head, had been killed or captured or infected... Roaming the streets with a shuffling, staggering gait, howling angrily for blood.

Stop it.

Another choked sound, closer to a sob, and Claire found herself shaking. The weight of everything sank into the very core of her, the things she'd witness, the number of people she'd killed

They were dead already no no it wasn't my fault

and -- what now? Now that she knew too much for Umbrella's liking, that she could never sleep again without seeing snarling, rotting faces when she closed her eyes. Her body trembled and shook and every muscle ached in protest. She cried and she cried hard, thick sobs occasionally interrupted by a short and less than sane sound not unlike a laugh. She was a lit major, for crying out loud, and to think that she'd spent the last few days cracking bullets into the heads of zombies and genetically engineered monstrosities of one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies...

Claire cried for the better part of an hour, until sheer exhaustion won out and

thank you god

her body had no choice but to lay there, limp and relaxed amongst an unfamiliar set of blankets in an unfamiliar bed in a shirt that did not smell like her brother like it should have.

She lay there and stared at the ceiling through half-lidded eyes, feeling numb to it all, feeling better because of it. Just a quick breakdown because she'd not allowed it prior to then. Let it out when you have to, Chris would have told her, because it was safe there and no one was around to see it. She'd let it out and now she could sleep, heedless of nightmares and... tomorrow, the story would continue and she'd stand up and face it as bravely and clear-headed as she'd done in Raccoon City.

In the morning she would get up. Dress herself, spend her day working out plans in her head and on paper, maybe even taking another shower. She'd eat breakfast and lunch, would save dinner for eating on the plane.

She'd be on her way in under twenty-four hours and she would find her brother.

He'd be waiting for her.
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