DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of three stories for International Day of Femslash 2012's Big Bang. I think Project Alice fits the Olympic Motto (faster, higher, stronger) by nature of her genetic tampering. She uses her powers for good, but since the tampering is a little steroid-y, I also think the Olympic Creed fits this series perfectly. It's all about struggle and survival against the best (of the worst) humanity has to offer. Happy to hear any thoughts. Special thanks to Dakota, my heart, my muse, and my ever-vigilant editor.
SPOILERS: This picks up with Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth movie in the series, and is a sequel to my story After Extinction. A now-human Alice has just found Claire Redfield in an airplane graveyard in Alaska.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To missmonaj[at]yahoo.com
Resident Evil - Prison
Alice tightens the rope around Claire's wrists, knowing that she can probably slip the knot anyway. It's getting cold, so she lights a fire. She even has time to rig a tarp over a wing for something of a lean-to. They could sleep inside a plane, but the cold is pretty fierce, and keeping up the fire is more practical.
She lets the litany of details distract her from the fact that her lover tried to attack her and now lay injured and unconscious due to Alice's vicious kick. She scrounges a bucket and boils seawater so they can clean up, starting with the scarab piercing Claire's chest. Six knives hook into skin enough to make Claire moan when she pulls.
"Shit!" The last time she'd touched this woman's body had been in pleasure. Over eighteen months, she hasn't let herself think for a second that Claire would be anything other than safe. And now she feels lucky to have found her at all. Has she been surviving in this graveyard of planes? What the fuck did this, and why had Claire attacked her?
Locking her jaw, she gets her knife out. After twenty minutes of examining the device, she takes a deep breath and slips the tip between the belly of the spider and Claire's vulnerable skin.
Alice has to stop, her hand shaking so much she nicks Claire's chest. She cannot breathe, and bathes the wound gently. Steeling herself for another try, she chokes back a sob. This is the last person in the world she wants to hurt. Claire is hope and life and, frankly, the only thing Alice has seen any evidence of that would be worth living for.
Just then, the tip of her knife scrapes something on the underside of the scarab. It releases with a sucking mechanical sound that sends chills down Alice's spine. Pulling it free, she flinches when Claire's body rolls in on itself and she moans.
The worst over, Alice leans down to address the wounds, guiding Claire's knees away from her chest. A bruise is already forming on the breastbone where Alice had kicked her. The cuts from the spider are not deep, but they're already agitated, like she's allergic to the piercing metal. With no first aid, she can only clean it. Claire flinches almost every time she touches the area, and the redhead is practically skin and bone.
Alice thinks of her body before, how curvy and healthy Claire had been. How she'd felt in her arms. She thinks of sleep and safety and again of the fantasy that Arcadia could save them. Despair threatens the thread of hope she'd felt when she turned this body over to find it was Claire.
Swiping a hand across her eyes, she retreats to the fire to examine the scarab. It's definitely Umbrella-wicked. Despite her best efforts, they're still out there, terrorizing what little is left of the world. She shivers again, and realizes that the temperature is dropping. Gathering more wood, she starts to plan what they'll do if Claire needs a couple of days to recover.
Claire wakes with a start, finding immediately that her hands are tied and she can barely move. She panics, struggling to free herself, until a voice penetrates the fog. Tries to reason with her. Tells her she's safe, as though the word means something.
"Arcadia, remember?" Alice's chest aches at Claire's blank look. "Do you remember anything?"
That's the word that makes her start struggling again. No. She doesn't remember anything, her name, her life, her family, whether or not she even has any... Her world is blank. All she knows is blackness and cold and fear. Something inside shuts down at that, becoming very still, very quiet. She breathes deep and slow, gaining enough control to look Alice in the eye and shake her head once.
Claire can read the disappointment on Alice's face, in her posture. That disappointment hits her in the gut for some reason, and she knows herself to be a failure. Whatever got her here, there's no way it's what she wanted or intended. And now it feels like that spider the woman is waving at her has released a thousand babies to crawl all over her skin.
She begins to fight again, kicking deeper rows in the mud. "I'm not a fucking animal." Her voice is ragged, words clumsy and slurred, like she hasn't spoken in a long time.
Venom and fear and desperation in her eyes make Alice's chest hurt. "I'm sorry I had to tie you up. It's not fair, but I have a lot of respect for your abilities and instincts. You kept a group of sixty-plus alive for more than two years before you brought the survivors of the Vegas ambush up here." She waits, hoping for some flicker of recognition, but Claire is still staring daggers at her. "I can't trust you not to kill me as soon as my back is turned." She pauses, uncertain whether she should say the next, until she remembers how close she came to losing Claire completely. Then she has to say it... "And I can't lose you again."
Claire waits for her to explain that, to tell her more, but she's not prepared to ask. As far as she's concerned, these are fairy tales. She needs to figure out whether to trust Alice or not. Those instincts the mysterious woman complimented her on are still sluggish. She's so tired, and freezing despite the fire.
She tenses when Alice moves toward her with a bucket, showing her it contains only steaming water and a rag.
"It's still a little salty, so the water could sting. But it's warm." Alice tries to be reassuring as she kneels closer, moving slowly. She hesitates when she gets within reach. "You may not remember right now, but I've seen what those legs are capable of. Please just trust me enough to clean you up a little and make sure there are no other injuries? Then we'll talk about a more comfortable position."
Claire thinks for a moment, if you could call the muddled fog floating through her brain logic, and nods. Perfect negotiation technique: keep your voice even, your presence non-threatening...the instructions go on, a male voice in her ear. No face. No name. She scratches at the memories, trying to reveal more. But it doesn't help, and only makes her feel more useless as her head starts to pound.
Alice touches Claire's face with the warm, wet cloth, the softest she could find in her meager gear. The redhead flinches from her, holding her breath until Alice leans away to re-immerse it in the water. Over and over again, until she starts to look more like Claire again. Alice thinks of when they'd first met, remembering how unsettling it was to be touched after so long. But how can she comfort Claire if the bound woman is--justifiably--suspicious of every word and afraid of her touch?
Eighteen months ago, it was Claire's touch that had captured something inside Alice and brought her back to life. Now it's time for Alice to take care of her, and she's doing a piss-poor job of it.
It's a tense half hour, but Alice cleans all the skin that she can see. Dark eyes watch her every move, struggling to stay awake, but too frightened to let herself sleep. "I need to check your back and chest. May I?"
Claire nods again, so tired of fighting, while the brunette makes quick work of looking her over and rinsing her off. The water has grown cool and drips like ice down her body. Her teeth start to chatter, and she closes her eyes at a wave of dizziness.
"A bunch of bruises and scrapes. Obvious nutrition deficiency, but you're alive." Alice doesn't bother to conceal the relief in her voice. It's hard leaving Claire her space, when all she wants is to hug her close for a week or so. She probes around the edges of a bruise, concerned about the skin tone. In this light, every nick looks garish and painful. But Claire gasps and jerks away. "Sorry! Fuck, I'm so sorry..."
Alice lowers the shirt and brushes a fingertip beside the skin she'd nicked earlier. "I'm afraid this one's my fault." She touches the discoloration at her breastbone. "And this, from when I kicked you."
"Have you always hated me, or is this a new thing?" Claire takes deep breaths through the lingering pain.
Alice laughs, nervous. At least something besides the stubbornness has survived Claire's ordeal. "We did have an interesting few days, but no, I never hated you."
Something inside Claire notes the hesitation. There's so much she cannot access. Her head--her whole body--aches. Reality ceased to be a possibility when Alice was cleaning her, murmuring horrifying stories of monsters and conspiracies and a mutated world. Adding things she'd need to remember for the immediate future just to stay alive. It's too much, and she feels tears forcing their way to her eyes. "Please untie me?"
Alice hates herself in that moment. Because self-preservation wins.
"I'll compromise... I have some clean clothes for you. Use the plane. Finish washing, change, and then you can get some sleep. Hands tied only." She watches the redhead fight the urge to argue, tears shining as they track silently down her cheeks. "You don't have to like it, but humor me until we come to an understanding."
"Do I have a choice?" Claire hates the petulance in her voice, the salty streaks drying on her face.
"I could knock you out again." Alice is kidding, forgetting for a moment that amnesiac Claire would have no clue that she couldn't hurt her on purpose, ever.
Claire feels trapped and hates that too. She doesn't trust anything right now, much less herself. But something whispers that she's okay now. Safe suddenly has a little meaning again, despite Alice's threat. "Deal."
Alice hopes she is doing the right thing, and takes the bucket to the plane. She's left clothes inside and made sure there's nothing Claire could use against her. Then she unties the redhead and steps away. Her hand twitches with the need to pull her sidearm, but she doesn't want to make Claire's transition more traumatic than it already is.
Claire eyes Alice, making sure she stays back. There's no escape, and she knows that she is too weak to fight with no weapon or tactical advantage. She climbs into the plane and takes her time, trying to find a way out, but the fog descends again, a curtain between her body and mind. At least she's relatively clean now, the clothes warmer than the mud-caked rags she tosses out the open hatch.
Alice gathers them to burn after dinner and whistles low when Claire emerges looking much more herself. "Welcome back."
Claire nods at the sentiment, rubbing her wrists where the ropes will soon dig in again. She's contemplating what she can do to avoid the tying up when a hunger pang doubles her over.
Alice is at Claire's side in a heartbeat, lowering her to the pallet she'd made by the fire. She pulls over a small metal pan of food she'd prepared for them, but the redhead shakes her off. "You have to eat, sweetheart. I don't know how long it's been." Claire is still curled into herself, and refuses to budge. "Two bites and I'll let you sleep."
Claire breathes through the worst of the pain, and grumbles, "I think you hate me." Then another pang hits and she gasps, squeezing Alice's hand with what little strength she has. But she takes one bite. Then another. She considers giving into sleep then, but the food hits her stomach and a memory blooms bright for a heartbeat, of Alice smiling at her from a fire-lit ring of happy people.
It's gone before Claire can examine it, but the moment is enough to wake her appetite. She lets Alice feed her the rest, watching her with more interest now than fear. Then the woman is kneeling in front of her again, binding her wrists. Some part of her understands, but the other part stares at Alice with all the betrayal she feels.
"I'm so sorry, Claire... I swear I'll make it up to you." Alice wants to cry when Claire looks away coldly. "Get some sleep. We'll get moving in the morning."
Alice waits until Claire falls asleep, and ties the shivering redhead to herself in two different places. Every time she shifts, all night long, Alice checks on her. But she never wakes, much less tries to run.
By morning, Alice has gotten a total of three hours of sleep, and Claire is more sarcastic but less belligerent. At least it's progress. She's plotted a short day, knowing that they'll need more sleep soon.
Claire grits her teeth and obeys the respectful requests from Alice, made a little more difficult because of her sluggish reaction time and still-tied wrists. They find fresh water to bathe in, and her hands are untied long enough for her to wash her hair. Her wrists are already raw, the skin torn in a couple places from last night's struggles against the plane. All in all though, she is starting to feel better. More awake. Still very sore, and suffering from both a hangover and flu-like fuzziness in her head.
They fly for a few hours, her tied and asleep most of the time. As soon as they were in the air, she'd passed out, dreams dark shadows and incomprehensible white noise. She wakes as they touch down again, somewhere green and warmer than Alaska had been. Still right on the water though.
Alice babbles at her as they make camp, trying to fill in some of the blanks, talking out what might have happened to her, how she might have survived this long... Claire remembers nothing yet, so she keeps her mouth shut, silently helping with the physical labor where she can. She watches Alice hunt, and they settle down after dark to a dinner of rabbit and rice.
By now the brunette has given up on getting her to talk. The silence seems a little petulant to Claire. Maybe she is being childish, but she's not going to talk to Alice until the woman treats her more like the human being--and purported friend--that she claims to be. Most maddening is that, despite all the babbling, Alice had yet to mention her name. Something so simple could go a long way toward making her feel more like herself. Claire can't tell if she's withholding the information or not.
If Claire weren't so fucking tired from the drugs, she would ask, would argue, would fight back a little more. As it is, she figures Alice deserves the light sleep, and settles down with her back to the woman.
Full now and warmer, Claire wonders if she's being too hard on Alice. So far, she's been nothing but kind and patient. As she turns this information over in her increasingly clear mind, the wind picks up, and the temperature drops rapidly. Curled in on herself, covered by the thin blanket Alice had found, she finally falls into another haunted sleep.
Alice puts away the little food that's left, turning the rabbit jerky over the fire. It's the first fresh meat she's had in months, but they're isolated enough for her to feel confident that the herbivore rabbit is virus-free.
She adds more logs, and gathers more after that. An icy wind blows in from the northwest, the first bellow of a harsh winter. It's good they're headed south. But they hadn't beaten this storm. Alice watches her freezing charge from across the fire, shivering as she remembers how they used to solve this problem.
Truth is, all Alice wants is to hold Claire close. But she stays on her side of the fire and dozes until it starts to hail. With Claire positioned under the wing already, she tightens the tarp and stokes the fire. It protects them from the worst, but the temperature is below freezing now, and Alice isn't taking any chances.
In a few quick moves, she's zipped their sleeping bags together, and they lay in a cozy cocoon. Alice rubs the goose bump covered arms, feeling another pang of guilt at the rope she encounters at Claire's wrists. She knows the moment the redhead wakes.
"Is anything coming back to you?" Alice takes Claire's cold fists into her hands, rubbing warmth into them as they wait for the raw wood to catch.
Claire takes a moment to feel Alice behind her. There is some familiarity, but not enough to fully trust her...yet. Still, she hasn't felt unsafe in Alice's presence. Unsettled, yes. And completely still at times. The problem is, she has nothing to use as litmus, no proof of what is normal for them. Just Alice, always close, always concerned.
"I'm not scared of you." Claire's voice is raw. It's the first thing she's said in hours. She tries to stiffen more in Alice's arms, but ends up wiggling closer, deeper. The other woman is so warm, so inviting. She tries again, "And I'm no danger to you."
Alice closes her eyes, hoping that means Claire is remembering details. Maybe even details of the time they'd spent together. It's so hard not to smother Claire with attention, with kisses, with reverence and patience and glee. This embrace is the closest thing she's felt to home since their separation. "I want that to be true."
Claire waits, but Alice doesn't say any more. And doesn't let her go. She will not beg. But she's very close to challenging Alice for her freedom. Moments like this keep her from it. And the tied hands, of course. Alice strokes the rawness around her wrists even now, and Claire eventually forgets she's bound, relaxing more into the embrace.
Finally warm, they both sleep. Alice had forgotten to tie Claire to her, but she also holds her all night long. "Claire..." she mumbles in her exhaustion, squeezing tighter.
Claire wakes, groggy, panicked. "What?" She waits for an answer, but nothing comes. Then Alice moves against her back, murmuring in her sleep. A hot breath on the back of her neck sends a shiver down Claire's spine and a bolt of need to her center. She reaches up to wrap a fist in Alice's hair, but can't move much with her hands still tied.
A hot wave of frustration flashes through Claire, but not fast enough to quell the moment of stark desire and an image of her bound to a bed by the persuasive pressure of Alice's tongue. A quiet moan escapes, and she floats on a sea of fantasy, waiting for some continuation. But Alice doesn't stir again, and the comfort of the woman all around her lulls Claire back to sleep.
Alice lets Claire go untied in the morning, but binds her wrists again as they prepare to take off. Something changed in the night, and the tension between them crackles rather than flames. It's still an improvement.
"This is getting kind of kinky." Claire looks right through Alice, wanting a reaction. The brunette is so fucking stoic that she's impossible to read, but Claire needs some explanation for her visceral response last night. For the heat stealing up her arms right now.
Alice is trying to disguise the tremor in her hands, and the comment doesn't help. If Claire only knew, only remembered...it is she who is the kinky one.
Luckily for Alice, Claire falls asleep as soon as they are in the air.
The next moments they get alone are at the Citadel. It's not that late, but Claire feels like she's been awake for days. She made herself eat, and waits in the cell that is to belong to her and Alice. She thought she'd feel more comfortable away from the attention of sea foam green eyes, but she's only grown more restless. Her memory has started to return, but things are still fuzzy, and everything she comes up with seems to be an incomplete thought.
A thousand questions, and every answer just a bit out of reach. The tattered mattress above her doesn't hold any solutions. The one she lay on though feels like a cloud compared to the cold ground of the last couple days. Well, the last year at least, if Alice is right. Tears threaten at the thought, the first she's allowed herself since waking in this nightmare.
Alice arrives a while after dinner, stacking her gear on the top bunk as quietly as she can. She stretches and pops crawl up her spine, the cracking a welcome relief. It makes her wonder how Claire is, if the physical symptoms of the drug withdrawal have gotten any better. It was hard to leave her alone today, to give her time to think.
Alice eyes the lower bunk and Claire curled into a ball. Her heart turns over at the sight, and she fights the urge to tuck the small woman in. It takes her a second to realize that Claire is still awake and is now staring at her in thoughtful silence. Alice blushes, grateful for the low light. "Hey."
Claire blinks in response, stuck in the realization that this is the scent that suffuses the plane and her clothes, making her sleepy and comfortable. Alice. She listens to the woman climb to the mattress above her, traces the small dip with her hand. It finally feels like she can breathe.
"How're you holding up?" Alice keeps the concern at a minimum, hoping Claire will continue to open up to her after their intense day.
"From ropes to bars...might be going in the wrong direction." Claire realizes she's shaking again, but she's not sure if it's from the cold clamminess of the place, or the space between her and Alice. Three deep breaths later, and it's not any clearer.
"I feel like there's something I need from you." Claire doesn't expect an answer, but wants one anyway, and continues, "You've told me about the caravan and our friends. That it was you who brought Arcadia to our attention. That you were once infected... So much, but I still feel like there's something that you're keeping from me."
The brunette tries to pretend that she's asleep, but Claire thumps the mattress and filters the desperation from her voice. The result is a low purr that is not remotely as stern as she intended, "Hey, I'm not falling for that shit. Talk to me."
Alice is torn between telling her lover everything and remaining stubbornly quiet, waiting for her to remember whatever it is she's going to remember. "If you're lucky enough to forget the details of the horrible things we've been through, then I don't want to be the one who takes that peace from you."
The way the woman said it makes Claire's chest ache, and she shivers again. "You know how much I hate this, don't you?" Still no real answer, and Claire sighs. "At least tell me something about myself that only you know. Something I shared with you in confidence maybe?"
Alice takes a deep breath, wanting to tell her everything they'd shared... But what does she know of Claire's feelings? They never got the opportunity to talk about it before Claire took the survivors north. Whatever the intensity of her feelings for Claire, it's entirely possible that the redhead does not share them. Especially after so long apart and no memory of their affair.
Still, Alice cannot resist the subtle plea in her lover's voice, and says, "You like hand-rolled cigarettes because they remind you of a first time." She doesn't elaborate that it is their first time. Or that the instance bonded them in a way that she alone now feels and aches for every minute they're near one another, and twice as much when they are not.
"Thank you." Claire sighs into the dark, but doesn't push her luck. "Will you tell me more tomorrow?"
Alice listens for more in Claire's simple reply, wanting there to be some spark of memory or instinct or something. But the redhead stays silent, waiting for her answer. "If you still need it by then."
Claire accepts that and tries again to fall asleep, but she's so cold, it feels like she's shaking apart from the inside out.
"Does the blanket not help at all?" Alice's voice isn't loud, but she feels it echo around the small room.
"Some. I just can't seem to get normal. Temperature-wise or anything else. Off balance." Claire is surprised that she'd noticed. Then again, she's really not. Since they've been here, it has become clear to her that Alice's attention and concern seem to be reserved for her. How she can feel that way when she spent most of the evening watching Arcadia through the binoculars is a mystery, but Claire is certain it's true. Something about the way Alice tracks her across a room, keeping an eye out but giving her space, interrupting conversations with other people to reassure her. And she touches Claire, while she doesn't touch anyone else.
There is a pause, and the mattress above squeaks with movement. Then Alice is slipping behind her, wrapping her up in that warm, strong embrace again. Claire hadn't fought the spooning last night because she was freezing. It's cold here, but much warmer than what she'd been enduring in the wilds of Alaska... She doesn't fight now because she wants the contact. A large part of her even needs it.
"This okay?" Alice whispers it, only interested in the answer if it's yes. Frankly, the only way she's going to get any sleep is holding Claire. She'd almost dumped them off a building today. Almost lost her again. Tonight Alice needs to hold her and know that Claire is real and alive and within her reach.
"Yes." Claire closes her eyes, pulling Alice's arm around her stomach, tucking it in between her breasts. Better. Warmer. Safe. More and more, that's what she feels around this woman. Laying here, wrapped in Alice's arms, wearing her clothes, Claire knows that the few moments of peace she's found have all been because of her.
Sleep comes faster for Alice once she's wrapped around the redhead. Halfway out, she turns even more into Claire, pulling her closer, moaning softly into the crook of her neck. She finally settles again, knee now tucked between thighs she dreams of parting with much more intent.
Claire's body flares to life at that moment, and she suddenly wants Alice flush against her, naked and writhing beneath her tongue. The force of need is all-encompassing, and her body warms quickly. Then it burns, yearning for Alice's touch, her mouth, her weight. More than anything, she wants the woman inside her, deep and driving and relentless to the point of exhaustion.
The instinct to roll over and kiss her is so acute that Claire can't breathe. But she won't move, afraid that Alice will pull away, when those arms are the only thing holding her together. Whatever her life was before, now it consists of little more than Alice and survival. It also feels like she can't have one without the other.
Claire holds tighter to the arm trapped between her breasts and breathes as steadily as she can. Eventually she sleeps, dreaming of languorous moments and long kisses and pleasure that she can't quite reach.
The next time Claire wakes, they've shifted again. She's on her back now, holding Alice across her chest. She's already buzzing with desire, everywhere the brunette touches sensitive to the slightest change. A knee is thrown across her hips, Alice's tiny shorts revealing enough thigh to give Claire ideas...of those thighs straddling her; of her fingernails leaving crescent moons on Alice's hips; of Alice's teeth leaving marks on her.
Alice's torso splays comfortably over Claire, hand intimately pressed beneath the redhead's shirt, head tucked into the crook under her arm. Everything speaks of familiarity and possession, and she buries her hands in Alice's hair. The brunette murmurs against her neck and her whole body shudders in response.
Then Alice is awake, half pulling away, no clue where she is for a moment. Claire is beneath her, and her arm is trapped under the shirt, burning against hot, naked skin. Details register: fingertips on collarbone, nipple half-hard against her wrist, soft belly against inner-elbow. Their legs tangle so that she is trapped in the embrace even more.
Laying back down, Alice tries to regulate her breathing. Claire's fingers still trail through her hair, and it helps her relax. This is, after all, exactly what she wants.
"Tell me something else?" Claire is afraid she'll go, and is willing to try anything to keep her where she is.
"Like what?" Alice is beyond thought, dizzy with the need to slide down Claire's body and reclaim every part of her lover.
"Am I... Was I married or something?" She takes a short breath and dives in, subconsciously holding Alice tighter. "Is there someone I'm betraying by wanting you?"
Alice stills completely. She doesn't know what to do or how honest to be. She just wants to scream from the rooftops, Me! It's me!
"Rise and shine, ladies! Breakfast in ten." Luther is discreet, but he still sees the beautiful women tangled together on the small bunk. He walks away grumbling about the irony of two of the last hot ladies on earth only being hot for each other.
Alice starts to pull away, grateful for the interruption. But Claire holds her tight, demanding an answer. Alice meets her eyes in the dim morning light, hips involuntarily arching into the smaller woman. "You're not married."
Claire is so relieved, she lets her arms fall.
It's enough space for Alice to rise smoothly, grinning slightly as she says, "I slept really well. Thank you." She turns and goes before she accidentally says more. She needs to decide soon though how far she'll go with a Claire that may not be all there memory-wise, but who knows exactly what she wants physically.
Claire watches her go. When the brunette turns back, Claire decides that she is tired of waiting for the drugs to wear off. Alice doesn't seem to be immune to her. Though the older woman had done nothing untoward, she does respond to Claire's touch. Sometimes even her voice. Especially when they sleep.
What if she never gets her memory back? If these shadows and random feelings are all she gets to build a new life on?
Her instincts tell her to stick with Alice and explore whatever is between them. Alice tells her that her instincts have kept her alive through the extinction of an entire planet. And, for whatever reason, Claire has decided to trust Alice.
At breakfast, she sits close to the other woman, not wanting their progress to slip away. But they don't get anymore time together before all hell breaks loose.
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