Title: The One That Got Away
By: Marla, otherwise known here as Whisperx.
Video Game: Resident Evil
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Just the type-o's and the dialogue.
Rating: T, just in case.
!Warning!: No warning.
Summary: Claire can't let him get away again. Post RE: D.
Word Count: 2,127
Pairing: Claire/Leon
Authors Note: I hated the ending to Resident Evil: Degeneration. So, I decided to rewrite an even better ending.

***
The One That Got Away

It was then we parted ways. And not just metaphorically. After months of miscommunication and canceled plans with the Government Agent, Claire had chosen to throw her hands up and quit permanently from that moment on.

Even years after the Raccoon tragedy, the ever-surviving crush that often caused her stomach to jump and twist into knots refused to dissipate with harsh amounts of encouragement.

Leon Kennedy undoubtedly did not remain the same shaky personage he was ten years back. Confidence had become his greatest ally in the fight against Umbrella.

Claire had to admit, inwardly, that she missed; even longed for the unsure officer she met when Hell began.

Claire's left leg muscle stiffened and tightened, causing her to pause in mid-step, and glance down. Scoffing at her body's reluctance, Claire kicked a glaring pebble from her path.

A sea of wind passed through her loose untidy tresses as a grim reminder of her feelings.

Chances were this would be the last time and Leon would meet face to face.

Rani's voice squealed obnoxiously with a cute quality, making the brown-haired woman's head jerk upward. The little girl was waving both hands in the air furiously; trying to flag Claire's attention as if she were deaf.

Nibbling on her bottom lip, the survivor raised a polished index finger in Rani's direction indicating patience and a few minutes.

Claire's hand lowered after a moment to join the other against her hip.
Rani, disappointed, nodded and wrapped her shaking arms around her aunt's full frame. The brunette shot the little girl a soothing pearly white smile to ease her ever growing anxiety.

Claire forced herself to swallow a watermelon and pivoted. There was no time to lose-

Leon understood Claire's brash, assertive attitude at most times. Leon would have to come to understand the need boiling like fire in the pit of her stomach. An unnamed frightening all consuming need that threatened to consume her after years of constant suppression and maintenance.

She tried to stop picture Angela's seductive gaze lingering on Leon's lips for too long.

It had been too long, and too hungry for Leon's affection. He was a locked safe on most occasions – but he wouldn't be for much longer. Not if Angela kept pursuing him.

At that moment, Claire made it an imperative objective to endeavor and show Leon what he'd been missing after years of his own self-inflicted solitary confinement.
Angela was incapable of such. After losing Curtis, she revealed an entirely different persona. Perhaps all of her female bravado was a guise after all.

Gravel swirled behind her feet in the wind. The throbbing in her leg was only a small, constant reminder of the other atrocity she and Leon survived just minutes ago.

It was impossible for an abnormal being to bring Claire to a standstill ever again. Not Tyrant, and especially not the insane, self-absorbed plotting Albert Wesker himself.

Life is too short to waste, she realized. Leon Scott Kennedy wouldn't get away from a gun-toting Claire without a fight.

She inhaled heavily and broke into a run.

"Leon! Wait!"

Leon was still in the same spot he'd been in when they first parted ways.

"Redfield?"

He didn't sound too surprised.

Claire's eyes widened inches as a realization piqued her subconscious. Yet she continued to run with vigor, putting passiveness and manners completely behind her.

The setting sun left a dry pattern of rays on her backside as everything seemed to abnormally slow.

Leon's arms were opening, silently encouraging her.

The hermit that always kept to himself was welcoming her advance. Had he anticipated Claire's thoughts?

"I can't leave you. Not again."

Leon smiled, eyes sparkling with emotion and contentment. Claire found herself stopping to stand before him with shock and surprise, unable to complete her objective. He blew a piece of sandy blonde hair that fell in front of his eye away for effect and pulled her into his arms.

"Jesus, Claire," he whispered into her ear, chin resting on her trembling shoulder.
Against Leon's warm chest that made her feel oddly safe, Claire laughed. Out of exhaustion or satisfaction, he wasn't sure.

"What took you so long?" Came that real, genuine voice that she'd remembered with a touch of confidence.

I wasn't the only one with the same thought. Feelings. He had them too.
Instead of shooting back with a witty remark like she often did when they went out for drinks, Claire cupped his cheeks between her palms. Leon automatically supported her by wrapping his arms around her slim waist, to keep the weight off her left foot and snatched his lips.

They exchanged fervent kisses before parting. Leon smoothed a piece of hair from her forehead behind her ear. Claire's chocolate eyes shimmered, clearly enjoying the endearing gesture.

"You mean-you knew…?"

Leon pressed knocked his forehead against Claire's.
"Of course I did," he raised a brow and chuckled heartily. "It was hard to miss. Your expressions always gave you away."

Claire looked over her shoulder at Rani, and turned back to lock eyes with the agent suspiciously.

"You're not humoring me are you Kennedy? Because, if you are-"

"Hell no," Leon rubbed her shoulders comfortingly, attempting to still Claire's impeding earthquake. "We went in different directions, and I wasn't really sure what you really wanted. Claire, you became a rescuer. I couldn't exactly—"

This was too good to be true. Leon Scott was making excuses. Claire could not
afford to be too meticulous.

Even so

Claire opened her mouth to inject when the Agent pinched her lips together tightly between his thumb and index fingers. Claire's lean eyebrows drew together as a wrinkle began forming across her forehead.

Leon seized the moment to take full control.

"Hold on, Red. I'm not finished."

Claire gazed at him reluctantly and fell silent.

His fingers flitted again the ridge of her lips and rested on her cheek. Claire knew Leon was more than serious. More serious than she'd ever seen the Agent.

"I'm listening, Leon." She answered, voice strained.

"I couldn't follow you. You became a rescuer. I wanted to join you. Side by side."

"Then why didn't you…?"

Leon took a second to wave in Aunt's direction, indicating that Claire would meet with them again during a more appropriate hour. The woman nodded and waved back in confirmation. Rani smiled curtly despite the frown on her angelic face as if she understood the circumstances.

Claire eyed Rani for a moment, and swallowed another retort. She stepped back from Leon's seductive embrace and glanced away uncomfortably.

Rani and her aunt left a few minutes later as quietly as possible. Claire watched them leave as the atmosphere between she and Leon thickened.

"Please," He sighed. "Listen to what I have to say,"

The red-head met his eyes and held his gaze.

"You were bent on looking for your brother," Leon shifted from his right foot to his left. "After the government heard of my escape, they asked for my assistance by offering the best Special Forces training available. It was difficult to say no because my life was at a standstill. You and I fell into different professions and frequently lost contact. I fight for the fallen, and you fight to save those who could not save the fallen."

Claire's head tilted back slightly and she nibbled on her bottom lip as she often did when nervousness ate at the edge of her subconscious. Not many were lucky to eat away at the impenetrable shield she created after years of fighting and pushing back those that dared to drill away at her happy-go-lucky façade.
Leon absorbed Claire's sad expression, spoke again, and frowned. Her growing sorrow was pushing a dagger deep into Leon's heart.

"I needed to allow you to do what you wanted."

He licked his dry lips hesitantly and adapted an understanding gaze.

"Being distant was one way to open that path for you. Becoming my job and making little attempts to comfort people like Angela helped to keep the most conflicting of emotions at bay,"

Cautiously, Claire nodded slowly and crossed her arms over her chest tensely. Leon could almost see the gears turning in her pretty little head. She knew /exactly/ what Leon was getting at.

"So," Claire spoke, leaning against the flank of the helicopter. "You closed yourself off from the world just for…me? You didn't want me to get jealous of other girls?"

"Something like that."

Her facial muscles contorted as she smirked in amusement.

"I might have, you know," Claire smiled, chuckling for good measure. "But I was and still am my own person, Leon. You of all people should have known that. I wouldn't give up my dream or aspiration just for you. In a small way, I knew you couldn't follow me. I decided that it was for a different reason. Or at least that was what I tried to convince myself."

Leon hitched his head for a few seconds, and remained silent to absorb her words fully.

"I suppose you're right," Leon shrugged and leaned against the helicopter next to Claire. When she didn't say anything else or make eye contact, Leon bumped his shoulder against hers.

Claire scoffed, planted a kiss on his cheek, and winked.

"You don't like to be wrong, do you Kennedy?" She inquired with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

Leon laughed heartily and stole another glance at Claire, unable to take his eyes off her. The right side of her mouth turned upward slightly more than the left, forming a sort of smile. In all of the years he had known her, he'd never seen her smiled so contently. Every smile was forced; and at other times, scared of losing the moment.

"I guess not," he shrugged his shoulders rhythmically and wrapped a protective arm around Claire's waist. "If its you, I have no desire to be right."

"With me around, you never will be." She winked, turned, and stepped forward with her right foot to board the helicopter. When she and Leon were seated, Claire turned, jeans wrinkling to face Leon as much as she could the in the cramped little space of between the almost backseat.

"Hmm?" Leon absently locked the belts around Claire's waist into place to keep her safe before securing his own.

She gnawed on her upper lip and grinned.

He tilted to the left awkwardly as if to ask: 'What?'

Claire fingered his chin and grasped it gently to keep his gaze fixed on her, watching and waiting to see his reaction to her next statement.

"You do realize I'm gonna be around for a long ass time," she whispered, trying to contain building excitement. "Redfields never leave, Leon."

Leon bit his lips to make an effort to cut off the chortle threatening to vibrate from his throat, "Neither do Kennedy's. At least not more than once."

They shared a warm embrace, trying to close whatever space between them that they could. Both were hungry for affection. Contact. Of course, those needs would be met and cared for later. Much later. They craved to explore and come what began to fill the others worlds in a more comprehensive manner. Neither had made too much of an attempt with previous people they associated with.

Claire couldn't shake the unsettling urge to ask exactly what they were. Were they together? Were they friends with benefits? She blew a wisp of hair from her face and wiped away the frown that was forcing. Wherever they were going, and whoever they were becoming as a whole, Claire couldn't wait to reach their ultimate destination.

The anxiety emanating from Claire grasped Leon and caused him to crush her against him. He knew Claire was afraid of being hurt. He couldn't hurt her. He wouldn't hurt her. He loved her. Whether that love would grow to be something more complex and demanding, he couldn't tell just yet.

And he didn't want to.

Where Claire and Leon were going from here, was up to them and them alone.
What would grow would be bonuses.

Claire smiled softly at Leon, sensing his thoughts and leaned up to catch his trembling lips. This action reaffirmed his suspicions. They could fall in love. And they could feel it.

FIN