Part 1: Claire
Fandom: Resident Evil
Series: these ink-stained memories
Warnings: angst, unrequired love.
Word Count: 1188
Disclaimer: If I owned it, everyone would be in love with Leon.
Summary: 5 people who never told Leon Kennedy they loved him.
Claire has never spent much time in Raccoon City. She was taking summer classes when Chris moved there so she’s only come to visit during a few school holidays. She tries not to intrude too much since S.T.A.R.S. keeps her brother busy and they get by with weekly phone calls otherwise. Chris has never missed a phone call without notice – even in the army, he’d leave her messages – so Claire assumes the worst when he suddenly stops answering.
Her friends tell her not to worry, that he probably just forgot, but they don’t know Claire’s brother. He’s responsible to a fault when it comes to his little sister. It’s been the two of them against the world ever since their parents died and he would never go AWOL willingly. If his phone was merely broken, Chris would have called by now.
The news isn’t reassuring. What little Claire can find talks about a bad S.T.A.R.S mission and no one at the R.P.D. will tell her anything. So after several weeks of silence, she decides she’s had enough. She tells her friends she’s leaving, packs up her bike, and drives to Raccoon City to get answers on her own.
Claire is prepared to camp out in the R.P.D.'s ridiculously fancy lobby until she hears from her older brother. She’s not prepared to drive into some kind of zombie apocalypse and she certainly doesn’t expect to meet a guy she likes at the same time.
Leon saves her life and offers her a ride and Claire needs something good to focus on. She’d rather talk to him than think about the corpses, although they’re still barely more than strangers when luck forces them apart.
However, that first brief conversation is enough to pique her interest since the man somehow manages to be both chivalrous and stupidly attractive while running for his life. Leon tries to protect her without being overbearing; he offers her a gun without any hesitation and considering the situation, Claire could kiss him just for that. Even when she loses him, knowing that she’s not alone helps her stave off panic and she wishes they could have met in better times.
So Claire flirts with Leon when they're briefly reunited and he flirts back awkwardly, his shy grin the warmest thing she's seen since she crossed the city line. She doesn't ask him out, not yet, but she hopes she gets the chance.
Dreaming about the future makes Claire struggle that much harder and she's overjoyed to see him down in Umbrella's lab. Leon looks like he's been through the ringer when he joins her on the train, but the man is breathing. Somehow they both survived.
The first few days after her escape pass by in a grey fog. She doesn’t have the energy to do anything but sleep and it’s almost worse when she recovers enough to feel again. She’s twitchy and paranoid, jumping at every shadow in case there are zombies in the dark. Claire doesn't think that she could bear another outbreak, not when she and Sherry barely made it out.
But Leon understands. The man doesn't judge her for her fears and she doesn't judge his wariness. Instead, they support each other through those awful early days. They hold each other through the nightmares, Leon’s quiet comfort helping Claire hold it together when she wants to crack apart. Together they’re almost functional and they do their best to ensure that Sherry is well taken care of; no matter what they’re in agreement that she’s their first priority. The girl deserves to be a child after everything she's seen and if he weren't dead already, Claire would track down William Birkin to punch him in the face.
From what she knows of Sherry's family, Leon is already a better father than the girl has ever had. He’s so gentle with her, supportive and protective, and Claire knows that he would die for her without a second thought. Leon is a fighter – he wouldn't have survived Raccoon City otherwise – but for all his skill in combat, it's his kindness that she loves.
So Claire kisses him one evening back in their hotel. She's nervous when she leans in, her stomach full of butterflies. But Leon kisses back.
They fall into bed together, trying to keep quiet so that Sherry doesn't wake. It's new and a little awkward, knees bumping and muffled giggles underneath the blankets, and it's certainly not the romantic first time she might have liked. But Leon is as sweet as Claire had hoped as they squeeze onto that tiny mattress. His hands are gentle on her skin and his stomach firm beneath her fingers, and she lets herself fall happily.
In the morning, Claire feels like a new woman. She can see the future stretching out before her and she wants to walk it with Leon hand in hand. Maybe they can be a family: the two of them and Sherry, and she's never wanted anything this much.
But when she finally sits up, the bed-sheet pulls away from Leon's shoulder and she doesn't see her name upon his skin. Claire sees Ada Wong scrawled in crimson letters and when she reads those words, she knows that she's a fool. Leon has mentioned Ada, the woman that he met in Raccoon City, and if he's pining for some stranger, how could he love her? Leon probably only kissed her back because he's lonely and Claire doesn't want him settling. She doesn't want to be his second choice.
So Claire starts to pull away, trying to protect her heart from further pain. It's too late not to love him – Leon is still a sweetheart – but she knows she cannot stay. If she does, she'll fall too deep to ever walk away.
She focuses on her search for Chris and the fight against Umbrella. She still needs to find her brother and she thinks that he's in Europe. That's what his letter said.
Claire ignores the name that's drawn upon her heart. She keeps the marking hidden so that Leon won't feel guilty; it's not his fault that he loves Ada instead of her. Indeed, the man will always be her friend; that much she doesn't doubt. But Leon isn't hers to hold. He isn't hers to love and he doesn't try to argue when she says she has to go.
She almost wishes that he'd fight to show he really cares. But Leon just supports her choice without complaining. He agrees to stay with Sherry and there's no one Claire trusts more with their adopted daughter's life. The only reason she can leave is because she knows he's staying and she makes sure to hug him tight before she walks away.
Claire wants to remember this. Her love may be unrequited, a secret she can't share, but she never wants to forget the feel of Leon in her arms. This man is something special. She thinks he'll be her best friend, a father to her daughter, and that's enough to live on. That's enough for happiness.
Part 2: Krauser