Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.


Resident Evil: Phoenix
by Red Hope

 Chapter 8

Alice was up from her seat first after Chris landed the Osprey on the deck of the Arcadia. She assisted Claire, who was still slightly weak from being hit by the monstrous giant.

The two soldiers were moving and went to the cabin door. They worked to get it open.

Chris was shutting the rotorcraft down. But he rushed to Claire’s side once freed from the pilot’s seat. He was relieved when Claire smiled at him and thanked him for finding them. He gently hugged Claire and suggested she go to the hospital immediately.

Claire didn’t argue or agree but instead looked back at Jill. She was thankful that Jill had been there and was safe after what’d happened in the city.

Jill gave a weak smile that barely turned her lips.

Alice touched the leader’s lower back and edged closer. “Come on… you first, Claire.” She wanted to stay between Claire and Jill despite she knew Jill wouldn’t harm Claire. Alice couldn’t chance it and had Claire step off the aircraft after the soldiers.

Chris thanked Jill and clapped her shoulder before he stepped out of the plane next. He barely recognized the anger in Jill’s eyes. He went to his sister’s side and tried getting a better look at her.

Alice broke away from Claire now that she was safe with Chris. She turned towards Jill, who was coming up behind her. She felt it before she saw it. And Alice did nothing to stop any of it. Instead Alice took the powerful punch to her face that sent blood spewing from her mouth. But the next fist landed in her stomach and barely hurt her.

Jill continued attacking Alice without any restraint. She kicked Alice in the stomach and became madder at the lack of effect it had on Alice. “You murderer!” Jill screamed and landed a melee of attacks on Alice. Her strength was that of five humans, but it did nothing to send Alice down. Her rage built up at Alice’s resistance and fueled her to try harder.

Alice hunched forward after another kick went to her stomach. She soaked up the pain but didn’t fall. She saw Jill was prepared to perform a roundhouse kick that may just knock her down. She readied for the next blow until a shadow fell over her, and Alice peered up at Claire Redfield’s backside.

“You fuckin’ touch her again and I’ll blow your goddamn head off,” Claire snarled. Her blue eyes were filled with fierce rage. She had her brother’s handgun point at Jill.

Jill had caught herself in time before she harmed Claire. She wasn’t off her high and growled, “Move, now.” She heard other guns around her being aimed at her, yet she ignored it. She wanted Alice more than anything.

Claire didn’t back away and instead lined her sights with Jill’s forehead. “My last warning before I pull the trigger, Jill. And I don’t think you’re faster than my bullet.”

Jill Valentine focused on Claire’s face instead of Alice. Slowly she lowered her arms, and her chest heaved up and down. She fought with her rage, which made her burn all over. “Claire… she killed me… and she killed a girl in cold blood.” She started shaking her head and whispered, “It’s because of her that I ended up under Umbrella’s control.”

Claire wasn’t swayed and sharply replied, “Her past is in the past, Jill.” She felt Alice straightening up behind her. She also noticed the security team swarmed around them.

“She is dangerous!” Jill yelled at the leader.

Alice swallowed down a mouthful of blood so it wouldn’t be on the deck. She wiped the rest off her face with her right sleeve then looked at Jill.

“She has protected the survivors and saved my life multiple times,” Claire reminded the Umbrella agent.

Jill was shaking her head. “You’re risking everybody’s lives by having her here.”

Claire held her ground and argued, “If Alice thought she was a threat to us then she wouldn’t be here.” She saw she had Jill on that one.

Jill shifted her attention to Alice, who remained behind Claire. She hotly yelled, “It is because of you that I am this freak!” She stared coldly at Alice and angrily added, “Angie trusted you with her life!”

Alice shook her head and explained, “I couldn’t control my body, Jill.”

“Is that your version of a fucking apology?” Jill’s voice seeped with venom. She took one step closer until Claire side stepped into her path.

“That’s enough!” Claire yelled over the verbal sparring. She felt her emotions on the edge because Jill continued threatening Alice. She fiercely reminded, “You promised me you would not be a problem on my ship.”

Jill stiffened at hearing the leader’s words. She lost some of her ire and held Claire’s angry gaze. “Claire…”

“You’re a problem,” Claire whispered in a menacing tone.

Jill clenched her hands and realized that if she fought back that it would make it worse. She didn’t doubt that Alice would attack her if she resisted Claire. She’d also had seriously crossed Claire, who had been nothing but kind to her. She took a step back, yet Claire advanced on her.

“I’m locking you up until you’re not a problem,” the leader commanded. She signaled for Chris to handle it with his security team. “Think about it, Jill.”

Jill found herself surrounded by guns and soldiers, who she wouldn’t dare fight. She silently conceded and fell into step with Chris. She caught how Chris was upset with her so she looked away from him.

Claire waited until Jill was far enough away then she went to Alice. “Are you okay?” She reached for Alice, but she was hurt when Alice pulled away from her.

“I’m fine.” Alice swallowed hard yet politely offered, “Thank you.”

Claire didn’t comment back and only nodded.

“I want you to go to the hospital,” Alice urged. “You were badly injured.”

Claire bit back a sharp reply after just trying to care for Alice. She acknowledged Alice’s offer and started across the deck.

Alice was glad that Claire didn’t argue with her. She wanted Claire checked over by Doctor Gable. She stayed close to Claire but kept a larger space between them than normal. She couldn’t allow her blood to mix with Claire’s. It was also hard for her to ignore Claire’s attractive blood. She didn’t have a handle on her changes, but Alice knew that human blood had become alluring to her recently. She didn’t want to consider what it meant for her.

Claire entered the ship and took the shortest route to the hospital below. She was taken in and given a room for about an hour. A nurse tended to her then Doctor Gable arrived afterwards to confirm and discharge Claire.

Alice had remained with her friend but stayed on the other side of the room. She paced a few times and didn’t notice how her actions unnerved Claire. She was grateful to the doctor and left with Claire.

Claire refused any pain killers from Helen. She could handle the pain and felt that others needed them more than her. She only took a tube of Neosporin for her wounds to heal faster and without germs.

On the walk to their quarters, the friends were eerily silent. They both were on edge and still coming off the high from fighting in the city. Claire decided showers may help sooth away some tension and get them closer to normal again. Or so she hoped it would work.

Alice went directly to the head and flicked on the light. She wanted her blood washed away so it wouldn’t transfer to anything else or onto Claire. She looked in the mirror and surveyed the dry blood on her face, neck, and chest thanks to Jill’s punches.

Claire appeared in the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth from an overhead storage. She soaked it with warm water from the sink. But she paused from doing anything because Alice backed away from her.

“I can do it,” Alice stated. She had a slight monotone yet warning was in her eyes.

Claire realized what was going through Alice’s head. “I just want to help you.”

“No.” Alice shook her head. She had nowhere else to go since Claire blocked the door. She nearly grabbed Claire’s wrist that held the moist washcloth. “Please, Claire I don’t want my blood on you.” What she didn’t expect was Claire’s small grin.

“It’s a little late for that one.” Claire cautiously stepped closer and explained, “I’ve had your blood on me before.” She saw the confusion on Alice’s face. “After your fight with Jill days ago, I carried you out of the White Room.”

Alice had been bloody then as well as burnt from the electrocution. She was astounded that Claire had touched her with bare skin. “Claire…” She was clearly upset by the news.

Claire lost her grin and lowered her hand. “You needed medical attention… I couldn’t let you lay there dying.” She’d held back her memories from that day. She’d been distraught to see Alice fallen and dying with Jill’s unmoving body over top of her. “It didn’t affect me, Alice.” She came closer and brought the damp washcloth back up.

Alice was pressed against the small space. However, she didn’t ward off Claire’s next attempt and closed her eyes once the soft cloth touched her skin. She felt the dried blood come off along with the dirt, grime, and gore. Alice didn’t remember the last time anybody cared for her. She bowed her head some and continued letting Claire clean her face.

Claire took the silent invite from her friend. She moved in closer so she didn’t have to strain. She turned on the hot water and washed off the cloth. She returned to her task and saw Alice’s trust develop over the passing minutes.

“I don’t see any cuts or bruising,” Claire whispered.

Alice wasn’t surprised, but she imagined there may be something under her shirt along her back. She could still feel the pressure at her lower back. “I think…” She was unsure what to do.

Claire stilled her motions and curiously looked at her friend. “What?”

“I think… I need your help with something.” Alice reached for her sheath’s straps over her shoulders. She carefully took off the sheathed weapons and handed them to Claire. She needed to clean the kukris’ blades later.

Claire placed the weapons outside the head’s door. She turned back to Alice and asked, “What is it?”

Alice decided showing Claire would be easier so she turned her back to Claire. She removed her shirt in the process and exposed her bruised back.

Claire sucked in a breath but her eyes immediately honed in on the worst injury. “Oh my god.” She placed her hand on her forehead, which caused her ball cap to lift up some. She continued staring at the large wood splinter sticking out from Alice’s lower torso. “How the Hell can you…” She just shook her head and lowered her hand.

Alice imagined what it looked like. She could feel it digging into her back and wanting to poke at her ribs from the inside. “Can you remove it?”

Claire lifted her eyes to her friend’s profile. “How?”

“Just pull it out,” Alice replied.

“I…” Claire felt faint at the idea of tearing out the inch thick splinter from Alice’s back. “Alice, I don’t…”

Alice didn’t want to go back to the hospital. She feared having her blood transferred to others. But it was obvious that her blood didn’t harm Claire at all. “You just wrap the cloth on it and pull it out.” Claire’s upset transferred into Alice, and she understood why Claire was upset. “I’ll be fine… I’ll be better after its out.”

Claire inhaled deeply and bit her bottom lip. “Alright.” She mentally prepared herself and put the cloth around the splinter’s exposed shaft. She gripped it with her right hand then pressed the flat of her left hand against Alice’s midback. “Ready?”

Alice had her hands on the wall and knees locked in place. “Yes.”

Claire wasn’t sure she was totally ready, but she fiercely pulled out the splinter with as much speed as possible. She only heard a low cry from Alice just as the tip came out from the hole. Claire certainly wasn’t ready for the dark oozing blood. She dropped the splinter and cloth to the floor and jumped for the hand towel on the rack. She pressed it hard against the hole.

Alice dropped her head against the wall and took in a few ragged breathes. She then felt Claire’s warm arm come across her stomach and support her weight. She licked her dry lips and whispered, “Just hold the towel there for a minute… it’ll close up quickly.”

Claire wasn’t so sure, but she did what Alice told her. She glanced down at the splinter on the wood floor and furrowed her eyebrows when Alice’s blood reflected a purple tint.

“Alice?” Claire softly called. She looked from the wood spear to the towel in her hand. She couldn’t help pulling it back slightly and looking at the blood. “Why does your blood have a purple tint?” She pressed the towel back in place.

Alice shook her head and leaned heavily against the wall. “I’m not sure,” she softly confessed. She cleared her throat. “Human blood is usually sweet smelling.”

Claire couldn’t understand that and argued, “Blood has a metallic smell to it.”

“Yes… to you.” Alice looked over her shoulder at her friend. “But to an undead, it is sweet.” She leaned her temple against the cool wall. “My blood is sour.”

Claire shook her head and tried understanding what that meant. “Is an undead’s blood sour?”

“No… it has a foul stench about it.” Alice shrugged and muttered, “It’s like running into a skunk.”

Claire had a small grin at the analogy. “But at least you can get away from those things.”

Alice briefly grinned back. “The giant had a foul blood that was stronger than any those undead in the city.” Goliath’s stench still lingered in Alice’s mind. “I think I could have passed out if I allowed myself.”

“That bad?” Claire checked.

“Yes, that bad.” Alice straightened up because the throbbing was nearly gone from her back. “How’s it look now?”

Claire cautiously pulled the towel back and saw the hole was filled. But the wound was starting to scab over. “A lot better… almost gone, actually.”

Alice nodded. She expected as much. She tried looking at the wound, yet couldn’t really get a good glance. She faced the leader and sincerely offered, “Thank you. I’m not sure I could have pulled it out so easily.”

Claire cleared her throat, nodded, and set the towel on the floor. She decided diverting her eyes from Alice’s nearly exposed upper body was quite hard. She found an easy distraction by kneeling and dealing with the wood spear. She picked it up with the washcloth and studied it.

Alice squatted down and took the nasty splinter by the bloody tip. “My blood never had that purple reflection.” She curiously observed the violet hue that glimmered at her under the light.

“Maybe it’s whatever Wesker put in you,” Claire suggested.

“I’m beginning to think so,” Alice murmured. She brought the splinter under her nose, which was a mistake. She blinked away the immediate sting the sourness caused her. “Damn.” She took the washcloth from Claire and wrapped it in it. She’d have to dispose of the washcloth, splinter, and towel properly. For now she set it on the floor next to the sink.

Claire focused on Alice and regretted it because she had a wonderful view of Alice’s cleavage thanks to the black bra. She hastily stood up and offered, “You should shower first.”

Alice slowly rose to her full height and detected the frazzled emotions from Claire. She also could hear Claire’s blood rushing to match her accelerated heart. Alice accepted the shower idea and gave a curt nod. She could tell Claire wanted the space.

“I’m going to check on the rescues,” Claire mentioned on her way out of the head. “And see if I can find another handheld radio.”

“Mine was smashed,” Alice mentioned. She leaned against the bathroom’s doorframe and watched Claire go to the main door.

Claire nodded and corrected, “Two radios… got it.” She offered a shy smile. “Catch ya later.” She was gone before Alice could respond to anything.

Alice had an amused smile and stared at the shut door. She chuckled then rolled on her shoulder to go back into the head. She looked forward to a hot shower.

Over an hour later, Claire returned to the quarters and with two new radios for them. She found Alice at the table and cleaning her weapons. Claire gave a soft smile to her friend, but she didn’t say anything. She and Alice didn’t have to pass words when they already felt their silent exchange. Claire retrieved clean clothes from the dresser and disappeared into the head after removing her belt and boots. She enjoyed the shower and watched the dirt and blood wash away. She felt renewed afterwards and also rather hungry for an early dinner.

Alice wiped down her sheathes and was putting her kukris away when Claire came out. She noticed how the shower refreshed the leader a great deal.

Claire came over to the empty chair with boots and socks in hand.

“Good shower?” Alice softly checked.

“Mmmm… amazing.” Claire was getting her last articles on while she spoke to Alice. “Nobody seems to be infected from the rescue.” She started lacing her boots but looked at Alice. “Did you happen to tell if any were infected?”

Alice shook her head. “I didn’t sense anything… but I wasn’t close to everybody.”

The leader understood and lowered her features to her boots. “If this ship gets infected then we’re headed to Hell in a hand basket.”

Alice silently agreed and considered what she could do. She softly promised, “I’ll go through the rescues tonight… see if I find anything.” She caught Claire’s appreciative smile. “Are they all in the hospital?”

“Yes, for the night so they can go through observation.”

Alice bobbed her head. That would make her job a lot easier. She let out a low sigh and thought about the boy. “How is Will?”

Claire sat back in the chair after finishing her boots. “He’s asking for you.”

“I’ll visit with him.” Alice canted her head and asked, “Is he by himself?” She thought of his dead mother.

Claire shook her head and replied, “His aunt is with him.”

Alice was glad to hear it and noticeably relaxed. “He is not healthy.” She lowered her eyes to the table and stared at her kukris. “The undead couldn’t smell his blood.”

Claire furrowed her eyebrows but murmured, “He is rather pale.” She considered the boy’s health. “Gable plans to do some tests on him… see what it’s about.”

“He’s sick… that’s for sure,” Alice stated. She wasn’t a doctor though. “But it saved his life in a strange way.”

“Because they couldn’t smell him?” the leader pieced together aloud.

“Yeah,” Alice softly answered. She recalled how she found the boy in the safe house. She went quiet for a moment until Jill came to mind. She sighed and asked, “What will you do about Jill?”

“I’m not sure,” Claire confessed. She brushed back a damp lock behind her ear. “I could strangle her right now.” She sadly sighed and shook her head. “She can cool off down in the brig for now.”

Alice looked away from Claire and stared across the room. After a long silence, she stated, “She won’t be able to breathe in the same room with me, Claire.”

The leader gave a hefty sigh and narrowed her eyes at Alice. “She’s going to have to learn.”

“And what if she wants to leave?” Alice debated.

Claire started shaking her head. “Then she can leave… but I don’t think she’ll go.” She shrugged and argued, “Where can she go?” She bit her lip then added, “Umbrella will hunt her.”

“Most likely,” Alice agreed. Indeed Jill was Umbrella property just like Alice had been in the beginning of the outbreak.

“We’ll wait and see what happens,” Claire decided.

Alice bobbed her head a few times. She placed her right arm on the table and toyed with her kukri’s tip. “I was thinking earlier about what you should do with the survivors.” She felt Claire’s stare on her so she met it. She revealed a small grin and asked, “Have you ever been to Hawaii?”

Claire had a perplexed look until it slowly dawned on her what Alice was suggesting to her. “Hawaii?”

Alice’s grin grew wider. “Aloha, baby,” she teased then winked. She didn’t expect such a deep blush from Claire Redfield, but Alice thought it was quite becoming of the usually stoic leader.

Claire ran her palm across her cheek in hopes to brush away her flush. She knew it had to be pretty obvious. She directed the conversation back to Alice’s idea. “You mean settle in Hawaii?”

Alice gave a half shrug and argued, “Why not?” She tapped the kukri’s clean blade. “There’s plenty of land where you can sustain life easily without having to be on the mainland.” She saw how Claire was rolling it around in her head. “You can rebuild there too.”

Claire was warming up to the idea. It was far more appealing than frigid life in Alaska. “What if it’s infected?” She frowned and added, “A wasteland like the rest of the world.”

“In all reality,” Alice started, “there probably is undead, but nothing that couldn’t be remedied.” She glanced at her blade then back at Claire’s profile. “But I don’t think all the islands will be devastated.”

Claire considered what she knew of the state, but she wasn’t that well educated on Hawaii. “How many islands are there?”

Alice wasn’t positive but estimated, “I believe there’s eight islands… give or take.”

“Which island was the most populated?” Claire asked. She only knew the big city was Honolulu.

“I think Oahu,” Alice replied. “That’s where Honolulu was located.”

Claire silently thought about it. If Oahu was decimated thanks to the T-virus then it still left other islands possibly in good shape. But that didn’t mean the T-virus didn’t find other means to travel such as by seagull. Claire couldn’t forget the crows in Nevada.

“It might be worth checking out at least,” Claire murmured after a minute.

Alice nodded and looked at her lap, but she grinned back at Claire. “I’ve heard it’s beautiful flying around the islands.”

Claire chuckled and wagged a finger at Alice. “You try to tempt me.” She now stretched and discovered every strained and worn muscle in her body. She groaned and slumped against the chair. “I’m going to really ache tomorrow.”

Alice chuckled, but she felt for Claire. She only briefly felt strains in her body since the T-virus healed her so well.

Claire sat up and looked at Alice. “You mind visiting with K-Mart before dinner?” She knew they had a couple of hours until the galley would be loaded with wonderful smells.

Alice shook her head and replied, “Sounds good.” She enjoyed K-Mart’s company a great deal. She suspected Claire wanted K-Mart to see they were okay and safe after today’s wild mission. And Claire hadn’t spent much time with K-Mart lately because Claire had a lot to organize around the ship.

Claire got up and saw Alice was taking her revolvers. She copied Alice’s habit and went to the dresser for her last Glock. She needed to get another soon. She checked it was loaded then put it in her waistband. She then grabbed her ball cap off the dresser.

Alice waited at the door. But she watched Claire put on the worn ball cap. “Where’d you get that?” She indicated the pink hat.

Claire adjusted the hat by the brim. She always touched the brim in the same location, which created a wear spot on the brim’s lip with fine frayed edges. “My mom gave it to my little sister after she won her softball tournament in high school.”

Alice went stiff at Claire’s simple words that told her a great deal. She felt bad and quickly apologized for asking anything.

Claire brushed it off and argued, “It was a long time ago.” She nodded at the door. “Let’s go.”

Alice silently left the quarters but closed the door after her friend came out.

Claire toyed with her ball cap in hopes it’d sooth her old memories. “It’s the only thing I have that reminds me of my mom and sister.” She swallowed hard and continued giving glimpses of her past. “My little sister really wanted the hat, but my family was tight on money. It’s a Nike so…” She sadly grinned. “Not cheap for a hat. By the time she went away to college, she kinda grew out of it so I took it to wear.” She looked down the quiet hall after Alice smiled back at her. “I didn’t wear it long after the outbreak. I pitched it a week after I picked up K-Mart.”

Alice understood why Claire had done it. She felt deeply for Claire.

“But K-Mart saved it… hid it from me.” Claire didn’t tell anymore despite there was so much more. She only had her ball cap to keep her mother and sister close, but she and Chris didn’t speak much about family. They felt each other was all they had left. Claire was blessed to have Chris back in her life.

“After I lost my memory,” Claire softly explained, “I’ve learned to appreciate my past.” She glanced sadly at Alice, who could relate to Claire. She made the next right with Alice. She knew K-Mart’s shared quarters wasn’t much further. “K-Mart reminds me a lot of my sister.”

Alice took a deep breath but softly asked, “Where’s your sister now?” She already knew the answer but hoped for a better one.

“She was a freshman at Raccoon University in 2004,” Claire quietly replied. She managed keeping most of her emotions out of her voice. She came to K-Mart’s door.

Alice could never forget that was the year of the outbreak in Raccoon City. She flinched and looked at her friend. “I’m sorry, Claire.”

Claire weakly smiled and quietly assured, “It’s okay… it was a long time ago.” She rapped on K-Mart’s door and was pleased when the young woman opened up within seconds. She instantly received a hug from her sister. She then happily watched K-Mart and Alice embrace before they were invited into K-Mart’s room.

Claire and Alice visited with K-Mart for over two hours. Claire relayed much of the mission to K-Mart, who was astounded that her sister and Alice made it out safely. K-Mart also wished she’d been there, especially to see Alice battle the ugly, gigantic undead creature. From Claire’s description, K-Mart could imagine Goliath’s deformed face, twisted black teeth, shadowy skin, and foul odor.  It sent a chill down K-Mart’s back.

Alice mostly sat quietly in the chair at the small desk in K-Mart’s room. She briefly wondered who was sharing K-Mart’s quarters in the other bed, but she never asked. She instead listened to the sisters converse and only spoke on occasion or when asked something. A few times she couldn’t help grinning at Claire’s over dramatized parts of their adventure today. But K-Mart ate up every word of the story.

K-Mart was seated on one corner of her bed while Claire was on the other part. She glanced over at Alice, who hadn’t said much recently. She cut her eyes back to Claire and mentioned, “I heard that Jill attacked Alice.”

Claire glanced over at Alice and noted Alice’s indifferent expression. She sighed and confirmed K-Mart’s rumor.

“Why’d she attack Alice? Is she under Umbrella’s control again?” K-Mart was confused by Jill’s treatment of Alice. She looked between her sister and Alice.

Claire wasn’t sure how to handle it because it was between Jill and Alice. She rubbed the back of her neck then glanced at Alice. She wasn’t sure if Alice would handle the questions or not so she attempted, “Jill and Alice met years ago during the Raccoon City outbreak.”

K-Mart went wide eye but looked at Alice. “Seriously?”

Alice gave a low nod then decided to handle the conversation. “I met Jill, Carlos, LJ, and a girl named Angie during the outbreak. I helped them escape the city before Umbrella nuked it.”

K-Mart’s perplexed expression grew stronger. She shook her head and argued, “So that’s why she attacked you? Because you saved her life?”

Alice sighed and simply stated, “I killed her.”

K-Mart opened and closed her mouth a few times then patted her knees with both hands. “Hold up.” She shifted in her spot so she faced Alice better. “I think I’m missing something here.”

“Maybe a few somethings,” Claire piped up.

Alice wasn’t much for storytelling, but she could tell that K-Mart wanted it. She also caught the curiosity in Claire’s eyes. She hadn’t told Claire the greater details from what happened during the outbreak. After she ran her fingers through her dark hair, she gave in and told them what’d happened years ago in Raccoon City.

K-Mart quietly listened to Alice and didn’t interrupt once. She was afraid of derailing Alice’s sad story about the outbreak. She couldn’t believe what Umbrella had done to Alice then later to the people in the city. But Alice finally told what’d happened between her and Jill. K-Mart lost some of her dislike for Jill, yet K-Mart still sided with Alice.

Claire had also quietly listened to the full story. She bowed her head after Alice finished it. She had a few questions in mind, but she didn’t say anything. She also thought about those days during the outbreak and the days after the nuking. Claire remembered her sister, but she pushed away the memories from those horrible days.

Alice sensed the leader’s distraught emotions, but she restrained herself from checking on Claire. She instead focused on K-Mart’s next words.

“How is Jill still alive?”

Alice shook her head and replied, “She’s not alive.”

K-Mart stiffened, and a hint of fear surfaced in her eyes. “She’s…”

Claire touched her sister’s knee and promised, “She’s not contagious.”

K-Mart steadied herself and let out a low breath. “Is she undead then?” She looked between her sister and Alice.

Alice shook her head and murmured, “She’s something in between.” She wasn’t totally sure herself.

“Like you?” K-Mart countered.

Alice again shook her head. “Not like me… I’m more of a hybrid between human and undead.” She tried finding a definition for Jill’s situation. “Jill is more like a living ghost.” She couldn’t explain it any better than that. “The T-virus keeps her alive enough to function. But her body is constantly at war with the virus.”

Claire considered this carefully and stared at the bedsheet under her. “Could her immune system win out?”

“I don’t know,” Alice confessed. “It did keep the T-virus at bay until I shot her.”

Claire wasn’t so sure and argued, “Maybe she never contracted the T-virus until Umbrella took her.”

Alice didn’t have the facts and murmured, “It’s possible.” She had brief memory flashes from her time in the white hospital bed in Umbrella’s labs. “Quite possible.”

“They brought you back to life,” K-Mart reminded Alice. “They probably did the same to Jill.” She canted her head and thoughtfully whispered, “Her ability to fight off the T-virus would be… valuable.”

“Very valuable,” Claire agreed.

K-Mart nodded but lowered her eyes to her hands in her lap. But she lifted her head when Claire touched her knee.

“Do us a favor, K?”

The young woman peered up at her sister and waited for the favor.

Claire held K-Mart’s gaze and kept her tone stern. “Please keep this conversation to yourself.”

K-Mart nodded and took Claire’s hand into hers.

“If the survivors find out about Jill then there could be more upset.” Claire glanced at Alice then back to K-Mart. “It’s hard enough for them to get comfortable with Alice.”

K-Mart huffed and argued, “They should be grateful.” She looked at her friend, who sat quietly in the desk chair. “We wouldn’t be alive if you, Claire, and Chris came on the Arcadia and killed Wesker.”

Alice shifted in her seat. “It’s my fault you ended up here.” She quickly found both K-Mart and Claire’s eyes on her. “I gave you the journal about Alaska.”

“We chose to go,” K-Mart fought. “The convoy voted to go to Alaska.” She frowned at her friend. “You can’t blame yourself for that one.”

Claire huffed and quietly told K-Mart, “Alice blames herself for everything that happens to us… right down to the new dirt on my hat.”

K-Mart laughed at her sister and covered her mouth to try dulling it. She caught Alice’s low sigh.

Claire grinned over at her friend.

Alice raised a thin, dark eyebrow at the leader. “I’m glad I can amuse you two.”

Claire winked at Alice and turned back to her sister. “Are you hungry?” She covered her stomach. “I’m starved after today’s joy ride.”

K-Mart could only imagine. She nodded and slipped off the bed. She had to put on her sneakers, which easily slid onto her feet. She followed Claire and Alice out of the small room. “Claire, how’s your memory been?”

“Almost totally back,” Claire replied. She walked between Alice and K-Mart. “How’s yours?” She already knew K-Mart’s memory was strong because barely any P30 was in K-Mart’s system.

K-Mart smiled and answered, “A lot better.”

Claire mirrored the smile. She was glad that K-Mart was feeling much better. She also noticed that K-Mart hardly had a limp too. She silently thanked Alice again for saving K-Mart days ago.

“So is Chris really your brother?” Alice teased. She grinned when Claire glared at her.

“Yes, he’s my brother.”

Alice chuckled and saw Claire grin too.

Claire continued talking with her sister and Alice on the way to the galley.

K-Mart was happy to spend time with her friends during dinner. She could sense Alice was slightly distant, but she didn’t bring it up. She figured it had to do with something from today.

After dinner, Alice kept her promise about checking the new rescues for infection. Claire was grateful and decided to go with her. She wanted to be there if any rescues were infected. She hoped for the best. Alice and Claire went through the survivors fairly quickly until they came to Will last. Alice saw the boy was fast asleep while his aunt silently sat in a chair nearby.

The aunt was startled by Alice and Claire’s arrival, but she warmly greeted them. She shook Claire’s hand but when she came to Alice, she hugged her nephew’s savior.

Alice was stiff but after a second managed an arm around the woman’s body. She was clearly embarrassed and was thankful that Claire took up the conversation after the hug.

Will’s Aunt Margret was in her late thirties and had the boy’s dark eyes. She told Alice and Claire that Doctor Gable was testing Will and trying to determine his health condition. Margret was convinced it had something to do with his iron levels because he didn’t eat well on the island.

Alice suspected that the aunt was probably right. She knew that undead smelled human’s metallic scent that actually came off sweet.

A good fifteen minutes passed before Claire and Alice said goodnight to Margret. Alice promised she’d visit with Will tomorrow when he was awake. She hoped the boy would feel better in the coming days.

On the way out of the hospital, Claire told Alice she planned to visit with Chris. She hadn’t spent much time with him and wanted to go over things since the mission. Alice easily understood and decided she’d retire to their quarters. She had a few last things she wanted to do before they would go to bed.

Claire talked with Chris for several hours in his quarters. She was pleased that the rescues were doing well. Their mission had been worth it. She also asked if Chris had seen Leon Kennedy, who seemed to be the glue that kept the island survivors together. Chris had spoken to him earlier and insisted that Claire talk to him tomorrow. Chris then brought up Jill, who had gone on Claire’s bad list. He could tell that Claire hadn’t settled down since this afternoon when they got back. He was unsure about his sister’s state of mind.

“I don’t think she’s going to attack Alice again, Claire.” Chris half seated on the foot of his bed. He folded his arms and watched his sister walk away.

“I won’t risk it.” Claire was shaking her head and kept her back to her brother. “She needs to cool off.”

“Can you blame her?” Chris countered.

Claire turned on her heels and revealed her annoyance. “Yes I can.” She came back over to Chris. “She’s responsible for her own actions.” She studied Chris hard and asked, “Are you telling me it’s okay for her to attack people?” She placed her hand on her chest and further pressed her brother. “I’m leading these people. What message would I send if I just let Jill get away with that?” She dropped her hand to her side.

Chris shook her head and fought, “I’m not saying you should excuse her actions.”

“Then what are you saying?” Claire warily eyed her brother. She could tell something else was on his mind.

“You’re getting close to Alice… really close,” he carefully expressed to his sister. Chris could tell his sister was about to get defensive so he cut her off. “You jumped off that chopper to go find her… in a city infested with undead, Claire.” He shook his head and argued, “You always play it safe. And you know how these people need you.”

“Was I suppose to leave her there?” Claire snapped.

“Yes,” Chris quickly replied. “Yes,” he quietly repeated. He waited a second then reminded, “She could have handled it fine until we came back.” He could tell Claire wouldn’t argue him. “Alice even knew she could handle it alone.”

Claire knew it was true, but she wouldn’t admit it to Chris. She lowered her eyes and held her silence.

“Instead you risked your life.” Chris pushed off the bed. He tilted his head and softly stated, “You picked her over everybody else including yourself… that’s not like you.”

Claire clenched her jaw and whispered, “I don’t know why.” She finally looked at her brother. “I just couldn’t leave her behind, Chris… even knowing what she’s capable of.”

“You’re going to get yourself burned, Claire.” Chris touched his sister’s arms. “You said she disappeared on you once before. Why won’t she do it again?”

Claire looked up at the ceiling and held herself together. But her brother’s warm hands fought against her walls. “Because maybe she found her place.”

“Found her place where?” Chris carefully argued. “Her place among scared humans?” He squeezed Claire’s arms. “Why are you so attached to her?” He could tell it’d been recent too. “I’ve never seen you this way.”

Claire tightened her arms across her chest and murmured, “I don’t know why.” She swallowed hard. “It wasn’t like this in Nevada.” She bowed her head and shook it. “Something is different,” she muttered. She peered back up at her brother. “I can’t explain it.” Nor did she want to tell Chris about her developing attraction towards Alice that went beyond simply physical. It was something Claire didn’t even understand yet.

Chris was concerned about his sister. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.” He decided he needed to lighten the mood before Claire left his quarters. “I know she’s your type too.”

Claire’s upset features shifted into a mild glare.

“Talk, dark, and fires a mean gun,” Chris teased his younger sister.

“Funny,” Claire muttered. But Chris did have her pegged about Alice. “It’s been a long day.”

“It has,” Chris agreed. He stepped into his sister’s space and gave her a long hug.

Claire returned it, which helped settle their argument. She withdrew and said, “Get some rest.” She started to the door but paused and looked back at Chris. “Do you really think she’ll leave?”

Chris seriously considered it and didn’t have an exact answer. “I’m not sure but if she does leave… I’m afraid you’ll follow her.”

Claire dipped her head and toyed with her brim before replying, “You might be right.” She didn’t elaborate and instead said goodnight. She left with her mind in a dark place. Claire decided she needed some air so she went out onto the deck where the cool night greeted her. The salty smell was refreshing to her.

Claire ventured over to the chain rail and stared at the ocean that reflected the nearly full moon. She estimated it’d be a full moon in five or so days. She gazed up higher and studied the beautiful stars that offered her some peace. Claire sighed and stared back at the ocean as her mind wondered over her relationship with Alice. After awhile, a tingle burned at the back of her neck so she followed her senses and discovered Alice’s dark, tall figure coming towards her. Claire didn’t move and continued enjoying the ocean.

Alice approached her friend’s back and quietly started the conversation after a moment. “Is everything alright?”

Claire didn’t respond at first and seriously thought about Alice’s arrival. She brought her arms over her chest because the chill was getting to her.

Alice wondered if she’d get an answer. She noticed her friend was cold so she moved in closer and placed her hands on Claire’s shoulders. “Is there anything I can do?” She knew something was bothering her friend.

Claire shook her head then quietly replied, “You’re here.” She noticed the earlier tingle had turned into a warm burn across her neck and spread over her chest. She had briefly noticed it in the past, but it’d been far milder compared to tonight.

Alice ran her thumb across Claire’s shoulder blade. But she too watched the dark ocean.

Claire bit her bottom lip then softly stated, “You knew I was upset… and you knew where to find me.” She didn’t get a call from Alice over the VHF.

Alice noticed that her friend wasn’t asking her. Yet she could tell she was suppose to confirm it. “Yes.”

Claire turned her head sidelong and whispered, “How?”

Alice shook her head. “I’m not sure.” She’d noticed that she was becoming drawn to Claire. When she’d first met Claire in Nevada, Alice admired Claire greatly for her leadership and cool head, but now Alice felt like a magnet pulled towards Claire.

Claire had hoped for some kind of answer, but it wouldn’t be tonight. Maybe later she’d figure out what was happening between her and Alice. She only knew that it was something she couldn’t stop.

“You shouldn’t be scared,” Alice softly told her friend.

Claire felt caught and bowed her head. “You’re not?”

Alice tilted her head some so she could see Claire’s profile. “Why should I be?” She squeezed the stiff shoulders under her hands. “It’s happening with you… it can’t be something bad.”

Claire dropped her shoulders and lowered her head after Alice’s sincere words. “I just… I think it has to do with the virus.” She tried keeping the tremble from her voice. But she suspected Alice sensed her worries.

Alice sympathized because she saw her own changes since Wesker put something in her. She just wasn’t sure what was going on between her and Claire, but she knew it wasn’t bad or evil. “Maybe it does,” she finally responded.

“And that doesn’t scare you because you’ve survived the virus,” Claire reasoned. She turned her head away and looked at the ocean.

“Yes… I’ve survived it.” Alice had a slight frown. “You’re right.” She then explained, “But whatever this is… it makes me feel alive after years of being half dead.” She saw Claire close her eyes. “Is that something to be scared of?”

Claire gave a half shake of her head and whispered, “No.” She turned around and faced her friend. “But what if this harms me?” She wasn’t sure what had happened between them, but she was picking up on the results of it. She saw Alice wanted to argue her so she reminded, “I’m not like you… I probably don’t have a blood that bonds with the virus.” She nervously studied Alice’s calm features. “When you were fighting that damn giant… something happened.”

Alice became concerned now. She shifted her hands to Claire’s hips and held her. “You didn’t say anything.”

“I just… haven’t figured it out myself.” Claire touched her brow under her hat. She could still recall the pain. “When he was trying to punch through your… invisible wall… and you fell down…” She lowered her hand from her face.

Alice’s brow had a deep furrow. “What happened?” she coaxed her friend.

“I had this sharp pain in my head,” Claire revealed. “It wasn’t like a headache.” She tried thinking of what it reminded her of, but she couldn’t come up with it exactly so she tempted, “It felt like somebody was driving a burning needle through my skull.”

Alice had a worried frown but could tell Claire had more to tell.

“After you knocked him over, all the pain stopped like it never happened,” Claire explained.

Alice was unsure and looked away briefly before honestly saying, “I’m sorry, Claire.”

Claire didn’t need an apology from her friend. She cleared her throat then softly admitted, “I’m just a little scared what this could do to me… whatever it is.”

Alice understood her friend’s worries. She then leaned in closer and brought her face down closer to Claire’s head. She felt Claire stiffen, but Alice was focused on Claire’s blood. She still didn’t detect any infection. However, Alice’s own blood was wild with excitement from Alice taking in Claire’s scent. It took a lot of control for Alice to straighten up.

“I don’t smell the infection,” Alice promised. “You have very strong blood.”

Claire narrowed her eyes and asked, “What do you mean when you say I have strong blood?”

Alice’s lips pulled with thin frown as she considered how to explain it to a human. But an analogy came to mind, and it wasn’t a particularly appealing one. “I can compare it for you, but you may not like it.”

Claire sighed and decided to walk into it. “Let’s hear it.”

Alice gave an amused grin but quickly lost it. “You know how meat quality is graded?”

“Prime, choice, select, and…” Claire couldn’t recall the lowest grade.

“Standard,” Alice supplied. She used to enjoy fine red meats when she was human. “You would be prime.”

Claire huffed and teased, “Should I take that as a compliment?”

Alice only replied with a grin.

“So that means my blood is really super attractive to the undead huh?” Claire was not at all excited about this revelation.

Alice shrugged and argued, “It could also mean your blood could fight off the virus.” She saw the suspicion in Claire’s eyes. “Jill is prime too,” she mentioned.

“Was,” Claire corrected.

Alice dipped her head in agreement. She then quietly mentioned, “On this boat alone… there’s maybe half a dozen who have strong blood like you.” She shook her head and murmured, “Although yours is still different.” She had a puzzled look. “Or different to me.”

Claire could tell that Alice was trying to get a handle on the situation too. But she felt better that Alice wasn’t concerned about it being a problem. Claire had come to rely on Alice’s instincts because Alice saw more than humans. In some ways, Alice’s instincts reminded Claire of an animal’s ability to sense danger long before it arrived.

Claire considered what Alice told her earlier and whispered, “If my blood is attractive… does it attract you?”

Alice removed her hands from her friend’s hip. She carefully leaned in close to Claire and lowered her head until her lips were near Claire’s ear. She focused solely on Claire and nothing else around her. She nearly moaned but closed her eyes instead once she heard Claire’s blood moving in her veins. Then the tantalizing hum filled Alice and excited her blood so wildly. Alice lost her rational thoughts and stepped closer to Claire.

Claire was pressed against the chains, but she caught herself by gripping a chain with one hand. Her left arm automatically snaked around Alice for support. She noticed the warm burn spread down her chest and lower back in a sweet sensation. Claire pressed her cheek against Alice’s shoulder and tightly shut her eyes.

Alice was forced to grab the chain rail on either side of Claire. She didn’t realize she was squeezing the links together. Her hot lips brushed across Claire’s soft neck and traveled forward then slowed at Claire’s jawline. All she felt was how alive her body became when she was this close to Claire. Then Claire’s accelerated heartbeat made Alice clenched her teeth.

Claire couldn’t think clearly. She was quickly becoming consumed by the warm burn that was spreading through her. She wanted it more than anything and needed Alice to make it stronger. She acted on raw desire to be closer with Alice. Claire embraced Alice then withdrew her head so that their flushed cheeks brushed together. Then finally Claire felt Alice’s warm lips briefly play with hers.

 

Alice released the block she’d kept on the forming bond she had with Claire. She welcomed the rush of sensations that came from Claire in their bond. Now she saw how Claire truly felt about her, and it excited Alice greatly. Alice needed more. She tilted her head just right and slipped under Claire’s brim to fully posses Claire’s beautiful lips.

A soft moan escaped between Claire’s lips, and she held onto Alice when she became lightheaded from the rush. She parted her lips and Alice’s tongue slipped into Claire’s mouth. Claire danced hers against Alice’s in a slow tango that brought them together. Claire only tasted a spicy hint to Alice and caused her blood to awaken. As they slowly withdrew, Claire gently bit on Alice’s bottom lip that filled between Claire’s teeth so perfectly.

Alice only briefly pulled back before taking Claire’s lips again. She gave off a low rumble of displeasure when Claire’s fingertips were against her mouth and ended the hot kiss. She straightened up, which caused Claire’s hand to leave her face. She didn’t realize her eyes had a blue ring around the pupils.

Claire admired the electric blue shine in her friend’s eyes. She reasoned it meant that Alice’s powers were charged by their passion. She was a bit overwhelmed by what she felt and breathed hard. She peered up at Alice, who lifted her head away. She caressed her friend’s jawline and whispered, “What is this?”

Alice couldn’t explain what’d been created between them. But she was learning what the bond could do and knew there was far more to it. There was such a strong pull towards Claire that Alice was submitting to it. She could no longer hold it back like she had the past days.

Alice huskily murmured, “I can show you more.”

Claire didn’t understand what her friend meant by the offer. Yet she was curious, and her initial fears were being overwritten by desire to be closer to Alice. She realized it wasn’t a sexual closeness but something much more. She wanted Alice to take them further and explore their bond.

After a moment, Claire dipped her head in agreement and whispered, “Show me.”

Alice absorbed the trust coming from Claire. She freed from Claire but held onto Claire’s hand and guided them back inside the ship.

Claire hadn’t experienced anything like this before. She hadn’t heard of such a bond as what she was sharing with Alice. She felt like she could touch it with her bare hands because it was so tangible. But yet it wasn’t visible to her eyes.

Alice entered the quarters first, but Claire kicked the door shut. Claire didn’t have any chance at getting a single light. Nor did it matter because Alice was guiding her carefully to the bed. She slowly walked backwards and followed Alice’s direction to the foot of the bed. The back of her knees hit the bed first, and she sat down but only for a second. Claire was lifted up by Alice and pulled into the soft bed.

Alice had Claire underneath her and continued immersing in Claire’s beautiful scent. She placed her left hand against Claire’s neck and listened to the blood moving between Claire’s heart and brain. She could nearly taste how sweet Claire’s blood would be.

Claire rolled her head away so that Alice had better access to her skin. She closed her eyes and allowed Alice anything. She trusted her friend more than anything.

Alice lowered her head, which caused her black strands to fall around her face. She grazed her hand across Claire’s chest and under the black tank top until she found Claire’s heart. She learned Claire’s heartbeat that faithfully pushed the strong blood through Claire’s body. That was the physical magnet that attracted Alice to Claire.

Alice brought her head closer until her lips teased across Claire’s collarbone. She could taste the sweetness that Claire’s blood gave off on her skin. Alice continued tasting Claire’s skin and slowly realized that she wasn’t like the undead despite the T-virus in her veins. The undead were badly starved for human blood, especially for blood like Claire’s. But Alice wasn’t plagued by the hunger. She burned with the need to protect Claire’s blood from being tainted by the infection or even lost. Alice hadn’t experienced anything more beautiful in her life, and she would guard that beauty from any that threatened Claire. Finally Alice found her place in this Hell stricken world.

Claire had ragged breathes while Alice touched her skin. She was excited by how Alice’s touch reached beyond her skin. Wherever Alice’s fingertips traveled, Claire’s blood lit on fire underneath in a perfect trail. She reached up and threaded her fingers through Alice’s hair. She whimpered when Alice withdrew from her. But she found Alice’s hands carefully taking her ball cap. She opened her eyes and watched how Alice was gentle with her prized hat.

Alice had a moment of clarity so that she could put the hat aside. She leaned far to her right and placed Claire’s hat down on the nightstand then shifted back to Claire. She stared down at Claire and observed how Claire’s role as Arcadia’s leader no longer mattered here. Alice was no longer an infected lost soul and Claire wasn’t the human leader. Instead, they were two individuals being bonded, and they would always be connected in this life.

Claire coaxed Alice to continue with their bonding. She could feel herself slipping into a different reality. She looked up, and Alice’s bright blue eyes sent fire through Claire’s blood.

Alice lowered her head closer until her hot lips brushed Claire’s cheek. She saw how her glowing eyes reflected in Claire’s eyes for the first time. Her soft lips traveled near Claire’s ear, and she huskily whispered, “There’s no going back from this.” She was losing control over her bonded blood’s need to join with Claire. She understood what it felt like to be at war with the virus.

Claire’s eyes fluttered shut. Alice’s voice rumbled through her and pulled against her soul.

“We will be more,” Alice simply explained. Her telekinesis continued folding around them.

Claire’s skin tingled from the charged air. Alice’s telekinesis caressed her body and traveled up her neck towards her head. She inhaled deeply just before the telekinesis brushed her lips and entered her head. Instantly her strong blood cried for Alice’s bonded blood as if Claire’s soul dependent on it. Claire sought Alice’s lips and was immediately taken by Alice. Claire would never look back and regret her choice that night. And Alice discovered their new bond was the greatest gift in her life.

To be continued.