Leon/Claire, oneshot. Warnings for character death, violence, and a healthy dose of angst.
There are a few things that Leon feels he can really count on. That at any given time, some lunatic is plotting to release some new bioweapon or parasite on an unsuspecting town. That when that happens, he'll be sent to deal with it. That at some point in the whole process, he'll run into Claire Redfield.
And that at some point not long after that, she'll take off on her own, completely disregarding his protests and her own safety to try and save complete strangers. It wasn't that he couldn't understand that instinct to protect, but just once, would it kill her to slow down and make a plan before rushing off half-cocked?
Aside from Claire's recklessness, nothing about this mission is predictable. A new T-virus outbreak in a small, isolated city. It should be fairly simple, just get in, find the survivors, get them out. But this is a new strain; it isn't behaving the way it did in Raccoon City. It's killing the victims slowly, first driving them into an aggressive, uninhibited frenzy before destroying their brain function. As a result, the city is overrun not only with zombies, but people in early stages of infection who are already too far gone to be helped. They're looting, killing each other, setting fires. Sporadic gunfire and screaming fill the night.
Twice already, he's narrowly avoided getting shot. He's nearly been run down by a car. His phone is long gone, probably dropped when he jumped to avoid being hit by said car. He knows he's low on ammunition. There's no one here to save. All he can hope to do now is find Claire and get both of them to safety.
"Leon?" And there she is, emerging from an alley, illuminated by a single street lamp and a burning car a hundred yards away. He starts towards her, then stops, shocked, when he sees that she's nearly doubled over, one hand clutching at her stomach. "Son of a bitch took my gun," she tells him. She's trailing blood behind her as she staggers closer.
"Claire!" He rushes to her side and catches her just as her knees buckle. Easing her down, he gently pulls her hands away from the wound. "Let me see."
"Don't-" Claire gasps out, but he's already pulling up her shirt, wiping away the blood to get a better look.
In the dim light, he can see the bullet hole, directly above her navel. "It's not that bad." From the look on her face, Leon knows that she doesn't believe him. He presses his hands over the wound, applying pressure until Claire lets out a sharp cry. "Sorry," He eases up just a little, feeling her blood seeping through his fingers. "Claire, I'm sorry."
"Me too," She says hoarsely. "You were right, we should have stuck together."
"What was that?" Leon forces himself to smile, trying to keep his tone light. "Did Claire Redfield just admit that I was right? When we get out of here, I'm going to need that in writing."
Claire doesn't return the smile. "We're not getting out of here, Leon. Not this time."
"Don't say that. We'll find a way." He pulls her closer, still keeping one hand firmly on her stomach. "You're going to be all right, Claire. I've seen people survive much worse. I'll get you out."
"Wouldn't matter," She holds up her right arm, and Leon winces as he realizes why she tried to stop him from touching her.
"No," In the dim light, the ragged, bloody bite wound looks almost black. "Shit!" He can't bring himself to say it, but she's right. If the bullet doesn't kill her, the virus will. And then
oh god, no.
"Promise me something," Claire whispers. She's starting to shiver, her breaths becoming ragged and short.
"If you do get out of here, promise me you'll find Chris," Her voice breaks as she says her brother's name. "Tell him that I love him, and I'm sorry. Tell him that none of this is his fault."
"I promise," Leon cringes inwardly at the thought of facing the older Redfield, of having to explain how he's still alive when Claire is dead, why he couldn't save her.
"It's not your fault, either." Claire raises a shaking hand to touch his cheek. "I made my own choices."
He lays his hand over hers, turning his head slightly to press his lips against her palm. Even now, she's trying to comfort him. Not for the first time, Leon is amazed by how strong she is. Stronger than him. "I love you, Claire."
She manages a small smile even as flecks of blood start to appear on her lips with every weak breath. "Love you too, Ace." She laughs, then coughs harshly. "That's the first time we've said that."
That can't be right. He's loved her for so long. Since the night he met her, if he's being honest. He must have told her. But she's right again, he realizes. He's wasted so many chances to tell her, he's let his own demons hold him back.
"We're pathetic," Claire continues. "This is what it takes for us to just say how we feel."
"I should have told you," There's no holding back now, no more next times. He presses his lips to her forehead. Her skin feels like it's on fire. Even as she's bleeding out, the virus is starting to take hold. Still, something in him refuses to accept that he's going to lose her. She's been the only truly consistent good thing in his life for more than a decade, he can't just let her go now.
Claire reaches up again and grabs the front of his shirt. "Promise me one more thing," She's gasping for air now. "Make sure that I don't
don't let me
" Her plea is cut short as blood starts to trickle from the corner of her mouth.
Leon knows what she's trying to say, though. He sees the tears in her eyes and he understands. She's not afraid of dying, she's afraid of what she'll become after she dies, after everything that makes her Claire Redfield has been destroyed by the virus.
"I promise," He pulls her close. The only sound coming from her now is a horrible choking that makes him feel sick to his stomach. Her entire body shudders in his arms and her eyes dart around frantically. A part of him wants to cover his ears and shut out the sounds of her dying, but he has to be strong for her. "Claire, don't cry, I promise. Do you hear me, Claire? I promise. I love you." He repeats those three words over and over, as if he can make up for all the times he didn't say them.
He feels a single, long breath escape from her body, feels her hand drop from his shirt. Even before he checks her pulse, he knows.
Death has been a major part of Leon's life since Raccoon City. He's seen countless people die, enemies, strangers, friends. He's always been able to keep his emotions in check, locked away until the job is done. That ability has kept him alive so many times. But this is Claire. Vibrant, brilliant, beautiful Claire, dead in his arms.
As he sits there, with no way of contacting help, with the contaminated blood of the woman he loves soaking through his clothing and pooling on the pavement around him, Leon Kennedy finally breaks. For a minute, he lets himself grieve, lets his tears fall silently onto Claire's skin as he cradles her against his chest.
He wipes the blood from her lips and kisses her softly. Then he checks his gun. Three bullets left, and a promise to keep. He won't let her turn into one of them. He places the gun against her head, closes his eyes, and pulls the trigger.
The gunshot echoes down the alley, reverberating off the walls and debris. That's going to attract attention, he knows. So will the smell of blood. With only two bullets left, he won't make it very far. And he's covered in Claire's blood. Even if he could get to safety, he can't risk letting the virus spread.
He keeps his eyes open and focused on Claire, wanting her face to be the last thing he sees. "It's all right, sweetheart," he whispers to her, brushing her hair to the side to cover the bullet hole in her temple. Slowly, he raises the gun to his head.
He's still kissing her when he pulls the trigger one more time.