Leaves made a crunching sound when they were crushed by light feet, clad in gently used black combat boots. The woman sighed loudly as she stopped, not three feet away from a tombstone. Her bright blue eyes read over the epitaph, tears burning at her eyes.
In loving memory
She held her breath, then exhaled. It came out jagged, clearly the woman was close to tears. She inhaled sharply, then held it in until it hurt, then let it out again. A breathing technique she developed to stop her from crying. It worked- most of the time, anyway.
She kneeled down, touching the gravestone delicately. She wore a long sleeved black T-shirt with a gray, sleeveless jacket over top of it, the inside soft and fluffy. She matched it with a pair of worn jeans. They were faded and had holes on them, but she didn't care. She never wore bright colors on days like these.
The sound of rough footsteps was behind her, but she didn't move, didn't look away.
"Claire," A gentle hand was placed on her shoulder comfortingly. "How'd I know you'd be here again?"
"Because you always do, Barry," She smiled softly, looking up at him. He wore a button-up white shirt and black dress pants. His hair had a few gray hairs popping in here and there, and he was still in good shape.
"You're not the only one who misses her," Barry stated. "We all do."
Claire sighed, looking at the ground. "Believe me, I know. Have you seen Chris lately? He's not taking it so well."
"None of us are, Claire," Barry chuckled humorlessly. "Kathy's been pouring herself into her work. Jill was like a daughter to her. And Polly and Moira miss their Aunt Jill." Barry smiled, recalling when Jill first met the kids back in 1996. Moira was only 4 and Polly was about to turn 6. They loved her immediately, declaring her their new Aunt. They called her that ever since.
"Chris went back to his drinking," Claire mumbled, remembering that after he was kicked out of the Air Force, he would get drunk on a daily basis to numb the pain. Only now it was much worse. "It's not fair, Barry. Why the hell does this have to happen to us?"
Barry leaned down, gathering her in his arms. "I don't know, but, if it wasn't for Jill, you'd be mourning Chris right now. Or worse yet- both of them."
Pulling away, she sobbed quietly. "But why? After eight years of not knowing where he was, why did Wesker have to be there that night? It's unfair!"
"I wish I had answers for you, kiddo." Barry sighed, sitting down in the grass next to her.
"So, how was work today?" Claire suddenly asked, changing the subject.
Barry shrugged. "Normal. Polished the guns, prepared the ammo."
After Raccoon City, Barry decided not to fight against Umbrella because he wanted to protect his family. However, he helped Chris and Jill track leads and gather weaponry. They remained close, visiting each other frequently. After the B.S.A.A. was reformed in 2005, Chris and Jill recruited him. He worked in the North American branch, preparing weapons for the soldiers.
Claire, on the other hand, worked in TerraSave, helping out survivors of biohazard outbreaks. She frequently visited Sherry Birkin, the little girl she'd saved in Raccoon City, who'd grown-up way too fast. She stayed with Sherry as they performed daily tests on her to try and create a G-Vaccine.
A sweet, yet sad voice called behind them. "Hey guys," A young woman, only a year younger than Claire, walked over to them. She wore a light green tank top with tan capris and combat boots.
"Good to see you, Rebecca. How have you been?" Barry stood up and hugged the young woman.
"Decent. Been having a hard time dealing with... you know," she said quietly. Rebecca's hair was similar to what it was during her time in S.T.A.R.S., except it was longer and she moved part of her bangs in front of her face.
"You're not alone," Claire replied. "But how's work?"
Rebecca smiled. "I love it. The soldiers are really nice to me and they tell me interesting stories. It's the best job ever."
Like Barry and Claire, Rebecca decided not to return to the fight. She went back to college, earning her Doctorate degree within 4 years. She acted as Chris and Jill's personal doctor during their fights against Umbrella, and remained close to them. Much like Barry, they asked her to join the B.S.A.A.. She jumped at the offer, first starting out as a medic in the North American branch. Soon, they promoted her to the head doctor at the European Headquarters. In 2002, she also rekindled with Billy Coen, and the two married in 2004. With Barry's help, Billy's name was also cleared.
Claire smiled. "That's sweet, Becky."
"Yeah, thanks. So, Claire, did you hear the news?"
She raised an eyebrow. "What news?"
"About Carlos? Carlos Oliveira?"
Barry and Claire shook their heads. "No. Last I heard he joined the South American branch of the B.S.A.A. after Jill died. She kept asking him to join but he always said no," Claire spoke.
"Did something happen to him?" Barry asked, concerned. No one kept close contact with him, yet he would help with Umbrella whenever they needed it.
"Nothing bad, I promise." Rebecca reassured. "You know that girl he was dating? Michele, I think it was. Well, turns out he proposed to her last week. He wants us to come to the wedding."
"Oh, and he said he loved Jill. My ass..." Claire said bitterly.
"You're only mad because you wanted Chris and Jill to get married," Rebecca spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.
"So? I know I joked about it a lot, but you know they loved each other," Claire retorted.
"That's true. I've never seen him as happy as he was with her, married or not," Barry chuckled.
"Speaking of Chris, where is he?" Rebecca asked.
"Not coming," Claire answered sadly. "He usually comes by here, though. A little too much."
Rebecca sighed. "He's taking it that bad, huh?"
Barry shook his head. "You have no idea."
"Do you think we could go see him?"
Claire rubbed her temple. "Trust me, you wouldn't want to see him right now."
Rebecca sighed, closing her eyes. "I could understand why he's taking it so hard. He feels guilty, doesn't he?"
"Yes, but he won't even listen to me anymore," Claire said. "I've been trying to get through to him, but nothing."
"For Chris, that's saying something," Barry pointed out. The Redfield siblings would always help each other out. Claire helped Chris after getting kicked out of the Air Force. Chris practically raised Claire, and helped her out after Steve's death, which hit her pretty hard.
"Jill was like a sister to me," Claire spoke softly.
"Me too," Rebecca added.
They all fell silent, just staring at the empty tombstone.
After a few moments, Barry spoke up. "What time is it?"
Rebecca checked the clock on her phone. "Almost 5:30."
"Hey, maybe Kathy could cook up something for us to eat? It would help take her mind off things," Barry suggested.
"That sounds great!" Claire exclaimed, getting up. "Let's go!"
Rebecca smiled, "Would you mind if I invite Billy, too?"
Barry shook his head. "It's no problem."
The three of them piled into Barry's car, chatting on the way there. Barry, Claire, Rebecca, Billy, Polly, Moira, Kathy, and even Chris sat and enjoyed dinner together. They did this at least once a month together, catching up and spending quality time with the friends they still had left.
However, they couldn't help but feel like there was still a missing piece, lost, gone, until one day it would be found again.
I will not die, I'll wait here for you
I feel alive, when you're beside me
I will not die, I'll wait here for you
In my time of dying
~ Time of Dying, three Days Grace
March 7, 2009
Inside an active Volcano
Kijuju, West Africa
Wesker growled in agony and anger as he stumbled backwards. Chris and Sheva kept their eyes on him, as well as their aim. The rock beneath them started to shake as the lava bubbled, causing all three of them to lose their balance.
A piece of the rock under Wesker broke off, then it became too weak to support his weight, and split into smaller pieces. As a result, Wesker tumbled into the lava, his screams heightening.
The sound of helicopter blades overhead caused the B.S.A.A. agents to look up. As predicted, a helicopter was flying above them. They could just barely see Josh Stone staring at them through the cockpit, and Jill Valentine in the back.
Relief fell over Chris, seeing the beautiful newly-blonde had come to save him.
Someday I'm going to repay you, Jill...
"Grab on!" She screamed as she shoved a ladder out so the two could climb up.
The rock they were on was slowly being enveloped by the lava, soon to be completely eaten up.
Chris grabbed the side of the ladder, steadying it so Sheva could get up. She began to climb up as the rock shook again, causing Chris to stumble. Regaining his balance quickly, he jumps up and grabs the bottom of the ladder just before the rock below him disappears, and hurries to climb up.
Sheva reaches the top, grabbing unto Jill's hand that was outstretched to help her in. They looked at each other briefly, Jill nodding her head inside the chopper as if to invite her in.
The women peer over the side, grabbing Chris's arms and heaving him in. He lands on his stomach, and Jill helps him sit upright, as Sheva looks out into the lava one more time...
"CHRIS!" Wesker screamed out in pure, blind rage. He no longer cared about his own life, or his goals or ambitions, only getting his revenge on his hated nemesis. His infected left arm shot out, the lengthy tentacles latching onto the landing skid of the chopper. He pulled with all his strength, shuffling around in the lava.
The force caused Chris, Jill, and Sheva to tumble over inside the helicopter, groans of pain erupting from all.
"Hang on!" Chris warned.
Wesker's pulling was relentless, trying to pull them down with them, and they continued to roll around.
"Chris, Sheva- use those!" Jill breathed, pointing to a wall on the other side of them where two RPG's were mounted.
Sheva stands up, moving over to them. She takes one from the wall and hands it over to Chris, who peered over at Jill, a feeling of unease in his heart.
"Jill, take this," He offered, handing the rocket over to her.
"What?" Jill questioned, a look of confusion crossing her face.
"You've been in this as long as I have, Jill," He explained, taking her hand. "You deserve to end this as much as I do."
Another jolt shook the chopper, and Chris grabbed her to make sure she didn't fall.
"No time to argue! Just do it!" Sheva yelled at them, handing the second rocket launcher over at Chris.
Jill sighed as they placed it over their shoulders and got ready to end their former captain's life.
Chris looks over to her with half a smile on his face. "Ready, partner?"
She smiled back, "I'm ready, Chris."
With that, they looked through the scope, finding Wesker swimming in lava.
"Take this, Wesker!" Jill said, locking onto him.
With a simultaneous pull of the trigger, the rockets propelled from the launcher, colliding fatally with Wesker's head, decapitating him. The lava surrounding him exploded in a fiery blast, causing Chris and Jill to shield their eyes.
Sheva smiled slightly, before stating, "That was for our fallen brothers." She turned to look at Chris and Jill, who stared down into the lava together.
"That was for S.T.A.R.S.," Jill muttered happily.
Falling into their seats, the chopper took off, heading for the B.S.A.A. base in London.
Jill couldn't help but give an adoring look towards Chris when he wasn't looking.
You did it, Redfield. You saved me. You saved the world.