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That time, at Antarctic

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-Antarctica-

"Steve?"

I startled from a light touch in the back of my shoulder along with a young woman voice calls by my name.

"Are you okay Steve?"

I really like how she calls my name. It's just felt... natural...

"You been acting weird lately, you ok?"

Claire gave me a concerned tone she walks from the side to my front, her eye keeps staring at my face.

"Y-yeah, Claire? Sorry, I was daydreaming… I guess..." I replied awkwardly.

"Are you sure? You look kinda pale to me" Claire cross her hand while knitted her brows.

"R-Really?" I did realize now that my sight is rather kinda blurry, maybe I am..

"Yes, really! Here, let me check your temperature. Who knows you might be getting a god-know random virus into you or fever.. thanks to the cold weather at Antarctica."

She walks closer to me, and raises one her arm, putting her cool palm in my feverish forehead. Her face was is so close to mine that I can feel a faint of her breath. I roll my eye to the side feel a slight embarrassed because having a weird thought.

"..."

Her face is starting to get seriously worried as minute passing her hand still in my forehead.

"Just as I thought. You are getting a fever"

"Wha-? C'mon at a time like these? Are you kidding me?"

Claire lowered her arm, and the folding both her arm again.

"Yes, I'm not kidding, you can feel my cool hand right? It proves your head is hot, because of the fever. I know we are in a hurry but you really should get some rest, Steve."

"It might just a little lack of sleep Claire, I'm okay."

"No you are not, it's a fever. Let us go back"

"but-"

"No 'but', Steve. I don't want you to fight those zombies at these conditions. It's only making things got worse, there's a high chance you'll get careless and got attacked by them and because of that-" She stops, taking a deep breath " Steve, do hear me out. I'm seriously worried at you, okay? I don't want to lose my friend."

A Friend, huh?

I sighed, taking and deep breath and then swallowing my pride.

"Okay, okay... I understand, Claire." I reply in a low weak voice.

I felt conflicted. I become a burden to her again. But If I resist keeping going I'm going to make her sad and I don't want to become that selfish brat.

"Don't worry Steve, you are not a burden. I also feel tired so might as well we take a rest together." She was smiling softly at me as if her knowing what I thinking.

"Okay, let's go!" she held on my hand and then pulling it softly, guiding me back to the way where we came.

My face felt hot.

"Where to?" I asked, still awkwardly. God, I felt weaker and dizzier.

"To the office at B2. I think that the safest place in here since we can't go back into that crashed plane, and the plus thing is there's a clean sofa you can lie in there too"

"…uh, okay…?" my last sentence turned almost like a whisper. Even talking is way too tiring for me now.

God, I really hate the cold and the winter…

Claire opens the door slowly making a small creaking sound while holding her gun. She makes sure nothing inside the office and giving an ok. At this time My fever is gone so bad that I barely awake. Claire guide me inside carefully, I can smell the faint dust in the air as I come inside. I wonder how long this place has been abandoned since the zombie outbreak.

"wait a sec"

Claire then approaches the sofa in the left of the room, she pounds the sofa lightly to get rid of the dust that sticking into it. She then sits on the corner then she gestures me to sit in the next of her.

"Come on"

I hesitated.

"Steve" She calls me by my name with more lower intimidated tone. Why did I feel the tone of her voice this time is like an owner called her puppy?

She rises from the sofa because I didn't respond to her call. then pull my hand while tried to take me to the sofa she just sits.

"Come on! Sit down." Gosh, why are you using that kind of tone with a happy face? Claire. I'm not your fricking little puppy.

"Come on! Steve!"

"Alrite, alrite! Stop pulling my hand, Claire... I can walk on my own!" I walked into the sofa with a dejected look and sit down like a robot. We paused both for a few seconds then she seems slightly mad at me.

"That is not what I mean!"

She then walks to the front of me, pushing my upper body with slight force to the sofa, I reply with a low groan and sigh. Claire then puffs her chest while putting both her arms in her waist with a winning smile.

"Good boy!"

"... don't treat me like a child.." I mumbled while rolling my eye to the side

"hm, what was just now?

"nothing"

I don't like how she keeps treating me like that even though we only two years apart, but currently I had no power to get mad at her. I made a very weak smile, feverishly.

"Satisfied now, Ms. Claire Redfield?"

"Uh-huh, But I'm not completely satisfied until you get a good sleep."

"Are you going to leave me after that, Claire?"

"No, silly. I'm going to be here until you're wake up and get better. There's no way I'd leave my sick partner alone to get eaten by those zombies aren't we?"

We both laughed at sync

"I really can't turn you down aren't I?"

I sighed again for the dozen times today with a sad smile, I can felt the fatigue really makes my body so heavy. Just before I close my eye Claire suddenly gave a small sight, then sits on a small space on the sofa then tapping her on the top of her lap lightly.

Wait, did I say her lap? What does that mean? My tired eyes suddenly went wide.

"Uh... Do you mean what I thinking?"

"Uh-huh"

"Are you kidding me, Claire?"

"Kidding of what?"

I raise from sleeping positing to sit in front of her

"me, Putting my head, at your lap? Lap... pillow?"

She giggles

"Duh~of course, silly, what does that meant other than that? isn't it normal? Chris also sleep on my lap sometimes too"

"wha?! That's no-no-not normal for me! I'm not going to sleep on your lap as a pillow!"

Damn you, Chris, aren't a lucky bastard big brother?

"Well, it's now going to be 'yes'. Stop whining like a child and get some sleep, Steve"

"Err …can I just sleep without it?"

Dammit! Why did I say that! I really WANT to sleep at her lap right NOW. Stupid, Stupid Steve! I'm sure I must be making a very weird face right now, I'm sure of it.

"Steve" Claire calls my name again with that pressing tone of her.

I gulped.

All of a sudden she put both of her hands on my shoulder and push my head to her pillow...lap.

"Rest!"

"Uh- okay-yes ma'am, Claire-" I reply like a robot.

This was very awkward, but I can felt her soft lap and her smell makes me calm. I try to force my eyes shut to sleep but my head was so hot, I can hear my heart beat so loud that I was afraid Claire can hear it.

How I'm supposed to sleep like this anyway?

"I supposed you can't sleep yet?"

"..Yeah"

" Want to talk a little?"

she smiled softly looking down to my face, one her hand caressing my head a little.

"Claire, Do you remember when we on that plane?"Oh yeah stupid me, why I mention.

"Of course" Her eyes slightly sad "Too bad our trip plan to Hawaii together was canceled because the plane was broken, maybe some other time, huh? We should kick Alfred's butt first so he didn't annoy us anymore and then getting outta here"

She doesn't know?

"Besides, are you body okay? That time you catch me when I jump from the plane?"

…I forgot about that. It's only for a second but our face so close that time we fall together when I try to catch her.

"Y-yeah, it's nothing..." My face getting hot remembering those again. I try to avoid her stare and changed the conversation

"But, boy aren't you heavy"

"well, I pardon me then Mr. Weak! You already said that to me before."

I laugh weakly "…I'm just kidding, Claire. You're not actually... heavy..."

"What did you just say, Steve?"

"…"

he's falling asleep.

Claire smiled looking at his innocent sleeping face. He must be so tired falling asleep while having conversations like that.

She brushed the bang that covers one of his eyes. His face still leaving some his young feature and Claire notice he certainly has long eyelashes.

"Aren't you cute when you're asleep like this?" she smiled looking at his face, more like whispering to herself rather than to the person.

"actually Steve-" She continues then pauses for a moment to take a breath while closing her eyes to prepare the next word, then she stare again into the young man that still sleeping in her lap.

"I know what you are going to do on the plane, I just-" she stopped again for a while then continue.

"I actually did it purpose. I already wake up before you do that time, but— "

Claire tries to reach his hair, as gently can it gets, like afraid touching a fragile thing. She pats his head softly

"Is not that I hate it; actually I didn't mind if it's you… I just kind of surprised that time, so my body automatically move. Stupid isn't it? "

The young man still sleeps.

"Thanks for all this time…" she smiled, she slowly approaches his face, brushed her own bang that falls down to her ear. Just an inch distance from his face, she paused for a brief moment again finishing her sentence in a soft whisper

"...my knight in shining armor"

"...Claire? " Steve whispers, eye slightly open, half-awake caught her last sentence. He can feel her warm breath near the face, and then she kissing his lip softly.

Claire startled as she realize Steve was wake up, she throw her face at the side toward the wall pretend not looking him.

Did she really kiss me just then? Or is this only just a dream? I sit confused and try to touch her trembling shoulder. He can see her face turning very bright red tomato red

"Claire did you just...? What just..?"

She can't really see straight to his face so she only put look down, at this time she closes her mouth with her hand while trembling "S-Steve- I"

I touch my lip, my eyes looking into her eye, she trying to avoid my eyes. I can still feel the trails of her lip touching mine, my lip felts hot, is she really-?

"Claire- did you-?" I ask again

"… Yes... I kissed you" she closed her eye, tear strained, put both of her legs in the sofa then curled herself out like a ball.

I try to take her hand, slowly. She was startled at first of my touch, hand tensed but slowly she surrenders letting it go then our finger intertwined together then I stared at her beautiful face and that blue eyes of her

"I…I actually happy about it, Claire, why didn't you told me before?" I stroke her cheek with my free hand, very gently. Her face is hot and red.

"I-I don't know what should I do, Steve. This feeling is the first for me and I'm scared it might ruin our current relationship, and please don't stare at my face, It's embarrassing"

"I don't care, I love you, Claire. I really, really am. I've been fall for you since we've first met, you might forgive all my previous childish act, I might be really still a kid, but I try to change for you, Claire "

"haha" She finally smiles.

I put my forehead on hers, still intertwined one our hand together and one my hand holding her soft face

"Claire, Can I kiss you?"

"No need to ask for permission, stupid"

I smiled then our lips met