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Promise in Mourning

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I'm miles from where you are, I lay down on the cold ground And I, I pray that something picks me up and sets me down in your warm arms – Snow Patrol Set the fire to the third bar

It just didn't feel right just to let go of him after he died. At least that was what kept flickering though Claire's mind as she held onto Steve's battered body, his blood soaking into her tattered jeans. Each of Claire's limbs felt numb as her skin prickled and her teeth began to chatter as the shock of it set in. Desperately she kept talking to him, terrified to stop in case he still clung on, terrified to let go in case he was only unconscious.

Claire watched Steve's face for any sign of life, her tears falling into his hair as she swayed still holding him with a strength she never knew she had. Every sound seemed strangely amplified to her ears as she strained to hear any sound of Steve's breathing. Claire could hear the faraway drip of water leaking somewhere along with the dull moans of zombies in the distance and with each minute of nothing that passed Claire knew that Steve wasn't going to come back. Every choked breath that Claire took in the guilt in her belly rose further up her throat as the cold realisation of how she had failed him chilled Claire to the bone. She had dismissed him as a kid even though he had saved her life and she had failed miserably in repaying the favour.

Steve had tried so hard, fought so hard against everything Umbrella had thrown at them, but in the end it just hadn't been good enough. Claire hadn't been good enough. And Steve had paid the price of her failure. And it just wasn't fair! Even as Claire thought it Steve's last words replayed themselves endlessly in her mind. Taunting her as the image of Steve telling her that he loved her as he lay dying hit Claire harder than any blow could. Claire's weeping grew, echoing all around the cell, her own misery deafening her as her sobs intensified to the point it made her whole body ache, made her wish she was dead just so she would be free of this all consuming guilt! God why did Steve have to tell her? Didn't he know that it would only make the pain harder to bear?

 

With that the remorse that burned inside Claire only grew worse as she hated herself for even thinking such a thought. With nothing else to do except grieve and try to control the pain that made her heart twist inside her chest all Claire could do was cling to Steve and pray that she would get away from this place. Every minute in this place drew her closer to loosing her mind. Claire had never wished for anything more in her entire life than for Chris to release her from the cell, so she could escape this all encompassing misery that she was trapped in. It wasn't until Claire heard the muted thud of lock being released that she made any movement. Her body seeming frozen along with Steve's rapidly cooling corpse.

 

Slowly Claire let go of him, loathe to leave him alone in this nightmarish place as she gently placed Steve down on the ground, brushing his damp hair away from his closed eyes. Claire took a deep breath to try and steady herself before she spoke, her voice shaking with emotion.

"Steve, I promise you, no matter what it takes, I am going to make Umbrella suffer for what they've done. I'm going to make them pay for what they did to you, your family, Raccoon and anyone they've ever had a hand in hurting or killing. I won't let them get away with what they've done. I promise, Umbrella is finished."

Claire's voice reverberated against the walls as she finished her oath and with that Claire looked down at Steve one last time as she pushed her self up, her tears starting to ease as the anger set in and her new found purpose lit a fire in her heart. At least Steve hadn't died alone, Claire could think of nothing worse, and with that thought some of the weight lifted from her slightly as Claire lingered on the one thing that probably made Steve's passing easier for him to bear. At least, Claire thought as she ran to join Chris, she had been of some use. Maybe she hadn't failed Steve completely at all...