"Polly want a cracker? Polly want a cracker!"
The annoying and airy voice stops momentarily and I smash the pillow over my head.
"Here pussy, pussy, pussy, pussy! Claire! Claire! You got a fine ass!"
I hammer the pillow harder against my ear. "I'm gonna kill Tristan for teaching that damn bird to " I don't even bother to finish my grumble.
"Claire! Claire!" It sing-songs. "Here pussy, pussy, pussy!"
"Polly, stop that!" Rebecca's voice calls from the kitchen.
The bird hollers loudly and I can hear it's large wings fluttering. "Becca Becca Who's your daddy?"
I sit up suddenly and fling my pillow at the cage, which is right outside my bedroom door at the start of the hallway. It makes solid contact, nearly sending the cage, stand, and Polly toppling to the ground. The bird immediately begins shrieking and squawking like some mindless idiot.
"Claire!" I can barely hear Rebecca over the idiot bird's ruckus. "You're only making it worse. Besides, you should be getting up anyway. I'm making breakfast."
I collapse back onto my remaining pillow and bury my face. "The day hasn't started yet." I mutter throatily.
After a few moments, the earsplitting cries from the bird ceases and I breathe a sigh of relief. That relief is short-lived as I feel Rebecca's fingers tapping my shoulder.
"Come on, sleepyhead." Her tone is light and breezy. "You're supposed to tell me about how your date went last night."
My stomach suddenly lurches at the memory and my cheeks tint pink. "I'd rather not." I mumble into the pillow.
She pulls at my blankets. "Come on, Redfield! Get up. I'm dying to hear the story."
As she tugs a little more insistently, I curl deeper into the covers. "I'm taking this one to the grave." I catch a whiff of my breath. Yuck! Bathroom. Toothbrush. Now!
"Get up!" Rebecca grates out as she attempts to pull my whole body off the bed.
I keep wrapping deeper into the blankets. "I'll get up if I don't have to tell the story."
"Negatory." I can hear the smirk in her voice. "Get your fine fanny up and come eat your pancakes."
I smash the remaining pillow over my face as she walks out of the room. She isn't going to let this one slide. "I definitely need a shot of whiskey."
Letting a few moments pass, I then get up and head to the partner bathroom connected to my bedroom. On second thought, I'll pass on the whiskey, take a cold shower, and just run headlong in front of a train.
I fumble blurrily for my tooth brush. Both Becca and I had met through TerraSave. I'd learned of her involvement with S.T.A.R.S. and the incidents in Raccoon Forest. She'd learned that I was Chris Redfield's younger sister. We'd become fast friends and I'd posed the idea of sharing an apartment with her... and here we are.
I squeeze the toothpaste savagely onto the tooth brush and shove it into my mouth, not bothering that my jaw is still kind of sore. She might have popped me pretty good, but I popped her back. Never again am I going to trust Lena's version of a perfect blind date. The taste of his alcoholic kiss is still on my tongue. Disgusting I glare at my reflection, remembering the way he'd treated me to a fun night out.
"Hell, I can drink better than he can." I say between the toothbrush, some of the foam leaking down my chin.
It's been a good year since I've really dated anyone. Lena had felt it was her duty to set me up with a gentleman and 'spice up my conquests' as she put it. I should have never trusted her, but She's truly a sweetheart. I didn't want to be rude and decline. Turning on the tap, I spit out the foam and begin washing my brush under the faucet. She'd had good intentions. I shake my head. Sometimes good intentions don't pan out like they should do they, Claire? I push the thought from my mind and wash out my mouth.
"Claire!" Becca laughs. "You up yet?"
"Yeah." I call back as I exit the bathroom and begin heading toward the kitchen.
There are several pluses with both Becca and I sharing an apartment. We both know how to cook. We both like keeping things squeaky clean. I don't know how many times I'd come home, back when I lived in the college dorms, and my roommate would have random pizza boxes stuffed under the couch because she was too lazy to put them in the trash. Roaches God I shiver in disgust.
Becca and I are like two sisters, one being a sunny morning pixie and the other being your everyday non-morning grouch. I smile at the thought as I enter the kitchen. Polly whistles behind me and I grumble under my breath causing Rebecca to look over at me, a smirk on her face and her hands on her hips with a spatula in her left hand. I see she's still parading around in her underwear while she cooks. At least she doesn't smear blue paint over half of her face, dress in a bad excuse for a kilt, and rehearse Mel Gibson's speech from Braveheart. I had a previous roommate who would do that.
"You know, that bird has never liked me." I exhale as I take a seat at the bar.
"Maybe he sees the real Claire Redfield and not that nice girl charade you put on." She teases whilst dancing to some unknown beat going off in her head.
"Do I need to remind you who won the latest paintball fight last week?" I grin and toss a dish towel at her.
She catches it with her right hand as she flips a pancake with the other. "Best two out of three after work today?"
I shake my head. "Not today, champ."
"That bad, huh?" She looks over to me, her expression apologetic.
I take a deep breath and smile. "It's no big deal. I I guess we can have a few matches after work." There's no reason to take this out on Becca. None of it was even remotely her fault.
She flips her current pancake one last time, then puts it on a mountainous pile of other blue berry pancakes. "Ooh, no. We can do that kind of stuff any day. If you want, I can tell the boss you're sick and cover for you."
I get up to pour both of us a glass of OJ. "No, Becca. I can't ask you to do that. I'll be alright pinkie swear."
"You sure?" she asks as she grabs our plates and the syrup.
"Yeah," I force a painful smile as I pour her glass of orange juice.
"Liar." Becca rolls her eyes and grins.
"Well " I turn to her, purposely changing the subject. "At least my panties don't have the words 'Bitch Cheeks' printed on the rear end."
Becca shakes the syrup at me as if she is reprimanding a small child. "Don't go insulting my lucky panties."
I giggle. "Planning on getting lucky today, sport?"
She tosses her short choppy bob. "Darn tootin'."
It's my turn to roll my eyes. "You're a mess, Becca."
She laughs. "It's okay. You love me."
I pour my glass of OJ. "Maybe. I'm still debating."
"Becca! Becca!" Polly suddenly howls obnoxiously. "Who's your daddy?!"
I grimace and Becca giggles. "I'm really gonna tear into Tristan for teaching Polly that stuff."
"Mind if I help?" I growl as I set both the glasses at the bar and take a seat.
"Well Miss Grouchy." She smirks. "Here are you pancakes." She slides the plate across the bar, nearly knocking my glass over. On purpose, of course.
I stick out my tongue at her and snatch one of the forks she must have placed on the bar before I'd gotten up. "Thanks, Miss Bitch Cheeks."
Becca takes her seat opposite of me. "Yeah, my cheeks are pretty bitchin'."
I snort, but decide not to reply. The room goes quiet aside from Polly's occasional outbursts. Becca wants to ask me something. I can see it in the way she slowly cuts the pancake with her fork, as if concentrating on how she's going to word her question. I look down at my own pancake. The sneaking suspicion that she's going to ask about Chris grows. I unknowingly stab my fork into the spongy heart of my breakfast. I haven't heard from Chris in several months. Since the death of his partner Jill Valentine, he's poured himself into his work, seeming to forget everyone even his own flesh-and-blood sister. I clench my jaw as I recall all the times I'd dialed his cell, all the times I'd tried to contact him, the select few times he'd talked to me over the phone distant almost bothered.
"Claire?" Becca's voice startles me. "You haven't heard from him, have you?"
I poke at my pancake. "Negatory."
She reaches out to grasp my hand. "Don't worry, Claire. I'm sure he'll call soon."
I bite back a sarcastic reply and try to smile. "You're right." Don't take this out on Becca. It's not her fault. Control your anger, Claire. Becca's been like a sister to you for years now. Just relax and breathe.
Becca squeezes my hand reassuringly and then grabs the TV remote to turn on the little flat screen we have in the kitchen. Suzanne Malveaux of CNN pops on screen, her voice monotone and sleep inducing. I focus on the crawl as Becca turns up the volume. Oil has gone up in price againno surprise. The situation in the Middle East is getting worse because we can't keep our nose from where it doesn't belong. I take a swig of my OJ. None of this is news to me.
That's when the next report takes me totally off guard. "the incident in Kijuju, Africa seems to be the work of the CEO of Tricell's African division, Excella Gionne, a well-known terrorist, Albert Wesker, and three inside members of the B.S.A.A. These current B.S.A.A. members are still at large and considered dangerous."
My brother's face floods the screen and my blood freezes. What? How? No I try to form words, but my tongue is dry and sticking to the roof of my mouth. How? How? No way I then notice the other faces: Jill Valentine, Sheva Alomar, and Josh Stone. Jill Valentine is alive? My blood abruptly unfreezes and it all travels to my brain, making me dizzy.
"Oh my God " Becca's voice is hazy and distorted as I try to focus.
My brother is in trouble After practically ignoring me all this time he's in trouble now. Rage boils in my gut and I suppress tears. Damn it, Christopher! How did you get into this?
"I don't believe this." Becca snaps, throwing her fork down onto her plate. "There's no way that they were responsible for any of that! They've been compromised. Someone has turned them 'scapegoat'."
I wasn't even listening to Suzanne's report anymore. "I don't even know where to begin. He's all the way in Africa. How can he " I bite my lip harshly. "Where do I even begin?"
Becca grabs the kitchen phone. "I'm gonna call Tristan. We'll figure this out, okay Claire?"
I didn't even answer. My brother Jill Valentine is alive. I remember the last few months my brother had totally submerged himself into a case revolving around Tricell and something He wasn't supposed to tell me, but I badgered it out of him. Something called Uroboros? I read up about that in a file at work. It was considered a hoax.
"Where do I even begin?" I ask myself.
Becca is busy talking to Tristan on the phone. I get up and walk into the living room. With me being his sister, they will look to question me if they don't find him soon. How the hell am I supposed to know where he even is? My heart constricts. Damn it, Chris. Where do I even begin?