|Ashley Graham|| Where's Ashley? She didn't seem to sleep in her designated spot much last night, and this morning she's hard to find. Damn near impossible to find. At least she is, until she shows herself. When she does, she shows herself only to Leon, sticking her head out of the storage room door where things like candles, crackers, and other church paraphernalia are kept that need to be on hand, near the alter. She only does so when she sees Leon up and about and alone.
She'll whisper his name, very hushed, very nervous.
|Leon Kennedy||Ashley, where are you? Leon's been knocking around for a little while this morning, having taken the night off the watch and already sure they've spent far too long at this location. He'd been on his way to the supply closet/missionary cupboard to see if there were some small things they could take for the road without hurting the efforts here too much, but then he hears a small voice whispering his name.
"Ashley?" he answers in a whisper, glancing curiously toward the protruding head. "What's the matter?" His voice raises but only just, as he walks over to check on her.
|Ashley Graham||Ashley steps back into the closet to allow Leon to come in. She'll shut the door behind him. Inside the room is a blanket among the different crucifix staffs and extra podiums. There's also that Home Depot bucket, or perhaps a different one, covered and tucked far away in a corner. It's lit by two tallow alter candles sitting on a stout bookcase filled with extra prayer books.
One look at Ashley and it's clear that this isn't going to be good. She's been crying, which perhaps isn't that unusual. But even in the candlelight, she looks more pale than usual, and her cheeks are flushed.
"Leon," she admits, crossing her arms over her stomach in a self-hug. "I don't feel well."
Oh dear Lord.
|Leon Kennedy||Coming inside, Leon just blinks a few times at the state of affairs within. She's built herself a sort of shrine off in the far corner, a shrine to an orange bucket giving off a suspicious aroma. As his eyes wander back her way from looking into the corner, she makes her announcement, holding her belly and looking generally miserable.
Without another word, the young man puts his hand out toward her, resting the back of it against her forehead. "You're hot," he mutters, and it's not in the flirty, complimentary tone she's probably got from some other boys. "...when did this start?"
|Ashley Graham|| She lets him, casting her eyes down for that particular moment. Apparently she's in no mood to be playful now, or else she'd likely pick up on that 'hot' line and tease him for it. "I couldn't sleep last night," she confesses softly. "I was throwing up a lot. And freezing." Because she is, indeed and in fact, running a fever.
Poor thing. She looks scared. And rightly so. Because sick people have not fared well, lately, in Raccoon City.
|Leon Kennedy||Not good. Not good at all. Sickness here is a very bad thing. For one thing, they don't have a lot of medication on hand at the church, because most of their hoarded supplies got left at Leon's apartment and hidden in a hole in the apartment complex's landscaping, because everyone hated the doublewide idea. "When was the last time you threw up?" Leon's concern is evident. The pair have become somewhat close, bonded by trauma, and even if they don't carve their initials into the pews there's the expected chemistry between two attractive, driven young people with morals and intelligence. "Have you been keeping food down at all?" He's not a doctor, dammit, he's a police officer.|
|Ashley Graham||Ashley shakes her head, meeting his eyes for a little while, but even the strength in her that allows him to meet his gaze so brazenly and easily generally is lessened. She looks down and away with a shake of her head before answering his question. "Not since early this morning, not really. There's nothing left in me, so I just gag," she confesses, almost embarrassed by that. "Even with water, so I stopped drinking it so I don't waste it." Because water is a finite commodity.
A few more tears slide down her hot cheeks, and Ashley lifts her face to look at Leon. Looking hopeless. "Leon," she says quietly. "Doctor Berger, at the hospital, said that no one gets better. Only worse." It's only fair that she should fear that this is the dreaded virus that she's gotten.
|Leon Kennedy||"Let's not get carried away," Leon supplies hastily, shaking his head, his dark bangs partially obscuring his face. "You don't know if you're sick with /that/ or just a cold or the flu or something." Of course, it's not unnatural to suspect the worst, but he's not about to give that theory any additional credence right now.
"You've been drinking the water here, we all have, and who knows how clean it is, really. It could even be something like that." There's lots of reasons one can get sick, especially in this environment. Leon tries desperately to think of all of them. "Whatever it is, you need medicine."
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley's arms come up from her stomach, one to wrap around her body underneath her bust and the other to cross over her body to rest on her opposite shoulder in a deeper self-hug. She nods, listening to him as she always does, but not entirely convinced. Then again, he's likely not entirely convinced either.
She shivers, then shakes her head. "We don't have any medicine. I've been through the supplies, we have asprin but not much else. We don't even know what I would need, anyway. Maybe the National Guard has something, but I can't ask them." She bites the lower right corner of her mouth as she leans back on the wall behind her. She bites the lower right corner of her lip, managing to stop the tears. "If people know I'm sick, they might turn me out." Or worse. Far worse. "Which is entirely fair of them."
|Leon Kennedy||"No one is turning you out." The force with which Leon makes the statement is a little surprising, even to him, and he blinks at his own conviction. Shaking off his surprise, he presses ahead. "Aspirin would help with the fever, at least. Until we can get back to my place, I have more stuff there. Drugs, just over the counter stuff, but it's better than what we have here, apparently."|
|Ashley Graham|| The force of his conviction may surprise him, and it surprises Ashley too. But her look softens when he says it, becomes less frightened, more grateful, fond. She nods at his conviction; it gives her a bit of confidence again. Just a bit.
"We're leaving?" she asks, surprised, looking up at him again. And then she looks away again, pensive and worried. "I can't leave," she tells him. "Not like this. If this is the virus and the worst does happen, I can't be in a car with you." Her voice trembles at that. "Besides," she adds, managing to calm herself with a hard swallow and a wetting of her lips. "They won't evacuate me like this. Nor should they."
|Leon Kennedy||"We can't stay here forever," Leon answers back, not ready to give up his little plan that's been bubbling up through his consciousness the last couple of days. "We have to leave eventually. This little 'base' is not going to keep us safe indefinitely, and I don't know how long it's gonna take to raise the quarantine." The idea that they would ever do something like, say, sterilize the city with napalm or a nuke, is a dark nightmare no one has yet begun to imagine might be possible, given that this is America or something.|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley looks at him again and nods in understanding. "Alright," she agrees with him, but then even with a little argument here or there, Ashley will follow Leon anywhere. She moves then, plucking up the blanket from the floor and wrapping it around her, moving to settle in the little nest she's made with a sigh of relief.
"So what do we do, then?" she asks, looking up at him from her seated position. Beautiful, intelligent, caring, and at his mercy. Poor Leon.
|Leon Kennedy||"I'm not sure yet," Leon admits, frowning as he watches her settle into her little nest. Why she trusts him so implicitly is beyond his understanding, but he's not out to abuse her blind faith either. "We left my cruiser behind when we came here, which, in hindsight, may have been our worst mistake so far. We're stuck here unless we want to go on foot or talk Stadler into loaning us a humvee." It's not ideal.|
|Ashley Graham||"Can we get a car from somewhere else?" Ashley asks, craning her neck to look up at him. "From the street?" Borrow, she surely means. Absolutely not steal. That would be wrong. "If we talk to the Major, we might be taking away a big resource for everyone here. And if we borrow it, have them drive us, they'll see that I'm sick." She tightens the blanket around her neck at that point. Fear. It's there, palpable on her. She whispers: "I don't want to die yet." It's a moment to tug on the heartstrings, as another tear slides down her burning cheek.|
|Leon Kennedy||"We /can/ get a car from somewhere else, yeah." It'll just mean finding one that hasn't had the gas siphoned out of. "It might take a while. I'm still working on what is the best way out of this." There really isn't a 'best way' left for them, but Leon is trying. "You're not gonna die." He shakes his head at her, not anywhere near willing to concede that possibility. "I'm still going to get you out of here. I promised I would keep you safe, and I'm going to."|
|Ashley Graham|| She sniffles, but nods, deferring to Leon's wisdom on All The Things in this particular situation. No more tears fall, for now. She's getting rather practiced at choking them back. She looks up at him again.
"If it does turn out that this is the virus, and there's nothing to be done for it, please make sure I don't wake up again." Her voice trembles again at that. "I'm never turning into one of them. Never."
|Leon Kennedy||"That's not going to happen," Leon assures her, assuringly. That's most of what he does for Ashley, it seems. "You don't have it, and I'm going to get you out of here. You need to drink water, though. You're going to get dehydrated if you don't."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley nods, deferring to Leon again, but not looking particularly like she believes him. She heaves a calming sigh, closing her eyes for a few minutes until all the feels are choked back where they belong. Inside, where they can fester.
"There's something else," Ashley tells him, nodding to some empty space against the wall opposite her if he wants to sit. She'll just be hiding in here, for now. "Dr. Berger, the man I knew from the hospital, was here yesterday. He was poking around, looking for supplies and survivors I suppose, and he found us. And he knows about the creature with the Maxim gun that we saw." She waits for that to sink in. Also for Leon to mentally make the connection between Maxim gun and mini gun because it is something of a walk to get from one to the other.
|Leon Kennedy||"The /what?/" Leon isn't familiar with the term 'maxim gun'. He comes further in, putting his back against the wall she nodded at and sliding down into a seated posture. "Ashe, I don't know what you're talking about. Who's Berger? Why didn't you tell me about this before? Is it because you're sick?" Concerned eyes run over her features, her pale face and flushed cheeks.|
|Ashley Graham||"He's the doctor who was working at Raccoon City Medical Center when the virus started to hit. He's the one who told me that people never get better. He also told me about the raid on the unsanctioned Arklay Mountains facility, because he was there." Ashley apparently will hold nothing back from Leon, even secrets that might put Markus in danger. "He's a good man," she assures Leon with a nod to accentuate her point. "And he knows things. So when he came in yesterday and told me, I wanted to tell you. But you were on shift last night, and since you've come back I've been hiding in here." Her blood pressure shoots up as she tries to explain everything to him, likely making her a touch dizzy so she lets her head rest back on the wall and her eyes close. So tired, the poor thing. "Vomiting in here, if we're being honest," she adds as a grumbled afterthought.|
|Leon Kennedy||"He knew about that? Why didn't he go public? Inform the police?" There's heat in Leon's voice, eyes flashing angrily. "What kind of a good man knows about that sort of thing and doesn't warn anyone?!" After everything that's happened, it's hard not to be upset at this particular revelation. It's pointless anger, though, and he knows it. What's done is done, and he sucks in a deep breath, pushing it hard out his nose, then another, and another, willing himself back to calmness. "...I can smell the bucket."|
|Ashley Graham||Leon's anger is rather a new experience for Ashley, and while her eyes snap open and widen at the sight and sound of it, she leans forward to put a hand on his arm to try and calm him. "SOCOM forces had come in and dealt with the facility. People have known, Leon. And what's more, if he had made a fuss about what he did know, Dr. Berger would likely be a target of the Umbrella Corporation. It was their viral research, their facility." She sits back a little as the man seems to calm. "He's been terrified of being killed for weeks, he says. But he couldn't leave. So he stayed and tried to help." With all of that said and done, Ashley seems content. Leon's calming, the truth is out there.
And then Leon comments on the smell of her bucket. Suddenly Ashley is all shades of red, taking up every inch of her normally pale cheeks. "Well leave then!" she says, thoroughly embarrassed.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon rolls his eyes in a mild tease at her rank indignation at the mention of the rank smell from the far corner of the room, and her face turns the same color as the Home Depot bucket. "I guess you're used to it," he chuckles quietly, not getting up to go either. "I still think he could have been more vocal. I'd have told someone in his place." Which is easy to say you're willing to potentially be killed for other people, if you're not the one doing it, but Leon's also been putting himself in that position in a fairly regular basis since this whole thing started. "Whatever. It doesn't matter now. What's done is done, and we've got to deal with it."|
|Ashley Graham|| She does glare at him at least though. It was unkind! But there's more important things at work. "He'd be dead if he had. He told me, and I tried to tell my Father, though I don't know if it ever went through." She seems like she might ask Leon something else, perhaps if there's been any contact lately. But he'd have told her if so, so she doesn't ask.
Instead, she goes back to offering up information. "The man with the maxim gun. The one who downed the evacuation helicopter at the strip mall," she clarifies for him. Maxim gun is something of an antiquated term. Then she closes her eyes, trying to remember. "He called it Nemesis," Ashley reports. "It's a bio weapon. A man, I'd assume, in some form. But a monster. It's supposed to kill everyone that the corporation wants killed." She opens her eyes, looking apologetically at Leon. Because this is bad news bears indeed. "And he said if there's one, there's likely more like him, too."
|Leon Kennedy||"There's more?" Leon remembers Nemesis, ol' Nemmy boy. She keeps ranting about a maxim gun, and he finally decides to just ignore that, assuming it's some cute girl mix-up between Maxim magazine and minigun. "...That can't be good. Did he say how they can be stopped? Is there some kinda, you know, secret weakness only the Umbrella scientists knew about in case they ever had a problem with them?"|
|Ashley Graham||Actually it's a precursor to the modern machine gun. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_gun. Now who's the cute girl, Leon??
Back to our story, Ashley is shaking her head in the negative. It makes her dizzy, and she groans and puts a hand to her temple, and stop. "No," she vocalizes. "In fact, he said that he'd seen it get hit with something to the head. Something big. Jesus, I can't remember...." Ashley looks away, biting on the lower right corner of her mouth. "Anti-material gun? Is that a thing?" she asks, looking back to Leon. "It was something like that, but it hit him in the head. In his words 'It only made him angrier.'"
She pauses then, looking over Leon before asking. "Do you think it was trying to kill us? I mean targeting us, since it sounds like it's a hitman?" Hitmonster.
|Leon Kennedy||"It was definitely trying to kill us," Leon agrees glumly, with a quick nod. "Us specifically, I don't know. Us in a general sense, definitely. I don't know how'd it track us down in particular, unless they put a bloodhound nose in it or something," the officer reasons, shrugging slightly against the wall. "...I shot it," he recalls. "Right in the eye. It just kept on coming." It was a good hit, too, and Leon's handgun, while a handgun, isn't a tiny caliber.|
|Ashley Graham||"I don't know who it would be trying to kill in that crowd in particular. Claire, perhaps? She was rather vocal about her knowledge." Despite Ashley being on a lot of people's #1 list, that doesn't seem feasible, apparently.
"I suppose we'll just have to wait and find out," she admits with a solemn tone. Her bright blue eyes flash up to the man across from her, watching him in the flickering candlelight. After all, the little closet doesn't exactly have windows. That's kind of the point.
At that point, Ashley reaches up to pull out the hair tie at the back of her braid and slowly begins to unwind the tight tendrils, sighing at the ease of pressure on her scalp. "I don't know if any of that helps, and I don't know that this will help. But Dr. Berger told me one more thing, that one of the people he had been staying with since everything collapsed had been kidnapped. Lunatics, he said, but he didn't elaborate. I don't know any more than that, but I wanted to tell you." Because she'll not hold anything back when you never know what little piece of something might be useful, some day.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon just stares back at her for a second while she undoes her braid, and then he offers, "...because you want me to go save them...?" He's hoping not. That sounds like a terrible idea right now. "I'm not sure that's a good idea." He's tired too, though, and it shows in the redness around his eyes, the dark circles under them, the way little random noises cause him to start after a slight delay, and he lets his head thump gently back against the stone. He's quiet for a moment.
"I never thought this would happen to me, Ashley."
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley eventually is able to nudge her fingers between her tresses, and she shakes it loose. At last, it all falls free. Slightly tinted red, still, and wavy from being bound up so tightly. At that, her hands fall away from the blonde locks, and she smiles softly across at Leon again. "I wish that we could," she says sadly. "But I certainly am no good at saving anyone. And I'm not going to ask others to do it, because you're right. It'd be a bad idea," she admits sadly.
She watches him again a few long moments, her smile fading to a frown when she hears his words. "No one did," she says, speaking softly, comfortingly. One thing about being beautiful, with a beautiful voice, is that it can sound quite comforting. Sometimes, if she can figure out the right things to say. "No one could plan or be prepared for this."
|Leon Kennedy||The young officer pulls in his breath, his chest rising, and then lets it all out in a long, slow sigh. Sat up against the wall, looking as worn as he does, even with the stubble from going days between shaves, he looks his age. Young. He shouldn't be carrying all the responsibility he is. Not this young. But that's the cruel reality of life, isn't it? "Yeah," he agrees quietly, his eyes closed, the eyelids shiny and gray with fatigue. "I know."|
|Ashley Graham||Ashley watches the man with concern and compassion for a few long moments. And then there's a shuffle, the sound of movement. Ashley's risen, and shifted, and she's slid next to him, leaning her own back against the wall. She takes the blanket she's wrapped in and drapes it across her legs and then his as well. "Sleep awhile," she urges, quietly. "I'll be here," she assures him. "I'll wake you if anything happens, but it'll be dark and quiet in here." She offers him a small, hopefully reassuring smile.|
|Leon Kennedy||"But you're sick," Leon protests tiredly, not really fighting it as she drapes the blanket over his legs. He's too tired to argue, too tired and hungry, and it /is/ refreshingly dark in the supply closet while it's significantly brighter without now that the sun has come up. "...maybe a few minutes."|
|Ashley Graham||The man makes a good point. Ashley removes the blanket from her own legs and drapes it over Leon, up to his chest. "You're right," she tells him softly. "I'll manage, no one will notice," she promises him, and indeed she does stand upright and take a deep breath, calming. She ruffles her hair a bit further, and nods. She looks better, apparently able to fake it fairly well. "Stay in here," she tells him. Because yes, apparently now Ashley is giving orders now. She moves for the bucket, plucking it up and moving around Leon's body. "I'll be outside," she promises him, and with that she moves toward the door.|
|Leon Kennedy||"That's not what I meant." Leon's feet slide out in front of him and his head slouches against the wall, his eyes fluttering open as she starts to take off. "Ashley. I meant I can't sleep while you're sick. What if something happened to you? I promised." He's starting to get up, since she's trying to leave.|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley turns when she hears him starting to get up, and sets the bucket down in the far corner, recovering it with a wooden shelf slid out from one of the podiums. Because ew.
"Leon, don't," she protests, moving to set her hands on his upper arms, to steer him back to his seat if he's not all the way to his feet yet. If she manages to get him back down, she'll kneel on the floor beside him. Otherwise she'll stand in front of him.
"I know you promised," she assures him. The act has slipped away since there's no one to lie to in here, and her fatigue shows again. But still she stays beside/in front of him and tries to calm him. "But enough people have gotten themselves killed over me. And it doesn't do anyone any good for you to be so exhausted that you get killed over me too." She frowns, really searching for words that will make him feel better that also aren't a lie. And perhaps taking a moment to catch a little breath from all the talking. "I'm sick," she agrees with him. "But that's not your fault. Nothing that happens to me is your fault."
|Leon Kennedy||"I'm fine," Leon protests, but he lets her sit him back down, sinking back down to the floor, pushing his legs back out in front of himself, letting his head rest back up against the wall. He sighs again, frowning mightily at his own fatigue, looking up at her and her kind face and concerned eyes and comforting words. "You don't have to go back out there," the cop decides, quietly, dropping his eyes. "I was just worried about you."|
|Ashley Graham|| "Are you sure?" Ashley asks, concern still ringing strong in her voice. She remains knelt beside him, moving to tuck him back into the blanket once he's settled. Mother henning again, doing whatever little thing she can find to do to try to help. She's so useless.
"I'll stay if you want," Ashley decides, quietly. "Make sure to wake you up if anything happens," she promises. "If it would help you sleep for me to stay." Because if he is so worked up about what happens to her, and needs to know that she's safe in order to sleep? This might be the best solution.
She pauses, then, biting hard on the lower right corner of her lip. She looks like she wants to say something else, but she chooses not to, instead just watching him, waiting for his response.
|Leon Kennedy||"Yeah, I'm sure," Leon mutters as she tries to tuck him in, stirring a little and mostly undoing her efforts. It's the thought that counts though, right?
"Just stay," he agrees, not wanting her to wander off and faint somewhere and never be found. That would not be good. He promised to keep her safe. He promised.
His eyes are only slightly open, but he notices the way she bites her lip and the look in her eye, and he tries a tired and unfairly attractive smile. "What's on your mind?" So welcoming. Such a safe person to talk to. Look at that smile.
|Ashley Graham||Ashley releases her lower lip so she can smile at him, a warm and fond smile. She considers, a moment, a sadness in her eyes. And eventually she shakes her head. "Nothing," she assures him, patting his leg beneath the blanket. "Just get some rest. Nothing's going to change between the time you close your eyes and the time you open then," she says, speaking as though that's a promise of her own. There's some movement, some shuffle, and the candles are blown out. The only way to know where she is now is by sound, and Ashley settles down beside him and takes a corner of blanket for her own lap. She is sick, after all. Feverish, even. It might have a positive effect, though, to share warmth under the blanket.
Once settled, Ashley watches the man in the almost pitch dark, but otherwise makes sure to slide herself as far away from him as humanly possible while still being under the shared blanket. Propriety? Scared of spreading germs? Who can say.
|Leon Kennedy||"What?" Leon fights sleep, because now his interest is aroused. It's not /nothing,/ they always say nothing and it's never nothing. "What is it?" he presses, tired but light-hearted. "Just tell me, you can trust me."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley sighs in the darkness. He'll hear it, and might even feel the slight rustle of the blanket as her body rises and falls with the inhale and dramatic exhale. Whatever it is, she truly doesn't want to say. "You won't like it," she tells him, somewhat matter-of-factly. There's another pause, but at last she speaks.
"I want you to forget all this promise crap," she tells him, with a touch of strength behind it. "The way you talk about it, it's like you'd take a bullet for me or something. And I've watched at least ten people do that in the past week and a half, between my Secret Service detail and the SEALS." She sighs again, and he can feel her shaking her head in the darkness. "I'm not important, Leon. You're far more useful to people than I am. But you keep going on about this promise and I'm scared you're going to do something stupid and get killed over it." She lets out another breath, and then draws it in. Preparing for the oncoming argument she anticipates.
|Leon Kennedy||"That's fair," Leon murmurs quietly, settling down further under the blanket, clutching the edge a little as he stretches out as best he can in the confined space. He doesn't say he's letting it go, though, just 'that's fair.' "You should get some rest," is all she gets in the way of argument. "And try not to puke on me if you can avoid it." Maybe there's a grin there, judging by the dim glow of white near his face.|
|Ashley Graham|| Well that's not what Ashley expected. She expected, at least, a bit more chest thumping. But when it doesn't come, she exhales. And she can sense him smiling at his own joke.
"Don't worry, there's nothing left in me to throw up," she assures him, but adds, "Even if there was, you're so tired you'll sleep through it anyway." With that, she's able to return his smile, just a touch, as he settles in.
She remains where she is, seated more or less upright, with the blanket across her lap. She does slide her hands underneath the blanket for warmth, but otherwise just lets her temple roll against the cool wall and close her own eyes.
Perhaps it's because she's got nothing left in her to throw up, or perhaps it's because Leon is with her now, but Ashley seems like she'll fall asleep fairly easily.