|Ashley Graham||How long has Ashley been hanging upside down in the subway? Hard to say, though it was morning when she got in the car and now the shadows are long and the sun red on the horizon over the Arklay mountains. For anyone left to see the spectacle, Leon and Ashley's rushed exit up the subway stairs must be a sight. Leon is leading, a gun in one hand and a bloody blonde in the other. Well, he's holding her upper arm, leading her up at a run.
The girl? Bloody is a good way to start. She's wearing black utilitarian boots and black leggings, so any splatter there is impossible to see. Amindst the inky blackness of the pants though are little flashes of white where the fabric has been cut by fine glass. The oversized white cashmere sweater, however, is a different story entirely. Soaked red, so much so that anyone viewing Ashley from the front might think the sweater was supposed to be red, save for a few streaks of white that somehow made it out untouched. Her pale, porcelain skin and her white blonde hair are in a similar state -- red, streaked with white where some of her natural coloring is visible beneath the carnage.
Coming up into the light has Ashley stumbling just a little, blinking against the light as she starts to look around. The noise from beneath the streets -- crashing, screeching metal, moans of undead, and the occasional disheartening scream follow the pair into the light. It causes the blonde to look back, looking concerned at the noises, but for now she makes no comment about it. Instead she just looks to the man who holds her, leads her. "Where are we going?" She asks the back of his head with a tremor in her voice.
|Leon Kennedy||"Away from here," is the answer, with Leon still holding onto her arm as he heads for the squad car pulled up nearby. There aren't /that/ many zombies around yet, apparently, since it's still the night of the outbreak, which is a Very Good Thing. "I'm a police officer," he continues, assuming something like that might help her relax a little bit, and he opens the passenger seat door for her after unlocking it. "You're safe now, I'm gonna protect you and get you out of here. I got a call from a lady, a special government agent, she said they're gonna extract you and I'm working for them."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley lets him pull her along until she figures out that they're moving to the squad car. At that point she moves more enthusiastically of her own accord, stepping around the door once he opens it. "I was safe with Secret Service too," she notes, her voice tight with emotion. At that point, she pauses, not yet getting in the seat. It's at this point she looks at Leon, blue eyes wide and white in the sea of red that is her face. "I'm sorry," she says almost immediately after. "That was inappropriate." With a downcast glance of self-reproach, Ashley moves into the front seat and tucks herself in so no bits get caught when the door is closed.
Inside the car, Ashley does seem to calm down a little, looking around the vehicle and particularly in the back seat before she moves to put her seatbelt on slowly. The tears that were choked back earlier seem gone now, and in the quick moment of quiet she seems to steady herself. Rather than near tears, now, she looks blank beneath the crusted blood. Hello to our old friend shock. Seatbelted, she waits, and just eyes her surroundings.
|Leon Kennedy||"Well, I'm not with the Secret Service," Leon fires back, with a little heat to his voice as he peers over the top of the door down at her, and then he shoves it shut once her feet and everything else are safely nestled inside. A deft hand twists the maglight off and thrusts it back through the loop at his belt, the overloaded contraption that police officers are forced to wear in order to carry their service weapons, handcuffs, taser, billy club, flashlight, bubblegum, and floss. Everything you might need out on the beat.
With a wary glance left and right to ensure there's no gnashing teeth set to imminently descend on them, he circles around the front of the Crown Vic and pops the driver's side door open, stepping in and sliding into the seat. The thin key is jammed into the ignition and given a sharp crank, at which the engine roars to life. The rookie looks like he's about to add another somewhat biting remark, but then he sighs and his face relaxes somewhat, glancing over at her. She's just scared. "...don't worry about it," he allows. "Looked like hell down there, but I'm gonna make sure nothing happens to you." He's been looking for a mission, someone he can save, and she's been conveniently dropped into his lap.
|Ashley Graham|| Scared seems to just be changing into ... empty. Or perhaps broken. Maybe Leon is just getting to watch a person fall apart. Part of the job, right? Rather than respond verbally to the man's promises of safety, Ashley just stares at him a little and then nods a few times. She's a strange bird, this one. Scared out of her mind -- damn near literally -- and yet she sits with perfect posture, her hands resting daintily on her lap. A lifetime of private school is hard to forget, even subconsciously.
"You shot those men," she finally says, her voice quiet and faraway. "The sick people. Is there nothing else we can do for them, when the get so ill?" She turns her head to look at him again. Blank. Empty. Shocked. "I don't know if the doctor at the hospital figured out how to help them, but he had so many people coming in I'm sure he must have helped some." What doctor? What hospital? Ah, confusing shock.
|Leon Kennedy||They can figure this out somewhere further away from the subway. Leon shoves the gearshift into reverse, backing away from the curb, and then pulls it into drive, accelerating rapidly away. The roads are bad, but not impassible. "Yeah, I shot 'em," the rookie officer confirms, nodding shortly. "They're not /sick,/ they're /dead./ They're already dead." Zombies! "Like in the movies, somehow. It started with the dogs and now it's spread to people." It seems to be his turn to be confusing and not provide details. "I didn't kill them because they were already /dead./" Even if it's not true, the mental distinction makes the act and the coping significantly less taxing psychologically. Glancing over at her, he can tell something is wrong, other than the obvious, but he's not a trained therapist or anything close to it. "Listen, I don't know anything about a doctor, but I know a girl who's been blogging about this stuff for weeks." Blogs are reliable sources of information. "I thought we could stop it before it spread too far and save the city, but I might have been wrong. Now I just have to save as many people as I can." He's fairly speeding down the streets, pulling easily around the occasional stopped or wrecked vehicle. "You're priority number one, by direct order of the President." A pause. "I guess you call him 'dad.'"|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley may argue some or all of those points with him in the future. But in her state? She just nods again, rather blankly. She turns those big blue eyes straightforward again to watch the city around her. She's like a newborn in a new world. What's that? What's that? Yet she doesn't seem to even be able to vocalize those thoughts. She just stares at different things.
At least, until POTUS comes up in conversation. Ashley's eyes slide down to her knees and she nods a little again. "I tried to let him know everything I knew," she says, as if trying to justify something to Leon. As if his opinion on things matters. "I tried to get him to call the CDC in. Or talk to the Governor. I don't know if he ever did, though. I haven't been able to speak to him for days..." she says, apologetically. Her eyes trail down as her voice trails down. And then Ashley wakes up.
It's the sight of her hands that seem to jar her back to reality. Absolutely covered in blood. She lifts them a bit in front of her, turning them over to look them over. Then back again. "Jesus." Holding out her arms and looking up her sleeves. The movements become quicker, more urgent, more conscious. She pulls her sweater down and away from her body to look down at it and the blood stained fibers. "Jesus!" she cries out again, this time in horror and surprise. "Jesus, I'm covered in it! Is it mine?" Because she doesn't know. Yet it all seems to be dry and caked, by now.
|Leon Kennedy||"It's not your fault," Leon states preemptively as she starts to go down the road towards 'if only I had done more the President would have stopped all of this' and that sort of useless soliloquy. "You told him, that's all you could do. Channels out of the city have been iffy for days." Even within the city, the only reliable communication right now is radio.
Abruptly, Ashley seems to come alive, registering the blood on her hands, face, sweater, legs, shoes, hair, all of her, really. "It's not yours," Leon hurriedly assures her, glancing over. He doesn't know for sure, but getting her calmed down is what matters most right now. "You're with me and you're safe now. I'm gonna get you somewhere safe where you can clean up." The engine purrs a little louder as he coaxes it ahead more quickly, her panic urging him on.
|Ashley Graham|| The man says it's not hers. He certainly sounds confident about that, far more confident than Ashley is that it is hers. Still, she runs her hands along her legs, along her shoulders, up along her neck and face. "Jesus," she whispers again, though it seems that her panic has plateaued for the moment. He says it's not hers, so she believes that. It works for both of them.
He's with her. She's safe now. It's enough. She can't take calming breaths, or find her zen. But she can keep herself sane, for now. So she drops her hands and digs her fingers into her legs, as if holding herself together by her physical strength, such as it is. She turns to Leon, and watches him with those big blues. "Where's safe, Officer?"
|Leon Kennedy||"For now? My apartment." The foot pumping the brake takes them around a tight corner, and then he's pulling up to park in front of a small, run-down looking double-wide. "It's not much, but it's still safe." Or he can keep it that way for the time being. "...then we're going to find that blogger." A strong hand shoves the automatic gearshift quickly into park.
Once he's out of the car, he circles around again to open her door, eyes warily scanning the street before he pulls on the handle to let her out. "Come on. You can get cleaned up inside."
|Ashley Graham|| "A blogger? This can't be real," Ashley says with a shake of her head. But it's not the blank disbelief of shock. More of a cynical mutter, like 'is this for real?' type of tone. She'll wait until Leon comes to let her out, giving her the all-clear with his actions. At least Ashley knows how to be a damsel in distress. Secret Service security briefings likely helped.
Ashley gets out of the car, dried blood flaking from her hands and face. She pauses to look over the run-down place, then moves her eyes to either side and then, eventually, turning so she can look across the way. Her face is hard to read, beneath all the gore. "How many of you are there?" Ashley asks, her voice more calm and calculating as she seems to come back toward sanity even further. She'll still wait for him to lead, though.
|Leon Kennedy||"How many of who?" Leon asks, a look of confusion clouding his face, his brow drawing together in a tight furrow. "I don't have any roommates, it's just me. Come on, I have fresh water inside." Nodding towards the trailer sends his bangs tumbling into his face a little, and a steady hand pushes them back away as he steps that way, keeping his gun holstered for now. There don't seem to be many zombies here, if any, although the street itself looks largely abandoned. There's a rickety porch and he climbs up onto it, glancing back at the squad car next to his beat-up Honda Civic. "...we'll take the Crown Vic later."|
|Ashley Graham|| "Police," Ashley clarifies as she steps up onto the porch. No doubt it's a far cry from the West Wing, this place, and yet Ashley doesn't squint or grimace or, based on her features, seem to judge in the least. She looks around, curiously, but little else. She stays close behind Leon, perhaps just a little too close.
"And when and where is the evac?" Her mind is working now, and there seems to be a sharpness to her despite her white-girl screams and broken silence earlier. That isn't to say that she's fully calmed herself, however -- the index fingers on both of her hands are twisted in the bloody cashmere of her sweater in a nervous gesture. But she's slowly becoming herself, again.
|Leon Kennedy||"Oh, that's uh. Still just me." Maybe she didn't need to know that, but Leon gets it out there. There's a reason a rookie cop, as dashing and handsome as he is, showed up all alone to rescue her from the subway station. It's because there was no one else to send. "As far as evac... I got a call on this?" A deft hand slips into his uniform trousers pocket, producing the uPhone and holding it up. "The agent told me where I could find you, and said they'd be in touch to get you out. Do you know how to work one of these?" Seeing her with her fingers wrapped up in the bloody sweater sparks something in his brain, though, and he pulls it back, slipping it back into his pocket. "Let's get you cleaned up and then we'll figure it out." Out of the other pocket comes a ring of keys, and after a moment finding the right one, he plunges the tiny piece of metal into the lock, twisting and opening the door, stepping in first to check that no one else has been inside. "Come on in and make yourself at home." The young officer manages a small, sympathetic smile. It's not fancy, and he knows it, but it's what he can afford. There's dated shag carpeting in half the space, dominated by the living room that merges into a kitchen, and then there's a narrow hallway on either end leading to a bedroom and a spare room, with bathrooms off the halls. "Bathroom is here, there's a big bottle of fresh water on the sink if the tap still isn't working. I uh. I don't have any women's clothes, but you can borrow some of mine if you want."|
|Ashley Graham|| Bless his heart, the handsome rookie is trying. Ashley takes in the interior of his trailer in the same fashion she did the exterior of it -- curiously, but without visible judgement. She'll step in and step out of the way to allow Leon to pass her into his own space. She doesn't take any further than a step or two in, fingers still curled in the red cashmere.
Once inside, as Leon begins to move around the space, she glances down and smiles softly. "I like a thick carpet," she points out easily and honestly. Shag carpet isn't necessarily thick carpet in the way that most modern people describe (because no modern person has a reason to ever mention shag carpet) but she says it and smiles at it all the same.
Her eyes move again. The bathroom. She listens when he talks about different water and clothing logistics, but she just shakes her head to him. "I'll make do, Officer," she assures him. But she remains paused there, as though unable to move from the spot by the door. And for a moment, perhaps longer than it ought to be, she just watches the rookie. Finally, she speaks up. "Thank you," she says, the only thing she says with a tremor. "For coming to help me. You didn't have to do it, you don't owe me or anyone else anything, but you did it anyway. So thank you for your service and your courage in it." It should come as no surprise that a politician's daughter has a way with words.
|Leon Kennedy||"This carpet is garbage," Leon replies with a snort and grin, unable to let the comment pass without making one of his own. "The whole place is, you're not gonna insult me." Ashley makes her little stump speech, and he nods once, with a self-deprecating smirk. "Yeah, well. Someone's gotta do it, and I didn't put on the badge for nothing." What's he forgetting? "But you're welcome," is the tacked-on addition, with a more serious, genuine glance over at her. "...you might not be able to shower, I don't think the water is running, but you should be able to get cleaned up at least. I'll just, um, I'll leave some clothes outside the door if you want them and I'll be in the bedroom on the far side when you're done. You should probably eat something too."|
|Ashley Graham|| She chuckles. A low, delicate, feminine chuckle. After the quiet muttered laugh, though, she lowers her face in self-reproach. Laughing, now? What a horrible thing. So she chooses quiet instead.
Nodding, she pauses by the door to bend down and take off her shoes, leaving them there so she doesn't track blood and glass on the shag carpeting. "If you have a button-down, that should be enough for me," she assures him, moving past him and into the bathroom doorway.
She pauses there, one dried bloody hand set on the frame as she turns to look at Leon. She looks like she might say something, perhaps another little stump speech or something else entirely. She might just break down and tell him her life story. Instead, she quietly bites down on the lower right corner of her mouth, and nods to the man once more. She steps into the bathroom and quietly closes the door.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon gives it a good five seconds after she closes the door, having nodded at the button-down thing, to move abruptly to the window, peering out to assure himself that they're still safe. For the moment, everything looks okay, so he wanders back into the other bedroom to pull out a few things for her. A tailored button-down that will be her best shot at something that fits, a white v-neck undershirt, a pair of his close-fitting jeans and his spare belt. His boots give a muffled thump on the carpeted flooring as he crosses back over, deposits the clothes by the door, and then thumps back to the other side so that she knows he's not hanging around trying to take a peek while she's getting clean. This is a good opportunity to get out of the cop get-up as well, and he takes it.|
|Ingrid Hunnigan||The uPhone that Leon had neglected but presumably had with him since it had lost signal going into the subway system begins to ring.|
|Leon Kennedy||It's in his pocket, actually, the one in the police-uniform trousers laying on the bed while he changes. Deft hands buckle his belt over his jeans before grabbing for the garment, fumbling with the fabric and pulling out the phone. He knows what to do this time, swiping the little icon to the right with his thumb and orienting the screen so the special agent won't see that he's half-undressed, just his face. "Hello?"|
|Ashley Graham||It's a few minutes after Leon has left some clothes out in the hall for Ashley. Eventually, finally, the bathroom door creaks open just a crack, just enough for the blonde to peek out and see that the hall just before the door is clear. She doesn't check any further than that. Rather, a bloodied, slender pale hand and wrist slip through the crack like a claw to curl around the pile of clothes, which she then drags through the threshold like a beast dragging a kill to its lair. Very quietly the door closes again.|
|Ingrid Hunnigan||"Hello again, Leon." It was a video call once more, Ingrid doing her best to hide a faint smile at the little sight she had gotten; doing her best to remain fully professional, "I'm sorry I couldn't reach you sooner, it's not easy getting a call through to Raccoon City." And Satellite feeds didn't always work in full real-time, but at least she had seen herself that Leon had escaped with what she presumed was another person, "Please tell me the person you brought out of the subway was Ashley Graham? I've already been making arrangements to have you extracted."|
|Leon Kennedy||"Yeah, that's her," Leon confirms, nodding. The bloody emotional wreck he pulled out of the bloody mechanical wreck looks a little different than she did onstage during her daddy's acceptance speech, but it's the same girl. "Her Secret Service detail, they're gone. It's just us, we're at- well, you probably know exactly where we are." Damn government satellites. "She's cleaning up, I got some food here and it's safe for now. When will the evac be ready?" His lips press into a thin line, brow furrowing as the tension draws his face towards a point in the center. It's a lot of pressure to be rescuing the President's daughter within like, a month of becoming a police officer, after all.|
|Ingrid Hunnigan||"I'm glad you're alright, that both of you are alright." Ingrid could be heard typing and she set the phone down, "I'm going to be having a local National Guard unit move in to pick you both up, along with a few others at most. The public evacuation is too risky, so the soldiers will escort you to an extraction point we believe to be safe. It's only a mile or so away, I've got Navy Seals coming in to do the job. The very best."
Ingrid smiled reassuringly as if this was all going to be over soon, "I'll alert the President when you're both safely on the chopper and on the way out of Raccoon City. I'm sure you'll get a medal for this Leon. Was there anything else you needed before I go?"
|Leon Kennedy||"Okay, roger that." The face is young, and his voice holds a little nervousness, but there's no fear there, just concern. Concern that he won't be able to deliver her safely. Stepping over towards the door, Leon leans to peer out back through the kitchen and everything towards the other end of the doublewide to see if Ashley's still in the bathroom. She's not out yet, so she must be.
"...I think we're all set here, unless you can fly in a working shower and dinner for two," he confirms to Ingrid, with a bit of a smirk. Still some good humor there, at least. "Steak, medium, and uh, probably salmon or something like that." Girls. "Otherwise, I'll be looking for your instructions."
|Ingrid Hunnigan||"Not much I can do about all of that, but I promise, I'll get you that steak when you're out of Raccoon City and anything else you want." Ingrid maintained the smile, hopeful they would escape but doubtful of the overall chaos of the situation allowing it, "Take care." She'll hang up after Leon says any final words he might have or just hang up if he doesn't.|
|Leon Kennedy||"Yeah, you too," Leon replies habitually, trying to figure out how to hang the phone up, running his thumb down the side and just adjusting the volume. Something clicks in his head, and he gets a brief faraway look in his eyes, looking down at the screen for a second, but then he swallows it with a little shake of his head, hair swaying slightly with the movement. "I'll keep this on me."|
|Ashley Graham|| Through the whole conversation, Leon heard not a word from the bathroom. There was some running water, for a short time, but considering that it didn't last but a minute or two chances are that said water is no longer running. Through the thin door, he can make out other sounds if he tries. Splashing. Dripping. Other sounds related to a person washing.
And then? Quiet for a few minutes. By now it's getting dark in the space, what little light the world provided fading into night. Shadows inside are long and ominous, and naturally the fading light seems to bring with it a sense of fading hope. Of danger.
Perhaps that's why he eventually might hear sniffling too, and a young woman's tears choked back and kept as quiet as possible.
|Leon Kennedy||After the phone call, Leon had moved into the kitchen to get together a meal. It seems he had some idea that bad things might be coming before all this began, because there's a sizeable stack of canned food in the pantry, MRE packages piled behind them, and a lighter next to the gas range in case the pilot light goes out. At least a dozen canisters of propane are lined up in a corner behind his small dining table as well. Beef ravioli, in a gourmet Chef Boyardee meat sauce, is simmering in a pot when the bathing sounds fade away, and as the shadows lengthen, the resourceful young man pulls out a lantern attachment and screws it to one of those small propane tanks, dialing the knob and starting the bright white light pouring out into the room, turning it down a little lower so that the windows aren't as much of a beacon for any stragglers in this crappy little neighborhood.
That's when he realizes there's sniffling and gasping coming from his bathroom. He's dressed by this point, in jeans and a plain green v-neck t-shirt, probably all from Target or something like that, so he steps over and raps a knuckle on the door. "Ashley?" Holding his ear close, his eyes flit around as he listens for a response. "Are you okay in there?"
|Ashley Graham|| He can almost see her reaction through the door, based on the sounds. It's so typical. A sharp little gasp of surprise that makes her jump in her seat atop the closed toilet. A quick nervous twitching, looking out the window and around the room in the less-than-half-light. A swallow to make all the feels go away for a little while. "Yes?" she says, a very audible tremor in her voice. And then, with a bit more stability, she replies again. "Yes. I'm coming now, Officer," she assures him. There's a shuffle of clothes and feet and then the soft click of the bathroom lock before the door opens.
Leon looks handsome. I mean, he'd look handsome in a burlap sack, so wearing clothes that fit? Purr, on any other given day. Ashley, by contrast, looks just plain silly. Her hair, darker since it's still damp, hangs down in wet tendrils, clinging to her face and neck and dampening the collar of the button-down he's lent her. Her skin is a pure fresh cream, no doubt thanks to the removal of the top layer of skin through vicious scrubbing. Perhaps surprisingly, her eyes aren't red, although it's clear how they glisten they were very recently filled with tears. But beyond that? Absolutely ridiculous.
Because Leon's pants don't come close to fitting her. They pool around her ankles, hiding her feet. The only reason they aren't just sitting on the floor around her ankles is that she's holding them up with one hand, the waist twisted around her fist to keep it tight against her skinny form. So she stands there, big blue eyes looking up at the man, her perfect pearly whites biting into the lower right corner of her mouth in a habitual gesture. "The pants don't fit," she says, as if Leon didn't have eyes. She looks down at them as she references them. "Do we have time for my leggings to dry? I can just put those back on when they're dry. If we don't I'll just go ahead and put them on anyway." Because of course she has no idea when this evac is supposed to happen, and she wants to be ready.
Generally helpless, but not entirely at the mercy of her surroundings, this one. At least, she doesn't seem to want to be.
|Leon Kennedy||She might look silly under different circumstances, but with things how they are, she just looks pitiable, and like someone very much in need of shepherding, the way the clothes dwarf her and the events of the day have muffled any sort of coquette-ish gloss she normally puts over the well-spoken demeanor she carries. "It's okay if you're not okay," Leon points out, turning towards the kitchen.
"I don't know how long it's going to take. If the pants feel stupid, I have shorts or something that might be better." Probably not. "Drape them over the curtain rod for now," the shower curtain, "and if you need to, you can put them on later. I'd rather you not run around in wet clothes." That's a good way to get very cold very fast.
With that, he's leading the way into the kitchen, his plain black socks quiet on the carpet. "It's not much, but it's hot at least." He hands her a bowl and shoves a ladle into the pot.
|Ashley Graham|| "You are," she points out, when he mentions that it would be acceptable for her to react as a human being might in these insane circumstances. "I am as well," she assures him, confidence in her voice that seems mismatched to the girl who stands before him. "We'll have to be, won't we?" She takes a deep, calming breath and pushes the feels down further, to some dark corner, where they can be penned up for some later emotional explosion.
When Leon turns, she follows. Kind of. One hand keeps the waist of the pants bunched, and the other holds up the fabric of the opposite knee so that she's not tripping all over the hems. Even still, she'll have to shuffle a little, and perhaps there's a touch of embarrassment to her as she moves in this way.
It works ... until the shag carpeting comes into play. The fabric of the pants creates friction against the tall polyester flooring, and drags the pant legs down over her feet. In a step or two, she's tripping.
When Leon turns to offer her the bowl, he'll see her almost at his feet, eating shag. And for the first time, Ashley gets mad. "Fuck this, if you'll excuse my French," she grumbles. The blonde rolls onto her rear and yanks the pants down and off. One can assume she's still wearing underwear, but the button-down is long enough to cover that. Now free of her burdens, she's able to pop up to her feet quickly and with grace and an obvious sigh of relief. Free hands now push her damp blonde tendrils out of her face. She looks more calm for having rid herself of that particular burden. Metaphoric, perhaps?
|Leon Kennedy||He /had/ left her a belt to avoid this problem, but it makes sense that if the pants don't fit her waist the belt wouldn't either. Leon's probably a 30" or so, and Ashley is undoubtedly well below that. So just like that, he has the President's daughter strolling around in his living room in her panties. These are strange times, indeed.
The rookie cop, looking less like a cop and more like a man in regular clothes, blinks a few times at this new development, but then he just scoops out some of the ravioli for her, pouring it into the bowl. It's a cheap brown pottery piece with a glazed, robin's egg blue interior that doesn't really go well with the red meat sauce, but Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart probably weren't thinking about that when they stuck that 'Handmade Unique!' sticker on it. "I wish I could speak French," is his answer, grinning a little as he passes the bowl over. "There's water bottles in the fridge. I don't know if it's cold anymore, but... it still holds stuff."
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley at least has the good sense to also be slightly embarrassed by this development. But frustration and emotional trauma are strange bedfellows, and create even stranger offspring. Such as a Presidential daughter in her panties, yes.
If she notices the uniqueness of the bowl, she doesn't say much about it aside from "Thank you." Then she turns, moving easily in her bare-leggedness to the table. "I'm sure you'll pick up a few words of it by the time all of this is behind us," Ashley quips back, and it seems the little joke relaxes her somewhat. Rather than sit, she moves to the recliner and plucks up the blanket, making her way back to her bowl of supper. Water is forgone, for now. Rather she sits and drapes the blanket across her lap, tucking it around the back of the chair as well. Modest once again. She doesn't eat, though, instead choosing to sit her fork beside her bowl at a near-perfect distance and just let her back touch the back of the chair, folding her hands on her lap. She looks at them again, those hands, and seems to relax a bit further. White hands. Not red, anymore.
"I overheard you speaking to someone while I was in the bathroom, Officer," she says again, referring to him still and only by his title. With a swish of semi-dry blonde hair she turns her gaze from her lap to the man. It's the first time she fully seems to appraise the man, eyeing his form, his features, his stance, and other factors used when sizing someone up in the light of a kerosene lamp. "Was it about our extraction? Is there news?"
|Leon Kennedy||Did he ever give her his name? In the heat of the moment, and through the uncanny powers of celebrity (and one call from a special government agent), he knew exactly who she was but didn't bother to tell her who he was. "...My name's Leon, by the way. I can't believe I didn't mention that before now." It's his turn to be a little embarrassed, so he just scoops some ravioli out for himself and comes over to plop himself down on the short couch. "...that was the special agent who contacted me. I'm under the President's order, through her, to rescue you. I'm /going/ to get you out of here." The bowl steams up from his lap, and he's waiting to eat as well. "She didn't say when, but as soon as I know, I'll tell you and we'll head out."|
|Ashley Graham|| "We were a little busy speaking French," Ashley says, by way of explanation for why his name hasn't come up now. "Or at least, I was busy thinking French. You may have told me three times for all I know." At that, she just almost smiles. A ghost of a thing, of what a true smile might look like.
When he's settled, she lifts the fork. It's poised over the bowl, as though she might dive in and take a bite at any moment. But she doesn't just yet. She's watching him, hanging on every word he says. "Did she say anything about my Father?" the girl asks. "If he's alright?" Why the hell wouldn't he be? They're the ones trapped in a nightmare! Yet she asks all the same. And then she pauses. And looks at him again, looking concerned and sad. "Are we going to have to shoot more of those people, before it's over?"
|Leon Kennedy||"I don't remember either way," Leon assures her, not wanting her to feel forgetful or extra-traumatized for not remembering if he did say it. "But if you're that big on French, I'll be talking like a native before we're out of here." A charismatic grin goes across to her as he takes up his fork and spears one of the floppy noodle-and-meat-paste constructs, lifting it up out of the bowl to cool down. These things are either cold or like magma, it's weird.
"She said your dad was ordering the rescue, so yeah, it sounds like he's fine other than worrying about you." Probably. It's okay to read between the lines and fib a little bit for the sake of her sanity. "...and I hope not. I don't like it any more than you do." Even if it seems to bother him less.
|Ashley Graham||When he smiles, it's enough to make her smile too. A broad, pearly-white grin that's no doubt been used to dazzle a few Senators and their sons during her Father's career. Her smile, like the rest of her, is pretty much aces. "Somehow I bet your accent will be flawless, too," she airily muses. At last, perhaps at ease with the assurances that her Father is likely well, she turns her attention to the meal. Using the side of the fork she cuts off a corner.
"May I have a gun?" she asks, calmly and easily but perhaps suddenly. Yet she says it so conversationally, as if she were only asking him to pass the milk. Why shouldn't she have a gun? that casual tone asks. It's no big deal at all!
|Leon Kennedy||By contrast, Leon sticks the entire ravioli in his mouth, chewing on it thoughtfully at her question. "...You know," he starts, swallowing and running his tongue over his teeth for a second, "I'm not sure that's the best idea. Have you ever fired one before?" It's not said in a patronizing tone, he's just looking at her curiously from his spot on the couch. She's a pretty girl, and the President's daughter, and even in backwoods hicktowns a lot of people have never fired a gun.|
|Ashley Graham|| "Oh, yes," Ashley assures him in the same clear, casual tone. She's scooped up the small corner of ravioli and is holding it resting upon the top of her fork. No bite yet, though. "A few times, as part of my security briefing after the election." So some 2-years-to-retirement Secret Service senior manager took her down to the range for two hours is the most likely scenario.
She looks at Leon again and smiles once more, perhaps with an aim to disarm him or dispel his (natural, entirely valid) worries.
And then, at last, she takes a bite. Her brows draw lightly together as she chews, and then with a slight 'clank' of cheap steel fork on cheap potted bowl, she sets her fork down and brings her free hand up to shield her mouth from sight as she chews. "Jesus," she swears again, but there's sudden amusement in her voice. She swallows, and lowers her hand. "This is really good," she admits, with almost girlish pleasure. Because whatever her Chef's name was, growing up, it wasn't Boyardee.
|Leon Kennedy||"Have you...?" It still seems unlikely to him, and the question is more of a quiet mutter of disbelief than an outright skepticism. "I'll think about it," he decides, biting on the tines of his fork thoughtfully, the metallic tang adding just the right amount of 'this is designed for the microwave' to his meal.
When she first says 'Jesus', Leon's face tightens in preparation for the round denouncement of all things Boyardee, but then she pronounces it good, and his face relaxes into a broad grin. "Old family recipe," he confides, flipping one of his over in the bowl and pulling it up towards his face to blow on it for a second, lips pushing into a small 'o', before he pops it into his mouth.
|Ashley Graham|| "A Glock 19," she recites to him, assuredly. See? No problem at all! When he announces that he'll think about it, Ashley nods and looks just a touch pleased, but doesn't press the issue at all. For now.
Instead, she turns her attention back to her food, cutting out another slice of MSG heaven and slides it into her mouth. "No wonder you grew up to be such a big strapping boy, with such cuisine in your home." It's almost flirtatious, those words. Combined with another winning smile she offers, it might be safe to put it in that category. But the smile and the sweet tone start to fade into another look of worry. "Your family aren't in the city, Officer Leon, are they?" So she thinks Leon is his surname, apparently. "If they are, we should absolutely go and get them before the extraction. We'll be able to get them out, too." Like she has the authority to offer that. But offer she does, anyway. "We can go now, tonight if we need to." She seems ready to rise up out of her chair if he indicates that they should. Ready for action!
|Leon Kennedy||"That's a good handgun," is his reply, appropriately noncommittal with a nod of confirmation. It also happens to be just about identical to his service weapon, so that's good to know. Her next offering is easily confused as flirtation, but she couldn't be moving onto that so soon, right? Not with some no-name rookie cop, right? But Leon is good-looking too, and he's used to being flirted with, even if this is the President's daughter and she's sitting there in her panties and was covered in blood thicker than a YouTube makeup tutorial half an hour ago, so he just rolls with it and flirts back. "Only the finest," he confirms, grinning and nodding again. He has nice teeth, a nice smile, and friendly eyes that shift between protective and roguish charm at any given moment. It's already been a few days since he had time to shave, and the stubble on his chin gives him a more rugged aspect than he deserves at his age, blessed with even facial hair. "It's just Leon," he points out gently, with a little tease in his tone, "not Officer. That'd be Kennedy, anyway."
The question about his family sobers him a little, and he glances down at his bowl. "My mom's not in the city, no. You're the only person I have to worry about right now."
|Ashley Graham|| "Officer Kennedy," she says with an apologetic nod, but the expressive right side of her mouth does lift in a slight playful smirk at the error. "You can grow up to do great things in this country with a name like that," she teases a little. Perhaps the levity is misplaced or odd, given the circumstances. Perhaps it's just a coping mechanism. She doesn't dip her toe in the flirting pool again, though. Because flirting and talking about parents doesn't usually mix.
"It's a small mercy, that she's not here," Ashley says, and from her tone she sounds both relieved and honest about those words. No matter how she's behaved so far today -- crying in the bathroom, shaking in the car, flirting over dinner -- everything she seems to say and do has an air of forthrightness about it. Her relief over his mother seems to be no exception.
"We're both very lucky in that regard," she points out, taking a moment to swallow nothing but a rogue feel that tries to claw it's way out. She chases it with another bite of supper.
"You'd said something about a blogger too, in the car. A woman. I remember that." She was kind of a hot mess in the car, so remembering that is it's own small victory.
|Leon Kennedy||There's a small chuckle at his comment on his name. "Please, call me Leon." Hopefully that will get her to stop calling him 'officer'. There's not really an RPD left for him to be an officer /of/ at this point. "I just moved here," he explains as to why his mother isn't anywhere nearby. "Heard about a string of strange murders in the area and thought I might be able to break onto the scene by cracking a big case like that." That plan didn't go so hot, and his face droops into a slight frown at the memory. "I wonder if they're not related to all this. The blogger, Claire, she's been snooping around everything that's been going on here for months now and putting it on her website-thing," he explains, taking a break from talking to munch on some ravioli. "...she tried to warn me, too, and that's why I was ready. Kind of."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley's interest in her own ravioli fades over the discussion. Maybe talking about it bring too close to mind the meatsacks that are human beings. Teeming with meat. Blurg.
Besides, this conversation is interesting. So she just nods at Leon, looking thoughtful at his words. "I don't know anything about any murders," she admits to Leon. She turns and looks to the fridge, remembering the water. At first, she starts to rise, but the blanket slips and she seems to pause for a moment. It takes her that long to get her courage up, and up it finally is. She sets the blanket aside and rises, her bare feet whispering against the shag carpeting as she moves to the kitchen area and the fridge. As she moves, her hands tug slyly yet gently on the side of the button town, to make sure her rear is fully covered. "I know about the Arklay mountains facility," she explains, opening the fridge and crouching down rather than bending. Her eyes squint in the dark cavern that is an unlit fridge until she finds what she's looking for. Then she rises, a water bottle in each hand, and nudges the door shut with her foot before making her way back toward Leon to offer one of the bottles over. "The SOCOM raid and the dogs that spread Umbrella's unregulated germ warfare research to the city." She looks forlorn, sad at the thought of it. "Absolutely ridiculous," the woman sighs, just standing there for a moment. "To think of everything that's happened because they didn't want to operate under regulatory authority."
|Leon Kennedy||Leon's just about finished his, left with the meat sauce. The meat sauce is the only place where the meat resembles actual meat. He only spares a few moments to peek over at Ashley in his shirt, not wanting to be a creep or anything, so he keeps his attention down on the bowl, using his fork to sift out the little crumbles of beef hidden in the soupy red sauce.
"I don't know anything about unregulated germ warfare research," he replies, reaching up to take the bottle and watching her face as he twists it open. "There were just bodies popping up in weird settings and with strange wounds around here, mostly in the Arklay mountains." So there's some overlap. "The dogs started after that."
|Ashley Graham|| She remains there, meeting his gaze and cocking her head slightly to the side. "What kind of wounds?" she asks, before seeming to remember that hay no pants. She turns and returns to her seat, sliding down and folding the blanket over her lap again. Now, if anything, she's as modest as a church girl. She opens her own bottle and takes a sip. Then another, deeper. Hanging upside down all day makes one thirsty, even if she didn't realize it until she had a drink.
"From what I was told," she explains softly, "The Umbrella Research facility in the mountains was conducting some sort of biological research that they did not want any regulatory oversight agency to know about. Likely because they would have shut them down, given the way things have turned out. That's why SOCOM was sent in, although that raises a few jurisdictional questions in and of itself." That she doesn't go into right now. Instead she sips the water again, and then looks longingly at the recliner. Soon she's up again, with the blanket and the water, making her way to said recliner and curling her legs up on it before draping the blanket over it again. She lays her head back on it and closes her eyes. "I'm sorry to be a bother, but would you have any aspirin or ibepreufin?" she asks. "I thought my head finally stopped hurting earlier, but it's back again with a vengeance." Head trauma that knocks you out for a few hours will likely do that.
|Leon Kennedy||"Like, abnormally brutal cuts and stuff," Leon explains of the wounds, from his seat that may have not been the couch after all, it was close to her wherever it was ANYWAY. When she starts rambling about the SOCOM raid, he just sort of nods along, because he hadn't heard anything about it from the station but there was that video Claire showed him of some sort of paramilitary group mowing down dogs in the woods. Maybe that was it. When she moves and asks for some over-the-counter medication, he gets up and heads over to one of the cupboards, popping it open. "We got Advil, Tylenol, and Aleeve, take your pick."|
|Ashley Graham||Ashley listens, opening her eyes and rolling her head to the side to watch the man move. She shakes her head. "I don't know anything about that," she admits, a touch apologetically. And then she smiles, a suddenly sleep but good-natured smile. "Whichever should be fine," she says. "I doubt there's really any difference between them anyway. Thank you." She'll sit up again in preparation for pill popping.
She watches him from there again, as if once more sizing him up. He may or may not notice that curious gaze of hers, as by now it's pitch black all around them save for that fluttering white lamplight that he fired up earlier. For Ashley, it makes her look more pale. Almost ethereal. "Do you think we'll be staying the night here, then? Before we go looking for your blogger?" she asks him.
|Leon Kennedy||"Advil it is," Leon decides for her, one finger falling on the top of the bottle and crooking, pulling the small plastic vessel forward until it drops into his waiting palm. Broad shoulders face her way until he closes the cabinet again and turns, popping the lid off with his thumb to count two pills into his hand and hold them out for her as he makes his way back towards the couch, with the recliner between him and there. "I'm not sure. Probably. And this evacuation might happen before we have a chance to find her. It's probably not smart to go out there in the dark. It's bad enough when you can see them coming, and I think we're safe here for now." Of course, this is balanced with the risk of staying too long, but again, this seems like their best option for the time being. "If you're tired, you can use my bed and I'll take the couch."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley holds out her hand to receive the pills. She'll take them between her index and middle fingers, then set them between her teeth before taking another quick swig of water. With that, she sighs and settles back in the recliner, seemingly prepared to relax.
Until he offers her his bed, and suggests he take the couch. That causes her to stiffen, and there's a brief flash of fear across her barely lit face. She turns her face in his direction, but doesn't lift her eyes to look at him. "If," she begins after a moment, using her tongue to quickly wet her lips. "If it's not too much trouble, I'd rather stay with you," she explains. "For the night. I'll sleep wherever, on the floor in your room or wherever you think best suites. I've been camping, I can rough it," she adds for a touch of levity. Only then does she lift her eyes to look at him directly, her smile a touch apologetic to hide the nervousness and damn near fear in her eyes. "The thought of being in a room by myself seems particularly terrifying, tonight." She says it like it's a confession.
|Leon Kennedy||There's a small flash in Leon's eyes as she starts to reject the offer while he prepares to fight it out, too stubborn to let her talk him out of giving up the bed, but then when her reasoning is present, he relaxes back into the couch a little. "...that's understandable," he agrees, only slightly reluctantly, scratching at his chin vaguely. "Why don't you take my bed, and /I'll/ take the floor. I've got a sleeping bag and blankets and an extra pillow, I'll be comfortable there and I can keep an eye on the door. You're not alone, and I don't feel like a heel. It's win-win."|
|Ashley Graham|| Apparently this isn't a hill Ashley intends to fight for, and cedes the argument over a bed to his gentleman's tendencies. "Thank you," she says, agreeing to his terms. For now. "I appreciate your willingness to be flexible." She takes a breath, as if to say more, but then she turns her eyes away in a look of sudden sadness and shame, and decides against whatever words were perched near her lips.
"And tomorrow?" she asks, looking back to Leon and to the here and now. It seems she's done eating, sighing further into the recliner as the exhaustion of the horrible day starts to tug at her. "Tomorrow we'll leave and go find the blogger Claire?"
|Leon Kennedy||If she stays in that recliner too much longer, she might not get up. Leon does the opposite, pushing himself back up off the couch to collect dishes and take them over to the sink, talking to her while he moves around in the space. "Don't mention it. Tomorrow, we'll either go find Claire or head straight for the evac point, depending on when Special Agent Fancypants Hunnigan calls me back and tells us where to go."
Without thinking, he turns the faucet on, which dumps out a few ga-lunks of whatever before it comes thudding to a halt. "...right." A few drips of soap, a splash of water, a little swish, and he leaves them to soak.
"Everything is gonna be fine," he assures her, with an easy smile as he turns back to face her again, drying his hands off on a tea towel and leaning against the formica counter. "We're gonna get out of here. I promise."
|Ashley Graham|| It's very true. Leon might end up on the couch if she eventually dozes on the recliner. Poor Leon. For now though, drowsy as she is, the conversation keeps her going. And she smiles at him again. A drowsy, yet still #winning smile. "You're so domestic," she teases him gently, good-naturedly. "I couldn't cook or clean my way out of a paper bag." Then again, she's likely never had to.
At last, though, she sits up with a few long blinks and a dainty yawn, which she covers with her hand. "Either way, we won't be coming back here, will we?" she asks, rhetorically. "We should pack some supplies at least, if that's the case. It may not be that we can make it back here, tomorrow night." That particular thought is sobering. "Do you have a backpack or anything?" she asks, setting the blanket aside so she can rise again with another little yawn. Once again she tugs down the shirt, to make sure she's covered. Better to be naked than to be a total burden. "Packing, at least, I can do," she offers.
|Leon Kennedy||"Yeah, well, no one else is gonna wash them for me." It's not meant to be mean, and there's nothing but needling good humor in his voice.
"That's another reason we're waiting till the morning," Leon replies, nodding. "We'll load the Crown Vic up once the sun's out, I still have some gas so we should be set for the drive to wherever it is they want us to go." A helicopter /right here/ is too much to ask for for some reason, but there's the media to consider if it's discovered the President's daughter was either here in the first place or the lone rescued individual, too. "You can help me with it then." If she's not still asleep when he gets started."
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley seems to have taken no offense whatsoever to his gentle prodding. She just smiles again to him and nods. "Tomorrow morning, then," she promises him.
That just leaves her standing in her underwear in a strange man's shag carpeting. A situation that should be rectified. So she glances down the hall toward the bedroom and back to the man. "I'll go lie down then, if it's alright. I'm so exhausted all the sudden." Helped greatly by the recession of her fight or flight response, no doubt.
She looks down the hall, pensive, as though she might say something more. But she doesn't now, just sighs softly and looks back to him. Waiting for permission, as it were. She can follow orders, it seems. That's likely helpful too, or it will be.
|Leon Kennedy||"Go ahead, make yourself at home." Leon is already getting busy with a scrub brush, because ol' Chef Boyardee's real meat and MSG creations taste delicious but damn do they dry to an impenetrable plastic-like coating. "Spare toothbrush in the bottom drawer on the right in the bathroom," he calls, his hair slipping into his face a little while he's dealing with dishes. Everything gets rinsed with a sparing amount of bottled water, including his hands, and he moves to check the front door, peering out the windows, prowling around like a caged animal to check out the back as well and giving her a few minutes to settle in.|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley hadn't even considered a toothbrush, but it's an extremely welcome luxary. She does step into the bathroom, and the occasional brushing and spitting can be overheard. She stays in there longer, though, and it only becomes clear as to why when she steps out from the bathroom with her hair in a tight, french braid for sleeping.
Well, clear might be an overstatement. With only the kerosene lamp in the main room, it gets darker as Ashley moves deeper into the double-wide. Eventually she navigates with her hands, the sounds on her fingers sliding across the drywall likely eerie in the blackness. She manages it, though, if the creak of the bed and the scuffle of sheets is any indication.
And then? It's quiet. Damn near perfectly so. For awhile. Then, if Leon truly listens, he'll hear it again. The sniffles. The choked cries. They're muffled: she's at least making an attempt to be silent by crying into his pillow. Poor Leon, and his now-likely-spittle-and-tear covered pillow.
|Leon Kennedy||The glaring oversight to this plan is that all of Leon's clothes are in the bedroom where she now is, so unless /he's/ dropping trow too, it looks like jeans and tee pajamas for him. Deciding not to miss this opportunity to brush his teeth for what could be the last time, he ducks into the bathroom himself, squeezing some of the Equate spearmint paste out and dumping a little from his waterbottle onto the end of the brush. The rhythmic scrubbing might be calming, or it might have no effect. At any rate, he emerges after rinsing to turn out the propane lantern, lighting an emergency candle first and coming back into the bedroom with that and a box of tea candles.
"You okay?" He asks again, even though it's obvious she's crying. He glances over his shoulder at her while he sets out a trio on top of his dresser, dipping the larger candle down to light each of the smaller ones and provide some warm, comforting, but not too bright light.
|Ashley Graham|| Leon will see her when he enters the room. She's on the right side of the bed, rolled on her side and facing the expanse of mattress -- which allows her not to be facing the door at all. She's curled up in an almost fetal position, and when he first enters all he'll be able to actually see of her is her hair.
It's dried now, that hair of hers. But it's not the perfect platinum blonde that it was during the inauguration, when she last appeared on major news networks. She had it braided when the accident happened, so blood isn't soaked all the way through all the parts. Rather, it's streaked, as though she got some dull coppery highlights. It almost gives her a strawberry blonde look. Might even look good, if one could overlook the fact that it's blood that's stained her, not dye.
That head nods gently at his question, though the blankets, already tight around her, get pulled in even closer in a cocoonish snuggle. She wets her lips, he can hear that. And then he hears her voice. "Yes. Sorry." She speaks very quietly, as though there's someone in here she might wake. Maybe the dead?
|Leon Kennedy||A quiet sigh escapes the man as he surveys the room, the pinked braid sticking out over the covers at him, the tight curl of her body beneath them, the soft tears and the sound of her wetting her lips, her quiet voice reaching him in the dim light. "I'm sorry you had to go through this," he offers to her, lowering his own voice to a gentle baritone. "It's almost over." Quiet feet take a few steps over to the bed, and he lowers his body to sit on the edge. There's a momentary mental debate as his hand lifts a little as if to reach out, but it's held in check by the invisible bonds of celebrity, prestige, and fame. You can't just touch people as famous as her, not unless you're doing it to save their lives.
But then all of a sudden, as if breaking through an unseen wall, his hand presses forward and comes to rest on the crown of her head. "It's okay to cry."
|Ashley Graham|| No worries, Leon. She's got this. She's holding it together. Even when he perches nearby her, and she stiffens, she's still got this. She's okay. She's powering through.
And then he has to go and touch her. It's a simple touch, that hand on her head. But it's comforting, and safe, and warm even through her pale hair.
And then she starts to cry again in earnest. Awkward.
But she doesn't leave him totally hanging there, just listening to her cry. "It's not me, or what I've been through," she finally breathes out, after she's caught a few breaths. "I was in the hospital, I saw how they were there. I remember hitting people on the sidewalk, when the car lost control. Those agents in the car," her voice cracks again. "I was with them like this, last night. With their muttered promises of safety. They didn't even like me, but they're still dead because of me." So lots of survivor's guilt already in this one. "I'm sorry," she apologizes again, sniffling to try and regain control. "I just think of what people have lost in all this, and think about how that must feel, and I can't breathe because of it." Empathetic with survivor's guilt. Shitty combination.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon pats her head a few times, and then he's getting up off the bed again to make himself a nest on the floor where he can keep an eye on the door. "It's not your fault. The only people to blame are whoever made this thing." The MONSTERS. Dehumanization and fixating on thoughts like that make coping with the stress and any moral ramifications way easier, and it's a natural reaction in situations like this. "Bad things happen to people all the time everywhere, we just don't know it's happening. Don't think about that right now. There will be time for that when you're somewhere you can help them. Right now you gotta help yourself." A foot kicks out a sleeping bag and he steals the non-cried-and-snotted-on pillow from the other side of the bed to throw on the floor. "Try to get some sleep. You're gonna need it tomorrow."|
|Ashley Graham|| There's another sniffle, and then the head in the bed nods softly at the man's words. "I know," she says, almost promising him that she does, in fact, understand. It's just hard to get emotions and intellect to meet on the issue, just now. But at least she seems to have stopped crying, for now. In fact, she's gone still. "I know," she breathes again, almost like a sigh. Then it truly is quiet.
Before Leon manages to fully bed down, she's asleep. Her body was really aching for it, so once she was able to calm herself enough, her natural needs took over. She's a quiet sleeper, and curled under the blankets as she is it's almost impossible to see the slight rise and fall that indicates she's breathing. But she's out, for now. That's something at least.