|Ashley Graham|| So that extraction didn't go well. That might be a significant understatement, but it is at least a statement of fact. In the parking lot strip mall, there's chaos of a burning Blackhawk, dying SEALS, dead National Guardsmen, and the shuffling groan of the walking sick. Er, walking dead, in this case, though Ashley's not really convinced on that point. Not yet.
Speaking of Ashley, we last left our Damsel in Distress fleeing the scene toward the strip mall. It's a pretty nondescript kind of strip mall. Chinese takeout, Karate, post office, 7-11. That type of thing. Rather than go into any of the buildings though, Ashley ducks round the back.
She's not panicked. She's not terrified or out of her mind. In fact, given everything that just happened, she's surprisingly with it. Fleeing just seemed the best option for everyone. Men were, after all, literally falling on bullets to keep her alive. Staying in the area only put more people in danger, right? This seems a far better solution.
That's Ashley's thinking. Leon's thinking is likely going to be a smidge different.
|Leon Kennedy||How Ashley could watch a 'walking sick' emerge from the darkness, towering taller than any man had any right to do, with a minigun in one hand and a rocket launcher in the other, and regrow its own eye after having a bullet shot into its skull, and still not realize that these things are not /people/ anymore, is anyone's guess. That's a conversation that will be forthcoming, most likely, so watch this space.
When the rocket launcher went off and blew up the helicopter, Leon Kennedy had known instinctively that any vain hope they'd had of getting Ashley out was gone. Not that way, at least. He had taken off towards her, sprinting after the SEALs, but the blast from the explosion knocked him flat, and he hit his head pretty hard. It had taken him a minute to get back up after that, and when he did, she was gone, and all else was panic and hysteria around him as the military men were alternately shot and blown to pieces. Fixated on the mental image of that blonde head of hair and the President's orders (or Ingrid's, since apparently what we don't know is that the President doesn't know about this either), he'd dragged himself back to his feet and ran towards the strip mall, the natural place for a woman to seek refuge in time of crisis. He's not sure where she's gone, so he's just running, frantically turning his eyes back and forth, looking for a spot of that platinum braid.
|Ashley Graham|| Damn, Leon is just good. Because he doesn't spy her near or around the strip mall. He spies her in the strip mall.
As one of the vehicles still in control of the good guys (or the human guys) swings around to try and provide cover for those still falling back, the light of the headlamps casts a quick wave of illumination over the mall. It's brief, just a crash of a wave of light and then it's gone again. But in that brief crash, he caught movement through the big glass doors of the post office. Movement and a flash of white blonde streaked with red. She's in there.
But how the devil did she GET in there? The door seems sealed and the windows are still intact, likely helped by the metal grating that was pulled down over everything when last this place closed. But somehow, the little brat wriggled her way in.
Worst still, she doesn't appear to be alone in there. For in the brief flash, as Ashley was ducking down behind the counter as if to avoid being seen, a shadow far in the room behind her was lit. Whoever closed the office last never actually left. And now he's shuffling around back there.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon /is/ just good. He's been on fire the last 24 hours with his dice rolls. He's like a young, beautiful Jack Bauer with better hair and less of a penchant for shouting "DAMN IT".
Then there's Ashley, stuck in the post office with a biter. A damn biter is in there. "Damn it," Leon mutters, charging up to the front door and trying to pull it open. Shocker, it's locked. Plus there's that cage behind it, so just shooting the glass out is not the best idea. "Ashley!" He pounds his fist into the glass, casting about for another way in. How did she get in there?!
|Ashley Graham|| Blessed Mary and All the Saints (not that Ashley's Catholic because whoah THAT would have been a point of discussion during the election) but bless them anyway, because she hears him. That blonde head pops up from behind the counter when she hears Leon's gruffly voice calling to her, and she sees him banging on the glass. Poor thing, she doesn't know any better that she's in danger, because her face relaxes, and she even smiles in a broad show of pearly whites that displays her sudden relief. Leon's here. He's still alive. It's going to be okay.
So she'll go to him. Naturally, she knows how she got in there. So she spins to go out that way ... and finds herself face-to-face with MIKE, the closing shift postal worker. There's a joke about going postal in here, I just know it. But for now Mike's gone dead, fully zombified, with ashen skin and sunken in eyes. There's a split second when Ashley's fight or flight returns in force. This time? This time she fights.
Fat lot of good it does her, though. The blonde reaches down next to her for the first thing she can find -- a bin, the kind used for sorting mail and packages. With a feminine grunt she swings it around, releasing the light-but-bulky carton at poor Mike. It sails over his right shoulder.
|Leon Kennedy||"Ashley!" Leon slams his fist into the door again, able to see ol' Mike bearing down on his ward, and in a moment of inspiration he does what any rational person would do. He starts shooting.
The first shot crashes through the glass at close to the speed of sound, sending spiderwebs rocketing through the laminate. He kicks it, and most of the glass collapses onto the floor. Then he shoves the barrel of his gun in through the cage to fire at Mike, this time hitting him up towards the shoulder of his right arm and pushing the postal worker with the impact, or at least blowing a chunk out of him. "Damn it! Ashley, run!"
|Ashley Graham|| The sound of shooting and breaking glass blends in with the sounds of chaos behind them, but for Ashley it's very LOUD and very SUDDEN. The shattering, the boom of the gun ... it's not quite what she was expecting. So she clamps her hands over her ears and flinches, as if she could shrink into a small ball and make herself safe in a turtle shell. Alas, she has no shell but flesh.
Leon's voice, however, manages to cut through the dull ringing of tinnitus and the thumping of her heart in her ears. Ashley falls to the ground immediately and starts crawling, trying to get underneath the gap in the counter.
Granted, that only takes her toward Leon. But maybe, just maybe, if they can lure the beast toward him enough where he can get a clear shot, she can get away. And they can skip off into the sunset and find a 24 hour diner and eat their feelings away.
That doesn't seem to be the way of things today, though. For while MIKE takes a hit in the arm, and it causes him to spin his right shoulder back and his left one forward in an uncomfortable jerk, MIKE just keeps on keeping on. And his eyes are on the beautiful, tasty treat sprawled on the floor before him.
MIKE flops himself toward the ground, landing with a hard thunk that should jar most people. But then, most people would have the sense not to do that. MIKE is a beast now, and a beast looking for a meal. And there's Ashley, and those stylish boots of hers. One of which he grabs and starts to drag her back with.
Ashley, feeling the grab, rolls onto her back to see what's going on and she gets a face full of MIKE, jaw nearly unhinged as he smacks his jaws at her. The girl wimpers, truly in terror now. She kicks with her other foot, but what blows do land glance off with no effect whatsoever. What's left for her to do now?
Trump white girl card: Scream. "LEON!" It's a scream of pure panic and anguish, that scream. Damn near heartbreaking.
|Leon Kennedy||This seems like a good time to panic, right? When you get nervous sweats and freak out and can't see quite straight? Not if your name is Leon Kennedy. He's a rookie cop, but he was born for this.
The young officer jams his hand and the gun through the cage, shoving his off hand through a different gap, and taking a firm hold on the weapon, sighting in as best he can while hugging metal bars. His finger squeezes once, twice, with twin cracks of thunder. The first is another body shot, which does next to nothing towards stopping MIKE, but the second is a direct hit to the skull, painting the wall and floor behind the zomb with brain and neural fluid. "Are you alright?!"
|Ashley Graham||The first shot is indeed a body shot, and MIKE doesn't seem to feel it at all. It does, however, cause a bit of blood to splatter onto Ashley's, that is to say Leon's, button down. There's no way she's getting out of this whole experience clean, is there? But it's just a few drops, a single smear this time. Not a literal and actual blood bath, like last time.
Ashley doens't even notice, just now. She's still kicking at the man, trying to make him stop, trying to make him go away. But then there's another loud boom and Mike's face suddenly disappears, leaving a giant crater where his vacant, lifeless expression used to be. That splatter gets her too, in her face and her hair and her shirt. Again, not a bloodbath. But not clean, either.
Ashley is left for a moment, just staring at what once was MIKE, what was once the threat to her life. It's gone now. He's gone. And for a moment she doesn't seem to know what to do. Leon's voice is somewhere behind her, far off. What's he saying? Is she alright? Well, is she? She doens't know. So she just lies back on the cold tile for a moment, limp. One second. Then two. Doing a systems check. At last, staring at the ceiling she nods, and wets her lips. "I'm alright," she breathes, closing her eyes for a moment. And then she starts to laugh. Because shock. "I'm alright," she repeats again through her chuckles.
|Leon Kennedy||Extricating himself from the grill meant to keep people out if the glass gets broken, which, you know, is exactly the scenario here, Leon shoves his gun back in its holster. The wooden grip gives it a nice feel that he hasn't really had time to appreciate properly, but so far it's been a faithful companion. "Good," he breathes, when she finally decides she's alright, the lines on his face relaxing and fading. He's a young man, but the stress of events and the way he's been gadding about shooting things makes him seem older.
With the immediate threat dealt with, at least until something gets drawn over by the sound of gunfire, he starts looking for a way to open the cage while asking "How did you get in there?"
|Ashley Graham|| "Back door," Ashley says, almost airily as she chuckles. At last, she moves to rise, bringing herself slowly to her feet as she looks around. In shock, perhaps, but not entirely stupid. There might be a mate of his around. Yet there doesn't seem to be, so she looks back to poor MIKE at her feet. And she squints. And then she crouches. Something's on the floor, something small. She plucks it up and looks it over, and shakes her head. Whatever expression she has on her face is impossible to see, as she has her back to Leon. "This is your problem," she tells the corpse, pocketing the item and rising again.
"I'm coming out now," she tells Leon, and she begins to move back into the dark depths of the post office toward the back door where she got in in the first place.
|Leon Kennedy||What'd she pick up from the floor? Leon can't quite tell, but it was something. "Okay, I'll wait for you here," he calls after her as she starts to move around the back. Fun times at the post office. He glances around to see if any more zombies are approaching, but so far they're okay.|
|Ashley Graham|| It's not long before Ashley reappears, coming from around the strip mall to stand at Leon's side. A bit close. Or a lot close really. The laughing phase of her new shock has faded, now replaced with what appears to be clingy fear. She doesn't say much when she first approaches him, but rather just looks past him at the carnage and the Blackhawk down. Shuffling undead can be heard in the distance, moaning for whatever tasty treats they can find in this new mess in the parking lot. "What do we do now?" she asks, him, in a bland and rather hopeless tone. It must seem fairly impossible that there will be any rescue, now. Seeing what's just happened. "We lost all the supplies we had," she says again, since the humvees and survivors seem to be gone now. "Do we go back to your place?" She looks up at him.
Poor Leon. How hard it must be on him. She's rich, famous, beautiful, young ... and now entirely dependent on you. Her eyes are big and wide and sad, but so very trusting too. She'll argue with that Major, apparently. But she won't argue with Leon. He has her complete and utter confidence.
Man that's gotta suck.
|Leon Kennedy||"Well, we didn't lose /all/ the supplies," he points out, to the woman almost stuck to his body. "The cars are still at my place," since they took the Humvees and left the squad car and his majestic '92 Honda behind. Leon's grey-green eyes flit down towards hers, she of the recent chuckling gore-fest in there. "...are you sure you're alright?"|
|Ashley Graham||She nods as she listens, and when he meets her gaze she nods a little more visibly. "I have to be, don't I?" she asks, rhetorically. She puts a hand on his arm so she can lean up against him, his presence apparently the soothing balm for all those feels she's trying to lock away again. So much therapy, when this is over. All the therapy.
"So we're going back to the apartment?" she asks, this time a true question. He'll feel her move as she turns away from him to look around them, to see if there's any incoming danger. "We should get going, either way. It's getting dark." She looks up at him, curiously, to see what it is he wants to do.
|Leon Kennedy||"We don't have much of a choice," Leon mutters as she presses the issue. "Raccoon City is a big place, and I don't know what kind of security they're using to keep this thing contained. Could we just drive out...? I don't know." There's a lot of question marks. A few days ago, probably it would have been as simple as getting in a car and leaving. Now, it doesn't seem quite as clearcut.
The young officer starts walking, at any rate, away from the strip mall and way from the wreckage and away from all the bodies, presumably closely followed by the President's daughter. It must be nice to have your whole life defined by your relationship to somebody else. "...actually, I think I heard something on the AM channels about a National Guard evac at the church or something," he mentions off-hand. "I'd call Ingrid but the phone she's calling me on isn't working here."
|Ashley Graham|| Nice ... or awful. While it makes Ashley important, it also strips away her sense of self and individuality. What's she like? Doesn't matter, she's the President's daughter.
"Alright," she says, no longer quite as clingy as he starts to walk. She just needed a moment, it seems, to find her center again.
And at that? She's quiet, thoughtful. Pensive. Though perhaps just now there's nothing more to say than that. Well, not nothing. There is one more thing.
"Thank you, Leon," she says, apparently finally coming to terms with his given name.
|Leon Kennedy||"What for?" Leon asks, glancing down at her. He's just doing his job, for one thing, but for another there was no way he was going to let her be eaten by MIKE the postal employee any day of the week. There's a shortage of perfect human females in the area and it'd be a pity to throw this one away, especially when she's pretty and the President is counting on him to save her. It's practically a matter of national security.
"Maybe we should check at the church-thing first, see what's what over there. They might still be able to get you out." Or they could be walking into fire. It's hard to know.
|Ashley Graham||Ashley's brows furrow slightly in surprise. "For everything," she says, honestly and earnestly, if quietly. "Everything in general, and for that in particular," she says, gesturing back to the strip mall with her head. It seems obvious to Ashley why she is thanking him. "And for not ditching me," she says, trying to bring a touch of levity to her voice, even as they leave a massacre in their wake. "I'm starting to think I'm bad luck," the girl admits grimly, looking back to Leon again. "Let's go to the church, then."|
|Leon Kennedy||"Oh." Leon genuinely sounds like he didn't realize he needed to be thanked for all that. His pace is quick but far from a deathmarch, and his eyes are always roving for more trouble. You can never be too careful, is what they've learned the last 24 hours. "...you're welcome," he allows, not wanting to offend her gratitude, but he's a little busy thinking about other things. "It should be this way."|