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West Within

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Author: Elizabeth Wilde
Title: West Within
Distribution: Anyone who has my fic, anyone who wants it and asks, [my site]
Disclaimer: I do not own Resident Evil: Code Veronica. I haven't even played it.
Don't sue! I also don't own the songs used here. The title comes from a Ben
Folds Five song called "Best Imitation of Myself", so, obviously, it isn't mine.
'Ship: Wesker/Chris, Steve/Claire
Classification: general [angst, romance, drama, etc.]
Summary: Things get a bit complicated when Claire is kidnapped by Wesker's
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Yes, that's *all*
Feedback: to
Notes: I have never played the games. I have watched while my dear friend Feral
played them. So... I'm not an expert. I just hated watching Steve die because I
grew terribly attached to him, and I thought Wesker was a complete hottie. I
have made Claire cooler and thereby more deserving of Steve's love for the
purposes of this story... though that doesn't guarantee a happy fuzzy ending, so
don't get your hopes up.

Things aren't the way they were before
You wouldn't even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me in the end
I kept everything inside
And even though I tried
It all fell apart
~ Linkin Park "In the End"

First came the pain. Or, rather, Steve expected pain. It took several minutes
for him to realize there was in reality no pain. It was a memory, phantom spasms
that wracked his limbs just as the strange sensation that a hand was resting on
his cheek amounted only to--no! It was real. The young man's eyes snapped open
quickly. "Claire?" he gasped before the orbs managed to focus on reality and
make out the shape hovering above him. A man. Tall. Built. Wearing shades. "Wh-
who're you?" Steve demanded, finding within himself somewhere the strength to
sit up.

"Albert Wesker." The man tilted his head as if examining the boy. Even through
the glasses, the gaze seemed cold. "You're Steve Burnside. Now that the
introductions are finished, how are you feeling?"

The question obviously did not stem from a desire to assess Steve's comfort or
happiness. Rather, it seemed the easiest way to discover his status as one might
ask for a report on a skyscraper being built. "I... uh... fine," Steve muttered,
looking down. He was wearing nothing but a paper hospital gown, and on the pale,
exposed skin he saw patches of scaly green. //Guess that means it wasn't a bad
dream then,// he thought with a shudder.

"I suppose we could have it removed," Wesker said, "but it would be a waste of
funds. A few scales never hurt anyone."

In another situation, said by another person, the words might have carried comic
affect. From Wesker, they seemed a bleak final judgment, and Steve found himself
gazing down at the patches of mottled skin with the same indifference the other
man might. It struck him as odd that he honestly didn't care much about the
state of his skin. He felt strangely indifferent to it, to the fact that he
still wore only the hospital gown. Looking up once more, he fixed Wesker with a
cold stare. "Where am I? Why am I alive?"

"Not particularly important. You are alive and you're alive because of me.
That's all you really need to know, kid," the man replied, muscular arms crossed
over his chest as a bizarre half-smile twisted his lips. "We'll get you clothes,
a room, then you can sleep. You look like shit."

Steve considered protesting, but he found no objection to the words. He needed
clothes, needed a place to stay, and he was tired. //Dead tired,// he thought,
not particularly amused by the internal humor. As they walked, Steve took note
of the layout and their route. The action was borne of nearly inbred habit, but
he also had a feeling no one would be stopping by to lead him to the bathroom if
he didn't find it on his own. They passed a couple of men, black clad like
Wesker, who paid them no more mind than they might a speck of dirt beneath their
boots. Antiseptically barren metallic walls surrounding them, the ceilings and
floors matching so well that the base, flipped over, would have been identical.

"This is yours." The hallway was set a good quarter mile from the lab-like room
where Steve first awoke and given the proliferation of similar doors, he assumed
it was the equivalent of crew quarters.

Steve shrugged. "Okay."

"There's a shower inside. I suggest you use it. You were dead for a couple of
days, after all," Wesker observed with another of his unsettling smiles before
turning on his heel and walking back down the hall, calling over his shoulder,
"Be up and dressed by 0500 tomorrow. We have work to do."

I got a chrome-plated heart
I got wings on these fingers trying to tear it apart
I got angels crying from up above
And they got rust in their eyes
They got rust on their love
~ Melissa Etheridge "Chrome Plated Heart"

"You think the boy will be useful, then." Pulled back in a harsh ponytail, the
man's white hair spoke of more than his thirty-eight years on Earth. As far as
anyone knew, he had never sported a more youthful color. In truth, anything
darker might have softened his harsh, ice blue eyes, and any sign of weakness in
such a person was more than most of the officers could contemplate. Or wanted

Albert nodded, respectful but obviously not intimated by the man. "I do, sir.
Aside from the sample of the T-Veronica virus we extracted from him, young Mr.
Burnside has allowed me to prove that Substance X is effective even after the
subject has been dead--though he was dead less than twenty-four hours before

"Anything further might have rendered the body useless. Certainly, we can
explore that in future testing," the man said dismissively. Obviously the
success of the experiment satisfied him regardless of any questions left
unanswered. More tests would have been ordered anyway. This merely meant they
would be worth the money. "You always had my complete confidence, General."

The blond man inclined his head slightly, smiling. Few people engendered such
trust from the mysterious, often-elusive Gavin Stipe. Even with such a
distinction, Wesker knew only the man's name, the power he held, and that he was
fabulously wealthy. Stipe alone provided the funding for all of the
Organization's activities. "With your permission, then, I would like to have
Burnside's assistance in my... personal project."

Not one to bother with such euphemisms, Stipe countered, "You mean, of course,
your revenge against Chris Redfield. How exactly do you expect to convince the
young man to go along? I believe the report I read stated he had some rather
strong attachments to the man's sister Claire."

"He did, sir. In all likelihood, he still does. Actually, that figures rather
prominently in my plans." Wesker steepled his fingers and leaned forward across
the desk. "You see, I happen to know from personal experience that with great
powers comes a distinctly lessened view of other people in general. With that
lessened view come a more... how should I put it... a looser moral code. Things
which once would have been unthinkable seem logical, a means to an end.
Certainly some people are above this disdain--take yourself, sir. You may not be
my physical superior, but I respect you. More than that, you can help me get
what I want."

Stipe nodded impassively. He knew Wesker's attitudes well enough and was not in
the least troubled by such comments. He never doubted the loyalty of his
"subjects." After all, if one displeased him, a single word from his lips meant
their death. Disloyalty was unheard of. "I believe I understand that much,
General, but surely he would understand that any action against Chris is
tantamount to one against Claire."

"Of course. I haven't reached the crux of the plan. Given that my last solo
mission was... less than successful, I want backup. Steve. Steve wants Claire. I
have her. Chris wants her as well. Chris is likely on his way as it is--I
anticipated your acceptance, sir, and took the liberty of sending him the
message," a brief nod from Stipe and he continued, "Chris arrives, I kill him
with Steve's assistance, and as a... well, as a reward, the boy gets Claire. I
don't really care what he does with her. She is bait to me and serves no purpose
beyond the mission."

On the opposite side of the desk, Stipe began laughing, a sound so quiet it was
bone-chilling. "Very good, General. I shall very much enjoy watching this little
show of yours. Very much..."

Whisper things into my brain
Your voice sounds so hollow
... I touch your hand I touch your face
I think the fruit is rotten
Give me lessons on how to breathe
Cause I think I've forgotten
I think I've forgotten
~ Nickelback "Leader of Men"

The same four walls. After three days in the cell, Claire realized she had no
right to be getting cabin fever, but the plain silver walls staring at her
already made her want to scream. The toilet and cot in the room hardly made it a
more comfortable place to live, and she wished the floor weren't metal so she
could tunnel out. She needed to escape. The walls seemed almost to close in
around her and she began breathing heavily for just a moment before calming
herself again. //Get it together! You aren't even claustrophobic.//

Still, the young woman shot up like electricity ran through the bed when the
door to her "room" opened. She expected to see another of the almost facelessly
generic soldiers who brought her food and water at regular intervals. Instead
Wesker entered smiling and looking completely pleased with himself. "Claire, you
look lovely. Have you done something with your hair?"

Claire merely glared and was opening her mouth to supply a suitably petulant
retort when another far more familiar figure stepped into the doorway. "Steve!"
she cried, immediately darting forward, only slowing when she noticed the pallor
of his skin and the patches of scales marring it. As she drew closer, she also
realized his once soft green eyes were surrounded with a deep midnight blue,
their centers an unnaturally vivid lime green. "Steve?"

He seemed almost not to recognize her for a moment, brow furrowed and alien eyes
narrowed slightly. Then a slow smile made its way across his face. "Claire."

Her breath caught for a moment. Despite the physical disparities, despite the
voice in her head telling her something was amiss, Claire's heart wanted to
believe, and it made the leap before her body really had a chance. Her arms went
around the young man's neck and she held him close. "Steve," she whispered as if
repeating the name affirmed the reality of his life. Tears flowed down her
cheeks, and for a moment, everything seemed right again.

Then a bizarrely strong hand grabbed her shoulder and jerked her away, throwing
her back onto the bed. "Now, now, I just can't take these public displays of
affection. I get all teary-eyed," Wesker grated, peering at her through his

For his part, Steve seemed rather indifferent to the man's treatment of the
woman he had professed to love such a short time before. "When did you get

The tears continued, but they were no longer tears of happiness. Whatever
Wesker's Organization had done, she knew something was wrong. Steve would never
have stood for a display like the one Wesker had just made, nor would he be
calmly asking her about her arrival when circumstances made it obvious her
presence was as prisoner not visitor. "What have they done to you?" she
demanded, voice cracking at the last.

"Why, we saved him. I thought you of all people would be happy to see your
friend," Wesker intoned, standing by the doorway as if giving the pair a greater
degree of spatial privacy. "I know he's been looking forward to seeing you."

"We'll be able to spend more time together soon," Steve added, glancing at
Wesker as if for affirmation. He gave Claire a smile that didn't suit the
innocence of his face. "There's... business to take care of first."

"Well put. You see, your brother is going to be paying us a visit soon, and I'd
hate to have him show up and not give him a proper welcome. I think I owe him
that much, don't you, Claire?" Sliding the shades off for affect, Wesker smiled.
No warmth tinged the gesture, only a twisted sort of pleasure. "Steve here is
going to help me in exchange for your... well, it isn't freedom exactly, but at
least you'll have some company." Before any more information was offered, he
stepped out the door. "We have work to do."

Steve nodded once. "Talk to you later," he said, flashing another of the hollow,
strange smiles, then walking out the door as well and closing it.

As soon as Claire heard the lock click, she drew her knees up to her chest and
wept in earnest, more terrified than ever.

Since you're gone
All is wrong
Nothing feels the same down here
And if you're gone
And I'm alone
Whose heart will I scar now dear?
~ Fuel "Scar"

Gavin watched on the monitor in his office as the men walked out of Claire's
cell. He watched the young woman break down, thinking herself completely alone.
Her auburn hair, slender frame, and dark eyes reminded him vividly of the reason
he started the Organization to begin with. Of course, by the time of this most
recent discovery, this way to revive the dead without turning them into mindless
zombies, his reason had rotted away in a tomb. Her family had objected to his
insistence that they freeze their daughter's body while he did research. Though
he worked frantically and hired the best scientists available, their combined
efforts ended in nothing.

Until Wesker.

But Evangeline had been dead for almost six years, and the research had long
since transformed into a financial pursuit rather than a personal one. Gavin saw
nothing wrong with the shift. If he succeeded, governments the world over would
pay top dollar for the ability to produce virtually immortal super-powered
soldiers. Now he possessed that capability. Of course, further testing was
needed, not least to examine the apparent behavioral changes possible. Though
Wesker claimed he held the same attitude as before his death--and given his
record, Gavin was inclined to believe this assessment--the young man injected
*after* death seemed to have suffered a fairly dramatic shift in moral

Far more interesting to Gavin, however, was the young woman in the cell on the
monitor. //Beautiful,// he thought absently. To most people, the word meant
little, but in the course of his experiments, Gavin experienced more than enough
of the hideousness, horror, and death to easily recognize beauty and vitality.
Claire seemed filled with both. For the moment, Wesker needed her as bait and a
bargaining chip. Once that particular need had been filled, however, Gavin had
no problem tearing Claire away. Perhaps upon closer inspection she would prove
useless, annoying... but at the sound of her quiet sobbing, the man felt
sympathetic yearnings almost forgotten in years of self-imposed solitude.

Pale blue eyes looked back to the monitor. Claire rose from the bed, wiping her
eyes with the back of her hand, and took a few deep breaths. He watched the rise
and fall of her chest beneath the black camisole she wore and smiled slightly.
Definitely an avenue worth exploring.

Memories are just where you laid them
Dragging the waters till the depths give up their dead
What did you expect to find?
Was it something you left behind?
~ Fuel "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)"

For the fifth time in half an hour, Steve tried to remember accurately his
initial meetings with Claire, the times they spent together fighting for their
lives amidst the crazies and freaks, not to mention the slimy undead things. He
remembered every event with enviable clarity. They played easily out across the
movie screen of memory, never so much as flickering in their presentation.

What made it so confusing was the lack of internal commentary. He recalled
staring longingly at Claire and wondering if her hair felt as soft as it looked,
but he couldn't dredge up that desire. No matter how he tried, he couldn't force
the tender emotion that led to pondering such a thing in the first place. When
he tried to contemplate his feelings in general, he found internal matches for
only certain ones, no longer for the infinite array previously available.

He easily called up anger, wishing he could find Alexia and show her how wrong
she had been thinking him no more than a test subject. His mind failed to bring
to his attention that the new vigor he felt was likely due to the same thing
that robbed him of the other emotions. He attempted fear as he had concern
earlier and came up entirely empty, finally tiring of the enterprise and moving
on. Something he could define only as will, the nebulous force that gave him the
ability to decide his own actions, came almost as easily as anger.

Finally there appeared lust. That too flowed naturally. Upon closer inspection,
Steve found this to be his motivation in accepting Wesker's offer. He knew the
man had no morals, no scruples, only wanted him to help kill Chris. But he
offered Claire up as payment, and the deal seemed suddenly agreeable.

Offhandedly the young man wondered when he decided that one person bargaining
off for another was acceptable. In a brief spasm of dark humor he decided his
eighth grade history teacher--obsessed with showing the horror of the slave
trade--would be mortified. And he couldn't find it in his heart to care about
that either.

We'll walk this way now baby
Bring the pleasure bring the pain
Your secret's safe with me for saving
No one has to know you came
~ Fuel "Easy"

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Even in the almost complete lack of light, Wesker was able to make out the faint
smile on Chris Redfield's face. "Taking you by surprise, apparently. You're
going soft, General. All these people here to watch over you... losing your
instincts." Seeing the other man moving to get out of bed, Chris shook his head.
"Stay there."

"Since when do you give me orders?" Despite the challenge, Wesker remained as he
was, half-seated and leaning back against his pillows wearing nothing but a pair
of black boxers. He watched the other man's eyes move over his form, taking it
in, his lips slightly parted. Wesker smiled at the obvious interest in Chris's
wide blue eyes. "Back to that then, are we?" Receiving no response, he quirked
an eyebrow. "Just going to stand there? If you are, I might as well kill you now
and beat the rush. You do realize, of course, that's the only reason you're here
at all."

"Knew it was probably a trap," Chris replied, though he sounded more than a
little distracted. "But... Claire..."

"Is in danger," the general agreed readily. "Just not nearly as much as you
are." His red-eyed gaze flicked over to the bedside table and the gun lying
there. "I could finish this now."

"You won't," the young man challenged. He took a step closer, sometime during
the motion reaching down to grab the hem of his shirt. A moment later he pulled
it over his head, revealing a beautifully sculpted torso and washboard abs.

"I will... but maybe not now. You won't get out of this base alive," Wesker
warned, though the words carried no threat. It was a statement of fact, nothing

Chris nodded and sat down beside Wesker on the bed. "I know. Knew when I saw the
place. I'm not getting out, and I'm not getting to Claire unless they let me."

Until that moment, Wesker had not consciously reconstructed the circumstances
that allowed Chris to be in his quarters in the middle of the night. //Stipe. He
must've... why the hell would he let him...// Wesker's lip curled into a half
smile. //Looks like the boss man likes to watch. Might as well give him a show,
then.// Reaching out, he grabbed the back of Chris's head and jerked him quickly
into a kiss, the gesture more territorial than sensuous, meant as a reminder,
another way of putting Chris in his place.

He felt the young man respond almost at once, pressing against him, still
sitting on the edge of the bed, half twisted toward him. Hands surprisingly
certain in view of the ready submission in the kiss slid over Wesker's chest,
spending little time on the pursuit before slipping into his boxers and closing
around the man's already half-hard cock. It had been awhile, a fact Wesker had
been only vaguely aware of before the sudden pressure and the jolt of pleasure
it sent through him. Masturbation certainly served its purpose, but it lacked
the spontaneity of having a partner. "Suck me," he ordered firmly, pulling away
from the kiss.

Chris needed no further incentive and shortly thereafter removed Wesker's boxers
with only minimal aide from the man himself. He first ran his tongue over the
head, cleaning his erection of the first drop of precum glistening on its tip.
He might have continued this teasing for some time, but Wesker gripped his hair,
wordlessly urging continuance. The young man immediately lowered his head to
take the length slowly into his mouth.

Wesker pushed anything from his mind but the sensation. Chris's mouth was hot
and wet around his shaft and he knew Wesker's tastes well, knew exactly what
buttons to push and when. As if on some divine cue, Chris began stroking the
expanse of flesh behind his balls, the pressure gentle and strange at first,
then harder and sharply pleasurable. "Fuck," Wesker hissed, hips jerking up of
their own accord. His demon eyes fell shut and his head fell back against the
wall with a dull thump. He could feel it more than hear it when Chris began
humming, the vibrations bringing him a leap closer to the climax already
building in his muscles, sending a heat which had become completely foreign in
his current state humming through his body. "Fuck..." he repeated, voice
distinctly quieter this time, less commanding and rough with passion.

Though he knew Chris was working off his reactions, the other man shifted his
attack in ways so subtle that he barely noticed until a new rush of heat spread
up from his groin. Unable to hold back any longer, he let the heat and pressure
build until they culminated in an explosion of sensation. He thrust upward, back
arching slightly as he came into the other man's mouth. After a few moments of
pleasure so intense it bordered on pain, Wesker's body sagged back against the

"So now are you going to kill me?" an amused voice inquired.

Wesker looked down to see Chris wiping his mouth with the back of one hand. "Not
right now, no. Wouldn't want my hands to shake. I'd hate to just maim you, after
all," he intoned, the words sounding perfectly serious. "Shut up and lay down.
I'll deal with you in the morning." Wesker's eyes fell closed again and he
shifted to lie against the pillows, feeling the warmth of Chris's body against
his own moments later. "Tomorrow..."

Lay me down for a while
Maybe you can tell me why
All my dreams are so defiled
And prove to me
You're something like human!
~ Fuel "Prove"

When Claire walked inside the office, she felt more surprised than she liked to
admit at seeing an attractive man standing inside. She'd expected a monster, an
old man twisted by dreams of power and prestige and the need for a legacy.
Instead she found herself checking the guy out, then giving her brain a much-
needed internal slap for even thinking about the leader of the Organization as
if he were a man. He couldn't be.

"I do appreciate you coming... though I realize you had no choice," Gavin said
with the faintest trace of humor. He motioned for Claire to follow until they
stood in front of a wall covered almost entirely by television screens. "I saw
something last night I believe you'll find quite interesting, Ms. Redfield."

For a moment, Claire considered feigning offense at the fact that he didn't
introduce himself. Of course, there was no need given that the guards had
already informed her of his identity. He knew this. She remained silent but
couldn't help feeling a trickle of interest when she wondered what images he
intended to display onscreen.

Before Claire truly whet her curiosity, Gavin pressed a button. As she watched,
eyes growing progressively larger, her brother entered the frame and stood over
Wesker's bed. That in and of itself made little impression on her beyond a
concern for Chris's safety. When the young man stripped away his shirt and
joined the blond on the bed, however, she felt a wave of nausea hit. Watching
the video was for her an experience akin to passing a car crash. She wanted
desperately to look away and focus on anything else but instead she watched it
through. What bothered her most was Chris degrading himself in such a
relationship. He was worth more than... Thoughts of the purely sexual nature of
the encounter became confused as she watched Wesker, after Chris drifted off to
sleep, stroking the other man's hair gently.

Still frowning in confusion, Claire's dark eyes snapped toward Gavin when he
turned off the replay. "Why did you show me that?" she asked, sounding not just
a little betrayed, though certainly she could find no logical reason he should
shelter her from it.

"You deserved to know the truth, Claire," the man replied, falling into familiar
use of her first name suddenly. He reached out a hand and brushed it over her
auburn hair, looking lost for a moment before visibly gathering his thoughts. "I
assume from your reaction that Chris never saw fit to let you in on this
particular aspect of his relationship with the general? It isn't anything new,
of course. An on-again off-again affair. He wasn't lying when he told you he
hated Wesker, but... his reasons differ slightly from what he presents, I'm

"Chris was... was just trying to protect me," Claire stammered. Certainly that
had to be the reason. After all, Chris never hurt her. He never lied to her. He
wouldn't, not without a reason. He knew how she would react, was ashamed. That
was all. It couldn't be that he felt more than he was willing to- "He would have
told me if-"

"If they were doing more than just fucking? Of course," Gavin agreed calmly, no
trace of real agreement in his quiet voice.

Sensing the cynicism, Claire frowned. "Why do you even keep me here? You have
Chris. Wesker can kill him whenever he wants... he doesn't need Steve," her
voice almost choked at saying the name aloud, "and he doesn't need me. He... you
could let us go. We could get out of here and leave you alone... you wouldn't
have to worry about taking care of us... please..."

For a moment, Claire felt certain Gavin intended to reject the plea. Then a slow
smile curved his lips. "You have a good point there, my dear. The only flaw in
your plan is that your young friend is still part of a rather important
experiment. I need him here. If you wish to be with him, however... well, it
could be interesting seeing how much of the boy is left mentally. Wesker didn't
have much sanity to begin with, so our ability to judge Substance X's affect is
limited. You could help us." He pressed a button on his desk and one of the
guards re-appeared. "Take Ms. Redfield to her new quarters. Mr. Burnside as
well. They will be staying in suite five from now on. Thank you."

Before Claire could protest, the guard grabbed her arm and hauled her out of the
room. //Why do I think this is not going to help?//

Nothing's so loud
The truth is not kind
And you've said neither am I
...Nothing's so cold
As closing the heart when all we need
Is to free the soul
But we wouldn't be that brave I know
~ Toad the Wet Sprocket "All I Want"

Chris awoke the next morning to an intense feeling of surprise. Not only was
Wesker still beside him in the bed, but his arm rested almost possessively over
Chris's back, cheek resting against the younger man's hair. Breath seemed to
freeze in Chris's lungs, afraid any motion might destroy the serene moment. His
mind rebelled at his desire to remain in the arms of someone he despised. //I
hate him. He... he...// The internal protests died before they truly lived and
Chris sighed softly. Whatever his feelings were, he didn't hate Wesker.

The reverie dissipated quickly when Wesker stirred beside him, red eyes opening
slowly and coming to rest on Chris. "Move," he said simply. The moment Chris
complied, he sat up on the edge of the bed, then rose and began gathering his
clothes for the day as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring.

"So... that it?" Chris inquired, swallowing. He knew each moment that passed
likely counted a second closer to his eminent demise. "Are we finished? Am I?"
he asked, following Wesker with a hawk's gaze, every moment recorded by his
mind's eye as he searched for any subtle shift that might signal a change of

Wesker stopped, hands flat on the surface of his dresser, eyes on the wood. He
actually seemed shaken and that unsettled Chris more than him pulling out a gun
and aiming it might have. "It isn't finished. We both know it isn't finished,
damn you. I won't kill you. I tried to get Alexia to kill you but the defective
little bitch couldn't even do that right." Demonic eyes turned their forceful
gaze on Chris. "Get the hell out of here, Redfield."

Chris stood and grabbed his shirt, almost stumbling in the process. His mind
refused to accept that Wesker was letting him go. Ordering him to go. "Are you-"

"No, I'm not sure, so get the fuck out before I change my mind," Wesker growled,
eyes uncharacteristically expressive. Chris imagined--or did he?--that there was
regret there, pain, maybe something more. "Dammit, Redfield-"

"I'm leaving." Chris chanced one more glance at Wesker before moving out into
the hallway and closing the door. No need for stealth. If they wanted him they
had him. He just prayed he was correct in assuming they didn't care where he
went. //I'll get you out of there, Claire... don't know how, but I will. I swear
I will.//