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Dead Man Walking

Chapter Text

Outside blew a bitter cold, the stars, veiled by the clouds, shone silently. Carried along the wailing breeze, tiny tears, frozen in complex shapes. Along a deserted route leading nowhere, a pub laid, decrepit in all its ruined splendor. A few rusted cars slept, waiting. A single motorcycle harboring faded colors, proud mount to a poor soul whom went to drown painful memories of better days; shared their slumber. An old sign reading: Welcome, flickered its dying light. Hanging close to the door, a bell rang softly with each lashes of winter, signing its own sad melody. Inside, a song played on this old jukebox, slow and melancholic, rendered barely recognizable by white noise. Still, it played, like the echo of a past long forgotten. Scattered here and there, the usual patrons drank in silence. The barkeep, an old lady, plump around the waist, cleaned a tattered glass. Unkempt and tired, she clung to the dream of another. Seated in front of her, at the bar, a man poured whiskey to the brink of a regular glass, flooding a lonely cube of ice. He drank the poison without stopping for breath, letting out a long and painful sigh as he put down the empty flask. A lock of hair fell on his forehead as he kicked back for another gulp, directly from the bottle this time. Long golden hair, tied up in a bun with no real care. With the back of his hand, he wiped his mouth of the foul liquid, spreading the burning sensation from his lips to his cheek. A scruffy and untidy beard, barely trimmed, crowned his visage. His eyes, weary, burned an exhausted flame, for his amber iris boasted a fiery color. He cast his gaze down the bottleneck, grunting in displeasure after contemplating its emptiness before wobbling his head to sleep, mumbling to himself. The matron watched as her last clients departed, waving small, silent, goodbyes to their host. As the door closed one last time and as she put down her last cup she turned towards the inebriated soul. She threw an old chiffon on her shoulder before uttering a few words.

"You stayin' here tonight honey?" She asked, with a strong southern accent. How far away from home she must have been.

Struggling to lift his chin, the man managed a quick answer. "Yeah-" His voice was groggy and deep with unspoken sorrow. "-Thanks."

"I'm closin' behind you, you know the drill." She swung her imposing waist as she made way for the door.

With a small wave of the hand he bid her farewell. The door closed behind her, the bell rang, the metallic sounds of a key tingled and then nothing. Inside, the lights were dimmed but lit. Still seated upon an old wooden stool, the man was fast asleep, swayed by strong liquor. Nothing but the electric noise of a broken neon remained, the outdated television hanging above the bar displayed a black screen, the jukebox had stopped signing. At times, the wind howled a lamentation. Seconds became minutes and minutes; hours. During which the one who knew not his name fought the nightmares assaulting his slumber. Painful frowns and grunts echoed through the loneliness of the empty establishment. In his mind, parcels of a broken memory struggled to find their place, arranging themselves into grotesque representations. But he mistook them for unpleasant dreams, as he always did. In the blur, he made out scenes of senseless violence. Blood splashing on the wall, a scream, a gunshot resonating into the distance. There were voices too, so many of them, overlapping each other, making it impossible to recognize even a single one. The distorted images continued to hammer his subconscious as he wrestled to regain a semblance of control. He jolted awake, letting out a loud groan. Panting heavily, sweating a cold sweat, a shake in his hands, he tried to still himself. He whispered a curse, outside, the moon still hung high. In need of more sleep, he reached for his coat, a tattered leather jacket, and wrapped it around his shoulders. He stumbled, one step at a time, towards the nearest cushioned bench. In which he let himself fall, barely holding together, his mind would not let him rest. Something burdened his heart, with no one to talk to, he turned to himself, it was like talking with a stranger.

He started with a heavy sigh. "They're always the same... The dreams. They tell tales of violence and death, how could my mind make up such horrors?" He paused. "I can only hope these scenes are the fruits of a sick imagination, but I how can I be sure?" Another unanswered question. "It felt so real-" He looked at his hand. "-like I had been there." He pondered in silence, before letting his hand crash back down. Laying on his back, he admired the ceiling, stained by water and rodent piss. "Charming." He sighed once again, sitting back up. Evidently, he would not be able to gather more sleep, accustomed to the idea he went behind the counter and grabbed the remote. He could have poured himself another drink, but the pounding in his head advised against it. An image appeared on the monitor, sounds joined it soon after. Among the few chains made available, only one caught his attention, a rebroadcast of the day's news. The announcer presented different occurrences, some more pertinent than others. The only redundancy seemed to be the excruciating concern about the bio-terrorism attacks that had plagued the wold for decades now. The blond frowned, the sole mention of it always brought a searing pain to his heart. Surely, it was abominable but why did he felt so concerned? Did this have anything to do with the man he used to be? He tried shaking off the feeling, bringing his attention back to the television. A group, called the B.S.A.A, short for; Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, had released a statement to the press. Answering the citizens question about the probability of another attack, like the one to burden china not so long ago. A man, a representative, gave a small overview. It was clear he was unaccustomed to dealing with the media. Short brown hair, strong jaw, pale eyes; a great deal of grief hidden within them. Forced to admit that threats of another strike remained painfully relevant.

"Chris Refield..." He read the name in a whisper, hoping it would serve as a key into his own head. Nothing.

Casting the leather jacket aside once again displayed a black t-shirt, hugging his shape nicely. strapped to his chest, a hostler. In this part of America, possessing a gun was hardly out of the ordinary and walking around with it; a simple show of power. On his belt, an imposing knife guarded his back. He knew not why he possessed such impressive armament, but he felt more comfortable with than without. He took out the gun, putting it down on the counter. How many times had he inspected it now? Hundreds? Perhaps, thousands of times? A sharp sigh escaped his lips. The piece looked custom made, indentured upon it: S.T.A.R.S. A name that meant nothing to him. More intricately, the name: Wesker, had been engraved on the barrel in elegant letters. He was keen to believe that might have been his name, but every time he felt himself closer to answers, an insidious fear crept out of his heart. Desperate to drown it, he had spent whole months flooding his pain with burning water. Aware he could answer so much, simply by researching what S.T.A.R.S stood for, yet petrified at the thought of learning too much. Like running from a undeniable truth, forgetting things he had no right no forget...

"I can't stay like this forever." He said quietly to himself. "I must have been someone..." The thought of being forgotten, the thought of having no one to sought, no one to care about, was frightening. He felt, deep in his heart, that he was alone in a dark, cruel world.

Still weak from lack of respite, he rose, pacing slowly behind the bar and towards a lonely door. The television still played, a show for ghosts. The door creaked as it opened, giving into a small corridor where cold reign undisputed. He let himself inside a small office, a bureau stood there with difficulty, leaning on the wall as for support. Atop it; a computer. He sat back down in front of it, booting it up, it wasn't long before he was free to browse, knowledge at the tip of his fingers. Still, the fear of discovering something best left forgotten haunted him as he typed but a few letters: S.T.A.R.S... A few article popped up, but not nearly as much as anticipated. He was quick to review what little was offered to him; a special unit serving under the supervising of the R.C.P.D, it was seemingly terminated together with the annihilation of the city it served. Their last known investigation site was in the Arklay mountains situated in the periphery of the lost city. One interesting fact stood out, a number of their units had reportedly survived the incident and were now serving the B.S.A.A. A very limited list of names was made available, he recognized one of them: Chris Redfield.

"Chris..." He repeated the name, for a moment he thought he remembered something but it slipped away as fast as it came.

Now he faced a dilemma, either he could risk meeting this man and be dissociated with this "Wesker" character or he could confirm his identity. But what if he couldn't? Would he be willing to help? Would it come into question how he got a hold of another's badge of office? He knew he couldn't provide explanations, and his gut kept pulling him away from the idea, like adrenaline out of danger. But could he simply ignore this lead and go back to filling his days with self lamentation? No. He had to risk it. He went back into the dining area and got a hold of some paper and a pen, decided to write his thanks to the woman who offered him so much without ever asking something in return, without much else to offer he poured heartfelt thanks by the way of ink, hoping it would be enough. He promised to visit her again and, having no other names to sign, scribbled his adoring nickname at the bottom of his letter; Honey.

He fetched what little he owned; his jacket, his gun and a canteen full of whiskey that reminded him of the only home he knew. Casting his fiery eyes on the place one final time he managed a melancholic smile. The door closed behind him, the bell rang, the metallic sounds of a key tingled and then nothing as he abandoned the small object inside the mail box, leaving him nothing to go back to.

Chapter Text

The wind still danced between the branches, whistling a sad anthem. Albert walked against it, snowflakes twirled alongside him, a thousand of tiny companions. His hands inside his pockets, he hummed alongside the breeze making it a duo. He had heard the song a thousand time, playing on the radio of the old pub.

"Woah Black Betty, Ba-da-lam
Woah Black Betty, Ba-da-lam..."

He silently sung to himself, the rhythm playing in his head. Unconsciously he started snapping his fingers alongside the beat, and all of sudden the cold seemed more bearable. He had no real plan, no route, nothing but a handful of whiskey, a few cigarettes a lighter and otherwise empty pockets and yet he had this feeling that never in his life he had felt so free. He paced to the tempo.

"Black Betty had a child, Ba-da-lam
Damn thing gone wild, Ba-da-lam..."

The snow covered the lonely highway, nothing but his own footprints tainted its perfect white. Little cracks in the clouds let the stars shine through, the moon graced him with a few blinks of light and while he was surrounded by nothing but darkness he kept on snapping his finger to ward off the shadows. Further down this road was an old garage, the place was kept running by two brothers; dumb as bricks, but they knew their way around an engine. He hadn't a dollar on him but that only meant he would have to get a tad creative. Not a problem. He reached for the carton of cigarettes in his back pocket, and the lighter in the left pocket of his coat. The flame wavered in contact with the air, shielded by his hand the cigarette hanging from his lips started to burn agonizingly as he sucked in the toxin. A new song to mind:

"I'm on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell..."

Fitting.

And so he walked until dawn broke the night, not a single car passed him, the wind had fainted and his sole company and fell to their demise; soon they would melt. While the air remained cold, waves of warmth now tainted it. Far in front of him, he could discern the tattered old sign of the ramshackled service station. He exhaled the last huff of his last cigarette and cracked a smile. It wasn't long before he was able to greet the two young men, elbow deep in grease so early in the morning. People around here were always suspicious of strangers but since the lot of them always met down at the dilapidated bar he was something of a familiar face. They nodded a acknowledgement. Their jumpsuits only half done, with the sleeves tied around their waste uncovered their oil-stained white t-shirt. The eldest wiped his hand on his thighs, the youngest kept on rummaging through a pile of old junk.

"What can I do ye for?"

"I need something to hold the road, what do you have for me?"

"We got a couple o' old trucks that can take you where you goin'."

"Lead the way."

He followed the mechanic through the shop and out back. A few trucks waited there as promised, every last one of them rusted and cranky. One in particular caught the man's eye.

"And this one?" An old model, tarnished as the others but with character; scaled black paint, a chromed bumper that had lost its shine. You could tell that this one had dominated the roads in a ferocious roar once.

"An old Chevy. We just finished refurbishing it, you got a seat for two in front and space for whatever you carryin' out back." They made way towards it together.

"How much?"

"We can discuss the price, how much you willin' to pay?"

"What about I test the engine first and then we can talk?"

"You goin' to like this one's purr." The young man laughed enthusiastically and ran into the shop to fetch the keys.

"You and me are going for a ride Black Betty." He said under his breath, a devilish smirk drawn to his lips.

The grease monkey was back not long after, he handed the old cowboy the keys and let him take the driver seat while he leaned in from the window. The engine started and a powerful shake awoke the beast.

"Woah oh oh." He laughed. "Yeah, I like your style."

"So we ready to talk buck?"

The lone wolf pushed off the mechanic and stormed away waving his hand to the brothers as he made off with his new mount. "I'll pay you back someday boys." He shouted out the window. He was met with fading insults as the distance grew. Aboard; he felt like a king, he could go anywhere, do anything. He was pleasantly surprise to discover the brothers had worked-in a somewhat outdated radio system, along a few other upgrades. The sun was in his eyes as he drove for the big city.

--

The voice of a man reviewed the day's news, more of the same. He knew the B.S.A.A HQ was somewhere in Washington, it couldn't be too hard to find, but finding Chris Redfield could turn out to be a lot more fastidious. There was still a possibility he would be away on a mission or worst yet out of the country. Not that the old gunslinger couldn't spare time, time was all he had. Then, something the man on radio said caught his ear:

"-The B.S.A.A refuses to comment on the situation as of now. They are working toward rescuing the hostage at-" He labelled an abandoned warehouse on the side of a remote highway.

He drove past a sign; the names matched.

"-Captain Chris Redfield is said to be working on the case, his previous exploit have served to put some mind at ease-

He might have been closer to answers than he originally thought as fate worked to bring them together.

Chapter Text

Rays of light hit the windshield of an old Chevy, blinding its driver. The unpolished chrome gleamed, the sun kissed the rusted paint and striped it white. Under black worn tire; winter crisped, remembering its shape. Travelling by the road's side; always more of the same trees. If not for the untainted layer of snow paving the street; one could have sworn that he drove in a carton box, made to size to suit his taste for adventure. Following the lonely highway; one lonely man. Minutes became hours and still his eyes could not see his destination, fitting, since his mind could not fathom the distance that now separated him from what little he knew. Out of tobacco, only a few swallows of cheap whiskey; his fingers began to dance on the steering wheel in a display of impatience. The only frequency haunting this parts was an old broadcast; playing old classic in a broken loop. He remembered the decrepit pub, and how nothing but a handful of washed up souls would listen to its singing voices. The cold winter's breath peeked through an opened window and whistled playfully; nothing but ghosts all around. And another hour died out; never to be reclaimed. A painful reminder that an instant is quickly lost to time, and time itself; quickly forgotten. The voices off the outdated monitor became distorted, behind the rhythm preyed silent whispers. It failed to catch the lone cowboy's attention at first, but they persisted and the murmurs morphed into sordid arrangements of words. Switching songs abruptly; the lyrics relayed a cynical message; speaking of death, sorrow, madness and destruction... The car stopped precipitously in the middle of the road, mesmerized, he couldn't even bring himself to put an end to it. The loud honk of a car extirpated him from his trance, he eyed the mirror, prepared to offer a small apology to the car waiting behind him; expect there was nothing there. Nothing but the desolated prints of his own voyage, the voices on the radio had ceased too, as they stopped singing for good. Any attempts to revive the dying machine failed, there would be no more songs.

"Uh." He huffed, slightly shaken. "Damn thing's already broken." He dismissed the occurrence, putting the blame on phantom interference.

The engine's purring became a roar, leaving the strange incident behind.

Finally, after another hour or two he could eye the scene; a parameter had been established, curious bystanders had gathered, the media preyed like vulture on the weak and desperate. Hungry for another scoop. Under the shade of an crippled tree, the motor slept. If he intended to invite himself over, he needn't shine under the spotlight. His boots hit the snow, crushing hit under his weight. A fair distance separated him and his goal but he hadn't been this close to answers in a long, long time. He adjusted his coat, and brushed his fingers through his hair. Tightening the rubber band that held his long golden locks together, under the sun; grey hair shone, adding to his mane's dignity. He reached for his smokes unconsciously, quickly he was reminded of their absence. And though he wished to sip the old whiskey he steeled himself, the last taste of home should be kept for a special occasion. He scratched his unkempt beard in a small, uncomfortable laugh. Fighting one's habit is never easy.

He drew a new path, cutting through the forest. It was his safest bet should he wish to enter the old warehouse undetected. He ducked under an abundance of branches, leapt across tiny frozen streams, climbed a few steep hills and smoked the frigid air. Already the sun felt heavy, ready to fall down the horizon. Nothing but a few paces kept him from the assaulted building. Inside he would find answer; or so he hoped. Keeping his head low he eyed his surroundings. A few guards had been posted behind imposing fences. Separating them, and him, from the B.S.A.A. These soldiers wore different colors, dressed in all black, their visages hiding being sinister gas masks.

"I'm guessing these are the wrong sorts." He whispered to himself.

He noticed a small shed, left unguarded. From there he would be that much closer to getting in, and if lady luck wished it, maybe something in there could facilitate his endeavor. He snuck past a few men, his fingers freezing as he touched the snow to keep balance. He slipped inside, the wooden shed was shrouded in darkness. Flipping open his lighter sent a playful flame dancing. From the corner of his eyes he noticed a movement, but once he turned around, there was nothing but shadows playing tricks. On the floor, cold and forgotten; a maintenance hatch. He melted the ice that had imprisoned the handle, it lead into a tunnel; dark and narrow.

"Uh, this will be a tight fit." He hesitated an instant. "Oh, fuck it." He squeeze inside.

He crawled against the freezing metal, his hand made into fists in a attempt to keep him from loosing his finger to the unforgiving cold. It felt as though a thousand needles crippled the side of his arms, the leather of his coat scaled by sharp winter. He wriggled his way forward, following the duct.

He sighed heavily, his breathing slightly out of sort. "I'm too old for this shit." He let out a few curse. The orange flame kept warding off the darkness. He kept going, further and further and then... a voice.

"How are we gonna get out of here?" It was sad whimper. A woman.

"Someone will come..." words this man didn't believe.

From a grate on his left, he could see a room; inside were a few people. Dressed much too lightly to endure the cold. A man and three or four women, sitting on the floor.

"Damn, that must be the hostages." He spoke inaudibly. "What to do? what to do?" How could he help? He had a gun, a knife, sure. But there was no way he could fight off trained mercenaries. Besides, he wasn't even supposed to be here. One of the women grunted painfully.

"Are you okay?" One of her peers asked.

"I'm fine... It's just-" Another painful grunt. She kept a hold of her side, blood dripping from between her finger.

"She's hurt!"

The others grouped up around her, but it was obvious none of them knew what to do. Panic tainted the air. He didn't know how he had acquired that knowledge, frankly he wasn't even sure if it would work but somehow, he felt he knew what to do. Something compelled him to take action, without thinking too much he knocked on the grate. He couldn't come out that way but he could at least talk with them.

"What the-" The man noticed first.

"Shut up idiot, they'll hear you." The old gunslinger quickly shushed him.

"I-I- yeah sorry... Wh-who are you?" The others noticed him too.

"Doesn't matter, help is one the way, just hang in there. For now, you need to do something about that wound or she'll bleed out."

"But none of us have any medical knowledge." he made a sorry frown, clearly he felt powerless and scared.

"You'll need cloth, anything will do for now. Make sure the wound is a clean and dry as possible and then wrap it tightly, that should buy her more time."

The group looked around for something to use but there was nothing in this room.

"Fuck." He swore under his breath. The grate was wide enough that he could give them his coat. "You. Help me with this shit." With the man help they manage to take off the metallic grid. He got out of his coat and handed it to them, leaving him vulnerable to the cold's fang.

"But what about you."

"Never mind me, use the double lining to bandage her up. I got to keep going, but once I find the B.S.A.A I'll lead them to you." And without further explanation he disappeared further in the duct.

"Wait... wasn't he from the rescue team?" Confusion painted their frown. "Th-thank you!" he tried whispering through the freezing tunnel, but their mysterious savior was already gone.

After suffering through the bite of winter, the improvised hero finally emerged from the freezing hell. "Jesus Christ" He sighed heavily, his teeth chattering. "Glad that's over with." He found himself in a much wider area, conveniently hidden behind a few old containers. He forgot everything about his troubles once he heard several voices.

"Dammit, where are the hostages!"

He hid, hoping he hadn't cussed too loudly a second ago.

"My, my..." The voice of a man, arrogant and inhospitable, elevated. Bouncing off the walls of the abandoned building. "Always the hero, aren't you Chris."

"Chris?" He repeated under his breath. Could it be?

"Damn you, you won't get away with this." The other man barked, his voice; warm and fierce. Vibrating with will to protect.

"But I already have, old friend." He could hear the echo of boots hitting the ground. "A snap of my fingers and the hostages are no more. Unless..." The echo stopped. "You give yourself up to save them." There was an insidious laugh. "Tell you man to retreat, I have no quarrels with them. Once you agree to join me, they can leave and spend what little time they have left in peace."

The offer was met with silence.

"Captain, don't listen to him." The voice of a young man arose.

"How touching, to see you deny your defeat up until the very last moments. Well, so be it-" The speech continued but our improvised hero became distracted, from the corner of his eye he notice a strange shine. He squinted, trying to make out the shape out of darkness, horror struck. A sniper hid in the shadows, this man, whoever he was, had no intention to dispute a fair fight, instead planning to pick out his targets one by one. He acted on impulse, baring out of cover.

"Look out, sniper!"

Just in time, the B.S.A.A was able to fall back into cover, barely avoiding fire.

Having drawn attention to himself the washed up cowboy fell back behind the old container, he too, avoiding a few bullet.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck." He took out his gun and disengaged the safety. It wasn't as terrifying as he had imagined but still...

The same voice shouted from behind their defenses. "Give it up Wesker, you're cornered!"

The name played on a loop in the aging mercs mind, light headed and overcome by confusion. "Wesker..." He eyed the letter engraved in the barrel of the weapon he held.

Chapter Text

A few seconds were spent in silence, little cracks in time, like the calm before a storm. And then; a spark, that ignited the fires of war. A single gunfire shattered the thin veil of a fragile peace; giving way to others like it. Tiny chunks of metal, tearing through space, flesh and bone. The B.S.A.A's marksmen made short work of the opposing force, diminishing their numbers with every new pull of their triggers. But one man stood above such menial ways. There were a few more shots, then a few screams... Still behind cover, the man without a memory spied on the scene:

Soldiers; bloody and torn laid on the floor lifeless. A young man struggled to pick himself up the floor dazed by the violence of the impact that sent him crash against the old container. A man; dressed in all black, strangled another with nothing but one hand, in a nonchalant demeanor.

"Captain!" The young soldier, held his side, blood tickled the side of his jaw as it made its way down his chin.

"Piers! Get the hostage out of here!" The leader's voice was weak, halted by futile attempts to breath in the air.

Ignoring his command, Piers launched forward only to be sent back flying in a single blow, coughing blood over the cold cement.

"Sit back and watch as life seeps out of your beloved captain." The man laughed cynically.

The old merc couldn't see his face, he stood with his back turned to him. To only distinct features were his black leather gloves and blond hair; carefully slicked backwards... Was this man Wesker? He had heard Chris calling out his name earlier, but then... who was he? His eyes lingered one last time on the engraved letters.

"Go!" He ordered again; in a desperate shout.

His fiery gaze drifted from his doubts, now wasn't the time to loath, he had to help. Steadying the shake in his hands he gripped the handle as hard as he could and stepped out of cover once more. He fired a shot that lodged itself in this man's shoulder, forcing him to let go of his hold over the suffocating captain. Piercing red eyes plunged into his own. Chris fell on his knees, coughing and panting heavily. The young soldier looked up to the disheveled gunslinger.

"Go and take care of the hostages, I'll help here." In the urgency, he sent him off.

He hesitated a second but the instant demanded a drastic change of plan and the agents welcomed the unforeseen help. Piers nodded solemnly and took of running.

There was a pending tension in the air, an unreal silence; broken only by Chris's gasp for air. Time unveiled a surprising truth as the men whom share amber tainted souls plunged in each other stares. The assailants spoke first:

"My,my... That IS an interesting turn of event." He started, a smirk hung on his lips. "To think I'd stumble upon a defective model."

Nothing of what he said made sense.

The ragged cowboy acted on nothing but instinct, folding his cards well. "Sorry pal, you must be mistaking me for someone else." He smirked arrogantly.

There was an pause, his nemesis arched a brow and then laughed mischievously. "I see... So, even your mind is broken. To think you'd forget your great purpose. You truly are unworthy."

Questions kept shoving around in his mind. "What are you talking about?" It became evident that this man, whomever he was, knew him.

"Fear not." He turned around to look down on Chris. "I won't repeat the same mistake you did."

Redfield looked up to him, still holding on to his sore throat. "Damn you Wesker, you won't get away with this."

There it was again, so this man really was Wesker. Nothing could help him make sense out of what he was hearing.

"But I already did." He got a hold of the B.S.A.A's captain and literally threw him across the room.

Reflexively, our confused hero tried and caught him, only to be knocked off balance by the impact. He shook his head, recovering from the hit. The mysterious man was already one step out the door. He halted a second, taking advantage of the confusion. "Check and mate." Was all he said before pressing the button of a small device he held in his gloved hand. A second later was a blinding flash, the following the thundering sound of an explosion and then nothing.

--

Pain was first to find him, before even light could reach his eyes. He felt the oppressing weight crushing his chest, blood burned his frigid skin. A pale moonlight shone across the surface of a small puddle of melted snow. He tried moving, but soon found out he had been trapped under chunks of the ruined building. Panic visited.

"Hey! Hey!" He called out. His lungs, filled with dust, muffled his screams. "Is someone there? I'm trapped dammit!" He wriggled with all his might, but nothing budged. A light blizzard now blew over the area, inviting itself over through the immense cracks the explosion had left in its wake. A red colored smoke stagnated near floor, choking him . "Help!" He stopped resisting, instead, forcing his head up to scout his surroundings. A few feet away laid Chris, unconscious.

"Chris! Come on damn it, wake up!" He didn't react. The lonely drifter feared he might have slipped away. After a great deal of struggle he managed to free on of his arm and, slapping his hand on the cold cement, started pushing and pushing, it took every bit of strength he had but he succeeded in freeing himself in a mighty roar. He let out a heavy, painful, sigh and stumbled towards Chris, falling on his knees next to him. The captain legs were stuck under a few boulders, gathering his strength he lifted the heavy parcels with difficulty. In a moment's notice his ear find its way to his chest, he couldn't make out a beating. He grabbed his wrist; no pulse.

"No, no, no..." He stated nervously, loosing his grasp over the situation. He ripped off the bulletproof vest, pinched his nose and breathed air into his lungs. One, two, three. "Come on big guy..." He repeated the few steps, pumping life in and out of his lungs in a attempt to jump start his dying heart. "Come on!" His fists pumped harder. And after what seemed like an eternity, he finally found back his breath. The exhausted wanderer allowed himself a short rest, if only to appreciate that at least one thing today hadn't gone terribly wrong. But his respite was short lived. Around him was nothing but destruction, it was obvious that the damages spread even outside the building, he wondered what had become of those whom had stood outside. Getting back on his feet he loaded the unconscious captain over his back, dragging the both of them out of this dead zone.

The blizzard seemed to grow bitter at their arrival, once outside they were greeted by the unforgiving wind. Having lost his coat, he was forced to wander in nothing but a T-shit; soaked in blood and sweat. While Chris was slightly better equipped, he too, fell victim to its freezing fangs. Leaving trails of blood in their wake, one lone cowboy and his charge traveled the cold in search on old Betty, their ticket out of there. Only now could he fathom the extent of the damages. There were corpses, buried under a fair layer of snow, imposing bloodstains and signs of the blast. Strangely though, and perhaps more concerning; footprints. Fresh ones. With a fine bit of help from the remaining adrenaline he hurried back to the old car. Luckily, he had parked it far enough that she had remained out of harms way. He swung the door open and leaned Chris in the seat. Inside, the temperature dropped, he barely felt his own body anymore. The motor roared; a small mercy. And the tires marked the white coat as they drove away, eyeing the mirror he hoped he left no one behind. The B.S.A.A would have to take care of themselves, he had saved those he could...

Chapter Text

The blizzard, caught in a powerful wind, kept on blowing. The old car forced her way through the accumulated snow with great difficulty; running low on gas. Inside, on the driver's board; she blinked a few warnings. Soon, they would have to keep going without her, and against the elements. Wesker's hands were frozen in place, gripping the steering wheel. He could barely feel the rigid leather, everything felt out of life. Fighting away the drowsiness he shook his head, he could feel himself slipping. However, now wasn't the time for rest; Chris's complexion had gone from bad to worse and if they didn't soon find shelter... He preferred to end his train of thoughts there. Admitting defeat now wasn't an option, not after everything he had gone through to get this far, although it might have felt as though they had gotten nowhere. The car's purr became dim, once second it seemed as though she could go another mile, and the next like she too had lost her fight. She dragged her metallic chassis along a few more meters before her strength finally left her, seemingly carried along the wailing winds.

"Come on old girl..." He whispered, his voice; weak and soar.

Nothing.

The old cowboy's forehead went resting on the wheels, a heavy sigh escaped his lips. He struggled to even let go, his bones frozen in shape. His teeth had ceased their chattering, his lips harbored a light shade of purple, he had no more strength to spare. Only once he saw the other man did a dim candle lit inside his heart. He had no qualms about letting himself die, after all, he had nothing, not even a name. But the man sharing his struggle surely had a lot more to live for... With every move came agonizing pain, once his boots hit the icy road he fell to his knees. Picking himself up, he made his way towards Chris's side, leaning over old Betty, still enduring the merciless cold. Ignoring his suffering he wrapped the other man's arm around his shoulder and dragged him out of the vehicle. The moon still hung high in the sky. Assaulted by a thousand tiny white flakes he fought to keep his eyes open. It was a miracle that he could even make out the old radio tower in the distance. Was lady luck finally back at his side? He wasn't sure what he'd find exactly but he knew something good would come out of it, and so he struggled his way back into the forest and towards the upstanding structure. Bidding his trusty ride a bitter farewell, he silently promised he'd be back for her.

--

Mere minutes felt like ages, at this point, everything he did, he did for Chris. Hauling the other man on his back, he kicked the snow with every new steps. He kept on signing inside his head, the old tunes that would play over the radio... And, out of the darkness of the night came a small miracle: a hunter's shack. Lady luck willing, he would find everything from first aid to dry wood inside. Regaining a small amount of strength he pulled his dying companion along. Kicking the door open caused the wind to whistle a sad tune, like a unwilling goodbye. He stumbled a few steps still, reaching the bed. It was a small cabin, only a few meters wide, but large enough that it hosted a single bed, a fireplace and a small toilet; hiding crudely behind a faded curtain. Finally he manged to fight off the blizzard and swung the door close. He let out a relived sigh, finally a little luck. Directly on his left, just besides the door, slept a few logs of dry wood; perfect. He made sure the chimney wasn't obstructed, fortunately it was clear. He threw in a log or two, grabbed an old paper and set fire to the whole. Smoking comes with its benefits, he thought.

It wasn't long before the room basked in the fire's warm light. Already the temperature softened, sparking hope. Chris now laid on the bed, still his breath felt unsteady. Looking around, the disheveled gunslinger managed to dig up a first aid kit, just as he hoped. With this he could at least disinfect the captain's wound and bandage him up. His own wounds would have to wait.

Under the shivering light of the dancing flames he rid Chris of his soaked clothes, baring his chest. He took the bartered garnments and hung them close to the fire to dry. A few kitchen appliances hung above the fireplace; a couple of skillets, wooden spoon, a spatula, a few metallic bowls... He fetched on of those and melted a fair amount of snow inside it. Leaving it by the flames a while, he ended up with a bowl full of warm water. This place was a small haven, there were even a number of cloths he could use to wash him up. Soaking the piece of fabric with water he proceeded to wash away the blood, cleaning around the cuts and over the bruises. Indeed, the B.S.A.A's official was left in poor shape. Fortunately he didn't seem to bleed profusely; a small mercy. In nothing but his underwear the other man seemed to regain color already, although his teeth started chattering... Wesker hurried himself up, he disinfected the wounds and bandaged the more visible ones, hopefully there was nothing broken. He set aside his tools, throwing the covers over the captain.

"Alright, my turn." He whistled between his teeth, moving away a closer to the fire. He took off his clothes, laying around in those would surely cost him a toe or two. He red himself of everything except his pants, he figured they had seen better days but at least they weren't soaked in blood. He sat up on the edge of the old bed, the covers gave off a faint molded odor but he wasn't picky, they seemed clean enough. Gathering a new set of cloth he too washed up.

"What on earth..?" Looking over at his chest he noticed there were no wounds. But he had just washed away a fair amount of blood, it couldn't have been Chris's... He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. With the immediate danger gone, he could feel himself dozing off. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of Chris's teeth hitting against each other, his body still needed time to adjust and help to warm up.

"Well, can't help it." He invited himself over in the sheets, telling himself he'd only stay a moment so Redfield wouldn't fall victim to hypothermia. Strangely his own metabolism was already back in shape, he didn't think too much about it. He had no choice but to cozy up against Chris, their skin touched. After a minute or two the B.S.A.A's operative moved a little closer, unconsciously seeking more warmth. And although it should have been awkward, the urgency left little room for unnecessary worries. The lone drifter rested slightly on top of Chris, resting his head the pillow close to his visage. He told himself; just a few more minutes... and fell asleep.

--

Chris's eyes flustered open to look upon the wooden ceiling of an old shack. Orange tainted shadows danced on walls, a pleasant warmth hushed the strain in his muscles, the delightful aroma of burning wood reminded him of a few nights he had spent around campfires, telling stories, enjoying time with those he loved. The peaceful atmosphere nearly lulled him back to sleep, he felt something moving every so slightly besides him. The realization hit him like wrecking ball, shattering the comfort he had set himself into. Violently pulling away he sat up in bed, eyeing the man sleeping next to him. Moving too fast however, proved to be a bad idea. Almost immediately he felt light headed, grabbing his forehead he tried to still himself. The confusion didn't seem to bother the other man, which worried Chris once he had gotten a hold of his senses. Was this man okay? He recognized him, form when he had fought Wesker. He had tried standing up to him beside them. His gaze lingered, he had this weird feeling he knew him, rather well on top of that, but couldn't quite recall who he was. He reached for his shoulder, shaking him gently to wake him up. He had yet to realize he was barely clothed.

"Hey, hey..."

Wesker's eyes opened with difficulty.

"Are you okay?" Chris's voice was soft, although he was confused, he remembered his heroism back at the warehouse.

"Hm?" His voice was groggy, clouded in drowsiness. "Oh-" He seemed to finally regain his grasp over time. "-You're awake." He sat up in bed. His body didn't hurt at all anymore.

Chris remembered his team. "What happened? Where are we? Where's Piers? Last time-"

"Yeah, yeah, slow down buddy. One question at a time." The old merc faced the fire and away from Chris, rubbing his eyes and stretching.

"What happened, do you know?" He asked, his whole body felt sore, his heart was pounding.

"Oh I know alright. We got our asses handed to us, there was a blast. I woke up under a pile of rubble-" He yawned. "Had to dig my way out of the mess, found you dying, got you back with us and dragged both of our sorry butts over here." He got up and reached for two cups, pouring water into both of them. "I don't where your friend is, far as I know he doubled back for the hostages."

Chris tried to get up but was far too weak to stand on his own two feet.

"Woah! Where do you think you're going?" He set down the two cups and leaned Chris over him, forcing him back into bed. "Did you even listen to me?" He grunted in displeasure. "Sit down."

Chris sat back down, still woozy.

"Here, drink." He offered him the hot water. It had boiled over while they slept.

"I need to go back, my team-"

"Your team is gone... I'm sorry. Right now our best bet is that radio tower I spotted earlier." Outside, the blizzard didn't die out. "But we'll have to wait until the sun comes up do head over there. Plus, I'm done dragging you around, next time you go through that door it'll be on your own two feet." He sat beside him.

Chris sighed, forced to acknowledge the rationality of that statement. "Thank you, seems I owe you one."

"You do. Speaking of which, you can start repaying that debt right now." Out of habit he reached out to his pocket, but only found his lighter and no smokes. He clicked his tongue "Shit..." he cursed under his breath.

"Is that so?" Chris asked carefully, slightly suspicious.

"Don't give me that look. Hell, we're practically lovers; I saw you half naked, I gave you mouth-to-mouth... Doesn't leave a lot to the imagination." He snarked under a grin and a small laugh.

Chris blushed faintly, clearly embarrassed. He cleared his throat. "Alright, let's hear it." He was eager to dismiss the awkward turn of this conversation.

The ragged cowboy stayed silent a while. "Do you know me?" He asked, unsure how else he could have asked.

Chris remained surprised, he remembered his earlier thoughts. "To tell you the truth, I'm not certain." He decided to be honest. "But who are you?"

Wesker let out a long sigh. "Actually, I was hoping you could tell me that." He drank his water like he was knocking back a shot. It had been a while since he had drink anything besides strong liquor.

"You mean you don't remember? You have amnesia?"

"I don't know what else it could be." He eyed the floor.

Chris was about to speak but held his tongue when the other man started talking again.

"That man... back at the warehouse."

"What about him?"

"You said his name was Wesker?"

"Correct."

He fell silent.

"Setting that aside, what brought you to me for questions?"

The lone wanderer got up and walked towards his gear, taking out his gun from his hostler. He handed it over to Chris who recognized it immediately.

"Where did you-" He started, unnerved, he darted his eyes up into his and that's when he noticed the flaming iris...

Chapter Text

Fire still twirled atop dying logs, wood crackled and turned into ash. Chromed letters glistened, caressed by dancing shadows, flame colored iris adorned the same shine. The captain's hand closed tightly on the grip and the barrel of a loaded gun found its way against the drifter's head, the brazier in his gaze grew cold.

"Wh-what are you doing..?" Instinctively he took a step back.

"Don't move." The ocean blue eyes gleamed with hatred.

Wesker couldn't repress the shake in his hand, the frown that painted itself over his pale visage radiated fear. This was too much... His throat became stuck, a cold sweat ran down his spine.

"What are you? And don't lie to me." He roared in anger, assuming the other man had laid down a trap, that he was mocking him.

"I-I told you, I don't know... Dammit let's just talk." His voice was reduced to a whisper. He continuously eyed the muzzle pointed at him, the finger hovering atop the trigger.

"Stay where you are." Chris got on his feet and geared up. Keeping the firearm in hand. "I'm done with your games." he started again, "Did you really think I'd let you play me."

His hands open in front of him, the lone cowboy would try to speak but nothing came out.

"Where's Piers?" Another question he couldn't answer.

"I-" There was pounding in his head, an ringing in his ears, he could barely hear anything else.

"Answer me!" The prompt was aggressive, he waved the gun closer to his temple.

What he wouldn't give for strong liquor and a cigarette right now... He used the only weapon in his arsenal:

"Look friend, I get it, you're pissed off. But I already told you everything I know, I swear." The truth.

Chris snorted humorlessly, it was obvious he didn't believe him. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't put a fucking bullet in your brain." He readied the trigger.

Wesker quickly tired of this game, having regained his calm he remembered he had nothing to loose. And his nonchalance came back galloping.

"You want to kill me? Do it. Though I hate to think Chris Redfield is the type of man who pays back his debts with blood." He lowered his hands. "Look me in the eyes when you pull the trigger, Chris." He stepped forward, leaning the gun against his forehead.

They scrutinized each other's gaze, the atmosphere grew oppressing and then... a metallic click lifted the animosity.

"What the-" Wesker looked at his hand, a cuff around his wrist. Another click, and he found himself tied to an adjacent wooden beam.

Chris took a few steps back towards the bed, visibly relaxed. "You're obviously connected to Wesker, one way or another. You're coming with me, we'll figure you out together." He sat back down. drinking the water previously handed to him.

The old cowboy was caught in a daze, speechless, eyeing back and forth between his wrist and the beam. "What the fuck!" He cussed loudly. "What's wrong with you? I saved your ass and that's how you repay me?" He was truly outraged, he kept wearing that wide eyed expression, he wasn't even mad, he just couldn't wrap his head around anything anymore.

"And I'm grateful for that. It's the only reason why we're still talking." He finished his cup. "I believe you, I know now that you really don't remember anything. But until I figure out who you are exactly I can't afford to take risks. We'll set out as soon as the sun is up." He went back into the sheets, facing away from the other man.

"Oh... so you're just heading right back to sleep?" No answers. He sat down, wriggling the cuffs down the beam. "Sure... don't pay me any mind. Just go on snoring... asshole." And he leaned on the wall, close to the fire, still in nothing but his pants.

--

Bright rays reflected upon the snow, the blizzard had subsided and the sky flashed a pale shade of blue, free of cloud. The sun shone its warmth, basking the old cabin in its light. Wesker's eyes flustered open, his back hurt, he was cold and his damn hand was all out of blood. He shook his head, rubbing away the drowsiness with his free hand. Chris was already up, pacing back and forth in the cabin he gathered a small list of item.

"Good morning sunshine." The bartered merc snarled.

"Good you're up." Chris took out a small key and freed the beam. "Gear up."

"Yes sir." He waited for Chris to have his back turned and mimicked his words in silence, mocking him. "Gear up. Hmph!"

He dressed, noticing how his hostler had gone missing. "Figures." He tied his boots and smoothed his shirt's ripples, still the cuff hanged from his wrist.

"You're gonna take this off or what?" He spoke rudely, not only was he in a bad mood, he was sober. Something that hadn't happened in a long, long time.

"Come here." Chris waved his hand. Grabbing a hold of the cuffs he slapped the other end on his free wrist. Properly restraining him.

"You son of bitch." Wesker stated, biting his lips.

"I told you, I'm not taking any risks." He flashed an arrogant smirk, somewhere inside, a part of him enjoyed this. "Come on, let's go."

"Wait."

"What is it?"

"I'm not going out there without a coat, I almost froze solid yesterday." He pointed out.

"Mh, you're right. Let me see if I can't find something." It wasn't long before he got his hands on an old coat, befitting a lumberjack. "Here." He let out a small laugh, seeing Wesker dressed so casually, with his hair long and his beard untrimmed... it was something new.

"My hero."

He adorned the garment and they set foot outside, bidding the lonely cabin farewell. The disheveled wanderer pointed towards the radio tower, it wasn't far. They paced the forest toward the imposing structure, with the distance coming to a close it became obvious that it had been long abandoned. Muck like everything in these parts. There was a ladder leading up into it. Chris tested its sturdiness, solid enough, it would hold.

"Go ahead."

"Are you kidding? You go first, I can't climb with my hands like this."

"If you fall I'll catch you." He designated the metallic ladder with a nod of the head.

"Jesus Christ, what did I do to deserve this..." He swore under his breath, climbing slowly but steadily. After a while they were both up the tower.

Chris immediately started tinkering with the old machines, some of these where still in working condition and the small generator in the corner of the room had graced them with what little juice it had left. The radio seemed to work properly, they could try and send an emergency broadcast. Maybe even contact someone directly.

"Be careful who you're talking to over that thing." Wesker warned. "I reckon your boys aren't the only ones surveying the channels as of late."

"Don't worry."

He tried several channels before finally hearing a voice. He recognized it immediately.

"Piers!"

"Ca-tain-?" It kept on cutting.

He adjusted the frequency. "Piers can you hear me?"

"Yes, I'm reading you."

Things seemed to look up.

"Piers, where are you?"

"We're stationed over in the woods, reinforcement is already here along with the hostages and a few other survivors..."

Chris sighed in relief. "That's good to hear, send me your location."

"Yes... but Chris..." The young man hesitated.

"What is it?"

"We have a situation. Multiple attacks have been unleashed all over the U.S... we've suffered major casualties already."

"Dammit..." he said silently.

"I'm sorry..."

"This isn't your fault Piers, we'll fix this... we have to."

With that said the young man sent over their coordinates. It wasn't too far, they could probably reach it before dusk if they left now.

Chapter Text

Dusk was nigh, winds were rising and the temperature suffered a brutal decline. Still their boots left print upon the heavy white coat, disrupting its rest. Chris walked but a few feet out front, a watchful eye would linger from times to times, making sure the other man still followed. The metallic song of cold metal would break the dutiful silence. The cuffs binding Wesker's wrists dug in his flesh, drawing blood. The captain had noticed, but remained unapologetic. He had little pity to spare and no time to waste, they pushed on.

The sun, one blink away from sleep, had ceased shining. Shadows swallowed the world and soon, they were plunged in darkness. Wesker silently hoped they wouldn't have to suffer through another night, preyed upon by winter. Lost in thoughts, his gaze reached for the stars, mesmerized by their beauty. He cracked a smile, his heart ached for freedom; a single droplet of blood drew a path along his finger before falling to its demise.

"Pick up the pace." Chris's voice called him back to reality. "We're almost there."

He detached his hopeful eyes from the heavens and gave suite, a lock of hair came loose and tickled his cheek.

They moved mechanically through the woods, their muscles, numbed beyond all things; repeated movements they knew by heart. Exhaustion marched alongside them, they dreamed of a copious meal and comforting warmth. These thoughts were maddening, serving no purpose, besides painfully reminding them of what they didn't have. Wesker thought breaking the gag order might lift up their spirits.

"Tell me about yourself, Chris. We're stuck together, might as well get to know each other." His voice was somewhat uplifting.

"And who benefits from that? You can't tell me a thing about yourself, rather one sided don't you think?" His tone was dismissive, he clearly was in a foul mood.

"Fair enough. Tell me about myself then, you said you might have the faintest idea."

"I won't tell you anything until I know for a fact."

"I see. Tell me about your friends then."

"No."

"Your dog?"

"Stop talking."

The old mercenary let out mute sigh, it became evident he couldn't reach beyond the walls Chris had built around himself. Already he felt isolated, alone, it pained him to see his efforts so blatantly dismissed.

"Finally." Chris's voice became lighter, like a burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Further in front of them, between the branches; appeared lights. They had finally reached camp. The hurried, jogging at the peak of their capacity; Chris announced them, speaking loudly and clearly. The guards posted around camp seemed immediately relieve to see their captain alive and well. Obviously, thought, no one expected to entertain guest. Therefor, Wesker came as a surprise.

"Captain." Albert recognized his voice, the same young man Chris had spoken to over the radio, the same young man he had met back at the warehouse.

"Piers, what's the situation? Is everyone alright?"

"Yes, ever since the initial impact we didn't run into any more problems."

A woman came jogging towards them, adorning a pale blue coat, her hair tied in a ponytail. "Chris!" She called out.

"Jill? What are you doing here?"

"She's part of the reinforcement I mentioned earlier." Piers clarified. "Although..." Clearly, Wesker's presence prevented him from explaining further. "Wait-" He took a step towards the older man to get a better look. "-aren't you the one from the warehouse? You helped us did you not?" He noticed the cuffs holding his hands together. "Then why?"

"Notice anything familiar about him?" Chris hinted.

The young man hadn't failed to notice the burning iris but he wasn't sure what to make of it.

"He's related to Wesker, though I'm not sure how exactly, I have a few theories."

Jill stepped up, she flashed an incredulous look over at the disheveled cowboy. "I definitely see it." A note of disdain in her voice, although she hadn't intended it.

"Let's take this discussion elsewhere. You." Chris designated one of his men. "Get him something warmer and find him a nice little spot away from the others." The orders were clear, the young man grabbed Albert by the arm and pulled him away from the group.

The others went to talk in one of the bigger tents. Now covered more appropriately, Wesker sat on a tree stump, all over the camp were emergency tents, campfires and people. Some geared for war, others; muffled in warm clothes. He recognized, among those, the group of hostages he had encountered a day ago now. Seeing them safe softened his expression, bringing a faint smile to his lips. Taking his eyes off them, he noticed a few more people with firearms slapped on to their belts, but they didn't wear the B.S.A.A's colors. He guessed they might have been agents, since they seemed rather close with Chris. A hint of pain extirpated him from his thoughts, only now did he measure the extent of his wounds; the cuffs had torn flesh around his wrist, the areas around the wounds were bruised. Beside him stood his guard, ordered to keep an eye on him, visibly on edge. He held on to imposing armaments and something told him that he wouldn't hesitate to use them to shorten his life, should he try anything funny. It was best to endure the pain for now... A young woman trotted his way, her short brown hair caught in a breeze.

"Let's head towards the medical tent." She said, although her voice was gentle, he felt a hint of reproach in her tone. Something told him he wasn't exactly welcome here neither.

"You heard the lady." The soldier barked, prompting him on his feet. He was escorted towards the medical unit.

"You can leave us." She said.

"But-"

"I'll be fine, let me do my job." She smiled faintly, shooing him away.

"I'll be just outside."

With the soldier gone she pulled a tray towards herself and sat down in front of Wesker, taking his wrist into her hands. Her touch was light, so much so, that he almost couldn't feel it. "Chris really did a number on you." She took out a small key and unlocked the cuffs, freeing his hands.

"Oh you know, shit happens." He dismissed, taking the blame off of the captain, seemingly forgiving his over-cautiousness.

Her eyes became wide with surprise, it seemed as though she felt more comfortable all of sudden, less antagonistic. "Give me your hands." She tried to repress a smile.

The sting of alcohol cleansed his cuts, she pressed a clean gauze around his wrists and bandaged around them.

"Thank you." He flashed a smiled.

Again she seemed thrown off. Ultimately she couldn't contain her smile. "You know, you're very different from what I expected. I guess we might have judged you too harshly."

"Maybe, and I thought the bad-boy vibe would make me popular." He joked.

She chuckled, "It's not all bad." She stuck a piece of tape over the end of the bandage, making sure it would hold in place. "I heard from Piers, you helped them stand up to Wesker. Whatever your connection to him may be, right now, I'd say you're an ally." She threw the cuffs further away in a bag. "The hostages noticed when you came in, they speak highly of you. I'm sure this will get Chris to reconsider the whole 'containment' thing."

The aging wanderer cracked a smirk. "Bah, I didn't do much."

"That's not what I've heard; giving away your coat, sending help their way..." She pushed the little cart back into place. "Take my advice, try and talk to the others, they might be reluctant at first but I'm sure you can persuade them to open their minds a little."

Wesker got on his feet and pace for the exit.

"One more thing."

"Yeah?" He turned around to face her, lending her his attention in a way she would have never expected from Wesker.

"Chris told me you had amnesia. If you start having nightmares, or if you fall victim to persisting headaches, come see me. I'll be the one to keep tabs on your mental health as well. The name's Rebecca, by the way. Rebecca Chambers."

"Well Rebecca, I couldn't be in better hands." He winked playfully and excused himself, stepping out of the tent. He expected to see the soldier from before but fell face to face with Chris, he had a somewhat remorseful look on his face.

"Christopher, how are you buddy?"

Whatever he said always incited the same reaction, it seemed his uplifting attitude was an inexplicable sight. Chris snapped out of it rather quickly, however. "I heard, your wrists were in pretty bad shape. You should have said something if it was that bad."

"Whoever told you was exaggerating, I'll live." He landed a friendly squeeze over the other man's shoulder.

"Well... good then. Come, I'll introduce you to the others."

The walked together, Wesker managed to slip a comment while on their way. "So... Exactly how are we introducing me? I don't have a name. Well, I have a nickname, but I don't think you guys will like it."

"What is it?"

"Honey."

Chris busted out a laugh, he surely wasn't expecting that. Everything about this man felt entirely different from Wesker, true; he shared his features, his voice, but not much else. He wiped away a laughing tear. "Well-" He regained his calm. "-Actually we know your name. It is Wesker, your just not the Wesker WE know. Or at least I don't think you are."

"What? The other psycho is my long lost brother or something?"

"That's the part we don't know. So if you don't mind; we're going to stick with Wesker."

He stayed silent for a second. "Hm, I reckon all Weskers can't be bad. Alright, I'll be the nice twin." He joked once more.

They reached the group, most everyone in the camp was gathered around the biggest fire. There was a few familiar faces; Rebecca, Piers and that woman; Jill? The rescued hostages too; the man stepped up and reached for an handshake.

"Thank you so much. If it wasn't for you, we might have never gotten out of there alive." He smiled an earnest smile. The woman who was hurt back at the warehouse also thanked him. "I don't know how to thank you, I may never be able to repay your kindness." She sobbed and hugged him.

"Woah-oh-oh, ah, no problems." He flashed an embarrassed smile, scratching the back of his neck. He wasn't exactly used to having people touch him so freely. Nevertheless, he was graceful in accepting her heartfelt thanks.

He had a second to analyze every other faces present:

There was a young woman with short blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin.

A man with chestnut hair, a long, side swept fringe and something of a goatee.

Beside him stood a young woman with brown hair, strong chest and hips.

An African woman eyed him form head to toes with her yellowish eyes.

Right beside Chris, a lady, that looked something like him, her reddish hair were kept fairly short. He imagined they might have been related.

At the very end of the line stood a young man with cold grey eyes and a prominent scar across his left cheek...

Chapter Text

Morning shun across camp, warming the frigid air. Each and every soul had been awake since the break of dawn, kept awake by sordid nightmares; echoes of days past. Inside the biggest tent established, the agents met to discuss the day's schedule, at times their voice raised, clearly there was some manner of discongruity. No one could blame them, the situation at hand called for drastic measures and the burden seemed to theirs alone. Cut off from the big city, their communication network had been fragmented. They had remotely no idea how bad things were over there. What's a raised tone in the face of adversity?

Meanwhile, Wesker had other things on his mind, notably; the hitch in his throat, the shake in his knee. He longed for the taste of strong liquor and the liberating effects of nicotine. He ran his fingers across his long hair, brushing them back in a lax fashion, the rubber band keeping them together had broken under the cold. He had not forgotten about the lick of Whiskey he carried around, he knew he could probably get a tad woozy if only he knocked it back all at once. But now wasn't the time to display bad habits, he had yet to prove himself to the others, and besides, the foul liquid had become something of a treasured possession. Like a photography one would keep on himself to remind him of home. Rubbing his hands together he brought them near the fire's warmth, he remembered the cuts around his wrists, surely they had yet to heal. He removed the bandages, convinced he could get Rebecca to replace them. A frown painted itself over his visage; their were no wounds there... Maybe the darkness had tricked his mind? But then he wouldn't have the bandages... He inspected the skin where the tears should have been, indeed, there was no sign of injury.

"I'm adamant my wrists were cut... How?" His confusion equaled only the incredulous look in his eyes.

"Is something wrong?" A woman's voice reached out to him.

Instinctively he covered his wrists, as though trying to conceal them. "Ah, it's nothing." He flash a faint smile.

It was Sherry, a pink dust lingered on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. Still a cold breeze blew. She sat beside him.

"Are you holding up alright? I know some of us have been giving you the cold shoulder." She couldn't help but glance over at Jake, whom still conversed with the others.

"Life goes on." He let out a short laugh, the smile lingered.

The young woman hesitated, obviously she had something on her mind.

"Are YOU holding up alright might be the more appropriate question." He noticed.

She snapped out of her thought, dismissing the remark with a wave of her hand and a forced giggle. "Oh! No, no I'm fine." She sighed, pulling away form the embarrassment. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Do you remember anything? Anything at all? Where you come from, maybe?" She had this weird shine in her eyes, like a vain hope.

"I'm sorry, the first thing I remember is waking up in an old bar. That's it." He made a sorry grin.

"I see, that's alright, hopefully it'll get back to you." She got up and waved a small goodbye. That wasn't much in the way of conversation, but the lone mercenary was content nonetheless. It was good to know not everyone here wished for his head on a pike.

Finally the lots of them left the tent together, heading towards the fire where most of the refugees and soldier had gathered, the old cowboy remained isolated. Granted, some of the rescued hostages had tried to convince him to join them, be it with a wave of the hand or subtle meets-of-the-eyes. But Wesker ignored them, he wasn't proper company in the mornings; fresh out of his nightmarish escapade into fragmented pieces of memory. He wanted to ponder them a while longer, alone, if at all possible. But he felt the constant pressure of eyes judging form afar.

Around the biggest pit, they cooked rations for everyone. Their stocks were limited and everyone remained unfulfilled. Albert stared a the dancing flames, something about it terrified him... But its beauty consumed his curiosity. Every little things felt new and old at the same time, a strange sense of familiarity lingered around things he had never seen, things he had never experienced. One again he was dragged back into reality; by Chris this time.

"Here." He handed him a mug of clean water and a plate of rations.

"Thanks." He accepted gladly.

"You know... You don't have to keep astray from everyone." He hesitated, he wasn't exactly comfortable having him around but the though of purposely isolating the man bothered him. There was a lot of conflicting emotions shoving around in the captain's head.

"I'm alright, don't worry about me. I'll ease myself into the group eventually." He reassured him through a hint of sadness. Ever since he had regained consciousness, he felt alone in a world full of people...

"Well... Don't hesitate." Chris turned heel and rejoined with his comrades. Soon, everyone would be put to task; gathering supplies was fast becoming top priority and so the group would be fragmented to raid the old warehouse for anything they could use.

Wesker remembered his rusty mount.

--

Carried by the B.S.A.A's vehicles the group reached the devastated warehouse, the flames had subsided, the dust was far carried and snow had let itself inside.

"Alright listen up." Chris raised his voice solemnly. "Spread out and search for essentials; preserved food, gasoline, bandages... You get the idea. We're meeting back here in an hour." The orders were given and everyone obeyed. Some duos formed automatically; Leon and Helena, Jake and Sherry, Jill and Chris. The others either went on their own or grouped up; Claire, Sheva and Rebecca formed a team, the men and women from the hostage situation, and others... The disheveled wanderer was once again left alone, he decided to go in search of gas. He could use it to revive old Betty.

Rebecca looked over at him, a concerned look in her eye as she too, walked away.

--

Siphoning metallic carcasses out of their last droplet of gas proved profitable work. Soon his can would be full to the brink! Lady luck was indeed back by his side. Whistling old tunes he fulfilled his task, when something else captured his attention... A woman stumbled awkwardly through the snow, bare footed and clearly injured; she walked away from him, seemingly unaware of his presence.

"Hey!" He called out to her.

She kept on walking.

"Hey! You!" He called again, this time setting aside his petrol can and siphon, jogging towards her. "Are you alright?" In no time he close the distance. "Miss?"

She kept on gurgling, like blood stuck in her throat.

He reached out for her shoulder. "You should come with me, we have a medical team and-" He hadn't finished his sentence that her teeth buried themselves deep in his forearm. He pulled away reflexively, tearing flash away. She gnawed on the bloody chunk between her teeth.

"You've got to be kidding me!" He held onto his injury, blood flooding through the gaps of his fingers. "Bitch bit my fucking arm!" He shouted outrageously to himself. He took a few steps back, the woman swallowed the flesh and launched forward; yearning for more. Cuts, burn and bruises covered her entire body. Her clothes were shredded, revealing parts of her body; her pants were torn from the knees down, her shirt barely held together: displaying her stomach and part of her breasts. Conflicted, Wesker kept on dodging her attacks. She was rather slow but relentless. "Enough! Stay back!" Since Chris had seized his weapons he had nothing in the way of intimidation. He also had yet to understand his predicament... he thought maybe hunger had driven this woman mad. "Did you not hear me? We can help you dammit!" Still, his arm bled. The commotions was sure to have garnered attention by now. She launched again, he slipped on a patch of ice and she dug her teeth deep into his shoulder, the pain awakened something inside him... something primal... and he saw red.

Tearing away once again he stumbled further towards the cars, grabbing hold of a rusty pipe, once she came again he swung it right into her nose. The impact nearly blew her brains out. "Fucking bitch!" She was on the floor, barely moving, but he swung again, and again... and again.

"Wesker stop!" The others had found him. Chris violently pulled him away from the corpse, holding his shoulders he forced his eyes into his. "Enough! She's gone! You're fine!"

The fiery iris burned wildly, hatred tainted their shine.

"You're fine." he repeated, more gently this time, as to sooth him.

Finally he regained his senses, shaking away the blinding rage. "Wha-what?" He barely remembered the occurrence; a red river, bite marks, a corpse and a bloody pipe was all that remained. His face displayed an innocent confusion. "What happened?" He was covered in blood; his own and hers...

Chris eyed the bite marks and came to his own conclusions. "She was infected, she attacked you."

"Infected?" He repeated, looking over at his bloodied hands.

"You had no choice. She was already gone." He assumed he might be feeling remorseful. Still, his behavior just now was a matter of concern.

"I killed her." His face distorted into a tormented grimace. The memory was blurry... but he remembered something felt divinely good... he couldn't fathom what and it scared him.

"Alright, I'll get him back to camp, you guys continue with the search."

"Hold a moment." It was Rebecca. "I'll get back with him and treat his wounds, you're better off staying here."

"But-" Obviously most everyone was nervous at the idea. Leaving her alone with him didn't seem wise.

"I'm a grown woman Chris, I'll handle this." She grabbed Wesker and gently guided him. He was still in shock. Soon, they departed.

"Captain-" Piers talked. "Are you sure it's alright?"

"Let's wrap things up quickly here."

--

And so they did, back at the camp things were quiet. Indeed, it seemed Wesker and Rebecca had struck conversation. It was as though nothing had happened.

"They sure get along." Jake spat bitterly.

Sherry knew under all that resentment was curiosity. Was that man his father? Could a part of him be salvaged? What of his memories? There was too many doubts.

"Don't be like that, she's only being kind."

"Yeah, yeah..." He carried some of the salvaged away with him.

Rebecca seemed to halt her conversation and walked towards Chris and the others to turn in her report.

"So? How are things?" Chris was obviously cautious.

"He's alright now. Listen, I know why you're concerned but I still think we should give him a chance. Besides, we were lucky. If it had been anyone but him we might have lost someone today, try to see it that way." She offered valid explanations.

"Alright." He nodded, conceding her point.

"One more thing, whether he is the Wesker we knew or not, his regenerative capabilities are clearly enhanced. His wounds are closed already, and he noticed. He did ask me about it but I didn't really know what to say, so I just said I'd look into it. Seems to me he doesn't know about his abilities either."

"Alright, thanks Rebecca."

The group busied themselves with different tasks while the old cowboy rested. At some point he peeked out of the medical tent, with something in his hands, he came to sit by the fire... and a song filled the air. Rummaging through junk, one of the soldiers had found an old guitar and decided to bring it back with him, it somehow ended up in his possession. No one knew he could play... The melody was soft and melancholic but soothing all the same. It was a welcome surprise, it brought about hidden smiles and lulled the sun into hiding.

--

That night everyone ate together, Wesker seemed almost desperate to forget the incident. Blurting out jokes, playing guitar... he reached out to the others hoping they would reach out to him, he wanted these little things to make sense, to fulfill his heart so that he never would have to face that violent, spiteful part of himself ever again. He battled the need to drown his silent sorrows with alcohol, hiding it all behind a smile and a couple of reassuring words. Still, his fingers danced on the instrument, and everyone forgot the gruesome spectacle, signing to the moon...

Chapter Text

Silence reigned around camp, most every souls now dreamed, only one of the three fires kept on burning. Sitting close to it; Chris warmed his cold hands, his rifle resting in his lap. A chill lingered in his spine, restlessness occupied his thoughts. There was so many things to worry about, so many people to care for and the responsibility of all those lived weighted heavily upon his shoulders. Doubt was everywhere, and there was very little to comfort a man in this desolated place. The thought bothered him, it surely wasn't the time to think about that, much less long for it...

A sigh escaped his lips, he gazed at the stars. There were so many... Away from the city, their dying light reached their sky.

"Beautiful, huh."

A voice came from behind him, making Chris Jump.

"Ever since I first got out into the world, I keep catching myself lost in those." Fiery irises met his eyes; it was Wesker.

"The stars?"

"That too." He answered playfully.

The ambiguous response flustered the captain. Uncertain what he was implying. The man's newfound lack of seriousness kept catching him off guard.

The old mercenary too, took a seat by the fire; humming almost inaudibly.

"You're in a good mood." The uplifting attitude proved to be somewhat contagious. But guilt seeped into his heart, along with a hint of jealousy. How could he stay so calm after everything that happened.

"The day is what you make it... or the night... or- You get the idea." He joked again.

"Easier said than done." His thoughts kept pulling him elsewhere.

"You know-" Wesker started, taking out of his pocket; a carton of cigarettes. "-there is no time like the present. Things are calm enough now, might as well enjoy it." A dancing flame came to ignite the poison. "Do you smoke?" He offered him one of the cancer sticks.

"I'll take one." No matter how many times he tried to stop, something always brought it back into his life. "Where did you get those anyway?"

"I found some earlier, while I was looking for gas." He didn't mention the incident.

They smoked in silence for a while, gazing over dead stars whose light had yet to be forgotten.

"You're not what I expected." Chris finally said.

"I get that a lot." He chuckled somewhat ironically. "You're not what I expected either." The cigarette burned.

Once more the captain's interest piqued. "What DID you expect?" He asked, curious.

"The way you hear it, on the radio and on the TV: You're a real american hero. Turns out: you're human just like the rest of us." He crushed the remnants into ashes.

Chris huffed a humorless laugh. "Disappointed yet?" He thought about all the men and women looking up to him. The fear of letting them down always preyed in corners of his mind.

"No." He lit another cigarette and made the smoke twirl against the cold wind in a burning exhale. "I think it's reassuring. If you were some sort of super hero, then the enemy would seem like some sort of god. That'd make things worse. You're setting up an example for normal people, telling them: 'You can make a difference'. Which is pretty amazing." He laid back against the snow, gazing effortlessly at the sky.

His words stayed with Chris, it was high commendation but there was something sinister behind the scenes of that beautiful compliment. The word: god, meant something more when spoken with that man's voice.

A disturbed silence hung upside down.

"Can I ask you something Chris?"

"Uh?" He snapped out of his thoughts. "What is it?"

"If it turns out I'm not what you think I am... What will you do?" The question was a serious one, contrasting the light charisma he had sustained until now.

"I-" He didn't quite know what to say.

"Ah forget it!" The interrogation was receded when Wesker hopped back on his feet, throwing away the unfinished cigarette into the fire. "And here I was lecturing you about the present and all that posh." He laughed, a hint of sadness hidden carefully. "I'm heading back to sleep, you should too... captain." He winked, whistling on his way back to his tent.

Chris remained alone beside the fire a while longer before heading back to sleep too, something in his heart was torn.

--

Morning came and everyone shared a respectable meal, it wasn't enough to quench their hunger entirely but it was welcome. Only one man missed the rallying call of breakfast, and around the fire his absence was noticed.

"Where's the old man?" Jake asked first.

No one had seen him this morning.

"Maybe he's still sleeping." Chris knew they shared little rest. "I'll go check it out."

He called once, then twice. Both time unanswered he pushed open the tent, revealing nothing but an empty sleeping bag and a dormant oil lamp.

"He's not here." He reported to the others.

Doubt was quick to murmur rumors, was it a mistake to leave him unattended?

"We shouldn't wait on him to go back. Let's send a squad to look for him immediately." Piers suggested.

"Right."

The agents decided on going, the rest of the soldiers and the civilians would stay and survey the camp. While the others packed, Rebecca noticed a trail of boot prints in the snow.

"Chris!" She called.

After she had shared her discovery, the group set out. Following the trail for a while, before the wind had completely erased it. Having reached an impasse, the leader spoke.

"Alright, he can't have gone far, let's split up and rejoin here in an hour." He tied, around a branch; a piece of red tape. There was no time to loose and no need for teams. There set out each on their own.

--

Going up and down steep hills, docking between branches, his boots hitting the snow; Chris ran short on patience. He was angry, concerned, maybe even worried all at once. Mumbling to himself he noticed, a few meters away, smoke... no, steam, coming up to the sky. He wasn't certain it was pertinent but he decided to investigate it. He was surprised to discover a small pond of water, just laying there under a tiny water fall. The current was weak and the pleasant sound filled the air. Beside it resided a small fire and a familiar set of clothes.

"Wesker?" He was about to call out when he noticed the man basking in hot water. with his hair tied higher than usual, he scooped some of the warm liquid; splashing it onto his nape. Once again Chris opened his mouth to call out to him but froze when the man got up. Water slid around his shape, his skin as pale as the snow, his muscles subtly drawn and highlighted. There was no denying it; it was a beautiful sight. Snapping out of it, the captain looked away. Hiding behind a tree, waiting on his comrade to finish. He had not intended to intrude his privacy nor to spy on him.

"Chris?"

Fuck.

"Um, yeah?" His tone wavered in embarrassment.

"Are you hiding?" There was a thundering laugh.

Chris cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were here I just happened to see you." He struggled a bit. "We were worried, so we went looking for you. You should have told someone you were heading out at least." Scolding him lightened his blush. He was still behind the tree, looking over his own boots.

"Ah, right. Sorry about that." It was obvious he was still amused. "I just went out for a walk and found this place." He paused. "Why are you still hiding, I know you're there." He laughed again.

"Well, you're not exactly dressed." He accused.

"It's fine I'm dressed now." He lied.

Chris fell for it and got flustered immediately, hiding right back, adorning a fierce blush. He hadn't seen anything really, since Wesker was still seated in the water but for some reason his heart kept on beating loudly. "Dammit, you're a fucking child." He mumbled against the childish prank.

Another laugh. "My, my. Last time you saw me half naked didn't affect you that much."

Righ, "half naked".

"Anyway, get dressed, we need to head back." He tried to change the subject.

"Right, right. Would you mind fetching my clothes for me?"

The captain regained his composure and obliged. "Here." He continuously looked elsewhere. Once Wesker Stepped out of the water, he was quick to hide him behind the clothes.

"Thanks." He quite enjoyed Chris's reaction, he thought about teasing him further but they were interrupted by the others. All barging in at once.

"Woah!" Jake exclaimed. "Are we interrupting something?" He couldn't help the joke.

The girls in the group all got somewhat flustered.

Chris was about to furiously deny it when Wesker spoke first. "Who knows." He smirked, finally getting dressed, one thing was for certain; this man knew no shame.

Finally the captain could put the incident behind him. "Okay, enough. Let's head back, we need to get things ready."

"Where are we going?" Albert asked, undoing his hair and tying them once again.

"We're heading for the city, we need to know what's the situation out there."

All of sudden the mood became heavy, it was true that they couldn't stay out here forever. One day or another they would have to assess the loss and damages... and that time was nigh.

Chapter Text

The fires burned no more, already the ashes laid under a thin blanket of snow. Nothing remained of the camp; but half a burned cigarette, a bloody bandage and fading footprints. Still the warm song of engines could be heard in the distance, but for how long? Soon the forest would reclaim this space and silence would reign undisputed once more.

Looking back, out the window, the old mercenary watched as the scenery changed. He felt like a bird whose cage was transported away from home; out to see new horizon but always from behind the bars of his tiny little cage... He held on tight to his guitar, each passing tree felt like a wavering step over the edge. Not once did he blink, they drove past old Betty and once, she too, disappeared his eyes finally closed.

"Are you alright?" A concerned whisper reached his ear.

"Yeah... I'm fine." He whispered back, forcing a smile.

Rebecca's hand closed on his, grasping it softly. He returned the gesture, welcoming her lithe fingers inside his rugged palm as he squeezed gently. Her hand seemed so small inside of his...

"Remember that we're here for you, okay?"

Their eyes met.

"You're not alone anymore." She smiled warmly.

"Thank you Rebecca." His expression softened, and he smiled truly.

Their hands parted and she found herself missing the warmth...

Chris kept his eyes on the road, leading the small convoy. Jill sat beside him with her eyes closed, wearing a peaceful expression. No one spoke after that, the sun coursed through the sky, the moon came out of hiding and the stars shone once more. Rebecca too fell asleep, her head came resting on Wesker's shoulder and he let her be. She kept on sighing softly, lulled into pleasant dreams by the shared warmth. The captain's eyes met with Albert's in the mirror, they exchanged an amused smile.

--

They stopped twice, both times to pump more gas into the reservoir and once to exchange drivers. Wesker now sat behind the wheels, Chris sat beside him and the girls sat in the back. Now awake and slightly rested, they reveled in idle talk, enjoying a moment of complicity. A few cars started to appear, every last one of them heading out of the city, these ghosts laid forgotten in the middle of the road. The more distance they covered, the more of these empty husks they found blocking the streets but not a soul to behold...

"Where is everyone?" The disheveled cowboy asked.

It became obvious there had been an attack on the city, but that didn't explain the emptiness of it's streets. Whole highways closed off in hurried panic, they could see the tall buildings, reaching for the sky, in the distance...

"Let's hope for survivors." Chris's voice was bleak, sorry and disheartened. Both girls cast their eyes on the ground, they understood the weight of his words.

"Survivors?!" Albert's voice raised in outrage. "You're saying that like everyone's dead. It hasn't been that long, how bad could it really be?" His fingers danced on the wheels, he spoke denying the evidence laid plain before him. "You have your guys over there too, right? I'm sure they're hold up somewhere... People probably abandoned their cars because the streets went to hell. I did that too, yeah?" He looked over at Chris, eyed the mirror for the girl's approval but no one met his gaze. He fell silent, he knew now that he knew nothing of the horrors awaiting them...

--

They entered the metropolis without meeting resistance, In the car behind them; Piers busied himself trying to make contact with someone, anyone, over the radio... he was met with nothing but silence. Everyone wondered; about their family, their friends and their loved ones.

The roamed the street aboard their vehicles for a while, the empty streets displayed scenes of carnage; blood, incinerated vehicles, trash scattered to the four winds. And still; no one...

"Head for the Boulevard-" Chris showed Wesker the way. "We're heading straight for HQ." There they might be given insights.

Over at the last turn, Wesker hit the break abruptly. The cars behind him barely avoided a collision.

"What's wrong?!" Piers's voice came through the radio once again.

Chris's gaze met Wesker's with an interrogation.

"There's something up ahead." He pointed towards the boulevard with his head held low, like he was hiding.

Indeed, the street seem occupied, cleaner than most and more importantly; lit. The whole city district was out of juice, but this once street, this one building; still basked in light. Armored vehicles; painted black, were parked around HQ, forming a perimeter. Fences had been raised and guards were patrolling the area, Wesker recognized them immediately.

"Those are the same soldiers we met at the warehouse." He talked quietly.

"Dammit..." Chris understood the implications; it meant they had lost their base, their equipment and their communication gear to the enemy.

They relayed the information to the rest of the group and turned back, they would have to find a safe spot where they could deploy their intelligence network once again... and a tad better if at all possible.

They worried the missing afflicted were merely hiding from sight, they needed to choose carefully. Sherry came up with a brilliant idea, which she relayed over the radio. Not far from here, in a more residential district was a campus. Surely they'd be able to lay low over there, while benefiting from plenty of space and a independent electrical system. They headed there without delay. Seemingly, lady luck was willing to grant them one of her favors. The building looked abandoned, much like everything else in that blasted city...

The convoy parked their vehicle in the underground parking lot, which was, fortunately enough, left open. They barricaded it behind them, leaving no room for suspicion.

They disembarked, planning to take a good look around before unloading their trucks. They needed to make sure the establishment was safe and secure.

"Nice enough place." Jake blurted, stepping out of the vehicle. Upon hitting the floor he offered his hand to the lady behind him.

Sherry gracefully accepted the hand presented to her before she too; disembarked. "Let's hope we're alone in here." She felt guilty at the thought, hoping for survivor was part of her job, but right now she hoped for respite above all else.

They scouted the campus, surprisingly enough, it was completely empty. Like the whole world fell empty all of sudden... the ensued silence was unsettling. With their minds at ease, as much as they could be; given the circumstances, they proceeded to take what little they had left out of the jeeps. Fortunately enough, the campus boasted rooms and beds, appealing to a good night of sleep. But Chris, felt he had no right to rest, he kept wondering what more he could do. In the middle of the night? In a city occupied by hostile forces? Not much.

He sighed heavily. "I'm going to take a stroll in the neighborhood. I want to have a look around before sunlight." Without pause, he headed towards the exit, the very same garage door they had gotten in from.

"Chris wait." It was Jill. "I'll go with you."

He agreed silently, granting her permission to tag along. Not that she required it...

"Be careful you two." Claire smiled, albeit a little sadly.

Her brother returned her smile in a comforting fashion, and the both of them disappeared through the door.

Albert leaned in against the car, lighting a cigarette. How many had he smoked by now? He smelled of tobacco and uncertainty. His foot kept on tapping to the beat of a dancing knee. He could inhale as much as the smoke as he liked... but it'd never replace the taste of strong liquor, which he sorely needed. He felt the ache in his bones, the strain in his nerves. At times he could feel a drop or two of cold sweat running down his spine, and the urge to bite... like nothing else could calm him down. Now was such a moment.

"Care for a stroll." Rebecca approached him. Of course, with her medical knowledge, she had figure he suffered from withdrawal. "A bowl of fresh air ought to work wonders." She smiled, her kindness knew no limits, he thought.

Offering meager thanks was all he could manage right now; not a smile, nor a joke... He craved the burning sensation of alcohol and the power to forget all that worried him. They walked together, making way for the roof. There, they'd be able to enjoy the cold breeze, away from prying eyes. Besides, there was something she wished to ask him. Going up flight of stairs in silence, they eventually reached the promise of a cold breeze. The moon hung low in the sky, it wouldn't be long before the sun would shine once more. To think they had spent a whole day on the road, and to meet with so dark premise...

"I never set foot in such a silent city-" She started, "-so dark and dead... This is a first for everyone." She knew of his anxiety, for someone whom had forgotten everything and spent what little time he remembered away from civilization; she could only imagine the shock. She wanted him to know, that everyone share his discomfort. This was no mere city to behold, but a proper nightmare. For each and every last of them, no matter the form it might take. She sat be the edge. "A glimpse of light; wherever the eye might land, a car through the night; no matter how calm the neighborhood. That's how this city used to be. And now look at it... a bloody cemetery." She paused. "But that's why we're here. To make sure everything goes back to normal." Hope glowed in her eyes.

They shared another moment in silence, Wesker thought about the burden that she was meant to carry, being the only medic in the squad. And in their shared hardship, the felt they had someone to confide in.

"Thank you Rebecca." He managed to let out a short laugh, "I'm glad you're here, at times I feel like I shouldn't be here, like I don't belong. It's nice to know you have my back." He finished his cigarette, throwing it down into the night. "And I got yours." He smiled and fell back to lean against a wall.

She giggled. "Thanks."

"I'm wondering though..."

"Yes?" Her eyes met his.

"Why is it that you're so accepting of me? The others have yet to lower their guards I think. It's just... I don't know, you were quick to welcome me. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you." He eyed the distance, it wasn't easy to bring up such sensitive subjects.

There was a long pause, during which he thought it might have been a mistake to ask. But she finally answered.

"I was taught a lesson long ago... To never judge a book by its cover." She thought about Billy, and what the name; Wesker, used to stand for.

"Well-" He lit yet another one cigarette. "-It's a fine principle." He had a feeling he shouldn't pry too much, it was enough that she would open her heart to him, here and now.

"Now let me ask you something." Now that he felt better, she figured the time was right to dig through his unforgotten past. "Tell me, what were your days like before you came to find us?"

A sore subject indeed.

"I spent my whole days drinking away... And I mean this literally. The first thing I remember is a an empty space, my feet dragging on burning sand, a merciless sun. The next I'm hearing voices; I have no idea what they're saying, but I remember feeling scared. Then, I'm running on cold metal, pulling plugs out of my veins. The last, I wake up in an old bed and there's that old lady; plump around the waist with her ridiculously strong accent." He smiled remembering this last bit. "Telling me; (and he took her accent): 'You rest up honey.' as she hands me a glass of water." He paused, allowing a fair bit of toxin into his lungs. "After that, no matter how hard I racked my brain, there was nothing. And so I just drowned it all under gallons of vodka, whiskey... you name it. I'd drink until I couldn't stand on my own two feet, smoke like a chimney, sleep on her bar and do it all again the next day. In a never ending loop... and yet, she never threw me out." He missed that old lady.

Some of the things he said stayed with her but she decided she would ponder them later. She pressed him for more; "And what about your dreams? Often times, dreams serve as a window into the subconscious. Perhaps parcels of your memory still lingers there."

The weight of her words was crushing, remembering his nightmares, the lone cowboy could only wish they'd stay forever in the realms of fantasy. "Whenever I close my eyes I have these disgusting nightmares..." His head started to hurt. "I see nothing but blood, I hear nothing but whispers and dead silences-" His vision started to blur. "-I don't want to talk about it." He quickly shut down the conversation, whenever he'd think about these things, he'd feel this oppressing pain upon his chest and something... Something he could only describe as dark hand reaching out to cover his eyes.

"It's alright, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stir up bad emotions, let's stop here for tonight." She reached for his hand once more, just like earlier. Her gloved fingers met with the bare skin of his hand. Suddenly feeling quite annoyed at herself, she wished for him to grab hers back gently and stay like this. Though she knew it was wrong... but with so much going on, she felt she needed the proximity.

"Rebecca?" He asked, somewhat confused, after noticing her troubled expression.

Exhausted and at the end of her wits, she crossed a line she never suspected she could step over. Hopping off on her feet she rammed into his arm for a tight embrace. Obviously, it took the old merc by surprise, his thoughts in a spin he didn't react immediately. Leaving room for another misstep. She looked up to him, and laid a gentle kiss on his lips. This time, Wesker was quick to react. He grabbed her shoulders and put some distance between them, albeit a little roughly, for which he apologized. She cast her eyes on the floor, aware of her miscalculation.

"I'm sorry." She muttered. A tear hanging from her eye.

"Please, don't apologize." He let go of her. "I'm touched, really." He laughed gently. "But I'm an old and bartered soul with a troubled past." His lips wore a comforting smile, "It'd be a shame to waste your time on me." He ruffled her hair with his imposing hand, like a father would do.

"Did someone else catch your eye perhaps?" She laughed, remembering the scene beside the pond.

"Who knows." He winked playfully.

She didn't feel so distressed anymore, they shared a laugh, brushing the incident off and returned to the others. While she felt slightly dejected, she couldn't hold it against him, there was obviously a bumpy road ahead of them.

Chapter Text

Out into the empty streets surrounding the campus, Chris and Jill took a stroll, surveying the area. They never noticed how busy the city used to be, the silence was unreal; bothersome. They could hear the other breath and their own heart pounding, even the wilderness boasted further company. A thousand inhabitants had left their homes in a hurry, leaving their dinners on the table still, their favorite book; open face down, as to not loose the page. Somewhere; a shower bathed empty space, elsewhere; a mattress remembered the shapes of a couple. In some courtyard laid three half-burned steaks and an abandoned kennel... patches of fur tainted with blood remained attached to a broken collar, its medal reading; Zodiac. Newfound silence and yet, they still had room for surprise. They never knew how dark the world was without its neons. The meager light of some hundreds of dead stars now guided their path, in symphony with their moon. Out of the shadows, they could make out their exhale; turning into smoke before vanishing. A thin layer of snow cracked under their feet.

"I thought nothing could surprise me anymore..." A gentle voice broke the stillness.

"You an me both." Chris whispered.

Surrounded by ghosts, unable to raise their voices above the stilt silence.

"To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of-" She hesitated, "Wesker..."

"We're bound to find out, sooner or later."

"Chris?" She called softly.

"Yes?"

"Have we ever fought the same Wesker twice?" She stopped walking, her eyes cast to the ground.

A few steps further Chris halted, without looking back.

"Was there ever a 'real' Wesker in the first place?" Her fists clenched.

The man remained silent.

"What if it never stops? What if we failed to identify the real threat? I worry sometimes, that we've been playing into the hands of something lurking in the shadows." Her voice was somewhat unsteady, it wasn't like her to despair, but long had she reached past the breaking point.

"Jill..." He turned around, closing the distance.

"What if we failed to help him?" She looked at him straight in the eyes.

"Help him?" he repeated, taken aback.

"Wesker... the man whom you brought back with you. He has the same face, the same voice, the same eyes... but that's it. I never even imagined I'd hear a joke, a song... He has a beautiful voice, so much personality, and such a sad glint in his eyes. What if... somehow, that's how he was meant to be, but never given the chance?"

Her partner froze, wide eyed.

"The truth is, whatever or whoever he really is; He reminds me of Jake. You'd tell me they were father and son and I'd believe it in a heart beat. Prior to meeting him, I didn't see much of Wesker in that kid." She wiped a tear off her eye before it could even drop. She wasn't quite sure what made her so emotional, and despite her frustration, she felt that with Chris she could be true and vulnerable.

The captain ignored the world a moment, opening his arms and welcoming his friend in a tight, much needed, embrace. She was tired and so was he.

"Maybe you're right, there's so little we know after all. But we'll clean up this mess once and for all, I promise." He broke the hug, met her eyes, and smiled warmly.

She returned his smile; "Thank you, partner."

They agreed to head back, they wouldn't want to worry the others.

On their way there, Chris let out a chuckle.

"What?" She asked, curious.

"It's true he's just like Jake uh." He thought back on what she said. "Frankly, I can't decide if it's endearing or irritating." He let out another laugh.

She laughed too, and they shared a moment's peace in much needed respite.

--

Back at the safe house, Wesker laid in bed. having found a room to call his in the dormitory. Far off into the corridor, somewhat isolated form everyone else, but still within earshot; should something happen. The room closest to his was Rebecca's, and the door across hers was the infirmary. He had chosen this one, out of all the others, because of the posters on the wall. Clearly, whomever resided there before the incident, had some taste in music. Sting, Toto, The Beatles, Eagles, Queen... Countless little homages to timeless legends. So many, actually, that the walls were almost completely covered. From the ceiling hung arrangements of lights; reminiscent of the night sky. While the others had gone for the more sober rooms, he; needed some individuality. The thought of inhabiting someone else's quarters made them uneasy, forcing them to ponder fate. No such worries for one whom never had a home. Besides, the faces on the walls filled a void in his heart... He couldn't stand being alone anymore.

Taking his eyes off the ceiling, he sat on the bed, opening the window beside it. Lighting yet another smoke he gazed at the stars through the net... yet another cage. Despite Rebecca's friendship, he felt trapped; behind walls, behind the veil of his own mind. He breathed in the cold air sifting through the open space; trying to live by her advice. And yet, whenever he was left alone; he craved another poison.

"Blast it all..."

He crushed his cigarette, letting his back fall onto the bed. He heard once Chris and Jill came from their midnight stroll, it put him in a strange mood. Like jealousy... tainted with rage and impatience.

"I need to calm down. It's the withdrawal speaking, nothing else..." He tried convincing himself. He hated having answers to nothing besides his own wants.

The others talked and moved things through the building for a while, before everyone went to bed. Once silence reigned his mind scrutinized the darkness, grasping at shadows and dead whispers. He tossed and turned, unable to find sleep, sweating a cold sweat; his teeth chattering.

"Calm down, calm down..." He kept repeating. "Shh, it's alright." His words bore little comfort. "You don't need it, just light another smoke..." A shaking hand reached for an empty pack of cigarettes. Biting his fist he repressed an angry shout, grunting loudly instead, remaining conscious of those around him. He had no desire to bring attention to himself... not now. Fangs digging into flesh; drew blood. The taste of metal spread to his tongue.

Amidst the chaos inside his head, hisses found his ear.

"Uh?"

Releasing his hand, he searched the room with his eyes, hoping to identify the commotion. Moonlight kissed the black scales of a snake creeping from under the bed. Wesker stepped back unconsciously, bumping against the wall. The reptile crawled in a circle; its eyes fiery... just like his. Opening its large jaw the snake took in his mouth its own tail... gobbling itself in what would be an unending cycle. This froze Albert's blood in his veins, suddenly overcome by the urge to vomit he left the room running. Blasting through the restroom; further down the corridor. He fell down to his knees and gagged multiple times; but nothing came. His throat felt stuck, like something was trying to crawl its way out. He clawed at his neck, his breaths short.

"Dammit!" He roared.

Forcing his fingers down his throat he regurgitated a black gooey mess... The grotesque mass continued to move frantically a few seconds, like it had a mind of its own, but eventually stopped. Seemingly melting into the water.

His breathing unsteady, panicked, and his whole body trembling he made his way back onto his feet. Staggering unsteadily to the sink, grabbing the frame for support, he looked up at the mirror... His complexion was horrendous, dark circles under his eyes, his pupils dilated... his hair falling tangled on the side of his face and his beard; tainted with the black substance. He reached for his visage, like to confirm it was truly his reflection, when the glass mirrored his movements he broke down into crying, insane, laughter... Sobbing silently. He wished the building, like the others, would have no light, so that he would have never seen himself in that mirror...

In the door frame Jake stood silently, having witnessed the scene... once his father curled into a corner, he left without a word.

--

An hour went by before he could stand on his own without difficulty, finally he was calm. Ridding the room of the evidences he left for the showers. He was fortunate enough to have made it in time to the restrooms, his clothes were clean, or as clean as they could given the current events. He rid himself of everything and stepped under a beam of hot water. His eyes closed, he took in the sensations, feeling the warmth around his body. His complexion regained some of its color, if always pale. Steam stagnated around him, surrounding him in a comforting fog. No less than half-an-hour went by before he had the courage to step out of the burning water. With nothing but a towel hanging from his hips he made his way back to the mirrors, here he had intended to shave. He inspected his visage once again, turning to eye his profile, a hand passing through his beard. Earlier, he had stumbled upon an electric razor, and held onto it. With this he could trim and tidy his disheveled appearance. The deed done, he looked refreshed, his hair; clean, flowed harmoniously backward. Rummaging through his pocket he took out a handful of rubber bands and tied his hair in a bun. A last look into the mirror revealed a unscathed man, nothing transpired. He forced a smile;

"Hello handsome." Laughing humorlessly he left for his room where he fell into the bed, after finding nothing in his search for the mysterious reptile... An exhausted smile on his lips as he thought: "I must be loosing my mind.." a weak chuckle marked the end of an eventful night.

Chapter Text

Albert enjoyed very little sleep that night closing his eyes last and re-opening them first. What little respite he did enjoy was plagued with blood filled nightmares. Crawling out of bed he whipped the drowsiness away. Dragging along his feet, he made way for the cafeteria. Put into evidence, on one of the tables, were rations; a little note placed well in sight.

"Help yourself! These are yours from last night.

-Rebecca"

A smirk pulled the side of his mouth, it was true he had skipped yesterday's dinner. Knowing he had someone to worry about him doused his burning heart. He would have to repay her kindness someday. Juggling the can back and forth playfully, he paced for the oven, whistling. After getting his hands on an tin opener he slapped the metal container on the hot surface. It wouldn't take a minute. It was a menial task, quite simple really, yet he was somewhat nervous. It was his first time in a kitchen, not that he would admit it. True, he had 'cooked' on open flames before, but the restraints of the imposing machine made him uneasy. What if he had underestimated it? He continuously eyed its surface for a sign. He waved his hand above it, perplex. It was becoming hotter and hotter... He was resolute to step away from the infernal design as soon as his soup would start to bubble. Any minute now... Muffling his silly anxieties, he hummed an improvised melody.

"Slept well?" A voice came from behind.

Jumping out of his hide, the old cow-boy tried to play it off. He turned to face his company, laughing nervously at his own start. Somewhere along the way he managed to loose his smile, Jake was standing but a few feet away.

"Good morning." The young man talked gloomily, his arms crossed on his chest and his eyes cast onto the ground. Wesker had this lasting impression about Jake, like unspoken resentment.

Brushing off the initial shock he managed to regain his joviality. He didn't expect the young mercenary to initiate a conversation, but it was a pleasant surprise, perhaps even a tribute of goodwill.

"Good morning!" He chirped. "Slept well?"

Jake hummed a short reply, still he refused to meet his gaze. He came leaning on a counter, always maintaining a certain distance.

"You're up early." Wesker tried.

"You too."

The lone cowboy snorted a chuckle. Piquing the young man's curiosity.

"It's nothing, it's just that you sure have a gift for shooting down friendly banter." He continued to laugh.

The young man's brow furrowed, he flashed a sad expression. "I didn't mean it like that..." His heart was beating like crazy.

Acknowledging his misstep Albert scratched the back of his head, an awkward smirk on his lips. "Oh-uh... I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to make fun." He apologized, seeking to meet his interlocutor's eyes. The latter skillfully evaded every attempts.

"So... Jake right? Are you with the B.S.A.A or?"

"No, I'm-" He paused. "Your soup..."

"I'm sorry what?" The answer left him utterly confused; wearing a wide eyed expression.

"I think your soup is done." he pointed.

"Oh! Right!" Without thinking he tried to handle the tin with his hands bare and burned himself, spilling the hot liquid everywhere. Now he was really making a fool out of himself. "Fuck..." He whispered, refusing to meet the young man's gaze in turn. But then he heard it; his thundering laugh. Hanging on to his side, Jake laughed heartily, a radiant smile draw to his visage. Most people would have mistaken it from mockery, but Wesker felt relieved. Beyond that even, a warm fuzziness settled into place... The reasoning behind that blissful feeling eluded him completely, but he didn't care.

Whipping a tear away from his eye, Jake regained his composure, yet the smile lingered. "Are you alright?" He asked, slightly out of breath.

"Yeah- Any chance you'll ever let me live it down?" He chuckled.

"Not a chance." He replied with the smug raise of an eyebrow.

Intricately, the incident seemed to momentarily disperse the animosity about him. They cleaned the mess together, joking about it. Once it was done however, Jake seemed to close in on himself once again. Regaining this awkward timidity. Something felt different however, his demeanor was much more relax, and while he may not have been ready to use such familiarity yet, a wall certainly had been razed.

"Anyway, I'll leave you to it." Turning heel, the young man couldn't repress one last little smile; no doubt remembering the scene.

"Right, see you." Wesker offered the simple parting in a comforting voice, carefully implying that he wished for them to speak again.

The scarred mercenary acknowledged it and walked away, leaving him to yet another attempt at breakfast. Without distraction, Wesker managed his second attempt, paying close and undivided attention to his meal. Finally he could enjoy hot soup and bread. With no one to talk to, he had time to reminisce about the short meeting. While it was true that the display was a shameful one, Albert caught himself thinking that; to see that smile again, he would embarrass himself a thousand times more...

--

Once life regained its course, once the others were up, as well as the sun; things were quick to fall into place. Chris's men were assigned to guard duty, the civilians were given chores and simple tasks; such as maintenance. The agents were distributed various mission orders; Piers was to continue working on the comm, with Leon in tow to help. The latter wished to make contact with Hunnigan, if at all possible. The remaining were asked to scour the city for clues, ammunition, food... Everything they could possibly need. Divided in teams of two, as per their habit, these two-man squads formed naturally for the most part; Jake and Sherry, Chris and Jill. Those whose partners were busied elsewhere found a common streak; Helena teamed up with Sheva, and Claire and Rebecca formed their own team. All seemed well and good, except that the captain wasn't quite certain where to assign Wesker... Now that they were clearly in enemy territory it seemed reckless to let him off on his own.

"Wesker."
Chris approached the other man.

"Good morning, captain."
The mercenary whistled, obviously in an agreeable mood.

Chris struggled, it felt wrong to just shove him around in a team where he wasn't wanted...

"Yes?"

About to suggest he was to join himself and Jill, he was interrupted.

"If you don't mind, he can come with us."
It was Rebecca. That girl truly had a heart of gold... A slight problem though. She and Claire? Alone with Wesker? That didn't sit right with him. His discomfort was obvious.

I-uh... Don't know, are you certain?"
He didn't know where to look, now what to do with himself.

"Don't worry. We can take care of ourselves."
Claire spoke, a hint of mockery in her voice. She was making fun of her brother for being such a worrywart.

"Well, alright then. But you be careful, you hear?"
He flashed a glance over at his sister.

"Yeah, yeah."
She shooed him away.

Clearly he had outlived his welcome. He started walking away when he notice Wesker catching up to him.

"So Chris-"

"What is it?"

"We're pals right?"
He nonchalantly passed an arm around the other broad shoulders, arching his back to force the both of them down a little, and whispered in his ear.
"How about you give me my gear back? You know... My gun."
He smiled, like a kid trying to sweet-talk a teacher into giving back a confiscated item.

Chris maneuvered out of his grasp, a light blush on his cheek, he sure wasn't used to the closeness.
"Not a chance."
He snorted, like the implication itself was out of a fairy tale.
"Keep your wits about you, stay close to the girls and you'll be fine."

Annoyed, Wesker decided to enact a small revenge.
"Oh I can do that. Staying close, I mean."

The captain glared over his shoulder, unsure if he was teased or not, and was met with a playful wink.
"Keep yourself in check." He warned.

"Roger that."
A smug little smirk stuck on his lips.

Everyone were ready, and exited the building together. The doors closed behind them and they all exchanged small goodbyes.

"Be careful out there." Chris couldn't help but repeat himself.

"I'm always careful." Claire faked an offended gesture; her hand came resting over her heart.

"Right." Chris smiled warmly.
"You too Rebecca."

She nodded enthusiastically. Unless he was mistaken, she seemed rather smitten with Wesker... Always happy to have him by her side. He wasn't quite certain how he felt about that, his emotions were in a blur.

"What about me?"
Albert pretended to be hurt.

"You keep your hands to yourself."
Another warning, hinting at the joke he had made earlier.

Wesker sighed.
"I'm under appreciated."
He joked,clicking his tongue before turning heel and walking away slowly.

With a last nod to the girls, they parted. Everyone had something of a smile on their face, and knowingly or not, it was thanks to Wesker...

--

The stillness of the city made it easy work to collect food, blankets, medical supplies. But finding information would prove to be a lot more difficult, it was as though thousands of people had all but vanished. Leaving behind nothing but the remnants of their old life. Snow covered the streets, no passing cars to melt it and no one but them to sully it. They worried about that, what if the forces at play against them noticed? It would lead them right back to their improvised HQ. And that's why they chose to rummage homes instead of stores, walking the main streets would prove far too dangerous. The trio only hoped the others had thought about it as well.

Claire let out a heavy sigh.

"Are you alright?"
Rebecca was quick to inquire.

"Yeah-"
She tried to convince. But her eyes were sad, looking over an empty playground.
"It's just... There were kids here, you know?"

They continued walking, the atmosphere was heavy. Thinking about those small lives which had yet to even begin...

"Hey-"
Wesker cut through the gloom.

"Uh?"

"I won't go believing their gone until I see their dead bodies with my own eyes. We can't win if we give up."
He walked in front of them, his hands crossed behind the back of his head.

His words renewed their conviction. He was right. The girls exchanged a quick look, now Claire knew exactly why Rebecca had taken such a liking to him...
They stopped a few streets further to search the nearby houses.

"Alright-"
Claire took the lead.
"Rebecca; you'll search this one, Wesker; that one, and I'll go through this one."
She pointed the homes as she spoke.

They agreed to meet here 30 minutes later and splintered.

Wesker left no stone unturned, he opened every drawer, checked every cabinet, under the beds, in the shower... But luck played a dirty trick on him once he opened the kitchen cabinets to find quite a bit of alcohol. Anxiety was quick to find him... what's the harm in just a little taste? He reached for one of the bottles, a good whiskey, and...

--

The girls met outside at the agreed time, with a few minutes early. They looked over the map as they waited for their teammate, a minute later footsteps crushed the snow behind them. Without taking their eyes off the paper, engulfed in their planning, they simply inquired of his well being.

"Everything went okay? You're ready to go?"
Still they did not gaze upon him.

"Right behind you."
His voice assured.

And they took off.

--

Inside the house, a still shivering hand hovered over the tantalizing bottle...

"Dammit..."

Wesker bit his hand; made into a fist. Refusing to succumb. But the whispers in his mind won over him and he simply took the small bottle, hiding it among his findings. Suddenly aware of the time he stepped outside in a hurry, hoping he hadn't made the girls waiting. Except, he found nothing but three sets of footprints in the snow...

Chapter Text

"Rebecca? Claire?"

Wesker called out. They couldn't have gone too far, maybe someone from the team met up with them and asked for their help. Still, it was weird that they'd just up and leave like that. Despite the stories he told himself, he had this feeling in his gut, something wasn't right.

"Claire?! Rebecca?!"

He shouted, following the trail they had left behind. The footsteps paved the street, leading further and further away from the agreed rendez-vous point.

"Dammit! Where did they go?"

He could tell from the prints in the snow that they, and whomever was with them, weren't in a hurry. Their steps were steady and there was no sign of a struggle or a fight. He ran up the street, still following the clues but at the end of the path; when one street met another, the trail ended. In the snow was the intricate design of tires. Kneeling to the ground he inspected the last few steps they had left behind, the white coat there was disturbed. Putting the pieces together wasn't difficult, they had been forced into a car and taken away... His fist came smashing the thin layer of ice beneath the frost.

"Fuck! How could this happen?!"

He was furious; with himself, for getting side-tracked and with the sons-of-bitches who did this. In his despair, he grabbed the bottle he had sneaked into his belongings and smashed it to pieces on the ground. Cursing himself over and over. He was loud, much too loud... But he had lost his grip. He had noticed that, whenever things didn't go the way he wanted, he'd loose his senses. Like a child throwing a tantrum, but much more destructive. Amidst the chaos inside his head, he remembered a skyscraper, black jeeps... and then he was there. Only a few meters away from the entrance... The guards posted a the door shared his surprise, quickly however they pointed their weapons at him, barking orders form behind their gas masks. The noise, the panic, the rage... and then nothing. There was a moment's peace amidst the anarchy, he couldn't feel anything, nor hear anything. He wasn't hurt nor was he angry... Deprived of his senses he thought:

"That's what death must feel like..."

And he was caught thinking it was the most wonderful thing in the world.

But then, there was a flash and the light blinded him. The next thing he saw were his own two hands, covered in gore. Himself, standing over the corpses of what seemed like an hundred soldiers... And then clapping.

"Magnificent."
A voice broke the silence. He could never forget this voice... for he heard it everyday; when he laughed, when he cried or when he screamed in pain... It was his own.

"You..."
He mumbled, still shocked.

The disgusting warmth of blood and other foul liquids covered him. The smell was horrid; flesh torn apart, organs spilled over the polished parquet... And when it finally reached him it made him gag. He hadn't blink once since he had taken a hold of himself, the nightmarish sight spoke to him... it was familiar and disturbingly soothing. Part of him wanted to embrace this carnage, while the other half was repulsed at the thought. He felt torn...

"It's okay now, don't be scared."
His voice was gentle, comforting...

Albert notice Rebecca and Claire, lying unconscious a few feet behind his doppleganger.

"What did you do to them?!"

"Nothing, they're dry, warm and very much alive. That's more than these poor sods can say."
His hand opened to designate the scene around them.

"That's..."
His brain tried to come up with an excuse, but the evidences were irrefutable. This was his doing... He didn't know where to look, there was blood everywhere and nowhere to hide.

The other man stayed silent a while, still adorning a gentle smile that didn't suit him. It was sinister. He took off his glasses to reveal they had the same eyes...
"I misjudged you. When we first met, I was upset to see you stand against me. I was rash, and disregarded your potential."
He stepped over the corpses of his comrades like they were mere trash. Closing the distance.

"Le-let them go!"
He was referring to the girls.

"But of course-" He chuckled, "-we don't need them. And since you seem to..."
He paused.
"Care for them. We'll let them live the rest of their life in peace. Given Chris doesn't get any cute ideas."

"Chris?"
He repeated the name. He didn't understand why Redfield had to be brought into this discussion.

"Yes, I was naive to think he might finally see the truth. But when he declined my final invitation, I understood. He truly isn't meant for the new world."
The distance was closed now. They stood a mere feet apart.
"But no matter. What I needed was a partner, and now you're here... And you're everything that I could ever want."
The way he said it was oddly suggestive, the palm of his leather gloved hand came brushing against Albert's cheek.

The gesture was sensual, the way his feline eyes kept looking him up and down betrayed a strong desire. Reclaiming his hand he licked the blood that had tainted his gloves.
A number of armed men suddenly barged through the door, pointing their weapons at the blood soaked intruder.

"Put your guns down you imbeciles. This man is with us."

The disheveled cow-boy finally found his voice.
"What if I refuse..."
He knew it was pointless, but he wanted to believe that he had a choice... The choice to have no part in this insane game.

"Why, I'm going to murder your friends." He laughed, as if joking with a friend. "But you'd never do this to me, would you?"
Both his hands cornered Wesker's visage as he forced his eyes into his.
"Right?"
His fiery stare was cold.

"Right..."
What other choice did he had?

The other Wesker found back his smile, he looked genuinely content and it was disgusting.
"Good." He turned to face his men. "Now, why don't we rid ourselves of these pests? Show our guests the way out."
He commanded.

Two mercenaries took the girls in their arms, obeying the order.

"Don't worry, they won't be harmed."
This sinister man assured, as he brushed the tip of his nose against his twin's, passing an arm around his side and pulling him along as he started to walk.

He felt disgusting, the blood was starting to dry, cracking over his skin and staining his clothes. He was exhausted as well, and without adrenaline to sustain him he could feel a strange pain in his gut. It was difficult to walk, but he refused to lean into his double's arms. Another step dislodged a bullet that was stuck in his abdomen, the metallic sound echoed as it rolled on the ground...

--

Claire opened her eyes with difficulty, the sun was nearly below the horizon and the sky was painted orange.

"Uh?"
Suddenly remembering the events she jolted, sitting into the snow. She was freezing, and she could feel her heart pound through her head. Beside her was Rebecca; still unconscious.
"Rebecca!"
She hurried to her side, shaking her gently. It didn't take much for her to wake up.

"Wh-what?"
The young woman mumbled, confused.

"Are you okay?"
The red haired woman sat next to her.

"I'm fine... But what happened. I remember Wesker's voice... and then-"
She grunted in pain, her head was killing her.

"We were careless..."
Claire admitted shamefully.
"It was the other Wesker."
This whole mess was so confusing.

"Wesker!"
Rebecca suddenly remembered.
"Where is he?"
She was thinking of her friend... the one she had stole a kiss from.

"I don't know."
They were alone in the middle of a snowy street, blatantly discarded in the cold.
"Let's go back to base, with a little luck he'll have rejoined with the others."

Hoping against hope the two girls set out in a hurry.

--

They had left the skyscraper behind, hopping into a car that would lead them to a chic hotel, just a bit further down the street. The tall establishment gleamed beautifully under the cover of a falling night. Inside, golden colors paved the halls, there was no one else here but them. After taking the elevator to the highest level, the stepped into a beautiful loft that occupied most of the last floor.

"Breathtaking, isn't it."
He said, talking about the view.

But Albert had no mind for idle chat. In fact, he was in a complete daze. He could do nothing, except try to understand... But there was so many things burdening his mind.

The other Wesker noticed, and once again put his hand on him.
"Fancy a shower?"
He asked, his fingers already lifting the blood soaked shirt off his back. It wasn't really a question...

He enjoyed ridding him of his clothes, letting his fingers linger on the skin and around his waist, pulling him a little closer each time. Sharing the same eight, their eyes were continuously plunged into each other, as our Wesker desperately tried to put the pieces together. His eyes scrutinized those of his evil twin; begging for answers, but were met with nothing but the feral need to possess and cruel amusement. Soon they stepped into the shower together. The installation was spacious, offering more than enough space, and yet, they were pinned one against the other as the water washed away the gore and wet their hair. Wesker brushed his thumb over Albert's lips, his eyes were hungry with desire.

"You're so beautiful."

He was met with silence.

He showered him, putting his hands were he pleased, eyeing what he longed for... Once they were clean, Albert was sat in front of the mirror and Wesker took out a razor blade. Sitting behind him he settled his head into his lap.

"Stay still."
The warm blade danced upon his cheeks; ridding him of his beard.
"There, much better."

Albert was allowed to resume his sitting position. His heart was beating painfully inside his chest. He didn't dare look into the mirror...

Wesker stood behind him still, now holding a pair of scissors. Carefully, he brushed his hair and then cut them... like a fucking doll... Once it was over, a hand passed around his neck and under his chin, forcing his eyes into the mirror.

"Now you're perfect."

They looked exactly the same, vulgar copies of one another... Except one wore an excited grin and hungry eyes, while the other wore a pitiful frown and carried fear in his heart.
Still holding him, his nose came flirting with his neck, once his lips teased his ear; he whispered another command.
"Follow me to the bed."

Albert was pulled on his feet and pushed out of the bathroom before falling into the bed, the other him on top; pinning him down. And for the first time since his disturbing flirtation began; their lips locked into a long and deep kiss. The tongue dancing with his own stole his breath, the insanity of it all; being forced down by someone wearing the same face as you... He tried struggling, but the faintest attempt was harshly reprimanded. A hand warped around his neck and squeezed firmly; barely leaving room for air. He halted the kiss a moment:

"Be a good boy and behave. I don't want to hurt you."
He waited for Albert to give him a weak nod before smiling and plunging once more into the kiss.

The only times when he would break the assault on his tongue were to suck and bite on his skin; leaving hickeys and bloody bite marks all over his shape. Not a single spot on his body remained that hadn't been either tasted or caressed by his vile hands. Nevertheless, he was surprised to suddenly be forced onto his knees, something inside him still carried naivety but that something broke once the pain of being entered without care tore through him. Gasping loudly he tried to ease into the pain, but nothing soothed him. Closing his eyes tightly, his mind tried to lull itself into a better place; carrying his thoughts somewhere nicer. He couldn't think about anything else but Chris... Guilt lashed his heart when the thought of Chris holding him undermined the ordeal. No matter how many times he begged, the nightmare didn't stop, and carried on through the night in an hideous display of narcissism and sadism in their truest forms...

Chapter Text

Albert woke up to a world still asleep; as the moon blinked under the horizon, as the sun's golden eyelashes flustered open shyly. Twilight painted the clouds, parcels of skies let the feeble glow of dead stars shine through... their dying light sparked a memory. He remembered Chris, and their talk beneath the veil of a cold night. There was a shift behind him, he could feel the warmth of skin brushing against his, an arm wrapped around his waist... He didn't need to look, nor did he want to. He gently escaped the venomous embrace, careful not to wake the other side of the mirror. His steps silent he walked up to those majestic windows... those walls of glass. His palm came to rest against their coldness and mist drew around it. It seemed as though he stood on the edge of the world... His fingers lingered last on the glass as he turned away, dragging his feet quietly behind him. He walked by bed, seeing himself soundly asleep in it, then by the bar; where his gaze did not stray. On his way to the bathroom he passed a mirror and didn't recognized himself in it. He closed the door behind, turning the lock for a spell of privacy; With nothing to rid himself of he stepped under the shower's rain and allowed the water to burn him... He couldn't forgive the numbness of his own skin, already it had forgotten the marks placed upon him and the suffering therein. But in his mind was this pain ironed; scarred there by a sharp ego. But his body was quick to adapt, embracing the scorching heat, it soon forgot the burns.

"Dammit!"
His fist came smashing against the porcelain and shattered it. His knuckles were left bloodied by the impact; cut by a thousand tiny pieces.
"Why did this have to happen?"
He asked himself, whispering through his teeth, his expression distorted by agony.

But soon did the water wash away the blood, and his wounds mended... Sending the broken pieces falling to his feet. The old merc chuckled humorlessly, how he hated being hurt and having nothing to show for it... Not even a scar.

"Fucking hell..."
He laughed sadly once more.
"This is a freak show, and you're the new star honey..."
He remembered the old lady.

--

Claire and Rebecca finally pushed open the doors to safety; out of breath, injured, having limped through the night to reach camp once more. They were greeted by the incredulous looks of their comrades; fully equipped, obviously organizing themselves into search parties. Chris hurried to their sides, just in time to catch Rebecca before her legs gave out and her knees hit the ground.

"Are you alright? What happened?"
Concern tainted his tone.

"You had us worried sick, we were about to head to look for you-"
Jill was interrupted.

"Where is Wesker? Is he here?"
Rebecca pleaded for answers.

"Wha- Wesker? No, we thought he was with you. Wait, he's not the one who did this to you, is he?"
Distrust won over empathy in Chris's mind.

"No!"
Rebecca shouted, with what little breath she had left.
"I mean-"
She was confused, panicked...

"Rebecca, it's alright, let me explain."
Claire gently intervened.
"We were out looking for supplies, we came across a few houses that looked promising and decided to split off for a short while. Agreeing to meet back in the street."

"Go on."

"So we did... Me and Rebecca finished first and figured we'd take a look at the map to figure out where to next. Since we had a few minutes left until the agreed time we didn't question it when Wesker didn't show up."

Everyone else was silent, listening to her story.

"Eventually he did... Although thinking back on it now, we were both so absorbed in the planning we didn't even take a look at him. He said he was good to go, so we walked to the end of the street. He walked behind us, which was bizarre since he had been leading our little compound up until that point, he was weirdly silent too. When I finally got around to actually look at him, well..."

"Well?"

"I turned around and I was hit... Before I lost consciousness I'm certain I saw the other Wesker."
She admitted shamefully.
"When I woke up we were in the middle of a different street. I woke up Rebecca and we hurried back here."
That concluded her tale.

"Dammit!"
Chris struggled to swallow his anger.
"Rebecca..."
He softened his voice.
"Is there anything else you can tell us, did you see anything?"

The medic lowered her head in response. She had been out cold the whole time.

"Hold up!"
Jake jumped in on the conversation.
"So then, where's my dad? If he wasn't with you he would have headed back here!"
He didn't hear himself call the man his father...

"Calm down-"
The captain was shut down.

"Calm down?! That's easy for you to say, your sister came back!"

"Jake-"
Sherry tried to calm him but the young man violently shove away the appeasing hand extended to him.

"Back off! I'm going to look for him!"
The young mercenary was always hot headed, more often than not he'd hurl things in anger that he'd come to regret later. He stormed out of camp, leaving behind his partner.

"I'll go with him."
Sherry took the first steps to catching up with him but was held back.

"Sherry wait."
It was Piers.
"Take this, we got it tuned into the comm system."
He handed her a walkie-tlakie.
"Catch up with him, we'll follow after settling things here."

The young agent nodded and took off running.

Silence now reigned over them.

"I'm sorry... If I had been more vigilant."
Claire broke the pending tension with a whisper.

"You might have turned up dead."
Sheva spoke.
"If he hadn't lure you into his trap..."

"Sheva's right."
Jill seconded.
"God knows what he would have done if things hadn't go his way. I hate to say it, but in a fair fight..."

"I know."
Claire's eyes were cast on the ground.

"But it doesn't make sense."
Rebecca added.
"Why go through the trouble of knocking us out, just to drop us off in another location? It would have made sense if he had taken us prisoner; either to make Chris kneel or to make us reveal the camp's location. But this is completely illogical..."
She struggled to see his usual pattern in the villain's latest course of action.

"Maybe it had something to do with Wesker? I mean... Albert."
Piers suggested.

"Care to ellaborate?"
Chris sought his right hand man's counsel.

"I don't know him nearly as much as you do captain, but the man we brought along seemed rather favorable to our cause. Whomever he might be, he didn't strike me as the treacherous type. What's more, he seemed on rather good terms with Rebecca."
He turned to the girls.
"You said he was running a few minutes late, right? Assuming he wasn't attacked or else, he might have eventually headed to the rendez-vous site. Mind you, this is conjecture, but he might have attempted to help."

"Maybe."
Chris's heart was torn, he didn't know how to react. How can you love and hate the same person all at once?

"Wait! I think I remember something."
Rebecca jumped on her feet, surprising everyone.
"I thought it might have just been a dream of some sort but... I think I heard them talking."

"What you mean, the two Weskers?"

"Yes. At first I was confused, they have the same voice and they seemed so far away. I didn't know better than to dismiss it."

"So then, what did they say?"
Chris urged the younger female.

"I don't remember much, but I think one of them said something about wanting you-" She designated Chris "-to join them. And something about you refusing..."
Her head hurt from all the confusion, she had trouble organizing her thoughts.
"I-"
She racked her brain, infuriated with herself.

"Take it easy Rebecca..."
Claire tried to appease her.

"That's it!"
There was a spark in her eye.
"I know where he is! The way his shoes resonated on the parquet, the smell of blood and their voices... I think Wesker brought us all the way to the B.S.A.A's HQ and Albert must have followed us there. There was a fight... I think he must have brought down a lot of the security. That's it..."
She remembered the exact words and her eyes closed painfully.
"Albert had to join him in exchange of our lives."
She looked into Claire's eyes, guilt preyed on her fragile state of mind.

Without knowing what to say, the red-head tuned to her brother.

"It's alright-"
Chris tired quickly of sitting on his hands, he wanted to confirm the truth, to know once and for all who he could trust.
"we'll bring him back."
He managed a smile, reassuring the two women.
"Alright people, move out!"
The order was given and the agents left to reclaim a friend...

--

"Jake, wait!"
Sherry still struggled to keep the young man's pace.

The mercenary grunted audibly.
"Keep up dammit!"
Right after the words came out of his mouth, he bit his lip and stopped walking altogether. Sherry stopped a few steps behind him, and stared at his back.
"Look... I'm sorry okay..."
He muttered.

She wasn't angry, nor was she hurt. She understood that he was the one hurting right now, and that she had no right to deny him his pain by forcing him out of dealing with it the only way he knew how.
"It's alright, just... let me help you."
She closed the distance and grabbed his shoulder gently, turning the young man to meet her eyes.
"You're not alone in this."
She smiled.

"Yeah... I know."
He welcomed her hand on his cheek.

"Let's get you father back."
She teased.

He let out a short laugh.
"One thing at a time."

A voice came over the radio...

--

A few drops of water fell periodically, hitting the porcelain in a short melody stuck on repeat. The bathroom was foggy, steam blurred the glass... A hand slowly rid the mirror of its veil; revealing an unfamiliar face.

A sigh escaped the lone cowboy's lips. And another look into the mirror showed a broken man, which angered the blond.
"This isn't like me."
He shook his head.
"Come on honey, you let him break you, you let him win..."
His little motivational speech lit a small fire in his heart. A few hair products sat under the glass, the same one he had used the night before. Albert grabbed a hold of some pomade and smirked. He remembered the old rock songs he used to listen to over at the old pub, sure, but he also remembered the old matron's taste for late 50's music... Aware his insane counterpart would expect them to look perfectly alike, he decided to disappoint. Instead arranging his hair into a devilishly handsome pompadour.
"Don't cramp my style, fucking idiot."
He said thinking of him. And that was enough to spark a new found confidence. Painted with all the swagger you could expect of a 1950's greaser.
He let out a content sigh.
"A good thing about loosing all of your memories? You get to be who ever the fuck you want to be."
He winked at the mirror and left the bathroom feeling refreshed.

Still stark naked, he figured it was time to ditch the emperor's new clothes look. Beside the bed was a walk-in, full of sophisticated clothes, almost all of them black. Granted, the idea of wearing the other man's clothes wasn't appealing but he'd make do. He stepped in, and started rummaging through the impressive amount of clothes. Nothing suited his fancy, that's when he actually left the hotel room. Albert figured, that as long as he didn't try to escape the building there would be no repercussion. As he stepped out of the elevator to the level below he managed to surprise a guard; who evidently wasn't prepared to meet his boss in his birth suit.

"Hey."
He greeted casually, almost too happily. Throwing in a teasing wink.

The guard remained silent before issuing a warning.
"The boss isn't going to be happy if you try to leave."

"Don't worry. I'm just looking for clothes."
He said as he walked away. He didn't know how to get his hands bloody like when he lost control, but if he couldn't hurt the other Wesker physically, he could at least damage his pride. And this Wesker had no qualm about playing buffoon.

After rummaging through most of the rooms on this floor, he eventually found what he was looking for. A good pair of jeans, a white T-shirt and a good old leather jacket.
"Lucky~"
He whistled.

Finally he was clothed and...
As he walked out the room he met face to face with his evil twin.

"Good morning."
His voice was stoic.

"Good morning..."
It wasn't easy to maintain his confidence when faced with the man... Memories of last night flooded his mind.

"Playing dress-up?"
He asked, rising an eyebrow in disdain.

"You don't like it? I think it suits me."
He used humor stand his ground.

"That is not how we dress..."
His tone was sinister.

"Nuh-uh pal. That's not how YOU dress."
Despite feeling quite intimidated, Albert wasn't ready to just bend over and act like a bitch neither.

"I see..."
He stroked the merc cheek.
"Well, you'll come around eventually. I can play along for now."
He smiled and planted a tiny kiss on the spot he had previously caressed.

"Doubt it."
Albert submitted to the gesture.

"Oh but you will... Just wait until you've seen your life's work."