Chapter 1: Confession
The floor above rattled, sending particles of dust, wood chips and old paint past Jill’s face and into her hair. It sounded as though as any moment the boards would crack and break, let the massive mutant’s body fall through. Maybe it would crush her, maybe he would punch through and drag her through the ceiling, long tentacles and all. All because instead of getting out, Jill was running a frantic search through Rebecca Chamber’s heavily disorganized desk. There was spilled snacks, bottles of water with varying amounts left in them and papers strewn about.
She remembered Rebecca’s static filled, panicked voice over the phone, full of guilt and gratitude. “Navy blue manila folder, with sticky notes all over it, taped shut. I— Jill, I know this is so much to ask, but please, I need it. I do. You have no idea how important it is to me.” She had sounded so anxious, so guilty and fearful and Jill sighed internally, the girl had a way of making anyone do anything. “B-but don’t you dare do anything that’d get you hurt! You need to come back alive, you have to! Even if I have to come there myself…”
Pushing aside dull reports, notes from her online classes and whatever knick-knacky things she had accumulated over her short time there, Jill grew more frantic. If it wasn’t here, she was going to kill her. Not really, Jill would never, but as heavy steps pounded and paced over head she knew she was really pushing her luck here.
Just as Jill opens the topmost drawer of the aged oak desk, sides of the wood full of doodles and sketches that if he weren’t an evil treacherous bastard, Wesker would’ve scolded her for doing, she finds it. Supplies and papers all stacked too neatly for Rebecca’s chaotic self, all deliberately placed to cover it. She was hiding something, and Jill’s gut turned both from the secrecy of it and the fact she could hear the stairs down the hall creaking, breaking under his weight. When she grabs it, papers and notes fly out but she doesn’t pay more mind than picking them all up. Time is running out, but she pulls a plastic sleeve out of her desk to contain them all. The steps grew closer, and yet, for a moment, Jill let herself be weak and opened her own drawer.
She pulls out the photos of Bravo team, of Alpha team, of her and Chris training at the gym, of a summer barbecue with Barry and his girls. She was already here, she was already risking life and limb for something she hadn’t even know Rebecca had until her frantic call, she may as well preserve what she could of the life they’re never getting back.
“ S.T.A.R.S ”
The hairs on Jill’s neck stand, and she rolls to duck behind her desk, taking the moment to reload her magnum, sticking the plastic sleeve into her jacket around her waist, secure as she could manage with her arms free.
She hears the footsteps quicken to a run, a roar rumbling the walls and rattling the furnishings.
She owes me big time. She thinks before running out with a yell, finger on the trigger and ready to make Nemesis bleed .
The next time Jill sees Rebecca, it’s when she wakes up and can’t tell if her eyes are open or not. The world around her is dim. Last they had opened, she was in a helicopter as the nuke behind them rocked it in the air, her and Carlos holding each other down through the turbulence as Barry shouted something she couldn’t hear. As they flew, she couldn’t help slipping into a deep sleep. She was exhausted, she was injured, she was starved and dehydrated and had lost so much blood. But she knew she was stable, she was safe high above the ground where zombies couldn’t reach, with a trusted comrade and a man who, while unfamiliar, had risked himself as well to save her. To stop her from turning, because even as a stranger, he refused to put a gun to her head.
Before she went under, she vaguely heard him joke about how this isn’t how he wanted a pretty woman to fall asleep on him, and had she not been exhausted she would have rolled her eyes, threatened to toss him from the copter. The hospital bed is warm, but he had been warmer, all adrenaline and exertion. It’d felt nice, but at least the blanket on her, while thin, was heated. Jill sits up a little, eyes adjusting but making out little more than the faint white walls, of the resounding and firm beeps of machines monitoring her vitals. Immediately, however, nausea runs over her and she feels her throat clench, trying to prevent the acid rising from her stomach.
She wildly moved her hand among the floor and side table, trying to find anything to retch in. She didn’t, and so she stomached, forced it back down. Disgusting, but probably the least nasty thing to occur in the last four days. She swears she can feel the ghosts of blood, guts, fluids on her skin. But she’s been cleaned, and all that’s left is her bandaged wounds. Bites, scratches, burns.
Her shoulder screams in pain, and the memory of Nemesis’ appendage piercing flesh, filling her blood with toxins is still vivid. Her stomach turns again, fists clenched at her sides she fights it.
Assess where you are, Valentine . It was a good enough tactic to cope, map her surroundings like she was on a mission, like she was gathering intel. She did it everywhere regardless, not quite able to ever relax fully after the mansion. But she managed, she made it out once, she made it out again.
There was an IV in her arm, and from the look of the light bruising in the crook of her elbow, she must have had blood drawn too. Worrying, but expected, she supposed. She was in a hospital gown, bare back comforted by the soft material of the sheets. The window curtain was partially drawn, light filtered in everytime a car passed by. She was on a first floor.
From the temporary illumination of headlights, Jill can make out the furnishings of the tiny room. Two chairs in the corner, a desk and rolling chair, a computer to her other side. The table at the end of her bed is crowded, the faint silhouettes of bouquets and mildly patronizing get well soon! balloons. She bets Chris did that, smug asshole, though it brings the faintest smile to her face.
Most importantly though is the soft sigh, and Jill immediately tenses again, preparing to rip out that IV and bound from her rather comfortable resting place. She hadn’t heard the soft breaths before, but now they were all she could hear. Shifting, Jill feels her leg hit something, limp.
When she looks down, there isn’t some zombie, some creature, or someone pointing a gun to her. Just a slightly messed head of brunette curls, and the telltale round cheeks and freckles of Rebecca Chambers.
Jill lets herself fall back against the best, sighing in relief. Shit, she could see her pulse spike on the monitor at her side. Rest had done her senses well, but it only helped work her up when it would otherwise be met with an apathetic of course and the cock of a gun, all auto-pilot and instinct for survival.
The kick hadn’t bothered the girl in the slightest, Rebecca’s arms were crossed on the edge of the hospital bed, leaning over in her chair in a way that couldn’t have been comfortable. She was out cold, breaths even and low, sunk into her own arms. All the mild anger and lectures Jill had been preparing the entire incident for when they met died in her at the sight. The room was empty otherwise, and she knew that before it all Rebecca had been out of state to visit her relatives and friends. Her birthday.
She had come all this way just to make sure she was alright, the files too but it wasn’t her priority, Jill knew that. And she stayed when others went home. She could never be mad at Rebecca, the girl had a heart almost as big as her brain and wore it on her sleeve, brought out the protectiveness Jill didn’t want to admit came from a maternal source she’d mostly suppressed.
Jill wonders how long she’s been here, been asleep, but she wasn’t about to press the help button and bother anyone. It was clearly late, she felt no immediate need to get up. Her body hurts, her stomach was too numb to be hungry and the IV was dutiful in giving her fluids, the bathroom could wait. She didn’t want to see what she looked like.
Instead, Jill simply turns onto her side, tucking one arm under the pillow and closing her eyes. She should get rest while she can, she can’t imagine the absolute clusterfuck that’s going to follow this disaster. She would try not to think about it.
When she moves, something else does too, the small sound of metal hitting itself like coins in a pocket. When she lifts herself to look up, something has slipped onto the cover beside her, glints in another passing break of light. Looking closer, it was...a necklace? The dainty, silver chain of tiny beads was clutched tightly as could be in Rebecca’s sleepy grasp. Jill’s eyes follow the chain until finding the source of the noise, reaching out to pick it up.
It dangles in her fingers, slipping from Rebecca’s and clattering loudly in the otherwise silent surroundings. Jill might have flinched, but she was too focused on the object in front of her. Dog tags…? S.T.A.R.S agents didn’t have those, and as far as she knew, neither of Rebecca’s parents were a veteran...
Then she runs her eyes over the embossed words, catching in the red glow of a streetlight, bold and clear.
Eyes wide, Jill looks from the tags, to Rebecca, back to the tags, to Rebecca again.
She...She tried to think logically, she must have taken them as proof of Coen’s death. But why did she still have them? Rebecca wasn’t the type to take... trophies . It couldn’t have been that, she wouldn’t treat a dead person’s, murderer or not, personal possession the same she treated the novelties from university, the little things she got in toy dispensers, keepsakes from her childhood.
A bad, bad feeling blooms in Jill’s chest the same way it does when she knows something deadly is around the corner. When she knows she’s in immediate danger. When something’s wrong .
You’d have to be the cruelest person on earth to wake a sleeping Rebecca, but come morning, she had some explaining to do. She couldn’t worm her way out of this with her charm, not when Jill didn’t know what was in that folder. She would make sure of it.
Regardless, Jill had still fallen back asleep, tags tucked secretively under her pillow. When she awoke, it was light, the room displaying its wall were actually a light green, lavender window sills and white tile ceiling and floor. She can truly see the extent of the flowers crowding the room, and she was flattered but didn’t pay it too much mind, not when her mind was still focused on the metal tags beneath her pillow.
She hadn’t returned them, so she wasn’t surprised when Rebecca was still the only one in her room, bedhead unsorted and clothing ruffled from sleep. She was clearly trying to keep calm despite her frantic searching, checking all her pockets. On the floor, under the bed, even picking up the vases to check.
Then she accidentally makes eye contact with Jill, and breaks into a relieved smile.
“Jill!” Whether or not Rebecca had already been teary, Jill didn’t know, but with a loud sniffle the smaller girl launches herself and nearly tackles her in a hug. You’d think a medic would know to not manhandle an injured person, but Rebecca was impulsive at the worst of times. “You’re okay!”
“ Shoulder— ” Jill rasps, voice failing her at the rush of pain. Her painkillers were wearing off.
“S-sorry! Sorry! I’m just...you’re awake!”
“How long…?” Jill clears her throat, feels the muscles in her neck strain. That she did consider a little more important than last night’s find.
“Just a day...I knew you would fine, but,” Rebecca grasps her arm nervously, tensing. “You know.”
At the least, it didn’t hurt as much when Jill pulled herself up. It was more a resounding soreness than outright pain. Nothing she can’t handle. “...How are things?”
“Chaotic, to say the least.” Rebecca sighs. “You weren’t the only victim. Claire is here too, and some guy and his little girl.”
“Claire?” Jill freezes for the first time since her last scare. “Is she okay?”
“Same as you, beaten but alive, broken arm though. She’s up and walking.”
“And the others?”
“Officer Leon Kennedy. Remember they said there was gonna be a new rookie?” Rebecca was maybe too delighted she would no longer be the freshmeat of the department, even if she was trying to refrain. And newbie or not, he was still older than her. “He’s in pretty bad shape, he was shot and has a concussion. The little girl is fine though, they took good care of her.”
“....I don’t think so,” she whispers, like he could hear from the adjacent room. “They don’t look alike. She won’t tell me her last name, just that she’s Sherry. And he’s pretty young.”
Says the girl who graduated at eighteen. Jill thinks, but doesn’t say. So there was nothing left other than to figure out what next .
S.T.A.R.S lost their leader (for the better, really) and their headquarters, all but Rebecca lived in Raccoon city as well. Their homes, destroyed, everything gone with nowhere to go. Jill had tried to retrieve all the data they had collected, but it was— it was so much, all in different places and carefully protected through layers of secrecy. She had some files, some disks, but it was only a fraction of what they had gathered. They'll be going almost entirely off memory. Not to mention the missile wiped out all of Umbrella’s tracks…
At that moment, the door opened slowly. In walked Claire, arm carefully wrapped in a cast and secure in a sling. “Hey, you’re up!”
“Thank goodness you’re okay,” Jill chuckles, though she means it. “If I had known, I would’ve looked for you.”
“Please, we were on opposite ends of the city. It’s all over and done with, you know a Redfield won’t go down just like that!”
“Of course not, dumb luck runs in your blood.”
Claire giggles, “how are you? No offense, but you look awful.”
“Sore, tired, irritated. Mostly hungry, though.” The numbness in her stomach had worn away, leaving hunger in its wake.
“Oh, I’ll get you something!! What do you want, breakfast? A sandwich? Something sweet?”
Rebecca stood, but Claire shook her head. “Nah, let me get it, I have to walk around or I’m gonna lose my mind, sitting in a white room all day.”
“But your arm—”
Jill had to wonder if somehow, Claire had caught on that she wanted to have a... chat with Rebecca. Probably not, she was just being headstrong self. If there was something she and her brother shared, it was an inability to sit still for too long, and not letting themselves be cared for. They cared for others, whether domestic or on a battlefield. She merely gave Claire a request for some OJ and a breakfast sandwich, the girl giving a thumbs up and bolting down the hall before she could be stopped.
There was a peaceful few moments of silence, only bird calls and the sound of cars. She hated to ruin it, she really did.
“Rebecca, could you close the door?”
“...Jill?” Her voice is quiet, Jill hadn’t tried to sound too serious. She wasn’t mad— at least, she didn’t think she was. But something was up, and Rebecca had a habit of getting herself in trouble. Best she figure it out before something goes bad. “Is something wrong?”
“I want to talk to you about something, just you.”
Looking like she had been scolded, Rebecca gets back up and shuffles to the door, closing it gently as if it would alert her presence. She sits back down, posture perfect, hands folded in her lap. “What is it?”
Without looking away, Jill puts a hand under her pillow and pulls out the dog tags by the chain, lets it shift until it sways in her hand. “This yours?”
Rebecca goes pale.
“Ah, um, yes, it’s—” She laughs, nervous, faltering. Jill feels bad, maybe she could have done this with more tact, but her gut tended to be right when something was urgent. The dog tags practically radiated wrongness. “Guess it slipped off my neck or something, haha...ha…”
Jill couldn’t help the look of pity. Rebecca stares, then sighs, averting her gaze, voice small.
“...Please give it back.”
When she reaches to hand it over, Rebecca cups it in both hands like it would shatter, like it was something precious. The air is tense, fragile, like they could shatter at any moment, the jovial mood minutes ago long gone.
“I read the name on it, Becca.”
“Why do you have those? He’s dead.”
The girl flinches, eyes glossy. Jill might lose her appetite with the way her inside roll with unease. She was acting strange, too strange.
“Becca, I’m sorry, but I need to know what’s going on. You can trust me. Whatever it is, I won’t judge you.” Jill is walking on eggshells, even laid up in bed. Something was hurting her, she could tell. Call it instinct, call it knowing her colleague. “There’s a lot going on, and a lot of things need to be figured out. If we’re going to do that, we can’t let ourselves be distracted. I know you had me get those files for a reason, so it must be important.
...I won’t force you to say anything, but if you’re in some kind of trouble—”
“Legally, Billy Coen is dead.” Her thumb runs along the engravings in the metal, like a worry stone. “I wrote that report, I presented these as proof…”
“...He’s not dead, is he?”
“That’s just it...I-I don’t know. We got separated after escaping the facility and….I don’t know what happened to him, I went to the mansion and didn’t look back.”
“Rebecca,” Jill sighed. It all made sense. She’d taken it on herself to catch the escaped convict, and she failed. Was she scared of losing her job? They wouldn’t of let that happen, it hadn’t been what she was sent to do. She was new, they all made mistakes. Given the circumstances, they would have been surprised if she did bring him dead or alive. “It wasn’t your mission. If he managed to get past all the mutants on his own, I doubt we’d be able to arrest him.”
Her soft smile returned, leave it to Rebecca to get hung up on the small things, though Jill had been much the same at first.
“If he was still in the city, he’s long gone now. It’s okay, Reb—”
“It’s not okay!” Rebecca gasps, maybe a little too loud in such a peaceful building. If she weren’t in pure shock, Jill would wonder if the surrounding rooms heard. The girl stands, fists balled, angry tears rolling down her cheeks. Jill had no idea what went wrong.
“Uh, sorry to interrupt,” both girls snapped to their gaze to the door, where Claire was standing sheepishly. “I got your sandwich.”
“...Thank you.” Jill says as she places the bag down, smelling amazing through the thin wrapping. “You didn’t have to.”
“Eh, got nothing else to do but wait. And there’s a Dunkin’ across the street. Everyone wants to discuss what to do next when Leon wakes up, so um...I’ll leave you guys to…” She bites her lip. “This.”
When Jill looks back to Rebecca, she wipes lightly at her eyes, red-rimmed, gaze towards the window.
“I’m going to assume I’m missing something here.”
“...You...You can’t let anyone know,” Rebecca says through whimpers, “and you have to believe me. Promise you’ll believe.”
“...I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try.”
Grounding herself, she tilts her head up and breathes deeply, willing her tears to stop. In and out, in and out. And like that, she falls back forward, knees drawn up onto the chair and against her chin. “I let him go, Jill. It’s not that I couldn’t arrest him, I didn’t arrest him, I let him be a free man.”
Time froze, the silence tangible, able to break and be cut.
“You...Rebecca, you...let a convict— a murderer go…”
“No,” When she looked back up, Jill’s heart could’ve shattered, incredulous. “Jill...He was innocent.”
“...You...don’t believe me…”
And yet, the look in Rebecca’s eyes were so desperate, so resolute.
“How do you know?”
“What makes you think he was innocent.” Jill says, unrelenting. “If you think so, then you must have proof.”
“...It’s...it’s easier if I just...come clean….huh? I’ll tell you it...all of it…”
“There was no unidentified corpse at the crash, just the drivers. When I made to the train...he was there, Billy Coen. He pointed a gun at me, I thought I was done for...But then, he said we should work together. For our mutual safety. I couldn’t believe I was working with a criminal, my first mission on the force...But what choice did I have? Bravo team...my friends were dying around me. I’m just a medic. I can handle a gun, sure, b-but…”
Rebecca shook her head.
“We crashed the train, we were in the training facility. There was creatures everywhere, horrifying, disgusting...And we worked together. And then…It had me, this giant... disgusting insect grabbed and I...I couldn’t break free. He could have run, he could have just let me die but he didn’t. He stayed and fought and got hurt and...he saved me, Jill.”
“...He was insuring his own safety. You were an extra gun.”
“ No ,” was her stubborn reply. “Later on...when we were investigating the floor crumbled beneath me. I barely had a grip and was just, hanging...a-and there was these...these apes. I didn’t know where he was, he heard me on our radios and just...came for me. He fought them hand-to-hand, he pulled me up...I asked him about it, you know. He— he got all tense, and then he just, he looked so sad .” Her hand wraps tightly around a tag, protectively. “They gave his team false info, his superior got angry and he— he demanded they kill the villagers. He wouldn’t say if it he participated or not but…” She sobbed. “Jill, I know he didn’t do it, I just know…”
“But you can’t know for sure.”
“Then why did he let me go, Jill? Maybe he kept me around for survival, but why then…? I knew he was alive, I was the only one who would know and if he eliminated me, he would never have to worry about covering his tracks. He’d be assumed dead, my death would be expected, given the conditions. But I could’ve gone and told everyone he was alive, if he let me go. But he did anyways.
I could’ve betrayed him just as much as he could’ve betrayed me. ...But we didn’t.”
Jill wasn’t sure how much of this she could process, how much she could believe. Rebecca was— she was optimistic, she saw the good in everything, in people. Always assumed the best. The experienced, slightly cynical part of herself wanted to say Rebecca was being deceived, that her good faith was being taken advantage of.
But she also knew Rebecca wasn't stupid. Everything but.
"If he is alive, if, " Jill makes sure to emphasize. "Would you know where he is?"
"That's just it, I don't know if he's even alive...Last I saw, I took these and wished him luck. He told me to be safe. We were in the mountains...Did he get out? Did...did something in the forest get him…"
Rebecca's gaze turns glossy, another more heavy tear rolls down her cheek. "Or was he...was he...He wouldn't of stayed in R.C...right? He...he got out before the missile hit, I'm sure of it…"
“...What are you asking of me, Rebecca? Do you just want to know if he’s alive or not? We can figure something out, we can have someone go undercover—”
“I want to find him. I...I need to know if he’s alive, but...I want to see him again. I have to.”
“I know, I must sound like an idiot.” Rebecca laughs, though it sounds more like a sigh. “We helped each other live, that’s all. But...You know, he got knocked off a platform, at the plant. He got swept up in the water system and I...I could’ve just gone off and left him, Enrico found me, I had someone to protect me. But I looked him in the eye and told him I was going back to find Billy...If I had gone, maybe he’d be alive—”
“Or Wesker would have shot you too.”
Rebecca winces. “I found him, I treated his injuries and...I realized I’d been scared, I was terrified that he would die, that he would drown before I could reach him or that something would drag him under in the water.
Every night since the mansion incident, I’ve felt that way, not knowing where he is or if he made it out. I know we only knew each other for that night, but...I like to think he’s my friend.”
And Jill knew if there was one thing Rebecca would protect with her life, that she valued above all, it was her friends.
“I want to see him again.”
“We’ll do something about it. I’m still not entirely convinced, but…” Jill sighs. “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”
“R-really?” She was crying again, for an entirely different reason. “You’d do that…?”
“Of course, we need to figure ourselves out first And we’re going to need to convince everyone of it, you’re going to have to come clean.” Feeling it was finally appropriate to do so, Jill pulls the bottle of orange juice and the sandwich out of the bag. “But I’ll do it.”
“Thank you...Jill! Thank you!” Rebecca moves to hug her, then stops. “Oh, right, shoulder.”
“I’m going to assume those files were about him, too?”
“Yeah...I felt like such a brat asking you to get those for me, but the trouble I went through to get those…”
“The trouble you went through?”
“...Well, the trouble Barry went through to get them to me.”
Jill wondered what it was, that made Rebecca so hard to say no to, when asking things like this. Illegal things, mind you.
“Briefcase over there, in a plastic sleeve.”
Rebecca smiles, though her face was still blotchy and red, and tosses her a thumbs-up as Jill takes the first bite of her sandwich, she’d had food those days holed up in her apartment but everything in her fridge spoiled, something warm and moderately fresh that wasn’t crackers or granola felt like heaven on her tongue.
Dabbing at her lips with a napkin, she watches as the other girl carefully lifts the folder and other papers out of the sleeve, not noticing when an orange tinted, rectangle of cardstock slips from her grip and flutters to the floor.
“Dropped something.” She chuckles. “Didn’t really have much time to pack it in neatly when I was running for my life.”
Perhaps the juice wasn’t the best option, burning slightly on Jill’s rather dry and scratchy throat, but she was sure her body would appreciate it.
She doesn’t realize Rebecca’s confused, focused glare on the offending piece of paper until a moment later, when the girl doesn’t respond. “What is it?”
A postcard? “You’ve been?”
“No.” Rebecca turns the paper over in her hand, shocked to see writing on the back. “I’ve never been out of the country.”
Her eyes roam over neat cursive, heavy strokes of a dying pen. Her heart stops in her chest.
Mexico’s lovely this time of year.
You should see it sometime, dollface.
Over and over again she reads it, wondering if her eyes were seeing correctly, if she were only imagining it.
“This was on my desk?”
“Yes. Whose it from?”
“W-when did it get there? Who put it there?”
“I’m not sure, I was out of the office. Maybe it was while you were visiting your friends?”
“...Who was at the office?”
“Well, Barry had gotten back from Canada not too long before. Chris hadn’t left for Europe yet… Perhaps it was them?”
“What? What’s on it?”
Rebecca hands it over to her, almost seeming reluctant to let it go.
“...’Dollface’? You have a secret admirer?”
“Jill.” Her voice was serious, deadly serious. “That’s what Billy called me.”
Again, the air around them froze, only the still constant beeping of the hospital machinery and passing of nearby cars.
“...It’s from him?”
Rebecca takes it back, turns it over. The side with the writing is an off white, soft material with little more than a map view of Veracruz. The front was a desaturated, low-contrast panorama of a rural farm village, all trees and dirt roads.
In the corner, the same quick, thick letters in black ink. Rebecca C., RPD.
No return address, much to her immediate disappointment. It would have been more upsetting if not for the fact the postcard was there at all.
“How would he…”
“He knew my name, he knew I’m with S.T.A.R.S. It...It must’ve been sent right to the station.”
Jill couldn’t read the expression on Rebecca’s face. She wondered if anyone knew Rebecca enough to pull of this kind of prank (and judging by how much this topic affected the girl, how such a joke would hurt, whether or not they would survive Jill’s fist colliding with their face).
“I’m the only one you’ve told all this to?”
Rebecca nods slowly.
Jill sighs from the deepest part of her chest, pinches the bridge of her nose. She was going on a long, long vacation one of these days. “Guess we better get talking, then.”
Chapter 2: The Fool
With no plan in mind, Jill and Rebecca take flight.
Once Leon Kennedy is awake and responding, everyone has their warm welcomes back to the land of the living and gratitude for another disaster survived. The time isn’t for long, however, as Barry returns to tell them the Huntersville police have lent a temporary room for their investigations. They had, at least for a short while, hotel rooms bought by the higher ups respectively, knowing that many of the officers themselves had lived within Raccoon City, or near enough to be affected by the blast.
Jill’s ears still ring.
She’d sent Rebecca out with her wallet and a list of her sizes, begging for just something basic, something that wasn’t a hospital gown or god forbid, her clothes from the night before. She watched her tuck the dog tags under her shirt, seeming so weirdly at home around her neck and set out. The girl was quick, and before she knew it, Jill was up and dressed, demanding her blood samples be taken into R.P.D. custody, much to the confusion of the nurses. She didn’t know if any of the virus or following antivirus was left in her blood, but it was very much better safe than sorry.
“Do you want to stay with Leon?” Jill overhears Claire, crouched down to talk with who she assumed was ‘Sherry’. The girl nervously clutches Claire's unbroken arm. She looked exhausted. “We’re probably gonna have to talk about…you know…”
“It’s okay.” The girl mutters. “I want to help.”
Jill wonders what she must have gone through, to be of any help to them.
They’re all stood along a round table, mostly kept empty aside from a measly breakfast of either hospital or fast food. The local police’s courtesy was in the form of a blank chalkboard and cork board, fresh coffee and strange looks. S.T.A.R.S members outside of Raccoon city were bound to draw eyes. Their presence meant something bad was happening, and boy, if only they knew the extent of it.
Rebecca’s unease doesn’t go unnoticed, especially from Claire, who was sat outside with Sherry. That outburst had probably seemed nothing but strange. The files Jill had yet to see are tucked under her arm.
“I suppose we would start from the beginning…” Jill starts, but is shortly stopped.
“July 23rd me and the rest of Bravo Team took an emergency landing in the forest outside the Arklay Mountains.” Rebecca took everyone by surprise with speaking up first. “Our helicopter had been sabotaged, a device was hidden in the engine and set to burst into flames on a timer.
From there, we discovered a wrecked vehicle, which had been transporting an unknown criminal for execution. It was apparent it was attacked by the monsters.”
She didn’t realize it until now, but if she weren’t mildly livid, Jill would be impressed at how well Rebecca was able to tiptoe around use of his name and leave them all unaware, even now.
Locating Billy Coen wasn’t part of their mission, after all, and Bravo Team were the only ones to know of him. But dead men tell no tales. They hadn’t had to peer-review her report, so none of Alpha Team knew the name of that “unidentified” “third body”, nor did they have a reason to care. The military had been applying pressure, for a reason they didn't understand, Jill had known that, but they were so tied up in preparing a case for Irons they had let Rebecca take care of it all. Even then, it would’ve been skimmed, who cared about military business when the mansion incident was so fresh?
And damn, did she keep her apparent promise to him. Billy's fate was a mystery even to her. Jill can’t decide between disappointed and proud.
“I boarded the Ecliptic Express, it was stopped and completely overrun by infected B.OW.S. Umbrella security attempted to bring it to an unknown destination, but I applied the emergency break and crashed. The crash site was the underground of Umbrella’s training facility.”
Her hands clench her papers tightly, no doubt recalling such horrors couldn’t be easy.
“From what I discovered, this facility was run by a James Marcus, who was running experiments alongside Earl Spencer. The facility was also occupied by Dr. William Birkin and Al…Alb…”
“Albert Wesker.” Jill finishes for her, finding herself rather numb to the name now.
If anything, she looked thankful not to have to say that name. “From what I witnessed, several human experiments were conducted here, as well as used to test B.O.W. efficiency. The release of B.O.W.s into the facility and surrounding area is suspected to be a purposeful act of revenge towards Spencer.”
With a curt nod, she signals Jill to continue.
“That is when we entered the Spencer Estate. As Agent Chambers stated, these were the sites of research and experimentation. The release however seems accidental, perhaps as a result of the accident at the facility. Though this may also be the result of several incidents over time.
After confronting Wesker, he released the tyrant but was impaled by it, and is believed dead.”
Believed, yet her voice and those of others implied that deep down, they didn’t. There was no way he could be alive, and yet even that seemed a possibility. The very rules of life and death seem to bend and curl in Raccoon City’s remains.
And then…Of course, came now. Jill can still feel the wave of heat that followed the explosion, the way it rocked the copter and holding onto the seat and Carlos for dear life.
“As we know, Chris is in Europe. Have we been able to contact him?”
“No.” Is Barry’s curt reply, looking sympathetic. Jill feels much the same, giving a nervous peek through the windows and to Claire just outside, chatting happily with Sherry, unaware of their talk about her brother.
“At least we know where he is.” Rebecca pipes up, attempting. Jill realizes that in that regard, however small, she has less to worry about.
“Me and Brad were the only S.T.A.RS agents left in the city,” she says, stiffly. “As you can imagine…He is no longer with us. But that’s not what’s important.
They have something new, something bigger. Something intelligent.
It didn’t care for civilians, or other B.O.W.S…It was only after us.”
“You know this for a fact?”
“It said as much.”
Barry sighs, runs his hand along his face. “Damn.”
“There’s something much more going on, something bigger than Raccoon City."
Of course, they were lacking the most important thing for an investigation: information. All they had were nightmares and dead bodies.
Jill looks out the window again, not eager to ask Claire or the little one to testify in front of them, but they’re gone.
They’ve burst through the door and into the room, Sherry clinging to the younger Redfield’s hip.
“The TV! Now!” Claire snatches the remote before anyone else, switches to the news channel. Everyone’s heads jerk to meet the tiny, boxy television that hung in the corner wall.
“Following the sterilization operation ordered by the U.S. Government of an experimental thermobaric missile to eradicate Raccoon City, Umbrella Corporation has filed a lawsuit in response to a suspension of business.”
The woman, orderly blonde and blue eyed, prime and pristine spoke calmly of what sounded like a natural disaster to their ears.
“While the reason for this suspension is unknown, Umbrella claims a loss of assets and funding due to the decision to neutralize Raccoon City. Survivors and families of those deceased, as well as the press continues to hound the president for answers, who has yet to make a statement. Mayor Warren of Raccoon City has yet to be found dead or alive, search parties are expected the following week.”
Yes, things were much, much bigger than Raccoon City.
The decision not to follow Chris’ footsteps in Europe isn’t an easy one, Rebecca assumes.
“I plan to use the samples of Agent Valentine’s blood to investigate the possibility of a vaccine. However…I…must request at most a week’s leave.”
Her request isn’t met with the shock she would have suspected, and perhaps it was understandable, to just want to be…away. Rebecca knew she wouldn’t be blamed.
But she wasn’t after a vacation.
“I believe we may have an anonymous lead in Mexico.”
That, that does earn a reaction. Jill eyes her down from her side. She could've have just left it there, she didn't need to say that. She...
“They claim to have been present during the events that unfolded at the Training Facility, as well as a witness to crimes committed by Umbrella researchers. I think it would be beneficial to take them into police custody…For our sake.”
“You think this is wise?” Jill says.
Rebecca would do it, whether her coworkers, her friends agreed or not. But she wasn’t just convincing them, she was convincing Jill. She was convincing herself.
“What they know and saw could aid us in our investigation. If not, I believe it would be more dangerous if we leave them alone, when they know of our involvement and Umbrella’s experiments. This information could make or break our investigation, and our safety."
There’s general uncertainty among the others, no one willing to accept or deny her request. They could recount what they know all they wanted, but what to actually do about it was a complex, difficult question to answer.
Perhaps it would be easier, if they had a captain, if they had someone to take the lead.
All they had was survivors.
“And do you have confirmation that this person even exists? Or that they were actually present at the facility?”
Rebecca nods, takes a deep breath.
“I saw them.”
“I’m sorry.” Is the first thing Jill says as the rental’s engine purrs, pulling out of the police station parking lot.
Rebecca holds the postcard between her fingers, twists them and switches it from side to side. She’d been forced to present it, to admit she had been reached out to.
The consensus? Agent Valentine and Agent Chambers would fly out to Veracruz, Mexico in search of this mysterious witness.
“I would’ve had to lie either way.”
“I know, but…I’m sure you want to keep this private. As much as you can.” There’s an uncomfortable silence in the few minutes it takes to reach the highway, towards the next town over. “But you had a point, you know. It would be dangerous to let someone with that information go, whether you trust him or not.
…How much does he know?”
“As much as I do…He was with me the entire way,” Rebecca shrugs. Her legs are pulled up on the seat, sneakers slipped off. Her socks were different colors and lengths. She looked so small, and again Jill is filled with guilt. Rebecca had always been important to her, she didn't want to have to hurt her like that. “He would never do anything, he was disgusted with Umbrella too. He’d never…He just wanted to be free.”
“You gave him that, Rebecca.” Jill offers, not sure where to tread. As much as Jill still couldn’t let go of the accusations, the supposed massacre by his hands, he was clearly important to her. She believed him. Jill didn't it, not yet, but she tried to consider both sides. “He is free. As free as he can be, I suppose.”
Rebecca is quiet, slouched against the door. She just looks out the window, at the passing cars and trees. The dog tags are in her hands. Jill sighs and turns on the radio, turns it to the alternative rock station. It deafens the rain pelting the windows, the drums and bass and guitar rumbling the car from the inside out.
“…You know what the first thing he did when we got outside was?”
Jill turns down the radio.
“I unlocked his handcuffs, he tossed them into the woods and just…collapsed. Fell into the grass, spread his arms out and…smiled. Like he’d never touched it before. The sun was coming up and he didn’t look away, just let it hit him….He looked happy.”
She’d never tell a soul, but she wishes she could go back and just lay there with him, feel the grass and the sun and the wind and pretend she wasn’t about to enter an entirely new hell. Maybe he had the right idea, running.
“He probably never thought he would seen the sunrise again.”
“I felt that way, too.” Rebecca says, Jill doesn’t take her eyes from the road. “Have you ever felt that? Did you feel that at the mansion?”
“…No.” Jill sighs. “I did, a couple days ago. The thing that stalked me, he…when I got infected, it was the worst pain I ever felt. I was out for two days. I thought it was over.”
If she was being honest, she didn’t want to be having this conversation. It happened, it was over. Jill knew the implications. There may still be virus in her blood, there might still be vaccine. Other than that, how she felt wasn’t important, taking down Umbrella is. Getting Rebecca this closure so they focus on their mission is.
“…How did you survive?”
“There was an Umbrella force still in the area, three members left. One was a turncoat, the other dead. His name was Carlos, we worked together.” Jill’s fingers drum on the wheel, her foot presses the gas a little harder and the turbo jerks as she turns onto the turnpike. “I told him to shoot me, but he’s an idiot, so he didn’t. He barricaded us up in a room and ran into an overrun hospital to find a vaccine he had no idea existed.”
“…But you’re here because of it.”
“I saved his ass a couple times too, thank you very much.”
“You understand then.”
Jill huffs, faintly remembers the vase of roses that was on her bedside table.
Sorry, came to visit but you were out cold.
I’m going back to Umbrella, but don’t worry! That old guy gave me your contacts, I’m with you guys now, I’m going undercover.
Call me if you need anything (anything ;) )
“I knew him longer than a night, and he wasn’t a convicted criminal.”
“You were asleep for half of it!”
Still, she can’t help a small laugh. And when she dares a look to the side, Rebecca is giving her this dumb grin.
“Something about a life or death situation really brings people together, doesn’t it?”
“…Yeah.” Her reply is soft. “…Speaking of your infection…”
“I have the antibiotics with me, don’t worry.” The T-virus in her might be gone, but a wound was still a wound, one that that gotten all types of grime and dirt into it, that had been open and wounding with no time to be tended to. The stitches itch.
“…Can I see it?”
"It's fine." Jill turns the radio back up, shakes her unused foot anxiously. Rebecca realizes she must have pushed too much. She’d seen the way her coworkers coped after all this, and she knew Jill’s type. The type that just pushes through and keeps themselves busy to ignore the hurt. Rebecca’s been there.
“Maybe when we’re at your place, 'cause I'm a little busy right now, so how about some directions?”
Rebecca feels a little bad packing her bag in front of Jill, who had quite literally nothing to her name anymore. She notices the woman hadn’t taken off her cap or sunglasses when she entered, leaned against the wall. Patient.
The logistics of this impulsive trip weren’t the best, Rebecca knew that too. Sure, they had a name to a location, but it’s still a town. A town with a large population. And yet they were going there in search of a single man purposely trying to live low.
He was in hiding, technically.
The realization makes Rebecca pause her folding, something unsuited for West Virginia’s fall but for Mexico’s sun.
Why did he reach out to her? To the station, no less? Any other time that would’ve been suspicious at least, a threat at most.
Why was he risking his cover for a postcard?
“I don’t mean to rush you, but we do have a flight to catch.”
Rebecca feels her pulse quicken under her skin. He wasn’t that stupid, he would’ve known he was risking his freedom by contacting her.
But he did it.
Closing her suitcase, Rebecca tries not to think about it and instead runs over her mental checklist. Her medication, her clothes, toiletries, snacks, the files. Some hand-me-downs from her mom that would fit Jill, that she won’t be telling her about until she needs them because she will make Rebecca put them back. She’s stubborn like that. They both are. Good combo for a reckless mission like this, she supposes.
She blows kisses goodbye to her beloved rats, who were too busy munching fresh bananas to care. “Ready?”
“Yep! I’ll drive, if you want.”
“No, you won’t.”
“Hey! How do you think I get– got to the office everyday?”
“I know you can drive,” Jill huffs as they walk the stairs. “But I want to.”
She had said at one point that she felt most relaxed behind the wheel of a car, so Rebecca will allow her that. She probably craved the control, all things considered.
But Rebecca is a force to be reckoned with, and that’s why they stop for lunch before the airport. Jill asks how she can claim to be a medic when she pumps herself full of energy drinks, and she retorts that it is possible to eat something other than sandwiches for once.
“Name another food that you can put anything on, do it.”
And yes, they continued that argument on the plane.
“Alright, alright! You win!”
Rebecca giggles, relaxing into her seat. Jill was kind enough to give her the window. The medicine was making her pee a lot, so it was better she have access to the aisle anyways.
She’s about to flag down the attendant before Rebecca stops her. “Uh-uh, no alcohol while you’re recovering.”
“If I can survive two outbreaks and being infected, I think a tiny baby bottle of wine won’t hurt.”
“Your lucky that shoulder is your only injury! I told you alcohol inhibits cell recovery and immune system responses.”
“…If I show you, will you let me?”
Jill rolls her eyes, pulls the neck of her shirt to the side a tad. Rebecca winces in sympathy. The stitches are orderly and neat but there was just so many, they stretched so far. The skin they held was raised and red, surrounded by a watercolor of bruises, all purples and blues and blacks.
“…You can have one.”
“You know on the field, war surgeons got you wasted before chopping off a limb?”
“Y-you’re not losing a limb…”
“Still, it hurts like hell.”
Jill has four before she admits defeat, and before Rebecca starts getting anxious.
“So, what’s the plan?”
“Population’s in the 2000s. We're lucky he even gave us a city and not the whole damn country. How are we finding this guy?”
“…I…hoped you might have an idea.”
“Rebecca. Are you fucking serious.”
“I mean, just gotta think like a guy trying to hide, right?”
“You’d know him best.”
“We should check rural areas first, the stuff that’s not even on maps. I guess that’d be a good start.”
“...Wish we still had our undercover unit.”
“…I feel like an idiot.”
Jill shifts in her seat, and Rebecca cranes her neck to look away from the clouds, stiff even with a rather comfy travel pillow. It slipped from her mouth without intending, but it’s been on her mind ever since leaving her apartment.
This was why no one took her seriously.
“The child prodigy chemist of S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team does not get to call herself an idiot.”
Right. Alpha Team, because Bravo Team is no more. She wouldn't pretend that the little gesture didn't warm her heart.
She preferred to call them family, though.
“But…I dragged you on this stupid, insane goose chase without thinking, while you were still in a hospital bed–”
“This is without a doubt the stupidest plan…or lack of plan yet, don’t get me wrong. But I offered to come. What does that make me?”
“You’re just making sure nothing bad happens to me.”
“Maybe, but we’re already on a plane and we’re already halfway there. We’re doing it.”
“I mean it.”
Jill rises the armrest between them, inches closer so Rebecca can rest her head on her uninjured shoulder.
Softly, Rebecca stares back out the rounded window. The clouds are thick, thick enough she can’t see past them. The sunset dyes them a vivid range of reds and oranges and pinks.
She remembers Billy staring at the morning sun with her.
Was he looking at them too?
Her fingers clutch the tags.
Chapter 3: The High Priestess
Down and down the rabbit hole, Jill and Rebecca tread The Fool's Journey, finding themselves in a growing world of mystery and hints of an illusion.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Rebecca passes out quickly enough. Jill never found it as easy to sleep while in the air, her escape from a few days ago not included.
Before she did, she sheepishly passed the files to Jill. She understood the reluctance, but if they were going to find a legally dead felon, she at least needed enough info on the guy.
She trusts Rebecca. She does. And she doesn’t think Rebecca is the naive, blind optimist everyone dubbed her. She really didn't, even if she took it into consideration. She was just logical, and sure, maybe Rebecca had shown good intuition;
But Jill didn’t trust things like intuition, not when she had trusted someone like Wesker.
The folder itself is unassuming, all blank, no label. It had been lightly taped shut, but nothing that can’t be peeled away. When it opens, Jill is treated to multiple papers and clippings. She keeps it close to her lap, the paperclips had come loose and everything was at risk of tumbling out.
First and foremost is Rebecca’s– apparently fabricated – report. Placing it behind the rest, the next is his order for transportation, his mugshot staring back at her. Dark hair and darker eyes, brows furrowed, like burning a hole through the camera. The look anyone would have on death row, she supposed, the look of someone with nothing left to live for. She wasn’t going to judge a book by its cover, but...
Not offered any other vital information, she continues. The rest of the average papers are stapled together, making the bulk of the pile.
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, PLAINTIFF, vs. BILLY COEN, DEFENDANT.
Oh, Jill smirks and licks the tip of her finger, pulling away in the annex page, here we go .
She skims and skims, until something of use makes itself apparent.
“MR. COEN: We reached the village, Lieutenant Regan had everyone rounded up outside. It was men and women, and children. Just average people.
Q: You were able to recognize them as ordinary people, and not Guerrilla soldiers?
A: Yes. They had no visible weapons, even after a thorough search of their homes.
Q: The village was searched?
A: Yes, under Lieutenant Regan’s orders, sir.
Q: You knew these people proposed no threat, and yet you began to shoot.
A: No! It was Lieutenant Regan’s decision. He, and the other two soldiers were the ones to shoot. I tried to stop them – I requested he cease fire, when he – When I was hit, I fell to the ground and was unable to stand. The medical report proves it.
THE COURT: Is this true?
▋▋. ▋▋▋▋: The medical report does confirm this, yes. Bruising on the defendant’s forehead is consistent with the stock of the gun Lieutenant Regan was wielding. However, Lieutenant Regan and the other soldiers’ testimonies agree the hit was in order to incapacitate the defendant and prevent his fire. The defendant is believed to have suffered a severe concussion, as well as nearing a heat stroke, though the latter is consistent with the condition of other soldiers.
▋▋. ▋▋▋▋: Concussions can result in poor balance, fatigue, and blackouts, it was very possible the defendant fell as he claimed. However, they are also often accompanied by disorientation, confusion, and situational amnesia. On top of this, he has been deemed unstable from the trauma of his actions. Your Honor, I propose that due to these circumstances, the defendant’s testimony is not reliable.
COEN: What? No, please– I remember it all clearly, Your Honor!
THE COURT: Objection overruled.”
Jill has to stop there, feeling sick to her stomach. The wine or her medication, she’s sure. But nonetheless, it’s there and she looks to Rebecca again. Still blissfully unaware, still peacefully asleep. She didn’t want to admit it, but this transcription was little more than damning. She knew the experience of a concussion first hand, the details were always skewed and warped when you got your brain knocked around in your skull. The prosecution had a point.
Though, if their own captain, the leader of their criminal justice department...
Sighing through her nose, Jill had to wonder, and flipped a few pages over. The judge, the lawyers, the jury. Not a member of the jury bore his last name, nor in the audience, not a single family member in the mix. A pang of sympathy rings through her chest, as she scans the names again and–
Every cell in Jill’s body freezes, the hairs on her arms stand up. She...recognized some of these names, from where she didn’t know, but she did. And even as she went down the list they rung familiar from some place or another, until–
Last time, Jill hadn’t awoken Rebecca, but she’s grabbing the young girl’s arm and shaking her lightly before she can stop herself. The girl gasps awake, eyes wide and reaching to her hip, as if she would find her gun attached to her overalls. Her whisper sounded like it wanted to be a shout, but even just awaking she remembered their surroundings, a quiet and unassuming airplane. ”What’s going on!?”
“Did you look at the jury list for the trial, Rebecca?”
The poor girl is half asleep and probably all kinds of confused, but she slaps the pages onto her lap nonetheless, finger pointing to the offending name. “...Th-that’s…”
“Do you recognize any other names, Rebecca? Any at all?”
Squinting, Rebecca pulls her reading glasses from her front pocket. It takes a moment, eyes running up and down and then up, widening as they did. Her hands were shaking.
“These were– Some of these people, they were bodies identified on the Ecliptic Express…”
“Those were Umbrella employees, weren’t they?”
One or two or fuck, even five Jill wouldn’t of questioned. Umbrella had lots of employees, many ordinary people who had ordinary lives and that included jury duty. But...All of them, all of them were Umbrella employees. A whole room of Umbrella’s people including fucking, fucking Wesker. He’d taken a day off the day of this trial, said he had business to attend to, Jill remembered. What the fuck, what the actual fuck–
She forces herself to breathe, to not allow that damned name spike her pulse into hyper drive. He was dead. He was definitely dead.
“That’s suspicious right? A whole room of Umbrella’s people? That’s weird? I'm not overthinking”
“Yeah, it is, I mean I think it is–” Rebecca’s hands slip around Jill’s arm, hold tight and assuring. “Are you okay?”
“Rebecca.” Jill looks right into her eyes, brows furrowed and lips in a grim line. “You said the MP van crashed in the Arklay forest?”
“Yes, almost right next to where we landed.”
Desperately, Jill shuffles for the transportation order and almost rips it in her hurry.
Transfer Destination : Regarthon Base
Jill had been to that base before. Years ago, still in Delta Force, but she has.
It was in almost exactly the opposite direction of the Arklay Mountains.
“I believe you.”
“I believe you, Rebecca.” Maybe she didn’t believe this man she never laid eyes was innocent, but there was one thing she was sure of: something was very, very wrong about all this. “Let’s find him.”
Jill might have jumped the gun.
But after these last two incidents, she didn’t think she believed in coincidences anymore.
And she didn’t believe Wesker had ever had a normal life, normal “business” to attend to, that had been a lie. One of many.
(Except he did. He’d go out for drinks with everyone every friday, he had a favorite coffee order and a specific type of bagel he liked, he would rarely joke but he had a specific inside one for every agent, he even had a date once.)
The more and more she tried to convince herself that she wasn’t doing this for any reason other than getting Rebecca over this mystery man, the less she believed it.
Yeah, that had been her thought at first. See to it that Rebecca didn’t get her gentle self killed, get Jill out of that fucking hospital room and away from the looks of pity from her peers, like she couldn't handle what she was given. Let Rebecca see the man she missed if she was right, take him into custody if he was really a crook, comfort her if he was MIA. All possibilities she considered and none of them that would have long term consequences.
But the farther the went, more her intuition warned her, and the more things didn’t seem as straightforward as they did at first.
Was anything ever straightforward at this point?
For now, Jill was eyeing the beautiful model in front of her. A 1993 Grand Cherokee Jeep, in an earthy dull green coat. Used, affordable, but god, if Jill wasn’t getting one for herself after this mess. She’d never bothered with a car once she joined S.T.A.R.S, was always in walk or bus distance of the precinct. But if people knew her, they knew she loved cars. Perhaps the one downside of living in the city, with everything always in reach and cabs by the million.
She almost called it sexy, but realized anyone that isn’t Chris wouldn’t laugh at that, and she really didn’t want to look insane in front of the rental guy.
So like any good tourist, Jill weasels details out of a local with mostly fluent Spanish and Rebecca gets them something that wasn’t airplane food from a crowded and probably overpriced food truck.
“Didn’t know you could speak spanish, Jill!”
“Learned it in highschool.” Jill takes one hand off the wheel and sips lemonade from her cheap cup, small because she didn’t want too many bathroom breaks along the way.
“Do you know any others?”
“French, and...Well, only a few words of Japanese, really.”
“Only pet names, from my mother mostly.” Jill chuckles. “You know any?”
“No,” Rebecca admits, bashful. Rebecca much liked the language of numbers and symbols more, of the chemical type especially. She could recite long, mind-numbing equations before she could ever ask to use the bathroom in French.
The sun was straight at the top of the sky, so much so Jill’s sunglasses were a bit useless at the moment. Rebecca was finishing her food, trying not to let the map get sucked out through the windows. Jill would’ve preferred something doorless, but it wasn’t her car and from the tone of the rental employee, he was expecting her to beat the shit out of it, so she could care less about using A.C. with the windows open.
“Too bad we don’t get to sight-see.” Rebecca sighs dramatically, spread out in a seat much bigger than that of an airplane. She stares wistfully at the foliage they passed, at the green plains and hills, at the mountain very faint in the distance.
“Maybe after we find this guy.” Jill takes another long sip, turns down the radio as they pass a more residential area. “Where’s closest?”
Rebecca takes a moment to look over their map. A normal one, but dotted with red pen and words. It’d taken a few different locals, of the one that would talk anyways, to get such an extensive list.
Jill wishes wherever Billy Coen was, he’d have given a more specific hint. It was smart, of course, since he wouldn’t want to be found and dragged back to certain death. But if he knew Rebecca as well as Rebecca seems to think he does, he should’ve known she’d come looking.
"You should see it." Like he was asking her to. Asshole.
So, Jill figured to find a convict, you think like a convict.
And now they had a pretty decent list of the more rural parts of Veracruz, the kind they don’t even put on the maps. Populations in the hundreds or less, real simple living types of places. Places Americans go to find themselves or whatever types of places.
But now that she thought about it...would it be the opposite? Sure, bigger places had more police activity, but he could blend in with a crowd, be any other tourist that decided they didn’t want to leave. It’s not like the police here would be on the lookout for a man the U.S.A thinks is dead, and promptly forgot about in favor of the giant hole now where Raccoon City stood.
Good thing Jill never kept up her very very slight shoplifting hobby as a teen, the one that’d gotten her sent to military school in the first place, she thinks she’d make a pretty bad convict.
Maybe she just chose it because it was the easiest start, and they’d get lucky. Or Rebecca gives up and they head home.
She wishes she didn’t hope for the latter, it’d be like a kick in the stomach to see Rebecca disappointed, she can’t imagine the heartbreak.
But there was just already so many complexities to Umbrella’s growing reach and Billy Coen was just another loose end, one more little thing to make their jobs harder. If he was here, he was probably fine, couldn’t Rebecca just leave him be? Was it so bad to wish things were just that tiny bit easier?
...But Jill, against her will, understands. The same anxiety she feels knowing Chris is in Europe, away from her protection. And knowing Umbrella is Europe, where her parents still remained.
The dog tags are weighing down one corner of the map, the chain wrapped twice around Rebecca’s wrist.
Jill bites back her guilt in favor of hearing Rebecca rattle off names, but the closest was unnamed, so miniscule it didn’t even receive one. Good thing the locals knew these spots, she supposed.
She lets Rebecca point her to the right direction and paths as they went, letting whatever the station wanted to play do so over the wind whipping beside them. It was so, so easy to pretend they weren’t on some vague, unplanned, almost pointless mission. That Jill hadn’t just survived a second outbreak and a nuke. That Umbrella wasn’t currently wrecking life as their knew it and Chris was somewhere safe and sound and known. That they were just two girls having a vacation in Mexico. And Jill definitely did not see Wesker’s name on a court record.
“You good over there?” Rebecca was leaned against the door, eyes mostly closed. Jill wouldn’t blame her for wanting to sleep, considering her rude awakening on the plane. “I’m gonna need those directions.”
“Just thinking.” She sighs. “Take a right.”
Like it wasn’t obvious.
“What does it mean? Wesker being at that trial...It’s not just that. People usually go to jail even when they have a death sentence, right?”
“Yeah, I guess, why?”
“He didn’t have any. They gave him a psych eval and that’s it, shipped him off to die.”
“And what were the results for the eval?”
The folder was tucked neatly in her bag, in the backseat. Needing to keep her eyes on the map, Rebecca wracks her brain to remember what she read.
“His mental condition was unstable due to PTSD, the concussion, and possible heat stroke. They said his memory was unreliable and he could be prone to violent outbursts.”
“...The perfect storm of no credibility.” Jill replies. “I really, really don’t want to doubt you, but you’re really certain he’s innocent? What if he isn’t, but thinks he is?”
“That’s such bullshit.”
“Jill, I’m twenty.” Rebecca rubs at her tired eyes. “And I mean it. He was nothing like that when I was with him. Perfectly coherent and aware, and the only ‘violent outburst’ I saw was towards James Marcus.” Her finger taps repetitively, consistently against the map. “Straight at this light. Once we learned it was Umbrella he-- He was pissed, but that was it. He was never like that towards me.
Cheerful exclamations of Spanish and guitar fizzes in and out throughout the car.
“...There was this other time.”
“...He...he took another hit to the head when I found him. He was mostly aware, nothing too bad...Actually, just moments after that--”
“There was...just this whole pile of skeletons, just tons of people. We’d been in an arena-cage-like thing with some earlier and it just...it hit us. And I think,” Rebecca swallows, hard. “I think he saw those twenty three civilians.”
“Human test subjects.”
“He just, he just started breathing fast and-- I’m just a field medic but I know what a panic attack looks like. Jill, I really do believe he was innocent. The thought of those innocent people dying, like those African civilians…R-right here.”
Buildings were beginning to come into view, little houses painted faded, but still vibrant colors, masked by the trees.
“Even bad people can have those, Rebecca.”
“ I know .” She huffs. “Why is so hard to just believe me? It’ll be different when you meet him. And Umbrella’s already done so many immoral, illegal things. Why wouldn’t they scapegoat someone for their convenience?”
“I think the question we should be asking is why Umbrella’s involved in the first place.” Jill’s fingers bounce on and off the wheel, waiting patiently as people and livestock slowly shuffle out of their way. “What made them wipe out some random village? Why have his squad do it? I just don’t see the correlation.”
“There has to be one, or they wouldn’t of used him like that.”
“For his sake and ours,” Jill pulls the car into park on a bit of lawn that didn’t seem to be anyone’s. “I hope you're wrong”.
Their search is, unsurprisingly, fruitless. Rebecca paces nervously behind Jill as she holds his mugshot and asks villagers if they’ve seen this man or not. She chooses not to go the police officer route, instead opting to call him a missing family member.
After a disheartening lack of Coen and a purchase of some snacks, Jill almost throwing hands with a rather passive aggressive goat that was very determined to eat her purse, and awkward stares, they’re off.
The next two villages come in rapid succession, and with each and every one passed Rebecca looks a little bit more hollow.
Sighing, Jill smacks her lightly between the shoulder blades, pulls her into a side hug. “Let’s get some chow.”
Rebecca just nods quietly. And remains so throughout the dinner. Jill manages a few smiles, most intentional but one accidental when she mistakes a jalapeno for a green pepper and chews it in one bite. Jill desperately rasps out “LECHE” and curses her embarrassingly low spice tolerance as Rebecca laughs and asks why the hell it would’ve been a green pepper at all, other diners look away in secondhand embarrassment.
Regardless, Jill can tell the girl just wants to find a hotel and rest. They find one not too far, and soon they’re in the muted quiet of their single bed room, because it was cheaper and at this rate they’ll be here awhile.
Jill strips to her underwear and lets Rebecca investigates her wounds, though the girl lingers on her shoulder. She could do it herself, but she lets Rebecca’s hands, gentle, skilled, precise clean and change her bandages. Jill would’ve just thrown on rubbing alcohol and called it a day.
She settles into the moderately comfy sheets, nothing fancier than home was but she didn’t feel the need to check for bugs or blood. She watches Rebecca take her insomnia medication and opt for her big, three-sizes-too-big S.T.A.R.S. t-shirt. She could admire the meaning behind the action.
Also, it was a really comfy shirt.
Jill doesn’t hesitate to wrap her arms around her, so incredibly small against her and damn it, she’s crying. She can feel her tears against her bare collarbone and sighs, pulling the medic closer.
“Come on, it’s just the first day.” She whispers. “Veracruz is massive, he could be anywhere, we’ll keep looking.”
“I know.” Rebecca whines. “I just want to see him already.”
Unsure of how to tread, and not wanting to return to that horrible tension in the car, Jill just sighs and rubs comforting circles into Rebecca’s back.
It’s an hour or so before the girl’s medication kicks in, and she starts to doze off, but she doesn’t slip under easily. Each time she thinks Rebecca’s asleep she wakes back up and sobs.
A rare bit of shyness almost stops her, but then Jill decides she doesn’t care how she seems and her voice is a quiet, stiff thing as her hand finds her back again.
“Dodo, l'enfant do,
L'enfant dormira bien vite,”
Jill wondered how much she must seem like her mother right now.
“Dodo, l'enfant do
L'enfant dormira bientôt.”
It’s a good thing Rebecca wouldn’t know the words or what the song was, else she’d be offended. She was twenty years old, she was an agent. She was a survivor.
“Une poule blanche
Est là dans la grange.”
Jill doesn’t hear her own voice, really. She hears her mother’s own attempt at the song, not nearly as smooth as her father’s, the bits and pieces of her Japanese accent mangling the words. But her voice was still so sweet, melodic like a songbird.
“Qui va faire un petit coco
Pour l'enfant qui va fair' dodo.”
By the time the lullaby finishes, Rebecca is already sound asleep. Jill wonders why it catches her attention so much lately.
Maybe it was knowing Rebecca had slept in that fucking mansion, alone in that room, fully aware anything could get her as she slept. That her exhaustion had been so great she risked death. It was never wanting her to feel like that again.
Umbrella had taken everything from Jill, from her home to her health to a good night’s sleep.
But she still had Barry, she had Claire and Chris, she had Rebecca.
Even though it could have awakened her, Jill pulls Rebecca close, so the girl’s head is in Jill’s chest and underneath her chin. So she can put her arms protectively around her.
She had Rebecca. And no one was going to hurt her again, no one was going to take her, not if Jill could help it.
Not sure what inspired me to plot this with a tarot motif but. shrug emoji
sorry if like, any of the Spanish is wrong, ya girl here is apparently incapable of learning a language with her two brain cells and is using google translate. Also I did the jalapeno thing at Buffalo Wild Wings and couldn't taste the chicken after :( Share my pain, Jill
Chapter 4: The Magician
Rebecca hadn’t thought her morning would consist of holding Jill’s hair back as she retches into the small hotel bathroom, it was hardly the kind of image you’d expect of the esteemed agent herself. She holds back the stream of questions she desperately wants answered. She’d already checked the mini fridge the room sported, the drinks were untouched. Jill hadn’t had anything to drink with their dinner the night prior, and all of their food tasted fine, not spoiled or anything.
So Rebecca came up with three conclusions. The first and best case scenario, the heat was just making Jill nauseous and would pass eventually. The so-so scenario was that Jill was having a sensitivity or allergic reaction to the antibiotics, which was bad but manageable.
The worst case scenario, there was still of the virus present in her body, and her immune system is desperately fighting it off. Jill was as healthy as healthy came drinking habits aside, she knew her friend was two years clean of smoking. She’d once refused to leave work with pneumonia and only did so when Captain Wesker sent her home, even. If a little nausea and vomiting was present then...that...couldn’t be too bad right?
They had found some files, some from researchers and Umbrella employees themselves, about the process of infection. Jill wasn’t showing anything of the sort, no itching or decaying skin, no hunger or…
Rebecca really didn’t want to think about it.
But didn’t Jill say that what attacked her was something none of them had seen before…?
Jill leans back against the wall, heaving. Instead focusing on the task at hand, Rebecca hands her a bottle of water. Ridiculously overpriced hotel water, probably, but keeping hydrated was important.
With a weak nod, Jill gulps down half of it, sweat plastering her hair to her forehead.
“We can still--”
“For fuck’s sake, Rebecca, we’re not...we’re not going back. We--” Jill stops to bend back over the toilet, but after a few gasps nothing comes, and she flops back down. “This is...He has important information. We need to find him.”
Rebecca wonders if she had convinced Jill of that, or Jill convinced herself of that. Or did she say it for Rebecca’s sake?
Unsteady, Jill stands and she immediately rushes to brace her, the much taller woman finding purchase in Rebecca’s shoulder. They meander into the main room slowly, until Jill can lay on the bed and Rebecca turns the standing fan towards her.
“Wanna shower…” Jill mumbles, trying to stand but Rebecca pushes her back down. “‘S this a heat stroke Becca?”
“I don’t think so...I mean, I’m just-- I’m trained in first aid and...treating seizures and stuff, I don’t know enough to…”
“...Forget it.” Jill huffs, finding a pillow and pulling it into her torso, curling around it. “Not sore or got a headache or anything, just feel gross.”
“That’s...better than it could be, I guess.” Rebecca sighs. “Just rest and keep drinking water, okay?”
Rebecca sighs, about to lean back before Jill interrupts her.
“You don’t have to babysit me. Go get something to eat.”
“I don’t speak spanish.”
“It’s a free buffet. And the service people down there spoke English, it’s alright.”
“If you say so…”
Rebecca stands, reaching over the bed to pull up her duffle bag. A fresh set of clothes, a plain t-shirt and little denim dress-- probably not the most appropriate for the weather but it’d keep her relatively cool, at least.
...Maybe she did care about fashion, she just preferred her coworkers not know. It’d just make her seem childish, like a teenager, which she very much wasn’t and yet everyone assumed. Not Jill, though, so it was fine. Here, she could afford to be herself, for once.
With one last worried look to Jill, who simply lay with her eyes closed and water bottle pressed to her forehead, Rebecca makes sure to lock their door behind her
The elevator is-- it’s not great, it sends her nerves on alert. Every time the door opens, she expects some reptilian monstrosity to reveal itself and lunge for her throat. But of course, there is none, just faint music and a few patrons walking around her into the hallway. With a deep, calming breath she pushes the first floor button, feels it shake as it descends.
Continental, a buffet for those staying. The smell of food makes her stomach jump, but first she-- she needs fresh air, she needs the sun on her skin.
She makes sure to step out of the way of the doors, closing her eyes and allowing the South American sun to warm her, to calm her nerves.
They’d been in Veracruz for a week now, and Rebecca was losing hope. No matter where they went and how long they drove, there was no sign of Billy. And with each and every morning and night that passed, she felt more and more like a complete dunce.
Searching for one man in an entire section of a country when he didn’t want to be found, what a joke. Rebecca was a joke.
But she knew that she wouldn’t be able to rest until they’ve truly searched everywhere, and she feels bad for Jill, who had to put up with her. With her tears, with her stubbornness, even as she was still recovering from infection. They should have waited. Rebecca should’ve started her research, starting from the samples of Jill’s blood. If Billy was still alive despite it all then he was fine on his own. Rebecca should’ve came on her own.
But she couldn’t pretend that even only for a night, she had grown so accustomed to him by her side, to make sure he was safe and healthy, to watch his back like he watched hers, that it felt...wrong for him not to be there. She knew he was safe, he could handle himself, but she didn’t know for sure and that’s what sent her anxiety running.
And every time she didn’t focus, her mind drifting back to him.
He wanted to be found? Right? Why else send her the postcard?
At the least, he wanted to see her again.
Feeling the beginning of tears on the edge of her eyelids, Rebecca huffs and decides a walk will do just fine. Just a short one. And then she’d come back and get some food, and bring some up for Jill as well.
At least the weather was nice. Jill wasn’t particularly fond of the heat, and in her condition she didn’t blame her. But Rebecca loved it, even the humidity. Everything was in full bloom, colorful and bright. People were outside, enjoying themselves, enjoying each other. Everything active and alive.
Rebecca smiles fondly, watching the big, crowded market just down the street. A couple with their kids, sellers announcing their goods, small little food stands billowing steam and tasty smells. Carefully, she meanders across the street to wander about. It always calmed her nerves back in the city, just taking in and watching. Nowadays, it reminded her the entire world wasn’t overrun experiment facilities and mansions.
A few seemed to yell to her, and she just politely smiled and gave a nod. She really wished she had learned to speak Spanish, but it seemed all her mind wanted to be a prodigy at was beakers and solutions.
Across the way of stands, she looks up to a flimsy little pickup truck. It was white, which only exaggerated the mud and dirt stains. The bed was surrounded by a barrier of wood, men were removing stacks of produce.
Dragging herself around the corner, Rebecca chuckles and goes to get a better look, enjoying her people watching.
And stops in her path.
She could be wrong. She could so wrong. But she it saw it, a momentary flash of black hair ducking into the back of a stand. And then after, reammerging and leaning against the pillar, one arm elegantly wrapped in black tattoos.
Plenty of people in the world had black hair and sleeves on one arm. But still, Rebecca finds herself moving slowly, one foot in front of the other. Again, again until she’s closer and she can recognize the profile, she’d stared at it multiple times. Didn’t they say everyone had a doppelganger? Did he have 20?
Every now and then, Rebecca would swear she saw him in a crowd, in a line, out of the corner of her eye.
She just keeps walking, like in a daze. The man jumps into the back of the truck and laughs with the other men, the engine rearing to life
She should run, but she just walks, dreamlike.
The tattoo isn’t his, long and tribal. It’s crowded and complicated, not like his. It isn’t him, she was just an idiot, as usual.
But the man looks back, probably just to give a sweeping look at the market, and his eyes fall on her and stop.
The engine roars to life, alerting him to join the others in the back before it takes off. Even still, once in the truck bed, he looks back, eyes focused on her.
And would you have it, the road curved just around the edge of the market. With only a second of a look, he’s gone and Rebecca is standing in the middle of the path like an idiot, staring dumbfounded at the empty space where he was.
Someone pushes her to the side and out of their way, snapping her out of it. With no time to think, she turns and she’s running, running through the market and back to the road. She looks both ways but it’s probably too short to actually be safe but she goes anyways. A car stops just in time to avoid her and lays on their horn, but she keeps going.
And books it just in time to reach the elevator, digging her sneakers into the carpet to lose momentum, slowing down enough she only barely smacks the wall.
It was a strange elevator ride, standing huffing, shaking, beat red and having tossed herself like a football as citizens stood as far away from her as possible.
Rebecca’s hands flail and she forgets how to use a key before the door actually opens.
The woman in question groans, rolling over to face her. “What?” And Rebecca must’ve had a look on her face, because Jill sits up suddenly, even if it looks like the movement pained her. “What happened?”
“I saw him.”
“I-I went for a walk and Jill I saw him! It was him! It was a market and he helped unload this truck and then it drove off but he looked at me and-”
“Do you know where it’s going?”
“...N-no, it went out of view.”
“...W-wait, he was giving produce to a person who ran a stand. Maybe they know? We have to ask. I can’t speak Spanish, Jill. Tell me what to say.”
Groaning, Jill pushes herself up. “Don’t worry about it, I’m coming.”
“Wait, no, you’re sick! Don’t do that!”
“You’re sure it was him?”
“Yes, Jill, I swear I am. It’s a lead either way isn’t it?”
More of an idea on where to go than they've had since landing in the country, anyways.
“Alright, just, can I shower first? And get food?”
Rebecca didn’t want to admit that she wanted to skip all that and just run back over there, practically about to burst from the energy of it. But if she was making Jill do this the least she could do is learn a little patience.
The steam from the bathroom leaks through the door. Even in a place like Mexico, Jill practically boiled her skin off in the shower. Unbeknownst to Rebecca, a majority of said shower was spent with Jill leaning still against the wall and not even washing, just letting the water run over her, telling herself that she wouldn’t strangle Rebecca the moment an opportunity was presented.
When she came out, Rebecca was staring at his mugshot, as if trying to remind herself of his face. A face she’d seen in memories and dreams and nightmares alike. “It was him.”
Jill checks them out and, while technically not supposed to leave with it, the hotel reluctantly let them fill paper bags from past fast food adventures with breakfast goods and head out.
"¿Has visto a este hombre? ¿Sabes a dónde fue?"
Jill had to flash her badge to him, though Rebecca wonders if he understood it or if it really held any weight anymore.
“Hacia Jalapa. Una pequeña ranchita. Traen productos para vender cada fin de semana.”
“Gracias. Lo apreciamos.”
And like that, they were on the road again, like they had never stopped.
The ranchita really was small. Jill was fairly certain you could make a guessing game of the population. Still, it radiated rural homeliness. Cozy, tucked away, a little slice of paradise, at least from an outside observer. The trees were thick, some mountain or another tucked away in the distance, painted against the sky.
The road was bumpy and rocky and fuck it, they’ll go on foot.
Rebecca had driven halfway, so Jill had time to let the wind dry her hair and shove concha and egg and bean burritos down her throat in an attempt to ease her stomach. After a pit stop to allow Jill to paint the roadside greenery with said breakfast foods and a lecture on not to eat so fast, she had decided that being in the passenger seat with Rebecca behind the wheel was too nauseating an experience for her to bear.
So they step out of the car and give unfiltered stares, Jill on edge and Rebecca practically shaking. “Don’t act strange. I know you’re sure he’s here. We don’t need to get kicked out for being weird foreigners.”
Rebecca nods slowly, and they begin to walk. So Coen was working a farm, then? That would be a great clue if not for the fact there didn’t seem to be any other occupation here. They see a barber cutting people’s hair in the streets, a little bakery, but everyone and their dog had a private little farm in their front yard.
Jill had just been declined by another person when she turns and realizes Rebecca is nowhere to be seen, lighting her senses on fire and pumping her with adrenaline. “Rebecca? Rebecca!”
Still, she just tries to speed walk and seem relatively un-weird. They had to be unassuming, why she isn’t sure, but she feels it. She’s learned it, since the mansion incident, to keep under cover.
There’s campesinos outside a ragged looking building, a dormitory or apartment perhaps. Jill tries not to sound out of breath.
"Mi amiga, ¿se fue por aquí? Cabello castaño corto, 160 centímetros ... er, jean ... no, vestido de mezclilla!”
“¿Esa niña? Ella salió corriendo. ¿Quién eres?"
Jill ignores him and pushes through a metal gate to a degrading picket fence, and is witness to fields and orchards as far as she can see, expanding far outside the village. The greenery is dense and all-encompassing, she can’t see her from here.
Allowing herself to run fully, Jill speeds down halls and halls of trees, probably knocking mangos every now and then, sending their crushed bits into her shoes with the dirt and mud from recent waterings. “Rebecca?? Rebecca!”
It was a stupid thought to have, but just her being out of sight insites something primal out of her, like a cat looking for her kit. Rebecca was capable but anything could lurk in any corner in a world like theirs and--
Rebecca’s figure is just a small speck, but she spots it and runs as fast as she can without slipping on the gravel path.
She stops just short of her, about to call out her name, when she realizes what she walked upon.
Rebecca was standing shock still, her backpack slipped to the ground and forgotten. There’s flies here and there, attracted by the scent of manure and bouncing off of her but she doesn’t notice them.
Instead, she’s staring into the equally wide eyes of Billy Coen himself, shovel perched in the dirt and leaned against it, looking like he shouldn’t exist in the flesh.
Billy looked at her in disbelief, unwilling to believe it was actually her. But he couldn’t forget that face, and with the sun hitting her and illuminating her, there was no way he could be mistaken. She looked different out of uniform, like a civilian. Not a special agent caught in a nightmare, like a regular person.
“...Billy?” It was so quiet he almost didn’t hear her, voice the same as when she’d screamed it, when he was being washed away by the water system in Arklay.
His heart felt like it was being crushed in a fist, beating fast in an attempt to put blood in his brain, to make him speak through his shock. The words don’t want to come out of his throat, he doesn’t want to say them either, but he has to.
“I’m sorry, miss. I think you’ve got the wrong person.” He chuckles, and it sounds empty even to himself.
She looks heartbroken, immediately, and that crushing feeling is worse. He’d mulled over those words every other day, and what kind of responses he’d have to her, if this ever happened.
But as it turns out, he did forget how bold she could be. She doesn’t get confused or mad.
Like breaking out of a trance, she takes a timid step forward. Her hand ducks beneath the collar of her shirt, and for a moment he’s confused, wondering what’s about to happen to him, what kind of weapon will be pulled.
Nothing could have prepared him for the two little silver rectangles she pulls out, that hit the sun and reflect it, like a movie before his eyes.
“No, I don’t think I do.”
She unstraps it from her neck, and carefully, puts her hand out to him, offering them. She looks hopeful and scared, or, or, he doesn’t know what.
He looks at them in his hand, his dog tags, the only possession he had had to his name, that she used to prove him dead. She still had them? She still had them.
She still had them .
He cracks. He shouldn’t be but he does. “Rebecca?”
And then she rushes forward and envelopes his waist in her arms, and he can’t help but gather her in his own and hold her there tightly. It’s her. It’s actually her. For some reason, from some twist of fate, she was here and in front of him and he was hugging her. Healthy, unscarred, alive.
His senses try to get him to back away, with the same resounding message of you shouldn't be here, it's dangerous, get out of here, be safe. But god, he heard about the bomb used on RC before he left, he didn't even know if she survived that mansion she set off after, but that nuke had drained all hope from him that she was still alive. He would try to reason with himself that it was Rebecca, the rookie skilled enough to survive a nightmare never seen before, Rebecca who fought a tyrant on her own, Rebecca who saved his life. She would make it. She had to make it. But he would never know for sure.
So goddamn it, he was going to hold her, let himself put all those worries to rest and just be grateful she's here.
The moment ends too soon. She pulls back, and he lets his arms go lax, she just holds onto them and looks at his face. There’s tears running down her cheeks, and if he weren’t so frozen in place he’d wipe them. He couldn’t put words to this, not really.
If only you could put a million words and a story into one. Oh well.
“You’re alive.” Rebecca smiles before a sob makes it twist and she’s pulling herself back into the hug. “You’re actually alive.”
“It’d be an awful waste of the life you gave me to not be.” It wasn’t smooth, it wasn’t even funny but it was the truth. It was rotten and dull and full of paranoia but she gave it to him so he’d keep it, as long as he could. “It’s good to see you again, Dollface.”
“You have no idea.” He can hear her laugh through the tears, right next to his ears. “You didn’t make it easy, you know that? We’ve been here for a week, running all over the place.”
“I didn’t think you would-- that you would come.” Billy pulls back this time, still close enough to hear her breathe. “You weren’t supposed to. I just wanted you to know, that I made it out.”
“Are you surprised? You’ve should’ve seen this coming.” Her lips are even shaking, god, he didn’t want to see her so upset. Didn’t want to be the one to do that. She shouldn’t be here. She laughs nonetheless, uses her arm to wipe her nose. “I thought you were dead. I thought you didn’t make it out, you know?”
He’s about to respond, something about how if the facility hadn’t killed him then nothing could, but he sees someone. A woman looking suspicious and not at the same time, black tank and jeans, sunglasses and cap. Completely unidentifiable.
And then Rebecca turns around in his arms, beaming like a lighthouse. “Jill! It’s him! We actually...We found him!”
The woman, “Jill” removes her sunglasses, giving him a piercing stare. She reaches into her pocket and her wallet unfolds, the badge gleaming from the sun. “Agent Jill Valentine.”
The connection doesn’t click in his mind just yet, that that is Rebecca’s comrade and friend and that he hasn’t just been baited into a huge trap. He couldn’t help the stupid look of betrayal, the way Rebecca’s face falls after it. “It’s not like that. Billy. she’s my friend.”
“We’re not here to arrest you, Coen.” Still, that doesn’t make him any more uneasy. Her next words paint a pretty picture as to why. “Quite the opposite, actually. Can we talk?”
Jill stood frozen, only to bat away flies and stare at the scene in front of her. For a moment, anger flashes through her, Rebecca came all this way after you and you send her away?
But then they're hugging, tears shedding with something unspoken, and Jill feels like an intruder, like she's witnessing something private, something sacred.
And suddenly it dawns on her. Rebecca had experienced this nightmare before any of them had. She had been the first to see her friends die, to witness unspeakable horrors, to almost face her doom. And similarly, Coen would have never survived without her, never found his freedom. He kept her alive and she gave him hope. They needed each other and maybe that hasn't changed, not yet.
That nightmare had forged a bond between them Jill would never understand, and she almost smiles. She didn't really believe in that whole red string of fate thing, but if it exists, their hands were surely handcuffed together in scarlet thread.
Metaphors aside, the space takes an awkward vibe, and she coughs. “Lunch? On me? Or I can leave.”
“Uh, yeah, don’t worry about it. Give me a minute.”
Billy retreats into the building, saying something about his wallet. Jill doesn’t know what he says to his apparent boss, but it seems he’s taking a lunch break.
She turns, to look to Rebecca, still staring where he was. “...That was really him?”
“That was really him.” Jill huffs, bewildered. “I wasn’t optimistic, not even from the start. But son of a bitch, Rebecca. You managed.”
“It was a coincidence…”
“Eh, I don’t believe in fate and all that, but this feels almost convincing.”
Rebecca snorts, too giddy to be anything else. “You don’t have to be so cynical.”
“I do, it’s how I stayed alive.” Except for Carlos, maybe, but that was implying he was smart enough to deceive her. “But I’ll give it to you this time, Rebecca, this is something. Saw him by chance at a market when we’ve trying to follow this random goose chase this whole time, figures.”
She nudges Rebecca carefully, “Was it worth it?”
Rebecca nods, smile getting bigger. “More than worth it.”