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I Awake

Chapter Text

What should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home
- Goodnight Moon, Shivaree

He’s standing in the kitchen. A small dining table is right in front of him. He isn’t in his father’s house; the place is smaller, quieter.

He is back in his apartment, the one he used to rent when he was an officer-in-training. The walls and carpet are cream-colored. There’s a sliding door that leads to a balcony.

Except it’s a little different. There’s more clutter. He’s a tidy person with a hint of a minimalist in him. He wouldn’t buy those succulents in terrariums on the hanging shelf. He wouldn’t leave a pile of dishes stacked on the sink.

Someone else is living there with him.

He walks to the living room. There’s a throw in the sectional which wasn’t there before. A tray in the ottoman, a book on it, a bookmark in between its pages with a feather charm.

A tall vase sits on the glass corner table— and in it is the most hideous thing he’s seen yet— a set of tall, curvy twigs that didn’t match the look of the vase. He never felt more compelled to dump anything else in the garbage in his life.

“Hey babe, wanna come buy groceries with me? We’re out of toothpaste.”

He turns around to the sound of the familiar voice.

Claire stood there in lounge pants and a white tank top, hair tied in a ponytail.

Babe?

“Sure, let’s go,” he replies anyway.

He doesn’t remember how they got there, but he found himself walking down an aisle alongside her. Petals, stems and leaves left and right, all made of plastic. She’s pushing a cart, still dressed in her comfy pajamas.

“Remember that tall vase in the living room? The one with the wide rim,” she asks. “What do you think would look good in those? Fluffy ones? Or should I just add more leaves?”

So she’s aware that it looks like shit.

“You are asking the wrong person,” he scoffs. “I hate fake plants.”

“Really?”

“They’re just the most pointless things ever. They collect dust. And look tacky as fuck.”

She gives a defeated sigh in response. “I just want more plants at our place. So what do I do with it then?”

Our?

“I dunno, empty it? Throw out those ugly twigs,” he suggests. “And if you really want plants, then buy real ones.”

“Good call,” she says, moving along aisle after aisle with him in tow. They reach the outdoors section and are approached by a staff member, who asks them in a sing-song voice the scripted question of ‘are you finding everything ok?’.

“We’re just looking around,” he answers, after which the employee walks away, and he noticed Claire had gone on without him.

He looks around. The outdoors section felt more enclosed, and he realized that they are inside a huge greenhouse, with lots of plants around, real plants this time. It’s like they were lost in a jungle.

He notices that the other plants are actually parts of one huge plant that had grown so wild, it had consumed the entire place.

He spots Claire in one corner, hunched over something on the floor.

“Hey Lee, check this out,” she calls. “These look easy to maintain.”

On the floor, in their individual pots, are small shrubs: green, red and blue.

He’s seen them before somewhere.

Again, he doesn’t remember returning to their place, but he’s back in the living room, sitting on the floor. Claire is behind him seated on the couch. She is rubbing his arms and neck, giving him a relaxing massage.

Weren’t they supposed to get some toothpaste?

She kneads the muscles on his left shoulder. It hurt and made him flinch. Wasn’t there something wrong with that part? He doesn’t recall.

“You need to relax your shoulder muscles, babe,” she says, lightly tapping on both shoulder blades. He feels her come closer and her breath tickles his neck— she’s planting soft kisses on one side from the base up to the back of his ear.

The sound of light rain could be heard from outside.

Claire stops her kisses and whispers, “I’ll go make some coffee.” She gets up from the couch.

Her voice sounded so sweet and loving, like they’ve been doing this forever.

He gets up and walks out to the balcony.

He was going to do something in there, and he should be holding something in his hand but there was none. Is it supposed to be a cigarette? Didn’t he quit smoking during his training in the academy?

But it is night time, and the rain is stronger than it appeared from inside of the house. He looks around and there’s a patio set with an umbrella. He doesn’t remember his balcony looking that spacious before.

On that same patio table is the small blue shrub. Claire must’ve bought it from the store.

Something about the scene strangely looked familiar to him.

He approaches the table, but notices a strange, glowing light emanating from below the railing. He looks down.

Fire.

The odd mix of cold, heavy rain drenching his skin and the warmth emanating from the fire below was perplexing. He moves his left arm to shield his eyes from the rain—and feels a sharp pang on his shoulder, making him flinch.

The rain became louder and heavier. It’s almost impossible to see anything. The fire was extinguished gradually but quickly. He could see faint traces of smoke from where the fire had been, but it’s still too dark and blurry to make out anything. He suddenly recalls, there was supposed to be a flashlight in his hand, not a cigarette. But he’s still holding nothing.

He hears the loud scrape of something— like metal— and it screeched so loud— he looks left and right to find out what it was but it was so dark— and he thought he heard the sound of footsteps—

—loud and angry—

—coming closer—

stompstompstompstOMPSTOMPSTOMP

“Leon, hey, wake up,” a figure was hovering over him, whispering, and he could feel its breath on his face. It was too dark. His eyes are open, scanning around. There is no rain.

“You ok? You were making strange noises,” the whispering continued, and he recognized the familiar voice— Claire’s.

He tries to lift his head off the pillow. The muscles of his shoulders throbbed, but the left shoulder felt extremely painful, and he let out a faint cry.

Claire grabs his left lower arm and hip and begins to turn him to lay on his right side. “Careful. Can’t sleep in that position with your injury,” she said very softly, holding him in place, “and you can’t breath properly— here.” She quickly takes a pillow from the other bed, and he sees Sherry’s sleeping figure on it, her back turned to them.

“Hug this,” Claire said, placing the pillow beside him. “It’ll help keep you on your side.”

He squeezes his eyes shut and reopens them. “Was I... did we go out to buy something?” His voice was deep and raspy.

“Huh,” Claire said. “You’re dreaming. And you sounded like you couldn’t breathe.”

“...Right. Sorry if I woke you up,” he said, his vision finally adjusting to the darkness. He looks at the pillow beside him. “Is this your pillow?”

“It’s ok,” she responds. “Sherry and I will share. I just want you to stay on your side, ok? No more sleeping on your belly.”

But he always sleeps on his belly.

He was too tired to protest, although he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to fall back asleep.

“Goodnight,” she whispers, then hops back to the bed she was sharing with Sherry.

“Night, Claire. Thank you.”

He tried to remember the dream, but couldn’t recall most of it, just that it was unsettling. There’s definitely toothpaste involved.

He hugs the pillow and stays on his side as told.

Chapter Text

I can’t be near you
The light just radiates
- Malibu, Hole

He peaks out the window.

Some kid is running around making buzzing noises and pretending to be an airplane. His full and bouncy dirty blonde hair looks funny against his scrawny form. He’s viewing him from quite a distance, but he can see the moles on the kid’s back, the dark and long lashes that are so noticeable against vivid blue eyes, the sizable hole in the smile from two missing front teeth—

Hold up, he says to himself, is that kid him?

Those blue shorts with orange T-rexes in them were unmistakably his favorite. That’s young Leon Scott Kennedy alright. What an awkward looking kid, he thinks. Jumping and running around the backyard barefoot and shirtless, always pissing off the grumpy octogenarian next door.

There’s the faint sound of music playing from a radio. It’s that song with the catchy guitar tabs about being a gypsy or something like that. A Fleetwood Mac song. Oh shit, he thinks. It means she’s nearby— and true enough, there she is, sitting cross-legged, cigarette in one hand. It’s the A plus parent who fucked off with no explanation. And if she’s still here—because this is his father’s house— that means he’s no older than seven years old. She has her face turned away from the window so that he can only see her waist-length straw blonde hair, which is sadly the only thing he remembers accurately about her. But they must’ve really looked alike because nobody ever told him that he looks like his dad.

What is this all about, he muses to himself. He doesn’t wanna see her. Or maybe he does?

Little him starts spinning around in place now. “Look Mom, I’m a helicopter!”

“Be careful love, you’ll get dizzy.”

How motherly.

As if spinning in place isn’t taxing enough, little Leon proceeds to also spin in smaller circles. He watches in anticipation for the inevitable bout of nausea and perhaps some projectile vomiting.

But before that could happen, the kid just hits the brick wall and faceplants on the grass.

Loving mother gets up from her chair to help little him get up. She’s still holding her cigarette.

She says something to him out of earshot, maybe tells him to go back in, as the kid starts to skip to the door leading inside the house, which is to the right of the window he’s watching from.

The door opens. But it wasn’t little Leon.

Hi, Mom.

She stops in front of him, blue eyes looking down, cigarette still in hand. “It’s time to take a bath, love.”

“Ok, mommy,” he says. Why does he sound like a girl?

She starts walking and gestures for him to follow. He starts skipping to her direction. He feels a hundred times lighter in weight and everything around him suddenly seems bigger.

She leads him to a well-lit bathroom with white tiles and a garden size bathtub that is overflowing with bubbles. He absolutely loves bubble baths and didn’t waste any time taking off his T-rex shorts and hopping in.

He giggles as he scoops huge foams of bubbles in his tiny hands, and she positions herself on the side of the tub, scooping some with her finger and dabbing it on his nose. “That tickles!” he says, feeling a little bit of air escape from the gap in his mouth where his front teeth should be.

She laughs. All love and sweetness. He plays with the bubbles some more, forming mountains of foam with his hands as he feels her dump some on top of his fluffy hair. He starts to see the clear water underneath as he collects more foam for his mountains.

He sees something dark underneath the water but it moved a little too fast for him to be able to make out. He waits and stares at the bubbles between where his feet would be.

Something emerges. It looks slimy with lots of ridges.

A tail?

He feels something brush against the inside of his right leg. Whatever it is, it’s definitely hard and scaly.

He yelps, splashing some of the water at her and destroying his foamy mountains. “Mommy, something’s in the water,” he cries.

“Hush baby, you know there’s nothing in there,” she tells him with a smile, not even bothering to look at the water.

It slides across his lower back.

He tries to get up— but couldn’t because she’s holding him down with a hand— she brings the other hand to her mouth, taking one last hit of her cigarette before flicking it into the tub where it floated in the water. Now she’s holding him down with two hands.

“Mommy, please let me out!”

“But you’re filthy!” she angrily yells at his face and pushes him down even more.

He looks down at himself— and she’s right— he’s full of grime and mud— but so is the water. When did the water turn dark? He sees the cigarette she just tossed floating to join a huge pile of trash across the tub that had grown wider like a pool. The stench of garbage assaults his nostrils until he feels it again— that creature he’s trapped in the water with— it’s moving faster and more erratic. He feels its scales brushing against him everywhere on all sides.

He kicks and pulls away, successfully releasing himself from her tight grip.

He then tries to grab the sides of the tub, but there’s nothing to hold on to. Is he sinking? Or has the tub grown deeper? Whatever happened to the bright lights of the bathroom? It’s gotten dark, with the only light coming from a flickering lamp. The white tiles had turned into dark, grimy concrete.

Suddenly it’s harder to move— and his upper body feels heavier, like he’s wearing a jacket full of stones— he brings up his hands to his chest and looks down to see that he’s wearing a uniform, and a vest— a bulletproof one with three letters strewn across it: R.P.D.

He looks up to the edge of the tub that was now about ten feet above him.

“Leon! Get out of there!”

That isn’t his mom’s voice.

He tries to get up from his position but he keeps sliding down. He looks up again, and there she is, her gloved hand reaching out to him.

“Ada!” he screams, sounding more like himself. He raises his left arm, but it hurt too much. He tries again with the other arm. But it wasn’t enough, her hand is too far, and he just keeps sinking. He sees her try to reach down further, dark glasses covering her eyes.

Something about the view seems odd.

Maybe they’ve been in that situation before, only he was the one looking down.

He scrambles again to his feet to no avail. The water is moving— strong and steady like a current, carrying him along. He looks down. He is nearing the edge of what looks like a falls of sewer water. One by one, the floating pieces of garbage plunge into the depths below.

He looks above desperately. Ada withdraws her hand.

“Take care of yourself, Leon.”

He slides down rapidly to the edge and straight into the open mouth of the creature waiting below.

He chokes.

He opens his eyes to the sight of the ceiling fan and its blades spinning slowly. The muscles of his throat pulled.

He’s laying flat on his back, his neck hyperextended, the top of his head hitting the headboard.

He’s choking on his own spit.

He quickly gets up from the bed, ignoring the sudden jolt of pain from his left shoulder. The pillow that was on his side drops to the floor.

He walks away from the bed into the kitchenette and immediately hugs the wall for support, light-headed from the violent change of position.

The outline of the bottle is visible in the dark and he grabs it, opens it, shaking it a little to briefly see how many pills are left.

Claire insisted on getting him these over-the-counter painkillers despite his protests. He’s been splitting them in half so they would last longer, but realized how that didn’t do him any favors. Now he feels like an idiot for essentially wasting the medicine, as they could have worked if taken as instructed.

His mind drew a blank as he stares inside the bottle. What good would this do anyway? He’s in pain, but they’re not sleeping pills or brain bleach. It won’t make him forget his mother, or Godzilla in the sewers, or Ada.

Whatever. He pops one in his mouth anyway— the sight and feel and sound and even thought of water completely repulsed and scared him right now— so he tries to swallow it without— and realized too late that his throat is too dry to pull it off.

He chokes and drops to his knees. He beats his chest with a fist and tries to spit the bitter tablet out.

The night light turns on and on came rushing Claire and Sherry.

“I’m okay,” he wants to say, but all they hear is the gurgling sounds of his throat.

Well, shit.

Chapter Text

There’s no sex in your violence
- Everything Zen, Bush

Legs stretched out in front, hands folded together on his lap, he sits relaxed on a bench inside a moving train.

It’s too dark and quiet inside, and feels more claustrophobic. Maybe this is isn’t the train. It’s the cable car.

Which means they’re on their way to NEST. This is the part where she suddenly declares her affections, and the warning sirens in his brain started going off in full blast— but he risks his life doing what she asks anyway. Hooray.

But something’s different, because somehow, he just KNOWS what’s going to happen. What’s that saying? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

He’s not falling for the kiss this time, he thinks to himself smugly, twiddling his thumbs.

She sits quietly to his left. They have quite a gap between them. Her arms are crossed, looking stand-offish as always. She has her trench coat and sunglasses on.

For fucks sake, take that stupid thing off, it’s night time, he says to her but only in his mind.

She reaches inside one of her pockets. A pack of smokes. She opens it, takes one for herself, and offers him the box without a word.

He doesn’t smoke anymore, but tonight he doesn’t give a fuck, so he takes one.

She brings out a lighter and hands it over to him quietly. He swipes his thumb on the spark wheel, inhales sharply to ignite the stick, and exhales through his nostrils, a habit that grossed out his ex-girlfriend.

This is Ada. They can ride this thing forever and not say a single word to each other if he doesn’t talk to her first.

“Think this is the part where I tell you how excited I am about the FBI fucking up Umbrella,” he takes a puff, “and you remind me that I’m acting out of capacity, but ask me to get you the sample anyway. Ain’t that funny.”

She holds the cigarette between two gloved fingers. “What are you talking about,” she says coldly, “I already have the sample.”

Wait, what?

That caught him off guard, and he turns to face her, his relaxed pose shifting to a tense one.

She reaches inside another pocket with her free hand and shows him the vial. She slides it back in just as quickly and brings the cigarette to her lips.

He looks at her in disbelief. So what’s going on? Is this the train, then? Are they leaving NEST as it self-destructs?

So much for feeling smug and in control.

She lets out a soft laugh. “Oh, rookie, you should see the look on your face right now.” She flicks her cigarette away, then snatches his off of his fingers. He watches her hand extinguish it on the seat they’re on.

He looks back to her— how was she able to get rid of her glasses and coat that fast?

“I’ve been meaning to thank you.”

For what? For jumping in front of a bullet for her? For tending to her wound?

“For bringing the sample to me just like I asked,” she says, as if having read his mind. She places both hands on his chest, caressing it in soft circles— and he sees no bandage, no blood on him, just a clean uniform that has no trace of having traversed through sewer water.

“You shot that scientist between the eyes like a pro,” she positions herself, hiking up her red dress so she can straddle him, and he sees no bandage on her thigh either, just smooth, black stockings. “I bet you’re top in marksmanship in your class.”

Wait—he killed Annette Birkin?

He shakes his head and tries to wiggle her off, but she moves her face closer to his, her breath hot against his skin. “I could have done it without your help, really,” she whispers, eyelashes fluttering, “but you just had to make my day easier. So... allow me to express my gratitude.”

And just like before, she shuts him up with a kiss before he can say his protests.

He curses himself for not shoving her off at that moment. So many questions, so much confusion, and yet he just sits there and lets the kiss linger; she bites his lower lip playfully, and darts her tongue in his mouth, and he just lets her use him, control him, her kiss making wet noises against the low hum of the moving engines.

He looks down as he feels her warm hand playfully exploring his crotch; she catches him getting distracted, prompting her to go in for a deeper kiss, and just like the mesmerized idiot that he is, he closes his eyes and lets her skillfully unzip his fly.

She suddenly and forcefully straightens her upper body, breaking the kiss and bringing his face to her bosom, burying it between her breasts while simultaneously grinding her hips closer to his already hard cock— which she has already unleashed from his pants and underwear.

She braces her hands on the rail behind him for support as she looks at him seductively, teasing his cock with the elusive touch of her warm crotch as she moves her hips in circles.

Taking one hand off the rail, she brings it between them to grab the head of his cock, finding the hole with her thumb and tracing small, rapid circles around it.

He helplessly lets out a moan. She laughs at him for it.

She tugged at his balls gently, earning another moan. He doesn’t even remember when she started pumping the same hand up and down his length. All he knows is that it felt fucking good, he wants to come, and he still has no clue what the fuck is going on.

Ada dismounts him, keeping eye contact as she lowers her face down to his crotch, giving him a naughty, knowing grin before opening her mouth wide—

She’s gonna do it, she’s going to—

NOW ARRIVING AT NEST.

The hum of the engines halted as the cable car locked into place. “Hmpf. Didn’t expect it to be such a short ride,” she scoffs, then pushes herself up using his thighs—and walks off.

Fuck!

He sits still, trying to process what just happened— but the hiss of the sliding door and the sound of her high heels clicking as she walks away fast make him immediately get up from his seat.

“Ada wait!”

His pants drops to his knees and he buckles, reaching down to pull them up. Shit, he completely forgot that she just left him there, fly open.

He tries to connect the dots while simultaneously chasing her, keeping his eyes on her. She’s walking too fast. He struggles to zip his pants back up, so he just holds them up as he starts to run down the stairs. So— he shot Annette Birkin— she must’ve had a sample with her that he took and gave to Ada— and they’re at NEST—she’s walking way ahead of him, her trench coat and glasses back on— straight to the lab— to do what?

“What are we doing here?” he asks, almost shouting. He catches up to her as she halts right in front of the entrance to NEST.

“We?” she turns around to face him. “This is my extraction point,” she answers. The first metal door starts to come up.

He walks toward her—and stops as she raises her gun. It’s aimed directly at his chest.

The second door comes up.

“And this—“, she steadies her hand—

—the final door opens, revealing the bright light coming from inside the laboratory. One hand still trying to keep his pants from falling, he brings up the other to shield his eyes—

“—is where it ends for you.”

She pulls the trigger and hits him square on the chest.

He falls down to the floor. The warm blood from the wound saturates his uniform, spreading all over his left shoulder. He feels no pain. The white light brightens even more, blinding him, consuming him.

He stares into the light.

So... is he dead?

He blinks a few times.

Apparently not. He’s just facing the window. The sun is up, which means he woke up pretty late.

He tilts his head down and sees a tent formed by his raging boner under the covers.

He sits up in a panic to cover the embarrassment. He looks to his left— but only sees the unmade but empty bed shared by Claire and Sherry.

He sighs in relief, bringing a hand to his face to rub the bridge of his nose—it’s wet, and it smells like iron—

Blood?

He pulls the covers down and sees the bandage on his left shoulder soaking with bright red blood.

Shit. He must’ve been squirming in his dream and reopened the wound. He lets out another sigh and rests both arms on his knees.

So, which part of that goddamn dream is the worst? He just couldn’t decide. Is it him killing Annette, happily being Ada’s amoral and dumbass minion? Dying blue-balled, fly open like a punk? Going into the light with a boner? Or dreaming about almost getting a blowjob from a person whose life he failed to save?

Fuck it all.

He walks to the bathroom. At least Claire and Sherry aren’t here to witness this disaster, he thinks. Claire had noticed that he had not been getting good sleep lately, so she would leave and take Sherry with her, enabling him to rest undisturbed in the motel room.

A shower is what he needs right now, he tells himself. He’s going to wash off all this blood and clear his head. It’s only the beginning of the day, and he can’t have all this shit in his brain.

Or maybe— he looks down at the triangle formed in his pajamas— it’s just an excuse to take care of this damn morning wood.

He leans on the sink and looks at the mirror. He’s got bed head. A shower can fix that too.

“You’re disgusting, Kennedy,” he tells his reflection.

Chapter Text

I've been thinking maybe I've been partly cloudy
Maybe I'm the chance of rain
And maybe I'm overcast and maybe all my luck's washed down the drain
I've been thinking about everyone
Everyone, you look so lonely
But when I look at the stars
When I look at the stars, when I look at the stars
I see someone else
When I look at the stars, the stars
I feel like myself
- Stars, Switchfoot

It’s the last day of training in the academy. He’s made quite a few good friends thanks to his reputation as a top performer in his batch. He aced all the physicals and his idealistic nature was found endearing by most of his trainers. He wasn’t the most intelligent, but what he lacked in that department, he made up in his honest character and passion for the career of his dreams.

Graduation was coming. They were huddled in a park bench and were preoccupied with their futures. Todd wanted to be assigned in the West Coast where he grew up. Jasper was dreaming of his would-be adventures as a typical cop in Florida. Harry was planning to stay in Chicago where the academy is.

All he ever set eyes on was the small city of Raccoon in the midwest. He was completely fascinated by the incidents in Arklay Mountains. It was a story straight from the crime novels and films he was so enamored with.

He hadn’t made up his mind between becoming a detective or joining the SWAT team, but being part of the special forces in Raccoon— S.T.A.R.S. as they called it, was fast becoming his top goal.

“For real, man? But that place is so benign. Not to mention backwater,” Harry said.

“Weird decision, dude,” Todd chimed in. “Thought you’re more of the type to go where the action is.”

“You’d grow a belly as big as that Irons guy from eating donuts,” Jasper jeered, earning a chuckle from everyone. Except him of course.

He’d endured countless similar comments since he revealed his plan. He was derailing his own train, they said. Wasting all that potential with such an odd choice. He’s never been the type to be swayed by opinions or let others dictate where his life should be headed. Nonetheless, it did create an iota of hesitance in him that he tried his best not to show.

After graduation, he decided to drive to that very city he wanted to serve.

There was a certain warmth and serenity in the city that reminded him of small vacation towns. The mountains evoked a feeling of mystery and dread but only to anyone who had heard about the horrific murders; to the unaware, he imagined it would be a sight of tranquil and homeliness.

He visited the station in Ennerdale Street downtown. He flashed his trainee ID to the friendly clerk in the front desk, asking for permission to just walk around within her sight, as he just wanted to get a feel of what the place is like. She was kind enough to volunteer to find someone to tour him around, but he politely refused. He felt it best to do it alone so that he could internalize everything unbiased.

She told him a quick history of the building. What an odd choice to turn an art museum into a police station, he thought. The old design gave off a feeling of security and loneliness at the same time. An imposing statue of a goddess became the center of attention in the main hall, and the more he looked at it, the more he felt like it— and everything else within his sight— held more than what meets the eye.

He used one of the pay phones to call home and talk to his father.

He was happy for him. There was sadness in his tone, but no anger. He sounded at peace and genuinely proud. He was well aware of how much he wanted him to pick a different career, but he knew his son well. He had a calling and there was no steering him away from it. They were alike in that sense.

“Listen,” his dad said, “I was reading about the city and the incidents just like you asked. I can see why it appeals to you.”

He wished he could see the wide smile that had formed in his face at that moment.

“Wish I could be there to see the place with you. But be careful out there. Drive safe. I’m happy for you,” his dad continued.

Despite all the backlash he received, it was the only assurance he ever needed to hear.

He left the city with an odd sense of satisfaction.

Upon his return, the first officer he met was Elliot Edward— or half of him.

He was spared from suffering the same fate by Lt. Marvin Branagh— who could barely move due to his injuries. Nevertheless, he had such a presence that commanded respect and inspired justice. Had he met a lesser man, Leon thought, he wouldn’t have had the same confidence pushing through. He owed him his life, and he left him dying at that very same spot where he stood once, admiring the tall goddess statue during his first visit.

“If you see one of those things— uniform or not— you do not hesitate.” An advice from a dying man who wanted to save him from making the same fatal error.

And so he shot Officer David Ford several times in the knees— and head— as he lunged towards him, eager to rip out a piece of his flesh.

He almost ran out of bullets trying to blow the head off of Officer Rita Phillips by the stairs, blasting away at it piece by piece until she collapsed headless in front of him.

Officer Neil Carlsen was hanging by a pipe to his mouth in the ceiling, falling almost directly on top of him in front of the records room. When the abomination in the trench coat appeared and chased him in the hallway, he ran the opposite direction, and looked back just in time to see the officer’s head— and the rest of his torso— get crushed in a pulp under its heavy boot.

Officer George Scott was slumped on a desk in the West Office. He fell from his chair and started chasing after him, and as he blew his chest to bits, tearing an arm off in the process, he slipped on a stack of red cups that had rolled on the floor.

Was there a party when the outbreak happened? He moved his flashlight upward to check out the banner hanging from the ceiling.

There wasn’t a party, but there was going to be.

A bloody note laid on the desk in front of him. It was his “first assignment”: to remember the names of his colleagues.

And he will remember each and every name for a long, long time.

Neil. Elliot. David. Marvin. Rita. George.

He had to rest his head on the locked desk to ease the dull pain in his chest. For a brief moment, he had lost all fear— and just felt remarkably, overwhelmingly alone.

He wakes up slumped on the kitchen table.

His eyes feeling puffy, he turns his head to look behind him where the beds are. His bed is unmade, the sheets casted aside, one pillow on the bed, another on the floor.

A sharp movement from the bed next to his almost makes him jump from the chair he’s sitting on.

Claire just woke up.

“Leon? Is that you?”

She climbs out of the bed and walks to where he is before he can answer.

“You scared me,” she says, voice weak and raspy. “Everything alright? Why are you not in bed?”

“I don’t know,” he responds. “I don’t remember.”

She puts an arm on his back, kneeling beside him. “You were sleepwalking?”

He sighs loudly and buries his face in one hand. “...I guess. Sorry if I scared you,” he whispers. “I’ve been having a lot of vivid dreams lately.”

Claire starts rubbing her hand gently on his back. She never fails to sense if he was troubled.

It was a vivid dream alright. A dream based on a memory.

Everything happened the way it did. The jokes his friends made about his decision. Him traveling to the city itself and finding reassurance from his father.

Him meeting his fellow officers— in the most unimaginable way possible.

His mind had just replayed one of the most painful memories of his existence in the form of a dream.

“Do you wanna talk about it?” She whispers so softly. The same dull pain he felt in the dream starts creeping in, forming in his chest.

He takes his hand off his face. “Do you remember the West Office in the station?”

She nods.

“I don’t know if you saw it. But there was a banner hanging in there. A welcome sign for me.”

He pauses, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.

“They were going to have a party for my first day.”

His voice keeps cracking.

“I found a letter on my desk— i-it was from the lieutenant. They locked the desk and designed a puzzle. I had to know their first names to unlock it.” He had taken the letter with him, tucked it in one of his pockets, but somehow lost it.

“They did all of that for me. For my first day.”

He barely finished his sentence as he brings a hand up to cover his face again— it was embarrassing only because they’ve never really had the time to process or grieve anything yet— and he tried so hard to not be the first to break down.

In a sense, he feels relieved. With each sob, he exhales away the dull ache that had formed in his chest.

He just lets her comfort him as he wept bitterly in the dark.

Those heroes deserve a lot more than his grief and pity.

Chapter Text

You make me come
You make me complete
You make me completely miserable
- Miserable, Lit

The bright lights of the restroom hurt his eyes. He carefully slips his head into the hole of his T-shirt. His left arm smarted, but the pain feels duller and less severe than before. He missed being able to put on a shirt by himself, and today he’s finally able to do so.

Today he is finally getting discharged from the hospital.

He tried his best to not appear so impatient when the doctor told him yesterday. The staff and the care they have given were great. But anyone stuck in here for weeks ought to feel imprisoned.

Not to mention he knew he was— and is— being monitored.

He won’t need the annoying little tube dangling from the fold of his arm anymore. He pulls it out and briefly applied pressure on the site where the needle went in.

“Sir, we’re going to—“ the young, pretty nurse barely finished knocking on his door when she catches him discarding the little tube in the trash, “—never mind.”

She quickly checks his arm to make sure he’s not bleeding. “Do you need to be wheeled to the exit?”

“Won’t be necessary,” he responds with a smile. “Thank you for everything.”

He walks out of the room. Free at last. The smell of rubbing alcohol is prominent in the hallways, and it never fails to make him anxious. He briskly walks to the main lobby where two men in suits waited for him.

While he prefers not to be seen around them, it was a welcome necessity.

The US government has granted him witness protection as a survivor of Raccoon City. The same goes for Claire and Sherry, with the latter taken to a special lab in order to make sure that she is completely rid of the G-virus. Claire had been in the same hospital for a brief period, as she had suffered minor injuries. He wasn’t as lucky; he was in septic shock and was delirious for a while.

She had visited him before she was discharged and kept him in the loop about things. Apparently, Umbrella is now under a huge investigation, with at least half of their labs in the US in temporary shutdown. The government was able to get in contact with her brother in Europe, and she believes that they are working with him to finally bring Umbrella to justice.

She plans to stay near Sherry while she undergoes her tests, both of them under full protection.

Tomorrow he is flying to DC to give his account of the events.

Tonight, he will be staying in a hotel with his two well-dressed companions.

He gets in the back of the car that was waiting for him in the hospital entrance. Another man in a suit is seated in the back. He recognizes him as the same man who had briefed him inside his room in the hospital. He must be an agent, he thought. The car starts to move.

“There is an individual who arrived at your father’s house a few days after the incident and has been staying there since,” he said. “We believe they are aware of your circumstances. We need you to verify this person’s identity.”

He looks at him, confused. The only immediate family member he had put on the list is his father. “You got a name?”

“Lena Bartoszek.”

His mouth hangs open for a few seconds.

“Listed as your mother in your birth certificate. But you were not in contact for over a decade, save for a few letters.”

He tries to recollect himself. The man has accurate information. She left when he was seven, no reasons, no explanations; she sporadically sent him letters thereafter, the last one after he had graduated from the academy.

He remembered his father trying so hard to explain the unexplainable, to rationalize to seven-year-old him what had happened— that she’s mentally unwell and needs help and understanding. Because that’s the kind of man his father is.

None of them spoke of her ever again. They mourned her 'death'— and then she started sending him the letters. Presently, he is still unable to process what to feel.

But now she’s back to the same house, staying with him nonetheless. He shakes his head briskly a few times, as if to wake himself from a dream.

It might very well be.

“We will ask you questions later,” the man says, then turns his head the other way, indicating that the conversation is over.

He sits in silence and turns to face the window, placing an elbow against the door, and proceeds to bite on his thumb. So his father told her, just like he told her about his graduation. How did that reunion play out? How will their reunion play out? More importantly, is it really her?

Thankfully, they arrive in the hotel before he’s able to sever his thumb from the rest of his hand with his teeth. That would have earned him a trip back to the hospital.

They lead him to his room, where they leave him sitting by himself in a whirlwind of a thousand emotions.

Someone knocks on the door.

He waits quietly, knowing that if they could go so far as to knock, then they are allowed to enter.

“Leon, it’s me.”

That voice.

It’s FBI Agent Ada Wong.

She enters and closes the door behind her quietly. She brings a hand up to her face to remove her sunglasses.

“Ada...” he says softly, getting up from his seat, walking to her.

She steps forward, never taking her eyes off him.

They stand in front of each other, studying each other’s faces, her hazel eyes moving ever so slightly as she brings a gloved hand to caress the side of his face.

She pulls him in for a kiss.

He closes his eyes, cherishing the feel of her glossy lips on his; he draws in a deep breath, inhaling a hint of her floral perfume. All the anxiety he’s feeling starts to melt away. There’s a certain security that her presence offers, even back then in the doomed city.

He always wondered if she knew how protected he feels when she’s around.

“I told you that I want to see you again,” she whispers as their lips parted.

“You did,” he responds, smiling.

She came to see him, staying true to her word.

He’s on cloud nine.

It’s all too good to be true.

“We don’t have much time,” she says as he leads her to the couch. She refuses to sit down. She takes his hand in hers.

But she just got here, he thinks. And why does it seem like he heard that before—

“I can’t thank you enough for what you did,” she says in a hushed tone.

“It’s nothing,” he replies, trying to focus. “Whatever it takes to bring Umbrella to justice.”

“Rest assured that your efforts didn’t go unappreciated,” she says. “The FBI could use someone with your skills and character. I’m here to extend an offer.”

He keeps quiet, completely caught off-guard.

She continues, “You don’t have to give an answer right away. But consider it. We might even be able to work together.”

Joining the FBI is absolutely an achievement. Working with her—officially this time—is more than he could ever wish for.

But he feels like he’s missing an important detail.

Also, how does becoming part of the FBI work, if he’s in witness protection?

Why does it feel like an empty promise, and why does it feel like they’ve been here before?

Now she uses both her hands to hold his firmly. “Think about it, Leon. I’m counting on you.” She lets go of his hand and starts to turn towards the door, but he swiftly pulls her back.

He ignores the familiar feeling of dread and doubt slowly taking over his brain.

“Stay a little longer. Please.”

He cups the side of her face with a hand— his other hand wrapped on her delicate waist— his eyes staring into hers, pleading, please, please don’t go, stay, don’t leave again.

She looks at the door behind her. “It’s not worth it.”

He feels her resisting, trying to slip away from his grip, and so he holds her tighter. “Don’t do this,” he begs. “I gotta ask you something—“

She relaxes and rests her gloved fingers on his lips. She stares into his pleading eyes.

“Back there in the city,” she whispers, barely audible, “I’m glad that it was you I met.”

He closes his eyes and moves his face even closer to hers slowly, waiting for the touch of her lips on his—

—but she lets go and walks to the exit, leaving a trail of the scent of her floral perfume behind.

“Ada, wait!”

He chases after her by instinct, arms stretched to reach someone he keeps losing time and time again.

He wants to keep holding her— and to ask her something, something really important that he just couldn’t remember.

And then it came to him.

What story did she tell them about obtaining the sample?

He is going to give his official statement to the authorities tomorrow. He HAS to know.

The door opens again. The agent in the suit comes in.

“What do you know about her?” He asks.

He blinks, thinking hard. He tries to go back to the present. “N-nothing much,” he responds nervously. Not that it’s a lie— he really doesn’t know too much about Ada Wong. But he’s not prepared for an interrogation about their time together.

“Why did she leave so sudden?”

He stands frozen in place. His brain is racked by loneliness and anxiety greater than before.

Hell if he knows.

“...I don’t know.”

The agent’s face is expressionless. “Maybe you weren’t just good enough.”

A wrinkle formed in his forehead. “...What?” He responds after making sure that he heard him correctly.

The agent presses on. “Maybe she didn’t want you.”

His hand clenches into a fist. He’s ready to punch this bastard in the face. Anytime now. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“We’re talking about your mother.”

He takes out a picture and shows it to him.

His anger turning into confusion, he leans closer, examining the photograph, but couldn’t see a face.

He just doesn’t remember how she looked like anymore.

He opens his eyes to see a different one.

Brown hair, round blue eyes looking down at him, looking concerned.

Claire?

“Hey,” she whispers. “You awake?”

He looks around. Sherry is asleep. The lamp is turned on, casting a soft, yellow light on her features.

“I am now.”

“Sorry. You looked like you’re dreaming again, I got worried,” she says, shifting to a more comfortable sitting position on the floor.

So she was watching him from the side of the bed.

But was he dreaming? He doesn’t know. He vaguely remembers trying to make out a face— a woman’s face— someone he knows maybe.

There’s something else, too. His chest feels heavy, not from his injury, but from a feeling maybe, like longing, or sadness. He has no clue.

“I— I don’t remember if I was,” he tells her.

“Good,” she says, but the worried look on her face stayed.

They were quiet for a few minutes.

“... I don’t think I’d be able to fall back asleep now,” he says.

She scoffs. “You and me both.”

He turns his body completely sideways to face her. “I bet you have them too. The nightmares, I mean.”

She looks away, sort of embarrassed. “Yeah. But I wake easily from them, I guess.”

“And?” he asks, leaning closer. “What do you do when you wake?”

“Look for you. And Sherry. Then I start feeling safe.”

He gives her an imploring look. “Tell me what you dream about,” he scoots back to the other end, offering her to come to bed.

She climbs on it as she turns the night light off and lays flat on her back beside him. His left arm is tucked under the pillow.

“Let’s see...the fire in the streets. The undead. The big asshole in the trench coat.”

He laughs softly, and so does she.

“Sherry’s father... and how he’s constantly on our tails, wanting to take her from me... my brother... my parents.”

She turns to her side to face him. “What about you? You really don’t remember what your dream was just now?”

He closes his eyes and shakes his head softly.

He really doesn’t recall one exact thing— and something in him tells him that he should be glad about it.

He keeps his eyes shut.

“...This is looking like a good arrangement. You can wake me up faster if I’m having nightmares. And when you wake from yours, I’ll be the first thing you see.”

“Sounds like a good deal,” she whispers, and he pictures her smiling.

He puts his right hand on her waist and she shifts slightly closer.

He feels her warmth all over, her breath softly brushing against his face. And suddenly he feels protected. Safe.

He remembers feeling that way briefly before he woke up.

Only this time, it isn’t fleeting.

Chapter Text

In your house I long to be
Room by room, patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there
Alone
- Like A Stone, Audioslave

He looks at what’s supposed to be his reflection in the mirror.

If it wasn’t for his blue eyes, he would’ve been convinced that he’s living in someone else’s body. A thick beard of ash blonde covered his entire jaw, effectively hiding the prominent cleft on his chin. He never would’ve thought that he was capable of growing such facial hair as he’d always shaved at the first sign of a stubble.

He looks down at the sink that’s looking too cluttered for his tastes; there’s a toothpaste that’s been pressed right in the middle, which made him cringe a little, three toothbrushes in the holder, two for adults and one that’s glittery pink.

He peeks outside the door of the restroom.

There’s clutter everywhere, but what got his attention is the small study table in the middle of the living area.

It looks like someone’s being homeschooled.

He turns the light off and steps out.

“Hey.”

Sherry waves. Her hair looks darker than he remembers and she’s a little taller, a little more lady-like in her movements.

“You leaving now?” She asks.

“Yeah,” he answers.

“Don’t forget your food in the fridge,” a familiar voice—Claire’s— yells from upstairs. He looks up. She comes out of a room and carefully descends the stairs.

His eyes follow her as she reaches the foot of the stairs where he’s standing. Her hair is shorter, just stopping right above her shoulders, and she appears to have dyed it a fiery, reddish brown.

The sight of this new look of hers takes his breath away.

He continues to stare at her, mesmerized; she laughs him off but looks away bashfully.

“Don’t be late!” Sherry says, approaching with his packed lunch from the fridge.

He grabs the food from Sherry, breaking eye contact. “Thanks, kiddo,” he says.

He gives Claire a kiss on the lips that took longer than she expected. “I can’t wait to come home already,” he whispers, looking into her eyes.

“Eww,” Sherry sighs and rolls her eyes before turning around to leave.

Claire laughs and walks him to the door. He gives her one last look of admiration as she closes it, a teasing look on her face.

He gets in his Jeep and starts it.

It seems like his body is on autopilot but his mind is preoccupied, trying to make out the situation, accepting it and questioning it at the same time.

He realized, he doesn’t even know when they have purchased a house, or a vehicle, and how they came about to settling down in general— because he knows himself too well when it comes to such things.

Leon Scott Kennedy does not want to settle down or have children.

He’d wanted it. Sometimes he didn’t.

His experience in Raccoon City helped him make a final decision.

But he sees his reflection in the rear view mirror and reflects back on what he just experienced in that house. He’s living a new life; he looks outside as he drives, observing the neighborhood, the roads, and he sees only the peace and quiet of a rural place surrounded by forests.

Everything seems to be back to normal, safe and at peace.

Nothing in this world is ever set in stone. He realizes that there’s only two reasons that would ever make him take a different route— if the threat to humanity that is Umbrella has been eliminated, and if he’s finally found it in himself to get over his extreme fear of loss and rejection.

He thinks back on their time together after escaping the city but couldn’t remember his journey from there to here.

But he asks himself: does it really matter? The happy faces back home says it all. They were a family, living safe and sound.

Those brief exchanges before he left the house was nothing short of magical. Funny how the mere mention of marriage and children gave him symptomatic anxiety in the past.

Speaking of which, he looks down on his hands on the steering wheel and sees no ring on any of his fingers.

So he hasn’t married her yet. He better have a good reason for that.

She looked healthy and glowing. Motherhood suits her. He couldn’t get over the new look that she had. The way she looked more mature and wiser only amplified his desire and admiration. She’s always had that about her— she’s the type one would take home to meet their parents, the type that feels like home.

Indeed, he couldn’t wait to get home— because he’s ready to pound on her like a jackhammer.

That’s his plan for tonight. Make love to the mother of this family and thank her for bringing him happiness he believed he never deserved.

For now, he has to go to work.

He wonders if he’s still a policeman. He parks his Jeep in front of an auto shop.

Apparently not.

“What’s up, Roy!” A man greets him as he steps out of his vehicle.

“Who...?” He responds, confused.

The man lets out a chuckle. “You missed your morning coffee or something?”

The smile on the other man’s face gradually faded as they exchanged a baffled look for a good minute.

“Uhh...” the man awkwardly says, breaking the silence. “So uhh... David called in sick today.”

He shuts the door of his Jeep and walks inside the shop, pretending to know what’s going on. “That’s... too bad.”

“Yeah, but Jim agreed to take care of his clients,” the man replies, following him. “I already gave them a call and they’re all ok with it.”

He looks around. So he repairs cars and motorcycles for a living. He isn’t sure what got him here, but he briefly remembers that Claire was studying mechanical engineering in college, and she must’ve taught him a thing or two, although that wouldn’t exactly make him qualified enough—

“How’s Elza? Beth couldn’t wait for the sleepover with Carlie this weekend,” the man says, breaking his thoughts.

He turns around to face him. “Carlie? Elza...?”

The man laughs at him. “C’mon, man.”

“No. Seriously. Who are you talking about?”

A sincere, concerned expression starts to form on the man’s face. “Your partner who owns this business with you...? Your daughter Carlie is friends with my daughter Beth...?”

They exchange a baffled look for the second time.

“R-right. ‘Scuse me,” he says uncomfortably and walks back to the front door.

He steps outside and collects himself. The sky has turned a light grey. It’s going to rain anytime soon.

They’re still incognito— which isn’t comforting in the slightest.

It explains everything and nothing at the same time.

He feels his pockets for cigarettes and finds none. He goes in his Jeep and sees a pack of gum. He stuffs it in his pocket.

He turns around, about to close the door, when he sees something that makes him drop his keys to the ground.

A huge truck drives by, a familiar red and white symbol emblazoned on its body along with the words in bold black letters: Umbrella Corporation.

Its engine hissed as it slowed down at the intersection before taking a right turn.

The man from earlier comes out of the entrance.

“Did you... did you see that?” He asks him, his eyes still glued to where the truck had just been.

“The Umbrella truck? What about it?”

“Don’t you know? Does nobody know about Raccoon City?” He cries, pointing his hand to the truck’s direction.

“That town that had some rare disease spread through their water system?” The man scratches the back of his head, “What does Umbrella have to do with it?”

He shakes his head in disbelief. “The zombies and the monsters! The viruses they’ve created—”

“...What? Listen, Roy,” the man says, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but why don’t you take the day off? Just go home to your family. I’ll handle things around here for the day.”

He pauses, contemplating on pressing on, but it’s clear that he has no idea. He lets it go. He picks up his keys from the ground and gets in his car.

He drives off, berating himself for ever assuming that everything was right in the world just because he woke up one day settled down in a house.

So what have they been doing this whole time, and how in the world is Claire fine with it?

Forget the lovemaking plans for tonight.

He’s going to have a long talk with her. This is NOT who they are. Whatever happened to her plans to look for her brother? About taking down Umbrella?

Painful as it was, why, just why in the world did they choose to forget their past?

He pictures their faces in his head.

He never wished for a life of domesticity. He doesn’t think it’s fair for Sherry to grow up in these circumstances. He doesn’t think Claire deserves a naive mess like him for a partner.

But he loved them both from the moment they promised to stick together— and he owes it to them to make things right and keep them safe.

He’s going to drive them to his father’s home away from wherever this place is. And from there, he will figure out what to do.

They can be a family without forgetting who they are and what they have gone through.

The rain has started to pour. The day had suddenly turned into night. He stops at a Mizoil station to gas up for the trip that no one is talking him out of.

No one else is around.

He could see the inside of the store from where he’s standing. The lights are off and there’s no one in sight. He steps in and looks around.

The shelves are stacked with over-the-counter drugs from the same corporation that wiped out the entire city that they came from.

A loud crash from the other aisle distracts him. He fumbles for a gun on his side on instinct, but there’s nothing there. He steps back as the slow footsteps of whatever is behind the shelf becomes louder.

A bloodied person steps out of the aisle and slowly turns his head to his direction, exposing a mangled face, a guttural moan escaping its torn throat.

The nightmare begins yet again. Somehow, he saw it coming.

He runs to the exit and into his Jeep, stepping on the gas.

The road is long and dark. The rain is heavy and greatly reduced his vision. He takes a deep breath.

He’s been here before, and he can— and must live through this. Because he’s not in this nightmare alone.

He slams on the breaks as he makes a sharp turn to the right.

Their isolated house is surrounded by trees right ahead. He parks the car, but the sight of the missing front door makes him jump out of the vehicle and immediately run inside.

Stopping himself just in time from calling out their names and announcing his presence to the intruders, he takes light, quick steps to the living room which was in a state of disarray.

He spots the destroyed study table; there’s nothing but scattered school supplies everywhere.

He moves in the dark stealthily, trying hard to keep his breaths steady and quiet, looking for any other clues of struggle— and spots a few drops of blood leading to the staircase.

Following the trail quietly, he decides to go to the bedroom and prays that he owns a firearm.

He makes it inside the room. The TV lays shattered on the floor, the lamp strewn across the bed; he carefully looks under the pillows and in the shelves of the nightstand as swiftly and quietly as he could—

—until he hears the familiar sound of heavy footsteps coming from below, prompting him to freeze in place.

He knows exactly what it is that he’s trapped with in this home.

It’s walking around the living area. It pauses every few seconds then resumes.

It knows he’s here.

He quietly moves away from the nightstand to hug the wall adjacent to the door. Biting down on his lip, he holds his breath as he hears it ascend the staircase.

His eyes quickly scan for an escape route. There’s none.

He’s going to die.

He prepares for its inevitable entrance— but the footsteps have stopped before they even got closer.

He waits.

Inches away from his face, the wall crumbles in a loud crash, sending bits of wood flying everywhere.

It looks the same as it did in the city; long, trench coat visible amidst the clouds of dust, a hat sitting on its head. Knowing that he has a few seconds to spare before it makes its next move, he darts for the hole in the wall that it just created.

But it turns around just as quickly, its massive hand grabbing him by the throat.

He struggles fruitlessly as it lifts him up from the ground. Dead, empty eyes look directly at him as it tightens its grip. He feels his eyes pop out of their sockets. His head is about to explode.

There’s no one here to save him this time.

And just before he loses consciousness, it lets go of his throat and hurls him on its shoulder.

..

...

He stirs.

There’s a constant feeling of something crawling under his flesh. Here and there, he feels something bubble and burst, followed by a sharp pain that vanishes just as quickly as he feels it, only for it to happen all over. With each round, he feels stronger, sharper, heavier in mass.

He’s looking for something.

Or someone.

A girl.

He wants to see the girl.

Where is she?

He takes a step forward and almost fell, catching a glimpse of folded limbs attached to his chest with the focal point of his otherwise hazy vision.

They’re arms, useless and bent, but they’re not his.

There’s something else there too.

A head. But it’s not his either.

It’s Claire’s head.

They’re looking for her together.

He takes another heavy step forward and hears a whimper.

Someone just ran in front of him.

He can smell it. And it smells really familiar. He has to find it now.

He runs to where it went.

Finally.

There she is, trapped in the corner, trying to stifle her cries.

He sniffs the air.

It’s definitely her. She knows she’s trapped and has nowhere to go.

He reaches for her with his massive claws.

“sHe.... rRy.....”

His eyes open. Something’s draped across his chest.

He looks down and sees an arm.

Violently yanking it away, he almost jumps out of bed and hits the corner of the room. He hears the sound of sheets pulling as he shields his head with his arms, cowering.

“Leon?!”

The light turns on and he sees them— Claire and Sherry— approaching him.

“Don’t come any closer!”

Startled, Sherry stops on her tracks before retreating behind Claire. He sees a flash of hurt in Claire’s eyes as she rubs her left arm with her hand.

He studies her form. Her hair ran past her shoulders and isn’t fiery red; he looks exactly the same as the first time they met.

“It’s alright, Leon, it’s just us,” she implores.

He realizes that.

“Please. Stay away from me,” he says nonetheless, all of them none the wiser of what he meant to imply.

Chapter Text

A lone brother
A lone sister
A home cover
Alone
I awake
Dry the scream
- Charlie Big Potato, Skunk Anansie

The ticking of the clock on the wall used to drive him insane for being a constant reminder of the quietness and emptiness of his prison.

Now it drives him insane for being a constant reminder of it’s intended purpose: the passing of time.

He has fresh clothes, fresh bandages, fresh sheets, but he’s rotting away in this place as his mind is constantly plagued by a choice he has yet to make.

He couldn’t help but wonder if this is worse than being restrained in bed.

He had said his goodbyes to Sherry before they came. He’d hugged her tight and they’ve made a secret deal to never reveal that there ever was a Claire Redfield or an Ada Wong involved in their fight for survival in Raccoon. Once they arrived, she ran to him for a final hug, but with their strong limbs they pulled her back and held her in place.

She winced, obviously hurt. Her sobs set him off like a wild animal, swinging and cursing at the people around them, rightfully so.

He behaved as such for the weeks that followed.

When he overheard a certain person remind the staff that agitation is a valid symptom of sepsis, therefore allowing them to restrain him for his own good, he realized that he played right into their hands.

So he gradually behaved.

It eventually yielded him a meeting with a man who he assumed was overseeing his custody.

The man was soft-spoken and friendlier than he had expected that for a minute he was convinced that he truly was rendered confused by the infection breeding in his shoulder. He had realized soon after the rationale of this behavior.

When people want one’s full cooperation, it’s important to make it appear that they are on the same side.

On the first meeting, he asked him to talk about himself.

He had everything rehearsed in his head: what to tell them and what to keep quiet about. Somehow, he didn’t expect to be asked about his backstory.

There’s nothing to hide there.

And so he told them how he was just a simple kid raised by a single father with big dreams of being a cop, and how he moved out when he was 18 as soon as he was accepted into an academy in Chicago. He had graduated at the top of his class. Best in cardio, outstanding marksmanship. Inspired by the mysterious case in Arklay Mountains, he had chosen to be assigned to Raccoon City.

On the second meeting, he asked him to narrate what happened to that night in Raccoon. He’s prepared for that question more than any other question that could ever be thrown at him.

So he fed him Claire’s version of events, in which there was only him, the child, the mutated father and the repentant mother who had last minute saved her daughter from the virus. If he knew he was lying, he never showed it.

On the third meeting, the man did not ask a single question.

Instead, he had lauded him with praise for his survival and vowed to use the information he had given to take down the enemy that is Umbrella.

If he promised to aid them— of course. The man was imploring, reassuring. Work for us, and together we will bring them to justice.

Why of course. Didn’t he valiantly say, as the sun rose behind them after they have escaped the city intact, that he will stop Umbrella, whatever it takes?

“What do I have to do?” He asked. The answers were straight-forward: USSTRATCOM. Anti-Umbrella Pursuit and Investigation Team. He will receive proper training as a field operative. The man did not demand an answer at that moment, in fact he suggested that he ‘sleep on it’.

And that he did. He slept and dreamt of monsters and the dead people he had failed to help. So you want to fight Umbrella, his inner voice had spoken, are you ready to relive your worst nightmare again and again?

The next day, the man asked for his decision.

He never was any good at pretending. All it took was the perplexed, conflicted look on his face for the man to tell him that he’d ask him again tomorrow.

That night he dreamt of Raccoon again.

Nothing worked as good as one’s inner voice to remind one’s self that they are but human. The Rookie fresh from graduation would have jumped at the opportunity. The Rookie who survived Raccoon City was robbed of his innocence and had his eyes opened to the reality of death and decay.

He was afraid.

After the third time that he had failed to give an answer, he was moved to a room with no windows. And that’s when he noticed, when he’d idly look at the pole where his antibiotics had hung before, that there was only saline. His wound is free from infection. He’s done with treatment.

The only thing keeping him in this place is the response that he hasn’t given yet.

Isolation and imprisonment were his new punishment for the days that came.

He looks upward and around for any means of escape and for the nth time saw that there’s none. Everyday he prays to see something different, like a sudden hole in the wall, a sudden vent that wasn’t there, a sudden window that leads somewhere— but everyday there are only four perfectly smooth walls, his bed, the sheets, the pillow, the ticking clock, the pole.

He shifts his eyes to it and to the bottle carrying the infusion.

The saline drops in a perfect pattern into the chamber. One drop per two seconds— just like yesterday and the day before that.

Drip. Drip.

It’s just like counting sheep. Boring. Maddening. It does not help him get an ounce of sleep.

Until tonight.

He squints his eyes amidst the darkness and constant downpour. The sound of rain was oddly calming. To his left was a chopper that had crashed onto the wall; downstairs by the fenced gate stood Claire Redfield, waiting for him.

He descends the stairs as he tries to calm the storm of emotions in his heart.

He wanted to run to her and kiss her with the passion of a thousand burning suns. He also wanted to lash out at her for leaving him behind wounded with a helpless child.

He reaches the front of the gate, standing face to face with her.

Resentment won.

“We promised to stick together,” he spits out in a low voice.

Amidst the barrier, he could make out the shame and regret on her face, but her tone conveyed conviction. “I have my own path to take. So do you.”

Bullshit. What does she know, speaking poetically of his dire circumstance.

“They’ve taken her away from me. I’ve failed her. Is that what’s supposed to happen?” He places a hand against the gate a bit forcefully, fingers curling around the metal.

In response, she brings her own hand up softly to where his rests to lace her fingers around his.

“You haven’t failed her. Not yet.”

He shakes his head bitterly. The raindrops obscured his vision. The anger is real— but is it deserved? He had asked himself the question countless times. Under different circumstances, he would be all in to support her decision to find her brother. But she’d woken up in him the dreaded, familiar feelings of abandonment and betrayal— and now they are but a child traumatized further and a guardian losing all hope.

“How can you be so selfish...” He would never have told her face to face.

But this is a dream, and he knows it. He can say what he wants and do what he pleases without being judged by anyone except by his own mind.

“Could you ever forgive me,” she says softly. ‘I’m coming back’ is all he wanted to hear, but it’s too bad that he couldn’t make her say the things he wanted even in his own dream.

But was it really all her fault? All she ever wanted was to find her brother, the only person in the world she depended on. The guilt of feeling bitter towards her had cut him deep as he wallowed in his conflicted thoughts day in and day out after she had left them to their fate. In his heart of hearts, he knew that he couldn’t truly hate her, no matter how angry or desperate he is at the moment.

“I’d do anything to bring us back together,” he says in all sincerity, readjusting his fingers to tighten his grasp over hers.

“I never doubted that you would.”

“Claire,” he pleads, as if pleading hard enough will change anything, “She needs us.”

“She needs you.

We’ll always be a family.

No matter where we go.

No matter what comes between us.”

And just as she was done speaking, a loud blast assaulted his ears, making him jolt— he quickly looks behind, expecting to see the chopper in flames—

— but instead found a couple of guards standing right outside his room. The door had hit the wall adjacent to it, rousing him in his short slumber, ending his dream of Claire Redfield and the words she spoke in it, as she had done in real life, when she was in his arms in their little sanctuary that was a motel room.

With their tight grip on his arms they forced him to get out of the bed, and he starts treading along the corridors where they lead the way, his eyelids still heavy, one arm pushing along the pole that carried his useless infusion. The turns have started to feel familiar and the realization that they are making their way to the dreaded office hit him like a splash of ice water. They stop in front of the familiar door where he knows the man is waiting on the other side.

He glares at both guards and rips out the line from his arm.

He steps in, leaving the pole behind.

Arms resting on the table and hands folded as if in prayer, the man patiently waits for him to take his seat. His eyes shift slightly to the blood dripping out of his forearm where the line was inserted. He offers him a handkerchief that he took out of his breast pocket.

He ignores it and takes his seat.

“I suppose you know why you’re here,” the man says as he stuffs the handkerchief back, never breaking eye contact. “I’m sorry for having them drag you here too early but time is running out.”

He takes out a piece of paper and slides it in front of him. He looks at it intently.

Sample confirmed positive for DEVIL

“Sherry Birkin’s blood. She has been vaccinated and is free from the G virus, confirming your story,” the man continues.

“What are you doing with her,” he asks, anger present in his voice.

“We are taking good care of her,” he replies, “After all, her unique condition has piqued interest for continuous research.”

“You keep your fucking hands away from her!”

The man stares at him intently.

“I have been waiting for an answer, Leon. I have the power to keep her safe from prying hands. But I’m afraid it doesn’t come for free. I’ve given you ample time. The deal has to be made—

— or not.”

He pushes toward him a different document, a contract with a pen laying on top of it.

Days ago, the dreadful thought of accepting the offer at the cost of his own life had been a difficult one. He looks up at the man’s face and wanted to punch it with such fervor. Had he only mentioned that the safety of Sherry Birkin is involved, he would have gotten his sweet deal in a heartbeat, no hesitations, no time wasted.

The Rookie was afraid, and still is, but some decisions are easier than others, and those easier decisions always involve the fate of a life different than his own.

It’s a trait of his that’s a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Blue eyes scan each word, each line, making sure that the promised stipulations are in paper. When he had finished, his eyes move back to the start to read it all over again.

Now he’s ready to sign.

He grabs the pen and drags his right hand towards the line in the bottom but stops at the sight of near-dried blood smeared across the document. The blood leaking from the hole in his arm that he refused to wipe had traveled down to his hand apparently.

It couldn’t have been more fitting and symbolic.

He affixes his signature on the paper.

~

The sheets are fresh, the air is cool.

After spending a considerable amount of time imprisoned in a facility and in a room with no windows, he didn’t care that the sun is now toasting his skin, entering in slanted rays through the window of his room.

Everything is bright and full of life.

Everything looks normal.

He sits up in his own warm bed. With his mouth closed, he starts to sink his teeth down on his inner bottom lip, tears welling up in the corners of his eyes from the pain, hands gripping tightly on the sheets.

Claire had run off to somewhere only she knows. Sherry has been taken away from him, safe as promised, but somewhere unknown to him.

Their little family is gone.

He escaped Raccoon with his life that now doesn’t belong to him.

It feels like a nightmare.

And so he’s trying to wake himself.

He’s had one too many nightmares before. Sometimes, it’s vivid and haunting; other times, it’s fleeting and hard to recall.

But whoever was there, or wherever it was, there’s always a piece of Raccoon City in it.

The taste of metal fills his mouth. He gets up and walks to the sink to spit out bright red blood as he finally winces in pain.

It is a nightmare.

One that is happening while he is awake.