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The Facility Revisited

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Chapter One

“Of course you ended up forgetting something,” Jill said sardonically as she handed Chris his battered passport. Chris stuffed it into the back pocket of his jeans and offered her a goofy smile. He took another drag from his cigarette. Flying didn’t exactly make him nervous or anything but it always helped to have a quick smoke beforehand.

“Where would I be without you?” He replied, blowing out the perfect smoke ring. It was one of his many party tricks. Something that he’d perfected during his time in S.T.A.R.S. He’d lost count of the times he’d begged Jill to come outside with him on one of his regular smoke breaks so he could show it off. He’d been so desperate to impress her back then.

“What time’s your flight?” She asked, rolling her eyes and wafting the smoke away from her face. She nodded towards the terminal entrance which was a few meters away.

“I dunno. Soon I guess,” Chris shrugged. It wasn’t really of great importance. Being part of the BSAA meant that he got to skip the monotonous airport security and the usual lines. He could rock up at the gate whenever he felt like it. Barry Burton might have a thing or two to say about ‘delayed takeoffs’ and ‘missed meetings’ but Chris didn’t fuss himself with that kind of nonsense. He was the muscle, the guy who got things done. He wasn’t some stiff suit in an office pen pushing from nine to five.

“Well, good luck out there,” Jill said, her expression turning serious. It was something they always said to each other when they worked on separate missions. Chris dropped his cigarette and pulled her into a quick hug. He was grateful that, despite their failed attempt at a relationship, they could still be so close. They didn’t work as a couple but he had no idea what he’d do without her. Aside from being his best friend, she was a fellow survivor of the Mansion Incident and knew exactly what he’d been through to get to where he was now.

“I hope your new partner treats you well,” She added once they broke apart.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Chris replied casually. He picked up his backpack from the kerbside and slung it over one shoulder. “He’s a government guy so he’s probably stuck up but I bet he won’t be a total asshole,”

_*_

 

“This BSAA guy better be good. I don’t want to be stuck with some asshole who has more brawn than brains,”

“Relax Leon,” Dennis Leary looked up from his computer screen. A small smile played across his lips and, if Leon didn’t know any better, it looked like he was almost enjoying the situation. “Barry Burton is a friend of a friend and I have it on good authority that he knows good men.” He continued reassuringly in his clipped English accent.

Leon didn’t bother to reply. He helped himself to a drink from the water cooler in the corner of Dennis’ spacious office. He took a sip and regarded the older man for a moment. Dennis looked every inch the slick government professional. His suits were all bespoke, made by some nonegarian tailor downtown. His grey hair was always impeccably gelled back and his neat wire-framed glasses undoubtedly cost more than Leon’s last paycheck. Dennis had been the first person that Leon had met when he’d arrived at his new post in Spain. Dennis had been tasked with showing him around and getting him settled in and acclimated to living in Europe. That had been almost a year ago and Leon had never looked back. Dennis was the closest person he had to a friend since the terrible outbreak in Raccoon City years ago and Leon had adjusted to his new job well. That was why it had come as a nasty surprise when Dennis had informed him that he’d be gaining a new partner. Leon didn’t work with partners. He always had and always would be a lone wolf. If there was anything his past proved, it was that relying on other people got you nowhere.

“I’m waiting for you to tell me yet again that you don’t need a partner,” Dennis said, almost as if he’d read Leon’s mind. “I’m sitting here in anticipation as to your next reason why,” He was openly smiling now as Leon rolled his eyes. “I’m almost certain that you’re sick of hearing about the Government’s willingness to fund the BSAA if they provide us with a little help?”

“You bet,” Leon replied dryly. He still didn’t really understand why the BSAA were now choosing to accept help from the US Government. Leon had read about their successes in keeping Umbrella at bay so it seemed a pointless union. Still even he, in all his stubbornness, could see that it would be churlish to continue arguing his point.

As it happened, his protest wouldn’t have been heard anyway. Dennis’ office door suddenly burst open and somebody with the loudest footsteps Leon had ever heard clomped through it.

It was an extraordinarily large somebody at that. The man had the biggest muscles that Leon had ever seen outside of a bodybuilding competition. He was as tall as he was broad, with dark hair arranged into floppy, messy spikes. He was dressed casually in torn jeans and a dark grey t-shirt that strained across his chest and back. He had a silly lopsided grin that Leon imagined most women would go crazy for. Well, the vacuous ones anyway. Leon sighed heavily, severely unimpressed with this interloper and his apparent inability to knock on doors. He had an oafish quality about him and, should he be forced to actually spend time with this brute, Leon knew he would find him immensely irritating.

“The polite thing to do in these situations would be to knock on the door,” He spat acidly. “Whatever room it is that you’re blundering about looking for, I can assure you that this one isn’t it.”

This kind of tone usually did the trick with idiots he didn’t want to talk to but, unfortunately, it didn’t appear to work on this one. The oaf wiped a sweaty palm down the side of his thigh and offered his hand.
“Chris Redfield,” He said, obviously totally unfazed by his less than warm welcome.

“Ah, Mr Redfield!” To Leon’s horror, Dennis stood up and shook his hand warmly. “A pleasure to meet you at last. Barry Burton has told me a lot about you. My name is Dennis Leary and I’ll be your mission co-ordinator during your time with us,”

“Sweet!” Chris replied, pumping Dennis’ arm up and down heartily. Of course he talked like a teenager! Obviously he wasn’t irritating enough so the universe just had to throw in some moronic speech too.

“He’s a good guy Leon,” Dennis said, clearly sensing Leon’s disgust at his new partner’s arrival. “I’m sure you’ll get along,” He added with a tiny smirk. Sometimes, just sometimes, Leon wondered if Dennis did this kind of thing on purpose.

_*_

 

Chris quickly noticed that this Leon guy was pretty intent on staring daggers at Dennis. He took this opportunity to size his new partner up. The guy was fairly short and had nowhere near his impressive muscle mass. Leon had what Jill would refer to as a ‘swimmer’s build’. He had blonde floppy hair in a side parting that looked sleek and glossy. He seemed the type to faff around with his hair. Chris snorted. It was the sort of hair that women went nuts for. Leon seemed to carry himself with a quiet confidence as well as icy disdain. He probably imagined himself as some kind of James-Bond-Super-Spy-Lady-Killer. To Chris, the guy seemed a little too perfect for his liking. But, he figured, it could be a lot worse. At least Leon wasn’t dressed in a suit. Chris figured that all Government agents were kind of stuffy and wore suits 24/7. Leon was dressed more like a BSAA field agent in a tight fitted tactical shirt and black combats. He was also wearing a really expensive looking leather jacket which Chris thought, but would never admit to thinking, was pretty cool. Wearing it in a hot office was obvious a dumb move though. Chris snorted again. The posing bastard.

“Are we actually going to get out of here or are you just going to stand around mouth-breathing and looking completely moronic?” Leon’s harsh tone jolted him out of his examination. He was standing by the office door looking expectant. Chris raised an eyebrow. Leon sighed heavily, nodded to Dennis and stalked off leaving him with no option but to follow. Chris noticed that before he left the office, Dennis gave him a little apologetic smile.

So he had been landed with an asshole. Great.

_*_

 

Leon didn’t speak again until they reached the parking lot and his black Jeep. Once he and Chris were settled in the car and Leon was reversing out of his spot, Chris reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out his cigarettes.

“You’re not smoking in my car.” Leon said bluntly, giving him the side-eye to end all side eyes. “Unlike you I don’t want lung cancer. It’s pretty moronic that you work so hard to get a body like that only to pump it full of carcinogens,” He snorted. “Unless it’s all steroids of course.”

Chris was wrong-footed by Leon’s sudden attack. So what if he smoked? He wasn’t totally sure what a carcinogen was but he supposed it summed up a cigarette pretty well. He was used to anti-smoking sentiments. Jill had been all over him to quit for the brief period that they dated. He’d been smoking ever since he was a teenager and he was more than aware of the risks.
“What’s with all this high and mighty shit?” He demanded. “You’re not any better than me so quit thinking that you are,”

“I don’t think that I’m better,” Leon replied, keeping his eyes on the road and grinding the gears. “I know I am,” He said adamantly as though that was the end of the matter. “I’ll tell you this right now Mr Redfield. I don’t need a partner and I need a friend even less. As far as I’m concerned, you’re just a part of my job that I have to tolerate until you can be shipped back to the US where you clearly belong.”

Chris rolled his eyes and made a big show of putting his cigarettes back in his pocket. Oh well. At least he had his hotel room to look forward to. Wherever it was. He hadn’t exactly been told about that part but he figured Leon would know and would be able to drop him off. It would be pretty awesome to kick back on a king-size bed with some decent room service and a few TV channels. Barry was good at finding decent places for the BSAA agents to stay during missions.

“By the way,” Leon broke the silence. “I trust that you’ve been told you’re staying at my house for the duration of the mission?”

Chris was going to have more than a few choice words for Barry Burton.

_”_

There was one saving grace to Chris’ new living arrangements. Leon actually lived in a pretty big house that was way nicer than any hotel room he’d ever stayed in. It was a few miles out of the local town, situated on a hill that promised great views. If you liked that sort of thing. It was spacious and modern and smelt like pine cleaner. It was kind of weird that there seemed to be very few personal possessions about and it was crazily tidy. Chris thought with longing back to his own apartment with its array of beer cans and pizza boxes and his video game collection and 4K TV.

“Fucking sweet!” He said to himself as he looked beyond the lounge and kitchen area to the patio doors where he could clearly see a hot tub outside. He’d always wanted to try a hot tub.

Leon didn’t seem to be playing the role of host very well. In fact, after hanging up his leather jacket in a small closet by the door, he sat himself down on one of the leather armchairs and picked up a file folder that was lying on top of the pine coffee table. He started to flick through it while Chris stood there.
“So, nice place you got here,” Chris prompted.

“The Government own it.” Leon replied, not looking up from his work. Chris briefly wondered if it was the mission details. Leon didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry to share information about that or where Chris’ temporary bedroom was located. He was beginning to feel kind of awkward.

“That the, uh, mission brief?” Chris went for a second attempt at conversation.

“Yep.” Leon finally looked at him, raising one perfectly groomed eyebrow. “From my estimation, it should be done within a day or two. At least if you’re as good as Barry Burton says you are.”

“Of course I am!” Chris scoffed. Leon rolled his eyes again.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” He said snottily. “By the way. Your room is down that corridor. The second door on the left. I noticed you didn’t arrive with any luggage.”

“Shit!” Chris exclaimed. He’d left his stupid backpack at the stupid airport! He’d been distracted by one of the air hostesses that he’d bumped into when he’d arrived at the airport. He distinctly remembered dumping his bag on the floor to show off his muscles. He sighed deeply. This trip was beginning to be the stuff of nightmares.

“Well that was an idiotic move,” Leon said unnecessarily, as though Chris had left his belongings behind by choice. “You can borrow the Jeep and drive into the nearby town to get whatever you need,”

“About that…” Chris scratched the back of his head awkwardly, feeling foolish. “I don’t actually speak Spanish all that well. Like, at all really.”

“Of course you don’t” Leon replied wearily. “Write me a list of what you need and I’ll get it. I need to go shopping tomorrow morning anyway. Once you’ve done that you can do me a favour and read the mission brief. I really don’t want to have to deal with an incompetent buffoon who’s woefully unprepared for our mission,”

Before Chris could defend himself, Leon slapped the file folder back on the coffee table and left the lounge area. He came back a few moments later with a pen and notepad. Wordlessly, he dumped them on the table and headed upstairs. Chris sighed again, flopped down in the recently vacated armchair, and started his list.

_*_

 

Leon muttered curses to himself as he tried his best to decipher Chris’ list. He wasn’t really expecting very much now he’d met the oaf but some legible handwriting would’ve been helpful. He was beginning to think that he should’ve asked him to draw what he wanted rather than rely on his writing.

Leon had spent the evening doing as much research on Chris Redfield as he could. It had meant relying on Hunnigan from some background information but she seemed more than willing to help. When she’d gotten back to his email, he’d been taken aback about what she’d found. It appeared that Chris was another survivor of the Raccoon City incident, specifically somewhere called the Spencer Mansion. On record, Chris was a highly trained individual with both military and police experience. He’d been a part of the legendary S.T.A.R.S team. The very team Leon had been hired by the RPD to replace. Chris was regarded as a skilled marksman and leader and was one of the founding members of the BSAA alongside somebody called Jill Valentine and, of course, Barry Burton. Leon couldn’t believe the oaf that seemed barely capable of writing a shopping list was capable of such achievements.

Leon had switched off his laptop in disgust and decided there and then that he’d keep conversation with him to a minimum. The last thing he needed was Chris finding out about his own experience with Raccoon City and deciding it was something that they could bond over. He didn’t like to be reminded of his past at the best of times. He’d briefly considered complaining to Dennis but he knew it would be to no avail. On paper, Chris was the perfect partner to assist him.

He just didn’t have to like the damn oaf.

_*_

 

Chris leant back in the hot tub until he felt his head come into contact with the cushioned corner. It was everything he’d expected and more. It hadn’t taken him very long to figure out how the thing worked and it had taken even less time for him to shed all of his clothes and climb in. The heat from the water was relaxing as all hell. Every single scrap of tension melted away from his muscles. He wondered why, when Leon owned a hot tub, the guy was so damn uptight all the time. If he, Chris, had one of these babies he’d never leave it.

The bed in his room was another pretty great perk to his new digs. It was king-size and comfortable with fresh clean sheets. He’d had a great night’s sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. There’d been no sign of Leon around the place so he’d made a beeline straight for the hot tub.

It had, for a moment, crossed his mind that Leon might actually mind him helping himself to a soothing soak. He’d quickly dispatched of that idea. It seemed what he did or said annoyed Leon anyway so he might as well get something out of the deal. He stretched and scratched his stomach lazily. He supposed it was about time to start considering some food. He had no idea what passed for breakfast food in Spain but he hoped there’d be some bacon on offer.

With great reluctance, he hauled himself from the tub just in time to see Leon appear at the open patio doors. He was looking shocked and almost dropped the plastic bags he was carrying. Chris didn’t make any moves to cover his nudity. There had been no privacy in the Air Force base and anyway, he didn’t have anything Leon hadn’t seen before.
“I had no idea you were a peeping tom!” He teased Leon with a wink. Leon’s mouth turned into a grim slit as he looked away quickly.

“At what point did I say you were welcome to use my hot tub?” He demanded coldly. “Naked.” He added.

“Well I was all sweaty and shit from yesterday,” Chris shrugged. He stood there with droplets of water running down his naked body. Leon was still looking away.

“Will you get a towel please? I really don’t need to see your genitals.” Leon continued snippily. Chris shrugged again and grabbed a nearby towel that he’d dumped on one of the patio loungers.

“I don’t see the big deal,” He said as he wrapped it around his waist. “I don’t have anything you haven’t seen before. We’re both dudes.” He nodded at the plastic bags in Leon’s hands. “Is that my stuff?”

Leon nodded wordlessly and Chris grabbed them before leaving him standing there as if he were rooted to the spot.

_*_

 

Chris realised very quickly that there was absolutely nothing to do in Leon’s fancy Government house. There appeared to be no TV anywhere, not even a fancy sleek one that rose up from the floor or anything. There were no games consoles or comic books either. Leon did have a bookshelf but the books were mostly about history and politics. The hot tub was only going to keep him entertained for so long. Once the excitement of there being an actual hot tub had worn off, it was pretty boring.

Leon seemed content to type away on his laptop or scribble things down in a notepad. He’d barely offered anything in the way of conversation since the hot tub incident. After a couple of hours of drifting around trying to find something to occupy himself with, Chris had finally turned to the mission brief folder. He’d read it from cover to cover and as Leon had said, it seemed like a pretty straight-forward job.

According to joint Government and BSAA intelligence, there was an abandoned scrubland a few miles out of the nearest city that had raised some suspicion. There were countless pages of boring surveillance reports and some sciencey nonsense about soil PHs indicating that something was happening below ground. The surveillance team had discovered a possible entrance to the underground facility and it would be his and Leon’s job to explore and report back. Chris sighed as he stared at the included map for what felt like the hundredth time. Leon didn’t even look up from his place at the dining table.

“Hey, you’re still not bugged about the hot tub thing are you?” Chris asked. The silence between them was beginning to get to him. It reminded him of the long, boring silences in the S.T.A.R.S office when everyone would be filling in their paperwork and nobody wanted to just shoot the shit or mess around playing pranks with him. He hated silence.

“Why would I be bothered?” Leon asked after a few moments. He still didn’t look up from his laptop.

“I dunno,” Chris shrugged. He was kind of wishing he hadn’t bothered speaking. He wasn’t sure which was worse, the silences or Leon’s icy disdain. “You just looked it I guess,” He played with the paperclip on the corner of the map page. “I’m sorry I didn’t ask permission or anything. I figured you wouldn’t really care. As for the whole being naked thing, I didn’t really wanna just take something of yours. I dunno about you but I don’t feel right going commando in another dude’s fatigues. Unless that’s your thing of course,” He added with a smirk.

Leon rolled his eyes expressively and continued to type. Chris sensed that the conversation was over but found himself continuing to talk anyway. Jill had always said it was his nerves. Either that, or he liked the sound of his own voice.
“Don’t get me wrong though,” He continued. “I ain’t got nothing against gay guys. Everyone’s entitled to get theirs and it doesn’t matter who with. Personally, I prefer women.”

“Of course you do,” Leon replied silkily.

“I don’t think guys would want me anyway even if I did swing that way,” Chris carried on. “I smoke, I can never turn down a good beer and I don’t go in for all that metrosexual skincare and haircare shit,”

“Some men wouldn’t mind that,” Leon said quietly. “You shouldn’t listen to stereotypes,”

“Jill totally hated living with me,” Chris chuckled at the memory. At the time his breakup with Jill had been pretty grim but he could laugh about it now. “I drove her crazy. I’d known her and had a crush on her for years but it didn’t work out in the end. She said I was way too much of an oaf,”

“I wonder why,” Leon muttered sarcastically.

“Anyway,” Chris slapped the arm of the chair. “That’s enough about me. Why don’t you tell me some stuff about you? How come you ended up in Spain? This is a fancy house and all and that Dennis dude seems pretty chill for a suit but it’s not exactly the US is it?”

“You’re insinuating that I’m not here by choice,” Leon said bluntly. He continued to stare at his screen and offered no further comment. Chris let out another heavy sigh.

“Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall, you know that? We should at least try to be friendly with each other,”

“Why?” Leon demanded. He finally looked away from his laptop, giving Chris a level, icy glare. “How many times do I have to explain before your moronic brain can process it? This is a job. We are work colleagues. This is money for me. I don’t need a partner, I don’t need a friend.” He stood up, closed his laptop and tucked it under one arm. “We’re leaving for the facility at six am sharp. If you aren’t ready and waiting for me by that time, I’ll go alone,”

Without another word Leon stalked away, once again leaving Chris alone.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

“Well, I wouldn’t say this cave looks strange,”

Leon rolled his eyes as his partner swung his torch beam wildly around the damp walls of the cave. Leon himself was taking a much more measured approach, moving slowly and cautiously using his hip light to guide him as he examined every inch of the stone.
“Do you ever stop talking?” He asked. It was definitely something he was beginning to wonder. Despite making absolutely zero friendly advances towards Chris, the older man continued to prattle on whenever there was a silence between them. Leon would’ve much preferred to spend the Jeep ride carefully considering the finer points of the mission yet instead he’d ended up being forced to listen to some stupid story about a blender.

“I hate silence is all,” Chris replied. Well, Leon thought to himself, he supposed he couldn’t fault the man for being honest. He decided not to justify it with a response. At least he’d have a few precious seconds of quiet before the next inane comment or question.

He ran his gloved hand against another patch of the stone wall. He was looking for some kind of switch or lever that would reveal the hidden entrance to the facility. The cave itself was the only structure for miles which would give it a high likelihood of it containing a concealed entrance. The reports in the intelligence file stated that nobody had ever been caught leaving or entering the cave so it was possible that it could be a red herring.

“Jesus fuck!” Chris suddenly exclaimed. Leon turned around to catch sight of him tumbling to the floor.

“What did you do now?” Leon asked with a heavy sigh. Chris hauled himself up from the ground and started hopping around, trying to clutch his left foot.

“That’s really nice that is,” He spat. “I just nearly broke my fucking foot tripping over some shitty piece of metal and all-”

“Metal?” Leon said, ignoring the rest of Chris’ expletive-laden tirade. He hurried over to where Chris was still hopping around and shone the beam of his hip light onto the ground. Sure enough, there was a metal handle attached to what looked like a very old and very heavy manhole cover.
“I’m fine by the way,” Chris said sarcastically. He’d stopped his hopping and was standing there with his hands on his hips as Leon examined the manhole cover.

“Are you going to help me with this or not?” Leon demanded. The handle was wide enough for two people to grab it at the same time. It looked as though it had been designed with that in mind. After a moan and a wounded look in his direction, Chris took hold of the rusted handle and the two of them heaved.

The cover opened with a rusty creak and a beam of light flooded the cave. Leon looked over the edge to see a deep looking hole with a metal ladder attached, almost like it lead to a sewer. The hole was far too deep to be able to see what was at the bottom. It appeared that this facility was very deep underground.
“Ready?” Leon asked, nodding at the ladder. “I’ll go first.” He added when Chris nodded. They’d finally found what they’d been tasked with looking for but Leon knew that it wasn’t a good sign.

 

_*_

 

Leon lost all concept of time during the long journey down the ladder. The rungs seemed endless, stretching further and further down. The further down the ladder they went, the colder the atmosphere got. Chris seemed to have finally decided to shut his mouth and Leon certainly wasn’t going to offer any overtures that would encourage the oaf to start talking again. He wondered if Chris was as nervous as he was. Leon had been fighting bioterrorism for years and he still wasn’t used to the idea that they could come across any number of horrors. Dennis had always told him that it was good that he hadn’t become desensitised but now Leon wasn’t so sure.

When the hold finally widened and the ladder ended, they found themselves standing in a pretty normal looking corridor. The walls and ceiling were constructed of dull grey sheets of metal and floor was a network of tarnished looking metal grills underneath which were numerous pipes leading to god knows where.

With no map to guide them, they were going to have to work from instinct alone. Leon glanced left and right and, seeing no difference, decided to head left first.
“This way,” He ordered and started to march away. Surprisingly Chris didn’t argue with him. Leon wasn’t exactly missing his endless chatter but this new silent Chris was strange. Maybe the big oaf could be a professional after all.

He strode down the corridor, gun at his hip, all senses on alert. He turned around to give Chris some further instruction but he found that his partner wasn’t there. Since Chris obviously hadn’t walked past him at any point, the only logical conclusion was that, rather than arguing with his decision, Chris had obviously decided to head to the right anyway. Leon rolled his eyes. Of course, Chris’ new professional seeming persona was too good to be true!

He backtracked quickly to the ladder and then this time headed to the right. It wasn’t long before he found his wayward partner. Chris was standing in front of a large metal door seemingly studying a keypad. Leon glared daggers at the older man’s wide back as he marched over to him.
“This is a pretty big door,” Chris said needlessly when Leon approached. “I’m willing to bet there’s something important on the other side,”

“I said we were going left first,” Leon answered through gritted teeth. He resisted the huge urge to yell at his partner but, not wanting to alert anyone or anything to their presence, he settled with his usual acidic tone. “Why don’t you ever listen?” Chris started tapping at the keys on the keypad in no particular order, muttering under his breath. “What the hell are you doing?” Leon demanded.

“There,” Chris said with a self-satisfied tone. He pointed to the keypad. “These babies lock you out if you enter the wrong password too many times,”

“So what?” Leon snapped. It was typical of Chris. He’d probably triggered some silent alarm and now the staff would be aware of them.

“When the system locks you out you need an engineer to come and enter their own special code to reset it,” Chris explained. “I just so happen to know what that code is for this particular model,” He shrugged. “It’s not the first time I’ve come across one,” He added in a dark tone.

Leon didn’t have a response to that. It was actually pretty intelligent. Not that he was going to admit that to his partner. Instead, he focused on a smell that suddenly seemed to be leaking out from behind the door. It was a horrible mixture of rotten flesh and old damp carpet. He hadn’t smelt anything so hideous since the streets of Raccoon City.
“Don’t touch that keypad!” He exclaimed, just as Chris finished typing in the code.

“Oops!” Chris said sheepishly as the keypad beeped and the door started to slide open. It was doing so at an alarming rate, like a garage door that had been sped up. Leon readied his gun wondering if they had enough time to make a run for it. Chances were, whatever it was, would be able to catch up with them before they reached the ladder.

“Let’s get the hell out of here while we have a head start,” He ordered. The smell was starting to be overwhelming now and was accompanied by a low, guttural moan. So much for the simple in-and-out reconnaissance mission.

Suddenly, with a sound similar to a whip cracking, a large thick grey tentacle shot out from behind the widening gap. Leon managed to dodge as Chris cursed and opened fire. The tentacle started to flail around widely as Chris fired. It was thick and pulsating and covered with vicious looking spines. Its oily flesh appeared to repel each one of Chris’ shots.
“I said let’s run!” Leon shouted as Chris stared at the tentacle in disbelief.

“Bullets just bounce off this thing!” He called back, sounding slightly panicked. “I’m going for the override switch,” He nodded at the keypad and dived for it.

“No!” Leon argued and, despite the futility, opened fire as the tentacle tried to beat Chris back.

Now that the door was becoming wider, more tentacles joined the fray. One after another squeezed through the gap and filled the corridor. Leon watched in horror as Chris, deciding to ignore the override switch, shot at the keypad instead. The bullet found its mark and the keypad exploded in a mass of sparks. The door made an ear-splitting screech noise which seemed to pause the tentacles for a moment. The door stopped moving and, once the screech ended the tentacles resumed in a frenzy. Chris backed off and grabbed Leon to made their escape but the older man wasn’t quick enough. There was another horrible whip-crack noise and Leon felt pain blossom in his right side. He reeled backwards as the tentacle went in for a second attack. He managed to dodge it, albeit clumsily as he clutched his side. He swayed a little as he tried to right himself and, before he knew it, Chris had hold of his shoulder and was practically pulling him along.

Whatever was the behind the door certainly wasn’t impressed with itself potential prey no longer being within its reach. With each tentacle still flailing wildly, it started to throw itself bodily into the partially opened door. The first impact made a considerable dent as it let out a high-pitched enraged cry.

Leon was overwhelmed with the pain. As they ran full tilt down the corridor he moved his gloved hand away from his side and saw that it was covered in blood. He felt Chris try to wrap an arm around him to help him along.
“I don’t need you!” He spat, although he was starting to feel a little woozy.

“Bullshit!” Chris replied, flinging his arm around him anyway. It felt like the whole corridor was shaking with the might of the monster which was still trying desperately to reach them. The door was almost completely buckled now. They needed to get to the ladder and soon.

Much to Leon’s utter horror, Chris suddenly hauled him off his feet and lifted him bodily into his arms.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” He demanded as Chris raced them down the corridor. “Put me the fuck down you big fucking oaf!” He tried to struggle free from Chris’ grip but it was making the pain worse. He really was beginning to feel faint.

“My my Mr Kennedy!” Chris replied breathlessly. “That’s quite the F bomb!” They reached the ladder and Leon saw Chris look up at it for a moment, obviously considering. “Looks like you’re gonna have to climb on my back,” He said. “Think you can hold on? I don’t want you fainting and falling off halfway up”

Chris released him and Leon made for the first rung of the ladder. He raised his arms to pull himself up and white-hot pain blinded him. He wanted to protest but he could see that he was going to need help if they were going to get out alive.
“Fine,” he muttered. Chris nodded and squatted down allowing Leon to climb on his back. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, Leon wrapped his arms around Chris’ neck as the older man started to climb the ladder.

 

_*_

 

“Almost there Leon,” Chris said as he kept climbing. It was certainly a lot harder with the added weight but at least they appeared to be out of the creature’s way. Its cries were a lot quieter now and there was no sign of it following them up to the ladder. Leon was doing well at keeping his grip despite how much Chris could feel the younger man shaking. Judging by the amount of blood streaked across Leon’s right arm, the wounded was pretty serious.

Luckily, the hole at the top was wide enough for them both to get through without Chris needing to let Leon off his back. Leon hadn’t spoken since they’d started climbing and his breathing sounded very shallow and pained. As soon as they were back in the cave, the younger man started to squirm in an effort to get down.
“I think...I can walk now” He muttered as he released his grip around Chris’ neck and slid down.

Chris turned around to regard his partner. Leon looked terrible. His skin was a greasy white and it looked as though he was trying hard not to puke. It was the first time that Chris had seen him looking anything but composed and it was worrying. His mouth was set in a grim line of determination but his grey eyes looked dull.
“Get out of the way,” Chris ordered as he pulled one of the incendiary grenades off his tactical belt.

“No…” Leon said shakily. “You don’t want to destroy the whole place,” He sucked in air heavily. “We...need to get out...of here,”

“Right, right,” Chris muttered. He replaced the grenade and, with great difficulty, managed to pull the manhole cover closed. He supposed Leon was right. There was no way the creature would be able to climb the ladder and fit through the hole.

“Get me...back to the...Jeep,”

“I need to check you out first,” Chris said firmly. First Aid wasn’t exactly his forte but he knew that he needed to stem the blood flow from Leon’s wound before he lost any more of his volume. He remembered Rebecca Chamber’s lectures on basic first aid when she’d first joined S.T.A.R.S. She’d taught them some important field dressings that would make do in an emergency until the wounded was able to get to a hospital.

“No…just-”

“Will you shut the fuck up and sit down or lean against something? I need to check out that wound,” Chris replied in a commanding tone. It was even more concerning that Leon didn’t continue to argue. Instead he leant his uninjured side against the cave wall and allowed Chris to lift up his tactical shirt which was now saturated with blood along his right side. “Shit,” Chris muttered to himself. He reached into one of the pockets of his belt and pulled out some gauze and a couple of bandages. “Right, this is gonna hurt like fuck,” He warned as he ripped open the gauze packaging and pressed it as tightly as he dared against a nasty looking gash that was still pumping blood. Leon let out a pained moan but Chris continued, packing the wound area with gauze and quickly winding the bandages around Leon’s body to keep it all in place. By the time he was done Leon was leaning even heavier against the wall and was sweating profusely.

“The...Jeep..” He muttered. He tried to push himself off the wall and went headlong. Chris managed to catch him.

“Looks like I gotta carry you,” He said, not waiting for Leon to object. He placed his arms beneath Leon’s knees and lifted him bodily. Leon’s face screwed up in pain but he didn’t protest. Chris moved as quickly as he could towards the Jeep, all the while thanking his lucky stars that nobody from the facility appeared to be around demanding to know why one of their creatures had been released.

When they made it back to the Jeep, Chris deposited Leon as gently as he could into the passenger seat. He ran around the vehicle and hopped into the driver’s seat as Leon shakily handed him the keys. He gunned the engine and couldn’t help but burst out laughing as the radio came to life with a perfectly timed blast of Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit ‘I Will Survive!”. He wasn’t sure if it was really that funny or he was just relieved they’d managed to get out of the facility alive but it seemed to him like it was the funniest damn thing in the world. He turned to look at his partner who was glaring at him, albeit very weakly.

“Oh come on! It’s funny!” Chris said, gesturing towards the radio as Miss Gaynor continued to sing. Leon narrowed his eyes and shook his head, slumping slightly in his seat. “You gotta stay with me,” he added, giving Leon a gentle shake. “I need you to direct me to the hospital.”

“We’re...not going,” Leon replied. “Take me back to...the house,”

“What the fuck?” Chris demanded. “You need medical attention! I saw that wound, it’s fucking gnarly.”

“That’s...my problem. Not...yours. The house. Now.”

“Fine. Whatever you say.” Chris replied shortly. It was clear there was no point continuing to argue with the guy if he didn’t want to be taken to hospital. He hit the main road and headed in the direction of the house.

_*_

 

As soon as they arrived back at the house, Leon had resisted any attempts for Chris to help him. Instead Chris had had to watch helplessly as Leon hauled himself out of the car and into the house. He’d rummaged around in a kitchen cupboard for a few moments before exiting with a first aid kit and, with great difficulty, climbing the stairs. Chris heard footsteps on the landing before the sound of the bathroom door closing and the soft click of the lock.

Chris grumbled to himself as he flopped down in the armchair. He’d never known anyone as stubborn as Leon before. The younger man clearly needed stitches and a professional dressing. He stared at the vintage style phone on the little wooden table in the hallway. He had that Dennis guy’s phone number. He could always call him and tell him what had happened. Chris considered it for a few seconds and sighed at the impossibility. Not only was he not a snitch, he figured it would definitely not help his relationship with Leon in any way and it was already pretty damn bad.

Chris wished that he could escape the whole situation. He’d give anything to be back at home in his own well-worn Lazy Boy chair with a cold beer and a decent pizza. But, now they’d confirmed that there was some kind of life in the facility, he wasn’t able to turn his back on Leon or the mission. It was times like this that he resented his crusade against bioterrorism.

The phone started to ring, making him jump and shocking him out of his gloomy reverie. There were no stirrings from upstairs. Chris debated whether or not to answer it before making an executive decision to just go for it. Leon would be pissed but so what? Leon was always pissed.
“Hey,”

“Good afternoon,” A heavily accented woman replied. “May I speak to a Mr Chris Redfield?”

“That’s me,” Chris replied, thoroughly confused.

“Excellent. I’m calling in regards to a piece of baggage that was reported missing. Unfortunately, none of our staff was able to locate your backpack in the area it was reported missing and it hasn’t been handed into our lost property department.” The woman said sympathetically.

“Oh! Shit, I forgot about that. So I guess it’s been stolen?”

“I’m afraid that it’s looking that way, Sir.” The woman replied. “If your backpack does arrive at the lost property department I’ll let you know,”

“Thanks and uh, thanks for the call,”

Chris replaced the handset, staring at it, totally baffled. He hadn’t called the airport to report his missing backpack. That only left one possibility. It looked as though Leon had done so on his behalf. Chris frowned. He’d only mentioned it to the guy once. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing that Leon would do.

He was still staring at the phone and considering this when he heard the stairs creak. He turned around to see Leon slowly descending them. He’d changed out of his mission clothes and was wearing a pair of loose black sweatpants and a dark grey t-shirt. Chris could make out the bulk of a dressing underneath the t-shirt’s material. There was a bit more colour in the younger man’s cheeks but he still looked pretty pale.
He shuffled into the lounge area and settled himself down on the couch. He opened his laptop which had been left on the expensive looking coffee table and started to type. Chris figured that he was sending some kind of debrief to Dennis. He also knew that the younger man would omit his injury.
“I could do with a drink,” He said suddenly, his eyes still fixed to his laptop screen.

“Should you really be drinking with an injury like that?” Chris asked pointedly. Although he could totally understand why Leon would want a beer or something. Chris had lost count of the number of times he’d sunk a good drink after a mission. Sometimes it was the only way of shutting off your brain.

“Sometimes only a drink will do,” Leon replied as if he’d read Chris’ mind. “I don’t have beer or anything but there’s a decent bottle of whiskey in the kitchen.” He cleared his throat. “Take two glasses,”

Chris nodded and hurried off to the kitchen. Maybe it was the pain driving the younger man crazy or something but had he actually just been kind? The offer of the drink plus the whole airport baggage thing was seriously messing with Chris’ mind. Still, he located the whiskey quickly enough and grabbed two glasses before heading back into the lounge area. He poured two healthy measures and handed one to Leon who nodded his thanks.

Chris sat back in the comfortable armchair and drained half of his glass in one gulp. Leon was right. It was a decent whiskey. After the stresses of the day, it was certainly welcome. He felt his entire body relax as the alcohol burned the back of his throat and warmed his stomach. It also loosened his tongue somewhat. He hadn’t really wanted to admit it, but he supposed he’d kind of messed up back at the facility. With Leon seemingly becoming a little more friendly towards him, Chris guessed he owed the younger man an apology.

“Look,” He said as he drained the rest of his glass. “I’m sorry about what happened back there. I figured if we split up we’d cover more ground and get it done quickly as you wanted. I guess I didn’t exactly raise your expectations of me,” He wanted to add that he should’ve listened to Leon but he wasn’t quite prepared to go that far.

“Don’t worry,” Leon closed his laptop and took a deep drink. For a moment Chris thought he was going to be reasonable but, of course, that was way too much to expect. “My expectations weren’t high to begin with,” Leon continued. “I assumed you were the actions first, gung-ho type and you proved those assumptions to be correct.” He winced for a moment, as though in pain, before turning back to his drink. Chris opened his mouth to defend himself but Leon, clearly now on the warpath, beat him to the punch. “You’re supposed to be elite. You have years of extensive training both with the military and with the police. I would’ve thought that it would mean you’d be able to follow a simple command. You were asked to go in a specific direction and you choose to willfully ignore that. Not only that, but I also asked you not to further interfere with the keypad and, again, you did the opposite. Your pig-headed inability to respect me and follow those two simple commands not only endangered the mission but also our lives.”

“And you’re a pompous ass.” Chris quickly shot back before Leon could continue. He poured himself another glass and took a huge gulp of the amber liquid. His inhibitions had been loosened by the alcohol and he couldn’t help himself. He’d fucked up but he’d been man enough to apologise and now he was getting this condescending shit. “You’ve had a downer on me since I stepped foot into that Dennis guy’s office. You act like this high and mighty perfect example of how we should all behave but guess what buddy, you’re just a guy! A guy who barely communicates with words and instead acts like a total jerk with your bitchy looks and snooty ass attitude. It’s not healthy to act like an unemotional iceman. You clearly have feelings although fuck knows why you bottle them up. No wonder you don’t do partners. Nobody could stand to work with your stubborn, uppity, jerk-faced ass for more than two seconds!”

“Feel better now?” Leon asked with a raised eyebrow. As always, he looked cool and collected despite how white he still looked. “Don’t presume that you know a single thing about me, Chris. You know nothing.”

“I know you’re a pompous ass,” Chris replied petulantly. By now he’d ditched the stupid glass and was taking hits directly from the whiskey bottle. “I thought you’d at least try to make an effort to get along with me while I was here. It’s what a normal human being would do,” He added. He didn’t want to think about the offer to share the whiskey or his stupid fucking backpack now. Just because Leon had done those two things it didn’t mean he was a great guy. He was obviously still a total tool.

Leon didn’t respond to this latest onslaught and Chris could already feel his anger cooling down into pure annoyance. What was it with this guy? Why couldn’t he ever get him to react to anything other than in his stupid stand-offish way? Arguing wasn’t even fun because Leon never seemed to get heated. He’d just get stupid cool, condescending responses.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Chris grudgingly handed Leon the bottle so he could pour another drink before taking it back and continuing to drink from it. When he couldn’t stand the silence anymore, he sighed heavily.
“So,” He asked, trying his hardest not to sound bitter. “How’s your side?”

“The alcohol is helping,” Leon replied as he drained his fresh drink in one gulp. He reached forward and took hold of the bottle, taking a swig directly from it. Chris was a little taken aback by this action. It seemed like a totally un-Leon thing to do. The younger man was obviously getting a little drunk.

“Y,know,” Chris nodded towards the bottle. “That’s like we just kissed,”

“Pfft. Maybe if you’re eight years old,” Leon replied, rolling his eyes expressively as he took another hit from the bottle. His tone wasn’t acidic or sarcastic and was, in fact, almost good-natured. Chris wondered if he could push his partner’s obviously loosened inhibitions a bit more.

“So how come you’re working for the Government?” He asked. Maybe if he unravelled a little bit of the mystery that was Leon, he could figure out why he was the way he was.

“I was a cop,” Leon replied as he stretched out on the sofa, careful to avoid agitating his wound. “My first day as a fully fledged cop and I walk into a city that suffered a major viral outbreak,” He was staring up at the ceiling as he spoke.

“Raccoon,” Chris replied darkly. He was already beginning to realise what Leon’s deal was. If he survived the horrors of Raccoon, this whole iceman thing was obviously a defence mechanism. Not that Chris wanted to armchair psychology the guy or anything but it seemed a pretty standard response to trauma. He’d seen it in a handful of other BSAA agents. “I guess you heard about the Mansion Incident then,” He added.

“Yeah,” Leon nodded and handed over the whiskey bottle. “That’s how I got hired. The RPD was creating a special forces team to replace S.T.A.R.S. I was one of eight new recruits.” He shook his head at the memory. “It was like driving right into hell. They were everywhere. Rotting in the streets, the smell was horrendous.” He continued to stare up at the wall.

Chris drunk deeply from the bottle. He hadn’t thought about Raccoon for years. Or, at least, he’d tried not to. It still came back to him from time to time. It haunted his nightmares. He was back in the thick of it, walking endless corridors, the stench of death and decay hanging heavy in the air.
“My little sister was headed there too,” He said after a few moments silence. “Luckily I managed to get a message to her to stay the hell away,” He shuddered. “She’s tough but nobody deserves to see that shit. Umbrella tracked her down eventually of course. She ended up in some prison in another one of their facilities.”

“I found a child,” Leon said it so quietly that Chris wasn’t a hundred per cent sure he’d heard him correctly. “Her name was Sherry. She’d been trapped in the police station for days. Couldn’t find her parents, couldn’t find anyone safe,” He swallowed hard. All the while he continued to stare at the ceiling. Chris could see him beginning to tremble. “She was being followed the whole time by this...thing...this monster. It turned out it was the remains of her father. I managed to get us both out of the city and somewhere safe. Didn’t take long for the Government to track us down. They didn’t exactly give me much of a choice when it came to working for them,”

“Do you still see her?” Chris asked quietly. He may be drunk but he could still tell that he was sailing into dangerous waters. He had an idea of what must be going through Leon’s head right now. The two of them had witnessed hell on earth and had lived to tell the tale. That kind of thing left you with some pretty heavy scars.

“I took care of her for a while,” Leon answered. “But I don’t see her now,”

Chris nodded, unsure of what to say next. It was painfully obvious that Sherry was a touchy subject for the younger man. He took another big swig from the bottle and, emboldened by the whiskey, found himself reaching across and patting Leon’s shoulder gently.
“I’m sorry Leon,”
He knew he was taking a risk, touching Leon like that. He braced himself for the inevitable shrug followed by the vitriolic comment. It came as a surprise, therefore, when Leon simply turned to look at the hand on his shoulder. His expression was closed, guarded, and it was impossible for Chris to tell what he was really thinking.

“Thanks,” He replied quietly. His lips quirked slightly into a sad half smile. Chris gave his shoulder a squeeze. It had been a terrible, fraught day followed by an intense evening but, somehow, Chris felt like comforting Leon was the most natural thing in the world. He wasn’t a touchy-feely type of guy but something about it just felt right.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

It was just after midday when Chris woke up. As soon as he opened his eyes the pain of his hangover assaulted him. He had the bleary eyes and dry mouth that he remembered so fondly from his nights out in J’s bar back when he used to hang out with Forrest Speyer. His whole body was aching which made him painfully aware of the bruises he’d sustained during the failed reconnaissance mission.

He tried his best to sit up, instantly regretting it when he was hit full in the face by the sunshine leaking through the gap in his curtains. He quickly closed his eyes, flopped back onto his pillow and moaned. He’d never been able to hold us own against spirits. Given an endless supply of beer, he could drink most of the other BSAA agents he’d met under the table. Whiskey, however…

He didn’t remember much after his gloomy talk about the past with Leon. He had vague recollections of puking a couple of times and possibly trying to order a pizza by guessing the correct Spanish, but he had no clue how he’d ended up in bed. He rolled over and spotted a glass of water on the nightstand. He knew that he wouldn’t have had the forethought to put it there.

He cast his mind back to their chat. Leon had obviously been so drunk he hadn’t really known what he was saying but it had made him seem a lot more human. It was obvious that his iceman act was just a persona to protect himself. He supposed that, deep down, he’d always known that nobody could be that cold and unyielding for no good reason. He wondered what would happen when he finally ventured downstairs. Would Leon be a little friendlier now that he’d allowed someone to peek behind the curtain? Or would he pretend the previous night had never happened? Chris had a feeling it was more likely to be the latter.

He took his sweet time in the shower, allowing the hot water to ease his aching muscles and head. The water broke through some of the fuzz in his brain and helped him start to feel human again. As he towelled himself dry, he glanced at himself in the mirror. He had to admit that he didn’t look too bad at all. Some of his buddies in the BSAA looked like death the night after a drinking session. He looked a little tired sure but all in all, he passed muster. He hadn’t bothered to shave since he’d left the US and he was liking the stubbled look. He flung his towel on the floor and headed back into the bedroom where he pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. His next step in ridding himself of his hangover would be to make himself a massive plate of bacon and a strong cup of coffee.

Much to Chris’ surprise, he found breakfast waiting for him when he ventured downstairs. Leon was sitting at a freshly laid out table. There was a full rack of toast with various spreads and a full fresh pot of coffee. Chris did briefly wonder if Leon had done it all for himself but it seemed very unlikely that he’d be able to polish off an entire rack of toast. Chris took a seat, poured himself a big mug of coffee and grabbed a slice of toast. He picked up a pot of strawberry jam and noticed that there was a glass of water and a box of painkillers beside him.

“Thought you might be needed those,” Leon said, nodding at the painkillers. He was glancing over a newspaper. “You can do what you want today. I’ll be going to the office to update Dennis so your time is your own,”

Chris nodded. He knew that Leon must be as hungover as he was but he didn’t look it. His hair was immaculate as always and he was dressed in a freshly ironed t-shirt and loose-fitting combat pants. It was obvious the choice of pants was designed to avoid agitating his wound.

“Maybe you should go to that hospital today,” Chris said through a mouthful of painkillers and water. He swallowed. “Should probably get your wound checked out,”

“Not necessary,” Leon replied smoothly. His tone seemed to have snapped back to his usual irritation. “I’ve already completed the required paperwork for yesterday’s incident in the cave,” He continued, motioning to his laptop which was sitting on the kitchen counter behind him. He picked up his coffee cup and took a sip. His floppy blonde hair fell over his face and his shoulders were tense and his whole demeanour radiated annoyance. Chris wondered if he was still feeling bad after thinking and talking about Sherry. He put down his toast and leant across the small kitchen table, wordlessly putting his hand on Leon’s hunched shoulder.

Leon leapt up, reacting as though Chris’ hand was red hot. He winced as the swift movement irritated his wound.
“Don’t you ever try to touch me again Redfield,” He snapped as he picked up his laptop and rushed out of the room.

 

_*_

 

“Well I can’t say that your findings are a total surprise,” Dennis said calmly as he scanned the contents of the file folder that Leon had prepared. “Although the issue with your standard bullets was certainly something I wasn’t prepared for. As you know our budget is extremely tight as it is,”

Leon nodded. He was leaning against the water cooler trying his best to listen and not allow his mind to drift away. Dennis had, obviously, offered him a seat but he’d declined. Hunching in a chair would hurt too much and there was no way he was going to let Dennis see that he was injured. The last thing he needed right now was for the next part of the mission to be sidelined for a week or two while he was benched. More time with Chris Redfield around was definitely not something he wanted.

He couldn’t believe that he’d been so stupid last night. He’d never recounted his experiences in Raccoon City with that much ease before. He barely knew Chris and yet there he’d been, laying back on his couch and spilling his guts like never before. It worried him. Sure Chris was more likely to understand because he’d been through it too but, if anything, that meant he was far more dangerous to keep around. He didn’t want a repeat of last night.

“Were you able to retrieve any samples from the creature that attacked you?” Dennis asked. Leon stared at him, trying his best to make it look like he’d been paying his full attention to the older man.

“No,” He replied, processing what he’d just been asked. “There wasn’t time, unfortunately. We weren’t equipped to deal with it and needed to get out as soon as possible. In order to fully explore the facility, we’re going to need some better equipment,”

“That makes sense,” Dennis said evenly. “And, of course, I’d like to be able to give it to you. Unfortunately, the higher-ups have decided that they have sunk enough funding into this mission thus far and it’s going to be very difficult to persuade them otherwise. I’m sure you can appreciate the pressure that’s being put on me to produce results.”

“Yeah,” Leon replied thoughtfully. The painkillers he’d taken earlier that morning were beginning to wear off so it was getting harder to think clearly. He tried not to wince and he shifted his stance. “How about some armour piercing bullets to start with? That’ll at least get us past the creature,”

“Well that I can do,” Dennis answered with a smile. “I can get them in the next couple of days but, in the meantime, you should go home and rest,”

“Thanks, Dennis, I owe you one as always,” Leon turned carefully and put his hand on the doorknob to leave. It seemed like he’d gotten away with it at least.

“And one more thing?” Dennis said as he opened the door to escape. “Next time we meet up I’d like you to tell me that you attended the hospital to get your wound assessed and treated,”

Leon couldn’t help but smirk despite the fact that he’d just been busted. Dennis Leary wasn’t in the Secret Service for nothing.

 

_*_

 

Chris opened up the oven door for the tenth time. Judging by Leon’s behaviour this morning, the younger man was utterly fuming about last night’s personal chat. Chris didn’t have a lot in his arsenal when it came to making it up to people but he did have one thing. Claire’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe. She’d taught it to him when he’d crashed at her apartment for a night after a terrible row with Jill. Ever since then, whenever Chris felt the need to apologise, usually to Jill, he whipped up a batch of the tasty treats. Nine times out of ten, it did the job. Leon was a much harder nut to crack and he knew that a simple batch of cookies probably wasn’t going to earn him total forgiveness but it was at least a start.

He closed the oven and started to clean up the kitchen counter which was spattered with lumps of flour, oil and sugar. He figured he wasn’t going to do himself any favours if he left behind a mess.

“What the hell are you doing?” Leon demanded when he walked into the kitchen a couple of minutes later. He threw a little white paper bag on the kitchen table.

“Oh, just making a little something,” Chris replied with a goofy grin as Leon gingerly sat down and ripped into the bag.

“Just burning a little something more like,” Leon muttered as he pulled out a box of strong painkillers.

“Shit!” Chris exclaimed. Hadn’t he just checked on the cookies? Maybe he’d been cleaning longer than he’d realised. There had been a lot of sugar everywhere. He wrenched open the oven door and pulled out the baking tray. His cookies were now hard brown lumps which were tinged with black. He cursed and dumped the tray into the sink. He turned around, waiting for some sarcastic or pithy comment from Leon but was surprised to see the younger man smiling a little.

“You tried to make cookies?” He said with a hint of amusement. He popped a couple of the painkillers and chased it with a glass of orange juice that Chris had left on the table.

“I was trying to make it up to you since you seemed so pissed this morning,” Chris said sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck.

“Well maybe in the future you should keep a safe distance from the oven,” Leon suggested not unkindly. Chris nodded in agreement and poked forlornly at his ruined cookies. It was strange but Chris was certain that Leon’s expression was actually sympathetic. He appeared to stare at the painkiller box for a moment or two. “If you really want to help you can take a look at my side,” He said quietly.

“Sure,” Chris grinned again. “Hop on the couch and I’ll take a look,”

The pair of them headed to the lounge area and Leon slowly laid down on the couch on his uninjured side. Chris grabbed the first aid box from the kitchen as Leon carefully pulled up his t-shirt. Chris took the scissors and cut away the bandages before turning his attention to the gauze padding covering the wound. He donned a pair of latex gloves from the box and slowly started to peel it away. Leon winced and hissed in pain.
“Sorry buddy, has to be done,” Chris said apologetically.

“Not...your buddy,” Leon moaned.

“If you say so,” Chris replied distractedly. Now that he’d removed the gauze he could see the wound in its entirety. It really was a nasty looking deep gash. Leon had done his best to pull it together and secure it with some surgical strips but the skin around it was flaming red and radiated heat. It had definitely needed stitches. “This is way above my pay grade. You need to get it checked out at the hospital,”

“For the last time, no!” Leon snapped. He’d gone very pale. Chris sighed heavily and shook his head.

“It’s clearly infected.” He examined the wound closely. “There’s pus,”

“Well then...you’re going to have to clean it,” Leon replied. “Do you know how?”

“I mean, yeah but like, it’s going to hurt like a bitch,” Chris said. He couldn’t believe the extent of his partner’s stubbornness. This was the kind of wound that could make you ill. What the hell did the guy have against going to a hospital anyway?

“Duly noted,” Leon said expectantly.

Chris sighed heavily and took off his gloves to rummage through the contents of the First Aid box. He definitely needed to take precautions and change his gloves regularly at least that’s what he remembered Rebecca saying anyway. He found some antiseptic wash and a tube of antiseptic cream as well as some fresh gauze, alcohol wipes and surgical tape. He got everything ready and opened before donning a fresh pair of gloves.

He worked wordlessly, repeatedly spraying the wound liberally to flush it out and wiping away the pus with the alcohol wipes. His eyes flicked between the wound and Leon’s face. The younger man was obviously in a lot of pain. He was staring at a spot on the wall, his mouth a grim line of determination. Beads of sweat were collecting on his forehead and he’d gone horribly white again.
“Nearly done,” Chris muttered reassuringly. As soon as he’d wiped away all the pus, he sprayed the wound once more for luck then wiped away the excess fluid. He carefully applied the antiseptic cream, covered it up with a piece of clean gauze and secured it down with liberal amounts of the surgical tape.

The whole operation had created quite a mess and, although Leon didn’t say anything, Chris set about tidying all the empty packaging and putting everything else pack in the First Aid box. He got rid of all the garbage and placed the box back where he’d found it. When he came back into the lounge area, Leon still hadn’t moved.
“How are you doing?”

“Peachy,” Leon muttered. He threw an arm over his face.

“Well then, if you don’t need anything else I’m gonna go grab a shower,” Chris replied. “I’ll bring you some painkillers a bit later on so you don’t have to get up,”

Leon didn’t reply or move his arm so Chris took this as his cue to leave. He headed towards the stairs. His foot was barely on the first step when he heard the quiet but heartfelt comment.

“Thanks,”

 

_*_

 

Leon opened his eyes and was instantly confused. He was staring at a white ceiling and a light brown ceiling fan. He distinctly remembered falling asleep on the couch last night. He’d tried to get up and go to bed but he’d been in way too much pain. Logically he should be seeing a light cream ceiling with a fancy brass and glass light shade in the shape of a star. How the hell had he ended up in his bedroom? It was disconcerting. Surely the painkillers he was taking weren’t that strong that he’d checked out?

Unless, of course...

“Sweet, you’re up!”

Of course.

Leon sighed and sat up slightly to see a cheerful looking Chris carrying a tray. The contents were wobbling ominously. It looked like the black tea set that Leon had been gifted by Dennis’ wife a few months ago.

“You were totally out of it yesterday after I cleaned up your wound,” Chris explained. “I figured it was because of that gnarly infection so I brought you up to bed. You were burning up but I gave you a cold flannel and that seemed to help cos you pretty much went to sleep straight after. I figured you might wanna rest today so I brought you some breakfast,”

Chris proffered the tray as he moved closer to the bed. From his new angle, Leon could see the utter disaster area that was supposed to be his breakfast. There was half a glass of orange juice which, judging from the pips still floating in it, had been freshly squeezed from the contents of the fruit bowl in the kitchen. Next to it was a stack of badly burned toast and some frothy yellow liquid which Leon supposed was meant to be scrambled eggs. Chris had completed the meal by laying out two painkillers on a folded piece of toilet paper which was meant to serve as a napkin. The centrepiece to the disaster was a sad looking dandelion standing in a tall glass.

“Dennis called,” Chris continued, positioning the tray across Leon’s lap. “He says he managed to get a hold of the equipment you asked for. He seemed pretty pissed when I told you hadn’t been to the hospital,” He grabbed a knife and fork out of the back pocket of his jeans and handed them over with a flourish. “He’s asked me to go to his office to collect the equipment and he says if you dare turn up he’s gonna put you in his car and drive you to the hospital himself,”

“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” Leon replied through gritted teeth. He quickly dodged when Chris tried to feel his forehead. “Who the hell put you in charge anyway?”

He was irritated but he knew deep down that there was no way he was up to a trip to Dennis’ office. He felt hot and sweaty and he knew it had nothing to do with the temperature outside. Without another word, Chris disappeared, presumably to leave the house. Leon looked down at his poor excuse for breakfast. He’d never had someone make him breakfast in bed before and he couldn’t help but feel grateful despite how terribly unappetising the food looked. If he was being completely honest with himself, it felt good that someone cared that much to go to the effort.

He poked at the burnt stack of toast, wondering what to do next. There was no way he was going to eat any of it. He was feeling rough enough without potentially adding food poisoning to the mix. There was, however, a part of him that didn’t want to hurt Chris’ feelings by leaving the tray completely untouched. He considered his options, he supposed he could flush it down the toilet, or hide it under his bed. He knew he couldn’t put it straight into the garbage because Chris would likely see it.

He was seriously considering dumping the whole lot into the top drawer of his dresser when he stopped himself. Since when did he begin to give a damn about Chris Redfield’s feelings?

 

_*_

 

After what felt like several ages, Chris finally knocked on the right door. He hadn’t been able to remember his way through the seemingly endless corridors of the Government building to Dennis’ office. He’d walked in on a few people, including what looked like an important meeting, before some sexy young receptionist had shown him the right way. She was very friendly and had chatted to him as she’d led the way. She was obviously bilingual so Chris decided to practice some of his newly discovered Spanish. He hadn’t really heard much but he’d picked up some words from Leon. As soon as he tried them out her demeanour changed entirely. She’d clammed up and, when they’d reached their destination, she’d pointed to Dennis’ office with a frown. Chris had smiled and said thank you and she responded with a very rude gesture before storming off. Chris made a mental note to stop copying Spanish from his partner.

He was surprised that, after knocking, he didn’t receive an answer. Dennis seemed like the type of guy that was practically chained to his desk. He glanced around the corridor. There were a few important looking people in expensive business suits milling around and a group of them exited a room a couple of doors down and seemed intent on staring at him. Chris knocked again and waited. The group of men were muttering between themselves now and kept glancing in his direction. Chris, deciding that he was done being stared at by a bunch of weirdos, tried the door handle. Luckily it was unlocked so Chris slipped into the office, happy to close the door on the people outside.

He soon discovered why he hadn’t received an answer. There was no sign of Dennis. There was a half drunk cup of coffee on the desk and the computer was on so Chris guessed that Dennis had been called away from his desk temporarily. He didn’t feel like waiting around in the corridor with all the staring people so he made himself at home. He helped himself to a cup of water from the water cooler and sat down in one of the squashy chairs opposite the desk.

He quickly tired of his surroundings. He’d never really been all that great at waiting. It made him nervous and he looked for something he could fiddle with to occupy himself. Dennis didn’t appear to have any desk toys but Chris found his eyes being drawn to a slim grey file folder on top of the desk. His name was printed across the top of it. Unable to resist the urge, he picked it up and flipped it open.

The first page was his basic information such as his name, address and date of birth. Obviously, he knew all that stuff so he flipped forward a few more pages. He saw a resume that outlined his professional life starting with his entry to the US Air Force. He smirked as he read the sentence ‘discharged for insubordination’. Whoever had compiled the file had clearly done their research. Not even Claire or Jill knew about that. When he’d joined the RPD he’d made out that leaving the Air Force had been his choice.

The resume went on to mention his time at the RPD and his promotion to S.T.A.R.S. It went into further detail about the mansion incident and all of his anti-Umbrella activity that followed up until his creation of the BSAA. The next page contained a personality report which stated that he had no issues working with others and would be able to work with ‘Agent Kennedy’ with no problems. Chris snorted at that. He had no problems at all working with others if said others weren’t total and complete assholes.

The last page of his folder detailed the latest funding applications that Barry and Jill had made. There were numerous companies and organisations on the list. The last two had been the US Government and a pharmaceutical company called Tricell. Chris snorted again. He’d been totally against the last one. With their troubled history, did applying for money from a pharmaceutical company really seem like a wise move?

Chris closed the folder and tossed it aside. Reading about himself hadn’t done anything to assuage his boredom. He didn’t need to read about his history since he knew it. He had a quick look at a couple of other files that were on the desk but there were all pretty dull. The last one was the one that caught his eye. It was the same colour as his own but had Leon’s name across the top instead.

Chris knew that he shouldn’t. He knew that Leon would go completely crazy if he ever found out. He turned away from the desk and instead stared out of the window. There wasn’t much fun to be had staring at a parking lot. He looked back at the desk again. His hands twitched to pick up the folder. He shouldn’t. He wouldn’t.

He lasted another five minutes.

After a quick check to make sure that there were no Secret Service guys around, hiding in the pot plant or behind the water cooler, Chris grabbed the file and flipped it open. He scanned the basic information page, learning Leon’s birthday and that his middle name was Scott. He flipped the page to find a report detailing his time with the police force. Unsurprisingly he’d been the top student at his police academy, scoring the highest in all areas of study. He’d graduated in the top percentile with honours. The next page listed all of his scores. It was kind of depressing to see so many ‘100%’s on one page.

There was a scanned copy of a letter confirming his transfer from the NYPD to the RPD. The description of his new job was that he was to be part of a new task force called the SPD. Chris briefly remembered Leon mentioning it the night he’d found out about his history with Raccoon City.

Next followed a detailed and in-depth report of the Raccoon City incident itself. Chris felt a little sick as he read about the death and destruction that had occurred following the mansion incident. He was surprised to learn that Leon had been injured in the line of duty. He’d been shot by what the report called an ‘unknown assailant’. There was some information about the Sherry girl that Leon had mentioned and how he’d been granted temporary custody of her following the outbreak.

According to the folder, Leon had lost that custody pretty quickly following his recruitment to the US Government. It wasn’t recorded where Sherry had ended up and instead delved into Leon’s training. Just like with the RPD, he’d excelled at all exercises. Chris felt a stab of guilt as he came across a report from one of Leon’s supervisors stating that, although Leon was an excellent agent-in-training, there were some concerns about his mental health following Raccoon City. Chris read a psychiatrist's report stating that Leon was showing some self-destructive tendencies during his downtime which included drinking and promiscuous behaviour. Chris felt a flare of anger when the doctor detailed that Leon was showing all the signs of suffering from PTSD but they were reluctant to go with an official diagnosis as he was the most promising Agent they’d seen for years.

Chris flipped forward a few more pages. Most of them were early mission reports following his training. He found it a little odd that a lot of the reports stated that Leon worked well with others and that he’d been teamed up with someone called Jack Krauser. It seemed like they’d spent some time training together and had become an efficient team. There was a sheath of mission briefs which carried both their signatures.

Finally, Chris came to a report for a mission entitled ‘Operation Javier’. There was a detailed explanation of the Veronica virus. Chris clearly remembered it from his time in Antarctica and felt a little sick at being reminded of its strength and effects. He scanned quickly to the end of the report and noted that although both Leon and this Krauser guy had been sent on the mission, the only signature at the bottom was Leon’s.

He got his answer as to why on the very next page. It was a formal complaint made by a certain Jack Krauser. Chris’ eyes almost popped out of his head when he read that, during the mission, Leon had confessed to Krauser that he was gay. Krauser had stated that this revelation was not only poorly timed, but also caused him to be so distracted that he’d been critically wounded. The wound he’d reached had meant that he was no longer eligible to join the Special Forces.

Leon’s side of the story was on the next page. He’d explained that he’d trusted Krauser implicitly and they’d been a team for a couple of years. He’d felt that being open to Krauser would improve their dynamic and that he hadn’t expected such an openly homophobic reaction from his partner. It then went on to detail how Krauser had made Leon’s life a living hell after the mission. Chris found himself skipping over the worst parts. The report ended with an interview where the Government had expressed that they didn’t want to lose Leon as an Agent and that they felt the best option would be to move him from the US. There was a letter officially offering Leon the post in Spain. The letter had been signed by Leon, Dennis and a third party witness.

Chris snapped the file shut and quickly dumped it back on Dennis desk. He had a horrible, sick, twisted feeling in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he shouldn’t have read the stupid file. No wonder Leon hadn’t wanted to go into further detail about his past. It also explained his dislike for working with anyone and his adamance that he didn’t need a partner. It was obvious how much trust he’d put into this Krauser guy just to have it all blow up in his face. Suddenly Leon’s attitude made a lot more sense. It was obviously a lot easier for him to keep someone at arm’s length rather than let them in again.

Chris shook his head. He decided there and then that he was going to do everything he could to make Leon realise that it was ok. He had absolutely no problem with gay people and there was no way in hell he’d treat Leon the way that Krauser bastard did. It would mean having to admit to reading his file but Chris hoped that the relief that Leon would feel at finally being able to be himself and drop the act would outweigh any anger.
“Ah, Mr Redfield,” A sudden, smooth voice made him jump. He whipped around in his seat to see Dennis standing in the doorway. “Terribly sorry to keep you waiting,” He proffered a black messenger bag. Chris blinked at it before remembering that he was actually there to pick up some bullets.

“Sweet, thanks Dennis!” He replied, taking the bag. Dennis smiled at him and took his seat behind his desk.

“I trust you’re not finding it too difficult to work with Leon?”

“Yeah he’s fine,” Chris replied distractedly. He was eager to get back to the house and have a chat with the younger man. “So...um, is this all I came for?” He asked, motioning to the bag.

“Indeed it is,” Dennis answered with a nod. “Although I’d be very grateful for an update on Leon’s condition.”

“Oh the wound,” Chris said, “Yeah, I’ve been making sure it’s clean and bringing him his painkillers and stuff,”

“Excellent,” Dennis smiled at him warmly. “I have a rather sneaking suspicion that Leon won’t be extending his thanks but I’m very grateful,”

“No problem,” Chris shrugged. The thought of Leon and his snooty ungrateful attitude would usually get his back up but, now that he knew why, he didn’t mind so much.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

Chris found Leon sitting on the couch when he breezed in through the front door. The younger man had been stretched out reading a book with a glass of wine and the painkiller box by his side. It was the first time he’d seen Leon look relaxed since they’d shared the whiskey. His cheeks had a lot more colour and he didn’t look so hunched and tense. Clearly, he’d needed the lazy morning in bed. Chris grinned as he dumped the messenger bag by the door. After their chat, he was hoping this new relaxed Leon would be a more permanent fixture.
“Great, you’re up!” He exclaimed brightly. “I wanted to talk to-”

“Did you get the bullets?” Leon asked looking up from his book. Chris nodded and beamed at him. “Why do you look so pleased with yourself?”

“We need to have a talk,” Chris said, flopping down in the armchair. Leon, to his credit, actually closed his book and put it down on the coffee table. “You can totally relax now!” He announced importantly. He’d been practising all the way home how to tell his partner the good news and he figured that he’d got it just about right.

“Are you going to explain?” Leon asked with a raised eyebrow.

“This whole act you’ve got going on,” Chris explained. “You don’t have to bother with it anymore. At least not in front of me. I know!”

“You know what?” Leon replied levelly. “You’re being pretty irritating right now,”

“I know you’re gay!” Chris grinned. “I know that’s why you act all cold and high and mighty because you wanna keep people away but you don’t have to anymore. I’m totally cool with it and I’m not gonna start acting like a jerk or anything,”

“Explain,” Leon demanded. His whole demeanour suddenly changed. His tone was quiet, dangerous, and his glare was colder than Chris had ever seen it. Suddenly he didn’t feel so elated anymore. He had the horrible feeling that he’d started to dig his own grave and was going at it pretty rapidly.

“Um...well...y’see...it was kind of an accident,” Chris stuttered. “Dennis wasn’t in his office and there was this folder...y’know how it is. Hanging around, you get bored right? I was looking for something to read so-”

“So you thought you’d read my personal folder,” Leon finished for him. “And, for some explicable reason, you assumed that bounding into my home like an oaf and crowing about the fact you did so would somehow make me happy?” He was speaking through gritted teeth now. “I knew that you were a moron, that’s been made painfully obvious, but I had no idea you were delusional.”

Leon carefully pushed himself off the couch and stalked away without another word.

 

_*_

 

Chris stared moodily out of the window of the Jeep as the now familiar countryside whizzed by. Leon had taken one more day to recover before deciding that, with the armour piercing bullets now in their possession, they should return to the facility. It hadn’t really been much of a decision in that Leon had announced that that’s what they would be doing today.

If things between them had been bad before, they were even worse now. Leon barely communicated and would only speak to Chris when it was absolutely necessary. They’d fallen into a routine where they’d eat meals together but the past couple of mornings there’d been no sign of Leon at the breakfast table. If Leon had needed his dressings changed or his wound cleaned, he certainly hadn’t asked Chris. In fact, Chris had barely seen the guy since he’d told him about the folder. He’d caught glimpses here and there around the house but never long enough to engage in a conversation.

Finally, last night, it had all gotten too much for Chris. He’d grabbed a pen and paper and written Leon an apology note. He’d laboured long and hard about what to say before settling for a simple, straightforward apology. The last thing he’d done before heading to bed was slip the note under Leon’s door. If the younger man had read the note he hadn’t mentioned it.

Chris sighed deeply. He’d truly thought that he’d done the right thing. He knew that reading the folder had been wrong but his intentions were good. Now it looked as though Leon was never going to speak to him properly again. Soon the mission would be over and they’d go their separate ways. A few days ago Chris would’ve relished this fact but now something was gnawing away at the pit of his stomach. He realised that he actually hated the idea of never seeing Leon again.

Before he could make sense of this, Leon brought the Jeep to a stop outside the all too familiar cave. They gathered their weapons, now loaded with the armour piercing rounds, and opened the manhole cover before beginning to climb down the long ladder. Once they reached the bottom and landed in the metallic corridor, Chris instantly felt like they were being watched. There was no sign of the monster that attacked them or any sign that its slimy tentacles had brushed the corridor walls. The whole corridor was silent, sterile and made Chris feel deeply uneasy.

Leon silently set off in the left-hand direction. He moved lightly so that his boots barely made a sound on the metal grill floor. Chris followed as carefully as he could. After a few steps and no sign of any doors, he couldn’t stand the silence a second longer.
“Look, don’t you think we should talk about this whole file thing?”

“It doesn’t require our immediate attention,” Leon snapped back. They continued walking for another few feet before finally, right at the end of the corridor, there was a door. It was a regular sized door, not like the giant one that had housed the tentacle creature. Readying his gun, Leon moved forward and placed his hand on the handle. “Cover me,” He ordered as he pulled the handle and opened the door.

They breached swiftly and efficiently and, much to Chris surprise, there were no evil scientists or zombies behind the door. In fact, it looked just like a run of the mill storeroom. It was fairly small, Chris guessed it was about the size of Leon’s kitchen. There were a few oil drums stacked in one corner. They didn’t bare any labels or company name. Across the back wall were some wooden packing crates which, again, didn’t have anything written on them. They did a quick sweep of the room to make sure they were alone before lowering their weapons.
“Looks like we’ve gotta go back to that monster’s door,” Chris said. There were no other doors leading out of the room other than the one they’d just used. He was desperate to add a comment about his original idea to go right was correct but he figured it wasn’t the time or place. Leon looked pretty irritated.

“I don’t like that idea,” He replied eventually. “Going in through the front door leaves us open to attack and we don’t know that there are only one of those monsters in there. We need another way into the room that doesn’t leave us so exposed,” He added pensively.

Chris nodded and looked around the room again, hoping for some inspiration to strike. He didn’t really think that oil drums and packing crates would be able to help them. Then, out of the corner of his eye just above the packing crates, he spotted their answer.
“The air vents,” He said, pointing to a grill that was attached to the wall. “They probably lead to that room,”

“Hmm,” Leon titled his head to one side, considering. “See if you can pull the cover off,” He said after a moment or two.

It wasn’t confirmation that Chris’ idea was, in fact, genius but Chris took it anyway. He hurried over to the grill and started to pull at it. It was securely fastened with screws. He reached into one of the pockets on his belt and pulled out a multi-tool which Barry had once given him for Christmas. He flipped up the screwdriver attachment and quickly loosened each screw until the grill came away revealing an entrance to the air vents. He grinned triumphantly and was about to toss it aside when Leon’s hand clamped down on his wrist.

“Don’t just throw it you moron. You’ll alert everyone to our presence,”

Chris carefully placed the metal grill on top of one of the packing crates. Leon nodded and pushed forward, hauling himself up into the vent. Chris followed suit. As he pulled himself into the cramped and dirty space, he couldn’t help but notice that his face was mere inches away from Leon’s ass. He desperately wanted to make some kind of comment but he knew that it wouldn’t be appreciated. Instead, he remained as silent as he could as they began to crawl. Leon would pause occasionally, probably to check his compass to make sure they were heading back in the direction of the monster’s room. It was during one of these pauses that Chris decided that he needed to break the silence again.

“Y’know, when I started the BSAA I figured I’d be commanding shit not crawling through filthy air vents,”

“Quiet,” Leon whispered harshly. Chris sighed. Even the guy’s ass looked uppity. They’d been paused for a while now. He wondered what was going on. He’d been aware that the small space was beginning to get lighter so he figured that they were at an exit of some kind.

“So what’s the next plan?” Chris asked. “Pop off the grill and go down there all guns blazing?” He continued jokingly.

“Oh sure,” Leon whispered sarcastically. “In fact there’s probably a girl down there who’ll be oh-so-grateful that you’ve rescued her and she’ll want to make sweet love on the corpse of the monster you just killed,”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Chris replied excitedly. He grinned even though Leon couldn’t see it. It was the most words the younger man had said to him in the last 48 hours. Maybe things were looking up after his air vent idea.

Leon rolled his eyes. Of course, the oaf would be excited by some macho rescue scenario. He was trying his best to concentrate on the room below them. From his vantage point, it looked as though it was a lab. There were no signs of life from what he could tell. He was finding it hard to focus knowing that Chris was so close behind him. As much as he hated the guy for prying into his private life, especially in such an overt way, he was also finding himself intrigued. Why had the stupid oaf cared so much to do something that was, in most people’s eyes, a pretty terrible thing to do? He’d done his best to keep him at arm’s length so, rather than give up like anyone else would do, Chris had gone out of his way to find out why he was the way he was. He’d spent all of the previous day thinking about it and still couldn’t work out what it meant.

Still, Leon chastised himself, he needed to focus. He continued to look around the lab as much as his current situation would allow. It looked as though there was a bank of monitors to his right. They were all switched off although there was a takeaway cup of coffee next to one of them. It had obviously been used fairly recently. To his left he could see a row of cupboards all of which had the biohazard logo stamped on them. This was clearly some kind of testing facility.
“So really, what is the plan?” Chris asked suddenly.

“Shut up!” Leon hissed. “I can’t see anyone down there but that doesn’t mean the room is empty. Try keeping your oaf mouth shut for a moment so you don’t get us found out,” He was feeling around the edges of the grill. Luckily it seemed that it was hinged which would mean they wouldn’t have to worry about the grill dropping down and alerting anyone. Leon pushed on it and found that it wasn’t secured shut. “Right. I’m going down, you better be ready to cover me,”

“Of course!” Chris replied.

Leon pushed open the grill and, being as careful as he could, dropped down through the open hole.

Chris watched as the younger man executed a perfectly agile landing. It was quite a long drop to the tiled floor below. Chris followed as quickly as he could and found that he was nowhere near as smooth as Leon. He crashed to the floor in a heap. He got to his feet almost as quickly and brushed himself off. Fortunately, they were alone in the room. Leon was already checking out some cabinets to the left. Chris was about to head to some monitors that were on the right but he stopped short when he saw the water tank.

It was almost as wide as the whole room, stretching along the back wall. The water inside of it was dark and murky and it was impossible to tell whether anything was lurking in its depths. There was a metal gantry above the tank which obviously enabled a better view of its contents. Chris wondered if this was the home to the tentacled create that had attacked them. He approached the thick glass and considered tapping on it to see what happened. Much to his surprise, he heard an audible click. He knew that sound anywhere. It was the safety being taken off a gun. He quickly turned around to see that Leon was struggling with a thick, muscular arm that was wrapped around his neck. It belonged to the man who was currently pointing a magnum at him.

“Drop the gun,” The stranger ordered. Chris immediately obeyed, not wanting to have Leon hurt or his head shot off. He glared at the man who was currently holding his partner hostage. He was tall and well built, his muscles straining against the tight black t-shirt he was wearing. His face was cruel looking, his eyes cold and full of hatred. There was a deep looking scar that ran from his forehead, over his eye and to his cheek. His hair was blonde and slicked back reminding Chris, sickeningly, of Albert Wesker.

“Who the fuck are you?” Chris demanded.

“Ha! I ask the questions around here. Why don’t you tell your friend who I am Kennedy?” The man squeezed Leon’s neck hard.

“Krauser,” Leon choked out.

Chris felt his blood run turn to ice. Krauser grinned at him smugly. So this was the guy who’d made Leon’s life hell all those months ago! Leon struggled against his grip but was getting nowhere. Chris wasn’t surprised, the guy looked as though he bench pressed elephants in his spare time.
“They told you I died in a helicopter crash didn’t they?” Krauser whispered teasingly in Leon’s ear.

“They...didn’t tell me...anything,” Leon’s voice sounded strained as he tried to get free from Krauser’s vice-like grip. “I didn’t...ask”

“I want the rest of those weapons you’re carrying on the floor now,” Krauser demanded, turning his attention back to Chris. “I saw you come in here. I know what you’re packing. Any funny stuff and I’ll slit Kennedy’s throat,”

Chris had to comply. He quickly undid his tactical belt and let it slide to the floor. He’d never lost a partner before and he wasn’t going to start now. The belt was followed by his concealed combat knife. He watched as Krauser relieved Leon of his weapons whilst still maintaining his grip on the younger man’s neck. Once he was done, he pointed his magnum at Chris again.

“Move,” He ordered. He nodded towards a heavy metal door in the far corner of the lab. Leon was frantically trying to signal something using his eyes but Chris didn’t understand. He allowed Krauser to march them both over to the door. There was a keypad to the right and Krauser tapped in a combination which allowed the door to slide open. Chris was unceremoniously shoved into the darkened room, closely followed by Leon. Before Chris could react and give Krauser a piece of his mind, the door slid closed plunging them into complete darkness. Chris suddenly felt a fist come into contact with his left shoulder.

“You complete and utter fucking idiot!” Leon spat. “Why didn’t you just shoot him?” Chris couldn’t see the younger man’s face in the darkness but he could imagine that it looked distinctly unimpressed.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Chris replied sarcastically. The room they’d been shoved in appeared to be very small because he could feel Leon’s breath on his cheek and he knew there was no way Leon would stand so close to him voluntarily. It was a bit unnerving. “I guess I was just supposed to let him choke you to death? Who knows what stuff he could’ve pulled if I’ve had done that! He could’ve had a knife and stabbed you for all I know! I get that you want the guy dead but-”

“Of course you get it!” Leon exploded. “You read my fucking file! You know all about him and everything he did!” There was a loud metallic cling as Leon obviously kicked out at one of the walls. “Fuck! Why don’t you ever listen to me? I told you I don’t need a friend or a damn partner. I don’t need you! Why did you have to read that file? Why couldn’t you have just waited for Dennis? But no, you’re Chris Goddamn Redfield. You do whatever the hell you want and fuck everyone else! Do you ever give a shit about consequences? Or are you just happy to go through your life acting like a complete moronic oaf?”

Chris started to pick at a loose thread on his tactical shirt. He was beginning to feel incredibly stupid. He wasn’t sure which he preferred, the silent cold Leon or this new explosive Leon. He was grateful he didn’t have to look at his partner during his tirade. As scary as it was to hear Leon lose it like this, it would’ve been doubly strange to see it.

“I’m sorry,” He muttered into the darkness. He didn’t know what else to say. He couldn’t take back the fact that he’d read the file.

“Just...leave me alone,” Leon replied. “I need to find a way out of here,”

Chris could hear his partner slowly beginning to move around the room. Judging by how often he was coming into contact with a part of the younger man’s body, Leon was obviously using his hands to guide himself around their small space and work out any possible exits. He could hear him muttering quietly to himself.

It wasn’t long before Chris felt like he was going crazy. The darkness of the room coupled with Leon’s movements and silence started to get too much for him. It was obvious that that was the intention of the cell. He wished he could sit or lay down but there didn’t seem to be that much spare space. He desperately wanted to talk to Leon. It was clear that the reason for his tirade was something to do with seeing Krauser again. The file hadn’t gone into too much detail about what Krauser had done once Leon had revealed his sexuality but, seeing the cruel look on Krauser’s face, he imagined that whatever it was hadn’t been pleasant. Leon himself had mentioned that Krauser had made his life hell.

Chris wished that there was something he could say or do to make things better Leon and himself. It seemed that, before the file incident, Leon’s hard shell was beginning to crack and he was getting a glimpse at the man beneath. But, it occurred to him, maybe there was nothing he could say. Maybe this would be the extent of their relationship until the mission was over and he returned to the US. He cast his mind back to the frequent arguments he’d had with Jill when they were a couple. She’d often told him that he was emotionally retarded. She’d once said that, by the time he figured out how to make things right, it was too late.

He hated the thought of that being the case with Leon. The younger man had been through so much and he wasn’t helping to improve his opinion of partners. He felt a horrible churning in his stomach when he realised that, in a way, he’d betrayed Leon’s trust just as much as Krauser had. No wonder Leon didn’t want anything more to do with him. He was pretty sure that if the situation were reversed, he’d feel the same way. Still, Chris told himself, there was something he could to help out. He could find a way for them to escape this damn room.

He bumbled around in the dark, trying to feel for something, anything, that might help. He heard a muffled curse as his foot came down on top of Leon’s.
“What what you’re doing you fucking idiot!” Leon spat. “We can’t both move around! There isn’t room!”

“I’m trying to help,” Chris said, trying not to sound as wounded as he felt. “Have you found something like another air vent?”

“No,” Leon replied, “But the walls are pretty high and I can’t reach the top. You’re going to need to give me a boost,”

“Can do!” Chris said, pleased that he could do something to help his partner out. “So, how do you want to do this? Ass to face or crotch to face?” He added teasingly.

“I’ll tell you how we’ll do it you vacuous oaf,” came Leon’s acidic reply, “I’ll shove my foot up your hairy ass and launch you into the door. Your thick skull will likely break it down with no problems,”

“So defensive,” Chris teased, grunting as Leon did his best to climb onto his back. It was difficult in the small space but soon the younger man was resting on his shoulders.

“There’s an air vent here,” Leon said after a couple of minutes. Chris felt him wobble slightly in his grip as he struggled to get it open. “It’s smaller than the other one, looks like you’re staying here,” Leon pushed himself off Chris’ shoulders. “Try not to get yourself killed before I can mount a rescue mission,”

Chris opened his mouth to reply but, judging by the metallic clang and the swift shuffling that followed, Leon was already up and into the vent. It looked like all he could do now was sit and wait.

_*_

Leon ignored the ache in his injured side as he moved down the corridor as quickly and quietly as he could. He hadn’t spent long in the vents, probably no more than a few minutes, and as soon as he’d found an exit, he’d taken it. It had dropped him down into a storage room. It was a lot smaller than the one with the oil drums and packing crates and a quick search had turned up nothing he could use as a weapon.

He’d left the room and found himself in a new corridor. The vents had been somewhat disorientating so it had been hard to judge where he was headed. Krauser had made sure to relieve him of his compass. Leon felt a churning in his stomach when his thoughts turned to his former partner. He couldn’t let himself be distracted by thoughts of the past. He needed to focus, find a weapon and get back to Chris as soon as possible.

He knew his lack of weapons and supplies had all been part of Krauser’s plan. He knew the man well enough to know that he was, at heart, a sadistic hunter who liked to play with his prey. He would be getting off on the fact that he could act the predator whilst he, Leon, wandered around with nothing to defend himself with.

 

_*_

 

It hadn’t taken Chris very long to exhaust the entertainment possibilities in the darkened cell. He’d checked every single inch of the walls and had found nothing but some smooth glass which felt like a bank of old CRT monitors but he couldn’t find any controls to switch them on. He couldn’t reach the air vent that Leon had escaped through so there was no chance of him trying to squeeze through it. Finally, he’d been reduced to searching through the pockets of his combats. The only thing he’d found other than a whole bunch of lint was a penny. He’d tried to play catch with it but it was pretty impossible in the dark.

All the while, he’d tried his best to keep himself sane in the silence by whistling some of Queen’s greatest hits. He’d just embarked on his rendition of ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ when, all of a sudden, the monitor wall flickered to life. After being in the darkness for so long, the light was almost blinding and it took Chris a few seconds of eye rubbing and blinking to be able to focus on what the screens were showing.

He could see Leon in a corridor. Another one of them showed a different corridor with three zombies slowly shambling down it. Chris felt every single drop of blood in his veins turn to ice. A third monitor showed Krauser in a small office. He was equipping himself with a powerful looking magnum and a couple of serrated combat knives. The other six monitors showed different rooms and corridors with the final one being the lab. It appeared that he was being forced to witness a sadistic game of cat and mouse.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

Leon slowly moved down a set of concrete stairs. He kept himself pressed against the wall so that he could have a slight advantage if there was anyone lurking around the corner at the bottom. During his short time in the vents, he’d noticed they’d sloped upwards slightly which, logically, meant he was one floor up from Chris.

He tried every door he’d come across before he found the stairs at the end of the corridor. They’d either been locked, completely empty or had nothing of use behind them. It appeared that the facility wasn’t operating at full functionality and, judging by the fact that he’d not seen another soul, probably with a skeleton staff. The last door he’d tried had been to a small break room which looked as though it hadn’t been used in a long time. It was almost bare except for a broken down vending machine and a battered old sofa covered by a grubby looking throw. He’d tried the vending machine to no avail but he had managed to find a ballpoint pen. It wasn’t the best weapon but it was certainly better than nothing. During his Secret Service training, he’d been taught that almost anything could become a deadly weapon in the right hands. He’d picked it up and pocketed it.

He needed to get back to Chris.

 

_*_

 

Chris helplessly stared at the monitor screens. He’d watched Leon scout the length of a corridor and now he was working his way slowly down a set of stairs. He wondered who was controlled the camera feeds as they kept switching to keep an eye on the younger man and Krauser respectively. So far it didn’t seem like Krauser was anywhere near Leon but he wouldn’t put it past the guy to be messing with him.

The monitor flickered again and now Leon was at the end of yet another corridor. It was fairly long and, from his unwanted viewpoint, Chris could see an elevator at the very end. He could also see a trio of zombies that were feasting on a body. Judging by the body’s tattering clothing, it looked to have belonged to a scientist or researcher. Chris felt another bead of sweat run down his temple. He wanted to call out and warn Leon but, mostly, he wanted to be there to back him up.

One of the monitors to his right flickered and Krauser came into view. He’d moved from the office a couple of minutes ago and was now stalking down another corridor. There was no way of knowing whether the corridors were connected. Perhaps Krauser would be waiting for Leon after he’d stepped off the lift.

He punched the wall to his left. It made a horrible metal clang that reverberated around the small cell. Chris growled in frustration. The whole situation was bringing him right back to the Spencer Mansion. His colleagues had been out there, alone, and he’d been forced to come across them one by one. Visions of Forest Speyer were beginning to come back into his mind’s eye. Chris shook his head violently, trying his best to clear it of the haunting sight of his best friend’s empty eye sockets.

Leon was getting closer and closer to the zombies. This was obviously just some sick, twisted game. Every single door he tried was locked. Leon was deliberately being funnelled somewhere. He knew Leon was highly trained and a Raccoon survivor but what if the zombies were able to smell the infection from his wound? What if, while he was dealing with them, Krauser got the jump on him? A new image flashed into his brain. This time it was Leon. The younger man was sprawled out on the corridor’s tiled floor. He was broken and bleeding, his face and body mauled by the zombies. There was a neat bullet hole in the centre of his forehead. Bile rushed upwards straight into Chris’ throat. He swallowed it down and pulled a face.

He needed to get out of this cell and he needed to do it now. He leapt as high as he could, hoping to grab onto the edges of the open vent and pull himself up. He did it again and again, cursing loudly every time he landed back on his feet.

Suddenly a high pitched scraping noise filled the cell. It was akin to someone dragging their nails down a chalkboard. Chris grunted and covered his ears. He whipped round to see the source of the noise. The cell door was slowly opening! The light was beginning to flood back into the small room. Every single muscle tensed in his body as he prepared to be attacked by something or someone. He pressed himself against the bank of monitors trying to give himself the best advantage he could in the circumstances.

He frowned when the door opened fully and nothing happened. He took a few tentative steps forward and still, nothing appeared to be there. He poked his head out of the cell and frowned in confusion. The lab was empty. Or, at least it appeared to be. He immediately looked up towards the gantry just in case something was waiting to leap on him but again, nothing. He moved out of the cell completely and looked all around the lab in utter confusion. Was this part of the game? Or was it some lucky fluke. Maybe there had been a technical fault and the door had opened itself? Either way, he wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

His weapons were, of course, long gone. He glanced around the lab looking for something he could use. He liked to consider himself a pretty resourceful type of guy. There wasn’t really much to take. Knowing that time was of the essence, Chris darted over to the cupboards with the biohazard label. He growled in frustration when he found every one of them locked. The bastard Krauser had his tactical belt which meant the lockpicking kit that Jill had given him years ago wasn’t currently at his disposal.

He turned his attention to the counter. In the corner by a sink were a collection of beakers and conical flasks. Better those than nothing. He grabbed the biggest one and smashed it on the counter top so that it created a sharp edge. Next, his eyes fell upon a door in the far corner that he hadn’t noticed before. He knew that going back into the first corridor was a bust since it only led to the original storeroom.

He hurried over to the door only to find that, like the cupboards, it was locked too. This was a much easier problem to solve. With a quick shoulder barge, the door gave way. He found himself standing in a small stairwell with a set of concrete stairs spiralling upwards. He hurried up. He figured the best way to go about things was to stop on each floor and quickly check each corridor before moving on to the next.

He wasn’t sure who he wanted to find first, Leon or Krauser.

 

_*_

 

Leon pressed himself against the wall as he spotted a group of zombies at the end of the corridor. Just beyond them, he could see an elevator. He quickly pulled the ballpoint pen from his pocket and plotted his best method of attack. Luckily, the three zombies were so consumed in devouring whichever poor soul was beneath them, he had the chance to get it right. Judging by the putrid smell, they’d been around for a while. Leon knew this would work to his advantage. He thought, with a little humour, that it was now second knowledge to him that, the older the zombie, the drier and more brittle its skull was. It would certainly work to his advantage given his current weapon.

Decisions made, he moved quickly and stealthily down the corridor keeping his footsteps as light as he could. He wanted the zombies to notice him at the last possible moment. Wielding his pen like a combat knife, he set his sights on the first zombie. He ran forward and lunged just before it had the chance to look up. He jammed the pen’s point right into the middle of its forehead. A sickening wet noise told him that he’d hit his mark perfectly. The zombie crumpled to the floor as he wrenched the pen back just in time to do the same thing to the second zombie.

The third came at him even quicker, it’s arms outstretched, mouth open wide. The pen was still jammed in the second zombie’s head and wouldn’t work loose. Leon gave one last tug and slipped in a pool of blood that was leftover from the zombie’s first victim. He landed heavily on his back just as the third zombie leapt for him. Thinking fast, Leon grabbed it by the wrists, trying his best to ignore the foul stench of its rotten breath. He pushed as hard as he could and the zombie reeled backwards, slipping on the very same blood pool. Leon leapt to his feet and quickly brought his heavy combat boot down on its head before it could get back up. Liquified brain matter splattered across the tile and up to leg of his combats as its head caved in.

Breathing heavily, he finally managed to pull the ballpoint pen free of the second zombie’s head. He quickly checked the body they’d been feasted on. Aside from the tattered remains of a lab coat, there was very little else to it. He stepped over the poor bastard and pressed the elevator’s call button.

_*_

 

Chris felt like he’d run an entire marathon’s worth of stairs. The stairwell seemed to be never ending and, out of all the corridors he’d tried, none of them had any signs of Krauser or Leon.

He was beginning to wonder if he’d been better off staying in the tiny cell. At least he’d be able to see where Leon was and know whether or not he was safe. For all he knew they could be constantly missing each other. What if he was heading down whilst Leon was heading up? What if Leon got back to the lab before him and then wandered off again trying to find him? Chris sighed heavily as he leant against the stairwell wall. Why didn’t he think things through? He’d always been the act first think later type and, more often than not, it lead him straight towards trouble.

Leon was, in contrast, the more logical type. Maybe that’s what he needed to strive for. He took a deep breath and made an executive decision. One more corridor and, if nobody was there, he’d head back up the stairs and wait in the lab.

He hurried down the next flight of stairs. He opened the door to the next corridor quietly. It looked just like every other corridor in the facility. It was sterile, plain and had a tiled floor. This time however, he could see Krauser waiting for the elevator at the other end of it. Chris grinned. Krauser has his back to him which gave him the distinct advantage.

Chris was definitely going to need to get the drop on him first. He was ridiculously out gunned. All he had was his broken conical flask. Krauser had his magnum and combat knives. He didn’t have much time to plan. Either the elevator would come or Krauser would turn around and see him. He needed to work with the element of surprise and take Krauser out using his muscle.

Luckily, speed and strength were Chris’ greatest allies. He moved quickly down the short length of the corridor and charged towards Krauser. The other man barely had time to turn around before Chris bum rushed him straight into the wall. Krauser let out a cry of surprise and Chris used his momentary shock to his advantage. He grabbed a combat knife off Krauser’s tactical belt and jammed it straight into his right shoulder.

He expected Krauser to reel from the pain, at which point Chris would be able to take his magnum. The other man however, simply smirked. Before Chris could react, Krauser backhanded him across the face which such power that Chris himself was the one who was sent reeling.

He fell backwards and watched in horror as Krauser pulled the combat knife from his shoulder and lunged. Pain erupted in his own shoulder as Krauser stabbed him.
“An eye for an eye Comrade,” he taunted.

“Fuck you pal. I ain’t a comrade of yours,” Chris spat as he charged forwards. Krauser attempted to dodge but Chris was quicker and managed to slam into him full force. The other man tried to reach for his magnum but Chris got there quicker. He grabbed hold of Krauser’s wrist and slammed it against the wall. Krauser dropped the gun and Chris quickly kicked it away. The magnum slid across the tiled floor. Ignoring the searing pain in his shoulder, Chris tried to get the struggling Krauser into an arm lock.

They were an equal match in terms of strength but Chris had pure rage coursing through his veins. He was doing this, not only because Krauser had shoved him into that cell, but also for Leon. He was certainly going to relish striking a blow for his partner. Chris managed to restrain Krauser long enough to dig his boot into the back of his knee. Krauser hissed in pain and collapsed onto his other knee. Chris used this to his advantage and tackled him to the floor. He pressed Krauser face down into the tiled floor and dug his knee into his injured shoulder. He grabbed hold of Krauser’s arm and forced it upwards until he heard the snap.

Somehow, even this failed to slow the other man down. Chris was suddenly flipped backwards onto his own back and, just as swiftly, a heavy combat boot met his ribs. Chris felt all the air leave his lungs but he wasn’t given the time to recover. Krauser was on top of him in an instant, combat knife in hand. He grinned as be brought it closer to Chris’ throat. Chris struggled with all his might and managed to free his left arm long enough to smash the heel of his hand straight upwards into Krauser’s nose.

This temporary distraction bought him just enough time to roll away and grope for the magnum. He heard an enraged cry and suddenly he was being picked up and flung bodily into the corridor wall.

He felt winded as he tried to right himself. He prepared himself for the next onslaught when he realised that Krauser had stopped moving. The older man was clutching his injured shoulder and swaying slightly. Chris watched him carefully hoping that Krauser was about to pass out from the pain as Chris got to his feet.

Much to his horror though, Krauser was grinning. It was a cold, snake-like smile. It was then that Chris noticed that Krauser’s injured shoulder was beginning to pulse. Chris panted heavily, trying to force air back into his lungs. He knew enough about bioterrorism to know that Krauser’s response to pain was anything but human.

Indeed, Krauser’s the wound in Krauser’s shoulder was beginning to split open. A white bone was slowly starting to protrude from it. It was far too big and thick to belong to a human and was covered in blood and torn flesh. It was beginning to vibrate and judder as though something was trying to break free from it.

Chris sure as hell wasn’t going to wait around and find out. He dived for the fallen magnum, executing the perfect roll as he grabbed it and fell into a firing stance. He fired off three shots and grinned as each one landed squarely in Krauser’s chest. This time, the older man dropped to the floor and stayed there unmoving.

Chris quickly got to his feet and slowly moved over to the fallen body. Blood was oozing out of the three gunshot wounds, staining Krauser’s tactical shirt a vivid crimson and pooling onto the tiled floor. Chris aimed and fired a final shot directly in the middle of Krauser’s forehead just to be sure.
“Fuck yeah! That’s how we roll in the BSAA!” He crowed as he heard a ding and the elevator doors slide open.

“Let me guess. Your childhood hero was Arnold Schwartzeneggar” a sarcastic, familiar voice greeted him. Chris spun round to see Leon standing in the elevator. He looked completely unharmed save for some nasty looking stains on his combats.

Chris was so overjoyed to see his partner that he almost pulled him into a hug. He just about managed to stop himself when he realised that, not only would Leon balk severely, it also wouldn’t do his newly injured shoulder any good.
“Look what I managed to get!” He said instead, holding up Krauser’s magnum.

Leon exited the elevator and glanced at Krauser’s prone form for a moment but didn’t pass comment. Chris was pretty sure he saw some kind of emotion flash in the younger man’s eyes but he knew now was not the time to bring it up.
“Is all this blood his?” Leon asked. His tone was cold and clinical as he motioned to the floor and then Chris’ stained tactical shirt.

“He got me in the shoulder, nothing too serious,” Chris replied. He wasn’t sure if it was the shock or the blood loss but he was feeling very strange, almost giddy. He felt as if he could take on a hundred Krausers.

“Can you carry on?” Leon asked. “Not that you have much choice,”

“‘Course I can,” Chris replied adamantly. He would’ve added a casual shrug but he figured that wouldn’t exactly help with the pain.

“Right. We need to go back to the lab. From what I’ve seen it’s the only part of the facility that’s of any use. We’ll take some samples and then we’ll get out of here and let the clean up crew deal with destroying the place,” Leon turned on his heel and marched back into the elevator.

“Wait. If we head down this corridor to the end, there’s a stairwell and the stairs head straight back to the lab,”

“Right.” Leon replied, stepping out of the elevator again. “Let’s go,”

Chris nodded and followed. He knew that Krauser’s sudden reappearance and now death had affected the younger man a lot more that what he was showing. As they stepped over the dead body and started to walk down the corridor, Chris wished that he could think of something comforting to say.

_*_

 

When they arrived back at the lab, there were still no further signs of life. Unfortunately there was also no sign of their equipment either.
“So what samples are we supposed to take?” Chris asked. His shoulder was really beginning to hurt now. He was having fantasies of a large pepperoni pizza and a nice cold beer. “This place doesn’t look like it’s been used that much,”

“We’ll take what we can find,” Leon replied as he made a beeline for the cupboards. “You shouldn’t take an enemy’s weapon by the way,” he added as he bent down and pulled something out of his sock. “It could be booby trapped,”

“Seemed fine when I was using it,” Chris said. Once again he tried to shrug but winced instead. “I doubt that Krauser dude would be smart enough to do something like that anyway,”

“You don’t know Krauser, I do.” Leon replied as he fiddled with the locked cupboard closest to him. Chris couldn’t help but be impressed when he saw the thing that Leon had retrieved was a lockpick. Within seconds the younger man had all of the cupboard doors open.

Chris watched him rummage through them for a few moments. There didn’t appear to be anything of interest. It seemed like it was mostly clean lab equipment. The last cupboard contained a stack of files which Leon pulled down and quickly started rummaging through. There was nothing more boring than watching someone else look through a bunch of paper so Chris wandered back over to the large tank. He stared into the murky depths and gave the glass another quick tap.

“Leave that alone,” Leon snapped. He’d finished with the paperwork and was now pulled down a small laptop. He delved into his other sock and took out a small USB stick. He switched the laptop on and insert the USB.

“I wanna know what’s in there,” Chris said.

“You probably don’t” came Leon’s distracted reply as he tapped away at the keyboard.

Before Chris could respond a tentacle suddenly darted out of the water and wrapped itself straight around his neck. He let out a strangled cry of surprise. Despite how quick it moved, Chris recognised the tentacle as the same ones which had attacked them previously.

“Shit” Leon cursed as he turned around to investigate the weird noise Chris had just made. There was a thick tentacle wrapped around the older man’s neck and a large, pink, bulbous sac was starting to rise up out of the water. There was a large circle of serrated teeth in the centre of it. The creature’s body glistened as though it was coated in some kind of oil or jelly. It reminded Leon of the hideous creature that William Birkin had become.

He looked around frantically for a weapon. He knew that his pen wouldn’t be any good. He grabbed a glass beaker and hurried over to the tank taking care not to slip in the water that was splashing over the sides. Other tentacles shot out towards him but Leon managed to dodge each one. Chris was twisting this way and that in an attempt to break free from the creature’s grip. His movements caused Krauser’s magnum and combat knife to clatter to the floor. Leon quickly ducked low and retrieved both. He jammed the knife into the tentacle around Chris’ neck.

The creature let out a wail of pain and immediately released its grip. Chris fell to the floor, gasping desperately. The creature was almost out of the tank now. It reared at Leon, it’s mouth opening wide. Leon saw his chance and fired a bullet straight into it. The creature started to flail as it screeched in pain. Leon fired again, the time aiming higher up the sac where he assumed its brain to be. His bullet hit its mark and the creature fell backwards into the tank. Filthy water rained down on the both of them.

Leon ran over to Chris who was still on his hands and knees gasping for breath.
“T...thanks…” he choked out.

“I told you not to go near that thing,” Leon scolded although, he noticed, not with as much vitriol as he usually did. Chris looked terrible. Not only was he soaking wet but he now had a red welt around his neck. It looked as though his shoulder was beginning to bleed again. Leon helped him to his feet. “I think there was a first aid kit in one of the cupboards-“

“Excellent, excellent!” A strange voice suddenly echoed around the lab. Leon looked up towards the gantry above the tank as the person started slow clapping. There was a man standing over them. He was dressed entirely in black with a long black trench coat. He was pointing a magnum in their direction. He was tall and slender with slicked back blonde hair and a twisted smile on his face. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. One of his arched eyebrows was raised and he looked faintly amused. “It always was a rather troublesome beast,” he spoke in a clipped tone. “I was having a little trouble working out the teething problems,”he leant further over the railing, his gun still aimed. “I see you’re still trying to foil my plans, Chris.” He turned his attention to Leon. “Drop the weapon,”

“Maybe I won’t need to,” Chris snarled. Leon had never seen the older man look so angry. He dropped the magnum. “If we’re lucky that thing will rise up and stab you through the gut. You can’t say it hasn’t happened with your shitty creations before,”

“Now that’s awfully rude of you Chris,” The man crooned. He was seemingly enjoying the exchange. “You’re not even bothering to introduce me to your little friend here,” he added. He shook his head and tutted as if Chris was a naughty toddler.

“Leon,” Chris said through gritted teeth not taking his eyes off the man above him. “This is Wesker,”

“And you, of course, are Leon Scott Kennedy,” Wesker replied. “One of the academy’s finest I believe. Top of the class in marksmanship. Former legal guardian of Miss Sherry Birken and current Secret Service agent. Survivor of the Raccoon City incident.” He recited smoothly as he strolled along the gantry. He kept his gun trained on Chris as he moved. “I’m afraid that your luck has run out Mr Kennedy,” He continued as he moved to a set of switches. “You may have been the rat that escaped Raccoon City but I have no more use for you,”

“What are you talking about you deranged asshole?” Chris snarled. He was practically vibrating he was so angry. Leon had no idea who this Wesker guy was but he wasn’t stupid. Chris clearly had some history with him.

“Must you always speak before you think Chris?” Wesker tutted. “I’m sure Mr Kennedy will be extremely tired of your constant exclamations. Perhaps if you could contain your steroidal rantings for just a moment I can explain what we’re all doing here. You see, you appear to have something of mine. Something that I need back.” He brushed his gloved hand over the switches but didn’t appear to press any of them. “Imagine my irritation when I was alerted to some of my important files being downloaded. I will, however, take a moment to applaud your intelligence, Mr Kennedy. My security systems aren’t easy to circumvent and yet you managed to do so with relative ease. If it weren’t for your obvious allegiances, I would be interested in having a talent like yours on my side. Be that as it may, I’m afraid I can’t allow you to report such sensitive information to the US Government-”

Anything Wesker continued to say was lost amid the sound of a metal crumpling from behind them. Leon didn’t dare take his eyes of Wesker’s magnum which was still pointed squarely at Chris’ forehead. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Chris doing exactly the same.

“KENNEDY!” came the guttural roar as someone burst into the room. Leon didn’t need to turn around to know that the owner of the voice was Krauser. Chris, not taking his eyes off Wesker, nodded. Leon turned around.

Krauser was standing in the ruined door frame, breathing heavily. Instead of an arm, he now had an organic, spear-like appendage. It was as tall as Krauser himself and covered in large spines. A massive spike protruded from where Krauser’s elbow used to be. The whole thing shone with blood and mucus. What was left of Krauser’s skin was swollen with every single vein and capillary visible. He didn’t appear to care about Chris or Wesker’s presence. His steely eyes were focused on Leon and Leon alone.
“You’re mine Comrade,” He spat.

“Very well,” Leon heard Wesker say. He didn’t dare turn around but he heard a sound as though somehow Wesker had leapt from the gantry and landed on the lab floor. “Jack, you may have your little boy toy. I know how much he means to you. Do with him what you wish but ensure you secure the USB stick. Chris here is going to be my personal project,”

“I’m going to enjoy tearing you apart,” Krauser grinned as he raised his mutated arm above his head. “Now, witness the power!” He dived at Leon with lightning speed. Leon managed to quickly duck and roll but only just. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Chris was currently locked in combat with Wesker. Leon couldn’t, however, allow himself to be distracted. Whatever the hell Krauser had been pumped full of, it was making him an even faster and more deadly opponent. This was the man who had made his life hell. He was going to need to focus if he stood any chance of beating him.

It seemed like Krauser’s speed was wholly constant. His alien arm seemed to make him more powerful but, Leon noticed as he tried his best to dodge the onslaught, there was a short period after each attack in which Krauser slowed down as if he needed to recover. This was going to be his out. He would need to wait to be attacked and then quickly counter during this slower recovery period. The only issue was that he was currently unarmed. The knife had disappeared into the tentacle creature’s tank and the magnum was still on the floor closer to the gantry.

Krauser lunged forward and, this time, Leon was too slow to dodge. With a sweep of his mutant arm, he sent him flying. Leon landed heavily on the tiled floor. His injured side felt as though it was on fire.
“Ha! This is how you like it isn’t it Kennedy?” Krauser taunted as he quickly advanced on him. “On your back for a man?”

He stood over him as Leon fought to get his breath back. Krauser had the speed and strength to take him out with one final blow. The older man appeared to be hesitating slightly, as though he wasn’t sure if he was done playing with his prey. Krauser stood astride him, his mutant arm flexing and glistening in the light.
“I’m going to enjoy seeing your blood splattered across this floor…”

Leon had one, final, ace up his sleeve. Whilst Krauser’s arm was certainly monstrous, he was no William Birkin. The rest of his body still looked the same as it always had. Leon just had to hope that his hunch was correct. He kicked out as hard as he could, aiming directly for Krauser’s crotch. Krauser let out a surprised cry of pain and reeled back. Leon leapt to his feet and quickly grabbed for the holster that the older man was wearing on his thigh. The weight of Krauser falling backwards meant that the holster tore away with ease. Leon grabbed the handgun it contained and fired. The bullet hit Krauser’s mutated elbow.

“Pathetic…” Krauser’s grin was back in place. He’d seemingly recovered from Leon’s kick and the shot. A series of sharp spines unfurled from the bullet’s entry hole. They quickly fanned out and hardened, creating a shield-like membrane. “You’re mine Kennedy and you’re going to pay for what you did. I’m going to make sure you burn in hell,” He stalked around Leon, circling him like a wolf circling its prey. Leon fired at him but it was no use. The membrane deflected the shot. It would be far too dangerous to continue firing, especially considering that Chris was somewhere in the vicinity. He was doing his best to tune out the sounds that were coming from his and Wesker’s battle.

Leon needed a new plan and fast. His eyes immediately went to the massive water tank behind Krauser. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see something stirring within its depths. It looked as though, like Krauser, the tentacle creature was far from being dead. It was going to be his best bet. Krauser’s presence had obviously caused it to wake up and, just like when Chris had tapped on the tank, it would soon be rising up to feast on human flesh. All Leon needed to do was keep Krauser talking long enough.

“This is all a bit excessive considering you don’t like the fact I’m gay,” He said, aiming the gun again. He needed to make Krauser think that he was biding his time for the perfect opportunity to attack again.

“I was surprised to see you here,” Krauser replied, flexing his arm. “Figured they’d put you behind a desk. This is a man’s job.”

Behind him, the creature was continuing to stir. Leon could make out its various tentacles stretching and undulating in the depths. He just needed a little bit longer.

“That’s rich coming from someone with a bloody mess of an arm,” He shot back.

“You and I both know why the Government took that little girl away from you,” Krauser taunted. Leon didn’t have to try to flash the hurt look he knew that Krauser would be expecting. He hated talking about Sherry. Krauser grinned triumphantly. “They didn’t want to leave a child in the hands of a filthy, corrupted-”

The remainder of Krauser’s insult was cut off as a tentacle burst free from the water and wrapped itself around his neck. He tried to fight it off, desperately trying to twist in its grip to free himself. He was quickly subdued by more tentacles winding across his broad chest and around his limbs. He violently lashed out with his mutated arm but the attack was quickly quelled with two more tentacles which crushed it. Krauser’s eyes widened with fear as he was lifted from the floor. The monster was slowly dragging him up and backwards towards the tank. The tentacles squeezed harder and harder, turning Krauser’s skin bright red.

“Leon...help...me…” Krauser wheezed desperately as he was dragged into the tank. Leon watched as Krauser struggled for a few moments before sinking down into the murky depths. Seconds later, a large fountain of blood erupted from the tank. Leon continued to watch as the blood rained down and the water settled back into opaque calmness.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

Leon didn’t have the time to think about Krauser’s death. There was still the issue of Wesker to deal with. Chris was doing his best to land as many punches as he could but Wesker seemed to be able to move at superhuman speed. He watched in horror as he grabbed Chris around the throat and slammed him into the lab wall. He held him there and tightened his grip. Chris kicked out but Wesker simply laughed. Leon aimed and fired, hitting the laughing man in his outstretched arm. Wesker snarled and dropped Chris who landed in a heap on the floor.

“Pesky rat,” Wesker growled as his attention turned back to Leon. He showed no signs of pain from the slowly bleeding bullet wound on his bicep. “Krauser was supposed to finish you off,” His other arm suddenly struck out, hitting Chris directly in the jaw as the older man used the distraction to try and sneak up on him from behind. Chris fell back to the floor, spitting a mouthful of blood at Wesker as he did so.

Moving like lightning, Wesker wheeled around and kicked Chris hard in the ribs. Chris made a horrible winded noise and collapsed unconscious onto the tiles. Wesker wiped his face, smearing Chris’ blood across his cheek.
“Damn you both,” He cursed, withdrawing his magnum from its holster. Now that Leon could see it properly, it didn’t look like any gun he’d seen before. It must’ve been a custom piece. He aimed it at Chris’ prone form. “I tire of these pathetic parlour games. Drop your weapon, Kennedy, before I put a neat little hole in your friend’s head,”

Leon was forced to comply. He slowly and carefully placed the stolen gun on the floor. Wesker smirked triumphantly. Leon could see Chris start to move, obviously coming back to the land of the living. He moaned audibly.
“Chris, you are a disappointment as always,” Wesker continued smoothly. “Perhaps one of these days you’ll prove to be a worthy adversary,” He pulled a small remote out of the pocket of his jacket. “I’m giving you both ten minutes to escape this facility. A sporting chance I think you’ll agree. As for your friend here,” He quickly turned the gun back to Leon. “He won’t be so lucky,”

Chris fought back the wave of nausea that threatened to overtake him as he slowly came round from Wesker’s last attack. His head felt fuzzy and his right shoulder and ribs were killing him. He could barely focus on anything that Wesker was saying. He watched in horror as his former colleague fired two shots into Leon. The younger man crumpled to the floor with a cry of pain. He watched through bleary eyes as Wesker leapt into the air. He heard the sound of boots coming into contact with the metal gantry and then clattering as the swiftly ran away.

With great difficulty, Chris hauled his beaten and abused body back to his feet. Hadn’t Wesker said something about ten minutes? He moved as quickly as he could over to Leon who was still laying on the floor. There was a steady stream of blood oozing from his left thigh and he was curled in on himself clutching his stomach.
“My stomach…” He gasped out when Chris approached him.

“I know, I know,” Chris replied, shaking his head and managing to clear it at last. He’d been through all the shit with the mansion incident, Antarctica and the BSAA. He wasn’t about to lose his shit now. “We need to get out of here, I think he said the place was going to blow in ten minutes,”

“Yeah…” Leon said weakly. He hissed in pain as he tried his best to pull himself into a sitting position. He fumbled in one of the small pockets of his combats and pulled out what looked like a sleek PDA. He quickly tapped out a message before putting it away. “Sent an emergency...distress...signal,”

Chris looked around for a possible escape route. The quickest way out would be through the twisted remains of the large door. That would lead them back to the corridor with the ladder.
“Can you move?” He asked, trying to pull Leon to his feet as gently as he could. His own injuries screamed at him but he had to push through the pain. As far as he could tell, he wasn’t bleeding and was in nowhere near as bad a shape as Leon.
“I’m gonna faint…” Leon mumbled as his legs began to shake.

“Don’t,” Chris ordered. “I know it sucks and you’re gonna wanna but try not to,” He started to pull Leon towards the large door.

“You...try...being...shot,” Leon gasped out. Chris was pretty much dragging him by this point.

“Maybe later,” Chris replied distractedly as he pulled Leon over the twisted remains of the door. “Now come the fuck on, we need to get outta here. You can do it!”

They moved as quickly as they could down the corridor. Chris knew that Leon wouldn’t be up to climbing the ladder but he figured he’d work that out when they got there. There was no flashing lights or calm female voices telling them how much time they had left but Chris knew that Wesker’s threat wasn’t an idle one.

“Chris…” Leon moaned weakly. Chris managed to catch the younger man as he sank into unconsciousness. He hauled Leon bodily into his arms. His right shoulder felt like it was fire and the pain from his ribs almost sent him reeling but he continued grimly. Much as he had done during the mansion incident, he muttered Queen songs in his head and he moved closer and closer to the ladder. His right eye was beginning to swell and obscure his vision. He picked up the pace as much as he could. The ladder had never felt so far away.

 

_*_

 

Chris opened his eyes. His mouth felt dry and his head was pounding. He felt as though he’d been asleep for decades. His eyes wanted to slide closed again but he forced himself to keep them open. He was staring up at a strange white ceiling with a strip light. He tried to sit up but was hit with a wave of dizziness. He was obviously in bed but he could tell it wasn’t his bed back at Leon’s house. It felt smaller and smelled strangely sterile. His right arm was bundled up in a sling and he could feel a dressing covering his right shoulder. Bandages had been wrapped around his ribcage and, judging by how stiff his face felt, he’d been given some stitches on his eyebrow.

Suddenly it all came back to him. The facility. Wesker. Leon bleeding from his injuries. He remembed the younger man fainting. He recalled a long ladder and how he’d met two strangers in Hazmat suits at the bottom of it. He’d tried to fight them off but they’d explained they were Leon’s emergency evacuation team. He remembered letting go of Leon and watching him being hauled up the ladder using a harness. He’d insisted he could climb himself. He remembered feeling incredibly sleepy once he’d gotten back to surface…

He looked around and noticed that he was in a small side room. His blood ran cold. Was it because he’d been the only one to survive? Leon’s injuries had been dire and he’d lost a lot of blood. Chris needed to find out and he needed to do so now. He tried to sit up again. He was still feeling pretty dizzy but at least the room wasn’t spinning this time. He gingerly pushed back the sheets and swung himself around until his feet made contact with the cold tiled floor. He fought the urge to gag at the overpowering smell of disinfectant. He’d always hated hospitals.

He gave himself a minute or two to recover before he hauled himself to his feet. He moved towards the door on slightly uneasy legs. He wondered just how long he’d been out. There was light spilling through the closed blinds at the window so it was clearly daytime. He figured that a day had passed at the most. He knew enough about hospitals to know that, if he’d been in a coma, he would’ve woken up in critical care.

He crept out of the room. No medical staff ran at him, insisting that he get back in bed so he took this as a good sign. He moved down the corridor and noticed that all the signs were in Spanish which made it hard to tell where he was going. The dressing on his shoulder was itchy as hell and the sling was downright annoying. He was wearing a thin hospital gown that rustled as he walked. Judging by the airy feeling at his back, it was one of those ones that showed your ass. Chris didn’t overly care. He had a great ass.

Chris wondered if it was possible to find Leon through sheer determination. It seemed like this particular hospital was huge. He was hoping that he wouldn’t be forced back into his room before he could find the younger man. As he made his way past each room he took the time to check the name of the patient on the clipboard hanging outside of it. None of them so far had been Leon. He began to feel sick again. What if Leon wasn’t in any of these rooms? What if he was actually down in the morgue? Chris shuddered and tried to expel that thought from his head. Leon was tough. There was no way he could be dead.

Finally, after a trip in an elevator where he’d gotten some pretty strange looks from people who were obviously visitors, he found his answer. There was a small lobby area with a desk and a sign above it that said ‘Cuidado Critico’. He didn’t know what the hell the first word meant but it was a pretty safe bet that the second meant critical. He stepped out into the lobby just as the double doors opposite him opened. Relief washed over him when he realised the person coming out of them was Dennis. He looked a lot more casual than Chris had ever seen him but it was definitely Dennis. He resisted the urge to throw his arms around the older man.
“Chris?” Dennis seemed taken aback. “You’re not supposed to be here,”

“I’m looking for Leon,” Chris replied.

Dennis regarded him for a moment before sighing heavily.
“He’s through here,” He said. “You can see him for a moment but then I insist you return to your own room,” He motioned for Chris to follow him through the doors.

Chris was led into a small ward. There were four bays and each one had some poor soul lying in a bed attached to all kinds of machinery. Dennis showed him to the last bay in the far corner and Chris let out a small gasp.

Leon was laying there. He was laid out on his back and the crisp white sheets were pulled up to just below his pecs. He was also hooked up to various alien-looking machines that were making a symphony of beeps and hisses. There was a set of electrodes on his chest. Next to the bed was an IV stand with four different bags of liquid which were being pumped into the younger man through a cannula on the back of his left hand. The worst part of the whole setup was the tube that was going down Leon’s throat. It meant that he was alive but only just. A machine was breathing for him. Chris noticed a chair next to the bed. He sat down, wincing slightly as his bare behind came into contact with the cold plastic.

“What did they say?” He asked quietly. He’d been in this situation before. His mind was taunting him with images of his parents laying in this very state. They’d been put side by side and he’d sat between them willing them and, later on, downright begging them to stay alive. It hadn’t worked.

“The doctors aren’t telling me much, unfortunately,” Dennis replied. He stood over Leon at the end of the bed, his arms crossed. “I keep hearing the same old platitudes. It’s too early to tell. The next 48 hours will be critical. He’s undergone surgery to remove the bullet from his abdomen as well as his leg. They did inform me it was touch and go regarding whether or not he would need an amputation but, thankfully, that threat seems to have passed. I’ve done everything I can to get further information but nobody has been forthcoming despite my lie that I’m family,”

Chris nodded. Dennis looked utterly exhausted. It was obvious that the older man cared deeply about Leon. He looked back at the younger man, watching the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Much to his horror, he felt tears welling in his eyes. He quickly dashed them away. He’d give anything for Leon to suddenly sit up and fire off some acidic comment or some sarcastic response that he’d never be so unprofessional as to be comatose.
“How long have we both been here,”?

“You were brought in yesterday by the extraction team,” Dennis replied quietly. Chris nodded. Dennis approached him and gave his uninjured shoulder a gentle squeeze. “You should rest,” He suggested.

“Yeah,” Chris answered blankly. He couldn’t take his eyes off Leon.

 

_*_

 

Chris managed to stay in his hospital bed for another twenty-four hours before he’d finally had enough. The bed was uncomfortable, the food was the pits and all the channels on his tv were in Spanish. He needed a cheeseburger and a decent bed. He hauled himself out of bed and released his arm from the sling. He stretched it out a little tentatively and, apart from a dull ache, it didn’t seem too bad. They must’ve had him on some pretty awesome painkillers.

He found some clothes stowed away in the little cupboard beside his bed. He assumed that Dennis had brought them by on his way to see Leon. He dressed quickly and slipped out of the room grateful for the absence of any medical staff. The last thing he needed was somebody trying to stop him. He knew that he should go and check in on Leon but he didn’t want anyone spotting his lack of sling and his outdoor clothes. He’d discharged himself a couple of times when he’d been hospitalized in the US but he wasn’t sure if it worked the same way in Europe.

He found the hospital’s exit quickly enough and found a taxi even quicker. There was a bit of a language barrier but, using the little Spanish he’d picked up from Leon and some dodgy charades, the taxi driver seemed to understand and sped off in the direction of Leon’s house. It was only when Chris was halfway there that he suddenly realised he didn’t have his wallet. He quickly fumbled in the pocket of his jeans and, much to his relief, found his wallet there. Dennis was a smart guy indeed. He’d also been given what was presumably a spare key to Leon’s house.

When he arrived and let himself in, Chris felt a wave of guilt wash over him. He really should’ve gone to see Leon. The last he’d heard about the younger man’s condition was that it was stable but he was still unconscious. As he strolled around the empty lounge and kitchen, he realised how much he was missing his partner. They hadn’t always seen eye to eye but it was definitely weird being in Leon’s house knowing that the younger man hadn’t just gone to the store or the office and would be back soon.

Chris shook his head. He didn’t want to start thinking like that again. Leon’s hospital stay was horribly similar to his parent’s hospital stay. The smell of the ward alone had brought back those unpleasant memories. He needed a distraction and he needed one now. He decided that the best thing he could do right now was to be as helpful as he could. He wasn’t sure if Dennis had already taken Leon some belongings but Chris decided whatever, Leon could probably do with some more home comforts.

He hurried up the stairs and opened the door to Leon’s room. He wasn’t sure where the younger man kept his sleep clothes but he figured the bedside drawers were a good place to start. The room was, of course, spotlessly clean and had the same air of sterility that the rest of the house had. Leon obviously wasn’t one for interior decorating. Chris’ apartment back in the US bore the signs of its owner. His video game collection adorned one wall and he’d put up lots of posters of his favourite action movies. Jill had hated the overly masculine decor but, to Chris, it was home.

He could garner nothing from Leon’s personal space. The cream carpet was plain, the white walls were bare and there were no trinkets on top of the bedside drawers. Chris knelt down and opened the top drawer. It was full of skin and hair care products all lined up neatly. He had a quick rummage through them, they all looked pretty expensive and there were lots of labels declaring bougie things like ‘all natural’ and ‘essential oils’ and a whole load of ingredients that Chris had never heard of. He picked up a tub of wax at random and tossed it onto the bed. He figured Leon would want something like that when he woke up. Because, of course, he was going to wake up.

The second drawer revealed what he was looking for. Clothes. There wasn’t very many of them and most of them were either black or a dark navy. There were a lot of tight-fitting tactical shirts. Chris delved deeper into the drawer hoping to find some sleep shorts and a comfy t-shirt. Instead, right at the bottom, he found something entirely different.

He blinked in shock as he stared down at Leon’s RPD uniform. He picked it up and held it aloft just to make sure it was really real. Seeing the white RPD letters emblazoned across the chest took him back to the RPD building. He was assaulted with memories of his training and his promotion to S.T.A.R.S. Even now, he could clearly see the old S.T.A.R.S office in his mind’s eye. He remembered his cluttered desk right next to Jill’s. How he’d kept his guitar there for when he was really bored on night shifts. He remembered Barry with his immaculate desk and gun magazines. The pranks he used to play on Brad. The jokes he’d share with Forest. Rebecca and her neat desk that she’d been so proud of. He blinked and stared at the uniform. It had been cleaned but there were still slight shadows from bloodstains. There was also a hole near the right armpit. Chris remembered the report from Leon’s file that stated he’d been shot.

Why the hell had Leon chosen to keep it? He, Chris, had destroyed his own uniform as soon as he’d had the chance. He remembered staying over at Barry’s cabin up in Canada. He’d gone out to the vast backyard and burned it in the fire pit. He’d stared at the burning gobs of material and felt as though he was trying to burn the memories along with it. It hadn’t worked of course.

Chris scrunched up the uniform and quickly pushed it back into the drawer. As he did so, he felt his hand brush against something cold and hard. He pulled the mysterious object out. It was a small silver photo frame. Inside it was a picture of a little blonde girl. She was probably no older than twelve or so. She was grinning widely and pointing to a sign advertising mini golf. Leaning casually against this sign, one arm draped over her shoulder, was Leon. He looked younger than he did now and was dressed casually in jeans and a red t-shirt. He was smiling just as widely at the camera. He looked really happy and relaxed. Like a totally different person. Chris wondered if that side to the younger man was still in there somewhere or if it had been cruelly stripped away by circumstance.

He put the photo back into the drawer and closed it slowly. He didn’t want to look any more. The uniform and the photo exposed Leon too painfully. It was different from the file. Reading words on paper was one thing but seeing Leon so happy just felt weird. It was as if his partner was standing naked before him. Chris grabbed the tub of hair wax and quickly left the room, taking care to close the door behind him. He decided he’d either shove some of his own clothes into a bag for Leon or he’d grab whatever had been left in the dryer.

A sudden loud trill caused him to almost fall down the stairs. The phone in the hallway was ringing. Chris had a sinking feeling that he knew who would be on the other end. He gulped and answered it.

“Ah, Mr Redfield, I knew I wasn’t wrong in assuming where you were,” Dennis said in a very clipped tone. Chris winced. “I hope you realise that the staff at the hospital are very displeased with you right now,” he continued. “They inform me that you’ve been officially discharged against medical advice,”

“Yeah, I figured,” Chris replied sheepishly. He’d left AMA a couple of times before and knew what it entailed. Still, anywhere was better than the hospital. Not that he was about to tell Dennis that.

“I’m leaving for the office now and I expect to see you there in half an hour,” Dennis said. Chris felt pretty exhausted. All he wanted to do was take some painkillers and maybe spend some time in the hot tub. However, there was something about Dennis’ tone that made him not want to argue. “I also have some good news for you. Leon regained consciousness about an hour ago. The doctors are very confident about his condition. He’s expected to make a full recovery after some light physiotherapy,”

“Fuckin’ sweet!” Chris crowed. He sank against the wall in relief. “I didn’t doubt the guy for a second!”

“Indeed,” Dennis replied smoothly. “I shall see you shortly,”

Chris grinned as he put the receiver back into its cradle. He felt as if a massive weight had just been lifted off his shoulders. Leon was going to be alright! Whatever this stupid meeting with Dennis was, he was sure he could handle it.

 

_*_

 

Leon stared at the strip light that was hanging from the ceiling. After what felt like hours, he had finally been left alone. As soon as he’d opened his eyes he was descended on by a flurry of medical staff. They’d prodded and poked and assessed and then, eventually, they’d removed the tube from his throat. It had been an extremely unpleasant experience.

Once they were certain he would be ok, they’d left him alone advising him to rest and reassuring him that someone would be arriving shortly to discuss further treatment for his injured leg. His throat was sore from the tube, his head pounding and there were dull aches from his wounds.

It had taken him a while to remember exactly what had happened. Once the floodgates of his memory opened it had all come back to him. Especially, much to his horror, Krauser. During the mission, it had been easy to put the older man’s shocking return to the back of his mind. Now that he was alone, with only his thoughts to occupy him, he had to face his feelings.

The worst part of Krauser coming back into his life was finding out that he’d clearly allowed himself to be infected with a virus. During Operation Javier Krauser had been determined to stamp out the Veronica virus and had, more than once, expressed his disgust with the people who were willing to play God by infecting themselves. Leon wondered if his sudden turnaround had anything to do with his injury. Leon had never spoken about it but he still harboured a large amount of guilt over Krauser’s injury. If he hadn’t have revealed his sexuality Krauser wouldn’t have been distracted and it would never have happened. He’d been so naive to trust someone…

“Good morning sunshine!” An all too familiar voice exclaimed. Leon turned his head and saw Chris standing by the bed. He held up a paper bag with a massive grin. “Got you some grapes!” He added triumphantly.

“Thank you,” Leon replied before he could really think about what he was saying. He hoped Chris would realise that it was more than just the grapes. Who would’ve thought that the oaf would’ve come through in a crisis?

“They were half price cos they were a bit squashed,” Chris continued as he took a seat next to the bed. He immediately opened the bag and helped himself. Leon rolled his eyes but couldn’t help but feel a little fond. He was actually feeling pretty pleased to see the older man. Not that he would ever admit it.

“How’s your shoulder?”

“Meh, it’s fine,” Chris said casually as he continued to devour the grapes. “I’m actually meant to be seeing Dennis but I figured he wouldn’t be too pissed if I called in to see you first. I wanted to fill you in on what you missed. Y’know, my amazing story of how I single-handedly rescued you from a burning lab in the middle of nowhere?”

“I don’t recall a fire,” Leon replied with a frown. He was pretty sure that, despite his injuries, he had a pretty good recollection of the mission.

“Well,” Chris hedged. “Ok, maybe it wasn’t like a towering inferno or anything but it was still a sweet ass rescue!” He put down the grapes and helped himself to a glass of water from the jug on Leon’s bedside cabinet. He drained the glass in one, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and leaned forward to continue. “So, Wesker’s running for his life, right? I’m in the middle of the lab. You’re bleeding out on the floor-“

“I was conscious at that point,” Leon interrupted. “And Wesker wasn’t scared”

“Oh he was scared,” Chris said adamantly with a nod. “I could only see him from the back at that point but lemme tell ya, his back looked scared. Anyway! There I am!” Chris started to gesticulate with his hands. “I’m practically performing field surgery when this alarm starts to go off right? It starts yelling that we’ve got ten minutes to get out or the place’ll blow! So what do I do? Well, I fling you over my shoulder and high tail it outta the lab. There’s a million zombies in the corridor and Wesker could be around the next corner-” Chris cut off his dramatic retelling when he saw Leon wince and his face twist with pain. There was a strange sound coming out of his mouth. Was Leon actually laughing?

“Stop...stop it…” Leon was hunched over. “It...hurts to...laugh,”

“Sorry, sorry!” Chris replied sheepishly. It was weird to hear the younger man finally laugh. It was oddly foreign sounding but not unpleasant. Chris hoped that he’d be hearing it a lot more in the future. All in all, Chris was feeling in a pretty great mood. Leon was going to be alright and he’d made him laugh. Chris knew he was going to have to deal with his feelings about Wesker’s return sooner rather than later but, he mentally shrugged, that was definitely a problem for Later Chris to deal with. “Hey, I’ve gotta bounce actually,” He continued, looking at the clock on the wall. “I’m kinda late for a meeting with Dennis,”

“Probably a debrief,” Leon replied. He yawned. “I’m pretty tired anyway,” He added as his eyes started to close.

Chris carefully got up and tip-toed away from the bed.

 

_*_

 

“Ah Mr Redfield! Nice of you to join me,” Dennis said in a steely tone as Chris sat down in his office. He’d had gotten there as quickly as he could but the visit to Leon had meant he was already late before he’d even started.

“Sorry Dennis,” Chris replied, “I, uh, called in on Leon on the way over here,” His stomach rumbled audibly and it suddenly occurred to him that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten aside from the few grapes. His eyes darted around the room and settled on Dennis’ desk where there was a small tea set laid out. As well as the usual cups and saucers there was also a large bowl filled with sugar cubes. Chris wondered if Dennis would mind if he grabbed a couple to crunch on.

“I see,” Dennis’ tone softened somewhat but Chris didn’t want to chance the sugar thing. If Dennis had heard his stomach’s loud complaints he had the good grace not to mention it. “Well it’s going to be a relatively quick meeting I’m afraid,” He continued. He tapped away at a few keys on his keyboard and glanced at the screen for a few seconds. “On behalf of the United States Government, I’d like to thank you for your service. You’ve shown outstanding bravery and commitment and it was those skills which saved the life of one of our own,” He said each word carefully and, although Chris hadn’t known him long, he could tell that Dennis was just reciting off a script. “It’s time that you were released from your duties so that you may return to the US to start your recuperation,”

“Oh,” Chris replied. He hadn’t been expecting that. “Well shit.” He added after a moment or two. He’d actually kind of forgotten that he wasn’t in the US. He’d gotten pretty used to the swing of things and, of course, Leon. He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. He didn’t exactly know why but he was feeling like he didn’t want to leave. “I, uh, actually wanna stay here,”

“I certainly have no problem with that,” Dennis said with a hint of a smile. “But unfortunately, when it comes to my superiors, it’s not a case of what you want. They believe you’ve provided the service they paid for and, for want of a better way of saying this, you’re now surplus to requirements. You’re very welcome to stay in the country if you desire but they have impressed upon me that they’re no longer willing to subsidize your living allowances,”

“Wait, what?” Chris was confused. Living allowance? Since when did he have one of those? Nobody had mentioned anything about a living allowance. Barry had told him the pay would be good but surely that was after completion of the job? “I have a living allowance? Like money? Actual cash money?”

“Yes,” Dennis nodded. It was obvious that he was trying to maintain his professional demeanour and keep a straight face. “The Government has been providing you with a stipend for the duration of your time here,”

“Well shit,” Chris repeated. “And it’s like, in my bank account right now? You can’t take it away or anything?”

“That’s correct,” Dennis confirmed.

“Fuckin’ A!” Chris crowed. He grinned from ear to ear. He was going to have one hell of a takeout tonight!

“I do feel the need to point out that my superiors will only pay for your flight back to the US if you leave tomorrow morning,” Dennis continued, sounding almost apologetic. He clearly didn’t agree with his ‘superiors’, whoever they were.

“That’s fine,” Chris replied with a shrug. He couldn’t leave right now. That he was sure of. He’d deal with the boring stuff like his flight home when he needed to.

“Well I, for one, I’m pleased that you’re staying here for the time being,” Dennis smiled at him properly this time. “I think it would do Leon the world of good to have someone at home to support him throughout his recovery. One final thing that I need to make sure you’re aware of is that, as of tomorrow, you are no longer employed by the United States Government. That means you will no longer have access to this building or any of our facilities.”

“Hey that’s fine by me,” Chris said with a grin. “I’ve seen enough crazy shit in the last two days to last me for a while and, no offence, but this place is pretty grim!”

“Indeed,” Dennis leant forward and poured himself a cup of tea. He offered Chris a cup but he shook his head. “I believe that ties everything up in an official capacity. However, before you leave, I’d like to speak with you candidly if I may,”

“I’m not totally sure what that means but go ahead,” He struggled to keep his eyes off the sugar cubes. They were mightily tempting and he really was starving by this point.

“I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for Leon,” Dennis said warmly. He took a sip from his china teacup. “Since you’ve been spending time with him I’ve noticed a change in his demeanour and I can assure you that it’s been a positive one. I don’t entirely know how you’ve managed to bring Leon out of his shell but I firmly believe your continued presence here will be nothing but an asset in his life,” He paused for a moment. “Despite what Leon himself might think,” He added with a smirk.

“Gee,” Chris could feel himself beginning to blush. He was never all that great at dealing with praise. “Thanks. I, uh, don’t really know what to say. I always seem to annoy the guy but I don’t mind hanging around for a while longer,”

It was a very confusing time. Chris still wasn’t sure why he felt the need to stay. It wasn’t like he was going to get paid and he knew that Jill and Claire would be worried. He’d also need to talk one of them into visiting his apartment to make sure that his two goldfish, Maverick and Goose, were fed and cleaned out. He’d also have to pay for his own flight home which meant there’d be none of the creature comforts he’d received on his original flight unless he was willing to fork out for a more expensive ticket.

Leon wasn’t family and he certainly wasn’t even a close friend but there was something that was telling Chris he needed to stay. He just couldn’t work out what. As he thanked Dennis and left his office for a final time, he decided to put it all to the back of his mind.

His new objective, he decided, was finding himself the biggest cheeseburger Spain had to offer.

 

END OF CHAPTER SIX

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

Two weeks later and Chris hadn’t really had that much to do during his downtime. He’d initially spent a lot of time on the phone to Barry who’d congratulated him on securing the funding. The older man had explained exactly how the funds were going to be used and had spent almost an hour talking in buzz words that Chris didn’t really understand. Still, he’d done his job and, in theory, he could enjoy his leisure time.

He’d spoken to Claire a few times and she’d promised that her husband would take care of his fish. Chris was pretty pleased about that. Kevin Ryman was a good dude. Another Raccoon City survivor whom he’d always gotten along with ever since Claire had announced the two were dating. Claire herself had been pretty annoying and asked hundreds of questions about Leon. When Chris mentioned that he wasn’t sure why he was staying she’d laughed and, with a know-it-all tone, had told Chris that he would ‘figure it out eventually’.

Finally, he’d called Jill. She was pleased that the mission was done and she too had been annoyingly obtuse when he’d talked about Leon. At that point, Chris figured he should probably stop making so many international phone calls. Leon probably wouldn’t be best pleased when the time came to pay the phone bill.

As well as laying about the house and making use of the hot tub, Chris had visited Leon in the hospital almost every day. He’d learnt how to wrangle Leon’s high-tech washing machine and had brought the younger man clean clothes. He’d also been able to sneak in some decent snacks since he knew that hospital food was the pits. Leon seemed to appreciate these visits and, for the most part, he’d seemed like a new man. He was actually chatty and had been telling Chris about the intensive physiotherapy he’d been receiving and how the nurses were driving him crazy.

Occasionally though, Leon would be moody and uncommunicative. He’d lay back on his pillows and stare at the wall until Chris, finally bored of his silence, would excuse himself. Once or twice he’d tried to push and get to the bottom of it but the snappy, angry Leon had returned. Chris knew that Krauser’s reappearance was affecting the younger man more than he was letting on but there was no way in hell Leon would openly admit it. Chris himself was trying his best to make sense of Wesker’s latest scheme but at least he’d had experience of the evil bastard coming back from the dead. Chris decided the best thing to do would be to wait until Leon was discharged to see if he would be more open to talking in a familiar setting.

As it happened, Chris didn’t have long to wait. A day later he received a call from Dennis who passed along the good news that Leon was getting discharged in the morning.

 

_*_

 

“You really didn’t have to do this,” Leon muttered as Dennis stopped the car. When he’d told the older man he was being discharged from hospital, Dennis had insisted on picking him up and driving him home. Leon was just glad to be free from the doctors and nurses and his annoying physiotherapist. He still had a few outpatient appointments to attend but at least now he could walk somewhat comfortably with crutches.

“Of course not,” Dennis replied with a smile. “But you knew I would do it all the same. Would you like me to assist you to the door?”

“No need,” Leon said with a heavy sigh. Just as Dennis offered, the front door was yanked open and Chris bounded down the small path. He was grinning his stupid, goofy grin. Leon rolled his eyes.

“Welcome home!” Chris crowed when he reached the car. He opened the passenger side door and offered Leon his arm.

“Don’t,” Leon replied through gritted teeth. He was determined that he wouldn’t need any help from the stupid oaf. Sure it had been good to see him during those long endless days at the hospital but having him around 24/7 again was going to be a bit much. Especially if he continued to press the Krauser issue.

Leon had had enough of that at the hospital. As soon as they’d seen the medical records they’d insisted upon him seeing a psychiatrist. While the nature of his work had been kept under wraps by the Government, his PTSD hadn’t been. He’d been shut up in a cramped office for over an hour while some guy with glasses and a bad haircut encouraged him to talk. He’d spent the entire time in resolute silence and point-blank refused to return.

With a little difficulty, he hauled himself out of the car and took the crutches that Chris seemed to produce from nowhere. He’d thanked Dennis again and made his way up the small path and inside the house. Chris seemed to hover behind him obviously waiting to catch him if he stumbled or fell. As soon as Leon got through the door he could smell burning. He limped off towards the kitchen which looked as though a bomb had hit it. Almost every surface was covered with dirty dishes.
“What are you burning this time?” He asked wearily. He wasn’t used to being on his feet after two weeks in bed and was beginning to feel a little woozy.

“It’s ok, it’s not that burnt!” Chris replied, racing over to the pan that was on the stove. He surveyed the contents and nodded to himself. “Yeah, it’s fine. It’s an old Redfield family recipe actually. Pancakes!” He added triumphantly.

“I’m not hungry,” Leon said as he eased himself into a chair. He felt like he was going to collapse. He rummaged in the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out the white paper bag containing the painkillers the hospital had given him.

“I figured you’d need something decent after all that hospital junk,” Chris explained as he created a healthy stack of pancakes on a plate. He doused them liberally with maple syrup and added a couple of rashers of bacon as the finishing touch. “Besides,” He continued as he put the plate in front of Leon with a flourish, “I bet you can’t take those things on an empty stomach,”

“Fine,” Leon muttered, taking the proffered fork. He loaded it with a small mouthful of pancake and took a bite. Despite a very slight burnt taste, they were actually pretty good. Chris joined him at the table a few seconds later with a plate that was piled even higher. He dug in immediately, practically vacuuming up the entire plate.

“So,” He asked through a mouthful of pancake and bacon. “How are you feeling?”

“I need to see what’s on the USB we retrieved,” Leon replied. He really wasn’t up for cross-examination on his feelings right now. While the in-house psychiatrist had admitted defeat, the hospital had arranged for him to see someone on an outpatient basis. Leon hadn’t mentioned this to Dennis and he sure as hell wasn’t going to mention it to Chris. The paper with his appointment schedule was crumpled up in the pocket of his sweats.

“Wesker took it, remember?” Chris asked, pausing in his noisy demolition of the pancakes to shoot Leon a concerned look.

“Of course I remember,” Leon snapped. “I copied the data onto two separate sticks,” He sighed irritably. “Always have a backup or don’t you know something as basic as that? One of the nurses said that she’d given my dirty clothes to a friend. The spare stick should still be in the pocket of my combats,”

“Yeah, I have ‘em,” Chris replied. He thought about the ever-growing dirty laundry pile in the laundry room. “Sit tight and I’ll go grab it for you,” He stood up and paused for a moment, he grinned goofily. “Did you mean it?”

“What?” Leon asked with another sigh.

“That I’m your friend,”

“If I say yes will that get me the USB any faster?”

“You got it, pal!” Chris exclaimed, taking great care to pop the P. Leon rolled his eyes as he watched the older man hurry off to the laundry room.

He came back a few moments later, brandishing the USB with glee. He passed it to Leon and disappeared into the lounge before returning with his laptop. Leon nodded his thanks and turned his attention to the screen as he booted it up. Chris flopped back down in his seat and continued to gorge himself on the pancakes.

Leon just about managed to tune out the eating noises which were, in his opinion, akin to those of a pig. He inserted the USB and started to click through the files. He was surprised that there didn’t appear to be any form of encryption. All the information was right there at his fingertips. He viewed it with suspicion. The USB could easily contain something hidden like a keylogger or a trojan. Luckily his laptop was a burner that he wiped regularly.

“So,” Chris’ sudden voice made him jump. “Find out what Wesker was planning?” His tone was dark again. His features set into the same expression that Leon had seen back at the facility when Wesker appeared. It unnerved Leon slightly. He could tell that Chris was trying his best to be flippant but he was failing miserably. It was a feeling that, try as he might ignore, Leon could completely identify with.

“Well it doesn’t make pleasant reading,” Leon replied staring at the screen. “He’s collecting various viral samples. I don’t know about you but they’re the ones that are familiar to me. It specifically mentions the T-Virus, G-Virus and the Veronica Virus,”

“Yeah,” Chris nodded. “I know them,” he added darkly.

“The facility was one of his personal research labs,” Leon continued. “It was run by a skeleton staff of about twenty-five. He’s been collecting the viruses to try and achieve symbiosis,”

“What’s that when it’s at home and eating oatmeal?” Chris demanded. He looked tense and was obviously trying to lighten the mood.

“It means he’s been trying to combine all three viruses. He wants to perfect a new strain of super virus, taking the best components from each one to work alongside each other,” Leon explained. There was a horrible, sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. It reminded him of that terrible night in Raccoon. He couldn’t imagine a hell worse than that and yet, according to the files, it was on its way. “He’s recently discovered a new type of virus that he’s calling Las Plagas. It’s being developed by some out of the way cult here in Spain. There’s nothing more about it other than that so I’m guessing that’s his latest project. He’s sent one of his field agents to recover a sample for him. It doesn’t specify a location but it’s something for Dennis to work on,”

“I’ll level with you here,” Chris said. “I get the super virus thing but I’m still not down with what that symbi-thingy is,”

“You read comics don’t you?” Leon replied with a heavy sigh. “I can’t believe that I’m descending to this level but here goes. Do you remember the Spiderman storyline with the black suit? It completely took over Peter. He was eventually able to get rid of it and the suit attached itself to Eddie Brock so that both it and Eddie became stronger. Eddie became Venom, right? And whenever Venom talked about himself he always said ‘we’. Well, that’s symbiosis.”

“Oh!” Chris slapped his forehead in realisation. “Well, why didn’t you just say it was Venom? I totally get it now,” he grinned. “Since when were you such a comic book nerd anyway?”

“We’re not talking about comic books right now-”

“But we were! You brought it up! You started the whole Spider-”

“Can we just get back to the task at hand?” Leon snapped, nodding at his laptop screen. When Chris didn’t interrupt or argue, he continued. “We’ve at least put a stop to it at that facility-”

“You won’t ever put a stop to him,” Chris said. The dark look was back on his face. It was still such an alien expression that Leon felt like he needed to know more.

“What’s the history with you and him?” He asked. A part of him felt rude for prying but, he reasoned, Chris had read his file and found out about his history with Krauser. In a way, this seemed only fair.

“He was our Captain,” Chris replied. He was staring down at the table now, fiddling the syrup bottle. He wiped at a globule of dried syrup on the neck, staring at it as though it were the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. “He hadn’t been with S.T.A.R.S that long before he got involved in the big murder case. He was the one who led us to the Spencer Mansion before proceeding to backstab his entire team. My team. All for his own sick, twisted amusement. People died in that hell hole Leon. My people. My best friend and my teammates died in the most horrible, brutal ways all because he’s a power-hungry psychopath that wants to see the world burn. Then he kidnapped my little sister Claire. I’d done so well keeping her away from the horrors of Raccoon City, making sure she didn’t follow me there and he got to her anyway. He had her taken to Antarctica and put her through hell. The first man she’d ever loved died there. Wesker is a sick fucking bastard. I always thought that the sooner I could kill him, the sooner the world would be a better place,” He was scraping at the glob of dried syrup fiercely now, his features twisted in anger. “Only he never dies. You think he’s dead and then the bastard comes back. So what the hell am I supposed to do? He gets to everyone I care about and makes their lives hell,”

He suddenly let go of the bottle and pushed his chair back with such force that it almost toppled over. He kept his head down so that Leon couldn’t read his face.
“I need a soak,” He said quickly. “Can I use the hot tub?”

“Yeah, sure,” Leon replied. As soon as the first word was out of his mouth, the older man disappeared. Leon closed his laptop and looked at the spot where Chris had been sitting. He was feeling a little shocked. He’d never met anyone who was so brave as to speak so candidly about a subject that was so obviously painful. He’d asked and Chris had simply told him. The older man hadn’t dumbed down or tried to sugarcoat anything. There was absolutely no facade.

It was almost like there was some sort of connection between the two of them. Leon had no idea where that had come from. As always, he’d done his level best to try and stop that kind of thing happening. It was terrifying to think that Chris had so easily broken through his barriers and that he trusted him enough to share his traumatic past. Leon found himself feeling relieved that Chris hadn’t gone back to the US as planned. His mind was skipping to and fro, hating Chris and yet liking him at the same time. His feet itched to get up and go to the hot tub to see if there was anything he could do. He hadn’t felt this mixed up since he’d realised that he was gay. He wanted to sit and talk things out with the older man. He wanted to reassure him and tell him that he knew how he was feeling, especially with Krauser’s unexpected return. The psychiatrist hadn’t had a clue but here was somebody who knew exactly what he was going through. Perhaps things wouldn’t seem so dark and hopeless if they could talk to each other and really share.

Leon shook his head, trying to rid himself of that train of thought. It was too dangerous. He’d been there before. Sharing got you nowhere. Sooner or later Chris would end up hurting him the way that Krauser had.

He couldn’t let Chris in he decided. The risks were far too great. He needed to stop this track on the track and there was only one way he knew how.

 

_*_

 

Leon’s plan to revert to his cold, unfriendly ‘Secret Agent’ persona was turning out to be a lot harder than he expected. He’d gone to bed early the previous night, deciding to avoid Chris’ return from the hot tub. He’d felt bad but he’d been able to distract himself with a book quickly enough so that he wouldn’t wallow and dwell on the situation.

The morning, however, had been a lot more difficult. He’d risen early and made himself a cup of coffee before settling at the kitchen table. He’d already stopped using the crutches the hospital gave him, finding them awkward and unwieldy. He decided he’d much sooner deal with the pain.

Chris had practically bounded into the kitchen, looking full of the joys of spring. He was freshly showered and dressed in some of the clothes Leon had bought for him when he’d arrived. He chatted non-stop as he helped himself to a huge bowl of cereal and garnished it with some fresh strawberries and a banana. He’d poured himself a cup of coffee and had taken his usual place at the kitchen table opposite Leon.
“Thanks for listening last night,” He said through a mouthful of half-masticated cereal. “And for letting me use the hot tub,”

Leon nodded but didn’t say anything. He didn’t quite trust himself to speak. He really didn’t want to start making some stupid friendly overture.

 

“So I was thinking,” Chris paused to take a huge gulp of coffee. “We should like, get out today. It’d be good for you to get some light exercise and I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the city,”

“Well-” Leon was prepared with a litany of excuses. Chris however, quickly cut him off, obviously not undeterred by Leon’s attitude.
“Plus I need to take my mind off shit y’know?” He continued. “It was good to talk about Wesker and all but I really don’t wanna think about him right now,”

And so, just like that, Leon was trapped. Every instinct was telling him to simply ignore Chris’ plea and tell him that he could go off exploring on his own but there was this new part of his brain that seemed to want to do the exact opposite. The two briefly tussled before one of them claimed victory.
“Sure, I know a place,” He said.

_*_

 

It was a beautiful Spanish morning, bright and sunny, with the heat at just the right temperature so that it was pleasantly warm as opposed to stifling hot. Chris had enjoyed the short drive. The place that Leon had mentioned turned out to be a small but bustling marketplace in an older part of the city. Chris had been taken aback once they’d left the Jeep and walked around a little bit. The buildings were clustered together around the stalls and their earth tones reminded him of baked clay. Unlike the neat rows of buildings that he was used to back in the US, the houses here were all different shapes and sizes arranged around the paved market square. If he looked up, he could see multiple clotheslines stretched between each home.

The market itself was a riot of colour and scents. The traders had set out their wares on brightly coloured, eye-catching tablecloths. Chris liked the stinging scarlets and bright emeralds. He breathed in deeply and caught the seductive smells from the produce tables. There was a sharp citrus scent that reminded him of the perfume that Jill liked to wear.

Each vendor was calling out in Spanish, competing with the others for custom. Some of them held their valuables aloft, showing them off to the willing throng of people that were slowly wandering around the square. Those that were obviously not tourists were rushing around with purpose, filling string bags with various fruits and vegetables. The tourists were a lot slower, couples holding hands and happily browsing or families that were cheerfully calling out to their kids.

Chris followed as Leon led him through the happy chaos. The younger man was still limping quite heavily and Chris frowned when he realised he wasn’t using his crutches. Eventually, though, he stopped outside of a small pavement cafe at the other end of the square. There were a few white plastic tables and chairs arranged outside with large yellow and red parasols shading them from the sun. A few of the tables were already occupied with people sipping coffee and nibbling on little cakes, obviously content to people watch.

“Good choice,” Chris said. He could murder a decent freshly brewed cup of coffee and some of the cakes looked seriously good. He grinned at a woman who was obviously checking him out. He wasn’t exactly flexing his arms in his black tank top, but maybe he was guiding her eye line to his muscles.

“What the hell is USAP?” Leon suddenly asked. He was looking towards the faded, wobbly lettering that Chris had tattooed on the top of his right arm.

“It doesn’t say USAP,” Chris corrected. If he had a dollar for everyone who’d asked that question over the years, he’d had enough for any number of airfares back home. It seemed that the general consensus amongst them was that his tattoo said ‘USAP’ but there was no way he was going to admit that to Leon. “It says USAF, y’know, like in, United States Air Force?” He continued. This time, he really did flex his arm and yeah, maybe he was speaking a little louder for the benefit of the woman still watching him.

“Looks like it says USAP,” Leon said vaguely. Was Chris just imagining it or had Leon’s usual calm quiet voice suddenly taken on a fog horn-like volume? The woman giggled and shook her head. She got up from her seat and walked away, barely giving Chris a second glance.

“Yeah well,” Chris replied, shrugging to cover his embarrassment. “The guy who did it had a bit of a shaky hand y’know? It’s hard to do a decent tattoo in the middle of a warzone in a high-speed fighter jet,” he boasted, puffing his chest out.

He wasn’t, of course, going to tell Leon the real story behind his slightly shitty ink. He’d barely been enlisted in the Air Force a month when he’d managed to sneak some beers in the training grounds one night. He and a few of his fellow new recruits had decided to cut loose and, as the beers flowed, they’d decided the best way to cement their new friendship and brotherhood would be to have matching tattoos. One of the guys had piped up that he was practically a professional tattooist and all he’d need was a needle, some thread and some ink. They’d quickly come up with the required materials and Chris had naturally been the first one to roll up his sleeve.

He’d sunk another beer before sitting down on the guy’s bunk. It had been his first tattoo so he hadn’t really been sure what to expect. The guy had been pretty heavy-handed and it had been painful but he’d gotten through it. It was only then that he’d realised that his tattooist had terrible handwriting and had obviously had a shaky hand. The ‘F’ definitely looked more like a ‘P’ and the whole thing sloped downwards. Suddenly the others hadn’t been so eager to join the tattooed brotherhood.

“I’m thirsty,” He said quickly to cover his embarrassment. “Why don’t we grab a drink or something?”

“Sure,” Leon replied with an aloof shrug. Chris nodded and hurried into the cafe, hoping that Leon wouldn’t see the blush on his cheeks.

_*_

 

Leon watched as Chris scuttled away into the cafe. He let out a sigh of relief. This trip had been a mistake. A big mistake. He didn’t want to watch Chris walking around in his tight tank top and shorts. He didn’t want to hear cute little stories about terrible tattoos. Neither of those things made it any easier to act cold towards the older man. It was like Leon could see what was happening but there was no way to stop it. This was exactly how things had started out between him and Krauser. They’d been unwilling partners until they’d slowly gotten to learn how the other one worked. They’d made a flawless and efficient team and had only improved as they’d gotten to know each other on a personal level too.

Jack, as Leon called him back then, had told him all about his hopes and dreams. They’d traded stories, both happy and sad, about their childhoods. Jack had opened up about his abusive stepfather and Leon had told him all about Raccoon City and, more importantly, Sherry. They’d gone out drinking together on their rare days off. They’d hung out at each other’s shitty apartments, eating pizza, watching Jack’s favourite 80s action movies and just generally laughing at the world.

Jack had seemed so understanding and their bond had seemed so close that it made sense for Leon to come out to him. He’d battled with it for months before finally plucking up the courage. Maybe the middle of a mission hadn’t been the most optimal time to confess but he’d felt sure that Jack wouldn’t mind. And, of course, he’d been wrong. So wrong. Ever since that confession, his life had become hell. He’d learnt that there were much greater things to be afraid of than zombies and monsters. Jack had shown him that the worst monster of all could be another human being.

And here he was again. Chris hadn’t shown any signs of becoming the monster that Krauser had but then, Leon’s brain countered, neither had Jack. They’d gotten on for a good couple of years before he’d shown his true colours.

The sick twisting feeling in his stomach returned. Chris would be out here any moment demanding to know why he hadn’t followed him into the cafe. Leon could feel his heart began to race and his palms begin to sweat. His breathing increased and he felt as though his whole body had gone into spasm. He recognised the symptoms. He was starting to have a panic attack. He needed a distraction. And fast. His eyes wildly scanned the tables until he spotted a good looking young man sipping on a cup of coffee and just watching the world go by. As luck would have it, he looked up just as Leon saw him and their eyes met. The man smiled and nodded to Leon to join him. Desperate to stop his brain thinking about Krauser, Chris and his part, Leon walked over as quickly as his injury would allow.

“Hola,” The man greeted warmly. “Me llamo Marco. Y tu?” He asked in a deep, rolling voice. He pushed a chair out with his foot and Leon immediately sat down.

“Leon,” He replied. “Se habla ingles?”

“Of course,” Marco said with a smile. “I must say, your command of Spanish is very good,”

It was a terrible pick-up line, worthy of very little merit, but Leon didn’t care. He could tell that Marco was interested and that was all that he needed. He smiled back at Marco. For a moment, he was reminded of a chat he’d had with a senior psychiatrist shortly before his move to Spain. One sentence stuck out in his mind from the report he’d been allowed to read.
‘Shows self-destructive tendencies when post-traumatic stress is triggered. Excessive drinking and promiscuous behaviour.’

If this was self-destruction, Leon thought to himself as he moved a little closer to Marco, at least it was very good looking.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

Chris, fully recovered from his embarrassment, left the cafe carefully holding two takeaway cups of coffee. He hadn’t looked at his watch but he knew he’d been in there for a while. He’d tried his hardest to order but, after several failed attempts, the guy behind the counter had fetched another staff member who could speak English. He couldn’t quite remember how Leon took his coffee but he hoped that he’d got it right. The younger man was acting pretty moody.

He scanned the tables and found his partner deep in conversation with some long haired dude he’d never seen before. Chris narrowed his eyes at the tanned stranger. How the hell had he managed to get Leon talking so animatedly and looking so happy? He’d never seen him look so alive before. Perhaps he was an old friend? Although, given Leon’s general attitude, that probably wasn’t likely.

He was about to march over there and demand to know what the hell was going on (although, his brain reasoned, he didn’t exactly know why he wanted to act like a jealous boyfriend) but, before he could, Leon and the stranger stood up and started to walk away. Leon was walking slower than usual and Chris was pretty sure he was exaggerating his limp because the stranger suddenly wrapped his arm around the younger man’s waist as if to support him. Leon didn’t push him away.

 

_*_

 

Chris hadn’t really felt like hanging around the village after Leon had left him behind. He’d found the nearest cab and headed back to the house. He’d been brooding in the hot tub ever since. He took a sip from his glass of whiskey and sighed deeply. He wasn’t even sure why he gave a shit. Leon was his own man and he could do whatever the fuck he wanted. It wasn’t like they were on a date or anything.

The thing that was really grinding his gears about the situation was that he’d never seen Leon so animated like that. It was just some random dude. How had he been able to get that much of a reaction in such a short time? He, Chris, had been here for what felt like forever and he’d never once had Leon chat to him and smile like that. It was pretty darn annoying especially since he’d tried his hardest to get the younger man to open up. It felt like a smack in the face.
He took drained his glass and poured a fresh one from the bottle he’d brought out with him. He’d wasted his time by turning down that flight home. The cold Leon from his first few days had returned and he was making it obvious he didn’t need him around anymore. If he ever had done. Chris didn’t really like to admit it but he knew his time in Spain was over.

 

There was a loud, sudden bang and Chris dropped his glass into the depths of the hot tub in shock. He clambered out of the hot tub and grabbed the nearest towel. He hurried through the patio doors and back into the hallway still dripping wet.

“Chris!” Leon exclaimed. He was leaning against the front door and was completely and utterly drunk. The loud noise had obviously been the front door slamming. Next to Leon was another stranger. It wasn’t the guy from the pavement cafe. This guy had long black hair and was thin and wiry. He had a shifty look on his face that Chris didn’t trust for a second.

“Who the fuck are you?” He demanded, crossing his arms across his chest. He was painfully aware he was still in just a towel but he figured his bulk was pretty intimidating either way.

“Oh, this is...Marco,” Leon slurred. He was obviously struggling to remember the guy’s name. He was still leaning heavily on the door, slumping slightly with the effort of staying upright.

“Antonio,” The stranger corrected.

“Marco, Tonio, whatever!” Leon exclaimed with a grin. He pushed himself off the front door and almost went headlong. Chris had to react quickly to catch him. “Get off!” Leon complained, he jerked away from him so wildly that he went crashing into Antonio who caught him easily and grinned lecherously. “Bedrooms upstairs,” Leon cooed.

“Sounds like a plan,” Antonio crooned. He and Leon started to head towards the stairs as Leon clumsily tried to grope him through his tight jeans. “Are we going to make this a threesome?”

“Hell no,” Leon replied sounding completely disgusted even though he was totally smashed. They were halfway up the stairs now. “He’s just some guy. He’ll be leaving soon,”

Chris watched with barely controlled rage. He stayed standing in the hallway until he heard Leon’s bedroom door slam shut. Every single inch of him wanted to run up the stairs, barge into the bedroom and forcibly drag this Antonio guy from the house. Maybe he’d give him a punch or two to remove some of the smugness. It was pretty obvious that Leon wouldn’t thank him for doing that though even if Chris pointed out what a sleazy asshole Antonio obviously was.

What burned him more though was how Leon had brushed him off as ‘some guy’. He hadn’t even referred to him as his roommate. With a heavy sigh, Chris turned on his heel and headed back towards the hot tub. He needed a good soak now more than ever.

_*_

 

Just as Chris had expected, Leon didn’t surface until noon the next day. Chris had heard Antonio leave sometime in the early hours. He’d stayed awake most of the night brooding and drinking in the hot tub and, as such, was nursing a hangover himself. He was sitting at the kitchen table downing his third cup of coffee when Leon joined him. Last night everything had seemed so clear. He’d made the decision that he was going to go back to the US. He’d try to book the earliest flight he could and he was going to tell Leon today.

All of that appeared to go out the window as soon as Leon limped into the kitchen. He looked totally exhausted and in a lot of pain. No doubt he’d forgotten to take his scheduled painkiller dose. He poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot and slumped into the nearest chair. His hair was sticking up in all directions and there were dark circles under his eyes. He was still wearing the same clothes as yesterday. It was such a bizarre sight, so utterly un-Leon, and it worried Chris a lot.

“What was that all about last night?” He asked once Leon had taken his painkillers and finished his coffee.

“What?” Leon replied irritably.

“Going off with some random dude outside the coffee shop, coming back with another random dude totally smashed off your face,” Chris said. “It’s not like you,” Or maybe, Chris thought as soon as the words were out of his mouth, it was. His mind flashed back to Leon’s file. ‘Drinking and promiscuous behaviour’. Things suddenly seemed a whole lot worse.

“You have no clue what I’m like,” Leon answered snippily. “And if you did, it would be none of your business,” He rose from his chair. “I’ll thank you to keep your nose out. If it bothers you that much, I suggest you go back to the US. You’re probably overdue by this point anyway,”

He flounced out of the kitchen as best as he could on an injured leg. Chris sighed heavily and slumped back down in his chair. All of his resolve from last night was gone. It was clear that there was no way in hell in could leave Leon now. If the younger man wasn’t going to listen to him, he was going to have to enlist someone who could help.

 

_*_

 

Chris stared down at his cup in total confusion. Instead of the usual dark brown liquid he’d expected, he appeared to have a cup full of brown speckled white foam. He’d arranged to meet Dennis at the pavement cafe and, due to his terrible Spanish, he’d gotten there late and the older man had obviously ordered for him.
“Cappuccino,” Dennis explained, obviously reading Chris’ confused expression. “Sometimes it does one good to expand one's horizons,” He offered Chris a small smile but there was something guarded about it. “I trust we’re not meeting purely for social reasons?”

“Yeah,” Chris replied with a sigh. “It’s Leon,”

“I’d certainly guessed as much,” Dennis stirred his own cup of foam. “And, from what you told me on the phone, I can certainly understand your concern,”

“I thought I was getting through to him,” Chris said sadly. “While he was recovering at the hospital he was still kinda moody and shit but there were some days where he’d actually talk to me like a human being and not treat me like something he’s stepped in,” He continued. “Look, if I tell you something, you gotta promise you won’t get mad okay?”

“Unless what you’re about to tell me is that you’ve hurt Leon in some way, I’m sure I can abide by that,”

“That time I was in your office to pick up those bullets,” Chris scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. He didn’t exactly relish telling some high up government guy that he’d read his stuff but this was an emergency. “I kinda sorta maybe read Leon’s file and saw some stuff about his PTSD,”

“I assumed as much,” Dennis replied. There was a hint of humour in his tone. Chris was pretty sure he’d just pulled a really stupid looking shocked expression. “I arrange my paperwork very specifically on my desk and I noticed Leon’s file had been disturbed,” He explained. “While I don’t condone such behaviour I’m certain that you didn’t do it with any kind of malicious intent. As it happens, it’s probably for the best that you did. From what you told me about the events last night, it seems that Leon is experiencing a relapse,”

“He saw Krauser again,” Chris spat the name. It was all that sick freak’s fault. “He was still alive in the facility,”

“That certainly would be a trigger,” Dennis nodded and took a sip of his foam. “I’m almost certain that someone from the psychiatric team attempted to speak to Leon during his hospitalisation although I doubt they achieved much. I’ve tried to talk to Leon myself countless times yet he always insists that he’ll deal with his issues in his own time and his own way. It’s just rather unfortunate that the methods he uses to deal with those issues are somewhat dangerous,” He sighed, “I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. Leon and I have a strong relationship but he refuses to listen to me. If I'm honest, I actually believe that you are more likely to succeed than I am”

“Me?” Chris said doubtfully. “I tried this morning and he just brushed me off like he did when we first met,”

“Give him time,” Dennis advised gently. “You may not be able to see it but you’ve already broken through many of Leon’s barriers. I’m sure that, in time, he’ll open up to you again. I know you’re willing to help him and that will come across to him. You may need to remind him that you are there if he wishes to talk to you but, until that time comes, you may just have to stand by and wait,”

“I don’t think I can do that,” Chris said miserably. He understood Dennis’ point. If he went in all guns blazing like he had this morning there was no way Leon was going to take it well. He should’ve realised that by now. “That guy last night, he was all kinds of sleazy, god knows where he picked him up,”

“I could hazard a guess,” Dennis replied. “There isn’t much in the way of gay nightlife locally. In fact, there’s just one establishment. I would be happy to inform you of the location,”

“Are you suggesting I follow him?” Chris asked. He liked that idea a lot. If he could secretly keep tabs on Leon maybe he could head some of these sleazy dudes off at the pass. It would definitely keep the younger man safe until he was ready to talk. It wasn’t the perfect solution but it was a solution all the same. “Where is it?”

 

_*_

 

“Back off. Not interested,” Chris grumbled. It felt like he’d said the same words at least fifty times and he’d only been sitting at the bar for a couple of hours. Leon had, of course, elected to spend another night out and Chris had successfully managed to tail him to the bar that Dennis had told him about.

He’d slunk about in the corners, forced to watch as Leon made a beeline for the bar. The younger man had sunk a couple of vodka followed by a mysterious blue drink before he’d hit the dancefloor. Leon was always so aloof and subtle in everyday life so it was eye opening for Chris to see him morph into, for the want of a better word, a total slut. He pressed himself up against any available guy and pulled off some dance moves that were flat out pornographic. Chris had hoped that Leon’s injury might slow him down a little but that didn’t seem to be the case.

It had taken all of Chris’ resolve not to march over there like some enraged parent and drag Leon all the way home again. He tried his best to remember Dennis’ words about Leon needing time. So he’d taken a seat in a corner of the bar and ordered a beer and that was when the locals had started showing an interest in him. He’d had a lot of offers and, although he wasn’t interested, it was kind of nice to know that he had options.

Still, he needed to focus his attention on Leon. The younger man was currently gyrating with yet another greasy looking stranger. The man’s hands were all over Leon’s body, caressing his sides and paying particular attention to his ass. He pulled Leon forward, ramming his tongue right down the younger man’s throat. When they broke apart he whispered something into Leon’s ear and stepped back. His hand lingered on Leon’s ass for a moment before he left the dancefloor and headed in the direction of the toilets. Leon continued to dance alone and, once Chris was sure he wasn’t looking towards the toilets, he got up from the bar and followed the stranger.

The toilets were dingy as hell with a filthy tiled floor and even filthier tiled walls. There were a few peeling posters here and there advertising the club’s many DJs and, of course, a condom machine that appeared to be broken. Three of the four stalls were engaged and, judging from the sounds coming from each, they weren’t being used in the traditional manner. Chris spotted Leon’s greasy stranger relieving himself at one of the dirty urinals. He was chatting animatedly with a guy in tight white jeans who was using one of the other urinals.

“I scored out there mate,” Greasy said in a rough English accent that was very unlike the one Dennis used.

“You’ll have to let me have a go once you’re done,” White Jeans replied emphatically in a matching accent. “He’s right a piece of ass,”

“Sure mate. Blondie’s up for anything he said. You should feel how tight his arse cheeks are! Can’t wait to get inside that. This holiday has been a fucking blinder I tell you! Hey, maybe I can convince him to take both of us on at the same time,” He shook his crotch and zipped himself back up. He patted the back pocket of his pants and leaned closer to White Jeans. Luckily for Chris, Greasy was tipsy so his whisper was the volume of most people’s usual speaking voice. “Once he pops one of these babies it ain’t like he’s going to be able to argue!”

White Jeans guffawed with laughter. Chris was over there like a shot and, before Greasy knew what was what, Chris had him pinned against the horrible tiles.

“That’s my boyfriend you’re talking about,” He growled in his most menacing tone. White Jeans had already fled, clearly willing to go along with his friend’s schemes but not take any of the shit he may, and certainly had encountered.

“Listen mate,” Greasy protested. He was trying to sound casual but Chris could feel him shaking. “I can’t help it if your boyfriend acts like a whore. Maybe you should keep him on a tighter leash,”

“I really wouldn’t argue with me if I were you,” Chris threatened. The guy was obviously a complete and utter piece of shit and he was a perfect conduit for Chris’ hitherto contained frustration. “I’d get the fuck out of here and pretend you’ve never even been here tonight. I’d go back to my shitty hotel and forget all about my boyfriend and how much he’s too good for shit like you. Oh, and these?” Chris tore a bag of pills from the back pocket of Greasy’s black pants. “I’ve got the perfect place for them,”

He yanked Greasy away from the wall and hauled him into the empty cubicle. If anyone had seen or heard what was going on, they certainly didn’t seem to want to intervene. Not that Chris blamed them at all. He was pretty intimidating. He pinned Greasy to the wall of the cubicle with one hand and emptied the bag of pills into the toilet with the other. Greasy made a strangled noise as the small white pills rained down into the toilet bowl. Chris dropped the bag on the floor and flushed the toilet.
“Y’know,” He said, pretending to peer into the depths of the toilet bowl, “I don’t think they all went down. How’s about you look for me?” He forced Greasy’s head into the bowl and flushed once more before relinquishing his hold on him.

Greasy came back up gasping for air. He wiped his nose and mouth quickly and muttered some kind of quiet insult before high-tailing it out of the cubicle. Chris was close behind and watched triumphantly as he scuttled along the back wall of the club, avoided the dancefloor, and hurried up the stairs that led to the exit. Leon was still dancing and it looked as though he’d set his sights on another guy. Chris sighed and took his place back at the bar. It looked like it was going to be a long night.

 

_*_

 

An assault from the morning sun caused Leon to open his eyes. He let out a self-indulgent moan. His head was pounding and his mouth was dry. The rogue sunlight was coming through a large gap in the curtains but there was no way on earth he was going to risk moving. He narrowed his eyes at the material. His bedroom curtains weren’t patterned with suns.

He sat up as quickly as he dared. He realised that he had absolutely no idea where he was. The room was tiny with stained magnolia walls. Judging by the small, rickety-looking table in the corner that was adorned with tea and coffee making facilities, he was in some kind of hotel. With quickly rising horror, he lifted the horrible beige sheets. He was completely naked. Forgetting all about his horrible hangover, his leapt from the bed as quickly as his injury would allow. God knows what was living between those sheets.

Luckily there didn’t appear to be anyone else in the room with him. He grabbed his clothes that had been dumped in a pile at the foot of the bed and dressed quickly. His wallet and keys were on the bedside table. He picked them up and hurried out of the room.

As soon as he left the hotel he knew where he was. As it happened, he wasn’t that far away from home. The hotel was located at the other end of the village, the part that headed towards the nearest city. It was the less desirable part that the tourists seemed to know to stay away from.

He limped down the street, looking for an available taxi. The events of last night were coming back to him in fits and starts. He’d gone to the gay bar and he’d been dancing with some guy who’d suddenly disappeared. He remembered dancing with a couple of others and kissing one of them before finally finding someone who was looking for the same thing he was. They’d obviously decided to head to the hotel afterwards. He had a vague memory of the sex and it hadn’t been mind-blowing. That always seemed to be the case with these hookups. He’d grab any guy who was willing and he was always disappointed. More than anything, he would wake up the next day feeling disgusted with himself yet not so ashamed that he wouldn’t do it all over again the next night.

‘It’s because none of them are Chris.’

The voice inside his head popped up from nowhere. Leon was so taken aback he audibly gasped. Where the hell had that come from? None of this was to do with that oaf.

‘Keep telling yourself that.’

Leon shook his head despite the pain it caused. What was that voice’s hangup on Chris? No. It went much deeper than that surely? Way back to a time before Chris Redfield had entered his life like a hurricane and changed everything he’d known to be true. That train of thought, as it always did, led him back to Jack.

‘It’s Chris you want,’

The voice screamed at him adamantly. Leon started to get irritated. It wasn’t Chris. It absolutely wasn’t. While he was thankful that his brain was diverting him away from thoughts of Krauser, it wasn’t exactly doing him a favour by turning them to Chris. He tried to distract himself further by thinking about his terrible track record with men. He’d barely been eighteen years old when he’d realised that he was gay. Surely that wasn’t old enough for him to make an informed decision? He’d been a pretty lame bloomer after all. He’d always been more focused on his studies and fitness regime and gaining entrance to the police academy to worry about dating like his classmates. What the hell had he known about the real world back then?

He allowed himself a small smile as he moved in checkmate with the voice. He’d never even kissed a woman, let alone had sex with one. Just because he hadn’t ever found a woman attractive didn’t mean anything. Hell, he probably just hadn’t found the right woman yet! When it came to dating and not a casual fuck, he had pretty high standards. And hadn’t he always thought that Dennis’ wife, Maria, was pretty?

Yes. It was all beginning to make sense, he told himself as he hailed a taxi. The more he thought about his new theory, the more he liked it and the more it made sense. Why bother thinking about Chris and Jack and everything from the past? Clearly he’d gotten it all wrong.

‘You know you’re gay. You just can’t face up to the fact that you care about someone that isn’t yourself’

The voice could nag at him all it wanted. Leon wasn’t going to listen anymore.

 

_*_

 

Chris glared at the clock on the kitchen wall as if it were to blame for Leon’s absence. He could’ve kicked himself when Leon disappeared on him at the club. It was all the beer’s fault. That shit was tasty but it went through him quickly. He’d been gone all of two minutes to take a piss and, when he’d returned, there’d been no sign of the younger man. He’d run out into the street just in time to see him getting into the back of a cab with some seedy looking asshole. By the time he’d found himself a cab to follow them, they were long gone.

“Where the fuck is he?” Chris grumbled aloud. He’d ended up staying up all night waiting for his wayward ex-partner to put in an appearance. It was kind of ironic when he really thought about it. Jill used to complain that she’d waited up for him all night when he’d gone out drinking with Kevin Ryman. He’d always told her she was nagging way too much but now he was kind of beginning to see her point.

His fingers itched to call her so he could distract himself but he knew he shouldn’t tie up the phone. What if Leon needed to call him for help or something? Maybe he could give Dennis a quick call to see if Leon was there? Chris sighed deeply. Never in all his life did he think he’d be in this situation. He was always so easy going and chill. It was just another of the many ways his life had changed since he met Leon Kennedy.

He got up and decided to make himself another cup of coffee. At least that would occupy his brain for a few minutes.

 

_*_

 

Ada Wong considered herself to be an exemplary field agent. When she’d met with Albert Wesker to receive her assignment, she’d known how easy it was going to be. If there was one skill she excelled at above all else, it was her ability to hide amongst the shadows and track her targets. She always toned down her appearance on those missions. She would don dowdy clothes and scant makeup and would slip in and out of crowds without ever being noticed. She became the epitome of a Plain Jane.

Kennedy had actually been an easy enough target to track. He was clearly a creature of habit and she’d been able to learn them quickly. As soon as she’d received word from Albert that Kennedy had been admitted to the local hospital, she’d been aware of his every move.

That was why, on this particular morning, she was waiting for him in the pavement cafe. This time, she was wearing a beautiful red dress. Her jet black hair was styled and her makeup was vampish and sexy. Her mission was simple. She needed to enter Kennedy’s home and retrieve the USB stick that he’d stolen from the facility. Albert had given her Kennedy’s file and she’d found herself instantly intrigued when she’d discovered he was a Raccoon survivor. She’d been there herself of course. Umbrella had given her a job to do and the fact that the city had gone to hell was inconsequential to them. She remembered seeing Kennedy at various points but she’d never approached him. There’d been no reason for her to complicate matters by involving some stranger.

The only potential fly in her ointment was Redfield. Albert had informed her of his long history with the BSAA agent. Still, from what she’d seen, Redfield and Kennedy didn’t appear to be all that close. It probably, she theorized, had something to do with Kennedy’s current mental state. She’d been able to access his medical notes easily. It hadn’t taken much skill for her to steal a pair of scrubs and talk her way into the medical records office. The psychiatrist had written that Kennedy was currently unstable, prone to mood swings and self-destructive behaviours. She’d smiled when she’d read about his disastrous therapy session. An unstable man meant a man that would be much easier to manipulate.

Just as she’d expected, Kennedy was heading towards the pavement cafe looking somewhat worse for wear. She could see him clearly from her spot at one of the patio tables. He’d been going out on a nightly basis and his subsequent hangovers meant that he would visit the cafe for a decent caffeine shot. Ada positioned herself perfectly, getting ready to strike as soon as Kennedy got close enough.

 

_*_

 

Leon ordered himself an extra shot of espresso in his coffee. His head was still pounding and he still had that horrible taste in his mouth. He needed some serious caffeine if he was going to deal with his headache and Chris. Not that he was trying to think about Chris. Although he was pretty sure he’d spotted the older man at the club last night. That wasn’t a conversation he was looking forward to having.

“Oh!”

He was suddenly jolted out of his own head by a woman’s voice. Leon took a step back and realised that, as he was leaving the cafe, he’d walked straight into her.

“Shit, sorry!” The lid of his coffee had come off and the woman was now sporting a wet patch on her dress.

“No problem,” She said silkily as she grabbed a pile of napkins from a nearby table and started to blot at the coffee stain. “Mind on other things huh?”

“You could say that,” Leon replied apologetically. “I hope I haven’t ruined your dress,” It looked like it was a pretty expensive dress too.

“Oh this old thing,” The woman shook her head and smiled at him. He couldn’t help but notice how stunning she was. She had a dazzling smile, her teeth white and even and framed by lipstick that matched her outfit. Her hair was a beautiful jet black. She had dark brown eyes that were intensified by her black winged eyeliner. She carried herself in a confident way, all her moves, even wiping down her dress, were elegant and graceful. She reminded Leon of Maria, Dennis’ wife.

“Perhaps I can make it up to you?” Leon asked. All of a sudden he wasn’t thinking about Chris and going home.

“I’m sure you can Handsome,”

 

_*_

 

Chris almost spilt his cup of coffee when he heard the front door open. He raced to the hallway feeling like he was going to vibrate out of his own skin. Leon was standing there and, yet again, he had a companion. This time, however, it was a woman.

“Hey,” Leon said casually as though he hadn’t been out god knows where all night. Chris really resisted the urge to say something cliche like ‘where have you been all night?’. Instead, he settled for relief that Leon had come home in one piece and was without the creepy looking guy he’d disappeared with.

“Who’s this?” He asked. He didn’t overly care that he probably didn’t sound exactly friendly.

“Ada Wong,” The woman replied, she offered her hand with a silky smile that Chris thought looked a bit too pleased with herself.

“I ran into Ada at the cafe, literally,” Leon added. “I brought her back here for some coffee,”

“There wasn’t any at the cafe?” Chris asked snidely. His relief at seeing Leon safe was beginning to mutate into anger. The dude had a cell phone. He could’ve at least given him a call or something.

Leon frowned at him before directing Ada towards the kitchen. Her hips swayed from side to side as she walked and it was obvious she wanted them both to watch her as she left. Chris sighed heavily. He really wasn’t in the mood for making nice with some stupid whore his partner had picked up.

“What the fuck is your problem?” Leon demanded quietly through gritted teeth. He paused for a moment, closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. “You know what? Why should I even care? This isn’t your house. I don’t owe you anything,”

“Don’t I know it,” Chris said bitterly. “Just maybe tell me when you’re gonna do an overnight disappearing act? You might not give a damn but people are worried about you,”

“Don’t be,” Leon whispered fiercely. “I’m fine and I don’t need you fussing over me like you’re my father. What the hell are you still doing around here anyway? The mission’s over. Fuck off back to the US Chris. You’re surplus to requirements,” He added as he turned on his heel and stalked into the kitchen after Ada.

 

_*_

 

Chris was done. He was one hundred per cent totally and completely done. He rushed around his bedroom throwing stuff into a backpack he’d found in the closet. Luckily when his bag had gone missing at the airport, his passport had still been tucked into the back pockets of his jeans. He hadn’t booked or anything but he had enough money in his account from the Government stipend that he could just go to the airport and grab the next flight to the US.

He no longer gave a damn what Dennis had told him about waiting for Leon to open up to him again. The younger man had made it perfectly clear that he didn’t want him around anymore. If the guy wanted to self destruct then it wasn’t his lookout. There was only so much that Chris could give and he felt like he’d given it all.

 

_*_

 

Kennedy’s file had stated that he was gay so it came as something as a shock to Ada when, after a cup of coffee and some idle chat on the couch, he’d started to kiss her like a man possessed. Still, she was a consummate professional and that meant she took curveballs like this in her stride. If this was the way the situation was going to unwind then so be it. The USB was important and she’d been ordered to retrieve it by any means necessary.

 

_*_

 

Leon knew he’d made a mistake as soon as he’d started to kiss Ada. Her lips, her body, they felt all wrong. She was too gentle, too soft. She tasted too sweet. God he’d been stupid to ignore the voice in his head. This wasn’t what he wanted. He wasn’t into women, he was into...was into…

Chris.

He let out a gasp and leapt off Ada as if he’d been electrocuted.

“I...I need, I have to, bathroom,” He stuttered out before bolting as quickly as he could from the lounge and into the downstairs bathroom. He slammed the door shut and locked it behind him. As he slid down the door and hit the tiles, he could feel his heart beating wildly. His mind was filled with a mixture of images, Jack and Chris, intertwined. Chris wasn’t Jack. He would never treat him the way Jack had. And yet, he Leon, had told him that he was surplus to requirements. He’d been so stupid to deny his feelings. He closed his eyes and tried to calm down. He’d made a mistake. A big fucking mistake.

 

_*_

 

Chris stomped down the stairs, backpack slung over one shoulder. He didn’t give the slightest fuck if he was being too loud or annoying Leon’s latest guest. He was mightily tempted to give the younger man a piece of his mind before he left but he knew it wouldn’t make much difference. Leon was a conceited asshole who needed some serious therapy to stop being such a conceited asshole. And it was no longer his problem.

What he didn’t expect to see, however, was Ada sitting in the lounge on her own. She was at Leon’s laptop, typing away furiously on the keyboard. Leon was nowhere to be seen.
“What the fuck are you doing?” He demanded.

She’d jumped when he’d first spoken but recovered her composure pretty quickly. She closed the laptop and offered him a smile.

“Just checking my Facebook,” She said casually as she stood up. Chris narrowed his eyes at her. He didn’t trust her a single bit. “Well, it’s time for me to leave, see you around Handsome,” She kissed him on the cheek and smiled at him seductively. “Looks like I went home with the wrong man,” she added, giving his bicep a quick squeeze. Normally Chris would’ve been in his element but there was something about this chick that made him feel uncomfortable.

“Yeah yeah,” He replied. “Just fuck off,”

“Gladly,” She said as she walked down the hallway. Seconds later, Chris heard the front door slam shut. He dumped his backpack on the floor and hurried to the door. He opened it and checked outside. He could see Ada strutting down the road, obviously on the search for a taxi. He closed the door again and sighed heavily.

“She’s gone?”
A voice from behind him startled him. He turned around and saw Leon standing by the door of the bathroom looking a little shamefaced.

“Yep,” Chris replied. He picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder again. “I’m heading the same way myself actually,”

“I’m surprised you weren’t sent back sooner,” Leon said quietly. His tone had none of the usual anger or acidity that Chris had become used to.

“Yeah well, Dennis tried,” Chris answered with a shrug. “I stopped working for the government like a day after the facility got levelled. I was the one who decided to hang around,”

“Why would you do that?” Leon asked. The younger man looked utterly baffled.

“Dunno,” Chris shrugged again. “Just didn’t seem like the right time I guess,” He looked Leon in the eyes but then looked away quickly. He really wasn’t prepared for this awkward confession type deal.

“Maybe I should go back myself,” Leon said. It was more to himself than a direct reply. “It seems like I have some things to work out,”

“I’ll say,” Chris replied with a quick smirk. Leon rolled his eyes at him. It was all getting a bit weird. It was a lot harder to be angry at Leon when he was acting like a reasonable human being.

“I’m still hungover,” Leon confessed. “I was thinking of getting a pizza...or is your flight soon?”

“No flight,” Chris admitted. “I was just gonna grab the next flight home but pizza is a pretty good reason to delay it,” He really wanted to add ‘like you’ on the end of that but it was way too cheesy for him to dare saying out loud.

“And, uh, since it’s your last night here. We should probably celebrate,” Leon continued as he hobbled off towards the kitchen. “How about I crack open the expensive whiskey I’ve been saving?”

“Now you’re talking my language!” Chris said, dumping his bag again. “Y’know,” He added conversationally. “I like this new you. Although, I’d like it better if it stuck around for more than like a day and, I guess, it kinda makes it harder to tell you that I may have, uh, blocked the hot tub,” He finished sheepishly. Leon’s head suddenly popped up in the kitchen doorway. He was wearing his best death glare. “Hey! You’ll miss me when I’m gone!”

 

_*_

 

“You did an admirable job Miss Wong,” Albert Wesker intoned as Ada handed him the USB stick that she’d successfully retrieved from Kennedy’s house. Ada smiled as she took a seat opposite him on the private jet that had been arranged. It was impossible to tell whether or not his was genuinely pleased with her work. His eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses. He pocketed the USB stick and turned to face her once again.

“Why thank you Albert,” She said with just the right amount of sycophantism. Umbrella paid well and she was eager to remain on their books.

“How would you like to accompany me to Africa?” He asked as he leant forward and steepled his fingers together. Ada got the impression that he was staring at her searchingly despite his hidden eyes.

“Of course Albert, it would be my pleasure,”

“Excellent,” Wesker leant back in his seat and smirked. “We need to make one stop beforehand. I have another file for you to read.” He clicked his fingers and an air hostess appeared carrying a file folder and a couple of glasses of wine. Ada took her glass and took a quick sip as Wesker handed her the file for her next target.

Jill Valentine.