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In a quiet Pub and Grill in Washington D.C., Chris Redfield sat alone at his table. Three days had passed. Three days of perhaps the deepest depression Chris had ever experienced in his 42 years of life. An anguish greater still than the one he felt after he lost the first Alpha Team under his command in Edonia, and the second shortly after in Lanshiang. Every man, every single soldier under his command had perished, each death rocking his emotional stability to its very core. But there had been that one death, that final loss that broke him completely, which utterly ruined him, rendering him unfit for continued military service. His second-in-command, the 26 year old sniper whom Chris had personally recommended to the BSAA for his ability 'to never miss a target'.

Piers Nivans. The young ace who had found the amnesiac Chris in a different pub and grill somewhere in Romania, drinking himself to death and not quite knowing why, harassing the beautiful but short-tempered female bartender for yet another drink.

"Hard to find a good steak around here. Not like back home." Piers had said from where he sat next to Chris at the bar counter, calmly cutting the lightly grilled meat on his plate and bringing the forked piece to his mouth. Chris hadn't recognized him then. His PTSD had utterly erased Piers - and every other soldier from Alpha Team - from his mind.

"Fill her up." He had said, his head tilting forward in tandem with the drunken sway of his body.

"You've had enough." Came the short and barely friendly reply.

He had grabbed the bottle from her then, filling his glass up to the brim. "Listen sweetheart, you're here to pour drinks and look pretty, so how about you shut your mouth?" Chris had been met with hostility, his fresh drink thrown back in his face.

"How about you get the hell out of my bar!" The woman had snapped at him in a thick European accent, her patience tested way beyond its limit.

"Nowhere to go..." He had shrugged as he got up from the bar stool and staggered through the dimly lit establishment, where he was moments later stopped from breaking a bottle over the back of a confrontational patron's head, Piers' hand firmly gripping his raised arm.

"Never thought I'd find Chris Redfield wasting away in a shithole like this." His voice had been disappointed, angry even at how the man he had respected and idolized since childhood had fallen into such a dark pit of alcoholism.

Piers had tore him a new one then, forcing him to face what had happened to his men in Edonia, cellphone in hand, pictures upon pictures of men wrapped in hard cocoons, chrysalids, victims of a trap set by a woman who Chris had thought to be the freelance spy Ada Wong, but had since come to learn was her scorned doppelganger, Carla Radames.

"We're taking you back, Captain. One way or another." Piers had pulled Chris out of the dump he would still have been stuck in, had given him a new purpose, became his comrade and survived his Captain's reckless pursuit of "Ada".

They had been so close to ending the latest bio-terrorism attack. They had found Jake Mueller, the man who's blood would cure the C-Virus. Then there was the B.O.W., Haos. Jake had fled with his companion, Sherry Birkin, but Haos had no intention of letting Chris or Piers go.

Several shots from Piers' Anti-Materiel Rifle couldn't stop the enormous transluscent creature from swatting him aside, slamming him against a metallic pipe protruding from the wall, crushing his arm in the process before it turned its attention to Chris and ensnared him like an Anaconda would its prey, its vice grip unrelenting. Chris had seen Piers then, his broken body crawling over the wet metallic laboratory flooring, and Chris had tried shouting for him to stop but his voice failed him and he could only watch as Piers punched the needle he had been crawling toward into his arm, infecting himself with a new, unpredictable strain of the C-Virus in order to save his Captain.

The left side of Piers' face and his mangled arm had mutated horribly within seconds, and with his new bio-electricity producing trident appendage, he had blasted Haos and freed Chris, the two managing after a long struggle to seemingly defeat the 'Doomsday Weapon'.

The facility had been badly damaged from the brutality of the fight, Chris had carried Piers, placing a hand on his back, throwing Piers' arm over his shoulder.

"Piers, come on, just stay with me! You're gonna be okay!" Chris had known his words were lies, told only to make Piers - and himself- feel a sliver of hope, just enough so they could escape the collapsing underwater facility.

"I'm sorry, Captain. I did it for the BSAA. For the future..."

"I know, you did a real good thing."

"As long as you..."

"I don't want to hear it!" Chris perhaps in that moment knew. Knew what Piers had been trying to tell him all along, through his every action, his body language, the way he had always seemed to stare at Chris and then would look away as soon as his hungry eyes were met with completely oblivious ones. The way he had desperately searched for his Captain for 6 months, finding a shadow of the man he had respected and admired, but instead of leaving him to his own demise, lifted him back up, exalted him with what Chris now knew was a fierce adoration. Piers had been in love with him. And he, in his lust for revenge against the fake Ada Wong, had been utterly and stupidly blind to it. Had he have noticed, he too might have allowed himself to feel something else than hate and anger. Might have felt something for Piers. So he had lied, in that instance it had made him feel better. Feel better for failing as a leader and failing as a man who could have known love for once in his endless battlefield of a life, might have had the opportunity to come home to loving arms instead of another mission brief.

And so he had dragged Piers with him all the way to their supposed salvation. However, when they had reached the escape pod, Piers had refused to follow Chris into it, shrugging from his grip and throwing him inside, closing the door before he could react.

"Piers! No, don't do this! Open the door!" Chris had hammered at the circular window separating him from Piers as the lever was pushed that would separate them forever and the silent countdown begun. Piers only stared sadly back at him, knowing his fate was sealed as Chris shouted, "Goddamnit, listen to me! We can still both get out of here! There's still time!"

As Chris resigned himself to a simple, quiet "No", he had looked into those eyes one final time and then he was gone from sight as the pod was ejected from the doomed facility. The pod had surfaced minutes later after a final close encounter with Haos, attempting to crush Chris inside the pod but finally meeting its end by one last electric bolt consuming it from far below. Chris had known at that very moment as he stared out over the endless waters around him and heard helicopters approaching to extract him, that he had suffered his final loss at the hands of bio-terrorism.

So now he sat, alone at his circular table in the small establishment, save for a few patrons and a bartender who was eyeing the ruggedly handsome man in the brown jacket who was staring out in front of him, large hands clasped together on the table.

"Order up."

Chris heard the small clink of a plate placed down before him, looked down to the perfectly grilled medium rare steak surrounded by veg and greens, and nodded a thank you to the woman. Utensils in hand, he cut a piece of meat onto his fork just as Piers had so long ago, brought it to his mouth and chewed, savoring the flavor and texture of the meat as if he were tasting Piers for the first and final time.

He wished... Oh how he wished...

He felt a buzzing in his jean pocket and reached in to remove his cellphone, not recognizing the caller ID, but answered despite his growing contempt for the innumerous phone calls he had been receiving for the past 3 days, offering condolences and new assignments, neither of which interested him in the slightest.

"Chris Redfield." It was a female voice, and he knew the witty, cool and confident sound of it almost instantaneously. Ada Wong. "Despite running into you whenever I turn a corner, you were surprisingly challenging to track down."

"What do you want, Ada?" He sighed, hiding his surprize at the one person who he never in a million years would have expected a call from. Ada never called anyone. Ada was a ghost, dropping in and out whenever shit was hitting the fan, always being one step ahead of everyone and having an agenda of her own, despite occasionally showing some consideration for the safety of others, especially Leon S. Kennedy, a fellow survivor from Raccoon city and Secret Service agent allied with the BSAA. And despite the numerous times she had proven herself untrustworthy, Leon just never could seem to get her out of his system either.

"An apology would be a nice starting point." Chris had dogged her for days, hunted her relentlessly and recklessly through the streets of China, believing her to be the one responsible for the first Alpha Team's demise, and also the second team that had pursued her through Lanshiang. Only after she was 'killed', did the truth about her doppelganger come to light. Carla Radames, manipulated into taking part in a twisted experiment by Derek C. Simmons that transformed her into the object of his obsession, was the one behind all the deaths Chris carried with him. The real Ada, curious as always and attempting to discern the truth about the ruthless and inhumane actions she had never commited, often became caught in Chris' sights, narrowly escaping him.

Chris grunted into the receiving end of his cellular, mumbling a "Sorry."

"I think a charismatic, hot-blooded man like you can do better than that."

"I'm sorry!" His shout drew the attention of the bartender, and she raised her eyebrows as she continued filling up the ketchup bottle.

"Better. Your tone needs some work." She had always been an iceberg of a woman, never showing who she really is beneath the surface, instead always appearing cold and indifferent to whoever crossed paths with her. "Now do yourself a favor, and turn on the TV at the bar."

"How do you..."

"Tools of my trade. Watch the news, thank me later." The call ended abruptly.

Chris got up from his table and went over to where the bartender was wiping spilt ketchup from the counter, her irate demeanor lightening as he asked her to turn on the news.

Chris watched for roughly half a minute before he saw a Chinese reporter standing on a beach, her back turned to a large transluscent cocoon a few feet behind her, where it was surrounded by numerous scientists in full body suits. He read the scrolling bulletin at the bottom of the screen: 'Remnant of C-Virus outbreak found among wreckage on Chinese shore. BSAA to seize custody.'

Chris continued watching, and moments later, the cocoon began stirring, gently at first and then shaking, hatching. A human arm tore through the soft fleshy substance surrounding it, another following shortly after, and then the cocoon was ripped open wide and a nude man - completely covered in gunk - came forth from within.

Chris silently berated the reporter and scientists who all stood staring like lambs to the slaughter at the thing that had hatched from its egg. They were all moments away from getting butchered, he thought. When the 'man' wiped away the jellied mess from his face, Chris froze and his breath caught in his throat.

It was Piers. Chris could instantly recognize the deep gaunt of his cheeks, the slanted eyebrows and the natural slight pout of his lips even within the midst of the thickest crowd. His heart skipped a beat as he watched Piers stumbling forward, falling to his knees in the sand. The reporter backed away from him in fear, the camera zooming in on Piers. The mutations that had been prevalent on his left arm and face when Chris had last seen him alive were completely absent, save for some slight, barely noticeable scarring around his left eye.

A new bulletin moved across the bottom of the screen: 'B.O.W. identified as BSAA soldier Piers Nivans. BSAA en route to the scene.'

The bartender was startled as Chris suddenly took off, dashing for the door and almost leveling it on his way out. She looked over to the table where he had been sitting, sighing loudly as she realized he had left without finishing his steak.

And without paying...

Chapter Text

"What the hell were you thinking pulling a kamikaze stunt like that?!"
"These are my men. You follow my lead or I'll find someone who will."
"Do you even hear yourself?!"
...
"Fall in line soldier."

Echoes of the past ran through Chris' mind, from a time when he led his men to their deaths against a snake-like B.O.W., he had lost his focus. His personal motto of nobody getting left behind had been completely forgotten, making way for a new personal creed: Find Ada. Kill Ada. Instead, everyone else got killed, and their blood was on his hands.

But there was hope, one small way of perhaps redeeming himself. Against all odds, Piers had survived the explosion in the Neo-Umbrella underwater facility, his body wrapped in a round chrysalid that protected him from the fallout and carried him to the safety of a nearby beach. Now the BSAA had him. Quarantined in a hospital near the CDC main headquarters in Atlanta, keeping a close eye on him, running numerous invasive tests, sticking needles into every vein they can find to test his blood; using Piers as a dubious guinea pig.

Chris was sitting at a patio table outside of a Lounge bar a few blocks away from the hospital, waiting for the call back. He had made an appointment to see Piers earlier that morning, and the BSAA agreed to let him see him once they had discerned that he wasn't a time bomb that would explode upon receiving a friendly visitor.

Chris had to stop himself from just busting in to the hospital to see Piers, even though every minute that passed felt like an hour to him. Chris had learned through much effort and asking the right questions to the wrong people that Piers had been flown to Atlanta from China. He had been on the road for 6 hours, ignoring speed limits, not having stopped or slept, anxious to reach Atlanta from Washington D.C. He needed to know Piers was alright, was safe. He couldn't be absolutely fine with being poked and prodded repeatedly for 24 hours, despite being the bravest, most selfless soldier Chris had ever known. He must have reached his tolerance limit by now. Chris had tried getting an appointment the previous night, but the CDC had only referred him to their superiors who had told him that they needed to run some critical tests first.

Chris' waiter, a handsome young man of about 20 years old approached him from inside the lounge interior, carrying a plate of Beef Carpaccio which he set down before Chris with a pepper grinder and some Worcestershire sauce as he had requested.

"Are you sure you don't want anything to drink, sir? You sure look like you need one, if I may say so, sir."

"It's Chris, please, and no thank you, I'm in recovery. A glass of cranberry juice will do just fine. My sister might have a glass of Elements though."

"Sure thing, Chris. Shall I wait for her or should I place a specific order?" The waiter, whose name tag read 'David', was subtly flirting with Chris, the way he pronounced his name, the way he fiddled with his pen on his notepad, the shy smile that played on his lips.

"I think... Rain. No, wait. Fire." Chris ignored David's hints, unwrapping his cutlery from the neatly folded serviette next to his plate.

"Very well, Chris." David walked off back into the building, passing Claire Redfield as she was making her way over to the table, removing her sunglasses when she saw her brother. Chris stood when he saw her, moving to meet her halfway and wrapping her in a strong, tight hug, almost lifting her off the ground.

"Hey sis." He smiled brightly, something he hadn't done in a while. He hadn't seen her since before Edonia.

"Whoa big guy, keep this up and you won't have a sister for much longer." she pulled gently from the hug, placing a peck on both his dimpled cheeks. "I see you've started without me. That's not very nice!" she drew out the last word as she playfully slapped his arm, taking the seat he was holding out for her.

"Sorry, I'm starving, been on the road for like 6 hours."

"Well you must be terribly hungry to be eating... whatever that little piece of skin on your plate is."

"It's Carpaccio. It's healthy. Goes well with my exercise routine." Chris joined her at the table.

"A-ha. Well at least you're still exercising, good to know that you're not going to let yourself go now that you're retired." she mocked.

"I don't believe I'm familiar with those words. 'Let myself go'. What is that?" He mocked in return. Chris' large muscular body was his pride, and he had every intention of keeping it in top shape. If not for his work, for himself.

"Wait a minute, you said 6 hours? Didn't you drive from D.C?"

"Yeah. I was... well... I was concerned."

"It'll be alright, Chris." her voice came down to a more serious, empathetic tone as she reached out to him, the size of his hand allowing her to only partially cover it with her own. "I'm sure they'll just do what they need to, then give him the cure."

"Yeah, you're probably right. Don't know why I'm so worked up over this. He's alive. He's really alive."

"Yes, he is." She squeezed his hand before sitting back again. "He's going to be fine, Chris. You both are."

Chris smiled again, considering for a moment how he might have a second chance, how after all this time, he might finally find someone to care for, perhaps even love. If there was going to be someone like that for him, it would be Piers. Nothing had ever felt so right to him.

"Geez, where's our waiter? Oh! Did I tell you about that e-mail I got from Piers? Before what happened on the island?" Claire chimed, distracting herself from her impatience.

"Uh no, I don't think you did. What did he say?"

"Well first of all he complimented me on not being as big as you, and apologizing for the way all the other guys on Alpha stared at me..." she smiled as she took her cellphone from her pocket, searching for the email to repeat the words Piers had written to her. "And then he talked about how much he admires you and he asked me, and I quote, 'Just between you and me, if you have any pictures of the Captain when he was younger, I'd sure love to see them!'"

"A-ha, so your point is..." Chris twisted the grinder to sprinkle some pepper on his Carpaccio.

"My point is, my beloved big brother, that I have really good gay-dar. And he's obviously got the hots for you."

"Oh sure, just because he wasn't eyeballing you like the rest of the team and asked for some pictures, that just screams gay."

David approached the table again, apologizing for the delay as he set their drinks down, having confused Claire's wine and giving an order for raspberry juice instead of cranberry. He stuttered as he explained, but Claire just winked at him.

"It's okay, kid. I used to do a stint as a waitress back in the day, I get it. How about you go fetch us some ice and we'll call it even?"

"Oh crap..." David sped back inside to go fetch the ice for Claire's wine, returning moments later. "I am so sorry! I'm a bit flustered, it won't happen again, I promise."

"David. It's okay." Chris calmed him. "We're not the assholes who come in just to sit here and make your life miserable."

David blushed then, a flustered little laugh escaping his lips as he blew his dark brown fringe up over his forehead, turning toward Claire. "So what can I get for you?"

"I'm fine for now, I just ate an hour ago, but thank you, David."

"Alright, well if you need anything, anything at all." He looked right at Chris when he said it, and Claire bit her bottom lip in restrained amusement.

When David was out of earshot, Claire let loose.

"Like I know that guy is gay and has the hots for you. Just like Piers."

"Alright, alright, so you're right about that guy. Doesn't mean you're right about Piers."

Claire eyed him, dropping three cubes of ice into her wine, and taking a small sip.

"Nice. Fire. You remembered."

"Of course, how could I forget?" Chris kept the real reason for the waiter's confusion to himself, not wanting to remind himself and Claire of how little time they actually spent in each other’s company. Instead he started cutting the meat on his plate into little strips, peppering every piece some more with the grinder and dipping it in the Worcestershire sauce he had poured into the small bowl next to his plate.

Claire sat with her wine glass held against her chest, watching her brother eat, deciding finally to ask the question he must have known was coming.

"Do you love him?"

Chris stopped chewing long enough to ask, "Love who?"

"Santa-freakin'-Claus, who do you think, smartass?"

Chris didn't answer, as if the question had never been asked.

"Well, I'll take that as a maybe. I know you at the very least care enough for him to be sitting here waiting for the call to go see him, and probably racked up over a 1000 dollars' worth of speeding fines just to get here as soon as humanly possible."

"Claire, I think you should stop over-analyzing this thing between me and Piers."

"Ahhhh, so there is a thing?"

"You're twisting my words."

"Oh no," she chuckled, "I believe your exact words were 'this thing between me and Piers'. No twisting required."

"Twisting their meaning."

"Yeah." she leaned her arm over the chair, swishing the wine in her glass. "Keep telling yourself that."

He dropped his cutlery on the plate and swallowed the piece of raw meat he had been chewing on. "Okay, you have my attention. What are you trying to accomplish here?"

"I just want you to be happy."

"What makes you think I'm not?"

She snorted into her wine, swallowing what was in her mouth. "You might think that everybody buys into that mask you put up, looks past that lonely look in your eyes, I don't. I grew up looking into those eyes every day." She leaned forward again, staring intently.

"I know, Chris. You left the BSAA for a reason. You've been saving the world from crisis after crisis, never slowing down long enough to let anybody in. Nobody except me, and I can't fill that room in your heart that has never even been unlocked. That spot is reserved for somebody else. Someone like Piers."

Chris broke eye contact with her, looking down at her wine glass, thinking about how right she was. How he had never let anyone get close enough to him, hadn't allowed himself to care about anything but his missions. After skipping college he had joined the US Air Force, made a lot of time for Claire, teaching her how to defend herself. He eventually ended up in Raccoon City, joining the S.T.A.R.S. force, then Rockfort Island and Antactica, then the seemingly endless pursuit of Albert Wesker, then his arduous BSAA training, then Africa, Singapore, Edonia and finally China. Every moment between was saved for Claire, when she wasn't trapped on an island somewhere or busy with yet another TerraSave campaign. Chris had never allowed himself to even consider opening himself up for anything but work.

"You're not getting any younger, Chris. This might sound harsh, but you're heading for 50. You don't want to grow old and grey alone, do you?" She took the last drops of wine into her mouth and set down her empty glass on the table.

"I don't plan on growing old..." He smiled, taking Claire's hands in his. "...but I don't know, maybe you're right."

"I am right. You've given enough of yourself to the world. You deserve at least that much. A chance to be happy. Not happy because of what you've accomplished, but happy because of what you have."

She returned his smile in earnest, watching as a fire lit up in his eyes. A fire that had never been there before. She knew her words had hit home. Then the moment between them was interrupted by the buzzing of Chris' cellphone on the table next to his empty plate.

Chris saw the familiar name on the caller ID and his heart began pounding in his broad chest, the invisible fingers of anxiety pressing hard against his temples as he answered without sparing another second.

"Jill?"

"Chris." Jill Valentine's voice lacked the usual warmth toward her old S.T.A.R.S. partner and co-founder of the BSAA, having clearly expressed her disappointment in Chris' decision to leave 'the good fight' in favor of living the rest of his years out in peace. Chris couldn't understand why she was so upset about his retirement, and she couldn't understand why he would want to retire when the BSAA needed him most, leaving her alone with the organization they had founded together alongside some outside investors but a decade ago. Nevertheless, he now needed her permission to see Piers as she was running the show, and so he ignored the fact that she had authorized all those endless tests on Piers and made his best attempt to be civil.

"How is he? May I see him?"

"You may see him. Your authorization code is Delta Samuel Marcus Edward seven seven three nine."

"Thank you, Jill. Does he need any..." she ended the call, "...thing." He exited the call screen, unable to feel concern over Jill's attitude, instead only feeling the tension building in his chest, his heart threatening to leap up into his throat.

"She really doesn't understand the concept of retirement, does she?" Claire folded her arms, unimpressed by Jill's petty attitude.

Chris made a small apathetic sound, getting up from his chair and reaching for his wallet on the table.

"No that's okay, I still owe you big time for Vegas." Claire waved her hand in protest.

"Fair point." Chris glowed as he removed his jacket from around his chair and shrugged into it easily. "You sure you don't wanna come with me?"

"No, that's okay, I still need to go meet up with Leon at the Atlanta office to discuss Helena's transfer to TerraSave. Don't think she really wants to be on the front lines anymore."

"Alright." He exhaled loudly as he straightened his jacket. "Wish me luck?"

"You don't need luck. You need balls."

He laughed then, an exceptionally rare occurrence, even to Claire who had known him her whole life.

"Love you." she leaned up with her cheek turned toward him and he gave it a kiss.

"Love you too, sis."

And then he was dashing for the door, minutes away from finally seeing Piers again.

---

The hospital hallways reeked of antiseptic, a smell that Chris never liked before and now even less. He stepped into the elevator and rode it up to the fifth floor, where he had been instructed by the receptionist to take the stairs up to the otherwise closed off sixth floor where Piers was being held. At the foot of the stairs he recited the code Jill had assigned to him to the five armed men standing guard, and they allowed him passage. He followed the linear hallway of the sixth floor to where another twelve guards stood watch in front of large sliding doors.

He could hear the beeping of monitors coming from within the room. He wondered if the C-Virus in Piers' system perhaps enhanced his perception and that he knew Chris was coming. He hoped he was looking forward to their imminent reunion as much as he was. He had so many things he wanted to say but he didn't quite know if he knew how to say them. There were so many emotions running amok in his mind, most of them completely unfamiliar to him, he didn't quite know how to put them into words, but he sure as hell was going to try.

Piers, I've missed you? No. Too wimpy.
Piers, are you alright? Of course he isn't.
Piers, are you... you? Shit, what was that?
Piers, I care about you? Too friendly.
Piers, I like you? Too high school.
Piers, I think you're hot? Too shallow.
Piers, I...

"Identification, please?" The leader in the Riot suit asked as Chris came close enough, his voice muffled by the helmet that completely hid his face from view.

"Chris Redfield, code DSME 7739."

The leader typed the code into the electronic device on his wrist, and nodded. "Authorization accepted." The men moved away from the door, allowing Chris access. "You might want to wear a quarantine suit to protect you from possible infection."

"No need, I'll be fine."

"We strongly suggest..."

"Noted, but I still don't give a shit." It was true. If Chris got infected, so be it, but he wasn't going to strut in there with a gigantic space suit around him, treating Piers like some lab experiment like everyone else was; like some disease that he needed protection from. It was still Piers, and Chris hoped... no... believed that he was safe enough in Piers' presence without some ridiculous suit between them.

He took a breath, and moved past the guards, lifting the plastic sheet covered with the quarantine symbol and stepped into the room.

When he entered, he was greeted by a faint smell he was all too familiar with. He had spent many days in the field with Piers, the heat of battle causing perspiration to form beneath their body armour, their bodily scents seeping into the air. Chris knew Piers' smell. In fact, he had grown rather fond of it.

He moved forward to the hospital bed, hidden behind a thick beige curtain, and pulled it back to reveal the perfectly normal sight of a perfectly normal man lying in bed, his head propped up on three pillows, the rest of his body covered with a thin white sheet. His eyes were closed and his chest rose and fell with each serene breath that filled his lungs.

Chris slowly stepped toward him, staring at his face, noticing the lightly creased skin around his left eye that was the only indication of his infection. The shape of his arm beneath the sheet looked normal, and Chris found himself touching it through the thin fabric, running his hand along it and toward the shoulder.

He had never touched Piers like this before, he realized. It had always been a slap or pat on the back, a firm, reassuring hand on his shoulder, a hard shove when they had their disagreements, a fist in his face when he had dragged him out of that bar in Europe. This was different. Chris was touching him, fingers now trailing over the bare skin of his collarbone. Softly, almost sensually. Chris found himself wondering if Piers was completely naked beneath the sheet, but quickly shaked the thought from his mind. He removed his fingers as they reached his chin, lifting his hand higher to rest on his head, fingers brushing through short, silky hair.

Chris choked out a small sound of overwhelming relief as he felt himself tear up, his vision blurring at the joy and disbelief of touching ever so softly the man he thought had been lost to him forever. Reality finally started sinking in. Piers was indeed alive. Now it wasn't just spoken words and TV screens, but Piers, alive before him, he was real. Alive.

A single tear escaped the corner of Chris' eye, which he quickly wiped away with the back of his hand. He placed the same hand on Piers' chest, feeling the steady rhythm of his heart beating. Chris let go of his self-restraint and lowered his head to that exact spot, placing his ear lightly against the fabric, and listening to the soft thumping.

He had never heard a more beautiful sound in his entire life. Right then and there, Chris knew a sort of happiness that was completely alien to him. It frightened him beyond compare while also drawing him in, refusing to let him go. He felt himself smiling, closing his eyes and just listening.

"Captain?"

Chris jerked his head back, meeting the gaze of slightly confused but simultaneously welcoming hazel eyes. They stared at one another for what felt like hours before Chris finally said the first thing that came to his mind just as it had before, despite knowing he sounded like a total wimp.

"Piers. I've missed you."

Chapter Text

The relentless beeping of the heart rate monitor was the only audible sound in the room, echoing off the walls and breaking the silence that lingered between Chris and Piers. After what felt like an eternity, Chris sat back down on the hospital bed, feeling like an utter pussy for having emasculated himself with such an honest confession. He had very rarely shown such a humble, vulnerable side to Piers, because he had been the Captain, the one that had needed to be strong for everyone, even Piers. But then it dawned on him then that he was not the Captain anymore, and Piers wasn't his second-in-command. They were just two men, two men who cared deeply for one another.

"They treating you okay?" was all he could come up with, despite having other topics in mind.

"They have a right to be concerned. I..." Piers trailed off, unable to face the fact that he was no longer altogether human, instead diverting the spotlight to Chris. "So you turned in your gun after all."

"How did you know?"

"Jill. She's just oozing with gratitude about it."

"You surprised?"

"No, just... disappointed, I guess."

"Don't tell me you're taking her side on this."

"I'm not, retiring is your decision and I respect that, but the main reason I joined the BSAA is because you wanted me to. I joined so I could serve under you. So I could..." be close to you, is what Piers wanted to say, but stopped himself from admitting that he had been crushing on the legendary Chris Redfield since he was but a teenager. "I don't think I could ever be the man that you are."

"No you couldn't." Chris replied, attempting to lighten the mood, but then his expression turned serious. "You'll far surpass me."

"Maybe I don't want to surpass you! You think I want to do this alone? I want to grow old telling tall tales of how I saved the world time and time again alongside none other than Chris Redfield, the goddamn hero of the BSAA! Without you, I don't see any point. None at all." Piers winced as the IV-needle in his arm pulled at his skin as he sat up and crossed his arms in frustrated protest.

Chris swallowed the excess spittle that gathered in his mouth at Piers' words and the sight of his toned chest being bared as the sheet slipped down. He quickly looked away as he felt desire stir within him.

"If you're done, then I'm done. That's it. I doubt the BSAA will want me back anyway, now that I'm infected."

"There's a cure. Didn't Jill tell you that?"

"There's a cure for the C-Virus. That vial we picked up, that wasn't the C-Virus, you saw what it did to me. That was something else."

Chris felt the familiar pressure of anxiety in his chest. Piers was right, when they had picked up the vial Carla had dropped, it was the same strain she had used to infect Simmons with, and he remembered reading in Leon's report that Simmons had turned into something truly monstrous as a result. Something that had been incredibly difficult to put down. Would that eventually happen to Piers, he wondered fearfully?

"What happened to you down there?" Chris dared to ask, needing to know how Piers had survived the explosion.

"I don't know. It's all a bit fuzzy, like a dream I had and can't seem to remember. All I remember is I saw you, your pod being crushed and then something happened, I don't know what but then everything went dark. Next thing I knew, I was trapped inside something, needed to get out, then there was the beach, the ocean. I felt like I couldn't walk, like I had somehow forgotten how to use my feet. I still don't know if I can." Piers became silent, looking down at his regenerated arm and a pained expression lined his features. "Chris... What am I?"

"You're still you, Piers. Nothing is wrong with you, can't you see that? You're in full control."

"Even if I am in control of it now, who's to say this thing inside of me isn't just biding its time, waiting to hatch?"

Chris remembered the way Piers had hatched from his cocoon, emerging, it seemed, as the man he was before, save for the light scarring around his eye.

"I know you, Piers. You're stronger than that. You beat this thing once, you can again."

"That's your opinion. I'm pretty sure not everyone shares it. Who's to say that once all these tests on me are done that they're not just gonna cap me?"

Chris turned to him then, meeting his eyes in a determined and sincere gaze that nearly made Piers gasp.

"I won't let anything happen to you. Never again. Do you hear me?" Chris reached forward, wrapping his hand around the back of Piers' head and bringing his forehead forward to rest against his own. "Never again."

Piers nodded slightly, desperately fighting the urge to just edge a little bit forward and place his lips on those of his former Captain. His hands tightened in the sheets covering his indecency as he forced his desires back, just as he always had. Despite this, he saw something in Chris' eyes, something that had never been there before. Chris was staring at him with a passion he had never seen in all the years he had known him, searching his eyes for something.

He realized that he was holding his breath, and let it out with a small shudder that he hoped Chris would mistake for fear for his own life instead of excitement at the closeness they shared, their faces barely an inch apart. He gripped the sheets tighter, his heart-rate monitor betraying his anticipation.

Chris wasn't moving his hand from where it was placed on the back of his head, fingers slowly running through his short bristly hair. The effect was intoxicating and Piers was struggling against the pride within himself that demanded he release himself from the innocent and unbearably tender grip Chris was holding him in, his soul and his heart begging him to just give in, like he had always wanted.

Then the grip tightened some, Chris cupping his head and pulling him in, ever so slowly... Their eyes closing as the tips of their noses touched and the monitor beeped as if it were a warning for them to stop. Their lips moved closer, ever closer...

"Visiting hour is over." Chris snapped his head around to where the Riot Officer stood in the door behind him, machine gun held firmly between his hands.

Chris took all of 5 seconds to collect himself from where he had almost sealed his fate with Piers.

"There must be some mistake, I just got here. It hasn't even been 10 minutes."

"Visiting hours are 10 minutes." The man said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Then why the hell would you call them visiting hours?"

An uncomfortable moment of silence hung between them before the Riot Officer spoke.

"Please evacuate the room, sir."

Chris looked to where Piers sat back against his pillows, his expression of profound disorientation regarding the moment that had passed between them matching his own. He looked up at Chris, and nodded slightly.

"It's okay, Chris."

For a moment, a hundred ideas ran through Chris' mind, fighting for dominance. He wanted to stay, to explore what was happening between them, to admit their undeniable attraction. He wanted to whisk Piers away to a place where they would never be found. He wanted to shove the Riot Officer's mask so far up his ass that every time he took a step the pain would be there to remind him that he’d screwed with Chris Redfield and the man he wanted, needed more than anything. He wanted to take the machine gun, wipe out every person standing between them and the exit and just bolt. He wanted to call Jill and tell her what a bitch she was for authorizing all of this. He wanted to kiss Piers then, just shove his mouth onto his and claim him right there in one final act before he'd be riddled with bullets. Then the most reasonable, though least favored thought triumphed in his mind.

"You'll see me again, Piers. I'm not gonna lose you. Never again."

Piers' hazel eyes grew wide at the admission that would have at the start of their short conversation seemed brotherly and platonic but now, after the kiss they had almost shared, was a subtle way of Chris admitting his affection, that there was definitely something developing between them, finally, impossibly, after all they'd been through.

"Chris..." Piers stopped Chris, grabbing his arm gently as he stood to leave. "I've missed you too."

"I'll come back. That's a promise."

"You better." Piers let go of his arm, and it took every ounce of Chris' willpower to separate himself from him again, to leave him in hands that had intentions he could not fathom. With an audible sigh, he turned to leave, the Riot Officer escorting him from the room.

---

Upon leaving the hospital, Chris’ mind was awash with thoughts. Piers hadn't stopped him, when he pulled him in closer for the kiss that should have happened, he didn't pull back, didn't protest, he just... went with it. Claire was right. She was so right.

He couldn't believe his luck, nor the stupid smile he couldn't seem to shrug off. He felt like he was back in high school, all those giddy feelings running through his stomach and dancing in his mind. His adrenaline pumped and he felt like he could get on his bike and race off into the sunset, just feel the exhilaration of being so wonderfully, despicably happy.

He did a little tap with his foot on the pavement as he reached his bike, a well maintained KTM RC8R. He hopped on, gripping the cool metal between his thighs and just sat for a while, allowing himself to come down from that place where he’d been completely drunk on Piers.

He nearly fell off his bike with a start as the vibration in his jean pocket snapped him back to his sober reality. He checked the caller ID.

"Hey stranger. Long time no see. You won't believe..."

"Chris, shut up and listen to me." Claire's voice was panicked, urgent. "The BSAA have just ordered Piers' termination. Jill authorized it."

"Claire, I... that's... no! I was just there with him!"

"I'm here with Leon, he just told me that they plan on killing him at 5pm sharp. Chris, do you hear what I'm saying?"

Chris felt his throat tighten, drops of sweat forming under his hairline and his grip on his cellular growing dangerously tight. His mind became blank as his sister's words rang loudly from the ear piece.

"Chris, get him out of there! You need to get him out of there now!" He spared a moment to glance at his watch, his faithful watch that had survived the entire C-Virus incident. His heart nearly stopped. It was 5pm.

---

When Chris rushed back into the hospital, dodging and pushing people out of the way, he realized that some people were running down the stairs ahead, screaming in fear. Three little words crashed into the walls of his mind repeatedly, "Please be alive.", the mantra speeding him dangerously onward until he was slipping on the hospital floor right before the steps leading up, his head crashing into the jutting tiled brick.

The world spun around him, he couldn't see much of anything, his hand reaching for the throbbing place above his ear and feeling warm wetness seeping from the gash. He forced himself up and willed his feet to move, unsteady at first. Moments later he was dashing up the stairs, past more screaming patients and nurses, climbing upwards until he reached the sixth floor.

Blood covered the walls and floor, the previously white marble surfaces redecorated with a sickeningly gory red. And amidst all of this, Piers walked slowly, calmly, almost seductively toward Chris. Chris almost didn't recognize him. He was naked but covered from head to toe in blood, which Chris assumed belonged to the riot team that had tried to kill him.

Despite the grotesque sight before him, Chris could not feel disgust, instead only an overwhelming relief that Piers had survived the kill order.

"Piers!" Chris called out to him, but no reply came, just step by audibly wet step of an eerily silent man walking toward him.

Chris spotted something behind Piers. The Riot Officer was creeping up behind him, machine gun ready and pointed at its target.

"Piers, look out!" Chris shouted just as the riot leader began firing on him. He didn't turn around, but something happened in that split second, right when the bullets were about to connect, they were flying in opposite directions, swatted away with incredible speed by something seemingly attached to Piers, but invisible to the naked eye.

The next moment, the Riot Officer's left arm was sliced off by that same lightning fast appendage, his right arm flying from his body moments later. Blood gushed from the stumps where his arms had been but mere seconds ago. A pained, terrified scream came from behind the man's mask as his legs were sliced off one by one as well, cut with the clean precision of a surgeon amputating his patient's limbs. And then finally, as the limbless torso fell to the ground with a flop and it thrashed about helplessly for a while, his head went as well, rolling down the red isle like an obscene bowling ball, past Piers, finally losing momentum and coming to a halt against Chris' boot.

Chris stared down at it in shock, not believing the carnage that Piers had just proven himself capable of. The Piers he knew would never do that. Could never do that... He looked up, fear radiating from him as he took a step away from Piers, noticing for the first time two long, sharp skeletal protrusions coming up from behind him, presumably from his back. They must be the tools of all this destruction, Chris realized.

"Piers?" Chris whispered as he came face to bloodied face with the man he’d come to care for so deeply. Fierce eyes bore into him like daggers, seemingly finding an odd sort of triumph in the fear that he had invoked.

"Still want to kiss me now, Captain?"

Chapter Text

Chris closed the door to the bathroom, leaving Piers alone to clean himself up as demanded. They’d arrived in Georgetown an hour ago; it was way past midnight.

Chris remembered the phone call, as he’d stood face to face with Piers after witnessing him dismember the last man of the riot squad that had been stationed outside of his hospital room. The vibration in his pocket nearly didn't register with him as Piers stared him down, the deep green-brown eyes searching his for a hint of fear or disgust but not finding any.

"You gonna get that, Captain?" He had asked, his voice not shifting from its even and cold tone, and Chris reached into the pocket of his jeans.

Unknown number.

"Chris here."

"I assume that Piers is awake and has no doubt displayed his secret weapon by now."

"Ada."

"Listen to me Chris, we don't have time for why's and what's right now. What you need to do is take Piers, ditch the bike for the Toyota Corrolla you will find parked behind it and drive him to Georgetown. Drive fast but not too fast, you don't want to draw unwanted attention to yourself. I'll send you the exact coordinates to a house where you will be safe for a while. I will contact you again once you’ve settled in. I've hacked your cell and placed firewalls to stop them from tracking you, so no need to get rid of it. They will call you but they won't be able to trace the call or find you through gps."

"What are you getting out of this, Ada?"

"Like I said, this isn't the time or the place. Just get him there, Chris. I'll explain everything later. All you need to know for now is that I'm on your side. I want him out of there in one piece just as much as you do."

Their escape from the hospital wasn't easy, but Chris had resigned himself to the carnage it would entail. Even if it meant that he would be hunted for the rest of his days by the very organization he had founded, he would do it without a second thought to prevent him losing Piers again. He made a promise and he would see it through, no matter the cost.

Their way out was hampered by dozens of armed men from different strike forces. Riot, BSAA and Secret Service had all sent their best men to put Piers down. Chris found himself firing on people he knew, BSAA operatives. He didn't shoot to kill, instead firing warning shots to get them to take cover and he was met with equal restraint, as if the men that had served under him all those years were missing their target on purpose. The men from Riot and Secret Service were not as friendly however, and a bullet barely missed Chris' arm. Piers hadn't been as merciful. He disposed of the men in his way with frightening ease, sending some crashing helplessly into surfaces where their bodies were broken by the incredible force, impaling others with his extra 'limbs', cutting those who approached in half, spraying blood on the men behind them who were then skewered together like two pieces of meat on a giant kebab.

Waves of armed men had fallen before him and Chris hadn’t even needed to fire a single bullet. Despite the horror of it, Chris knew that Piers wouldn't have murdered them had they not attacked him, and he found an odd sense of peace in that, brutal as the violence was. As they finally reached the exit and made their way to the car Ada had left for them, Piers had begun hyper-ventilating and shaking and Chris had had to carry him to their ride, placing his blood-soaked body in the back seat and hurrying to the driver side.

Piers had passed out not long after they left the city bounds, Chris cautiously observing every car they passed, knowing they weren't out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. He had received two phone calls on the road; the first was from Claire, pleading with Chris to be careful and to let her know when they were somewhere safe. The second one had come from Jill, and her words rang in his mind even now.

"You turned your back on everything we stood for and I accepted it, but this... You are harboring a threat to humanity, Chris. That is unacceptable. We will find it. We will kill it. And if you choose to die protecting that thing, so be it. You have been warned."

Chris hadn't had the chance to respond to the icy voice on the other end of the line before the call ended abruptly. He silently wondered how Jill could be acting like this, like a crazy purist. He thought he knew her, thought he could trust her, but a few hours ago she had declared war on him. He felt regret, a deep regret at the way things had become so wretched between them.

Chris had followed the coordinates that Ada had sent to him as she promised she would. It was a quaint, one-story house with a small garden on the outskirts of Georgetown, away from the bustle at the center and the dangers of detection. Chris had found keys inside a plastic rock next to the porch and used it to unlock the door. He had carried Piers from the car and into the house with ease, laying him down on the couch in the well-furnished living room just to the right of the front door. He had then turned back and locked the front door, scoffing to himself at the small sense of false security it provided. The bathroom was just down the hall and to the right, and he had run Piers a warm bath. He’d been awake when he returned for him, but only barely. Although Chris had had to support him to the bathroom, Piers had insisted on bathing himself and Chris had reluctantly backed down, knowing the look in the green-brown eyes brooked no argument.

The call came as soon as he found the kitchen.

"How is he?" Ada asked nonchalantly, betraying not a hint of concern.

"I don't know. He slept the whole way and he's barely spoken to me since he woke up. He's taking a bath now, washing the...uh...blood off."

"Yes, I heard. Settle him in, get him comfortable. I'll meet you at the abandoned house across the street in half an hour."

The call ended and Chris slipped his cellphone back into his pocket. He found mugs in one of the cupboards and switched on the filter coffee machine, the sugar was packed out neatly on the counter next to it. Had she planned this in advance, he wondered? He drank his coffee black with one sugar. Not long after, he heard the bathroom door opening and the sound of wet footsteps padding softly down the hall, the slender but toned body coming through the doorway, the towel around his waist covering only which was necessary. Piers took a seat at the kitchen table, and brought his clasped hands to his lips with his elbows resting on the table surface. He glanced at Chris before quickly looking away.

"Could you make me one of those?" His voice was soft and Chris thought he could detect a hint of shame in the way he spoke.

"How do you take it?"

"Strong, lots of milk, three sugars."

Chris brewed him a cup, finding milk in the well-stocked refridgerator.

"You hungry? There's a whole grocery store in here."

Piers shook his head as the coffee was set down before him.

"Where are we, Chris? And why are you helping me? You saw what I did to those men. You know what I'm capable of. Why are you still here?"

"I'm here because I want to be. Because I care about you."

"They'll kill you, don't you get that?"

"I know." Chris whispered sadly but full of resolve.

"You should go. I can take care of myself. Go apologize, I'm sure they'll forgive you."

"I'm not leaving you."

"I could make you leave!" He raised his voice and slammed his fist down on the table, coffee spilling over the cup he hadn't even touched yet and staining the white linen.

Chris didn't blink, instead he moved around the table and knelt next to Piers, their gazes level.

"The only way I'm leaving here is in a body bag."

"Why are you so..." Piers jumped out of his chair with a furious growl and then turned back to face him. "Just leave! I won't have your death on my conscience, alright?! Just go, get out of here!"

"I'm. Not. Leaving." Chris drew the words out to make his point clear. "You might not want my help or need it, but I want to be here. Need to be. That's my final word on the matter."

"You're a stubborn ass. You always were. Why won't you listen to me? I'm a monster! You saw what I did!"

Chris rose up and approached him. "Do you remember what happened the last time we saw each other down in the facility?"

Piers nodded, instinctively touching his face where it had been a mass of infected flesh and breathing a sigh as his fingers found smooth skin. "What about it?"

"That will never happen again, do you hear me?" Chris spoke softly, but his words were filled with steel and fire. "I lost you once, I am never going to lose you again."

"I wasn't yours to lose." Piers tried to shove Chris away, to get him to leave, but he felt himself losing control of the situation. Chris was so close to him now, and he backed up more to create some distance between them.

"You know that's not what I mean." He reached his hand toward Piers, but he dodged it and backed himself up against the kitchen sink. Chris didn't advance, instead trying a different approach. "You mean everything to me, Piers. Without you I was lost. I gave up, lost my will to fight."

"You have Claire." Piers didn't know why he kept struggling, why he didn't want Chris to continue saying such horribly beautiful things to him.

"Claire is my sister and I love her, but without you there was a void a nothingness where you once were. You were my partner, my comrade, my friend, but you were so much more than that. I was just too much of an idiot to see it and I'm sorry."

Piers sighed, crossing his arms over his chest to hug himself. "What are you trying to say, Chris?"

Chris risked taking a step forward, and then another, bringing himself in close enough to whisper. "I'm saying I care about you. No, more than care. I think I'm in love with you." He’d said it, and he couldn't believe it came out so easily.

The lines in the younger man's brow smoothed then, as if Piers had just stepped out of blinding sunlight and into a dimly lit room. He blinked with confused disbelief and his eyes seemed to sparkle as his lips parted and he exhaled a small breath of vulnerability. He let his arms relax as he stopped hugging himself, instead reaching for Chris, one hand finding the soft pulse beneath the hard chest, the other slipping over a firm shoulder. Piers looked into the deep brown eyes before him as if to ask permission, as if pleading to be wanted, and they answered with an unspoken promise of eternal and unconditional love.

And then it happened, one moment Piers was breathing hard against his lips, the next his hand was on the back of Chris' neck, pulling him in and their lips crashed together. Desperate hands moved along his back and grasped at the prominent muscles beneath his shirt.

The way they kissed stirred something in Chris, awakening desires he had never experienced before. He felt himself become hard, his own hands exploring the younger body in earnest, easily picking Piers up into his arms and holding him close. The towel barely stayed in place as Piers’ legs wrapped around his waist and his arms around his neck.

Piers kissed with an abandon and an aggressive hunger that nearly made Chris reel and drop him, but instead he lifted a hand to his face and pushed him away gently, the other arm still holding him up. Chris could see the marvel in Piers’ eyes at how strong he was, how effortlessly he could keep him suspended. He brushed his hand across Piers' cheek and then softly, gently, placed a loving kiss on full lips, a kiss as pure as first love and the longing of a man that has waited a lifetime for what he now held in his arms. Piers wasn't used to this, Chris could tell; but he surrendered to it easily enough.

Their lips explored, caressed, discovered. Piers darted his tongue forward to find his former Captain's, but Chris kissed almost chastely, not allowing the kiss to be anything but a declaration of how he felt, of his adoration and not his lust. They stayed that way for what felt like hours, their bodies and lips locked together. Chris was amazed at his own self-restraint, and so was Piers, who finally broke away, out of breath and smiling like he had never smiled before, a small laugh escaping from deep within him.

"You have no idea how long I've waited to hear you say that." Piers managed just as a buzzing came from Chris' pocket.

Chris reluctantly and gently placed Piers down, reaching for his cellphone, fingers shaking with adrenaline, fumbling clumsily in his pocket.

"Uh...Chris here."

"I don't like waiting around, especially not for a man."

"Sorry Ada, I'll be right there. I got a little distracted." Chris couldn't stop himself from smiling.

"Of course you did. You'll have plenty of time to have at him later. Right now, we need to discuss the terms of your stay."

The smile faded from his lips when he heard that, suddenly remembering that he and Piers were completely at her mercy. "I'll be there in a minute." The call ended.

Chris turned back to Piers and saw the concern on his face. "What does she want?"

Chris didn't tell him that Ada was particularly interested in his safety, not wanting to concern him until he knew more. "I don't know yet, but she helped us."

"Exactly my point. Ada doesn't help people. Not without a personal stake."

"Well, that's what I'm about to find out." He took Piers' face into his hands and kissed him softly. "I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."

Piers wrapped his hands around Chris' wrists, and nodded gently. "I know."

They kissed one final time before he left to go meet the woman who would either prove to be their greatest ally, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Chapter Text

The silence in the house was deafening, the faint buzz of the eerie quiet rang in his ears as Piers sat in the perfect darkness of the living room, staring out into the nothing before him. He’d got dressed right after Chris had left, finding numerous items of clothing in the large bedroom, neatly folded and stacked in the cupboard. He had picked comfort over style, opting to go without a shirt, shrugging into a pair of blue track pants.

The curtains behind the antique sofa on which he sat were open, but there was no light from outside that could have lit the small sitting room, nothing but black emptiness. He sat for the longest time, his hands clasped together, resting on his lap and then he took a deep breath as his thoughts came to the simplest of conclusions. He then calmly rose from the sofa, and made his way to the kitchen where he drew open the utensil drawer and began searching for a very sharp knife.

---

"About time." Ada's voice came from behind Chris the moment before his fist met the front door of the abandoned house. He spun around with a start and his hand grabbed at the gun that wasn't there, an instinctive reflex that he knew would stay with him until the day he died. Her black leather outfit was as dark as the night around her, in stark contrast to her pale face and her lips behind the crimson lipstick she wore, betrayed a hint of amusement. "What? You thought I was going to be waiting inside that place? What kind of woman do you think I am? Points for the phantom gun though. Cute."

"Why are you helping us?" Chris skipped the pleasantries as she walked closer at a leisurely pace, her dark brown, chin-length hair rustling in the night breeze.

"Because I'm such a kind, generous person." Her jocular remark was met with a deathly serious glare from Chris. "Your superb sense of humour is such an inspiration to behold." She sighed.

"Sorry if I don't find the situation the least bit amusing."

"Lighten up, Chris, you're both safe, for now. The BSAA lacks a foothold in Georgetown."

"There's a price tag to that safety though, right?"

"Of course there is. First thing's first." She reached inside her open jacket and tossed a pistol at Chris, which he caught and recognized it as the Nine-oh-Nine that he had used during his mission in China. "You might be needing that."

"My gun? How did you... Never mind I don't wanna know. You're trusting me with this? How do you know I won't use it on you?" Chris asked calmly while he checked the magazine and found it to be fully loaded with 15 rounds.

"Because you might be a trigger happy veteran, but you're not an idiotic trigger happy veteran. You want to be pointing that at the real enemy if they happen to find you. And you know that if you kill me, you and Piers will be completely alone in this fight. You need me, whether you like it or not."

"Why is he such a threat to everyone? He's still the same person!" Chris felt his anger rising up, spilling over into his words.

"He's not a threat to everyone; he's a threat to her." She didn't mention the name, but he knew she was referring to Jill.

"Do you know something I don't? She was my friend, I'm still finding it hard to believe that she could be so ruthless. If there's something you're not telling me, I need to know. Please."

The confident smile on her lips stretched even wider at hearing the word 'please' coming from him. "I like this new side of you. I prefer your new-found humility over your single-minded desire to put a bullet in me just a few weeks ago."

"Listen, about that... I had no idea that you had a doppelganger running around, nobody did. If you had just come forward and told me..."

"You would've shot me before I could get a word out. I don't take it personally, it's just how you soldier-boy types behave. Shoot first then ask questions, right?" He found it hard to be offended by her statement, because it was the truth. She wouldn't have stood a chance of explaining herself, and even if she had, he probably wouldn't have believed her. And then she would never have helped them, meaning he and Piers wouldn't have made it out of Atlanta alive.

"You still haven't answered my question, why are you helping us?" He holstered his newly acquired pistol which he had been gripping cautiously up until that point in the back of his jeans, hiding it beneath his t-shirt.

"Because the two of you are truly an adorable couple... and I need a blood sample from Piers. Or a semen sample." She grinned and to his mortification, Chris felt himself blush.

"You what?"

"Did I mumble? Blood or semen, Chris. That's all I want from him. Whichever would be easier for you to acquire, I imagine it's the latter. It's not like the two of you are adverse to each other, I'd say it's quite the opposite. So this should be a breeze for you."

"Am I allowed to at least be honest with him? Talk to him about it?" Chris had no idea how he could scoop up Piers' deposit in a container without being noticed, nor would he ever want to lie to or betray him like that. He had every right to know everything, especially when it concerned him.

"Tell him whatever you want, if it gets me the sample."

"I uh...What do you plan on doing with it once you have it?" Chris postured himself and practically willed himself to stop blushing.

"That really doesn't concern you. You want my help, you follow my rules." A ping came from within her skin tight pants and she removed the mobile device, glanced over the message she received and put it back into her front pocket. "I gotta run for now but call me when you have it, just don't take too much time. Once his metamorphosis is complete, it's spilt milk, in every sense of the word." She turned and started walking away.

"What metamorphosis? What's happening to him Ada?" Chris called after her, and she stopped for a moment but didn't turn back toward him.

"He's evolving. Icarus wants to fly. Let's just hope the sun doesn't burn his pretty wings to a crisp." She said as she slunk off into the night, her ambiguous words leaving a confused Chris in their wake.

---

The moment he stepped back into the house that was, if only for the moment, their sanctuary, Chris knew that something was horribly wrong. As he made his way forward past the empty living room and kitchen, his feeling of dread was justified by the small pool of blood which creeped out from beneath the bathroom door. He hurried forward, slammed the door open and was instantly frozen in horror. Piers was on his knees on the tiled floor, which was covered in his blood. The growths from his back were extended, now appearing more sinuous. His right hand reached over his shoulder, firmly grasping one of them as his left joined it there, the butcher knife in it sawing repeatedly back and forth, attempting to sever the unnatural appendage from his body but failing miserably. Chris nearly slipped in the blood beneath him as he sped forward and seized Piers' left hand, halting the self-mutilation.

"I need to do this! Please just let me take them off! I need them off!" Piers screamed as his hand was held firmly in place.

"Piers, stop! Look at all the blood you're losing! Stop it, please!" Chris pleaded in vain as he felt the resistance against his grip, the hand struggling to keep cutting.

"If I bleed out, so be it. Do you have any idea what this feels like? To know that you're a monster. Do you know what it feels like to slaughter people you used to work with, people you used to know? What are these things on my back? What are they?!" He roared in frustration as he tried yanking his hand loose, the other let go of his growth and pounded down, trying to unclasp Chris' fist to no avail. "I need to do this!"

Chris calmed himself and his steely resolve gave Piers pause. "I won't let you do this."

"Let go!" Piers kept struggling, but Chris was as solid as a rock.

"Never." He whispered and moved himself to his knees and closer to Piers, his free arm wrapping around the thrashing younger man and hugging him close. Piers pounded his fist against the broad shoulder, trying to worm loose, but he was held tight until he finally gave in and let himself be embraced, hot tears coming in droves and falling down, creating little wet spots on the white t-shirt below.

The knife was dropped as his hand relaxed and it went forward, grasping at Chris. His face was buried in the large, warm chest that contained a heart that belonged only to him. A large hand wrapped into his hair, cradling his head. His sobs wracked his body against the stronger one that held him so close it almost hurt.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I just want to be okay." He managed in a strained voice against the white shirt.

"I know, baby. I know. Let me take care of you." His voice was filled with so much affection, that Piers for a moment felt that he had only met the real Chris Redfield for the first time. The growths retracted back beneath his skin and his body grew limp after a minute or two of clutching at Chris.

Chris took the opportunity to pour another bath for Piers, reaching forward to open the taps. When the tub was filled, Chris scooped him up, and not bothering to remove his pants, lowered him into the warm water. His skin was pale from the blood loss and Chris ran his hands tenderly over his submerged chest, washing the dried blood from where it had caked on his flesh.

Hazel puppy-dog eyes followed his every move in loving wonder as he was bathed so delicately by his captain, his alpha, his first and only love. Strong and sure hands slid over his skin, bringing it to life with that perfect touch that he had longed for ever since he could remember.

Then something happened and the hands stopped moving, the eyes closing as Chris exhaled loudly through his nose.

"What's wrong?" Piers sat up in the tub. "Chris?"

"You were right about Ada." Their eyes met again as Chris opened his. "She does want something, and not from me."

"From me?" Piers took a second to register. "Oh, right. Makes sense. Did she say what?"

Chris considered sparing him the details for later, but he knew that if he wanted Piers to feel safe and secure, he needed to be completely honest about the details.

"She...she asked for a sample... Of your blood, or your..."

"My what?"

"Uhhhh... A deposit."

"What kind of deposit?"

Chris turned his gaze toward the half of Piers that was still submerged, and it registered with him.

"You mean she wants a cum sample?" His voice rose with disbelief and vulgar amusement and Chris gritted his teeth in an awkward smile. "That's... Why?"

"I don't know. She practically told me to mind my own business. At least she gave me my gun back." He withdrew the pistol to show Piers.

"Well, I know I should be glad to see it, but her giving you that... If she thinks you need it, then that means..."

"That we shouldn't let the safety of this place fool us." Chris agreed as he tucked the Nine-oh-Nine back into his jeans.

"Agreed. So... Did she say when she wants it? You know, my cum. Or blood." He smiled sinfully at Chris.

"Not specifically but she said soon, before..." He trailed off, not wanting to repeat what Ada mentioned about the 'metamorphosis'.

"Before what?" He noticed the grim look in Chris' eyes. "What, Chris?"

Chris took a deep breath and knew he had no choice but to finish what he started. "She said she wants it before the metamorphosis is complete. I don't know what that means. All she said was something about Icarus."

"Icarus?" He frowned as his eyes searched the air before him.

"That's all she said. That Icarus wants to fly and that she hopes he doesn't burn his wings."

Realisation dawned on both of them then as they finally understood what his 'growths' were.

"These things on my back are... Wings?" Piers spoke, but more to himself than Chris.

Chris stared at him in bemusement, but he knew that it had to be what Ada had meant.

"And we have to get a sample to her before... Before what, they grow feathers?" Piers scoffed in disbelief. "Well, isn't that just great. What's next, will I grow a halo too?"

"I doubt that, you're too handsome a devil. Besides, wasn't Icarus some Greek demigod? Not an angel?"

"Hell if I know." He sank back down into the water, sighing. "I don't get what the Greeks have to do with anything here. This happened because of the C-Virus."

Chris listened, unable to contribute more to the subject, having little knowledge of Greek deities aside from what he could recall hearing as a kid. Instead he stood from where he was hunched next to the tub and removed a towel from the wooden rail on the wall, unfolding it and holding it open and ready to receive Piers.

He rose from the tub and stepped into the soft cotton towel, ignoring the bloody floor beneath them as he was enfolded once more in those loving arms that had held him so tightly minutes before. It felt like he was where he belonged. After years of pining for it, he was being held in the embrace of Chris Redfield; he was home. And when large fingers guided his chin up in order to capture his lips in a smouldering kiss, he knew why he was turning into an 'angel'. Because of Chris, he was as close to heaven as he could possibly be.

Chapter Text

Chris turned the bucket over and emptied the blood-red water onto the modest patch of lawn in the backyard, hoping it would sink into the earth and disappear from sight and from his memory. He had saved a bit of blood that he had scooped up off the bathroom floor and poured into a small vial he had found in the bathroom cupboard. He hoped that it would be a sufficient sample for Ada.

Earlier, he had tucked Piers in after making him promise not to hurt himself ever again, made him say it while he looked him in the eye to prove his sincerity, that he wasn't just saying it to get Chris off his back. He had known then that it was the truth, and he had left Piers to sleep while he searched the wash room for a bucket and mop to clean up the bloody mess in the bathroom.

By the time he’d finished he was exhausted, he’d had one hell of a day and when he checked his wristwatch for good measure he saw it was 3:13am. He’d been awake for three days straight. He had been deprived of sleep for longer periods of time on numerous missions throughout his career, but he wasn't as young as he used to be and fatigue weighed his body down. He felt like he could sleep for days.

Re-entering the wash room through the back door, he put the bucket and mop back in place and poured himself a glass of water on his way through the kitchen. He also helped himself to half a grilled chicken in the refrigerator and only realized how hungry he was when he started devouring the meat in his hand, not bothering to look for a plate but instead moving to the sink so he wouldn't make a mess on the floor.

When he finished a minute later, he ignored the persistent hunger in favor of a quick wash before going to bed. The shower head in the bathtub sprayed forth cool water that felt like heaven against his skin. 5 minutes later, he felt cleaner than he had ever before, and shrugged into a pair of black briefs he had fished out of the closet in the guest room. He took the bundle of clothes, his boots and gun along with him when he made his way to the master bedroom, the last door on his left down the hallway. He wanted to check on Piers before turning in himself.

He was so peaceful, laying in nothing but a pair of clean black briefs he no doubt fished out of the cupboard. His steady audible breaths were the only sound in the room as Chris gently ran a hand over his hair. Moving it down to cup Piers’ face, he realized that the facial scarring was completely gone, feeling nothing beneath his fingers but smooth, perfect skin. Piers stirred beneath his touch, heavy eyes opening and looking up at him.

"What's wrong?" He asked, voice thick with sleep.

"Just checking in before I go to bed. Go back to sleep."

"Stay." He reached his arm back behind him and patted the empty spot on the double bed. "Lots of room."

"I've never slept next to anybody, I don't know if I kick or roll around or snore." Chris didn't want to make excuses, he wanted nothing more than to cuddle up behind Piers and hold him through the night, but he was also concerned over his own unconscious habits.

"Please?" Piers asked in a beautifully broken tone and Chris couldn't refuse him this small but intimate request.

He went around to the other side and sat down on the edge of the bed. He placed the bundle of clothes and his boots on the carpet next to the bed and the gun on the night stand beside him. Piers turned to face him, waiting patiently for him to settle. When he did, he reached out and pulled him closer, wrapping his arms around his alpha and felt strong but fatigued arms envelop his body in return. He cradled Chris' face into the nape of his neck, pressing a soft kiss to his temple and resting his cheek there, feeling the prickling sensation of the stubble against his chest and the warm, wet breath on his skin.

"Chris?" He whispered into the short brown hair.

"Hmm?" Came a questioning muffle from against his skin.

"I love you."

There was a silence between them as Piers felt his eyes close under the weight of drowsiness.

"I love you too." The words were whispered against his skin, he felt them crawl beneath, sinking into his heart and he felt his consciousness drift as he fell asleep in the arms of his beloved.

---

When morning came and warm morning rays filtered through the blue curtains into the room, Chris awoke to an empty spot beside him. Piers wasn't asleep in his arms anymore. He sat up and called out for him, but no answer came. Panic struck him like it never had before, his chest tightening with anxiety and worry. He called out once more to no avail. Where had he gone? Did he run off, not wanting to be a burden to his former captain? Did he hurt himself again, perhaps this time succeeding in an attempt at suicide? Or did he leave to turn himself in to Jill in a self-sacrificing attempt to save Chris?

Chris jumped up from the bed, sliding into the jeans he had been wearing for two days in a row and grabbing his gun from the night stand, he made his way out into the hallway and through the kitchen, all the while calling out for Piers, finally receiving a muffled response which he determined originated from outside. Relief washed over him like the cool water of a swimming pool in the midst of a heat wave as he stepped through the open back door and found Piers standing immobile in a pair of baggy shorts, turned from him and facing, from what Chris could see, a small rose bush.

He joined Piers, looking down at the bush which he realized hadn't been there the night before. What intrigued and baffled him even more was that the bush had sprung up from the exact spot where Chris had emptied the bucket filled with Piers' blood a few hours ago.

"I've never seen a rose bush before." Piers spoke next to him, seemingly unable to tear his eyes from the red flowers between the dark foliage. "I've seen more death, pain and carnage than any man should have to. I've encountered abominations created by man-made viruses and I've looked upon the face of evil, yet I have never seen something as simple and beautiful as this. Pure life, so natural. Untouched and uncorrupted by man. How have I missed this my entire life?"

Chris decided in that instant that he wasn't going to mention the origin of the bush nor that it wasn't natural at all. Instead he moved up behind Piers, pressing his bare chest to the skin of his back and wrapped his arms around him, resting his stubbly chin on his shoulder, pressing a gentle kiss into his neck. If there had been a shadow of a doubt in his mind that Piers was tainted, dangerous and capable of nothing but destruction and the slaughter of man, the rose bush had cleared them like mist before the sun. Within Piers lay something both terrifying and undeniably pure. In that he had absolute faith. He just hoped that Ada didn't have some insidious intention for his blood.

---

Later that night when he met with Ada to deliver the vial of blood he had carefully scooped up from the tiles while cleaning the bathroom the previous night, Chris noticed a change in her demeanor, very slight but enough for him to realize that something was wrong. Very wrong. Before he could even ask, she confirmed his observation.

"She know you're here and she's coming. Good news is she's coming alone, if my intel is anything to go by."

"Alone? I'm guessing she's not looking for a fight. She's seen what Piers is capable of and I know Jill, she's smart enough to know that she wouldn’t last 10 seconds against him."

"You guess correctly. I believe our esteemed Miss Valentine intends to parley when she arrives tomorrow morning."

"So it's a trap?"

Ada raised her eyebrows at his words as if in disbelieving amusement.

"And here I thought that I’d live out the rest of my life without ever being surprised again. It seems I underestimated you Chris. It most certainly is a trap but I'm sure you can handle her, being the resilient bulldozer that you are."

At any other time, Chris would have smiled at her near-compliment and responded with a cocky quip, but time was of the essence. He removed the vial of blood from the pocket of his jeans and saw Ada's face light up at the sight.

"Is that it?" She asked, inhaling sharply. Chris handed it to her and he thought he heard her barely there sigh of relief. "I expected a deposit of a different kind honestly, but no matter, this... this might just save the world."

"I'm sorry, what?" He gasped the words out. Chris had assumed from the very beginning that Ada had wanted to use the blood for her own gain, as was usually the case. He thought that he perhaps misunderstood so he asked, "What do you mean by that? What's happening?"

She studied the vial closely, turning it between her fingers and holding it up barely an inch from her curious eyes. "The C-Virus is making a comeback."

"So why not just cure it again? Jake's blood..."

"Won't work this time around I'm afraid." She looked up at him then, removing another slightly larger plastic vial from the small satchel around her waist. "While I was hunting down my illustrious doppelganger, I came upon some interesting DNA that suggests she may have tampered with Jake's blood while she held him captive."

"So its effects are only temporary?"

She placed the glass vial into the plastic one and sealed it, opening the satchel and carefully storing it inside. "No, it works, but only with the first wave."

"Wait, are you saying that there's going to be another outbreak?"

"Another missile strike, yes. The biggest coup Carla pulled on us was letting us believe that there was only one set of missiles. Gotta hand it to her, she's crafty. Almost as crafty as I am."

Chris felt sweat forming beneath his brow. All those hellish days, fighting BOW's and hordes of J'avo was only the beginning, only the first wave. A chill ran down his spine when he considered that there might be countless missiles all over the world ready for deployment. The results would be cataclysmic.

"And Piers’ blood, how exactly is that going to help?"

"One thing at a time, Chris. For now, think of it this way, Piers is a BOW and he still has all of his senses and self-control, mostly anyway. His blood might be key to wiping out not only the C-Virus but every other bio-terrorism attack that would succeed it."

Chris found it hard to absorb this new information, his jaw growing slack and after seconds of stunned silence, he found himself laughing without knowing exactly why. Uncontrollable laughter shook his body, because it couldn't be that easy, because the prospect of being rid of bio-terrorism for good seemed preposterous, because he suddenly knew that everything he had ever done to save humanity from outbreak after outbreak, all the years of his life he’d given up fighting the good fight all came down to one thing - to Piers.

Ada stood watching, hardly amused as Chris spread his arms out beside him as if he was about to fly into the night sky, laughing all the while.

"As much as I'd love a ticket to your one-man show, I have to get this blood somewhere where I can perhaps make some use of it before the world starts burning. Keep him safe. See ya around, Chris."

When Chris finally came down from his hysterical fit, Ada was long gone. Jill would arrive in the morning but he needed to get home and tell Piers everything. Needed to tell him that he was the most important thing in this miserable life worth fighting for. And when all has been said and done, Chris fully intended to make love to him.

---

The moment Chris came into the living room and Piers turned to face him from where he was admiring the antique piano, he was swept up from the ground and held tightly, their bodies spinning and the sound of Chris' joyous laughter piercing the air. Then he was kissed, deeply and passionately and when it broke they were both out of breath and smiling like two teenagers in love.

"What was that for?" Piers asked, still smiling as he was lowered back to his feet but with the muscular arms of his former captain still wrapped around his waist.

"Because I missed you so much."

"You were barely gone for half an hour?"

"I know." Chris smiled and kissed him again quickly. "Still missed you. And I have to tell you something. It's amazing, you won't believe it!" Chris breathed out his words between his mirthful laughter, but before he could continue he was interrupted by a loud rap from the front door.

Chris spun around, and stood in silence with his hand instinctively reaching out to cover Piers, all joy drained from his demeanor in the instant the sound reached his ears. Withdrawing his Nine-oh-Nine, he slowly and silently made his way toward the hallway with Piers right behind him. Backs to the wall, the two of them took up position next to the front door and waited for another knock. Readying his gun, Chris called out.

"Who is it?"

"It's Ada. You gonna let me in or what?" It was definitely her voice and Chris breathed a sigh of relief, dropping his gun to his side as he unlocked the door and opened it to their welcome visitor.

When he realized that the woman at the door wasn't Ada it was far too late as the flash grenade dropped to the ground before him.

Chapter Text

The first thing Chris could recall when he regained consciousness was the wooden stock of a shotgun that had connected with his face - hard. Jill had knocked him out just as he had been recovering from the blinding effects of the flash grenade that she had dropped into the hallway.

"He's coming to. Clear out guys, I need to have a word with him - alone."

Chris could hear the shuffling of footsteps disappear from the room and a door closing as his senses returned to him. He managed to open his heavy eyes, moved his lips and felt the blood trickling over them where it ran freely from the open wound on his nose. He wriggled a bit and to his surprise, realised that he wasn't bound. He was sitting on the sofa in the living room completely free to get up and make for the door. Of course she wouldn't let him get that far, not with that shotgun she was pointing directly at him at such a close range.

"Piers..." He managed, spitting forth the blood that had pooled in his mouth.

"You should be a little bit more worried about yourself rather than your boy toy, don't you think so?" Her voice was filled with loathing for him, for them both. "I mean, really Chris, he's nearly half your age. How embarrassing to think that in 20 short years you'll be crapping the bed and he'll be sleeping with someone much younger than him. Such a sad little circle life is."

"Where is he?" Chris had to stop himself from flying up and slamming her against a wall, keeping in mind that he was staring down the double barrels of a weapon that hardly ever missed.

"He's not dead yet, if that's what you're wondering, but he's subdued. A flash grenade works wonders on BOW's."

"Then why don't they work on you?"

She fell silent, her nostrils flaring and lips twitching.

"Why would they?" Her voice was calm but even in the darkness of the room, her eyes betrayed the malice within them.

"If a flash grenade works on BOW's, why don't they work on you... Carla." His hatred for her shaped his question into an accusatory statement.

Shotgun still raised, the woman stood expressionless before him and then came the smile, a smile of victory, of a sociopath feeding her victim his last tainted meal, teeth bared in a ghastly grin as she moved closer, raising the barrels right to his face.

"Because I'm no ordinary BOW." She announced, her triumphantly cold smile failing to reach her eyes. "How did you know?"

"You really think people won't notice that their benevolent leader is acting like a madwoman? It's just a matter of time before everybody knows it, you can't keep up this charade forever." He was defiant, even now with death quite literally staring him in the eyes. This was it, the moment he had yearned for ever since Edonia. Face to face once more with the one responsible for the loss of his men. For the loss of Finn. Just a kid, a naïve starry-eyed kid who had the rest of his life ahead of him. Carla... He felt the rage that had long since lain dormant within him rise up, threatening to consume his reason and which, if he was not careful, could cause him to make one wrong move and have his head blown clean off.

"You killed my men, you bitch." His words were barely a whisper, their sound meant to cut deeper than any knife ever could.

"And I'm gonna kill you too, soon enough. But first answer my question. How did you know?"

"The voice at the door, the sudden change in your attitude, your relentless pursuit of the only person who can put a stop to the C-Virus. The second missile strikes... Wasn't too hard to figure out."

"Who told you about the missiles?" It took her all of 2 seconds to come to the correct conclusion. "Of course, who else but that sad excuse of a carbon copy."

"I believe you have it all backwards. You're not even half the woman she is." Despite his strained relationship with Ada throughout the years, she had done more for him and Piers than most of his friends ever had.

"Be careful what you say to me, my 'friend'." She pressed the cold, round steel to his nose. "I'm the real Ada Wong." She withdrew the shotgun just far enough so he could look up at her again, his eyes filled with a sea of loathing for her.

"You look like Jill Valentine to me."

"The better to fool you with, my dear."

"Consider my eyes opened." He spat at her feet, which made her giggle.

"That the best you can do?"

"Wanna find out?" He challenged her as he would any other man.

She continued laughing, triumphantly kicking his leg with the tip of her boot. "You're fine right where you are."

"Where's Jill?"

"Would you believe me if I told you that you'll see her very soon?"

"And where is that?"

"In hell." She grinned again, her tongue snaking out from her mouth and running over her upper lip.

"We'll all be in hell soon enough, alive or dead thanks to your insanity."

"And why is it so insane? To want to bathe this wretched world in fire, to walk upon the ashes of unworthy creatures, to remake the world in my image?"

"Because for someone who aspires to be a god, you're doing a pretty lousy job of planning ahead. Who's going to worship you once everyone and everything is dead? You'll be all alone in an empty, dead, grey world. What kind of queen will you be then? You'll be nothing, you'll have nothing. Nothing but the ashes you tread on."

His words seemed to register with her for a moment but just as quickly she dismissed them.

"You really have no idea what I have planned, do you? Gonna have to spoon feed you like the idiot you are." She motioned with the shotgun for Chris to get up. Once he was off the couch she directed him to the door, which he opened, resisting the urge to bolt through the front door and dodge her reaction shot, knowing full well that more soldiers would be waiting just outside with a thousand bullets to rip him to shreds.

"Where are you taking me, Carla?"

"To see your boyfriend. I wouldn't want you to miss what's going to happen to him. You deserve a front row seat." She was right behind him, certain death pressed firmly against his back as they moved to the front door. "I really wish you hadn't stolen that sample from me. It was mine, I should've been the one to be the carrier of the new cure. I would've been the most powerful person in the world. Now I'm going to have to take it back the hard way."

She sighed.

"Piers doesn't have to be alive, but it'll be so much more fun making you watch as I eat his beating heart."

---

On the outskirts on the opposite side of Georgetown, Leon S Kennedy made his way through the silent hallways of the cosmetics laboratory, which had been completely deserted for the night and served as the perfect spot to detain Piers while Jill took Chris into custody. He opened the door on the far side of the hallway and entered a dimly lit storage room that had been cleared out for the guest of honor's benefit. Piers was strapped into a chair, the IV bag next to him steadily pumping sedatives into his bloodstream through the needle in his hand. He lifted his eyelids with what must have been incredible effort and saw Leon standing before him.

"I'm sorry, Piers. I'm so very sorry that all of this happened to you."

Piers couldn't manage anything other than a groan as he watched Leon withdraw his combat knife and approach him. This was it, he thought through the haze clouding his mind, he was gonna die right here by Leon's hand, a mercy kill.

"I hope you can find it within yourself to forgive me."

Then the knife slipped beneath the first leather strap and with a few cuts it came loose, the other soon followed. The needle was removed from his hand and then Leon turned his attention to the straps that bound his feet.

"She fooled all of us." Came a voice from behind him, and he turned to see two women behind him. It was a sight to behold, Ada Wong and Jill Valentine standing peacefully side by side, a team comprised of two mismatched women who for long fought on two very different sides of the moral line. What's next, Leon thought, Jake and Chris getting along? Stranger things have happened.

"The important thing is that I got to Ada in time." Jill said, sparing a glance at the woman beside her. A few months ago she would've laughed at anyone who even would have suggested that she might one day consider the infamous Ada Wong an ally, albeit a temporary one. Yet it made perfect sense, when she had escaped from captivity in Carla's lab in Qatar, the very first person she had contacted was Ada. They were birds of a feather after all, their identities had both been stolen by the same woman, horrible crimes committed by the one who passed herself off as them. Ada had dealt with her before, so naturally she would be the best person to ask for help, especially since Carla had the entire BSAA eating from the palm of her hand.

"I just hope Chris is okay. I should've called him too, I just wasn't sure if he would believe it was really me."

"Oh, he would have. Carla didn't enjoy it much when he retired, it left her with the sole responsibility over your duties as head of the BSAA and pretty much put a real damper on the free reign she needed to plan the next attack. She wasn't very nice about it and well... We all know that isn't you." Leon and Jill were both stunned by the compliment, or at least as close to one as they were ever going to hear from Ada.

"Thanks... I guess." Jill said awkwardly, nodding to her companion as Leon stood up from where he had cut the straps loose and joined the two women. "He's gonna be okay?" Jill asked him.

"He's fine, the sedative will take a minute or two to wear off, but other than that he's no worse for wear." He looked to Ada, the glint in his eyes betraying his unmistakable admiration for her. "I knew we could trust you."

A small smile curled at the corner of her lips and for a moment he hoped that she would blush so he’d know she felt something for him too, but she didn't blush. Of course she didn't, Ada never blushed.

"You're sure his blood can be manufactured into a cure? For anything?" Jill interrupted the staring contest between Leon and Ada.

"Well anything would be going a bit far, but I'd say it's a pretty solid way of ending most bio-terrorist attacks."

"Most?" She asked, sighing because of course nothing is ever really over and done with.

"Most. Look on the bright side, at least the BSAA won't be sitting on their hands for the rest of their lives."

"Gee, that's a big comfort, Ada. I've been at this for nearly two decades now."

"We all have." Leon reminded her. "And we'll keep fighting until someone else takes up the torch."

"I wish somebody would." Jill's voice reflected how tired she was. Tired of fighting and tired of being a hero. She just wanted to settle down, find that something special like Chris seemed to have with Piers and retire from this endless war. Maybe have kids. She had so much love to give and nobody to give it to.

"Let's sweat the small stuff later. Something wicked this way comes." Ada voiced her concern and just like clockwork, Chris' large frame was pushed through the door with Jill's doppelganger right behind him. Chris was bound, his hands tied with rope behind his back and a strip of duct tape covered his mouth.

Carla stopped dead in her tracks the moment she caught sight of Jill and Ada. From between them, she could see Piers coming to in his chair, freed from the straps that now lay on the floor below. Her face spasmed, her lips curled back and her eyes focused on Ada, in a seething rage she shrieked, "YOU!"

Ada, Leon and Jill all drew their guns in the blink of an eye and held her in their sights, carefully aiming past Chris.

"You never learn, do you Carla? Try doing something original for a change." Ada smirked.

As Leon's laser sights danced over Carla's forehead he heard Piers gasp Chris' name behind him. Gently he squeezed the trigger and was about to fire when Carla spoke.

"You really think bullets can hurt me? It's you who never learns... Ada." She hissed her name as if to mock it. "Try this for originality, bitch." With a deafening blast, the shotgun fired and Leon, Ada, Jill and Piers all witnessed as Chris fell to the ground, completely lifeless.

Chapter Text

The sickening thud as Chris fell to the ground echoed off the walls, replacing the dying blast of Carla’s shotgun. He neither moved nor made the slightest sound to signal that he had survived the terrible hail of bullets that had ripped through his abdomen. As Piers screamed his name and Jill gasped, a pool of bright red trickled out from beneath his lifeless body, covering the off-white tiles in a crimson hue.
“Told you so.” Carla sneered, but before she could say another word, two wings, partially covered in shiny white feathers seeming as solid as steel but lighter than their feathered counterparts lifted her from the ground. Piers was approaching her where she hung suspended, kicking at the air below, but to his surprise her struggling ceased in an instant and instead came a mocking laughter as she took hold of the winged weapons and casually drew them from where they were stuck within her body. As soon as they were out, the entry wounds closed and the skin coalesced as if it had never been breached.
“Finally, a challenge.” She laughed once more as her body began to twist in unnatural ways, bending this way and that, shaping her into an atrocity worthy of a horror film. She was expanding rapidly, her laughter becoming thick and inhuman as her face reformed itself. Her brow protruded sharply; casting a shadow over her sunken eyes, which had lost all trace of color, save for the small red veins covering the sides of the fully white orbs. Her lips blossomed like a flower only to turn themselves out permanently, baring her sharp, pointed teeth. Her tongue, like a slithering eel in its oceanic element, extended from between them and licked at the air as if tasting it. Her knees snapped back, the sound of ligaments tearing made Jill wince as she made her way to Chris, raising and clutching his body in her arms. On Carla’s hands, her fingers twirled around like worms before dropping off onto the ground and claws extended from the bloodless stumps. Skin tore where it stretched uncomfortably over its larger inhabitant, refusing to close this time. She had grown in size considerably, now towering over the companions who stared in a mixture of shock, revulsion and disbelief at her transformation, guns pointed although they now knew they were of no use at all against such a beast. While Piers went to town on the monster, his face the picture of rage and grief, stabbing his wings into it repeatedly – to no avail, Ada was the next to react, having already faced and defeated a mutated Carla before. As the ever extending creature rose before her, she loaded a pipe bomb into her crossbow and aimed it into Carla’s left eye.
With a piercing shriek the arrow flew through the air and found its mark, causing the creature to rumble as the small explosion took out its eye, but to the surprise of absolutely no one it grew back almost instantaneously, as good as new.
“Well it was worth a shot.” Ada shrugged. “Time for plan B.” She reached inside her satchel and removed the vial Chris had given to her. As swiftly as only she could manage, the cap was off and an arrow was dipped in the blood. Before Jill and Leon could ask what she was doing, the arrow was already lodged into the Carla-creature. It took a few moments but the effect was soon apparent. The creature roared and staggered, fell down onto its hind legs and grew silent.
Leon looked up from where his attention had been focused through the sights of his Picador, but not breaking poise. “Is she dead?”
“Don’t count on it.” Ada mumbled before reloading another pipe bomb into her crossbow. “I just made her vulnerable. Tantrum in three, two, one…”
A loud screech made the companions reel and clutch their hands to their ears. The creature was rising back up, but now it was as if it was melting. The excess of its body was oozing off it, pooling on the ground. A new shape was emerging from the muck, a tall and lithe being, more obviously female (it curved in all the right places) and far more graceful than the grotesque mass it spawned from. This new shape rose from its old form and into the air, its feet leaving the ground. It was a dark silhouette, its body and facial features obscured in a black void. By the time that it was fully airborne, Leon and Ada had already emptied two clips into its body, and Piers, his wings now fully feathered, took flight to meet it head on. From where Jill knelt with Chris laid on her lap, she was firing too. This caught Ada’s eye for a second and stirred a memory within her, back when Leon had held her unconscious body and fired at Simmons to keep him at bay. Only in this case, Chris was not just unconscious and Carla was focused on Piers. It might as well have been her. She made a point of it that if they survived this night, she would give Leon a fair chance at wooing her. She put the thought out of her mind however when she saw the black thing advance on Piers as the two of them drifted in the air.
Piers saw its maw opening, an even deeper blackness within the creature, if that was even possible. It closed the distance between them and snapped at him, very nearly swallowing him whole. Piers wasn’t used to flying, he didn’t even realize he could until he was. It was like learning to walk, every flap of his wings like walking a tightrope, and he had to distribute his focus on keeping himself aloft and avoiding the thing that so very clearly was trying to devour him. He took a great gamble and flew past it, slicing through its arm with a carefully coordinated dive.
The thing shrieked as its arm came loose and fell, swiping furiously at its mutilator with the one still attached but failing to connect with the swift Icarus. Piers noticed it then, deep inside the beasts maw was a throbbing yellow node, no bigger than one of its eyes, but it quickly disappeared behind its tongue as it settled back into place. Ada and Leon aimed carefully and timed their shots so as not to accidentally shoot Piers, while Jill dragged Chris’ body away to a safe distance from the two flying combatants. Piers drove himself into the she-creature and they both went flying through the ceiling, the roof caving in around them.
Ada fired her grapple hook and landed on the roof with the grace of a cat and caught sight of the two figures flying high above, Piers bobbing and weaving with his wings while swiftly dodging the slick sharp stinger aimed at his heart that had grown from the creature’s tail bone, catching and slicing at it every time he couldn’t. Quick as lightning, Ada dipped another arrow into the vial containing Piers’ purified blood, loaded it into her crossbow and aimed it carefully at the emaciated creature. It hit, of course it did. Ada was a surgeon with her crossbow. The black horror howled and clutched at its temple with its remaining arm, its tongue dangling from the cavity in its face as it spun round and round in pain. Piers took the opportunity and struck again, both wings cutting the sickly brown tongue into dozens of pieces. The pulsating weak spot in the hollow of its maw was exposed; easy pickings.
“Piers, catch!” Ada called to him and the moment he turned his attention down to her, she flung the vial up toward him. He very nearly didn’t catch it, and when he did he felt it strain and crack beneath his grasp. The vial wouldn’t last to see another chance to be used. He swooped in, crushed the vial and wrapped his bloody hand over the thing’s weak spot, wringing a wet bursting noise from it as it popped in his grip, exposing it to his antiviral blood.
A low keening noise rung out as the thing’s maw closed in on itself and the next moment it plummeted from the sky as if its strings had been cut and Ada had to make a side flip to avoid it from crashing down on top of her. She approached the thing, which had begun to revert back to the woman it once was lifetimes ago, the blond scientist Carla Radames. Despite everything she had done, Ada felt sorry for the woman she’d been. She was just a victim, an unfortunate guinea pig. She looked down upon her face, and Carla looked back at her, fear and bewilderment in her eyes. A single tear rolled over her cheekbone. She wouldn’t be queen anymore. She was shaking hands with death, which she’d never expected to meet. As her final breath was exhaled, it escaped as a pathetic whine and her eyes glazed over. They would never see anything ever again.
Down below, Leon had taken over carrying the heavy burden of Chris’ body, as Jill finally gave in to her emotions, her body wracked with sobs. “He’s dead!” was all she could manage as Piers swooped down from above and landed beside them. On the rooftop above, Ada peered down and decided that this was a moment she could not share in. Chris was dead and there was nothing she could do to change that. Carla was defeated, but at a great cost. Sighing her regret, she collected Carla’s body for study, perhaps a nice bounty, fired her grapple and disappeared into the night.
“No.” Piers breathed, his face devoid of any sign of emotion. “No.” He repeated quietly to himself as he lifted one lifeless hand into his and kissed it gently, lips moving as he spoke against the still warm skin of Chris’ knuckles. “I won't let you go, not like this. I can’t be here without you.”
“Piers…” Leon tried reaching out to him, Jill already tucked into his shoulder, sobbing loudly.
They both stumbled back against the sudden gust as wings swiftly extended and wrapped Chris up within them, closing him in with Piers under an impenetrable dome of hard feathers.

Chapter Text

Claire took a swig of the beer that had already begun perspiring in the heat of the summer afternoon, leaving a small wet stain on the coaster next to the placemat. The waitress, Taylor, had already brought out her cutlery, neatly wrapped in a serviette the shape of a pocket. She admired the delicate detail as a distraction to steer her attention away from the letter that rested on the opposite side of the placemat. It was from Jill, but it wasn't meant for her eyes. She resisted the urge to open it and tapped her fingers on the table, her nails barely long enough to produce sound. She thought about how most of her friends were boys growing up, how the girls just couldn't understand why she much rather preferred learning how to shoot with Chris than go out shopping or getting a pedicure or manicure. Truth was, she looked up to her brother more than anyone, always had, always would.

Chris was a hero, especially now. He had stopped the second C-Virus attack that would have devastated the world, along with Jill, Piers, Leon and - not surprisingly - Ada. Despite her dubious involvement, it always seemed that when the world was being saved, Ada had a hand in it. Piers, of course, had been pardoned from his fugitive status and gave blood donations on a weekly basis. Since the world had become aware of the dangers of viral outbreaks, he had become somewhat of a universal legend, revered even more than if he were a president.

After defeating Carla, Leon had finally mustered up the courage to ask Ada out for dinner. The two of them had since gone off the radar, promising to return when they're needed. Claire smiled as she remembered the sound of Ada punching Piers in the face after he suggested she might come back sporting a baby bump. Ada pregnant... She laughed again. At least they're happy, she thought.

Jill herself had met a kindred soul while on a conference in Africa. While at first there had been a competitive spirit between her and Josh Stone, they quickly fell in love and Josh had since moved to the States and become a valuable asset to the BSAA and a loving embrace for Jill to return home to every night. If someone told Claire 5 years ago that a house with a white picket fence would be home to someone like Jill in the near future, she would have laughed in their face. Yet, there she was, well on her way to becoming a housewife. Claire wondered if the letter meant that Jill...

"Hey sis."

She looked up from where she had been lost in thought into the warm brown eyes of her big brother. She stood and he scooped her up into his arms, grinning broadly as she pressed a big kiss to his cheek. When he put her down, she felt the tap on her shoulder and spun around, pulling Piers into a big hug. If she hadn't had a reason to adore Piers before, she sure had one now.

Nobody knew what had happened when Piers had wrapped Chris into his wings after their battle with Carla, their cocoon had been impenetrable, nor could they figure out what was happening inside. The cocoon had been guarded by the BSAA for days in the very place it had stood and when it had finally hatched, two men, both alive, had escaped from it, wrapped in each other's arms. Only difference was Chris sported wings not unlike those belonging to Piers, only slightly larger and with a silvery hue. To Claire, they seemed majestic when they were spread out wide beside his shoulders. They were now concealed though, as were his fiancée’s.

Their engagement had been slightly unconventional, yet not completely so. It had been at a big dinner party, with Claire, Jill, Moira, Barry, Helena, Sherry and Jake - who had become engaged themselves in the time since they were last seen - and they all bore witness when Chris and Jake both got down on their knees and exchanged engagement rings. To them, getting married had never been a question, so when the time came to pop this 'question', it was already answered.

Now here they were, the two of them together, and very much in love. And Claire couldn't be more proud to gain a brother like Piers.

"So, have you two decided on a date yet?" She quipped later as they enjoyed their bottle of Chateau Libertas.

"When we do, you'll be the first to know." Piers winked at her, and Chris pressed a kiss to his cheek.

"You guys are so cute it's almost wrong to look at."

Chris blushed, taking a sip from his glass, stealing a loving glance at the younger man beside him.

"So Jill sends her regards, she's sorry she couldn't be here, but she sent you boys this." She pushed the envelope forward slightly to where they were sitting.

"What is it?" Piers eyed it, unsure if it was something to be concerned or happy about.

"Let's find out." Chris reached for it.

"Ok wait, wait, wait." Piers interrupted. "I gotta pee first. Can never handle news of any kind with a full bladder."

Claire giggled, and he immediately blushed, realizing just how wrong his confession sounded.

"I don't piss myself, if that's what it sounds like, it's just when I hear something worth celebrating I don't wanna have to... ugh, nevermind." He rolled his eyes. "Just don't open it until I'm back okay."

"Yes sir." Chris saluted, earning a playful growl from his fiancée as he walked off to the men's room.

"Hurry back, lightweight!" Claire called after him and he shook his head in embarrassment.

"You know, I don't think I've really had the chance to say this, but I'm so happy for the both of you. I mean, it was pretty intense for a while back then when, you know, but it's all over now. I'm glad I don't have a fugitive for a brother anymore, imagine how good that would've looked on the annual report. And you're together. Finally. Should've been from the start if you ask me."

"You were right. I was an idiot. It took losing him to realize that I can't live without him."

"I think that goes both ways. He..." She paused, correcting herself. "...WE almost lost you."

"You know me, it'll take a lot more than a shotgun to get me down."

"If it wasn't for Piers, it would have been a shotgun."

A brief moment of silence passed between them, and then Chris raised his glass to make a toast.

"To not being dead."

"I'll drink to that." She clinked her glass against his.

"And to being the luckiest sonofabitch to have such a smart, funny, gorgeous angel at my side, in an unusually literal sense." He smiled at Piers as he approached the table.

"Speak for yourself, chicken wings. Still not used to seeing you all feathered. Ah look, Lady Lightweight has returned from the Kingdom of Loo."

"Ya know, Claire... Uh..." He tried his best to come up with something sharp to hit her back with. "I got nothing."

"I'll drink to that too!" Claire giggled and took another sip.

"Not true, you got me." Chris pulled him in and stole a kiss.

"You two don't act like guys at all. Hope you know that." She raised a mocking eyebrow.

"Well maybe it's 'cause of the wings. Being chickens and all that, we’ve got an excuse to cluck." Chris joked, feeling his feathers brush the inside of his coat.

"Well done. Bravo. Superb." She clapped her hands silently, gave a thumbs up and winked.

"So, that thing lying there is just killing my buzz, let's open it." Piers snatched the envelope up and lifted the flap. Inside was a card, on the cover was a picture of two angels kissing. As he opened it, they saw inside only a few scribbled words.

Consider yourselves reinstated. Congratulations and welcome back, comrades in arms. All my love. Jill.

---

Their sex life had been good ever since they started. Their first time had been a few days after they awakened. Chris had made the first move, cornering Piers inside the built-in closet while he was packing away the clean linens and taking him right up against the wall, their passion exploding like bright white lights all around and within them. When they climaxed together, Chris steered them toward the bed where Piers wrestled him down and took control, sliding inside of him and giving it as good as he had taken it. They quickly established a comfortable pattern, Piers would primarily be on the receiving end, but every once in a while he needed to show Chris that he could hold his own and take care of him too, that they were equally capable.

They were adventurous, often making love while gliding high in the sky, the wind caressing their naked bodies as they were coupled. They saw their reflections in the water and tasted the salt on each other's tongues as they floated just above the surface of the sea, their cries of ecstasy carried by the wind. They travelled around the world, dining on the streets of Rome, kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower, spending a few days alone on a forgotten island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, taking a refreshing dip in the waters of Dubai, going for long hikes in the forests of Romania. When they decided to return to active duty after a few months’ hiatus, they were invigorated and ready for action.

On the eve of their return to the States, they spent the night in a cabin in the woods of Maryland. The flames crackled in the fireplace as they explored each other, their bodies pressed close together, embracing. Piers had his arms wrapped around his Captain's neck, hands trailing down the taut skin of his back, feeling the muscles move beneath, felt strong hands on his thighs, the small of his back, his chest. He trailed his fingers over the scars that had never completely vanished after the shotgun shell had blasted its way through his body and left him broken and seemingly beyond repair. Yet he was whole, Piers had seen to that. It had been a risk, infecting him, yet it was a choice that had to be made. He couldn't bear to lose Chris, and thank God he didn't. He kissed his shoulder, his fingers leaving the scars and instead reaching toward where his wings protruded from right beneath his shoulder blades.

He gasped as Chris entered him, ever so slowly, his hands tightening on the broad shoulders as they kissed, moving together, their bodies glistening with perspiration. Rain started pouring down, hammering on the roof like small feet dancing to the rhythm of their movements. When the heat inside became bothersome, Chris carried Piers out into the rain, still inside him, and laid him down in the eye of the storm. They might be sick the next day, but neither of them cared. They made love until the storm passed, then, both spent and exhausted, they moved to the sleeper couch on the porch and as they closed their eyes to fall asleep, the soft orange glow of dawn breaching the leaves of the trees, Chris wrapped a large wing over him and Piers, shielding them both from the cool breeze that accompanied the morning mist.

A new day approached, and the two angels slept, the birds singing their lullaby and the branches creaking in the wind. They didn't need to dream. To them, reality was far better.