Disclaimer: Resident Evil and all characters are the property of Capcom, and are used here without official knowledge or consent. No profit is made, and no claims are placed on anything but the idea.
Author's note: This is entirely written because Chris, his rage issues, and his determination to take Umbrella down all make him one of the more alarming people in canon.
He moves through the wreckage like the last man after the apocalypse. His breath rasps until he gets the mask adjusted, and then the air is foul and smells like burning rubber and traps, but at least his lungs aren't burning. His eyes sting and his vision blurs. Concrete and glass shrieks from underfoot as he stumbles.
He thought he'd get more out of this moment. He gave two fingers and pain-free nights and years off his life for this. Gave up his ability to relax at passing forsteps and stop watching everything in a crowd. Gave Leon's idealism and Barry's faith and Jill's tenacity and Claire's trust and Becca's—Christ.
The feel of victory is the blunt edge of a rubber gas mask digging into his neck and the burn of the virus. His vision is threatening to tunnel on him. Up around the corner is their X, the insider who gave them the security codes to plant the charges to take out Umbrella. Text messages just after the mutant got him:
I'm clawed, infected—six legged hairless beast.
Basement level behind the square outbuilding, where the hlding pens used to be.
First typo he's ever seen from X. Must be partly nerves at their victory. They took out high-profile backers for Umbrella stock, too. He told Jill before the mission began. He doesn't know who she told. They'll know when the news comes on, but dammit, that's what it takes—they've won. Umbrella no longer has the money to build a future. His teeth chatter, and he clenches his jaw and runs on, although he's staggering now so much that he can hardly stay on course. Almost there.
He comes around the corner and freezes. He knows that shape, the hair and glasses, even through the black spots in his vision. Wesker. X was made, killed, and Wesker's here to make the rendezvous. He's not in shape for this.
He knows he's been seen, or heard at the least, but he ducks back, flattens against the wall, and draws his pistol. S.T.A.R.S.'s weapon, S.T.A.R.S.'s enemy standing right there. He brings it up to aim, and sees an open briefcase only. Wesker's moved.
"Do you want the serum or not?"
Wait, Wesker's prepared to use X's supplies for him? Wait, are they X's at all? He puts the pieces together. His head spins. Wesker's X. And he aims at the moving shadows. His enemy comes out on his left, pushes the gun down, slapping it out of his shaky grip. He fights, but it's like he's underwater—Wesker's just grabbed his wrist and is pushing his sleeve up.
"You used me!" He checks to be sure the main building's fallen. Yes. Umbrella's down, damn it, Wesker ought to be jelly at the base of it, ought to be dead like S.T.A.R.S., like—he can't think of her.
"You used X." That's a syringe in Wesker's hand. It's the right color, according to Leon's reports. "You're already infected, Chris. What am I going to do, infect you again?" His voice is more chill than the night around them.
"You—" that makes sense, even to his dazed mind, although beyond that it doesn't. He expects Wesker to be as cold as he looks, as he sounds, but his hands are hot even through the gloves. It's a comfort to his fevered skin. He wants to keep living, despite everything. He turns his arm over.
"Me." That's the sting of the needle, no, changed his mind, this is a bad idea, but he's shaking too hard to do more than shove a braced Wesker back maybe half an inch. "Calm down."
He does, almost, grabbing his confusion and shoving it down under a layer of resolve. "I'm going to kill you."
"How many years would it have taken you to destroy Umbrella without tonight's work?" A wall of the building starts to give at the top, and Wesker looks up, startled, and then gets a shoulder under his arm and starts hauling him away. Chris reaches for his knife, but his survival instinct suggests he let himself get taken out of the immediate radius. He wants to see Claire again. He's not going to see Leon—that hateful glance back as Leon carried Becca's still form away told him that—and Jill's finally away, rebuilding her life. Claire will want to know if he made it out or not. Jill might too, someday.
Wesker lowers him down more gently than he was expecting and leans against a half-broken wall, staring at the burning skeletons of buildings. Chris closes his eyes. World's starting to stabilize. The cold is less because of fever and more because of sweat. He's getting control back, and he thinks he's still got strength.
He sits up. Wesker just gives him a sidelong look and goes back to watching the flames, looking almost hypnotized by the dance of flames.
"You used me. Again." It doesn't make any sense, Wesker's throwing away Umbrella. "The first time you tried to destroy S.T.A.R.S.—"
"Sacrifices were made. With some survivors." Wesker's lips are thinned, and he slides off his sunglasses—damn. Chris was looking forward to knocking those off himself, finally seeing the last monster to kill. Somehow it's not the same, even when Wesker gives him a yellow-eyed look. "Some sacrifices always have to be made, Chris."
"You think that's enough? Just having some people live through your best shot? You tried to kill us!" He pushes himself up.
"How many employees in there do you think knew what was going on?" There's suddenly more light as the wall gives, cascading down and feeding the interior of the burning building.
"I know. I had to-" he stops short, staring at the cast of Wesker's expression in the light, all too familiar.
Wesker just nods, small and sharp.
"We did what we could. We all gave up something for that. Umbrella had to be stopped! We're acting for everyone!" And Wesker has to still have valuable knowledge—he knew this was coming, hell, he's probably got a bioweapons library in his head. Chris draws his knife.
"Miss Chamber's family will be glad to hear that." Wesker's head snaps around, and he dodges away, kicking up and catching Chris' arm. Chris flips the knife into his other hand as his arm flies up and his body starts to be thrown back. He rebounds off the truck's bumper and comes right back in. Wesker's faster, stronger, as he knew, and gets him in a hold and twists his wrist. The knife drops from nerveless fingers. Wesker tosses him back and stalks in.
"About Chambers?" Chris snarls. "It's your men's fault!" Leon's accusing eyes stare from his memory like it was four seconds ago. He twists his head aside, remembers Claire's rough sobbing and Jill's attitude of completely ignoring them all—"Damn you. Damn you. This is your mess. All yours."
"You were never one to let anything interfere with the goal." Wesker's voice is dry and admiring. "I've never underestimated that."
"You did this to us."
"I don't rule Umbrella's every gesture; I didn't lead them into fights against you. You kept your team together and kept leading them into the fight. You got to this point." The flames light up Wesker's reflective eyes, and they alternately shine yellow and red as the wind picks up and drops again. "If it weren't for your commitment, Umbrella would still be functioning." There's something frantic lurking in his voice, but he banishes it a moment later, leaving Chris to guess. "You broke its back, Chris."
"What do you want?"
Wesker hesitates, almost uncertain, eyes glowing in the light of the wreckage. There's something almost vulnerable to his face for a moment, something that almost gives Chris a weak point to target. But then his lips curve ever so slightly in a bitter, mocking smile, and he slides something flat and black from his pocket and snaps it open.
"What?" Chris braces; he knows there might be another self-destruct system out here, doesn't trust Wesker not to break his legs and leave him in the wreckage.
"Spencer survived," Wesker says bluntly, looking at the screen, tilting it to Chris' reflexive lean. "He's the green moving triangle. He made it to the emergency elevator before your bombs went off, it seems. He's always had the best of instincts; but then, he did have HUNK with him."
"Triangle moving where?" He leans in further to look at the image imposed on the map. It doesn't matter that he's shoulder to shoulder with Wesker; his hatred for the man is just another of the echoes he always hears now, something he's fed for so long he can't sustain as he used to.
"He got down through the sublayers and back out the other side. He's headed through the tunnel." Wesker glances over, adding, "which do you want to kill more? Myself, or him?" He walks over to the briefcase, picking up a black gun case from the ground behind it.
"What are you doing?"
Wesker gives him an unreadable look, but Chris can pick up the edges of an impatient expression. And at the same time, there's the vulnerability, once more. "Take this," he snaps open the case, passes him a rifle. Even in Chris' state, he can appreciate a beautiful weapon. Top of the line, pristine condition. "You have one shot. I trust that's all you'll need. And then there's this." The second is a pair of binoculars. "The road passes under the-"
"Bridge. I know." He considered a bomb there, but he couldn't guarantee he'd catch the whole party. Chris takes both items, fingers closing briefly over Wesker's, inhuman heat like a brand even through the gloves. He moves back, then hesitates. He knows now he's cured; he can feel exhaustion, but it's only the same weight he's been carrying for years. "Why are you helping me?" He's known Wesker was obsessed with him; he doesn't know what form the game will take.
"Come see this, and I'll explain." Wesker turns away, and Chris almost wants nothing more than to put a bullet between his shoulderblades—but Spencer's alive and on the move, and he has one round.
Wesker's already there, small tracking screen lying on the edge of the bridge. Chris glances at it; Spencer's still in the lines designated as the tunnel.
"Look there," Wesker says, jerking his chin the other way. Chris looks at the truck, picks up the binoculars, and focusses them. That's—that's Jill, helping Claire along toward her Jeep. Claire's leaning hard on the older woman, limping.
"She didn't tell me she was that hurt." His voice sounds flat in his ears.
"Of course not. She'd hate to worry her dear brother when he seemed mortally injured himself." Wesker goes too far with a touch to the inside of his elbow, where Chris received the antiviral injection, and Chris snarls wordlessly. Wesker's smile is tinged with something sad. "You have a choice. You have several. You could leave me to finish Spencer, if you think I want Umbrella gone, and go tell them you've walked away from it. They'll be glad to have you back, even if you can't play the old Chris for them anymore. Alternately, you could shoot me. Even with my speed, your aim causes me a problem. But they'd hear the shot and think some survivor was after them. You'd be left in the middle of nowhere to watch them both drive away, Spencer safely following behind them."
"And at the last one, I kill Spencer. Then you kill me." He doesn't understand why Wesker cares to play games now.
"No." Wesker glances down at the screen. "If I want someone's loyalty, I've always given them precisely what they wanted most. You want Umbrella gone."
"I'm making a sacrifice." Wesker cuts him off. "Kill Spencer. Walk away with me. I won't bring Umbrella back; you'll stop me if I try."
"Loyalty? I'd just kill you later."
"Are we so different now?"
"I wouldn't give up innocent-" he has to stop. The building behind them puts the lie to that. Bombs were the best way. They worked, with only one target remaining. His fists clench on the rifle.
Wesker is silent; when he speaks it's low and toneless, as if he's trying to let Chris forget he's there. "You've got about thirty seconds."
"You want me with you." It sounds like a joke. He knows it isn't. Too much makes sense now.
"I've always known what you could be."
Chris doesn't have to ask anymore; Wesker's obsession has always been present, in one form or another. It was there subtly as Wesker drove him to improve in STARS, more blatantly since. . . and latest of all this new turn, where Wesker wants Chris' loyalties more than he wants the war machine that Umbrella still could be, if salvaged. Chris has no fear that he's got some horrible new plan for his knowledge, for power. But it can't be the same again.
And what does he have to gain by walking away? He's lost them all. He's broken too many promises, gone where they all said was too far getting the job done. Becky died. Barry's wife died. He's gotten Claire hurt. Perhaps Wesker's the only living being that still would let Chris in close. And would it really be bad to see what he could do with power like that again? To have influence over the worst living Tyrant? There will always be something unresolved if he walks away now. Besides, won't Wesker just try again to draw him in?
And isn't he tired of all of this?
He reaches over with his three-fingered hand, touching the side of Wesker's jaw just for a moment. The way he turns his head, something startled in his eyes and deeply vulnerable in his posture, confirms what Chris suspected. And the vulnerability is there. He can't reach the others anymore, but he knows he can hurt Wesker terribly. Probably just with a gesture.
They've both known too much loss for either of them to walk away from what the other might give, bitter as it is.
"You wanted Umbrella for yourself, didn't you? All along? Since you were eighteen."
Chris smiles at him, mouths the slightest of mocking kisses, watches Wesker start to freeze with rage. He can almost hear the door open as Jill, in the distance, finally gets Claire to the Jeep.
But those are headlights flicking off at the outline of the tunnel, visible since he knows where it is, and he puts the rifle to his shoulder and peers through the night-vision scope. He knows Spencer's face well from hard-won pictures, and the overpowering rush of fury as he finally sees his target is the most he's felt in years. Spencer's driving; that bulky figure slumped in the passenger's seat, bowed over, clutching something against his side, must be HUNK.
Chris waits for just the moment when Spencer looks to the road ahead, then takes the shot. Watches the driver jerk, watches the car leave the road and roll helplessly, almost a toy from this distance. He looks back to the other side of the road, but Jill's truck is gone already. Claire was still walking; she'll make it to the hospital. He's made her come out to this scene, made her save Claire. He has no right to follow yet.
There's only dust and ashes, the ache of victory that just wasn't enough, and a sense of emptiness. It's done. It's all done. He's won. Umbrella no longer exists.
He has no idea what's to come next. He thought he'd die at this. He feels the heat of Wesker moving in close by him, and drops the Tyrant's expensive rifle carelessly over the edge, listening to it break far below. He reaches back, hooking Wesker's jaw with three fingers, pulling his face nearer, leaning back against him. The Tyrant supports him without any apparent effort. There's something comforting in it, since Chris' reflexive hatred for nonhumans long ago burned away; Wesker's superhuman metabolism at least is good for resting sore muscles against.
There's neither questions nor objection. When it comes down to it, Wesker's the one who cares more than he does. It gives him the upper hand, and somehow he doubts he'll ever lose that particular edge.
"You've won," he says, not wanting to think which of them he's speaking to: "you poor bastard."