Rebecca was the last onto the small police helicopter. The big man from Alpha Team had shoved into one side of the seats, and Jill and Chris had followed next to him. Rebecca supposed it was important that they be close just then; she empathized with that need. But sitting, even leaning, felt like too much right now. Instead she fell to her knees and lay down under the opposite bench, facing away from them. The cold metal shook under her as the chopper took flight.
"Hey..." someone said.
"I'm tired," Rebecca mumbled, and folded her hands under her cheek.
"Well, okay!" came the voice of the pilot, hollering to make himself heard. "Sorry it took me so long. I'd just let you guys off when the engine stalled. I had to touch down and get it fixed before I could come back. It took forever at that time of night."
"No worries, Brad," Chris answered. "You came through in the end, and that's all that matters."
"Yeah, all right. Where are the others?"
Rebecca stared into the steel corner. A layer of dust as thick as a blanket housed a few spiders and a single ladybug shell. She watched the spiders stir in their little webs.
"There aren't others."
"But Joseph, Wesker--"
"They're dead. Brad..."
"What do you..." Rebecca didn't need to see the pilot to sense his anger and bewilderment. When he spoke again he was sputtering. "That's not...Joseph isn't--"
"We saw them die!" cried Jill, agonized. "Brad, please!"
The scene would repeat itself, Rebecca was sure, for days and months and maybe even years afterwards. How would anyone be able to believe what had happened? For every victim of Umbrella, there would be families unable to comprehend what had happened to their loved ones. Rebecca squeezed her eyes shut tight, but the images didn't go away. The blood was vivid, all-consuming; it surrounded her. When she opened her eyes one of the small spiders had captured another and was greedily sucking away its life.
"Bravo Team," the big man said. "What happened to them? Where are they?" Rebecca realized that she didn't know the fates of the rest of her comrades. She was silent while the others conferred amongst themselves,. They were quiet so as not to disturb her, but she heard them all the same.
"We found his body first. And Forest..."
"He died on the balcony. We had his bandolier..."
"Enrico was wounded and shot."
Shot...Wesker? Rebecca thought. Wesker's own bullet in her jacket was practically an afterthought. It seemed more merciful to shoot someone rather than let them be picked apart by zombies. Or was it crueler, killing someone who posed no threat? Did Wesker hesitate, even for a moment?
"Richard died of poison."
"That leaves Edward..."
"He's dead," Rebecca said hollowly. "I killed him."
For a moment there was something like quiet, then the pilot blurted a few incoherent curses. His voice wavered between a strangled cough and tears. "What the fuck," he managed. "What the fuck. I...fuck. I'm not...I'm not leaving unless Joseph's with us."
"Brad!" Jill repeated. "Brad, we can't. We couldn't..."
"No, Jill. It's all right. Brad..." Chris was composed even though the anguish in his voice was apparent. "Bring up the coordinates where we were first let off. It's not far from there."
"Chris," she pleaded.
"He's right. It's important to at least...to see him."
So no one would mourn for Wesker. That was probably what he would've wanted, anyhow. Rebecca couldn't stop thinking about how the night had been a nonstop lesson in death: everything she'd seen challenged her understanding. She wasn't even sure what death meant from just a medical perspective anymore.
Death was what Marcus and Wesker had coveted and feared. They had immersed themselves in it, not to die, but to manipulate its power. Their experiments grew out of an obsession to blur the realm between the dead and the living. Wesker had wanted to follow Marcus's example, to die and emerge again. The entire disaster at Umbrella sprang from that constant battle waging between nature and artifice, hope and deception, life and death.
And in calling Billy dead she had finally set him free.
Rebecca decided she didn't want to be awake when the others went to see the body. She was too tired to grieve. Moreover, it wasn't her place. She had never known him, she would be an intruder in a place only Alpha Team could go. It would be her burden to remember Bravo, because there was no one left to weep for them.
She closed her eyes again and slept the sleep of the dead.
Jill moved slightly from her place on Chris's shoulder. She had worried at first, thought it might be too much, but after seeing what was left of Joseph, she didn't care anymore. To her surprise, Chris had just smiled grimly and patted her leg. He was sleeping now, but there were wrinkles, dark circles and lines that appeared to have creased permanently into his skin. He looked as though he'd aged years overnight.
She noticed Rebecca hunched on the ground. Her whole upper body was shaking with short, jerky motions. The engines resounded over a little noise Jill knew was there.
"Hey," Jill offered.
Rebecca glanced up, her cheeks wet and . "Oh, um," she stammered, "I, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up. It's stupid..."
Jill was overcome with sympathy for this poor girl, who'd had such high hopes and an incredible future ahead of her before today. Now she had lost her teammates, her job, and her innocence. All the youthful optimism and joy she had about the world would be gone forever. She wanted to take Rebecca in her arms, stroke her hair and say I'm so sorry, it's all right, let yourself cry. But Jill couldn't offer comfort, no matter how much she wanted to. It wasn't in her nature.
She did, however, know someone who could.
"Come up here," she said, gesturing at the tiny space of cushion left on Chris's other side. "There's room."
Rebecca wiped her eyes. "N-no, it's okay."
"It's not okay with me. Sit here." There was an unintentional harshness in her voice she didn't mean to have and winced. It would be nice to be gentle for once. "Please," she added halfheartedly.
Although Rebecca didn't look totally convinced, she timidly stood up and staggered across the shifting plane to where Chris was sitting. Jill elbowed Chris hard in the ribs. "Hey, Chris..."
Chris awoke with a loud, throaty snort. "What? Huh? Uh..." When he saw Rebecca he grabbed her close and forced Jill and Barry to shove over some more. "Hey there, doodlebug," he said kindly, ruffling her hair. "It's okay. You can go back to sleep."
For whatever reason, Rebecca began to cry harder. She buried her head in his chest and sobbed. "It's not okay," she hiccuped between tears, "it's not over. There are gonna be questions, trials, doctors..."
"You don't need to worry about that. Just sleep for now. I'll take care of everything."
The way Chris talked was so determined, so confident--so unlike the Chris Jill had come to know. His playfulness wasn't forced, but it was undercut by a new grave seriousness. Jill tilted her chin to whisper in his ear.
"How are you going to take care of this?" she asked.
Chris leaned his face against hers. His breath smelled of salt and the last traces of greasy garlic sauce. "Dunno," he whispered back, "but somebody's gotta, and it might as well be me."
Now Jill rested her head beside his, more for support than anything else. No one in their right mind would try to start piecing lives back together after a disaster like this. Of course, Chris wasn't in his right mind, and he'd take it all on himself if he could. That sort of titan responsibility came as naturally to him as breathing. Jill could already tell he'd work personally to take care of Rebecca, pay for bills in the hospital, and find lawyers for a trial that would finally take down the Umbrella Corporation.
Yet this was different than the way he'd stood up and cared for Claire. He was up against something greater than a personal tragedy, something big enough to destroy him, swallow him whole.
But...you don't have to do it alone...
I'll be there.
Barry squeezed her other hand, and Jill squeezed back. We'll be there. They would all be, whether they wanted to or not. Umbrella had made that choice for them. Whatever the future meant, it wouldn't be so bad if they--if he--could be at her side.
She pulled away and turned to the front seat that was empty, that should not have been empty. There was still a half-empty pizza box on the ground and an empty can of Coca-Cola that had been Joseph's.
We'll be there...
Rebecca fingered a long silver chain around her neck. Jill remembered that she had been out for twice as long as the others; what horrors had she seen? What kind of nightmares had she endured? What sort of woman would she become?
We'll be there.