Chapter X

The walls of the hospital room were a sterile white and it smelled distinctly of disinfectant. Outside the snow had started to fall again, placing another coat of white over Raccoon City.

In the bed beside the window Brad Vickers slept peacefully, covered with a set of heavy blankets. His injury had been seen to by the doctors. Further complications weren't anticipated and after a necessary time of healing, he wouldn't suffer of any after effects of the broken leg.

Opposite of him on the other side lay Jill Valentine, sitting in her bed and leaning against the propped up pillow. In her bandaged hands she held a copy of Raccoon Today, catching up on the events they had missed during the mission. Jill had sustained minor to middle grade freezings and a light pneumonia. Luck had really been on her side, the doctors had said; it could have ended much worse.

Chris Redfield was outside on the corridor, waiting for the coffee machine to serve him with the hot drink. He selected a cup for himself and a hot chocolate for Jill. With only a broken nose, Chris was free to go home already, but he decided to stay with the rest of his team until matters were cleared once and for all.

Barry and Bravo Team were at the RPD, evaluating the final data on Clive Havel. Havel had been given the medical attention he required - there had been more blood than real harm done to his hand - and was currently recovering in another room, under constant supervision from Joseph Frost and Kenneth Sullivan.

His near future was a foregone conclusion, it only needed to be transferred on paper and approved by the two STARS captains and police officer Brian Irons. Havel would spend the rest of his life in a high security prison some way from Raccoon. He was charged for cold blooded murder and homicide, various evidence and witnesses would testify against him when the time came.

Havel didn't have close family or friends, relatives of any kind were impossible to find. He had been a trained hunter, working for Arklay National Park as forest ranger, but had been fired two months ago due to unprofessional behavior. What exactly had led to his discharge was unknown, since only his former partner - one of the first victims - knew of the exact details. In total, eight people had died in the madness, and five officers had been injured. It was a remarkable count for a single man; and an even greater motivation for the STARS teams to improve their skills.

The coffee machine beeped its finish. Chris took both steaming cups and went towards Jill and Brad's room, a half grin on his face as he gestured towards Jill's hot chocolate.

"You don't know how often I had to think of this during the last two days," Jill confessed as she put away the newspaper and replaced it with the mug, holding it a little haphazardly due to the bandages.

Chris chuckled. "No wonder. It's been pretty cold out there. You're real tough, you know? Insisting on your daily bath even in the most extreme situations."

The comment made Jill roll her eyes and snort mockingly.

Chris patted her on the shoulder and gave her a wink. "At least you get a new weapon now."

"I was happy with my old."

"I bet you wouldn't have been if it had blown your hand off."

"That's because it was iced and full of frozen water."

"You and the Captain were really lucky Havel didn't notice that fact. Saved your lives."

"We would have managed anyway," Jill said in defense, then sighed. "But of course you're right. The whole fall-into-water thing had its benefit, after all."

"How come he didn't know though?" Chris suddenly asked, his expression thoughtful.

"Didn't know about what?"

"Havel. The gun. Wesker said he knew about his cracked ribs and used it as an advantage in the fight, but the weapon caught him completely off guard."

Jill nodded, silent for a moment. "I guess - I can't say for sure - but that Havel knew about Wesker's ribs might have indirectly been my fault. I asked if something was wrong while we walked, because he kept resting one side. Havel must have listened in on us at that time. As for the gun, well, I can't remember anything, but Wesker told me he took it as soon as he pulled me out of the water. And that was in the middle of the storm, in the middle of that goddamn lake. I don't see how Havel could have observed us there without giving himself away. He must have thought its a secondary weapon in the final confrontation and there really was no time to check on the state of the gun."

"Probably, yeah."

"How's the Captain, by the way? Haven't seen him around yet."

Chris shrugged and sipped some more at his coffee. "Getting his ribs put back together, I guess. Last time I saw him he was giving Enrico orders on further procedures and signed some document - presumably Havel's imprisonment - then he walked off with a doctor. Broke two ribs and cracked a third, as far as I know. He also came down with a slight cold, but I guess that hasn't surprised anyone."

"It was goddamn chilling out there. I was sure I could say goodbye to my fingers and toes after that plunge."

Chris giggled. "Tough Jilly. When do they let you go home?"

"I don't know. If the doctor said anything on his first visit I didn't pay attention."

"Can't be too long," Chris said and shrugged.

"I guess so."

They drank the coffee and hot chocolate and put the empty cups on the nightstand beside Jill's bed.

"I think I'm going to go check on the others," Chris said. "See if I can find the Captain, or get a hang of the Bravos."

"You do that," Jill agreed with a nod and raised her bandaged hands demonstratively. "I'll be right here for another while, keep Brad some company."

They looked over at the sleeping Alpha pilot and Chris grinned. "Brad's missed out on all the fun."

"I bet it hasn't been a walk through the park for him either."

"He'll be on his feet again soon. At least he doesn't have to write a long report on the case."

"That's not very funny, Chris."

"Nevermind me then. I'll leave you two alone. Later, Jill."

"Take care, Chris."

---

Wesker read the last lines of the form Enrico had brought him earlier, taking the pen from beside the bed and scribbling his signature at the bottom, along with the Bravo Captain and Chief Irons.

This and three other pages detailed Clive Havel's crimes and would finally send him out of their lives. Apart from the reports of his team he would get later that week, the case was officially closed.

Wesker sighed, putting the clipboard with paper and pen on the nightstand. He was careful not to in-, or exhale too briskly and avoid any brusque movement. Two broken ribs and a third cracked one were the result of his trip into the wild and if it hadn't been for Havel's knowledge of his injuries and the punches they sustained, the doctor had told him he would have gotten away with only bruises.

Irons had agreed to give Alpha team the three days off - with the exception of Vickers, who'd be out of commission for longer. Someone knocked at the door and Wesker half expected to see one of the officers enter to collect the forms.

When a white coat appeared in the doorway, he arched an eyebrow. It wasn't the doctor - what was his name, George Hamilton? - but another man. In his mid-thirties, with dirty blond hair and the signs of an unshaved beard, the man looked as if he hadn't seen a bed in the last few days. Dark circles adorned his eyes and his skin was pale, almost sickly so. He had a stock of papers and folders clasped under his arm. He put them on the nightstand and dropped into the chair beside Wesker's hospital bed, visibly exhausted.

"You look worse than me," Wesker assessed.

The man rolled his eyes, and waved his hand. "Don't flatter yourself. You don't have a mirror."

Wesker smirked. "Neither do you, apparently. You should work less. But I guess catching up on old times isn't why you're here."

"No. Spencer sends me. You're quite in delay with the paperwork for the Arklay Labs. He said this is the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time."

"Why, he seems to know exactly how I like to spend my free time..."

"I hear the sarcasm, Albert. But really, it's your fault. You keep insisting on staying Head Counselor there."

"Only until someone with enough brains is recruited into the company. You'd say the researchers these days are as mindless as the carriers they're experimenting on. The whole facility would go into ruins."

"I see where you're coming from. We've got the same problem over at our place." He took a glance at his watch, sighing. "I better head back before they blow something up." In a mumble he added, "Incompetent bunch."

"Take a break sometime," Wesker offered. "You look like a ghost."

"Thank you for your concern, Albert. Enjoy the paperwork." He stood up, brushed his coat straight and ran a hand through his greasy hair.

"Greetings to Annette and Sherry," Wesker said. "Thanks for playing the message boy, William. Now run back to your labs before they manage the breakthrough without you."

The comment seemed to unsettle the researcher for a moment. He contemplated to say something, opened his mouth, but decided against it eventually. Waving a short goodbye he left the hospital room and Wesker could hear his hurried steps echoing down the corridor until he turned the far corner.

Forcing himself to take a look at the work Birkin had left for him, Wesker sighed. It turned into a wince as a wrong movement triggered pain in his side.

What he saw was a great waste of paper and time, but he knew that he wouldn't get around to do it. The head researchers over at Arklay were poking knives in his ribs about it anyway, and right now that was the last thing Wesker needed.

Still, he didn't lean over to grab any of the folders. He couldn't say who looked worse in the end, Birkin or he, but the struggle concerning the RPD forms had eaten up all of his patience already. If he couldn't have three free days, then at least one to the end.

So instead of starting to fill out the reports that needed to be done for Arklay, Wesker took the novel Chris Redfield had left him when he had come to visit earlier.

"It's a crime story", Chris had claimed as he handed over the book.

With a grin he would add, "Full of twists and turns. It'll keep you hooked till the end."


Years of love have been forgot, In the hatred of a minute.

-- Edgar Allan Poe


THE END


So, it is done. The ending quote refers to Clive Havel's motifs. While he was dedicated to his job and hobby as a hunter and forester for year, whatever happened during the incident with his partner that led to his discharge changed his entire view of the world. Things like that happen everyday.

With that I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who stuck around till the end of the story. You guys rock my world, and you should know that. I can't say how much I owe you for keeping up with my slow updates (sadly, this uni year turned out to be more challenging and time-consuming than I had initially planned) and you shall be rewarded with a lot more one shots and stories in due time. The release of RE5 gives me a lot of facts that have to be worked on.

Which is, why exactly the next piece will be another pre-mansion adventure. Here, a small sneak preview:

sine sole sileo
without the sun i'm silent
Investigating a new strain of Progenitor in Africa, Birkin and Wesker find more than they bargained for. Little do they know what effects the pathogen has on a host's mind.

[…]Birkin held on to the flashlight as if he was gripping life's last threads. It was the only thing he could relate to in the absolute darkness surrounding him, made of cold stone walls, brute, rugged rock and the smell of stuffy air that hadn't seen the outside world in years.

He wondered where Wesker was, if Wesker was still alive at all. He wondered what had happened to the others, but all of this was just fleeting thought, grasped in one moment and lost in the next. He was too busy concentrating on his surroundings, jump at every suspicious noise, trying to keep his heart from its attempt to escape his ribcage and flee this gruesome place. He held the flashlight in cramped hands, and they hurt, but he didn't care, didn't dare open his grip around the only source of light there was.

The fear of being alone in the dark, he realized, wasn't really about that, about being alone. It was that absurd, pulsing horror in the back of your head reminding you that you might, after all, not be alone at all. […]

This story will be M rated, so make sure to adjust your settings. I won't give a date for posting it yet, but I want to have most of it written by the time the first chapter goes up. Stand alone one-shots might be uploaded in between, to keep you interested.

See you soon!