Chapter XIII

Rebecca padded along the clinic to check up on her patient. She smiled softly to herself. Patient. She'd wondered if she'd ever be given the chance to live out her dream of becoming an actual doctor. Coming from a poor family, her parents and she had jumped at the chance when she was offered a scholarship, provided that she work the sum of her fees for the government. She had chosen the police department, reasoning that she could stay in Raccoon City with her mom and dad. She'd then go on early retirement and go back to school to earn her medical degree. Funny how things work out, she thought to herself. She wasn't in the force anymore and she still wasn't anywhere near getting a medical degree, yet here she was, fighting to save the world and curing people from a dreaded virus. Most of all, she, the girl who always stayed on the right side of the law, ended up working with a fugitive, Billy Coen. Never mind that he was innocent. No one else knew that. She blushed slightly, thinking of him. No doubt he was on the couch he won from an arm-wrestling match with Carlos, snoring softly. The thought of Billy's innocent face as he slept, a contrast to his stone-cold expression while awake, brought a soft smile to her face. She turned the doorknob slowly, and peeked in.

Chris was sleeping on his side, almost as though he was in peace. Because of his improving condition, they had dared to get him off the tranquilizers, an act of mercy to make him rest easier and to keep the hallucinations at bay, even though none of them will ever sleep without nightmares again. Unsurprisingly, Jill was at his side, her head resting on her arms as she dozed off on the chair beside Chris's bed. Their heads were close to and facing each other. No doubt, when Jill wakes up, she'll be embarrassed about the situation, but right now, they had somehow unconsciously sought each other, even in slumber. Rebecca looked around the room and saw Claire sleeping on the small cot in the room, which surprised her. Jill and Chris's younger sister had an unspoken agreement. Claire would be the one to watch over her brother in the mornings, while Jill would take over at night. Neither of them wanted to leave Chris alone for just a single second, but had to accede their teammates' plea to relax.

"Look, Chris wouldn't want you to exhaust yourselves watching over him! He might even blame himself when he wakes up and finds you two sick for not resting!" Barry had told them, frustrated. It was this thought that got Claire and Jill to come up with the unspoken schedule between them, which is why Rebecca was surprised to see both of them in the room at the same time. She couldn't help but worry that something must've happened. Standing over Chris's form, she reached out a hand and felt his forehead. While it was warmer than what was normal, it was an improvement from his condition the day before. To make sure, she pulled out a thermometer from the small bag she was carrying. 102 degrees. He was now running on slight fever. The ultrasound she took earlier showed no peculiarities in his internal organs, and his CT scan, while showing some minor spikes in the readings, wasn't anything to be alarmed about. It was now up to him to wake up, and knowing Chris, he would fight his way back to consciousness. Making sure that everything is still as they should be, she headed out again, closing the door behind her. As she stepped out, a pair of eyes popped open.

Perhaps it was her training or her horrific past, even both, but Jill had become a light sleeper, and as soon as the door creaked open, she had immediately been on alert. Her guard had lowered when she saw it was Rebecca, but didn't bother letting her know that she was awake. She didn't feel like talking to anyone right now. She stood up slowly and went over to the small cot Claire was sleeping and arranged the jacket she was using as a blanket. A slight adjustment revealed a shiny mark on Claire's shoulder, and Jill's eyes became pensive when she saw it, remembering the events earlier that evening.

Claire had run into the room to Chris's side, sobbing. Only when she was able to touch her brother and Jill's reassurance that he was doing fine did Claire finally speak. "I had a dream," she said, as tears flowed freely from her eyes. "I dreamt that… that Chris didn't make it, and I had… I had to shoot him. Oh God, Jill, what if he doesn't get through this? What if he dies? What if he turns into a zombie? What if-" And she broke down again, crying her eyes out on Jill's shoulder.

Jill felt Claire's pain as though it were her own. The younger woman's words voiced out her concerns, the fears she's had after finding out that Chris had been infected. Yet she knew she couldn't go with Claire. She had to be strong, for the three of them. "He's going to be okay," she said instead, trying to sound as soothing as possible as she stroked Claire's hair. "Becca's smart, she knows what she's doing, she's giving everything she has to fight this virus."

"But what if-"

"No buts," Jill said gently but firmly, pulling Claire slightly away from her. "We have to stay positive. For Chris."

Claire nodded slowly, her tears eventually ceasing. "Thanks, Jill," she said quietly.

"Hey, if you want, you can stay here," Jill said gently. "I'll just take the spare room and…"

"No, it's okay, I'll just go back to my room," Claire said quickly, but her glance to her brother betrayed her thoughts.

"Stay," Jill said firmly. "You take the cot, I'll just take this chair," pointing at a small rickety-looking chair at the corner.

"Are you sure? I don't want to impose…"

Jill gave her a wan smile. "You're his sister. I can understand why you'd want to be by his side."

Claire gave a small smile in return. "Thanks, Jill."

"I haven't been using a pillow and a blanket, I thought Chris would need those more," Jill said, indicating towards Chris, whose head was propped on two pillows. "I hope that's okay if you don't have those."

"No problem, I'll just use my jacket," Claire said, removing the article of clothing and began balling it to make a pillow. Jill's gasp interrupted her action. "What's wrong?" She asked, puzzled.

"Your shoulder…" Jill blurted out.

"Oh, sorry. I forgot you didn't know about this yet," Claire said, touching the shiny patch of skin. Her scar on her shoulder extended from upper right arm and then disappearing into the sleeveless shirt she was wearing, hiding the rest. In the darkness, it was impossible to see if it was new or old.

"What happened?" Jill asked, almost involuntarily. Immediately, she closed her mouth again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

"Don't worry, you're not. You should know this, anyway," Claire dismissed her apology. "Some idiot ran us off the road on our way to have a vacation and caused an accident. You know, the one that killed my parents," she said, trying to sound nonchalant, but the slight tremble in her voice told Jill that even after all these years, she hasn't forgotten it.

"I'm sorry," Jill said softly. "I remember Chris saying something about it…"

"But I'm willing to bet he didn't tell you what role he played in the accident."

Jill's head whipped around. "What do you mean?"

"Don't worry, he didn't do anything wrong," Claire replied, a ghost of a smile on her lips. "When we got forced off the road, Daddy tried to compensate by turning the wheel, but it was too late. Before we knew what was going on, we were tumbling down the side of the mountain."

"Oh my god…" Jill had no idea. Even though Chris mentioned the accident, he never went into detail, choosing instead to change the topic every time. Now Jill wished she didn't, wished that she could have shared Chris's pain.

"The car eventually stopped on its side, but we weren't out of danger," Claire continued, her voice in a careful monotone. "Somehow, the engine flew out and caused the fuel to spill. A small spark, and we were suddenly surrounded by fire. Chris crawled out pretty easily, he always insisted that he sit behind Daddy while they're driving. He only realized that I was still stuck inside when he was already out. My shoulder had burned and got stuck in the car seat. Chris crawled back in to get me. He literally saved my life. That's why… That's why I don't think I could make it if I lose him. I don't think I'll be strong enough."

"What about… What about your parents?"

"They died right there," Claire said, her voice still monotonous. "Chris tried to wake them, but it was no use. The firemen had to pull Chris away from the car because he didn't want to stop the fight. Ten years later, here we are," Claire finished, attempting to smile, but her lower lip trembled.

"I'm so sorry, Claire," Jill said softly.

"Don't be, it's not your fault," Claire replied, waving off Jill's comment. She hesitated, and then continued, "I know it's not my place to say this, but why wouldn't you give my brother a chance? We Redfields aren't known for being talkative about our lives, we just take things the way they are - even if it kills us. If Chris wakes up, can you at least try and hear his side of the story?"

"Believe me, I want to," Jill said, her voice soft. "I just hope it's not too late." Trying to lighten the mood, she shot Claire a grin. "Since when did you get to be so wise?"

Claire smiled back. "I have to, my brother's not really known for being the world's smartest guy," she joked. She settled down on the cot, wrapping her jacket around her. "Give him the chance, alright?"

Jill sat quietly in the dark now, recalling her conversation with Claire earlier. She meant it when she told the younger woman that she wanted to give Chris a second chance, and she hoped with everything she got that she would have that opportunity. Her anger at him for leaving her seemed paltry now, even more now after hearing Claire's story. Of course. Chris would have given everything he got to find his younger sister, especially after having literally saved her life and losing their parents in the process. For a moment, errant thoughts about Chris's rumored playboy tendencies popped in her head, but she pushed them down. Does it even matter? Chris had told her he loved her. She just hoped that she would be able to tell her the same thing.

Jill woke up slowly, to the sensation of someone stroking her hair gently. For a moment, she was disoriented. Exhausted with her thoughts, she had finally fallen asleep, her head cushioned in her arms on Chris's bed. Her head automatically turned to the cot, but saw that it was empty, with no trace that Claire had spent the night there. She lifted her head slowly, and saw Chris looking down at her with an oddly gentle look on his face. Unaccountably, her eyes filled with tears.

"Chris… Welcome back," she said, crying and smiling at the same time.

"I'm sorry, Jill," Chris said softly, his eyes on hers.

"For what?"

"For everything. For making you cry, for hurting you, for leaving…"

"There's nothing you should apologize for. I understand now. I've been selfish. Claire told me about what happened when you were younger… About the accident. I shouldn't have taken your going after Claire against you. I'm the one who should be sorry."

"Claire wasn't the reason why I left."

"What?" Jill asked incredulously.

"Don't misunderstand, I would do everything I can for Claire, but… She wasn't the reason why I left early. When you get down to it, I didn't even have any real leads to follow."

"What are you saying?"

Chris paused, as though debating with himself if you should continue. Finally, he spoke again. "The reason why I left Raccoon… Was because of you," he said, avoiding her eyes.

"Me? What…?"

Chris laughed mirthlessly. "I was afraid. We were close before, but… After the Mansion incident, I felt protective of you. Hell, when I saw you in that cell, it was all I could do to rip Wesker apart. I think I've started falling for you even before Arklay, but it was only when those things happened that I realized it, and… I tried to fight it." He shook his head. "I was scared… People that I cared about seemed to die. My parents died, and I was barely able to save Claire. She was in the hospital for so long… I didn't even know if she would make it out alive."

"Claire's okay, Chris. She's fine."

"I was stupid. Instead of facing the situation, I took off. That's why I sent Barry to get you. I needed time to clear my head. It was only when I saved Claire and knew about Steve that I realized… Sometimes love is something that you fight for, that you take risks in. Steve did that for Claire, even knowing that he would die. I decided to take that risk with you, but when I got back," and his mouth twisted, "You were with Carlos."

"I was never with Carlos, Chris," Jill said softly.

Chris continued as though he didn't hear Jill's soft reply. "I knew was that I screwed up big time. We used to talk about everything before, even the small, stupid things, but when I got back, things were different. I was too late. You didn't talk to me when you were obviously hurting, but you talked to him. In a way, I understood it, and a part of me thought that I deserved it. After all, he was right. We were partners, but I effectively left you for dead. I wasn't there with you in Raccoon. I wasn't the one who protected you from Nemesis. I could have protected you from being infected, but I wasn't there," Chris shook his head angrily. "You had to go through hell all over again, but I wasn't with you. Carlos was."

"Chris…"

This time, Chris looked Jill full in the face, his eyes full of pain. "If it's Carlos you want, Jill, I won't get in the way. I just want you to know that I love you, and no matter what happens, I'll be here for you from now on."

"Chris, you idiot."

"What?" After Chris's confession, being called an idiot was the last thing he had in mind.

"It was never Carlos, Chris. It was always you. Even before the Mansion, way back when we were in training and you were assigned as my partner, it was always you," Jill said, smiling genuinely for the first time in days. "I love you."

"Ah, Jill," Chris groaned out, pulling Jill to his side in a one-armed embrace. "I don't deserve you," he said, burying his face in Jill's hair.

"No, you don't, but I chose you, so deal with it," Jill answered, laughing through her tears. "But if you ever leave me again like that without having a good reason, I swear, I will shoot you."

Chris laughed too. "I promise," he said tenderly. He tilted Jill's chin up, and gently brought her face to his. As their lips were about to meet, the door suddenly burst open, and Chris felt something hurtle into him.

"Claire!"

"Never ever do that to me again!" Claire cried, bawling her eyes out on Chris's shoulder. "You promised after Rockfort you wouldn't leave me!"

Chris hugged his sister just as fiercely. "I promise. I'm sorry, Claire," he said, his eyes unaccountably filling with tears again.

"Claire, easy on your brother, he just recovered," a young man said, laughing. He stretched out his hand to Chris, and then to Jill. "Leon Kennedy. I'm glad you're alright, sir."

"Thanks for saving my sister back in Raccoon," Chris said simply. As an afterthought, he added, "And don't call me sir."

As Leon laughed apologetically, Barry, Rebecca, and Billy came in, with Carlos trailing behind. Chris was once again subject to having a girl launch herself at him, as Rebecca hugged him fiercely. "I can't believe you're alright!" Rebecca exclaimed.

"I am, thanks to you," Chris said, grinning. He pulled away when he saw the man with tattoos in his arm glowering at him. He extended his hand to him. "You must be Billy."

Billy took his hand, exerting a little more force than necessary. "Billy Coen, former Marine."

"Chris Redfield," Chris replied. In a mock whisper, he tilted his head to Rebecca's direction and said, "Take care of her, alright?" causing her to blush fiercely and the others to laugh uproariously.

"Okay, kids, let's get out of here," Barry said loudly, guiding the others out of the room. "It's getting a little crowded in here, and I think we interrupted something," looking at Chris and Jill with a twinkle in his eye, making them turn red. Before he stepped out, he went to Chris's bedside, and shook his hand. "I'm really glad you're okay, Chris."

"Thanks, Barry. Me too."

Barry gave Jill and Chris a smile, and left.

Chris tugged Jill to his side. "Now, where were we?"

After promising Chris that she'll be back after getting some water, Jill made her way to the kitchen. She had just stooped to get the pitcher when Carlos appeared at her side.

"Jill, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure, Carlos. What's up?"

"I'm leaving."

"Why? I thought…"

"Not for good," Carlos assured her. "I just thought it would be best… Given the circumstances."

"Oh." Jill understood.

"I'm happy for you and Chris, Jill, really, I am. You both deserve this. It's just… I don't think I can take seeing you two together, at least, not yet."

"I'm sorry, Carlos."

"It's alright, it's not your fault. I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. Oh, and for the record, your right hook is stronger than Chris's," Carlos said, making an attempt to lighten the air.

Jill laughed. "Where are you planning to go?" She asked softly.

Carlos shrugged. "I don't know… I don't have a family anymore, so I thought I'd see the world, take in the sights, you know? That's one of the reasons why I became a mercenary anyway, I wanted to go around the world. Maybe I'll send you guys pictures of me being a real, honest-to-goodness tourist," he said, the corner of his mouth quirking.

Jill laughed again. On impulse, she kissed Carlos on the cheek.

"What was that for?"

"Nothing. Just my way of saying thanks… For everything. Take care of yourself, right? And I'll hold you to your promise of coming back."

"Don't worry, I will," Carlos said, giving a small wave and then turning around. His exit was interrupted by him hitting the corner of the table.

"Ow!"

"Are you okay?" Jill said, stepping to him, but Carlos waved her off.

"I'm fine," he said, rubbing his hip. "That's another reason why I should go around. I need fresh air to make me feel better. I'm turning clumsy around here!"

Jill chuckled, watching Carlos leave.

"Jill?"

"Coming!" Jill made her way back to Chris's bedroom, pitcher in hand. Come to think of it, Carlos hasn't been looking well lately.

"Ah, you've finally arrived. Now we can get back to work."

"Yes, sir."

"Hawkins, lead this man to the labs. I've got some plans for him." Wesker's dark sunglasses gleamed as he watched Carlos being led off to the laboratory by a technician. His sharp eyes caught the three punctures on the young mercenary's neck, and he smiled evilly.

And that's the end of "Answered Questions"! I know, I know, hanging ending again. Don't kill me!:P I just wanted to give a possible answer on Carlos's sudden disappearance, even if this is pretty unlikely. Anyway, I hope you liked the story, I had so much fun writing it, especially putting some elements in the games here. It's funny, because the story changed so much from my original idea of it, but I still like how this one ended. I have a follow-up story in mind, most probably events between Umbrella Chronicles and RE:5 (btw, do you guys watch the viral videos for the new game? Can't believe Chris dated a girl who isn't Jill. Hurmph.), so I hope you'll also follow that. Maybe I'll continue this hanging plot there, too.:P

Anyway, my long-overdue thank-yous and messages are in order:

Stardust4, thank you! You've R&Rd every chapter I've written, I can't believe it! Haha! Thanks so much for the lovely reviews, and for giving these suggestions and ideas on what to write next. Most of all, thanks for letting me know that Jill's eyes are blue! Haha! You rock!

Agent Krivins, you're definitely one of the people I was so encouraged to continue writing the story for. Thanks for the blow-by-blow review, as well as the message you sent.

J.L. Zielesch, jane, GottaDance 88, 30 Seconds to YOUR MOM, thanks for the reviews! I love how you really get into the story. It adds to the fun element of writing, and it makes me want to write even more

sexyblondeangel88, xRaine Nothingx, Barbie13, d-d-chan-67, T, Ike x Pit Fan, thanks for dropping by a line. I love reviews, so thanks for stroking my

John234, thanks! I remember the games using the word "vaccine", so I carried it over to my story, conveniently forgetting of the vaccines I received when I was a kid.x_x I am so excited for RE: 5, especially since they're continually releasing promos and ads about the game. I seriously hope they don't kill off Jill, I'm probably not going to follow the storyline anymore if they do (for real).

To those who read the story but haven't reviewed it, shame on you! No, just kidding.:P It would be great if you left a short message though, even if you tell me you hated it. That way, I'll know how to improve.

If I've missed anyone, it's unintentional, and I'm sorry for that. Anyway, have fun! I would love to write more stories for you, so do stay tuned.:)