RE: Inclination

A/N: I never really intend to start a new story. Most of the time it just slaps me in the face and I can't help but write it. This is one of those. I watched RE: Degeneration two weeks ago (yes, I'm behind the times again) and I couldn't help but see how hard it seemed they were trying to keep Leon and Claire out of the same scenes. But they redeemed themselves! The elevator scene when Leon sends Claire out to safety… it was short… but coupled with what Leon does at the end of the film… ah. That's the stuff fanfic is made of.

How long had he been in the hospital? Leon couldn't quite figure that out. He sat quietly through the nurse checking his bandages and offered her a half smile. The young woman smiled warmly back. There was something wrong about the way that she looked. It was the same thing that was wrong with the way Angela looked when she smiled at him.

Oh right, pity.

Leon hated that look in the eyes of anyone when it was fixed on him, more when it was a woman that was giving him that look. Especially a woman he was 'with'. And Angela had that about her face. She was suffering so much that she couldn't seem to imagine him doing anything but suffering more. It wasn't true. He didn't feel like he was suffering at all.

Quite the opposite, he was fighting.

Until she was doing more of the latter and less of the former, they would be incompatible. Sometimes, Leon thought, there were two worlds on the same planet. The people who had been affected by Umbrella's t-virus, and those that hadn't. Those that had were all moving towards the same place. Angela had only recently been thrust into the darker world that he lived and worked in. She wasn't at the same place of self-reliance and determination.

"It doesn't look like it will leave a lasting scar, Mr. Kennedy," the doctor said as he reviewed the charts behind the pitying nurse. "But I would like you to take some time off to get some of your normal body weight back. It can be dangerous, pushing yourself as hard as your department does without the appropriate nutrition to back it up."

Leon nodded. The doctor shook his hand, and he and the nurse retreated from his room.

Of course, Leon had no intention of doing any such thing, but there was no reason to say a lie out loud to the doctor about that. He collected his clothes and went to change in the bathroom of his hospital room. In the mirror he saw the flowers Angela had sent him. Hunnigan was being nosy again, it looked like. He hadn't been the one to call and tell the S.R.T. member that he was in the hospital.

What was the point in worrying people about things like that? Either he was going to pull through, or he was going to die. If he died, it would be better to talk than send flowers. And talking could happen…

He gnashed his teeth slightly. Angela's card…

Hope to hear from you soon.

Her words were always cuttingly passive aggressive when it came to how much they didn't talk on the phone. Her idea of 'see you around' was 'call me next week'. It wasn't like she called him either. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Leon thought to himself as he pulled on his t-shirt, his schedule didn't allow for 'next week' very often.

Leon felt guilty for thinking that. It was unfair to Angela. She was just being normal. She just wanted to talk. Or maybe she just wanted him to tell her how to keep on, now that she knew about the darker parts of the world. It wasn't his job to tell people how to keep on. Support groups were for that, though the idea of a zombie survivors anonymous group almost made him nauseous. He could picture that.

'Mr. Kennedy, you're new to the group, why don't you start us off? What was your z-experience like?'

Normally, Leon didn't consider himself to be a violent person, or even an angry one, but the idea of sitting around a circle with Dixie cups full of tang or coffee in uncomfortable folding chairs made him want to shoot something. It didn't even have to be gray and groaning.

Definitely not his style. Far too passive. But like other women he'd known, well… other normal women he'd known, it would probably help Angela be less of a checker. She did it a lot, and he tried not to mention it. But then so had Michelle, and Anya. Lucette before them, and what was the girl's name in 2000? He couldn't remember, and didn't really care. The relationships never seemed to last long enough for them to leave a lasting impression on him. In passing, he did his best to remember their names, but when it was three weeks of happiness while he was in town to talk to and then three weeks of awkwardness before she decided to end it, there wasn't much good waiting on the end of it.

Angela had lasted longer than most of them, but even with her… with all the checking… he just… couldn't keep it up. She had checked him to death, and passive aggressively offended him beyond reason. He was annoyed, now. He knew that was because he didn't see her to miss her… and so when he though of that, when he acknowledged that he wasn't annoyed but only lonely… and that she was liable to break it off the next time they met… he couldn't seem to care about it anymore.

It hurt, of course, not to care like that. Hurt as much as the scar that was healing on his cheek, but… he left it behind. There was always something to do, something to stop, someone to save. And in all that work, he lost what hurt he felt from the people that broke from him.

Tightening the belt a notch more than he was accustomed to, he secured his pants, and then went about finding his shoes. It was a good thing they were releasing him to his own command, he was starting to get stir crazy in the hospital room. Once he was wearing his shoes, he headed out to sign the release papers. He felt naked without his holster on, without the weight of his H&K Sigma. Familiar. Friendly. Safe.

Maybe that was his paranoia, Leon thought, pulling on his leather jacket. It still had blood stains. It always had blood stains. Maybe it was being armed, maybe that prevented the other types of dependence on people, and all the checking they did.

Or, of course, maybe he just got his fix of checking on one person who didn't attack him for it.

Leon took the elevator to the lobby and collected the rest of his things after signing himself out. He tucked the gun away as he headed out of the lobby, the shaded glass doors opening automatically in front of him. His wallet he tucked into his pants, and he stared at his phone.

Might as well get my fix, he thought to himself.

He touched a few places on the screen and lifted it to his ear. "Claire?"

"Oh, Leon, been a while." There was no accusation in the phrase, no annoyance. One individual to another, it was a comment. "Come up with any normal circumstances for us to bump into each other in yet?"

"Not just," he replied. "How are things on your end?"

"About normal. 9 to 5ing it on my path to saving the world."

"Don't sell yourself short. Did you get the file that I sent you about…" Leon couldn't even remember what it was about, honestly. He'd been infected and cured since then, and…

"It was very helpful, thank you Leon." Claire was probably smiling as she said that. She had a habit of smiling. He liked that about Claire. "Oh shoot, I've got to run. I'll call you later today, ok?"

"Sure," Leon said. He would have to answer to Hunnigan, explain why he wasn't taking vacation. "Talk to you later."