They beam things into your head
The ghosts of your pleasure and contempt
When we were liars things were seamless
When we were wired, the world was like a secret
I close my eyes now and I scream
I turn the light on and there's nothing left redeeming
I saw your face before it changed
The gun it makes you look nicer in a bad way
Blood. The average human body possesses approximately five litres of the precious stuff; more than enough to drown a man in. And Chris is drowning in every bloody drop that slicks his hands and drenches his clothing. It's filling up his lungs until he chokes, every fibre of his body screaming for air, for mercy.
With every beat of her frantic heart Jill Valentine is bleeding to death in his arms. She's calmer than he is, resigned maybe, or perhaps just too far gone to panic now. But she's always been the level-headed one, the one to tell him when he's crossed the line, when he needs to take a step back and apologize. Her fingers are twisted into the fabric of his shirt, into his skin, holding on for what's left of her dear life. In an attempt to stem the flow of blood Chris had used his jacket as a makeshift dressing, holding it tightly in place by cinching up the remains of her useless tactical vest. It's not working. Under his breath he recites a mantra that begs her to hold on, just to hold on a little longer…
His chest cavity has become a combustion chamber; each breath burning in and out like a fire is wrapped around his heart, boiling his blood. Despite the cool air his skin is flushed, his dark hair damp with sweat. He doesn't feel it; the only sensation his nerves register is the hot spill of her blood and the damning clamminess of her skin beneath it. He feels terrified.
On the edge of the mountain lake, just a few dozen meters away, the rest of the team is prepping the helicopter for their escape. The junked-out warehouse whose former owners relied on armor-piercing rounds instead of planning and training is just behind him, deserted. The first rays of light that pierce the fading night have cast everything in a deep blue glow, the airfoils glinting as the dark shapes of his comrades hurry to pack up. This is Jill's favourite time of day; just before the sunrise when the morning has yet to take shape. Chris prefers day, as long and as bright as he can find it – no shadows, no secrets. His long legs eat up the distance, his boots solid on the rocky earth beneath them.
"Chris," her voice is breathless with pain and shock, "here."
He doesn't stop moving, his steps measured to be as quick and as smooth as he can manage. There is no time left now.
"Chris!" His name is a gasp, a whimper on her lips, and suddenly he doesn't have the heart to deny her. Jill Valentine doesn't gasp in pain, she doesn't whimper. The sound of it splits something in his chest wide open.
In the distance the blades of the helicopter whirl to life, the mechanical noise of the engine disturbing the tranquility of the small clearing. The clear water of the mountain lake begins to ripple from the force of the air moving over top, some of the nearby trees tossing their branches. But his feet have stopped moving.
"Where?" his voice is rough from disuse, from the harsh, panting breaths that have dried his throat.
"Here, by the water."
He tells himself that it will only be for a minute, that he'll humour her for just a minute and they can be back on their way. He's humouring himself to keep believing that he can still save her. In reality he knows that after all they have been through together, all that she has given him in their time together, he at least owes her the dignity of choosing where she wants to die.
A darkly dressed figure leaps out of the waiting helicopter and makes its way over to where Chris is easing them down onto the large, rounded rocks of the shore. The medic picks his way over the large, gnarled limbs of a dead tree and crouches down beside the pair. He doesn't have to take her pulse to know the situation is bad; her skin is ashen and her breathing erratic. The entire front of her bullet-hole ridden vest is wet with dark blood. There's not much of a job for him here, but he places two fingers against her neck to keep up appearances.
"Tell them to kill the engine," Jill rasped, pulling his hand away from herself. The middle-aged man looked up at Chris – Jill was his superior in rank, but Chris was the Team Leader of his operation.
Chris looked down at the gruesomely pale face of his partner, heard the strain of her rapid, shallow breathing echo through his head. They were too far out; it would take hours to fly back to the nearest BSAA base. Even the nearest hospital was a stretch, and it would be a gamble as to whether or not they would be equipped to deal with something like this. It was likely that she would die in transit, amid the noise of the wind and the engines, laid out amongst the booted feet of both the men she had trained with and the ones who had done this to her.
But, if they stay, his partner – his best friend will die here, now, with him. Jill touches his neck and he swallows hard, nodding to the older man. The beach rocks shift as the medic steps away and a moment later the whirl of the blades stops. This is how it ends.
Chris feels his entire body start to tremble. Gently, he shifts her in his arms so he's cradling her more fully; her head nestled in the crook of his arm, her legs stretched out over his. She fits perfectly against his chest - she always has - although he's never taken the time to appreciate it.
"Jill please," he's breathing almost as badly as she is, his system suffering a different kind of shock. He wants to say something reassuring, but the words won't come. "Not like this, not you."
"It's okay Chris. I'm not afraid."
"No," he shakes his head, pinpricks behind his eyes making his sinuses feel thick. There's no escaping that this is his fault, that the blame of it must rest squarely on his shoulders alone. "There's still time…"
"It's okay," she says again, turning her head to look across the water where just above the deep valley on the other side the sky is beginning to turn pink. "If I can see the sunrise then today still counts, right?"
It's an old joke of theirs; she's trying to make him feel better. They used to count the days they'd survived after the mansion, the days they were never supposed to have. The sunrise was safety, salvation. Sunrise meant the day had really dawned, that the nightmares crawled back to their shadows for a few hours. Chris looks up towards the valley, the coloured light of it reflected as a perfect mirror in the still water. It's beautiful.
This is torture.
"I can't finish this without you," he admits, gently brushing an errant strand of hair back from her face with shaky fingertips. She closes her eyes and winces as a wave of pain jolts her system and Chris thinks that he might actually lose his mind if he has to endure this. He needs her more than he's ever been willing to admit. More than he can admit to her even now. She is a part of him he's not willing to let go of.
"Of course you can," Jill puts her hand on his cheek, leaving an imprint of red. "You've always been the stronger one."
It's a lie. She's always had a strength beyond what he can comprehend.
"Then maybe I just don't want to."
She manages a smile.
"Since when do you ever get what you want?"
"Jill, don't. Don't joke… don't leave me like this…not like this." The words are raw, heartbreaking. Jill doesn't want him to have to suffer like this alone; she knows she has the easy part.
"You'll be okay," her thumb strokes over his cheekbone. She'll never touch him again. The warmth of his hand folds over hers, holding it against the slight roughness of his cheek. "You're going to be okay Chris."
He just shakes his head; his throat is too tight to speak, too tight to tell her all of the things he thought they would have years for. A fresh wave of pain wracks her body, twisting it up. Chris holds her as tightly as he can, waiting for the spell to wash over her, but her body stays tight, frantic.
"It's okay Jill, I've got you."
All he can hear is her voice, her breathing, and the steady click of her watch counting down in his ear.
"Jill…" His voice cracks. It's embarrassing but it doesn't matter now.
"Chris…" Her fingers tighten in his hair one last time. He surrounds her entire awareness, the great, safe haven of his arms, the rapid jackhammer of his heart in the unyielding wall of his chest. For her, there is no place more comfortable to pass. Her partner, her best friend, she can't hear the words he mouths against her temple.
Chris looks up across the lake, across the rounded pebbles and the perfect glass of the water. The sun is just peeking up over the valley, sending shafts of golden light across the scene. Up over head, the pink is turning into an endless, pure blue. It's horrible.