AN: Not-very-good and quite random RP inspired RE2 angst. For Chaed, who writes Wesker a million times better than I could ever hope to. ^_^
Wesker cursed under his breath as one of William's former subordinates lunged for him, gnarled flesh and bloody teeth reaching for him. He wasn't afraid...no, not at all. In fact, after the Spencer mansion, he doubted he'd fear anything ever again. He'd already died once, and it had taken a Hell of a lot more than a stumbling and infected lab worker to take him down.
And even then, he was still here, wasn't he? Not alive in the strictest sense of the word, but still breathing, still moving. He just wished he was somewhere nice and warm, recovering from the stress of his most extreme career move to date, instead of forcing his way through Raccoon City's subterranean lab complex, answering a distress call from Ada Wong.
Ada...he couldn't honestly say he held a lot of regard for that woman, but he couldn't deny that, nine times out of ten, her cat like agility and seductive manipulations were quite effective in getting her job done. Unfortunately, this was the tenth time out of ten, and she'd fucked up spectacularly. She was lying injured somewhere, after a particularly nasty fall, but this wasn't a rescue operation in the strictest sense. Ada had, clutched to her bleeding chest somewhere, one of the last remaining and intact samples of the G-virus in this Hell-hole, and the Organisation wanted it. And if he could bring back one of their best operatives alive into the bargain, he was fairly certain that wouldn't do any harm to his job prospects.
He made his way quickly through the blood drenched corridors, dispatching the odd carrier, occasionally with his bare hands for the Hell of it...just because he could.
Rounding a corner, he passed what had once been William's office. The door was ajar and the light had been left on, the bulb starting to die and casting an eerie, flickering glow into the adjacent corridor, where Wesker now stood. He was about to shrug and press on, given that he wasn't feeling particularly nostalgic, but a thought occurred to him that stopped him in his tracks. The substance that William had given him, the reason for his second chance...perhaps there would be something in there with a little more information than the cryptic, paranoid note which had accompanied the little glass vial. It wouldn't hurt to check; Ada Wong had survived up until now, she could surely wait another five minutes while he searched his old friend's filing cabinet.
He pushed the door open and glanced at William's desk, typically disordered, exactly the same flurry of organised chaos that he'd always known from the man over the years. He could very well have been looking at the desk of the enthusiastic 15 year old boy who'd shared a room with him at the training facility. He pursed his lips together and frowned; William Birkin was dead and yes, it was regretful, but Wesker couldn't afford to think on his one-time colleague, not now. That wasn't how things went in this line of work. His only hope was that he wouldn't encounter his mutated form on his way to find Ada.
He began to rifle through William's papers, but there was nothing he could find immediately pertaining to his virus. It was hardly surprising – Dr Birkin might have been bad enough at office politics to get himself killed, but he wasn't completely naïve either. This was a waste of time.
It was only when he turned to leave that there was a faint sound, tiny and muffled, a not-quite-but-almost sob, and he withdrew his weapon and trained it at the corner of the room, obscured in shadow. "Who's there?" he demanded, reaching for his flashlight. There was a small part of him that irrationally hoped it would somehow be William's daughter. If she'd managed to survive in all of this, it might restore some small sense of fairness to the whole mess.
He clicked the torch on, and swung it in the direction of the sound. Wesker's eyebrows arched very slightly at the apparition in the corner, another person he'd supposed to be dead for certain. A woman, her face ghostly pale and streaked with dirt and tears, her hands trembling slightly, sat on the floor, partially obscured by a filing cabinet, her knees drawn tightly up to her chest. There was a hollow, blank look in her eyes as she stared at him, strands of blonde hair clinging to a bruise that was beginning to form on her right cheekbone.
"Annette?!" He supposed he shouldn't be taken off guard by this. After all, she was smart, and she knew the labs like the back of her hand. It wasn't a huge stretch of the imagination that she'd have survived. But somehow, he'd been absolutely convinced she'd be long dead. That would certainly have simplified matters, at least. Albert Wesker preferred his ghosts to be put neatly to rest, not to confront him in the middle of a mission.
"Albert..." her voice was barely more than a whisper. "...you did come back." There was a tiny, sad smile on her lips as she lifted her head in his direction, although it seemed she was more staring through him, than at him. If there was a Hell, then Wesker could swear he saw it reflected in the look on her face.
What was he supposed to say? That he was here on strictly business only, that he was after William's virus, just like UBCS had been? That bumping into her was tantamount to little more than an inconvenience, a detour along the way?
As it turned out, there was no need, because she spoke again before he could think of a reply. "It's alright..." she told him, and she stood up then, her movements slow and almost dreamlike, as if something in her had long since snapped and she was just going through the motions. It reminded him of someone sleepwalking. She approached him, and he fought the urge to recoil, had to remind himself that it was only Annette, despite the ghastly look on her face. At least she wasn't infected, he'd be able to smell it off her if she was.
She took his hand in his, and could feel that there was very little warmth in her touch. The human contact still made him uncomfortable, cast a contrast between what she was, and what he'd become, but he didn't want to pull away any more. One of her trembling hands reached up towards his face, and she ran a fingertip over his cheekbone, all the while holding his gaze with that hellish look in her eyes, something that he couldn't quite place, but made him feel sick.
"It's alright..." she repeated, "...you're too late, but it's alright. I'm happy that you came back. I knew you would."
Damn it all. Maybe he could take her with him. The Organisation wouldn't give him any grief over it, they'd probably thank him in the end. Hell, Annette Birkin herself was probably more useful than the virus sample that Ada had.
"It's not too late," he said firmly, his mind made up in a split second. She'd come with him, there was no other option. "Come on, we're getting out of here."
She made no effort to move, and he grabbed her arm. "Annette!" he all but yelled at her, and there was that look again, and it scared him enough that his voice was raised in spite of himself. "Move."
Annette shook her head again, that tiny, hollow ghost of a smile appearing again. "I'm glad I got the chance to see you again, Albert."
"We don't have the time for this." He grabbed her shoulders and shook them firmly, a little too firmly, causing her head to roll back slightly in an unnatural way. "You're coming with me."
"No." And her voice was harder this time, a hint of resolute madness creeping around the edges of her tone.
"You..." he began, but there was a burst of static at his hip which cut him short, as Ada's voice crackled into the room, demanding where the Hell he was. He looked at her pleadingly. "We have to go."
"Why the Hell not?!"
The simplistic nature of her response made him feel as though he should already know the answer, as if it was obvious and he was the one being irrational. "What the Hell are you waiting for, Annette?" Everyone was dead. Unless she'd lost it completely, she had to know that.
She stared at him for a moment, and when she spoke it was as though the words caused her physical pain. "For William," she whispered.
And in that moment, he understood perfectly. He understood what she was doing, and what was in her voice and gaze and expression that had made him feel so cold and afraid. He'd seen it before on the job, in muted doses, frozen forever in the glassy eyes of suicide cases.
It was despair. Complete, unmitigated, and all consuming. And then he realised with a nauseating revelation, that there was nothing left for Annette Birkin. There was nothing left of her.
"Do this for me, Albert," she said, and her voice returned to that eerie calm which made his skin crawl. "Turn around, walk out of here..."
"No..." He was about to continue, but a load shriek startled him. It reverberated off the walls, a scream of anguish that was wholly inhuman.
"He's here," she told him flatly.
Wesker took her hand and gripped it tightly. "Annette, please don't do this..." he began, but she just smiled in a resigned sort of way that made his chest tighten, and gently disengaged her fingers from his. "Please."
The deafening sound of footfall was closer, coming from the next corridor down, the sound of steel buckling and doors crashing off their hinges.
"I have to." She slowly raised herself up on her tiptoes, and pressed her cold lips to his cheek, before whispering in his ear. "...but thank you."
She walked past him and he remained frozen to the spot as she paused at the door and smiled again, and this time it was peaceful, with no trace of bitterness or reproach. He wanted to pull her back, to physically drag her out of harms way, but it felt wrong somehow, as if it would be too cruel.
"I have to go now," she told him, and she seemed, for just a split second, almost happy. "It was a pleasure, Albert. All of it."
And then she was gone.
Seconds turned into minutes and the sick feeling in his stomach grew, but still he stayed in William's little office, some perverse sense of mercy keeping him from going after her, even as he simultaneously hated himself for it. And then it came...William's guttural roar, and distinct snap of all-too-fragile human bone, and it was all over, just like that.
Wesker put his head in his hands and gritted his teeth.
Too late, just as she'd said.