He turned the page, his eyes going over the last few sentences of the chapter. Wesker smirked in satisfaction and continued with the book, wondering when exactly he'd had his last free day. It had to have been a long while ago. The novel had been dusty when he'd picked it up and although the bookmark indicated he'd read up to page twohundred and something he felt as if he'd never held it in his hands before. In a line of work like this one, crime fiction was not priority.
He sighed, moving into a more comfortable position on the couch. Two days after their referral to the hospital Wesker had been able to place first calls through to Spencer. He'd personally visited the head of the company the day he and Annette had been transferred back to Raccoon. Suffice to say, bureaucracy was a complicated matter within Umbrella, especially when so many high-rankers were affected. Spencer opted for the explanation that he 'couldn't openly accuse anyone of deliberately causing a high-grade outbreak'. In truth, Alfred's name weighed more than the crimes he had supposedly commited.
Groaning, Wesker propped himself up on the pillow. While the broken ribs were recovering nicely, any kind of movement still meant a lot of pain. He'd made sure to stock up his fridge after he got back, and with more than enough food in the house, leaving the flat seemed like unnecessary torture. He mostly kept to the couch and bed, the only other locations he visited being kitchen and bathroom.
Besides, most of the time he found himself zoning out or sleeping, his body requesting the rest it needed after the treatment he'd put it through. Most sleeps were heavy and dreamless, something that he was very thankful for. He knew that sooner or later the nightmares would come, an inevitable process to cope with the hell he'd been through. The doctors had given him plenty of pills to swallow and so far they did their job. He trailed his finger across his jaw absentmindedly, making a mental note to shave in the morning. He hadn't bothered for the past few days.
A sudden noise rattled him from his thoughts and only when the bell rang a second time did he realize that someone was standing on the other side of the door. Curiosly Wesker eyed the clock on the wall, furrowing a brow. It was almost nine in the evening. He wasn't expecting any guests and Umbrella contacts rarely came at such a late hour. He'd told Spencer that he'd take some days off, too.
The bell rang a third time and Wesker put the book aside, swinging his legs over the side of the couch. The movement educed a hiss and his steps to the door were a lot more cautious afterwards. Taking off the chain and unlocking the door, Wesker blinked in surprise at the figure standing before him.
"Hi..." she said coyly. And at the confusion on his face she added. "Don't worry... no emergencies this time. It's just a social call." She smiled brightly, but it struck him as a little false. "I was passing and I thought I'd pop by and see how you were recovering."
Wesker tried to smile, making her believe that he bought the blatant lie. It wasn't hard to tell that something was wrong. The last time he'd seen Annette had been a week ago at the hospital. He'd given her a heads up on the murder charges over the phone, but that was it. Annette's cheeks were sunken, dark circles rimming her eyes. Although makeup covered most of it he was pretty sure she had been crying not long ago.
Taking a step back from the door, Wesker gestured inside. "Please come in. I wasn't expecting anyone, so you'll have to excuse the mess."
Annette passed him with a mumbled thankyou and from the way her clothes hung over her shoulders it looked like she had lost some weight since the last time he'd seen her. He wondered if William had noticed and decided to give his old partner a call in the morning.
"Have a seat," he offered, indicating the couch. "Do you want anything to drink?"
"Please, don't worry. I'm sorry to drop in on you like this... I should have called first or something." She laughed, "Spur of the moment decision and all that." With a little cough, she looked around as she sat down. "Coffee would be nice."
"I'll put some up."
Five minutes later they were both sitting on the couch, steaming cups in hand. Annette hadn't said another word and Wesker thought the best way to handle the situation was to let her take her time. She had obviously come for a reason.
Annette cleared her throat. "Did you… did you talk to Spencer? I got a letter saying the charges had been dropped but…" She shook her head. "William is going mental about the whole thing. He wants to see Ashford hung."
That was no surprise. It was no secret that William Birkin fostered a deep hatred towards Alexia Ashford before. Recent events would give him enough fuel to keep the Birkin-Ashford feud boiling for generations to come.
"Alfred hides behind family name," Wesker said. "Spencer believes our side of the story, but there is very little he can do to punish Alfred without endangering the company. There will be some tighter controls on Rockfort, but Alfred gets to keep his facility on the understanding that nothing like this ever happens again."
Annette closed her eyes and sighed, "I feared as much." She wrung her hands anxiously, "But we won't ever have to see him again, right?"
"If I ever set foot on Rockfort, it will be to blow the place up," Wesker replied with a grim smile. The tone in his voice was half-joking, but there was a part of him that swore he'd take Alfred out one day. Like everything else, it was a matter of waiting for the right opportunity.
Annette laughed half-heartedly, before her face grew serious again. "How are your injuries?"
"I should make a full recovery in time. The scars will be the only souvenier I'll keep."
"That, and all the nightmares," Annette added, wincing. "I'd give anything if I could just go to sleep at night and be able to close my eyes and forget about it."
He hesitated before he spoke. "Give it some time." He shrugged, "If you ever want to talk about it…"
"Sure…thanks," She responded quickly and set the untouched coffee cup on the table. "I'd better get going before William attempts to use the microwave. He already broke one in our absence."
Wesker shook his head. "It's a wonder he's still alive. Best regards to him. Perhaps I'll drop by one of these days, have a look at the project that's got him so captivated at the moment."
Annette didn't reply immediately and he wondered whether he'd hit a soft spot. With William as the workoholic he was, married life probably left a lot to be desired. But that wasn't his cup of tea. William and Annette had to sort that one out themselve.
"I'll see you around, Albert," Annette said with a wan smile, getting to her feet.
He accompanied her to the door in silence, and she paused at the threshold one last time.
"Um…look…" she cleared her throat. "Thanks. For everything."
He gave her a smile, leaning against the open door. "I'd say I'd do it again any time, but I hope the situation won't present itself in the future."
"Yeah," Annette said as she stepped out into the apartment hallway. "I've got a feeling that was my first and last outbreak."
Wesker smirked as he gave her one last look, briefly debating whether that had just qualified as jinx or not.
"I hope you're right about that one, Annette."
And it is done. I want to thank everyone who read this and hope the story was enjoyable for you. It definitely was for us when we wrote it.
There are a few hints to future outbreaks in this epilogue chapter, but for the sake of plot consistency this story is still to be considered AU, since the Mansion/Raccoon outbreak should be the first one of such scale.
That being said, here's a small preview of what's coming up next...
clara pacta, boni amici
clear friends, good agreements
Premansion. It's one of those undercover, never-taking-place missions. And when it goes wrong, Chris and Jill find themselves alone in a mad race against time to rescue their teammates, secure the subject and follow through with the assignment. Before people start losing their heads.