Disclaimer: I do not own any of the settings/characters in the below peice of fiction- they all belong to Capcom.
Authors Note: HERE IS THE LAST CHAPTER AT LAST, HOLY CRAP! GO READ!
Chapter 45- Flux
Things of this world are in so constant a flux, that nothing remains long in the same state. ~John Locke~
Chris hated planning. It took forever to decide on where to go, what to do, and how to do it; it took so long that sometimes whatever you had been planning to do wasn't available anymore. You just sat and planned for so long that all of those well thought out ideas and decisions would amount to nothing because you were too careful.
Chris preferred to jump right into it—get himself into the thick of things and wing it completely. By doing this, he eliminated the possibility of taking too long and missing his chance. Besides, thinking on something for too long could have major consequences to his nerves. If he thought about how reckless he was being then he probably wouldn't go through with it, and that would just not do, especially for someone who based his entire career—no, his entire life—on being reckless.
Unfortunately, Jill liked to plan, as did Rebecca. And Brad… well, Brad just liked to agree with whoever could kick his ass harder. Jill filled that position rather well.
"You guys don't all have to be here," said Chris, chin resting on his hand as he flattened out a crinkle on one of the maps with his free hand. "I mean, I'm perfectly capable of picking out anomalies on a map."
"If you're so good then how come we haven't found any yet?" Rebecca asked, pausing her investigation of the sewer maps to give Chris a level stare. Staring right back, Chris waited until she went back to her investigation before speaking.
"I'm just saying that you guys don't all have to be here—aren't there more pressing things that need doing?"
"Like what? Laundry?" Brad asked, scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Chris thought he could see a stick figure drawing.
Glaring at Brad, he didn't give him an answer and simply turned to Jill, who had been uncharacteristically quiet. Jill had been the one to invite Rebecca and Brad to help with the investigation, and while he was okay with Jill and Rebecca being over, he was still displeased with Brad. Actually, displeased was an understatement. He was pissed off; so pissed off he wouldn't hesitate to reach across and throttle the guy. The only thing that kept him from doing so was his moral code—what was left of it, that was. As long as Brad wanted to actually help, Chris couldn't fault him… too much.
"You're quiet," he said, watching her flip from one map to another, eyes scanning quickly. She didn't say anything, and he went to speak again before she interrupted him.
"I think I found something."
"What is it?" Rebecca asked, leaning forward on the table as Chris got up and rested his hand on the back of Jill's chair, looking over her shoulder to see if he could notice what she was seeing.
"Look," she said, head turned slightly to indicate she was speaking to Chris. Following the trail her finger was making on the paper, he saw on one map what appeared to be a regular sewer line underneath the chemical plant. But the map she had placed beside the first one showed a different story; instead of a regular sewer line, there appeared to be an underground room—one that connected to a series of normal and not so normal underground passageways.
"I think this is your best bet," she said, and Chris nodded slowly, eyes scanning over the two maps once more, trying to work out how the hidden room connected to everything else. A few of the pathways connected to rooms that appeared on the first map—rooms such as offices for the sewer workers, maintenance buildings, and the like. But there were a few passageways that did not appear on the regular map—like one that trailed underneath the police station and Umbrella's main headquarters.
This was definitely the place to start.
Picking up the map, Chris went to draw a large red circle around the room under the chemical plant as Rebecca stood up and snatched it from his grasp. "You're welcome," Jill drawled out, rolling her eyes as Chris patted her head and continued to look at the map over Rebecca's shoulder—trying to plan it all out in his head.
He first had to figure out how to get into the chemical plant. He wasn't a cop anymore, so he couldn't even think to lie about being authorized, and the chemical plant, like all facilities around the city, were guarded by twenty-four hour security. He wanted to do this without drawing attention to himself, and trying to get past the security system with his limited knowledge of lock picking and whatever technology they used to scan the perimeter would probably end up in his arrest—and that wouldn't work well at all. So how to get in…
"What are you thinking about?" Jill's voice snapped Chris out of his daze, and he tore his gaze away from the large red circle around the chemical plant to look at her.
"Just wondering how I'm getting in," he said, going to sit back down while Rebecca passed the map to Brad, who seemed to have given up on his stick-man drawing. "The security must be high around there."
"Any manholes nearby?" Rebecca asked, and they waited a moment as Brad scanned the map, looking for an answer.
"One about a block away, but it looks like it just drops down into the main pipe line—you don't want to go down there," he mumbled, frowning a little. "Maybe one of us could give you authorization?"
"Irons will want to know why we're trying to get into the chemical plant, and given that he knows what're up to, I'd say it's too dangerous to risk it." Shaking her head, Jill pursed her lips and stared down at the table, the surface covered in maps, papers, and coffee mugs, the bottoms of them congealed with cold, leftover coffee.
"Maybe I could bribe the security guard at the plant," Chris suggested, only half kidding.
"Heh, yeah, bribe them with what—a fabulous night with you? I've seen the security guard there—an old man. Didn't know you went for the older men, Chris," Brad joked, a smirk on his lips as he tossed the map back to Chris. Rebecca seemed to find it amusing, and giggled behind her hand, cheeks pink and blue eyes alight with mirth. Of course she'd see the real 'humour' behind Brad's comment.
"That's not funny," he grumbled, folding the map up with harsh movements. Jill's hand on his arm made him calm down, though, and he stopped himself from ripping the delicate paper just in time. "Don't joke about that shit."
Chris was still highly sensitive to any comment about Wesker, whether the person knew what they were referencing or not. He had wanted to forget about Wesker completely and move on with his new goal—to topple Umbrella. Wesker was dead, and Chris' feelings for him went with him to the grave. Of course, this was merely what he wanted himself to believe. It was hard to get over someone who invaded your dreams every night; whose sure and steady touch still ghosted over your skin; and whose low, dangerous voice still filled your ears with such beautiful lies and deceitful prose. Sometimes Chris felt like Wesker was standing behind him all the time—watching his every movement and listening in on his every thought; silently judging him as he tried to prove him wrong.
"Brad, stop making jokes about Chris' sexuality," Jill said, glaring at him. Chris was about to grin in triumph before she turned on him, eyes narrowed. "And Chris, stop giving Brad a hard time. We're all working on this together, so you two need to get over whatever has been eating at you and move on."
"He betrayed—" Chris began, before Jill stood up and clasped a hand over his mouth, effectively shutting him up.
"Chris… Get over yourself."
And suddenly, for some strange reason, Chris felt a little bit better.
"You give yourself away too often." Forest's voice was calm and steady, a hint of playfulness hidden behind sincerity.
"How do you mean?" Chris asked, fingers dealing the cards out, the only sound in the small office being the soft 'swish' they made as they left the deck.
"I can read everything about you on your face when you play. I know your next move just by looking at you," Forest replied, taking the cards. Chris thought it odd his hands were speckled in blood, but paid it little mind in favour of studying the table.
"You don't know everything about me," Chris mumbled, cheeks flushed despite being completely at ease with himself. Forest simply smiled—although Chris couldn't see it, as Forest's face was covered by shadows that floated above their heads. He could feel the smile, though, and a pang of guilt ran through him.
"Learn to keep your heart closed off, Chris. You never know what monster will try to take it when you offer it."
He was about to say something—he wasn't quite sure what, though—before Forest spoke again, his voice close and yet far away at the same time. "He's waiting for you. You don't want to make him wait."
"But we're playing a game," Chris said, and Forest laughed softly, making him shiver.
"We've always been playing a game. But it's time to stop and move on. So go, I'll be waiting for your return."
Nodding, Chris placed his cards down on the table and stood up, his chair disappearing as he turned around and headed to an office, the door unfamiliar and yet completely familiar at the same time. Stepping forward, he turned around to look at Forest, only to be greeted with the sight of his dead body. Staring blankly at Forest's limp form, he could only blink in mild surprise before going to open the door.
He was greeted with the sight of Irons' office, the bodies of animals littering the floor and the walls, the corners jammed with them—their glass eyes staring at Chris as he stepped forward and closed the door behind him, the handle rattling in his steady hand. Looking in one of the corners, Chris saw the body of Enrico resting against the wall, and was about to go check on him before Wesker's voice cut through the air.
Pausing, he retracted his hand from Enrico's body, and stared at his prone form for some time, wondering why he wasn't feeling more. "How do you know?"
"I killed him," Wesker said, and Chris finally turned to see him standing in the corner, shadows hiding his face, but not his eyes. They were glowing—inhuman yellow and red reflecting off of a light Chris couldn't find. Standing still, he continued to watch the piercing gaze, wondering what had happened to the familiar grey.
"He was an inconvenience." He stepped out of the shadows, the gaping hole in his chest appearing just as his eyes returned to their regular steel grey. Unperturbed by Wesker's appearance, Chris simply stood in the middle of the room and let Wesker approach him. He couldn't remember a time when Wesker did not have a gaping hole in his chest, blood and guts hanging out of it casually, almost elegantly. Wesker never did anything without an air of sophistication behind it. "Come here."
Breaking the distance between the two of them easily, he stepped forward and stood in front of Wesker, his hands staying still at his sides. For some reason he felt calm and at ease in the room, eyes staring at him from all directions, but none of them really seeing him for who he was—save for the ones right in front of him.
"I have something important to tell you," Wesker said, voice low and soft, and Chris strained to hear it, body shifting forward so his ear was pressed close to Wesker's thin, blood stained lips. "Listen carefully, dear heart."
And Wesker began to speak. But none of it was making sense, his voice too low and gruff for anything to be heard. Soon enough it was a low, deep buzz, and Chris began to worry that he couldn't hear what Wesker was telling him. Agitation bubbled up in his chest, and his palms began to itch while a sweat broke out on his skin. Rubbing his fingers awkwardly against his palms, Chris tried to solve the issue by pressing himself against Wesker, his shirt soaking with blood from the wound on his chest. But it was too late; Wesker was pulling away, his face void of emotion.
"Did you catch that?"
Chris wanted to say no, and he wanted to ask him to repeat it, but found himself unable to. Swallowing thickly, he simply nodded instead.
"Good, I am counting on you to inform the others of my misdeeds. What I told you could save their lives—it's up to you," Wesker said, hand going to tap his shoulder. Following the motion of Wesker's finger, Chris watched the thin, pale finger press against the fabric of his shirt in close detail. "Look at me."
Looking up, Chris found himself naked on a desk—Wesker's desk in the STARS office, in fact. His legs were pressed together, feet side by side while Wesker hovered over him, naked as well with his hands locked around Chris' wrists, keeping him in place.
"I shouldn't be in this position," Chris mumbled, eyes flicking to the side where he saw all of the STARS members sitting, their forms hunched over in a circle as they spoke in hushed tones to each other. They seemed oblivious to what was going on in front of them.
"They won't see us," Wesker said, lips hovering over his neck.
"But I shouldn't be like this. I caused this, I shouldn't be punished like this," he said, and he didn't fully understand what he was trying to say; only that something felt wrong about the position. "I am no saviour—I place people in these positions… I crucify my friends."
"Calm yourself, Judas. They won't see you in such a dance with the devil," Wesker mumbled, and Chris looked back at the STARS members to see Rebecca had turned around, her blue eyes locking with his own just as the familiar curve of the corner of Wesker's mouth touched his neck.
Chris was about to protest—he was about to move and to try and get away before the scene changed again, and he almost gagged from the smell of antiseptic, dust, and death that choked his nostrils and throat. Looking up, he realized he was still on his back, but Wesker's face was now a sickly green colour due to the tubes lining the wall.
So they had returned to his nightmare once more. The laboratory.
"I need to go," Chris said, and he tried to fight Wesker, only to be pushed down on an operating table, the cold metal rubbing his skin like a corpse's caress.
"Not yet, I need to make sure you heard me," Wesker said, although his lips never moved.
"I hear—" Chris was cut off when he felt pressure in his chest, and he tried to finish before he realized blood was closing off his airway, bubbling and rising as a squirming sensation made itself known in his chest. Frightened, he tried to stop the blood from rising up, and desperately tried to swallow it, only to have more come, slipping through his lips like a moan.
"I don't think you did," Wesker hummed, his lips widening in a maddening grin as he pulled his hand back, and Chris grew terribly aware of the fact that he could no longer feel his heartbeat. "I need this back. It doesn't belong to you."
Terrified, Chris' eyes grew wide as Wesker's hand appeared in front of his face, his grin present behind the still beating form of his heart.
Sitting up quickly, Chris clutched his chest, heart hammering against his ribcage while a cold sweat broke out across his skin. Moaning, he swallowed back a scream, and willed his heart to calm down as his fingers pressed into the skin covering his bones so hard it appeared as if he moved his hand his heart would literally fall out.
These dreams were becoming more and more graphic; they were becoming too real. Waking up like this was beginning to become a common occurrence for him. Night sweats, racing heartbeat, uneven breathing, and a terrible sense of dread and guilt seemed to accompany him into the realm of reality, no matter what he did. Immediately after the incident at the mansion, Chris had refused to sleep longer than a few short naps throughout the day, hesitant and unwilling to go through the nightmares he knew he would encounter. But his fitful naps had begun to take a toll on him emotionally and physically, and soon he had been unable to hide his own inner turmoil from everyone else. Jill had noticed the bags under his eyes, the sagging shoulders and weary gait, and the now pale, almost lacklustre appearance to his skin and hair. She had told him she was worried with his condition, and so he took it upon himself to remedy that worry, and smartened up.
He didn't like it when Jill worried.
First he tried to sleep an entire night alone. It hadn't worked too well. His body had become accustomed to the restless nights and short naps, and he spent most of his time lying in bed staring at the ceiling. A few days of this drove him to medical means, and he began to take sleeping pills. Unfortunately the pills only intensified the nightmares but with no means for him to escape them. He spent an entire night running from his demons, and he woke up with the smell of dust and rot in his nose and the heavy taste of copper resting in the back of his throat.
He barely made it to the bathroom before he vomited.
Once he realized sleeping pills wouldn't work, he foolishly tried to drink away his problems. It worked… for a time. But the hangovers and stale smell of beer and vodka, combined with his own regrets, did nothing to make the possibility of becoming an alcoholic worthwhile. So he returned to trying to sleep the old- fashioned way. It was hard, of course, to close his eyes and see the dead eyes staring back at him, but he eventually got used to it until all he saw were the faces of his friends; dead, yes, but not forgotten.
But once he fell asleep and dreamed, he would always dream of him. He would always see Wesker. It didn't matter what he was doing or what the situation was, Wesker was always present in them. He would be sitting on the couch as Chris replayed a memory from his childhood. He would be standing behind him in the grocery line of a dream he'd had numerous times before, involving grand adventures and terrifying stunts that all started at the super market. Or he would be lying in bed beside Chris, the two of them speaking and conversing about everything and nothing.
Occasionally, Chris would have intimate dreams, leaving him hard and wanting when he awoke. This would always leave him ashamed and disgusted with himself, and he would hastily try and distract himself from even the thought of wanting to pleasure himself. Because he knew what had caused the sudden arousal, and he knew that if he were to follow through he wouldn't be able to stop his thoughts from going to Wesker and his alabaster skin and treacherous lips.
But no matter what happened at night, Chris always dreamed.
Groaning softly as his heartbeat slowed down, he eventually removed his hand from his chest and brought it up to his face, running a shaky palm down his features. He was going mad. He knew it. Soon enough he'd go off the deep end, it was only a matter of time. Try as he might, Chris began to believe he wasn't as strong as he once thought.
Swallowing the thick wad of spit that had collected in the back of his throat due to sleep, he got out of bed and wandered into the bathroom, flicking the light on and blinking back the spots in his eyes as he poured himself a glass of water from the small cup he left resting on the side of the sink. Not bothering to let the water cool, he ran the cup under the tepid water before drinking from it, his throat parched.
Finishing up, he let the light from the bathroom calm his nerves before venturing to the living room where the maps stayed strewn about on the coffee table. Not bothering to turn the lights on, he sat in the glow coming from the streetlights outside.
It is almost a full moon, he mused as he sat down and fiddled with the maps. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees and tapped the maps with his pointer finger, lips pursed as he went over the plans again. They had all decided he would go tomorrow (or was it today?) at night and break in. It was risky, but Jill had gone back to the station and found a guard posting sheet for the chemical plant, detailing who would be on guard and where they would be. She had even managed to find an old report on the security system that was put in, including security camera locations. They were plentiful, but not too hard to sneak past. All Chris had to do was get into the building and down to the basement, where he would hopefully find the doors leading to the underground passages.
And if that didn't work… well, Chris tried not to think on that.
Unfortunately, the more he thought about it and the more he planned everything, the more worried he became. It was a foolish plan—one that would never work. Umbrella and the city itself (although the two were synonymous with each other by now) most likely had stricter security than what was apparent, even to the police force. The information that Jill and the rest of the remaining STARS unit were able to gather was most likely half of what was really going on. Umbrella did not guard her secrets so well by slacking off with security. Chris half suspected he'd be caught even before he could approach the building, let alone trying to break into it.
No matter what they did, it seemed Umbrella always had one up on them. They had more power than Chris could ever hope to attain, and sometimes the only way to fight power was to throw more supremacy at it. But what little authority Chris and the remaining STARS team had paled in comparison to the resources Umbrella controlled. It felt like a losing battle at this point in time, and Chris couldn't help but flop back on his couch, a hand running over his face before settling over his eyes. "What's the point?" he asked out loud to the empty room.
What was the point, though? Chris was starting to lose sight of it all, when there was no apparent reason for his struggles. He was losing touch with his mission, and began to wonder if that was such a bad thing. Maybe he should move on… Maybe Umbrella was going to win either way, and Chris should admit defeat before he lost more of himself. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
"Fucking bullshit," Chris mumbled as he sat up again and flipped through the maps one last time, the early morning sunlight slowly creeping through the blinds to welcome another day filled with stark realities and humbling realizations.
It was so obvious that it was brilliant.
"I have a buddy that works for the city," Brad said, flushed and out of breath as he stood in front of Chris' apartment door. "He's a repair man."
So ridiculously obvious.
"Here, wear this. It should fit you. And take the badge—it has no photo on it. This afternoon your name is Daniel."
"Daniel Clark… Easy enough to remember."
"Yes, and here is a tool kit. He specializes in electrical repair, but he does other things."
The jumper didn't fit exactly. There was… chaffing.
"A bit of plumbing, some basic structure repair. He says he's also really good at mechanic work but I wouldn't let him touch my car even if he offered to detail it for free."
Crouching down, Chris placed his tool kit on the cement floor, the dripping of pipes and the distant sound of flowing water his only company in the caverns down below. It worked, he thought to himself as he slid the tool kit to the side of the room in order to free his hands. He had flashed his badge, made up some lie about how they received a call about a faulty light switch down in the storage room, and the security guards let 'Daniel' through with furrowed brows and tight lips.
Brad had pulled through. As much as Chris hated to admit it.
He had told the guard who let him through that he worked better when he didn't have someone hovering, and managed to get him to leave him alone. However, he was not completely sure how long the solitude would last, and had to work quickly if he was to find anything of use. Pulling out a slip of paper from his too-small coveralls, Chris looked at his shoddily drawn map in hopes of orienting himself in the maze of the sewers. It took shorter than he expected to figure out where he was, and by the time he knew what to do he had already stuffed his sheet away in his pocket and rushed to the door.
The stench of the sewer is not that bad, he thought as he hurried down one hallway, the railings that skirted the sides of the cement floor offering Chris something to hold onto as he sped through the labyrinth that was the Raccoon sewer systems.
Left, right, two lefts, another right, straight through, and…
There. Stopping in front of a large metal door, Chris wrapped his hand around the cool metal of the handle, his mind situating where he was before he opened the door. He did not relish opening the door to the workshop locker room, or perhaps another security room. He didn't know how he would explain getting lost to a group of men who were already suspicious of his activity.
"I don't remember there being a faulty switch in the utility closet," one of the guards has said, before the other reminded him that he never went in the utility closet. He then went on to assume that a janitor had complained about it and called it in. Chris was beginning to think Lady Luck was once again favouring him, after being thrown into a dirty gutter, stepped on, pissed on, and then tossed into a pig's trough the past two months.
It had to be the right door. Turning the handle, Chris pushed the heavy metal door inwards, the plastic lining at the bottom sliding soundlessly across the floor. It was dark inside the tunnel, and Chris found himself hesitating. Flashes of rotting corpses, dead eyes, and the stench of decay choked him for a moment, and he wanted to step back and run from the monsters that lurked in the dark. His vision narrowed and his hands began to shake, and every part of him wanted to flee—to get away from it all. But as soon as the images had come they left in a rush, the ghosts of Umbrella's cruelty replaced by dark shadows, while the smell of death was overshadowed by pine fresh cleaner and ammonia.
It was a waking nightmare and nothing more. A flashback. Once again, Chris found himself wondering if it was all worth it…
"Fuck," he whispered, and spat out some of the spit that had collected in the back of his throat when that brief moment of panic seized him. Moving in, Chris shut the door before turning on the small flashlight he had kept in his pocket, determined to fight the demons that plagued him. Balking at the first sign of supposed danger, or shying away whenever he had a flashback would get him nowhere.
Venturing down the hallway with little light but what the small flashlight supplied him, he tried to not let his heavy breathing and footsteps panic him too much. He knew all too well how the silence of a room coupled with the horribly beauty of a person's imagination could make a seemingly innocent hallway become a torture chamber. The hallway was unassuming—the cement walls and floors, with occasional condensation collecting enough in areas to pool small puddles of water. The first puddle made Chris panic, his eyes catching the light's reflection. But once again, a steady mind and an easy pace relaxed him enough so as to figure out what the reflection was, and he continued on, quicker with each step as the hallway seemed to go on forever with no foreseeable end.
But then a door appeared on his left, and he reached for the handle to see if it would open. He was honestly surprised he had not encountered more locked doors, but was not going to refuse the good fortune he had been given. Pulling the handle down, the click of the latch sliding away from the frame resounded crisply through the stale, still air, and he pushed the door open and slid inside. Keeping his face to the hallway presented in front of him, he blinked back the sudden light at the end of the narrow passage as he shut the door behind him as softly as he could.
This hallway was significantly shorter, and at the end rested a desk with computer equipment littered about it, the lights from the systems flickering on and off much like a switchboard. A small lamp sat atop a stack of folders, giving the area a warm glow—completely out of place given the area. Turning off his flashlight, he ventured further into the room, palms itching as he gazed at the potential goldmine of information.
"Let's see what we have here," he mumbled to himself as he picked up the first sheet he saw. An Umbrella logo presented itself neatly atop the paper, and Chris knew that he had found exactly what he was looking for.
Flipping through and reading everything as thoroughly as he could considering the time restraint he was under, Chris worked diligently. He read things that he did not understand, recognized a few names that he wasn't sure if he had encountered in the mansion or simply read in a newspaper, and paid close attention to codes that cropped up. He was jotting a few things down in his notebook, trying not to become frustrated with his own ignorance on the topic, before he paused, a hand hovering over a sheet as his eyes locked on to two very interesting things.
The name William Birking jumped out at him first, followed closely by 'G-Virus'.
"You sure this is all right?"
"Since when have you ever been worried about breaking a few rules?" Jill asked, a grin on her lips.
Turning back around to face the fax machine in the STARS office, Chris shrugged. "I don't want you getting in trouble, is all."
"Chris, you're just using the fax machine in the office. I highly doubt that it's going to get you kicked off of the premises," she explained, and he could hear her swivel around in her chair. "Besides..." A 'thunk' signalled she had stopped her twirling by slamming her hand on her desk. "You're faxing very innocent questions to an innocent source."
"Yeah, innocent," he mumbled, pressing a few buttons as he slid in his typed question. The question wasn't all that innocent (What is the G-virus and do you know about it? Also, is Chief Irons a rapist?), and the source he was attempting to get information from wasn't completely unknown nor underground (The Federal Police Department), but Chris was desperate by now. They had spent so much time sitting idle on the information they had received, but no way of finding anything out on it.
It had been three days since Chris had gone into the sewers and found the data that he did. Three long days of having piles of information that did not make sense to anyone, and only served to frustrate the remaining STARS members. They had all been hesitant to ask anyone else for information, or to alert anyone to what was going on, but Rebecca eventually convinced them that perhaps they were in over their heads. Perhaps, just maybe, letting someone else in would save more lives than previously thought.
They, of course, might be in more danger for doing this, but in the end they realized they needed help, as much as it pained them to admit it. They had only planned on asking the question about the G-virus, and to hopefully alert the government about the possibility of bioweapons being unleashed upon the general population very soon, but Chris had added the extra question about Police Chief Irons. He couldn't find out any information about the man before he became a member of the RPD, but he could not just leave the mystery surrounding Irons hanging. He had to get information on him; at least to put his mind at ease. Perhaps there was nothing. Maybe Irons was just a creepy man who looked at his secretaries but didn't touch. Or, perhaps, he was a rapist whom Umbrella hired, promising him a good career and a clean record, in exchange for a blind eye to the real work they were doing.
Chris, unfortunately, had a hunch his second assumption was correct.
"Do you think we'll get any answers?" Jill asked, breaking Chris from his concentration as he punched in the number for the FPD. Turning around, he shrugged once more, hands stuffed in his pockets as Jill continued to swivel her chair about.
"Maybe. I hope." Chris wasn't counting on it. Knowing what was going on was probably worse by this point in time. He felt like he was sitting on a ticking time bomb, and the fuse was getting shorter and shorter. Umbrella was going to have another outbreak, and soon. He wanted to do something desperately, but he wasn't sure what he should do and if it was even worth it. Maybe Umbrella had them beat… Maybe it was time to give up.
The sound of the fax machine filled the room, and Chris continued to watch Jill, her chair having stopped swivelling. They locked eyes, and he found himself trapped in her fierce blue gaze, and his chest tightened as she stared back.
Before him was his drive; his reason for fighting. Before him was a woman who believed in him despite the monster he hid behind his mask. Jill trusted him; pushed him; showed him that there was something in this world worth fighting for. And Chris desperately wanted to prove to her and everyone else whom he loved, that he was worthy of their affection—that the world was a good place despite the demons that lurked in the shadows and tried to pull you into a world of greed, blood-lust, and desire. He wanted to prove to everyone that the world was worth being a part of, even though men like himself and Wesker walked upon it, not quiet in the shadows, but no longer in the light.
And then it hit him.
Just as he thought about giving up; just as he entertained the idea that this was beyond his limits and Umbrella may have won, he found his drive again. His reason for continuing. He had been dead set on believing the world was out to get him after Wesker ripped his heart out, that he had begun to lose faith in humanity and his fellow man. A very small part of him, a part that he had hid so well and refused to even face himself, thought that perhaps Umbrella was right—perhaps humans were weak and foolish, and deserved the fate that was pressed upon them.
But they weren't. Jill reminded him of this. She was not worthy of that fate, along with millions of other good, thoughtful people around the world. It was up to him to defeat Umbrella—it was up to him to protect those who could not protect themselves. For a time, Umbrella was winning, but no longer…
"I have to go," he found himself whispering once the sound of the fax machine stopped, his mouth working before his idea had fully manifested itself.
"I need to go…" Go where, though? To Washington to alert the government? Home to warn his family? Just leave Raccoon City and work out a plan from there? Or… "I need to go to Paris and straight to Umbrella's main headquarters."
"Chris… that's suicide," she said, a frown appearing on her features as a grin spread across Chris'. "You'll get yourself killed."
And he laughed; A real, genuine laugh, one that hadn't been heard for some time. He couldn't help it, and let the sound bubble forward, uninhibited by the horrors he'd been seeing every night for the past two months. "No, no, it's not suicide, Jill. This is going to save me." Hurrying over, he pulled her up before placing a kiss on her forehead. "Guard the citizens of Raccoon for me—we both know that something is going to happen soon."
"C-Chris, are you all right?" she asked, pulling away, a small smile slowly lighting up her face.
Chris didn't reply, and simply kissed her cheeks. "We'll meet up in Paris, once Raccoon is either saved or destroyed. I'll forward you the information of where I'll be once I get it. But I need to go—we need to be a step ahead of them, Jill. We need to bring the fight to Umbrella and not let them make all of the first moves."
Pulling away, he smiled down at Jill—his last link to humanity—and relaxed when she cupped his cheek, her thumb caressing the stubble on his jaw. "Bring the fight to them?"
"Bring it to them," he repeated, and pulled away to head to the door. "I'll meet with you tonight at your apartment. Bring Rebecca and Brad." He didn't even wait for a reply before he left the office and jogged down the checker patterned corridor for the last time. Once he reached the main hall of the station, he searched the desk for a familiar head of brilliant blonde hair, and practically sprinted over to Mindy.
She didn't even have time to say hello before Chris grabbed her hands in between his own and held them tight to his chest. He was half laying on the desk, and people were looking at him oddly, but he didn't care. "Get yourself out of Raccoon, Mindy. Visit your mom or your sister, or even go on a vacation, but you need to get out of Raccoon."
"C-Chris, what's going on?" she asked, her voice a hiss of a whisper as people continued their daily business, but still glanced over at the two of them. "You're making a scene."
"Don't ask questions—the less you know the better. Just get the hell out of here and live your dreams. I know for a fact being an RPD secretary was not your life's ambition. Go out there and get what you deserve, because you deserve a hell of a lot," he said, and kissed her quickly before pulling away.
"Chris!" she called after him as he hurried out of the RPD. "Where are you going?"
"To save the world!" he shouted back, and blew her a kiss. "So get the hell out of Raccoon in case I fuck it up."
Goodbyes are always hard. Chris had begun to realize this.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Rebecca asked, her legs curled in on her body as she sat on Jill's couch, eyebrows furrowed. She looked so small, and Chris was once again reminded that she was only eighteen. And he was only twenty-five. "Going alone sounds dangerous."
"Of course it's dangerous," Chris flashed her a quick, relaxed smile, and clasped his hands loosely together. "No one said it was going to be easy, Rebecca. But that's all part of the plan."
"Isn't there a safer way?"
Jill snorted. "I asked him that and was pretty much greeted with the same answer. Face it, Rebecca, he's going to do it."
"You're going, too," Rebecca shot back, glaring at Jill. Jill seemed honestly surprised by the hostile behaviour, while Chris and Brad literally sat back in their chairs to watch.
"I'm only going after I'm sure everything is stable here. We all know staying in Raccoon for too long will get us killed—why not go to Paris when I eventually have to leave?"
"Because you'll get yourself killed!" she cried out, her big blue eyes wide open. "Can't you guys see what you're going? You're going right into the dragon's den with your eyes closed while drenched in blood!" Chris had to laugh at that, but quickly stifled his laughter when Rebecca rounded on him. "And you! You're going into this first, with no backup! And don't tell me Jill, Barry, and Brad will come help you out later, because that is later, not right away!"
"How come you're only worried about Jill and Chris?" Brad cut in, and Rebecca sent him a glare. He simply grinned back.
"Rebecca, you shouldn't worry yourself like this. We've gone too far to just quit now. You knew that soon enough we'd have to stick our necks out again if we were to get anything accomplished," Jill began, sympathy written all over her face. "We're police officers first and foremost, and it's our job to protect."
Rebecca sat still for a moment while her face relaxed a bit, eyebrows separating while her lips pursed then went flat again. "You're all brave idiots," she sighed out, and shook her head. "I'm glad you're the ones doing this, otherwise I'd say you have no hope in hell of winning."
"That's the sort of confidence I like to hear," Chris chimed in, and stood up to raise his hands above his head in a slow stretch. While Rebecca and Jill began to talk about their plans (and eventually such conversations would lead to 'those' sorts of conversations—the ones most men like to leave the room during, lest they be caught rolling their eyes and subsequently castrated), Chris and Brad headed to the balcony in Jill's apartment, the door halfway slid open to allow the cool air from outside into the stuffy apartment.
Stepping onto the concrete pad, Chris went to lean on the black metal railing, elbows pressed into the cold iron as he breathed in the exhilarating smell of city pollution mixed with the overbearing scent of cherry tobacco from the neighbour upstairs. Brad rested next to him, his hands clasped in front. Silence, save for the occasional passing car and the steady hum of conversation from the room over were their only companions, until Brad spoke.
"So… I guess the uniform switch worked for you?"
Nodding, Chris pressed his lips tightly together, wondering if it was worth telling Brad that he had saved the day, and that perhaps he was being too harsh on him. After all, how was the world to forgive him for his sins if he was unwilling to forgive those of another? "Yeah, you thought up a good plan. I was a little worried it wouldn't work, but… well, you managed to pull though."
Brad nodded, and Chris could see his gaze return to the city skyline out of the corner of his eye. A moment passed in which he wrestled with his pride and ego, two things that controlled even the best of men, before speaking once more. "Listen, I want to… apologise for my behaviour over the last few weeks. I've been… unfair."
There, he said it. More importantly, he meant it.
"I… Thanks, Chris," he mumbled, and Chris could almost see and feel the relief coming off of him. "I don't really deserve your apology, but I'll take it. I was… I was horrible back at the mansion. I fucked up."
Well Chris wasn't going to argue with that. "Yeah, you did," he began, and turned to rest one arm on the railing while watching Brad. "But, perhaps, if you had stayed you'd have ended up getting killed like the rest. Or you'd survive and live with the nightmares we all witnessed. Staying behind wouldn't have saved anyone; the dogs were all over that fucking forest and they'd have taken you and anyone in that helicopter out eventually."
"That… might be true. I think you're just trying to ease the situation for both of us, though," Brad said as he rubbed his palms together, a sure sign he was nervous. "I… appreciate it, though."
Nodding, Chris patted Brad on the shoulder. "When you arrive in Paris with Jill you can make up for your follies back at the mansion. You can redeem yourself." And so can I, he thought. Brad smiled softly, and let out a low sigh as the two of them returned to the comfortable silence between them.
Eventually they returned to the living room, and Chris headed straight to the door. "I should get going. I've got an early morning tomorrow."
"Yeah, of course. Your flight is at ten in the morning, yes?" Jill asked as she and Rebecca stood and met him at the door.
"Yes, which means I'll be up at the crack of dawn to check in," he answered, slipping his shoes on. Turning around, he hugged Jill quickly before Rebecca pressed her way into his arms.
"Stay safe, yes?"
"Of course. You go home and see your parents," he mumbled, and kissed her cheek along with giving her a tight squeeze. "I hope to see you kicking ass in the future, yeah?"
She laughed gently, and reluctantly removed herself from his embrace. "Of course—I can't let the rest of you save the world without me."
Winking, he ruffled her hair before Brad stepped forward, his hand extended. Glancing at his hand and then back up to Brad, Chris gave him a small but genuine smile, and grasped his in a tight shake. "Take care of yourself."
"You, too. I'll hopefully see you in Paris."
Breaking apart, they nodded briefly to each other in a moment of understanding before Chris opened the door and stepped out into the hallway, ready to make the next step. Turning around, he gave them all one last look, desperately trying to think of something worthy to say. After all, this could be the last time he saw any of them.
"I hope I get a window seat." Was eventually what he settled with.
'Flight 233 United Airway to Paris will be departing in ten minutes. Please come to desk number 233 to check in in the next ten minutes. I repeat, flight 233 will be departing in ten minutes.'
Playing with the photograph in his pocket, Chris watched the airplanes through the large glass windows, his free hand clutching the handle of his bag. He had packed everything that was necessary in the black duffle bag. His entire life contained in a simple carryon case. Closing his eyes, he let the background sound of the airport terminal wash away as his fingers traced the edges of the now worn photograph.
"Have you ever thought about traveling?" he asked, lips pressed against the back of Wesker's neck, skin and tiny hairs brushing against them.
"I've traveled before." Wesker's reply was a soft mumble, his hand resting above Chris' own that was wrapped around his waist. He could feel a thumb gently run along the stretch of skin where joint met palm, and relaxed further.
"England… Spain… Mexico… the United States. Germany and Denmark… Sweden. Italy, Canada, and France."
"I've been around the States," Chris replied, and frowned as Wesker shifted, exposing his heated skin to the cool air above the sheets. Pulling away slightly, he let Wesker turn around in his arms so they were facing each other, Chris' eyes open while Wesker's remained closed. "I thought I would see more when I was in the Air Force, but…" He saw the smirk on Wesker's lips and was going to say something, but then a delicate hand came to trace his jawline before running through his tousled hair. Any retort was lost in the caress.
"You should travel, if that is what you wish to do."
"I don't know where I would go."
"Go somewhere that will pull you out of your element. Go someplace that will capture that boyish imagination you still have. Explore, open yourself up to it all," Wesker answered, his voice low and soft, the English spark to his accent illuminating his tone. His eyes opened then, grey searching deep blue. "You deserve to see the world, dear heart."
"Will you come with me?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Wesker smiled, and his eyes changed for a moment, an emotion flittering by that Chris thought might be sadness, before it was once again replaced with content drowsiness. "I don't think so."
"How come?" he asked, and ran his thumb along Wesker's brow. "You could use the vacation."
"Because," he began, pulling Chris close, chin resting atop his head. He could hear Wesker's heartbeat, and breathed in the warm, spicy scent of his skin as he nuzzled the expanse of flesh set before him. "Some journeys in life must be taken alone."
Sighing, Chris opened his eyes, the warmth and familiarity of Wesker's embrace leaving him, and he once again stood in the middle of the airport terminal. The voice over the intercom reminded him that he had five minutes to catch his flight.
Pulling the photograph out of his pocket, he lifted it up in front of him. The photo was a strange one—a magical one, it seemed. It changed, depending on how he looked at it. When it was taken it represented the love he had in his life, and how nothing could possibly go wrong. Nothing would change and nothing could tear apart the happiness he had found. When the incident happened, it represented the devil and his fiddle. It was the evidence that showed his true nature and exposed Chris to a reality he had refused to face. Now, though… now Chris saw two men; two very different men who had, somehow, found each other and loved one another, no matter how much one of them tried to deny it. It represented Chris' humanity, not his monstrous behaviour. It showed that he was capable of happiness and love, compassion and humility. It reminded him that he could love, and that even though he loved a monster, it was no less true than if he had fallen for a princess in a tower. It represented a tale; a story; a journey.
And now that journey was at an end, and Chris had to continue on his own. Grabbing the middle, Chris gave the photo one last look before ripping it in half in one sure stroke, his hands not shaking as he separated the two of them. "Thank you, Wesker," he whispered, and headed to the terminal, tossing the photograph in the garbage as he passed it. He had a world to save, and a new life to claim.
Life is in a constant state of flux, and Chris embraced it.
And here we are. The last chapter of State of Flux. When I began this story back in November of 2009, I wrote it just for fun and jokingly referred to it as my 'love letter to the character Chris Redfield'. Well, time has passed and with it the story has grown as has my appreciation for all of you who love this wicked fandom along with me. This story grew from a love letter to a single character, and blossomed into a love letter to the entire fandom. I really cannot tell you all how amazing this ride has been thanks to your marvellous heartfelt support. While I have always and will always write for myself first and foremost, the fact that you all were able to come and enjoy the story and my words as much as I did means so much to me. So much. You guys have no idea how bloody brilliant you've all been, and how much I cherish all of you guys. Even the guys who tried to kick me in the proverbial balls on occasion. Without your arsehole behaviour I probably wouldn't have grown such a thick skin as I have in regards to fandom, and the drama that crops up no matter what.
I wish I could thank every one of you, but it would be almost impossible. But I want you to know that I really, really do appreciate every single one of you, and if you were to message me out of the blue using your fanfiction user account name, I'd recognize you right away. And reply, of course. We're all in this crazy fandom together, right? I do, however, want to take the time to name a few specific people who really pulled me through everything. Misspumpkinghead: Thank you for being my patient, on-time, worked-as-hard-as-I-did, beta. Richard: Thank you for listening to me work out my writing issues, and for giving me a ridiculous amount of support in general. Mina, Tatum, Annie, Mike, Brittney, Carrie, Sarah, Dustin, Jackie, and finally Rosie: Thank you for supporting me as well as giving me gifts, listening to my rambles, and kicking me upside the head when I needed a swift boot.
You are all amazing people, and thank you for sharing in State of Flux with me. You guys made this story what it is. Thank you, thank you, thank you!