Leon? A Word, Please?

Author: Tani2

Genre: Romance

Rating: M for explicit sexual content, mature themes, violence, and language. You have been warned.

Timeline: Six months after the conclusion of the events of RE5 with flashbacks in italics

Synopsis: Leon and Claire help Chris and Jill move into their new home. Bothered by how his sister interacts with her best friend, Chris decides it's time to have a man-to-man. What he learns is more than he bargained for. Pairings are Leon/Claire and Chris/Jill

Author's Notes: Hey, folks. So, I've been reading RE fanfic for a couple years now (esp. the L/C and C/J fics), but I have yet to contribute. I've written a decent amount of fanfic and original stuff over the years, but this is my first RE fic. I was hoping for my first RE fanfic to write some sweeping epic adventure chock full of exciting action sequences and suspenseful intrigue, but being who she is, smut and angst came to my muse's mind first. Oh, well. Maybe I'll get to that epic later. In the interim, I hope you enjoy a story filled with romance with a healthy side order of humor, and a heaping topping of sex. I welcome criticism, good or bad. I am always looking to grow as a writer. If you've read my long ass profile, you've seen that I can get wordy, but I think it's in a good way. I'd also have to describe myself as having a fairly dirty mind . . . and mouth. It comes through in my writing. If I say that my story is rated M, it is not for the faint of heart.

Disclaimer: I do not own Resident Evil or any of the characters in this story, nor did I profit from their use in this work of fiction. My purpose is one of philosophical fulfillment: I write, therefore, I am.

Prologue: Moving In

Arlington, Virginia: a moving truck in front of a large suburban house

"Can you get the other end of this couch, Leon?"

"Sure thing, Chris." Leon grabbed one end while Chris grabbed the other. Both men lifted and carried it out the back of the truck.

"You boys be careful with that. It was my mother's," Jill warned from the sidewalk.

"Why would you trust something so precious to you in the hands of 'Dumb and Dumber' over there?" Claire asked Jill as she jumped down from the cab of the truck, where she'd just taken a break from lugging around Jill's furniture.

"Not like I have a choice," Jill muttered. "Somebody's gotta be the pack mules." She and Claire snickered as they walked past the two men, each woman carrying a stack of small boxes in her arms.

Leon and Chris both rolled their eyes as they lifted the heavy couch up the front steps of Chris and Jill's new home.

After Jill was rescued from under Wesker's control in Africa, she returned to Washington, D.C. to find her apartment rented out by new tenants for the past eighteen months and her belongings in storage, thanks to Chris being unable to let her memory die with her when she was presumed to be dead. With nowhere else to go, she left her stuff in storage and moved in with her long time partner.

She had lived with Chris for the past six months, enjoying their time together, reconnecting with him, admitting her love for him, and finally, accepting his marriage proposal two weeks before. Not wanting to waste a single moment after so much time lost, the couple immediately sold Christopher's condo. They used that money, along with the compensation the BSAA gave to Jill for her two lost years and physical traumas acquired in active duty, to buy the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom house they were now moving into.

Leon and Claire were the only ones of their friends whose schedules allowed them to come help the soon-to-be married couple move that week, so the four of them planned it out that they would all take the week off to move everything and fix up the house. After the house was furnished and fixed up on the weekend, Chris and Jill would marry in an intimate ceremony in their massive new backyard, with all the Umbrella survivors in attendance. The yard even had a lovely gazebo that could serve as the place for the altar to be set up. That is, once they cleaned off all the bird poop and painted it.

Claire exited the house as the men set Jill's couch in what would be her sitting room.

"This is such a nice neighborhood," Claire commented as she looked out the front door at the beautiful tree-lined avenue.

"Yeah, I like it, too," Leon said. "The picket fenced-in house situated in a suburb of Arlington, Virginia is very Scarecrow & Mrs. King." He then smiled innocently at Chris and asked, "So, which one are you, Bro? Scarecrow or Mrs. King?"

Claire shook her head in amusement as Chris threw one of Jill's couch pillows at Leon's smiling face. "Don't listen to him, Chris. I love the white picket fence. It reminds me of our home back in Connecticut. Remember, Chris? Where we lived before Mom and Dad died?"

"Yeah. I remember. And I'm glad you like the house. That means you won't mind coming into town to baby-sit after Jill squeezes me out a few Mini-Me's."

Jill yelled down the stairs, "Eat shit and die, Redfield! I'll get knocked up when I feel like it . . . and I'm having a girl when I do!"

Leon smirked. "Aww. True love. Did she get that from a Hallmark card, Chris?"

The older man laughed, "Kiss my ass, Kennedy."

Leon shook his head slowly. "Not even with Oliveira's lips, Gringo."

Claire chuckled. "Correction: this was such a nice neighborhood. Then you bunch of hoodlums moved in and all the property values declined."

Jill came downstairs to go out to the moving truck. "Whatever, Claire," she commented as she passed the redhead. "I'm sure your Harley just screams 'domestic goddess' back in the 'burbs of Maryland where you live."

"No, Jill. My Harley screams 'Claire is awesome'. But that's neither here nor there."

They all laughed and went back outside. Leon let Claire pass by him, and then tripped her 'accidentally' with one of his sized thirteen Nikes. He chuckled when she slugged him in the arm.

"Watch your clodhoppers, Jerk!"

Chris smirked and said, "A lady if ever I've seen one."

Claire muttered on her way out the door about how the Y chromosome was a genetic mutation that turned perfectly good females into big, hairy idiots with abnormal plumbing between their legs.

Leon yelled out the door, "Don't act like you don't love the plumbing between my legs!"

Chris's smile faltered a bit, but it soon recovered. After all, a comment like that wasn't all that far off from what Leon and Claire always said to each other. In fact, it was pretty much their norm to joke around using sexual innuendo, mostly to make him uncomfortable, if Claire was to be believed. The problem was, for the last several months, Chris was getting the distinct suspicion that it might not be just a joke. He stared after Kennedy and Claire as Leon threw her over his shoulder and swung her around until she threatened to barf down his back.

Chris chuckled and shook his head. Maybe he was being paranoid. The sexual comments were probably just another part of their over thirty adolescent bonding rituals. In any case, even if there was more to it than that, now was not the time to deal with it.

There was just too much left for all of them to do.

"Eyes off the prize, Blondie," Claire said to Leon with a smirk.


"My eyes are up here, Agent Kennedy. Stop staring at my tits."

He smiled. "Stop having your big tits on display in tight, low-cut, mid-riff T-shirts, and then maybe I'll stop staring at them."

She chuckled and slapped him on the ass. "I mean it. I'm only telling you this for your own good. Perving on me around my brother is not good for your well-being."

Leon chuckled and kissed her lips softly. He wasn't afraid of Chris . . . or his gigantic biceps. He'd certainly been hit by worse. He suppressed a shiver as El Gigante came suddenly to mind. Claire smiled and returned the kiss before going back to puttering around the room.

He leaned against the wall drinking a bottled water while he watched her move about the kitchen. He couldn't help but smile. If he was going to be honest with himself, he was afraid, but not of his longtime pal Chris Redfield. He was more afraid of the smaller, prettier, bustier Redfield.

Claire stood in the middle of the kitchen in deep thought, her musings residing in a head that just barely cleared five-foot-four. She was wearing a cut-off black graphic T-shirt that said 'Claire will rock you' on the back, a pair of khaki shorts that could easily be described as 'daisy-dukes' by length alone even without being made of denim, tiny black and beige size six Sketchers, and her customary ponytail.

Bottom line: she looked hot.

This was the first time they'd seen each other in almost six months, although they did speak on the phone quite frequently since they'd met up again in Harvardville. Or rather since two weeks later when they had . . . 'reconciled'. Prior to that meeting, they hadn't spoken to each other in years. Now barely a week could go by before they were having a late night conversation in hushed tones. His schedule had kept him from visiting her more than a couple times, but nothing could keep him from calling her. There had even been times that he'd called her during an outbreak, just to hear her voice in case he didn't make it.

Despite how much better their partnership (as Chris always called it) was after their reunion that fateful night, he still wasn't sure where they stood now or how much she had told Chris or Jill about their past. He didn't know whether he should be upfront about things or hide them. Claire was flirtatious with him in front of them, but she'd always been that. He didn't know if she was flirting because it was a habit or because it meant something more.

The problem was, whatever his mind felt he should or shouldn't do, his body was pretty much doing the decision-making for him. All day, Leon couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of Claire. Every time he saw her that day, she seemed to get more and more beautiful. And then, when she'd just bent over in front of him to pick something up that she'd dropped on the kitchen floor, another part of his body made its pleasure known at seeing Claire again. It had been far too long of a Claire dry-spell he'd been on. Lucky for him, she was the only one around at the moment to see his reaction to the end of the drought.

She just giggled, patted his then painful erection and whispered in his ear that he might want to go to the bathroom and take care of that before Chris saw it.

"Yeah," Leon agreed hoarsely. "Whether he thought it was because of you, Jill, or him, that would not bode well for me."

Claire started to giggle in a sultry way that made his 'problem' that much more obvious.

"You can use the master bathroom. Oh, and don't worry. I'll cover for you."

Leon looked around for any sign of Chris or Jill. When he saw none, he leaned down and kissed Claire with a bit more affection . . . and tongue. He kissed his way across her cheek, and finally caressed Claire's earlobe with his lips. He smiled when she shivered and sighed for him.

"Thanks," he whispered against her ear.

She smirked and pushed him backwards gently, towards the stairs. "Least I can do for you after you've paid me such a . . ." She paused, looked down at his groin, and then back into his eyes. ". . . huge compliment." She winked at him and went out the back door to where Chris and Jill were setting up their patio furniture. Leon watched her hips sway in those tiny khaki shorts before he headed up the back staircase that connected the kitchen to the upper level of the house.

"Hey, Claire," Jill said with a smile as she noticed the appearance of her future sister-in-law. "Where's Leon?"

The last thing Leon heard before he closed the bathroom door behind him was Claire's voice saying, "He said he had to take a dump."

'Oh, great job covering for me, Claire!' Leon thought with annoyance. 'Damn her twisted sense of humor!'

Now, he had to be quick about things or come up with a better explanation for his prolonged disappearance.

"Days like this, I wish I were a 'minute man'," he growled as he turned on the cold water tap and opened his fly.

After a lot of sweat and limited breaks, they were able to get the entire truckload of Jill's possessions, as well as some of Chris's 'most important things' (including a dark brown leather sofa and a sixty-inch plasma screen television), inside the house and into their proper places. Throughout that time, Leon and Claire's flirtation had escalated, to the point that even the ever easy-going Agent Valentine told them to knock it off before she throttled them for making her nauseous.

Chris's reaction to their constant sexual banter was quiet reflection. Having seen more than enough evidence to support his suspicions about their 'partnership', he decided to take action once the time was right.

Everyone had decided that they'd done enough moving for one day, and the girls had unpacked the kitchen earlier in the day to make a home-cooked dinner possible that night. Claire was a much better cook than Jill, who'd been raised mostly by her cat burglar father on microwavable frozen dinners. So, Claire offered to teach her brother's fiancée how to cook, in particular how to cook meals that Chris loved from their childhood, recipes which Claire had learned from their mother. Jill was thrilled with the idea, and hugged Claire until the redhead could barely breathe.

"Yeah, yeah. Just name your firstborn son after me and we'll call it square," Claire joked.

Jill was all smiles as the two women got into Leon's expensive new luxury vehicle to go to the local Whole Foods supermarket. They took his car over Claire's just to annoy him, especially since his choice of vehicle seemed to scream 'secret agent'.

Leon waved after them with a warm smile as they pulled off down the street. "Hurt my Aston Martin, and I'll shoot you both!" he yelled after them cheerily. Claire had joked to Leon when she first saw his car that morning that he was to James Bond what a White Castle hamburger was to filet mignon. Leon had retaliated by calling her 'Pussy Galore' for the next two hours.

"Hey, Leon," Chris called from the front doorway. "Can I have a word with you, please?"

Leon turned to face his friend and shrugged. "So long as you're buying the beers."

Chris smiled. "Deal. Go have a seat out back. There's still a lot of sun, and a nice breeze to boot. I'll be out in a moment." Leon nodded, assuming that Chris was having cold feet about the wedding and just wanted to be encouraged to go through with it.

Leon went around the side of the house to sit on the patio furniture in the back, picking one end of a cushioned designer wicker outdoor sofa. Chris, on the other hand, went through the inside of the house to the kitchen. He got a cooler, filled it with the contents of a bag of ice from his new deep freezer, and then put the contents of a case of beer from out of the refrigerator into the cooler. He carried the cooler outside and sat it on the ground in front of the couch, a little to Leon's right. Chris then planted himself on the opposite end of the couch.

"So, Leon. How've you been doing? It feels like forever since I last saw you."

Leon smiled. "Depends on the day. Some days are too boring for words, and others, too exciting. I'm either wasting away as Ashley's personal bodyguard, almost being blown away by bioterrorists, or almost being eaten alive by bio-organic weapons."

Chris laughed and said, "I feel your pain."

Leon shrugged. "Yeah, well. I'm still alive, at the very least. Especially, since all three scenarios are hazardous to my health. The first one, in particular. In fact, I think I might be developing an allergy to college aged girls." Chris laughed even harder. Leon opened a beer and handed it to Chris before opening one of his own. "It's nice to hear you laugh again, Chris. While Jill was presumed K.I.A., you were like a shell of your former self, filling your life with going to the gym, working insane hours, and drinking away your pain. It's good to have the old Chris back."

Chris looked down at his huge arms (proof of how obsessive he had gotten about keeping fit while Jill was gone), and then at his beer (another past obsession). "Hey, Bro? Can you keep me down to a six-pack maximum? I promised Jill."

Leon nodded. "No worries."

Chris smiled in gratitude. He then studied Leon for a moment before saying, "You know, I'm not the only one who's been a shell of his former self."

Leon sighed and said, "I know. What we've been through has affected us all in different ways. I guess it's kind of hardened me, emotionally.

Chris agreed. "It's true that it has hardened you to the rest of the world, but not to your friends and fellow survivors." Chris then swigged his beer and muttered, ". . . except maybe Claire."

Leon looked surprised. "What do you mean?"

Chris sighed. "I mean, I want to talk to you, Leon . . . about this . . . partnership you have with my baby sister."

Leon's eyes widened. Clearly, he had misconstrued Christopher's purpose for asking him to talk. And Claire wasn't even there to act as a buffer. 'This could get ugly,' he thought in dismay.

Chris took another draw off his beer and was quiet for a moment. Finally, he continued: "See, I've had a feeling for a while now it goes deeper than just friendship, but that something is blocking it from becoming much more than just 'friends with benefits'. And I think that blockade is most likely coming from you, Leon . . . not from Claire."

Leon's face was stoic when he replied. "Chris . . . I don't know if I'm comfortable with having this conversation with you, especially behind Claire's back like this. I mean, she's your sister and she's an adult. If you have a question about what she is or isn't doing in her personal life, shouldn't you be asking her?"

Chris stared off into the distance. "I'm asking you. It's not the fact that I think you two have been sleeping together that's the issue. Like you said, she's an adult. It's the fact that when my sister came back from Harvardville and cried on my shoulder, it wasn't because of her feelings of guilt over TerraSave's blunder. It was because of how cold and distant she said you had acted towards her. That was the moment I knew that one day you and I would be having this discussion." Chris sighed and looked at his friend. "Honestly, I should have spoken to you about this two years ago after we did that mission together, but I was so distraught over Jill."

"I know you were," Leon replied comfortingly. He sat back and stared off into the yard. He was just shocked. "I never knew Claire felt that way. And I certainly didn't mean to come off as cold or distant with her. I'm not even sure I know what she meant by that."

Chris explained. "Leon, today you were acting the way you always do with other Raccoon survivors: laughing, joking, insulting." Both men smiled. "But in Harvardville, you never smiled at Claire, never broke the stoic agent persona, not even to hold her when she cried. Whether you two were together or not, she was hurting and she was, at least, your friend. You're her best friend, although I know Ark holds that title for you. You should have been more supportive of her when she found out about the mistake her organization had made."

Leon frowned. "Now, wait a minute! I did comfort her in that tent when she found out about TerraSave keeping the vaccine from reaching Harvardville in time! And for the record, Claire means a helluva lot more to me than Ark! She's my best female friend, for sure!"

Chris put his hands up as a sign for Leon to calm down. "I know, and Claire was grateful for your comfort, as was I, because I know how Claire can get when she decides to spiral down into a pit of self-blame over mistakes that are out of her control." Both men thought of Steve Burnside, but neither spoke their thoughts aloud.

Leon broke the silence. "Then why did she complain to you about me being cold and distant if she was so grateful for my words?"

Chris shook his head and drank some more beer. "Leon, where were you standing in that tent when you comforted her?"

Leon thought about it for a while and then said, "I was standing by the tent flap."

Chris then asked, "And where was Claire?"

Leon said, "Sitting on a folding chair about fifteen feet . . . away."

Before Leon could say anything more, Chris said, "No one is denying that you comforted Claire. It's just that you comforted her from a distance, like she was an outbreak survivor that you stumbled upon. Like you should have treated Angela, not Claire."

"That isn't fair. I was trying to give her some space. The last time we parted ways hadn't been all that pretty. Yes, I know, I usually hold her when she's upset about something, and being in that situation would not have changed things under regular circumstances. It's just that I wasn't sure if she'd want me any closer because of our last encounter. After she looked up and smiled at me, I was about to go hug Claire when there was an explosion outside that ruined the moment." In fact, his intention had been to take the risk that Claire wouldn't slug him if he kissed her, but he wasn't telling that to Chris. "As for my . . . aloofness with everyone that day, I had been in 'agent mode' before I even got there . . . because I had to be. When it was just me and Claire in Raccoon City, or me and you two years ago, I could afford to be myself, but I couldn't very well turn 'Agent Kennedy' on and off in Harvardville with so many others counting on me. Not just so Claire could feel more comfortable that 'Leon' was still in there. With lives at stake, I had to keep my game face on."

He had been so happy to see Claire again. He had wanted her to know that he was sorry for his part in that argument five years earlier. They hadn't spoken since then before Harvardville. Harvardville had been their second chance. He wished Chris would understand that. He assumed Claire did.

Leon thought back to that day. He had already put himself in the proper tactical mindset for the mission before he'd even arrived on the scene, before he ever heard her voice on that 9-1-1 call. At that moment, he'd been thinking himself crazy for imagining her voice where it couldn't possibly be present. At that moment, he had felt that he had just proven his convictions about not showing too much emotion on a mission to be correct. At that moment, he couldn't even fathom why after over five years apart, he was suddenly hallucinating the dulcet Northeastern tones of one Claire Elizabeth Redfield. He wasn't even in contact with the B.O.W.'s yet, and he was already distracted by his feelings for Claire . . . and she wasn't even there.

Or so he'd thought until that moment passed.

But at the time, he didn't know her life was at stake, and so he thought only of how he had joked around a lot during the mission to Spain, partly to keep Ashley calm, but also because that's just who Leon was. He was a laid back guy and a bit of a jokester. Exhibit A: his best friend was Ark Thompson.

"You know, Chris, after Spain and finding Ada again, I had felt that being myself on a mission was tantamount to letting my feelings get in the way of my judgment. I felt it was the reason that Ada was able to play me and escape with the Plaga sample. And then six months ago, I found out that you were nearly killed by the Majini produced from a descendent of the Plaga Ada stole. My failure, Chris . . . that was the reason you went through everything you did in Africa, and all those people died. So, since then, when on a mission, I'm all business, no matter who I'm with, unless it's just Umbrella survivors. Then I'm my usual fun-loving self."

"Business up front and a party behind the scenes. My friend, you just described your mission tactical strategy as a mullet."

Leon chuckled. "I'm serious, Chris."

"Yeah, I know. Continue."

Leon took a breath then a swig of beer, "I never expected to find Claire in Harvardville, so I wasn't even close to mentally prepared to deal with her presence. I suppose that I could have changed my behavior for her sake, but I figured that if I got caught up in my emotions over her being there like I did over Ada being in Spain, I or someone else could have ended up dead."

Chris asked, "Like Angela Miller?"

Leon sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. He thought about how this was the second time Chris mentioned the former SRT member. Clearly, Claire had had a lot to say about the other woman, or more importantly, Claire's perception of Leon's so-called feelings for Angela.

He answered his friend honestly, but he couldn't keep the annoyance out of his tone.

"Chris, I will tell you what I told Claire. Nothing ever happened between me and Angela. Clearly, she hasn't told that to you when she was telling you everything else I did that was so fucking terrible at her expense!"

Chris frowned. "Now, hold on. Don't go getting all indignant about what Claire told me. She wasn't expecting to see you, either. And she certainly wasn't expecting to see you hanging all over that Angela chick."

Leon got up, shouting and gesticulating angrily, "I was not hanging all over Angela! I was trying to keep her from snapping! That poor girl found out that her own brother was responsible for killing all those people, including her partner! And then Curtis turned into a monster! Right in front of her! At least Sherry wasn't present when William Burkin turned! Angela watched the whole thing! She was shell-shocked! I had to look out for her! Even though she was a cop, special ops no less, I had to trust in Claire to be my backup in the airport because Angela was practically useless! Claire should have understood that! You don't see me accusing her of anything because she was looking after Rani!"

Chris kept his voice calm as he replied to Leon. "So . . . you're saying Angela was no different to you than Rani was to Claire?"


"So, Rani asked Claire out, too?"

Leon scraped his fingers through his hair. "No. Okay, fine. I'm not blind. I know Angela was into me, but I think it was all just from the stress of the situation. I was kind to her and . . . and I saved her life . . . more than once. I wasn't trying to get her attention, but I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that I didn't realize that I had her attention, regardless."

"Very well. And are you also going to admit to the fact that you were also coming on to Angela?"

Leon frowned. "If Claire said that, she's a liar!"

"She did, and she is not. She watched you two from the control booth."

"What control booth?"

"Oh, you think that the floor over the burning lower levels beneath you two closed all on its own? Claire did that. She was giving you and Angela backup the entire time you fought Curtis in his G-tyrant form. She saw you save Angela. She saw you holding that woman's hand. You didn't hold Claire's hand when you found her injured. In fact, she said you seemed disinterested, and sent her off to fend for herself. Well, she decided that even though you didn't seem to care what happened to her, she still cared what happened to you. She saw you risking your life to save Angela, then hold her hand, and exchange a little smile with her before letting go. And then she had to watch you go back to stoic agent when you saw her again."

"Claire didn't leave the building?" Leon looked desperate.

"No. She would never leave you to fight on your own. You should know her better than that."

Leon plopped back on the couch and stared off into the yard. "She never said a word."

"Of course not. She did it because she has feelings for you. Why would she admit that when you were parading your latest female conquest around in front of her?"

Leon frowned again. "I never intended for her to feel that way. Chris, she was my first priority for even going to Downing's office. When I heard that bomb go off and her cell phone went dead, my heart stopped. My first thought was that I'd failed to protect her . . . that I'd lost her. And then when I found her, I tried to carry her to the elevator, to the surface. She wouldn't let me do anything but help her as a crutch and show her the way out. I tried to send her out of the building so she'd be safe. And she's the one who told me to go on and find Curtis because he'd been coming out of the area where the G virus samples were kept right before the bomb went off."

Chris smiled uncomfortably. Claire had painted her best friend in too harsh a light in this part of the story. But he knew why. "I guess she was already mad at you if she didn't accept your help."

"I guess so." Leon sighed and tilted his head back, resting it on top of the back of the couch. "Chris, if I seemed stoic to her, it's probably because I was trying not to show her how terrified I was to find her injured. Or how elated I was just to find her alive at all." He turned to face his friend. "I'm sorry I made Claire feel like I didn't care. That's the last thing I would ever do when it comes to your sister. It's always been an honor to me knowing that you trust me with her safety and her feelings. I would never betray that intentionally. But if she had a problem with how she felt that I treated her, she should have told me. I thought that Claire and I were the only level heads in that whole situation! I thought she understood why I was kind to Angela . . . because Angela was falling apart. That's all. I didn't feel like I needed to baby Claire because she's supposed to be such a badass, but if she'd like me to treat her the way I treated Angela from now on, then fine. I just didn't think that the woman I tossed my gun to who then killed six zombies in under ten seconds while holding a small child would need to be babied."

Chris smirked, simultaneously impressed with the description of his sister's skills and amused by the childish manner in which the description was delivered. "Whatever you say, Leon. That still doesn't explain why you led Claire to think there was something going on between you and Angela if there really wasn't." Leon started to say that he didn't, but he was interrupted by something so disturbing, it stopped him in mid-sentence.

Chris held his fists up in front of his chest, and bounced them up and down, mimicking bouncing breasts, while speaking in a high falsetto voice: "Oh, Leon. Maybe we could go diving together again sometime." Then he put one hand over the top of his head with the fingers hanging over his left eye like Leon's fringe and said in a deep voice, "Love to."

Even Leon had to laugh. "Fuck you, Redfield," he chuckled. "The chicks dig my hair."

Chris nodded. "Indeed they do. That's why Claire is so insecure with you when other attractive girls are around. You're just cute as a button, Leon." Chris went to pinch his friend's scarred cheek, but Leon pulled out a Killer 7 and held it in front of Chris's face. "Jesus, Rookie! I was just kidding! And where the hell did you pull that from, your ass?"

Leon smirked and put the gun back in the rear of his jeans before signaling for Chris to continue talking.

"Anyway," Chris continued. "Claire feels plain and ugly around you because you get so much attention from the opposite sex, and because of the attention you give them back. She told me once that she feels like the groupie that you let carry your guitar case to the tour bus, maybe bang her from time to time, but she'd never be your Sharon Osbourne or Linda McCartney."

Leon's smile faded. He sighed and took a swig of beer. "That's ridiculous. Claire is stunning. She's just blissfully unaware of how much attention she gets from men. But I'm very aware."

Chris smirked. "Yeah, tell me about it. I got in more fights over Claire and her damn 'hello I'm twelve but I'm stacked' body than I'd ever care to mention."

Leon smiled. "Bottom line, Chris. I've always felt that I'm the one who's not worthy of Claire."

"Then why'd you hurt her like that? Angela asking you that diving question in front of Claire was what Jill and Claire say was her trying to stake her claim on you in front of Claire. It was a challenge. You must know that she was angry with Claire for TerraSave's role in Greg's death."

Leon sighed. "I got that sense, yes."

"Well, you saying yes to her proposition in front of Claire made my sister feel like shit. She probably felt like you blamed her a little, too."

Leon frowned. "Did Claire say that?"

"No. I just think that's how she must have felt."

"What are you, Dr. Phil now?"

Chris smirked. "Don't change the subject."

Leon sighed and rolled his eyes. He was going to have to come clean. "I was mad at her, okay?"

Chris stared at him in surprise. "At Claire? For what?"

"Because, as I said, the last time we'd seen each other, it wasn't pretty. She wasn't the only one who'd been hurt by our dealings in the past. When we'd last parted ways, she'd said some things that really hurt me. I thought she never wanted to see me again. I had hoped that over the course of the day in Harvardville that we were making headway. And then she was cold and distant to me after we arrested Browning. I had no idea why. But I bet she didn't tell you that when she was laying all my mistakes out on the table."

Chris shook his head. "Honestly, she didn't."

Leon sighed. "Well, I guess now I know it was painful for both of us, so I can't say I blame her. But did she at least tell you that I tried to get her to come fly back to HQ with me in my Huey, but she refused?" Again, Chris shook his head. Leon smirked and chuckled. "You know Claire isn't shy when she's got a bug up her ass. She was all over me about that diving comment the second we were out of Angela's earshot. I told her it was nothing and asked her where she was going and did she need a ride. I smiled at her, Chris. I know I did. I was out of agent mode, and I smiled at her when I asked her to come with me. I was already regretting what I'd said to Angela. It was petty and childish. Neither woman deserved me playing games with their feelings, especially not over my stupid hurt pride. The offer of a ride was a genuine peace offering. I'm sure she knew that. But she smiled at me then said 'no'. It was the best I was going to get from her. I told her I hoped to meet up again under more normal circumstances, and she agreed. I didn't know if she really meant it or not, but at least it was a start. We were talking . . . talking like people who used to be co-workers instead of as close as we'd been, but it was at least something. I ran to my helicopter, and she went in the limo with Rani and her aunt Radhika."

Chris nodded in understanding. He got what Leon was saying. Claire could hold a grudge like nobody's business. He swigged his beer and tossed the empty can across the patio into the recycle bin by the house.

Chris and Leon were silent for a while. Leon finished his beer and also tossed it into the bin from his seat. "Chris, surely you know that whatever drama Claire and I were dealing with at that time, is not the case anymore."

Chris nodded. "Sure. You've been disgusting with each other today."

Leon chuckled. "Sorry about that."

Chris waved a dismissive hand. "The last time Claire and I spoke about you and her was after Harvardville. She's never told me that the issues we discussed that day have been resolved, so I thought they weren't. I was actually really worried about you two until I saw you today. Believe me, it's a relief to see you being so gross."

Leon laughed out loud. "Yeah. Because you and Jill have never turned me and Claire's stomachs with your . . . affection." Leon made a face like he might vomit.

Chris smiled and opened another beer. Having gotten the rest of the story from Leon, he was feeling a bit embarrassed. Being angry and bitter, Claire had totally distorted the events of that night to make Leon out to be the bad guy. Knowing his sister as he did, Chris realized he should have kept an open mind until hearing Leon's side of things. "You know, I didn't ask you out here to quibble over Harvardville, and for getting off topic and putting you on the defensive, I'm sorry."

Leon shrugged and said, "It's fine. So, what did you really want to ask me?"

Chris took a hefty drag from his beer can to prepare himself, and then asked, "Leon . . . have you ever had sex with my sister?"

Leon was silent for a moment as he too swigged his beer, also in preparation for speaking. Finally, he answered.


Chris closed his eyes, having known in his heart the answer to that question, but still not being ready for confirmation of the truth. "More than once?" he finally asked. Leon nodded. Chris sighed. "I see. How long has this been going on between you?"

Leon's eyes suddenly widened. "Uh . . . ."

Chris frowned, "For how long have you been fucking my sister, Rookie?" Then Chris suddenly grinned. "It was after we got back from Rockfort and Antarctica, wasn't it? She had such a hard-on for you after you reunited her with me."

Leon frowned at being called 'Rookie' yet again, then just answered vaguely. "We've been together long enough. That's all you need to know. Claire wouldn't like it if I kiss and tell, especially if I'm telling her older brother."

Chris frowned. "If you don't tell me right now, I'll tell Claire you're fucking Angela."

Leon frowned and snapped his head around to glare at Chris. "You wouldn't dare hurt her like that!"

Chris looked serious for all of about five seconds, then laughed and said, "Yeah, you're right. But she thinks it anyway. If you tell me the truth, I'll back you up about Angela being a platonic thing."

Leon shook his head, still refusing. "I'll talk to her myself about Angela again. If she still doubts me, we need to work this out on our own."

Chris narrowed his eyes at his friend. He was going to get this out of Leon if it killed him.

And if he didn't tell him, it might. After all, it's not like he'd ever denied his friend anything when he asked.

And just like that, Chris had the answer.

He sighed dramatically and faced his friend. "I didn't want to have to do this, Bro . . . I really didn't, but you leave me no choice. You owe me, for the mission we went on two years ago."

Leon's jaw dropped. "What? You can't be serious! That was as much for Claire as it was for me!"

Chris said, "Be that as it may, you told me that the fact that I was able to put aside my grief over Jill to help you meant the world to you and you'd never forget it. You promised that you'd do anything to repay me, all I had to do was ask, no matter what it was. Now, I'm just asking you to be a man of your word." Chris knew he had him by the short hairs. Leon was practically made of honor and integrity.

Leon looked despondent when he realized his friend wasn't going to back down. "Chris, you're one of my best friends. No, you're more than a friend. You're like a brother to me. I . . . I don't want you to be angry with me. Please, Chris . . . don't ask me to do this."

Chris frowned again. "Why? What don't you want me to know? I already know now that you've been banging my sister. This is the easy stuff. I just asked you how long you've been getting into Claire's . . . pants . . . ." Chris's frown deepened. "Or, is it how long since you got into her little pink shorts?"

Leon backed away slowly on the couch. "Chris. Look, you wanted to know."

Chris's eyes widened, then narrowed. "You dirty son of a bitch!" he gritted out. Suddenly, Chris's fist shot out and connected with Leon's face. The punch was so fast, like a cobra strike, and Leon was so shocked, that he didn't even realize what had happened until the pain hit him a few seconds later.

"What the fuck, Chris? Are you trying to break my nose?"

Chris whispered angrily, "You're lucky I hit you in that head! Are you telling me you fucked my sister in Raccoon City?"

Leon held his nose, which he was relieved to find was neither bleeding nor broken. It was a cheap shot, but also just a love tap by Chris's standards. He had gotten off easy.

Leon sighed and held his cold beer to his face to halt the swelling as much as possible before it started. He didn't speak for a while, then finally said a quiet, "Yes." Chris's eyes became like saucers as he quickly downed the rest of his beer and opened another, which Leon snatched away before scolding him. "Stop being so melodramatic! She was in college for fuck's sake!"

"Well, that doesn't change the fact that she didn't have a lot of experience with men! Then you come along, an older man, and seduce her!"

Leon looked at Chris like he was insane. "You're acting like I was the age I am now when we did that. I was twenty-one. I'm only two years older than she is, and for the record, I only had been intimate with four girls prior to Claire . . . and Claire is the one who did the seducing." Chris was still frowning. "Look, you asked, man."

Chris just continued to stare at Leon. Finally, the former asked the latter, "How could you?"

"Don't be that way, Chris. I wasn't some lecher praying on your sister. I had no intentions of trying anything with her at first. I was just trying to do my job as a cop and keep her safe until . . . ."

"No, that's not what I meant," Chris interrupted. "I mean, how could you do it . . . physically? Or chronologically, for that matter? You two were running for your lives half the time and separated the other half, not to mention dragging a little girl around most of the time. When the hell were you able to find a moment alone and a corner to fornicate in." He pulled a face that was filled with disgust.

Leon frowned. "It wasn't like that. Claire's better than that. She's better than what we actually did share, but I wouldn't just drop my drawers while zombies were coming at us to plow her against some filthy wall."

"Then when did you do it?"

Leon paled. "I . . . don't want to tell you."

Chris narrowed his eyes again. "I'm gonna tell her you told me you got plastered at a White House function and let Ashley give you a handjob."

"Aww! That's sick, Chris! That's low even for you!"

Chris immediately started to laugh and said, "Yeah, that was pretty awful. Sorry, Rookie."

"And stop calling me 'Rookie'!"

"I'll stop calling you 'Rookie' when you tell me about every single time you fucked my little Claire-Bear, so I know how many times to hit you in the face."

Leon sighed. "Chris. I don't want to do this."

"Oh, I know you don't. But I've been watching you dangle Claire on a string of false hope for the better part of a decade, and frankly I'm sick of the view. You owe her the pain I plan to inflict on you." He cracked his knuckles, then patted Leon on the back. "And you owe yourself getting it off your chest. Talk to me, Leon. I'm only joking about the pain. When I was at my lowest over Jill, you were the one who pulled me out of my funk enough to go on with my life as much as I did. I would have quit the BSAA if not for you, which means I wouldn't have gone to Africa, and I would never have found Jilly. She's tear-assing through town in your car right now, about to become my wife, in part because of you. Let me help, for both Claire's sake and yours. I promise to be as impartial as possible, and not to hit you unless you really deserve it."

Leon stared off into the distance. Finally, he said, "Okay. I'll tell you everything without too much of the more personal details, as long as you promise not to tell Claire."

Chris smiled. "Of course not. That would be signing both our death warrants."

"It's not that. It's just that I should be the one to tell her I told you all this."

Chris's smile disappeared. "She'll kill us both," he warned.

"Look, I tell you then I tell Claire I told you, or I tell you nothing at all. I won't compromise on that. I won't keep something like this from her."

Chris sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine. You two and your 'partnership'."

Leon was quiet for a while, gathering his thoughts. Chris went into the house and got a big bag of Ruffles potato chips and emptied a bunch into a bowl. He set the bowl on the wicker couch between them. Leon took a few chips and ate them. Chris did the same.

Leon swigged his beer, swallowed, and told Chris that he'd had sex with Claire five times total. Chris said he had a feeling it wasn't too many times, because every so often, she'd suddenly be walking on clouds after saying she'd seen Leon, then a couple months later she'd be filled with the deepest depression when he disappeared off the face of the earth again.

"However this ends up, Leon, I want you to stop filling her with false hope. I'm tired of always picking up the Claire pieces after you're done playing with her."

Leon sighed and nodded. "I will do my best."