Insert disclaimer here
From Sixth: So. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'M POSTING IT ANYWAYS. NO REGRETS... until later.
"I've never been inside the RPD before. It's a lot bigger than I thought it'd be…"
"You get used to it. After getting transferred from Chicago, I know I had to."
"Kind of like me with school, except there, it's smaller. So… any idea where Chris is? We were supposed to meet up here tonight. Then he skips out on me. I expected more from my big bro."
"I bet he's out on patrol with Barry and they're just running late. Don't sweat it; he works harder than he needs to, sometimes. But I think you already knew that, huh? Anyways, I'm sure he'll show up before the night's over and out."
Raccoon City Police Department, August, 1997. 8:12 P.M. The lazy weekend air was as thick and biting as the humidity sweeping through the summer-soaked, Midwestern burg. As prevalent as a dead, stinking fish in an air vent, that very same bite and atmosphere—an air bitter to the last degree, scary even under hard working A/C— overtook the station's interior, driving most its workers to the farthest reaches of the district for the day.
Save for Jill Valentine.
It was her day off. She just happened to be in the neighborhood when Claire rolled into town on her prized American Eagle. Jill had met the aspiring, young biker chick only once before, when she and her brother first arrived in Raccoon City a year prior. After a good bit of bonding between the girls, she promptly drove back to college a few states over. But, here again was Claire Redfield on a brief summer holiday to see her dear brother Chris. To the girl's dismay, however, she wouldn't meet him exactly as planned. Rather, she'd be received by an unsuspecting but open-armed Jill on her way to Jack's Bar.
"Sorry you have to babysit the college brat. I don't know the place very well."
"Are you kidding me? I think you just spared me a boring Friday night being surrounded by smelly, old drunks."
It'd only been a coincidence— as Jill led Claire around the idling station—that they passed by the RPD's overly cozy idea of a drunk tank. It was occupied by a young couple who slept in each other's tangled limbs on the sole cot in the cell. It looked like a candid scene ripped from a cellblock fairytale. The younger woman pitched a "D'awww" in their general direction, to which one of the sleeping beauties replied with a healthy, little belch.
"Let me guess," Claire said, reluctantly sniffing the air. "Brandy."
"Champale, maybe," Jill replied, following suit. She then shook her head, beginning a hasty retreat around a corner. "I hear it's becoming all the rage… Better yet, let's not make a game out of guessing that bodily fume. C'mon, let's get a drink and hang out in the conference room until Chris shows up, hopefully."
"There's the soda machine over there. We've got Coke, Fanta, Gatorade, a local brand or two… Take your pick."
"Alright, let's see…"
A shadow winged across the end of the hall by the emergency exit, catching Claire's eye just as she approached the machine. Her slight but sharp movement stole Jill's notice, forcing her to turn as she nabbed her wallet from a stubborn back pocket.
"Something wrong?" she asked, picking for change.
"I thought I saw something," the girl muttered.
"I wouldn't worry about it too much. The station's been around for at least thirty years; things start to get a little creepy after a while, you know?"
Claire's lips curled into a thoughtful smile, and then she turned back to mulling over her selection of soft drinks. As a precaution, Jill couldn't help but keep an eye out after being alerted to a certain someone or something lurking nearby. She wouldn't have been surprised if it was Joseph trying to get a scare out of them. Lord knew he'd been searching to get the jump on her ever since she foiled a prank he had set for Barry. Not that the lighthearted Joseph Frost was a man to hold grudges, but sometimes, one just didn't mess with another's well-laid practical joke.
"I feel a little fruity," Claire decided aloud, feeding quarters into the machine. "So, Fanta it is. Mm, strawberry…"
"I guess a Coke for me."
"So, where's this conference room?"
"Right over there, actually." Sticking the cold can into the crook of her arm, Jill showed Claire towards the hall's end, gesturing at the double doors to their left which were marked in bold, black letters. She started to step inside but just as soon bounced back in alarm. The two fumbled over each other before settling down, to end with Jill sputtering, "What, what happened?"
"Somebody's in there," the girl said, albeit breathlessly.
"Who is it? Brad? Joseph? Joseph, you better not be— Oh!"
To Jill's relief— and, dare she too thought, dread— neither of the two men she suspected occupied the conference room. Quite to the contrary. The culprit claiming the quiet space was none other than her captain and squad leader, who perched squarely at the far end of the table, manila folder splayed open in hand.
"Captain, I wasn't expecting to see… y, you… here." Jill's voice stumbled off into silence and sudden realization. Why wouldn't she expect to see him here? The man worked like a machine, one so uncanny but well-oiled and precise, she had to admit. Stationary, too. She planned on seeing him as such often, if not more, than when her arrival had gotten reviewed over mammoth paper monuments in his office. "I hope we aren't interrupting anything…"
"Captain…?" Claire voiced, oblivious.
"Oh, sorry. This is our S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team leader-"
"Wesker," he'd answered, though the man didn't bother to stand and greet either female as was mannerly. At best, only a nod would do, accompanied by a cold scrutiny from jaded, blue eyes. A rare sight, as Captain Wesker hardly ever removed his sunglasses. Instead, they merely reclined on his characteristically stern forehead; so if not removed, they were just never far off. "Albert Wesker. Might I ask who the young lady is?"
"This is Claire, Chris's sister. Claire, well, like he said, he's Albert Wesker."
"Ah, another Redfield? Charmed."
Claire beamed and nodded hello, though her motions in doing so aired the slightest hint of anxiety. Her voice, however, belied her body. "Nice to meet you. My brother's told me, eh, a tiny bit about you. You're a hard-ass, but… at the same time, I guess a guy to look up to. Question, though. He hasn't been any trouble, has he?"
The captain smirked and shrugged a shoulder. "He proves fairly exceptional in his line of work. Being one of my men, after all."
"Phew, that's good to hear… I think."
As Jill stood back to let the two get further acquainted, she found herself in the mildest state of reservation. When away from his seemingly natural habitat the office, Wesker played up his volatility about twofold. As far as she could guess, he was either very vocal or physical about his environment, or he was flat out detached from the world at large. She and the rest of the team could never quite tell which until in the midst of his moods.
Someone suffered either possible way.
Butterflies rushed full force to snap Jill into swift alert. At the very least, she could stick up for Claire if any ill will ran aground. In the year and some odd months that she'd been closely—and she had to use that term loosely, in fact— associated with the captain, a little precautionary flair never did any harm.
Wesker's eyes darted towards her.
"So, what do we do?" Claire asked. "Do we stay here or…?"
"Would you like some company, Wesker, or do you need R & R while you tackle the R & D?" Jill offered.
He clasped his hands together and set them on the table, his body gradually reclining into his chair while staring headlong at the women. Claire seemed compelled to mimic the blond man to a T, but eventually backed down and looked to her fellow female for a more definite answer.
The captain's immodest baritone had surprisingly come to her aid in the end.
"By all means," he replied, his nod almost kindly. "This is… merely a pet project at which I've been chipping away. Your company would hardly be meddling. Yet."
Jill tensed at the sound of his voice. In it, there was always that hint of mischief, as if he could outshine Joseph in the prankster department were he given the chance. But that hadn't been the only reason for tension. These other reasons she'd keep to herself. Damned if she had to waste precious brainpower on things so extreme.
"Up for some fancy small talk, too?" Claire asked, reaching for a chair at the table.
"Uh, I don't think he'd-"
For a second, she gawked at the man who, apart from the unbuckled holster hugging his broad shoulders and the lack of a bulletproof vest shielding his half as broad chest, was always dressed for business, always acted business. Blue collar linen shirt, a black tee to go under that shirt, black TDU pants and combat boots. Standard issue attire. Everything was business, and if he didn't gain, he didn't venture. So, small talk, among other things, was rarely a strong suit of Wesker's. It stunk of unprofessionalism. So, what was different this time around? Jill hated to think on these things but the captain, her captain, had a way with stirring up the strangest thoughts.
No, she didn't want to think about it. Too much. It always led to other… stuff.
"Jill, you gonna stand up all night, or what?" Claire snapped her fingers in Jill's face, breaking the glaze that started to form over her eyes. She backed up a step and cleared her throat, her eyes falling upon the chair in front of her. She gripped it firmly and drew it back.
Jill then took a seat, her caution too glaring to go unnoticed. To another trained eye, at least.
"So… 'Captain.'" Claire came on strong, but fortunately, not enough that she raised any instant red flags. "Are you sure we're not bothering you? Isn't it hard work being in your position?"
"He can handle it," Jill blurted out.
Wesker cocked his head at the woman, his arms, bared up to the elbows, folding over themselves with the sort of resignation that caused everyone else unease. "You sound so sure of yourself, Jill."
"Well, you wouldn't be captain if you weren't… capable?"
"You might be right."
"I guess before we settle in, what do you want to be called?" Claire asked, holding up a hand and ready to count on her fingers when next she'd speak. "Captain? Albert? Wesker? Albert Wesker? Captain Wesker? Cap-"
"Captain is fine."
"Mm. A little formal, but okay."
Jill had to admire Claire's little dedication to probe. With any luck, perhaps she'd get some information out of the man that others had long failed to gather. A recent rule of thumb for Alpha S.T.A.R.S. decreed that everyone pitch in effort to make heads or tails of their good captain. And at the end of a bi-weekly 'investigation', whoever learned the most got a free lunch or drink from Grill 13 up the street.
To date, only Chris had won such an instance of gratuity with "He's got blue socks… today." Fair and square.
Maybe, just maybe, Claire would continue on that winning streak.
In the meantime, Wesker didn't appear very amused. He sported a clear deadpan expression, more than unnerving if one took it seriously— Captain Albert Wesker was nothing if not serious. For once, however, present company was excluded. Somewhat. Jill knew when to look away. As for Chris's sister, she just hadn't known the captain long enough to feel the full and unadulterated burn of his gaze. It gave her an edge, but still left her open at the sides.
Jill took a healthy swig of her Coke while Claire proceeded to grill Wesker in a mock interview.
"So… what's it like?" she pressed, clicking her tongue.
"Excuse me?" He sat back further, intrigue awash over his hard-boiled face.
"I think she means what's it like being the captain, Captain…"
"Considering we've been on standby for whatever nationally recognized god knows how long, it's quite boring," Wesker confessed, his voice curt. "Its saving grace? Why... the colorful characters over whom I preside. Present company included."
He never wore hats—heaven forbid he ever get hat hair— but if Wesker had one right at that moment, Jill wondered if he'd tip it just to emphasize his last statement. Then again, there were his sunglasses, his fingers pinching them in place as he nodded faintly in the women's direction.
They glanced at each other, but Claire's eyes were a bit more inquiring than Jill's. Almost intuitive.
"Huh." The girl scratched her chin and leaned forward onto the table, spinning her Fanta in a circle before popping it open and taking a sip. She clicked her tongue again and wagged her head while gazing around the conference room with its stony, portrait laden walls. Her tone sly, Claire began, "So, Captain, how do you feel about the present company included? You're the only woman on the team here in the RPD, right Jill? You're special, so I bet everybody's pretty sweet on you, huh?"
"I wouldn't say tha-"
"Even the captain here?"
"Claire, I know you're new in town and everything, but this isn't really-"
"She's my subordinate," Wesker said.
The two opposite him sat straight at attention. For one, Claire's big blue eyes brightened, grossly anticipating a juicy detail or two, while Jill abhorred what more he'd have to say, if anything. Nothing good could come of it. Slander, slander, slander… But because Wesker was her captain, anything he said could be taken as him just being the hard-ass he was, waxing tough love for his team in the way of playful insults. If playful was possible.
"For a woman beneath me, she's certainly capable of being on top."
There was a pause.
A long pause.
"Did you just say what-"
Jill laughed and knocked hard on the tabletop in order to effectively cut Claire off. With one eyebrow stern and the other quirked, she looked to both Wesker and the girl and stated, "Haha, thank you, sir, thank you. I try to be… on top. Of things."
He hadn't cracked a smile the entire time. Although he didn't need to in order to seem the least bit amused. The mocking twang in his voice was enough. The narrowness to his eyes locked the clincher.
Wesker shuffled his folders into a neat pile and rose from his seat, hands gripped behind his back. But of course, he'd lowered his sunglasses into place before doing so. Now, he'd be perfectly unreadable, save for his thin, nigh expressionless lips.
"This guy sure is something else," Claire whispered to Jill, leaning as far back as she could over her shoulder without falling.
"You're telling me," she sighed in response.
"I do believe my ears are burning," Wesker announced, coming to stand at the table corner nearest yet still comfortably far from the women. "Would you mind sharing so there's no need for me to pry? Jill? Ms. Redfield?"
"Oh, it's nothing," Claire told him, nodding once. "It's just you seem quite the quirky guy."
"Whatever you think is the best descriptor."
"Uh, I'll take that as a yes."
"I don't believe I've asked," Wesker started, taking full, slow steps towards the two. "Why are you here?"
Jill's breath hitched, having expected the captain to tack on the words "… on a Friday night like this? When you should be out having fun?" at the end but, obviously, she'd assumed too much. Any question of his had to be inhospitable. Otherwise, the man would be sorely out of character. And who would want that? Certainly not I, she thought, bubbling with sarcasm.
"We're waiting for Chris," Jill managed to say, following a heavy sip from her soda.
"Is that all."
"Ah… that's all. Why do you want to know? Oh, are we already starting to wear out our welcome… Wesker?"
Jill understood. That was Wesker's double-talk for "Yes, I am starting to get rather anti-social and instead of retreating myself, I will alienate the two of you. Right. Out. Of this room." Or at least, that was what she wanted to understand.
She stood, vigorously sucking down the last of her Coke.
"Wait, are you leaving, are we leaving?" Claire did a double-take, discreetly glaring back at Wesker. Unlike Jill, she opted against standing up for the sake of pleasing the captain's unspoken gesture for them to exit, stage right.
Captain Wesker snickered as he drew closer, hands still clasped behind his back.
Jill crunched her can in a slow, refined vice grip and then sat it on the table, meanwhile eyeing her approaching superior. She flinched slightly, wondering if she assumed too soon. Not that he'd be offended. It was no big secret that the man enjoyed tossing underhanded little monkey wrenches into everyone's works. He didn't even have to try half the time. And every thought Jill put forth reflected itself in Wesker's increasingly smug half-expression.
"Did your surety falter this time, Jill?" he asked. Then, stopping behind her, he added, "That's unlike you."
"With you, it can't be helped."
"Why, it's my job to keep you all on your toes," the captain uttered, leaning in towards Jill. "Contrary to Ms. Redfield's belief, you should be… pushed… harder than the rest because you're a woman. Perhaps then, your potential may shine its brightest."
"Ah, that's every woman's dream, right?" Jill said, shrugging. "To prove her every worth above and beyond a man's? Break free from society's mold?"
Wesker bent his body further over Jill, right to the point that she felt his chest bump against her back and hover there. Unnerving warmth began to generate between them. She was glad that she wore a tee, because anything less than that meant more skin bared. And that would've been even more unnerving. When the captain invaded one's personal space, one could only assume… doom of some sort. A mark of death, she might even go so far as to say.
"Now, you aren't giving yourself enough credit, are you," the captain seemed to hiss. "We should fix that, shouldn't we?"
"Oh no, I'm, I'm fine." Jill faintly tensed. Was he actually bearing down on her? She looked to Claire, who appeared to be engrossed by their 'touching,' for her can of soda hung at her lips like an awkward piercing. Jill quirked an eyebrow and mouthed something attention breaking, making the girl sit back and drop her drink. Jill wouldn't be ogled, not like this.
"I—I feel like I'm missing something here," Claire said, looking away.
"Aren't we all, Ms. Redfield."
Jill found herself bending over the table more than she would have liked. She had to plant her hands on the tabletop to take some ache off leaning at such an angle for so long.
"Since you aren't busy, as your captain I believe you might be due for a special assignment."
"I'm on my day off."
"No timecard punched, no uniform required, although you in yours is oddly fitting…"
"Is it just me or is it getting warm in here?" Jill laughed tautly until her upper half was parallel to the table she was forced to lean over. Where exactly were things going here? To call her current state confusion was an understatement. Jill was downright dumbfounded.
"Well, it feels like something's happening and I'm wondering if I should just go wait for Chris elsewhere," Claire declared, her tone uneasy.
"Stay, won't you," Wesker said, his words a blur between command and simple request. "You might learn something."
Jill saw one hand fall behind hers to her right, and more weight upon her back. Not just weight. She felt the captain's body practically mold itself to her whole backside. Wesker had to be toying with her, and in one of the worse ways possible. Torture—no, she wouldn't go that far. Harassment—could this count as harassment? Would she have to let Chief Irons know about this? Well, why not? But, would he even believe her over the man who had infinitely more clout than she did here in the RPD? Therein was her dilemma after the fact.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were getting the wrong idea here, Jill," the captain uttered, his voice but a smooth sting of amusement.
"Like I can help it right now?"
"The wrong idea I'm getting seems to be the right idea after all," Claire mumbled off to the side.
"Claire, you don't think this is normal between us, do you?" she asked, breathy with disbelief.
"Yes, clearly I'm toying with Ms. Valentine. As I would with you or anyone else. Ms. Redfield."
"What? That sounds like a challenge."
"Why, it is."
Wesker stood straight, thrusting his solid hips into Jill's rear along the way. She slid off to the other end of the table, all the while fixing her shirt and shorts and smoothing down her neck-length hair. Sighing distressingly over this turn of events, she noticed that her captain now loomed over Claire, watching her askance with his hands cupped behind him once again. The girl defiantly glared back, an action she deemed very Chris-like.
Of course, there was something more to the girl's face.
"I might be young, but I'm not as impressed as you think," she said. "Or well, I'm trying. And I think I'm doing a pretty damn good job, huh? So, what's your challenge?"
"Bold, aren't you," Wesker stated, unmoving in his posture. "My challenge— that's assignment for you, Jill— is that you merely you show me what you've got. Starting today, ending… whenever you'd like. Show me what you're capable of in whatever possible form and I will admit your worth, perhaps even… treat you. One slip up, however, and I believe either of you could be at my mercy."
Jill saw Claire's face change.
"At my mercy."
"Whatever that means, you don't sound too compromising about it…"
"That's the kind of guy he is," Jill said from a distance. "It's his way or the highway."
"I'm glad we see eye to eye, Jill. That's what I like about you. You understand my position."
Yeah, I understand your position to suppress nearly everyone around you if they don't see eye to eye and… most of them can't because you wear sunglasses, she thought, grimacing. Then she looked to Claire, whose face was a slow burn of indignation.
"I don't see why I should have to prove myself to some guy I just met," she said.
"I don't see why you shouldn't," Wesker said.
"You are a piece of work…"
The captain's face was brimming with the shadow of a smile.
"Jill, what do you think?" Claire asked. "Should I call him on his blatant bluff? What about you?"
"I'll just… keep it in mind."
"Mind you, Jill," Wesker noted, "that this is an assignment. You can drop the ball if you want, but that won't look very good on your permanent record now, will it?"
"You're serious." Jill bowed her head forward, looking up past her brow at the captain. The entire situation left her at a loss. Had Wesker been waiting for a moment just like this to hand her this 'assignment'? To prove her worth? Just how low did he really think of her? At least he had the grace to offer her a chance in proving she could walk with the big dogs. Were it Chief Irons, Jill would already be on her way out the door or someplace else she couldn't bother to fathom.
"Don't you think this is a bit immature... Captain Wesker?" Claire asked, with an eyebrow crooked dubiously in the man's direction.
"Every day is a rat race," he answered. "Every day is a challenge. What's one more gauntlet thrown into the mix, hmm? However… it is not every day that you're offered the opportunity to be named an equal, my equal in fact."
"Pompous blowhard, party of one," Claire coughed under her breath before turning in the opposite direction.
"Such audacity is often unbecoming, but you seem to wear it well, Ms. Redfield. Keep it up. You just might… win my heart." The smirk Wesker brandished was subtle but unusually sinister. The girl glanced over her shoulder in clear wonder then down at her hands. After a moment of silence, she tossed a similar smirk back at him.
"Well, I have some more paperwork to finish, in peace. Consider what I've said tonight. Starting now… let the games begin. Don't disappoint for I'd hate to see either of you out of the game so soon. Good evening, ladies. Until then."
"Watch your back," Claire called to the captain's departure from the conference room.
Jill heaved a sigh and breathed, "This isn't going to end well."
To Sixth: Here's hoping I still want to make something more out of this, to continue with my shenanigans. Also, folks out there, those of you who... do things. Some of you are welcome to help me refine this and anything else because apparently I can't write well on my own. I know not the sweet touch of a beta... Just be civil, or seriously what the fuck, I don't come to your house and break your windows when they slant weird. Sometimes, as long as it does its job, leave that window alone. Some people even like that kind of quirk. But you can come clean it a little if you want. Your wives, too.
To be continued... maybe.