Series/Disclaimer: Resident Evil, which I don't own.
Pairing/Characters: None. Chris Redfield-centric
Beta: isten_kardja, of course.
Summary: "It's over." And it was - but it wasn't right.
Author's Note: I honestly have no clue where this idea came from. I think I was just going through a phase of loving Wesker's Samurai Edge (because that is one sexy gun) and wanted to give it some kind of closure. It seemed like more than an Easter egg to me in the game, that Wesker kept that gun for eleven years just to put a bullet between Chris's eyes. So I think it deserved its own little story~
- x - x - x -
He didn't know why he came back to Africa. There had always been this lingering need to clean up the loose ends of his past; that was what he tried to do on Rockfort, Antarctica, in Spencer's estate and it was what he succeeded at doing here in Africa. The last, looming shadow of his past had been yanked into the light and turned to dust with two RPGs to the face. So what was he chasing now?
As he knocked a few rocks free of the formation he stood on, he tried to figure out the answer. Other B.S.A.A agents were milling around in groups out of his sight, supposedly looking for the same things he was. Their voices crackled in his earpiece, talking to each other more than they were to him. The attention he paid was just enough for a few key words that his years on duty had taught him were important. Beyond that, his mind was so focused on looking for his own answers in the ash-covered land around him that their banter became inconsequential. It bordered on annoying, but he knew that was just because none of them had found anything – and neither had he.
Not that he had a clue what he was so pissed about not finding.
In the months since Albert Wesker had been killed he had thrown himself headlong into his work. Some part of him was just waiting for the megalomaniac to pop up again with a new plan, but it seemed to shrink a little more every day. When he woke up in the morning, the reality of Wesker's head disappearing behind an RPG seemed more and more concrete. The explosion he saw and the nothingness left to melt in a sea of molten rock sank further and further in. Wesker had survived a lot of things he shouldn't have, but this was solid. He wasn't sure why, but it felt right – no, it felt over – in his gut.
For some reason, it didn't feel right, and maybe that was why he was so pissed. He was milling around Africa, kicking up ash and dust, away from real work – because of a feeling as vague as Wesker's death didn't feel "right." What did that even mean? Dead and buried – sure. But something heavy and empty was left behind. Something that brought him back here, and had him smudged with dry grime and frustration.
He pushed on – what other choice did he have?
His earpiece crackled his name, causing his muscles to seize before he raised his fingers to the button.
"What exactly are we looking for?"
He frowned, as though the agent could see it, before sighing, "Anything that looks like it doesn't belong outside a volcano."
"I don't know. Pieces of a bomber, any of the Uroboros missiles, clothes–"
Chris flinched, his brain catching up with his statement and kicking him for it. His eyes scanned the ground, as if he could find some way to cover up what he'd said. Of course, his mouth felt no need to wait for it.
"Yeah, or something like–"
At that point his attention snagged, shutting off his mind and mouth. Without thinking, he jogged towards the soft glint of silver he'd seen amidst the dirt even as a confused agent responded "like what?" in his ear.
"Hold on." The response was automatic, but it served its purpose as the other end went quiet.
He dropped to one knee, hand already outstretched to brush the ashes away. It felt like the instant his fingers grazed the metal he knew what it was. All the warmth in his body rushed to where he made contact with the heavily modified Samurai Edge. Picking it up felt like he was pushing his body through Jell-O – it took forever for his fingers to curl around the grip. It was warm in his palm and the undersides of his fingers, making a pulse go through him. His mind flashed back to Spencer's Estate, the impossible heat of Wesker's hand around his throat. The same that lingered on the gun he held now.
No. He physically shook the memory from his mind, allowing logic to pop up in its place. It had been laying in the sun all day, outside a volcano. It was warm, but that had nothing to do with Wesker. How could it? He was–
He started from staring at the engraved "S.T.A.R.S" on the barrel, his throat tightening around his sound of acknowledgment and making it more like a dry cough.
"You find something?"
He pushed himself to his feet, keeping a firm hold on the gun. His thumb slid over the familiar emblem on the grip, smudging the dirty away.
"Yeah," he swallowed, "Yeah, I found it."
- x – x – x -
It wasn't that hard to get custody of the gun. To everyone at the B.S.A.A, it was just an unimportant firearm – it probably couldn't have a better person to go home with. His care of guns was unparalleled, as was his skill, but he had no plans to fire it. In the months that followed getting back to the States, cleaning it had turned into a project. Between missions and other obligations, he would take it apart and start tending to the dirt that had built up in and on it.
Cleaning a gun shouldn't have taken months, even the Samurai Edge, which had been lying on the ground for some time before he picked it up. But he couldn't make it quick and simple – something stopped him. He was meticulous, swiping dirt out of the grip's grid and polishing the S.T.A.R.S symbol. It went beyond the way he cleaned his own sidearm because each detail was nostalgic. He tried to keep it from turning out that way, struggling to remember the last time he had seen this gun in the hands of its owner. But that last sour memory slipped from his fingers like sand and was replaced with ones from a better time in his life.
That happened for months, like a routine he couldn't quit, until one Saturday morning he snapped the empty magazine back into place and realized there was nothing left to do. It had been cleaned of every grain of dirt and polished practically to new. He balanced the weight in his hand, having grown accustomed to it over the past few months, but it now felt strange. Without any further care required, he was left with no purpose for it. He would never use it, he wasn't even sure what possessed him to clean it. But here it was, looking as well-cared for as it had when he saw Wesker cleaning it over a decade ago.
He frowned at the memory creeping from the locked trunk in the back of his mind. Rather than letting it get anywhere, he stood up from the couch and the movement seemed to clear his head, though it didn't do much in the way of helping him figure out what to do with the gun. He toggled the safety one last time before setting it in the confines of the gray lock-box he'd been keeping it in. Those memories weren't the type the gun should have brought up, not after he had it poised to take his life.
But it had been like that since he found it – every time he tried to remember that instant in the bomber it was overwhelmed with the better memories. Only once had that gun been turned on him, but how many times had it saved him? It didn't represent the Wesker he'd killed in Africa. It couldn't. Not with the nostalgia it aroused, with the lives it had saved.
It wasn't Wesker's gun – it was his captain's gun. Always had been.
He carefully closed the box's lid and flicked his thumb over the combination, scattering it back to animosity.
Always would be.
- x – x – x -
"Jill, I'll be back by tomorrow afternoon."
"I don't get why I couldn't just come with you."
"It's just something I gotta do on my own, okay?"
Hesitation. Then she sighed in that way that always meant he was off the hook.
"Okay. Stay safe."
He waited for the line to click dead on her end before lowering his phone. It wasn't fair to blame her for worrying, so he didn't. But it wasn't like he was running into a group of Lickers unarmed. Some part of him was pretty sure that would have been a million times easier than what he was doing. Or at least he would have had a lot fewer knots twisting his gut.
One of the handiest features on his phone was the GPS function. In the thick woods of the Arklay mountains, getting lost was a guarantee. He'd like to think that the former location of the mansion would have been imprinted in his mind just for the horrors he'd seen there, but it wasn't. Going in, he had been fending of Cerberus left, right, and behind while stumbling through the dark. Coming out, he'd been chased by a Tyrant at least two feet taller than him and during the fly back to Raccoon the coordinates of that hellhole had been the last thing on his mind.
No, his GPS was invaluable to finding his way back to a place he was certain he'd never return to.
The site where Arklay Mansion had once been was declared a biohazard zone only after Umbrella's testing became an accepted fact. It had become no less secluded in the time between being destroyed and the declaration, meaning that people weren't wandering around a place that could have resulted in another outbreak. He was certain that Umbrella would have been thorough with the explosion, but years on the field taught him that the messes left behind by bio-warfare weren't the easiest to clean. It wasn't until 2008 that it was deemed clear by the B.S.A.A - ten years after his first encounter with bioweapons.
Nothing grew there, or at least it didn't grow well. The B.S.A.A had spent some time rifling through the dirt, looking for clues and making sure that nothing would spring from the soil. What little tufts of grass that had managed to grow were brown and dry. In the daylight, the location stood a chance of being normal and it might've even been beautiful once, in that way that some people could find beauty in nature. That had never really been his thing, and all he could see now was the harsh fact that everything this war touched could never be the same as it once was.
He wasn't here to reminisce though – he had a mission for being so far from work. His attention danced over the depressing landscape as he adjusted the shovel on his shoulder. He chose a spot that wouldn't be too obvious, where the dirt was already pretty loose and could be quickly packed back down by rain. So he set down the lock-box and started to dig.
He had attended funerals for the members of S.T.A.R.S who had died that night. Almost every one of them had families to tend to it – though they had only been told that their loved ones died "on duty." At the time he'd been furious at the vague label and felt that they had the right to know the real details. Their loved ones had died fighting things they never should have seen and weren't prepared for – all because Umbrella screwed up. He wanted as many fingers pointing at that damned corporation as he could get.
It wasn't until after Rockfort that he realized not telling them was the best thing that could have happened. How many of them would have thrown themselves into the same danger Claire had? How many of them wouldn't have been as lucky as she was?
All the dead members of S.T.A.R.S had been buried by families with no bodies to put in the graves. To him, all of them were here – they were buried in Arklay. Something material of them was in the ashes that had long since mingled with the soil or scattered in the mountains. Arklay was the S.T.A.R.S teams' resting place.
So it would be the resting place of its Alpha Team Captain, too.
Captain Wesker had died in the mansion that night as much as any of the rest of them had. When Albert Wesker exchanged his humanity for power, he became someone else. He wasn't the same person that ran drills with them or hit Chris on the back of the head with files when he wasn't doing what he was supposed to. He wasn't the man that stayed late with him to make sure his paperwork was finished, or commended him for his marksmanship after an hour at the shooting range. He wasn't the man he had respected and admired for two years.
He wasn't the man who carried the gun sitting in a lock-box at his heel.
That Wesker had died eleven years ago, and it took killing the monster that rose in his place for Chris to realize it. But because he had, he could bury the last remaining piece of an eleven-year-long fight. He could put all this behind him. For good.
He dropped down to one knee, checking that the hole was deep enough before lowering the box into it. If this thing was ever dug up, he didn't want it to be in his lifetime. As he started filling the dirt back in, he felt a tension ease from his shoulders. The dissatisfaction and void that had pulled him back to Africa, drove him to clean the gun, and brought him all the way out to Arklay was being buried as well. It finally felt like the shadow of Albert Wesker was lifting from his life. A feeling he spent years doubting he would ever experience.
By the time he was standing up, he was lighter than he had been in years. Brushing his hands off on his pants, he picked up the small shovel and turned to head back to his Jeep. The make-shift grave found a place in the back of his mind, sealed away in the safety of his other memories with S.T.A.R.S.
That was where it belonged.