AN: A big thank-you to my reviewers. Here are the next set of drabbles, and the conclusion of this story. As an interesting fact: H1N1, referenced in #11, killed about 75 million people in a single year, the 1918 outbreak. In a single year it ranked itself up with the Black Death on total mortality. If that doesn't scare you…
Also in #11, I added an alternate, crossover-universe origin for Uroboros. Hopefully it makes sense. Anyway, enjoy.
7: Muscle Memory
Mercer did little to hide his relief when Wesker led him to an actual lab bench rather than a containment chamber. A lab bench with microscopes, pipettes, Petri dishes, Bunsen burners, hot plates, bottles upon bottles of powdered growth media, more gloves than any non-microbiologist would know what to do with, and a clean new lab coat that Alex automatically donned once it was handed to him. Wesker had been certain to investigate the standard Gentek setup and had it recreated as faithfully as possible for the comfort of his newest researcher.
While Zeus claimed to remember very little from his previous life, it was obvious from his accounts that certain things had remained fixed in his mind. He could still move around with the confidence of an adult, he could still read and speak English, he could identify objects, and he understood what danger felt like and how he should respond to it. All of Alex Mercer's procedural memories had remained intact through his death, the viral incubation period, and his resurrection.
Wesker knew that if he played it right, he could use those muscle memories to easily bring Alex back into the swing of things. He needed to get him studying his own virus, a project he had headed in his previous life, as soon as possible. All he had studied about human psychology told him that cues were essential for recall, and he had endeavored to provide.
"So how do you like your new workspace?" he asked as Mercer kept systematically opening all the drawers and checking their contents.
"It's workable," was the reply as a pair of gloves was pulled on. Wesker had to chuckle as Alex began organizing the boxes of pipette tips with all the methodic care of an obsessive compulsive. Clearly there were some things about him Blacklight couldn't change.
Alex was so glad when his new lover had been true to his word and gotten Dana the tests and treatment she needed. He may not have been able to cure the infection (he somehow doubted he wanted to, being infected himself), but he had found a way to rouse her from what they had eventually realized was a hibernation state. That brought him to where he was now, anxiously waiting outside the quarantine chamber they had her isolated in while she slowly came to.
But at least Wesker could be calm and professional. Even as Zeus paced and fretted he went through the motions, asking her questions over the intercom, assessing how much of her memory had remained intact. Dana remembered her name, she remembered her birthday, she remembered her brother's name and birthday, she remembered the outbreak, and how her brother had found her again. Albert offered to let him talk to her more than once, but each time he didn't know what to say. He'd been able to weakly say 'hi' to her at the blonde's third attempt, but that was all he could muster without being face to face with her. She was still Dana, and she'd been so much luckier than him.
It was another hour before Wesker was through assessing her and unsealed the chamber. She wasted no time coming out, and Alex wasted no time pulling her into a bone crushing hug. He loved his sister, and he was glad that Albert could respect that.
9: Family Matters
Wesker had been apprehensive about Dana at first once he realized she'd been an investigative reporter. She had, after all, been able to spy on Mercer's superiors at Gentek for him before he'd cut all ties prior to the Outbreak. Someone like that could easily ruin his plans. Still, the infected Alex seemed to care about her very much, and so she became another way to keep him close and maintain his trust.
She'd been wary of him at first, too, apparently unsure what to make of him. Alex himself had been hesitant to inform her of their level of involvement, apparently embarrassed about it. When he finally just bit the bullet and said he was his boyfriend she'd become even more suspicious before suddenly getting over it.
"I'll admit, it was a bit of a shock, you and Alex," she'd explained after managing to corner him in his office. "You didn't really seem like his type, but I guess you do have a lot in common. I don't care if you're both guys. Just take care of him, alright? He's been through enough already without having to add another broken heart to the mix. So remember: if you hurt him, his wrath will be the least of your worries."
The vicious protectiveness was a family trait he supposed.
"Well, I must say, Alex, you clean up rather nice," Wesker purred as he caught sight of his partner. The Blacklight Runner had abandoned his usual hoodie, jeans and leather jacket in favor of a very sharp business suit and neatly arranged hair. All fashioned from his biomass, of course. Quite a useful talent that was.
"You don't think I'm overdressed, do you?" Mercer teased right back, coming to stand before his similarly attired lover. "And speaking of dressing, are you sure you want to be seen at this meeting with a dead terrorist? I can always be someone else."
"I myself am a dead terrorist, so we're in that boat together."
"Still, you don't have the benefit of being able to change your skin like I can." Alex frowned slightly before the biomass roiled across his entire body and his male form was replaced by a female one, still looking professional and businesslike, and still looking entirely like Alex. "I can go in like this, if you'd prefer. Alexandra Mercer doesn't technically exist, after all, so she's safe."
Albert chuckled as he gave 'Alexandra' an appraising look. It wasn't the first time he'd seen her, and she was still just as attractive as her male self.
"But, oh, this will never do, Alex," he playfully gave a mock pout. "If you go in like this they will be too distracted by your beauty that they will be unable to pay attention to anything you're saying. I'm showing you off for your brains here, not your looks. Better stick to being male."
Mercer chuckled at that, but nonetheless reverted back to the way he'd been before. Wesker made a show of adjusting the younger Runner's jacket before gesturing towards the boardroom.
"It's show time, Partner."
"Look at it. Just look at it, Alex. Do you see what we have created?"
Seven years after Manhattan, seven years after meeting Mercer, seven years of careful research, and Wesker's dream was almost ready to come to fruition. In his hands was a vial, and in that vial was the most powerful virus the Earth had ever seen. A virus with the power to rewrite humanity itself.
It hadn't taken them much study to realize that their two viruses were descendents of the same wild strain in Africa. But while the original Umbrella had hybridized their sample with Ebola, the original Gentek had taken a more sensible approach and hybridized their own with H1N1, the infamous Killer Flu. The final products of such breeding were as different as dusk and dawn. And now, after generations of isolated selection, the two strains had finally been crossed back together.
This new virus might as well have been their child. And it could make him a god over this world.
"I'm amazed we got anything viable out of this mess," Alex added, eyes trained on the product of their labors. "From my original projections it looked like it would have been a miracle to get any results. What did you say you wanted to call this virus if it ever survived? Uroboros?"
Uroboros. The snake devouring its own tail, beginning where it ended, ending where it began. It was quite a fitting name.
12: Twilight of the Gods
He should have known Wesker couldn't be trusted. He should have known the bastard would twist the truth to meet his own selfish ends. He should have known that everything between them had been a lie. He should have known, but he had wanted so badly to believe. Had wanted so badly to not have to face the world that feared and hated him alone.
But he was alone, so very alone as the truth of Wesker flowed through his being, along with the virus that had made them so similar and was now struggling to compete against a far superior organism. Alone with the mistakes he'd made, again and again, with Greene, with Karen, with Cross… why had he never learned? Why did he keep opening himself up to betrayal? The memories of his most recent error of judgment assaulted him with their brutal honesty, an honesty their former holder had clearly never shown him. It stung like so much salt in so deep a wound.
Biomass roiled across his back and down his arms as the truth flashed through his mind. It was the cause of everything between them; memories of when Wesker first laid eyes on him bubbled to the surface, sharp and clear. It was all so that bastard could get his hands on the Blacklight. He had never cared at all about the man who carried the most viable source. It had been nothing but a lie.
Alex could only laugh, because he was no longer able to cry.
AN: Ultimately, following this pair to their natural conclusion, all I ended up with was a bloody mess where Wesker used to be, and a distraught Mercer laughing brokenly while wearing his stolen form. Similar they may be, but that alone does not make for a lasting relationship it would seem.
I still have half formed plans to weave this plotline into a complete, coherent narrative, but not just yet. I've got enough projects that are too big for their own good on the table already. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, or maybe I'll just leave it as it is. Only time will tell.