Disclaimer: Resident Evil and all its associated characters are property of CAPCOM; no infringement or ownership is implied here. It's their sandbox, I am just building sandcastles in it. 'Cause if I owned it, Jill would have an actual backstory.

Rating: T, mostly for bad language

Author's Notes: Many thanks to the Lovely Beta Faye and the Lovely Beta Himawari for feedback, concrit, and not chucking me out the window when I kept them up late to finish this one.

Given the nature of RE's canon, there's a fair bit of guesswork to be done to fill in some of the blanks. The Resident Evil Wiki and I are good friends at this point, but suffice to say, I had to make some things up. All errors in said making things up are mine, along with the inevitable spelling mistakes and grammar errors I didn't catch.

Do enjoy. :)


I. S.T.A.R.S. Training, 1998

Training with Wesker is a schizophrenic experience. Some days what he orders will make perfect sense, and the teams will run through the exercises with no problem. Other days he orders something bizarre, and the teams have to muddle through it the best they can, or at least the best they can until Wesker corrects them. Chris thinks that he's an all right guy for a Captain, but sometimes, it's all too clear that Wesker has a weird streak in him.

Today is one of those days where the exercises feel a little tilted, a little random. Lots of people being put into situations they're not really trained for, and more than the usual amount of Wesker wearing that creepy, "rats in a maze" look he sometimes gets. Then, to top it all off, Wesker has Chris and Jill practicing hand-to-hand.

On each other.

Chris knows that Jill is not that confident about her hand to hand skills, especially since she's admitted that they could use some work. She's got training, of course, but it's not her specialization. She generally practices with Rich or Brad; given that the three of them share the same job, it makes sense for them to hone their skills together.

On the other hand, he trains with Forest and Wesker himself, because that's the only way to make it fair. Plus, he's got almost half a foot and at least fifty pounds on her. Between that disparity and Jill's skill level, flattening her should be easy.

He can see that knowledge in Jill's eyes as she steps into the ring. He can also see, from her stance and the little curve of her mouth, that she's not gonna let that stop her from giving her best to this exercise. And if he doesn't give it his all, she won't hesitate to put him in his place. It's one of the reasons he likes her; it reminds him a little of Claire, only with more polish to her brashness. She has a way of looking at him that always dares him to try to keep up, even when she's the one who's behind.

Chris has had a lot of thoughts about Jill since he joined the team last year. He used to think she was a waste of space, too porcelain for this sort of work, no matter what her background was. Even after he'd gotten to know her, she'd never really been clear about that; obviously, Barry and Captain Wesker knew, but the rest of them were left in the dark. It hasn't been a problem, so no one really cares.

Wesker directs them to face each other. "You may begin," he says, and Chris can hear a sneer in his voice. It's something he occasionally gets from Wesker, and as usual, it's just unexpected enough to throw him off.

Jill takes advantage of that to get in her first strike, and the follow-up nearly knocks him on his ass. He gets his brain together enough to push her back, to find his own follow-up, and then it becomes a little more methodical: attack and counter, in the little patterns so well ingrained in the combat computer of his mind.

So his original opinion of Jill was bullshit. Jill, on the other hand, is not, and she's proven that time and time again. He knows she's used to it, too, the proving, and over time that's really begun to piss him off. Still happens, though; this fight here, in fact, feels like Wesker trying to make a point to her, and that's part of what makes it damn uncomfortable.

The other uncomfortable part - where he doesn't want to fight Jill, even though he'll gladly spar with anyone else - he's not touching with a ten foot pole. If she's a teammate, she's a teammate, and doesn't deserve, want, or need differential treatment of any sort. If he can spar with Claire, he can spar with Jill, dammit.

The fight ends, as he expected it to end, with him pinning Jill. She squirms like a caught fish, but he's got her twisted up in holds so that she's not going anywhere any time soon.

"Come on, Jill," he says, voice light. "Tap out."

Her head turns, and for a moment she just breathes. Then, the corner of her mouth turns up slightly.

Before he can do anything , she rocks back, coming this close to smashing her head into his. Then her body slams to the left, then the right, then the left again. It's enough to break the tightness of his hold, and that is enough for her teeth to get close enough to latch onto his left forearm, hold, and bite.

He swears loudly and pulls his arm away. Her teeth let go, but it's then that he realizes she's half broken out, and he has to scramble to catch her again -

"TIME," Wesker calls. The two of them freeze in an odd tableau: Chris grabbing for Jill again as she tries to yank the rest of her body free. Jill's head is down, so he can't see her eyes, but there's a curve to her mouth that looks awfully pleased with itself.

"Interesting ingenuity there, Valentine," Wesker says as he comes to a stop just outside the ring. He has that shark-like smirk on his face.

"Thank you, sir," she replies.

"Though ultimately dangerous," he continues. "Unless you are able to precisely judge the exact depth of your bite, you might end up with some terrible blood borne infection. That would be contrary to your mission, am I understood?"

Her head ducks a little more. "Yes, sir," she replies.

"But still, excellent use of thinking outside the box. A full contact headbutt might be something to consider next time, though. Don't fear the pain, dear - use it."

Jill's voice is decidedly more muffled as she says, "Yes, sir."

"Good." He claps his hands once. "That's enough for today. You two are dismissed."

Without a comment to Chris - on his abilities or his health - he walks off.

Sometimes, Wesker really gets on Chris's nerves.

He releases Jill the rest of the way, then looks over his arm. The skin isn't broken, but there'd been enough force applied to bruise. In fact, it sort of looks like the start of a hickey.

"It's not too bad, is it?"

He looks up at Jill; she's standing in a sheepish pose, one hand curled about her elbow, eyes uneasy.

"It stings," he says, shaking his arm. He holds it up and waggles his fingers. "But no permanent damage." His eyes flick up and down her form, and even though she'd just bitten him, he has to ask. "Are you all right?"

Her head lifts a little, and there's something disturbed in the usual placidity of Jill's face. "Yeah," she says. "I'll be a little sore tomorrow, I think, but I'm all right."

"Good." And he means it. As much as it hurt to have her teeth in his skin, he's glad that Jill is willing to take risks - even weird ones - to get out of dangerous situations. It makes her a scrapper, a survivor, the kind of person Chris prefers to work with. He'd rather partner someone who will takes chances rather than someone who would stop struggling just because the rules would dictate it's time for them to stop struggling.

He starts to push up off the floor, and she offers her hand. He takes it, and the two of them rock him up to a stand. For a moment, she doesn't let go, and the warmth of her palm is unfamiliar against his skin.

Then, she drops it. "See you back in the station," she says, her voice sounding like it's caught in her throat.

He nods. "Yeah."

He wraps the bruise at work-the last thing he needs is people asking why he has teethmarks in his arm-but when he gets home, he trashes the wrapping and lets it heal free to the air. It's already starting to look less like a hickey by then, and by the next morning, has started to fade into his skin. The skin remains sensitive even after it vanishes completely, though, and he catches himself a few times looking down at his arm to see if the mark remains.

It doesn't.