Author's note: This is something that I wrote in one sitting. I started playing the game, I had the idea, and I wrote it down. I enjoyed writing this. I hope I captured their personalities even though I have only started playing the game! :) Here we go...
Leon and Ashley have been running endlessly in the woods to get away from the Ganados. The way they shouted Spanish words that Ashley did not even understand sent chills up and down her spine. The enemies seemed to be coming from all sides, and even stopping to breathe would be dangerous. The pair had no choice but to keep going to stay alive. They have been running for who knows long. The chilly night air enveloped them as they made their way in what seemed like an endless maze. Ashley could feel her legs were about to give out, but she knew that stopping at that point was not even an option. It didn't really help that it was night time, and the moon was their only source of light. She had no idea how Leon could navigate under very little light. But she was blind as a bat. She couldn't see anything within 2 meters.
Exhaustion, fear and hunger were overcoming her, but she stopped herself from whining. The last thing Leon needed to hear is how hungry and tired she was. He already knew that.
She was about to beg Leon to stop when he said what she had been dying to hear.
"I see a house over there. Let's see if we can take shelter."
Ashley followed his eyes. There was a small house not too far from where they were at. It looked really dark inside, but it was better than none. This gave her a feeling of temporary relief. She gathered all of her remaining strength to get to the house as quickly as possible.
They managed to get far enough from the Ganados. They did not seem to notice where they went, and they eventually retreated.
As they reached the front door, Leon ordered her to stay put until he made sure that the house was safe.
Leon kicked the door open, and automatically pointed his gun at different places, anticipating for enemies. He wandered around with his highly trained eyes and ears. When he was absolutely sure that the house was empty, he called on Ashley. "You can come in now, it's clear."
Ashley let herself in, stopping just 2 steps way from the door. "It's dark. I can't see anything."
"Don't worry, I picked up a lighter, and there's a fireplace in here somewhere."
Leon navigated through the dark with his lighter, and found the fireplace. He lit it. It gave the room a faint glow. It was enough to light up the entire room, but not bright enough to attract the enemies.
He closed the door and worked on putting barricades on it. They were safe for now. Eerie silence followed, except for the sound of his boot on the wooden floor.
Ashley sat on her folded legs in front of the fireplace. She was getting a little cold, and the warmth provided relief. She stared blankly at the fire, too tired to think of anything. She had been up for 36 hours. If she didn't die from Ganados, she would die from sleep deprivation.
She heard his footsteps approaching her from behind. Leon knelt right next to her.
"Are you okay? Does anything hurt?" He said gently.
She shook her head from side to side, not taking her eyes away from the fire. "I'm fine, just really tired."
"I know. It's been a long day." Leon tapped her shoulder lightly. "Get some sleep. I'll keep an eye out."
Ashley nodded slightly. "Thanks Leon."
Leon got up and searched the house for anything useful. He went upstairs and found worn down single bed. It had one dirty pillow on it. He took the mattress and the pillow with him downstairs and laid it down right next to where Ashley was sitting.
"Here, I found this upstairs. It's nothing like the bed you sleep on at the White House, but it's better than this wooden floor."
Ashley looked at it and then at Leon. "What about you?"
Leon was a little taken aback. He wasn't used to being asked about his well being. It was always presumed that he could take care of himself.
"Don't worry about me. I'm used to sleeping on hard surface. Part of my training," he said, finding a location to lay his tired body on. He settled on the spot close to the door. He sat down and leaned his back against the wall, facing Ashley.
Ashley gave him a worried look. "But you're doing all the work here. I think you deserve a soft mattress more than I do. So take it." She slightly pushed the mattress towards him.
Leon looked at her in amusement. "That's cute, but I'm really good. It's for you. Besides, it's too small for me. My arms and legs are going to be hanging off the sides anyway." He tried to make a joke to lighten the mood.
It worked. She giggled. "You're so silly. Fine. I'll take the bed. But if I see you not sleeping, we're switching places, okay?"
"If that makes you feel better, sure." He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.
Getting tired of staring at the fire, Ashley turned his attention to him. "Leon?"
"Hmm?" He replied without opening his eyes.
She moved from the wooden floor to the mattress. It felt good to sit on a soft surface for the first time since she got captured.
"I'm sorry I got you in this mess."
"No, you didn't. Those evil bastards got us in here. And I'll get you out of here, I promise."
"You mean you'll get US out of here." She said, making sure she emphasized "us." "You need to start using that word."
He laughed softly. Leon had been trained to ensure the safety of other people first. His protective instinct overpowered him that his own safety became his last priority.
"I'm sorry, I meant us."
Ashley smiled. "Much better."
Leon opened his eyes and saw Ashley gazing at him with an unreadable expression on her face.
He sat right up quickly. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Ashley snorted. His constant worrying amused her. "Will you relax? I'm fine. I'm just trying to figure out who you are."
He rested his back against the wall, putting himself at ease. His tired eyes looked up at her. "I'm a government agent. Do you need my ID?" he joked.
Ashley rolled her eyes. "I'm thinking of a more personal question, actually."
He wanted to catch some sleep but he figured it wouldn't hurt to answer one question. "Fire away."
She asked the thing that she had been wondering ever since she met him. "Are you married?"
Leon raised his left hand, showing its backside. "Never."
Ashley rested her elbows on her folded legs and cupped her face. "Why not?"
Leon sighed and fixed his gaze at the fireplace. "It's not easy to get married with the kind of work that I have. I get sent on missions after missions. It would be cruel of me to put a woman through that. Besides, I have already accepted my permanent bachelor status." He scoffed.
Ashley fell silent for a few seconds. She definitely heard the frustration in Leon's voice.
She chose her words carefully. "Look, I can't imagine any woman who would not want to be with you. I'm sure you'll find someone who would be willing to put up with the kind of work that you have. She's out there, Leon. You just have to find her." She said in sincerity. "Don't tell me there is actually a crazy woman out there who rejected you?"
He scoffed, again. "You have no idea. I already lost count."
Ashley's jaw dropped in disbelief. She could not believe that there are women – plural – who actually rejected Leon. Blasphemy. "Sorry, that's just unbelievable."
"It's true. You see, I'm not very lucky with women. I'd like to think I'm decent looking, but hey..." he trailed off.
Ashley could not wipe the disbelief look on her face. Decent looking? He was only the most gorgeous man she had ever laid her eyes on. What was she missing?
"That's just crazy. I don't understand why someone like you would get rejected. What kind of women are you into? Aliens?"
Leon chuckled. "Thank you Ashley, that's kind of you." He replied. "Hey, maybe I'll find an axe-carrying Spanish woman in here to take home with me," he joked.
Ashley laughed and turned serious again. "If you can't find a woman who will understand your line of work, have you tried finding someone in your line of work?"
Leon's facial expression changed. He became sullen, and in deep thought.
Ashley was embarrassed. It was probably too personal for him. "I'm sorry. I should really shut up and go to sleep. Good night Leon." She lay down on her back and stared at the ceiling. He was probably thinking she was nosy and obnoxious. Great, she thought.
Dead silence followed. She crossed the line, and she instantly regretted it. She hoped that by tomorrow, the awkward atmosphere would be gone like it never happened.
After the long silence, Leon spoke again. "It's cool. You want to know the answer, right?"
She was surprised by his willingness to talk. "I-if you're up for it, yeah." She replied without bothering to get up.
Leon lay down on his back as well. "I met this girl six years ago when I was just a cop. Have you heard of Raccoon city?"
"Yes. I was too young back then, but my father explained it to me, when he was still a Senator. It was all over the news."
"I used to be a cop there when that whole thing happened."
"You were actually there during the outbreak?"
"Yes. And I escaped."
"Oh my God," she replied, unable to hide her admiration. He was a Raccoon City survivor! If she was not mistaken, he was probably the only survivor she had heard of. From what she could remember, it was assumed that the majority of the population died after it was burnt to the ground.
"Anyway, while I was trying to escape, I met someone. A girl."
Recovering from her shock, she responded. "What's her name?"
He hesitated, and then continued. "I guess it was what they usually call love at first sight. I thought she was really pretty, and I immediately became attracted to her. She had a boyfriend at the time, and she was looking for him. I thought to myself, well, he's probably dead by now so why don't you pick me instead? But of course I didn't say that. Instead, I helped her find him. We looked after each other. I thought we had something, but I was wrong. She betrayed me. She didn't tell me she was a spy." Leon scoffed. "One minute, we were allies. Next thing you know, she was pointing a gun at me. It was like playing a twisted mind game with her every time, and yet…"
"…you're in love with her." Ashley finished the sentence for him.
Leon fell silent.
Ashley felt bad about bringing up that topic. It obviously struck a chord in him. Me and my big, fat mouth! She told herself.
"I'm so sorry, Leon." She said apologetically.
"No, you're good. It's actually nice to talk to someone about it."
Ashley smiled upon hearing this. She was glad that he opened up to her. "Who knew you had a soft spot?"
Ashley decided to change the subject.
"So what do you do on your free time? You do get days off, right?"
"Hardly. I work all the time. Ever since the government trained me, I have been working non stop."
She raised her right eyebrow in disbelief. "No vacations? Nothing? That must be miserable."
He let out a small laugh. "I'm used to it. I like what I do."
Poor guy, she thought. This brought upon an idea. "Tell you what, after this mission, I'll ask my dad to give you several months off to go take a vacation anywhere you want."
"Thanks Ashley, but that's not necessary."
"So necessary!" She blurted out. "Leon, don't be silly. You need it after this hellish nightmare. A lot of people would kill for a paid vacation."
"If I didn't do what I do, of course I'd love to take that offer. But I can't really relax knowing that there are evil people out there who will stop at nothing to conquer the world. I can't allow that, Ashley."
Sheez. Spoken like a true American hero, she thought. "I get that. I know you think it's your duty to save the world, but even heroes need a break every now and then." She pointed out. "Even Superman went on a hiatus for five years and guess what? The world didn't end." She said, matter-of-factly.
Leon formed a smile on his face. "You're persuasive, aren't you?"
"Just saying. At least think about it before you decline."
"Okay. I'll think about it." He said, even though he knew very well that it was not even option.
Ashley smiled and bit her lower lip. "Good." She sat right up and pulled the sweater from her neck to wear it. "God, it's really cold in here." She muttered and lay down on her side in a fetal position.
Her muttering didn't escape Leon's ears. He immediately got up and walked over to her side. He knelt down in front of her and placed his palm on her forehead. A look of concern registered on his face. "Ashley, you're burning up!" Upon closer look, Ashley's face was colorless. Her eyes had dark circles around it, and her lips were pale. "Damn it!" he muttered. Could this be the Plagas kicking in?
"I'm fine, go to sleep. This will go away tomorrow. I'll just sleep it off." Ashley tried to dismiss him. She did not want to make him more worried than he already was.
Leon didn't waste time. He got up and searched for water. Luckily, there was running cold water in the kitchen, but it was running very slow. Leon took off his shirt and put it under the water. When his shirt was fully soaked, he twisted it to get rid of excess water and came back to Ashley.
He knelt down again and put the wet cloth on her forehead. She flinched. "Hopefully, this helps lower your temperature."
"Am I dying?" She asked.
"Ashley, don't talk. You're not dying."
She was visibly shivering. He could only think of one way to make warm her up. He decided to lie down next to her and held her close to his body.
"What... are you doing?" Ashley asked in confusion.
"What do you think, I'm trying to warm you up. You're shivering."
Ashley looked up at him and smiled weakly. "I'm so useless. I feel so bad for you."
Leon looked straight over her head, not meeting her eyes. "Stop talking Ashley. Preserve your energy." He ordered.
She continued talking as if he didn't hear what he said. "If I die, I just want to let you know that it's not your fault, and you really did a good job here to—"
Leon interrupted her with a warm kiss on the lips. Ashley's heart was pounding loudly, she could hear it.
When Leon pulled away, he looked straight into her eyes. Her big hazel eyes were full of questions, but she couldn't voice them out. Shit! he thought. Restrain yourself, Leon!
"You're not dying, and for the last time, stop talking."
She bit her lip and nodded eagerly, refusing to talk any further.
She buried her face on his chest and closed her eyes. She knew it would be impossible to get sleep after what happened, but she could try if she wanted to heal faster. As far as she was concerned, that kiss made her feel ten times better already.
She felt Leon kissed the top of her head. "You're not going to die while I'm here."
They only had to get through this night. Tomorrow, Leon swore he would finish Saddler and get Ashley out of that place.