"Lund! You piece of shit! Answer the goddamned phone! You'd better find a way to fix this! This is your mistake!" Chris hung up the phone from leaving a message for a dead man. Chris' angry tirade would be lost in a full voicemail box.
He settled when he noticed Nadia shriveled up on his sofa with her arms wound around her body and an empty stare fixed toward the wall. She had slipped off the World Liberation Day shirt and left it crumbled at her feet. It didn't mean anything now. She hadn't taken any notice to the state of things in his apartment. The moment she walked in through the door she made a beeline for the couch and sat there weeping silently. Any other day she may have wondered why he lived like a minimalist.
He made his way around the sofa and settled down next to her searching for words. What could he say to her?
"Are you afraid?" He asked softly, leaning forward over his knees. He got a vague nod from her.
He stared fervently at Nadia. He studied the delicate curl in her hair now tangled and untamed; the set of her mouth most assuredly her mother's; the way her brows furrowed in her concern and the odd little isms that she probably never attributed to a foreign inheritance. Possibility softened his features. Did she share his rolling tongue? His unyielding focus? A passionate temper?
Maybe he was noticing things that weren't there. She looked so much like Sheva that it was hard to find anything of his in her. He was just looking for a connection. If Nadia was his daughter, Sheva had subtracted from his life. The prospect made him tremble. The room warped a touch and threatened to spin on him but he shook his head clear. The tricodone was still calling. It nagged at him in the form of a headache. It nipped at his resistance constantly but it would have to wait.
She turned to him from over her shoulder as though his stare was tactile. She dared to offer him a smile he could not return. In her eyes, glinting from the residual of tears, he saw his own reflection. Her brown eyes didn't belong to Josh. They were his. It was no wonder he had been so drawn to her. Nadia was his daughter. The realization blew him away. He felt so light headed and so simultaneously sick that he had to turn away from her. Nadia, misinterpreting his actions, withdrew her smile. It seemed suddenly there was no genuine offering of hers moving enough to coax her uncle from this dark mood, slumped over his knees with his fingers entangled.
The front door behind them leapt open and Sheva and Josh rushed in with an agent in tow. There had been one stationed outside his door and others dotted throughout the complex much to the discomfort and inconvenience of the other tenants. Chris waved him off before he could take another step.
"Baba! Mum!" Nadia flew up and into their arms. Josh was trying to do the once over while Sheva smoothed her hair and kept asking if she was alright. Chris turned away from the reunion. He hadn't left his post at the couch until Josh made his way over to him and shook his hand firmly. Chris stood up reluctantly to meet him.
"You will want for nothing," Josh promised, squeezing his hand thankfully. He glanced over at Sheva who casually averted her eyes. He hoped his stare was burning holes in her skull.
Chris cut his eyes at Nadia. He didn't like that titular affection anymore. He deserved more. "What?"
"Could I lay down for a bit?"
He nodded and pointed down the hall to his bedroom. She started off with Sheva in tow but Chris gripped her wrist as she walked by to prohibit her from passing.
Sheva sighed, defeated, and gestured for Josh to go with her instead. In the present state of things he didn't consider he was being dismissed, although the wrist lock Chris had on Sheva did not go beyond his notice. He nodded and trailed his daughter up the hall. Sheva didn't look at Chris again until he was out of the room. His cutting glare made the grip around her wrist that much tighter. He was waiting for an explanation she didn't want to give him. When she tried to coax him off he pulled away and bullied her further into the living room for their fight to ensue.
"What did you say to me earlier, Sheva? About Nadia? You want to explain that to me?"
Sheva pleaded with her eyes for him to speak softly. She was desperate for the conversation not to escape the invisible confines of his open ended living room. "I swear I wish that came about differently but I can't say it any other way to make it more or less true."
Chris felt like she had just slapped him in the face. "Jesus Christ, Sheva, tell me you're joking! Tell me you didn't mean what you said!"
"She is your daughter. She is." The words crumbled from her trembling lips. It was as hard to admit as it was to accept. Her words melted him into the sofa. His legs felt like rubber. Those few words had drained him. He felt so weak he could barely fix his mouth to form the barrage of curses threw at her. Somehow, he managed.
The next time he opened his mouth his words were nasty and condemning. A cutting, insulting, belittling, hurtful, uncouth, unapologetic, vile stream of word vomit. Only his emotions were speaking. Every crass word sent her retreating further into herself. It was ok for Chris to hate her. Maybe she deserved it. It hurt her more than anything to see him break character just to express his sudden disdain for her and what she'd done. The character assassination threatened to topple her but she forgave every lashing word the moment it left his lips.
When he finally settled again, he was immediately remorseful. Sheva had stood there with her hands clasped, graciously weathering his lambasting with tearful eyes. He felt horrible. He was writhing in the pit of his stomach but he wouldn't apologize.
In a small voice, all she said was, "I deserved that."
Her willingness to accept his chastisement threw him into another fury. "You deserve all I hell I can give you!" He snapped.
Sheva darted her tear laden eyes to the hall to see if either of them had heard him. Chris looked over his shoulder as well. "Nadia doesn't know, does she? Does Josh?"
She shook her head. In a defeated sigh she admitted, "No."
"You know how different my life would have been if I knew I had a daughter?"
Years of suppressed guilt gushed out of her eyes. Suddenly she was impassioned to defend herself. "I tried to tell you Chris! I tried! You know how many times I picked up the phone to tell you over the years? How many times I hung up before the call would connect?"
He shot up from the couch and gripped her by the arms. "You had her whole life to tell me!"
She broke out of his grip and shoved him away. This time she didn't mind her own voice. "Because I was afraid! Afraid of how you would react. Afraid that you wouldn't want the responsibility."
Chris stiffened at the affront. "What kind of man do you think I am?" He hissed.
"A man who lives a world apart from me! I was young. I was pregnant. What hope could I have to ask you to leave your world behind and come find me? What hope could I have to leave Africa to pursue you? You're thirteen years older than I am!"
"That age difference is of little consequence to you and Josh, isn't it?" He barked, gesturing up the hall. "Your justifications are weak. None of that bullshit mattered when we got together. Stop trying to let it comfort you now. It didn't matter where in the world you were, Sheva, if you told me you were pregnant I would have gone into hell."
Sheva bit down on her bottom lip and folded her arms across her chest. Her tears were falling faster than she could catch them. Chris looked away from her.
"Do you even love Josh? Or was he just convenient?"
Shamefully, the answer was a little of both. Yes, she loved Josh. He adhered to her all the more at the revelation of her pregnancy. It was Josh's voice Nadia heard in her womb. It was his touch that moved her. It was Josh that shielded them, led them, loved them and committed to a daughter he believed was his. Her feelings for Josh were not contrived or insincere but she didn't have to explain her relationship to Chris.
"I'm telling them," he said decisively, turning toward the hall.
Panicked, Sheva gripped his arm to stop him. "No!"
He shrugged out of her grip. "You don't get to tell me 'No'! You give me back all the opportunities you took away from me, the right you denied me, the privileges you revoked and give me back the daughter I lost and maybe you get to tell me 'No'!"
Josh appeared from up the hall, startling the both of them. "What the hell are you two carrying on about?"
Sheva immediately turned away from him and quickly swept up any evidence of tears. Chris felt his face reddening. He didn't have the confidence he projected to tell Josh anything. He set his hand on his hip and pinched between his eyes to soothe the headache in his skull that was slowly turning migraine. It was then that he noticed his hands were shaking.
"Nothing," he mumbled, jamming them into his pants pockets.
Josh, unconvinced, didn't press the issue with Chris nonetheless. He nodded off at Sheva. "Nadia is asking for you."
Reluctant, Sheva dared to look at Chris to see if she could read his motives but he wouldn't even so much as pull his eyes from the floor. Her dread for leaving the two of them alone had her hesitate.
"What is wrong?" Josh insisted. This time Chris looked up at her daringly. Sheva dismissed his question with a wave and started pass him up the hall with his eyes trailing behind her. When she left the room, it was Chris who was stranded with Josh's confronting glare.
Wesker popping open his eyes sent the closing team of military personnel backing up with a start. Rising to his feet sent them scattering. Yes, the dulling sensation radiating across his body was not new. It was numbing, tingling, lashing and familiar. He had not felt nearly close to being human in over a decade but something inside of him recalled, vaguely, that pain would humble him. He didn't wait for the feeling to worsen. With blurring speed he was lost to the cover of darkness, evading the eyes in the sky and those on land as if they were standing still. Indeed they appeared that way in his eyes. As their faces morphed into confusion, he saw every shaping muscle contouring and gathering to form their expressions, every subtle effort to depress their fingers into the triggers only to shoot futilely where he once appeared. Wesker was an image, then a memory, leaving them to wonder if his presence had been conjured by their collective imaginations.
He blurred out across the street and disappeared between two buildings just as the searchlight from a helicopter whisked by. He nearly toppled himself trying to stop. His body was moving far faster than he could comprehend.
He dropped to knees, heaving, exhausted, deafened by the thudding of his heart in his ears. Some struggling part of him was remembering to be human and thusly vulnerable. He would not submit to this. As he attempted to rise, a large body threw itself at him, gnashing its teeth. The piercing jaw of a police dog had clamped down on the side of his face almost tearing his ear off. The dog he threw off easily. It thudded into the adjacent wall with a fierce whine and collapsed in a heap.
Mildly startled, Wesker touched the side of his face where a stream of dark blood trickled from his wound. The injury was still painless but he could feel the warmth of his own essence rolling down his neck. Concern met him there in the alley, until his company stirred.
The dog remained unconscious but its body contoured, writhing and struggling until the germ that infected it set the dog on its feet gingerly. Dark strands of Uroboros flooded from the dog's mouth. When it regained consciousness, it was very obvious that the loyalty and valiance to the dog's noble occupation had submitted to the infection and Wesker had his first minion. The rolling eyes of the beast glowed amber and it staggered out, twitching and snarling, ignoring a very pleased Wesker courageously rising from the ground.
As it turned out, he was noxious. The revelation enlightened him; he could infect the entire city and subsequently the nation simply by pissing in the water. But he wasn't quite so crass. He had links in the city he must destroy first.
Josh set his jaw firm. He was an astute man. If Sheva was upset, Chris was the catalyst but he wouldn't press his wife and he wouldn't question his friend. Their squabble was permissible but he fought hard to ignore Sheva's discomfort. The more he looked at Chris, silent and troubled, deliberately losing himself in the shadows of his living room, the more he retreated. Chris, on the other however, was far from intimidated. He had the power to destroy an entire family with an admission that threatened to reveal itself on its own accord. He buttoned down on his own lips, afraid that an inner voice would speak despite him. He didn't want to crush Josh or hurt Nadia. He hated this power Sheva had just given him. He wrestled with hating Sheva.
His discarded cell phone hummed furiously in the kitchen but he didn't go to it. Josh spoke first.
"I have to take Sheva and Nadia out of the city tonight," he admitted, fishing in his pockets for his own cell phone. Chris thought the notion was laughable and didn't hide his lack of faith in Josh's ill considered idea. It was coming from a simple place.
"Good luck with that," Chris scoffed. "Do you really think there's a way out of San Pierro now?"
Josh was steadfast with his decision, despite reasoning. "I have to try." Chris's cell phone went off again, disrupting the tension in the apartment. Frustrated, Chris raked his hands through his hair and started past Josh to the phone. He already knew who it was.
"Come with us," Josh pleaded.
Chris made a disbelieving face. Josh was being gracious but he couldn't appreciate it. He was in a fetid mood and Sheva was only half to blame. The longer he went without the tricodone, the more irritable he found himself. Josh's invitation came across solely as absurd.
"I can't. I have a responsibility." He snatched up his phone and glared at his missed calls. As expected, BSAA was calling him to the front lines. He continued despite already defeating Josh with his short and dismissing responses.
"It was a responsibility you used to share with me. I can't just leave when things get heated."
Josh burned with insult. Chris' words stung. It implied cowardice. Josh Stone was akin to heavy opposition. Conflict plagued his life. He was no coward. "I am still BSAA," he said firmly. "I still have responsibilities and two of them are in your bedroom with their eyes turned to me for guidance."
"If Wesker isn't stopped you can't drive far enough; you can't hide long enough. There isn't a damn place you can go to keep your family safe. I started BSAA to fight for the peace you can't give them by running away."
"I do not need you to fight for my family," Josh growled. He didn't want to fight with Chris. A moment ago he was eternally grateful for going after Nadia. Now it seemed that Chris was coaxing out a demon in him. The way Chris was stalking around in the kitchen with a subdued ferocity offered a glimpse at a demon of his own. Whatever he was struggling with lurked just beneath the surface and there was a legion of enmity antagonizing him.
The phone Josh forgot he had clenched in his hand went off just as Chris' started to hum for the third time. Josh was stunned to see the letters BSAA on his face screen. In his hand he held opportunity. He had played hero once already but that was before he was a husband and a father. He had been fighting his whole life. He fought for his family in vain when the rebels massacred his village as a child. He fought to survive as a boy soldier until he ran away from them in 1990. He fought against them when he joined the Sudanese People's Liberation Army two years later. He fought for the BSAA when the opportunity arose and by the time the incident in Kijuju washed over, he had killed so many of his brethren it made him sick. Conversely, at the time he had nothing to protect but now his priorities had shifted. Suddenly he had a reason to fight now more than ever and he wanted nothing to do with the calling. He sank down on the armrest of the couch to wrestle with indecision.
Chris now, didn't bother to look at the caller. He was so numb he felt bulletproof and he answered to blindly accept the invitation to don the uniform.
way she was living this hell again.