Disclaimer: Resident Evil and Resident Evil characters are the property of Capcom. This is nonprofit fan fiction.
At the time of writing this, Resident Evil 6 isn't out.
They were scouting the woods when a hacking fit took down Chris Redfield. Leon heard the first coughs, but when he saw Chris convulsing, he changed course quickly.
Chris' partner had heard the noise, too, and was approaching with a worried look. Leon shifted a look; the fit had passed, but Chris was collecting himself. It wouldn't be good to show weakness to his subordinate.
"Hey, Piers. I need the bag I left in the car. Can you grab if for me?" Leon called.
Piers Nivans hovered uncertainly. He looked at Chris for instructions, but Leon was blocking the view.
"It's all right. Go ahead." Chris' voice rasped slightly. He held on until Piers was out of sight; then, he leaned forward and got the rest out.
Leon stood by as Chris coughed. He tensed up when he saw blood trickle from the corner of Chris' mouth. He brushed at his own. "You've..."
"Thanks." Chris wiped his mouth. He was staring far off, but Leon got that the thanks wasn't just for the cosmetic advice. He drew breath, and the crack in his armor was gone. He was ready to move on, but Leon was scrutinizing him. "That hasn't happened before," he admitted.
"What was that?" Leon said tightly.
"All those years exposed god-knows-what chemicals, biohazards. One of them finally caught up with me. Internal organs are turning to Jell-o."
"It's a mission. We can't have anyone going at half speed." Leon's irritation was palpable.
"The difference between you and I," Chris said harshly, "is that I was always more pro than you."
Leon said nothing.
"How did you clear the health check?"
Chris looked at him long. Leon was about to chew his head off, except then it hit him. Chris saw the pieces connect. Leon's expression was distressed, but Chris gave a shadowy non-smile, and felt tension leave him.
"Look, I'm not going out of my way to finish it." Despite the rough note, Chris sounded almost gentle. "But if this turns out to be a one-way ticket, you'll let me take it and get yourself the hell out of there."
"Does Claire know?"
"Why do you think she didn't come see us off?"
Leon was tough, but he couldn't bear to look at the other man. He stared at the trees and wondered, off-handedly, if Piers had fallen in. On cue, he caught sight of him. He focused on the figure approaching.
"Kenn— Leon. Do me a favor?" Leon whipped around. His movements were more jerky than usual. "When push comes to shove, take care of the kid. He's a good kid, but he's young. He doesn't have the experience."
Leon relaxed slightly. "Young and optimistic, like we used to be."
"We were never," Chris said with a grin.
"Actually, I was. A little." For the first time, Leon smiled a little.
"No kidding." Chris tapped his knees thoughtfully and straightened like nothing had happened. "Well, I won't hold it against you."
They exchanged a look. Leon was rolling his eyes, but they almost shared a smile.
Piers caught up with them. "Is this it?"
"That's great. Thanks a lot, Piers." Leon dug into the bag, seemingly checking something, and then pulled the bag over his shoulder. It probably didn't hurt to have the extra room. Piers noticed his lukewarm interest toward his belongings, but seemed to go with it.
Chris harrumphed. "Let's go, people. We're on the clock here." He flashed a reassuring, gravelly half-grin at Piers and patted him on the back. "No time like the present."
Piers needed no further encouragement. Eyes sharp on the surroundings, a gun in his hand, he started advancing.
Had he ever been like that, fresh and willing for a fight? Chris considered giving him a head start, but quickly resolved that it probably wasn't a good idea. A little amused, Chris went to follow him, but stopped when a hand grabbed his arm. He found Leon looking back at him intently. Somewhere between the lines, he got the confirmation he had been looking for and breathed out.
"Thanks," he said heavily.
Leon gave his arm a squeeze. They started after Piers.
Reviews much appreciated. No spoilers, please. Thanks!
Kind thanks to Gypsie (Gypsie Rose) for the proofreading!
Published September 10, 2012.