Chapter 6: Sparking Flames

Claire entered the apartment upon finding the door was already unlocked when she tried opening it. 'That's strange' she thought as she closed the door behind her. She remembered locking it before leaving. Did Chris come back? Already? Chris had told her he wouldn't be back from work until tomorrow morning from the extra work load he had suddenly been given. No, he hadn't come back.

Jake must have left.

"Hey Jake?" Claire called out, hoping to hear some reply. She became a little worried when she didn't. Though she figured it was probably nothing, her past experiences have always left her more cautious than the last. Resting her hand on the edge of her gun that slept in its holster, Claire measured each step carefully as she walked through the apartment. "Please be here, please be here." She chanted quietly to herself. She looked around the living room before moving her gaze to the kitchen momentarily. They were both empty.

Down the hall she could see light from Jake's room, revealing his door was open. "Jake?" She called out hesitantly, pulling her gun from its holster and aiming it in front of her. As she slowly moved down the hall, she checked Jake's room to find it empty, and strangely messy. It had been perfectly clean hours before. The way his things were scattered throughout the room made it seem as if it were thrown in a rush. Though it was strange to her, she tiptoed down the hall to check to rest of the house. Her room was the way she had left it, messy with clothes thrown everywhere. Across from her room was her brother's room, which revealed to be empty as well.

"Where the hell did that kid go?" She mused aloud as she put her gun back in it's holster. As she walked back down the hall, contemplating whether or not she was going to make herself something to eat, she looked at Sherry's door out of habit and froze. Her door was open.

She threw the door open and was surprised at what she saw. Papers and photos were scattered all over the floor, the chair at the desk laying on its side. I'm going to kill him later, she thought to herself as she knelt down to pick up the various papers on the floor. Claire thought she had made it perfectly clear that Jake was never allowed inside Sherry's room while she was absent. Now he was never going to be allowed inside her room, period. She just prayed he didn't do anything that would give Chris an actual reason to strangle the kid, like going through her drawers and sniffing her underwear - or other creepy things like that.

When the papers were mostly picked up, she set them on Sherry's desk, picking the chair up so it sat upright. Next were the photos. She knelt down and began to pick up each photo carefully so no fingerprints smeared the image. When she stopped momentarily to look at one out of curiosity, Claire's heart stopped.

It was a photo of Jake in China.

Frantic, Claire began to check each photo in a rush, hoping they weren't what the appeared to be. Her wish was crushed when she realized they were the photos Jill and Hunnigan had given Sherry when she was given the mission involving Gregory Simmons. She rushed to pick the photos up and set them on the desk as she checked a few files that were on the desk. Her heart then dropped into her stomach when she realized they were the files on Gregory Simmons.

"Oh god." She said horrified to herself. Jake must have seen the photos. He must have read the files. He knew why Sherry wasn't back yet.

Claire yanked her phone out of her pocket and speed dialed the only person she could call at the moment for help. After two rings, someone answered.

"Valentine here." A female voice spoke into the phone.

Claire tried her best to swallow, "Jill, we have a big problem."

"Now listen carefully ladies; when you're not on the stage, you must grab yourself a tray and serve drinks to the other customers." A lady picked up a tray and demonstrated how to hold it and balance the drinks out so nothing fall or tip over.

It was the same raven-haired lady that Sherry had met the first day she had arrived. She introduced herself as Nali and she was from Japan. She was fourteen when her father had sold her into slavery and prostitution. She was now twenty five.

Nali placed several cups filled with different liquids into her tray and picked it up with one hand. She walked around and weaved her way through the web of tables, balancing the full tray with only one hand. Even though she made it look simple, it was a challenge for anyone who was doing it for the first time. Sherry was one of the few. She knew how to shoot guns that varied from all kinds, different sizes with different purposes; however balancing a tray with drinks that cost more than her bills put together was something she was not accustomed to.

Nali made her way around the room and came back with an empty tray. She had placed the drinks on different tables that were scattered throughout the room. Each table had five note cards and written on each card was a specific drink an imaginary customer had ordered. It was their job to receive the tray of drinks given to them by the bartenders working behind them and then they must find where each drink was supposed to go. Though the drinks were labeled on the glasses, Sherry knew that later they wouldn't be. This was another test.

It had been almost a week now and her encounters with Gregory Simmons hadn't helped her at all. Her first encounter, when she was rehearsing alone, revealed he was very picky when it came to women. As far as she knew, she was the only one Gregory had interacted with since arriving. The other girls who worked with her told her that no one had ever seen him since the first day. That meant he had been completely alone with her, no one else had be there. Sherry could only conclude that the man was smarter than he was letting off.

However the second encounter baffled her. When he had requested for Sherry specifically, that could only mean he had taking a liking to her. But something else bothered Sherry, something that kept nagging at the back of her mind. With the first encounter, Gregory had made sure he and Sherry were alone before approaching her; however with the second encounter, he had been surrounded by clients who had taken an interest in his business. That time they hadn't been alone. Thought Sherry knew that it was probably nothing, she couldn't drop the thought entirely.

Nali scanned the girls, pausing for a moment when her eyes fell on Sherry before moving her gaze onto the next girl. "Now that you know your task, let's see if you can follow through," She spoke. "Pick up a tray and begin the test."

Immediately, the group of girls turned around and walked towards the bar, picking up the tray handed to them.

Sherry received her tray and did her best the balance the weight out on her palm, her hand rising up to steady it when it tilted one way or the other. When she was sure it was balanced enough for her to walk, she looked forward and noticed some of the other girls had already started. Some girls chose to hold the tray with two hands, despite Nali's instruction, as they walked around the tables. Others attempted the task of using only one hand. Sherry was the only one left at the bar. She glanced to her right and noticed Nali's eyes on her, watching her with a curious look. 'Move before she gets suspicious', Sherry gritted her teeth and walked to the table closest to her. She glanced at the drinks on her tray, memorizing their names with haste before searching the tables for the correct orders.

About several minutes later, Sherry was on her last few drinks when there was a loud crash. Sherry turned quickly to see two girls on the floor, trays on the floor along with broken glasses. There was a large dark spot forming in the carpet between them. Frantic, both girls quickly began to pick up what was left of the broken glasses.

Without thinking, Sherry placed her tray on the table next to her and rushed over to the two girls, kneeling next to them. "Are you both alright?" She asked gently. The girls looked at her in surprise. Sherry was puzzled by their expressions - they seemed surprised by her gesture. She looked back and forth between them with confusion. "What?" She asked. One opened her mouth as if to say something, but she quickly closed it and moved her focus back to the broken shards of glass on the floor. Sherry looked at the other and found her doing the same. Knowing neither one was going to answer her, she began to pick up the broken pieces as well.

One of the girls reached for a large shard of glass when a shiny boot stepped into her view. All three of the girls froze, a shiver going up Sherry's spine. Though he had a large variety of shoes ,she was sure she knew who the owner of the boot was. Swallowing, Sherry slowly looked up to see Gregory Simmons looking down on them, his left brow going up in surprise at the sight before him.

Sherry saw the girl to her left shake slightly, her hand frozen over the shard.

"Well, what a mess we have here." He said loud enough for the entire room to hear. Everyone, who had been minding their business before, had their full attention on at the very spot where Gregory stood.

He looked between the three girls, eyeing each one of them in a suspicious manner. "Well," He asked. "Is anyone going to tell me what happened here?" No one dared to speak.

He turned his gaze towards Nali, who sat quietly at the bar on a leather stool, her legs crossed. "Nali," He ordered. "Perhaps you would shed some light on the matter?"

Sherry saw Nali go tense, her jaw clenched tightly. Seconds ticked by before she spoke, "A simple mistake really. Some of the girls are prone to cause accidents." Sherry felt a piece of relief. At least she wasn't ratting them out directly. No one would receive blame for this. Nodding at her words, Gregory turned his attention back to the three girls. Looking over at Sherry and the girl to her right, he nodded at both of them, "You two get back to work." Sherry nodded, rising to her feet. She had to help the girl next to her. She seemed to have some trouble standing at the moment. When the girl was standing on her own, she leaned down and picked up her tray, placing it in the girls arms before making eye contact with Gregory. His gaze bore into hers, making her want to flinch.

Sherry turned away before he could say anything and walked towards the table where her tray rested. She took five steps away when a glass shattering scream erupted behind her.

She whirled around and felt a gasp escape her lips.

Gregory had stomped on the hand of the girl still kneeling at his feet, the glass shard embedded in the flesh of her hand. She stared in horror as the blood began to seep from her palm and running onto the carpet. Sherry felt like screaming at the man. Ordering him to release the poor girl's hand but the words seemed stuck in her throat. Her feet rooted to the spot, even though she wanted so badly to move them. After what felt like minutes - though it was really seconds - Gregory lifted his foot of the girl's hand and watched in amusement as she clutched it painfully to her chest. The girl continued to sob as he stared down at her.

The other girl whom Gregory had dismissed, moved over and knelt down next to the injured girl with a napkin in hand. She reached for the girl's bleeding hand, saying words of assurance to convince her to let her help. Sherry desperately tried to find the names to match the face. The girl with the injured hand had a messy head of orange-red hair which had been recently cut above her ears. Though the style itself was strange, it suited her tall, slender form. Her eyes were brown with flecks of bronze, making her eyes seem entirely different under the lights. The other girl who was helping her had blonde hair like Sherry's; although hers was lengthy that it reached well past her shoulders. Her eyes were of pretty emerald green that seemed to stand out against her pale white skin. She was shorter than most, a little shorter than Sherry.

What were their names again?

Gregory watched with curiosity at the two girls huddled together on the floor at his feet. The girl with orange hair cried out in agony as the pale blonde girl pulled the majority of glass from her flesh. When most of the glasses was out of her palm, she pushed the napkin into her hand, and forced her to squeeze the napkin against the bloody wound. Despite the pain, the sobbing girl did as she was told and closed her fingers around the napkin, fighting the urges to scream out loud.

The blonde girl rose to her feet and turned to Gregory, "She needs a doctor immediately or she will lose all feeling in her hand." She informed him.

Gregory Simmons blinked at the girl as if she spoke in a foreign language. His head tilted forward and he clasped his hands behind his back, "I'm sorry, what? Can you just repeat what you'd said?"

The girl made a noise of frustration and said, "She needs a doctor!" Her voice was slightly louder, making a few people flinch. Sherry could tell that was a grave mistake.

Gregory stared at the girl before turning his head in the direction of Nali, who remained in her seat unmoving, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. "Did you hear that Nali?" He asked, taking a few steps in her direction and passing the girl. "She said: she needs a doctor." After a few seconds of silence, Gregory burst into a fit of laughter, slightly bent over with an arm across his stomach as if the action hurt. A few seconds ticked by when he finally straightened and turned in a full circle, repeating the statement louder to the rest of the employees, "She said she needs a doctor!" He fell into a hysterical laughter once again, gesturing for everyone else to join him.

Laughter could now be heard all over the room, some serious and others nervous. Sherry on the other hand could only stand and stare at the insane man, thinking that only a truly sick-minded person could be laughing at the situation. - in which Gregory Simmons was now. A girl could that could possibly lose her hand if she didn't get any help... and he was laughing at that?

When the laughter died down, Gregory pretended to wipe a tear away before turning back to the blonde woman, but something was different. Though his posture was the same, his expression contorted into something different. Something that felt vaguely familiar to Sherry.

Without warning, Gregory pulled a gun from the waistband of his pants, causing everyone to freeze. A scream was lodged in Sherry's throat when she remembered. The last time he had the same expression he wore now, a girl was killed on the spot.

The blonde girl went rigid, a look of fear plastered on her face. Gregory smirked and took a step forward. In response, the girl stepped back and whimpered in fear.

"Why waste time?"

Sherry felt herself scream for her to run, but she never get to finish her sentence. A gunshot rang out and the blonde girl collapsed. A bullet hole made obvious in the middle of her forehead.

The orange hair girl shrieked.

Another gunshot.

Two bodies now lay on the floor, their faces a foot apart from each other. Blood soaked the carpet beneath and began to form a dark circle around them.

They were dead.

Gregory returned his gun to its proper place and straightened his jacket, flipping the collar of his shirt up. He smiled at the sight of the dead women before turning to Nali, who wore a grim expression instead. "Sorry," He merely said. "But I couldn't help myself."

Sherry felt a strong wave of nausea overtake her system, but she forced herself to ignore it. She had seen the undead eat people alive, she had seen mutations so horrid the person didn't even look human anymore, but innocent lives taken for the amusement of others gave her a feeling worse than the horrors she knew. The fact that some societies were like this around the world made Sherry think that the human race was more corrupted than she believed.

Nali refused a reply; she just stared at Gregory with a look of disgust. Gregory ignored her expression and glanced at Sherry; upon seeing her horrified expression, he gave her a wink. "Don't worry," He cooed. "You get to live; you're my new favorite."

His statement only made her feel worse.

Jake popped the clutch as soon as the light turned green. The tires screeched against the asphalt, creating a small cloud of smoke before the bike took off like a rocket. The hot air around Jake felt like multiple tingles against the skin of his face as his speed increased. He passed any car going slower than himself. He didn't care about the speed limit, he didn't care about the police that were nearby. He even ignored the angry shouts of the drivers he would pass by.

The only thing going through his head at this point was Sherry and the damned Chris Redfield. What the hell was he thinking? Letting her go off on a mission like that? He knew how Sherry had felt about her previous guardian Derek Simmons - the hurt and the betrayal - so if she was on a mission involving Simmons younger sibling he knew it spelled trouble. Derek Simmons had turned out to be a psychotic bastard who used Sherry without her knowledge. Not to mention on how he released the virus to the entire city just to kill the President.

When Sherry had returned to America, Kennedy had informed her of all the crimes Simmons had committed; like the incident of Tall Oaks. When Sherry had relayed the information to him, Jake wondered why she had even bothered to return to the states at all. He sure as hell wouldn't have.

The ride took Jake out of the bustling city and into a small clearing. Right in the middle was a large building that stretched across most of the open land. Part of the building was made completely of glass while the other half was concrete painted a dark green. It was the DSO Headquarters. Though he knew there were agencies spread out in other states, Leon had told him this was the largest agency out of all of them.

A thought suddenly ran through Jake's mind. What if Leon had something to do with it? The man was practically Sherry's father figure, so he could convince her to do almost anything - including the mission that sent her back to China. Jake's anger only further increased as he sped up, coming closer and closer to his destination. Chris had mentioned to him before about a meeting he was required to attend as a BSAA representative at the DSO involving the recent outbreaks in China and Europe. Though a vaccine was created, apparently incidents like in China - only smaller - had kept occurring over the past year. Ever since Jake had parted ways with Sherry.

The DSO didn't have a security, but they did have security at the front door.

Jake rode his bike through the parking lot and straight onto the curb near the front entrance. He pulled the key out of the ignition and kicked the stand out angrily. He made sure the bike could stand on its own before completely getting off.

He stormed over to the front down, trying to think of a quick explanation to say to the guards. Though it was his profession, Jake was not in the mood to break necks. Well, at least not THEIR necks. He slowed his pace as he got closer, noticing the two guards were the same ones when he had last came. Hopefully they would recognize him.

They immediately noticed Jake's presence, as well as the spark of recognition in his eyes; they remembered him alright. He went to walk past them, but one of them put his arm out in front of Jake. Nostrils flaring, Jake turned his head slowly towards the owner of the arm, his gaze hard.

"Your ID?" He asked, his eyes scanning Jake's chest for an ID card, but Jake obviously didn't have one. 'Play it cool and keep you head on', Jake breathed. "I'm a friend of Leon Kennedy. I have an appointment with him." It was the truth, he did have an appointment with the agent, only that it would take place in the next few hours.

The other guard to Jake's left held a medium-sized touch screen. He scrolled down before pausing, "You're Jake Muller?" The guard asked. Jake turned his head to the other guard and realized he wasn't the same one from yesterday, he just looked very similar. That didn't bode well, yet Jake nodded at the guard's question.

The man's brow furrowed in confusion, "Your meeting with Agent Kennedy isn't for another two hours." Jake shrugged, "He told me to come early." It was the easiest lie he could come up with. But it failed when the guard shook his head, "I'm sorry sir, we weren't given any notice of your early arrival so we can't let you in. Besides, Agent Kennedy is in a meeting right now."

Jake's patience was running extremely thin. He fists were clenched tightly at his sides as he forced himself not to act on a whim.

"Didn't you hear? You'll have to come back later." The other guard said firmly, pushing Jake back a few inches. Jake stared down at the man's hand that was on his chest as if it were a foreign object. An object he could easily break. It wouldn't take too much force, all it would take is a little push and...

"There you are!" A female voice shouted behind him. Jake turned around to see a small figure rushing towards him and the guards, in her arms was a mountain stack of papers. When she was only a few feet from the trio, her head popped out from one corner of the paper mountain. It was that same female agent who had helped Jake locate Sherry's office. It was Sarah, her green eyes were alive with energy. She threw the pile of papers into Jake's arms and stretched. The three men waited for her to explain her presence when she placed her hands on her hips, her attention directed to Jake. "You should have text me that you were coming early, I would have driven faster." Said Sarah, tilting her head to the side. Not knowing how to respond, Jake merely shrugged.

Sarah shook her head and sighed. "What am I going to do with you?" Moving her attention from Jake to the guards, Sarah grinned. "Hello Bobby." She greeted, giving him a small wave. The guard who had stopped Jake before gave her a simple nod, "Afternoon Sarah." Stepping around Jake's still form, Sarah addressed the second guard holding the touch screen. "I'm Agent Linolae; I'm here to deliver some papers for the meeting with the BSAA and to Director Hunnigan." It became quiet as the guard checked the tablet, scrolling down until he found Sarah Linolae's name. He nodded, "You're free to pass." Sarah nodded and walked past them towards the door but turned and signaled for Jake to follow. He hesitated, unsure whether or not the other guards were going to try and detain him again, but when neither guard made any move to stop him he followed after Sarah.

Sarah retrieved her ID from the chest pocket on her shirt and slid it through a card processor with a keypad. She didn't bother entering the code. The doors slid open and she walked forward and weaved her way through the desks towards the elevator with Jake following close behind her. Though Sarah was relaxed, Jake was extremely tense. Entering DSO Headquarters had a different effect on him if he wasn't with someone he knew better than he did Sarah. He didn't know if someone was going to start a random riot or if he would be tackled. Jake knew that there was no reason to be so paranoid but he had only visited the place once, and it was still a foreign territory to him.

They entered the elevator, the doors closing before anyone else could join them. They stood in silence while Jake adjusted the stack of papers in his hands. "Sorry about that." Sarah mumbled, her face turning a light pink from embarrassment. Jake shook his head slightly, "It's fine. You saved the guards of some broken bones." Sarah thought he might have been joking, but the look in his eyes told her he was serious.

"You're looking for Agent Kennedy, correct?" Sarah asked, fiddling with her thumbs. Jake simply nodded, not wanting to bother explaining why. Sarah pressed one button but pressed another above the first. Seconds later, the elevator came to a stop and opened its doors, revealing an empty hallway. Sarah quickly took the stack of papers from Jake's arms and exited, but stopped for a moment, "The meeting is taking place on the floor above you. The room had glass windows and a hologram table. You can't miss it." Before Jake could even say any words of thanks, the doors closed.

Leaning back against the walls of the elevator, he tried to calm down enough to think of a plan. How would he approach this? He knew the situation couldn't be more delicate than he planned for, yet at the same time Jake didn't really do 'delicate'. All he imagined was storming into the meeting, removing any obstacles in his way, and demanding answers. A scene played out in Jake's head as the elevator rose to the next floor; grabbing Redfield by the collar and throwing him onto a table sounded nice. His fingers twitched with the anticipation. Yet, Kennedy was supposed to be there, so he had to think of how to deal with him as well. He needed to know if Kennedy knew about Sherry's current mission in the first place. When he had asked him about it at the firing range, the man seemed genuinely confused at his question. Jake couldn't rule out the possibility that the man was faking it either.

The elevator stopped and the doors slid open, revealing a busy hallway with people walking back and forth; some in a rush while others were on the phone as they moved. Jake didn't recognize a single one of them. He hesitantly stepped out into the hallway, looking both ways. To his left was a maze of cubicles, and he could tell he wasn't supposed to go that way. But looking to his right he saw the hallway continued down a bit before opening up to the left side. He knew without a doubt that was the way he was to proceed.

He strode down the hall, his steps large with haste. The floor was made of dark green fabric that hushed his feet as he walked, the walls a dull gray that made the lighting seem brighter than it really was. He had to find him, he NEEDED to find Redfield. Every second that passed made Jake's stomach drop with worry. Sherry was back in China. Alone. No back up. No partner. From what he read, it was a solo mission that was specifically for Sherry.

He came to a stop at the end of the hallway and turned left. His eye's widened in surprise. He now faced what looked like the heart of the DSO.

Desks were placed at random parts in the room, spaciously far apart from each other. In the dead center was a large hologram of the entire planet, spinning slowly in place, glowing in neon green. Surrounding it was a circle of desks, an agent at each one. Most of them had headsets on and were talking at a fast pace while the rest were to work on their computers. People were walking all over the room, some taking their time while others were practically running to get from point A to point B.

Jake looked around and saw in the back corner to the right of the room was what seemed to be a large glass case. People were walking around a brightly lit hologram table that was showing the layout of some country Jake didn't know.

He easily spotted Kennedy, who held a pointer of some kind and was marking spots on the hologram. And right next to him was the person Jake was searching for.

Chris Redfield.

Any prior plans Jake had formed were now thrown out the window and now replaced with pure, blinding rage. Redfield was dead. Jake was going to get some answers, no matter what it took. He'd break bones as long as Redfield gave in and told him what he wanted to know.

He stormed across the room, pushing past any person that got in his path. He shoved one man so hard he fell forward, papers flying everywhere.

This small act caused somewhat of a commotion. Hearing a few shouts, Leon looked up and saw an angry Jake Muller walking in his direction. Leon's brow rose up in pure surprise. What was Muller doing here? Last time he had seen Jake was yesterday when he brought him back to Chris's apartment from DSO. What was he doing here now? How did he even get past security? Next to him, Chris noticed Leon had gone silent and looked up to see a shocked Leon, something he didn't see much. "Leon, everything alright?" He asked. When Leon didn't answer right away, Chris tried to follow his line of gaze and saw Jake rushing towards them in a rage. "The hell?" Chris said loud enough for Leon to hear.

Jake was only a few yards away when a hand grabbed his left shoulder, pulling him back and forcing him to turn around. Jake growled and came face to face with a blonde woman he had never met before. She wore a white blouse with the waistline tucked into a pair of black slacks, the bottoms covering her heeled feet. Though she seemed composed, Jake could sense a feeling of franticness. She looked like she had been running.

"Jake Muller?" She asked, her grip loosening on his shoulder. Wrenching himself away from the woman, Jake snarled, "I don't have time for this!" He turned and went to storm away, but she quickly grabbed his wrist before he could take five steps. He turned around to yell at her when she quickly said, "I know why your here!"

Jake froze, his eye's widening slightly. Seeing him pause to listen, the woman sighed in relief. At least she wasn't going to have to case him down. "You're here for Sherry, am I right?" She asked, raising her left brow.

She had recognized Jake a mile away when he had first entered the room, Chris had asked her to wait outside the meeting room until he was finished before filling her in. She was grateful that she did as told. Claire's frantic call nearly sent her into a panic, but the redhead knew Jake would be coming to DSO, looking for Chris. She knew that he wanted to know where Sherry was since Claire had informed her that was all he was whining about ever since arriving.

Jake nodded slowly in response, waiting for the woman in front of him to elaborate. She hesitated, not knowing if she was doing the right thing. This was a big risk; letting him in on the details of what was going on, but she knew that if she didn't tell him, Jake would go straight to Chris instead - one of the few people who had no idea what Sherry was up to. And she wanted to avoid the BSAA veteran getting involved if any at all. Chris didn't need to know about this. Neither did Kennedy.

"What's your name?" Jake suddenly asked, catching her a little off guard. She released his hand and straightened her back, "Jill Valentine; BSAA operative."

Jake didn't say anything back; his own introductions was not needed - after all, she already knew who he was.

"If you want to know about Birkin's whereabouts," She paused. "Then you must come with me. We will explain everything." And when Jake didn't say anything, Jill knew it was okay for her to walk away; knowing fully well that Jake would follow.

Jake trailed behind her retreating form for a minute before asking, "We?"

Hey guys! Sorry this took SOOOO long! I was having some trouble seeing as my editor has been really busy, so I decided to give her a break and look for a new editor in the time being. So if you really wanna thank someone, thank CK-Ace who took the time to edit this chapter so it could be posted!

Not to mention I have been preparing for Finals so homework was a nightmare!

Thank you for sticking around and any new fans reading this: Favorite, Follow, and Review! I promise you won't regret it!