Chapter Title: Pain So Familiar
Series/Disclaimer: I don't own Resident Evil. I just like to pretend I can write fanfiction about it.
Pairing(s): Albert Wesker/Chris Redfield
Story Theme: Without You - Breaking Benjamin
Beta: My partner in crime, palinka_femme
Summary: Hunting Albert Wesker was as natural as breathing for Chris - but maybe his reasons for such a relentless pursuit aren't as simple as he likes to think.
Author's Notes: Again, I'd like to thank everyone for their encouraging reviews and my beloved beta for all her help. This fanfiction really wouldn't have made it far without her to encourage and make angry faces at me. Not to mention listen to me rant and fangirl while simultaneously taking an interest in it!
Not much to say for this one. It's shorter and I think has a bit more going on in it in terms of where the plot is supposed to go, so hopefully you guys can start to see Wesker's intentions develop a little more here. Enjoy~!
- x - x - x -
The room was like an upgraded version of the one that he had woken up in a few days ago, though admittedly not by much. His bed was a little bit bigger and the mattress was more comfortable – it also came with blankets that looked like they were purchased from an actual store as opposed to some ancient prison movie. There was a dresser and he was as surprised to find clothes in the drawers. Then again, he'd been equally surprised to find clothes waiting for him when he checked out the bathroom circled on his map too. It was strange on multiple accounts because the clothes weren't just a general guess at his sweat-pant size but pants and shirts that were actually similar to what he had at home. While this mystery in particular wasn't one of the bigger ones, it still added another level to the creepy factor.
He tried the door after Wesker left just to discover that it was locked tight, increasing his blood pressure and making him want to put a hole through something. There was a keypad beside the door but when he entered the number he now had committed to memory, the word "DENIED" flashed silently across the screen along with a digital clock that seemed to be counting down from sixty. He frowned at the realization that Wesker had pretty much just put him in time out.
He slid a hand up through short, brunet strands before fisting it and slamming the door, "Dammit!"
When the door didn't give way out of pure awe at his frustration-enhanced strength, he opted to turn on the lamp on the bedside table and take a seat – it wasn't like he had anywhere else he could be. At least not for the next hour. Exhaling a long breath, his palms fell to his thighs, lightly at first before squeezing a bit as if that would help to ease some of the tension that kept his muscles tight. He'd never really bothered with deep breath exercises or finding a happy place. Truthfully, in his line of work, happy places were dangerous because they meant letting one's guard down, and it wasn't something a BSAA operative could afford to do. But for the next, he glanced at the pad, fifty-five minutes he didn't have anything better to do than try to relax.
He dug his elbows into his thighs, leaning forward to hang his head and stare at the floor for a few long seconds before his eyes just fell closed. His mental state was pulled into a million different directions, not all of which pertained to Wesker's still shady plans for him. The most noticeable was if Jill really thought he was dead and how she'd break it to Claire. Just thinking about his little sister's reaction his death made his chest tighten and he struggled to shake the thought from his head. She was as tough as she was a Redfield, she knew that his job meant risking more than his free time and should have been prepared for the idea of him never coming home. But being prepared for something then actually facing it were totally different. He'd been prepared for Jill to die too, but when she and Wesker disappeared out that window it was a whole new can of worms.
At this point he'd kill to just let them know that he was alive, not okay, but at least that he wasn't dead. Somehow, though, the idea of getting the chance to do that just made it even worse. They'd want to come after him, to save him, and he didn't even know where he was. Not only that, but there wasn't any guarantee he'd make it through this. It could have only been worse to let them know he didn't die in a volcano, just to discover he'd died in a way ten times worse at the hands of Wesker without interference. He wasn't resigning to his fate, but maybe for now it was better if they just thought he was dead. At least then, if he didn't come back, they wouldn't have been expecting him to in the first place and wouldn't have thrown themselves into danger trying to help.
The train of thought was like a track, leading him back to where he'd started with the biggest question hanging over his head – why was Wesker keeping him alive? Taking into account the brief conversation and upgraded room, he was betting it wasn't for experiments, or, at the very least, not of the B.O.W variety. After all, none of the bio-organic weapons he'd encountered so far seemed to care much about comfortable mattresses or clothes that fit. Whatever Wesker was planning was much bigger than turning him into the next generation of black market weapon, and Chris wasn't sure how to take the thought.
"Even when things are looking up they're still shit," he mumbled, rubbing his thumb and pointer finger as deep into the edges of his eyes as he could without hurting himself. Eventually he fell back onto the bed; stretching his arms out to either side of himself and feeling some muscles stretch in his back before tucking his hands under his head. The ceiling wasn't very interesting, but it seemed like as good a place as any to play back his conversation with Wesker.
It had been right after he said he hated Umbrella and bio-terrorism when they had that momentary lapse of silence. Thinking back on it made the moment even stranger than it had when it was happening, but at least now he had an explanation for it. Wesker had been considering something in what he'd said, but what that was hung just outside Chris's realm of ideas. By now Wesker would have already known he was on the forefront of the fight against bio-weapons, and hearing him verbally admit that he hated it shouldn't have been surprising either. It wasn't like it came up much, outright saying his position, but there was no way Wesker would have taken gratification in anything so vague.
He frowned and shut his eyes, trying to remember what exactly he had said. The insult about his egomania couldn't have been it; revelations for people like Wesker usually didn't come from insults. Besides, the inhuman didn't consider himself stuck in delusions of grandeur anyway so why would he have cared? It must have been something else, something after that, but the only thing left was the hatred. None of it should have been relevant. What the hell kind of 'breakthrough' could he have—
"…because I hate him?"
The ceiling was the same when he opened his eyes again, but his mind was an entirely different place. Between the insult and the remarks about bioterrorism, the only other thing he'd said was that he chased Wesker because he hated him. But that wasn't a breakthrough at all, it was common knowledge. Who wouldn't hate someone that was trying to destroy the planet and billions of lives in the process besides, maybe, someone just as crazy as Wesker himself? Anyone with any sanity or sense would have hated him, would have chased him and tried to stop him just as relentlessly as he had. Jill had been right alongside him throughout those years for the same reasons – to put an end to his insanity.
There was no way such an obvious thing could have been a breakthrough, not when it was out there in the open like that. It wasn't even like he'd stated it in a particularly vague way! He told him that he hated him the same way he hated everyone else that was out to kill people in such horrendous ways. Chris had seen the bad sides of biogenetic warfare, had seen people suffer and die just to come back as monsters or worse. Every time he doubted that he was on the right path he just remembered their faces, whether he wanted to or not, and the feeling of putting bullets in the heads of things that had been people once. Bio-terrorism, people like Wesker, did that – and he hated them with every breath for it.
But he wasn't the only one. There wasn't a special case to be made out of him for that. So, like a track, he was back where he started – with no real answers at all.
- x - x - x -
After the hour was up, the door opened without needing his key code, which would have been great except that it startled him out of a thought and he nearly fell off the bed. It seemed unlikely that it was rigged to crush him, so he trekked out into the hallway carefully, peering around the corner to make sure no B. were sneaking around. The corridors on the upper levels were a little nicer than the one he'd woken up in, if for no other reason than because they weren't lined with holding cells. There were a few doors visible down the hallway, before it made a sharp curve to the left and went who knew where. With the map in hand and no immediate danger in sight, Chris set out to try to get a better grip on where he was being kept.
He'd spent a good chunk of his life making his way through research facilities, which made him confident in the bet that this place was one. There wasn't much life to it, for starters, the walls were all gray and cold and the floors were concrete. After so many years he began to doubt that scientists noticed much outside of their work and gave up on the idea of finding anything otherwise interesting. Only five minutes of wandering his new living space and he was getting bored at the lack of personality, but he was used to necessity outweighing personal preference. The sort of annoying thing was that research facilities always seemed to have the layout of mazes, just like the ones cartoon scientists sent rats through to find cheese. Chris was starting to get that feeling all over again, especially because he had no satisfaction in knowing there was any "cheese" at the end.
Many of the doors didn't open for his code and that lead him to believe that Wesker's offered freedom was unsurprisingly limited. Every time one flashed the "DENIED" word at him he wondered if that was another way out that had been blocked off or if there was just something the tyrant didn't want him to see. The map he'd been given didn't seem to have any exits labeled or even visible, all the lines indicating solid wall after solid wall. Seeing as Umbrella favored underground workplaces, he was willing to bet that the only way out was the elevator. Chris was ready to give that a shot before he remembered that there was no button for any floor higher than his current one. There was, however, a key pad and a place for a card-key to be swiped. He gave himself three guesses as to who had the key and the first two didn't count.
At the very least, Wesker still kept his plans practically air-tight – looked like neither of them had changed that much. The thought, though depressing given his circumstances, was actually somewhat comforting when he recalled that he had a pretty good track record of messing up those plans. A slight, pleased smile quirked on his so far serious expression and he punched in his code to another door. When it actually opened, however, he was somewhat surprised and immediately dove to the side as an automatic reaction. Nothing was there, but he could still feel his heart practically hammering in his chest and it took a few seconds to get it under control. He pushed thoughts of how stupid it was to be startled by a door opening out of his mind and inched closer to peer inside.
It looked to be another lounge, though it was different from the one that the map had circled on it. The other one was mostly bare with a few couches and tables in it – though the carpet and color made Chris decide he'd spend time in it when he found it again. This one had couches and carpet as well, but the major difference was the large television on one of the walls. It was an older model and not a flat screen, which was more common in the "outside world" today, but looked intact. A quick scan around the room and his attention landed on a remote control lying on the table centered between a group three couches. For some reason he felt the faint tension of excitement in his limbs, though he couldn't place why considering that a television couldn't be used for communication and he rarely watched anything on his own anyway. Maybe it was just the prospect of confirming that the world hadn't secretly ended and Wesker just wasn't telling him. As he turned the television on, he acknowledged that he wasn't sure what he had been expecting to hear or see when he did it – but he did know he hadn't been expecting his name.
"…Redfield. Mr. Redfield is succeeded by his younger sister, Claire, an operative with the anti-bioterrorism group, Terrasave. In light of her brother's recent death in Africa, Claire has opted not to make a comment at this time while she meets with—"
He wasn't sure what startled him more; the T.V nearly exploding with sparks all of the sudden or the sound of a gunshot. Like much of his other programmed training, he hit his knees before he knew why he was doing it and reached for his sidearm before remembering he didn't have one. He lifted his head enough to catch the last dying sparks emitting from the cracked screen out of the corner of his eye before he turned. Confusion, not surprise, flooded his mind to see Wesker standing in the doorway holstering his gun. A flush of humiliation ran through him all of the sudden, even though the other didn't seem to be amused at all by his reaction. If anything he looked slightly annoyed, and Chris was ready to shout all kinds of questions at him but Wesker beat him to the punch.
"Must have forgotten one," he murmured, not quite moving into the room yet still having the air that he owned it. His arms crossed and his weight shifted to his hip, Chris hadn't even realized that Wesker wasn't looking at him until his head cocked slightly. "I am giving you my undivided attention, Chris, I expect no less than the same in return."
"One problem," Chris snarled as he pushed himself to his feet, "You actually want to give me your attention, for one obscure reason or another. I can't say I return the sentiment."
It was frustrating how easily he could decide that and what made it ten times worse was that he was right. Whether or not Chris wanted to deal with Wesker, he didn't have much of a choice. Even staying in his room wasn't much of an option because he was fairly certain the tyrant had it bugged and watched him anyway. The only thing staying in his room meant was that it would be much easier to find him. Though, with that thought, he was suddenly curious as to how Wesker had gotten here so fast.
"Where did you come from? I was just in that hallway."
"You seem surprised."
"Is it impossible for you to just answer a goddamned question?"
Wesker's thin lips quirked slightly in amusement. "No."
Suddenly, Chris was inexplicably angry. He didn't know where it came from or why, though feeling or doing something without thought behind it was a rather common occurrence when he had to deal with Wesker. On some level, he supposed, it always had been. The other man had this irritating gift for getting under his skin and, it would seem, he did it without intention. It was as if his very existence was just there to be a bother. He could recall the same things happening as far back as their S.T.A.R.S days, where his former-captain would say or do something that just made every nerve in his body pay attention. Sometimes, when the frustration had faded away, he realized that it was less anger and more the type of anxiousness that came from not understanding things. He abhorred not being able to understand Albert Wesker.
But those days were passed and he didn't have to understand Wesker anymore, he just had to kill him.
"Why did you shoot the television, then?"
The motion of Wesker's head was almost like a flicker, glancing towards the television before becoming bored with it and looking down the hallway. "Because outside influence will be hindering."
"Hindering to what?"
"It doesn't matter how you phrase the question, I am not going to lay my plans bare for you. Or did you really expect me to fall for such a juvenile, verbal trick?"
Chris ground his teeth together because some part of him had been hoping that Wesker would fall for it and now he just felt like a disappointed idiot.
The tyrant stepped aside when he started towards him, their otherwise hostile relationship covered by a very thin layer of docility from the former agent. Internally he'd succumbed to the fact he couldn't take Wesker when he was armed, much less hand to hand combat. His attentive blue gaze flicked towards the other's holster with brief consideration to try and snag one of the guns but it was quickly released. Wesker wasn't attacking him and it seemed like a more dangerous than usual idea to provoke him if he could just walk away from the entire situation right now. His job and determination took a certain level of blind bravery, but a good agent knew when to call it quits and, considering how long he'd survived, Chris considered himself pretty decent.
He was halfway to gone when he realized that footsteps were following him, and a glance over his shoulder confirmed that Wesker was headed in the same direction he was. He frowned slightly and paused, but Wesker continued right past him with no interest. Chris looked over his shoulder, considering going in the opposite way just to be difficult, but that would imply that Wesker cared at all where he was walking. Judging by the lack of even a glance in his direction, the brunet was fairly certain that their short exchange was more than enough for him. Like a child backed into a corner with the realization they couldn't get home without their parent, he shuffled after him. At the very least he could go back and forth between disinterest and glaring at the back of Wesker's head.
"Why aren't we at each other's throat right now?" He finally asked, deciding that anything was better than the silence that was growing between them. It was similar to making conversation when one realized they were going to be in an elevator with someone for a while – except that he was less interested in making idle chatter and more determined to find a question that Wesker would actually answer.
"We fight when you interrupt my plans and insist on being in my way, typically due to your infatuation with shooting at me." Wesker explained, his tone unusually flat compared to their more recent conversations that usually involved a lot of passionate banter. It was strange in its vague familiarity – it'd been nearly eleven years now since Wesker just explained something to him so simply. He wasn't sure he liked it. "And now, you don't have the option of being such an inconvenience."
"It's natural to shoot at something that's trying to kill me. Most people call it 'survival instinct.'"
He chuckled. "You have the tendency to shoot well before I'm attempting to do you any harm."
Chris's hands tightened at his sides, finding a vague comfort in the formation of his fists and his fingers digging into his palm. "Our history doesn't exactly lead me to believe you want a fucking conversation, Wesker. But if you do, you can start by telling me what the hell the point in all of this is and why you went through all the trouble of faking my death."
"In due time, Christopher."
Wesker turned into an open doorway but Chris came to a jarring halt at the sound of his full name spoken in such a memorable tone. His eyes didn't widen and he didn't feel short of breath, but it a brilliant sort of ache spread across his chest from an undetermined focal point. It was misplaced and unexpected, the type of thought or feeling that made one stare off into nowhere without knowing why they were doing it. Within seconds he had it under control, shoving it off to the side to bury it under the nearest rock of resolve, and was walking again. But it was very similar to seeing something – even though he pushed it aside and ignored it, he could never un -feel it.
He frowned a little bit, digging two of his fingers into the space between his pectorals as he headed down the hallway, making a half-assed observation that the room Wesker had walked into was the kitchen. Though the beginnings of hunger had begun tugging at his insides, the idea of eating had evaporated in the wake of whatever it was that had occurred when Wesker said his name. His fingertips' pressure quickly ran into the solid wall of his sternum and he felt a light twinge of pain before he dropped his hand back to his side. There wasn't some organ or muscle in him that he could pluck out and examine to make sense of it. While the idea of not being able to forget it wasn't so bad, it might have been easier to deal with if he at least knew where it had come from in the first place.
- x - x - x -
The situation didn't improve much from there, despite the fact that he hadn't seen much of Wesker afterwards. It seemed to be a pattern, that they would have confrontations then just stay apart for a few days afterwards. Normally, that wouldn't have bothered Chris much at all because the less Wesker in his life, inevitably the better his life was. However, the echoing, dead hallways of the facility left a certain desire for company – even if it was that of the insane tyrant. This didn't lead to actively seeking him out, of course, but he did wander out of his room even after establishing a mental map of the place. Considering that he couldn't go through many of the doors, it wasn't exactly difficult.
Most of his time was spent in the lounge that had been circled on his map – particularly after discovering that the one with the now broken television in it had been blocked off. There wasn't a lot to do, but it did have a few magazines spread across the table that he'd flip through. The articles weren't interesting and didn't hold his attention for long, but he gave himself credit for the effort. More than anything he had spent the past several days – he estimated about four – trying to get the strange feeling from their last encounter out of his mind. Though it had certainly left his body, he felt as close to normal as before, there was an irritating nagging at the back of his mind for the sheer fact that he couldn't label what it had been.
As he tossed another magazine back onto the table he ground his teeth together in irritation. Wesker had probably planned for that awkward almost nostalgic feeling to happen just so Chris could sit there and drive himself crazy over it until eventually he snapped and demanded an answer. Even then, it wouldn't have made much of a difference because even if he could find the tyrant, there was no way he was going to give up the reason. Not when it had to be so much fun watching him fidget and lose sleep over it from the shadows. But even then it didn't seem like Wesker's style, even if he had been expecting that reaction then there had to have been a reason for it. Even when he was indulging in his favorite hobby of spiting Chris, there was usually a purpose behind it.
Realizing that he was back where he started, not knowing what the hell was going on, he exhaled his frustration in a long sigh and stood up. The entire situation was beginning to make him restless, and not just because he was confined to a facility that was almost entirely off-limits. He was beginning to feel too domestic here and, as stupid as it sounded even in his own mind, too safe. While he did have an apartment and required time off, he had become so used to rushing off to missions or doing something besides just waking up and having the day to do nothing but relax. Looking back on it, much of his life had functioned the same way and now he just didn't know what to do with himself. Truthfully, it left him with far too much time to just think.
The hallway was quiet as he headed back towards his room, enabling him to hear the material of his outfit rustling and shifting as he moved. If he were a less controlled person he probably would have screamed just to hear it echo back to him, anything to fill the total silence and lifelessness of the facility. Had he been on a mission, the silence would have been ideal for hearing any threats sneaking up on him, but from what he could tell there either weren't any B. here or Wesker had them locked up tight. His thoughts trailed back to the one that he had seen in his room during his first night after waking up here, frowning slightly. No B.O.W that he'd encountered had just been able to vanish like that, but the stubborn majority of his brain refused to believe he'd been hallucinating it. He didn't have a mental problem, despite the way everyone else seemed to believe he should have functioned based on his history.
As if to spite him, an instantly recognizable and unwelcome sensation hit the back of his neck as though someone had pressed an ice pack to it. The feeling was similar to the one that he'd gotten in his room, except for the fact that he couldn't hear anything and it trumped his desire to look over his shoulder. It shot down his legs and every instinct told him to run – which is precisely what he did. Without bothering to glance back he tore down the hallway. As he turned a corner, he was fairly certain that he caught sight of the familiar, brown-gray mass of a Guardian of Insanity from the edge of his gaze. The sudden realization made his heart rate increase as only one word came to mind: