Chapter Title: Close to the Heart
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
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: Writing author's notes is hard when you've actually finished the chapter several weeks prior to posting it. But considering that seems to be the only sacrifice I need to make to keep this thing on track, I'm sure you all don't mind dealing with it. Aha.
Thanks for the reviews, everyone. They're my favorite thing to see in my e-mail when I log on in the mornings and let me know that you like what I'm doing with the story. Thanks in particular to pickledgundam and benijoujou here on LJ, your consistent reviewing is awesome and let's me know that I'm not losing all my readers. Aha. Please keep checking back and leaving those comments, I can't put into words how much they mean to me and how much I appreciate them!
You get a little bit more insight into Chris in this chapter, which I can only hope comes off as believable and logical. Considering that I already have this story planned out, I'm worried that not all of the events I have in mind are lining up in a way that works outside of my head. It should be clear by this point that he's making "progress" in his relationship with Wesker. Though to what ends? Well, I'll leave that up to you to debate on~
- x - x - x -
Admittedly, this one was his fault.
As pain seared across his backside from its recent meeting with a less than forgiving wall, he was willing to concede that its presence was his own doing. He grunted and crumpled to the floor, taking a short-lived satisfaction in the fact he hadn't hit his knees when one buckled underneath him. At the very least he hadn't hit them both, but his body still rocked forward and his hands came in contact with the smooth ground. Fingers curled into soft fists as his ears throbbed, listening for the sound of footsteps or a rush of air and coming up with nothing. Whatever he had sprinted away from wasn't chasing him – though he wondered now if it had been real to begin with. Unfortunately, even if it had been imaginary, he was currently forced to deal with a very real threat.
He didn't need to look up to know that he'd run into Wesker, that much was evident by the very faint scent of his cologne before he went flying. BOWs didn't wear cologne, after all. The other wasn't moving, but his automatic reaction to being slammed into had been to backhand the ex-agent across the hallway. When Chris lifted his head he wasn't sure if he was looking at an angry or just on-alert version of the tyrant – but he did know that Wesker at least wasn't coming after him. He was standing still, almost docile, but his fingers were curled at his sides. He was temporarily caught up recalling the sight of those claws as they became visible with a flash of lightning back in Spencer's mansion. He wondered now if Wesker really would have killed him then, considering how reluctant he seemed to do it now.
"Don't call me that!"
The accumulation of four days of thought was behind that one sentence, though it wasn't particularly insightful and he hadn't even meant to say it. He blamed the rush of adrenaline brought on by running away from some monster that was apparently only in his mind. Only a small part of him was glad to have it out in the open, the rest of him was pissed that he gave himself up so easily.
Since the first time he'd heard the other use that name it had been rolling around in his head, in his nightmares and dreams. The scariest things were the dreams. It wasn't as though he didn't remember his S.T.A.R.S days, he did, but they hadn't surfaced in his unconscious state in years. The mansion did, of course, and the countless monsters hunting him through the endless hallways of his mind. What happened over a decade ago was more than willing to contribute its fair share to his nightmares – but the only times he thought of his S.T.A.R.S days were when he was controlling it. He was careful with the things he thought about and though it was impossible to avoid Wesker – the man had been their captain, after all – it was easier when he was able to decide.
In his dreams, he couldn't decide. More and more memories had been surfacing, that damned tone in every one. The blond calling him into his office for punishment concerning his latest antics or making sure he finished his paper work. Hell, just asking how he was doing or anything civil – all of it came back to his full first name said in that tone. A stoic, smooth tenor that didn't incline that Wesker was feeling one way or another about anything but still held the slightest edges of emotion sometimes if one knew what they were listening for. Even now, in response to the fact Chris had slammed into him at a dead sprint, there was that barest hint that he was displeased. He hated that he knew it so well, though he didn't know if he hated himself or Wesker for it.
Getting back to his feet was easy despite the fact he was dazed but he planted a hand on the wall to keep his balance anyway. His adrenaline was going but it wasn't as high as it usually would have been in a fight with Wesker. This was probably because it wasn't technically a fight, not yet, though it was officially the Wesker's turn to make his move. Maybe he realized that Chris hadn't meant to run into him, he'd just turned the corner a little fast without consideration to anyone else being in the hallway. After all, they were the only two here and it just seemed unlikely that he'd run into anyone.
He heard the quirk of a brow in the other's voice more than he saw it, lifting his head slightly to Wesker who seemed to have relaxed for the moment. Chris officially decided to hate himself now, for knowing the other's reactions too well.
"Such an adverse reaction, I assume you have a reason for it," Wesker stated, no question in his voice. The usual sense that Wesker was just toying with him was now more than willing to turn into tension and Chris could sense the other's readiness to beat a response out of him if he had to.
But he didn't.
"You don't have the right—"
Wesker chuckled. "The right to use your name? Do you have a nickname you'd prefer—"
He started towards the other, rage gripping and twisting deeply into every nerve ending and muscle it could find. It was the chuckle that had done it, that was the little tick that had pushed him from trying to make this a civil shouting match into something more physical. Chris could feel the tension in his arms and legs, it spread along his shoulders and practically hurt, but he didn't much care. Every last inch of his body was flooded with a level of revulsion that he hadn't acknowledge in some time, much less acted upon. When he fought Wesker it was because he had to, because the world or his sister or someone needed to be saved and he was the only one who could do it. But over the past couple of days, seeing him function something so close to human had become more than he could bear.
The first inclination that something was off was that Wesker actually did shut up after Chris's demands, and he didn't even look sour over it. He was humoring him, at best, but Chris only let it add more coal to the fire. The next inclination was when Wesker actually let him touch him, staying still as Chris came at him and fisted his hands in the black dress shirt he was wearing. Though the tyrant easily could have blocked him or done something even more violent, he didn't. Normally Chris would have realized how bad a sign that was but between the fact he wasn't really being chased as his mind had lead him to believe and the fact the other continued to use his name in that tone, he just ignored it. Or didn't care to begin with.
"Don't you fucking use my name like the past eleven years haven't happened - like you're still the person that you were!"
Again and again he was caught up in speaking, moving, and behaving before he thought through what he was doing. For so many years he had been so careful, calculating almost, of the way that he behaved and the things that he thought about to avoid scenarios just like this. He despised Albert Wesker, hated him down to the last virally infected strain of his DNA, because of everything that he had done and planned to do. His job, fighting as often and as hard as he did, didn't leave room for things to get personal. He didn't do it just for himself, he did it for Rebecca and Barry, for Joseph and Enrico – he fought for all of them. The ones that couldn't fight anymore because of his sick plot that killed them or robbed them of what fight they might have had. It wasn't personal because he was Chris Redfield; it was personal because Wesker had ruined so many lives.
"You destroyed thirteen people in a single night, all for your own bullshit reasons. You don't have the right to talk to me like you're still my superior officer and I should respect or trust you."
He wanted to hit Wesker, who was observing him rather carefully through the tinted lenses of his sunglasses. His face was calm and unresponsive, though Chris could feel the tension in Wesker's shoulders against where his knuckles bunched in dark fabric. The ex-agent's heartbeat was already racing, increasing from what had been left over when he thought he was being chased. Now it was something more though, something that had him breathing slightly heavier even though all he'd done was slam Wesker into a wall. He clenched his jaw and pulled the tyrant forward just to do it again, the force of it moving solidly through his arms. "Not after everything you've done."
A silence lingered between them where Chris refused to relinquish his hold and Wesker let him keep it, for some indiscernible motive that he didn't care about. The ex-operative tensed when Wesker's hand moved up slightly and slammed him back into the wall to make him stop. That made Wesker frown.
"I don't care."
Wesker sighed, exhaling some of his calm and letting his hand fall back down again. "Tell me, Chris, do you expect me to believe that your disdain comes from my unfaithful actions towards S.T.A.R.S alone?"
"Don't turn this into something personal, Wesker, it isn't." He ground out, both unwilling and unable to relieve the tension in his jaw. "I was friends with those people. With Richard and Forest, all of them, and you lead them into that hellhole knowing the whole time what would happen! Planning for it!"
"Us, whatever. Same difference."
That, for whatever reason, was when Wesker decided to move. It wasn't that Chris didn't know he was playing nice; it was just that he hadn't bothered trying to anticipate what to do when the tyrant stopped. Wesker's arms came up between his own, shoving outwards in a fluid, strong motion that wrenched the his fingers free of the material and made him stumble slightly. Within seconds an open palm was colliding with his chest and he was slamming into the wall for a second time that day. Except this time he didn't have the opportunity to hit the floor because Wesker was on him, fingers wrapped around his shoulder and his thumb pressing tight into the junction of his collarbone, shoulder, and neck. It wasn't life threatening, but the pressure point itself hurt and sent his muscles into a frenzy of throbbing pain. He made a strangled sort of sound in reply, his hand immediately going to the area though all it could do was grip weakly at Wesker's wrist.
"But it isn't the same at all, is it?" Wesker said in his imperceptible tone. He wasn't angry but he wasn't amused, yet it didn't lay quite flat either. "You were quite different than them."
"No, I wasn't," Chris half-gasped, tightening his grip as much as he could. It only caused Wesker to roll his thumb over the area, intensifying the stabbing and causing the younger male to drop his hand again. His head lolled forward slightly, squeezing his eyes shut before forcing them open again. The last thing he needed right now was Wesker to be out of his sight.
"You're alive, aren't you?"
Chris couldn't come up with an argument, leaving an opening for Wesker to go on.
"You're so willing to push everything aside for the sake of others, Christopher, but you can't escape the truth of the matter. Do you still talk to Rebecca? Barry? Would you still talk to Jill had she not stuck so close to you throughout the years?"
He couldn't answer for Rebecca and Barry, knowing all too well that he'd lost contact with both of them throughout their time apart. The last he'd heard of Barry had been when he turned down an invite to one of his children's birthday parties in favor of a mission. In the usual way, he'd tried to tell Chris not to push himself too hard, which Chris in return had brushed off with a promise he would tell Jill that he'd called. Within those aspects he was uncomfortable with how close Wesker was to the truth and even more disturbed with the fact he doubted the other had been keeping tabs on him throughout the past few years. That only meant that Wesker had inferred based on his own knowledge of him, assumptions after a decade of knowing him, seeing him work and function. The idea of his former captain knowing him so well was not a pleasant one.
But God, Jill. His mind went reeling for reasons as to why they were still in contact, why they had come to function so cleanly as a unit together – he'd never even considered it. In the S.T.A.R.S days, Wesker was the one that usually had his back; the man had been there since the beginning and Jill only came on later. He remembered an instant attraction to Jill, she was so easy for him to get along with, which was a sharp contrast to the now tyrant. But Wesker was the one he'd trusted to watch his back if only because he was the only one willing to go after Chris when he was hurling himself into trouble. Wesker was the one that he'd spent much of his time around, either at the shooting range or around the office. Wesker was the one he'd encountered in the mansion and listened to under the belief that they were still on the same team. Over time he'd learned to trust Jill as well, but he couldn't remember actively keeping in touch with her. She'd always just been there, at his side, going into the same battles he went into with the same vendetta he carried. Had that all been her own doing? He didn't want to think he'd contributed nothing to keeping in touch with her, but his mind was pulling up blank slide after blank slide of actively keeping their partnership intact after the deterioration of S.T.A.R.S. After a while he'd come to rely her, Jill's presence so natural and necessary…but before then, what?
"It doesn't matter!" he snarled finally but once again Wesker ground his thumb into that pressure point and Chris was left choking on his pain.
"I do wish you would stop putting up this futile charade," Wesker sighed; his voice now returned to that stoic tone that Chris could so easily place throughout his memories. "Simply saying that things don't matter does not mean that you are able to change their true importance. Come now, and stop blaming your hatred on everyone else."
Chris's insides knotted unpleasantly and it pulled his entire body into yet another jarring standstill. There was a certain, bittersweet reality in Wesker's statement. Never had he considered himself blaming his persistent hunt of Wesker on anyone else – but there was a truth to it. He used them as excuses without even realizing it and, in that, wasn't much better than the very man he hunted. He could practically hear them calling him reckless and telling him to be careful; Barry asking how Claire was and prodding at him when he didn't have an immediate answer and Joseph telling him he should try dating every once in a while. They wouldn't have wanted him throwing his life on the line every chance he got, not like this. But he'd thought the only thing he could do for them was kill Wesker…
He squeezed his eyes shut and jerked his head away from the tyrant standing over him, No. I knew better.
Wesker wasn't expecting him to lash out the arm nearest to his grip, but that's what Chris did and the tyrant was forced to buckle to one knee. His grip hardly had time to loosen before a fist was colliding with his jaw – Chris had swung before he knew for sure his first attack would work. The genetically enhanced male could think far faster than he ever could, so the only option left was to strike at him before Chris even made up his own mind. Thankfully, his rage enabled him to do that quite easily.
He didn't get up and lunge after the other so much as half-crawl after him, launching himself onto the dark-clad super-villain with his fist already pulled back. By this point, however, Wesker's responses had caught up and he caught both of the other's wrists to immobilize him. Now having no way to lash out cleanly, Chris turned to the only remaining outlet he could think of while seeing so much red.
"Two years working together, you son of a bitch, and you just dropped us into the middle of that goddamned mansion! All for the sake of your fucking data!" He was screaming and thrashing. Already his throat was sore, not used to the action after the past four days in his personal confinement just thinking. "You made me respect you, admire you!"
Rage and yet so much more churned his insides. It felt like a step beyond hatred and lingered too close to being genuinely hurt. Eleven years of it, burying it under reason after reason to hide the real damage that night had done.
Chris snarled, "You were never a man, were you?"
A man wouldn't have thrown his team off a cliff for the sake of his own benefit, wouldn't have lead them head first into that kind of danger. Chris had been in the military and on the police force, he had seen devious people throughout his life time – but at least they were straightforward brutal. It might have been different if Wesker had just pointed a gun at him and threatened to take his life, but he hadn't done that, so Chris wouldn't know. All he knew what that he'd respected Wesker, he'd believed in his judgment and him as a leader, and it had all been thrown out the window. After so much fighting, so many clashes with superior officers, he'd finally thought he'd found someone worth relying on.
Being wrong had never done as much damage as it had when Wesker turned on them.
When Wesker flipped their positions, it didn't do much to help Chris's blind fury; all it did was further keep him from lashing out. The tyrant pinned his wrist firmly to the ground on either side of his head, leaning forward so the other couldn't kick him in anywhere of relevance. Chris was fully prepared to go until one of them was dead and with that option ripped away he only got angrier. He spit, only vaguely aware that it caught the other somewhere in the face, mostly by the fact Wesker had let out a low, displeased growl.
"Don't use me as another route for your denial," he sneered, swiping his jaw against his shoulder, leading Chris to believe that was where his projectile saliva had landed. He was less than willing to hear him, thrashing underneath the other as if he could really make any progress with movements born of frustration rather than thought. His back arched as his eyes screwed shut, straining his legs and shoulders as much as he could to try to unseat the other – it seemed stupid and unfair that it did so little.
"Fuck you, I'm not denying anything!"
"Then you admit to admiring a monster? Chris, that seems so unlike you."
"Get off of me!"
Some part of him acknowledged that his chest was hurting again, the same layer of pain that he'd felt when Wesker first used his full name. Except Wesker wasn't letting him walk away this time and just being within proximity made it that much more intense. His lungs felt like they were too small and his heart was not only going incredibly fast but felt like it was trapped in a vice grip. Again and again Wesker was pointing out things he didn't want to hear, shit he didn't want to acknowledge, and the most agonizing part was the fact he was so right. He must have been human at some point because Chris had looked up to him, he'd even confessed as much. Once again he was left hating himself for giving Wesker that inch. Hell, that mile.
Gloved fingers tightened just that little bit more to reassure Chris of his grip, but it was his voice that cut through everything. So familiar and firm, like he'd pulled it right out of a memory…as though if Chris opened his eyes he'd see the same Captain he remembered from eleven years ago.
"Not until you settle, Christopher."
His eyes stayed closed, clenched so tightly that they were the envy of his tense jaw. His entire face was wracked with a sort of pain that couldn't be administered by a fist. His brain flipped a switch that was covered in cobwebs, knowing that the threat was more like a promise than anything. Wesker wouldn't let him up until he stopped thrashing and despite the ache in his chest and his searing hatred, anything was better than having to lie there and listen to him talk for the rest of his life. Especially in that tone, that goddamned commanding tone that every nerve in his brain told him to just listen to. He was suffocating on it, choking on the fight between new instincts and old ones – how many times had that tone promised him safety and guidance? How many times had it kept him alive?
"Stop talking and I'll—"
He grunted and arched, pressing his head to the side and not caring if Wesker decided to take advantage of the available expanse of throat that would have been so easy for him to strangle. In fact, at this point he'd almost welcome it. It meant that that this bullshit could stop, that he could just be dead instead of having to choose which part of his brain to listen to: Wesker wouldn't let him up if he didn't calm down – but he didn't have to, he could do this if he could just focus – but all he told him to do was settle, it wasn't so hard – fuck what he told him to do, it was Wesker! – but it was an order, wasn't it? – No, Wesker wasn't his superior anymore – but why fight when it was so easy to just listen?
Chris let out a strangled scream, more from his internal fight than struggling against Wesker. The barrage of mental attacks made his external effort weak and Wesker had little to no trouble keeping him pinned. As the sound faded, his feet planted themselves against the smooth floor, hesitated, then slid out. His body fell into a straight and mostly harmless line, though it was far from still and Wesker's lack of movement signaled that he'd noticed it. Everything that made up his torso was still burning in a dark sort of distress. He was heaving hard enough that he could have easily convinced someone that he'd just done a thirty mile run, but part of him resigned that wasn't the reason he stopped. Though he knew he was suddenly tired it wasn't from trying to get the tyrant off of him, it wasn't even from yelling…something had cracked inside and he had to stop before it broke completely.
He tilted his face up again, focusing as intently as his blurred vision would allow at the other's sunglasses. It was nearly impossible to see anything other than himself in them, their damned plastic reflecting everything. More than anything he didn't want to see himself right now, but squinted until he caught sight of the reptilian eyes underneath.
"I hate you."