Chapter Title: Say Something New
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 dear 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: Uwah. Chapter 4~
It seems like I get more reviews/watches/favorites with every chapter, which is very encouraging! Thank you again, everyone. I know it sounds really generic and I do it at the beginning of every chapter, but please know that I mean it and I really appreciate you all reading this story and taking the time to review it. Your effort is much appreciated and makes me smile every time I see this story getting something new in the way of fans!
This chapter was both fun and difficult to write. Originally it was really short, but a little while after I sent it to my beta I ended up adding so much to it and moving things around to make it fit in with the plotline in a way that I hope is better. You all seem to have ideas for this fanfiction, aha, it's great hearing them and I hope you can understand why I don't reply to all of you. Particularly if you're bringing up theories! You'll just have to see how things unfold.
I do need to say that this will be the last update for a while. Don't worry, I haven't lost my drive for the fanfiction, but June is looking to be a very busy month for me so I'm taking a temporary hiatus. My next update probably won't be until the first Monday in July, since I'll be out of town this next week (visiting palinka!) and the weekend after. I need time to build up the next chapter.
But at least this one doesn't leave off at a cliffhanger and hopefully the calm interactions will keep you smiling until I can get to my next update.
- x - x - x -
He'd been escorted back to his room for another time-out after Wesker pulled him to his feet again. Not only did he have no choice in the matter but he didn't care to put up more of a fight. However, when the door closed behind him and the timer pulled up, he didn't think he wanted to be alone. If he had any other option for company besides Wesker he would have taken it, but as he didn't, he half-considered trying to talk his way out of the situation. After everything that had happened, he felt like he was walking on eggshells in his own mind and being forced to sit in his room with nothing but his thoughts for company wasn't the most pleasant thought. That last conversation had gotten far too close to something that he had gone years pretending didn't exist.
As his adrenaline faded, the bruises on his backside and near his neck where Wesker had made an imprint of his thumb started to ache. With no mirror in the room for him to check any of the damage out in, he was forced to just deal with it as he migrated over to ease himself onto the bed. He didn't even bother to flick the lamp on as he stretched out on his mostly undamaged side and stared at the wall through the darkness. Despite his best attempts, his mind could only play over their conversation and everything that he had let loose between them.
The worst part of it was that he couldn't deny it – everything he'd said had been true and, on some level, Wesker had known. Chris putting it out in the open just confirmed it, like knowing when a child had broken something and just wanting them to confess it. He tried to convince himself that it was okay, that it wasn't a big deal that he'd given that information up, but the relief wouldn't come. In the end, he had owned up to it, and he could only imagine the satisfaction Wesker got from finally hearing what he'd probably known all along. Ages ago he had accepted that S.T.A.R.S was just a part of his life, on his own terms he had acknowledge that he couldn't change that, but this was a whole new monster. He had never accepted how he felt about his old captain or what that could mean for him later on – it was easier just to ignore it.
Ever since his parents had died, he'd had an issue with authority – mostly because it seemed like everyone that was ever in charge of him enjoyed making bad calls. If he thought he could do something better, then he would do it his way and they could thank him later. Unfortunately, in the military, that didn't really work because there was this whole hierarchy of superiors that he was supposed to listen to over his own judgment. For a good few years he was able to convince them that what he had done was better, but after a while the direct conflicts convinced too many people that he was more trouble than he was worth. Even if he didn't like a lot of the guys he worked for, it still stung to be discharged.
More than that, he remembered feeling like he was suspended in a state of uselessness. He didn't have anything to do after he'd left the military. The random odds and ends jobs were enough to keep his apartment, sure, but there was no other point in them except a paycheck and he decided really soon that wasn't nearly enough. It had been a heaven-sent when Barry contacted him about S.T.A.R.S – and not just because it gave his life purpose again.
Chris squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw, trying to ignore the very thing he had just admitted to his former captain. The blow wasn't even softened when he tried to remember that S.T.A.R.S was a different time for both of them. Wesker had been human then and Chris was more impressionable, he could look back on himself now and admit that he might have taken everything to heart too easily. But nothing changed the fact that S.T.A.R.S was only heaven-sent because Wesker had made it one. He gave orders that aligned with calls Chris would have made, he would consider other opinions though his judgment rarely required them. For the first time since his parents had died, Chris had someone telling him what to do that wasn't pissing off him with bullshit orders at every turn.
And then the Mansion Incident happened. Because of Wesker he was shooting animated corpses of his friends and comrades, fending for his life against monsters that wanted nothing more than to eat his insides. There was something traumatizing about fighting BOWs; something had been completely destroyed in him that night. He knew that the world wasn't all sunshine and rainbows; he learned that the day he got the call telling him his parents were dead, but monsters in the literal sense shouldn't have been real. Bad people were very different from the things he'd seen in that mansion, thing he made himself see every day on his fight against bio-terrorism, and sometimes he found himself wishing he could just go back to before everything went to hell.
He was probably supposed to feel better having gotten all of that off his chest, having finally confronted Wesker about screwing him over back then, but he didn't. More than anything he felt vulnerable, and he absolutely hated that feeling – it wasn't a help that it was Albert Wesker's fault. A part of him had been ripped open by their conversation, like he'd been forced to pick off a scab, and he didn't like it. It was very similar to how he felt directly after the mansion, the same reaction that caused him to haul off and punch a guy for just spilling coffee. He was on edge and unguarded, fighting with himself about his motives for the past eleven years. It had been simple to say he was doing it for the world. It was easy and impersonal – anyone with a conscience would have been motivated to the same ends.
But he wasn't anyone. As much as he liked to pretend he was, it wasn't true, and Wesker had succeeded in making him realize that. It was an annoying, inescapable fact: He was Chris Redfield, a former member of S.T.A.R.S. and a former subordinate of Albert Wesker. That would always be the reality and so, on some level, it would always be personal. Fighting it any more was stupid, particularly after he'd now admitted it – he couldn't take it back. Done deal. But that didn't mean that Wesker had won by having that information. Just like everything else, it was logical that Chris would despise him for leading not only him but his friends into that kind of danger. Not another great step and, really, was just as obvious as hating him for any other reason.
He shifted carefully to alleviate some of the stiffness that was settling on his muscles, gently pushing himself onto his back and closing his eyes again. The pain didn't seem like it would be quick to dissipate which fended off any sense of tired that might have come from the ordeal. He was just getting close to relaxing when the door slid open and startled him into an upright position with a short, pained sound. Glaring fiercely at it, he debated going over to close it again before deciding that he could probably do with a shower and food before he settled in for another few days of avoiding Wesker as much as he possibly could. With a slight grunt he stood up, gently pressing his fingers into his lower back as if that would help to assuage any of the pain, and headed for the door.
Chris was little over halfway to the kitchen when he started noticing the faint scent of something being cooked. Considering his diet since day one had consisted of quick, easily prepared things, he hadn't smelled anything close to an actual meal recently. His stomach started flipping in eager circles before the thought caught up with him that Wesker was the one behind it. He paused outside the kitchen doorway, running over the idea of just going to take a shower and returning. With the pleasant smell assaulting his senses, however, he could feel his hunger arguing against that idea and he frowned. Trying to breathe strictly through his mouth, he headed inside to find something he could grab and leave with.
Just the sight of Wesker cooking was enough to give pause, though the tyrant's back was to him and his frame obscured much of whatever it was he was making. He had changed his shirt since their scuffle, though it was still a nicer dress shirt and almost indistinguishable from the one he'd been wearing before. Chris headed towards the fridge slowly, like he was sneaking around a Licker and trying not to set it off, though his eyes never left the other male's little area. He scanned over the surrounding surface, noticing a mostly clean cutting board with a knife on top of it on the counter beside the stove. Beside that were the familiar, rectangle frames of Wesker's sunglasses, neatly folded and away from whatever potential mess could have been made. That little detail alone made it easier to avoid looking for the other's face – the sight of those reptilian eyes always making his stomach toss in distaste no matter how passive he was feeling before seeing them.
Their argument from earlier was still fresh in his mind, so the idea of avoiding Wesker was amongst his favorite right now considering that killing him was out of the question. He tried to keep from staring, knowing that even in humans it was easy to tell when someone was fixated on you. The fact that Wesker was probably already well aware of his presence despite his best attempts to get in and out was not exactly comforting. There really was no way to just act natural when one was slinking around a kitchen and though he tried, his movements felt stiff and unnatural. He wasn't even concerned that Wesker was going to attack him, just that he would see him and feel the need to say something. Even sighing at his own inability to act normal was held off, in case the tyrant would have something to say about his breathing habits or whatever else.
Finally he made it to his destination, eyes flicking again to the other in an attempt to tell if he'd noticed him or not. He didn't doubt that he had, but Wesker was being silent about it and Chris was thankful. In his bout of relief at reaching the fridge, the cool handle reassuring against his palm, he took a deep breath through his nose and the wave of hunger hit him all over again. While it wasn't a crippling feeling, it was more than enough to make his stomach churn in the most audible way that it could. If there was any way to remove an organ for betrayal without killing himself, he would have considered it at that moment. He froze briefly, attention moving to Wesker out of the corner of his eye and waiting for some kind of reaction. When he didn't seem to notice, he pulled the fridge open and relaxed as the cold air hit his face.
"You're welcome to join me, Christopher."
The tension that spread across his backside irritated his bruise, which did nothing to help the sudden aggravation overcoming him.
"No, thanks." He snapped back as sardonically as he could, standing up straight enough that he could glare at the other from behind the open door. "I'm surprised you eat, I don't even want to think about what it is."
Wesker didn't look at him or incline that he cared at all that the other had said anything, but Chris hesitated a few seconds before turning his attention back to the fridge again.
"Filet mignon," he offered, still clearly smug, "With seasoned cauliflower."
Chris ground his teeth together.
"Shut up, Wesker."
There was plenty available, including fresh fruit, vegetables, and packaged meats – though many of them needed to be cooked and he wasn't going to stand near Wesker to do it – to choose from. Wanting nothing more than to get in and out, he picked up an orange and quickly shut the fridge door. It wasn't nearly enough to handle his hunger, but at the very least it could push it off until later when he could make something without the other present. He headed back towards the hallway again, already working on ripping the orange peel away and gathering its fragments into his hand. Waiting Wesker out in the lounge was probably the most logical approach, because then he'd be able to see when he left, so he reasoned to head there and try flipping through the magazines again.
"You don't have to eat with me, you realize, and I imagine your physique isn't sustained by a regular diet of fruit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."
He felt the sticky drip of juice slide down his thumb as he squeezed a peeled back section of the fruit a bit too hard. The remark didn't pull him to an immediate stop, though it did slow until he came to a halt near enough to the door that he reached out and rested an arm against it. He tried to relax his jaw but it failed, so the words still came out through locked teeth.
"I can take care of myself."
"On some levels, perhaps, though cooking wouldn't seem to be one of them."
Chris started to open his mouth to argue this, but again inhaled through his nose which knocked him somewhat off his determination. He hadn't eaten since that morning and while the idea of eating with Wesker was more than enough to keep him from considering the offer, he hadn't played with the thought of not eating with him. It certainly was a simpler alternative and wouldn't force him to stay in the tyrant's presence – yet he'd still get food. Cooking had never been his forte and though he wasn't completely bad at it, he tended to ignore the fancier stuff. At the very least he was better than Claire, who more often than not would burn a grilled cheese. But Wesker's cooking did smell delicious, better than anything he'd smelled outside of a restaurant, and the offer was difficult to ignore.
"Fine," he snarled, turning around without looking at the other, "But never talk about my physique again."
Wesker chuckled. "If you find it so troubling."
Chris crossed the kitchen to the small island that rested in its center, pulling out one of the chairs and taking a seat. Despite the promise of a meal, he went back to peeling his orange and dropping the chunks of skin onto the table as they were removed. Within a minute or so he had it down to the orb of fruit and started prying the slivers apart, trying to imagine that he was doing a similar violent gesture to Wesker, who had fallen silent. He cleaned his fingertips carefully with his tongue, popping the first slice of citrus into his mouth and crushing it with his tongue and swallowing the juice before chewing the remaining pulp. His attention flicked up to Wesker who was mostly still, save for the occasional movement of his arm as he shifted whatever was in the pan.
"I didn't think you ate," he started, his mind deciding that some kind of conversation was better than just the sound of food cooking. "Seemed too normal."
"On the contrary," Wesker started, his tone somewhat flat in its explanatory mode, "I eat quite often, as my metabolism is faster than that of a human."
Chris frowned a little bit, draining the juice out of another sliver of orange and swallowing the fleshy remains. "And you eat actual food?"
"I don't behave like a zombie, Christopher, why would you expect me to eat like one?"
"How the hell should I know what that virus changed aside from turning you into a psycho?"
Wesker sighed, seeming bored with the confrontation. "I eat most 'human' food."
A brief silence filtered between them before Chris shifted, focusing more on his orange as if that would help him to ignore the irritation with his own curiosity. He shouldn't have cared what Wesker ate or didn't eat, but they hadn't had a decent conversation in eleven years. Truthfully, Chris was less than hesitate to allow anything 'decent' to transpire between them, but something about their argument the day before had him treading carefully. Whatever had happened during that confrontation had shifted some things around in his mind, and he didn't want to do anything that would push that crack further. At least, not before he was sure he had it somewhat sealed up.
"What don't you eat?"
"Chicken?" Chris blinked, lifting his head just as Wesker turned off the stove and reached up towards the cupboard beside the fridge. He pulled out two plates, setting one down on the counter and balancing the other in his hand to load food onto as he spoke.
"It has little to do with care for the species. The conditions in which they're raised are often less than sterile and I prefer not to take my chances when there are more suitable substitutes."
It was finally Chris's turn to raise a brow.
"You don't eat chicken because they're raised in 'less than sterile' conditions?" He scoffed. "You've shot bio-weapons in the head before, what's the harm in dirty poultry?"
"I've never eaten the various creatures I've shot."
There was a somewhat amused expression on the other's face as he turned around, placing the plate on the island and pushing it towards Chris. Wesker fished a fork and a knife out of the drawer, offering them to Chris handle-first, which he accepted without much hesitation. With the smell even closer to him now, Chris couldn't help the sounds that his stomach made in earnest, but Wesker still didn't seem to notice them so his embarrassment subsided. He pulled the toothpicks out carefully, dropping them off to the side of the pile of cauliflower to be forgotten. Before he put the first bite in his mouth, however, he hesitated, moving his gaze to the slicked blond hair at the back of Wesker's head as he prepared his own meal.
"Everything was prepared in a shared pan, Christopher," Wesker remarked in a dull, bored voice. "To poison yours would be to poison mine."
Chris frowned. "One of us isn't known for taking bullets to the head and getting back up."
The tyrant's thin lips had curved slightly at the corner of his mouth when he turned around, taking the chair beside Chris and pulling it to the adjacent edge of the table so they weren't sitting within immediate proximity. Unable to eat until he had a satisfactory answer, Chris watched as he mimicked the actions of pulling out the toothpicks and setting them off to the side of the plate.
"Observant of you, but you can reassure yourself that nothing harmful will come from eating this meal."
He waited, still, until Wesker ate the first cut of meat off of his fork before turning back to his own. His stomach was less than pleased with his hesitation, but again he rationalized it as necessary and decided that Wesker was probably being truthful. At the very least, it went back to the mentality that Wesker hadn't killed him so far and if he was going to, it wouldn't be through poisoning his food. Not when there were more violent ways that he would undoubtedly enjoy more. After the first bite hit his tongue, any previous attempt at resistance was completely pointless – it was too good and he was too hungry to bother being concerned.
It might have been because of the silence that he didn't realize that he'd forgotten to leave the kitchen as he originally planned. Any number of distractions could have added up to that, with his hunger and their brief conversation playing roles as well. But with little more than the occasional clattering of silverware between them and focus on their respective meals, it was almost too easy to forget that they were each sitting in the kitchen with the person they hated the most in the world. That fact probably wouldn't have caught up with Chris until later, when he realized it with a startling sort of terror right before falling asleep, except that he stood up to get a bottle of water from the fridge. Once his hand touched the handle, words were pouring from his mouth before he could stop them.
"Do you want something?"
A surge of tension nearly caused him to choke on the last word. Reality came back to him in a flood and he was almost nervous to look over his shoulder and confirm who he'd been remotely hospitable too. Naturally, however, Wesker's voice was instantly recognizable and it was worse than getting the confirmation by looking at him. He almost flinched.
"No, thank you, Christopher."
If any of the anxiety went away at the fact the other didn't sound amused, Chris couldn't feel it. He pulled open the fridge and extracted one of the bottles of water, stiffly turning and walking back to his seat. Now on alert, even if it was for an inane reason, he realized that the other had called him Christopher again and was wracking his mind. Had he been doing it the whole time? He tried to think of their conversations that had happened not even twenty minutes ago but suddenly everything was blank. He hadn't had any bad reactions to the usage of his full name despite being so pissed about it the day before – this had to be the first time he'd used it today. That was the only explanation.
Instead of sitting back down, he picked up his plate and utensils, heading for the lounge again. His stomach was doing awkward flips for no discernable reason and he'd picked up the plate more in a haze than coherently. Something strange and unnerving had just happened, his entire brain prickled with a tingling sort of numbness that almost made him feel light-headed. He swore he could faintly feel Wesker's amused gaze following him as he left the kitchen, but decided immediately that he didn't want to turn around to confirm it.