When Leon first saw the lake, he knew either he was going to end up in it or something was going to come out of it. Chris laughed and teased him about his love of sea monsters while Piers started aiming his rifle at the water. Just in case.
When the chaos erupted, it came from inland. Even as Leon fought, some part of him watched the water, waiting for a telltale fin or a dark lump to emerge. Surrendering to distraction was stupid and if Chris found out, he would tear him a new one, DSO agent or not.
Except even with the monsters emerging -- inspired by the C-virus, possibly, but no confirmation unless they could find their source or take samples -- Leon couldn’t stop himself. The dark water reminded him too much of the lake in Spain. Shadow pain burned in his leg and sometimes he still startled awake, gasping, the sensation of that damned salamander dragging him under the water too real and vivid.
Hunkered by a fallen tree now, Piers at his elbow, Leon glanced again toward the water. Chris had long ago charged ahead toward the small base. Once Leon better assessed the area, he planned on following. Even without a monster emerging from the water with the plan of drowning or eating him, Leon knew there was something missing. The swarm was plentiful but small, and Neo-Umbrella never did small.
Piers knelt beside him, sniper rifle sweeping the area. “You okay there, Leon?” he asked, sounding so worried Leon smiled at him.
“I’m fine,” he said. He looked around one more time and stood, leading the way with his own weapon. “Let’s circle around. We’re --”
The monster erupted from the earth, and before Leon could do more than stagger backward, it grabbed his throat and squeezed. Piers shouted and Leon twisted fruitlessly in the air, eyes bulging and a familiar terror lacing up his spine. He had enough time to kick the monster once before it launched him through the air like a football.
Leon had been right. If nothing came out of the lake, then he was going in it.
That was his last thought before he slammed into the water, the impact knocking all of the air from his lungs and any remaining thoughts from his head. His eyes wide open, Leon sunk down, the water dragging him down with hungry arms. Darkness and the sting in his eyes and iron bands around his chest and Leon couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe.
The thought flashed through him like lightning, along with the urge to suck in a breath. He couldn’t breathe and his chest hurt and now Leon tried to get his limbs to move but the water weighed them down, made him sluggish, and he was so dizzy.
Darkness and he didn’t know if his eyes were still open, which way was up, and everything was getting slow even as the pressure increased inside of him. I’m going to die here, Leon thought, more dazed than afraid. He felt his legs kick but nothing else seemed to move, the blackness growing around him.
Piers. Leon thought. Leon thought Piers had been right beside him. Was Piers okay? Was everyone okay?
Chris. Chris went ahead. Chris, he… he…
Leon couldn’t remember. His kicks slowed and he sank into the shadows, so heavy. He couldn’t breathe. Even as some part of him screamed, Leon couldn’t stop himself from sucking in a breath.
Then there was only darkness.
“C’mon, Leon. Don’t do this!”
A familiar voice, ragged and breathless and frightened. Pressure against his chest in sharp bursts. Rapid little punches.
“Leon, come on!”
Piers. That was Piers’s voice.
Another burst of pressure against his chest and then a wet mouth pressing hard against his. Air and then abruptly Leon was choking, gagging on something. Hands grabbed him and turned him around and barely understanding what the hell was going on, Leon went with the motion. It made it easier to breathe, at least. He hacked and coughed and it was like vomiting watery bile.
The flashback was abrupt and fierce, a memory he hadn’t thought of in years: Krauser kneeling beside him, pounding his back as Leon spit up water, mouth and chest both feeling bruised. He almost drowned. Krauser never told him that, but Leon put the pieces together. Leon almost drowned and Krauser saved him.
Wheezing breathlessly, Leon let himself sink back against Piers so he could stare up at the other man. Piers was soaked, his usual scarf gone, dark eyes dilated and wild.
Years ago, Krauser saved him from drowning. From the look of it, Piers had saved him today.
“You saved my life,” Leon croaked.
Piers smiled shakily down at him. Right then, Piers looked half-drowned himself with his short hair dripping wet and skin pale from the cold water. He looked amazing. “Not every day I get to save your ass. How could I say no?”
Smartass. Fortunately for him, Leon liked it.