The night crawled so slowly that Piers had to check his watch twice to check if time passed at all. He eventually gave up and threw a blanket over the bloodstains on the couch, but he still couldn’t bring himself to sit on it. When Chris left Leon’s room, pale and haggard, he refused to sit on it, as well. There was another couch on the far side of the living room by the fireplace and a recliner, as well as chairs scattered everywhere, like Leon expected his safehouse to house a small team. Piers sat on the opposite couch but found himself unable to lie down and sleep. Chris sat in the recliner but didn’t lean back, instead resting his elbows on his knees and hunching forward.

“He’s sleeping,” Chris said, sounding as tired as Piers felt. “He was a little warm, so we should keep an eye on it in case he grows feverish.”

We. Piers stared dully at the fireplace. Logs were stacked inside, just waiting for a fire. Everything in the safehouse seemed set up for immediate use. Why did Leon feel the need to have this place ready? Did he have more scattered around the country? What other secrets did Leon have?

“It wasn’t just an attack. It was an assassination attempt.”

God.

“That shoulder is going to take weeks to heal,” Piers said quietly. “If not months.”

Chris sighed heavily. “The first aid kit was completely stocked with antibiotics and herbs. Hopefully that’ll help speed things along.”

Piers rubbed his face and then dropped his hands in his lap. He couldn’t see the blood under his nails, but he could feel it, just like he could forever feel the scars from the C-virus in the underwater facility. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hurt so badly.”

To Piers’s surprise, Chris laughed. The sound was harsh, bitter, too reminiscent of China. “Yeah, well, when Leon gets hurt, he hides. He hates people seeing him bleed.”

Piers thought back to the hotel in Colorado and barely bit back a flinch. How many more times had Leon done that and then greeted Piers with a smile at their next meeting?

Fuck. Piers’s heart hurt.

And so did his pride as he forced himself to speak. “She said that they wouldn’t just be tracking Leon: they’ll track you and hope you led them to Leon.”

Immediately, Chris scowled. It didn’t matter that they knew it hadn’t been Ada in Edonia. It had been her face, and for far too long, it had been Ada Wong they had hunted. Even without that crime, she was one of the few survivors connected with Wesker and had spent years working as a mercenary while the rest of them sought to halt the creation of more BOWs. Her smug little smirk didn’t help a damn thing. Piers waited for Chris to snap a response, scorn her advice entirely, but Chris didn’t. Instead, he glared at the dark fireplace, every muscle visibly tense.

“She might have a point,” Chris gritted out at last. It looked like saying the words physically pained him. “Leon’s been able to remain pretty secretive over the years, but we’ve been good friends for too long for anyone to not connect us. Hell, there were rumors a couple years back that he was actually my half-brother or some shit, when they’re not claiming he’s my lover.” He rubbed his face, growing more ragged by the second. “The second they return to the base without me, people are going to know that I’m with Leon. They’ll start looking, and Leon’s in no shape to be found.”

He went quiet, and Piers’s gaze returned to his fingernails. They were clean, two chipped, with small scars dotting the flesh of his right hand above the nails. Reminders of that awful time forever scored into his skin. “So what is the plan?”

Chris glanced toward the bedroom where Leon slept. That section of the cabin was eerily quiet. It made Piers want to check on him to make sure the man was still breathing. “If Leon feels up to it, we’ll get feedback from him in the morning. This is more his arena than ours. In the meantime, we rest. I have the feeling that things are going to get messy from here.”

Piers might have felt half-dead, but he would literally need to be a corpse to not recognize the gleam in his captain’s eyes. “You have an idea, though.”

For the first time in hours, Chris smiled. “Yeah. Leon’s not going to like it, though.”

Despite it being a nice turn around from earlier, Piers couldn’t quite shake his bad feeling about this.

xoxoxox

Dawn came far too slowly and too quickly at the same time. It felt like Piers had finally drifted to sleep when the alarm on his phone buzzed. His eyelashes seemed glued together when Piers forced his eyes open. Pushing himself into a sitting position on the couch was a Herculean feat. He felt hungover, and if it wasn’t for the nightmares about Leon plaguing what little sleep he had, Piers might have thought that he spent last night making the mistake of drinking with Jill Valentine again.

Even feeling half-dead, Piers recognized Chris’s snores. It always reminded him of a bear sleeping. More importantly, he recognized the feel of eyes on him. He started reaching for his weapon before a familiar laugh stopped him. “Seriously, how do you guys survive on missions? If they don’t hear your steps, they’ll hear his snoring.”

“Leon!” Piers gasped, jerking upright. His back screamed in protest, but he was used to it after too many missions sleeping on the ground. “You’re awake!”

Leon smiled wanly back at him, sitting on the blood-stained couch. It didn’t matter if Piers had covered the stains: they were still there, Piers knew they were still there, and he had no idea how Leon was able to sit there after last night. “It would take a stronger man than me to sleep through Chris’s snores.” Leon tilted his head and looked at Piers. “It looks like you couldn’t, either. Are you okay?”

Piers stared at Leon. The man was bone-white, the skin around his eyes so dark they looked bruised. He was dressed only in socks, what looked like boxers, and what had to be one of Chris’s button-up shirts: BSAA in bold letters on the sleeves and front chest pocket and too large in the shoulders. His hands were limp in his lap, and Piers narrowed his eyes at the lack of sling. “Am I all right? Are you kidding me? You shouldn’t even be up! Stay still for a moment. I’ll get you something for your arm.”

Leon sputtered something, but at last Piers felt semi-awake, shoving himself to his feet. The large first aid kit was still beside the couch. Long practice kept him from grumbling about stubborn idiots as he searched through it. He could still feel Leon’s eyes on him, like a physical touch on his skin. When he stood up again, Leon was smiling fondly at him, even if he looked like he could doze off on the couch.

“I’m fine,” Leon said, so confidently that Piers wondered if even Leon realized he was full of shit. “Don’t worry about me. How about you fill me in on what I missed last night?”

Piers almost asked what Leon remembered but caught himself. “Later,” he said. “When Chris wakes up.” He held up the sling. “This first, and then I’ll look for breakfast.”

Really, Piers should have expected it. Sometimes, he couldn’t shake that naive streak which made him think that the soldiers and government agents around him would act like adults. Instead, he spent far too long trying to get the sling on Leon’s injured arm, feeling like he was trying to corral a cat instead of dealing with a full-grown man. By the time he had the sling on Leon’s arm, Leon was sulking, Piers was more exhausted than ever, and Chris was awake, watching them with tired and amused eyes. 

“I wish I could have gotten that on video,” Chris said wistfully.

Thirty minutes later found them with Chris’s pancakes and some coffee in the living room. By silent agreement, it was decided that Leon shouldn’t move from the couch. For once, Leon didn’t argue, seemingly using up his last reserves of energy fighting off the sling. He dozed the entire time Chris made the pancakes and didn’t stir even when Piers surreptitiously tried to check his temperature. Still a little warm but not feverish, and he perked up enough to only look a quarter dead when Chris set up a tray for him.

“You and your breakfast foods, man,” Chris said, shaking his head and sitting down with his own breakfast. Leon only hummed and ate his pancakes with painfully slow but focused movements. Piers almost forgot to eat his own breakfast, watching Leon in fascination. He hadn’t known there was anything with Leon and breakfast foods.

Still, by the time Leon was done eating, he seemed exhausted. Leon didn’t protest when Chris carried his dishes back to the kitchen. He only stirred again when Chris pressed the back of his hand against his forehead. “You’re not my real mother, you know,” Leon said, not opening his eyes. “And at least Piers used a thermometer.”

Well. Piers thought Leon hadn’t been awake enough to notice.

Chris grunted, not looking happy with Leon’s temperature but not commenting on it. Instead, he pressed a bottle of water into Leon’s good hand. “Drink a little bit of water and then go back to bed, man. You need your rest.”

Leon huffed a breath and cracked open an eye. “No. I need a plan. Did you guys contact anyone after we arrived here?”

“No,” Chris said. He pulled up Leon’s sleeve and examined his arm, then nudged the bottle of water in Leon’s hand. Rolling his eyes, Leon obliged, taking a drink. Piers watched the pair, fascinated. He considered himself a friend to both men and had become closer with them after China, but he rarely saw them out of the field, and certainly never like this. It seemed like they were always working, always focused, always preparing for the next fight. Watching Leon rouse himself for pancakes and seeing Chris fuss over Leon was an unusual experience. “Not sure if that means shit, though. Ada Wong found us easily enough.”

Leon made a motion like he was going to wave it off, only to grimace and tuck his right arm close. “Yeah, well, that’s Ada. She’s a different case. Any chance of your electronics being tracked?”

“What electronics?” Piers asked drolly. 

“We sent most of our gear on ahead with the others,” Chris clarified. He nudged Leon’s arm again, and Leon dutifully took another drink of water. “We kept only necessary items.”

Leon sighed and rested his head back on the couch. He looked ready to drift off again. “All right. I need to contact Hunnigan, give her a sitrep.”

Goddammit, Ada’s words wouldn’t stop playing through Piers’s head. She was long gone and she still pissed Piers off. “Can Hunnigan be trusted? Ada said --” Piers shut himself up before he could finish the sentence. Ugh. Just saying that made him feel dirty.

Chris grimaced. Barely moving his head, Leon raised an eyebrow at them both. “Ada said?”

Piers scowled. Possibly the worst thing about Ada was Leon’s strange trust in the woman. Piers had no idea what the fuck was going on between those two, but when Leon refused to trust a BSAA hospital, he trusted her, and without her, Piers knew it would have been harder to deal with the wound. It was infuriating. “That they’ll be tracking Chris to find you and they probably already know that we picked you up from that hotel.”

The hope that Leon would brush off Ada’s words died a quick death. “Yeah. Guaranteed. I trust Hunnigan, but there were too many people involved when FOS contacted you. When the helicarrier returns without Chris, they’re going to know I’m with him.”

“Only our two agencies would know that, though,” Piers argued. “Surely no one would --”

Leon sighed and closed his eyes again. “I put the bigwigs behind bars, but I wasn’t able to dig out all of the rats. All it would take is one person to screw everyone else over.”

“Yeah,” Chris agreed quietly. “All it ever takes is that one.” He sat beside Leon and Leon drifted toward him, eyes still closed. They both looked exhausted and worn, Leon’s skin still ashen, and Piers hated all of it. If they couldn’t trust their fellow soldiers, who could they trust?

“As long as you both keep your head down when you leave, though,” Leon continued, “I’ll be able to hide out here for a while.” There was a growing slur to his words, and Piers knew he wouldn’t be able to stay awake much longer. “Communication with Hunnigan should be safe enough, though --”

“Wait,” Piers interrupted. He stared at Leon, who couldn’t even keep his head up after being awake for an hour, who looked like a strong wind would knock him over. “What are you talking about? There’s no way we’re leaving you here alone. Or did you miss the gunshot wound in your shoulder?”

Leon laughed weakly. “Yeah. Trust me, there’s no forgetting it. But you two can’t stay here, and this isn’t exactly the first time I’ve been shot.”

If Leon thought that was a comforting phrase, then he had lost more blood than Piers had originally thought.

“No,” Chris corrected, and there was something in his tone that had Piers narrowing his eyes at him and Leon opening one eye. “I can’t stay here.”

“Chris --”

“Chris --”

Chris grinned, looking far too pleased with himself. “Piers will stay here with you while I lay a false trail. Congrats, Leon. You have your very own BSAA bodyguard.”

No. Leon did not like that. Leon did not like that plan at all.