Oct 15, 2021
9 mins read
It felt like a break in between disasters.
There were news helicopters flying overhead, and Chris Redfield was man enough to admit that he was tempted to fire a warning shot right past them. He wouldn’t but damn, the thought was nice. Hadn’t those idiots seen that one BOW earlier throwing cars around like toys? It almost hit one of the BSAA helicarriers. One of their tiny ‘copters wouldn’t stand a chance.
For now, at least, the fighting was quiet. BSAA and DSO paired together to wipe them out, and Chris would have been grateful for the DSO support if he had known exactly why they were there. Instead, Leon had quietly hinted that there was something going on with this particular attack before heading for the lab.
Since China -- hell, since Edonia -- everything had seemed wrong. Chris wished Piers was with him, but he was still recovering and adjusting to his new prosthetic. Normally, Leon’s presence was a comfort, but the man had been too on edge when Chris last saw him, a wariness in his voice and shadows in his eyes before he slipped away.
As it was, he couldn’t find Leon, anyway. The BSAA set up their camp and the DSO had a tent for their operations, but there was no sign of Leon at either location. Most of the soldiers and agents were scattered throughout the torn battlefield, stained with blood and mud as they regrouped. There was the possibility of another lab in the area, and no one could clear out until the higher-ups were sure, so Chris knew Leon was around somewhere.
Filthy and exhausted, Chris didn’t give a damn about much beyond finding that familiar dark blond hair among the assorted agents and soldiers. He wanted to find Leon, both to find out if he was all right and to find out what the hell was going on. He hadn’t been able to touch base with Leon since immediately after China, and it felt like all of this shit was connected. If anyone would know, it would be Leon.
He also just. He wanted to see if Leon was all right.
In the mud, DSO agents and BSAA soldiers looked identical. Chris walked through them, nodding at familiar faces, too aware of that damned helicopter flying overhead. It felt like a vulture awaiting a feast following a deadly battle. He hated it.
He heard Leon before he saw him. Leon sat on a pile of bricks, leaning against what looked like it used to be a wall. He was dressed similar to how he looked in China, not quite wearing fight-appropriate armor, making Chris wonder what the DSO expected when they arrived and what Leon’s job was supposed to be. Leon spoke quietly into a DSO communicator, holding it with one hand and lightly gripping his left shoulder with his other. He looked tired, worn in a way Chris hated. He wanted to take Leon home. Hell, he wanted to go fetch Piers, too, take them both home, feed them and make sure they were okay.
Chris had lost so many people, especially in the last year. He didn’t want to lose them, too.
Leon noticed him slowly, too slowly for the usually sharp-eyed man. He smiled tiredly at Chris and let go of his shoulder to wave at him. His hand then immediately went back to his shoulder, so carelessly Chris didn’t think Leon realized he had done it. Another indication of his weariness. Leon hid his injuries like a wounded cat.
This, at least, Chris could help. Digging through his pockets, Chris pulled out a small heatpack. It was meant for gloves and boots in cold weather, but it would work for this, too. Snapping it once to activate it, Chris sat beside Leon and pulled Leon’s hand away from his shoulder. Leon eyed him but didn’t stop him.
“I’ve got company, Hunnigan,” Leon said, voice suspiciously droll. Chris felt like he was being mocked but didn’t care. Leon could mock him as much as he wanted as long as he didn’t stop him. “I’ll talk with you more later, so don’t pine too much.”
The woman on the other side sighed. Chris suspected this was a familiar exchange. “Stay out of trouble, Leon. I’ll see what I can find out on this side.”
“Understood. Kennedy out.” Leon snapped the radio -- or whatever it was -- shut and raised an eyebrow at Chris. When Chris started pulling at Leon’s jacket, the other eyebrow shot up. “Why, Chris. This is so forward.”
“Forward would be me doing this with your pants,” Chris retorted, not paying too much attention to their words. Instead, he listened to Leon choke on a startled laugh and carefully tucked the heatpack between Leon’s jacket and shirt, pressing against where he knew Leon’s old bullet wound was.
The laugh quieted into a sharp exhalation. Chris held his hand against the heatpack to keep it steady and pulled back. Leon stared at him with wide eyes. Chris just smiled wearily at him and settled on the bricks beside him. “One of these days, you need to get that looked at.”
Ah, there it was. A small smile, tinged with that old sweetness. Chris couldn’t remember the last time he had seen it. They had been fighting too long, their battles too bloody and too tangled. Like hell had the US government sent their agents here to help with a couple mad scientists. There was shit going on, and they were neck-deep in it.
That was a concern for later, though. Chris held the heatpack against Leon’s shoulder with his right hand and gently wrapped his left arm around Leon’s shoulders. After a beat, he felt Leon lean into him. Just a little. Chris smiled fondly. Stubborn bastard.
“It’s fine,” Leon dismissed, like Chris wasn’t holding a heatpack against his shoulder and like Leon wasn’t letting him. “It just gets stiff sometimes.”
With every moment the heatpack was on him, Leon melted a little more against Chris. A little stiff, Chris’s ass. But he knew better than to say anything.
He knew Leon was shot in Raccoon City. Claire told Chris that when she left him, they still hadn’t been able to do more than clean and bandage it. Always a closed-mouth asshole, Leon provided minimal details beyond it being in-and-out, back-to-front, and that it had taken days before it received proper treatment. The rest Chris knew from observation: it ached on cold days, now, and when Leon overused it. Chris had no idea what happened while he was busy in China, but he knew Leon had stressed it.
Leon was as beautiful as ever -- more beautiful to Chris’s eyes, if he was being honest with himself -- but this close, he could see the new lines etched around Leon’s eyes, the pained tightness of his mouth even with the heatpack.
He hadn’t told Leon yet that he had thought about quitting, how he might have quit, even, if Piers hadn’t been hurt. Looking at Leon now, Chris had no idea how he could quit as long as Leon was still in the field. Mud streaked his cheek, almost hiding the faint scar there. Another story Chris didn’t know. There was blood splashed on his jacket, but Chris was pretty sure it wasn’t his. He looked every inch the exhausted soldier, no matter is title.
Somehow, Leon’s hair remained perfect. Bastard.
“Yeah, yeah,” Chris said, just to say something.
There was shit going on, and Chris hated it. Something more was going on with this attack and it was being hidden. He knew there was more to China and Edonia than he had been told, and he hated that no one told him why his people had to die like that. He knew shit was happening and it was adding more shadows to Leon’s already tired eyes and he hated that all he could offer was a heatpack to Leon’s sore shoulder.
His people were hurting and Chris hated it, hated being helpless.
The people he loved were hurting.
Leon leaned against him a little more, heavy head brushing Chris’s shoulder. He knew Leon. Soon enough, the man was going to get back up, shake himself, and act like he couldn’t be hurt, like nothing could touch him. That shine would fade from his eyes again, and he would be as untouchable to Chris as Piers was, hours away and hurting in his hospital room.
Chris always hated being helpless. “You’re due for a vacation,” he announced.
Leon tilted his head, looking at him through his long bangs. He looked amazing like that. Hell, it was Leon. He always looked amazing. “Oh?”
Chris nodded decisively. A plan slowly formed in his head. “Yeah. Have you been to see Piers lately?”
Looking bemused, Leon shook his head. “Not since my initial visit. They’ve kept me busy. Chris --”
Chris plunged on before Leon could try and talk his way out of this. “He hasn’t had many visitors. Due to how classified everything is, they haven’t even let his family come visit. He would love to see some familiar faces.”
Yeah, there it was. For his own sake, Leon would resist a vacation but for someone else? “I don’t know if I would be a comfort. He barely knows me.”
Chris had him. “All the better. He could use some more friends in the field. It’s strange not having you know my second-in-command, anyway, man. You’re family, and he’s practically family by this point.”
Family. Chris wished for more than that, but one step at a time. For now, it was worth it for that small smile. “I suppose I’m due for a break after all this.”
Leon was due for a hell of a lot more than a simple break. “It’ll be fun,” Chris said. “I think I owe you French toast or something, right?”
There. The small smile grew into something sweet and faintly mischievous. “And eggs. And bacon. And --”
Yep. Chris had him. Beaming, Chris squeezed Leon’s right shoulder, keeping the heatpack steady on his left. “It’s a date.”
Well, not yet, but Chris was due for his own break, after all.