Nightmares were close to the only thing Chris Redfield had left, plagueing him in ways that would cripple lesser men with more than just bouts of ocular and auditory illusion (half-sane was as good as you were going to get from an operative this long in the shit). Something had hardened him at the beginning of it all, though, some great loss that had not only defined him but helped to make him resolute in his goal so that after ten years of odds that he could only (at best) survive but never fully topple, he could still slam a clip into his 92G Elite IA Beretta with an unwavering steel grip and stare forward at the light at the end of the tunnel. It had been easier when he could still harbor the idea as seeing it through to the end, though. Now the end was shady, the lines were not well-defined. Good and evil blurred and trust was hard to come by. A bullet in the head didn't make a thing dead and what had come out of the woodwork of the world, at the promise of genetic perfection and prowess, were mandmen who carried on the ideals of every previous person you'd put down. No, the real nightmares were not the stuff of dreams - the real lack of reprieve for Chris was in waking because reality, he knew, could be worse than anything his mind conjured in sleep, not just bad memories but the next, worst thing waiting for him around the corner. Monsters were real. Too real. And not just BOWs or viral mutigans, but cruel men who would sacrifice the world for power, men who saw lives as expendable towards research, men who were brilliant and cunning and could have been so much more than the melting, twisting shadows that danced across walls and flickered in and out of life like waning candles. They stood, resolute, in the back of Chris's mind no matter how hard he tried to convince himself that their time had come to an end. Those things of flesh and face, just shells, but all the same they denied him closure.
Chris pushes the sweat-wet linen off his legs and twists his body so that his feet hit the cool hardwood floor. His muscled arms strain as he rests his elbows on his knees and burries his face into his hands, trying to wipe away the dreams and the guilt and the heaviness that, he knows, never leave. There is no retribution for men like him, not after what he's seen. You could either accept it into yourself, try to reconcile it with the rest of your values and ideas, or let it destroy you. Some things were easier to reconcile than others, though.
The two points of red-yellow light that watch him impassionatly don't seem an immediate cause for concern when he finally lifts his head up and peers into the blackness all around. Another nightmare, he tells himself, one he has often but not because he was afraid of Wesker - whatever their end game had been it had never been about Wesker killing Chris (he had had the opportunity, and overlooked it, so many times that it was inescapably clear to Chris that that was had not been the goal). No, the red eyes in his nightmares served to remind him of the true, horrific reality of monster. To remind him of everything you stood to lose when you let go of your humanity - how easily everything fell to the wayside. How expendable previously important things became.
Chris has tried for ten years not to take it personally.
The red eyes, however, do not receed back to the dreamworld and it is not Albert Wesker Chris envisions behind them but the roiling, inky black tendrils of Uroboros. It seems almost logical, even, because monsters had a way of coming back even if Wesker, the real Wesker, had died long ago in a basement lab - it was, infact, what monsters did. It was always the ugliest parts that refused to die and always the inconsequentially pure things that were so delicate, so easily crushed and lost to time. Sometimes he mused that had he been able to let go of the latter then destroying the former would have been infinitly easier.
This is the fifth apartment the BSAA has re-assigned Chris to (operatives were constantly being moved, both for assignments and for safety). This particular apartment had been home for less than a month but already had twelve bulletholes in various walls (as well as one in the back of a chair and one in the ceiling where it had rebounded from the stove) from not-there things that Chris had taken aim at. Things that were always some form of Wesker: a wet tentacle, those same red-yellow eyes, the most severely disingenuine of smiles.
The eyes, however, remain unblinking, even against his consideration and efforts to remind himself that half the things he saw these days weren't real. But it is thick in the air, the more Chris wakes up, the beating-like-blood of something ominous and dark, almost electric in it's sinistry. Smells, too, like sterile flesh and labs and new leather, like the leather of Wesker's fiberoptic suits. The darkness, and the eyes, peer into him harder the more aware he becomes so that he can feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
Even before he moves he knows it is too late so that the surprise he feels when he lunges for the bedside table, for the gun he keeps there, is only half lived as his fingers scrape bare wood , only a momentary confusion before the red streaks in an ark of light and Chris feels his arm grabbed, used to pull him forward and to his feet, and then twisted around behind him painfully. Shirtless, he feels the hard, unflexing slick of rain-wet leather pressed against his bare back (and it is only then that the storm beyond his window registers) and a hundred posed, prone muscles that could end him before he can ask how or why (two questions Wesker has never indulged, anyway). The cold metal barrel of a gun is at his temple before he can expel a breath.
"Hope you don't mind, I borrowed this while you were asleep," the familiar, silky baritone informs him just a whisper away from his ear, but it isn't a threat with a gun, it is mocking knowledge of what Chris would do and having beat him to it. Mirth, black as it was, at having been one step ahead. Chris responds by hooking his left foot behind Wesker's leg and throwing his full weight backward. The two of them crash down to the ground together, a momentarily tangle of limbs before Wesker has Chris pinned on his stomach, one knee digging viciously into his back with a tsh of disappointment and the slide of the aforementioned gun into the back of Wesker's belt before he uses both hands to press down on Chris's arms, right above the elbow. Wesker, slight as he is, is impossible to buck and the harder Chris tries, throwing his arms back with effort to break the hold or kicking his legs, the deeper Wesker's knee goes into his back until finally, for lack of anything else he can do, Chris stills.
His breathing is ragged and hot with his face pressed against the floor whereas Wesker's is inaudible, like an elegant corpse.
"-The fuck, what the fuck?" Chris finally rages.
Wesker makes another noise, something like irritated amusement over Chris's poor vocabularly, but it is cut short. The gloved hands holding his arms tighten so that he can feel his flesh squeeze between each of Wesker's fingers in a way that he knows will leave hand shaped bruises and Wesker's body goes rigid at the muscle and, for a brief moment, Chris hears him breathe. It is something off, not an angry response to Chris's blustering but some kind of quiet fit that (unfortunatly) doesn't leave Chris any more hope of breaking free but causes Wesker to tense so hard that everything presses down on Chris painfully and he feels his ribs strain against the ground, the sheer force of Wesker's push so strong that any more will break bones.
Finally the barely there breathing quiets again, the hold loosens (only slightly) and the pressure bearing down on him lifts enough that Chris sucks in a breath to alleviate his burning lungs. Something wet drips on the back of his neck.
"You're going to help me," Wesker says tersley, getting right to the heart of the matter. "You're going to help me or - and because I know threat of death is wasted on heroes such as yourself, Christopher," And the weight on Chris's back rides up into his shoulders as Wesker leans over, mouth near his ear again. ".. I will destroy everything, and everyone you care about."
Chris isn't sure how much point there is in going for his gun. Honestly, every encounter with Wesker seemed to reveal a new stretch to the limits of mortality and if a goddamned rocket shot at Wesker while he was in a lake of lava hadn't killed him then Chris isn't sure his beretta is going to do much fucking good. It was a disheartening realization to know one battled insurmountable odds, certainly, and he must have shown it on his face, sitting awkwardly in the chair such as he was, starring longingly at his gun which Wesker had placed on the table between them as though to say go ahead. Well, he sure as hell wasn't going to do it if that's what Wesker wanted. Probably looking for another excuse to bruise up Chris's spine with his bony knees (One thing about Wesker is that he is not quick to violence without a clear reason, it seemed somehow beneath him, if there was anything to say to the man's credit).
Wesker seems to absorb the mixing emotions on Chris's face and he finally uncrosses one leg from the other and languishly stretches an arm along the back of Chris's couch.
"You could go for it, you never know. Though I rather think you should wait for me to turn my back and go for the P31 magnum in your closet safe. 8894, isn't it?" Wesker asks, reciting the passcode as though he isn't entirely sure. When Chris stares at him darkly in response he simply smiles.
"I don't know what you're doing here but I'm not helping you with shit," Chris finally says, his eyes still lingering on his gun.
Wesker cocks his head and brings his gloved hands to his knees, smoothes them back toward himself over the top of his thighs before he stands and moves around the table. Chris instantly shoots upright, to his feet, looking at the gun once longingly before he brings his fists up in front of him. Wesker fixes him with a queer look and then continues past to the dirty-looking fireplace beside them. He surveys it over the top of his sunglasses before bringing his hand up and, with a grimace of distaste, pushes one elegant, long finger against a ceramic santaclause until it topples over the edge and hits the ground in a shattering explosion of vulgar cheapness.
"BSAA not paying it's heroes much these days?" he asks of the decore, withdrawing his hand and pressing it smoothly back through his golden hair as if to soothe himself that some people lived like this.
"You fucking prick, that was a gift from Claire," Chris spits out, weighing the pros and cons of lunging for his gun or punching Wesker in the back of his head. In the back if his mostly immortal head. He bites the inside of his cheek until he tastes blood.
"Ah, yes, the little sister," And Wesker's face grimaces all over again. "One of those things I spoke about earlier, in the event you don't do just as I ask. But rest assured it will be mostly painless for you, just a nip at your insufferable do-good ethics, but I am ever positive you can make up for it in the years of vanquishing evil still ahead."
To this Chris squares his shoulders and tries to think of an elegant retort, falling short of much thought with Claire pressed with a threat.
"The fuck?" he finally says.
Wesker closes his eyes momentarily to thank the universe for saddling him with this most uncultivated of situations. As though he hadn't exhausted every other possible resource. As though he hadn't actually gone to every viable organization that would still have him and even tried to play nice. As though he hadn't put it off until the infection was fighting him on the hour. And with the lamenting comes another roll of red pain behind his eyes so that he sags momentarily against the fireplace, feels the whispy tendrils of the virus clawing inside and up his throat, threatening to spill out of his mouth against his clenched teeth. His skin taunts and slicks with immediate sweat and it is only by the second-skin optic suit that his skin is durable enough to keep from splitting open and giving over to the infection. His mind fuzzes, just briefly, with base instincts like feed and infect and hurt until it receeds like turbulent waters to the swells of Mozart's requiem, recollected lines from Fitzgerald's writing and complicated algorithmic equations that Wesker had learned to read like Dr. Seus when he was seven. His genius, and the bredth of his intelligence, pushes the virus from his mind. His will of steel banishes it back down to the cell and when the red behind his eyelids dissipates and he can see again he registers the muzzle of Chris's gun pressed against the base of his neck.
"What is this?" Chris asks, and his voice shakes.
Wesker smiles at his own feet as thick black sludge drips down his chin - spent cells, spent muscle, spent tissue that Uroboros destroys with every lashing-out and it is only by the grace of Wesker's regenerative abilities that it doesn't kill him. He can feel his organs splintered inside, but already mending.
But Chris had overestimated the crippled bow of Wesker's back and is, again, smashed into a wall in a blur and snap of movement and his gun clatters across the floor like the useless toy that it is. And it makes Wesker angry, then, in that moment, that Chris doesn't get it. That he has never understood that Albert Wesker is beyond his reproach, beyond his punishment, and beyond his simplistic firearms that served their purpose centuries before and were, now, all but obsolete in the coming new world order. Obsolete against gods such as Wesker himself. And yet he persisted. He should have been dead hundreds of times before and yet he looked his gifted-life (and it was a gift, every single time Wesker had spared him) and he persisted with his antiquated means that were meant for mortals. Chris fought him like he was fighting a human and it makes Wesker so angry, uroboros still whispering into his mind and making his anger uncontrollable and erratic, that he dislocates Chris's shoulder. Wesker only relinquishes the hold when the cry of pain from Chris's lips wakes him from his daze of hostile superiority.
He takes a step back, even as Chris slumps against the wall at release, his bones jutting out awkwardly and out of place, and balls his fist angerly because it was getting worse and he didn't have time for the usual games.
He spans the foot between them in a step and Chris winces, shows signs on his face of still putting up a fight, but Wesker spins him around without much concern over the matter and with fluid movements pushes the shoulder blade back into place at another protesting cry of pain.
"Uroboros is reacting poorly with the variations of the Tvirius that I've introduced into myself," Wesker finally rasps quietly. It is not in the spirit of gentle admissions of truth or weakness that he speaks, that he humors chris with more than his so-often sarcasms, but because he needs Chris to understand so he can make Chris help him.
" It is fighting me.. something I had not.. anticipated.."
He pauses, his hands still on Chris's shoulder so that he consciously removes them and puts them back to his side. It goes without saying that there is nothing Chris can do but listen.
"I can cultivate an antiserum to keep it in check until I find a more ...permanent solution.. but I will need a pure sample of the original virus and.. my usual methods are exhausted to me at the moment."
"And you think I can help you with that? That I would?" Chris finally looks like he understands the small amount of power he posseses, in that moment, and acts with it by leaning against the wall with his not-aching shoulder and fixing Wesker with an incredulous look. It unnerves him to appraise Wesker, though, because even with whatever is going on inside of him he looks no less threatening, self assured or arrogant.
"You're going to help me," Wesker informs, leaning in a little and dragging a leathery black finger across Chris's bare chest so that the other gruffly pushes Wesker's hand away with a haunted expression.
"Because if you do not I am going to go to 1287 Larkwood Lane and," he leans in closer, still, bringing his entire hand up to appraise Chris's throat and slide along his jawline in the most vague of sexual gestures, "and disembody the lovely, though very unprepared, Claire Redfield."
Chris stiffens but Wesker just smiles and, to clarify: "Meaning I will rip her fucking head off," he whispers with vile hardness.