Antarctica-or-bust (rata_toskr) wrote,
Antarctica-or-bust
rata_toskr

spend your last heartbeat - Part III: Soldier

Title: spend your last heartbeat
Fandom: Resident Evil
Series: these ink-stained memories
Pairings: Leon/Everyone. [Spoiler (click to open)]
Leon/Angela, Leon/Buddy, Leon/Ada, Leon & Hunnigan, Leon & Helena

Warnings: so much pining and canonical violence
Word Count: 3268 (10,035 so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, Leon would get laid.
Summary: Leon always gets attached too easily.

Rookie
Agent


Angela sweeps those doubts away. She's a hero through and through, perhaps a bit reckless at the start, but the agent has to admire her spirit anyway. Angela is earnestness and bravery wrapped in a gorgeous package; she’s a leap of faith without hesitation and soft lips beneath the water as he breathes air into her lungs.

Maybe his immediate attraction is partially a reaction to Claire’s presence at the airport, but Leon doesn’t think so. Claire chose peace instead of battle and while he’ll always love her, he knows he’s not the man she wants. The two of them are friends now, nothing more, and he’s made his peace with that. He’s the guy who helps Claire coordinate Zombie Hunter barbecues when he has a break between missions, the one who kicks her brother's ass at cornhole every chance he gets. The agent has become the man who listens when Claire has a nasty breakup and honestly, she’s the only one outside of work who ever calls his phone at all.

So Leon doesn’t flirt with Angela just to spite her. He’s not chasing a reflection because he can’t have the sun. The agent honestly likes this woman and he fights to save her with everything he has.

With Claire’s help, the two of them search out the source of this new outbreak. The trail leads them to WilPharma and Angela’s own brother, but even when he’s overrun by the G-Virus, she never loses hope. Angela never gives up and Leon loves her for it; he’s always had a weakness for strong women kicking ass.

So when it’s finally over, when the outbreak is contained and her brother is dead and buried, Leon supports Angela through her grief as best he can. He knows the pain of faded names though none of his are family, knows that sometimes what you need the most is a chance to fall apart.

The two of them date for several months, finding time to be together in-between his missions and her job. It’s sweet and uncomplicated, the longest relationship he’s managed since Sarah crushed his heart, and the agent is grateful for each moment while it lasts.

Leon truly loves her but eventually Angela remembers that she wants a man who's normal. She wants to build a life with someone who didn't help to kill her brother and the agent cannot blame her for telling him goodbye. He loves her so he lets her go; he's getting good at that.

If his rebound involves Ada, a shitty date, and too much alcohol, Leon will never tell.

---

Buddy is different. Buddy is like a bruise he cannot shake. The man is calloused hands and burning anger, the ache of ropes around his wrist. Leon understands his need for vengeance but plagas aren't the answer. The agent can't accept that, not after all the years that he's spent fighting to protect humanity.

So Leon tries to talk to Buddy after he’s taken prisoner; he tries to make him understand. The rebel isn't evil, just hurting and misguided, and the faded name around his neck makes the agent ache with sympathy. He can see a good man underneath the fury, a good man turned to violence by despair.

Maybe that’s why Leon refuses to abandon Buddy and his comrades when he’s ordered to pull back. He won’t leave these men to die. So the agent stays to fight, going AWOL from his mission, but most of the rebels simply perish anyway.

One by one, they're slain by monsters and ganados, by the infection in their bodies and the outbreak that’s sweeping across the city like a wave. Leon cannot stop it and even seeing Ada doesn’t ease that knot of pain. At first the agent thinks that this might be her fault; she’s the one who deals in black market viruses.

But when she says this wasn’t her, Leon finds that he believes it. By now the agent thinks he knows what she looks like when she’s lying; she makes the same expression every time she kisses him and says it's the last time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she’s telling him the whole truth either and Leon doesn't bother to ask about her mission. He's certain that their goals don't coincide. Yet despite Ada's penchant for betrayal, experience has taught him to trust her information. So the agent listens when she tells him that President Svetlana Belikova is behind this latest outbreak. She's the one using monsters to fight the rebels in her country; she's the reason Buddy's best friend gets infected and Leon has to take his life. The loss of JD leaves the rebel even more determined to get revenge at any cost and the agent loses sight of him when bombs bring the building down.

However, Leon knows exactly where Buddy must be going so he infiltrates the palace on his own. He climbs down an elevator shaft to the main B.O.W. Control room and he's not surprised to discover that Ada got there first. At this point he's fairly certain that the woman can actually teleport. Leon's not even surprised when she takes her prize and leaves him to fight Svetlana's soldiers on his own.

However, the agent is caught off guard when Buddy crashes their standoff with a pack of Lickers, the creatures cutting through the president's troops easily. The rebel isn't here to rescue Leon; he just wants to kill Svetlana. But his arrival feels like a big damn hero moment anyway.

Indeed, a familiar itch crawls across his ribs when Buddy grins triumphantly. Although they still have their disagreements, the two of them are on the same damn side here and he wants this man to get his justice. The agent wants Buddy to keep smiling in the future like he's smiling right now.

But for that, Leon needs to take Svetlana into custody and the woman has no intention of surrendering. She activates far too many Tyrants for the agent's peace of mind, using them to cover her escape. Soon he and Buddy are fighting for their lives and he never thought that he'd be sorry to see a Licker die. Just this once, Leon works with monsters to kill monsters, an uneasy truce to keep them both alive.

The men use every resource they possess to fight the Tyrants: Lickers, knives, and elevators when their guns start to go dry. Buddy's hand is warm in Leon's as he pulls him free to safety – or at least the illusion while it lasts. Even tanks are not enough to save them when the Tyrants just keep coming and soon Buddy says that he should run. The other man is fading fast as the plaga grows inside him and he can't escape the monsters now.

But Leon just can't do it. He can't face another faded name, another good man down.

So he holsters his empty gun and pulls his knife instead. Maybe this is his last stand. Maybe the agent's luck has finally run out. But they'll live or die together because he won't abandon Buddy, not when all his instincts scream that the man is worth protecting, no matter what the cost. Leon has learned to trust those instincts after years of fighting B.O.W.s and when their lives are saved at the last minute by military intervention, the rebel proves him right.

Buddy asks Leon to kill him before the plaga takes control; he wants to die while still himself just like Manuela did. And once again the agent cannot grant that request.

Even though it's selfish, he can't do it. He cannot have that death upon his hands. So Leon shoots the plaga, severing Buddy's spine while leaving him still breathing, and he hopes the other man forgives his cowardice someday.

He takes Buddy to the hospital before calling Hunnigan and reporting that all the rebels died. The agent empties out his bank account to pay for the best treatment; it's not as though he has much use for money anyway. He stays as long as possible, waiting until Buddy wakes so that he can say goodbye. The other man is hardly lucid but Leon wants to say he's sorry and he takes Buddy's anger as no more than he deserves.

God it hurts to leave him there when he falls back asleep. Leon writes the man a letter, trying to explain all the things that he'll never get to say. He tells Buddy that the president has been arrested for her actions about his deception. Leon tells the other man that he's been given a fresh start and begs him to seize it with both hands.

You're a good man, Sasha, the agent finishes. Hate me if you need to, but please don't give up on your future. Remembering the ones you've lost doesn't mean you can't be happy. If you can't live for yourself, then live for them instead.

The words feel utterly inadequate. Buddy deserves more than one brief conversation that he probably won't remember and this crappy explanation. Leon wishes he could stay to help the other man build a new life from the ashes, but whatever his own feelings, he has no right to expectations and Buddy will be safer with him gone.

If Leon leaves now, his government will have no reason to keep searching for Alexander Kozachenko, not when Buddy is the name upon his skin. As far as his handlers know, the agent has never lied to them and he'll do whatever it takes to keep their attention far away from the Eastern Slav Republic. He knows the DSO would kill for a test subject who once held a master plaga; but they have Sherry and Manuela, he won't give them Buddy too.

Leon leaves the letter and his flask on the bedside table. That's his penance and his gift, the best that he can do. Then he walks away, trying to ignore the ache inside his chest as he calls Hunnigan. She arranges his extraction and when the plane arrives, the agent's heart grows heavier with every step he takes.

This shouldn't be so difficult. It's not as though anyone has trouble leaving him. But long after Buddy's country has disappeared on the horizon, Leon just keeps bleeding anyway.

---

The agent knows that he'd be lost without Ingrid Hunnigan. She's been the voice inside his ear for years, his mission coordinator and his connection to the outside world while in the field. Honestly, Hunnigan is the closest thing that Leon gets to backup on most missions and she's a damn good friend as well.

It took them time to get here. At first, he kept her at a distance, professional while on a mission and nothing off the clock. Sure the agent joked and flirted but he didn't really mean it; he was honestly surprised when she finally said yes.

Of course, Leon couldn't tell her that so the two of them went out for drinks after his next mission and it was awkward from the start. Neither one was good at small talk and the agent didn't want to jump straight into bed. Although he definitely found Hunnigan attractive, he also knew that colleagues made atrocious one night stands.

Thankfully, Hunnigan proved to be on the same wavelength. Leon was racking his brain for the words to end this gracefully when the woman said that she'd rather be his wingman and their night was much more pleasant after that.

Indeed, the two of them bonded quickly and now Leon considers her the best friend he's ever had. As much as he loves Claire, they rarely see each other and being in two separate time zones makes it hard to just hang out. But Hunnigan shares the agent's hours and bizarre sleep schedule. He can always count on her to join him for spontaneous movie marathons when he can't shake insomnia and soon they have a fine tradition of post-mission gossip fests. She gives Leon shit for every bruise while he snarks back about her outfits until the agent almost feels like a real man again.

Hunnigan is his rock, a better friend then he deserves, and he cares about her fiercely. Sometimes Leon thinks she keeps him sane, picking up the pieces after a dozen different outbreaks shatter him apart. However, the agent doesn't know he loves her until she hands him a letter from the Eastern Slav Republic, roughly four months after the mission that almost claimed Buddy's life.

“You'll probably want to read this by yourself,” Hunnigan says as Leon gapes at her in shock. “Just tell me if you want to send back a reply.”

The woman doesn't offer any further explanation but the agent doesn't need it. Her words tell him that Hunnigan has known about Buddy all along. Maybe not everything, but she knows that he's alive. She knows that Leon lied and she's kept his secret all this time. Not only that, but she's prepared to be the courier between them. Leon never would have risked a letter through the normal channels, not when he's fairly sure that the DSO reads all his mail, and he never would have asked Hunnigan to put her position on the line.

But she did it anyway. She took the first step on her own because she knew that he was hurting and Leon will never be able to repay her. Not when she's the reason that he knows Buddy doesn't hate him, though the letter also says that he's not forgiven yet.

Hunnigan has given Leon hope that he might be forgiven in the future, that he and Buddy might keep in touch and become good friends in time. There's no chance for romance, not with the roads they've taken, but friendship is so much more than what the agent thought he'd get.

Hunnigan could have ruined him with this information. She could have used it to destroy him and his daughters but she chose to help instead. Whatever issues Leon has with the DSO – and there are many – Hunnigan has proved that she will always have his back. After this the agent trusts her without reservations, all niggling doubts erased, and it seems fitting that her mark appears around the wrist that holds his radio.

---

Tall Oaks is a nightmare, seventy-thousand people dead in one fell swoop while Leon is saddled with a partner that he doesn't fully trust. The agent is only with Helena because she tried to give him warning and it wasn't fast enough. He had to watch the president turn into a zombie, had to kill a person that he truly did respect.

So Leon doesn't like Helena. He tolerates her presence because she keeps saying she has answers and he would work with literally anyone to find the evil bastard who caused this new attack.

At least he still has Hunnigan. Leon called her when the city went to hell around him and she agreed to help even though she's off the clock. Hunnigan acts as his and ears, leading the agents through the chaos, and her voice a familiar comfort as one survivor after another slips right through his hands. Helena keeps saying that he's wasting time when he tries to save these people, but Leon can't shake the feeling that she's the reason for his failure. If he had a better partner: Ada or Claire, Chris, Luis or even Krauser, maybe then he could have saved these innocents.

Leon wants to hate Helena when they reach the outbreak’s source and she admits she helped to cause it, though the evidence proves that Derek Simmons was the grand mastermind. And yet…the woman loves her younger sister. She only worked with Simmons to protect her and the man used Deborah as a lab rat to perfect his weapon anyway. Leon watches her heart break when her sister is past saving; he watches the name Debbie fade upon her arm and only a monster could feel nothing at her pain.

Helena may be a shitty partner but she's not a murderer by choice and when Simmons frames the two of them for this disaster, she's all that Leon has. Her and Hunnigan. The agent’s best friend never doubts him despite the evidence. She simply fakes their deaths and gives him the information he requires to keep chasing Simmons down.

Without Hunnigan, Leon would have been lost before he started and Helena Harper can't compare. But even so the woman starts to grow on him.

Maybe it's the seventh time she shoots a zombie off him or the fact that she doesn't give him too much shit about their plane's crash landing. Maybe it's the way she backs him up when they run into Sherry on the streets of Lanshiang, China and Wesker's son, Jake Muller, tries to punch him in the face. The kid is rough around the edges – very, very rough – but Sherry seems to trust him. So Leon keeps his temper and doesn’t put him down.

However, when the agent discovers that his daughter has been missing for six months and no one ever told him, he’s fucking furious. Everyone kept saying that she was on a mission when Leon tried to call her and he’d been starting to wonder just what was going on. But this is inexcusable. This is cause for murder in his mind. However, before Leon can find out which person needs a bullet, they're attacked and separated, leaving him with just Helena once again.

Yet it doesn't feel as strained now. It's them against the virus, against Simmons, and the other agent seems to grow more solid as they descend the rabbit hole. From fighting Chris for Ada – and ain't that a damn reunion – to finding Derek Simmons and protecting Jake and Sherry, Helena starts to be a decent partner after all.

When the whole city is infected, she's right there at his shoulder with a weapon in her hands. She doesn't even question his relationship with Ada, doesn't imply that he is compromised like so many have before. Helena seems to recognize his feelings but she accepts his judgment, even tells him to chase Ada when she saves his life again.

Leon appreciates the offer even though he cannot take it. He won't leave his partner in a war zone and he learned the futility of chasing after Ada years ago. She finds him when she wants to, loves him as best she can, and he tries to be content with what he has. The agent can live with stolen moments, kisses in the dark because he's too afraid to ask the woman if his name is on her heart. That way lies only madness and when he tells Helena that it's complicated, he thinks she understands.

Together they finish Simmons, clearing their names and completing their mission at a cost. With Jake's help, the C-Virus will be cured just like the others, but that will not bring back the dead. It won't bring back Chris' partner or Helena's sister or everyone in Tall Oaks that he lost.

Leon and Helena part as friends and colleagues, nothing more, and yet, when he finally gets home, the agent has to laugh. Because there's another name drawn upon his ankle: Helena Harper in a rich dark chocolate brown. If he can’t even work with a new partner without loving them a little, his heart is truly hopeless after all.



Part IV: Veteran

Tags: angst, fic, leon-ship, mid-series, resident evil, these ink-stained memories*
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