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

spend your last heartbeat - Part IV: Veteran

Title: spend your last heartbeat
Fandom: Resident Evil
Series: these ink-stained memories
Pairings: Leon/Everyone. [Spoiler (click to open)]
Leon/Chris endgame

Warnings: so much pining and canonical violence
Word Count: 2487 (12,522 so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, Leon would get laid.
Summary: Leon always gets attached too easily.

Rookie
Agent
Soldier


After New York and Arias, Leon wants to pass out for a week. He's exhausted, bruised, and battered; even showering was painful and putting on his shirt seems far too difficult. So the agent is only half-dressed when Chris Redfield walks into the locker room. Leon would know those footsteps anywhere even if he hadn’t seen the man's reflection from the corner of his eye. However, the agent doesn't turn around. That would put his marks on full display and Chris doesn't need another reason to tear him into pieces; this mission proved that well enough.

So Leon tries to ignore the other man, hoping he'll get lucky and Chris will do the same. But the universe still hates him because the captain doesn't leave. He just stares at Leon until the agent wants to scream.

“My name is on your back,” Chris says finally, his voice cracking on the words and that's…. not what he expected.

“I've got a lot of names; don't take it personal,” the agent tells him quietly. The mark must be a new addition but Leon doesn't have the energy to panic and if he’s being honest, it’s not exactly a surprise. “At least this way I'll know if you ever need avenging. Though I doubt that I’ll be first in line.”

“But you hate me. Don't you?” the captain asks, sounding completely baffled.

“Why would I hate you?” Leon answers, twisting around so that he can see Chris’ face. The other man seems serious but the question makes no sense; hating him is inconceivable. “We're in the same damn business, aren't we? And you're Claire's older brother. She still thinks you hung the moon.”

“What about China?” Chris retorts. “Or, hell, this whole damn mission? It seems like all I've done is yell at you for days.”

“You had good reason,” the agent tells him with an awkward shrug, the motion pulling on his bruises painfully. “Bad day or not, I needed a good kick in the ass. I should have listened earlier. But look, can you save the lecture for tomorrow? Otherwise, I'm gonna fall asleep right here. I'm getting too damn old for this.”

“Jesus, Leon, I don't plan to lecture you!” the captain bursts out before reining in his temper visibly. He rubs a hand across his face and Leon's exhausted mind struggles to understand. The other man looks…. sad? And as much as the agent doesn't want to have this conversation, he just can't live with that.

“All right, how about brunch?” Leon offers and Chris' head snaps up.

“What?”

“You know, brunch? You, me, waffles, and a whole lot of orange juice? You clearly want to talk about this and I'm going to be starving whenever I wake up.”

“Yeah, okay, I can do that,” the other man agrees. He still seems a bit confused but he’s not lecturing or crying so Leon takes that as a win. “It's about midnight now so how about 2pm? That'll give us both a chance to rest.”

“Works for me. The DSO still thinks I'm on vacation so unless the world decides to end, I shouldn't get a call. Not for another day at least.”

Chris winces at his words and Leon's not sure why. Maybe he feels guilty about interrupting the agent's holiday? But Arias had to be stopped and it's not as though Leon had been doing anything productive. If Chris and Rebecca hadn't found him, he'd probably still be drinking away his pain in Colorado and his liver will be grateful for the break. Honestly, fighting zombies while hungover was bad enough the first time. After this he never wants to be that drunk again. He'll remember his squad sober from now on; their memories deserve that, just like all his fallen dead.

So Leon goes back to dressing, wincing in pain when he starts to lift his arms. He doesn't think to ask for help; he's used to managing. But the captain rushes forward to assist him anyway.

Chris is just being Chris, he knows that. But the other man is careful of his bruises, more gentle than expected, and Leon wants to enjoy the illusion while it lasts. It's nice to have someone fussing over him, though he shivers when strong fingers brush across his back. He's used to hiding all his names– by now it's practically instinct – and even Ada has never had the chance to touch her mark. But Leon is sure it's accidental. The captain wouldn’t fuck with him like that.

Once he's fully dressed, Chris insists on taking him to the infirmary. Leon tries to protest, but the other man won't listen and he's too tired for a fight. So he goes to make Chris happy, letting the doctor poke and prod him until she's satisfied.

When the woman finally lets him go, proscribing bed rest and an ice-pack, the agent wants to roll his eyes. He didn’t need a doctor to know that nothing’s broken, though he thanks her anyway. Someday he might actually require medical attention and it never hurts to be polite.

When Leon leaves the infirmary, he's surprised to find Chris waiting in the hall. He assumed the captain would have sought his bed by now.

But it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t. The floor is looking pretty tempting at the moment and if not for Chris, Leon might have passed out in the hall. So he follows the other man to a spare room, trying not to stumble too badly along the way. He may be utterly exhausted but he refuses to make the captain carry him.

By the time they arrive, the agent can barely keep both his eyes open. He mumbles his agreement when Chris says that he’ll call later and then staggers toward the bed. Leon barely even notices the click of the door closing before he collapses on the mattress and doesn’t so much fall asleep as pass out instantly.

---

When Leon wakes up, it takes him a minute to remember why his entire body hurts. He's black and blue from head to toe and still a bit hungover, but the agent knows he'll heal up soon enough. Considering the way that Arias was throwing him around, he’s lucky to be alive and sometimes he wonders if his plaga left a gift behind. No one should hit that many walls without breaking anything.

His head is still fuzzy as he stumbles to the bathroom; he needs another shower after sleeping in his clothes. Leon strips and washes off mechanically, unable to shake the feeling that there’s something else he’s missing. Something important that he should be remembering. However, the agent just can't place it, not until he glances in the mirror and sees the blocky letters scrawled across his back.

The name is unmistakable, Chris Redfield written in bold color, and last night's conversation comes rushing back.

“Ahh, fuck,” Leon mutters with a sigh. He doesn't care that he's in love with Chris. The man is as magnetic as his sister, an actual action hero, and one of the few people that the agent really trusts. Chris still believes that the world’s worth saving and Leon has always tried to live up to that example despite everything he's seen. The captain is kind and skilled and scorchingly attractive, his arms the sort of ripped that makes the agent's knees go weak. Leon loving him was probably inevitable the way that his heart bleeds and that’s honestly all right.

He doesn’t mind the mark but he minds that Chris found out.

As much as Leon respects the man, he's not sure the feeling's mutual. How can it be when he always seems to fuck things up whenever the captain is around? Case in point, their latest mission: Leon picked a bad time to get drunk and then Rebecca nearly died because of him.

While the other man is too decent to freak out, that doesn't mean he'll be happy about the agent’s feelings. Their relationship is bound to be more awkward after this and they still have to work together; it would have been better if Chris just stayed oblivious. The way things stand between them, being let down gently is the best that Leon hopes for and he'd rather get it over with as soon as possible.

So he’s dressed and ready long before Chris calls him, pacing back and forth with restless energy. When his phone finally rings, the agent nearly drops it in his haste to answer, “This is Kennedy.”

“Are you ready to eat?” the captain asks and Leon wants to tell him no. But he’s the one who suggested this whole plan of action and if he's going to be disappointed, he might as well have breakfast first.

So the agent agrees to meet Chris in a few minutes and then makes his way downstairs. The other man is already there and his smile makes Leon’s traitorous heart flutter in his chest. But he knows he’s being stupid so he simply follows Chris when the captain leads him out onto the street and starts walking purposefully.

After a couple blocks, the man stops at an actual restaurant and waves Leon inside. “As requested: brunch. You're lucky that we're in New York. Otherwise, we would have had to settle for a waffle house instead.”

Leon is honestly surprised that Chris went to this much trouble to find him brunch at 2pm. It's really rather sweet but the agent can’t afford to think like that right now. So he just fills his plate at the buffet and starts to eat, waiting for the other man to mention the elephant in the room. However, Chris seems prepared to talk about the weather and their mutual friends forever and eventually Leon just can't take it anymore.

“Look, you don't have to keep me company or be so…. so nice. I’m a grown man; I know this doesn’t make you obligated,” the agent says with a vague gesture toward his back. “I don't expect anything from you.”

That’s not entirely the truth. Leon expects Chris to take the out and run away as fast as possible. But instead the other man just frowns.

“Maybe you should,” he says, sounding strangely exasperated. “If you consider me a friend, you should expect me to be decent. I really do admire you, Leon. I know I've been crap at showing it but I want to do better in the future. So we should get coffee sometime. Or maybe just go bowling? It seems like we only ever meet up when the world's about to end or at Claire's crazy barbecues.”

“Seriously, bowling?” Leon has to ask. This conversation is definitely not going the way that he expected and yet there's something just so Chris/ about that suggestion. It's honestly adorable and he finds himself grinning helplessly.

“Hey, there's nothing wrong with bowling,” Chris retorts, smiling back at him. “It's a classic. Or is the great Agent Kennedy afraid to admit that he's uncoordinated? I bet you throw all gutter balls.”

“Are you serious? I've kicked your ass at cornhole ten years straight; I can kick your ass at bowling too,” the agent counters. He can’t help it; he’s always been competitive but the captain doesn't seem to mind.

“Then it's a date. We'll see who wins this time.”

“You'll be eating those words, Redfield,” Leon replies before his mind catches up with his ears. “Wait…. a date?”

“Only if you want to,” Chris tells him, his smile softening. “Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but I'd like to give this thing a shot. What do you say, Leon? From what I've heard, you make a habit of jumping off tall places. Want to take another leap?”

The agent wants to say yes. He wants to scream it to the world and grab this opportunity before he loses his last chance. But instead he hears himself reply, “I slept with your sister once.”

Leon can’t believe he said that. He claps one hand over his mouth, his face flushing with mortification as the captain stares at him in shock. But then Chris starts to snicker; the man laughs until his shoulders shake and he has to wipe tears from his eyes.

“God, you're bad at this,” he says, still chuckling.

“I'm sorry, I just thought that you should know,” the agent snaps, hunching in his chair defensively. “If we do this, you'll probably see her name and I didn't want you to flip out.”

“Hey, no, it's okay. I didn't mean it like that,” Chris tells him, reaching out to grab his hand. “I don't care about your past, Leon. I want to date the man you are, not the guy you used to be. Unless you're still pining after Claire?”

“Of course not. I love your sister and I don’t regret that memory but we're better off as friends. She has her own life now, far away from all this death, and anyway she's much too good for me,” Leon says and the words don't even sting. “Are you sure that you don't mind? It's not just Claire; I have a lot of names, Chris, and most people think it's weird.”

“Even the ones who love you?” the other man asks quietly.

He seems to be expecting some kind of revelation but the agent simply shrugs. “I wouldn’t know. No one has ever had my name before.”

“I think you'd be surprised,” the captain answers and Leon feels like he should be offended by Chris' snort of disbelief. But the fingers stroking across his hand soothe his ruffled feathers and he finds himself smiling instead.

“All right, Chris, let's try it. You can take me bowling and once I crush your high score, I get to pick date number two.”

He's still a little nervous that the other man will change his mind, that he'll see the names on Leon's skin and decide he wants a person who's more careful with their heart. But the agent is gonna risk it anyway.

There's no point in playing safe when he loves this man already and he wants to discover if the feeling's justified. He wants to know Chris better. Leon wants to meet the man behind the hero, the person that Claire speaks of so highly, and leaping without looking has worked out for him before. Sure he's crashed a time or two but the good memories outweigh the bad by his own reckoning. So Leon leans across the table to press their lips together and when Chris kisses back, the future doesn't seem as bleak as it did yesterday.



End

Tags: fic, leon-ship, poignant, post-series, resident evil, these ink-stained memories*
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