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In which I figure out I can'y lose you (or the thought of it)

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This was supposed to be easy. This was supposed to just be a quick mission. Hunt down the target and keep him detained until someone came to pick it up. However, they needed to wait for their chopper to come to pick them up. It had supposed to be just that, it should have been simple and there should have been nothing to worry about. In all respects, nothing should have gone awry. Hell, he’d even been paired with the DSO’s star, Leon.S.Kennedy. He and Leon had first met through Claire, she’d gone through the same tragedy in Raccoon City and they’d managed to get along quite well, meeting a few times. To Chris, they were pretty close. And they’d even got caught on a few missions together. They made a damn good team if he did say so himself. Everything had been perfectly planned out, Chris had even come over-prepared because, in his eyes, one could never be too cautious.

But nothing was never easy when dealing with B.O.W's.

Hunting down their target had gone without a hitch. He'd had samples of things no one wanted out in the world to cause more problems for them. And they'd taken care of the few zombies and monsters that they encountered while looking for the man. And the few days spent with him in their custody while waiting had been slow, but uneventful. There wasn’t much sleep, however. After that, they'd gotten a few days of rest. Chris had let out a relieved sob that he knew he would deny later, and after settling down, they had tried to get some sleep. In which Chris had barely slept, and Leon had spent almost all of it sleeping. Chris had watched him for a while, envious of his ability to sleep almost wherever, whenever he needed it.

Oh the third or fourth day of waiting, Chris had managed to get some sleep, much to his surprise. And although it wasn't the best sleep, he had still gotten sleep and he couldn’t complain about that. No matter if it was short-lived. He'd been awoken by a loud hissing sound that didn't sound at all human, or animal for that matter. Chris had heard bears, and wolves hiss and growl, this wasn't it. It was long and guttural and such a low sound that Chris didn’t know what could make a sound like that. It didn’t sound like any zombie or B.O.W he had ever encountered either He cracked one eye open and he growled, annoyed at being awoken

He opened his eyes and hissed. while it was perhaps not the best idea to take a nap midday Chris had really needed the sleep. And anyway, he figured the shade from the tree would stop him from being blinded when he woke.

Once Chris let his eyes adjust to the light he pinched the bridge of his nose and looked down. It had been Leon's idea, but since they didn't have any real camping equipment, they'd settled on the huge branches of an oak tree. It wasn’t much, but it was high enough off the ground that no animal could reach them. Or zombie for that matter. They should have been safe up here.

Chris looked up quickly and his eyes locked with Leon's. The man was settled on a branch above him and was looking down at Chris, his eyes surprisingly wide, he must have woken before him. Before he could say anything, Leon's head snapped up and his eyes narrowed. Chris followed his gaze to the tree canopy.

There was nothing that he could see, no monster, no... anything. Chris furrowed his eyebrows. Were they hearing things? Could they both have been hearing things wrong? He doubted it, but before any of them could say anything, a roar shook the trees. Flocks of birds took flight, cawing loudly and flying into the sky, forming a cloud of darkness before they separated in every which way. Without even knowing what this monster was, he knew it would be trouble. Chris looked to Leon, opening his mouth to speak but he paused.

And then the treetops shook.

Leon was on the ground before Chris's eyes had even left where he was looking. He followed the other man's lead, jumping to the ground and landing with a grunt. Maybe it was the lack of sleep or something else, but he wobbled as he landed, hissing quietly, thankful Leon didn’t hear.

Leon had already armed himself and looked at Chris, who stared dumbly at the forest until the treetops shook again. He pulled his pistol out, suddenly remembering remaining unarmed wouldn't be smart, and shared a look with Leon.

"What is that?" He asked. Leon shook his head.

"I wish I knew. Let's hope it's not too terrible?" He said, giving Chris a weak, forced smile. Chris knew that Leon was tired, that he wasn't necessarily up to the challenge. He couldn’t blame him. This wasn’t going to end well.

"This is what we get for working against umbrella," Chris grumbled, almost as if he wasn't expecting this. He knew this would happen. He knew this wouldn't be easy, it was supposed to be. But nothing was ever easy. Nothing even went well for them. Nothing ever went well for him.

A tree toppled to their right and they both spun just as something beyond what any of them had ever seen crashed through the trees, sending the trees on either side of it sprawling and flying away. Branches, roots and chunks of dirt whizzed past them, and Chris paled.

It was-

It was gross.

Chris had seen many, many monstrosities in his life. From the Arklay mountains to all the times that he got caught in some hellscape, this has to be one of the worst things he'd ever seen. It left him slack-jawed, terrified and feeling like he was no taller than a child.

Whatever monster this was, was like nothing he'd ever seen in his entire life, not once. It wasn't overly disgusting like some of the other things he had seen, but it was massive. It towered over them, about the size of the trees. The black hide that clung in patches on the skin, rustled in the wind that had now picked up. It looked almost like a horse, and it walked on four tall, wobbly legs that ended in stumps. Its rib cage was visible, intestines and guts and black gunk dripping from its bones and from the endless black that was its stomach. Along its legs, stone armour curled around them, and it's back, only visible because the monsters head was ducked down, was a writhing mass of skin and muscle and it made Chris gag.

The... monstrosity's head turned to look at them, it's eyes, all eight of them, bloodshot, wide and bright yellow locked onto the two of them. Two long, elephant-like tusks stuck out from under its jaw, and its bottom jaw was dislocated, hanging low and swinging wildly every time the monster moved its head.

But it didn't move. Frozen in place, the only thing moving was its eyes. Looking around, assessing the land and looking them over. Chris hated it, absolutely hated it.

"Oh yeah. That’s terrible. What in the everloving fuck is that." Leon asked. He took a step back, shocked, his eyes wide. He looked afraid, terrified even and Chris couldn't blame him. His knees felt weak and he hated himself for how his body betrayed him.

Chris couldn't answer for a moment. The only sound he got out was a shocked, weak, little chuckle. "I don't think our guns will be enough to take this thing down." He tried to joke but faced with this...thing. He didn't know what to do. It was almost certainly some mutation of the G-virus. Although he had never seen anything like this, not even the crows or those overgrown alligators could compare to this thing.

"I only count eight eyes," Leon said with newfound confidence, although it seemed to last only for a moment. Chris absolutely could not believe him or what he was hearing. "If there are more, all we have to do is get rid of those main eight and it'll probably be blind, to the point where it can't see us, at least." He added although Chris could hear the uncertainty in his voice. Chris didn't believe that they would even be able to blind this thing. Leon didn't seem to believe what he was saying either.

Leon narrowed his eyes and dug his heels into the ground, looking ready to break into a sprint at any given moment. Chris raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed. Leon was insane. That was it. He had lost his damn mind. But if false hope could keep him running for a while now, then perhaps he could use a little bit of false hope himself.

"There's no way we could fight that," Chris said breathless and dumbfounded at the idea alone. He blinked and then vaguely remembered the rocket launcher he just so happened to have, Leon had mocked him for it but it seemed it was the right thing to do. He shared a look with Leon, as if at the same time they remembered and both their gazes went back to the trees, to the extra pack that was on the branch Leon had been on. Chris bit back a hiss and he nodded at Leon. Well, if Leon had lost his mind, he guessed he had lost his mind as well because he was going with this too.

"I'm at a full clip, I can keep it busy until you get that RPG," he said. Leon opened his mouth to protest but another roar shut him up, they both turned to face the monster, horse, amalgamation...thing and found its head turned towards the sky, eyes closed. Chris bit his lip. What was it waiting for? Why was it taking so long to do anything? He frowned and crossed his arms, but after a moment, he uncrossed them and sighed.

“Go, you'll get to that pack way faster than me and you know it," Chris said. Leon didn't answer as he spun on his heels as he raced towards the tree. Chris turned his gaze away from him as Leon grabbed the first branch.

He turned, facing the monster and scowled, walking closer to it, stopping a good ten feet away. There was no sound, only the rustling of the wind and his heart hammering in his chest. It felt as if the forest had gone dead quiet. He leaned his head back, looking up at the monster and his scowl deepened. This was going to suck. But oh well.

"Hey!" He screamed. The infected opened his eyes, they all locked onto Chris and it slowly lowered its head. Too close, it was too close, he could feel the monster's breath, could smell the rancid stench coming from it. He wanted to throw up. Chris shuddered, trying not to cower as he met the gaze of those eight disgusting eyes. It blinked a few times. He held its gaze narrowing his eyes frowning and it. A low rumbling sound echoed through the air.

"You just had to make everything so much harder for us, didn't you?!" He snapped, knowing what he was saying was stupid and dumb and Leon would nag him about it later, if- when they made it out of this, but he didn't care.

The infected seemed to take offence to this, it pushed itself onto its back legs, before slamming it's front stumps back down, shaking the earth with an ear-shattering scream, how it even did that with its jaw hanging low, Chris didn't care. He staggered backwards as to not get crushed but he managed to not get squished like a pancake and managed not to fall.

With shocking precision, even for him, Chris raised his gun and fired two shots into its face. They both found their mark in the monsters biggest eye and it reeled back and threw his head backwards, screaming once again, the sound going higher in pitch. Chris brought his hands up, covering his ears and screaming at the sound. God, if this kept up, his ears would start bleeding. He fell to one knee for a moment. When the sound ceased Chris didn't wait, firing more slugs into the things eyes, and exposed parts of the skin on the legs, hoping to weaken it. Doing whatever he needed to. With every shot the monster slammed it's stumps down, shaking the ground and rattling the trees. Chris barely heard Leon's shouts of shock as he stumbled and caught the weapon bag before it could fall.

Chris didn't know when Leon got down and he barely caught sight of Leon beside him before he was emptying his clip into those huge bloodshot eyes, finding both satisfaction and disgust as puss and some kind of nasty looking liquid sprayed from its eyes. He raised his gun, snarling at the click and he quickly slipped it into its holster and grabbed the rifle on his back when he heard Leon calling his name.

Chris looked to his side, expecting to see Leon there, but finding that he wasn't. For a moment, panic washed over Chris as the worst came to mind. But it wasn't possible as Leon had been by his side a moment before and the monster hadn't yet gotten to him. He was about to shout for his partner when suddenly, movement caught his eye. He turned his head again, eyes immediately locking with Leon's and his jaw dropped a smidge.

He'd flanked the monster-

Why that- that clever bastard. Chris could barely hear him over the sound of the ground shaking and splitting or the roaring, but he got the message. Let Leon take of care its eyes with the RPG and check for eyes on its back, that had to be it. If Chris was reading the situation right. That had to be it. A simple enough plan. As long as neither of them got squashed by its stumps, or crushed by its jaw as the monster leaned it's head back and slammed it onto the ground. Chris was amazed every time it did it that its jaw didn't come clean off. He half expected to see it come off, to split from the monster body with some kind of sickening crack, and he found himself disappointed when it didn’t.

Leon shouted something again, but this time it wasn't for Chris. It was to get the monster's attention and it slowly turned away from Chris. Its movements were slow and Chris was annoyed with how much they were struggling to kill a monster moving just a little faster than a damn sloth. They monster faced Leon and Chris’s eyes locked onto a part of armour by the monster's right hind leg. There. Right there. If it couched down or even bent down to try and squash Leon, he could grab onto that and get on the monsters back.

Leon rolled away and dodged all the attacks that were thrown his way and Chris found himself unable to look away for a moment, he couldn’t take his eyes off the younger man. He tried to not let himself be too shocked with Leon and his agility, bringing in gymnastic moves to dodge what he could. Chris tore his eyes away from him. If he got distracted by the man then he would most definitely cost them both. Chris sunk lower a little and he narrowed his eyes as Leon did the same, mirroring his stance and holding up the RPG. This caused the monster to stall, to paused and in that moment, Leon took the opportunity. He screamed something but Chris didn’t hear him. There was a moment of silence before the explosion and the pained roar of the monster as the shell hit it straight in the face. The monster staggered back, leaning down on its stumps and Chris saw his chance and took it. He broke into a sprint, and almost launched himself at the exposed handholds of the monster's armour.

The monster swayed and he almost fell but he eventually managed to get a good grip and pull himself up, quickly climbing up. He reached the top and Chris hissed and dropped into a crouch. Gripping the disgusting flesh on its back and trying his best not to throw up. Chris stood up and looked around, he took a few steps forward, gagging at the squelching sound with every step he took. When Chris reached mid-back on the monster he felt like maybe, perhaps he was just imagining the worst. In the middle of its back, double or three times the size of a manhole, was another, single bloodshot, bright yellow eye, staring at him. He gulped and loaded his rifle, pointing at the eye. It’s pupil dilated to just a small point and Chris looked over his shoulder. He couldn’t delay.

“Leon!” He called, he didn’t know if the other man had heard him or not but he didn’t care. He needed to inform him of this. “There’s another eye! It- It’s huge!” He didn't wait for confirmation that Leon it hurt him before he pulled back the trigger on his gun. He emptied his clip into the eye, relishing in the screams and screeching of the monster. He roared right back it, making a face at the puss and gunk that spewed from the eye. Gross. But seeing it was satisfying, he was killing it he was doing it. Or he thought he was; He had to pause a few times to not lose his grip and fall off the monsters back and to reload his clip.

“Chris!” Leon screamed and he turned his head to look at him. Leon had scaled a tree and was on the tallest branches of the tree closest to them. He still had the RPG in one hand. And Leon was crouched at the base of the branch that connected to the trunk, looking ready to run. But it was too far for him to make the jump on his own. Chris understood immediately and quickly ran close enough to the edge to catch Leon. With surprising speed, even for Leon, he was already at the edge of the branch, using some of his momentum, he flung himself to get to Chris, who was half leaning off the side. He caught Leon’s hand, curling his own around Leon’s wrist. Fingers closing with a vice-like grip and for a moment, they just stayed like that, Leon hanging over the edge of the monsters back and Chris holding him up, their eyes locked. Chris blinked and quickly yanked Leon up onto the back with him, who gracefully somersaulted into a crouch. He looked over his shoulder at Chris and smiled.

Leon breathed out a relieved sigh. “I knew you’d catch me.” He mused and Chris barked a laugh.

“As if I would ever drop you.” Chris smiled and held out a hand for Leon, he took it and Chris quickly pulled him up with barely a grunt. Leon pulled away and grabbed the RPG from where he'd dropped it, and aimed it at the massive eye. How Leon had managed to make the jump with the weapon taking up one of his hands, Chris didn't know. The monster screeched and Leon gave it no time to do anything before he scowled and fired another shot of the RPG into the massive eye.

The eye exploded, absolutely exploded, puss and fluid flying every which way. Leon smirked and Chris couldn't hold back a victorious shout.

With a long, relieved sigh, he planted his hands on his hips. The monster swayed before one of its legs bent sideways. It sent the monster toppling down in a massive, rising cloud of dust and debris with a screech that had Chris losing his balance and falling to one knee, bringing his hands up to cover his ears. Leon, somehow, someway, was still standing and Chris didn't know how he managed.

When the monster stilled and the cloud of dust slowly disappeared, Chris pulled his hands away from his ears and looked around. Where the massive eye had been, was now a crater of black liquid, most probably blood, that was bubbling and almost seemed to be boiling. Chris grimaced. “Gross.” He hissed and Leon made a quiet grunt of agreement from where he was now sprawled on the monsters back. While Chris' eyes were closed shut he must have lost his footing. All was silent for a moment before Chris blew out another relieved sigh and looked to the sky.

“Look at that,” he said breathless, almost dumbfounded, shocked they had even managed. “We did it.” Chris almost wouldn’t have believed himself if it weren’t for the fact that he was standing on the back on the corpse himself.

“Did you doubt our abilities, Chris?” Leon teased with a cackle. It was such a rough sound for him to make but they were both out of breath. Chris scoffed playfully but there was an edge to it. Our. Not mine, or your abilities, but our. It gave him a funny, but an otherwise happy feeling.

“No. Of course not. But to be fair to me, maybe you have, but I’ve never fought something of that size, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a monster that big. It’s some kind of mutation but I’ve never seen anything mutated like that.” Chris murmured and he looked towards the horizon. The sun was beating down on them, although it slowly was starting to go down. Leon grunted but Chris ignored him for the moment.

Leon hummed "I nominate to call it the…" he paused for a moment, thinking on a name. "Stallion." He finished. Chris barked a laughed. A basic name but hell, it was better than anything he could come up with, and at least he'd have something to call this monstrosity.

There was a moment of silence before Leon spoke again.

“Not to be a buzzkill, but we should get going,” Leon said. “The chopper should be coming anytime now. It's also getting late." He finished, his voice was quiet, exhausted and when Chris looked over at him, he'd made no move to get up. His chest heaving. Chris chuckled and walked over to him.

"Nah I get it. I never want to see this thing ever again." He laughed gently, holding out his hand. How many times would he have to pull him up? Chris didn't know. But he would never mind. Leon closed his eyes as he grabbed Chris's hand and pulled himself up with a little bit of help.

As Leon turned on his heels with a glare at the monster's body, a low sound made them both stop in their tracks. The sound was barely noticeable, but it slowly got louder. The sound shaking the leaves and sending any remaining birds into the sky. The sound was growling, low and animalistic, unlike the sound that had originally woken him. It was much lower, much rougher like it was being pulled from the very back of someone's throat. Leon slowly turned back to face the monster, Chris followed his gaze.

"You've got to be shitting me," Chris muttered.

Could they not have one good win without having to fight the damn thing again? Nothing could ever just keel over and die, could it? Of course not. The monster was still alive, and although it made no move to get up, it was currently leaning its head towards the sky. It didn't stop though. As if there were no bones in its neck, it completely bent its neck back so that it was looking at them, one eye, the second biggest of all of them and the only one left, was locked onto them. Its jaw was hanging below it, right in front of its forehead and all Chris could do was manage a half-assed noise of disgust because frankly, at this point, he was just tired of having to deal with this kind of stuff. He wasn't mentally stable enough for this, he needed breaks and vacations and never got anything, so being thrown into another mess with this- the Stallion - really wasn't fun.

"Leon-" he started, but Leon had already armed himself with a rifle, holding down the trigger and screaming as he fired, not stopping until the click of the gun told him he was out of bullets. The Stallion had nothing it could do to protect itself from all the bullets as they found their mark in its disgusting eye. It screeched and when its head slumped forward, slamming into the ground with a long quiet sound that resembled a whimper, Chris barely had time to react before Leon was gripping his wrist and pulling him away.

"I severely doubt that's it's actually dead. Knowing Umbrella. We're not risking it. Let's go." He said, his voice sounding more annoyed than anything else, though there was something else, it sounded like terror but Chris couldn't place it. But Chris couldn't fault him. He tried his best to keep up with Leon, but the other man didn't let go over his wrist. Only once they were a good ten minutes away from the corpse did Chris attempt to pull his hand away.

"Leon." He said softly.

"Chris?" He asked looking over his shoulder. Chris gently pulled on his wrist and Leon’s eyes went wide for just a moment before he let go of Chris’s wrist murmuring something that Chris didn’t catch.

"It's alright." He told him anyway with a smile. Leon nodded stiffly and he sighed as he turned around and kept walking. Chris did struggle to keep up with Leon on a few occasions, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. Even if he'd just take down one huge monster, he didn’t mind a challenge, no matter if it was keeping up with the fed-up agent.

 

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By the time the sun was down, Chris didn’t know how much progress was made, but he severely doubted it was much in all honesty. Leon had been beyond exhausted and looked ready to fall asleep on the spot. On a few occasions, he’d leaned against Chris for support. They had taken a few breaks, much to Leon’s dismay. He had insisted they keep moving, no matter what. Chris had forced him to take breaks, telling him to rest, to not push himself too much, but Leon didn't seem to be too pleased with that. Despite all that, they'd gotten into contact with their pilot and had decided on a meeting point and time. They needed to get there by midnight, and once they did, they'd get back into contact with their pilot. That was perhaps why Leon seemed so annoyed at taking all these breaks. They still wore both their earpieces, however.

“We’re wasting time, Chris.” Leon huffed with a pout after only their second break. “Can’t we just get going? I’m not gonna die, I’ve survived worse.” He complained. Chris frowned and crossed his arms, looking at Leon. As much as the man complained, he never got up and always sat with Chris. Leon seemed fine now, but he was getting very annoyed and tired, Chris knew it.

“You’re pushing yourself too hard, Leon,” He said, a little too dryly, and Leon scowled at him as he crossed his arms, looking away. “And very much acting like a child. If you don’t want to sit and get some rest, then I’ll carry you.” He said with a sneer. Leon scoffed. This annoyance and easily getting bothered was out of character for the both of them. Chris wasn’t entirely sure why they were acting like this.

“Absolutely fucking not.” He said, annoyance dripping from his tone.

“Why are you so impossible! Do you want to die?” Chris snapped, throwing his hands up in exasperation. Leon flinched and blinked. Chris’s outburst seemed to take Leon by surprised. But his surprise was quickly replaced with a deep scowl and annoyance as Leon pushed himself up from where he was sitting. He stomped over to Chris and crossed his arms again.

“I’m not going to die!” He snapped back at Chris. “I’m not made of glass, Redfield. Stop treating me like a baby!”

“I’m only being cautious, have you seen yourself, Leon? You look like death!”

“So what! It's not like I'm going to die! Why are you even acting like you care!” Leon hissed at him, pointing an accusing finger at his chest, right above his heart. Now it was Chris’s turn to be shocked. He opened and closed his mouth, like a fish and after a moment, Chris understood what Leon meant and anger washed over him.

“Are you saying I don’t care?” Chris seethed, voice deadly quiet. Leon laughed, a terrible, mocking sound and planted his hands on his hips

"I'm pointing it out! You don't care! So stop acting like you do!" He shouted. Chris blinked, suddenly taken aback by Leon's outburst even though he was the reason he was yelling in the first place.

Hurt flashed across Chris's face before he could even stop it and control his emotions. He didn't care that Leon was yelling at him, but what he did care about was that Leon didn't think he cared. That hurt. Because he did care. He really did. Leon seemed to notice his expression a moment too late and Chris huffed softly as he turned to grab their bags. He walked past Leon, who grabbed his wrist as he did. Chris yanked his arm away like he'd been burned.

"Chris I-"

"No. You're right, we shouldn't waste time let's go. Our ride is gonna be here soon, we need to get to the rendezvous." He said, voice strained. Leon bit his lip and reached out to Chris again, he pulled away again.

"Chris, please that’s not-"

"Forget it, Leon, it's doesn’t..." Chris started, but he trailed off as a rumbling sound echoed in the air. The entire sour mood of the situation was quickly replaced with dread. Leon went stiff. The ground shook and Chris heard Leon curse.

"Tell me that's not what I think it is." He whispered, voice pleading.

The all too familiar screech of the Stallion that rang out was answer enough to Leon's plead. Chris didn't even bother to answer him. Leon cursed again.

Chris didn't necessarily know what to do, and he didn't do anything when Leon grabbed his wrist and started dragging him away again, starting to run.

"We need to hurry. It doesn't know where we are and the rendezvous point is close. If we're lucky we won't have to deal with it." He said, looking over his shoulder, his voice laced with panic. Chris just nodded.

Leon was quick, dragging Chris along, weaving in between the trees and running like a man with a mission - that mission to get to the rendezvous spot without being caught - and Chris looked over his shoulder every now and again, almost tripping over his own feet when the monster entered his field of vision.

Even in the dark of the night, it was impossible to miss The Stallion. It stuck out like a sore thumb, towering above the trees. It was moving slowly, each step it took shaking the ground, but it was quickly advancing closer to where they were. To Chirs’s horror, The Stallions jaw wasn’t hanging low, it was re-attached, opening and closing partly, hissing and making disgusting growling noises. How was that even possible? It shouldn't be possible. It was swinging its head from side to side, looking for something. Looking for them, Chris realized.

It swept its gaze over where they were running and his breath hitched, but it didn’t seem to notice them and it quickly swung its head in the other direction.

It didn’t see us?

The realization hit Chris like a truck and he yanked Leon to a stop, earning a glare from the man. Je opened his mouth to hiss a complaint at him but Chris shut him up, placing his index in front of his lips and narrowing his eyes.

"Look." He whispered to him pointing to The Stallion. Leon scoffed but did so anyway. He waited and narrowed his eyes himself. He looked back at Chris with a confused look, cocking his head and he frowned.

"It's blind," Chris clarified quietly. "It can't see us." Leon heaved a sigh of relief and nodded stiffly.

"Good, good, that's good." He said sounding confused. He grabbed Chris's hand and looked at him. "We're still not risking it. We're close, so close. We can't risk it." Leon said, repeating himself a little bit, Chris nodded and looked over his shoulder.

"How close is Mack?" He asked. Leon smiled, but it never reached his eyes. Mack was their pilot, someone they had both come to trust over time. He always had their back. Leon was the one who had arranged for him to be the pilot, Chris didn't ask how. He should be close. They'd get out and away from this place and its giant mutations in no time. If- when they survived.

"Close. Let’s go." Was all he said before tugging on Chris's hand, tugging him along. Chris stumbled forwards, and much to both of their horrors stepped on a branch. Snapping it almost immediately.

It the quiet forest, it sounded more like booming thunder than it did a branch snapping. Chris went stiff. Oh god. Oh fuck. Oh no. Chris sucked in a breath, and all the colour drained from Leon's face as he looked back at Chris, horrified. Chris slowly looked over his shoulder. He had been expecting the worst, but seeing the empty eye sockets of The Stallion on them, his blood ran cold. This was bad. So bad. He looked back at Leon, whose grip tightened on his wrist.

"I'm sorry."

Leon broke into a sprint, never letting go of Chris's wrist. The Stallion let out a long roar before it launched itself towards them. Neither of them bothered to even dare glance behind them. And instead, they focused on running, just running. If they stopped, they died, simple as that. And they were so close. They couldn't die. Not now, now when they’d been so.

It wasn't long before the reached a clearing, open and wide, and they staggered through the trees. They'd gotten maybe fifteen paces into the clearing when The Stallion crashed through the edge of the trees. It stopped and looked down at them, and Chris risked looking over his shoulder, slowing down a little. His chest was heaving and even Leon stalled. A slight breeze picked up, ruffling that gross patches of fur on The Stallion. Leon tugged gently on his wrist. And before Chris could answer him or get moving, the whirring sounds of helicopter blades cut through the silence. Leon flinched and he looked behind himself. A spotlight turned on, searching around the clearing. The clearing where the rendezvous ended in a cliffside, that's where Mack was supposed to land. There or closer to the middle of the clearing. It didn't matter.

"There's our ride," Leon said, voice hoarse.

"Hello, boys." Mack's voice, thick with an accent crackled through Chris's earpiece. "Good to see you two are alive. Mind telling me what that monster is?" He asked.

"We're not sure. It's...some sort of mutation." Chris answered after Leon didn't answer. Through the earpiece, Mack snorted.

"Well, that’s just lovely. Where are its eyes?” He asked. Of course, Mack was observant enough to note that it lacked eyes. Not that it was hard to notice it had no eyes.

“We may have done that-” Leon started, but suddenly The Stallion threw his head back and roared, well, screamed would be a better term because it didn’t at all sound like a noise an animal would make. It sounded human. It shook everything. If that was possible.

Jesus Christ Almighty!” Mack cursed through the earpiece as he hurried to land. Leon was already tugging Chris towards the edge of the clearing. They would be alright. This was it. They could make it. Chris risked a look behind him, tugging his wrist away from Leon to run faster, and his eyes widened when, in a move that should have sent it toppling, The Stallion swiped at them with one of its stumps. It missed Leon by what felt like a mile but if Chris hadn’t fallen forwards, he knew he’d be dead. A sudden pain, however, bloomed at his side and Chris wasn’t entirely sure if it was him, or Leon who had screamed.

Pain erupted even more than before in his side as he staggered to his feet, but it seemed to fade as he forced himself to get up and to keep going. They were so close. So close. If he had an actual wound he could worry about it later.

If you two could hurry up that would be great. If we lose the chopper, we’re kinda fucked. Will and I don’t have weapons-” Mack started, panicked. Will must have been the co-pilot or something.

“Shut up!” Leon yelled as he reached the helicopter, the side door was open and he was half leaning outside, arm outstretched for Chris. He was yelling his name. He knew it, but over the pounding of his heart, and the blood rushing through his veins, he could barely hear.

Chris had been pretty certain that he had died. That the monster had swiped at him again and had reached him, but when Leon’s hand closed around his own, the way his fingers gripped his and the way Leon’s eyes were locked on his, those endless blue eyes shining with worry told Chris he hadn’t died.

It took a moment for Chris to realize Mack had taken off and Leon was the only thing separating Chris from falling to his death, down into the ravine where he saw the faint form of the Stallion plummeting. What had happened? He could find out later. Chris pulled his other arm away from his side and gripped the helicopter, pushing himself up as Leon pulled, and he collapsed onto the floor of the helicopter, chest heaving, before getting to his feet, going to grab his side again. Leon fell backwards and kept his eyes on the ground in front of him.

“Holy shit did you see that?! It launched itself at you!” Mack gasped. Chris scoffed quietly and leaned against the wall, holding his wound, when he pulled his hand away his heart sunk. His hand was slick with blood. His breath hitched

"Leon?" Chris said, voice clipped at the end, rough and broken. Leon's head snapped up to look at him.

"Chris?" He asked, concerned.

"I’m uh, I’m bleeding." He said dumbly. He swayed, leaning even more against the wall of the chopper, groaning as his vision started to get blurry. He heard Leon’s concerned shout, but he didn’t know what he had said. He slid to the floor. He barely heard, much less saw Leon drop to his knees in front of Chris, and he could barely feel the hands at his face before all went black.

 

_________________

When Chris awoke, he couldn’t decide what was worse, the throbbing in his head, or the throbbing in his side. All and all, he felt like trash and he hated it. He could remember just barely making it into the chopper and watching the Stallion plummet to the bottom of the ravine, and he remembered the wound he'd gotten from it. How inconsequential he thought it would be. He could remember telling Leon about bleeding and the terror he had glimpsed in his eyes, but that was it. He must have passed out. Blood loss was a bitch. And seeing as he was still alive, someone - most definitely Leon or one of the pilots - must have patched up the wound. Chris guessed that was the throbbing pain in his side the pounding in his head must just be a headache. A migraine would be distasteful to have but at this point, he found he didn't care. Not really. At least he wasn’t dead

He had been expecting to have to let his eyes adjust to blinding lights, or to the sunset as it lowered past the horizon, but then again, it had already been dark. He just assumed he’d sleep through it and wake the next day. But when Chris opened his eyes, it was dark. He found his eyes having to adjust to pitch blackness instead of blinding light, and while he was rather thankful for it, he had to spend a few uncomfortable and quiet minutes letting his eyes adjust so he could see more than just empty black in the darkness. When he was able to see more than just complete darkness, he blinked and frowned.

“Leon?” He called out. He could hear the whirring of the propellers of the chopper, so they were still in the air. They were still on the way back. Chris opened his mouth to speak again but a rustling sound stopped him. He blinked and looked around.

“Leon?” He called again, his voice raspy.

“I'm here,” Leon said, he sounded shocked, but clearly relieved. A moment later, the sound of a match striking rang out between them. Chris watched most of Leon’s face get illuminated in the dark by the flame and he then reached behind him to grab a lantern. With careful hands, Leon brought the match closer to the candle sitting inside the lantern and he watched as the flame sprung to life. Growing bigger and brighter and casting an almost eerie golden light over the inside of the helicopter.

"Are you okay?" Chris blurted sitting up quickly, hissing at the pain that bloomed in his side. Leon winced and frowned as he stood up to move and sit closer to Chris, crossing his arms and legs as he sat down.

"You're the one who just spent the past two days passed out and you're asking me if I'm okay?" Leon scoffed, but there was a playful edge to it.

"I'm alright. Are you?" He said after a moment, narrowing his eyes as he looked over Chris. His gaze lingered on the wound at his side for far longer than it probably should have. Chris shrugged and Leon snapped his gaze up. What he was trying to see in Chris, he wasn't sure. Was he looking for any signs of pain? To make sure he was okay? It was probably that. Chris sighed and rubbed the back of his head.

"I'm fine," He said with another shrug. Every little movement sent a little jab of pain through him, but he didn't say anything. Leon looked exhausted, but his gaze remained on him, firm and serious, Chris found himself squirming under it. "Did I really spend two days out of it?" He asked if anything to change the conversation.

"Oh yeah, passed out when we got on. Out like a light though I think you remember that much. I don’t know if it was the shock or if it was the blood loss that resulted in it, but frankly, at the moment I didn’t care. It may have been a mix of both. But don't feel bad, you needed the rest.” Leon said looking outside, with a sort of dreamy look in his eyes.

Chris made a face.

At his silence, Leon kept talking. “It... took a while to clean the wound, but I got it done. It was almost a little bit easier since you were passed out. You came to once but didn't say anything before passing out again. Spent the rest of it unconscious." Leon explained with a sour smile.

Chris had wanted to answer, but Leon kept speaking before he could open his mouth.

"I envy you. I couldn't seem to get any sleep." Chris blinked. Well, that was a change.

Chris grimaced, making yet another face. “Do you know how much longer we’ll be spending in the air?” He asked uncomfortable, basically ignoring what the other man had said, and trying to change the topic, again.

"I dunno." Leon huffed and crossed his arms, propping himself against a wooden crate, but he never took his eyes off of Chris. A few more moments of uncomfortable silence passed between them.

“You had me worried for a moment there, you know,” Leon whispered, unprompted. His voice heavy with something, what it was, Chris was unsure. He didn’t know what to say and for a moment, all he did was look at Leon, lips slightly parted but unsure of what to do.

Chris blinked and swallowed, but his throat was dry and he made a face. “I- sorry.” He said after a moment, trying to give Leon a small smile. It came off as sheepish if anything. Leon raised an eyebrow, and under his seemingly judging stare, Chris curled up on himself a little.

“Really?” He backpedalled a little. Had he really worried Leon?

“There was so much blood.” Leon blurted, eyes going wide. “God, Chris. I...I didn’t know what to do at first. I knew it wouldn’t be fun to deal with it. I’ve seen blood before, of course. I’ve seen lots of blood, but I- I didn’t know what to do.” Leon spoke as if Chris wasn’t even there, just talking, getting his words out quickly and jumbled and it stunned Chris for a moment. He looked down at his lap, and then glanced at the ground, he frowned. Leon wasn’t lying. The blood was dry by now, having turned some ugly reddish-brownish colour. There was more on his clothing and Chris could see why Leon would have panicked. Chris bit the inside of his cheek.

Leon was still murmuring to himself when Chris spoke.

“Leon.”

His head snapped up and his eyes almost immediately locked eyes with Chris. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Though his eyes weren’t wide anymore, his body was stiff. With a huff, Chris gently patted the spot to his left, looking down at the ground, there wasn’t much blood on this side of him.

“Chris?”

“Come here. Sit.” He said with a small smile, patting the spot beside him again. Leon looked hesitant for a moment, but after a moment, he stood up with a grunt and crossed the short distance between them, plopping down next to Chris without a word. Chris had almost expected Leon to decline and stay where he was, but he wasn’t complaining. He wasn’t even entirely sure why he had offered for Leon to sit beside him anyway, but it didn’t matter. Leon was warm beside him, his arm rubbing against his as he shifted to find a comfortable position to sit. And it felt nice.

When Leon leaned his head on Chris’s shoulder, his heart stopped for a moment. While he was surprised by the action, Chris made no move to make Leon move. He liked the contact, and he was used to Leon using him to support himself. He was sure that was all it was.

“I thought I lost you,” Leon admitted and moved a little closer. Chris was shocked. He didn’t know what to say. “I, I did my best to take care of your wound until proper medical attention was available, but...there was just so much blood, too much blood. And you weren’t moving. I couldn’t see your chest rise.” His voice seemed to be getting more desperate the more he talked. Chris didn’t speak, but he looked at Leon, taking in every word. Leon was looking anywhere but at Chris, it would seem. "I didn't want to bother Mack or William, they're busy, you know, flying."

“I didn’t- I couldn’t lose someone else. I’ve already lost too many people and- and if I had lost you too-” Leon cut himself off and sighed, looking down at his hands. This was so different from Leon only a few moments, acting nonchalant and unbothered. Chris sighed softly.

It was a risk, but Chris shifted slightly so he could bring one arm up to wrap it around Leon and pull the man against him. Leon was tense for a moment, the contact surprising him. But when he relaxed and leaned into Chris, he sighed again.

“I’m right here,” he said gently. Leon closed his eyes. “And I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, alright? I promise." He reassured him. Leon bit his lip. He didn't look all that sure of what Chris was saying and he couldn't blame him. Chris had almost died apparently. Leon blew a breath out of his nose and moved to look at Chris, directly in the eyes.

Chris's breath hitched and the fact that he could feel Leon's breath against his face reminded how close they were. Chris wanted to look away but found he couldn't. He didn't want to. So instead he smiled at Leon and cocked his head. Leon blew out a breathless laugh and he rested his chin on Chris's shoulder, making the distance between them even less. He knew that if he wasn't careful about how he showed himself, Leon would move away, and he didn’t want that.

"Don't leave." He whispered. Chris tightened his grip on Leon and gently leaned his head against Leon's. Leon yawned and rubbed his eyes, looking both defeated and yet at the same time, relieved and happy.

"I won't. I promise.." Chris murmured. Leon blew out a relieved sigh and shifted slightly, hiding his face against the crook of Chris's neck. He flushed as Leon nestled closer. Chris wasn't entirely sure how to react, and while he didn't dislike this, it confused him.

"You should rest Leon. You need it." Chris whispered, he didn't want to speak too loud for fear of his voice betraying him. His face was hot and red and he looked away for a moment, keeping his arm around Leon. "I'm not going anywhere." He said reassuringly. Leon seemed reluctant to do that. Chris felt the pout against his neck and he sighed gently.

“Come on, Leon.” He nudged him gently with his chin and closed his eyes himself, leaning his head back.

“I’m right here if you need anything.” He murmured. “Okay?”

Leon’s voice was soft, softer than he had ever heard when he answered. “Okay.”

 

“Wakey, wakey, captain!” A voice raised him from sleep.

Chris flinched, though careful of the man curled up at his side, under his arm. Leon stirred, but only nuzzled closer to Chris. He sighed and looked up at the source of the voice to find Mack grinning down at him. His face flushed. It was hard to recognize him at first, since he still wore his helmet, but the accent was telling enough.

“Shouldn’t you be flying the chopper?” He asked, somewhat panicked, forgetting about William, the co-pilot, for a moment. Mack’s grin widened.

“Will doesn’t mind a few minutes of solo flying. I figured I’d save you some embarrassment at being seen like that from everyone. Though I must say congrats, finally got him eh?” Mack crooned. Through his sleepiness, he wasn’t entirely sure what Mack was saying, but when Leon shifted again, and he felt as though all his weight was on being pressed to his side, Chris flushed even more.

“It’s not- It’s not like that-” he sputtered, trying not to be too loud since Leon was pressed up against him and finally getting the sleep he needed. Mack on the other didn’t seem to mind being loud and tossed his head back with a laugh.

“I’m only teasing, captain,” Mack said. Chris had a feeling he winked, but he couldn’t see it through his visor. “You may want to wake Sleeping beauty over there soon. We’re almost there.” Mack said, his smile fading. And Chris couldn’t fault him. Reports and reports were in hand for all of them. Chris would lucky if he could avoid O’brian and Jill. He didn’t even know for Leon.

He was hoping to just do any reports he had to make and then go find Claire and haul ass.

"We'll be landing in fifteen. Wake Kennedy, will you?" He asked. Mack was all of a sudden very serious and it sent a shudder up his spine. It was unlike Mack to be this serious. He turned on his heel and stalked off before Chris could answer. He sighed gently as to not disturb Leon too much. He didn’t want to wake him, he didn’t want to move from this position at all.

“Leon,” Chris said gently. Leon closed his eyes tighter. It dawned on Chris that Leon had probably heard everything Mack say, which made Chris’s embarrassment peak.

“Chris?” Leon asked, voice raspy. He moved closer to Chris if that was even possible and he bit his lip.

“You heard Mack,” he said softly, not a question, but not a statement either. Leon nodded. Leon didn’t want to move, Chris could tell, he didn’t want to move either, but he knew better than to stay like this. He knew better than to stay curled up against Leon. Though he wanted the warmth that came from the other man.

It took Leon a little while to pull away from Chris and shuffled away a little. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. Chris watched him, already missing the feeling of Leon sleeping against him, but he didn’t do anything. Just pulled his knees to his chest and rested his chin on his knees as Leon slowly woke up, letting his eyes adjust.

“How’re you feeling?” Chris asked. Leon scoffed and looked at Chris with soft, sleepy eyes and smiled. Chris’s heart did a flip and he had to look away because he knew he was blushing.

“Stop worrying about me,” Leon whispered, though there was no animosity in his voice. He sounded amused, he sounded...almost happy. Chris was almost sure his heart skipped a few beats and he tried his best to hide his face in his shoulder and the crook of his neck.

Chris sighed, what was it about someone, about Leon, being nice to him, that flustered him to no end. He guessed that maybe it felt nice to be on such good terms seeing as he and Leon had hated each other at the beginning. Or maybe it was just that Leon was an extraordinary man and Chris felt honoured to have him be so close and carefree with him. Perhaps it was that Leon trusted Chris enough to sleep against. It could be so many things, but he was good friends with Leon, and that he was glad for.

“Chris… we should,” Leon paused. “I need to talk to you once all of this is done. Once we’re out.” Leon said suddenly. Chris blinked. And when he didn’t answer, Leon kept going. “You don’t have to of course, but I- there are some things I do need to tell you. Just not here, where people could be listening.” He said with a frown. Chris let out a small laugh and nodded. “Sure thing, Leon.” He smiled. Leon sagged, relieved.

Chris remembered Leon telling his house address and a date and time to meet, but Chris wasn’t really paying attention as suddenly, the base came into view. They shouldn’t have arrived so quickly back at base, but frankly, Chris didn’t mind. The less time they spent in the air, the better. He sighed gently and closed his eyes. There were so many things he didn’t want to do and so many things he wanted to avoid but that he doubted he could. Running from his problems, however, wouldn’t get him anywhere.

As they landed, Chris tried to share a look with Leon, but the agent wasn’t looking at him, he was looking the other way, eyes glued on the building that was looming ahead of them. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes once more as they landed.

Everything passed in a bit of a blur after that. He remembered seeing Jill. He remembered seeing O'Brian but other than that, his exhaustion muddied everything together to the point where he had done his reports and left the building without him really realizing. As he left, he heard someone calling his name and through the clouds covering his mind, he identified the voice as his sister’s face found its way into his field of vision. She honked the horn of her jeep and gave him a smile that could light up New York City should all the lights go out. Chris gave her a weak smile in return.

“You look like shit.” She said in lieu of greeting. Chris huffed a dry ‘thank you’ as he opened the passenger side door, sliding into the seat and putting his on his seatbelt. His sister said nothing else as she started the jeep and pulled away from the building. She shuddered once they were a good while away,

“Ugh, I hate that place.” She shook her head with another shiver, frowning. Christ chuckled quietly. He propped his chin on his fist and closed his eyes. They'd worked over his wound as well, cleaning it up a little more, but he remembered being told that whoever had patched it up originally had done a good job. And though that made him smile, it still stung. After a moment, Claire leaned over a little bit, jabbing his side with his finger, right over his wound, making his hiss and jerk away.

"Shit, sorry." She said almost immediately after. She raised her hands in apologies, but quickly put her hands back on the wheel at Chris's light-hearted glare. She smiled at them though, turning right at an intersection, closer to home. He shook his head with a smile, a shrug which was enough of an ‘its fine’ in of itself

“Almost died again, didja?” She teased, smirking and raising one eyebrow. Seeing Chris’s frown, her smirk died and she huffed a small little shocked noise. She tapped the bottom of her palm on the steering wheel before pulling onto the road his ‘house’ was on.

“You- you’re going to die if you keep going on like this, for real.” She said seriously as she pulled into the driveway, sighing as she placed her forehead on the steering wheel. Chris stared blankly ahead at his residence and he heaved a heavy sigh, shaking his head. He didn’t voice this at first, but it’s not like he meant to almost die. It had been an unfortunate situation after everything had gone to shit. He muttered such as he exited the jeep, getting his stuff from the backseat where he’d absentmindedly tossed them when they’d left. Claire got out herself, rounded the car and pulled her brother into an embrace.

“Claire,” he laughed. “This isn-” He shut himself up, giving her a sheepish smile. She shook her head.

“I’m going to have to head to Europe in a few days,” she said after a moment. “I’ll keep in check with you, but you best keep yourself safe while I’m away, you clearly can’t stay out of trouble, can you?” She teased, winking and nudging his arm with her elbow, careful of his side. Chris laughed, sidestepping her with a small grin.

“I’ll be safe, so long as you’re careful out there.” He promised his sister, smiling. He was home now, miles away from the horrors they’d encountered in the forest. He was alone, no zombies, no monsters, no twenty-something feet tall mutation. He would be okay.

“When am I ever not careful?” Claire drawled, a lazy smile crossing her face. Chris raised an eyebrow at her and she rolled her eyes playfully, laughing as she shooed him towards the door, circling back around the jeep, sticking her tongue out at him and rambling. ‘Yeah yeah, I’ll be careful’ and all that. Chris laughed at his sister, wondering just how lucky he was to end up with someone wonderful like her, and he shook his head with a small, loving smile as he watched the jeep pull out of the driveway and peel off to god knows where. Once she was out of view, his smile dropped, and with a tired sigh, he turned and headed inside.

The house was exactly the same as it had been when he’d left it. The fridge was stocked with food, courtesy of Claire, Chris was sure, and everything was dusted and perfect. It looked almost too perfect, and Chris was ready to make it feel like home once more. The living room was a spacious place with too many couches, but they were comfortable, so he didn’t quite mind. The kitchen, opposite the living room, was all too clean. Shining marble countertops, and stainless steel appliances. While it was all very nice on the eyes, Chris bypassed it all, heading to the bedrooms.

This was a big house, big enough for two master bedrooms, Chris wasn’t sure how they managed with such an expensive house but he never worried over it much. He slipped into the room he’d taken claim off, across the halls from Claire's, and he yawned as he passed through the threshold.

From there he undressed himself, unpacked his bags and slipped into the shower, scrubbing his skin until it was red and he watched the grim swirl down the drain.

Once he was done, he dressed in the most comfortable clothing he could find and just flopped into bed. Letting himself rest after all that happened and for a moment, he didn’t stress over his eventual meeting with Leon Kennedy.

 

Leon Kennedy had never been good at managing stress.

He had turned to alcohol in the past. He had bottled all his emotions until he had broken down because of it, sometimes he binge ate et cetera, et cetera.

Today was no different.

Pacing back and forth, nervousness and stress eating away at him, Leon was playing out every awful possibility in his head. What if Chris didn't show? What if he did show but things went awful and everything fell apart? What if he lost Chris for good because of something he said.

There are endless possibilities this could go wrong. You're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Leon shook his head and he grabbed something to eat, to get his hands busy or he was sure he would pull at his hair, tugging on his sleeves, touching objects in his apartment. He munched on his granola bar, (the first thing he could grab) and sat on top his countertop, legs swinging of their own will. He closed his eyes, fingers tip-tapping a melody on his countertop. He was brimming with nervous energy threatening to overflow. He finished his food, bouncing from foot to foot.

Stop that.

He told himself to compose himself, to calm himself (oh be still my beating heart) and he stopped bouncing to try and steady his breathing. He hummed softly to himself, trying to remember a tune that he had heard a soldier hum to themselves to calm them down. It didn’t come to mind, only confused him further but it took his mind away from the man coming to see him. It took his mind off of the nervousness and he felt comfortable for a moment. For a moment that seemed to stretch on into eternity, he was calm.

Then, a knock on his door ruined it.

Leon blinked, only flinching a little bit and he looked at the door, it was time. He bit his lip, pondering just not answering but he figured that would be rude and might as well face his fears. He jumped off the counter, landing without noise on the ground and he padded over to the front door of his tiny house (It looked like a bungalow but Leon hated calling it such).

He opened the door with a grunt, smiling up at Chris Redfield standing in his doorway with a small shy smile. Leon smiled up at him in return, though it faltered. He backed away from the doorway to let Chris in.

“Hello, Chris.” He said softly, trying to avoid Chris’s gaze. He looked from the floor to Chris's shoulders, to just above Chris' head.

"You don't have to be so nervous, Leon," Chris said with a small laugh, "It's only me. You don't have to be nervous around me." He reassured him looking around the place, Leon forced himself not to blush, gaze darting down the ground.

"Sorry," he apologized. "I guess I’m just...nervous.” He said after a moment, smiling slightly.

“This is a very quaint place I like it,” Chris smiled, “Do you mind if I make myself comfortable?” He asked looking to the couch. Leon’s face flushed and he turned away from him towards the kitchen.

“Of course, make yourself at home! Can I get you anything to drink?” He called as he poured himself a cup of water. His hands were shaking ever so slightly and stood with his back to Chris, who seemed to make himself comfortable on the couch, he had grabbed the remote and the TV was on but he turned the volume down. He was probably just doing it for background sound. He would have probably done the same if he wasn’t so stressed.

“I’m fine thank you,” Chris said politely. Leon nodded to himself and made his way back to the couch. Once he had settled on the couch next to Chris, he relaxed to the best of his abilities, taking a slow, deliberate sip from his water.

“You wanted to talk?” Chris asked, “I think we should get right to it unless of course you don’t want too or you changed your mind. I would understand.” The taller man said. He gave Leon one of those bright, wide smiles that had him melting. He looked away. He hated how comfortable Chris seemed. "Seemed" in big quotation marks, maybe he was just as nervous, but he was good at hiding it.

“I-” He paused, voice seemingly failing at that moment.

Chris waited ever patiently, eyes soft and the way Chris watched him seemed to give him the courage he needed.

"I'm not- I don't know how to properly really say this, but well, back on that helicopter...” he started, Chris blinked, tensing slightly and Leon winced. He really didn't want to make him feel bad. He didn’t want him to feel bad, but he really needed to tell him, he really needed to get this off his chest or it would most likely eat away at his chest for the rest of his life, and if Chris reacted badly? Well, that wasn’t his fault, right?

“Leon.” He said, bringing him back to the moment.

Leon blinked.

“Sorry- sorry. I was saying. Back on that helicopter, you really gave me a scare. I thought I was going to lose you and god I don’t know if I would have been able to handle that and it made me realize some things I’ve been denying and I just, I needed to get them out and off my chest before one of us dies.” He said, Chris flinched, wincing and Leon tried not to let it show how he was pretty sure he was going to have a panic attack, Chris sighed gently.

“I'm s-”

“No. Stop that, don’t apologize damn you. I already feel bad enough, I don’t want you to feel bad. Because Goddammit I love you too much to be able to see you in pain.”He blurted and his eyes went wide. Well, he had been planning on saying it but not like that. It was out there at least. He took a deep, shuddering breath and continued before Chris could say anything.

“You almost died and I blamed myself for that because I hadn’t been fast enough to pull you up and I felt so bad Mack had to reassure me and it really made me realize how much I cared about you and I couldn’t lose you. I couldn’t lose someone else I loved and then it just finally hit me that ‘wow, I’m in love with this man’ but I never knew what to say, I never wanted to ruin what we had between us. I didn’t want to fuck everything up because if I lost you because this,” he gestured at himself and then at Chris with a small frown, “It would almost be the same as if you died because I just- I just couldn’t lose you because you mean so fucking much to me.” He said and hated how his voice cracked at the end. He looked down, gluing his eyes to the couch gray couch cushions, gently picking at a loose strand.

Chris didn’t say anything for a moment and Leon shut his eyes tight, waiting for the worst. He almost expected Chris to get angry, to yell to snap at him, to scream but he only stayed quiet, not speaking and Leon didn’t know if that was worse or not.

After a few more moments of dreadful silence, of agonizing silence, Chris cleared his throat, not awkwardly, but it still made Leon shut his eyes tighter, lips curling into a frown and he let his hair fall into his eyes.

“Leon?”

“...Chris?”

He looked up and expected to see disgust, but Chris’s face was soft, his features gently and Leon’s heart skipped a few beats, his face flushed and he tried to look away, but he found himself staring at Chris, waiting, expecting.

Chris lifted one hand, he didn’t speak, but his eyes were questioning, asking ‘can I?’ without really asking and Leon shook his head, voice failing him. He watched Chris, leaned into his touch when Chris cupped his cheek. His hand was warm soft extremely gentle and Leon didn’t expect it. He smiled at Chris. When Chris leaned forward, resting his forehead against Leon’s, every inch of tension left his body and a laugh bubbled in the back of his throat, making Chris laugh as well.

“You had me worried for a moment there, you know,” Chris smiled and Leon recognized those as the words he’s spoken to Chris once, he couldn’t help his smile.

“Sorry.” He said, not sounding sorry at all.

“I was afraid something bad was going to happen, if I’m being honest this is not at all the outcome I thought would happen. You surprise me again. That’s something I love about you, Leon. I really do,” he said, voice too quiet for someone of his size, but Leon liked it, “But I’m glad this is what happened, I’m glad you feel the same.” He grinned.

This felt so damn cheesy and Leon was loving it. He leaned closer into Chris, smiling gently and he shut his eyes for a moment. He wanted to hear those three words, he really did but he wouldn’t rush anything, he would take it as slow as he needed too. He could hear Chris, murmuring sweet nothings, reassuring things, and in those endless words, he heard the ‘I love you’s’ and he smiled gently. He whispered those words back at him and sighed happily.

“Leon?”

Leon cracked an eye open, smiling at Chris. “Hmm?”

“Can I kiss you?”

Leon’s heart seemed to stop and he inhaled sharply, a grin breaking across his face. He nodded, and so, Chris leaned in and kissed him. And just like that, his whole world was thrown off balance in the best of ways.