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bound to find that pot of gold

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Leon and Chris never do go bowling. Although the DSO agent is supposedly on vacation, both men spend the week after New York in cleanup and debriefing, managing little more than smiles when they pass each other in the hall. They’re too busy to talk during the day and too tired to hang out in the evenings but that doesn’t stop them from calling and texting back and forth.

Chris feels awkward at first, afraid of saying the wrong thing when he can't see Leon's face. Almost twenty years of miscommunication prove that he’s fantastic at shoving his foot into his mouth. However, talking to the other man is surprisingly easy and he likes the way the agent sounds over the phone, voice low and rough with laughter in his ear.

But talking isn't enough. The captain wants to take Leon on an actual date; he promised they'd go bowling and all he needs is one free afternoon. Considering that Chris writes the schedule, it shouldn't be that difficult. But something always comes up that he just can't delegate.

Eventually, though, seven days after the outbreak, the captain manages to get them both the same four hours guaranteed. So he calls Leon that morning and invites him on a date, asking the other man to meet him outside the BSAA. The agent sounds excited and Chris is glad to hear it; he's always admired Leon and the fact that the man loves him still doesn't seem quite real.

Chris arrives ten minutes early but Leon is there already and his uncertain smile makes the captain want to cry. He shouldn't be so insecure. The DSO agent has saved the world a dozen times; he's smart, deadly, and so attractive that the sight of him in jeans should probably be a crime. Honestly, when Leon bends down to tie his shoe, Chris actually gets lightheaded and some poor passing bicyclist rides into a car. A guy like that should not be looking at the captain like he's gonna break his heart.

But he is and Chris grows even more determined to have the best date ever. He takes Leon out for pancakes and tries to act the perfect gentleman while they wait for their food. Thankfully, the conversation flows as smoothly in person as it did over the phone and Leon soon relaxes enough to tease and joke again.

However, the agent still blushes when Chris wraps an arm around his shoulders on their way out of the restaurant. He's prepared to let go if Leon seems uncomfortable but the other man just leans into the touch before continuing his rant about the DMV. The captain doesn't remember how they got onto this topic but he's too amused to interrupt; Chris likes watching Leon be this passionate so he just enjoys the view and steers them toward the bowling alley where he reserved a lane.

The men have almost reached their destination when Leon’s cell phone rings, cutting off the agent's rant mid-word.

“Fuck, I need to get that,” he says with a deep sigh. “Hunnigan promised she wouldn’t call unless it mattered so something must be really wrong. I’m sorry about this.”

“Hey, I get it,” Chris replies, hugging Leon a little closer before letting go entirely. “Hazard of the job.”

The captain means it. He knew what he was doing when he asked the agent out and stopping a new outbreak always has priority. That said, Leon's clear irritation makes him kind of happy; the other man looks ready to throw down when he pulls out his phone and snaps, “This is Kennedy.”

The DSO agent listens to the caller and then gives a series of one-word answers, his expression slowly darkening:

“New York.”

“Redfield.”

“What?”

“Georgia?”

“Now?”

“No!”

“Fine.”

Leon ends the call and sighs again before running one hand through his hair.

“A mission then?” Chris asks, though it’s not really a question. He knows that look too well.

“Yeah. I'm so sorry. They want me wheels up in an hour,” the agent tells him. “Can we take a rain check?”

Leon sounds nervous, like he's fully prepared for the captain to dump him over this. Whatever happens in the future, Chris plans to work on that, to bolster the other man’s self-confidence until he finally stops assuming the worst at every turn. But for now he simply grins.

“We can reschedule anytime,” the BSAA agent promises. “I've been fighting outbreaks just as long as you have; I knew that this might happen and I asked you out anyway. You're not going to scare me off that easily.”

“Maybe. But this whole thing still fucking sucks,” Leon huffs. “I've been looking forward to this date for a whole week.”

“You were excited about bowling?” Chris asks, remembering the other man's reaction when he first suggested it.

“Bowling with you,” is the reply and the captain melts a little. He doesn't know how Leon says things like that without hesitation, the hokiest lines just rolling off his tongue. The agent should sound stupid but the words are so sincere that they somehow work instead.

And so Chris has to kiss him. He tugs Leon forward and leans in, threading his fingers through that ridiculously soft hair. The other man melts against him and both of them are breathing hard by the time he pulls away.

“I really do need to go,” the agent says reluctantly.

“Uh-huh,” Chris murmurs, refusing to let go. He kisses Leon again and then again before his own phone rings.

“You've got to be kidding me,” the captain groans and the other man laughs against his mouth.

“Better get that,” Leon murmurs, stepping back and straightening his hair. Chris feels cold without him and he probably sounds as pissed as the agent did when he hits answer call.

“Redfield here. What is it?” he snarls into his phone.

“Uh, sir? Am I interrupting something?” a nervous voice replies. The kid sounds about fifteen so the captain takes a deep breath and softens his tone consciously.

“No, it's all right,” Chris says. “What do you need?”

“The DSO asked us for help. They've gotten word of a new threat down in Georgia. Some disgruntled scientist is threatening to release T-Veronica if his demands aren't met,” the young man tells him. “Actually the DSO mentioned you by name; our contact said you've worked with their agent in the past and you're both in New York so the pilot can pick you up at the same time. However, if you don't think you've recovered from your last mission, I've been instructed to call Burton in your place.”

Chris barely has to think. He knows which agent the DSO has summoned and he's always going to volunteer to watch Leon's back.

“I'll do it. Where's the drop point?”

“The DSO will pick you up at our New York headquarters in forty-five and brief you with more details on the way. Good luck, Captain.”

“Thanks,” Chris mutters before ending the call and pocketing his phone.

“Georgia?” Leon asks.

“Georgia.”

“Great. Then I guess the date's back on,” the other man says with a grin. “We better get going now. We don't want to be late.”

“You're right, we don't. Try to catch me, pretty boy,” Chris says before he takes off running and he's rewarded with a laugh as Leon darts after him.

Despite the jokes, the captain is a little worried about how they'll work together. Neither of them knew about Leon's mark on their last mission and that might lead to second-guessing in the field.

However, as soon as they reach headquarters, the other man pulls on his mission face and Chris has always trusted Agent Kennedy. In this, the man is confident like he isn't otherwise and when he hands out orders, the captain no longer feels the urge to argue for the sake of arguing. Not when he finally knows that Leon does respect him. There's no need to somehow prove that he's the better soldier; the other man will listen to his opinions anyway.

Indeed, Leon is nothing but professional throughout the flight to Georgia, their briefing, and the initial scouting run. However, the mission goes south quickly like they always seem to do and by the time the agents are fighting off herds of infected sheep, it's wall-to-wall jokes about zombie sweaters coming out of Leon's mouth.

The captain's first instinct is to shut down this flippancy. But Chris doesn't want to yell at Leon anymore and when he stops to think, he recognizes the other man's expression. It's not fear exactly, but a grim determination to see their mission through. That look reminds the captain of something he'd forgotten: the DSO agent is usually a solo operation, just him against the monsters, and the jokes are probably a coping mechanism to keep from panicking.

Where Chris tends to get more serious, Leon starts trash-talking and that explains a lot about their past arguments. The jokes used to drive him nuts every time they worked together, but they're actually pretty funny when he gives them a chance. Terrible, yes, but funny, and the hostages don't seem to mind the agent's cocky mask.

Chris can hardly blame them. When the other man says that they'll be fine, it's impossible to doubt him. He radiates protectiveness – he'll save them or die trying – and the survivors latch onto that reassurance like a lifeboat in a storm.

Thankfully, the agents manage to keep their promises. Neither of them deal well with losing people in their charge. But if not for his choice of virus, their target would be small-time and Leon reduces him to incoherent rage with a few choice lines. It's a thing of beauty and with such a great distraction, Chris has the scientist on the ground in six seconds flat. He hands the bastard over to the DSO clean-up crew before helping the survivors into a transport helicopter, half-a-dozen men and women freaked out but alive.

“Not the worst first date I've ever had,” Leon says as they climb into the chopper.

“Sounds like you need higher standards,” Chris retorts, though now he's curious. “Do you do a lot of dating during virus outbreaks?”

Sure that's how the other man met Claire and Ada but he must have a social life; even the BSAA agent manages to go out with friends sometimes.

However, Leon simply shrugs, “Not like I've got a lot of options to meet people when I'm working constantly. And I always seem to get the assholes when Hunnigan and I go out to bars. At least the people on a mission understand.”

“I suppose you've got a point.”

Now that Chris thinks about it, both of his non-family marks were gained on missions. He was friends with Jill and Piers before, but outbreaks made their relationships much stronger and he has no trouble believing that Leon could pick up dates while shooting zombies. When the man dozes off on his shoulder, half the hostages look like they would kill to take his place and Agent Kennedy will probably be written on a few more hearts tonight.

The captain feels…. not jealous. It's hard to be jealous when Leon so clearly doesn't notice, just curls into his side to get more comfortable. But he definitely feels possessive and damn lucky that this man loves him.

When they get back to base, Chris nudges Leon gently and he's rewarded with a sleepy smile that blindsides him utterly. He wants to wake up to that expression so bad it almost hurts and it takes him a minute to get his head back in the game. By then the DSO agent is busy organizing their small group of survivors, making sure that everyone sees a doctor and has a place to go. Only once they're taken care of does he give Chris a tired grin.

“Do I get a second date then?”

“Of course, though I'm still not sure that this should count.”

“Oh no, it definitely counts,” the other man replies. “Which means that it's my turn to pick the place.”

“This was all a master plan to get out of bowling, wasn't it?” Chris asks, more amused than irritated. Because he likes this Leon too. The one who's too exhausted to be nervous and teases when he flirts.

“Is it working?”

“You know, I think it is,” the BSAA agent answers. “Though I can't count this as a proper date without a good night kiss.”

“Well, I guess I better fix that,” Leon purrs. He steps into Chris' space and gives him a scorching kiss, warming him from head to toe. “How's that for a goodbye?”

“Christ, hello would be much better. Can this be our third date now?” the captain mutters. He knows they were going to take things slow but he needs this man naked in his bed yesterday.

“Don't I wish?” the agent answers and for a second Chris thinks that he might actually get lucky. But then Leon shakes his head. “Unfortunately, this was a DSO operation, which means they'll want six hours of debriefing before sending me back to DC.”

“Six hours? Is that normal?”

“Nah. That's actually pretty light. Spain was thirty when I finished. More if you count the lab tests. I've learned to sleep on transports whenever possible; if they'd just put a snack bar on their airplanes, it wouldn't be so bad,” Leon tells him with a shrug. He doesn't seem to think there's anything weird about the situation and Chris files it under the growing list of things that they need to talk about. “What can I say? The DSO loves their paperwork. I'm honestly a little surprised that no one has come to fetch me yet.”

As though summoned by the words, a man in a black suit appears in the doorway. He frowns when he sees them wrapped around each other but Chris takes his cue from Leon and doesn't pull away.

“Agent Kennedy, we're waiting on you,” the man sneers.

“Yeah, I'd better go,” the other man sighs. “I'll call you soon as I can. And if anyone gives you trouble about a ride home, tell them to contact Hunnigan. She'll get you sorted out.”

With one last kiss, Leon follows his guard dog from the room. Chris takes an hour to write up his report, waiting until the buzz of adrenaline has faded before going to see about that ride. Between chasing down Arias, New York, and this last mission, the captain hasn't been home in several weeks and he's fully prepared to leverage Leon's connections in order to sleep in his own bed.

However, as soon as Chris steps into the hanger, three different pilots offer to take him anywhere he wants. They're barely more than kids, tripping over themselves in their excitement, and the captain feels as old as dirt in comparison.

So he chooses the calmest of three to be his pilot and gets out of there before someone tries to get his autograph. Of course, calm and calmest are two very different things and the young man keeps up a running commentary at his side.

“It really is an honor to meet you, sir. You're a legend in the DSO, just like Agent Kennedy. I mean, you're both first generation: the originals. You fought these viruses before anyone even knew what they could do and you survived. Without agents like you, we never would have brought Umbrella down,” the kid rambles on their way to the plane. “I can't believe I missed the chance to work with both of you. I would have paid to be your evac. Some of the stories that I've heard….

“Did you really fistfight Wesker in a volcano? I'm pretty sure that thing about the boulder is a lie, but I suppose you've got the muscles. Of course, Kennedy's no slouch there. The guys he's sparred with say that he punches like a truck, though mostly he's just too damn fast. I heard he took out an army of ganados by himself and I believe it; I've been dying to work with him for years.”

“Even after the death of his last squad?”

Chris probably shouldn't ask. But this is his best chance to find out what the other DSO agents truly think of Leon. He won't be working with the BSAA on every mission and the captain needs to know if his partner will have backup he can count on when the chips are down.

“That wasn't his fault!” the pilot snaps instantly. “The entire mission was FUBAR from the start. Bad intel, bad luck, a fucking mole. They were betrayed and yeah, Kennedy's the best, but he can't work miracles. I was there when he returned and he'd clearly been through hell. The man could barely walk but he still dragged back their bodies and killed the man responsible. He tried to save them, tried everything, but they were too far gone.

“And you know what the agent did when he recovered? He went and told their families, didn't leave it to the suits. Kennedy apologized in person and made sure that everyone they'd left behind would be well taken care of. Pissed off the brass something fierce by disappearing, but he never spoke a word. The man didn't even ask for a damn thing in return. I only know the truth because I had a cousin on that mission and his widow told me afterward. So yeah, I'd follow Agent Kennedy into the abyss and count myself damn lucky for the opportunity.”

Chris can only gape as the kid pants heavily, his passionate words still hanging in the air. What the hell is the captain supposed to say to that? How can he say anything when his throat is choked with shame? Because he had been in the same damn situation and he'd run straight into the bottle to drown his memories.

Without Piers, the BSAA agent would probably still be there and in thanks, he'd gotten the man killed. In contrast, Leon might have drunk too much, been depressed and fatalistic, but he'd never forgotten what was most important. Saving people was always his top priority and when he failed, he faced the consequences. Taking a vacation didn't mean he ran away.

Here Chris has been thinking that he needs to show Leon his own value, prove that he's worth loving, and that's probably still true up to a point. But that's such fucking arrogance. Right now, the captain is the one who feels inadequate. Because he knows that Leon is good enough for anyone; Chris just isn't sure that he's good enough in return.

“I…. you're right. Agent Kennedy is one of the best men I've ever worked with,” he manages to say. The pilot seems a bit embarrassed by his outburst and that sets off his captain's instincts even as his mind spins wildly. “He's lucky to have agents like you to watch his back.”

The kid stands straighter at his words, nodding like he's been given a new mission, before he continues across the tarmac. Chris follows him for lack of other options and his doubts ease gradually. Because that's the point, isn't it? It doesn't matter who's a better person. What matters is that they're all in this together and Leon has been fighting on his own for much too long.

Things are gonna be different after this, the BSAA agent swears. He can't change the past as much as he would like to. But he can change the future and he's damn well going to be there for Leon from now on.

Chapter Text

Their second date is two weeks later. With a bit of effort, Leon leverages the Arias and Georgia missions into a four-day weekend and he takes the first plane to Kansas Friday morning when Chris says that he'll be free.

It's an impulsive decision and the agent spends the entire flight trying to decide what they should do. He wants to have the perfect date, the other man deserves it, but he just can't think of anything. Leon doesn't know how to be normal anymore. He racks his brain until the landing and when he sees an ad for the ice rink immediately after disembarking, it feels like an epiphany. Something easy and low-key seems perfect after Georgia and skating would be a decent place to start.

So the agent takes a taxi to Chris' house in Wichita without even stopping to book into a hotel. Leon can find one later if he needs to, but he's rather hoping to stay right here instead. It's been too long since he saw the other man in person and he doesn't want to waste what little time they have. His stomach is full of butterflies when he hits the doorbell; he really wants this weekend to go well.

Leon needn't have worried. Chris opens the door with a delighted expression, pulling the agent into a gentle kiss. The other man is good at this, his lips firm and his hands warm on Leon's hips. So he answers in kind, losing himself in the captain's touch until he has to stop to breathe.

“Damn it's good to see you,” Chris murmurs against his mouth. He tugs the man inside, closing the door before he asks, “Do you know where you're staying yet?”

“I haven't booked a room,” Leon admits, shifting nervously. His bag slips off his shoulder when the older man moves closer and presses them together chest to chest.

“You really are a schemer, Kennedy. Planning to talk you way into my bed?”

“No, I….”

The denial is instinctive. He doesn't want the captain to be angry. But before he can finish the words, the gleam in Chris' eyes finally registers.

“I wasn't planning. Doesn't mean I wasn't hoping,” Leon answers, his voice cracking when the other man starts kissing down his neck. He's always been sensitive right there.

“I like the way you think,” Chris tells him, lips curving against his skin. “How about a tour, starting with my room?”

That's really fucking tempting and it's only when the captain chuckles that Leon realizes he said the words aloud. It would be so easy to just spend the day in bed. But the agent wants a proper date. It seems important somehow that this relationship starts right and while that's probably superstition, Leon still shakes his head. As soon as he does, Chris stops touching him completely and the gesture makes him smile even as he tugs the captain back again.

“That wasn't a no, it was a later,” he explains and feels the other man relax. “I just…. I did have plans for today. Second date and all.”

“Yeah? What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I saw ads for an ice rink when I landed and I thought we could go skating?” Leon asks and then winces instantly. The suggestion sounds so stupid, especially after all the shit he gave Chris over bowling. “But we don't have to do that. We can do something else instead.”

“No, I think ice-skating sounds like fun. Very normal,” the other man replies and Leon is glad he understands. “Though I hope that I don't suck too badly. I haven't worn skates in thirty years.”

As it turns out, Chris is terrible at skating. He does okay while on the mats – no one manages that waddle gracefully – but as soon as his blades touch ice, it's all flailing arms and clutching at the wall. Leon has to chuckle at the surprise on the man's face; it's probably been awhile since Chris was bad at something physical.

“You need to relax a little,” the agent says as he steps onto the ice. He takes a couple seconds to find his balance before sliding to a stop in front of Chris.

“How are you so good at this?” the captain grumbles, still white-knuckling the wall.

“I played hockey all through high school,” Leon answers with a shrug. He's not a fantastic skater, not like the women doing jumps out in the center, but at least he's managing to stand on his own two feet. “Here, give me your hand. You need to keep your weight more balanced.”

The agent tugs Chris upright, thankful that the rink is almost empty at this time of day. Trying to dodge children would have been a nightmare with the other man this wobbly. His first step nearly sends both of them crashing to the ice.

“So hockey, huh? I can see that,” Chris says as they make their shaky way around the rink. “I bet you were a superstar.”

“Nah, not really,” Leon answers with a shrug. He feels kind of bad about the way this date is going but Chris just keeps on laughing every time he wobbles and Leon definitely doesn't mind holding the captain tight. “Everyone skated growing up and while I wasn't the worst, I wasn't the best either. I think I only made the team because I was good under pressure. Coach usually sent me in when we were down in the last period so I spent most of our games sitting on the sidelines. But being on the hockey team was the only thing that stopped me from being a total nerd in high school so I didn't really mind.”

“You? A nerd? No freaking way,” Chris scoffs.

“It’s the truth. I was straight As, chess club, the whole nine yards. And I honestly think you're the only person who's ever found me funny,” Leon replies. He doesn't usually admit to this but he's pretty sure that Chris won't judge him and well, he does enjoy proving that he's more than a pretty face sometimes. “Our chess team actually did fairly well at tournaments. Though I have to admit, that puzzle in Raccoon City put me off the game. I haven't played in years.”

True to form, the captain doesn’t laugh at him. The other man just smiles as he says, “You're full of surprises, aren't you? But you shouldn't let those bastards keep you from something you enjoy. Maybe we can play sometime?”

“I think I'd like that,” Leon tells him before asking impishly, “So what about you? Football? Prom King? Utterly cliché?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Chris answers cheerfully. “I was too responsible for wild parties – not with Claire to raise – but somehow that made me more popular. I was the quarterback and everything. So does this former nerd still want to date a jock like me?”

“As long as you don't make me do your homework,” the agent teases. “And I'll let you in on a secret, Chris; I'm still a nerd at heart. I like books and movies more than watching sports, I couldn’t throw a football if my life depended on it, and you've already seen me try to flirt.”

Leon can't remember the last time a conversation flowed this easily. By unspoken agreement, they keep the topics light as they skate around the rink, stopping only to get a quick lunch at the concession stand. It's overpriced and not too healthy but Leon can't bring himself to care. Because they just keep talking and this date is exactly what he wanted: something normal to prove that the two of them can still get along when they aren't on a mission, that this relationship is built on a stronger foundation than lust and adrenaline.

If his names prove anything, it's that you can love a person without liking them that much, but the more the DSO agent learns about Chris, the more he likes him too. Leon learns that the other man hates spinach but eats it anyway because Claire wouldn’t clean her plate when she was younger unless he did it too. He learns that Chris puts anchovies on his pizza for some ungodly reason and goes to the gym when he can't sleep, that blue is his favorite color even though he rarely wears it, and that he sometimes shouts the answers while binge-watching Jeopardy.

In turn, Leon shares his obsession with cooking shows – all of them, he isn’t picky – and slow British mysteries, the kind where it can take an hour to find out why someone died. The agent admits that his ever-present leather jackets are only half for style; he also just gets cold super easily. Chris actually seems to care about his favorite foods, music, and movies, though he hasn’t actually had the time to see a film in years. So Leon tells the other man that he hates strawberry-flavored anything that isn't strawberries and listens to Gothic metal when he feels like rocking out. Chris doesn’t even laugh at him; he simply promises to check out Krypteria sometime.

Neither man brings up anything serious, just the little quirks that make people interesting, and by the time they leave the rink, Leon's face actually hurts from smiling. They keep talking over dinner – fancy, gourmet burgers that require knives to eat – and the agent probably teases a bit more than he should. But he likes the way the captain’s eyes go dark when he licks ketchup from his skin.

Leon can't remember the last time he felt like this, giddy with anticipation, and he’s pretty sure Chris feels the same. The other man drives back to his house like there’s Lickers on their heels and his parking job isn’t exactly straight along the curb. But he doesn’t crash, which is probably more than Leon could have managed. He's never had the best of luck with vehicles.

“So, can I offer you some coffee?” Chris asks once he’s turned off his car. “Or sex? Sex and coffee?”

“Definitely option two,” Leon tells him, leaning over the console to steal another kiss. “That tour of your bedroom is sounding pretty good right now.”

“Well, I'd hate to disappoint,” the other man replies. His voice is eager and he nearly drops his keys when he fumbles for the door. The two of them dash for the porch, laughing as they stumble, and Chris misses the lock on his first try. To be fair, Leon isn’t helping. He just presses himself against the captain’s back and rests his chin on Chris’ shoulder, leaning in to nibble at his ear.

“Come on, babe. I want to feel you,” the agent murmurs, not even caring how he sounds. Leon is too horny to be anxious and he wants to make Chris feel amazing. It may have been awhile but sex at least is something that he's had some practice at.

“I want to hear you moan for me,” he continues, fingers stroking over the captain’s hips as he unlocks the door. They stumble inside together and Chris flings his keys toward the wall rack before rounding on Leon hungrily. The older man shoves him against the door and Leon goes willingly, pulling Chris even closer when the captain claims his mouth. He kisses like he's dying, stealing the breath out of his lungs.

The agent rolls their hips together with a moan and Chris takes full advantage. He thrusts his tongue between Leon’s lips and maps his mouth out thoroughly, rough hands running across his back and tugging toward the stairs. Leon kicks his shoes off as they stumble up the steps, not caring where they fall. He fumbles at Chris' jacket, desperate to feel skin but unwilling to stop kissing so he can do this properly. Instead he yanks at the captain’s belt, both men growling with frustration when it gets caught halfway.

“I’ve got it,” Chris orders as Leon just keeps tugging uselessly. Then he pushes the agent into the wall and holds him there with his own body, a solid wall of muscle that makes Leon groan again. The other man nips at his mouth as he makes quick work of their belts before throwing off his jacket and hooking his hands around the agent's thighs. With one swift move, Chris picks him up and Leon's brain short-circuits in a rush of heat. It's been years since anyone has manhandled him that easily.

Fuck, that's hot, he thinks. Leon wraps his legs around the captain's waist and his arms around those gorgeous shoulders, sucking hickies into every bit of skin that he can reach. He leaves a trail of marks down Chris' neck and he feels the other man's cock jump when he adds a hint of teeth.

“Damn it, Leon. You're killing me,” Chris growls, lifting the agent higher and then dashing up the stairs. It’s not the smoothest ride as he runs blindly, refusing to stop for a kiss, a stroke, a tease. But Leon trusts the captain not to drop him. He just holds on tighter when Chris wobbles and eventually they crash through the bedroom door.

The other man hits the light switch and then tries to put him down but the agent doesn't let go when he feels the mattress against his back; he just yanks Chris down on top of him. Leon grinds against the other man and licks the gasp out of his mouth, threading his hands through that short hair as they go back to kissing desperately. He could get off just like this, the rough slide of cloth and skin, soft lips and the hint of stubble pushing him toward the edge and he moans loudly in protest when Chris finally pulls away.

“Hey, no, come back here,” Leon orders, pushing himself up on his elbows as the other man stands up.

“Yeah, one sec, I just gotta….” Chris tells him before stripping off his shirt. He's so fucking gorgeous, ripped and gleaming, and the sight strikes Leon speechless. The captain is built like a tank – he would know, he's used one – and the lines of his few scattered names only serve to highlight the muscles underneath. The marks are clearly visible: Claire in pride of place across his heart, his parents on a shoulder, and two more around his ribs that Leon can’t quite make out.

He doesn't expect to see his name. Love isn't love because it's reciprocated and seriously, it's fine. Yet something about the sight nags at his mind. Only Leon can't quite remember and when Chris shucks off his jeans, that niggling feeling disappears entirely. The captain's legs are as well-built as the rest of him and the bulge in his boxers makes Leon's fingers itch to touch.

So the agent doesn't resist when Chris nudges him back onto the mattress before straddling his thighs. He simply explores the captain’s skin with his hands, sweeping them across his shoulders and squeezing that gorgeous ass. It feels as good as it looks and Chris' face is a thing of beauty when he gives a heated groan.

Leon finds that expression very, very distracting. So he leans up to taste it, only breaking the kiss when the older man tugs his shirt over his head. The agent chuckles when it catches on his chin and Chris' answering laughter washes over him. But then the captain's eyes go wide and Leon remembers why he usually fucks people with the lights off; he remembers exactly why he was worried earlier.

You stupid idiot, the agent tells himself as Chris stares at the patchwork of names across his chest. Chris is going to break up with him. He's finally going to realize that Leon isn't worth it, that his foolish heart just latches on to everyone. Leon loves people who don't like him and people who've betrayed him. He’s managed to fall in love with folks he’s known for hours and he's been pining after Ada for almost twenty years; why would the captain want to date someone so pathetic? Chris is too good a man for him.

Leon knew that this would happen but he was hoping he'd have longer. He was hoping he'd get to hold Chris before he broke his heart again.

Except…. the other man doesn't look disgusted. He doesn't ask why the agent is missing the usual marks for 'mom' and 'dad' or who his names refer to. Chris just strokes his fingers over Leon's heart where Claire made her impression and smiles tenderly.

“Looks like we match,” the captain says before kissing him again, so soft and gentle that it hurts. Leon's chest aches with a cautious sort of longing as he melts into the kiss and dares to hope that he hasn’t lost his chance, that this is still happening.

Soon sweetness turns to hunger. Chris licks his way into Leon's mouth and nips his bottom lip. He presses him down against the bed, both men groaning at the feel of skin on skin.

“Fuck,” Leon gasps when the older man teases across his nipples and then keeps moving lower, unzipping the agent's jeans. Chris works his pants and boxers down his hips, letting his cock jump free. The look on his face only makes Leon harder as the man settles across his thighs and stares at him hungrily.

“God, you're gorgeous,” the captain breathes, a rush of warm air brushing across Leon’s dick. He can't stop himself from twitching, his whole body flushing from embarrassment and lust. None of his one-night stands ever looked at him like that, not even Ada, and the honest appreciation catches him off guard. But Chris doesn't hesitate. The other man bends his head and swallows Leon down in one quick move.

The agent finally stops thinking as wet heat envelops him and strong hands grab his waist to hold him down. Chris refuses to be rushed despite all Leon’s pleading; he slides down his length slowly, tonguing at the head and stroking around the base, callused fingers teasing at his balls.

A few more strokes and Leon is lost completely, his hands twisted in the sheets so he doesn't tug on Chris' hair. But every gasp and moan is rewarded as the captain takes him deeper and when Leon glances down, he knows he won't last long. The other man is a vision of debauchery, his eyes closed in pleasure and his lips stretched slick and red. Leon has dreamed about this but the reality is better. So much better and his self-control is slipping fast.

“Babe, I'm gonna….” the agent warns when a particularly hard suck brings him to the edge. He's trying to hold off, trying to enjoy this to the fullest, but Chris doesn't pull away. The other man just bobs his head and takes him deeper, pushing forward until Leon's cock nudges at his throat. Then the captain swallows, a sudden heat and pressure, and Leon can’t hold back anymore. He comes with a sharp cry, his whole body arching underneath Chris’ hands.

“Get up here,” the agent orders when he can speak again, yanking the other man up the bed to kiss him filthily. He chases the taste of his own cum on the captain’s lips as he slides one hand inside his boxers. Chris’ length is hot and heavy against his palm, thick and fucking perfect, and Leon definitely needs to get that dick inside him soon.

But for now he simply twists his wrist and licks the groan from Chris' mouth. The older man shudders above him, pushing his hips into Leon's hand and kissing back hungrily. He lets the pre-cum slick his strokes as he starts up a rough rhythm, teasing his thumb across the leaking head and using his free hand to pull the captain as close as possible.

“Come on, babe,” Leon murmurs. “I want to see you fall apart.”

He squeezes a little tighter, moving his hand faster the way Chris seems to like. The other man breaks their kiss and buries his face in Leon's shoulder, biting at his neck to muffle another cry. Too hard at first but he gentles when the agent hisses, soon hitting that perfect edge of pleasure tinged with pain.

Leon won’t come again this quickly but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy it. He lets the pleasure wash over him, relaxing into the feeling even as he focuses on Chris – his gasps, his moans, his shudders. The agent has always liked to make his partners happy and it's so much better with someone that he loves.

He can feel Chris trembling, cock twitching in his grip as he tries to hold together and Leon can't have that. So he growls into the captain’s ear.

“Want to watch you shatter, babe. Want to see you lose control. Can you do that for me? Can you come right now?”

With one last flick of his fingers, Chris does exactly that. The older man moans his name and spills into his hand. Leon only catches the edge of his expression, blissed out and beautiful, but he thinks that he's addicted. All he wants to do is to see that face again.

The agent wipes his hand on the sheet as the captain slumps on top of him, panting heavily. Then Leon strokes down Chris' back, slow and soothing until his breathing starts to ease.

“So that was pretty awesome,” the older man mumbles eventually. “But I'd really like to fuck you. Or you can fuck me, I'm not particular. We should totally do that but I'm gonna need a nap first. I'm not twenty anymore.”

“Neither am I,” Leon chuckles. “But doing both sounds good to me. Hell, let's just do everything. I'm free until Tuesday so we should have the time.”

“Great. Nap then sex. I like this plan,” Chris tells him, nuzzling his face against the agent’s skin. “Do you need me to move? I know I'm heavy.”

“Nah. I like it,” he replies. Leon likes the weight, likes having proof that the other man's not leaving, and his heart flutters when Chris settles against his chest more comfortably.

“I like you too. Now sleep,” the captain orders as he presses a soft kiss to Leon's neck. “When we wake up, remind me to show you just how big my shower is.”

Seconds later, the other man is out like a light and Leon resigns himself to sleeping with the lamp on. There's no way he's going to get up right now. But that's okay. The agent has slept in much worse places and he follows Chris down into dreamland soon enough.

Leon wakes up gross and sticky but the captain's shower is more than big enough for two. Of course, washing quickly turns to shower sex and that sets the tone for the next few days. The two men don't actually leave the house again during his brief vacation and by the time the agent has to go back to work, they've christened every room.

Chapter Text

Chris has been dating Leon for about three months when he wakes up with a knife against his throat. He snaps alert the second that he feels the blade touch skin, but it's too late by then; the captain can only lie there frozen, his fingers twitching for the gun beside his bed.

He can't see the intruder from this angle and his mind races as he tries to figure out who's come for him. It can't be Leon. The other man has nightmares but they've yet to make him violent and he's not here anyway, off on yet another mission to the far side of the world.

An enemy then, Chris thinks as the knife presses down a little harder. This intruder has to be skilled to get past his security and get this closer without waking him. But now that Wesker's gone, he can't think of anyone who cares enough to hurt him personally. Red Umbrella probably wants him dead – what’s left of it – but its legacy has always been more focused on mad science than assassination. For them he’d simply wake up with a Licker in his yard.

“Careful, Redfield. Don't hurt yourself by thinking.”

The voice is female, cold and scornful as it cuts through the dark. The woman sounds familiar but Chris can't seem to place her. Not until she leans into the moonlight from the window, settling on the edge of his mattress gracefully.

“Ada Wong,” he hisses, every instinct screaming to attack.

“Uh-uh, no sudden moves,” the woman warns when the captain's muscles tense. “I wouldn't want to slit your throat by accident.”

“Of course. You'd only kill me on purpose,” Chris snaps back, though he makes himself relax against the bed. Ada may have been framed for his squad’s deaths, but that doesn't mean he likes her. She's far from a heroine based on everything he's seen. “What are you doing here? I didn't think that cold-blooded mercenaries made house calls.”

“We don't. I made an exception just for you,” Ada replies with that infuriating smirk, the only expression he's ever seen on the woman's face. “We need to have a conversation and somehow I didn't think you'd let me in if I knocked on the front door.”

“You were right,” he growls, his temper barely held in check. “What could we possibly have to talk about?”

“Leon Kennedy,” she tells him and his heart goes cold. If Ada has hurt Leon, turned on him for real like Chris has always thought she would, he's going to rip her apart with his bare hands.

“What about Leon?” he chokes out, forcing the words between the fear and the fury in his throat. But Ada simply looks at him with that same shark-toothed grin.

“You've been dating for three months according to my sources. What are your intentions? The end goal so to speak.”

“My intentions?” Chris repeats. He knows he must sound like an idiot but he's starting to wonder if he's dreaming because this conversation makes no sense at all.

“Yes. Are you just in this for a fuck or do you actually care about him? Leon is a good man but he trusts too easily,” Ada tells him without a hint of irony. “I want to know if you plan to break his heart.”

“What? Like you did?” the captain can't stop himself from asking. It's not the smartest thing to say but who the hell does this woman think she is? Ada is the one who's been stringing Leon on for twenty years.

However, the woman simply laughs.

“I like you, Redfield. You're stupid, but I like you,” Ada says before her voice turns steel again. “Now answer the question before I decide to kill you after all.”

“Of course, I don't plan to hurt him. He's been jerked around enough,” Chris replies, unable to keep the judgment from his tone. He sees no reason not to tell her; the captain's not ashamed of his relationship and the more he keeps her talking, the better chance he has to find an opening.

“I'll admit that I don't know where we're going. We might breakup at some point but it won't be because of me. I'm in this for the long haul. Leon is amazing. He's kind, funny, and hot as hell, and he’s spent his whole life helping people. The man deserves someone to take care of him in turn. I want to be that guy. I want to be the one who makes him smile and holds him when he cries.”

The captain doesn't mean to bare his heart completely, not to Ada-fucking-Wong, but Leon brings it out in him. Even here with a knife against his throat, the thought of Leon makes him smile and if this woman is here to warn him off, Chris isn't backing down.

She already had her chances – more than she deserved – and she's done nothing but hurt Leon every time. Now it's his turn and the captain will fight her if he has to; for Leon he'd fight Tyrants on his own.

“You actually think he's funny?” Ada scoffs. “Maybe you do deserve each other.”

Chris can't read her expression; he can't tell if she's joking or actually serious. But before he decides if he really wants to ask, the woman chuckles quietly.

“That's my question answered then. I'll back off for now. However, if it turns out that you're lying….” Ada tells him, pressing her blade down again. “If you hurt him needlessly, you will never see me coming. You won't even wake up before I’ve carved out your beating heart.”

Her voice is calm, almost conversational, which only makes the threat more chilling, and Chris can't stop a shiver when she leans in to kiss his cheek.

“You'll want to get that,” the woman says.

“Get wha-”

His question is interrupted by the buzz of his doorbell and he glances toward the sound instinctively. Ada takes advantage of his distraction and slips to the bedroom window between one blink and the next. Chris pushes himself upright, still feeling the phantom echo of her blade against his neck.

“Hey, wait!” he orders but Ada simply gives him a snappy wave and disappears. The captain stares after her blankly, wondering how the hell she timed that, until his doorbell rings again.

“All right, all right. Hold your horses,” Chris mutters, throwing on a hoodie before heading down the stairs. The bell just keeps on buzzing and he's seriously irritated when he reaches the front door.

“What?!” the captain roars as he throws the door open and then regrets it instantly because Leon is standing on his porch.

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up,” the man stammers, clearly startled by his shout. He looks exhausted, bleary-eyed and swaying on his feet. “I was just…. I got back early and I thought…. I can come back another time.”

“No, wait,” Chris says as the agent turns to leave. He reaches out to take his arm, telegraphing the move so he doesn't startle him. But Leon just melts into the touch without resistance, almost collapsing into his chest entirely.

“Jesus, Leon. When did you last sleep?” he mutters into the agent's hair.

“I'm not sure. What time is it?” the younger man asks vaguely. “I'm supposed to be debriefing but Hunnigan said she'd cover for me. Say I took the next plane in. But I really can just crash in a hotel.”

“Don't be stupid. You know you're always welcome here,” the captain tells him. “Now come on, let's get you inside.”

Chris isn't sure that Leon really hears him. But the fact that the agent trusts him enough to be this vulnerable makes him protective and so damn fond at the same time. He tugs the other man inside and locks the door before heading back upstairs. The captain keeps up a running patter as he leads Leon to the bathroom, meant more to soothe than start a conversation. The agent seems to be tracking about one word in five, but he perks up a bit when Chris mentions showering.

Leon's hands are steady even now as he undresses, but Chris strips down to join him beneath the water anyway. It's probably a good thing since the agent nearly falls asleep there in the shower, almost purring in contentment as the captain washes him. He cleans the younger man thoroughly, taking this chance to check him for injuries.

Thankfully he finds only scrapes and bruises and they'll be gone by morning with the way that Leon heals. Chris knows it isn't natural but he doesn't plan to ask; everyone in this business picks up something eventually. It's not as though the captain isn't stronger than he should be and considering the danger that he faces regularly, the agent needs every advantage he can get.

So Chris turns off the water and wraps Leon in his fluffiest white towel. He helps the other man dry off his hair and then tucks him beneath the covers carefully.

“Stay?” Leon murmurs with a yawn, grabbing the captain's wrist when he starts to move away.

“I will. I just need to turn the lights off,” he says. Like Chris would actually leave Leon naked and rumpled in his bed.

“Good. Don't let me sleep too long,” the agent orders before he lets himself pass out. The way he curls into his pillow is just too adorable and Chris watches him for a minute before turning away to putter around the room. The captain pulls on another pair of boxers and sets his alarm as the other man requested. Then he shuts off the lights and slides into his bed.

Leon doesn't even stir when Chris wraps one arm around him. The younger man is out cold – more unconscious than asleep – and the DSO is definitely working him too hard. It seems like he's always on a mission or being called in for debriefings with no real breaks in-between and the captain can see him wearing thin. At this rate, he’s going to burn out and Chris really needs to talk to him about moderation. Colorado was bad enough; he never wants Leon to give up hope entirely.

Maybe I can get him loaned out to the BSAA? At least then I could keep an eye on him.

Chris will ask him in the morning. He doesn't know if the other man would want that, but it's a place to start and he needs to do something before drinking on the bad days turns to drinking all the time or Leon goes on another mission and just doesn't make it back.

The thought makes him clutch the agent tighter, burying his face in that stupidly soft hair. It's only been three months, but he doesn't want to lose this. He doesn't want to go back to the way things were before.

Chapter Text

Leon is more nervous than expected as he leads Chris into the DSO facility. He's been planning this for weeks – that's how long it took to get permission – so he feels like he should be ready. But being here in person has his stomach tightening. The agent has never told anyone about this place or about the deals he's made, and maybe this will be the thing that sends Chris running for the hills.

“Where are we anyway?” the captain asks. He sounds a bit on edge and Leon can't really blame him. The DSO must have used the same interior decorators as Umbrella since this hallway is stark white from wall-to-wall.

“The DSO calls it their 'rehabilitation center' but everyone knows that it's a lab,” the agent answers.

“A lab?” Chris echoes, his fingers twitching at the word.

“They had to research the virus to cure the virus,” Leon says. He knows these halls are bugged so he repeats the party line, though he can't quite keep the bitterness from his voice. “No monsters yet, don't worry; I’ve kept my eye on them. This is where Sherry spent most of her time after Raccoon City after all. But we’re not here about the lab. There’s someone I want you to meet and Sherry said she'd join us if she can.”

Hopefully that's enough for Chris to read between the lines. He's been asking about Leon's job lately, offering to get him a position with the BSAA instead and he deserves an explanation. The agent needs the captain to understand why he keeps saying no.

“Come on, she's just through here,” Leon continues, his stomach full of butterflies as he slides his key card through the last lock. He's not sure what he'll do if Chris hates Manuela or decides that she's a monster for the virus in her blood.

But he thinks the man will get it. The captain loves his sister unconditionally and he's been more than understanding about Leon's past so far. Chris always listens without prying, allowing the agent to spill his pain at his own pace.

It's honestly a little strange. He isn't used to dating someone who always takes his side and isn't even jealous. Possessive, yes, but Leon rather likes that, like being wanted openly.

All right. Moment of truth, he thinks, squaring his shoulders before opening the door. When they pass over the threshold, they find themselves in a lush garden, greenery and flowers as far as he can see. Leon knows they're still inside but it feels like he's walked back into the Amazon and he hears Chris gasp.

“Leon!”

He turns toward the cry, bracing himself just in time as Manuela slams into his arms. He sweeps the woman into a hug and spins her around before setting her back down on her feet.

“It's been too long, hermano,” she says with a delighted smile and Leon returns the expression helplessly.

“I know, little sis. I've missed you too,” he tells her. The agent lets Manuela go, looping one arm around her shoulders and pressing a kiss against her forehead. Leon means the words. She always makes the world seem brighter, her spirit strong as ever, and he sometimes can't believe that his girl grew up so well. She's come a long way from the frightened teenager that he met in South America and it’s good to see her happy even if his heart still aches for the moments that he’s missed.

“I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner,” he continues but she simply pats his cheek.

“It's not your fault, I know that. It's these hijos de puta,” Manuela tells him and Leon is caught between laughter and embarrassment at hearing the young woman curse. “Now, are you going to introduce me?”

“Oh right,” the agent starts. He didn't forget about his partner; he just got a bit distracted. But when he looks back at Chris, the other man is watching them with a soft smile that warms Leon from head to toe.

“Okay, um…. Manuela, meet Chris Redfield, my uh…. boyfriend?” Leon stutters, trying the word out on his tongue. He's never introduced Chris as anything to anyone before. “Chris, this is Manuela Hidalgo, my sister.”

Leon sees a brief flash of recognition on the other man's face – he's obviously placed the name – but the captain doesn't ask even though he must have questions. He just reaches out to shake her hand.

“Boyfriend, huh? You've got good taste, hermano,” Manuela says, looking his partner up and down. “It's nice to finally meet you, Chris. I've heard so many things.”

“Oh. From Leon?” the older man asks. He’s frowning slightly, probably wondering why Leon told Manuela about him and not the other way around. However, before the agent can explain that no, he really didn't, his little sister laughs.

“Of course not. This one never talks about anything personal,” Manuela giggles. “Sherry called me. Leon hasn't dated anyone seriously in years so this is large news. I'm pretty sure the entire chain knows of you by now.”

Manuela!” the agent groans.

“It's only because we care about you,” she retorts before turning back to Chris. “Come on, boyfriend. I'll give you a tour of my garden while you tell me everything.”

Manuela links her arm with the captain's and sweeps him along through sheer personality. Leon follows after them, tucking his hands into his pockets and watching their conversation with a smile on his face. His sister looks tiny compared to the muscled soldier but what she lacks in size, she makes up in vivacity. Manuela's eyes sparkle as she talks about her garden and all the work she’s done. This place is both project and safe haven and Leon has enjoyed watching her plants grow throughout the years even as he hated seeing her trapped here.

Chris makes all the right noises, admiring the plants and asking about Manuela’s life, and she tells him what she can. The other man has his serious face on, the one that says: “Don't fuck this up,” and Leon falls in love a little more. The captain isn't stupid. He must know there's something off here but he's going with the flow for now.

Leon's phone buzzes, cutting off that train of thought. The agent pulls out his phone and sees a text from Sherry, one that makes him frown.

“Sorry to interrupt,” he tells the other two. “But I've got to go get Sherry.”

“Is she all right?” Manuela asks, concern in her dark eyes. Worry and a hint of fire, the woman always ready to come to her sister's aid. But there's no need for that and Leon doesn't want his girls to lose what freedom they have gained.

“Just a new guy giving her shit about her clearance,” he explains. “I'll take care of it.”

“Okay. But if you need me….” Manuela lets the silence speaks for itself as Chris watches them intently, trying to parse the meaning underneath.

“I'll be back in a few minutes, I promise,” the agent says, kissing them both on the cheek before walking toward the door.

“We'll meet you by the pond,” his sister calls after him. Leon acknowledges her words with a quick wave and then heads out of the garden to bring his daughter in. He retraces his steps and finds Sherry at the security checkpoint, her expression irritated as she argues with a guard.

“What is going on here?” Leon snaps in his best commanding growl. He always feels ridiculous when he tries this outside of missions but the guard jumps to attention speedily enough.

“This man is refusing me entrance. He claims I don't have clearance but I have my pass right here,” his daughter explains, waving her ID card.

“Then what's the problem?” Leon asks. “Everything seems to be in order.”

“Well, sir…. it's just…. the pass says Agent Birkin but she's listed in the system as an asset,” the man tells him, staring at the agent with something much like wonder in his eyes. Leon isn't sure why some of the younger men treat him like a legend for surviving but he's not above using their awe to his advantage now and then. If this nonsense had to happen, at least he has a fan.

“Look, Agent…. Johnson is it?” Leon starts. He's just reading the man's name-tag, but Johnson brightens anyway. “This is a brave new world we live in. A person can be both an agent and an asset and Birkin here has been part of the fight against B.O.W.s for longer than you've probably been alive.”

“But the clearance doesn't match,” Johnson answers stubbornly. “What if she's trying to escape?”

Jesus Christ. Do they train these kids at all? the DSO agent wonders, trying not to lose his cool. “You think she might be trying to escape into this facility by giving you her name and telling you she's here.”

“Exactly, sir. I'm so glad you understand,” Johnson says and it takes everything Leon has not to laugh hysterically.

“Right…. well, you've clearly got all the angles covered, but I need to talk to Agent Birkin. Would you please release her into my custody? I promise that I'll send her back where she belongs afterward.”

Senior agent or not, Leon doesn't actually have that kind of clout. But thankfully this overzealous guard dog is too star-struck to even ask for his ID.

“Of course, sir. Right away, sir,” Johnson tells him before buzzing the door open and waving them both through. Once they're out of earshot, Leon and Sherry look at each other and immediately start cackling.

“Is it just me or was that needlessly complicated?” the agent asks when he can finally breathe again. “Seriously, remind me to sic Hunnigan on whoever trains these idiots. At this point she's probably got the contacts to do some cleaning house.”

“Hey, it's better than it used to be,” Sherry tells him. “Especially now that Simmons is long gone. Remember when you had to apply for permission three months in advance just to bring me a birthday cake?”

“Poked the damn thing full of holes, too, like they thought I was trying to smuggle in some contraband,” Leon grumbles, too annoyed to watch his tongue. “I can't believe Claire told you. It was supposed to be a surprise.”

“She thought it was sweet,” his daughter answers. “It was sweet. I still can't believe you did that every year despite the paperwork.”

“Why wouldn't I?” the agent asks indignantly but Sherry just pats him on the shoulder with a grin.

“You're something else, you know that?” she says, shaking her head in disbelief. “Chris had better realize that he's one lucky bastard. Speaking of which, where is he anyway?”

“I left him with Manuela. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and I didn't think I'd need armed backup to deal with one stubborn guard.”

“Are you sure that was wise? The two of them alone?” Sherry questions, raising one eyebrow.

She actually has a point. But when Leon listens for a moment, he doesn't hear explosions so he figures they'll be fine. “Consider it a trial by fire. Chris will have to get along with both of you if he's going to stick around.”

“You think he will?”

“I hope so,” Leon tells her honestly. “I haven't managed to scare him off so far.”

“I wish I could say the same,” she says with a despondent sigh and he snaps alert.

“Hey, what is it?” the agent asks. “I thought you and Jake were doing well. Do I need to kick his ass?”

“No!” Sherry snaps back instantly. “Things with Jake are good. Mostly. I mean, I love him and I know he loves me, but sometimes I wish I had something more tangible. It's been almost six years now, off and on; shouldn't we be married? I thought he was going to propose about a week ago – it was the most romantic date – but then he got called off on a mission and I'm just afraid we'll miss our chance.”

Her voice breaks on the last word, eyes damp and shining as Leon pulls her into a hug.

“It's going to be all right,” he promises his daughter. “That boy is head over heels for you, has been from the beginning. He's probably waiting for the perfect moment and you know what? If he takes too long, nothing says that you can't ask instead.”

He's rewarded with a chuckle even as Sherry sniffs and wipes her eyes. Leon would normally be wary of making those sorts of promises – he's always tried to be honest with his girl – but he knows something that she doesn't. Two weeks ago, Jake came to see him and asked for his blessing, ring in hand.

“Who else would I ask?” the kid had scoffed when Leon couldn't hold back his surprise. Jake had seemed a bit embarrassed but he'd pressed on anyway. “Sherry thinks the world of you and I'm not gonna make her choose. So, you good with this?”

Leon had said yes, of course. The agent wasn't going to deny his daughter's happiness. So he'd slapped Jake on the shoulder and told him, “Welcome to the family, kid. Just remember that if you hurt her, I've killed much worse than you.”

Leon gave the young man his best slasher smile and he seemed suitable cowed as he swore he never would.

“Seriously, congratulations. You two are good together and I was wondering if you'd ever have the nerve.”

“Screw you, old man,” was the answer and thus all was right in the world. Jake left after a few more rounds of insults, looking nervous and excited at the same time. The kid might be rough around the edges but he had a good heart and Leon could only laugh when he found a new name on his skin that evening. Jake Muller punched across his shoulder like a bruise.

So Leon knows that his promise is the truth. “Try not to worry so much. I plan to dance at your wedding before I'm done.”

“Thank you,” Sherry mumbles against his chest. She hugs him tighter for a moment before pulling back again. “Do you think…. if he does ask, or I do…. would you…. would you walkmedowntheaisle?”

The words come out in one long rush and it takes Leon a second to parse her meaning out. But when he does, the agent feels a rush of happiness.

“I'd be honored,” Leon tells her.

“Really? I mean, I know you're not that much older than me but I've always thought of you like a father and-”

“Sherry, it's okay,” he interrupts firmly to stop the nervous rambling. “I feel the same way. I always have. You and Manuela are my family and that's never gonna change. So I will be glad to walk you down the aisle whenever that day comes.”

“I…. thanks, dad,” his girl whispers, darting in to hug him one more time. “Now, we should find my sister and your man before they get bored and blow this place.”

“Probably not a bad idea,” Leon agrees. “Shall we?”

He holds out his hand for Sherry and they walk back to Manuela's garden hand in hand. Thankfully nothing is on fire when they arrive at the small pond near the center of the room. In fact, Chris and Manuela are chatting pleasantly over tea and sandwiches.

“I was starting to wonder if we should send out a search party,” the other man calls out.

“Sorry, love, just bureaucracy,” Leon sighs. He gives Chris a quick kiss before sitting down next to him.

“Here, you've got to try these.” The captain hands him a plate of tiny sandwiches and the agent pops one into his mouth.

“Holy crap, these are amazing,” Leon exclaims as delicate flavors melt across his tongue. “Where did you get them? I know the kitchens here do not make food this good.”

“I asked one of my handlers to get me something special,” Manuela tells him. “We have a pretty good relationship these days.”

“I bet you do,” Sherry snorts. “Are they cute?”

“She is a lovely woman and that's all you need to know,” her sister answers archly before they both break into laughter. Leon watches fondly as they hang off each other snickering. His girls are usually so serious but like this they can relax. Together Sherry and Manuela can be young women instead of assets on a page.

Indeed, the afternoon passes quickly in teasing conversation and all too soon the four of them are saying their farewells.

“I'll visit again as soon as I can,” Leon swears as he hugs Manuela tight.

“I know, you always do,” she tells him, returning his embrace. “Take care of yourself, hermano. Don't let them overwork you.”

“I'll do my best,” he answers before stepping away to give the others room.

Manuela hugs Sherry and Chris in turn, leaning up to whisper something in his boyfriend's ear. Leon is too far away to hear her but he trusts the other man to tell him if it matters. So he just wraps an arm around his daughter's shoulders and starts walking toward the door. Chris slides in next to him and they make their way outside without further incident.

Sherry promises to call him later before climbing on her motorcycle and roaring off into the night. Leon gave her the bike on her last birthday – his hazard pay is good for something besides medical expenses – and he smiles at the memory of teaching her to drive. His luck with vehicles isn't nearly as bad when he's not on a mission and Sherry took to the bike like a natural, leaning into the curves without fear.

“Come on, we should head home,” Chris says, nudging the agent from his thoughts. They drive for about five minutes before his boyfriend finally asks, “Manuela is infected, isn't she? T-Veronica?”

“Yeah. How'd you know?”

“She told me she'd burn me alive if I ever hurt you and well, I met Alexia. But she seems…. how is she still so in control?”

“No one knows,” Leon tells him. “Manuela is a miracle. It's been fifteen years now, more or less, and she's never once hurt anyone by accident. I know her blood was invaluable for some of the vaccines but I should have done better than I did.”

“What do you mean?” the captain asks.

“She was sixteen when I met her, the same age as Sherry. Just a kid, really, and her own father gave her T-Veronica in an attempt to save her life. He was a drug lord and bought the virus on the black market. For her, originally, but things got out of hand. When Krauser and I were sent to investigate the rumors, Manuela helped the two of us take her father down. And I... I couldn't leave her there after that: infected and alone in South America.

“So I brought her to USSTRATCOM and it took everything I had to keep them from killing her outright. Manuela was in control by then but the bastards didn't care. That's why I can't join the BSAA. I'd love to, don't get me wrong, but between Sherry and Manuela, I just can't risk it. I've sold my soul too far.”

“Leon, what are you talking about?” Chris asks. He sounds faintly horrified, like he can guess but doesn't want to, and Leon hesitates. The only person he's ever told the truth was Krauser and that relationship hadn't exactly ended well. Even Sherry and Manuela were always told he volunteered, though his girls are probably suspicious after all these years.

But he doesn't want to lie to Chris. This may be the truth that breaks them, but he's tired of white-washing the DSO's dark history. So Leon slumps down in his seat and shuts his eyes; this will be easier if he doesn't have to see the other man's expression while he talks.

“I didn't exactly join USSTRATCOM willingly,” the agent admits and these first words are the hardest. “Sherry and I were picked up by government agents a few weeks after Raccoon City. Claire was gone by then, off to Europe chasing you, and they said…. Simmons said that they would murder Sherry if I didn't work for them, carve her into pieces for science and the cure. So I said yes. I became their agent to keep my girl alive.

“I should have gotten Sherry out but there were just too many guards. She grew up there, Chris, in labs and research centers. She never got to be a child because I brought her to a prison. And then I did the same thing to Manuela four years later. Any mission, any time, that's the deal I made. But I kept them both alive and the cost was worth it. I'd make that choice again.”

There's silence when he finishes, filling the space between them. When Leon can't take it can't take it any longer, he glances over at Chris and he's not expecting what he sees. His boyfriend looks completely devastated, his knuckles white around the wheel.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Chris bites out, pulling the car over. “You've been fighting B.O.W.s for decades and you didn't even volunteer?”

“None of us asked for this, Chris. We all just stumbled into outbreaks and had the good luck to survive,” Leon tells him. “So I'm not complaining. I've made my peace with the situation. I just wanted you to understand. I mean, I should have done better for my family but at least I'm helping people. Someone has to save the world and at least I've got the skills.”

“You know I fucking love you,” the other man bursts out and Leon startles, staring at the captain in surprise. “You're just the most amazing, selfless…. ridiculous…. I don't care if I don't have your name yet. I love you and I will.

No one has ever told him that. But Chris speaks with such conviction. He truly seems to mean it and the agent doesn't know how to react.

“I don't…. you…. me?” he stutters before words fail him utterly.

So Leon leans over the center console and kisses Chris with everything he has. Because he's starting to believe that the older man is serious, that he's truly going to stay no matter what. So maybe he can have this. He sold his life away to save his daughters and he can't regret that, but maybe he can be happy with the remnants he has left.

Chapter Text

Learning that Leon was essentially conscripted throws Chris for a loop. He can't believe he didn't notice. How could he not realize the kind of assholes who were running USSTRATCOM? How could he not realize that the agent needed help? Thinking about their conversations now, it seems so obvious; it’s not like Leon ever tried to hide his weariness.

Chris wants to fix this. Now that he knows the truth, he has to help somehow. But Leon won't talk about it. He changes the subject every time Chris brings up the DSO, becoming defensive when the captain tries to push. The agent doesn’t seem to realize that he deserves so much better and they get so little time together that Chris doesn’t want to fight. So he lets Leon distract him with sex instead; that at least is still fantastic even though the man’s willingness to settle for the status quo is driving him insane.

He assumes that the agent just isn’t listening. But then Leon hands him a phone number one Sunday afternoon.

“If you really want to help the girls, you should start with Hunnigan,” the other man says softly. “I don't have the leverage to change their situation but Hunnigan knows everyone.”

“You trust her?”

“With my life. I probably should have told her the truth years ago. But I didn’t want to drag her down when I’ve always been expendable. Simmons and his ilk made that very clear and I couldn't risk my girls losing their only ally. At least this way Claire still gets to visit periodically.”

Leon says this like a fact of life, not angry but resigned, and as usual, Chris is torn between hugging the man and smacking him upside the head. If he's learned anything over the last seven months, it's that the agent is ridiculously self-sacrificing. He'll put everything on the line for total strangers without a moment's hesitation but beyond the basics of survival, Leon can’t be bothered to take care of himself.

Even now, Chris isn't sure the other man believes that the BSAA can help him; he’s probably just surrendered to Chris’ pleading for his adopted family's sake. But that just makes him more determined to see this mission through.

So the captain calls up Hunnigan as soon as his date is over and arranges to meet her the next day. Chris is expecting someone severe and uncompromising: some kind of perfect handler without a human heart. But he's met at the cafe by a smiling woman who's obviously dressed for comfort and gives him a once-over without an ounce of shame.

“So you're the reason that I've lost my drinking buddy,” Hunnigan says in greeting. “I suppose that I can't blame him. From what I hear, you're dynamite in bed.”

“I'm sorry?” Chris asks blankly.

“Don't be sorry. That man has needed to get laid by someone nice for years. And you should hear him wax poetic about your dick when he's punch-drunk from a mission. That shit's hilarious,” she tells him, her smirk growing wider at the captain's awkward blush. “But you seem to be sticking around so I figured I should meet you. Leon is head over heels, you know, and before you hurt him – if you hurt him – I want you to remember that I know where your sister lives.”

Hunnigan doesn't change her expression but Chris recognizes a threat when he hears one and strangely, it makes him feel on even ground again.

“Don't worry. I've gotten that lecture from about five different people – including my own sister – and I have no intention of breaking Leon's heart. In fact, I'm here because I want your help for him.”

“Well, color me intrigued, Redfield,” the woman replies. “Let's get ourselves a table and then you can explain what's going on. No promises, but I'll listen. You've earned that much at least.”

The two of them pick a spot in the back corner where no one is likely to overhear their conversation. They order tea and coffee before Chris tells her about Leon’s situation. He tries to stick to the facts but he’s not entirely able to keep the anger from his voice. Hunnigan listens in silence, not asking any questions until the captain finishes.

“That explains some things,” she murmurs quietly and Chris sees a cold fury in her eyes. “I've had my suspicions for a while. No one else gets sent on as many missions without a break and I've had to fight for every inch of backup. I wish he'd told me earlier but Leon has never been the type to ask for help.”

“So you're in?”

“Yeah, Redfield, I'm in. This bullshit has been going on long enough. The DSO won't know what hit it when I'm through.”

Over the next few hours, Hunnigan proves that she does indeed know everyone. She and Chris work out a plan of attack, noting which people she can lean on and which they should avoid, and by the time they've finished, he is deeply grateful for Ingrid Hunnigan. More than that, the captain understands why Leon loves her and considers her a friend. Because this woman is ruthlessly competent, no-nonsense and straightforward, and willing to go out on a limb for the ones she cares about.

So Chris bids her farewell with a smile on his face, feeling far more optimistic than before. Although he’d been determined to help Leon, now he truly thinks that they can win. Hunnigan promises to call as soon as she knows more and with her on the case, it’s just a matter of time before the DSO is forced to treat Leon and his family like people instead of prisoners.

The woman calls a few days later and to his surprise, she’s decided that Sherry will be the easiest to free. Chris would have expected the DSO to be less attached to Leon than its so-called “assets” but Hunnigan seems sure.

“The G-Virus isn't considered a major threat compared to other strains these days,” she explains. “It doesn't spread like the zombie viruses and as an agent, Sherry doesn't have Leon's track record. She's good but she's not the best and after China, the DSO has never given her a proper chance to shine. As long as we make it seem like his idea, the Director will see transferring Sherry to the BSAA as a good way to help his budget instead of as letting a dangerous asset out of sight.”

“And you can do that?”

“Of course. I know where he goes golfing and I know his buddy's wife.”

“You know, that's kind of terrifying. I'm glad you're on our side,” Chris tells Hunnigan and he swears he hears her smirk right through the phone. “Will the same trick work for Leon?”

“Unfortunately, releasing him will be much harder. The current group in charge wasn't part of his recruitment – those bastards are all dead or retired – but they don't see him as a person. He's just their one-man-army and they won't want to let him go. Honestly, the Director and his colleagues have gotten complacent,” the woman says as her tone grows more sarcastic. “Weird attack of B.O.W.s? Just send in Agent Kennedy. For the price of a few guns and helicopters, he'll clean up the problem or at least flush out the culprits. After all, he's never failed before. He's the perfect agent, expendable but too damn good to die.”

“Are you saying it's impossible?”

“I'm saying it's gonna take some time, Redfield. And maybe a bit of blackmail. We'll see how things play out,” she tells him. “Seriously, if your main goal is just better support and real vacations then unionizing the DSO might be our best strategy.”

“Really?” Chris asks, but Hunnigan's not even listening.

“Actually, that's not a bad idea,” she mutters, speaking over him. “Never going to get OSHA compliance but the rest would follow Leon; most of his colleagues think he hung the moon. Hammer out a better contract... We could definitely improve the training regimen and I know our man isn't the only one who's starting to burn out. Trial by fire has never been the greatest plan. I'll have to get the girls out first but as long as the BSAA backs our play, I think it's doable.”

“Of course, anything you need,” the captain promises before he leaves her to her plotting. He thinks he may have accidentally started a revolution, but give how the US government has acted, he really doesn't care.

Not when he gets to tell Leon about Sherry's transfer only a few weeks later. The DSO signed her over just like Hunnigan predicted and Chris has already drawn up the paperwork to give her back her life. If Sherry still wants to be an agent, he could use her experience in vetting Blue Umbrella but he plans to give her a real choice and if she wants to leave, the captain will ensure that she's protected either way. The BSAA does not hold hostages.

“I can't believe you really did it,” Leon says when Chris shows him the papers and he doesn't think he's ever heard the man sound more relieved. He's even standing straighter like a weight that he's grown used to has finally disappeared.

“It's all official as of Tuesday,” the captain tells him. “And honestly, I didn't do much. It was mostly Hunnigan. She's the one who made this happen,”

“Maybe, but you're the one who asked,” the younger man replies before his lips twist bitterly. “I should have told her. Should've asked for help but I was too damn used to getting by alone. If I had, Sherry might have had a real life years ago.”

“Hey, this isn't your fault. You did the best you could and you got her this far. That's nothing to be ashamed of,” Chris says, wanting to take that pained look off Leon's face. “And who knows what would have happened if you'd tried this before. From what I saw, Simmons was a real piece of work. You’ve got us now and that’s what matters. Hunnigan is working on a plan for Manuela and then you afterward. She thinks that-”

“Don't tell me the details!” the agent cuts him off. “Unless you need me to do something, it's best if I don't know. Plausible deniability if the suits start sniffing around. I know that you’ll do everything you can and even if you can’t get me transferred, this is enough. This is already more than I ever thought we’d get. So I’m going to say thank you and then we’ll talk about other things.”

The captain opens his mouth to protest – he has every intention of helping Leon too – but he gets a bit distracted when the man drops to his knees. His boyfriend proceeds to show him just how grateful he can be and Chris is pretty sure that he'll never be able to look at his office the same way.

Even three months later, the memory still makes him smile and he finds himself thinking about Leon instead of his paperwork. Forcing his mind back to the present takes some effort and Chris rubs at the bridge of his nose, trying to ease the headache that's lodged behind his eyes. All he wants to do is go collapse before it turns into a migraine but he needs to finish this.

It took a lot of digging and the judicious use of blackmail but Hunnigan worked her magic and he’s looking at the contract to transfer Manuela Hidalgo into BSAA custody. They can work out her future later; the first step is getting her out of that damn lab and while she may miss her garden, a message passed through Sherry proved that she's more than ready to be free.

So Chris signs the last few pages before resting his elbows on the desk and rubbing at his eyes. He just needs a moment before he starts on his next task.

“Are you all right, babe? You look like shit.”

When he glances up, Leon is leaning against the door frame, his expression a mix of fondness and concern.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, wondering if he's dreaming. The captain has had dreams like this. But his boyfriend is usually a lot more naked instead of frowning worriedly.

“I was in the area so I thought we'd go get lunch. I texted you an hour ago, Chris, and you agreed. You don't remember?”

“Really? Are you sure?” Chris says as he pulls his phone out of his pocket but when he looks, he sees Leon's message clear as day. He even sees his own reply, though for the life of him he can't remember writing it.

“Huh, that's weird,” he mumbles. The captain stares at his phone in confusion until Leon walks over and takes it from his hand. The younger man sits on the edge of the desk and presses his palm to Chris' forehead.

“Jesus, babe, you're burning up,” the agent exclaims. “Forget about lunch; I'm taking you home.”

“But I have so much work to do,” Chris protests.

“It'll wait until tomorrow. You're in no state to do anything but rest.”

Leon accepts no arguments. He simply bundles Chris out of the office and into his car before he can even blink. The captain isn’t sure when his boyfriend grabbed his keys, but he doesn’t protest when Leon settles in the driver’s seat. He just rest rests his aching head against the window and dozes until his boyfriend nudges him again.

“Come on, love. Let's get you to bed,” the agent says, strong hands helping Chris out of the car. Leon supports most of his weight on their way into the house before sitting him down at the kitchen table. The agent moves around the room with confidence as he puts on a pot of water and the sight warms the captain’s heart. He likes seeing Leon comfortable, so domestic in his house.

“Here, swallow these,” his boyfriend says, handing him two pills and a glass of water. His hand shakes a little as he drinks, each swallow stabbing at his throat. Chris is crashing hard and it takes him a second to realize that Leon has called his name again.

“Are you up for a shower or do you just want to sleep?” the younger man asks gently.

“Sleep sounds good,” the captain manages with effort. He honestly doesn't have the energy for anything else right now.

“All right. Let's get you into something comfortable.”

With Leon's help, Chris makes it to his bedroom, though it's slow going on the stairs. He almost never gets sick and he can't remember the last time he felt this awful. Chris could power through if he had to but it's nice to let his boyfriend take care of him instead. Leon’s hands are sure and steady as he strips the captain from his clothes and then tucks him into bed.

“I'll be back in a minute, babe,” the agent tells him, stroking damp hair off his face. “I'm just going to get you some tea and medicine.”

“But then you'll leave and I don't want that,” Chris mumbles. He can feel exhaustion tugging at him but he's determined to get his point across. “You should move in with me.”

“Are you serious?” the other man sounds surprised even though he shouldn’t. Chris has hardly kept quiet about his feelings and he even has a mark now just like he said he would: Leon S. Kennedy wrapped around his neck where the agent tends to hold him when they kiss.

“Of course, I'm serious. I want you to drink coffee in my kitchen and stash your guns around the house. I want us to sleep wrapped around each other when we're not off on missions and have this be where you come home to when your work is done. You can have half the closet or just take the whole damn thing; I tend to wear the same three outfits anyway. You don't even have to pay me rent unless you want to. In which case, thanks, cause my mortgage kind of bites.

“Come on, Leon. I know you hate your apartment. You keep telling me it’s bugged and we could move your stuff next week. What do you say, sweetheart? Let's get domestic.”

“And you think I'm bad at this,” the agent says instead of answering. But his tone is fond and his smile soft as he leans down to kiss Chris on the forehead. “I'm going to get the tea. If you still want me to move in when you're not running a massive fever, we can talk about it then.”

Leon slips away from the bed and walks toward the door as Chris calls after him, “That wasn't a no.”

“You're right. It wasn't,” his boyfriend agrees with an impish grin before disappearing down the stairs and the captain is pretty sure that he's the luckiest guy in the whole world. Because he's going to get better. He's going to ask Leon to move in with him again and he’s sure that the answer will be positive.

So Chris will get to show the agent the joys of domesticity while Hunnigan moves onto phase three of her grand plan. They’ve freed the girls already and when that woman’s finished, the DSO won’t have its claws in Leon anymore. Those bastards will be lucky to have any men at all.

The captain doesn’t expect his boyfriend to stop fighting monsters. But if he’s working for the BSAA, at least he won’t be run into the ground. Leon will actually have time for a life between his missions and they’ll make that life together if Chris has any say.

So he lets himself drift off, stirring just enough to pull the agent closer when Leon slips in next to him.