“Visitor for you Ms. Valentine.” The staff member said poking her head through the door to Jill’s room while Jill sat quietly on a simple couch by the window. She looked up from her book and nodded without a word. The orderly stepped out and a smiling Chris Redfield stepped in holding a small bundle of flowers. Jill’s blank expression was broken by a reluctant smile as she set her book on the small coffee table in front of her.
“You dyed it back? good, I can’t see you as anything other than a brunette." Chris mused quietly walking over to the dresser in the corner of the room, replacing a similar set of wilting flowers in a clear vase with those he had brought. "How’ve you been doing?”
“Terrible, they won’t let me leave yet and I’m caught up on all my reading, this is my second time around on ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’.” Jill tossed back sarcastically, Chris laughing as he tossed the dead flowers in a small, covered trash can in the corner by the door.
“At least you’ll be coming back with a sharp mind; we need that more than ever.” Chris added, his tone diminishing to a pensive darkness.
“I only know what a civilian would but from what I understand… things are better yet far more complicated. Not to mention what the cost has been.” Jill spoke softly as she approached the tender subject. “Are you doing ok?” Jill asked as Chris seemed to stare off into space. He snapped back with a curl in the corner of his mouth.
“You are here recovering from one of the most physically and mentally traumatic things I could possible imagine going through and you ask me how I’m doing.” Chris laughed walking over to Jill and sitting down on the couch next to her. “I’m ok, losing men is never easy, but I’ve been good about seeing the shrink I’m… better than I was a few years ago.” Chris added waxing serious again. Jill placed her hand on his shoulder, not saying a word for several moments before Chris looked up to meet her gaze.
“Thanks for not bringing anyone… I know it’s probably hard to keep everyone at bay.” Jill said softly as he looked at her.
“Ha, I had to almost fight Claire to keep her out of my car this time; you know how she is, but I agree with you.”
“I just don’t want anyone to see me like this; I don’t even know if I’m ready to see anyone yet.” Jill seemed to ask herself as she looked away.
“I know, I’ll try to keep them tamped down until you’re ready, even after you get out of here. You know they’re only restless to see you because they care right? Especially Claire, I catch crap every time I come back from these visits.” Chris grinned as Jill laughed.
“She’s always acted like she’s actually your big sister; I really don’t want her to see me like this though, I couldn’t take the way she cares at the moment.” Jill muttered as Chris nodded softly, letting the thought linger before speaking.
“Her best quality though, she just doesn’t know what to do when you don’t need her to go through hell for you. She idolizes you, even more now that she’s joining S.O.A. as soon as she graduates.” Chris reassured as he looked back at Jill.
“Really? She passed the entry course?” Jill smiled, eager to move away from discussing herself.
“Oh yeah, blew everyone else in her class out of the water, keeps saying that she wants to be the first one people think of when they say, ‘Agent Redfield’.” Chris stood as he laughed over the antics of his sister. “We’re getting a new director too by the way; names Roland out from the Pacific branch.”
“Really? So I’ve been out for that long. Do you know anything about him?” Jill thought out loud as she put her feet up on the coffee table.
“Not too much, mission focused but savvy enough to navigate the politics. Claire has a relationship with him though.” Chris said as he idly paced around Jills rehab suite.
“Huh, from that stunt she pulled a year ago?”
“That’s the one, I was able to use that little bit of networking to get a private meeting with him as they start the transition.” Chris said taking an envelope out of his jacket pocket and tossing it next to Jill’s feet on the coffee table.
“And this is?” Jill asked as she picked up and tore open the envelope, raising an eyebrow as she looked at her old partner.
“A directive clearing you for duty within three months as long as you meet the rest of your benchmarks and pass PT, signed by our new director. You will then be immediately reinstated as a senior special operations agent for the BSAA. They’ll likely just have you do retraining for a while but you’ll be back in the fight.” Chris said, barely suppressing the big grin on his face. Jill carefully read through the first paragraph of the memo detailing her new orders before looking up at Chris with a fluttering smile.
“Thank you… it’s not enough but I don’t have anything else to say.” Jill said softly as she kept reading.
“Claire and I have kept up your place in Baltimore too, you can go home the second you get out. I can’t promise what state your piano is going to be in though, we had a couple cold winters and we turned the heat off. If it’s bad I’ll hire the tuner, call it your graduating rehab gift.” Chris added as Jill stood and walked over to him. She threw her arms around him as he silently reciprocated. Jill stepped back after a long moment.
“Let me know if there’s anything you need from me; you’ve pulled me out of this hole practically single handedly, it’s about time I start acting like a partner again.” Jill said with a concerned look at Chris’s stoic face. He nodded silently, taking a moment to find his words.
“The funeral was hard. I don’t think I talked to anyone for a week after; not even Claire. I didn’t drink though, I didn’t run off; he pulled me from that gloom once, I wasn’t going back. I’m back to the fight and that’s what he would want me doing.” Chris said as his eyes softly misted as he spoke. Jill grabbed his hand and squeezed softly as he brushed the corner of his eye with his free hand. He sighed loudly before collecting his composure again, smiling at Jill as he did.
“Thanks for asking, it means a lot. I… have you been to see Valerie and Edelie since Africa?” Chris asked after pausing for a moment. Jill’s smile vanished as her brow furrowed with an expression of shame and guilt.
“No… I haven’t” Jill stuttered turning around and stepping back to the couch. She covered her mouth with her hand and stared in silence as Chris waited quietly. “How long has it been now?” Jill asked gesturing openly as she looked back at Chris.
“A few years, I think. I didn’t let the caretaker know when you went missing, a mistake that was probably for the best. I had planned on coming up with something to say after uroboros incident but…” Chris trailed off. “I’ll meet with Roland again, within your first month I’ll get you a week and a plane ticket.” He added as Jill sat down, still in thought. She looked back up at her old friend and forced a smile.
“Thanks Chris, for everything. I’m looking forward to coming back.”