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Shake This Frost Off of My Bones

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Chris had to put his worries about Leon to the side.

He had to. As much as it had become second nature for him to worry about the other man’s safety, he had no idea what they were walking into as he kicked in the door to the laboratory. While it was much newer, and much cleaner inside, it didn’t mean that it was any safer than the lab in Romania, and they were walking in even more blindly than before. At least in Romania, Chris assumed there would be some sort of fucked up lab creations after the ambush where Rose was stolen. With this lab he had no idea what to expect, and being distracted, even with worrying about safety, was a luxury that he couldn’t afford, and would put them both in danger.

The lobby of the lab seemed undisturbed. There was not warning blood painting the floors, or foreboding scratch marks littering the walls. Chris and Leon both mapped out the area, looking for anything that might be a sort of clue as to what they were getting themselves into. Chris made his way over to the lobby computer to see if he could get any information off of it when he noticed that Leon kept shrugging one of his shoulders, the one that he had injured while in Romania.

“Are you okay?” He asked quietly, a frown on his lips.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Leon replied, smiling at him assuredly. “My arm is just sore. It’s weird. It’s been fine lately, but I’ve also been lazing around your house, not really using it.” He grinned at Chris brightly. “You know you’re out of practice when just holding a firearm starts making you sore.”

Chris snorted and returned his attention to the computer. “I think this thing is a bust. I can’t get it to turn on.”

Leon took a look at the computer and Chris rolled his eyes when he tried turning the monitor on as if that wasn't the first thing Chris had tried. “Yeah, looks like you’re right.” He looked up, his eyes scanning the room. “Well, we can either go left, or we can go right. What’s the call, boss?”

Chris straightened up and adjusted his grip on his assault rifle. He walked over to the swinging doors to the right, and noticed that they were locked magnetically. “It looks like our only option is left. Unless you think Hunnigan can do something about this?”

“Coded doors and doors with electronic locking mechanisms are one thing. Magnetic locks like that are another. There’s no way we’re getting in there without a keycard.” Leon sighed. “Great. It always feels like I’m walking into some perfectly scripted trap when there’s only one way to go.”

“We probably are.” Chris admitted. “But if we’re looking on the bright side, maybe that door isn’t locked to keep us out. It’s locked to keep something else in. This lobby looks a little too perfect.”

Leon shrugged both shoulders, and Chris couldn’t help but wonder if it was just because his arm was bothering him and he was trying to be less obvious about it. “Or this place wasn’t a lead after all.” Chris just gave him a look. “Okay, yeah. Positive. Let’s be positive. Right.”

Chris just sighed and walked over to try the handle on the door. Kicking in the front door made sense. Being loud and drawing attention to themselves inside the lab didn’t. The knob turned and Chris opened it slowly, looking in both directions but only being greeted by a hallway. He motioned for Leon to follow him.

They were mostly met by locked doors that needed a keycard, and Chris was growing increasingly more frustrated. “This is bullshit.” He growled, punching the fifth door that was magnetically locked. “How are we supposed to even tell if this place is a fucking lead when we can’t even investigate anything?” Leon was quiet, and when Chris looked up at him, the shoulder with the injured bicep was drooping lower than his uninjured shoulder. “…you’re not alright. Are you? Fuck, Leon, you should have just listened to me and stayed at home-“

“I told you, it’s just sore because I haven’t been using it.” Leon rolled his eyes dramatically. “Stop being so melodramatic. I’m fine, Chris.”

Chris glared at him. Because he didn’t seem fine. He had seen Leon injured a handful of times, and it was like it barely even phased him. To see him physically bothered by his arm didn’t sit right with Chris. He opened his mouth to say something, but Leon interrupted.

“You better not be about to tell me to go back to the Humvee.”

“I… wasn’t.” Chris lied. “Just let me know if it starts to bother you too much, okay?”

Leon scoffed and tried to glare at him, but he was wearing a smile like he was trying really hard not to kiss Chris. “Come on. We haven’t scoped out everything on this hall yet. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

Chris just nodded and tried another door further down. Groaning in relief when the door handle turned. The door still had the magnetic strip and mechanism for the keycard, but apparently this one was broken. Opening the door cautiously, it revealed a dark room lined with computers. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but maybe one of them worked and had some information on it that would point them in the right direction. Chris switched on the light attached to his rifle.

Leon entered the room behind him and his hand reached for the wall, feeling around blindly for the light switch and flipped it, but the lights didn’t turn on. He sighed, muttering ‘of course’ under his breath as he pulled out a flashlight of his own. Chris had no idea why he was so attached to handguns when if anything, in situations like this, they were an inconvenience.

The beam from Chris light slowly made its way in one direction while Leon’s went in the opposite direction, covering more ground. There was nothing to be seen, but there was suddenly shuffling from behind one of the rows of cheap metal desks.

“To your left.” Chris mumbled quietly, as a figure stood up from behind a desk, uncoordinated and groaning. Both he and Leon had been doing this for far too long to yell out the standard ‘don’t move or I’ll shoot’ especially when blood was splattered on the back of the man’s shirt.

But man probably wasn’t the right word for him anymore, and that was especially apparent once he turned. His mouth was gaping, his jaw hung slack from the rot, revealing perfectly human teeth. The flesh of his face was decaying and frayed, one of his eyeballs had fallen completely from its socket with only a thin string of muscle still attaching it to the inside of the zombie’s skull.

Before the zombie could even raise its arms to lunge at them, Leon fired twice with perfect precision and it crumpled to the floor. “Is it weird that I haven’t killed a zombie in so long that it’s somehow both relieving and nostalgic?” Leon muttered.

“I would say yes, but unfortunately I know exactly what you mean.” Chris replied. “You check the right side of the room.” He took his eyes off the zombie to make eye contact with Leon. “Be careful.”

He expected Leon to reply dismissively, or with snark, but Leon just nodded. “Yeah. You too.”

They started trying to turn on all the computers, but none of them worked. Chris was starting to think that there was no power running to the laboratory at all. He hadn’t seen any lights on, and both the hallway and the lobby had plenty of windows to let natural light in. “What kind of lab doesn’t have a generator system?” He snapped, mostly to himself when he couldn’t get any of the computers to turn on on his side.

“Calm down, grumpy. They probably do have a generator.” Leon responded, giving up on the computer he was trying. “But based on our beauty contestant on the floor over there, this place probably hasn’t been used in a while. Not as recently as the lab in Romania, at least. The generator probably needs to be reset or needs some juice or something.”

Chris looked over at Leon, and he was glad that Leon was distracted by another computer, because he knew he was looking at him with pure love and adoration. Who would have thought that Leon fucking Kennedy would end up being his voice of reason? “You’re right.” He said softly. The tone of his voice made Leon look up at him, his eyebrows raised in question. Chris just shook his head. “We should probably try to find that generator.” He glanced down at the now dead zombie, still crumpled on the floor. He was wearing a lab coat, so it was worth a try… Chris got down on his knees and flipped the body over, and started rummaging through the pockets.

“Oh shit. Good idea. He might have a keycard on him.” Leon gushed excitedly, coming over to him. It made Chris smile. Sometimes the way Leon spoke made it all too easy to supply Chris with the mental image of him as a rookie cop at the RPD. Chris may have told him it would have been unprofessional to flirt with him if they met back then, but with how adorable Leon was, he wasn’t so sure he would’ve been able to say no to him.

“Bingo.” Chris breathed, finally fishing a keycard out of one of the lab coat pockets. He stood up and held the card up and Leon grinned at him. “Generator first, then we’ll start using this bastard on the locked doors. I don’t want us to bite off more than we can chew.”

“We should probably look for a basement.” Leon huffed. Chris raised a curious eyebrow at him. “Of course it’s gotta be a basement, right? A dark staircase going down to an even darker, colder, creepier basement where there’s probably plenty of blind spots, and we’ll probably need to find a part before we can even get the generator running.” Chris frowned. He was right. It always seemed to work out like that. “It’s like we’re stuck in a poorly written horror movie or something.”

Chris snorted. “At least this guy is proof that this lead isn’t a dead end.” He said, kicking the dead zombie with the tip of his boot. “We’ll probably come across even more like him. Hopefully nothing worse.” He pocketed the key card and picked his gun up from where he had set it on one of the computer desks. “You ready?”

Leon shrugged, and Chris’ eyes were immediately drawn to his injured arm. “Of course.”

 

Unfortunately, both Leon and Chris were right. They did find a basement, and there was a piece missing from the electrical box needed to give the generator juice, but they were also still coming across the occasional zombie. There weren’t many, and it was nothing they couldn’t handle, but the longer they fought their way through the lab, the more Leon’s discomfort in his arm was growing more apparent.

Chris had to bite his tongue. They had just had the discussion about doing this together, about how he essentially needed to stop babysitting the people he cared about. But seeing Leon in pain felt wrong and was driving Chris up the wall. He couldn’t tell if he was being too over protective, or if Leon was just being too stubborn, and they really couldn’t risk the distraction of the subject turning into a heated fight in the middle of a mission.

They were able to find the missing fuse and properly fit it into the electrical box easily enough, and Chris couldn’t help but wonder who the hell bothered to take it out in the first place. “You wanna do the honors?” Chris asked, gesturing to the level that should boot on the generator. He could’ve easily done it himself, but he was curious as to whether or not Leon would use his injured arm. Chris pointed his gun at the lever so that it would be easier for Leon to see. Leon sat his flashlight on the electrical box, and kept his handgun in the hand to his injured arm, flipping the level with his uninjured arm.

The mechanical swirl of the generator kicking on filled their ears before the lights overhead buzzed and flickered on. Chris turned the flashlight attached to his gun off and looked over at Leon. “Shit. You’re bleeding.” He immediately said, nearly dropping his gun at the sight of the dark stain seeping through the sleeve of Leon’s jacket.

“Oh.” Leon said dumbly, looking down at his arm.

Chris immediately sat his gun down and started pulling at Leon’s jacket.

“Chris, it’s just a little blood, I’m fine-“

“The fuck you are.” Chris growled. “Those claw marks were almost completely healed. How the fuck are they bleeding?” He asked, freeing Leon’s arm from the sleeve. He was glad that Leon hadn’t opted for one of his shirts with way too many buttons, and was just wearing a long sleeved thermal under his coat. Before Leon could even respond, Chris was pulling the thermal up to get his arm out of it. “Jesus Christ.” He muttered. The injury looked fresh, just as it did back at the lab in Romania. “What the fuck.”

In Leon’s defense, he looked just as surprised as Chris, and didn’t look like he was playing dumb. “I could feel that it was bleeding.” He admitted. “But I thought maybe the friction of my shirt had ripped off the scabs or something. Why the hell does it look like this just happened?”

“I don’t know.” Chris could feel a cold, anxious feeling uncurling in his stomach and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. Something was very, very wrong, and his intuition was telling him that it wasn’t just the injury that his gut was giving him a warning about. “Cover us.” He said gruffly, reaching for one of the pouches attached to his utility belt. He pulled out a first aid spray and some bandaging as Leon adjusted his grip on his 9mm, prepared to fire it if he needed to.

Chris sprayed the wound, frowning at how the antibacterial solution bubbled up the moment it came in contact with Leon’s blood. He was quiet, and he could see that Leon kept glancing at him anxiously, but he didn’t have any answers. This was impossible. He bandaged the wound tightly and helped Leon back into his shirt and jacket. “There.” He said hoarsely. “Good as new.”

“Chris… do you think I could be in-“

“You’re not infected.” Chris snapped. “None of these zombies have taken a bite out of you. You can’t be infected.”

Leon narrowed his eyes at him and frowned. “I’m not talking about the zombies, and you know that. We don’t know what the hell that thing was in Romania, Chris. Or if it did carry a virus, what the incubation period is like.”

“Shut up.” Chris growled. “Stop talking like that. You’re not fucking infected.”

“So if I am, we’re just going to ignore it, huh?” Leon laughed humorlessly. He rolled his eyes, and when he did, his eyes were drawn to one of the vents on the ceiling. “…has that been coming out of the vents this whole time?”

Chris looked in the direction his eyes were glued. There was a faint, barely noticeable gas-like substance wafting from the vent, almost disappearing into the air completely as soon as it exited the vent. “We need to get the fuck out of here.” Chris said immediately.

“I think we’ve been breathing it in this entire time.” Leon argued. “And we’re both fine.”

“You’re not fine. You just had a nearly healed gash completely rip itself back open-“

This is a lead, Chris. Umbrella is obviously involved because we’ve been shooting our way through zombies. And you just want to abandon the operation?”

“Can you just shut the fuck up for once and listen, Leon? Jesus. We both want the same thing here, but right now I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you, or what we’ve been breathing in the entire time we’ve been in here. We both want to stop Umbrella, but what I want more right now is the make sure you’re okay and not going to fucking die on me!” Chris yelled.

Leon immediately opened his mouth to argue, but was interrupted by the sound of something crashing down the staircase leading to the basement. They both froze, and Chris grabbed his gun, turning quickly and quietly. He could hear loud footsteps that were too heavy to be a zombie, and too frantic and desperate. He knew those footsteps. And the guttural growling only confirmed it, panic rising in his chest at the realization that there was more than one. He didn’t need to see them. He would never forget his first run in with one in the Arklay Mountains.

“They’re tracking the smell of your blood.” He mumbled quietly, realizing that they were literally backed into a corner against the wall. With one arm still supporting his assault rifle, he used the other to shove Leon behind him, despite the pissed off look on his face.

What-“

“Hunters.” Chris breathed, just as three of them scrambled into view, the feral, violent gleam obvious in their eyes with the lights overhead now on.

Without hesitation, both he and Leon opened fire. Chris fucking hated Hunters. He had run into things far deadlier and far harder to kill since the Arklay Mountains, but nothing could quite beat the very first time he realized that there were things being created that were far worse than zombies, and not all of them were as slow or as dense as a giant mutated snake.

Hunters were fast and brutal. There was something in the way that they moved that made it apparent that there was enough intelligence left in them that they weren’t entirely instinct driven, that they were a little more aware and loved the thrill they got from hunting their prey and ripping it to shreds with their massive claws. Their skin was tough, and they took way more bullets to take down than a zombie, and the bullets barely slowed them up until the exact moment that it killed them.

To make matters worse, these didn’t look like the Hunters he had encountered in the Arklay Mountains. It was still obvious that that’s what they were, but they were larger, bulkier, and there was something about their mouth that wasn’t quite right.

Above them, Chris could hear the grating sound of claws on metal, and quickly glanced up in just enough time to see another one clawing its way through the air duct, when their bullets were barely phasing the three stalking their way towards them.

“There’s too many!” Chris shouted over the sound of their guns firing. “We’re going to have to make a run for it!”

“Where the fuck are we supposed to run?!” Leon shouted back, clearly a little unnerved by how little damage they were doing.

Chris looked around for a moment, keeping his gun steady so that he could continue to fire. They would have to take them down eventually, because true to their name, they would not stop hunting them until they were dead, but they just needed time to regroup, and lead them to an area where they weren’t backed against the wall.

Two rows of stacked and winding pipes on either side were blocking them in, and if he could just hoist Leon up and over to the other side, he could probably make a run to the staircase before the Hunters could get to him. They were too large to squeeze in between the ceiling and the first pipe, and they wouldn’t be smart enough to think of going around them and blocking Leon off from the stairs. They really didn’t have time for Chris to think about it for too long, so he decided to wing it. “I’m going to give you a lift so you can squeeze through that top pipe and the ceiling and drop down on the other side. It’ll give you enough time to get to the staircase and get the hell out of here.” Chris explained over the sound of raining bullets and growling. The Hunters were so close he swore he could smell the stench of their breath.

“What?! I’m not going to leave you.” Leon replied immediately.

“I’ll be right behind you.” Chris promised. He was pretty sure it was a promise he wasn’t going to be able to keep. They were running out of time, but if he could just get Leon out-

Chris didn’t give time for Leon to argue. He propped his gun up against the bottom pipe and picked Leon up, manhandling him towards the upper pipe. To his relief Leon didn’t try to find him and instead just hoisted himself up on the large pipe, immediately flipping around to extend his good arm down to help Chris up. Chris grabbed his gun and fired off a few more rounds before shoving it at Leon who immediately grabbed it and slid it to the side, extending his arm to Chris again.

Chris didn’t want this to be the end. He didn’t want the last time that Leon looked at him with those beautiful blue eyes to be full of panic and desperation, a silent prayer on his lips as he reached for him. He didn’t want one of the last conversations they had to have involved Chris yelling at him.

Chris wedged one of his boots between the lower pipe and forced himself up just as a clawed hand wildly swiped where he was once standing. “Go, Leon.” He ordered when Leon grabbed for him, his facial expression clearly upset at the fact that Chris was ignoring his offered help and he tried to pull himself up the pipes.

Suddenly Leon was letting him go and grabbing his rifle. “Get your ass up here.” He snapped. Firing the rifle down below them at the Hunters. One lunged up and tried to grab on to the pipes, its sight on Chris, but Leon took the butt of the assault rifle and thrusted it into the creature's face with all its might, disorienting it enough for it to let go. “Take that, asshole.”

Chris pulled himself the rest of the way up the pipes, practically shoving Leon off the top as he took his gun from Leon’s hands. “Jesus, Leon, run.” He begged.

Leon slid off the top of the pipe on the other side, but just as stubborn as ever, didn’t start running until Chris was landing next to him on his feet. Chris shoved him forward, the sound of scraping and snapping metal behind them as the Hunters tried to claw their way through the pipes.

They booked it up the staircase as fast as they could, their guns aimed and ready in case anything else wanted to rear its ugly head, and the moment Chris saw the first magnetically locked door, he was fishing the keycard out of his pocket and running ahead of Leon to slide the card in. As soon as the door beeped and the light turned green, he shoved his way through the door and he was pulling Leon in with him.

Chris held the door in place until it beeped again and the light on their side of the door flashed back to red. As Leon scoped out the room. As soon as the light was red, Chris helped him and was relieved that the room they were in was empty of any BOWs, which was surprising seeing as it looked like some sort of chemistry lab.

Chris gave the room another once over as he said “When I tell you to run, I need you to actually fucking listen to me.” When Leon didn’t respond, Chris turned to him. Leon was hunched over one of the tables in the room, his hand holding onto his injured arm and his eyes screwed shut in pain. “Leon?” Chris was immediately at his side, but before he could react Leon was collapsing onto the floor.

“Leon!” Chris dropped to his knees next to him. ”No, no, no, no, no. This can not be fucking happening.” Chris brushed Leon’s hair out of his face, and his skin felt clammy, but his forehead was burning up. “Leon, baby, please answer me.” He pleaded.

Leon wouldn’t answer.