Ninety six months, four hundred and sixteen weeks, two thousand nine hundred and twenty one days.
Chris had counted as they had passed him slowly by, kept track of all the long days of obsessive work, of the restless nights spent dreaming, always dreaming.
It had been eight years since the Spencer Mansion had been destroyed, but Chris Redfield had never really left. He was still there, in his mind, always there, trapped and choking.
It was so ironic, then, that this had happened where it had, in a real life imitation of his prison.
He hadn't even needed a map to navigate the halls. Foyer, did you hear that gunshot, staircase, I'll go check it out, hallway, Chris, please be careful, dining room, does this remind you of Raccoon City?
In ways you can't even imagine, Jill.
"Can you believe it's been eight years since then?" Jill had asked, her voice crackling over the headset as he stood there on the balcony, tensed and ready for danger, for whatever had butchered Spencer's security force.
"No, Jill," he had replied, his eyes wandering to the blood smeared along the walls, the corpses lying sprawled over each other on the floor, arms and legs and necks twisted in unnatural positions.
Had it only been eight years? Not longer? Had it only been eight years of the nightmares and the flashbacks, the mood swings and depression?
Only eight years of flinching at the sight of men with blond hair, of his stomaching turning whenever his brother-in-law decided that reddish brown wasn't good enough and dyed it?
No, I can't believe its been that long. You're right, we're both getting older.
A forced laugh, a forced smile, strong, strong Chris, that was who he was, what he was. Unbreakable, experienced Agent Redfield, the leader, the survivor.
Survived the Mansion, survived the Ashfords and the Tyrant and the zombies and the Hunters, survived the horror and the nightmare, the living nightmare that he had never surfaced from--
He had lived through all of it but maybe, maybe he shouldn't have. Maybe those eight years had been borrowed time, extra life bought for him by Wesker during that blind, wild run through the forest when he should've died at the fangs of the Cerberus that had lunged for him.
Borrowed time. That was all he was running on, but now, some part of him felt that Wesker would be taking it back soon.
It hurt to see him, like it always did. He stood there facing the sprawling window in the back of the room, nothing in his stance suggesting he was in any way affected by the fact that Oswell Spencer lay dead only a few feet away from him, a ragged hole in his chest, or that one of his gloved hands was dripping blood.
Eight years ago, Chris never would've imagined that the Wesker he knew could be capable of such brutality, and some part of him wished desperately he never would've come to find out.
Borrowed time, time I didn't want, not if it meant this, not this--
"Wesker," Jill spat, her pretty face contorted into an expression of pure hatred. Oh, Jill, if only you really knew . . .
"Jill," he replied, finally turning to face them. Immediately, his lips pulled together into a small smirk. "Chris . . ."
He always hissed his name with a lecherous undertone, drawing out the final syllable as though he was rolling it over his tongue, tasting it.
It was such a small thing, but it made Chris feel filthy, long lost sensations prickling at his skin.
That was why he fired first, the jerk of the gun in his hands forcing away the phantom touches.
The bullet didn't hit its target, despite having been accurately aimed; Wesker dodged to the side, his body becoming nothing more than a blur as Chris followed up with round after round.
Jill joined in, though her eyes had widened fractionally. Chris knew what she must be feeling, what he had felt the first time he had seen him move so quickly--surprise, shock, disgust, how can something that had once been human be so unnatural?
They kept moving and firing, even trying to anticipate where he would end up after dodging and aim there, but nothing worked. The finely crafted walls and bookcases became pockmarked with bullet holes and their guns eventually clicked empty, falling to the floor as useless pieces of metal.
Both Chris and Jill were proficient in hand-to-hand combat, but it was entirely useless here. Wesker outmaneuvered and overpowered both of them, one swing of his hand sending Chris flying through the air into one of the bookcases, where he slid limply down to the floor, his head spinning.
Get up, get up, get up--
--but his arms and legs didn't want to obey him, all four limbs seemingly stunned out of functioning for an instant--
--get up get up--
--and an instant was all it took for Wesker to get Jill up by the neck, his hand tightening around her throat as he spoke to her--
--she was struggling, gagging, going limp, Wesker's fist was pulling back, his bloody fist that had killed Spencer only moments before--
--get up now--
He pushed up and off the bookcase, vertigo almost making him stumble as he staggered forward, but he forced his legs to work, to gain speed, because now there was only one thing that he could do--
He slammed into Wesker with as much force as he could, the momentum behind his body forcing both of them forward and into the window, the frail glass window that shattered instantly and sent them both spiraling out of control into the dark abyss below.
And as he fell, the body pressed against his the only thing to hold, he was struck with the thought that he was glad he was going to die with Wesker.