Leon had gotten used to a host of monotonous tones. Back in Raccoon City, it had been the sound of distant car alarms, and the groaning of zombies. Only minutes ago, it had been the drone of the helicopter engine. One just learned to phase it out and focus on the immediates. Leon had never figured he’d be droning out zombies before he’d be droning out hospital noises.
There was a nervous air to the room, even more so than an average hospital room. A gentle hiss could be heard as a respirator did its busy work pumping the sterile air into Manuela’s lungs. The sun streaming through the window signified that most of the afternoon had passed and even now, the fight mere hours before seemed so far away. Leon was acutely aware that, no matter how long ago the fight was, it wouldn’t be too soon for the higher ups to sink their claws into a new subject. And so Leon had begun his watch, sitting in a bed-side chair, eyes fixated on the door.
Unclipping his gun, Leon checked it over, before tucking the gun back into its holster. He turned to Manuela’s unconscious body, eyes skimming over her, intently looking for any form of injury. He had been reassured numerous times by the doctor that she was in perfectly stable condition. Once the government doctor showed up, he even confirmed that the Veronica virus had stopped mutating, though that simply prevented her from getting worse. A real surprise the IV injection had been. Leon ran his fingers over the dark spots on the bed-frame, remembering the panic that had nearly set in.
But despite, all his fears, Manuela would be safe, at least, in condition. The government doctor hadn’t said anything, but Leon couldn’t help but remember Sherry. He had done his best to protect her, but in the end, he handed her over to the government. They promised...they promised a lot of things.
When the doc came in, Leon immediately tensed, his eyes immediately shooting to the man’s hands, then behind him. No men in black suits, no tasers, no meds. His clutch came off his gun, though every muscle was still taught.
The doctor raised his hands with a light smile, gently tossing aside a clipboard. “Relax Mr. Kennedy. You have nothing to fear from me or the men upstairs. Manuela is stable, and to be honest, that’s not exactly what we’d want. A more active sample is preferred. The virus in her bloodstream is inextricably tied to her blood, and that was hard enough to get our hands on” he laughed. “And I believe your partner, Mr. Krauser, had a sample that was more interesting. He mentioned a conflict with a fish monster?”
“Yes…” Leon affirmed hesitantly. “When we confronted Javier, he released the aquatic B.O.W. on us. Krauser took a spear to the arm, but that did little to impair his fighting in the mission.”
“Unfortunately, it did more damage than he let onto. His arm took significant damage, and the strain of use only tore more muscles. I’m afraid that he’s no longer fit for combat duty. On the plus side…”
The rest of the words were a muted point. Leon’s brain paced at a breakneck pace. To Krauser, combat was life. Without it, what would the man do? He couldn’t do physical work now, or at least, much of the mainstream work. Leon knew he’d have to go and see his comrade immediately.
“Yeah, fine” Leon interrupted, not caring for the doctor’s ramblings. “Listen, I’m going to talk with Krauser. If I come back and anything’s happened to Manuela, I will personally ensure that you can’t talk again.” The doctor looked shocked for a brief moment, then smiled. He didn’t say anything as he moved aside, acquiescing to Leon’s path.
Leon had a vague idea of where Krauser was. Hopping down from the helicopter, Leon had followed Manuela, but he had seen Krauser go through the main entrance. He couldn’t be that hard to find, especially given the small size of the hospital.
The evening sunlight greeted him as the doors of the ward gave way. The time had slipped by it seemed, and the orange light of the afternoon began to give way to the purple of the dusk. It wouldn’t be long before night fell. Leon hadn’t felt the time pass, the adrenaline in his system remaining even after the effect.
Looking up from a bed was Krauser, his solid gaze unflinching from the thinner agent. His expression was set into his perpetual frown, though now it seemed even deeper than usual.
“Hello Sunshine” Leon replied, though he didn’t smile as he did so. Something about Krauser seemed more serious than he’d seen the man. Krauser didn’t laugh, but even more unsettling, his frown didn’t deepen.
Leon started walking to the far side of the bed as he continued. “I heard they collected their precious sample from the spear?”
Krauser nodded shortly. “Indeed. They had to clean my blood off it, but they say it’ll work just fine. Unlike my damn arm” he grunted, forcing his left arm up onto his stomach. Leon tried not to make an expression of shock as he regarded it.
Despite the stitching, he could tell it had been bad. It had obviously torn through the muscle, and Leon had a suspicion that it had been exacerbated when Krauser pushed on. Maybe even the recoil of his gun was enough to tear it completely. In any case, the fact that he had to lift it with his other arm pointed to the obviously decimated nature of it.
“That’s quite the war wound. How much…?”
“Permanent irreparable damage. And this isn’t the kind of war wound I can brag about, since the nature of the mission requires secrecy” he added. Leon could feel the words being directed at him, rather than any higher up. “I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if I receive a letter of dismissal telling me “I’m free to go”.” The derisiveness in his voice let slip his true thoughts, and they concurred with Leon’s worst fear about the result of the wound.
“What will you do?” Leon asked softly. He knew that the question would be a sore spot. But he felt obligated to offer his help, even if Krauser didn’t want it. The man’s gaze was now directed past Leon, out at the jungle beyond. He seemed to be in thought, almost as if remembering something. Leon pushed a bit more. “If you need…”
“I’ll figure something out” he replied shortly, his gaze still directed into the horizon.. Leon knew this conversation was over and done. Silently, he left, leaving the bigger man to his thoughts.
A distinct soreness bloomed throughout Manuela as she came into her own senses. Assailed by sudden consciousness, she took comfort in the familiar air of the room, and the softness of the covers surrounding her. She was off the helicopter after…
Fire. Screams. Her father pleading for death. Mountainous limbs.
Manuela shot up with a gasp as she remembered the events. Her eyes darted around, half expecting to wake up and find herself back in her room, hidden behind the verdant walls. Instead, the only greenery she could see in her panic was a distant forest beyond the glass. Clutching the sheets, she turned her head slowly, trying to figure out where she was.
“Hey there.” Manuela’s eyes settled on the familiar agent beside her bed. He smiled gently, though he looked a bit worse for the wear. Manuela couldn’t help but feel relief to see him. It hadn’t all been a dream. She launched herself at him, hugging him tight.
“Leon! Buenos dioses, it wasn’t a dream…” She felt Leon gently stroking her hair in an attempt to calm her. A fairly successful one at that. Even the casual contact reassured her of the reality of the situation. “We’re...where are we?”
“In a hospital. The helicopter took us here. You’re in stable condition and they don’t need you” Leon said with a smile. Manuela nodded, though she didn’t know the specifics of what he meant by that. She was just glad to be alive and awake.
“Leon...what happens now? I can’t go back to my village...now that everyone’s…”
“I’m going to talk with some of the higher ups and get you transported to the states. They can guarantee a protection for you, and there’s a better health system than down here. If anything happens, we can get you seen right away” he explained, then paused, looking out the window. The jungle reflected in his eyes and the sounds of the wildlife could be heard. “That’s assuming you want to come.”
Manuela followed his gaze out the window. Her thoughts began to struggle in her head as she thought about the circumstance. This had been her only home, but now everyone she knew was dead, or a walking corpse. In fact, the only people she knew alive now were Leon and Krauser. With a startle, Manuela looked about, trying to spot the gruffer man.
“He’s laid up right now. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of him.” Leon’s gaze was unshifting as he regarded her. Manuela wasn’t overly fond of the other man, but he had been one of her rescuers, and he had fought alongside Leon. A sadness grew in her at the thought that even with the experience the two men had together, they weren’t able to see eye to eye in the end.“I...I’ll come back to the States.”