Chapter 5: Confrontation Between Father and Son
It is nearly midnight when I detect just the faintest stir of something creeping just outside the window. I mute the volume of the TV and strain to listen to just that particular noise and tune all other sounds out.
Selective hearing. A real life-saver since I can hear Alexis's heartbeat from clear off in the other room if I so choose. Most noises I tune out: the hum of electricity, the creaking of trees in the wind, the buzz of cars traveling down the road, the sounds of heating and air-conditioning systems. But I do keep an ear out for suspicious noises, and the noise I have just heard outside--it sounded like footsteps against rough wood--definitely falls into that category.
Someone is lurking around uncomfortably close to this home.
Someone is going to have a very unlucky night--I don't go easy on crooks who break into houses or even act like they're going to.
There it is again; boots on concrete. I am at the door in a flash and pause.
These do not sound like ordinary footfalls. They are too light; too stealthy. Like a predator.
Carefully--so as not to startle either Alexis or the footsteps person--I creak the door open and step outside to test the crisp night air.
A sudden gust of wind flares up and closes the door behind me. I wince as I detect the faint coppery smell.
My father. The scent I have been smelling is that of the T-2 virus we carry in our veins. Dad can not leave well enough alone.
My inhuman eyes adjust to the dark of the night, and despite the wane moonlight and sparse streetlights I see everything just as well as if it were bathed in a spotlight. I search around; feeling like the recipient of an unwanted game of cat and mouse.
The coppery scent is almost gone now--no doubt the wind has shifted--and though I do not see anything out of the ordinary, I can still sense a stillness in the air.
Impending doom. It is not a feeling I am unfamiliar with.
The faintest scratching of something rough against something gravelly jerks my head in the direction of the roof. There is a flash of movement--black lightning.
I zip to the side and my father lands on his feet exactly where I'd been a millisecond prior. He turns and smiles a bit at me, reminding me of a thwarted pussycat.
"Good boy, son. Your senses are sharp. Though I must admit it took you a bit longer than I would have thought to look to the roof." His voice is calm and quiet, but still with a certain power to it.
I cross my arms and feel a frown starting to form on my face. "Why are you doing this to me? Why can't you just leave me alone?"
Dad snickers quietly, keeping his voice in a mere half-whisper appropriate for the time of night. Red flashes through his shades. Even at night, I know they do not hamper his vision.
"This isn't about you, Alan. This was never about you." He turns and zips down the sidewalk in that incredibly fast way.
I know he wants me to follow. And follow I do--like a kitten chasing a string--zipping past buildings and houses in a supersonic blur.
Just like my dad to never give me a straight answer. We have to go through a little 'ritual' first that annoys the heck out of me.
Another night I might just let him go. But tonight I want answers. Tonight he's going to find it very difficult to shake me.
We head down an alley between two large buildings. Dad suddenly stops and leaps straight to the top roof of a five-story building with all the ease and liquid grace of a cat leaping onto a dresser.
I copy the motion and land right beside him.
He is not running now. In fact, he is not even looking at me. Back turned to me, he walks on over to the far edge of the complex.
I join him in looking down on the quiet night streets of Bayview.
A screech owl shrieks from somewhere in the distance. Moths buzz around any available source of light. Cats stalk in their backyards. Dogs bark from far off. Even at night, nature never rests.
Not many people on the streets tonight.
Dad looks upon it all like an emperor regarding his kingdom. "I knew you'd come." He says without looking at me.
I stand only inches to his side. "How could I not? You just show up and ruin my life…it tends to arouse bitter feelings, you know what I mean? What are you doing here?"
Dad finally glances at me before returning his gaze to the darkened sky. "You're my son." He says simply, "What kind of a father would I be if I didn't worry about you?"
I snort. "Cut the bull, Dad. You didn't follow me all this way because you were worried about me, and we both know it. You want your sweet little revenge."
He shrugs. "Nothing wrong with that." He turns around and faces me, his expression unreadable. "I see you've been a good little boy-scout for the new S.T.A.R.S. gang. This does not please me, Alan."
I shift a bit, uncomfortable. "Maybe you haven't noticed this, Dad, but I'm an adult now. My life does not revolve around pleasing you."
He laughs as if I have just told a funny joke. "Come on, you're saying your life revolves around setting up a nice carefree lifestyle in good old Bayview and joining the Brady Bunch over there?" He gestures in the general direction of the B.P.D., "We both know that's not going to happen. And it's not just because I plan to kill all of them, either. They can't accept you for who you are. They look at you and all they see is me. They're never going to trust you, not one of them. And do you know why?"
"I think you've just answered your own question." I remark.
Dad shakes his head. "It's because you are me. Maybe not literally, but we both have a dark side. Do you know what the only difference is between us?"
"A conscience?" I pipe.
He shakes his head disdainfully. "The only difference between us is that I have accepted my dark side. You're still trying to hide from who you are."
"I am not like you!" I huff, hoping I don't sound as unsettled as I feel.
A tense moment slips by.
“Do you really believe that?" Dad starts, "While it's true that I would never carry gratitude to the same level you do--especially where Chris is concerned--I doubt your friends know your true nature. Did you tell them you've killed people? Hey, I wonder if they'd think that's cool? And Barry…you've gotta love Barry. By now I'm sure he despises anyone even remotely resembling me, not to mention having my last name…"
"You're sick, you know that?" I manage, "How could you just kill his wife and daughters like that?"
He scratches his chin a bit before replying, "Simple. Herded them into a corner, snapped their necks. Okay, so maybe there was some chasing and hitting involved. But if it's to any consolation, they didn't last over two minutes with me. No unneeded suffering, as you are so constantly whining about. Cheer up, son. They had it much easier than Barry's going to."
I am both sick and frustrated all at once.
"Why can't you just leave the S.T.A.R.S. alone?" I demand furiously, "Haven't you hurt them enough already? They've declared war on you. They want to take you out, and it's not going to stop until either you or they end up dead!"
Dad cracks his knuckles, a smile lighting up his face. "Great! I love it when they try to fight back. It makes victory so much sweeter."
I shake my head. "You don't understand!"
Dad looks as if I have just wounded his ego. "What, do you honestly think a bunch of gun-toting losers actually have a chance against me? Seriously. What are they going to do, shoot me with a rocket launcher? I'm not as slow as Alexia. I can easily disarm them. Without their weapons, they're nothing. They may as well forfeit the game and call it a night. They have nothing."
"You're wrong." I state, mustering all the courage I have, "They have me."
I don't know what I expected him to do, but I sure didn't expect him to find that funny.
But he does. His evil laugh fills the air and drifts away into the warm October night.
"Oh, because you're such a righteous person! I keep forgetting! Hey, do you think those people you killed would agree with that?"
"They were trying to kill me!" I growl, "I didn't have a choice. I did what I had to do. You know that. I wasn't the villain."
"I bet that's what you keep telling yourself." Dad purrs, "To tell you the truth, there's nothing wrong with being a villain."
I turn around right then and am about to speed off when his hand touches my shoulder.
I whirl around; face him. I don't have a mirror handy, but I don't suppose my expression is a pleasant one.
Dad straightens very serious-like, and I can see his eyes through his shades.
"It must be so upsetting for you that your 'friends' want to kill me and vice-versa. But don't let it get to you too much…tonight was mere child's play. I was just messing with them. I'm afraid I won't get the chance to do the finishing score until after my latest assignment. It's really too bad you can't come with me on this one--it might actually be dangerous. But if you'd rather play babysitter to a bunch of ungrateful morons trying to play hero, I guess that's your business. Go on then, Alan. Get back to your Ashford sweetheart. You have my word that I will not attack again tonight."
I am curious. "Assignment? What assignment do you have?" I ask, totally ignoring the part he said about Alexis being my sweetheart.
Dad turns away. "Nothing that would interest a do-gooder like you."
"Come on," I press, "What is it? I'm interested."
"There's something going down in Africa." Dad says, almost casually, "We have a new player in the market of viral research and biological weapons: Acid Rain. They seem to be brighter than most…I actually could like that company. But HCF offered me a bigger pay to cut them out of the picture, so that's the way it is. You go where the business is. I hear that the particular African village I'm going to has been severely infected by the 'viral wars' going on between these two companies and Umbrella. So I should encounter quite the number of new monsters and baddies to kick around. Maybe even some infected elephants. Should be fun."
I feel a twinge of relief. So he really is going. I have not known my dad to lie about things like this. Not to me, anyway.
Dad gives me a lopsided smile, and again it is like he is just a normal dad doing normal dad stuff.
"Come on, don't you wish me luck?"
Not really, I think. I know my father is playing for the wrong team, but at least it will keep him out of my hair long enough for me to figure something out before he gets back to do the dirty work.
I can only pray no innocents get in his way.
"Have fun." I mutter, "Try not to kill anyone I wouldn't kill."
Dad laughs. "Where's the fun in that? Anyway, I think most of the people will probably be dead before I get there. You sure you don't want to come? We could do a little father-son butt-kicking. Destroy buildings, fling things through walls…don't tell me you don't enjoy that. We don't need weapons, we are weapons!"
I shake my head. "I'm never going to be able to join S.T.A.R.S. if I run off with you."
He nods with phony understanding. "Ah, we couldn't have that now, could we? Some things you'll have to learn the hard way, I guess. But if I were you…who am I kidding? If I were you, I would have destroyed them all when I had the chance. But…don't trust them too much. Seriously. Especially where Barry's concerned. He's basically a numbskull, but if he thinks he can get away with something…we're not exactly invincible, you know? And he just might be stupid enough to try something crazy. Who's captain now, anyway?"
Dad makes a face and holds his arms out towards the sky. "So the irony gods do exist!" His tone is light and humorous, but when he looks to me again it has wound down some. "Let me tell you something about Chris--and I'm not just saying this because I hate his guts and would rather kill him than look at him--but his senses and judgment aren't worth beans. I could tell this even before I got the virus. I'm serious. When we were down in that tunnel--right after I'd shot Enrico--that idiot had the hardest time figuring out who was the 'traitor to the S.T.A.R.S.' that Enrico had mentioned. I'm sure he must've seen his dead teammates lying all over the mansion. And Jill and Barry were with him when it happened. That left only me or Rebecca. Frankly, I'm quite insulted."
"Maybe he didn't know everyone else was dead, or maybe he suspected you all along."
Dad shakes his head. "That would be giving him way too much credit. The only reason I hired Redfield in the first place was because he could fly a jet and he came so highly recommended. I didn't hire him for his intuitive powers. Jill has more on the ball than he does in the ways of intelligence. Brad…I don't know how he slipped onto my team. I think someone must've spiked my drink the night I let him onto the force. His flying away in the chopper was not my plan. And while we're on the subject, Enrico would flip over in his grave if he knew the way Natasha has turned out. Assuming he has a grave. Who knows what the destruct system did to those underground passages?"
I have to agree with my father there. Natasha is a spazz. A space-cadet not too firmly rooted in reality. I really hope she gets over her crush on me soon. I turn to go.
"Take care, son!" Dad calls as I start across the roof, backtracking the way I came, "But just remember this: next time I come, it won't be to play. You can't be watching them all at once!"
My heart sinks as I jump down and dash off towards Alexis's house. I know he means it. I haven't stopped the inevitable--all I have done is bought time.
And it is this gnawing fact that makes for a very restless night.
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