Department of Security Operations HQ
April 9th 2009
The Kennedy Report
After scrolling to the top the document, Leon S. Kennedy decided to go ahead and type in the title to his report. Perhaps it was a bit conceited of him to be naming it after himself; however he felt some justification for doing so. After all, he was doing this on his own time as a favor to Chris Redfield.
The over-used coffee mug had been sitting next to his keyboard all day as if some type of miniature sentry. Taking it in his hand, Leon went ahead and finished off the last of the dark liquid sitting at the bottom. How many had that been today? Five… Six… Seven? He’d lost count after four, and between that and the energy bars he’d been consuming like candy, it was any wonder why he was barely sleeping.
His life was his work – all consuming and the one thing that he poured his heart and soul into. The reason was simple – people relied on him. Friends, colleagues… even complete strangers – people who would never know his name or the lengths he would go to keep them safe. It was a job with no thanks and very little praise… and one that was tailored especially for him given the fact that he was, for lack of a better word, a lone wolf. He was a man with no family and only a few people he counted as trusted friends. That was why he was willing to do this extra-curricular assignment for Claire’s brother.
A brief walk to the coffee maker brought him another hot cup of caffeine. Despite the fact that it tasted like over-used engine oil, it would at least keep his mind awake a little while longer. Absentmindedly, he glanced at the wall clock and was jolted by what he saw. It was already a quarter to eight in the evening! The last time he had remembered checking the time was around four o’clock when his colleagues were slowly filtering out of the office to enjoy their evening. At one point the director had said something to him before he had gone home for the evening.
“Kennedy, you’re working way too hard. The rest of the agents here think you’re trying to out-do them.”
“No, sir,” he had replied. “I’m just trying to make a difference.”
“Well, you may have Presidential approval to do your assignments as late as you’d like, but don’t forget to come up for air once in a while. Burning yourself out won’t do anyone any good.”
Sitting back down at his desk, Leon leaned back in his chair and looked out the window of his office. In that peaceful moment, he gazed upon the last portion of evening sky that burned bright on the distant horizon. Despite the maze of buildings blotting out most of the D.C. landscape, there was a small sliver that he could still see from this part of the building. A smile crossed his lips before he took another swig of his coffee and turned back to the piles of documents and photographs cluttering his work area.
Earlier in the week, Chris had come to him for his expertise on a situation that was beginning to brew in Africa. A situation that was once again turning into a chilling scenario he had seen five years ago in Spain. Combing through the information sent to him by the B.S.A.A. had been time consuming, but he had kept at it with an almost obsessive-like tenacity. It was in those moments when he began to feel like himself again. Give him a crisis and he could fight his way through it and still end up smelling like a bouquet of roses. Those had been Hunnigan’s exact words in her report after his debrief on the Los Illuminados. It was enough to make him roll his eyes.
A major break in the investigation had come when information had been passed to him by an anonymous source. Whoever this person was, he had provided photographs, detailed information on new Plagas types, and a single cryptic word – Uroboros. The man in charge of all of this was Albert Wesker – former S.T.A.R.S. captain of Raccoon City and now rogue agent. This informant had come from someone deep inside Wesker’s organization. Whatever was happening in Africa, it all seemed to point back to Spain. It seemed like a logical request when Chris had come to him. After all, who else in the government had more knowledge about the Las Plagas than him?
It had been good to reconnect with Claire again, too. Too many years had passed since he had last seen her in Harvardville. That was until both she and her brother had shown up at the D.S.O. office and had taken him to lunch. With a silent vow, he promised himself that he would do a better job at staying in contact with her this time around. He didn’t want to lose what few friends he had left.
With his brow furrowing in concentration, Leon turned his focus back to the computer screen and began typing once more. That was until the unexpected ringing of his office phone brought his mind back to the present. As he glanced at the caller I.D., he saw the name on the readout - Redfield, Chris. The report was five minutes from being complete; perhaps he was calling for an update?
Picking up the phone, he put it to his ear. “Hey, Chris. I’m just about done with the assessment and should have it completed in a few min…”
“This isn’t Chris Redfield, Leon.”
The soft, velvety voice of his caller immediately caused his eyes to widen. As if on cue, his neckline grew warm with surprise like a splash of cold water upon his tired face. There was only one woman on this entire planet whose voice it could belong to; only one who could turn him into both an excited and terrified school boy just by the sound of it.
“Ada…” he whispered quietly.
Already his heart had skipped a beat at the mere mention of the vixen’s name; a continuous affect that Ada Wong had on him every time he spoke to her. Despite the fact that he was alone in the office, he instinctively looked around his immediate area to check for bystanders. That was when he realized she was contacting him at his office – something she had never done in the past.
“A little dangerous for you to be calling a government facility, isn’t it?”
Leon could almost hear the amused smile on her beautiful face. While he knew that he occupied an exceptionally rare soft-spot in her heart, it hadn’t stopped the woman from playing with him when it suited her fancy. Right now, it seemed as if she was just warming up to the idea.
“Try and trace this number and you’ll see that I’m calling you from Hong Kong,” she replied.
He grinned like an idiot and decided to play along. “And is that where you are right now?”
A gentle laugh greeted him from the other end of the line making his heart ache in the process. If only he could see the smile that accompanied it instead of trying to picture every detail over the phone. For some reason, he could envision her in a bathtub surrounded by hot water full of perfumed bubbles; the gentle orbs covering and caressing her beautiful pale skin – her phone in one hand and an expensive wine in a shapely glass in the other. Those thoughts alone were already making the act of sitting most uncomfortable for him.
“Secrecy is a girl’s best friend, Mr. Kennedy,” she replied. “Perhaps it’s not in my best interests to let you know where I am.”
“Really...?” He strung out the word. “So why are you calling me here, Ada?”
“Well, I would have called your apartment, but I know you too well, Leon. You’re always working, and I dare I say a little too hard. Don’t you ever take a vacation like a normal man?”
This time it was his turn to chuckle. She was playing with him, knowing full well that he wouldn’t object.
“And do what exactly? Go to the beach? See a movie? Try and take a woman out on a date? I have no idea what normal is anymore.”
The barrage of questions had been meant in jest, but the more he thought about each, the more he began to feel a strange twinge of sadness. It came with the realization that he would never be able to live a simple life like that again; not after what he’d been through back in Raccoon City. After his survival there coupled with his government missions in South America, Spain, and Harvardville, Leon now knew that he was more comfortable with a gun in hand confronting a terrifying situation than he ever was in his down time. Sure, it had been a nerve-fraying ride, but he also couldn’t deny the sheer rush he’d experienced by surviving against all odds. The feel of the adrenalin pumping in his veins had acted like a drug he would never be able to wean his addiction off of. To be stuck at work behind a desk or even trying to act “normal” almost seemed damned near impossible. In fact, he was generally apprehensive when he wasn’t in the middle of a storm.
“No… I suppose not,” she replied smoothly, but not without him noticing a twinge of sympathy in her voice. “Normal is overrated anyway. After what we’ve seen, no one would ever be able to understand or appreciate any of it… would they?”
“Except for you, right?”
He had said that a little too quickly for his liking even if it was the truth. There were only a handful of people that truly understand the things he had been through, and Ada was one of them.
“Is that really so bad?”
“I… didn’t mean it in a derogatory way, Ada,” he replied with a bit of a fluster at his faux pas. “I guess I was just…”
“Leon…” she purred gently as she interrupted his train of thought. “It’s okay. I was only teasing you.”
He chuckled again. Of course she was. She always liked to keep him off-balance with either her playful banter or… other things – like what had happened between them in Paris… or last year in his apartment during the thunderstorm. With that, he sighed.
“A long day?” Apparently she had heard him.
“A little…” he began to say before realizing that modesty was overrated when it came to the likes of Ada Wong. She preferred the truth more than a man attempting to flaunt his ‘manliness’ for her attention. “Actually, it’s been quite crazy this past week. I think I’ve become a stranger to my own apartment anymore.” He then switched the subject. “How about you? Any death-defying acts of sabotage or corporate espionage I’ll hear about on the evening news?”
He had made it a point not to mention the darker side of her profession – assassination. Even though he knew who she was, it still bothered him to think about her in that type of light. He could tolerate her life of spying, stealing, and dealing on the black market… but murder – that was a whole different league of ugly, and he didn’t like it one bit.
Instead of answering his general questions, she then said something that had floored him. “I’m on a well-deserved holiday, Leon. I was calling to see if the information I passed to you about Wesker’s operations was of any use to your investigation.”
He felt himself freeze. It had been her? For a moment, he wanted to smack himself in the forehead at his blatant ignorance. Of course it was. Still, something didn’t seem to fit.
“Wait a minute!” he responded. “It was you? But I… I don’t understand. If he’s really the one behind this then why are you passing this information to me? I thought that you were working with Wesker?”
A long pause greeted his question; a silence that made him fear she wasn’t going to respond. He began to feel a cold, tight ball form in his belly as he patiently willed her to say something… anything to him.
Leon then heard a gentle sigh on the other end before she spoke. “No, Leon… not anymore. I’ve severed my ties with him… for good.”
It was almost as if he could feel his heart leap in his chest at her revelation. She was free of Wesker? How had she managed to pull that off? What had caused it? So many questions were fighting for room in his caffeine-ravaged brain.
“Ada…” he began slowly as he tried to process what she had just told him. “That’s great news… really. What happened?”
Again the Asian spy was content to offer silence as her response. It didn’t surprise him as he thought more on the matter. She was a spy – words were life or death in her profession. Still, it hurt to think that she didn’t trust him more. After all, hadn’t he saved her life on more than one occasion?
“Let’s just say that he finally pushed me too far in an area of my life that I do not allow people to push… ever.”
Her sentence ended abruptly, and it became clear that she wasn’t going to share any further information on what had transpired. Whatever Wesker had done to piss her off, it had been severe. Ada was always level-headed, cool, and collected. To hear the anger in her voice when she had said that the psychopath had pushed her – it was almost scary to hear… but it was also a relief. He’d been worried for her ever since discovering that she and Wesker had been working together.
“How did that go?" he asked.
“With a mutual exchange of bullets.”
Leon chuckled at that. Before he could respond, she spoke again.
“There was also… another reason why I called you, Leon.” Suddenly her voice had become apprehensive… nervous – traits that he would never have associated with her. He immediately sat up straight in his chair. “I… wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”
He had been so preoccupied with her change of tone that he almost didn’t process what she had said. Happy Bir…? His eyes suddenly went wide and quickly darted for the Dilbert desk calendar sitting next to his monitor.
April 9th… Oh my God! he thought to himself in disbelief. I didn’t even remember!
Any chance at responding to the lack of knowledge regarding his own birthday was lost to him. It was as if his brain had short-circuited, and now he couldn’t speak. Apparently Ada had realized what had happened and true to form, followed up with a playful quip.
“Leon,” she cooed, “don’t tell me you forgot your own birthday. You know… the most important day of your life?”
No, he thought to himself. The most important day of my life was on September 29th 1998 – the day I met you. That was the day your image was seared into my brain like a hot branding iron on skin. The day you made your place in what was left of my heart – whether I wanted you to or not.
Leon felt himself smile at those words. He could be quite the poet when he wanted to be. Instead of saying that, he ended up letting out a weak sigh of defeat.
Closing his eyes he replied, “You’re right, Ada. Maybe I should take a vacation. My work…” he let the words hang there for a second. “Well… my work is my life. Not much else matters I suppose… not even my own birthday.”
Ada went silent again, and he could only imagine what she thought of that little tidbit of information. But it was true, his work was all consuming. He wanted so much to protect others from having to experience the horrible things that he had gone through. If just one child could sleep safely in his or her bed and not have to worry about real monsters coming for them in the dark of night, then it was all worth it in the end. Best let them be the ones to grow up and have a chance at a normal life.
After a long pause, she spoke. “It’s sad to hear you say that, Leon. While I admire the lengths you go to achieve your goals, you also need some time to relax. Even I take a moment to enjoy a sunset or a chardonnay.”
Leon let out a chuckle. It was one of pure amusement considering what the two of them were doing at this moment. Ada must have sensed it in his voice.
“What do you find so amusing, Mr. Kennedy?” Her tone had reverted back to the lady of intrigue.
“It’s just…” he said as his smile grew. “I mean, just listen to us. In all the years I’ve known you, I think this is the first real conversation the two of us have ever had. It’s… nice.”
The delicious sound of her giggle found its way to him, and once again his heartbeat began to race. Ada was amused with him as always.
“You’re right, Leon. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”
There was a pause before she said his name again… and this time it was different.
Another long pause; something was off with the sound of her breathing on the other end. His training as an agent tuned in on its tempo, and he could sense she was again nervous about something.
“Are you… going to Africa?”
She was worried about him. He could hear the subtle angst in her voice when she asked the question. Whatever Wesker was planning, it even had her worried, and that wasn’t something that was easy to do. Ada Wong was a block of ice when she was in the field. To see her frosting crack, even for a small moment, certainly had his attention.
Leon contemplated on how to respond. He could just tell her it was classified – he didn’t owe her an explanation on what he was doing with this data, but he just couldn’t force himself to be that cold with her. Not after what she’d done for him already.
“No, Ada, I’m not. You don’t have to worry.”
“Worry?” Her tone quickly switched back to the confident woman he was used to hearing. The woman’s moods could change like the wind. “Who says I’m worried about you, Agent Kennedy?”
“No one… but I can hear it in your voice. Even I listen to people, you know.”
“Sounds to me like you’ve been doing your homework then,” she replied with a soft jab.
God, he wished he could see her. Another smile was forming on his lips as his mind went back to his earlier fantasy of picturing her in a steaming hot bath. During Raccoon City he had wanted to save her… to bring her to safety where she wouldn’t have to live in fear any longer. Deep down he had known that there was more to her than what she had told him – that she hadn’t been there just to find her boyfriend. When she had sacrificed herself to save him from the T-103 after it had nearly strangled him to death, that was the moment when he knew how much he had truly cared about her. When she had died in his arms…
“Ada?” he said slowly to make sure she was still there.
“Since it’s my birthday, and I haven’t gotten any gifts this year… would you consider giving me one by… answering a personal question for me?”
He had been nervous at his query. At no point in his life had he ever asked her for anything except for her help back in Raccoon. During the times they had crossed paths in the field, Ada had been the one to give and to take from him when it had suited her each time. But this… this was stepping over that invisible line that always seemed to separate the two of them. It was a line that he knew was dangerous, but one where he wanted to have this question answered – a question that had been plaguing him ever since his escape that night. He had to know the answer. Because of that, he was willing to take the risk of her hanging up the phone right now.
Again her silence was deafening; causing him to worry with each passing second. In the end however, his patience was rewarded.
“Alright, Leon. I’ll answer one question for you in honor of your ‘special’ day. What do you wish to know?”
He could hear a slight hint of sarcasm in her voice when she had said the word ‘special’. It was as if she was reminding him that it had been her who had remembered the meaning behind today. Still, she was willing to indulge him, and for that he was grateful.
“After I escaped from Raccoon City…”
His voice suddenly trailed off as nerves began weakening his resolve. The pounding of his heart began echoing in his head. The question was almost like forbidden fruit – that asking for it would set off a chain of events that would consume him whole. Despite the risks, he knew that he had to push on. He had to know.
“… why didn’t you contact me to let me know that you were alive? I held you…” In that moment, he felt his eyes sting with a pain that was close to his heart. His vision began to blur with tears as he recalled the events of that fateful night. He took a deep breath to compose himself before continuing. “I held you when you… died in my arms. I may have been a cop only for a day, but I know what a dead person feels like… and you were dead. But later… later you came back and threw me a rocket launcher so I could kill that creature. I couldn’t see your face, but I knew your voice, Ada. I could never forget something like that. I called to you, but you didn’t answer me. It was only later when I joined the government and a file landed on my desk with your photo in it that I realized you were alive… and working for Wesker.
“Why, Ada? Why didn’t you let me know that you were okay?”
Another deep sigh left his lips as his emotions began to consume him. Looking up towards the ceiling, Leon felt a tear run down the curve of his cheek. His hand reflexively came up to wipe it away and to clear the rest that were setting up residence in his eyes. He was never a man to cry, but that night over ten years ago had never left him. It was the night when he had first lost her. A promise had been made then; a promise of escape… and hope. He could remember each word as if he was again back in that security office with her.
“We’re leaving this place together, Ada… I promise.”
His promise had been his bond… but it had been broken when she had died saving him. He had never broken a promise made to anyone before that night. When he had felt the life leave her body as she kissed him, an overwhelming sense of defeat had consumed him to a point where he was actually going to stay and die by her side. He had failed her.
After a long moment, he heard her voice bring him back from the depths of despair.
“Leon…” Ada whispered soothingly as if knowing of the emotional torment warring inside of him. “I can’t tell you how I survived, but… I will answer your question.”
Slowly she continued. “When I escaped from Raccoon City, I went back to Wesker. He was my mentor, my benefactor… and my tormentor. I knew what kind of man he was; I’d dealt with many like him in the past, but I had never encountered someone like you.”
She went silent again, which by now was becoming a bit frustrating as Leon felt himself hanging on to every word.
“What do you mean?” he said at last.
“When I got back, I was faced with a very difficult decision. It was one that I knew I had to make before I made contact with him. Wesker had already found out that I helped you, and he was none too pleased. If I had told you that I was alive, I knew two things would happen: You would have tried to find me, and that Wesker would have found out. He would have then used you as leverage or killed you just to spite me. My other choice was to leave you in the dark about my fate and hope that he would grow bored of you. I chose the latter – not because I didn’t care but because I wanted you to live, Leon. I made the best choice I could to ensure that would happen… even if it meant your anger.”
Leon held the phone against his ear and listened to her voice. Her words were giving life to the answer of this years-old question, and he knew she was telling him the truth.
“I know,” he said at last. “And I’m not angry with you, Ada. You were looking out for me.”
“I’m always looking out for you, Leon… always.”
He felt his eyes close and a smile cross his lips. “Ada?”
“Thank you… for everything. You saved my life in Raccoon City. You saved me from Jack Krauser when he tried to put a knife in my chest. You saved me from Saddler and even the parasites when they began to take my mind. You even helped Ashley and me escape from that island. Even now, with the info you’ve given me on Wesker’s operations in Africa… you’re still helping me. I… I just wanted to say… thank you.”
Her familiar silence once again made its presence known as if she was processing everything he had just said to her. He’d been thinking about this for so many years. There had never been an opportunity to let her know how grateful he was for her help… even if she had used him at times for her own ends. He knew deep within his heart the truth that she had just told him. She would never let harm fall on him… ever.
“Leon… I think that’s the first time you’ve ever thanked me before.”
“Well, in my defense, it’s not like you’ve made it easy for me,” he said with a chuckle. “You’ve either died or run off before I could, you know.”
This time he heard her laugh. It was soft, gentle, and full of meaning. “Touché, Mr. Kennedy.”
With that they shared another laugh together. Like the time she had been with him in Paris, Leon wanted this moment to last forever. Despite their complicated and damn-near dysfunctional relationship with one another, here they were talking over the telephone like two old friends catching up. It warmed him in a way he hadn’t expected.
“Leon...” she said, breaking him out of his train of thought. “I have to go. There’s a hot bath waiting for me before I step out for the evening.”
“I understand,” he replied with a feeling of dismay slowly eating away at his heart. “Take care, Ada, and thanks for the birthday wish. It meant a lot.”
“Could you do something for me, Leon?”
Running his hand across his two-day-old stubble, Leon answered carefully. “Maybe… what is it?”
“Could you wear that dress shirt more often? The plum color really brings out the blue in your eyes. I like it.”
He let out a chuckle. Plum had never been his color, but he hadn’t had anything else to wear before leaving for the office. His laundry was piling up, and sooner or later he would have to deal with it. Still, he was grateful for her distraction.
“I suppose I could do that. I…”
He suddenly stopped in mid-sentence. Looking down at his shirt, the wheels in his mind began to turn. How did she know I was wearing a plum-colored shirt?
She didn’t respond. Only silence greeted him at the other end of the line until he heard the sound he had been dreading. CLICK.
Springing to his feet, Leon immediately made for the window in his office. He looked out across the now-darkening sky at the nearby buildings that had a view of his office. Windows, rooftops, and anywhere else he could think of as a good lookout post his eyes went to. There was nothing.
Ada Wong was good at one thing; she was good at disappearing into the shadows. Maybe she hadn’t been looking in on him like he’d thought. There was any number of ways she could have found out what he was wearing. Still, the way she had said those words made it sound as if she had been looking right at him.
He placed his arm on the window and gently leaned his forehead against it. Regardless, it had been a pleasant change of pace to actually talk to her even if it was over the phone. It had been their first real conversation with one another without people shooting at them, or the two of them lying naked together like those nights when they had shed their roles as Special Agent Leon Kennedy and International Spy Ada Wong and had been more. With that, he sighed again.
A smile spread across his face in spite of himself as he recalled her words. “I’m always looking out for you, Leon… always.”
For all of these years he’d had a guardian angel looking out for him – a woman whose intentions he had never fully understood, but her purpose he finally realized. Perhaps ‘angel’ wasn’t the right word to describe her. An angel was an innocent being, and while Ada definitely resembled something more akin to an Asian goddess, the term ‘she-devil’ might be more apt – complete with red dress and a lethal aim. While beautiful, she was also deadly and that was not something he ever planned to take lightly. Still, whatever this bond was that had formed between them back in Raccoon City, there was one thing he could genuinely say on the subject – he was ever glad for it.
Before he could spend another moment with her in his thoughts, he felt his cell phone vibrate. Quickly retrieving it from his pants pocket, he was at first surprised by what he saw before a smile began to beam on his lips. It was a simple text message.
Hilton Hotel. Rm 803. 20 min. DO NOT B L8 - A
He placed the phone back in his pocket and grabbed his jacket off the hook. His work day was over. Chris’ report could wait until the morning.
***** THE END *****