Department of Security Operations HQ – Washington, DC
April 9th 2009
The Kennedy Report
Leon had scrolled to the top of his threat analysis and decided to go ahead and type in the title for the document on his screen. Maybe it was a little conceited of him to be naming the report 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 of the B.S.A.A.
The over-used coffee mug sat right next to his keyboard where it had remained all day as if some type of miniature sentry. He took it in his hand 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 true thing in his life 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 went to keep them safe on a daily basis. It was a job with no thanks and very little praise, and he knew that it 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 friends. His work was all he had; the only thing in his life he had any control over, and because of that 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 steaming caffeine that would keep his mind awake at least a little bit longer even if it did taste like over-used engine oil. Absentmindedly, he glanced at the wall clock and was jolted by sudden surprise at what he saw. It was already a quarter to eight in the evening! The last time he remembered checking it had been around four o’clock as 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 the office at the last portion of evening sky that still showed 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. He smiled for a brief moment before taking another swig of his coffee and turning back to the piles of document and photographs cluttering his desk.
Earlier in the week, Chris had asked him for his expertise on a situation that was beginning to brew in Africa. A situation that was slowly turning into an all-too-familiar scenario he had seen before 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 the past few days. He began to feel like the same old Leon S. Kennedy he had become back in Raccoon City, South America, and Spain. 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 incident. It was enough to make him roll his eyes.
A major break in his 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 along with 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 in the government had known more about the Las Plagas than him?
It had been good to reconnect with Claire again, too. It had been years since he had last seen her at the Harvardville Airport incident 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.
His brow furrowed as he turned 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. Looking over 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?
Taking the receiver in hand, he put the phone 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 as surprise caught up with him like a splash of cold water upon his tired face. There was only one woman on this 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 her name; a continuous affect that Ada Wong had on him every time he spoke to or saw her. Despite the fact that he was alone in the office, he instinctively looked around his immediate area as if expecting some bystander to be looking up from his desk with an inquisitive look as to why he was whispering into his phone. He then realized something else. 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?”
He 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 could be heard on the other end of the line making his heart ache in the process. If only he could see the smile that accompanied it in person instead of trying to picture every feature over the phone. For some reason, right now he could picture her in a bathtub surrounded by hot water full of perfumed bubbles; the gentle orbs covering and caressing her pale, soft… beautiful 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 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 in addition to 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 experience 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 had 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 he knew that would 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 that thunderstorm. With that, he sighed.
“A long day?” She asked. Apparently she had heard him.
“A little…” he began to say modestly when he realized modesty was overrated when it came to the likes of Ada Wong. She preferred the truth more than a man show-boating 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 instead 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 in Africa was of any use to your investigation.”
He felt himself freeze. It had been her? He almost wanted to smack himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand 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 new-found 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.
He heard her 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, and 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 as if she was carefully considering all that she was about to say. 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 at times to think that she didn’t trust him more considering he’d saved her life on more than one occasion during the brief times they encountered one another.
“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 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 always appeared so level-headed, cool, and collected. To hear the anger in her voice when she said that the psychopath had pushed her – it was almost scary to hear… but it was also a relief. He had been silently worried for her ever since he had discovered the two of them were working together after she had survived Raccoon City.
“How did that go?" He asked.
“With a mutual exchange of bullets.”
He was about to respond when 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 felt himself sit up straight in his chair. “I… wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”
Leon had been so preoccupied on the change of tone in her voice that he almost didn’t process what she had said. Happy Bir…? His eyes went wide and quickly darted for the Dilbert desk calendar that he had 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. He felt himself smile at those words. He could be quite the poet when he wanted to be.
Instead of telling her that, he ended up letting out a weak sigh of defeat and closed his eyes. “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 time 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 that he was used to when he spoke with her.
“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.”
He heard the delicious sound of her giggle and again felt his heartbeat pick up again. 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 of the line. 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 asked.
She was worried about him. He could hear the subtle angst in her voice as 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 and to see her frosting crack, even for a small moment, certainly had his attention. 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?” He heard her tone change back to the confident woman he was used to hearing. Her 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,” 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 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 was telling him. She wasn’t just there for her boyfriend. When she had sacrificed herself to save him from the T-103 when it had nearly strangled him to death, he knew then how much it was that 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… could you give me one by… answering a personal question for me?”
He had been nervous at his query since he’d never asked her for anything in his life except her help back in Raccoon. She had been the one to give to him 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 its answer, and as a result, 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 second that passed by. 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 the slight sound 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 and not him that 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…” He paused as he felt his heart begin to pound loudly against his chest. He was nervous all over again. The question was almost like forbidden fruit – that asking for it would set off a chain of events that would consume him whole… but the answer was something he had to know. “Why didn’t you contact me to let me know that you were alive? I held you…” It was then that he felt his eyes begin to sting, and his vision blur when he recalled that night. He took a deep breath to compose himself before he continued. “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 showed up and threw me that rocket launcher to help me finally 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?”
He looked up and felt a tear run over the edge of his cheek as another deep sigh left his lips. 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 he had first lost her. A promise had been made, and 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.” But that promise had been broken when she had died saving him. He had never broken a promise made to anyone before, but when he had felt the life leave her body as she kissed him, an overwhelming feeling of defeat had consumed him to a point that he was actually going to stay with her and die by her side. He had failed her.
After a long moment, he heard her voice bring him back from the despair that was beginning to engulf him. “Leon…” she whispered soothingly as if she knew 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 had finally escaped from Raccoon City before the nuclear purge, 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 had helped you, and he was none too pleased. If I had let you know that I was alive, I knew two things would happen: You would have tried to find me, and that Wesker would have found out and 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 his 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 helped Ashley and me escape from the 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.”
“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 when he had left for the office today. 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. Laundry day is becoming more and more often at my…” He froze and 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? “Ada…?”
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, he immediately made for the window in his office. He looked out across the now-darkening sky at the nearby buildings that sat adjacent to his 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 it made it sound as if she had been looking 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. 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 begin to vibrate inside of his pants pocket. Quickly retrieving it, 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 *****