Notes: The final installment of this piece. At just over 45,000 words, the longest single piece I've written so far. Thank you all for reading this through to the end. I've probably got a bit more fun to have with these two, but it will have to wait. I'm going to be trying my hand at writing a few more long pieces, see what I can do. If you enjoyed this feel free to take a look at my other works, and again, thank you.

o0o

The pod bobbed to the surface.

Cautiously Jake opened the hatch and looked around. They were in the middle of a patch of debris, helicopters circled overhead and in the distance there were boats. The pod with Chris and Piers wasn't too far from where they were and he could see the two BSAA agents. He couldn't make out any words, but it looked like they were in the middle of an animated discussion. That was good, give whoever picked them up something other than Sherry to worry about.

"The helicopters are BSAA," Sherry commented.

Now that she mentioned it he could make out the logo on the side of one as it turned, "Could be worse."

Could be better, but it could have been a lot worse. The BSAA would be looking for survivors, take them into custody, but they had no actual jurisdiction over anything. If it had been the Chinese government things would have been very different.

None of the boats had the BSAA logo on them anywhere, but they belonged to the organization as well, judging by the uniforms of the soldiers on board. They ended up going to Chris and Piers' pod first, because Chris was waving them over. The commotion that followed when they saw the state Piers was in gave Jake an idea. Since BSAA had no real authority of its own the organization always had to worry about its interactions with other agencies.

"Sherry, the instant they come over here tell them who you are and who you work for," he instructed, even as she retreated back into the pod, pressing herself against the bottom, "Name drop, pull rank, demand to speak to whoever's in charge of things, whatever it takes to keep them off balance. Make it clear that I'm in your custody and you're not going to hand me over to just anyone. Your friend from earlier, Leon? He's got connections, right? Take advantage of that and anything else you can think of."

Not a perfect plan, but given the situation it was the best option.

"What good will that do?" she whimpered, "You really think that'll stop them from..."

"It's working for Redfield," Jake smirked as he watched the scene playing out on the boat. The BSAA Captain was yelling almost loud enough for Jake to hear him over the boat's engine and gesturing emphatically while Piers stood perfectly still, surrounded by BSAA operatives with their weapons drawn. One of them must have said something that the Captain didn't like, because as Jake watched, he grabbed the man by his shoulders and pushed him to the side of the boat, yelling in his face, "But don't take things quite that far."

"What's he doing?" Sherry lifted her head just enough to look out, "Oh, wow. That's not good."

Two of the other operatives had to step away from Piers to pull Chris off of the unfortunate individual that he had grabbed and was attempting to throw overboard.

More yelling followed while they pried the Captain off.

How the hell he'd managed to last in the organization was beyond Jake. In his experience officers like that tended to meet with accidents, either through their own efforts or those of their subordinates. Did being famous really count for that much? Enough to get away with shit that should have cost you your job or gotten you shot?

"If they don't end up shooting him for that they'll probably be ready to pass everything off to be someone else's problem so we should be good," Jake watched as the yelling continued.

Through it all Piers stood uselessly in the center of the boat, the operatives around him lowering their weapons as it dawned on them that the B.O.W. was the less dangerous of the two individuals they had just pulled onboard.

Eventually someone must have said the right thing, because Chris stepped back, stood next to Piers, and the boat started moving again.

"You ready?" Jake asked as the boat approached them.

"I guess," she muttered, "You really think it'll work?"

"They can't leave you here, after the show Chris put on they're probably not going to want to shoot you," Jake shrugged, "We just need to keep it so that they're going to want to pass the buck as soon as possible, let you be the D.S.O.'s problem."

Jake sat down on the side of the pod, nearly falling over when a wave caused it to rock. Caught up in watching the drama unfold, he'd forgotten about his concussion until that moment.

Sherry managed to grab him before he hit the water, just as the boat slowed and turned to retrieve them.

"I..." Sherry took a deep breath, "I'm agent Sherry Birkin of the D.S.O. This man is Jake Muller, I'm bringing him into custody and he needs immediate medical attention."

There was a moment of stunned silence before every single BSAA member on the boat turned to look at Chris.

"Bring them on board," Chris ordered, oblivious to the fact that they weren't looking to him for instructions, but to make sure that he wouldn't try anything.

Jake could understand why, after all that fuss over one B.O.W. none of them were willing to take any chances.

Sherry passed Jake onboard and he was immediately brought inside the boat's cabin.

"What's your story?" a scowling BSAA operative demanded in heavily accented English.

"I'm cold, wet, exhausted, probably concussed and feel like I'm about to pass out."

After running on adrenaline and little else for the past day, Jake promptly followed through on the last part, not waking up until the boat was at the dock.

The first thing he noticed was that his hands were zip tied together behind his back. It made sense, he supposed, he was Sherry's captive, or something. He had no clue what story she might have told them while he was out, he just hoped that she left out any details about who he was.

There was a commotion out on deck, Chris was repeating his earlier performance for a much larger audience on the docks. This time Piers was joining in, corroborating details and trying to elaborate on parts where Chris was unable to clarify. It was kind of funny, watching what happened as it quickly became apparent to the BSAA operatives that the creepy, J'avo looking B.O.W. was telling a far more coherent sequence of events than the Captain. The best part of it was easily that Piers being in a BSAA uniform was an obvious cause of distress, far more so than Sherry, who was standing back and only occasionally chiming in to agree with Piers or point towards the cabin where Jake was.

The argument took a turn for the worse when someone on the docks cited the standard procedure for dealing with infected individuals, civilian or otherwise.

Chris nearly jumped off the boat to get to them before Piers was able to grab him, telling the Captain that it was for the best.

"No!" Sherry shouted above the commotion that followed, "You can't! He's infected with the C-virus. You do that and he'll just regenerate. You'd have to keep...and that would be horrible!"

Jake wondered whether it was the idea of having to kill one of their comrades in a decidedly messy fashion that stopped the argument or if it was the realization that Sherry wasn't one of theirs and that she might not be willing to stand there and take it if they decided to try shooting her until she was dead. Hell, it might have been the fact that she was with the D.S.O. and they didn't want to deal with the paperwork that would follow if they were to damage the organization's property.

In the end they decided to let Piers live, probably because he was the one keeping Chris from causing an incident.

It was going to be a mess for the BSAA, dealing with an insane hero and a B.O.W. that had been one of their own who had voluntarily infected himself. There was no way the situation would mean good things for the organization, which would work to his benefit. There would be a lot of confusion for sure, even more than normally happened in disaster situations, and confusion tended to lead to people getting sloppy and mistakes being made.

Piers being let off the boat safe and unharmed set a precedent, the BSAA operatives surrounding Sherry backed off slightly, a few even lowering their weapons.

Two BSAA members who looked absolutely thrilled with the situation came into the cabin. One of them, a tried looking Chinese woman, looked him up and down, frowning, "Is that thing really with the D.S.O.?"

Jake shrugged, "That's what she told me back in Edonia, that the D.S.O. wanted me for a C-virus vaccine. Then Umbrella captured us so there has to be something to it."

"Was," the woman took a deep breath, her frown turning into a grimace as she continued, "She like that when she found you? Because there are rumors going around…"

"Not before Umbrella got us," Jake answered truthfully.

The woman nodded, clearly not pleased with the answer, but willing to accept that it was the best she was going to get, "Whatever they were working with, we got lucky didn't we?"

"It was a pretty close call," Jake agreed and then for good measure continued, "If not for what Piers did back in the lab things would have turned out a lot worse."

Because being agreeable was probably the best way to keep them off balance for now, especially if it involved saying nice things about the BSAA's new and interesting issue of having, at least for the moment, a B.O.W. that was technically working for it.

Chris and Piers, redefining the idea of useful idiots in new and interesting ways.

The two operatives brought him on deck, where Sherry promptly grabbed him with both her secondary arms.

"What now?" she whispered.

"We cooperate," Jake replied, keeping an eye on Chris. The Captain's actions were going to determine what happened next.

Chris was helped onto the dock. Piers, who by this point seemed to have realized that the Captain's cooperation was dependent on his presence, followed. Jake wished he'd have the opportunity to watch the show that was sure to follow as the two were led away.

He was pulled away from Sherry and onto the dock, everyone stepping back so that she could come up after him.

After that they were shuffled from location to location by ever smaller numbers of guards as the BSAA quickly decided that manpower was best spent dealing with the outbreak rather than a largely cooperative B.O.W. and its captive, or whatever he was. Jake hadn't asked, all he knew was that someone must have looked into the matter and confirmed that there was indeed an agent Sherry Birkin working for the D.S.O., one who might have been infected with something prior to the events leading up to the outbreak. Questions were asked, Sherry answered them, confirming her identity and further complicating the situation for the BSAA by bringing up the very real danger of inter-agency politics when she admitted that not only had she been infected with a mutagenic virus prior to being sent on her mission, but the D.S.O. was aware of it.

Shortly after that Jake was given a cursory examination by a doctor who seemed more frustrated than nervous despite Sherry watching his every move. It was confirmed that Jake was concussed, dehydrated, had an assortment of minor scrapes and bruises, none of which came as a surprise considering what he'd been through.

Before long they were left alone in a tent off to one side of an area where the BSAA had set up a makeshift base. There was plenty going on elsewhere, but the area they were in was fairly quiet. It seemed that no one expected any trouble from them. No one was there guarding them, though an officer of unknown rank had promised them that someone would be coming by soon, to get a few more details straightened out and start working something out with the D.S.O., which apparently did still want Jake for something.

Once they were gone Jake turned to Sherry, "We're not waiting."

She nodded, "I know, I just don't like this."

"You don't have to."

"I know."

Sherry used her claws to cut the zip ties, and Jake lifted the bottom edge of the tarp to look outside. What he saw was promising, the base was near the harbor, a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire defining its perimeter. The fence itself was a temporary affair, held in place with cinderblocks.

Escaping was simply a matter of finding a gap between two sections of fence and slipping away into the confusion.

They'd be long gone by the time anyone realized they were missing.

As for what came next, Jake would figure things out as they happened. The strategy had worked for him so far after all. Right now they just needed to find a place for him to rest and recover for a few days, then they could focus on other things, important things, like bargaining with the D.S.O. for Sherry's freedom, getting money and getting out of China.

If they could get back to Edonia everything would be okay, that was what he'd tell her. He had money there, people he knew, if they were still alive, connections and he knew the area. There were plenty of places where a person could vanish there.

In Edonia they'd be okay.

When Jake stumbled Sherry caught him and let him lean against her for support. He was exhausted, had every right to be after all he'd gone through. He was only human after all.

Sherry on the other hand was…whatever she was. Physically she seemed fine, like she could keep going forever. Mentally though, that might have been another story. She had a distant, inward look in her eyes, like she was lost in some conflict unknown to him. There was more to it than her coming to terms with what she was, it was about what she'd become. Maybe she'd finally realized that for the first time in her life she was free.

It was something he could relate to, the pain and sense of loss that came with it. He remembered too well what it had felt like when he'd ended up in a similar situation, no longer having to worry about his mom's failing health. He'd been relieved and felt horrible for feeling that way, knowing that a long, horrible wait with no possibility of a good outcome had come to an end.

That was freedom for you.

He'd gotten over it, except it wasn't something you got over, you just learned to live with it. You had to move on and stay focused on what was going to come next because life didn't stop just because you needed to figure things out.

Looking up at Sherry he smiled.

She shook her head, still not sure of what to make of the situation. She wasn't crying though, which was a start.

Everything would be okay.

He told her as much and this time she managed the barest hint of a smile, letting him know he was right.