A Rose by Any Other Name

Honeyed Retribution

Miranda threw her fist into the punching bag as Jacks held it from the other side. "Harder, Miranda. That's weak." Jacks shouted to her. He'd been teaching her how to use her natural weapons to defend herself and she'd seemed to take to it like she had shooting a gun.

Miranda bent over and put her hands on her knees, dragging in a heavy breath. Once again she was driving herself to the point of exhaustion. Even though Jacks had been helping her fight her grief, something else was bothering her and it had everything to do with Albert Wesker.

Wesker stood in the entrance way to the indoor track and watched jealously as Jacks patted Miranda on the back and whispered in her ear. He chose not to listen to their conversation, although he could hear them quite well if he wanted to.

The monster in him was screaming for him to kill Jacks and taste the blood of victory. But the human side of him was rational enough to know the reason Jacks was placing his hands on Miranda's hips. It was entirely his fault. It was just like the last time…

Vincent Goldman had been born an only child to a very wealthy family. He was used to getting every thing he wanted and more. Consequently, when he made up his mind to become a Commander within Umbrella he vowed to use any means necessary to gain the prestige title.

The best way he saw to accomplish that was to not only to murder the competition, but to romance one of the top Corporates, Miranda Harley. He'd known from the beginning that Miranda was his key to advancement within Umbrella. The problem however, was that Miranda was always so aloof. He hadn't counted on the fact she might be deeply involved with Albert Wesker and he'd never be the wiser.

The idea came to him as he watched her standing on the sprawling front lawn of the mansion, the wind blowing through her silky black hair. If he ever got married, he would definitely choose a woman with her beauty. For now though, he would choose her to use her as a means to an end.

Since Ms. Harley was so unapproachable, he'd planned on taking a subtler route at getting her. He'd been asking around and found that she wasn't the type to be dazzled; rather, she was the type to be romanced. He'd decided that a "good guy" approach would be his best chance for success.

He made his way across the lawn and stood next to her, smiling. "Are you tired?" His voice came out softer than he'd expected it to. To stroke his ego he mentally patted himself on the back. He sounded great.

Miranda turned to him, her sea green eyes dark. She'd seemed lost in thought. "What?" She frowned at him.

Vincent smiled undaunted and said it again, "Are you tired?" It was even better the second time.

Miranda gave him a half smile and turned back to the woods. "No."

"Well you should be," Vincent whispered, laying a hand on her arm. "You've been running through my mind all day."

Miranda laughed quietly. "Pick up lines, Mr. Goldman? And there I thought you were out of high school."

Vincent smiled back. "It may be childish, but at least I got to see that gorgeous smile of yours." Miranda turned to face him and smiled more fully. Behind them, concealed among the trees, Albert Wesker was not smiling at all.

Miranda Harley had warmed to Vincent Goldman almost instantly. He was giving her what Albert Wesker refused to, his friendship. He was constantly regaling her with tales of his heroic, yet hilarious tales, of his training sessions with the lead researchers. Miranda could not help but adore a man who was so caring and altogether wonderful. His latest attempt to win her heart consisted of a lab buried beneath mountains of pink roses and a song (no matter how terribly) sung to her over the communication system.

Earlier that day he had begged her to go to dinner with him and to her surprise he had taken her to Chez Monet, a fancy French restaurant in the heart of Raccoon City.

Neither of them realized that Albert Wesker had heard of Vincent's plans and had concocted a plan of his own. He had never figured out what made so insanely jealous of Vincent, but from the moment he saw them together in the mansion's courtyard, he'd made it his personal goal to get him as far away from the Spencer Mansion as possible.

The night of the diner he found himself standing inside the lavish bathroom of the Chez Monet dressed in the restroom attendants attire to awaiting the fast approaching time in which Mr. Goldman would need to use the facilities. He was very aware of the fact that Vincent would recognize him almost immediately. Nevertheless, Wesker wouldn't give him a chance to do anything about it.

Vincent Goldman had been drinking entirely too much champagne. He'd always had a problem with how much alcohol his body could handle, but could never stop until he was sloshed. Miranda, on the other hand, had hardly touched hers. Tonight, despite the fact that she seemed amused by his antics and witty jokes, she seemed distant. That didn't concern him as much as the fact that his bladder was for him to relive it and soon. Excusing himself, Vincent made his way to the back room unaware that he wouldn't be coming back.

As soon as he opened the door, Wesker hit him on the back of the head and he fell to the floor. The world around him was spinning out of control. The last thing he saw before blacking out completely was the face of a monster looming over him.

Wesker dragged Vincent into one of the stalls and held his head underwater just long enough to cause him to gag and sputter. Then, he tied him face down on the toilet lid and made sure the stall door wouldn't be opening anytime soon. Leaving Vincent inside Wesker disappeared into the darkness to watch Miranda.

Miranda waited a little over an hour before she realized that Vincent had dumped her at the restaurant. Sighing loudly, she also realized that she wasn't that surprised. After all if Albert Wesker didn't feel it necessary to stick around, then neither would anyone else. Besides, she had more pressing issues on her mind, like how she was going to tell Wesker the truth about their baby.

It took him a month but Vincent managed to convince her that he had not intentionally left her alone at the restaurant and even though his story was a little outrageous, Miranda managed to forgive him. For being so understanding Vincent promised to take her on a picnic later that weekend. Albert Wesker had overheard the conversation and once again he promised to be there as well.

In the meantime, Vincent had taken it upon himself to eliminate some of his competition for the position of Umbrella Commander. Umbrella Corporates, including Miranda, ignored the obvious and ruled their deaths accidental. Vincent had moved up the so-called "Corporate" ladder in more ways than one. He'd convinced Miranda that one kiss was harmless. Except her kiss had been more harmful than he'd thought. Something about the way Miranda Harley kissed made her even more desirable. He was beginning to consider asking her to come with him when they raised his status and gave him control over his own laboratory. After all, what kind of king would be without a queen like her?

It was noon the day of the picnic and Vincent and Miranda were making their way a mile into the Arklay Mountains to a small clearing at the top of a cliff. The air was warm and Miranda was told him that when she was young her father used to take her out to these woods to hunt for fairies. Vincent wasn't listing to her. He was thinking of the great development potentials this wooded area had.

Entering the clearing, Vincent could have sworn someone was following them, but quickly convinced himself he was being paranoid. His fears were based on a random incident in the middle of Raccoon City. There was no one here but them.

He laid out the blanket and filled wineglasses for himself and Miranda. Once again, it didn't take him long to realize wine agreed with him a lot less than champagne. Excusing himself, he wondered into the woods. Miranda sighed. Somehow she knew he wouldn't be coming back. She poured her wine on the grass and reached for a slice of bread. More than likely, she was going to be here a while.

Vincent had just unzipped his pants and begun to rid himself of excess fluids, when he felt an exploding pain at the back on his head. The next thing he knew he was shirtless and tied to a tree, the afternoon sun blaring down on him. His chest was sticky and he felt strange. Out across the clearing he saw a black bear standing in between the trees licking its lips. With a sickening feeling, Vincent realized that the sticky substance on his chest was honey and that black bear was about to have him for a midday snack.

He screamed, but the bear was undeterred. Beyond him, he heard deep throaty laughter that sounded totally evil.

This time, Miranda waited two hours before she returned to the mansion. It would take her quite while before she forgave Vincent again. As night fell, she was in Wesker's arms unaware that Vincent Goldman still outside trying to escape his sweet and sticky prison.

As expected it took a long while for Vincent to convince Miranda that he'd been attacked. Miranda was not willing to believe that someone had tied him up and left him as bear cuisine. Finally his charms got the better of her and she found it in her heart to forgive him. This time, Vincent decided to take her to an amusement park. Surely with no alcohol within his reach, nothing would happen to him. But like all the other times before, Albert Wesker had gotten wind of their plans. He would make sure this was Vincent Goldman's final date with his Miranda Harley.

They'd been walking around the town's fair for a few hours when Vincent spotted a Mirror Maze. He'd always been fond of Mirrors. They gave him a fabulous view of himself and even he knew that he was very pleasing to the eye.

To his disappointment, Miranda didn't like the idea of going inside and opted to stay outside and wait for him. That suited him just fine. She didn't appreciate his good looks anyhow. If that bastard, Albert Wesker, were ever in the same room with them, she'd spend all her time staring at him. What did Wesker have that he didn't? As far as he was concerned there was nothing.

The Maze of Mirrors was much different than he'd counted on. It was dark and sort of misty. The more corners he turned the sooner he found that he was lost. It seemed that every where he turned was a dead-end and although he was enjoying the sight if himself, Vincent Goldman was starting to get concerned.

Albert Wesker exited the back of the maze and locked the door behind him. Vincent wouldn't be getting out of his latest predicament for a long while. Wesker waited a little more than an hour before rounding the corner and acting surprised to see Miranda sitting alone, still waiting for Vincent.

"Wesker?" Her voice was soft and yet deadly. She was angry. "What are you doing here?"

Wesker opened his eyes to a dark room. He wasn't sure how he'd gotten back to his room, but it felt good to be alone.

The last time Vincent had disappeared, Miranda refused to speak to him again. In fact, a week later, she'd sat next to Wesker and decided his fate. Wesker had mentioned, ever so slyly, that Vincent Goldman was up for a promotion. The rest of the Umbrella Corporates agreed with him. Wesker had promptly escorted him to Sheena Island and far away from Miranda. When the time came, and it was fast approaching, he would destroy Vincent just like he would eventually do to Chris Redfield.

Softly, the door opened and Miranda stepped inside. He could tell by her slow even breathing that she was angry. He closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. In the darkness Miranda fumbled with her clothes. They dropped to the floor with delicate thud. Wesker opened his eyes in spite of himself.

The bed creaked quietly as Miranda got in and straddled him. He drew in a sharp breath as the silky black cloud of her hair fell around them. She leaned down to look in his eyes. She'd known all along that he'd been awake.

Wesker couldn't catch his breath. Miranda had never done anything like this before. It was not in her nature. Gently, she kissed his bottom lip and sighed. He reached up and touched her cheek, the feelings inside too overwhelming to fight off. She grabbed his wrists and pressed them to the bed. He groaned as her eyes locked with his.

"I hate you." The words were so full of emotion they caught him off guard. He stared at her for a long moment before he let out a heavy sigh.

"I know." Although he could have easily lifted her off and had his way with her, he'd chosen not to. He had a feeling the next decision he made would change her outlook forever. She was in control and it was what she needed most. Even though he'd never let anyone take control of him, there was something about Miranda Harley that would not let him tell her no.

She leaned down and kissed him again, her tongue sliding slowly between his lips. He moaned and shifted his hips. He no longer cared about decisions. He needed to be inside of her, no matter what the cost…

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