A Rose by Any Other Name

Morals and Sherry

"Do you remember Dr. Marcus?" Miranda stretched out beside him in the darkness, yawning.

"No." Wesker's curt answer took her by surprise.

"Yes you do." Miranda argued. She put an arm across his chest and propped herself up so she could look into his eyes. "He was that nice old man with the age spots and the thin white hair…He worked with…" She paused and seemed to rethink her strategy. "He worked with those leeches."

"No." He said sharply. His voice held a warning that Miranda promptly ignored.

"Dr. James Marcus." She insisted. "He worked with us to trying to cultivate that virus…Progenitor…you and William and me…Remember? I wonder what ever happened to him. He'd almost finished with his research."

"One can only imagine." He snapped.

"See!" Miranda said proudly. "I told you, you knew who I was talking about!"

"That's enough." Grabbing her wrists, he pushed her off and sat up. His eyes were flaming red. "I remember Dr. Marcus." Miranda sat up across from him and frowned.

"What happened to him?" she didn't know why she was asking Wesker that question, but somehow she knew he'd have the answer.

"Umbrella wanted him out of the way. They sent Birkin and myself to get the job done…" He wasn't looking at her. He was looking over her shoulder into space as if he were reliving the memory. "Two members of the Umbrella Mercenary team executed him. Birkin and I made sure the job was done correctly. His body was disposed of…"

"Wesker…" the words caught in her throat. She knew a lot more about this man than she wanted to admit, but this… He nodded, as if reading her thoughts. "Why?"

He shook his head. "Dr. Marcus was continuing research without authorization. He had begun using Umbrella staff and trainees in his experiments. He had been given a myriad of orders to stop working on the Progenitor but he refused. It was Spencer who gave the final command to execute him "

"Oswell Spencer? You must be joking." Miranda put a hand to her mouth. She seemed distraught at the very mention of Spencer. "Dr. Marcus was only trying to help. His virus was supposed to reverse the effects of the Alzheimer's disease."

Wesker shook his head. "You're a fool, Harley." Miranda narrowed her eyes and glared at him. "You are so naive."

"Why is that?" Her voice was laden with anger.

"You think Umbrella was cultivating viruses to save the world? Do you really believe that your research on the Tyrant and the Nemesis was to save prisoners of war?" Even in the darkness she saw him lift an eyebrow and give her a smug smile.

"Why would Umbrella lie?"

His brusque laugh sent chills down her spine. "If you knew the truth about what they were doing would you really have completed your research?" He pressed on without giving her the chance to answer. "You have morals, Miranda. They knew you did and were not willing to risk your brilliance by telling you the truth. They needed you."

"Morals?" Miranda spat. Leaning forward her face came within inches of his. "Oh sure. I had morals. Where do I start?"

"Harley, don't do this…" Her heated gaze told him that she had already passed the point of no return. There was no stopping her now.

"Let's see…I slept with a man for nearly twelve years who would never marry me…who would never think of me as anything other than a means to an end. He basically used my body as his own personal playground and I let it happen. Hell, I even enjoyed it." Her chest rose and fell rapidly as she began to shout. "I knew the truth about the way he really felt. I just kept returning to him like a yo-yo on string. I let him screw my brains out. I hated him with a passion I'd never known and I loved him the same way." She jabbed a finger in his chest. "I gave the Birkins my…" She paused before she revealed the very secret she'd sworn never to tell him.

"Miranda." Wesker's voice held a dark warning, but she ignored him again. "I buried the man I thought was Ozwell Spencer in the Arklay woods and killed the man who'd helped me." Wesker's lips were set in a grim line but he said nothing.

Miranda pushed away from the bed, wrapping the sheet around her as she turned her back on him. "I shot the man in the forehead and buried him in a shallow grave no more than ten feet from Oswell's grave. And you know what?" She dragged in a sobbing breath. "I'm not sorry either."

"Miranda…" Wesker stood and reached out to touch her shoulder, but his hand came up short.

"Tell me about my morals, Albert Wesker." She had moved toward the window and was staring out at the night sky. "Get out." Her voice was no more than a harsh whisper.

Wesker nodded. His mind was overwhelmed with all things she'd just told him. Without another word he pulled on his pants and left the room, slamming the door behind him. Miranda sank to her knees and put her head in her hands…She'd been at this place of despair before…

Every plant that had once taken up residence in the HCF greenhouse was now destroyed. Except the rose bush. As always, Wesker felt that somehow it was what connected him to Miranda. But tonight not even that was making a difference. He didn't know what was happening. He wasn't sure why everything was suddenly falling apart when it should have been coming together.

Now was the time he needed to start training another crew for the next mission. He had a feeling that the Head office would be asking them to leave very shortly. But, all he could think about was Miranda and it was driving him crazy.

He wanted to kill her. He wanted to get her out of his thoughts. He didn't have time for this sort of nonsense. What was happening now was not the way he operated and he needed to get it all into order. In the past he'd been able to balance his work and her and he'd done it quite efficiently. But now it seemed as if he needed her even more. He needed her, in a sense, to soothe the savage beast within him.

Looking down at the blood on his hands, he sighed. He couldn't believe Miranda had killed someone. It just wasn't in her nature. Then again, what did he know about her nature? Lately, she'd been surprising him with every move she made. Either there was something going on that she wasn't telling him about or she was about to make a dramatic change. And yet…A rose by any other name would always be Miranda Harley.

Whatever was going on, Wesker told himself that it was high time he stopped acting like a fool and get back to business. There were viruses to steal, people to kill, and not much time to do it in.

He would wait a month, he told himself, and if nothing happened he would make it happen.

Dawn found him sitting in his usual chair beside the bed watching Miranda as she slept. His mind had been racing for what had remained of the night and he was certain he'd come to a decision about how he was going to exterminate Chris Redfield. The other S.T.A.R.S. members could be dealt with accordingly, but Chris' death would be special, something memorable at the very least.

"Wesker!" The angry voice boomed down the hallway. His head shot up and he listened for it again, just to make certain he wasn't hearing things. "Wesker!" The sound of his name a second time brought him to his feet. He checked to see if Miranda was still sleeping and made his way down the hallway to the entrance.

"What is it?" His growl was audible. Robert Jacks stood before covered in mud and soaking wet. His chest was heaving and he was snarling. Sherry Birkin landed on the floor unconscious at Wesker's feet.

"I want answers and I want them now!" Jacks roared.

"And what answers would those be?" Wesker crossed his arms over his chest, his expression unchanged.

"Why the hell can't I die?" Jacks screamed.

"Oh you can die." The captain answered simply.

"What did you do to me?" The question came out more of a demand. Wesker sighed. There was a lot about Jacks he didn't like. For starters he was too much like Chris Redfield for his own good. When he didn't answer Jacks shot forward and punched him. Wesker stood looking at him, his eyes growing murderous. The blow had not affected him.

Grabbing Jacks by the wrist, Wesker twisted until the bones began to snap methodically. "Answer me." The younger man wheezed.

"Tell me why you hid the remains of Birkin." Wesker asked undeterred. This time when Jacks was the one who didn't answer, he slammed him head first into the wall.

"You owe me." Jacks growled. Wesker had let go of him and he stood up, shaking his head.

"I owe you nothing. I think you're life is enough." Obviously Jacks didn't feel the same. He came at the Captain, his fists flying. Wesker had finally had enough. He seized the back of Jacks' neck and twisted hard. His scream of pain echoed down the hall.

"Wesker." Miranda's gentle voice stopped him before he could do any more damage. He turned to her and frowned. She was moving toward him, the white cotton nightgown clinging to her curves suggestively. Immediately he dropped Jacks and moved back so that she could see Sherry.

Instantly her eyes grew cloudy. "Sherry?" She ventured carefully. She looked at Wesker unsure whether it was really her daughter or not. When he nodded, she knelt beside her and brushed some of the hair from her face. "Oh Sherry." She said softly.

Jacks was standing. He moved his head from side to side until the bones cracked back into place. Miranda stood and grabbed Jacks face, lightly planting a kiss on his lips. "Thank you so much." She whispered. Wesker grabbed her arm and jerked her back roughly.

"Take care of Sherry." He ordered not taking his eyes off Jacks. "And you. There will be no more questions. Do as I tell you and be thankful for your life." His eyes said what he didn't need to. "Whatever it's worth to you." Jacks turned on heel and walked away, the animosity he was feeling was slowly beginning to deepen.

Wesker said nothing as he picked up Sherry and carried her to Miranda's old room. Without either of them noticing this room had been abandoned months ago. He laid her gently on the bed and back away. Miranda moved forward like a mother hen and delicately began to make her comfortable.

"Wesker." She said quietly. She didn't look at him.

"I know." Sighing he turned to the door.

"Thank you." She turned him back to face her and kissed him with everything she had in her. She was trying to make him feel all the joy and happiness that she was feeling in that moment but she knew better. He was beyond all that now. He put his hands on her shoulders and looked at her solemnly. At last he nodded and disappeared down the hallway.

Miranda Harley sat on the edge of the bed her tears coming easier than they ever had. She had her daughter back. The feeling was as wonderful as it was heartbreaking. As always, when she gained one, she lost the other.

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