A Rose by Any Other Name

The Beginning of the End

The next two weeks passed with efficiency and ease. Riley Davis and Miranda Harley had begun research on the newest version of the Tyrant to pass the time and Robert Jacks had started training a new crew. Everything was falling into place nicely. Except Sherry. While she had settled into her new home readily, it wasn't hard to see the mistrust in her eyes.

He sat across from her watching her behind shaded eyes. Sherry sat on the floor drawing on a piece of paper. Every once in a while she looked up to see if Miranda was still there. Her transition had been made easier by the fact that Sherry remembered Miranda.

"Auntie." She asked, finally giving up on the drawing. "Why doesn't he ever talk?" She was pointing at Wesker. "Doesn't he have anything to say?"

Miranda knelt next to the daughter who only knew her as an aunt and smiled. "Ask him yourself." She said gently.

Sherry nodded and climbed into Wesker's lap. He didn't move. He wasn't sure how to react. He hadn't spent much time around children. Honestly he'd never wanted to. "I know you." She whispered softly. "You were there with me in that trash room weren't you?" Gently she touched his face. "Thanks." His stomach did a somersault. Did she have any idea who he was? Behind them Miranda stood with a hand pressed to her mouth. Riley and Jacks acted as if they were ignoring the whole situation. "Are you blind?" Sherry asked looking through the lenses of his dark glasses. When she reached up to take them off Wesker grabbed her wrists and set her firmly on the floor.

"Don't." He said sharply. Sherry looked at him as if he'd struck her then returned to her drawing as if nothing had ever happened. Miranda glared at him but said nothing.

"Sir." The newest member of his surveillance team appeared in the doorway.

"Aaron." Wesker nodded at him. He glanced over his shoulder at Miranda who was looking at the man worriedly. They all knew what a report from this man could mean.

"We've found Claire Redfield trying infiltrate Umbrella's Paris facility." Aaron motioned to the door. "We've got her up on the monitors now."

"Show me." Wesker's order was short and curt.

In the main laboratory the largest monitor showed Claire Redfield being chased by two guards. "She's been in the facility for over an hour. They just recently found her."

"We've been trying to figure out what she's looking for." Another member of the surveillance crew chimed in.

"She's looking for her brother…Chris." Malice dripped off Wesker's words like honey.

"She won't find him." Miranda said softly. "Not there." Something inside her was setting off warning bells. For some reason she suddenly felt like this was the beginning of the end. But whose end?

Sherry stepped up next to her and watched as Claire stopped short of a set of floor to ceiling windows at the end of a hallway. A large helicopter was rising up in front of on the other side of them. "Run Claire!" She shouted. Wesker turned to her abruptly and grabbed her by the arm.

"Wesker!" Miranda shouted.

He looked up at her with a warning glance that was unmistakable. "You stay out of this." He waited until Miranda crossed her arms over her chest, her chin raised in her usual defiance. "You will never say the names Chris or Claire Redfield in my presence. Do you hear me?" He shook her roughly to make sure he got his point across. Sherry looked at him like she'd just been shot and nodded. When he let go she walked calmly from the room, slamming the door behind her.

Miranda no longer cared if she made a scene. She stomped over to Wesker. "You had no right." She declared softly. "She's just a little girl. She doesn't understand why you hate them."

"She's just a little girl…you're right. A little girl who should be dead."

Miranda reached out to slap him but he caught by the wrist less than an inch before she came in contact with his face. "You press your luck, Ms. Harley." He growled, his eyes glittering. Riley stepped forward but Jacks put an arm out to stop him. "The only reason you're alive is because I need your research on the Tyrant. You are of no other use to me." It was Miranda's turn to look as if she'd been shot. He pulled her closer to him; their lips were almost touching. "You know you're place, Miranda." Miranda felt as if she had been shot. Jerking her wrist out of Wesker's grasp she turned her back on them all and walked out into the hallway, slamming the door behind her.

Wesker followed her halfway to the door and thought better of it. He was right after all. If the truth were told Miranda had been nothing but a burden to him since he'd brought her here.

"You really are an asshole." Riley snorted. Pushing past him, he exited the room with a dramatic slamming door of his own.

"Leave her." He said, meaning Claire. "What harm can a little girl do?"

Out in the hallway, Miranda put her back against the wall and slid to the floor. She caught a sobbing breath before it had a chance to leave her throat. But she didn't feel like crying. She was so angry she wanted to hit something. Riley came out and sat beside her. She didn't say anything to him. There was nothing to be said. They'd both been in there.

"So have we decided what we want to do for Christmas?" Leave to Riley to find a way to change the subject. She gave him a faint smile.

"Just having Sherry back is enough for me." She told him.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about finding her. But Wesker…" Miranda put a hand up and sighed.

"Let's not talk about him."

"Okay…" Riley tapped his chin for a long moment. "Hmmm." He shrugged his shoulders. "I can't think of anything else to say."

Miranda's smile grew wider. "Me either."

"Auntie?" Sherry's timid voice came to her from the darkness. "What's that man doing all chained up?"

"Sherry no!" The two of the shouted simultaneously. Both rose in one swift motion and ran to her. Too late Riley realized that Miranda didn't know about Marcus Baker.

"Oh my god." She pulled Sherry behind her and stared in at the former Mr. Baker. "Is this?"

Riley nodded sheepishly. "I didn't want you to find out about this. Not like this."

"Wesker?" Miranda looked at the hideous zombie as it moaned pitifully.

Riley nodded again. "We're not sure how it happened. Marcus was in the morgue and the next thing we know he's up walking around." Sherry sniffled. "The…ah…virus inside of Wesker is mutating…as far as we can tell."

"What does that mean?" Miranda had a hold on Sherry's arm and was moving her back so they could close the door.

Riley shut the door, the sound echoing with eerie finality in the dark hallway. "It could account for his recent outbursts. It could mean that he's changing. You remember…like Birkin did…" Sherry sniffled again, this time louder.

"Daddy." She whispered. Miranda wanted to correct to her and she almost did. But now was not the time to confuse her even more. Too much had happened to her. It wouldn't be fair to add this burden to her.

"Sorry, kiddo." Riley said softly. He reached out and squeezed her shoulder. "Everything's going to be okay. You've got your aunt with you now." Miranda and Riley exchanged glances.

"And my Uncle Wesker." Sherry said proudly. "If he wasn't such a grouch." Miranda and Riley cracked smiled and tried not to laugh, but it didn't work for long. The two laughed until their sides were hurting and Sherry was looking at them strangely.

"Hey." Riley stopped finally, wiped his eyes, and took Sherry's hand. "I have something to show you."

Sherry eyed him suspiciously. "Are you sure you're not a zombie?" When she had first seen Riley it had taken hours to convince her that he was not a zombie. Luckily, she hadn't said anything about the way he'd broken his nose.

Riley smiled down at her. "You like animals?"

Miranda watched them walk down the hall together and smiled. If it hadn't been for Wesker's hateful words in the main lab her life would feel somewhat complete in this moment. She sighed loudly and turned to leave when she bumped into something that was unmoving. She sucked in a breath and glared upwards.

"Harley." His voice was silk wrapped steel. Miranda cringed. She had nothing to say to him. Leaning down to cover her lips with his, it was apparent that he had nothing to say either.

She wanted to tell him no, to fight him off and tell him to stay away from her, but somehow her traitorous lips were working against her. Instead, she was kissing him back. Her arms were wrapping around his neck and coaxing the kisses to a deeper level. Her body pressed against him begging him for the sweet release that only he could offer her. Damn her entire self. None of it was listening to her mind. She was being betrayed.

Wesker's arms circled her and all at once she felt herself being lifted into the air. She wanted to protest but even her tongue as it slid up the length of his neck, was being unfaithful to her. Gently he laid her on the bed they shared and his mouth covered hers again. "I need you, Miranda." He whispered against her lips, his warm breath teasing her.

"I know." She whispered back, taking in a heaving breath. She kissed him again, her tongue brushed his and she sighed contentedly.

Whatever she had wanted to say was lost somewhere in the darkness. Whatever it was could wait…

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