A Rose by Any Other Name

Grave Where is Thy Victory?

Miranda woke up slowly. This time there was no Wesker, so this time she knew she was waking up for real. The feeling saddened her, and yet she knew that she had to go on. Umbrella had to know the truth about what she'd done.

But, the only thing on her mind right then was brushing her teeth and taking shower. Her mouth was dry and she felt disgusting. A few careful steps down a cold metallic hallway and she found a bathroom where a fresh toothbrush and terrycloth robe laid carefully on the edge of the sink.

After she'd scrubbed her teeth, more thoroughly than she'd ever done in her entire life, she stepped into the shower. The water was warm and inviting, much like Albert Wesker's kiss had been in her dream. It was too bad that it had only been a dream. That kiss was fantastic. It was a shame she would never get the chance to have another. Wesker was gone and she would never love anyone else.

What had made her pick him? She'd always heard that good girls fall in love with bad guys and Albert was bad. He'd spent nearly nine years using her and ignoring her, unless he wanted something from her. And yet, she still loved him. He was the father of her child and the man who occupied her every waking thought and now her dreams.

She closed her eyes and whispered his name, feeling the water flow over her body caressing her with its warm touch. Leaning back she tipped her head under the showerhead and ran her fingers through her hair.

All it once a new sensation swept over her. Fingers touching her hips, sliding up her body. Her head shot out of the rushing water and she opened her eyes, preparing to scream, but Albert Wesker put a finger to her lips and smiled darkly.

Miranda's mind was reeling. She knew for certain that she was awake, so that meant… "Wesker!" She cried. "Oh god, Wesker, you're alive!" Tears sprang up in her eyes, but Wesker's hand moving up her spine collapsed her composure. She leaned against him, crying into his chest. "I'm sorry." He said nothing in return, even when Miranda looked up at him. His expression remained unchanged.

He was standing here in front of her, alive and shirtless. He was as handsome as he'd always been, but now there was something more to him. He seemed almost mystical, an unearthly creature sent to ravish the very soul from her body. Looking down she realized that she was far more indecent than he was. Just as she reached for towel, Wesker caught her arm. "You are truly beautiful, Harley." He whispered, his lips meeting hers in a passionate kiss. The same electricity from her dream swelled around her and she welcomed it, ignoring the evil that came with it like a dismal thundercloud.

She clung to him as if he were the only thing holding her to the earth. Wesker put his arms around her, deepening the kiss and she threaded her fingers through his hair. She could taste his need for her. The water rushed around them as they embraced the world disappearing except for the two of them.

Much later a lifetime it seemed Albert Wesker, alive and well, carried her to a dark room and laid her on the bed. "I'm not finished with you yet." His feral smile caught her off guard. He'd never said anything like that before.

"Where are we?" She asked quietly, afraid that even her words would break their spell of passion.

"This is my quarters. I thought this might be a little more private than your room." He sat down beside her and captured her lips. She prayed that whatever possessed Wesker to take her as he had, would continue to do so.

And yet she was tired. For some reason, she had little stamina left. It was as if Wesker himself were draining her energy. However, she would not tell him to stop not in a million lifetimes. She needed him as she'd never needed him before.

He ran his fingers through her hair and she moaned. "Albert," she said lovingly. "I…"

"Shh…" He put a finger to her lips and leaned down to kiss the valley between her breasts. Laying a hand on her thigh, he smiled. Then, leaning upward he kissed her again parting her lips with his tongue. There had never been many nights between them as passionate as this.

Dawn found Albert Wesker sitting quietly in a chair across from the bed where Miranda still slept. He had been thinking all night, his mind a jumble of ideas and plans. He figured that somewhere along the way Miranda would be more useful to him as an accomplice than a test subject. After all, for nine years she'd lived in the Spencer Mansion. Perhaps she might know what secrets lay buried somewhere in that house. If she did his new Organization would surely be grateful to him for saving her life.

Miranda sighed in her sleep and Wesker felt a sinister smile creep over his features. There were plenty of good reasons for keeping her alive.

He stood and stretched, popping his shoulders as he did so. Once upon a time, such a move would have sent waves of excruciating pain throughout his body but now it had no affect on him what so ever. He guessed it was another benefit of being inhuman… along with last's nights little liaison...

"Hey, Wesker…Ah…I didn't see anything…I swear…Oh jeez…" Riley poked his head around the door and his face turned red.

"What?" Wesker barked, trying to keep his voice quiet.

"We need to talk. It's about…" Miranda rolled over, the sheet sliding down her body and moaned "Ah…" Wesker reached out and pulled the sheet back over her, sending Riley a warning glance.

Riley put his hands over his eyes, "Hear no evil. See no evil; can't honestly say I won't say anything though."

"Get out." Wesker snarled. "I'll meet you in the laboratory." As soon as the door closed, Wesker ran a finger gently across Miranda's cheek. There was so much history between them he wasn't sure where and when she'd first come into his life.

Picking up his black shirt from the top of his dresser, he frowned. Miranda had never given him enough credit. She didn't know the first thing about him. She never trusted him. Then again, he'd never given her reason to. Pulling his boots on, he exited the room without looking back.

Miranda opened her eyes to the blinding sun and yawned. She was still exhausted from the night before. Nevertheless she felt good. She felt more alive than ever before. Happily, she stretched and swung her feet off the side of Wesker's enormous bed.

Her Albert Wesker had survived. He was all right. She was bursting with joy and it made her feel giddy. She giggled in spite of herself.

On the edge of a chair there were a pair of jeans and a big gray sweatshirt with the letters H. C. F. printed across the front. She had no earthly idea what that stood for and wasn't sure she wanted to know. Almost hidden beneath the clothes was a single red rose. Surprised Miranda picked it up and held it to her nose.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Wesker quoted "Shakespeare, I believe." She slid the sweater over her head and nodded.

"Wesker," she said quietly, suddenly shy. "I'm so glad you're alive. I thought you were dead. I thought we both were. We have to get back to Umbrella Headquarters and let them know what happened. They'll be glad to know you're alive."

"You think so, Harley?" Wesker adjusted his sunglasses, for some reason he didn't seem as welcoming as he had mere moments ago. "You really think Umbrella cares what happened to us?"

She nodded again. "Of course they do."

"Oh?" Wesker hiked an eyebrow, his voice harsh. "We are dead, Harley. And you are a fool."

"Dead?" Miranda asked unbelievingly. "That's not true. We're not dead."

Wesker said nothing in response; instead he reached into his vest pocket and handed her a crumpled but neatly folded piece of paper. In stunned silence Miranda read the notice.

To Umbrella Inc. and All Affiliates:

It is our sad duty to report the distressing events that transpired in the Spencer Mansion have ended with the tragic loss of many lives. Our Arklay Mountain bio-chemical research team as well as many others including Albert Wesker who headed up the special Unit of S.T.A.R.S. and Miranda Harley of our Corporate Team were among the casualties.

Due to this unfortunate loss the Head Office has ordered that all remaining research facilities including Umbrella Europe, Rockfort Island, Sheena Island, the Raccoon City Pharmaceutical and Chemical Plant, and our military base in Antarctica continue to be on high alert until further notice.

It has also come to our attention that the "Harley" Tyrant DNA has been lost due to Albert Wesker's failure to collect the combat data and Miranda Harley's failure to follow orders to have a back-up copy of the DNA stored in a safe place.

This being said; please be advised that all traitors to Umbrella will not be tolerated and will be executed upon discovery.

On another note, the remaining S.T.A.R.S members must not be allowed to survive. Illuminate them immediately using any means necessary.

Your loyal Corporate Office Staff,

Umbrella Inc.

Miranda continued to stare at the condemnatory fax for several minutes before handing it back to Wesker with a shaking hand. Wesker folded it and returned to his vest pocket. "Now do you believe me?"

She said nothing, her insides quivering. Umbrella had betrayed them. For personal glory, the Umbrella Corporation had ruined the names of people who had once been their heroes. They had slandered the dead…or at least supposedly dead. "What now?"

"You help me, Harley. Help me make Umbrella pay for their insolence." She stared into his dark glasses, wishing that at least once he would take them off and look at her. She hadn't thought to look to look into his eyes last night.

"I don't know, Wesker. I can't give you an answer just yet." Her response didn't seem to please him, but he nodded curtly. How could she be disloyal to a company she'd worked for almost twelve years? Her father had worked for Umbrella all his life. How could she turn her back on that?

Without realizing it, Wesker was watching her intently. "Finish getting dressed." He said calmly. "I have many things to accomplish…"

Miranda interrupted him. "Let me guess, you're leaving me again. Well don't let the door hit you in the…" Wesker interrupted her in turn by planting a kiss firmly on her lips.

After a lingering moment, he looked down at her. "I thought you might want to come with me." Surprised again, Miranda nodded. She was speechless. Under Wesker's watchful eye she finished dressing and followed him out the door.

Marcus Baker sat in a cold metal chair and waited to be called into the Head Office. He'd been interrupted during a very important experiment with a message from that snotty Riley Davis. Davis who thought he was better than the rest of them because he was in charge of the Wesker study.

In truth, Marcus hoped that it had nothing to do with Albert Wesker. He'd already caught a lot of flack around the lab for what had happened a few weeks ago. He didn't need Corporate on his tail about it too.

Why was he getting the heat for it anyway? He hadn't done anything wrong. He'd merely told one of his co-workers his opinion. It was a bad idea then and it was a bad idea now to keep her alive. She was Umbrella; there was no telling what she was capable of…and the rest of them thought that Wesker monster was bad.

He hated that Wesker thing. Everyone made such a big deal about of him. He was dead for god sake. What was so damn interesting about a dead guy? Nobody had made that big a deal about the zombie he'd created six months ago. That smart-mouthed Riley had the nerve to say that Umbrella was still leading in the T-virus research.

The immense wooden door in front of him opened and a fat balding man stepped out. "They will see you now." Deep down, Marcus was excited about seeing the inside of the Head Office. Very few people had ever been in there, save Wesker and that infernal Riley Davis. He stood and followed the fat man.

The office was dark, almost as if he were in some sort of movie. Three people, their faces and attributes unrecognizable in the darkness sat around a sprawling table. The one at the head of the table stood.

"Sit down, Marcus." They were going to chastise him and then have him killed, he was sure of it. He did as he was told. "We understand you had some sort of altercation with Albert Wesker a few weeks ago." The deep male voice said. He nodded even though he thought they couldn't see him. "We know what you said and we are indifferent to the subject that has caused so much controversy as of late. But we want you to forget about it. The sooner you do, the better your research will be." He nodded again.

"But for now, we'd like you to use that anger against Mr. Wesker." This time it was a female voice. "We'd like you to test his anger levels."

"You must be joking." Marcus shot out. "No way."

"Mr. Baker," another male voice chimed in. "This could be a great opportunity for you. Successful test results for you could mean advancement in other studies."

"I see…" Marcus was always looking for ways to advance, and if this meant becoming Riley's supervisor then he was more than willing to try it.

"The possibilities are endless, Mr. Baker." The woman said softly.

"I understand that. But…what if Wesker goes totally out of control. I wonder if you all have seen what he's capable of."

"We are well aware of Mr. Wesker's abilities Mr. Baker." One of the men said bluntly. "And we have a solution. A simple solution."

"And that would be?" Marcus snorted.

"A gun, Mr. Baker. A .357 Magnum to be exact. If Mr. Wesker should lose control, you are authorized to use any means necessary to bring him down…"

"No, man. It's like this. You hit the remote and…" Riley punched at the remote with his index finger. After several moments nothing happened. Wesker laughed sharply. "You try it then!" Wesker took the remote and suddenly smashed it on the table in front of him, a smile spreading across his features. "You're not just mean, you're the devil himself." Riley threw his notes in the air in exaggerated gusto. "The Hunters are a very delicate specie of bio-monster, Wesker. Jeez…There's not going to be very many options of controlling them."

"I'm sure you'll think of something." Wesker said dryly. "I need them operational by the first mission, Riley. I will not risk letting a single one of the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members escape. Every window of opportunity is invaluable."

" I can certainly understand that, Wesker, but these things are a ticking time bomb just waiting to…" Riley sighed at Wesker who was staring at the door. "You aren't even listening are you?" Wesker looked toward him, his red eyes flashing. Startled, Riley fell back ward out of his chair. "I hate it when you do that." He mumbled, standing slowly and brushing off his pant legs. "Relax, she just went to the bathroom. You know how women are."

"That does not concern me." Wesker shot back.

"Oh sure. You're just afraid she'll get lost in the lab's only hallway." Riley nodded. He opened his mouth to say more, but was cut short by the entrance of Baxter Ferguson the Head office secretary.

"Gentlemen, I have a message for you." He waited for the two men to acknowledge his continuance. "The Head Office wishes for Albert Wesker to test some more of his new found skills in the Observation room. You must be present immediately." With that, the exceptionally large man left the room and Riley stole a glance at Wesker who was grinning inanely.

"What fun." He said through gritted teeth.

Miranda was lost. The huge hallway was full of doors that lead into other side labs and animal cages. Just now she was standing in front of a large glass window trying desperately to see inside. If curiosity killed the cat then she was in a lot of trouble. She was leaning closer to the window and squinting, trying to see through the darkness when a monster hit the glass. Her scream erupted before she could stop herself. The zombie beat on the pane and moaned forlornly.

The door burst open behind her and Wesker grabbed her arm. No more than a split second had passed.

"We have more important things to do than to play with the animals, Harley." Wesker barked. He led her to another large room with a window in it. She was reluctant to go near it. She'd had enough excitement for one day. "Stay here." Wesker instructed. Riley stood next to her and patted her arm.

"Not to worry, sweetie. This is the fun part." Wesker turned suddenly, his eyes on Riley. Although Miranda did not understand, Riley nodded. "Safe and sound Wesker. Safe and sound." Wesker nodded back and entered the room on the other side of the glass. "Oh no…" Riley choked out. He was looking into the glass. Miranda followed his eyes but couldn't see what he was worried about. All she saw was a tall young man with brown hair and a smug smile.

"Albert Wesker, the big scary monster man." Wesker recognized this man as the one he'd threatened a few weeks ago. He was not happy with this turn of events at all. He chose not to respond. "Oh come on, what's wrong? Dumbfounded? Surely not you…the articulate one." Wesker sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. His assumed an uninterested stance.

"You know…" the scientist said with a frown, "It's too bad the S.T.A.R.S. got away. I guess you weren't man enough to stop them." Wesker lifted an eyebrow and scowled. "You're such a man, you had to have a woman save you."

"You know." Wesker answered softly. "I'm quite bored with this whole conversation."

"Like you're bored with her?" the question hit home. Wesker titled his sunglasses and glared at Marcus. For a fleeting moment Marcus was afraid, then he remembered the gun hidden in his pocket. He'd always wanted to fire a gun.

"Why are they just standing there? What's he saying?" The questions were popping up in murmurs around the room. Miranda stared at Wesker, the feeling of uneasiness sliding over her like a snake. He was standing with his leg spread apart and his arms crossed. Something was definitely wrong.

"Riley…"She said suddenly. Riley turned toward her a troubled look on his face.

"He's all right…M…He's…" but before he could finish, Wesker exploded.

The blood splattered against the glass in a sickening thud. Wesker withdrew his fist and kicked the scientist under the chin sending him flying. In the blink of an eye Wesker was on him again slamming his head into the floor. The scientist clawed at his arms and screamed, choking on his own blood. He reached up and grabbed at Wesker's face managing the pull the sunglasses from his eyes. Wesker let go of him for a moment and snarled, the bloodlust clouding his thoughts as he turned away.

"When do I get my turn with her, Wesker?" Behind him Marcus stood and wiped his nose. Wesker whirled around, his eyes flashing red. "You're nothing but a monster anyway, she needs a real man to keep her happy." Marcus pulled out his gun, but was not quick enough to stop him…

Miranda pushed her way through the growing crowd just in time to see Wesker's body twist in a violent kick that took the brown haired man to the ground. Some sort of gun slid away from him. Evil radiated through the room and angled its way toward her. Wesker was heading out of control and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

Wesker picked up the man with one hand and tossed him across the vast space inside the Observation room. Gasps sounded all around her. Wesker leapt into the air and slammed another fist against the side of the scientist's face.

"Wesker!" Miranda screamed pounding her fists against the glass. "Stop it!" The brown haired man stumbled to his feet and ran for the gun. But Wesker caught him and threw him against the pane, jagged cracks appearing everywhere. Picking him up again Wesker slammed his face against the cracks, blood splattering in savage waves of red. Wesker didn't even seem to notice the drops of blood on his own face. The scientist's eyes rolled back in his head.

"Wesker! You're killing him! Stop it!" Miranda pleaded, her voice draining away as she screamed. "Wesker!"

The cationic waves of pure anger were arcing through him like an electric current. He could see nothing but the blood that was seeping down the walls and the glass pane in front of him. Nothing mattered to him save the death of this man lying at his feet. In between flashes of red he saw Chris Redfield, a man whose death would bring him ultimate satisfaction. Revenge was the sweetest taste there ever was. Chris had cost him his humanity and now Wesker would cost Chris his very soul.

His world was going hazy with the mask of red death, until…Her voice broke through the waves of blood. It didn't sound right. The way she was screaming his name sounded urgent. Blinking, he stared through the glass at Miranda Harley who was now sobbing breathlessly, her head and hands were lying against the pane.

Suddenly, Wesker discovered that he was very tired. Without another thought, he walked away from the unconscious form and toward the door, once again ripping it from its hinges.

Miranda sank to her knees as Wesker walked away, finding it hard to breathe. Riley stood beside her silently. She'd seen into his eyes and what she saw frightened her. His eyes were no longer the brilliant blue they once were. His eyes were now a strange yellow infringed with a violent red. His pupils were narrow like those of a snake. The only time she ever seen eyes like that were on the snake they had been testing on before the accident at the mansion.

"Riley," she said at last barely able to force out a whisper. "What have they done to him?"

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