Leon pulled at the collar of his suit and for the millionth time wished his hands weren't sweating so much.
In a few moments, he and his bride-to-be would take the spotlight in front of the chapel, and he was deathly afraid. Not of being married, but of screwing it up. It would be just his luck to begin sabotaging his marriage at the wedding itself.
No, that was negative thinking. Positive thoughts—that was the key. Out with the bad, in with the good, and all that other new age bullshit that ended up on public access television and in small bookstores.
"How are you holding up?" It was Jonathan, looking predictably smug at the thought of his Agent marrying off.
"I've been better."
"Not after tonight you won't have been," his boss chuckled, looking over Leon in his tuxedo. His eyes softened and took on a distant look. "Did I ever tell you about my wife, Leon?"
Leon had seen pictures in Jonathan's office of a woman with dark hair and a bright smile but knew nothing other than her appearance. "No, you haven't."
"We were married for the best fourteen years of my life. The cancer took her from me," John said with an old pain in his eyes. "I've always regretted the time I spent at the office instead of with her. You never know how long you have to be happy." The older man shook himself from the memories. "Anyway, maybe now isn't the proper time, but I wanted you to know I just got back from a meeting with the Board. You've been promoted."
Leon smiled, genuinely pleased and grateful to hear it. "Thank you, sir."
"I've moved you up to be under my direct supervision; you won't be pulling jobs from the Agent pool anymore. There are a lot of missions that could benefit in the planning stages from your extensive experience."
"Am I grounded?" It was a term that Agents used much the same way it was in the Air Force—no more active field assignments. Leon wasn't sure how to feel about that. On one hand it would make it much easier to spend time with Ashley, and the risks associated with black ops work were all but eliminated. On the other hand, he would miss working in the field, and could see a desk job quickly becoming stale.
"Not exactly. As my operations expert you'll be going where I go, which means a lot of overseas travel and otherwise. And, of course, who's to say every now and then whether an assignment might require your personal intervention."
Now things were definitely looking up. His new role in the Agency would allow him a great deal of flexibility. "Thank you very much, sir, I won't let you down."
Jonathon snorted. "Of course, you won't; if you did, I wouldn't have put you in this position. Fuckups aren't allowed in this business." He turned back to the door. "We'll discuss this more when you return to work. Enjoy your honeymoon."
Leon grinned. "You can count on that."
A Note from the Author, 3/30/23
As I remember it, this story was originally written and published between the summer of 2005 and some point in 2006. It was then revised in 2008. It is now again revised in 2023 with the anticipation of increased traffic due to the RE4 Remake, despite the fact this story is based on the original. Anyone looking for Leon and Ashley content has few options, even all these years later. No doubt the remake will bring a new influx of stories, but until then, I expect this work will be gaining readership.
In a way, this is unfortunate, because this isn't a very good story. It's too short to do the concept justice, it's incredibly unfocused, it takes considerable liberties with characterization, and it can't seem to decide what genre it is. Stories can span multiple genres, of course, but this one fails to do it gracefully, pivoting wildly between the horror action of its progenitor, and, of all things, romantic comedy.
The story's sudden plunge into an entirely different genre seems to have (rightly) worried my past self, if the attempted course correction in the reintroduction of the flashbacks is any indication. However, soon after I must have given up, because the story abruptly ends with that most desperate refuge of hack writers searching for a conclusion, any conclusion: 'and then they got married,' which is equaled only by sudden, unearned death or the reveal that it was all a dream.
The story should have ended with chapter ten, as that's clearly when I ran out of ideas. This is evidenced by the resultant padding, which includes two 'chapters' less than a thousand words long, the return to the 'Scenes from a Waking' format, multiple sections of unreadable word salad passing as dream sequences, and at one point an inexplicably detailed description of Ashley's shower stall (also, chapter twelve is called 'Occasions to Be There,' and I have no idea what that means. This is not relevant to the topic of padding, but it bothers me).
Some of the problems within this story, particularly those of characterization, are made somewhat amusing now by the remake, which attempts to address the same issues that I was wrestling with all those years ago. As a result, this story's version of Ashley seems less non-canon than before. It is nice to see that many of the problems I identified with the narrative in 2005 are the same problems addressed in turn by the remake team.
This reedit of the story does nothing to address the massive structural issues. If I ever wanted to return to the world of Resident Evil 4 as a fanfictionist, I'd start over. Instead, minor changes have been made simply for the sake of technical correctness and clarity. Capcom took Resident Evil 4 and created a full remake, a true reimagining; I have taken this story and merely remastered it.