Disclaimer - I don't own.


Birkin breezed into the room, tearing off his latex gloves and dropping them in the bin. He immediately turned on the sink and began scrubbing his hands as if trying to remove some especially caustic residue.

Wesker barely looked up from his microscope. "How is the patient, Doctor?"

"Breathing," he said, sounding disappointment

"That's an improvement."

Birkin dried off his hands, then abruptly slammed one onto the counter, frustration clear on his face.

"It wasn't supposed to fail."

"It hasn't yet."

"It's certainly not going according to plan."

"What does?"

"How can you be so…blasé about this? Months of research practically spilled down the drain."

"It's salvageable."

"You weren't in there. You haven't seen how that virus mutated. He just…wouldn't die properly."

Wesker's tone was dry. "I'm looking at it right now."

"…when did you get a sample?"

"Before you rode off to battle."

"Were you going to tell me?"

"If you asked."

Curiosity overrode annoyance. "What do you propose?"

"Nothing yet, other than patience. You're too excitable, William."

That comment elicited an amused snort, but other than that, Birkin didn't react. Instead, he paced, back and forth, back and forth, his thoughts circling around the twisted form who seemed bound and determined to absolutely ruin all of Birkin's efforts. It was too difficult to procure test subjects who didn't have an abnormal reaction as soon as they were exposed to this new strain; Birkin did not want this one to go to waste.

Absently, he shrugged out of his blood-stained lab coat, disposing of it the same as his gloves. His actions weren't nearly as careless as they appeared; the waste disposal bin was specifically for contaminants, and was handled with all the caution Umbrella could muster.

A scream was heard from the adjacent room, and Birkin glanced at the heavy steel door warily. That certainly didn't sound good.

He pressed a small button on the console next to Wesker.

"Beta Lab."

"What's going on in there?"

"Dr. Birkin? Your, ah…patient is loose."

"...are there casualties?"

A pause, followed by muffled conversation. "Well…"

Birkin was losing his patience. "Are…there…casualties."

Another voice took over – one of the head researchers, a burly ex-military guy who knew how to show proper respect to his superiors. "Minimal, Doctor. It's currently being contained."

Wesker raised an eyebrow, but otherwise remained silent.

Birkin massaged his temples. If the creature had gotten loose once, there was a good chance it would do so again, and Birkin was especially displeased by how incompetent security seemed to be lately. If that part of the facility failed, even marginally…

He didn't want to think about that.

"Terminate it," he said finally, already mentally writing up the report he would submit justifying his decision.

"Sir…?"

"I'm not going to repeat myself again. Oh, and make sure the body is incinerated immediately." It wouldn't do to have any unfortunate aftereffects wandering around.

"Yes Sir."

Birkin jabbed the button again, then stamped his foot. "Goddamnit," he swore, adding a few additional comments afterwards that would have soured the air if words had any physical affect.

"It happens, William. There will be more. There's always more."

"But we were so close…"

Wesker pushed away from the desk, idly stretching his arms. "Closer than you think. Take a look."

Immediately suspicious, Birkin stepped in, peering into the microscope.

Then he began to laugh.

"We don't need a special test subject after all. Look at that…it's beautiful…look how quickly those cells are dying off, and then reanimating…what did you do?"

"You're a smart guy, William. Figure it out."

Such an endeavor would likely take him the rest of the day and a good portion of the evening. "I am supposed to take Annette out to dinner," he replied, though his attention was clearly on the sample.

"You're such a gentleman."

"I am considering proposing to her."

"You're ready for a commitment?"

"I think so." Birkin giggled softly, adjusting the microscope. "I bought a ring and everything. I'm just waiting for the perfect time and place to pop the question."

"I could offer a few suggestions."

"I'm sure you could, Albert. Get out of the chair; I need to figure out what you did."

"What about Annette? Won't she be…disappointed?"

"She'll get over it."