The Art of Good-Bye

Disclaimer: I do NOT own Dino Crisis or any of the characters.

Summary: Gail and Regina talk after the Ibis Island incident. Short one-shot, no real plot - sort of explains Gail's absence from the second game, though.

Author's Note: This takes place shortly after the "good ending" of the first Dino Crisis game where Kirk and Gail live and escape with Rick and Regina. This is also my very first Dino Crisis fic so it might not be very good but I would appreciate it if the flames were kept to a minimum.

On the off chance that this is actually enjoyable to read, please review.

Shots rang out and sweat collected on a feminine brow, plastering bright red hair to the shooter's forehead. Paper tore as bullets ripped through targets, continuing to fly and embedding themselves into the concrete wall just beyond - an empty click sounded and the shots paused as the woman shooting reloaded her weapon.

"You're losing your touch," someone scoffed from behind her.

Regina finished reloading and turned swiftly to see Gail standing behind her. His eyes were dull, making him look tired and there was a sling fastened around one large, muscular arm but other than that, he was the same old Gail, signature sneer firmly in place.

He took a step toward her as she turned back to the targets hanging in her stall of the shooting range. "You're too stiff - pick up a shotgun and shoot like that and you'll dislocate your shoulder on the reel."

The redhead before him shook her head as she took aim. "What's the verdict," she asked, pulling down on the trigger and watching ammo fly. She found that she was a faster shooter since the Ibis Island incident, her training was nothing compared to going toe-to-toe with dinosaurs and the experience improved her greatly if she did say so herself.

Her blond companion sighed and she could just imagine him running a hand over his short cropped hair in frustration. "I'm off active duty for the next two months." The shots ceased and she whipped around to look at him but he held up a hand before she could say anything. "I'm no spring chicken," he reminded ruefully.

"So what does that mean for me and Rick?" Confusion sparkled in her hazel orbs as she looked up at him, absentmindedly fiddling with the safety on her weapon.

"You and Rick will be assigned another leader for the time being...maybe even permanently."

Regina's eyes widened and she began shaking her head as she holstered her weapon. "But they can't do that," she exclaimed, turning in frustration and flinging open the door that led out into the range to take down her targets.

Gail sighed, rolling his eyes as he followed her. "I'm getting old, Regina and Ibis Island really took its toll on me," he informed, gesturing to his arm when she turned to him with narrowed eyes. "You knew this was a possibility when you first started training under my command - most men are usually retired from this line of work by my age."

She snorted in a very unladylike fashion before resuming the task of removing her ruined targets from the range. "You're not most men, we wouldn't have gotten through that island without you and you're the reason we were able to bring Kirk back in the first place! There's no way I would have been able to get to the stabilizer in time." She paused for a minute as she returned to the stall and threw the targets away before collecting new ones and moving back into the range to replace the old ones. "You're our leader," she mumbled, sighing dejectedly. "Rick complains but he wouldn't stand for this either-"

"You have a job to do, Regina - you took an oath to protect this country now you keep it," he ordered forcefully. "It doesn't matter if you do it under my command or someone else's but you will do your job."

The young woman sighed as she finished putting the last target in place and a moment or two passed before she turned to him standing tall, arms down by her sides. "Yes sir."

Gail's usual sneer turned into a small smile - out of Regina, Rick and Cooper, Regina had always been the most competent, the most professional and he took pleasure in the fact that he'd done right by at least one of them. He would definitely miss her should the government drop the ball on him as he was healing, not that he would ever tell her that, or anyone else for that matter.

After a few moments of just staring at each other in uncomfortable silence, Regina nodded shortly and walked around Gail - if she stayed there any longer she would lose composure and get emotional, something she most definitely didn't want to do.

"You're an efficient agent, 'Gina," Gail called, hanging his head in preparation for what he was about to say. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you..."

Regina abruptly stopped in her tracks at his words - he never called her 'Gina unless he was unsure of how to express himself and felt he needed a softer edge to get his meaning through. It had happened a few times before, believe it or not, the first and most notable time had been when she'd graduated from training and had been inducted as a full government agent.

"I'm proud of the way you turned out," he finally confessed after a moment, making her turn to face his back. "You're a good soldier."

If she didn't have so much divine given composure, Regina was sure her mouth would be ajar at his admission. Gail didn't give out compliments, not freely anyway, and it made Regina wonder what was going on in his head.

Was he sure the government would force him into retirement?

Did he think Ibis Island was their last mission together?

More importantly, would they ever see each other again?

Regina had become quite attached to him throughout their time together. She'd been under the watch of his sharp eyes for nearly six years including the summer she'd spent in pre-training, and he was not only a good friend but she'd freely admit she was a bit enamored with him. Despite his drive to complete a mission and Rick's sometimes childish complaints, Gail was a good man who cared for his teammates in his own, removed way - qualities she admired in a man and quickly fell in love with.

"You talk like recovering Kirk was our last mission," she began hesitantly.

Gail slowly turned, face serious. "It might be..."

Hazel eyes closed and their owner shook her head in disbelief.

Her career just started and she didn't want another leader - her team had already been torn apart what with Tom dead and Cooper still MIA and she needed at least something to stay the same, she needed Gail. She couldn't serve anyone else and, had she not just promised him that she would uphold her duty, she'd outright refuse.

"It's a possibility and I want you to be prepared," he reiterated firmly, quickly growing tired of her stubbornness - why was she fighting this?

There he went with that serious, detached tone of his - did nothing faze him? She wished something would, she wished for once that he'd show he cared in a normal way.

Ever the trooper she didn't voice her wants, instead she just nodded and turned back around, fully prepared to leave - she wanted no more of this conversation or his stoic stare.

"Regina," Gail began slowly. "I'm proud of you."

The words were gruff and seemingly came out with great difficulty, as though they were retched out instead of spoken, but they made the young redhead smile softly in bittersweet happiness. He was not only happy with who she was as an agent but with who she was as a person; she'd made her mentor proud and that's the greatest thing a student can do, it was the only gift she could give in thanks to his guidance.

"And I am honored to have served under you," she returned gently, wishing she had enough courage to throw her pride out the window and just embrace him - to be unafraid of whether or not he would respond and just do it for herself, to have closure. Instead she set her shoulders and walked from the room, heart in her throat, head held high.

Gail's head dropped and he sighed as he finally allowed her to leave, if she stayed any longer he would do something he'd regret. It was best that it ended this way, then he could remember her the way she was - a strong, beautiful soldier with a lot of promise.

Alright, there it was, my first Dino Crisis fic - I hope I didn't ruin the characters or butcher their personalities or anything. Please remember to review but be constructive, don't flame.