The Best Laid Plans

*****

"Whose desk is that?" The new medic, Rebecca Chambers, asked, motioning to the neatly organized desk against the wall.

"Captain Wesker's," the marksman answered, preoccupied with scrawling something in a leather-bound journal.

"He sits so far away," Chambers remarked, pawing through one of the boxes that sat near the desk that had been designated as hers.

He did sit far away, and that was no accident. It was the same as the dark sunglasses that hid his eyes from the world--isolation. It was just as well that no one saw beneath the black lenses. The eyes may have been the window to the soul, but behind Wesker's eyelids no one was home.

So he sat far away from them, and they from him. Which was just the way he liked it.

*****

"DAMN it," Jill Valentine exploded, banging on the softly-glowing front of the machine with the side of her fist. Sometimes it was hard to tell which was more annoying--Rebecca Chambers, or the first-floor, D-wing vending machines.

On the bad days, she would push the button for diet soda, and the machine would give her a regular soda.

On the very bad days, she would push the button for diet soda, and the machine would give her a regular soda, after eating the quarter it owed her in change.

On the worst days, she would push any button and receive neither soda nor quarter.

This day was shaping up to be the worst of Jill's life. She thought back to other bad days--the first car accident she'd ever been in, the day her father had gone to prison...

Looks like we have a new champion, she thought darkly, glaring at the machine.

"Careful, or your face will freeze like that," someone warned with a chuckle. "What's wrong, Valentine?"

Jill mentally cursed herself. First the damn machine wouldn't work properly, and now Chris Redfield had seen her face twisted into a bestial snarl over the trivial problem.

Yup, definitely the worst day of her life.

"This thing just doesn't like me." She motioned to the machine as it hummed innocently, seemingly unaware of the trouble it was causing.

Chris smiled, and it was electric, and he probably didn't even have to work at it. Jill wondered what it was like to be that way, to walk into a room and have three-quarters of it stop what they were doing to look at him. He examined the machine, running a hand through his dark hair.

"It's temperamental, all right, but you just gotta show it who's boss..." He suddenly whacked the side of the machine. Jill raised an eyebrow and was about to speak when a rumbling sounded deep within the metal beast. A can of soda clattered down to the bottom of the machine.

Chris' smile could have lit a small country as he bent to retrieve the soda. "See? There you go."

Jill took the can numbly, feeling the chill of it in her grip. "How did you...?"

He grinned. "All in a day's work." He turned to head back to the office, and the room seemed dimmer when his smile was no longer fixed on her.

Jill woke up just in time to call to his retreating back, "Oh...Chris?"

He turned. "Yeah?"

She wasn't sure what she was planning to say. It didn't matter; she chickened out, and only raised the can of soda in a mock toast. She smiled wryly as she said, "Thanks."

"You bet." He chuckled and left.

Damn it. It just never went the way she wanted it to with him. It seemed like no matter what she did, what she got was never what she wanted...

Suddenly she realized what she was holding.

"Damn machine. I push you for Pepsi, you give me a Coke."

*****

Another late night. Ah well. That did not bother him overly. He was at home in the night, in the dark.

He was on his way out when he stopped, fishing in the pocket of his jacket for the soft crease of a dollar bill. The drowsy buzzing of the vending machine sounded remarkably like Chambers. He shook his head in disgust. If he'd clamped his hands over his ears, he didn't think the girl would have noticed.

As he fed the dollar to the machine, he kept telling himself that it was only a matter of time. He'd worked so hard, and soon everything would fall into place. Soon everything would work out, and soon the only umbrella symbols he'd see would be the tiny parasols in his drinks. The toughest decision he'd have to make would be what wine to have with supper. He'd no longer have to watch Redfield and Valentine stare at each other across their desks and drool, while Chambers' inane babbling faded into white noise in the background. Everything was going according to plan. Not a single thing was out of place. Once the wheels had started turning, the perfect machine of his designs could not be stopped. What could go wr--

"What the hell--?"

He'd hit the button, but nothing seemed to be happening.

He smashed his fist against the button (it was for Coca-Cola), and this time the machine deigned to spit out a root beer.

"God DAMN it," the blonde man said.

*****

Author's Note:

When I was in high school, the sodas in the vending machines cost seventy-five cents. No longer. A lot can happen in a year--just ask Wesker, or any of the S.T.A.R.S., for that matter.

I was on line for Sheryl Crow's autograph when this began, but thanks to Wesker, Jill, and Chris, the waiting wasn't bad at all. (The new album's good, by the way.) I was glad to see Chris; his appearance in this one was a complete surprise to me, but I wouldn't mind working with him again at all. *^_^*

Please review! I accept reviews of all kinds, as long as they're constructive. Thank you.