"Do you regret it?"
He blinked, pulling himself out his own momentary reverie and refocused on Shaun. The sandy haired man was still staring at his computer screen, fingers tapping at his keyboard as he continued inputting the new information. He could tell, however, that Shaun's focus was on him and not the computer nor the information he'd been providing to fill in various blanks in the Assassins' past.
"Do we regret what?" he asked.
"This," answered Shaun, flicking one hand towards him before returning it to his keyboard. "What you are now." He then sighed and turned his chair entirely, eyes closed behind his glasses. "I mean, I know you are still Desmond but you're also not."
He knew this line of questioning would come as some point but he'd honestly expected it from William, not Shaun. Then again, after the many conversations they'd had since he and Lucy had escaped from Abstergo, he really should have known that it would be the other man.
"I regret that the Bleeding Effect happened, that I had to stay in the Animus for too long to find what we needed to know and inadvertently caused it," he answered. "However, if you're asking if I regret what happened in the Temple, the answer is no."
"No?" repeated Shaun, eyes flying open. "It nearly killed you! It did this to you!"
"And yet here we sit alive. Sane." He chuckled and when he spoke again it was flavored with the barest hint of Altaïr's accent, "As sane as we may be as we are. We have made the best of our situation, Shaun. Is that not enough?"
The other man just stared at him then threw up his hands, turning back to face his computer as he said, "I just don't see how you're so calm about it. Any of you!"
Ezio surged to the forefront and asked, "And what would you have us do, ragazzo? Wallow in self-pity and loathing? No, we have all done that too much in our pasts. It would be shameful for us to behave in such a way." He flippantly waved a hand and leaned back in his chair, his entire body language shifting to echo that of the Italian assassin. "We are Mentors, the leaders of the Order, yes? We are better than that."
"Speak for yourself, Assassin," snarled Haytham abruptly, though his posture never changed.
Sighing at Shaun's now wide eyes, he shook his head and said, "We are not all in agreeance. Some of us aren't even Assassins."
"Not even...wait, Haytham? Connor's father? Connor's father is in your head?"
He sat up, posture and bearing suddenly alert like a coiled spring, and Ratonhnhaké:ton answered, "He is the least of us but, yes, he is here. Only because of exploring his life before we came to my own but also because he was an integral part of mine. That is our theory at least."
"You have a Templar in your head."
"A Templar where there are no more to be had and surrounded by Assassins," he said with a wry smile as he relaxed back into Ezio's easy sprawl and his voice returned to Desmond's.
Shaun just shook his head then asked, "So, what do I call you?"
He laughed and replied, "I'll still answer to Desmond, I promise. It's not how I think of myself but it suffices for ease of referral."
"And how do you think of yourself? If I can ask?"
"Sometimes as us. We. Sometimes by name. It merely depends by situation to situation."
Shaun frowned thoughtfully, chewing on his lower lip, then turned to his computer. As he opened a new blank file, he asked, "Can we take a break on the historical? I want to know more about the Bleeding Effect and how it affected you. How you dealt with it."
"I fear anyone else who experiences it in the future will not have such a fix as we do," he pointed out.
"Oh I know that. But it's good to document. And if you could relate some of what you felt when it started, the things that happened, maybe we could keep a better eye out for it if Animus' continue to be used."
He pursed his lips and tapped his fingers against the arm of the chair as he pondered that. It certainly was a good point of research and if they could keep some other poor soul from suffering through that torturous experience as he and Kaczmarek had, it would surely be nothing but a good thing. Nodding, he said, "Very well, Shaun. We will relate our experience to you. And, perhaps, you will begin to understand a little better about our acceptance if we explain this way."
"Maybe," said Shaun with a slight smile before turning his gaze back to his computer, fingers poised to begin typing. "Ready, Desmond?"
Smiling, he nodded in response and began to speak.