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"You can't seriously think this is a good idea," Malik groans when he sees their destination.

Altaïr's answer is a sly grin, dark eyes laughing under his ever-present white hood. Malik swears he has the worst boyfriend in the world and he's a goddamn saint for putting up with it, but he lets Altaïr pull him into the arcade nonetheless.

Malik scowls at the rows of fighting machines that take two hands to play effectively and nudges Altaïr towards the racing games. Even handicapped as he is he's gotten good at them, steering with his knees when he needs to shift or hit the nitrous button or the handbrake. If he's going to be forced to be here (or else suffer one of his boyfriend's epic sulks) then they're going to play at least a few rounds of something he has a chance to win.

They manage a few games of air hockey and some skeeball also, but two hours later he's bored out of his skull and reduced to button-mashing a music game alone because Altaïr got into a basketball shootout with some punk who was talking shit. Malik’s not doing too badly but his hand is starting to cramp trying to stretch across the gamepad and he’s not even a third of the way through the song. A sudden warmth at his back makes him stiffen in surprise and miss the next three notes but he relaxes a fraction when he recognises the hands that sneak around him to help finish out the song. When he tries to move out of the way to let his boyfriend have full run of the machine, Altaïr’s chin comes to rest on his shoulder, holding him in place.

It isn’t until the stats rattle past and the selection screen starts counting down to the next round that Altaïr speaks, breath hot on Malik’s ear. “Pick something harder this time.”

He sighs, even as he starts scrolling. “Why?”

“Because three hands are better than two,” Altaïr murmurs back, punctuating the appallingly sappy statement with an equally cheesy kiss to Malik’s cheek.

He scoffs but they play the last two songs in the set on hard and manage decent scores. When Altaïr finally pulls back so they can leave, hopefully to go get some food or something, Malik finds a stuffed animal thrust into his chest as soon as he turns around. (He thinks it’s supposed to be an eagle, but he’s not sure.) Altaïr’s hood is pulled down low but he’s grinning so Malik only raises an eyebrow instead of asking what his boyfriend thinks he needs to apologise for this time.

“Where did you even get this?”

Altaïr gives a twitch of the shoulder that draws Malik’s eye towards the skill machines set next to the hunting games. He frowns when he doesn’t see a single eagle in any of them.

He puts it out of his mind until they’re just about done with lunch. A middle-aged woman shuffles over to their table a little hesitantly and Malik tries not to stiffen. Usually these people all want to ask embarrassing questions about either his arm or his relationship with Altaïr and he’s just not in the mood. Instead, she smiles and touches the table beside Altaïr’s arm like she’d rather give him a hug but can tell it most definitely wouldn’t be appreciated coming from a stranger.

“I just wanted to thank you again, young man. It really meant a lot to all of the children, what you did.”

She shuffles off again when Altaïr gives a little nod and Malik follows her progress across the dining room to where there’s a large group of children spread out across multiple booths and tables. He’d say they were a school group but school’s not in session, so he figures it’s a day out for one of the few orphanages in town. Every single kid is clutching a stuffed animal, trying not to get food on them but also clearly unwilling to put their new toys down to eat. He raises his eyebrow again and this time Altaïr grins unrepentantly.


Malik’s eyes shift between the eagle and his boyfriend pointedly and Altaïr snatches it up from where it had been sitting. If anything, his grin gets cockier.

“Little Altaïr was buried under all those other animals. What were you going to do with that many extra rabbits and tigers? The kids were just there, watching me, so I figured why not?”

Malik’s other eyebrow joins the first. “You named it after yourself?”

“Of course! Now you’ll always have me with you, even when I have to go out of town for work or something.”

Malik gives his boyfriend a flat stare and plucks the stuffed animal - Little Altaïr indeed - from its namesake’s arms and stands up. He leaves Altaïr scrambling to clean up their trash and hides his smile in fake eagle feathers as he steps out into the sun. Altaïr might be the worst boyfriend in the world, but sometimes he wasn’t so bad.