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A Blade at His Neck

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When Desmond touched the orb he thought it was over. That all the pain he felt was over and he would rest. He thought that he would die and with his sacrifice, the world is saved.

Desmond mainly thought he would rest in peace. Be done with the world and all its hardships.

But Desmond woke up. Desmond woke up and he felt cheated. Cheated by gods known and unknown. Touching the orb should have killed him. Juno had said so. So why the hell is he still alive?

Desmond put that behind him though; he decided to curse the gods later. When he knew where he was.

He looked around saw two things that stood out. One was the fact he was on a roof. The other was the fact there was a rooftop garden next to him.

The only place he saw those; was in memories. Memories that weren’t his own.

There were other buildings, other gardens, every roof was a light color. Like sand or clay. It looked like he was on the outskirt of some kind of city.

He felt a sting come from his arm. Looking at it, he felt panic curl around his heart. His arm was covered in scars. Burn scars. From his figure tips, the worst part, all the way to his shoulder, which was a light red.

He held it up to the sun to see it better. Only to catch sight of something else. It loomed over the city. It’s shadow swallowed buildings whole. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Desmond knew that place. He knew it, he climbed it, he killed in it.

Desmond felt the panic turn to dread.

It was Masyaf.

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Masyaf stood tall, unbroken, untarnished, and most of, it stood unafraid. It was a king among commoners.

And while not a commoner, Desmond was afraid.

He didn’t know why he was scared. It could be because of many reasons or none at all. Whatever it was Desmond knew one thing for sure. He was not going into Masyaf.

Desmond decided to wait till nightfall to drop down to the street. And in the midday sun, gave thought to one of his problems. Altair.

Altair was a problem. Not because they looked alike, that was part of it, but no, that wasn’t it.

The problem was Altair’s shoot first and ask questions later. If Altair were to catch a look at Desmond. Well, Desmond shuddered at the thought. As it were, Altair was one of the reason to skip town.

But at the thought of Altair; Malik and Kadar popped to mind. Along with their ill fated mission against Robert de Sable.

Malik and Kadar. One is dead and the other forced to live with one arm, the guilt of a survivor, and the hatred for a man who was once a friend.

They were another reason to leave. Desmond didn’t know what to do if he was faced with them or even with only one of them. Would he try to save them? Or should he let fate take it course? And If he goes with the second choice; What will he do about Al Mualim? He just didn’t know what to do.

All thoughts where put all the back burner as his stomach growled and the day gave way to night.

--

Desmond jumped to rooftop to rooftop, not unlike a shadow. Or an Assassin on the hunt.

His first stop was a clothes shop. He grabbed black leggings, a white hooded tunic top, finished off with a red sash and one glove to cover his burned hand. He blamed to coloring on living Altair, Ezio, and Connor’s memories.

Next was food and water. Desmond stole a water skin, and for food, he grabbed a sack and filled with apples, rice, sugar, coffee, and anything else he could get his hands on.

--

The night was slowly lighting up with dawn’s light when he got done stealing what he needed.

He grabbed seeds of many plants that when grown he could, hopefully, eat. He also nicked a pair of daggers that painfully simple and barley durable. He grimaced as he looked at them; he would upgrade when he had the money.

Desmond sat on top of the of the roof he woke up on and watched the first sunrise in his new life. It felt oddly calming and surreal. Watching should it of scared him- just like watching the streets down below fill up. But while the streets will never be like New York, he still felt like it was going to be alright. He felt like the world was never going to end; like that was no blade at his neck.

He leaned back and closed his eyes. He still needed a plan but Desmond decided he would work on it after a small nap.

Chapter Text

Desmond watched people past by underneath him. Not noticing or caring about the human shaped shadow on the ground.

It’s been two weeks since him waking up. Desmond had turned the abandoned building that he had woke up on; into his home. It apparently belonged to a merchant that was run out of town by the Assassins.

Desmond found his makeshift home quite welcoming. There was a small creek and was a peaceful area. The garden was flourishing. All in all Desmond got a good deal in his new life. Heck, Desmond got his bartending job back. He was the proud owner of the only tavern in the city state. Named adaptly as The Tavern.

It was kind of funny. When Abstergo had him; all he wanted was to be free and go back to his bartending. But it wasn’t till his ‘Death’ did he make it behind a bar. Irony at the fineness.

Desmond continued to people watch for a bit more before leaving. Nothing left on the roof to show he was there other than a feather.

Moving fast, Desmond ran to his tavern. While in the first week of The Tavern being open, Desmond learnt a lot of things. One thing that he learnt was that the year was 1188. Another was the fact Assassins barely leave the fortress. The last was that he still couldn’t cook.

The villagers seem to enjoy the tavern and Desmond found this new life calming.

--

Desmond stood behind the bar a served drinks.

The Tavern was half full and Desmond quite liked that. Most were hiding from the midday heat and were enjoying the cool. Till the tavern door opened and in came an Assassin.

“Welcome,” Desmond called out. He was cleaning off a few tables and delivering drinks. So really it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t notice the silence that fell over the building. But when he finally looked up he took notice of it and the reason why.

There in the doorway, standing awkwardly still, was an Assassins. Clade in white with a red sash and no weapons, not even an hidden blade, Desmond knew right away they were a novice.

“Take a seat! Now what can I get ya?” Desmond’s accent made an appearance as the hooded novice took a seat with his back facing the wall.

“Water.” The novice had a quiet voice and seemed a bit shy from the way they were fidgeting.

“Comin’ right up,” Desmond went in the back room and grabbed to requested water. When Desmond walked back to the serving area; he found the noise had slowly returned though not as loud as before. “What brings an Assassin out the Fortress?”

The novice took the drink but didn’t answer the question for a moment. “Relaxing.”

Desmond hid a smile. The novice seemed to know of the word called underestimating. With saying ‘Relaxing’ the novice effective put the villagers at peace and at the same time made them underestimate the novice.

The small part of Desmond that was Altair and Ezio approved.

--

The novice stayed in the tavern for a bit.

The villagers coming and going. No fights broke out and Desmond found it funny that one novice seemed to scare a city full of people. But at the same time he was worried about the rift between the two groups.

The novice dropped the amount owed on the bar top before making a quiet exit after saying, “Thank you.”

Desmond suddenly found his new life a bit more interesting.

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The next few days followed in quick accession.

The novice was like a police officer in the tavern. No one started fights when he was in and even when he was out, the villagers were still careful. Though there were those hard headed idiots who wanted a fight.

“Back again,” Desmond called out as the tavern door swung open.

The novice looked at Desmond before nodding and taking his seat in the back. The novice’s hood was still up but Desmond could make a bit of a smile.

“Same old?” The question was answered by a nodded. Desmond gave a quiet snort at the nonverbal answer.

Desmond pulled out a chair as he set the water, “Any news of the outside world?”

“Nothing new,” both the novice and Desmond signed at the answer.

Desmond felt guilty that he wished something would happen. He felt like he betraying Shaun and Rebecca. Like all their hard work to keep him alive was useless. The first weeks in Masyaf was fine. The calming repetition of the days of work in the medieval world. Desmond was grateful for them, he really was.

But…

He missed Altair, Ezio, even Connor. He missed the adrenaline pumping jumps, the daring escapes from the guards, the comforting presence of his ancestors.

Was it bad to want to be with them? Not Shaun, Rebecca, not even his own father. Desmond didn't miss them like he missed his ancestors.

“I wonder when something will happen,” he wondered out loud. The novice looked at him. Desmond just knew that the novice raised an eyebrow.

Desmond was drawn out of his thoughts as a crash echoed the tavern.

The duo jumped up and looked to the side.

There was a group of nine men. All were drunk or at least tipsy.

“Hey fellas, calm down,” Desmond yelled. He started walking toward the ground when a bottle was thrown at him.

Desmond dodged to the side and focused on the largest of the group. The assassin in training stood just behind Desmond.

“Sirs you can’t fight in here!” Desmond’s yell went unheard as the fight truly got started.

Desmond cast a look at the novice, their eyes met before they nodded and joined the fray.

Fists and legs flew through the air and Desmond got the sense of deja vu.

Desmond went left and grabbed someone’s wrist. He felt the instincts from Altair and Ezio wake up and take notice. Pulling the wrist toward him; he rammed his knee into their gut and used the free hand to knock them out.

Looking over to his right, Desmond saw the novice had everything in hand.

By the time the two where done, the group of nine had become a group of three with several sleeping bodies.

“Do not fight in my tavern, okay?” Desmond said a slight tilt to his voice. A tilt that spoke of danger, a tilt that he learned at the knees of Ezio Auditore himself.

The three men ran right out and left their friends on the ground.

“Well that was fast,” Desmond looked to the novice was about to leave. “ Wants your name?” The novice turned back before lifting an eyebrow. “ we fought together I think that earns rights to know your name. My names Desmond.”

There was silence for a bit before a soft, “Kadar. My name is Kadar.” Kadar then slipped into the shadows and disappeared. Leaving a shocked Desmond behind.

Chapter Text

When Kadar met Desmond– he didn’t expect much.

Desmond was originally his mission. The Tavern owner was a foreigner, an unknown, and what Altair would say– a threat.

Kadar was about to become an initiate. He only needed one more mission. The Foreigner was that mission.

He expected many things. He expected a violent meeting, he gave thought to distrust, surprise, and paranoia. What he didn’t expect was the reaction he did get.

When Kadar walked into the tavern he was met with surprise, a welcoming smile and– Kadar thought this one was puzzling– nostalgia.

Nostalgia for what? He didn’t know. The only thing he did know was that Desmond looked like an Assassin and walked with an unusual amount of grace.

Studying Desmond was easy and hard at the same time. In the week he was watching the tavern owner he noticed meaning things. Like Desmond had two poorly made daggers, lived in the poor district, and liked heights.

The mission was only to last for a week but the day Kadar couldn’t truly leave.

That fight wasn’t his first fight nor was it his last. But there was something important about that fight. Maybe it was the fact that Kadar was close to the next level of the Brotherhood, maybe it was because Desmond looked at Kadar like he respected him, or perhaps it was the feeling of fighting with someone who didn’t look at him and see his father or brother. But who actually saw him. Saw Kadar Al-Sayf.

Maybe because of that reason; Kadar gives Desmond his name.

Maybe because of those reasons that had Kadar altering a few things in his report. Things like Desmond knowing how to fight, or the fact he carries two daggers and dresses like a Brotherhood Assassin or the simple fact that Altair and Desmond looked alike.

If those things were left out. Well no one but him knew the truth.

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When Desmond woke up three weeks later; his arm was aching. It was swollen, sore, and heated to the touch. The scars seemed to stretch and strain with every breath.

He slowly stood up and walked with hyper-awareness of the arm. The morning routine was slow— painstakingly slow.

Every movement threatened to bring on pain. It was like a snake coiled to strike. Every flicker of its tongue may mean a bite. Every heartbeat seemed to be prepared for the torment of pain that it knew was coming.

Desmond slowly tied his sash before taking a deep breath and walking out the door.

It was nearly three months since he arrived and Desmond decided that he was content. He was happy with his home, proud of his business, and was quite pleased with the garden. Most of all though, he was just enjoying the ability to make his own choices.

His life in the twenty-first century felt like nothing more than a bad dream. His arm was the only thing that truly spoke of want he went through.

That same arm was aching up a storming and nothing seemed to sooth it.

Water made it ach and spazz.

Mud did nothing more than make it dirty.

Leaving it been made it worse.

Desmond didn't want to leave Masyaf and the city around it.

Yet…

Looking down at the arm he saw the swelling, the black, red, and light pink skin, he saw the undeniable truth he time travel and that the world went to hell in a handbasket.

--

“I’m going to Jerusalem.”

Kadar almost did a spit take. “Pardon?”

“I’m leaving for Jerusalem. I’ll be back in a fortnight,” Desmond continued to clean his glass ignoring the coughing and heaving Assassin.

“Why?”

Desmond wordlessly put his arm on the bar. Kadar’s eyes widened before he gently took Desmond’s arm in his hands.

“What happened?”

The reply was barely above a whisper, “I played with fire and I got burned.”

Chapter Text

Desmond sat on top of an Arabian mare, Nalini. She was dark brown with a black mane and more than he ever imagined.

While he lived on The Farm, it wasn’t truly a farm. It was more like a boot camp. There were no animals other than attack/working dogs.

So Desmond liked to think that he was doing well as a first-time horse rider. Kadar stood to the side holding the reins. He didn’t seem happy with Desmond leaving and showed his displeasure in silence. And truth be told Desmond didn’t want to leave himself.

“Are you sure?” Ah, the Assassin-in-training speaks. Kadar glared at Desmond as though he heard that stray thought.

Desmond let a small smile grace his lips as he thought about the answer.

Are you sure of what? Was he sure of leaving the city and his tavern? Sure about leaving the working girls in charge of the said tavern? Desmond was pretty sure that he will never be truly sure of anything. But he knew he had to leave.

So he gave the only answer he knew, “Yes.”

Kadar gave a sign as he handed the reins over. “You’ll be back in a fortnight?”

Desmond nodded. “Of course,” he took a deep breath before lightly thumping his legs on Nalini’s side to make her go. “See you later.”

As Desmond looked ahead at the path before him; he couldn’t help but feel a pull. Something was calling him, pulling him, toward something.

Desmond felt a shiver go down his spine in anticipation.

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Nalini walked strong and true down the path. She passed travelers and animals: she never wavered.

Desmond was thankful for that.

At first he was unsure of riding a horse but Kadar pushed it and had a convincing argument; now he was riding the horse.

Kadar may or may not hold his win over Desmond’s head. Desmond got back at him though– with not backing down about letting the working girls run the tavern.

He knew the working girls would take care of the tavern. They may not be Claudia and her girls and he may never meet her but… Claudia would never forgive him if he didn’t help them. He would never forgive himself.

Kadar may never understand his reasoning and Desmond was okay with that. As long as he can help them.

Desmond was pulled out of his thoughts when Nalini stopped.

Up ahead there was a group of people. Maybe five or six men stood in the middle of the path and Desmond didn’t dare to think that there weren't others hiding behind rocks and bushes.

He slided off of the mare and quickly hid behind a large rock. He looked around for a way to get around them. While he could fight and fight well for an average man. He was wasn’t even a novice when comparing his skills against those of the Brotherhood.

A novice could take a group of men. Desmond though…

He cast a gaze at the men that seemed to multiply before him.

Desmond could not.

It was night fall when something new happened.

Desmond had settled down; hoping to wait out the group.

The group looked to have set up camp in the middle of the path. From where he was it looked like three to four campfires.

It was when he planning a way to get around the bandits when he felt the pull.

At first it was nothing just a tug on his gut. It was easy to ignore and that's what he did. But soon the tug got stronger and stronger till it almost made him throw up.

He slowly stood up from where he was bent over a bush.

And started to walk.

It was a daze. A daze where you are awake and aware but have no control of your body. Desmond only felt this kind of daze when he came in contact with pieces of Eden.

Mainly from the Apples...

Fear crawled up his throat.

As he walked, Desmond couldn't help but wonder if it was a Apple. Or was it something for? He did die and released Juno on the world. Was Minerva going to kill him for what he did? Did Juno follow him? Was she going to kill him?

When he was younger he always wanted to die a hero. A heroic death. Most people would put it off as a kid not understanding what they wanted but Desmond knew what he wanted.

Death was the only freedom on the Farm. It was everywhere. Death was the only thing Desmond could count on during the days of the farm.

He admitted, in the privacy of his own mind, that he wasn’t scared of death. In all his years of life. The Farm, Abstergo, Minerva, and Juno. The thought of them killing him never brought him fear. He would have welcomed it.

Yet here…

Desmond came to a stop in a clearing. It was surrounded by trees and out of sight of the road.

He regained his bearings and looked around.

Nothing was out of place from the looks of it but the feeling. The feeling of being watched.

He approached the creek that ran down the middle of the clearing. He bent down and that's when he saw it.

In this clearing…

Desmond felt dread.

A piece of metal; a piece of Eden.

He felt the fear of the future. Mainly the future that most likely involved his demise and found he didn’t like the feel of it.

At all.

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He was shaking; and he knew why he shaking.

It easy to figure out.

It was fear. Pure fear.

The piece of Eden. A certain piece of Eden that ruined the life of himself, his ancestors and destroy so many more. That started riots and wars. That the Templars and Assassins were fighting over for years.

The reason he was dragged from his civilian life.

He thought it was still in Solomon’s temple.

But looking at the golden water of the creek. It’s twirling and twisting, the barely visible barrier, shimmering in the light. Desmond knew what he was looking at.

It was the Apple of Eden.

Desmond leaned closer to the Apple.

The world was slow, it seemed to freeze. All that was there was just Desmond and that Apple. He slowly dipped his hand into the creek. The water wasn’t cold or warmer. It was hot. Near buring.

His finger-tips barely touched the Apple when water surged upwards freezing Desmond in his tracks.

Golden tendrils lapped at his     burned arm. The heat was smoothing and calmed his racing mind and heart. Desmond’s brown eyes locked with the Apple and suddenly everything fell away.

Time stopped.

Leaves in the wind froze mid air.

Sounds cut off just as they sounded.

Desmond couldn’t take his eyes off that Apple. He just couldn’t.

“Finally, your here,” An echoing voice said.

Desmond woke up from his daze. His eyes jumped around to and fro looking for the source of the voice only to be drawn back to the piece of Eden.

“Are you done yet? Good. I have something to ask.”

Desmond scrambled backward. “Did you just talk?!”

“I thought we were past this!”

“Clearly we’re not!” Desmond yelled right back. “How are you talking?!”

The water flared and surged. It was angry. Was it reacting to the Piece of Eden that laid inside? The once soft golden light- hardened into something more. “You have seen me take over thousands of minds at once. You know that I have knowledge no man, woman, or child should ever have. You know what I am possible of.” The voice took a disbelieving tone. “And yet you think I can not talk?”

Desmond had to give it to it; it was right. With the life Desmond has lived up till this point, a talking ball of glowing metal is one of the abnormal things that happened but not completely outrages. He focused on metal ball before nodding his head. He would drop the question for the moment. He had more questions that need answering.

Like.

“Want do you want?”

If the Apple had a face Desmond was sure that it would lift an eyebrow. “Rude. Very rude. Didn’t your mother teach you better?”

Desmond felt his eyebrow raise. “My mother was never there and don’t get me started on my Father.”

“...Fair enough.”

“So are going to answer the question. Why are you here?” The Apple of Eden went silent. The golden barrier harden around Desmond.  

Desmond was waiting for the answer.

“I’m here to offer a Alliance. With myself against the my wanna-be-masters.” The Apple had disdain dripping from it’s words when it got to the word “Master.”

“What do you mean?” Desmond asked. He was sure he knew what it meant. He just need to make sure before agreeing.

“Exactly what I said; I hate the first civilization and all that comes with it.” Desmond’s eyes opened wider and wider as the Apple talked. “And I hate two-faced Juno and her lying sister Minerva!”

Desmond cracked opened a smile. They shared a hatred of the First Civilization. Maybe this Alliance had some hope.

“I’m listening,” Desmond leaned forward.

Chapter Text

When Desmond got back from Jerusalem Kadar knew something happened.

It wasn’t like something was off about Desmond; he was smiling, walking, and talking. No, nothing was wrong with Desmond. He acted fine. Any lesser man could tell he was fine.

But that was the thing: Kadar wasn’t a lesser man and Desmond wasn’t a good enough actor.

Kadar hadn’t know Desmond for a year yet but he felt he would know if something was wrong. And something was wrong.

Very Wrong.

------

Kadar sat down on top of the walls of the fortress and looked out over the village. He watched people run around carrying on with their lives. He wondered idly if they were content with their dull, normal lives. Secretly Kadar wondered what it would be like to have one of those dull lives.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Kadar jumped at the suddenness of the question. He turned fast and saw a man he hadn’t seen in nearly a year.

“Malik, your back!” Malik’s brown eyes smiled for Kadar even if his lips did not.

Kadar may be part of the Brotherhood and he may call every member of the Brotherhood his brother. But there’s something special about having your own blood brother. Someone who’s been there from birth.

“Yes I’m back,” Malik sat down with Kadar and dangled his legs over the wall. “Now, what has my baby brother thinking so hard?”

“I’m not a baby!” Kadar yelled.

“You didn’t deny about thinking so hard.”

Kadar signed and looked down on village once again.

“I made a friend outside of the Brotherhood,” Kadar started. “I met him when I was on a mission. He’s the owner of the Tavern. I go there to get away.”

Malik looked over at his brother, “Does he know what you are?”

Kadar nodded his head. “A few drunks got into a fight. The two of us took care of them.” Kadar tried to found Desmond and the tavern down below. “If he doesn’t know what I am then he has an idea.”

“So what’s the problem?”

Kadar signed loud enough to be heard and leaned back to watch the sky. How does one explain the mystery around Desmond? How does one say that they are friends with a man when they do not know him? How does Kadar tell his overprotective brother that his only friend is shrouded in secrets? “He’s been hurt.” Kadar finally settled on.

Malik gave a hum.

“He’s been hurt bad,” Kadar sat up and looked his brother in the eye. “He’s covered in scars-” Kadar saw those when Desmond took off his shirt when he thought no one was looking. “His arm-” Kadar closed his eyes at the remembrance of the deformed tissue. The less said on the arm the better. “His eyes though- they-” Kadar stopped here to think. How to describe Desmond’s broken look? “They look like they knew betrayal first hand.”

Kadar looked down at the people once more before whispering; “They looked like brother Altair’s eyes.”

Malik sat straight up his eyes now fully trained on Kadar.

“Who has my eyes?”

Kadar jumped up and turned fast around.

There standing on the edge of the strong stone wall of Masyaf, was a man Kadar hadn’t seen in as long of a time as Malik.

“Altair, welcome back.”