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The Truth Is In The Gallows

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The man moved through the dark shadows of the city like he was born to them. His task done, he pressed the end call button and lowered his phone, staring at the screen before slipping it into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.

The wind rustled a few pieces of trash- the kind that only seemed to populate the streets of a city, generated by an overabundance of people with an under abundance of care. The chill drove him to pull the jacket’s grey cloth hood over his distinctive hair. There, now he looked casual enough to blend in with the crowd at Central Park. Too bad he wasn’t staying.

His destination weighed in his mind.

A club, he hated clubs. People always tried to hit on him in clubs. Reaching the outer limits of the park, he returned to starting point and unlocked the chain holding his borrowed motorbike hostage.

Missions like these were his least favourite, but the rides were always nice. He couldn’t name the make or model of the bike, but it was powerful.

Still, why couldn’t they have sent someone who actually liked going to clubs? The noise, all the flashing lights, those places were practically designed to create headaches and he wanted no part of them. Give him a book over a bouncer any day.

New York flashed by in his peripheral vision. Motorcycles were the only way to travel here. All those poor schmucks in taxis looked on enviously from the gridlock of traffic. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he would love to take their boring minutiae over this upcoming mission any day.

But if he didn’t kill child traffickers, who would?

He pulled up to a stop, walking his bike around the building to the alleyway out back. He didn’t bother chaining it this time. If it was gone when he got back it was gone- he’d rather have the option of a quick escape than the guarantee of a slow one.

Inside the club was smokey and dark. Populated by a bartender and a people desperate to start the party early. Shaun had timed this carefully so that the bar would be busy enough for him to pass unnoticed, but not so busy as to impede his mission.

The bartender gave him a half wave. His dark skin catching on the colored lights. He had a scar over his lip and almond shaped brown eyes. Shaun couldn't pin him down with any ethnicity, which was interesting. He was usually good at picking up people's pasts. Came with the territory of being a historian.

Or maybe it was the Assassin thing, there was always such an emphasis placed on legacy.

He paused, before diverting his course. This was stupid, so stupid, but he wanted to know more about this man. He looked... familiar somehow.

"What can I get you?"

'Your number' almost spilled out of his mouth, but Shaun cut it off with a smile. "Whisky, neat."

"Coming right up."

Shaun turned away to keep from staring, and let his eyes scan the rest of the club. There were still dancers on the floor; most of them lacking in basic coordination but making up for it in enthusiasm.

He remembered being like that, before he dug himself into this hole.

God, he was maudlin today, and he hadn't even had a drop to drink yet.

Speaking of, Shaun glanced at the man. He was smiling as he picked between bottles, picking out a whisky that Shaun knew was too good for what he'd ordered.

"You look like a thinker," the bartender said, passing him his glass.

"Not so much," Shaun forced a casual laugh. "Just wondering why you look familiar."

"If you say, 'I've seen you in my dreams', I reserve the right to laugh at you for your bad taste in pickup lines."

Shaun shook his head, "No, I'm serious."

The bartender shrugged, "I think I would have remembered running into you and your accent," Shaun snorted lightly at that, "I've got one of those ambiguous faces. The name’s Desmond."

"Well, hello."

"This is the part where you tell me your name."

"Is it?" Shaun challenged.

"Typically."

"I'm not very typical."

"I'm figuring that out."

Shaun took the whiskey down all in one go. It was a very generous pour. One that he was thankful for, otherwise he probably wouldn't be able to tear himself away from a gorgeous flirting man to and go assassinate someone.

When he thinks about it like that, it sounds ridiculous.

He took a twenty out of his wallet and scribbled one of his burner phone's numbers onto it, before sliding it across the bar.

"Shaun."

He turned on his heel and ambled away from the bar where Desmond was called away by another patron demanding another drink. Out of sight, Shaun took an... unconventional route to the VIP lounge to check for his target. Peeking over the balcony from the stage scaffolding, he made sure his target- the owner of the nightclub- was nowhere to be seen brown-nosing with the haughtiest clubbers this side of Midtown New York.

Checking his watch, Shaun made sure that his blade was primed and functioning, flicking it out for a second to check the edge. He liked to keep his kills clean and silent.

His mind flashed back to Brazil, which had been neither of those things, and frowned.

The next part he did feel bad about, honesty.

Pulling the corn snake out of his pocket, he let it slither across the banister into the VIP section, heading right for a trio of giggling women.

Sprinting silently across the stage scaffolding, Shaun swung down, and froze as the screaming started, a set of guards running into the main floor from a recessed hallway that led to the bosses office.

Hm, maybe he should have left Desmond a 50 for killing his boss.

He made his way around the corner, taking out the one remaining guard with a headlock before he could recall the men he imagined were currently consoling a set of scantily clad ladies.

Taking his sunglasses out of his pocket, Shaun flicked them onto his face.

Kicking the guard out of the doorway’s line of sight, Shaun walked right up and threw it open.

"Tommy! I've been told you do good business." Shaun let the fake Texan accent roll of his tongue like cough syrup. It tasted foul in his mouth, along with the words. "So you got any white gold? The market's been flooded with trash lately."

The man recovered from his deer in headlights look immediately, reaching for something under his desk. Shaun let the muscles under his jacket tense to spring the last few feet. But the man pulled out a crystal decanter and two glasses.

"I don't do business without pleasure," the man answered, pouring a glass.

Shaun made a show of taking a fake drink until the man raised a glass to his own lips and drank.

He ambled over to the bookcase behind the man.

"Ho-ly shit, is this a genuine Babe Ruth ball?" Shaun asked, dragging the word genuine out into three syllables.

He set the glass down on the shelf.

A note of pride in his voice as the man turned, "Actually-"

Shaun twisted like a viper, sticking his hidden blade in the back of the trafficker’s neck.

Mockingly, Shaun drawled his requiescat in pace in that same fake accent, taking his shades off and shoving them onto the man's nose.

He wiped the blood off his hidden blade before he sheathed it, the warm metal coming to rest against his arm. He felt like he could finally breathe again now that the goal wasn’t hanging over his head anymore.

Going back to the bookcase, he grabbed the ball from under it's glass case, tossing it up and down before storing it in his pocket.

He walked back to the bar after checking himself for blood, only to see Desmond standing there with the snake in his hands.

“Is that a snake in your hands or are you just happy to see me?” Shaun blurted out.

Desmond just looked at him, and then laughed.

Shaun shook his head, leaning forward against the bar. “When do you get off?”

Desmond grabbed a bottle from behind the bar and poured something, rolling his eyes. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that. I’m only working the first shift so I get off at 10pm.”

“I can wait thirty minutes.”

And he did, only taking one more drink. He took his time sipping it, keeping an ear out any minute for the body to be discovered- and then it wasn’t. Shaun knew that the club owner had suspected ties to Abstergo, but he wasn’t sure if the cover up would be this fast. That the employees themselves wouldn’t know.

The bartender saluted his relief, giving a cocky little wave as he gathered his own jacket- a white hoodie with red piping, could he pick a more ostentatious colour?

He raised an eyebrow at Shaun’s stares.

“What do you normally do when you get off shift?”

“Honestly? Go home and crash with Netflix, but I could go for something to eat right now. Reheated Chinese leftovers don’t sound so appealing right now.”

They took a back entrance out of the club, Shaun following Desmond.

It was only years of training allowed Shaun to duck out of the way of the blow, knocking into Desmond to push him out of the way of a shot. It could have been a real bullet or a tranquilizer, there was no way to tell.

He parried a follow up blow with his hidden blade, using the flat of it to strike the attacker in the throat.

“Fuck, there isn’t supposed to be an Assassin here. I thought you said he was raised by his uncle?” A man was shouting.

Shaun’s head whipped around, he knew that voice from surveillance briefings.

Warren Vidic.

Head of Abestergo’s Animus project, at least according to their source on the inside. Shit, this wasn’t good.

There were five of them, and one of him, and he was now protecting an asset- because he wasn’t raised by his uncle.

They were after Desmond.

But why?

“Holy shit- what the fucking-”

“No time.” Shaun grit out.

He didn’t wait for the templars to make their move. He struck. Killing one and taking the other out with a kick to his jaw as he slammed the other attacker into the floor. Grabbing the ball from his pocket, he flicked it onto the floor right in front of another advancing templar, sending him wheeling back in a way that bordered on cartoonish, taking down the man behind him as well.

Grabbing the gun from man he’d… incapacitated, Shaun leveled it on Vidic.

“Leave, find another test subject.”

Warren looked at the gun, looked at his men on the floor, half of them dead the other half knocked out- and sighed. It stretched out into the air. The man sounded very put upon by this turn of events, like he hadn’t had a hand in creating them.

“Why would you pass up the chance to shoot me?” Vidic asked, tilting his head. His smile was smug. Shaun wanted nothing more than to wipe it off his face.

“I’m not sure what kind of bullets these are, and like you said, I’m an Assassin. I’d hate to just send you down for a nap.”

The man had the gall to laugh.

Shaun edged backward, his free hand grabbing Desmond’s arm, mindful of the blood that stained the edge of Desmond’s hoodie.

“Come on, we have to go.”

Desmond didn’t respond, and Shaun pulled him by the arm to where he’d parked his motorcycle. There were faster routes to get out of here, but he didn’t think Desmond was up for a little bit of parkour in his state of shock.

“Get on.”

The bartender blinked, as if just realizing the situation he was in.

“I don’t know if I trust you.”

“Good, that might keep you alive- but do you want to trust them?” Shaun nodded back to the alley and pressed his helmet into Desmond’s hands. The bike purred to life after he threw his leg over, kicking the starter and gripping the handlebars.

“Right, well, just so you know. I’m counting this as a date, because it definitely is the ‘weirdest first date’ story I think anyone’s ever going to have and I plan to take full advantage of that.” Desmond said, settling onto the bike behind him.

Shaun’s answering laugh was lost to the roar of the motorcycle and the wind.