When he holds the Apple of Eden, he understands infinity. The Calculations are at his beck and call, the technology of the Precursors thrumming beneath his skin and through his bloodstream to the marrow his bones. If Desmond wanted to, he could activate the world-saving features currently laid inert within the Grand Temple and leave the rest be.
But Desmond, despite his lineage, is human enough to be curious as to what else he can do. That in his mind—in his genome, in his genetic memories inherited from Connor, from Ezio, from Altair, from every other assassin who has held a Piece of Eden—he holds decades upon decades of time resisting these artefacts is only one of the reasons why he allows himself to sink into the depths of the Apple.
The Calculations aren’t the be-all and end-all of the Isu’s creations. Strictly speaking, it’s only mathematics. Predicting the future was all logic to the Precursors and with help, Desmond can see all those futures. Some are bleak, while others are strange and beautiful, just like humanity. Though, several of those futures already peak his interest and make his heart metaphorically pound in this moment between moments, because Desmond can see him.
A boy with his face and his eyes, who betrays Juno in every timeline after she has him captured for his bloodline. Desmond’s son. Desmond’s son. Right now, that boy is seven years old and one day, he’ll become a Sage—a child with the memories of an Isu bubbling in his brain, making him cleverer, smarter and wiser. A bit sassier, even. Aita doesn’t stand a chance.
He’s going to have this sort of life, Desmond thinks in sorrow, and he’ll never escape it. Whether the world burns or whether it doesn’t, Elijah will survive through a fate mathematically conjectured from thousands of years past. He always does, according to the Calculations.
Desmond had a shitty childhood and a worse father. William Miles lacked compassion and laid his son on a pedestal, but Desmond didn’t belong there—but Desmond would never be like that with his son, not with Elijah.
So, he searches, using the Calculations to find a life where Elijah will be safe and cared for—and he goes far into the future, so very, very far, past the destruction of the world and the universe until it begins again. Isu DNA survives to infect humanity, but it is never the same again. Desmond pushes onwards, sliding past history that looks the same at a glance and only sparkles gold on the brightest of years, to find himself in two thousand and five, the year Elijah is reborn.
Desmond doesn’t exist.
But he does, the Calculations twist and writhe, time beginning to press onwards. Desmond doesn’t have much time to think, so he does what he can—takes a chance, bundling up the impression of his son from the Piece of Eden he steals into the Australian desert with after escaping a laboratory and throwing them both into the depths of the Grand Temple. They won’t be the same, but the Apple takes the Probabilities and Desmond knows that they will survive long enough for him to deliver his son to this new world without the taint of Precursors.
For a moment, the Apple seems to laugh at him, telling him to look closer, but there’s no time left.
Desmond saves the world and curls around his son to sleep, till it is reborn again.
As if an alarm clock is ringing in his ear, Desmond wakes. He blinks in the darkness, panicking as he realises everything around him is solid, made of dirt and rocks and worms. But he can still breathe.
Is he breathing?
Desmond is made of golden light, a ghost—but unlike Minerva and Juno, Desmond can move on his own. He is not a recording. In his arms, a newborn Elijah is forming one vein at a time and for a little while, all Desmond can do is watch. Unlike his father, Elijah isn’t wholly gold, instead tinged blue from the Koh-I-Noor’s power. Which makes sense, as the Koh-I-Noor had different functions to the Apple, capable of creating hard-light holograms and connecting to every Piece of Eden in existence. It was how Desmond was able to reach out in the first place, using the connection that hadn’t existed yet to draw what made his son his son into the heart of the Apple and the Grand Temple for safe keeping.
Maybe it was selfish, but Desmond has never denied himself much. He ran away from the Farm for himself, he became a bartender at Bad Weather because he liked mixing drinks—and if he can have his son, billions of years after he lived his original life, then Desmond will bloody well have his son.
For as long as he can, anyway.
Knowing that he is where the Grand Temple used to reside, evolved past the need to be kept in stasis, Desmond starts walking up, pretending there are stairs beneath his feet as he cradles baby Elijah in his arms. The Apple foresaw that his son would not remember his life, but it had made a copy of him, recreating the very DNA that so doomed him to remember Aita’s life as an Isu. Desmond will have to watch out for that, later in life.
Fuck, I’m a dad, he thinks with a startled laugh. It wasn’t ever something he had actually conceived as possible, ready to live his life underground, out of sight of Assassins and Templars until he was old and grey. A single man in New York…
When he reaches the surface, Desmond isn’t surprised by how he practically disappears. Right now, he’s made of light, particles held together by pure will and some Isu engineering made to the blueprint of his being over the course of centuries. No-one can see him or Elijah.
Washington, he reminds himself. That is where he has to take Elijah, so his forming body can get that hit of physical DNA that is not quite Desmond, but close enough. The Apple calculated that a man in the general area was the universe’s attempt to recreate him, a veritable landmark in the passage of time. Considering how unique Earth’s history is and just how goddamn similar this world’s is supposed to be in comparison, Desmond isn’t even shocked at the idea.
That being said, it takes him a while to walk to the national park where the Apple calculated him to be, playing baseball during a thunderstorm. Desmond trusts the maths, at the very least, enough to take the several weeks-long trip to the west coast on foot. By then, the spectral Elijah has grown, decreasing his chances of taking corporeal form by tenths of a percentage. Desmond himself just hopes his own chances of gaining a body aren’t screwed—he’d been focusing on making Elijah real, after all. Not himself.
‘Who even plays baseball during a thunderstorm?’ he muses, running a hand over his head, still short as ever despite the lack of haircuts. Desmond looks down at Elijah on his hip, making faces at the naked baby. ‘Who plays baseball in a thunderstorm, El? Who does that, huh?’
Tickling him, Elijah giggles, the noise echoing through the forest. For a ghost baby, he’s loud—which, to Desmond’s continual amusement, freaks out even the most stoic of humans they’ve passed in their travels. People can hear them, even if they can’t see them.
However, several moments later, a ball flies through his head, dropping to the ground as it passes through him like sludge. Desmond flinches, looking back at it for a second—he swears, a second—only to look up and find himself staring into golden eyes.
‘…what are you?’ A teenage boy in a baseball uniform with dark ginger hair and a case of albinism looks between Desmond and Elijah with fear plastered across his face. ‘Am I hallucinating?’
‘Edward!’ Someone shouts from far off. ‘The ball couldn’t have gone that far!’
Desmond, taking pity on the kid, points at the pitch. ‘Maybe we should join your friends.’ Elijah makes mouth noises at the stranger, causing him to cringe back. ‘Okay,’ Desmond murmurs, taking initiative, stepping out of the way so he can get his ball without freaking out. ‘Get the baseball,’ he instructs, figuring that the Eagle Vision must have been a trait to survive the end of the world, if nothing else.
Bewildered, the golden-eyed teen—Edward—slowly picks up his ball, walking beside him at a distance of about three metres. It might have been farther, if the trees weren’t so dense. Desmond pushes down his own nerves to put on a calm façade—which immediately breaks into an incredulous expression as another golden-eyed teen shows up, her feet sliding in the dirt as she comes to a stop in front of them.
Elijah bursts a large spit-bubble.
‘What are you?’ She questions loudly, unknowingly mimicking Edward’s first question. Blonde hair falls in front of her face which she cautiously tucks behind her ears, looking at Desmond in confusion. ‘Why do you look like Emmett?’
Desmond perks up. ‘Emmett?’ This might be the guy he’s looking for.
Elijah babbles, ‘Em-buh!’
‘Rosalie,’ Edward mutters, ‘I can’t hear him.’
‘I’m making plenty of noise,’ says Desmond, hitching Elijah up higher on his hip. ‘Lead the way—please. I’m not looking for trouble. I’m actually looking for help.’
‘Help,’ the girl—Rosalie—repeats with a certain note of derision to her voice.
Not taking offence, Desmond nods. ‘Yeah. If this guy Emmett looks like me, then he’ll be the one I need to see.’
‘Why would Emmett be the one to-’ Edward starts, only to stiffen abruptly. It’s then that things get weird, his eyes turning black as he bares his teeth at Desmond, his whole posture shifting into something animalistic. ‘What are you going to do to him? Alice can’t see his future anymore!’
‘What the shit?’ Desmond takes an unnecessary step backwards, knowing they can’t harm him. A growling noise from Rosalie changes his whole approach. His hands itch to grab a weapon that doesn’t exist.
He looks towards where the two weird kids appeared from.
‘Don’t!’ Edward shouts, but Desmond is already jogging that way, grimacing at the odd feeling of his atoms being pushed apart as the two attempt to attack him. They quickly seem to realise he’s not going to be stopped and rush back the way they came, presumably to warn their friend.
Desmond glances at Elijah. ‘I knew they’d freak, but not like this, if you know what I mean. Guess the Apple can’t Calculate everything…’
Picking up speed, Desmond soon makes his way into a large grassy clearing, where something—a meteor shower, maybe?—has liberally pummelled holes into the dirt. At the other end of the clearing, a group of people are huddled up, all wearing a white and blue striped baseball uniform. As soon as Desmond approaches, the players fan out in a definitively defensive formation around two people—a dark-skinned man who looks like Desmond, if Desmond was on steroids and let his hair grow out, oh wait, and a short girl in a raincoat.
‘Hail, stranger,’ says the blonde man at the front of the arrow-head, smiling in an overly-friendly manner. To Desmond, he looks about his age or younger, with golden eyes and gleaming teeth, all themes among the baseball players. ‘What brings you to our territory?’
Territory? Desmond once again re-evaluates. He watches his double, Emmett, hold hands with the girl, Rosalie, while Edward on the blonde man’s other side does likewise with the girl in the raincoat. The last three baseball players are quiet, a black girl with wild pixie curls staring at him in confusion as another pale blonde guy—this one taller than the first, standing in front of the black girl with a real status to him. Desmond’s sure if he flipped on the Eagle Vision, he’d show up bright red.
Just to make sure, Desmond checks.
Immediately, Desmond is blown away by the amount of gold shining from them all, interspersed with blue. Raincoat girl, pixie, Emmett and even Rosalie are all gold and fiery as the sun, Desmond barely able to make out their features at all behind the shine. Edward and the others are all the kind of blue that says they’ll be friends, if not outright allies.
‘The Apple couldn’t have been more informative,’ he mutters to himself, not expecting the group to cock their heads like they heard his every word. Desmond frowns, then says to the leading man, ‘I’ll be straight with you: I have no idea who you are or what you mean by territory. I’d have thought you’d be more the scream and run type, to be honest.’
That doesn’t even cover how they can actually see him, either, but Desmond isn’t about to show all his cards.
‘The supernatural isn’t unfamiliar to us,’ the man replies, before putting a hand to his chest. ‘I am Carlisle Cullen. I am a vampire who feeds on the blood of animals. These are my coven members.’
‘…vampires?’ Desmond repeats, just to clarify.
‘Vampires,’ Carlisle confirms. Desmond runs a hand through his hair, easily juggling Elijah as his son attempts to sway out without meaning to. He can barely hold his own head up, yet.
‘Okay,’ he says breezily, putting the matter of actual, real-life vampires aside. They eat animals, anyway. ‘Vegetarian vampires is a new one, I’ll admit, but I can hardly speak. I’m Desmond—Desmond Miles. This is my son, Elijah.’ He gestures to the baby, who coos adorably. Desmond can see the auburn-haired woman, who looks to be the eldest of them all, scrunching up her nose in delight.
‘What brings you to Forks, Desmond?’ asks Carlisle.
‘Forks? That’s what this is called?’ The Assassins snorts, joking, ‘What’s the neighbouring town called? Spoons?’
His double laughs, only to be cut off by a rather violent elbow-jab from Rosalie, who looks to be vibrating with anger.
Giving a chuckle of his own, Carlisle shakes his head. ‘Port Angeles, I’m afraid. However, you didn’t answer my question and one of my group can see the future. That my son, Emmett, has disappeared from that future does not bode well.’
‘No idea, sorry,’ Desmond says with a shrug. ‘I’m not about to kill him, if that’s what you’re wondering about.’
‘Then what?’ Rosalie snaps. ‘What do you want with him?’
‘Short story—I’m him from the previous universe. Or a version of him,’ he describes, clearly shocking them all. ‘When I was dying, I used the same device that killed me to copy myself, to put it in a way you’ll get. Elijah came along for the ride because I didn’t want to lose him.’ Unconsciously, his grip tightens and Elijah complains, gaining a chagrined blush from his father. He whispers, ‘Sorry about that, buddy.’
‘You’ve still not explained,’ says the pixie girl, who Desmond suspects might be ‘Alice’, the seer.
‘Uh, right. Well,’ Desmond pauses, ‘I need his DNA. To bring us back to life. Just a touch should do it, then I’m free to run around. So will Elijah. Might just be Elijah, actually,’ he swallows the lump in his throat, giving a strained smile, ‘Didn’t look at my own future, just my son’s. Had to know if he’ll be alright.’
‘Man, what happens to you?’ Emmett queries in concern. ‘How does this even work?’
‘Jumpstart, basically. The building blocks are in place, just need a spark of life from a close biological match.’
‘So…all I need to do is touch you.’
‘Emmett!’ Rosalie hisses, ‘No! Alice says you disappear-’
‘Could be confusion,’ chimes in Desmond, giving his own piece of advice. ‘What I know of clairvoyance is that it’s all logic. Your Alice might be getting split between two futures because her power recognises us as the same people.’
‘I’m not risking him!’ says Rosalie, only for Carlisle to reach out a hand soothingly.
‘Desmond doesn’t mean any harm. I’m afraid it may not work, in any case,’ he says, before looking to Desmond, informing him, ‘The change from vampire to human is not well-studied, but our DNA is different under a microscope.’
‘Uh,’ Desmond thinks of the Apple, which ensured him it would work. His double was even holding onto Elijah, in the end. ‘It’ll work. I’ve seen your kid get spit up on.’
‘I get to hold the kid?’ Emmett says, sounding half terrified, half absolutely thrilled. He jumps up and down in excitement, whining to Rosalie, ‘C’mon, Rosie! It’ll be like getting a nephew—you’d be an auntie! Come on…’
Desmond raises a startled eyebrow. He’d never thought of it like that, though, the Cullen family are the only ones who might just help him get set up in this new universe.
Seemingly deliberating, Rosalie’s face goes blank and Desmond can’t help but compare her to Lucy. Pretty and smart. Also very protective of what she considers her—though Desmond doubts that Rosalie will betray her family.
Hesitantly, the raincoat girl asks, ‘Can you even be touched? I mean, you look like a ghost.’
‘I’m made of atoms. Technically, I’m a physical object,’ Desmond muses, ‘But without what’s keeping me together learning how to actually implement my blueprint, I’m stuck like this. So, yeah? But no. People and things pass through me. Might be just Emmett who’d be able to, the same with someone related to Elijah’s mother.’
‘Is she not around?’
‘Not in this universe,’ says Desmond, before Rosalie finally nods decisively.
Emmett grins, then politely slides between Carlisle and the older woman, saying, ‘Excuse me, Mom. Dad.’
Carlisle shuffles out of the way, so Emmett stands at the head of the arrow-head, but even as he moves, everyone starts to circle around them somewhat. Desmond feels strangely enclosed, something he’s not felt since he was in Vidic’s lab.
‘Should I get ready to catch Elijah, then?’ Emmet asks him. ‘If you drop him, I mean.’
Desmond shudders at the idea, then shakes his head, crouching down near the grass. ‘Let’s try it while he’s not actually in contact with me. I don’t want anything strange to happen unexpectedly.’
‘Okay,’ says Emmett, joining him near the ground. He watches avidly as Desmond lays his son on the ground, hands sinking into the grass to stop him from just falling. ‘What’s with…’
‘He can’t feel gravity yet,’ Desmond replies in amusement, lifting Elijah a touch above the actual grass itself, straining his arms gently. ‘I’ll pull back when you touch him. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t fall through the dirt and suffocate.’
The pure distress radiating from Emmett then makes Desmond feel apologetic for his graveyard humour, but the teenage vampire holds out his hand to carefully take Elijah’s wrist. Desmond lets go when Emmett makes contact, Elijah not falling through the ground as he begins to glow, golden-blue light giving way to dark flesh. It makes Desmond smile, to see his son in full-colour, Emmett’s finger slipping up so Elijah can wrap his tiny hand around it, the baby startling abruptly, small eyes going wide.
Edward says in a hush, ‘He’s feeling the grass for the first time. Cold, warmth…all of it.’ He sounds awed.
‘Anyone able to give up a shirt?’ Desmond asks, however, hearing the world cold and quickly recalling that they’re in the freezing north. Emmett shucks his baseball jacket immediately, wearing a white shirt underneath. Desmond leans back on his haunches as his double wraps the jacket around Elijah, protecting him from the elements.
‘It’s a baby!’ Emmett grins, looking to Desmond. ‘Your turn.’
Eyeing the look on Rosalie’s face at seeing his son in the flesh, Desmond says, ‘Pass Elijah round. You can get cuddles later.’
Emmett pouts, but hands over the baby to…his sister? Girlfriend? Desmond is getting a girlfriend vibe, though he won’t rule on it, yet. Rosalie, for all her earlier anger and defensiveness, looks hopelessly in love with Elijah’s little face. Desmond smirks in pride.
Atta boy, he thinks, before reaching out an open hand to Emmett. Without hesitating, the beefy version of himself slaps their hands together and then all Desmond knows is gold.
Desmond Miles disappears.
‘Where did he go?’ Bella asks, Emmett staring at the empty space in front of him. His hand clenches around vacant air and he stands slowly, unsure of himself. ‘Maybe…it didn’t work?’
‘He might have fallen,’ says Jasper in concern, as if Desmond might have reformed while dropping through a hundred tonnes of dirt. He could just climb out like last time, Emmett thinks, before freezing, wondering how he knows that.
Edward jerks. ‘Emmett?’
‘Uh,’ Emmett looks to Rosalie and baby Elijah, only to remember the night he was conceived, kissing a girl with green eyes and a vodka straight in her hand. Emmett stumbles backwards, knocking into Alice as he starts remembering more, the night he ran from the Farm spinning through his mind like a boomerang, along with Lucy’s betrayal, with the discovery of the Grand Temple, with Minerva and Ezio and Juno and Haytham.
Clutching his head, Emmett turns on the Eagle Vision and sees Rosalie wreathed in light, shining like a miniature sun, until he turns it off and drops to the ground, realising what has happened.
Rosalie passes Elijah off to Esme. That’s okay, Emmett thinks wildly, his instincts swinging towards the positive just because Esme is his mother. He loves her. Trusts her. Esme would never hurt his son.
‘He’s not your son, Emmett,’ says Edward, insistent, but that’s not true anymore, is it? Because clearly, in the absence of a physical body and the addition of the Koh-I-Noor, Elijah was able to be reformed with just DNA. Desmond, however? No, there was no option for him and he didn’t look, like an idiot. If he’d only had more time, he’d have seen there was no option but this.
‘I beg to differ, Eddy!’ Emmett gasps out. Rosalie turns terrified and that breaks his heart more than anything. ‘God, that man has so many lives stuck in his head. I think I’m older than Carlisle!’
‘Emmett,’ Rosalie whispers, brushing her hand across his temple. ‘What happened? What are you saying?’
‘It’s not possession,’ says Emmett immediately, very, very sure of that. ‘He’s just kind of merged with my brain, now.’
Her expression turns tight. ‘You’re not Emmett.’
‘I am Emmett,’ he says in a hush, looking in her eyes and promising, ‘I’m me, sweetheart. I just also have the memories of a very tired lab-rat. He wasn’t kidding about coming from another universe. I think he just unwittingly solved the mystery about why we exist, before it even happened.’
‘You-’ her eyes dart to Elijah ‘-you called him your son.’
‘He is,’ says Emmett, unable to deny it. The hurt on her face is so great he can hardly bear it and he reaches for her, bundling her into his arms. Rosalie doesn’t resist, latching onto his white shirt—reminding him that he’s not wearing his jacket, that they need to get Elijah supplies—and refusing to let go.
‘…I can see you again,’ Alice whispers, stuck in a vision. ‘Both of you. With Elijah Hale.’
‘Holy cow,’ mutters Jasper. ‘That’s something. Want to explain why he doesn’t smell like prey?’
Emmett takes in a breath. His throat burns from Bella, but it’s muted from his hunt last night and then he takes in a deeper breath, something deep inside of him recognising Elijah as kin. He stands, bringing Rosalie with him, noticing how the smell of his son doesn’t ignite fire in his throat, but rather settles a primal ache in his stomach.
‘Does this happen a lot? Weird, supernatural shit?’ He hears Bella whisper to Edward, which causes him to guwaff and look her straight in the eye.
‘Bells-y, I promise, this is a one-time thing.’ He resists the urge to ask Carlisle what to do, just like he always would have—but the part of him that is Desmond knows this isn’t going to end quite yet. They have to make Elijah an identity, get his papers and his birth certificate…
And if Rosalie and Emmett hadn’t been seniors, that would be so much easier. Then, they could just pretend he was theirs.
‘You still could,’ says Edward, hearing his theories and his thoughts. He sounds wary, but hopeful at the same time. Emmett wonders if his brain works differently, now. ‘Rosalie never did sports, anyway.’
It takes a moment to compute. ‘Hold up, you think they’d believe that kind of crap?’ Emmett stares at his little brother. ‘You’re insane, Ed.’
‘Rosalie Hale,’ he reminds Emmett, sounding smug, now. Emmett imagines, quite vividly, tearing his head off and then dangling it from a very high place that vampires couldn’t reach without tearing down a building. Parkour in Renaissance Italy has to count for something, right?
Edward doesn’t flinch, the bastard.
Rosalie, however, keys into the conversation immediately. ‘You want to pretend I was pregnant with a month-old baby?’
‘Two weeks and three days,’ Emmett corrects her, before, amazingly, taking Edward’s side. ‘You wore loads of winter clothes recently. Puffy jackets.’ His wife slaps his arm hard enough it cracks, but there’s a look to her eyes that Emmett recognises as want.
They’ve talked about it before, of course. How she wanted children of her own. It just so happens, in this situation, that it’s Emmett’s that she can claim. He has no doubt she’ll agree eventually, but in the end, it’s not up to them, but Carlisle.
‘Carlisle,’ says Edward, pleading. Ah, such a daddy’s boy. Carlisle already looks pensive.
Esme is likewise on their side, though. ‘We could pretend he stayed home with me,’ she says, eager to become a grandma in this life of theirs.
‘And I can file some things, backdated,’ murmurs their father, which isn’t something Emmett thought he would do. ‘We’d have to choose a different hospital. Pretend you kept it from me...’
Emmett practically glows. He attacks his father with a hug, sending them both to the ground, getting laughter from Bella and a happy sigh from Alice. Carlisle kisses Emmett on the forehead as he wraps his arms around him and Emmett answers one of Desmond’s last questions for his old self.
The holes weren’t caused by meteorites. They were caused by vampires.