Desmond Miles was lost. Lost in this sea of crowds and noises, he was drowning in it, but it was a rather enjoyable experience. This chaos around him meant he was free. No more tough trainings from his tyrant of a dad, no more stupid stories about Assassins and Templars and no more tensed silence from the Farm. All of which the 16-years-old had enough of. Still he should be thankful of the torture he had went through in those daily trainings, it had helped him during his escape from that wretched place and no one noticed his disappearance until he was long gone. While his freedom was difficult to achieve, he still had slightly bigger problem... he had no money of whatsoever...
Desmond sighed heavily as he leaned his head back against the bench he had spent time with for almost two hours before his brown eyes went back to study the multiple cameras that were placed strategically to catch almost every spot within the large public green area and most of them could clearly see the water fountain that decorated the center of the park. This wasn’t the only place that was covered with cameras, almost every district he passed by had some in every corner. The large amount of video surveillance in this city gave off this paranoid and oppressive impression. He did not believe he would say that, but he had to, Chicago was more paranoid than the Farm. It was also those video cameras that had been making his life miserable since he set foot in the city of crimes, seeing that he could barely reach for someone’s wallet without spotting one of those annoying devices within the vicinity. The thought of those securities made the young man sighed tiredly once more as he muttered to himself, ‘I used to be so good at this.’
By this, he meant scouting and pickpocketing, those were the only two skills he was ever given praise from, albeit in a very brief and shrug off way if one listened to the person’s voice closely. The fighting and hacking were not his fortes and that made his father even more strict and hard on him. In this city, his skills were extremely tested. How or where the hell can I go without another camera following my every move? Those things would record me stealing stuffs if I’m not careful!
The man finished his thought morosely as he rubbed his hands over his face, he felt like shit and he was pretty sure he looked like shit too. Desmond looked down at his slightly dirty white hoodie, beneath it was his favourite black shirt with a grey-coloured eagle, and beside him was his black sport shoulder bag that contained some money he managed to pick from his dad’s safe before he ran away, some fresh clothes that he favoured and some foods that would help survive three more days or a week if he was being careful. If he did not get any more money at this rate, he would end up starving on the streets.
A loud cry suddenly sounded in the peaceful silence, causing the young man to jump up from his seat, senses on high alert before his eyes caught sight of a white object flew over his head and lightly landed on the water of the fountain, making him blink owlishly at the small white hat before he was drawn to a blonde-haired pregnant woman who ran towards the edge of the ornamental structure with a distressed face. The woman who looked around his age, her yellow hair shone like shiny gold and wore a simple white dress, stretching her hand towards the hat that remained out of her reach. A young brunet came beside her and held her back from the fountain, whispering something to each other, but whatever was said clearly made the woman upset judging by the frown that covered her entire face.
Desmond looked between the object and the woman for a minute before he went and took off his black-and-white sneakers and dirty white socks. Carefully, he stepped into the cold water of the decoration, ignoring the odd stares on his person and went to pick up the hat, shaking it slightly to get rid of the dripping water before he made his way to the couple.
With a tiny smile, Desmond extended his hand that held out the straw hat to the woman with a small smile before he gently asked, ‘Is this yours ma’am?’
‘Yes,’ the lady replied with a thankful nod as she took the wet hat and flashed a triumphant look at the man beside her. ‘See Francis? If you can act like a gentleman like this young man here, I won’t have to move so much.’
The comment brought a frown to the brown-haired man who glared at Desmond in an almost murderous manner. Miles let out a nervous cough as he stepped out of the fountain, cringing slightly at the feel of the hot burning concrete, and hurried to retrieve his socks and shoes. He was about to say his farewells and take his leave when his stomach decided it should say something and it did so rather loudly. The sound made his face grew as red as a tomato as he buried his head in his hands to hide his embarrassment. I just haven’t eaten for five hours! Give me a break you stupid stomach!
The woman laughed lightly at the growl of his stomach as she gently placed her hand on his shoulder and announced, ‘Seeing that you just save my favourite hat from being drown, I think that deserves a small late lunch and early supper on my part. How about the Seaside Restaurant?’
‘No, it’s okay,’ Desmond stuttered loudly as he shook his hands and head in emphasis of his refusal. He had seen the Seaside Restaurant in a distance when he had first came into Chicago, it was an extremely fancy restaurant and half of the guests wore business suits or fancy dresses, there was only one guy who wore jeans and t-shirt and everyone kept sending judging glances at him. He had no interest of being that guy, especially the fact that the appearance he had right now screamed out the fact that he was a homeless.
‘Please?’ the woman pleaded with a kicked-puppy pout.
The look made Desmond munched the inside of his lips in hesitation, because his training never involved how to resist someone’s cute puppy pout and he was never skilled with words to begin with. Thank you, whatever bastard or bitch who sat upstairs and give me this fucked up verbal logorrhea.
‘Alright,’ he reluctantly muttered under his breath with a defeated look and his fingers tugged and pulled whatever the object he was holding, grimacing slightly at the gleeful giggle the lady made while ignoring the intense and unnerving glare from the husband. What the fuck is wrong with this guy?
‘It’s just a few blocks away, we’ll be there before you realize it,’ the pregnant woman announced happily before she tugged at her husband’s arm to get him to move.
‘Honey,’ Francis started in strained voice while Desmond tugged on his shoes, ignoring the wet feeling his soaking feet felt in them, and followed the couple as he slung his bag over his shoulder. ‘I think I should get the car, it’s not good for you to walk all the way to Seaside and just come back here later for the car.’
‘I need the exercise, Francis,’ the blonde said with a smile as she lightly traced her hand over her stomach. ‘Our baby needs it.’
‘I know,’ the brunet said tiredly with an irritated sigh.
Miles felt awkward hearing this lover spat between them and he immediately disliked this feeling of being the third wheel within this sensitive topic. The brunet tuned out the conversation in favour of studying his surroundings, because he still needed a place to sleep in after all.
Desmond thought with a shake of his head. Focus on getting food now, there’s still some time before night comes. I have time to look for shelter.
When they arrived to the restaurant, the brunet stared at the guests with an uneasy smile as he entered after the couple, following the woman more closely as they were led to their table. Their waiter left them with the menus before he went to get some refreshments, Desmond was glad to have something to hide his face from when the waiter told the man he had a very shy brother, which was him. The husband did not look Hispanic as many people thought Desmond was originated from because of his tan skin and his thick black eyebrows while he was pretty much your every day Caucasian.
The young man ignored the furious gaze that was burning holes into the menu to glare at him and simply concentrated all of his attention on the words printed on the pages of the leather bound menu. He had to remind himself to be mindful of the prices, not wanting to stress the kind wife’s charity anymore than setting off the grumpy husband’s time bomb. Desmond thought about just ordering a simple sandwich, but the price for some of them was ridiculous and some had too much food on the plate, not something he wanted, seeing that his father dearest had pretty much starved with diets that barely filled his stomach enough to survive the harsh trainings thrown on him. He had tried to eat extra one time and he ended up throwing up everything he had eaten.
The fugitive continued to flip through the pages, trying to find something that was not too expensive, a dish that would fill his stomach and did not have any unnecessary side dishes. His finger soon traced one that had a good price and with a simple salad on the side, nodding his head in approval before he turned to the page of drinks, curious at what this restaurant had. The alcohol drinks had their own unique and weird name. Who the hell called a drink Long Island Iced Tea? And said drink had no tea of whatsoever in it, there were only Tequila, Gin, Vodka, Rum and Triple sec (whatever that was). Then his eyes landed on a name that he had taken a double-take from, Shirley Temple. This slight reaction made Desmond felt like he had turned into the paranoid bastard his father was, he thought it was written Shirley Templar. The thought of the name made the young man chuckled lightly.
‘What’s so funny, young man?’ Francis demanded bitingly, which earned him a slap of disapproval from his wife.
‘It’s nothing,’ the brunet replied neutrally. ‘Just recalling a joke that runs in my family.’
The older male sneered at his remark before their waiter came with their water and casually asked, ‘May I take your order?’
‘I would like a Classic Caesar Salad,’ the blonde ordered with her eyes locked on the pages. ‘Roast Potatoes and Chicken Cacciatore.’
Without missing a beat, the husband began, ‘I want a Fried Zucchini with Chicken, Fettuccine Alfredo and Seafood Clam Chowder.’
Wow. That’s heavy as Hell. Desmond inwardly thought with a frown at the Calories Bomb Grenade Francis had just ordered compared to the healthy set the lady had. When he noticed the waiter’s gaze on him, he quietly ordered, ‘A Scampi Shrimp Spaghetti and an orange juice, thank you.’
It sounded weird ordering these, but he had just been recovering from starvation, so he couldn’t overdo his meal, there was also the fact that he was not paying the bill for this one, so less was better.
‘Are you sure that’s enough?’ the pregnant woman asked kindly. ‘If you want another appetizer, it’s not a problem.’
‘No, it’s alright miss...’ Desmond trailed off lamely as he realized that he hadn’t even asked her name yet.
‘Oh, right, I haven’t introduced either of us. My name is Nicole Pearce and this is my husband Francis Penham,’ the blonde introduced them with a gentle smile that reminded Miles of his own mother dearly. Despite being an Assassin and knowing that the fear the Templars might discover them was constant, his mother, Ojistah Miles nee Skenondoah, wanted him to have a childhood too and would give him more free time from training than forcing to train until he could barely stand on his two feet like his father did. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Um, it’s Desmond. Desmond Miles,’ the young name answered with a nervous tone, uncertain if he should have used his surname to begin with. While he might be free from the Farm, he doubted they wouldn’t try chained him back with multiple threats and the paranoia of Templars being everywhere had beaten into his head.
‘Well, it’s nice to meet you, Desmond,’ Nicole said with a bright smile before she turned her attention to her husband. ‘What about Desmond, Francis? Gracious defender. That’s a nice name for our baby.’
‘I don’t think so,’ Francis interjected without a care. ‘Why not something like, Ethan?’
‘It means forever spoil,’ Miles muttered under his breath before he went and covered his mouth with the cup of water.
‘That’s... not nice,’ the wife commented with a strained smile, which only made her husband looked more furious than before, though she quickly returned to her cheerful self. ‘What sort of name do you suggest for our child, Desmond?’
The young man sputtered slightly, coughing out water and feeling some of the liquid had gotten into his nostrils, and hesitantly questioned, ‘Me?’
‘Yes,’ she affirmed with a nod. ‘You seem to know a lot about names and their meaning. Perhaps you can give us a few suggestions, because at the rate we’re going to pick a name, we won’t be able to name our little baby even after he’s born.’
‘So it’s a boy?’
‘Yes, a healthy little boy.’
Desmond lightly rubbed his scar in contemplation as he recalled the many fake names William Miles had forced him to remember. The only reason he even recalled half of them was thanked to his mother, she made it more interesting for him to learn by telling him what each name meant, such as her own name, Ojistah, meant star in Mohawk. Now what kind of boy name should be appropriated for this kind woman’s child? Maybe something about her kindness: Benen? Lufti? No, those sounded too weird for a kid, perhaps something a bit more English.
The young man pondered some more before he proposed, ‘How about Jackson?’
Francis instantly scoffed at his choice of name and openly mocked him, ‘Son of Jack, how original your idea is. Why haven’t we thought of that Nicky?’
With barely concealed anger, Desmond softly explained, ‘It also means God has been gracious or has shown favour. Its meaning depends on the person who will name their child.’
‘God has been gracious,’ Nicole whispered the meaning gently as she rubbed her round stomach. ‘Do you like this name, baby? Jackson?’
As she finished the last syllables of the name she suddenly gasped in pain, Francis was by her side in a flash and checked his wife’s body, thinking that her water broke. The blonde simply pushed her husband back and softly comforted him before her smile returned and she told him, ‘I think my boy likes the name you give him, Desmond. Jackson. That’s going to be your name, my little Jackson.’
Seeing how bright and happy Nicole was after finding a suitable name for her child, the young man was more than able to keep up with the mother’s happiness and not get affected by the pure resentment emanating from Penham, who should have been as happy as his marriage partner was right now, but instead of voicing out his opinions, the brunet chose to keep his famished stomach at bay by satisfying it with the rich flavour of the Scampi Shrimp Spaghetti and the thirst-quenching orange juice were the best gifts he could ever receive.
Desmond left the restaurant with a happy face, not even the thought of spending the night under a bridge or sleeping in some dirty alleys would damper his current feelings. After all, his father made it nearly impossible to be pleased in any way, to him every little thing must be perfect, he rejected works that were near perfection and literally stomped on his works, not caring how much effort he had put in them before he handed them to the tyrant. It was as frustrating as it was depressing.
‘Are you sure you don’t need a ride?’ Nicole softly asked as she stepped out of the fine establishment with her husband’s support and into the night sky. ‘Chicago is very dark when night comes and most definitely dangerous in some districts.’
‘It’s alright, I’ll be fine on my own, Mrs. Penham,’ the brunet replied with confidence. ‘I have already taken too much of your hospitality today.’
‘A small lunch is nothing or the extra dessert,’ she assured with a wave of her hand. ‘I rather enjoy the simplicity of the cheesecake. It’s like everything that looks so small and ordinary, but the simplest action they make brings great happiness to others without anyone realizing it. And you have brought happiness to my little family, Desmond, for that, I am forever grateful.’
‘Um... I... uh... You’re welcome?’ Miles responded hesitantly.
The blonde giggled at his reply and bid him, ‘Good night, Desmond.’
‘Good night, Nicole and... Mr. Penham...’ the brunet added in an afterthought before he adjusted the heavy weight of his bag over his shoulder and left with a wave of his arm before he pulled his white hood over his head and went into a light jog.
Despite the distance putting between him and the couple, he could very easily catch what Francis uttered, ‘I hate this guy.’
‘I find him very sweet,’ the blond countered. ‘I hope Jackson will have the same great heart as Miles and as kind as I am.’
‘What about me? What should he inherit from me?’ the husband demanded in a pushy way.
Whatever answers Mrs. Penham would have made was not heard and a startled gasp was all that echoed in the night, making Desmond paused in his run before he looked and found the couple’s way being blocked by two men, one of them held them at gunpoint. Seeing the weapon made the young man flinched slightly at the sight of it, the unarmed training he had to suffer with an armed opponent, the bruises from punches and the proxy weapon were still fresh in his mind and the supposed Assassin-in-training knew he had very little skill in repelling two attackers with one armed with a real gun, but leaving the kind lady on her own with her worthless husband? He might be able to distract those guys long enough for one of them to get away and find help.
Without a second thought, he began running back and removed his heavy bag, it should provide him with a momentary distraction if he did not miss his mark that usually happened seven out of ten times and he hoped his aim was not part of those three out of ten.
He quickly ran towards the small group. When he was close enough, he threw his shoulder bag with all of his strength, inwardly praying that it hit its target, and shouted warningly, ‘RUN!’
Penham heard it and made a run for it, abandoning his wife who just ducked when she notices something flying in her general direction, but the two would-be victims were unharmed from his bag that lucky landed on the tweaker, judging by the heavy bags and bloodshot eyes, with the gun and gave him a temporary opening in landing a punch on his pal’s ugly face. He turned to the side to check on Nicole who remained on the cement path, shaking and wide eyed, he went to her side and quietly told her they must bail, but she shook her head and murmured in panic, ‘I can’t. My legs...’
His brown eyes did a quick scan on her legs, but he found them void of injuries, so he could not fathom what made her paralyze until he noticed a liquid was spreading and damping the white dress. Of all the–! Fuck! Her water broke now?!
While Desmond was trying to figure how to move the woman in labour, he failed to notice the gunman was approaching him from behind with his gun pointed at him until the blonde shouted a distressed warning. The teenager turned around in time to see his murder who cursed him to Hell before pulling the trigger. A painful darkness claimed him.