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Path to Eden

Chapter Text

 

The clear sounds of people talking and birds chirping was beginning to become dull and through came the sound of fingers tapping down on a keyboard and the working of computers. The fresh smell of rain and dirt shifted to dry and stony. Desmond's vision went white and blury when he was ejected fom the Animus. He groaned and pinched his nose as he already felt the next headache forming at the back of his head.

He appreciated that Rebecca improved the Animus so that the Bleeding Effect wasn't going to get to him as fast as he would with the one at Abstergo but it still left him with a feeling of uneasiness when lying down and he felt like shit after finishing a session. A headache was almost always inevitable but he could live with that.

"How do you feel?" Rebecca asked from where she sat on her chair typing on her computer.

"Alright. Could be worse." Desmond replied reliefed that his headache was not as bad as it was most of the time. Maybe it was because it was a quite relaxing session. He was currently reliving Connor's memories as he was already finished with Altair and Ezio. And today Connor was mostly talking to people or scanning the area and less skinning some animals or slitting people's throats.

"Go get some sleep. It got pretty late." the raven-haired woman smiled at him and he returned it before turning to leave the room.

His room was not big but it was enough. Apart from a bed, a simple old and dusty wooden table with a mostly broken chair and a long wooden commode, there was nothing. It was an old building. The Auditore villa to be precise. Not only old but mostly in ruin, too, so he was happy to at least have a soft bed not like the hard, cold bed back at Abstergo. Desmond shuddered at the memory of his time held captive at Abstergo as one of the Subjects. Fortunately Lucy and the others got him out of there before worse happened to him. He saw the blood on the walls. Cryptic symbols written with the former Subject's own blood as they went crazy. He knew what the bleeding effect felt like. What it's like to not be able to tell the difference between then and now, reality and virtual reality or even if you are that person that kills all those people before remembering your own name again.

With a long sigh Desmond lies down on his back on the bed with an arm over his eyes. His thoughts drifted off to the time when he lived through the lifes of Altair and Ezio. It sounds strange but he's been through so much with them, saw what they saw, got angry with them, mourned with them. Sometimes he had the urge to console them but couldn't do anything but watch them cry silently when they thought they were alone. He had felt closer to his long dead Ancestors than to his own father. He couldn't help but snort at the thought.

Shoving those depressing thoughts aside he rolled onto his side and tried to get some sleep before he had to go back into the Animus.

 


 

The next session was again kind of boring. Connor was gathering information on mostly uninteresting people for a mission. He lived in hard times and thus were many innocent people in need of help. Desmond let his mind wander once again. He often did that when sessions got boring. Not that he wanted to see Connor brutally murder people or something. More often than not did he find himself thinking about his two Ancestors. More than was healthy for him really. First, they are long dead. Second, they were his Ancestors for gods sake, they're related! Well if you look at it that way and go back far enough all people are somehow related right? Right? Maybe he was finally going crazy, crushing on dead people he saw in some virtual reality past thingy.

Yup, definitely going crazy.

-
-

"Are you sure?" he heard faint voices. No, more like he felt them in his head. Does that even make sense?

"Yes, I have to do this." it sounded familiar but foreign at the same time.

"Okay, get him out!" the voice changed. Changing from high to low and back again while becoming scratchy like static but different, making his head ache.

"Desmond!" the now clear female voice shouted. Rebecca!

-
-

His eyes snapped open and he bolted into a sitting position. He was still on the Animus.

"What- what is it? What happened?" Did he fall asleep? While in the Animus? Was that even possible? Until now, no matter how tired he was, he only ever noticed it when he was out. He raised his head to stare expectantly at Rebecca, Shaun and Lucy who stared right back at him with similar looks.

"We hoped you could answer that." Lucy said in her usual calm tone.

"You- I don't know. You were not responding and suddenly you were desynchronising and the screen showed warning signals so we had to pull you out but you didn't wake up." Rebecca looked a bit out of breath.

"How long was I out?" Desmond asked just to break the thick silence that had come over the room.

"Only for about 10 minutes." it was Shaun who answered while raising a finger to his glasses to straighten them. "Don't tell me you fell asleep." he narrowed his eyes on the American in accusation as if he was at fault.

"Don't look at me like that! I have no idea what happened. Besides, falling asleep in the Animus is impossible, right?" he looked between the trio in front of him.

"What do you remember?" Lucy asked.

"Connor was gathering some information on boring people so I got lost in thought." he heard the Brit snort at that, earning him a glare. "I.. think I heard voices but I think that was only you guys when you pulled me out. I'm really not sure what happened." his gaze fell on the floor, eyebrows crunched together as he tried to make sense out of this.

"We'll figure something out. Just to make sure there won't be any problems, we will stop for now and Rebecca will run some tests. You can rest a bit until we're sure it's alright for you to go back in." Lucy gave him a reassuring smile and he nodded at her. Grateful that they didn't force him back in.

He made his way back upstairs towards his room while thinking about what happened. He couldn't have fallen asleep. Had he been unconscious maybe? But why? Maybe the apple did something strange again? But he wasn't even near the thing at that time. It's in his backpack which has been in his room all the time. Or maybe he didn't even have to be near it to be able to use it? Desmond let out an exhausted sigh, they still knew so little about that artifact it's scary. They're playing with unknown powers here but they didn't have any other choice.

Suddenly he felt a sting in the back of his head which signaled an oncoming headache so he went to lay down, before he reached the bed, his fision blurred and the stinging in his head got worse. He closed the last bit of distance between the bed and himself by stumbling towards it and flopping down on the soft mattress, holding his head in pain. He hasn't been in the Animus that long today, what's going on? He opened his eyes to try and focus on anything, fighting against the darkness, with his last grip on consciousness his eyes fell on his backpack, noticing a slight hint of a glow from inside. Great.

 

Chapter Text

When he slowly came to, his mind was fuzzy, trying to remember what had happened while being unkindly reminded that he had a headache which only got worse now as he tried to open his eyes but was only greeted by darkness all around him. Where was he? Was he asleep? Unconscious? He barely remembered going to his room to rest. When he tried to remember further back his head threatened to burst. Had he been injured?

"You are unhurt. I apologize for the discomfort for bringing you here." a kind voice echoed through the seemingly endless void, startling him onto his feet to look around. He could only be dreaming.

"It is not a dream. I am unsure you would understand if I explained it to you." can it read his mind? He was sure he was dreaming but he went along with this unknown entity for now. He took a few steps into a random direction on uncertain feet. It was hard to walk when you couldn't tell the difference between floor and ceiling. The only way of knowing that there was indeed something you could call ground was his feet meeting solid mass below. It was like floating while still walking, a confusing and irritating feeling so he just stopped and wanted to ask what this entity wanted from him but got interrupted.

"You will be needed."

"Needed? I don't understand." it was irritating how cryptic those words were. It was a strange dream.

"Not here. Not now. But soon. You will know when the time is right. He will need you."

He felt like if this dream didn't end soon he would go insane. It didn't really feel like a dream and what that voice said felt important but he had no idea what it meant or if he even should be thinking about it because it was only a dream, right?

"Who needs me? And why?" his questions echoed in the infinity of the void, not being answered. "Hello?" he shouted but the only answer he got was another unbearable headache spreading throughout his entire skull, bringing him to his knees. His vision blurred, making him dizzy. When he blinked a few times he saw his surroundings shift, forcing his eyes closed to fight the nauseas. When he opened them again after what felt like hours he was back in his room, his headache gone. Confused eyes blinked again before looking around, searching for anything or anyone that could explain what had just happened or any indication if what had happened was real or not.

"What the hell..." he breathed out, only realizing that he was panting when he lay down on his bed, trying to get some real sleep after this.

 


 

He heard voices calling for him. His name. They were urgent, worried. He tried to open his eyes but decided against it when he felt a familiar pain spread behind the back of his eyes. He tried to orient himself with his other senses instead. He seemed to be lying on something warm and soft, his bed probably. The voices calling him were familiar.

"What?" he groaned out at the trio.

"Don't you bloody 'what' us, Miles!" good old Shaun. "Care to explain?" he sounded impatient and stressed. Did he miss the end of the world while he was asleep or why was the Brit sounding like he wanted to brutally murder him? He tried to open his eyes again to look at Shaun who was glaring daggers at him, holding up Desmond's backpack. The American got up with a frown, taking the backpack... to find the Apple missing.

"What? But he was still there just earli- wait. I remember. I went up here, got a headache and felt dizzy and saw the Apple glow before I- I must've blacked out." he turned to Lucy and Rebecca, ignoring the murderous aura coming from Shaun.

"So right after that strange incident with the Animus, the Apple starts to glow and Desmond loses consciousness. How high do you think is the possibility of this being a coincidence?" Lucy turned the question towards the group, getting the answer she already expected from Rebecca.

"Pretty low I'd say considering we are talking about the Apple here." the group nodded. Many strange things have happened since they aquired the Apple. At first they thought every Apple had only certain powers like controlling minds for example. But they were proven wrong with time. There didn't seem to be any limit to the powers of those artifacts, yet. One could only imagine what could happen would it fall into the wrong hands.

"But what happened? Where did it go?" Desmond didn't really expect an answer to that.

"We'll have to find out quickly. Without the Apple we can't stop-" a loud crash startled the entire group and quickly ended the conversation. They all shared a tense look, slowly making their way downstairs with silent steps. Did Abstergo find them already? Unlikely. Lucy and Desmond were going ahead as they were the only ones who could really fight, Shaun and Rebecca being more the 'brain' type Assassin than the 'fist' type. Before entering the bigger main room where the Animus stood, Desmond readied his hidden blade but the entire room seemed to freeze in time when chocolate brown eyes took in the painfully familiar color combinations of white and red. Two hooded figures stood tense side by side and ready to fight with their hidden blades out just like Desmond himself. Even the posture was similar which wasn't all that surprising considering those two were the ones he had learned to fight from in some way.

Exactly. In front of the group stood Altair Ibn-La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze in flesh and blood, only more scary than Desmond remembered as he never had those deadly gazes pointed at him... until now. After what felt like an eternity the room unfroze when the two figures slightly shifted in their stance, making their white Assassin robes rustle and weapons clank with the movement. He looked back at his ancestors and his eyes focused on now moving scarred lips.

"Who are you?" it was Arabic and for once Desmond was glad for the long hours he sat in the Animus and the Bleeding Effect as it helped him greatly with learning the languages. By the way Altair's eyes started to almost glow, Desmond knew he was using his eagle vision on them and even though he was sure the taller man would not see a mass of red in front of him the thought that it, for whatever reason, might be possible made his blood run cold. Considering how tense those two were signaled that they were only a blink away from getting murdered so Desmond thought fast about how to speak Arabic again before stammering out an answer.

"We are Assassins, like you. See?" Desmond pulled up the sleeve of his favorite white hoodie to show his hidden blade, his eyes never leaving Altair's judging ones. He let out an internal sigh of relieve when the Master Assassin took a step back and some of the tenseness slightly left his body though he remained suspicious. Ezio behind the oldest man seemed distracted by something, taking in his surroundings with a strange expression.

"What is this place?" it was a sudden question from Ezio who interrupted Altair's attempt to question the group further; to his surprise it was Arabic.

Desmond didn't know how to answer that. The way Ezio was scanning the room though gave him an idea of what he was on about but it was still hard to answer. He felt so many different emotions right now it made his head spin.

"It's the Auditore Villa." confusion and hurt sparked in Ezio's eyes. It was expected.

"But... this is impossible! Explain!" the Italian took a single angry step towards Desmond, who in return tensed up visibly. Sharp eyes attempted to pierce a hole through him, hands balled into fists, jaw clenched. He knew Ezio could be scary but this was different. This situation was what made it scary. He had two deadly Master Assassins in front of him who where confused, irritated, impatient and angry and he knew they could end his life in an instant. And to top it all off, he was the only one who could communicate with them. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Lucy looking tensely between them. When his eyes focused back on the raging assassin in front of him he took a deep breath. Their lives depended on his answeres.

"Okay calm down. I know this is all fucked up and confusing for you two but I'll try to explain as much as I can. Can you... please at least put your hidden blade away?" he gave Ezio a pleading look who in return frowned in suspicion but did as he was asked, now instead impatiently folded his arms in front of his chest, Altair mimicking the movement.

"This is the Auditore Villa. And we're in the year 2012. You... are in the... future." normally he would have laughed at how hilarious this sounded and he almost expected the two assassins to burst out into laughter if not for their current situation and the fact that he never once saw Altair even laugh. Instead the oldest man was strangely calm and quiet whereas Ezio raised his eyebrows before furrowing them in frustration and anger again.

"The... future? How is that even possible?" normally Ezio would have instantly denied such words but it was quite convincing with all the technology that surrounded him.

"We're not sure ourselves how you ended up here." Desmond looked at the floor, frowning in thought and trying to make sense of this fucked up situation when a thought crossed his mind-

"I think this may partly explain our situation." the whole room gasped at what was lying in Altair's hand. The Apple. He was right. This explained a lot.

"So that's where it went." they heard Shaun mutter from the back.

"And what is this ball?" it was Ezio's question. So he didn't know about the Apple yet, which meant he must have been brought here at a time where he hadn't come into contact with it yet. Well this just got less complicated and more complicated at the same time.

"I think it's best if I just explained everything from the beginning." Desmond sighed. He could feel another headache forming, "I think it's best to sit down first." After everyone took a seat somewhere in the room, Desmond started explaining as best as he could, "So, apart from the Templar against Assassin war that has been going on for like forever there is another party. 'Those who came before' is what we call them. They were the first civilization on this planet before us but had much more advanced technology. They are the ones who mades these." he took the Apple from Altair, who was leaning against the desk beside him and rolled it in his hand, "We call those 'Apple of Eden'. They are powerful artifacts who were mainly made to control people. These artifacts are what the Templars have been after all this time and the Assassins try to protect them."

"So... this.. ball has brought us here? Into the future?" Ezio stared accusingly at the Apple.

"I guess so. It's the only thing powerful enough to do something like this. Time machines haven't been invented yet after all."

"Desmond, care to fill us in sometime soon?" Shaun was obviously getting impatient but he didn't dare speak a single word until their guests stopped emitting a murderous aura.

"Uh, well, they don't know much themselves. It seems Ezio didn't even know about the Apple before he came here." his eyes snapped from Shaun to Ezio when he saw the man frown at him, his body tensing up once more. What had he done now?

"How come you know my name? I do not remember mentioning it to you. And I noticed how all three of us look so much alike, it is very strange." his voice was low with suspicion and deadly like a wild cat sneaking up on its prey. Desmond had waited for that to be pointed out. After all they do look like triblets even down to the same scar on their lips except for a few details. Like Altair's and Ezio's faces are much sharper and a bit manlier than his own. Ezio's hair was longer, a few strands of his bangs falling into his eyes and the rest loosely pulled back into a ponytail. Their eyes were different, too. Where Ezio's eyes were more of a chocolate brown, Altair's were a yellowish brown, almost golden color. There was a slight difference in skin tone, either as Desmond was not tanned as them.

Desmond sighed before starting another explaination, "You see that bed-like thing there? It's called the Animus. I don't really understand the technical shit but it lets me kind of relive certain memories of my ancestors. I'm your descendant so I relived yours and Altair's memories in order to find the Apple which we need to-" he let out an exhausted sigh, fearing the next explaination that would have to follow his next words, "-to prevent the end of the world."

"Pardon? The end of the world?" and there it was.

"On December 21st this year the sun flare will destroy this planet. The first civilization was powerful. They saw the future so now they are helping us in saving the planet... I hope. Until now they have been helping us but we're not really sure about their goal."

"I see. So I am guessing we were brought here into this... time to help you? I barely remember dreaming about someone telling me I will be needed somewhere." Ezio remembered the dream-like void he had been in with this strange voice whispering confusing words inside his mind. So it had not been a dream.

"That sounds like Minerva. She likes playing with peoples heads." Desmond gave a weak smile, exhausted from... well... everything.

"I'm guessing you explained everything to them for now?" Lucy voices was the one to break the silence.

"Yeah, I think we're done for now. But what now?"

"For now you should stick with those two, Desmond. You're the only one who can communicate with them. They seem to have calmed down, too so I'm guessing for now we don't have to worry about them too much." as Desmond nodded to her she turned to the raven-haired woman, "Becca, can you run some more tests on the Animus? We're sure the error was caused by the Apple but just to make sure."

"Of course! Baby will be all ready for Desmond again soon!" Desmond groaned at the way she phrased it. That woman was far too excited about that horrifying machine. It was a less harmful version of the ones at Abstergo, yes but it was still dangerous and Desmond was surprised he wasn't phobic to that thing by now after everything he went through at Abstergo. He turned his attention towards his two ancestors and noticed them scanning him over. He didn't like their judging gazes on him, he knew compared to them he was a novice, nothing more than a fly who's annoyingly taking up your space. He cleared his throat.

"So uh, the others have work to do so we should go upstairs for now. Maybe I can answer some questions you might still have." now that everything had calmed down he suddenly became hyperaware of the two Master-Assassins, knowing he would be alone with them more often than he wished for.

 


 

Desmond flopped down on his bed with a loud sigh while the other two just stood in front of the now closed door.

"Just uh... sit anywhere you want." well this was awkward. He couldn't possibly sleep like this so he decided he would just answer every damn question they could have. Ezio was once again scanning the room while leaning against the wall beside the desk on the opposite side of the bed, which Altair sat down on right beside Desmond, making the smaller man fidget uncomfortably.

"It's weird. After so many hundreds of years it still exists." before Desmond could comment on it, Ezio continued, "You said you relived our lifes. How was it? What did you see?" he finally looked at the smaller man, waiting for an answer. Desmond couldn't quite read Ezio's expression.

"Well it's hard to explain. It was a bit like playing a video ga- oh wait you don't know what that is... uh... I saw you do everything as if it happened for the first time. A bit as if I had been really there, you know. Which reminds me, what were you doing before you ended up here?" he quickly avoided revealing more to them. They didn't have to know that Desmond had practically been intruding on their lives for the entirety of it.

"We have been on our search for these... things of Eden. I have heard little about the story regarding those until you explained it." Ezio explained before Desmond nodded. So he was close to discovering the Apple. He then turned to look expectedly at Altair.

"I have just started rebuilding the Order after Al Mualim's... betrayal." this answer would've been a bit vague had he not seen what had happened himself, which rose a curious question in Desmond's mind though he didn't know how to voice it out without making an embarrassing mess out of himself.

"Did you two uhm- I mean- did you notice anything was off?" he stammered out.

"I presume you are talking about the time you were 'watching' us, yes?" Ezio asked, lost in thought as he seemed to try to remember something, "I do remember something like a presence being there sometimes. Not really a presence but- I am unsure how to explain it." the taller man frowned as he failed to find the right words for an explaination.

"We knew you were there at that time. I myself had felt it for a long time until it recently disappeared." Altair explained.

"I see." was the only thing Desmond commented before turning red. So they knew. Even when Ezio was doing those things with all those girls. It would have been nice if he could just sink into the floor right then but a sudden question popped up in his head and he turned to Altair, "Wait so, you said before you got here you started rebuilding the Order. So you already had the Apple! What did you do with it?" he definitely should've already been in posession of the Apple because he took it from Al Mualim but he didn't have it now, did he?

"I left it with Malik before leaving. I can trust him and I had hoped I would not need it here." the Arab explained in his usual calm tone.

"Wait. You make it sound like you came here on your own. On purpose." this was confusing. Why would he want to come here? And how did he even know where 'here' was? Would this confusing mess ever end?

"Yes." was all he gave as an answer. Desmond thought he had gotten used to the secretiveness of this guy, but no.

"And? Why? How?" he felt like a fish with his mouth opening and closing in confusion. When Altair made a sound that suspiciously sounded like a chuckle it only worsened. Well this was new.

"I have felt you at my side for a very long time, Dezmund. But then you were gone and left me confused. I was determinated to find out what you were, what you wanted, where you came from and where you had gone so I asked the only thing that could possibly answer those questions." first Desmond frowned at the false pronunciation of his name then he gaped at the open confession he just received from his ancestor. He couldn't help but notice just how much Altair had changed throughout everything. Would this have been the old Altair he saw at the very beginning of his memories, the guy would've probably stabbed him on the spot instead of answering so openly.

"Okay and you thought it was a good idea to just follow that presence to an unknown time and place instead of taking care of the Order? What if we already altered the future with you coming here? Wait when you two are here then what about me? I mean what about Maria and the other woman I forgot the name of that had been with Ezio? I shouldn't even exist if you didn't have- you know what. Oh god will I vanish now?" with a panicked look he looked at his hands and touched himself to see if he was still there. Ezio burst out laughing where he stood, almost doubling over while Altair couldn't help the smile that streched his scarred lips.

"Calm down, amico." Ezio said after his laughter mostly died down.

"It was the Apple or this woman that brought us here so I am sure they will take care of that. And if not then we can not change it." Ezio reasoned to calm the smaller man before Altair interjected, "And the Order can take care of themselves. I am their Mentor not their mother and besides they still have Malik." Desmond only hieved a big sigh. He really just wanted to go to sleep.

"So you are our descendant." it wasn't a question and when he felt those judging gazes on his body again he wanted to shrink and crawl under a blanket to hide from them. Fortunately they dropped the topic. "If you have the time to rest, then rest. You look tired." oh the Italian had no idea. Even if he did nothing but lay there when inside the Animus, he still felt like he ran a marathon after. On top of that he didn't get any real sleep last night. While lowering himself down on his back he still doubted he could sleep with them here, which was the last thought he had before darkness engulfed him almost instantly.

Chapter Text

Warm. It was so warm. What was this feeling called? It has been so long since he felt it that he forgot that it even existed. All he knew was that he liked it. Very much. It reminded him of his mother. How she would caress his cheek and gently stroke his hair when he was sick or had trouble falling asleep. It helped him through tough times when his father kept shouting at him for how much of a disgrace he was as the son of the Mentor or when his training got harder and tougher but he was not allowed to take a short break. Come to think of it, he sometimes felt guilty about leaving the farm. He would've become a good Assassin. Maybe not as awesome as his ancestors but way better than he was now. Then there were times when he was glad he avoided to get mixed up in this war stuff. After Abstergo, though... after Abstergo he really hated himself for not remaining on the farm to train. He could've maybe defended himself, he often thought. He could have run faster, would've been stronger, could have seen the danger coming before it was right in front of him. But no. He left that live behind. Now the only thing he was good for was being stuck into some machine and slowly go crazy. Well, maybe he could at least stop the end of the world before that happens.

Before his thoughts could turn any more dark, he felt that warmth again, the caresses of his mother that he missed so much. He wanted to keep this feeling from going away but he felt his consciousness slowly starting to wake him from this dream. When he was conscious enough to be aware of his surroundings, the first thing he noticed was how well rested he felt. It felt like ages ago that he felt this well rested. The second thing was that he was not alone in his room, which brought back the memories of the day before. He had hoped that mess was all a dream but when he shook the last bit of sleep from his dazed mind his eyes flew open and he stared directly into the almost golden eyes of Altair Ibn-La'Ahad. Time seemed to freeze as their eyes were locked onto the other and neither of them wanted- could look away. It's like he was in a trance and the longer he stared, the stronger this weird tingling sensation got that started in the pit of his stomach and went up to his throat, trying to push out the tears welling up behind his eyes and he didn't even know why.

The realization of this made him finally avert his eyes to avoid the older man from seeing him cry, for whatever reason. He thought that this was how pregnant women must feel. It's like his brain went to a themepark and his feelings are taking a ride on a rollercoaster with too many loopings. He didn't understand any of his feelings anymore. And to avoid thinking any more about it and feel even more confused he slowly got up from his bed where Altair was still sitting, watching his every move much like the Italian Assassin, who sat not far away from the bed on the ground, leaned against the wall with his back and one leg pulled close to himself to support his arm.

"Rebecca should have the machine ready by now so I need to go back into the Animus. You two can... either wait here or come down with me. Though, I guess it doesn't make much of a difference.“ Desmond scratched his neck awkwardly and didn't wait for any of the men to react to him before making his way downstairs to get ready for another session.

"So this is that Animus you told us about?" Ezio asked after the two Master Assassins had followed Desmond downstairs. Desmond nodded as he made his way over to the strange machine.

"Oh, Des! Good timing. I checked baby thoroughly and it seems the error was caused completely by the Apple so you don't have to worry." Rebecca smiled reassuringly. Desmond still worried. He always worried when going into that thing but he didn't tell Rebecca that. She was almost like a sister to him, he didn't want her to worry when they couldn't change anything about it. "Lucy and Shaun are out getting some things." she continued after seeing Desmond look around.

"Thanks, Becca. For making the Animus... you know..." he trailed off while scratching his neck, a habit he took up while at Abstergo.

"Hey, don't worry about it. I just wish I could make it even more compatible." she smiled at him that Rebecca smile again, making him instantly feel less anxious. He smiled back at her before lying down on the bed-like machine and waited for the session to start while his mind took up the train of thought from before again.

He knew Rebecca was as much against putting Desmond in there as he was. She just didn't say it directly, especially when Lucy and the Brit were around but he noticed the way her eyes would sadden when they told him to go back in like he was some machine himself. Sometimes it didn't feel much different than from being held by Abstergo. The biggest differences were, that he went in by his own choice (more or less) and that he got more breaks than before. But he couldn't really talk 'normally' with either of them. Shaun was made of 80% sarcasm and 20% tea. Lucy was, well, Lucy. Of course he was thankful that he had someone to talk to at Abstergo, if only for a minute a day, and he was even more thankful that she got Desmond out of there but the way she was so emotionless most of the time... he couldn't get used to it. It sometimes scared him how much she seemed to resemble Vidic in that aspect. He didn't talk as much to Rebecca, either. Not as much as he wanted to, but he didn't want the other two to notice that she was against Desmond using the Animus. It would only cause problems in their group and that was the last thing they needed now.

All in all he was kind of reliefed to have the two Master Assassins here now, even though it was still pretty awkward. But he felt like he knew them and it would be a lie to say that didn't make Desmond feel a ton better. The only problem was, that he still pretty much had a crush on them, which felt pretty weird now that they were actually there. He didn't really think that much about it before, with them being dead and all, but now...

His train of thought was interrupted when the session was at a point where it started to get interesting again. Connor was getting close to the 'key'.

He didn't notice when Lucy and Shaun came back or the two Master Assassins taking a seat nearby to watch the groups every step or Desmonds dead-like body twitch when in a fight.

 


 

From time to time his hands or feet would twitch like a dreaming dog when he lived through memories with more action. When Connor was shot or badly injured in any way, Desmond would even let out a small pained grunt or whine and tense up before falling limp again.

It was silent in the room except for the humming of different machines, the heavy rain that drummed against the few windows the room had and the sound of fingers tapping away at a keyboard. The two Master Assassins sat silently not far away from the sleeping figure and switched from warily eying the trio to closing their eyes as if to meditate. Occassionaly they would glance at their descendant especially when they saw the other move around from the corner of their eye.

They were worried. They didn't know what that machine does or how it worked. From what Desmond told them they kind of got that it let him relive certain memories of his ancestors. But how does it work? Does it have any side-effects? Does it hurt him? They didn't know much about machines but they didn't like the feeling they got regarding this Animus. And the looks Desmond shared with that black-haired girl when they seemed to talk about him going in didn't make it any better.

Desmond let out a pained groan and shifted around which made the whole group look at him as he hauled himself up from the Animus. When he tried to stand up his knees gave out but Altair was already at his side, catching his weakened body without effort.

"Sorry, don't feel so good." he grunted out and bolted up the stairs at full speed before anyone could ask what was wrong. Most of the crew already knew the answer, though.

It had been a while since he last felt this shitty after a session. Altair and Ezio followed him, worried at what was going on. When they arrived updstairs they heard violent coughing and gagging from the bathroom. They rushed towards the painful sounds to see their descendant sitting in front of the toilet with his head down, hands gripping tightly at the bowl as he was emptying his stomach content.

When Desmond finally stopped after several more minutes of dry heaving, he slumped back against Altair's chest, who had knelt down beside him to press a rough hand against Desmond's forhead and the smaller man sighed at the blissful feeling those cool hands gave him against his feverish skin. How he would love to just let consciousness go and sleep against the other man's chest but instead he tried to get to his feet only to have his knees give out again and the pulsating headache didn't help there, either. He sacked down into Altair's arms once more before being lifted off the ground, bridal style. Desmond was surprised but too tired to protest in any way so he just let it be and savored the feeling of being in the Syrian's arms, resting his head against the other's shoulder. Sleep came faster than he thought and Altair looked down at the boy in his arms, a deep sigh leaving his scarred lips. He placed the limp body on the bed, covering him with a blanket.

An hour later, Desmond was shaken awake by memories of blood, death and pain. His body trembled and his eyes couldn't focus on anything as the scene was still playing in front of his eyes. Not before a hand stroked through his short locks did he realize that there was someone else around. When he could finally focus his eyes again, he saw Altair gazing down at him.

"Sleep." his deep voice was not more than a whisper but Desmond loved the gentleness in it. He tried to stay awake because Altair looked like he wanted to ask something but if the Syrian had voiced it out, he didn't stay conscious long enough to hear it.

"Is he asleep again?" came Ezio's voice from the door as he entered the room with a small bucket with water and a washcloth. He only got a nod as an answer before they shared a meaningful look for a few seconds. They had some questions in store for Desmond when he was awake enough to answer them.

Chapter Text

His fever took one more day to go down enough so he could stay fully awake for more than half an hour. It was embarrassing that of all people it had to be Altair and Ezio taking care of him like a little kid but he had no energy to protest and if he was 100% honest with himself, Desmond kind of enjoyed the attention he got from both of them. The other three came to check on him from time to time, too but they still avoided being alone with the two Master Assassins as much as possible. On the third day he was almost completely recovered again. He always recovered fast when sick. Ezio and Altair took this chance to finally get some answers.

"Dezmund." Altair's voice was sharp and had quite a dangerous undertone that made the American shrink away as they towered over him with their arms crossed in front of their chests.

He choose not to comment on the false pronunciation of his name right now.

"Y-yes?"

"That machine. The... Animus, was it?" Ezio didn't wait for an affirmation or correction before continuing "You said it lets you relive memories of your ancestors. But surely there is more to it, no?" with one raised eyebrow Ezio waited for an answer.

"I... don't know what you mean." well he had an idea. They were probably asking because of what happened a few days ago. He understood their curiosity regarding technology if you think about the times they originated from but... how much could he tell them? They were already altering the future as is. They have to go back eventually, right? But going back with the knowledge they have now is a bit- 
His train of thought was suddenly interrupted by Ezio leaning in close, too close. eying him with wary eyes but also... there was something in the Italian's eyes that Desmond only saw in some of his more embarrassing dreams. Was he just imagining it? Wishful thinking? He was pretty sure he was imagining it. Just like those sharp chocolate brown eyes wandering from his eyes down and stopping at his lips while a tongue darted out to wet his own delici- woah there Desmond. This is going into a totally wrong direction.

"We want to know about the side effects. And do not think you can play us." well now he felt more like a son being interrogated by his father(s). There was something in Altair's voice that left no room for lies. Desmond couldn't lie to them nor could he talk his way around it. He heaved an exaggerated sigh.

"Well it does have side effects but I'll be fine. Becca kinda made a version of the Animus that really reduced the damage." he tried to explain with an almost cheerful voice to make clear that they shouldn't worry about it.

It didn't work.

"What damage?" Altair's narrowed his eyes at him, almost making them look cat-like, which gave the younger Assassin that feeling of wanting to shrink away again.

"It's called the Bleeding Effect." he sighed out in defeat. "Sometimes... memories from my ancestors, the ones I've seen in the Animus, will blend together with my own. It's like.. I can't tell them apart y'know. I will wake up and it takes a few minutes for me to remember that I'm not either of you or Connor. The longer you are inside the Animus, the worse those symptoms get. But the Bleeding Effect really helped me learn your languages and moves so it's not all bad. And when I was- uh..." he got so lost in finally telling someone how he had been feeling that when he realized he was about to tell them about Abstergo he glanced up to see their reactions and came face to face with two seething Assassins.

"Keep talking." it sounded commanding but he didn't miss the gentle undertone in Altair's voice. They finally settled down on either side of Desmond on the bed, urging him to continue his story.

"The Templars of our time are an organization called Abstergo Industries but they're not much different from the Templars in your times. Until a few months ago I was held captive by them to search through your memories in order to find the Apples. Of course they didn't go easy on me. They told me to either be cooperative or they'll put me into a coma and kill me after they're done, which they would've done anyway, I guess." 

He clenched his hands into his pants and hoped those two wouldn't judge him for his next words. "At that time... I didn't know anything. I left the Assassins behind me when I was young. I didn't believe all this crap about Assassins and Templars so of course I choose the easier option and did what they wanted. They started out quite harmless to get me used to it but after that the sessions were long and they didn't let me out for a long time so the Bleeding Effect got worse. I tried protesting a few times because I felt like I was going insane if I went back in that thing, I even started to see symbols on the wall of my room that were painted with the former Subject's own blood, but they only drugged me to get me to cooperate, which only made it worse." he stopped when he noticed his voice and hands starting to tremble and his vision getting blurry from tears that threatened to fall. It was Ezio who pulled him against his chest while gently stroking through his hair, which caused the younger man to finally break down.

He felt so pathetic. Here he was; an Assassin, 25 of age and supposed to save the world, yet he was sitting here, crying his eyes out into the chest of one of his ancestors who had accomplished and lost way more than he himself could ever imagine. He was so pathetic, embarrassed and mad at himself that it only added to the tears streaming down his cheeks.

"S-sorry... I..." he didn't know what he wanted to say. He wiped at his eyes with his sleeves when he finally calmed down and peeled himself away from the Italian's embrace. "I... better get ready for another session. We lost enough time the past days." he explained to avoid showing the two Master Assassins any more of his pathetic side but a tight, almost painful grip on his wrist held him back from reaching the door.

"I will not let you go back into that.. machine." the Syrian spat out the word as if it were calamity itself. Desmond couldn't help the warm tingly feeling spreading in his stomach as the older man seemed to be worried about him going back in the Animus after his story, but he shrugged it off right away as he thought about why he had even gone in up until now.

"Altair..." he spoke the man's name with care, not being used to actually calling out to that person instead of only talking about him. "...I have to go back in, if I like it or not." he carefully observed the other man's reaction. When he only got a furrowed brow as an answer, he continued "Look I.. I really don't wanna go back into the Animus but it's the only way for us to find, whatever the Templars are searching for, before they do."

"Why can't one of those other three go in? Are they not aware of what it does to you? Or do they simply not care?" the Italian questioned. Desmond couldn't hold both of their piercing gazes so he lowered his eyes to stare at his own feet when answering.

"I-it's not that simple! I don't know how to explain it so that you would understand but it just has to be me, because my DNA is the one we need to access the memories we are searching for! The people Abstergo used before me aren't alive anymore! And we don't have the fucking time to be searching for someone else!" he panted, only now realizing that he was close to shouting with desperation. "S-sorry." he let his head drop in shame for being unable to control himself at a time like this. He was a fucking Assassin for gods sake! Well, more or less. He pinched the bridge of his nose when he could feel a new headache forming once again while becoming hyper-aware of the sword calloused hand still gripping his wrist. This entire situation was just too fucked up!

He looked up from his feet when he heard Altair let out a sigh before his hand finally left Desmond's wrist and instead ran it through his own short hair "Very well then. But you may only go back in under two conditions. First: today you are going to rest up. Second: we are still going to look for an alternative when we have time to spare."

"Fine." not like we will find an alternative anyway - he thought to himself. "Instead of doing nothing all day though, we'll get you two some clothes. You can't keep walking around with, well, these, they're too outstanding. Mine would be too small, maybe Shaun's will fit." he hated to admit it but the Brit was closer to their height than he was but they had considerably more muscles than Shaun so that could be a problem. They probably wouldn't get around going out to buy some.

 


 

"This is absurd. Is there no other option?" Ezio whined while uncontrollably tugging at the too tight turtleneck that almost looked like it was going to strangle the poor guy. Desmond stood not far away, trying to stifle his laughter with his hand pressed to his mouth while the Italian stood in front of the mirror and looked grumpily between his mirrored self and the other three in the room.

"If the only thing you came here for is to ruin my clothes and then complain about it, then just go and buy them some, Desmond." the Brit grumbled at the ex-Bartender, who now turned his attention away from the pouting Master Assassin to stare at Shaun in mild surprise.

"Shaun, you understood what Ezio said?"

"No. But it's obvious what he's all grumpy about." he sighed out while adjusting his glasses. "Just go out and buy some already. And when you're already at it, buy some for me, too, it was your idea to let them try and ruin mine."

"Any other wishes, Miss Hastings?" the American let out an annoyed sigh while watching Shaun's face turn red with frustration. Desmond knew the Brit wouldn't dare to throw a punch at him. He was not nearly as well-trained as Altair or Ezio but Shaun knew all too well that he had no chance against him in a fight. Not that the sarcastic man was one to let his fists speak quickly. Quite the contrary. He was well-trained at verbal arguing and never backed down from a challenge. Even though he was the one to start it most of the time.

"Says the fag who'd spread his legs for his ancestors." as soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted them as he saw the other's head snap at him with a horrified expression, his eyes widening. "Desm-"

"FUCK YOU, SHAUN!" he should have seen the fist coming that connected with his jaw but he didn't and for once he was grateful for the presence of the two Master Assassins as said men reacted fast to hold the raging ex-Bartender off, who tried to violently free himself from the tight grip around his shoulders. "BASTARD! I DIDN'T CHOOSE TO FEEL THIS WAY! IF I KNEW HOW TO STOP IT I'D NEVER FALLEN IN LOVE WITH- shit!!" he abruptly stopped his outburst when he realized he had switched to Arabic in his emotional rage. He sacked together in Ezio's hold, sliding down onto his knees with a stony expression, his mind racing with thousand questions. Exactly when had he switched to Arabic? Did they even notice? Did they figure out what exactly this was about? Did they figure out he was talking about them? He didn't want to find out. He had to get out.

He heard the two girls shout after him when he sprinted past them. He knew that either Altair, Ezio or even Connor took over his body while he climbed up walls and jumped from roof to roof, the heavy rain hitting his face like hailstones and drenching him to the bone, but it did not matter. He was not sure if the two Master Assassins followed him and he didn't care at the moment, either. By the time he had stopped running, he was panting heavily and only then did he realize that he was standing between masses of people pressing their way past him, which means he must have been quite far away from the deserted Auditore home. He didn't know how long he had run. He didn't know how long he was standing on the same spot on the still too busy street, letting the rain soak his body in the cold night air. He did not want to move nor think. Think about what he'd do if they didn't know. What he'd do if they did know. What will they do? Will they be disgusted and push him away? Will they return his feelings? Or maybe act like it never happened as he was currently the only person they could turn to. On the other side, those two probably didn't even need him to blend in with this foreign time. No one needed him.

 

He stared ahead, down the street, looking at a random person coming his way, imagining the too familiar cross symbol on their clothes while thinking, oh wait. They need me. 

It took a while for him to register that thought. But when it did, his body froze all over, breath stuck in his throat, eyes open wide, muscles tense but his heart and pulse hammering against his rib cage as another thought hit him like a truck. Immidiately his instincts took over and he bolted, climbing up the next roof. Only then did he become fully aware of his actions. He should have known better than to leave their hideout without a clear head. He should have known better than to remain in the open space of the street for so long. He made the worst mistake. A mistake not even a novice could afford. He should have known better than to cast aside his hidden-blade just because he thought himself safe in their presence.

He ran as fast as his feet could carry him, adrenaline pumping through his veins, lungs burning, calves straining. Fear clawed at his insides like a hungry beast, making his feet go even faster. He took small alleyways, altering between climbing roofs and jumping down to round almost invisible corners. It was dark and the rain made it hard to see. His eagle vision was pointless when there were no people around but he still tried his luck only to be met with a small mass of red around the next corner he took. He gasped when he collided with said mass and was catapulted backwards onto the wet surface of the ground. How had they found him so quickly? How long had they followed him before he had noticed? He didn't waste much more time on these questions as he quickly got back onto his unsteady feet, too exhausted as the adrenaline already started to fade. Not yet.

"We have orders from Dr. Warren Vidic to bring you to Abstergo, Mr. Miles. Either cooperate or we will be forced to resort to drastic measures." came a gruffly, manly voice behind him, making him snap around. So there were three of them. This was bad, he didn't have the strength left to fight them off. They didn't look like weaklings, either.

"Doctor, huh? Where'd he get that title? Probably tortured some poor guy to get it." he laughed humorless while still panting heavily and warily eying all three Templars. "C'mon you can't be seriously loyal to that guy. I mean, he tortures people with a pokerface to get the entire world under his control so that guys like you are left a mindless, drooling mess."

"We ask you once more to either cooperate with us or we will be forced to resort to drastic measures." the same guy from before said, his voice telling Desmond that this was indeed the last warning he got. So reasoning doesn't work, huh.

'Let's see how much you taught me, Connor.' he encouraged himself inwardly before dodging the first strike he barely managed to avoid before the baton could collide with his jaw, swiftly grabbing onto the weapon while jabbing his elbow to the man's nose, making him stumble backwards and loosen his grip on his weapon so Desmond could disarm him. Good, at least he had a weapon now. He dodged the next blow with a knife, ducking down in a swift motion, using the momentum to turn and sweep the second man off his legs, who unfortunately seemed to have pretty good reflexes as he caught himself quickly, taking his chance to land a hard kick on the Assassin's face. Desmond, however, ducked his head to the side in the last second, grabbing onto the Templar's leg, holding him in place while wrestling around the man's leg, grip tight on his foot and twisting it until he heard the sickening sound of bones breaking. The man remained on the ground, letting out a pained scream while Desmond tried to get back on his feet although not fast enough before a muscular arm snaked itself around his throat from behind, cutting off the air from reaching his lungs.

He tried desperately to get a tight grip on the man behind him but panic made him clumsy when his vision started to blacken from the lack off oxygen. He tried to calm himself, inwardly inhaling and exhaling deeply before he chanced one more grip over his head onto the man's back of his shoulder, holding tightly onto the drenched material of his white Abstergo uniform while one of his right leg drew back slightly to get between the man's legs and with all the strength the Assassin could muster, he swept his leg to the side, catching the other man's to sweep it off the ground enough for him to loose balance and by the tight grip he had on him over his shoulder hauled im over his shoulder until the Templar landed with a pained grunt on the dirty asphalt. Desmond didn't have time to catch his breath when he remembered that there had been three of them and not two so he quickly looked around, having slightly lost his oriantation in the fight, but before his eyes could land on his third enemy, a loud sound exploded around them and time seemed to freeze for a minute before he noticed the pain that spread through his leg. He fell to his knees, looking down at the wound at his thigh. The warm blood oozing out was quickly washed away from the rain.

"You damn Assassins are way too fast. It's hard to aim, you know." the guy with the gun said accusingly with a voice that made it seem like this was all a game for him while still pointing the gun at him. He was fucked. He had no way of reaching him before the man would pull the trigger on him again. Desmond still knelt on the ground, panting as every muscle in his body screamed at him in pain while glaring at the Templar. From the corner of his eye he saw the other Templar get up from the ground as he recovered while the third one still lay there, holding his broken foot.

"Finally ready to accompany us?" the gunner asked with a twisted grin while the other man took hold of Desmond's wrists to trap them together on his back with cuffs. He hauled the American up from the ground mercilessly when said man hissed in pain as he put too much of his weight on his injured leg. They walked past the man with the gun, with the second guy right behind Desmond. Like this he had a chance to use the man leading him as a shield so when they were positioned just right Desmond knocked his head back to headbutt the man in the nose, making him stumble for a second, which the Assassin used to turn around and push the muscled guy in the stomach with his head, throwing off balance while using him as shield, like this he reached the other Templar before he had a chance to fire. Desmond ducked down just in time to dodge a bullet before he kicked one leg up against the gunner's wrist, making him drop the pistol. Desmond could mostly use his weight to hold his enemy off from reaching the gun again but he made one mistake.

He was so focused on the gunner that he forgot the two other Templars. One was still wailing on the ground but the one he had only knocked to the ground had already been up again and now with the gun in his hand, pointing at Desmond, who froze up for a second. The armed Templar didn't shoot but with two quick strides was towering over the ex-Bartender, looking down on him before the gun connected with the back of Desmond's head. His head spun and black dots danced around his vision while he fought to stay conscious with all his might. He couldn't stop now. If he stopped, they would take him back there again. If they got him now, then their mission would fail. They didn't have much time left anyway. But all the strength had already left his body. His lungs burned like they were on fire. His muscles were strained to the point he thought he might never be able to move again. Yes, the Bleeding Effect helped him considerably when fighting, but he still lacked the exercise, the stamina, the muscles. He had no chance. His vision completely blackened and the last thing he was aware of, was being lifted off the ground.

 


 

"Are you fucking stupid?" the accusing voice of the raven-haired woman startled the rest of the group. Rebecca rarely swore or got angry but he didn't hold it against her. He still regretted the words he threw back at Desmond when the only thing the ex-Bartender did was tease him a bit. He didn't know what possessed him to say those things. They had this relationship of teasing and insulting each other since the very beginning. The very first words they exchanged when they met were sassy remarks instead of a "Nice to meet you.". There were times when Shaun wanted nothing more than to punch the guy and he was sure that Desmond felt the same, but it was never this bad. And it was Shaun's fault, if he liked to admit it or not. He knew Desmond was gay. Not because he behaves overly gay or something like that, no. He just had a feeling and he was proven right when he noticed the longing glances Desmond sent Altair's statue that stood against the wall. He had no way of knowing how Desmond felt. It was a special case after all. They were dead and he had only known them through the Animus. It's not like they knew about him or something, did they? Desmond didn't talk much about what it was like being inside the Animus, reliving memories. He only ever shared the most important information, bottling his personal feelings up inside himself.

Well... they never asked, either.

"Earth to idiot Brit." Rebecca snapped her fingers in front of Shaun's face when he was lost in his thoughts. The woman stood in front of him, with her hands on her hips and furrowed brows. "If he ran into any trouble out there, it's your fault. What if Abstergo got him again?"

"Rebecca." Lucy put a hand on the raven-haired woman's shoulder to calm her down. "She's right though. I don't like to think about it but if Abstergo got him again then we have a problem. There's not much time left to prevent the sun-flare and if Abstergo found the 'key' before us..." the blonde trailed off, not even wanting to think about what could happen if they failed.

"I know already. What am I supposed to do though?" he already admitted that he acted stupid but there was nothing he could do now but wait until Altair and Ezio got back. The two Master Assassins had sprinted after the guy but not before throwing glances at Shaun that promised him great pain should anything happen to Desmond. They were so overly protective of him that Shaun wondered how Desmond could still not see how much they adored him. He had no idea how that happened and he didn't want to know, either, but at that moment when they were torn between killing Shaun first and then follow Desmond or following Desmond immidiately, he noticed.

"When those two come back without Desmond, then we have to assume the worst and we need to get him back as soon as possible." Lucy's ordering tone left no room for arguments, not that anyone had anything to say against that plan.

Just then, the big wooden doors flew open and the crew's hope deflated when the only thing they saw were two completely drenched Master Assassins. One slowly shook his had and the trio didn't waste any time.

"Shaun, get the phone. I need to make a call."

 

Chapter Text

It had been days since they started their search for Desmond. The blond woman, Lucy, had used a strange device to communicate with what seemed to be another group of Assassins. They had sent a few Assassins to the Auditore Villa, probably to help speed up the search. They were not sure if he really had been taken by the Templars again. And they could not act before they were.

"This is stupid. How are we going to find Dezmund if we only sit here and do nothing." Ezio complained from his position on a chair next to Altair. They had taken a seat away from the rest of the group. They could not communicate with them anyway. It was a problem. If the crew had new information about Desmond, they wouldn't know. And Ezio was right. They were doing nothing than sit here and wait for those novice Assassins to finally find some clues to the boy's whereabouts.

Altair thought back to a few days ago when they had been trying on those strange clothes. It were the clothes of that man with the glasses. One moment their fledgling was laughing in such a carefree way but a moment later, while the Italian idiot was still more concerned with his looks, Altair had noticed the shift in atmosphere between the two youngest men. He had a feeling that they often used to argue with each other but the way the expression on Desmond's face changed to one of horror made the two Master Assassins react quickly. Ezio had apparently not been as absorbed in his whining as the Syrian had first thought as he was the first to grab onto the young man to hold him back when he started yelling and fighting against the hold in rage.

They didn't understand what had happened at first. But then their descendant had suddenly switched to Arabic and it made sense all of a sudden. The confession that had been suddenly revealed did not come as a shock to them. They had known from the boy's shy and awkward behavior. How he looked at them. How he spoke to them. Everything gave it away bit by bit.

Just like Desmond had got to know them through the Animus, they got to know Desmond very well throughout their lives. Not only had they felt his presence but his emotions. They knew when he was angry. When he was sad. At the beginning the presence had been an intruder for them. It annoyed them. Confused them. Even scared them at first. But they got used to it. Learned that it meant no harm. They're not sure he knew but he saved them. So many times. He helped Altair grow up, to see his mistakes. Desmond had gotten angry when he was about to do something stupid again in his arrogance and the Syrian listened. More often than not had he let himself be led by that presence. His own guardian.

When Al Mualim had betrayed him, he felt lost. That man had been like his father and he had to kill him with his own hands. But Desmond had been there. His mere presence was comfort enough. Desmond had been sad for him and that was all it took for Altair to stand back up and look forward, if only to get rid of the sadness this presence emitted that made his own heart bleed. And he realized just how important this presence had become to him. He adored it. He wanted to know more about it. What was it. Who was it. Why was it there. But then it had suddenly vanished. It was not like before. Before, it left occasionally but it always returned. But a while after Al Mualim's death it was gone.

And he had felt his world crumble.

For the first time in a long while had he felt panic. He felt like a child who's parents suddenly left him all alone. His heart ached every time he had thought about his little guardian only to be reminded that it was not there anymore and he couldn't take it much longer. He did not want to be without it. He couldn't. So he did the only thing he could think of that might give him the answers he sought.

He used the Apple.

"The Apple..." the Syrian started, whispering mostly to himself after hours of staying silent. He had been brooding on what they could do all this time. Why had he not thought about this sooner? Ezio only looked at him, puzzled. "We can try using the Apple to find Dezmund's location." he explained but Ezio's puzzled expression did not change.

"How should we do that?"

Altair sighed inwardly. "Come with me."

They had talked much since they came to this time. They did not exactly get along but they'd at least managed to behave when in Desmond's presence. The first thing that annoyed him was how flashy that man's clothes seemed to be. How do you blend in with these? They also looked like they made moving freely a challenge. Or were those clothes not unusual in his time?

He knew Ezio had lost many things just like himself. He could see it in his eyes. He could also see the way they followed their descendant the same way his own did. It calmed him to know that he could trust him with Desmond at least, knowing that he was just as serious as himself. But he did not like the idea of sharing Desmond with him regardless.

They made their way upstairs and into Desmond's bedroom. The boy ran outside without taking anything with him so the Apple should still be here. The two Master Assassins scanned the room until Ezio's voice made him shift his attention to the Italian who was pointing at a black backpack. It was open and there was a faint light emitting from the bag. The Apple.

"It's glowing..." the Italian pointed out quite pointlessly. "Are you really going to touch it?" he was insecure.

"What else would I be doing with it."

"But we do not know anything about this orb. Dezmund himself told us how dangerous they are." he tried to reason but he knew himself that this was the only thing they could do to help find the young Assassin.

"We have to take the risk." Altair said, determined as he reached for the glowing ball.

"What are you doing?" their heads whipped around so fast it almost made them dizzy.

In the door stood a man, seemingly in his 50s, glowering dangerously at them with his arms crossed in front of his chest. They knew who that man was. The way the other Assassins behaved around him, looked up to him, spoke to him. They both had experienced it. But to be honest they had mixed feelings about meeting him right now. The Mentor. Desmond's father.

It took them a while to realize they could understand the older man, he had spoken Arabic. It was not really a surprise. It had been something like a tradition for the Assassins, that at least their Mentor learned Arabic. It was most likely due to the fact that Altair's brotherhood back in Masyaf was the very first to be known as such. On top of that was Altair being seen as famous among the Assassins even to the present time. Had the Syrian been still as arrogant as he had a few years back then he would've felt pride overtake him by now.

Ezio was the first to break the uncomfortable silence between the three. The presence of each trying to overpower the other.

"We can not sit around doing nothing while Dezmund is being held by the Templars." the familiar way of mentioning his son's name made the Mentor's eye twitch not commenting on it though.

"I have used the Apple to come to this time. Should we not find information on Desmond's whereabouts soon, it will be our only choice to consult its power." Altair's voice was steady and strong and his eyes stared unwavering into the other man's blue orbs. Altair was younger, much younger, yes. But he didn't doubt that he was a considerate amount ahead of experience. Would it come to hand-to-hand combat, Altair and Ezio most likely outclassed him. On the other hand, the two time travelers were still foreign to their level of technology that they were able to use even in battle.

"You don't even know what the Apple does. God knows you could kill us all with that thing." Desmond's father argued.

"It can not do more harm than the Templars or this sun-flare if we don't find your son soon." he tried to remain objective as to not agitate the Mentor with their real feelings towards his son.

"You have no idea how powerful those Artifacts can be. Don't take them so lightly."

"I know how powerful they can be." he countered with a growl, his eyes lowering dangerously on the other man. "I have seen what they are capable of and that is exactly why I plan to use it. I know it can show us where Desmond is held."

The older Assassin sighed in defeat.

"I've got the feeling that there is another reason for you two to get Desmond back so desperately. And I don't like it. But you're right, getting him out is our top priority. Come down with me and take the Apple with you." he was already out the door before turning to look at the two Master Assassins once more "You may be Altair Ibn-La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze and I'm grateful for what you two have done for the brotherhood in the past but this is not the past and I don't trust either of you." and with that he left.

Altair let out an annoyed sigh and reached for the still glowing orb inside the backpack only to be held back by Ezio's hand on his wrist.

"Wait. If you touch it now you could activate it." he warned before closing the bag, which took him a while to understand how the mechanism worked and they made their way downstairs.

When they arrived, the Mentor was already waiting while Shaun, Lucy and Rebecca were present, too. The trio stared at the two Master Assassins, not used to seeing them in modern clothes. They had gone out shortly to get them new clothes. After all, they couldn't go rescue Desmond when they stood out that much.

They all took a seat around a round table while the artifact was placed in the middle. Ezio was careful not to touch it with his bare hands.

"I hope your intuition is right or this might end in a catastrophe." the Mentor said with a sigh.

Altair didn't talk back. He was hoping he was right about this as much as the Mentor was. He eyed the deceivingly innocent orb before placing his hand on the artifact's cold surface and a bright light engulfed the whole room. When the light vanished again allowing everyone to stop shielding their eyes from the brightness they all stared at the image before them. A hologram-like image of a giant building.

The Mentor got up from his chair and spoke some orders to the others, who didn't waste a second to hurry out of the room to get to work. It seemed the Apple did his job and they already had an idea where Desmond could be. The two time traveling Assassins couldn't really get much information out of this image, though. Neither did they know where to start searching for that building nor did they know how to operate a machine like a computer.

After making sure where exactly it was that Desmond was held captive, the Mentor, William, as he finally introduced himself, told the two Master Assassins various things they needed to know for this mission. They needed to know about the elevators, their weapons and all the things they had to look out for in this time. When he was certain they understood everything he ordered for more Assassins to join their mission. It seemed like the building they were to infiltrate was something like a headquarter and was heavily guarded which made this mission difficult and they needed more men than the few they had here. It would take a few days for the remaining support to arrive and the team was on edge.

 


 

He hated waking up with a massive headache trying to split his skull in two. And that had been happening too much the past months for his liking. When his mind recovered from the haze the first thing he noticed was the far too familiar cold creeping into his bones as he lay on the hard floor of his cell. His heart dropped with every detail he took in that confirmed he was back at Abstergo again. The room was not as small as to be called a "cell". It even had a second small room attached to it but apart from a bed and a small table there was nothing in the room. The second room had a toilet, sink and a shower which Desmond was really grateful for. It didn't do much to make the atmosphere any less dreadful and cold though. He didn't have to look to know that there were cameras in every corner, watching his every step even in the bathroom.

So what now? It didn't really matter if he was cooperative or not, Desmond knew that. But maybe he could buy a bit of time when he resisted. But would the others even look for him? They had to, right? They needed him. But would they look for him even if they didn't need him? Rebecca probably. But Lucy? Shaun? His dad? They knew each other for a few months now but Desmond felt like he still didn't know them. They were secretive of their true feelings, always hiding behind urgency for duty. Maybe that's just how the modern Assassins were like. It was logical not to let personal emotions interfere as an Assassin.

But what about Ezio and Altair? Are they looking for him? Did they even realize what happened? He just ran out. Now that he thought about it he really put himself into this mess. He ran away like a child, without his weapons or any idea as to where to even run to. Why would any of the Assassins look for an idiot who can't even look after himself. Funny that this idiot was supposed to save the world.

"What a joke." he muttered to himself just as the door to his room opened, making him realize that he hadn't even gotten up from the floor he had been laying on yet.

"Mr. Miles! It's so good to see you again." Warren Vidic greeted with his usual tone that sounded happy in a creepy way. Desmond couldn't help but think if maybe there was a point in that old man's life where something happened that made him go insane or something.

"Sorry but I can't really say the same." he muttered just clear enough for the other man to hear it.

It had always been like that. When around Vidic, Desmond was torn between fighting the man with all his might and shrinking back at the fear of what he knew that guy could do to him and he couldn't help but ask himself if other Assassins would feel the same way in his situation. Would they be scared? Or would they fight him till the end?

"I'm sorry to hear that. I had hoped we had become good friends before you left us. We had such a nice time together." with his hands locked behind his back, the hoary man smiled down at him. Desmond felt a cold shiver run down his spine. Was it only his imagination or has Vidic become even more creepy than before?

"I think we both have different ideas of a good time." even though his words were of resistance, his voice was not. It was quiet and had no bite to it. It was like a child's attempt to argue with its parents.

"I hate to cut our reunion short but, as you might know, we have work to do, Mr. Miles." although sounding impatient now, the smile never left his lips.

"I'm not stopping you." the Assassin feigned innocence.

"You know very well that we need you for that work, Mr. Miles."

"Oh really? I don't remember signing up for any kind of work at all, I'm sorry." he swallowed as he watched the other man's eyes lower dangerously at him and his smile drop.

"I do recommend you to cooperate with us. We don't have the time to put up with your childish behavior. I was still gracious with my methods last time."

"Childish behavior my ass! Who'd not put up a fight in my situation? You guys are just fucking crazy!" he spat at the old man. Just then two Templars appeared at his door, with syringes in their hands. Desmond's brain immediately jumped into battle-mode, knowing what their intentions were.

When one of them attempted to grab him he took a quick step back and kicked against the man's outstretched arm, making him grunt in pain and let go off the medical tool. The Assassin used his shock as an opportunity to knock him out just to barely dodge a taser in the next second. He took hold of the second Templar's arm to haul him over his shoulder and use his own leg to break the man's arm with a sickening crack.

When he looked up at Vidic with a glare he heard more footsteps from outside the room approaching. The old man was staring at the panting Assassin with furrowed brows in annoyance. When the next group of Templars appeared in the door, Vidic closed his eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh.

"One more chance, Mr. Miles."

Desmond knew he had no chance against that big group of Templars but like hell would he give in to these heartless bastards without putting up a fight. Chances are someone is already searching for him and every minute not being stuck in the Animus could save some of the damage that will be done to his brain until he can escape this hell again.

He fought off a few Templars but he knew it was over when he felt the familiar sting of a syringe at his neck. The last thing he was aware of before his he couldn't fight the tiredness that overcame him, was his body being transportet away from his room.

When he came to he was, to his surprise, not looking into the screen of the all too familiar Animus like he thought he would by now. Instead he was sitting in a chair. There was not much else in the room apart from a rectangular table against the sterile white wall. He also noticed that his hands and ankles were bound to the arms and legs of the chair.

His head snapped up when the door slid open, two hooded guys in white and a surgeon mask covering their faces entering the room. It made Desmond think if they wore those outfits to mock the Assassins in some way. Because it kind of did piss him off how they looked similar to the Assassins like this. His anger was replaced by nervosity and tension however when Vidic walked in behind the two men.

"You are probably wondering why you are not inside the Animus yet." it was not a question. Desmond didn't like where this was going. The old man circling around him and the strange atmosphere hanging in the air made the hair on his neck stand on end. "Mr. Miles." he started. "Do you know why you are here?"

"Didn't you want my ancestor's memories to find the apple?" at least that had been the reason last time he was here.

Vidic stopped in front of the Assassin and leaned down a bit, playing his hands on the arms of the chair.

"Oh yes. But why should we waste our time looking through the memories when you could just give it to us?"

"What do you mean?" of course he knew what he meant. He wanted the Apple and Desmond had it. The only question is, how did they know?

Vidic gave an exhausted sigh.

"Are you really trying to play dumb? I thought you knew better than that by now."

The hit to his jaw knocked his head to the side as pain spread through the entire right side of his face.

"So. Where are you hiding it?" he asked again as he slowly circled the chair impatiantly.

"..."

The next hit sent his head flying back before he felt wetness drip from his nose and run over his mouth. He groaned at the pain of his probably broken nose and the coppery taste made him cringe.

"We have all day, Mr. Miles. But still, we should speed this up a bit." Vidic gave one of the white hooded men a nod and the guy went over to the table, spreading out some tools.

Desmond swallowed when he saw different sorts of knifes, a scalpel and other tools which he'd rather not learn the funktionality of. His heart sped up and he made no attempt to hide the fear he felt when the Templar approached him with one of the knifes.

"Have you ever wondered why the Assassins changed so much over time? I mean, cutting the ringfinger was necessary to use the hidden blade long ago. But it also served as a symbol of becoming an Assassin, did it not. So why change those traditions?"

Desmond dreaded what was to come and his heart hammered against his ripcage in fear and nervosity. His breathing quickened.

The ear-piercing scream that echoed off the walls would have been heart wrenching to every being owning a heart. The pain made him dizzy and the feeling of flesh and bone being cut agonizingly slow made him feel sick.

His torturer realized it was harder to cut bone than he thought so he tried again until he finally cut through, eliciting another cry from his victim.

"Can't something be done against this noise? It's distracting my employees." Vidic complained to the other Templar who had only been watching so far. Said man didn't waste time to rip part of his own uniform and pushed the piece of cloth into Desmond's mouth before securing the ends behind his head.

Desmond wheezed behind his gag, not far from hyperventilating as the cloth quickly got soaked by blood and tears. His whole body trembled, bound hands cramping and relaxing repeatedly trying to find out which would ease the pain the most. When the dizziness and the nausea finally passed his eyes snapped up at Vidic, seething with anger.

"Ready to talk now, Mr. Miles?" he gave one of the Templars a nod and the gag was removed.

"F-fuck you!" Desmond panted out, his voice shaking with pain and hatred.

Vidic furrowed his brows.

"Not the answer I hoped for." another nod signaled one of the men to continue and his torturer came back with a different tool while Vidic turned to leave.

"Don't kill him. We still need his answers." he paused at the door. "And put that cloth back. I don't want him to disturbe our work." with that he left.

With the ag back in Desmond's mouth the Templar got back to work as he alined the strange looking tool to the tip of his finger and the Assassin braced himself for the pain he knew was to come.

A choked cry escaped him when the first nail was forcefully removed from his fingertip and the Templar went on to the next one, repeating the action.

By the time all nails were removed from one hand, Desmond was only barely conscious and the only reason he managed to withstand the urge to vomit was the thought that he's probably choke on it as he still had the cloth in his mouth.

Before falling unconscious his head lolled bacl, his teary eyes closing and praying to whatever was in heaven that this would soon end.

 


 

It was dark outside, well past midnight, when he gazed outside the dusty windows of the Auditore Villa from his position on the bed. It was no secret that he slept poorly the past days. Anxiety and worry kept him awake at night when he couldn't distract himself with training and learning about the strange technologie of this time.

When his family had died he thought he would never love anyone again in fear they would get taken from him again. But he couldn't keep his heart from loosing itself to the young Assassin. He was not sure when it had started but it was way before meeting him here in person.

That presence. That 'thing' that had remained at his side when everything else had been taken away from him. At first it had been an intruder. Even when he put on a fake smile that thing knew how he really felt deep down. It had made him feel vulnerable. With time he had gotten used to it and realized that it meant no harm. And before he had known it he relayed on it but only with its sudden absense did he realize just how much it truly had meant to him.

He had consulted his best friend, Leonardo, about it but as knowledgable as his friend might have been, this was something entirely different, something otherwordly and Ezio almost went mad with frustration.

He didn't think anything of it at first. The presence occasionally left but always returned after some time. Not this time however. So he had been shocked when he was transported to this time and meeting his lost piece in person. Strangely he had known it was him the moment he laid eyes on the boy's panicked and utterly confused look.

Ezio smiled at the memory.

The sound of someone uncomfortably shifting pulled him from his memories and with a tired sigh he turned to the side to see Altair turning in his bed. The slightly older man didn't seem to sleep much better than himself.

Ezio had noticed how the man's eyes followed the youngest. He definitely didn't like the thought of sharing Desmond with anyone, especially the Syrian but if that was the only way then so be it. At least he could trust Altair with protecting Desmond. Granted there would be anything left of him to protect.

"What if we can't get him back." it wasn't really a question he expected an answer for but Altair answered anyway obviously not asleep.

"We will." he simply stated as if it was a fact and Ezio was impressed by either how sure the other was or how well he managed to convince himself of it.

"But what if there is nothing left of him? Who knows what these Templars will do-"

"Then we will pick up the pieces and put them back together."

Ezio hadn't realized the other had turned around to glare at the Italian, signaling him to drop the subject.

"He may be a fledgling but he is strong-willed. But we should hurry regardless. Sleep, or you won't be at your best when we infiltrate their base."

The next morning they went through their plan to rescue Desmond once more. They had made sure Ezio and Altair understood the technologie they would be confronted with on this mission and even teached them some English over the past few days. Fortunately those two were quick to learn and they all prayed it would be enough.

-

-

"Can you guys hear me?" came the raven-haired woman's voice from the little device in his ear.

"Yes, we can hear you, Rebecca."

The foreign words were still strange to him and it must have been hard to understand him through his accent.

"Great! Okay, so you have only a few seconds where the cameras will be turned off and the doors unlocked. Any longer and they will track us. Understood?"

"Understood." Altair answered while crouched near the target building.

It was massiv and white. Pretty outstanding even among similar buildings. They were told that the Templars use it as a normal company building where innocent people worked, oblivious to its true purpose.

They had waited until dark so that only Templars were left inside.

"There are two guys armed with guns guarding the front door and several more just inside. Try a different entrance. Unfortunately I can only open the automatic doors for you."

Ezio and Altair scambled up the building the best they could until there was no way to way to reach any higher. When they found a sort of backdoor they picked the lock and could finally enter. They immidiately came face to face with a big muscled man in white uniform that was supposedly guarding the door.

"Hey!" he shouted but the two Master Assassins didn't waste any time to take him out with ease.

"Pathetic." Ezio mocked the the guy now lying on the ground drowning in his own blood.

"Do not get careless." Altair advised before turning his attention to the earpiece. "We are inside."

"Okay. You're still in the main building that's used as company. You ned to get higher first."

They moved slowly and with trained grace. They stopped in their tracks when they entered a corridor and noticed the cameras.

"I'll turn the cameras off for a few sconds now. Remember, you'll have only a few seconds, be ready. If you follow down the corridor to the right and turn left at the end you'll find stairs that lead further up."

Their postures were tense as they waited for the woman's signal.

"Aaand... Go!"

They reached the stairs in time and stood in the camera's blind spot until Rebecca's voice came though again.

"Now!"

They repeated this two more set of stairs until the woman's voice halted them.

"Wait! There are guards patrolling the hallway on the next floor. Can you guys make it past them without a fight?"

"Si, there should be no problem." Ezio answered confidently. Although more unconfortable than what they were used to these clothes made it easier to move silently. Altair always had the problem that his weapons made quite the noise and even then he managed to move silently enough. He still wondered how that Italian idiot managed to be silent with all the clothes he had worn when they first met.

"Okay, cameras will be off in 3... 2... 1, go!"

They went up the next stairs on silent but hurried feet, easily avoiding every guard they encountered. And that was what worried Altair. This was too easy. If this truly was their headquater should it not be better guarded?

"They are expacting us." he whispered as they once again stood hidden in a blind spot.

Ezio gave him a look that told him he had noticed, too.

"I guess that was to be expected." Rebecca said. "They know that we... need Desmond." the pause signaled the two Master Assassins that she struggled to find a word that didn't sound like they were using the younger Assassin.

They both grimaced at the thought.

"Ready for the next one?" she asked.

The two merely nodded and even though Rebecca couldn't see it, she knew they were ready.

 


 

He startled awake with the realization that he needed to reach the toilet as fast as possible.

The sounds that escaped his throat together with things he'd preferred to keep inside only added to the urge to bang his head against the wall to make it stop as he emptied his whole stomach conent into the bowl, which had not been much to begin with. Vidic had told his men to keep him alive but at this rate he wouldn't last much longer. He rarely received any food and the bit he got immediately landed in the toilet mostly. He was glad he had at least enough water through in here.

He didn't know how much time had passed. Maybe three days. Maybe a week or maybe even more. At least enough time for him to almost give in a few times when the pain got unbearable.

Every time he thought they must have gone through every god damn tool by now, his torturer pulled out a new one. Fortunately, he got water in his room which allowed him to clean out his wounds when he wasn't too tired. They probably made sure this way that he didn't die of an infection or something.

Desmond gazed down at the stump where once had been his finger as he leaned back against the cool wall. The sight still made his stomach turn and he couldn't stop hisurge to gag.

He ripped off some of his sleeves to re-bandage his abused hands, careful to not agitate his stub or fingertips where the nails had been removed. It took him a long time as most of his right hand now consisted of broken bones. He silently wondered if he'll ever be able to fight again or if it even mattered.

The only things that still kept him going were his hatred for Vidic and the faces of Altair and Ezio that haunted his restless dreams when tiredness finally won against the paint or when he was already unconscious before he even reached his room. He would survive this if it meant he got to see those two Assassins once more.

He closed his eyes, like he had before so many times as he let his head fall back against the too bright bathroom wall and tried to picture their faces once again but failed as they were a mess of blurry grimaces. With a sinking feeling he realized he started to forget what they looked like. He was sure it hadn't been that long yet that he was held captive.

Is that what torture does to people? He thought with a heavy heart as he closed his eyes again to let a tear freely escape his eye.

He ignored the hiss with which the door to his cell opened.

"Mr. Miles. Feeling like talking yet?" Vidic asked as the man stood in the bathroom door with his hands behind his back like always.

Desmond just glared a him with wet eyes. He was too tired to talk back to that old bastard. His voice would not really work anyway as his throat was raw from his screams and still burned from all the vomiting.

Vidic sighed and gave his men a nod. Two men hurried over to Desmond's position and not too gently lifted him up by his arms and dragged him out of the room with his head hanging down weakly and his legs dragging over the floor. He winced when they grapped onto some deeper cuts that littered half his body, both deep and shallow. A glaance to the side into one of the rooms they passed and out a window told him that it was still dark outside. Vidic usually waited until it was at least bright outside. Why did he deprive himself of sleep to get Desmond to talk suddenly? Are they running out of time? Did something happen? Desmond's mind was too tired to really think about any of this any further. He couldn't change anything anyway.

They arrived at the room that had been Desmond's torture chamber over the past days. To his surprise it always got cleaned after they were done with him. He was once again placed in the chair that stood in the middle of the room and his hands and feet tied to the chair. Two men guarded the door outside like always and Vidic stood in front of the young Assassin with two other Templars.

Desmond waited patiently to get introduced to yet another new torturing tool today but to his confusion no one moved. When he raised his head with great effort he saw the old man merely staring down at him with an unreadable expression. Fear, nervousness and confusion mixed together to an ugly feeling that made his heart speed up uncomfortably.

Vidic's strange gaze turned into a smirk of a madman before he turned towards one of his men.

"It seems that Mr. Miles is impatiently waiting for us to begin so let's not make him wait any longer. And here I wanted to go easy on you today. " He reprehensibly shook his head while the other Templar picked a tool.

Desmond's eyes widened while his brows knit together in irritation. Was that bastard playing with him? When the masked Templar approached and reached for his face Desmond averted his head and let out a whine that sounded like a kicked puppy. As the second attempt succeeded the Templar grapped his jaw tightly in a iron grip, forcing his mouth open.

Desmond quickly realized what was about to happen when the metallic arms of the pincer-like device laid itself around one of his teeth tightly.

"Nnh!" he whined out, his voice failing him. He tried to avert his face again, to no avail. "N-no!" he forced out, this time at least a whisper.

His eyes filled with new tears. His marred fingers painfully gripped the arms of the chair in an attempt to lessen the pain he was about to feel. His panicked heart felt like it was trying to crawl up his abused throat.

The grip at his jaw tightened as did the one around his tooth and he felt the beginning of a pull.

Please! His mind screamed out what his voice was not capable of anymore. Please don't! I can't take this anymore! Someone...

Tears rolled uncontrollably down his cheeks and just when the pull on his tooth was starting to get painful it was suddenly gone as muffled grunting noises surged through his with panic dazed mind.

The door opened with a hiss and in walked two white hooded figures.

For a second Desmond thought more of Vidic's men had come to join the fun but then his heart jumped when he saw each of the two with a hidden blade unsheathed which dripped with blood.

"We've been expecting you." claimed Vidic now turned toward the intruders.

Several hurried footsteps could be heard as the two were soon completely surrounded by Templars. Desmond's heart dropped as his hope of release faded at the sight.

"You Assassins and your bad habit of overestimating yourselves." Vidic shook his head. "How are you planning to escape this situation? And all that for a child."

One of the Assassins reached into his hooded jacket and the entire room seemed to freeze for mere seconds.

"The Apple." the old man breathed out in fascination as he seemed entranced by the wondrous orb. "I see. So you want to trade this godly artifact against the child? How foolish." he mocked.

"There will be no trade." the one holding the orb stated calmly before raising the orb higher and a blinding light filled the whole floor.

Desmond winced as he screwed his eyes shut. When he thought it was safe to open then again he stared wide eyed into two pairs of very familiar golden eyes, completely ignoring the now either dead or unconscious bodies littering the floor.

It can't be. he thought, still confused with the fact that, of all people, it had been Altair using the Apple.

"Desmond." his name was whispered and said man hand't even realized that the other man, Ezio, had come to crouch down beside him to cut the rope that tied his limbs to the chair. "Merda! What did they do to you." Desmond hoped he didn't want an answer to that because neither was he able to nor did he want to answer it.

When his ankles and hands were freed two warm hands cupped his swollen face almost too gently and exhaustion hit him like a truck. He couldn't help the whine that escaped his chapped lips. He barely registered being lifted onto someone's back and a four fingered hand threading through his sweat soaked hair shortly before it vanished again.

"We got him." he heard an Arabic accented voice announce to someone and Desmond tiredly wondered when the Master Assassin had learned to speak English. He heard more words being exchanged but his mind couldn't register them and he didn't really care either. All he wanted was to breathe in the smell that was unmistakably Ezio as he buried his nose in the man's clothed neck. He didn't care if this was a dream or whatever as long as it didn't end cruelly.

He tried not to fall asleep in fear that the next time he woke up would be back in his cell but his exhaustion was unbearable. The only thing keeping him awake was the pain that jolted through his body every time the body that was supporting him moved too harshly and the pulsing in his hands. One tired glance down at his hands told him that the wounds reopened and were bleeding again. Probably because of him gripping the chair too hard earlier.

He let out a whine of protest as he felt himself being lowered to the ground but wasn't aware of much more than what probably were fighting sounds before being lifted onto a strong back again.

 

Chapter Text

Before sleep could completely take Desmond as his mind faded in and out of consciousness he was suddenly shaken awake by Ezio halting apruptly as if startled.

Desmond weakly turned his head to where the noise that startled the two Master Assassins had come from to see Vidic standing in the hallway, pointing a weapon at them.

So he was still alive. he thought dejected.
"How are you alive?" Altair wanted to know. "I checked your pulse, you were dead!"

"Oh, yes. This body was strong and easy to handle. It is a shame that you damaged it. Now I have to find a new one." there was a disturbing expression on the old man's face. Desmond couldn't name it at all.

What is that bastard talking about? It doesn't make sense. Desmond's tired mind raced with questions, trying to find the most logical solution. But there was no time to find one as that psycho still pointed a weapon at them and he was pretty sure that the two time travelling Assassins didn't have one on them.

Desmond squeezed his limbs around Ezio's body as much as he could to signal him to move. Fortunately the man understood and the two men bolted around a corner before the shot rang through the white walls. Desmond squeezed his eyes shut, the dizziness returning from moving so fast as he was lowered to the ground again, his mind now more lucid again. He turned his head when he heard someone cursing beside him.

"Merda! Why did you not use the orb on him again?" Ezio spat at the Syrian, cursing while pressing a hand to his side where blood soaked his white clothes.

"It's not as easy to use the Apple as you may think." Altair spat back angrily as he tried to stop the blood as best as he could.

"E-Ezio." his voice was a rasping sound. Shit! Shit! What am I gonna do? His mind panicked and it must have shown on his face as a bloody hand came up to cup his cheek.

"It is alright, tesoro. This is nothing, I had worse." the Italian gave him a smile that was supposed to be reassuring but looked more pained than anything else.

They heard more footsteps approaching.

"We need to hurry!" Altair guided Desmond on his back before giving Ezio one more stern look. "Can you run?"

"Of course." the heavy accented voice was stained but determined. He pulled himself up before they continued down the corridor.

They didn't come far horever when another few pair of footsteps could be heard. They were approaching fast and the trio was moving too slow. At this rate they will never escape this building alive.

Ezio suddenly stopped, grapping the other's attention who also stopped to see what's wrong.

"I will only slow you down. I will stay and provide you with as much time as I can manage."

Desmond's eyes went wide. He couldn't really voice out his complaint right now so he only stared into the chocolate brown that stared back at him. An apology. Then that brown snapped up at the other Assassin with urgency and determination.

Altair nodded at the Italian before shifting so that he got a better hold on Desmond and without a glance back he started running again, leaving behind an injured Ezio.

"W-Wait!" Desmond started to struggle on the other's back to let him down. They couldn't leave Ezio behind!

"Desmond, stop!" Altair snapped at him. He was on edge with trying to get them out of this alive.

But Ezio will... he'll die! Not even Ezio can handle that many Templars and they have guns! Ezio was injured, too! His whole body hurt as he struggled against the hold the other Assassin had on him but this pain was nothing compared to the ache in his heart when he thought of losing Ezio. I don't want to leave here if it means Ezio will die!

"Desmond!" he warned before not being able to run further with the younger man struggeling so much so he set him down. "Ezio stayed behind so that we could escape! Do not let his sacrifice be in vain! We came here for you!" he tried to reason with Desmond. Time was running out.

"But..." he knew he should listen to the older man. He knew and yet...

"You Assassins are so annoying. I'm fed up with your games. How about you hand over the Apple and I will gift you with a quick death."

Their heads snapped in direction of the angry voice. Vidic!

"The other one even stayed behind to provide you with time and here you are, wasting the life that was sacrificed for you. Tz tz." He chided at them.

So Ezio is... Desmond didn't dare finish the thought.

"Hand over the Apple or I will shoot the boy." he warned with one hand pointing a gun at Desmond and the other stretched out, waiting impatiently.

Altair only hesitated a second before approaching the man with the Apple. He couldn't see Desmond's panicked eyes snapping up at him, following his movements in a daze before bolting forward to grap into the man to pull him out of the way. It was too late. Desmond flinched when the shot fell and Altair sank to his knee, holding his leg.

"See? That was not so difficult now was it?" Vidic rolled the orb in his hand with a satisfied smile.

Desmond watched the gun being pointed at Altair and he squeezed his eyes shut as he knew what was to come. He didn't want to see it. He didn't care about himself but he couldn't watch the other man die. Tears escaped his closed eyes.

"Altair." he wailed. If this was a dream he wanted to wake up. Wake up! He felt a rough hand grap his own and squeeze tightly. It was meant to calm him but there was no way to calm or reassure him now. Desmond wished they had just killed him the past days in that steril white room where he screamed for mercy. This was the worst torture he had to go through.

He didn't even register the shot anymore but he knew what he would see would he open his eyes now. The hand in his own had gone limp before it slid out of his hold. So he just sat there with his eyes closed, waiting for the inevitable as silent tears rolled down his face.

-
-

He jerked awake, panting heavily and the images of the dream still dancing in his vision as a rough but gentle hand in his hair and a pair of lips against his forehead tried to calm him down. His vision was blurry from tears and he squeezed his eyes shut to clear them out.

"Sshh. It is alright, Desmond. You are safe."

An Italian voice found its way through his dream dazed mind as he blinked several times to adjust his vision. His heart started to speed up even more than it already was from the nightmare when he looked into the brown eyes of Ezio, very much alive. His breathing only increased, close to hyperventilating. He found himself in the Italian's arms, his hands rubbing soothing circles on his back as he tried to calm the youngest man down.

"E-Ezio." Desmond breathed out, still not believing that it had only been a dream. His tears wouldn't stop but he didn't care anyway. His arms wrapped around the other man's neck tightly.

When he finally calmed down they released each other from the embrace.

"Trust me, tesoro mio. You are safe." Ezio's smile was blinding to his tired eyes.

Was it true? This wasn't another dream? Not like the ones he had back in his cell, either? Was it really over?

The door to his room opened and Desmond almost expected Vidic to walk in but instead he looked into another face he so desperately wanted to see again. It felt like it had been months since he last saw them. Maybe it really had been months, he couldn't tell.

Altair closed the door behind him and Desmond only now noticed that he held a glas of water that was already held to his lips in the next second.

"How do you feel?" Altair asked as he sat down on the bed, the mattress creaking with the added weight. Ezio in turn got up from the bed to give them some space and instead settled on a chair beside them.

As Desmond was gulping down the refreshing liquid he coughed from being too eager. When his first attempt to speak failed he wet his chapped lips and tried again.

"Better... I think..." He wasn't sure. He was tired mostly.

"We had you take some medicine for the pain and the fever." Altair explained while continuing to carress his cheek where Ezio had stopped.

Fever? He didn't remember that.

"How long... was I out?"

"Since the night we got you out it as been almost a week. You had high fever which finally broke yesterday."

Desmond nodded absentmindly. He couldn't shake the images of that nightmare from his mind.

"Vidic... is he...?" he wanted, no, needed to know.

"If you are referring to the man that looked like he was the Head Templar then yes, he is dead like the others that were exposed to the Apple. I have checked his pulse to make sure." Altair answered. Desmond let out a breath he didn't know he was holding in relieve.

"Have the others said when I'm to go back into the Animus?" he really didn't want to go back in there and by the way the two Master Assassins features darkened they didn't like it either. But what choice did they have.

"You only just woke up, Desmond." Ezio looked baffled.

"You will not go back into that machine." the Syrian's sudden commanding tone took Desmond aback. His features immidiately softened though and he let out a sigh. "We will talk about this when you are feeling better." he made sure his tone signaled the younger that they were not going to talk about this further right now.

Both Assassins got up to leave and were already out the door when a woman's voice could be heard.

"He's awake? Can I talk to him for a bit?" it was Rebecca's voice. There was silence. Ezio and Altair were probably not too happy to deprive Desmond more of his much needed rest.

"Great! I won't be long, promise!" she said without waiting for a reply. Desmond could only imagine their faces right now and he couldn't help but smile at that.

"Hey, what are you smiling to yourself about?" she wanted to know as she closed the door behind her and sat down on the bed where the other two had been sitting a while ago.

"Because you're probably the only one who can talk back to those two and not be killed."

She smiled sweetly back at him but it quickly gave way to a sad expression.

"Are you still in pain?"

"Everything's stiff and throbbing mostly. Exactly what kind of drugs did you give me?"

"When... I saw your injuries as Ezio was holding your unconscious body in his arms like your were dead I told Shaun to get the strongest stuff he could find so... don't ask me." she smiled sadly.

"Thanks, I guess." he laughed as best as he could with how powerless he felt. "I asked those two just now but didn't really get an answer when I asked when I'm going back in the Animus."

Rebecca's face fell at the question. Great, he was awake for a few minutes and already made the three most important people in his life sad. Way to go Desmond.

"Des. We're all not too eager to let you back in after... you know. But it were the two big guys that stood up to Will and told him he'd have to get through them first if he wanted you in the Animus." she happily told him.

He cringed at the mention of his father but he also felt warmth spread through his chest at the thought of the two Master Assassins standing up for him.

"Des, believe it or not but they care for you. Deeply. Ezio had not left your side for longer than maybe ten minutes since we got you back and Altair made sure no one bothered you while you slept. Gods, he was ready to strangle Shaun when he wanted to see if you were awake enough to eat."

"Who doesn't want to strangle Shaun?" he joked.

"Glad you're feeling better." she laughed. "But you get what I mean. Give it some thought and maybe talk to them about it. You may regret it if you don't."

He'd never seen Becca this serious before.

"Are you speaking from experience?"

"Yeah..." she fell silent long enough for him to think she wouldn't go deeper into detail. But she continued in the end. "He was a field Assassin. I was scared he didn't feel the same way. Someday, a report said he had died on a mission and I regretted to never have told him. I still do."

"I'm sorry." he didn't know what else to say. This was the first time Rebecca was talking about her personal life with him but it also made him happy to know she trusted him enough to tell this story.

"Don't be." she smiled again. "I think Altair will strangle me if I stay here any longer. Get some rest and don't stress yourself out over what I just said. Just give it a thought."

"Okay." he'll probably still stress himself out over it though.

Even though he was tired as hell sleep didn't come for an hour or so. There was too much to think about. And he realized too late that Rebecca had tactfully avoided his question when he asked about him going back into the Animus.

"Damn." he cursed at himself for not noticing.

Well, he was going to find out soon enough.



After he had woken up the next day to his bladder screaming at him, he quickly realized it was not an easy task to do with only your thumbs. The cast around his fingers mostly covered his entire right hand and the bandage around his stump was also big enough to render the rest of his fingers useless.

He'd love to have a shower now but without help that would be impossible so he just stared at the shower and then at his bandaged hands before deciding to go back to bed to rest some more until he came up with an idea on how to get dressed.

Not long after he made himself comfortable under the blanket to stare at the ceiling the two time travelling men marched in. One with a bowl of soup in hand.

Ezio sat down on the bed to hold out the soup.

"Rebecca made this. It's not much but it is better than the things I have seen you normally eat."

"Thanks." he just now realized how hungry he was as he sat himself up with some help and thankfully took the bowl. The smell made his mouth water.

Becca is the best. He thought with a smile. His smile turned into a frown when he remembered that he couldn't hold the spoon with those hands.

As if reading this mind Ezio took hold of the spoon, dipped it into the soup and guided it to Desmond's lips, who gratefully took it without commenting on it.

With the Italian feeding him and Altair sitting silently in the chair beside the bed, reading some kind of notes Desmond thought that now was probably the best time to bring up the things he wanted to talk about. Though he was currently distracted by the fact that those two looked ridiculously hot in modern clothes. Altair was wearing a dark gray long-sleeved shirt with a closed collar you could pull up like a scarf. His sleeves were pulled up a bit even though it was pretty cold already. Both of them were wearing loose jeans that still fit their muscular legs perfectly. Ezio wore a white shirt with a collar quite similar to the one he had always worn back in his time to let his necklace show only with a red light-checked hooded jacket on top which made it look like a two-piece.

When Ezio raised an amused eyebrow at him as he caught Desmond eying the two from head to toe with what might be considered a languishing gaze, he blushed and reminded himself that he had planned to talk.

"Hey... uhm..." he started, his hands itching under the bandages. "I... wanted to talk to you two about something."

"Is this about you going back into that Animus?" Altair asked while Ezio continued to feed Desmond with a strangely content smile on his lips.

"Well... yes, that too..."

"You will not go back in. We will use the Apple instead." he stated as he placed whatever he was reading on the desk to give Desmond his full attention.

"What? The Apple? How?"

"We will use the Apple to receive the information you would get through that machine." he said it as if it were an obvious thing to do.

"No, but... wait, you used the Apple back at Abstergo?"

"Why are you surprised? I used the Apple before, you remember?"

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean it's safe to use. Anyway, we don't even know if it will help us at all." Desmond argued.

"Then we will try."

And with that the topic was done for Altair but Ezio was looking strangely at him as he put the now empty bowl to the side.

"That was not all you wanted to talk about, was it?"

Desmond's pulse immidiately quickened.

"Well, you know... uhm..."

Come on, Desmond! he encouraged himself. His eyes wandered through the room, trying to look everywhere but the two men.

"When... I ran. I mean before I ran, that thing between Shaun and me. I mean... did you understand?"

He constantly tumbled over his words. Ezio raised a confused eyebrow at him.

"Ah." He could almost see the light bulb above Ezio's head. "Maybe?" Desmond almost winced as the Italian had a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. "I wonder who it was that you were talking about?" Ezio teased as he leaned his head to the side and into his hand as his elbow supported him on his leg.

"That's... I mean... that was... about..." Desmond swallowed hard. "Forget it. It's not important." a defeated sigh escaped him and he could've slapped himself for backing out at the last second.

"Is it not?" Ezio's strong voice had him look up at the Italian. "Do you not feel the undeniable need to see that person? To see them smile? Do your fingers not itch with the urge to touch them? Are those feelings not important to you?"

Desmond had been so entranced with the other's voice and glowing eyes he almost flinched when the rough hand came up to carress his cheek. Even when Ezio's face came closer with every word that escaped his scarred lips, Desmond could not avert his eyes.

"I..." he forgot what he wanted to say.

"Do you not want to tell them how precious they are, that they matter? That you would give the world to them if you had the power? Do your lips not tingle when they are not locked with theirs?

They were so close Desmond could feel the other man's breath on his lips and he resisted the urge to wet his own to get rid of this tingling sensation. He couldn't think. All his mind consisted of was - Kiss me! Kiss me! - and when he couldn't fight that longing anymore, he finally managed to swallow past that lump in his throat.

"I do." he breathed out.

And appearently that was the right thing to do because finally, finally he felt the lips he had craved for so long capture his own in a kiss that was far more than just a simple kiss. It was their frustration, longing and love all poured into this one kiss that had both of them breatheless by the time they parted for the need of air. Desmond was denied such luxury however as another pair of lips conquered his mouth.

"Did this answer all your questions, Desmond?" Ezio asked with a satisfied smile playing about his lips though his eyes told him he'd be glad to give more if more convincing was needed.

Desmond only nodded, not trusting his voice just yet as he whiped at his chin with the back of his hand where a string of saliva had escaped his mouth from the intensity of the kiss.

"When you were captured.... we feared for the worst." Ezio kept stroking Desmond's cheek while gazing into his eyes like he'd wanted to get lost in them. "I still remember the moment I saw my family hang and I will not lose you, too."

"Sorry." Desmond hung his head in shame. "For running away and for making you worry."

A hand grapped his chin gently to turn his face towards the Syrian, who leaned in to bring their foreheads together.
"It does not matter, habibi. What matters is that you are safe now."

Desmond let out a sigh of conent as he closed his eyes. When was the last time he had felt like this? Most of his life he'd been running, fighting. There were still some matters that he needed answers to but that could wait at least one more day.

Altair pulled back and Desmond's eyes widened when he saw the Assassin undress until a very well built and very naked Master Assassin stood before him. He gaped when Ezio did the same.

Isn't this escalating a bit quickly? he asked himself in a slight panic before Altair pulled back the blanket and expactantly waited for Desmond to make some room.

"What I would give to know what kind of inapropriate thought is going through your pretty head." Ezio smirked down at him as he started to crawl onto the bed, too.

Desmond didn't think any more blood could gather in his cheeks as he reluctantly made room for the two Assassins. "Not my fault you're suddenly stripping down to nothing in front of me." he grumbled out. "What're you doing anyway?"

"What do you think?" came the Italian's voice now from behind him.

"You can't be thinking about sleeping? It's the middle of the day!" he tried to reason as he looked down at Altair. The Syrian had made himself comfortable by now with his hands behind his head and merely shrugged his shoulder as an answer.

"Just sleep, habibi." the Syrian said with a low voice as he curled one arm around Desmond's naked waist to pull him down against his chest.

Desmond huffed while trying to awkwardly get comfortable against the muscled chest.

"You didn't have to go completely naked though." he murmured but knew they heard him by the hint of a smile on Altair's tired face and the fibrations of a chuckle at his back as the Italian pressed against him, his arms around the smaller man's chest.

Sleep came surprisingly fast as he revelled in the warmth of two strong bodies pressed against him.



"Shit." he cursed after he had practically sprinted into the bathroom to not let the two Assassins know of his little problem. It was no surprise he's wake up with a hard-on when sleeping skin to skin with two naked guys he'd been lusting over for far too long.

Now how was he going to take care of it? His hands were useless.

I can't even jerk off like this. He whined inwardly as he stood half naked in the bathroom. This is just sad.

He jumped when there was a knock on the door and he prayed to all the gods that whoever it was, they would not come in. Most locks on the doors in this building were quite old and mostly broken.

"Desmond? Are you alright?" it was Altair's accented voice that sounded concerned.

"I'm coming in." he announced.

"No!" but the other was already closing the door behind him. Desmond didn't dare turn around.

"I thought you might need help. I also brought this just in case you wanted to take a shower." he held up a small plastic bag and a rubber band, probably to make the case on his hand waterproof.

"I... uh... yes."

Knowing that there was nothing he could say to make the man leave he accepted his fate.

Fortunately, the small shock from before and his nervousity calmed his little problem down fast enough so that he was able to turn towards the other as Altair pulled the plastic carefully over Desmond's hand and secured it around his wrist with the rubber band. He was glad the older man had at least the decency to put some pants on before coming in.

"What about this?" Desmond aksed while holding up his now four-fingered and bandaged hand.

"We will clean it afterwards. It is fine if the bandages get wet." the other explained as they made their way to the shower and Altair took off his pants again before pulling the smaller man back by hooking a finger into the waistband of his underwear as Desmond was about to enter the shower.

"Are you planning to shower like this?" an amused grin pulled at his lips as he slid the piece of cloth down Desmond's tense legs. Desmond sucked in a breath when the other's fingers brushed against his skin.

They entered the shower, Desmond consciously with his back to the other man as he waited for the water to hit his skin. He tensed when a hand started to wash his back but quickly got used to the slow rythmic motion. Altair seemed to want to take his time and it quickly started to feel like a massage.

"Tell me about yourself."

Desmond was so lost to the blissful feeling of the other's hands running so gently over his body that he almost jumped at the sudden request. Now that Desmond thought about it, he may know a lot about these two but they knew almost nothing about his life. He didn't even know where to start.

"What do you want to know?"

"How did you become an Assassin?"

"Well, as you may already know my dad is the Mentor so I grew up on a farm together with a few other Assassins under my father's training." he glanced back over his shoulder in a silent question and the nod he received told him to continue. "I ran away when I was a teenager though."

"Why?"

"I couldn't take it anymore. The training was hard and no matter how hard I tried it was never enough for him. Back then I didn't believe all these things about Assassins and Templars. I wanted nothing to do with it."

"I do not know what your father is capable of as a Mentor but I do not like him."

Desmond chuckled at this. Not that it was a surprise. Altair Ibn-La'Ahad didn't like many people and William was not a person that was easy to warm up to.

Desmond tried to ignore the rough hands slowly sliding down his lower back, over his hips and along his legs in favor of continuing his story.

He gulped.

"I-it's not like we are on terribly bad terms. It's just that for a long time I thought he was crazy and we just mostly don't agree on things."

Altair let out a sympathetic hum.

"After I ran away I worked here and there and got myself an apartment until Abstergo found me a few years later and... well, that's where the story with the Animus started."

"Have you ever regretted leaving the farm?" his voice was suddenly sensually deep and right beside Desmond's ear, sending a tingling sensation through his entire body and ended in his groin. The taller body was now pressed against his back as its hands snaked around his torso to continue cleaning. The hardness pressing into his lower back made it obvious that Desmond was not the only one affected.

"Yes." he swallowed hard. The hands moving over his chest too erotic to ignore as they not so accidentally grazed one of his nipples from time to time. "I f-felt pathetic for being captured so easily and regretted not believing dad. Same when I ran out because I was too scared to tell you guys that I... cared about you two. I felt that it was my own fault and I deserved what-"

He was suddenly spun around and pressed against the wall. The other had a finger under his chin to make sure the smaller man would look into his eyes.

"You have nothing to feel guilty about, Desmond. You are not pathetic. You could not have known about the consequences of a decision you made years ago. And I have seen many men break by the hands of Templars." His body pressed closer to Desmond's, chests touching and the smaller couldn't hold back the groan that escaped him when their half hard members touched. "I am proud of you and if you think you are not worth anything, remember that you mean the world to us, habibi."

Desmond couldn't have commented on it even if he knew how as the hand on his chin now cupped his cheek while the other hand ran determinedly down his chest and rough fingers slid across his already hardening sensitive flesh before closing around it. Desmond gasped.

"W-wait!"

"Sshh. It's alright, habibi. Just relax." he whispered against the other's lips before claiming them in a heated kiss.

Desmond's knees trembled and his heart beat like crazy as the hand on his cock loosened in order to close around both their members again. He broke the kiss to throw his head back against the wall, not caring about the water hitting his face when a rough thump rubbed over the head of his erection, drawing an almost startled moan from his throat that echoed off the bathroom walls.

Their hips were grinding against each other and fingers roamed across the other's body in order to feel as much as possible.

The Syrian's mouth had long since found its way to Desmond's neck, placing a few butterfly kisses there before sucking harder on the heated flesh to leave his mark. The breath brushing against his wet skin threatened to burn him and the places the man's lips were locked onto burned and tingled, the sensation spreading through his chest downwards to gather in his stomach.

The intense pleasure that surged through his body made him dizzy.

"A-Altair. I'm-" his breathless warning was cut off when a pair of lips was pressed against his own once more and a tongue explored everywhere it could reach, successfully swallowing Desmond's next moan as he arched his back and spent himself into the other's hand and their stomachs with the taller man following right after.

The evidence was quickly washed away while both of them still catched their breath and Desmond could have melted right then by the way the older man gazed down at him like he was the most precious thing in the world.
Without another word but one more lazy kiss shared between them they got out of the shower and Altair helped him get dressed before Desmond finally broke the silence.

"Sorry." 

The older man only looked at him in question.

"For being all awkward... I guess. I mean about... uhm... us." he nervously shifted from one foot to the other.

"What excatly do you mean?"

"Well, I get nervous easily and awkward. I'm not used to... this. I never had time for relationships and with all this shit happening never thought it would actually happen. I feel..." he paused.

"...scared?"

"Yeah..." he hung his head, and he wondered where he had gotten this habit.

"Our circumstances are... unsual. This situation is new for you... as it is for us and trust me I was confused, I was scared but I had a long time to think things through."

They walked together to the sink, Altair carefully unwrapping the other's bandages as he spoke and Desmond listened.

"What may have been merely days, weeks or months for you were years for me. You are thinking that you will lose us after doing something wrong because you have told yourself that these feelings you hold are in vain for so long. You fear to loose the things you thought to never have. But is that not what makes it worth the risk? You strife for happiness because it is worth it even when it only lasts for a moment."

Desmond thought he had known the man quite well but now he was sure he knew not nearly enough. He didn't know the other could be so gentle and those words melted his heart in a way that he thought must be the way Ezio always woed the ladies.

"Becca said something similar when she told me to finally speak to you two."

He hissed in pain when Altair held the stump under the water and cleaned it carefully. Desmond catched the man eying the red, ugly looking patch of skin that once was his finger and wondered what he was thinking about as he seemed to be lost in thought. The finger was not cut of very cleanly. Even clean and without all the blood it still looked disgusting. Desmond couldn't look at it for long before a strange kind of dizziness started to overcome him.

"Ezio and I. We were both searching for you. Even though knowing what I had to leave behind, I made up my mind and came to this time to be by your side."

Altair's other hand came up to carress Desmond's cheek and Altair stopped his motions to lean down and lock their lips together in a chaste touch of lips before pulling away reluctantly.

"So do not think that there would be anything you could say or do that would make us leave you again."

At this point Desmond couldn't even descripe how much he loved these two. He had been so scared of loosing them, still was, but he shouldn't let that get in his way to be as close to them as possible for the time being because there was not much time left until the date the world was supposed to end.


-
-


"You really took your time." Ezio pouted at them as Desmond and Altair entered the bedroom. "Do not think you can have him all to yourself, old man." he said warningly to Altair.

"I'm barely older than you." the Syrian countered with his arms crossed over his chest.

Desmond chuckled so Ezio turned his attention to the younger Assassin, cupping the other's face with both hands.

"Are you alright, Desmond? I was worried when you suddenly ran out."

"I'm fine, Ezio, really."

And Desmond smiled. Really smiled. It was strange to genuinely smile instead of the half hearted smiles he showed most of the time.

Ezio's eyes went wide.

"Mio dio!" he whispered before turning to the oldest Assassin with accusing eyes. "What did you do to him, old man?"

Altair frowned.

"What are you talking about?"

Ezio didn't answer however. He instead growled out something unintelligibly before pressing his lips to the smaller man's and taking his lower lip between his teeth, eliciting a pained yelp from Desmond.

"Mi dispiace. That smile was just irresistable." the Italian grinned at him before his expression turned a bit more serious. "Rebecca was just here. Your father wishes to speak with you."

The younger man's face immidiately fell, much to Ezio's dismay. Desmond sighed.

"Well then let's not let him wait any longer."

The three of them marched down the stairs and into, what you might call a main hall to find only Shaun, Rebecca and William working there.

William Miles looked up from his paper he was reading to stare into Desmond's eyes, seemingly void of emotion but at a closer look one could see the man's eyes scanning over his son's body before they softened just a tad.

"Hello, son."

"Hey, dad."

Desmond shifted his weight a bit awkwardly. He hadn't seen his father since he had run away from the farm. They had talked with each other on the phone occassionally when Lucy had called him because of business with the brotherhood. It was mostly his father asking if he was doing fine because he knew that's what a father was supposed to ask in that situation.

"How do you feel?" the Mentor asked and Desmond thought this was the first time he ever experienced his father being concerned.

"My... hands still hurt quite a bit when Shaun's wonder drug wears off but otherwise I'm fine."

Inwardly he laughed at himself. He was not fine at all but it's not like whining in front of his dad would change anything.

William in turn raised a questioning eyebrow at the Brit. Shaun only shrugged innocently.

"I'm sure you were informed that we won't use the Animus for now. I don't support using that dangerous artifact instead of the Animus but on the other hand I'm glad you can heal up and we could safe time.

"So, do we know what we're searching for at least?" Desmond asked.

"More or less. Some of our Assassins found a temple of sorts, an remnant of the First Civilization but it seems to be locked. We need a key."

"And as we know those guys the key could look like everything." he finished his father's sentence. It was true that the First Cilivization had a habit of making simple objects totally strange looking.

"Unfortunatelly, yes. But that is what we want the Apple to show us."

"The only question is, will it work?"

"If it doesn't we have no choice but to use the Animus again." William feel silent right after as the two time travelling Assassins stepped in front of Desmond, glaring at the Mentor with a warning that they will not let Desmond go back in.

"Okay." was all Desmond had to say. He wasn't surprised by his father's words. It was a fact that the Animus was, apart from the Apple, the only way to help them stop the catastrophe that stood before them. "What now?"

"I would have prefered you to rest up some more but we're running out of time, especially if the Apple won't work so we will test it out immidiately."

Desmond nodded as he followed his father, with his two lovers in tow.

The crew sat together on the table, each looking more uneasy than the other. There were, apart from from the usual team, other Assassins sitting on the table that Desmond hadn't seen before. Probably some high ranking guys.

"Let us hope this is not going to kill us all." one of the Assassins said with a gruff voice.

The Apple was placed on the table. Everyone looked expectantly at Desmond. He took a deep breathe before nervously reaching for the orb.

As soon as his skin touched the cold metal a bright light emerged from it and illuminated the entire room. Everyone held up their arms in order to shield their eyes.

When they all dared to look again the eyes of those that were not used to seeing First Civilization "magic" went wide. Where the Apple still emitted a faint light towards the ceiling was a picture or hologram floating before them. It was a small area that looked like a farm with a big house.

Desmond's eyes went wide and he let out a sound of surprise.

"I know that building!"

"You do?" his father raised an eyebrow at him.

"Yeah, that's uh... Davenport Manor or what's it called. I've seen it many times in Connor's memories."

"Appearently Connor lived there with a man named Achilles Davenport, who had been Mentor of the Colonial Brotherhood back then." Shaun, as always, had all information Desmond had gathered in the Animus memorized.

"Can we be sure that what we're searching for is actually there? It didn't show us any specific location of an item." William asked with a worried tone.

"Unfortunately not."

William heaved a big sigh before pinching the bridge of his nose because of the upcoming headache. He glanced at his son and when their eyes met he kept staring at Desmond as if heavily contemplating something before turning towards the rest of the group.

"Fine. We will immidiately depart and search that area thoroughly. Let us hope this is not a total waste of time."

With that everyone hurridly got ready to depart. They made their way to the aiport to take the earliest flight they could get.

The team consisted of Desmond, William, Shaun, two other Assassins and of course Ezio and Altair, because they would never let Desmond leave with the idiot Brit, his dad and two strangers alone.

At the airport Desmond kept glancing at his father while walking close behind him. It was on instinct. He didn't like places like these. Too much "security" managed by Abstergo around.

When they slowed down because they were waiting for their belongings to get checked, Desmond took the chance to talk to William.

"Earlier you... you were contemplating if we should take this risk or have me go back in the Animus, right?"

William only hummed to show him that he acknowledged what he said but not really agreeing. He didn't need to.

"Thanks for deciding that my life is worth the risk for you."

The older man stopped walking and turned towards his son. His old eyes held a strange sort of determination.

"You are my son. Your life is always worth more than anything to me, Desmond. It's just that this is not only about us. The existence of whole humanity is at stake. But I will not regret the choice I made, regardless if we find what we're searching for or not."

Desmond just stared at his father, speechless. He never even dreamed of hearing such words from his dad. He heavily gulped down the lump in his throat.

That dream-like moment was interrupted by an alarming sound setting off behind them. Desmond whirled around to see Ezio standing there, confused and surrounded by security aiming weapons at him.

Don't tell me...

Chapter Text

Desmond didn't like planes. He hated them. He would even go as far as to say he hated them as much as he hated the Animus. There were too many people in such a tiny space and no escape route as soon as the plane would leave the ground. He couldn't take any weapons with him, either. It was the worst situation to be in as an Assassin.

He let himself be reassured by the presence of his father on his left and Altair seated on his right, who had his eyes closed and his arms crossed over his chest. To others it may have looked calm or as if the man was sleeping but Desmond knew the man too well by now. He took notice of the way the other's jaw clenched and he squirmed slightly in his seat from time to time. He took deep breathes through his nose in order to calm himself and Desmond knew the man was not far from freaking out. As amusing as it would be to see the great Altair actually freaking out because of an airplane, they couldn't have that happening now so Desmond shifted in his seat to bump his leg against the other man's in a subtle gesture of comfort. He thought it wasn't much but apparently it calmed the older man's nerves down enough to make his breathing even out and he visibly relaxed his jaw.

It was kind of cute Desmond thought. He didn't know such a small gesture would be able to calm the fearsome Assassin down so easily. He just wished Ezio was with them, too. That idiot had smuggled a hidden dagger with him and the alarm at the airport went off.

“As if I would wander into enemy territory without a blade.” he had pouted afterwards when the two Assassins that were with them stayed back with the Italian to take care of the trouble.

So now it was only him, Shaun, Altair and William. At least he had only one master Assassin to calm down.

 


 

The journey to Davenport was a quiet one and Desmond was thankful for that. He was still recovering from everything that happened and a few moments of quiet was doing him good. Of course Shaun couldn't go for long without sarcastic remarks here and there but Desmond knew the Brit was holding back and he appreciated that.

They progressed slowly in the snow that littered the ground in an almost artificial way. Desmond took a look around while they walked through the trees. It was a weird feeling to be walking this path he came to know through someone else's memories as if they were his own. When Davenport Manor came into view he almost expected Achilles, Connors Mentor, to walk through the door to meet him. They stopped in front of the building and William turned towards the Brit.

“Shaun, you and Desmond will take a look around the house.” he ordered before he turned to Altair.”The both of us will take a look inside.”

With that William whirled around to step inside, certain the other would follow. When Altair was showing no signs of moving though, the Mentor slowly turned around with a frown. 

“I will not leave Desmond’s side.” Altair straightened his back when William stepped right in front of him to challenge him with a glare that barely rivaled the sharp, almost yellow glowing gaze of Altair Ibn-La'Ahad.

While Desmond stared at the two men silently battling each other, he felt a warm tingling feeling spread through his stomach at Altair’s words.

William held the other man's gaze a bit longer until he closed his eyes and sighed.

“Fine. Shaun, with me.” and with that he turned again and disappeared into the building. Shaun followed with a confused ‘Yes, Sir.’

Desmond smiled at Altair as he felt pride well up inside him for the man. He'd never seen anyone stand up to his father's icy glare before. But he had to admit that being genuinely glared at by Altair was way scarier than his dad could ever be.

He could see the corners of the other man's lips barely twitch up into what would've probably been a smirk. And Desmond had to bite his lip in order not to laugh at the obvious pride the other took in having won a battle against his father.

The master Assassin arched a brow at him.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. Just never saw anyone stand up to my dad.” he smiled at the other and they started walking, examining the area around the house.

“He does not approve of my presence. Especially not near you.” he could practically hear the frown in Altair’s voice. Desmond shrugged.

“Not like I care. He hasn't been there for me my entire life. He has no right to butt into my life now and decide what's good for me. Not after sticking me into the Animus.”

“So I'm good for you?” there was definitely a smirk in that low voice.

He stopped walking to turn towards the other man and raise a brow at him.

“Are you… flirting with me?”

“I'm trying.”

Desmond chuckled when he saw the usually scowling Assassin flush over his attempt at flirting.

“You're really bad at it.”

“I'm not as used to it as the feathered idiot.” his face was void of any emotion but Desmond knew he was pouting before his lips formed a light smirk and honey colored eyes narrowed at him. “I did impress you, though.”

Deamond grinned back at the prideful Assassin that was now his lover, reveling in the feeling of being loved and wanted by the two most impressive men in the world.

“That you did. I think my dad's scared of you now.”

They came to a halt when Desmond spotted the snow covered grave of which he knew belonged to Achilles Davenport and something in the back of his mind sparked and made him move.

He knelt down in front of the grave.

“Thanks for always taking care of Connor.” he almost whispered as he fondly smiled at the wooden cross that made the grave. It almost felt like he personally knew the man that was like a father to his ancestor.

After taking a breath of the freezing air he cleared the earth in front of the grave of the snow before starting to dig with his hands.

“Excuse me for a bit. I think Connor left something with you for me.” it felt like he was offending the man resting here with his actions but there was no other choice. He cleared his mind off these thoughts when his fingers hit something hard and he pulled his hands free, now holding a weirdly shaped amulet of sorts made of some kind of metal that shimmered similar to the Apple.

“Considering how weird it looks I imagine this is the key we've been looking for.” he informed Altair who only hummed in response. When he wanted to pocket the amulet he flinched as the metal suddenly burned in his hands. He let the amulet fall, the snow around it evaporating with the heat though Desmond ignored it as an intense burning sensation spread throughout his entire arm that had been holding the artifact.

He clutched at his arm as he sank to his knees, failing to stifle a pained cry. Altair crouched down beside him in a hurry to pull up Desmond's sleeve. Desmond opened his eyes he had been squeezing shut to look down at his arm where now strange glowing symbols have been engraved that covered his entire arm. He shared a confused look with the other man, who had his eyebrows drawn together in concern.

“I'm fine now.” he insured before the other could ask. They got up from the ground, Altair staying close, his hands hovering over the other's body in case he had to offer support.

“Don't!“ Desmond cried out in panic when Altair bent over to pick up the artifact. The man stopped to look up at the other's panicked voice.

“We don't know what it will do to you. It's better if I take it. I don't think it will do any more damage to me.” he tried to reason. Even though Altair was also able to handle the pieces of Eden they couldn't be sure that nothing would happen. After all Desmond was in the same situation.

Altair stared at him for several seconds before hesitantly nodding. Desmond crouched down to carefully pick up the piece up from where it had sunk into the snow. When nothing seemed to happen they both breathed a sigh of relief before Desmond pulled his sleeve back down and headed back to the front of the building to get the rest of the group.

“Did you find anything?” came his father's voice from the front door as the Mentor just stepped outside with Shaun in tow.

Desmond held up the key to show them. William nodded and pulled out his phone to inform the others back home that they got what they needed and were on their way back.

“Altair.” the Mentor called and everyone stopped to look back at him. Altair understood the older man wanted to speak alone and gave a nod to Desmond and Shaun to continue without them.

When they were out of earshot the Mentor spoke.

“I trust you will keep Desmond away from harm.” the unspoken threat wasn't missed by Altair.

“That's a given.” his voice was void of any emotion and it was obvious the younger Assassin wanted to say more but decided against it.

“No, it's not. That's why I'm telling you this. I don't trust you or Ezio. I know about the both of you from the recorded memories and we're still not sure how and why you are here and most importantly why you have been sticking to Desmond like moths to the light.” William's voice lowered dangerously with every word and his eyes tried to pierce a hole through the other man.

Altair scowled.

“It is none of your business.” he said slowly.

“He's my son, everything concerning him is my business.” he growled.

“You claim that and yet, from what I heard, that did not seem to be the case until now.” Altair countered unimpressed.

He knew he was right and by the flinch in the other man's features as his eyes softened he knew the Mentor knew, too. Neither of them spoke for a while until Altair sighed.

“I don't think you realize how much that boy means to us. So long as it's in my power, I will let no harm befall him. And I can assure you Ezio will do the same.”

Without waiting for the other to speak again, Altair turned and followed after the rest of the group to return home.

Back in the airplane Desmond wondered what his dad and Altair were talking about but he didn't want to ask. He was also pretty sure it was just William going all Mentor again.

They had more important matters to attend to right now anyway.

Stopping the end of the world for example.

 


 

When they landed after a quiet flight, they instantly knew that something was wrong. Desmond felt a prickling sensation in his neck as if he was being watched. As they made their way to the exit it seemed like the people around them tried to purposely block them to slow them down.

This was bad. Desmond was pretty sure the security standing on guard around here was long since replaced by Abstergo. Even though he knew what he was going to see he turned on his eagle vision and he sucked in a breathe through his teeth at the wall of red they were marching towards.

He glanced over to Altair, whose eyes shown golden, his lips pressed into a thin line. Of course he was aware of the situation but even the great Master Assassin knew they wouldn't stand a chance against this many without any weapons.

They neared the scanner and dread settled in Desmond stomach as a thought came to his mind. He had the amulet in his pocket. They would know what it is the moment the alarm went off.

His eyes scanned for a way out but didn't find any. Did his dad have a plan? Had Altair already found an escape route? He tried to calm his hammering heart that threatened to break his ribcage and balled his trembling hands into fists at his side, his fingernails breaking the skin.

A rough, warm hand suddenly grabbed his in a calming caress in order to loosen the death grip on his own hand.

“As soon as I'm through, run as fast as possible towards the exit. Do not worry about anything else.” Altair told him in a low, soothing whisper.

“W-What? But-”

He doubted he could just outrun all of them. There were so many. Did Altair and his father plan on staying back to hold them back while he ran?

Altair gazed straight into his eyes.

“I will not let them take you.” his determined tone left no room for argument but it wasn't really himself Desmond was worried about here.

He wanted to speak but they already reached the dreaded destination and Altair gave his hand one last squeeze before stepping through. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Desmond stepped through the scanner. He took a deep breath and braced himself before taking off with a sprint, his legs moving so fast he feared he'd trip. Behind him he heard people scream and yell, gunshots ringing out. He knew Shaun was right behind him. He knew his dad and Altair were fighting to buy time so they could escape.

He flew through the masses, careless of the people he pushed to the ground along the way. He could see the exit but two men armed with something similar to a police stick guarded the entrance and readied themselves for battle when they saw the two fleeing Assassins come their way.

When Desmond reached one of them the guy struck with the rod and Desmond could feel electricity crackle around the weapon, sending a tingling feeling along his face when he ducked backwards and used his momentum to slide over the floor through the man's spread legs gave a hard jab against the hollow of his knee. The guard grunted in surprise and fell to his knees. Giving Shaun, who avoided a swing of the second guard, time to jump over the first while using him as a shield for the other.

Desmond winced at the freezing air that hit his face as soon as he passed the doors. He scanned the area and quickly spotted a black van waiting not far from them. Its door opened and Ezio was crouching inside, urging them to hurry and the two didn't waste any time to make their way over. Behind him Desmond heard gunshots being fired at them and he reflexively ducked his head but didn't slow down. He saw the bullets imprint themselves into the van and he was barely aware of the burning in his arm as he jumped with almost full force into Ezio, followed by Shaun and they were moving even before the doors were shut.

“Wait! What… what about… Altair? And dad?“ Desmond was wheezing as his lungs burned and his legs throbbed. Beside him Shaun was in an even worse state.

“They'll meet up with us at our destination.” Rebecca answered from her position in the driver's seat, her eyes focused on the road.

“You say that so easily. Have you seen how many there were? Those two have no weapons with them!”

“Calm down, amore mio. ” Ezio spoke softly as his hand cupped his cheek and rubbed his thumb over his cheekbone soothingly. “They will be fine. Altair will come back to you.” he trailed off in a whisper as the last sentence was only meant to be heard by Desmond while he leaned forward to rest his forehead against Desmond's. Ezio knew Desmond's biggest fear right now was to loose either of them. The nightmares that plagued the boy  after his return from the hands of the Templars spoke volumes.

“You're hurt.” the Italian’s voice almost startled him from his relaxed state from the soothing ministrations. He looked down at his arm where he felt a slight burn.

“Ah, yeah. A bullet must've grazed me earlier.” he shrugged. It didn't really hurt that much and it was barely bleeding. If anything the slight burn and throbbing was keeping him grounded right now.

“You guys can get comfortable and rest up. It'll still be a while until we're there.” Rebecca informed them.

“How long? “ the Brit asked.

“A few hours."

 


 

The loud rattling of the van's doors startled him from his sleep. He pried open his heavy eyelids and looked up from his position against the Italian. His upper body was pressed into the other man's side while his head had rested on the other's shoulder. Ezio had an arm draped around him to secure him.

When they were all out of the van they didn't walk long before they encountered the entrance to their destination that looked like a cave. Cold, dark, uninviting and easy to miss, especially in all the snow that hit half of the opening. Not surprising that no one found it until now. The interior looked totally different from what you'd expect. There wasn't really any place you could compare this to. It were remainings of the first civilization so it could have been everything but if Desmond had to take a guess he'd say it was probably some sort of temple.

Everything was made of stone or steel. Strange glowing lines crept along the platforms and walls that seemed to sing with a weird energy. It's absurd to think that places like these are much older than most castle ruins. So old and still so beautiful. Not beautiful in a way like flowers were but more in a way that it was so other worldly that it was beautiful. But it was also dangerous. Desmond felt like he didn't belong here. This place told a story long forgotten. He could almost hear the whispers in the walls surrounding them and it made his head throb painfully.

He heard Shaun whisper to himself in awe while they treated carefully. From everything that belonged to the first civilization you expected the worst to happen. He glanced back to his covered, marked arm that started to throb as soon as they entered this place. It didn't bode well with him.

While the team wandered around the place to inspect Desmond sat down with his back against the stone wall near the entrance. The pain in his arm had grown stronger with every step he took further into the cavern. He was so sick of all that first civilization magic bullshit. He felt like he was stuck in some fantasy RPG or something, now he even got some magic rune thingies stuck on his arm like some chosen one. Great. If he was at least allowed to save and load whenever something went to hell he would've taken it gratefully.

He sighed as he raked his fingers through his hair, it had gotten longer, some strands were almost fallen into his eyes.

“Are you worried still? About Altair and your father?” Ezio inquired as he settled beside him Desmond had been so lost in thought he didn't even notice him approaching.

He just shrugged. Of course he was but that was not the only thing he worried about.

“You are hurt?”

Desmond looked at him with a frown to ask him why he thought that.and the man pointed at his marked arm.

“You have been clutching at your arm since before.”

Damn Assassins and their observational skills.

“It's nothing.” he looked at the other's face and the expression the Italian showed clearly said ‘Don't fuck with me.’. He sighed again and rolled up his sleeve. Ezio practically glared at the strange markings and reached out his hand but stopped himself from touching, afraid he might hurt the other, and instead let his hand hover over the marked flesh.

“What are these? What happened?” his voice was demanding.

“We're not sure. One moment I was holding the key and the next it turned hot and then these markings appeared.”

The frown on the Italians face only deepened.

“They hurt?”

“They did at first. It didn't hurt anymore until we came down here though. The pain seems to grow stronger the deeper I go.” he explained.

“And you didn't think about telling us because?” a gruff voice demanded from the entrance.

Relief flooded his body at seeing William and Altair walk towards them. They didn't seem to be injured.

Desmond didn't answer directly. He had no excuse to give so he ignored it as he stood up.

“I assume that whatever the key opens is further inside and that when I get closer to it the key reacts. I don't think it will do any harm.” and he might have almost believed himself.

“Yes, because the artifacts of the first civilization are known for being harmless.”

It was rare to see his dad being sarcastic. To be honest he didn't remember ever seeing it at all and he thought that maybe this was a sign of him being worried for Desmond's wellbeing.

“What's done is done. I doubt we have the time to find a solution for that now.”

His father sighed before stepping in front of him to place a strong hand on his shoulder and squeezed. If to comfort his son or himself Desmond wasn't sure. Maybe both. William then left after telling him he was going meet up with the rest of the team and he could rest for a while until they figured out how to proceed from here on out.

Desmond looked after his dad before closing his eyes and heaved a loud sigh. He was so damn tired.

He opened his eyes to look at Altair, who gazed back at him with his eyes folded over his chest, and stepped in front of the man.

“Spread your arms.” Desmond ordered with a tired voice. Altair looked back at him with a raised brow but complied nonetheless.

Desmond then took one last step forward to press his body close to the other and circled his arms around a muscular back. His forehead rested on the other's shoulder as a content sigh left his lips. The taller man didn't hesitate to close his arms around him, one hand in his neck, caressing the skin and playing with his hair. He felt a third hand join them, raking slowly through his hair on the top of his head.

He didn't know a simple hug could heal his exhausted soul so well. They should stop producing antidepressants and instead make hugs for therapy a thing.

A low chuckle vibrated through the chest he was pressed against. Oh. Had he said that out loud? Oh well. He was too content right now to worry about that.

 


 

He rested again on the floor against the stone wall with Ezio and Altair at either side of him, each of his hands intertwined with one rough hand of each man. His piece was interrupted by Lucy showing up.

“Desmond. It's time. Come have a look.” she said and waited for him and the other two to join her before they headed further inside. The slight throbbing in his arm turned into a slight burn when he came to stand where the rest of the team had gathered.

His father looked at him.

“Today is the last day. If we can't stop it today…” he didn't finish. He didn't have to. They all knew that if they failed today, the world would burn.

It felt unreal. There had never been a sign on earth for what was to come. It would be mere seconds before the end that people would even take notice of something being wrong. Would he not know what he knew and had he not seen what he had, then he would, like most people on this planet, not believe that anything was wrong at all.

“What do we have to do?” he asked.

“There.” it was Shaun who pointed at a half transparent wall made of some sort of energy. Behind it was a pedestal with an indent that looked as if something was supposed to be placed there. “I assume that we have to place the Apple there.”

Together they approached the gate like wall and with every step the pain in Desmond's arm intensified. His hand balled into a fist and he was panting by the time they reached the wall of energy.

There was no keyhole of any sort to open it, only several glowing lines, that looked similar to the ones on his arm and connected to a small round structure in the middle. Without thinking twice Desmond stepped forward and slapped his marked hand on the suspicious surface. He just wanted the pain to stop.

The wall pulsed and sang before it slowly dissolved into several particles and with just a shared look the group continued on with Desmond at the front. When he crossed the border where the wall had been though, the rest of them were pushed back by an invisible wave if energy and by the time Desmond whirled around in shock the same wall separated him from the rest.

He searched for the structure that had functioned as a keyhole but there was nine this time. He put his marked hand against the wall anyway but it was in vain. He watched with growing dread as his team scrambled back to their feet and Altair and Ezio were already at the wall again, desperately  searching for a way to reach Desmond. He saw their lips move though he didn't know what was being said. He shook his head to signal them he couldn't hear them.

He sighed in defeat as he made his way towards the pedestal with tense shoulders. His arm still throbbed painfully and it only got worse as he neared his goal.

“Come” he heard a whisper surround him."Yes... come..."

As he came to stand in front of the altar that waited for the Apple to be placed the pain in his arm was unbearable and he had to support himself with a hand on the cold pedestal, sweat trickling down his temple.

"Here... at last..." A figure appeared out of nowhere. A familiar hologram like image of a woman staring straight at Desmond. Her black hair seemed to float as if underwater, her white gown doing the same.

"Juno." he breathed out more to himself.

He saw the woman before but he didn't really know anything about her.

“Desmond.” she greeted. He couldn't read the emotion in her voice nor in her eyes. “We have reached the end yet again. This is the second time I watch the world's impending end draw near. Last time, we tried. We failed.” her voice echoed through the air and the walls as she stepped closer to Desmond.

"All our hopes extinguished..." she stopped in front of him at the opposite side of the pedestal. "Except for one." Her hand hovered over the indent. "The forbidden fruit and your touch, a spark. A spark to save the world." she smiled at him expectantly but something about it made a cold shiver run down his spine.

"Wait." Came another voice that was impossible to pinpoint the direction of and another woman came into sight. Minerva. He knew her from several memories. She had helped them more than once throughout history.

"Do not touch the pedestal." She ordered Desmond.

"You... but how?" Yuno sounded surprised to see her.

Desmond just stared at them. He wanted to yell at them to hurry it up and make choice. To tell him what he was supposed to do but it took him everything to concentrate on the conversation with the brain wracking pain in his arm. He had no energy to formally words now.

"You must not free her." Minerva told him in an almost desperate manner. What were they even talking about? Free who? He was only here to fucking stop the planet from burning, nothing else.

"Juno dwells within these walls, awaiting release."

At the confused look Desmond sent her she started to explain.

"While we worked to save the world, she sought, instead, to conquer it." She circled around Juno, speaking with hatred in her voice. "She used our machines to set her plans in motion. When we discovered her treachery, we put a stop to it." She turned to Desmond again as she spoke. "And then we left. But first we called to you... That you might try again. We thought it would be safe with her gone." Her eyes, so full of hatred,  were directed at Juno once more, who didn't return the eye contact. "Now I see we were deceived."

"I had hoped you might find this place and finish our work. But it is too late. You and the Templars have squabbled over our refuse. You have wasted centuries. And so you have lost your chance. You cannot hope to stop the end now, Desmond. Only to survive it."

So all this was for nothing? He himself has witnessed for how long the fight between Assassins and Templars was going on and everyone always thought it was the right way to win this war. No. It hadn't been about the war to begin with.

"She's lying!” Juno spat. “Only place the Apple in the pedestal and the world will be saved!" Juno’s eyes burned into him.

"Better the world burn than she be loosed upon it." Minerva reasoned against her.

"Is that so?" Juno spat mockingly back at her. "Show him then."

"But he will not understand." She argued before turning to Desmond once more. "It is complicated... it is..."

"Show me." He cut her off. It was complicated to begin with. His entire life was a complicated mess since he left the farm. This was about a decision he had to make so he needed to know the truth.

Suddenly images of was to come, depending on Desmond's decision, were flashing in front of his eyes. The voice of Juno guiding him.

"If you heed Minerva the sun will have its way. The ground will crack and spit fire into the sky. The world will burn. But this does not end the world, merely heralds its arrival. Darkness follows. Then you emerge... Resolving to lay a foundation that such a tragedy does not befall the world again. You will become a symbol to those who survive. Hope. Knowledge. Determination. You will inspire them to rebuild. And as the world heals, so too will humanity. But you are just a man. Frail and mortal. You pass from the world, leaving behind only a memory. You will be remembered first as a hero. Later as a legend. And in time... As a god. It is the cruelest fate. To have written words that meant well and see them made wicked and unwise. What was meant to encourage life, used instead to justify taking it. So tell me. How is this better?"

The pictures vanished from as fast as they had appeared, bringing him back to reality where Juno stepped forward to stand in front of Desmond once more.

"She would sacrifice you, sacrifice the world for no other reason than to deny me vindication." Now it was Minerva's turn to step forward. "They will enslave your kind, Desmond. Is this not why you fight? Is this not why you came here? To ensure more than just your race's future, but its freedom?"

"What future? What freedom? Billions dead and the whole cycle begun anew? This world has known nothing but heartache and horror since we left it."

"Enough!!" Desmond yelled at the both of them. Not being able to take any more of their arguments anymore.

"You must not do this!" Minerva advised one last time.

He had to think. It was true that all they were fighting for was freedom. Those centuries of war, blood and death was for freedom. And yet here they were, about to either start life on this planet anew or to give up what they were fighting for all this time. Was this not why he had left the farm? Because he wanted freedom? To not be confronted with complicated things? And yet here he was, having to decide what shall happen with this world and the people in it.

He looked back over his shoulder towards his anxiously waiting group, his family. Shaun stood with his arms folded in front of him, shifting from one leg onto the other nervously. Lucy and Rebecca stood together but further away from the group. His father and the two Master Assassins stood at the gate, their eyes trained on him. He couldn't see the emotions playing through them from this distance but he had a good guess as to how they might feel right now.

His eyes landed on the ground. There was only one choice to make. His life was a small price to pay for the world to remain mostly as it was now. Their freedom would be taken away from them eventually, but they would find a way to retrieve it. They've been fighting for it for thousands of years. What difference would a few more years make.

There was something holding him back though. The two Assassins he came to know - to love - merely through watching their memories. Why had they come to this time? Had they not appeared in front of him and cared for him then he would have already made his decision. He didn't want their time together to end.

A thought came to mind and gulped down the lump in his throat before he turned to Minerva.

“Did you bring those two here?” the question was quite vague but he knew the goddess understood.

She nodded.

“Why?” he breathed out as his voice cracked.

“Because I needed to ensure your arrival. I had to make sure you would not break on your way here and give up.”

He felt used and what's even worse, he knew it was because of him that those two lost the lives they had back in their time. Their home, friends, family. Everything . Just so he would make it to this point.

He didn't fight the tears that burned in his eyes and let them roll freely down his cheeks as he shifted his bag and took out the orb with his unmarked hand. He looked down at the seemingly innocent globe sit in his hand as if it was not the cause for thousands of years of war and death.

“It is almost time. Make your choice.” Juno urged.

“Can…” he cleared his throat to steady his trembling voice as he looked at Minerva. “Can you send them back?”

“Is that what you truly wish for?” she asked.

“I wish I could live together with them for the rest of my life. But that's not possible, so yeah.”

'It's for the best.' He thought.

If he can't make them happy then he wants them to find happiness in the world they belong and forget about him.

“No, I can not.” Minerva suddenly answered. And Desmond's stomach dropped.

“Then why did you-”

“Desmond!!”

A desperate cry of his name interrupted him as he saw the sprint towards him with the rest of the team in tow. He looked back at Minerva and Juno in shock as he quickly placed the orb on the altar with his marked hand and the choice was set in stone. As soon as it made contact Desmond cried out in agony as the marks on his arm pulsed and burned as if the blood in his veins were turned into lava. He wanted to take his hand off the orb but it was as if an invisible force held him in place. He couldn't hear anything but his own screams and a shrill ringing in his ears. His vision was blinded by light and tears and he vaguely registered the smell of burned flesh. It felt like hours until his suffering finally ended and he was grateful for the numbness that took over his body. He wanted to open his eyes but all was black. The smell of burned flesh had stopped and in his ears was only a whisper.

“You have done well. Rest now.”

 

To be continued…