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Altair gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as he stood on the adjacent roof to the assassin’s bureau in Jerusalem. The sun was setting behind him, casting his shadow out in front of him so it gently kissed the sides of the lattice entrance to the sanctuary. Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes and slowly exhaled, flexing his fingers out of their tight curl. He knew it was getting late and he needed to seek refuge in the courtyard of the bureau, but he couldn’t make his feet move.

He knew it was silly, petty, even ridiculous that the Grand Master of the assassins felt the need to hide from the resident Dai of Jerusalem, but he couldn’t stop himself from fleeing when Malik’s taunts became too much to bare. Nothing he did seemed to satisfy Malik’s expectations. No matter what he tried, how hard he worked – quickly and efficiently. He was always whipped by the Dai’s sharp tongue. Where the word ‘novice’ had never bothered him before, wielded by Malik – it was as if he was being stabbed in the heart. Repeatedly.

He was not one to back down from a challenge however Altair felt he had given his all in trying to redeem himself in Malik’s eyes. He recognised his wrong doings and strived every day to make up for his young foolish ways and shortfalls. However, with a sinking heart, he felt that he had nothing more to give, yet still everything to prove. Yes, Malik had said he had nothing to be sorry for, that he was not the same man he had gone into Solomon’s Temple with; however the hard words were a habit Malik had yet to break.

With a determined grunt Altair moved, jumping to the lattice entrance. He paused with a grimace as his bruised ribs protested the action. It served him right for getting distracted by Malik’s taunts and not seeing the Templar until he literally ran into him, but he certainly would not admit such a mistake and give Malik more ammunition against him. Taking another deep breath, Altair gingerly dropped down into the courtyard of the bureau, relishing in the coolness that cloaked him instantly and was a blessing to his heated body.

Altair heard the steady scratching of a quill on papyrus stop followed by a sigh. “I was beginning to wonder just how long you were going to waste time staring at the bureau novice.” Altair grit his teeth. Of course Malik had known he had been standing outside. “And as if you haven’t wasted enough time causing a ruckus in the city already by your novice actions, you feel it a right to loiter with no intent.” Altair hung his head, shadowing his eyes under the hood.

“One less Templar in this city should please you brother.” Altair ground out; voice low. He could hear Malik scoff from his position of safety in the yard. “Please me it does but the means by which you carried out the process were not those of a Grand Master but a novice!” With clenched fists Altair stalked into the main room, making his way towards Malik who stood behind the desk having put a scroll away beneath it.

“Does nothing I do please you?” Altair asked with barely concealed exasperation, eyes beneath his hood focused on the Dai. “Are you again seeking me to reward you for actions that are expected Altair?” Malik asked meeting his gaze with a raised eyebrow. Altair shook his head and paced a little awkwardly in front of the desk as his ribs protested his movements. “No – but it seems that nothing I do – above and beyond the actions of Grand Master, Assassin…. Friend…. are ever enough. I-“

Altair stopped his pacing and speech as he found Malik before him blocking his path. “Are you injured?” Malik asked his voice flat and almost uncaring in tone. Altair paused, debating whether to dignify him with an answer. Malik made the decision for him by flicking his sole arm out with unerring accuracy and jabbing Altair in his bruised ribs. Altair grunted and backed away from the assault, raising his hands in defence. Malik however made not further move to attack him. “Strip to your breeches.” Malik demanded as he turned from a weary Altair and stalked into his back room.

Altair hesitated only a moment before shifting to work his hood and robes off, refusing to make a noise as his bruised ribs protested his moves again. He knew that Malik would take the opportunity to cause him more grief for his actions whilst treating him. He was beginning to wonder why he had come to Jerusalem. Was it worth the verbal slashing for a moment with the Dai? With his longest and closest friend? Seeing Malik enter the main chamber again and seeing the way his eyes moved over his form with barely concealed concern reassured Altair that yes, it was worth it.

“It is already bruising…” Malik commented softly, his eyes focusing on the purpling blossom on the right of Altair’s body. With firmer voice he continued, “Sometimes, you cannot be the Grand Master of everything. Come – sit on the cushions.” Altair followed Malik as they made their way into the cool courtyard. As Altair settled on the cushions in the corner, he watched as Malik locked up the bureau for the night.

“That has never been my intention.” Altair spoke softly as Malik settled next to him with herbs, balm and strappings. “However, I work hard in the positions I have. Even ones I did not ask for.” Malik raised an eyebrow at Altair and asked quietly. “Am I one of those positions Altair?” Altair wanted to groan in frustration. Malik had an uncanny ability to twist his words. “Do not twist my words Malik. You know you are not.” He took a sharp silent breath in as Malik gently rubbed a mix of herbs and balm on his wounded ribs. “Do I not satisfy you as a friend? A brother? Assassin or Grand Master? Am I not worthy of these titles in your eyes? Will I forever be a novice?”

Altair felt Malik’s hand falter against his chest. “What must I do to prove myself to you?” Altair asked as he gently reached up with one hand, wrapping around Malik’s wrist, stilling his actions. “What must I do,” Altair started, “to prove my worth to you.” It felt like an eternity to Altair before Malik lifted his eyes up from studying his grip on his wrist to meet his eyes. When he did Altair’s breath hitched for a different reason. There was a pain, written so clearly in Malik’s deep brown eyes, but there was longing too. Uncertainty and reluctance clear as day.

Altair swallowed and shifted forward, forehead resting against Malik’s in a daring move. “What must I do…?” He breathed in the scant space between them. Altair’s hand took in the flex of Malik’s hand against his hold and chest, and the way his breath hitched and tongue dart out to wet suddenly dry lips. “What would you do? Grand Master? Assassin? Brother? … Friend…?” A challenge set, Altair knew. What would he do to prove his worthiness of those titles to Malik? It was with a shocking clarity that Altair realised that he didn’t care what any other person thought. It was Malik and his thoughts that mattered. It had always been him.

“Anything.” Altair whispered softly, honestly, as he let his nose gently brush against the side of Malik’s and his free hand come to rest on the side of Malik’s face. It was in that instant that Malik seemed to crumble before him. “Love me.”

And just like that, they were upon each other - lips sliding firmly against each other, stealing breath yet breathing life between them. Pulling back a hairs breath Altair confessed, “I already do”. It took a moment before Malik responded to the confession with a growled, “Prove it Novice.” The confession caused a sharp spike to determination, stubbornness, and fondness to shoot up Altair’s spine before he readjusted his hold on Malik to push him back onto the cushions with a growl.

Altair’s hands instantly began roving over Malik’s body, searching for the ties to open the thick Dai robes. Malik grinned at Altair’s dogged determination as he efficiently attacked his robes, easily unfastening them and shifting them off of Malik’s shoulders as if they had been his own. Malik’s own hand was not idle since its release from Altair’s grip. Malik took the time to caress Altair’s heated skin, ghosting softly over his bruise which caused Altair to hiss and arch into his touch. Malik only raised an eyebrow as Altair offered a quirk of his lips before attaching them to Malik’s own.

Altair pushed his body upon Malik’s own, covering him and inserting himself firmly between Malik’s legs, causing them both to groan into the kiss as their still clothed crotches come into firm contact. Altair sets up a gently but firm rhythm, rutting against Malik as his lips trailed from lips, to jaw, to supple and tender neck. Malik groaned as Altair nipped and worried his skin, his hips bucking up urgently into Altair’s.

Whilst Malik’s hand gripped the back of Altair’s neck firmly, Altair worked one hand between them, intent on removing the rest of their clothing. Although not as skilled as Malik with just the one hand, he managed to remove the rest of their clothing without too much interference to his worshiping of Malik’s skin.

Altair took his time, worshiping Malik all over with kisses, nips, bites and sucks to his delicate, heated and at points over-sensitised flesh. Malik moaned Altair’s name and clung to him with a shaky arm as Altair prepared him reverently, and he in turn moaned Malik’s name when they finally joined together in the most intimate of ways. They moved together in harmony, pushing and pulling at each other, taking them closer to the edge until they both fell over the precipice and into each other’s waiting arms.

Altair rested on top of Malik, reluctant to give up the new found closeness. He smiled to himself as Malik seemed to read his mind and even in his tiered, blissed out state, made no effort to remove Altair form his resting place on him but instead used his arm to pull him that bit closer. “Have I proven myself Dai?” Altair asked, placing an almost hesitant kiss to the corner of Malik’s lips. Those same lips quirked into a half smile as he replied, “Know that I would follow no other, my Grand Master, brother, assassin and friend… However, I think you need more practice as my lover… Novice…”

For once, Altair did not mind the title, and did not contest it. He only proceeded to follow his Dai’s suggestion of practice immediately, and carried on well into the small hours of the morning.