Beta read by the stupendous swegm!

Notice: I can't believe my surgery's being delayed, but the doctors are still discussing my situation. I can be patient, but I really hate waiting. Again. *sighs*

Luckily, though. I'm back to writing and games again. (In hopes to battle this artist's block I've caught since my last check up.) And now, I've finished playing Black Flag and will use whatever the gameplay had showed me to write this fic some more.

(I just really hope I can finish this fic before the release date of AC: Unity. I've got catching up to do and now there are these new gen games a-coming. Dear Lord! TAT )

So, we're wrapping it up with Lucy, catching up with what's happening in the canon world of the living (with the remaining Assassins and the anonymous Subject 18', who is actually just a miscellaneous research analyst in the game) preparing for Desmond's Fourth 'guide'...and something SUPERCALAFRAGILISTIC EXPIALODOTIOUSLY CORNY in this chapter. *spazzes out repeatedly*

FYI, also, Gavin Banks is an Assassin and friend of William Miles, based on the canon timeline in Assassin's Creed Initiates. Do try to Google him up. This one chapter can't explain everything, you know! OeO Oooh, getting close to that big something at the end, folks! Just a few more chapters!

Read on~!


Interlude

The ship was swivering dangerously to port*, causing any items that weren't stashed or nailed to the floor to roll about his bunk. The shouts of crewmen and the howling winds could be heard up on deck, but Gavin gave little heed to those. Unless it turned into a typhoon, the S.S. Altair II didn't need his hands. Those two hands weren't quite busy, but they didn't seem of use at the moment.

His fingers roamed and traced around the worn-out leather jacket of the journal. It had been months now, but the image of poor Bill handing the book-his Codex, it seemed-to him with such lost and defeated eyes still tore at him, no matter how intensely he poked at the book. He had already opened and read some of its contents, but due to the dire state of the organization the world-round, he and his crew had little time to concentrate on what they knew William Miles wanted them to find. But what they had known from the Codex so far, they made use of.

The middle-aged man closed his eyes and reminisced mournfully. Bill** was back in his thoughts again, the same look of worry and anxiety lining his friend's hard face as he looked at a framed photograph he held in his hand. Said photograph had the image of a young boy, almost identical if Bill were his age, sporting a small grin to the camera that had taken the photograph. Who would have thought that same boy's sacrificial death in adulthood would have caused so much pain not only for the Miles family, but for all those who saw hope for the Brotherhood through that young man?

Gavin forced himself to open his eyes once more, and more images of all his comrades, fallen or torn inside by the struggle, flooded his mind. Frustrated, he leaned his elbows on the desk and rested his tired face in his hands. Bill, the entire organization's de facto leader after The Mentor was bitterly assassinated by Daniel Cross, was hit too hard with regret and futility to concentrate fully on the current assignments given. But he decided that at one instant, he didn't give a shit about that anymore, and so he left leadership to Gavin with a letter concerning his departure. The letter was still in a file organizer stored in a drawer of his desk. He could sadly remember the words the devastated father had written to him:

"I'm leaving, Gavin. This war has gone for long enough and I've had it. Desmond is dead. My life is shit. Use the Codex if needed, but I leave everything to you now."

I'm so sorry, Bill. If only we could've found a way, maybe none of this needed to happen..., the man thought grimly, as though his friend was as good as dead.

It was like the Osaka disaster all over again, when a Chinese mole for the Templars went and killed Kenichi Mochizuki, his mentor and friend. And now Bill was gone and isolated in self-imposed exile. It was up to Gavin to lead the remaining sectors of the organization, racing against time and the lack of influence to keep up the fight and hold together the worn out bonds of the surviving sectors. And if the previous mission of unearthing the Precursor site last December had torn at Bill, what more of himself as he attempted to regroup everyone?

Currently, the ship was sailing northwest of the Pacific en route toward the nearby Arctic Circle to escort the last surviving member of the Russian Brotherhood, a woman by the name Galina Voronina. Back at the Russian research facility months prior, the Assassins had suffered underfunding by the government-most likely due to Abstergo's threats-and everyone had become a test subject. Everyone. The overuse of their Animi had caused severe cases of the Bleeding Effect; if they didn't die from starvation and infections, then they were euthanized...

That was exactly what Galina had forced herself to do to her own mother.

Gavin frowned and slammed his hands harshly on the desk before pushing himself up, balancing carefully as the ship and its contents moved about. Grunting, he opened a drawer, grabbed the codex and stuffed it in before closing the things. Then, at the call of the captain's urgent instructions to his crew, he opened the door to his cabin and went out, yanking it shut behind him. Maybe the salty spray of the storm could rouse him from his worries... Shove reality back at his face.


Mutual Pardon

How long they had been in that sitting position, Desmond couldn't care less. At that moment, there were no mentions of Assassins or Templars. No further discussion about centuries worth of that backstage war. No more hurt exclamations of lost time. They just sat there, the energy of their souls informing that yes, they were there.

Some moments ago, Lucy had gently leaned her head on his arm, the Realm telling him that. And he knew there was still so much to discuss. Oh, he knew. But right now, he didn't pay heed to the questions bubbling in his mind. Because had it not led to any of it—the Doomsday deadline, Lucy's betrayal, Juno's manipulations—when they were alive, then maybe the two of them would have ended up in this position likewise.

Compared to all that had happened, he would have preferred that.

A conflicted sigh rose him from his comprehensions. Looking down at his arm, Lucy lifted her head out of his reach and she scooted away from him, her hand retreating back to support her as she leaned back slightly. The look she gave Desmond was...saddened? Relieved? Piteous? He couldn't say, but suddenly he wanted to go over and reassure her of something, which was exactly what his body had tried to do as he realized that he was already reaching out to Lucy. But the woman shook her head and gently pushed his hand away. She gave him a smile that tore at him.

"Everything alright, Luce?" he asked with concern. But it felt as though concerned him more than it did her.

As an answer, the blonde woman turned her head to face their "surroundings." It took Desmond the same turn of view to realize that they were back in the Lounge Room, the bright yellow tints and the chattering of other 'travellers' and 'guides' slowly becoming imminent again. After a few seconds, she turned back to him and said cheerfully, "Everything is more than alright, Des. I let you know more about myself, helping you understand your own shortcomings... And your own worth as well." Her smile was less confusing, the aura confirmed by her next words: "I'm...satisfied. Slightly happier, even."

Oh, right. Because she was one of those guides of his. He gave off a fond snicker at that. "Well, if you're happier, then that means you really wanted to see me." He paused, his own words sinking in deeper before he shook off the thought and continued. "Anywho, I'm glad I got to talk to you again. I just really wanted to clear things up. Doomsday didn't give me enough time to really get over everything."

He took in the view again and saw that the boxes they were sitting on were now two ottomans once more, and the table had appeared in front of them again. His eyes went back to Lucy, who leaned forward on the table as she looked back to him. As she spoke, her voice sounded matter-of-factly. "That's the beauty of this place: you can catch up with old friends you thought you would never see again. I'm speaking for the both of us."

That last bit she said made Desmond think... No. Or maybe she does... Out of the blue, a strange feeling of something passing came to him. Like he...Like he had to go.

"No... No, there's still so much I have to ask you. To...Tell you, and—Aw, shit," The man spurted out, his slur murmured as he felt the familiar glow of a portal or beam near him. It called out to him, asking him to stand up, which he did, and came to it like a mom to a toddler in a playground.

He refused to look at whatever mode of 'transcending' it may be and looked earnestly at Lucy. "I want to stay here. Just for a bit longer." Desmond thought he sounded like a beggar, but he didn't care. All he cared for was that Lucy Stillman, all angst and confusion banished, was once again facing him.

Then, for some reason, she clicked her tongue a few times as she leaned her head in one of her hands and chided, "Really, Desmond? I just heard from you minutes ago that this Realm could let you visit Altaïr ibn-L'Ahd and Ezio Auditore again. Don't you get it?" Her next words were between spurs. "It means this won't be the last 'session' you'll have with me. Ever."

The last word had such weight in it, that Desmond paused to think. Sessions with Lucy for an eternity, with no Animus fumbling with his brain? That sounded great!

Now he felt really stupid for forgetting his own words on that, but he still didn't want to leave. He tried to relax himself, looking at Lucy as though it were a finality rather than a "see you later" that he was going for. "Alright. I guess I have to finish this shinbag I started on. But..." His voice trailed off, unsure of the rest he wanted to say.

Lucy eyed him tentatively. "But what, Desmond?" She pressured positively before adding, "Come on, man! This is the 'afterlife' and all. Spit it out!"

Well, that was encouraging. With the feel of the portal near him, Desmond finally spoke of what was on his mind. "Back in Italy, when were at the Auditore Villa, Erudito—well, at least I think it was them—sent me the password to your e-mail,**** and..." He paused, feeling ashamed for having hacked into her account, but he got to the point. "You said in one message to my dad about 'for whatever feelings you may or may not have' had for me. What... What did you really mean by that?"

He hadn't told anyone about this, not even Clay's A.I. back in Animus Island. But now that Lucy was here, sending him off, it was now or never to find out.

Lucy sat still, staring him in the face for several moments before making a move as she stood up from her ottoman, her full height close to Desmond's. After a long pause, she finally smiled, so warmly that he could have sworn the other souls in this place felt it as well, and shocked him as she wrapped her arms around his torso. He went wide eyed at this, quick to put his hands on her elbows out of astonishment. That aura he kept feeling was even more intense now!

All his attention went to Lucy as the Lounge Room began to fade away from his awareness as she finally spoke her answer. "Well, I'm going to give you a clue on that." Everything was a blur, the warm aura of the energy beam once again taking him whole and off to the next guide. But he did remember Lucy raising her face to him and... The energy was coming from her, bouncing off the woman to him because... He felt it on her lips.

Lucy Stillman had just kissed him to the next realm.


Interlude

He kept staring at it, debating on whether or not he should plug it in... If his downhearted mindset would even let him, that is.

After several months of his self-imposed exile, William Miles was still devastated by the sacrifice Desmond made for them all; How his only son in the world was given up to prevent a solar flare from incinerating the world, but at the cost of freeing a dictatorial manifestation from the past...and his son's life

But now, in the flash drive that Rebecca and Shaun had risked their lives to send him, were the last bits of essence that Desmond Miles had left to this world before that fateful day.

Desmond... Oh, how he wished it were him instead. Why Desmond? Why his son? Why, just when they were reconciling again? He knew why. A time would come when he would finally accept why, though now was not that time.

His memories of that day kept flooding back, but for the moment, he pushed them away, then opened the flash drive and went over to his laptop.


The Meadow

Lucy had kissed him.

Lucy Stillman had fucking kissed him!

Wherever he was then, he almost didn't notice. His body merely registered to him that he was lying on his back on some bushy floor. With his eyes closed, the sheer thought of that kiss was scrambling every bit of his mind as the warm feeling was still present in him. He'd had his own share of old girlfriends and kisses and such, but that one was...

It was like being reborn... Through a kiss!

He wanted to go back. Like hell, he did! He wanted so much to finish this journey of his quickly so he could go back and do some more 'catching up' with Lucy. His entire being tingled like a school bell announcing the day over.

"Hello...Desmond?"

He was so caught up with his blissful thoughts that it took him a moment to notice the young voice calling to him.

"Desmond...Can you hear me, Desmond?"

Yeah, I can hear you. He chided inwardly. You're not Lucy, though.

"Of course I'm not her. Come now, open your eyes."

How the...!

Whomever that voiced belong to knew of his thoughts. That realization spurred his mind into action, causing him to tear his eyes open and jerk upright to a sitting position. Forgetting Lucy for the time being, Desmond turned his head this way and that until his gaze landed on a person.

To his right was a young boy, dark in complexion, hair in disarray and attire completely made from what he felt sure of was buckskin. The child was kneeling next to him, giving him an innocently curious glance. This boy... Where had his seen him...

"Tag! You're it!"

Another child's voice he heard, and then something like a tiny finger poked his folded hoodie sleeves until he heard mischievous laughter all around. He turned away from the boy to be welcomed by the sight of at least three dozen children grinning at him before turning about to run away, the first boy still lingering with him.

As the other children ran about, he saw that they were all entirely different; some wore school uniforms, others PJs, and still others wore outdated or even the most trendy clothes of his time. And yet he knew of their playfulness as if it was the basic truth.

The ground he was previously lying on was grassy, the entire part of the realm filled with flourishing trees, grass and bushes. Blue skies hung above, bright and lush as spring allowed it, considering this place had seasons.

And children... As far as his vision allowed him to see!

"Looks like you are 'it', then."

Turning to see that his new "host" had already stood back up, he followed suit. It was only then, after backing away slightly and beholding the child, that he recognized him; buckskin clothing, freckled cheeks and nose, and a lone beaded braid to the left side of his face. 'The Fourth'—his Fourth, Desmond knew—was a very young Ratonhnakè:ton.

"C-Connor?" He leaned in closer, looking down at the child before him, who was now tilting his head at him as though it was he who wanted to ask questions. "You...It's, ummm...Hi?"

He had already guessed that this ancestor of his was one of the guides, but to meet him in such a state... Okay, he thought. This Realm is really screwing with my logic.

The boy straightened his head and smiled up at him. "Greetings to you too, Desmond! Now, before we start, please kneel down for a bit." Ratonhnakè:ton-or Connor, he decided he'd use-made a facedown motion with both of his hands.

Still confused, Desmond complied and got down on his knees, knowing by some sort of instinct to arch his back slightly. He looked back up to his ancestor—damn, it felt so weird to call a kid that—and said, "So, you're my Fourth. You were the most recent ancestor whose life I had to relive..." He stopped and realized that the life he did experience from Connor was full of so much pain and hardship, a far cry from the merry little grass field they were in at that moment.

But young Connor didn't pay attention to his words and, to Desmond's surprise, he got on the man's back and held his skinny arms around his neck. On instinct, Desmond rose up, not even feeling the boy's weight on his back, but the aura a living beacon as the other swung his legs slightly in anticipation. He craned his neck to look back at the boy's soft Native American features.

"We will discuss my message to you in a short while." Despite the degeneration, Connor still had that calm and mature tone on him as he continued. "For the moment, help me tag everyone playing."

"Wait, tag? Like, playing tag? Me and you?" Desmond couldn't believe his ears; his ancestor, once a warrior of a man, was asking him to play tag with more than thirty-eight kids, if he counted them correctly. And whilst on his own back!

But in reply, the boy only gave him a playful grin and a buck of his legs as he said, "You are in the realm of the young and young at heart, Desmond. A place where one can experience once more the joys of a childhood forgotten or lost." The tone of his voice became rather solemn all of a sudden.

That statement got Desmond thinking. Lost and forgotten childhoods... He could actually relate to that. With a sigh, he faced the meadow once more, many of the participating children having already gone a good distance from them. Desmond asked skeptically, "Alright, we'll play, but how am I supposed to catch all these kids?"

He was already running through the fields, spying his first 'prey' behind some bushes when Connor giggled and said, "The realm will tell you, but they'll know too. That's the fun part!"


Author's notes: *Port is the maritime term for "left" based on the fact that most sailors dock their ships with the dock facing the left side of the vessel. (Believe it or not, I found out about this from watching Mr. Bean: The Animated series. /Snort)

**Bill is every modern Assassin ally's nickname for William Miles. (How "William" became "Bill" for the Americans, I have yet to figure out...) But some of you probably already know that...

***These weren't the EXACT words William Miles wrote to Gavin with, but I think you all got the picture of how much Desmond's death messed his father up.

****This happened in AC:Brotherhood, FYI.

ASDFGHJKL OMG BBQ SEE I TOLD YOU THIS SHIT WAS GONNA GET CORNY! *flops on her bed with non-stop spazzing* For all ye shippers out there, like me, who REALLY WANTED to get those two dorks together and hated Ubisoft for that goddamn plot twist.

(Also, MAN. That part of this chapter could've been its OWN chapter! I hope I'm not straining your eyes with the length of this one...)

And so, Desmond meets his Fourth. (Kind of obvious, this one. And ob yeah, it's actually TWO corny things here.) This kiddie!Connor thing isn't just for cuteness, okay? There's a wide array of serious talk, and it's coming from, what I remember, a four year old-looking man's mouth.

Yep.

About, what, two or tree more plus an epilogue chapter and I can be done with this bad boy! XD

So, up to the next chapter, but before that, go and check out the prologue of my upcoming new Edward Kenway fic, "Saved By The Devil", folks! A little teaser for all of you, plus an upcoming one shot just to test out this new drama and action thing I want for it.

Next update: Gimme two weeks. Alot's been going on here with my family, especially with my grandparents visiting from San Diego, California. (Land of Comic Con, peeps!)

Comments, suggestions, and little RP spoofs well accepted. For the meantime, until the next, folks!

~Itchy