Hello everyone! This is my latest AC2 fic. It's a very different fic that's close to my heart. I wanted to add some variety to the stories in this section, and I think this fic definitely does the trick. The only other thing I can ask is that you all keep an open mind. With that said, let's begin!
BUT FIRST: A MASSIVE thank you to Chalybeous, the best beta a person could ask for :D
Also, the views expressed in this chapter don't reflect the author's opinion. But we need to star somewhere, yeah?
Chapter 1: Prologue
Pained cries ring through the night. Moving through the glass of the window he can see a woman, face red, eyes bloodshot and entire body convulsing.
—He wonders who she is until the word "mother," sparks in his head, unasked—
Her dark hair, damp with sweat, sticks to olive skin flush with strain. The screams belong to her, and the pain does too. She pants and gasps and utters strings of syllables he can't understand
—until he does, and the prayers and curses on her lips don't help him understand why he's seeing what he is—
Thankfully it's over in the next few minutes. The woman in the bed collapses, out of energy. The midwife carefully cleans the child with a bit of fabric.
—Irritatingly it seems that he's traded one person's cries for another, and the baby's shriek is much more piercing—
A man quickly strides through the door in an agitated way, distracting him for the moment. The newest addition to the room approaches the bed and eyes the woman with loving concern. His eyes move to the midwife suddenly, and she carefully presses the baby into his hands.
—He gets the strangest sensation that something is seriously wrong with what he's seeing. And when he finally realizes what's awry, he doesn't know how to compute the knowledge. If he was in his body right now, his mouth would be forming surprised expletives; as it is, he only thinks of them—
The man's eyes which were moments ago possessed by worry are now gleaming with pride and excitement. The large hands touch the child tenderly, grabbing its hands as it twitches blearily. When the baby's fists jerk forward, the man lets out a loud bark of laughter.
"A fighter, I can already tell. Like all true Auditores." His grin turns towards the exhausted though joyful woman.
"Have you settled on a name, mia caro?"
The man grins wider. "Ezio. Her name will be Ezio Auditore da Firenze."
—The scene is glitching and he knows that his time is up. The world gradually brightens until all he sees is white nothingness—
—and he finds himself groggily blinking at a rather dull looking ceiling. Despite the discomfort in his body that he always feels after a rather trying session, he sits up. It's then that he notices the wetness on his cheeks, and he bites back a groan as he sees that all of the others are staring at him. He's quick to wipe the tears away. He never wants to be so up close and personal to being born ever again, despite the inexplicable feeling of newness that he's trying very hard to suppress at the moment.
"What?!" he demands irritably. "It was stressful, alright?!"
"That . . . isn't why we're staring," Rebecca informs him, and while it's true he hasn't known her very long, he can still read her body language well enough to find the genuine shock there.
"What is it then?"
"Shaun," Lucy utters, and without further instruction the historian is flying towards his computer and pounding at the keyboard with frantic motions.
"Desmond, your ancestor is a woman," Rebecca finally says.
"Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. I thought Ezio was a guy, what gives?"
"That's what we'd like to know," Lucy says, and this is when he notices how pale she is. "All of our records show Ezio as being male."
Shaun calls from his desk. "And they still say that. Everything points to his gender being male, even his birth registry."
"Is it a glitch with the Animus?" Desmond asks, and Rebecca shoots him an affronted look.
Before the technician can reply with something Desmond is sure will be caustic, Lucy speaks. "Ezio must have faked his—her identity."
"She did have a lot of connections later on in life," Shaun says, still clicking away, "It isn't implausible that she used those to change her registry."
"So, what, I have a cross-dressing ancestor?" Desmond asks exasperated. "This is gonna be a blast."
"Perhaps she was hiding her identity," Rebecca suggests. "An assassin's life is hard. Especially if you're a woman in renaissance Italy. The enlightenment only reached so far, and gender equality was sort of skipped over."
"Or she might've been transsexual or even transgendered," Shaun hypothesizes aloud, and as he speaks Desmond can see all those British cogs turning in his mind. "There are numerous accounts of transgendered persons through history, although there isn't too much noted about them other than that they were generally pariahs if they revealed themselves. Most fell into their preset gender castes unless there was a third, liminal group for them like in India. There weren't any transition operations at the time, so cross-dressing would the closest she could get. Oh, this could be incredibly informative."
"A tranny. Even better." Desmond is nowhere near amused by his new colleague's excitement over the fact. Because at the end of the day, it's going to be Desmond who'll be shoved into the machine and a girl's body.
"Your very American attempt at political correctness is duly noted, Desmond." Shaun waves at him dismissively, and Desmond already knows that they are going to get on wonderfully.
"This doesn't change anything," Lucy says decisively. "We can still use Ezio's memories."
"Will the bleeding effect still work if I'm a girl though? I mean, there's gotta be a world of difference in our physiologies." Not to mention that the very idea of following a woman through her life, ancestor or no, will give Desmond more info than he ever wants to know. He's fine being a male, and even though on occasion he struggles to understand how women think, he doesn't want to know that badly.
"Doesn't matter, the bleeding effect will still work. That's not how it works; you should know that by now, Desmond, because you're a good four inches taller than Altair. Body doesn't matter. Sorry dude," Rebecca says, dashing his hopes thoroughly.
"Can't we use Altair's memories?" And yes, perhaps he is coming off a little bit whiny, but after the week he's had he thinks he has a right to be. Getting pushed in a woman's body really does top the cake.
Lucy shakes her head. "There might be useful information in Ezio's memories. Besides, his— her training is much gentler than Altair's. It's better this way."
Glancing at Lucy he senses the slightest threads of uncertainty, and he feels a bit of pity for her. As if this entire thing wasn't complicated enough already, throwing in the latest curveball really can't help, because if their records are wrong about something as basic as Ezio's gender, then who knows what else they're wrong about.
Lucy looks each and every one of them in the eye firmly, as if everything is decided; and despite him newfound empathy, Desmond still really hates that because his father gave him that look way too often. "We'll proceed as planned. If things go awry, somehow we'll adjust. Everyone understand?"
Desmond wants to argue but can't think of anything to say, so in the end he just grunts.
He's not looking forward to this at all.
Thoughts? Feel free to ask questions if you want. :) And in case you missed it . . .
The views expressed in this chapter don't reflect the author's opinion. But we need to star somewhere, yeah?
BTW, this fic is complete, so it'll be updated twice a week. I think Sundays and Thursdays will work quite nicely.