Fandom: Assassin's Creed
Pairing: Malik/Altaïr, Malik/OFC
Genre: Angst, Drama
Rating: M for non-explicit sex and just a little fucking language
Summary: Malik's married to a pretty little thing, yet Altaïr is still alone. Malik visits him often, has seen the sadness in his eyes, but didn't truly think it could get this bad. Malik/Altaïr, Malik/Wife. Oneshot. Postgame. Darkfic. Have a box of tissues near.
Disclaimer: I own neither male character presented in this story, nor the one that is referenced.
Foreword: I came up with this idea probably a month or so after my first submission here on FanFiction, and I have to say that I loved writing this. But that's pretty much it; I won't to keep anyone who happens upon this little page from reading the goods. :) Oh, but I gotta say what song inspired me to write this, don't I? Well, no song truly inspired me to write this, but rather, there was a song that I was listening to that helped me set the tone and the pace for this particular piece, and that song was the "Dearly Beloved" reprise from Kingdom Hearts 2. I'm sure a lot of people are familiar with the song since Kingdom Hearts is so popular, and I just thought that the piano's slow, melancholic tone was perfect for the despondency of this story. And Lisa, I hope this is angsty enough for you. ;)
Malik's wife is remarkably beautiful. Her skin is the color of pale caramel, differing against Malik's own in a manner that is both pleasing and alluring; her body is petite and slender, standing approximately six inches shorter than her husband's tall and leanly muscled frame; her hair is as long and thick as a horse's mane, ofttimes consuming Malik's long fingers like an endless black void; her face is heart-shaped and angular, fitting perfectly beneath her lover's hand when he presses his palm against her cheek; her voice is soft and quiet, sounding gentle, almost angelic, in Malik's ears when she wraps her arms around his torso in an embrace; her eyes are as pure as winter's first snow, nearly child-like in quality so that her partner always feels guilty when he takes her. The list of favorable physical features is extensive and capable of going on and on until there is nothing else left to describe. To many men, she is sublime, is a youthful goddess who tumbled from heaven's wispy white clouds.
But to Malik, she is boring. She is boring because she is too beautiful, is devoid of any flaws that would hinder her unmarred appearance. In the three years they have been married, he has explored her body with nimble fingers and clever tongue alike, only to find that she has one single scar that stretches delicately over the back of her neck, conveniently placed so that it can be hidden by raven strands. Malik supposes that that is the reason why he always pulls her hair into a ponytail, always presses kisses against her neck, that his need to see the scar and know that she is imperfect and human and just like him is the reason why he is so quick to turn her chest against the bed and latch his mouth against that smooth strip of flesh when they make love. Malik, himself, is covered by scars, ones that are long and thick and ugly and make him feel embarrassed and insecure when she attempts to undress him, as though the absence of his left arm is not shameful enough; he is too abashed of his own body to ever let her see him naked.
But she is not bashful at all, has no reason to be when her body is so perfect and her confidence allows her to be the one who initiates the tender moments that cause Malik's head to become clouded as blood flows elsewhere, makes him into a stupid fool who talks in long, drawn-out vowels and grips her hips like a starving man tugging the last apple from the tree – sweet, sweet sin – and it is when his composure crumbles, when his mind is defeated by mere primal instinct that she smiles, laughs, asks him to touch her here or to kiss that one spot or to drag his tongue right there. And he bends to her will, responds in her favor like he is her personal slave when she cries for more, does not let himself go until she tenses and shudders beneath him, is always giving, giving, giving while she is taking, taking, taking. She even takes his seed into her body, moaning and digging her nails into his hips, pulling him closer while he kisses the ridge of her scar and topples over the edge with a sequence of stringent exhales. She takes all of him, but fails to give him a child.
Malik thinks that that must be why she continues to draw him to their bed so often, that she feels as though it is her responsibility as a wife to give her husband however many children he desires, and although he does want to experience fatherhood, to give to his sons and daughters the childhood he never had, one that is filled with moments of smiling and laughing and loving, he does not want her to feel pressured or obligated, to wish for children only because he does. Malik thinks he can live without any if she is unable to provide them, thinks that he can go on without that experience, but cannot fight the feeling of dread to know that his father's line may become lost in the tide of time; he is the last one of his family, has no other living relatives, feels as though it is his responsibility to pass on his father's name to the next generation. And he has – it is she who fails in the task, for her belly has already become swollen twice before with the promise of a baby, but when the midwives come to lay it into the earth, the baby is still and lifeless, an empty shell that makes Malik stare with glossy eyes and wonder what kind of person it would have been, whether his first-born son would have considered him a hero instead of an infidel assassin, whether his little princess would have called him Baba and loved him her entire life. Malik sometimes finds his wife slumped against the dinner table when he arrives home from work, standing idly in the doorway and not knowing how to comfort her, not knowing who suffers more for their losses.
So, to ease his pain, he tries to make himself feel like a good person by habitually visiting Altaïr, who sits so quietly by the window in his home and watches the sun disappear beneath the horizon with listless blue eyes. The man is always there, will probably be in that house near the field of wildflowers until the day he dies, and it is all because of an injury he sustained to his right leg during his final assassination mission, an injury that the Brotherhood saw as a befitting reason to dismiss him like a common beggar, an injury has left him in that chair by the window for almost an entire year now, staring forlornly at the wildflowers and saying "yes" and "no" with a throat that sounds parched and dry from lack of use. Malik regularly goes to the market for him to get food and water even though Altaïr never asks, sometimes prepares a meal for him when he responds that, no, he has not eaten today, tries to get him to talk by speaking about things that inversely reflect the weight on his heart, but falls short in achieving any reply that represents his commitment to the conversation, often eliciting little more than a compliant hum or nod. Malik talks philosophically to Altaïr about life and love and happiness just to see if he can get a reaction out of the man, speaks briefly about his own problems, and feels that fraternal urge to cradle him in his arms like he used to when he was a boy and ask him to tell him what is wrong, an urge that escalates into a never-satisfied need whenever he exits the small house, leaving a man who had once been so zealous and enthusiastic about life to watch the sun abandon him. But it is not like Malik can hold him like that anymore anyway; how can you hold someone with only one arm?
His wife thinks that the time he spends with Altaïr is being spent with another woman.
When she confronts him about it, asking him if he is unhappy with her because she cannot give him children, if he is seeking out another provider because he feels she is not good enough, Malik is shocked and hurt by her mistrust, asks her how dare she accuse him of being disloyal, orders her to never make that assumption again, says that he has no reason or intention to break his promise to be faithful to her, and then they both shout and yell at each other until she screams that she is pregnant again and slams the bedroom door in his face. And he just stands there like a dumbstruck idiot, the pangs of instant remorse forming into knots in his stomach before he leans against the door and lets the tears flow when he hears her cry; he tells her, "I'm sorry… I'm sorry; I didn't know," and begs for her forgiveness, but is unable to convince her to open the door. He falls asleep on the floor, then awakes many hours later to find that she is gone, and he does not know what the fuck he should do, wanders around the house for several minutes looking for her everywhere, even in the places he knows she would not be: inside the cupboards and in the space between the bed and the wall and behind the bookshelf. All he finds is dirt and dust and anger laced with regret, eventually collapses in his chair at the dinner table and sobs for a very long time, subconsciously feels like he needs someone to talk to, but cannot bring himself from his seat.
The next day, he visits Altaïr again – if only out of habit – and continues to smile and speak as though there is nothing wrong, even with the added ton weighing down his heart; he manages to keep his composure until he catches sight of the sun slipping beneath the field of wildflowers, and it is the sight itself that breaks him, makes tears form in his eyes as he watches it descend with slow deliverance, thinking that this must be how Altaïr feels when he watches the sunsets through the window, and before he is able to wipe the salty droplets away, the younger man knows, knows like he was there when it happened and knows what the outcome will be. Altaïr does not say anything, does not need to say anything when he can just put his hand on Malik's knee like he does and look into his eyes and let a sad smile grace his lips as if to say that everything will be okay. And Malik believes him, shows him that he does by leaning in to press a chaste kiss against his lips, off-handedly noticing how soft they are. Altaïr eyes are closed when he pulls away, as though he is in deep thought as Malik says goodbye.
It is on the third day that Malik's wife returns to him, and when she does, the first thing she says is that she is sorry to have put him through so much, that it was wrong of her to run away from him like she did, and that she does not honestly think he is seeing another woman, and Malik understands, is just happy that she is safe, draws her against his chest and holds her for what feels like hours before she shifts to kiss him, a gesture that gradually becomes heated and passionate and needy as Malik's hand slips from her face, below her jaw, toward the back of her neck to stroke her scar, making her lean heavily against him and clutch his body tightly. She moans, and he breaks the kiss to nip gently at the junction between her neck and shoulder, flicks his tongue over the scar, and leads her in the direction of the bedroom. When she lies naked beneath him, he strokes her slightly rounded belly and is barely successful in concealing the shudder that runs up his spine when she slips her fingers beneath his clothes to dance along his flesh, tracing every scar with light, experimental touches. He allows her to disrobe him until there is nothing left to remove, and when she sees the part where his left arm was amputated, she begins to cry, and he has to tell her that he has grown to accept it, that he no longer feels the pain or the fury or the sorrow of it being gone before she calms herself and parts her thighs. He takes her slowly, and as her fingertips glide over his many scars, he cannot help but to regret not turning her back toward his chest.
When Malik next sees Altaïr, the man is standing instead of sitting in front of the window, and he immediately moves to grab a chair before the other tells him not to, saying that he wants to stand up on his own two feet for once. His right leg trembles beneath his weight, but the older man cannot think of anything to say as Altaïr dejectedly remarks that he is a burden, has always been a burden to Malik since the day the older man allowed him into his and his brother's home, apologizes for everything he has ever done to him, and Malik cannot understand why, cannot wrap his mind around why Altaïr has kept this in for so long only to let it out now, replies that he never considered him as something onerous or toilsome, to which Altaïr scoffs and says, "You're a poor liar," and turns to look out the window. Malik approaches him, puts his hand on his shoulder, and the other tenses and lowers his head in something akin to defeat, remains still as he pulls him into an embrace and asks him why he is so sad. Altaïr opens his mouth like he wants to answer him, but whatever words he forms in his throat do not make it pass his lips, and Malik looks at his face for a long time before announcing that his wife has returned and is pregnant again – that Altaïr was right about how things would get better – and tries to discern why the younger man's eyes close at the revelation. He states that Altaïr is strong, has always been strong, even when he himself crumbles beneath life's unwelcome surprises, says he hopes that giving his unborn child his name will bless it with that strength so that it will live beyond its time in the womb, and Altaïr's response is, "...You can't. I can't..." But Malik does not let him finish, cuts him off with another chaste kiss while cursing him for his modesty. When he attempts to pull away, the other's hand darts around his wrist, and then vanishes as quickly as it appeared. Malik keeps his eyes fixed on Altaïr's blue pair, and before the younger man can retreat back to his chair, can rebuild his barrier and readjust his mask of solitude, Malik leans in to press his lips against his again, and this time, the kiss is not chaste, is not like any kiss they have shared before given the way that he begins to move his lips with cautious determination, tentative passion, and manages to convince Altaïr to open his mouth when he drags his tongue along the man's lower lip. Altaïr tastes like tears and sorrow and suicidal thoughts, and Malik wordlessly promises that he will dispel whatever weighs down his heart.
Making love to Altaïr is unlike making love to his wife. Where his wife moans loudly like a wanton whore when he pets her thigh or kneads her behind or strokes her between her legs, Altaïr is quiet in a way that tells Malik that he has been alone for a very long time, makes no sound unless he pleasures him – not with light, gentle touches – but with his own pleasure; where his wife grows loud and writhes beneath him by mere stimulation, Altaïr does not moan unless he moans into his ear, does not gasp unless he gasps against his lips, does not cry out harderfasterdeeper when the tip of his cock brushes against that spot inside him, but rather, don'tstoppleasedon'tstop when Malik touches all his scars and falls in love with every single one. There is something about the way the younger man's body is covered by those strips of smooth flesh that puts Malik at ease when Altaïr slips his fingers beneath his shirt and pulls it over his head, tugs his pants further down his hips until they are off and he is completely devoid of clothing.
His wife cried when she saw the place where his left arm was severed, but Altaïr does not, does not regard it with any sort of rage or grief or discontent, only looks at it for a little while with a gaze that tells Malik that he accepts that it and all his other flaws are just parts of him, minor imperfections that are remnants of stories that have molded him into what he is now, and he leans up to kiss his bicep and trail his fingers over the part where it stops. Malik's heart feels full and brings him to the verge of tears as he makes love to Altaïr and feels the man's own heart pounding against his chest, thinks he is beautiful with all his flaws and that the way the younger man traces all of his like he wants to remember them with precise detail that he must believe that he is beautiful, too. When Altaïr tenses, curls his toes, and comes against his stomach, Malik's own orgasm takes him by surprise, and he does not know whether it is the feeling of fingers grazing over his scars or lips brushing against his own or waves of pleasure wreaking his body that makes him come harder, causes him to rock his hips until the friction reduces him to a boneless entity that slumps over the younger man like a crooked tree, lips curved into a satisfied smile. He does not return home to his wife until after he claims Altaïr a second time, right against the window, stroking the other's cock in time with his thrusts and listening to his soft moans as he whispers how much more beautiful Altaïr is than the wildflowers, making sure he leaves his mark on the younger man's neck. "Please... Don't – don't ever... Not with anyone else. Not when I feel the way I do about you."
Their little affair continues on for several more days, stretches into a week, and then, Altaïr asks him not to come back.
"What?" Is all Malik can say, thinking that he did not hear him correctly. "I'm sorry, what did you say? I think I heard you wrong. Can you say it again a little more clearly?" And he probably repeats himself three more times until Altaïr tells him to get the fuck out, points in the direction of the door and orders him to not come back, tells him he was a decent fuck, but that he has no interest in playing the romance game, his words imparting a wound that is deep enough for Malik's life essence to flow from as the door is slammed shut in his face. He must stand there, dumbstruck, for an hour before reality hits him like it did when he realized Kadar had stopped breathing, and he eventually convinces himself to turn around and walk home, tears streaming down his cheeks and a fleshy mass forming in the back of his throat. When he enters his house and his wife asks him what is wrong, the sight of her rounded belly prevents him from waving her off. He says that an old friend of his has died, and the first thing she does is apologize.
One day passes, and Malik reappears in front of Altaïr's home near the field of wildflowers and knocks on the door and receives no answer, calls out to the younger man several times before turning and heading back to his own home. Then another day passes, and Malik is only able to keep the tears behind his eyes by sheer will alone when he goes back to Altaïr's house, knocks again, and is convinced by the absence of any response to leave. When the third day arrives, he returns for what he tells himself is last occasion, spends a very long time leaning heavily against the door and begging to be let inside Altaïr's home and his life, says, "Please let me in... I need you, I need you," until his voice is hoarse and the splinters from the door make his hand bleed and the silence wards him away. "Please don't do this to me... Please don't shut me out..."
On the fourth day, Malik touches his wife again. It is after he puts his hand on her belly that she initiates a kiss that does not ignite the same passion in his veins that had been there when Altaïr's lips were against his, gently urges him into their bedroom that feels too big and too empty and too hollow in comparison to Altaïr's, disrobes herself with hands that are too delicate to cause Malik to react in the same way he would if they belonged to the man he had fallen for. When she spreads her legs and allows him to take her, careful not to crush her belly, she sounds too loud in his ears, moves around too much against the bed, feels too soft against his skin, and makes his body tense in discomfort when she moves her hands up under his shirt and cries for moremoremore, goes rigid and comes either too soon or too late. Where Malik followed Altaïr over the edge only seconds behind, she experiences a second orgasm before he topples over the edge inside of her, feeling completely drained as she whispers in his ear how good he is, that they both needed this, that she had been aching to feel him inside her and that it was necessary to take his mind off the death of his friend. Malik cannot think of anything to say in reply, so he says nothing at all, just wishes that it was Altaïr's heart he heard beating in his ear. "...I love you," he says when he is sure his wife is asleep, and the words are directed to an absent man. Malik feels incredibly guilty for his unborn child.
After he wakes up and looks over at his wife, he realizes that it has been five days since he last saw Altaïr, thinks that by now there is probably little or no food left for the younger man in his home, moves to get dressed before he heads out to the market, kissing his wife and her belly goodbye. He buys a variety of fruits and breads and vegetables, even an expensive portion of lamb that smells heavily of spices, knowing that it is something that would please Altaïr and that if nothing else would open the door to him, his stomach would. As Malik leaves and walks to the younger man's abode, he tries to think of things to say, ways to reveal to the other that he loves him, but that, regrettably, their love is not meant to be; he hopes that if Altaïr does not want him as a lover, he would want him as a friend, but does not know if he, himself, can settle for a platonic friendship, can settle for looking and gazing and wanting but not touching, not feeling. Malik wants to be with Altaïr, to wake up and see his face every morning so that he can shift closer and trace the scars along his chest, to freely say that he loves Altaïr over and over until he is breathless and the passion burning in his veins gives him enough courage to declare the younger man is his, to just be able to show how much he cares. He needs to hear Altaïr say that he loves him in return so that his heart can flutter weightlessly and his mind can be put at ease.
When he stops in front of Altaïr's door, it seems taller than it has ever been before, like Malik has either shrunk six inches smaller or the door has doubled in size, and he swallows hard as he puts the bag of food on the step, brings his fist against the door, knocks once, twice, shouts that he has brought food, and then a third time when there is no response. But even the most unwavering form of silence will not keep him from the man, will not drive him away from something he needs so badly, and he calls out, "Altaïr? Altaïr, are you here?" And then, after casting a brief glance toward the field of wildflowers beneath the twilight sky, "Altaïr...I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything. I – I just wanna talk, to just see your face and hear your voice. Please don't be angry with me. Please let me inside." The tears come almost automatically to his eyes with a melancholic desperation as he opens his heart and whispers quietly against the door that he loves Altaïr, that he has been a fool for all the years he spent calling what he holds for his wife love, that he should have known better than to jump so quickly into marriage when she told him she was carrying his child. He says he does not care if Altaïr is incapable of loving him in return, does not care if the other thinks of him only as an occasional bedmate or as a man more fragile than glass, says that the only thing that matters is that Altaïr will let him see his face and witness the emotions conveyed so prominently in dark cerulean eyes, will let him touch him and feel the warmth of his body against his fingertips, will speak words that Malik can memorize and replay over and over in his head until they are no longer syllables spoken from between soft lips but Malik's very thoughts. "Altaïr?" He calls softly, "Are you here? Can I come inside?" His fingers meet the handle on the door, and he pushes it open slowly with contingent perseverance.
Altaïr is standing by the window again. But that is not all.
Altaïr is standing by the window, in a chair, with a noose around his neck, and his hands are gripping the rope with ambivalence while his injured leg is buckling beneath his weight.
"I... I just wanted...to be at peace..."
And that is all the man says before the surprise and the shame and the dejection take him all at once, makes him hang his head and begin to sob as Malik rushes over to save him, to lift that fucking noose up off his beautiful neck and distance that fucking chair from his beautiful body and lead him away from that fucking window overlooking that field of disgusting wildflowers. Malik pulls him into the bedroom, sits him on the bed, stares at his whimpering form for nearly a full minute before he falls onto his knees in front of him and completely breaks down, burying his face against Altaïr's leg and fisting the cloth of the other's pants in his hand as he weeps, sobs for Altaïr because he did not fucking see it, did not realize that the man was standing over the edge for so fucking long – and if he had looked, if he had turned his head away from his own problems and fucking looked into Altaïr's beautiful blue eyes, maybe he would have seen it, would have been able to prevent this from happening. He feels the younger man double over and place his hands on his shoulders, hears him say, "Hold me... Malik, please hold me," and then he is leaning up and kissing Altaïr's temple and pulling him tightly against his chest, words and phrases tumbling from his mouth that do not make coherent sense in his ears, yet somehow make them both cry harder, clutching each other like one was the other's only hope for survival. They stay like that for a very long time, crying, sobbing, hurting. And then, after what seems like an eternity of shedding tears and breathing shakily, Malik needs to know, needs to know why, whywhywhy Altaïr has done this, what he can do to help the man.
So when he is able to silence the noises coming from his throat and wipe the wetness from his eyes, he lowers himself to meet Altaïr's gaze directly, presses a comforting kiss to his lips, brings his hand up to cup the left side of his face, and asks. He asks a lot of things, asks why and when and how long and for what reason, asks and asks and asks until Altaïr is gripping his shirt and shaking his head and saying, "Please... Please... No more. Please don't interrogate me – I just wanted to be at peace – I just wanted to stop weighing you down and causing you so much trouble," and Malik cannot believe his ears, nearly chokes to death when the lump in his throat prevents air from reaching his lungs, and then he is screaming, screaming because he is in so much pain knowing his lover thinks that way, and Altaïr is trying his best to keep his voice even as he whispers brokenly that he is sorry, sorry he caused all that pain and was unable to take his life in a more discreet manner, goes on to say that he just wants for Malik to live without being burdened by him and his bullshit, and then cuts himself off when Malik grabs the back of his head and pulls him into a kiss.
Now, more than ever before, Altaïr tastes like tears and sorrow and suicidal thoughts, and as the kiss grows harsher, as the younger man begins to move his lips against Malik's own with a desperate desire to know what he means to him and opens his mouth so that a nimble tongue can glide against his in a manner that is both reassuring and loving, his heart breaks as he realizes how selfish he has been, and when Malik breaks the kiss to trail several small ones down his neck, tries to convey to him exactly how much he cares by touching all his scars, Altaïr is truly sorry, curls his fingers into the other's black hair and pulls him up for another passionate kiss. Malik makes love to him again, and as Altaïr looses himself over the older man's toned abdomen, clenching his toes and arching his back, he looks up into his dark eyes and calls out his name, whispers against his lips that there has never been any other person who has loved him so much, never been anyone whom he has loved so much, and the revelation makes Malik's heart ache as he lays claim to those lips and buries his seed deep inside his lover, repeats Altaïr's words like an echo so that the other can understand that he feels the same way. "...But that absence is fulfilled now. I have you, and you have me." And it seems like it was the perfect thing to say when Altaïr smiles with tears in his eyes and touches his face; "I love you. Always loved you. Ever since our reunion in the courtyard, ever since you came back to me."
And Malik smiles back, wipes his tears away, and says he will always be by his side, promises that things will get better.
Several months pass; the seasons change; time does not stop, but rather, it goes on and on and on. It is in late summer when Malik's wife goes in to labor and gives birth to a baby that does not wilt in the midwife's arms, a beautiful baby boy whose eyes are as pure as winter's first snow and whose face is heart-shaped and angular and whose skin is the color of pale caramel. The baby looks almost entirely like his mother, and after the blood is wiped away, Malik's wife cradles him in her arms and is overjoyed by what she has given to her husband. She laughs tiredly, says, "Look here! Look at him! Oh, how angelic he is," and smiles up at him with radiant eyes. "We finally have a baby, a healthy little boy – oh, my love, look at him, see his eyes, see how he smiles." Malik does, manages to see despite the blurriness in his eyes, moves closer to his wife and touches his son's face because everything seems too well-crafted to be anything but a dream; the baby takes one of his fingers into its hand. "Malik... We must name him. What was that name you said you wanted him to have? Wasn't it Amir or Alim or something of the like?"
Malik's mind goes back to a previous day where Altaïr, who had grown so quiet and contemplative beneath him as he laid his head against his chest and listened to his heartbeat, had softly asked him to give his child another name, one that does not impart any negative feelings or conjure any bad memories, and it was only after the younger man cut him off with a plea, only because Malik loves him so dearly and would do anything to please him, that he reluctantly agreed, wishing to a god he had abandoned so long ago to please help Altaïr, to please take all those bad thoughts away and make him into the boy Malik had known so long ago whose eyes were as bright as his zest for life and whose conscious was a blank canvas that turned black into gray. Malik slides his hand over his son's head, looks at him and thinks of another person whom he had held so close to his heart. "Kadar. His name will be Kadar. After my brother."
When Malik next sees Altaïr, the man is not by the window inside his house. Instead, he is standing in the field of wildflowers and watching the sun sink beneath the horizon, and the sight is just so touching that it makes Malik's lip quiver as he approaches his lover, places his hand on Altaïr's shoulder, and pulls him gently against his chest, toward his heart. They share a kiss, and when the older man pulls away, they watch the sun set together.
Truly, things are much better.
Afterward: Oh, man. I gotta admit…this was especially heavy for me. There were some points where I was writing this that I felt like my heart was bleeding through my chest, a few depictions that were hard to write without tears coming to my eyes or a lump forming in the back of my throat. Nevertheless, I'm just so happy with how this piece turned out. I think it's my best yet, and although there were times where I got so mad at this fic because I couldn't find the right word or piece together the exact phrase that conveyed the despondency and the tragedy of Malik and Altaïr's relationships with life and with each other, I always came back after a little while. Anyway, I would absolutely love to hear how this affected each and every one those who have taken the time to read this. I appreciate all reviews. :)