Altair is the sharp, bittersweet remembrance of a hard-won victory; Ezio is the dim regret of a man who might have been someone else. Desmond recalls them at the oddest moments—over breakfast, perhaps, or in the strange half-awareness just before he drifts asleep, or when Lucy smiles at him and says good morning, Desmond—any moment, really, and between one breath and the next he might feel the weight of all his ancestors pressing up against him like shadows.

It is not—entirely—a terrible thing. He is never alone, for one; there is always Altair's contemptuous snort to keep him company, or perhaps the memory of Ezio will crack a joke at some inopportune moment and Desmond will have to cough and pretend that he was not laughing when Lucy glances at him with her eyebrows raised; and he is always, always armed, even when he is not, because there is Altair coolly assessing the best positions from which to attack every time he enters a room and Ezio pointing out anything that might be picked up and used as a weapon.

It is not entirely a terrible thing, but at times Desmond misses being alone. The bleeding effect, Lucy calls it, and explains it in such technical detail that he stops listening after the first few sentences; Altair and Ezio are the clearest, the brightest, because they have been dragged out into the forefront by the Animus, but there are others too—a low din at the back of Desmond's mind, a soft murmuring of half-heard voices, fragments of thought that he can almost comprehend if he squeezes his eyes shut and tries—

There are so many of them: hundreds, thousands, all the ancestors he has ever had stretching back millennia, and Desmond half-wishes that he could recall them all and half-wonders if he would go mad if he did. Most of them are distant, lost to space and time and other passions; it is the assassins who crowd in close against his mind, shadowed avatars of those who had gone before, and Desmond cannot decide if he wants to bring them into consciousness or not. There are men in robes of white and crimson and silver; there is a girl with a will like steel, a spray of scarlet flowers, death bristling against her fingertips like the touch of snowy feathers; there is a boy, barely grown, scrambling across the sun-drenched rooftops as the city bells toll; there is a woman with the heavy weight of a pistol on her hand and the sharp sting of smoke in her eyes and the carnage of some foreign battlefield laid out before her. (And there is Altair. And there is Ezio.)

And there is Desmond, who is wondering who he is, until the next breath comes and all the myriad voices fade out once more.

A/N: Ubisoft (jokingly, I hope!) said something along the lines of how they could theoretically do like 35 of these games. And then they mentioned a female protagonist in a WWII setting. So of course I had to write this, because, come on, doesn't anyone feel a little sorry for Desmond?