Now, once again, I could think up some amazing excuse for my absence. Or I could just tell you that I finally got the Sims 3 to start working on my computer again.

I'm easily distracted, and the Sims 3 is soul consuming. WHAT CAN I SAY?


Desmond suddenly found himself blinking up at the roof of the hideout. For a long moment, he was confused, not quite sure what had happened.

"What's going on?" He asked, glancing over at Rebecca with a dazed look. Lately, he always felt out of sorts after exiting the Animus

Rebecca was grinning at him.

"Lucy's back!" She said excitedly, standing from her desk.

Sure enough, Lucy came striding into the room seconds later. As Rebecca practically bounded over to the other woman to give her a hug and Shaun called a brief "welcome back" over his shoulder, Desmond lurched himself into a sitting position, managing a smile.

"Hey, how'd it go?" He asked.

For the past week, Lucy had been away to meet other assassin's, "higher ups" as she had put it. She had been unable to give them many details, but had assured them that the meeting was important.

"It went really great," Lucy said, turning to beam at Desmond. "Better than I could have hoped. I've got really great news."

"What?" Desmond and Shaun said together. Desmond glanced briefly at the Brit, who had twirled his chair around to face Lucy.

Lucy turned to beam at Desmond. "They've approved you to go on a mission." She said, clearly excited. "You're officially an assassin!"

Desmond stared at her blankly for a moment. "Seriously?" He asked, and a grin appeared on his face. "I'm getting an assignment? For real?"

"Yes! I mean, it's not a really big mission, you'll just be following up on a possible lead for on a Piece of Eden with a few other assassins, but still, it's a huge first step."

"Whoa, congrats, Des!" Rebecca said, punching his shoulder. "You're joining the big boys, now!"

Almost as a group, they turned to look at Shaun, who had been completely silent.

He was staring at them all with something akin to horror on his face. "I'm sorry," He said slowly, shaking his head slightly, as if dazed. "I could have sworn you said Desmond is going on a mission…"

Lucy frowned. "He is. He's been approved, the Order thinks he's ready."

Shaun scowled at Lucy. "And they've come to this conclusion how?" He asked skeptically.

"I showed them security footage of Desmond training," She said, looking slightly perturbed, sensing Shaun's building agitation. "And I gave my full recommendation. He's ready; his training has gone off without a hitch."

Shaun stared at Lucy, completely expressionless. "Without a… Without a hitch? Have you lost your mind?"

"Excuse me?"

"You're mad!" Shaun cried, jumping to his feet. "Jesus Christ! Without a hitch! I suppose the fucking bleeding effect doesn't count as much of a hitch, does it?!"

Lucy looked like she had just received a blow to the stomach. "The bleeding effect is fine," She finally managed to snarl. "It's completely manageable—"

"Managable!" Shaun barked a harsh laugh. "Oh, I get it now, you haven't told them about it, have you? They have no idea!"

"Shaun, this is not the time to discuss this!" Lucy snapped.

"Yeah, c'mon Shaun, enough," Rebecca said timidly.

"Oh, no, I think this is the perfect time to discuss this! You have noticed, I assume, that the bleeding effect is getting worse, right?"


"That he's constantly dropping out of reality? And losing consciousness on a regular basis? Waking up and not knowing who or where he is? Randomly bursting out in Arabic or Italian? And, goodness, what was that last thing?"

"Shaun, I'm warning you—" Lucy growled.

"Oh, yes, now I remember! That he actually attacked you not even two weeks ago?"

"SHAUN!" Rebecca yelled.

Desmond, who had been watching in shock, mouth agape, flinched at this last one. It was true; the bleeding effect had been getting much worse lately. A week and a half ago, he had been pulled out of the Animus rather violently. The memory had been a very disturbing one, and he had blacked out upon waking. When he came back to his senses, Shaun was pulling him off of Lucy, who had a bloody lip and bruises on her neck.

He had never felt so guilty in his entire life.

"That's enough, Shaun!" Lucy snapped, "Shut up, now! You have absolutely no right—"

"Oh, don't give me any of that bullshit—" Shaun started, but Lucy cut him off.

"Not bullshit, an order!" She spat. "You forget your rank, Hastings! I am in charge here, and I am ordering you to shut the fuck up!"

For a moment, Shaun could only sputter furiously. Then, he closed his mouth with an audible snap, breathing heavily. "Fuck you, Stillman," He said slowly after a long pause. "And fuck you, too, Rebecca." He stopped, turning to Desmond. "And you know what? For good measure, why don't you just go fuck yourself, too, Miles?"With that, he stormed away.

Desmond hissed slightly under his breath.

Shit. That had stung.

At this point, Lucy was beyond words. She hurried to stand by the window, struggling to compose herself.

Rebecca appeared at Desmond's elbow, looking at him apologetically.

"Oh man, Des," She said softly, "I'm sorry, he was way out of line…"

"Don't be sorry, it's not your fault…" He said gruffly, taking a deep, steadying breath.

"Still, that was seriously not cool… I'm gonna go talk to him."

"No," Desmond said quickly. "I'll talk to him."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I think I know what his problem is, anyway…"

"Hey," Desmond said from the doorway of Shaun's bedroom. The historian glanced up long enough to give him a withering look, but didn't say anything. He quickly turned back to the boxes he had dumped on his bed, rifling through the papers within.

"Um…" Desmond only realized then that he had no idea what he was going to say to Shaun. He stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. "So… What are you doing?"

"Organizing old documents," He answered curtly.

Desmond took a few steps forward. He could see now that each box had a different century written on the outside.


Desmond shifted on his feet awkwardly as Shaun continued to shuffle through his papers. They were both silent.

"Nothing's going to happen," Desmond finally blurted.

"You don't know that," Shaun snapped. Desmond let out a frustrated breath.

"You heard what Lucy said, the mission isn't a big deal. Following up on a lead. What's the worst that could hap—"

Shaun was on his feet and in front of Desmond in a second. He grabbed a handful of Desmond's jacket and shoved him into the door. Instinctively, Desmond snatched at his wrists, trying to tug his hands away, but suddenly Shaun was smashing his lips against his.

Desmond let his hands drop and snake around to clutch at the back of Shaun's shirt, and the taller man moved his own hands to cup Desmond's face, pressing deeper into the kiss. Desmond gasped slightly, and Shaun took the opportunity to slip his tongue in the younger man's mouth.

The kiss was just as sloppy and aggressive as all their others, but there was also something painfully desperate about this one.

They only broke apart when they were both too breathless to go on.

"Don't you fucking dare say that," Shaun panted, still holding Desmond's face. "You know what could happen. The fucking bleeding effect isn't going to go away, Desmond."

"I'll be careful—"

"Careful isn't good enough! Careful won't stop you from blacking out or fucking losing your mind again and attacking someone! If you compromise the mission, the other assassins, if something goes wrong, they will kill you! Do you not get that?"

Desmond sighed and pulled away from Shaun's grip, leaning against the door. "I know," He said, "But I can't not go just because something might go wrong."

"The hell you can't!"

"I came here to be an assassin! To help find the Pieces of Eden, and stop the Templars, and all this shit! That's why we've all been doing all this time, going with the Animus. I'm going the mission, Shaun. Everything will be fine."

Shaun stared at the younger man long and hard. He sighed in frustration, turning away to return to his documents.

"If you die, I won't fucking forgive you for it," He spat bitterly.

Desmond returned much worse for wear, and Shaun nearly drew blood for it.

The other assassin's – a tall red headed woman and two brothers who bickered constantly in German – carried the unconscious brunette back to the hideout almost a full day after they were supposed to return. By this point, they had all been worried, but Shaun was nearly at his wit's end, and he was threatening to kill someone when the group finally returned.

Apparently, the Templars had been expecting them when they went in for their investigation. They had fared well enough until a couple had pulled out guns. Desmond had been hit in the shoulder and his leg had been grazed, but was only brought down after a severe blow to the head. One of the German brothers had also been injured, but neither one of them had sustained anything life threatening.

Still, that didn't stop Shaun from giving Desmond a verbal beating upon his return to consciousness.

"You said not to come back dead, not uninjured," Desmond protested woozily as Lucy bandaged up his still-bleeding shoulder, the concussion making it too hard to think straight. "And I'm not dead. Stop yelling."

Rebecca literally had to drag Shaun away to keep him from punching the assassin.

It's hot, I'm sleepy, and the Sims is calling me.