First AC-series post ever, so pile on the criticism or hand me a vegan cookie; wanna flame this parchment? I don't see why not—except I'll be using the blaze to burn up your arse.

Disclaimer: No matter how much I wanna poke Altair and ask him if chopping off his ring finger was a memorable experience, I can't; why? 'CAUSE I DUN OWN!

"I came, didn't I?"

His heated breath ghosts upon your clammy neck, and for a while, you seem to forget that you were up at three a.m. in the morning with your hair crazier than a Malik's "Spartan shave" and your wooly shirt scratching irritably at your chafed skin. Closer, closer, closer, until his warm cheek presses into your own sanguine ones, you barely suppress a faint ripple of a shiver, as you can feel the coarse beginnings of stubble leave behind itchy pinpricks along the line of your jaw—clenching and unclenching to ward off the ticklish sensations.

"Stop," you reply a bit agitatedly, reaching out your hands to cup his face and move it away from your nape, "your scruff is gonna mow off my skin."

A deep, breathless chuckle rings in your ears as clear disobedience was written in his next actions, his forehead leaning down to rest heavily against yours. "I could've sworn you loved it."

"Does it even look as if I'm awake? 'Cause I'm tired as hell." Grumbling in an aggravated fashion, you finally put some real strength into your hands and use one of them to settle against his chin, peeling his stubborn face off of your drowsy form. "Cut it, Altair!"

"Tired, my arse, love."

Your incredulous reaction coerces your brows to knit together to show your exasperation and disbelief. "The hell? My arse? Since when did you use that word?"

He makes his way over to your poor attempt at making a makeshift mattress and settles down on it, his scarred lip quirking in plain amusement when the entire thing creaked under his weight and finally compressed together in a sickening crash. "You pick up bits and pieces of lingo when you travel."

"Uh-huh; suuuuurrreeee … And get off of my bed! You broke it! Now where the hell am I supposed to sleep?" You point an accusatory finger at his indifferent stance and boil slightly at the languid smirk that was plastered onto his face. "Gaaahhh! I spent three hours on that!"

"There's always the villa—with real furniture, of course," his smooth voice gliding through the hot summer air provokingly.

"Che! I don't need your charity, Mr. Santa Claus." It didn't take a monk's elaborative teachings for you to know that Maria had rubbed off on him more than ever, and damn it, it was grating your nerves on how you were falling for that rabid impulse of grabbing onto a faint sign of cursed envy—no doubt "my arse" was a favorite saying of hers. Other than the fact that you refused to jump somewhere easy without your own power, it was clear that the British female was going to be lounging in the villa as comfortable as its own owner: And yeah, you never been to this residential estate, or ever meet this "kind" scholar, but you sure as heck wasn't going to enjoy acquainting her anytime soon—she seemed too "close" to Altair to be considered "sisterly", from your hearing of his tales.

I mean, c'mon! He tells me that she takes care of his children, for Kristos' sake! How in the devil's name is it common for this type of relationship to occur?

Flushing slightly in frustration, you fold your arms across your chest and turn faintly to the side, cursing softly at the way the enigmatic male slanted his lips in an amused manner. "I don't see anything wrong with my life," you add lamely.

Your eyelid twitched at the grin that threatened to conquer his lips, and it palpitated even faster when you realized that he had read your initial reaction and your mind. "Maria and Malik both went to her foreign land to show the little ones to her father."

What the hell? What is he, a psychic? "Hey! You're deviating, and hell yes, I love my … er … house-slash-apartment-slash-den … "

As if to contradict your very words, a rotting piece of wood crashed down from the side of your residence, and then a loud string of appalling maledictions were hurled your way from outside—probably by the unlucky fellow who got mauled by your jinx.

Damn it.

"Friggin' cheapskate landowner; dam him to hell and back … "

A deep grumble of relaxation filtered through your ear as the dark-skinned man plopped his back onto your flat "bed" unceremoniously; you swore you could feel that challenging smirk snake its trail onto his austere expression. "Jerusalem, other than its scenery and riches, also boasts its hospitality of the people—in which curses are opted for prayers."

"I don't even go to church, so snap yer' trap, mister."

Sighing deeply, you leave your place from the open windowsill and make your path clumsily to the shadowed figure, taking note of his strange clothing that displayed a different life across various lands; for a man who said he was a travelling merchant, he sure loved to climb in unannounced through windows boldly, as if this place were his own and you were the one who was the trespasser. That itself, was quite suspicious, but the thing that really got you pondering hard (an impossible feat by the claims of others), was the fact that you had never actually seen his face or form in full light; the most you could discern are the dark pools of onyx and the few glimpses of his nose or cheekbones via Lady Moonlight, due to the fact that he stealthily came during the insanely nocturnal hours that you wished were utilized as sleeping ones.

He rested his forearm against his brow before he spoke again, his oriental accent obliviously perking your subconscious interest. "Do you study philosophy, my love?"

Are you frggin' kidding me? What kinda random question is that? "Sorry that I can't read or write, teacher; the only thing that I can do is scrawl my name," you reply with a dark sense of humor.

"So? What does that have to do with the aforementioned inquiry?"

This man was seriously feisty tonight. "Well, applying the previous statement, it's obvious I don't know any of that stuff—so stop trying to rub it in my face: Being a hobo in society does that to you, no shit."

"Inexperience and stupidity are not integrated categories; they differ to the point of parallel universes."

"Okay, see?" The rough linen was radiating heat—so warm, so tired, so irritating—when you got closer and hovered distantly over the sprawled being. "I had no idea what you just said," you retorted with a pout, "so please change your higher speaking to one for the idiots, yes?"

"You are not an idiot," he swiftly says, and before you know it, he somehow manages to land you on the bed with a supernatural streak of godly speed. "Simply, you were not exposed to such matters."

"Which shows that I clearly dropped out of school." It seemed that the ceiling had a new crack next to Mr. Big Red, up there by the deteriorating wooden shaft that was unavoidably going to kill you one day. "The only thing I know about philosophy is some dude named So Crappy and Totem Pole."

A breathy chuckle, and then, "Well, that's a start: Socrates and Ptolemy: Can you name any more?"

Laying here like this, next to his damnable cozy form on top of a shift that had hay scratching your back, it was beginning to make you droop your eyelids drowsily and make your mind wander to the various objects that were situated near the ceiling. It wasn't your fault! It was warm, the suffocating air of Greece was clogging up your sinuses, your boss was a total bastard for slapping your arse like a filthy swine, and you just wanted to ditch it all and sleep: Additionally, the man next to you who you've been … missing—much to your disturbance—was settled closely to you past the inconceivable hours of midnight offerings.

It did make your eyes snap a bit open, though, when you suddenly felt the heavy material of his clothing fold itself over your fingertips.

Ah, it was getting warmer.

At least, to you.

"W-Well, there's … um … er … Plate," you stammered subtly, briefly catching the ethereal accentuation of an olive complexion through a silver ray. "And … a-and Aristo-panty …"

"Good: Plato and Aristophanes. Anymore?"

" … " Frowning when he turned to look at you with his palm supporting his head, you furrowed your brow when the peeking shafts of illumination were lost to the bath of night that washed over his hooded face. "No … not really." You hesitantly reached out to touch his cheek, a bit relieved when he didn't turn away to brush it off. "Why?"

"Have you ever heard of the lost scrolls of Alexandria?"

" … a girl named Alex lost her stuff?"

Blushing, you slant your eyes when he unknowingly moved closer to pop his spine. "There were these important manuscripts that were once housed in the great library of Alexandria: Unfortunately, after the downfall of its ruler, the building was burnt, and the various documents were scorched along with their host."

"Okay … and what does that have to do with anything?"

"There was one anonymous account, however, that contained bits and pieces of what was believed to be several lines that were written within the parchments—vague, but the extent of knowledge is to be greatly admired: particularly, its myriad of philosophical implications and beliefs."

Um … so what exactly is he trying to tell me? Go to the library? "And this random thingy-mujig suddenly flooded into your mind?"

It was dizzying, to say the least, when you clearly perceived his dark, boring pools flickering across your heated face and a sure hand tucking a piece of rebellious hair behind a pink-tipped ear. "It says, verbatim: 'A man desires two things when he arrives home—an embrace, and a solid blow to his head by his partner.'"

A silence followed shortly, highlighting your mental task at identifying what the hell the quote was referring to—Altair hooding his knowing eyes as he flumped back down and began to crack his knuckles. Obviously, you were quite the turtle when it came to these things, and it really didn't cheer you up when spent another fifteen minutes rolling around, trying to figure out the answer; waiting was retarded—he'd never tell you, and curiosity was always a son of a bastard.

But you got it, anyway.

Gaping, you loathed the dark tinge of carnation that blossomed across your face at the startling revelation.

Oh, gods! This man! He … he … he thinks that I really am his … his … The embarrassing train of thought whizzed to and fro in your mental world. He never actually said that I was, for real … that I'm his important …

You squirmed lightly when a calloused finger traced a burning trail down the trembling mess of your palm. " Altair …"

But …

But this is home for him? you confusingly questioned yourself. Home? What about Jerusalem? His children? Even his friends … such saying cannot apply in this sense, can it? Not in this rundown—

"They say that home is where the heart is," the middle-eastern merchant flawlessly added; looking at you—an awkward heap being that resembled a stupid cow, he smoothly finished off the rest of his point that left you stunned and dazed to hysteria. "And I already discovered where it lies."

Oh my god, a-are you for real? Th-this guy's chutzpah goes up t-to the sky!

"That way, that man would know for certain that he is wanted—no, needed—even after a discomforting trial …"

His bold professions were stabbing you sharply in the gut, and you had a sick feeling that you were semi-masochistic because it didn't repulse you—it didn't make you want to run and hide like the last time: the dire images of your past that you wanted to cover up as much as the scar on his lip he wished to rub away in his troubled times. The sensations were making you feel lightheaded and—mysteriously—giddy, as if you were one of those noble schoolgirls rushing home after being given a token of affection from their crush, and you subconsciously wondered if his throbbing heart was beating as fast as yours.

But the last comment …

Why does he sound so … so strained, like it applies to him? Was it because of his nomadic life, family problems, and self guilt? That, you did not know, and it frustrated you that you couldn't do a single prominent thing to help ease away whatever was troubling him; how could you? Here you were, a prideful peasant who refused aid from every single being, poor, uneducated, brash: Power was a taste that belonged to the heavens.

Yet …

Yet!

Blessings were gifts from the gods.

"Hey … "

Shifting your body towards the tall male, your outstretched arm rested on the top of a defined shoulder, your weary orbs taking in the enigmatic silhouette of him as you thumped your forehead against his chest; it hurt a bit to feel the tensing of his muscles, as if he didn't know how to respond to the foreign proximity, but you dug into him a little further and relished the expensive linen and cotton against your overheated flesh.

Here, in this moment, lying without any thoughts of tomorrow with a man you sought out but weren't on familiar terms with, was all you needed; it didn't matter if you only saw him four times a year, learning small insignificant details rather than personal ones you ached to drink in: It didn't matter if you never fully saw his face or catch him sneaking in through your permanently open window.

It didn't matter if he was lying to you, or not.

"Don't be getting into a serious angst fest; alright?" you nervously laughed while a firm slap was delivered to his back. "See? Whyddya think those old geezers died early? 'Cause they, ya know, think too much, and their wrinkles make them paranoid."

To your relief, a mischievous glimmer was caught in the moonlight. "And I presume your hypothesis is an axiom?"

Thank god … or whatever nondenominational deity that exists … whew! It was about to get frggin' heavy in here …

Gnashing your teeth playfully, you huffed indignantly and poked him square on the sternum. "Had no idea what you effin' said, but damn straight—you're pretty face is gonna be as old as that ugly-arse pope up there, and trust me, he ain't pretty, even with his shiny hat on."

Your brain buzzed with a monotone line when he chuckled. "I'm pretty?"

" … oh, c'mon! You know what I mean; what am I supposed to say, 'you're sexy'?"

The deep tone reverberated in your ears as he laughed, you anxiously attempting to pinch his side but failing miserably. "That would be greatly appreciated."

"F.A.I.L.; not gonna happen, Sir Audacious."

"Touché."

Letting out your breath finally, your eyelids automatically began to close post-wordplay, an obvious reaction of all of the warmth between the two of you radiating past the tiredness expected near the end of twilight. It was already past your bedtime, and the mini depression-session that required deep contemplation had gotten to you, other than the fact that today was one of the shittiest days of your horrible month. Heaven-sent—you'd never believed in such sentimental crap, ever, but due to the aftermath, you somehow got an inkling of what the hell it meant: only if a tentative hand curled itself hesitantly around your wrist and the dark shadows of the familiar man greeted your presence without shades of grey.

And only if he was here—in the flesh.

"You damn fox, running away, "you sleepily mumbled against his large form. "fruggin' eel… gawd … ngghh …"

"Goodnight, little bird; rise at dawn."

Glaring futilely into the comfy material of his robes, you strongly try to fight off your drifting body, but his warm whisper that ghosted across the top of your head wasn't helping. " … ngh … n-ngh …"

"Sleep."

And just like that, you fell into a content slumber—one you've rarely had, solely if he was there beside you, without dreams or voices or any sounds, other than the rhythmic chirping of cicadas or the familiar calls of the sea.

Would he stay here? Would he leave before you awoke, such as every single time? Would you see him before the harvest season? Would he think about you as much as you—grudgingly—do?

Would he remember your eager face?

All those mundane questions, ones you've harbored for so long, you've invariably wanted them answered—you've wanted some from himself; you wanted him to stay; you wanted him to tell you that he was this and that, without speculation on your behalf.

But then you've realized that he wanted you to trust him; he wanted you to wait until he felt it was ready.

Slumber had never tasted like satisfaction until now.

Well, it was supposed to.

Psshhht! Like hell I'm ending this night cheesier than a fairytale!

You silently drew back your arm …

and punched him solidly on the stomach.

Smiling a wee evilly in satisfaction at the sound of a grunt, you then proceeded to nod off into sleep—this time for real. "C-Couldn't finish this time … ngh … without … without fulfilling the second p-part of the … yanno … quote, ya douche."

" …"

Altair smiled peacefully. "I appreciate that even more."