For the love of God, this was why he didn't want to come back to America and suffer all her "nationalistic traditions"—drinking rotten beer, scoping women with assets that rivaled those of Barbie, swallowing grease, and whatever the hell Neanderthals did. It was here at this time, chugging his liquor, that he wondered why the hell a bill was taking so long to prepare, why the hell he was feeling so agitated at all of this raucous he experienced everyday in New York. His thoughts soon gravitated towards the extreme, and there was no helping it.

He should never have transferred out of Oxford, never have sold his penthouse in London, never have applied for a long-term visa, never have stepped out of the airport.

Never have given into this idiot who looked at him with confusion at its alpha stage.

"Shaun? Hey?"



"What?" he snapped, downing his fourth bottle. Just how weak was their stash? He was pretty sure a squirrel could finish off two and still hype around. "What do you want?"

"You okay, man?"


"Yeah." Desmond rubbed at his chin, what Shaun noticed to be a habit he brought around in times of awkwardness, and sighed, his fingers toying with a french-fry. He took a sip of his Coke before he gestured over to poor Kadar, who seemed to want to blend into the counter. "Like I said: I'm sorry about all this. I'm eating really quickly, so—"

"It's fine."

"You don't sound fine."

"Miles, I said that I'm fine. I just want the bill to be here."

" … Alright. But—"

Shaun quirked an eyebrow when his shirt was tugged, turning around to address whatever nonsensical problem there was with his current life. No sooner did he gesture for Kadar to hand him another beer was something hot pressed against his lips, something salty and familiar, and before he knew it, his mouth strayed and took it without his mind's consent. He shook his head and rest his gaze on the other as he got ready to admonish the hell out of him—whatever he put into his mouth, he nearly forgot due to his exasperation. However, just as he was about to make his sarcasm be the first stone cast, he stopped in his plans and readjusted his frames, his set beer left unopened.

It was a French fry, he found, chewing on it slowly as he watched the other look at him strangely, like he was concentrating very on something to be concentrated because he could not concentrate on that particular subject before. He distracted himself with the oh-so-intelligent discovery of greasy potatoes and sodium chloride on his tongue in order to not address the gaze that fixated on him. This was awkward, and though Desmond Miles personified awkwardness, Shaun Hastings was not supposed to be in the limelight of the making of this weird lacuna. He expected the latter to go back to eating after the rude shoving of junk against his lips—after all, the idiot had an attention span of a horsefly deciding upon whether it wished to devour horse manure or kitty vomit, and he had been bitching about his black hole of a stomach for ages. To suddenly have his—unwanted, mind you; unwanted—attention for more than forty-seven seconds was terribly uncomfortable.

Very terribly uncomfortable.

"What? Do I have something horrendous on my face?" his voice challenged, the need to break this moment overruling the tiny bit of poise he had. "Like a zit? Or maybe I have a horn growing out of my eye?"


"Well, whatever it is that is making you pucker up like a virgin, I don't really care for it. Simply, hurry up." His voice then dropped to a dead whisper. "You know we have a contract tonight. We need to get ready quickly."

The mention of the new assassination mission seemed to bring Desmond back from La La Land, judging by the way he shook his head and took another bite out of his hot dog. This primate may be the clumsiest, graceless, and most ill at ease moron in the universe, but he was a flawless assassin who was one of the highest ranked in the Brotherhood. And surprisingly, an ace when it comes to chemistry and physics. God, Shaun thought as he tasted the remnants of the fry, today was just one big mess.

"I am about to ring up the damn manager if the bill doesn't come in one minute and thirty-nine seconds," he huffed, grimacing at the cheap taste of beer. It seemed as if that Kadar-guy transferred his pansy ways into the alcohol, because this shit was worse than the Kit Kat Bars at the Ninety-Nine Cents Store. "This is just ridiculous—"

And then, it was back again—that eerie look that dominated Desmond's face, made his eyes widen and lock onto him like he was Jesus, or something. He was taken aback at the abrupt change in demeanor, and it made him uneasy when the other's hand latched onto his wrist with strength he took for granted. It was now, bringing his body back as Desmond moved closer, that he was starting to wonder if he really did qualify for a freak-show, or if he caused an idiotic revelation; his mind had dropped the acknowledgement of the annoying buzz of the restaurant, and he didn't even register the monochrome lighting, as he blinked heavily in wary expectancy. Something didn't feel right.

Or maybe his head didn't feel right. He knit his brow when the latter's thumb brushed against his lip, and it didn't take a dolt to know that the touch was prolonged when it neared the tip of his tongue. Probably it was now that his "classy gentlemen" instincts kicked in and warned him that this was a dangerous scene—dangerous, which meant that everyone could see this cursed moment: see how his eyes widened behind his lenses, the Vans that lightly slid over his Converse, the heat that forced him to breathe deeply, the sudden nearness of both of them. He tried to pull out of that hold, but found that he couldn't, and all he could do was sit still as that thumb played over his mouth, ran over it in a way that could only be tagged as obsessive.


"You had some salt on your lip," the assassin stated, though his tone was laced with a guttural note that prevented it from being normal. "Some salt … Shit."

"What are you—"

"I'm not stupid, Shaun." A breath. "I see the way you wrap your lips around that beer bottle. I see that clearly, the whole fucking time."

What the he didn't even—

"You left that salt there on purpose?" There was that laugh again. "Yeah, you probably did. You always had those damn D.S.L's, anyway."




The restaurant then seemed much too quiet, much too hushed, as it everyone was watching this Twilight Zone cinema with all the zeal they could muster. Shaun could find no words to throw at that hooded gaze and wicked voice, the thumb that swept one last time over his lips before it made its way to its owner's tongue; he couldn't shake himself, nor could he rebuke this entire diner for this closed moment under the microscope. It was truly a moment where the scaled tipped completely in favor of raw confusion and mortification over that inner conscience that strummed its lyre as fast as it could for some much needed attention.

Was the apocalypse over now?

"I already paid the bill."

No, it was just beginning.

"So lick those pretty lips of yours."