Disclaimer: Not Mine. The End.
A/N: The one sentence challenge from LJ's 1fandom community all set in AC1. Interpret the relationships as you wish. I personally see Altair and Malik eventually developing a deep and abiding friendship (close to the concept of agape) but you can decide whether to tip the scale to romantic or not.
I rearranged the sentences (and consequently the theme order) to make more sense chronologically.
No Weapons, Just Words
By, Nicole Silverwolf
"Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them, that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of things themselves." -John Addison
The Brotherhood was not created by any single individual and as the ranks swelled from a few to many, so did the need for a set of rules to guide them.
Al Mualim watched from the tower overlooking the whole of Masyaf and the approaching caravan with a critically appraising eye.
To say they were sweating the first time they found themselves scolded by Master Al Mualim was true; it neglected the part about how every encounter was the same.
"If I die because you miss, I'll haunt you," Malik growled while a preoccupied Altair carefully aimed his throwing knife at the apple balanced on top of the elder's head.
Altair felt the reverberation in his teeth, managed to hold onto the sword and just barely countered Malik's sharp training blow.
Elegance wasn't a requirement in their profession, but there was something beautiful about deploying a hidden blade accurately so there were mere instants between life and a painless death.
Senses on the highest alert, a single Templar moved cautiously slow into the clearing that to the average eye would seem deserted.
Each of the major cities had a rhythm of their own, but every mission followed a routine that never changed.
White shadows shielded face and eyes so that no one ever knew exactly which of them it was that struck.
The paper was eaten by flames that greedily devoured any trace of instruction.
Malik and Kadar were rare exceptions to the Brotherhood, most never knew who their blood siblings were if they even had any.
Wings that easily spanned the length of outstretched arms flashed gold in the light, fluttering as the raptor wheeled away from the perch now occupied by a crouching man.
A leap of faith required precision, skill and a level of confidence that novices occasionally interpreted as recklessness.
Sharing water skins was not a gesture taken lightly in a country where the liquid was scarce and yet Altair didn't think twice about handing his over to Malik.
There was unspoken but definite trust between them built over thousands of insignificant moments strung together by coincidences.
It was rare to be scolded for your mistakes; death was more often the punishment for failing in the field.
"If he's screaming he's still alive," the healer growled at his two assistants who continued holding Malik down and watched the older man with terrified eyes.
Standing inside the small nearly featureless room made it nothing more than a shelter without his brother there to share it.
Hand clutching at bandages futilely, Malik's expression became stoic and impassive as the healer finally admitted it would always ache.
Staring down at the broken dagger-Kadar's precious totem when alive—Malik half wondered if the fight to stay among the living was worth it.
It was a thousand different things to relearn, yet Malik's stubbornness helped when he decided to climb out of the bureau on his own.
It was unnatural, flooding every corner of his world and it made Altair flinch violently every time mist came on the heals of death.
For a brief second Desmond glanced a reflection of Altair (of himself) in still waters, enough to confirm they could have been twins.
He wasn't sure why he was surprised that the midnight robes they draped him in felt no different than the clothes of a novice or a master assassin.
Every time they crossed paths it was with sharp, angry words and tension pushing them further apart.
The words were rote, yet depending on where he was 'safety and peace' could remind him of the home he had or the betrayal he'd committed.
A flat hand across the air was enough to stop any explanation, excuse or apology Altair could have made.
"You can figure out what to do for yourself; it's clear you don't need my advice," Malik growled from behind the Bureau's desk, furious enough to deny Altair the assistance the mission required.
The soft thump of entry to the Bureau was unmistakable, but when there was no answering shift that followed, Malik slid cautiously from his seat dagger in hand.
Hours of frantic medical patching later, it was still debatable but possible that Altair would survive to tell him it was 'just a scratch'.
Altair found it amazing how a pile of worn pillows and threadbare blankets could bring such comfort so long as he was in Jerusalem's Bureau.
"It won't kill you to ask," Altair pointed out when Malik climbed to his side and warmly snarked "I know and I'll ask when I need it."
Staring across the port city of Acre towards the isolated tower in the bay, Altair regretted never learning how to navigate the water outside of pawing through it.
Altair didn't make the mistake twice; Malik had developed a roundhouse kick that left bone deep bruising to compensate for the absence of his arm.
There were days when the urge to run across roofs, crisscrossing the city just for the joy of freedom tugged hard enough that they closed the bureau to indulge it.
More than a hasty (if honestly heartfelt) apology before his last mission in Jerusalem, Altair found his way to forgiveness by treating Malik no differently than when he had both of his arms.
"There will always be more novices to train," Master Al Mualim pronounced shortly, "and some of them will not survive."
"Because the wisest person I ever knew made me promise to come back," Altair said with no small amount of pride at the shock written across Malik's eyes.
Master level assassins rarely had time to personally train novices, but Altair was strangely always willing to take a moment with even the youngest member.
"It won't show you everything Altair, it's just taking parts of you!" Malik shouted at the man gripping a golden trinket in shaking hands.
The light was too bright to blame on candle alone and Malik raged until he found Altair slumped asleep at the desk for the first time in days.
The shift might have gone unnoticed to anyone, but a master assassin was trained to notice the codex had been moved and read while he slept.
"When did you come up with this?" Malik asked-genuinely curious-as he fingered the rough design for the right handed hidden blade.
"Come inside before you end up on your back for weeks; we're not novices anymore and it's damn cold out."
Words failed him that first morning, and for years after Malik teased him about the first lesson Altair ever had to teach and how terrified of children he'd been.
Novice was only a description and yet somehow it became an endearment between them long after both had rose to the rank of Masters of the Order.
The Brotherhood's archives were some of the largest in the known world, filled with recorded knowledge rarer than any polished stone.
It would be generations but eventually the walls and towers of Masyaf were ground into unrecognizable dust.
"Sometimes I wonder if these words will survive whatever is to come after us," Altair admitted one day after a heated argument over the Apple's use.
History would not remember the loss of Malik's arm or the part that Altair played in its death, but that single mistake shaped every action of the Order thereafter.
So...comments, criticisms, flames, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading.