An Assassin's Creed Fanfiction,by Little Miss AiLy

Rating: T

Warnings: mild cursing, implications of homosexual relationships, mild jabs at both British and American people/stereotypes, and some serious angst

Pairing(s): (implied) one-sided Shaun/Des, (implied) Altair/Malik

Summary: The one Arabic word that Shaun knows is 'Habibi', and it's the one word he'll always remember. One-sided Shaun/Des, implied Altair/Malik.

Shaun knows he should be worried when he wakes up one morning to find Miles curled into his side and sleepily sighing the word Habibi over and over again.

And yes, Shaun does know what the word Habibi means, even if he'll never learn any other words of Arabic. Why does he know this? Well, he's British, and - little known fact - Britain's third favorite past time (behind colonizing the shit out of things and drinking tea) is listening to other cultures' pop music.

'This is why we never win Eurovision,' Shaun insists. 'We spend too much time reminiscing our lost empire, drinking tea, and listening to other peoples' music, rather than making our own.' Shaun personally admits himself an affinity with Arabic pop music and Italian pop music; take that however you will.

But that is beyond the point. The point is: Shaun knows what Habibi means. It's the Arabic equivalent of "darling" or "sweetheart" or "beloved" or whatever else sort of inane endearments people use.

Shaun also knows that Miles is still contentedly curled into his side, dare-he-say-it cuddling, and is most definitely awake and aware - and Shaun doesn't know why it's taken him this long to register these facts enough for him to finally shove the damn Assassin wannabe off of his bed. This is Shaun's bed, his place of sanctuary, solitude, safety, and other nice things that start with an 's'. It does not need some half-insane Assassin descendent mucking it up with his giant American form taking up all the space, though Shaun admits that Desmond - Miles - is actually a bit shorter than him, and perhaps slighter, but the latter isn't important. The man is American: he's supposed to be grotesquely large, not that bit shorter than Shaun that makes him comfortable to fit his body around, nor trim and solid and warm and nice smelling and comforting and - Shaun is getting off track again.

Clearly, Shaun has started going stir-crazy, or so he asserts to himself, otherwise he would never think such things of Desmond Miles. And that, that name, needs no definition; it's just Miles.

So, finally, mastermind Shaun Hastings does what he should have done from instinct the moment he woke up: he shoves Miles unceremoniously off his bed and glares at him on the floor as if he's affronted him horribly, brought dishonor on the entire Brotherhood, and went further to desecrate his ancestors' graves. After all, for Shaun, creeping into his bed without permission - as if he'd ever give Miles permission - is the equivalent of all such things, perhaps even with the addition of the insult of pouring out his favorite tea and insulting the Queen. (The Queen, after all, is a very classy and respectable lady, something a bloody wanker of an American could never understand, and did not deserve insults from someone so unknowledgeable.)

And in that glaring is when Shaun finally sees it: the golden glint to Miles's - Desmond's - eyes, the fond look of familiarity towards being shoved around, and the deliberately relaxed stance of his body, as if his body is actually trained to be always in a fighting stance. Finally, Shaun sees it. He is not really looking at Desmond Miles; instead, he is looking at Desmond's long-dead ancestor Altair Ibn-la-Ahad. Shaun has never held more disdain for his re-assignment to a desk job, ever, because if there's one thing Shaun hates more than having to share his sanctuary - and admitting that for certain persons he has no problem doing so - it is that he does not like being stuck in predicaments in which he has to admit to and act on caring for Desmond fucking American Miles. But the Bleeding Effect is the one thing that always takes it out of him.

Shaun admits it: he can't fight that. He can't pretend that he hates - can't even deny that he maybe really cares about, likes, evenly slightly is in love with - Desmond. Not when Desmond isn't really Desmond, not when Desmond curls into his side, thinking that Shaun and Desmond are Malik and Altair respectively. It is one thing that Shaun has to break his own bleeding heart ever single time he sees the eyes that Desmond sends Lucy, but it is another thing altogether to see Desmond-Altair-whoever's heart shattering and cracking and crumbling and scattering just by a little defensive callousness from Shaun-thought-to-be-Malik. It may not really be Desmond that Shaun is seeing right before him, but it is still Desmond's face - a face that falls and becomes etched deep with lines that should not be there on a 20-something-year-old man. Shaun cannot, will not, does not even want to fight that.

So, even though it wrenches out his heart to know that what is happening for him is not really happening and will not ever, ever happen outside of these damnable hallucinations of Desmond's, Shaun pretends like he understands as Desmond - Altair - sheepishly smiles and mutters something softly in Arabic. Shaun may never learn more Arabic, but he knows enough from body language to give a small and resolute nod to what he assumes is - and is actually - a request to rejoin him in bed. Only, it's not really a request to join him; it's a request to join Malik. Shaun knows he is no Malik, nor is Desmond any sort of Altair, but it doesn't stop him from letting Desmond - Altair - climb back into the bed and burrow into Shaun's open, always fucking open, arms. Shaun's firm grasp on reality also doesn't stop him from curling his arm around Desmond - Altair, he continues to remind himself - and enjoy the little bit of warmth he's going to get before Desmond shakes out of it again.

And when Desmond comes back again, Shaun again gives the assurances that "it" means nothing and that Altair had merely been asking for the comfort of a friend, his only friend. Shaun also gives the assurance that he will not tell Lucy or Rebecca about these episodes - episodes that are getting more and more frequent, are lasting longer and longer, and are enveloping both Shaun and Desmond's emotions more and more strongly. But if Desmond is willing to brush it off and keep going, then Shaun can do that much if only to keep his heart intact. If he just keeps running steadily enough, he can pretend that he is not tired of continually lugging around the pieces of his heart that break apart more each day while simultaneously becoming heavier and harder to bare. Shaun can do this, for the team, for the Brotherhood, for himself, and most of all for Desmond. He knows that Desmond has a heavy guilt complex - he'd never forgive himself for leaving the Farm after learning that staying there would have prevented Abstergo and the Templars from the many advantages they now held, no matter how great his own disdain for the Farm. And Shaun knows that Desmond's guilt complex would be too great to handle if he were to realize how much Desmond crushes his heart each and every day with the tiniest things, like smiling at him but smiling that bit brighter at Lucy, or like coming to him in private for comfort but openly expressing his need for Lucy's attention. Shaun never knew how heavy an armful of powder really could be, but that is a weight he will carry forever so long as Desmond never notices it.

This is why Shaun pushes and shoves and blocks off people, armoring himself in harsh words and aggressive gestures. But this is also why, later in the evening when Desmond crawls miserably into Shaun's lap - the girls are off shopping - sobbing and desperately crying and simultaneously screaming and whispering, having some sort of panic-or-anxiety-type attack - Shaun doesn't know; he's not some psychologist by any stretch of the imagination -; all of this is why Shaun does not have any problems pulling Desmond into his lap and wrapping his arms around him and just letting him cry, even if the tears soak through Shaun's sweater straight to his skin, much warmer than he expected and stinging him, even if only in his mind. Shaun can feel his heart tearing itself apart so much more now than when Desmond sends his little gestures of adoration Lucy's way. This, this is why his heart fits better now in an hourglass than in any sort of box.

If Shaun thinks it devastating to see the hurt in Desmond's eyes as Altair, nothing can prepare him for the typhoon of destruction blowing over him as he sees Desmond - actually Desmond - breaking apart right in his arms. So Shaun builds walls and armor and he circles it all around himself, with Desmond in the core. Shaun makes himself into the fortress he's always thought that he himself needed, and he envelopes Desmond. Nothing will break this man - Shaun's love, Shaun's Habibi - ever again, not Abstergo, not the Templars, not the Animus, not the Brotherhood, and not Lucy. Shaun doesn't care that he practically has to throw the bits of his own heart to the wind to take care of Desmond. Damnitall, he loves him. That is all that bleeding matters, and that is all that keeps Shaun solid enough to keep protecting Desmond.

When the girls return, Desmond is asleep on his bed in the corner, Shaun is sitting against the wall beside it, casually reading from a book of poems, and the atmosphere has tangibly shifted. No one questions the sharp look to Shaun's eyes as they flash over Lucy, because they all know - know of the devastation that a woman can do to a man's heart, know that Desmond didn't deserve that - but they also know that Lucy would only send Desmond away in such a fashion for a reason. Shaun chooses not to think about that right now. Right now, all that matters is watching Desmond and taking care of Desmond and growing back new parts for Desmond's heart, since hearts never really heal back the same way they were before. Right now, all that matters is that when Desmond needs to wake up to eat and to train and to get into the Animus, Shaun will be the one to murmur into his ear. And maybe with time Shaun will be the one to wrap his arms around Desmond, whispering Habibi countless times, feeling a smile tug on lips beside his collar bone, and Shaun will have grown a new heart to replace the one he threw away for Desmond fucking Miles. But this is not some time later; this is now, and right now, Shaun has to make sure he never sees that look in Desmond's - Miles's - his Habibi's - eyes ever again.

Author's notes:

I've been feeling off-and-on angsty for the past month or so, and last night a plot bunny tackled me hard such that it appears all my emotions came out in this. Anyway, it's been a while since I've written fanfiction, but here it is for your reading pleasure (or displeasure). Hope you enjoyed it!

- Little Miss AiLy