I…I don't know how to say this…so I just will. This is, in fact, the final chapter.
One thing I would like to include is an apology. This entire thing was basically plotless, and for that I am so sorry. It is the main reason that I am now regretting even starting this. It was the fruits of poor planning and the childish want to please the crowds. It would have been best to simply wrap it up at the end of Masquerade and forget this entire thing. So as of right now, this is the end of whatever the Dances series could have become. I may release some crack branches of this at some later, undetermined date, but I'm not sure yet.
On another note, if you find my hidden message, you…well, you don't get anything, really, except for maybe a mindfuck.
It's been my utmost pleasure being a source of entertainment for you all, but this, unless you read my other less-known fics, is my final farewell. It's been fun.
"Ahem . . . could I . . . could I have everybody's attention?" I waved my hand slightly, my cheek twitching slightly. I got a few heads turned, but I now had the reputation of complete lunatic. Not a one was going to really listen to me, except for perhaps Lucy and the rest from my time. My time. What an odd term. Ezio whistled loudly, and everyone turned their heads to observe us. Thanks, Ezio, for your odd . . . never mind.
"Uh . . . well, this goes without saying, but I think we all know that I'm a bit . . . well, not right." I let out a mad bark of laughter. There were a few nods, especially from Shaun and Malik. "So, after considerable study and basically the sacrifice of my own sanity, I'm . . . about ninety percent sure I can safely send you all back now. I'll . . ." I coughed slightly into my fist before hiding it behind my back. "I'll let you have your final goodbyes. Five minutes." I stumbled to a nearby chair and slumped down in it, carefully concealing my hand from Ezio, inconspicuously wiping the blood off on my pant leg.
I watched the clock morosely, keeping the time whilst observing the farewells of the characters. Malik and Shaun grudgingly shook hands under the careful surveillance of Lucy. Maria and Akilina nodded to each other, but were not quite comfortable enough to do anything beyond that. Desmond, Ezio and Altaïr shook hands as well—there was a lot of that going on. Altaïr and Akilina were now entwined together in a shadowed corner. I turned my eyes away, enduring the most awkward, sad, indifferent, unhappy five minutes of my pathetically short life.
After retrieving the Apple, I set it on the table non-too-gently. With a final glance at the gathered Assassins, I whispered, "Crusades first." I didn't need to say anything to use the Apple. But I did. Mad, remember?
Gold beams shot out from the orb, and a flash of light later, Malik, Altaïr and Maria had vanished. Gone.
Next came Akilina. I felt a bit bad about this one. Her stomach was a bit bigger than the last time I had seen her, and I was sorry, because I knew what was going to happen. Gold, flash, gone.
Then it was 2012's turn. I nodded to Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca. When my gaze fell to Desmond, I stopped. Letting go of the Apple, I walked over to the modern Assassin.
"I'm sorry." I murmured simply. There was nothing else to say. I gently wrapped my arms around his neck and pecked his cheek before returning to the Apple. Gold. Flash. Gone.
Now there was only me. It was going to be difficult to get myself where I needed to be, as I was the one using the bloody thing, but I could do it. I smiled back at Leonardo. He waved slightly, looking a bit dumbfounded as to what was going on. Then I turned to look at Ezio. He wasn't smiling.
"You know what, Ezio?" I asked thoughtfully, rolling the Apple back and forth across the table. "It's always been you. You just had to ask." He looked a bit shocked; the Assassin blinked before reaching down to grab my shivering hand. I had just enough time to look up before he bent down and kissed me. It was unlike our other kiss, given in petty competition. It was much softer; my heart felt like it was about to leap from my chest.
"You know what the best part about this is?" I asked as he pulled away slightly.
"I'm with the most beautiful girl on this earth?" Ezio asked charmingly.
"Nope." I whispered, gold light encasing the workshop. "You won't remember a thing." Flash.
My knees made contact with something soft and white. My carpet. I stayed there on all fours for a moment, shaking, before breaking down completely. Tears dripped down my nose and cheeks, falling freely. How long I stayed like that was a mystery. Eventually, though, I stumbled to my feet and somehow managed to turn on the news. Five minutes of blindly watching later, I found what I was looking for. The date. October 15, 2012. No significance. But it had worked. I'd done it.
I cried some more.
"Hey, Leah . . . what's up?"
"Thank God you answered your damn phone for once! Listen . . . something's wrong with Anna."
"And by 'wrong' you mean . . .?"
"She's a bit insane. Like, for real this time."
"Well . . . let me see her. Then we can decide . . . what to do."
"Jack!" The woman ran to catch up with her co-worker. He stopped to wait for her, a slight smile on his face.
"Don't you think we should wait for any of the others?" He asked devilishly.
"No need." She added with a wink. They were about to exit when she suddenly perked up, as if remembering something. "Oh! Damn paperwork . . . I need to go back for just a second, okay?"
"Come one, it's the holidays!"
"I can't leave all that. . ."
She jogged through the building before stopping at her desk, grabbing a file and a group of other miscellaneous papers. Before she could leave again, however, she was greeted by Will; the young man smiled at her.
"Quite a day, huh, Robin?"
Robin furrowed her brow, turning to walk away. "Yeah, sure . . . listen, I kind of have—"
"Did you hear about what happened to the subject in room 772?"
The woman stopped and turned back around as Jack jogged up to meet the two. "No, I hadn't heard. What happened?"
"Well, so, you know Gary?"
"Just the one!"
"Right. Get on with it."
"Well, so, he was making his rounds this afternoon. . ."
I hate this company. Gary thought as he walked through the cold halls. He opened the door to room 769, moved his flashlight around to check that the patient was still there before closing the door, locking it, and moving on. I hate them all. Too bad I need the money. It was the same thing over and over again. Open door 770, check inside, lock it, keep walking. Who's going to break into a nuthouse anyway? It's just a little metal rectangle with a nut inside. Open door 771, check inside, lock it, keep walking. He stopped at the next door. What a piece of work she is. Gives me the goosebumps every time I walk past here. Carefully, he opened the heavy door and peeked inside. Hope she's just dreaming some crazy dream.
She was awake. The second the door creaked open, she spun around to stare at the guard. "What day is it?" She asked.
Always the same question. "It's December 21, 2012." Gary answered in a monotone.
She jumped to her feet and sprinted at the open door. Gary jumped in shock and had just enough time to shut the door before he heard her slam against the metal on the other side, a blood-curdling scream echoing from the other side.
"No! You don't understand!" She cried madly. He could hear her scratching futilely against the door with her fingernails, making horrific screeching noises. "You have to let me out! I KNOW THE TRUTH! I KNOW THE TRUTH! I KNOW THE TRUTH!"
They don't believe me.
They never will.
I wish I didn't care.
But I do.
Scars on my arms still remained. Over time, they had healed into thin pink lines, and now they had turned pale crème, blending with the rest of my skin, save for it being slightly raised, as scars usually were. Nightmares haunted me, even in my waking hours. At first, I had thought that getting out of Abstergo would stop the visions, but I was wrong. Even now, in this horrid, sterile place, I saw faded images of soldiers or birds of prey, disappearing and appearing at random intervals. Every day, I woke up wishing that today would be the day that the ghosts would vanish from my life. But they never did.
And deep down, I knew they never would.