"You are mine."

At that comment, Altair turns and frowns, temporarily forgetting that fresh blood was dripping off the glint of his blade. He acutely regards the languid man leaning on the crate before him before he dips the feather along the curve of his target's neck.

There is no request for explanation—Ezio knows that already.

But the quirk of his lips as the Grand Master walks away is enough to know that he has caught his attention, one who had so long seemed closed to all admissions.


Ezio extinguishes all previous tactics that have worked on his other goals. He knows—he has experienced—the all too impatient disposition of Altair, and no man has the desire for candid measures to be taken so greatly but for the latter. Thus, he recoils and strikes without preparations for seduction of the basal necessities: They are null. He can only present the most primal of declarations for the effect to take place.

"Buongiorno, Gran Maestro."

It is simple.


But it will do for now.


He does not know what is happening.

Nothing of the sort registers in Altair's mind as he listens to Malik drone on about the day's proceedings, his mind fixated on a thought that ate away at the recesses of his consciousness. A fool he must have been, if the silent inquiry of his advisor's brow could have been any louder—so much that when he sends the other away, his teeth clench at a brief flutter of red and amusement that ring in his ears.

An oath tumbles out of his mouth when he realizes that it was only the wind.


It is working.

Ezio has never been that bold before, on the day that signaled the last assassination of the year before a new agenda was set forward by the Order. He has invariably shown—played the cards, even—the open palm of his hand through a gaze that allowed every single body to know the obsession that had been elevated to a pedestal. He has proved and taken, countered back in the arts of snaring, but alas, the Son of None does not acknowledge the strain of his labor. That day that he had finally rose to the occasion had been the start of the Manifest.

"Ezio, the Grand Master wishes to see you."

Time can only tell.


Never in his life has Altair clenched his fist so tightly.

And never has he looked at a man in a different way.

But Altair continues to press his palms against the windowpane of his high tower, looking down at the training arena with his brow knit in utmost confusion. His eyes, he grudgingly notices, are locked onto one man, and one man only, directing recruits to follow his lead in the art of the kill. His lips thin when a fellow student indulges fully in letting his teacher support him in perfecting a certain stance, and he nearly demands a nearby guard to halt the training, just to abate a strange pull in the back of his throat. He damns that fool—damns himself—before he wrenches his eyes away and meets the knowing gaze of Malik.

"Will you yield?"

His fingers sting.

"Or will you seize the day?"


"Altair has already left, if you are looking for him."


Quickly, he steps around her to the open doorway and maintains his façade, catching sight of the group of scholars that warmly beckons him forward. Their shoulders must not brush, must not even come within a sane distance of each other, lest they both lost their hold on the man that spurned many with an indifferent flicker of his eyes. Ezio does not take too kindly to the Templar woman, not even the aristocratic beauty that others claim as being ethereal—he has no need to pursue but for one man that now displays diminutive cracks in his armor, things he cherishes more than he likes to admit. It is not so much of a game, anymore. Thorpe is one in the sea that creates the void between him and the amber of that gaze.


Surely, it cannot be so great.

"We need to talk."


Jurisdiction had no play in these waters.

And indignation from absence is asinine, but Altair feels the rapid, sharp burn of it, regardless of whether time stopped or flowed without remorse. He makes no sense: None of this makes any sense, to know that such a line rendered him useless. He must be weak, a man unfit to handle a matter that is not defend as lust nor fickle attraction—how all of this came to be within a short amount of time, after all the years Ezio has been with him, causes him to reconsider the fortress installed around himself after the fall of Al Mualim. He had chosen to turn a blind eye to all signs of emotional comfort, but the subtle flicker of the other man's gaze has him counting each breath.

Stop it.

He must stop.

But why is it that he himself seeks the scar upon that lip?


Ezio, for the second time in his life, finds himself at a loss of words, at a border that could not be crossed once more with blunt lines and apparent maneuvers. Both of them have chosen to not seek each other—a desire for that platonic relationship above the cold grip of rejection could have been his excuse, denial and makeshift indifference for the latter. It is ironic that those around him already know of this predicament before he and Altair could radiate the strain of their plight. But he carries on, acknowledging hope to be the Grand Master's eyes upon him when he seemed not to notice, one day knowing that he would call upon it. He remembers the brief warmth of Altair's knuckles on his palm as he passes him a sword, the slightest tinge of sanguine heat on his cheeks, before they had awkwardly broke apart into the outer circle—yesterday seeming like a millennium ago. And now, futility had been strangled.


Those footsteps are all too loud, but he could not care.



"Turn around—turn around, Altair."

Do not run.

"Look at me."

He cannot hold back any longer.

"I have you now."

"Remove yourself."

He grasps a wrist that scorches the pads of his fingers.

"Say my name as I hold on, for I will not let you go."


Not ever.


"Why now?"


"Why is that you do this now?"

"I say only the truth."

However, truth runs thicker than blood, Altair wishes to say, his back pressed against the stone of the castle, the other's eyes on him, much like a hawk, the sudden confrontation in the lengthy while pillaging his chest. Carnal factors bleed through his fingertips, his tongue heavy from perplexity and anger at how the other had seemed so unaffected while he had been subject to mental dilapidation. What cruel sorcery had this been?

"You must look at me."

Since when had he resembled a lost child?

"I have tried all that I know—every last script, every last stance. I have lost myself, created a fool who has no shame, whatsoever. I have lost my lips, my eyes, my ears, my hands." Intensity magnifies as Ezio lifted fingers that held the slightest of quivers up to the curve of his cheek, as if he dared to touch a god in all the sins of the flesh. "Merda, say my name." He caves. "Do not do this—I am naught but a desperate man."


"You play me for a fool."

"I am the fool."

Weakness, was that it? Altair seems not to take heed of the foreign sensation as an equally heated forehead rests against his own, that this touch was one he had been craving for countless nights, as much as the quirk of those lips. He relents as soon as he takes the next breath.

And as his mouth molds over another, Altair realizes that he had always been an impatient man—one indubitably resurfaced, uncovered after all those years of loss and denial.


"You are mine."

Altair does not ask—he had never needed to, in all those days when he had first seen him. Thus, he calls his name, not the middle, nor the last, but simply his name, and Ezio smiles at the light stroke along his neck.


There is no need for explanation.

"You are mine," Altair reciprocates.

From the first to the last that had clearly been undefined.