Authors note: Ok, so I've decided to scrap where I was going with this and end it here. Now, before you begin to wonder why, let me explain.
I have decided to use this fic as a...well, sort of a set up or prologue to it's sequel - that's actually going to go somewhere. I was going to have this one go somewhere but I decided the plan wasn't viable. But this fic is going to be very useful when I'm writing the follow on - it means I don't have to go through all the faff of having the characters get to know each other etc etc.
Have no fear, the next one will be a damn site better than this, seeing as this was my first ever fic and I was merely finding my feet.
So keep a sharp eye, the sequel will be coming soon...
...and it'll have more Rory :D
After the greetings had been exchanged and Rory had bristled swiftly when the charming assassin kissed his wife on the hand, Amy pulled the Doctor away to one side, as subtle and gently as she could without arising suspicion.
"Doctor, something's been bothering me since we got here. The people talking in little groups, the poster, the soldiers shouting, him - there are bits of Italian thrown in here and there. I thought the TARDIS translated everything, we haven't had any trouble before."
"Hmm…"the Doctor frowned and looked at the Italian who was now gesticulating at Rory (who looked somewhat out of his depth) and clenched his jaw in thought. "I don't know, there's something interrupting the circuit somewhere. Something very, very powerful is in this city and I don't like the feeling that it's causing."
"Can't you sense it?" asked the Doctor, mildly taken aback by the red headed girl that was usually so perceptive. "There's a dark cloud hanging over Florence even though it's a bright day. A feeling of unrest coming from it's people. And a feeling of urgency coming from our assassin friend over there."
"Yeah…about him, Doctor. Do you get the impression that there's…I dunno, something off about him?"
"You're still concerned about his big fall into the hay cart?"
Amy simply nodded and watched as the assassin drew his sword and passed it to Rory. This time it was her turn to frown as she wondered what the hell was going on.
Even though she was restrained in her removal of herself and the Doctor from the conversation, Ezio had noticed Amy's subtle request for an isolated conversation and took the opportunity to switch his attention to the man who had said very little. Rory too had noticed his wife's movements and had fully expected an awkward silence - what he got, however, was the intense and questioning stare of the man who had a blade to his throat moments before. It was as much as he could do not to wilt but instead he stiffened and braced himself for whatever was to come.
"Your lady seems to think you can handle yourself." His tone was surprisingly gentle, yet there was an undertone of humour there - Ezio didn't believe Amy's threat but he had to be certain. And Rory didn't like the smirk that was forming on his lips one bit.
"Well I…she…"he fumbled for words, nervously glancing over to where his wife and the Doctor chatted in thought, wondering what the hell she had gotten him into now.
Ezio arched a single eyebrow at Rory's blathering but remained silent as the man sweated and fidgeted on the spot under his gaze. The assassin was distinctly unimpressed.
"Yeah…I don't know." Rory was still stumbling over himself, getting more and more unsure about what the assassin was actually asking.
"But can you handle a sword? Savonorola's guards are not a friendly bunch at the best of times," the assassin gesticulated with a vague hand wave in the direction of the Duomo before pointing more forcefully at the increasingly tense Rory but all the while keeping his voice low enough so that the pair off to one side couldn't hear. "And if you cannot protect your lady then you should tell her straight and stop her from potentially dropping you all into a trouble your clever friend cannot get you out of."
Ezio's words were working and Rory was beginning to bite, his fists clenching at the accusations being so casually flung at him. He hadn't protected Amy for two thousand years to be insulted by some Italian upstart.
"I can wield a sword you know."
Just the reaction Ezio was hoping for and he beamed happily and exclaiming "molto bene!" before drawing his sword and offering the hilt to Rory.
"Uh…what am I meant to do with that?"
"Wha? I don't."
"Prove you can hold your own."
Hesitantly, Rory took hold of the hilt, wrapped in a well-worn leather that had obviously been replaced many times in it's history. He had seen quite a few swords before but none were as fine in quality as the one he held in his hand right now. It was incredibly old and yet the blade, shorter than usual, was unmarked and looked brand new. The guard, shaped like wings, matched the end of the hilt which curved into a delicate eagle. It was balanced perfectly and Rory swung it and listened to it's sharp edge slicing through the air with a silent reverie. Ezio merely watched on, smiling in approval.
Amy, now watching her husband aghast and about to speak, the Doctor silenced her with a slight touch to her arm. For some reason, he trusted the assassin and, because the Doctor did, so did Amy even if she didn't know his motives.
"Bene, so you do know how to wield a blade. Now, come at me." Bare handed, the assassin widened his stance and motioned for the armed Rory to attack. Rory just stood there, gaping like a fish and staring at the Italian in disbelief. Was he actually asking him to attack him, an unarmed man, with a sword that looked sharp enough to cut through the thickest armour?
"Uh…I don't think- "
"Don't think, act." Ezio barked, commanding and angry, enough to make Rory flinch and thrust the sword forward.
The sword arced upwards and was caught by the deflecting bracer of the assassin who lunged forward - still empty handed - to jab the tips of his fingers into Rory's ribs just below his heart. "Dead," he stated, smirking and waiting for the penny to drop.
And drop it did, the Last Centurion backing away and widening his stance. He was still unsure about this, but there was such a smug air of confidence around the Italian that drove him forward.
Swing after swing was countered and dodged, Ezio's fingers hit him everywhere; from between the shoulder blades to directly below his chin. And all would have been fatal had he been armed. Amy watched, mouth agape and flapping like a fish out of water - more at the fact that her husband was (for the most part) holding his own even if he was 'dieing' with every swing he took. The Doctor was more interested in the way the assassin moved and acted, he seemed to predict where the sword would come from before it was even swung and was moving to counter. Amy was right, there was something odd about him but he couldn't figure out what.
Eventually, curiosity got the better of him and he discreetly pulled out his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the man in white. It whirred quietly and even though the Doctor knew that there was no way Ezio should have noticed, he still felt apprehensive about it.
His apprehension was right. The assassin, seeing the glowing light and hearing the faint whirr above the concentration he was putting on not hurting Rory, accidentally defaulted. Rory, mistiming a swing, almost caught him off guard but instinct took an armoured forearm against the flat of the blade before gloved fingers wrapped around the delicate wings of the hilt and pulled harshly. Unused to the sensation, Rory gripped the hilt stronger but reacted too late when he saw Ezio's free arm swinging towards him. A balled fist hit him square in the soft part of his stomach and Rory felt the air leave his lungs as he curled around the force of the fist.
Not bothering to apologise, Ezio sheathed his sword and strode towards the Doctor - leaving Amy to rush forward to pick up her husband who was now on his knees trying to recover the air he had lost.
"What is that?" A demand, a gloved finger pointing at the device that was now being put back in the pocket of the Time Lord. The Doctor ignored it.
"Why are you here, Ezio Auditore?" As calm as ever, the Doctor simply tilted his head and held the assassin's stare. "You are the most wanted person in the city, yet you are here. You must have a reason."
Ezio, annoyed that his question had been ignored, clenched his jaw and bristled at the question. The tension increased and the Ponds could do nothing but watch with a nervous apprehension.
"Savonorola," the assassin growled, breaking the silence after what had seemed like forever. "He has an…object. An artefact of unspeakable power. He stole it from me."
"How can a monk steal something from an assassin?"
"A child can steal from an assassin after they've had a blade thrust into their gut."
"This artefact, what is it?"
"A sphere of knowledge, I have received word that the madman is using it to brainwash people."
"Doctor? Is that possible?" Amy cut in and the Doctor nodded grimly.
"Depending on what it is, brainwashing is entirely possible. But, all that aside, why should you have it, assassin?"
"Because Firenze has fallen far enough."
"That's not what I asked."
"But that is all I will tell.
Silence again, this time brief as a thrown knife with a note attached thunked into the wood of the battered door and Ezio looked upwards to see a thief who nodded and vanished. He read the note and slipped the knife into one of the three empty slots in his belt. Pulling up his hood as he turned to the three time travellers, he merely bowed and exited through the rusted iron gate.
Amy felt her blood begin to boil and she was two strides into chasing after the man in white before the Doctor caught her arm and pulled her back. She glared at him and then out into the street - the assassin had vanished. She cursed under her breath and turned on the Doctor.
"You're just going to let him leave? Just like that?"
"Amy, he's a dangerous man. It's best to let dangerous men leave when they want to."
"But…but he -"
"But nothing. You saw how effortlessly he floored your Roman," he pointed at Rory, who winced as he tested where the fist had hit his stomach.
"But…I….Oh I give up!" She was at a loss for words for once and she threw her hands and walked back to her husband before growling "man-up stupid face" half in jest, half in irritation.
"I suggest we leave," the Doctor stated as he walked out and away from the palazzo Auditore, his companions following without argument.
Back in the TARDIS, there was a strange quiet. They had left Florence long behind them but it's shadow hung like a ghost. Rory sat on the steps, stiff and sore from his little 'training' session. Amy leaned against the hand rail just above him, staring at the ceiling and occasionally glaring at a thought.
The Doctor, however, was busy fiddling with the console, tapping things in and looking at the screen before tapping things in again. Occasionally he would mutter under his breath and frown at the readings the screen was giving him. He had even slotted in his sonic screwdriver into a port to so the TARDIS could take it's readings. He was confused by what he was seeing, he didn't like being confused.
"But…that's not possible." He finally growled to himself, attracting the attention of his companions who expected an explanation.
Silence fell again, apart from the beeping and mutterings coming from the console.
"Doctor. Are you gonna tell us, or are we just going to travel in silence?" The voice caused the Doctor to look up and focus on the pair, his brain finally realising it was Rory that spoke.
"Hmm…?" He frowned and looked back at the screen. "Oh, I'm just trying to make sense of it…"
"Of what?" Amy had moved to sit beside Rory but she fidgeted and wanted to see what the Time Lord was doing.
"Our assassin friend and…things."
"Yeah, yanno. Things. And stuff."
"Like…?" She was beginning to sound bored.
"Like the fact the artefact he spoke of was interfering with the TARDIS translation circuit. Like it was casting a shadow over Florence, like history records a man in white killing Savonorola before he was eaten by a pyre. Like the fact that the readings suggest that he wasn't quite human."
A brief pause as the Ponds let what they had heard sink in before Rory pitched a "wait…what?" at that last statement. "I'm sorry, how can anyone be not quite human?"
"Oh he's mostly human. But there is a small part of him that's not. Or rather, has never been. And even the TARDIS doesn't know what it is."
"Does that explain his ability to 'fly'?" Asked Amy slightly disbelieving, folding her arms and resting them on her knees.
"And his ability to know where Rory's blows were coming from before Rory did," the Doctor added in all seriousness. "And I suspect, he's got a few more talents up his sleeves along with those hidden blades of his."
Another pregnant pause, a contemplative silence before the Doctor wiped the screen and turned to his companions with a grin.
"I think that's enough of that. Where to next Ponds?"
NB: And fin. I dislike this chapter simply because I didn't know how to end it and still put in the things that Ezio needed to know about Rory so it's kinda...botched. But anyway...
Watch for it's sequel to drop in the next few weeks, if you're interested :)