What is with me and Shaun? Dulce Jesus, I give the man so many different backstories and Graw!

The title is suppose to refer to Zephyr, the gentlest of the winds. So, it's as if the protection of his team is a breath of fresh air for Dessie.

Desmond tapped his fingers against the table as they waited at the restaurant. With a sigh, he folded his arms and set his head down to rest.

"Would you bloody well stop that irritating racket? The food will get here when it gets here."

"How do you know I'm not waiting for the others?" Desmond said, scowling.

"Because you're not sociable enough to do that."

Desmond's scowl deepened. He fell into his own thoughts and yawned. Lucy had said—once she had recovered from his attack, and he had pulled himself from the coma—that they were meeting another team of assassins. He had pulled himself from the coma after only a few days, and he was feeling better than ever. He still dreamed of the black room he had created, and in there, he was safe. When he went through his own memories, his mind got back on track, and he remembered himself. The illusions left him alone after the creation of the black room.

The black room seemed to be the key to getting him what he wanted. The illusions and Bleeding Effect left him alone—although, the Bleeding Effect had given him the best workout of his life without him actually doing anything. He slept now without fear of night terrors. He had a respectable appetite. He was recovering. He even had Shaun's attention.

After realizing that Lucy was more dedicated to her work than she could ever be to him, he had given up on her. She was even dating William, who was a top-notch, head-honcho. And he thought Shaun loved his job. As he started watching Shaun to keep his mind off Lucy, he found himself falling in love with the simple things he did. He looked so relaxed when he would stop to drink some tea, and he would look so peaceful and beautiful when he slept. Desmond smiled at the thought of the historian sleeping.

After what seemed like forever, he heard chairs scrape, and he looked up. His mouth dried when he saw his father, and his fingers tightened into fists. His father was staring at him, levelly, in the way he had come to fear from the Farm. He swallowed thickly when he saw his father's eyebrows narrow ever so slightly.

"—and this is Jared Jud. And this is—"

"My father," Desmond rasped. "He's my father, Howard Miles."

Lucy stopped talking and looked at Desmond. "Yeah, he is. Aren't you excited you finally get to see your dad again?"

He forced himself to look at her, and she had a slightly concerned expression. He beamed.

"Of course! It's been forever! I was just surprised he was here!"

Lucy smiled back at him. "Good."

Desmond looked back down at the silverware, hoping and praying they wouldn't be staying too long.

"It's been how long, Desmond?"

He looked back at his father, smiling and ignoring the warning tone in his voice. "Ten years."

"You'll have to fill me on what happened."

Desmond forced a laugh. "Not too much. It was a rocky start, but eventually, I landed myself a job in a bar, made some great money, bought a motorcycle, and lived well."

"And then he got kidnapped by Abstergo, where I met him."

Desmond flinched at Lucy's words, not daring to look at his father. Instead, he turned his gaze to Shaun, who was watching him closely, his hands folded and elbows on the table. Shaun reached out with one hand and rubbed his arm before sliding it down and folding their fingers together. Desmond was surprised at Shaun's gesture.

"And then, Lucy rescued him, crushed his heart mercilessly after being a complete flirt with him, and left him to wallow in misery like the cold, heartless bitch she is."

Everyone gave Shaun a shocked look.

"In which, I graciously accepted him into my bed after he was so depressed his mind gave out and was in a coma for several days in the Animus. We've been getting along great ever since then."

Desmond stared at Shaun. He wondered why he hadn't been made aware of their current relationship. He glanced at his father, who raised one eyebrow disapprovingly.

"I know that he looks shocked, but I wanted to keep our relationship a secret. So, me telling everybody about us together is a wee bit surprising to him."

He instinctively squeezed Shaun's hand tighter as his father's look of disapproval deepened. "Is that so?"

"Oh, yes, but now that we've 'let the cat out of the bag,' we'll be spending every possible moment together—won't we, Desmond?"

His head whipped so fast it hurt as he stared at the historian. As it registered, he felt a large grin spread across his lips. Oh yes, since the creation of the black room, he was definitely getting the attentions he wanted from Shaun. He took the man's chin in his hand and kissed him firmly, feeling his lips turn upward into a smirk. He pulled away and grinned at Shaun.

"Of course, baby."

Shaun's smirk looked good as he twined their fingers together again and rested his chin in his hand. If he kept his eyes on Shaun, his father wasn't so scary. He heard Rebecca smile. He was getting good at that.

"Awesome. Does that mean you'll—"

"No," Shaun said flatly. "That was the most you'll get to see."

"So I still have to pay for our porn subscriptions?"

"They're yours, Rebecca—"

"Oh, no, I've caught Lucy watching it, too."

Lucy was bright red when they looked at her. "Rebecca Crane!"

She laughed. "Come off it, Lucy. You know it's true."

"Th-this is dinner!"

Rebecca shrugged. "Not my problem. They started it."

She gestured over to him and Shaun, and Desmond smiled, glancing at his father again. He was scowling furiously, and the newer assassin felt himself shrink back, hardly noticeable. When Shaun squeezed his hand again—he damned the man's observational skills, yet blessed them at the same time—he wanted nothing more than to take Shaun in his arms and hug him close.

The waitress came around, and instinctively, Desmond found himself flirting with her. She was all smiles and warm, bubbly laughter. They placed their orders before turning back to one another.

"You let him flirt with others?" his father asked.

Shaun shrugged, folding his hands and resting his elbows on the table again. "No reason not to. After all, the Bleeding Effect hasn't been too bad since he's recovered, and if this is all I have to deal with, I'd take that over a murderous Arab any day."

He grinned at Shaun. "It's safe to say Altair would be the least likely to come out."

"Thank the Lord Almighty." Shaun took his hand again.

"I don't see how it happened with Shaun being so generally disagreeable," Lucy murmured.

"You'd be disagreeable, too, if you were kidnapped after graduation, almost killed several times, and forced to work a job you didn't terribly like."

Desmond rubbed a thumb against the back of Shaun's hand as he rested his head on his other arm. He watched as Shaun talked to the others, refusing to look at his father.

"You don't like your job?" one of the others asked.

"I only minored in history at the University. While it is my passion, not much money could be made, and my father was right: it was a waste of my brain. I majored in chemistry. I was going into the field of toxicology."

"And so, you became a specialized assassin within our order."

Shaun nodded, and Desmond smiled softly at the way he nodded. Not for any particular reason, but he liked watching him.

"Yes, I became one of few to work with poisons. The only problem is, not many assassinations nowadays need the work of a toxicologist. It's all guns and bollocks like that."

Howard laughed, as well as the other guy—Jared?

"However, I have made several key assassinations. Especially in broad daylight. That's my specialty."

"How does that work, killing in broad daylight with poison?" Desmond said. Shaun looked at him and rolled his eyes.

"I dye my hair, change my clothes, put in contacts, and go to the dinner party."

Desmond nodded. "Sounds like fun."

"It is, and the conversation is wonderful, and the food even better."

He chuckled at Shaun's dreamy expression and kissed his hand. Shaun startled from his trance.

"My apologies. I do quite enjoy those nights, however few and far between they may be."

Lucy filled the silence with idle chatter before he heard his father speak. "How were you caught?"

"I grew lazy," came the simple answer.

"Oh?" He winced at the tone in his voice.

"I had made such a nice nest that when I had to be fingerprinted to get my license for the motorcycle I didn't move, like I should have."

"I thought I raised you better than that."

"I told you," he was quieter, "I grew lazy. I wanted to settle down."

He could feel his father's gaze and frown. He didn't look. He felt Shaun squeeze his hand as the historian studied his father.

"And they've been keeping you in line, right?"

"Beating me every day when we train together."

Shaun's lips turned into a frown. He could only guess that his father was smirking now.

"Good. You're an unruly child."

"He's not that bad. Perhaps a little irritating, but he not that bad," Lucy said. "Just sociable. We're not used to that since we're underground all the time."

"Nothing a little work-out doesn't fix," Desmond amended quickly. "I'm as complacent as I can get after training with them, and sorer than Hell, too."

He could almost picture the satisfied look on his father's face. "Good. I'm glad they've been keeping you in line. You were such a troublemaker on the Farm."

Desmond simply nodded, trying not to look weak as he played with Shaun's hand and waited for the food. After several more minutes of chatter, Shaun rose.

"Desmond, can you come with me to the bathroom? I need some help bandaging the wound on my back."

"You were injured?" Rebecca asked.

"I didn't let anyone know. Besides, all my job is, is sitting at a desk."

Desmond rose and followed at his heels to the bathroom. When the door swung shut behind him, he yelped when Shaun grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and shoved him against the wall viciously. He instinctively brought his arms up to cover his face and his legs bent to cover his crotch. He trembled for several seconds before he felt Shaun let go, murmuring, "I thought so."

Desmond slowly uncurled, looking at the man warily.

"He beat you, didn't he?"

He didn't respond, still curled up on himself partly.

"The others may not have noticed, but you've been exuding an aura of fear ever since your father sat down. And don't think I didn't pick up on your choice of words. It's too peculiar."

Desmond looked at the floor. Any other time, he'd beat the shit out of Shaun for his words, but he didn't have the will to fight. His father did that to him. He slumped on the floor, wrapping his arms around his legs. Shaun knelt in front of him and took his chin in his hand, forcing him to look. He had never seen such a worried expression on the historian's face before. He avoided his gaze as he bit his lip.

"Desmond, look at me."

He squeezed his eyes shut.


He cracked one eye open to see Shaun's brown eyes watching him. He recoiled from the concern he saw. "I'll be fine."

"Desmond, your father beating you is not fine."

"But I'll be fine. Just drop it."

"No," came the firm response, "Desmond. I don't know how badly he beat you, but it's even affected you when you train. I wondered why you always fought as if you were afraid to strike back, and now, I know why. This is not okay, Desmond."

He had never heard his name used so much in one conversation. "I'll be fine."

Shaun frowned, and he winced at the look. "If you're wincing at a frown, your father did a serious number on you."

Desmond looked to the side, muttering, "That tattoo is for more than just the cool factor."

Shaun looked toward his arm. Then, he let go and reached for his arm, examining it closely. His eyes widened when he saw the puffy, jagged scars on either side.

"I broke a jar of pickles. He got me with the shards."

"Are these…"

He shrunk from Shaun's touch when the older man went to unzip his hoodie. His touch was cautious and gentle, but he shrunk from it anyway.


He tried to fold in on himself, but Shaun's insistent touch managed to get it unzipped. The door opened, and the historian watched the man who entered walk into one of the stalls.

"Come here. Let me see. We'll go into the handicapped stall."

All he could do was comply as Shaun lead him into stall and sat him on the toilet. He clutched the hoodie closed as the historian locked the door. He walked back over to Desmond and looked him over once, and he couldn't stand to see the soft look on his face, so the newer assassin looked at his feet.

"Off with the jacket and shirt. Let me see."

He hugged himself. "I'm okay, Shaun."

"Let. Me. See."

He felt those hands gently work his fingers from the edges of his hoodie and pull it off: he could handle rough touches. With a rough attitude, he got rough touches. Gentle touches were something he just couldn't trust.

"I'm not going to hurt you. Let me take off your undershirt."

His hands flew to the edge of his undershirt, and he pulled it down over the hem of his pants. "No. I'm okay."

He felt softly calloused fingers trace over one of the old, faded scars that peeked out from under his muscle shirt. "Let me see, Desmond. I want to see how badly he beat you."


He felt the hand move from the edge of his shirt to cup his cheek, and it forced him to look at Shaun. "Because I fancy you, Desmond. Now let me see your scars."

He was so shocked at those words that he didn't feel Shaun pull the shirt up and over his head. He near jumped out of his skin when he felt fingers touch one of his scars, and he sprang from the toilet seat and looked for his shirt. He felt Shaun grip his arms tightly, and he froze in his spot, ready to protect himself from a hit.

"Desmond, mate, calm down. I'm not going to harm you."

His hands ran up and down the newer assassin's arms. He met Shaun's gaze hesitantly, only to have Shaun's eyes scan him over closely, examining the odd array of scars that covered his body. He tried to tuck in on himself. Finally, he was done.


He grabbed his shirt and pulled it on. He pulled his hoodie on and zipped it up as Shaun stared. "Don't tell my dad. Please."

It broke the spell he was under, and Shaun scowled. Before he knew it, he was being hugged by Shaun. Desmond tried to pull from the hold.

"Please. Don't tell him."

"I won't, Desmond."

"We should go back out. They'll get suspicious."

He wriggled out of Shaun's hold and opened the stall door. He walked out briskly and back to their table. He sat down, avoiding the others stares.

"Is he okay?"

"He's fine. It's not that bad anymore."

Shaun came walking out casually. He took his seat and folded his legs. "Thank you, Desmond."

Desmond nodded. The food was there, and without thinking, Desmond tucked in, wolfing it down since his body had started burning so many calories with his training and the Animus.

"Desmond! Where are your manners?"

He flinched, his fork and knife clattering onto his plate in mid bite. "Sorry, Dad."

"I'm disappointed in you."

He grit his teeth, his fingers curling into fists. "I'm sorry, sir. I'll eat slower."

"We're used to it," Lucy said nonchalantly. "He burns so many calories that he eats all the time. We make all kinds of jokes about him being pregnant and fat."

"How much do you eat?" the third member of the new team, Jordan, said.

"He needs to eat at least five thousand calories a day, if he isn't active. No Animus or anything."

His father looked shocked at Shaun's calculation.

"We tried to get him on a diet, but his malnourishment almost killed him. He looked like an Auschwitz survivor." Shaun smiled and started eating. "I think he's got a second dish coming. He probably should be eating that quickly if he's going to get done in time for dessert."

"That's gotta be five thousand calories right here, then," Jordan said.

"Right, remember: he needs at least five thousand without doing anything. The Animus burns the calories as Ezio uses them too. Top that off with a two-hour training session in morning and noon, with a workout after he's done with the Animus to get him back to earth, and we're easily talking upward of eight thousand calories. Sometimes, we'll buy him a box of twinky-dinks—"

"Swiss cake rolls, honey buns, or oatmeal cream pies."

"Whatever, and he'll finish them by the end of the day."

"Shit," the girl, Angela, "I wish I could eat that much and still look good."

Shaun shook his head. "He's like an Olympic star."

Desmond smiled warmly at her.

"Go ahead, Desmond, don't listen to your father," Rebecca said. "You need to eat. The next plate's gonna be here in a couple minutes."

Desmond looked at his dad, who gave him an intense stare before nodding in the slightest. Without a second thought, he dove into the food. Within fifteen minutes, he was done, and the next entrée was sitting in front of him. Angela was floored, and Jared was laughing.

"How do you do it?" Angela said.

Desmond looked at her with a strip of steak still hanging from his mouth. He pulled it into his mouth, chewing slowly. Jordan laughed. When he swallowed, he opened his mouth to speak.

"Uh… I don't know?"

She laughed, and Desmond smiled.

"If I figure it out, I'll tell you. How's that?"

She gave him a thumbs-up. "Sounds good."

By the time the others were done with their dinner, he had all ready finished and picked out his dessert.

"That's incredible," Angela murmured. "How does he do that?"

Desmond winked at her. "It's a family secret."

She frowned. "Fine. You know you could make a million selling it."

He laughed. "I'm not in much of a position to do that."

"You're not in a position to do much of anything," his father said as they placed their orders for dessert.

"None of us are," Lucy sighed. "It would be nice to be able to do something else for once."

Desmond looked at his lap, silent until dessert arrived. He took his time with the light almond milk custard, his eyes fluttering closed as he enjoyed it. He had tasted it once in the Animus, when Ezio was hungry and decided to enjoy what one of the French royals was going to eat. He had fallen in love with it, but he didn't know where to make it. That was six months ago, too long.

"Enjoying yourself?" he heard his father ask, and his eyes snapped open.

Rebecca was laughing. "You like you're in Heaven."

He swallowed. "I am. I had it when I robbed a French noble, and man, I've wanted it ever since."

Jared, Jordan, and Angela looked confused. Howard frowned.


"You robbed a French noble?"

Desmond shrugged, scooping out another bite. "Yeah, my mark was one of the royals at his dinner party."

"You haven't been sent on any missions," his father said.

"I know."

"What he means is, in the Animus. Ezio ate it, and he loved it," Lucy explained. "That's the problem with the Animus, is the Bleeding Effect. He lives through everything his ancestors did."

"Didn't I tell you Ezio tried it?"

"No," Jared responded, "you said you did."

Desmond frowned slightly. "Looks like not everything's back to normal."

Shaun shrugged. "But you're certainly better than before."

"Yeah, I suppose."

He stared into his dessert, and after a few strained minutes of silence from him, he ate a bite, letting his problems melt away. He wouldn't mind getting fat if he could eat this all day. Shortly after, dessert was done, and they rose. Desmond was in a remarkably good mood—he was full of rich Italian cuisine, had his favorite dessert, and got the man he wanted all in one night. He wrapped an arm around Shaun's shoulders after helping him get his jacket on, and he followed Lucy out to their van.

He near panicked when his father crawled in with them.


"Your father and his team are staying with us. Strength in numbers," Lucy said.

Desmond's fingers dug into Shaun's shoulder as he stared at his father. His father gave him that look that said, "You're in for it, you insolent little brat," and he pulled Shaun closer. It wasn't until he felt a hand on his thigh that he looked to see the historian watching him. The others were busy chatting with Rebecca and Lucy, and Shaun leaned to kiss him. He responded immediately, pressing closer and cradling his head, desperate.

When he heard a squeal, he jerked away, looking toward the front of the van to see Angela watching him. He pressed back against the seat, covering his face with his hands. He heard Rebecca laugh.

"I've been waiting for them to get together. Sorry, Lucy."

He peeked at Shaun, who was still slightly out of breath. He smiled slightly and straightened.

"Why are all the hot guys gay?"

He laughed at Angela's question and pulled Shaun close, looking out the window to avoid looking at his father. Eventually, they were back at base, and Desmond was the first one out, running into the new base. He was surprised at the size of the kitchen and looked through each cabinet, the fridge, the freezer, and even the dishwasher.

"Having fun?"

He glanced over his shoulder to see Shaun watching him, one eyebrow raised.

"Yeah." He turned back to exploring the drawers on the island. "Why weren't we moved here first?"

"Because we were small enough we could be concealed there."


"Now there are eight of us. This mansion is one of the four bases spread throughout Italy."

"We only have four?"

"'Have only.' And yes."

"Why are they predominantly warehouses and things?"

"Because they're less suspicious."

"Right… I would check warehouses first because they always look suspicious. And old ruins? Definitely a place to hide."

Desmond pursed his lips and leapt over the island to walk into the living room, testing out the chairs and the couch, playing with the TV—how long it had been since he had been connected to the world like this—climbing up the arched doorway to sit in the empty window above the doorway.

"Get down from there," he heard Lucy say.

He glanced over his shoulder. "I like it up here. I can see all of the first floor."

"You'll get yourself killed."

"No, I won't. I promi—"

"Desmond, do as you're told."

He jumped down immediately at his father's voice.

"Sorry, Lucy."

He looked at her smile. "It's okay, Desmond. I just don't want you hurting yourself."

"I won't do it again."

She nodded and walked off. Shaun appeared at his side. "Why don't we see the upstairs? I know which room we've got."

He stared, wide-eyed, at the historian. "There's an upstairs? Damn, it's either rags or riches with the assassins. There's no in between, is there?"

Shaun smirked as they passed by his father. He led him up a small set of stairs to a carpeted upper floor with four doors. The British man brought him to the fourth door and opened it. The room itself was plain, a cream color carpet with pastel blue walls. Cream borders lined the top edge. A twin bed was in the corner of the room, and there was even a window with obscuring curtains. He was in shock.

"Shit—they've been holding out on us! If I had been here, I wouldn't have had nearly as many problems with the Bleeding Effect!"

"This town has been in Templar control for the past thirty years. Only recently have we gotten it back."

Desmond flopped on the bed, burying his nose in the sheets. "It smells like vanilla."

"Sorry? You were mumbling, you tit."

He looked toward Shaun. "It smells like vanilla."

Shaun came over and sat on the bed. "Your scars were horrid, Desmond. How badly did he—"

"Do we really have to talk about this again?"

"Yes, Desmond. I do not take kindly to people beating my family."

He scowled.

"When did it start?"

"Look, I don't want to talk about this, all right? I almost had a heart attack when you took off my shirt. I worked hard to block every fucking memory. I can't even remember my mother except for us cowering from our father."

"When did it start?"

"Like fuck if I know. I can't remember that far back. And if you even think of putting me in the Animus to discover it, I'll desync and kill you faster than an eagle strikes."

He felt Shaun rub his back as he stared at the man.

"Desmond, I want to know how bad it was, so I know how dangerous he is."

"Look, just keep me away from him, okay? I'm fine as long as I'm with others, 'cause he won't act now that he's in public."

Shaun frowned. "Can you remember anythi—"

"No!" Desmond shouted, sitting up. He shoved Shaun from the bed. "Just leave it the fuck alone, all right?" He was backing Shaun toward the door. The man actually looked frightened. "I don't want to talk about it, and I won't talk about! Deal with it, you, you stubborn asshole! I've locked it away in my memories, and I'm not telling anyone!" Shaun was against the door, and he had one finger against his chest. "So drop the damn topic! I'll fucking murder you if you keep this up, you got it? If even one memory comes dripping through the walls I've put up, your head is on the line! And don't think I won't follow through with it, because I can be every fucking bit as bad as the worst of the assassins if I have to!"

He was breathing the same air as Shaun, their noses touching. He was trembling with rage, and he wanted—desperately—to smack the man from here to the other end of the house. He was panting, and his lip was curled up. Grabbing Shaun's shirt, he shook him once.

"Got it, fucker!"

He saw Shaun's head bob up and down rapidly, and he released the man, walking over to the corner and sitting down, bringing his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, glaring at the historian. He glared as Shaun left the room and closed the door behind him. He could hear voices in the hallway, concerned and quiet.

It was nighttime before Shaun returned, and Desmond was still in his corner. He had shrunken behind his knees, refusing to look at the man. He heard the historian pad over softly and kneel down in front of him.


The tone was cautious—and afraid. He almost felt proud to finally have inspired fear in someone.

"Desmond, we need to talk."

"I'm not talking about—"

"I don't mean that. I want to talk about us."

"If you're going to say you don't want to be with—"

"Desmond, listen to me. Would you hate me if I disposed of your father?"

He blinked, then blinked again. "W-what?"

"If I disposed of your father, would you hate me?"

His answer was immediate: "No, just make him suffer."

"If I plugged your father into the Animus, would you be mad?"

He thought about it briefly. "As long as I'm not within hearing distance, no."

He felt Shaun's hand on the back of his head, stroking the hair there softly. "Would you hate me if I told Lucy and Rebecca?"

He bit his lip. "Yes. Then they'd treat me differently."

He could hear Shaun hum. "If I made them promise not too?"

"I could see it in their eyes."

"See what?"

"Sympathy, pity, and I'd hate you for that."

"What if I told you I consider you a part of my family?"


"What if I told you I have family attachment issues?"


"Desmond," he felt the hand slide under his chin and force him to look at him, "I'm trying to look out for you."

"That doesn't fit your personality."

He scoffed. "I know it doesn't seem like it, but I don't take kindly to others harming my family."

"Then my father's in deep shit, huh?"

"If you wish to put it that way, yes."

"So, you can rip me to pieces with sarcasm, but others can't lay a finger on me."

"Or Rebecca, or Lucy. I will fight to the death for any of you, despite what I may say."

"Like any sibling, right? They tease one another, but they're always there, right? Like Malik and Kadar?"


"You have no idea what Malik and Kadar were like as kids, do you?"

"None whatsoever."

Desmond smiled a tiny bit. He felt the hand under his chin move to rest on his shoulder, the thumb moving back and forth in a comforting movement. He set his chin on his knees. Shaun had a soft smile.

"Are you really going to kill him?"


"How would you—"

"Leave the details to me. I went into toxicology to study ancient poisons used in historical assassinations. That's why I majored in chemistry. I've studied all the old kills, and while I don't like the mundane aspect of the job I have now, it is interesting."

"But you don't like it. Why do you always seem so enthusiastic, then?"

"Because I do love it. Being able to sit there and watch you make the kill, use a poison dart, it's all interesting. Looking up all the famous assassinations and kills, that's what makes me excited. I know how Ezio's poison worked, what poison it was, and I can recreate it. I love the chemistry behind all of it."

"Then why do you seem so excited about the boring stuff?"

"Because I know what's coming. I know what will happen."

He slowly straightened his legs, looking down at his lap and letting his hands rest, clasped together, in between his legs. Shaun knelt on both knees in the "v" he created and bumped their foreheads together. Desmond looked.

"Desmond, I will protect you."

He smiled softly. "I know."

"You giant baby."

He grinned. "Fucking asshole."

Shaun pulled back and patted the side of his arm. "All right, now that that's resolved, come on, into bed, you prat. I need sleep."

"You're always complaining about something," he said as he rose.

"Yes, and you're always lazing about and being generally useless. Come on, in you go."

He wriggled out of his pants and took off his hoodie, feeling slightly nervous. He was pleased to see Shaun didn't even bat an eye as he settled between the sheets.

"Do I have to tell you a third time? I'm not your mother."

He smirked at the glare and leapt on the bed, laughing when Shaun yelped as he landed on him.

"B-bloody twit! Just what do you think you're—"

Desmond effectively shut him up with a deep kiss before crawling under the covers. Shaun "harrumph"ed, but pulled him close and nuzzled against him. Desmond was smiling as they lay there in the darkness. After an hour or so, he felt something tug at the corner of his mind.

"I used to let my mom hold me like this."

Shaun was quiet.

"I always felt safe in her arms. We slept in the small bed in my room. I used to have Thomas the Tank Engine sheets, and they always smelled like vanilla."

There was still no response. He wondered if the man was asleep.

"My room had only a few toys, but my favorite was calico cat my mother made for me at Build-a-Bear. She was really fluffy with a white stomach and paws. She had a dark brown tail and small yellow ribbons on her dark brown ears and one on the tip of her tail. On her wrist was a banner that said 'My heart is full of happiness,' 'cause my mom had put a yellow heart inside her. She also wore Spiderman pajamas. I had a matching set. I drug her with me everywhere, but my father ripped her up when I was sixteen. That's when I decided to run away. I had lost my only friend 'cause my mother had fled several years earlier. She couldn't have taken me with her 'cause I blocked my father's path when she ran."

He still didn't receive a response. He was glad.

"I miss Daisy. That's what I named the cat. I named her after my mom."

"I'm glad you trust me enough to tell me that."

He jumped in Shaun's arms. "You-you were awake?"

"Of course."

He was silent, then, a slow smile crept across his lips. "You know, my birthday is in a week."

"I do know that."

He turned in Shaun's arms to see him, and grinned when he saw the amused and knowing look on the historian's face. He curled up, letting his guard down, feeling, for once, safe in another's arms. Just before he fell asleep, he heard Shaun murmur, "I'm glad you trust me enough to feel safe."

The next week, he and others fell into a routine. Shaun was by his side at every minute, and his father was clearly become infuriated. Howard tried valiantly to get Desmond alone, but Shaun appeared everywhere. Their conversations were short and tense, and every morning, Desmond woke to spend an extra hour cuddling with his historian. Things never passed kisses, but he was fine with that: he didn't think he could handle something much more intimate than that. However, one morning, he was surprised to find Shaun all ready "up and at'em" by the time he walked downstairs. Shaun guided him back up and gave him Angela's laptop.

"Here, amuse yourself with this. Don't come downstairs."

Slightly confused, he did as he was told. He traipsed from one end of the internet to the other and enjoyed every minute of it, watching the weirdest Youtube videos and dancing to the music—boy, he was glad no one was around to see it. After sixteen hours—he hadn't even realized it—Angela came in, pale as a sheet. Desmond froze in spot (he had been dancing to "Soulja Boy" and found it a lot of fun) as she took her laptop.


And when she looked at him, Desmond felt a familiar spark of rage in him. There was pity in her eyes. He snarled, and she jumped.

"Get the fuck out, and tell Shaun he'd better have a good explanation."

She fled the room, and Desmond clenched his hands, gritting his teeth. After an hour or so, Shaun came walking into the room, looking as calm as he could get. His hands were clasped behind his back.

"What the Hell—"

He held a single hand up for silence, and Desmond did a double take. His hand was covered with a single latex glove. Shaun turned and gestured for Desmond to follow, and all he could do was obey, confused. After he was led downstairs to the working area, he saw it: on Shaun's desk was a stuffed calico cat with Spiderman pajamas. Angela, Lucy, Rebecca, Jared, and Jordan were all watching in silence as Shaun gestured to it and open the bottom drawer.

Desmond picked up the animal in shock: it was almost a replica of his Daisy, but instead of yellow, it was red and the banner was red and read "My heart is full of love." He found the "certificate of birth" underneath her and smiled when he saw her name was "Rose." Yellow Daisies and Red Roses—he smiled widely, surprised by the animal. He clutched it tightly and kissed the head, pleased to find it smelled like Shaun. He looked to see Shaun watching him, still somber.



"Follow me."

He looked at the others, who turned away when they walked by. He frowned as Shaun led him down into a small cellar. He pushed open the door to reveal Desmond's father tied to a chair, bound and gagged. He was struggled furiously. The newer assassin stepped in cautiously, clinging to the stuffed animal. His father tried to yell when he saw his son, and Desmond stepped back to have his back meet the door.

Shaun moved and stood in front of Desmond's father, latex gloves on and hands clasped behind his back. His father was a struggling mess, and Desmond's eyes were transfixed on his father. After several minutes of just staring, Shaun walked over to a small table and picked up a single needle filled with a vile-looking liquid. He pressed the air out of it and glanced at the large man. Recognition dawned on the useless tied American Yankee. Turning on his heel, he paced over silently, watching Howard struggle against the bonds. He walked behind the man and placed a single hand on the junction of his neck and shoulder. Desmond's father went still.

"You know, Mr. Miles, this could have been avoided."

Howard twisted to look at him, looking pissed.

"However, I have seen you interactions with Desmond, both past and present, and you are entirely unremorseful for what you did to him."

Desmond's father scowled into the gag. Desmond was frozen by the door, clinging to Rose.

"Now, rest assured that I may be a bastard…"

He patted the bare skin as Howard began to struggle again.

"But I am an intelligent bastard."

His hand crept to the back of the man's neck.

"Far more intelligent than you could ever imagine, and currently with family attachment issues. Do you know why, Mr. Miles?"

He chuckled at the growl.

"No? It is because I was ripped away from my biological family."

He trailed his hand forward along his jaw and traced back down his throat.

"And so, I have made a new one. It includes Lucy Stillman, Rebecca Crane, and, yes, your son."

His hand fisted in Howard's hair and yanked the head to his side.

"Now, let us do some simple mathematics, Mr. Miles. You have one bastard plus intelligence times infinity, and what you get? A bastard with infinite knowledge. Let's substitute infinite knowledge with knowledge of poison and the art of assassination. We have a bastard who can kill. Multiply this by attachment issues, and you have a frightening man."

His father stilled.

"Good, you're catching on. Now, if you try to subtract a member of the family, the equation simply will not work."

Howard stiffened.

"Don't stiffen: it'll only make it hurt worse. And if you add an abused member to the family before you add it to the bastard who can kill, if you graphed it, your graph would oscillate wildly. This is not good. An oscillating graph is not good, and so the equation needs to be corrected. The only way to correct for an abused family member is to take out the abuser—follow, Mr. Miles?"

Desmond could hear the man swallow. Shaun leaned in and breathed into Howard's ear, "I may torment my family, but only I may torment my family. You've crossed this line. Good-bye, Mr. Miles."

He punctured the man's skin, and Desmond watched with sick fascination as his gold eyes blew wide. Shaun pushed the poison out of the syringe and into his blood flow. When it was empty, he straightened and walked around, smirking as Howard struggled. He dropped the syringe and turned to walk out.

Before he did, he turned and looked at the man one more time, rubbing the back of Desmond's shoulder briskly. Desmond snapped from his trance and looked at the historian.

"For your information, I will be monitoring you these next couple of days. This is not a fast-acting poison. If you are lucky, you may die in forty-eight hours, but I have planned it to kill you in seventy-two. Take heart that, eventually, you will die—in extreme agony, but you will die. No one will care: no one will come for you."

As he led Desmond out and shut the door, he laughed and said, "Requiescat in pace."

It wasn't too bad, was it? I seem to be hitting an odd spot lately...