A secret is like a dove: when it leaves my hand it takes wing.

This should never have happened, Malik thought, his mind clouded with frustration as he tried, futilely, to work at the bureau. If only he had kept his head, and never spoken. He should have bitten his tongue to bleeding rather than let the heat of the moment steal his sense.

He rubbed his face wearily, cringing when he remembered how those words had simply poured from his lips, hoarse and desperate in the blur of passion. Altair had not spoken to him since, and Malik found worry and doubt burrowing in his mind. His secret had flown swiftly, too swiftly for him to catch. Now he worried that Altair would never return here, but ride all the way to Damascus to have his armour and weapons seen to.

He was so lost in his thoughts he did not hear the sound of landing or light footfalls until a hand was at his waist. With practiced ease he slammed his elbow into his attacker's abdomen, cursing himself for not noticing the coming aggression.

But his elbow was blocked by another hand.

"Safety and peace, Malik," whispered a voice at his ear. Scarred lips kissed the back of his neck and Malik found himself relaxing despite himself, only for his calm to be once again replaced by a horrible wave of anxiety. He cleared his throat, but Altair made no indication that he had heard and continued his ministrations on Malik's body, now placing his hands flats against the other's chest.

"I love you, Malik," he murmured. Malik froze. Such words were so uncharacteristic of Altair, he actually assumed this was some Templar ploy.

"Are you drunk?" Malik asked suspiciously. Altair laughed.

"If your words were said in truth, so were mine," he replied, his hands now roaming Malik's torso with practiced ease. Malik sighed and eased into the touch.

"Very well," he said, maybe more to himself than Altair. "So be it."

His secret had flown, but it had alighted in sure and secure hands.