When they talk about their past, share stories from yesterday, it's forgiveness. Malik tries not to mention the disaster for he thinks no good can come from talking about it. He mentions, however, days in which they fought and played, acted as children, the three of them. Malik, Altair, and Kadar. His little brother who was always so eager, so full of energy, so full of life. Little brother that looked up at him, at Altair. Altair this, Altair that. And jealousy made itself known, of course it did, but it was harmless, natural. It was his little brother, and his little brother following Altair like a puppy, trying to be as great as him, and it made Malik feel even more protective. His little brother did not understand how things worked, not properly, and it was his job to look after him.
So he doesn't talk about Solomon's Temple, he can't, but they do remember the day Kadar made a Leap of Faith for the first time. The poor thing was so afraid of breaking a leg, trying hard to hide the fear, watching as Altair and Malik demonstrated how it was done. No divine skills, really. When he jumped (eyes closed, eyebrows furrowed), and landed on the haystack without a single scratch, he laughed out loud as if he couldn't believe he had actually done it.
It's a warm memory, bright, and when they finish talking about what was and what wasn't, Altair gives him a smile, one that sets Malik's mended heart at peace. That is one of Altair's three smiles.
The second smile is for his children.
Malik remembers the day Altair's first child, Darim, was born as if it happened yesterday. It took longer than it should, the labour, and Altair couldn't stay still, the cries of his wife echoing through the cold walls of Masyaf, the possibility that she could die, that he could lose everything and gain everything at the same time. It was excruciating to watch; Altair's clenched fists, and Malik pulled him close, let his friend stain his robes with tears, let his friend hold on to him, "I cannot lose them", he heard Altair whisper.
And then there was another cry, one that startled them both, and Altair looked so unsure, afraid of the scene taking place. He knew his child was alive, but what of his wife? So Malik urged him to get to them.
His own worried mind calmed when he saw Altair walking up to him several minutes later, smiling down at the baby in his arms.
"It's a boy," Altair said, showing Malik the baby, his swelling pride evident in his face.
Malik nodded, touching the baby's cheek with his index finger. "What about-" he tried to ask.
Altair kept the smile on his face. "She's fine. Resting, but she's fine. They're both fine, Malik."
And Malik said, "of course they are."
Today Malik observes as the boys jump up and down on top of his friend, claiming victory. Darim says they are invincible, and Sef, still small in his four year old body, starts to worry when Altair goes still. He tells Darim to stop yelling because they've killed their baba, and the minute the boys drape themselves over Altair's body, the Assassin opens his eyes and grabs both of his sons by the wrists. "Who's invincible now?" he asks, and the boys laugh, managing to get out of Altair's hold and jump on top of him all over again. Altair smiles, shows his teeth, and laughs. Because, Malik notices, what Altair offers to his children is nothing but love, and the kind of safety the feeling brings. It's the love they never had when they were growing up, and Altair sticks to the promise of not making the mistake Al Mualim made.
When he hears Darim telling Sef to make his escape, Malik prepares himself. He knows that Sef is going to come running and recruit him to help defeat Altair, and he will make time for the child that looks so much like his mother, leaving the maps and the work behind. He is Uncle Malik, after all, and it's always a pleasure to see Altair suffer under the hands of his own sons.
Altair's third smile is only for her. Maria. The woman of his life, the mother of his children. When she runs her hands through his hair while he works, when she kisses him, when she says their children want to be as strong as him, when she tells him she couldn't be happier, when she fits right under his arms, when she makes him forget about everything else. He smiles at her as if she's all that is right in the world. He smiles for her, because of her, and smiles until his cheek hurt. She makes him feel like a boy, but he tries to be a man, and it's the sun and the moon, and it's everything he needs.
She's not afraid of him, of his past. She accepts his flaws, she's flawed as well, and she gives him a place to call home, offers him a family, and he smiles his third smile, heart pounding in his chest.
And Malik knows that his friend is finally content, happy, and it might not last forever, but it's more than enough for now.