Sanctuary

Warnings include possible sexisim, as this is written about 12th century dudes. There are also suggestions of child abuse and neglect.

Great thanks go to my beta, Chronicler of Echoes, who is a beautiful human being and a wonderful wife~

With that in mind, please enjoy safely~

I don't own Assassin's Creed


"Malik." The name is soft, falling with a kind of hushed reverence. The man in question turns, inquiry in the set of his features.

(they have softened towards him of late – he looks on Altaïr not with burning hatred in those liquid dark eyes, but mild annoyance; affection, even)

Tonight they are even more open to him, drowsiness from the sheer heat of the day overcoming any desire to remain antagonistic. They had once been the closest of friends, though many have scoffed at the notion. They always fought, to be sure, but their bickering always held undertones of affectionate meaning. The one raised an Assassin welcoming the orphan child brought to their ranks, both of them acting as an anchor for the other.

(perhaps Al Mualim had recognized this, and this was why he had separated them until that fateful mission to Solomon's Temple)

Altaïr is questioning daily now the wisdom of his Master. He never held any affection for the man, not like he does for Malik. In the morning he will ride out, avenge Kadar that his soul may rest peacefully, and perhaps Malik will forgive him.

They discuss the target, between them compiling what Altaïr has discovered and forming from it an efficient plan of attack.

As Altaïr watches his oldest friend he realizes something – something he wants to smack himself over.

"I've been a fool." He murmurs contemplatively. Malik eyes him strangely.

"Normally I'd make no argument, but what is this? What are you talking about?" He questions.

"All this time, I never told you I was sorry. Too damn proud... you lost your arm because of me, lost Kadar. You had every right to be angry." Altaïr feels a sharp pang of loss at the younger al-Sayf brother's name. Loss he knows he can never mend, never remedy.

"I do not accept your apology." Malik says simply. The pain that lances Altaïr's heart is almost unbearably strong, but he bore it with no outward sign. He had never expected to be forgiven in any case.

(idiot fool novice wretch)

"I understand," he murmurs, pulling his hood back up and turning towards the door. Malik's hand reaches over the counter-top and stops him.

"No. You don't. I do not accept your apology because you are not the same man who went with me into Solomon's Temple. And so you have nothing to apologize for." The words are spoken with a certain finality that leaves Altaïr drowning.

"Malik..." He manages to choke out. Malik continues, relentless.

"Perhaps if I had not been so envious of you, I... would not have been so careless myself. I'm just as much to blame."

"Don't say such things," Altaïr says, nearly breathless with shock. Envious? Envious? What is there to him that the best man he has ever known is envious?

"We are one. As we share the glory of our victories, so too should we share the pain of our defeat. In this way we grow closer, we grow stronger." Sometimes, with Malik's sheer eloquence of speech, Altaïr believes that the older man would be a much better master than Al Mualim ever was, and ever will be. Altaïr would certainly never have any doubts about Malik – he never has.

For Altaïr now every day is filled to the brim with uncertainty. This is a new and different type. He doesn't know what to do – he has been ready to go out and avenge, trying to redeem and renew a friendship he thinks he had irreparably damaged, but here is Malik.

Here is Malik, who has just forgiven him and Altaïr is out to sea with no idea what comes next. Malik looks at him dryly.

"You look like a fish." Malik informs him flatly. Then the older man frowns. "What has happened to you, proud Altaïr, that you are uncertain even in the face of forgiveness?" The words are murmured, but they seem too loud in Altaïr's ears. He feels a deep well of something that feels like panic rising in his chest, and something must show on his face. Malik is suddenly right in front of him and Altaïr rears back, breathing sharp and ragged

He does not even realize that his hand is fisted in the material above where Al Mualim had slid his dagger home until Malik's hand rests on top of his. He offers no resistance as Malik pulls his cowl up over his head and starts manipulating the fastenings on his tunic. Altaïr feels almost as if he has entered another plane of existence. Soon Malik has Altaïr's torso bared, callused fingertips stroking over the thin, angry red pucker.

"What is this, Altaïr?" The soft question suddenly grounds Altaïr and it is Malik, to whom he owes answers at the very least.

"Our master saw fit to punish me." He refuses to use Al Mualim's name, and even he does not know why. Malik frowns, and Altaïr shivers a little at the feel of skin against skin. It has been so long since he has been allowed physical comfort. Malik was the one to give it last time as well. They had been younger, more innocent. Al Mualim had been particularly cruel in training his young protege, and Altaïr had more than his fair share of cuts, some of them fairly deep.

Malik had been the one to clean, sew, salve and bandage him, and had held him close as he had silently trembled.

(for the first time wondering if the streets might actually have been the better choice)

They had slept, and it had been the most restful slumber Altaïr had ever had.

Altaïr feels like that child again, desperately longing for rest and succor, too afraid to ask for it.

"Malik–" He chokes on his words, but Malik reads him now as well as he used to, and pulls Altaïr close to him. Altaïr rests his face in the crook of Malik's neck and breathes, hands clinging in Malik's robes. That seems to be about all he can do right now. Malik's strong hand cards gently through his hair

(too light abnormal scapegoat little wretch half-breed scum)

The past seems to be rushing in over his head, drowning him under a relentless stream of all the abuse he has ever endured. It hurts.

Allah, it hurts.

They stand there for a while, and then Malik steers him into the room behind the cartographer's store, the place where Malik sleeps. Altaïr is pushed down to sit on Malik's pallet and Malik disappears briefly, sounds of closing shop and bureau alike reaching his ears. It had been late enough when Altaïr had arrived, that he believes Malik closing up a little early will not arouse any suspicion. Malik arrives back in the room moments later, removing his scholar's robe

"Take off your boots, Altaïr. Put these on." Gentle instructions, a soft pair of sleeping pants set into his hands. Both men moved mechanically, Malik drawing Altaïr out to the terraced courtyard to wash away the worst of the day's labors before they both return to Malik's pallet and nest of cushions. Malik sits, and Altaïr sits facing him. He has no idea what to say.

"Tell me what happened, Altaïr. Tell me in what manner you received this." Malik once more traces the scar.

The floodgates releasing, Altaïr haltingly tells of what happened the day after their fateful mission, after Malik had been taken away – his arm below the elbow too badly shattered to save.

"I died, Malik." He said. "I don't know how I know, but when Master stabbed me I died." His head is lowered, he does not want to know Malik's reaction, he is too much of a coward. "I know not what sorcery brought me back." He says, and Malik's hand, warm and firm, raising his face to meet Malik's own cuts him off.

"I care not." Malik says fiercely, and Altaïr is stunned silent. "You are alive. To me this is all that matters." Altaïr is confused, and lets it show plainly on his face. Malik's expression – the only word Altaïr can really use for it is tender.

(how strange)

"You stupid man." That is all the warning Altaïr receives before Malik's mouth covers his own warmly. Altaïr's only cognizant response is a muted, surprised squeak, much to his mortification. Malik pulls away slowly, dark eyes half-lidded, staring directly into startled-wide amber. Amusement lines his face, and he brings their mouths together again, and this time Altaïr responds almost timidly. Malik pulls away again and chuckles, stroking his broad hand down the back of Altaïr's neck. Had it been anyone else, Altaïr would have felt threatened, but Malik has always had the privilege with him. It surprises Altaïr to realize that he cannot think of a thing he would not let Malik do to him – even if the older man wanted to kill him, he would grant that.

"I cannot think you have ever been timid with anything, Altaïr. Come, it is much like kissing a woman, only we have equal amounts of beard." Malik teases, running a finger against the stubble on Altaïr's cheek. Altaïr flushes.

"You know I am not very experienced with women, brother." He says, refusing to meet Malik's dark eyes. Malik tilts up his chin and kisses him again.

"It matters not." He reassures, and this time Altaïr is the one who leans in and catches Malik's mouth in a soft slide of chapped skin and the rough scratch of his stubble against Malik's goatee. This feels like a gift, the most precious one he has ever been given.

Malik eases him back onto the pillows, moving to cover Altaïr's body with his own and suddenly it is like a switch has been flipped. Altaïr becomes nearly bonelessly pliant to Malik's touch, his own hands finding Malik's flanks and just stroking warm coffee-colored skin.

"Altaïr, you react to me as a woman." The tone is light, teasing. Altaïr can read Malik's concealed meaning – Malik is worried.

(care)

"You have always been my sanctuary, since I first met you." The admission is shockingly easy to make, perhaps because he is making it to the only person who ever needs to know this. Malik presses closer, warm weight atop Altaïr making him feel unbelievably safe, and his hand finds the back of Altaïr's neck. Altaïr is pulled into a deep, demanding kiss, to which he gladly yields and participates. Malik's tongue in his mouth is an interesting addition, and Altaïr feels safe enough to be playful, flicking at it with his own tongue and gently sucking.

(safety)

Malik breaks away, kissing at his jaw and down along his neck. He bites almost roughly at Altaïr's pulse point, and Altaïr merely tips his head back submissively. His hands are gripping Malik's shoulder blades tightly now. His legs had already spread to accommodate Malik, but now his hips shifted restlessly against Malik's. Malik growls low against his throat and begins to suck a mark there.

(ownership)

One of Altaïr's hands comes down and gently cradles the stump of Malik's arm, rounded off just below the elbow-joint, scarred and tender still. Malik bites again, warning, before raising his head to look into Altaïr's half-lidded amber gaze. Propping himself up on his functional elbow, he rests his hand over Altaïr's eyes.

(reciprocity, equality)

Altaïr's hands drag Malik down into another burning kiss, as Malik's drags their pants down and strokes them both. Altaïr chokes on a groan, throwing his head back, as Malik rests his forehead against Altaïr's collarbones. One of Altaïr's hands buries itself in Malik's short sable hair and the other joins Malik's in pleasuring them.

There is no sound save for broken moans, sighs and gasps. There is no need for speech here, in this moment of perfect understanding. This is a time for learning each others' bodies, not in depth, only what is needed in this moment. There will be time for exploration later.

Altaïr climaxes first, with a shattered soft cry. Malik raises his head and watches his expression hungrily, and Altaïr is not shy. Malik's own release is almost silent, a sharp inhale as dark eyes vanish behind eyelids and he shudders.

They lay there for a few long moments before Altaïr is cognizant enough to reach for one of the cloths they used to bathe and clean them both up. They shift so they are facing each other, and Malik tucks Altaïr's head under his chin as he had when they were children.

Sleep is looming, and Altaïr curls into Malik's protective arm draped over his side and smiles a secret smile.

Tomorrow he may die, but now he has a reason not to.