This started as a description for a picture I wanted my roommate to draw. That was the whole purpose of this piece of fluff. Then it became an exercise in having all three men interact in a way that doesn't end in some seriously screwed up forms of incest. There is a larger storyline going on in the background. I'm just too lazy right now to fight with it. Also note that I have only ever played AC 1 and 2. That is the limit of my knowledge. Enjoy!
Altair paused in his reading, stretching his hearing as far as it could go to take in the world around him. Outside, the mechanical beasts called cars hummed and rumbled like an agitated herd of cows, only there was no way to calm them back into complacency. Under that, he heard the wind as it sang through the many tight corridors and lanes of the city around them, telling of a coming storm. Beyond that, very faintly, was the noise of life, of people as they moved about their business despite the darkening sky and cooling night. It was all the very opposite of what he was used to hearing. His attention spiraled in. There was the hiss and rattle of water in pipes, feeding the shower. Then the precise tick-tick-tick of a keyboard from the next room. A sigh and a muttering as pages flipped before a book closed. A toneless, nonsensical hum as small things clicked and the subtle, but permeating buzz of electricity slowly grew. So much noise…it was amazing anyone could hear anything in this day and age.
Once more confident in his security, his attention narrowed down further still, until the only things left to hear was his own breath and heartbeat, and the same in the body asleep next to him. For the first time in four days, Desmond was asleep and peacefully so. The visions and voices that haunted him were quiet for the time being, seemingly put off by the fact that Altair was there, awake and ready to help guide his youngest descendent back out of whatever hell they'd tried to drag him into. No one could quite say why he and Ezio had that power, but then again, neither could it be explained as to why he and his Italian counterpart were here in the modern era, so far beyond their own lifetimes. In the end, it mattered more that he could ease the burden than why it was possible.
It was part of their creed, still surviving after so many hundreds of years. If nothing was genuinely true, and everything was honestly permitted, then to ask why something was so seemed pointless. While circumstances might not be as they would have wished, everything was as it needed to be. A cold comfort at best, given Desmond's slow decent into madness, but it was also a promise that there would be an end to it all. They merely needed to show patience. And they were Assassins, which made Patience their sworn brother.
Footsteps, light and nearly silent, drew Altair's attention from his philosophical musings. He tensed, hand straying to the knife sitting in his lap. A little big to be thrown well, but it would give him more than enough time to take an assailant to ground with the hidden blade still strapped to his arm. He counted out the steps, breathing slowly, evening his heartbeat against the rush of adrenaline. And then, a few feet from the doorway proper, they stopped. Turned. There was a bit of a retreat back up the hall before the steps returned, heavier sounding, as if almost a purposeful stomp. An equally heavy knock landed on the door frame twice before Ezio peered carefully in, his hair dripping into his eyes.
"You're not going to throw something at me for not making enough noise again, are you?" he asked.
Altair felt a smile twitch on his scarred lips. "I'm thinking about it."
"Madre di Dio, he does have a sense of humour…" Ezio walked in, gently kicking the door closed as he finished toweling his hair dry. Altair relaxed and released the weapon, watching the other more out of habit than conscious desire.
Perhaps it was easier to see the differences between the three of them simply because they knew themselves. Several people had mistaken one for another several times and it was apparently quite disconcerting to see them all lined up together, and in a way, Altair could see why. Dark hair, intense golden eyes, similar builds, and then the identical in all ways except cause scar over their lips on the right side. Even their voices harmonized to a certain extent, inflection and accent the only true deviances. At a glance, they could easily be mistaken for the same person and it was well known few ever did more than glance.
But to a trained eye, Ezio was taller, broader in the shoulder and chest with the appropriate musculature for it. His hair was nearly as black as night and worn much longer than anyone else's. But his complexion was also fairer, and a touch more delicate for it if the scarring was any indication. Altair himself was nearly a twig by comparison. Thin, but etched with muscle and therefore that much stronger than either of the children of his children. His hair, close cute like Desmond's but without the uniform precision, was more of a deep brown than actual black with a reddish cast to it. Everything about his skin was dark and calloused thanks to a merciless sun and a lifetime of training under it. Desmond himself was the not-so-happy medium in between them. Not as tall, not as strong, not rakish and refined, not quiet and unnoticed. Neither ancestor expected him to be—he was still a novice, for all his skill. He could pull moves together, act with technical precision, but he had yet to gain the grace, ease, and individual style that only time could provide.
More importantly, perhaps, was that he had yet to realize he already possessed the better tools and skills for his world. Altair could fend off any attack and retaliate with deadly force, Ezio could run circles around his opposition with his feet and his mouth, and Desmond…he could think far beyond any of that and react accordingly to things that had yet to happen. If only he had more confidence in his decisions outside open conflict…
"He's finally sleeping?" Ezio asked, once more breaking into his thoughts. The other had finished drying and was still dressing, but his attention was glued to the bed.
"For now," Altair replied. They both knew it was only a matter of time before peace once more turned to bloody battle, before the knowledge that had been unwittingly passed on continued its devastating work.
"About time," was the equally somber reply. "He needs more rest than he's getting."
"It's hard to rest when you feel the weight of the world upon your shoulders."
"Still, strapping into that demonic device…" The rest didn't need to be said. They'd been through the arguments. The amalgamation of wires and technology everyone called the Animus 2.0 seemed no better than a glorified means of torture. It had been surprisingly painful to watch sharp eyes go sightless and his body become as still as death as Desmond turned into himself to find the answers needed to survive what was to come next. They were Avatars of the Underworld, Grandmasters of their craft who had sent countless numbers to their end. But to watch and do nothing as the machine began its terrible work—Ezio could barely stand it, ridden hard by his own demons. The only reason Altair was any better was because of the emotional control that had literally been beaten into him. He could not watch for long, no matter how necessary the whole thing was. And for every hour Desmond submitted in an effort to unlock what was trapped in his mind, he would suffer twice as long as reality blurred just that much more.
The ire Ezio felt remained unvoiced, but the short, quick manner in which he rearmed himself said more than words could. The clothes and restrictions of the modern world made them both feel a bit naked. Only what could be concealed could be carried, which meant mostly range weaponry and knives or daggers beyond their hidden blades. The swords were easy enough to set aside, but they had been unable to completely adapt to the environment around them. As such, Altair had kept the curved short sword that strapped across his back, covering it with a backpack to reduce attention to it. Alternatively, Ezio had kept the vambraces and therefore both his hidden blades as well as the single shot pistol. They had both picked up a fondness for the electrified batons the Templar organization liked to use, which conveniently collapsed into small, concealable forms. Since they were in a safe house, neither of them bothered with the jackets and such that provided street cover. It was more important to remain armed in case of a sneak attack, of which there had already been two. Defense and protection were their main goals now, ones they took very seriously, though sometimes the fervor behind the action was startling in its intensity.
After double checking everything was where it needed to be, Ezio came over to the bed, still looking at Desmond. "Do you suppose we ever look that innocent while we sleep? You know, after taking the oath and becoming assassino…"
"All children are innocent when they sleep," Altair responded without thinking.
Surprisingly, that earned a soft laugh. Careful not to disturb the still-sleeping occupant, Ezio laid down, rolled on to his side to face the other two, his head propped up in his hand. "So I am not the only one who thinks of us in terms of family." He smiled at the look of mild shock Altair was no doubt wearing. "What, is such an observation that far out of line? We are blood relatives, even if we are separated by several hundred years. Should we not be as a family when family is most needed?"
Altair didn't respond immediately. Instead, he looked down at Desmond, relaxed and still and even with sleep. His eyes shifted over to Ezio, also relaxed and still, but also very intent as he waited for an answer. Change the setting and time frame, and it could have been Sef asleep at his side as Darim plied his curiosity to his father's knowledge. The overlap of imagery was a bit painful, but neither unwarranted nor unwelcomed.
"Yes," he finally replied. "We are as family. You both remind me of my children, eldest and youngest respectively."
It was Ezio's turn to stare for a moment, certainly because such information was rarely offered freely, the easy smile on his face transforming into a much more sincere version. "I suppose that is a good thing," he allowed, "since most of the time I feel like an errant son around you, yet, an older brother to him." Apparently satisfied with the outcome of the conversation, he turned it in another direction. "If you are tired or wish to get cleaned up, I can take over the watch," he offered.
A shower was probably a good idea—they'd been on the move nearly constantly for a while now, trying to stay far enough ahead of Abstergo to give Desmond the time he needed. But it could wait. For the moment, Altair had no desire to give up what had become a source of great comfort. He gently shook his head. "Find your own rest while you can," he said instead. "I would finish my reading first."
"As you wish." Ezio yawned and stretched out to a more comfortable position. "Wake me then, when you are ready to switch. And do so in a kinder fashion than pushing me off the bed, if you'd be so inclined." He glared slightly from the corner of his eye. "Do not wait for the sun to rise. Fathers need their rest as much as their children and older brothers make quite excellent guards." Altair nodded indulgently. His less than subtle prodding acknowledged, Ezio closed his eyes and quickly fell into sleep himself.
For a long time, the book was left forgotten in Altair's hand. Instead, he found himself simply watching over his descendants as they slept, quietly marveling over how much things could change, yet remain ever the same. Yes, if he looked closely enough, he could see his own sons in the two men next to him, both of which needed the same kind of guidance. A small smile came to his face as he finally gave into the urge to lay a hand on the head lying close to his side, as he had once to quiet the sleep of his often restless second child. There was a slight sigh as Desmond momentarily awoke at the touch, only to resettle immediately after. Another thread of tension seemed to loosen, allowing for an even deeper state of sleep than before. On the far side, Ezio made an answering sigh as he too relaxed a bit more. Their synched heartbeats and breaths in turn helped ease a stiffness Altair had not even been aware of.
Indeed, all children were innocent when they slept, regardless of whatever their actual age might be. And a father's greatest privilege was in being able to watch over that innocence, to stand in its defense. There was something quite reassuring in the thought that he was allowed to do as such thing now for two who needed it the most.
The end. TK'12