A second chance. It was supposed to be a perfect opportunity. A chance to change, to go back and fix your mistakes. They weren't supposed to be hard, and they weren't supposed to mean waking up one morning sixteen years old again, stuck nine years in the past, confused and traumatized and sort of hallucinating.

Except this was exactly the sort of second chance Desmond had found himself stuck in, with the added bonus that he was pretty sure he should have been dead. Instead, he'd woken up in 2003, back on the Farm where he'd spent his childhood, a head full of memories that hadn't happened yet.

It was kind of disorienting, and sometimes Desmond found himself wondering if it had all been just a dream. Running away, living in New York, being captured by Abstergo, escaping- the apple- Lucy- and then dying. Sometimes he thought he must be going crazy, but the memories were all there, clear as day. And then there were the hallucinations- if an ever worsening bleeding effect could be considered proof of anything.

Most of the time, he found himself hoping it had all been real, however impossible it seemed. He'd lived more during the last four months of his life than in the twenty five years before them. For once, he'd felt like he'd belonged- like he could make a difference. It had been nice to have something to believe in.

And here he was, back at the beginning, facing the question- if it was real, if he had been killed in Juno's Temple nine years in the future and half a continent away, why had he been sent back? And how? And what was he supposed to do?

The uncertainty gnawed at him constantly, making him distracted and miserable. He spent his days lying to everyone, not because he wanted to, but because he didn't want them to think he'd gone crazy. And the nightmares he'd been having ever since he'd first been captured by Abstergo grew worse. One wet Monday a few weeks after waking up in 2003, Desmond woke from a particularly bad one to find his dad standing over him, looking concerned. It was not a familiar sight.

"Dad," Desmond said. He was breathing heavily- the nightmare he'd just woken from hadn't been one of his, but one of Ezio's, and it was harder than he liked to admit to force his mind back into the present day. "Um. Hi."

"You were yelling in your sleep," his father said, expression unreadable.

"Nightmare," Desmond muttered, standing up. He had been lying on the floor, having fallen out of bed at some point during the dream.

"In Italian," said his father.

"Oh." He didn't meet his father's gaze. There was no explanation he could give that wouldn't make him sound completely crazy.

His father sighed. "Desmond," he began, in a tone Desmond knew very well. It was the one his dad always used for lectures. "You've been acting strangely lately. You've actually been doing your training, and you've been doing it extremely well."

Desmond winced. He'd forgotten what it was like to be sixteen. The constant arguments with his family, over what they saw as his dangerously stubborn refusal to involve himself in anything related to the assassins. With all that had happened lately- well, he hadn't even bothered trying to be the same Desmond who'd run away nearly a decade ago. He'd changed too much, and apparently people had noticed.

"We haven't argued in weeks," his father continued.

Desmond bit his lip and looked down as the memory of his father, captured by Vidic flashed through his mind. Some things are hard to appreciate until you realize how easy they would be to lose.

"And you've been jumpy," his father finished. "It's not just these nightmares."

Desmond wondered how many people wouldn't be jumpy, if they had to deal with hallucinations from the bleeding effect on an almost daily basis, hallucinations that had grown worse and more frequent since coming back to the past. He tried to think of something to say, but in the end all he could think of was to fall back on acting like an obnoxious teenager- there had to be some advantages of going through puberty twice.

"So you're pissed at me for doing what you want," he said.

"Desmond, there's no need for-" his father caught himself and lowered his voice. It was barely two in the morning. "I'm just concerned."

"Don't be," said Desmond, more harshly than he'd meant to.

"It's just that we're going to have someone coming to stay with us and I'd rather you didn't scare her away."

"Wait, what?" Desmond had expected more arguments about his behavior, not a bombshell about someone new coming to the Farm. "Her? Who her?" He didn't remember anyone coming to stay the first time around, but then, this was about the time he'd run off, originally. He should have been halfway to New York already.

"A novice," said his father. "A new recruit named Lucy."

"No." The word escaped him before Desmond could even think of holding it back. That wasn't right, was it? She hadn't come to the assassins so early. Or had she? And either way, what was he supposed to do when he saw her? The last time they'd been together, he'd killer her.

-/-

She arrived the next morning, just after breakfast, carrying a shiny black umbrella and a beat up backpack. Desmond watched her arrive, hidden up a tree so he could see her without being seen. He followed her as his mother showed her around the Farm. He watched her smile, and wondered how genuine it was. Was she already working for Abstergo, planning to betray them?

He successfully avoided her until right before dinner, when she cornered him in his room. She tried to smile, but one look in her eyes was enough to tell him- no matter how impossible it seemed, this was the same Lucy he had known, and killed- the one from the future, given a second chance just as he had been.

"Hi," she said. "I'm-"

"I'm sorry I killed you," Desmond blurted. "But I'm not sorry I stopped you." He didn't know what made him say it, but the moment he did, Lucy closed her eyes and sagged against the wall.

"So you didn't make it either," she said. "You're dead too."

"Looks like," said Desmond, quietly.

For several minutes they stood in silence, looking at anything but each other. Then Lucy asked, "So what are we supposed to do now?"

"I have no idea," said Desmond.

"Are you going to tell-"

"No." Desmond laughed. "What am I supposed to tell people, that I'm from the future and- and I don't know. It sounds crazy to me. It'll sound even worse to anyone else."

"I know what you mean."

They went back to avoiding each other for a while, then- "Truce?"

Desmond sighed. "I don't think I can trust you in a truce."

"You're the one that killed me," Lucy pointed out.

"And you're the templar spy," Desmond shot back. "What are you even doing here, anyway?"

"I'm hoping for a second chance," said Lucy quietly. "I've been here months. Thinking."

"I don't believe you," said Desmond, angry because he wanted to.

"I don't expect you too," said Lucy. "I never expected you to be here at all, really, but, Desmond- I'm sorry you're dead."

Desmond didn't answer at first, but then he said, "I'm sorry I killed you."

"I'm sorry I'm a templar."

And somehow, that was what broke the tension. "What?" Lucy demanded. "Why are you laughing?"

"Because life is ridiculous and we're having this conversation."

"And how did we even get here?" Lucy was laughing now too. "It's not funny, but..."

"It's better than going crazy," Desmond said.

"Am I interrupting something?" Desmond's mother stood in the doorway, an expression halfway between confusion and amusement on her face.

"What?" Desmond tried to stop laughing but another glance at Lucy only made it worse. "No, not really."

"Well, dinner's on the table," said his mother. "It's ready when you are."

-/-

Well, I thought I'd never come back to writing fan fiction, but here I am again, a bit out of practice but we'll see where this goes.