Into The West
Summary: A grown Connor Kenway meets Edward Kenway on a distant shore.
The waves swept in along the stark shore. Connor Kenway waded in the surf, water swirling with pale foam about his sand-encrusted leggings and boots. A pale moon rose on that distant horizon, and he shielded his eyes with his free hand out of habit, more than necessity and wished for a spyglass.
There was no sign of the Aquila, not out there in those uncharted waters. He couldn't even remember how he'd ended up marooned on this beach. The Aquila. He hadn't sailed with her for years, perhaps. He remembered Faulkner's funeral; the coarse shape of sewn canvas, a sailor's hammock and a watery grave.
He spotted a shape, then, moving against the rhythm of the tide. A man staggered out of the waters, swiping sea-drenched, scraggly blond hair from his eyes. He was bearded, somewhat ragged, and the robes he wore were not unlike Connor's. They were a pale off-white ivory and sea-washed blue, and the leather padding he wore was scuffed and somewhat in need of mending. He was armed, and Connor counted almost four flintlocks and two sheathed cutlasses on leather straps, cinched by a fraying deep red sash at his waist, though it was doubtful the flintlocks would work when waterlogged.
He didn't wear the symbol, and his hood had been cast down like Connor's, but still Connor knew. "Brother," he said.
The other rangy Assassin flopped down on the sand and glanced up at him and smiled. "Oh, look at you. Sorry I was late. Never been very good with getting the gist of punctuality. Then again," he mused, "I suppose it does run in the family."
"You were expecting me?" Connor asked politely, somewhat confused. There was something familiar about this Assassin. He wondered if it would come to him in time.
"Eventually," the other Assassin said. "You did take your time about it. Not that I'm complaining, of course." He glanced out at the ocean. "It's a strange thing, to be talking to you. I always thought it would be Haytham, eventually." He gave a small, sad smile. "But then again, I suppose I always knew he was too independent for his own good."
"Are you referring to Haytham Kenway?" Connor asked. "The Grand Master of the Templars?"
"Yes, Haytham," the man said. He held out his hand, and confused, Connor took it. "C'mon there, give an old man some help, will you?" Connor tugged, helping the man to his feet. He was still dripping wet.
Connor frowned. The man was young, he thought. Almost as young as he was. How was it that he called himself an old man? "I do not understand," he said at last. "You seem as young as I am."
"I wouldn't bet on it," the man muttered.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said," the man said, smoothing out his robes as best as he could, and adjusting his weapon straps, "That looks can be deceiving. Leave an old man some dignity, hmm?" There was something about those kohl-lined dark eyes…
"You knew Haytham Kenway?" Connor asked, casting his mind to something different. "You spoke of him."
A wry smile. "Yes, I suppose you could say that…it was a very strange thing," the man said. "Perhaps a family tradition of sorts…sons always disappoint their fathers. I was a disappointment to mine, when I chose to become a privateer…to sail the seas, and all that. I was in love with the idea back then, you see."
"Why did you stop sailing, then?"
The man glanced at him. Almost slyly, he said, "I found something more important."
"You understand? Perhaps you do."
"In any case," Connor said, firmly, "We should find a way off this island. I do not doubt that we will be able to hunt here, but there seems to be little hope of rescue from a passing ship."
The man was laughing. "Oh, don't worry your head about that. She's coming."
"She? Who is she?"
"My ship," he said. "The Jackdaw. Quite beautiful, I always thought. You'll see her in just a bit."
"The Jackdaw," Connor repeated. It sounded familiar. He said, "Faulkner spoke of her. He said the ship had been decommissioned decades ago."
"She's still in good shape, as far as I'm concerned," the Assassin said. "There! You can just barely make her out on the horizon." He pointed, and Connor followed the direction of his outstretched finger. And there, he saw it. A distant shape, flickering on the edge of the horizon. And then clearer: a small ship, not unlike his Aquila, flying sails of pale grey. Above all of those fluttered a charcoal flag. Connor couldn't make out the device from where he stood.
"She appears to be a good ship," he conceded.
"The best. She'll be on us by about the next tide, and then we'll be off. She's one of the fastest ships around, after all. I fell in love with her, you see, when she raced on the open ocean with the wind in her sails."
Connor remembered. "Yes," he said. Sons always disappoint their fathers, the man had said. He wondered, not for the first time, about Haytham. He had regretted the way it ended, with his hidden blade through his father's throat. Achilles would likely have approved. His mentor had said there was no other end possible. He was an Assassin. Haytham was a Templar. One of them was destined to kill the other.
He had written, afterwards, below Haytham's portrait, "Sakataterihwáhten." He had crossed it out later, sometime after he cleaned the last of the blood from his hidden blade, and sometime after he had bundled the portraits away to be cleansed in fire. Nothing was left except peeling brown parcel-paper and white chalk-strokes he had long forgotten about.
Still, I'm proud of you, in a way.
"How did you know Haytham?" Connor asked.
The man looked faintly surprised. There, in the pale light of the distant moon, and the faintest glimmer of starlight, it all came together for Connor. It was Haytham, in the nose, the eyes, in the set of his jaw…it was Haytham, set in a face that was far more open than Haytham's closed expressions had been. He knew then, even before the man said, "I'm Edward Kenway. Captain of the Jackdaw, gentleman of fortune and Assassin."
"I know," Connor said. "Grandfather."
Edward smiled. "And you're Connor, Haytham's son. You do resemble him. Grandson," he said, trying the word out.
Both of them stared at each other for a few long moments, grandfather and grandson seeing traces of each other in their faces. Connor thought, so this is my father's father. There was no telling what Edward thought.
"You said that it seemed to be a family tradition that sons disapppoint their fathers."
Edward heaved a long sigh. "I taught him to think for himself, Connor," he said, patiently. "I taught him the art of argumentation, to dispute the opinions of others. To be his own man. Yes, I am disappointed that he chose to be taken in by the words of the Templars and to become one of them. But I also see my son, and a man who was no less than what I'd taught him to be. Someone who made his own choices."
"He tried to make me see things from his point of view," Connor said. "He wanted me to join the Templars. He…" Connor hesitated. He said, "He wanted to talk to me. To know me."
Edward said, "It is never easy. I never got to see Haytham grow up. In a way, I ask myself sometimes if it was less my teaching and more of Birch's that made Haytham who he was. Perhaps children don't know any better and they never do."
Connor said, "I was a child when my mother died. I was told to seek out the Assassins."
"Yes," Edward said. "I am sorry, Connor." Young, with seawater plastering his sun-bleached hair to his sunburned face. Haytham had been greying when Connor met him for the first time. When they fought. When he killed his father.
"Grandfather," Connor said. He tested the word, felt how strange it sounded on his tongue. "How is this possible? What is happening?"
Edward frowned. "You don't remember, do you?"
Blood. Dripping. Warmth spreading out from his chest. "You savages just don't know when to lie down and die, do you?"
Connor closed his eyes. "No," he said.
"It'll pass," Edward said. More soberly, he said, "Grandson. Connor. I want you to know that I am very proud of you…and very glad to have finally met you."
The distant ship drew closer and closer, a grey shape against dark waters. Face turned into the ocean wind, Connor heard the creak of rigging, the sound of the waves, breathed in sea-salt on the breeze. "Grandfather. Thank you. It is good to finally meet you."
In response, Edward's arm slipped onto his shoulder, as the older man drew him into a one-armed hug. Connor let him. It was a gesture he had never quite grown used to, growing up as he had among the Kanien'kehá:ka, but he tolerated it for the man's sake. He supposed they were family, after all. "Where are we going?" Connor asked, as they watched the far-flung horizon and the ship sailing in towards the beach where they stood.
"Home," came the simple reply. The ship knifed gracefully through the waters, and as the pale moon overhead cast its light on the sea, as the gulls called out, all turned to silver glass.
A/N: Inspired by 'Into The West' from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and a piece of fanart depicting young Haytham/Connor and Edward Kenway.