Two things I probably should've mentioned last chapter:

Firstly, title? I had forgotten about a title, so I just picked a phrase from Ch1 as I was uploading it. Not sure how comfortable I am with it, but until people start complaining, I think I'll keep it.

On a more subtle second, Ezio's Italian confuses me. I should italicize it as it's non-English, but I use plenty of italics already for thoughts. Therefore, I probably won't italicize his Italian. Also, I'll try to use only simple words and those from the games. Anything else that's important will be translated at the bottom of the page. (I don't speak Italian, so they'll be hopefully competent internet translations.)

Second: A Predicament

Desmond didn't think he had run too far from their camp, but he was still walking along the stone path at a brisk pace, half listening to the quiet conversation in his head between the long-dead assassins. Things looked more familiar now, but he couldn't be entirely sure; everything was made out of rocks.

It took him a moment to realize his name was being called.

"What?" he shouted, snapping to attention.

In here, per favore.

Right, sorry, he thought, switching to their new 'telepathic' form of communication. I wasn't listening, by the way.

We have been thinking of possible nicknames for the young one, explained Ezio, but he does not like any of them.

Just because you two can't pronounce my name does not mean I should get a new one! Ratohnhaké:ton protested. It was a gift from my people: a name like all those who came before us. And anyway, Desmond can say my name perfectly. It is not impossible.

Given our current situation, Desmond is not exactly your average example, Altaïr pointed out.

Ratohnhaké:ton, they might have the right idea, to some extent, the American said slowly. He was going to have to practice focusing on both the voices in his head and the outside world; he had nearly run into a wall twice now. It is a bit long and complicated, in the way of names.

The Mohawk growled. Fine. Then as you are so well-informed about my life, what name should I get?

He thought for a few seconds, unsure of how to answer, before something clicked. Connor, he told them. Go with Connor.

"Connor?" The echo was disappointed, as if expecting something better from the limitless possibilities that the bartender had to choose from.

Trust me, it's genetic.

It is short and simple, commented Ezio lightly. Desmond could sense a scowl coming from the youngest assassin, but he stopped paying attention when he heard his other cohorts nearby.

"—and this time, not only do we have to fix it again, but we're out of batteries for the damn thing!"

"It's a miracle it works at least five percent of the time; it's years ahead of the current technological age, after all."

"Ah, here comes the star now!"

Shaun and Rebecca were standing around the Animus, ending their discussion upon his arrival. William turned, meeting his son as he slowed to a walk. He looked frustrated, but he tried to mask it with a small smile, a gesture that Desmond did not return.

"That seemed like a long jog," William commented. It wasn't as casual as the comment was meant to be.

Desmond pushed past him, looking straight ahead. "Sometimes I like living in my own time and my own life."

I can see the family resemblance. You have his jaw line.

Ezio, that might not have been the best thing to say, Altaïr admonished. They do not seem to get along well.

Connor sighed. I guess tense paternal relationships run in the family.

The American tried not to snarl. Would it kill you to be quiet so I don't seem mental?

"Uh, Des?"

Rebecca was behind him. He turned around, realizing he had walked right past the people he wanted to see. Rather than acknowledge his mistake, he said, slightly annoyed, "So what's up with the Animus? Is it fried to hell? Or have all our efforts actually meant something to someone somewhere and it's perfectly fine?"

Shaun's eyes narrowed behind his glasses, suspicious. Rebecca, however, sighed contentedly and flashed her friend a smile. "Something must have counted; only a few circuits were shot. I got those fixed up in no time, and after a complete check, it appears to be fine."

Desmond clapped his hands together. Maybe he wouldn't have to worry about collecting rent from his ancestors. "That is the best news I've heard all day. So am I going back to Conn—er, Ratohnhaké:ton?"

"Normally," the Brit quipped, still watching carefully, "I'd ask what you're on, but seeing as it's very improbable that you found an ancient drug in the depths of a First Civilization labyrinth, I'm going to ignore your condition."

"Nice to know you care."

"Yes, and since we all love the star of Animus Entertainment, the next episode will feature Desmond Miles as himself in his retrieval of the Temple battery!" Shaun waved his hand at the entrance. "Go on, go fetch."

Said star mimicked his motion before flipping up his middle finger. Rebecca snickered (as well as someone in his head, but he was trying to ignore them). "Shaun may be a sarcastic ass at times," she said, "but he's right: We can't run the Animus for long without another battery."

"So at one point or another, I have to be the one that jumps out of the frying pan." The bartender crossed his arms, only arguing for the sake of being involved; he knew he was the only one that would even have a chance of retrieving anything more important than milk with Abstergo on their tail.

The woman sent him an apologetic look. "Sorry, Agent Miles, but that's the way the cookie crumbles." Nudging Shaun, the two began collecting Desmond's equipment. "When another one of us completes two lifetimes of Assassin training, we'll start taking shifts."

She handed him the earpiece to the communicator, giving him a reassuring smile. Holding her gaze, he eventually sighed quietly. "Hopefully you'll be able to get through one lifetime."

Patting his arm, Rebecca dropped the rest of the device into his hands before turning away to assist Shaun. Even though times were tough, Desmond was reminded yet again that he was lucky to have a friend like her. The moment would have led to nostalgia if he didn't hear a wolf whistle ring between his ears. Buonanotte, Venus, the Italian whispered with a purr in his voice.

Oh, shut up! That's my friend you're talking about. Desmond took off his backpack and started packing for his mission.

He could just imagine the look that would have been on Ezio's face: sly, suave, and seductive. But is she just a "friend," young hero of the Assassin Order? She's capable, competent, and the only beautiful woman in the company of men.

Ezio, Rebecca's like a sister to me, and we're all a family here. It's us against the world, after all.

"We're all family?" Altaïr echoed with a hint of amusement. None of you are incredibly close with the Briton.

My point exactly, Ezio agreed, and unless you would rather that she sleep with you father, you are the only potential partner for her, the only one that can fulfill her…desires.

Desmond really hoped it was Ezio that was playing suggestive scenes in his head and not his own imagination. Either way, it was hard not to heat up at some of them.

It seemed he wasn't the only one. Clearing his throat, Connor asked, stammering, Uh, D-Desmond? It would be wonderful right about now if you told me that the Italian and I are from opposite sides of your lineage.

Why so nervous, Connor? Surely you have been with a woman before? Upon failing to hear a response, he chuckled knowingly. So you have not! Not to worry, young one: Altaïr may be the master assassin, but I am a master of a more legal and pleasurable field.

I resent that. I have pleased my own share of women, as well, Altaïr stated. He said nothing in response to Connor's pleas for help, though Desmond could sense a ghost of a smirk at the Native's discomfort.

"Desmond, you look like you're burning up," Rebecca commented from behind him, startling the bartender out of the discussion once again. In his surprise, he was literally thrown out of his senses, unable to prevent the chill from spreading under his skin.

Spreading his stolen lips into a grin, Ezio spun Desmond's body around, deftly hooking an arm around Rebecca's waist and lacing his fingers with hers as he dropped her into a low dip. She yelped, dropping her notebook, which he caught between his teeth, inches from her face.

She stared at him in shock. Ezio held her gaze, a moment too long. Then he opened his mouth, letting the book fall onto her chest. "Oops," he muttered sheepishly. "Caught me off guard."

He pulled her to her feet. Rebecca, after catching the notebook as it fell once again, continued to watch him in a perplexed manner. "Well," she finally breathed, "I came over to ask if you really were feeling alright, but after a move like that, I think you're fine."

He laughed, bending his host's voice into something more legato. "Yes, sorry. I was simply lost in thought when you appeared."

"But a minute ago, you had a vicious blush, but now…." The woman trailed off as she laid the back of her hand against his cheek, followed by his forehead.

Trying hard to keep his pissed off emotions in check, Desmond noticed that blood had stopped flooding his face. Apparently once his nerves had stopped receiving orders from him, they had no need to react to his arousal.

"Well, no matter what, Rebecca," his possessor said with a slight roll of the 'R,' "I am sure to be fine so long as you're around."

He flashed her a smile, at which she laughed. "Really, Des? Now you're starting to sound like Ezio." Nevertheless, the technician returned the gesture as she walked past him, lightly punching his shoulder on her way out of the Temple. "And not that I didn't appreciate that, but I think that after this is all over, you deserve a nice long vacation away from the Animus."

He turned to watch her go. As he crossed his arms with an air of triumph, he whispered, "Now that, i miei amici, was step one."

Sure, Casanova, but that wasn't necessary, Desmond grumbled as he pushed Ezio back onto the sidelines. He was annoyed by the assassin's flirtatious tendencies, as well as the harsh reminder that he was no longer the sole inhabitant of his body, but he was relieved that the situation wasn't as bad as it could have been. A quick glance around the room revealed Shaun had already left, and his father was too far away to have noticed. After one last check, he grabbed his bag from the table and slung it over his shoulder as he followed his partner out to the van.

He heard a groan from Connor. Great, he muttered dryly. I am going to have a womanizer for an advisor. A sure sign of my luck.

The American shrugged. You're only stuck with your possible great great granddad who wants to help you get laid. Could be worse.

Oh really? How?

You both could be in his body and he could be gay. There're two ways.

It doesn't sound like 'gay' means the same thing that it does in my time, does it?

Well, young Connor, when a man and another man love each other very much, they express it through a little game where—

Stop. Just stop. I g-get it. You win. J-Just…never mention it again.

His hands were folded as he sat in the back of the van. Shaun was driving, and Rebecca was up front giving her directions. Desmond heard Manhattan as their destination. He could already imagine how his ancestors would react to the modern city.

Bang! shouted Connor, steeling his voice. And with that, the beam fell and the roof collapsed, stealing my mother from me.

It is sad that so many join our Order because of tragic childhoods, Ezio lamented. He had shared the story of his induction before their youngest companion. They all knew Altaïr's story already; he maintained his normal stoic and silent demeanor.

Not everyone, corrected the American, but quite a few. You two just happen to be similar: You both were driven by the search for vengeance from a young age.

A twinge of annoyance came from Connor. Right. You would know because you have already lived through our lives.

Ah, è vero Desmond. Since none of us know, tell us how you came to join the Assassini.

Compared to you guys, I'm nothing fantastic, Desmond stated. I was kinda like Altaïr, in that sense.

The assassin in question did not react to the mention of his name, although Desmond was sure that he was still walking on thin ice.

I was born into the Order. A real golden ticket, they say. Sighing, he glanced across at his father for emphasis, who was busy hacking Abstergo or NASA or the NSA to defeat the Templars or whatever he does on that tablet. My father raised me in a community of Assassins, completely cut off from the world and the Templars. I had the best, most efficient childhood an Assassin could dream of, but I despised it. Their purpose was so damn cryptic and secretive that I never saw a point in the long, painful hours of training. So I left.

You just left, Connor deadpanned, unconvinced of the simplicity of it.

Well, yeah. I left and never went back. Got a job in the city and stayed out of the spotlight. I'm surprised I lasted so long, actually. Seven years passed before I was dragged back into it by the Templars.

Once an Assassin, always an Assassin, mused Altaïr.

The Mohawk scoffed, but before he could say anything, the van stopped, throwing Desmond against the back of Shaun's seat. "Wake up, Desmond!" Rebecca shouted, half turning around to smirk at the dazed bartender. "We're here, and there are still a few hours until sunrise, so let's go over the plan."

"What plan?" He pulled his hood up over his head. "There's climbing, there's running, there's imminent risk of death, and then I find the battery and climb back down. Simple."

"You forgot this part," said William, sliding a bag to his son.

It took him a moment to realize what it was. "Oh, shit. I'm supposed to fucking parachute off of a skyscraper?"

"You've got that right, double-O seven," the Brit confirmed. "It's the only way you can get to the battery's building. It's in a corporate office complex, so its security systems are top-notch."

Rebecca added, "Besides, a parachute is a lot safer than falling a hundred feet into a pile of hay."

He groaned. "At least let me stretch for a minute."

"Countdown started."

Moving to the back, Desmond flung the doors open with a flourish. The van was parked inside a warehouse with an open wall. By the time he walked fully outside of the structure, the assassins were thoroughly awed.

The lights and noise of the city engulfed him, and the familiarity of it all made him smile. They weren't anywhere close to the city's center, but it was still bright enough to make the night look like a cloudy day. Entire buildings were alit in reds, yellows, and blues, and the swell of traffic was running along the streets despite the hour. Aircrafts drifted by overhead, finishing off the cityscape scene with their blinking lights dotting the sky like stars.

Mamma mia, Ezio breathed in amazement. Incredibile….

Pure wonder radiated off of Connor. This is how far people go in a couple hundred years.

This is how far people go in nine hundred years, Altaïr countered. He, too, sounded like he was only barely holding on to his stoicism. In my day, this would be deemed sorcery, but now, it has transformed the way of life into something so completely different.

Is each of those points of light a small fire? asked their youngest member.

It's electricity, Desmond told them, the stuff lightning is made of.

Whoa…. all three said in unison, making their host overjoyed to have earned their admiration.

He spread his arms out in front of him, reaching out to capture the vast city between his fingers. "Welcome to the new age, guys."

And there you have it.


i miei amici—my friends

è vero—it's true

A bit shorter than last chapter, but this was a good place to end it. So poetic. Actually it could've been much more poetic, but I'm not going for a lyrical masterpiece. Just enough to convey the utter awe men from past epochs must feel when they're thrown into New York City. Said awe is also really hard to write when said men are voices in another guy's head.

Can I share some statistics? I'm an unknown author on FFnet, with only a few updates and even fewer stories, and I'm cool with that; writing's a hobby, something that's fun for me to do. But when I posted this, the response I got was phenomenal. Chapter 1 has been up for just over three months, and it has gotten 1272 views, 16 reviews, 61 favorites, and 68 follows. That's nothing compared to some other fanfics. (There's a Harry Potter one that has 14,093 favorites.) However, for a small-time writer like me, this has been fantastic. Like…wow.

Thank you all so much! I love those emails that I get when one of you favs/follows/reviews! I'm glad I got this posted; I'm leaving for Taiwan in six hours. Yay long plane rides.