Note: Contains original character/canon character pairing, and spoils for AC1, AC2, parts of ACB. If that's a problem for you, then turn back now. If you're reading on a mobile device, the formatting may not show up correctly.
Desmond loved the night time.
He knew they worried about him being caught when he went outside, and hell, even he himself worried about it a bit. But after being held hostage at Abstergo, and having to stay inside at the previous Assassin safehouse, it was so great to actually be outdoors. So much better than that stuffy underground chamber. To feel the breeze was so invigorating. Freerunning in the Animus wasn't really "free"; he was always supposed to stick to the mission. And Ezio was always weighed down with armor and weapons.
The others were always going out in the daytime to do various errands, which surely ran a much higher risk of discovery. And at least Desmond knew better than to get in fights with the locals, unlike Shaun. God, that guy's annoying. Fucking know-it-all. He thinks he's witty, but he's just a jerk. That was another reason he loved getting out. It was a respite from Shaun's near-constant bad attitude.
He grabbed a windowsill and propelled himself onto the roof. Upwards, across, over, down, then upwards again. The movements were almost automatic now.
Suddenly a stabbing pain intruded on his thoughts. He had grabbed the sharp rusty edge of an old metal gutter. "Aahh! Merda!" With a soft thump, Desmond dropped back down to the balcony below and tried to examine his injury in the darkness. A chuckle escaped him as he realized he had sworn in Italian.
"Desmond?! Is that you?" A voice interjected into the stillness. He raised his gaze from his hand and was suddenly blinded as a light turned on behind the window. He froze. That voice... it couldn't be...her?
His Assassin training was telling him to scram. You can't be seen! You can't trust anyone! That could be an Abstergo agent! He spun around and vaulted from the balcony to the ground, his injured palm complaining.
"Jesus Christ, Desmond, what are you doing?!" She was shouting now. If I keep running, she'll keep yelling, he realized. And then more people will show up, and I'll really be in trouble. He turned back to face the window, but she wasn't there anymore. Footsteps. She was coming downstairs. He looked up and down the alley, hoping that nobody else had been roused by the ruckus. Did I wake her up? How much noise was I making? I gotta try harder to keep quiet...
The front door of the cottage swung open as Desmond stood, his body motionless but his mind racing.
Ragazza mia. I thought I'd never see her again. Why was I running from her? What is she doing in Italy?
The only person from his life in New York whom he'd actually missed. Alexis Chandler. She had been inhabiting Desmond’s dreams lately - when he wasn't having nightmares.
His friend was silhouetted in the doorway against the light from the interior. She opened her mouth and was about to shout after him again. Signaling for quiet, Desmond approached her. Her expression was one of hopeful, perplexed disbelief.
"Lexie... You... What are you doing here?"
She smirked at the question. "What am I doing here? In this vacation house? I'm on a vacation. I couldn't sleep 'cause of jet lag, so I was chilling out and stargazing, when suddenly my missing person boyfriend shows up outside my window! What are you doing here?"
"Uhh...it's kind of a long story, actually."
"I bet. You wanna come inside and tell me? It's kind of chilly out here."
She ushered him in, to a cozy living room. "God, Des, what the fuck happened to you? I was worried crazy!"
"You've always been a little bit crazy," Desmond teased, as he parked himself on the sofa. He lowered his hood, at the same time discreetly taking off his earpiece and pocketing it.
"Seriously! I got my friends to put up all these missing person flyers and stuff! I thought for sure you were kidnapped, or maybe..." Here her voice lowered exponentially. She didn't seem to want to vocalize the thought: "...maybe even... dead."
"Well, I am very much alive, but I was kidnapped."
"Seriously? By who, your weird cult family?"
Ouch, harsh. Desmond winced upon hearing the Assassins referred to as such. But, that is how I used to view it, and how I described it to her back then. It seemed a lifetime ago. "No... It was actually... Abstergo."
"Abstergo Industries." Alexis just sat there, looking at him. I guess it does sound pretty silly, to someone on the outside. Like being kidnapped by GE, or Samsung. After a few moments, she exhaled, and then replied, "You were kidnapped by Abstergo. Okay. Well, right now you seem like a pretty free man to me."
"Well, that's because I excaped." Probably best not to give too many details... at least for now.
"Okaaay. Why are you in Italy?"
"Abstergo's a big company. They have locations all over." He shrugged.
The woman spotted his wounded palm. "Hey, what happened to your hand?"
Desmond looked down at the cut. It wasn't deep, but it was bleeding a bit. "Oh, man. I was so astonished to find you here, I completely forgot about that."
"Let's get that cleaned up." She left the room briefly and returned with a damp cloth and a roll of gauze. As she tended to his hand, she inquired, "Do you want to stay the night? I'll hide you from any bad old Abstergo employees that come lookin' for ya."
"Ah..." He glanced up at the clock. It was just past eleven. Gotta be back by sunrise... "Okay, but I have to be somewhere tomorrow morning. Five o'clock or so."
"Places to go, people to see?"
More like, memories to sync and Templars to kill... "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Come on, you know me: I'll believe anything, if there's good evidence for it." She finished bandaging his hand.
He scrutinised her, ruminating. I've told her this much... is it safe to reveal anything more? Hm, I wonder if... "Give me a moment." Desmond closed his eyes and focused. When he reopened them, his view of the room was hazy and dark. His own body emitted a blue glow, but Alexis was colorless and dim. Not an enemy. Well, I was pretty sure of that already. He scanned the walls, the furniture, the windows, not sure what exactly he was checking for. Would Eagle Vision detect something like an Abstergo surveillance device, if there was one planted in here?
"You okay? What'cha looking for?"
"I'm fine." He blinked a couple times, flipping the mental switch to go back to normal vision. "There's no-one else here?"
He looked earnestly into her eyes. "I'm telling you this because I really trust you. It's top secret, I mean it. You can't even tell anyone I was here, okay?"
"You working for the Italian CIA or something? Come on, you're killing me with this suspense!"
Here goes. He took a deep breath. "I'm an Assassin."
Her lighthearted mood suddenly darkened. "Jesus Christ, Desmond... who did you kill?"
Startled, Desmond yelped, "Wait, no, it's not like that!" Well, technically it is, he thought to himself, remembering Shaun's words: "We're Assassins... it means we kill people." He explained, choosing his words more carefully. "The Assassin Brotherhood. It's an organization based on protecting freedom, and fighting tyranny."
The perplexed look had returned. "Well... that... sounds really noble..."
"And the reason Abstergo kidnapped me, it's because... they've been doing research on genetic memory. They put me in this machine, so they could see into the lives of my ancestors." She looked skeptical, but didn't say anything. "They're looking for something called the Apple of Eden, which can control people's minds. That's their ultimate goal. To create an orderly world where nobody dissents from their authority. We can't let them do that."
"Uh-huh... but that doesn't explain why you're climbing all over the place in the middle of the frickin' night."
"I guess you could say... I'm practicing? Assassins have to be good at excaping from Templars."
"Templar Knights... or Knights Templar, I'm not sure. You know, from the Crusades? Yeah, those dudes are still around. That's what Abstergo really is."
"Wait a minute, this sounds familiar... sounds a lot like that cult you were raised in."
"It's not a cult, okay! Look, I know you're wanting proof, but sorry I can't exactly show you a peer-reviewed scientific study on whether Templars control the world! Staying secret is kind of their thing." He sighed and hung his head. "I know, it sounds preposterous. Genetic memories, mind control, secret societies... but it's all true."
"Desmond, babe..." She wrapped her arms around him. "Just an hour ago I didn't know if you were still alive." His friend's voice trembled. "Let's not argue. Never mind the Templars and all that. I'm just glad you're okay...."
He hugged her back. "I really missed you, you know?" The couple sat motionless for a few moments. He savored the embrace.
"Hmmm... Desmond... What is that?"
"Your... left arm. Something metal?"
She felt the hidden blade. Fuck. She's gonna freak. Lightning fast, Desmond retracted his arms. "Lexie, I..." She was looking at his arm. "You gotta understand. You know me," She was taking his left hand.. "I would never hurt you, you know that, right?" She was pushing back the sleeve of his jacket. "It's..." Words were failing him.
Slowly, gingerly, she ran her fingers over the surface of the metal contraption. "This is... some sort of weapon?"
"Yeah... It's a Hidden Blade. ...You're not frightened?"
"Of you? No, never. But I gotta admit, I'm pretty shaken up. You go missing for weeks, and then I find you running around on another continent in the middle of the night, and you're armed with something like this... It's concerning, to say the least. I'll reserve judgement on this whole mind-control Abstergo Knights conspiracy theory, but you're clearly in some sort of serious shit-uation."
He had to laugh at the unexpected wordplay. "Yeah, that's a nice concise way of putting it."
"Nice and concise," she chirped, sing-song. Then she yawned. "Before I go to bed, I wanna be sure of a couple things. You're not in any legal trouble? No police are gonna show up and interrogate me about you?"
"No, the only organization that's after me is Abstergo, and they prefer to do things extralegally."
"Are you living on the streets, or do you have a place you're staying?"
"There's an Assassin safehouse nearby." It might not be "safe" for long, though.
"Assassin safehouse. Sure... Okay, I'm gonna hit the hay. You look like you could use some rest too." Alexis stood and motioned him to follow.
He wasn't physically tired, but emotionally drained. "All right, but, uh, don't be alarmed if I'm not here when you wake up. Like I said, I got stuff to do."
"Be careful out there, buddy. You'll drop by here again, right? Or would a repeat visit jeopardize your secret mission too much?"
He briefly weighed it in his mind. "I don't see why not. Maybe tomorrow night I can find some way to convince you of my crazy story," he smiled.
The assassin slept on the floor, so that he wouldn't get too comfortable. He didn't want to risk sleeping into the day. He awoke around three in the morning and slipped quietly away.
Back at the sanctuary, Rebecca was keeping watch while Lucy and Shaun slept. "What were you doing out there so long?"
Desmond hid the bandaged hand in his pocket. "Stargazing," he lied.