Random Bit from the Same Universe as Breaking Your Fast
, Entirely from Haytham's point of view.
Desmond is born with a caul over his head. Desmond is his great-great-great-great-great-great-grea
t-grandson and the second birth in his line he managed to witness. It is a messy business as his mother, who is being fretted over by a spirit both too old and too young, returns from what was supposed to be a simple reconnaissance mission and goes into premature labor. Haytham doesn't usually pay mind to the activities of the Assassins around him or the Templars curiosity occasionally drives him to seek out. It bothers him, sometimes, how his bloodline has been so utterly subsumed into the Assassins, but... he also has had time to think in the intervening centuries.
He had never been able to make Connor, make Ratonhnhaké:ton
see reason, and in the end died for it. Anger had been his first response; an impotent rage that drove him to follow after his son. To witness the failures that followed the boy, how his hopes never truly succeeded, and feel some sort of dark satisfaction. He waited for Ratonhnhaké:ton to fall into despair, thought that might give him the fulfillment enough to pass on, but somehow it didn't happen.
His son married. His son loved. His son was, if not happy,
content. He had a daughter who could see through eagle eyes and Haytham felt his anger cool to old, bitter ashes as shame trickled in. It was not for his choices, he did not regret joining the Templars and still believed their cause was the right
one, but the way he'd gone about things with Ratonhnhaké:ton had been... poor.
Ratonhnhaké:ton had been, by all civilized standards, still a child. A child that had been forced to raise himself as his father was absent and his mother dead. He had his tribe still, this was true, but they could not make up for the loss of a constant, parental presence. So easy, then, for Achilles to fill the spot that should have belonged to Haytham.
And Haytham had let him, in hindsight. Blinded by his own human hubris Haytham dismissed his sons concerns, his once-thought petty drives, and considered killing the young Assassin as one might consider if they should have eggs with their porridge it had become so routine. Never once had he thought this is my blood
and tried to learn about Ratonhnhaké:ton.
So it shouldn't have been a surprise that the quiet, unassuming yet intimidating boy
had no qualms betraying, fighting, and killing
the father that couldn't be bothered to use his own, true name.
If Haytham had bothered to truly listen, to question Charles instead of trying to get Ratonhnhaké:ton to question himself, maybe they needn't have fought. Maybe neither Assassin nor Templar would have had to die. But he didn't, and so he did, and his son lived long and well and his descendants by choice or circumstance fell back into the welcoming arms of Haytham's strengthened enemy.
Thus, time flows on, until Desmond is born in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Eighty-Seven with a caul over his head, pink and bloody and not breathing. And Haytham is terrified.
“No, no, no, no... bastards. Don't let them win, Will!” Desmond's mother moans, her attending spirit praying
of all things, and its then that Haytham notices she's wounded. She's been shot, and the shock of it must have been what triggered her labor. Who shots at pregnant women?
“Hello, little brother.” The other spirit says, face concealed by an gray hood as he leans to look into the nurses arms, careful not to touch any living. “You must breathe. Your mother wants to meet you, you must
breathe. I want to meet you.”
Miracle of miracles the nurse does something with a pink plastic bulb, it cannot
be comfortable, and fluid spills from Desmond's suddenly screaming mouth. The Assassin spirit beams
and turns to Haytham. His eyes are still concealed, but his joy radiates.
“Hello.” He says, the open happiness at odds with the shadow of his hood. “I'm Kadar.”
Haytham isn't sure how to react to that. Most spirits do not linger. Those that do have reasons; usually dark ones. Kadar doesn't seem to be holding any sort of grudge, though, and it's confusing. He is obviously an Assassin. Haytham is a Templar. He's had more than one scuffle with other spirits over it, and he usually but not always
comes out on top.
Then again, Haytham is not obviously
a Templar, and when Kadar
was alive they wore considerably more armor. So courtesy rears its head, jabbing at his sense of decorum when the waiting pause lingers just a little too long, and he introduces himself. Fully. It would be the height of stupidity to conceal his leanings from a spirit so old.
Instead of a scowl and insult Kadar somehow smiles more
, “Altaïr married a Templar!”---
Desmond is watching Haytham watch him. The Templar is certain of it, now, despite the seeming impossibility. Desmond is very much alive, but as a test of final proof Haytham pulls out a pocket watch that hasn't worked since a hidden blade found his own throat and dangles it over the infant. Desmond's eyes light up at the golden timepiece the enameled cross blazed upon it, and he squeals as he reaches for the glittering object only he can see.
“What is it now?” Desmond's mother sighs and puts down the report was reading. Haytham quickly stows the watch and steps back as the woman approaches Desmond's blanket, an annoyed from on her classically beautiful face. He isn't above admitting that had he been alive or she dead he would have been tempted.
The woman kneels with care as she hasn't fully recovered from the shot that only narrowly missed her spine, narrowly missed Desmond
and picks up her child. She cradles his head in one hand and checks his nappy with the other, frowning further at finding it dry. The action makes the shame that Haytham has never quiet managed to exorcise sit up and take notice. Desmond's blanket is plush and soft and he spends most of his time asleep, eating, or trying and failing to roll onto his belly. Most of those activities he is left to accomplish alone.
“Mother has to work. So be a good boy for momma, okay? Good assassins are quiet assassins.” The woman says, voice a mix of irritation and overly sweetness used with children and drunk men. She puts Desmond back down and nudges a half-drunk bottle that rolled away back into his range and goes back to her desk.
Haytham looks down at Desmond, who is straining his neck muscles searching for a mother who to all his infantile logic has just ceased to exist, out of eye line as she is. The little face scrunches up, and that is the expression that reminds him most of his own son. The shame burns brighter and Haytham steps into Desmond's view. His grandson sniffles, reaches, and Haytham crouches to offer a single finger while turning his head to look at the dark haired, dark eyed woman once again buried in her work. She's frustrated, Haytham knows, that she can't go back on missions. The stress from the bullet wounds and the early labor have left their mark, and the post-partum fever that nearly killed her have left all the medical personnel worried. It will be another two months, maybe three, before she's even considered for field missions again.
And Haytham knows, despite how illogical it is, that the woman blames Desmond. She doesn't want to, but she does, and its reflected in every interaction she has with her son. It's a twisted reflection of himself in her, and Haytham hates it and looks away.
He looks at the impossibility he doesn't understand, and finds himself loving anyway. Desmond's tiny hand tries to grasp at his finger, and there is something
there when it swipes through the area, something like static on a dry day that makes Desmond gasp, then giggle. He starts swiping the space in earnest.
“I'm here.” Haytham murmurers. “I'm right here, son.”
Months later, Haytham is filled to bursting and can't stop himself from accosting the first, second, and third spirits he can find. “Desmond said his first word!” He grins, all but bouncing as a proper English woman with a coat and cane wanders into the Farm at Kadar's side. “He said my name! Well, he said hay
but I know what he meant!”
Kadar cheers with him, because Kadar loves all the descendants and travels between brotherhood bases keeping an eye on them, but the woman he's with stills and her eyes widen despite the effort she's putting into maintaining composure. Her voice comes out strangled with fighting hope and fear, “Someone can see you?”
Oh. Haytham hadn't, what with the Farm so intentionally isolated and the local spirits distrustful at best
and hostile at worst
, hadn't considered what it would mean to others to have a living person acknowledge them. Talk to them.
Miss Evie Frye takes off the next day and Haytham knows, down to his moldering bones, that she'll be back. With company.---
“He's.” Desmond pants during his cool down run, Haytham keeping stride at his side. “A. Jerk. I. Hate. Him.”
“He's your father.” Haytham points out, but doesn't allow any judgment into his tone. Desmond is seven and seven year old children are highly impressionable. As much as Haytham personally disapproves of the Assassins as a whole and certain Assassins in particular, he isn't trying to manipulate his grandson into turning his back on his blood. Honestly, even if he didn't think the Fryes and their friends would find some way to gut the Templar in their midst for it, he needs Desmond to think
more than anything. To see the evidence and decide for himself.
Even Miss Frye had to admit that the way the Brotherhood, and especially this little enclave of it, was run wasn't right
. It was more cult than community.
“It's. My. Birthday.” Desmond continues, taking advantage of the trees the path circles around to slow and take a few deeper breaths of air. “I. Just wanted. To see a. Movie.”
“He's concerned about you.”
“He just didn't. Want to leave. His precious paperwork.” Desmond argued, stopping entirely to wipe at his eyes. His mother had promised him a cake, but something had come up on her mission and she hadn't made it home. Just like last year. She was still out there, and her husband was locked in his office at the main compound coordinating teams. Haytham tried not to pry. It made it harder not to take sides. He was here for Desmond, and only Desmond.
“BWAWK!” The ghost of thanksgiving dinners past charged out of the foliage, and Haytham cursed as the beast attempted to steal his hat. The hooded turkey crowed and flapped it's wings, narrowly escaping Haytham's attempts to ring it's fowl neck, and leap from branch to branch in evil glee.
“That thing is a demon!” Haytham hissed, putting his clothes back in order and repairing a rip in his sleeve with a glare. “I could swear my son sends it solely to torment me... Desmond?”
His grandson was being too quiet. Haytham turned about to spot the boy crouched in the shadow of a tree, hands pressed to his mouth as his shoulders shook. Despite lacking a functioning heart, Haytham blushed.
“It is not funny! That creature
is an abomination.”
“O-of course, Haytham, w-whatever you say.” Desmond stuttered, face twitching as he attempted to maintain a solemn decorum. Haytham huffed and turned back to the path, walking swiftly and listening for the short, quick steps signifying his grandson following. He adjusted his hat and allowed himself a small, unseen smile. He still hated the goddamn turkey. Why it lingered on when Ratonhnhaké:ton did not... well. Desmond was smiling again.---
Ezio Auditore is an anomaly, and other than Desmond himself Haytham doesn't like anomalies. The fact that he is one of the greatest Mentors the Brotherhood ever had is just the ill tasting cherry on top. The man appears every few decades, maybe two or three times a century with a woman (or man) in tow and the same question: Has Desmond been born yet?
He and his entourage have a shimmer of gold
around them, appearing from nowhere at all and with a drunken little list, and Haytham is grateful that Desmond is off with Kadar practicing his blade work because the instructors he has been given are abysmal at traditional techniques. The hidden blade is more of a family heirloom and last ditch weapon these days rather than the core of their training. Most can't even do a simple air assassination despite the initiation still requiring a Leap of Faith.
“Ah, Haytham, my friend! Has Desmond been born yet?” Ezio is always friendly. Even to Haytham. Maybe especially to Haytham. For a moment the Templar Grandmaster wonders if Ezio met Ratonhnhaké:ton on the other side, and what might have been said between them. Instead of answering, Haytham shakes his head.
“Ah, I see. No matter. Come, my darling, come!” The woman on his arm giggles, and together they spin into nothingness. A young woman walks through them as they vanish, shuddering and muttering about the heating needing adjustment.
Haytham waits until his own Vision, so rarely used in death, confirms that all signs of the Mentor are gone. He doesn't know what Ezio wants with Desmond, or how the man knew Desmond would be Desmond
, and he doesn't care.
Because he won't let his grandson be forced into some destiny he doesn't want. He won't let gods or dead men decide for him. Assassin's are supposed
to be about Choice, right?
He'll make sure Desmond knows he has one.---
Desmond's lip is red and swollen and hastily stitched. His eyes are red and swollen as well, though from crying rather than a still healing wound. Haytham doesn't ask, are you sure about this
or what will the others think
. He's not sure how he feels as he paces at his grandson's side, sneaking from shadow to shadow along the ground, avoiding the rooftops that Assassins are trained to consider first and foremost, gathering the bag of necessities from where Desmond stashed it months ago. He's happy that Desmond is leaving the influence of the, living at least, Assassins. He's not so happy that its his own father that acts as the catalyst for it. He's definitely displeased that a punishment for having the gall to question
, to think
, was disguised as a sparring match to showcase the skills of the Mentor's son.
Desmond had only started true Assassin training two years ago, a hodgepodge of lessons on stealth intermixed with the usual survival training and general education, but he had unquestionable talent
And maybe an unfair advantage, with a small army of spirits offering advice and cheering him on, scouting unseen and reporting who is doing what where.
Or maybe it was a testament to the erosion of standards in the Brotherhood itself, a lasting legacy of Haytham's own work despite Ratonhnhaké:ton's efforts. No matter. Desmond, novice that he is, quietly slips past the night watch just another gray shadow in the dark. The present day Assassins aren't so far gone that they can't track, though, and by morning the woods will be crawling with search parties.
Desmond teeters in place, and for a heart stopping moment Haytham thinks Desmond is going to turn around. It wouldn't be unthinkable. The Farm is all Desmond has known, outside of stories told by old ghosts, and most of what he was taught of the outside world was that it was a place that wanted to murder him. The Farm is familiar.
Freedom, on the other hand... Desmond takes a running jump and scrambles into a tree, proving himself more an Assassin than anyone else on the Farm. The Farm is surrounded by old growth, trees strong enough to take his weight and spaced close enough to allow for travel. It's genius, to avoid trackers, and Haytham is forced to look up and recognize the son he ignored in the grandson he's raised.