FIVE: Finding Solace
A few more days passed and Alex had still not returned. Altair was beginning to find different ways to fill his time besides just watching TV. But the only show he seemed interested in was Loony Tunes and when it wasn't airing, he was either exercising with his weapons and armor on, or learning slang terms and more English from Dana.
After about a day he could speak it as if it was his first language. The girl also taught him more about common things in the modern era such as movies, video games, and music.
By the 6th day however, he had become so cooped up that he was determined to go outside.
"Please Dana," he practically pleaded which was something he never did, "Just for a short while. I won't even leave the roof."
Dana sighed and seeing as the assassin had been at this for a little under an hour, he probably wasn't going to stop till he got what he wanted. "Fine," she said pinching the bridge of her nose, "But you stay close." God she felt like Altair's fucking mother.
The assassin sighed happily and fallowed Dana to the door. She unlocked and unbolted the 5 locks that lined the door's frame before pulling it open. Altair stepped outside, taking in lung-full's of the fresh air.
The air had a strange twang to it, which the assassin figured it was the pollution Dana had told him about earlier in the week, but it still felt refreshing to be outside. Feeling the breeze kiss his exposed skin and the sun warm his body. He heard the girl shut the door, but had a feeling that she was still keeping an eye on him from the window.
Still, it didn't matter, he was outside and he loved it. Altair paced about, and then broke into a jog, looping around the roof a few times, never thinking that stretching his leg would feel so great. Soon, he let his feet dangle over the side of the building and watched the people below scurry like ants and listened to the new sounds. Cars honked, sirens wailed and choppers cut the air with their whirling blades.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the city, Alex was walking about a military base disguised as a coronal, looking to find another general that might have some knowledge about where Cross might have gone off to. After taking out Green, the weapons expert was next on his list.
Spotting his target up on a ramp, Alex strolled up behind him, checked to see if anyone was watching, and then looped his arms around the human's middle. Without a single uttered syllable, the virus took in his body as well as his thoughts and memories. Unfortunately, it was a fruitless consumption seeing as the guy only knew that Cross was working under orders much higher than himself.
Frustrated, Alex left the base and quickly scaled a building before dropping the general's form. He groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. It had been days with nothing but false leads, and it was beginning to tire him out. Sure the virus kept him up and going, but the nagging he got when his mind trailed to Altair was becoming almost unbearable. He didn't even know why it was bothering him as much as it was. Maybe it was the fact that the assassin wasn't even from this era. It must have been traumatic for Altair to see that everything around him was so different.
Still, even the fact it was nagging him this much was making the virus stir in a way he'd never felt before. Was it a warning? Was the virus picking up some kind of vibe that Alex did not understand yet?
He figured it was time he'd gone back to the safe house and check on his sister. Her texts showed that Altair hadn't become hostel at all. As a matter of fact, the two had become rather close since the girl had been showing the assassin the conveniences of the time. It didn't surprise him. Even though he didn't remember how Dana was before he became infected – if he had even noticed how she was – something about her told him that she was easy to get along with, despite her sailor's mouth.
Alex leapt from building to building, still pondering these things. As he reached the safe house, he could see the white blob nestled on the side of the structure. It was Altair.
He landed behind the assassin, but not close enough to where he'd draw attention to himself.
Altair could sense that someone was behind him, and the only person it could really be was Alex.
"So Dana finally let you out?" the shape shifter asked walking closer to the assassin. Altair only stood and turned to face Alex.
"She's a good person," he said simply, "You've been gone for quite a while"
"There's been a lot to do," Alex said cocking a brow, "You're an assassin, I'm sure you can relate."
Altair snorted, "I'm only 25 summers and I've killed more targets then most of the other assassins of the same age. But I lost count ages ago. It didn't seem relevant to keep track of them."
"Same here" Alex muttered. He felt the virus flinch in that funny way again.
Altair went back to sitting on the edge of the building, and he stayed quite despite wanting to ask the shape shifter so many questions about what had been so dangerous for him to venture out alone. But Alex seemed to read his mind as he sat down next to him.
"Look Assassin," he began, "I'm sorry you've had to stay locked up in the safe house for so long. I told Dana to keep you there because it's just so fucked out here." He looked at the assassin, who urged him on with a nod. "What you saw – killed the day you arrived here, it's called a Hunter. And they're nothing but just mutated beings that are programmed to kill anything that moves."
Alex formed one of his fingers into a blade and just stared at it with empty eyes, "I'm not human. I don't know if I'm something more, or something less."
"What is this plague you speak of? What started it?" Altair asked.
"Me," Alex said gaze moving from his hand up into the assassin's golden eyes. "Well, I don't remember doing it, but from what I've able to find out so far was that the man I used to be was this psychotic jackass who was killed by the military to threatening to release it this virus on New York. I guess when I was killed, I dropped the vile and it shattered. As I was dying, it must have gotten into me, turning me into this…this monster!" His voice rumbled with a growl at the last word. "And so," he continued, "I've been working my ASS off trying to destroy this thing before the fucking military turns New York into a pile of ashes."
To Altair, this seemed impossible. How could glass and metal structures burn town? and if they could, it would take forever!
Alex could see the confusion yet again on Altair's face. "By that I mean they'll drop this thing called an atom bomb in the middle of the city. An atom bomb is a special type of technology that has the capability to disintegrate stone, metal, everything!"
The shock on the assassin's face was nothing more than a widening of the eyes. To Alex, he might as well have gasped and gripped his chest. "So you're looking for retribution?" he asked.
"In a way I guess," Alex said slipping his hood and running a hand through his hair. It had gotten longer and was close to touching his shoulders, but he didn't care. His looks were the last thing on his mind. "I started this, now I got to finish it."
"I know how you feel," Altair said as the images from Salomon's Temple came flooding back. The Templers attacking Masyaf, watching as his assassin brethren were killed, and it was all because of him. "I've done things that have had dire reproductions. My fellow assassin, Malik, blames me for the death of his brother, as well as losing one of his arms. I promised myself I would try to be kinder to him." The assassin went on, telling the shape shifter about the incident that let to such distrust. He also informed Alex of the attended siege and how he was demoted to the rank of a novice and had to work his way back up.
"I was on my way to Acre when I saw a sudden flash of light before my eyes and then I felt weightless, but for only a moment. Then everything went dark." Altair held up his hand, leveling it out as if to illustrate the point. "And that's when I woke up here. I was in an ally way and the commotion in the street made me want to act."
Alex had forgotten what it was like to actually talk to someone, or rather have someone talk to him. It provided a welcome distraction from all the voice that ranted and raved inside his skull all the time. He felt...normal.
Of course he and Altair were no where near what one might call normal. He was a highly trained killer, and Alex was...well a mutant, a killer with enormous strength and power. In many ways they were very much alike. Weather Alex wanted to admit it or not, he liked Altair, even though he had not known the assassin very long. In that short amount of time he had proven that he was trusting, strong, and confident. But this 'like' wasn't a 'like' associated with just being friends. Could it be that Alex was beginning to have actual feelings for Altair? It was to soon to tell.
"Why did you have Dana keep me inside?" Altair asked suddenly
The question caught Alex a little off guard, but he answered anyway, "You're new to this era. I wanted you safe."
"Why? I can very well take care of myself, I'm not a woman!" the assassin's words stung a little.
"I know you can…" Alex said, "and you're a excellent fighter. But, there is still a lot you need to know."
"Then show me!" Altair said standing up, "I want to know."
Alex sighed, "Fine. It's only fair" He stood and gestured for the assassin to get onto his back again. After scooping up his legs, Alex made a break at the edge. He leapt off, spreading his arms out like a hawk and glided over to the next building.
Altair watched the ground below speed past as the shape shifter free ran from structure to structure and pointing out different locations that were a part of everyday live in the city. Alex made sure to stay in the clean areas of Manhattan witch by now were scarce. He landed on a roof and let the assassin down.
"See those crows?" he said pointing to a patch of sky that swarmed with the scavengers and was tinted red. "Those are areas you need to avoid if you go out on your own. Dana said you're more than welcome to stay at the safe house as long as you want. But there's no way out of this city. The military as all of the major exits blocked with the heaviest artillery they got. And if it stops me, it's gonna stop you too."
"So, I'm trapped?"
"We're trapped," Alex said moving his finger back and forth between himself and Altair. "I've been doing what I can. But there just so much I've let go to fucking hell." He growled and lowered his head, "Sometimes I wish I never got these stinking powers. I feel like a monster."
Altair put a hand on the shape shifter's shoulder, "You are NOT a monster." Alex suddenly looked up into the younger man's eyes and could tell that the statement was sincere. "How can you be?" Altair asked, his other hand going up to settle on Alex's other shoulder and he looked into his eyes, "you care about your sister right? And you saved my life. A 'monster' wouldn't do such self sacrificial things."
Alex had never been spoken to in such a kind way before. Then again he'd never done anything worth another's kindness. But Altair seemed able to see through some kind of line that many didn't bother to look for. As ruthless of a killer as he was, the assassin had an extraordinary ability to tell when a person was good under the surface. What was it that he was seeing that gave him that idea? And what surprised Alex the most about was that he was right. He cared about Dana, and he cared about Altair.
"You're right," he said shrugging off the assassin's hands. Even such brief and casual contact had sent static though his being. The virus churned in that funny way again. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was Alex caring about Altair that was making it act so strange.
Altair frowned at Alex's withdrawal. Had he done something wrong? Was touching him a little too much? If so, then why? In order to offer comfort to a fellow assassin some members of the brotherhood would go as far as hugging. Perhaps physical contact wasn't needed as much.
"Sorry," he said.
"It's not you," Alex replied looking rather comfortable. "I like you, and I don't say that to just anyone." Altair half smiled, the scared half of his lips perking upward.
"I've come to care about you a great deal as well," the assassin said. The shape shifter retuned the half smile. Maybe the feelings might be returned, but seeing Altair from a time where one could be killed for such feelings toward another of the same sex, probably not.
Something seemed to catch the assassin's eye, and Alex fallowed his line of sight. Altair had spotted a large group of tanks, at least 7 or 8 of the 20 ton war-machines. The shape shifter watched them for a minute, and then noticed them turn onto a street that wasn't in their normal rotation of watch. After about another block, they turned down the street the safe house was on. Oh shit! That's where they were headed!
Alex had to stop them! "Stay here Assassin," he said grapping Altair by the shoulders and forming claws; "I have to take out those tanks."
"Don't argue! This won't take long," without another word, Alex dove off the glass building, cutting across the air like an arrow from a bow. How could they have found the safe house?! It didn't matter now! All that mattered was that he eliminated them. He hopped over the next few roofs, charged up a jump, and then leapt high into the air. His arm formed into a blade, flipping his body a few times before slamming it down on the nearest tank. The earth green vehicle exploded in a flower of yellow, orange and black, Alex's dark form materializing out of the reaming flames. The soldiers that were following on foot, opened up in no time. Bullets showered the assault as the searing hot projectiles cut into Alex's regenerating flesh.
The shape shifter ignored them, leaping into the air again, and bringing his blade arm down on another tank. As he stood atop the massive wreckage, his eye caught the bead of a rocket launcher on his shoulder, and before he could react, a deafening explosion knocked him on into the ground and sliding his body so hard into the nearest building, that a spider web of cracks flared from the impact point. Every cell in his body lit up in white-hot pain and every little pinch of sound meshed together for a few seconds, but the virus quickly recovered.
Another bead appeared on his chest, and he brought his shield up to block it, but the hit never came. Alex finally peeked up over the tightly coiled shield to see the men filed along the roof's border fall one by one before any of them saw anything coming.
"Fuck!" Alex cursed, pushing himself up. Altair had fucking fallowed him, even after he was told to stay put! The assassin was stubborn as an ass on its period!
Alex steadily took out the tanks before going after the soldiers that were on foot. But before he could, a sliver rain fell upon them, each knife hitting it's target with deadly accuracy. After only moments the entire armada was dead.
Alex saw Altair perched atop one of the buildings, arms crossed and smirking as if saying 'I told you so.' The shape shifter was pissed, but couldn't help being thankful this encounter would have been a lot slower with out the assassin's aid. He couldn't be mad at Altair for doing what he was born to do.
With a sigh, Alex let out of the scene, quickly footing up the wall and joining Altair one roof over. Altair didn't look him in the face as if he knew he was about to get severely chewed out.
"Let's just go," Alex said turning to face away and kneeling a bit again. The assassin was confused. Was that it? No yelling, no insults. What gave? Still, it was better then getting yelled at again so the Arab only shrugged and took hold of Alex's neck. The shape shifter picked up Altair and leapt over buildings till the reached the safe house.
Alex sat the assassin on his feet again and the two went inside. Dana was sitting at the computer and was oblivious of the armada that was on it's way to kill her. Alex's stained leather told her that something had gone down, but she didn't ask. She didn't even want to know.
Altair wiped the sweat for his brow, suddenly exhausted from the self excursion. Alex went off to his room, closing the door. He lay on his bed, thinking about what had just occurred. He was so worried that Altair might have been shot or worse, captured for helping him. If the assassin was captured by Blackwatch, there was no telling what they would do to the assassin in order to get information out of him. And as strong willed as the Arabian was, he would die before he exposed the Mercers.
He was just so selfless. And Alex had to admit, he found that...attractive. The shape shifter himself wasn't much to look at, his eyes were lined with darkening circles from the lack of sleep, his hair was matted and skin pale from all the clothing he wore and habit of being active mostly at night.
Altair on the other hand, was quite the looker. Tan skin, smooth jaw line, and angled cheek bones. Not to mention his stunning neon yellow eyes that glowed like a hawk's. Deep down, Alex only hoped that he could keep his feelings bedded down long enough to smuggle Altair out of the city and get him to the Assassins Brotherhood - if they were still in existence. The assassin had said that he cared for Alex, but the New Yorker figured that it was in a friendly way and nothing more.
Meanwhile, Altair was sitting on the couch when Dana brought him some water. "Thank you," he said taking the glass and gulping down the liquid. It was ice cold and he drank it so fast that it gave him a slight head ache.
"Easy now," Dana said taking the empty glass from him, "no need to get a brain freeze."
Altair was too lost in his own head to even ask what a 'brain freeze' even was. Those questions still rang in his conscious like the annoying buzz of a fly. But something new joined those thoughts. Alex had admitted to liking him, and his energy color seemed to alter to a softer hue while Altar was looking at him through his Eagle Vision. Seeing as Alex never appeared to be the type of person to be in a romantic relationship with anyone, it was a confusing sight. He had only seen that color once before, and it was a young woman back in Masyaf who later confessed that she was in love with him.
Altair had been confused about these feeling when they first appeared back when Alex had snatch him out of the mid air, and held him close in a protective manner. And He had thought worrying about Alex all the time was a normal reaction when one cared deeply for someone. Of course the possibility of a romantic relationship with the shape shifter had crossed his mind, but it was quickly thrown out. His mind had flashed back to when he was a rising assassin in the ranks; two of the younger master had been caught fooling around with each other. He was young at the time and didn't really understand such a thing. Both of the masters had married and had children, but they later confessed to being in love with one another, and were executed.
Altair never, to the day, understood why the two men were killed just for loving. But it taught him that such feelings toward another man meant death.
Then again…a lot can change in 800 years. Maybe it wasn't as bad these days to love some one of the same gender.
"Hey Dana?" he asked and the younger Mercer looked at him from her computer, "could you teach me how to use your computer?"
"Uh…sure" she said some what surprised, gesturing for him to come over.