Am I Dreaming?
Awakening Inside a Dream
Altair was sitting calmly in a corner of a room. There were several people in here with him, but he had dismissed them as other members of the brotherhood when he saw their bright blue glow in his eagle vision. He was reflecting on his past, on the mistakes he had made and on ways to improve the brotherhood which he now led.
Malik had come to him the night before, and they had continued their discussion long into the evening hours. Altair had expected to see the other man when he had awoken, but this was not the case. Altair inwardly grumbled at the effort he would need to go through to find his way back to Malik, but as per usual, he never let even a hint of his emotions cross his face.
Altair knew there was something he needed to remember. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but something was missing. He was missing something. Did Malik tell him something important that he had lost to the realm of sleep? Had he become so distracted that he could no longer retain knowledge of the simple things?
Altair brought a hand to his forehead as he cursed quietly in his native tongue; knowing that he needed to remember what he had lost. It was no trivial task he was forgetting, but knowledge of vital proportions. This was something he needed to remember if he wanted to live. Altair carefully ran a hand down his face, being sure not to accidently trigger the hidden blade on his wrist.
Something wasn't right. Altair paused in his movements, feeling something incredibly wrong. Something about his hand and his blade was just…wrong. He was lacking, or maybe too full, of something. He fought to recall just what was wrong. His hand was wrong.
Slowly, carefully, he pulled his hand away from his face. All five of his fingers were –
Ezio woke with a gasp. "Merda," he muttered. The apple was playing cruel tricks with his mind. He was no ancient assassin, long dead to the brotherhood. He was not a true hero; he was not Altair Ibn La'Ahad. He was not the founder of the current brotherhood, the one to redefine the way of the assassins.
"Why the hell did I think that?" Ezio groaned as he realized just how messed up his mind had become. He was slowly bending under the pressure, coming far too close to his breaking point. He agitatedly twisted his hand, playing the simple game of catch and release with his hidden blade. If he had not noticed as Altair that he was supposed to only have 4 fingers when he in truth had all 5, he might never have awoken properly.
Ezio shivered violently as the thought washed over him. This had happened before, ever since he first touched the damned leftovers of the lost civilization. The apple had tried to show him information, but all it did was drag his mind to another place. He knew this would continue to happen, and the thought almost terrified him. He knew he always woke eventually, but every moment before then he was completely Altair. He thought like Altair, he saw like Altair, hell, he once even fought like Altair.
He never knew he was dreaming until he woke. Once he woke, he knew exactly who he was. He was Ezio Auditore da Firenze, head of the brotherhood in Rome, friend of Leonardo and sister to Claudia. He was the nephew of the late Mario, and Mentor to all of the assassins under him.
Slowly Ezio broke the meditative position he had taken as Altair, giving his surroundings a closer look. As Altair, he had brushed off the oddity of where he was once he saw the blue of allies beside him. He wondered how, as Altair, he could have dismissed the oddity of having 2 women Assassin with him. Perhaps he had only looked at them with eagle vision?
Ezio wondered exactly who they were, not recognizing them, before remembering that he was to have foreign Assassins with him. He silently stood up, carefully avoiding drawing their attention. They were hard at work with their respective tasks, each working vigorously at their workstations. Their odd clothing and manner was proof that the brotherhood truly was so diverse, and he was proud to be a part of this great organization.
Ezio looked around, realizing that he had not recognized where he was as Altair. He blinked in shock, momentarily surprised as he realized just where he was. How had Altair not noticed the giant statue of himself staring down at him? He wasn't quite sure why he was back in the ruined Monteriggionni, but he at least recognized where he was, unlike Altair. Ezio bit back the wave of sadness that tried to overwhelm him, the feeling of crushing depression as he remembered just what had happened to his dear home.
Walls had been crushed, his uncle had been murdered. There was no peace for him here, not even in the bowels of his heart's home. Moving softly so as to avoid drawing attention, he began to make his way out from the room. Luck was not on his side, as one of the foreign assassins had looked up at just that moment, sadness making his footsteps heavy.
She began to speak to him, he soft voice gentle but incomprehensible. Her tone indicated that she was worried, but that nothing of vital importance was wrong. "I apologize, Madame, but I do not speak your language. Perhaps another of the brothers that brought you hear can translate your beautiful words?"
She stared at him without response, a look of sadness in her eyes. Ezio bit back a curse at his folly; of course she would have spoken in Italian if she could understand it. Why was he left without someone who could speak properly? Was it truly the best idea to have people who could not understand each other, work without a translator for help?
Perhaps one of the others would know a common language between them. His hopes were dashed fairly quickly as the only other male spoke up, drawling words in the same foreign language. As he listened, he realized that he did, in fact, know some of the words. They were speaking in English, a foreign language he had not pursued or had much interest in. "Many pardons," he said with a heavy accent. "But you no speaking Italian?"
The third finally looked up from her work, from where she had been utterly absorbed in whatever she saw at her table. She laughed slightly as she spoke with the other two who now were looking more worried than before, and Ezio strained to interpret the few words he knew. "Another…bleed…really?"
The few words he had managed to catch made little sense to him, but clearly it meant something to the other two. The man was rolling his eyes and waving his hands, replying with something Ezio could tell was scathing and sarcastic. "No, just…fun… of course." Ezio didn't bother to bite back a smirk as the other two rolled their eyes. This foreign assassin looked less like one of his brothers and more like Leonardo, and he wondered just how well they would get along.
He considered voicing his thought, already opening his mouth to speak before he realized that his words would have been useless. He shook his head instead, growling softly. He wondered if he should worry about being the only one who could speak properly in the room, but they were obviously all here for a reason. With a sigh, he decided to try and speak anyways, as he truly thought this odd assassin would like his oldest friend. He felt guilty sometimes for what his life had done to Leonardo, and introducing him to someone he might be able to share something with would help soothe his soul slightly.
"You…" he said, trying to remember the foreign words. The three had stopped their discussion and turned to him as he spoke. Directing his words at his intended target, he carefully continued speaking. "Have you meet Leonardo? Would enjoy, much like. Maybe friends? Shit, how do you speak? Honestly, how hard is it to say I think that you might make a good friend for a person who deserves so much more than what he has been delivered?!"
Ezio angrily waved his hands in the air, trying to communicate his frustration. The man he had attempted to speak to was now staring at him, both worry and delight on his face. Ezio once again strained to understand the words clearly directed at him despite his lack of understanding. "Truly?" There was wonder in that voice. "Hah…more sense… Desmond."
Desmond. He knew that name. The goddess had spoken to him, giving him a message for this Desmond. The reason for the presence of the foreign assassins was much clearer now. If they were his link to this Desmond, he needed to their help to find this Desmond. "Dez-mund?" he asked carefully, knowing that his accent made a mockery of the name. "You know…this Dezmund?"
He didn't understand why the faces looking at him suddenly paled, worry crossing over each feature even more strongly than before as they all struggled to hide it. He momentarily snorted at them for their attempt; he was a master assassin, trained to notice the intricacies of the human body and mind. Of course he could see how worried they were, no matter how hard they tried to hide it. Why were they so distressed? This Desmond was obviously the reason why they were here together, and he wanted them to speak so he could find his answers.
It had been years since the goddess had spoken, and he had never stopped wondering just who she had been speaking to. Sometimes he would avoid thinking about it for days, maybe even weeks or months, but his mind constantly returned to think upon the odd message and mysterious Desmond who was apparently listening through him.
"Shit," he caught one of them saying. He inwardly smirked when he remembered all the different curse words that he had memorized first. He may no longer be the immature boy he once was, but there was no denying the little pleasures in life. "How long?" It was the distracted one who was speaking, the one who had been so intently focused on her work.
The other girl stepped towards him, as carefully as you must approach a sleeping tiger. "Desmond," she said. Her eyes locked with his, and she was clearly trying to communicate something. No matter how hard he tried, though, he couldn't understand another word she said.
The sarcastic man broke in, sounding slightly less worried than the other to. Ezio turned to him in slight relief, glad that someone else wasn't panicking as it seemed the other two clearly were. "Desmond…really? Wake up."
Wake up? Was he dreaming? Suddenly Ezio felt cold fear spread through him as he started to realize what those words might mean. He had thought he had woken up from being Altair. He was awake from where he had been in a waking sleep. He had been dreaming so deeply that he hadn't known something was wrong until he saw his hand, which had woken him abruptly. Wake up…was he still asleep?
Ezio looked around, trying to see his surroundings more closely. As Altair, he had rationalized away anything that hadn't fit what he knew. He had seen the three assassins simply as three brothers, not as two foreign women and an interesting but incomprehensible man. He had dismissed the odd stone walls and statues, not even noticing them enough to see his own face.
Was he doing the same thing? Ezio would have immediately dismissed this as a folly of an overactive imagination if something hadn't felt so wrong. Wrong like his hand had when he had felt the presence of five fingers. He had known something was wrong, known it from the beginning, yet he hadn't been able to understand what until he had seen direct proof that it was wrong.
Slowly he swallowed, trying to look at the room a second time, trying to see if anything was truly wrong. He was in Monteriggionni from after the attack, the room crumbling around him. He almost continued on with his new inventory before he realized that something was indeed wrong. Why was he at Monteriggionni? He couldn't remember returning here. "Why am I here?" he tried to ask the three, but they couldn't understand him.
He couldn't understand them. He was speaking a language foreign to them. He had spoken as Altair, hadn't he? He had said words in Arabic, cursing and muttering under his breath. He had thought nothing wrong with his words then, and Ezio saw nothing wrong with his words now.
He wondered if he were a dream. If he was a dream like Altair, it would explain why he was with others who couldn't speak. It would explain why he was in Monteriggionni with the walls in disrepair. It would explain the odd workstations, the ones he could see but didn't look quite right.
He looked at where they had been working, ignoring the scared looks the others were throwing him, only the man not looking like he was about to freak the hell out. He carefully stepped closer to the man, trying to get a better look at what he was working on. The blurry table started to come into clear focus, holding more than just the piles of papers he had thought he'd seen. The oddly stacked documents were not, in fact, documents at all, but a strange box. Ignoring the man's now annoyed look, he slowly reached out his hand, afraid to touch the thing and make it change again.
His hand was grabbed several inches away from the odd box, and he instinctively turned to face the man who had grabbed him. "Desmond," he said flatly.
No. Ezio shook his head. "Ezio," he said, protesting something he knew was wrong, something that didn't quite fit anymore, like a hand with two fingers. "I am Ezio."
The man hesitated, slowly shaking his head. "No, Ezio." Ezio drew back his hand as the man opened his mouth again, ready to speak. The girls in the background were shouting something at the man, but Ezio couldn't listen to them right now.
He needed to interrupt the man, to say it instead of him so that the other could shake his head in confusion, didn't want to understand what he meant. Slowly he pointed his own hand at himself, afraid to speak the words he knew were true. "Not…Ezio?" He hesitated, almost stumbling over his own name. He was Ezio, he could remember every moment of his life, everything that made him who he was, but everything else was screaming that he wasn't. "I… dreaming? Not real? Not Ezio?"
The man slowly nodded, and Ezio felt his heart freeze. Except he wasn't actually Ezio, so it wasn't his heart freezing but somebody else's, somebody who thought he was Ezio. He staggered back a step, wondering why he hadn't woken up as this person. When he looked up again, the man had turned to his box and was looking intently at the screen before he focused back on Ezio, except he didn't because he wasn't Ezio.
The man spoke, reading something from off the box. "You aren't Ezio." He was trying to speak Italian, words horribly accented as he read words that Ezio could now see on the screen. Ezio but not Ezio didn't want to think about what the man had just said and instead moved hesitantly closer, trying to see what he was reading. There were two boxes inside the box, each filled with words. One was filled with the words the man had tried to say, the other filled with gibberish.
As he watched, he saw both sets of words disappear. Before he could pull back, new words appeared in the left box. He watched in fascination as the assassins hands flew across a table of letters, the picture in front of them changing as the he moved. Something happened, and suddenly Italian words were filling the second box of the screen. Ezio hesitantly read them, afraid of what they would say but unable to avoid them.
"You are Desmond. You're dreaming, Ezio, dreaming a dream that you aren't who you are. You are Desmond, and you belong with us in the 21st century." When Ezio said nothing for a long moment, the words slowly working into his brain, the man beside him made a noise of impatience.
"I'm…Desmond? I'm the specter that has haunted my mind for years? I'm supposed to be the one I delivered a message to? Was this how?" The man made an annoyed sound when Ezio spoke in Italian, clearly annoyed at not understanding. The words on the screen cleared again, and the man grabbed both of Ezio's hands. Ezio let him, unsure of what he was trying to do but knowing that this man was giving him answers he clearly needed. The man forced his fingers onto the letters, carefully pressing several of them with Ezio's own fingers.
Ezio watched as his name appeared on the screen in the box as his fingers pushed the letters that made up his name. He understood what this man was trying to show him. Carefully he pushed on the letters, struggling when he tried to make the words separate. The man made an annoyed noise and pushed the empty tile, forcing the words apart. Ezio slowly typed out his message, wondering what to do when he was done.
As he drew back, the man moved his other hand and suddenly words appeared on the other side of the square. Ezio supposed they echoed what he had written, only in the man's own language. "Ezio I am not, but Desmond? I was Altair, but now I'm Ezio. If I wake again, will I be Desmond?"
The man nodded to him when he had finished reading what he had said, opening his mouth to talk before growling and turning back to the strange contraption, furiously hitting the tiles. When the words appeared on of the boxes again, Ezio watched carefully. As soon as they appeared in the other box, he immediately read the words. "This must be confusing your poor mind. Yes, you're Desmond, and when you finally regain your senses, you'll remember that. Now hurry up and type the questions you're begging to ask, or just wake up so I won't need to explain how life works to you again. I didn't realize you really were such a child, needing to be shown how everything works."
Ezio pulled back, closing his eyes as he finally tried to internalize this new knowledge. He wasn't Ezio but Desmond, not the Prophet but the one for whom the message was intended. He wasn't an Italian, but apparently an Englishman; Ezio frowned more at this than anything else he had learned.
So if he wasn't Ezio but this Desmond, what was he supposed to do? He was interrupted from his thoughts as the man dragged his hand back to the letters, the boxes in the box empty once more. Carefully he pressed the letters once again, going far too slowly if the agitated grumbling of the man was anything to go by. "How do I wake up?"
The man paused and gave him an odd look once he had read his version of Ezio's words. He sighed a little sadly before …typing?... up his own message. "We don't know. Normally you only lose yourself for a little while and see things that aren't there. You seem to be seeing things as they truly are, but as a different person instead. This is new. You'll probably wake up on your own when you're good and ready, you lazy bum." The next words had more space between them, appearing under the others. "What were you trying to tell me about Leonardo earlier, anyways?
Ezio – he really couldn't think of himself as Desmond, although he acknowledged that this was who the body belonged to – decided to focus on the latter half of the man's message. If here was nothing he could do at the moment, he may as well converse with this fellow. "I had suggested you become friends with Leonardo, but I suppose he isn't here now. However, you are here instead, and I can remember none of your names."
After the man read his words, he smacked himself in the forehead before grumbling lowly. Ezio was starting to wonder if he actually expected Ezio to understand him. He guessed not when the man spoke back up, a hand pressed to his chest. "Shaun Hastings." Was that his name? The man – Shaun – continued on, pointing to the others. "Lucy Stillman," he said when he pointed to the blonde woman who was clearly broadcasting worry from the other side of the room. "Rebecca," was the name he called when he pointed to the once again distracted girl.
"Shaun," Ezio tried to say. The word fell from his lips, and he had the odd feeling that he had said the name before although he had never once heard it in his life. How often had these lips of Desmond's said that name? How much of what he felt was being filtered through Desmond's mind? Did his sense of camaraderie with this man only exist because it was there when he was Desmond?
If he was really Desmond, why wasn't he waking up? Ezio had woken quickly from being Altair, recognizing within minutes that something was wrong with his body. He looked at his left hand once again, carefully running his right hand over the finger he had thought was missing. That was how he had awoken; as Altair, he was incredibly in-tune with his body. When he had seen the amputated finger fully restored, it had shocked his mind into waking up – or at least, rising one layer from his deep sleep.
It had been a truly incredible shock, and Ezio remembered the moment of incredible disbelief he had felt at the sight. Yet had he not also been shocked when confronted with the fact that he might be dreaming? No, he had not been anywhere near as shocked. He had even offered the horrible conclusion that he was not truly himself. Ezio had been the one to state the idea that he was not truly here, that he was the product of a waking dream.
So why had he not awoken once he had known the truth? Ezio lowered his head as he realized that he still didn't acknowledge it as the truth. He was Ezio, a master assassin, not this…. Desmond. He had all 10 fingers, and even had his signature scar! Or, did he? Ezio carefully lifted his right hand, this time noticing that he was missing his second bracer, and carefully felt the right side of his lips. The scar was there, but he had apparently shaven somewhat recently. There was stubble beginning to grow beneath his searching fingers, but it was nowhere near the full growth he normally boasted.
Ezio paused as he realized that Altair had this exact scar as well, and if this situation was true, then this Desmond had a similar copy as well. Carefully, Ezio began to look for differences on this body, some defining fact that might tell him for sure that he was not at home. He had changed into the oddest pair of clothes, made of a material more fine and of an entirely different feel than his normal robes. Ezio noticed the looks he was garnering, but proceeded to ignore them as he reached behind his head for a hood.
With a silent sigh of relief, Ezio pulled the white material over his face. It was not as long as he was used to, and his face remained far more open than he wished to reveal, but it would suffice. He checked the bracer on his left hand and found it suitable, the design almost identical to the pair he had left behind. The bracers he had left behind in Monteriggionni, the place where he apparently currently resided. "My blades," he began before he remembered that none of the three could understand him. Shaun rolled his eyes and pointed him towards the translating device. Ezio quickly typed in the message, trying not to think too hard and letting his body do the moving for him. "My armor and blades," he tried again. "I left them behind here when I was forced to flee. Are they still here, or were they removed?"
Shaun leaned over him once Ezio leaned back, his brow creasing as he read his version of Ezio's words. He blinked, looked at the screen, and his eyes lit up. His hands flew across the keyboard. Within seconds, Ezio had his version to look at. "Of course! We haven't tried to make our way into your room, the place has fallen into a bit of disrepair when you left, but if you think they'd be there then it's worth a shot!" While Ezio was reading, Shaun had started babbling incomprehensibly to the other two…Lucia and Becca? He seemed to be arguing with them for several minutes, but eventually one of the two threw up her hands in exasperation and Shaun grinned. Ezio-but-not-really-Ezio watched in fascination as Shaun proceeded to pull him from the room, up into his uncle's room.
Ezio's breath caught in his throat as he looked at the state of the study. He had seen it broken before, but not so completely destroyed. He didn't want to be here anymore. He didn't give a damn if he was Altair, Ezio, or Desmond, but he didn't want to be here. He wanted to wake up from this terrible dream.
Desmond fell to his knees, trying not to heave as tears rolled down his face. Shaun was beside him, his hands fluttering about nervously. "Ezio?" the man asked cautiously and Desmond wanted to be sick. He shook his head, unable to tell the assassin otherwise as his breath caught and stuck in his throat. Desmond tried to pull himself under control, Shaun staying mercifully quiet beside him.
Well, quiet for a moment, anyways. When the man reached over and patted Desmond on the shoulder, he couldn't help but let loose a sarcastic remark. "Oh, this is brilliant. Don't take him without a translator, they said. He'll overreact when he sees outside, they said. Of course you're overreacting; you're Desmond, the tiny Assassin child we're dragging along."
Desmond huffed out a laugh as he forced his lungs to function normally. "'m not a child, Shaun." Desmond felt and saw the tension present in Shaun's body drain away as he responded in English. The hand on his shoulder was anchoring him to the present, reminding him of where he belonged, of who he was.
He wasn't Altair, the youngest Master Assassin in the history of assassins, past or present; friend of Malik. He wasn't Ezio, the Florentine man who began with revenge but ended up leading an order of freedom; friend of Leonardo. He was Desmond, the Assassin who had run away but come back when he was needed; maybe possibly friend of Shaun, and Rebecca and Lucy.
He was Desmond, and he was awake.
Upload date: June 19, 2014