AN: Just a quick note to say that the ACII timeline has been changed a bit. For the sake of this story, after Ezio's father and brothers are killed, he heads straight to Monteriggioni. I wanted Gianni to be there when he kills Alberti (which will happen in a few chapters). :)

Enjoy!


The sound of swords clanking and men grunting filled her ears as she watched the training pit below. She still didn't know what exactly Mario had up his sleeve. Sitting on the roof of Villa Auditore with the hood of her robe pulled over to cover her face was not her idea of training Ezio. But she decided to play along, curious as to Mario's plan for his nephew.

Truthfully, she could think of better things to do rather than watching this nonsense. Gianni had always thought of fighting as an art form and one of the few things she actually prided herself in. There was a sort of gracefulness to it whenever each action was executed properly. Like a beautiful dance...if a dance included swordplay and punches. However, it was obvious that Ezio had never been taught how to properly fight. As the training session ended, all she could do was shake her head at the beating Mario's poor nephew had just taken.

She climbed down the back of the villa, then slipped into Mario's study where the man sat at his desk waiting for her. But before she even had the chance to bring up Ezio's session, Mario interrupted her with a question.

"How's Maria?"

Since Gianni had gotten back to Monteriggioni, Mario had tasked her with taking Ezio's mother all of her meals. The bereaved woman never left her room, and Gianni had to carry the plates of food across the villa from the kitchen downstairs to the corner room upstairs.

"The same," Gianni replied with a slight frown. "She's still not eating, only picking at her food."

"Have you talked to her?"

"About what? She's still hasn't said a word. She just sits there, sitting on the edge of her bed and clutching these feathers in her hands."

"Just keep doing what you're doing. I know Maria appreciates it," Mario said gratefully, then motioned for her to take a seat across the desk from him before changing the subject. "So what did you think about Ezio?"

"I think his session today speaks for itself," she said casually.

"Yes, but I want to know what you think."

Gianni let out a long sigh and leaned forward in her chair so that her arms were resting on the desk. "The rest of us have made the sacrifices necessary to earn the robes we wear. Ezio has done nothing." Her eyes trailed over her left hand, her ring finger branded because Mario had prevented her from having it amputated. "He's too impulsive and hot-headed, he fights with anger instead of using it, and he'd rather give orders than listen to them."

"I agree that Ezio has much to learn, but he comes from a long line of assassins. He has the skills. He just needs to learn how to use them." He cleared his throat before continuing. "Keep in mind that he's still shaken by what happened to his father and brothers. His anger is what's giving him the need to fight."

"He didn't look too upset when he thought I was sent to the room to warm his bed," she mumbled.

Mario gave her a sly smile. "I'm afraid that all Auditore men tend to lose their senses when they are in the presence of a beautiful woman."

Gianni rolled her eyes at him. "If you're trying to get me to ease up on Ezio by offering compliments, it's not going to work."

"Just give him time, Gianni. He only just found out about his assassin blood, and it was his first training session. He can only improve from here, right?"

"I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for your sake." She drummed her fingers on the desk. "So when will I actually start training him?"

"In time," Mario answered cryptically. "For now, you just continue as you've been doing. If my nephew's anything like my brother...anything like me, he'll come around soon enough."

Gianni nodded, then made the move to stand, but Mario stopped her.

"There's something else I need to talk to you about. Ezio keeps insisting on moving to Spain with Maria and Claudia."

"Why? What's in Spain?"

"I don't know," Mario sighed tiredly as he rubbed his temples. "But I know the only reason he hasn't left yet is because Alberti, the man who betrayed my brother, is still in Firenze."

"And Ezio will not leave until he kills Alberti," she concluded.

Her respect for Ezio was raised just the tiniest notch. She knew all too well that thirst for revenge. Only she was still waiting for hers while Ezio practically had his quarry right at his fingertips.

"I believe it is Ezio's destiny to remain here in Italy," Mario continued. "I'm hoping his time at Monteriggioni will sway his mind and - "

Mario was interrupted by a loud knocking at his door. He shot her a quizzical look but she shrugged, quickly covering her face with the hood as Mario bid the person entrance. Marco, the leader of the mercenary group that resided in Monteriggioni, quickly walked in. He raised a hand to her in greeting before turning to Mario.

"One of my runners just informed me that Vieri and his men have left San Gimignano and are headed in this direction."

"That boy just doesn't know when to quit, does he?" Mario commented with a shake of his head. "Very well. Prepare your men. We will intercept them at the crossroads."

"Anything I can do?" Gianni asked but Mario shook his head..

"Not today, Gianni. Vieri's only here to taunt, just like he's done practically every day since Ezio arrived. Marco's men are just for show."

She left reluctantly but knew full well that if Mario needed her, he would send for her. She stopped by her room to change out of her robes, then made her way to the kitchen to prepare Maria's meal.

Maybe today would be the day the woman would finally eat.