Desmond had been curled up in his nest when things began to change. He had been in Jerusalem for a year now and had become an accepted and established part of the Bureau there.
His nest was really the pile of pillows set aside for assassins to rest upon between travel and missions. There had been a few complaints at first when Desmond commandeered the area but those died down soon.
After all who could argue with being allowed to use what was formerly Desmond's room instead, with its real feather bed and a door that gave actual privacy. It had nothing to do with the fledgling's puppy eyes, or Malik's glaring silent threats of gruesome bodily harm for upsetting his practically adopted brother.
Either way Desmond loved his little nest of ever growing blankets and pillows. Malik would swear up and down the things were somehow breeding. Desmond felt safe there, and far less caged than he did in his former room. Less trapped, less like the walls were closing in and he was being suffocated, buried alive and crushed under the weight.
Desmond shook his head harshly, focusing on the picture he was working on and not his own dark thoughts. He shifted the scribes table on his lap and dipped his brush in the ink pot before diluting it slightly in water. He used the watered down ink to soften still drying lines and to add shading to the image. Giving it an almost life like quality.
He wiped the brush on a small rag and dipped the very top in the ink pot, adding thinner darker lines to bring out the eyes and detailed features of the face. He hardly noticed the messenger falcon that swooped in and deposited a small scroll in front of Malik.
Not until the shattering of an ink pot startled him, his brush slashing across the eyes of his image and leaving a gapeing maw in it's wake. Desmond spared a second to pour at his ruined image before jumping up when Malik began to curse violently.
He rushed up, unknowingly dropping his work so it fluttered to rest on the stone floor, the scribes table tipping over and spilling the rest of its contents on blankets and pillows, staining them with ink.
Desmond did not care, rushing over to Malik with worry written on his features, wringing his long fingered hands nervously. "Malik? Brother, what is wrong?"
Malik glared at the message on his desk angrily, Desmond had been doing exceptionally well this past year, but the fledgling was by no means fully recovered. Really it was highly unlikely he ever would be. The best they could hope for was for Desmond to learn to navigate his own jagged edges.
"It has been requested that we return to Masyaf." Malik ground out in frustration. Desmond's eyes widened, "We we, as in you and me we?" He asked weekly, fingers clenching and twisting in his white tunic anxiously.
Malik sighed in frustration. "Yes, we as in you and me." Looking at the fledgling with worry Malik placed a comforting hand on the younger males shoulder. "It may have been requested Desmond, but you have said yourself you are not officially a brother, you need not go if you do not wish it. Altair and Ezio both can suck it up."
Apparently that was not the right thing to say as Desmond seemed to collapse in upon himself. Malik cursed under his breath. Damn it, he had meant to comfort the fledgling, he had not thought about how much the fledgling's true status within the brotherhood affected the younger. Had forgotten momentarily how self conscious the younger was over the fact he had never grown past little more than an honorary novice, even after all he had been through.
Underneath the self depreciation however there was also fear. Deep and choking. Fear and guilt and a sense of loss because by Allah Desmond still loved his two ancestors. A fact that constantly drove Malik to endless frustration.
They did not deserve the fledgling, but Desmond's mind had grown to idolize the two, almost obsessive in a way. He had placed them on a pedestal far beyond what he believed he could ever reach, he had seen and lived all they had suffered and experienced. Desmond knew them better than he knew himself, a grimm thought, and he loved them deeply and with all his being while simultaneously believing he would never deserve them. That he deserved little more than their ire and grudging tolerance.
It was honestly depressing, and Malik hated it. He hated Altair and Ezio for confirming those dark thoughts in the younger. He still respected the both of them, they were still his friends, but that didn't stop him from wanting to smash their heads together sometimes when he thought of how much suffering they caused his young brother.
Sometimes Malik just felt so helpless, more so even than when he had first awoken in a drug induced haze and been informed that he had lost his arm. He just felt so utterly useless, when he watched Desmond have one of his breakdowns, or another night terror, or slip into one of those hazes "The Bleeding Effect" Desmond called it, and Malik could do little more than watch and pick up the shattered pieces afterwards.
"No I'll go of course, I wouldn't dare disrespect the Mentor so. I...I'll go pack for th..The journey."
"Desmond!" Malik called after the fledgling but the other seemed lost in his own head, eyes hazy and unfocused as he rushed from the room.
Malik cursed some more before penning a very colorful reply to Altair and sending it with one of the falcons kept at the Bureau, allowing the original bird to find a perch to rest and recuperate from its long flight.
Then he rushed off after Desmond, to aid the fledgling in preparations and ensure that he didn't do anything foolish in his current state. He rushed past the inky mess on Desmond's nest. The picture that he had been working on unnoticed and forgotten, the eagle with its wings spread wide and intimidating, glaring eyes obscured by a void of all consuming black.