Chapter 1: ONE - The First Mission
Bored, you pick at the dirt beneath your nails with the edge of your hidden blade, an eye cast over the documents on the desk for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately for you, most of it is simply copies of ship logs - no doubt all from Cormac’s fleet. Upon hearing movements outside the door of Fort Arsenal, you kick back in your chair, your booted feet coming to rest atop the documents on the desk. Your features may be hidden beneath your hood, and your hands busied with the dagger in your hand, but all your senses are trained on that crimson door - which rattles slightly as it opens.
“Thank you Master Kenway, I hope to be done by the end of the-,” the deep voice talking stops as the door swings open, revealing to you Master Kenway and his new recruit, Shay Cormac.
Near inaudible, the hiss of a hidden blade released from its holding at the wrist slithers to your ears, sending a smirk crawling up your face.
“And who might you be?” Cormac questions you, hiding the shine of his blades with the angle of his wrist. Ah, his ignorance is almost a little disappointing.
With movements so swift they seem simultaneous, you have the dagger wedged in the wood of the table, your hood down around your shoulders, and your feet firmly planted on the floor.
“Really, Kenway, you didn’t bother telling him?” you cut out, struggling to keep your eyes off the ex-Assassin, who has gotten a lot more beautiful since you last saw him.
“I was about to,” Haytham shrugs, nodding for Shay to stand down.
You rise up from your seat, choosing instead to go watch the flames in the fireplace, which you oh so kindly lit for Cormac’s arrival.
“Care to tell me what’s going on?” Shay asks, regarding you with darkened eyes.
Damn, it was a mistake to stand up - that Irish brogue of his just does something to you, and it’s been damn near two minutes since you first heard him speak.
“Shay, meet (Name), she’s one of our best, and I thought she would be a great asset for your next mission - you know, the one I just told you about,” Haytham explains, nonchalantly joining you at the fire.
Behind you, Shay merely blinks. Then the satisfying sound of a blade returning to its sheath reaches your ears.
“Now, I have some business to deal with - so I expect you two to get along and get to know each other before start this mission,” Haytham clasps his hands behind his back as he speaks, meandering his way towards the door.
He pauses long enough to nod at Shay, then turns to you to shoot you a small wink - and he’s gone. Son of a- he winked ? The man’s gone mad, playing cupid like this...oh you had never thought he’d listened when you’d complained about having no one to love. Especially not with Shay Cormac.
Realising Cormac’s still in the room, you relax a little, and attempt to flash a smile at Shay, who raises a dark brow in question at Haytham’s antics. A moment is spent like this, you avoiding looking at the beast of a man across the room, and him doing the exact same with you.
“How did ya get into my house?” he finally breaks the silence, his accent broader and less clipped than it had been when Haytham had been in the room, “And - and how long’ve ya been here?”
“Just an hour or so...I’m a good lockpick,” you explain, your eyes meeting the depths of his molten bronze ones for a bare moment, “Haytham told me about the mission, by the way, so you don’t need to worry about explaining all that,”
Seemingly pleased, Shay nods, and you don’t miss how his tongue darts out to lick his lips for a second. A moment passes by, and all conversation threatens to die - until;
“Do ya want some tea, coffee? We can go sit down and talk - get to know each other, like Haytham said,” he offers, already striding towards what you presume to be the dining room. Shay lingers in the doorway for a moment, his molten bronze eyes watching you for a confirmation, then he proceeds into the next room, leaving you alone once more. A clock on the mantle ticks away the seconds as you stare blankly at the wall.
“Damn you Kenway,” you mutter, with a shake of your head, before you follow the sound of pots clanging into the next room. Once you get there, you help him organise the tray - it seems tea isn’t all what’s on his mind, as he’s already cutting himself slices of bread, liberally spreading strawberry jam onto it.
“Haven’t had much to eat today, “ he says, by was of explanation. You don’t fail to notice how he cuts you a slice too, while you pour the tea out into the delicate cups. Quietly, you watch as the water darkens with the tea, waiting a few seconds before tipping a bit of milk into the cups to solidify the colour. Ah, good, strong, and dark - just how you like you tea, or men, if you take Haytham’s perspective.
“Let’s sit outside, the weather’s too good to miss,” Shay’s words cut you from your musings, and you nod quickly, following him through the doors to the garden that waits beyond.
Half an hour passes with the two of you making small talk, not something that is a strong point for either of you. Even so, you quickly learn that the only reason he dragged you outside was to marvel at his ship - the Morrigan - which he mentions to you nearly every other sentence. You have to admit, however, that the crimson-sailed ship is certainly a fine vessel, and looks as if she has the best guns and cannons aboard. As the conversation wanes, you watch as an eagle - proud and looming - soars overhead, on its way out for a hunt. Upon noticing you watching the bird, Shay points out it’s nest atop the outbuilding, explaining that the eagle moved in when he did - almost like a protector.
Leaning forward in your seat, you peek at the viewpoint jutting out of the building’s roof, the strategic haystack beneath confirming what it is.
“Kenway’s told me a lot about you,” you place your teacup down, trying not to look at how odd Shay looks, gripping the delicate cup between the calluses of his large hands, “The Assassins trained you well, but I want to see it for myself - race me, race me to the top of that building,”
You nod at the viewpoint, indicating where exactly you intend to run to, and give him but a few seconds before you take off at a sprint, the dark leather of your robes flowing behind you. By the time you reach the building’s walls, Shay is hot on your heels, nearly tripping over you in an attempt to get ahead. He may be strong, but he’s large stature makes him more cumbersome than you, even if you aren’t the daintiest of ladies. To your joy, you make it to the top before him, a smirk lining your features once he stumbles up beside you, barely seconds later.
“Good one, (Name),” he pants, only slightly out of breath, “You climb well,”
“I should hope so, we were both trained by the best,” you edge out onto the viewpoint, eyeing up the hay beneath you - thankfully it’ll be enough to cushion your fall.
“What do you mean by that, then?” he questions you, leaning against the brick chimney.
Twisting around, you turn your back to the glimmering view of the river, hands on your hips in mock anger.
“Don’t you remember me, Cormac?” you pout at him, “Come on Sealegs, you know me!”
The nickname sparks a memory within him, but you don’t wait long enough to see the flicker of familiarity in his eyes, before you twist back around, spreading your arms to take that leap of faith into the nothingness beyond.
The dark waters of Davenport cove glitter below, and the trio of Assassins on the edge of the coast bask in its aquamarine glory.
“You want me to jump into that?” Shay laughs, his grey robes swaying in the breeze, “No thanks!”
“Come on Shay, it’s a little leap of faith, all Assassins do it,” Hope Jensen lingers a little further back, waiting for Liam to show Shay - by all means a newbie to the Creed - how to perform a leap of faith.
Wordlessly, Liam does as expected, inching out onto the overlooking branch before spreading his arms wide, flinging himself over the edge like an eagle into flight. Wide eyed, Shay watches his friend disappear into the ebb and swash of the water below, only to resurface a few seconds later.
“Come on down, Shay, the water’s fine!” he laughs, splashing around far below.
“Whoa,” Shay hums, still surprised by the elegance of the whole thing, “Tell me how to do it,”
Smiling, Hope saunters over to the branch, ready to begin her explanation, until a voice from the trees silences her.
“Training Cormac without me, eh Hope?” you laugh, dropping down onto the grass from a branch, “And you’re doing leaps of faith! Oh, you know they’re my favourites,”
Hope struggles not to roll her eyes at you, she’s never been fond, nor trusting, of you since your arrival just before Shay’s. Ignoring this, you saunter over to the cliff edge, giving Liam a quick wave from where you stand.
“No need to fight over me, ladies, there’s enough to go around,” Shay jokes, his laughter carefree.
Both of you wait patiently as Hope commandeers the conversation again, explaining the specifics of the leap - it’s simple really, but listening again won't do you any harm. Hope’s leap is perfect, a textbook example of how it should be done - just like everything she does, it’s precise, it’s perfect.
“And that’s how it’s done, Sealegs,” you prod him, playfully using the nickname given to him for his lust for the ocean, for his comfort when at sea.
Sauntering over to the branch, you back out onto it, still facing Shay.
“Hope gave us rules to follow with this,” you dare a glance behind you, to the ships waiting in the dock and the assassins beneath you, “But some rules are simply made to be broken,”
At those words, you let yourself go, tipping backwards as you soar through the air, your arms spread like the wings of an eagle. A leap of faith performed backwards - your speciality.
Once Shay performs his own leap, and rolls out of the hay, he looks at you with all the surprise of a man seeing for the first time.
“(Name)...I knew you looked familiar, I knew I had heard your name before,” he breathes, stalking ever closer to you, “I always wondered what had happened to you...one day you weren’t there - and no one mentioned it,”
You pause. You had never thought about the assassins you had left behind once you’d got out of there, it had never crossed your mind that anyone - least of all Shay - would have asked after you.
“Did you...did you leave them, like I did?”
“No,” your reply is quick, giving you time to muster up the words to explain properly, “I never was an Assassin. I boarded the same ship as Haytham over here, and landed here as a Templar. While he worked on building the order, I was a sleeper agent in the brotherhood,”
At your words, Shay raises his brows, looking for all the world as if he is ready to criticise you for it - before he remembers himself.
“Oh,” Then; “Fair enough, you stood by your own principles throughout it all, you’ve always worked for the same side...which is more than can be said for me,”
Your reply is swallowed up by the cry of the returning eagle, triumphant with its hunt - and the arrival of Christopher Gist, Shay’s right hand man.
“Hello there Lady, care to introduce me, Shay?” he laughs, as jolly as ever.
The silence between the two of your is broken by Christopher, who you’ve only met once before now - and even then he was very friendly. With the added weight of your recent conversation with Shay, the haze of the afternoon suns begins to weigh heavily as the introductions are made, prompting Shay to usher the three of you into his home once more.
Despite the constant chatter from Gist, you find yourself watching Shay, unable to help yourself from picking out the changes between the man sat with you now, and the boy you had trained with years ago, under the pretence of being as Assassin.
Even if this reunion was orchestrated by Haytham, you get the distinct feeling that this is going to be a very interesting mission indeed.
Chapter 2: TWO - A Safehouse in Sleepy Hollow
A hungover Shay takes a hungover you on your first voyage on the Morrigan...even if you do sleep through most of it
Like the soothing caress of a lover’s kiss, the chill of the cold breeze wakes you from your half slumbering state. Even if you have been up for hours, it still doesn’t mean you’re fully awake - especially not after last night. As the sun had set over New York, you and Gist had taken it in turns to tell your tales of Shay’s misadventures, and it turns out that despite being a Templar hotshot now, he still has that adventurous side that he was known for in his youth.
Time had worn on, and the single drink Shay had offered turned into another, and another, and another…
“Mornin’ (Name)!” Gist chirps, popping up from out of seemingly nowhere, the crisp, brightness of his voice making you wince.
“Morning Gist,” you sigh, rubbing at the pulsing ache in your forehead - damn them for letting you get drunk, and damn yourself for this hangover.
Watching the man stride onto the deck of the Morrigan confidently, you lean back against the dock wall, the tang of salted air fresh in your nostrils. As you wait, a few of the ship’s crew surface onto the decks, waving their quartermaster a good morning, eventually, these are joined by more of the crew, who saunter over to the Morrigan after their night out in the city.
You, however, remain at the wall, not wanting to trespass onto the decks lest you break some sacred sailor code: you know how particular these seamen get.
“Mornin’ Captain!” Gist calls, his voice even louder over the general rabble of the crew.
Again, you wince, and swivel around to see Shay descending the stairs in his dark robes, a wince of discomfort on his face.
“Mornin’ Gist...just not so loud, okay?” Shay calls back, his voice rough with tiredness.
Shay wanders over to where you stand, leaning over the stone wall beside you. Outwardly, he sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose between his finger and his thumb, before those chocolate eyes of his find yours.
“Sleep well?” he jokes, knowing full well that no one went to bed before the first light of dawn, “Gist certainly seems in high spirits,”
Folding your arms, you smirk at his words, trying to ignore the sharp cry of a gull overhead that threatens to split your damn head.
“We ever going to board her?” you question, nodding at the awaiting ship, her crew pretending not to be watching you as they meander about on deck.
“Yeah, yeah, just give me a minute to prepare myself for a day at sea,” Shay sighs again, before straightening up, “Well, not sea, but you know what I mean,”
“Where we off to, anyway?” you ask, following Shay onto the deck.
You’re not due to set sail for your mission yet - which is a simple assassination of some french captain in...where is it again...Fort Blanc! That’s it.
“Albany, to stock up on mortars...then Sleepy Hollow for a break - and to plan out attack,” Shay explains, taking up his position at the wheel.
From Shay’s other side, Gist shoots you a wink, shouting for the crew to get ready for sail.
“Weigh anchor, boys!” he yells, making both you and Shay wince in equal measure - the smile on his face, however, is enough to tell the two of you that Gist knows exactly what he’s doing.
With her crimson sails unfurled against the push of the wind, the Morrigan glides through the water, her carved ice ram slicing through like a knife through flesh. The calm waters of River Valley greet you with a soft breeze, and the deck is mercifully silent.
“Not long now till we reach Albany,” Gist muses, removing his hat for a split second to scratch at his hair, “Give us a song, lads!”
Gist’s words are out before either you or Shay realise what he’s said, and the whole damn crew straighten up a little at his request. Leaning against the railing of the deck, just in front of the wheel, you muffle out the singing of the crew with your own thoughts.
Surprisingly, the Morrigan is smooth in the water - unlike other ships you’ve been on, Le Gerfaut being one of them. Ha, Chevalier had claimed his ship was the smoothest, the fastest on the seas, but after a slight wave sent the huge thing rocking side to side - you’d had some choice words to say to him. Remembering it now, with a glance at Shay, you smile a little at the memories of the laughter, of the fun you’d had with the Assassins...even if you had been telling Haytham of their movements the whole time.
“We won’t be long in Albany, unless you want to come with…” Shay offers, his voice quiet with the singing of his crew, “All I’m doing is speaking to the dock master,”
“Oh, I’m dead on my feet here Sealegs,” you admit, enjoying the small blush that taints his cheeks at the nickname, “You don’t...you don’t have anywhere to sleep, do you?”
Handing over the wheel to Gist, with the dock of Albany in sight, Shay beckons you to follow him down onto the main deck.
“Ay Captain, you never introduced us to this fine lady,” one of the crew breaks chorus, stopping you both in your tracks.
Surprised by the forwardness of the lad, Shay looks to you for confirmation - his eyes asking is its fine for him to introduce.
“I’m (Name), I’m going to be working with Captain Cormac for a while,” you make the introduction yourself, nodding a greeting to the gathered crew.
Shay smiles at you, seemingly happy that his crew have accepted you, before he continues to the captain’s cabin. Inside is dark, the doors flanked with dark flags bearing the Templar cross. At the centre of the room lies a desk, it’s top laden with charts and maps, even documents. Behind that, tucked into a little alcove, lies a bed, narrow but looking so soft and warm with its green cotton sheets, and goose feather pillows.
“Your bed?” you cock a brow up at him, “You could at least take me for a meal before you get me in your bed,”
Closing the door softly behind him, Shay chuckles at your words.
“Yeah, that’s what I brought you here for,” he laughs, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “Seriously though, I didn’t want to put you down below decks with the rest of them, I thought you’d be more comfortable here,”
Eyes half shut against the sudden wave of tiredness that tugs at you, you saunter over to the bed, dropping down onto the downy surface with a sigh.
“I’ll wake you when we reach Sleepy Hollow,” Shay mutters softly, slipping out of the room to leave you alone.
Within seconds you have kicked your boots off, your ears deaf to the thud they make on the wooden floor. Your coat and weapons fall along with your boots, hitting the floor as you worm your way beneath the emerald sheets, their cotton embrace soft against your cheeks. The pillow beneath your head is the softest you’ve ever slept on...ah, Cormac likes his little luxuries. Feeling your eyes droop shut, you surrender to the lure of sleep.
“Hey, hey,” a hushed voice whispers, and you’re vaguely aware of a breath on your face, “Wake up, we’re here,”
Yawning, you slowly pull yourself into the waking world, your eyes flickering open as you shuffle about. Half leaning over you, Shay smirks down at you, looking tired enough himself.
“Sleep well?” he asks, passing you your boots.
“Yeah, that bed is really comfortable,” you nod, pulling on your coat to follow Shay outside. High above the two of you, the white light of the afternoon sun struggles to break through the blockade of clouds, which stain the sky a blackish grey - almost yellow with the threat of thunder.
The silence on deck is enough to tell you that most of the crew have disappeared off into the town, no doubt to find the nearest inn to drink the night away. Gist’s absence is duly noted, too, however Shay is quick to explain that Gist has gone ahead to the house - to secure the premises and whatnot.
“Kenway bought a little place here a while ago, a safehouse or something...did he not tell you?” Shay explains, offering his hand to help you from the deck to the dock.
“No,” you consider a moment, accepting his hand, “I guess it never mattered, it’s not like I have a lovely ship to sail around in,”
Still gripping your hand, Shay pauses at your words, a shy smile creeping up his lips.
“You think my ship’s lovely,” he muses, “She is lovely,”
Both of you glance back to the Morrigan, her scarlet sails furled tightly to the masts against the racing winds. A finger of light breaks through that wall of clouds, only to be shattered again by the echo of thunder somewhere in the army of clouds. Droplets of rain fall, fat and slow, only a few at a time.
Dropping Shay’s hand, you take a step back, one eye cast on the shady looking fellow at the end of the docks, his jacket clearly emblazoned with an Assassin motif - so much for hiding in plain sight.
“Shay,” you warn, “Don’t stare, but there’s an Assassin here, down at the end of the docks,”
Whatever Shay’s reply is, you don’t have the chance to hear, for it is drown out by the crack of thunder once more - this time louder, this time more bone rattling, this time accompanied by a flash of white lightning. Now the rain falls more urgently, more incessantly, not yet a downpour but enough to send the two of you running for shelter. The two of you have barely made it past the end of the docks when a voice calls out, their words distorted by the lashing rain, but clear enough to be understood: “Templar scum,”
Freezing, Shay turns on his heels and rounds on the Assassin, clocking his cronies who linger behind the shed.
“What ya sayin’?” Shay snaps, his voice rough and deep - enough to make even you tremble a little.
“I said, Templar Scum,” he spits back, flicking a dagger over and over in his hands, awh, poor lad hasn’t been issued his hidden blade yet - how cute.
Singing through the air, the united noise of both your’s and Shay’s hidden blades ring out, but the Assassin does not back down.
“Run away, kid, while you still can,” you saunter up beside Shay, letting the edge of your blades glint in the slanted light.
By now, you’re soaked with the rain, your hair damp and plastered to your head. Two more Assassins appear from the shadows, the grins on their faces looking as if they have already won the fight - then the storm breaks.
The first one, the middle one, makes a step forward, the knife bared as if to strike Shay, his form dark against the onslaught of rain. Unfortunately for him, the Irishman moves too fast to see, the edge of his blade striking through the skin of his neck before he even knows what’s hit him. Taking this as your cue, you leap into action, taking down the second before the first has even hit the floor, and leaving only the third to be tackled.
As you move, your blade but an extension of yourself, you realise Shay is already there - forcing you to pull back lest you run him through instead. Once the third man is down, the two of you clean off your blades and retreat from the site.
“Let’s get to the house quickly, we don’t need any more Assassins popping up,” Shay mutters, his tone dark, as he strides down the silent street, uncaring for the puddling beneath his feet.
With one last glance back to the bodies, you scurry behind him, hoping to God that there’s a bath waiting for you in the safehouse.
Chapter 3: THREE - In the Arms of a Memory
With the bathwater now lukewarm, you sigh heavily, an arm cast out to grab a towel. Not there. In your excitement to get in a warm bath after the chill of the rain you’d forgotten to bring in a towel - you can only hope that someone is still awake to hear your call.
“Shay? Gist? Anyone?” you call out, “Can someone bring a towel in for me?”
On the other side of the door, the sound of footsteps ring out, followed quickly by a knock on the door.
“Hey (Name), ya going to have to unlock this for me, I can’t push the towel through the keyhole,” The deep brogue of Shay comes through the door, and you sigh outwardly - of course you locked the door.
Now you’ve got to get out of the bath, drip everywhere, unlock the damn door whilst trying not to let Shay see you...and so on. Oh this should be fun. Hissing as your foot hits the cold stone floor, you crawl out of the tub, awake of the water dripping off you in droves. The door clicks as you twist the handle, followed by its creak as you gingerly tug it open, You peek your head around the door, mindful to keep your nudity well hidden behind the wooden surface, to find Shay stood a few paces back, one hand holding the towel out to you, and his other over his eyes.
“Step forward a bit Shay, I can’t reach,” you huff, waiting for him to comply.
Once the soft cotton of the towel is within your grasp, you snatch it to you - quickly wrapping it around your body before stepping out fully into the doorway.
“You’re allowed to look now,” you giggle, watching as one chocolate eye peeks through his thick fingers, then he removes his hand entirely, “Cheers for that Shay,”
Faint pink colours his cheeks as he avoids looking at you in your state of undress - even with the towel on, this is the most he has seen of a woman in a long time.
“Ah, um, no problem,” he rubs at the back of his neck, already backing away, “There’s some stew cooking downstairs when you’re done...we saved ya some,”
Nodding your thanks, you watch his hasty retreat with an amused smile. Then, after closing the door, you get to work drying yourself off, and dressing again. Normally, after such a bath in your room back in New York, you’d collapse straight into bed, but now - now there’s work to be done and people to be nice to. Not to mention food waiting. Floorboards creak underfoot as you descend the stairs, something even your Assassin training can’t stop. Once downstairs, you find Shay and Gist gathered at the dining room table, their faces illuminated by the honey glow of the fire in the hearth, over which a pot of stew bubbles away. Grabbing yourself a bowl, you plonk down in the spare seat next to Shay, and shoot a grin at both men.
“Now we’re all here, what’s the plan of action?” Gist greets you, supping the dregs of stew from his own bowl.
“We sail to Fort Blanc, we use the mortars to take out most of the towers, then the cannons to finish it off,” Shay explains, giving you the distinct feeling he’s done this often, “Then me and (Name) infiltrate the fort, and take down the captains,”
Huh, seems easy enough. While you eat, Gist and Shay back and forth for some time, smoothing out lines of approach, gunmen, ammo and whatnot.
“What of the French ships?” you interrupt, your spoon of stew paused halfway between your bowl and your mouth, “You haven’t accounted for any yet, and where there’s a fort, there’s usually a ship or two guarding it,”
Shay considers your words for a moment, nodding to himself silently, then;
“Front carronades and puckle guns for the big ones, burning oil for the littluns,” Shay decides eventually, his cheeks turning pink again once he looks at you again - the image of you in only a towel flashing into his mind again. Satisfied with his answer, Gist yawns and stretches, muttering about sleep as he trails out of the room, leaving you alone with Shay. Resting his head on his hands, Shay pouts at you as you eat, his brows furrowed.
Shay jumps a little at your word, unaware he was staring.
“Nothing...just wonderin’ why Kenway wanted you to come with me, I’ve taken down plenty of forts,” he muses, those dark eyes of his watching as you sup the last of your stew.
“Yeah, I wonder,”
“Nevermind, Kenway knows what he’s doing. There’s got to be a reason, and I’m sure we’ll find out soon,”
“He most certainly does,” you can’t help the words come out, they earn you an odd look from Shay - however it’s easily shrugged off.
Only last week you’d gone for a walk with Haytham, the man’s like a brother to you. He’d been quizzing you on your love life as usual, he’s still upset that you and Thomas didn’t work out, and you may have let slip that you felt a little lonely...and then you may have mentioned that you had known Cormac before (Kenway had previously been telling you about how his new protegee was getting on), and those little cogs inside Haytham’s head began whirring at that moment - leading you to where you are now.
Of course, Shay knows none of this. You hope.
“Well, we’d best be off to bed,” Shay rises from his seat, pausing in the doorway to look at you sheepishly, “I probably should have mentioned, this place has two bedrooms. Gist took the single room because he said I snore,”
“Don’t worry, it’s a big bed - we’ll hardly notice each other!” Shay attempts to quell the situation, and it works for a while. Until you enter the room and find ‘big’ is an overestimate.
To be fair, the bed looks rather spacious when empty, it’s only when both of you lie down that you realise the only way to avoid touching each other is to lie pencil straight. Which, by all accounts, is not comfortable whatsoever.
Heavy silence falls between the two of you once the candle is blown out, the darkness complete.
“(Name),” a whisper through the darkness, “(Name), do you mind if I just-”
Shay cuts his own words off as she shuffles onto his side, one arm coming to rest over your midriff.
“Sorry, I’m going to get cramp if I don’t put my arm there,” he apologises, his eyes but a gleam in the faint moonlight.
“Don’t worry about it,” you cut out, shuffling around yourself to get comfortable.
For a moment, as you lie on your side facing him, your fingers brush against his, filling your mind with flickers of the past, flickers of when the two of you were younger, more carefree.
“Not joining in the party, love?” Shay, drunken and rumpled, slurs at you, plonking down at your side on the log by the fire. All around you, the residents of the homestead are drinking and dancing, celebrating Achilles’ birthday.
Grinning at Shay, you glance between him and the fire.
“I’m off out tomorrow, another mission. Can’t be out there with a hangover,” you laugh, leaning into the warmth of Shay as his arms goes around you.
Shay swears, realising only now that he has to be out in the field tomorrow too.
“Well then,” you laugh, “I think it’s best we got you to bed, isn’t it?”
Dropping his cup in the grass, Shay nods and rises up, dragging you with him despite his teetering stance. It’s only once the two of you set off walking, that you notice just how drunk Shay is - he’s barely able to walk in a straight line!
Luckily for you, Shay manages the stairs easily enough on his own, and you only have to steer him towards his room. He’s thrown himself on the bed almost as soon as the door is open - dragging you down with him.
His arms are gentle, yet they trap you to his chest, not moving even at your gentle push.
“Uh, Shay?” you mutter, mindful of his feet as he kicks his boots off.
“Yeah?” he pauses, realising his arms are around you, “OH! Sorry! You don’t mind staying do you...I just want to cuddle something,”
With a shrug of your shoulders, you kick off your own shoes and shuffle backwards - so you’re further into his warmth.
“Sure, why not,”
Silence bares down on the room for a moment, and you almost think Shay has already gone to sleep, until he prods your arm gently.
“Gist is playing cupid, you know - ignore him if it gets annoying, he just doesn't want me to be alone,” Shay whispers, the caress of his breath on your cheek testament to how close you’d shuffled to him during your musings.
Through the darkness, you spy Shay blinking at you in surprise, making you realise the weight of your sleep slurred words.
“Haytham has been doing the same for ages, the last one didn’t work out,” you admit, “When he realised that you and I already knew each other...oh he was made up,”
The bed shakes a little as Shay lets out a chuckle, the sound resonating off something deep inside of you.
“I wonder why he looked at me funny when I asked who you were! Sorry for not recognising you, by the way, you do your hair different now,”
Now it’s your turn to laugh, it is true, however. During your time with the Assassins you has merely tied your hair back with a ribbon, now you have all manner of pins in it to keep it in the braided bun - mostly so you can leave it in for days without needing to wash it.
“Your hair’s different too now, and you’ve shaved that little ‘tache off - I recognised you still,” you poke back, pouting in mock upset.
Silences lapses once more between the two of you, this time more comfortable and calming. Seconds tick by, marked by Gist’s snores through the wall - ha, he claimed Shay was the one to snore - in simple quietness. Eventually, you succumb to the lure of sleep once more, despite the lengthy nap you took aboard the Morrigan.
Chapter 4: FOUR - Red Sails in the Mist
After a night at Sleepy Hollow, you and Shay set sail for your target - Fort Blanc
Dawn casts her pale gaze over Sleepy Hollow, her rays glinting off the river at the harbour. Taking a sip from the tin mug of tea, you watch the comings and goings of the town from the kitchen window, your eyes peeled for any orange clad Assassin agents. A squadron of soldiers march by, their blood red uniforms marking them out in the mud of the street, and you can’t help but tense up at the sight of them - where there’s soldiers, there’s trouble.
“We all up and ready?” Shay stalks into the room, followed closely by Gist, “I’d like to set off before noon,”
Setting down your cup, you nod, aware of the weapons strapped to you. Unlike Shay, who fights with his dagger and sword together, you only have one sword - instead preferring to pair your slashings with the sure aim of your guns, of which you have four situated around your body, each with two shots each before reloading.
“I found a note from Kenway, he wants us to meet him in Halifax as soon as possible - says he has a lead on some groups of Assassins,” Gist explains the hastiness of their departure by waving said note at you.
Shrugging on your coat, you take a final sip of tea, before nodding to the men.
Your words prompt Gist to turn tail and head to the door, followed by you and Shay. Once outside, the chill in the air hits you immediately. Ah, the sun may be shining, and last night’s rain may be long forgotten, but another storm is brewing - let’s hope the Morrigan is fast enough to outrun it. P assing over the spot where you and Shay had run into those Assassins last night, you can’t help but look out for any signs remaining of the fight - but nothing meets your eye, not even a single drop of blood. Instead, the gang members from last night are now replaced by two others, both looking a damn sight meaner than before.
The three of you board the Morrigan to the cheers of her crew, testament to how much they love their captain. Before Shay can give the call to weigh anchor, he is interrupted by the approach of a red coat soldier, who boards the ship without permission. Although it isn’t entirely obvious, nearly all the crew have a hand straying close to their weapons - yourself included. Juxtaposing this, Shay is the very picture of a calm and relaxed captain; a man who is making it clear he has done nothing wrong.
“And you are?” Shay asks, by way of greeting.
“I am Edward Warren, I’m the commander of the guards here in our lovely town. I presume you are the captain of this fine vessel,” the red coat sniffs, his countenance suggesting he thinks entirely the opposite about the dear Morrigan.
“Captain Cormac at your service, what brings you onto my ship?” the response comes, silence hanging in the air for just long enough to spell out the word ‘uninvited’.
Hands clasped behind his back, Warren keeps one eye on the ship, and one eye on the group of soldiers patrolling the dock. Leaning back against the railing of the ship, you pose as if staring out to sea, yet your eyes are dragging up and down the red coat, narrowing when you spot the tiny Assassin insignia pinned to his chest; from the stiffening of Gist, you can tell he’s clocked it too.
“Well, there were three murders last night, down here by the docks - just after you landed here, actually,” Warren pauses to look you up and down, one brow raised in a smirk, “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about it, would you?”
His voice is weasely, too high pitched for this time in the morning.
Nonchalantly, you shrug your shoulders and shake your head.
“No,” you cut out, hoping the man would leave you alone, “Why would we?”
“Listen here Mr Warren, if you are insinuating that me or a member of my crew have committed this crime, then you’re wrong,” Shay appears at your side as if out of nowhere, “Now if you don’t mind, we have to set sail now,”
Eyes narrowed, the red coat captain swans across the deck and back onto the docks.
“Crew? Is that what you call your whores now?” he laughs, joining his cronies and practically hiding behind their wall of guns. Behind them, you see the Assassin gang lads snickering away at the comment - oh it’s all you can do not to leap over the damn railings and kill them all yourself.
Eyes deadpan, your brow hardens, and you don’t even notice your hand has gone to your pistols until Shay snaps a sharp: ‘Leave it’.
Whore? Whore ?
“Weigh anchor, lads,” Shay calls, getting the ship into action before you jump overboard to run that redcoat through.
Gritting your teeth, you storm away from the railing to join Gist and Shay at the wheel.
“Sing us something, lads,” the order from Shay comes, the words sounding forceful and booming.
To the cry of the gulls soaring high above, the crew let out a cheer as they get to work, their voices singing out loud enough that a passing British ship join in unison.
“ Come all you young sailor men, listen to me, and I’ll sing you a song of the fish in the sea ,” they chorus, their words falling silent on your ears as you remain, gaze hard against the breeze propelling the Morrigan along.
An hour passes, the crew dropping in and out of shanties as the Shay steers the Morrigan through the rivers. Damn Fort Blanc for being in the northern reaches - damn thing’s nearly in the Atlantic.
Eventually, that brewing storm that chased you from Sleepy Hollow catches up with you, sending first lashings of unrelenting rain splashing across the decks, which freezes into ice and snow as you sail right into a snowstorm. Swearing against the cold, Shay asks Gist for the eyeglass, and swears again when he can barely see the silhouette of the fort and the mountains against the flurries of whiteness.
“Prepare the mortars,” Shay gives the orders, retaking the wheel as you Gist nabs the eyeglass back.
“There’s two brigs guarding the fort, Shay - I’d say we take both down with the mortars, then go for the fort,” Gist suggests, handing the eyeglass over to you. Even though you see nothing, you sense the rise of adrenaline course through your veins, and a tremor of excitement pulses through you.
Two brigs? Damn the man, you can barely see anything through the wall of white - never mind two ships. Silently, you wait, your ear cast out to hear Gist give the orders to adjust the mortars.
Two seconds later, the deafening rumble of them shudder the ship, their flame shuttling through the sky like eagles in flight. The resounding crack and flash from the murk confirms they have met their mark, as does the distant clanging of bells.
“The one of the right is going down, the left is searching for us,” Gist shouts, pointing to the sailed shape that appears in the gloom.
They clock the Morrigan immediately, the finely dressed crew on board racing into action with the front carronades.
“Sometimes, I wonder if white sails would be better for camouflage,” Shay huffs under his breath, shielding himself and you with the wheel, “But then I remember, the Army told the French that they were dyed red with the blood of enemy soldiers,”
Despite the approaching ship, you can’t help but giggle at his words. However, your thoughts of merriment are cut short by the returning boom of the Morrigan’s own cannons. Fired rapidly, the rat-a-tat of the puckle guns shatter the bow of the approaching French ship, blasting an ugly hole in the wooden exterior of the ship.
“Leave her to sink lads,” Shay orders, quelling the baying of his crew.
Hearing the thunderous crack of the Fort’s own mortars, you feel the lurching of your heart in your throat, and can’t help the slight tremble in your legs. You may have trained as an Assassin, you may work as a Templar - but nothing has prepared you for the surge of adrenaline and fear as cannons boom overhead.
For a moment, you concentrate on the responding cannon fire, which pummels at the stone walls of the fort as if they are children’s playing bricks. By now, the storm has cleared up a little, allowing you an uninterrupted view of the five imposing towers - one of which is already incapacitated. Unfortunately, you realise as you see mortars heading your way, it also gives the French in the fort the same view of the Morrigan, leaving her prone in the water. Although Shay tries his best to steer the ship out of it, the mortars are coming in thick and fast - and eventually he gives the order to brace. The effect is immediate, with the whole crew flattening themselves against whatever part of the ship is nearest.
You find yourself pulled against Shay’s crouched form, half beneath him as one arm curls around your waist - the other still gripped onto the gilded wheel.
“Bit exposed up here, safer behind the wheel,” he murmurs in your ear, his breath hot against your half frozen skin.
Shooting a glance over your shoulder, you can’t help but wonder if Shay gives the same treatment to Gist - who merely winks at you from the other side.
Damn him, too.
As the fort towers scramble to reload, Shay swings the Morrigan into action, presenting her 17 starboard cannons to the crumbling towers above. Shuddering, the Morrigan judders backwards with the force of all cannons firing in unison - and Shay wastes no time in swinging the ship around, peppering the fort now with the port side cannons. As Shay brings the Morrigan round once more, you quickly count the towers left - only two! The cry of ‘mortars’ has you scrambling for the deck again, subconsciously searching for the sanctuary of Shay, his gentle pat on your shoulder tells you they missed - thankfully. This is followed again by the return of the Morrigan’s mortars, fired in quick succession to knock out the final towers remaining. Through the drifting smoke, and remnants of the snowstorm, a deep silence bears heavy over the river, confirming that the fort in now unarmed. Passing the wheel of the ship over to Gist, Shay pulls you aside while the crew get back to work.
“Guns loaded?” he asks, to which you nod, “Good, our contact told us that there’s two French captains here. Now I don’t know whereabouts in the fort they are, but when we get there, you take one, and I’ll go for the other,”
Nodding, you test your hidden blades a few times, eyes already on that rapidly approaching dock. Your eyes meet carnage, the docks strewn with rocks and bricks from the fort above, even splinters of wood from the little hut there.
“Before we take down the captains, we need to get rid of the gunpowder stores,” Shay explains further, hopping from the deck onto the dock with ease, “I know there’s one in the top of the fort, I’ll take that one - you go for the one at the bottom, nearest the right hand side,”
Sucking in a deep breath, you confirm the plan one more time with Shay - now is the time for focus. Wishing you good luck, Shay leads the way up the shattered steps, leading you towards the smouldering ruins of the fort - where your prey awaits.
Chapter 5: FIVE - A Fight In Fort Blanc
With Fort Blanc incapacitated, it's upto you and Shay to infiltrate and kill the Captains...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Frantic marching and shouting echoes around the courtyard, reaching where you linger in a derelict corner of the fort. The leaves of the bush bristle around you as she shift for comfort, your eyes following the path of the patrolling guards as they pass you again. They speak in hurried French, which unfortunately for you, you can’t understand a word it. Damn, you’re sure whatever they’re saying would be useful.
One hand gripping your pistol, you ready yourself for your next move - maybe if you can get up on that watchtower, and take down the sniper, you might be able to see where this damn gunpowder store is...or this French captain you’ve seen neither hide nor tail of. A final check to make sure there are no more soldiers in the area, and you’re off, clambering up the side of the wooden tower like a monkey up a tree. Once up there, you take down the sniper from behind, before he can utter a single word, and take a hold of his rifle. With any look, passing soldiers will assume you’re him.
From the other side of the fort, the sharp snap of gunfire echoes out, followed by an almighty crack - undoubtedly the other gunpowder store. Hearing the yelling from that direction, you secretly pray for Shay’s safety, however you now realise exactly how you can blow this place up; by using the rifle in your hands, you can shoot the damn thing...in theory. Hidden in the far corner, the barrels of gunpowder remain guarded by a trio of soldiers. There’s no way you’d be able to take them down all at once - by the time you’ve shot the second they’ll be onto you.
But the barrels are just that little bit too far away for you to shoot them. Damn.
Your eyes flicker back to the gate, where you now clearly see one of the captains standing on guard with a few soldiers and a cannon. A glance to the side tells you Shay is lingering on a roof, having completed his half of the mission - now it’s up to you. Slowly, you balance the barrel of the gun on the edge of the watchtower, coming to a crouch to look down at the gunpowder. Your heartbeat pounds in your ears as you use the tip of the bayonet as a guide, your breaths deep yet shallow all at once.
Once aimed, you suck in a deep breath. Snatches of your training with both Kenway and Achilles rush into your head. Aim on the inhale, shoot on the exhale.
Huffing out your breath, you squeeze the trigger remorselessly, your eyes snapping shut so they don’t have to watch the bullet arc through the still air, and go screaming into the gunpowder barrels. The resounding boom in deafening, warning you to drop the rifle and run before they come and find you. Two snipers hide in the bushes, their rifles trained on the shattered gate. Neither of them see you and Shay coming, your hidden blades silently killing them. At the gate itself, a soot stained soldier runs up to the remaining captain, no doubt to explain the loss of their other gunpowder store.
“I mbécile!” the captain yells, raising his sword at the lad as if it’s his fault, as the soldier scurries away, you distinctly hear the captain turn back to the sea, swathes of smoke still drifting on a phantom breeze, “Dieu nous a abandonné,”
With all guards in the courtyard dead or dying, Shay takes up a post against the farthest wall, his arms crossed as he watched you.
Blissfully unaware of your approach, the guard and the captain at the gate remain bickering quietly, until;
“Hey,” you call out, ignoring Shay’s jump of surprise, “Hey, Frenchies, nice fort you got here,”
Whipping around, the captain raises his sword at you, muttering something in French.
“Ah, sorry, I have no idea what you’re saying,” you shrug at him, raising your pistol and shooting his through the head before he can respond.
The trembling guard beside him merely blinks at you, before he raises his arms in surrender - the fort is now yours.
Before long, British ships fill the bay, and the flag of the Empire is raised, replacing the burnt French one. Back on the decks of the Morrigan, you help Gist tidy up the splinters and whatnot, even going as far as to bandaging up one of the crewmates, who has a particularly nasty cut along his arm.
He’ll be lucky if there isn’t an infection.
After at least half an hour of waiting, Shay returns with a few of the crew - all laden with goods and gold.
“I think we can afford an upgrade when we reach Halifax,” Shay grins at you, handing over a purse of gold, “Here’s your share, (Name), good work,”
Thanking him, you stuff the gold in your pocket and take up your post by the wheel. Soon enough, Shay is ready too, and is steering the ship through the valleys once again - to the cheer of the British ships - and out into the Atlantic.
Rattling in from the North, the breeze that greets you on deck is lethal - so much so that even the hardiest of crewmembers have wrapped up warm. With Gist taking a break, Shay is alone at the wheel, his cheeks pink with cold and his breath frosting in the air in front of him.
Rubbing your hands together, which are frozen despite the thick gloves Shay lent you, you sidle up beside him and peer at the icy nothingness surrounding the Morrigan, the distant coastline but a frozen memory.
“How long till we get there?” you ask, watching the muscles work beneath Shay’s coat as he steers the Morrigan into what little wind he can catch.
“Hard to say,” he sighs, bronze eyes finding yours, “The wind’s coming from the wrong direction, until it changes direction we’re stuck at this speed,”
Deflated, you lean against the railing of the top deck, watching as a few of the shivering crew pass a bottle of whiskey between themselves. Aside from the occasional creak of the ship, the air is still and silent, broken only by occasional updates from Shay.
Even though the wind doesn’t change, you spy the welcoming harbour long before you expect - even if the sun is already sinking low in the sky. Gist returns from his nap, offering to take the wheel to give Shay a break, immediately, he joins you at the back of the Morrigan, watching the yellowed fire of the sun shimmer a burning red on the expanse of the ocean. A few, candy floss pink clouds drift aimlessly across the sky, watching over the black and white flashes of the birds that flutter back to coast to roost for the night.
“I must’ve watched sunsets a thousand times, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored of it,” Shay hums, his hand coming to rest on the railing close to yours, “Each one is more beautiful than the last,”
Sucking in a breath, you smell the sea salt and leather scent of Shay now he’s stood this close.
“I haven’t watched the sunset for a long time,” you murmur, almost as if speaking too loud will break the moment, “I’m usually doing missions and sleeping by this point,”
“Not keeping you awake, am I?” Shay teases, the laughter in his voice suddenly turning serious as he continues, “Do you remember when we watched it together, from the cliffs back at Davenport?”
You nod, the memory resurfacing for the first time in years.
“And by morning, you were gone,” he continues, his voice quieting so the sailors won’t hear, “Then we found out where your loyalties lay,”
Pressing your lips together, you try to ignore the guilt that bubbles up inside you at the thought. You can only imagine what Shay must’ve felt, waking up to find you named a Templar and nowhere to be found. All because you were a coward back then.
Salted breezes, laced with the gunpowder of a distant battle, race up the cliffside, filling your nostrils to replace the worn leather aroma of Shay. The sun, a blazing eye on the horizon, glows with an aurel aura, it’s radiance refracting and diffusing off the ocean. The half moon of the bay captures this sunlight, encapsulating it in an amber painted jewel for you and Shay to smile down upon.
As the sun watches on, the two of you shift ever closer to each other, his eyes on you instead of the view.
“(Name),” he sighs, the word slipping from his lips like a reverent prayer.
Loose strands of hair tumble around your face as you turn to him, only to be immediately brushed away by the calluses of his hands.
Not a single word is uttered, the twinkle of adoration in his eyes speaking everything that cannot be said. He leans forward, a fraction of an inch, then another. Those molten bronze eyes of his flickering from your own to your lips.
Before you realise it, he has pressed his lips to your own, soft.and gentle. They linger for a moment, before you return the kiss, sparks igniting behind your closed eyelids and between you two.
Pulling apart, you take his hands in your for a moment, allowing him to place them on his chest - so you may feel the rapid beating of his heart.
Again , a voice whispers inside your mind, prompting you to crash your lips onto his again, chasing those sparks of lightning once more. But...no, no you can’t do this.
He’s an Assassin, you’re an undercover Templar. You can’t do this.
Forgetting the sunset, forgetting the moment, you rise to your feet suddenly.
“I have to go,” you choke out, “I’m-I’m sorry Shay,”
With that, you turn heel and race up to the manor, not waiting for Shay’s response.
What does it matter, anyway? By morning you’ll be long gone.
During your thoughts, you hadn’t noticed your hand inching closer to Shay’s, attracted by the warmth he radiates. His eyes find yours again, the softness behind his coffee eyes asking you if you are okay.
“Dock up, boys,” Gist calls out, his sudden outburst interrupting any thoughts you had.
Retreating from Shay, you blink at the position of the Morrigan - you hadn’t even noticed pulling into port. Halifax lays silent between the cliffs, the town trapped in a haze of shadow and post dusk darkness.
“Kenway said he’d be waiting in the Sorrel and Bay tavern, he should have some rooms for us booked,” Shay explains, disembarking first.
“You hear that, boys? Drinks are on Cap’n Cormac tonight!” Gist races past, followed by half the crew, who are nearly drooling at the thought of free ale.
Rolling his eyes, Shay watches them go with a grimace.
“I’d best collect some money from the bank first then,” he sighs, knowing full well his crew is about to take advantage of the free drinks, “You go on ahead, I’ll meet you there,”
Nodding a goodbye to Shay, you follow the noise of Gist and rowdy sailors until you catch up with them. No doubt Kenway will quiz you on your adventure with Shay the moment he gets you alone...
I can't speak French, but google translate says the phrase means 'god has abandoned us'
Chapter 6: SIX - Dreams of the Northern Skies
After the success of Fort Blanc, you and Shay take a trip to Halifax to report to Kenway
Fortunately for you, Haytham had too little time to quiz you before Shay arrived, placing his sack of gold immediately on the bar to pay for all drinks. He has quickly come to join you and Haytham in the back corner, where he relayed the success of the mission to Kenway.
“Did you work well together?” Haytham pries, sipping from his pint of ale.
Pouting at him, you shoot a look at Shay, who smirks at you - after what you told him back in Sleepy Hollow, he has already clocked onto what Haytham is asking.
“Pretty well, it feels good having someone who’s got my back when I’m out there. It made taking that Fort ten times easier, too,” Shay explains, much to the joy of Haytham.
“Very good,” the reply comes, “I’m glad you two got on well, because I’d like you to continue working together for your next mission, and perhaps the one after that too,”
Nodding, both you and Shay share a look, the two of you raising your brows at Haytham’s pushing.
“Spare us the details until morning, I’d like to sleep without worrying tonight,” you yawn, downing the last of your drink, “Speaking of sleeping, you don’t mind if I go to bed - past few days have been mad,”
It’s true, you’ve experienced your first naval battle and helped take down your first fort - and although you’re proud, you feel damned tired. All your missions before this were mostly tailing, theft, and spying.
“Ah, yes, I’ll show you to your room,” Haytham rises from his seat, the speed at which he removes you from the downstairs telling you that he wants to ask you more.
Floorboards creak beneath your feet at he leads you down the candle lit corridor, until he comes to a door at the end of the corridor.
“You’re in here, I’m next door, and Shay is on your other side,” he pushes open the door, revealing a comfortable looking bed to you.
Plopping down onto the bed, you rub your hands on the coarse wool - not the finest accommodation, but it’ll do. To your chagrin, Haytham lingers in the doorway, watching you take your boots and coat off by the lone candle.
“You going to stand there and watch me, or are you going to ask me your question?” you sigh, flopping back on the bed and closing your eyes.
“Okay...how are you getting on with Shay?” you hear him walk across the room, the bed dipping as he sits beside you.
“Alright, he’s a capable sailor and fighter,”
Now, you feel rather than see him give you that look, the ‘Exasperated Haytham Look’ as you often call it.
“That’s not what I mean,”
Huffing, you crack open one eye and glare at him.
“What do you want me to say, eh? Shay fell in love with me after a day and half at sea, so we shagged under the moonlight on the deck of the Morrigan while Gist sang us a shanty? Thought not,” you mutter, flipping over to bury your face into the pillow, which is surprisingly soft, “That last night I spent as an Assassin...he kissed me. Then by morning I was gone, I don’t want to make the same mistake again,”
Softly, Haytham’s hand pats your back, the touch welcome yet making you stiffen. Although you have known Kenway for years, you know he’s not one for touching and whatnot, preferring to show his affection via little gifts - even tickets to an opera once.
“Relationships are difficult, I know,” he attempts to soothe you, “But even Gist thinks there’s something between the two of you - I just don’t want to see you alone, (Name),”
Pushing out another deep sigh, you bury your face further into the sanctuary of the pillow, wishing for sleep to take you quickly, while Haytham retreats to the door once more.
“Piss off, Kenway,” you utter, quietly enough that Haytham should not hear.
“I heard that,” he scolds, shutting the door behind him.
With Haytham gone, you shuck off more layers, until you are left in only your blouse and breeches. Once under the covers, you blow out the candle, allowing the singing downstairs to lull you to sleep; at least this time you have the whole bed to yourself, and don’t have to worry about accidentally prodding Shay.
Your sleep, despite being deep, is plagued with dreams. Most are simply replays of memories, of your times spent undercover as an Assassin - of your and Shay’s first kiss, it’s imprint still lingering in your mind years later. Eventually, the torment of these dreams drive you to awake, the unfiltered rays of the moon spilling through the crack in the curtains to illuminate the darkness. Sitting up, you push back the yawn that shudders through you, your fingers arching out into the chill of the air to tweak back the curtain from the window. Outside, Halifax is still, not even a breeze dares to stir the leaves of the trees, which fringe the town, as if to pose for a picture. Somewhere in the cold of the night, a lone hound stirs awake, his lonesome howl left unanswered.
Casting your eyes north, you spy the distant shapes of the northern lights, dancing emeralds and amethysts over the dark ocean. In the room next door to you, you hear a shuffling, a muffled cry. Ice freezes over in your veins as you pause, ears strained to listen for any noise coming from Shay’s room. Again, the noise of the scuffle reaches your ears. For a moment, your cheeks redden - Shay wouldn’t have a woman in there with him, would he? Then the cry rings out again, loud enough this time to be not of pleasure - something is wrong.
Swearing softly, you pick up the discarded sword from the floor and tiptoe out onto the freezing landing, pausing when you make it to Shay’s door. From this close proximity, it’s easy to tell something’s going on in there, and you hope to god he’s not hurt. Kicking the door open, you race into the room with your sword raised, ready to hack into any threat within. Instead of an Assassin, you find Shay attacked by his dreams, his brow cold yet sweating as he thrashes on the bed, the covers half strewn on the floor. Your sword clatters to the floor as you rush forward, shaking him thoroughly to rouse him from his nightmare. Waking with a start, Shay clings blindly to you for a moment, until he blinks the sleep from his eyes and sees that he’s safe.
“Just a dream, Shay,” you kneel beside him, taking his hand at he sits up.
For a moment he is silent, the slowing rise and fall of his chest reflecting the moonlight off the sweat there. His grip on your hand is strong, only loosening when he notices you wincing at the tightness of it - yet he doesn’t let go. Eyes shut, Shay bows his head, his loose hair falling across his features.
“Sorry,” he whispers, his voice hoarse, “For waking you,”
“You didn’t, I was already awake,” you assure him, shuffling closer into his warmth, “You want to talk about it?”
Shifting to lean back against the headboard, Shay merely shakes his head as he pulls you down with him, unintentionally pulling you into a hug. His bare arms are strong around you, the muscles beneath rippling with every minor movement, and for a moment, you’re tempted to simply snuggle into his shoulder, to stave away the frigidity in the air that is already threatening to freeze your toes. Instead you prop yourself up on one arm, your other gently brushing the hair from his face so you can see those dark eyes of his.
“You sure you don’t want to talk?” you hum, holding his face in your hands.
Again, here merely nods his head, his eyes shifting to look through the window, to where the pillars of jade dance in the inked sky.
“Thank you, for waking me I mean,” he loosens his grip on you, only now realising his grip on you, “Sorry about that,”
Slipping out of the bed, you hiss through your teeth at the coldness of the floor - it’s about time you invested in socks - and kick your sword up into your hands. Shay gets up too, bringing the blankets with him to the chair by the window.
“You brought your sword?” he raises a brow at you, sitting cross-legged in the vast armchair, the woollen blanket draped over his form.
“Thought you were getting attacked,” you giggle, voice low so as to not wake the other patrons, “Well, good night I guess...you will be okay, won’t you?”
More seconds tick by, and Shay remains silent, the haunted gleam in his eyes catching yours from across the room.
“No,” he swallows, his voice thick, “You don’t mind, do you? Staying here?”
Dropping your sword once more, you shake you head. Of course not, it’s not like you’re going to go back to sleep anyway. With footsteps as silent as mice feet, you tiptoe across the room once more, squeezing yourself onto the chair with Shay as he wraps the blanket around you too. In only your underclothes, you realise how cold you are when Shay’s warmth radiates into you - the heat welcome and gentle. Together, the two of you watch the fading lights of the north, which retreat with the approach of dawn’s pale light. Silence lapses once more, broken only by the heralding cry of a gull overhead, announcing the arrival of the sun for all who care. Butter coloured light filters through the trees, shaking the town of Halifax awake; already a few locals are up and about, many heading straight to the docks to begin a day’s fishing.
Stiff and sore, you awaken on the armchair alone, the bare imprint of Shay’s heat left in the fabric of the blanket wrapped around you. One glance out of the window tells you some time has passed since you fell asleep, as the sun now shimmers in her full radiance. With Shay nowhere to be seen, you assume he’s already gone out, and decide to get dressed yourself. Luckily for you, no one is there to see you slip from his room into yours, sword in hand - you know how people like to gossip, Haytham most of all.
Once dressed, you make your way downstairs, where the tavern, despite a few lingering drunkards, is mostly empty, with Haytham the only awake person there.
“Good morning, (Name),” he greets you, beckoning you over to his table in the corner, “Sleep well?”
Plopping down on the seat opposite, you shrug your shoulders, not wanting to go into the detail of it.
“Morning,” you glance around you, “Where’s everyone else?”
“Shay and Gist have gone to restock ammunition for the Morrigan, and the rest of the crew are likely sleeping the drink off,” he explains, hands clasped across the table.
For a moment, you take him in, only a few years your senior and already the weary lines of age are showing themselves - an unfortunate effect of the role of Grandmaster.
“Go on then, what’s this next mission of mine about,”
Leaning back in his seat, Haytham takes a moment to readjust his hat, before he hands you a folded slip of paper.
“There’s an old outpost to the north of here, used to be French but Shay acquisitioned it for us a while ago, they recently employed a new captain, by the name of Jack Walcock, we have tried to get him onto our side, but so far he has refused any affiliation with us,” he explains to you, “Now, we have reason to believe he is trying to contact the Assassins here,”
“What Assassins?” you huff, “Shay hunted them all down, right?”
Nodding, Haytham continues with his explanation, “We believe there may be a few pockets left, Shay killed the ringleaders - but for all we know someone may have stepped up to take their place,”
“Okay, but what does this paper have to do with anything?”
Rolling his eyes, Haytham gives you that look again.
“Let me get to it,” he sighs, “Our dear friend Jack Walcock has been using military money to fund his own expenditure. So, when you and Shay infiltrate the outpost, you will get him to talk by threatening to reveal to the army his expenditure - the paper is the proof,”
Oh. Seems easy enough.
“Why do we need both me and Shay to go? This is a one man job at best,” you ask, stuffing the paper in your jacket for safe keeping.
“You know why,”
Glaring at him, you realise you do. He’s still playing cupid. Damn him.
Pouting at him, you retreat from the tavern and into the streets, hoping to catch Shay at the harbour masters. The fresh air leaves a lingering stench of salt in your nostrils, reminding you of the scent of Shay - until you snap yourself out of it.
You have a mission to get to, and there’s no room for distractions.
Chapter 7: SEVEN - The Art of Escaping
You embark on a infiltration mission with Shay
From atop the masts of the Morrigan, the view of the Atlantic ocean is beautiful - even if it’s damn near freezing up there. Your only consolation is the good weather, a rare day of uninterrupted sunshine this far north, usually the weather here is foggy and frosty...and that’s on a good day. Far below you, the crew sing themselves a shanty, their voices carrying across the expanse of the ocean, while Shay remains stoic at the wheel. Scampering down the mast, you land on the deck with a thud, your boots narrowly avoiding the hand of one of the crew, who scrubs at the deck as if his life depends on it.
Once you’ve skirted around him, you join Shay and Gist at the wheel, feeling strangely energetic despite your lack of sleep last night. Ah, speaking of last night, neither you nor Shay have mentioned the nightmare to each other - nor the impromptu nap in the armchair after...it’s not as if there’s been much time, you suppose. Bristling against the cold, Shay offers you a nod as you approach, one hand braced on the wheel while the other asks for the spyglass. He pauses, extending the barrel of the glass to see further, the grim press of his lips together telling you that the outpost is in sight.
“Why do we need to sneak in, again?” you ask, your hands stuffed in your pockets, “I mean, you got this place off the French for them, what’s stopping you walking in the front?”
Shay pauses for but a moment, his mind focused on steering around the littering of icebergs that bob on the sea alongside the painted hull of the Morrigan.
“Kenway said this could be delicate, if Jack Walcock is speaking with the Assassins, they’ll no doubt have eyes on the front,” Shay replies, “He thinks they’ll be expecting a visit of some sort from us, and by sneaking in, we can avoid any confrontation,”
Folding your arms across your chest, you attempt to rub warmth back into your poor fingers by stuffing them in your armpits - God only knows where you’ll be sneaking through, and you’d be damned if you had to climb with frozen fingers.
“So, stealth mission then, no guns,” you mutter, feeling a tad over weaponised now with your four pistols, “What about that rifle on your back? Surely that’s too loud?”
With a shake of his head, Shay explains to you how the rifle works, emphasising how silent the thing is when shooting.
“The only downside is that it can’t fire bullets, just darts,” he explains, “There’s a grenade launcher too, in case we need to cover a large area,”
Whistling you jig about on the spot a little, only now feeling the cold.
“Wow, Haytham really spoilt you with that one, didn’t he?”
“Nah, I stole this long before I knew Haytham,” he snorts in response, steering the ship closer to the approaching coast town.
“Good, I was about to send in a formal complaint. The only gifts Haytham gets me are some flowers on my birthday,” you laugh, “Well, he did buy me a horse once, but I think he uses him more than I do,”
“A horse? Wow,” Shay mutters, his voice low and quiet, “So...were you and Haytham ever, you know, together?”
Oh. To be fair, the gift of a horse is a very good gift - damned things can be expensive at times. You don’t just buy a horse for no one.
“No, no, he’s like a brother to me,” you shake your head, “You think he’d try and set us up if he likes me romantically? Besides, he said something to me the other day - I think he’s found someone,”
To this, Shay merely nods, instead concentrating on docking the Morrigan up in one of the spare bays. As he steps off the deck, followed by you, Gist steps up to the wheel and waves a farewell.
“Can’t have anyone recognising the Morrigan and knowing we’re here,” Shay explains, upon seeing your raised brow, “We have two hours until he’ll come back,”
Instead of heading up the docks, and into the walled town, Shay takes you round the pebbled beach, following the shape of the wall until you find a gap. He squeezes through first, landing in the brush on the other side - and you wait until his hands pokes through again, the sign to tell you all is clear. Once through, you find yourself in a forgotten corner of the town, the dirt path running by the wall lined with sagging houses, their wooden slats peeling and rotted.
“So much for the glory of the Empire,” you sigh, frowning at the cracked glass littering the floor.
Sullenly, the gaping windows of the houses stare at you, the twinkling of glass underfoot warning of the approach of a guard. Shay presses a lip to his fingers from where he awaits on the other side of the road, his hidden blade out and ready take down the redcoat. From your position hidden in the bush, you have the advantage of seeing around the corner, allowing you to shoot Shay a subtle nod when the guard is close enough. Moving a silently and powerfully as a lion, Shay has the poor guard’s throat slit, and his body disposed in a corner, before you can blink...damn he’s good.
After he gives you the all clear, you scurry out into the open with him, still keeping an eye out for any others.
“Where to next?” you ask, trying not to look at the red stained body of the guard.
“From what Haytham told me, Jack’s house should be a few streets over - we shouldn’t miss it, it’s painted blue, and has two guards stationed outside,” he clarifies, leading you from the back street and into the next.
Due to your years of training, your feet are silent on the frost compacted ground, not even the prickled branches of the bushes make a sound as you pass. For some time the two of you walk swiftly, mostly ignored by the civilians who watch you pass with a disinterested eye. Eventually, the inevitable guard appears, forcing Shay to drag you down a tiny alley between the wood panelled houses.
The narrowness of the alley forces you to press up against him as you wait, and already you feel the rush of blood to your cheeks.
“I think he saw us...he’s coming this way,” Shay swears, peeking around the corner.
Swallowing down your embarrassment, you struggle to think of an escape plan, but time is running out, and killing a guard on the main street would not be a clever move - ah ha!
“Just be quiet and follow my lead, okay?” you order, grabbing hold of Shay before he can respond, “Sorry about this,”
With your back against the wall, you pull him closer, hoping he gets the hint of what you’re doing - ah, being a woman at times does have it’s uses, you doubt he’d be able to escape this way if he was with Gist. It's an art really, kiss him just right and the guard will think you're a pair of kids, too horny to wait until you get home.
Your lips clash roughly, both sore and chapped from your time spent in the cold, but already you feel a warmth rising within you, starting with those hot lips on yours, and spreading down your body like a raging wildfire. Before long, Shay responds fully, his lips moulding against yours with a swipe of his tongue - oh it takes all your effort not to turn to jelly there and then. Somewhere at the end of the alley, you’re vaguely aware of the presence of another - the guard.
“Heh, kids,” the guard scoffs, continuing on his merry way. Bingo.
Despite the absence of the guard, Shay doesn’t leave you, instead he raises a hand to your cheek, the touch soft despite the calluses lining his fingers. Palming his chest, you cherish the last seconds of that kiss, until the need for air becomes too great, forcing you to pull apart with a satisfying pop. The two of you retreat to opposite sides of the alley, even if the walls are barely a foot apart.
“We good to go now?” you bite your lips, fighting against the pounding of your heart.
“Yeah, I think so,” Shay straightens himself out, trying not to stare you down, “Come one, it’s not far to his place,”
Reaching out behind him, Shay takes your arm as he leads you through the streets, coming to a stop near the intended house. He takes you round the back, where there’s no guards to watch either of you commit breaking-and-entering, and if anyone did see you two go back there...well they’d simply assume you to be lovers, off for a frolic in the shadows.
“You didn’t mind the...uh...kiss?” you ask, pausing by the wall.
Above you, Shay is already halfway up the wall, heading to what he hopes is the office window of Jack Walcock.
“Not at all,” he whispers, shinning up the drainpipe to get the window open, “It was nice, even if it was just to avoid that guard,”
Wincing at his words, you shrug to yourself - yeah, just an escape technique. Even if the crushing weight in your chest tells you otherwise. Seeing Shay has already wormed his way inside, you quickly crawl up the house, tumbling into the room in time to see Shay lock the office door.
Red faced and trembling, the man at the desk - Jack Walcock, you presume - stares at you in silent terror, his mouth moving as if to form words, yet nothing comes out. He’s a squat little man, his wiry hairs dyed a blood polish black, and his face laden with heavy jowls and wrinkles. A pair of beady, black eyes peer out from beneath the wires of his brows, their gleam one of terror.
“Good afternoon, Captain Walcock,” Shay grins, taking up the seat opposite the man. His robes fall down by his sides, their reddened tips brushing the floor as he kicks his feet up onto the desk, a few flecks of mud flicking onto the fine mahogany.
“Who-who are you?” the choked out response comes, prompting you to step forward from the shadow of the curtains.
“We’re just here to ask you a few questions, Captain, on behalf of our friend Haytham Kenway,” you explain, watching as he turns even redder at the mention of the name.
“What? I don’t have to answer anything! I’m a captain of the British Empire!” he exclaims, surprising you with his sudden burst of courage, “I should call for my guards and have you arrested immediately,”
Brows raised, Shay shoots you a look, his eyes on the pocket of your coat where the incriminating evidence lingers. As you remove that, Shay calms the man down, telling him to shut up or he’ll ‘tie him to the chair and stuff his mouth with cloth’.
Taking that as your cue, you unfold the paper, ensuring that you make a show of clearing your throat, before you begin reading. Ha, barely two words in and he’s realised what evidence you have against him, and that you’re going to blackmail him into answering your questions.
“You do as we say, Captain, and this” you dangle the paper in front of him, “Is forgotten about, and no one needs know of it,”
“Try and resist, and I will personally hand this over to your superiors,” Shay continues, still reclining on the chair, “So, what do you say, hmm?”
Seeing himself backed into a corner, Jack glares at the two of you, before he submits to questioning. Huh, that was easier than expected. Leaving Shay to question him, you go to wait by the window, the letter still clasped in your hand as a warning.
Shay takes his time, wrangling out every last piece of information he can - a it turns out, Jack is trying to help the Assassins re-establish themselves, believing their cause to be fairer, truer. Aside from that, he wants a slice of the glory of finding a precursor site, of chasing pieces of Eden - everything his Assassin contact has told him, he spills.
Clearly, he doesn’t realise he is speaking to a man who has seen their destructive powers not once but twice, however you refrain from divulging such information now.
As Shay drags out the final dregs of answers, you hear a scuffling outside the window, and lean over to peer out. Much like you and Shay had previously clambered up, a hooded figure is doing the same, wearing robes that can only belong to an Assassin.
Swearing, you jerk back and snap the curtains shut.
“We have a problem,” you prod Shay, taking a hold of your guns.
Shay acts fast, and has Jack in his arms, pistol pressed to the skin of his head, in seconds. Even with Shay’s strong arm grappling him by his neck, Jack manages to wriggle around a little, that is, until he feels the cold barrel of the gun on his skin, and the sure click of the catch.
With Shay dealing with Jack, you train both your pistols on the window, as the shadow of the Assassin approaches.
“You really need to let your guards know about me, I can’t climbing in here every time you call for a meeting, and - oh shit,” the Assassin stumbles in, only realising the situation now. He’s outnumbered and outgunned, forcing him to raise his hands in surrender as he glares at the two of you.
“Well, if it isn’t the spy and the traitor,” he cuts out, bowing his face to keep it hidden beneath the dark blue of his hood. His robes are grey, the fabric soft yet lined with leather, and there’s a piping of deep, ocean blue around the whole thing.
Even if your time as an Assassin was years ago, and you weren’t there for long, you know exactly who this is - no one else wears robes that colour.
“Well, if it isn’t Samuel Kilgore, is this what you’ve been upto for the last year?” you laugh, approaching him with raised guns, “I figured, since you no longer have Chevalier’s arse to lick, you would have done the sensible thing, and gone into hiding like the others - but, here you are,”
Stiffening, Shay raises his brows at the man he once fought alongside for years, and presses the gun further against Jack’s head.
“Get out,” he growls, “Get out, give us 5 minutes, and we’re gone,”
To that, Kilgore merely cocks his head, a self satisfied smirk appearing on his lips.
“Why should I? I’m now stood a few feet away from the murderer of my brotherhood,” he laughs, flicking that hood back off his face. Despite the years, his age has not weathered him in the slightest, the deep copper tan of his skin remains smooth, broken only by the dark stubble around his mouth, and the white, lightning streak of a scar that runs down his right cheek. His eyes, green like faerie pools, glare at both you and Shay, the hatred borne there evident, and oh so close to spilling over.
Without warning, Kilgore unholsters his own gun, shooting it at Shay before you can so much as blink. Whether it be bad aim, or Shay using Jack as a shield, the bullet misses, instead burying itself deep into the shoulder of Jack Walcock.
“Gunshots from the captain’s house!” a voice outside cries, amidst the clanging of the warning bell. Shay drops Jack back in his hair, wincing as a man groans against the jarring of his injury.
Kilgore is out of the window before you can move, both you and Shay hurtling after him in an attempt to give chase - it seems you are not the only one with good escape plans.
“It’s best we split up,” he grabs your arm to hold you back for a moment, ignoring the pounding on the locked door, “I’ll go after Kilgore, you find a way to signal to the Morrigan,”
With that, he pushes you outside, allowing you time to drop into the bush below, before he is up on the roof, tiles cracking underfoot as he races across the rooftops - hot on the tail of Kilgore.
Chapter 8: EIGHT - Tea with the Grandmaster
Returning from the mission, you and Shay face Grandmaster Kenway - but only after food!
Damn Kilgore. Damn him to hell.
If he had followed Achilles’ lead and retired from the Brotherhood, this damn mission would be over - but no, he’s got to stir the pot some more, and make Shay chase him all around the town...only to slip away when the guards closed in. Well, to be fair, the fog that had rolled in certainly hindered Shay in his chase. Luckily, Shay had been able to do the same, and had quickly come to find you at the docks, where the Morrigan is just gliding to a halt. Stormy faced and flat footed, Shay boards his ship with you close behind, giving the order to sail away before the guards catch on.
“Gist, where’s Kenway at now?” Shay huffs, taking hold of the wheel from his quartermaster.
“He went back to New York, I think,” the reply comes, “What happened out there Shay?”
From where you stand at the back of the ship, half leaning on the oil barrels there, you watch as the settlement fades into the fog, leaving nought more than a smudge of lights and peaked roofs.
“We got Jack, we got information from him - he is working with an Assassin,” Shay pauses, focusing on steering through the thickening fog without crashing into other ships, “Then the very Assassin we were talking about arrived...he shot Jack,”
“I went to chase him, but I lost him,” he continues, “At least (Name) identified him for me,”
At that, Gist turns to you, already asking you for the name of this Assassin. Before you reply, something in Shay’s wording makes you pause. He didn’t recognise Kilgore. Although you had written off him forgetting you as the stress of years passing, having it happen with Kilgore - a man who Shay has been on many a missions with - feels wrong...Shay should remember him.
“Samuel Kilgore, joined the Brotherhood before Shay - around the same time I turned up. He finished training before us, they sent him further inland to help the Brotherhood out there,” you explain, “He must’ve returned when he heard Shay was hunting the Assassins down...from what Jack said I think he wants to reestablish it,”
Swearing, Gist paces along the deck, mindful of the sailor who scrubs the wood by his feet. Overhead, seagulls cry out in the swathes of mist, heading to land before the dewy air pulls them down to the swell of the ocean. Watery and weak, the sun eeks through the wall of fog, her light sullen and unwilling to warm you as you shiver on the decks of the Morrigan.
“Well, what should we do, then?” Gist asks, ignoring your mere response of a shrug.
“I don’t know...we should ask Kenway what he thinks - so for now we should just get back to New York,” Shay turns back to the wheel, before stopping and gesturing to Gist, “Actually no, I’m tired - take over would ya Gist?”
With that, he turns tail, heading down the steps to his cabin to sleep off his exhaustion. That leaves only you and Gist on the top deck, with the rest of the crew further down, and you both have a lot of time to kill before you reach New York.
“Do you want to learn how to sail her?” he asks, beckoning you over to the gilded wheel.
“Yes,” you seize the wheel before Gist can rethink his idea.
If you can ride a horse, and drive a carriage well, you can sail a ship too, right? It can’t be that hard…
The sun is far into her descent when you arrive in New York, with Gist steering the Morrigan into her bay at Fort Arsenal. A haze of late afternoon bugs flitter over the gardens of the fort, laden with the pollen of the roses that litter the grounds. From the wisps of smoke chugging out from the chimney, someone must be home - and with any luck it’s Haytham. Leaving Gist to pay up the crew for their services, you head into Shay’s cabin to wake him. You eyes take some moments to adjust to the darkness of the cabin, having gotten used to the bright glare of the outdoors, but when you can see clearly you spot Shay sprawled across his bed, the sheets flung aside to reveal his undershirt and breeches.
Deposited in a pile by the side of his bed, Shay’s weapons are close on hand if need be, yet you can see he still wears one hidden blade - a dangerous game to play.
“Shay, we’re here,” you call from across the room, “You can wake up now,”
Groaning, Shay rolls over onto his back, the collar of shirt opening to reveal his chest - which you avoid looking at after you feel the heat of a blush form on your cheeks.
“Come on, I’m sure you have a comfier bed waiting at the Fort,” you attempt to bribe him awake, which seems to work as he sits up, his eyes dark with sleep.
“Mhmmm, give me five minutes to get dressed,” he rolls out of bed, nearly falling on the floor as he trips over his discarded clothes. Ah, ever the epitome of grace.
Leaving him to it, you head back onto the abandoned decks, where even Gist has left for the night. High overhead, a squadron of gulls soar through the air, chased by the resident eagle at the fort, their screeching cries drowned out by the general murmur from the city. Even with Fort Arsenal laying on the very edge of the city, it takes barely a minute to walk into the bustling streets - despite this, the Fort is the very picture of peace and calm; in fact, it wouldn’t feel out of place on it’s own homestead.
Remembering the homestead, you feel a pang of sadness wash over you. Although Davenport had been the nest of your enemy, you had loved the place, it’s red brick walls were always a sight for sore eyes when you returned after particularly long missions, and the groundsmen there were always kind to you. Even with the sun still present, the sky has already begun to darken with the throes of dusk, such as the lanterns of Fort Arsenal are quickly lit by whichever gardener is working today, and from there they flicker honey painted shadows across the brick walls, their pinprick glow as bright as the stars which dot the mauve sky.
“Ah, you waited for me,” Shay’s voice appears behind you, following you off the ship and onto the docks, “Come on, let’s go see if Kenway’s in...and if there’s any food about,”
By the time the two of you spill into the building, Gist has already retired to bed, leaving Haytham to wait for you in the sitting room. He greets you warmly from behind his newspaper, offering the two of you the leftovers from his dinner - oh, apple pie! Your favourite!
Both you and Shay take healthy slices of the pie, which is still warm and gooey inside, and tuck in, pausing only to answer Haytham’s questions with curt, monosyllabic answers - the nitty-gritty can wait until your appetite is sated. Eventually, when barely any crumbs remain, Haytham folds his newspaper up and looks at the two of you, his face darkened by the dancing of the fire.
“So, care to tell me what happened? Gist barely said two words, he thought it better for one of you to tell me,” he asks, brushing specks of dust off the hat in his lap.
Taking a sip of tea, you defer to Shay, allowing him to explain everything.
“We got Jack, he confessed - everything,”
“But,” Shay nods, “But his contact in the Brotherhood arrived, shot Jack, and we had to get out of there...I tried to chase him but he got away,”
“And who was this Assassin?” the question comes, this time Shay looks to you to speak - there it is again, he’s not very good with names, is he?
“Samuel Kilgore, became an Assassin a few weeks before Shay. He worked with a difference branch for a while, but I believe he returned when he heard of the destruction of the Brotherhood,” you take over, watching Shay as he simply nods along to your words.
Silent for a moment, Haytham mulls over your words - it’s clear he hadn't been expecting the return of an Assassin, least of all one who wants to rebuild the Brotherhood. The silence drags, on, until Haytham sits up with a start.
“Right then, I’ll get someone to look into that for now,” he nods, rising from his heat.
“W-wait, what? You don’t want us to continue?” Shay too rises up, standing but a few inches taller than Haytham, yet the shadows of fire make him appear taller, his broad shoulders blocking the glow of the fire reaching the Grandmaster’s face.
“This mission has uncovered more than I’d thought, and as you know Master Cormac your priority now should be searching for the Precursor box,” Haytham slips from the shadows to linger at the door, all thoughts of playing cupid now gone out of the window with this revelation, “And besides, it’s time the two of you had a break - I’m throwing a ball in two days, to celebrate the triumphs of our order, you two are coming,”
Before either of you can object, he’s gone. Brows drawn, Shay slumps back into his chair, his fingers drumming a rhythm on the quilted armrest. Watching him, you can’t help but trail your eyes across the sharp angle of his jaw, shaded with the beginnings of stubble once more.
“The Precursor Box...you didn’t retrieve it from Chevalier?” you ask: Haytham had informed you about the box a few years back, explaining that your favourite Frenchman had been tasked with hiding it - you’d assumed Shay had retrieved it when he killed him.
“No,” he shakes his head, “He shipped it out of here before I got to him...God only knows where it is,”
Eyes on the twirling flames of the fire between you, you rack your brains for anything about the box, but there’s nothing, Jack mentioned nothing, Kilgore said nothing either - you’ve never seen the damned box yourself, so you’re not much help.
“While you’re hunting for that, Kenway will no doubt keep me on the tail of Kilgore - I’ll keep my eyes peeled for anything to help you,” you nod, knowing that Haytham will abandon his matchmaking to set you new missions.
Although you know he enjoys it, his playing cupid must always come second to the order - everything must come second to the order.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sleep, and then I’m going to go shopping tomorrow,” you bid Shay goodnight, pausing only when you see his raised brows, “We have a ball in a few days, Sealegs, I can’t turn up in this,”
You gesture one hand to your robes, which are now looking a bit worse for wear with your days at sea. Hmm, it’s about time you washing this lot, you’ve have some spare ones in your trunk - which you presume Haytham has had moved here from your little room further into the city.
Once out of the sitting room, you navigate the corridors for a bit until you realise you have no idea where you’re going. You’ve been in the dining room before, so you know your room is not behind those doors, and that gilded door clearly leads to the master bedroom - not yours either. Eventually, you reach a corridor with two rooms down the end, one door is shut, no doubt with either Gist or Haytham snoozing behind it, the second is open - your trunk placed on the floor by the bed. Found it!
Shutting the door behind you, you peel off your layers of weapons and stiffened fabric - good makeshift armour - and collapse onto the bed, already dreaming of what shops you’ll visit tomorrow - ah, it’s been a while since you went shopping, even if it’s not your usual activity.
Chapter 9: NINE - A Walk in New York
sorry for slow updates, ive been obsessed with eurovision...
Although you’re still armed to the teeth, you’ve definitely dialed down the fierceness of your outfit for your walk around New York. Instead of the dark leather overcoat you usually wear, you are now wearing a softer, lighter cotton one, that wouldn’t look out of place if worn by a fine lady - if you ignore the hilts of daggers peeking out of your pockets. Once immersed in the streets, you work out exactly where you are, and exactly where you need to go to reach your favourite tailors. It had served as a safehouse for Templars when the city had been under Assassin control, and still serves the order by making most of their robes there - the woman there had made and mended yours many a times, enough so you’d trust her with anything.
By the time you reach her shop, you’ve caved into the temptation of buying a slice of pie from one of the street peddlers...they just smelt too good. As such, you remain outside consuming the pie until all has gone, Elizabeth may be the best tailor this side of the Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean she likes pie gravy spilling everywhere. As you push the door open, the little bell dings inside the shop, altering her to your presence.
“Ah, Miss (Name), it’s been ages!” Elizabeth, turned out in her finest gown, shuffles out from behind the counter, arms open to envelop you in a welcoming embrace, “So, what can I do you for today, my dear?”
Smiling at the woman, you can’t help but spot the pile of work lingering behind the counter - for a woman of nearly fifty she certainly hasn’t backed down from her work.
“Are you sure you need more work, you seem to have a lot there,” you nod to the pile of sewing, not wanting to work Elizabeth to the grave.
“Nonsense,” the woman huffs, already pouring you a cup of tea, “I’ve employed a couple of girls to help me out with the mending, but the making is still my job. So, I’ll ask you again, what are you wanting?”
Leaning against the desk, you fold your arms across your chest, ready for the big reveal.
“Haytham is throwing a ball in two days, and I need a dress,”
“Any old dress?”
You consider for a moment, wondering whether you should just go with a conservative dress or-
“Make it scandalous,”
Raising one greyed brow, Elizabeth clasps her long fingers together - fingers designed for intricate needlework.
“It’s only taken nearly 10 years,” she laughs, remembering how every previous gown you’ve ordered has been rather conservative, “Someone you’re trying to impress?”
Watching the old woman gather fabric samples to show you, you blush a little as you think of Shay. Hmm, you can’t deny he’s handsome, and the two of you did nearly have something going on - until you chickened out and quit the infiltration.
But even if it doesn't work, even if Shay wants to forget what might have been and remain friends - for all you know he might have a secret lover stowed away somewhere - there’s no harm done. You can still wear that dress for yourself, and look damn good while doing it.
“I’m thinking of going for the French style, low cut at the front, as for colours,” she muses, “Would red and black be too macabre for the ball?”
Red and black, Shay’s colours.
“Maybe a bit of gold in there too,” you confirm, smiling at the image of the dress forming in your mind.
“Oh you’re going to look amazing, all of New York will be gazing at you in awe,” Elizabeth gushes, “The ball is in two days, you say? I shall have your dress ready by then,”
Thanking her, you reach for your coin purse, only for her to stop you with a firm hand.
“Nonsense, I’ll just charge it to Haytham’s account,” she grins, “A lady should not expect to shell out to look good, he hasn’t treated you for a while,”
A wicked grin appears on your own face now, it’s true...and it’s not as if Kenway will mind. Knowing Elizabeth already has your measurements, you bid her goodbye as you exit the shop back into the bustling streets of New York.
As you wander through the streets, you find yourself nearing one of the old gang headquarters, the yellow flag long gone and now replaced by the red white and blue of the British Empire. You’d been down in Boston with Kenway when word arrived that someone was reclaiming the boroughs on New York on behalf of the Templars, which Haytham had quickly brushed off as Monro and his new recruits. Although you now know Shay is responsible for it all.
Ah, Colonel Monro, you’ve not thought of him in a while. His presence at the ball will be sorely missed this time round, and you make a mental note to make a toast to him while there.
More and more streets pass by, until you find yourself at the gates of the large mansion at the edge of the city - Hope’s mansion. Since her assassination, the mansion has remained unoccupied, however you know Haytham pays a few groundsmen for the upkeep of it, and with the current deliveries entering the front gate, you presume this to be where the ball will take place. Oh, Haytham knows how to rub it in their faces, doesn’t he? A Templar ball on an old Assassin haunting ground...heh.
Turning from the gate, you make as if to walk back to the fort, only to stop when you spot an orange clad man lingering in the alley opposite. Orange, there’s only one group who wear that garish colour - the Assassins. Already, you feel that familiar tension rise in your muscles, the instincts of the fight prevailing over that calmness that had washed over you this morning.
Ah, you had thought it had been too good to be true, a day without a fight, but with the trio of Assassins rounding in on you from across the street.
“Now, what’s a little lady doing skulking around here all by herself, eh?” one taunts, eyeing you up and down with one lazy glare, “One wearing a Templar cross, no less,”
Knowing that you’re outnumbered, you summon up all the cocky courage you can find, and dare to saunter a few steps towards the thugs. Your swagger takes them off guard for a moment, enough so to give you time to check them out for weapons - only one of them has a gun, the others all carry a sword each.
“Listen, you know this fight isn’t entirely fair,” you hum, still standing tall and proud, “And I’d rather not spill blood on this coat, I just washed it,”
By now, the one with the gun has moved to stand behind you, probably hoping to take you off guard with a blow from behind. Well, isn’t he the fool then.
“I should at least make it fair, perhaps one of you would like to borrow one of my gun - perhaps that’ll even it out, hm?” you laugh, the noise cold and harsh.
The thug immediately to your left chuckles, his laughter combined with his turned up nose giving you the impression of a pig. However, the spindly one of your right burns red with anger, looking for all the world like a startled chicken.
“You’re all big mouthed now, but you ain’t saying nothing once we’re done with you,” he sneers, unsheathing his sword to wave it at your face - to which you don’t blink, not even once.
“Of course,” you mutter, rolling your eyes as the pig and the chicken giggle amongst themselves.
Ha, they barely have the time to react as you swing backwards, driving one of your hidden blades deep into the soft flesh of his neck. As he falls, you grab hold of the gun in his hands, the very gun that was poised to shoot you moments ago - instead, you squeeze at his fingers, helping him press the trigger to send the bullet screaming into the shoulder of the piggy one, who stumbles down in defeat.
Dropping him, you skitter backwards as the chicken-like one rushes you, your bones jarring as you parry his sword with your hidden blades. By now, the guards have been alerted to the gunshot, and you distinctly see a squadron of redcoats come trotting around the corner. Again, the chicken races at you, but his footing is off, and he slips on the still-hot pool of blood so generously left there by his friend.
Seeing this, you take off at a sprint, hurtling over his body with enough force to push him down upon his own sword, leaving him dead on the street.
“Stop right there!” a redcoat calls out to you, his gruff voice carried away by the wind - and the speed at which you run. Bare seconds pass as you launch yourself at the side of the nearest building, your hands gripping at the cracks in the stone to haul yourself up.
The pounding of guards’ feet echoes the thud-thud of blood in your ears, egging you on to move faster, to get away from the scene. Leaping from roof to roof, you build up that steady rhythm the Assassins trained into you, allowing you to speed away from the site of crime - unseen by the guards. So much for a leisurely walk out.
Knowing you are now free, you linger atop a roof, watching the citizens go about their daily lives as you wait for your breath to catch up with you. From where you stand, you can just spy the mast of the Morrigan peeking over the peaked rooftops, her crimson sails tied up with thick ropes. As your breathing returns to normal, you hear a distinct and familiar voice carried across the wind, urging you to look over to see Shay and Gist wandering down the streets, that latter of whom eyeing up some daintily dressed girls at the side.
Both wear their usual crop of weapons, enough so that the crowds easily part for them when they spot them coming. From your vantage point you can see everyone around them, from the red coated guards to the yellow clad lady awaiting in the alley beneath you - oh what?
You really can’t catch a break today, can you?
Crouching on the roof, you watch as the woman peers around the corner, spotting her target approaching. A small smirk lines her features, ah, even with the Brotherhood mostly gone, the gangs are still here, still working away to try and undo the Templar order. Shay walks ever closer to the alley, unsuspecting of the would be Assassin lingering there.
Just as he reaches the mouth of the ginnel, you leap, your hidden blade out and yearning for blood. The Assassin’s body cushions your fall as you drop, your blade making quick work of her life. Luckily for you, Shay’s broad form at the end of the alley blocked the view from any passers by - the only signal of anything wrong would have been the assassin’s grunt of pain.
Retracting your blade, you pick yourself up off the floor and nod to Gist and Shay.
“Good morning,” you greet, surreptitiously wiping your blade against your coat.
“Uh….morning,” Shay rubs at the back of his neck, bewildered at you just having saved him.
At his side, Gist rolls his eyes and makes a show of prodding him, reminding him to thank you for saving him.
“Oh, yeah, cheers for that (Name), I sometimes forget I’m a wanted man,” he mutters, sheepishly.
“We were just heading to a delightful cafe for a spot of lunch, care to join?” Gist offers, indicating to said cafe further down the street.
The thought of food makes your stomach grumble, you hadn’t realised how hungry you are with all this fighting and running over rooftops.
“Of course, I just had a fight with some thugs over near the mansion - fighting sure does make me hungry,” you smile at them, already trotting off down the street to the intended cafe, “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Exchanging glances, Shay and Gist follow on behind you, both worried to hear of you fighting - but they know you’re experienced, they know you can handle yourself. Eventually, Gist pushes Shay in front of him in an attempt to get you and Shay walking together, oh he never stops playing cupid, does he? Of course, you’re oblivious to all this, as you’re already dreaming of what delicious food you will be eating soon.
Chapter 10: TEN - A Midnight Ball
THE BALL IS HEREEEEE I can't wait for you guys to read it
The next days pass with little incident, the Assassin-employed thugs don’t show their faces near any of the Templar headquarters, and no other Templars are disturbed by them. Even so, Haytham takes your report seriously a pulls a few strings to increase red coat patrols, especially around the mansion.
You don’t leave the fort much anyway, instead you opt to get some well earned rest, and quiz Haytham on who will be there. It seems anyone who is anyone in the Colonial rite will be there, wives, husbands, and children included - so this is not some mere party, this is a proper ball...and you’ve not been to one in years!
Your last has been an infiltration mission on behalf of the Assassins, an attempt to glean information off suspected Templars. Of course, being secretly a Templar yourself you had known instantly that the suspect was innocent, even when Liam insisted he knew he was, that he’d seen him meeting with other known Templars the day previous...oh, how little he knew. Even now as you remember it, you wish Achilles had picked Shay to attend with you and not Liam; it would have spared you from the dark eyed looks Hope had given you on your return.
As you sit in your rooms, half distracted by the view of the city from your window, you frown a little at the memories - these people are little more than ghosts now, thanks to the efforts of Shay. Their work was secret, so who is here to remember them aside from you and Shay - and Kilgore, of course. A sharp rapping on your door jolts you back to the present, the door swinging open to reveal a flushed Elizabeth and one of her sewing girls, carrying in a rather large box - ah, your dress has arrived.
“Evening, (Name),” she greets, ordering her underling to set the box down and shut the door, “I finished your dress and came here immediately, don’t want you to be late,”
Smiling at her, you are just about to nod your thanks when she claps her hands at you, ushering you from your seat.
“Up, girl, up, we need to get you dressed,” she huffs, practically dragging you across the room to stand you where she wants you - which is, in the very centre, so she and her underling have the space to maneuver around you.
Although you don’t necessarily enjoy the attention, you are happy to let yourself be dressed by the ladies, the fine fabric of the dress falling quickly around you as they dress you. Even without the mirror you can tell its spectacular, unfortunately however, such fine fabrics do carry a lot of weights, so you already can tell it will be cumbersome - nonetheless, you trust Elizabeth, and she would never have made anything too hard for you to move in.
Soon enough the dress is in place, the fit - as usual - perfect, and Elizabeth relishes in showing you just how well it fits in the mirror. Once the polished glass is brought to you, you gasp in surprise, the figure you see looking so unlike you...so much more like a high class lady, wearing the latest French fashions, as opposed to the stony faced warrior you usually are.
You have to admit...you like the change.
The skirt fans out at your waist, carried by the various petticoats and hoops beneath, it’s black fabric a soft silk, shining like storm clouds in moonlight around you. A deep, burning red lines the hem, matching the piping at the sleeves, which stop just before they reach your elbow. As promised, the neckline is scandalous, the tight fitting form pushing your breasts up to flaunt them off, vastly increasing the size they look - it’s not something you’re entirely comfortable with, after all, what’s wrong with your chest currently?
Twisted and shining, a rope of gold coils around your waist, swooping up to the front of the bodice, and fanning out into two, aurel wings at your front. These are mirrored by the wings of red and gold at the back, which are larger, and swoop out into the shawl like fabric that surrounds your shoulders. Turning in the mirror, you reach your arms our, smiling at the way the wings look like those on an eagle in flight.
“Nice touch, Liz,” you grin, wafting your arms back and forth, “This dress is amazing,”
“I expect no less of myself,” she tugs you away from the mirror, back towards your desk, “Now sit, it’s time for your hair,”
Although you didn’t ask for it, you know better than to argue with Elizabeth, and let her attack your hair with a comb and brush.
Half an hour later, with your hair swept into a glorious cascade down your back, with golden, wing like combs pinned in there - to match the ones on your dress - you bid goodbye to Elizabeth and her employee, and await for Shay to come and collect you.
He’d said he would over dinner yesterday, the mere mention of it sending a thrill through you - almost as if he is collecting you for a date.
Once you hear the knock on your door, you rise to your feet, smoothing out any creases in your skirt as you clear your throat.
“Come in,” you call out, your voice unintentionally song-like and high.
Creaking, the door swings open to reveal a smartly dressed Shay...well, he’s in his usual Templar regalia, however he has dropped the weapons, and given his buttons a good polish. The moment his eyes lay on you, the air crackles with a pulse of electricity, the shadows forming in his eyes sending your mind into dark, dark places.
“You look…” he hesitates, “Pretty,”
Ravishing , he means, beautiful.
Your eyes find his once more, to see they are trailing downwards, to the deep scoop of your neckline, only to snap up once he realises you’ve caught him. Although he offers you a sweet smile, you don’t miss the near feral glint in his eye - oh, who would have thought, the might Assassin Hunter would be felled by a few golden combs and a low neckline?
“Well, what are we waiting for?” your words snap Shay back into reality, however he still falters for a moment before stepping forward, procuring a little velvet covered box from seemingly nowhere.
“I, um, brought this for ya,” he offers it to you, “I thought you might want to wear it tonight,”
A small smile sketches onto your face as you approach, taking the box with a relish as you turn to open it. Even with your back to him, you can feel his eyes on you, watching your every move - and you can’t deny the rush of warmth it sends pulsing through you, to have him look at you like that. Flicking the box open, you inspect the contents within: a necklace, a small, ruby cast Templar cross on a golden chain. Looking at it again, you know it’s not something Shay would buy - this has Haytham written all over it, but you know exactly why Haytham has bought it on Shay’s behalf;
“It lovely, thank you,” you hand it back for Shay, your heart melting at the momentary look of sadness that crosses his face, “Care to help me put it on?”
Ah, there it is.
Shay freezes at your words, himself blushing at the prospect of helping you put it on - such a simple act, yet so, oddly intimate when shared between...between whatever the two of you are now. Still, you ignore the crackling in the air, and turn your back to Shay, lifting your hair with one hand to bear your neck to him. On silent feet, he crosses the gap between the two of you, the delicate chain grasped in his large hands looking so out of place. Once golden chain is around your neck, you feel the brush of Shay’s fingers against the nape of your neck, goosebumps rising involuntarily from the touch.
You have never quite realised how sensitive you are there, not until you feel the push of his hot breath against your skin, amplified by the tickle of the now clasped golden chain. Far too soon for your liking, he steps away, however he surprises you by stalking around you, to stand before you. Silhouetted against the streaks of sunlight from the window, his shadow looms over you as you stand there, his dark eyes soaking up the sight of you in your finery.
“May I?” he asks, gesturing to the cross at your throat - you hadn’t realised it was crooked. Struggling not to bite your lip, you merely nod at him - not trusting your words with this close proximity.
His touch is feather light, gently pulling at the cross to centre it on your chest. As he pulls away, his hands dips a little lower that intended, and thanks to the low neckline of your bodice, his fingertips brush against the soft skin of your breasts - if but for a moment. Within the second he has pulled away, uttering a hushed apology as he takes another step back from you.
“We, um,” he clears his throat, “We should get going, Haytham’s waiting for us in the carriage,”
Lips pursed, you nod silently, leading him from your room and into the hallway beyond. Ever the gentleman, Shay opens the carriage door for you, even offering you his hand to help you into it, which you are most thankful for with the voluminous skirts of your dress weighing you down. Unfortunately, these skirts take up the majority of the seat, leaving Shay little choice but to squeeze in next to Haytham, who shoots you a secret wink from across the carriage as he notices the necklace around your neck.
Upon arrival at the mansion, you are ushered from the carriage by a well dressed footman, who nods his welcome to the Grandmaster and his guests, before leading you all up the stairs to the warm glow of the house - where the ball looks to be in full swing. Haytham is announced first, the guests all coming to a stop as he strides into the candlelit ballroom, looking ever the strong, powerful leader he is.
Conversation has begun again by the time the doorman announces you and Shay, yet you are aware of a few sultry eyed glances from some of the men in the room - helped by the scandalously low neckline of your gown. Shay notices too, as he notices your hesitance also, and so offers you his arm as a way of staving the lecherous men off you. In one corner, a string quartet plays the latest airs from Europe, while servants bearing the Templar cross diffuse through the crowds, handing out delicate flutes of fine wine and champagne to the guests.
With your arm looped through his, you allow Shay to guide you through the room, nodding and smiling at everyone as you go, until he reaches the far side where Gist awaits. Already he is chatting up some girl, her youthful beauty marking her as the daughter of some master Templar - but which, you have yet to work out.
“Ah, Shay! You’ve finally made it,” Gist greets, “I was nearly replacing you with Abigail here! But anyway, Shay, (Name), meet Abigail, daughter of...uh,”
“Captain John Ross,” she confirms, giggling at Gist’s forgetfulness.
John Ross? Don’t know him.
Whether Shay recognises the name or not, he doesn’t show it, instead he makes a show of bidding Abigail a good evening, half nudging you forward to do the same. You can’t help but admire the pale mint colour of her dress, it’s design rich yet simple, the colour matching the silken ribbons in her dark brown hair, which is tied up in a very complicated updo that you barely understand.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Abigail,” you smile at her,knowing it’s never too late to forge new friendships, “Your dress is lovely,”
At your compliment, her face lights up, her chocolate eyes shimmering in candlelight.
“Thank you very much, (Name), though I must admit, mine is no match for yours - yours is a work of art,” she gushes, one hand straying out to caress the soft fabric, before she remembers herself and pulls back, giving a shy glance to Shay at your side, “You match your husband too,”
Both Shay and Gist stifle chuckles at her words, and you find yourself blushing at the thought, however the notion does stir something inside you...you had never considered being mistook for a wedded couple before.
“Oh, we’re not...um,” you stammer, taken aback by her suggestion - however your words are cut off by Shay turning towards you for a moment.
“Aha, we always try to match,” he offers a gentle pat on your shoulder, the playful glimmer in his eye telling you to play along, “We’ve been married little over a year now, you know,”
Before you realise what’s happening, he has your hand in his, bringing it up to his lips for a gentle kiss. His lips are feather soft, and the touch sparks something deep within you, sending a deep blush roaring to your cheeks.
“Ahh, she still blushes after all this time,” Shay smirks at you, fully aware of the effect he has on you. What game does he think he’s playing?
All the while, Abigail gazes at the two of you in awe, no doubt dreaming of a marriage such as yours- well, your fake one, at least.
“Me and Gist are most likely going to be talking ships, I’m sure you don’t want to be bored by it,” he presses another kiss to your hand, sending another jolt of something new, something unknown through you, “Do come find me when you’d like to dance, my love ,”
The way he purrs those last two words nearly sends your legs to jelly; it takes all your willpower to stay upright and smiling, to turn away from your escort with the deep, rumbling voice, and to lace your arm through Abigail’s, claiming her as your friend.
“Wow,” she sighs, once the two of you have moved away from them, “He really adores you! Father is always trying to find a suitable man for me to marry, though I so wish I could marry for love - nearly every week he sends me out with another man, some have been as old as him!”
Again, you find yourself blushing. Maybe, maybe the adoration she saw was all part of this act Shay is putting on for some godforsaken reason, it couldn’t be real, could it?
“But, oh! You don’t have a ring,” Abigail has hold of your hand now, looking mildly dismayed at the lack of ring on your hand. Ah, Shay didn’t think that one through, did he?
Deciding to play your own game, you put on a coy smirk and lean a little closer to Abigail, only now noticing just how young she is...maybe you shouldn’t - but, she seems old enough to know, so…
“No, he bought me something else instead,” you bite your lip and make a show of glancing around you, as if to ward away any eavesdroppers, “Something for the bedroom,”
At your words, Abigail gasps, and for a moment you think you’ve implied something far too scandalous for her, yet she follows it up with a delighted squeal.
“Goodness! He didn’t did he? Oh my,” she sighs, a dreamy look appearing in her eyes, “Forgive me if you find me...to forward, but I must say you are a lucky woman to have found such a generous man...handsome too,”
You have to admit, she’s not wrong. Shay is a beautiful man, it’s impossible to deny.
“Keep talking to Gist, and you’ll find yourself a similar man,” you poke her, grinning as she blushes - oh she’s smitten with Gist, and you hope for her sake he wasn’t just mindlessly flirting again.
Wherever your conversation is heading to next, you will not find out, as Abigail is summoned to the other side of the room by who you presume to be her father, wanting to present her to Master Kenway. Her rushed goodbye as she composes herself leaves you alone once more, so you gravitate back to Shay and Gist - with their new company of Charles Lee.
Oh great. Your favourite man.
Chapter 11: ELEVEN - A Waltz in the Night
uhhhh i may have forgotten about this oof, ill get back on it soon i promise - part 2 of ball scene ;)
“Care for a dance, my love?” you wind your arm through Shay’s again, smirking as you see Charles’ pointed look towards the action.
“You two are…” he mutters, frowning a little as Shay intertwined his fingers with yours.
“Of course, my dear,” he confirms, his voice oh so sickly sweet, “Now, if you’ll excuse us, Charles,”
As the two of you meander through the crowds to the centre of the room, Shay explains to you that Lee was simply there to boast to Shay, as if to say he has a much better life. Hm, you do remember when Haytham left with Shay a few years ago to stop Achilles and Liam, Lee was very much put out of joint by the whole thing; he sees Shay as a contender for Haytham’s trust.
Lee would be happy being the little lapdog, and he still is. Shay is more of a friend to Haytham than he ever will be, even if they do have ‘farms in spitting distance from each other’.
The two of you pause by the dancefloor, where other couples are dancing a lively waltz. The music is old, at least ten years you estimate going off the memories you have of it, and you distinctly recognise the work as one of Bach’s. Already your foot is tapping to the 1-2-3-1-2-3 of the rhythm, waiting for the right opportunity to join in. At the thought of actually having to dance, Shay looks a little uneasy, but once he’s watched the others for a bit, the simple rise and fall of the steps, he settles a little, eager to pull you onto the polished floor for a dance.
The two of you whirl around in time with the others, your skirts darker than any other on the floor, making you stand out like a dark rose in a garden of pink. Even as you dance, you see other girls eye your dress enviously, as their partners eye Shay up - jealous that he is dancing with the prettiest of them all. Although the dance does not require it, the two of you wind closer and closer together, your chests pressed and your faces blushingly close. The true scandal of it all is the music stopping all too soon, yet both you and Shay linger in position for a moment, his gaze dropping to your lips
You don’t even realise it, but soon you have pulled Shay from the building entirely, instead heading to the lantern lit gardens, which twinkle under the pale moonlight.and you swear his head leans forward a fraction. But all too soon he has pulled away, taking your hand once more as he tugs you from the ballroom, and out into the lantern lit garden, where the full moon smiles down upon the winding paths, bathing everything in silver.
For a while the two of you walk in silence, meandering through the pathways of flowers arm in arm - almost as if the two of you are husband and wife. When the path splits in two, you pull him instead down the glittering one, where the gravel gives way to the oil-treated wood of the half-moon bridge, which rises over the lazy flow of the molten silver stream.
Letting go of him, you saunter half way, pausing at the apex of the bridge to turn around - not realising Shay had followed you closely behind. Oh, your nose nearly brushes against his as you whirl around, your hand coming up between your chests.
“So, married for a year, eh?” you laugh, your voice softer, quieter than intended.
“Yeah, thought we could have some fun,” he smirks back, his dark eyes gleaming in the moonlight.
“Just some fun?” you whisper, unable to stop the pounding in your chest, “Abigail said she saw the adoration in your eyes...is that some fun too?”
At this, he pauses. His eyes flicker shut for a brief moment, and he places his hand against yours, holding it over his heart, so you may feel the pounding of his heart too.
“No,” he mutters simply, “Not just some fun,”
His other hand graces the back of your head, tilting it back just enough to look into your eyes properly. With movements so gentle they seem unreal, he pulls you ever so closer to him, his lips pressing against yours so lightly - like a dream.
Your breaths come thick and heavy as you tug at his chest, pulling him ever so closer as you mould your lips to his, stars flashing behind your closed eyes with the increasing pressure of his lips. This one is real.
Not an escape technique, not something to run from - it is real. His hands twist in your hair, threatening to ruin the golden combs embedded in your cascading locks, the tug of it is enough to bring you back to your senses. Breaking the kiss, you pull back just a little bit, enough so you may look into his eyes properly once again.
Between you, your breaths cloud into puffs of condensation, dissipating when Shay drags you in for another kiss, this one more urgent, more needy. The sheer thrill of it sucks the breath from you, a low moan rolling from your throat as his tongue swipes against your lips, before slipping in to dominate your mouth. Sucking in a breath through your nose, you move your hands to his head, stroking the soft locks there as you deepen the kiss. God. It is real.
When the need for air drives the two of you apart, you both remain entangled in each others arms, pressing gentle kisses now and then to stave off the cold moonlight.
“Shay,” you breathe, echoes of the kiss all those years ago at the Homestead flashing in your mind.
“Please,” he pleads, “Please don’t run away this time,”
It seems those memories are burnt into his mind too, the fear he felt when the others discovered you gone - the rage he felt when you were found to be a Templar...the same rage that fuelled his defection to the very order he had been trained to hate.
Lacing your fingers through his, you hold his hands close to you.
“I won't, Shay, I promise I won’t,”
With your words, your heart flutters, stuttering when he gives you a look of utter adoration...ah, you see what Abigail was saying.
“Good, I’ve no intention of letting you go,” he leans closer, his lips tickling at your ear as he pulls you into a warm embrace.
Even with the layers of your dress, you can almost feel the racing of his pulse through his body, centred at the booming heartbeat against your chest - which is pressed up against his, causing your breasts to ride up a little further. As Shay returns his attention to your lips, his touches turn sensual, his hands going to paw at your waist through the embroidered bodice of your gown, and one leg rising up between your own. Now you feel him, that growing hardness of him that summons something deep within you, something warm, something desperate - oh.
When you pull away for air once more, Shay instead busies himself with the delicate skin of your neck, his teeth nipping at the skin only to be soothed by the hot pressure of his lips once more - oh, when he finds that sweet spot at the crook of your neck and latches on….your legs almost turn to jelly. The feeling tears a shattering moan from you as you lean on his for support, especially when you feel the calluses of one hand rake over the tops of your breasts, caressing them in a way that has your mind screaming for you to take him there and then.
“Hmm Shay, we can’t do this here,” you grit out, suddenly conscious of your visibility on the moonlit bridge. Although you know everyone else is enjoying the ball, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if someone was to wander away, perhaps seeking joy in the arms of another - just as you are.
“Shall I call the carriage?” he straightens himself out, your neck feeling sorely cold without his lips there, “And we can pick this up at the Fort?”
Smirking at him, you nod, your arm already laced through his again as the two of you saunter back through the tumbling rose gardens as if nothing has happened. You barely register the blast of warmth surrounding you when you reenter the ballroom, nor the smirk and the wink Haytham shoots your way as you allow Shay to lead you through the hall. Luckily for the two of you, the carriage is close by, the driver happy to be of service once he sees the two of you approaching.
Once inside the carriage, Shay wastes no time in pulling you close to him once more, his lips latching onto your throat again as it jolts into action, the clip-clop of hoofbeats drowning out your whimpers of pleasure as his hands stroke at your jaw and chest. Outside, the dark streets are silent, the stillness broken only by the lone howl of a hound somewhere within the towering buildings. Leaning back against the seat with a moan, you succumb to the workings of Shay’s lips, allowing him to continue his sensual assault on your own lips and neck as you relax. Through half lidded eyes you watch the city pass by, the familiar turns of the road letting you know exactly how close to the fort you are. However, something makes you freeze.
A shadow on the rooftops, dark and sinister against the white disc of the moon. It is there and, after a second, is gone again.
“Shay,” you grip his shoulder, the sight unsettling you, “Shay stop for a moment,”
Worried he has done something wrong, he removes himself from you, looking immediately to your eyes to search for anything wrong.
“What’s the matter, lass? You okay?”
Peering out of the little window in the door once more, you squint against the encroaching darkness - hoping to god your mind was seeing things.
“ I’m fine,” you mutter, “I saw something, out there, on the rooftops,”
At that, Shay stiffens a little. Unless the local drunkards have taken up free-running, it’s clear the figure on the roof is going to be dangerous for you. Swearing, Shay flops back in his seat for a moment, before remembering the case of weapons stored beneath the floor of the carriage - left there by Kenway in case of emergencies, in case of moments like this. If it comes to it, he can fight, he’s wearing suitable clothes to do so, you however...well, you’ve never tried fighting in a dress, and you don’t quite fancy getting blood all over this find gown.
Not today, at least.
As Shay pokes about the floor, finding the latch, you keep watch at the window - warning him when you are sure you see the figure again. In the starlight, they move quickly, precisely, with all the skill you’d expect a master Assassin to possess. Grunting, Shay pulls open the case with a puff of dust, already busying himself with finding a good sword. Not keeping your eyes off that creeping shadow, you reach out for the gilded gun lingering at the edge of the box, taking a dagger too for good measure.
Now armed, Shay bangs on the roof of the carriage, telling the driver to stop. Lingering for but a moment, he presses a gentle kiss against your lips, before slipping out of the carriage to converse with the driver. Through the door, you strain to hear his words, but it soon becomes clear of his plan: the driver is to return you to the Mansion as fast as possible, and Shay is going to scout out for the shadow.
“Shay wait,” you crack open the door just a little, stopping him in his tracks, “It could be Samuel Kilgore, be alert...he was always the best at sneaking up unawares,”
“I know,” he says, “I’ll do my best - I need you to tell Kenway what you’ve seen,”
With that - he’s gone, fading into the night as if he was never there. Your return to the mansion is swift, your arrival met with odd looks from those who had seen you leave not moments ago.
Upon noticing you, Haytham immediately makes his way over to you, sure something is wrong, on his way he is intercepted by a young lad, also bearing the Templar cross on a pin at his chest. He mutters something to the Grandmaster, who’s face draws tight at whatever he’s saying, before he makes a beeline for you.
“(Name), walk with me a second,” Kenway’s voice is tense, his brows drawn as he ushers you from the main hall.
“Shay’s gone out to scout, but I saw someone tailing us from the rooftops on our way to the fort,” you explain once alone, his grim faced nod confirming your suspicions - the young lad had news of a breach.
“Good, I’m going to go and join him,” he grimaces, “That boy just told me two guards have been killed at the Greenwich Headquarters, both stabbed in the neck - one of the other guards said they saw a man with grey robes hanging around the place just before,”
“It’s Samuel Kilgore,” you explain, “Probably hoping he can deter us from hunting him down too,”
Haytham doesn’t respond to that, instead he points to the stairs.
“The room on the far left, it’s yours by the way, it has some spare robes I had made for you,” he nods, “Go and get changed, then meet me down here, we need to find this Kilgore,”
Unsurprised that Haytham had squirreled away more spare clothes for you - gah, they must be dotted all over the colonies by now - you simply obey his order, heading up to the specified room to do as he says.
With a sigh of resignation you realise you won’t be getting that alone time with Shay tonight, nor will he have the satisfaction of peeling this lovely dress from you - instead, you are to hunt down an Assassin who is no doubt hunting you too.
Hah, you knew the joys of this evening were too good to be true. Back to the day job; killing Assassins.
Chapter 12: TWELVE - CHASING KILGORE
im back lads!! Finished my 58k novel so I have more time to devote to this...
Pale and sorrowful, the sullen disc of the moon peers down from the black canvas of the sky, painting it with pinpricks of white. With the light from the smattering of stars high above, the roofs of New York are clear against the night, the grey, dormant streets broken by pools of golden light spilling from the various pubs on streets corners. One would believe the city was utterly peaceful looking at it like this; you know better, however. You know that beneath this veneer of tranquility lies the dealings of criminal syndicates, of drunkards left without a home - of Assassins threatening to spoil the city once more. Even with your vantage point on the church steeple, you can see no movement on the rooftops, only that of Shay, who leaps from house to house with such ease and grace - from this distance, he almost looks like a spider, out hunting for it’s next prey. Flicking your gaze to the side, you spot Haytham stalking the streets, his eyes peeled for any signs of Assassins, specifically Samuel Kilgore.
It’s been at least two hours since you set out to find him, after seeing the shadow tailing your carriage. Two hours, and nothing to show for it. You’ve wasted a good night for a fruitless search - and it’s time to give up. Resigning to your defeat, you begin to shimmy down from the roof, stopping only when you see a flash of blue out of the corner of your eyes.
Following the flash, you see a hooded form leaping from roof to roof, following the path Shay has made not two minutes ago...oh, he’s chasing him, trying to sneak up. From where you are, it will take you at least five minutes to reach him, and who knows where he will have run to by then - you just have to hope Shay keeps leading him in a circle. As you make your descent, you plan your path across the rooftops, still keeping one eye on your target. If you catch him, you aren’t entirely sure what you’ll do. Knocking him out seems the best bet, that way you can let Kenway decide what to do...but killing him outright would be so much easier for everyone. No, you’re not an Assassin, and you never have been, and that’s not the way Templars do things.
Knock out it is, then.
As graceful as the finest Russian Ballerina, you leap over chimneys and tiled ridges, the roofs passing fast beneath your light feet. Wind whips as you, billowing your hood into a dark halo around your face, if Kilgore is to turn, he would see a silhouette angel, dark and shadowed, racing towards him, fists clenched and ready to strike. Ahead of you, Shay has clocked Kilgore’s tailing, but has yet to realise you are coming too - hm, maybe he will be fine on his own..but you’re halfway here now, you may as well go the whole way. Kilgore is now barely a few feet in front of you, still not noticing your approach. You use this to your advantage, the leverage of the slanted roof enough for you to leap from above, quashing your fall with his body.
A sharp crack echoes into the night, and you pray to God it’s one of his bones and not yours.
Kilgore squeams beneath you, twisting and turning to break free from your grasp. Blades out, he claws at your arms, landing a few wicked feeling scratches through the fabric of your coat. Without warning, he uses his full weight to flip the two of you over - forcing you painfully close to the cusp of the roof, the street suddenly feeling miles below you.
“Bitch,” he snarls, eyes wild, “You can never eradicate the Creed - we are eternal,”
Ignoring him, you spot the awkward angle of his leg: you must’ve broken it when you jumped him, however the pulse of the fight has yet to leave him, and the pain has yet to find him.
“Cormac may have killed most of us - but we will rise again, we always do,” he continues, unaffected by your attempts to kick him off you, “No matter how much you put us down,”
Again, he releases his blades, their polished edge looking horribly sharp against the moonlight. Knock him out? Scrap that, he’s about to stab you...but two can play at that game. Your own blades hiss as they shoot out, flashing in the moonlight to warn Kilgore of them, to which he merely smirks.
“Nice try,” he laughs, his arm coming down fast towards you.
Your eyes slam shut of their own accord, so tight you can almost see the scarlet flashes of your blood pounding through your veins, echoed by the throbbing, drum-beat in your ears - waiting, waiting for that killing blow.
But it doesn’t come.
Instead, you feel the liberation of his weight slipping off you, leaving you free to slide back from the edge as you crack your eyes open again. Kilgore lies silent on the tiles, the telltale feathers of a sleep dart protruding from his shoulder and, framed by the first rays of dawn, stands Shay on the next roof over, his rifle still aimed at Kilgore.
Sitting up, you drink in the sight of him, his dark robes fringed with golden light, his chocolate hair painted with a halo of brightness: a guardian angel. Still not taking your eyes off him, you rise to your feet, following his movements as he advances over to where you stand. With the air rifle back in its holster on his back, Shay frees up his arms to take you into them, crushing you against his chest. Barely two seconds have passed and he’s released you, turning his attentions instead to Kilgore.
“He nearly killed you,” he frowns.
“Yeah,” you join him, “And would have succeeded had you not shot him,”
Shay remains silent for a moment, glaring at the man on the floor.
“Best get him to Kenway, then,”
With Kilgore trussed up in ropes and dispensed in one of the outhouses - of course with a selection of guards to watch over him - you quit the gleaming rays of dawn, choosing instead to huddle deep into the covers of your bed for that much needed sleep. In fact, all three of you have done so, the exception being Gist, who is more than happy to potter about downstairs on his own, attending to the little plants he keeps around the place. Despite the events of last night, the thrill of the hunt still held you, making whatever sleep you managed to get light, and fitful. It is noon by the time you hear a quiet knock on your door, and you crack your eyes open but a fraction to see Shay waiting for you in the doorway, dressed only in his undershirt and breeches.
“Hey lass, time to get up,” he greets, coming to sit on the end of the bed, “Kenway wants us downstairs soon, we need to interrogate kilgore,”
At that, you crumple a little - can’t you have one day of rest, or is that too much to ask?
“I just-ugh,” you pull yourself up, “I just can’t be bothered,”
Smirking, Shay shuffles ever so closer to you, his shallow breaths pooling against your skin. Without realising, you lean forwards too, lips puckered in anticipation of the kiss to come - unlike the passion and fury of last night, these come gently, his lips like butterflies’ wings across your own.
“Me too, lass,” he chuckles, “But we are Templars first, before anything else,”
Although you don’t show it, you feel a pang of sadness in your heart at his words; the two of you will always be bound to the Order, and that must always come first. Swinging your legs out of bed, you release a loud yawn, much to the amusement of Shay, who lingers at the door for a moment.
“Kenway said...we should wait to eat after, he doesn’t want either of us spilling out lunch everywhere once we get to Kilgore,” with that, he is gone, leaving you to grimace at the meaning behind his words: things are going to get messy.
Shrugging on your clothes, you mentally prepare yourself for the sight to come, but you can’t complain, it is to be expected. All Assassins are trained not to give up information, not without any prompting at least - Haytham will no doubt have to torture it out of him. And for some damned reason he wants you present.
With your weapons clashing at your hips, you walk out into the hallway where Shay awaits you, looking slightly pale at the prospect of what is to come. The two of you suck in deep breaths simultaneously, as you walk through the door into the afternoon haze. The sound of shouting echoes across the courtyard, guiding you to the outbuilding where Kilgore is - if it wasn’t obvious by the smattering of guards surrounding it.
Outside the open doors, Haytham stalks up and down, his fury evident even from this distance.
“You call yourself soldiers?” he snaps at them, “You are fools! Not fit to serve anyone!”
Exchanging a glance with Shay, you pick up your pace to reach Haytham faster, hands already straying to your weapons in case things get ugly.
“What’s goin’ on, sir?” Shay calls out first, bringing the Grandmaster away from his fury.
“These... idiots didn’t notice Kilgore espacing - and failed to tell me he had done so until now,” Haytham says, still seething.
Even though you feel disappointed at the lost opportunity, you can’t help that sense of relief that floods through you. Hey, at least you’ll be able to eat lunch, now. If Shay shares the same thought, he doesn’t show it, instead he merely purses his lips, shooting a dark glare over Kenway’s shoulder to the guards beyond.
“Damn,” he breathes, “What next?”
“You two will have to find him again,” Haytham pushes past you, already storming towards the fort once more while the guards remain in place, frozen out of fear at what the furious man will do to them - God, Haytham can be terrifying when he is angry.
“With what lead?” you jog behind him, “And didn’t you say only yesterday that finding the precursor box is now Shay’s priority?”
Haytham’s cloak flies out behind him as he ascends the stairs, looking for all the world like an eagle taking flight - once he reaches the top, he pauses, his brows raising as he forms a plan in his mind.
“We may not know the location of Kilgore and his lot, but we do know for sure where one Assassin is,” he actually smiles for once, “I knew something good would come of you sparing him, Shay,”
Both you and Shay freeze at that. There’s only one Assassin Shay has spared.
“You don’t mean for us to visit-”
“Achilles? Of course I do,” Haytham turns heel, walking to the Fort and leaving you and Shay to mull over his words.
Oh no. He really intends for you to visit the Assassin mentor, now reportedly alone on his homestead. Kenway may have injured him, but he surely can still aim a gun - and you don’t fancy getting shot now.
But, if Kenway commands it, you must obey.