Chapter 2 – Shattered dreams
Altair opened his eyes.
'W...where?' He thought to himself confused as his bleary eyes focused his vision becoming clear before he looked around; it was his room, he was in his room in Masyaf...so what had awoken him? "Altair!" The male almost jumped a mile as he spun his right hand behind him, reaching for the blade he always had tucked under the thin blankets that were his bed, but he relaxed upon seeing it was only another assassin.
"Kadar" Altair said after a moment as he recognized the other; the young assassin was grinning at him his blue eyes alight in excitement as he stared down at his idol with almost loving eyes "What is it?"
"Don't you remember? You promised you'd train with me today" Kadar said with a little frown, so much so he was almost pouting "Your not usually this forgetful...not that there's anything wrong with it! You are the best right?" He said with a little laugh; it sounded a little nervous, but the other worshipped the ground Altair waked on; he was the prodigy of the assassin brotherhood, and Kadar and Malik just happened to be friends with him; it was something that Malik had always despaired of.
"Yes, yes I remember, I guess I overslept" He replied as he sat up slowly " Is Malik coming with us?" he asked with a raised eyebrow; somehow he doubted it, the other always did hate to get up when he didn't have to.
Kadar shook his head "He threw a pillow at me and told me to go away" Kadar said with a chuckle "You know what my brother is like, he hates getting up for the crack of dawn if he doesn't have to" He said simply with a little shrug.
Altair groaned a little as he sat up slowly and raked a hand through his short dark hair his golden eyes regarding the other assassin; Kadar was short; shorter than Altair and Malik by at least a head, he had soft brown hair and blue eyes; he was youthful looking and didn't look a day over 16 even though he was 5 months off being 20; it didn't help his care free attitude was almost as childish as many perceived him to be.
"Alright I'm up just given me a moment to wake up" He said as he swatted the other away playfully, which made Kadar chuckle as he stood and turned to leave.
"Your almost as grumpy as (1) akhoya first thing in the morning he teased before he left with a light hearted laugh; that was Kadar for you, no matter what the situation Kadar would always give you a soft smile you just couldn't help but to return.
Altair cracked his neck and back lazily, wincing as he felt his spine pop in response all the way down before he got up, using a small basin of water he freshened up before he dressed and slid on his weapons.
He headed out up to the roof where he knew Kadar would be; they always performed a leap of faith before they trained in a way it was supposed to get the adrenaline rushing so they'd be more alert during training. "About time brother" Kadar said with a grin, his hood down; he never did like it up most of the time "Ready to go?"
"After you, novice" He said with a smirk under his hood as he gestured a hand to the small platform where they could perform leaps of faith. Kadar blinked at that before he flushed a bit; he was always nervous when he did leaps of faith, more than once novices had broken limbs or even died from such a fall.
He licked his lips nervously before he took a deep breath; assassin's do not fear death they were supposed to embrace it, he stood slowly at the edge, looking down at the haystack below; Altair watched him he was sure Kadar's heart was thudding hard in his chest "Kadar; its a leap of faith for a reason, you have to believe in your own judgement; believe in that and you will not be afraid"
".." Kadar looked back at him surprised at such words of wisdom from the other; such snippets were rare seen as Altair preferred action to words. The younger assassin was grateful however and he took a slow deep breath, before he smiled softly that red tinge still on his cheeks before he turned back and after a moment he jumped; he soared through the air, before he fell to the ground and landed safety in the straw. "Whoo!" He yelled and he sat up his messy hair full of straw.
Altar chuckled at that as he stood, once Kadar got out of the straw, he jumped landing into the pile of hay next to the younger assassin who as still pulling straw out of his hair. "Its much better when you aren't afraid before hand isn't it?" Altair said with a raised eyebrow as he brushed straw off his shoulders amused.
"Yeah, you should become an instructor when your older Altair" Kadar said with a grin before he growled and pulled some straw from out of his robes "I just wish this stuff wouldn't get everywhere!"
"You missed some" He said softly as he reached out and plucked a strand of straw out of the others hair, a little amused at Kadar's sheepish expression at that "Heh I guess so" He said before he coughed a bit "So, what are you going to teach me today? I can't wait to start" He said as he headed towards the training arena in the courtyard.
"You seem to have a grasp of the teachings well enough" He said softly "But I've never seen you in hand to hand combat, such things are essential if your going to become a master assassin" Altair said softly "Kadar if your unarmed completely then what else can you rely on other than your own bare hands?" He asked amused "First I'll teach you how to disarm someone and then we'll get onto hand to hand combat" He said.
Kadar warmed up with a grin; he always likes his lessons with Altair; the other was always blunt and straight to the point and seemed a much better teacher than the other instructors. Altair taught the other how to disarm someone, and then Kadar practised disarming him; Kadar was quite a quick learner though he still needed to master the technique he got the grasp of it quickly.
"Alright you have the basics, it's up to you to perfect it" He said softly "Alright now lets get to the hand to hand combat" He said softly as he unstrapped his hidden blade ans set it aside; he didn't want to hurt the other; and it was habit to always go for the kill, it was how they were trained.
"Alright, lets see your approach, come at me" Altair said with a smirk as Kadar swallowed and licked his lips a little nervously; Altair was one of the best fighters so to just rush in would be stupid; Altair had to say he was impressed Kadar was regarding his move carefully before the teen lashed out aiming for the stomach, Altair side stepped and dodged before he grabbed the others out stretched arm and twisted it behind his back, earning a yelp of surprise and discomfort from the other.
"Your too slow, not only that you make your next move obvious to an opponent who reads body language, you need to be more subtle, but, it is good you thought a little about your approach before you attacked; rushing in without some sort of plan will get you killed"
He released the other and rolled his shoulders lazily "Lets try again" He said softly as he got into a defensive position. They wet at this for hours back and forth Altair correcting the others posture and grip in certain positions, but by the end of it they were laughing and wrestling together on the floor; all seriousness gone, they were simply wrestling around for fun.
"Gotcha!" Kadar said as he laughed and held Altair in a head lock before he let out an 'oof' as Altair flipped him over and pinned him down his arms above his head "Or...maybe not" He panted softly with a sweatdrop; he shouldn't have spoken too soon.
Altair chuckled softly a soft smile on his face "Almost, but you'll have to do better than that to best me" He said simply with a little shrug. Kadar just nodded and flushed softly as he watched Altair move off him.
Altair didn't notice, he never noticed such things "Let's go meet up with Malik in the mess hall" He said softly as he began re-attaching his weapons "We can tell him what you learnt today" Kadar nodded as he brushed the dust off his robes and followed the other like a lovesick puppy a smile on his face as he followed the Assassin into Masayf.
"Brother!" Kadar greeted Malik who waved sullenly a grumpy looking expression on his face; "What up did someone toss you off the wrong side of bed?" He teased earning a scowl from his brother, which Kadar cheerfully ignored.
"I had to get up, Al Mualim's got an assignment for me in Damascus" he said as he picked at his food lazily.
"Awww really? I was going to tell you about how my training with Altair went" Kadar said with a soft pout "It was brilliant brother, I learnt some new hand to and techniques and-" He blinked at the venomous glare he was getting and quickly shut up; if Malik was in that much of a bad mood it was better to keep silent.
Altair however never shut up'; he never feared in revoking his older brothers wrath "What's wrong with you? Did one of the novices dump water on you again because your such a grouch?" He asked as he broke off some bread with his hands and popped a piece into his mouth with a smirk.
"Shut up Altair I'm in no mood for you today" He hissed
"Your never in any mood for me these days" Altair said with a frown; Malik's temper and attitude towards him had been increasingly hostile over the past few months but he had no idea why, that's why he spent time training with Kadar instead; at least the younger A'Sayf brother had a smile on his face.
"Brother, if something is bothering you, you need to tell us, were your friends" Kadar said softly as he watched his brother concerned; Malik looked from Altair to Kadar before he snorted and stood "I need to get ready" He said before he turned and left.
"Brother wait!" Kadar looked to Altair who nodded and gave him a gentle push, urging him to follow, before he ran after Malik; if anyone could calm Malik it was his younger brother. Altair sighed; he didn't know what was going on but Malik wasn't being himself; sure Malik was a grouch sometimes, and sure sometimes they disagreed and ended up fighting but most of the time they were...friends right? "..."
"Wake up" Altair blinked at the voice and looked around but no one was talking to him and the mess hall was mostly empty "Wake up Altair" the voice said again.
So he did.
"Wake UP Altair! Don't make me...kick you in the ribs!" Malik threatened as he shook the other awake; the other might have been injured but he couldn't spend all day sleeping, at least not without having his bandages changed and having something to eat.
"Ugh...Malik?" Altair cracked open his eyes sleepily before he focused on the one arms rafiq "...Hmm..." He sat up slowly hissing in surprise as pain returned to him and reminded him he was injured, gently he pressed a hand to his wound and looked over at the Rafiq "...how long have I been out?" He asked; last thing he remembered was seeing the entrance of the bureau and then he passed out.
"Around 12 hours, its the middle of the morning right now, and injured or not you can't lie in the sun all day and not eat" He huffed as he offered the other his arm which Altair took and gently he struggled to his feet; he felt dizzy from all the blood he'd lost and had to use the wall for support "Thanks..." He murmured softly as he raked a hand through his short hair as he followed the rafiq into the bureau, where a small meal was already laid out for the both of them.,
"I sent word to Masayf that you were injured and your return might be delayed" He said simply as he watched Altair pour a cup of water for himself and took a long drink.
"You shouldn't have, now the boys are going to fuss over me; you know how sneaky they are, they'll find out" Altair said with a sigh
"Like father, like sons then" Malik said with a smirk as he picked up a slice of bread and began eating it with some hummus, Altair just groaned at that and said nothing to that; the boys were JUST like Altair and he knew it; they were smart and sneaky and already at the tender age of five could run rings around most of the assassin recruits.
"I wouldn't advise leaving yet anyway; the death you caused today has caused quite a disturbance; they know your injured and have increased patrols and are searching doctors surgeries trying to look for you; luckily they won't look here hmm?" Malik said softly.
"Yes, very lucky; It seems I owe you once again" He said simply before he paused "...You know, I had the strangest dream while I was unconscious..."
"Oh?" Malik asked with a raised eyebrow; Altair wasn't one to share dreams with him.
"Its was about you and Kadar" He said bluntly; he saw Malik tense up but ignored it; they couldn't skirt the subject of Kadar forever; he knew he was forgiven but...they never talked about him, they never discussed him at all and he knew it was a sore subject for the other.
"..." Malik didn't answer to that as he stopped eating and glared at the the other fro brining his brother up; he felt anger well up inside him as his hands shook; he knew he shouldn't let it get to him but he couldn't stop his emotions when it came to his brother.
"...How long are we NOT going to talk about him Malik? Its been five years; you say you forgive me but any mention of him and you close up; you know what your problem is? You, didn't allow yourself to grieve" He said softly.
Altair was expecting the punch he let it happen as his face turned from the impact he raised a hand and rubbed his reddening cheek softly "That all you got?" He mocked with a raised eyebrow "Your only hitting me, because you know I'm right Malik, you think if you grieve you'll forget him! But you wont, you need to wake up!" Altair grunted, the second hit surprise him; knocking him off his stool and sending him crashing to the floor a little dazed as pain blazed in the same cheek, he slowly got to his feet "You want to fight over this? Fine bring it on, you know you'll lose" He hissed.
Malik saw red; he didn't want to talk about his brother; his sweet younger brother who didn't have a bad bone in his body, who was kind and loved by all in Masayf, who worshipped the man who got him killed; his sweet little brother who confessed he felt for Altair as more than a brother, who apologised, because he knew Malik felt the same. "Shut UP!" He snarled before he pounced on Altair knocking them both to the floor; he forgot Altair was hurt; he forgot about his feelings for him; all he cared about was making him shut up about things that were too painful fro him right now.
Altair growled as he quickly had the other pinned his only arm twisted behind his back as Altair sat on his back keeping him down "You always WERE shit at hand to hand combat Malik" He growled "Now listen to me! Kadar was the nicest guy I ever met and he was my friend, and no matter how many times I say sorry I cant bring him back Malik! You need to accept he's gone...you need to let him go, if you don't your always going to be this bitter whenever we talk about him and I don't want that...HE wouldn't want that...Malik your not the only one that hurt when Kadar died...do you think I'm heartless? That I could just forget him like that?"
Malik growled as he struggled to free himself but it was useless; even if he did have his other arm, he's still be unable to break out of the others grip as he listened; he knew Altair was cocky, stubborn and all around block headed at times, he could be cold and callous but at the same time he could be kind and generous...but heartless was not a word he would use for the other. However it didn't stop the ache in his heart at the others words "You didn't watch him die! You didn't watch him bleed to death in your arms, hoping you'd come back! He had faith in you, right until the very end, he believed that you'd come and save us and you didn't! He died worshipping you!" He screamed into the floor.
"..." Altair sighed softly before he let him go "...I'm sorry Malik...I don't know what else to say" He said softly he was only half expecting the third punch to the face and rubbed his face absently before he blinked as Malik rested his head against Altair's chest and shook softly as he started to cry into his shoulder.
"...Malik..." Altair didn't know what to do; he hadn't seen Malik cry since they were children, he gently wrapped an arm around him and held him close as he cried on his shoulder and rubbed his back gently; he knew he'd provoked this, for the others own good mind, but he never thought that the other would break down so easily. He just held the other closely and sighed as he closed his eyes and let Malik cry until he was worn out and couldn't any more.
"...You, are an idiot" Malik said after a while his voice sounded croaky as he wiped the tears from his eyes; he still felt upset, but in a way he felt better as well, as if a burden had been lifted "You always rush in and don't THINK you never THINK" He huffed as he avoided the others gaze, embarrassed he'd even broken down like that in front of the other.
"Yeah I guess that will never change, but I wouldn't be me if I wasn't" He said with a faint smile as he rubbed the others shoulder in a soothing way. "Besides, you can't tell me you don't feel better after that, admit it you've wanted to hit me a few times" He joked, which earned a light snort and a faint smile off the rafiq. "You need to accept he'd gone Malik, let him go and remember the good things" He said softly "You don't have to do it alone brother"
Malik paused before he nodded slowly "It's...so stupid...to think that if I didn't grieve his death I'd forget him" He murmured "Sorry about your face" he added after a moment as he grimaced at the others face, the right half turning a nasty shade of purple and swelling horribly.
"No, it's not, you wont forget him Malik the pain will just ease that's all" He said softly before he smiled a but and shrugged "I deserved it, besides you've given me worse injuries, they'll heal" Altair said with a shrug "You need to remember the good things about him like I did last night, I dreamt about when I'd gone up a rank and I was training with Kadar...and you were being a grouch as per usual" He said softly.
"Yeah? Seems like such a long time ago..." Malik said softly as he sat next to the other on the floor; he remembered that day, he remembered that he'd noticed Kadar's affections for the other, they;d fought about it the night before and had fallen asleep both in foul moods, however his brother had been quick to forgive him and move on...Malik never did have that trait.
"It been almost 10 years" Altair said softly "And look at how far we got...I never thought I'd ever be Grand Master...or have two children already" He said softly as he looked up at the ceiling "I just want to do the right thing Malik, for everyone"
"And you are, your changing the brotherhood for the better...I believe in you Altair...even if you are a pain in my backside" Malik said softly as he looked over Altair; he couldn't see any sign of age on the other at all it was almost like he'd stopped ageing, and he remained his strong youthful self.
Malik looked away as he felt heat stirring in between his legs "Ahem anyway, uh once you've eaten you should rest in the back rooms out of the sun" he said softly avoiding even looking at the other "You need as much rest as you can before you return to Masayf"
"Oh? Are you not coming with me?" He asked as he got to his feet winching as his side burned at being tossed about so much, he;d even started bleeding though his bandages again "...Great" He grumbled.
"I still have some things to do here, we'll see if I can get them done In time for you leaving" He said before he tutted, feeling a little bad that he'd caused the others wounds to re-open "Sit I will help you" He said before he gathered some fresh water a cloth and fresh bandages he helped Altair to unravel the old ones and moved then aside before he cleaned the wound and Altair hissed in pain.
"Oh shush you shouldn't have been so careless" Malik tutted "Nor should you have provoked me, its all your own fault" he said simply as he washed the wound then used some herbs to aid in healing and keeping away infections before he began re-bandaging the wound, all while trying to not stare at the others body while being this close a proximity, and get aroused by it; even after fighting and talking about Kadar, Altair still had that effect on him.
"Yes yes, It was wrong of me" Altair said with a roll of his eyes as Malik finished with is bandages while he held a cold cloth to his bruised face "I'll go rest then to be honest I still feel tired" He said softly; perhaps he was because he'd lost so much blood he still felt tired, but more sleep couldn't do any harm right now.
Malik nodded at that before he heard someone enter the bureau from the roof; obviously another assassin "Ah hello Hasim do you have the information you need?" He asked the other assassin, he glanced back at where Altair had been sitting and found him gone already. Malik sent the assassin on his way with a feather and glanced to the door where he knew Altair was resting and sighed; he really was a fool.
But perhaps, all hope was not lost to the two of them after all.