Chapter 5 Blood and Family
Altair didn't like this, the house was far too quiet; maybe he was being a tad paranoid but he was sure if Heller was asleep he'd hear the bed creak or him breathing or snoring or SOMETHING! But it was just so...silent.
He'd broken into the man's house easily enough, slipping in through the back door, he was great at picking locks and doing it quietly and he'd slipped inside it was dark but Altair could see pretty well without help his master told him that his blood line had some sort of special gift he had dubbed 'eagle vision' he said that with it he had the ability to see through the veil of reality to see enemy from friend, to see truth from lies.
The silence unnerved him, nothing living was ever truly silent when they slept, no silence was a practised art, something that took skill and something you needed to be conscious and alert for, which really meant only one thing.
Heller was waiting for him, that was the only explanation.
Altair made his way silently through the kitchen and the living room, it was empty which meant Heller was waiting for him upstairs and Altair wasn't exactly happy about walking up the stairs into a trap, but he had no choice, he had to complete the contract; readying his pistol he made his way silently up the carpeted stairs every nerve alight with anticipation, his breathing slowed and quiet with a practised ease, his sense were going haywire as he strained to hear or see any sort of in coming danger from the darkness.
It was too quiet, and every tiny noise set Altair in edge, as soon as he reached the top of the stairs he looked around, nothing, so he shifted towards the bedroom.
He was rather startled when he heard the bathroom door creak quietly behind him and his gut told him to duck; a good thing too because a sledgehammer impaled itself into the wall where his had had been a millisecond before. "Whoa!" Altair had not been expecting that, shit if he hadn't ducked the man would have smashed his head open like a grapefruit!
Altair raised his pistol and raised it to fire at the other, but Heller knocked the gun out of his hand and it went clattering down the stairs and out of his reach, before making a swing at Altair again, despite the weight of the sledgehammer, Heller carried it around and wielded as if it barely weighed anything, Altair scowled he'd have to get creative and fast, before this guy turned him into blood splatter on his wall.
"I knew you were coming assassin, you really think you can kill me?!" Heller snarled.
"Think? No...I KNOW I can" Altair said with a growl before he lunged at the other as Heller swung the sledgehammer he ducked under the swing as the man swung widely his intent was to kill the other, so it was defiantly fight or flight and Altair had never run from a fight in his life. Growling he flicked out his hidden blade as shoved it under the others chin through his mouth and straight into his brain.
Heller's face was almost comically surprised as he let out a wet choking sound as Altair yanked the blade out, and for good measure stabbed the man straight in the heart, he didn't want the bastard to survive after all.
With a loud thunk, Heller dropped the sledgehammer on the carpeted floor and sunk to his knees slowly, blood pouring down his neck and chest before he keeled over to one side dead, his blood now staining the cream carpet "..." Altair swallowed softly as with a flick of his wrist the bloodied hidden blade slid back into its secret compartment; he hadn't even thought about what he was doing, he hadn't though about the fact he was stabbing another human being and taking his life, it had just being instinct...and yet he couldn't find it within himself to get all that upset over murdering someone. Altair slid out a plain white feather and slid it across the man's bloody throat before slipping the feather into a bag and tucking it in his hoodie pocket, he then carefully stepped over the body and headed down stairs, after retrieving his pistol he slipped out the way he'd come, from the back door before stalking off into the darkness.
Altair didn't leave a trace behind, he'd worn gloves so there were no prints though he wiped down the banister and any surfaces he'd touched just in case, the murder weapon would be cleaned and sterilized back home so there was little chance of anyone ever finding out how Heller was murdered or who did it.
Altair headed back to the Auditore mansion being sure to take the more discreet route home that didn't have security cameras, once he was home free he climbed up onto the roof of of a house near the Auditore mansion and flicked open his cell phone before pressing '1' on speed dial before pressing the phone to his ear as he waited for his master to answer.
"Is it done?" Al Maulim asked over the phone, no pleasantries, just business and Altair was more than used to his masters bluntness by now, the man had raised him after all.
"Yes, master, it's done, and without hesitation" He promised softly "I left no trace behind"
"Excellent, your first kill was a success...you were trained for great things Altair, and seek comfort in the knowledge that the world is a better place without him" He said softly.
Altair nodded "Yes master, I know" He said softly as his master hung up; it was only then that he let out a heavy sigh; he might have disliked Heller but his death weighed a little heavily on his heart, he didn't feel bad about killing him, but a part of him wondered if it had been right to do it or not; sometimes he just wished that he was a normal person, that he didn't have this so called destiny to fulfil.
Putting his phone in his pocket he looked at his hands absently; even though they looked clean under the lamplight he knew differently, he had blood on his hands, and he wasn't exactly sure how to feel about it.
"...I hope I am doing what is right" He murmured to himself as he set off down the street back towards the Auditore home, he needed to talk to someone who understood, his Uncle Giovanni should be home and hopefully still awake maybe he could help him.
"Hey Dana...I'm being partnered up with a transfer student this year, he's related to the Auditore's but...he's different" Alex said softly as he watched his motionless, sister on the bed, the only in the of her moving was her small chest rising and falling to the beep of the monitors beside her bed. "He's called Altair...I think you'd like him...he says...he wants to be my friend" He said softly before he sighed as he folded his arms on the bed and rested his head there "I don't know how to be a friend to anyone..."
"Alex?" The teen jumped a little and turned to see Dr Ragland stood at the doorway "I thought you'd fallen asleep" He said softly Alex shook his head though eh really did feel exhausted, he'd started his new job last night and he was going back to work in a couple of hours.
"I'm fine Doctor, is there any change?" He asked softly, despite always being so negative about life in general he held some hope for Dana, that she'd wake up and he could play games with her and take her skating like he used to do, because god knows if anyone deserved a better life it was his little sister.
"Not at the moment no" Ragland said softly "I just came to say the hospital has received you're payment, they told me to give you the receipt" He said softly as he handed over the small slip of paper over to Alex who took it with a nod "You are a good brother to her Alex, not many could handle the pressure you are under" Ragland said softly "Just make sure you don't wear yourself out completely, other wise you'll be in here as well from sheer exhaustion"
"I'll be careful doc...just do everything you can for her, I don't care how long it takes for her to wake up...I'll do what I have to" He said softly as he laced Dana's cool limp fingers with his "...She's all I have" He mumbled softly, more to himself to Ragland as he stood and kissed her forehead softly "Sleep tight sis...I'll be back soon" He promised before he left nodding to Ragland.
"...poor kid" He said softly to himself he felt sorry for Alex, he wished there was something he could do, the kid was in severe debt with three jobs and college to deal with...Ragland blinked before he smiled a bit; maybe there was something he could do for Alex, the others birthday was coming up soon; under normal circumstances Alex wouldn't take 'charity' for anyone preferring to earn his money, but he couldn't reject a gift on his birthday, could he?
Chuckling to himself he closed the door to Dana's room and headed down the hallway to see his other patients.
"Uncle Giovanni?" Altair asked as he knocked on the door gently, when he got a 'come in' from his uncle, he opened the door and slipped inside; it was around 3 in the morning and only Giovanni and himself into the room, closing the door behind him "Uncle, can we talk?" he asked softly.
"Of course Altair...is something wrong?" Giovanni asked with a raised eyebrow, it wasn't like Altair to want to talk about anything, he was after all very secretive and closed off even from family.
"No...well...yes" He said softly as he sat down on the large leather chair in front of the others desk as he fiddled with the edge of his sleeves looking uncharacteristically uneasy "I just...I made my first kill today" He said softly as he slumped down against the chair softly "And I'm not quiet sure what to feel about it"
"..." Giovanni set his pen down on his desk softly as he looked back at his nephew, the other reminded him so much of himself when he had been that age, so eager to impress, and yet, the first kill leaves an impact on every young assassin "Everyone feels conflicted the first time they take a life for the brotherhood, but you must have faith both in yourself and in the brotherhoods purpose" He said softly as he watched Altair; he'd never seen his nephew like this before, this side of him that was so nervous and unsure reminded him just how young Altair really was "It's okay you know...to have doubts"
"Is it?" Altair asked softly as he looked up at Giovanni a little surprised "I didn't know we were even allowed to have a choice" the Arabian teen said softly as he looked at his hands flexing them and curling them slowly.
Giovanni smiled softly stood he walked over to Altair and placed his hands on his shoulders "Altair, you ALWAYS have a choice" Giovanni said with a warm smile "You may have been born into this life but it doesn't mean you must always choose it" He said softly. "When the time comes to make a difficult choice you must follow your heart, rather then your head" He said softly.
Altair looked up at his uncle, more than anything he wanted to be the best, just like his father had been he wanted to be strong to protect others...but he didn't want to feel this way every time he killed someone for his cause "Do you think I'm cut out for this life uncle?"
"I have seen many other assassins break under the pressure of their first kill, many who choose to stay behind the scenes rather than kill...taking someone's life does lay a burden on your shoulders as it does for us all but that feeling passes in time once you get more...comfortable with it...and you, Altair walk in your fathers footsteps perfectly...I am sure you are ready for the tasks the brotherhood has set you" Giovanni said "And I have no doubts, that your father would be extremely proud of you if he were here"
"...Thanks uncle" Altair said softly feeling his chest swell with pride at being compared to his father, he didn't often get compliments but he did like it when he received them.
Now, go get some sleep you need to rest, sleep peacefully knowing you have done something good for the world" Giovanni said with a soft chuckle Altair was a good kid, he was a little to serious, too smart for someone his age but he had a good head on his shoulders and he had a good heart, even if it was very heavily concealed.
Altair nodded a that feeling a lot of the weight he had felt lift from his shoulders "Goodnight Uncle and...thank you" He said with a little nod before he left, the talk had made him feel a little better and when he went to bed he fell into a dreamless sleep, he had no nightmares, no bad memories of his first kill, he truly was at peace.
The next morning he was woken by a knocking on his door. "Wakey wakey Alty!" It was Ezio who poked his head in the door "Come on you'll be late for breakfast" He said with a smile.
"Mh...its a Saturday... lemmie sleep in" Altair grumbled as he rolled over and pulled a cover over his head, he didn't get to sleep until 3.30am, one look at the digital clock showed it was only 9am and he was in no hurry to get up yet.
"Ezio, Altair had some trouble sleeping last night, let him rest a little longer" That was Maria, Giovanni had probably told her what had gone on last night, and he, for one was grateful for the extra rest and smiled as he closed his eyes to go back to sleep.
Ezio frowned a bit at that before he shrugged and let it go and headed to breakfast with everyone else, Maria smiled and ruffled her son's hair playfully; he didn't understand yet but he would soon, he was almost old enough to know what the family business was, she and Giovanni planned to tell the other just before his birthday which was in a few weeks time.
"So...what would you like for your birthday this year?" Maria asked Ezio with a smile; she always asked to see what they wanted and if they could afford it they would get it for sure; Federico had wanted a car the moment he hit 17.
"I haven't really thought about it" He admitted surprised as he realized that yes, he was going to be 17 soon; in truth he'd been so miserable without Leonardo around, that his own birthday had completely slipped his mind "I doesn't really matter, so long as I can have big birthday party" He said with a smile "That would be the best birthday present ever" He said with a soft chuckle.
"I'm sure your father and I can arrange something like that, so long as you don't drink any alcohol and you don't trash the house" Maria said knowing that's exactly how Federico's 18th had turned out much to Maria's fury and Giovanni;s amusement.
I make no promises" Ezio said with a laugh.
Altair heard his alarm go on around 12pm he still had some time before he met Alex at the campus library which was open 7 days a week so students could go in and study whenever they needed to making it pretty convenient, yawning he decided a shower and some lunch would be a good way to start the day.
Getting out of bed he headed across the hallway to the bathroom locking the door behind him and turning on the shower, the warm water felt good on his skin, especially after his flight or fight response of last night, despite all that he felt pretty good about himself.
Once he was washed up and dressed he headed down stairs to join the rest of his cousins; Ezio and Leonardo were hanging out together again whole Desmond was playing on his Nintendo DS seemingly content to play by himself today "Afternoon" Altair said with a little wave and a yawn as he made a beeline to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich or maybe heat up some leftovers from yesterdays dinner, he hadn't made his mind up yet
"Hey about time you woke up fancy playing a round of Soul Calibur with me and Leonardo?" Ezio asked with a grin.
"Let me eat first and you have a deal, I have some time before I have to go to the library" Altair responded as he decided on making a sandwich after all and pulled out everything he'd need from the fridge and cut himself some fresh bread.
"Your going to the library again?" Ezio asked "On a SATURDAY? Are you serious?"
"I agreed to see Alex again today at the library, were still working on our science project" He said simply with a shrug failing to see why this would be such a big deal; sure Desmond had warned him about how dangerous the other was...but Altair just...didn't see it, compared to what he had seen back in Masayf? Alex was harmless.
"Do you have a thing for him or something? I mean seriously, no NORMAL person would spend their weekend with Alex Mercer" Ezio asked with a raised eyebrow as Leonardo rolled his eyes and nudged the other in the arm to just drop it.
"No, I just want to get my project done the sooner its done the better" Altair huffed at such accusations as he finished making his sandwich and sat down next to Desmond as he took a bite. "I have no interest in anyone in that way, think of it this way, the sooner I get this project finished the less time I have to spend with him" He pointed out "But honestly I don' t think he's as bad as you make him out to be"
"Are you serious? Were you even LISTENING to us when we told you want he was like?" Ezio said even Desmond stopped playing his game when he heard that and looked to his cousin with a raised eyebrow.
"So he put some guy in the hospital for insulting him and his sister, if someone did that to any one of you I'd do the same" Altair said bluntly with a little shrug "He was just protecting his family and, from what I hear she's all he has so why wouldn't he protect her from some jackass?"
"Your actually defending him?" Ezio said softly a little surprised though he knew that the other had a point, that didn't mean he had to like said valid points.
"Look just because you and he butt heads because of your inflated ego doesn't mean I will" He said with a shrug "I don't think he's that bad of a guy and I don't make a habit of disliking someone for the hell of it" Altair said with a shrug "Now can we drop this topic?" He said as he took another bite out of his lunch with a roll of his eyes.
"Okay okay fine, it just worries me he might rub off on you" Ezio said with a shrug as finished his round with Leonardo "Okay Altair it's you versus Leo this round" He said with a grin. Altair stuffed the last of his sandwich in his mouth and swallowed before he grinned "I'll be sure to wipe the floor with you"
"I don't think so, I'm actually good at this game" Leonardo said with a laugh as they picked a character and the round started. The four of them swapped controllers and fought each other for most of the afternoon, by the time it was 3:40pm Altair excused himself so he could grab his stuff and head to the campus library.
"I'll be back for dinner, don't have too much fun without me" He said as he tugged his grey hoodie over his eyes with a smirk and left the house; he was pretty sure Ezio had been too busy fighting with Leonardo to hear him but at least Desmond gave him a half hearted wave on his way out the door.
Altair sighed as he headed down the street to the campus; despite his doubts the night before he was actually feeling pretty good about himself today as he headed into the college campus that was situated meat the city centre and headed to the library, he was a little early so he decided to wait outside for Alex, there was a venting machine just around the corner so Altair decided to get a bottle of coke while he waited for the other.
"...Your early" A voice said right behind him it was Alex who had his hands shoved in his pockets lazily.
Altair almost jumped in response to that; fucks sake he HATED people sneaking up on him! Altair sighed before he turned around "Well I figured I should get here early rather then late" He said as he bent to get his drink before he opened it and took a sip as he looked at Alex; the other looked worn out, he had dark bags under his eyes he was blinking rapidly as if fighting sleep.
"...You look like shit" Altair said bluntly as he looked him over "I mean, no offence but...when was the last time you slept?"
"I don't have time to sleep" He grumbled with a frown at Altair, his ice blue eyes narrowing at him a little "Lets get inside and get this done already, were wasting time standing here" He said; oh yeah the other was grumpy and irritable, well more than usual.
"Right okay" He said with a soft sigh not arguing as they headed into the large library; as suspected it was mostly quiet, as with many students, they opted to not study on a weekend. Finding an empty table they sat down together ans got out their work or the project, Altair decided that wasting time just chatting while they worked wasn't a good idea and got straight into it.
They can't have been studying for more than half an hour, when Altair left to find some reference material from one of the shelves nearby, only to come back to find Alex asleep on the desk his arms propping his head up as a make shift pillow. "..." Altair had half a mind to wake him up but this was probably the first titbit of sleep the other had gotten in god knows how long, smiling a little he just let him sleep and wrote notes and thesis on the project himself while Alex slept.
Altair glanced over at the other; it was hard to imagine that this guy was feared by everyone in collage while he slept so peacefully; he didn't look half as threatening when he was sleeping. Altair only woke Alex up when, it was 7:30 pm and he's been out of it for almost 4 hours "Alex...Hey Alex" He said as he shook his shoulder gently.
"Huh wha?" Alex jerked awake as if he'd been electrocuted before he looked around the library as he rubbed his eyes before glancing at Altair "What time is it?"
"7:30 almost...you sort of fell asleep and I didn't have the heart to wake you up you looked so tired, its okay I wrote out notes for the both of us so you wont get left behind and I made some copies of the reference material that you can go over whenever you want" He said softly.
"...Oh" He said softly he's just woken up so he didn't have the energy to get angry at the other for letting him sleep even if he did feel better after having a power nap and considerably less grouchy for it. "...Thanks I guess" He grumbled a but as he tried to shake himself to full wakefulness, Altair just smiled to himself and said nothing.
"No problem I should get home, I'm late for dinner" He said a she started packing up his stuff "You should rest up some more or you'll wear yourself out" Altair said softly.
"Why do you care?" Alex mumbled softly.
"..." Altair shrugged at that "I don't know...maybe because I know it's hard working alone...I guess I just do, I suppose it makes a change to no one caring at all right?" He said with a soft smirk as he pulled on his hoodie and shrugged on his backpack. "When do you want to meet up again?" He asked softly.
"...I'm free next Tuesday" Alex said softly as he gathered up his stuff "Same place at 4pm?" He suggested as he looked to Altair who nodded in agreement.
"Sure thing" He said softly as they both left the library together before parting ways and going in opposite directions, Alex glanced back at Altair as he walked down the street, every time they met up the other continued to surprise him, he had let him sleep and had gone out of his way to make double the notes just so he wouldn't be left behind, he had never met someone so...kind.
As sad as it was it was also very much true, he found out the hard way, very early in life, that life itself was cruel and unforgiving and he had to work for every ounce he had for him and Dana, and he was still doing it even now, not that he minded the hard work, he'd do anything for his sister, especially in the state she was in, but no one was willing to offer him help or any sort of kindness, and Altair's gesture even as small as it was was the first bit of actual kindness he'd gotten from someone in a very long time.
Alex shook his head; why should the others kindness bother him so much, the other had let him sleep, it wasn't a big deal or the end of the world...so why did he feel so...weirdly happy about it? Snorting Alex hurried his pace as he checked the time, he'd been dawdling for too long if he didn't get a move on he'd be later for his night shift.
He decided not to think on it any more as he stuffed his hands into his pockets and headed off to work.