djsoliloquy: (Cityscape)
DJ ([personal profile] djsoliloquy) wrote2011-07-19 04:34 pm

Tutorial (Assassin's Creed)

Title: Tutorial
Author: [ profile] djsoliloquy
Fandom: Assassin’s Creed
Rating: PG-13, warnings for brief language and violence.
Characters/Pairing: Shaun and Rebecca, very subtle pairing if you so wish.
Summary: That time Shaun got in over his head and Rebecca saved his ass.

Notes: Inspired by a kink meme prompt for Shaun’s escape from Abstergo. See footnotes for more details.

She called him when he got to his hotel room.

Her. That loon of a woman who’d been contacting him for years now, at every hour and from every new phone he bought. She’d called him yesterday after he posted to WikiLeaks, before he got a little short with her and finally asked she never call him again. Then he left for the conference and unplugged his phone, threw his cell down a street gutter.

(Oh, the conference—a very handy excuse for getting out of the country in a hurry. Yet another clever safety precaution that didn’t make one iota of difference in the end.)

Of course she knew his hotel room number less than a day after he checked in. Of course. And the lone thought burning a corner of his mind up, frantic: if she had found him, how long would it take Abstergo?

He was well-acquainted with her voice. He felt he knew her, in a strange way. Her unique and interesting vocal texture, her verbal quirks. He heard her laugh once, despite how she only called to warn him about getting in too deep with Abstergo Industries. Didn’t know her name, obviously, though in less sober moods he thought of her as his more obnoxious Trinity.

He expected it was her before picking up the receiver. His new cellphone showed a missed call from an unknown number, probably also her. Maybe, deep down, he even expected it was at last The Call, not the usual admonishment.

“Shaun,” she said without making sure. And that was when Shaun knew. “They’re coming. You need to get out. Now.”

He didn’t argue, didn't respond, just ran down the hall and came out in an alley somewhere, fumbling with his cell when it buzzed in his pocket. “You need to get out of the city,” she said, as though they were still on the hotel line and he wasn’t stumbling down the street, checking over his shoulder. “I’m gonna give you a location and you need to meet me there, got it? Don’t run,” she added, reading his sodding mind. “You’ll only attract attention. Walk, blend. Think blendy thoughts, keep out of sight. How good a climber are you?”

Shaun barked out a laugh. The street traffic determinedly walked against him at every turn. He stumbled, tried to make his way through without bumping into people. It wasn’t working very well. “You realise I’m one of those pasty-white academic types that go around wearing things like dowdy sweaters? How athletic do you imagine I am?”

His voice clearly shook. She didn’t comment on it. “That’s okay, Shaun. Listen, I’m gonna walk you through this, okay? Tell me where you are now, I’ll guide you to—”

There he is!” a voice shouted. Shaun whipped his head around, glimpsed a lanky fellow with sharp angry eyes wearing an Abstergo uniform.

“Fuck,” Shaun said evenly.

She must have heard. “Okay, now run.”

He shoved the cellphone in his pocket and took off at a life-depends-on-it sprint. It would have made a more impressive image if every other person on the street had been courteous enough to move out of his way first. He saw an alley and darted inside, the guard yelling again behind him but he put on a fresh burst of speed, finally free to run unimpeded—

An arm shot out, catching him below the chin. Shaun had never gone from vertical to horizontal so fast in his life.

The back of his skull cracked against cobblestones. He found to his mild shock that he couldn’t breathe. A medical school mate at university told him once the esophagus had the strength of a roll of cardboard covered in soft wax, and Shaun had just clotheslined into solid bone and muscle at a dead run.

“I thought they said he was like a professor or something!” the first one said as he caught up. He leaned against the wall, panting. “He doesn’t run like a teacher.”

“Goes down like one,” said the second. They laughed.

Under the asphyxiation and panic, some deep and eternally snarky part of Shaun rolled its eyes and thought, you were caught by these idiots?

“Hello, Mister Hastings,” said the man whose elbow matched the dent in Shaun’s trachea. He was larger overall than his sprinting companion, with knuckles that may not have been able to pound clean through granite but undoubtedly intimidated the hell out of anything lower on the Mohs scale. His outline against the sky was spherical with muscle. “How good of you to meet us by the van,” he said. He grabbed the back of Shaun’s sweater and picked him up like a handbag.

Shaun choked out a, “What—?”

“You have a three-hour appointment with Alan Rikkin today,” said the skinny one. His eyes scanned the area like some tree-dwelling thing straying onto the ground for the first time. “We make sure you arrive on time and in one piece.”

“Abstergo company policy advocates we inform you ahead of time that last part ain’t strictly enforced,” boomed Knuckles somewhere above Shaun’s head.

At which point, that deep and eternally snarky part of Shaun went very, very quiet.

“You’d be amazed how few parts are really necessary to survive a three-hour meeting,” said Skinny. “Just amazed!”

They locked him in the back of the van, cuffing one of his hands to a heavy looking thing attached to the van itself. Iron mesh separated him from the front compartment, and he could hear what they were saying as they drove through the city. They contacted someone through a two-way radio and that appeared to be it before Skinny grunted. “Gas is empty. We’ll need to refill before we get out of the city.”

“You said you refilled it,” Knuckles said from the passenger seat. He didn’t sound pleased. Shaun leaned forward to listen.

“I did, and don’t touch that,” he snapped. “You’ll break something.”

“Pussy,” grunted his partner.

“How much would you like to die right now? Doesn’t take two of us to drive the fucking van and the baggage isn’t dangerous. Go on, touch it again. Go ahead.”

Shaun leaned back with a sigh. The snark was back on. Really, Hastings? These two?

Another gorilla grunt-noise from the passenger seat. “Fuck’s sake. Pull up here, I’ll show you how you fill a tank of gas.”

They doors closed behind them with identical slams. A moment later the cellphone, still in Shaun’s pocket, buzzed. He jumped. It took a good deal of ingenuity and awkward reaching around himself to dig it out of his pocket. “They’ll figure out the tank’s still full in a minute, so get ready,” she said as he put it to his ear.

Shaun had never been so relieved to hear that voice. “You did that?” he said. Then he thought about it for a second. “How?

“Thing about making everything computerized,” she said distantly, “is everything comes down to who has the fastest fingers and better brains. And…all right. Gotcha.” The van clicked all over as locks popped open. A light on the side of the cuff holding Shaun’s wrist blinked green and snapped open.

“And now you run,” she said.

Shaun didn’t need to be told twice.

Her name was Rebecca Crane, and she was not what he expected. Or she was exactly what he expected before, when he still thought she was out of her tiny mind.

He’d trudged through the city after escaping the van, been found and beat up by the guards, took one out and lost the other one again, and finally made it to the abandoned rail station where her car was parked (no way in hell, he thought, certain he’d be better off chancing it with Rikkin than riding around in that beat-up health hazard). She wore huge glasses with zebra-print frames, an offensively yellow shirt, green cowboy boots. Her hair was white blonde and came together above her eyebrows like a widow’s peak secretly yearning to become a hood. The whole effect was a rather jarring.

She hugged him without asking, but firmly, like perhaps she’d grown up surrounded by older brothers. And her eyebrows and eyelashes were black. The last thing Shaun remembered was hoping beyond hope the blonde farce was a wig.

They stopped at a small hole in the wall café on the outskirts of the city. Rebecca saddled him with a pair of ill-fitting spectacles and a huge coat to hide the cuts and the mess where the Abstergo thug shot at him and only mostly missed. She had to help him out of the backseat, where Shaun gathered she’d concealed him under a blanket after he passed out.

They sat by themselves, away from the front windows. A matronly woman served them food (and an espresso for Shaun) with an air of disapproval (mostly at Shaun). They kept their heads down until she returned to the kitchen.

“I was gonna level with you about some things, but maybe you should go to the restroom and clean up first,” Rebecca suggested before he could begin. It was so bizarre being able to watch her and hear her at the same time. “You know. Before they throw us out because you look like I dragged you off the bottom of a river?”

Shaun nodded numbly. He managed to keep his face blank until he squeezed into the small closet bathroom and locked it behind him. Then he cringed and quietly gasped as much as he pleased while peeling off the coat and sweater and white shirt. The stark bulb hanging over the sink surely made it look worse than it was. With the cuts, the bloody mess of his arm, the dirt and bodily fluids (not all his), he looked like…well, he looked like hell, frankly. His vaguely unhealthy I-haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-months-and-not-because-I-haven’t-been-outside English skin tone didn’t help matters. The bruises would be coming up nicely in a few more hours.

He had just leaned away from the mirror with a sigh when the door clicked, and suddenly Rebecca herself was there with him in the bathroom.

“Christ!” he swore and covered himself in a thoughtless moment of panic. Then he very determinedly lowered his hands to his sides. “What in the world do you think you’re you doing?”

“Shh!” she hissed and set a first aid bag on the counter. Her white hair glittered like an acid trip in the yellow bathroom light. “I thought you could use an extra set of hands—hell, Shaun, what was that, a shotgun?” She turned him around and frowned at his arm. “Guess I didn’t get a good look in the car.”

“I don’t suppose you could tell me if I’ll lose that arm or not,” he said, trying for bravely wry.

She snorted, smiled. “No way. This looks bad but I think it’s all soft tissue damage. We just need to clean it out.”

There really was not enough room for two people. Shaun pushed himself up on the sink and let his legs dangle on either side of her as she leaned against the counter. She pulled a set of tweezers from the bag and Shaun found himself in danger of passing out again. “Whoa, easy. I’m not performing surgery, here.” The tweezers were replaced in her hands by antiseptic and gauze. “You’re not squeamish are you?”

He took a deep breath and the desire to faint faded somewhat. “No. Whatever gave you that idea?” The last word ended in a grunt as disinfectant-soaked gauze touched his arm. “So,” he said quietly. “We may as well start.”

She glanced at him. “Sure.”

“You’re fighting back against Abstergo, which is some sort of cover operation for the Templars.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Hey, not bad. That’s actually a lot further than I thought you were. That’ll make explaining things way simpler.”

“My question is,” Shaun said, staring disdainfully at her green boots, “you can’t actually be an Assassin, can you? You’re not serious?”

Rebecca looked downright excited.

“Wow, you’re a lot further!” she said, impressed. Shaun nodded to himself. He had been less clear on Assassins, but, well. He was now. Rebecca laughed. “Yep, I’m one of the good guys.”

He stared at her. “The Assassins, you mean?”


“And you don’t see anything conflicting about that, at all? The people who kill other people by definition, the good guys?”

He blinked away a wince as she looped the gauze the whole way around his arm the first time. There was silence in the bathroom for a while, Rebecca wrapping him up the rest of the way and him trying not to focus on it. “I was listening to their radio on the way over,” she said at last. “They, uh. They found your missing guard.”

That, he almost said, that was different. It had been luck more than anything, and Shaun didn’t want to think of it as luck at all. Just self-preservation and adrenaline spurring him to get away at any cost. And Shaun only tripped him up. After the guard lost his balance, gravity had done most of the work. The oncoming traffic probably helped.

That memory wouldn't be leaving him any time soon.

He stared at the corner, brow furrowed. “I wasn’t bragging about it.”

“I know. If you were, I would’ve handed you back to them. But you’re not that kind of person, Shaun.” She tied the gauze loosely and looked up at him. “That’s good.”

He didn’t quite return her gaze. “Rebecca, why did you help me? Why have you been helping me?”

Rebecca sighed and stood back for a moment, thinking. “Okay. So, there’s an Assassin’s code, a creed. And a maxim, that nothing is true and everything is permitted—”

“Is that why your car looks like it’s been rolled down a mountainside?” Shaun said. “The road signs are all lying bastards and the asphalt’s a vague suggestion?”

“Don’t make me kill you, Shaun,” she said seriously. “The point is, when people tell you what to think, you have to think for yourself. You make your own path instead of following the one people put in front of you. So we have to find out what it is when it feels like there’s something huge and important just out of reach, something being kept secret that shouldn’t be. And that frustration when everyone tells us there’s nothing missing in the first place, and stop looking or there’s gonna be trouble, even if it’s like…like if you just knew what it was, everything else could start making a little more sense. Is this just way too vague? You know kind of what I mean, right?”

God, did he ever. He stared at her and swallowed hard. “You haven’t actually answered my question,” he said, sliding off the counter in front of her. There was just enough space for them to stand before each other with a small gap left over to breathe in. The proximity was favorable for whispering, though.

She shook her head and smiled. Apparently it had been a stupid question. “Someone who already does all that? Searches and fights even when he thinks he’s facing the war alone?” She held her hands out in a big shrug. “Who wouldn’t want to save that guy’s life?”

It was possible he had never before in his life seen anyone as clearly as he saw Rebecca Crane in that moment. “Well, if you say so,” he managed.

“You should come with me,” she said. “You know Abstergo won’t stop, and I can’t keep saving you forever. But it is your choice. That’s what we got that they don’t. You get to decide for yourself. But man, Shaun, we could really use your help. And you’ll love it, I know you will.”

“Basically a lot of what I’ve already been doing,” he mused. “Except more killing people, presumably?”

“Except now you don’t have to be alone.” She smiled. “And we have way cooler toys. You wouldn’t believe.” She held out her hand for a handshake in the tight space between them, typically forward and American. “What do you say?”

Shaun instead raised his hands, slowly, to her face. She stilled, blinking as he removed the horrendous zebra-stripe glasses and set them on the counter behind him. She relaxed, smiling up at him, so Shaun slid his fingers along her face and under the white hair, feeling for an edge. Her real hair was dark, warm, and damp from being bundled under a wig all day. It spiked up in places when he pushed the wig away, back from her face, and the scent of her sweat and perfume rose up, unexpectedly everywhere in the tiny bathroom. It nearly covered up the rust and disinfectant. And still they looked at each other. Shaun smiled.

“Thank all that is merciful,” he said. “That was truly a heinous disguise.”

Rebecca’s eyebrow quirked. “I wasn’t bragging about it, Shaun. Besides, it worked. I was around your hotel all morning and you don’t even remember me.” She held her hand out again, probably for the wig, but found herself shaking Shaun’s hand.

“Alright,” he said. Her arms wrapped around his neck in a hug instead. “Yes, alright,” he repeated softly, returned the embrace despite his arm.

Though they must have been rather close as they pulled apart, because Rebecca raised her hand between them. “But I do have a policy of not taking advantage of the emotionally compromised. Just a me thing.”

“I—what? No!” He hadn’t been trying to… to lean in for a kiss, for heaven’s sake! Or whatever it was he was being accused of! But he was blushing all over anyway. Rebecca’s eyes widened as she watched it move like plague flush across his chest.

“Wow. That’s pretty cool.”

Out. Here’s your silver atrocity, now get out and allow me to dress in peace.”

The café woman gave them another stern, matronly look of disapproval later when she passed by their table for no discernible reason other than having an excuse to give them a stern, matronly look. Rebecca winked at her for some reason and she huffed back to the kitchens.

Shaun tried to interpret the intricate female conversation going on in silence around him. “You don’t think she’ll call the authorities, do you?”

Rebecca laughed into her food. “Uh, well, she might chase us out with a broom. It was kind of echo-y in there. Not enough to hear words, but.”

Shaun thought over what the café woman might have heard outside of words. Grunts, probably. Moans, certainly, and at one point hadn’t he thumped his fist on the counter? Surely the woman saw Rebecca join him in the bathroom. He made a point of avoiding the woman’s gaze when they left.

“Now where to?” Shaun asked as they got back in Rebecca’s car. He couldn’t be certain, but there seemed to be a 12-hour nap lurking on the edge of his brain, waiting to pounce on him.

“The hideout,” she said. The manner in which she said it led Shaun to believe it was, or was trying to be, Hideout with capital H. “One our bases. We can hang low for a while.”

“The Hideout,” he said. “You have hideouts? Am I correct in imaging a lair of sorts? Possibly a cave, bats everywhere, dramatic lighting?”

Rebecca smirked. “All the best good guys have ‘em,” she said, and they drove towards morning.


Abstergo employee email accounts:
(Password: PFRDVJ5aLLg).

Of special note is the sixth email from the top, subject FWD: Shaun Hastings. Also the Guy Fawkes and WikiLeaks emails.

I miss gratuitous footnotes so much *sob*

[identity profile] 2011-07-20 02:57 am (UTC)(link)
I just read all three fics you posted, and I think this one's my favorite. Really well done. :)

[identity profile] 2011-07-20 03:18 am (UTC)(link)
I really like this one too :) Shaun's a lot of fun anyway, but his backstory is something I've wanted to take a swing at for a while now. Thank you very much!

[identity profile] 2011-07-21 09:17 pm (UTC)(link)
As far as I'm concerned, this is canon. I loved what you did with Shaun here, mentally talking and being sarcastic with himself, and also Rebecca being competent and terrifically kickass. I love this so much. :D

[identity profile] 2011-07-21 10:47 pm (UTC)(link)
*bluuush* That's some high praise, and I'm so, so happy you consider this deserving of it. Both of them are wonderful, and it was a tons of fun to write, regardless. :)

and it sucks just starting in a fandom because I only remember who people are like days after thinking about it, but I, like, adore your fics and oh my god you read this? and the other? what *LOTS OF EMBARRASSED FLAILING*

can now cross you off my list of people to flail at lmao.

[identity profile] 2011-07-22 11:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I can tell that it was fun to write-- it was really fun to read!

Ack, thank you so much! I am totally GLEEFUL that you have started this fandom in any case and, oh gosh. You know me? aksdhjfasld *LOTS OF EMBARRASSED FLAILING RIGHT BACK*

[identity profile] 2011-07-23 07:00 pm (UTC)(link)
lol subtle strikethroughs ftw Um, but yes! I'm not anyone special, but yes I do know you now! Haha, was actually fondly reminiscing on "Maintain this Distance" and "Tumble Dry" a few days ago, and it was something of an embarrassing OH WAIT HOLD UP moment realizing that lovely writer and the commenter in this thread was the same person. derp :p ANYWAY. Yes. Hello~ XD

[identity profile] 2011-07-28 06:35 am (UTC)(link)
oh man, sorry this reply is super late, but LJ is just being an all around BUTT when I try to reply (so I had this saved on Word for a couple of days, pffffft).

And argh, this is not even my writing journal, which makes me doubly shocked that you pegged me as a writer, but THANK YOU and HELLO. \o/


[identity profile] 2011-07-28 10:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh no dude, I feel your pain. My internet connection right now is hellishly slow, it takes forever to reply to anything. And I always do that saving comments on Word thing, haha.

Friends! I'm glad you did, 'cause I was totally going to ask. ♥ And I got your twitter add as well, though that will surely take another few hours to accept and I'm not on there too often anyway ._. Do you have a tumblr? Finally broke and got one (desultoryjester) and desperately need more fannish people to talk to alsdkfj;a

[identity profile] 2011-07-29 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah! I do have a tumblr! It's 'tanyart' and I was looking through yours and the first thing I see is KORRA and then I clicked the follow button so hard I think I sprained something. *__*

[identity profile] 2011-07-31 01:09 am (UTC)(link)
Omg yessss. It seriously needs to be next year already because there is a severe lack of Korra goodness in my life right now. A severe lack.

[identity profile] 2011-07-30 05:03 am (UTC)(link)
Hey, I missed this one before, I'm glad I followed the links back to your journal.

I like it. It's like the beginning of a spy novel, except the protagonist is the damsel in distress,and the suave spy is Rebecca. It's also intriguing that they were talking for ages before seeing each other in person. Sort of a combination of the Matrix (Trinity!) and a fan meetup when Rebecca comes to get him.

[identity profile] 2011-07-31 01:32 am (UTC)(link)
Would a master fic list be helpful in finding things? Probably not for new ones, but I've been dragging my feet on making one for a while...

Thanks! I really like the idea that they were in contact (or at least Rebecca was with him) before they met. We know from the game Shaun's been snooping into Abstergo's business since he was a teenager, and that Rebecca's saved him a few times, but outside that who knows? Compared to what really happened, maybe this pales in comparison! quit holding out on us, Ubi. *grabby hands*

[identity profile] 2011-07-31 02:17 am (UTC)(link)
Well, mostly just remember to post to stuff comms. I follow NothingTrue and Creedslash, and AC Daily at tumblr catches most of the stuff over in gallery.

But a master list would certainly be convenient!