Fandom: Assassin's Creed
Characters: Desmond, Maria Thorpe, ensemble.
Summary: Desmond refuses to bail his family out of jail when they start another bar fight. The vaguely biker-80's AU sort of. Mostly an excuse for Des and Maria Thorpe to have a heart-to-heart.
Desmond’s life is defined by an unfortunate set of terms. One could say the path of his fate forms a pattern of inverse correlation: the greater the distance between him and his family, the less often weird shit happens to him. And his knack for avoiding weird shit is surpassed only by their determination in maintaining familial contact.
He walks back into the bar one night after his break, not much on his mind. It occurs to him suddenly that perhaps he’ll never be able to rest. He isn’t one of those people born with the privilege of being still.
And this is why.
He looks up to see Ezio merrily provoking a group of thugs at the far end of the bar, showing a far better sense of humor about it than the leather-clad scowlers closing in around him. A few peripheral bikers watch with professional interest as Altair and Malik shout their way toward their own personal showdown. On the other side of the room a crowd gravitates around Uncle Mario, who is the rowdy sort of fun customer bartenders learn to be uneasy about.
It isn’t Desmond’s first time returning to a room to find the family comfortably settled and inflicting mayhem. And if it’s anyone’s duty to protect the innocent from Desmond’s family tree, it should be Desmond.
Over a long enough period, running away never really works.
He jumps to Ezio’s sector of the room as the other bartender reaches for the phone to dial the cops. Punches have already been thrown. Ezio sends a biker hurdling harmlessly by but Desmond catches his cousin’s arm before he can swing his fist a second time.
“Oh, Des!” Ezio says with a smile. Not drunk, but far from sober. “Are you working here, now?”
As if he didn’t know. Like it was pure accident they all happened to walk into this roadside dump on the side of the highway miles out of town.
There is a crash behind him: beer glasses hitting the floor, the sound of at least one table flung onto its side, and those tables are heavy oak. It takes at least five of the bartenders to lift one. Desmond closes his eyes and, “Don’t,” he orders, covering as much as he can in a single word, and he releases Ezio’s arm.
Whatever’s in Desmond’s face when he turns to the bikers is enough to settle them back in their booths, at least for the moment.
He sprints to the upturned table, expecting the worse. Malik has the advantage with Altair pinned beneath him, but oh, oh—
They aren’t fighting anymore. Really not fighting anymore, or maybe they are but it’s just more difficult to tell when they’re kissing and Altair’s hand is crammed down one of Malik’s back pockets and groping him hard through his jeans and leathers.
Desmond stands behind the circle of bikers who are also transfixed in disbelief. After a second, he backs away. That isn’t something he wants to get in the middle of, probably ever.
His co-bartender gives him a nod, letting him know the authorities are on their way. There’s an uneasy feeling in the bar—the riled bar fight atmosphere aside—that familiar sense that it’s only a matter of time before the situation crests past the point of no return. His family just doesn’t understand. They don’t realize how disruptive their presence is to everyone and everything around them, like they exist on an alternate wavelength from the rest of the world and when they interact with anything resembling normal the frequencies clash. And Desmond’s left to clean up the mess.
“So nephew, have you found yourself yet?” says Mario, appearing at his side with a fresh refill in hand. He nods approvingly when Desmond doesn’t jump.
Desmond throws his hands up in disgust. “I’m getting out of here.”
“Is that a no?” Mario follows him outside. “You don’t seem happy, Desmond.”
“Really?” He gives his bike stand a nasty kick as he pulls his helmet on. “Do I want to know why you’re all here?”
“We worry about you,” Mario says. Desmond blocks it out. “All by yourself,” Mario continues, “on this spirit quest or whatever you think it is.” He says it with a kind of verbal shrug. “We want to be there for you. Did you ever think about that?”
The flash of police lights blink from the other side of the building. “Yeah,” Desmond says. “Because I’m the one that needs saving.”
The message is blinking on his machine when Desmond gets home. He ignores it. After a shower and a few hours on the couch obstinately watching infomercials he drives downtown. It’s his first time at this particular police station, but after a while they all start to look the same.
Ezio glances up and grins when the officer leads Desmond back to the overnight holding cells. “Finally!” he says, and Mario, Altair, and Malik all look up as well. “You were starting to worry us there, Des. I left you that message on your machine hours ago—”
“I’m didn’t come to bail you out,” says Desmond and the entire cell goes quiet.
A couple of them exchange glances. Mario stands. “Do you need time to think about this?”
Altair snorts. “Why are you here?”
Desmond rounds on him. “Why are you here? You don’t even drink! And what’s your excuse?” he snaps at Malik, who has the decency to look embarrassed. “I’m done. I’m just… I’m done with this. This game you guys are playing. Find someone else to save your asses.”
It’s an overcast morning, still pretty gloomy outside when he leaves the station. Soft erratic drops hit his head as he marches down the steps, the last push of rain as the clouds roll through town.
He recognizes the beast of a motorcycle parked beside his but it doesn’t register until he hears the quiet voice behind him. “Hey, kid. I was wondering if you’d show up.”
He catches sight of her out of the corner of his eye—Maria Thorpe lounges against the street’s only broken lamppost, hair tucked against her head and frizzed from her helmet, thumbs hooked in her front pockets. The leather jacket camouflages her somewhat against the gritty street shadows, but that’s no excuse for completely failing to notice her on his way out of the police station.
“Hey. Sorry, didn’t see you,” Desmond mumbles.
He sighs. “They really dragged the whole gang into it this time.”
“I’m not here to rope you to my bike and lug you back to the bosom of the family, if that’s what you mean.” She rolls her eyes and mechanically starts patting her pockets. “So? What’s the damage?”
He joins her under the dead street light, declining when she holds out the squashed cigarette carton. “You know. The usual. What brings you to the police station at five in the morning?” he asks while she lights up. “Couple of your buddies get arrested or are you here for—”
Maria shoots him a piercing look. “How much do you want to finish that thought?” she says and plucks the cigarette from the corner of her mouth, blowing a thin stream of smoke into the damp air. Desmond knows, or thinks he knows, the kind of amiable rivalry she has with Altair. She was there before Desmond to bail them out once. But it's not a topic either Altair or Maria have been enthusiastic to open up about. “What am I doing here,” Maria says finally, eyes narrowed into the distance. “Oh, you know.”
“Making sure,” she says. Desmond can sense her watching him. “I thought this time you really wouldn’t bail them out.”
“I didn’t,” he says. “I’m sick of this. I’m done rolling over for them.”
“Yeah. Now stop and think about where you inherited that stubbornness from. Think really hard.” She doesn’t seem surprised at his attitude, or really concerned. She sighs. “Are you eating well? Have a safe place to sleep most of the time?”
Desmond snorts, ducks his chin into his chest and smiles. “Yes.”
“Good.” Simply. A few more drops of rain fall and Maria adjusts the cigarette in her hand to shield the tip. “There’s nothing wrong with you taking care of you,” she says. “You got to do what’s right for you, Desmond. That’s not the issue, here.”
Desmond swallows. For some reason his relief doesn’t immediately clear his anxieties. “Thanks. That’s… god, why can’t you tell them that? They’d listen to you.”
“They already understand, Des.” Maria tosses her cigarette into a puddle without finishing it. “Well, they kinda get it. Also they suck at restraining themselves. We aren’t meant to always be alone.”
She sighs, sounding tired as they walk back to their bikes. They stand on the sidewalk and make no move to get ready to leave. Maria laughs to herself. “Want to know something?”
She smirks at his tired sarcasm and rests her hand on his shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze. “No one’s happy with the hand they’re dealt all the time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change your lot—believe me, I get it.”
“Oh yeah?” he says, feeling snappish.
“Hush,” she says patiently. And he does, immediately, recognizing the rare touch of Maria’s mercy when he sees it. “What I’m saying is you’ll have to turn around and face what’s been bugging you eventually. If that includes grabbing your destiny by the throat and saying, this is how it’s going to be, well, good for you. But life has a way of forcing the issue if you insist on running away forever.”
He watches her swing a leg over her bike, and the engine roars with a fearsome growl. “Thanks,” he says. “I’m not running, I just… don’t know what I’m looking for yet.” That’s true, unfortunately. So true it kind of hurts.
There’s a brighter glint in her eyes as she takes him in. Then she slips on a pair of mirrored shades and all Desmond can see are his own dark twin reflections looking back at him. “And we’ll be there waiting for you when you figure it out.”
Desmond rubs his temples. “You’ll be there waiting whether I figure it out or not.”
Maria revs her engine and smiles till her teeth show. “Happy hunting, kid,” she says with a tip of her helmet. “Safety and peace.”
“You too, Maria.”
Her bike’s snarls are still audible when she rounds the corner at the end of the block. And Desmond stands outside the police station as the sun glimmers through the rain, unsure whether to be comforted or terrified by her promise.
He has no intention of showing for his family’s court date. But he does arrange their bail in such a way that there’s probably no way for them to ever find out it was him.
It’s the same method he’s used before, and it didn’t worked then, either. Not that that stops him. Not that it’ll stop them from finding out anyway, but you never know.