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29 July 2011 @ 08:51 pm
"Postcards From Far Away"  
Title: "Postcards From Far Away"
Fandom: Assassin's Creed 2/Brotherhood
Pairing: Ezio/Roza, Desmond/Lucy, Shaun/Rebecca. Relevant pairing is listed beside the song title.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: The last songfic (“View from an air castle”) has a HUGE SPOILER for the end of AC:B.
A/N: The second of my entries for AC BigBang Round 1, based on a fanmix prompt and originally posted here. I had hoped to write short pieces for each song but the inspiration only struck for four of them. Also, I didn't set out with the intention of making these all sad but it sort of worked out that wya.

The songs can be downloaded via a link in the ACBB post and the lyrics will be linked with each vignette.

“Pickpocket” – Ezio/Rosa

Rosa enjoyed Ezio’s flirting because he intrigued her. Thieves were no strangers to death but an assassin was a different breed of man entirely. He was so dedicated, so focused on his objectives when it was necessary, but outside of missions he seemed surprisingly cheerful and untroubled. She didn’t know how he maintained that separation inside himself but she liked it.

The thought of a stranger lurking behind warm honey-gold eyes, that she was flirting with danger, excited her. She enjoyed the fact that he liked her, that while his eye may stray to a beautiful courtesan passing by, she was the one he snuck into the thieves guild to see, who made her scream loud enough to wake the others with how good the sex was. It was life as Rosa had always wanted: carefree, fun, and pleasurable in many ways.

As his visits continued over the years, she thought he felt the same. Occasionally his travels took him from Venezia but he would linger in the city for weeks at a time, presumably to visit with his artist friend. She counted herself as simply a bonus and thought little of it until one night after a tumble in the sheets, when he spooned up against her back, his arm curling around her.

“What are your plans for the future?” he had asked, his voice a soft rumble against the nape of her neck. She was sleepy and sated and gave the question little thought before answering.

“I suppose one day Antonio will force me to take over from him, though I cannot see him ever stepping down.”

“And what about…this? Could you see us…growing old together?”

Idiota! As if you will ever see old age living the life you do,” she teased, slapping the arm that held her close. There was a moment’s hesitation and then she felt Ezio chuckle.

“I suppose you are right.”

She never considered there was more to the question until later. Later, as he had crept out of the window in the faint light of dawn, it was the look he tossed over his shoulder that made everything fall into place. Sleep took her again but hours later she awoke to curse herself for her own blindness, ranting until she’d run out of expletives. She tracked the assassin down to properly address the subject, driven by a nagging guilt that she’d somehow misled him over the years. Ezio, his carefree self in between missions, had only smiled and waved it off, saying it had just been speculation. He was lying but she didn’t call him out on it.

He continued to visit her but kept to daylight hours instead of slipping into her room at night. There was still flirting but it became something of a joke between them, lacking the previous sexual tension, and he never suggested sharing a bed again. He seemed to have moved on but occasionally Rosa would catch him looking at her, his expression unreadable.

The invitation to Monteriggioni, therefore, came as a surprise. It was only a year after that strange conversation and though Rosa initially suspected Ezio's feelings for her had returned, he was so casual about it, she had her doubts.

“I’m returning to the villa for a few weeks to see my family. I invited Leonardo to come along as well, since he never takes a break from work. When was the last time you traveled outside of the city?”

She couldn’t remember ever having left Venezia, except perhaps to see the surrounding countryside. The idea of a journey was enticing and Antonio encouraged her to go when she mentioned it. The city had been quiet for a time—thanks mostly to Ezio’s work—and she should enjoy herself, he said. So, when Ezio came by again for her answer, she agreed to go.

As journeys went, theirs was fairly uneventful. Leonardo filled most of the time with conversation, though occasionally Rose would roll her eyes and give Ezio a look when the artist got started on a tangent. The assassin, however, seemed used to it—even mildly amused by the constant chatter—so she could only throw her hands up in the air and sigh loudly, which usually confused Leonardo.

By the end of their first day of travel, Rosa had begun to realize that Ezio was more relaxed, almost content, than she had seen him in months, especially around her. She wondered what had caused the change—if there was someone who had taken her place at his side—but she couldn't seem to work up the right words to ask.

The walled-in town of Monteriggioni was not as beautiful as Venezia, but there was a charm to it and a sense of quiet strength. Ezio led them through the streets, speaking excitedly of the improvements they had made over the years. I still have many enemies, his expression seemed to say, but my family will be safe here inside these walls.

“Perhaps someday I will get to live here as well,” Ezio said and they all shared a laugh at this unlikely thought.

Leonardo was greeted quite warmly by Ezio's family, leaving her to stand off to the side feeling almost out of place; she had never realized how far back the artist's connection to the assassin went. Eventually, everyone's attention turned to her as Ezio made introductions all around and she was caught between acting polite and being her usual self.

His mother was kind but reserved, his sister was full of eager questions, and his uncle was loud. He immediately became her favorite but he dragged Ezio and Leonardo off to discuss more renovations, leaving her with the women. Rosa discovered that Claudia, much like herself, had not been outside her hometown until they were forced to escape to Monteriggioni, so they quickly began exchanging stories. Rosa described her life after Antonio took her in and Claudia shared embarrassing tales about her brother from when they were younger, while Maria confirmed or corrected certain details. Rosa had never felt so welcomed by complete strangers before and when it came time to head back to Venezia, she was actually sad to see the villa growing smaller and small behind them.

Years later, Antonio would be the one to tell her when Monteriggioni fell to the Borgia. He had distressingly few details, only describing a city that lay in rubble, the walls that were built to protect now rendered useless. Ezio was headed to Roma but his family was gone.

“I expected they would return to Firenze, but La Volpe tells me his men there have not seen them. We will find them and keep them safe,” he added, seeing the look on Rosa’s face. She made a halfhearted threat about what she would do if he did not keep his word, and was grateful when he said nothing about how her voice shook.

Later, sitting on her bed and thinking of the lighthearted days of the past—before Ezio had ever asked her that damned question—she noticed there was something wrong with the wall across from her. One of the stones had noticeable scratches along the edges, as if something had been used to pry it out. Rising, she crossed the room and felt around the brick, feeling it was looser than the rest. Her knife as out in an instant and, ignoring the damage she would do to the blade, she gently pried the brick out.

The hole she revealed was dark but she stuck her hand inside, unafraid. At first, the crinkle she heard as her fingers brushed something confused her, but then she felt around until she realized what it was. Carefully, she pulled out the handful of papers that had been hidden here. A quick glance through them showed the handwriting was all the same and she knew instantly whose it was.

“The Order does not need another Codex but there are so few who know the truth of everything that has led me to this point. Perhaps in this way, others can learn from my mistakes, or see that I have ever tried to live in a way that would make Father proud.”

How many nights had he written while she slept in the bed only a few feet away? How many times had he snuck in while she was out to stash his writings in her wall? His life was laid out in slightly jumbled bits and pieces, as if he had not had time to write from the beginning to end, but simply filled in what he could when he had the chance. Everything from the first betrayal in Firenze to a harried carriage ride en route to Venezia; there were even several missions in Tuscana she hadn’t heard about.

The last paper looked much newer than the others, not dry and yellowed with age, and she wondered how close to the attack on his home it had been written. His thoughts seemed troubled by the knowledge that the end of his quest for revenge most likely lay in Roma, but he wondered if he would survive it.

Her fingers brushed across the words on the parchment but she stared at it, unseeing. Everything in Ezio’s life was documented here, in letters not addressed to her but obviously left for her to find. But though she read through everything twice, there was no mention of their time together and nothing of the peace he seemed to have found. There were other, more trivial things—a gift for Claudia, a bet he’d won with Antonio—but no mention of her save for how she’d helped him infiltrate the Palazzo della Seta.

Rosa was startled when something wet suddenly fell on her hand but after a moment of stunned silence, she blinked quickly to stave off the remaining tears. With a humorless laugh, she brushed away the moisture clinging to her lashes, careful not to let any reach the papers in her lap.

Idiota. You made your choice.”

She considered burning the letters; not out of spite, but to keep them from haunting her with their presence. They were, after all, a constant reminder of the path she’d turned away from. Instead, she carefully tucked them into their hole in the wall, replaced the loose brick, and went down to tell Antonio she was leaving the city to help search for Ezio’s family. Staying here would only encourage her thoughts to consume her.


Original lyrics English translation

Desmond rarely dreams these days but when he does, it's always of Lucy.

In his dreams, everything is normal. There's no war, no countdown, no Pieces of Eden.

He's never been to Europe—aside from Monteriggioni—but he likes to think the little town in his dreams is like many of those sleepy, ancient places you see in the movies. They wake up with the sun streaming through the windows and Lucy teases him when a sunbeam slants across his nose and he sneezes. This leads to counter-teasing, tickling, and then softly making up before they eventually rise to greet the day.

Desmond doesn't wear a hoodie in his dream because he doesn't have to hide. The sun is almost too warm on his face as he takes her hand and wades into the river of shoppers passing by their home. There are little stalls set up on either side of the road, selling everything from knickknacks to hand-crafted pottery to fresh vegetables and eggs. She links arms with him as they browse the wares and he doesn't mind her added heat along his side as the summer sun rises higher in the sky.

At the supermarket, they take their time picking ingredients for the meals they'll make, deciding as they go. When she looks around in confusion, finding him gone from her side, he slides up bearing an awful joke--”Orange you glad to see me?”--and two of the fruit. Lucy rolls her eyes but she's grinning as she puts them in the basket.

As usual, they buy too much for one basket and end up leaving the store with overloaded paper sacks. Sometimes Desmond's brain will try to remind him he's dreaming and there will be a moment when he feels hunted, feels split and broken inside. Then Lucy, several steps ahead of where he's stopped in the middle of the road, turns around and declares she is leaving him if he's not man enough to carry a few groceries. Laughing, he hurries to catch up to her and the moment is forgotten.

They eat freshly baked bread with homemade jam by the window, looking out on their little town and occasionally sharing a soft smile. Lucy says she's glad they took the chance, tried to see what it was like. Desmond takes her hand with a murmur of agreement and then he wakes up.


Original lyrics English translation

Lucy wishes she were stronger. She thought she was after five years at Abstergo, watching them use up and throw away people as a child might a toy. Subject Sixteen nearly broke her and she still sometimes has nightmares of seeing him with the knife, of his far away gaze that looked through her without seeing her. It had taken three seconds to get to his side but with the reflexes of an assassin, it only takes one to end it.

When Leila had died, Lucy knew on some level that it was foul play. She'd prided herself in having the courage to question others about Leila's death but in the end, what had she learned? An ominously worded email from Vidic confirmed her suspicions but the details were still a mystery. It didn't matter anyway because by that point, it was too late. They had Subject Seventeen and she couldn't just run and leave him to their mercy.

If she had been stronger, she could have resisted Seventeen's charm. From that first day, he had reached out to her, building a connection between them with brief stories of his past and the occasional strained joke. She'd thought at first that he recognized her when all of Abstergo hadn't, but it quickly became clear that he had distanced himself from his assassin roots as best as he could. Instead, he seemed to reach out to her because he liked her, because he saw her as his only friend in this strange jail.

In return, she tried to protect him, stepping out of line with increasing frequency to argue the sake of keeping him alive. It was risking more than just her own neck, she knew that. Everything the assassins had worked so hard towards would be ruined if she got herself killed, but she could no more stop herself from rising to his defense, then she could stop herself falling into the warmth in those strange golden eyes.

Every day, the urge to confide in him pressed at her but her cowardice kept her silent. They continued to grow closer to finding the Apple and closer to the time when Abstergo would throw away this latest model. She began having dreams where Desmond was the one kneeling in his room with the knife, but even waking up in cold sweats couldn't shake her self-imposed silence.

Breaking him out of Abstergo had given her hope. Even with her heart thudding in her chest, seconds away from panic as Desmond struggled to shake free of the memories and follow her instructions, she had felt strong, like this was the person she should be. But their hard-won freedom was so easily lost when Vidic found them only a few days later. Again they were forced to run and Lucy's belief in her own strength had crumbled.

Even now, supposedly safe in the villa, she wakes up wondering if what she's doing is right. Whenever she voices her concerns, she is told this is necessary for the greater good of all mankind. Those are the words she repeats to herself when she has to snap at Desmond for staying out an extra five minutes or remind him to hurry because they're running out of time. She thinks she is weak but it's surprising how she can withstand the looks he gives her, like he knows the thoughts inside her head and he understands, even forgives her.

She takes him into her bed like she has her heart and when she cries that first time, she has to reassure him it's not from pain. It's a little white lie but he believes it and the sharp ache in her heart keeps her company after he falls asleep. She's so scared to lose him, but Lucy knows if she were stronger, she would stop him from entering that damned machine. She would find another way, somehow, one that won't cost her this man she adores.

Now she falls asleep every night curled around him to keep the memories at bay, and she prays for the day when she can finally face herself and be happy with what she sees.


Swedish and English lyrics

Shaun is just as excited as the others as they make their way beneath the Coliseum to the ancient vault. The very sight of the Apple has his heart thudding in his chest and he thinks, Finally. Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Exchanging a glance with Rebecca, he sees the same nervous energy reflected on her face. Desmond leads the way with Lucy close behind and they trail after.

Later, he will blame himself for not having seen the signs, for not finding some sort of message to warn them of what was to come. But later is not now, and now he is inspecting floating glyphs one second and the next, whirling at Rebecca’s cry of alarm to see Desmond and Lucy on the ground with blood everywhere. There’s too much blood and he’s horrified by the implications of what they’re seeing, unable to believe it. It’s sheer dumb luck that reinforcements arrive just then in the form of William and his team, having tracked them down the winding path into the vault.

Shaun is still numb with shock as the others hurry forward but he finally pulls Rebecca away from Lucy when it’s clear that, in her panic, she’s not helping. She clings to him, shaking like a leaf, and somehow they manage to find comfort in this, though both are helpless to do anything. It is this comfort he will miss later when he’s alone in a spare room at William’s temporary hideout, waiting for news on Desmond and Lucy. Both are in comas, though there is no sign of injury on Desmond, and it’s unclear whether Lucy will pull through.

Eventually, Rebecca can’t sit still at Lucy’s bedside any more and spends hours pouring through the Animus data, looking for something—anything—that can explain how things came to this. The Apple is quiet once more but its very presence feels vile to Shaun when he joins Rebecca. William’s team watches with pity as the answer they’re looking for eludes them. Finally, they are left drained and frustrated, no closer to the truth than before, while their friends continue to lie lifeless in another room.

Rebecca throws down her headphones and flees the oppressive atmosphere and Shaun follows, finding her just outside the archway of this crumbling, abandoned castle. She’s got her arms wrapped around herself and she’s shaking again, so it seems the most natural thing to pull her close in a hug. They don’t say anything, avoiding giving voice to the worries that are so painfully present in both of their minds. Shaun’s gaze travels up the stone wall that rises beside them but he drops it before he sees the stars. He doesn’t want to think of the sky and what lurks above them, of the countdown that is still ticking away until the Abstergo satellite is activated.

That night, Rebecca slips into his room and crawls into bed with him, curling up against his back. She has her headphones around her neck and he can hear the music softly from behind him. They’d fallen asleep like this once at the villa, after a night of comparing and sharing music, but now the sweet, gentle thing that had been growing between them seems terribly fragile. Shaun tightens his grip on the arm wrapped around his waist and squeezes his eyes tight against a familiar stinging when the music ends.

It is cruel irony that nearly a week later, on the same day that Lucy finally succumbs to her wounds, Desmond wakes up. Shaun is alone again, only this time he’s the one with the patient and Rebecca’s the one hiding in their room. Desmond seems groggy—being in a coma must do that to you—but his eyes plead for Shaun to tell him everything is all right. Obviously he remembers enough to be afraid and his worst fears are confirmed when Shaun looks away, unable to find the words necessary to deliver this blow.

Rebecca still comes to him that night—as she has every night since this nightmare began—but this time she curls into a ball with her back to his, shaking with the sobs she’s trying to muffle. It is with some modicum of relief that Shaun hears her music start up again, giving them both something else to focus on. He wants to take her in his arms again but Lucy was more her friend than his; if she wants to grieve this way, he will let her. He hopes it is enough that he’s simply there for her.

It takes another day before Desmond feels strong enough to leave his bed. They stand outside in a loose huddle, an oppressive, silent weight on all their minds. Rebecca is pressed against Shaun’s side, though she has her arms around herself again. William’s team forms another clump and then there is Desmond, standing by himself. He looks hollowed out, drained of the optimism that had kept him going before.

A jet passes overhead and, as one, they all look up. The sky appears black, the stars barely discernible through the haze of clouds that reflect the floodlights’ glow. The danger is still up there, biding its time, and despite their dwindling numbers, they have to keep moving. Still, Shaun can’t help but wonder if things would look as bleak up there as they do down here.