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Generated: Sep 29, 2020 7:44 PM
Post last updated: Sep 28, 2020 9:31 PM
the truth can be a weapon
sean saves his brother, not knowing his destiny
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Desmond knew how to do this. He'd run the course so many times. He'd learned to keep his steps light, to match his shadow to the ones on his wall. He hadn't made a single noise on the lead up to now, in the closed off room. One man sitting on a chair, his back to the wall. He knew he hadn't been seen, that he had been quiet enough to be unnoticed. 

But the man on the chair had seen him. 

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And yet, the man on the chair made no move. He kept reading his book. His posture didn't even change. 

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Desmond felt fury bubble in his gut. He was babying him. Telling him that it didn't matter he had been seen, because he was going to pretend he hadn't. 

He wouldn't have done that for anyone else. Not for any of the other recruits. 

Not for Sean. 

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As if sensing this, the man on the chair sighed, and closed his book. "You didn't fail, Desmond."

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"Yes. I did." 

Desmond hated how childish his voice sounded, but he knew he was right. He stepped out from behind his hiding place, and stood in front of his father. 

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"And that you didn't alert any of the others? Just me? Is that really a failure?" 

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Desmond's shoulders began to climb towards his ears. "You always said that I have to get past you to succeed." 

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"And you do. Eventually. But right now, a thirteen year old managed to get this close to a Master Assassin. I'd say that is impressive enough." 

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"Master Assassin." Desmond snorted, and kicked his foot against the ground. God, he was sick of that talk. Never mind the constant training, the constant need to prove himself, the adults of The Farm had to invent some kind of superhero group to face off against the imaginary enemy they created. "And what risk does a drug company have, again?"

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William's eyes darkened, and suddenly he was before Desmond, moving in that uncannily fast way he could. 

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Desmond's breath caught, and he pressed himself against the wall instinctively. 

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"Abstergo is not a laughing matter, Desmond. They will destroy everything, kill everyone, just to prove they're right. Don't think for a moment we're safe here. We will never be safe. Not while they exist."

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"...yes, sir." 

Desmond's hands were trembling, where they were braced on the wall. 

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William stared, hard, at his youngest son, for a long moment. 

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And then sighed, and turned away. 

"You're young still. You don't know how in danger you are. I can only hope we can keep you safe. Until you understand." 

He then takes a seat where he had been, and picks his book back up. 

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Desmond waits a few moments, and then runs, bolting to the farmhouse. 

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Inside the armoury, Solonna is sharpening a small dagger, laughing at something another woman says as she reloads a magazine. 

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She's barely able to stay upright after her son barrels into her, tucking his body into hers. 

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She's quick to pass the dagger off to someone else, and wraps her arms tight around her baby son. "Des, aguila pequeña, what's the matter? You know you ran into me, while I was holding a knife, si?"

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Desmond just clutched her tighter, his shoulders shaking a little.

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So Solonna holds him, and waits for him to be ready to speak. 

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Finally, Desmond lifts his head, enough that he was resting against his mother's shoulder. 

"I'm never gonna be an Assassin."

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"You already are, aguila pequeña."

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"I'm not! And I won't ever be!" Desmond says, squirming away from his mother as quickly as he ran into her. "I won't be! Dad thinks I'm weak."

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"He doesn't, mijo. He thinks you're young. Skills come with time and practice."

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"And even if I could be, what's the point? The Templars aren't real! This is just a...a dumb cult!" Desmond kicks at the ground. 

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Cold fear settles over Solonna. The idea of Abstergo not being a threat is her greatest dream. And for her son to so easily disregard it-

"Desmond. They are a very real threat."

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"Then why are we the only ones fighting them?! Why aren't they being bombed, like the terrorists? It's bullshit!" 

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He's young. He hasn't seen what you've seen. He doesn't know what you do

"Because they hide themselves well, in ways that we won't. We won't hide behind civilians." 

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Her words don't reach Desmond, whose pride has been injured. No matter how hard he tries, he can never meet up to his father's expectations of him. 

"We're hiding because dad's a coward. If there was an enemy out there, we wouldn't hide. We'd fight it."

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"Mijo, you don't know their strength, how they can-"

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"Because no one will tell me!" 

Tears are bright in Desmond's eyes, before he dashes them away, furious.

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It's only then Solonna sees where she went wrong. 

"Mijo-" she tries. 

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But Desmond is already stalking away, embarrassed. 

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"Desmond!" She calls out, her heart aching for her young boy, but knowing he wasn't ready for the weight of the things she knew. 

"He'll be all right. Children always want more than they can handle." A hand grips Solonna's shoulder comfortingly. She reaches up to grip it. 

"He'll never be ready for the weight on his shoulders," she says. 

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Meanwhile, carefully hidden in a tall, scraggly pine tree, Sean peers into the only clear path to The Farm. 

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There's a quiet rustle, like someone climbing up behind him. 

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Sean works hard to keep his body still, his face neutral, even as his chest feels tight. He already knows who it is. 

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And then, with incredible grace, Zavier drops onto the platform, just in front of Sean. 

"I nearly had you." He grins.

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Sean can't help the lilt of his lips, but is quick to press the smile back down. 

"Zavi, I'm on duty. What do you want?"

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Zavier slumps down next to Sean, long limbs splayed akimbo. "I was bored. Thought I'd come keep you company."

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"Uh huh." 

Sean spares Zavi one look, and smirks. "You were on kitchen duty, weren't you?"

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"Ugh." Zavi falls onto his back, face disgusted. "I hate kitchen duty."

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"Awww, princess. Too hard for you?"

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Zavi punches Sean's thigh in retaliation, but laughs. 

"I'm too beautiful for that nonsense."

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Sean laughs, but there's a stone in his gut. 

He's incredibly aware of just how beautiful Zavi is. 

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Zavi lets the silence hold for a moment, while he watches Sean stare intently at the road. 

"So...caught any wandering Templars? Any armies coming to crush us?"

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"Nope. Road's as quiet as ever." 

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"And yet you stare at the road like it's going to disappear."

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"I was told to watch the road, so I'm going to watch the road."

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"No one is coming, Sean, you can look away for a bit."

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"Feeling neglected, Zav?"

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"Yes. Pay attention to me."

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Sean rolls his eyes, sighs, and then looks at Zavi. "What?"

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"Tell me I'm pretty."

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Sean rolls his eyes again. "You're very pretty, Zavi."

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"Why, thank you, Sean, that didn't sound at all like you were pulling teeth."

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"Did you really come all the way up here to fish for compliments?"

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"My ego needs feeding."

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"There are some people down that road that also needed feeding."

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Zavi thumps Sean again. 

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"You are such a bully."

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"Yeah? Come make me regret it," Zavi says, smirking. 

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And there it was. Like a hook to his stomach, want. To move that slight bit closer and find out just how soft Zavi's lips were. 

Instead he forcefully looks away. Like he always does. "You done? Can I go back to staring at a road now?"

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After a moment's silence, Zavi speaks. His voice is small. 

"Why do you do that?"

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"Do what." Sean's voice wobbles, even as he tries to keep it even. 

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"Don't do that. Don't pretend like you don't know what we're talking about."

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"I don't. There's nothing to say."

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"There's a lot to say, actually."

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"Zavi-"

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"Is that gonna be an explanation? Or are you going to fob me off with more excuses?" 

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Sean sits back on his heels, and rubs his hands into his knees. 

And stays quiet. 

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Zavi picks himself up, and slides so that he's sitting in front of Sean. He watches Sean's hands clench into the fabric of his pants.

"I'm not trying to...force you. I just...we get so close, and then you're like water. If you didn't like me, you'd make it more clear."

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"Maybe I don't want to hurt your feelings."

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"This constant 'almost but not quite' hurts a hell of a lot more. If you don't like me, just say it." 

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Sean can't. 

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"Then why do you deny yourself? You know I like you too."

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"Complicated."

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"Complicated?"

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"Well, it is."

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"You're currently scouting for an enemy who can and will eradicate us for wanting free will. We're part of an ancient sect of warriors dedicating to safeguarding mankind from itself, Templars, and in the meantime, also trying to find a way to find out more about the aliens who supposedly created humans as a slave race. I know what complicated is. Two people who like each other is not complicated."

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Sean shrinks a little. "I have responsibilities." 

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"Everyone does! Doesn't mean you don't get to take some things for yourself too!"

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"It's easy for you to say that."

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"Is it? Why?"

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"Your father isn't the mentor!" Sean shouts, fury bursting from him. 

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And then, just as quickly, it's gone, and Sean feels shame for yelling at Zavi. His best friend. 

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Zavi doesn't say anything for a long moment, and then gathers Sean into his arms, hugging him tightly. 

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Sean clings to him, forcefully not crying

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"Your dad. Worst kind of cockblock." Zavi's tone is light, but there is something false about it. 

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Sean laughs anyway, a little wet. 

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Zavi strokes Sean's hair, taking what little he can. 

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Eventually, Sean pulls away, and rubs at his eyes. He laughs a little self deprecatingly, and offers Zavi a smile that's a little more like a grimace. 

"Thanks. And I'm so-"

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"Don't apologise," Zavi says, quickly. "It's okay. I understand."

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There's a nasty tug on Sean's heart at his face. "Zavi- I...I mean, if-"

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"No, no, don't do that. It's okay. I'm not happy about it, but it's not your fault. It's...complicated. Like you said." 

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Sean nods, not feeling any better for it. Not being able to do anything about it doesn't stop his feelings. 

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"Just promise me something?"

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Sean looks up, eyebrow quirked.

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"When you get the stick out of your ass, let me replace it with something more comfortable?"

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Laughter explodes from Sean helplessly, as he nearly falls off the platform in shock.

"Zavi! You- disgusting. You're disgusting." He gasps for air as his laughter continues. 

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"I'm gonna take that as a 'Yes, Zavi, I promise.'"

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"I promise nothing," Sean says, breathlessly, trying to get breath back in his lungs. 

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Once Sean's stopped wheezing, Zavi leans in to kiss his cheek. "I better go before someone starves to death. See you later?" 

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Sean nods, and once Zavi is heading back down the tree, he gently touches the place Zavi's lips touched, and feels that same harsh pull on his insides. 

No one ever told him how much want hurts. 

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He's relieved from his post around sunset, and he's able to fill in his replacement very quickly, considering that nothing happened. 

Well, nothing important to the Assassins, anyway. 

Then he's heading down the tree, and making his way back to the Farm.

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Another Assassin greets him as he gets close, but there are two younger ones behind him, frantically waving him over. 

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Sean hurries over to them. "Jesus, where's the fire?"

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Dia has a look in her eye that always means trouble. "Desmond had another test today."

Noah chimes in. "No one spotted him until he was already out!"

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Sean grins, pride for his little brother warming him. "Knew he could do it."

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"Yeah, all the trainers said they hadn't seen him go past at all!" Dia says, bouncing on her toes. 

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"Yeah, well, he's a Miles. We're just better than other people."

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Noah rolls his eyes. "Shut up," he drawls.

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Sean laughs, and knocks his friends gently. "Come on, lets go get dinner. I wanna congratulate Des on being the sneaky asshole I knew he was."

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Neither of them complain about that, and soon all three of them are heading in the mess hall, grabbing plates as they go. 

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Zavi isn't sitting at their usual table. 

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Sean swallows down guilt, and looks for Desmond instead. 

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Desmond sits alone, stabbing at his food with a distinctly pissed look on his face. 

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Sean starts to worry a little. Shouldn't Desmond be crowing about his victory? He should look happy, at the very least.

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"Wonder what's up with him?" Dia whispers.

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"Me too. I'm gonna go sit with him. Can you grab a plate for Zavi too?" Dia nods, and does so, while Sean heads to Desmond with his dinner. 

"Hey, enano." 

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Desmond bristles, and doesn't look up from where he is repeatedly stabbing his food. 

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Jesus. What happened? 

"Heard you did an assessment today. Sounded like you blazed through it!"

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"Yeah? Who told you that?" Desmond says. His voice is venomous. 

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Sean is takenaback. When he passed his own, he hadn't stopped lording it over people for days, that he was gonna be a proper Assassin. 

"Uh...Noah and Dia came and told me. Why?"

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Desmond scoffs, and pushes his food away. "They don't know shit."

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"Don't talk about them like that! The fuck's wrong with you?" 

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"I didn't! I didn't pass!" The words sound like they hurt. 

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Sean frowns, confused. "But they said you weren't seen?" 

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"Dad did. Dad saw me. Took one fuckin' step in that room and he was all 'you haven't failed, Desmond'." Desmond kicks at the ground, furious and miserable. 

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"Des, that's still huge. You got past everyone else. And Dad's Dad. Even if you never get past him-"

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"You got past him!"

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"Yeah, last year. When I was 16, Des! You're 13, and you're already better than I was at that age!"

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"He was gonna pass me anyway. Even though he saw me." 

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Sean flinches. William Miles never does that. For anyone. Sean himself was assessed over and over and over before he made a clean run. 

"Why?"

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"He's babying me. Either that or he's trying to be nice so I stop telling everyone what a joke this is!" The last words are yelled to the whole room, though barely anyone looks up to acknowledge it. 

Desmond's frustration is well known by this point. 

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"Dad doesn't do that, Des. He's not gonna go easy on you just to be nice. There's gotta be a reason." 

Sean ignores the furl of jealousy in his gut. 

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"You tell me what it is then! Because all I know is that all my life I've been trained to fight an enemy which isn't even fucking real! And now, I'm allowed to fuck up!"

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"Desmond, shut up. You don't know what you're talking about." 

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Desmond shoves himself away from the table, sneering at Sean. "You don't even know if they're real. You just hang on Dad's every word, trying to be the precious perfect son."

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"I listen to Dad because he's right! And clearly he should baby you, if this is how you're gonna react after failing an assess!" 

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Tears are suddenly bright in Desmond's eyes, and he kicks his chair away and stalks off, leaving his dinner uneaten. 

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Sean lets his anger burn hot for a few moments, fuelled by confusion, and jealousy-

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-and then lets his breath out in a whoosh, leaning his elbows on the table so he can cradle his head in his hands. 

"Fuck."

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"Not your finest work, mijo."

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Sean waits for his mother to sit next to him, and then lolls his head onto her shoulder. 

"Mrrrgh."

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"I know, I know. He gave me an earful too." 

Solonna pats Sean's head gently. 

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He lifts his head to rest his chin on her shoulder. "I get it. Parts of it."

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"You were so scared after we showed you my memories. I just didn't want him to be so..."

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Sean hugs his mother. "Nah, I get that. But it's not gonna be real for him until he sees." 

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"Still sorry we used you as the trial run." She kisses Sean's temple. 

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Sean can still remember being 10 years old, sat in front of the Animus, watching on the screen as his mother's memories of Abstergo played out. Remembered not being able to sleep for weeks, crying, barely able to leave her side. 

But it also made him see how real the threat was. 

"I think that's the better of two ways to show him, mamá."

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Solonna hums sadly. "You may be right, but I don't like hurting him."

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"Mamá, he's not going to be a kid very long. Assassins don't get to be kids." 

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Solonna pulls away from her son, to hold his face in one hand. Her heart aches with sadness. 

"You sound so old when you say that."

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Sean shrugs. "We all have to grow up sooner than we want." 

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Solonna pulls him back in, hugging him tightly, kissing the top of his head. "Not this quick, nene."

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"I'll always be a baby to you, mamá," he pretends to grouse, but hugs her tight. 

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"You're mine, of course you will be. I get to call you whatever I want." Solonna presses another kiss to his hair. 

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"Ack- mamá! Enough! I've got a rep to protect," Sean laughs, trying to get away.

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"Of course you do!" Solonna pinches his cheek, grinning at him. "And what a terror you are, nene!"

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"Mamá!" Sean tries to bat her hand away. 

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"Sol. A word?" 

William is suddenly before them. 

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"Bill." Solonna drops her hand, and nods towards Sean. 

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William takes her hint, and looks to his older son. "Evening, Sean. How was patrol?" 

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"Uneventful, dad." Sean makes sure he's sitting straight. 

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And that hurts Solonna, so much. 

"I'll see you later, mijo. Be good, huh?" 

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"'course, mamá." 

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She squeezes his hand, and then gets up, heading out of the mess. 

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William nods to his son, and follows her. 

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Solonna doesn't turn around until they're in William's office. She leans against his desk, and gives him a look. 

"You could at least try and be a father to them."

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"It's better they have no emotional attachment to me." 

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"It isn't. They want your approval even more for your coldness."

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"It's better, so that if anything happens to me, they don't do anything stupid."

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"Like go after Abstergo? The way you're training them to do?"

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"Not for vengeance! I don't train them, so that they'll throw their lives away rescuing or avenging me!"

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"If that were true, you wouldn't let them close to me either. Or have friends. You're scared of caring for them, Bill, because you know that's exactly what you would do."

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Williams leans on his desk, his fists hard against the wood.

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Solonna leans into her husband's side. "You would tear the world apart for them. They deserve to know the good man you are, not the mentor you have to be."

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William leans his head against Solonna's, for a moment. 

"Sometimes I feel like you can read my mind."

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"You're just easy to read." Solonna kisses William's cheek.

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William kisses her once, and then rubs a hand over his face, sighing. 

"I'm so proud of them, Sol. Desmond got past Agnes, Kel. Even George. Never had someone so young get past trained field agents like that. And Sean? Takes every duty without complaint."

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"You need to tell them that, Bill."

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"Probably too late now. You've always been better at that part of this."

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"We had children to have children, Bill. Not to raise more soldiers."

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"Yet soldiers they have to be." 

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"Being your son puts them in danger. Better they have the skills and never need them, than not and end up vulnerable."

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"Exactly. So I sacrifice what I want for what they need." 

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"But you don't have to do that!"

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"I would rather my sons hate me and be strong. They have you to care and love them. I can be what they hate now, to protect them later." 

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Solonna wants to argue, wants to push her husband to see how foolish what he thinks is right is, but this is an old, tired argument. So instead, she sits in the chair opposite his desk, and leans her head in her hand, and sighs. 

"You didn't pull me aside for this, I hope." 

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William watches her resign herself to frustration, lets the hurt take him for a moment, and then moves on. 

"We've got intel from the Moscow cell. Some follow ups on the Shroud. Since you had access to the POE research, I was hoping you could confirm some things." 

He loads up the information on his computer.

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Solonna steadies herself with a breath, and then gets up to look over the intel. 

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Sean gives Desmond a few hours to calm down, and then, as the last bit of sun is sinking down behind the mountains, he tracks his brother down to his favourite hiding place. There's a jagged hill of rocks, the prelude to the mountains beyond, that has a flat plateau at the top, surrounded by a lip that hides you from the bottom. It's high up, and hidden, Desmond's two favourite things. 

Sean doesn't give him a warning before he's up and moving fluidly, swinging himself over the top. 

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Desmond gives him one look, and then shuffles aside. He doesn't say a word.

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Sean can't help his small smile. Even mad as Desmond clearly was, he still made room for him. 

Sean lies next to Desmond, staring up at the last stripes of pink and purple in the sky. "I'm sorry."

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Desmonds shifts a little, and digs his shoulders back into the rock. 

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"I know it's frustrating. To have to run all these fucking tests. Prove that you're a good soldier or whatever. But they do just wanna protect you. Give you skills to protect yourself." 

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More shuffling.

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"They just don't wanna show you something you might not be ready for, enano."

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"How am I supposed to care about this if I don't even know why I care?" Desmond mumbles. 

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"Good point." Sean shifts so he can bump his shoulder into Desmond's, and is relieved when Desmond doesn't squirm away. "I guess they were just worried you'd freak. Like I did."

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"You?" Desmond looks at Sean, surprised. His brother was usually the cool and collected one. Sean Miles doesn't "freak". 

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"Yeah, Des. Had nightmares for weeks. It's bad shit." 

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"...what is it?" 

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Sean hesitates, not wanting to push Desmond towards asking to see their mom's memories before he's ready, but also not wanting to piss Desmond off again. The kid was a hurricane. 

"It's...from mom. When she was in Abstergo. There are scientists. They...there's experiments."

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Desmond looks worried, but also nudges Sean to keep going.

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Sean coughs, and shifts, and looks away from Desmond. 

"They were...trying to figure out why some people are stronger, or faster, or...can do special things. Like mom can?"

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"Eagle Vision? That's real?" Desmond is unbelieving still. 

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"Oh yeah. When you see mom's memories, you'll see how she sees the world." 

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"And they were experimenting on her? Testing her?" Desmond's voice raises with his fury. How dare anyone do that to his mother?

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Sean doesn't want to say. He wants Desmond to be unaware, at least for a little longer. But he also knows how furious Desmond would be, knowing he was lied to. Desmond hates things being kept from him, even for his own good. 

"Not...not on her, Desmond. She was away from Abstergo and with Dad when she realised what she could do. She was...one of the scientists."

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"...what?" Desmond's voice is small. "She...she was a Templar?"

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"She was raised by them, Des, she didn't know anything else. Once she knew what was really going on, she started feeding information to Dad, until he could get her out. She was a prisoner. An actual one."

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"But...she wouldn't. She's scared of them!"

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"Because of what she's seen. What she was a part of. And that's why they didn't wanna show you till you were older, Des."

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Desmond is quiet for a while. His head hurts, trying to reconcile his mother, who flinches with mentions of Abstergo, of Templars, who sometimes looks so sad when she thinks no one is watching her, to this mysterious person who was a part of it. 

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Sean reaches out to take Desmond's hand. "Enano? You okay?"

Dumb question, but he can't think of anything else to say.

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Desmond lets a breath out, and then tightens his hand on Sean's. "Yeah. Be careful what you wish for, right?" 

He didn't know that he didn't want to know until he knew. 

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Sean laughs once, quietly. "You said it." 

He squeezes his brother's hand again. "You can talk to her about it. She's not gonna lie to you. And maybe you'll understand a bit better."

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"Kinda still don't wanna believe it."

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"Yeah. Yeah, me neither. Be easier if they were just crazy cultists." 

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"Mmm." 

They lay quietly for a while, watching the last streaks of colour go black, and the stars pop through one by one. "Sean?"

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"Enano?"

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"Can I have a hug?"

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"Awww, Des. Of course." Sean pulls his brother in tight, separating their hands so he can wrap both arms around Desmond.

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Desmond tucks his head under Sean's chin, and nuzzles as close as he can. He can hear Sean's heartbeat, steady as ever.

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Sean hugs Desmond as tight as he can, and glares up at the sky.

Desmond should've gotten to be a kid. He should have a favourite superhero, not way to kill someone.

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After a while, Desmond punches Sean.

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"Hey!" Sean lets him go, to rub his arm, faking outrage. "What the fuck was that for?"

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"For you to get off me." 

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"You could've asked, asshole."

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"Worked didn't it?" Desmond rolled onto his back, and went back to stargazing.

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Sean sits up, and frowns in concern at his brother. "You okay?"

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"Mmm." Desmond shrugs. "Just wanna lie up here and think for a bit." 

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Sean can take that note. "Sure, enano. Make sure you do go and sleep though. Okay?"

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"Promise. I'll be down later."

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"...okay." Sean can't think of anything else to say, so he just swings back over the lip of the hill, and makes his way back down, carefully, in the dark.

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Desmond turns his head to watch him go, and then squints. 

Did Sean just...glow gold? Desmond shakes his head, and hauls himself up to watch Sean make his way down, but Sean is as not-glowy as he ever was. 

Huh. Weird. Desmond chooses to put it out of his mind, and lies back down.

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Rather than doing what he told his brother to do, Sean collects his sketchbook, a torch, and his "secret" stash of cigarettes, and climbs up on the room of the armoury. Maybe the 'wanting to be up high' thing was a trait for all Assassins. 

He finds his usual comfy place, and opens up his sketchbook, to lean it on his knees, so he can draw and hold the torch. Though, once he has a pencil in his hand, he realises that his head is racing too much to focus on something. Every time an idea comes to him, the next one takes its place too quickly to fully form. He sighs, closes it, and sits it down next to him, going for a smoke and his lighter instead.

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"Those'll kill you, you know." Zavi sounds smug. 

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Sean doesn't let his fear that things will be different between them show, and snorts, handing Zavi the one he just lit, and grabs another. "Nicotine or Templars. What a choice."

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"Hopeful sort, aren't you?" Zavi takes the cigarette.

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"Dad would say practical."

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"I think you'll find your father would say 'Sean Miles, get those things out of your mouth, what do you not want your lungs to work?'"

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Sean laughs. "Yeah...yeah, he would probably mention something about self-sabotage."

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"Which you have never done and would never do."

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"Obviously."

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"Yes, obviously." Zavi rolls his eyes. 

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Sean takes a drag, and watches Zavi do the same, and then awkwardly shuffles his foot on the roof. "Uh. Didn't see you at dinner." 

He both wants to and doesn't want to bring it up, but if he and Zavi are gonna get back to normal, they need to talk.

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Zavi frowns, confused. "No, I wasn't."

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Oh, good, he's going to torture it out of Sean. Well, maybe he deserves it. 

"I was wondering...if it was because of earlier. Because I am sorry and I-"

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"Oh my god, you adorable dumbass," Zavi says, cutting Sean off.

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"Huh?" 

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"Sean. I wasn't at dinner because I had to make up for ditching at lunch," Zavi says slowly, grinning the whole time.

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Oh.

"Oh."

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Zavi tugs Sean's head down so he can kiss the top of it. "You think too much."

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Sean bats him off, scowling as he blushes. "I thought you were mad at me!"

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"For what? Having a father that expects too much from you? What are you gonna do about it?"

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"Okay, god, shut up. I regret saying anything."

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"No, keep going, I wanna hear about how you moped about the mess, searching for my face, but never finding me..." 

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"Uuuuugggghhhhhhh." Sean hides his face in his hands.

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Zavi laughs, and wraps an arm around Sean, hugging him close. "I'm a parasite, Sean, you're not getting rid of me."

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"Kinda wish I had, now."

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"You liar," Zavi murmurs into Sean's ear, before leaning his head on his shoulder. 

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Sean pulls his hands away from his face so he can hug Zavi back, and lean his head on his.

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Zavi presses his nose into Sean's hair, and closes his eyes. "Everyone in the kitchen was talking about Des. He blew everyone away during his test?"

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"Yeah, dad included." Sean can hear the sadness in his own voice, remembering the argument he'd had with Desmond at dinner. 

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"I'm sensing a story?"

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"Yeah." Sean goes into the tale.

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Zavi listens, stubbing out his cigarette so he can grab Sean's hand.

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"...and I don't know if telling him that was the right thing, but he fucking hates being lied to. It's like...pathological, with him. He despises it." 

Sean's hand is still tight in Zavi's, and it's enough to make Sean feel light headed. Or maybe that's the cigarette he smoked way too quickly.

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"It's a tricky line to walk. But you did the right thing. Desmond had to know eventually, or he probably would've taken off into Nebraska. Or worse." 

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"North Dakota worse?"

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"The further north you go, the colder it gets! And it's already tits-freezingly cold here!" Zavi says, jabbing their joined hands up. 

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"He might go even further," Sean taunts. 

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"Don't you even-"

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"He might go to Canada!"

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"I would kill him myself before that happened. No one deserves to be that cold!" Zavi declares.

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Sean practically falls onto Zavi, shoulder shaking with how hard he's laughing. 

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Zavi hugs him closer. "And don't get me started on maple syrup."

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"Oh, come on, what have you got against that of all things?"

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"I refuse to ingest tree juice. Disgusting."

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"Oh my god-" Sean gets out, before he bends over in another round of helpless giggles.

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Zavi noses back into Sean's hair, giggling softly.

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Sean eventually sits back up, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. "Thanks, Zavi. I needed that."

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Zavi strokes along Sean's spine. "Eh. Don't think anything of it. I'm glad to help you take that load of your shoulders every once in a while."

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"I don't think I can ever tell you how much that means to me."

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Zavi hopes he's reading between those lines correctly. 

"You don't have to. I know you'd do the same for me."

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Sean thinks back to earlier, when they had a moment where it would've been perfect to kiss. He thinks this is another one. 

So he drops his head down, to rest on Zavi's shoulder, and huffs. 

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"Yeah. Yeah, I know." Zavi gathers Sean close, and keeps stroking his spine. 

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"I...we...mmffgrrb."

Wow, Sean. 

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"Yes, very intelligent. And articulate." 

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"Mmmmmmff."

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"Another excellent point."

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"Shut up," Sean laughs, and sits up, as loathe as he is to move away from Zavi. He rubs his face, trying to reassemble some kind of stoic dignity. Or whatever. "You got duties in the morning?"

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Zavi makes a face that says he definitely does. "You?"

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"I'll find something to keep me occupied. Might join in on the training."

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"You do know that you're allowed to take some time for yourself, right?"

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"Ehhhhhh," Sean says, tipping his head back and forth while he pretends to think.

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Zavi laughs, and pokes Sean in the stomach. "Come on, workaholic." He leads the way getting down from the roof.

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"Hate to see him leave, etc etc," Sean comments as he follows him down.

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"Oh, if you wanna start that, you have already lost and you know it."

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"Hey, Zavi, question."

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"Mmm?"

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"You do know that flirting isn't actually a competition? It's important to me that you know that."

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"Everything is a competition, esé, and I am winning."

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"Fuck you."

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Zavi giggles, and hugs Sean quick once. 

And then, as he's heading off to his own house and bed, he calls back. "Fuck me yourself, coward!"

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Sean laughs, and heads off home himself, purposefully not thinking about it. He's not thinking about it when he gets to his front door, when he kisses his mom good night, when he changes for bed and slips under his covers. 

He's not thinking about it. He's not-

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He's thinking about it. 

Fuck's sake. 

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And of course, twenty minutes later when a weird layer of shame and guilt are taking over from the bliss, he bumps into his mother on his way to the bathroom.

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Solonna raises an eyebrow at how stricken her son looks, and forcefully doesn't laugh at him. "Everything all right, mijo?"

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"Yep. All good. Just-" He nods at the bathroom, keeping his hands tucked behind his back

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"All right." Solonna tortures her son a little longer by pretending to scrutinise him. "Well. Good night, nene." 

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"Yeah, night!" Sean practically shouts, launching himself into the bathroom.

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Solonna laughs to herself as she heads to her room.

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Sean glares at himself in the mirror, while washing away his guilt, but he can't help but blush. Half at the imagined, er, situation he had dreamed up, and half because it was such an embarrassing response that even Zavi would tease him for. 

Yet, when he climbs back into bed, he feels somewhat vindicated that Zavi likes him. Picked him. Even if Sean's response to it is mildly-to-horrifically embarrassing. 

He's asleep before he hears Desmond come home. 

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The watch changes at 1am. 

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At 1.01, people in black combat gear start shooting.

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Screaming wakes Sean, and he tears himself out of bed, mind sluggishly trying to process being awake, being panicked- 

Gunfire. 

Sean allows himself one moment to freeze, collect himself, then grabs whatever clothes are closest. "Des, we gotta-" he starts, and then looks. 

Desmond's bed is empty. 

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There's a scream from outside, rage filled and awful, but then it stops as a gun fires three times. 

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Sean forces himself to quiet, to get as close to the window as possible, to assess. Don't panic. Don't think about Desmond out there. We'll find him. He's gonna be okay. 

You trained for this. 

Once he's sure of himself, he opens the window, as quiet as he can, and pulls himself up and over. 

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He makes it three steps before a gun is in his face. 

"Another one of the kids, we taking him too?" The masked figure says. 

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Taking..?

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The figure doesn't get to speak again, as a knife rips through his throat. 

He gurgles as he falls. 

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Solonna doesn't give Sean a second to react, just grabs him, and pulls him towards the forest. "Run, Sean!"

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"Mum! What's-"

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Three more figures run at them, guns raised, but not at Sean. Just his mother. 

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Solonna shoves Sean away, as far as she can, and grabs three throwing knives from her belt, rolling into the cover of the closest building. 

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"Get after her! I've got the boy!" Two of the figures peel off, and the last advances on Sean. 

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Sean allows himself one moment to panic, call himself an idiot for not grabbing a weapon. 

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And then once the figure is closer, he kicks up, aiming for the knee, not waiting for the figure to react before he's launching up, a punch aimed for the figure's throat. 

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They drop their gun, hand going to their throat.

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Sean grabs the gun, and fires once, into the spot just above the figure's goggles. 

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The body hits the ground. 

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Sean's first kill. 

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He throws the gun aside, and takes off, keeping low and quiet, and heading towards Desmond's hill. He doesn't think about anything but finding his brother. He can't. 

He doesn't have time. 

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There's a body in front of him. Glassy eyed, bloodied from the many gunshots. 

It's Kel. 

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Kel trained the youngest of their Assassins. Helping perfect their grip as they learned to climb. 

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But he has a blade on his wrist, and Sean knows that weapon better than any other. 

He mutters thanks as he strips it from Kel, and fastens it quickly to his arm. 

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He keeps running through the compound - his home - , and forces himself not to slow down as he watches friends murdered, forces himself not to wonder where his mother, his father, Zavi are, because he has to find Desmond. He has to find his brother. 

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"This one's running for the hills!" Calls a voice. 

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It's silenced as an Assassin descends from the roof, landing on them hard enough to break their neck. 

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Sean keeps running-

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And when he finds Desmond, his whole body goes cold. 

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He's tucked as close as he can to a wall, and when he sees Sean, his eyes are bright with terrified tears. 

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"We know you're here, boy! We're not here to hurt you. We just wanna take you to a nice place!" Calls one of the six figures advancing on Desmond's hiding place. 

Desmond is trapped. 

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Sean thinks he can take down three before they kill him, but at least that will give Desmond time to run. He'll be able to catch up with their mom, or maybe Zavi will find him. 

Sean flicks his blade open, and peels away from the shadows, ready to launch himself at the closest one. 

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Something silver catches the light of the moon- 

And a knife is sticking though the neck of Sean's target. The figure grabs at their throat, bubbling around the knife. 

"The fuck!? Show yourself!" The figures turn from finding Desmond, the light of their torches swinging around. 

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"Got one with all your names on them!" Zavi shouts, another knife ready in his hands. 

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There are guns pointed at Zavier. 

There are guns pointed at Zavi-

Sean stumbles, and his feet scuff along the ground, defeaning in the silence. 

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Two of the figures start to look back. 

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Zavi throws a knife at both of them, one getting hit in the knee, the other the side. 

"What!? Not good enough for you!?" He taunts.

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Zavi...

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Zavi gives Sean a look, begging him to run-

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And then throws one more knife, bolting away. 

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"Get after him!" A figure shouts, and they charge after Zavi, Desmond forgotten. 

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Don't think about it. Get Desmond out. Don't think. 

Don't think. 

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"Sean!" Desmond's hand is tight in his. "Sean, we gotta- we gotta help-"

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Can't think about it. Don't. He's fine. He's Za- he's-

"We gotta run, Des-" 

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"We can't leave Zavi behind!" 

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DON'T THINK ABOUT IT- DON'T- 

his chest hurts so much. he doesn't want to- he can't-

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"We're going."

Sean tightens his grip on Desmond's hand and starts running. 

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"But what about-" 

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"Fucking run, Desmond!"

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"THERE! TWO MORE!"

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And that's the last thing those two people will ever say, as the Mentor of the Assassin Order melts from the shadows, and kills them without blinking. 

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"DAD!"

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"RUN!"

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"What-" 

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Sean doesn't let Desmond finish. He just drags him out into the shadows of the forest, pulling him when he stumbles. 

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When the sun rises, the Black Hills Farm is decimated. 

Three black vans pull up on the outskirts of the village.

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Out of one steps a man with hair starting to grey at his temples. 

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One of the black-clad figures walks to him. "Welcome, sir." 

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"Good haul?" The man questions, following as the armed figure leads the way to the centre.

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"Young, well trained. Miles knows how to make a good soldier." 

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"Any chance of stepping over his body on our way in?" 

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"Unfortunately not, sir. Slipped through, as did-"

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"Don't say her name, I already have enough of a headache." The man rubs his temples. 

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"Sorry, sir." The armed figure can't keep the smile out of his voice. 

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"Don't laugh, that woman made me go grey. It would be a relief to put a bullet through her skull." 

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The black-clad figure leads the man into the centre of the village, where the rest of the armed figures are, guns trained on the children huddled together.

"Twelve. Some fled, but the Spider is tracking a few through the forest."

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"I've lost count of the amount of times I've told you not to nickname them, Travers. Let's not rehash that." The man crouches in front of one of the children. 

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"Hello, son. You're safe now. Free from the-"

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He spits on him. 

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Utterly unfazed, the man wipes away the spittle with a handkerchief. "Oh, they have their claws in you deep." 

He motions Travers forward. "Is Vidic's program still active?" 

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"I believe so, sir. I will have to confirm, though." 

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"Do it. In the meantime, compile a list. One for Vidic, one for Berg." 

He looks at the boy he spat on him. "This one for Vidic." 

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"Yes, sir." Travers motions someone else, and they start to pull the children, up, herding them to the vans. 

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One of the bodies nearest the greying man is suddenly up and moving, blade bared, inches from him-

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A single shot rings out, and the Assassin is down, blood and gore splattered across the ground. 

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The man scowls, and looks down at his suit. "Anything get on me?" 

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"Completely clear, sir," Travers reports. 

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"Good. This is a good suit, I won't have viscera on it." 

He nods to the shooter. "Excellent shooting, Barnes. As always." 

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He nods. "Sir." 

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"Rest of you, keep an eye out. Make doubly sure. We don't want anything down getting back up." 

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"Let's get moving." 

Travers and the rest start moving the children towards the vans, shooting into dead bodies as they go.