39 Playing The Fool
Thomas returned to the Master Assassin's office the next day, finding that his Ezio style robes had been replaced with the usual, British style uniform. Grumbling under his breath, Thomas waited outside, tugging at his sleeves in protest.
"Mister Young?" The voice called from within and Thomas entered, greeted by the Master Assassin and a young boy, possibly sixteen.
"Yes, sir?" Thomas said, glancing to the boy.
"Thomas, this is William Hunt, he's a trainee assassin and I'd like you to accompany him on a field mission today."
"Of course, sir." Thomas nodded.
"Mister Hunt has shown great talent in training, exceptional skill and instinctive action. Much like another young man." The Master Assassin gave Thomas a sly grin, remembering when he first started training.
"Indeed, sir." Thomas grinned back. "And the contract?"
"No killing, I just need some eyes to watch someone. Across the city, there's a group of suspected Templars. I'd like you to follow and track them. Keep out of sight and do not engage." At the last command, the Master Assassin stared directly at the young assassin who bowed his head. "This one was caught signing up for advanced assassin contracts the other week." He told Thomas.
"Sorry, sir." William murmured.
"It's not a problem, just as long as you didn't actually carry it out." He raised an eyebrow at the mischievous assassin.
"Well, we should get going." Thomas said, waving the boy out of the door.
"Ah yes, thank you, Thomas." The Master Assassin said and he nodded in reply.
"So, caught signing up for advanced contracts were you?" Thomas asked, amused as the office door closed behind them.
"Yes, it just... It looked like something I could do. You know, without dying?" William shrugged.
"Look, I was like you once, lad." Thomas smiled as they stepped down into the tunnels. "Not too long ago, actually. I wanted to show my worth by doing everything in a fortnight that others couldn't do in years. I wanted to go out on missions that were too advanced for me and earn more gold than I knew what to do with. But you have to take small steps before you leap."
"But you didn't need the contracts for gold, you went to the Bahamas for that." William said, following Thomas as he took a torch off the wall to light the way. "We heard you dealt with pirates and the like."
"I did, aye, and I earned my fair share of coin from the work I've done. But living on the seas isn't for everyone."
"Would you go back? Or do you prefer England?" The curious boy asked.
"I..." Thomas trailed off. Given half the chance, of course he'd return. His feet preferred the rock of the boat and the soft sand, rather than the firm ground of British turf. And of course, he wished he could be back with Jemima but he was loyal to Elizabeth, as loyal as he could be, and nothing would change that now.
"I don't know, maybe." Thomas shrugged. "I'd like to but England is my home. I can't leave again."
"Is England your home because you were born here? Or because you love it?"
Thomas frowned at the question.
"Because I was born here."
"And do you love the West Indies?"
Thomas gave an amused laugh.
"In a way, I do, aye."
"Then maybe that's your home." William concluded as they cut through more tunnels, heading for the other side of London.
Thinking on it, maybe the boy was right. He did love the Bahamas and all the people he met. He missed the sound of the sea, the cry of animals in the jungles and all the faces he left behind, even Kenway.
"What pirates did you meet?" William asked as the tunnel reached an end. "Were they brutal and fearsome?"
"Aye, they were." Thomas said, putting the torch to the side as he opened the hatch above them. "Particularly one named Blackbeard. The man drank rum with gunpowder and had lit fuses woven into his hat. He could give a man nightmares just by looking at him."
Thomas remembered being back on the Jackdaw, Jemima by his side as it pulled along side Blackbeard's own ship. It was a magnificent thing, decked out with dozens of cannons, a beautiful yet fearsome vessel. He remembered the terrible Edward Thatch, glowing fuses in his hat as his leaned towards Bonnet, growling, the poor merchant quivering in his boots.
"That's your father?" He recalled saying to Jemima who laughed, then turned and stared him deep in the eyes. She too shared her father's dark, almost demonic eyes, piercing into him as she glared.
"Alright. I'm convinced." Thomas said, turning away before her eyes burned any deeper into his soul.
Back to the present day, Thomas and William climbed up a church steeple for a better vantage point, perching on the jutting beam. The young assassin gripped the edge, looking about below.
"I don't see anything." He told Thomas, sitting back in defeat.
"Have you tried looking?" The experienced assassin raised an eyebrow with a slight smile and the boy understood.
"Oh..." He looked back to the ground, his eyes shifting into a bird like shape.
"There!" William pointed to a well dressed gentleman below. Of course, Thomas had already seen the target, but he let the junior have this one.
"Good. Let's go. Now remember, keep low." Thomas instructed before springing off the steeple, throwing his arms wide before landing in a straw pile below.
Thomas brushed the straw off him, standing, just as the boy landed with a 'whump' behind him. The two assassins crept through the city, keeping the target in sight.
"Did you see many Templars while you were in the Bahamas?" William asked, but Thomas waved him down.
"Yes, but now's not the time for stories. Hush and keep close."
The followed on, cutting through the town. Thomas tried to take the lead but William eagerly ran on, his steps quicker than his superior and the distance between him and his target began to close at an alarming rate.
As the Templar man glanced over his shoulder, Thomas pulled the impatient boy back into the shadows.
"Will, I said keep low!" Thomas hissed, letting go of his collar.
The young assassin mumbled an apology but continued to creep ahead of Thomas, despite his angry commands to come back. Thomas began to grow afraid, if the Templar saw William, he'd kill him and although he had 'exceptional' skill, it wouldn't be enough to save him from whatever the Templars had in store. The entered an alley and while Thomas lingered behind, William was practically right behind the man.
"Will! William!" He quietly shouted through gritted teeth as the young assassin crept up behind him, wrist blade extended. "What are you doing, lad?!"
William raised his arm to grab the man and Thomas nearly shouted for him to stop, breaking his cover. The Templar spun and grabbed the boy's arm, fear and shock alighting on his face. The Templar smashed his fist across William's face with his spare hand and threw the assassin to the floor.
"Will!" Thomas yelled and leapt at the Templar.
The man glanced up, just in time to see the white flash pin him to the ground, slicing his wrist blade through his neck. Thomas knelt beside the corpse and rummaged through his clothing, checking for documents or anything which would give the assassins an advantage. May as well make the best of the situation.
"Hey, Thomas," William stood, holding his bloody nose, "thank for that, I-"
"You bloody fool, Will!" Thomas barked, standing and towering over the boy. "You could have died!"
"I'm sorry, I just-"
"If I wasn't there, that Templar would have gutted you before you could call for help!"
"I said I'm sorry!" William insisted. "Look, my mother was an assassin, and since she died, I've been trying to prove-"
"I don't give a fuck about your sob story, boy!" Thomas snarled, grabbing the young assassins collar, shaking him. "If you had been with someone less experienced than you, you could have got them killed too! Do you want their blood on yours hands just because of your bumbling stupidity, that you can't even follow the simplest of orders?!"
"Leave me alone!" William cried, pulling himself away and stormed up the alley, back to the London streets.
He stopped at the end of the alley, standing in the sun light, his silhouette standing strong.
"You know what?" He spat. "I heard that Thomas Young was brave, talented and kind. That he helped anyone he could. But I know different. You're no better than those fucking pirates. Thomas Young, you're a prick."
And with that, the young assassin disappeared, leaving Thomas in the dark alley, wondering if he was more pirate than assassin after all.