Chapter 19: The Power to Protect
Freya accompanied Rei to St. Benedict's Academy as she always did, though she was again turned away by the security guards for lack of a registration. She had long ceased to find their obstinacy a bother, though; after all, she could always take her alternate route.
Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
Despite her undying hatred for Abstergo for what they had turned her into, Freya recognized and admitted that it was thanks to the skills they'd quite literally equipped her with that she was now capable of all this. As she leapt from the gate to hang from the windowsill of a second floor classroom, she relished the delightful irony at the thought of Abstergo ultimately being laid low, possibly even buried, by its own hubris and ambition.
Nothing else could have motivated the decision to turn her into what she was now.
Even as she slowly but surely ascended towards the roof, Freya couldn't help but notice that she was well into the process of getting over her self-hatred at what she had become. She still had her periodic lapses into contemplative silence, but she no longer dwelled on her status as Abstergo's so-called Platinum Angel. Instead, she focused on happy thoughts, on her loved ones and on her recent experiences.
And on a certain someone in particular…
The best revenge, as they say, is living well.
Though hanging them with their own rope would be a close second.
Finally, Freya reached the rooftops of St. Anselm's building, where she knew most of Rei's classes took place. She firmly gripped the edge of the roof before dropping down and then clambering up on the third floor ledge.
But as she made to enter the classroom…
Freya turned to her left and saw Shana, distress written all over her face, running frantically at her. She tilted her head to the right in a gesture imbibed from Rei, wondering what could possibly have put her in her current state.
"Oh hi, Shana," she began, the smile fading from her face as she took in the look on Shana's. "Is something the matter?"
She couldn't explain it, but she felt a faint rush of fear at seeing the stricken expression on the girl Rei affectionately called his 'mother'. The way she looked, dangerously close to freaking out, didn't help either. Her default modes switched from 'bubbly and lively' to 'outraged and positively terrifying', so seeing her like this was not only new, it was rather… scary.
Nor was Freya particularly reassured when Shana took her by the hand to the stairs, where a small crowd had gathered.
Even from afar, Freya recognized the spiky black hair visible she could just make out from gaps in the crowd. The inspiring face was equally impossible to miss, though right now it was contorted in pain, with some blood running down from the right temple. And when she got closer…
There was no doubt about it.
Freya either didn't notice or didn't care even as her scream caused everyone there to stare at her. None of that mattered to her right now, and she could care less what they'd be saying behind their backs.
Right now, all Freya cared about was the one she cradled in her lap.
And as she caressed him, Freya swore that if something happened to him, those who'd hurt Rei would die.
Rei woke with a start in his school's infirmary.
"Where… is this?"
He tried to sit up, but his body felt as though it were being pinned down by leaden weights. Additionally, he flinched as the back of his head pulsed with pain, which itself was compounded by the sheer weight of the bandages wrapped around it –
Rei let out a weak grown as someone embraced him, pressing him against her chest as she forced him back to bed. No sooner had that someone released him than he opened his eyes to see who it was…
She was smiling at him the way she always did, but right now, the purity of her smile was somewhat marred by the tears streaking down her cheeks as she regarded him. From the look on her face, it was as if she'd feared that he might never wake up again.
Something had happened to him, but what? All he remembered was walking up the stairs earlier today on his way to his morning class –
"Why… are you crying, Freya? What happened to me?"
Rei was aware of how those two questions were making him come across as rather dim, but answers were something he both wanted and needed right now. As it was, the pain in his head and the weight of those bandages were ruining his day, as was his mere presence here; he at least deserved to know what the hell happened to him, right?
"Rei… you don't remember?" Freya asked, sniffling. "You fell down a flight of stairs. I was afraid you'd never wake up…"
At this, Freya was reduced to sobbing incoherently atop Rei, who absently patted her back in order to comfort her. He wasn't being conceited or anything, but he didn't blame her for reacting that way. Hell, if their roles were reversed, he'd probably be just as torn up over it as Freya was over his accident.
Just then, the door opened ever so slightly; not quite wide enough to make a sound or to arouse Freya's attention, but wide enough that Rei could see the eye that peered into the room at him.
"Oh, yeah. Freya…? I need to ask a favour."
She obeyed, sniffling as her wide, bleary amber eyes found him.
"Could you… attend the rest of my classes today?" Rei requested weakly. "Let Shana and the others know I'm alright. Don't worry," he added, heading off the protests he knew she was going to make next. "It'll only be for three hours… you can come back for me after."
Freya nodded slowly. Rei got the feeling that she really didn't want to leave him there, and again, he knew he'd feel the same way for her had their roles been reversed. The thing was, he didn't want his friends to worry about him too much, and besides, it might help Freya get her mind off things. It wasn't like he was going to die or anything.
Finally, after much hesitation on her part, Freya left to attend the remainder of today's classes.
Around 15 minutes after she'd gone, someone new entered the room. One look in the newcomer's eyes told Rei who the one from earlier was.
"I'm glad to see you're alright, Mr. Mikage."
He was of Caucasian origin, with dirty blond hair and pale eyes that spoke of extensive experience living a hard life. His build was lean and athletic, the type of person who'd easily become the star player in any sport he saw fit to excel at. The way the man carried himself, meanwhile, was familiar to Rei; it reminded him of how his brother-in-law usually was.
"My name's Daniel Cross. It's quite a pleasure to meet you..."
Freya's face was still streaked with tears as sat with Shana in their classroom.
She hardly listened to the lecture; it was a waste of time, seeing as there was nothing the professor was telling them that she didn't already have programmed into her. She could easily tutor Rei on her own, and even then, considering how he practically ate books up, he'd probably not even need tutoring. Indeed, had it not been a direct request on his part, she would have stayed glued to his bedside.
Freya felt like slapping those guards around right about now. It was indirectly their fault this happened, seeing as they forced her to take that alternate route for reasons known only to them. Had she been beside Rei at the time of his accident, it might never had happened, and if someone was behind it, that person would have been sleeping with the worms by now.
As it was, she felt a very powerful urge to inflict that end on those guards.
The only problem was that Rei wouldn't approve.
"Earth to Freya, please respond."
She cast a sidelong glance at the idiot Asakura, who grinned at her in a way that made her want to tear his head right off. She wouldn't at all be surprised if it had been him who'd done that to Rei, actually, but she hoped for his sake that he wasn't. As with those security guards, she had half a mind to follow through on those violent thoughts of hers –
Those words, not to mention the person who spoke them, were what snapped Freya back to reality. All eyes were upon her as she stood up, looking the professor squarely in the eye as she did so. She expected a reprimand, and readied what would be her retort –
"…Is he alright?"
The sincerity caught Freya off-guard. Normally, the name by which the professor had called her would have elicited a violent blush from her, but right now, she was too worried about Rei to care. Regardless, she forced herself to maintain eye contact and to project an outward façade of calm.
Even then, the lone tear that rolled down her left cheek betrayed exactly how Freya felt.
"My name is Daniel Cross. It's a pleasure to meet you, even if the circumstances could have been better."
Rei felt pain shoot through his neck as he tried to tilt his head to the side, much to Daniel's mild amusement. "You shouldn't move around so much, Rei. Not after what happened to you. You're lucky you didn't break anything, actually."
Rei couldn't help but crack a grin at that. "…I see. How do you know me, sir?" It wasn't that he distrusted this man, but they'd just met, after all, and the way he was acting suggested a sense of familiarity.
"'Daniel', not 'sir'," he laughed, grinning back. "It's okay, kid, I won't hurt you. I happen to know your brother-in-law very well, too. And for that matter," he added, "I happen to know all about your persocom as well."
Strictly speaking, thought Daniel, what he said was true. While Rei's persocom was his prey, Rei himself was innocent and would not be harmed in any way. In fact, not only would he not be harmed, he'd even come out of this better than he was coming in.
And Daniel did indeed know Lorenzo Auditore, as well. Not only was he directly descended from one of the Assassin Order's most prominent Mentors, he also happened to have derailed many of Abstergo's operations in the past. In terms of priority, Auditore was the third most wanted among the Assassins. Only William and Desmond Miles – the acting Mentor and his son – were higher than on the list.
"What about my persocom?" Rei said guardedly. Whoever he was, this Daniel guy was well-informed. He had connections, and had likely done his homework on top of that. If he knew that his sister was secretly married, and that there was more to Freya than met the eye, he was clearly something else.
But could Rei really trust him?
"Look, kid," Daniel added as Rei opened his mouth, having guessed what was on the youth's mind, "I know this'll be hard to believe, but I'm here to help you."
Again, this was true; what he was about to offer the youth was very much beneficial to him. "Some very bad men are after your persocom. I know she's a badass killer robot and all, but don't you want the power to protect? Don't you want to be able to protect your loved ones yourself?"
"I know how you feel, kid. Once upon a time I was like you. There was this chick I knew way back when… I once called her a 'hot killer ninja', but now that I really think of it, even those words don't do her any justice."
Yet again, reflected Daniel, what he'd spoken really was true. Strictly speaking, none of the things he'd told Rei were lies.
First and foremost, he'd already cast himself in the role of the villain in their love story – though of course he was the hero of his own little drama. He likewise conceded, however grudgingly, that the persocom was, in fact, a badass killer robot – she had, after all, been the first to inflict such heavy casualties on his team.
After this incident, Daniel was sure that Rei wasn't feeling too good about himself, either. Usually it was the guy who defended his mate, but things were different in this case, given how he was just a college student and his girlfriend happened to be a killer robot. He privately thought that the youth had nothing to be ashamed of, but then it would be one thing to know that, and another to like it.
As for the 'hot killer ninja'…
"Think about it, Rei," Daniel spoke again after several moments of silence. "I've been there before you, so believe me when I say that that feeling of uselessness really is awful. I could help you fix that, if only you'd let me."
Rei opened his mouth to speak, but Daniel cut him off with a gesture.
"You don't need to tell me your answer now," Daniel said as he turned to leave the room. After all, such a decision wasn't one to be taken lightly.
"When you've decided, you know how to reach me," he added as he pointed at Rei's cellphone on the bedside table, just before closing the door on his way out.
And as he made his way out of the infirmary, Daniel wore a satisfied smile on his face.
He really was looking forward to having Rei Mikage on board.
Think it over, kid…
A/N: For those of you unfamiliar with Assassin's Creed, try going here:
assassinscreed . wikia . com
It's got lots of info there, including stuff about the Assassins and Abstergo, not to mention Daniel's backstory.
R&R please :)