23. December 7th 2012 ~ Rome, Italy
When are you going to come back?
That was all that Amanda's message read. Daniel, sitting on a medical bed in the Abstergo facility in Rome and reading the message on his phone, wondered whether he should reply now that he was back. He wondered why she would send the message.
Was she just curious? Or had something happened?
A door opened and Daniel hid his phone away in one of his coat pockets. Dr Sung trotted her way towards him, holding a clipboard.
“Hello, Daniel,” she said.
“Hey, doc,” Daniel replied.
Though he would never say it to her face, Dr Sung truly was a woman who carried her heart on her sleeve. She genuinely cared about Daniel, and he knew it. Sung fussed over him often, she liked to keep an eye on him, and pressed for his rest and treatment. In many ways, she was quite maternal.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked.
“Good, good...” Daniel murmured.
“I want to go,” Daniel said bluntly, “I wanna get out of here. Please tell me you'll let me out?”
“Well, you seem stable for the moment-”
Daniel hopped off the bed, “Great! I'll-”
“Daniel, sit down.”
Daniel frowned, but did as he was told.
“I still think you should get some more rest here, wait for your mind to cool down. You can't seem to recall the events in Brazil very well - what you saw, what you did, how you did it all. It's not looking good.”
“I'm not letting you out today,” Sung said firmly, “You're to stay within your assigned quarters, okay? If you show emotional and psychological stability until tomorrow, I might consider letting you out, but definitely not today.”
“Fine,” Daniel muttered.
“Why... why did you even want to go out?” Sung asked cautiously.
Daniel gave her a dark look, “You know.”
“England mentioned that you and Vidic... know.”
“Ah...” Sung sat by the bed on a swivel chair, “you want to go and see... her?” Sung didn't know how else to say it. The term 'girlfriend' seemed alien, inapplicable to someone that Daniel had grown fond of. Sung had never seen him quite so committed to a person before.
Daniel nodded, “I wanna know if she's okay.”
“I suppose, if you gave me her name, I could have someone check on her for y-”
“No,” said Daniel, perhaps more loudly he had intended, “Never.”
“You don't trust me?” Sung sounded hurt.
“I trust you more than anyone else I know working for the Order. But I don't trust you that much.”
“You haven't told her anything, have you? About Abstergo?”
“No... She asks sometimes what I do, where I go - but she thinks I'm a government agent, so she doesn't press for answers too much.”
“She sounds quite reasonable.”
Daniel smiled thinly, “She is.”
“Tell me about her, Daniel.”
“Not a fucking chance, doc. Did Vidic put you up to this?”
Sung sighed, knowing her way around Daniel quite well by now, “I'm not telling you to describe her every aspect.”
“What is she like and, more importantly, how does she make you feel?”
Daniel paused, regarding Sung for a long time before he said, “She's nice.”
“I don't want...” Daniel hesitated, looking at his hands, “I can't...”
“Let's give her a persona we're both familiar with and I'll assign that image to your friend, yes? Let's pretend she's Anna Orelov.”
Anna Orelov was the wife of one of Daniel's ancestors, Nikolai Orelov. He was familiar with her, though she wasn't an Amanda, but Daniel reckoned he could settle with that.
“So tell me, why have you taken a liking to Anna?” Sung asked.
Daniel paused before he said, “She's nice.”
Sung laughed, “Come on, Daniel!”
“Why do you even want to know?”
“I've just never seen you care about another person so much. Not in this sense. And your emotions have become more stable since we found out that you kept visiting the same apartment on the same street, you're not as angry or upset as you were before, and you seem to be sleeping better, you're calmer. I'm curious.”
“And you can't just put down that... 'Anna' is nice?”
“No,” Sung said, amused, “There has to be something more.”
“I... I like her.”
“Is this going to take all night?”
“If I can stall that long...”
“Daniel, come on.”
“If I tell you about her, will you let me go and see her?”
Daniel paused and then sighed, sitting up straight, “She's different, doc. 'Anna'... She's not like anyone else I've met. She's like me.”
“Yeah, not, like, exactly like me. She's not crazy. But she's not... normal. She hurts herself when she's sad, she doesn't eat very well and she cries almost randomly. She's pretty independent though; she punched me once, after the mission in Florence, because I never got back to her calls or her messages.”
“That's why you like her?”
“Yeah, I guess. I mean, she makes me laugh, makes me talk, she just understands me when nothing seems to make sense. She... She treats me like I'm... normal, you know? Like she actually wants to be with me - and not like I'm some nut-job she's forced to take care of.”
Sung raised her brows.
“Oh, er, I didn't mean it like that, doc,” Daniel said sheepishly.
“So she treats you like there's nothing wrong with you?”
“Well, no. She... acknowledges that there's something wrong with me, sometimes she'll tease me about things - like my anger management and my rudeness - but she just doesn't seem to care about the fact that I'm... well, plain nuts.”
“She's not scared of you or intimidated by you in anyway?”
“No. At least, I don't think so. She doesn't act intimidated by me. She quite confidently mocks me at times.”
“And you don't mind that?”
Daniel smiled to himself and shook his head.
“Have you realised just how much you've said about Anna? You've never been so... enthralled by a person. Not in all the years that I've known you.”
“So you'll let me go see her then?”
“Tell me... Tell me how she makes you feel, Daniel.”
“I...” he rubbed the back of his neck, turning his face away as his cheeks turned red.
“Daniel...” Sung furrowed her brows and laughed, “Are you blushing?”
He refused to look at her as he sucked in his cheeks and said, “No,” crossly.
“It's quite alright, Daniel.”
“I can go?”
“Is it so hard?”
“Yes!” Daniel said, “Yes, doc, it is! Nothing's ever felt this right and wrong before,” he paused before he took a deep breath, “It's like... the way you feel when you smoke marijuana: the world turns into this big, happy place where nothing goes wrong. It's not so bad, and neither are you. It numbs everything else that you know and suddenly all the pain in the world can be overlooked, forgotten about - even if it's just for those few moments that you're stoned. And as soon as you've taken a few drags, you're hooked. No matter how much you tell yourself that you shouldn't be doing it, you keep going back. That's how 'Anna' makes me feel. I couldn't tell you about what happened in Florence or New York or Brazil in so many details, but I remember every moment I shared with 'Anna'. Or, I think I do, anyway. Even if it's not everything, it's still a lot more than you or me or Saravakos could have hoped. She...” Daniel bit his lip, and touched the blank patch in his mess of hair, “She fills all the empty spaces in my head and... for a second, I feel like I'm not so sick or angry or... so goddamn tired. Fuck, don't look at me...” he sniffed and put his head in his hands.
Sung touched his shoulder, but he shrugged her off and shook his head. She was stunned. She patted his knee awkwardly, not knowing how to deal with him in this circumstance.
“Do you still want to go and see her, Daniel?”
Daniel raised his head like a meerkat on patrol and nodded quickly.
Sung smiled apologetically and said, “Go on then.”