Assassin's Creed: U-Turns

NaNoWriMo 2014. Hopefully I aim to finish this. It is a sequel to At Cross Roads though, so


61. 14th December 2013, 8:05 am ~ Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), USA

“Oh, damn it!”

Amanda tripped over her own feet and stumbled onto the ground, throwing her box filled with everything she meant to throw out. She sighed, muttering curses under her breath, and picked herself slowly off the floor. She raised her brows at the sight of someone crouching to peer down at all her discarded possessions. He pulled a magazine out of the pile between forefinger and thumb - as if it were a tissue covered in snot. He gave Amanda a look caught between surprise and amusement.
Amanda felt her cheeks grow warm and a sheepish grin mounted her lips, “Silently judging me?”
Juhani helped her up, “Promise me you won't break my nose, and I might answer that question.”
Amanda shook her head and began picking up all her things back into the box, “This might be hard to believe, but they aren't mine.”
Juhani helped her, trying not to look at the pages. For what, though, Amanda wasn't sure. He was a guy, she didn't think it would be the sort of thing he'd be ashamed of.
“You've been here for... how long now?” Juhani asked, “What's your excuse for holding onto all of this for so long?”
“Don't get me started - between your buttheadedness and prepping and Animus treatment and Pauline and - last but not least - killing my good friend John: I haven't exactly had much time for redecorating.”
“A simple 'I was curious' would have been fine.”
Amanda looked at a magazine cover, “These actually gross me out more than turn me on...” she turned it over and threw it back in the pile, “This is some insanely creepy shit.”
“What would Daniel say if he heard you say that?”
Amanda thought for a moment, “'I know',” she said in a deep voice, “or 'shut up' or he'd just suck in his cheeks, I guess,” she smiled to herself.

Juhani observed her as she zoned-out for about a minute and then sighed, “Come on,” he said, throwing the last few items into the box, “Let me help you out.”
“It's alright, Han. You've done enough,” Amanda said, “It's just down the stairs.”
“Oh, please! With your luck, you'll fall down the stairs, break your ankle and display all of the contents of this box for the people at the front desk!”
“So? They're just props. They won't silently judge me.”
“And the ankle?”
Amanda shrugged, “I'll be kept in bed for a few straight weeks, how is that a bad thing?”
Juhani laughed, “I insist,” he said picking up the box, “You won't have to deal with me for long. It's just down the stairs.”
“Oh, yay!” Amanda said.

Their new alliance managed to turn some heads. It was strange seeing such bitter rivalry so quickly resolved. It almost disappointed a few people - as much as it was annoying, the practical jokes had been funny. Juhani dumped the box into a large garbage bin and Amanda watched him close the lid. She sighed - as if relieved that was over. She spotted a wooden bench frosted over with morning dew and patted it down before sitting on it and looking at the Philly skyline. The sun was still rising and the air was wet and chilly. She liked it. It reminded her of home.
“A whole year now, isn't it?” Juhani asked, sitting next to her, propping his elbows on his knees.
Amanda nodded, “A whole year. Though... I only found out in May. Which you already know.”
Juhani paused, “How are you feeling?”
“I don't know. I didn't know him for very long and... well, I guess it's time I got over him, let him go and rest in peace. I guess he's earned it, the kind of life he had.”

Juhani paused and sat up, “Dr Sung... told me. About your confessions on the... adventures you had in the Black Room,” and then added quickly, “she didn't mean to, she just wanted to answer your questions properly and, given your circumstances were very unique, I sort of coaxed her to specify.”
Amanda looked at him, “I know he's gone, Han,” she murmured, “There would have been some sign by now if he wasn't. I'm just... I'm glad I had him around longer than, maybe, I should've.”
“I had a comprehensive answer ready, if you wanted to hear it.”
Amanda scoffed, “You're just going to tell me anyway.”
Juhani smiled in a winning fashion.
“Oh, go on.”
“This occurred one other time, the imprinting of one's consciousness to the Animus,” Juhani explained, “Though, it happened on a completely different Animus server, one being used by Desmond Miles or Subject 17. He met a man dubbed Subject 16 inside his Animus - a man who had committed suicide a year earlier. Subject 16 or Clay Kazcmarek managed to 'come back' with Desmond out of the Black Room - but only in the form of his memories. In short, if Daniel had come with you - you would remember everything he knew, everything he experienced; both of a personal and ancestral nature,” Juhani couldn't tell if Amanda was at all interested in this, “Daniel must have saved his consciousness this day last year, when he had his last stand with Desmond. He was in an Animus Room in Rome after all.”
Amanda tried to take in all the information, “How... how did you learn about all of this? About Desmond and Clay?”
“Through the memos Subject 17 left on his phone, presumably for his father.”
Amanda felt cold and shivered. She shook it off and put her hands in her pockets, “Did... Desmond's father ever receive those memos?”
“I'm sorry?”
“I just... I think he should get a final chance to hear his son's voice. It might mean something to him.”
“That man is dangerous, Amanda.”
“I know. But he's only a man and... he's lost his son. I can't even imagine what that's like.”
“I'm just saying.”
Juhani let it go, “I guess I know that.”

“How's your daughter, by the way?”
“How did you know about that?”
“Hacking. It's a useful skill nowadays.”
Juhani laughed, “Elina is fine, I should think.”
“Do you get to see her often?”
“Often enough.”
“Does she stay with her mother?”
“I'd... rather not talk about it.”
“Right. Sorry,” Amanda said, “I just found all this stuff, you know? About how you quit the Finnish Special Forces - the Utti Jaeger? - to go freelance because you could afford better treatment for Elina, and then you got approached by Abstergo and they gave you this... That's a lot to do for a family man... Do you ever regret it?”
Juhani looked at her, “At times. It should be obvious that this life isn't exactly easy. But... I don't know. I've come to agree with the ideas and beliefs of this Order. Maybe I don't feel good about doing everything I do, but the bigger picture feels right, worth it.”
Amanda looked at the ring on her finger. She still wore Daniel's one and kept the one Laetitia had granted her in her wardrobe. The tarnish silver ring on her thumb just seemed to fit so much better.
“It's all still so new to me,” Amanda said.
“You'll get used to it. You just need some time, Amanda.”

“When are you going back to Montreal?” she asked.
“In a few days,” Juhani said, “You're welcome to join me, if you want.”
“I don't think Dr Sung would agree,” Amanda said, “She's giving me experimental drugs and insists on a counselling, daily. And then there's all the Animus treatments. It feels so empty in there now, in the Black Room.”
“Dr Sung seems to be panicking,” Juhani laughed, “Maybe you should point that out.”
“That small, soft-spoken woman has some bite, Han,” Amanda said, “I'll do it if you do it.”
Juhani laughed, “There isn't a chance I'll be doing that.”
“Well, then.”
“I'd still like you on my team, Amanda. He might not have come with you, but you definitely have some Daniel Cross in you,” Juhani smiled.

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