I really shouldn't be starting a new chaptered fic, but this just wanted to be written for some reason. Hopefully I'll actually finish it, though…
A Duke in Paris
Ryou didn't much enjoy the short flight from England to Paris. He was glad to be leaving the grey, wet moors of his homeland behind, but the silence of the red-eye express gave him too much time to dwell on his reason for leaving. Only a day before, he had been standing before two black caskets as the preacher gave his final words. Ryou had watched as the coffins were lowered into the ground, but did not see them, instead seeing in his mind a slick black road, mangled metal, and his sister's hand hanging lifeless from the wreckage of their car.
Ryou shifted in his seat. The news had gotten out quickly, with headlines nearly shouting from their pages phrases like "Her Grace the Duchess of Sussex (1) Killed in Suspicious Car Wreck!" and "Half-Bred Son of the Duchess to be Duke!" He glanced out the window beside him and saw nothing but black except for the occasional twinkle of a star. A sigh escaped him. Once he reached Paris, his father would meet him at the passenger loading area of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Knowing his father, he would probably say a few words about the death of his wife and daughter, give Ryou enough money for his time in Paris, and then return to whichever dig he was currently working on. This, Ryou didn't mind so much. He had already formulated his own plans for the upcoming days he'd be spending in Paris. All he wanted to was to fade into the Parisian crowd and wander the quiet corners of the city to escape the newspapers and the world.
"So, how was the flight?"
Ryou didn't turn from his gaze out of his father's rental car when he was addressed. This was only his second trip to the City of Lights (the first having been when he was too young to remember). "It was fine, Father."
The older man spared a glance at his son before quickly returning to watch the fast moving mélange that was Parisian traffic. "I know losing your mother and Amane must be hard. When I first heard—"
Ryou finally turned to face his father, regretfully as they circled the Arc de Triomphe. "I'd rather we not talk about it, Father. Please?"
There was something in the tone of Ryou's voice that Ryou's father could not find anything in himself to argue with. He let the subject die.
After a few more minutes of harrowing maneuvers through traffic, they arrived at the hotel where Ryou would be staying. Clearing his throat, Ryou's father pulled out his wallet, handed him a large wad of Euros and a plastic card. "I'll be in Egypt and don't know how long it will be until you can reach me, so I set up this credit card for you. Don't worry about the bill or anything. I'll take care of it," he said, as he caught Ryou looking up at the entry-way of Paris' premiere hotel: Hotel George V.
Blinking, Ryou turned his gaze to the card in his hand. A thought suddenly came to his mind. "What… What will happen to the Manor?" Technically, under English law, his mother's title would pass to him, since his father was not a native of England. His Japanese decent had sometimes caused his mother ridicule for choosing him as a husband, but she had been strong as stone in Ryou's eyes. (2)
"Well," Ryou's father replied, interrupting his thoughts. "As you know, it's willed to you, since, well, you know. I've arranged for the staff to continue taking care of it until you wish to return, Mr. Duke."
The address was meant as a joke, but only made Ryou frown. "I don't want to go back there. At least not yet." This he said in Japanese, to emphasize the point to his father.
Eyes wide at his son's sudden change in language—not because Ryou knew Japanese; he and his sister had been learning it along with English since they could speak—Ryou's father nodded. "I understand," he replied, likewise in Japanese.
With that, Ryou opened the door. His father let down his window and signaled for a porter before releasing the lever for the trunk to open. As if out of nowhere, a young man dressed in uniform appeared, and quickly began to heave Ryou's luggage out of the back of the car.
"Ou se trouve votre chambre, monsieur?"(3) the porter asked politely.
Turning back to get help from his father, Ryou found that the older man had already left.
"Pardon," Ryou replied, trying to recall his French lessons. "Je ne sais pas. J'ai besoin de parler avec le concierge, s'il vous plait." (4)
The porter nodded, smiling as if understanding. After placing Ryou's luggage on a cart, he led Ryou inside to the front desk.
It took some time acquiring his room key (which apparently also required him to repeat his name several times; the news hadn't crossed the Channel that fast, had it?), but once he did, he was led to his suite by the kind porter. The young man brought in his luggage, and after all his help Ryou felt he deserved something extra. The porter's face lit up when Ryou passed a twenty Euro note into his hand, and babbled something along the lines of his sister and a doctor before hurrying out the door. Ryou was pleased with the effect, though he could barely understand what the young man had said, and with the pleasure swelling inside him, he set to unpacking.
Morning came with sunshine streaming airily through the open windows of Ryou's hotel bedroom. His entire hotel room was a suite consisting of a very large adjacent bathroom (with Jacuzzi tub), a sitting room, an entertainment room (complete with a large screen TV), and the spacious bedroom. After being given the tour yesterday, Ryou had sighed in annoyance at his father's choice of living arrangements. Why Hotel George V? Why not something a little more discreet? Otherwise, why not stand atop La Tour Eiffel and scream that The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince His Grace, Ryou, the Half-Bred Duke of Sussex (5) is currently in Paris?
Stretching, while heaving another sigh, Ryou noticed a covered plate set near his bed. A note sat nearby. Picking it up, he read the contents which essentially told him that the concierge was pleased he had chosen Hotel GV and that if he would not mind, please enjoy the complimentary breakfast.
With a yawn, Ryou glanced at the covered plate, which he now noticed was accompanied by two pitchers and a small empty bowl. Leaning over, he picked up the tray and settled it one his lap. Peering into the pitchers, he saw what looked like coffee. Primarily, Ryou was accustomed to tea, be it English or Oriental, so he skipped the coffee. The second pitcher, however, held milk, and this he did not mind.
Then, Ryou removed the lid of his petit déjeuner (6). There, on a warm plate, he found a soft croissant, an omelette, and a type of cheese he could not place. Finding he was hungry, he ate it all, leaving the croissant for last. Once finished, he crawled out of the large bed and walked slowly to his dresser, from which he chose a simple pair of black slacks and a wool sweater. Paris in spring could be deceiving. While the sun might shine with much brightness, it could still be as chilly as a midwinter's day. Completing the ensemble with a simple scarf, Ryou glanced at himself in a nearby mirror.
It had been a few days since he allowed himself a glance in a mirror. Grief had morphed his likeness into either that of his mother's or his sister's. Both, like him, had long hair so blonde, it nearly passed for white. But unlike them, with eyes the color of bright jade, Ryou had his father's eyes. They slanted upwards, hinting at his father's heritage, and were a hue of dark chocolate.
Today, fortunately, the mirror reflected only his own image. Ryou turned from it, satisfied with his reflection, and picked up the croissant from his practically empty breakfast plate. Through the large French windows, there was a fairly large balcony. Ryou, with croissant in hand wandered out onto the iron balcony to watch the travelers and traffic below on the Champs D'Elysée. The Parisian wind kissed his cheeks and he reveled in the sunlight. A quick glance at his watch told him it was only seven that morning, but already cars were honking at each other, small motorbikes and bicycles slipped in-between the gaps of taxis and trucks.
Breathing deep the fresh, cool air, Ryou nodded to himself. Today, he decided, he would slip down to Le Quartier Latin, and peruse the small, out of the way bookshops, and maybe find a petit café where he could hide himself from the world. Turning from the balcony, he picked up his wallet, passport, and hotel key. He slipped them in a small pocket hidden within the inside of his sweater, where pick-pocketers were unlikely to find them. Then, he slipped on his shoes, and headed out of his hotel room and down to the lobby.
Persuading the concierge that he did not need a limousine and no, he would not like a ride of any form took a bit of effort on Ryou's part, but he finally managed to walk out the front doors on his own. He made the decision then, that if anyone were to ask who he was, he would give his father's name, rather than his mother's. Bakura, his father's name, while famous enough in some circles, would not draw enough attention, unlike his mother's maiden name, which was expected of Ryou to take once he settled in his position in England. The idea made him frown, but he shook the thoughts away, as he headed towards the nearest Metro station.
Some say that you can distinguish certain parts of Paris simply by the smells. In Le Place Vendome, you can tell you're in the city's high fashion district due to the wafting of expensive perfumes on the Parisian air. Montmartre and its smells of incense and something almost but not quite like sex suggests that more than Bohemian art is sold behind the towering heights of Le Sacre Coeur. And Le Quartier Latin is distinguished by its old, dusty smell of books and rustling paper, stacked up in corners of old shops, gathering more dust as they wait for just the right buyer. Of course, Ryou knew none of this as he stepped out of the Metro and made his way up the stairs to the District above. So when he took his first few steps into the maze of shops, cafes, and small stores, he was assaulted by a scent that reminded him of his father's study, or even of the small back room of the Cairo Museum he had visited once with his father.
He was so caught up in the moment that it took someone jostling into him to bring him back to where he was.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, still trying to place where he was.
The reply he received was a broken slew of French cursing. Ryou realized that whoever had run into him had dropped their belongings. As Ryou bent down to aid the other person, his hand was slapped away. This time, a slew of Arabic curses rained down on Ryou.
Blinking once more, Ryou frowned, but this time he apologized in kind, using Arabic almost as fluently as the other. The figure froze, and this gave Ryou some time to look the other over. He was a young man, seemingly about Ryou's age, with short cropped hair. It appeared to be a similar color of blond as Ryou's, but unlike Ryou, with his pale features, this man was darker skinned and had a scar running down his right cheek. The younger man was also stronger in appearance, having a bit more bulk under his dark coat than Ryou did under his sweater.
"Are you alright?" Ryou tried again, this time in English. "I'm sorry if I startled you."
The dark eyes of the other man narrowed. "What the hell were you doing, just standing in the middle of the way like that?"
"So you do speak English!" Ryou asked, with a bit of a smile. "And Arabic too. How many languages do you speak?"
"Âne! Occupez-vous de vos affaires!" (7) The man scoffed, but did not turn away. Instead, he looked Ryou over. "What is it that you want?" he continued. "A tour guide? Because I am not going to lead some petit chien (8) around Paris all day."
Ryou shook his head, frowning again. "No, thank you. I'm sorry to have bothered you. I was simply curious, is all. I had not known of many people who could speak as many languages as, well… I do. This is the first time I've been to Paris, that I can remember, and for all that I've learned, it seems I'm rather sheltered. Pardon my ignorance."
The scarred man hefted his books under his arm, and gave Ryou a calculated stare. "Hmm," He replied after a moment. "Well, if you buy me un café au lait (9), I can share many things with you about Paris and cure votre ignorance." With white hair glinting in the sunlight as he jerked his head, the young man began to lead the way to what Ryou presumed to be a café somewhere within the district. "By the way, qui êtes vous?" (10)
"Ah, um, je suis Ryou. Ryou Bakura," (11) Ryou nearly had to call out in response as he followed after the other man.
"Quelle chance! Moi, je m'appelle Bakura." (12) The man suddenly turned in his steps, and Ryou nearly ran into him. Bakura's dark (almost black, Ryou thought, if the sun did not give them a glint of crimson) eyes watched Ryou with another calculated stare. "What chance it is that we should meet, n'est pas? I wonder what fates are at work at this moment. Do you believe in destiny, Monsieur Bakura?"
Firstly, when it comes to this story, I want to make a note of how realistic and accurate I will attempt at making it. You'll notice that there are quite a few bracketed numbers within the story, and these will be for footnotes that will conclude each chapter. For example, as a six year student of French, I will be using French as often as I can, and as accurately as I can, while providing translations for non-French speakers. The descriptions of Paris are as I remember them when I visited in 2004, though I'm welcome to any updates. Finally, I would like to give a nod to the author of Morning is a Long Time Coming, who gave me the inspiration for this fiction. It was due to reading that novel that I was compelled to write about Ryou visiting Paris, France.
(1) Currently, the Dukedom of Sussex is vacant due to the original holders being supporters of the Germans in WWI (see wikipedia-dot-org). I chose this particular title for Ryou's family because of both its geological position and its historical background.
(2) This particular bit of information was inferred and somewhat twisted from the information available on the article about Dukes on wikipedia-dot-org
(3) Where is your room, mister?
(4) I do not know. I need to speak with the concierge, please.
(5) Not including the "Half-Bred" bit, this would be Ryou's full, polite title.
(7) Ass! Mind your own business!
(9) a coffee with milk
(10) Who are you?
(11) I am Ryou Bakura
(12) What chance! Me, my name is Bakura!
Comments, please? Chapter 2 will be up as soon as I get my lazy bum to type it up...