"Chocolate Violins & Harmonious Eyes"
A/N: For once in my life, I am happy with a chapter.
This is that chapter. I feel like I got my point across
effectively and I really hope Elizabeth agrees. After
all, I'm writing this for her! I'm pleased with how
well I've been inspired lately. I hope this flame doesn't
extinguish anytime soon. I love you, Izzy!
Ryou was unsure of how to respond to Elizabeth's strange and sudden behavior, though she seemed to have snapped to her senses at last. And then all at once, time seemed to stop as a voice spoke inside of him. "You can't possibly tell me you're as much of a fool as to not believe me now."
He replied to Bakura hesitantly. "...What do you mean?"
"You bloody fool!" his other half hissed. "It's Hijra. Right there, standing right in front of you! I don't have a smallest doubt in my mind."
"What am I supposed to do now!" he asked, frantic. "I can't pretend I didn't notice anything strange about what just happened."
"Then tell her to stop acting like an idiot and to come clean instead." Bakura paused. "This is nothing like you, hikari; I thought you valued honesty. Funny, though. If she is indeed Hijra, as its already been proven, you won't have much to worry about anymore."
"What do you mean?" asked Ryou.
"I mean that it will be clear why she has been destined to meet up with you - and in all actuality, its nothing to do with you at all!"
Bakura's laugh made Ryou sick. Could this possibly be true, he wondered. The strange behavior the girl just exhibited, it could explain so much.
"Don't be a fool. You know I'm not her."
He felt dizzy with disappointment and fear. Hijra and Bakura had finally reunited at last. But where would that leave him? He felt terribly selfish as these thoughts made their course through his mind. He knew how long Bakura had searched for that woman, and he had heard countless stories of how destined they were to be together. It would not only improve his yami's angry and abusive nature, but it would make his own life better as well. No more badgering from the angry, bitter soul with a lost love. In fact, he should be rejoicing at this. No more harassing strange women at supermarkets because he could swear it was Hijra. The search had finally come to an end. They were finally together again, and everyone seemed in on it except for Izzy - or was she?
The white-haired boy snapped out of his thoughts, meeting eyes with the brunette. He had been deeper in thought that he'd expected. "What? O-oh! Yes! Are you all right? You seem... well, not yourself."
"Eh! Me? No, I'm perfectly fine!" Izzy felt her face go white-hot with embarrassment. "Oh, do you mean the whole..." she pointed to herself and laughed. "That. Well... you see, as you know, I like to crack eggs, but it seems I like to seduce innocent men also! And well... I'm all out of eggs!" She rubbed the back of her neck nervously at the deliverance of her joke.
Ryou laughed nervously. "Don't worry about it. Things happen," he said. It was almost as if he could feel his nerves in the pit of his stomach. He knew he had to bring up Hijra, but he wasn't sure how. She certainly wasn't going to. The thought that she might not even know what he was talking about loomed above him as well. What if he was merely going to make a fool of himself! It was then that an idea occurred to him. "Would you like to start your violin lessons today?"
Izzy blinked, taken aback at his proposal. She felt a mix of happiness and anxiety. Had he not noticed anything that just happened? Or was he trying to cover it up to hide the awkwardness he felt? She felt terrible and angrier than ever at Hijra. She felt that she needed to explain herself. She didn't want him thinking that she had really just barged in like that and, and- she didn't even want to think about it. Still, the last thing she wanted to do was turn down his offer. "Really? Already? I mean, you really want to?"
Ryou nodded. "Absolutely! I think today is the perfect opportunity." He bit his lip in thought for a moment. He needed this opportunity in order to appease Bakura. His darker half would have it no other way. "Are you available to do it right now? I didn't even ask! I'm so sorry."
She nodded. "Oh, yeah, I am. But only if you're absolutely sure..."
"Wait right here," he said. He went into a room in the back, presumably for storage.
"I hope I'm not imposing," she said, leaning forward and raising her voice a bit.
"Not at all," he replied. He came back with a violin and set it on the table between them. "This will be your violin to practice on."
As Izzy took the violin into her hands, images of Miho came flooding into her mind. Had this been the same violin he had taught her on? Or was that the violin he had given her, the one which used to be his? She felt jealous and sickened at the same time, yet flattered that she was now his pupil, the one who would learn so much about him. Though as it turned out, she was going to learn much more than she had anticipated.
"This," he began, "is a violin." He said this half-jokingly and picked it up along with the bow and gently set it against his left collarbone and set his jaw against the chin rest. He played a small melody with it as an example, and looked to Izzy for her approval. She smiled at him.
"The violin is such a beautiful instrument," she mused. Her feelings of apprehension from earlier were beginning to fade. The mere sound of a violin always succeeded in calming her, ever since she was small.
"Posture is very important," he began. "You must stand straight with your feet a shoulder's width apart."
Izzy mirrored Ryou's instructions. "Like this?"
"There you go! Just make sure to relax your knees a little bit. There you go, like that. Sometimes it may help to put your left foot a bit forward. It's what I do. Now, pick up your violin."
Izzy did as he said, and tried to mimic his positioning.
"You need to place the bottom of the violin against your collarbone. Or the soft area behind your collarbone, whichever you find the most comfortable. And then you make sure your chin rests... right along here." He motioned to the chin rest of the violin and she did as he said. He took her hand and placed it along the neck of the violin. "Now lift the bow and there you are! You look like a professional!"
Izzy laughed. "Hahaha, I guess so! Too bad I have no idea how to play it."
"You will soon enough! Do you know how to read music?"
"I'm pretty fluent, I suppose! I can play the piano!"
"Well, that's a wonderful starting place. We won't get into actual songs right away of course; for today, actually, we'll probably only practice the scale."
"It sounds good enough to me," Izzy said.
Ryou went on to show her the scale, and she mirrored as best she could. She didn't get it right away of course, but after a few attempts, while still sounding a bit off-key, she was able to at least get the general gist of the instrument. He stood behind her and gently took her hand, the one with the bow in it, and slid the bow across the strings gently. Izzy bit her lip. They were close enough that she could smell his Clementine scent and it reminded her of how close she had gotten to him when Hijra was in control of her body. It sent a blush creeping to her cheeks.
"Just be sure to move the bow gently, and not to press too hard," he said. "When I first began playing, I was so nervous and determined to learn that I pressed so hard one of the strings broke!"
Izzy laughed at the image of this in her mind. Ryou seemed to be such a perfectionist! She found it endearing. "This isn't so hard!" she said, amazed at the prospect of herself playing violin. As she tried her best to elegantly drag the bow across the violin strings, she looked around the room, taking in this exotic place that was Ryou's workshop. Her eyes moved from shelf to shelf before settling on a beautiful gold statue that just near illuminated the room. She couldn't take her eyes off of it. "Wow, that figure is beautiful," she said, "where did you get it from?"
Ryou looked up to see what she was looking at. "My father brought that back for me as a souvenir. It's from Egypt. It's actually the statue of Osiris, an Egyptian goddess."
"I think it's gorgeous," she said. "Does he go to Egypt often?"
Ryou nodded. "He's an archaeologist and he specializes in Egyptology. He actually owns a museum."
"That's amazing and exotic! Have you ever been there yourself?"
He shook his head. "Well... I have, but I was too young to ever remember it. I really want to go someday, it's such a beautiful place. He brought me back this, as well," he said, motioning to his necklace.
"Ah! I was wondering about that. I haven't ever seen you without it."
"Yes, I suppose you can say that I'm a bit attached. I love it
"I can imagine. The Egyptian myths have always interested me." She thought about Hijra. She knew that her yami was of Egyptian descent, but she didn't know the details. She regretted not asking Hijra about her past, but something told her that the Egyptian spirit would be reluctant to tell. Still, talking about this with Ryou made her feel strangely closer to Hijra, though she couldn't exactly explain why.
"Now is your opportunity," Bakura said to Ryou. "Now you must get the information from her. Or, allow me to put it this way: get her to tell you now, or I will be forced to make an appearance myself."
Ryou swallowed hard. He wasn't sure what to do or say, but his yami had a point - the mention of ancient Egypt ought to bring about a good conversation starter to get onto the topic of 5,000 year old spirits. But if he was going to do it, he needed to think quickly, before the topic changed and Bakura would end up embarrassing him thoroughly. Then, it finally came to him. He wasn't exactly sure how he would do it, but it was his only shot.
"My father always comes back with interesting stories from back then. Every so often they'll find some ancient scripture, and it'll either get tons of publicity or it'll just sort of fall through the cracks. Sometimes those are the best; they may not hold much value in the eyes of historians, but I always find it interesting."
"Really? That sounds so amazing."
"Would you like to hear one?"
A grin spread across her face. "Absolutely!" she put down the violin, which was already making her arms hurt.
Ryou noticed her stretching out her arms and he smiled. "Don't expect to get used to holding it like that too quickly. It takes a while, but by all means you should rest whenever your arms become tired. Let's take this as a brief intermission."
"A wonderful idea! Now go on, tell a story. I can't wait to hear it!"
"All right, all right," he began, pulling up a chair. "This is one of the less 'popular' ones. But it involves the Pharaoh Atem. Are you familiar with him?"
"Eh, not really, but go on! I know the general duties of a pharaoh and whatnot."
Ryou nodded. "Well, this Atem was a rather kind ruler. He didn't have a big family, nowhere near as large as the other pharaohs in history, but he had a sister that lived with him in the palace. She didn't stay there long, however, because when she entered into her teen years, she fell in love with a very well-known thief."
"His name was Akiefa, and he was very wanted," Ryou began. He had heard this story countless times. He could recite it from the tip of his tongue. It hadn't been only once or twice that his darker half recounted the stories of his youth. If Ryou hadn't learned it in so much detail, he would hardly have believed it himself. "He stole countless things from merchants and royalty alike. He'd really only ever been caught a handful of times, though he escaped just as easily. When the pharaoh's sister fell in love with this man, the pharaoh wasn't happy about it at all. The moment he found out what was going on, he was furious and forbade her to ever see him again. She insisted that she was royalty as well, and therefore would be entitled to the freedom he had - but it was no use. Akiefa was still a thief and she was a part of the royal bloodstream. Atem wouldn't have any of it. She refused to heed his warning, though, and continued sneaking out to meet with Akiefa. They fell in love and she swore that he wasn't the terrible person that everyone knew and feared."
"All right, hurry it up," an angry voice hissed from inside of Ryou. "Stop sugarcoating it and get to the point. All of this is unnecessary!"
Ryou swallowed nervously, but continued. He picked up the pace of his words and tried to shorten the tale. "O-Of course, as you can guess, it wasn't very long before Atem found out... This didn't just happen once or twice, but again and again. One day the woman became pregnant. This was the final straw for Atem, and he decided to banish his own sister from the kingdom. Not only had she blatantly disobeyed him, but she showed disrespect to the entire family through this act."
"I hope you are prepared for a visit from me, mortal..."
The white-haired boy hoped that Izzy wouldn't notice his nervousness; he was doing all he could to hide it from her. He continued the story; he couldn't very well end it there, without a stopping point. "As if the punishment from her brother was not enough, the deities above seemed to want their share of revenge as well, and her pregnancy did not go as planned. A demon named Zorc,"
"...hikari..." growled an angry voice.
"He... he was very evil and he attacked Hijra and her pregnancy was-"
"EH!" exclaimed Izzy.
At once, Ryou stopped his story as Izzy launched into a coughing fit.
"A-are you all right?" asked Ryou in a panic. He rushed over to her, unsure of what to do, unsure of what this meant.
As Izzy recovered from her fit, she looked at the British boy with uncertainty. "Was... was Hijra a common name back then?" she asked in a tiny voice.
He hadn't originally planned on spitting out her name so suddenly. His plan of carefully breaking it to her was ruined. His yami seemed to be content though; it didn't seem to matter to Bakura the trials that Ryou had to face at his expense. Now, he was sure that Izzy was the one, and surely she had no interest in him, but Bakura instead. His throat seemed to produce a lump the size of an apple. "No... no, I don't believe so." The two of them sat in silence for some time. "Why do you ask?" he finally said.
"N...no reason. Continue," she said.
Ryou couldn't bear to look at her after learning this information. He continued this story in a softer voice, finally free of Bakura's nagging. It had been decided. "Hijra's pregnancy was aborted by the attack of this demon. The demon was said to reside in... this." Ryou touched the pendant of his necklace, looking down at it. "However, this was also one of the items that Akiefa had stolen. A part of Akiefa was possessed by this demon, almost making him a slave. When Hijra's unborn baby was killed, it effected Akiefa, but being that he was under the control of Zorc, it didn't occur to him until it was too late. His lover was plagued by a deep sadness at the loss of her lover to this powerful demon, but also at the loss of their child. Not much is known about her fate, but it is assumed that she killed herself after being taken over by the sadness. Akiefa was eventually driven to his demise at the hands of Zorc."
Izzy was speechless. "That's... that's a beautifully tragic story," she said. "I don't even know what to say, how to respond."
Ryou took his pendant in his hands again. "That's the tale of this. My father said the spirit of Akiefa is said to reside inside of it, because it had always been a part of him, even before Zorc. It's an ancient relic stolen by the Thief King Akiefa."
Izzy stared down at her hands for some time, at a loss of what to do. She felt a mix of emotions. Unsure of whether Ryou's Hijra and her own yami were the same person, she almost felt as if she should consult the ageless spirit living inside of her. As she thought of this, another thought came to mind. Hijra had not objected to any of the current conversation. Perhaps she felt guilty about making such a scene, though Izzy knew guilt was not that much of an issue with Hijra when it came to humiliating her hikari. Still, she felt almost as if she would be betraying Hijra, and possibly even herself, if she revealed all to Ryou. Assuming the story was true and Hijra was that woman indeed, there were still a few things to consider. Was the true spirit of the ring controlling the conversation? Perhaps Zorc still wanted to rule. Even so, what could he possibly want from Hijra, if the story went as it was told.
Finally, Izzy made her decision. She had been looking for answers for so long, answers that Hijra had not entrusted to her yet. Now was the time to get them. She felt something for this boy, something that she had never felt about anybody else. It went beyond an emotional level, it was an unexplainable connection. Izzy had always been a strong believer in destiny, and felt that if she felt all of this things, there simply had to be a reason. And so, she acted on her whim.
Izzy looked up, meeting eyes with Ryou once again. "A couple of years ago, I had a boyfriend. It wasn't anything serious and I don't see him anymore, but he gave me a gift." Izzy gently placed her fingertips on the blue-green amulet that hung from a chain around her neck. "He knew that I had Egyptian in my blood... albeit a tiny percentage, probably too little to matter, but he thought an Egyptian necklace would be a nice gift to give to me." She paused to examine Ryou's features. He held a completely straight face and Izzy wished she could see what was going on inside of his head. "If I remember correctly, he said that he bought it from this antique store. Its long closed down, and I had always meant to go back and ask about this. But starting from the beginning of when I got this necklace, strange things were happening to me. I can't even explain some of the things that happened; I started noticing different things, at times I would feel like I just wasn't myself. It's not something I can explain, so I apologize..." at here, she trailed off. She had never told this to anybody before. Ryou's were the first set of ears to hear this. He seemed to sense it in her voice, and stayed completely silent, even during her long pauses of hesitation. "One day, a while after I had broken up with this boy, I was struggling with my health. Both mentally and physically, I was very weak and vulnerable. I don't even know how to explain this without sounding insane, but I'll do my best.
A figure came to me in a vision. I was almost in a dreamlike trance, but it was definitely a person. This person was more clear to me than anything in my life had ever been. It was almost like she was my savior; she certainly hadn't come just to watch."
Izzy's mind drifted to the time she had first met Hijra; it was fresh in her mind. One of the first things Hijra had ever spoken to her lingered in her mind as fresh as if it had been uttered just yesterday.
"I suffered too, once, a long time ago. I knew that you would as well, but I will not let you submit as I did. You will cross the finish line."
The brunette sighed. "She told me that her name... it was Hijra."
Ryou's eyes softened as he watched this girl tell such delicate words. How selfish, he thought, he had been to worry about his own place in all of this. Izzy was no different than he. She, too, struggled with keeping a spirit inside of her mortal body. She knew the troubles of having two minds, a different half. He wondered if she suffered similar hardships from her yami as he did with his. He had so much to ask her, but he was too stunned to speak.
A silence loomed above them; it was not awkward or uncomfortable.
"This is the first time I've ever told this. To anybody," Izzy said. Suddenly, her voice sounded small.
"I'm sorry," is all Ryou could find to say. She looked like she was going to cry and he was unsure of what to do. Suddenly he felt like he'd asked too much. He'd crossed a personal boundary. It was all Bakura's fault.
Instead of crying, Izzy took a few deep breaths and closed her eyes. Ryou now knew it all. He could take that information and do with it as he wished. He could think she is a psychopath and ask her to leave. Maybe his spirit would find Hijra and they would leave both of their bodies, leaving them to be only one person again The worst possibility of all still remained: Ryou was using her, using her to get to Hijra. This one stood out the most.
"You knew... you knew all along, didn't you?" asked Izzy. Her tone wasn't accusatory. It was neutral. She more unsure than ever now.
Ryou was taken aback at this question. He couldn't lie to her, not after all that she had just shared with him. "Th-the suspicions were there, I suppose..."
Izzy's entire face changed. Instead of vulnerable, she looked angry. "Is that what you wanted with me?" she stood from her chair. "Is that why you're offering me these free lessons? Is that why you asked me to a walk with you?"
"No! No! Not at all! You have the wrong idea entirely. It wasn't me. I insisted that it wasn't you. I told Bakura to-"
The mention of his name summoned the spirit, and suddenly Ryou's ring began to glow. A taller, more mature version of Ryou appeared beside him.
"Bring me Hijra," he hissed, glaring at Izzy.
Izzy, unsure of what to do, felt her anger dissolve into fear. "You! You're Akiefa!"
"And you're annoying. Where is Hijra? I demand that you bring her out."
Without warning, Hijra appeared beside Izzy. Izzy hadn't even called upon her; she came at her own will. "Just who do you think you are making that kind of demand, fool?" spat Hijra, obviously angered. Izzy noticed her yami's eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. "More importantly, who do you think you are talking to? I see you have not changed over the years at all."
Bakura clenched his fists at his sides. "I have searched far and wide for you, Hijra," was all he said.
"What makes you think I am interested in seeing you again? All of these years pass and you are still as stubborn as ever, Akiefa. Have you forgotten about the state that you have left me in? Surely you cannot expect me to welcome you in open arms."
Ryou and Izzy watched as their spirits bickered. Both were unsure of what to say and how to respond.
"You say that as if I have purposefully wronged you. There are an endless sea of people that I render useless and that I will treat as I wish. You should know better than to think you are included in that."
"I don't care what you have to say to me, Akiefa," Hijra said, turning away from him. "I cannot be expected to act in a way contrary to my true feelings."
And with that, she was inside of Izzy's amulet again.
Akiefa, left in a blind rage, charged at Izzy. She screamed, taken by surprise and fell back; her fall was broken by a closed violin case. Bakura's fingers dug into her collarbone and Ryou lunged at the two of them, struggling to pull his yami off of Izzy.
"Get... off... of... me!" shouted Izzy, struggling to free herself of Bakura's grasp.
"Stop it, stop it!" Ryou yelled. It was all he could bring himself to say. He couldn't believe what was happening before his eyes.
Bakura shook Izzy by the shoulders before realizing that his attempts were futile. Hijra wasn't coming back out. Upon realizing this, he relinquished grasp of the unfortunate brunette. "I will not allow Hijra to have the last word. I did not spend this many years inhabiting a useless host like yourself for no reason."
He returned to Ryou's millennium ring, leaving Izzy and Ryou to themselves once again.
Ryou rushed over to Izzy and helped her to her feet. "Oh my Ra, are you all right? I'm terribly sorry about - about everything! It's beyond me that this just even happened. Oh dear... this is all my fault. I should have never listened to him. It was Bakura! He pressured me to tell you the story, to find out about Hijra. He's just been searching forever and... and..." Ryou took a moment to compose himself. "I am dangerous. I am sorry." He hung his head low, unwilling to even look her in the face.
Izzy touched her collarbone and shoulders, where Ryou's darker half had gotten hold of her. She could already feel a faint bruise forming; she had an exceptionally fragile body and bruised easily. "It isn't your fault," she said. "When I had barged in here earlier... it wasn't me. It was Hijra. I could no more stop her than you could have stopped him just now." She sighed. "Bakura, was his name? Charming fellow," she remarked sarcastically.
"I apologize so much," he said. "I'm not even sure where to begin. Today has taken such a turn for the worse. It was a mistake for me to ever bring you here; I should have asked you to leave as soon as I learned of the spirit in your necklace and her relation to mine. I put you in danger."
"We didn't ask for this," Izzy said, referring to their other halves. "We didn't choose them; they chose us. Don't have remorse for keeping me here. I enjoy your company, I do. But something brought us together. I think there's a reason for this. I know you may think my life is in danger... and I can't pretend I wasn't just fearing for my life a couple of minutes ago- but I honestly think that maybe this is what is meant to be. Hijra hasn't told me anything of her past. I suppose it's my own fault for not being more interested. Still... I haven't heard anything about Bakura. If I had, maybe I would have been a little more prepared. But these are our lives, this is who we are. We can't turn them away any more than we can turn away the color of our eyes or skin."
"Ah... I suppose you're right. I, too, believe in fate, but I begin to get a bit wary when somebody's life is on the line. I ... I don't want you to get hurt. I can't trust that Bakura won't come after you again. I don't want to subject you to that. I... I hardly know you. Besides your extreme liking for eggs, of course." He smiled.
Izzy returned a small smile. "I have to admit, the idea I had in mind of violin lessons was much different than this!"
"It was certainly an experience. How about this first lesson is on me?" Ryou scratched the back of his neck nervously. "I can't expect you to have endured this and paid for it, too."
"All right," agreed Izzy. "But starting next lesson, it's all me!"
"Yeah! You can't expect me to go on the rest of my life only knowing how to play a simple scale!"
"It's not that," said Ryou, "It's just... I'm surprised you'd even want to come back."
"Like I said, I enjoy your company. And it's destiny for us to at least be around one another. I'm going to try and coax Hijra into meeting in a calm and civil way with Bakura. You can... er... I guess work on his anger complex?"
Ryou laughed, though he didn't quite find it funny, more impossible. "I'm not sure how easy that will be."
"Let's take it one step at a time."
Izzy placed her practice violin back into its case and handed it to Ryou, who carried it into the back room. She thanked him and politely excused herself. Her parents would be expecting her soon.
When she arrived home, she trekked up to her room and fell onto her bed. It had been a long day and it wasn't even suppertime yet. She felt deeply concerned for Hijra after the day's events and tried to drag Hijra out of the amulet but it was no use. Hijra wasn't coming out anytime soon. Izzy concentrated for a while until she finally made a connection with her yami.
"What do you want?" Her voice was exhausted and quiet.
"Do you want to talk?" Izzy asked.
"No. There is nothing to discuss."
"I am worried," she insisted. "Is what Ryou told me true? Is this really your past?"
Hijra remained quiet.
Izzy continued, "It's all right if you don't want to tell me now. But when you're ready, I'll be prepared to hear you out. I'm not taking sides, if that's what you think."
It wasn't long before Izzy drifted into a light sleep. Everything had taken such a toll on her, and a nap was what she really needed.