Full summary: Post Night at the Museum; begins before the second movie. Unluckily assigned to write a research paper on the public's level of interest in Egyptology, Kiya must visit the Museum of Natural History every day for two weeks and stay by Ahkmenrah's coffin. It is a boring task, but when she takes to talking to the still Pharaoh, life begins to get just a little more interesting. And interesting isn't even the half of it.
Hey guys! This is my first movie fanfic. I love the movie of the Night at the Museum (I could never find the book) and its characters (one in particular, haha, but I'm sure you can already tell), enough to try my hand at this. The first chapters will be a bit slow, since I have to build things up, but please don't stop reading, it'll get better! Please R&R, and I hope you enjoy it!
We are all lonely for something we don't know we're lonely for. My mother would always tell me this when I was a child, and as she did I would always catch my father smiling knowingly and wonder what was so amusing. But despite whatever it was he might have been smiling about, it's true. People spend their entire lives looking for that missing piece. Some declare their quest, some are completely unaware that they are actually on a quest, and some just assume that they'll know what it is when it comes to them. But to find something, one must be looking for something, and be it an item, a person, an idea, a soul – it remains a fact that only a few people actually know what it is they're searching for. The story I will tell you now is about a girl lucky enough to have found her missing piece, and how she had to stagger through the most humbling encounters and the darkest of hearts before she could reach her own.
Her name is Kiya. Her father passed away before she could remember him, and her mother was an internationally distinguished archaeologist who was always flying from continent to continent, overseeing excavation sites and giving talks all around the world. Her children came along with her, as well as their tutors, good friends of their mother, who taught them things normal children their age would not yet learn in at least two years. Because of her mother's travels, Kiya did not know anything about normal school, until it was time for her to enter a university and reach the higher level of education her mother had dreamed for her to attain. Kiya's mother wanted her to study in her alma mater, Cambridge University (whose entrance exam she had very well passed), but her father's parents lived in Manhattan, New York at that time, and so she decided to enter New York University, despite her mother's disdainful protests.
The actual story will begin a few years into Kiya's life as a Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS) undergraduate in New York. By this time she had gained three good friends: Horem and Annie, two of her classmates, and one of her professors, Professor Goedet.
"Wow. That took just a bit of forever," said Horem, stretching his arms and legs in his chair as his classmates filed out of the room. The History of Ancient Egypt was his last class on Friday, which he thought fun because thinking about Friday after class kept him alive most of the time, but today he just wished he could die already. The topic was the age of the pyramids, which to him was as animating as watching a sink catch fire. It was all too predictable. "If I didn't love my mother..."
"Quit whining, Horem," Annie replied, picking up her books and kicking his foot in an attempt to make him move. Horem was her knight in shining armor just as well as he was tall, dark, and handsome (which he was, and with such rare blue eyes to contrast his genuinely bronze skin), but he could be such a griper sometimes. "Class is over. Now, come on, didn't you say we were going to watch a movie today?"
"All right!" Horem rose from his seat like a mummy desperate to leave its coffin and slung his backpack over his shoulder. Looking lovingly at his fair lady, he reached over to play with her red curls. "What'll it be today? And where in the world is that Kiya?"
"Don't be nasty. She's with Professor Goedet," said Annie, pointing to the professor's desk. There, a girl their age stood in deep conversation with their Egyptian history professor. She could only see her short, dark brown hair and tanned skin, but with the way the girl wildly waved her hands as she spoke, Annie knew it was her best friend. "Talking about the latest news in archaeological matters, no doubt."
"Yes, well..." Horem's voice trailed off into a mumble, though once he received a questioning look from Annie, his smile returned and his voice was chipper again. "Let's have a closer look at our favorite specimen, shall we?"
Annie was correct. Kiya had approached her professor with the intent of asking about the latest archaeological discoveries, but having nothing of her interest in store, he changed the subject.
"Have you seen the news reports claiming that the American Museum of Natural History's exhibits come to life at night?" laughed Professor Goedet. This man was like a father to Kiya. He had been one of her tutors as a child, and was the only one she truly kept contact with (though her other tutors, his friends, dropped by every now and then). It was only reasonable, she thought, to take his class once she entered the university. "Apparently, dinosaur footprints have appeared on the streets, leading to the museum, and cavemen have been dancing atop its roof."
"I haven't had the chance to watch television in a while..." muttered Kiya, "But I did read about it in the morning paper. Isn't it just ridiculous?"
"Yes, I suppose, but doesn't it make you curious?"
"Professor!" Kiya almost scolded. "It is obviously a publicity stunt by the museum. We all know it is hardly crowded anymore, and class field trips are the only visitors they get."
"Such skepticism from one so young!" Professor Goedet chuckled again, "But it seems this alleged stunt of theirs was effective. I have an assignment for you, Kiya."
"Aww, man, Professor Goedet! We were going to watch a movie today!" complained Horem, who had just approached them with Annie. "Not that...hmm...I should mind. Annie and I haven't gotten any alone time in a while."
"Oh, thank you, Horem," said Kiya, rolling her eyes. "So glad this benefits you in a way."
"Then it's settled!" Professor Goedet grinned. "Since you brought it up, Kiya, I want you to research on the current level of interest in Egyptian history...by the common people, such as children and adults with no intent in pursuing archaeology. I'm assigning you to visit the museum for two weeks, starting today, and when you're done, I want a research paper on it in a week."
"But...professor, that has nothing to do with Ancient Egyptian history or culture, or any of your classes that we take. And professor, I have other subjects I need to study for!"
Professor Goedet shrugged. "It will replace your second research study, and--"
"I'll take it!"
"Professor, if I may ask," Annie started, "won't that be detrimental to her studies? We'll be researching on topics germane to this course while she is...er..."
"Honestly," said Professor Goedet, closing his eyes, "and fortunately for Kiya, these two weeks' worth of lectures we'll be having is nothing she hasn't studied before."
Kiya shuddered visibly. "Was that when we rested in Giza?"
"Hmm, no," the Professor opened his eyes and pushed his glasses against his nose. "We took it up in Pompeii. Do you remember? And Miss Corvin was so upset because I'd told her it was her turn to teach you about..." he almost scoffed, "Dinosaurs!"
"Hey, hey, no fair, professor! That topic of research is way too easy compared to what we're going to have to do. How is that, in any way, just?" asked Horem with intended sentimentality, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Think of it this way, Horem. You can spend these two weeks studying normally and watching movies with Miss Lennon here on the weekends," said Professor Goedet, causing Annie to blush, "while Kiya will spend her following afternoons in the museum counting children and adults and researching on statistics and other things. Isn't normal class much more interesting to you than statistics and children?"
"..." Horem weighed the positives and the negatives and grumbled in annoyance. He just hated it when Professor Goedet was right: he didn't like kids. Childhood trauma, don't ask. "Fine."
"I suppose that's it, then," Kiya mumbled, arranging her messenger bag so it would bump against her left thigh as she walked, just the way she liked it. As she left the classroom, she bid Professor Goedet and her best friends goodbye and sighed. "Today marks the voiding of my library card. Oh, I miss the smell of old, yellowing books already..."
She didn't see Annie shaking her head as she watched Horem snicker behind her when she left. "Finally. Today, it begins...her social life!"
Kiya rubbed her eyes as she entered the Museum of Natural History. Ugh. She'd fallen asleep in the transit. A bad move, but thankfully, an old man woke her when she arrived at her destination, the intersection between Central Park West and 81st Street. Shock greeted her as she saw different groups of people in the lobby: there were children with their parents or friends, adults, even some professors she'd seen around campus, and seniors! The museum had never been so alive. Then again, it had been a while since she visited the museum. Where was the Egyptian display around here?
Approaching the circular front desk at the center of the lobby, Kiya spotted a brunette fixing some papers under the counter.
"Excuse me," she called.
The woman looked up and smiled. "Oh, hello. I'm Rebecca, a docent here. How may I help you?"
"Can you show me where the Egyptian display is, here, please?"
Having grown up in an environment filled with adults doing their jobs, either teaching her mother's children or doing work for her mother, Kiya never saw a need to initiate small talk herself, and was a rather straight to the point sort of person. She was only ever lively before her friends or people she assumed knew her well enough for her to act sociably with, such as her own friends and the adults she had grown up with.
Rebecca, the brunette, led her up the second floor and showed her the Egyptian display. It was a cold and dark rectangular room with a few artifacts displayed immediately after its entrance, such as gold and ivory bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry, chests, and magnificent alabaster vases and busts. But towards the center of the room there stood two tall, daunting jackals with spears in their claws and an archway in between them, leading to a kingly coffin (and by that, I mean it was a great and probably handsome Pharaoh's coffin). Egyptian hieroglyphs were carved into the walls, which Kiya tried to read, but found that they were just random figures thrown together to look Egyptian.
Kiya shook her head in disappointment, but turned to Rebecca. "Thank you."
"Would you like a tour of the display?"
And since no stranger had ever offered their help to her, Kiya knew nothing about accepting kindness like this from them. Nor did she know how to politely reject such a thing. Instinct told her to... "Um," she blinked and looked around the room awkwardly and ended with a nervous laugh. "No, it's all right. But...thank you."
"Sure," Rebecca smiled, turning to walk away. Secretly, she felt pity for the poor girl who, at that age, still seemed nervous about talking to strangers. Before she left, she said kindly, "If you need any help, anyone available at the front desk will be happy to help you."
Kiya nodded and noted in an instant that although the museum was crowded now, the general populace just seemed to pass by the Egyptian display. She was tempted to leave, but no matter how boring the task, it was assigned to her, and she had to stay and find some way to entertain herself. At first she read the descriptions at the bottom of the artifacts on display, hoping that by the time she was finished, it would be time for the museum to close, but she still had an hour to go as she did. She then tried to amuse herself by waving her hands in front of the large jackals guarding the archway leading to the coffin, but realized they would never move or feel annoyance towards her and left them with a 'bah, humbug'. With the first half of the display covered, she passed the archway.
There lay the coffin of the boy King, Pharaoh Ahkmenrah, only semi-covered by a small slab of rock to show the mask of his mummy. Above his coffin there was a golden tablet with nine loose pieces and an inscription at the bottom. She could try to read it, but she was too tired to squint her eyes from behind the stanchion, she missed her books dearly, and she was extremely irate with Horem. Somehow, she just knew he had a hand in this silly project...easy it was, but interesting it was not, she realized. How she allowed the sloth in Horem to take over her in that one moment of weakness, she would never know, but it was definitely his fault.
With nothing to read or watch, Kiya felt her feet soon grow tired and she decided to take a seat. Finding a comfortable position against the wall diagonal to King Ahkmenrah's head, she sighed contentedly for at least half an hour she remembered why she was there in the first place.
"It's completely idiotic," she began, as she was very talkative when she was alone, "sending me over here to check how many people are actually interested in this. I mean, isn't that what actual researchers are for? I don't work well with statistics. I absolutely abhor numbers! ...Well, all right, I don't, but I hate performing tests to see what the percentage of this and that inside what and where is and I certainly wouldn't care to know how many people still visit this place!"
Kiya breathed slowly, then felt something–was that guilt?–come over her.
She glanced up to Ahkmenrah's coffin and muttered, "Oh, all right. I meant no offense or ill will towards you, Ahkmenrah. I know, I know, you were the ruler of a kingdom and you must have had a lot more to worry about than numbers...or did you have people to do that for you? How lucky. I suppose you don't understand what I mean, then. You know, I'm not angry with Professor Goedet, but I have this feeling deep in my gut that says Horem was somehow behind all this...Oh, I miss my books. I miss them so, so much. I'm sure you read books, didn't you, Ahkmenrah?"
Kiya did not look away from the coffin and grinned. "I bet you even wrote books! Or did you have people to do that for you as well? I don't actually care for writing books, but I love reading them. Most people are just too lazy to dig for the right ones, which is exactly why they keep with senseless ones about lions loving lambs or some such nonsense...not that you would know what I'm talking about. Oh, you're so lucky to have lived in such a culture-filled place! And to sit at its head! How did that feel? Standing on one of the many terraces of your magnificent palace and watching the sun shine down on your kingdom, believing it would never fade, that it would last forever...what a grand feeling it must have been.
My days have been exceptionally boring lately. Did you ever find your duties tedious? I suppose not. You were molded to become who you were, weren't you, boy King? Do you prefer to be called Ahkmenrah? Or your highness? Or...bleh. Then again, I think I was brought up to follow my parents, too. They're great archaeologists. Well, my father was... But I'll tell you about that another time. I wonder if you ever found your life boring. That would be rather silly, in my opinion. Really, there is absolutely nothing more interesting than Egyptology. Granted, Greek and Roman civilizations were interesting, too, but I'm sure you'd find those boring. They must have been thought inferior compared to your culture. And..."
Kiya stopped waving her hands around for a moment when the light bounced off her watch and got in her eye. Checking it for the time, she gasped. Five thirty! And she had promised to visit her grandparents for dinner!
Rising as the up-to-no-good Horem did from his own relaxed position in class earlier, she yawned. "Sorry, Ahkmenrah, but I've got to go. I promised to visit them tonight and...did you know they're from Egypt, too? Anyway, it was good to meet you, Pharaoh. I'm going to have to visit you daily for thirteen more days, so don't fret. I shall return!" Kiya declared, and with a humorous curtsy (he was royalty, after all), she left his display and the museum.
It was a quarter of an hour filled with switching transits and moving from station to station until she found her grandparents' place, a penthouse somewhere at the edge of Central Park, which their daughter-in-law bought for them when they had decided to move to New York, of all places, all those years ago. When Kiya's father died, he had left half of his belongings to his wife and his children and the other half to his parents, who wanted to give their share to their grandchildren, but Kiya's mother refused, using their retirement as an excuse not to accept any more money. And, being her husband's and her own sponsors in all their digs, it was only right that they keep half the money he earned from grants for his great findings, for which he was well-known.
Kiya entered the penthouse with the extra key she carried with her and smiled. She absolutely loved visiting her grandparents. Not only were they her only grandparents left, as her mother's parents had died when she was a child, but they loved her dearly (and so did she, them) and they supported whatever it was her father–and now, in this case, she–wanted to do. And if you could only see their penthouse! It was an Egyptian display in itself. Not too pleased with the current affairs in Egypt, her grandparents preferred to keep to the Ancient Egyptian part of their heritage. Vases and busts stood here and there about their great penthouse, their beds were made of linen, their closets were like chests of kings of the great empires of old, and their walls...the hieroglyphs actually had meanings!
Breathing in the air, Kiya smiled. If this place wasn't so far away from campus, she would have taken up her grandparents' offer and stayed with them long ago.
"Kiya!" speaking of which, there was her beloved grandfather now. "How have you been, little one?"
"Hungry and sleepy," Kiya laughed and embraced the tall man, "but it's so good to see you, Baba Zahi!"
He pat her head with a loving smile and led her to their equally glorious dining table. Pulling out her seat, her grandfather ushered her to sit down, saying his wife would come out in a while with dinner. And Kiya would have taken her seat, too, had her grandmother not come out from the kitchen at that exact moment.
"Mama Kiya!" she cried, taking the tray from her hands, setting them down on the dinner table, and embracing her namesake.
Her grandmother, an older Kiya, laughed heartily. "Ah, our little Kiya," she said, "you've finally come home! Now sit down and have dinner. It has been long since you ate a home made meal, I assume?"
The younger Kiya grinned sheepishly and fixed the food on the table. "Yes, well...I don't have the supplies where I live to cook such wonderful meals as yours, Mama Kiya. I usually just eat...er, take-out."
"How unhealthy!" gasped her grandfather, but he ended it with an amused snort, said a little prayer, and dug into the food prepared by his good wife. "Where is your brother, little one?"
Glancing up from her plate, Kiya chewed her food and swallowed before she spoke, hiding the fact that she choked at the mention of her brother. "Busy with...people he likes," she said quietly. "He said he would come by another time."
"Ah, well, you know that boy," said the older Kiya with a hint of sadness in her voice. "He was always the romantic one."
"Haha! The male, the romantic one! What a beautiful and bizarre family I head," Zahi Ganzouri Sr. joked. "And you, little one, we always assumed you would be the one breaking hearts. Has anyone tried to lay a hand on you yet? Anyone your brother has had to ward off?"
"Luckily, no," said Kiya with a scoff. "So there has been no chance to show the world how terrible he actually is at fighting. Haha, oh, Baba, you should have seen him when we were in Antioch. He'd gotten into a tussle with a Turk our age and he was...well, his eye was quite the bump afterwards. If mother hadn't stepped in..." Kiya stopped. Her eyebrows furrowed as she set her utensils down. "Have you heard from my mother? In any way at all?"
The older Kiya and Zahi glanced at each other worriedly. The topic of their daughter-in-law was a sensitive one before their only granddaughter, who had only stopped living with her when she refused to study in Cambridge University and instead stay in the United States with her grandparents. This caused quite a rift between the younger Kiya and her English mother, and ever since then communications were made through them. The two never spoke directly.
Zahi squeezed his granddaughter's hand. "Little one, the last time she called was...before she left for Salamis."
"Salamis... In Cyprus!? But that place...no one is allowed to..." Kiya's temples throbbed as she tried to force tears back. "She didn't even tell me... We're talking about Salamis, for goodness sake! What if she...if they..."
"Don't worry, dear," said her grandmother, squeezing her other hand. "Had anything happened to Daphne, we would have heard of it immediately. The world would have known in an instant."
Kiya sniffed, her eyes misting and her nose beginning to run. She had half a mind to call her brother, but knowing his close relationship with their mother, he probably already knew. A long time ago. And he hadn't told her a word, either!
"I know what is on your mind, little one," said Zahi, handing her his handkerchief, "Do not blame your brother. It was in your best interest that he did not tell you. Daphne did not want you to worry... You know she is as strong as the queens of old. She was your father's Nefertiti. And she is not even of Egyptian blood, as you are, little one! Must I remind you that we are descended from royalty?"
Wiping her eyes and blowing her nose like a child, Kiya felt a smile coming to her face as she heard her grandfather speak. "Baba, you always say that."
"And I will continue to, until you remember never to forget it!" he said dramatically, slamming his fist against the table. "You are nobility, little one! The scion of the great kings of old Egypt, the rulers of the lands of their fathers, who stood proudly in their palaces and watched the sun shine down on their kingdom, who rode to battle and defended their land, our land, your father's land, your land! Your mother married into this family and became one of us, as you, as strong and enduring a woman as our great queens, so worry not, and be proud of your mother's ventures, because she does it for you, my little Egyptian princess."
The older Kiya watched her granddaughter's features change from carrying a saddened expression to bearing a glowing visage and reveled at the way her husband was always able to uplift both their spirits. "Oh, Zahi, how you romanticize things."
"I only speak the truth," said Zahi, nodding sagely, and grinned at his granddaughter. "There. Now, how do you feel, little one?"
Although there were still things to discuss with her brother when they arrived at the topic of their mother, Kiya smiled, feeling guilty about making her grandparents worry. "Like a princess. Thank you, Baba Zahi."
There! I know it was short, I was just so excited to post this. The next chapter will be longer, I promise!
Baba is what she calls her grandfather, and Mama her grandmother, just so it's clear.
If anything needs to be explained, just state it in a review or PM me and I'll gladly answer it.
Review, please, I'd love to hear from you (and I have absolutely no problem with long ones XD)! :)