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.
Disclaimer: All the characters in the movie and its universe belong to...well, the people who made the movie! The only characters I own are Kiya, her friends, and her family. Well, most of them. Shaila O'Connor and Naveen Sitaram belong to bean15, while Kesi and Sadiki belong to Elven Heart993. Please don't use them without permission.
So at this point I'm wondering if I still have any readers, and I totally understand if you've gone. :( I've been away for so long with no excuses except that I've been getting into a lot of different fandoms and sometimes I just don't have the inspiration to write. Which makes me a bad writer, because good writers are supposed to keep on even without inspiration. So yeah. But here's the next chapter!
Unfortunately, no living Ahkmenrah in this one, but I assure you that in the next chapter he will be there. In a good way. (How can him being there ever be bad though, right?) And so will Larry, Nick, and Rebecca! I really miss having the real movie characters around, it's just I have to move the story along. I hope you like the OCs though! Please tell me what you think about them.
PLEASE READ. It's to understand the story, especially starting from here. For this NatM universe, please erase the names of all the Pharaohs you currently know. The general back story I got for Ahkmenrah is mostly based on theories about Tutankhamun, as well as for others who may share the same name as other Egyptian royalty. But in this universe, there is no Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, etc. Ahkmenrah is the boy King, but he died, say, a few years before he turned thirty. Say boy because the others still got to rule till they were old. You will be seeing names that parallel those of real Egyptian royalty, but they have nothing to do with them and what you currently know about them. If you're confused about that just PM me because...I know that explanation was confusing :))
Kiya woke and finished her Sunday duties early the next morning. Just as quickly, she returned to her residence hall, still feeling awkward as she greeted the same guard who had seen her with Shaila the night before, and rushed to her room to avoid any more witnesses to her spectacle two nights previous.
Unfortunately, last night's events had prevented her from finishing the assignments still waiting on her plate, the same papers she'd assured Annie she could finish before that same Sunday. It was a task to convince one's growling stomach that lunch was overrated, but Kiya managed it and worked without more than a five-minute respite. Typing, editing, and stuffing herself with water, cookies Mama Kiya had sent her home with the other night, and grapes (even though they were sent by Horem when he discovered that her fridge was empty), she finished at around five in the afternoon.
Kiya debated whether she should drop by the museum or not, but decided it was too late. She could just ask Rebecca to access the list of tours taken when she returned. It would shake the data a little, since tours didn't include families who chose to roam the museum by themselves, but Professor Goedet would never discover it...and she preferred going to the museum when she had friends to talk with. In any case, the average number of people remained much the same.
When her papers were neatly stacked and divided among their respective subjects, Kiya took upon herself a new quest–dinner. Ha! The word quest was such a fanciful word; telling Ahkmenrah about Indiana Jones had allowed her to walk down the proverbial lane of her own memories, bringing her into such an adventurous state of mind, though explaining the movies in detail were somewhat difficult.
There were several concepts the Pharaoh could understand only after going into much detail of the world's cultural history, fictional or not, and it ended with Ahkmenrah requesting for a DVD, a word he'd learned from Nick. Having passed them in his rounds during the discussion, Larry said he might procure one.
'Anyway,' he'd added, 'it's about time we had a Movie Night around here.'
Just as Kiya closed the door behind her on her way out, the constant, almost perfunctory heavy plodding of boots on the hallway carpet ceased. When she turned her head for a glance, it came to her that she should put her lips together for a smile.
"Oh, it's you," said the owner of the boots and the oily scent of Chinese take-away. It was her! The kind upperclassman who'd lent her the dress for dinner with Keith. It shamed Kiya to realize that she didn't even know her name.
"Hello," said Kiya, smiling with obvious embarrassment. "I've...had your dress washed. I should be able to return it within the week."
"It's no problem," said the older girl, returning her grin. Kiya smiled a little wider, but it became uncomfortable fairly quickly. Suddenly, Kiya feared for the girl. Was social ineptitude contagious?
"I'm very sorry," Kiya muttered, then cleared her throat and made her voice louder. She had always found upperclassmen rather intimidating; she'd just hidden it with an indifferent gaze and a straight face. Being confronted with kindness was much more difficult than being stared down, however. "But I'd rudely forgotten to ask your name all those days ago."
"Shaila," she grinned, as though she'd been waiting for Kiya to ask. Friendly people had a way of making her feel foolish. "Shaila O'Connor."
Kiya repeated the name under her breath. Why did it sound so familiar...?
"Shaila O'Connor!" Kiya exclaimed. "You helped me two nights ago. The guard told me..." Could it even be called a coincidence, that she'd helped her twice in a week? "Thank you. I'm sorry I inconvenienced you."
"Hey, stop groveling," Shaila quipped. "It's all good, all right? I have a lot of experience with drunk friends. And now friends with food poisoning, but that's another thing."
"Friends," Kiya dwelled on the word between them before shaking her head. "Oh, I wasn't drunk," and repeated it when Shaila put on a doubtful expression, but gave up the third time. "Just...thank you. And your lover, too."
"My...lover," Shaila said, as if trying to remember what that meant. "Oh, Naveen," she laughed.
"Yes," said Kiya, and subconsciously eyed the steamy plastic bags in Shaila's right hand. Kiya didn't know why, but Shaila had a way of making her let her guard down completely. Only around Ahkmenrah did she ever feel that way. Without thinking, she asked, "What's that you're carrying?"
Shaila knew that tone. "Chinese." Lifting the boxes to her nose, she pretended to take a good whiff before grinning. "Want some? And I've always got chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Just in case."
"Yes. Yes. I mean, no, thank you," Kiya swatted the air around her as though a mosquito had taken her manners away. While she was extremely hungry, she already owed Shaila enough, didn't she? "I'd prefer not to live on your charity."
Shaila put on a thoughtful expression. "My boyfriend did say I should start signing up for missions soon. But I could work on you instead," she laughed, motioning for Kiya to take her keys from her left-side pocket. Shaila wasn't sure why, but the awkward, bronze-skinned girl was so easy to get along with. "Come on in."
Shaila's room was neatly arranged, not a sock out of place in her drawer. Colored post-its sat color-coordinated on her desk while various pieces of needlework and cross stitch decorated her walls. Kiya hadn't the time to look around before, but she liked it.
It was astounding how one dinner could change the dynamics between two people. Over the course of the two hours which included Chinese take-away and that chocolate ice cream she'd been promised, Kiya discovered that the reason Shaila O'Connor found it so easy to deal with her was because she was a stage manager in the university theatre. Her upperclassman had worked with all sorts of actors, directors, production crews, and while she insisted that her amiability came from experience, Kiya had a feeling that she was simply born with that easygoing personality.
Sometimes she wished she could be as spontaneous as Shaila, whose jokes were never out of place. She possessed an uncanny dislike of nuts and tomatoes yet loved peanut butter and spaghetti sauce, but was otherwise agreeable, and was clearly in love with her partner, Naveen, though she showed it differently than Annie and Horem, whose displays of affection only ever made her feel nauseous, but Kiya presumed it had something to do with having shared a womb with Horem.
Hearing how Shaila spoke of Naveen made her actually wonder what it might be like to share a special relationship with someone. It was said that love swept people off their feet, came at the most unexpected moments, but Kiya liked to think she was more aware of her parallel-existing trains of thought than that.
And in any case, it couldn't just be anybody. She had sat through enough romantic movies with Annie to know that it was foolish to jump into a relationship simply for the sake of being in one. And it wasn't as if she possessed a whole shipload of choices the way Annie did...
While Shaila welcomed her to stay after dinner, the stacks of paper on her desk made it clear that she had much work to do. Running the risk of seeming like she'd only stayed for the food, Kiya genuinely enjoyed her company, and thanked her for it and her generosity before returning to her room.
As soon as she was curled up in her favorite position on her swivel chair before her desk, Kiya switched on her laptop and checked her mail. To her pleasant surprise, Ramy had replied.
More and more each day, I wish I could share details of the dig with you. Our head archaeologist has forbidden it, however, for obvious reasons, until we finish up and officially release the findings. She is strict, but a brilliant woman – I'm sure you'd agree if you were here with me.
From what I've experienced here, I can already tell you'll love it. Tedious, yes, and it will never even be a quarter as exciting as five minutes of an Indiana Jones movie, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
Kiya couldn't help but laugh. She and Ramy had discovered their guilty pleasure of the movie series long ago.
Still, though each day provides a new lesson, I wish i could visit New York and try that frrrozen hot chocolate with you.
About Professor Goedet: in his short stint at Cambridge, he was known for his odd assignments. But we both know that the man is wise beyond his years, don't we? Haha. I'm touched you think of me as a role model, but I'm only a poor student trying to survive!
I'm glad you're doing well in school; that's always important. We're leaving the site in a few days, and then I'll finally be able to respond more frequently. But enough about me; I'm certain your assignment has progressed well. I see you as the type to perform excellently in school.
Time for the last few checks on the site, have to go. You know I look forward to hearing from you again.
Ramy really was one of the most thoughtful people she knew. It was too bad she lacked the funds to visit Kiya – Ramy hadn't the rich grandparents she did and couldn't go places on a whim. Wishful thinking was hardly harmful, though…
If only Ramy really could afford to visit her in New York, then she wouldn't have to keep intruding in Horem and Annie's relationship. She understood that Horem wanted some 'alone time' with his girlfriend; it just hurt to hear him say it. Perhaps it was a good thing that she'd met Shaila, and Ramy, and those at the museum.
I really do understand why you can't tell me about the dig. Don't worry about it. If you say the head of your dig is brilliant, then I hope to meet her one day, just as I hope to meet you. And while Indiana Jones is quite enviable, I don't think I could live with looking over my shoulder for danger so often. How you describe archaeology now seems ideal to me. In any case, nobody believes there are any more 'magical' artifacts to be found in this new age.
Kiya sighed, tapping her fingers on the keyboard a bit. she didn't even need to leave New York city to find the magic she'd sought as a child, and regretted being unable to tell Ramy about Ahkmenrah and all the wonders his artifact had brought the natural history museum.
And you're right, of course – Professor Goedet is a great man. But you should know that part of the reason why you're exemplary yourself is because while you are struggling, you're also succeeding! I hope to be able to apply for and join digs as you have.
It isn't of much note, but I went on the first date I've ever agreed to without the coercion or influence of my brother. Incidentally, my friend took me to Serendipity III and I was able to taste the frrrozen hot chocolate. It wasn't quite as frozen as I thought it might be, but it was delightfully sweet.
Someday, when you're able to come to Manhattan, I'll share it with you. I know it'll be different with you because I don't think I get along with anyone quite as well as I do with you, Ramy.
I still have schoolwork, so I'm signing off now. But I await your reply, as always!
Pressing the Send button, Kiya sat back. She considered writing another email – she'd forgotten to tell Ramy about her dreams of the Amunet girl! whose name she remembered because she'd taken it down on her notebook. But Ramy was busy, she was certain, so it was probably best to bother her with only one thing at a time. It was the concept of 'dates' today; she supposed the dreams could wait.
"What is she doing out here?"
"Oh yeah, there was that whole drama about the sleeping, remember?"
A laugh. "Right, that must've been so embarrassing. I can understand why she doesn't wanna go in."
"Tell me about it! Total mistake enlisting for this class. Shoulda woken up earlier to get into..."
Kiya didn't mean to eavesdrop. The rest of her classes for the morning she'd participated in well enough, she having been motivated by Ramy's email and the resolve to be an Egyptologist burning brightly in her again, though Ahkmenrah might have had some influence over that, too. She just didn't understand why he'd be interested in the boring present when the past was where the treasures of history and culture lay.
She was pacing outside Professor Karim's classroom, going over, admittedly, her plans for what she was certain would be a humiliating next few hours.
"Yeah, I guess being the kid of famous people doesn't really make you archaeologist material."
"If you can't even stay awake in class, how do you keep up in digs, y'know?"
Kiya stared at the ones odd enough to speak of the last meeting as they passed her, but they didn't seem to notice or care and she still couldn't bring herself to step inside. Ten minutes to class–what would she say? Horem and Annie must already be inside; they were always early for Karim's Monday lectures, because Annie was a worrywart that way and Kiya and Horem gave into her whims like she usually did for them.
How to make a proper apology...? She'd never liked those things. But Horem did deserve one. Kiya just wished Annie didn't have to be there for it–the redhead had always been the kind of person she wanted to protect, and she didn't want to be seen in a moment of weakness.
All right, she was ready. Just one foot after the other–
"Miss Ganzouri, if you're deciding to cut class today, I am certain your more experienced classmates would agree that this is not the best place to do it."
"On that note," said her professor, "Did you get the proper amount of sleep last night?"
Contempt filled Kiya face from the downward shift of her eyebrows to the stiff corners of her lips, but Professor Karim only smirked. Recalling Professor Goedet's unfair but sound advice, Kiya smoothed her countenance into a collected one Horem might have been proud of. She wanted to say something, to retort, but those Latin Honours...
"Forgive me for falling asleep the other day, Professor," she said instead, and added, after digging her dignity a graveyard and mourning it profusely, "please. I won't do it again."
Karim stared at her for she didn't know how long. She resented his scrutiny. "See that you don't," he replied. "I can tell you've never done this before, so I'm willing to give you some advice–all you need for an apology is to mean it. Whoever you're fretting about will have no choice but to forgive you; otherwise they will look the fool."
Kiya blinked. Was Professor Karim actually trying to help her in some way instead of scorning her? Before she could process it, he flicked his wrist to check his watch and clicked his tongue. "Class is about to start. Shall we?"
He left her at the doorway. Something horrible must have happened, because he never looked upon her kindly. When the half-hour bell shook her from her reverie and prodded her into class, it was his quick lesson about apologies that rang in her mind, but the object of her worries was nowhere to be seen. Even Annie wasn't in – and they had a perfect record.
Disheartened at their disappearance when she'd felt so ready to give her 'sorry' speech, Kiya slumped into her seat. Oh, well, at least she could rehearse in her head a little longer. Pulling her notebook from her bag, she didn't even realize that she possessed the same optimism she envied in Ahkmenrah.
Horem and Annie were absent for the entire duration of Professor Karim's class, which gave her pause. Either something had happened or Horem and Annie hated her so much that they didn't even want to attend a class with her in it.
What a terrible thought. She really did like Annie, and Horem when he wasn't being so obnoxious. She was being silly. Of course she wasn't the reason they were gone.
All the worrying had made her thirsty. She was often thirsty for reciting in class, so Kiya knew all the water fountain hotspots in the building. Straight first and then past two hallway intersections, she ignored the odd looks from those passing as she looked at each and every one of them, searching for a familiar face that might know of her brother and his girlfriend's whereabouts.
After her drink, she decided that maybe they had been so hungry that they went to early lunch together. As far as she knew, there were no new stalls near their building, but she was so desperate by the time she reached the food stalls that when she saw the first familiar face, she approached him immediately, no matter their history.
Gavin had just peacefully purchased hot dogs when he heard her voice. He'd liked Kiya back then, despite her quirks and extreme love of Ancient Egypt, but he was glad she showed her nutso before he started getting serious. "Hey," he said, giving a short wave of a hot dog. "It's been a while. What's up?"
"I can't find Horem and Annie," Kiya admitted. She found she didn't despise him as much as she'd thought. While she resented his words before, a part of her had liked his other qualities. And Ahkmenrah wouldn't have judged him for simply saying that; he'd have persuaded him to change his views. "Have you seen them?"
Gavin's expression was that of disbelief. "Where have you been?"
Gavin sighed almost irritably. Not necessarily at her, maybe a bit at her because why did she have to embarrass him in front of the entire restaurant like that, but he was over that and it was mostly because he didn't want to be reminded of what had happened two days before. Only he and Sitaram were spared from their floor – total disaster.
"You didn't hear? Some idiot brought expired food to my party. Annie and a lot of the guests got bad stomachaches, but Horem got real sick, so she's taking care of him, obviously. Man," he laughed wryly. "I knew you were detached; just didn't know how much.'
Kiya shot him a look that startled even him, who'd been on the receiving end of one of her fiercest glares once before in a flashbulb memory he'd never forget.
"Why didn't she tell me?" Kiya wondered out loud when she drew her eyes away from him, because now wasn't the time to get worked up about other people's opinions. She reached into her schoolbag for her cellphone, but it was neither in its usual place in the inner zipper at the back nor was it in the bag's other 'secret' pockets.
Seeing any of the Ganzouri twins flustered happened about once in a blue moon, so Gavin relished the moment until he remembered that he'd already seen Kiya this way, long ago when they'd gone on their first few dates, before she spread her Crazy wings. Sighing, he took his phone out of his pocket and held it out for her almost reluctantly. "...Here. Use it to call Annie."
Kiya stared at it and then accepted with a soft 'thank you' he hadn't expected. The silence between them as she waited for somebody to pick up was so thick that when Gavin heard a high-pitched voice answer on the other end, he gave an audible phew.
"Annie," Kiya gasped.
"Kiya!" Annie replied with similar relief. "Where have you been?"
Kiya had never cut classes in all her years as a university student, but she decided that Horem was a good enough reason to start. Apparently, his situation had gotten to the point where Annie wanted to take him to the hospital, but he'd insisted on going to their grandparents' instead. Annie was in the penthouse, too, fretting as she was wont to.
"It's lovely to see you again, dear," said Mama Kiya when her granddaughter arrived, embracing the girl. "If only it were under better circumstances."
Kiya dropped her bag at the foot of the kitchen counter. "How is he?"
"His fever just broke," said Annie, slowly emerging from the room Horem and Kiya shared whenever they slept over, which was rare nowadays. Her usually pink apple cheeks were wan and darker shades of flesh marred the supple skin under her eyes. She looked calm at first, gazing upon her friend, and then her lips trembled as she faltered towards Kiya.
She didn't know much about social cues when it came to others, but Annie had always been somewhat easy to read. Her friend needed a comforting embrace, and Kiya gave it with a tight squeeze. "I'm sorry you haven't been able to reach me," she said. "I can't seem to find my cellphone."
"It's fine," Annie said, smiling toothily as they pulled away, and suddenly it felt as though all their arguments the past few days had been erased, the seemingly impassable stretch between them almost nothing. It was neither Horem nor Annie's fault that they'd become this way; it was hers, for choosing to keep herself distant. She did find good company in the museum – Teddy, Rebecca, Larry, and Ahkmenrah – but Annie was, too, and a friend, tried and true. "I missed you."
"I've missed you too," said Kiya, smiling slightly. "Both of you."
Annie stayed for another half hour to update Kiya on exactly what had happened during the party, but with Horem out of commission, the couple's presentation for another class Kiya had already taken was still only half done. Kiya offered her help, but Annie needed to be away from Horem to finish it. Otherwise, Mama Kiya agreed, she would only keep returning to the room to care for him.
"So I should go," said Annie, and hugged Kiya another time. "Thank you for having me over, Mama Kiya. And Kiya," she said, having always been amused at knowing two Kiyas and allowing it to pull her tired face into a smile, "take care of Horem, all right? And you, too."
Kiya nodded. "Finish your presentation, Annie. Horem is a fighter," she reassured, unaware that she was correct on more accounts than she knew.
After Annie left with a hopeful smile, Kiya ventured into their room. The lights were dim and the air was rank with the stench of new vomit. Dark half-moons under his blue eyes, his skin ashen, a sickly golden brown, his mouth poised over a bucket, Horem regurgitated lunch right as she closed the door behind her.
Kiya cringed. The last time she saw him like this was when they'd just hit puberty and he caught dengue fever on the way home to England. Their mother rushed him to the hospital as soon as they landed, and she vividly remembered when Horem's gums started to bleed due to his lack of iron, because it was the first time she'd ever seen Daphne Ganzouri cry.
Horem leaned over the side over his bed, still letting out the last of his stomach's contents. He'd kicked the blankets off, his only attire a white shirt and striped boxers. His hair, drenched in sweat, stood out in all directions.
"I hope," said Kiya, coming closer with a clean rag their grandmother had prepared her with, "that wasn't a reaction to my arrival."
Horem glanced up from his position so that his face appeared to be glaring, but as he rose and righted himself against the headrest, it softened into a hardened expression. "So. The prodigal sister returns."
Always the dramatics, but Kiya still frowned at her feet. She disliked being scolded, but she let him have this. He'd given her many arguments before, mostly out of pity, which she resented, but she couldn't blame him as she watched his stomach tighten in an attempt not to lurch.
Horem nodded his head at the rag she used to wipe his mouth. And he said nothing when she removed his shirt, wiped his sweat, and replaced it with another from his closet. "Where've you been?" he asked like a father, even as she brushed the sticky strands of wet hair from his forehead the way their mother did long ago. "You don't answer your cellphone or your apartment line. We thought someone finally did away with you.'
Kiya rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry to disappoint. My cellphone is missing...and you know I still have Professor Goedet's assignment to take care of."
Horem only sighed, dismising her excuses with an irritated flutter of his eyelids. "What did I miss in Karim's class?"
The only class they had together was Karim's and Goedet's, something the heads of the MEIS department had made certain. Professor Goedet shared that the classes the Ganzouri twins were permitted to take each year were shuffled so that they could 'grow' separately – and not work as a team. But when had she and Horem ever really worked as a team?
"N...othing much,' Kiya answered. "I have notes you may borrow. It's too bad you missed it."
"You would have witnessed a badly constructed apology," Kiya said after a long pause.
Horem quirked an eyebrow at first, but upon catching the uncertainty in his sister's stance, prevented himself from blanching and managed a smirk. "Well. You can recount it to me now, if you like."
Kiya cleared her throat as though it would rid her temple of its growing ache. Her nerves. "Some...girl in class was very apologetic about what she'd done a few days ago. She just doesn't – didn't know how to say it. But she is sorry...for lashing out for no reason...she thought it might be her being foolish. She was hoping for forgiveness. Did you," she chanced a look at Horem's features, but they were unreadable. "Did you think she should receive it?'
Horem lay still as a stone, to the point that Kiya was beginning to feel irritation again for his silence, when he shrugged. "Yeah, why not?"
Kiya was almost thankful for Horem's condition. Under normal circumstances, he might have laughed at her and called her out on the apology. Which wasn't at all how she'd planned it, but she felt lighter having said those things. Her brother's acceptance brought her...contentment.
"Aww," Horem cooed suddenly, breaking the solemnity of the moment. "I knew my baby sis loved me! Come 'ere and give us a hug!"
He attempted to roll of his bed and stand, but succeeded only in nauseating himself and retch into the trusty blue bucket at his side. Still, Kiya released the laughter she'd suppressed in his presence for – she didn't know anymore. How long had it been since she had been a true friend to him?
"Okay, I'm ready," said Horem, spreading his arms to reveal his sweaty shirt, but Kiya only shook her head in amusement and left the room. He chuckled and laid himself down again, settling for resting sideways to face his barf bucket.
Kiya never apologised. Ever. In fact, he'd always known that she competed with him in some form or another; he just said nothing because he knew he held those small victories close to her heart. It was almost sad...but he understood, because he'd always had mother and she'd never known their father. Still, he wanted to know what caused her to seek forgiveness from him when she never seemed to care anymore after they drifted apart in their university years.
Of course, there was that friend she told Annie about, and she'd started acting weird when she met him. He was so tempted to go to that museum and ask for the camera records. Professor Goedet would never approve, however, and he held the man's judgment in high esteem. But was it really too much to ask for a little trust from his own twin sister?
"Horem is in a worse condition than I imagined," said Kiya, plopping down on the couch after washing the now dirty rag. Zahi Ganzouri, Sr. had arrived during her conversation with Horem. He'd bought herbs and different types of alternative medicine as well as prescription drugs for his grandson, but he appeared to feel disdain for everything he laid out on the low table before them.
Sorting the medicine as he took his place beside her on the sofa, Zahi glanced at his wife as if making sure she was busy with her cooking before beckoning the younger Kiya closer. "Horem must have taken a concentrated amount of the poison," he said in a half-whisper, "for him to reach such a state."
"Poison?" asked Kiya. "That may be too strong a term. It must have been some bacteria formed in the expired food."
Her grandfather shook his head. "The Ancient Egyptians applied many poisons, you know," he said. "I checked Horem's stool, and it smelled...different. As though he'd taken one of them."
Kiya couldn't help the disgusted twist of her features, but reminded herself that he was looking at this from an educated point of view. Steeling herself, she said, "But Baba Zahi, he was drinking that night. Surely, it was alcohol mixed with the rotten food. I'm certain we already have names for those old poisons. And in any case," Kiya asked curiously, "how could you know what the stool should have smelled like?"
"You didn't know? When we translated the hieroglyphs, we managed to make a list. The descriptions are off in the present day," said Baba Zahi, not even missing a beat, "but when compared to their culture they are accurate. Now, tell me, does Horem have enemies?"
"He has many friends," Kiya replied thoughtfully, "though I suppose he might have 'enemies' in those who are envious of him. Still, I doubt any of them would go so far as to poison him..."
Baba Zahi stared at her until she realized that she was under intense scrutiny. He was watching for something – but what? "Of all people," he said, his face falling as he sighed, "you should know best how envy can destroy even the greatest of dynasties."
Kiya reeled at the statement and the inflection in his tone – disappointment. He'd meant what he said, sounded like he felt it, and she let him down somehow. But poisoning anybody was going too far. It was tempting to go to Ahkmenrah now – his voice put her at ease – but it was a school night, and it wouldn't do to bother Larry if she fell asleep again.
Horem was asleep, so Kiya parted with her grandparents on a testy note that confused her grandmother. When she remained listless after finishing the sandwich the elder Kiya had packed upon her return to 26th street, she called Rebecca's apartment line through hers.
"Hello," the woman answered cheerfully, and while her voice wasn't Ahkmenrah's, it still lightened her mood.
"Rebecca," greeted Kiya, the comfort she felt obvious in her voice, "I'm glad you're back. Do you know about anyone who might've visited Ahkmenrah today?"
"I think I saw two families without tours, yes. Are you all right, Kiya?"
Was she truly so easy to read? "Oh, yes," she answered. "I'm only feeling a bit under the weather today. I'll come visit tomorrow."
"Okay, good," said Rebecca, but her tone matched Horem's when she didn't believe anything she was saying. "Take it easy, okay?"
With a promise to, Kiya ended the conversation. She was certain she'd feel better tomorrow. By the time Kiya woke to the sunlight on her face, she had convinced herself to put her grandfather's concerns out of her mind. There were other things to worry about, like her missing cellphone. It would have been ideal to ask Rebecca to check the museum's lost-and-found, but she could ask for that favor later.
She didn't see Annie that day, but she had bumped into Professor Goedet during lunch. He seemed to have known that she was planning to eat alone, because he'd been waiting for her outside her last class – or he could have just wanted to ask about Horem.
"Still pallid, vomiting, but much better, according to Annie," Kiya told him as they walked out of the building. "Mama Kiya makes amazing soup."
"Hmm," was Professor Goedet's reply, his eyes distant.
"Baba Zahi thinks...Horem might have been poisoned," she muttered, hoping the theory would bring him back to their conversation. "I know, it sounds outlandish and..." Trailing off, Kiya realized it was outlandish to think that the museum characters came to life, too, and yet they did. Was she wrong to doubt he grandfather based on such a shallow thought? But who could be so petty?
"Zahi Ganzouri, Sr. is wise," said Professor Goedet, finally. "He did live the longest...and it is a sound theory, Kiya, given Horem's popularity."
"Perhaps," she replied, and it made her considerably uneasy to fathom that someone had wanted to harm her brother.
Rebecca watched her carefully when they met later at the museum lobby, but Kiya revealed none of her troubles. It was something she'd learned from Larry over the past week – distract them from your concerns by asking about theirs. Not that it served only this purpose. Kiya was genuinely interested in hearing about Rebecca's weekend; she was lucky to have been able to foster such a close relationship with her parents. Still, the docent had work to do, so after 'escorting' Kiya to the Egyptian gallery, she returned to her post at the front desk.
"My grandfather thinks Horem was poisoned," Kiya said to the golden coffin as she strolled into Ahkmenrah's chambers. His place in the Egyptian display always managed to take her breath away – not because of the fake hieroglyphics, certainly, but she felt almost nostalgic whenever she saw his sarcophagus. "I don't know if you remember, but Horem and Annie attended a party last weekend, and now my brother is suffering from an extreme case of food poisoning. And then I completely brushed away Baba Zahi when he said what he thought, and now he's angry with me..."
Kiya felt the ache start from the muscles on her back and straightened up, taking a quick breath as though it rejuvenated her. "But I don't want to bother you with those worries. I just pray Horem will be all right.
"On another note, Larry called Rebecca this morning, saying he'd found the Indiana Jones DVDs he promised we'd watched next time. I'd bring the series myself, but my collection is home in England." Kiya reflected on those words. She hadn't been 'home' since she entered NYU. Horem visited mother before second year started, of course, but Kiya's choice of university over Cambridge had still been a fresh wound then, and she'd spent half the summer with her grandparents, and the other half in Annie's native Chicago, where her friend took her to the museum that inspired her to take MEIS in NYU when she was accepted.
England was home, obviously, because that was where mother was born and inherited a beautiful manse from her parents, but they'd never really stayed for longer than four months. As for her father's side, she'd never explored the Cairo city proper due to how the nature of their visits never involved really venturing into civilization past the airports. If they weren't in planes, they were in excavation sites, or convention centers, or different universities where her mother was asked to give lectures. If home was about permanence, then it was in Manhattan, New York city. If home was about the people she loved, as so stressed in Hallmark cards, then...
"In any case," she said, steeling her thoughts away from the topic – she had read many times that in relationships, it was difficult for women not to keep ranting, whining, moaning about everything, and it was true. She didn't want to add the question of where home truly was to the list of things she constantly spoke of to Ahkmenrah.
Not that they were in a relationship.
"In any case," Kiya repeated forcefully, "I'm still thinking of how to steal you away, to keep that promise you allege I made to you." She smiled. "I still don't remember making it, but I trust your word. I haven't been able to come up with anything past pepper spraying Larry and making a run for the exit, however, which is an idiotic idea because Larry is our friend...I feel a little tired.
"I'm uncertain as to why. The last time I was this tired was three...or was it four years ago, when I first refused to go to Cambridge. Hmm," she wrinkled her nose. "Perhaps I do know. My fight with Horem has weighed heavily on my mind of late...oh, but we're all right now. He forgave me," she said, beaming, both at the memory of Horem's acceptance and the thought that if Ahkmenrah were here, he'd be happy for her. She could see him looking down at her, that pout of his breaking as his lips formed a smile.
Instinctively, maybe, because Kiya didn't know how it got there, her hand went over her heart. It beat wildly, and the blood must have been rushing to her head, because she could feel her heartbeat in her temples. When she frowned in concern for herself, she realized she'd been wearing a smile that stretched from ear to ear.
"That was odd," she muttered, forcing herself to stop smiling, though she couldn't help but step closer to Ahkmenrah's sarcophagus, or reach out for the lines on his face depicted there. She rather missed his company. But it would be silly to let him know that. "Anyway, mother and I only talk during Christmas now, or birthdays. Professor Goedet says we'll be getting together to plan my grandfather's 95th birthday soon – I wonder how that will turn out. For now, I just hope my grandfather and I don't grow distant because of this..."
"I'm certain it won't," said Keith, walking into the sarcophagus chamber with a smile. Kiya had been telling the truth – she was tired, exhausted from thinking of how not to completely sever her apparently doomed relationship with Horem. And now she was exhaustedly relieved to have saved it. So tired, in fact, that she hadn't heard Keith's pounding footsteps nearing the gallery at all.
"You weren't here yesterday," he added when she finally changed her surprised expression into one of acknowledgment.
"I was preoccupied with family business," she explained. "My brother was poisoned – ah, no, what I meant to say was he got food-poisoning from a party he attended."
Keith grimaced with a sympathetic shake of his head. "That happened to me once, back at Cairo. Party for freshmen, and someone brought expired food on purpose. Terrible feeling."
"That's exactly what happened to Horem," said Kiya, and then corrected herself. "Except it couldn't have been on purpose, right?"
"Just out of curiosity," said Keith, who'd only smiled before moving on to coming as close to Ahkmenrah's coffin as she, "were you...speaking with the dead pharaoh?"
"Uh–well–hmm," Kiya tried to say no, but ended up nodding. "For lack of someone to talk to."
"You should be careful," he said, grinning. "They say that sometimes, the dead can still hear the living."
All Kiya could do was give a forced laugh. "So...what are you doing here, Keith?"
"Well," he said, "I only have until Friday here in the United States. Come Saturday morning I'll be returning to Cairo."
"I thought you were staying a month?"
"Cairo University didn't think I needed that much time to collect notes and samples," Keith answered, shrugging. "The truth is, they want me to return home as quickly as possible so they might release findings...while the hype about this museum and Ahkmenrah is still high."
"It's not, really," said Kiya. "With Ahkmenrah, I mean. People don't really venture into this part of the museum. I think the jackals scare them."
Keith narrowed his glinting eyes at her. "He seems to have ensnared you well enough."
Kiya's smile fell.
"I'm only joking!" Keith laughed, raising his hands in surrender. "They say this King was quite...sought after in his time. Please don't murder me."
Kiya chuckled. "Of course not."
"Great. So, come to my going-away dinner party Friday night?"
"I can't," Kiya said so immediately and sharply that she might have rehearsed it. Not only did she dislike the idea of meeting all his colleagues here in Manhattan – though she would like to meet those with knowledge on Ahkmenrah, she'd rather do it over dinner instead of a dinner party; no one was ever coherent during parties, except those in the museum – she already had business on Friday night.
Still, Keith's disappointment made her feel guilty. "I'm sorry," she gave as a follow-up. "I need to work on my research paper for Professor Goedet."
Keith quirked an eyebrow. "And that's due Saturday, when your research just finished the day before?"
"Professor Goedet thinks a research paper should be written during the research. A draft, if you will," Kiya answered. "Which is...why he set the deadline the next day." What a lie. Her grandparents had never taught her to lie; but she had been doing a lot of that, to protect the museum's secret. And this was for that, too. "But you could visit the museum before closing time. I'll still be here then," she offered.
Satisfaction illuminated Keith's visage. "Very well," he agreed. "I should go. I have obligatory dinner with my colleague's friends here in Manhattan."
With a squeeze of her wrist, he bade her goodbye. Kiya was still confused as to why Keith Kashani would be interested in a recluse, but that was far from her mind as she returned her gaze to the golden sarcophagus.
"I meant none of that, of course," Kiya insisted, giving in and touching his coffin's golden features, nothing at all like the real one. A base imitation. "I only said it to protect our secret, Ahkmenrah. You know I get along with you...more than with anybody else I've ever known."
Kesi was a genius, of course, but she would never admit it as much as she thought it.
"My lord," her best friend had said to her father, "I might remind the princess that she still has much work in her room to finish, if she is to rest early."
Reluctantly, he'd allowed her to leave, but it was more than she could ever have bargained for. Dinner was when they could spend time with one another, he dictated, as though she were still an impressionable child. He had no idea that she had plans of her own, that if all went well with the letter-writing, then she could finally break free.
For now, however, she and Kesi could only walk along the corridors she was permitted through. She had long questioned this – if she truly was a princess, why were so many halls forbidden to her? But her father's flashing anger whenever Heb had expressed his curiosity taught her that it was best to learn through the servants, through Kesi who was allowed to roam wherever she wished. Even grandmother's always welcoming arms grew cold when she attempted to breach the subject.
Still, she liked walking with Kesi to her room. Her childhood friend shared the latest gossip within the palace and the city with her, and though Amunet never spoke with them beyond acknowledging their presence when they kowtowed, she liked the feeling, as if she knew the castle help herself.
Kesi had been giggling under her breath about a fight between two assistants of the high priest over another servant girl when a deep voice close enough to hear startled them, saying, "Your Highness."
She and Kesi whirled, eyes wide, but they tempered their shock. It was only Sadiki. Had they not known him like they did, they wouldn't have seen the grin of amusement tugging at his lips.
"Yes, guard?" Amunet replied, trying not to smile. Formalities were required, of course, around other servants. It was fun in its own way, as though the three of them had their own secret to keep. It used to be the four of them, but...
"You must keep your distance from Her Highness, guard," said Kesi, unable to suppress her bright smile. "Your proximity is close to improper."
"Or Kesi's envy," Amunet muttered humorously, pretending to cough and hack. When Kesi nipped a finger at her elbow, pretending to steady her, she cleared her throat and returned to her expressionless countenance.
"State your business, guard," said Kesi.
Sadiki shook his head at their antics and only bowed his head, touching a closed fist over his chest. "A visitor waits in Her Highness's quarters."
Amunet's heart leapt as ideas and situations filled her head, but she halted her foolish imagination herself. He didn't know her identity, so it couldn't possibly be him. It could only be grandmother.
"Thank you, guard," she said, dismissing him. The hallway was starting to clear. "You might rest."
"I can't," Sadiki said when they were finally alone in the corridor. "Some might say Her Highness pays special attention to a lowly guard."
"It hardly matters," she almost snapped, glaring at a torch to his left. "'Some' hardly know I exist."
"And yet your father would punish you, if word of this were to reach his ears."
She supposed he was right, but put on a frown she knew Kesi would see through. "You test my patience, guard. Kesi, take him out of my sight. I will see to this visitor alone."
"As you wish, Your Highness," Kesi answered, bowing in tandem with Sadiki, but flashed a grateful smile before disappearing down the hall.
The visitor was a man whose messy jet black hair obscured most of his forehead, his growing beard making him look older than they were. Elbows against his knees, he honed a knife against a rock on her bed.
"Heb," she gasped, failing to conceal her shock.
He dropped the knife and lifted his head to look at her before practically leaping and taking her in his arms. "I've missed you," he said, like it was a promise he constantly kept.
She allowed herself to rest her head against his chest, but after a mere seconds shoved him away and rushed to close the door behind her. "You fool!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here? You could be caught – and executed!"
Heb ignored her. "You weren't told? I've come to save you from this place!" he said, coming closer and taking her by the elbows. "That man is going too far. My sources have revealed to me what he plans to have you do!"
"You've gone mad," she gasped, forcing him to release her. "I can't leave. I can't throw my life away like you did. You had everything I wanted – recognition, friends, an existence, Heb! And you threw it all away for–!"
"Listen to yourself," he interrupted, his face taking on disbelief. "We will never be royalty, Amunet! No matter what he does!"
She stared at him like he really had gone off the deep end. "What are you talking about?"
"...You don't know? The reason why you're here is–" Heb groaned. "It doesn't even matter! I tried to make him realize it, but that man has too much control over him – just as he has gained control over you!"
"I am nobody's puppet," she muttered, first to herself, and then to the man before her, for whom she suddenly felt intense indignation. She couldn't hate him; she could never. But she was angry with him. "I am nobody's puppet!" she repeated, and pointed to the window. "Get out, Heb."
Heb appeared apologetic but resigned, picking up his knife. Climbing the window, he took one last glance at her. "I'll save you yet. I promise."
Kiya opened her eyes and reached out her hand, as though it would stop the man in her dream from leaving. She could still see the desperate concern in his eyes, feel the anger in Amunet's heart. The girl had been thinking to bide her time. She thought, and Kiya remembered, that she was biding her time. Unlike Heb.
"Oh." Kiya shot upright in bed, scrambling out of her sheets to search for her notebook. She fell to the side of her bed in a pathetic heap. "Oh, Lord."
Heb was a real, existing Pharaoh from Ancient Egypt. It was Ahkmenrah, first, when his father gave him the crown in his old age, and then Kahmunrah when his young brother died, and then Heb. Could it really be? Or was she simply hallucinating because his name had been mentioned to her a few days ago?
He was an outlaw in this dream. One attempting to save Kiya–no, not her. He wanted to save Amunet from the palace. If this dream was true...then she was dreaming of the past. She would tell herself it was impossible, but then the dreams had begun days after she met Ahkmenrah, a risen Pharaoh, for goodness' sake! But who was Amunet? Had her proximity to his tablet revealed these things to her? Clearly, if her dreams had happened, then this was before Heb became Pharaoh. And yet the history books claimed that Heb was Ahkmenrah's...
Kiya drank a sip of water and shook her head. She was taking her thoughts too far. She was extremely imaginative, not unlike Amunet from her dream.
Her alarm clock rang, apparently not for the first time. 9 o'clock?
That never happened. She was always awake early. Luckily, Kiya still remembered being rushed to get dressed by Annie's aunts whenever they had surprise family get-togethers to attend in the middle of the afternoon during summer, and bolted to the bathroom.
When class was over, she reminded herself to call Rebecca later to ask for information on visitors to the Egyptian gallery. She felt guilty about not being able to keep Ahkmenrah company in the day, but she would visit the museum over the weekend and compensate for it then.
"Somebody still owes me a hug," Horem grinned when she arrived at their grandparents' penthouse. He was finally out of bed, and didn't look like he was about to fall over and die at any moment. Slouching on the sofa, he opened his arms again.
Kiya shot him a disgusted look, but ended it with a grin.
Annie had been helping Mama Kiya with kitchen duties. Washing her hands in the sink, Annie laughed. "Come on, Kiya, he's been waiting for this all day."
"I doubt it," Kiya said, but her smile remained as she took a seat beside Horem. She hadn't laughed with them in a while. He enveloped her in a great bearhug, knowing that squeezing tight would aggravate her. "All right, all right," she wheezed, stretching her arms to free herself.
Horem laughed maniacally, but lifted his arms when one of the doors closed. "Baba Zahi, look who finally succumbed to my hugging!"
Baba Zahi replied, chuckling, "You're still recovering, Horem. We don't want you vomiting by accident."
Kiya's smile faded, but she tried not to let it. This was exactly what she was afraid of – that her relationship with her grandfather would mimic the one she shared with her mother. "Baba Zahi," she said, rising slowly, "may I speak with you...in private?"
He followed her outside to the balcony, where cars were only as small as her thumb and the air was cool. When he closed the door behind her, she turned. "I don't know who would try to poison Horem," she said, "but it is a possibility I...shouldn't have dismissed so freely."
Baba Zahi was already smiling, even before she spoke. "You needn't apologise, little one. I'm sorry I upset you so."
Kiya stiffened. "I...I wasn't upset." Then again, it was Baba Zahi, and he'd always managed to read her somehow. Even almost five years to living for a century, his posture was upright, his mind sharp and his movements precise.
Zahi Ganzouri, Sr. only smiled. A father's approval had always been important to her, he'd been told, but only in the beginning. He wondered when she would break free of him. "Come now, before your brother begins to worry what secrets we share without him," he said, resting an arm around her shoulder and leading her back inside. "You know he loves his secrets."
Horem jumped from the couch and squinted at them. "What secrets?"
Annie rolled her eyes at him and pressed her hands against his shoulders, forcing him to sit. "Horem," she reprimanded, somehow. Kiya always found it amusing how she was tough only when she wanted to be, and usually that involved keeping her brother in line. "Ignore him, Kiya. Are you staying for dinner?"
"Of course she's staying for dinner!" Baba Zahi declared, clapping her on the back with a smile before returning to his and his wife's room, where she claimed to be searching for something.
"All right, I will," Kiya surrendered, taking a seat next to Annie. "Just allow me to call my friend from the museum. She said she would send me the information I needed for the research."
"Right," Horem snorted. "How do you plan to do that?"
Kiya shot him a triumphant expression in advance of her retort. "In this century, my brother, there are technological devices called cellular phones which–"
"You can't use if they're missing?" Horem finished, crossing his arms and smirking.
Kiya pursed her lips. Oh, yes. Her brother sniggered before tossing her his cellphone. "There. Don't ever say I didn't do anything for you."
Kiya kept her promise (or was it her grandfather's?) and stayed for dinner after making the necessary calls. Although it was tempting, Horem managed not to press Kiya for details about her museum visits and actually made her laugh. He remembered when they were children, and college was a concern far from their minds. Sure, he'd already noticed that he was their mother's favorite, for some unjust reason...but Kiya hadn't yet, and they were still happy then. Some of his quips came close to irritating his sister, but if she was as aggravated as she was a few days ago, she didn't show it.
He really had to meet this guy, whoever he was, or he was going to go nuts.
Horem jolted awake when his chair jerked to the left. Sleeping during class for Horem hadn't actually meant dozing off. It was more of lulling his mind into a state of nothingness while he automatically wrote down whatever his professor was saying, or whatever was going through his mind at the moment. It was pretty useful, if he said so himself (which he often did). Removing his heavy cheek from the base of his palm, he shook his head and glanced down at the last lines on his notes.
resulting in the end of the Amarna period. (But you already knew that.)
everybody's looking for something some of them want to use you some of them want to get used by you some of them want to abuse you some of them want to be abused sweet dreams
"Where did that come from?" he asked himself with a lopsided grin, when a hand clamped down over his head then promptly released it again. It was Kiya who'd kicked his chair, and after messing up his hair had made her way towards Professor Goedet's desk.
"What's that?" Annie asked, having just finished fixing her things. She stood at the base of his chair's armrest, peering over his shoulder. She laughed at his comments to himself, enclosed in parentheses, and then at the lyrics below. "Hmm. Marilyn Manson, right?"
"Eurythmics," he corrected, shutting his notebook before swiping it into his backpack. "Let's see what our favorite specimen's up to this time."
Kiya had survived Thursday in Professor Karim's class with a confident stance. She and a newly recovered Horem had answered every one of his questions correctly, much to the chagrin of their more antagonistic classmates, but he didn't seem to mind, himself. It bothered her, but she would never question why he was acting cordial. She spent all afternoon typing most of her research paper, calling Rebecca through her apartment line.
"...I will submit the paper soon," she was saying when her friends arrived. "I've learned so much from the paper, professor. You have no idea."
"You know I am always happy to help. Especially those who are family to me," the professor replied as his eyes flickered to Horem.
"Almost done, huh? We should celebrate!" Horem exclaimed, throwing his arms over Annie and Kiya. "Dinner and a movie, what do you think, Professor?"
"I'm afraid the professors have a meeting later tonight," he shook his head.
"I can't," Kiya said, reminiscent of her conversation with Keith, though it was said with a heavier tone of apology. "I...want to finish my paper tonight. How about Sunday?"
"Why not tomorrow?" suggested Annie.
"I...already have plans," admitted Kiya.
"That's a first," Horem grinned, a quip his sister chose to ignore. Professor Goedet shot him a pointed look. He was about to ask what those plans were, exactly, when Kiya opened her mouth.
"I should head for the museum. Goodbye," she said pleasantly, squeezing Annie's shoulder and pinching Horem's wrist painfully, and exited the classroom.
Horem rubbed his wrist and clicked his tongue. "Gut instinct says follow my sister. Gut instinct never fails," he said in such a matter-of-factly way that anyone who wasn't used to his antics would have fallen for it.
"Gut instinct said eat the expired food in the party that knocked you out for a few days," Annie retorted. "Girlfriend says betraying Kiya's trust like that will only result in another fight."
"Professor has another class coming in," said Professor Goedet, motioning to the next batch of students filling the seats of his assigned room. "Run along, children."
"Children have a movie date anyway," Horem huffed, but thanked the professor and sauntered out with Annie on his arm.
"Hello, boys," Kiya greeted the jackals as she sauntered by them. They were still fearsome, but were clearly amenable to lowering their spears when she spoke to them in their language. At any rate, she wasn't there for them.
"My cellphone!" she gasped when she reached Ahkmenrah's sarcophagus. It was right on top, turned on, half the batteries still there just like the last time she remembered using it. Odd…but it had been an inconvenience, losing it. Checking her missed calls – a lot by Annie, indeed – she smiled down at Ahkmenrah. "Did I leave it here during my last visit? I don't recall doing that…but thank you."
"Am I late?"
Kiya whirled, cellphone clutched to her chest. "Oh, Keith. It's only you," she said, relieved.
The young man lifted an eyebrow. "Were you expecting anyone?"
"No," she laughed. "I just arrived, too."
Keith nodded. "I'm leaving tomorrow."
"Yes, you are." Kiya wanted to eat her cellphone and die. Another one of her genius responses, no doubt. But he seemed not to mind.
A quiet lull carried them through an age before Keith shrugged, noncommittally. "I'll miss your company, Kiya."
She felt she could only smile. "Your company will be missed too, Keith." Walking to the arch out of the tomb and looking at the shining, ebony guardians by the door, she grinned, "Even by the jackals, I am certain."
Keith gave a snort and a laugh. "I am certain they won't. Now, Kiya, there's something I've been meaning to ask."
Kiya's cellphone vibrated. A message from Larry asking her if she was coming tonight. Typing down a reply, she looked back up to Keith. "Sorry, it was a friend… Ask away."
"Do you believe in reincarnation?"
Dun dun dun!
Anyway I owe you all a big sorry and thank you for reviewing even after it takes me forever to update! I love you guys :)
TTCyclone: Hooray! Thank you! That's good to know. Hope you also like the OC's :)
pinkxjellybean: I could never abandon this! I've still got a bit on the storyboard so I won't be giving this up anytime soon!
Elven Heart993: I'm so glad to hear from you! You've been there since the beginning! :)) I hope you like how Kesi and Sadiki were portrayed here!
Liliesshadow: Here it is, the update! Hope you enjoyed it!
Reno'sDemon: Do it! Although I've never actually read another Night at the Museum fic in my entire stay here for the sake of not being tempted to accidentally plagiarize anyone else's ideas, I'd want to read your fic someday when this is done! :) I, too, love Rexy. Haha!
wolf-shadow666: Wheee! I love hearing your theories! I can't say how close you are to the right answer, but you're very perceptive, especially when it comes to things only said in passing! ;)
Adriatic Rose: Thank you for the long review! I love long reviews! And your follow-up one, too! Very honored to know you compare The Missing Piece to other NatM fics you read, but I'm not even that good yet compared to other authors I've read on this site! Still, thank you! I hope the chapter was up to your standards. :)
Masked Bard of Chaos: Right? I like Amy Adams and it was really cute how she portrayed Amelia Earhart, but I really liked Rebecca and Larry from the first movie, so I'm probably going to keep that here. Not sure yet but it's a big possibility. I'm glad we agree about the Smithsonian! :)) And thank you for the compliment on TMP! Always appreciated.
Thank you still, again, to everyone who reviewed! And to those who will! I know it takes time to do so. :) But I really appreciate you telling me how you feel about each chapter! You guys are my beacon light for this. And Rami Malek. But that needn't be said. :))
Truth is I got super inspired to write this because I just saw Battleship yesterday, and he was there! In a scene with the amazing Liam Neeson! I'm so proud of him. Well he's not credited in it anywhere and I didn't exactly see the cast list but I swear it was him. I could tell those eyes and lips from anywhere! I think. Check it out and tell me if you saw him too!
See you next time! I will try to make the next one soon :)