I Hope It Gives You Hell
Yuugi had expected his plane ride to be long, boring, and extremely uncomfortable. Every trip he'd ever taken on a plane before had always been kept within the country, and consequently were never longer than three hours. He always rode coach, and was always so stiff when he finally was allowed the chance to stand up again he couldn't walk right for a couple of hours.
Flying first class was completely different. His seat was so spacious, he could recline so far he was practically completely flat, and he didn't even have to pay for the headphones that allowed him to listen to the classical music on the channel four option on the arm of his seat. Yuugi enjoyed a very late dinner that actually tasted good, and was given a soft blanket and a small pillow that fit nicely underneath of his head when he reclined to rest.
The attendants served him breakfast as well, which was also good. He was surprised that air plane food actually could have such a good flavor. He'd have to fly first class more often. He found it was definitely worth the extra fair.
Eight hours later, he had a layover in Paris, where he sat four a little over an hour and a half until he could jump on the next flight to Pisa, which lasted him about another two hours.
By the time he got to Pisa, it was late in the afternoon of the following day. Yuugi stretched his arms and felt his back pop as he stood in line waiting for a taxi. It was nice that it was so late, because he would make it to Marina di Cecina by evening and be able to sleep all night.
As Yuugi gave the address to the clerk at the counter, he mused about just where he was going. It would have been terribly easy for him to look up the location on the Internet and find out everything he could about it, but for some reason he felt he owed it to himself and to Atem to let himself be surprised. Why ruin what was possibly waiting for him?
Yuugi wasn't exactly sure everything that his driver was telling him as he helped to load up his luggage into the trunk. He did manage to catch snatches of sir, please, and thank you, but he didn't understand the rest of the Italian that was being said. So, for the hour ride he had to Marina di Cecina, it was quiet, with only the hum of the taxi creating noise.
Florence Pisa was a huge city. Yuugi found he couldn't tear his eyes away from the architecture, with its white city walls and red shingled roof tops. Huge churches and cathedrals were everywhere, and in the middle of everything was trees, grass, people, and cars.
There were a lot of cars in Pisa. Yuugi found himself grateful that he was not driving, because it certainly looked stressful.
The country side itself was beautiful, too. Rolling hills covered with vineyards and cottages dotted the landscape. The young man found himself glad to be out of his normal surroundings. He could forget himself here for a while, and pretend to be someone else. It was freeing. There were no expectations he had to live up to. Yuugi smiled when he realized no one would be calling on him for any reason. No work, no pestering, just complete solitude and relaxation. He'd have to remember to thank Atem for this as soon as he made it home again.
The sun was nearly setting by the time the taxi took a sharp right down a windy hillside road and plunged itself through a bunch of trees that were overhanging the road. Yuugi noticed the street sign read La Promessa Punta, and there was two or three other homes situated around the area. At the end of the road, as it had come to a dead end, was a small driveway that was flanked by two large cat sculptures. Yuugi recognized the four foot tall creations to be imitations of Egyptian Mau cats. The statues were well made. Yuugi marveled at the details in the faces. There were Egyptian Udjats carved to look like pendants hanging around their necks. Both cat statues were painted black. This has to be the right place. Atem mentioned that his family is Egyptian.
Yuugi wasn't quite sure how much to pay and tip, so he fumbled with the exchanged tender until he heard a very grateful grazie, grazie tanto!! from the driver. With that settled, Yuugi took a deep breath, hoisted his bag on his shoulder, and started to walk up the driveway.
There was a distinct flavor of sea salt on the air. He could even hear waves crashing against a shoreline the further up he walked. After what must have been five minutes of walking uphill, Yuugi finally settled his eyes on the small, one level home that was perched up on the hillside. Its walls were white and thick with plaster. The roof, much like many of the other roofs of Italy, was a rusted red color of stone shingles. There was a small fence of black wrought iron that held a poorly maintained garden of shrubs and grass. Cypress trees were everywhere.
Just as he was about to step onto the landing of the front door, the corner of his eyes caught sight of a person coming out of the garden. When he turned his head to look at them fully, he saw it was a woman with thick blond hair and bright blue eyes. She was wearing a white sun dress with yellow ribbon trim, and there was a small purple flower in her hair. She looked shocked to see anyone around, and started to rapidly question him in another language. If he wasn't mistaken, it sounded French.
Flustered, he fished in his pocket until he found the small piece of blue paper with the address written on it. Maybe he had the wrong place after all? Hopefully, she'd be able to tell him where he should have gone instead.
The woman quieted when he pushed to paper out for her to see. Her small hand took the proffered blue slip and looked at it. Her eyes narrowed at first, then widened when she saw what was written on it. "Dis is Atem's 'andwriting," she said in a very thick French accent. "You know my broser?"
"Yes," Yuugi replied, glad that she understood English. "He told me to come here. He didn't tell me family would be here."
The French woman handed him the paper back and seemed to relax. "He did not know I vould be here. No one knows I am here. My name is Mana. Vat is yours?"
"Yuugi. It's nice to meet you Mana."
The woman motioned for the two of them to enter the house, and Yuugi opened the door for her. "How do you know my broser?" She asked.
"He's my neighbor. He moved in next to me not too long ago."
The house was gorgeous on the inside. The walls were a soft, barely yellow warm color. The floor was covered in thick red stone tiles and rich oriental rugs. The back wall was made entirely out of glass, and the thick curtains that were hanging up were mostly opened, and revealed a breathtaking view of the sea.
"Ah, yes. He did mention some time ago zat he vas moving into a house. I 'avnen't seen him in quite some time."
Yuugi did not put his bag down quite yet. His eyebrows furrowed together as he stared at the place. "I would not have come if I had known the house was in use. I don't want to impose. Just let me call a cab and I'll get a hotel room in town."
Mana waved him off as she pulled some juice out of the fridge. "Do not be silly! If my broser sent you here, you must need to find yourself as vell! Dis house is plenty big enough! You'll 'ardly ever see me."
"Are you sure?"
"Positiv!" She stated firmly. Her accent was so thick. It sounded like she had lived in France all her life.
Yuugi let his bag fall to the floor and pulled up a chair at the center island that was to the right of him. The main room seemed to consist of almost everything. There was a fireplace on the far wall to his left, and the rest of the living room was broken into two sitting areas along the glass wall. To his right was a small hallway, then the kitchen and center island that occupied the wall of the front of the house. From the kitchen one did not have an impeded view of the living room, glass wall, or fireplace. "Forgive me for asking, but you seem very French, and Atem doesn't have even a trace of an accent. Are you blood related?"
Mana sighed as she sat across from him with her juice. "Yes, alzough our family could fool even ze best zat ve are truly related." She took a drink of her juice. "Our family started in Egypt, Luxor to be exact. Our parents broke up ven ve vere s'ree. My faser and broser moved to New York, and me and my moser moved to Marseille. Dis house 'as been in my family for generations on my faser's side. Every summer, Atem and I vould spend 'ere, and every vinter ve voud part again."
Yuugi nodded. "Makes sense. It's sad you get to see him so little."
Mana shrugged a little, and finished her juice.
Yuugi sat back and admired the native art on the walls. "Why would Atem have me come here?"
"Zat, 'Uugi, is easy to answer."
The young man winced at the slaughtering of his name, but did not move to correct her on the pronunciation. "Really? Why?"
"Because." She waved her slender hand in the direction of the house. "Alsough dis house is on La Promessa Punto, we have alvays called it La Réflexion Maison. Ze Reflection House. You see, ze only reason faser kept dis place is because of ze meaning it has long had for ze family. Venever one of us is feeling lost, or tired of ze outside vorld, ve come here to find ourselves again."
Yuugi's mouth opened as it dawned on him why Atem would have him come here. He was suddenly very struck with how much the guitarist must have come to care for him, to allow him to come to such a cherished place.
Mana gave him a sidelong glance. "Atem must care very much for you. I have not seen anyone outside of ze family allowed here since my moser."
He couldn't help but fiddle with the hem of his shirt. "Yes, he does seem to. I find myself a little surprised as well."
Mana stood up and placed her glass in the small dishwasher next to the sink. "My room is de first one on ze right. You can have any oz'er one zat is open."
The woman smiled and turned to leave. Yuugi caught just the end of her white dress as she slipped into the hallway and into her room.
The sun had finally set by then. Yuugi got up and roamed around the kitchen for a little bit, as his stomach was starting to growl again. It had been quite a few hours since he'd had any food on the airplane. He grabbed an apple, and a couple of slices of bread, and made his way into the first bedroom on the left. It was the first one he found open, and with the view that it had of the ocean, he found he couldn't complain about the accommodations at all.
It was just then as he was brushing his teeth in the adjoining bathroom and marveling at the ornate fixtures on the sink, that Yuugi realized that he had no idea why Mana was here, and she in turn hadn't asked why he needed to be there either. If this place indeed served as some sort of haven for family members that were looking for themselves, then there was a reason that Mana was here. He found himself a little curious as to why.
As he laid down on the very plush mattress, Yuugi realized that he was almost looking forward to the following day. There was a beach, delicious local food to try, and a mild mystery to solve. This vacation was already looking up.