It was raining again and she'd left her umbrella at home with Archie. Did that surprise Aaliyah at all? No, not really. That kind of thing always seemed to happen when she was seeing someone. It was practically a law of nature. You will meet someone and the day you're to go out together, it will rain. As if the rain itself were tuned into her brain and the need she had to reach out to someone. Granted before, every relationship she ever attempted tended toward falling apart before it ever fell together. However, if this feeling, the lightness in her chest, was to be believed then there was a reason each and every one of those relationships failed. They failed by not being the right one. She'd been waiting for Adra. Running through the now driving rain toward the coffee shop, those thoughts continued to consume her.
Her boss had looked her dead in the face when she moved to leave, quirking an eyebrow at her behavior as if to say she wasn't supposed to be going anywhere. She simply nodded in his direction and dipped out of the office. It was ten minutes till six. If it had still been somewhat dry, she would have been on time. However, she was now according to her watch five minutes late. "Please don't let her have left," she muttered under her breath. There was still a distance to run and she was going as fast as the weather would allow without falling and breaking an ankle. She stopped in the recessed doorway of the museum and looked up at the picture still staring down at her from the entry way. "This is not happening. Don't be gone." Then she was out of the doorway again on her way down the street trying to make a deadline she'd already missed.
Trade the rain for sun beating down on her shoulders and she would have been back in one of the last days of her life, when the two of them split up to avoid their pursuers and she found out just too late how much danger Adra was in. She had run through the streets of packed sand, prayers on her lips, and the wind whipping back her hair to try and get to her first. Needless to say she failed. The very same fear consumed her. The fear she would be too late. Professed love or not, a woman stood up on a date was a woman stood up and they all tended to react in a rather predictable fashion: they got upset. Aaliyah slipped in the doorway of the coffee shop, grabbing ahold of the door handle with a startled squawk. Pulling herself up, she looked through the glass door, eyes darting back and forth to try and find the single face she wanted to see. It was now fifteen after six.
Eleni spent those hours after she left the coffee shop getting ready for their date. Not that there was something so terribly wrong with her that it should take her so long, but she wanted to be perfect. A silly thought really as they had probably already seen each other at their worst in their past life, but the way she felt for Aaliyah demanded that she always be at her best. She had bathed for what seemed like forever in lily-scented water, scrubbing every inch of her body even long after the water turned cold. When she was finally satisfied in how clean she was she moved on to her hair, which had been hard to tame but she was ultimately successful and eventually her once wild hair shined and her curls were still long and intact but she believed they looked more inviting to fingers if the other woman wished to play with them. She put on a little lip stain and black eye-liner, something she rarely did, once again just to impress the woman she loved, knowing full well that she probably did not have time to change or do herself up. And perhaps something deep down made Eleni want to prove to Aaliyah that she was worth her attention, that she could be as beautiful and lovely as she had been back when they were together. But even then she had a inferiority complex, so it was probably not all that surprising coming from her.
Her clothing had been carefully chosen as well. A somewhat casual red dress that ended at her knees, little white lacy shrug to cover her bare arms, though it did little to keep out the cool the rain had brought, so she did wear a coat but quickly slipped it off once she entered the coffee shop. She had arrived about twenty minutes early, though that was mostly due to her nerves which had been building since she realized that she had agreed to go out with this woman that she loved beyond all reason. She was tempted to buy a coffee, but knew the last thing she needed was caffeine to make her even more hyper, so she simply sat there, tapping her fingers on the table and the side of her high-heeled wrap-up sandals against the other, doing her best to not look at her phone or at the clock. When she did give in she saw it was six o' one and the knots in her stomach began to grow.
Those minutes after six and waiting for her had to be the longest of her young life. It felt like an eternity, though if Aaliyah was actually running that late she probably would not have noticed since time seemed to pass so slowly for her. She was even tempted to pull out one of the old sketch pads she had decided to bring with her, she intended to show the other woman when they had a quiet moment to talk. She wasn't sure why she wanted to show these to her, it was probably rather creepy, but she felt like she would appreciate the fact that she had been thinking of her long before they met that day at the museum.
She checked her watch again, seeing how late her lover really was, and she let out a sigh. She wasn't angry or annoyed as much as concerned that she might have run off again, something that Eleni probably would not have been able to take. Thankfully the next time she looked up she saw the other woman come in the door, causing her to stand so she would be sure that Eleni had waited for her.
The sigh of relief was absolutely audible. She wasn't gone. Closing her eyes, she let herself feel that relief as it moved through her veins. The warmth of the coffee shop was enough to draw a bit of steam from her coat. The small braids of her hair were slick and wet, but it didn't bother her all that much. Truthfully, her only thought was the fact that Adra was still with her; she had waited. Even the fact she had nearly fallen on her face was lost along the way. It was as if she were getting to rewrite history. This time, she managed to make it in time. Last time, she failed; regardless of how she looked at it, she had failed in reaching Adra in time last time. Now she could walk to her and hold her, know things were not over. She had not even had a chance to change out of her work clothes, good thing they were semi-dressy in the first place. Black and white, with red at the throat. She moved through the shop to the table Eleni had chosen for them and put her arms around her.
"Forgive me, I'm late," it brought to mind the idea of better late than never, but sometimes never was truly better. Though if one of them had survived instead of both of them having died in those ancient days, would they have been given this second chance? "I didn't keep you waiting long?" The hours at work ticked by so slowly she first thought time was going backward. The constant ticking of the clock driving a nail into her brain. Horrible in every possible way. Aaliyah found herself leaning back in her chair and staring at the ceiling, trying to find the face in the tiles.
She kissed the other woman's cheeks when they hugged and as they parted she quickly thought over what she was asking. "No, of course not." it was only partly a lie, after all, she was the one who arrived so early knowing that she would probably be a little late as she was trying to get away from work. But wanting to get away from the idea of just having lied to spare her feelings she moved the topic on to something else. "Tough day at work? I hope your boss did not give you much trouble for returning a little late." lateness that she had been partly responsible for, and to her it felt as if she was completely responsible for it. Letting her leave had been hard to do, but she accepted the fact that these days she actually had to work in order to live.
"I'm sorry if he did, I mean, I can't help but feel that it was my fault." she admitted quietly, sitting down at the table in hopes of giving Aaliyah time to recover from her rush and to dry off a bit. Eleni had brought her umbrella and it was plenty big enough for the both of them, but she did not want to subject the older woman to the elements again so quickly. It had to be growing colder outside but the coffee shop was nice and warm. Something in her head reminded her of how warm Irisi's skin had been when pressed against her own, how soft her lips had been and the utter bliss she had felt when they were close together. These led to other thoughts and memories and she had to quickly think of something else to keep herself from blushing.
In her search for something else her eyes only continued to find aspects of the woman across from her that she adored, though it was easier not blush now. She just had to deal with the nerves that came with being so close to someone she had once loved but now was not sure how to behave around.
It would have been so easy to linger in the kiss on the cheek, even with the memories of so much more in her head. However, the memories of more were there. Pressing to the glass of reality as if looking for some chink through which to slip. The present wanted to become the past. The moments when she held Adra to her heart, stroked her hair, kissed far less innocent places than a cheek. Aaliyah could have blushed at the thought, but she didn't. It was just one more thought and she could live with that. "I don't really talk to him. I'm not even sure he'd know my name if I asked," the unfortunate truth about her job was it was nameless, faceless, impersonal, and undeniably boring. Her boss knew her face well enough to know she was meant to be in his department and thus working the hours his department worked, including the overtime no one could help but dread since it was always so late when they were finally allowed to go home. She didn't particularly like being sent home once it had gotten to be too late. This was a city still, there were dangers to account for. A single female walking home in the dark was a magnet for trouble. Especially since she took the subway every day. The subway was practically tailor-made for something bad to happen. A small enclosed space where there was almost nowhere to run. Something she would rather not think about.
Shedding her jacket to a nearby table where it could hang and hopefully dry, she finally slipped into the chair across from Eleni. "You've got nothing to be sorry about," it was not a lie. It was the absolute truth. "I can't even tell you what I actually do because I'm not terribly sure. I fill in information for a company whose name I can only recall if I truly try working for a man I might overlook if I see him out on the street." She put her hands on the table, manicured nails taking on a faint glimmer in the light. Then she turned her head to look out the window. "It always rains when I'm with someone." An observation with nothing at all to do with the previous conversation.
It never really seemed to rain in Egypt. The days had been nearly universally hot. How many times had they wished for the rain to come only for it to be denied? Now, every time she looked up, it seemed as if heaven was opening the floodgates down upon her head. An irony certainly if one stopped to think about it. But perhaps it only made the old adage true: What you don't get in this life, you get in the next. It was meant to bring on the idea of Karmic retribution, but in this case, it was something she had wanted then and didn't really truly want now. If this was retribution, it was a rather lame one in her opinion. Turning back to her companion, Aaliyah took more time to really look at her. She was beautiful. Undeniably so. So much as to take the breath away, but really it only made the woman want to touch her all the more. The dark eyed look at been one common in Egypt, necessary against the glare of the sun, and yet still somehow lovely on some faces. Like the face recreating the look across from her. "You are beautiful."
She had meant to say something about being thankful that the heavens considered her with her, but she found she could not say it after her compliment. That blush she had been fighting before eventually won, though this was purely due to her words and not some thoughts that were better left in the bedroom. "I... You must not say such things to me, I will turn completely red and my head will start to swell." she had to look down at the table for a moment, a little grin tugging at the sides of her mouth as her cheeks were still tinted red. When she did manage to find a little composure she looked back up at the woman. "I wanted to look my best for you, though I know my host family is very much pleased that I am finally out of the bathroom. I probably spent more time in there primping than was humanly necessary, though I suppose you could say I discovered why a woman certainly doesn't need a mirror with 10x magnification." it had made her paranoid enough about her flaws that she eventually had to cover that mirror, but that didn't mean she wasn't still paranoid and concerned about them. Deep down she knew Irisi thought her beautiful anyway, but that silly voice in her head told her that the other woman had to go to great pains to ignore those flaws.
Perhaps she was giving too much away, someone had once told her to be a mystery when out with someone the first time. But this was not their first time together after all, and they certainly knew more about each other than some married couples. Or rather, they did, things were different now as they were different people in a different situation, but she did not believe they were that great, especially physically. Though she began to wonder if bringing along some of her older sketches was a good idea or not, Irisi was actually naked in a few of them, and while she was hopeful that she would get to experience first hand again how accurate she had been, it was much to soon to be thinking about that. Also seeing naked drawings of one's self had to be a bit alarming when you hadn't met the person who had drawn them before they had been drawn. Those could wait a while, perhaps a good long while until they were once again comfortable with each other.
"Well," she tried to steer the subject back on to the topic of her job as opposed to the compliments that would only give Eleni thoughts she should not be having so soon on a first date. "At least it has got to be nice earning your own way, I mean, I've got grants and student loans that I have no hope of repaying as no one around here seems willing to hire someone who only has a student visa, no discernible skills and no experience. Though they tell me that in this country you have to starve to be a truly great artist, I hope they were not being literal, because I am afraid I might just be taking it literally."
The discussion of primping made Aaliyah smile, something she did often, but this seemed somehow brighter. The very idea of primping in the mirror was sort of odd to her. Probably because she tended toward glancing at herself in the mirror on her way through the bathroom. Checking to making sure she didn't have food in her teeth was about as much of anything that she felt it necessary to do when looking in the mirror. So she found herself smiling at Eleni and her need to be pretty for her. No one truly needed to be pretty for her. Then she shook her head at the whole thing. "You shouldn't have," truthfully, Eleni could have shown up in the same thing she wore when they met earlier and Aaliyah wouldn't have noticed beyond to the fact that she was wearing the same thing. "And I suppose I can understand why a woman would not need a 10x magnification mirror." Then she chuckled again, the whole thing going through her mind. "There is no reason to look at one's self so closely. It ruins the view." To dig into one's self so closely was just inviting dissatisfaction.
There certainly were few mysteries between them. Irisi had always been the one to lead, the one who was strong, the one who knew what it was that she intended to do. Yet she hadn't been the one to begin their relationship. She had allowed Adra to come to her, if only because Adra was Irisi's brother's wife. Truthfully, she had been untouchable. Except that Irisi had wanted to touch. Wanted it badly. She took the first chance that came. Aaliyah was less sure of herself, but it was nice to feel the certainty in her. The awareness of strength she wasn't quite sure where it came from.
"It has its moments, but mostly it's just an annoyance. I would rather be writing instead. However, one must work to eat. Have you considered taking something in graphic production?" Work discussions were things she understood in this life. It robbed some of the mystique from things, but it was a safe topic. "An artist can do quite well in graphics these days."
"I have thought of it from time to time." she admitted, "But all of this computer stuff seems a bit daunting, I mean, I can barely work MS Paint, I don't want to think of anything as advanced as Photoshop and all that." she was a bit of a technophobe to be sure, she liked working with her hands, she felt more connected to her art when she worked on it herself, not when she worked on it on a machine. It didn't feel right. Though she was aware of how silly it was, especially when it came to finding a job after she got out of university. Graphic design was truly the best most artists could hope for these days, though deep in her heart she hoped for something better than sitting in front of a screen all day. "I will have to take a few classes in it before I graduate, but I don't like to think of it so soon, and I know I will have to take a computer course in the summer so I don't make an utter fool out of myself." her family did not have a computer while she was growing up, her mother thought it was a portal of sin and idleness, so she wasn't exactly computer literate.
But talking about work was hardly something enjoyable, especially when there were probably bigger questions between them. She tried to shift gears, "There is so much I feel I know about you and yet I begin to feel that I know so little. I mean, working as you do and as you said, to put food on the table, you clearly aren't the Pharaoh's sister any longer, but you have that same smile that does things to me. You're still more practical than I could ever be and a great deal more senseable as well." she reached across the table and gently caressed her hand with the sides of her fingers. "I want to know everything again."
"Know everything," the change in the conversation made her wonder. Enough to make her almost sit back and look up at the ceiling again, waiting for the answer to come down to her from heaven. "Come home with me, I'll introduce you to Archie," her raven was probably beginning to wonder if his keeper had gone totally mad with this constant lateness. "He's my pet," she explained because his name was undeniably male and to say such a thing made it appear as if she were staying with someone. "A raven. He adopted me and I adopted him." Her bird made her happy. "Archimedes," an ancient name. "The first." The whole thing made her all that much more amused. "I can make you dinner." Irisi of old hadn't known the first thing about cooking. Aaliyah could totally make wonderful things. As long as it was in her own kitchen. Working in a restaurant had never been something she considered.
"Its a trip on a subway, but the subway station isn't far from here and where we get off isn't far from my apartment. So long as I won't be keeping you from something this evening?"
She beamed at Aaliyah, "Even if I did have something, there is nothing more important than you and I together right now." which was her point of view about the whole subject. Everything else could wait, the world would turn without them, so she saw no point in holding themselves back for the sake of the world. Selfish perhaps, but she had spent well over two thousand years away from the one woman she loved more than anything else in the world, it was time that she start enjoying existence once again. She was tempted to tease and flirt with her, but she supposed she could save that for a moment as she found she had one question pressing on her mind. "Uh, Archimedes? That's after Merlin's owl isn't it?" though the idea of her having a not so common pet did not surprise her, Irisi had been the sort in her last life, it only made sense that she was still the sort now.
And why she wanted to know, she wasn't sure, but there was something so wonderful about knowing that they had read the same books at one time. It may have been a silly thing, as they probably read a lot of the same books, but she was a sentimental soul. "I, uh, is there anything you wanted to get while we were here, I'm ready to go if you are." she was doing her best to contain her excitement. She didn't normally go home with her date during the first date, she didn't see herself as being all that easy, but they knew each other in a way that didn't make any rational sense. And of course, she did not imagine anything physical going on between them, but she was thrilled at the possibility of spending more time together alone.
So much as she liked the coffee shop, the place wasn't that great. Better than the coffee actually offered in the building, but not by much. She came down more out of need to get away from the office itself. The soul sucking evil of the company she worked for. It wasn't a directed evil, just the kind of amorphous pointless evil of something created without a reason. The company wasn't really doing anything that she knew of. Hence why she felt no point to it and why she found it hard to care about it, devote herself to it, and feel any passion for it. Either way, there was no reason to linger. Besides, it didn't seem as if the rain was going to let up any time soon. As unfortunately expected really. It always rained on her. Always. Penance maybe or just a constant unfortunate coincidence. She didn't truly care anymore. It wasn't important. She was with someone and whether the rain wanted to come down or not.
"I found myself in love with the name and it seemed as if it fit him," she moved to get up from the table offering Eleni her hand. "He hopped off my fire escape and in my window. Then proceeded to make himself right at home."
The occurrence had been terribly odd then. She remembered sitting there looking at the bird staring at her from across her living room and wondering if perhaps somehow the world had, utterly without warning, slipped off its axis. Birds, especially wild birds, were not meant to just come and take over the lives of humans. Yet that was exactly what Archimedes did. After her landlord found out a bird was living in her apartment, she told Aaliyah in order to keep him, he had to (in no uncertain terms) live in a cage. Archie had looked at the large cage with suspicious eyes. Then he hopped in and proceeded to make himself quite comfortable by moving the things around. After that, the two of them settled into a routine. He would be in the cage so long as she was not home. When she was home, he was allowed out to do as he wished. Typically, he hopped around or flew from room to room following her as she went about things. Occasionally, he would hop out onto the fire escape and fly away only to return later. Generally, those 'escapes' included his return with some sparkly object that he dropped in her living room rather like a cat would bring back a dead mouse. Coins, fake rings, bits of aluminum foil....the things catching his eye. Aaliyah thanked him for those offerings and went about her business. He had a small box of articles in the living room. Maybe one day he would come back with something more expensive.
"He likes to occasionally criticize, but I think it's little more than love."
She slid her coat back on and picked up her umbrella, giving Aaliyah her hand and getting her feet. She listened to her talk about her bird as they headed out the door, most birds freaked her out a little, but ravens never seemed to bother her, and from the way she talked he sounded pretty tame. She didn't anticipate any troubles popping up from the bird's presence, but for the time being she didn't say anything as she did not want to jinx things. "I'm sure it's nice having him around though, I mean, if I was living alone I'd need some other living thing near me. I used to look after the alley cats back in Patras, I couldn't take any of them with me when I came here, but my host family has a sweet little cat who has been cuddling up to me the past few days."
When they reached the door she opened it for her and offered her the umbrella as she was taller, though it might have been amusing to see her bent over to fit under it. "Even more so since I met up with you again." she could not rightly say that she and only met her recently as they had shared a past life, but it was still an odd thing to admit aloud considering that the average person did not believe in past lives, and those that did were probably told that they had been Cleopatra or George Washington in their own past life by some psychic hoping for more money. She wrapped her arm around Aaliyah's as they walked together under that umbrella, "Cats have always liked me, I feel like I should know why but I can't remember." there were still portions of her past life that she did not remember and still images were coming to her mind. No cats yet, but she was sure they would come up eventually.
"So you cook now?" she smiled up at the taller woman, "Though I'm sure you did not need to back then, neither did I really, though I still can't. The stuff I am able to usually looks good but most of the time it doesn't taste so great. I like to justify it as I am an artist and cooking isn't my thing. Though isn't that how Hitler started? He discovered he couldn't cook all that vegetarian food properly and decided he needed to take over the world to compensate."
Aaliyah took the umbrella and held it, listening to Eleni talk and just enjoying the sound of her voice. Archimedes was certainly a decent companion. He had his own ideas about things, which he tended to share whenever possible but they got along well. He liked to pick at the fruit left out on the table when he was loose. It was good to hear her speak, even if her voice was slightly different than she remembered. The soft feeling of her arm around her was comforting. Had they always had this difference in height? She couldn't remember if they had stood eye to eye or not. It didn't truly matter if they had because now Aaliyah was tall enough to put her chin in Eleni's hair. It made things feel a little odd, but that wasn't what mattered. Trying to separate the sensations of now and then was really hard. After all, they kept wanting to mash down on top of each other. The sound of the rain drumming on the umbrella reminded her of hoof beats, running horses, the chariot races. They had watched the chariot races together, well, not together, a few feet apart. Adra had sat at her husband's side on the throne of the Queen. Irisi had been below her, still in a place of honor as the Pharaoh's sister, but not as high. Yet they had lounged together and watched the spectacle as fans were used to cool them from the heat.
The mention of Hitler got her attention. "I'm sorry, what?" She'd been leading them both in the direction of the subway, her mind full of a hot day in ancient years, only barely hearing the things that Eleni said to her. The mention of Hitler broke that revelry like a pane of sugar-water glass. "I apologize, I got lost in a thought." She then pressed a kiss to Eleni's hair in apology for her lack of attention. "One that had absolutely nothing to do with Hitler, now how did we come to him again?"