To Begin Again

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Author's Notes:

Onuris and Subira are actual Egyptian names, chosen for their meanings.  
Onuris = brings back the distant one
Subira = patient

This is my first serious Mummy fanfic, but I've written tons of non-Mummy stuff before this.  Enjoy!
Rated PG
 Written 5/20/01 by Katie Sullivan

Imhotep, Anck-su-Namun, et al, are (c) Universal and are used as a fan tribute only with no claim to copyright.

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Luxor, Egypt – 18 August 2000 A.D.

Subira looked around the marketplace, licking a snow cone and trying not to look like a tourist. It wasn’t much of a stretch, since she was Egyptian herself. And she didn’t feel like a tourist. She had, when she left home and boarded the ship in Alexandria, and during the long boat ride up the Nile. She had enjoyed the scenery, taking pictures left and right like a fool, looking and feeling every inch the tourist. There was no reason for this trend not to continue…yet it didn’t. Now that she was here in Luxor, she felt oddly at home.

And this didn’t surprise her, although she didn’t know why. Throughout her life she had been plagued by dreams of Luxor—no, she corrected herself, of Thebes, as this city had been called in ancient times. That was the time period in which her dreams always took place. Always. Many people occasionally have a dream set in a different time or place, but for Subira there were no exceptions. Every single one of her dreams—at least, the ones she could remember upon waking—took place in ancient Thebes. But why?

She had never been there before. For years she had pestered her parents with questions, hoping for some clue to explain it. Had her mother visited Luxor when she was pregnant with Subira? No. Were they absolutely certain she had never been there, even as an infant? No, they insisted. They usually ended up yelling at her, as they often did, to shut up and stop asking such stupid questions.

So she did, but she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She felt some strange connection to this place. Whenever she heard Luxor mentioned or saw a picture of the ancient temples there, a disconcerting feeling of déjà vu washed over her along with a feeling she could only call homesickness. Homesickness for a place she had never been. It was absurd.

But here she was, standing at the edge of a bazaar in Luxor, watching the throngs of people and feeling as if, for the first time in her twenty-three years, she was home. It was frightening and thrilling at the same time. She slowly worked her way around the perimeter of the marketplace, searching high and low for something—she didn’t know what—that might explain what she was feeling.

Life here was much the same as it had always been. People farmed and crafted goods with their own hands, then loaded up their donkeys and camels and headed for the bazaar to redistribute the wealth of the Nile. Children chattered and played, animals grunted and growled, vendors yelled offers to anyone who would listen, and men engaged in heated arguments over prices just for the sheer thrill of the bargain.

The sun glared down with equatorial fervor, quickly melting the rest of Subira’s snow cone. She tossed the wet cardboard cone in a garbage bin, disturbing the cloud of flies dining on the previous leavings.

This wasn’t the place she was looking for, either, but it was close. So close the hairs at the nape of her neck seemed to be standing up like little cobras, searching for prey.

She turned around and saw it. The sandy walls of an archaeological site, the ruin of some temple or palace, loomed over a row of palm trees beyond the marketplace. Subira staggered briefly, jarred by an overwhelming spiritual rush pulsing through her body. That was it. She knew with absolute certainty. That was what she had come to see.

Her black eyes were riveted on the distant ruin as she elbowed her way through the crowd. She was probably shoving people out of the way and stepping on toes, but she wasn’t aware of it. All she could see was that building. It seemed to flicker as if in a strobe light, appearing both as a ruin and as it had looked in its heyday.

She finally broke free from the crowd on the other side of the bazaar, and stopped, suddenly afraid to come any closer. Her vision cleared, and the temple was once again a mere ruin. What was going on? How could she possibly know this place? She had always been fascinated by the city and its history; she had surely seen pictures of this temple before. But this wasn’t the passing familiarity of someone recognizing a well-known landmark. She knew this place. She knew it as well as her tiny apartment back in Alexandria. The way the sun fell on the sandstone…the slope of the path leading inside…those hieroglyphics on that column....

"Here be worshipped and praised the great god of the afterworld, Osiris."

She blinked. Since when could she read hieroglyphics? Since now, apparently. The symbols’ meaning just came to her, as naturally as the Arabic squiggles she normally read.

Subira began to sweat, but not because of the baking sun. What was happening to her?

Her feet began to move. She hadn’t told them to, that she recalled. They just did. These sure, confident strides weren’t like her…and yet they felt natural and liberating, too.

Soon she was inside the temple, wandering in a daze through the columns and chambers. Most were empty, now, but she found herself walking around certain areas as if there were furniture. There used to be a divan there, a bench there, and the statues of Osiris, Isis and Horus there, outside the room containing the main altar…

How did she know all this? Why did this place look like the one in her dreams? Why had it been so new in her dreams, the paint still bright, the air full of life? Why was it so empty and lifeless now?

No, not lifeless. Footsteps were approaching from behind. She was staring at the stretch of wall where there should have been an elaborate tile mural depicting the resurrection of Osiris, and at first she didn’t even realize the noise was footsteps. She turned just as the creator of the sound reached her side, and stared. She seemed to be doing a lot of that, lately, but it seemed like the thing to do. So she stared.

She stared at the man standing before her, dressed in a simple black robe. Sunlight glistened on his shaved head, and his eyes—

She knew him. She didn’t know how. It didn’t make sense, but then nothing about this journey had. But she knew him, and she had missed him. How could she miss someone she just met? But, no. She hadn’t just met him, she had known him forever and a day! Hadn’t she?

"The next tour isn’t until three o’clock, miss," the man said. "If you’ll just come with me, I’ll show you where to queue."

And his voice. She knew his voice, too. How? Who? What? When? Where? Why?

It was all too much. The heat, the dizzying sensation of déjà vu, the juxtaposition of dreams and reality… Her head spun like a dust devil in a sandstorm, and blackness descended.

The last time Subira fainted was when the old lady fell in the crosswalk. Subira saw her, hobbling toward the intersection, and considered helping her across the street like a good young lady, but decided not to bother. Let the old crone cross the street on her own. If she couldn’t do that simple task then she shouldn’t be out walking, anyway. Subira had returned her attention to the other end of the street, where her bus should soon appear. Then someone shouted, tires screeched, and, out of the corner of her eye she saw the old lady falter and trip, set off balance by a streak of oil on the pavement. The ambulance arrived before her bus did, and she saw the poor woman carted off with a broken something or other. She had felt so guilty—irrationally guilty. Yes, she should have been the Good Samaritan and helped her cross the street, but she hadn’t. She had no way of knowing what would happen. It could have happened to anyone. Yet she felt as if she had personally shoved the old woman into the path of an oncoming truck. The guilt was overwhelming, and Subira had fainted. It wasn’t the first time she had felt an irrationally intense guilt. She always felt like she owed someone a major apology…but she didn’t know whom.

The darkness began to lift. Soft sand caressed her back, more comfortable than the finest mattress. Large hands held her shoulders, and someone was speaking to her. Whomever it was sounded upset. And masculine. And familiar.

Subira slowly forced her eyes open. A man was crouched over her, asking her if she was all right. She realized she had fainted.

Still disoriented and half-conscious, she looked up into his eyes. A smile sprang to her lips, and without thinking, a name followed. "Imhotep."

He froze, staring at her with the same befuddled expression she had been displaying for the last half hour. "Wh-what did you call me?"

Slightly more awake now, she pushed herself up on her elbows and frowned slightly in confusion. "I…I don’t know. Something just came over me. Things like that have been happening to me lately. I don’t know why."

"You called me Imhotep."

"Yes…I guess I did. That’s not your name…is it?"

"My name is Onuris."

"Oh." She sat up the rest of the way, putting a hand to her forehead in an attempt to make her brains stop swirling around.

He studied her features carefully. "But that name…it sounds so familiar. You’re so familiar. Do I…know you?"

She creased her brow in thought as he helped her stand up. "Ever been to Alexandria?"

"No."

"Then we can’t have met, because I’ve never been out of Alexandria until this week, but…I swear I know you. What did you say your name was, again?"

"Onuris." He didn’t sound very certain. "And yours?"

"Mine? Oh, my name. Subira?" She wasn’t certain, either. It didn’t sound right. But it was her name, for heaven’s sake! What more basic fact about oneself is there?

He nodded slowly.

"I’m sorry," she blurted out.

"For what?"

"I…don’t know. I just…I’m sorry. I get these feelings sometimes, like I need to apologize to someone." She realized that for the first time her apology felt like it was reaching the right ears. "I’m sorry," she said again, almost to herself.

He looked shaken. "Um…Subira, was it?"

"Uh…yes." That’s what it said on her driver’s license, at least.

"I can’t help feeling that I know you from somewhere. You’re sure you’ve never been here?"

"Yes. No. I mean, I don’t think so. But I…this all seems so familiar. Can we go someplace and talk? Your chambers?"

"My…chambers?"

Why had she said that? "I mean…do you live around here?"

"I’m the curator."

"This is the temple of Osiris," she said softly.

"Yes. We can go to my office. Can you walk?"

She realized she had been clinging to a stone column for support, and stepped backward. "Yes, yes, I’m fine." Without thinking, she began walking toward the end of the corridor, then stopped in front of a heavy wooden door. It didn’t seem quite right, either, like it shouldn’t be here. The one in her dreams was a different kind of wood, with different trim.

"How did you know this was my office?" he asked, his eyes wide.

She shook her head, unable to answer.

He led her inside, and she relaxed a little. The furniture was in all the right places, again. The chairs and tables were all arranged as they had been—well, before. The only thing substantially different was a modern desk where the bed should have been. The bed… Why was she blushing now?

"These were the high priest’s chambers during the Old Kingdom."

It was Subira who said it, not Onuris.

"Yes," he said, unable to muster more than a whisper. "How did you know that? Who are you?"

"I don’t know. I just…I’m scared." Instinctively, she fell into his embrace for comfort. And, instinctively, he hugged her back. "This is all so strange!" He led her to a couch—an antique, certainly, but not dating back more than a century or two. They sat, and she poured it all out: her dreams, her visions, the overwhelming need to be here, in Thebes (not "Luxor") and to apologize to someone. To find someone. To find herself.

Onuris nodded periodically, looking pale but believing. This encouraged Subira, who was used to her stories being met with skepticism and scorn.

"…and then I got here, and it all just clicked into place, and you… I know you, but I don’t know how. I know all kinds of things I shouldn’t know…I have no reason to know. I can’t read hieroglyphics, but I can. I don’t know my way around this temple, but I do. I don’t know you, but I do. And I’m so confused. I don’t even know who I am!" She leaned into his embrace again and wept.

"Listen, Ah—" It wasn’t a hesitation, but a hastily aborted word. "Subira," he corrected himself. "You don’t need to be afraid. I know exactly what you’re talking about."

"Y-you do?" she sniffled, accepting a Kleenex from the box on his desk.

"Yes. You see…I have the same sort of dreams. I was born here in Luxor, but whenever I close my eyes I see it as Thebes of long ago. I’ve been drawn to this temple—obsessed with it, really, since I was a child. My first job was selling tickets for the tour here, and I’ve never worked anywhere else. I know this place. Not from being here now, but from some…memory." His eyes were haunted, distant and confused.

She put a hand on his strong arm, and a tremor ran through both of them like an electric current.

He gazed at some point halfway between the wall and himself. "I can see this whole place as it was then. Not just the body of the temple, but every little detail."

"My body is no longer his temple," she murmured, gazing inward.

"What did you say?"

"I…" She shrugged.

He continued. "And I know you, too. I don’t know how, either, but I do. And that name you called me…"

"Imhotep," they said in unison.

"In my dreams of those ancient days…that’s what people call me. I see myself here, in this temple, as it was during the Old Kingdom. I see the statues, the ornate decorations, the offerings…

"Priests of Osiris…their shaven bodies painted gold," she said in a hushed voice.

"And the palace of the Pharaoh…"

"The Med-Jai…robed in black, their cheeks and foreheads tattooed," he whispered, staring at her as if she were a ghost.

"Princess Nefertiri, dressed all in gold—"

"—in battle with you before the Pharaoh’s throne," he finished.

"Pharaoh Seti," she murmured, her thin eyebrows dropping into a frown.

"The lascivious old bastard," he growled in sudden fury.

"Lecherous tyrant, seeking only to possess, never to share."

"Never loving, only taking!"

"But you—" She stopped, tracing the line of his jaw with her finger. "You."

"You," he echoed.

"It’s you." She held her breath a moment, and it all came rushing back. She knew who she was. She knew where she was. She knew who he was. She knew what they had been. She knew what they had done. She saw what they could be. She remembered everything.

Trembling, she whispered his true name. "Imhotep."

"Anck-su-Namun," he breathed.

"I remember."

He just stared, his mind reeling with the sudden memories.

"I remember everything. "I am Anck-su-Namun. You are Imhotep." She stood up and began pointing around the room in random directions, rambling a list of unlocked recollections. "Seti… Nefertiri… The Med-Jai… The Hom-Dai… The Book of the Dead… Hamunaptra… O’Connell… Cairo… London… Ahm Shere… The Scorpion King… The abyss… You… Me… And I… Oh my gods."

She gaped in horror, stumbling backwards into the corner of his desk. He just stared, his handsome face expressionless. She saw it in his eyes, though. He remembered, too.

"I… What did I…? Oh, my love-- That’s it! That’s why I’ve been feeling guilty my entire life…this life, this time! Because I didn’t…I wouldn’t…" She fell to her knees with a strangled sob. "Oh, Imhotep, I’m sorry! That’s what I’ve been needing to say, my entire life, this life! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m…" Tears closed her throat, and she curled into herself, unable to face him.

"Anck-su-Namun," he said simply, his voice still devoid of emotion.

"I don’t know what-- I just-- It was-- I couldn’t-- I was-- I’m sorry!" she sobbed.

"You… It is you. My Anck-su-Namun." He sounded more awed than angry, but still she wept. Then he was silent.

Through her tears, she-who-was-Subira stammered "I remember" and "I’m sorry" and "Imhotep." She kept her forehead pressed to the dusty carpet. Anything but look at him.

Finally, she heard him move. She expected a blow from his fist, or the sickeningly familiar invasion of a cold blade. She pulled herself into a tighter ball, willing herself to implode and disappear.

"Anck-su-Namun," he said again. His voice was even. Soft. Sad, but not angry. A hand carefully came to rest of her back. "Look at me."

She moaned. Anything but that.

Firmly but gently, he lifted her head to face him. She forced herself to meet his gaze, his suddenly familiar features blurred by her tears. "I’m sorry, Imhotep, I never meant—"

He put a single finger to her lips. "Ssh."

She was shaking, feeling ready to faint again.

"I forgive you."

Her jaw worked convulsively, forming no words.

"I forgive you," he said again. "And I love you."

"Y-y-you can’t," she said shaking her head. "After everything you did for me, defying the gods, killing Pharaoh, enduring the Hom-Dai, battling the forces of Anubis… Then when you needed me, I ran. I left you there to…to d-d—"

"Ssh," he said again, soothingly.

"I don’t know what came over me. I wanted to save you, to help you, but I just…I couldn’t! My feet wouldn’t move; I couldn’t breathe. And when I finally was able to move, I ran! Oh, gods…" She twisted away from him, again unable to look him in the eye.

"Yes," he said calmly. "And even after enduring the agony of the Hom-Dai, I have never felt such pain and despair."

A fresh sob ripped from her chest.

"But I forgive you." An insistent hand reached out to make her face him again. "Anck-su-Namun, I told you once I would love you forever, no matter what happened. I meant that. You hurt me. I did everything a mortal could do for you, then pushed my powers far beyond. I endured things no one had ever endured, and hopefully never will again. And you weren’t willing to do the same for me. But I forgive you, because I love you. I always have, and I always will."

"But—"

"Ssh. I’ve always known my love for you was stronger than your love for me. All you did was prove it. It’s all right."

"But I do love you! I’m a coward, and an ungrateful idiot, but I love you! I—" The tears came again, but this time she went limp in his arms instead of on the floor. "Imhotep."

"Anck-su-Namun," he sighed, tightly enveloping her in his strong arms.

 

And so they were together again, at last. In this incarnation, Imhotep had none of his telekinetic powers. He had to use a car or a camel like normal people instead of traveling in an instant sand vortex. If he needed to heal himself he had to rely on aspirin and Band-Aids rather than stealing life force from an unlucky passer-by. Anck-su-Namun had only a trace of her combat ability intact—just enough to hip-check a rival away from the shortest line at the check-out counter.

But none of it mattered. They had tried the "take over the world" route, and it had brought them nothing but failure and misery. So they returned to their original goal, to simply be together forever. And since they were now relatively harmless, the Med-Jai were not even aware of their reincarnation.

It was not a glamorous existence, perhaps even an ironic one. Archaeologists and researchers had been their worst enemies in their two most recent crucibles. Now they followed in their adversaries’ footsteps, doing their part to make sure the world never forgot the grandeur that Egypt has once possessed.

They only ran afoul of the law once. Both were arrested and made to pay a stiff fine after sneaking into a certain museum for the sole purpose of spitting on Seti I’s mummy. No one believed them when they tried to explain their real motivation, of course. So they paid the fine and went on their way, snickering. Mummification might indeed keep the essence of a Pharaoh alive long after his earthly death, but Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun were still very much alive in every way, over 3,000 years later. And they were enjoying it far more than Seti I seemed to be.

One glorious summer morning a few years later, Anck-su-Namun became a mummy. She and Imhotep named their tiny princess Jendayi, meaning "thankful." Which is exactly what they were, and grew more so with each passing day, for finally being allowed to live together in peace. Even, amazingly, happily ever after.

 

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