Blue Bottled Belly Dancers and other fine myths
I was having another cup of strong, thick, Turkish coffee, when I realized Heero was eating too. I watched him over the edge of the thin china cup. He was delicately picking slices of fruit from a bowl; he looked like he was enjoying tasting each kind. I had thought he wouldnít eat, though he had never actually said so. Did this mean he slept as well? Was he more human then Iíd first realized? "Just what are you?"
He glanced up, meeting my eyes. "A Djinni."
"Yes, but what exactly is a Djinni?"
"A creature of nature, of the desert. Once we did not have souls... " He broke off and looked distant, then idly picked up a cup of coffee that appeared on the table, and sipped it with a thoughtful expression.
If I truly didnít know better, I would have said he was being coy. But I knew better, I had to. I had been remembering vague scraps and facts about the Djinn ever since the night before, piece by piece putting a few things together. With them, it was always an eye for an eye; it was how they treated you. If you were nice, so were they. The foul tricks were played on the ones that truly deserved it. So the question was, how would this Djinni judge my actions? I looked up from my scrutiny of the tablecloth and noticed he was watching me again. "Youíre staying until I make all my wishes, right? You canít leave me until then." He nodded, and I could tell, that now he was wondering what I was thinking.
The table disappeared and I nearly set my cup down on empty air. I glanced up at him in surprise, and found myself sitting on the bed, coffee cup still in hand.
"Could you at least warn me when youíre going to do that?" It was a shock to my system that I didnít know how many more times I could take. It wasnít that I minded being moved around like a rag doll, but a warning would have been nice. It came to me as I sat there, cup resting on my thigh, that I didnít know what I was doing anymore.
When I had arrived in Istanbul Iíd had a plan, but all of my plans seemed to have gone out the window with the opening of Heeroís bottle. I only had two weeks here, and yet all I wanted to do was stay in the hotel and find out more about my Djinni. It was a dilemma. Explore the city, or explore the Djinni. And I wondered if there was a way to do both.
"You can create things out of thin air." I said finally, stating it as a fact. "Can you also create clothing?" I held up a hand, fearing I might find myself wearing something I hadnít been wearing moments before. "What I mean is, can you put something on thatís a bit less... " I gestured at his nearly see-through pants, which proceeded to change before my eyes into something infinitely less see-through. "Much better, how about a shirt?" His chest became covered in a tight black t-shirt that tucked itself into the khaki pants. "Shoes?" I looked at his feet to find he was already wearing a pair of sandals. Sandals? Well, I gave a mental shrug, whatever he was comfortable in.
Now there was only one problem left. No one I had ever seen had cobalt blue eyes like his, it was simply a color that did not exist in nature, or even in a contact. It was a cobalt blue to match a Vicks vapor rub jar, a blue that shimmered with an added edge of light.
"Do you know what sunglasses are?" And a pair of tiny oval lenses covered his eyes, though the strange glasses looked a century too old. I went to my backpack and dug out my own, holding them up for him to see. "Maybe some that look a little more like this?" He nodded, and the classic glasses changed slightly, became more Lennon-esque in style. I gave him a once over from head to toe. He looked about as human as he ever would. Though he still seemed to have a presence larger than his actual body. I shrugged; maybe it would keep the crowds away.
"Thatíll have to do, now for my own clothing." I pulled out a t-shirt and jeans for the day. It took until I was about halfway to the bathroom to change, before I noticed I was holding my shorts and t-shirt, and wearing the clothes I had been holding moments beforehand. This was definitely going to take some getting used to.
Heero was strangely silent as we walked among the stalls and people of the grand bazaar. It didnít seem to hold the same excitement it had held for me before. Certainly, nothing about Istanbul had changed. It was what I had felt for the place that had shifted. After all, what was a mere exotic location, when I had Heero?
The sun was setting too quickly for my tastes, though I had in fact spent most of the day in bed. The day still seemed to have gone too fast. I turned my back on yet another stall selling rare Turkish items, and tugged Heeroís hand, pulling him back towards the hotel with me. I felt like I needed a shower and some relaxing. It was the Djinni; he made me nervous and excited all at once, unable to deal with things as I normally did. There was a solution, I knew there had to be, but what was it?
The hotel loomed before me and I stopped, still holding his hand in mine. I looked up at the windows, then back down at the street for a moment. I looked over and met Heeroís eyes through the dark glasses he still wore. "Tell me," I tugged him closer, until a few inches separated our faces in the gathering dusk. "When was the last time you went out to eat?"
I found us a restaurant overlooking the Bosphorous; the view over the darkened water was intense with its array of lights. Then I made the mistake of ordering a few bottles of wine with dinner. I donít think it dulled the flavors in any way, but it did succeed in making me light headed for the rest of the evening. The first thing I ordered after the wine was a few mezes, or appetizers. In our case, it turned out to be stuffed vine leaves, pita with hummus and black olive spread, and some little pastries stuffed with various things.
Heero seemed to be enjoying the food thoroughly, and it made me wonder once again, exactly how much I might have misjudged him. It also made me question whether he had misjudged me in the same way. Iíd been looking at him as a Djinni, not as a man. And perhaps heíd been seeing me as a mere human. "Tell me more about your life." I asked over the noise of the restaurant.
There was live entertainment going on during our meal, music and singing that rivaled any form of conversation. People seemed to be tipping the singer to stop singing. I pulled out a few bills just in case, and then turned my attention back towards Heero.
"What is it you want to know about it? Do you want to hear about my many masters? The years spent in the bottle?" He eyed one of the stuffed pastries -I still couldnít be sure what was in them- then ate one, his eyes on my face.
"Right, well, I guess I just want to know more about you. I mean whatís inside your bottle? Iíve been dying to know." I went for another sip of wine. He didnít attack the food; it was more like he wooed it. He wasnít shoveling it in; it was hard to describe what exactly he was doing. It was like he hadnít eaten in a long time, but still found he wasnít hungry, and yet wanted to taste everything despite not being hungry.
"The bottle." He sneered, "the bottle is empty, even when I am in it." He leaned across the table and stared at me. "There is a reason I refer to it as oblivion. There is nothing inside that thing but death. When I am in there, I am dead. That is what is in the bottle." He ground out the last two words between clenched teeth.
This explained a few things, ok, it explained almost everything. "No wonder." I said softly, and leant back, downing the rest of my glass. What a hell he must live in. But not even the release a hell might give, just never ending oblivion and life. In some ways, it must have felt like reincarnation would; only you never changed, but everything else did. "Anythingís better than that huh?"
"What could be worse then death?"
"But how? Itís not like youíre human. Do you feel pain? When youíre cut, do you bleed? There must be some sort of reason you constantly try to separate your existence from mine by calling me human, as if youíre different or better then I am."
"I bleed, I feel pain, emotions. The only difference I suppose, is that everything feels more distant. Itís as if I feel things through a wall."
I poured him a glass of wine and handed it to him, then poured another for myself. "Whatís the point then? If you canít ever feel anything fully?"
He leaned back across the table, glass in one hand. "To try and feel it. I will never know when the wall might fall and I can feel everything. So I must try all the time, itís like a quest, an agenda, a mission I must deal with. The prize is completely feeling everything."
"But how?" It was like we were sharing some great secret. Nestled together at the table, speaking in whispers across it. "Have you ever managed to feel without your Ďwallí before?"
"Oh yes, every few centuries. Itís as if I am being teased by the cosmos. Given a taste," He paused and carefully chose another pastry. "But never given the whole meal." He popped the little pastry into his mouth and chewed judiciously for a moment. "These are lamb by the way."
"Uh, thanks. I did wonder what they were." I picked up another vine leaf wrapped bundle. "I think these are just rice and spice. So in all of this quest or mission of yours, hasnít anyone ever wanted to release you? Or help you out somehow?"
I blinked at him and nibbled. "Why not? You donít seem so bad. Iím sure someone must have wanted you for their own at some point."
"They wanted me, but not for myself. They wanted me for sex, or a weapon, a tool merely for using. No one has ever wanted me for anything else."
For someone who proclaimed to feel things through a barrier, he sure did know how to look sad. If he did feel things only halfway, I could only imagine how much he was truly capable of feeling. "I like you."
He laughed. Outright threw his head back, and laughed at me. Tears streamed from his eyes he laughed so hard, and a few of the other patrons paused in their eating to watch us.
"I mean it!" I said earnestly, trying to stop that mirthless laughter.
"Y-you may mean it, but d-do you really?" He managed to gasp out.
I opened my mouth to respond that of course I did, when I stopped myself and thought over what heíd just asked. I had meant it, but did I like him because of what he could do for me? Or did I like him for himself? And was part of that liking because of his powers? There were just too many unanswerable questions. "I think I like you, because you are who you are."
Heíd calmed down until only a few soft chuckles escaped, though his eyes over the sunglasses, seemed to sparkle with a hidden laughter. "Do you not want fame, fortune, and love? Do you not want what every human wants? Do you try and tell me that you are so different from the rest of the human race?"
"I have money, and I have fame, as for love, Iíll have that whenever it comes along. So, I donít need what everyone else does, because Iíve already gone out and earned it for myself."
"Well, you are a more rare breed perhaps. So what do you wish for then?" He watched me over the rim of his wineglass, his lips still twitching.
"I wish... hey, donít try and trick me like that!" I glared at him, gesturing with a bit of pita. "That was a dirty trick, I thought you werenít going to try those on me?"
"Yes master." He nodded, that secret mirth still dancing in his eyes. "How do you have all the things that most people only dream of?"
It was an unexpected question. So far I had been the one to delve and dig, asking personal questions. One from him was something new. "I worked for them. Iím a writer."
"Of all those arts in which the wise excel, Natureís chief masterpiece is writing well." He quoted.
"Yes, I wouldnít say Iím quite that good, but it has earned me what I wanted." I shrugged and glanced at my empty wineglass in surprise. I picked up the wine bottle and shook it mournfully, it was empty too. "Itís even earned me the right to get drunk in strange lands, do you see our waiter anywhere?"