Rise of the Sun Queen
I wonder what he thought, the captain of the cargo ship that is, when we all climbed aboard.
I'm actually surprised the guy hadn't mistaken us for pirates or something. I certainly saw how his eyes widened as Lara pulled herself onto the deck, looking like she was ready to fight a war. And let me tell you, I was pretty out of it.
Unsurprising I guess. My thoughts have been all scrambled since the mountain…
But, in happier news, Lara saved my camera! I wasn't even going to ask about it, but she gave it to me as soon as we were settled in on the ship, said watching the videos I took is what kept her going on Yamatai. It's nice to know that I had been at least a little bit helpful… instead of just a useless damsel in distress.
So anyway, later that night, I was lying on my bunk, trying to fall asleep, but my thoughts kept drifting back to the ziggurat. The snow, the guards, and… and fucking Himiko.
When Lara had rescued me, the first thing I asked was: "What's going on?"
I had been so confused for a second. It had taken everything that I was to remember her name. Instead, I was stuck reliving other things, a lifetime's worth of memories that had all pressed against the edges of my mind.
But then Lara had been there, and I was myself again.
And even though I knew we were safe, on a ship en route to Japan, my thoughts kept returning to those moments, no matter how much I tried to think of other things. Cute guys? Solari. My camera? The endurance. Lara? Fucking everything.
I snorted. That last one was pretty funny out of context. Though instead of sexing her way across the island, which would really have been slumming for a girl of Lara's caliber, she'd started adding a whole different set of notches to her belt…
And there I went again, dammit.
After another twenty minutes of useless tossing and turning, I finally kissed the tattered remnants of my beauty sleep goodbye and stumbled out of my small cabin. I looked across the hall to the one I knew Lara was sleeping in for reassurance, and then started making my way down the passageway.
The Cap'n probably want me wandering around the ship, so I found the nearest staircase and made my way up to the deck instead.
Back on the Endurance I liked to lounge around on the deck. The tropical sunlight felt nice, made me feel like a big jungle cat as I planned out the next filler episode or something like that. I hoped that the familiarity would help me calm down.
But then I opened the door and I heard the wind whistling through the cargo containers that filled the deck.
I froze, halfway out of the hatch. I strongly contemplated going back inside, and turning towards the world's best sleep medicine: copious amounts of alcohol. Then I stepped forward, closing the door firmly behind me.
I shivered as the breezed plucked at my jacket. Then a huge gust of wind knocked me off balance, jerking me awkwardly to the side
God, how fucking impudent, am I right? The wind just thinking it can push me around like that? I couldn't even relax with the air all tossing about like a bunch of drunk frat boys going at it!
I huffed. "Be Still." I said. And it was so.
I let out a sigh of relief as the wind quieted. Now I could finally – wait.
Had I just?
No. There's just no way. I mean, get a grip, Sam, the wind must have stopped blowing naturally. I mean, believing that I had caused it, just because I'd almost been possessed by a Japanese mummy with weather controlling abilities is childish and naïve, right?
Not to mention, actually definitely to mention, that I was Sam Nishimura, and that the attempted possession was very much not a successful possession, and Samantha N. can't control the weather! That would be crazy.
I wasn't Himiko. I wasn't! I was me damn it!
Wrapping my arms around myself. I sank down to the cold metal of the deck. I felt it pressing uncomfortably against my knees. Mine, and nobody else's.
"My name is Sam Nishimura." I whispered. "My name is Sam Nishimura. My name is Sam Nishimura."
The wind around me started to pick up again, and I flinched.
And it quieted.
I sobbed. Once. I swear I'm not usually this quick to tears.
Just- just get it together, Sam! Okay? Calm down, calm. Deep breaths. Focus, just like Lara always said to when I needed to finish a project or study for a test. Focus.
What would Lara do?
I suddenly remembered how Lara had stabbed Himiko with a flaming stake, driving it brutally into the queen's ribs to interrupt the ritual.
Normally, that would have calmed me down some. Zombie face was dead. Lara had killed her. I remembered it.
Except that I kinda sorta remembered it like I was the one being stabbed in the chest.
What had it felt like right after Lara had ended the ritual? A lifetime of memories…
Slowly I staggered back to my feet, forcing myself to be logical about this. Well, as logical as I could be when an ancient magical body-snatching queen was involved. I giggled hysterically at the thought.
Hopefully that was a good sign? Okay, okay, serious time.
Given that I wasn't doing my best reenactment of 'The Exorcism' right now, Lara had to have disrupted the ritual right?
I didn't have the urge to build a structurally unstable palace at the top of the highest sky scrapper in Tokyo, or sacrifice my children in some bizarre life extending sacrament. What I did have was an overwhelming desire for a three day long spa retreat, and a new pair of shoes.
It was just like that Descartes guy said: I think, therefore I'm Sam.
As for the rest… should I test it? Did I want to?
Okay, all the baggage they came with aside, weather controlling powers would be pretty cool right? And really, was it all that bad if I got something other than a sprained ankle and a new appreciation for my bestie from Yamatai? I didn't think so.
I looked up. Just... a quick test I decided. Slowly I raised my hands up over my head, palms facing the sky, and the wind began to blow again.
I let the air unravel around me, laughing breathlessly as it ruffled my hair and tugged at my clothes like an overeager puppy. I admit, I played with it, always wanted a dog as a kid, not that Daddy would have ever gone for it.
I let the wind spool out only to pull it back again, I tossed my jacket into the sky and had the wind fetch it back, hell I even practiced the windblown hairstyle until I had it down to an art. Easy, breezy, beautiful. Not that I would ever spring for their products, but hey, with my new skills I'd be a shoe in for a model if I ever got tired of living off Daddy's credit cards.
I felt… lighter, as I released my hold on the wind, letting it return to normal. Lighter and happier than I'd felt since we were shipwrecked on Yamatai. The weight of it all was still there, lingering in the background, and as a film major I knew enough about the stages of grief to know that I wasn't 'better' yet. But for now, I felt calm, almost happy.
All I had to do was keep myself distracted like this until we made it back to civilization. And then I could break down within the safe confines of a hospital, with a dozen nurses (hopefully hunky male ones) waiting on me hand and foot along with enough antibiotics to kill anything I'd picked up from my time with the fucking Solari.
I was just starting to theorize how to ensure I ended up in the same room as Laura when I yawned. Oh god, I think I felt my jaw creak like Lara's bow.
Sleep sounded really wonderful right about now. Who new magic was such a great insomnia killer?
Dedicatedly holding onto my good mood, I opened the ship's hatch and made my way back below decks. Finding my way back to my cabin, I wasted no time tossing myself onto the bed. Now that my whole anxiety mess was sorted out, I could finally catch some well-deserved sleep.
Hopefully without that creep Whitman abducting me this time around.
"Gah!" I bolted upright, hands clutching at my chest. "L-Lara?" I reached out blindly, groping for something, either my friend's hand or the light switch, I don't know.
"Here, let me." Lara said. Yep, definitely Lara. I'd know that sexy British accent anywhere.
She flicked on the lights and I winced, squinting for a moment before my eyesight adjusted. Looking around, I was treated to the sight of Lara leaning comfortably against the wall.
"Went for a walk?" She asked slowly.
I nodded. "Uh, yeah. Couldn't sleep." I said. "Went up to the deck to blow off some steam. You?"
After a moment, Lara shrugged, head lolling as she looked around the room. She hummed vaguely.
I got out of bed. "Sweetie?" I asked, moving closer to my friend. "Are you okay?" When she didn't say anything I started to get a little worried. Had she followed me onto the deck or something? That could get so bad.
"You weren't here." Lara said suddenly. "I had this dream that you were gone so I came looking and you weren't here."
I tilted my head to the side. "Yeah, I went for a little walk. But I'm here now, so it's okay right?"
Lara shook her head emphatically. "No! You can't… you can't go wandering off like that. The brothers might capture you!"
"Brothers?" What, did she mean the Solari or something? They did have this awkward habit of calling each other 'brother' all the time, like they were some fucked up extended family. But more importantly, "Lara, sweetie, are you okay?" I asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. "We're not on Yamatai anymore, no one's going trying to capture me."
Lara looked at me for a moment, those dark eyes wide. With a choked laugh she stumbled away from the door, brushing off my hand. Spinning around she put her back to the far wall, an unreadable expression on her face.
"No one leaves." I heard her whisper, hand clenched in a white knuckle grip on the handle of Roth's gun. "Get away from the door Sam." She told me. "No one leaves."
Then her eyes rolled back into her skull, and she collapsed.
"Lara!" I moved forward, sliding to the ground right next to her. "Lara, wake up!"
And then, when she refused to be roused, I did just what I always did in times like these. I called for help. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I wasn't able to do anything more.
After all, it took Yamatai for me to realize how much I hated being helpless.
"And I don't think you understand." I said in Japanese, glaring at the doctor. "I'm only entrusting her life to you because I lack any other recourse. If you think I'm letting my friend out of my sight for anything short of surgery, then you are sorely mistaken."
The man flinched lightly, before rallying. "Be that as it may, Miss Nishimura, you need to be treated for your own injuries and-"
I cut him off with a wave of my hand. Pulling back the curtains around the empty bed nearest to Lara's, I sat down on it, spreading my arms in a 'go ahead' gesture."Then treat me right here." I told him.
The doctor grumbled, god what a prick. Couldn't he see that things would be easier for everyone involved if he just did what I wanted him to? It wasn't rocket science or anything.
It wasn't like I was even that injured. All I had was a sprained ankle, which had been braced back on the ship.
The little man opened his mouth to say something else, but then a large thud drew our attention.
I glanced over just in time to see Lara stagger upright from where she had fallen on the far side of her bed. From here, all I could see was her disheveled pony tail and the back of her hospital gown.
"Sam!" She shouted. I winced as she ripped the IV out of her arm, somehow not getting tangled up in the wires. She shouted my name again, rambling almost incoherently as she staggered towards the door. "Sam! Where are you?!"
I was already on my feet, but an orderly got to Lara first. I didn't catch what the man was saying, but apparently it wasn't enough to satisfy Lara.
I started to say something, I don't know what, anything, just to calm her down for a sec. But before I could, Lara was moving.
I watched as she flipped up the IV stand, hooking the man's legs like something out of 'Xena, Warrior Princess' before yanking him clean off his feet.
I winced when I heard the meaty smack as the man hit the tiles, and again when Lara caught him in the chest with the legs of the stand, forcing him back to the ground.
"Where is she, you bastard!" She shouted. Holy shit. Now I'm not a psychologist or anything but that looks like a real clear sign of PTSD if I ever saw one.
"Lara!" I said, quickly moving to her side. Standing this close to her I could practically feel the feverish heat coming off her skin. "Lara, Sweetie, I'm here. I'm safe, Lara." I frantically waved off another orderly as she turned to look at me. The doctor was apparently content to stand in the corner, eyes wide.
Heh, he'd probably never seen an episode of 'Xena, Warrior Princess'. Well, okay, neither had I, but the island had done a pretty okay job at desensitizing me to this sort of casual violence.
Maybe I was still in shock?
"Sam?" Lara whispered. One of her hands came up and cupped my cheek, and I did my best to smile calmly, even as I reached out to tug my girl's makeshift monk spade from her grip.
"Sam, Sam I-"
"Shhhhh…" I shushed her. "It's okay, sweetie." I said, keeping my face in a smile. "We're okay. We're not in danger anymore, we're on Okinawa now, remember?"
Lara blinked dazedly. "Oki…nawa?" Her brow furrowed adorably. Of course, there was no way she could remember us arriving here. She'd been passed out for almost the entire return trip, after that first day.
But it made her pause for a second, gave me time to finish extracting the IV stand from her grip and usher her back towards the bed. All the while, I made soft cooing noise, whispering how everything was okay now, and how there was no need to worry, don't worry Lara, we're gonna be fine, okay?
Slowly, the light of comprehension returned to her eyes. "Sam." She murmured. Reaching out, she yanked me into a hug. I could feel the chorded sheel of her muscles shift as she tightened her arms around me.
"That's right." She murmured. "I did it, I saved you…"
"Yeah, yeah." I murmured fondly, returning the hug. "My hero. Now try to get some sleep okay? I promise, nothing bad will happen to us here."
Lara mumbled something that sounded like a yes, but well, she didn't seem quite ready to let go yet. But hey, that's okay, I've always been a big fan of hugs. And for all the shit she went through for me, well, I'd happily let her hug me all day long, consider me Lara's new personal hug dispenser.
If she was as messed up as she looked right now, she could use them.
It took some doing to get her back in bed. Now, I may not be able to scale a cliff with nothing but an ice axe as pieces of a collapsing temple rained down upon me, but let me tell you, it took a whole different level of skill to get a clingy Lara Croft to finally settle down in her hospital bed.
After that ordeal, I turned to the doctor, gave him a look, and then (with no objection forthcoming) climbed into the bed right next to Lara's.
He looked over my ankle and redid the wrapping before prescribing a regiment of 'preventative' antibiotics, but then he finally got out of my hair. He couldn't do it without frowning at me for being 'unladylike' or some shit of course. Jesus, I've had breakups that were easier than this.
Maybe it's time we start seeing new people doc. I wondered if I could get myself another provider assigned, maybe flex my insurance a little bit, not like I'd ever used it before now.
But after he left everything was fine. I took the pills without complaint, the last thing Lara needed was to wake up and find me half dead from some obscure pacific island parasite. At that point I was pretty ready to pass out, eyelids drooping and everything, the whole nine yards, but then I noticed my camera sitting at Lara's bedside.
I'd been recording when the doctor had come in and started talking about moving me to another room. Naturally, he'd been talking to a nurse, the same one Lara took out none the less. I'd quickly made my opinion on that matter very clear.
And the rest is history.
However… it might also be recorded history. I groaned when I realized that I'd almost definitely forgot to turn off the camera when I started tearing into the guy. It's memory was probably almost completely gone by now, it'd been at least half an hour, if the batter wasn't just flat out dead.
Sighing at the indignities forced upon me, I got out of bed and shuffled over to it, pickup up my camera and checking it over with the same level of care that I'd seen Roth reserve for his prize pistols.
I winced at the memory, before pushing on. Just like the man said, you have to keep moving.
For a moment I wondered how many times Lara must have repeated that same turn of phrase to herself on Yamatai, before pushing it all out of my head.
Focus on the camera.
I quickly stopped the recording as I hobbled back over to my bed. I didn't bother deleting anything yet, I'd chop off the parts of the footage where nothing was happening later or something. It might make decent documentary material, who knows.
If nothing else, the part with me badmouthing the doc might be worth a laugh. I usually didn't go off on people like that after all. If nothing else, I could salvage the sound file as an mp3 so I could play it for Lara when she woke up.
Well, I could do that if I had a computer. The camera itself was a hardy piece of tech, but I'd picked it out because I thought it would survive life onboard a ship or a tropical island, not because it came with any sort of readymade editing software.
Luckily, I'd express ordered a pair of tablets from Amazon as soon as we made land. It'd be easy enough to upload some basic editing tools, maybe Sony Vegas or something quick like that. Plus, then I could finally save all the footage I'd taken during the voyage.
I wasn't sure if I was ready to watch it yet… but I knew I'd want to in the future. Besides, if I knew Lara, she would want anything with Roth's face in it. Girl had a thing for mementos.
The other tablet I'd probably fill up with some subscriptions to the archeology magazines that Lara usually read. Hopefully that would help keep her occupied during what was probably going to be a prolonged hospital stay.
Yawning, I set the most recent video to play back. Might as well see if it was worth anything.
I was treated to an image of Lara, sleeping peacefully for what might have been the first time in a week as I hummed a gentle lullaby to her.
I turned the volume down some, letting my eyes drift shut as I listened… I smirked a bit when I heard my recorded voice start lambasting the doctor. God, I sounded like mom. She always had the best 'I know best' voice when she was talking to other corporate execs.
I giggled sleepily at the thought of one day using that voice on my own children, when they did something dumb. Of course, I'd make sure there was also cake and presents when they did stuff right too…
S' was strange though, I thought I heard myself talking in an older dialect of Japanese… or something…
The camera had died during the night.
All the spare batteries I'd brought for it had been on the Endurance, the charging station as well. So here I was, the next morning, staring at a black screen and wondering if my fuzzy recollections of last night had been anything more than a dream. Did I even want to know for sure one way or the other?
Grumbling, I pushed my thoughts, and the camera, away. Getting hung up on stuff like that wasn't helping anyone, least of all me. I needed to keep my head, getting sucked into a well of survivors guilt was the last thing I needed.
I ran through my mental "not the Sun Queen" checklist (patent pending) before putting he issue out of my mind.
I already had this breakdown anyway. I'm me, not Himiko, and there's no reason to spend any more time dwelling on it.
"Just keep moving." I whispered to myself.
So, on the itinerary today we have an authentic Japanese tea ceremony at then thirty. Unfortunately brought to you by the television, because my body was crying out for caffeine. After that was a visit from the doctors, who checked me over. After confirming that, no, my condition wasn't deteriorating, and, yes, I was being a good little girl and taking all my medicine they turned their attention to Lara.
This time they put a new splint on her arm, where the x-rays had revealed a micro fracture from blunt force trauma. Now she had a matching set with the cast on her opposite leg.
God, Lara. What did I ever do to deserve a friend like you? I must have been the Buddha in a past life.
Later that night I found myself staring out the hospital window, rain pattering heavily against the glass. It was practically torrential, actually, and I frowned as a large gust of wind rattled the hospital.
No, I probably shouldn't mess with the weather like this. Not, like, without a hundred years of research. There were probably all sorts of nasty consequences, not to mention the karmic backlash if I set of the next ice age.
Ugh. I said that, but I could feel the storm in my bones. I know that line was like something out of a bad Indiana Jones knock off, but wasn't that just my life right now? The storm was driving me batty, filling me with jitters like a bad acid trip. The storm was just making it impossible to fall asleep.
But no, I can't mess with the weather so flippantly just because I wanted to catch up on my beauty sleep. My resolve would stand firm I tell you!
Jeez, besides its not like this would make the first time I'd fallen asleep still high enough to be a fucking cloud. There were plenty of times I'd only made it back to our 'flat' because Lara had half dragged, half carried me out of whatever party we'd been at. If I could deal with that, then I could handle a little bit of nervous energy. It wasn't even that bad, barely even a light caffeine buzz.
With a sigh, I rolled over, trying to get comfortable yet again
Another gale rattled with windows in their frames, and I heard a quiet whimper of the pounding of the rain.
Blinking, I sat up, rubbing at my eyes. "Lara?" I called.
I got another stifled sob in reply.
With a frown, I slipped out of bed, moving through the curtains that the night shift nurse had pulled closed around Lara's section of the room. I'd been too tired to argue at the time, but what if the curtains had muffled the whimpering?
"Sweetie?" I called quietly. "Are you awake?"
I blew out a puff of air, part relief part exasperation. Of course she wasn't awake, the doctors had put her out for the time being so that she could sleep. You know, Sam, like she was doing right now?
I looked down at my best friend, just giving her a brief once over. That's when I noticed how her brow was creased nervously, and how she was shuddering lightly beneath the thin hospital blanket.
"Oh, honey." I murmured, brusher in bangs off to the side. I winced as my fingers touched her forehead. She felt sweaty and feverish. I could even feel her trembling from the brief contact, shivering like a wounded bird.
I almost broke down again on the spot. She didn't deserve to end up like this.
I mean, this was Lara Croft of all people. She saved my life a dozen times on Yamatai, got to me through impossible odds, and saved me from what seemed like a fate worse than death.
I can't deny that it made a girl feel special. But more importantly, it made me realize how special Lara was, how unstoppable. I really couldn't have picked anyone else in the world to be a better best friend.
She was my rock.
And seeing her laid up like this? God, this wasn't fair.
I know, oh I know, that no one ever said life was fair and was telling the truth in about it, but this just took the god damned cake. I mean, this was the part of the movie where the conquering hero returns, roughed up but steady enough on her feet to go out with her girls for mai tais and jager bombs.
She does not get stuck in a medically induced coma while the doctors rush to treat her for sepsis, blood poisoning, and bullet wounds.
I'd been trying not to dwell on it, but one of the nurses told me she'd been in for another minor surgery this morning while I'd been asleep. They hadn't even given me the chance to sit outside the operating theatre and worry until the light went off and they told me she was okay.
There could have been lethal complications and I never would have known.
I guess that was the downside of making such a combative first impression.
I winced as a nasty gust of wind snapped me out of my thoughts. Lara started thrashing weakly, forcing me to pin her arms to the mattress.
"Lara." I murmured gently. "Lara, sweetie, it's okay." She showed no sign that she'd heard, but I kept at it. "You're save, your safe here. I'm safe, Lara." I said, "No one's going to get us here, no one's in danger."
She whimpered, mumbling incoherently as her shuddering grew more pronounced.
"No-!" I heard her hiss. "Not … no… storm, Roth! The storm!"
I bit my lip, turning to face the window, but I could already tell.
The storm had gotten worse.
Rain pounded against the glass, and I could practically see the windows rattling in their frames with each gust of wind. The sky was completely black beyond. I could barely make out the lights of the city beyond for how thick the down pour was.
I looked back at Lara, trying to hold back my own tears.
Each time the wind rattled the hospital, Lara grew even more agitated. We were quickly reaching the point where I worried she hurt herself if I let go for the time it took to reach the call button. And forget pinning both her arms down one handed, even without the tangle of tubes and wires I doubted I'd be able to keep a grip. Lara had always been stronger than me, a natural athlete.
She kept muttering about storms.
I could feel it inside me, the storm that sent Lara into fits.
God, it was so hard to describe, this quintessential sixth sense. It was like a pressure, built up inside my chest and pressing down on the surface of my skin at the same time. I could tell that the storm was far from over, even as I could tell how easy it would be to reach out and take the reins. It was raging against the island of Okinawa.
And then there was Lara, whimpering and trashing on the bed. She'd only deteriorate if I left her like this. Already it was getting hard for me to keep her arms pinned down. I must have been giving her bruises at this point, but she just kept thrashing and struggling, face crunch up in a terrified expression.
She just looked so tired and scared. She looked like she was at the end of her rope, hoping that just this once, someone would step up to the plate and rescue herinstead.
How on Earth could I not respond to that?
It was only after the rain stopped that I realized it. I'd already taken hold of the storm, and pushed it out to sea, leaving nothing but calm air behind. On the bed before me, Lara calmed down almost immediately, snuggling limply back into her covers.
I let out a choked laugh.
The decision had been so easy, so effortless.
After all my talk about 'understanding the consequences' and 'not starting a global weather catastrophe', it had only taken Lara crying about storms for two seconds before my resolve had crumpled like a house of cards.
I always hated that show.
"Don't… don't say I never did anything for you." I whispered to Lara as I started backing away, trying to wrap my head around the monumental nature of what had just happened. No, what I'd just done.
Yeah I'd been making light of it all day, but that's because I barely believed that these powers existed at all!
"If I started another ice age, I'm assigning you at least fifty percent of the blame, Lara." I mumbled petulantly.
It's a good thing that she couldn't hear me. She didn't have to bear the brunt of my worldview being tipped on its head all over again.
With one last glance at my sleeping best friend, I turned and slipped back into my bed.
Really, there wasn't any point in denying the truth anymore.
The wind back on the ship had been one thing. It could have been a complete coincidence, or even a fever dream. My sixth sense could have been nothing more than some spoopy side effects from all the drugs I had taken.
But the storm? There was no way to rationalize that away. I'd take control of the wind, the clouds, the rain, the unconquered forces of nature no less, and told them off like a bunch of rowdy interns for waking up my friend during a shoot.
I was, officially, Samantha Nishimura, the First of Her Name...
Queen of the Sun
Three days later, Lara finally woke up.
I'm pretty sure she would have been in and out of consciousness for the past few days if not for the coma drugs. Oh who am I kidding, if the doctors hadn't dosed her up to the eyeballs she'd have been back on her feet in twelve ours, tops, and raising hell for the entire hospital.
If there was one thing Lara never did well, it was enforced bed rest. Girl had drive. Of course, that didn't mean she sometimes didn't drive right into a wall.
Those three days had been pretty rough, not gonna lie.
I just needed to talk to someone about, well, my new additions. I guess that's the best way to reference them…
Unfortunately, my first, last, and only choice had been unconscious. Don't get me wrong, Jonas and Reyes were good friends, maybe even a bit more than that for all we survived together. But they still weren't people I could confide something of this magnitude to. Like, at all.
The last thing Reyes wanted to hear about was more 'supernatural bullshit' her words, not that I disagreed. And she actually checked out of the hospital a day and a half ago. Didn't even stick around for Lara to wake up, saying how she needed to get back to her daughter.
Well, at least she had the decency to wait until Lara was 'out of the woods' so to speak. But I think I made my point. Not exactly confidant material.
And Jonas? Well, Jonas would have been willing to listen for sure, but it was easy to tell he wanted to put the island behind him almost as much as Reyes did. I remember, seeing him kneeling on the beach back on Yamatai, looking out over the waves like a man looking at the only way home.
It wasn't the best time, for any of us.
Not to mention that neither of them had even been there. Relaying the whole thing second hand, up to and including zombie face before dropping an even bigger bomb on them?
No, just no. Even I wasn't willing to go that far.
And Jonas was a guy. I mean, not that I thought he'd start cracking sex jokes about how Himiko was inside of me (so much ewww by the way), but it still wasn't something I wanted to go over with him in all the gory detail!
So yeah, neither of them would really want to know, and neither of them had been there.
Neither of them knew the whole truth, and in all honestly, I was more than happy keeping it that way.
The only ones who knew were me, Lara, and the mountain of corpses she'd climbed to reach me.
God, Sam, morbid much?
Anyway, my point was that I was a girl sorely missing her best friend and confidant. I was almost at the point where I'd considered buying a diary from the gift shop. Can you believe it?
So waking up on Sunday Morning to see Lara sitting up was really the best thing that could have happened to a girl.
She actually didn't notice me at first, as I slowly levered myself upright.
Lara was facing the far wall, slowly twining a stretch of blanket over her fingers in that way she did when she was lost in her thoughts. In a word, pensive.
I'm pretty sure my first coherent thought (because, yanno it's kina hard to gauge these things) was how she shouldn't be stuck in her head at a time like this. After that things more or less happened on their own.
What can I say, I'm a spontaneous sort of person.
With all the stealth of a ninja, I slipped out of my bed. My feet, clad in a newly acquired pair of fuzzy socks, didn't make a sound as I touched down on the tile.
Lara had always been a fierce advocate of sleeping barefoot, but I would show her the error in her ways. I grinned.
Slowly, carefully, I slipped across the distance between us, making sure that Lara had absolutely no idea I was right behind her.
I rose up, arms inching forward towards Lara's sides, and then…
And then Lara reached back and caught one of my hands, giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Morning, Sam." She said.
I slumped. At least, I thought she'd had no idea I was right behind her. Talk about an uber let down. Still, hearing her voice again made it all more than worth it. I squeezed back.
"Hey, Lara." I said. Giving up all prentense, I clambered up onto her bed. "I thought for sure I had you that time."
Lara snorted, rolling her eyes. I figured annoyance at my antics was a good place to start.
Gotta keep moving forward after all.
But instead of replying with some dry British wit, or a playing admonishment (not that they seemed much different on the receiving end), Lara turned to look at me.
I cocked my head to the side at her sudden change of tack, blinking beneath the intensity of her stair. Her eyes racked over every inch of me with all the focus of an X-ray machine, even to point of holding up my arms so that she could get a better look.
"Um… Lara, Sweetie, is there something you want to tell me?" Cause this was crossing very rapidly into uncanny valley territory.
Lara put down my arm, as she blushed lightly. Well, at least I wasn't the only one who thought that was odd. "Just wanted to make sure you were okay." She said quietly.
Got to admit I did a bit of a double take there.
"Wait." I said. "that I'm okay? Sweetie they were pulling shrapnel out of your legs for days!" Lara took a moment to digest that.
However, and this is just going off the four years of college when I lived, breathed, and ate with this girl, the expression on Lara's face very much wasn't a 'Wow, Sam's right, I should worry about myself' expression. I felt it was more of a 'So that's why my legs hurt when I carried Sam down the mountain' expression.
I felt a sudden growing urge to face palm.
Then Lara turned to me and shrugged. "It was worth it." She said with a smile.
I did face palm.
I heard Lara snickering at me. I wanted to say something scathing, I really did. But how the hell am I supposed to snark when the woman who fought her way through hell and back to save my life tells me 'it was worth it'?
"You sure know how to make a girl feel special, Croft." I said. I could feel the soft smile tugging at my lips.
Lara laughed again, but more sleepily this time. I could tell that even our brief interaction had left her worn out, so I started to move from the bed. "Get some sleep." I said. "We can talk more tomorrow."
But before my feet could touch the floor, Lara reached out and snagged my wrist.
I glanced back in surprise. What, did she want a bedtime story, a goodnight kiss? Going off that adorable blush coloring her cheeks (dramatic gasp) could it be the later?
Master of social interaction that I was, I let none of this most secret inner monologue show as I asked: "Sweetie?"
"Could you…" Lara started, before glancing away. For a second I wondered if she was even going to continue but then she seemed to find some inner reserve of courage. "Could you sleep… next to me… for tonight?"
I gaped. Had she actually?
But no, now was not the time to be confused, not when such a perfect opportunity had presented itself!
"Why, Lady Croft." I said, absolutely scandalized. "How forward! Why, if this were to get out I would be ruined for marriage."
Lara wacked me in the side. I almost lost my smile at how feeble the blow was, but through force of will I stayed cheerful.
"Shut it, you." She said, smiling tiredly. "Just lie down already. The last thing I need is more nightmares."
I frowned. "Nightmares?" I asked. Lara immediately looked defensive. God, if not for that slip would she even have mentioned it to me? I quickly slipped under the covers, snuggling into her side. "Sweetie, you do need to talk about these things." I said.
She looked away. Oh come on, Lara, don't be standoffish now of all times. How am I supposed to help if you won't tell me what's going on?
But finally, on pain of me returning to my own bed for the night (not that I could ever had brought myself to abandon her in this state), she cracked.
"It's just the one." Lara told me. "Nothing serious, just… I had a dream that I couldn't find you and I had to fight an Oni with nothing but an IV stand to get you back." She frowned. "It was… weird."
I clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle the laughter.
Lara noticed. Of course she noticed, I wasn't even being remotely subtle. But god, fighting an Oni?
"Sam?" Lara asked, frown growing more pronounced.
"Wh- what a remarkable dream." I gasped out. "How surprising. I-I- I'm sure it must have been a complete flight of fancy."
Slowly, as my shoulders continued to tremble from barely contained giggles, Lara's expression shifted from confusion to deathly embarrassment.
"No-!" She got out. God her cheeks must have been incandescent. "I- I don't believe you!"
That prompted yet another bout of giggles which I had to fight down. All the while, Lara continued to glare at me, cheeks blazing, as I tried to get my laughter under control.
"Well." I said, more than a little breathlessly. "if you check the wheels on your drip…."
She continued to glare, but I only smiled winsomely in response.
Then, slowly, she leaned over the side of the bed. I could pinpoint the exact moment she saw the bent stand, and made the connection to where she'd no doubt pinned the orderly, oh I'm sorry, the Oni to the ground in her dream.
She rolled back into the bed, hands covering her face as I lay next to her, grinning relentlessly.
One word described it all.
"So Reyes already left?"
I nodded against Lara's shoulder. "She said she needed to get home." I said, rolling my eyes. "I get it, she has a kid, nevermind that if the trip had gone as planned we wouldn't be back for another week." She couldn't even have stayed around for the 'wake up'? That's the most important part of any hospital scene and she just ups and ditches?
Lara sighed "It's really not important."
"Well, yeah, but-"
"Sam, can we just… not… right now?"
I shrugged, before smoothly transitioning to another topic. "Jonah should be by sometime during visiting hours. Daddy set him up in a hotel."
I glanced up at Lara. Her expression was studiously blank as she gazed up at the ceiling. For all I knew she could be counting the dots, I certainly did that often enough when I got stuck in the hospital.
More likely however, was that she was thinking about the island again. I frowned.
"Sweetie, you're… we're gonna have to talk about it eventually."
"Nothing to talk about." Lara said firmly. "We survived. It's over, all that's left is to keep moving forward."
I glanced away, worrying my lip. "And to resolve that pesky little SDF investigation." I added. When Lara looked at me in surprise, I smiled apologetically. "Just saying. There are a lot of people who died on that island, of course the government is getting involved."
"God," Lara slumped, quite a feat considering she was already lying down. "Sam, are you serious right now?"
"Well, they probably won't charge you with anything, because that would be monumentally stupid, and my father would shred the government on all of his channels in the most embarrassing way imaginable, but" I shrugged. "It's not over, not for the rest of the world. Everyone wants to know what happened. The media storm over this would be newsworthy in and of itself."
Lara groaned. "Bloody brilliant."
"It is what it is." I said. "Lara, I know that archeologists usually don't have to deal with that much media attention, but this is big, and that's before you include the religious fanatics and storm guards!"
Lara clenched her jaw, but didn't say anything. She looked like she was struggling with something deep, like what color of nail polish to put on before going to a club.
I kid, I'm not that shallow, honestly. Lara though, I'd only seen her this during her honor's thesis, and you know, all of Yamatai but that goes without saying.
Closing her eyes, Lara let out a breath of air. "Fine." She said.
I blinked. "Fine?"
Lara nodded, as if reaffirming her resolve. "Fine. I'll do the interviews, I'll fully cooperate with the investigation, I'll… I'll do whatever I have to do, appear on whatever talk shows. All of it." She said with a depreciating laugh. "That's one way to get grant money, I guess. And… they deserve it, Grimm and Roth and Alex and the rest… they deserve to be remembered."
"I- Wait, what?" I rolled over on top of Lara so that I could look her in the eyes. "Grants? Sweetie, what are you talking about?"
She looked up at me for a moment, worrying at her lower lip. Oh no, I knew that expression. It was the one she always made when she was wondering how much to say, and more importantly how much she could get away with not telling.
Well, two could play at that game.
"Your lips look, like, criminally kissable when you do that." I said suddenly.
Lara blinked, before sputtering and trying valiantly to push me off. "S-Sam!" Well, I hadn't managed to make her forget her name this time, but the blush was a good start. Smirking, I acquiesced to her unspoken demand and slid back to 'my' side of the bed.
"So, grant money." I said. "Spill, now."
Lara sighed. She knew what I did there, and she knew I knew she knew, so on ad nauseum. But she also knew that, unless she told me what I wanted to know, I would continue acting like this until her resolve finally crumbled.
"There has to be more." She said quietly.
Okay, I'm not sure what I had been expecting. But that wasn't it. "Huh? Whaddayah mean?"
"That's 'what do you mean'…" She muttered, before continuing. "I mean Yamatai."
For a second I was confused, but then, there was only one thing on Yamatai (other than ancient ruins, which went without saying) that Lara could feasibly want moreof.
"You mean… m- Himiko's powers." I whispered. "You're going to go looking for other places like Yamatai? Really?"
"I have to know, Sam. Yamatai… Yamatai, was real. The Oni the… Magic." Oh did I ever know the magic was real. Lara made a complicated face at that. "The line between myth and realityis thinner than I ever thought possible."
I bit my lip. "And you're the one who has to go looking for them?" I asked. "It can't be anyone else? You can't even take a break? Whatever you're looking for, they've been around for hundreds of years. Do you really have to go hunting for them right now?"
"Sam, I…" She sighed. "I used to laugh at my father." She told me, her voice becoming softer, more pensive. "I would mock his theories, not only to my peers but also to my professors. Never once did I consider that he might have been onto something. God, I build my entire career off of discrediting mythological superstition, and then on my first real expedition… I find that maybe my father wasn't so wrong after all."
"So yes," She said, as if I hadn't even spoken. "It does have to be me, who looks for the truth, who finds it. Even if it's for no other reason than I would never be able to look at myself again if I didn't."
"What truth, Lara?" I asked quietly. But I'm pretty sure I already knew the answer.
She looked me dead in the eye. "All of it."
Yep. Can I call it or what?
I must have been frowning pretty intensely because Lara looked away right after her declaration.
"Sam, look." She said after a moment. "I know what you're thinking." Oh do you now? Please, enlighten me. My expression, I'm sure, was thunderous. "but, it's best if you just stop worrying about me. I can take care of myself. Go home, be safe," She said. "Live your own life! I refuse to drag anyone into this. But… I have to know."
I scoffed. "And you expect me to just 'live my life' while you're off risking yours? What kind of person do you take me for?"
"I told you-"
"You don't get to tell people not to worry Lara!" I said, raising myself up into a sitting position so I could really get in her face. "You don't get to tell people not to care. That's not a choice you get to make for me! You can say it all you want, but I'm going to be worried about you." I shook my head. "You're my best friend, you saved my life on that island, and you really think I can just not care?!"
I laughed, rubbing at my eyes. "Who the hell do you think I am?" I whispered.
"Sam, stop." Lara said. "You're being unreasonable."
I almost exploded all over the hospital room. I swear to fucking god, I'm being unreasonable? I'm being unreasonable?!
But no, no more screaming. I have self-control. Yelling, yelling wouldn't solve anything right now. She just… didn't understand. But accidentally the hospital (as I was feeling like doing right now) was only going to make her cut me off.
Lara didn't do emotion at times like this, she did logic.
I sighed. Who the fuck am I kidding. I couldn't be logical right now. Lara, my best friend, was going to charge in the direction of the most supernatural looking dig or expedition she could get signed on for, and then she'd vanish off the face of the Earth and I'd be left wondering if she was going to be fine, or if she'd somehow, against all odds, found another Yamatai.
How on god's green Earth was I supposed to be logical about that shit?
Only one option remained. Because I knew Lara, and even if I didn't her exploits on Yamatai would have provided ample evidence. If she was set on a path, there was nothing I could do to turn her aside. Nothing I could do to win this argument. The only choice I had left was to make straight the way of the lord. Or Lady rather.
"Okay." I said. "I'll be reasonable then. I'm going with you."
This impending argument, on the other hand, I was definitely going to win.
Interlude: The Survivor
If there was one thing Lara knew about her best friend it was that nothing good ever came out of Sam being 'reasonable'.
Case and point, Sam's most recent 'reasonable' suggestion. It was only made worse, from the nascent tomb raider's perspective, because she had no counter arguments ready for this line of… reasoning.
Lara honestly hadn't considered it. The last thing she expected from Sam, a girl who's idea of a strenuous exercise before Yamatai probably involved three guys from the varsity rowing team, was for her to jump right back into fray. Granted, not every expedition ended in gunfire, or at least Lara hoped not, but Sam's decision still took her by surprise.
The pain and the loss was almost enough to send Lara limping back to her family's cozy manor house in England. But the desire to know overpowered the fears festering in her heart.
She wondered what had driven Sam to make the same choice.
Or rather, a small part of her wondered that, while the rest was still shocked by Sam's declaration. But before she could even start to formulate a reply, Sam had already shut down any point she might have made.
It started with funding:
"Even if Daddy wouldn't fund all of your expeditions at a loss for saving my life, that doesn't change that this might be the most profitable segment his network has done all year." Sam said. "You'll still have to do some interviews of course. Buuuut I'll be able to screen the questions and take care of that pesky funding issue all on one fell swoop."
Oh Lara had tried to change her friend's mind. Unwilling to reference their experiences on Yamatai directly, she still brought up the issue of Sam's personal safety. Even if they never ran into a situation as bad as the island, Lara had implored, the placed expeditions and digs went were rarely safe. It was a monumental risk!
"Life is a risk, Sweetie." Sam replied smugly. "If it makes you feel better, I'll start some self-defense classes. Hell, I'll even do a basic firearms course before we head out. It'll be hard to find a place to do that in Japan, but I'm sure I can work something out."
Sam paused. "Not that I expect the next dig to feature enough armed cultists to film an Indiana Jones movie, but who knows, I might end up saving you next time around."
There had been something in that statement, some hidden meaning that Lara couldn't bother to decipher right now, not when her friend was being, despite her claims, so decidedly unreasonable.
In the end though, Lara had been pushed back to her final, desperate, arguments about the future of Sam's career. She'd cringed internally even when she brought that up. But unsurprisingly, her friend had been ready for that too:
"You're the most interesting thing I could possible make a documentary on right now." Sam said with a grin "Sweetie, you're gonna make archaeology sexy."
And as Lara sputtered, Sam closed in for the kill. She reached out and took Lara's hand, putting on a wounded expression. "Lara, if… if you don't want me bothering you anymore… you can just say so…"
And Lara had known she was being played. But what, dear god what, was she supposed to say in the face of those big brown eyes and pouting lips?
So, resolve shattered, she'd acquiesced. As a reward, Lara was savvy enough in how her best friend operated to notice, Sam took care of all the details.
The days following her discharge from the hospital passed in a blur of checking tickets and compiling destinations. Lara had expected to have to manage… affairs as well, but the funerals she anticipated had been postponed indefinitely.
The hardest part, and the part she was most thankful that Sam had taken care of, was getting custody of Roth's personal effects. Keeping ahold of his dual pistols, in a nation with as strict gun laws as Japan had become its own special nightmare.
Lara thought it matched nicely with the vague and restless nightmares that plagued her whenever Sam wasn't close by during the night.
Roth hadn't been big on trusting the government to manage his estate, never bought into that last will and testament 'bullshit'. So while there had been enough, in the end, to solidify Lara as the grizzled Scotsman's heir, it had taken a lot of work.
And, Lara suspected, even more money. But since Sam handled the details, she would never know for sure, and a part of her was glad for that reprieve.
But despite, or perhaps because, of how busy her days had become, the day of the interview had crept up on her.
Before she even had a chance to prepare, Lara somehow found herself in the studio, but perhaps it was better that way.
The place was mercifully empty, lacking the live audience a 'talk show' like this would usually host. Even still, the technicians, and to a lesser extent the host herself, had been enough to put Lara on edge.
Intellectually, she knew that there was no chance anyone was going to attack her. And, because she was firmly in control of herself, she never did anything more than tense up when someone slipped out of her field of view, or tromped up behind her in an obvious fashion.
No matter how much she'd wanted to flip that one mic tech who came up and tapped her on the shoulder.
And then, still blinking make up powder from her lashes, the interview started.
The prescreened questions had washed over her like high tide on a commercial beach. She remembered answering them, almost in a fugue as she stumbled her way through the interview.
It helped, Lara was sure, that Sam was sitting right next to her on the oddly colored couch. She brought personality, and a much needed dose of levity besides, that complemented Lara's stoic demeanor. Lara almost believed that it was enough so that she came off as introspective as she talked, rather than shell shocked.
But even then, one question blindsided her. Towards the end of the interview, when Lara had shaken off her practically robotic affect, and when she was counting the seconds until the whole thing was over instead of watching the hostess for any sign of treachery, she was attacked.
"Now," the hostess said. "preliminary statements by the SDF suggest that you aren't going to be charged with anything." A small, commiserating smile. Lara almost gagged, as if this woman understood anything of what they had gone through. "It was all in self-defense after all right?" Which had been a point they'd established early on.
"Despite that, early estimates put your potential kill count at over a hundred people. I think I speak for all of us when I ask, how on earth are you coping with this? Knowing that, defense or no, you personally ended the lives of so many?"
At first, all Lara could think of was that there was no way this question was one of the ones that had been agreed on beforehand. A thought that was quickly corroborated when Sam immediately jumped in.
"How can you just ask that?!" She said, loudly. "We haven't been back in Japan for a week and-"
"Sam." Lara cut in, earlier surprise fading away. "It's fine." She quirked a smile. "I suppose it was too much to ask that a talk show play by any sort of rules…"
She brushed off her friends look of concern, focusing instead on the vaguely offended look of the hostess. After a moment to gather her thoughts, she continued with quiet determination.
"If you're asking me if I feel guilty over what I did, over what I had to do," She said. "then the answer is no. I don't regret any of it. The four of us were lucky to make if off that island… and we lost enough good men and women there… without me joining them here."
It wasn't something that Lara had thought about, but as she spoke she realized that every word was true.
"What do you regret then?" The hostess asked.
Lara took a deep breath. "I regret." She said. "Not killing them faster."
There was a sharp gasp, but with her eyes closes she couldn't tell if it came from Sam, the Hostess, or both. She ignored it. "Maybe… maybe if I'd been faster, or more decisive, or any number of things, then maybe more people would have made it out of that hell hole alive."
Lara opened her eyes, lifting her chin defiantly, daring someone to contradict her, to condemn her. "I lost so many people I cared about on that island. People I've known since I was a child." She said. "I will never regret trying to save them, only that I wasn't able to succeed."
A/N: So here's a new story. I'm cross posting from SB. I write each chapter in short 1-2k word snippets like this. After each chapter is completed, including the ending interlude (and isn't that an oxymoron) I upload it here at .
Hope you all enjoy. Don't forget to favorite and review!