For the past hour, Lara was locked in a staring match with her new mortal enemy. This one gave her more trouble than any before it (including going undercover into a cult on some island which worshipped a demon. She wasn't sorry to see that raving old madman being taken away). It sat there, innocent but she knew better. It mocked her, and she glared harder at the bright, colorful (deceptively) cheery words in big letters.

ATTENTION PARENTS
IT'S TIME FOR OUR NEXT
'BRING YOUR KID TO WORK DAY!'
We hope you'll participate and have the chance to
show your child the joy and thrill of
spending the day showing your son/daughter the fun of
what job career you do and its highlights!

Please note, child will be expected to write a report:
One page, may be double-spaced
Those unable to participate, school will
proceed as usual

Lara read the flyer so much she practically had it memorized. More than the words, she hated how much it felt when her son gave her the hand-out, trying not to show excitement - excitement at spending the day with her, not talking on the phone, or video chat or even email, but in her physical presence. It reminded her just how much being out in the world deprived him - and her - of being around each other.

Lara rubbed her brow, glaring again at the flyer. How could she deny him? How could she let him come with her? Far as he knew, his mother was a regular archeologist - not someone who went for the thrill and the hunt of finding something no one else could. 'Can I bring him into the study, just spend the day showing him artifacts. Maybe a trip to the museum?' Time was short, and she couldn't find an answer. He might try to hide it, but her son was growing impatient. He never bothered holding back how he felt - he really wanted this.

'And I'm trying to think of a way to tell him no.' More than anything, Lara cursed the school for putting her in this position. There was already an expedition underway she was supposed to be on, but had to delay it due to this. Then again, educating her son was what she paid the school tuition for. 'It's just one trip, and there'll be plenty more.' She didn't know how much time her son could wait on her. The last thing she wanted was a repeat of her own childhood; she loved her father dearly, but she wished she'd seen him more before...

Sighing deeply, Lara frowned. "You win this time." she muttered to the flyer, and made her way out of her study. The trip through the corridor was longer than it should have been, or were those her nerves? Her son confounded her in ways artifacts and books never did. She at least was able to crack the secrets to those in time.

Too soon though, she was standing in front of her son's room. Lara shook her head, and knocked on the door. There was a pause on the other side, before he called, "Come in."

Lara glanced around the room. It was messy, clothes strewn haphazardly in the hamper and spilling out of the dresser, bed unmade and toys spewing from their box and the video game console lying in front of the television. Posters taped to the walls, of some band she couldn't identify. He seemed to have picked up Sam's taste in music than her own. The only tidy area was the desk with his homework - no doubt already done - and the shelf beside it filled with books she'd buy him. Pictures were on top of it, of her, of her and him, of the two of them with Sam.

Lara finally rested her gaze on her son, who pulled the headphones from his ears and rest around his neck. He seemed to get older each time she saw him, or was it because it felt so long each time apart? A band-aid on his cheek from scrapping after falling off a skateboard. She wondered if it healed by now - scratches and scraps were doing that a lot with him lately. Re-focusing her attention, Lara sat beside her son, who watched her carefully. She wondered if he was breathing he was so still.

"I've read over the flyer, and I've decided that...you may come to work with me."

Nero's blue eyes lit up, his whole face illuminated that it made her heart clench. Any time she looked at him, she saw the man she spent a single night with, but now she saw her own reflection in that delighted expression.

Then his demeanor shifted, as if embarrassed and looked down, his voice tempered. "Oh, that's cool. Thanks, I guess." He might be her son, but he also picked up the American accent from Sam. Lara supposed it made sense, given Sam spent so much time with him before he could even talk.

Lara found herself smiling just a little, but tried to keep the sadness out of it. "Then be ready Friday morning, 9 am sharp. You'll be helping me document some of my findings."

Nero nodded, fiddling with the strings of his hoodie. "Yeah, I got it. I guess I wouldn't mind spending the day with you." Nine seemed to be a precarious age for him - old enough to start wanting his independence, but still young enough to crave her attention.

Lara raised a brow, and she couldn't resist planting a kiss on his forehead. Her son huffed, but his delayed reaction spoke for him before he grumbled and pushed her away. His white bangs fell over his eyes. He needed a haircut soon. Lara closed the door on her way out, but she paused as she heard the quiet clicking of a cell phone from inside.

"Hey, Sam, guess what? Mom said I could spend the day with her!"

And the joy in Nero's voice put a smile on Lara's face which lasted the entire day.