Author's Notes: So, after all this time, a sequel! Yay! It's a bit (okay, a lot) schmoopier than my usual fare, and so they might be a tad Out of Character, but I don't care! ;-p Anyway, hope you like - please review!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Really, I don't own anything. Except maybe a large Visa bill, and a set of tickets to see my favorite band in concert this summer, I don't own anything.
Author's Note 2: Starts during the adventure in Peru that Alex invites Lara on in "I'll Think About It".
Lara slammed into the dirt beside Alex, having just escaped from the latest trap that had tried to kill them, trying to get her breath back.
A glance to her side proved that impossible as she started laughing, hard and long, at her singed companion. The Incans were just behind the Mayans for nasty traps in South America and this tomb was no different. She had escaped unscathed, not counting the loss of an inch or two of hair, she added silently with a mournful look at her shorter braid. But Alex… Lara looked at him again and broke into fresh peals of laughter.
Alex hadn't been quite so lucky. His hair still smouldered a little, and his clothes looked more than a little charred. Alex's normally light skin was dark with sooty ash; and his pale blue eyes and white smile gleamed in the fading light.
He reached up to wipe his face and blinked down at his dirty hand with bemusement.
Which had her laughing harder.
Quick as a viper, his hand shot out and trailed a line of ash down her nose. It was Alex's turn to laugh when he caught the sight of Lady Lara Croft going cross-eyed as she tried to see what he'd done to her.
Lara's eyes narrowed dangerously even as he decorated one of her cheeks. Not content with that, Alex ignored his impending doom to give her matching mark on the other cheek. Lara growled deep in her throat, a sound that shivered down Alex's spine, and pounced on him.
Not caught totally off-guard, Alex went with the movement and kept rolling them until they stopped with him on top, leaning over her. "Got a problem, Croft?"
Lara smiled sweetly and heaved him off of her, doing as he had and rolling them until she found herself on top, straddling his waist. "Not anymore."
Alex grinned wolfishly and lightly thrust his hips up into hers, "Neither do I."
Never one to back down from a challenge, Lara took the bait and ground down into him with just the right amount of pressure and friction, driving him absolutely out of his mind until-
Alex's eyes popped open – he hadn't even been aware of closing them – and he turned to watch Lara heading back in the direction of their base camp at a pace that wasn't quite a jog. He barely refrained from sulking with disappointment and stood with a wince. His cock was hard enough to pound nails and Alex wasted several moments adjusting his trousers before slowly following her.
Upon arriving back at base camp, Alex noted that Lara had sequestered herself in her tent, which he bypassed in favour of the cool lagoon they used for bathing. He didn't have a cold shower, so the fresh water was going to have to do. Alex stripped out of his clothes as he walked, grimacing when he discovered just how badly damaged they were. Totally nude by the time he reached the water's edge, Alex dove in and resurfaced, sighing with relief when the cool water did its job on his anatomy.
There was a small waterfall on one end of the lagoon and Alex lazily paddled over to it, letting the water knead his tense muscles and soothe his minor burns. Once he was as clean as he could be without the use of soap or shampoo, Alex simply floated on his back, letting the familiar sounds of the jungle lull him into a light doze.
"You really should let someone look at your back." Lara's voice broke him out of his stupor and, startled, he flailed around and sank beneath the surface of the water.
Alex resurfaced almost immediately, coughing up accidentally inhaled water, to the sound of Lara's laughter ringing in his ears. In retaliation, he swept his arm across the surface of the lagoon, sending a miniature tidal wave of water her way.
Lara stopped laughing and blinked at him, patently astonished that he'd actually done it. She was dripping water and, Alex noted with satisfaction, her white tank top had gone almost transparent as it clung to her full breasts. "You know what this means, don't you, Mr. West?" she called out finally. The evil smile she wore had Alex starting to feel a bit nervous, but that was quickly smothered by anticipation.
"I'm sure I have no idea," he responded, subtly inching backwards.
She didn't speak, but instead took a running leap into the lagoon with a battle cry. Lara landed in front of him and smiled sweetly. "This means war," she said, right before she dunked him underwater.
Oh, it's on now…
What followed was a water war of epic proportions, the likes of which the usual inhabitants of that lagoon had never seen. For nearly an hour, Lara forgot that she was supposed to hate Alex, and he forgot to pretend that he wasn't in love with her, as they engaged in the kind of horseplay neither had indulged in since childhood. Eventually they stopped to catch their breaths, simply treading water, watching each other.
"After the Triangle," Lara murmured after a few minutes, "did I ever thank you for staying with me that night?" She doubted she had; she'd been too emotionally raw after watching Alex die, and then seeing her father, to leave her walls up and had asked him to stay after he'd patched her hands up.
To his credit, he hadn't said a word – just curled up beside her, letting her bask in the body heat he'd thrown off like a furnace. She woken from a nightmare once or twice, and he'd gently soothed her back to sleep. Somehow, though, he'd known that her barriers would be back up to full strength in the morning and had gone by the time she woke up, pretending nothing had happened.
"That's the beauty of it all, Lara; you know you never had to."
"But I should have, Alex."
He didn't bother to waste his breath denying it. "Lara, I don't know what you saw when you used the Triangle, I don't know what happened after I left you with Powell, but you were so shaken up, you didn't even protest when I wrapped your hand up." Alex reached out and snagged the hand in question, holding it palm-up. After two years, the scar wasn't much more than a thin white line across her palm – there was no telling just by looking that it had been deep enough to need stitches.
Lara appeared to consider this carefully. She'd thought about telling Alex what had happened before she'd turned back time, but the thought of how big his ego would get knowing that she'd saved his life instead of her father's had stilled her tongue.
While she was lost in her thoughts, Alex raised the hand he still held and pressed a kiss to her palm, right over the scar. "I am sorry about Sheridan, Lara."
"I know," she responded quietly. "Me, too."
Alex peered into her eyes, noting that they were just this side of grey and swirling with inner turmoil. It was a good thing she didn't know he could practically read her mind just by looking at her eyes – her poker face was perfect otherwise. Slowly he drew her into his arms, very wary of any sign that she was about to kill him, but Lara only turned her face into the curve of his neck and breathed. Her free arm snaked around his waist and held on tight, and Alex could only rest his cheek on her hair and tread water while she took comfort in the only way she would allow herself to.
Alex lost track of how long they stayed like that, but eventually Lara pulled back, and he let her, watching with disappointment as her mask slipped back into place. "We'd best get back," she murmured, turning towards the shore.
"Lara?" She halted a few feet away, and twisted back around to look at him. "It's going to be okay."
She appeared to come to a decision and flowed back into his arms. "Silly man." Her eyes were bright green and glinted with mischief. "Of course it is."
Then she kissed him. Rather unlike the one in her study, this was hot and open-mouthed as Lara easily wound him up, tighter and tighter, until he thought he might burst.
Not that he was complaining.
This time, however, she wasn't going to pull a disappearing act on him, by virtue of one of his hands wrapped around the nape of her neck, and the other clamped onto her hip.
After a few seconds, though, Alex forgot to keep treading water and started to sink. It wasn't much of a deterrent – at least, not until air became a pressing issue.
One could only share the same breath for so long, after all.
Together, still wrapped around each other, Alex and Lara pushed off the bottom of the lagoon and broke the surface with simultaneous laughs. Alex helped Lara brush her wet hair back over her shoulders and tugged her close for another kiss. "Come on, I have a surprise for you back in my tent."
Lara chuckled huskily, a sound that went straight to his nether regions. "Is this the kind of present I can enjoy all night long?" she asked playfully with a meaningful glance downwards, but went along all the same when he turned them both towards shore.
Well, that deserved another kiss, didn't it? It wasn't until they started sinking again that Alex deigned to release her.
Upon reaching shore, Alex quickly donned his shorts and boots and led Lara, who dripped water everywhere, back to their base camp. They picked up the rest of his discarded clothing along the way and dropped the unsalvageable pieces into the fire-pit.
"So, Mr. West, what's this surprise you supposedly have for me?" Lara's tone was amused, as though she figured that he'd only used the promise of one as an excuse to get her into his tent. She sat in the visitor's chair that was nearly identical to the one in her own tent.
"You'll see." He turned and pulled his duffle bag onto the bed – after rummaging inside for a few seconds, Alex pulled out an ornately carved wooden box and moved to stand in front of her.
Curiosity more than a little piqued, Lara opened the lid.
And nearly dropped it again as she took in the sight of the exquisitely crafted Tibetan prayer wheel. "It's the only one I've been able to get my hands on," he murmured.
Beyond words, Lara closed the box, cupped his face in her hands, and kissed him. It was awkward – at least until Alex dropped to his knees and placed the box on the ground.
At that point, he was free to pull her down into his lap, wet clothing and all. Lara seemed to come alive in his arms, wrapping herself around him, trying to get as close to him as possible.
Somehow, rational thought reasserted itself and Alex found himself pulling away from the delights that awaited him in Lady Croft's arms. "Lara, I'm only going to ask once: are you sure you want this?"
Lara reacted as if he'd poured cold water over her. "Let go of me," she ordered, suddenly furious with him.
Alex simply cupped her head with his hands, stroking his thumbs over her cheekbones. "No. I'm never letting you go again. But I need to know, Lara. Do you want this?" he repeated, leaving unsaid the "do you want me?".
"If you have to ask…" She seemed unwilling to forcefully break away, but that didn't stop her from testing his grip.
Reluctantly, she met his eyes, almost flinching at the resignation she read within. She'd seen that expression a few times, but none were more haunting than when he'd been stabbed by Powell's knife during the hunt for the accursed Triangle. She wanted to stay, but at the same time she wanted to run. Run far away from the emotions he evoked – it was easier to just be angry with him, whether it was anger for besting her, anger for throwing away his potential, anger over his being able to affect her so acutely.
Sleeping with men was easy – but it was never just sex with Alex. With him, bells rang, fireworks popped, and the earth moved, all at once.
And that scared her. Because with her propensity to get involved with men who either betrayed her or died (or both), Lara knew it would only be so long before something happened that she couldn't fix.
If Terry dying had hurt, Alex dying would break her heart.
"Lara." His grip on her loosened. She looked into his eyes again, and nearly withered with guilt at how… defeated he looked. She'd seen Alex in many, many states, but she'd never seen him give up.
She'd done that to him. The one man she could count on when the chips were down, and she'd somehow managed to do in two minutes what years of barely veiled insults and verbal jabs couldn't.
She'd broken his heart.
"I think you should go now," he said quietly, dropping his hands.
"Oh, Alex," she breathed. Her eyes were greyer than he'd ever seen them, muddled with unhappiness and apology.
Wait; what? Apology?
"You never gave up," she said, as if coming to that conclusion herself. "You really never gave up." It didn't sound like she expected a response, so Alex stayed silent, waiting for her to come to a conclusion. "Oh, Alex."
She was quiet for another several moments, and Alex took that as his cue to try to scoot out from under her. Lara's hands came to cover his when he placed them on her hips and put them over her cheeks instead. "A moment ago, you said you'd never let me go again. Did you mean it?"
Alex carefully gauged his response. "Yes," he said finally. "Yes, I meant it."
"Good." Lara flowed back into him, eyes incandescently green. "Because I'm not going to let you go again, either."
What else could he do, besides kiss her?
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