Author's Note: Goodness, it's been awhile. Well, I'm doing okay, and though I'm busy to the max I decided to make myself take some time out to start writing again. It's very therapeutic for me. Anyway, this fic just came off the top of my head, where ideas have been rolling around for a long time now, so there you go. Btw, this is set after Tomb Raider Legend. However, it deals with subjects covered in Angel of Darkness as well. Got it? Also, doesn't pertain to any other works at this time. Also also, this is a one shot, so if you want to see anything further happen, you'd better write it yourself, which is fine with me. As long as you properly give credit where credit is due, have at it.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Tomb Raider. Lara and the others are property of Crystal Dynamics, Eidos, and Core Design. That's it I think. I'm only borrowing them for entertainment purposes. So, enjoy, and feel free to let me know what you think in a review!

Cold Tea

Lara Croft, world famous adventurer and archeologist, sat in her study working through some documents. They held valuable information that she would need for her next endeavor.

The time was perfect for research, as a storm had blown into the area, drowning everything under heavy raindrops. Naturally, the assault course was out-she had no desire to get blown off such high platforms, and indoor practice wasn't available either, as Zip was running some tests on the security programs of the house. He'd be rushing to and fro all over the house, and so she'd practice nothing really, except tripping over him and exercising patience when she did. So, research it was.

Her documents, though fairly new, were copies of much older ones, dating back quite a ways. Lara's goal was to find the anonymously titled " Unknown Tomb" before her competition. Supposedly, it held important information about a group of knights that were tied to King Arthur just before he died.

Now while some called King Arthur just a story, there were a few who knew the truth. Lara was one of them. She had found his tomb, as well as the graves for all of his loyal knights, deep below the ground in London. Ironically enough, it'd had been under a King Arthur novelty shop the entire time. But that was another story for another time.

So, she had to locate this tomb and get to the site before the other side did. Her competition was more of a side group if you will, composed of some daring men from the Foreign Legion. What there reasons for wanting to find it first were beyond her, and quite frankly she didn't care. They were just another obstacle between her and the mystery of her mother.

A polite knock was heard then, and Lara looked up with a gentle smile. "Yes Winston?"

The butler, for all his years, still stood tall as he addressed his charge. " Lara dear, aren't you tired of researching? You've been at it for hours now."

However subtle the hint was, Lara knew he wanted her to get some sleep. Honestly, he was more a father than a butler the way he worried so. " Don't worry Winston, I won't stay up too late. I just want to finish this page and I'll be off to bed."

" Of course. May I offer you some tea?"

" Hmm, tea would be lovely, if you wouldn't mind."

At this her long time friend and father figure straightened even more, and with a bow was off to fetch it. She smiled again; Winston was too good to her.

Immediately, she settled in to finish that page. Her eyes followed the words carefully and skillfully, looking for any hints or unspoken meanings that would help her discover the location of her tomb.

" At the wall, where they bow in service

Let them hear the bells cry

Once the sun rises all is silent

Only in darkness will Par relinquish her prize"

Something was off about that. Lara narrowed her eyes and read it again. Who was Par? It didn't sound right at all. Turning slightly, she pulled her computer to her and typed in Par. The search took naught but a second, but there it was in digital black and white. Par was referring to Paris. Of course, how could she have missed that?

Triumphantly, she set the copies down and read a bit more of the words history, and then leaned back with satisfaction. 'So, back to Paris for me,' she thought.

Hmm, just the name of the city was enough to send shivers up her spine, and not in the good way. Thankfully, she'd been completely acquitted of killing Von Croy and the other Monstrum victims, but the experience was still fresh in her mind. The manhunt for her head, running from police dogs, sneaking about the Lourve, and traipsing down into the earth to that Lux Veritatis place…

The Lux Veritatis, a special order enlightened in such ways as to stop the occult chaos and bring peace to the world much in the way she herself did-secretly. For the first time since the whole fiasco ended she allowed her mind to drift back to the past in Paris, where she'd met a certain man.

Kurtis was his name. That brash, arrogant American had tailed her and took the Obscura painting. The man was such a prat, going so far as to wrap his paws around her before taking what he wanted, or in Lara's mind, stealing what he was too lazy and stupid to get himself. Oh he had made her blood boil, giving her that all American smirk and salute before taking off.

Then there was the little infraction of locking her in that room at the Strahov. That had been outrageous. She could easily recall her anger and anxiety, just waiting for him to come back so she could nail his cocky, twisted head to the wall. How long had she been in there? It couldn't have been more than a few hours, but to her it had felt like days. Yet…

Lara wasn't really one to lie to herself about certain things. When it came to talking about her feelings with anyone else, yes, she would rather cut her tongue out or slit her wrists than spill her guts. Contrary to popular belief however, she was pretty honest with herself, and as she recalled all those emotions from Paris and Prague, she couldn't quite leave out some of the most…intense.

Despite whatever that ridiculous, glaive-wielding cretin had dished up, she'd still felt…something when she had been in his presence. For all his smart-mouth comments, she remembered watching his mouth move, or his eyes sparkle when he teased her. Lara recalled all his gestures, especially his smirk. There had been something between them, that much she knew. He could've easily killed her in the Lourve and again in that air lock, just as she could've gotten him back by letting that zombie take him out, but…they didn't. It was more than having a sudden fit of mercy, and she liked to think the chemistry between them had been a contributing factor.

She didn't know him much beyond his name and basic background, and he'd known even less about her, but that stranger had even partnered up with her after that. Splitting the pressing workload had been a smart move, but Kurtis wasn't forced into it. He'd had his choice, so he could've easily refused and left her to figure it out for herself, but he stayed and shared his information with her.

To this day, Lara didn't know what prompted her to join him. She had enough backstabbing after the tomb collapsed on her. Her days after her return had been hell on everyone here. The day she stumbled through the gate, leaving the cab she'd taken to drive away, and set her eyes on the grave-marking statue, something had broken. She'd lost herself, or at least a part of herself, and she knew nothing could fix it.

Her days were spent in the study or in her room, and she didn't see Winston for several weeks…or months. She wasn't sure. Her old friend had seemed to sense that human company was unwanted, so he'd avoided her and let her avoid him.

Apparently, Zip arrived in her absence, and without any other offers, had nowhere else to go. It was Winston who'd given to go ahead, and he'd set up his equipment and such in the lab to his liking well before she'd walked in. Poor Zip, he'd been unfortunate enough to see her at her worst and more, yet he still tried to goad her into conversations, convinced that talking about it would help. But she hadn't wanted to talk to anyone, and the initial result of his badgering was a yelling match.

At some point, Lara had come to the agreement that it was over. No more adventure, no more work-she should just stay in the house and quietly live out the rest of her days in peace.

Well, that had been the plan anyway. The same day she'd made that decision, she'd gotten an email from Von Croy. Apparently, he needed her to come to Paris immediately, something about certain monstrosities and being afraid. He'd been vague, but she knew it was a cover for something much larger. The only problem pertained to whether she should go or not. On one hand, he'd betrayed her. She'd nearly been killed because of his cowardly actions. On the other though, he was a friend of her father's. What would he say were he here? Besides, the curiosity had begun to set in, so she determined that she might as well go, if only to satisfy her desire to slap his face, verbally or physically.

She was gone the next day.

So, how was it that a simple journey of closure had ended up in a city-wide hunt for Lara, a tiring drive to Prague, an alliance with someone whom she'd thought was her enemy, and the stopping of a mad man turned pawn by the real mad man who wished to take over the world by rebreeding his angel-human race?

She couldn't say. She was still waiting for someone to tell her.

Regardless, on some level she was still angry with Von Croy for getting her into so much trouble. Honestly, she had a problem with the man. Well, she somewhat had a problem with all men. Most of them, save the few good ones like Winston and her father, were idiots. Sex and alcohol were all they thought about, and they were most likely to join the military just to blow stuff up. But really, after her experience with Von Croy's betrayal, she couldn't figure out why she'd trusted Kurtis.

Why would she put faith in a man she only knew as a stalking, prize-stealing vagabond? Lara let her mind wonder further, and eventually came to the reason she didn't think about this often.

Kurtis, a man only out for himself and revenge, had helped her. Quite literally, he'd sacrificed his life for hers. Throwing her out of that pit to stay behind with Boaz, Eckhardt's creation, was rather heroic. And as her mind was still reeling, he'd tossed her the Periapt shards. The man had trusted a stranger to avenge is father and his order, while he stayed to fight. Who would do that?

Something told Lara that Kurtis didn't trust easily. She could read between the lines and see it in the way he held himself. So, why then save her and entrust the fate of the world in her hands?

Who knew? Maybe he had sensed her ability to handle near-world-destruction situations, for lack of a better term. Maybe he'd seen in her what she saw in him, that ache to trust but the natural hesitance. She'd never know.

When Lara had found that pool of blood in Kurtis' place, her own blood had run cold. Seeing the body of Boaz, both of them, gave her a picture of what happened. Kurtis had fought hard against the monster, but the blood at the end of her "arm" as it were, told her the final verdict.

This was why she didn't like to think of Paris or Prague. One undoubtedly led to the other, and down the chain of events to this moment. When her heart skipped a beat, and she felt tears in her eyes for the first time in what felt like decades. That moment when her soul ached and she went into a fit a pain and mental confusion, was almost enough to send her to her knees. He was gone, and he'd given his life for hers.

Once she looked back at the pool of blood, she'd seen the glint of metal. Finding that mysterious glaive had given her some hope, and when it had lit up and tugged her in one direction, she thought that just maybe, maybe he'd made it.

For that stranger, the dark, handsome man, Lara braved the darkness. Through her short journey she remembered why she hated the dark, where huge slabs of stone fell towards you and blocked the sun, and where torches couldn't go for lack of air, so you were left to search through a maze of tunnels alone, cold, and hungry-in the dark. But she'd determined in her mind to find him, because if he'd given himself for her like that, the least she could do was brave a phobia to find and help him, right?

Lara searched that blasted complex for hours. Her search came up empty. Her body screamed in protest for each step she took that wasn't toward the exit, and her senses began to fade within the first hour. She was tired, and hungry. Cuts and scraps littered her body, and there was no sign of Kurtis. No drop of blood, no sense of his presence anywhere, nothing.

The dangerous weapon she held in her hands hadn't moved once since the beginning, it just stayed lax in her hand. Reluctantly, she'd forced herself to give up. There was a lot to be said for honor, and she'd tried to honor his help with some of her own, but dying in the hallway for some zombie to find and eat was not the way to go. Besides, he would probably do the same.

Later, after she'd recovered for about a day in a nearby hotel and gotten something to eat, she'd gone back to try again. Unfortunately, the authorities had covered the area by then, drawn by the explosion that'd had killed the Sleeper. She was caught, and put into custody by the local police before being shipped back to Paris for a trial.

It was only by some stroke of luck that the men who'd gone through the rubble and found Eckhardt's body also found a journal on him that gave sufficient evidence to his guilt in the killings. Lara was set free with a minimal amount of paperwork done. Apparently, the officials had had enough and didn't want to fuss with her when they had a city to repair, as well as questions…upon many more questions, that needed to be answered.

Her return home had been better than the last, with Zip and Winston speaking to her without fear of her wrath. She'd been quiet for a few weeks, but more a humble quiet. Like she was trying to sort everything out in her head and come to grips with it. Eventually though, she'd been forced to let it sit where it was, the past. She had a new mission now, and there wasn't truly room for daydreaming. Speaking of which…

…There was a cold cup of tea on her desk…

'Must've been so lost I didn't hear Winston…' she concluded. She picked it up, and drank it swiftly, not really wanting to fuss with warming it. ' Not perfect, but I'm too tired to care.'

Lara made her way to her quarters than, changing clothes and performing her nightly rituals. All through it though, her mind kept playing back to Kurtis. Where he was, if he was even alive.

Lara Croft was never really thought of as sentimental, but no one really knew the real her. So when she opened the drawer of her bedside table and fished out an old, disc-shaped weapon and held it in her hands, it wasn't unusual to her. To anyone else, it wasn't normal to see her hold such an item the way one beheld a tombstone.

When the air around her warmed slightly, and she felt the item's vibration through her hands and up her arms, she smiled. Maybe it was silly, but alive or not, she still felt she had some sort of connection with the strange American. One day, she hoped to see him in person to return this mysterious item, but even if that day never came, she was content to hold onto this part of him. Who knew? Maybe Kurtis was out there somewhere, right now, smiling as he channeled his glaive and felt her hold onto it to keep it from returning.

And when it was placed back in the drawer and she let herself drift away in the darkness to slumber, Lara smiled. She couldn't quite admit it was love, even to herself, for she didn't think of him nonstop, which was the way love was. But every now and then, she indulges by visiting Kurtis Trent in her memories, while she waits in the peaceful present, over a cup of cold tea.