Safe and Sound
It was over. Sam was safe, the Sun Queen was truly dead, and the storms had finally broken allowing them to leave. Setting her weapons down on the deck she shrugged off the old bomber jacket she had found, and set down beside where Sam lay. The older girl was currently asleep, her right arm in a makeshift sling, broken after resisting Matthias one too many times.
"How is she?" Jonah asked, looking back at them worriedly from his spot by the gunwale. Reyes perked up as well, obviously listening but keeping her eyes ahead on the ocean in front of them.
"Physically she's fine, apart from the arm. There's a bite on her foot that looks like it might have been from a wolf but it's been treated already." Came the weary reply from Lara. The bite must have been what Matthias had treated to help gain her trust before she'd found her. Glancing back down at the girl her brow furrowed slightly. "Other than that I think she's just tired. She was barely conscious coming back down and she kept mumbling to herself, saying things like that, 'That stupid Queen should have known better that to try to hurt.. me ".
"Mmmm… stupid bitchy queen.." Mumbled Sam as she shifted so her head lay partially on Lara's lap. Lara just gave look Jonah a look as if to say 'see what I mean'. Absentmindedly she started to run her fingers through Sam's hair as she continued, "I think she was fighting back against Himeko taking possession, and that's why she's so tired right now."
"How do you even fight back against something like that?" Reyes asked, confirming that she had indeed been listening.
"I'm not sure. Willpower, perhaps? All I know is that she was able to hold out against Himeko until I got to her and… and that the lightning kept missing." Lara replied, a look of realization showing as she said the last part. "The lightning kept missing… that's what same meant. Himeko was trying to hit me with it but Sam wasn't letting her."
"Come on Lara, are you saying that Sam was interfering with the weather?" Reyes questioned, incredulity dripping from her voice.
"Himeko was able to bring down our ship, a plane, and a helicopter, not to mention who knows how much more over the years and yet she suddenly couldn't hit me?" Lara said, convinced she was right. Looking down at the sleeping girl once more she smiled. "You were protecting me, all while I was trying to save you."
"… couldn't let.. couldn't let her.. hurt you.." Sam mumbled again, moving closer to Lara as she did so.
Reyes spared a look behind her at them before returning her gaze forward, "Hell, I guess it makes as much sense as anything else on that damned island did."
Walking back to where they were Jonah spoke up again, "People can do amazing things if they're determined to." Setting one large hand on Lara's shoulder he looked down at her. "What you did was incredible and it's thanks to you that we were able to leave. Now, why don't you catch up on some of that sleep you've denied yourself for too long?"
Shaking her head, Lara tried to deny Jonah, "No, I'm fine.. Really, I should stay awake in case of…"
"In case of what?" Reyes said, cutting her off mid argument. "We're on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Me and Jonah can handle everything here. Now get some sleep, you look like death warmed over right now."
Jonah shook his head at Reyes' description, "It'll be alright, little bird. We'll wake you as soon as we make contact with another ship."
Seeing she was outnumbered, and in all honesty about to fall asleep anyway, Lara nodded her consent. "Fine, you win. But you had better wake me as soon as a ship contacts us." Shifting slightly to use the back rest as a pillow she closed her eyes to go to sleep. While not the most comfortable accommodations she's ever had, after the last few days it felt like heaven. They were safe after all, they were safe and they were headed home.
"Lara.. Lara, come on Lara, you need to get up now."
"Huh.. Sam, what's going on?" A still groggy Lara asked. Sam had apparently awoken sometime before her and Lara was now using the other girl's shoulder as a pillow. Raising up her head she shook it slightly to clear it of sleep, taking in that that several hours had passed and was now night… and that there was a large floodlight shining on them. Adrenaline pumped through her, pushing the last remnants of sleep out, grasping the grip of her pistol she made to draw before she was stopped by Sam moving in front of her.
"Hey there, easy now." Sam said, glad that she was able to stop her before something bad had happened. Bringing her eyes to lock with Lara's she sought to reassure her that everything was okay. "It's ok, Lara. They're here to help us, it's just a cargo ship that answered our distress call, and they're probably on edge enough without you shooting out their lights."
Fully taking in her surroundings Lara noticed that it was indeed a cargo ship she had been about to shoot, flying Japanese colors if she wasn't mistaken. And much like Sam had said the few crewmen she could see did look to be on edge, as did Jonah and Reyes. "Sam, what's going on? Why does everyone look so nervous?"
A small smile played on Sam's lips as she answered, "Why does the crew of a cargo ship in the South China Sea look nervous about answering a distress call that leads the to an old patrol boat armed with machine guns?" Looking at herself and Lara she grimaced slightly before continuing, "Not to mention the two girls in bloodstained clothes sitting back here."
Glancing around Lara had to admit she had a point, the South China Sea was pretty volatile anyways and running across a patrol boat like theirs would be enough to set anyone on edge. As for herself and Sam, well they had certainly been better dressed. Sam's previously white dress had its fair share of bloodstains now, almost all transferred from Lara's clothes. The combat vest she had found was now about three shades darker than it started as, due to the amount of blood spilled on it and what was left of her pants wasn't much better with the various tears, burn marks, and bloodstains. Briefly she considered putting her jacket back on but one look at it changed her mind, it was as bloody as the rest and had pieces of what might have been brain on it as will, most likely from the giant oni she had killed.
"Ok, I'll admit you might have a point." Lara responded, embarrassed that she'd almost shot their saviors.
"Glad you think so." Sam replied cheekily, returning to her spot beside Lara she stretched her legs out in front of her. It felt good to be able to relax some after what they'd been through. Turning slightly to face Lara she continued to explain the situation. "We got pretty lucky it was this ship. Apparently the first mate served with Reyes on the Endurance before and was able to vouch for her. That along with the reputation Roth and Grim had in this area was enough to convince the captain to send a boat over for us."
Roth and Grim, even from beyond the grave the two were still finding ways to help her. The fact that they'd run into an old crewmate was surprising but not unbelievable, many had served on the Endurance over the years before leaving for better jobs.
"What about our weapons?" Lara asked, fingers ghosting over her pistol grip. Whereas before she had been nervous carrying a weapon, she found the now familiar weight more comfortable than she would've thought possible.
To her surprise it wasn't Sam that answered her but Reyes instead as she and Jonah walked back to where they were. "They've agreed to let us keep our sidearms as long as we promise not to cause any trouble and keep them stowed away. They're going to confiscate the larger weapons though." Reaching down she grabbed Lara's bow as Jonah picked up the rest of the weapons, placing them up at the front of the boat before returning.
"They asked us to place the larger guns at the front. And to stay away from the machine guns while they send out a boat to come get us." Jonah said, seeing the questioning look Lara had given at their actions.
"I can understand that. What I can't believe is that they're going to actually let you keep your pistols." Sam said, shaking her head in incredulity.
"Apparently several of the ships with more experienced crews have started letting select crewmen carry weapons due to the rise of piracy in the area." Lara answered, having studied the area extensively before the expedition. "It is surprising they'll let us do so though."
"Roth and the old man's names carry a lot of weight. They were known for having some of the best crews out there and with Eric vouching for us that was all the captain needed." Came the explanation from Reyes.
Any further conversation was cut short as the sound of a boat motor cut through the air. The smaller vessel quickly pulled alongside them and a large man with tattoos and dreadlocks stepped onto their boat.
"Reyes, it's good to see you again. How the hell did you end up like this?" The man said, a strong Jamaican accent sounding through his words as he stretched out his hand.
Reaching out with her good arm Reyes clasped his outstretched hand firmly. "It's a long, crazy story, Eric. You have no idea how good it is to see a friendly face right now."
"Aye, I'm sure it will be quite the story, but it can wait until the morning. For now we have somewhat clean rooms, lukewarm showers, and we can find you some fresh clothes if you'll give us your sizes." Eric said, motioning for them to follow him onto his boat as his men came aboard the patrol boat. "The stories can wait until the morning after you have all had a good night's sleep. Although form the looks of it you should see our medical officer before you do anything else." His eyes running over Reyes' shoulder, Sam's arm, and just Lara in general.
"As much as I just want to go to sleep, that is probably a good idea. Someone needs to look at Sam's arm and that wound on Lara's side should be checked out as well." Seeing the look of surprise on Lara's face Reyes gave her a slight smirk as she continued. "You really think none of us noticed the way you've been holding that side? It'll be a small miracle if that thing isn't infected by now."
Lara opened her mouth to protest but seeing the worry that had appeared in Sam's eyes decided against it. "Well then, we better get over there if we're going to be taking a group trip to the medbay." Rising from her spot she boarded Eric's vessel before helping Sam down to the smaller boat. Jonah and Reyes soon followed, and once everyone was on board and the patrol boat tied behind them Eric started up the engines again and headed toward the ship that would carry them back to civilization.
As it turned out Reyes had needed the least amount of work done, apart from Jonah who had been remarkably unscathed. The gunshot wound was a simple through and through and had simply needed some antiseptic applied and the wound redressed and had left to the room her and Jonah had been given to get some sleep.
Sam had what was a relatively clean break on her left arm and had gotten her foot redressed along with a shot to prevent infection. After taking her first shower in days she had slipped into the clothes the crew had provided and was now back in the infirmary having decided to wait for Lara. The simple jeans and navy shirt she had been given weren't exactly her style but she wasn't going to complain when it was the first set of clean clothes she'd had in days, not to mention finally having a new pair of underwear.
For the moment though she was standing in the door to the medical office watching with amusement as Lara squirmed under the attention of the doctor. Lara had never been too fond of doctors to begin with and that was quite obvious watching the scene before her. They old man had taken one look at the shirts she'd been wearing under her vest and had immediately gone and gotten scissors to simply cut off the clothing that appeared stuck to her skin. The sight of her friend clad only in a her pants and sports bra squirming as the doctor went about his business as professionally as possible had been fairly amusing. The girl could climb a mountain in a blizzard without any sign of nerves but put her in an infirmary and she would fidget like a child. Her right arm had been cleaned and bandaged, and her entire midriff was now wrapped in bandages as well, and where as Sam and Reyes had gotten off with a single shot, Lara had gotten several due to the doctor's worry about infection.
"Your friend is quite amazing." The elderly doctor said, speaking in Japanese after Lara had left to take a shower of her own. "The fact that she was able to keep moving with those wounds is extraordinary."
Sam leaned back against the doctor's desk, idly playing with a pencil as she waited for Lara to return. "How bad was it actually?" She finally asked, almost afraid of the answer.
The doctor looked down at his chart for a moment before replying, "She had multiple scrapes and burns to various parts of her torso, arms, and legs, all of which should heal given time. There was a particularly nasty cut to her right arm that will scar as it appears to have been burned shortly after. And then there is her side…" Pausing for a moment as if to gather his thoughts, or maybe to just let everything sink in. "From what I can tell she suffered a puncture wound of some kind clean through her side, treated it, and reopened the wound multiple times before finally cauterizing it. That is in addition to the two cracked ribs I could feel. X-rays would be needed to be sure but I'm fairly certain that the first was several days ago while the second was quite recent, less than a day most likely. Just what happened to you girl out there?"
Sam was silent as she digested the information, thinking how just like Lara it was to hide how bad she'd been hurt. She'd rather be in pain than have others see her as a bother. Really though, the girl was amazing but she needed to learn to let others help her some, to not take everything on by herself.
"So do you know where they've decided to put us up for the time being?" Lara asked from the doorway, disturbing Sam from her thoughts and saving her from having to explain to the doctor what had happened. The younger girl was dressed similarly to the way she'd been on the Endurance, brown cargo pants and a simple gray V-neck shirt, her hair was actually down for once though.
"Well they only had the one spare cabin and Reyes and Jonah are there." Lara nodded at that, having insisted that they take the actual cabin instead of her and Sam had said she'd rather stay where Lara was. "Apparently there was an old office of some kind that they've been using as storage until now. They've cleared it out and put a mattress out on the floor for us to use."
"Where did they get an extra mattress? And for that matter, where did they get the clothes?" Lara asked, glad they had them but curious as to why they had them.
"Apparently their last stop was in Thailand and their shipment is mainly clothing, toys, and furniture, mattresses included. They reapropriated a few items for us to use, I already promised to pay the when we arrive at port in Tokyo." Sam answered as she moved over to where Lara was, grabbing her hand and pulling her out into the hallway. "Come on and I'll show you were we're staying, I was shown where we were staying after the doctor finished with me."
As they walked down the halls of the ship Lara took notice of the slight limp that Sam seemed to be walking with. "Are you sure your foot is alright?" She finally asked, not being able to ignore the discomfort her friend was showing.
Looking back at Lara, Sam shook her head in wonder, "This," she said, lifting her foot for good measure, "is perfectly fine, the wrapping just makes it awkward to walk on. Really you shouldn't worry about me, after all your in much worse off than I am." Stopping walking again she looked back at Lara, reaching back to rub the back of her own head. "And I just realized that wasn't the best way to have put that."
"Sam it's fine really." Lara said, touching the other girls arm to signal it was ok as the continued down the hall. "What I would really like to know is how a wolf got hold of your foot to begin with."
"Out of all that's happened that's what you want to know?" Sam asked only to get a shrug in response, sighing she continued on. "When the Endurance went down I ended up on a life raft with a couple of the crew, Paul and Ivan. Once we landed we stayed near the boat for a while but there was a call over the radio asking for help further inland and we decided the guys would go help while I stayed with the boat. If we had known how dangerous it was..."
Sam paused for a moment thinking back to that first night, and to make sure they were going the right way, before starting up a nearby staircase and continuing again. "I waited by the raft for several hours but never they never came back and there was nothing on the radio, so I decided to go look for them. Pretty stupid of me, right?" Sam asked, not really waiting for answer she carried on. "They had left me with a pistol so I took it with me, made it up to that temple you found me near when a wolf came running out at me." Stopping again Sam looked around reading the numbers on a nearby placard before turning and heading down the hallway.
"So it was a wolf, how did you get away then?" Lara asked, recalling her own experiences with wolves in that same area.
"In a way I didn't. When it came at me I panicked and started shooting at it but missed, pretty badly at that. It crashed into me, knocking me down, and apparantely decided it would be best to eat me from the feet up. Fortunately my boots were pretty tough and I ended up with a point blank shot at its head that even I couldn't miss and that was the end of it. My foot had good sized gash in it so I found somewhere to sit nearby and waited, hoping someone had heard the shot and was coming." Stopping outside a door she glanced at the numbers on it before reaching to open it. "The gunshots did help someone find me, unfortunately it was that evil bastard, I led him right to me. At that point I was so desperate to see another human that I didn't even question why I had never seen him before. He was taking care of my foot and had food and right then that was all I cared about. I made it so easy for him to take me."
"Sam.. It wasn't your fault it could've happened to anyone.." Lara began, tying to comfort her friend but was cut off by Sam.
"Maybe but it happened to me." Sam said, opening the door as she did so. The room wasn't spacious but there was a normal sized mattress there to take up most of the floor, complete with blankets and pillows, and right now that was all they wanted. As they stepped inside Lara could barely hear her friend's next remark, hardly louder than a sigh, "All I seemed to do was captured."
Stopping in the entrance Lara just looked at Sam wondering why she was being so hard on herself, none of them had known what to expect on that island. Realizing her friend had heard her she just shrugged, "What? It's true. Look its late let's just get ready for bed and go to sleep.
Preparing for bed was a simple process as all it entailed was taking of their pants and getting into bed, Lara set her pistol on the floor within easy reach. She shouldn't need it but just felt safer with it nearby. For a while they simply laid there in silence before Sam finally turned over on her right side to face Lara. "Lara, sweetie, if you're going to say something then just say it. Don't just lay there and overthink things."
"It wasn't your fault Matthias took you. There wasn't anyway to know what he was planning." Lara said, sitting up some to better see Sam.
"You never trusted him. From the beginning you were cautious about him." Sam countered.
"And what did I do? I fell asleep and let him walk out of there with you. I didn't even hear you struggling and wake up to help."
Directing her gaze downward Sam replied, "That's because there was no struggle to hear. He had taken my gun and forced me to go with him."
Lara's eyes widened slightly in shock, "Why didn't you make some noise to wake me up? I could've helped you.. I could've.."
"If I had done anything to alert you, you'd be dead Lara. The evil bastard was smart I'll give him that, it wasn't me he aimed the gun at." Sam said, watching as realization dawned on Lara's face. "It was you. If I had done anything against what he said he'd have killed you." Sam explained, her expression difficult to read in the dark, it appeared as if there were tears in her eyes though. "I couldn't let him hurt you."
"Oh, Sam." Lara said, reaching out and pulling her best friend close to her. "I was supposed to be the one saving you and yet you kept having to protect me from danger I never even knew was there." For a long while they just lay there like that, tears slowly rolling down Sam's face as Lara held onto her.
"I was captured several times as well." Lara said finally breaking the silence, Sam's eyes raising to meet hers. "You saw at the fire ritual, but before that they used the pilot of the rescue plane to lure me into a trap. The only reason I survived was because the Stormguard showed up and killed everyone. They must have though I was already dead and strung me up like the rest."
"Why are you.." Sam started to say but was cut off a Lara continued.
"That wasn't even the first time I was caught. Right after I landed on the island some psycho captured me and strung me up to sacrifice and I had to find a way to escape. And then after I found you the first time I was caught by the Solari. Several of the crew, Paul and Ivan among them, ended up sacrificing themselves so that I could escape." Lara said, her voice heavy as she spoke. So many good people had ended up giving their lives for hers. "That was first night I killed some one as well." Lara finally finished, her voice barely more than a whisper.
"Why are you telling me all this?" Sam asked once Lara finally stopped. While she had wanted to know what her friend had been through she had to question the timing.
"What I'm trying to say is that I was pretty useless too. I was captured several times, I got good people killed because I wasn't strong enough, and the only reason I survived a lot of what happened was sheer luck." Lara said, shame at how she had failed her crewmates evident on her face.
"Lara, sweetie, you had no idea what was going on. It wasn't your fault." Sam said, reaching out to tuck Lara's hair behind her ear. "And I guess that was you point, that it wasn't all my fault. Maybe so, but I still could've been more useful, gotten better at dealing with things like you did."
Lara shook her head at that, "I got better at killing, I don't want that for you."
"No, you got better at surviving. On that place having to kill was just part of it. None of us was able to get off that island without having to." At that Lara sat nearly straight up, eyes wide as she looked at Sam.
"You had to kill someone?" Lara asked, shock evident. She had thought that at least her friend had made it out of there without having to go through that.
"Hmm, you thought I made it out of there without having to fight?" Sam said, surprised at Lara's shock. For Sam the surprising thing wasn't that she had eventually had to kill but how easily she had been able to accept it. "The first one was when the Solari cornered me as I was escaping from the castle. After that I'm not sure how many, several got in the way as I was escaping and I have no idea how many I might have shot during the fight after I met up with Reyes, Jonah, and Alex." Rolling off of Lara and onto her back she stared at the ceiling for a moment. "I wasn't very good at fighting them to be honest. I would just keep shooting and hope I hit someone bad enough that they left me alone."
"Why didn't you say anything?" Lara asked, concerned as to why Sam hadn't mentioned this and as why she seemed so nonchalant about it.
"I guess it just didn't seem important. Everyone there was having to fight to survive after all. Me having to fight as well didn't seem anymore important that Jonah or Alex or you having to." Sam said, shrugging slightly as she did so. Having spent so much time as the Solari's 'guest' she found it a bit difficult to have any sympathy for them. "I think being stuck on Yamatai forced us to face the darkest parts of ourselves and we either had to accept it or go crazy…" Sam said, visibly wincing at how corny she had sounded. "Oh God, listen to me I sound like some kind of cute, Asian Doctor Phil."
Lara actually laughed at that, for the first time in days now that she thought about it. "Don't worry Sam I don't think you're in any danger of turning into Doctor Phil. Cute Asian version or otherwise." They both shared a laugh at that, relieved to be back on lighter topics. For a time they lay there just listening to the sounds of the ship, the pulse of the engine through the deck, the sound of waves witting outside. "I'm going to go back you know.. Back to Yamatai. It should be safe now with the storms gone and the Stormgaurd and Solari dead." Lara said finally, breaking the silence.
Sighing Sam nodded her head, she had been suspecting that Lara would want to return. Archeology was her passion and Yamatai was veritable treasure trove. "I know. We set out to find and study Yamatai. And last time I checked we've only finished half of that."
Looking over at Sam, Lara raised an eyebrow at her, "We?"
Nodding once more Sam replied, "We. I don't know about Reyes or Jonah but I will go back with you. It was my family that funded the expedition after all and I intend to see it through, wherever you go, I go remember?" Sam paused, thinking back to the promise they'd made after graduating from Cambridge. "Besides that place is just begging to be made into a documentary and there is no one better suited to do so than me." She finished, her voice sounding cheerful as she smiled back over at Lara.
"A documentary, huh? Well it's going take time to gather a ship and crew and everything else needed but I'm glad to know that you'll be there with me. Very glad." Lara said, a small smile on her face. The fact that Sam trusted her meant more to her than she felt comfortable saying. Pulling Sam closer to her, so that the older girls head was resting on her shoulder she finally settled back to go to sleep. "For now though let's just try and get some sleep now that we have an actual bed. We're going to be very busy from now on if we're going to be heading back to Yamatai."
Author's Note: So this is a new story I'm working on. I had intended to write several chapters before publishing but decided to go ahead and see what kind of response I'd get. I have plans to continue this through their return to Yamatai and add some more depth to some things from the game. Please leave a review and let me know what you think.