Author's Note: So this took an annoyingly long time to write, first there was a lot real life stuff getting in the way then when I actually set down to write I found out that I was trying to push the story ahead to quickly and needed to slow it down and add an extra chapter in. So here you go, the latest chapter of Safe and Sound.
Safe and Sound
'Damn it,' she thought crouching behind a few barrels, 'How many of these bastards are there?' From her vantage point she could easily see yet another of the Solari that was trying to prevent her escape from the burning village. With no way to easily avoid him, she stepped out from behind the barrels to line up a clearer shot. A simple squeeze of her finger was all it would take to send this one to hell with the others.
Unfortunately the man chose that moment to reach for something on the ground and her shot sailed over him. "What the-" The man yelled, spinning around to face her, his own weapon rising. "You! Drop your weapon or I'l-"
Her second shot cut off whatever his threat was about to be as the bullet lodged itself in his gut. "You.. you bitch." He said from his knees, clutching at his belly as the blood pooled over his hands.
Walking over to him she picked his rifle up off the ground, as her pistol had only a few shots remaining. She made to leave before stopping and turning back for a moment, she raised her pistol level with the wounded man's head. No point in letting him tell anyone which way she'd gone after all, and it wasn't like they didn't deserve this after what they'd done.
Sam woke with a start, the crash from the storm outside coinciding with one from the gunshot in her own dreams having been enough to wake her. For a moment she just lay there thinking back to the memory she'd been dreaming about. She hated remembering those things, not because of what had happened to her but rather because of what she'd done. The fact that she had let her own anger at what those monsters had done to her, what they'd done to the crew, and what they promised to do Lara, control her for a time scared her. She didn't want to be that kind of a person, one that went out of their way to kill those she hated.
Looking over at the girl sleeping beside her she couldn't help but compare their actions, while they had both killed others, the reason's had been different. From what Lara had told her over the last two weeks she had never let her anger at the Solari guide her actions. With Lara it had been simpler, purer in a way; she had killed because they were trying to kill her and her friends. Sam only wished her own reasons had been as noble, she had just wanted to send those bastards to hell. It was like the difference between killing someone trying to hurt your family and killing someone for hurting your family. Whereas one could be called self-defense the other was closer to murder, even if the reason's behind them had been pretty much the same.
Laying here wasn't going to help though and she was pretty thirsty as it was. Disentangling herself from Lara's grip she made her way to the kitchen area of her flat. Lara and her had been staying here for close to two weeks, ever since being discharged from the hospital after they were sure they were clear of any infections or diseases. It was a fairly modest, one bedroom apartment, well modest by her standards anyway, one that she had purchased before the expedition as she wanted to be comfortable while they were doing the final preparations and research for the trip.
Getting a glass of water, she walked back toward the bedroom area, leaning up against the wall and watching Lara for a moment as she sipped her water. Seriously though, it had been a chore to get Lara to agree to stay here. It wasn't until Sam had pointed out that it was thanks to Lara she was able to buy this place to begin with. Being with Lara the last four years had done a lot to mellow Sam out from the rebellious, party girl she had been when they first met. And in turn her father had allowed her access to her trust fund again once he had been certain she had matured, a trust fund that was then used to purchase this place.
Still even after Sam's explanation Lara had insisted on sleeping on the coach. That had lasted only until the first nightmare had hit Lara, and after that Sam had insisted that Lara sleep with her. Lara had been dubious at first but seeing as she hadn't had a nightmare sense Sam felt vindicated that she's been right about the subject of her friend's nightmares. Well it wasn't that hard to figure out, what with her calling out her name and everything. It was too bad the same remedy didn't seem to keep out her own bad dreams.
Glancing over at the clock, which seemed to delight in telling her it was way too early to be up, she decided it was best to try to get some more sleep. After all, they had what was hopefully the final meeting with her father later and she needed to be awake for that. Settling back into the bed carefully, she scooted back so that her back pressed into Lara. Feeling her friends arm reflexively wrap itself around her she smiled as she settled into go back to sleep, a girl could definitely get used to this.
"So are there any questions?" Mr. Nishimura said, leaning back some as he observed his daughter's younger friend. He appeared to be a stereotypical representative of a middle aged Japanese businessman with his perfectly styled haired, tailored suit, and perfect manners. However, whereas many his age would have been on the portly side he was still remarkably fit given his age. His English was flawless as well, with only a slight accent giving away that he wasn't a native speaker, an accent that he affected on purpose to disarm foreign business rivals if Sam was to be believed.
"I can't believe you were able to get them to agree to all this." Lara said reviewing the documents he had set before her. "And so quickly as well. I thought this would take longer."
"Well given that father here plays golf with the Prime Minister on the weekends, it's not all that surprising." Sam said, giving her father a slight smile. Even if she said that she was still impressed he had been able to get this done so quickly.
Shaking his head he answered his daughter, "That's not true Samantha. I do not play golf with the Prime Minister, not since he was elected anyways." He finished with a slight smirk, getting a laugh from his daughter in response.
Lara looked up from her notes to watch the two, it was rare for her to her friend's father and it was fascinating for her to see them together. Despite Nishimura-san's appearance as someone who would be very serious he was actually quite lighthearted, at least around them. Honestly, with the exception of his manners, his personality was more of what she would expect from an American businessman than a member of Japan's elite. In her opinion that just went to show how inaccurate stereotypes could be.
"So to summarize all of this," Lara began, holding up the stack of papers he had given her. "Japan has agreed to finance my expedition to Yamatai and release the Black Wave to me, in exchange for me giving up any property claims I might have on Yamatai and agreeing to sign a non-disclosure agreement about why the Japanese military was really on the island."
Seeing the disbelief in Lara's eyes Sam set her hand on Lara's shoulder rubbing it gently. "You've got to realize how bad it would look if it became known that Japan was trying to find a way to control the weather. Even though it happened a long time ago, and most people won't believe it's possible, Japan would still be ridiculed because of actually sending and losing a lot of resources and men for it. Can you imagine what you would think if you just heard that story on the news? It would be a huge embarrassment for the country." Sam explained, enjoying the chance to show off her knowledge of her area of expertise to Lara for a change.
"Samantha's right, and then there is still the matter of the island itself.." Mr. Nishimura said, picking up where his daughter had stopped. "Due to it not having happened in recent history the property rights are unclear regarding the discovery of new lands. By surrendering the claim to any rights you might have had as heir to the expedition leader, you allow Japan to make a claim on them due to my family being Japanese citizens and pressing our own claim as the financial backer of the expedition."
Lara nodded in understanding; she hadn't really considered the wider implications her discovery would have on the world as a whole. And the fact that Roth had named her the primary benefactor in his will had been a shock to her, still she intended to make sure most of that went to Reyes and her daughter. The island claim though needed to be taken care of quickly so she could only hope she was doing the right thing.
"Still what I'm receiving in return seems to be worth far more than what they're getting." Lara said, the Black Wave alone was worth several million pounds, being one of the fastest non-military ships out there, and that wasn't even taking in the cost of funding her expedition.
In response to this Mr. Nishimura actually laughed. "You are seriously undervaluing the value of property rights to an island that covers roughly 400 square miles. Land is one of the most valuable resources in the world and the most conservative estimates would put the value at several hundred million, and that's without factoring in the ruins and artifacts you'll be uncovering." No, if anything the girl was being severely under-compensated for her works. Well, luckily half of the island was now under his ownership so he would have to see about making sure she got what she deserved.
"Umm.. Lara, sweetie, I think you missed something on here." Sam said, pointing her finger at one of the documents she had been reading. "According to this you're to receive a finder's fee as well. Hmm… About ten million pounds if I'm doing the conversion right." Sam finished, looking up to see a shocked Lara staring back at her.
"Ten million pounds? Whatever for?" Lara asked incredulously, this couldn't possibly be right.
"How about for discovering a previously lost culture and an entire island kingdom? Or perhaps the remnants of a World War II Era base? Or most importantly of all, at least to me, saving my daughter's life?" Mr. Nishimura said, as amusing at it was to see the girl blush in embarrassment as he listed her accomplishments he was tired of her devaluing what she had done. "Then there's the matter of stopping the resurrection of an ancient queen and ending the storms that have brought death to thousands over the centuries."
Lara sat in silence at that, when it was put that way it was hard to argue with him. Still all she had been doing was trying to survive and save her friends, the rest was coincidental. There wouldn't be in point in trying to argue that though. "I'm still having a hard time understanding how you believed our story so easily."
That got a slight chuckle out of the man, "You would be surprised what I'm willing to believe, even more so when it's my own family we're discussing."
There was something there that Lara wanted to question but she decided not to push it for the time being, sighing she reached over for one of the pens on the desk. "Right, so where all do I sign?"
"Look on the brightside, sweetie, at least with the money they're giving you, you can have the retrofits done on the ship without having to use what your family left you." Sam said, trying to cheer her friend up some, although why anyone needed cheering up after receiving a large sum of money was beyond her.
That was true at least, while the Black Wave was a good ship, it had last been being used to harass illegal whaling operations. The only reason the Japanese government had it was because the crew had slipped up and attacked a legitimate fishing fleet by mistake and gotten the ship impounded. It would take a few months to get the renovations she wanted done but once they were she would have the best salvage/exploration ship to ever set sail at her disposal, although she would definitely be changing the name once it was ready.
The rest of their day had been sent signing various documents and then getting in touch with an old friend of Grimm and Roth's that would oversee the retrofit. While Lara had a general idea what was needed she needed someone to oversee the more specific aspects of it. Once that had been taken care of they had headed back to Sam's place to rest, or that was at least what Lara had thought they went there to do.
"Oh, come on, Lara. It's practically required that we go out and party after the day we've had." Sam said, trying to persuade her friend into hitting the town with her. Hey, while she might be a lot more mature than when she first met Lara, she still loved to have a good time.
"Sam, no. I'm too tired to go out." Lara responded, really the last thing she wanted to was go out and be around a lot of people right now. "Besides aren't we both still under doctor's orders to be resting?" She finished, looking pointedly at Sam's arm that was still covered in a cast up to the elbow.
"Oh you mean like how you're not supposed to be doing any stretching or strenuous activity for at least 2 more weeks, yet still get up at 6:30 to do yoga every morning?" Sam countered, enjoying the look of surprise that Lara had.
"How do you know about that? You're always still asleep!" Lara protested, she was always very careful to avoid waking her friend up.
"Because it takes you about 15 minutes every morning to get out of bed since you try to get out of whatever tangled excuse for a sleeping arrangement we're in, without me knowing." Sam said with a smile, she had to say, seeing Lara blush crimson was even better than surprising her.
"Wha- How.. how do you know about that?" Lara said, stumbling over her words in embarrassment.
"Please, I might be a heavy sleeper but even I would notice when my pillow starts moving." Sam said.
"I'm not your pillow." Lara said indignantly.
"Not always, sometimes I'm your pillow." Sam fired back, laughing at the expression Lara had at the moment, something between shock and guilt. "So what do you say we got out and find you a cute guy to use as your pillow for tonight then?" Sam suggested, bringing the conversation back around to her original topic.
"Sam, no. I'm not in the mood." Lara said, hoping that this time Sam would let the matter drop.
"A cute girl then?" Sam said, she had set that one up perfect and Lara had walked right into it.
"That would be the better option but the answer is still no." Lara muttered half under her breath as she lay back on the bed.
"Yeah that's what I thou-" Sam said, stopping mid-sentence as her mind processed what Lara had said, "Wait. Did you just say you prefer girls?"
Smirking slightly Lara answered, "Yeah I did. Weren't you listening?" It felt good to actually be able to get one up on Sam for once. "Surprised?" She should probably be more concerned with how Sam would react but she had seen her friend date both men and women so she doubted she cared much.
"What? But for how long? I mean why didn't you ever tell me before now?" Sam said, seriously this was huge, she had been trying to figure out this girl's sexuality for ages and was just about to conclude she was asexual.
"I don't know. I guess it never came up?" Lara tried; even she knew that probably wasn't going to work.
"Oh bullshit. There's plenty of times you could have mentioned this." Sam said, trying to figure out why her best friend had kept this from her.
"I'm not sure really. I knew that you wouldn't treat me any different, so it wasn't anything like that. I just never really felt comfortable bringing it up, even if I knew nothing would really change it still felt like things would have to change." Lara said rushing over her words, before reaching up to rub her forehead. "Does that make any sense at all?"
"Yeah, some. I mean, there had to be a better way to say it but I get it." Sam said as she plopped down on the bed beside Lara. "So what made you decide to tell me know? You know I wasn't actually being serious about finding you someone to spend the night with, right?"
"I know that. And I guess I just felt it wasn't as big a deal after all we went through on Yamatai. Besides given that you're bisexual I kind of doubted you'd make a big deal out of me being a lesbian." Lara explained, despite everything she had said though she was still a bit nervous.
"Well you were right about that. Mostly I'm just pissed that you didn't tell me sooner and I wasted all that time trying to set you up with guys, I guess I can stop doing that now?" Sam replied, smiling as Lara nodded more exuberantly than was probably required. Still there was one question that she just had to know the answer. "So who was the girl?"
"What girl?" Lara asked suspiciously.
"The one that made you realize your feelings. I know you pretty well and it must have been someone special to make you realize and acknowledge what you felt."
Lara just lay there in silence for a minute, pondering what to say before finally speaking up, "You're right. Of course, you'd be right, you know me better than anyone. It was the summer before I started college, I spent most of that summer doing relief work in Haiti with Roth." Lara began, her eyes half closing as she remembered the memories from what seemed like a lifetime ago. "There was this girl there, half-Pilipino, half-American and just gorgeous, and we ended up being friends and things just escalated from there. Her name was Emily and while it took a while, she was the one to finally get me to admit how I felt. After that we ended up spending that whole summer together."
"So what happened? Why did you separate?" Sam asked as it was pretty obvious they weren't still together, besides she was curious to know more now that she had finally gotten her friend to open up.
"No real reason." Lara said with a shrug. "We both knew that our relationship would end once the summer did and we had to return back to our regular lives. It was definitely the best summer I had ever had, well at least until I met you." Lara said, giving Sam playful shove.
"Thanks I appreciate that… even if I'm not sure if I believe you. So, no regrets?" Sam asked. Yeah she was probably pushing the limits of what was acceptable to ask, but it was rare to get Lara to actually talk so open like this, so who could blame her? While Lara wasn't exactly anti-social with her she still rarely talked about her own thoughts or feelings, unless it concerned archaeology
"None, I enjoyed our time together. And if nothing else I have a great memory of Roth's face when he walked in on us making out." Lara said, smiling as she remembered the expression he'd had.
"Pretty shocked, was he?" Sam asked, envisioning the scene and Roth's reaction.
"Yeah. He took it well though, just told me to remember to lock the damn door next time." Lara said, she had always been grateful Roth had taken it so well. It was much easier for her to come to terms with, when her father figure supported her unconditionally. "So knowing all this doesn't change anything between us, does it? You're not going to request I sleep on the couch or something?" Lara asked teasingly, although in reality she was a lot more nervous than she let on.
"Of course not, as far as I'm concerned your still the same Lara I knew before. Something like this isn't going to do anything to change that." Sam said, meaning every word of it. She had suspected Lara's orientation for a while so it wasn't that big of a surprise. Most of her shock had been from the cavalier way Lara had acknowledged it. As far as she was concerned, the only impact this had on their friendship was that now there was the possibility that if she chose to act own growing attraction to her best friend that Lara might actually be open to the idea. Still that was of no consequence right now, she had no plans to act on those feelings anytime soon afterall.
Author's Note: So if you want to get an idea of what Sam's apartment looks like think of Kirika and Mirielle's place from the anime Noir, and if you haven't seen it then go watch it, it starts slow but the last 6 or 7 episodes are great.
Oh and review please, I like those a lot more than I probably should.