The Camera Loves You

By Asynca

Not that Japan generally operated on anything resembling standard business hours, but even so it was after them when we arrived at Nishimura Corp's technical studios. The building was on the outskirts of Ota, several stories high with the Nishimura Corp logo lit on the top of it. Despite the fact it was dark, there were still quite a number of people at work in the building when we entered.

I'd insisted we'd pick up a pair of crutches for Sam on the way there, but she'd only taken a few steps with them and complained they hurt her armpits. Instead, she opted to just wear the moonboot and finish off the codeine. She was still limping.

I had been expecting the other employees to mostly ignore us, except that I forgot I was with the boss's daughter.

It made me smile to myself when I thought about the fact they all assumed I was with her, and they were right. I glanced furtively at her as I carried the crate full of artefacts inside. My girlfriend, I thought, God, what an odd thing that was. I still felt like it might not actually be real.

The studio that Sam had had been granted was on one of the top floors, in the centre of the building with no air and no natural light. Alex would have loved it, I thought, and then was sorry that he wasn't around to appreciate it. I felt a familiar hole in the pit of my stomach on thinking about him. It wasn't as if I didn't have any experience learning how to manage without the people I cared about, but I didn't expect to find it as jarring the second time around. Even though he hadn't blamed me for what had happened and he certainly shouldn't have gone gallivanting onto the Endurance like that, I still felt guilty. He never would have been able to make that bad decision if he hadn't been on Yamatai to do it in the first place.

I put down the crate and cast my eyes around the small room. The first thing I thought was that both Sam and I could both fit under the desk and probably not be seen if someone was looking for us. I then had to ask myself what the point of that observation was when I wasn't in combat and no one was looking for us.

It did have the two things we needed: two media decks, both with three enormous screens beside each other. Aside from the several panels of sliders and buttons that I had no idea about, the decks had PCs connected so I was able to take notes and use online libraries and catalogues to check details I wasn't certain about. There was also probably enough space for us to drag a table in from a nearby office so I could get to work on the artefacts.

Sam already seemed to have a good idea about what was missing from the footage she'd taken, and while I was dragging in the table, she filmed my progress and was already half-interviewing me.

I'd spread out all the artefacts on table behind the media deck, and briefly borrowed her camera to film all their details. I could take screen grabs later for their files. I then sat down to get to work with Sam hovering around me.

"So, wait," Sam said, pretending she hadn't heard that information before. "You're saying there was a real, live dinosaur in that valley?"

"Sounds crazy, doesn't it?" I told her, squinting at the characters engraved into one of the fans. I took the camera off her again use the forward light to try and read them. I thought about how that whole scene had played out, including my conversation on the radio. "Larson wasn't surprised at all."

Speaking about him reminded me of being elbow-deep in his blood as I tried to revive him.

I gave the camera back to Sam, who added her two cents. "Well, I guess if your boss is a twenty-thousand year old who can fly, dinosaurs aren't that impressive."

I actually did smile at that as I typed some observations about the fan into Word. "He said something like that, actually. I mean, not exactly that, but because of her, nothing surprises him anymore."

Sam pulled up a chair and sat down beside me, her lopsided boots on the edge of the desk. She rested the camera between her knees. "Do you think he knew what she was planning to do?"

I thought about the conversations I'd had with him. "Yes," I said. "I think he knew something. When he helped me with the helicopter he said we'd all die if she succeeded, or something like that."

She was quiet for a few moments as she reflected on what I'd said. "I wonder what it was like for him," she said. "I heard what Pierre said about him."

I really didn't want to think too much about Larson, but at the same time I didn't really want to let myself get away with killing him by refusing to face what I'd done. Then again, how much of what happened was my fault, and how much had Natla expertly manipulated us into exactly that confrontation? That raised all sorts of other questions, such as whether I should have believed anything that came out of that woman's mouth at all. I should have known. God, what a headache.

"Sweetie, are you okay?" I snapped back to reality and waved my hand at her concern. She repeated, "Larson. I was just thinking about what it must have been like working for her for all those years."

I thought about her question, focusing on the fact he'd predicted his own death and didn't seem that fazed by it. "Pierre was right," I said at last, remembering that awful haunted look in his eyes when I'd mentioned that he was a father. "I don't think any part of him was happy to be working for her. I think he'd just given up." I wondered how much he must have gone through to get to a point where he just surrendered to her.

"Are you going to call her?"

I glanced at her for clarification. "Larson's daughter?" I asked, "I don't have any— oh, you mean Pierre's wife." The satellite phone was in my bag. That was another phone call I really wasn't looking forward to. "Yes, I will. No filming it, though. That's not fair to her."

Sam gave me a look over the LCD. "Come on, give me some credit."

I put the fan down beside the keyboard and sat back in my chair. I could still remember Roth's face when he told me that my parents had been declared missing. He'd flown all the way from Thailand straight afterwards to tell me in person, and good thing he had. I had been absolutely devastated, and had spent then next month desperately begging him to take me out there so we could look together. I don't know how I'd have taken that news over the phone.

"Imagine if I was dead," I said to Sam. She stopped recording. "Can you imagine being told over the phone?"

She looked unsettled by that question. "Are you saying we shouldn't tell her?"

I exhaled and shook my head. "No… I'd still want to know if I was in her place." I stood up. "Guess I should stop putting it off."

I'd tossed my bag into the corner, and I walked over to it to rummage around inside. The satellite phone still had half a battery left; I wished my iPhone had that sort of stamina. Before I could talk myself out of it, I selected Aurelie's text message. It was in French and I had no idea what it meant, but used the number from it to call her.

Sam closed the door to the studio and came to stand beside me so she could hear.

The phone hardly rang even once. "Pierre?" She had a warm voice, but she sounded really anxious. She started a torrent of French.

"Aurelie, wait—" I interrupted her, hoping that her English was as good as his. "It's not Pierre. My name's Lara, and I—"

"You're Lara Croft?" she said, switching to English with a gentle accent. I wondered what he'd told her about me. "Is he there? Is he with you?"

Sam and I looked at each other, and I scrunched up my face. This was it, I thought. Sam was watching me with a very sympathetic expression, her hand on my lower back. "No, he's not," I said slowly. I let that sink in for a moment before I said, "I have some bad news."

She fell silent. Even though the line quality in satellite phones was never fantastic, I could hear her take a breath before she spoke. "Pierre calls me every day," she said, her voice was more measured. "I know that his job is dangerous. He calls me every day to let me know he's alright." I didn't say anything, waiting for her to continue. "He hasn't called me for nearly a week. I already know what you're going to tell me."

"I'm so sorry," I said to her. Despite the fact every time I'd squared off with him he'd tried to kill me, I suddenly felt very guilty about shooting him in the thigh so the centaurs could get him. She didn't sound like the sort of person who deserved to have their husband die so young.

As if reading my mind, she said, "Did you kill him?"

"No," I said. "It's… hard to explain what did. I'm not sure you'll believe me."

Like Larson and the dinosaurs, she didn't even sound like she'd batted an eyelid. "You'd be surprised," she said. "Pierre was always in this line of work, even when I met him. I used to think it was exciting."

I wanted to ask her exactly what she meant, but I'd just told her that her husband was dead, and it seemed a completely inappropriate time to be prying. Instead, I just let her talk. It sounded like the first time she was saying any of this, and choosing me say it to seemed like a strange choice. I supposed that maybe I was her only link to him. Perhaps it wasn't that strange, after all.

"He changed after he started working for Natla Tech and I had my accident. He didn't think the two were related. I knew they were. That woman you both worked for… He never took my concerns about her seriously." She sighed. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be telling you this. Thank you for thinking to call me."

"It's okay," I said, curious about her thoughts on Natla. "I know what it's like to lose people close to you. I'm happy to listen."

I heard her take a muffled breath, but she smothered it. "He didn't like you, you know."

That wasn't the half of it. "Oh, I know. He made that very clear."

She chuckled at that. It was an odd sound to hear from someone who'd just learnt that their husband had died, even if she'd already had a week to come to terms with what had probably happened to him. "And yet you're still calling me? You're very nice."

A month or two ago, I'd have been happy to accept 'nice' as a compliment and give it no further thought. I wasn't sure that was still the truth, though. I wanted to believe it was, but did 'nice' people do the things I did? If I was really honest with myself, part of the reason I was calling her was also because I wanted to know more about Pierre and Larson. Was it okay to want that if I also wanted to do the right thing and reassure her?

"As I said, I've lost people, too. I thought you should know, instead of always wondering." I took a breath. "Natla's dead, too," I told her, guessing from her comments on Natla that she might be interested in knowing. "Perhaps that's some consolation."

There was a heavy silence. Eventually Aurelie said, "No, I don't believe it." Sam and I looked at each other. "That woman…" she said. "Did you actually see her body?"

I didn't understand her paranoia about it. "Why do you ask?"

"Pierre killed her once. Or, at least, he thought he had." I felt a familiar sense of foreboding growing inside me as she continued. "She invited him a meeting the following week, acting as if nothing had happened."

Beside me, Sam was clearly uncomfortable. I threaded my fingers through hers.

"He just…" she exhaled. "He used to be different. He became obsessed with her. When I pointed out what she was doing to him, he would just accuse me of being jealous. I…" she paused. "I don't know what he said to you. He was probably very rude. We used to have a lot of friends…"

It was cleared why she was talking to me, now. She had no one else, not anymore. That poor woman. I felt awful for wanting to get information from her, but it seemed to be serving a purpose for both of us to be speaking. I wondered if I could slip a veiled question in. "He mentioned that he and Larson used to be friends?"

"Larson Conway? Yes, a long time ago. Before Natla Tech employed them both." I stayed silent, hoping she would continue. She did. "He was a lovely man. He didn't deserve what happened to him."

For a second I thought that she meant that I'd killed him, but she couldn't possible have known about that. "No, he didn't," I said, meaning what I'd done. "But it's over for him, now."

She took some time to process that. "Well, at least he's with his daughter. Pierre said he never quite recovered after she drowned."

Sam raised her eyebrows at me. She was dead?

She was quiet again. "As much as this is the worst thing that could happen… This was the only way Pierre was going to find peace," she said finally, actually sounding relieved. "He's free, now, whether or not she's actually dead. We both are."

What a stark thing to say about someone she loved. So much must have happened for her to get to this point and I wanted to ask her about it, but it wouldn't be right. She'd said enough, I couldn't conscionably push her for more.

Sam rested her head against mine as we listened. I let the silence stretch out before I said, "Will you be alright?"

"You mean because of my back?" I didn't mean that, but I let her continue. "It's been years, now. I can get around without my legs. I'll be okay," She said, and added so warmly, "Thank you for telling me, Lara. I can imagine what he was like to you, but thank you for calling me anyway."

"You're welcome," I said, feeling awful for her. "I'm so sorry, I hope everything gets better for you."

"You, too," she said, and then the line went dead.

I stared at the phone in my hands.

Larson had given in to Natla, Pierre hadn't. Their lives were both ruined and they'd both ended up dead. What a monster she was.

"Can you maybe not make Pierre look like a total villain in editing?" I asked Sam. "I know he was a complete prick, but perhaps we can—"

"Lara," Sam interrupted me, emerging from deep in thought. "We actually didn't see Natla's body." She looked across at me with big owl eyes. "What we saw was her clothes burning and her sinking into the deep lava. What if Aurelie was right and she's not dead?"

Just the suggestion filled me with adrenaline. I took a deep breath to try and dissipate it. "You're scaring me, Sam," I said. "She was screaming. If it wasn't hurting her, why was she screaming?" I thought more about it. "I think it's normal for us to still be worried about it. But she's gone, we both saw it."

She didn't look convinced, but didn't offer any further argument. "I guess it's kind of hard to believe that I actually did it," she said. "I get what you mean, though. Like, there's a guy downstairs in a black jacket that looks like one of those Natla Tech ones all her men were wearing. When he turned around and looked right at me, I was like, 'Oh, my God! He saw me, he's going to catch me!'."

I put a comforting arm around her shoulder as we went back to the media decks. "You want to show me how you did do it?" I asked.

She reached across me to pick up her camera, and popped out the memory card to insert it into the reader in the PC. As it loaded, she put her hands over her face. "God," she said. "Like, I know I filmed all this for you, but now that you're here I'm kind of wondering if I want you to see it."

We sat beside each other into the chairs we'd been in before, but we had to share a pair of headphones by holding them between us. I took her hand again, leaning forward with my other one to cue the video. There was huge chunk of footage that was just from Egypt, it stopped in the corridors under the sphinx. There was a few seconds of Larson talking and the sound of gunfire. Shortly after that, Sam had stopped filming.

The next shot was her in the back of what looked like a small yacht. The frame started on her face. Her hair was wet and she'd obviously been crying. "I'm going to get you out of there, Lara," she said, voice ragged. "I don't have any fucking idea how, but I can't leave you with her." She checked her phone. "It's Tuesday," she said. "Five thirty in the evening. I don't know how long it's been, maybe two or three hours. This guy here seems to think he's got somewhere specific he wants to take me. He kept saying 'Pierre', 'Pierre' so I figure maybe Pierre was going the same place you're headed. It's not the same guy that was driving us the other day, though, but I think he works for Saeed. I don't know what's going to happen, but it's better than doing nothing. Anything's better than doing nothing." The footage cut out.

It was difficult watching her like that, I thought, looking sidelong at her as the next part started.

It was in the room we'd been in on Saeed's boat. Sam didn't look in much better shape, and this time she looked like she hadn't slept. "It's Wednesday, Seven in the morning. Saeed said that Pierre paid him to take him to some island in Croatia, so it must be where she's taken you, inside Atlantis." Someone knocked on her door and she stopped talking and stared toward it. After a few seconds I could hear footsteps disappear down the corridor. "These guys are creeping me out," she told the camera. "One of them asked me if I have any children, and he looked really happy when I said I didn't. It's so scary without you. I didn't worry at all when you were here with me, now I have to think about all this stuff, like is the door locked, what could I use to defend myself…" She looked away from the camera for a second. "It's so fucked up. Lara, I just don't know if I can do it without you. I can't even handle these guys, how the hell am I going to rescue you from her?" She blotted her eyes on her wrists. "Maybe I should just record some tragic declaration about how in love with you I am and email it to you, in case you somehow managed to get out of there and I don't make it. Then at least you'd know."

I paused the video and looked across at her. She had her eyes on the floor. "See what I mean?" she said, trying to dismiss it. "It seems kind of ridiculous now."

"No, it doesn't." I looked back at the freeze frame of Sam's face on camera. I wondered if she'd have even said that to me without the camera between us. "It's so good to hear you say it without joking about it," I said. "I know you mean it."

She looked up at me. "Lara, of course I mean it."

When she looked at me with that intensity, so openly and without her usual humour… I felt it. God, she loves me, I realised. This isn't at all about her sleeping with me because I'm handy and we both happen to be attracted to each other. It's more than that.

I leant toward her and touched my lips to hers. It was so gently that when she closed her eyes, I felt her eyelashes brush my cheek. In the quiet of the studio, I could hear each halting breath she took as our lips moved over each other. I pulled away for a moment and she whispered with her eyes still closed, "I never thought this would happen." Her breath tickled my chin. "I almost can't believe it."

I kissed her again, and one of her hands cupped my cheek. I reached between us and put my hand on her thigh, feeling the warmth of her skin through her trousers. She drew a ragged breath as I touched her. If only we were somewhere private. As we kissed, I murmured, "I want to show you how real it is."

"Lara..." Her hand fell from my cheek, and I could feel her undoing the buttons on the blouse I'd borrowed from her.

I stopped her. "Not here."

She sat back. Her cheeks were pink. "You want to go back home?"

I did, actually. "Don't you have video to cut?"

She made a face. "Yeah, and Dad's given me what is basically like five seconds to do it in."

I smiled. My hand was over hers on my blouse."There's no rush," I said. "Both of us are still going to be around later."

She nodded, and then smiled bashfully. "You still have another couple hours of me making a fool of myself to watch."

I squeezed her hand. "I'm looking forward to it."

The rest of the video diaries lead up to the entrance of Atlantis, and he last one was right before she entered. She didn't sound as upset as she had initially. Instead, she whispered to the camera, "Watch this," and snuck forward. Two of the men had gone up the corridor to speak to another, and Sam moved one of the torches so that the bar holding it threw a long black shadow against the wall. Then, she placed a deck of cards she'd found outside on the table. The men came back with a third, and one of the noticed the deck of cards. One of them bet the others he was a better poker player, and with that they were sitting down, dealing out the cards. Sam snuck along the black shadow to the corridor.

Meanwhile, my first thought was: three headshots, one, two, three. Close range, I'd catch them by surprise and I wouldn't miss.

I supposed that's why I usually ended up torn to shreds and she didn't. I could definitely afford to take a leaf out of her book.

"Shadows are the cheapest way to hide parts of a scene you can't get out of frame but don't want to show," she explained, sounding very proud of herself. "I spent six months with a camera in my hand learning how to hide other cameras and technical equipment actually in frame."

The most impressive feat by far was when she pulled on the anchor cord of a hanging brazier so that it spun. While the men were staring up at it, making comments about how much the place freaked them out, she did nearly a full circle around their feet and headed through another doorway.

"That's actually really clever," I told her as we continued to watch. "What do they call that? Plausible diversion?"

Soon after that she turned the camera off and there was no more footage of Atlantis.

I stopped the video. "You really did do it," I said at last. "Some of those things I would never have thought of in a million years."

She grinned at me. "Told you: I'm not just a pretty face." She then scrunched up her pretty face. "I've got to get stuck into editing," she said. "Or I seriously am not going to get it done. What time is it?"

I glanced at the PC. "Wow, nearly eleven."

"You don't feel like getting me coffee, do you?"

"I think I could do with one myself," I said, standing. "Double-shot?"

She nodded, popping out the memory card and rolling her chair around the desk to the other media deck. "There's twenty-four hour coffee shop just two doors up. The sign that looks like a frog."

Frogs and coffee, I thought, there's two ideas you're never ordinary associate with each other. I must be in Japan.

As Sam booted the PC and started fiddling with the deck, I exited the room and tried to find my way out of the building.

It was a bit chilly outside, but it was a welcome change to feel some breeze on my face after a couple of hours in that stuffy room. Before I went into the café Sam had told me about, I stood on the corner and looked around me.

The drinking crowd had already started to assemble in the restaurants around the building. Men and women in suits were talking animatedly and eating what was left of their dinners while they cracked out the alcohol. It was a Thursday night, and there was still at least another day of work for all of them before they could sleep off their hangovers. It was certainly a different set of people that you generally found out drinking in London.

I looked from face to face. Everyone looked so relaxed. There was something incredibly reassuring about people just going about their everyday business, content and safe.

I wondered what would have happened to them if Natla succeeded, or, for that matter, if Mathias had managed to resurrect Himiko.

It was a sobering thought.

In the café, the barista recognised me. Of course she did: Yamatai was a uniquely Japanese legend. "Lara Croft!" she said, pronouncing my name the Japanese way. I smiled. "Congratulations on finding Yamatai," she said in Japanese as she dried her hands and came up to the register. "My mother used to tell me the story of the story of Queen Himiko when I was a little girl. Now my daughter won't shut up about it. She's decided she's going to be a Sun Queen." She stood at the counter. "What can I get you?"

I thought about Sam nearly having been possessed, and decided not to tell the barista the details about how the Sun Queen actually ascended. "Two large lattes," I said. "Doubles."

She chatted as she prepared them. When she put them on the counter and I gave her my card, she apologised profusely and gave me a sheet of coloured note paper. "I'm sorry to ask this," she said. "But my daughter would love it if you would write something for her."

I stared at the piece of paper. It had a smiling sun motif in the corner. "Really?" I asked her, and she nodded. I accepted the pen.

I asked the daughter's name and then wrote her a short note. When I gave the paper back to the barista, she looked absolutely charmed. "It was lovely to meet you in person," she said, and then gave me two pastries to go with the coffee and refused to charge me for them.

As I walked out of the café with the paper bag and the coffees, I had a big smile on my face. Whether or not I deserved that little girl's admiration after everything that I'd done, I had found Yamatai and it did feel good to be recognised for that.

Sam was already hard at work when I returned, watching the video running on one screen occasionally pausing it to copy and drag sections to one of the other screens. When she dumped them, she quickly typed a few notes on each one that made very little sense to me.

I put the coffee on the desk beside her and placed one of the pastries on top of it. "You're a lifesaver," she said, and lifted the pastry for a moment to take a big mouthful of coffee. She abandoned them both to dump another section of video.

The video she'd just cut was of me shooting at the crocodile in St. Francis' Folly.

It was actually shocking to me how professional I looked. The way I was standing, the grip I had on the gun and my expression: I looked calm and determined. Considering I'd been completely terrified when it had happened, it was strange to see what I came across like on camera.

"Wow," I said. I watched her cut another section of me rolling out of gunfire in the coliseum.

Sam grinned. "I know, right? One hundred per cent badass. The viewers are going to love it." She looked back and me and gave me the once-over. "And," she said, "Can I say it? I'm totally hitting that."

I rolled my eyes at her and sat down to watch her as I drank my coffee. None of the footage she'd taken presented me as anything other than completely sure of myself. I couldn't look away from it. I liked that version of myself.

Sam wanted to keep working all night, but around two or three I just thought I'd rest my head back against the headrest of the swivel chair and I fell asleep.

Sam woke me up the next morning. "Hey, I've got a meeting with Marketing in like ten minutes. Did you want to go home and sleep after that?"

I stared at her. "You've finished already?"

She shook her head. "But I've got enough for them to come up with strategy and trailers for. I shouldn't be more than an hour. You can wander around if you want, no one will mind."

I had actually been thinking I might just go back to sleep. After she had gone, I couldn't, though. I was too stuck on that image of myself as a professional… whatever it was that profession would be called. Extreme Archeologist? I grinned at the thought.

I rolled over to Sam's computer and played a few of the scenes she had cut. It was just so odd to watch myself smoothly scaling everything as if it was no effort. I liked seeing it, and it reminded me of when I'd been barrelling through Yamatai screaming insults at the men trying to kill me. Sam didn't even need to cleverly cut the video for me to see it: I was good at this.

I didn't know how I would go back to desk work and bureaucracy. Despite everything awful that had happened, I found myself not wanting to go back to grant applications and carefully brushing over sand in cordoned-off sections of digs, not now I knew there was an alternative.

When Sam came back, she had a giant grin on her face. "They totally loved it, and they've given us 87 minutes next week, in both Japan and a couple of cable channels in the US. They're bumping a prime-time show for it." She looked absolutely delirious, but then winced as she remembered something. "Okay, don't kill me, though. Really dramatic titles attract viewers."

"'Really Dramatic'?" I asked, expecting the worst. "What are they calling the show, 'Archeologists Gone Wild'?"

She squinted and said gingerly, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

Well it wasn't that bad. I wasn't particularly fond of the insinuation that I was just going around helping myself to whatever I felt like from archaeological sites, though. Unlike Natla with Qualopec's belongings, I wasn't going to auction them to the highest bidder. I did actually intend to pass the artefacts on to museums and universities.

What the title did leave out was that fact I hadn't done it all by myself, though. "But what about you?"

She shrugged. "It's better to just focus on one person. I'm going to get a lot of attention anyway, just from the show." She put the memory card back into the PC and sat down in the chair again. "Plus, let's be serious, I either look completely incompetent or like a total snivelling wreck in most of the footage of me. I kind of don't want to be known as your weeping, tripping sidekick."

"You're not editing yourself out completely, though, are you?"

She shook her head. "No, there's a lot of audio." She set herself up to continue editing.

"Weren't we were going to go sleep?"

She put the headphones around her neck. "I'm just in a really good place right now," she said. "I think I can push out a couple more hours. If you want to take a cab home that's cool with me, though, you can get reception to order you one."

I wasn't going home without her, so I sat back in the chair next to her deck, watching her grab more chunks of video. "'Tomb Raider'," I repeated.

I thought back to Vilcabamba, and how much I'd enjoyed exploring it. I could have stayed there for days and still not being able to see and touch everything that interested me.

That was before anyone was trying to kill me or capture me, though. If I could somehow manage to avoid getting caught in anyone's tangled web… well, I could certainly see myself enjoying this sort of exploring just like I had in Vilcabamba.

"I'm really good at this," I said, still amazed by that fact as I watching cue a video capture of me leaping across a gap in the Folly.

"Yup," she said, inserting the video into another segment she'd already cut. "And," she played the full segment to me: it followed me along a beam and had me leaping across a gap in the wall, "I'm really good at this."

She waved her hands in a 'tada' motion, and I pretended to clap for her. Replaying it again, she made some small timing adjustments. "Marketing thinks it will have a kind of Blair Witch Project feel. No one will know whether it's real or not. Especially with the fact that Natla is missing and she's in this."

"Are they worried we'll get in trouble?"

Sam shook her head. "Who would believe two uptown girls would be able to save the world?" She added a colour filter. "They just think that it will look like we're taking current events and messing with them. Satire, I guess. I can make sure nothing too incriminating shows."

We got to the part where she had the camera pointed directly into Pierre's open midsection, and both sat away from the screen with horrified expressions on our faces.

"I need a filler for that," Sam said, quickly skipping past it. "I'll get you to stand in the middle of some big open area and explain what happened with dramatic music. If you're worried about Aurelie, you don't have to even talk about Pierre, you can just tell the viewers about the centaurs."

The image of Pierre gored was glued on the back of my retinas. "If I decide to keep doing this," I said, "what would you do if that happened to me? If you got that phone call I needed to make to Aurelie saying that you'd lost me?"

"Yeah, I'm not going to lose you," she said, saving her work in two different places and then spinning around in the chair to me as the computer shut down.

"What makes you so sure?"

"Because I'm going to come with you, silly." She kissed my nose as she stood up, adding, "And by the way, you don't have any say in it so you can't blame yourself next time I end up in one of these." She waggled the moonboot as she collected her bag and stood in the doorway. "Come on, let's go home."

Home, I thought as I followed Sam out of the building into the morning sunlight. I was looking forward to finding one with her.


Thanks to Ingleheim for her endless moral support and for often checking my chapters made sense. Thanks also for everyone who plot-picked, nit-picked or offered me feedback, both positive and constructive. Your input makes me a better writer and this a better story.

I have the same nickname on Deviant Art if you're interest to know more about my writing and what might be in the pipeline for Lara and Sam. Looking forward to continuing to entertain you!