Reverse Epitaph

Summary

"Anything worth doing is worth doing well."

There are times when sacrifice is just the beginning.

Disclaimer: Neither Tomb Raider nor anything relating to that franchise is mine.

I.

In perhaps their most important find of the decade, Japanese archaeologists have recovered 33 bronze mirrors from a third-century A.D. keyhole-shaped burial mound in the Yamato region in central Japan, stirring debate over a mysterious country called Yamatai and its enigmatic queen, Himiko.

With a green Sharpie, I highlighted all the text after Yamato region then cursed under my breath;

this textbook did not belong to me. Bollocks.

" I got you that laptop for reason, you know"

"I prefer written words to electronic ones." My head remained down, pretending to concentrate on the article I'd studied twice already.

"You're so old school. It's adorable."

I glanced up with a wry smile. Of the two of us, Sam had always been far more, shall we say... effervescent and this morning she was particularly bubbly. I hadn't the foggiest how she managed to exude so much chipper without caffeine. Only with multiple several-shot espressos could I pass for "civil" in the AM hours, and no one in their right mind would ever posit I had the capacity to be "bubbly"

"Do you know what day today is?"

She was standing in front of me, beaming. I leaned back and realized I'd been sitting on the edge of my much too firm seat hunched over the myriad of publications for much too long. I felt a distinct pop somewhere in my lower lumbar and with my hands arched above my head, extended the stretch.

I heard a low, impressed whistle. Sam was filming.

"You sure are flexible."

"Yes, all archaeologists are." I countered. She giggled lightly. "You still haven't answered my question though."

"Today is Tuesday, I replied blandly, "which means I have two more weeks until my dissertation is due and..."

"Oh God Lara, if I had a dollar for every time you bring up that paper, I'd be richer than my dad!"

I knew she was being playful but I couldn't tamp down the twinge of ire I fired at her briefly before closing my eyes and raking my hands through my hair.

Even without looking at her, I knew she was gravely aware of how she'd touched a nerve.

"I'm sorry. I know this stuff is your life's work and everything you've put into it and how incredibly important it is to you." Subdued, not as ebullient. "But you should take a break every now and then. Like today, for example."

When I opened my eyes, Sam was still there. Her lips held a soft smile and she gestured to the rather large yet neatly wrapped box sitting on the table. It was pink, a colour I despised, but somehow she'd happened to find a hue that wasn't simply awful. After my outburst, however, I felt awful, not to mention completely undeserving of any sort of gift from her.

"Sam," I began but she reached over, pulled off the bow, and plopped it on my head which startled me into silence.

She then began to warble horribly but purposefully off-key:

"What day is today? It's Lara's birthday- What a day for a birthday- Let's all have some cake!"

This time, I burst out laughing and she followed suite. Unfortunately, this earned us both a severe glare from the octogenarian librarian who also thought it necessary to stab the "Quiet Please" sign on her desk with a wizened old finger for good measure. At this, we both hastily attempted ( and failed) to stifle our highly disruptive giggling.

We were then asked to leave the library.

"Maybe I should just take this amazingly thoughtful present back to the store." she mused aloud while carrying the roseate package. "You were kinda harsh earlier." Her half-hidden grin belied the pseudo-indignant front she was endeavoring to maintain.

"You certainly enjoy rubbing it in."

"Just making sure you're properly chastised. Although I might be able to think up a penance of some kind." Her smirk was wicked.

"I shudder to think. Now are you going to let me open that or not? Today is my birthday, in case you forgot."

She nearly dropped the box, whipping around so fast to chide me and swat at my head. I tauntingly evaded her assault, dancing just out of her reach.

"You forgot your own birthday!" she admonished loudly, clearly trying to embarrass me. I shrugged and made a go for the package. She dodged my swipe, and then held it just above my head.

She dangled it there, obviously relishing the slight height difference between us.

I groaned. "Come on, that's not fair."

A flash of the same wicked smirk, but she did hand it to me. I peeled back the non-hideous pink paper and unearthed whatever was in there from practically a pound of bubble wrap that Sam promptly snatched from me and immediately started popping with gusto. I held the contents aloft and my voice caught in my throat. I could barely express my gratitude.

Once I finally found my voice, I feared it would break from the weight of so much emotion. "Sam, it's perfect. Thank you so much."

She had gotten me a stylish full-grain leather rucksack with one front pocket, two side pockets, and a spacious inside compartment, complete with a zipped back pocket for extra security. This alone would have been far and away one of the greatest anythings I had ever received, but the second item outstripped any others. Inside the pack was a leather journal. It was exquisitely fine-crafted from hand-tooled Italian leather dyed antique brown with a simple, single monolithic latch. On the bottom right of the cover were the letters LC and when I turned it over, I swept Sam up in a hug that shocked us both. Embossed on the back:

Illis qui obliviscuntur historia

"Those who forget history."

And I hugged her tighter.