Hey whoa a new story?! Shouldn't I be working on Clintasha week?! Well I just beat Tomb Raider (96%!) and I had a sudden surge of inspiration! So you're getting this. BUT, as a side note, I really do need a beta for the rest of the prompts; I apparently suck at self editing. If anyone betas or knows a good beta, message me and I'll get the rest of the prompts out in no time! Thanks, no on to the story!
"How are you feeling today Lara?" It was the same question Dr. Nakamura had been asking ever since she had been assigned to be her therapist.
3 months ago, she would not have said a word.
2 months ago she would have said "Considering I haven't smashed your face in and ran out that door?."
1 month ago, she would have forced a grin and tried not to break down.
But today, she gave a tired shrug, "Still can't get through a full night of sleep."
Her therapist looked her in the eye, "There is medication to help you sleep, you know." Like a script, she already knew what her patient would say.
"Doctor," Lara sighed, attempting to rub the fatigue out of her eyes, "I WILL NOT rely on drugs. If I needed them, you would have prescribed them to me already."
"Right." She conceded easily, "It was the nightmares again, correct?" She flipped open her legal pad to a free page,
"If you already know why do you bother asking?" Lara ground out, before Nakamura sent her a piercing stare,
"I am asking because you need to talk about what you witnessed on that island, crazy or not."
Lara breathed in before slowly exhaling through her nose, "Right." She murmured before tilting her head to rest on the back of the couch she was sitting in,
"It was about Grim this time," She closed her eyes, torn between wanting to push the memory away and reliving it so to not forget what he sacrificed,
"It wasn't a nightmare so much as a memory," She chuckled darkly, "but these days it's getting harder to distinguish nightmare from reality."
"The dream Lara," Nakamura pressed, "was it any different from what had actually happened?"
"No, it was exactly the same," Lara stressed, "I was on another platform. Some bastard had Grim by sword point. A machete I think. Told me to drop my weapons or they would kill him. Then-" Her voice hitched. Nakamura patiently waited until the young woman collected herself. In all her years she had never met a person who was so obviously past their breaking point but held onto their sanity with an iron grip. Pity and respect surged through her, but she let none of it appear on her face, choosing to look as impassive as possible.
"Then." Lara sighed, "That old piece of work. He headbutts the man and grabs the machete. Slams it into another mans head and tackles the last man into a wall." She laughs as she throws an arm over her eyes. This action surprised the other woman; in the past three months, Lara had only ever been a mask of indifference, anger, and fear. Not once did she laugh. The laugh soon became a choked sob,
"Fuck..." She rested her elbows on her knees and buried her head into her hands, "Fucking old man... Why did he fight back..." Her body shook. Her therapist noted with interest her reactions. She had spoken about Angus Grimaldi before. In fact, after much persuasion, Nakamura knew about all three of Lara's dead crew mates From what she gathered from the notes on the other surviving crew members, Nakamura always assumed that reliving what had happened to Conrad Roth would be the trigger for her breakdown, not the helmsman.
"From what you have told me," Nakamura began softly, "Those men on the island had lost their minds long ago. They would not have let Mr. Grimaldi go if you had dropped your weapons. You know that. Mr. Grimaldi knew that. He did what anyone would have done when faced with their own mortality." Lara did not make a sound, but her body had yet to stop it's shaking,
"I should've killed them." She said with disturbing clarity, "They were in my sights. All three of them. If I had killed just one of them, they would have focused on me-"
"You are not the terrifying killer you make yourself out to be." Nakamura interrupted, "You are human. And a good one at that." She ignored Lara's snort at that comment, her eyes still hidden beneath her palms,
"I believe that deep down you wanted to believe that they would let go of him. You wanted to see the good in those men because you did not want kill them."
"It was not a matter of wanting to kill them." Lara growled, "I HAD to kill them."
"Exactly." Nakamura interjected again, "You HAD to kill them. It was a matter of survival and in the period of time that you were trapped there, you had to survive." She leaned forward, "But in that moment, you wanted to do more than survive. You wanted to save them. Save Mr. Grimaldi, save those men-"
"From myself!" Lara argued.
"What kind of person would save the people who terrorized them, brutalized them, took an almost sadistic pleasure in trying to kill them?" Nakamura pushed forward,
"A good person. That's who." Lara growled,
"Decent people do not do what I did, let alone anyone good."
'Finally, something I can work off of.'
"Do you know why I decided to take you on as my patient?" Nakamura asked.
"Because Sam's parents have you on their payroll?" Lara snorted, finally deciding to lift her head and look the woman in the eye.
"No. As the head of the psychiatric department here, I'm too valuable to fire just because I rejected one person." The older woman shrugged easily, "I took you on because in that one hour where you did nothing but stare at me as I asked you why you thought you were here, you looked haunted." This time Nakamura rested her elbows on her knees, legal pad temporarily forgotten. She rested her chin atop her interlaced fingers,
"There was so much regret and pain in those eyes. Even now, if you look long enough the hurt is still very much there." She leveled her gaze at her, "Sociopaths and mentally unstable people would not regret doing what they had done. Bad people would have shot those men at the cost of potentially losing Mr. Grimaldi's life. Bad people would not have cared if Mr. Grimaldi had survived, they would not have felt grief at losing Mr. Roth or Mr. Weiss. A bad person would not have tried nearly as hard to get the people they felt responsible for, home. You, Lara Croft, are suffering from the weight of what you had to do to survive. You are good."
Dr. Nakamura adjusted her glasses and watched Lara absorbed what she had said, "And I so desperately want you to believe that and move on from this crisis Lara. Now," She picked up her abandoned legal pad, "I apologize but it seems that we've gone off topic. Explain the dream again so that we can take that apart."
Sam was just getting out of the shower when Lara entered the building. Sam's family in Tokyo offered the survivors their nephew's old flat as a temporary living space while they were all checked out and evaluated. Sam's father insisted that they stay to recover from their wounds, a request that Lara very reluctantly agreed to after receiving over a dozen different shots and immunizations. The flat was rather spacious; not surprising since Sam's family had been living off of old money for as long as the documentarian could remember.
"Little bird!" Jonah boomed from the small corner in the kitchen. Or, perhaps it just LOOKED small next to the hulking Samoan. "Sit down, I was just about to finish up lunch!"
Lara took a seat on the bar and heard the light footsteps of her best friend. Small arms appeared from behind her and settled comfortably around her waist,
"So how did it go?" Sam asked as she went on her tiptoes to rest her chin in the crook of the other woman's neck.
"Mmm." Lara shrugged noncommittally, "Getting better." Sam squeezed in encouragement before hopping away.
Lara saw Jonah blush as soon as she heard the tell tale swish of Sam's towel dropping to the floor, "God, Sam! I thought we agreed on using the bedrooms as changing rooms!"
There were two bedrooms, but the survivors of the S.S. Endurance chose to sleep together in the large living room instead. No one ever slept more than a few hours at a time, but they learned after the first night that sleeping together was the only way any of them could be comfortable enough to even attempt sleep.
"Just don't look!" Sam sang as she sifted through the bags in the back corner. Everyone had their own ways of coping. For Jonah, it was cooking every recipe his Mama had ever made for him. Reyes made a habit of visiting the shooting range as often as possible; an activity that scared Lara for awhile. For Sam, it was maxing out every credit card she owned, then activating new ones.
The woman in question was busy sifting through a lingerie bag in search of some underwear, "I know I bought this really cute lacy tho-"
"Sam!" Jonah begged, blush visible even on his deeply tanned skin, "Stop giving me mental images girl." Sam only giggled as Lara reached over the bar to pat the man's mohawk in amusement.
Eventually Sam appeared by Lara's side in an expensive looking button up tank top and high waisted pinstriped shorts; a stark contrast to Lara's conservative tank top and skinny jeans. She hopped up onto the stool just as Jonah gave each of them bowls of what looked like a creamy salad with raw pieces of fish.
"Oka! Just how my Tina used to make it!" He beamed as he shoveled a large spoonful into his mouth.
Sam and Lara shared a glance before Lara shrugged and took a tentative bite.
"Good." Lara offered a small smile to the cook before taking a more confident bite.
Sam and Jonah then went into an animated debate about Sam's changing habits, with Sam accusing Jonah of being a prude while Jonah argued that he couldn't so much as walk around shirtless without being teased. Which then evolved into a lengthy conversation about tattoos and appropriate places to have them.
Lara for her part quietly ate her lunch while basking in the atmosphere. Out of the four of them, Sam and Jonah made the biggest effort to instill a sense of normalcy back into their lives and Lara at least appreciated the outside noise. The young Brit quickly finished her meal and walked over to the sink,
"I was thinking about going over to the library, maybe read up on some Japanese mythology." That was how Lara coped. When she was not working her body to the bone in the gym a few blocks down the street, attempting to feel normal with her friends, or talking to Nakamura, she was neck deep in texts from the library at Tokyo University. She needed to be busy and there was something cathartic about reading up new mysteries and imagining the ancient knowledge housed there.
"Just remember you have to get back before we take Reyes to the airport." Jonah shrugged as he grabbed some more food from the pot.
"Then I'll be back soon." Lara waved as she slipped on the tennis shoes Sam bought for her, still missing the security of her old hiking boots.
The second the archaeologist left the building, her phone vibrated. Sam's face pressed up against the screen appeared.
Hey when you get back can we talk? Youve been getting distant again :( You know you can talk to me right?
Lara frowned. She supposed she had been spending a lot of time in her own head lately. She typed up a quick response,
Of course! Sorry, still learning to deal...We'll talk later k?
Sam's response came quickly,
K :3 No running late just cuz you dont wanna talk to reyes before she leaves!
Smirking, she pocketed the phone and walked onto the sidewalk. As she maneuvered down the busy streets of Tokyo, Lara tried her best to appear normal. On more than one occasion she would jump ever so slightly as a random stranger bumped into her, brushed her hand against where her holster would be whenever someone yelled, held back the urge to duck under cover whenever she felt like someone was staring at her.
'I am safe. I am safe. I am safe.' Lara chanted to herself.
She still needed to figure out how to turn off Survivor Lara, and with each day she has made this walk, she feared that there might not be an 'Off Switch'.
She was brought out of her musing as she walked up the steps of the campus. Even in another country, the feeling of being on campus always brightened her day. The vast caches of knowledge stored on a good campus, the studious nature, it brought her back to an easier time in life. The students were on summer break so it was easy to casually navigate through the large pathways and take in the architecture. But of course, in a country that prided education, there were still a sizable amount of the student body milling about,
"Wow! A foreigner?"
"She's been around for awhile now. Maybe a transfer?"
"Who cares, she's hot!"
Lara's ears burned and she wished she did not tie her hair up in her regular ponytail. Being a polyglot had it's downsides. But really, she mused, being a European in an Asian country pretty much guaranteed sticking out like a sore thumb. Feeling self-conscious, along with the rising feeling of paranoia, Lara changed her course and made a beeline for the library.
Eventually the tall structure of the general library came into view and Lara sighed in relief. Walking into the air conditioned building, Lara took in the sloping archways, the marble columns, the intricate stonework and the indoor balconies. She did not need to be an architecture major to find beauty in the design.
Nodding at the man at the front kiosk, Kousuke if she remembered correctly, she made her way to the elevator at the end of the hall. When she reached her floor, the nagging feeling at the back of her head returned and she could not help but ease out of the elevator and run her eyes down either side of the corridor.
'There's nothing here Lara.' she argued with herself and her mind had a point. The aisles were empty, with a lot of the students opting to study in the individual rooms that framed the floor.
'This is ridiculous.' She rolled her eyes. She would not ruin her peace of mind just because some guys had been checking her out.
Shaking aside her growing apprehension, she strode over to the ancient mythology and easily picked up the book she had been finishing up the night before and grabbed three more from Peru, Greece, and Africa respectively. As she walked over to a table, she felt her body surge with adrenaline. Surprised by the sudden feeling, Lara unconsciously ducked down, easing the books down with her.
This was not like the other times.
This heightened sense, the familiar twitch of her trigger finger.
It was just like how it was back on Yamatai.
With an ease that should have disturbed her, Lara quickly moved to the information kiosk and circled around to another bookshelf. She glanced at a heavy metal book end on the shelf and grabbed it. Being careful not to make a sound, she listened.
It was soft, but she definitely heard another breathe from the next shelf over. Her eyes narrowed into slits. Whoever the hell thought they could try and attack her had another thing coming to them.
She waited until the figure realized that she disappeared and hastily pressed themselves to the shelf Lara conveniently rested on.
She quietly gripped the top shelf and shoved her foot through the books, the heel of her shoe colliding with something hard. She barely registered the person's grunt in surprise before she circled around the aisle and rugby tackled the figure to the ground. Pinning the body with her thighs, she reached out to grab her assailants throat with one hand and reared the hand with the book end back in preparation for a strike.
"Who the fuck do you think-" Her eyes widened as she got a good look at the man beneath her.
So, chapter done! Any thoughts? Opinions? Depending on the feedback this will either be a quick little three shot or a full blown story. This really was just a plot bunny that sprung up and I wanted it written down before I chickened out and kept it on my desktop. Reviews are welcome and I really would like to find a good beta! Maybe that'll help me stay on schedule...