DISCLAIMER: I in no way or under any circumstances am claiming any part of the Tomb Raider Franchise. It is owned by whatever group of pure intellectual minds created it. In fact, I bow down and kiss the ground they walk upon for creating all that is Tomb Raider. Your devotees thank you and are humbled by your genius.
A/N: Hi everyone! So this is my first attempt at a Tomb Raider fanfic and I'm so glad I've finally begun. Really, I was planning on writing one as soon as I finished the reboot game but I got lazy. It wasn't until I read Asynca's, "The Camera Loves You" that I really kicked my butt into motion. If you somehow haven't read Asynca's story, stop right now and go read it. No really, its absolutely amazing and my fanfiction has got nothing on her stuff.
Anywho, I really hope you enjoy what I've written so far. I finished this at some god awful hour in the night (morning?) so if there are any mistakes, I apologize ahead of time. When I've had ample amount of sleep, I'll come back and proof read it again.
So, without further ado, I give you, "In Her Wake". :D
In Her Wake
Chapter One: The Girl Who Waits
"Come on, that's enough Sam. No more recordings. I'm trying to study, unlike someone I know," Lara gave the camera a pointed look and tried to look reprimanding. She failed miserably. The subtle quirk of her full lips ruined the stern appearance she was going for.
The camcorder shifted slightly and my voice sounded loud as it reverberated from somewhere behind the capturing lens. "It's called a much needed break, Lara. You should try it sometime."
A delicate eyebrow arched over amused eyes. "Your idea of a break is filming me while I study?"
"Oh, most definitely!" The zooming mechanism was activated and suddenly the entire frame was filled with the archeologist's soulful brown eyes. "You'll be a famous explorer one day and people will be lining up out the door just to get a glimpse of you." My voice turned sly as I went on. "Of course, that's when I step in and offer them a once in a lifetime deal…"
The camera panned down to those perfectly curved lips as they parted slowly to issue, "And what, pray tell, is this 'once in a lifetime deal' you speak of?"
"The chance to purchase my award-winning documentary; 'Lara Croft – The Explorer Extraordinaire.' The world will never be the same."
The frame zoomed back out to capture the full effect of her smile.
I paused the playback with a click of the mouse and leaned out of my chair towards the bright computer screen. I silently studied the young woman frozen on the monitor's display and I'm once again momentarily stunned by how beautiful she is. Plus, the fact that she somehow doesn't even grasp the extent of her attractiveness only makes her that much more appealing. I trace the image of my friend's brown eyes and note the way they crinkle slightly at their edges. A wisp of chocolate colored hair has escaped its loose ponytail and clings stubbornly to dark eyelashes. I recall all the times that same unruly lock has been carelessly swept aside as Lara buries her nose into a book. I wonder what she would say if she knew of all the times I've had to restrain myself from reaching out and tucking it lovingly behind a small ear.
Of course, Lara knows nothing of the depths of my love for her. Although I fearfully wonder at times, if she contemplates why we may appear perhaps too close at times. Sometimes when she doesn't think I'm looking, I'm certain I can see it in her eyes. Like, after a hug that lasts a bit too long or a heated look I don't hide quickly enough, she'll stare at me with this curious expression as if she's on the verge of telling me something I desperately wish to hear. Unfortunately—or maybe fortunately—she never says. But no. It's probably all in my head. I've never given Lara any reason to suspect that I may have ulterior motives in the harmless flirting I subject her to.
It's just some nights, like tonight, I get paranoid that if she ever found out how I really feel about her, I'd lose her forever. I honestly don't know if I could handle the loss of her. I'm so sure that Lara has burrowed herself so deep underneath my skin and for so long, that she's become something like a vital organ. So if I were to suddenly lose her…
My parents never had time for me. I was the unplanned child who didn't quite fit into their fast-paced and glamorous lifestyle. I guess a snotty kid didn't make a great enough fashion accessory in the highlife. For a time, they thought they could placate their attention-starved child with false promises and materialistic bullshit. So I did the only thing I knew how to do in order to receive their attention; I lashed out. I became rebellious and self destructive, always causing trouble for my parents. It started out small (drawing on walls with permanent ink; breaking the heels of my mother's expensive shoes; skipping school) but eventually it escalated to a point that surprised even me (underage drinking; stealing my father's Porsche; getting into trouble with the law).
It worked extremely well in attracting their attention, even if it was only to yell and curse me. But eventually my parents just wrote me off as a lost cause and couldn't be bothered with me any longer. They ended up paying a great sum of money and shipped me off to a boarding school in London. Little did I know that that decision turned out to be the best thing they've ever done for me because it was there that I met Lara Croft.
I still clearly remember the first time I saw her. She was sitting quietly at her desk with her nose buried so deeply in a book that I briefly wondered how she hadn't gone cross-eyed. After that odd thought I realized that she looked so lonely amongst the rowdy teenagers that congregated in tight circles around her and yelled to be heard over each other. In that moment, I knew I had found someone who felt as isolated and alone as me. I recognized it in the tight bunching of her frail shoulders and lowered head, as if she were barely holding up under some great weight that threatened to crush her.
To this day I still don't know what prompted her to abruptly look up from her book and stare straight at the angry half Japanese girl standing in the classroom doorway and smile timidly. I didn't know it in that moment, but I had found my whole world wrapped up in that shyly offered smile but I did know one thing; I suddenly didn't feel so alone anymore.
We became fast friends and I wasn't just Sam anymore. Just the same as it wasn't just Lara anymore. We were Lara and Sam, Sam and Lara. No one mentioned one of our names without the other's. Where ever one could be found, the other was never far behind.
Lara was like a soothing balm to my angry, festering soul. Her quiet, soft-spoken demeanor slowed me down when all my life I had been moving at neck breaking speeds towards a hard left to nowhere. She saw all the hatred, self-loathing, and broken trust that I kept wrapped up so tightly inside and called it something along the lines of beautiful. In return, I gave her everything that I ever was and everything I ever would be.
So it came as no surprise that when Lara decided to attend University College of London after boarding school, I was right beside her. I watched my best friend throw everything she had into her studies in order to follow in her father's footsteps as an archeologist all the while working in order to pay her tuition and rent. And she excelled. However, I was floundering to stay afloat my first year since I couldn't decide which major would allow me to stay close to Lara. But I was never envious or jealous of how she had everything figured out and how to go about doing it all mapped out in her head. The way I saw it, Lara was my better half.
So what if I was left in her wake?
That would just be putting me in the position I needed to be in to catch her if she falls.
It took some time but eventually I decided to major in filmmaking. I'd be lying if I told someone I had chosen it after a long while of careful consideration. In all honesty, the decision was made in the span of one thirty minute episode of a once popular TV show. I wasn't aware who he would come to be to Lara and I, but it was actually a younger Dr. James Whitman's hit show that began my career in documentary films.
I was lounging around the dorm room I shared with Lara channel surfing when I came across a rerun of, 'Exploring for the Truth With Dr. James Whitman". It was about halfway through the episode when the idea came to me. I could document Lara's adventures as an archeologist. Not caring for the fact that I had never even picked up a video camera with serious intent to film my entire life, I was determined to graduate with a degree in filmmaking.
The next day I bought the best camcorder money could buy (God knows I had plenty of it) and within a few hours my spark of interest became an all-consuming inferno when I began filming Lara as she went about her day. Having the camera gave me something I never thought I could have: pieces of Lara that were irrevocably mine.
With just a flimsy contraption made of wires, lenses, and connections, I could capture fragments of the girl I loved more than life itself. I'd catch a smile here or a soft spoken word there and I could document it, download it to a hard drive, and save it till I decided to let it go. Before I knew it I had records of every façade of Lara, every emotion, every hello and every goodbye. Whether she was at her worst or at her best, to me she was still everything good in the world and for however long the footage lasted, she was mine.
Almost immediately after graduation we had signed up for the expedition aboard the ship Endurance. Lara was determined, if a little timid, to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai. When I learned that Dr. Whitman would be the lead archeologist, I had to spare an incredulous laugh at the coincidence. We met with the other crew members as well and I can't say I was too pleased to find out Alex Weiss, whom pinned after Lara all throughout university, was aboard as a technician. However, I was happy to learn that Roth was the captain of the Endurance which came as no surprise to me since he was so protective of my best friend. I found Jonah, Grim, and Reyes to be a breath of fresh air as they offered a sort of working friendship with ease.
I wonder how any one of us could have ever predicted what a nightmare Yamatai turned out to be. Even after two months of being back in Japan, I still have a hard time believing that it all truly happened. Even now, a small part of me expects to wake up back in my dorm room at UCL. I mean, some of the things that happened were so unreal that it seems like something taken straight out of some fucked up horror movie. The haunted look in Lara's eyes after we escaped is the biggest reminder that it was all, in fact, very real.
Every morning when I first open my eyes to a new day I wonder how the hell I'm still alive. The answer comes to me as an image of Lara drawing the string of her bow, an arrow poised and ready to fly. She saved me. Every time I thought I was finally going to die, she'd show up just in time to thwart any attempts on my life. I still have nightmares where I can hear Lara screaming my name like a desperate plea or a mantra as I'm carried away once again from the sound of gunfire. In that moment the fear is overwhelming and an almost tangible thing that coils in my stomach and tightens about my neck, choking me.
And the obvious truth that all it takes is one bullet out of countless to find its mark and that would be the end. My whole world would be snuffed out with a single blaze cutting a trail through flesh and bone and tissue. In my dreams I scream for her to just leave me, to forget all about me and to save herself even though I know she can't hear me in the firefight. I don't stop calling out though and when I wake after each nightmare, I'm sobbing and fumbling in the dark bedroom in order to seek out my best friend who is not there. When I realize that I'm alone, I sit in the middle of my bed and try to convince myself that the shadows are not closing in on me.
I clutch the jade necklace hanging about my neck in a tight fist and combat the all too familiar feelings of abandonment that I had never associated with Lara until she disappeared without a word two week after the horrors of Yamatai were over. She left no note or explanation. Only the necklace that she always wore ever since she received it from her father before he disappeared was found perched on the dresser in the hotel room we shared.
I started wearing it like a promise, waiting for Lara's return. But it didn't keep the panic attacks or night terrors away and somewhere in the back of my mind, I acknowledged that the thing I most feared had come to pass. I had lost Lara. And by some sick twist of fate, it wasn't even because I had finally thrown caution to the wind and confessed my feelings. So I would sit in the dark, gripping Lara's necklace until I work up the courage to sit at my computer and replay footage of my best friend.
Which leads me to where I am at this exact moment, tracing the image of my friend's face still frozen on the small display with wet, unfocused eyes (which can be blamed on the mostly empty bottle of Corona sitting near the mouse pad).
Lara would be so disappointed if she saw me now. She wouldn't understand why the angry teenager that I once was so long ago had made her reappearance.
I'm just so weak without her. Especially now, after the nightmare that was Yamatai. I have to drink myself to forgetfulness just so the empty space where my heart used to be doesn't feel so gaping.
I reach out and brush my fingertips lightly over the computer projection of Lara's face and wish I was able to reach through and brush the hair away from her eyes like I've always wanted to.
Chapter Song: "Holding Onto You" by Twenty One Pilots
A/N#2: And there we have it folks! Love it? Hate it? Dare I ask, Loathe it? Please take just a small amount of time and send me a review. If this kind and humble way of asking for reviews isn't doing it for you, then I'll have to take a more direct approach...
How about... I've gone out and kidnapped an undisclosed amount of garden gnomes and at this very moment have them held at gun point. For every review I receive, a single garden gnome is saved. The rest will be violently disposed of.
So, do the garden gnomes a favor and save a life by reviewing.