Epilogue

Lara leaned back against the log and pulled the hood of her rain jacket up. The night was chilly and their fire was coming along slowly. The sticks they had found were a little damp and it had been hard to catch them alight.

She readjusted the camera in her hand as she filmed Sam trying to burn a few more branches, her attempt at being Bear Grylls.

"Come on," she heard her murmur. She stirred the branches around.

"I think they're a little damp," Lara told her. "Give it some time to dry out."

Sam pouted at her. "I blame you," she said, point a stick at her."You chose a really good day to go camping you know that?" A wind blew through their camp, threatening to gutter out the flames.

Lara smirked. "Only the best."

Sam snorted and left the fire, instead bringing out a bag of marshmallows from her bag. She stuck a few on two separate sticks and then leaned back against the log with Lara, before offering one to her. Lara reached out for it but Sam moved it away. She raised an eyebrow then snatched it from her faster than she could react.

That seemed to amuse Sam as she leaned back and took the camera off her.

"You know everyone," Sam said, turning the camera on herself, "Despite Lara's intention's to make sure I don't walk for the next week, it's been a good trip."

Lara reached around to Sam's other shoulder silently. "I don't think you would be saying that when the spiders come." She lightly touched her shoulder.

Sam yelped and scrambled back into her, brushing her shoulders. Lara's intention to remain deadpan broke and she cracked up. Sam turned around and looked at her, her brow creased. Lara put a hand on her stomach in an attempt to stop laughing but the way Sam was glaring at her was too funny.

She smacked her on the arm. "Fuck you for scaring me like that!" she yelled. She hit her again and Lara put her hands up to shield herself.

"Okay okay! I'm sorry," she managed between giggles.

Sam backed off and leaned back against the log putting the camera next to her and toasting her marshmallows. Lara could see that she was trying her best to frown but the curve of a smile was breaking through.

Lara took several breaths to stop laughing then leaned back again.

Sam leaned into her side, resting her head on her shoulder. Lara welcomed the extra warmth and put an arm around her as the extra branches caught fire.

That laughing fit had left her exhausted and she could feel tears at the corners of her eyes as she yawned. It would have been easy to just fall asleep now with her best friend against her side.

Her eyes had almost drifted close when she heard Sam's voice "I don't really want to go back," she said quietly. "It's so nice up here. Maybe we can just run away into the mountains forever."

Lara chuckled. She could not imagine Sam living in a cabin in the woods like a hermit. What with no heating and no running water.

"Why is that so funny?" Sam asked. "That could totally work. I could probably hunt as well and we can have venison every night."

"I don't think you're ready to advance to moving targets just yet," Lara said carefully. Sam had progressed to actually hitting the target by herself but that was when the target was ten yards away, stationary, on level ground and with no wind.

"Well then you can bring in the bacon until I can," she said, poking her in the shoulder. "And we can have our own garden or something."

"Perhaps. But I would give it five hours before you miss reception and dive down the mountain to reach it again."

Sam quirked an eyebrow. "Well aren't you sassy tonight?"

"Must be the mountain air," she smiled, taking a bite of a marshmallow.

Well the fresh air was just part of it. Things were finally good with Sam and strangely, despite all the crap they had been through, she felt like their relationship was stronger.

It was so good to be hiking again, adventuring through nature and discovering its beauty. She forgot how much she missed exploring, finding a joy through traversing frontiers barely untouched by man and time.

Today reignited her interest in adventure.

Lately, she had been reading through her father's journal again, going through his notes on Ranoke Island. She could barely understand its enigma, though that fact just drew her deeper into its thrall.

Lara wanted to get back to it, but there were things she needed to consider first. Her manager for example, was the first and foremost problem she needed to take care of. For Mr Nishimura, Yamatai wasn't over. Although the hype had almost disappeared there was still money to be made. Lara didn't know how long that would take, but she knew he was going to milk every drop before he let go.

"How long do you think a documentary would take?" she asked Sam.

Sam glanced at her. "Umm… a documentary on what?"

"Yamatai." Sam sat up and looked at her. "It was part of my contract wasn't it? You were to be director?"

Sam creased her brow. "Are you sure you want to do this? We're probably going to have to go back to the island."

Lara hesitated. She hadn't actually thought about that and now that she did it made her nervous. Confronting the place of her horrors...it would be hard to say the least. She had no idea how she would react when she got there but she knew she would be able to overcome it. "So long as you're there with me," she told Sam, running a hand through her hair, "Then I believe I'll be fine. It will also be a good idea to finally have a hard version of the truth out there."

Sam grimaced. "Uhh sweetie, no offence but the 'truth' didn't turn out well last time."

Lara remembered her first meeting with Marlow and the look he gave her that said, 'you're nuts'. The world wasn't ready to understand these things and they would scrutinize her like they did her father if she told them. She sighed and scratched her head. "Okay, perhaps not the whole truth then. I don't believe it would be hard to omit the supernatural parts anyway."

Sam clucked her tongue. "I guess it would take a few months. I have a few ideas that I want to try out- they're not going to be too intense don't worry."

A few months was stretching her patience but at least she could spend some proper time with her best friend then. "I trust you Sam," she said. "And whatever you need I'll help. I just want to move on from Yamatai."

Sam frowned. "Move on? Like another expedition?"

Lara shrugged. "Yeah.

Sam straightened further and stared at her. "Where did this come from?"

"I've actually only considered it today," she said, "It is nice up here and I forgot how much I loved it. I've been looking at the missing colonists at Ranoke Island and I think I might head there next. There are a few things in my father's journal that I want-"

"Are you sure you want to do this so soon after Yamatai?" Sam interrupted. Her brow was furrowed and she looked at her with concern.

"Yeah I guess." Lara nipped at the marshmallow. "If I can go back to the island then I'm sure I'm ready for another expedition. It's been almost a year, and I believe I'm well enough to handle what comes." Well…she didn't know what life would throw at her but she was confident that she would be able to overcome it.

Sam sighed and leaned back. "Okay then."

Lara frowned. She would have thought Sam would have been happier for her. "I'm sensing you disapprove," she noted.

Sam's brow furrowed. "You can do whatever you want Lara. I'm not going to stand in the way something you love."

Lara pressed her lips together, feeling her insides tightening. "Sam can you... talk to me?" she asked quietly, "I don't want to go through this again."

Sam winced and looked at her. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to do that. It's just…I…" she hesitated. "I don't know how to say this without sounding stupid."

"Then just say it."

Sam stared at her for a long moment then sighed. "I don't want you to go," she admitted, "Well I mean I do... You love this stuff. But I just don't want... to lose you."

Lara touched her pendant. "I could have died in a hundred different ways on Yamatai," she said, "But I'm still here am I not?"

"I'm not really worried about that." She paused as she realised what she said. "Okay I mean yes, of course I am but I trust in your abilities to not get yourself killed."

"Then what are you worried about?"

Sam bit her lower lip. "Losing you mentally," she said quietly. "Psychologically…you know…that something happens that when you come back your unrecognisable. It happened with Yamatai so what's stopping it from happening with everything else?"

"I'm more prepared this time," Lara said. Well she doubted that she could ever be prepared for the mystic wonders of the world but she wasn't going to tell Sam that. "Yamatai taught me a lot of things about myself and about this world, and I'm confident I can handle it. I'm not sure there's many things I can see that will change me as much as Yamatai did."

She tucked some hair behind Sam's ear. "But I will come back," she promised. "And I'm not going to change."

Sam looked at her uncertainly. "You can't promise that."

She held her eyes. "And yet I have."

Sam's expression didn't change. Her eyebrows remained lowered and her eyes remained dim. Eventually, she looked away, still uncertain.

Lara exhaled. "Here," she said, taking off her pendant. "Turn around."

Sam's brow furrowed even more. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"This is insurance," Lara said. "Now turn around."

Sam turned around and Lara fastened the clasp on the necklace. She turned back, looking down at the pendant.

"I'm coming back for that," Lara told her. "So you'd better take good care of it."

Sam looked up at her and smiled, stroking the pendant with her thumb. Lara couldn't help but notice that she wore the jade better than she did. "Don't I always?"

Lara winced. "That doesn't exactly fill me with hope."

Sam smacked her playfully then pulled her into a side-hug. Lara kissed her cheek and put an arm around her shoulder. "I love you Sam."

She could practically feel Sam grinning. "Aww Lara…You're such a sap."

Lara pushed her away playfully, slightly embarrassed but Sam pulled her back again. "But I love you too sweetie." She kissed her cheek.

Lara smiled broadly which eventually turned into a yawn.

Sam looked amused. "Do you want to go to sleep?" she asked.

Lara shook her head and leaned against Sam.

They didn't have to go back yet, so Lara was going to make the most of her time with the one she loved the most.