She traces your scars and rebuilds your world [2/4]

Pairing: Lara/Sam (Tomb Raider 2013)

Words: 1755

Summary: You are a crumbling building in desperate need of restoration; and this, for all intents and purposes, makes Sam your architect.

Notes: Short chapter, because I fail at breaking things up properly. Oh well, more on the way! 

Part One

Building, however, takes time.

When you were six, your father took you to the Giza Plateau, not because he was a part of a dig there, but simply because he thought it was a sight you should see. It had been packed with tourists, insufferably hot, and impossible to get as close as a look as you would have liked.

But it’s one of your favorite memories of your father.

“Herodotus was told it took twenty years and 100,000 men to build this structure,” he had said, gesturing up at the Pyramid of Khufu with an uncharacteristic flourish. “Of course, Herodotus was prone to exaggeration, but it certainly was a massive undertaking.”

You had stared up at the great pyramid and felt very small.

“But why, father? Why would they make it so big if it was going to take so long?”

Your father had turned his full attention to you (in a way he rarely did) and smiled. “There are many mysteries in this world, Lara. This pyramid is one of them, in fact; how was it built? What lies behind its doors? What was the purpose of such a specific layout? But there is one thing that is not, and it is this: when you truly care about something, Lara, you put time and effort into it. When you are inflamed by passion or inspiration or meaning, you will do what it takes to complete your vision. Because then it will last.”

He gestures again to the pyramid before you, impossibly tall and structurally sound. “It lasts.”

You tell Sam this story when you get back from Adventure Landing, lying in bed with your eyes closed.

(“Building something well takes time,” your father had said. “But it is that time put in that insures that what you are creating will survive.”)

Sam traces your scars and lets you speak late into the night, her lips against the crown of your head.

—-

When you wake up you feel as though you are crumbling.

All Sam’s hard work and you are still falling apart—caving from the inside out—because your body is screaming at you, and the pain in your ribs that has been present since your first (first of many) tumble down the side of a sheer cliff has double or tripled, and maybe it’s because you’re relaxed enough to really take notice of it for the first time, but it feels like your chest is on fire.

Sam takes one look at you and grabs her (new) phone and does a search for the nearest walk-in clinic without saying a word. Within the span of fifteen minutes, she’s found a place that’s about five minutes north of your apartment, called them, and (somehow) sweet talked her way into a 10:30 AM appointment for you.

Sam’s rather remarkable, basically.

She even braves those five minutes of American roads for you.

—-

You have a couple cracked ribs and a fractured finger. There had been mention of other various bruising and perhaps a dislocation of some joint, but by that point, you hadn’t been paying much attention to anything other than the frown on Sam’s face, and the significant look she’d cast you when the doctor had said something about a four to six week recovery time for the ribs alone.

It’s not the best of situations, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse. And that’s what you keep telling yourself as you sit on the couch of your apartment, booting up the new HP laptop that had been sitting in the study upon your arrival (and attaching it to the old external hard drive Winston had shipped from London), but it doesn’t improve your mood much.

“Body wrecked from her last harrowing experience on a mysterious, lost island, adventurer Lara Croft sits in a now unfamiliar environment, typing away at her computer in search of a new adventure that will occur at the very least six weeks from today’s date.”

And that –Sam’s video camera in your face as she leans over the couch—isn’t really helping either.

“Sam…”

“For she knows that if she even thinks about doing any kind of vigorous physical activity, her co-conspirator/partner in adventure/flawless vision of a human being/best friend, will never let her hear the end of it and the lecture will not be worth it.”

Sam pauses, a thoughtful look on her face. “However, certain exceptions may be made, if said ‘vigorous physical activity’ involves one of our new neighbors, who let it be said, are absolutely…”

“Sam!” It probably comes out a bit harsher than you should. There’s a high probability that this has more to do with Sam’s last thought than anything.

Sam lowers the camera, a sheepish smile in place. “I lost almost all my footage from the island! I’ve got to record something to bridge the gap!”

You sigh, rolling your eyes, almost fondly. “And that something has to be me sitting on the couch?”

“Well, I’ll admit, the moping thing isn’t your best look, but I figure as long as you’re on the screen, people will pay attention.”

“Hmm. So that’s why you took footage of me on the boat without my knowledge?”

Sam’s smile widens falsely, and you try not to laugh. “You saw that, didja?”

 “I did.”

“Um… well, what was I supposed to do, Lara? You never let me tape you!”

The laugh does escape you then, and Sam (carefully) hops over the back of the couch to sit next to you. “And you can’t resist someone who looks so great on film, can you?”

“You saw that too, huh?”

“Mmm hmm.”

 “Well, you do. I’m so glad you conveniently stumbled upon on my personal belongings while you were running around Yamatai. I foresee many jokes at my expense in my future.”

Levity leaves you in that moment, though you’re not exactly sure why (it probably has something to do with the mention of your adventures on Yamatai—you hope you will one day be able to hear the name without internally cringing).

“You don’t know how much those videos—and journals—you don’t know how much they meant to me.  There wasn’t much battery left on the camera, but watching those videos while it still lasted—it made me feel… ”

Sam touches your shoulder gently—it’s a soft caress that makes everything within you settle. “I do know, Lara. I mean, I know the feeling. Why do you think I keep this old thing?”

She lifts the camera and shakes it a bit; it’s probably not the smartest of moves, because honestly, it looks as though it’s about to fall apart. Time spent in your pack on the island had not been kind to it. It’s a wonder it still works at all, really.

“It’s sentiment,” Sam continues. “And you know… I’m glad that it helped. Like, if I couldn’t have been there while you were going through… everything—well, at least my camera was.”

You nod, and Sam’s hand slips off your shoulder; you miss the warmth and the sensation it brings forth.

Sentiment, you think, and wonder if such a thing still has a place in your life.

—-

You think it probably does.

(It’s probably even your favorite part).

Because for you, sentiment is apparently equivalent with Samantha Nishimura.

—-

You run into one of your neighbors a couple of days later; ‘run into’ is not an idiom at play, because you actually collide with his form as you round the corner on your way to your apartment.

“Oh, shit! Are you alright?”

It takes you a moment to recognize him as one of the med students you and Sam had met on your first day in Durham, and while you vaguely recall their names as Chad and Derek, you can’t remember which one this is, despite the two having nothing in common aside from general good looks.

“Yes, fine, thank you.”

“You’re Lara right? Sam talks about you a lot. I’m Chad—we met when you first moved in.”

“Yes. I remember.”

“Sam says you’re some kind of archeologist, huh?” Chad—blonde hair, blue eyes, square jaw Chad—grins, clearly unaccustomed to people not having any desire to exchange small talk with him (to the point that he doesn’t even recognize that you’re broadcasting those very signals now). “I always picture old guys in khaki when I think archeologist, so you’re kind of a nice surprise, I’ve got to say.”

You think about making a similar comment about expecting future physicians to be intelligent, but you’re so caught off guard by the venom behind the thought that you’re left without any response other than one so mundane that it surely leaves Chad questioning your own intellect.

“Ah, thanks.”

“So… are you and Sam enjoying the apartment? Derek and I really like ours. Though we were surprised to see you two ladies move in next door, because we thought that one was a one bedroom, for some reason.”

“It is,” you say without thought, but at Chad’s raised eyebrows, you realize what that implies.

“Oh. That’s—uh—cool.”

This is probably where you should step in and rid him of his assumptions, but you don’t.

It gives you more satisfaction than it probably should.

—-

You feel the ramifications of the action not long afterwards.

“So, I ran into Chad today.”

You hum in response, narrowing your eyes at the words in front of you (as though this will bring forth greater understanding).

“He seems to be under the impression that we’re a couple.”

Sam’s eyes are on you, you know, calm and steady, and you will yourself not to look up from the page, even if the information contained therein will not be grasped by you in the foreseeable future now that this particular topic of conversation has come up.

“Oh? And did you relieve him of such a misguided notion?”

There’s a long silence. You don’t know what it means, and you’re afraid to look up and find out. Funny, you hadn’t thought the term coward would ever apply to you, but this is a sort of fear you find yourself unable to even face.

“No. I didn’t.”

Your swallow is more of a gulp than anything.

“I’m having more fun with him and Derek now that they’re not both trying to hit on me, honestly.” Sam delivers with an amused laugh, but it comes far too late, and feels forced.

You wonder why that is (and why you hope it’s not simply your imagination).

[Part Three]


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