I creep through the under brush, wincing at every snap of twigs underfoot and scowling every time a sharp branch snags my clothes or scratches my hair. Every darn sound feels like someone going to town on a gong. This is never going to work. I'm not going to get close to the cave entrance without every bastard in a hundred miles hearing my big dumb ass.

My grip on the bow tightens until my knuckles are chalk white, I'm amazed the wood hasn't splintered at this rate. Not sure what I'm hoping to achieve with it. The ferns and undergrowth are so thick it's more or less pointless to even hope to get a result out of ranged weapons. But it's so much more reasuring to have this out then my climbing axe. The bow feels more reliable. More familiar almost. I've trained with this, when my axe is just something i've been swinging around and hoping for the best. The fact it's worked pretty well so far not withstanding, I probably could do with something better.

I'm snapped out of my thinking by the sound of footsteps, getting closer, moving quickly. I can't see a thing, so moving as quickly as I can I swing my bow onto my back, feeling as exposed as a worm in front of a flock of crows with every millisecond I'm unarmed. I'm rushing to the point that my hands are shaking and slip right off the Axe on my belt when I try to grab it. Focus Lara. Breath/ The second I make, holding the handle in both hands, my eyes darting back and forth for the footsteps that are now right on top of me.

A figure bursts out of the bushes, running right at me, and I act on the instinct days on this god forsaken island have given me. I plant my feet to weight myself and throw the entire force of my body into swinging at the figures gut.

The blade enters the figures gut and they immediately slow, staggering to a halt. Score one more cultist son of a-

"Lara?" The voice is choked and barely more then a whisper. But I recognise it.

No. please God no.

her eyes are wide in the grasp of the terrible pain she's going through, but I can still see the confusion. The heart breaking betrayal in my best friends eyes as her hands slowly move upwards to the blade, already slick with her blood.

"Lara why di-" Sam's question trails off as her body falls forwards, her legs giving out on her. I rush forwards and scoop her up into my arms, pulling her tightly against me, ignoring the way the weapon still lodged in her digs into my ribs.

I panic, desperately brushing her soft black hair out of her beautiful brown eyes. That are already starting to darken "No. come on Sam. Please." I'm babbling, with no concept of what it is that pours out of my mouth, just trying to find something that will undo this. Make everything better. Fix my own terrible mistake. "Stay with me Baby." I press my forehead against hers. My tears are running down my face and onto hers.

It takes longer then it should, but over my own breathing being so fast and my heart beating in my ears, I don't realise for some time that she's not breathing. The sound that comes out of me is a rush of pure primal agony. Screaming into the sky as I feel something in me die with her. Everything in me that knew love, or hope rips itself apart. All of me that had a reason to carry on fighting burns to ash.

In this single moment I realise living without her is impossible. She had become so entwined with every single part of my life. Take her away and there was nothing left to salvage. And I'd done it. I'd taken Sam, the most amazing person in the world, away from it. She was gone. Dead. Sam was dead. Sam was murdered. I HAD MURDERED-

"LARA!"

my eyes snapped open and everything was black, I couldn't move. Something was constricting my arms, holding me down. I started to thrash wildly like an animal in a net. And like one it only made things worse.

"Lara! Please!"

I froze. Just long enough for something to be pulled away from my face. Immediately light hit me and I hissed as my eyes stung in protest. But it all jolted me enough to realise I was lying on the hard wood floor of my bedroom, and somehow I had twisted the blankets all around myself like a snake in my sleep.

A small, dainty hand brushed my cheek, making me gasp. Like being hit in the face with a bucket of water it made my brain go into overdrive and I was taking in everything at once. Bedroom. Floor. Tangled. Nightmare. Just a nightmare. Sam.

Sam was in the Extra large blue boys T-shirt she used as nightwear. She was kneeling next to me with that look of concern and stress I was seeing on her more and more often these days. I sat up so fast I almost head-butted her, my arms pulled against the blanket with impatience until they finally relinquished and I was free. Before Sam even got a chance to speak, I ran my hand along her stomach, franticly searching.

Nothing. No hole. No terrible wound. Not even a scar.

Just a dream. No matter how real it had felt. I gave a half laugh, half sob before throwing my arms around her neck and starting to sob. I couldn't help myself, my brain felt like it was collapsing in on itself, too many thoughts, and far far too many emotions for me to be expected to cope with.

Sam didn't ask questions, instead she wrapped one arm around my waist, pulling me into the reassuring familiarity of being held by her. The other hand grabbed the end of the ever abused blanket, and with a little squirming managed to wrap it around us both. With that accomplished she moved the hand up and started to slowly stroke my hair. All the while she whispered sweet nothings, not pushing me and just giving me the time I so badly needed to pull myself together.

I loved her so much in that movement. I could never stop loving her, it would be like shutting off my ability to see just by wishing it.

it could have been five or fifty minutes we stayed there, my tears eventually running out to be replaced by soft hiccups against her neck. But eventually, I pulled back just enough to look her in the eyes, mine puffy and blood shot with hers that same familiar brown.

"I'm going mad." I whispered in a terrified hush. "I can't do it anymore Sam. I can't even sleep."

The look on Sam's face told me everything. It had been months. Months where every single night i'd start whimpering in my sleep. Some nights that went up to crying, others tossing and turning, once or twice I started screaming or yelling. And tonight was one of those "once a fortnight spectaculars" where I got all of them.

The dreams were wearing Lara down to a stub. No matter how early she went to bed, she wasn't getting more then two or three hours of rest a night, just yesterday Sam had found Lara sitting in the middle of the kitchen with her laptop on her lap. Lara had woken up at one am, snuck out of bed without waking Sam and had cleaned the entirety of the fridge, microwave and most of the kitchen, before devoting three hours to trying to identify the cause of a stain that just would not come off the top right hob.

After months of insomnia, Lara had long since ran out of worthwhile things to do all night.

Her grades were slipping. For the first time in her life Lara Croft wasn't getting A* grades. Something Her professors were getting extremely worried to see happen.

A month ago Sam had taken Laras car keys off her and hidden them somewhere after Lara had fallen asleep for three seconds behind the wheel and almost killed them both. Lara had spent SEVERAL of her nights searching for them, which had led her to find a left sock neither of them recognised as theirs, Sam's copy of Freaky Friday, and Lara becoming convinced Sam had put it in someone eases home. Or buried it.

That had in no way helped Lara who could now proudly add Cabin leaver to the never ending list of what was wrong with her.

It was, she sadly accepted as she lay there, trembling in her girlfriends arms, official. The island had broken Lara Croft like a china doll under a hammer. And Sam was trying to put the thousands of fragmented pieces back in the right places again.

"We're not gonna sleep then." Sam said, understanding as best she could. "We'll just rest. Come on." Slowly, the Shorter girl helped her taller partner to her feet and never let go of her hand as she led Lara to the bathroom.

Lara found herself sat upon the closed toilet lid as Sam ran a bath. A headache was starting to build on the edges of Laras mind, and every time she let herself focus on the rhythmic thumps of pain, entire minutes would vanish into the haze. The clock read 5:03. Lara closed her eyes and tried not to grit her teeth at the way her brain burned with the strain of so little rest and so much stress. A second later Lara opened her eyes and the clock read 5:12.

And Sam was mouthing words at her.

And Lara shook her head back and forth until Sam gained volume until she could be understood. Lara nodded slowly to show she was okay with Sam going to get clean towels out of the drier.

The clock read 5:13

Lara blinked and it was 5:20 and Sam was walking back into the room and she was naked.

Had nudity been happening for a while or was that a new development? Lara strained her brain but honestly couldn't distinguish a point between the two. Which seemed odd to her because her Girlfriend was beautiful and Lara thought of it as a point of pride that she got to see Sam like that. But apparently it had just slipped right past her.

Her knees shook when Sam helped her up, and Lara felt her entire body tilt a little to the side before Sam put a hand on her shoulder.
"keep your eyes locked on something, and keep yourself level with it." Sam said, then repeated it until Lara did as she was asked. Locking her gaze upon the rubber Duck Sam had bought months. No a year. Definitely a year ago. It didn't do much. Like all rubber ducks, it served little purpose in the grand scheme, but Sam liked it so the duck was okay with Lara.

Obediently, Lara raised her arms above her head so that Sam could pull her shirt off and toss it somewhere out the way. She felt her skin touch Sam's briefly as the younger girl leaned forward to plant a short kiss on Lara's cheek. It made Lara start to smile, and she finally took her eyes off of the duck when she caught her own reflection in the mirror.

Immediately Lara gasped and couldn't look away. The scars had stopped bothering her a good time ago, but right now with her emotions shot to hell and her brain sucker punched, she wasn't happy to see such permanent reminders of what was causing her entire life to be such a mess.

She had scars covering her. Arms, legs, chest, side. Continuous random patters of pain and ugly suffering she was marked with.

"I'm hideous." Lara mumbled, looking down at her feet with shame. How could Sam even be interested in her anymore? Her mind was a splintered echo of what she had been. She wasn't pretty to look at anymore. So that was it. What was there for anyone to be attracted to?

A pair of slender arms hugged her from behind, and even in her bout of self pity, Lara relished the feeling of Sam against her back.

"Sweetie. The water's going to get cold if you stand there staring at yourself." Sam carried her ever effortless tone of light hearted enthusiasm as easily as breathing. "I know you're pretty Lara. But time and a place you know."

Sam climbed into the tub, sighing in satisfaction at the feeling of the warm water before carefully holding Lara's hand to make sure she didn't hurt herself following after her. It was cramped, but neither of them complained, with Lara leaning back against Sam, who kept the broken warrior together by tightly holding her.

The two talked in quiet, tired murmurers and reassurances. Occasionally Lara would twist her head so they could give each other a short kiss or smile. And Lara found herself feeling safe. Tonight had proven something important to her. Sam was never going to let her fall apart, or let anything happen to her. As long as she had Sam, she was happy. Nothing in the world that had ever, or would ever exist meant as much as she did.

"Sam?" Lara spoke up after a long patch of silence.

"i thought you'd fallen asleep?" Sam questioned in surprised.

"i. 'lmost'." Lara muttered, the mere suggestion making her eyes start to droop. "need. 't ask. Somethin'."

"Anything Hun." Sam assured, placing a kiss on the back of Lara's neck.

"marry me?" Lara asked simply, no fanfare, no ring. Just a simple and heartfelt question on the spur of the moment.

Sam said nothing for minute after minute, finally she answered "you're sleep deprived, you probably won't even remember any of this once you finally pass out." Even saying that, Sam sounded disappointed that she had to be so reasonable.

"no! no. no no." Lara said adamantly, leaning her head back as far as possible she was able to look at Sam upside down. "y're all I need. Want. Ask for." She nodded sagely. "love you. So so much."

Sam smiled and leaned down to kiss Lara on the forehead. "i love you too Sweetie."

Lara grinned a drowsy smile. "then. I r'member. When I wake. You'll say yes?" she carried an honest heartfelt commitment to what she was saying that Sam belived her.

"Yes Lara. If you remember any of this in the morning, i'll marry you."

Lara looked like an excited puppy for a moment before yawning. "hold." her eyes closed. "you. To that." she whispered, before finally drifting into a peaceful slumber.

Sam smiled, and watched Lara for just enough time to wonder how she was going to get out of the bath without waking Lara up. It took a lot of doing but eventually she pulled it off and even managed to carry Lara back to bed.

Where Lara woke up nine hours later, feeling better then she had in a long long time.

And yes. Lara remembered.