Tempus Fugit

by

L'Ange de Vrai



"Trouble sleeping, Lara?" he said, his lips softly brushing her ear.

Lara Croft stirred in her sleep, drawing her blanket up around her face as an icy wind met her fair skin. He leant down and ran a long, thin finger down her cheek and across her lips, hovering just millimeters away from actually touching her.

"You know, all those opportunities you had to kill me and all you wanted to do was kiss me," he said softly. "I could see it in your eyes, Lara."

"You're supposed to be dead," she replied, opening her eyes.

"Am I not?" replied Manfred Powell, arms held out in an open gesture.

He was dressed all in black, standing in the shadows, and looking exactly as he had the last time they'd met. Lara sat up in bed, folding her arms across her chest.

"If you've come here to kill me, Mr. Powell, go ahead and try to get it over and done with. I need to catch up on my beauty sleep." she told him sternly, her hand sliding discreetly towards the knife she kept sheathed alongside of her mattress.

Powell smiled and took a step into the moonlight. "You know as well as I do that that's not going to do any good, Lara - you can't kill a man twice."

"Well you deserve it - you murdered my father." Lara seethed.

"Trying to justify what you've done?" he mused, kneeling on the edge of Lara's bed and leaning forward.

Manfred Powell brushed his lips by Lara's ever so faintly, leaving them with an icy tingling. Lara glanced up, meeting his cold, gray eyes.

"You're despicable," she spat at him, leaning forward to meet his lips.

They touched for the first time and an icy shock shot through every inch of her body, sending her reeling backwards.

"So you are real. I'm not imagining this," she spoke softly. "What is it that you want from me, Mr. Powell?"

"We can't be on a first name basis, Lara? Oh, of course not. That would make this personal, wouldn't it. I can't imagine the guilt you'd have to live with," he mused. "I know what you want, Lara."

"Well, unless your idea of what I want includes you buggering off so that I can catch up on my sleep, I hardly doubt that." Lara replied.

Powell smiled. "That's number two on the list. You want closure, Lara. You want to know that it was a kill or be killed situation. You want justification. You want to know that I would have killed you in cold blood," he said icily, his eyes brushed a stray piece of hair from her face, listening intently as he spoke. "You want to know that Sheridan and Chen Lo would have done the same."

"I'm not a murderer, Powell. I would never kill for pleasure and I think we've established the fact that I can feel guilt." Lara responded, vehemently.

"I seem to have touched a nerve," said Powell as he began to circle loftily around her bed. "Surely, you must wonder, what factor does time play in all of this? Would you have killed Chen Lo without a second thought had you not already killed so many times before?"

"He killed my friends!" she exclaimed. "They deserved justice! They'd done nothing to deserve that death!"

"Perhaps not, but you didn't exactly seek out Chen Lo to have a nice little chat, did you? Your answer to violence and bloodshed was absolutely Amazonian, Lady Croft - more violence, more bloodshed. And what of Mr. Sheridan? How sure were you he'd pull that trigger, Lara?" he continued in a cool voice.

Lara glared maliciously at the figure before her as he continued to pace nearby, like a tiger, sizing up it's prey. "I knew Terry better than anyone. I know he wouldn't have hesitated to pull that trigger."

"But he did. He hesitated just long enough for you to pull your own. He loved you, Lara. What's to say he wouldn't have released the hammer and taken you into his arms?" he asked her.

"I'd be much obliged if you would be kind enough to stop attempting to make me feel guilty about my past," Lara responded testily. "This is about you and I, not Terry. Not Chen Lo."

Powell merely shrugged and pointed to the face of his cracked and bloody Rolex. "Tempus fugit, Lara, and it's much better spent living life without dwelling on the past and the guilt. So, if you must know, if it would clear your conscience, I sincerely wish you'd have slipped and hit an artery when you turned my knife against me. Yes, I'd have killed you. Good bye, Lara."

And with that, Manfred Powell slid into the depths of the shadows and vanished. Lara turned on the light beside her bed and sat back, examining the wide scars on the palm of her hand. It seems like that was so very long ago, she thought, tracing the white lines left by Powell's switchblade. Yes, time flies...

THE END



NOTICE: This story is a work of fiction. Lara Croft, her likeness, and the Tomb Raider games are all copyright of EIDOS Interactive. There is no challenge to these copyrights intended by this story, as it is a non-sanctioned, unofficial work of the author's own.