Meeting June in January Pt1

January 21, 2017:

College friends, re-unite for the first time in years at a coffee shop in Manhattan, to catch up and share their recent history.

Molly's Coffee Shop - Manhattan

A quaint coffee shop in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: n/a

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It was true that Lara Croft felt more at home scaling a mountain in some remote location, than she did in a sprawling urban jungle such as Manhattan… but here she was, strolling along down the sidewalk of a seemingly random street. She was doing her best to memorize the layout of the city, but it was a Work in Progress… to say the least.

Staring at her phone, wearing a black leather jacket over a grey hoodie and black leather boots on her feet, she was quietly talking to herself. "Molly's Restaurant… " Lara muttered quietly while rounding a corner, and stepping around two people with a soft "Oh, excuse me." prior to bumping into them.

When she stepped to the street corner she looked up and. "Here it is." She said, smiling softly.

Lara walked across the street when the crosswalk came up and then went to the front door and pulled it open and stepped inside. She wasn't sure if she was early or if June would already be here, she started to scan her eyes around inside the place to try to spot the familar face, she remembered June's face, she was a striking looking woman, it was hard to forget that.

June's been very hesitant to try and meet anyone, given her situation. But the notion of SOME degree of social contact is so appealing that she can't turn it down. So she finds her way to Molly's, though her hesitation and wishy-washy attitude towards the event leads her there later than Lara's arrival. She shows up a few minutes after the British woman, entering the restaurant behind her. Normally she'd always spot Lara, who's very distinctive, but with that hoodie on, it mostly hides her.

Lara had gone ahead and gotten a table near one of the front windows so the natural light was providing more than enough to shine across her. She had ordered a cup of tea and was gently blowing on it to cool it down while holding it between both hands and looking at her phone that was laying on the table.

When the door opened and June came in, it took Lara a moment to register that someone had come in at all because she was… as usual… lost in her own world of thought on whatever she was reading.

But when she did look up she saw the familar face and it made her smile. She stood up and called out. "June!" She said, not too loudly, just a quick little call-out and followed it up with a smile and a wave.

Her black leather jacket was hanging on the back of her chair now, but she still had her black fingerless-gloves on to ward off the chill in the air.

June smiles a little. She's looked better, though. There's a haunted look in her eyes, despite the forced smile. "Lara. How have you been?" She walks over to the other woman's table, and will move to sit there.

Lara sat across from her and she noted the haunted look, but she firstly wrote it off as the woman just being tired or overworked, she often felt that was as well.

"I'm good! All things considered, I suppose." Lara said with a bit of enthusiam, happy to see the woman again. She even smiled once more, something Lara raredly did. "Its good to see you face to face, rather than on some website or what have you."

"How are you?" She asked, rather curious.

The Waiter stopped by as well then to ask for June's order, should she wish anything.

June replies "I've been better. What about you? I mean, there were all those rumors floating around about things." She looks to the waiter. "Just coffee, thanks."

The Waiter wrote the coffee order down and he scuttled off.

Lara heard her question and she smiled across the distance over the table between them. She glanced down at her phone on the table's surface and thought for a second. "Yes, all of that." She said, looking back up to June. "I'm 'making my way through it" as my counselor says." She flashed a soft grin.

Lara's head gently shook side to side. "When we were in school… studying to do this chosen path we've both been walking… I hadn't anticipated where it would actually take me, you know?"

June shakes her head. "Tell me about it." she sighs. "Sometimes you have to be careful at what you poke at. Sometimes it pokes back." She shakes her head. "Hopefully it'll lead us both somewhere better."

Lara listened to her and softly smiled at that response. "Somewhere better…" She quietly repeated and dipped her chin in a gentle nod. "That is the hope."

"I am finishing up my year of mandatory counseling sessions here in the US. It wasn't easy to arrange that, but it finally was approved… Its nice to be out of London." She glanced toward the window to her side. "London Fog, as they say… its never felt quite so heavy before, until now." And she then looked back to June and smiled softly again.

"Are you working here in Manhattan?" The Brith askd next, raising her tea cup up for a sip as June's ordered coffee was delivered.

"Mandatory counseling? That sounds worse than I might expect." June sighs, looking over to Lara. "Not…currently working. Not exactly. I'm…under observation." She swallows once.

Lara gently nodded her head. "It was apart of the… deal that my lawyer struck, after the Shipwreck." She lightly explained, but when June moved on and spoke of ber situation, Lara leaned forward gently. "Observation?" She asked. "By whom?" A look of curiosity passing over her face.

June sighs. "I'm not supposed to talk about it. Legally. But it's the government. One of my digs went a little south." She sips her coffee. "Word said that you ran into some really…strange things."

"My word…" Lara replied to June, her eyes blinking a couple of times. "What have we gotten ourselves into, June?" She asked then, hearing the rest of what she said then, Lara gently nodded her head.

"I believe it…" She replied. "All of it… I used to think it was all just made up stories and campfire tales for kids. But now? I know its all true, or at least I'm coming at everything from that angle instead now."

Lara sat back in her chair. "The stories I could tell you… even though, like yourself, I've been asked 'not to talk about them'. But that was by the Japanese government, which has no pull here." Lara grinned softly then.

June nods. "Well, bring me up to speed? I could use something to distract me." She sips her coffee again. "And you're right, we're a long way from the Japanese government."

Lara smiled faintly then at her friend and she leaned forward on the table, elbows on the table's edge, hands wrapped around her tea cup. "I don't even know where to start, to be honest." She told her, glancing outside once again.

"I honestly thought I was a dead woman, when the ship first began to sink that night." She started moments later. "There was a powerful crash that woke me up in my bunk… I had… slept through most of it… it was so chaotic that my friends were unable to get to me before, well, before the ship was split in half."

A sip of tea was had then. "I tried to reach them, but ended up in the water, in the dark, in a storm, being pulled back into the ship as it sank around me. I passed out, and thought I was dead."

She gently shook her head. "And then I woke up on the shore of Yamatai, drenched, bleeding here and there. But the morning sun on my face… So I forced myself up, to go try and find the others."

June looks sympathetic, and reaches out to touch Lara's arm reassuringly. "It must have been awful. No wonder they had you do counseling.

Lara smiled at the touch to her arm and she gently nodded her head. "That was just the beginning." She told her. "The next several days… they're… a blur now. A blur of a murderous indigenous, woman sacrificing, cult. Hell bent on the deaths of everyone who washed up on shore that night." She shook her head softly then. "I killed people, June." She told her old friend. "A lot of people." Another short pause before adding further. "But only out of self defense." Which wasn't entirely true… there was a fair amount of hatred in her at the time as well.

June shivers a little. "Sometimes…we get pulled into violence despite what we might want. It's…" She shakes her head. "You can't let it affect you."

Lara gently nodded her head to June's words. "I am trying not to. And to be honest, thats not the part that has me shaken so much." She glanced out the window again then before returning her brown eyes back to June's. "I witnessed the paranormal first hand there. An ancient Sun Goddess, attempting to re-enter our world through the possession of my best friend, Sam… She went to school with us, I don't think you… ever had any classes with her though."

Sure enough, that gets an almost PTSD-level reaction from June. She drops the coffee cup, which thankfully doesn't break, but does spill everywhere. "Nonononono." She says, looking over to Lara like she's expecting to see someone else behind her eyes. "What is this? Why are you /doing/ this to me?" She demands, though there's the strong sense it isnt necessarily directed at Lara.

Lara had looked down to her hands around her tea cup when the coffee cup fell and bounced/rolled and spilled the dark liquid everywhere.

Lara quickly looked up to her friend (as did many others who were in the fairly busy restaurant. "June?" Lara said, her voice laced with worry and fright. "'Doing' what?" Lara asked, moving to step around the table and reach a hand out toward June's right shoulder, attempting to place it there. "Whats wrong?" She asked.

The woman stands. "No, no. It's another one of them. I have to get away from here. They're going to try and get her out. I…" June starts backing up towards the door.

There was no reason that Lara would think that June was reacting to her story of all things, why would she? June had likely been on the opposite side of the world when Lara was on Yamataii Island.

"Another one?" Lara repeated, stepping after June almost in unison, so that they weren't that far apart. Everyone's eyes were on the two women, watching what was happening, but Lara truly didn't care about that.

"Get who out, June?" Lara gave a quick glance to her right and left. "You're fine here, nothing's wrong." She was very worried at this stage.

"You can't trust them, Lara. You can't get near them!" June shakes her head. "Don't make me say her name." She can feel her alter-ego inside, pushing. Straining. She's pushing at June's subconscious to get her to call on her.

Lara was at least quick on her feet and though she didn't know who this 'her' was that had a forbidden Name, Lara was smart enough not to push it.

She put her hands on June's arms and tried to steady her and keep her from backing up any further toward the people who were standing in the eatery's doorway watching, confused, worried.

"I won't." Lara said in a serious tone, drawing out the last word. "You don't have to. Let me help you though. Tell me how I can help you, June." She urged her, terribly worried now for her friend.

June reaches up to grab at Lara's arms like a lifeline. "You can't. Nobody can. She's inside and she's trying to get out. She wants me to call her out." Her fingers clutch at Lara's hoodie. "She's pushing so hard. I can't stop her."

It was starting to sound more clear, obviously June was reacting to Lara's story about possession. She didn't have any of the facts though, so it was terribly hard for her mind to process what or why this was happening to her, was this some kind of effect of Himiko? Was she -attached- to Lara? That didn't make any sense, it was Sam she tried to possess…

"June." Lara said, trying to make eye contact with her. "Look at me, stay focused on my eyes." She talked calmly, while others in the restaurant were watching and a few were even recording with their damn phones.

"I can help you." Lara told her. "I just need to know more.. whatever you can tell me…"

Restaurant employees were coming over now, including the on-duty Manager and he asked both June and Lara what was going on.

No logical sense. But at least Lara's efforts are keeping June focused, if just barely. "I was on a dig, and I found her. It was a statuette, it broke. It broke and she was inside it. And now she's inside me. Oh god, she's inside me." June's fingers dig in a bit more, her voice shrill and just on the edge of losing it. She needs to calm down, but that's oh so very hard when her own alter-ego is pushing at her from the inside.

"Oh… Christ." Lara muttered, hearing this she suddenly realized this was far too dire of a situation than she had expected. She tried to think, her eyes looked around and she saw outside the front of the restaurant, she pointed. "There's a park, across the street." She said, looking back to June.

"Lets go… for a stroll, right?" She asked, watching how this would effect her friend's mind, hoping to settle her with the thought of changing scenery. "Sound good?" She asked.

June looks at Lara for a moment almost like she's not even seeing her, but then manages to focus and nods. "Getting away from other people is a good idea right now." She says, looking for the door, for where Lara's pointing. "Let's go."

Lara glanced to the restaurant manager but otherwise ignored her and then looked back to June, she showed a quick pair of nods and then grabbed her jacket and phone from the table and threw down a twenty for their drinks.

"Lets go, June." Lara told her friend, placing her hand around her elbow then, not tightly, just reassuringly, hoping to show her that she was here to help her. Internally, Lara was dying to know more about this statue and… all of it. She pushed the doors open and those who'd been waiting in the doorway moved out of the way of the two women.

End of Pt.1

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