Part III

Lara pulled in the oars and slowly let the boat drift closer to the ship. She glanced up, judging the distance up to the deck. Do-able. The rowboat drifted closer and closer and just before it could hit the hull of Peters's ship she raised her hands and pressed them against the wooden exterior of the large ship, slowing her own boat down. The two vessels tapped against each other with an almost soundless thud. Lara hastily glanced up, watching the lights of lanterns moving around the deck as sailors paced back and forth. Nobody seemed to notice her however. She took one of the ropes she'd brought along and secured her small rowboat against the wooden hull, then she reached down behind one of the benches and pulled out a small drill, placing it against the wood. As softly as possible she started to drill into the hull until finally she could feel the tool pass through without meeting any more resistance. She extracted it, then leaned closer. The smell of gunpowder drifted up through the tiny opening, filling her senses. Lara grinned, then fished out the small pouch of gunpowder she'd taken along and she stuck the end of the fuse into it. She secured it, before softly worming the bag through the hole, hearing it fall into the cargohold with a gentle thud. She unrolled the fuse as much as possible, spiralling it through the boat. 
She straightened, watching her contraption and looking for any flaws. All right, here goes nothing. She took a breath, preparing herself, then reached down and lit the fuse, watching it until the thing started hissing softly and the end of the fuse was glowing a dangerous red, sanding bright white sparkles in various directions. Then she hastily looked up, watching some lights pass by before throwing a rope upwards, feeling it twist its way around the railing above. She pulled on it, checking if it was secure, then she started to pull herself up, soundlessly walking up the side of the ship. 

She crouched down in the shadows, her eyes watching the sailors pacing along the deck, quickly learning their routines. Softly she slid against the wooden wall until she reached a door and she sneaked inside quickly. Hastily she trotted down the stairs into the cargo hold. "Catherine?" She hissed, trying to see in the darkness. There was no response and when she reached the bottom of the stairs and saw the empty cell she knew why. "Damn it." She cursed softly with a growl. "This is so not the time for hide and seek…" Her mind raced for other possible places the woman could be. She could be anywhere on this blasted ship, she could be… A thought occurred to her and she quickly made her way back up the stairs again, peeking outside before exiting the cargo hold soundlessly. 

She was in so much trouble. Cathy grimaced as her sore back slammed up against the wooden wall. Karl released his hold on her throat to free a hand, with which he then started to tug at her shirt, the buttons closing the material around her body popping off with soft snaps. Fear gripped onto her heart as she realised Karl's intent. The feeling of his body pressed against hers made her nauseous, but she forced all the emotions down, trying desperately to remain calm. She had to hang on, she reminded herself once more, she had to buy Lara time to get away… 
"Now just behave and I won't hurt you… too badly…" Karl breathed, his face uncomfortably close to hers. He was definitely in her personal space though and her body just fought back instinctively, using the only weapon available to her under the circumstances. Her teeth.
"Ow!" Karl staggered back, covering his now bleeding nose with his hand. "You harlot!" He pointed a finger at her. "You'll pay for that!"
Cathy tried desperately to worm her hands out of the cuffs, but it was to no avail. She lifted her chained hands to fend off his strikes, but she was too late and Karl had closed in on her again. A knee harshly impacted with her abdomen and she doubled over. 

Pain raced through her skull as Karl's boot slammed against her head and she fell backwards. She opened her eyes, but her vision was clouded over by black spots. Through them she could vaguely see Karl's frame swaying over to her. She huddled closer, curling up into a ball to protect herself as much as possible. A kick against her side. Her mind desperately tried to block out the hurting. She remembered that time on the convict ship, so long ago, when her body had finally given up on her. It hadn't hurt then. She didn't want it to hurt now. The sounds around her slowly faded out and she was glad for it. It would be over soon. This time there would be no hero to save her at the last minute. Cathy closed her eyes, and allowed the world around her to slip away, hoping she'd held out long enough and Lara was as far away from this place as possible. 

"I'm not done with you yet, bitch! Wake up!" Karl bent down and backhanded her in the face. "Wake up I said! C'mon you…" 
His sentenced stopped as a low growl sounded behind him and before he could turn around hands jerked him off his victim and sent him head first into the opposite wall. Moments later a body landed on top of him and a fist impacted with the side of his face. "You bastard!" The Curse's voice hissed dangerously. Lara wrapped her hands around his neck tightly, squeezing the air out of him. 
Karl's blue eyes widened in fear and he struggled to get out from under her grip. 
"Die…" Lara stared back her eyes icily cold, drilling into him. "Die now…" She watched numbly as he struggled for air, then finally lost consciousness. 

Lara drew in a shaky breath, blankly gazing ahead of her for a moment. Then her brain kick-started and she hastily scrambled to her feet, rushing to the other side of the room and dropping to her knees. "Catherine?" She cupped the girl's face in her two hands. "C'mon, you have to wake up. Please?" she croaked as she stared at the silent shape. A voice in the back of her head yelled at her, telling her this ship was about to explode and it didn't matter if the girl was alive now since she'd get blown to smithereens in a matter of second. "I have to get you out of here, OK?" She whispered to Catherine's limp form, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, the other supporting Cathy's knees. Then she stood, cradling the girl in her arms.

Your life flashes before your eyes. Cathy had heard it was like that, when you died, that you relived parts of your life. This memory was a quite pleasant one, in spite of the pain. The memory of when she'd first seen Lara, of when the captain had lifted her off the convict ship. She felt the warm arms wrapped tightly around her and she smiled instinctively, revelling in the closeness. She knew that if she'd open her eyes now she'd see Lara's face, focused in concentration as she carried her back to her own ship. The temptation was too great and she forced her eyes open, staring up at the dark head and releasing a breath as she leaned her head against the captain's shoulder. "You're so beautiful." She informed the vision. 
Blue eyes shifted down to meet hers and a small smile crept across the captain's face. "Thank you."
Hey, that wasn't right. Her brain objected. She didn't say that when… But then again, she'd been outside back then too, and not inside a cabin and… She blinked as her mind drew its conclusion. She wasn't dead… And if she wasn't dead, then… "L… Lara?" She croaked, forcing her hand up to touch the captain's cheek, insuring herself this was real. 
"Shhh." Lara gently kissed the girl's palm. "Hold on tight, OK? We have to hurry, this ship is gonna blow…"
"Huh?" Catherine blinked. "What t…?"
"Just hold on." Lara repeated, then used her foot to kick open the door. She had no time left to sneak around, the seconds she had left were ticking away too fast. 

The door snapped open and she took off, racing down the stairs two steps at a time. From the corner of her eyes she could see the sailors stare in shock for a moment, just before they bolted into action and came racing towards her. A gun fired and she ducked, hearing the bullet pass over her head. A soldier stood between her and the side of the ship. Her body moved almost on instinct, not slowing down but actually increasing speed. One, two paces, then she pushed off and pulled herself into a flip, flying over this obstacle without effort and landing behind him. Only a few more paces left and she sped up even more, jumping up onto the railing and then pushing off as hard as she could, making sure they got as much distance between the ship as she could manage. 

With a loud bang the gunpowder exploded, causing a cascade reaction and igniting the masses of powder stored in large bulks in the cargo hold. Lara felt a blast of hot air against her back as and it blew her forward with an immense force, sending them flying. She held onto the body wrapped in her arms as tightly as she could, closing her eyes and sucking in a deep breath just before they fell down into the water. The water twisted and turned around her, but she didn't fight it, knowing that would only make things worse. She sank down, then the water's density pushed her up again until she finally reached the surface. 

A cough raked through Catherine's body, before her friend gasped in another breath, her face distorted in pain.
Lara stroked the wet locks out of her face. "Hey? You OK?"
"Wounds…" Cathy winced. "Salt. Hurt…" She managed, not being able to explain any clearer. 
"Damn…" Lara grasped the problem though, and pulled her friend closer, twisting in the water and pulling Catherine on top of her, so she served as a buoy to the woman. "How's that? Better?"
Catherine nodded faintly, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms tightly around Lara. Her back felt like it was on fire, but there was nothing to be done about that right now, she realised. "Tired." Her teeth chattered as she laid her head on Lara's shoulder. 
"Shh… I know." The captain's soothing low voice burred into her ear. Lara wormed herself out of the leather vest she was wearing and wrapped it around Cathy's shivering form. "I'll get you out of here, OK? You're gonna be fine…" Lara gently kissed Cathy's forehead, a sense of intense relief flooding through her. She looked at the wreckage of Peters's ship, the flames eating at the wood, lighting up the sky. Bits and pieces of the ship were scattered around them, illuminating their surroundings. Behind her she could hear the sound of cannons firing. "We have to get back to the Argo, OK? Just hold on to me."
"Sure." Catherine muttered contentedly, Lara's close presence blocking out the pain, at least partially. 
Lara nodded, then slowly started to swim away from the wreckage and towards the ship she could see outlined in the distance. 

Cathy winced, the remains of her wet shirt rubbing uncomfortably against her back. She felt guilty for letting Lara drag her along like this, but she just couldn't manage anymore. Her body was drained, the only thing keeping her awake was the salty water that was painfully sloshing against her wounds. 
"You OK?" She heard Lara's voice ask her for the thirstiest time in the last two minutes. She smiled at the concern though and dutifully nodded her head again. 
"Good girl." She felt Lara shift as the captain twisted her head around, glancing behind her. "Nearly there…"
The sound of guns firing was overwhelming now, thundering against her senses. She managed to lift her head and look up to see The Argo's hull now very close by. 
Lara stopped a few feet away, glancing up and spotting a form running by up on deck. "Tommy!"
The man halted, then pressed himself against the railing, peering down. Lara waved at him, trying to catch his attention. Tom finally spotted them, a huge smile spreading across his face as he did so. "Cap!" He hastily looked around, spotting a rope and tossing one end down towards them, while he turned and called out to the crew. "They're alive!"
Lara swam over to the end of rope, grabbing onto it and lifting them halfway out of the water by one hand. "Catherine?" Dazed green eyes looked at her. "Do you think you can hold onto me while I climb up?"
Cathy considered this for a moment, then nodded weakly, tightening her hold on the captain's neck. "Go." She managed in a hoarse voice. 
Lara wrapped one arm around the girl to keep her from falling, then placed her feet against the hull of the ship for support before pushing herself up, her hand finding a grip on the rope a bit higher up.

Slowly she made her way up the hull. As she got closer to the deck, Matthew poked his head out, his face creasing into a smile as he spotted her. "Lara!" 
"Hey Matt." The captain drew in another laboured breath. Another few paces closer. "Help her on board."
Matthew nodded and reached down. 
"You can let go, OK?" Lara whispered soothingly in the woman's ear as she felt the hold on her tighten. "I'll be right there…" 
Cathy slowly released her hold and Matthew and Tom each grabbed onto an arm, lifting the girl up and onto the deck. 

Cathy sagged down on the floor, leaning back against the railing tiredly. Tom knelt down beside her, gently rubbing her shoulder. "God All Mighty, Cat, I am so glad to see ya…" 
She looked up and managed a smile for the skipper. "Good to see you too." 

Matthew reached out and grabbed onto Lara's outstretched hand, hauling her onto the deck. The captain passed him without a word, immediately dropping down besides Catherine, cupping her cheek. Green and blue eyes stared into each other for a moment, wordlessly, then Lara leaned her forehead against Cathy's, closing her eyes and sighing in relief. 

She was safe. Catherine drank in the emotions rushing over her as her mind got a grasp on what had just happened. She was not going to die. She was… A soft sob escaped her, her tired body unable to keep the emotions locked away. Warm arms wrapped around her in silent comfort, Lara needing the contact as much as she did. 
The captain closed her eyes, leaning her chin on Cathy's head. "It's OK now." She said softly, trying to reassure herself of that just as much as Catherine. 

Matthew cleared his throat softly and blue eyes peeked up at him. "Why don't you go and get some rest. I can handle things here."
Lara considered this for a moment, then nodded. "Thanks."
"Just go. I'll tell you when we've won the battle, OK?"
The captain grinned at him, then pulled back a bit from her embrace, lifting a hand and wiping some of the tears off Cathy's face. "C'mon." She smiled at her, then stood, lifting the girl up in her arms. 
"I can walk…" Catherine protested weakly. 
"I'm not taking any chances with you…" Lara retorted as she walked over to her cabin, pushing open the door with her boot. 

She made her way to her desk, settling Cathy down on the edge. "Do you have some dry clothes lying around here somewhere?" 
The woman shook her head. "They're all on The Phoenix."
"That's OK, you can borrow a shirt or something…" Lara stated, making sure Cathy wasn't gonna fall off the desk, before walking to one of the chests in her room and digging out a few clean, white shirts and a large towel. 
Catherine, meanwhile, had managed to kick off her boots, the water seeping out of them as they fell to the ground. "I just poured half of the Southern Ocean into your room. Sorry." She muttered, trying to get the soaked pants off her legs. 
Lara chuckled softly. " 's Okay." She placed the pile of shirts beside her on the desk and wrapped the towel around Cathy's body, starting to dry her hair. "I think the other half is drenching my clothes, so that sorta makes us even."
Catherine laughed softly, then winced as Lara's hand grazed across her back. 
"What's wrong?" The concern in the captain's voice was evident. "Did I..? I'm sorry, I…"
Cathy swallowed, hastily shaking her head. "Not you…" She stated, looking up at Lara. "My back just hurts."
Lara frowned, then leaned around her and took a look at the girl's back. Red drops were seeping through the already drenched shirt. "Oh my god…" She blinked in disbelief. "Catherine…"
"It's nothing." Cathy objected.
"This most certainly is not nothing." Lara muttered angrily, then took a breath, steadying herself. "All right… I'll have to take a look at these…" She wrapped an arm around Cathy's shoulders, avoiding the wounds as best as she could, guiding her over to the bed. "You just lie down, OK?" She considered her options. "I'll probably have to cut this shirt off, it's gonna hurt too much to take it off."
"This shirt has been reduced to the state of 'useless rag' now anyway, so I guess you're forgiven." Cathy murmured as she laid down on Lara's bed, facing down. The mattress felt utterly soft and she buried her head in the pillow, letting out a breath. 
Lara walked back to her desk and fished out a dagger, a bowl of water and a few salves before hurrying back and kneeling at the bedside. "All right, stay still, OK?" Lara gently lifted up the collar and cut through it with her dagger. Gently she slid through the fabric, further and further, wincing at every bit of angry red skin that was revealed. "God… What did they do to you?" She breathed, biting her lip to keep the anger she felt inside from bubbling up. 
"Gauntlet." Cathy's muffled voice sounded, the woman still having her face buried in the cushion for support.
"What?!" Blue eyes shot open and looked up at the blond head, then back down at her back. "Gau… Holy mother of… That son of a…" Lara stuttered, clenching her fist in anger. 
" 's Okay. " Cathy managed to turn her head and look up at her. "I got back at him for that…"
A dark eyebrow lifted. 
"I smacked him in the head with my chains, then bit his nose off."
Lara stared at her for a moment, then burst out laughing, the anger flooding out of her. "Oh, that's good." She managed as her laughter receded. "I needed that." She glanced down at Catherine, gently stroking some hair out of her face. "Cookie already said you turned into a mini Curse. I guess this proves it, huh?" 
Cathy grinned. "Flattery will get you nowhere."
The captain chuckled softly, then turned more serious again, sparing a glance for the wounds. "I'm gonna have to clean the salt out of these… It's gonna hurt…" She gave Cathy a sympathetic look. 
Catherine nodded softly, taking a tighter hold on her pillow. "Go on. The sooner you start, the sooner this is over with…"
"All right…" Lara bit her lip, then picked up the bowl of water and gently seeped some of the clean liquid into one of the wounds, rinsing them out, one by one. That was the easy part… She blew out a breath, picking up a small jar with a disinfectant and placing some of the salve on her hands. "You ready?"
A tightening of the muscles in Cathy's back was her response and she cleared her mind for a moment, preparing herself for what was about to come, before gently spreading some of the salve into one of the wounds. 
A hiss of pain sounded, muffled by the pillow. Lara winced in sympathy, but forced herself to move on to the second wound. And a third, and a fourth, until finally she'd cleaned out every scratch on the girl's back. She discarded the wet rag that had once been Cathy's shirt and grabbed onto a clean one, holding it out to her. "Here…" 
Tear streaked eyes looked up, then Cathy reached out for the shirt, tucking her head through the collar and pushing it down her body before lying back down on her side tiredly. 
Lara gently reached out and wiped at the tears with the back of her hand. "I'm sorry…" she croaked, her voice thick with emotion. "I'm so sorry…"
"You save me from a heavily armed flagship and you're sorry?" Cathy smiled back at her, covering the captain's hand with her own. "You make no sense sometimes, you know that?"
Lara chuckled in spite of herself, lifting their intertwined hands and pressing them to her heart. "Sorry." 
Catherine rolled her eyes at her constant apologies. Then she pushed herself onto an elbow and leaned closer, placing a gentle kiss on the captain's lips. "Thank you." She murmured, as she pulled back, letting her eyes meet blue ones only inches away. 
Lara blinked, then let a smile cross her face. "Anytime." She reached out with her free hand and gently stroked the woman's cheek. Green eyes slid shut as Cathy leaned into the touch. 

Sleep was tugging at her and she had trouble opening her eyes again, blinking dazedly for a moment to clear away the fog. 
"C'mon." Lara's voice sounded softly. "You just get some sleep, OK? Everything else can wait till tomorrow." She gently tucked up the covers around Catherine's body. "Rest now… If you need me, just call, OK? I'll be right…" 
The fingers still intertwined with hers tightened, refusing to let go. "Stay…" Cathy muttered sleepily. "Don't go…"
Lara glanced down at the blond head, then gently squeezed the girl's hand. "Just let me get out of these wet things. I'll be right back."
A faint nod was her answer and the hold on her hand loosened. Softly she moved away from the bed, stripping off her soaked clothes and lying them over a chair to dry. She slipped into a clean shirt herself, then crept closer to the bed again. "Catherine?" She whispered softly
"Nodaslee…" Was the barely heard response. Then Cathy scuttled over a little, patting the spot beside her. "Pillow."
Lara considered the request for a moment, then decided it couldn't hurt and she slid under the blankets. An arm immediately wrapped around her waist and a blond head tucked itself onto her shoulder. Lara let out a breath, revelling in the contact. It had been too long… She looked down at the woman affectionately, reaching over and gently kissing the top of her head. 
Catherine snuggled even closer, her body slowly relaxing into sleep. "Love you." She mumbled softly into Lara's shoulder. 
The captain let a smile cross her face, closing her hand over the one lying on her stomach. "I love you too." She replied, sinking deeper into her pillow. 
Outside she could hear the roaring of cannons, the shouting of men and the clashing of metal, but she blocked it out effortlessly, lying her head against Catherine's, closing her eyes and letting sleep overtake her.

Lara blinked open her eyes. It was still dark out, only a small candle on her desk illuminating the room. The thundering outside had ceased, but she could still hear voices and the rustle of footsteps getting closer. She let her eyes trail down to the head pillowed against her shoulder. Catherine was still sunken away in a peaceful sleep. Lara slowly lifted a hand and stroked a blond lock out of her face, then traced the dark bruise on the girl's cheek. Bastard. Her mind growled angrily. God, she'd wanted to personally choke Walters to death… She'd wanted to rip his heart out of his chest and… Lara bit down on her lip, letting out a breath, trying to get the anger to fade away. Scattering him across the Southern Ocean in thousands of pieces was a nice alternative though. She hoped it had been painful. 

The softest of knocks sounded on the door, then Matthew poked his head in, his eyes scanning the room and smiling as he spotted blue eyes looking back at him. 
"Hey." He whispered, tiptoeing closer. 
The captain managed a smile for him. 
"We won." Matthew grinned, sitting down at the foot of the bed. 
"Now there's a surprise." Lara mumbled in a soft voice, trying to not disturb her sleeping friend. 
Matthew chuckled, then spared a glance for the girl tucked against the captain's side. "How's she doing?"
Lara let out a breath, shaking her head. "They put her through a gauntlet, Matthew."
"What?" Her second in command's eyebrows furrowed. 
"And then Walters took her to his room and beat her up and he was gonna…" Lara closed her eyes and repressed the wave of nausea that surged up at the memory of Karl leaning over Catherine's body. 
"God…" Matthew shook his head, looking at the woman. "That's horrible… Poor thing… Luckily you got to her in time…"
"I should have never let her go…" Lara muttered, slightly tightening her hold on Cathy's fingers. "It was a stupid plan. I should've just followed my gut and have kept her on board…"
Matthew shook his head, gently squeezing her leg. "Don't put the blame on yourself, Lara. You couldn't have known Walters knew… Besides, whatever happened, you're here now, right? You're both alive and no mutineers are gonna get executed. That's the most important thing."
"I guess…" Lara muttered, not sounding too enthusiastic. "Anyway, tell me, what happened?"
"We suffered minor damage, but it's nothing to worry about really. The Phoenix got some nasty scratches, but with some repairs it should be sailing around in no time. Andrew's ship is sinking as we speak. We fished some people out of the water and locked 'm up, I figured we could decide what to do with them tomorrow… We also managed to fish up some nice valuables before they sank into the dark waters…" Matt wiggled his eyebrows, grinning. "Nice gold stuff, bet we could sell that for a couple of pounds and restock our treasury… And I got you some nice new books…"
Lara smiled. "You're a lifesaver, Matthew."
"Nuhuh, you're the one that was saving lives today, my friend. I just kicked some butt, which I enjoy doing anyway…" He stood, giving Lara a pat on the shoulder. "I'll let you get some sleep now, OK? I'm gonna sail this ship outta here, then get some shut eye. I don't expect to see you until late tomorrow afternoon, got it?"
The captain chuckled softly. "Aye aye, captain."
Matthew rolled his eyes, then walked out the door, leaving them in silence once more.

The sunlight peeked through a crack between the curtains and send a stripe of light over the bed. Catherine grumbled, then blinked her eyes open, squinting against the sunlight. She shifted a little, so the beam didn't hit her eyes. Lara muttered something inaudible, tightening her hold unconsciously. Cathy smiled, the captain's steady heartbeat humming against her ear. 

Catherine tilted her head up and regarded the face relaxed in sleep for a moment. Lara still being asleep after sunset was unusual, she knew. But then again, these last few days had been pretty unusual. The captain was gonna be pissed off when she woke up though, since she hated showing these 'human flaws'. Cathy shook her head at herself. Oh yeah, listen to you, miss expert. You know, if you count the days you and Lara were actually in the same place together you only get… Catherine counted for a moment, then laughed, clasping a hand over her mouth, trying not to wake the captain. 
She failed horribly however and with a grunt a blue orb opened and regarded her. "What's so funny?" Lara muttered, lifting a hand and rubbing some sleep out of her eyes. 
A dark eyebrow raised at her. 
"I was just thinking…" Cathy balanced her chin on the captain's collarbone. "…that, really, we've only known each other for two weeks." She chuckled. "You know, if my mother knew I ended up in bed with a woman after I'd only known her for two weeks, she'd kill me."
Lara grinned. "Need I remind you we were already in bed together after two days?"
Catherine buried her face in the captain's shoulder, muffling a snort. 
"And that it was your idea…"
The woman glanced up at her. "'s Not like you were complaining…"
"Hey, I might be stubborn, but I'm not stupid." Lara grinned, then ruffled the blond hair affectionately. "How are you feeling?"
"Better." Cathy murmured, closing her eyes and lying her head back down again. "My back's still a bit sore and I've got a few bad bruises, I think, but that'll heal…"
"Hmm…" Lara agreed in a mutter. "I've probably got some herbs that'll ease the pain a bit… You want me to get you some?"
"Does it mean you have to get up?"
"I don't expect them to magically float over here by themselves, so yes, probably."
"Then I don't need 'm." Cathy muttered, tightening her hold slightly.
Lara chuckled, looking down at her with a tolerant smile. "You know, I have to get up anyway and get us some food. I bet you're thirsty too…"
"Don't need food." The girl mumbled. Her stomach decided to protest against this statement however and rumbled dangerously. 
The captain laughed as Cathy peered at her stomach in annoyance. "Not hungry, huh?"
"OK, maybe I am…" Catherine tilted her head up and regarded the amused face above her. "But I'm still not gonna let you go, so you've got a bit of a dilemma, oh great Torment."
Lara smirked at the challenge. "Dilemma?" She let her eyes flick across her surroundings, then spotted the rope she'd left rolled up at the end of the bed. "We'll see about that…" She extended a leg, twisting a foot under the rope, then boosted it up, lifting her free hand and catching it. Catherine glanced up at her, intrigued. Lara tied a loop at the end of the rope with one hand, then tucked the other end through the loop. She balanced her lasso in one hand, then twisted it above her head, aiming, before tossing it towards one of the chests standing beside her desk. Because of her pinned down position it took her three attempts, but then she finally caught the chest, reeling it in with a smirk. "You were saying?" She lifted a cocky eyebrow at Catherine, who shook her head at her in disbelief. 
"Show off." Cathy chuckled as the captain leaned over the edge of the bed and unlocked the chest, digging out a small waterbag and holding it up to Catherine's lips. She took a sip, the cold liquid easing her throat. She had been thirsty, she realised as she took a few healthy gulps. "Hmm." She smiled as she swallowed the last drop. "You're my hero…" 
Lara rolled her eyes at her. "Yeah right…"
"I'm serious." Cathy muttered contentedly. "I mean, you saved me from that creepy Karl, you got me off an exploding ship and now you lasso me some food… You're really a…hmph!" A piece of bread was pushed into her mouth, stopping her sentence. Cathy raised an eyebrow at the captain, giving her an indignant look.
"Heh." Lara chortled happily, biting into a slice of bread herself. 
Cathy swallowed, shaking her head. "Brat." 
Lara smirked. "Flattery will get you nowhere."
Cathy sighed in defeat. "You're a hopeless case, Lara Dean."
The captain just grinned at this, chewing her breakfast contentedly. 

"Well, ain't you two cute."
The voice nearly made Cathy fall out of bed, Lara only just managing to grab onto her shirt and haul her back onto the mattress.
The captain turned and raised an eyebrow at the smirking cook standing in the doorway. "Cookie, it's very impolite to barge into someone's room, you know?"
The cook chuckled, stepping into the room and letting the door fall shut behind her. "Never said I was the polite type." She grinned toothily at the captain, then turned her eyes to Catherine, who was blinking up at her. "Heya kid. I wanted to see if you were OK, but I can see you're in good hands."
Cathy blushed a deep red and Cookie grinned wickedly at her, then decided to give her a break and turned back to her other victim. "Matt send me here ta see if ya two needed anything edible…" Her eyes trailed down to the large chest, a rope still loosely tied around it. "But I see ya roped yourself some food already." She gave the captain a look. "Couldn't just get outta bed like normal people, could ya?"
"Hey, not my fault." The captain lifted her hands in defence. "She didn't want to let go of me…"
"Lara!" Catherine hissed, swatting at the captain's side.
Cookie laughed, walking over and closing the chest with a foot, then sitting down on it, ignoring Lara's glare as she did so. "Well, smart you are, lil' Torment… When ya find yourself a nice looking fish you should grab onto that tail with both hands and not let go, 's what I always say…"
A dark eyebrow lifted. "You saying I look like a fish?"
Cookie crossed her arms, sniffing the salt stained air. "Well, ya smell like one, that's for sure…"
The captain rolled her eyes. "Well excuse me for not washing after jumping off an exploding ship trying to save miss Mini Curse over here…"
"I think I at least rate Medium Curse by now…" Cathy spoke up, finally having gotten over the shock. "I mean, I did knock seven guys senseless and bit Karl's nose off… I think that should get me some points…"
The dark skinned woman laughed. "Honey, you just keep this up and you'll finally thump this brat off her throne." She informed her cheerfully. "Oh, and talking about the throne, Matt asked what her majesty would like to do with them sailors he captured yesterday… He also's worrying about what direction to sail in." The cook rolled her eyes. "Man can't think on his
own, he can't…"
Lara chuckled, then sighed and reluctantly pushed herself up, smiling at the muttering uttered by the blonde beside her. "I'd better get up and see what's going on… I've been lazying around long enough anyway…"
The cook snorted. "Oh yeah, ya slept in for the first time in a decade… You bad girl you…"
Cathy giggled at this.

Lara rolled her eyes, pushing herself to her feet and walking over to the desk, checking her still slightly wet clothes. "Hey, you don't get to be feared by half the globe by lying in your bed all day, all right?"
"There ain't nobody out there to scare right now, OK? You blew 'm up, remember?"
Lara turned around and crossed her arms, managing to look quite threatening despite the fact she was only dressed in a shirt and her salt stained hair was sticking out in all directions. "Don't you have something useful to do?"
Cookie chuckled in amusement. "No need to get all worked up, squirt." She smiled brightly at the captain, who grumbled at her before returning to her task of getting dressed. The cook's eyes trailed back to Cathy. "Anything I can get ya, kid? I've got some broth cooking, I'm sure ya could use some of that, huh?"
Catherine smiled up at her. "I'd like that, thank you…"
The cook patted the girl's cheek affectionately, then wiggled her fingers at the captain, exiting the room.

Lara watched her go with a shake of her dark head. "Yes, I would like some soup too, thank you…" She muttered to the now absent cook, getting a laugh out of Catherine.
"Poor thing…" Her blonde companion drawled, pushing herself up, wincing as her back, objected.
"Hey…" Blue eyes glared at her. "Lie down…"
Cathy looked at her in dismay. "Aw, Lara…"
"Lie down…" The captain insisted in a low voice, tightening the belt she'd just flipped around her waist and pushing a hand through her hair, straightening her frazzled locks.
"But I'll be bored…" The blonde pouted sadly.
Lara smiled grudgingly, then walked closer, settling down on the edge of the bed. "I know…" She ordered some of the dishevelled blond locks. "But you're hurt, Catherine, and your body needs to heal… You need to rest, OK?"
Cathy furrowed her brows. "But…"
"Just for today…" Blue eyes gazed at her. "Please?"
Catherine looked into the pleading eyes for another moment, then sighed in defeat. "You don't play fair."
Lara chuckled, watching as the woman settled down again, tucking the sheets around her. Then she stood, walking to her desk and picking up some herbs before kneeling back down beside the bed. "Put some of these in your soup, OK? They'll ease the pain. They'll also make you a bit tired, so you'll sleep through all the boredom."
Cathy smiled grudgingly. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Lara placed the herbs on the closed chest at the bedside as she stood again. "And don't even think about stalking around this room, OK?" She pointed a finger at her patient. "Stay put. Or you'll suffer the wrath of the Curse."
"Brrr…" Cathy fained fear. "I will disobey you never more, oh great Torment."
Lara rolled her eyes, not being able to stop a small smile from crossing her face. "Cookie's bad attitude is rubbing off on you…"
"Nuhuh, this bad attitude is aaaalllll mine…" Catherine grinned wickedly at her.
"Ugh…" Lara covered her face in her hand. "I knew it… I'm doomed…"

A soft knock sounded and Cathy chuckled, pretty sure about who her visitor was. "Come in."
Cookie poked her head around the door, then backed into the room, balancing a tray filled with several edibles. "Breakie is served."
Cathy smiled, managing to push herself up slightly. She sniffed as pleasant smells wafted over. "Smells great."
"Of course it does…" Cookie stated smugly, walking into the room and placing the tray on the closed chest beside the bed, beside the herbs. "What did the healing wonder scrounge up for ya this time?" The cook picked up the small bowl with herbs, then sniffed it speculatively. "Painkillers huh?"
Cathy gave her an impressed look. "You can tell that just by smelling them?"
"Cook's gotta know her herbs, honey." Cookie stated, sitting down on the edge of Cathy's bed. Her brown eyes looked into Cathy's judging her for a moment. "You really feeling that bad huh?"
"Nah, I..." Catherine started.
"And don't you go lying to me and putting on that tough as nails attitude, ya hear? It don't work for the Curse, it don't work for her protÈgÈ, got it?"
The blonde blinked at her, then laughed softly. "Sorry…" She took a breath. "Yeah, it does hurt, sort of…" She gazed down at her hands, fumbling with the edge of the blanket. "I… I got beaten up a bit…"
"Lemme guess, Mr. Black Eye and Stripes in the Face, right?" The cook muttered in an angry voice, shaking her head while she mixed the herbs into the broth she'd brought.
"Yeah…" Green eyes peeked up at her. "I mean… I could've handled it, I think… But I was already tired, and then there was the gauntlet and the worries about my crew and…" Cathy sighed, leaning her head against the wall. "It was just a bit too much and I… I wanted to just give up…"
"And then the woman wonder came in and saved the day?" Cookie asked, lifting the small bowl and dipping in a spoon before holding it out to Cathy. "Open up…"
Catherine considered arguing for a moment, then realised it would be futile against this woman and just did what she was told, biting down on the spoon and letting the warm liquid ease her. "Hmm…" She murmured contentedly, then answered the cook's question. "Yeah, she did." She shook her head. "I couldn't believe it. I thought she'd be halfway to China by that time…"
The cook chuckled. "Yeah right, as if…" She shook her head, feeding her patient another spoonful. "Honey, you wanna get rid of her now you're gonna have to tie her to a sack a sand and toss her in the ocean. And even then I think the squirt would find a way to follow ya…"
Cathy grinned reluctantly. "Maybe… It's stupid though, I get her into so much trouble…"
"The brat loves trouble. She might yap at ya and act annoyed, but she loves having another story to boast about, trust me… And besides, she's hooked on ya, kid. Has been ever since she picked ya off that ship."
Catherine blinked up at her shyly. "I… uhm…" She swallowed another bit of soup as a spoon was pushed into her mouth. "I'm glad you're… OK with this…"
A dark eyebrow raised. "This?" Then a light dawned. "Oh, you mean the fact that you're both women?"
Cathy managed a nod.
The cook rolled her eyes. "Honey, that don't matter. Love's love, 's what I say… And if you manage to make the stubborn thing happy, than that can only be good, right?" Cookie shook her head, putting the bowl down and handing the blonde an apple. "I'm not saying there ain't gonna be people who'll nag about this. There will be, I'm sure… But this here's Lara's terrain and if they're gonna give you any grief she'll just kick 'm senseless. Not that you can't do that yourself, mind ya, but she likes to defend her honour, ya know how she is…"
Cathy chuckled, taking a bite off the piece of fruit. "Yeah, I know." She took another bite, then lifted a hand to her mouth, suppressing a yawn. "Hmm, I think the herbs are getting to me…" She managed, her eyelids feeling heavier by the second.
"Good." Cookie stated, standing up and dusting off her apron. "Get some rest, kid." She ruffled the blonde locks affectionately, then stood, picking up her tray and walking towards the door. "Sweet dreams." 
A barely heard, sleepy mutter was her only response

"I think the best thing to do is dump those guys on a raft and send 'm off…" Lara stated, getting a nod from both Matthew and Mary.
"I'm sure I could scrap together some supplies and there's more than enough driftwood floating around here…" Mary grinned wickedly. "With a bit of help I could have something sailable tied together by the end of the day."
The captain nodded. "Sounds good. Get to it…"
"Aye, capt'n." The weaponsmaster saluted before she strode off.

Lara watched her go, then walked towards the stern, considering her options for a moment. "We'll head east. You remember all those islands we passed before, a year or so ago?"
Matthew nodded quietly as he walked along beside her. "Yeah, they were nice… You wanna drop our mutineers off there?"
"Yeah." The captain affirmed. "It's not safe for them to keep travelling now. Every ship will be looking for them and the Phoenix is no match for any other vessels. I think the best option is to have them start a colony of their own… We could give them some supplies to get a head start… I'll check with Catherine, see if she agrees…"
Her second in command raised an eyebrow at her. "Why ask Cat?"
"She is their leader, you know?" Lara crossed her arms, staring ahead of her. "She should decide what's the best place to settle down at…"

Brown eyes judged her for a moment, then Matthew let out a breath in disbelief. "You're not gonna let her go again, are you?"
Lara glanced at him for a moment, then faced forward, letting the wind blow back her hair. "It's not up to me."
A snort. "Not up to you, my butt." The captain glared at him dangerously, but Matthew was unimpressed. "And don't give me that look, Lara. You should just ask her, if you're not sure about how she feels."
Lara sighed, closing her eyes. "What if she says no," she whispered softly. "What if she wants to stay with them."
Matthew shook his head at her. "You don't seriously believe that, do you?"
"She's known me for two weeks, Matthew. Two weeks." The captain leaned her palms on the railing, her hands clenching around the wood. "She doesn't know half of the things I've done. There so much blood on my hands… And, I mean, I know I'm not great company. I can be stubborn, and impatient, grumpy… Why would she want to stay?"
"I'm not gonna sum up all your good qualities, you hear? It'd take way too long…" Matthew rolled his eyes at her. "Would you please get over this bout of self pity and get your act together?" 
"This is not self pity!" Lara shot an indignant look at him.
Matthew lifted his hands in defence. "Fine, but whatever it is, get over it, OK?" A shake of his head. "Look, I'm not gonna watch you torment yourself for another few years. So if you don't drop to your knees and beg her to stay, I will… And I have to warn you, they say I'm quite the ladies' man, so I might just woe her over if you're not careful…" 
"A ladies' man? You?" Lara gave him a look, then chuckled, shaking her head in disbelief. "You wish…"
"I do actually." Matthew grinned, then placed a hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "She's a very special person, Lara. You shouldn't just give up on her because you're scared…"
The captain expelled a breath, then nodded slowly. "I know." She turned her head and looked up at him with a small smile. "I won't…"

"Excuse me?" A voice interrupted from behind them
Lara turned and faced the mutineer. "Yes?"
"I need to see Cathy." Robert stated, straightening and folding his hands behind his back. 
"She's sleeping." The captain replied, leaning back against the wooden railing. 
Fletcher's paused for a moment. "Well, I have to discuss what we're going to do from here on…"
"You can discuss that with me."
"I think not." Robert muttered, then winced inwardly as an eyebrow raised dangerously at him. "I don't mean any disrespect." He hastily amended. "And I appreciate everything you've done, you know… And you can be sure you will be rewarded for this…"
"Rewarded?" A second eyebrow joined the first. 
"Yeah, sure…" Robert nodded vigorously. "You can take anything you want off the Phoenix… We have some money, or supplies, maybe? Ammunition?" He looked up at her. "You just pick out whatever it is you want, then I'll get Cat transferred to my ship and we'll get out of your way, all right?"
Lara crossed her arms. "No."
"What?" Fletcher blinked up at her. "What do you mean no?"
"No, I don't need money. Nor supplies." She leaned a little closer, dropping her voice. "And no, you are not taking Catherine off my ship…"
Robert cast a suspicious look her way. "I really am grateful for your help, but frankly, I can handle it from here on."
"You can't." Lara deadpanned. "You're vessel is damaged, your crew doesn't trust you, you have no experience in leading a ship, let alone one soon to be chased by the whole British fleet." She glared at the young man. "Until Catherine gets back on her feet, I'm in command of both our ships and I say we continue our repairworks on The Phoenix and rest before we start making any rash decisions. Understood?"
The blue eyes across from her had turned colder and colder with every word she spoke, and were now chips of ice. "What makes you think you can just take command of my ship? This is none of your business."
"Catherine is involved, and that makes it my business." Lara growled in a low voice, trying to remain calm. "I'm sorry if you don't agree with my methods, but for now, this is the way it is." She cocked her head at him. "Unless you wanna challenge my command, of course…" She flexed her hands, muscles shifting under the thin fabric of her shirt. "I'm a bit stiff from yesterday, but I think I'm up for a bit of a fight…" 
Fletcher narrowed his eyes at her, but then shook his head, pulling back and turning away from her. 

Lara's eyes followed him as he moved away. "Jerk."
Matthew chuckled, stepping up beside her. "At least he had enough sense not to challenge you. You gotta give the fellow credit for that…"
"Hmm." The captain muttered non-committaly. "How did I rate on the 'mouthing off' scale?"
Her second in command chuckled. "Well, it did take you a bit long to get rid of him… But then again, your defence of keeping Cat on the ship was quite nice… On a scale from one to ten, I'd say… an eight…"
"Eight?" Lara gave him a hurt look. "Just an eight? Aw come on… I just managed to get complete command of two vessels without as much as moving a finger… That at least rates me a nine."

Cathy wrapped her arms tighter around her pillow, her body grudgingly refusing to wake up. She blinked open her eyes, then lifted a hand and shielded them from the soft light.. Mid afternoon, her mind informed her. 
Cathy lay silently for a moment, watching the dust particles swivel around in the beam of light shining through the curtains. She could hear the bustling activity outside, the footsteps and the voices. She stretched slowly, tensing some muscles in her back and wincing at their response. Well, at least it hurt less then it had this morning…

She had several options now. She could stay in bed and let her wound heal… Or… 

She pushed herself up, lifting her legs over the edge of the bed, her bare feet touching the wooden floor, warmed by the sun's rays. Her knees were a bit shaky, but she just placed a hand on the bed end for support until they steadied, before taking a few steps towards the desk. 

She didn't have any clothes… That was a bit of a problem, she had to admit. She found one of Lara's clean shifts and carefully pulled the old one over her head, trying not to jar her ragged back. She wrapped the new shirt around her, buttoning up the front before she picked up a belt and wrapped it around her waist loosely. Lara's shirt fell nearly to her knees and Cathy grinned as she caught her reflection in the small mirror hanging in the captain's room. She ran a hand through her disordered hair, working some tangles out. 

"Hey, look who's awake." Tom nodded his head toward the blonde who had just emerged from the captain's chamber. "She does seem to have a thing for your clothing, cap."
Lara looked up, then sighed in disbelief, crossing her arms and glaring at the girl. "What do you think you're doing out here?" She called over, watching as Cathy's head shot in her direction at the sound of her voice and a small smile crept onto the woman's face.
"I wanted to see how things were going." Catherine said as she stepped closer. "See if there was anything I could do."
"What you can do is turn around, get back to bed and stay there." 
"Aw, Lara…" Cathy scowled at her. "I slept the whole morning… Please?"
But the captain shook her head relentlessly. "No way. You need to rest."
"But I'm bored…" The blonde argued.
"I'll get you a book." Lara stated, closing in on her. 
A pout. "I don't feel like reading." 
"Too bad." Lara clearly enunciated the words, leaning closer before dropping her voice. "Now go back." 
Cathy crossed her arms, taking up a pose similar to Lara's as she faced off against her, clearly unintimidated. "Make me." 

A small grin tugged at the corner of the captain's mouth and a mischievous sparkle lit up in her eyes. "Well…" She drawled, then reached out and grabbed onto Catherine's waist, lifting her up and tossing her over her shoulder with negligent ease. "If you insist…" 
Laughter shot up around them, the crew watching the spectacle in amusement.
"Lara!" Catherine pounded her fist against the captain's back in protest. "Put me down!"
"It's your own fault. You should've just listened to me." Lara said smugly as she headed back towards her room. 
"Put me down!" Cathy repeated, wiggling, trying to escape the captain's hold. 
But Lara just tightened her grip, using her boot to push open the door to her room. "Would you just hold still…" She muttered as she kicked the door back into its lock and crossed over to the bed, lifting Cathy's body off her shoulder and lying her back on the mattress. 
Green eyes glared up at her. "That was so embarrassing."
Lara chuckled, looking down on the blond head. "Hey, you challenged me. You didn't expect me to just back down, did ya?"
Catherine sighed in frustration. "You could have handled the situation a bit more tactfully, at least."
The captain grinned, sitting down beside her on the edge of the bed. "I could have… But this was fast, and quite efficient, if I do say so myself." 
Cathy rolled her eyes at her, but Lara could see the small smile creeping onto her face, reassuring her the blonde wasn't really mad. "I'll tell your crew you fought me valiantly every step of the way, OK?"
A chuckle. "I guess I can settle for that." She smiled as Lara reached out, her fingers gently tracing the bruise on her left cheek. 
"How's your back?" The captain asked softly, concluding the bruises had gone down just a little. 
"Better." Cathy amended, settling back in her pillows. 
"Better as in 'I don't feel a thing' or as in 'it might not hurt like hell anymore, but we're not out of purgatory just yet'?"
Catherine chuckled. "Option two, I'm afraid."
"Hmm." Lara muttered, not really having expected a miraculous healing, but hating to know Cathy was still in considerable pain. "You want me to put some more salve on your back? It might ease the burning a little…"
Her patient considered this for a moment, reasoning this would at least mean the captain would spend a few more minutes with her, then she nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I'd like that…"
"All right…" Lara shot her a smile, then stood and walked to her desk, picking the small jar of ointment off the wooden surface. "Flip." She instructed the blonde, after which Cathy rolled onto her stomach obediently, unbuttoning the top buttons on the shirt and shrugging the fabric off her shoulders, letting out a hiss of pain as her back objected to the movement. 
"Lay still." The captain's voice sounded behind her quietly as a hand gently touched her shoulder. Cathy smiled into her pillow, the pain fading as Lara's thumb drew small, soothing circles at the base of her neck. Cold drops of salve fell onto her back, then warm hands started to spread the liquid over her back. "Tell me if it hurts, OK?"
Cathy just let out a sigh in relief as the ointment cooled her pained skin. "Feels great." She mumbled into her pillow contentedly. 
Lara smiled down at her, then fell quiet for a moment, considering what to say. "I uhm… I talked to Matthew…"
"About?" Came the muffled question.
"Well, The Phoenix will be pursued by the whole British fleet, you know?" Lara searched for words. "I… I figured it's not a good idea to just keep sailing the seas… There's some small islands east of here… I thought…" She swallowed, her mouth going uncharacteristically dry. "I thought we could head for those and drop you guys off…"

A moment of complete silence, then Cathy half turned, lying on her side, looking up at her. "You want to drop me off?" She whispered, the pain evident in her voice. 
"No! No… " Lara hastily stuttered, a bit too hasty maybe. "I…" She dropped her eyes, turning away from the blonde. "I don't want you to leave…But… But I can't offer you anything... The life I lead is so dangerous…" She fumbled with her hands in obvious discomfort. "And I'm no fun to get along with most of the time, you know? Just ask anybody and they'll confirm that. You've only known me for two weeks, Catherine, you said that yourself. You'll get tired of me real fast, I'm sure and…" 

Her breath caught as two arms wrapped themselves around her waist, then a head pillowed itself against her left shoulder. "Please take me with you." Cathy's voice whispered in her ear. "Don't leave me again…"

Lara closed her eyes, drawing in a shaky breath as she leaned back against Catherine's body, soaking in the words. "I won't," she promised softly, covering the hands wrapped around her waist with her own. For a moment she allowed herself to imagine what it would be like, going on without Catherine, and it left her feeling intensely sad. "I couldn't anyway… It'd hurt too much…" She felt a tear trickle down her cheek, then the softest of touches as lips brushed it away. Lara managed a weak smile, then slowly turned her face to look over her shoulder where emerald eyes were now mere inches away. "I'm just afraid you have no idea what you're getting yourself into." She leaned her forehead against Cathy's. "I don't even know what I'm getting myself into. This…" She lifted a hand, gently stroking the side of Catherine's face. "This is so strong. Me and you… It scares me a little, sometimes…"
"Me too." Cathy admitted softly. "I had all these really good defences set up against this, you know? I told myself I was not gonna let anybody get close enough to hurt me ever again, I was not going to get attached… And then I saw you and…" She tightened her hold with a small smile. "And I guess I'm pretty much attached to you again…" She felt a silent chuckle run through the body in her arms, then there was a soft touch at the back of her neck, pulling her closer until she felt lips brush her own. 

Lara felt the link they shared grow stronger and stronger with every moment that passed, stirring something deep inside of her. Something strangely familiar. They were both afraid, afraid to get hurt again… But it'd be OK, she informed herself silently. It was not like she had a choice anyway… Pulling back now… It just wasn't a option. She was tired of fighting this, tired of hiding from the emotions. So she abandoned herself to them willingly, turning her body around a little further and managing to wrap an arm around Cathy's waist, tugging her even closer, deepening the kiss. This was right. They were right. And nothing, nothing, was ever going to stand between them again. 

They finally pulled back, slightly out of breath, gazing at each other for a moment, before Cathy fell forward, burying her head in Lara's shoulder. "You know, you're right…I have no idea what I'm getting myself into," she mumbled contentedly, her hands trailing up and down the captain's sides. "…but I sure look forward to finding out." 
Lara smiled, leaning her chin on the top of the blond head. "Yeah…"
They sat like that for a moment, basking in the closeness, then the captain reluctantly pulled back. "I should go… Matthew is probably wondering what's keeping me."
Catherine grinned. "I think he probably knows it's me."
"I guess…" Lara chuckled, releasing her hold on Cathy nevertheless, getting an annoyed grumble out of the blonde. "I'll be back in a bit, I promise… I just need to see to some last things and get our crews settled before nightfall." She gently pushed Catherine back on the mattress. "Now humour me and try to get some more sleep, all right?"
"I'm not sleepy." Cathy scowled at her. 
Lara rolled her eyes, pulling up the covers and tucking them around her friend. "Just try…" She bent down and placed a kiss on the top of the blonde's head. "Be good. Stay." She straightened reluctantly, giving Cathy a small smile as she took a few paces back, then pulled open the door and stepped out. 

Cathy expelled a breath, sinking back in her pillow and staring up at the wooden ceiling. Small lines of light were dancing across the surface and she watched them absently. Lara wanted her to stay… A wry smile found it's way onto her face. They had wasted so much time, the both of them… If she'd just had the courage to speak up all those years ago… Cathy closed her eyes, taking a breath. It had been worth it though, everything that had brought her here… The convict ship, the pain, the trials, even the three years of waiting… She'd do it all again if it would lead her to where she was now. She listened to the movement outside, Lara's voice yelling out an order, the soft sloshing of the water against the hull. She felt peaceful, and…

A light click sounded beside her, then the barrel of a gun was placed against her temple. "Don't move."
She winced as she recognised the voice, her eyes opening to see a soaked figure standing by her bedside, blood dripping from a huge gash in his left arm.
"Surprise." Karl said in tone flowing over with sarcasm. "Bet you're glad to see me again huh?"

Continued  in Part IV

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