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Beckett snorts, wrinkling her nose when she is woken by a strong and unpleasant smell. It’s herbal and familiar, but she cannot place it in that moment, her thoughts slippery and difficult to shape while she’s still coming to her senses. A pair of firm hands stay her before she can obey her first instinct to stand, they are warm against her shoulders.

“Easy. Go slow.” Imani’s voice, abrupt and a little too loud, is a comfort regardless. A twinge of pain knots in her side as she hauls her body upright and peers bleary-eyed into the low light. They are both in her small, two-man tent - she would recognise those canvas walls anywhere. It’s dusk now, the sun falling dark orange against the material. Everything is in order, not a hair out of place, and all is quiet.

However, Beckett distinctly remembers leaving earlier that day, remembers sliding her pistols into their holsters and going on a perimeter check with… someone. A dull ache settles across her torso and without thinking she braces her hand against the area. Her fingers come away cool and sticky.

“Don’t touch it,” Imani grumbles from where she has moved away to rub her hands clean on a damp cloth. Beckett blinks up at her, having almost forgotten she was there at all. The subtleties of her expressions are lost on most but Beckett can tell she is angry, her brows bunched together in that way that she knows all too well.

Inspecting her hand, she finds that the pong is coming from there; the yellowish sheen gives away the smelly substance as some kind of salve, a basic painkiller. A blush creeps up her neck when she realises it must have been Imani who has applied it. The thought might have been a lot more pleasant if she could convince herself it had not been carried out with a scowl across her face.

“What happened?” Beckett croaks, voice hoarse from disuse. She watches Imani finish cleaning her hands and, after a beat of silence, thinks that she won’t get a reply at all. Then, Imani heaves a sigh, and the tense hunch in her shoulders slowly unfurls.

“I don’t know,” she replies, not wanting to admit it. “You left with Roshe, and an hour or so later he came back with you passed out in his arms. He says you just fell down, exhausted.” Her voice is husky as though she can barely reign in her temper. Somehow the quiet, terse words are worse than if she was shouting. The jig is up then.

“I was going to tell you.” It is a measly appeasement, one that she knows Imani will not accept.

“When, Beckett!?” Imani demands, gnashing the words in half like she does not want them to escape. “When you were in so much pain you couldn’t walk or when you made it worse and punctured a lung!?”

Beckett tuts, wiping her hand against some other area of her exposed belly. “You’re being dramatic,” she says. If Imani spent time nursing her wounds just to keep her alive long enough for one more lecture, perhaps she would have preferred that Roshe left her at the side of the road. “It’s a broken rib, a fracture or something.”

“You don’t keep secrets from the captain!” It is the first rule Imani teaches all those who fight under her banner. They run dangerous missions, and those she can’t trust do not last long. It’s one of the few rules Beckett is careful never to break. Until now, she supposes.

“Is that what this is about? You not being in control?” She aims her glare at the packed earth of the floor, whatever gall that had let her get the words out deserting her as quickly as it had come. As soon as the words leave her mouth she desperately wants to pluck them out of the air, she’s in no fit state to defend herself if Imani chooses to throttle her - not that that has ever stopped her running her mouth.

Imani pulls in a sharp breath, her chest swelling with the force of it. “No! I just wish you- I wish I… that you would tell me things.” Each word catches in her throat, deflating as they struggle free until she is almost whispering. She looks as though she has more to say, eyes frantically roaming as she searches for the words but the fight has gone from her now. Instead, she collapses down at the foot of Beckett’s cot and puts her head in her hands.

Neither of them speak for what feels like a long time. Beckett wants desperately to comfort her, but no helpful words came to mind, and leaning over to put a hand on her shoulder would only lead to further scolding. So, she settles for leaving her to think, to collect herself.

Then, Imani stands, and her thick swallow is audible as she steps to her bedside. She takes a small flask from the ground and unscrews the lid. Steam curls upwards from the opening, an earthy aroma spilling out with it. “I brought you some food. You need to keep your strength up.”

“You don’t have to feed me,” Beckett replies, regretting it immediately when the words come out shorter than she had intended.

Imani seems to acknowledge the apologetic look she shoots her, though. “Do you want second-degree burns as well?” She asks, a well disguised joke. Smiling, Beckett makes a show of surrendering to it and allows herself to be fed. It’s good, well seasoned and tastes faintly of coltsfoot, the same herb that Imani’s favorite sweets are made from. The thought makes her feel fuzzy, like her insides are made of wool. The smell has always been one she is fond of.

Looking up at her while she chews a mouthful, she sees a tenderness in her eye she cannot ever remember seeing before. It hardens when Imani detects she is being watched, disappearing completely by the time Beckett finishes the meal.

The captain sets the flask down next to her bed and taps the lid with her finger. “Make sure you finish it; I want it all gone by tomorrow.”

“Yes ma’am,” Beckett mocks a salute, a playful gesture.

“And once it’s digested make sure you take a walk or do some simple stretches. It won’t set right if you don’t exercise,” Imani tells her gently. Her gaze falls to the ointment that remains tacky on Beckett’s side, the flesh still bruised a deep purple. She doesn’t make a comment, but worries her bottom lip with her teeth. There is no doubt she will keep a close eye on it.

-

Each morning for three weeks Imani checks on her, giving her just enough salve every day that she has an excuse to come back the next. She convinces herself she would show the same duty of care to any member of her troop but, deep down, she knows that she would not insist to treat them herself, nor would she personally ensure they ate every day.

It is probably guilt, she tells herself. Their last job had gone awry: she had seen Beckett get crushed when the ship lurched to one side, having waited for her to squeeze out from behind the cargo unit with baited breath. The week following she had been sluggish and unusually quiet, Imani had been a fool not to worry.

“You know. I think I can do it myself…” Beckett sheepishly informs her one evening. Imani blinks out of her thoughts, her cheeks colouring over red when she realises she has rolled up her sleeves without having to think about it. The pot is relinquished from her hands, though Beckett allows her to stay while she applies it.

Upon inspection it seems that the bruising has faded, she knows, however, there’s still a while to go before Beckett stops finding herself breathless or absentmindedly holding her side. Imani doesn’t let her eyes linger, and instead turns her attention to the focused pout on Beckett’s face as she goes about her task with diligence.

“Can I go on patrol later?” she asks, tucking her shirt back in.

“Absolutely not,” Imani replies.

“Please!?”

Imani’s eye softens on her a little, sympathetic. “You will complain when you have to go back to work in a few weeks,” her voice is wry, good-humored. She knows she is bored, everyone does; she’s been a nuisance about camp lately.

“Yeah… you’re probably right,” Beckett scoffs, holding up her hands in defeat. Then, she smiles, that cocky smirk she always makes before she’s about to say something stupid, something impossibly endearing. “I am gonna miss you playing nurse, though.”

Imani huffs and ducks out of the tent, praying her blush is not too obvious.