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It's Not Anything New

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“You sure you can handle it?” Imani looked at the priest, her mouth curled in a subtle grin.

“Positive. Is there a date you need these done by?”

“The end of the week.” She nodded her head slowly, weighing how much time she was going to have to dedicate to this side mission, the following report, and the briefing. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it wasn’t going to be difficult either. Besides, she’d had to complete more in the same amount of time when serving under Karakesh.

“Consider it done.” The priest relaxed, folding his hands over each other.

“I appreciate it, Captain. Dismissed.”

-

She tapped her pen against the table, staring at the blank piece of paper. If she was going to be honest, she had no idea how long she’d been like this. 30 minutes? An hour? Two hours? Well, at least it wouldn’t be the first time.

Imani sighed, leaning back against her chair. How many times had those words gotten her through difficult tasks? More than she could count on both hands, that was one thing she was certain of. However, dwelling on that would be straying from the task at hand. She’d have 4 more days to complete this report, and she’d been unable to get started. Yeah, she’d written reports in a day before, but they were sloppy, messy. She knew better.

Before she could regain her focus, a knock sounded at her door.

“You there, Captain?”

“Give me a moment.” Imani stretched, reaching her arms high over her head as she arched her spine. Satisfied, she stood up and walked over to open door, being greeted by the airship’s secondary pilot. “What may I do for you?”

“When I was off shift, I decided to take my glider out. When the wind caught my sails, it blew me out towards the west, and man, something didn’t feel right. It was like, like when you eat something that disagrees with you and there’s a twisty-turny feeling in your gut.”

“Can you get to the point.”

“Right, sorry.” She rummaged through her bag for a few moments before pulling out a bundle of papers, all punched with a single hole and bounded by a strand of string. “Can you look over these notes? I’ve gone around asking, but everyone else has either told me they’re too busy or shut the door in my face.” Imani took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of her nose. More work. Needless to say, she wasn’t too keen on having a bigger workload.

“What will I be getting out of this?”

“Um, I can talk to the chef and arrange that you get hot meals and I’ll organize your files for a week.” Deep down, Imani knew that she could get something more out of this. She deserved more if she decided to do this.

“Fine.” She wasn’t in the mood to negotiate.

“Oh, oh thank you!” The pilot handed her the papers, beaming. “You won’t regret this! Promise!”

Imani was very much aware of the fact that yes, yes she was going to regret this.

-

There were already 3 days left before the deadline.

Imani didn’t really know why she felt so stressed about this. Sure, she only has a page and a half written of her report and hadn’t even started looking over the notes, but she still had 3 days. All she needed was for people to stop panicking and calling false alarms. No, Devaedra was not currently planning an assault and no, Tesserus did not create a robot whose sole purpose was to destroy civilization.

She sighed, rolling over in bed. Normally, she’d have more patience when dealing with teammates who made simple mistakes like those. It had been getting more difficult keeping her temper under control, however, especially since she could be working on more important matters as opposed to attending to a fright. It is what it is, Imani supposed.

It was at that moment when she realized that she had been lying awake in bed for two hours.

-

Imani pressed two fingers to her temple, eye shut tight and lips pursed. The dull ache that had appeared that morning had worsened, turning to a tight, throbbing behind her eyes. Static twisted in the corners of her mind, eating away at her focus, her drive to continue her work. However, the thought of continuing made the pain worse, her grip around the pen so tight that her knuckles paled.

Seconds later, the pen clattered against the floor as she held her head in her hands, fingers curling in her hair. Her teeth clenched and unclenched, the pain steadily becoming more and more unbearable until she just couldn’t take it anymore. Abruptly standing from her chair, she burst out into the hall, briskly making her way towards the bathroom. Once there, she snapped open a drawer, took out a washcloth, dampened it with warm water, and returned to her quarters, laying on her bed with the cloth draped over her head.

To her luck, it helped.

...Somewhat.

Although the warmth from the cloth helped alleviate the pain, it did nothing to put an end to the pressure that persisted behind her eye. Given that it had lasted the entire day, Imani doubted that it wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Perhaps it’s time to head off, she thought, reaching over to turn off her lamp. After fumbling with the switch for a few moments, the light flickered off. Then left the final debate: should she bother taking off the washcloth? Logic dictated that yes, she should; better to not get her pillow damp, after all.

-

To her annoyance, the headache had returned the next morning.

Groaning, Imani rolled out of bed, the light of the morning sun temporarily blinding her. After closing her blinds, she went about her morning routine much slower than she would’ve liked, fumbling with the buttons on her shirt and taking too much time to adjust her eyepatch. Her instincts told her to call in sick, to take a day off and rest, but she talked herself out of it. You’ve dealt with worse, she told herself. No point in letting a headache put you a day behind.

-

Imani took a single bite out of her eggs before realizing that her appetite had suddenly vanished. How odd. She wasn’t going to let that discourage her from eating, though. One of the worst mistakes a soldier could make was to not eat breakfast, after all. No breakfast meant no energy, and there was no way she was ever going to make that mistake again.

“Boss.” Imani’s eye flicked over to the sound of the voice, but she made no further acknowledgement. Beckett pursed her lips, her brow furrowed in annoyance. “Still giving me the silent treatment, huh? Can’t ignore me forever, y’know.” The rocketeer sighed, placing her plate on the table before dropping into the chair. “What’re you gonna be doing after the mission? Oh, wait, I got it: work.” She took a bite out of her pancakes before giving her a side-eye. “Don’t you know how to take a break? How to even live a little?” Imani put her fingers onto her temple, her jaw clenching. Her head was pounding, the pain already unbearable. “Imani?” The bite to Beckett’s words had disappeared. “Hey are you okay?”

Scowling, Imani dismissed herself, taking care of her plate before slinking into the hallway.

Work. She still had to finish her report from last night as well as start writing up a briefing for that afternoon. On top of that, she still had to read through the pilot’s notes about the strange occurrences happening to the west of their location. The mere thought of everything she needed to do made her head erupt in a splitting pain. To top it off, blood started flowing out of her nose, trickling down her chin before dripping onto her shirt.

Calm down. This isn’t the first time you’ve had your work cut out for you and it certainly isn’t the last. This isn’t anything new, so there isn’t much need to stress about it. I’ll get it done. Imani took a deep breath, but it did nothing to ease the pain or the rate that blood spilled out of her nose. You’ll be fine.

“Captain?” Imani turned her head to look at Beckett, her hand instinctively moving up to cover her nosebleed. Whatever bitter resentment she had carried with her when sitting at her table had disappeared, having been replaced with worry. “What’s going on?”

Imani glared at her.

“Look, I get I’m the last person you want to talk to, but I’m what you’ve got right now.” Beckett reached into her pocket, rummaging around for a bit before pulling out a napkin. “Here.” Begrudgingly, Imani took it, wiping the blood off her face and pinching the area above her nostrils. “Talking about work made you stressed, huh? Got too much on your plate?” She didn’t respond.

Beckett let out an exasperated sigh.

“Can you stop it with the silent treatment?! I know you’re still mad but this is a level of immaturity I never thought I’d see you reach. So...please, what’s going on?” Right then, Imani knew she was beat.

“...Deadlines. I’ve a couple of them today but I haven’t been able to make much progress on my work due to various unforeseen complications.”

“You’re overworking yourself. ...As usual.” Beckett rubbed the back of her head. “You really haven’t learned how to take a break, huh?”

“I don’t need them. Besides, this is more important than taking a break.”

“To think you used to always get on my back about how I wouldn’t take care of myself. Imani, you, of all people, should know that it’s okay to rest once in a while. You don’t always have to take full responsibility for everything. It’s okay to just...let someone else have it for once, y’know?”

“I suppose.”

“So...please, do you think you can take a break?”

“...Fine.” Beckett’s shoulders fell in relief. Imani hadn’t even noticed that she had tensed up.

“Phew...I really thought I was gonna hafta fight you on that. I’ll let the others know that you’re taking a desperately needed day-off and hand ‘em what you were able to complete, alright? Alright. Let’s go.” It wasn’t really surprising that Beckett was going to refuse any other possible answer Imani could’ve said, but she wasn’t in the mood to argue with her on this. So, she followed her back to her quarters, promptly laying down when given the chance.

“I’m guessing all of your unfinished junk is the mess on the desk, right?”

“Correct.” Without another word, Beckett started organizing, stacking the papers into neat piles as she tidied up her desk. If she had any comments, she chose not to make them.

“I’m gonna go hand these over to the priest, okay?”

“Mm.”

“And then I’m gonna come back here and make sure you’re resting.”

“Mm- What?” But before she could get an answer, the rocketeer was out the door.