It was unlike Roque to let his guard down. He preferred to keep his senses on high alert at all times. His excuse to himself was survival, and that wasn’t entirely untrue. It was mostly true in fact, but a tiny bit of that was because he was by Clay’s side. Clay might be higher rank, might be Colonel and leader of the Losers, but Clay was Clay. He could fend for himself. Clay’s proved this many, many times, but he has his weaknesses.
Yet, as Roque sat there in between Clay and the plane’s window he could feel himself begin to slip. It had been a tough few days – a tough few weeks, years – and it was wearing on his vigilance.
Clay was sitting silently to Roque’s right and the window to his left was a faint picture. He watched as clouds gently ripped apart and sank behind the plane. The rumbling of the plane’s engines made vibrations go through his feet to his fingers and they certainly weren’t helping. Clay lightly spoke up, his voice a low hum mixing with the engines’ own.
Roque idly turned to see him and watched as Clay’s lips moved, lips whose words nearly sent him to his death countless times. Who even knew what he was going on about, flipping through those papers? Roque quietly cursed at himself for not listening, but it’s not as if he could’ve and Clay wasn’t paying attention to him anyway. It reminded him of when he first had to learn Pashtun. He had no idea what the fuck they were saying, but he’d listen to the sounds, the rhythms. His Pashto was still rusty.
Clay finally looked up at Roque, their eyes meeting and snapping Roque into a higher state of consciousness. Clay drifted off midsentence into silence once again and stared at Roque’s face intently for a moment before chuckling. He looked back down at the folder and smiled to himself, “I’ll brief you on intel later.”
Was it that obvious? No, no, couldn’t be.
Roque held on a bit longer before everything became that unfamiliar fuzziness. He had fought against himself to stay awake, fiddling his thumbs, tapping on his knees - all futile attempts. How long was this fucking plane ride?
He wasn’t sure if Clay had noticed any of this, Roque didn’t want him to. Clay’s second-in-command couldn’t show any signs of fatigue, no. Surely, of all places not on a plane, but his body betrayed him.
Clay already knew. Of course he knew. If Clay knew anything, it was his Captain. He knew the pressure he’d been putting on his team. It would inevitably take its toll.
The soft turbulence and the awkward quiet of the plane lulled Roque deeper. He was a goner. His head swayed lightly as he fell into sleep. It had two options, the window or Clay. Of course it was just Roque’s luck that it hadn’t picked the less demeaning option.
Clay felt a heat and a slowly increasing weight on his shoulder. He was a little surprised. Not that he didn’t expect Roque to doze off, he just expected him to choose the window.