Disclaimer: I own neither Warehouse 13, nor any of its characters. I am not making money off this story, nor has any money exchanged hands.
The buzzing of a Farnsworth jolted Claudia from her sleep.
"What," she snapped. She was cold and achy, and when her eyes finally focused, she saw Steve looking at her from his Farnsworth.
"Claude, are you still in the office?"
"Yeah, I was just… working on stuff." She sniffled and blew her nose.
"Still got that cold?"
"Yep. What did you want? I'm kinda busy." She knew she was being rude, but she was too tired to care.
"You know, you should really get some sleep. It's 2 AM."
"This is important, Steve. Someone's trying to hack into the Warehouse. I need to put up more firewalls."
"Besides the three impenetrable ones already in place?"
"Claude, you're working yourself too hard. When was the last time you slept in your own bed at the B&B?"
"I don't know."
"What about the last time you had a meal sitting down at the table without any paperwork or your laptop?"
"Geez, lighten up, mom."
"I'm worried about you, Claude. You keep getting sick, and you haven't left the Warehouse in days. You need a break."
"Jinksy, I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine. I am an adult, and I can take care of myself."
"I know you can, but are you?"
"Yes! Listen, I have work to do, so unless you need to remind me not to lose my lunch money, or to wash behind my ears, I'm gonna go."
She shut her Farnsworth.
She had to admit, she was exhausted. Being caretaker AND the tech genius of the Warehouse was taking up all of her time and energy. She been sick on and off for months. But she couldn't stop. Who would pick up the slack? Sure, Artie could mess around on computers, but he couldn't keep the Warehouse safe from Claudia-level hackers.
Pouring herself another cup of coffee, Claudia sunk back into her chair and began to work again.
"Okay, okay. You're fine, Donovan. It's just a little nosebleed. You're just overworking yourself. It's just a two hour, gushing, stress nosebleed."
Claudia was sitting on the office floor, holding a wad of tissues to her nose when she saw Leena approaching from inside the Warehouse.
Leena saw the girl leaning wearily against the wall, a pile of bloodied tissues surrounding her, and hurried over. "Claudia, how long has your nose been bleeding?"
"I don't know… Like two hours, maybe?"
"Okay, I'm taking you to the hospital."
"No, I'm fine."
"No you're not. Let's go."
"Ugh. Fine." The redhead made no attempt to get up.
"Well? What are you waiting for?"
"It's just… uh…"
"What is it?"
"I'm a little dizzy. That's kinda why I'm sitting down."
Leena's eyes softened in sympathy as helped the girl up and held onto her all the way out to the car.
"Shouldn't someone stay to do research in case Pete, Myka, and Steve call?" The three agents were out on assignment tracking down a particularly lethal sewing machine.
"They'll be fine, Claudia."
The redhead thought she heard a hint of agitation in the usually unflappable woman's voice.
"You need to slow down."
"Ugh. Has Steve been talking to you too?"
"We're all worried about you. I understand how much you care for the Warehouse. It's your life. But you're not doing it a favor by running yourself into the ground."
Claudia sighed. "As soon as I get this new firewall up, I'll try to slow down a little, okay?"
"Good. Have you had any other symptoms besides this?"
"Leena, it's just a nosebleed. It's just stress. What else could it be?"
The other woman remained silent, then pushed the button for the radio. Claudia groaned at the weird, peaceful music playing, then pushed the button to scan stations.
After a half hour of Claudia clicking between stations, never settling on anything for more than a minute, Leena reached over and turned it off.
"What else could it be? I mean I guess I've been really tired lately. And I've gotten a bunch of colds. And there's all these bruises coming out of nowhere...But it's just stress and exhaustion. It's got to be. Leena... you don't think it's something serious, do you?"
"No. I'm sure it's just a coincidence."
Claudia scowled. The woman had on her "your aura looks awful" face.
"Leena, what's wrong with my aura?"
Claudia was going to pry more, but just then they arrived at the hospital. She had bloodied an inordinate amount of tissues during the car ride.
"You think you can get inside okay while I park the car?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Claudia got out of the car and walked a bit unsteadily toward the door.
Once Leena finally found a parking spot 6 blocks away from the hospital, she checked her phone, and found a message from Claudia.
Claudia: They brought me to room 235, floor two and are going to cauterize my nose. Hurry it up, woman. I don't wanna be alone when they stick the hot iron thingy up there.
Leena walked a bit faster. She knew despite the younger agent's tough exterior that she feared and despised every sort of medical care, especially when no one familiar was with her.
When she finally made it up to the room, she found Claudia pressed into her bed, saying "Can you just wait a few more minutes?"
"I'm here, Claudia. It's okay."
"Oh, heeeey. Who's not okay?" She tried to act nonchalant, but Leena wasn't buying it.
"No one," the curly-haired woman said with a small smile.
"Alright, let's get this thing over with."
Leena grabbed her hand as the doctor laid her back and gave her some anesthetics. Amongst quite a bit of blood and several nearly hand-breaking squeezes from Claudia, the bloody nose was finally stopped. The cauterization iron had left the young Caretaker's nerves frazzled, and had singed black marks onto her nostrils.
"It may have just been a random nosebleed, but just in case, we're going to run some tests to see if there was any external cause for your nosebleed. Some will take a few days to process, so we'll get back to you next week," the doctor said.
"Okay, cool. Try'n make em snappy, will you? I've got things to do," Claudia said, eager to get back to her computers.
Claudia's phone rang the next day, and the Caller ID showed the Featherhead hospital.
"Hello, is this Miss Donovan?"
"This is Claudia." She had a sinking feeling in her stomach.
"Right. Well, Claudia, Dr. Sandusky has run your tests from last week's visit to the hospital, and has requested that you come down to the hospital today. It's very important."
Claudia was silent for a minute.
"Hello? Miss-er, Claudia?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm still here. I can come in. When does he have time?"
"He'll fit you into his schedule whenever you can come."
"Okay. Well, uh, I guess I'll be there in an hour and a half."
"You might…. It might be a good idea to bring a family member or friend or something."
"Oh… Uh, okay."
The redhead hung up, then stumbled into a chair. Just then, Leena walked in.
"Hey Claude, I was just looking for- what's wrong?"
The girl was staring wide-eyed at nothing.
"We uh…. need to… go to the hospital."
"What is it? What happened?"
"Nothing. Dr. Sandusky's nurse j-just called. She asked me to come down and the doctor would fit me into his schedule. And uh, she said to bring a family member." Her face was expressionless, as if she were in shock.
"Okay, when do we leave?" Leena's voice reassured the frazzled redhead.
"Now. I said we'd be there in an hour and a half."
They drove in silence, besides the light tapping of Claudia's fingernails against the dashboard.
"Leena, you knew something was wrong before, didn't you?"
The woman gave a small nod of her head, pressing her lips together.
"But you don't know exactly or you would tell me, right?"
The dark curls of the other woman bounced as she nodded again.
"Well… don't let this ruin my street cred, but…. I'm… I'm kinda scared."
The dark-haired woman took Claudia's hand and squeezed it as they pulled up to the hospital again.
Yeah, another happy story from me! Please review, and I'll have the next chapter up as soon as uni will allow.