Rush wrapped his arms around himself, his face buried into the edge of the hard bed, too small for the two bodies crammed onto it. The faint light of the FTL filtered through the window casting eerie shadows onto the walls and the rusty closed door. The other body snored softly making Rush frown in distaste. So much for a good night's sleep. When there was no impending doom for the Destiny there was always something else to prevent him from the much needed rest making the scientist even more grumpy and ready to snap at the merest provocation. Like this latest 'achievement' that has stolen the whole blanket and the pillow and was slowly but steadily pushing Rush off his own bed.
Rush sat up with a sigh stealing back a corner of the blanket to cover as much of himself as the ratty thing would reach and leaned back to rest his head on the wall. The body beside him grumbled in sleep and pulled the blanket back making Rush groan in irritation. It was painfully clear the brat was not used to sharing a bed with anyone. Clumsy, annoying, too eager and absolutely oblivious, the type of person Rush wouldn't have ever let near himself, wouldn't have ever noticed under different circumstances. But the circumstances as they were led to this brat monopolizing his bed and, as much as he hated to admit it, a large portion of his life, the part that if he ever wondered in the wildest of theories could be shared with a man, he would think of someone more mature, observant and attentive, a person that would think of the other's needs before his own and know exactly how to work the other's psyche. But even in his wildest theories he didn't think he would ever truly get over his loss. It was simply impossible. And it would have been nice to have a person who could understand this loss, and accept it without trying to rip the memories out of his head. Maybe it was something the brat would achieve with time. If he stayed long enough and didn't run away screaming after a couple comments a touch too sarcastic. And maybe he was a little too tired because he actually considered that possibility, a small chance that this boy would stay for more than one night, the meager probability that now that he's got what he was after he wouldn't go back to mooning over the senator's daughter like a lovesick puppy. Not that he would care. Not really. Not in the slightest. No, really. He would just go back to his silent mourning spending the hours that he couldn't kill by working on the nightmares of a pale grey face, like an old parchment, and the sunken eyes, murky and empty, barely visible from under the lashless lids, and the bony hands that were too weak to hold a spoon.
The body grumbled again and turned, and Rush glared venomously at Eli as he threw a hand around his waist and cuddled shamelessly to his side.
"Would you stop that?" Rush glared venomously at Eli who was pacing in the control room.
"What?" Eli stopped to glare back at Rush. "Excuse me if I don't want to die!"
"You won't die," Rush bit through gritted teeth. "TJ has given you vaccine, and would you stop pacing, please? You're getting on my nerves!"
"Well, sorry for that!" Eli bit back sarcastically. "And are you sure the vaccine will work? Because no offence to TJ, but how do we know that Scott from the Kino was right? How do we know we can cure it at all?" He stopped again spreading his arms and raising both brows at Rush.
"You'll know soon enough," the scientist replied.
"Great." Eli started pacing again making the other man groan. "So we either die or not die. Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying," Rush snapped. "Now calm down! It wouldn't help anyone if you wear a hole in the ship's floor."
"How very nice and supportive of you," Eli muttered under his breath. "How can you be so calm?" he said aloud, stopping again.
"Why shouldn't I be?" Rush asked absently, already immersed in the readings on the control panel.
"I don't believe you!" Eli raised his arms in frustration then let them fall back to his sides. "We could be all sick, we could all die!"
"And your point is?" Rush didn't even lift his nose from the control panel.
Eli sighed in frustration. "There should be more ways to fight a disease!"
"And you are the foremost expert on diseases here." Rush finally turned to him glaring.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I am," Eli returned sarcastically, his eyes narrowed. "Well, not a medical expert, but I am." He folded arms on his chest and held his head up defensive.
"Oh, and how is it possible, I wonder?" Rush asked with a smile, his voice dripping with sarcasm, his arms mirroring the other man's gesture.
"I have experience," Eli answered. "Look." He sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "It's not something I talk about often."
"No, please." Rush gestured with a hand, sardonic grin still in place. "You started talking, and now I'm interested."
"Alright, fine." Eli glared at him for a few moments then took a deep breath. "You want to know? Fine. My mother's got HIV. She worked as a nurse and got stabbed by a junkie. So, yes, I know about dealing with diseases. And you know what? It's not about medicine. It's about keeping yourself fit and moving, it's about doing something else to keep yourself alive, and it's about believing."
"How very... spiritual of you," Rush bit out. "But you know what?" he mimicked Eli's earlier expression. "My wife died of cancer. So, yes, I know quite a bit about dealing with diseases, too."
Eli's face fell. He gulped nervously practically hearing the explosion of the landmine he's just stepped on. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.
"Why should you be? You didn't know her," Rush responded dismissively.
"But I know you," Eli said carefully. "What was she like?"
"What was she like when? When she had lost all hair after the chemotherapy? When she was coughing like an asthmatic from the metastases in her lungs? When she was so stuffed with psychoactive drugs she could barely remember her own name? She was a walking corpse. No, wait. She was a lying corpse with papery grey skin and complexion of a skeleton freshly dug from a century old grave. Oh, and you should know what a joy it is to change the bedpan, especially after an internal bleeding."
Eli made a face at the image. "I'm sorry," he said again. "I really am."
Rush snorted looking to the side.
Eli took a few tentative steps towards the other man and hesitated just a moment before putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't," Rush said tense moving the shoulder to shake the hand off. "Not here."
Eli sighed moving the hand away. "I'm really sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have said anything."
"This once I have to agree with you," Rush bit back.
"I was just..." Eli shifted from foot to foot. "Scared. You know."
Rush still didn't look at him, arms a little tighter around his chest.
"Sure you know," Eli babbled on. "I mean if I've thought about it-- It's scary when a person's just... gone and you haven't said something, haven't done something. Or when you're gone and didn't... do... something... erm..." The last part was a lot slower than the rest of the mumbled 'speech' as Rush swung to him with an angry glare.
"So you want to do something?" he asked a little too smooth, deceitfully calm tone making him look even more livid. "And what would that be, I wonder?"
"Why do you have to be so sarcastic? I'm being serious here! Yes, I would regret it if I haven't done anything about us."
"Us," Rush repeated sarcastic.
"Yes, us. Is there really an 'us'?"
"I don't know, you tell me," Rush raised both his brows, his mouth half open.
Eli groaned frustrated. "You're so difficult! Why can't you just admit it?"
"Admit what? You know... I've had enough. If you want it so much, here." He turned and strode out of the control room only to stop before the doorway. "Are you coming?" he threw over his shoulder.
"Where?!" Eli asked frustrated, but Rush has already went out leaving the younger man to sigh shaking his head and hurry after the scientist.
As it turned out they were heading to Rush's room, the door closing after them with a whoosh. As soon as it clicked closed Rush started undressing, his movements fast and jerky.
"What are you doing?!" Eli's eyes were the size of plates, his mouth hanging open.
"That's what you wanted, isn't it?" Rush half turned to him, both shirts hanging from his arms as he's already pulled them over his head.
"That's not! Well, it is but it's not the point!" He turned away as Rush bent to take his jeans and underwear off.
"I'm out of here. Cool down." He lifted a hand to open the door.
"Now you're telling me to cool down." Rush finally turned, completely naked now, to face Eli's back. "When it was you getting on my nerves for half an hour! You wanted this."
"Oh, and you didn't!" Eli spun around with a glare and had to immediately turn his eyes to his shoes blushing.
Rush smirked. "See? That's what I was talking about."
Eli lifted his head to glare at Rush, carefully not looking below the man's face. "I still say that's not the point."
"Alright, then what is?" Rush folded arms on his chest, totally too comfortable without clothes.
"Does it really matter?"
"No, I'm interested. What do you have to say?" Rush smiled, that stretch of lips that didn't reach his eyes.
Eli let out an exasperated sigh. "You wouldn't understand."
"Try me." Still the same smile saying clearly that the scientist wouldn't even try to.
"You know what," Eli said. Maybe telling the man anything was bound to make the older man snipe him to death, but who said he couldn't show him. "Maybe you were right. Maybe that's what I want."
Rush snorted clearly not convinced. "Alright," he said spreading his arms. "Do whatever you want."
Eli gulped. He made a careful step towards Rush and stopped not sure what to do. "Erm," he said. "Maybe it's a bad idea."
Rush snorted. "That's why I say you act like a child."
Eli frowned at the smaller man. "You know I hate it when you say that."
"Then act like an adult," Rush smirked. "If you can, that is."
Ignoring the obvious rouse, or maybe acting on it, Eli reached to grasp the back of Rush's neck hesitating for a moment before leaning forward to plant an awkward kiss across the man's mouth. Rush didn't participate in the slightest staying like a statue, unreceptive. Eli frowned again doubling the efforts of his too wet kiss and pushing Rush towards the bed. The older man stopped when the back of his knees bumped into the edge and leaned away from the messy kiss to crawl onto the bed and lie down prone with a smirk and a raised brow.
Eli gulped again, his eyes gliding over the slender, almost completely hairless body exposed to him, took a deep breath and crawled onto the bed to spread the nicely toned legs positioning himself.
"What do you think you're doing!?" Rush protested pushing his upper body off the bed.
"Erm... I..." Eli stammered.
"You brute, I am not a woman! Do you have any idea what you're doing!?"
"No." Eli smiled sheepish.
Rush growled in frustration muttering something about 'bloody' and 'imbeciles' under his breath. "First," he said with strained patience, "you have to at least prepare me. And second, you won't hold me responsible if you get urethritis, and you are going to explain it to Lieutenant Johansen by yourself."
"Are you trying to kill the mood on purpose?" Eli put the legs down making a face. "And how am I supposed to..."
Rush glared at him for a few moments. "Never mind," he said finally. 'Make me come."
"You heard it." Rush glared at him some more. "We don't have many options for lubrication."
Eli blushed looking less and less confident by the second.
"Are you going to sit here like a virgin?" Rush grumbled after a minute.
"I... No, I..." Eli cleared his throat. "Okay." He took a deep breath and reached a shaky hand to Rush's groin stopping a few inches shy of the man's half-hard cock. Another breath, and he finally wrapped the hand around it.
"Careful!" Rush winced at the tight grip.
"Sorry." Eli flicked his wrist adjusting and started stroking with uncertain movements.
Rush grumbled about complete lack of technique but after a few minutes of adjusting and change of pace started to relax finally lying flat and spreading his legs further. The complaints mutated into blunt directions making the younger man flush and fidget trying unsuccessfully to get a little more comfortable in his suddenly tight pants.
One of Rush's hands moved to his face, and two fingers disappeared in his mouth with an obscene hollowing of the man's cheeks. Eli groaned at the scene and reached with his free hand to open his pants only to be swatted away by Rush's.
"Don't get distracted," he muttered, eyes half closed, as his other, wetted, hand slid down to stretch himself.
Eli's breath caught and he stared open-mouthed as Rush writhed on the bed, head thrown back, panting and bucking, and it was all of his concentration not to reach for himself and stroke in time with his movements on Rush's cock.
Finally Rush arched in a silent release covering Eli's hand in sticky white, and Eli couldn't help making a face as the older man sagged on the bed panting softly.
"Urgh," Eli was going to wipe his hand on the bed cover when another, surprisingly strong considering the panting form, hand grasped his wrist. "Don't," Rush said managing a half-hearted glare. Then he gathered as much of the come from Eli's hand as he could. "Are you going to undress?" he asked at Eli's confused blinking.
"Undress. Right." Eli let out a nervous laugh. "Right," he said again and crawled off the bed to take his clothes off with surprising, almost military speed making the man still on the bed almost roll his eyes.
"So." He stood straight, not nearly as shy as he thought he would be. "What do I do next?"
Rush bumped his head on the bed with a long-suffering sigh. "You really are an imbecile," he muttered.
"Hey! I heard that!" Eli huffed, hands on his hips.
"I'm sure you did," Rush returned in his 'charming' manner. "Now get back here and do whatever you were going to."
"Yes, I mean," Rush lifted his head to snap then dropped it back to the bed.
"Okay." Eli crawled back onto the bed carefully and sat a safe distance away from the other man fidgeting nervously.
"Where is that teenaged lust of yours when it's needed?" Rush sniped.
"Right here if you want it," Eli returned with a glare.
"Oh, I most certainly do," Rush said sarcastically and spread his legs bumping Eli's thigh with his foot in the process.
Eli had to grit his teeth and count from ten backwards. "Are you sure you're up to it?" he said finally. "I mean, now that you..." He made an unidentifiable gesture with his hands.
Rush looked at him like he was the most dimwitted first grader the man had ever seen. "I can assure you that at the moment my body--"
"Okay, okay, I get it." Eli raised both his hands to stop the comment. "Did anyone tell you you're too blunt?"
"Does it injure your delicate psyche? Because I don't remember forcing you to endure it." Rush's retort was as 'charming' as ever.
Eli sighed sneaking a peek at his wilting member. Rush followed his line of sight and made a face. "Do you need help with that?" He tilted his chin in Eli's general direction.
"Yes, please," Eli answered sarcastic, his eyes narrowing. "Considering it's your fault."
"Oh, is it now?" Rush said absently reaching his foot to Eli's groin and massaging it with his toes.
Eli's retort died on the tip of his tongue at the expert press of the toes, the wilting erection springing back to life happily.
"Move here," Rush said withdrawing his foot.
Eli did settling between the spread legs looking at Rush expectantly.
"Do I have to instruct you all the way?" he grumbled. "Closer." As Eli complied he reached his come covered hand to stroke the happily bouncing erection spreading the substance.
Eli pushed into the hand with a soft moan trying to get more of the friction and whimpering when Rush stopped withdrawing his hand and wiping it on the covers.
Suddenly Eli was nervous again. He looked at Rush's unreassuring face and took a deep breath. "Here goes," he said lifting Rush's slim hips and positioning himself at his entrance.
"God, you're tight," he growled as his head passed the ring of muscle.
"Of course I am," Rush growled back through gritted teeth. "I don't have a lot of... exercise here. Easy, you daft brute."
"Sorry." Eli stopped halfway in panting heavily.
Rush dropped his head back, his muscles clenching and unclenching adjusting, then sighed finally relaxing. "Now," he said.
"Now what?" Eli asked confused, all the blood drained from his brain to his nether regions.
"Now move," Rush snapped lifting his head with a glare.
"Erm, okay." Eli pushed the rest of the way in holding his breath, his teeth gritted, and had to stop again before it ended all too soon. Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself he started thrusting carefully forcing his eyes to stay open to watch Rush who was lying limp, panting.
"Move a bit to the side," he instructed. "No, the other way. Down. Not so much! Yes, right there." His head thrown back, Rush arched into the thrusts meeting them, setting a rhythm, harder and faster, making the both of them moan and groan.
Finally Eli folded in half pressing his forehead to Rush's chest emptying himself into the older man with a loud groan and slumping onto him.
"You're heavy," Rush hissed out bucking against the bigger body.
"Sorry," Eli panted moving clumsily to get off the other man and making him hiss again as he slid out of him. Something bumped his elbow as he moved over, and Eli looked down and straight at Rush's stiff cock. "Oh, you haven't..."
"How nice of you to notice," Rush sniped. "And here I thought you would have paid better attention."
Eli had the decency to look sheepish. "I should..." He leaned in opening his mouth only to be stopped by a hand on the top of his head.
"Better not," Rush said. "I don't want it bitten off."
Eli huffed at the utter lack of belief in his skills, even as they both knew he had none, and simply wrapped a hand around Rush trying to remember what worked best on him earlier, moving his wrist to stroke around the head then down in long steady strokes. Rush thrust into his hand gritting his teeth to hold the sounds in and finally releasing a long sigh, his eyes closed, his body arching.
This time Eli wiped his hand before Rush could say something. Not that he was going to --- he lay panting heavily with his eyes closed, his head rolling to the side.
"Are you okay?" Eli asked concerned.
Rush nodded. "In a minute. I'm not fifteen anymore."
Eli moved closer reaching a hand to stroke Rush's hair and stopping at the last moment, his hand dropping back to the bed. Then he stretched out turning to his side, his back to Rush, and waited until the breathing behind him evened out and the dipping of the mattress signaled the other man settling on the bed.
"You know," he said after a few minutes, not sure if the other man was awake. "My mom... She has to live with it. I mean, it's not something you can get rid of, it's not something that can be cured. So, all we can do is believe that all those meds help her go on a little bit longer, and when it finally... gets her, it happens later rather than sooner. So yeah, it's all about believing for me." He sighed turning to his back and turning his head to watch Rush's still form. "I guess you're asleep," he said turning back to his side with a sigh.
Rush closed his eyes burrowing his face further into the edge of the bed.
Eli sighed turning away, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Do you have to be so... indifferent?" he asked frustrated. "Do you even care about any of us?"
"Of course I do care!" Rush snapped from his place at the control panel. "And I already told you we needed that ice for every one of us to survive. Can't you get it past your childish idealism?"
"Oh, great!" Eli snapped back. "So I'm childish to care about human lives!" He huffed crossing arms on his chest.
"You are," Rush returned. "For caring about one life over all of the others."
"But it's important!" Eli glared. "Every life is important!"
"Alright, fine." Rush sighed. "Then what did you want me to do? Call Colonel Young back so he would have been stuck here unable to do anything while we'd lost our chance to replenish water supply? And how would that save anyone exactly?" He mirrored Eli's pose, fingers of one hand drumming on his other upper arm.
"But... It wasn't fair! You should have given him a chance to decide for himself!"
"And doom us all to die of dehydration, because we both know his military brain would rather fight the alien bugs than think about supplies."
"But... but... Lying is bad!"
"That was so very mature of you," Rush sniped.
"It is," Eli muttered pouting making Rush snort and smile involuntarily.
"Listen," he said with a sigh. "Sometimes we have to lie. Sometimes truth does more damage than good."
"Like when?" Eli was still a perfect image of a pouting toddler.
Rush thought for a few moments. "For example," he said, "when you have a water supply to replenish, and you have--"
"Great, we're back to it," Eli interrupted. "I still say it's wrong."
Rush let out an exasperated sigh. "Well, can you honestly say you've never lied in your life?"
"No? But I can't say it was the right thing to do."
"Why do you have to make it all so simple?" Rush asked with an air of a primary school teacher slowly losing his patience.
"Because it is!" Eli protested.
"Believe me, it is not," Rush answered in a strained voice. "Why do I even bother explaining it?" he muttered under his breath. "It's so childish thinking in black and white," he said louder.
"Oh, don't give me the shades of grey speech!" Eli retorted. "Because we both know it's justifying your selfishness!"
Rush glared at him for a moment before saying in a quiet, deceptively calm voice: "Is it now?"
"Yes, it is!" Eli snapped oblivious to the change of mood.
"Well, aren't you being selfish here?" Rush asked, his glare getting darker, the air itself around him seeming to swallow the light. "You want everyone to dance to your idealistic morals without thinking of the consequences."
"Oh, I do! I always think about consequences unlike someone else! It was you who opened the 'gate here instead of back to Earth!"
"Because it was the right thing to do!" Rush finally snapped raising his voice. "It is the most important discovery for all of the mankind since the Stargate itself!"
"What if we all died!?"
"What is the death of a couple dozens of people compared to the greater good of all of the humankind!?"
"It's so simple for you! Let the spider eat the butterfly! Well, I say we save both! These are all lives! There are no red jackets here!"
"It's so easy for you to say! Hoe are you going to do that!? You can't save everyone!" The last part was screamed out, and both men stopped, panting.
"I can at least try," Eli gritted out finally.
"Well, good luck with that," Rush said dismissively returning to the control panel. "If it doesn't interfere with my work."
"See!?" Eli sprung up. "That's what I was talking about! You don't care about anything but your work!"
"And that's what keeping us all alive!" Rush retorted angrily.
"God, you're so self-righteous!"
"Thank you, but you can call me Dr. Rush," the man replied going back to his work.
"Geez, I can't believe I had to fall for this arrogant bastard," Eli muttered.
Rush's hands froze over the panel.
Eli looked up at the sudden silence, and his eyes bugged out as he realized he'd said the last part out loud.
"I mean..." Eli fidgeted. "I have to go." He turned quickly.
"Eli?" The carefully emotionless voice stopped his hasty retreat.
Eli turned back slowly. "Well, I'm sorry I said that but I'm not sorry for what I feel," he said defensive, his chin lifted and back straight as if a board was tied to it.
Rush looked him up and down. "One of the things the grownups do," he said carefully, "is take responsibility for their actions... and words."
Eli blinked, his stance slumping in confusion. "You mean..." he said, not quite believing what he was hearing.
"Don't make me repeat myself," Rush said tense.
"So, erm... I can..." Eli made a few careful steps towards the other man, a hand reaching out and stopping at the man's glare.
"There will be some restrictions," Rush said.
"Yeah, right." Eli had a crooked grin on his face. "Ground rules. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole." The grin died at the dark glare that said clearly that Rush didn't appreciate the reference, even if there was no way he could have understood it. "Right, sorry." Eli said with a nod. "Restrictions, right."
Rush heaved a long-suffering sigh shaking his head. "What am I getting myself into?"
Eli grinned like a madman and made the last step to wrap his arms around the protesting scientist.
Eli stepped back from the embrace, hair standing in all directions and the black suit rumpled and covered in dust in places.
"Sorry," he muttered. "I just need... I don't know, contact."
Rush nodded solemnly, understanding all too well the need for a human body, alive and healthy.
Healthy. He hid his cringe at the sudden ache in his stomach. "Go back," he said pushing his husband out of the small bedroom. "It's not polite to disappear in the middle of the service."
"And you?" Eli looked at him almost pleading.
"I'll be there in a minute," Rush replied.
Sighing Eli went out, his shoulders slumped. The moment the door closed behind him Rush let the cringe show and rummaged through the bedside table drawer to fish out a bottle of pills and swallow a couple dry.
A piece of paper fell out of the drawer. A small blank stating clearly that he should contact Memorial Central as soon as possible and, please, consider starting the treatment. He snorted. As if there was anything to consider. The painful coughing was getting impossible to hide, as was the change of diet, the courtesy of the damn metastases in the stomach. As much as he hated to bring it up at such an unfortunate moment, it wasn't something he could hide forever.
Another sigh, his eyes strayed to the bed, rumpled covers thrown clumsily over the sheets, so unlike another bed, immaculate and empty, lifelessly white. An image came of his own self, grey-skinned and hollow-eyed, in one of those lifeless beds, and he had to shake his head to get rid of it, to get himself back together.
With one final cautious look at the rumpled bed he turned and went out of the room, his black-covered back straight, head held high, the stoic mask firmly in place.