after justice and blue aliens
Rush returns on Destiny after the "land-slide" and he is - changed. He has to deal with his past, his present, fluctuating between the man he was before Gloria s death and the man he is now.
"No, sir, not yet, " TJ was gently thrusting him out of the infirmary. " He is, as far as I could judge, relatively unharmed, he just needs to sleep it off. The concussion was not a severe one and, all in all , I think Dr. Rush has had a great deal of luck."
Yeah, sure, the Colonel thought grimly, a great deal of luck.
Before stepping outside he turned around and threw a wary glance at the still form of Rush. The haggard face, tight with pain - the knowledge of what ordeal the man must have passed through - struck him with an almost physical force. Struggling for self-reassurance, he bit the remorse back. No. The bastard did all this to himself, and he, Young, just would not go saddled with the guilt till the end of his days. So that is there. He. Did. It. To. Himself.
"Call me as soon as he wakes."
TJ did exactly that. Three hours later.
Young paused just for a second outside the infirmary, bracing himself for the onset of the infuriated scientist, for the hurl of his words, possibly shouts. For the truth which Rush would reveal and which Young would deny. For the revelation.
He entered, walked to the bed, stared impassively at deadly pale Rush. Stared calmly, refusing to lower his eyes, prepared to fight Rush`s statement- as he was fighting his own conscience.
Rush stirred, trying to sit up, eyes still a bit unfocused.
" A Welcome back would be rather stale but quite appropriate, you know," he murmured un a rasp voice.
Colonel just stared. Not at the words, but at the way Rush said them. The tone was decidedly wrong - for the situation, yes, but also for Rush -as -he- usually- was as well. Too open, too unguarded, too - warm. What kind of game was he playing now?!
" How are you?" he managed to ask, playing for time, completely at a loss.
Rush tried to shrug.
"Oh, fine. Considering the fact that TJ over here has been regaling me with a tale of my own adventures - quite fine."
Young turned around, glad of an excuse to break eye- contact with Rush. Trying to puzzle out the evident lack od any undercurrent in Rush`s attitude.
Tamara stepped forward at the Colonel`s abrupt command.
" Sir, Dr. Rush sustained a serious head trauma that has, evidently, produced a local amnesia. He does not remember last week. It kind of dropped out."
"Can`t say I regret the loss deeply, " remarked Rush. This time his voice was strained, but still there was the same odd note of- what? Unguardedness?
Young nodded. Thrusting his own confusion and relief back, he looked again at Rush.
" And just what exactly," began he, but Tamara resolutely stepped in.
" No, no, sir. Later. I absolutely insist on Dr. Rush`s having another nap right now. You know very well yourself that once he gets out of here he will sleep once in a blue moon - and that not always."
" All right. Just... get yourself in shape, Rush. And..." he fumbled for a second and finished " Good to have you back." Young could see the faint surprise at his uncharacteristically stiff behaviour in Rush`s eyes and a more pronounced one in Tamara`s.
He made his way out and leaned against the wall, allowing himself to relax a bit. Trying to adjust . Rush unaware of what he had done to him was an entirely new concept and just for a second he wistfully wished he could do the same. Just forget...
He caught up with himself a minute later when TJ called him from behind.
" Sir... there is something that I wanted to inform you about. Rush`s amnesia - I was not able to evaluate it precisely, but it seems that he remembers everything that happened since the time of his arrival on Destiny at any rate. With two exceptions. He does not remember the land-slide, capture, saving Chloe and making it back to the ship. And,"she paused and Young stiffened in expectation. " he does not remember his wife`s death."
" You mean…?"
"Yes. He thinks she is alive, he talked about her. And," there was sincere regret in Tamara`s eyes and- compassion. " that is the worst possible thing that could happen to him - aside from getting lost."
Young winced imperceptibly and silently motioned for her to go on.
" He is undergoing a severe psychological trauma right now. Whether he remembers what had happened to him during the capture or not, the hurt is still there. His mind is trying to deal with it by shutting the painful memories off. Probably this would have happened even without that knock on the head he got on jumping inside the ship. And similarly he has shut away the most scarring of his experiences: the loss of his wife. For now. But when he learns the truth...For the second time…"
" He will go unstable. Violently unstable." She finished softly.
Young exhaled sharply, concern for the ship, for the crew hitting him like a cold wave.
Rush, unhinged for a few hours and getting back to work almost at once, had been bad enough.
Rush with a severe disorder was capable of jeopardising everyone on board.
And... and yes. OK, out with it, face the truth. It was his-Young`s- doing.
Two weeks is a longish period of time. Enough to get to know a person that you are currently shut with on board a space-ship. And enough to get to know his other version as well.
That is what the crew of Destiny was currently engaged in.
Because Dr. Rush WAS changed. Not in a drastic, spectacular way, far from it, but- definitely altered.
And this new Dr. Rush was much easier to study. The Rush systems of "don`t get any nearer to me than you actually have to" were shut off. Oh, he didn`t exactly wear his heart on his sleeve, but now there was something new in his demeanor, in his behavior, something that was wholly alien to the Rush they had known. It was - trust. Confidence. No need to play the " don`t really care about anyone here, expect you to return the sentiment " . No need to be ashamed of showing that he DID care.
His temper didn`t change much, he was definitely not a sunshiny person. He would still snap at people and storm at his scientific team, but, somehow, now he was doing it without the old frosty disdain whish tool the sting away considerably.
And eventually people started feeling different towards him. Not all of them, naturally. But Rush`s reaction, whenever he met with distinct hostiliness was also changed. The first time it happened after his release from the infirmary was in the dining- hall. TJ and Eli watched the whole incidentfrom afar. They couldn`t make out what Greer had said to Rush, but the meaning was pretty clear. Rush drew back slightly before responding in a quiet way and moving away. It was then that they caught the expression of his face. It was impassiv, but they could still discern that Greer`s words , whatever they were, had sunk in. And they had hurt.
TJ and Eli glanced away almost at once, disturbed at this glimpse of Rush and at understanding: this must have been so the whole way, he must have been just pretending total indifference and insensitiveness. Though with a far, far greater success…
There were some changes on all levels, that of body-language included. His smile was much broader now and, except for the snapping- time, when it would be coloured by sarcasm, a warm, sincere one. The trade- gesture of Rush`s - crossing his arms on his chest - seemed also to have fallen in disuse, and thesignificance of it was vivid. Rush simply no longer felt the need to shield so much…
TJ shook her head, sadness filling her eyes.
" No, sir. He is still coping, yes, though he does not know it himself, but that won`t last long. Eventually memories - of his capture and… of his loss - will start coming back."
"Within what period?" Young asked, tensing.
"I can`t say, sir. These things are unpredictable, and, besides," her eyes clouded, " there might be an abrupt ending to all this respite he is getting now. He - he might ask to use the Communication Stones."
Young nodded heavily.
" He has. And will again."
" And Colonel Young was OK with that?" TJ asked casually, trying to keep the tension from her voice, intently studying Rush`s currently relaxed features- he was taking a break from work watching the stars spin by.
" No. It appears I`ve overused my quota. I did mention, that I didn`t remember any of my Earth-visits, but the Colonel failed to see the point."
He half-smiled and TJ, trying hard to smile in return, softly asked " You miss your wife badly, don`t you?"
He was silent for a moment or two, his eyes riveted to the view.
"I don`t know." He finally said in a low, hesitaiting tone, as if he were largely talking to himself. " You see, I somehow feel as if… as if she were nearer to me now than for a very long time. It sounds crazy- in fact , we `ve never been apart for longer than a day. Certainly never a few billons of light-years apart, but the feeling remains."
TJ heart twisted- there was so much wistful softness and confidence in his voice… And somehow now she gathered more fully than ever, what having much more than a few billion of light-years between himself and his wife must have meant to him. What it would mean.
She left the room, the dull ache , ever present in her thoughts of him, turning now to a sharp pain…
"Rush, I think we discussed this. There are many people on this ship who haven`t yet had a chance of home-visit. I don`t think it right to let you jump your turn."
Young didn`t really hope that his words would carry conviction- Rush just wasn`t the fellow who could ever see that the need of others was more pressing than his own, but he was trying to gain time. At least, time enough to stabilize Destiny to the extent where it would be possible to manage her without Rush for, say, a week or 10 days. That was TJ`s approximate evaluation of the period of time Rush would need to pull himself together. The optimistic one.
Young tried not to think about the scenario where it would take longer.
Rush crossed his arms, visibly trying to control his anger.
" OK, than why announce this to the whole ship?"
The Colonel tried to feel indignant at this underhanded - again, so typically Rushish- idea, but just couldn`t. At least he tried to act indignation.
"What do you think you…"
"Listen, " Rush interrupted him, speaking almost in a whisper and with a quiet current of something akin to fear running through his voice, " I just need to - see someone. It wouldn`t take long. I promise. I- I just need it."
Young had to withdraw his eyes- the pleading in Rush`s, the unveiled pain in them, was really too much.
" So does everyone," he responded gruffly. " So you will just have to wait."
Yeah, and we will just have to face the whole weird thing when you exhaust your patience, he added mentally.
Rush was silent for a few seconds, his face closing, every trace of the emotion he had laid open before the Colonel visibly shutting off. Finally he turned around and wordlessly left.
The Colonel drew a long sigh.
TJ was watching him carefully, making sure he did not overtax himself. Here she found, to her considerable relief, that Rush was now much more amenable to discipline than before. Well, he still tended to work to near exhaustion , but, at least, now he ate and slept on a regular basis. And his attitude to his work - it was still dedicated in the highest degree, fuelled by his endless energy and overdrive, yet something akin to desperate flight was gone from it. And reason good- he no longer had to flee from himself.
For now, TJ reflected sadly.
Colonel Young was watching Rush even more intently than TJ. He just had to. After all, their security, probably their lives, depended on the guy`s reason and intelligence. They just couldn`t afford his losing command of either.
But he had yet another reason for doing this. Conscience-reason.
Young no longer tried to stifle his remorse away or talk himself into shouldering the blame wholly on the scientist. It was there, every day, ever present, staring at him out of the currently freed from anguish, un- self-aware eyes of the man he had doomed to death.
What do you do when you are facing someone you had injured so deeply that he doesn`t even know it himself? When you know the repercussions of your deed will shortly hit him and all but tear him apart?
Young just did not know.