The kino observes Wray make the mistake of asking Rush what he's been working on.
The kino rewound and paused at another confrontation but this one wasn't Rush versus Young. Indeed, for once, the two of them were fairly polite to each other. It was the weekly meeting and Rush was there. The kino didn't know why; they were generally held during meals so people didn't get pulled away from whatever busy nothings they did when they weren't complaining. Rush didn't usually go because he didn't have nothings. He was just busy. He wasn't, admittedly, taking much notice of anything that was said; he was writing in his notebook.
The kino could see Rush make note of its presence as he glanced up at one point and it could see Lt Johansen follow Rush's gaze. Her face held disapproval. She nudged Greer and said something in a low voice the kino couldn't catch. Greer made a gesture the kino read as asking Johansen if she wanted him to remove the kino from the mess. She shook her head. Just as Colonel Young came in followed by Lt Scott, she got up casually and sat next to Rush. He didn't notice her. Greer followed and sat at the same table. Greer lifted a finger and wagged a 'no' at the kino. Not for the first time with Greer, the kino wished it had fingers.
People shushed each other as Young cleared his throat. The kino saw him narrow his eyes at Rush.
"Thank you all," Young said. "Quick meeting, I think?"
It was rhetorical but Scott immediately said, "Sir."
"Right," Young said. "Let's start with food. Becker?"
Becker said wryly, "When I manage to find something edible, sir, I'll let you know."
Everyone but Rush laughed but the atmosphere lightened considerably from the regular gloom that went with the weekly meeting. Rush didn't look up.
Brody put in, "The potatoes are better than they used to be."
"Maybe your taste buds are dyin', man," said Greer.
"Or that," Brody agreed.
"We have something that looks like a carrot," said Inman. "It's growing pretty well. Hopefully, it will be ready in a couple of weeks."
"Anyone done a taste test?" Eli asked.
"Thanks for volunteering, Eli," Young said immediately.
"Me?" Eli said indignantly.
Everyone laughed again.
"Okay, repairs," Young said. "Mr Brody?"
Brody glanced at Rush. The barely hidden glare he gave Young said that the Colonel should have directed the question at the lead scientist but he answered readily enough.
"Uh, well, we're still looking at the waste recycling," Brody said. "It's functioning but barely."
"What's the problem?" Young asked.
Volker said, "It gives off warning lights for no apparent reason. It cycles too quickly and sometimes too slowly. There's nothing to pinpoint the actual problem other than it's old."
"See if you can increase the pace, gentlemen," Young ordered.
"Oh, sure," said Volker. "No problem."
His voice was entirely respectful and he smiled but while Young smiled back, his eyes didn't. Volker gave a brief sneer.
"Anything else?" Young asked.
"We repaired the third spacesuit," Park put in. "The others have too much degradation but we're looking at cannibalizing parts of each to see if we can make up others."
"Good," Young said. "Okay, what else?"
Camille Wray put up her hand and said, "I'd like to know what Dr Rush has been doing all this time?"
Young raised an eyebrow at her and she deflated slightly.
"Rush?" he asked.
Rush didn't look up from his notebook. It was as if he was the only person in the room.
Johansen nudged him; he ignored her.
Johansen's eyes gleamed and she said loudly in Rush's ear, "Destiny to Dr Rush; Destiny to Dr Rush."
Rush flinched away from her and said in an irritated voice, "What?"
He looked up, seemingly surprised at the amount of people looking at him. Most of the scientists looked amused; Young looked resigned; the rest of the civilians glared at him, including Wray. Rush's face settled into blankness.
Young said in an exaggeratedly polite voice, "Ms Wray would like to know what you've been doing … uh … 'all this time,' wasn't it, Ms Wray?"
She flushed but lifted her chin. The kino was suddenly reminded of the last time something like this happened. Afterwards, Greer had said to Johansen, 'The enemy of my enemy …' The kino now understood what he had meant.
Rush said blandly, "Working."
He lifted his notebook and scribbled something down in it.
Young's mouth twitched at Wray's obvious annoyance.
"Could you possibly deign to tell us what exactly you've been working on, Dr Rush?" Wray demanded.
A few of the civilians, ones that Wray had been working on, nodded emphatically.
Rush stared at her and his voice became velvety.
"I'm running searches of the database to find planets with foodstuffs and water," he said. "These are semi-manual searches, you understand. They have to be updated continually, because the database seems to reset itself and removes any current search, something I'm trying to reprogram thus far without luck. I'm also researching the gate system and power usage; running tests of Destiny's systems to find out how to increase …"
And he went on, the list becoming ever longer, running the gamut of repairs and research. After ten minutes, Johansen was looking down, her hand over her mouth, trying not to laugh. The scientists were similarly biting their lips. Rush kept going.
Finally he said mildly, "And you, Ms Wray?"
Young cut in quickly, "Thank you, Dr Rush."
Rush nodded courteously and smiled politely at Wray. Like Young, the smile didn't reach his eyes. Wray pressed her lips together and said nothing. Sulking at being called out, no doubt. Rush's attention returned to his notebook. The kino understood from watching Wray previously that she was desperate to return home. It had spent an uncomfortable night listening to her sob, curled up on her bed. The following morning, she'd not got up at all, not responding to the knocks at her door. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and the drawing she'd done of a boat on a beach, she ripped to shreds.
The meeting drew to a close. The military personnel and Eli gathered around Young as Wray left.
Scott said, waiting for a moment until she was out of earshot, "Our little ray of sunshine."
"Ouch," Eli said at the pun.
Rush in passing said, "More a drop of golden sun really."
The kino didn't know what that meant but Young cracked out a laugh. Rush didn't stop as those with Young started giggling. The kino paused at the reaction.
"I really wouldn't have pegged Rush as a Sound of Music fan," Scott said.
"Hidden depths, man," Johansen observed smiling in delight. "I love that film."
"Bet he's got it on his iPod," Eli said.
"I'll ask him," Johansen said immediately.
The kino floated out to follow Rush. It found him in the control interface room, patiently resetting the database search again. He turned as a voice said, "Um …"
It was Wray; she was in tears. Rush said nothing.
"I …" she said. She shook her head. "Look … I just … I just want to go home."
Rush looked down at the console and pressed a button.
"I know," he said quietly.
The kino knew Rush didn't want to go home.
Wray nodded at him, somehow satisfied with his response. She left. Rush returned his attention to the console.