Disclaimer : I sure don't own SGU.
Author's Note : I know my English is far from perfect, so if anyone feels like beta-reading this, just let me know!
Days like that
It was one of those days. Eli had waked up early that morning. Well, what he would consider early, which wasn't the same early as for Rush. This guy was just amazing in his own way: he didn't seem to need to sleep or eat, as if ancient technology alone could keep him alive. Eli sometimes wondered about a scientific experiment on that theory. That morning was one of the times he did.
- Hello! Guess what I found? That's right, hot coffee!!
As usual, Rush didn't immediately react to his presence. Hello, how are you this morning, Eli? Oh, thanks for that coffee! Eli muttered to himself in an attempt to have human connection in his new job. Not that he had ever had that kind of connection in his old life, neither did he have a job for that matter, but that was one of these things he used to dream of when alone in his room all day.
He now had the best job he could ever have imagined: he was on a spaceship -a real one, in space!- and he was there to find solutions to complex problems in relation to a very old technology, older than humankind itself, working with one of the best specialist of Earth!! And the best part was, he saved lives with this job, so he could even be considered a hero! God, how he wished his old buddies would hear about that...
But right now, the genius he was working with would ignore him like he had these past few days. Had Eli done something wrong, other than the hundred stupid things he said or did every day, to make Rush especially angry at him? Or was it simply indifference that the scientist showed him for not being as brilliant as he was supposed to be? With a sigh, Eli put the coffee on the table where Rush was active at the moment. He then sat on his spot on a corner, waiting there like a punished school kid for the doctor to tell him what to do. Sometimes he would spend all day like that, but he knew better than bothering Rush with his impatience. But then sometimes Rush would ask him a question and they would both argue about something for hours, the scientist truly taking his opinion into consideration. That were the good days, unfortunately, this day didn't seem to be a good one.
To pass the time, Eli observed his boss closely while sipping his coffee as slowly as possible. Rush was extraordinary quiet today. Had it been someone else, one could even have said sad. And exhausted, clearly. So much for Eli's theory, then: Rush did need sleep after all.
A few more minutes passed before the scientist finally acknowledged with a nod the presence of his young aid and the not-so-hot-anymore-coffee on his table. Half an hour later, Col. Young requested Eli's help in his quarter. Even though he was happy to move out of the lab, Eli felt uncomfortable talking to Everett alone. No doubt the Colonel would ask him once again about Rush's work and his plan. Everybody on board seemed to consider Rush as a potential enemy, and Eli didn't like to speak behind his back. Plus, he didn't see why the scientist would willingly put them in danger. Sure, Rush wasn't a people-person, and Eli didn't like the way he had said someone should die to save the air for the others, but deep inside, he knew that it was only the truth: they needed someone to close that door from the inside or they wouldn't be there anymore.
The talk with the Colonel left Eli starving, just on time for the "lunch" that consisted in an awful protein soup the military prepared every day. He ate his in silence, listening to the chats around him. Since he was spending most of his time with Rush, some of the hostility directed to the scientist reached him as well. Chloe and Scott were the only people who seemed to appreciate him, at least a little, but he didn't see them much, as both were very busy with their new functions. Eli briefly imagined what it would be like, to work with them in the lab, instead of Rush... Speaking of whom, the scientist probably hadn't taken care of his lunch, something Eli could do for him.
Eli was still daydreaming when he arrived in the lab. It was so silent that he stopped at the entry, surprised by the immobility of his boss. Rush was sitting at the same place he was two hours ago, back to the entry. His head resting in his hands. For a second, Eli thought he might be sleeping, but he wasn't. Approaching slowly, Eli first saw the slightest tremors in his shoulders, then heard the quiet sobs. He stayed petrified behind him, the mug of soup still in his hand. He didn't know what to do, he was obviously not supposed to be here. The idea of turning back crossed his mind, but what if Rush heard him? Eli felt guilty about his daydream. He then thought of how Rush's work was vital for all of them, and nobody would thank him for anything. What if Rush wasn't there anymore? What would happen to them, then?
Rush suddenly raised his head, wiped his face with his forearm and resumed working. Eli stayed two more minutes in his back, feeling like a thief for seeing what he shouldn't have.
- Hello again, it's lunch time!
Eli thought that his smile would betray him as he put the soup in front of Rush, but the scientist didn't give him a look, probably to avoid looking him in the eyes.
- Thanks, Rush muttered.
He looked the same he had in the morning, but not to Eli, not anymore.
- So, what are you working on?
The question surprised Rush, as Eli hadn't asked him anything in quite some time.
- General understanding of the ship's command. As always. You? I mean, what did Colonel Everett had to ask to you?
It came as a surprise to both of them that Rush seemingly wanted to chat.
- The usual, too. The Colonel wanted to know when we would be able to come back to Earth. I had to explain him once again that it isn't so easy...
Rush smiled at Eli. Having him as an assistant was one of the best things that had happened to him since their arrival on the Destiny. He knew he wasn't making it easy for the young man, especially these days, but he couldn't help it: he was never able to work well with others.
- Listen, Eli, I know that you're bored these days. There is no need for you to stay in the lab all day long. I'll call you if I need you.
- Well, I thought, I don't know...
That was unexpected. Rush letting him go free. Any other time, Eli would have found that great, even if he had nothing else to do, but it now looked like a terrible idea to let the scientist alone.
- I better stay here, just in case. Plus I'm not needed anywhere else.
- Okay. Your choice.
Rush went back to his work, ignoring the soup Eli had brought him.
- Hem... Doctor Rush? I really think you should eat something.
- Thanks, but I'm not hungry.
The scientist hadn't even risen his head. He clearly wanted to be left alone. Eli realized that he would be chased out of the lab if he insisted too much. He had never been a people-person himself, but he felt like he had to do something for Rush, so he decided to try his best.
- Doctor? Is there... something wrong?
- Yes, Eli, you see, I'm trying to fix a millennia old ship falling in pieces while my assistant feels a need to chat.
Rush immediately regretted his aggressive tone. He sighed and took his glasses off to rub his face.
- I'm sorry for that.
He then looked up at Eli who was standing in front of him, still waiting for an answer.
- Do you know what date it is today, Eli?
- 23rd of June.
Eli had begun a calendar to keep track of time once he had realized it might be a while before they made it back to Earth.
- That's right. This day 6 years ago, my wife died of cancer.
Eli didn't know what to say as he watched Rush's eyes so full of tears again.
- I'm... sorry for your loss. Really.
Feeling stupidly short on words, Eli walked back to the door. He wished he could find something more to say, do more, but what could you do against death? Six years was a long time. Rush must have loved her a lot. For the very first time since he'd met the man, Eli felt real sympathy toward Rush.
- Thank you.
As he considered the young man leaving the lab, Rush truly was grateful. His burden seemed a little less heavy after finally sharing what had been his secret for years. He looked at the mug of soup Eli had brought him.
- ... and thanks for the lunch, he muttered to himself.