Chapter Six

Rush finally quieted, his body slumping bonelessly against Young who carefully settled him back against the bed and pillow, drawing the blankets up to his chin.

It was a relief to have the silence for a while. Young stretched out cramped limbs, managed a short nap of his own, wandered back and forth across the room several times, rubbing at the soreness in his neck and shoulders, then sat back down.

Rush was talking again, but the words were less difficult. Something about ships and docks and names, places or people, Young wasn't sure.

He washed Rush's face down, noticing that the man was starting to sweat. Hadn't TJ said that this would be a good sign? His skin felt slightly cooler to the touch, but Young wasn't sure. He considered calling TJ, but didn't want to wake her up unless absolutely necessary.

Before he could make a final decision, Rush's eyes fluttered open and fixated blearily on Young's face.

"Wha…" was about all he got out, before he jerked upwards and grabbed Young's arm.

"The code for the coolant systems, did I get it? Did Eli?" he demanded.

"Yes, you solved it and Eli took care of the rest," Young reassured him, trying to press Rush back down into the bed. It didn't take much effort. Rush dropped like a stone, sighing and rubbing at his brow.

"You're sure?" he asked, in a hoarse voice.

"Yes, Eli's monitoring but it's been fixed," Young told him, reaching across for the glass of water on the bedside stand. He eased a hand under Rush's head to help support him up as he held the glass.

"Not too fast," Young warned, remember TJ's advice. Rush's hand closed over his around the glass and took a couple of gulps, then relaxed back, his eyes squeezing shut briefly before reopening.

"How long?" he asked.

"Most of a day, I think," Young replied. He hadn't been bothering to check his watch. He did so now and grimaced. "It's about 3am."

Rush groaned softly.

"You should go back to sleep," Young told him. "You've been delirious with the fever. I should wake TJ, get her to check on you. You feel cooler." He pressed the back of his hand to Rush's forehead.

"Don't wake her up," Rush said. His face recovered a look that Young recognized; that brilliant mind was beginning to awaken, to focus. That was followed by another familiar expression, shutters on emotion except for the piercing eyes.

"How delirious?"

"Very," Young said.

There – that was a flinch of something, a twitch of his lips, a deepening of the paired dimples in the right corner of his mouth and a slight narrowing of the eyes. Young abruptly realized that he'd seen that before, more than once, he'd just never recognized it. Was that emotion? If it was, it was a painful one. It looked raw.

Rush swallowed and looked away, asking "Did I say anything…?"

Young's mind tumbled over this, what could he respond to that question? Something in him warned him against telling the truth. Rush wouldn't want to know he had sobbed openly in Young's arms. That wound was far more open, far more bloody, than the claw marks in his arm. Young understood those kinds of wounds and the desire to keep them hidden. He was that way himself. He could honor that.

He forced himself to chuckle and smile, though it felt flat – false – to him.

"You've got one hell of an accent when you're feverish. I don't think I understood one word in ten."

And yes, that was a flash of relief on Rush's face. Young catalogued that expression too for future reference. He needed the insights into this man's emotions and thoughts. He told himself it was simply because their lives depended on him, which was true, after all. His personal fascination with Rush and his own unsettled feelings towards the man were things – well those were just more of those private things you didn't look at if you could help it.

"Where I come from, Colonel, you'd be the one with the accent," Rush told him, a hint of his old bite returning.

Young found himself smiling with relief. He could live with the acidic personality if it meant Rush was well. "Yes, I'm sure that's true. Now get some sleep."

He tucked the blanket back up around Rush and gave him a stern look. Most people responded appropriately to one of Young's command glares, but Rush never had. However, this time he did shut his eyes and settle down. It wasn't so much obedience as an expression of his utter exhaustion, but that was just fine.

Rush was asleep almost instantly and Young found as comfortable a position in the bedside chair as he could. Sleep was pulling at him too.

But before he slid under, he made one last executive decision. Dealing with a seriously ill Rush was one thing; dealing with a convalescing Rush was another.

Greer was getting a full-time nursing assignment until Rush was fully back on his feet.

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END