Disclaimer: Have gained ownership of nothing since my last chapter.
Author's Note: Thanks to those of you who stuck with this story. There may be more Rush/Chloe stories from me in the future.
At least they were no longer underground. That was the thought Chloe clung to as they stared out over the massive lake on the planet they'd gated to about an hour ago. She looked up and motioned for Eli to sit next to her on the massive tree root. He complied. Together they sat waiting for Greer and Scott to get back from scouting the nearby area.
"A month ago I never would have thought I'd ever miss Destiny this much," Eli said.
"I know what you mean," Chloe replied. "But maybe it's too soon to give up hope. They could still figure out how to get back to us. Maybe something in the chair..." She trailed off, struck with the memory of seeing Rush strapped down, brow furrowed with the sheer volume of knowledge that was passing through his brain.
"I guess Colonel Young would make Rush come back for us if they could."
Chloe wanted to tell him that Rush would come back for them on his own if he could. She wanted to shake Eli until he understood that Rush was a good man. But instead she stayed silent, content in knowing that Rush would do everything he could to rescue them. Reaching into her pocket she ran her fingers over the wooden sun he had carved her.
"How's your head?" Eli asked after a few minutes of silence.
Chloe reached up and gently touched the gash that ran across her forehead. She had fallen and scraped her head on a rock while running away from the giant alien monster on the last planet they'd been on. She could almost laugh at how absurd that sounded.
"It's better," she replied.
"Pain meds doing the trick?"
"Well my head doesn't feel like it's about to split open anymore."
Any further conversation was interrupted by the sound of the gate wooshing to life. Chloe and Eli stood up, barely registering the fact that Greer and Scott and sprinted back to their position, guns aimed at the shimmering event horizon. For what seemed like hours, the only sound was the wind and the strange noises an activated gate always made. And then...
"Lieutenant Scott do you read?"
Rush stood at the gate control panel. It was the fifth planet they'd tried. Each time he worried that it would be the last, that Destiny would override his override and put them back on course. He knew the algorithm he'd come up with was only a temporary fix, it allowed them to stay out of FTL as long as they were attached to a gate. At this point it was kind of like using a piece of twine to hold back a tiger. He hadn't slept for seventy-two hours and he couldn't remember the last thing he'd eaten that wasn't in liquid form.
He heard Young speak through the radio and then listened to the static, wishing he believed in god so he'd at least have something to pray to.
"It's good to hear your voice Sir."
A cheer went up throughout the gate room. Rush simply put his head down on the console. He could hear Young explaining to Scott that they had to send the shuttle because they couldn't disconnect the gate. Rush felt relief washing over him. He blamed sheer exhaustion for the fact that his eyes were beginning to well with tears.
"Good work Doctor," Young said, patting Rush on the shoulder.
With the finesse of a man well versed in hiding emotion, Rush bit back his tears and raised his head. "Thank you Colonel."
"Get some rest."
"Yes Sir," he murmured, the irony of the statement not lost on either man, Young patted his shoulder again and then walked past him towards the shuttle bay. Rush took a breath, his hands and shoulders were shaking from the adrenaline. They were safe. She was safe. She was coming back.
An hour later most of Destiny's inhabitants were milling around the shuttle bay, waiting for the return of their formally lost crew. Rush stood a little ways off, leaning against the bulkhead, willing time to move more quickly. He had not followed Young's suggestion of sleep. Instead, he had left the control room and come to stand outside the shuttle, off in the dark so that most of the other people who arrived later hadn't even noticed him.
After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, Young radioed that they were landing. The shuttle sealed with the ship and at long last the door slid open.
Greer and Scott walked through first, followed by Eli and then Chloe. Rush's eyes were immediately on her face, though hers did not find him through the crowd of people that were all vying for her attention. He watched as she hugged James and assured TJ that she was fine. Eventually, Young announced that everyone, especially the four recently marooned, deserved some rest and the crowd began to disperse.
When only a few people remained, Rush pushed away from the wall, bringing himself into the dim light of the hallway. "Where's my rock then?" he asked. unable to hide a small smile.
Chloe's head whirled around towards him and her face visibly relaxed. Walking towards him she reached into her pocket and pulled out the small stone she had picked up in the ruins. When she was a few feet away she tossed it to him. He caught the rock and turned it around in his hand, rubbing the smooth surface against his palm.
"It's a piece of the structure," she told him. "I had to fight monsters to get it to you."
The smile on his face immediately disappeared. He closed the distance between them and reached his hand out, almost touching the wound on her head.
"I'm fine," she assured him. "It looks worse than it is."
In the back of his mind, he was aware that Young, Wray, TJ, and Greer were standing nearby. Not to mention, Scott and Eli as well. Another part was arguing that it had been three days of torture, three days of knowing he might never see her again. The rational part of his brain was screaming for him to think about the consequences of openly acknowledging their relationship. But for one of the few times in his life, Rush found himself telling the rational part of his brain to shut up.
Leaning forward, Rush placed his hand on her cheek and kissed the gash. He could hear six simultaneous gasps but when he saw Chloe's eyes close and heard her stifled sob, he couldn't bring himself to care about anyone but her. He pulled her close and she went easily into his embrace, resting her cheek against the familiar softness of his shirt.
"Well," Young said from his place in the shuttle door, "that certainly explains his behavior the last few days."
Eli looked over at Matt. He'd had his suspicions about the nature of the relationship between his friend and his pseudo-mentor. But he knew Matt hadn't had a clue. The lieutenant's face was hard and he quickly turned and walked towards his quarters, Greer and TJ close behind.
"Should we be concerned?" Wray asked Young.
A wry grin spread across Young's face. "Dr. Rush just spent three days rewriting the laws of physics in order to save her. He figured out how to turn the ship around, if only temporarily. I'd say there are other things that warrant more concern, don't you?"
Wray nodded and the two of them went their separate ways.
"I thought I'd lost you," Rush admitted.
"I knew you'd come back for us," she whispered. Then she pulled away and held him at arm's length. "But don't think I've forgotten about the whole, using the chair thing."
Rush laughed, the sensation almost foreign after the last few days. "I'll have you know, using the chair saved your life."
Chloe reached up and brushed some imaginary dust from his shoulder. "You still should have told me."
"I apologize," he said, his voice no long joking. "It won't happen again."
Chloe tucked herself into his side and began leading them towards her quarters. "See that it doesn't. "
The End (for now)
Thanks again for reading. Please, please, please review.