Author says: I have never written fanfic for any iteration of Stargate in my life before. "Darkness", and this one moment within it, made me want to. I've probably got a million things wrong. Contains spoiler for the film "Mr Smith Goes To Washington" of all things.
Destiny is a microcosm.
Even as Young is stepping forward in the dark across the dirty floor of the gate room towards Rush's staggering figure, the thought has taken root and is growing in his mind, and it's an uncomfortable one indeed.
A small version of something larger. As on Destiny, so it is on Earth, so it is everywhere. Humanity's good at replicating itself, with all its genius and shortcomings, even in captivity. The human race is but a larger representation of human society, and human society just a larger representation of a regular human family, and an individual is just…
Young has heard it said that every society is about two missed meals away from collapse. He's beginning to think (as he takes Rush by the arm and can almost feel the man's nerves twanging through his clothes) that this is almost certainly true. He's also wondering, a tad fatalistically, when Rush last ate.
Like a miner's canary, Rush - the walking, talking, irritating representative of all humanity's genius and shortcomings, every foible packed into his small frame with so much force that it could only be an incredible battle to stop it all exploding out as temper (a battle Rush often lost, indeed). Rush, a creature so naturally high-wired that he'd run the full gamut of human emotion, stress, fear and horror in less than a few days. A few days, probably no sleep, and no certainty. Wasn't that the nature of a genius, to be several jumps ahead of the rest of the peons?
Microcosm. The uncomfortable thought begins to flower. Rush has cracked first, because he's eaten less, slept less, done more. Because he is more. How long will it be -
"Cornered rat" had been the first description that immediately sprang to Young's mind as he had followed Rush down the shadowed corridor towards the gate room mere moments before. Rat is of course an unlovely word, suggesting all manner of other things. Dirt. Disease. Scuttling in dark corners.
Well, the scuttling part might be right, Young's thoughts had continued. And the dark. And let's face it, we're all dirty.
He'd assumed it had been subterfuge, at first. Rush always had that look about him that said he was hiding something, and Young had started to feel like a high-school principal trying to catch a particular pupil smoking in the toilets. That day, Rush had certainly been as agitated and jittery as a small animal. His every movement had been sharp, as if he were on old cinefilm, jerkily jumping his way from step to step with apparently several movements missing from between each one. His hands had slapped about him as he gesticulated, as if swatting flies invisible to everyone else. The pupils of his eyes had expanded, swallowing the iris in black.
Young had never previously thought Rush was crazy. Difficult, yes. Zealous, certainly. Eccentric, hell yes. That's something British people are good at, right? Eccentricity. But not actually crazy, oh no - those sharp, dark eyes had held belief and purpose and belligerence, but not active insanity. The guy was pissed at the world. He was pissed at Volker for just being alive. He was pissed at Young for being…well, for being Young. But being full of rage wasn't the same as having a few loose screws in the brain.
He hadn't been sure at that point, in the darkened gate room, as Rush had wheeled about, casting back and forth before him like a frenzied zoo creature in a cage. And talking! The man had been talking up a storm, filibustering like a good 'un, like Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith, the sweat standing out on his brow and matting that oh-so-civilian eccentric mane of hair -
It might have had been the sweat, or it might have been the memory of Jimmy Stewart's slow collapse at the end of the film, that had made Young call for TJ in advance of Rush's drop. At that moment he shifted immediately from antagonistic to conciliatory. The man was plainly a menace, but he was a fragile one right here and now and they needed him. Young had got right down to it and been pragmatic. Rush was a resource. He was unique. The colonel had felt the familiar wrench of alarmed responsibility and - yes - guilt in his gut as Rush had faltered, his words becoming incoherent, his feet refusing to hold him.
Rush had passed out in mid-rant, Young holding onto his arm and trying to stop him smacking his head on the ground as he folded.
My people. My problem. God, Rush. Congratulations. You're now officially my problem, not part of the solution.
Young crouches on his haunches at Rush's side. The scientist looks terribly drawn, and smaller than ever, as if his lack of consciousness has reduced his physical presence a thousand fold.
Big personality, indeed. A large version of something smaller.
Microcosm. The thought feels like a dark cloud on an already dark horizon as Rush lolls bonelessly in TJ's grasp on the way to the infirmary. Destiny remains dark, and Rush's delirious words ring in Young's head.
"It's going to get dark. Dark - and, and cold…"
Young leaves TJ with his unconscious canary and walks back through the corridors, not entirely sure where he's going but glad as long as it's away, he doesn't care. He can't stop seeing the other pale faces in the gloom as he passes, the eyes looking up at him with a mixture of fear and trust. And hope. The one thing he really can't bear is the hope. And the worst of it is, it's Rush who's been bearing all that hope on his scrawny shoulders, and after scant days the man's now flat out in the infirmary.
How long will it be, before it all goes to hell? Because now, because of Rush, I know that it is not an "if". It's a "when".
Rush will recover. He has to. TJ and sleep and force-feeding, if necessary, that should do the trick. Get him his two missed meals back. Keep him functioning.
Sitting in an uninhabited corner, in the dark, feeling cold, with the fragile pieces of his unique, nascent society threatening to fall apart around him, Colonel Young closes his eyes and wishes it could be as easy to fix it all.