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Truce

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Rush looked across the control room as Eli and Brody continued with their good natured argument about the new galaxy ahead of Destiny, and what they might find ahead of them. For him, it was just one more stepping stone on the path to discovering the origin of the signal that had captivated not just the Ancients but him also. It almost seemed like fate or destiny that he should be on-board this ship - a ship that had been traveling for millions of years - just when it was close to reaching its final destination. Admittedly, close was a subjective term but if their luck held then they would reach the origin within a few Earth years.

Rush was determined to still be a part of this ship when that happened.

He looked across as the door slid open and Colonel Young stepped in, and Rush refused to look away first when their eyes met, recalling that one unguarded moment when he awoke from stasis and saw Young standing right in front of him. For that one moment in time, with his mind still foggy from stasis, he had forgotten the animosity existing between them and smiled, seeing some emotion flare in Young's eyes that had nothing to do with anger or hate or distrust.

Hope.

He wasn't certain what Young was hoping for when he looked at him, but its very presence was enough to twist something deep inside of Rush, filling him with an echo of that same hope. He wanted them to get past all the bitterness and anger, perhaps even find some measure of trust or at least understanding, especially now that Rush had spilled all of his secrets regarding Destiny and that signal from the dawn of time. He wanted Young to be a part of this journey, sharing this amazing adventure with him, rather than simply going along for the ride as an unwilling passenger.

Eli called over to Young, forcing Young to look away first and Rush counted it as a minor victory nonetheless. He looked back at the console but he could feel the weight of Young's stare back on him moments later.

"How long until we refuel?"

The itchiness beneath his skin increased as Young crossed the control room to stand close, positioning himself so Rush would have to turn his head to answer his question - a tactical advantage. Deliberately, Rush kept his face turned away as he answered.

"We should be entering the star in sixteen minutes."

"And after refueling? Where next?"

Rush felt his lips twitch in a smile, conceding that Young had gained a minor victory of his own when eventually Rush was forced to face him.

"The first Stargate is three hours away. Preliminary data suggests it has an abundance of edible vegetation and wildlife. I'd start organizing a hunter and gatherer team, Colonel."

Young nodded, the ghost of a smile haunting his lips and making his eyes glint. Rush had forgotten that he and Young shared a common love of Chess, and whether they intended to or not, each of them was still taking a turn to make subtle moves in this game they played between them. The difference was now they were edging around the board looking for an opening to a dialog rather than going on the attack. Checkmate would be a surrender that came from acceptance rather than defeat, and the game was to see which of them would tip his king first - metaphorically speaking.

"I'd best get on that then," Young stated, for once not looking for hidden meaning or insult in Rush's words.

In the past, Young might have taken offense at being likened to Neanderthals or cavemen by the hunter-gatherer remark. Now he simply nodded, gave that tiny smile and walked away.

"Did you just call him a caveman?" Eli asked in a harsh, incredulous whisper.

"Unintentionally," Rush replied, and frowned, because he rarely admitted to his mistakes and yet he had done so now without a second thought. The image of Young clubbing him over the head and dragging him off to his cave came unbidden, and it might have been a hot fantasy if not for all their former animosity towards each other.

For once, everything went without a hitch. Destiny dived into the star and refueled, then jumped back into FTL to reach the closest Stargate seeded ahead of it. Both the Hunter-Gatherer team led by Young, and the exploration team led by Rush were successful in their missions. Rush had more data to analyze that might give greater insight into the origins of the signal, and Young's team had brought back enough food to last them a month if carefully stored.

When Rush entered the area they'd designated as the dining hall back when this all began, he felt a little taken aback by the happy vibes in the room. Grabbing his meal, Rush found an empty table in a faraway corner, and he understood the atmosphere the moment he took his first bite. They hadn't had anything this good to eat for a long while. It might be a cliche, but the meat tasted just like chicken.

He was surprised when Young joined him without waiting for an invitation; simply pulling out a chair opposite and sitting down with his meal, taking a bite before looking up at Rush; his eyes were wide with appreciation.

"It even looks like chicken," he said, as if he had read Rush's mind about the taste.

Rush had never been one for small talk in the past but he almost welcomed it now, listening to Young describe some of the strange wonders on the planet now left far behind them. In turn, Young listened when Rush talked of the data they had collected and how it might offer up clues for what lay at the end of Destiny's journey. They continued to talk long after the meal was consumed - nothing contentious or ground breaking - simply keeping the topics light and friendly.

"Greer thinks The pink potato-like vegetables will be perfect for moonshine," Young added with a soft laugh, and Rush had visions of sharing a glass or two of moonshine with Young, perhaps in an even more informal setting than the dining hall.

Informal. He scoffed inwardly at his own coyness in avoiding the word he really thought - intimate.

"I'd toast to that," Rush replied, and as easily as that Rush realized that they had made a truce with each other, coming to an understanding of each other's motivations, strengths and weaknesses. It wasn't trust exactly, as each of them needed time to rebuild to that level of intimacy.

When they parted company a short while later, he looked back before entering his quarters and caught Young in an unguarded moment, watching him with speculation mingling with hope, caught in his eyes. The color rushing into Young's cheeks before he abruptly turned away answered Rush's question of whether 'intimate' truly was a possibility. He smiled as he closed, feeling happier in that moment than he had in years.

The answer was yes.

END