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Song of the Stars

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In was inevitable really. Destiny was thousands, if millions of years old and even though the Ancients had used the most amazing alloys and employed the most innovative engineering skills, they had never expected to abandon her. They had expected to be with her on her journey, making the necessary repairs and adjustments as they collated the data needed to determine the origin of the message emanating from the center of the known universe but if Dr. Daniel Jackson was to be believed then the Ancients had found a different path for that journey, through Ascension.

Humanity was a mere child in comparison to that old race but they had brilliant scientists like Sam Carter and Rodney McKay, and raw but talented super mathematicians like Eli Wallace... and, yes, they had Nicholas Rush. Yet without access to the necessary materials, all Rush, Wallace and the others caught on-board Destiny could do was use the equivalent of chewing gum, duct tape, and string to hold the ship together. Something had shaken loose during the last plunge into a star to replenish Destiny's power cells, and she had collected less than half of that required to keep the ship going at full power.

The situation wasn't quite as dire as crossing the void between galaxies. They didn't need to send her reluctant crew back into the cryopods to sleep away the years so they could conserve energy, but they had needed to seal off more of the ship, cutting off oxygen and heating to the uninhabited areas. As some of those sections currently included crew quarters, it meant the end of everyone having their own private space.

Everett had expected Rush to argue hardest against sharing with anyone but instead he'd simply stood back and watched as everyone paired off, moving their belongings into the available quarters until there was just the two of them, and two rooms left. The knowing, smug smile gracing Rush's face proved that Rush had already anticipated this outcome. Perhaps if all of this had happened a few months earlier then Everett might have tried to rekindle his former relationship with T.J. but she'd moved on and had chosen to share with Lieutenant James. A few months ago, Everett might even have cared but he'd spent the time since coming out of stasis more aware of Rush than of anyone else.

Rush had changed, though not completely. He was still an asshole, and still snide and manipulative, but he was more open about it. He gave valid reason and even explanations for that reasoning but still retained a level of detachment from everyone else. He kept to himself for the most part, making his way through the small library of books that individuals had stored on their personal comm devices, and which Rush had downloaded into Destiny's data banks. There was more than books. Some had stored a few favorite movies or TV shows condensed down to watch while off duty and off-world, though no one had expected to be stranded hundreds of galaxies from the Milky Way - and Earth. It was all shared now and Rush made good use of it when he wasn't elbows deep inside Destiny's circuitry and computer system.

"Looks like you two are sharing," Wray stated with a smirk, and Everett saw the confusion wipe the smug smile off Rush's face.

"Wait a minute," Rush bristled. "There are two rooms left... and two of us."

"We've already designated the larger of the two rooms as a recreation room." She gave Rush a hard smile.

"A what?"

"Everyone needs somewhere to escape outside of their quarters. We cannot all be recluses, Doctor Rush."

"There's the cafeteria-," Rush added but Wray cut him off.

"Yes, and it's a good place for noisy entertainment. This will be a quiet room."

"Guess you're with me then," Everett stated softly, if a little strained.

This wasn't the outcome he'd anticipated but then, as the Commanding Officer, he really had only Lieutenant Scott with whom he could share out of the military, Wray because she was of equal rank as the Civilian spokesperson... or Rush. Scott and Chloe had taken advantage of the situation to move in together, and Wray had chosen to share with Lisa Park, especially following the incident that caused Park to lose her sight.

Rush appeared at Everett's door twenty minutes later, taking a bold move by walking in as if he owned the place. Like most of the quarters in this part of the ship, there was only the one admittedly large bed. Unless Rush insisted on them taking shifts or tossed a coin for who had the bed, and who had the floor - which wasn't beyond the realms of possibility - they'd have to pick a side. Everett got in first.

"I sleep on the right."

Despite this, it was three days before he had to face the weight of the other man sliding into the bed on the left side late in the ship's night. For one moment Everett considered saying something but he was tired. He had spent several hours helping to pick as much of a shrub-growing fruit that looked like a cross between an apple and a peach before Destiny moved on to the next world seeking answers. He knew Rush could override Destiny and make her stay within reach of the Stargate, allowing them all the time they needed if necessary, but it seemed that they would have to pay a price for every unscheduled stop or delay. On this occasion it wasn't worth it. The fruit would spoil quickly though some of it could be turned into a sort of preserve. Park was more interested in the seeds, convinced that she might be able to grow several of the fruit-bearing shrubs; Everett admired her optimism.

He realized his tired brain was going off at a tangent and tried to focus on the movement behind him, eventually feeling Rush settle down next to him leaving at least a foot of space between them. Everett exhaled softly, and between one breath and the next, he was back asleep.

Waking was a different matter because it brought with it the welcome weight of another person's arm slung haphazardly over his waist. He was in his usual sleep position, lying on his side facing the door, and as he blinked away the fogginess of sleep, he registered the warmth along the length of his back from the other body pressed close. Someone was spooning up against him, and it took him a moment longer to recall that Rush has snuck in late last night - or early that morning. Everett could feel his warm breath against the back of his neck, and the tickle of hairs from Rush's long hair and beard.

He allowed himself a moment to luxuriate in the feel of Rush behind him, tempted to wriggle back against the man's morning-hard cock but he wasn't quite ready to take his feelings for Rush to the next level. Or end up with a bloody or broken nose if he had read it all wrong and Rush wasn't interested. After a moment, he slowly withdrew from the loose embrace, climbing out of the bed. On the threshold of the bathroom, he looked back and saw Rush still deeply asleep, looking small and almost fragile in the oversize bed.

He turned away quickly before the weight of his stare awoke the other man.

Another month passed by slowly as the crew settled fully into the new routine of this galaxy. Fortunately, they had seemed to leave those drone attack ships far behind them but this galaxy had its own mysteries and adventures. Some good, most bad. They lost another crew member on an scavenging expedition, looking for the metal alloys and minerals that Destiny needed for them to make repairs to the damaged energy collector. Just a stupid accident from someone so overwhelmed by the alien landscape that they were not paying attention to the ground beneath their feet.

They buried McCormel on that world and moved on.

Until that night, they had managed to avoid going to bed at the same time, with one or the other of them turning up in the early hours of the morning and sliding beneath the blankets quietly. As Rush stepped out from the bathroom, Everett realized that it was inevitable that the day would come when they both decided to turn in early. Perhaps it was the stress from having buried another irreplaceable member of the crew - though it was more than that. Over the past years each member of the crew had become more than nameless grunts and scientists. They had become more than colleagues - friends and, yes, maybe even part of a slightly dysfunctional family. Everett recalled that Rush and McCormel had worked close together on some of Destiny's systems. He even seen Rush smile at the man once, and saw McCormel slap a hand down on Rush's shoulder in friendly affection.

Any loss was hard to bear but the thought of Rush losing someone he might have called a friend made the pain of another senseless death stab into Everett - keen and sharp.

Rush had cut his hair short and shaved off the grizzly beard. He was clean, fresh from the shower now that the water recyclers were back online. His hair was still slightly damp and he was wrapped in only a makeshift towel and yet without the beard, the lower half of his face looked strangely more naked than the rest of him. The lack of beard made him look vulnerable, and in that unguarded moment as their eyes met, Everett found his heart responding to the loneliness and loss in Rush's eyes.

Later, Everett couldn't be certain who had moved first, only that it had happened. The first tentative brush of lips giving way to something more powerful, more passionate as years of frustration and antagonism towards each other melted into lust and need. And now they were in bed together, wrapped up in each other, sated and drowsy and wondering when hate had turned to love. The sense of loss was still there but the comfort provided by Rush's warm body wrapped around his had muted it, turning the sharp pain into a dull ache.

It became their secret for a time - remaining aloof while under the watchful eyes of other but finding comfort, pleasure and relief in the hours of darkness, in their shared bed. Everett became used to waking up with Rush - Nicholas - spooning up behind him. He became used to the warm breath and soft lips against the nape of his neck, and the agile fingers that wrapped around his cock and brought him pleasurably awake. Giving up control had never come easy to him, but he learned to relax and let Nicholas guide them, let Nicholas hold him and push into him, stripping him of any remaining indifference.

Secrets didn't tend to last long on a small ship. Rumors spread quickly, and one more unguarded moment as they stared death in the face confirmed everything to those who cared to look. Perhaps Everett shouldn't have been surprised that no one was bothered by the changed 'relationship' between him and Nicholas. Looking back over the past months, it was obvious how much it had mellowed them both, making each of them more approachable and less inclined to make rash decisions. They still argued - vehemently on occasion - but they were at least willing to listen now, accepting where they were wrong and compromising when they were both right.

Through it all, Destiny moved ever closer to the center of the universe - and the source of the signal buried deep beneath the song of the stars - and Everett finally understood why the journey was as important as their final destiny.