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Unguarded Moment

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Young had no idea what he'd find when he was pulled out of cryosleep what seemed only minutes after entering the stasis pod. His mind felt a little fuzzy around the edges as the door slid open to allow him to step out. It was cold but not unbearably so, and only a few lights illuminated the darkness of the empty chamber.

He glanced towards the broken stasis pod and sighed in relief when he saw Eli within, grateful not to have the younger man's death on his conscience. It was already weighted down with too many regrets. Another glance revealed Rush still in cryogenic sleep, and he was pleased that Eli had adhered to his request to be the first one awoken once they had crossed the void between the galaxies. The rest of the crew would not awaken until he had typed in the correct sequence, though Rush had insisted on at least one failsafe to be initiated after an hour, just in case of a malfunction.

Young had insisted on that failsafe being Lieutenant Scott, using logic that even Rush could not dispute. It had to be someone from a different bank of stasis pods in case a whole bank failed, and it had to be an officer in case a military decision had to be made. Fortunately, the first concern had not occurred, which left only the second.

He made his way through the creepily silent ship to the control room and gained a status report before heading over to the viewing lounge, checking the gate room along the way. Even as he watched, the number of stars filling his view increased as Destiny moved into a new galaxy. Silently, he hoped they had left the drone ships far behind in that last galaxy.

"Okay," he murmured, and it felt strange to hear his voice echoing in a silence lifted only by the deep-seated thrum of Destiny's engines.

He moved back to the stasis chambers and stood before the one holding Rush.

Rush had closed his eyes before the stasis field captured him, leaving him appearing vulnerable as if in sleep. It was a strange feeling, reminding Young of all the conflict between them that had caused his greatest regret; abandoning Rush on a far distant world. At the time he had been seething with rage at the man and his duplicity, seeing him as a constant threat to the rest of them. In many ways, his view had not changed but they had eventually come to a fragile truce once he had allowed Rush's logic to seep through the cracks in his anger.

Turning the ship around would gain them nothing. They were too many light years away from the Milky Way to make the journey home within their lifetime, even if they spent a millennia in stasis. There was only one hope--that they would find a way to repair the technology that could send them home through the Stargate. The communication stones could give them the expertise as it was needed, and with luck, the scientists on Earth would eventually find another planet with the power to connect to them, sending them raw materials, food and supplies.

He smiled wryly. If they had already found another planet then he would not have awoken to a ghost ship, and the Stargate would not have stood like a dark, silent sentinel, with the ground around it empty.

His thoughts returned to study the man in stasis before him, and he wondered if he had dreamed, with his dreams forgotten as soon as he awoke. He wondered what dreams would fill Rush's mind, smiling as he considered the tenacity of the man in his pursuit of knowledge. Perhaps Rush dreamed of being on-board Destiny when she reached her final destination--the center of the known universe and the origin of all things, including the signal emanating since the dawn of time.

Without volition, his hand reached out to brush the transparent door lying between them, tracing Rush's soft lips across the cold material. For a moment he wondered what it would be like to kiss those lips, awakening Rush from his long sleep--but Rush was no sleeping beauty and he was no prince.

Inputting the code, Young watched Rush closely as the stasis field deactivated. He saw eyelashes flicker, recalling the fuzziness of his own awakening. Rush's eyes opened fully and locked onto his--and the gentle smile that lifted Rush's lips in that unguarded moment gave Young hope that one day he would taste those lips in a first kiss.

END