series: "The Unfolding"
(This fic takes place at the end (and as a coda to) the episode Justice)
Characters/Pairing: Vanessa James, Eli Wallace.
Summary: Things could be worse; she knows this - but it's little consolation.
Dedicated to: Everyone who waited so long for me to write another fic in this pairing.
note: "shut my trap" = "shut my mouth". it's an American idiom that I'm not sure if its regional or not.
Welcome back, sir.
You - Alone? "Where's Rush?" Wray asks, articulating better than I can right now. And that's why they pay her the big bucks.
Or why they did.
"He didn't make it," Colonel Young tells us.
I manage to look away from the stargate long enough to see the Colonel's already gone, right down the corridor.
No. Can't be.
And I'm simaltaneously glad for this outcome.
"What's the occassion?" Eli asks me and I shut my trap.
"What?" I ask him, not looking at him. Not looking at anything but the stars outside the window two feet from me.
"For the Gaelic."
I tilt my head not enough to look at him, just enough for him to see me raise one eyebrow. That should do it.
"I do know Gaelic," Eli asserts. "It was in the Cromwell, Custer, and Wallace expansion pack for Total War."
"There is no such expansion pack," I say.
"I know," Eli says, and I realize he's outmanuvered me. "So what'cha singing?"
"No idea. My grandmother never taught me the words." One hundred percent true. "Why're you curious?"
Eli hesitates, as if he wants to be sure not to say the wrong thing. "Be-cause you never actually killed me."
"That's to your credit," I tell him. "You didn't force my hand."
"So, you really would have..."
I don't say anything, and keep my face blank.
"Oh," Eli says.
A fine pair we make - neither of us will say we miss Nicholas, and we're caught in a rut in our minds. "One more gone," I say.
"Yeah," Eli says. We'd lost people before, after boading Destiny - Eli personally watched three of them walk through a 'gate and never return. Never someone he knew so well, though; I imagine that part's keeping him up nights.
I'm supposed to be able to handle it better. Eli says something to the contrary, either because I was actually saying that, or because he's trying to tell me I don't need to be a super-stoic warrior princess.
"I'm fine," I say. Trained to handle sudden losses. Brought up against a backdrop of numerous losses. "Destiny's not," I add. I can't be selfish; mustn't. Destiny needs Rush to run it, needs Young to manage us little people.
"None of us are," Eli says.
"Everyone on board, we're a scale - Dr Rush and Col Young, they balanced it." And Wray, she balanced and balances it too, but I'm not good at that sort of math.
"What's the worst that could happen?" Eli asks me, and I don't know if he wants an answer, or he's trying to convince the both of us that things are not as bad as they may seem.
I keep expecting to hear that we all have to bootstrap ourselves up as part of a steep learning curve, and if we fail...so long, Destiny. I say as much, cautious with my words, even now.
On the other hand, if Rush had returned and Young hadn't...what might have happened? Possibly...
"What're you doing here?" Scott asks me. "Slumming?"
"I'm helping," I say, picking up part of the weight of the room-long piece of equipment being hauled to the other end of Destiny.
Wray looks over at us and says, "Some of us wouldn't be so quick to leave the ivory tower," her voice tired and sore.
"You can do more up there," Greer says, the first halfway cheerful thing I would've heard in a while.
I shake my head back to reality and here and now. There's a far worse case scenario: both Nicholas and Young didn't get back, and I side with Wray to keep Scott from taking over the ship.
"Thanks, Eli," I say. Without you here, I'd have been stuck without knowing why I couldn't get my mind a-moving.
"And - you're welcom...wait, what'd I do?" Eli asks. You got the wheels turning, and it got me out of the rut. I had to face the possibility of what nearly was, but I couldn't get myself to do that.
"Talking helps me sort things through. So thank you, Eli," I say - I'd give him a peck on the cheek as I stand up, but I'm afraid he might faint or become tongue-tied every time we run into one another from now on.
As I leave the room and Destiny returns to FTL, I think to myself what my grandmother told me to never forget: Wrap it up, put it under one arm, and keep walking.
Wrap up Nicholas Rush, now there's a mental ima- Wrap it up, put it under one arm, and keep walking, get on with your life. Keep walking.
The End of this fic