Their first night onboard the Discovery isn't at all what they expected it to be.
Instead of celebrating the fact that they are finally living together, Hugh Culber finds himself trying very hard to be sympathetic to Paul who is irritable and in a foul mood and not at all happy with the military design of the ship that is supposed to be a science vessel.
Instead of revelling in the knowledge that waking up next to Hugh will be part of his daily routine from now on, Paul Stamets finds himself being at his most obnoxious and abrasive – allowing for biting sarcasm to conceal how he cannot quite shake the feeling that Starfleet will take the beauty he sees in mycelium and turn it into something dangerous and unforgiving. He feels bad because of it but he cannot help it.
He is miserable and not even Hugh can make that go away right now.
Instead of shutting the world, the universe, everything out for just this one night, Paul and Hugh end up spending their time in silence, watching space drift by - barely aware of their reflections on the glass-like surface before them as neither one bothers to activate the screens.
As always, when they come, Paul's apologies are never extensive. But they are genuine. And while, after what seems like hours to both of them, a nearby nebula paints the room in soft, copper hues he signals Hugh that this time will be no different. His partner deserves as much.
“This should have been a special evening. You and me, finally together. It-,” for a second he has no idea how to finish that sentence, “It's all just a bit much right now.”
He is aware there is more that he should say, more he should explain, only he doesn't even know where to start. Of course, though, Hugh understands.
His warm fingers wrap around Paul's left hand, his soft smile illuminated in the most beautiful of ways as he sighs, “I know.”
And he always does, doesn't he? It's one of the mysteries Paul believes he will never be able to solve: How Hugh always seems to be able to see him and understand.
Their first night onboard Discovery isn't at all what they expected it to be.
Instead of being jubilant and excited they just slip into bed wordlessly, bodies curled towards each other, with nothing but the soft hum of the engines to surround them and melt into their breathing.
Instead of feeling like in midst this war something beautiful and big is happening, Paul seeks comfort in Hugh's presence, and Hugh grants it willingly.
Together they fall asleep, fore-heads touching, hands entwined in a silent promise to be there for each other and protect what means the most to them. To never let go.
Their first night onboard the Discovery isn't what they expected it to be, but it is all they needed.