1Reality

A/N: Seen Kong twice...want a boyfriend like Jack desperately. Actually, would settle for any kind of boyfriend at all, at this point. Oh well. Jack/Ann, because I was in the mood for fluffy.

Summary: She envied him, then, imagining him somehow free from the terror that gripped her so fiercely.

Jack sleeps as still and quiet as one of the dead.

She's always been active in her sleep, moving and turning and thrashing about as the monsters from her waking world pursue her in her dreams...but not her Jack. He lays where his eyes close, a warm, solid mass that seems to not so much as twitch through the long dark hours of the night. She learns that if she wants his embrace in the night she must insure that he falls into dreams wrapped around her, for there is no moving him once he sleeps.

Even in his nightmares, he is still, and silent.

At first, when it is still a new and strange thing for her to have his solidness beside her, she thinks that he has somehow escaped the demons that haunt her in the small hours of the morning. It was the only explanation she could think of, because while she woke almost every night, jerking from sleep to her legs to the floor in one unconscious movement, a scream or whimper invariably caught behind her teeth, he never did. Not once did he wake her with movement or sound, though he always seemed to be clawing his way out of sleep to comfort her.

She envied him, then, imagining him somehow free from the terror that gripped her so fiercely.

It took weeks, and a noise from outside waking her, before she found that he had not, in fact, escaped. She had lain beside him, quite and still, waiting for the noise to repeat itself, straining for something that she was sure was just on the other side of her hearing, one of her hands splayed across his chest because that was where it had landed in her nighttime exodus, and in that moment she felt him flinch.

It was barely perceptible, just a quick bunch and release of his shoulders, but it came again, and then a third time, and then a soft exhalation of breath that was almost a sigh. Her eyes darted to his face, even as she propped herself up on her elbows, unsure and confused. In the soft light of the predawn sky he looked wain, and pale, and she could see the faded bruises under his eyes from a dozen nights spent awake with her. His eyes, dark, deep pools that sucked in what little light there was, where open and staring at the ceiling. She could she the vestiges of fear lurking in their depths, and in that moment, she understood.

Jack was a quiet man.

He blinked, and then his eyes flickered to her, and she wondered what he saw in her face that made the tenseness drain from his body, that softened the line of his mouth into something approaching a smile. And then he blinked again, and frowned, " Did I wake you?" his words are soft, careful, and she can hear the shame in them, though she does not understand it. When she doesn't answer immediately he is suddenly squirming into a sitting position, and she can see something that looks disturbingly like guilt sneaking around the corners of his eyes. " Oh. Oh, did you have the dream? How long ago? You should have woken me right away..." he is reaching for her, big hands catching her by the shoulders, dancing up and down her arms.

He looks confused and hurt when she bats his hands away, like a puppy scolded for reasons it does not understand. He starts to speak again, and she presses one finger onto his lips.

" You didn't tell me you had nightmares."

He shrugs, and smiles softly, and brushes a stray lock of hair away from her face as he says, " Nightmares? They're nothing. They're not important." He is pulling her into an embrace, his arms around her waist as he rests his face against her stomach, she looks down at the top of his head, and almost lets the matter drop.

" What are they about?"

There is silence, and he has gone still against her, not even his breath dances across her skin. She rests a hand on his shoulder, and he flinches, just slightly, before relaxing. She waits, because you can't rush Jack for his words, his mind is quite like a typewriter, and you have to give him time to find the right keys and make the appropriate revisions before he speaks or it comes out a jumbled mess. Eventually he sighs, and rolls so that he is looking up at her, his head resting still in her lap. He tells her, " There's just darkness, and legs. And eyes that are huge and...and dead." His eyes dance away from her, to the wall and then the ceiling and the door as his fingers pick absently at the blankets. He adds, in what seems to be an afterthought, " And teeth. It's nothing, just flashes." He tries to meet her gaze, and fails.

" Why didn't you tell me?"

" It's not important."

" It's important to me."

He pulls away from her then, off the bed and across the room and she is behind him without thought. She could let it go, let him go back to his silent sleep and silent screams, but Ann Darrow is not a woman who backs down. She wraps her arms around him, and he stills, one hand extended towards the doorknob, long fingers extended in some silent entreaty. " You tell me you love me, that you would do anything from me, yet you withheld this...this pain of yours. How can you...why would you not want to tell me?"

He is silent, and she lets her head rest against the warmth of his back as the cold of the floor creeps up the soles of her feet and ascends her ankles. It seems as though hours pass before he lets his hand fall from the doorknob, before he leans his head back till she hears the bones in his back shift and pop.

He says, " They're just dreams, Ann. They're not real, not anymore. They have no importance to me, not when I can wake up, and see you sleeping safe and real beside me. You're like an angel when you sleep. I look at you and..." he turns in the circle of her arms, presses a kiss into her forehead. " And I don't care about the dreams." They stand in silence, in the middle of the chilled room, for what seems like hours, as he whispers sweet, disjointed words into her hair, and she holds him tight as she is able.

This is real.