Warnings: Angst. Violence. Torture. Drinking. A few mild swears.

Note: With the 9/11 anniversary coming up, my stories have become angst-ridden whump fests, all influenced by the events my friends and I experienced on that day and after, news reports, and 9/11 anniversary coverage. This story is no different. From what I've been writing, you'd never know I was such a joyful person in real life. I really don't dwell on this stuff, but it does influence my writing. How can it not?

x-x

John followed Rodney into the room, leaned against the doorframe, and folded his arms. "You all right?"

Rodney slid into the chair behind Radek's desk. Opening the top drawer, he pulled out a bottle and the lone glass. Filling it, he immediately emptied the glass in two quick gulps, and only then did he nod. Holding the glass out toward John, he beckoned with it.

As John stepped into the dim lab, Rodney poured another shot and pushed the glass across the desk. He kept the bottle for himself.

John moved a pile of papers to the floor, then settled in the guest chair. "Thanks," he said, lifting the glass to his lips and downing the entire thing in one go. Glass to the table, he leaned forward across it, closing the distance between them. "You don't seem all right."

Rodney felt the side of his mouth curl up. "What was it that gave me away?" he asked, sarcasm turned on high. "Was it the screaming match I had with Elizabeth, or when my computer hit the ground?"

John pushed the glass across the desk and Rodney filled it, tossing the shot back quickly. Eyes watering and throat burning, he filled the glass again and left it on the desktop.

"I'm not quite sure," John replied. He smiled a bit, but his eyes remained cold. "I actually think it was when you punched Radek that did it."

Rodney nodded mock-sagely. "I can see how that -

"What the hell is going on with you?" John asked, interrupting.

"I'd really..." Rodney paused. "I don't want to talk about it."

John raised an eyebrow. "I don't see that you have much choice." When Rodney tried to interrupt, John went on. "Listen, either you go to see Heightmeyer willingly, or I'll drag you in there."

"You're not -

"Now, McKay," John said, and Rodney could hear the edge in his voice despite his calm demeanour.

"Fine," Rodney spat, rage surging through him with a suddenness and force that took him by surprise. "Whatever you want, Colonel." He stood so suddenly that his chair fell to the floor behind him. "Are we done here?"

John stood slowly, body suddenly tense and face guarded. "Yes."

Rodney lifted the bottle to his mouth and took a swig before he slammed it back to the desk. "Good," he said, stalking out of the lab with John at his heels.

x-x

Rodney ran rough hands through his hair. Pacing the length of his quarters, too restless to work even if he hadn't nearly destroyed his laptop, he reached the wall and pushed a fist against it, turning himself in the other direction. Maybe if he kept moving he could exhaust himself, and he could finally get some damn rest. Maybe he'd even be too tired to dream.

It was always the same, the dream.

Rodney shook his head against the thoughts. "This isn't working," he muttered, his voice sounding loud in the silence of his dim room. It was getting late - past midnight, anyway, and he could feel exhaustion tugging him down. But sleep meant dreams, and dreams meant nightmares, and he'd really rather not.

Stepping to his desk, he opened the top drawer and pulled out a box. Placing it on his desk, he slid the lid aside to reveal an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels that he'd received as a Secret Santa gift last Christmas.

"God, I hate this stuff," he said, wishing that he had something a bit smoother than the Jack. He didn't normally drink much, not even in his off-hours, and never alone, but today...today was different. And he really needed to sleep, and he wasn't sure he could handle that dream again.

Grabbing the bottle from its container, he slumped onto his bed. Cracking open the cap, he took a long pull from the bottle, gasping at the harshness of the liquid inside. But needs must, and so he took another sip, thinking of his day and hoping for oblivion.

After his time with Heightmeyer in her office, which Rodney had spent leaning back in his chair and calculating the mass of the ceiling above him, the psychiatrist had let him go.

Well, perhaps "let him go" was a bit optimistic. She'd actually had him escorted back to his quarters, where he was to remain until his visit with her tomorrow. He'd been taken off active duty at least until then. Heightmeyer had said something about "Post Traumatic Stress," but Rodney had been purposefully ignoring her at the time. Now he wished he had his laptop so he could look that up.

He'd admit to being a little anxious. And yes, punching Radek may have been a bit of an overreaction, but the man had startled him, coming up behind him like that, and... He was just jumpy, he thought, taking another sip, this one going down a bit easier than the last.

Rodney stood and walked to the dark window, staring at his own reflection in its surface. Maybe she'd been right. While he'd never been the model of mental health, he'd been way out of line in that meeting. Between yelling at Elizabeth and his reaction to Radek... God, poor Radek. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand. He should probably have given this to Radek, rather than drinking it himself.

He shrugged and took another sip, his eyes returning to meet those of his reflection. He looked the same - tired, but the same. But he could feel that something had changed. He wasn't sure what. Something.

Lifting his free hand, he rested his palm against the window, fingers splayed against the glass. He watched himself as he took another long drink.

It had been a hell of a week.

x-x

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