Time didn't always mean much to a lot of people on Atlantis. With the military working shift patterns, and the scientists loosing themselves in their work for long hours, time was really something Rodney McKay wasn't bothered with. His briefings were arranged for i 'the next ten minutes' /i or ' i in an hour' /i , meals were set for whenever he was hungry, the sun rose and set but the numbers weren't important. Time wasn't important.
Not in another galaxy.
Time had become a bad omen. The numbers were count downs. Two hours 'til life support ran out, three days 'til the Wraith arrived, five minutes 'til the bomb blew.
Time as dangerous, a killer out in the galaxy and to Rodney, two am was the same as two pm. Especially as there were no windows in his lab.
He almost jumped over one of the lab benches when the beeping started, the tinny, whiny sound of an alarm clock startling him, and he hunted it out from where it had been hidden in some equipment on the shelves behind him. It had been silent before then, with just the occasional tap-tap-tap of the keyboard and the brush of his stylus filling the room. He slammed his palm down on the button, punishing it for almost giving him a heart attack.
Carson had dished out the little clock a few days before, the ability to receive provisions and equipment from earth every few weeks via the Daedalus had a few down sides and the Scottish doctor didn't trust him not to deactivate any alarm he set up on the systems. Carson called it his sleep programme. His new initiative to get some of the more workaholic members of the expedition into bed and asleep earlier. Or in Rodney's case, to get some sleep at all.
He grumbled, not only was there the little alarm clock that Carson himself set up and hid in his lab everyday, but a couple of airmen would be along in half an hour to make sure he hadn't ignored the signal that it was way past his bedtime. He'd discovered that on the first day, and last night airmen Morris had warned him that he was allowed to drag him to his quarters.
It seemed extreme to Rodney, who could survive on no sleep for...a long time, depending on the situation.
It was early and he really didn't feel like sleeping. Carson had refused to tell him who else was in his programme but with a little talking he'd found out who a few of the other unfortunate souls were. Despite their late night sparring sessions Sheppard and Ronon weren't forced to bed, and he'd not heard a word about Elizabeth, a woman, he knew, would sit up and work until she passed out. Like him, but managed to get away it a lot of the time.
She never looked like she needed sleep, unless there had been a crisis, she always looked perfect in his opinion, beautiful. Rodney knew he looked like hell a lot of the time, crisis or not, but his appearance was not reason enough for him to need more sleep. He looked at the little silver cubed clock and realised that while he had been lost in thought, time had passed and Morris and Ellen would be along soon to 'escort' him to bed. Last night he'd asked if they wanted to watch him undress and get into bed, tonight he'd ask them to join him, so they could be sure he would sleep.
They had to find him first.
He left the clock on his bench and wandered out of his lab, wondering if he should get something to eat or just give up and go to bed. But he'd not long eaten and he really wasn't sleepy and in thinking about Elizabeth he wondered if she had ignored her own alarm clock.
There was a high probability that Carson had given her one.
He decided to go and see if Elizabeth was at least up, even if she didn't have an alarm, didn't have to go to bed, he could at least moan to her about being forced to bed when he could be on the cusp of a break-through.
Atlantis at night was only different in it's darkness and it's silence. Just as few people roamed some of the corridors, just as many roamed others. They were quieter maybe but McKay didn't really notice as he walked across the control room, towards the glow of yellow coming from Elizabeth's office. He smiled, knowing she was there, she always turned the lights out before she left for the night, as if her little lamp would make a big difference to the energy stored in the ZPM.
He walked in without knocking, smiling at her. She looked up from her laptop, fingers hovering over the keys for a moment longer, smiling back.
"Rodney, aren't you on Carson's sleep programme?"
"Aren't you?" He asked, spying the little clock on her desk, identical to his.
"I'm waiting for my escorts to come and drag me away." She said. "It's an extra half hour."
"Who did you get?"
"Lt. Mills and Airmen Didya."
"Morris and Ellen. Can't you overrule Carson?" He said, almost pleading. She shook her head. "Not even for yourself?"
"Have you tried?" A little blush appeared on her face and Rodney grinned. "What happened?"
"They recited the rule where doctors can overrule whoever is in charge under certain circumstances." She said. "Carson reminded me that it still applies even though we're both citizens."
"He's a good doctor," Elizabeth cut him off, "and a good friend."
"Yes, but I don't need sleep! At least not as much as everybody else."
"You could at least try Rodney."
"I have tried." He cried, exasperated, and he wasn't really angry with her, and regretted shouting at his friend like that, but he resented being sent to bed like a child. No one had ever done when he was a child. "I can't sleep, I don't see the point of being in bed if there's nothing to do." He went bright red as he thought about exactly what he could do in bed, and Elizabeth caught on a moment later, trying not to laugh. "I, um,"
"I understand." She said softly, trying to save him from further embarrassment. "Oh-oh." She nodded towards her office door and Rodney turned to see two airmen heading their way. "Bed time."
"They won't even let me take my lap top with me!" He tried one last complaint, in hope she would take pity on him. Usually pity was all he got from women, he knew that, maybe, just maybe she would let him take his lap top to bed with him.
"Ah, that's my fault."
"Oh." He had been about to grumble further about Carson but hesitated.
"I asked Carson to add that rule for me, I knew I would just work in my quarters."
"I suppose I could get used to it." She smiled at him.
"It's just a trial Rodney." She put her hand up, and her index finger, asking for an extra minute from the airmen who were at the door. "And it's not like they'll be forcing us to bed in the middle of an emergency." He nodded, frowning still, torn between criticising his friend Carson again and agreeing with Elizabeth.
"Fine." He muttered.
"Time for bed." She said again, and he turned again to see Morris and Ellen joined the airmen already at Elizabeth's door.
"Do you think I have to go to my own bed? That it doesn't matter whose bed as long as I'm in one?"
"Rodney?" She raised an eyebrow and he started to turn red.
"I didn't mean,"
"Dr Mckay." He groaned, he wasn't going to get the chance to explain himself.
"We're coming Lt." Elizabeth said.
"Can I walk you to your quarters?" He asked instead, maybe he could explain on the way. She smiled and linked their arms.
When they reached her quarters, Elizabeth opened the door and faced Rodney.
"Think they'd let me come in?" He asked, he hadn't explained, she'd side-tracked him with work and was looking at the four men standing a little way down the corridor. He looked back at her and her eyebrow as raised again and he had to think about what he had just said because he had been thinking about going into Elizabeth's room. "Oh, ah, not that you'd want me to come in, or let me, or that I'd want to, not that I wouldn't of course, I would, just, saying, that." The words came out in rush of air as he turned bright red again and she smiled, taking in his words. His flustered rambles were always an indication of how he really felt about something.
In this case, her.
"Goodnight Rodney." She said, stopping his ramble. They would talk about it later. Before their night time escorts began to get antsy.
"Oh, yes, goodnight." She nodded to the men down the corridor and went into her room, the door closing, leaving Rodney staring at it for a moment.
Dammit, he need to explain, again, and explain the first flustered outbursts.
"Dr McKay?" Morris asked, walking up to him.
"I just have to be in bed right?"
"I don't have to be in my bed, just as long as I'm in a bed."
"I, er, don't know."
"Beckett didn't say anything about that?"
"I'll ask him tomorrow." He said with a smile and let his new 'friends' escort him to his own bed.