When I Close My Eyes by AndromedaMarine

The nerves start to lose their grip on reality after a while, you know. Med school didn't teach us that. Life did. Well, Pegasus. Or, to get even more zeroed in – the Wraith and the Replicators. Things that weren't natural to the daily processes on Earth. But the nerves. They tend to frizzle out once in a while. Those are the nights when I can't fall asleep, and end up sitting against the wall with my arms around my knees. Those are the nights when it feels like I've completely lost my mind to have accepted the offer to work out here. Those nights...I wish I had someone to hold me.

Sometimes I try to pull an all nighter, only to be prodded awake by the morning shift nurse. She gives me that awful look of pity and mentions I should get more sleep in my quarters, and to stop worrying about the paperwork. If only she knew. I've tried taking the sleeping pills I usually prescribe to McKay and Sheppard, but the strength is almost always too weak. And I know I shouldn't take more than a few, so I don't. My own medical training is what makes me sit through the suffering. But the city is my responsibility – at least, the medical department.

It all boils down to this one little moment in my existence on Atlantis. Everything manifests here. At the edge of the North Pier, where I'm sitting with my feet dangling over the side, in awe of the stars, I'm wondering what it would feel like to jump. Or fall, whichever. It's a reckless thought, sure, but one just out of the blue. Those thoughts are the ones that usually catch me off guard; ones that actually have more meaning than my conscience wants me to know. So. What would it feel like to jump?

I sit quite still, afraid of myself that I'll stand and launch my body off the side. When I close my eyes tight, hoping and waiting for the feeling to pass (it hasn't yet), I hear the faint footsteps. I wish I'm imagining it, but they get louder. Echoing off the distant city towers to bounce off my eardrums. But the sound of feet isn't the main thing with me closing my eyes. His image is on the back of my lids. It's burned there. I can't let myself forget his words – how he feels...and how I feel back. When I close my eyes, I see Rodney.

"I wouldn't peg you for a midnight pier-walker," he says, and the jump I make in fright is almost enough to send me off the edge. I feel his arm tighten around my waist as he pulls me back onto the solid metal (or whatever it's made out of) pier, into his chest. "Or a midnight pier-jumper, but I think that was involuntary. I'm sorry if I scared you."

"No, Rodney, I just...I thought I was alone out here. Being midnight and all." I try to smile at him, but remember that he still has me pretty much pinned to his chest. His arm doesn't slacken. "We night owls have a thing for the North Pier, huh?"

His chuckle vibrates through my back, sending a shiver down my spine. He reclaims his arm, and I turn to face him. "I guess so. Couldn't sleep, then? Me neither."

He hasn't even waited for me to respond. His introductory banter and its lightheartedness have worn off so swiftly. "Rodney, how long?"

"How long what?" He sits so close to me I can feel his body radiating welcoming warmth.

How long have you loved me? "Have you not been sleeping at night?"

One humorless 'huh' later, he glances over at me. "Do you want the exaggerated answer or the accurate one?"

My eyes told him all he needed.

"A couple weeks, now. On and off. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't." He's about to start rambling; I can tell.

"Why didn't you ask me for some sleep-aids?"

Rodney rubs his cheek. "Sleep aids have never helped me in this galaxy, Jennifer. Nothing but a full-on sedative or a generous dose of morphine and Percocet."

His demeanor has turned gravely serious in less than three seconds. He worries me. He's the reason I'm putting off all the paperwork. I don't want to go through and add to his medical file, or review all the horrible things he's had to go through before. Almost dying because of the crystal entity. Almost dying because of the Ascension machine. Almost dying because of every single Wraith and every single Replicator. I think maybe some of those fried nerves are because of the worry he puts me through. I deal, though.

"You wouldn't've given me a sedative, morphine, or Percocet if I'd gone to you for sleep aids."

He's right. "I'm sorry." I look back up to the stars, imagining one to be Earth's sun.

"Don't be. It's my own stupid fault, running of haphazardly through the gate to who-knows-which planet with god-knows-what on it. It goes with the job." He says the last part delicately and quiet enough to lose on the wind. "You look cold."

It's a statement, not a question, and before I know it, his jacket is warm around my shoulders. It seems almost imperceptible, but I can feel his body very close to mine. I wonder what it would feel like to have his arms around me again. When he pulled me back from the edge the butterflies had erupted. "I am cold."

Out of the corner of my eye I see him look down at me, one eyebrow raised. "Would you be...I mean...should I – do you really – well, Jennifer...if you want..."

"Rodney, just hug me." Direct orders rather than suggestions seem to hit home with this man, because he envelops me in his arms, and I feel safe and warm against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart. When I close my eyes, I imagine us together, really together. I look up at him, into his stunningly blue eyes, and see the pure Rodney McKay gazing down at me. I let a smile touch my lips.

When I close my eyes, the spark ignites as I feel his lips press against mine.