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by Resonant

For Shalott

John had Rodney's attention for two whole minutes once. He was talking about his efforts to entirely eliminate friction in the engine of Jason Bayard's father's golf cart, and he was just getting to the first speeding ticket when Zelenka walked by and said, "equation," and that was it.

Elizabeth paid attention to him when she thought he was up to something, which wasn't really all that often; Elizabeth didn't know him very well yet. Ford paid attention to him like he was a really awesome TV show. Teyla paid attention to everybody, or nobody, he wasn't quite sure which. But Rodney was the one whose attention was worth having. In a place where everybody had one Ph.D. for everyday and another one they saved for special occasions, Rodney was at the top of the heap.

The first thing John tried was manly courage. This effort lasted for about fifteen minutes, which was how long it took for John to figure out that half the time Rodney defined 'manly courage' as 'suicidal idiocy' and the rest of the time as 'that thing you do to make yourself useful if you don't have any brains to offer.'

After that, he tried superior firepower (which got him a mocking sort of attention that he mostly could have done without), and quiet competence (a total waste of time), and "THX 1138" quotes (which got a very satisfying double-take, but only worked once).

Sometimes he tried charm. A certain percentage of the population had always found John charming, and Atlantis seemed to have pulled disproportionately from that group. From Rodney, any effort to be charming usually got him an eyeroll, which was at least a reaction.

The first time he tried math, it got him not just a pause in the flow of words but actual eye contact, not to mention the pleasant grunt doing factorials ... does not compute ... expression. After that, of course, it got harder and harder to surprise Rodney, but numbers never failed to get John at least a glance, and that was worth it.

The other foolproof method was rescue-from-imminent-disaster, but on the whole, math was easier.

One reason Rodney's attention was worth something was because it was rare. Rodney gave attention to problems, and to devices, and to food and coffee, and to worst-case scenarios. People, not so much. He made you earn it.

Which made the rare occasions when he said, "Hey, that might work," really rewarding.

John wasn't going to think about the even rarer occasions when Rodney said, "Yes, yes, exactly," because sometimes he heard that in the shower while he jerked off, and so it had come to have a Pavlovian effect.

Right now, Rodney was wasting his attention on a pile of things that looked like they could be assembled into a cross between a washing machine and a stained-glass window, with attachments for underwater navigation and caulking. Sometimes things that looked like spare parts turned out to be Ancient devices, but John was pretty sure these were just spare parts, because if they'd been devices, Rodney would have asked him to turn them on.

Rodney had grunted when John came in, and when John actually interrupted him, he muttered something -- sometimes even something relevant -- but generally he'd been ignoring John for three quarters of an hour, while John took the other rolling chair and stared at the nape of Rodney's neck and thought reckless thoughts.

"Some of that stuff is from a diving craft," John said. He reached for a couple of things that he was almost sure would go together as a laser gyro, though a lot more elegant than anything he'd ever worked with. "Look, if you hook this to --"

Rodney poked his hand with something that looked like a T-square made of yellow enamel. "Put that back. Don't be an idiot. You don't even know what that is."

"Yes, I do," he said. Whining had so far struck out as an attention-getter, but it was its own reward. "I built a submarine engine once."

"How nice for you," Rodney said without looking up.

"Oh, hey, look at that, that will take oxygen out of the water. Hand me that green hollow thing. We could hook it up to a regular diving mask -- I'm pretty sure somebody's got one. Let's go check it out, Rodney. You can go first."

"No, no, and also hell no," Rodney said, poking his hand with the T-square thing again. "And don't try that sorry excuse for charm on me. You couldn't charm your way out of a wet paper sack."

Sorry excuse for --! He was charming. He was very charming, damn it. Rodney wouldn't know charm if it broke his nose. "Oh, and you rolled your charisma on the four-D-six-minus-one method," John shot back.

The T-square fell out of Rodney's hand and clattered on the floor. "What?"

What on earth was he acting so surprised about? "It can't be news to you that you're not exactly in the running for Miss Congeniality ..." He trailed off. Rodney was grinning.

"You always do this to me," Rodney said, his mouth going even more crooked. "Just when I've decided you are exactly what you appear to be."

John blinked as he got it. "D&D talk? That's what it takes to get your attention?"

"You were trying to get my attention?" Rodney turned to face John, and John suddenly realized that they were really sitting very close together.

"Uh -- no?"

Rodney rolled his rolling chair closer, until his leg was touching John's. "You were. You were trying to impress me. To get on my good side."

"Is this your good side?"

"I have many good sides."

He tried an eyebrow wiggle. "At least twenty. Why don't I roll you and see which one I get?"

Rodney's eyes widened. "Cut it out."

"Why would I?" He put his hands on the arms of Rodney's chair and pulled it closer, until one of Rodney's knees bumped up against his own seat. "It's working."

Rodney opened his mouth to speak, and John thought of a good way to close it again.

He'd imagined Rodney might kiss the way he talked -- hasty and headlong -- or the way he thought -- impatient and skipping steps. Anyway, the common thread was speed.

So nothing had prepared him for Rodney holding him still with a firm grip on the back of his neck and lip-reading him, a quarter of an inch at a time. Suddenly his lips, which he'd always thought of as one moderately interesting body part, were revealed as a vast and complex territory, with their own miniature erogenous zones. And there was no reason why Rodney's tongue on the left corner of his mouth ought to feel wonderful, and no reason why Rodney's tongue on the right corner of his mouth ought to make him want to fall on his knees and beg. It made no sense.

"Rodney," he said, shockingly loud and ragged, and Rodney pulled back to give him a surprised look. Like he didn't even know what he was doing to John.

John got an arm around Rodney's back and hauled him down to the floor. They went down a little too fast and Rodney's chair took off across the room, but by then John had achieved full-body contact and had stopped caring what happened to it, or to anything else.

Rodney obligingly pressed in close, and then he expanded his exploration to include fingers as well as lips, and to cover John's face and neck and ears and hair as well as his mouth. But damn it. John kept opening his mouth wider, but Rodney refused to take the hint, until John was completely focused on the idea of having Rodney's tongue in his mouth, obsessed with it, maddened by it.

He couldn't even say he was surprised that Rodney could do this to him with only a kiss. He'd wanted Rodney's attention, and now he had it, and it was going to kill him.

He grabbed and he groped and eventually he just stuffed one hand down the back of Rodney's pants, and that did it: Rodney gasped, and his tongue stabbed hard into John's mouth -- finally! -- and he tumbled John down on his back and climbed on top of him.

Hard. Rodney was hard for him. John pushed his hand in further, far enough to fit his fingers around the curve of Rodney's ass, and Rodney pushed up on his elbows. John opened his eyes to a look that was fond and impatient and very familiar.

"John," Rodney said gently.

"Mm?" Rodney's hair was sticking up in back. John didn't remember grabbing it, but he wanted to do it again.

"Lock the door," Rodney said, and shifted his weight to one side, and undid John's fly button.

"Whuh?" God, Rodney knew he was evil. He'd gotten hold of the zipper tab and lifted it away from John's body before pulling it down, so that John couldn't feel anything but the pants loosening up around his hips, not even the shadow of a touch, with Rodney's hand so close, so close --

"Lock. The door."

Privacy, privacy, he thought at the room, as hard as he could, because if they had privacy, he could -- and Rodney might --

From the direction of the door, he heard five separate clicks, and then a sliding thunk. After a little pause, there was one last click for good measure.

"I'm going to assume that you'll be able to get those unlocked again," Rodney said, tucking his hand under the elastic of John's underwear and lifting. John held his breath and squeezed his eyes shut as Rodney shifted position, because ten to one the first touch of Rodney's hand on his cock was going to send him off like he was sixteen --

"But not too soon," Rodney added from somewhere further south than John had expected, and then, oh, shit, oh, god, hot wet mouth mouth mouth!

John's head hit the floor hard enough to make his ears ring, and that and sheer surprise backed him off the edge for a second. But then Rodney did some sort of suck-lick-squirm thing and dug his thumbs hard into John's hips and it was all over, John was coming, coming in Rodney's mouth, hard enough to leave him lightheaded.

"I don't think I've ever heard anyone make that sound before," Rodney said below him, so smug and so perfectly Rodney. John hauled him up and pushed him over and kissed him for about five years.

By the time he was done, he'd licked all the taste of himself out of Rodney's mouth, and Rodney had started squirming a little bit. Maybe if John were good, Rodney would beg. Or say his name.

"Take this off," he said, tugging at the bottom of Rodney's shirt.

Rodney's eyes flew open, looking very dark in his flushed face. "What? No," he squeaked, and pushed John's hand downward. His other hand was already working the zipper of his own pants.

"C'mon," John said in a voice that had usually proved persuasive in the past, though he'd only tried it on cooperative people. "I want to do you slow, Rodney."

Rodney shut his eyes and bit his lip. "Next time," he groaned, "you can do anything you want next time, but if you don't touch me right now I'm going to die, and I wouldn't want you to have to live with that kind of guilt."

Promising himself more of Rodney threatening and cajoling him, hours and hours of it, in a bed even, John bent down and got in four good sucks before Rodney came. He didn't beg, and he didn't say John's name, but he said, "Fuck," which was something.

Rodney's stomach made a good pillow, just a bit noisy. John kept his head there, turning to face upward, while Rodney combed his fingers through John's hair.

After a while Rodney said smugly, "People never expect dorks to be any good."

"Tell me about it," John said. "But the element of surprise can be useful."

Rodney raised his head, looking annoyed. "John, you don't get to claim the dork badge of honor. Sorry, but, just, no."

"That's just here," John said drowsily. "You only know me here. If you'd known me back there, you'd understand." He kissed Rodney's stomach and closed his eyes. "Atlantis was a re-roll for all of us."

"You can stop it now," Rodney said. "You've already got what you want."

"Yeah," John said. "I have."


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May 2, 2005