"What do you mean, you're not a top?"
Rodney folds his arms and tilts up his head defensively, looking down his nose in his usual way, the way that screams superiority complex and dominant and, god damn it, top. "I don't see how I could elucidate any further. It's perfectly clear. All words of one syllable, even. I, am, not, a, top."
John scrubs at his cowlicks with one hand, buying a couple of seconds to think. Unfortunately, two seconds later, he's still not coming up with any good reactions here. For lack of any better options, he goes with the truth. "You pinned me against a wall and held my hands down while you blew me. You see how maybe I could've gotten the wrong impression?"
"No, as a matter of fact, I don't. So I display a certain degree of enthusiasm and responsiveness to nonverbal cues-- that automatically means I have to prefer to, to pitch instead of catch? Should I wear a t-shirt?"
"Wow, no more Queer as Folk for you."
Rodney waves that aside, all impatience. "You made noise when I had my hand on your wrist, so I went with it. It's called being considerate, which believe it or not, I am capable of, and in fact I'd go so far as to say that while relationships might not be my strong point, in bed I'm both observant and proactive."
"Rodney..." Not for the first time, the shape of John's longstanding friendship with Rodney scrapes awkwardly against this new thing between them. Normally, he'd give Rodney a little ribbing now, tell him that no one who claimed to be "proactive" in bed could possibly be any good in the sack.
Except now he knows for a fact that Rodney gives incredible head.
One minute they were successfully testing the first new ZPM created in Atlantis in ten thousand years, the next they were impulsively clapping each other on the back and Rodney's hand was lingering on John's shoulder and John was stupidly leaning into it... add the celebration in the mess that spilled into Rodney's quarters, plus Rodney's stashed bottle of scotch... subtract Teyla and Kanaan and Ronon and Amelia, laughing joyfully as they went their separate ways, and then it was just the two of them in Rodney's room and it seemed like a really good idea to grope each other and trade blowjobs.
John dropped first; he just closed his mouth around Rodney, encouraging him to fuck John's face, and Rodney made a strangled noise and went for it, his hand fisted in the shoulder of John's t-shirt, using John's mouth like he owned it-- perfect.
And then better than perfect, Rodney hauling him up and pressing him against the wall, shoving against him aggressively while he unzipped John, cinching John's wrists in his hands and sliding to his knees and sucking him in, finessing with his tongue, demanding with his lips. Rodney treated John's cock like one of those goddamn ZPMs, like it was infinitely precious and he couldn't fucking wait to use it to its fullest extent in every possible way.
Everything about that night, not to mention the previous five-plus years of knowing the guy, convinced him that Rodney is exactly what John's been fantasizing about forever: brilliant, loyal, pushy, bossy, dominant, toppy and hot.
Rodney's shoulders normally ride hunched-up and high, but at the moment he looks even more defensive than usual, somehow both tensed and slumping. "I take it this is a dealbreaker."
"No," John says, but he doesn't sound all that convincing even to himself.
"John." Rodney just looks at him. Stress makes the lines around his mouth more pronounced. John wants to kiss them, trace them with his finger, kneel for him and do whatever he wants, whatever he says.
"It's-- important. But never say never, right?"
"I could try," Rodney says, "but I'm fairly sure I know what I like."
"God, Rodney," John can't help saying, "you sound like a top; how the fuck am I reading you so wrong?"
"I don't understand why you think people sound differently or behave differently just because they prefer one role to another in one particular activity."
"I guess 'cause it's a pretty big difference between roles in a pretty important activity!"
"Don't you think you're being a little unreasonable? Anal sex isn't the be-all and end-all of," Rodney catches himself and makes a face, "um, so to speak, but... anyway, why is that one thing so important? The other night, that was good, we can't just, you know... do more like that?"
"Because it's not about fucking," John says, feeling the reliable bloom of embarrassed heat in his ears, his face. "It's the, you know, overall... dynamic."
"Wait, wait." Rodney's looking intent now, looser, getting his genius face on. "You're trying to say, what, you want me to dominate you?"
Hearing it stated baldly outright like that makes panic flood through John's guts; he holds steady, closing down around the discomfort and willing it to ebb. He finally manages, "Not like what you're thinking."
"I think the fact that we just spent twenty minutes arguing about terminology demonstrates that you have no idea what I'm thinking," Rodney snaps. "To be completely clear, this isn't about your preferring exclusively to bottom during sex, it's about who orders who around. I have to say I'm surprised; your whole career is contingent on taking orders, and you've never seemed all that thrilled with that aspect of the job."
"That's different. I can be good," John responds without really meaning to say it aloud; he slams his mouth shut, appalled. Jesus. He doesn't even know if Rodney really understands what he wants, let alone whether Rodney's interested.
"I'm sure of it," Rodney says. He's starting to look smug, now, and his shoulders are as relaxed as they ever get; it makes them seem broader. It's a damn good look on him. His chin lifts, but not defiantly, this time-- elevated by all that hot air puffing up his ego.
Unfortunately, John's always found that both irritating and sexy as hell.
"I just meant," Rodney says, "that I'm not interested in topping during sex. I think what you mean... that's something else. I like getting fucked; you want to be bossed around; we can both get what we want. Easy. Right, John?"
All the embarrassed heat and panic, it's all melting together inside him; he feels lit up with it. "Yeah," John says, not as surprised as he should be to find his breath's already coming up short.
"Get over here and kiss me," Rodney says, and John does, pulled like he's magnetized, opening to Rodney and letting him, god, kiss John exactly how John's always wanted Rodney to kiss him-- possessive, strong, and certain, taking what he wants while John holds on tight and feels his blood surge and burn.
Rodney breaks off the kiss. "Good," he says, ragged but assured. "That's good. And later, soon, you're going to fuck me. I'm going to tell you just how I want it, and you're going to give me everything you've got."
John shivers. "Yeah. Yes."
"Of course," Rodney says, and the arrogance would be intolerable if it weren't so fucking hot. "Well, what are you waiting for? Kiss me again. Let's get started."