October 30, 1989
Daniel slipped on his blazer. "It's not too ragged, is it?"
"You look fine," Rodney said, leaning back in his seated position on the bed, his arms folded. "I'm sure the people from the Oriental Institute will be suitably impressed."
Daniel tucked his hair back behind his ears, pushed his glasses up on his nose, and looked around the room. His eyebrows drew together over the bridge of his nose, and he began searching his pockets. "My tickets - where are my train tickets?"
Rodney held them up. "You gave them to me, remember? For safekeeping."
Daniel smiled, one of those broad smiles that made his entire face light up. He climbed onto the bed, kneeling astride Rodney's outstretched legs, and took the tickets out of Rodney's hands. Then he bit his bottom lip, his smile turning a little more sultry, and slid one finger down the buttons on the front of Rodney's shirt. "You're sure I can't convince you to come with me? Celebrate your birthday in London?"
"Unlike the linguistics department, the physics department actually requires us to do work and take exams," Rodney said. "While you're being wined and dined by the intellectual elite, I'll be here, trying to build a better particle accelerator."
Daniel looked down at his hands, then flicked his eyes up to look at Rodney, so he was looking through his eyelashes at him.
Rodney sighed and rolled his eyes. "Okay, what do you want?"
Daniel's eyes opened wider, turning to the side for a moment, and his finger stuttered over the lowest button on Rodney's shirt. "I never said I wanted anything."
"You gave me that look," Rodney said. "You never give me that look unless you want to get laid, or you want me to do you a favor. And I'm still chafed after the last two days, so if you're looking for sex, the answer's no."
"Were the last two days bad?" Daniel asked, blue eyes blinking innocently behind twin circles of glass.
"No. They were quite good. But I'd like to be able to walk on my birthday."
Daniel hooked his index fingers into the top of Rodney's pants. He looked down, licked his lips almost unconsciously, and then looked up again through his lashes, strands of his dark blond hair falling into his eyes. Rodney gritted his teeth as he felt his groin tightening. Goddammit, and that was why Daniel gave him that look - because it worked every time. "Actually," Daniel said, "I was wondering if you could fill in for me at work."
"What, at the strip club?" Rodney said tartly.
Daniel's aura of sensuality fled as he leaned his head back, sighing exasperatedly; instead of sitting beneath a bundle of raw sex, Rodney now had a slightly annoying, slightly allergic wannabe-archaeologist straddling him. "For the last time, I do not work as an exotic dancer!"
"Wasn't the money good enough?"
Daniel looked at the wall, at the floor, at anything that wasn't Rodney. His cheeks began to flare red. "There's a matter of, um..." He cleared his throat. "Size...that they were looking for."
Rodney snorted. "Didn't measure up?"
Daniel blushed furiously.
Rodney looked down, then back up again. "Wow. That's a little...intimidating, actually."
"I know!" Daniel said, looking back at Rodney. He closed his eyes, then opened them again, giving Rodney a pleading look. "I've been modeling for an art class," he said.
"Modeling," Rodney said. "As in -"
"As in, I sit in one place for an hour, and people draw me."
"So you want me to go and sit in one place for an hour."
"It's tomorrow from 9 to 10. Everyone else who I'd ask to sub for me is busy." As Rodney hesitated, he put one hand against the other man's chest. "Come on. It's easy. And you don't even have lecture until 10:45."
"It's my birthday," Rodney grumbled. "I'm supposed to sleep in late."
"It's very relaxing," Daniel said. "It's an hour where you won't have to move. It'll give you the chance to think big physicist thoughts."
The idea was kind of tempting, Rodney had to admit. He rarely had a chance to just sit and think - he was always running from library to lab to dinner and back to lab in an attempt to get his work done, and unless Daniel was there to make his brain stop short with licks and kisses and nibbles, any time he even considered sitting still he was barraged with thoughts of what task he had to finish next. Besides, he'd seen the portraits of some of the dons hanging in the libraries and halls; maybe he would find some nascent talent there perfect to paint his own picture when he rose to such academic heights. "Okay," Rodney said. "But you'd better have a great birthday present in store for me."
Daniel bounced off the bed, spun around, picked up a pencil, and scribbled an address on the back of the envelope holding Rodney's power bill. "Just get there a few minutes early and ask for Clarice. She knows you're coming."
Rodney gritted his teeth. He'd been had - again. "You know, someday I'm going to say no to you."
Daniel grabbed his bag, flashing Rodney another broad grin. He leaned over to kiss his lover, one hand pressed against the wall next to Rodney's head to support his weight as the simple peck on the lips turned into something deeper and more passionate. "Thank you," he said, his eyes sparkling as he rushed out of the tiny bedsit. "Come over to my place after your afternoon lecture," he called as the door shut behind him. "I've got a present for you."
Rodney took the stone steps two at a time, cheeks cold from the October morning air. If he was going to have a class of art students marvel over his cheekbones, it was important he arrive on time.
He barreled into the studio, nearly colliding with the tall, gray-haired woman standing inside the door. "Watch where you're going!" he exclaimed.
She raised her eyebrows, a small smile alighting on her face. "Ah, you must be Rodney. Daniel told me you'd be coming."
"It's a pleasure to help students discover their abilities," Rodney said, smiling. He looked at the thronelike chair in the middle of the semicircles of easels. Perfect, he thought. It was a little battered and worn on the arms, but he was sure the artists could fix the wear marks in their drawings. Perhaps if they knew it was his birthday, they'd even let him take the best drawings home. "That's my seat, I take it?" he said.
"Yes," she said. "It's almost ready." As students began to filter into the room, she tossed a velvet cloth over it, and then turned on a space heater sitting next to the chair. "So you don't get cold," she said.
Rodney smiled. "I'm Canadian. I know how to dress for the cold."
Clarice raised her eyebrows. She opened her mouth for a second, then closed it, then opened it again. "Daniel did mention that he models...unclothed, didn't he?"
Daniel, you exhibitionist, Rodney thought. Of course his boyfriend would take a job modeling nude. And it certainly explained why Daniel sometimes barged into Rodney's bedsit intent on invading his lover's body in the most intimate way possible.
Then Rodney noticed that Clarice was looking at him expectantly, and looked at the students, all taking out their charcoals and pencils and setting up pads on their easels. Oh, he thought, and felt his cheeks go hot. He thought for a moment of running from the room, but that seemed even more embarrassing than the alternative. He was brave. He was an open-minded guy.
He was going to throttle Daniel when his lover returned, he thought as he settled, naked, onto the throne in question. This always happened when Daniel asked him for a favor - there was always some crucial little bit of information he left out. Like nudity.
"Make sure your position is comfortable," Clarice said. "We wouldn't want anything to fall asleep."
Rodney leaned back in the throne, one hand hanging off the arm of the chair, legs stretched out in front of him, ankles crossed. He glared at the class, practicing the glare he'd turn on Daniel as soon as he saw the other man, and thought of the ways in which he'd get his revenge.
Then he noticed his blood was flowing in the wrong direction. He shifted his other hand in a desperate attempt at coverage, and tried to think big physicist thoughts until the hour was over.
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