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Assorted Tony/Rhodey Drabbles

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The Beginning (option 1):

Tony fell forward and Rhodey caught him, dust and sand whipping in both their eyes.

“I got you,” said Rhodey directly into Tony’s ear, more breath than words.

“No, definitely not,” said Tony, snorting into his scotch. “Earlier.”

Rhodey rolled his eyes.

The Beginning (option 2):

“I have to go with someone,” whined Tony, “and, hey, look you’re already dressed.” He was messing with his own bow tie and pacing around the room in big circles, looping around Rhodey so he had to keep spinning to keep Tony in view.

Rhodey put his hands on his hips and tried really hard to glare.

“It’s my uniform, Tony, it’s not black tie–”

“Baby-cheeks, you’ll be the prettiest princess at the ball,” said Tony, moving closer in his loops. “You’re always the prettiest princess, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–”

Rhodey pulled Tony towards him when the loop brought him close enough to grab. He swatted Tony’s hands away and finished the knot himself.

“Nobody ever doubted I was the prettiest,” he said, straight-faced.

Tony grinned.

“Oh my god, not even close,” said Tony, getting up for another scotch. Or. Actually, that wasn’t scotch, was it?

“We need to go deeper,” said Tony in a faux-deep, squirting the boxed apple juice into his crystal tumbler.

“…deeper?” said Rhodey, raising an eyebrow.

“Earlier, we’ll go deeper later,” corrected Tony, making an approximation of a lewd face as best he could around the hugely affectionate grin he couldn’t stamp down.

“Earlier than that?” asked Rhodey, honestly confused now.

“So much earlier,” said Tony.

In a hallway outside the dorms, in the vaguely communal area that was always a mess because it belonged to no one in particular and was thus no one in particular’s responsibility, a fourteen-year old Tony Stark dissected a television on the floor. He had Metallica blasting out of a speaker no bigger than a stick of deodorant but about the same shape.

“Man, could you keep it down?” asked Jim Rhodes, peeking his head out of his dorm room.

Tony didn’t hear him so he had to come closer, close enough to realize that Tony had headphones over his ears that were playing AC/DC so loud that it was canceling out the Metallica.

Jim Rhodes reached down and pushed the headphones off Tony Stark’s ears.

He meant to demand that he turn down that racket.

But he got distracted by the tangle of wires in Tony’s hands and so what he actually said was:

“Man, that’s amazing.”

“That’s the one,” said Tony.

“My god, you’re the worst,” said Rhodey appreciatively. “I had no idea how awful you were, but you’re actually the worst sap that has ever lived.”

“Shut up now,” said Tony, swinging a leg over Rhodey so that he could land on his lap. He’d given up on the tumbler and had the straw from the juice box dangling out of his mouth. Rhodey pulled it out of the way before he kissed him.

Chapter Text

The space Tony had came, seen, and conquered–meaning he’d turned to the person in the university-logo t-shirt during freshman orientation and asked if he could have it and then offered a metric ton of money for when the person had laughed in his face–was the basement floor of the building that housed the majority of the science classes. He’d cleared out the furniture and most of the walls between rooms and had turned it into one giant, cavernous workshop.

He spent most nights there. Most days too. Just sort of….most. He was mostly there. It was fine, he was a sixteen year old in the company of twenty-somethings and, whatever, he had robots to make.

But then, of course, there was the guy who showed up at the door at 3AM on a Tuesday.

“Dude, is that a robot?” he asked, leaning heavily on the frame of the doorway. He reeked of cheap beer.

Tony flipped up the mask and switched off the blowtorch.

“…yeah?” he said because it was 3AM and he had possibly not spoken to another not-robot-person in a few…dozen…hours.

“Dude,” said the guy again, his voice going breathless, “that is so awesome.” He slumped entirely against the door frame and started to slide down towards the floor.

Tony tossed the blowtorch on the workbench and bolted across the room to catch him before he slid all the way.

“S'like robots, man,” the guy continued, not apparently having realized he was no longer standing upright, “let me tell you, there’s, like, the possibility of alternative kinds of intuition or, like, wait where did you go?”

Tony waved a hand in the guy’s face. “Still here, Bucko.”

“OK, let me tell you a thing about–” the guy continued and he slung an arm around Tony’s shoulders, pulling him close. He continued to explain to Tony that robots were the future, man, and other incredibly banal things (but said very earnestly, very drunkenly, and from a very small distance). Tony tried to shift him back onto the door frame, but the guy just clutched him around the waist with his other hand and kept talking.

“You’re so drunk,” said Tony, finally, interrupting a ramble about the inherent beauty of circuitry (because duh). “Like, the drunkest ever, man.”

The guy huffed a laugh and ducked his face into the crook of Tony’s neck.

“Alright, alright,” said Tony. “Let’s get you to bed. A bed. No, definitely your bed.”

So Tony let the guy sort of half-fall-asleep, half stumble alongside him, getting vague directions from him as he recognized lampposts and, oddly, a particular bush. The guy and Tony–and Tony was small, OK, and this dude was seriously built even if he looked sort of wirey, Tony was not up to hoisting this dude up, this had to be a mutual thing–made their way finally to the guy’s dorm room.

Tony looked at the lock on the door and then back to the guy. The guy burped a truly noxious burp.

“Usually I know somebody’s name before we get to–what is this, third base?” mumbled Tony as he stuck his hand into the guy’s pocket, “god, I hate baseball. No baseball metaphors ever, they’re the worst.” He checked both front pockets, no keys.

He pressed the guy against the door to take some of the weight off and without further ceremony put both hands into his back pockets. He found the key in one of them.

“Rhode—heeeey,” said the guy. “That’s definitely probably my ass.”

“Rhodey? That’s your actual name?” asked Tony, putting the key in the lock. He turned it and caught Rhodey around the waist as he started to fall backwards when the door opened.

“What? No, that’s my actual ass,” said Rhodey.

“Please,” said Tony, “I’ve seen better.” He nodded his head downwards, towards his own.

“Yeah, ok,” said Rhodey sarcastically. He disentangled himself from Tony and gave a little wave as he shut the door in Tony’s face.

Tony gaped.

Chapter Text

Jim was not ashamed to admit he had gotten Tony wrong every time, at every turn. He’d started on the wrong foot when he had let his gaze slide right by Tony on the first day because it hadn’t occurred to him that another fifteen year old could be (a) already enrolled in his college (b) as a Junior, and © volunteering to help with orientation in exchange for the right to move back to school a week early.

(Figuring out why Tony–Tony who hated everyone at the college except Rhodey and Tony who had about as much volunteerism and school spirit in him as a rock–would volunteer for such a thing in exchange for a measly week early return would be another misconception that Jim needed to fix. But he’d fix that by handing over his own family to Tony, by taking Tony home with him for all holidays and huge swathes of the summer terms until Jim’s mom called Tony “her own troublemaker” and until Tony was tight-lipped and silent until Jim’s mom showed up at the funeral and he sobbed into her silk blouse in the family restroom while Jim guarded the door.)

Anyway, it’s not like Tony was getting Jim correctly either, what with mangling his last name and assuming it was his given name and then not caring to correct himself. Tony later confessed that he never did, he never got any of his best people right on the first couple of tries. Much, much later, he confessed that it terrified him how much he depended on his best people getting him right first.

But the long and the short of it meant they bumped their sharp edges against each other’s and Jim went home for Thanksgiving and announced that he was “Rhodey” now and also that his best friend was coming for Christmas.

Chapter Text

Tony found Rhodey and showed him the email.

“I’m the the shower, Tony,” said Rhodey, water dripping off his nose.

“Irrelevant,” said Tony, pointing angrily at the screen of his laptop. “Atrocities are being committed, Rhodey. This is an offense to human dignity.”

Rhodey ran his hands across his eyes and up into his–ok, yeah, there were biceps and, yep, there was all of Rhodey. Tony lost track of his point for a second.

“What’s an offense to human dignity?” asked Rhodey patiently. There was still a drip happening on his nose and Tony decided that was the point he should be looking at.

“The–um–the dean–the email–” Tony stammered. Rhodey sighed and leaned out of the shower to read the screen.

“An arts class?” he asked. The dreaded words restarted Tony’s brain.

Yes,” he said. “Me. In an arts class.”

“As melodramatic as you are, you belong in the arts,” said Rhodey. He drawled the word “arts” so that it sounded both mocking and sympathetic. Also naked. He made it sound naked. Tony wasn’t entirely sure he could have nailed down where the nudity was audible but it really was.

“Um,” said Tony. Language had deserted him.

Rhodey raised one perfect eyebrow. It too was dripping water.

“You get that when you interrupt me in the shower I’m gonna be naked, right?” said Rhodey. “It’s pretty basic shit.”

“Um,” Tony repeated. They told him he was a genius and language had utterly, completely deserted him.

“You need a minute?” asked Rhodey and now he was definitely smirking and still naked.

Tony nodded fervently. Rhodey put his hands on his hips in the same pose Tony’s nanny used to use when she was telling him to go to his room and put away the rocket propulsion. The pose would be so much more effective now because it would render Tony completely inoperable remembering Rhodey and all this nudity.

“Let me know when you’ve finished rebooting,” said Rhodey.

“Yeah, almost,” said Tony.

“Maybe it will be easier on you if you’re naked too,” Rhodey suggested.

“I was almost back, you know,” said Tony. “I need to sit down.” He sank to the tiled floor

Rhodey laughed so hard he joined Tony a moment later.

Chapter Text

James took the job at the bakery because he needed to buy his own shit and refused to ask his mom for anymore money, not with how tight her finances had gotten since the recession. She had trouble paying for the utilities, he wasn’t going to bother her about sneakers.

It wasn’t bad. He had to wake up at 4 AM, true, and be out the door and ready to bake a half hour after that, but it was quiet in the back of the bakery with Nick as they made bread and filled tray after tray with cupcake batter.

Starting at about six, people would start coming in looking for coffee. James would go out front and start filling the cups and handing out the first batches of muffins (the ones Nick made before James even showed up in the morning). People didn’t talk much at that time of day, mostly just a mumbled “thanks” and then they were back out the door.

Then there came the day where someone followed James into the bakery when he arrived at 4:30 AM.

“You need something?” James asked as he ducked under the counter. There wasn’t much, but Nick always made a pot of coffee first then when he arrived.

“A cupcake,” said the customer and James blinked. He could count on one hand the number of times someone wanted a cupcake first thing in the morning and it had never been this early. “Or, like, fifty cupcakes. All the cupcakes.”

James really looked at the guy this time. He was a short dude, wearing an MIT sweatshirt that looked like he’d had it forever and a half but the guy couldn’t be any older than James. He was a teenager at most. It must be someone else’s sweatshirt, surely.

“Come on, come on, I have finals,” the guy whined. “All the finals. You have no idea how many finals.”

“You sure you’re not looking for coffee?” asked James, just to be sure.

“No, cupcakes. I’ve had all the coffee already,” the guy said.

"OK, man,” said James and went to the back to see if Nick had any cupcakes. Luckily, Nick had just finished frosting a tray of dinosaur cupcakes, each with a perfectly sculpted frosting dinosaur in garish colors.

He slid a plate with three cupcakes across the counter towards the guy.

“I’m pretty sure I said fifty,” the guy whined as he unwrapped the first one.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be responsible for your diabetes,” said James, raising an eyebrow.

The guy froze with the cupcake poised just before it got in his mouth. James wondered if he’d overstepped. Maybe this guy was the kind who teased other people but wasn’t up to taking it when it was directed back at him.

Then the guy’s face broke into a huge grin. Maybe it was true, maybe nobody did tease him back. But he clearly wanted them to.

“You could give me diabetes any day all day long,” the guy said and ate the cupcake in one mouthful. “I’m Tony,” he said, his mouth full of cupcake.

“Man, close your damn mouth when you chew,” said James.

“It’s not polite to leave me hanging,” said Tony, still chewing.

“It’s not polite to make me see your mastication in progress,” said James. He couldn’t help it, he was beginning to smile. It was almost 5AM and he was smiling.

“I’m gonna have to make up a name,” said Tony. He paid for the three cupcakes with a kind of credit card James had never seen before, all shiny black with silver edges.

“Bye, cupcake,” said Tony as he left, his arms full of cupcakes. “I’m gonna be back.”

And that made James grin even wider.

Chapter Text

“Rhodey–sweetums, honeybun, darling,” Tony said and Rhodey rolled his eyes again because the past five times didn’t seem to be having the desired effect. “It’s just for Christmas! One day–two days, tops!”

“Honestly, Tony,” Rhodey said, sighing his most aggrieved sigh. “Don’t you think your family would know by now if we were dating? Like, wouldn’t a gossip columnist have called that shit if it was true?”

“I totally thought of that–and don’t let’s forget that I have won round one because you are no longer outright denying me, you are bargaining! That’s step two towards me winning!”

“Tony, that’s grief, those are the stages of grief–”

“I have talked about you on the phone for months, and Jarvis was happy to throw a little white lie in here and there–” Tony’s wheedling voice was nasal and grating, that’s what Rhodey always said. He tried to hold firm and continued to talk over Tony.

“–and anyway, I never said I would date your scrawny white ass, I never said it, so no winning–”

“You’re defaming my ass,” said Tony, arms folded and all petulance. “He’s defaming my ass!” He called to the potential eavesdroppers. “My ass is 10 out 10, I did a survey–”

Regardless of the quality of your ass–)

“–which is high quality, studies say–”

“–I am not now nor will I ever be your boyfriend.” Rhodey folded his arms, mirroring Tony. He could out-stubborn this asshole.

Two weeks later, he was pulled out of Tony’s Mustang because apparently fidgeting with your stupid reindeer sweater was not a legitimate reason to dawdle in the car.