Title: Revived, Rebuilt, Reborn
Fandom: Iron Man (movie-verse)
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Tony/Rhodey (one-sided Slash)
Rating: T
Summary: Everything Tony Stark has never been becomes possible with a new beginning.
Author's Notes: My first foray into this fandom inspired me to try writing more. This story is for the tentinyfandoms challenge, for the prompt of "Mirror."

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"You're a good man, Tony," Rhodey tells him.

Rhodey means it, but the words always make Tony cringe.

He's never deserved them, and he actually knows it—no point in deluding himself. Rhodey's the only one who's ever believed anything different.

All the years Tony's known him, Rhodey's never gotten worse just like Tony's never gotten better. Rhodey is like an inverted mirror of everything Tony is: black to white, responsible where Tony's juvenile and random, patient and kind instead of sarcastic, and good-to-the-bone unlike Tony's tendency to be… talented and self-serving probably says it best.

Tony knows he's not a good man, because if he were then he knows exactly what that would look like, down to the uniform and to the capacity for restraint he's seen gleaming all too often from Rhodey's soft, green eyes.

Good men don't keep wishing their best friend were a lot less straight-and-narrow, let alone hinting with increasing directness until it's obvious that their friend is convinced it's some tired joke. What else could it be, when it involves Tony and sex and all the ways he's never even bothered to make himself behave?

Rhodey's not impressed with Tony's money, after all. Never has been. Push it aside and what's left? A jackass with an expensive car collection and a house on every continent who can invent shit the world has never dreamed of.

Why Rhodey even likes him, let alone believes in him, is the biggest mystery Tony Stark has ever known.

When Tony escaped from that Afghani compound, there was no plan beyond destroying the cache of weapons and getting away. The rest was desert, where the will to survive meant nothing against the ravages of heat and sand. Who could have expected Jim Rhodes to come sailing in from above in an eleventh-hour rescue? It still seems impossible, even now.

Tony would have thought it was a mirage except for the sounds of helicopter blades and Rhodey's voice calling out to him. When Rhodey pulled him close, cradling Tony's head on his shoulder, for a moment Tony felt like he was already home.

He'd made his decision long before the final plane touched the ground. It had happened somewhere back in that cave with Yinsen—after seeing his weapons in the hands of America's enemies, or maybe only after realizing that Yinsen had never planned beyond freeing him and hoping he'd try to change the world a little in return.

Tony announced Stark Industries' new direction within hours of reaching California. It wasn't his best press appearance ever; reporters thought he was joking and investors worried that he was serious. No-one was happy with the news, including Rhodey. But Tony was used to having only his own opinion of himself matter, and for once he utterly approved of what he saw.

Weeks later, Tony's happier than he's been in years. He's covered with trial-and-error bruises and his laboratory's a mess (not to mention the trashed cars), but he's getting somewhere. He's flight-tested the suit and made adjustments, and he's ready for something bigger.

Sitting on the sofa and watching a news feed, the question answers itself right before his eyes.

That village—occupied by terrorist forces, parents murdered in front of their children—it's calling to him from the other side of the world. The raw need pulls him closer to the screen, toward the blood and explosions, toward the glint of metal where a soldier holds another of his fucking Stark Industries weapons and aims it at man in civilian clothes.

Yinsen's voice comes to him then in waves, talking about his home and family and how all of it was destroyed, telling him, Don't waste your life.

Tony can't bring back Yinsen or all that he lost, but right now he's the only hope these people in this forgotten village have, and this time he can make a difference.

It takes longer than he'd like to get the suit on, but finally he's ready and his coordinates are loaded.

He catches sight of his reflection in the glass near the back of the room. There's nothing of himself in there that he's used to—no playboy sunglasses or expensive clothes. But this is him, this creation beyond himself that he's in the process of becoming.

At last, he sees a glimpse of the good man Rhodey's talked about for years.

Tony finally believes he'll find that part of himself someday. He hopes Rhodey will still be there when it happens.

- fin -