Pairing/Characters: Anthony "Tony" Stark A.K.A. Iron Man/ Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Implied past Tony/Pepper.
Rating/Category: FRM, slash
Prompt: Iron Man (MovieVerse), Tony Stark/Rhodey, You can't buy love.
Spoilers: Some comic canon, the whole movie and after credits scene if you didn't stay that long.
Notes/Warnings: To my betas, Willow and Trick, and I don't dislike it as much as I did when I first posted it. ^.^
Dedication: To my friend, Bunny , half of my motivation to finish a prompt is the prompter, but this girl kept me on track because I said I would try finishing some of my Rundown fics for her after. :D
"I am Iron Man."
Rhodey's shoulders sagged as the weight of Tony's careless comment registered in the minds of the press members present. They converged within seconds at the edge of the stage platform. Shouting questions, flashing cameras, and shoving microphones into Tony's face. He needed to salvage this situation and he needed to salvage it quick. Jim spotted Pepper gesturing wildly between his and Tony's form. He understood her immediately. One must learn Stark Sign Language from veteran friends of Tony if one wanted to understand Tony deep in a New Invention Phase. When he wasn't wooing the panties off another woman.
Pepper was basically trying to tell Rhodey 'Get him off the stage and to me. Manhandle him if you have to, I'll handle the rest!' Jim nodded an affirmative to show her he received her message loud and clear. Rhodey swiftly herded Tony off the platform, despite his protests, into Pepper's more than capable hands. The darker man moved back to stand behind the podium he had just made Tony vacate and for the first time in public showed the resolve that earned him the rank of Lieutenant Colonel James Rupert Rhodes and the place of liaison for Stark Industries. He turned a death glare on all the blood sucking two faced vultures who called themselves journalists to get them to hush up.
And hush up they did.
"Mr. Stark is not in fact Iron Man,"
Except one particular vulture.
"Then why did he just state he was? And if he isn't, as you say, then is it a military soldier?" Christine Everhart interrupted innocently, her tone overtly smug. Hogan had informed him about her tryst with his wayward friend. That was reason enough for him to dub her Queen of the Vultures.
"Well Ms. Everhart I was getting to that particular part before you rudely cut me off." He gave her a mockingly sweet smile, baring enough teeth to make a shark proud.
Everhart pressed her lips, but didn't say anymore. Rhodes continued when she didn't.
"Mr. Stark's bodyguard is a close personal friend who's like a brother to him. By thinking of diverting attention upon himself, no one would inquire clarification of his identity. What Mr. Stark hasn't thought of is the consequences of such a claim. His statement could and would have made his Guard's job harder had I not interfered. While it's imperative to keep his identity secret as long as possible, but it will come out eventually. Tony's loyalty and protectiveness is admirable, but unnecessary. Thank you and that's all." The Colonel calmly walked off stage and into the ready room, ignoring all the vultures insistent questions.
When he entered Pepper was babbling reassuringly to Tony as he nursed another glass of scotch.
"Really Tony it's not that bad..."
"Not that bad? One of my best friends just undermined me on international television. Thanks for the confidence in my judgment by the way, Rhodes." No matter how hard he tried, the dark brunette couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice.
"Tony, I know you're upset, but that was for the best. Imagine what your life would be like with that information left unchecked? You'd never have any peace!"
Agent Coulson took that moment to step in, before the discussion got out of hand.
"That was an excellent diversion tactic Colonel. Yet you do realize the likely repercussions to your career if the media gets wind of your tall tale?"
"Yes, I was very well ware of that fact when I countered Tony's statement. He's worth every single risk. Isn't he, Pepper?"
The redhead looked up from her position inspecting Tony's nose and their eyes met, projecting unspoken emotions.
"He is." She replied quietly.
Unbeknownst to Agent Coulson or not, they definitely weren't talking about Tony's safety anymore.
They were talking about his heart.
Jim ran his hands from Tony's thighs to his calves, he raised one of Tony's legs and placed it on his shoulder, pressing a kiss to his ankle. "You ready?"
Tony opened his mouth, but all that came out was beep beep beep.
Rhodey groaned, annoyed that his dream was being interrupted. He picked up his house phone from his nightstand and pressed Talk.
"Hello?" He answered, stifling a yawn.
'Jamie! Did I wake y-you?' A familiar voice slurred.
The drunken voice of his best friend woke him up instantaneously.
"Tony, do you know what time it is?"
'Not really. Hey, do you wanna have a drink with me? I think they're tryin' to cut me off.'
If Rhodey listened very carefully, he could hear music and shouting in the background.
"Tony, where are you?"
'Pure Nightclub. You gonna come?'
"Pure Nightclub at Caesar's Palace?"
'Do you know of another club named Pure and haven't told me? You dog! Clubbin without me!'
"How much have you had to drink?" Rhodes sat up and got out of bed to get dressed.
'A little bit...hic...of everything.'
The darker man wedged his cell between his ear and shoulder, so he could dress faster. Tony was a long term heavy drinker. If it wasn't quality scotch, whiskey, or bourbon he wouldn't touch it. So it was serious when his speech was slurred and his grammar almost non-existent. The amount of alcohol that would need to be consumed for a lightweight to get alcohol poisoning was only enough to get Tony tipsy.
"Don't go anywhere okay, Tony? I'll be right there!" Rhodey grabbed his keys and bolted out the door, thanking every Deity known to man that S.H.I.E.L.D had made the Air Force give him a few weeks off.
'I can't go anywhere but to my hotel room. Left my car keys up there. You wanna spend the night?'
His breath hitched. Oh how he wished that offer could have been made to him sober.
"No I don't want to spend the night," He said, "but I'm probably going to have to to make sure you don't kill yourself."
'How I'm going to do that? I'm sitting down!'
"Good bye, Tony, I'll be there soon."
By the time Rhodes arrived at the nightclub there were a group of girls around Tony's table, hoping to get lucky and make him their Sugar Daddy. So not only did he have to worry about carrying Tony back up to his room, but he'd have to worry about press getting wind of this publicity nightmare. He could see the headline now. 'Possessive Lt. Colonel snaps at Stark's Fangirls. Secret Gay Love Tryst?!'
Fortunately no one stopped them or stared at them either. Rhodey had to jostle Tony around in his arms to open his hotel room door. Everything went well from there. The darker man was able to take off Tony's shoes, socks, belt, and tie.
Jim dressed simply in a T-Shirt and jeans. The only thing he needed to take off to get comfortable was his shoes. Tony settled on one side of the bed and Rhodey settled on the other, because there was no way he was sleeping in a chair when a King Size bed was available. His feelings for the dark brunette be damned.
And before he knew it, Rhodey drifted off.
Some time later, the vague feeling of being watched awoke James. What was even more disconcerting was the weight of a warm body pressed against his side. He lowered his head and his eyes looked straight into Tony's unblinking ones.
"If you could buy anything in the world, Jamie, what would it be?"
"That's the second time tonight that you've called me Jamie, why the sudden change? And what time is it anyway?" Rhodey stretched, subtlety trying to dislodge Tony to no avail. Though at least the brunette seemed to have sobered up a bit during the time he was resting.
"I've always wanted to call you Jamie, but you never really liked it when others did, so I nicknamed you Rhodey instead. I don't know what time it is and you didn't answer my question."
Rhodey sighed, "That's because I've never liked the people who've called me Jamie. If I could buy anything, it'd be a farm."
"A farm?" Tony said incredulously.
The younger man leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling.
"Yes a farm. I'd fill it to the brim with animals. I'd make it a retreat for underprivileged children to keep them off the streets, and to teach them respect for themselves and others."
"Then why haven't you already?"
"I have enough to buy a ranch and a few horses, but it's the maintenance costs that's stopping me. I'd have to retire early." Rhodey replied.
Tony made a thoughtful Hmming noise, but otherwise didn't say anything else.
Two months later, Jim received a large manila envelope from Tony at the base. The first sheet alone caused him to plop down in a nearby chair due to shock. It was the beginning of a deed to fifty acres in Colorado.
"Colonel Rhodes? Is everything okay?" A passing female Petty Officer asked, sincerely concerned for him,"Do you need me to call a medic?" She laid a soft hand on his shoulder.
Rhodey's head whipped up and he quickly indicated no.
"Are you sure, Sir?" She asked one more time. Jim looked her straight in the eyes then, searching for any ulterior motives. From his days as a recruit until now in the Air Force, recruits were very jittery around superior officers, but all he saw was interest mixed in with concern and slight panic. In the back of his mind, her heart shaped face and caramel skin registered. Her name was Petty Officer Rosa Gomez, he took a small interest in her when she'd first been assigned, but Rhodey had a strict policy against dating amongst the lower ranks. He didn't want to cause thoughts of favoritism. Plus he'd been preoccupied with Tony's disappearance, his reappearance, and his new attitude and changed view of the world.
Rhodey hadn't had time for idle romance when the most important person in his life seemed close to a mental breakdown, even if he couldn't have him.
Jim mustered up his most convincing reassuring smile and stood up, carefully tucking both the sheet of paper he'd been reviewing and the envelope, "Yes, I am, thank you. I've just discovered some pleasantly shocking news." He motioned to the manila envelope with his free hand.
Officer Gomez nodded, "I see, Sir."
Rhodey saw a question brewing in her eyes, more than likely about what the news was, but he spoke before she could will herself to ask, "Well, I need to go meet with someone. Thanks again for being compassionate enough to stop and check on me, it shows you have a good heart and a good work ethic."
"Thank you, Sir! And your welcome!" She gushed, eyes bright and smile wide.
"Your welcome too. Good day, Officer Gomez." Jim said, striding off with a purpose. He vaguely noted Rosa bid him farewell as well, but he was too determined to care.
He had a manic genius to see.
When Rhodey let himself into Tony's house, the brunette was treating himself to an afternoon happy hour.
"Hey! What's up?"
Jim ran his eyes over Tony's body. The older man was wearing black dress pants and a dark blue silk dress shirt. His tie and suit jacket were probably tossed carelessly somewhere after a day at the office. No doubt the suit was tailored, it fit every single curve and line of Tony's form like a cascading waterfall (1). He caught where his train of thought was headed and mentally berated himself, reluctantly raising his eyes from Tony's legs to his face. "This is what's up." He threw the envelope on the counter next to Tony's alcohol bottles and cocktail mixer.
Tony beamed at it, "Great, you got my gift!"
"A gift? A gift?! Tony, you practically bought me a small town!"
The shorter man shrugged. "It's nothing compared to what my dad first bought my mom when they started dating."
"Dating! I wasn't aware we were." Jim breathed deep and slow to keep himself calm. Of all things Rhodey expected Tony to say, that had never crossed his mind.
"Not yet since my first courting gift took so long to prepare. I've negotiated business deals worth billions of dollars quicker than it did to get your dream farm ready." Tony said, sipping his drink nonchalantly, as if they were discussing the weather.
"What gave you the idea that I was remotely romantically interested in you, let alone that I'm bisexual?"
"1. You talk in your sleep, did you know that? 2. I never said anything about you being bisexual. Gay? Now that's a whole different story." Tony replied with a smug grin.
Jim decided then to just be honest and maybe he wouldn't come out of this exchange with his heart completely broken. "I'm...touched that you would buy something like that for me, but I can't possibly accept it. No I didn't know I talked in my sleep, what kind of things do I say? Yes I'm bisexual, so don't get so full of yourself."
The smile slipped off Tony's face. "Why not? I worked really hard to make sure you'd like it."
"It's not something someone buys another person before a first date.." Rhodey trailed off at Tony's odd look.
"I don't know where you've been, but I have. Never anything as big as what I bought you but it's something my dad started with my mom."
Rhodey blinked, "Are you trying to buy my love?"
"What would you do if I said yes?" Tony's smile had returned, but it was more wary than anything.
"You don't have to, Tony, I already do." Jim walked forward and took Tony's drink out of his hand, setting it on the counter. He moved forward and wrapped his arms around the short man's waist. "Okay, the future development of our relationship depends on the following answers to my questions, so please think carefully. Is anything going on between you and Pepper right now? And how long?"
"No. Pepper thought it over for a week after the press conference, but she said we're better off as friends and about as long as I've had feelings for Pepper."
Tony moaned in surprise when Jim suddenly leaned down and pressed their lips together passionately, his eyes slipped closed and he kissed Rhodey back just as fiercely.
His father had been wrong in telling him you could only work for half of someone's love and that you had to buy the rest, because unlike the rest of the way of the world, you can't buy love. You could only try and hope that you were loved in return.