Title: The Intersection Of Points R and T
Characters: Tony/Rhodey (Slash)
Summary: A broken plane and disconnected friendship send Rhodey in search of new answers.
Author's Notes: This follow-on to Revived, Rebuilt, Reborn continues from Rhodey's POV, and was also written for tentinyfandoms ("Arrival" prompt).
It's hours later and the press-conference is over, but Rhodey still hasn't wrapped his head around what happened. One minute they were running simple flight-training exercises, and the next Tony Stark was caught up in the middle and phoning him to call off the dogs. Tony had no aircraft of any kind, and yet he was there and somehow managed to break a military plane.
If that isn't just Tony all over—impossible, unexpected, and always ready to just mess your shit up.
Rhodey knows it's late, but he'll be damned if he's letting that much 'bizarre' pass by without getting some whys and wherefores settled out, not to mention What the hell were you thinking? This isn't the first time—and it won't be the last—because Tony is uncontrollable and unpredictable, and Rhodey's a military man at heart; he doesn't like surprises.
Jarvis lets him in, Jarvis who knows too much about everybody and everything for a robot, and Rhodey's never gotten used to it. Rhodey's tried to trick it before ("I'm Hubert Haynes, here to see Mr. Stark." "That's quite amusing, Colonel Rhodes. Please show yourself in."), but it hasn't worked. Jarvis knows both who he is and who he is not. Years ago, Rhodey could have said the same for Tony himself.
"Tony!" he calls out, wandering through the entrance and around toward the kitchen. The upstairs is quiet but he can hear a distant thumping, like the bass drumline in one of Tony's rock albums. Moving toward the back of the house, he follows the sound down the stairs to Tony's lab.
"Tony?" Rhodey cracks the door open and peers around the corner. Tony's sitting at the master computer console, caught up in one of his projects. Rhodey walks around and stands behind him. "Tony, we have to talk."
"Hey, man, thanks for the save earlier." Tony continues with his calculations and adjustments, and doesn't even look up.
Rhodey knows what it's like when Tony's working on something (they both know—engineering's in their blood), but he's been too patient for far too long. "Now, Tony. I mean it."
Tony hits the "save" on his work and spins the chair around, finally looking him in the eye. "So let's talk."
"You, up there with my planes—what the hell, Tony?"
Tony crosses his arms and leans back in the chair. "Do you mean how? I came to you about this weeks ago, Rhodey. But you wouldn't even hear me out."
The accusation in Tony's voice makes Rhodey think back. "You were throwing away everything you and your father ever worked for, just like that. You've always been impulsive, but never that self-destructive. It wasn't right—you weren't yourself."
Tony rises up to face him. "How could you even know whether that was true? You brought me back from the desert—I thought I was dreaming when you showed up, I thought I'd die out there—and then you disappeared. It wasn't the greatest thing for your job, I'll admit, changing the company's future. But you were my friend, Rhodey—for years now, before there was a job. This is the most important thing that ever happened to me, and you didn't even want to know about it. It's been fucking lonely, Rhodey," Tony finishes bleakly.
That's when it hits him.
Rhodey spent months worrying he'd never see Tony again, going back and searching through the desert again and again on the off-chance he might find him. When they finally spotted the wavering black speck that was Tony stumbling through the dunes, the damn plane couldn't land fast enough for Rhodey. He cracked a joke to hide his relief, but once he pulled Tony close and held him, it was all he could do later to make himself let go. He spent the ride home—from one plane to another, across three continents—hardly leaving Tony's side.
But when Tony announced at that press conference that he was moving the company away from weapons and onto humanitarian projects (whatever the hell that was supposed to mean), Rhodey felt so shocked and betrayed that he walked out and left Tony there behind him.
Looking back, Rhodey realizes that he's been stewing over it ever since. He never stopped by to see how Tony was doing, or what he was feeling after everything that happened. Rhodey's military, he knows about PTSD—the way it comes out of nowhere when you think you're fine, the way it gets its claws in you enough to hang on for a lifetime. And though Tony's strong and he lives by the creed of denial, that doesn't mean a damn after what he went through.
Shit, Rhodey thinks.
"I'm sorry, Tony," he says softly. "You're right—I haven't been much of a friend lately."
Tony's eyes redden a little and he jerks his head to the side, his jaw tight.
God, I've been such an ass. Rhodey puts a hand on Tony's shoulder, and when Tony doesn't move away he pulls him closer, holding him tight the way he did in the desert on the day he finally got Tony back.
Tony's arms come around his waist, and he leans into Rhodey's shoulder like he's missed him the way a drowning man misses air. Rhodey curls his hand around the back of Tony's head, stroking apologies through his hair. He rests his face against Tony's for a moment, trying to let all the things he should have said and done reach into Tony because he didn't do any of it, and he'd forgotten that Tony was never indestructible no matter how it seemed. Tony turns his head slightly, slowly, and the brush of skin against his own has Rhodey moving before he even knows it.
Tony's lips are soft under his, as Rhodey kisses him without hesitation. Tony's muffled gasp gives way to returning pressure, his hand sliding up Rhodey's back to bring him closer even as Rhodey responds in kind by cupping Tony's head. The kiss is long and smooth, as perfect as anything Rhodey's ever experienced.
All those years of friendship and frustration fall into place in the span of seconds, with the feeling of Tony's mouth against his, wanting whatever he's ready to give.
Everything, Rhodey realizes suddenly—he'd give Tony all of it, all the things Tony's hinted at for years with the flirting and teasing that Rhodey always assumed was just Tony yanking his chain. It wasn't a joke, never had been, and why hadn't he noticed that he was the only man Tony ever treated that way?
Rhodey sucks on Tony's lower lip, and feels the answering moan run all the way back through him and straight down below. Tony presses up against him hard, his tongue slipping into Rhodey's mouth, and it feels so good that Rhodey's chasing after it already. He tilts his head and lets the kiss go deeper, his tongue stroking over Tony's as he pushes his knee between Tony's legs and pulls him up tight to ride against his thigh.
Rhodey doesn't do this with men, but that doesn't matter because this is Tony, and Tony's always been the exception to every rule ever made.
Already, Tony's pushing him down to the floor, and Rhodey lets him. Tony moves over him with his own kind of intensity, rubbing and rolling until Rhodey's about to burst out through his pants. He is so hard, and getting more wound up every second, and he can feel that Tony is every bit as interested.
"Clothes," Tony mutters against Rhodey's mouth, fingers reaching to yank down the collar of Rhodey's shirt so Tony can bite his neck. Rhodey's hips rock up against him all on their own, seeking movement, friction, anything to get him off.
He can't remember when he's been this impatient with anyone, not since he was a teenager at least. He pulls Tony's shirt up, and the skin underneath is smooth and so much softer than Rhodey expected. Angling down, he finds Tony's mouth again and sucks on his tongue greedily, while pushing on Tony's ass until they're grinding together right there on the floor. Rhodey's so jacked up that he doesn't care about details or finesse, and he's totally willing to go with this, just the two of them rubbing together until they explode inside their clothes.
He's not expecting what comes next, with Tony reaching down one-handed to loosen his belt, his zipper, and then pulling Rhodey's pants off completely and sliding down to lick every last inch of him.
Rhodey's brain whites out, taken over by the way every part of him sparks and hums under Tony's touch. Tony plays him like one of his own creations, like he knows where every wire and button is connected and what it's for.
Rhodey can't hold off for long, not like this, and Tony stays right with him as he gasps and shudders his way to the finish. It takes several long moments before Rhodey can think again, and when he does he finds that his hands are still sliding slowly through the unexpected silkiness of Tony's hair. He pulls Tony up to lie beside him, and then he kisses the taste of himself from Tony's mouth and slips his hand down the front of Tony's pants.
It's tight and hot under there, but Rhodey just wants a chance to brush his fingers over that satiny skin. He pushes and rolls over the tip before pulling his hand back out and fumbling open the clasp and zipper to get Tony's pants open and go for a direct hit.
Rhodey's never done this to anyone but himself, and it's so different not being able feel the effect of his technique on his own skin. It's better, though, because the way Tony jerks and thrusts against Rhodey's hand and moans into his mouth is a huge turn-on, possibly one of the hottest things ever. For the briefest moment, Rhodey feels like he's controlling the untamed force that is Tony Stark. He keeps him on the edge a little longer—drawing things out with slow, smooth strokes and lazy kissing. Then Rhodey kicks it into high gear, tongue-fucking Tony's mouth while twisting his thumb over the head of Tony's cock, and Tony comes apart, thrashing and groaning as he spills out over Rhodey's hand.
Afterward, they lie there breathless, foreheads together and eyes closed as they come back down.
"Why the hell haven't we done that before?" Rhodey asks, though he knows the answer.
"I've been trying for years, but you didn't seem interested. Or maybe it was the wrong time, I don't know. No idea."
"Kind of like this whole thing with your new project," Rhodey muses out loud.
"Maybe," Tony says, shifting uncomfortably as if this moment of understanding is about to come crashing to a halt.
Rhodey opens his eyes and looks up at the command-center console, remembers the tables covered with equipment and schematics and that shiny metal suit.
"Tony?" he murmurs, his lips brushing the edges of his friend's hair.
"Yeah?" Tony whispers.
Rhodey pulls him in close, fingers brushing the stubble along Tony's jaw. "I'm listening now…"
------- fin -------