Title: The Relationship Of Fact To Fascination

Author: HalfshellVenus

Characters: Tony/Rhodey (Slash)

Rating: M

Summary: How can you be sure of something you've never had before?

Author's Notes: This follows The Intersection Of Points R And T in a series written for tentinyfandoms (this one for the prompt of "Evidence).

x-x-x-x-x

It isn't awkward afterward, and thank God—the thought of fucking up his friendship with Rhodey (literally fucking it up) is more than Tony can stand. Rhodey is his oldest and closest friend, and there's no-one else waiting in the wings, no-one Tony trusts like that.

Tony isn't usually around for the "after" part. Once he and his sexual company of the moment are finished, Tony makes sure he doesn't stay long. He's left more beds than he's ever slept in, sometimes even his own. It's easier that way.

With Rhodey, he's almost afraid that this is it, a one-time thing that will never come again. So for the first time in forever, Tony is in no hurry to leave. Instead, he lies on the floor with Rhodey, watching the light glow off of his friend's skin while they talk. Rhodey strokes Tony's arm, runs his thumb over Tony's mouth and follows it with a kiss when Tony smiles at the touch.

Tony's lips tingle at the surprise of it—he feels that kiss all the way through his body—and yet part of him can't believe it's actually happening. Even though Rhodey kissed him first, back before, and even though Rhodey's still here—still touching him, still okay with all of this—Tony can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop. It usually does, especially when he's involved.

"Are you listening to me?" Rhodey says.

"Sorry—got distracted. Tell me again?" Tony softens the words by tracing his fingers along Rhodey's jaw and neck, maybe showing too much of himself with that touch. But if anyone's earned those feelings, it's Rhodey.

"I said, I'm looking forward to a demonstration later." Rhodey leans down and licks across Tony's left nipple, which Tony thinks is pretty fucking daring considering that Rhodey only stopped being completely straight about twenty minutes ago. "Just stay out of my airspace," Rhodey murmurs against Tony's skin. "Save me some embarrassment."

"And paperwork, I'll bet."

"God, yes—even the lies need paperwork," Rhodey laughs, and then frowns. "Actually, they need more."

"Government work in a nutshell. Can't find their own asses without forms in triplicate."

"Tony…" Rhodey warns.

It's a longtime argument between them, and Tony knows the military and Rhodey are suited to each other in ways he can't understand. "And I mean that in the most respectful way possible," Tony adds.

His stomach growls unexpectedly, subverting his questionable sincerity.

"Glad I'm not the only one who's hungry," Rhodey says. "Just seemed like the wrong time to bring it up."

A whirring sound approaches around the corner of the command console.

"Jesus, Tony!" Rhodey yanks his pants up, clutching them to keep them from gaping open.

"He's just a robot. Who knows nothing about food service, and can barely be trusted with the fire extinguisher, so go back to your corner, Dummy."

The robot trundles away.

"See, the fact that you name them does not make me more comfortable with the whole thing. It's like having a dog in the room." Rhodey fastens his pants and reaches for his shirt.

"Are you running off, or just getting dressed?" Tony says mildly.

"Thought we were getting something to eat now. Not going upstairs naked—God knows who might be wandering around. Too many people in and out around here—how do you stand it?"

Tony pulls his own clothes back on. "Never really noticed—it's always been like that, even when I was a kid."

"One of these days we'll go stay in a cabin somewhere, just the two of us."

Tony doesn't want to read too much into that statement, but he knows he's probably smiling like a complete idiot.

When Rhodey kisses him again and tugs his hand to pull him upstairs, Tony decides that dignity is really fucking overrated.

~*~

"So what happens if you have to go to the bathroom in this thing?" Rhodey asks.

They've eaten, and now they're in the lab downstairs again. Tony's showing Rhodey the goods, which would be more impressive without the burn marks from his trip to Afghanistan. But maybe Rhodey sees those marks as combat scars instead of damage. It's hard to say—Tony himself tends to prefer things new and shiny, but in the military that's a luxury that can't last.

"Hasn't been a problem—I'm not in it for very long."

"But if you did have to, then what? Like those knights stuck in their armor, back in the Middle Ages. Would you just go, and rinse it out later?" Rhodey persists.

"Talk like that will get you kicked out of the lab," Tony remarks, adjusting the torsion on the newly refabricated breastplate.

"It's okay, I've got a meeting in 40 minutes. I need to get going." Rhodey comes over, like he's unsure whether they should hug or kiss at this point, or just leave it.

After all these years of waiting to get to this step with Rhodey, Tony's not taking any chances. He pulls Rhodey in and kisses him with every ounce of his attention, until both of them are breathless. "Be good," Tony finally says.

"Always am," Rhodey smiles, and practically skips up the stairs, the downstairs door swinging shut behind him.

Tony pulls down the hip plate and looks around inside it.

"Catheter then, sir?" Jarvis interjects.

"Christ, no." Tony stares at the suit for a moment, considering. "Maybe some kind of suction tip instead."

"I'll get right on it, sir."

~*~

Tony is torn for awhile between going for the big gesture or planning for the consequences.

He'd love to surprise Rhodey with a suit of his own—in fact, he's kind of dying to. But while it would be easy for Jarvis to perform the measurements without Rhodey even knowing, Tony knows Rhodey would eventually get around to asking about that, and chances are he'd be pissed off. Rhodey's funny about things like that.

But since one of Tony's weaknesses is that he's impatient, he decides to go for the surprise anyway.

"Jarvis," he says, "I want a suit like mine for Colonel Rhodes. I need you to calculate the correct fit the next time he's here."

"Already done, sir," Jarvis answers.

Tony frowns. Do I talk in my sleep? Then he shrugs. Should have guessed. "Tell Miss Potts I'll be eating lunch down here."

"Will do, sir."

Tony fires up the simulator and goes back to evaluating solutions for the icing-over problem.

~*~

"This is incredible, Tony!"

Just seeing Rhodey so thrilled is totally worth whatever fallout might still be coming. It's been so long since Tony's been able to make Rhodey so randomly happy like this, out of the blue. He knows not to go overboard, like buying Rhodey cars and shit, because that's emasculating or something, but the suit is different. It's Tony Stark technology, new and proprietary, and it's not about money because nobody else can have it unless Tony's willing to share.

He hopes Rhodey understands what it means that Tony's willing to share it with him.

"I was guessing on the color, but it's easy to change." Tony watches Rhodey's fingers stroke the surface of the suit's jointed knees, test the flexibility of the hands. Rhodey's smile has a kind of wonder to it, and Tony can't help remembering all the ways he's tested Rhodey's patience over the years with being late or inconsiderate. None of it makes any sense now, and thank God Rhodey didn't give up on him the way he deserved.

"Gonna let me try it out?" Rhodey asks.

Tony moves in behind him, slipping his arm around Rhodey's waist. "Maybe," he teases. "Probably going to be pretty frustrating at first—don't ask me how I know that. So do you want to go straight to being hacked off for the next couple of hours, or work your way up to it with mind-blowing sex instead?"

Rhodey laughs. "Like that's even a real question."

"Why, because you're so hot for me that there's only one possible choice, or because you don't believe you'll have wall-to-wall bruises after your first trial runs?"

"What's wrong with both?" Rhodey says.

"Always the diplomat," Tony smiles against Rhodey's neck.

He's surprised when Rhodey turns in his arms and kisses him, the feeling of it long and thoughtful and contented. It's utterly alien and completely perfect, like a glimpse of some distant, unknown Eden.

Then Rhodey's kiss deepens, growing intense and needy. Tony's skin turns hot under Rhodey's hands, lighting up along his back, waist, ass, and neck like a trail to be viewed by infra-red.

They move to the floor—a bed in their future someday, but not right now when it's all so urgent—and Rhodey shoves Tony's shirt up and licks the tight contours of his abs until Tony's squirming inside the confinement of his own pants. Rhodey moves up higher, sucking on Tony's nipple, his neck, his lower lip, while Tony works both their pants open and slips his hands down Rhodey's ass. And what an ass—it's tight and muscular, and Tony will take it any way he can get it, though he doubts Rhodey's as flexible, at least this early on.

He palms over Rhodey's cock (God, the way Rhodey groans), and pushes it down to rub across his own puckered opening. "You wanna?" he says against Rhodey's lips.

Rhodey practically whimpers, which seems like a Yes. "You sure?"

Tony keeps rubbing. "Been ready for years, haven't changed my mind yet."

Rhodey kisses Tony again, his tongue curling inside Tony's mouth, licking and persuading. "So," Rhodey breaks off his assault, "got any lube down here or do we have to go upstairs?"

A cultured voice answers unexpectedly: "I took the liberty of having Miss Potts put supplies in the console desk, after the last time Colonel Rhodes—"

"AAAH!" Rhodey jerks away from Tony, covering himself with his pants.

Tony grinds his teeth. "Jarvis!" he hisses. "Go away!"

"Sir?"

"Cease all monitoring of this room until further notice!"

"As you wish, sir." If it's possible for an AI unit to sound put out, that's the tone of Jarvis' reply.

Tony thunks his head back against the floor. "So, that's never come up before," he comments.

"What, with all the women you have over here?" Rhodey says in disbelief.

"But no-one ever comes down to the lab with me except you and Pepper. This was a no-fun zone up until a few days ago." Tony flashes Rhodey a wicked smile. "Thank God that's changed."

"Uh-huh." Rhodey's tone is non-committal. "You sure he's gone?"

"Not only gone, but due for some reprogramming on the topic." Tony slides a hand over to Rhodey's stomach and strokes lazily, watching for signs of renewed interest.

"Hell then, we're wasting time." Rhodey rolls back toward him and sucks and bites Tony's neck, pressing up against him and rocking slowly over Tony's thigh. He runs his fingers up over Tony's cock, then down and up again, firm and easy like he knows exactly what will set Tony off.

Tony's just trying his damnedest not to come while Rhodey's still catching up.

He pulls on Rhodey's head, moving him higher until they're level again and Tony can kiss him back. It doesn't take long until they're right where they left off, not when Tony spent all those years wanting this with no hope of ever getting it. Driving Rhodey wild like this—over him, Tony can feel it in Rhodey's touch—is hotter than any playmate, call girl, or fantasy Tony's ever had.

Rhodey rolls and thrusts up against him, the edge of his hip and palm of his hand catching Tony so perfectly between them that Tony stiffens and gasps, his orgasm wrenched out of him much sooner than he'd planned.

He clasps Rhodey helplessly as the climax plays out, moving feverishly against the heat of Rhodey's skin. Then Rhodey moans suddenly and bites down on Tony's shoulder, and the sharp friction of Rhodey rutting against Tony's stomach turns to slick warmth in a single, breathless instant.

He holds Rhodey afterward, the heavy weight of him a solid reassurance. There'll be bruises later, maybe even a blister, all of them welcome. Tony will gather the evidence of the two of them together and use it to convince himself that this happened, that maybe a pattern can lead to a habit.

When Rhodey kisses his neck, Tony's heart stutters in response and he stops making formulas in his head to ward off failure.

His fingers are rubbing the back of Rhodey's head—lost in the tight springiness of that hair and the warmth of Rhodey's face against his own—when Rhodey's phone rings. Rhodey raises an eyebrow at Tony, and Tony nods (because the timing could always be worse), so Rhodey answers it.

"Colonel Rhodes," he says. "Yes… What? About half an hour away." He listens for a moment, then nods. "Yes sir," he finishes, and hangs up.

"What is it?" Tony asks, though he's already guessed.

"Base summons. Unscheduled inspection. God, I hate this crap." Rhodey looks both annoyed and apologetic.

Tony strokes his arm. "It's okay," he says, actually thinking that this is exactly why the military drives him nuts, even when it isn't about him. "Come back when you can," he adds.

Rhodey cleans up at the mini-bar sink and puts his clothes back on. He catches Tony's eye. "Never even made it into the suit," he says wistfully.

Fuck that stupid phone call. Tony wanted Rhodey to at least put the suit on and test out the basics. "I'm really sorry," he says. "It's not going anywhere, though. Neither am I," he adds reassuringly.

"In a manner of speaking," Rhodey says. He eyes the bullet-ridden breastplate leaning against the wall, the legacy of Tony's first unplanned mission—all because Tony couldn't just sit around doing nothing while injustice raged abroad. "Be careful—with my airspace and with yourself. Hell, just be careful."

Tony fastens his pants and rises up to stand next to Rhodey. "I will if you will," he says pointedly. He pulls Rhodey into a one-armed hug, then kisses him and squeezes the back of his neck. "I'll be up late, just so you know."

"I'll keep that in mind," Rhodey says, looking at his watch and then frowning. "Damn, why they gotta call when I'm clear across the canyon?"

"You'll make it," Tony assures him, guiding him swiftly toward the door leading to the stairs. "And Rhodey?"

"Yeah?" Rhodey turns.

"Take your time. I promise not to borrow your suit while you're gone."

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