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#rhodey

“What’s he want now?”

“… Stark’s boy …”

“Heh … you hear the latest scandal?”

“Self-important ass …”

“Rumor has it he and Stark …”

Rhodey let the murmurs slide off his back. It was nothing he hadn’t heard since becoming the Air Force liaison for Stark Industries. It didn’t bother him — scratch that — it did bother him, but he wouldn’t let them see that. Unfortunately, Tones hadn’t gotten the memo.

“Apologize.” Tony Stark had removed his trademark sunglasses and was staring at the man seated three seats down on his left. Rhodey, who had just taken his seat to Tony’s right, leaned toward him.

“Tones, don’t.”

“I said, apologize. Now.”

A different sort of whispers filled the room and the occupants who had been all too happy gossiping just seconds earlier eyed each other nervously.

“Sorry, Mr. Stark. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The man Tony had singled out didn’t bother wiping the smirk off of his face as his eyes shifted between Tony and Rhodey.

“Your personal life, Stark. None of our business,” another man in the room spoke up.

Tony stood, still staring at his target.

“I don’t care what you say about me. But you do not bad mouth James Rhodes … ever.”

Rhodey tried again to settle Tony. “Tones …”

“I didn’t …” Tony slapped his palm on the table and leaned forward. “Apologize!”

The outburst quieted everyone. Tony Stark was not known to have a temper. Flirt with anything that breathed? Yes. Spend money like it was nothing? Sure. Be a reckless asshole who was too smart by half and relished rubbing his genius in other people’s face? Goes without saying. But he didn’t have a temper. Unless, it seems, you bad-mouthed James “Rhodey” Rhodes.

The guy three seats down was staring wide-eyed at Tony now, his smirk nowhere in sight. “I, I … I’m sorry, Mr. Stark.”

Tony straightened, his demeanor seeming to return to normal, but his voice was still hard when he spoke.

“Not to me. Apologize to Jim.”

The man turned his gaze to Rhodey, who was now the focus of everyone’s attention.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Rhodes.”

“Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes.”

“Sss, sorry, Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes.”

Tony smiled, sat down and put his shades back on.

—————

“Did you have to get so damn dramatic, Tones?” Rhodey asked later as they sat in the back of one of SI’s company cars.

Tony looked over at Rhodey.

“Dramatic about what, sugarplum?”

Rhodey shot Tony an exasperated look. Tony sighed and pulled off his sunglasses.

“Not you, OK? They can say what they want about me — everyone already does — but not you. They don’t get to attack you. You don’t deserve that.”

Rhodey reached over and grabbed Tony’s hand.

“I can take care of myself, Tones.”

Tony smiled as he raised their joined hands to his lips to kiss the back of Rhodey’s hand.

“I know, love,” he whispered before lowering their hands to the seat.

They rode in silence for a while after that, until Rhodey squeezed Tony’s hand where he still held it on the seat between them.

“For the record, you don’t ‘deserve’ to be bad-mouthed either.”

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Previous Chapter Eight: What Peter Carried


Chapter Nine: For the Greater Good Part One

-

Winter, 2017. Two weeks into escape. 

Peter was, in truth, hiding from his watchful roommates. Their care of him in his sickness left Peter feeling uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure how to act around them now and a rise of youthful insecurity made it impossible to set out from the blue room. He’d been so stupid, it amazed him. He was muscles still protested any movement from their trek outside and a lingering haze steamed through his mind. Even with the sickness and their over attentive care, the walk was worth it just to feel the wind on his face; to hear time going forward around him and with him.

His eyes kept returning to the lake, now a few weeks away from being fully iced over, outside the window as he paced his room. He watched the gap between the shore and ice. Dark water streamed up, washing onto the surfaces despite the dropping temperatures. It would be near impossible to see the vulnerable underbelly of the lake in the coming weeks. The ice would cover everything protecting and concealing the life underneath in a timeless vacuum until spring came again.

Someone knocked and Rhodey stuck his head into the room.

“Hey Peter. We’re going to watch some movies if you want to join. Tony’s making his… special waffles, too.” 


Rhodey made a face at the growl from Peter’s stomach. The man knew no matter how much he protested the sugar contents of Tony’s breakfast, he would be forced, and secretly enjoyed, seconds. Peter, however, had no trouble with the excessive ingredients and ate as much as he could. Sometimes he and Tony raced to see who could eat quicker. 


Peter always won.

But the breakfast food would involve conversations and questions he didn’t feel like answering today.

“I dunno, Rhodey. I might stay in here.”

Rhodey being the more pragmatic of the two would normally give Peter his space for a while. He would leave with a disappointed smile and open invitation, and Peter found himself out of the room before an hour passed because of it. Today he changed his normal reaction. Rhodey came into the room and sat on the end of the bed gesturing for Peter to follow his lead. Rhodey folded his hands in his lap lacing his fingers together before they sat quietly. Both sets of eyes watching as the wind blew across the lake taking the snow along for a ride.

“I almost drowned once.” He said. Peter’s head snapped over and he gave a small chuckle under his breath while nodding out the window. “Right in that lake actually. I was young and stupid, going out when it was too warm and Tony, of course, would do anything a responsible adult would disapprove of so he was in. We had this friend who told us not to but we didn’t listen.”

“What happened?”

“Even though we didn’t listen to him, he still came with us.” He sighed and turned away from the lake to stare at Peter. “He saved me in the face of his fear. Tony calls me dramatic but he probably saved my life.” 



A shiver went down Peter’s spine and he avoided the man’s eyes to look back outside. He thought of all the times he went skating with May and Ben as a child. How fascinated he’d was of the ice. The tiny bubbles forming underneath the arctic structure, plastering to the horizontal wall and trying to escape up into the world only to disappear once the bubbles got passed the ice keeping them trapped. He remembered watching the sand settled on the bottom or be whipped into cloud of chaos with the slightest provocation. May had scolded him for pressing his face against the ice instead of skating around with them but in the end her and Ben had come over and joined him in his observations.

He wondered how old Rhodey was when this happened. Was it a childhood memory faded through time? Was he afraid of water now or the cold? Did he dream of the event? HE wanted to ask but instead he thought of the solitary figure in the story.

“What happened,” He said. “To your friend? What happened to him?”

Rhodey patted the bed covers and stood up. He walked across the room and only when his hand rested on the door handle did he answer without looking back at him or the blue room.

“He’s gone. You should come out. Tony’s been bugging me to show you some of the old horror classics.”



Peter chuckled but when he looked back Rhodey was gone. He lay back on the blue bedspread, rubbing his fingers against the fabric. He thought of the story and wondered if it was one of those lesson stories to get him to overcome a fear. Would he be the type of person to go out onto the ice if he was afraid?

He didn’t know.

Maybe for May he would, but for someone else. For someone he didn’t know as well, it was hard to tell. Peter mashed his palms to his cheeks and stared blankly out the window. What a selfish thought, but he’d done the saving strangers thing, the superhero gig for a time and what did he have to show for it? A broken life. That wasn’t even truthful. His life had stopped the moment May was gone. From there on he’d been living on someone else’s time; on borrowed time, waiting until they decided it was enough. Waiting to decide when his time was up. It was how he lived for so long he almost forgot what it was like before. The selflessness required to grow with people and some part of him hoped he hadn’t lost that.

Tony barged into the room without knocking. Peter shook his head to clear his morose thoughts away and stared at the handful of DVDs stacked under a bowl of popcorn in Tony’s hands. He could smell the warm butter and salt.

“I know it’s winter and we should get into the Christmas spirit but I say fuck the Christmas spirit. We’re about to get spooky and I won’t take no for an answer.” 



Peter found himself on the chair beside Rhodey and Tony, engrossed in the Horror of Dracula. He cringed back in fear and laughed at the dated graphics all the while wondering if he was doing it right. If this was what having friends felt like. If when they came for him he would fight to stay or go back to the way things were?

-

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Thanks for the ask! Here are my fav characters.

  1. Tony Stark.
  2. James Rhodes
  3. Peter Parker
  4. Black Widow
  5. Groot


… So my dumb ass just finished answering your other ask where I had to find my fav family moments in shadowhunters, and then saw this and went, “time to find top 5 fav moments in marvel!” instead of top 5 fav characters, so here you go: 😅

image
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SamRhodey: “do you know how suffocating this is?” (hurt/comfort)

Clickclick.

The crack of Sam’s neck as he whips his head towards the sound.

The growing whistle against the patter of rain.

The mechanic hum of his wings pulling him backwards, his ragged breaths–

Riley.

The collision of metal against skin.

Riley’s gasp. 

Riley’s body– 

The tail of smoke left in its path. 

The boom of the explosion. 

The horrible squelch of flesh.

Sam’s scream. 

Riley’s lone hand.

Falling.

Reaching. 

Sam throws himself out of bed before he’s even aware of his conscience, his muscle memory working like clockwork as his feet catch his fall, as his hands grab for the blue roll of plastic bags in his nightstand, as his sweaty fingers scramble to tear one out, to pull it open, as his body curls over.

It leaves him in ugly waves, the sound as horrible as always, the acid burning his throat, each wrack inspiring new ones, horrible and yellow, the smell of death and dying. 

He can barely breathe with each inhale, the sensation so familiar but the pain always shocking – the clenching around his lungs, the quiver of his stomach, the throbbing of his head, the shaking of his hands, the memory behind his eyelids.

He stays there, hunched over and shaking and weak and pitiful. 

He doesn’t know for how long this time, hasn’t known for a long time. Stopped counting years ago when he realized it wouldn’t stop. Just knows that it was long enough for his knees to hurt, the skin there scratched white under the pressure. 

So – long. Longer than the usual. 

Didn’t matter anyway.

He stumbles out of his room, bare feet slapping against cold tiles. 

He doesn’t know how, but his fingers find the right buttons and he’s mumbling something to JARVIS, doesn’t know what but it’s enough to get the elevator moving.

And he hates the feeling, hates the way it feels like he’s falling, feels his stomach squeezing again, hears the clickclick and the whistle again, so he bites his tongue and grips the handrails. Grips them tight like he wished he gripped Riley, grips them tight like his life depended on it. 

And maybe it did. 

The ping of the elevator startles him, too soon and too similar to the whistle, too similar to the screeching silence that followed. 

And it’s awful, but at least he’s conscious this time. Conscious enough to propel himself out of that hellbox and into the main lounge. 

It’s only after he’s poured himself a cold, cold glass of water, only after he’s gulped it all down – the water, the memories, he doesn’t know which, but it’s only after, that he reaches for the alcohol.

And he knows he shouldn’t. Knows how it’s a shot in the dark, the perfect antidote or the devil in disguise. 

Knows

“Sam?”

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16. A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day “Shoot The Hostage”

The Avengers split into teams for a paintball competition.

AO3 Link

When Steve proposed the idea of a paintball competition, Tony thought he was joking, but it turned out that he was being serious. Apparently, he hoped the activity would boost group morale and would help build trust between one another.

The rules were simple; no powers, and no gadgets.

All Tony had learned since they started, was that all of them had a hidden thirst for competitiveness and wanted to win. Definitely not the result that Steve was looking for.

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i-am-irondad
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Natasha’s Return

The glove fell off Banner’s hand as everyone ran to him. Tony healing his arm, Steve asking if he was okay.

“Guys I think it worked,” Scott says as he looks out the window, mesmerized by how brighter and lively it looked outside. Clint on the other hand felt happy, overwhelmed by his wife’s call.

The next they knew, they heard running from the hallway. They all stand on guard, not knowing what to expect.

Natasha shocked and confused appears - as was everyone.

“I- I thought it couldn’t be reversed,” Thor mumbles.

Steve and Tony slowly walks up to her. “Nat?” Steve asked.

“Did we do it?” She a confused expression plastered on her face.

“I thought it couldn’t be undone,” Clint grabs and her hold in her a tight hug before stepping back in relief.

Tony chuckles giving her a quick hug and a pat on the back, “she’s back!”

Bruce’s eyes open slightly as he sees Thanos’ ship float above them, “So is Thanos.” He says in pain.

Rhodey sighs and says in an exhasperated tone, “I thought we were done with him.”

“Here we go again,” Rocket says in annoyance.

They all look up the window, but Steve stays there looking at Nat. “Glad to have you back.”

“I was always going to come back,” She smirks, “It just took me longer than a minute.”

“Cap.” Tony calls him, “what now?”

He looks at Nat, his right-hand for the past years then at the others, his team since he came out of the iceberg, “Assemble.”

- Okay, so I know this isn’t how everything played out, but while I was watching Endgame last night I had a thought. This is one of those what-ifs. Obviously in the end they kill Thanos, Scott is able to start up his ‘ugly brown van’ and bring the rest of Thanos’ army to the quantam realm lost forever.

Also I wanted to make this because I’ve been waiting to see Black Widow, but Miss Rona is disagreeing with us.


Enjoyyyyy.

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Wow, ok, sorry, this’ll be very hard to attach a happy ending to haha. 

“This used to be our song…” “don’t”

~~~

Life became routine for him. Wake up, think about Rhodey. Go to work, think about Rhodey. Return home, think about Rhodey. Try to find a hobby, think about Rhodey. Pour himself a drink, think about Rhodey. Do anything, think about Rhodey. Some days were better. Sometimes he was too busy with work to only think about Rhodey briefly. Sometimes he was too enamored with a new pastime that he only remembered Rhodey when he stopped. But most days were just plain awful. And this day? Was the worst of them all. 

He didn’t have to go to work today. The whole day was meant for what he has been doing anyway: think about Rhodey. 

And Tony hated it. He hated not doing anything, just being miserable and useless all day, trying to fall asleep, willing himself to be in Rhodey’s arms. He refused to be pathetic. The music… it made it better sometimes. Reminded him of better times. He could close his eyes and pretend to be on their tenth anniversary.

“This used to be our song.” 

Tony opened his eyes slowly, knowing exactly who will be there. 

“Don’t,” Tony whispered to Rhodey’s beautiful, glowing face. 

Rhodey grinned wider, ignoring him, “c’mon, Tones, we both know why you were listening to this. We both know what day it is.” 

“Yes but… don’t.” 

Rhodey’s smile turned sadder, but when offered Tony his hand, Tony couldn’t help but feel happy. “It can be our song again, for tonight,” Rhodey told him, “dance with me, baby.” 

And Tony took his hand, because how could he not. 

Rhodey smiled as he let Tony lead. He would usually argue with him a little, but this was a special occasion. Tony could lead if he wanted to lead. “You look older,” Rhodey noted, running his hand through Tony’s temples where his hair had turned grey, “it suits you.” 

“Strange, how the passage of time can do that.” 

Rhodey chuckled, although Tony’s joke wasn’t funny. “Are you seeing anyone?” Rhodey asked. 

Tony scoffed, “you ask me that every year. You know the answer.” 

Rhodey sighed, “are you at least happy?” 

Tony didn’t respond to that. 

“Tones…” 

“What?” Tony asked, “you’d want me to move on? To be happy? I’ve heard it all, Rhodey, but it’s easier said than done.” 

“Baby, it’s been five years.” 

“So what?” Tony snapped, “it’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is. It only gets harder, every day I’m not with you makes it harder. So what if it’s been five years? Oh, the love of my life is dead, but good news everyone, I’m back on the market? It doesn’t get less stupid the longer has passed.” 

Rhodey caressed his cheek softly, “Tony, life can’t stop because I’m gone.” 

“But it did,” Tony said, “things changed too much because of this, no matter how much you want me to still be happy. And you don’t get to tell me how to live my life, okay? You are the one that left me. You made this situation.”

Ghost Rhodey blinked in surprise, “that’s not fair.” 

Tony laughed, “don’t tell me about fair. I was goddamn happy for the first time in my life. I was happy with you. And then you just… you just…” 

When Tony blinked his eyes clear enough from the tears, of anger, of frustration, he was screaming at a wall. The song was over and ghost Rhodey was gone. If he ever really existed. 

Tony sank to his knees, and could only let out tears of grief, of sadness, of heartbreak. 

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Look. Rhodey hadn’t meant to build another robot. But Tony was at some business conference for the weekend, and Dum-E was just pitifully sad. If Tony had been there, he would’ve convinced Rhodey that Dum-E is a drama queen and acts like the end of the world is happening at any minor inconvenience. 

But why not give Dum-E a little sibling? This is how U comes to be, and he’s quite the gentleman, far more gentle than his big brother. 

Rhodey enjoys teaching him how to pick up socks and shoes, and how to put the coffee mugs on the counter gently, something that Dum-E is not good at yet, but they’re trying their best. (He has a stuffed coffee mug that they got from the pet store that he’s flung at every single surface so far.) 

-

Tony comes back from his business conference (which ugh) looking for cuddles, dinner, and maybe a movie date night if they can get Dum-E to stop trying to escape the apartment. 

What he isn’t expecting is for his boyfriend to be mediating a fight between two robots

Two

He stares at his boyfriend for a moment. 

“Rhodey, darling, is Dum-E having a…play-date?” 

Rhodey freezes. 

“Oh!” He says, grinning. “I, um…made him a sibling?” 

“And they’re…fighting?” 

“Well, for now. Dum-E’s mad because he didn’t get to put actual coffee mugs on the counter, and U is mad because Dum-E stole the couch blanket. I think U is really into decoration!” 

“Yeah, that explains everything,” Tony says faintly, sitting. “So…U? Like, the letter?” 

“Yeah, you like it?” 

“And you thought that it made a good name for what?” 

“Well, it was more of a placeholder, honestly. But then he liked it!” 

U looks over at Tony curiously. 

“U, this is Tony. Your other dad. We used part of his code to make you!” 

The arm bumps softly against Tony’s, which is an improvement from Dum-E, who tends to go full-force. (Although they’ve worked on it.) 

“So…” Tony says. “You think with U, we won’t need to look for a babysitter for date night?”

“No, we will. We definitely will. Dum-E hasn’t adjusted to a sibling yet.” 

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jen27nyAnswer

It’s Rhodey who mentions it to him. He and Tony are sitting on the patio at the compound, enjoying the nice summer night while drinking some yellow smoothies (when Tony announced he will go completely sober, Rhodey immediately stopped consuming any alcohol when Tony is around, and Tony is so much more grateful for his support than he could ever put into words). “What kind of advice did you give Peter?”

“That he should avoid the sharp end of the knife.”

“No, the other one.”

“That not all criminals appreciate funny puns.”

“No.”

“That he should always check the smoothies DUM-E makes him, no matter if the last five have been motor oil-free.”

“Not that one.”

“That he should take a look over his shoulder when he’s changing lanes because of the blind spot.”

“No.”

“That nightmares are absolutely nothing to be ashamed about and that he can always call me if it’s too much.”

Rhodey rolls his eyes. “C’mon, you know what I’m talking about.”

“No, I honestly don’t, platypus,” Tony says. He could continue the list of what kind of advice he gave Peter, of course, but he has a feeling that those wouldn’t be the right ones either.

“I’m talking about MJ.”

“What about her?”

His friend’s mouth is already open, but he stops, blinking at Tony twice. “You didn’t notice?”

“Didn’t notice what?”

Instead of answering – at this point, Tony is half-convinced that Rhodey is only doing this to annoy him – Rhodey looks into the distance, shrugging once. “Well, I guess that makes sense. You were already at MIT at his age.”

“Not that I don’t love having long conversations with you, honey bear, but can you please enlighten me? What’s with Peter and MJ?”

“Peter has a crush on her.”

“What?” Tony all but yells, grateful that he didn’t had any smoothie in his mouth or he would’ve choked on it. “No! Why would you say that?”

“Did you seriously not notice anything about Peter whenever he’s around MJ?”

Instead of starting to yell again, Tony actually pauses and thinks about it for a second. For the last couple of months, Tony had bonded with both Ned and MJ – not entirely by choice. It started when Tony spontaneously decided to pick up Peter from school and invite him to an early dinner. However, the kid already made plans with MJ and Ned, so (even though Tony wasn’t too happy about it back then) he invited them along, too. More incidents like that happened. Eventually, Tony let them use his in-home movie theatre to watch their movies and quizzed them for an upcoming test.

Before he was fully aware it was happening, he more or less adopted those two teenagers as well. Not like he adopted Peter (not legally, of course, it’s more of an unspoken thing – and everyone who matters is aware of it), but more like these are my kid’s best friends and they’re good kids so I will clearly catch a bullet for them and buy them as much food as they want.

Even though Peter can invent better things than most of Tony’s colleagues, Ned is better at programming than him (Tony is absolutely not surprised when he found out that it had been Ned who hacked the Spider-Man suit). Tony tries his best to come up with challenges for him and introduces him to a few of his employees in the programming department. He also lends Ned one of his cars when his dad’s car breaks down just days before his driving test.

It was a bit more difficult to bond with MJ, but as soon as they found something in common they could talk about (their awe for Pepper Potts, and Tony is unbelievably happy that he found someone who can gush just as much as he about his soon-to-be wife), their relationship really took off. He helps her find good questions for their AcaDeca practice, introduces her to Pepper, and pulls an all-nighter researching good schools when she said she can’t decide.

They also have a group chat where they complain about Peter being a reckless (and on a darker note: where Tony keeps them updated when something happens to their favorite spider boy).

Tony invited all three of them to spend some time at the compound during their summer break, knowing that no teenager would ever say no to a pool like theirs and the gaming room. But now that Rhodey mentioned Peter being weird around MJ, Tony thinks back – and comes to the conclusion that his friend is right. Peter did start to ramble a bit more whenever MJ surprised him with a question, suddenly becoming unfocused to the point he would let things fall despite his stickiness and his spider sense.

He thought Peter might be overworked or something, but all of these things have one thing in common: MJ.

“Oh, shit,” Tony breathes, the realization falling from his eyes like scales. “Peter likes MJ.”

Rhodey snorts. “Aren’t you supposed to be a genius? Or close to Peter?”

“I have to give him some advice,” he says, completely ignoring the comment, his brain jumping to the I have to help Peter however I can default setting.

“Tones, I really don’t know if you’re the best one to give him some advice.”

“Nonsense! Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re Tony Stark. Your dating experience is very different from anyone’s else. On top of that, you skipped the entire embarrassing and awkward dating in High School phase. Maybe you should just… wait until he asks you something.”

Tony, of course, doesn’t listen to Rhodey.

So, the next day after making sure that both Ned and MJ are still asleep, Tony knocks against Peter’s door, stepping inside once he gets the boy’s permission. “Morning, Mr. Stark!” Peter greets him, way too cheerful for a teenager at this hour of the morning.

Tony smiles. “Morning. Slept well?”

“Of course. It’s literally impossible to sleep uncomfortable on this mattress,” Peter jokes, patting the bed he’s still sitting on.

Tony decides to rip off the band-aid. “So, you like MJ.”

Peter’s face loses it’s color so fast, it’s a bit concerning. “Wh-Wh-What?! N-No! Absolutely not! That’s- How did you come up with something so ridiculous?”

“Please, I’ve known for weeks.” (That’s a lie, obviously, but Peter doesn’t need to know.) Peter looks like he wants to say something, but Tony shakes his head. “It’s fine, Peter. Don’t panic. I’m not here to make fun of you.”

“It kinda feels like you are.”

“Rude.” Because the kid is still very much looking like a deer caught in headlights, Tony sits down next to him. “Hey. MJ is great, and I actually think you would make a cute couple.”

“We’re not a couple.”

“I know, you actually have to ask her out for that. But don’t worry, I’m here to give you some tips.”

“Oh god,” Peter mumbles, hiding his bright red face in his hands. “Please don’t.”

“So, the most important thing is to be honest and to always be yourself. And then-”

“Can we please not do this? Like… I would rather get stabbed.”

“I’m starting to think you don’t want to hear my advice.”

“No offense, but I heard a lot of stories from Miss Potts and Colonel Rhodes. I don’t think any of them will work with MJ. Or on, like, anyone.”

Tony grimaces. “Wow. Looks like everyone decides to stab me in the back. But one thing I have a lot of experience with is, well… how do I say that… to be intimate.”

“Nope!” Peter shouts, jumping off his bed, shaking his head, and getting at least three feet away from Tony. “Absolutely not. We’re not having this conversation. At all!”

“C’mon, this is important. And you have to know-”

“I already know! We talked about it at school and I already had one very embarrassing conversation with May and there’s the internet! I don’t need to talk with you about it, too!”

“Peter-” Peter shakes his head before jumping forward, grabbing Tony’s arm and pulling him up. Then, to the man’s surprise (and probably a true testimony of how much Peter doesn’t want to talk about it), the kid picks him up, arms wrapped around his middle, and carries him to the door like Tony weights nothing at all. “I just want you to know that if you should ever have any questions-”

“I’ll google them!” Peter answers, setting Tony down and slamming the door in his face. Finally, Tony doesn’t have to hide his smile anymore.

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Ooooh boy, you just went for the most angsty one, huh? Alright, here I go.

“you know those words mean nothing coming from you, right?”

~~~

 Tony and Rhodey have a long, complicated history. The long version involves decades of being roommates and turning into best friends, and then lovers, and then… nothing. It’s too complicated that even if you were to tell the long story, it could still not be completely understood. The short version? It can be summarized down to this: Tony breaks Rhodey’s heart. 

Rhodey couldn’t really tell you when he had stopped feeling confused and started feeling angry, but it’s around the time the only rationalizing behind Tony breaking up with him becomes “he was lying to me the entire time”. Because it must be that, right? You don’t just go from being Rhodey’s sweet and faithful boyfriend one day to some party boy who sleeps around and gets blackout drunk the next day. No, Tony was always like this, he just got sick of hiding it one day. 

They avoid each other the first few years after the breakup. Or well, Rhodey avoids Tony. Sure, he sees him on the news and the papers and his colleagues talk about him all the time, enough that Rhodey wants to scream, wants to tell everyone to shut up, wants to have just one little thing not be about Tony because it hurts too much, but at least he doesn’t talk to him and that’s… the least that can happen. It takes a while before Rhodey can start to forgive Tony, accept that this is who he is now, and just want his best friend and soulmate back. The acceptance is sometimes forced on him by circumstances and work. Still, in the end, sometimes it’s the best thing to have Tony back. 

Rhodey can’t tell sometimes if Tony is glad to have him back too. He doesn’t show it often. But Rhodey doesn’t mention it because he can’t demand anything from Tony. Tony made that clear when they broke up. 

But sometimes… when Tony is sober, a little high on someone liking his invention, and Rhodey’s nearby and helped that happen, Tony will wrap his hands around Rhodey’s neck (he can’t help it if he leans into it a little) and tells him “you’re too good to me, honeybear” or “I love you so much for this, Platypus” or “I’m so thankful for you, even when you’re a sourpatch”. It’s always a compliment Tony otherwise hasn’t shown and a petname that makes Rhodey remember what Tony used to taste like. 

Some days Rhodey beams at the compliment, allowing himself the validation and the touch and the intimacy of the pet name. Sometimes he’s so mad he wants to push Tony off him and just say, 

“You know those words mean nothing to me coming from you.” 

Tony blinks back at him with surprise, stunned by Rhodey’s never seen before reaction. “Rhodey, what?”

“Stop, don’t call me a fucking nickname,” Rhodey pleads, “just don’t okay? You treated me like crap after we broke up, Tony. You acted as if I meant nothing to you. Overnight, you started acting like a whole different person, and you say this is who you are, and I can’t stop thinking about how you lied about yourself the whole time we were together. You can’t say anything to make that go away. Nothing you say means anything to me anymore.” 

Tony almost looks sad as he thinks and settles on a weak, “okay.” 

Rhodey doesn’t wait around for him to say more empty words. 

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