Fine spring day or not, the wind was still biting cold as Jim Rhodes made his way through the crowded sidewalk. The sheer press of people kept the worst of it off, except when he had to dodge. Elbows and knees worked for the most stubborn of blockages, but he still found himself having to slip off to the side, and right back into the wind. The CDs and DVDs in his bags clattered as he was forced to hop in order to keep from knocking a lady into the street.
In his jacket pocket, his cellphone let out its usual sound that announced a text. Juggling his bags to his elbows, he fumbled out his cellphone and flipped it open.
Message from: Tony Stark (512-9627)
Cap asked 2 DP. Next week. Best bud b w/me? Y/N?
Jim stared down at his phone, his horror evenly divided between the message and the text-speak. People pushed around him now, shoving him forward and, again, back into the wind. He struggled his way back to the other side, wedging himself against a building so he had some stability in the crowd.
No way Steve had asked Tony for a threesome. No way. Tony, sure, he wouldn't be surprised at anything from that angle, but Captain America? The man still blushed at sex scenes on TV.
He started walking again, much more slowly so he could type with one thumb. Around him, people groused and dodged, but didn't try to push him out of the way anymore.
I thought Steve was more old fashioned that that. And use your words, damn it. The phone has a full keyboard.
A minute later, his phone dinged again.
Caps more modrn than u think. & no.
Someone slammed into his back. Jim staggered forward, fumbling to grab his phone. His bags threw him even farther off balance, making it a dance between gravity and pure luck.
Just as he got a firm grip on things, another message popped up.
Well? Y/N? :(
He was three taps away from replying N! when he caught himself. Something was up. It was almost April first, wasn't it? It wasn't like Tony to make this sort of prank, but Tony left his phone all over the place. Jim wouldn't put anything past that Spider guy.
After a minute of thought, he tapped out:
I'll think about it. Where are you? We need to talk in person.
Jim glanced down at the time, then up at the shadow of Stark Tower. It was only a couple of blocks. He could make it, and still have plenty of time to get his groceries back home. All he had to do was explain to Tony that he wasn't interested, or wallop whoever had Tony's phone upside the head.
Piece of cake, right?
Tony was, indeed, in the gym, working on the leg press. Inside, it was even chillier than being out in the wind. Someone had jacked the air conditioner up, and from the sound of it Tony had added a few upgrades. Beside him, handy but out of the way, was a cheap blue waterbottle, his briefcase, and his cellphone.
That answered that question.
As soon as he saw him, Tony set down the weights and sat up, mopping his face. He'd been working out long enough that he was flushed. Sweat made his dark blue tank cling to him like the underarmor. "Hey, buddy. Still thinking about it?"
"Sort of." Jim looked around, trying to find someplace to sit. He ended up throwing his leg over a weight bench. Everything was top of the line, bright polished metal and real leather padding. The Avengers were too hard on equipment to make it cheap. "I really wasn't expecting to get asked that question from you."
"You knew Steve and I were getting serious," Tony shrugged, bending down to grab his water bottle. A white star and wings were printed on the side. The entire bottom half was red and white stripes. "We're just... taking it up a notch."
"Up a notch to kiddy bottles?"
"He's got Iron Man boxers." Tony shrugged and lifting the bottle in a toast before tipping his head back for a swig. His throat worked, a trickle of sweat running down his skin to vanish under his shirt. When Tony twisted, the edge of the arc reactor was visible as a hard outline. If Jim hadn't known to look for it, it would have been invisible.
For the first time, Jim, actually considered what Tony was suggesting. Objectively, Steve and Tony were both attractive men. He didn't have to be gay to get that. But when he tried to picture anything, his mind went blank. It just wasn't there, and he'd be a fool to try and pretend it was.
Tony stared at him over his water bottle, eyebrows raised. "That's one hell of a notch," Jim finally said weakly, looking away. "Look, Tony... I'm flattered, I really am, but..."
"...But the answer is no," Tony finished slowly. He rolled the water bottle between his fingers, not meeting Jim's eyes. "I've gotta say, I didn't expect you to say that."
"No, it's okay. It's cool." Tony straightened his back and smiled in that glossy way that said he was being a complete bullshit artist. "It's your choice and all, right? I'll ask Pepper. Steve'll just have to adjust to the twenty first century."
"Pepper." How would that work? Would she have something that strapped on, or would they...
Jim's mouth went dry as his brain took that to its logical conclusion. That was a picture that worked for him, and he quickly shifted his thoughts to bunnies and puppies. "You're going to ask Pepper Potts. For... this."
"Well, yeah." Tony looked at him strangely. "Not you, too."
"Not me what?" Ducklings and birdies and lambs...
"I thought Steve was the only one stuck in the forties."
This conversation was getting weirder and weirder. Keeping his mind firmly on adorable baby animals instead of hot, sweaty skin, Jim asked, "He doesn't want Pepper?" Maybe Cap was gay. But he'd seemed to really love Sharon...
"He can get a little weird about certain things," Tony explained, somewhere behind the ringing in Jim's ears. "Pepper's already taken over the cake and venue. It's just one more thing he'll have to get used to."
"Venue?" Jim's voice sounded weak in his own ears.
"You didn't think we'd sneak off for a private affair, did you?"
Absolutely everything was wrong with this picture. Everything. He could, sort of, see Steve agreeing to a threesome. Hell, Jim had taken a few adventurous turns around the block himself, he was the last one to judge. And even if half the rumors about Tony were lies, he'd heard enough from the source himself to know that Tony wasn't exactly a shrinking violet.
But the day that either of them arranged a venue for a sex act was the day Jim ran off to a love nest with War Machine.
Jim tilted his head back to stare at the ceiling. "Tony? I've got something to ask, and I'm starting to think I should have done it a lot sooner."
The confusion in Tony's voice was palpable. "Sure, shoot."
"Just what the hell are you talking about?"
For a minute, Tony didn't say anything, and Jim kept his eyes turned up so he didn't have to look at him. The air conditioner in the gym hummed, louder for being in a big, hollow room. Images of Pepper tried to make their way to the forefront of his mind, and were resolutely shoved back by memories of the puppy he'd had as a kid.
Slowly, Tony said, "Steve wants to get married—domestically partnered, or whatever it's called. What did you think I was talking about?"
"Nothing!" Jim felt his cheeks heat. "And you wanted me to..." How had Tony put the question? "... to be your... best man?" He looked down to see Tony nod carefully.
"That's right, James. You get a gold star and first choice of crayons." Resting his elbows on his knees, Tony leaned forward. "So, since we're on the same page now, are you interested?" When Jim was too busy choking on another unintended innuendo, Tony pouted. "Come on, you're only going to get one chance to throw toast at me without making headlines."
"You're marrying Captain America," Jim reminded him. "You're going to push the royal wedding off the tabloid front pages for a week or so."
"Yeah, but most of it'll be how I'm ruining the heartland of America by perverting a national icon. You'll be third paragraph, at best." Tony's pout stayed in place. "Well, Rhodey? Y-slash-N?"
And that raised another issue. Jim glared. "Only if you swear to stop using chatspeak when you text me."
"Never mind why."
Solemnly, Tony crossed his arc reactor.
"Good. It's a deal." And a relief. He wasn't living in a world gone mad. For once. He'd have to clear his whole schedule. With the press going nuts, Jim didn't want to think about how hard it would be to get anything done. Maybe he should lay in rations, too. "Have Pepper email me the details. You said next week?"
"Great. I'll catch you later then, I've got some things to get done." Standing, Rhodey turned to go, then paused and twisted back. "Oh, and Tony? Congratulations, man. About time someone made you settle down."
"Yeah, yeah, your turn next." Tony picked up his sports towel and snapped it. "Don't think you're getting out of telling me what you though I meant before."
Jim grinned and dodged the second snap. Before Tony could take a third shot, he grabbed the towel and yanked it free. "Sure. When hell freezes over."
Tony scrambled after the towel while Jim twisted to keep it out of his reach. "You know that's what they said about me ever getting married, right?"
"...damn it." Jim ducked under one of Tony's arms, then came up and grabbed him by the shoulders. "Tony, I want you to listen to me carefully. You know what the letters DP stand for right? Other than domestic partnership?"
Deep lines appeared on Tony's forehead as he frowned. "Davis-Putnam algorithm?"
"No," Jim hissed, shaking him once. "Double penetration, that's what."
At first, Tony didn't respond. Then the blood slowly drained out of his face. "Oh God."
"Exactly!" Jim let go and shoved the towel at him. "Be more careful when you text, man."
The towel dropped from Tony's hands to the polished hardwood. "No— No, you don't understand—" He rubbed his face, but he'd gone so pale that it barely brought any blood back to his cheeks. "I text messaged an invite to Wiccan and Hulkling just before you got here."
Back by the leg press, Tony's phone let out a cheerful chime.