It's all about misdirection, about flights in private jets, about business, about fucking. Rhodey could never stop Tony from doing anything, really, and sex is no different. Admittedly, Rhodey wants too - wants the smiles, the casual contact, the motor oil smudges on Tony's fingers, drink after drink after golden drink. But Rhodey also wants to keep his job, to wear his uniform. And just because the rules don't seem to apply to Tony doesn't mean they don't apply to Rhodey.
Tony keeps flirting with anything in a skirt, (not that Rhodey's ever been able to stop him from doing that, either) and Rhodey tells himself it's for the best. And he's careful, borderline paranoid, but that's for the best, too. ("Who pays attention to socks?" Tony asks, amused, when Rhodey can't find his, and Rhodey has to count to ten in his head. It only takes one person to notice; one question.)
He asks himself, frequently, if this is worth it. He doesn't ever ask himself what "this" is, what "it" is. Internalized homophobia, part of him suggests. Survival, another counters. It's easier to lie to everyone else if he lies to himself, too.
His phone rings a little after two in the morning. He answers without turning on the light.
"Guess where I am right now."
"Tony, do you know what time it is?"
Tony pauses, and Rhodey can hear the interference from the suit buzzing between them.
"Jarvis, what's the time difference between Baghdad and LA?"
"Allowing for daylight savings time, ten hours forward, sir."
Rhodey shuts his eyes. He isn't really up for a conversation with Tony and his weird AI at the moment. Or possibly ever.
"Tony, I'm hanging up in five seconds."
He snaps his phone shut and puts it down, turns over. His phone rings again.
"You never guessed where I am."
"Tony, it's two in the goddamn morning."
"Wrong. I am in fact, five thousand feet above the ground and about a thousand miles east of Baghdad, over the city of Herat. I can tell you were taken in by my subterfuge, though, wasn't he, Jarvis?"
"Quite so, sir."
Rhodey hangs up again.
His phone rings. Rhodey is proud that he almost doesn't answer. He gives in after the fourth ring.
"I changed my will."
"Yesterday, I called up my lawyer and changed my will."
Rhodey's not tired anymore, his chest constricts in a way it shouldn't, in a way it hasn't in a long time. He turns on his light and goes to his computer.
"What did Fury tell you to do?"
"Just save the free world. Look, I wanted to make sure -"
"Tony." Rhodey isn't going to let him say anything. He holds his cell phone with his shoulder and pulls up the SHIELD database. His security clearance should be high enough to find out where Tony's going.
He hears something that sounds like an explosion, static. Tony swears, quietly.
"Gotta go, Rhodey." The line goes dead.
He puts down his phone carefully and enters his user name and password to the SHIELD database. Anthony Stark, he types, without shaking. Tony's picture pops up, some information about him. Current mission: classified. Not for the first time, Rhodey thinks about killing Nick Fury.
He takes a shower (he leaves his cellphone on the counter, the ringer volume all the way up), gets dressed (phone in his pocket) and has some coffee. He waits.
Eventually, the sun comes up and he goes to work, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, impatient at the traffic. Work on days like this is hard, waiting and pretending that he's not. In some ways, it's worse than when Tony was kidnapped. Then, he was afraid, but so was everyone else, there was nothing to hide, nothing out of the ordinary. Now, it's different. I shouldn't be doing this, he thinks, pointlessly. I should stop. Stop worrying, stop checking his phone, stop fucking Tony, he doesn't know.
"I heard Stark's in Afghanistan. That true?" someone asks and Rhodey tenses up. Leading question, or just a casual one? He and Tony are supposed to be friends, are friends. How much should he know?
"I think so," he replies, aiming for the neutrality he's gotten so good at feigning.
It's late afternoon before he gets the call - he checks his caller id twice to be sure ("the Starkster" both times) and closes the door to his office.
"Hey, yourself." There's none of the interference he associates with the armor, Tony must be calling from his actual cell phone this time. Rhodey can almost picture him, hair matted with sweat, still half in his newly-battered armor. He walks to his desk and sits down, trying to clear his head, ignore the relief.
"I was thinking I should build you your own suit."
"Before or after you woke me up at two in the morning?"
"After. Actually, it was around the part where the bad guys kept firing missiles at me, and I was thinking they could use another target."
They're quiet for a while and Rhodey shuffles some papers on his desk. He can hear Tony drinking something on the other end of the line, the clink of ice crossing continents.
"What were you going to say about your will?" he asks, finally, quieter than he needs to with the door shut (not that anyone would know, anyway.)
"The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network gets about a hundred million dollars."
"Anonymous donation." Tony sighs, as though he wants to say something more. "Anyway, I'll be home tomorrow and I'll start on the suit."
No point in arguing with Tony when he wants something, Rhodey knows, so he thanks Tony and lets Tony hang up on him.