His mother, after Howard had found the test results and insisted on English-language schooling, had read Tony Tolkien's entire oevre. Ostensibly, it was to practise his vocabulary and listening comprehension, but Tony knew the real reason was that his mother just loved Middle Earth. Her soft voice seemed to cradle the words, the two of them huddled in Tony's bed with all the lights off save for one lamp night after perfect night.
Tony loved hearing her read to him; especially loved the way the Elvish words tripped from her lips, the bright smile she'd bestow every time he receited along with her. He begged and begged her to reread the stories, grinning uncontrollably when she gave in every time.
She loved the books so much that Tony found himself desperate to do something for her as special as her nightly performance.
It was obvious, really. Tony stole her copy of the Silmarillion and pored over the pages, intent on the strange, musical words of Elvish.
The first time he greeted his mother in Sindarin, he startled a delighted laugh from her, and she swung him around the room in a double-time waltz.
'My baby,' she pressed a kiss to his cheek. 'So clever, my beautiful Tony.'
They spent their time translating Tony's books from English to Macedonian to Sindarin and back, laughing at the changes in the final product, and telling each other the epics of Middle Earth.
He's never told anyone that story until Clint had let slip that he'd never even read the Hobbit.
He just stares at Clint for a moment, then fetches his mother's copy from his bedside and starts to read.
He can almost hear her voice as he tells Clint about Bag End, and it makes something tighten in his chest. Clint's hand slipping down his back loosens the knot, and Tony spares a moment to think that his mother would have really liked Clint.
Tony joined the Lojban society at MIT mostly to win a bet with Rhodey.
He was a little impressed by the language's ability to deliver on its hype, but when he paused from admiring the society's library and took a good look around at his fellow Lojbanners...
He gave a terrifically insulting speech at the next meeting, detailing his reasons for disliking each and every member in perfect Lojban, and quit.
The problem with learning a perfectly logical language, he told Rhodey over their third beer that night, was that it meant you could only communicate with the sort of people who wanted to learn Lojban.
Ty Stone was a closet Trekkie. Tony had laughed himself sick when he found out; not at the love of a particular TV show, but at the ridiculous shady back alley secretive shame Ty exhibited over his love.
'Shut up, Tony,' he'd muttered, kicking his armoured costume back inside the closet it'd fallen out of. 'It's just for-'
'Can you speak it?' Tony darted over to the costume, picking it up and shaking it out, holding it up to see what Ty would look like with it on. 'Klingon, I mean.'
Ty's eyes narrowed, then a wicked smirk spread over his face.
'QongDaqwIjDak,' he growled, stepping forward to trip Tony onto his bed. 'Qajol 'e' vIneH.'
'Oh yeah,' Tony breathed, spreading his legs to make room for Ty. 'I'm learning that.'
They went to Comicon that year in genuine Star Trek VI Klingon costumes, because what was the point in being young and rich if you couldn't abuse your privilege?
They'd never been exclusive, so Tony had no qualms taking the Sony ladies up on their generous offer, grinning at Ty when they sauntered past him to the elevators.
Ty saluted him with some steaming blue concoction, and an hour later drove Tony's car into a tree. He'd never been the most stable, Tony reflected as the police sergent tried to get him to make a statement.
Making his statement in Klingon earned him a night in the same cell as Ty; so they amused themselves by trading insults and hand jobs.
The sergent was really unhappy the next morning.
Tony strode into the weekly poker game, still wearing his pyjamas and shouted something to the room.
Clint blinked up at him, a concerned frown edging its way onto his face. 'Again? Tell me you still understand me, because you can't just come in shouting in other languages anymore, Tony.'
'Of course I understand you,' Tony waved an impatient hand. 'I'm trying something with Thor's Allspeak.'
Clint, Natasha and Steve all turned to look at Thor, and Tony shouted again. Something much longer, and completely incomprehensible.
Thor cocked his head. 'Aye,' he nodded. 'We do sometimes engage in that practice.'
'God dammit!' Tony stomped. 'Motherfucking Allspeak... though that does say good things about Frommer's work.'
'Tony,' Clint leaned back, tipping his tinted visor further back. 'Did you learn Na'vi just to see whether the Allspeak worked on made-up languages?'
'Maybe,' Tony threw himself into the chair beside Clint, folding his arms petulantly. 'I may have also had a side-bet with Rhodey about it. Urgh, now I have to do an upgrade on War Machine.'
'You would have done it anyway, Tony,' Steve gathered the cards and started shuffling. 'You're not fooling anyone.'
'Wait,' Clint pulled back later that night. 'Don't you already know-'
'He understood Lojban, Klingon and Elvish,' Tony grunted, trying to pull Clint back down. 'I was just eliminating another possibility.'
Clint shook with laughter. 'You're so fucking ridiculous.'
'It's sloppy science to draw conclusions from small data sets,' Tony huffed. 'I was being thorough.'
'You were being a lunatic,' Clint grinned. 'But I like you that way.'
'Yeah?' Tony smirked. 'I like you where you were two minutes ago.'
Clint rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, yeah.'
And one bitty extra: MORSE CODE
Clint squinted up at Tony from where he lay with his head in Tony's lap. Tony had been drumming his fingers on an overturned tablet for the last twenty minutes. It was really loud, but the weirdest part had to be how red Cap was going.
'Would you stop?' Cap shouted, just as Wesley dived into the quicksand on the TV.
Tony grinned his least-convincing innocent grin. 'Am I bothering you?'
Clint was pretty sure he could hear Cap's teeth grinding, and when Tony tapped the tablet again he understood.
'What the hell have you been saying to him?' he tapped out LOVE on Tony's stomach with two fingers.
'Oh,' Tony bent to press a kiss to Clint's lips and murmured 'I may have been detailing what we did last night. He held up pretty well until that thing with the body paint.'
Clint laughed, absolutely losing it when Cap let out a frustrated howl and stuffed his fingers in his ears.
'You're such a bastard,' he grinned, and returned his attention to the screen.