In 2012, aliens invade New York.
Rhodey has a hard time believing it. When he gets back to New York he's having a harder time believing it still, because Tony's sitting with some scary-looking people and fucking Captain America, eating shawarma.
"Rhodes!" Tony greets him, chipper as ever. "Pull up a chair."
Rhodey's having difficulty finding his voice. He doesn't pull up a chair.
After that, Tony gets a little--scary.
When Rhodey visits him in Malibu later, he finds Tony in his workshop, endlessly and relentlessly working. He barely glances at Rhodey, eyes fixed on his screens and holograms, as he explains, "I need to be prepared for a wide range of situations." The more aliens, more supernatural bullshit, more magic is heavily implied.
Then Tony says, "JARVIS, open Project Wine Cellar."
And suits rise from the floor. Many suits. Rhodey's jaw drops, he can't help it.
"For what's coming," Tony says, and the words are flippant but his voice is serious and gravelly from too little sleep, mania bleeding in at the edge. "For what's coming, we're gonna need a legion."
Rhodey's mind feels sluggish. He stares, wide-eyed and worried at the suits. They're not all red anymore; there's various shades of gunmetal gray, one black and gold, one with blue edges. But they're all complete, big and looming on their pedestals. Rhodey's always loved Tony's suits--always. Loved them as much as he loves War Machine. He's always been amazed by their tech; sleek and elegant and solid and deadly and terrifyingly intelligent, like their creator. But now, seeing so many of them, they just seem ominous and threatening.
"Does--does Pepper know about this?" he eventually gets out.
Tony's still not looking directly at him, dark circles under his eyes as he grins, a little chastised. "There's a distinct possibility I may have--failed to mention the, uh--the exact number of my latest and greatest."
Rhodey swallows, afraid to ask, but he has to. "How many are there?"
Tony shrugs a little, corners of his mouth turning down briefly, as if he has to think about it--as if he doesn't know each and every suit, down to its very smallest screw and ball joint.
"Seventeen," he says, dismissively, like it's no big deal.
"Seventeen," Rhodey breathes.
Tony goes back to his holograms. He's still tinkering. He's still creating.
Seventeen, Rhodey thinks, his mind a void. That's more than a legion. Seventeen is a threat.
"There's more coming," Tony says, and it sounds like he's trying to be reassuring. He's being anything but. "I'm testing out this thing with the next mark, maybe adding some construction tools, you never know when a city might need rebuilding, am I right? I'll be prepared--whatever's coming next, I'll be prepared."
"Nothing's--" Rhodey starts saying, but he can't get the words fully out to complete the sentence: Nothing's coming, Tony. Rhodey saw New York, and he can't make such promises.
"Anyway," Tony waves him off, "much to do. Much to do. I'll meet up with you later, Rhodey."
"Tony," he says gently, but Tony's already muttering to himself and giving new orders to JARVIS.
On the way out, he catches up with Pepper again, grabs her hand between his and kisses her cheek goodbye. "Hey, uh, can you keep an eye on him? I'm a bit worried," he tells her, trying not to let the extent of his concern show.
She frowns a little at him, a barely-there crinkle between her eyebrows as she tilts her head slightly. "Sure. Everything okay?"
"I'm sure it's nothing," Rhodey reassures her.
Pepper's grip on his hands tighten for a moment, preventing him from pulling back completely. "You absolutely sure?" she asks. Rhodey remembers how smart she is; how observant.
"I'm sure," he repeats, lying through his teeth and meeting her eyes steadily.
She searches his face for a clue, but he doesn't give an inch. "All right," she eventually says, then pulls him back in for a longer hug. It takes Rhodey by surprise, and he has to stop himself from gasping out loud.
"You're a good friend to him, Rhodey," she murmurs, right up against the curve of his ear, warmly and sweetly.
The word friend burns against his skin, and he remembers sinking into Tony's body and losing himself in it.
"I try," he mutters back, and can't look her in the eyes again when he pulls out of the hug and leaves the mansion.
Things get a little hectic after that. The Mandarin gets a name and a face, and Rhodey's superiors go crazy. He meets with President Ellis on several occasions, and together they all agree to rebrand War Machine. Vice President Rodriguez has found someone to do all the upgrades--"Someone more reliable than Hammer Industries," he assures Rhodey--and Rhodey smiles in satisfaction at the end of the table.
"Yes, sir," Rhodey says.
"I think it's an excellent idea, sir," Rhodey says.
"I certainly understand why people like Iron Patriot better," Rhodey says.
He doesn't dare voice his real thoughts on the matter, but it feels a little bit like they're taking away a part of him. Tony made that suit for him. For him. Tony made it just for him. And the last time someone who wasn't Tony tinkered with it, it didn't end so well. Still, Rhodey's a good soldier--one of the best there is. So he just nods his agreement and shuts up.
When they show the suit to him for the first time, repainted in red, white and blue, Rhodey takes a deep breath, smiles and nods. "Looks great," he says.
He wants to vomit in his mouth.
That night, he goes to the shadiest club he can find and gets a blowjob from the twinkiest kid in the place, on his knees in the bathroom. It's terrible, the guy has no skills, but Rhodey closes his eyes, pretends it's Tony, and comes harder than he ought to. He reciprocates half-heartedly, and doesn't respond when the other guy tries to talk to him afterwards, just pushes his way out and leaves.
When he gets out of the shower the next morning, he's got a voice mail from Tony waiting for him. Tony's voice is hoarse and trembling, but his tone is upbeat. The message itself is long and rambling about threat assessments and future risk and hey, does Rhodey want any upgrades to War Machine, because if he does he can just call Tony at any time, any time buddy, I'm always up.
Rhodey glances at his alarm clock, because if it's 7:30 a.m. in Washington, it's 4:30 a.m. in California, and Tony probably hasn't slept at all.
Rhodey hesitates for a second before hitting Tony's name in his Contacts.
Tony doesn't pick up.
Rhodey's in Hong Kong when Pepper calls him. He doesn't question how she knew where he was, because Pepper knows a lot of things about a lot of people, and he's not surprised.
Pepper's there on business, and she meets him in the lobby of her hotel wearing clothes by designers Rhodey couldn't name, and six-inch heels that make her look both graceful and powerful. She's had years of practice faking smiles, but Rhodey's known her for almost as long. He can see the fine lines around the corners of her mouth and the way her eyes don't have quite the same light to them. Once they've finished their appetizers he asks her, "Everything all right?"
"Everything's fine," she lies.
Rhodey considers. "You know you can call me anytime, right?"
Pepper's smile falters just a little.
"A few years ago, you said there was a thing?" she asks, and Rhodey almost chokes on his wine. She doesn't flinch even as he does, and instead waits patiently as he gathers his wits about him.
"That's--out of left field," he mutters, not sure how to answer that question. He thinks of Tony and the way Tony used to kiss him, the way Tony's beard felt against Rhodey's skin. Pepper just keeps waiting patiently.
"That was a long time ago," he eventually settles on, ignoring the uncomfortable tingle in his fingertips.
"What changed?" Pepper asks, her voice curious and free of judgement. Rhodey stares at the tabletop and feels her eyes on him. He doesn't know what she's after.
"I don't know," he eventually grits out. "I guess we did. Both of us." Which is a blatant lie, but they were never going to end up anywhere else, Tony and him. Rhodey thinks that even if he'd seen their relationship for what it was, even if he hadn't been so oblivious and repressed, Tony still would have been drawn to Pepper like a moth to a flame. Tony appreciates intelligence, beauty, power, and while Rhodey's not a slouch in any of those departments if he may say so himself, he doesn't hold a candle to Virginia 'Pepper' Potts--he never could.
"It was always going to end," he says eventually, leveling a steady gaze at Pepper.
"Was it," she says, and it doesn't sound like a question.
At Christmas, Tony has a panic attack and immediately flees the scene, and then Happy gets caught in an explosion at the Chinese theater and Tony threatens a terrorist on live TV.
Rhodey's in his car when the call comes. Pepper's frantic on the phone, and Rhodey's brain switches to work-mode because he can't handle this otherwise. He doesn't listen to the radio as he speeds to Tony's mansion, and it's dark by the time he arrives there and gets through all the security and the emergency personnel. He finds Pepper standing in the ruins of Tony's living room, clutching one of his helmets.
"Pepper..." he says, not finding the right words.
She turns then, and gives him a slight smile. It's wet with tears that have since stopped flowing, but it's a smile. It bodes well.
"Rhodey," she whispers, and he hugs her tightly, relief flooding him.
"He left a message," she whispers into his ear, fingers clenching and unclenching in his t-shirt. "He left a message for us."
Pulling back slightly, she hands him the helmet. The crack that runs down the middle makes something in Rhodey's gut flip uncomfortably, but when he meets Pepper's eyes, he only sees her strength and beauty, not a trace of grief. Nodding encouragingly, Pepper gestures to the helmet, and Rhodey turns it and puts it on.
Rhodey waits for a moment, then waits for another moment, until he starts to feel silly and takes the helmet off again. Pepper's looking at him with an expression he can't read.
"There's--" he starts to say, and his voice cracks and he has to try again. "There's nothing."
Pepper's expression morphs into one of confusion and disbelief just as Rhodey's phone starts ringing in his pocket.
"But," she says, shaking her head, "he left a message." She doesn't specify for us anymore.
"I believe you," Rhodey assures her, flipping his phone open. He does believe her. Tony loves her too much to leave her in the dark, and Rhodey takes a few steps to the side as he hits the Call button and pretends it doesn't hurt.
The call is from the Vice President himself, and it places Rhodey on high alert.
Pepper looks at him sadly, and nods in understanding. "Go," she tells him. "I have stuff to take care of here, anyway." She looks back towards the crowd, maybe looking at someone in particular or maybe just referring to the situation in general, Rhodey doesn't know.
He gets in his car, peels out of there and doesn't think about the darkness in Tony's helmet, silent and unresponsive.
It's Christmas Day when Tony is proven right. The Iron Legion was a good idea.
Later, Rhodey watches as they take away Vice President Rodriguez and ignores the persistent buzzing of his phone in his pocket. It's been buzzing repeatedly for hours. The display reads Tony, Tony, always Tony, and Rhodey's heart hurts.
Rhodey doesn't see or speak with Tony again until February. Rhodey's been called to a (very) early morning meeting with President Ellis, and Tony's in the room. It's a surprise, both because Rhodey didn't realize Tony would be there and because Tony usually doesn't attend meetings this early--not even for the President himself. Apparently, this is an exception.
Rhodey has heard about Tony's Clean Slate Protocol. He knows what's coming, and he mentally braces himself for it.
He wishes he'd been able to take War Machine out for one last flight.
"Rhodey," Tony greets, sitting in the corner of the couch with one leg crossed over the other and a poorly concealed delighted grin on his face. "Meant to call you sooner, but I've been a bit busy. Had take care of my superhot girlfriend, you know how it is, and when I say superhot, I mean--" and he makes a sound that's probably supposed to be something blowing up.
"Everything okay now?" Rhodey asks, even though he knows, of course he knows. Pepper's fine. Tony cured her.
"Oh, yeah," Tony assures him. "This? This is about--something else." He glances over briefly, and Rhodey follows his gaze. There are four scary looking men in suits nearby, whom Rhodey vaguely recognizes from Tony's legal department.
"Colonel Rhodes," says President Ellis, shaking his hand and also looking pleased. Rhodey's confused.
President Ellis gestures for him to sit down, and Rhodey obeys. He can't look Tony in the eyes anymore. "Don't look so nervous, Colonel Rhodes," President Ellis says, "I have a feeling you're going to enjoy this."
Two hours later Rhodey dazedly walks back out of the meeting, trying to wrap his mind around the fact that not only does he gets to keep War Machine, but nobody will ever fuck with it again. The only software or hardware upgrades will be done by Tony himself, and Rhodey's been ordered by the President himself to personally oversee the upgrades.
"Buy you a drink, soldier?" Tony says with a wink, clapping a hand down on Rhodey's shoulder.
"Yes," says Rhodey, when what he really means to say is, No. What he means to say is, Tony, it's ten in the morning. What he means to say is, Where the hell was my message?
By "drinks," Tony actually means "sip champagne in the back of my limo, as the driver drives us back to New York."
"Of course I'd never," Tony says, half scoffing like he's terribly insulted. "War Machine is yours, okay? War Machine is a gift."
Rhodey wishes he was flying it right now.
As if he can read his mind, Tony says, "Don't worry, she's being shipped to New York right now. My guys are on it. You'll be able to take her out for a spin as soon as I get her fixed up, all right?"
"She's a he," Rhodey mumbles, embarrassed. The War Machine used to be an it, until one day he suddenly wasn't anymore.
"Really?" Tony asks without missing a beat. "Well, that little devil. He never even told me. That's what I get for making gender assumptions, am I right? Then again, it seems right."
Glancing at Tony, Rhodey raises an eyebrow and waits for the punchline.
"You, spending so much time inside your favorite guy in the world." Tony cackles like it's hilarious.
"Second favorite," Rhodey says without thinking, then quickly drains the rest of his glass in an attempt to hide it. He stares out the window and doesn't look at Tony.
There's silence from Tony's side for a limo for a long while, and Rhodey thinks of nothing but flying. Enveloped, cocooned, wrapped safely in War Machine, and feeling free and powerful and good as he soars through the skies.
Then he's got a lapful of Tony, and Tony still kisses him the same way, like he's been searching for something forever and finally found it in the way Rhodey's lips move against his, the way Rhodey's hands automatically go to his hips and grip. Rhodey kisses back, not from a lack of self-control, but because he wants, he wants in a way that's both painful and sweet at once.
When Tony moves to trace kisses along his jawline, Rhodey whispers, "Pepper," into the crook of Tony's neck and stomps down on the tight feeling in his chest.
Tony either doesn't listen, or--far more likely--doesn't care. Rhodey breathes deep, tries to remember Tony's scent from right here, up close, the warmth of his body against his and the edge of his arc reactor against him, before he gently, but firmly, pushes Tony away.
Rhodey says, "We're not doing this."
Tony looks puzzled. "Why not?"
Rhodey finally looks directly at Tony then, meets his eyes straight on. "You have a good thing with Pepper," he explains. "A really good thing, I--I don't want to--"
"Oh," Tony says, then his eyes widen and he gapes. "Oh! No!" Fumbling in the pocket of his blazer, Tony comes up with his phone and Rhodey catches a glimpse of Pepper's face on the display before Tony hits the button for speakerphone.
"This is the first day in forever I've been able to sleep in, please tell me you're not waking me up to tell me you screwed things up with the President of the United States," is how Pepper answers the phone, sounding sleepy and cranky.
"Hi, honey, light of my life," Tony says, eyes never leaving Rhodey's face as one corner of his mouth quirks up in a grin. Rhodey's confused and slightly nervous. "You need to tell Rhodey that I've got your pre-approved permission to fuck him."
Rhodey chokes on air and his eyes water as he tries to get his body under control again. "Rhodey? Rhodey?" Pepper asks, voice as clear as if she was right next to him. Stark phones have unmatched sound quality. Tony's a fucking genius like that, and Rhodey doesn't understand anything anymore.
"Or rather, for him to fuck me," Tony corrects, seemingly unphased by Rhodey's gasps and Pepper's worry over the phone. He sounds wistful as he says, "I do miss that cock."
Rhodey is having trouble remembering how to form words. "I--I don't," he eventually says, and Pepper sighs.
"Rhodey," she says, alert and awake now. Her voice is calm and soothing--warm, in a way Rhodey can only recall a few times in the past. "Rhodey," she says again, "he's ours. You know that, right? You have to know that."
Rhodey doesn't know that.
The last time Rhodey cried was probably sometime before basic training, so it's a shock to him when he realizes his eyes are moist. "Ours?" he asks, tentatively hoping.
"Just like you. are. ours," Tony says, the words short and slightly clipped, but warm like Pepper's, so warm, like he's scared to say them out loud.
Rhodey's hands slide up Tony's thighs again, settles back on his hips and he breathes out, a long, shaky breath. "I can--?"
Tony smirks. "You can." He starts to move back in for a kiss, then at the last minute leans to the side and says, "We'll see you at home, sweetheart," into the phone.
"Hurry up," Pepper says coyly, and Rhodey's mind boggles, but Tony's already ended the call and is kissing him deeply.
Tony's body is pliant under Rhodey's hands. His skin feels much the same. There's a few new calluses, a few new scars--but then again, the same can be said for Rhodey. They still find each other the same way they used to, still fall easily into each other.
When Rhodey sinks into Tony, crowded and uncomfortable and perfect on the floor of the limousine, they both groan as Tony narrates everything, talks dirty and pants into Rhodey's ear, "Missed you, missed this, Pepper's been doing it, she's got this strap-on, it's fucking amazing, she's fucking amazing, you'll see, you'll see, but it's not the same, it's not you."
Rhodey squeezes his eyes shut and thinks about seeing, thinks about Pepper and her strength and her grace, fucking into Tony, and the image stays with him all the way until he comes.
It's snowing in New York. Light snowflakes, drifting down from the sky and disappearing as soon as they hit the ground.
Rhodey stares out the window and watches as the city goes by, watches the reconstruction and the cranes and the construction workers in bright hardhats. Rhodey's leaning on the door and Tony's leaning on him, and he's got one arm wrapped around Tony's shoulders and he's not letting go.
"Things are coming along nicely," Tony says. He's not just talking about the city.
Rhodey turns his head and kisses Tony's forehead. "Yeah?"
Tony nods. "Yeah."
The limo driver earns himself one hell of a tip. Tony brushes it off, says, "Eh, you earned it," and then strides into Stark Tower without a backwards glance.
Rhodey looks at the limo driver as he looks at the tip Tony left him, then immediately breaks down crying, laughing, crying, all at once, and pulls out his phone. "Honey? Honey, it's me, something amazing just happened."
Rhodey smiles and thinks about Tony and War Machine, and thinks things are indeed coming along nicely.
It's not awkward, is the thing.
Pepper greets them in Tony's penthouse, kisses Tony in welcome, then puts her arms around Rhodey and places her lips against his skin. Her kiss lingers on his cheek. Rhodey takes the invitation, rests his hands on her hips and kisses her.
It's been years since Rhodey last kissed a woman, and even longer than that since he kissed a woman with anything like intent--but this isn't any woman. This is Pepper, and Rhodey finds it--nice.
She's soft and warm and she feels delicate in all the ways Rhodey knows for a fact she's not. She's comfortable and seductive where Tony's hard and insistent. Pepper kisses like she does everything else, with silky smooth determination, leaving little doubt as to whom is really in charge. Rhodey has his preferences and Rhodey will always choose Tony, always, every time, but Pepper is making that choice a lot less obvious. He suspects it's because Pepper would make the same choice.
They make out for a few moments before Tony presses himself to Rhodey's back and rests his chin on Rhodey's shoulder, and Rhodey thinks, Yes, because suddenly it's better. Tony presses wet, sloppy kisses to the side of Rhodey's neck, and Rhodey's dick grows hard in his pants.
"You guys should start charging for this," Tony says. Pepper smirks and her eyes glint with amusement as she looks at Rhodey.
Tony continues undeterred, even as his hands slip between them to grab at Rhodey's crotch. "I'm serious. Big money. Make a porno. Put it out there. It'd be the death of free internet porn, I'm telling you."
"Shut up," Pepper says fondly, and reaches for him. Tony laughs and goes willingly.
They end up in the master bedroom with minimal fumbling and only a couple of pauses and false starts, and then they just--flow. Pepper is soft and firm at the same time, and she directs them in bed with certainty and a surprising amount of enthusiasm. Tony laughs and reaches for everything all at once, hands constantly moving, touching. He's still slightly loose and wet with Rhodey, and when Pepper discovers it, fingers breaching Tony's body and exploring, she breathes, "Oh," and flushes all over.
Rhodey doesn't tremble as he reaches for them, and he doesn't tremble as he kisses Pepper, kisses Tony, and lets himself want, lets himself touch.
Tony groans like a porn star. Sucks cock like one, too. Rhodey remembers this and it feels familiar, the way Tony makes so much noise, even when his mouth is full, choked gasps and grunts with every snap of Pepper's hips behind him. Rhodey wants to squeeze his eyes shut as Tony swallows him deep, but he can't, he has to keep watching.
Pepper's eyes meet his and she smiles, pants, open-mouthed and happy, and Rhodey gasps something--a mangled word, a name maybe, he's not sure whose--and comes down Tony's throat.
Later--after Pepper's ground out two orgasms of her own, one against the harness and one against Rhodey's tongue, after Pepper finally, finally, let Tony in and let him rut against her until he came--they curl up under the covers. Tony grins and pats Rhodey's cheek, still riding his post-orgasmic high, and then kisses Pepper. "Everything's awesome," he declares. "You're awesome. You're both awesome. You're everything."
Pepper chuckles and Tony chuckles and Rhodey closes his eyes and just takes it all in. He listens to the sound of their breathing slowing down. He smells sex and sweat and come, he smells Pepper's perfume and Tony's cologne, and Rhodey smiles into the warmth of Tony's skin and thinks, Everything.
Rhodey doesn't have to wonder about Tony's choice. He already clearly chose them both.
It takes Tony less than six hours to deprogram War Machine, install a daughter clone of JARVIS and remove the shitty paint job.
"So," Tony says with a leer after everything's done. "What shall we do with the rest of our time?"
Rhodey chuckles and shakes his head. "I have to get back, Tony," he says.
Tony huffs, "Liar. I was at the meeting, the President said you were to stay however long it took."
"Yeah," Rhodey says, the Duh clear in his tone. "And it's done now."
Tony stares defiantly at him for a few long seconds, before slowly and deliberately reaching out to War Machine and pulling at a wire. "Oh no," he says, deadpan. "It broke. This repair work could take days. Weeks, even."
"Tony," Rhodey says, exasperated.
Tony does stomp his feet then, like a little child, and sulks as he turns to start fiddling with the wire. "Fine! Fucking fine! I'll fix it."
There's something in his voice though, and Rhodey is at his side with just a few steps, placing a hand gently on Tony's neck. "Tony."
He's always saying Tony's name, it seems. It's always carried a lot of meaning between them.
"I upgraded your OS," Tony says, abruptly and loud. "Added some tweaks."
Rhodey's loathe to get sidetracked, but he'll always be interested in whatever Tony's doing with War Machine. "Tweaks?"
"Yeah, you know. More user friendly interface, modules for individual flare launchers as well as cluster launchers, routine automatic backups of your security retinal scans to the private Stark servers in case of any other emergencies, hey, what do you say we paint him hot rod red, hm?"
Rhodey blinks. Carefully rewinds Tony's words, and blinks again. "Retinal scan backups?"
Tony doesn't turn around. "So that's a no on the red?"
"People already mistake me for you enough as it is, now--retinal scan backups?" Rhodey says, because he's not letting this go.
"Yeah." Tony's tone sounds too light, too casual. "In case of, you know. Emergencies. So my systems can recognize you."
Rhodey takes in everything Tony's not saying and flashes back to the dark silence of Tony's helmet, the look on Tony's face when Rhodey had asked for a suit at the harbor--and something expands in his chest; a love for Tony that he's still having difficulties voicing out loud.
Rhodey clears his throat once to make sure his voice will carry, but it still comes out just barely above a whisper when he says, "Christmas."
Tony shrugs once, like it's no big deal, but doesn't turn around.
Rhodey's not sure that makes sense, and he doesn't know what else to say to that--what can he say to that?--so he just watches in silence as Tony works. After tinkering some more with some of the circuits, Tony reattaches the wire with deft fingers, before closing the panel and finally turning to face him.
"Speaking of," he says, voice still unnaturally light, "I've been thinking of doing some--upgrades of my own."
Rhodey frowns. "I thought you were done making suits." Tony loved his suits, but he loves Pepper more, Rhodey knows this.
Tony taps his arc reactor where it's peeking out through his shirt, takes a deep breath then holds it for a second. "It's not--it's not suits, it's--okay, so there's this thing," he says, and Rhodey's known him for so long, he can hear the seriousness in Tony's words. "They're calling it a medical breakthrough."
Tony's eyes find Rhodey's and he holds his breath again, fingers still going tap-tap-tap against the arc reactor, and suddenly Rhodey understands.
"Wow, I--," he starts then stops.
Rhodey's still trying to figure out how to react when he really notices Tony's face, notices the tense lines around the corners of his mouth and the miniscule twitch of his one eyebrow. Tony has a lot of words, but rarely says what actually matters to him.
Rhodey smiles then. "Maybe it's best if I stick around for a while, then."
The changes on Tony's face are small, but so noticeable. His frown lines fade a little, his eyebrow stops twitching, and the barest hint of a smile spreads across his lips as fear fades into relief. "Yeah?" Tony asks, like he seriously thought even for one second that Rhodey would leave him. The idea is ludicrous.
"Seriously," Rhodey says, then places one hand directly in the center of Tony's chest, palm covering the arc reactor and fingertips reaching out over the edge. "I'm not going anywhere." He tries to sound as reassuring as possible, tries to pour everything he's wanted to say, everything he's held in for years, into that single sentence.
Tony's smile grows into a full fledged grin then, and he rubs one hand across his nose, streaking dirt across his skin as he jerks his head towards War Machine. "Well, I mean, he is all fixed now. You can do whatever, really, you don't have to--"
"Hey," Rhodey interrupts him and elbows him loosely in the side. "What did I just say?"
Tony laughs delightedly, then plants a quick kiss on Rhodey's lips, just a little peck, before his grin turns wicked. "Well, then. Wanna fool around until Pep gets home?"
Rhodey looks at Tony, then looks at War Machine and breathes deeply. "In a little while," he says. "I want to take him out for a spin, first."
Tony's head bobs up and down as he keeps smiling and says, "Yeah, yeah, I definitely understand, go nuts."
And Rhodey watches Tony's smile and thinks about the massive bed upstairs and the first time Tony kissed him and Pepper's soft skin under his fingertips, and Rhodey flies.