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Long Distance

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Authors Note: All Art Provided by My Sweet Friend LATELIERDERIOT on Tumblr. Go check her out, I love her and you should too.

 

 

*****************

 

Tony Stark was having a bad day.

Really, just the worst.

It started with ripping the sleeve of his favorite shirt as he turned a corner, because apparently it was too much to ask for no nails to be sticking out of a door jam.

How was there a nail? Why was his shirt ripped? Why had he paid out the ass for some high end contractor to leave nails sticking out?

Then a business meeting, which should have been barely more than a meet and greet with a quick signing of a new contract, disintegrated into chaos when the representatives of the German tech company took offense to… something.

Or they were annoyed about… something… or whatever.

Tony already had a headache and was barely listening, and jumped in surprise when all the shouting started.

Pepper dove right into full reconciliation mode to try and salvage everything, but even her best efforts weren't enough to save it and almost a year’s worth of negotiations went right down the drain.

The Germans tore up the contract and left in a huff, muttering angrily under their breaths while Tony just stared in disbelief.

He was furious, and rightly so.

His job was to design all the tech, not sell it to the other companies, not to barter contracts, not to deal with all this bullshit. That's why he had a team, and today his team had let him down.

But it wasn't like it was Peppers fault, and really, his team had tried their best, so Tony just loosened his tie and opened the bar in the conference room, handing out drinks for everyone before moving on.

A speeding ticket from a motorcycle cop as he raced down the freeway trying to get home before dinner with Rhodey.

Lovely.

Traffic cops were...were… well, they were hard working civil servants who deserved his respect (as Pepper had reminded him so many times) but still the biggest pain in his ass. And expensive ones too.

A phone call from a reporter came in round four in the afternoon when he was still on the road, the brash woman on the other line asking if he cared to comment on the stories his ex girlfriend was sharing about him.

Ex?” Tony asked with a confused frown. “What do you mean ex?”

The reporter went on to tell him that his ex- girlfriend Shawna had called them with a story about him. Something about his habits in bed and weird beauty rituals. That he demanded certain things from her, and was a selfish lover. That he had an AI that controlled his life and that he was building weapons in his lab.

Did Tony have any comment about any of it? Was there any truth to the rumours?

Tony hung up the phone without answering, and then called Pepper in a panic, but she was already on damage control, already making sure that everyone knew that Shawna was simply angry that she had been a fling and that Tony hadn't kept her around for very long.

Pepper was also making sure to tell anyone who asked that Tony hadn't even let Shawna stay overnight in their rather short relationship, so there was no way she would know anything of importance about him.

She told them that everything being built in Tony's lab was the sole property of Stark Industries, usually patent pending to the United States military and if they printed anything that even resembled information about his projects, they would be taken to court and sued for copyright infringement and anything else she could nail them with.

Pepper was the best, always putting out fires, and Tony promised her a new present-- something that involved diamonds and a day at her favorite spa for taking care of him.

Then he hung up the phone and pounded at his steering wheel.

He had really liked Shawna. She was sweet and funny and matched him snark for snark, and he was just thinking it was time to ask her to spend the night, maybe even the weekend with him.

He had been sure she would see past the money, and the Stark name and stick around for the long haul, but apparently that wasn't the case.

Tony had thought they were taking everything at a reasonable pace, and since she hadn't complained about it, that she was fine with waiting to move forward.

Apparently that hadn't been the case either, and here he was single again, on the front of a tabloid again, frustrated over the emptiness in his life again.

Thank god for dinner with Rhodey.

Except no, there was another disappointment.

Real sorry, Tones.” Rhodey said over the voice mail. “My baby niece has a recital tonight and I missed the last one so I gotta be there tonight. Can we reschedule for next week?”

Tony was just dialing his phone to call Rhodey back and give him hell about missing dinner before asking where the recital was so he could send flowers to his favorite little niece, but then he stepped out of the elevator--

--and tripped over the edge of the carpet and fell flat on his fae.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but after such a long day it was just the one final thing that broke it all, and Tony flung his phone at the wall, smiling in a grim sort of satisfaction as it broke into about a thousand pieces.

And then he cursed a blue streak because why had he destroyed his phone?

Tony rubbed at his eyes, groaning in frustration, and trekked back into the elevator to head down to the basements of the Towers, to the company stock rooms.

There was at least a thousand phones in stock down there, extra inventory for the employees of the Tower, and Tony rifled through the boxes until he found one in the bright red he preferred.

Back up in the penthouse, Tony punched in Rhodey's number from memory and started shit-texting his best friend while he poured a glass of scotch.

-- Honey bear. This whole day has been bullshit. I actually tore my shirt on a nail this morning. A nail. In my house. It's like living in a third world country.

--Thanks but no thanks to any of your smart ass comments about how i know nothing of the third world. Tearing my shirt is my equivalent of a third world and you know it.

--Rhodey seriously your niece's recital isn't a valid reason for skipping out on our dinner together. Date nights are to be taken seriously and you skipping this one is completely unforgivable.

--But still, I'll send her some flowers because I'm sure she did wonderful.

--Hey do you remember that time in MIT where I stole everyone’s towels on our floor? Why don't we pull pranks like that any more?

--Oh no I remember. Because you’re boring and I'm thirty.

-- You need to text me back, I know you hear your obnoxious ring tone. I know you’re a Lieutenant Colonel and all that, but no one actually needs Born in the USA for a ring tone. Nobody is that patriotic

--Are you ever gonna ask Pepper out? Think our favorite redhead needs a date. She is wound TIGHT lately, if you know what I mean.

--Rhodey I swear to god if you don't start texting me back right now….

--I'm gonna drink this whole bottle of scotch and drunk text you the entire time. Text me back now and take preventative measures. Not too late for you to swing by for dinner. Is it going to be a whole month before I see you again? I feel like you only come by for work reasons Rhodey, is that anyway to treat your wife?

--really? Nothing to the wife comment? Tough crowd.

*******************

“Stevie, who the hell is texting you at two am?” Bucky complained and shoved at his boyfriends shoulder. “Wake up and turn your phone off.”

“Sorry.” Steve sat up in bed and rubbed at his eyes, squinting at the screen of his phone as it lit up repeatedly, the shrill ring tone destroying the usual quiet of their bedroom. “It's a number I don't recognize. Manhattan, I think.”

“Tell them to fuck off.” Bucky grumbled and rolled over, burying his face in his pillow. “We have to be awake in like three hours for a run.”

“I know babe. Let me just check and--- damn it. It's just a wrong number drunk texting.” Steve dragged his hand through his blond hair. “Some guy trying to get a hold of someone named Rhodey. Talking about missing their date night, and how Rhodey only comes around for work stuff anymore?”

“Oh, that's kind of sad.” Bucky sat up a little and frowned. “Poor guy. Missed date nights are rough.”

“Yeah, he keeps asking Rhodey to text him back. Which isn’t going to happen, because he’s actually texting me.” Steve laughed a little. “I guess I should let him know it's a wrong number.”

“Yeah, tell him it sucks to get ditched, then tell him to shut the hell up so I can sleep.”

“Easy, big guy.” Steve chuckled. “I'll let him know.”

--Hey man. Just thought I'd let you know that this is a wrong number. All 37 of your texts meant for “Rhodey” went to my number instead. Sorry to let you down, but I don't think your boyfriend knows you are mad at him.

*************

Tony blinked at his phone a few times when he received a text back from an unknown number.

“Oh damn.” he doubled checked the number. “I have definitely not been texting Rhodey all night.”

--Well this is embarrassing as hell. But you know, the polite thing to do would have been to reply at like, text four instead of letting me ramble on like I'm drunk or something.

--You did mention something about a bottle of scotch. And I just woke up because my phone wouldn't quit ringing.

--Do you have a better ring tone than Born in the USA?

--It's Big Blond and Beautiful

-- You’re kidding. From Hairspray? With Queen Latifah?

--I can't believe you knew that right away

--I can't believe you admitted it. Still better than Born in the USA. Sorry I woke you, but if you were really mad you would stop texting me instead of encouraging my rude behavior

--I guess that's fair. Sorry your boyfriend stood you up

--Not my boyfriend.

-- You said date night so I just assumed he was a boyfriend. Too bad he stood you up anyway. Maybe stop drinking and call it a night though, try texting him in the morning when you’re sober

--Thanks dad

--It's actually professor.

--Oh my.

-- So tell me professor. Is the big blond and beautiful a description as well as a ringtone?

--Well, no ones complained when they see me, at least. What about you? Blonde and beautiful?

--Brown eyed and brunette and mysterious. Not mysterious. Obnoxious. Brown eyed and brunette and obnoxious. So what do you do? Model?

--Yeah right. I teach Art History and several art classes at the university.

--Oh so you are ACTUALLY a professor. I thought that was like a weird role play thing.

--Little early in the game to be talking about that sort of thing isn't it?

-- You tell me. You're the one texting a drunk guy at 2 am

*******************

Steve laughed out loud and Bucky rolled over with a huff. “Babe, it's been half an hour, are you still talking to him?”

“Look.” Steve turned his phone so Bucky could see. “He’s funny.”

“Yeah, babe, I'm sure he's a damn comedian.” Bucky yawned and stretched, dropping a big arm around Steve's shoulders and tugging him down against his chest. “But you’re in bed with me so call it a night. Tell him you’ll talk to him tomorrow.”

“Yeah?” Steve raised an eyebrow. “I can talk to him tomorrow?”

“You know I don't care.” Bucky yawned again and held him tighter. “But I will care if you keep me awake any longer.”

“Sorry, baby.” Steve kissed him sweetly and shot off a quick text to the mysterious texter.

--I've got a class at eight am so I need to get some sleep, but can I talk to you tomorrow?

-- You want to talk to me more? What, like after class?

--Sure, my last class of the day is over at 3:45

--I was joking, professor. But alright. Let’s talk tomorrow.

--Looking forward to it. Do I get a name to go with this wrong number?

--Tony.

--Nice to meet you. I'm Steve.

-I'm putting you in my phone and Big and Blonde

-- I'm putting you in my phone as Mysterious

--Not obnoxious? You’re nicer than me for sure

--Well you know what they say, opposites attract. Blond and brunette, nice and obnoxious…

--Touche, teacher man

--Will you text me back in the morning?

--Try and stop me. are we in the same time zone?

--I'm in Boston

--Manhattan

--So no long distance charges then, right?

--Long distance charges for texting? I thought I was the drunk one

--I was trying to be funny

--Stick with being blonde

--Tomorrow, Tony

--Can't wait

Tony smiled down at his phone, and tossed it back onto the couch with a sigh.

Steve. Big and Blond. Could be fun.

***************

“You like him?” Bucky asked, rubbing his nose into Steve's hair as they curled back into the pillows together.

“Can't really tell over a text.” Steve returned, wrapping both his arms around his love. “But I mean, he's funny. And brunette.”

“And we both know funny and brunette is all it takes to get in your pants.” Bucky cracked a tired grin when Steve jabbed him in the ribs. “Easy as hell, ain't ya, Stevie?”

“You say that like you're complaining.”

“Sugar, you know damn well I'm not complaining.”