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Aborted Take-Off

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“...so, then I thought I could just fry the Doombot's circuits with a massive blast of electricity, but that turned out to just make it have some kind of mechanical fit and then start moving at twice the speed and half the accuracy, which made a hell of a mess of 53rd street. The Mayor was really pissed about that.”

Martin tucked the scratchy hotel pillow more firmly under his head, then shifted the phone to his other ear. “I saw the pictures. It did look a bit apocalyptic.”

“That wasn't all the Doombot,” admitted Tony. “We also caused a good bit of damage along the way. The Hulk's getting better at not just running through walls, but he stills tends to do it when he's over-excited which is, you know, anytime we're fighting something bigger than he is, so pretty often, but still, you'd think that getting rid of a giant, flame-throwing killing machine would get you a pass on a few minor architectural amendments.”

“Architectural amendments?” repeated Martin. “You mean, they should turn the holes into windows or something?”

“Who wouldn't want a Hulk-shaped window?” asked Tony. “My building has at least three now. And one Iron Man-shaped skylight. It's a theme – I wanted to add some in the shapes of the others, but even Pepper's against the idea.”

“You do already have quite a few windows,” said Martin, remembering the massive expanse of floor-to-ceiling glass that lined Tony's penthouse.

“Now you sound like her,” grumbled Tony. “None of you understand my grand vision.”

There was a tap on Martin's hotel room door.

“Hang on,” said Martin to Tony, standing up to open it. Not that he really needed to – the hotel room was small enough that he could reach almost all of it from the bed.

Carolyn bustled in as soon as the door was open, already talking. “Martin, there's been- oh, dear God, how can you still be on the phone? What on earth can you find to say that takes,” she glanced at her watch, “two hours and forty-five minutes?”

Martin blinked. Had it really been that long? “Is that the boss?” asked Tony in Martin's ear.

“Yes,” he said. “One moment.” He lowered the phone, covering the microphone so that Tony wouldn't hear anything. “What do you want, Carolyn?”

“I've just had an extremely interesting conversation with a very rich business man in the bar,” she said. “He was bemoaning the fact that he was unable to fly to Chicago earlier than Thursday without having to change planes in New York.”

It didn't take a genius to guess where this was going. “No,” Martin said quickly. “No, Carolyn, we're meant to be flying home tomorrow.”

“We were meant to be flying home tomorrow,” she corrected. “Now we're flying to Chicago. Isn't it exciting?”

“No,” said Martin. “Carolyn, that means we won't be home until the day after, and I've got a job then.”

“You'll have to reschedule,” she said, with her typical lack-of-concern. Sometimes Martin wondered if she had any idea how tricky it was trying to make enough money to live on around his trips with MJN Air. “We'll be leaving Chicago as early as possible – God knows I don't want to hang about there - so we'll be in Fitton by 4. Plenty of time for you to do it after that.”

Great, so now Martin was going to be flying a plane for eight hours, then driving to Manchester and back. That shouldn't leave him over-tired and likely to have an accident at all.

“At any rate, we're leaving at noon tomorrow,” she said, “and you'll need to do a flight plan.” She left before Martin could raise any more objections. He scowled as he picked his phone back up.

“Apparently, we're going to Chicago tomorrow,” he said. “I'll have to go, I'm afraid. I need to do a flight plan.”

“Chicago?” asked Tony. “I love Chicago, great city, got some really great restaurants. You should totally check out Nero's, you'll love it.”

Martin laughed. “Tony, what on earth makes you think I'll be able to afford any restaurant that you think is great?”

“I think the Schwarma place on 3rd Avenue is great, and even Cap doesn't complain about the prices in there, and he complains about the price of everything,” said Tony. “He's worse than a grandpa. Hey, think he'd mind if I called him Gramps?”

“I'm a bit surprised you haven't already,” said Martin.

There was a thoughtful pause. “Yeah, okay, I probably have.”

“Right,” said Martin, glancing at his watch. “I'd love to chat more, but I have to do this flight plan now, and it's getting late. Besides, we've been on the phone for nearly three hours – I'm sure you have stuff you should be doing.”

“I do, yeah,” said Tony. “But there's this great thing that phones do these days that's called 'speaker phone' – you might have heard of it. It means I can fix the damage the Doombot did to my suit and chat to you at the same time. It's amazing. In fact, I think your phone might even be advanced enough for it as well, so you- Oh, oh Martin, I've just had a genius idea. We should totally have phone sex.”

“Oh no,” said Martin immediately. There was no way he'd be able to talk about sex over the phone in a way that sounded arousing rather than just incredibly stupid. He'd just end up babbling, probably about something not even the least bit sexy.

“Yes!” said Tony. “Come on, I'll start.” He cleared his throat, and then said in a low, seductive voice, “I've changed the angle of the Quinjet's wings slightly, so they glide through the air better. Just like my cock would glide through-”

“Stop!” said Martin, starting to laugh. “God, Tony, please don't finish that sentence.”

“Hey, I thought it was pretty good,” said Tony in his normal voice again. “I know how my plane designs get you all hot and bothered.”

Martin cleared his throat awkwardly at just how true that was. “There's no time for that now, anyway. I really do need to get this flight plan done.”

“Oh, fine,” said Tony. “Ruin my fun, why don't you? I guess I'll talk to you later.”

Just like every other time they'd spoken on the phone over the last few weeks, Martin felt a surge of pleasure at how reluctant Tony seemed to get off the phone, and how quick he was to mention calling Martin again. Not bored of me yet, he thought.

“Yes,” he said out loud. “You still need to tell me how you defeated the Doombot, after all.”

“Very true,” said Tony. “It was dashing and heroic and all that shit. You'll totally want to have phone sex with me after that.”

“Well, we'll see,” said Martin, privately thinking that there was very little chance. “Good night, Tony.”

“Night, Spitfire,” said Tony, then hung up.

Martin set his phone down with a sigh and then rubbed at his ear a bit, trying to massage out the sensation of having a phone pressed to it for too long. Maybe he should think about using speaker phone in future as well.

****

Tony called Pepper the minute Martin was off the line.

“Am I doing anything tomorrow? Afternoon and evening?” he asked.

“You've got the meeting with the communications department at 3, and then it's Ronald Vickersons's retirement party in the evening,” she said. “Tony, you better not-”

“Cancel them both,” said Tony. “No, wait, move the communications guys to Friday. Tell Vickerson something came up, but keep it vague. Maybe hint at national security? Something top secret and-”

“Tony!” interrupted Pepper. “I'm not cancelling anything unless you tell me why. The communications meeting has already been moved four times.”

“Martin's going to be in Chicago,” said Tony. “Thought I'd surprise him.”

“No, he's not,” said Pepper. “I've been keeping track of MJN's schedule, remember? He's flying back to London tomorrow morning.”

Tony clicked his tongue. “Got to keep up-to-date, Pep. Things change fast in the cut-throat world of charter airlines, you know. C'mon, this is the first time he's been in the same country as me in weeks.”

She let out a long sigh. “Can't you at least take the communications meeting and then go after that?”

“Nope,” said Tony. “If I take that meeting, we won't have time to have sex before dinner.”

“Jesus, Tony,” she said with disgust. “Okay, fine, I'm rescheduling. You better keep the meeting on Friday, though.”

“Course,” said Tony cheerfully. “Well, unless aliens invade or a supervillain tries to kill me or anything.”

He hung up before she could start to argue about that and glanced at his watch. Late, but not middle-of-the-night late. “JARVIS, where's Cap?”

“Captain Rogers is currently in the kitchen with Agent Barton,” said JARVIS.

“Great,” said Tony, pulling off his work gloves and heading for the lift.

Steve was making hot cocoa while Clint watched him with the look of a man who'd prefer something stronger, but didn't know how to say no to Captain America. Tony treated him to a smirk as he poured himself a large whisky, and just got an eye roll in reply.

“Are you sure you wouldn't like cocoa instead?” asked Steve earnestly when he saw Tony's drink. “It's much better for you.”

“All that processed sugar and full-fat milk?” asked Tony. “Probably not. Look, I need a favour.”

Steve was immediately suspicious, which Tony found a bit hurtful, to be honest. As if he'd ever asked a favour that had caused trouble. Well, except for that time with the particle accelerator. Or the thing with the monkeys. Well, okay, he didn't ask for favours that caused trouble very often, anyway.

“I need the night off from Avengers stuff tomorrow,” he said. “I mean, unless there's an apocalypse or something big, but we had one of those last week so we shouldn't be due for another couple of months at least.”

“I didn't know we could get nights off,” said Clint. “Hey, can I have Friday off? My neighbours are having a barbecue.”

“This isn't the Neighbourhood Watch,” said Steve with enough exasperation for Tony to mentally award himself a high five for making him lose his legendary patience. “If we need you, we need you.”

“Yeah, but if you could squeak by without me, can you do that?” said Tony. “I'd really appreciate it.”

“Why?” asked Steve. “What is more important?”

“I bet it involves strippers,” said Clint. “Oh, hey, if it involves strippers, can I come with?”

“No strippers,” said Tony. Clint made a disappointed noise. “I've got a date.”

Was it still a date if Martin didn't know about it yet? Must be – it would be as soon as Martin did know, anyway. He and Martin had never really put words to what they were doing, but meeting someone with the express intention of having sex was- well, okay, that sounded less like a date and more like a booty call, but he wanted to talk to Martin as well. He wanted to flirt with him until he went that embarrassed pink colour, and he wanted to tell him all about the changes he'd made to the Quinjet, and he wanted to- well, okay, he also wanted to have sex with him. Rather a lot of sex, if they could fit it in. That was close enough to a date, right? Oh, he should totally take him to Nero's – that would definitely count as a date. Besides, Martin had known Tony for a while now and hadn't been taken somewhere fabulously expensive and filled with sickeningly rich people. That needed to be changed, or he'd begin to think he wasn't hanging out with Tony Stark at all, just some other tech-obsessed guy who wouldn't shut up about his inventions.

“A date?” repeated Clint. “Oh, let me guess – you've managed to get all the girls off this year's Playboy calendar in one place at the same time.”

“No,” said Tony. “Although I should point out that I did manage that in 2005, and it was incredible. This is- you remember Martin, right? He's flying into Chicago, and I'm gonna surprise him.”

There was a surprised silence. “You're seeing him again?” asked Clint. “He didn't really seem your type.”

“You really think I'm selfish enough to confine this to only one type?” asked Tony, gesturing down at himself. “Come on, give me some credit, man. You know I'm the caring, sharing type.”

Clint snorted and shook his head sadly. “So deluded,” he said. “We should probably get you some kind of professional help for that.”

Tony ignored him in favour of looking back at Steve, who was wearing a serious, thoughtful look. Tony gave him his most winning smile. “C'mon, Dad, let me stay out past curfew. I promise I'll be good.”

Steve snorted, and then half-shook his head. “Fine,” he said. “We'll only call on you if it's a true emergency.”

Tony beamed.

“And I get Friday, right?” asked Clint.

“Nope.” Steve took his cocoa and left the room.

Tony gave Clint the smuggest look he could. “Guess he likes me more than he likes you.”

Clint shook his head sadly. “You'd think I'd get points for drinking his cocoa.”

Tony toasted him with his whisky, and then went to tell Pepper that he'd need reservations at Nero's as well as his usual penthouse at the Peninsula. Time to treat Martin to a bit of the Stark glamour.

****

GERTI arrived in Chicago with a landing that was complicated by both a crosswind and Douglas's insistence that there was no need to follow recommended procedure to the letter. Martin was forced to take control from him in order to prevent unnecessary risks, which created a rather unpleasant atmosphere in the cabin.

The argument continued as they got off the plane, not helped by Carolyn's sarcastic little remarks about the bumpiness of the landing.

“Those kinds of guidelines are designed for pilots who can't trust their own intuition,” Douglas was saying as they crossed to the terminal building. “Pilots like you,” he added. “I, on the other hand, am perfectly capable of-”

He was cut off by Arthur.

“Oh, wow!” he exclaimed, staring at something behind them.

Martin glanced over his shoulder and immediately forgot all about the argument with Douglas. Iron Man was descending from the sky, watched by a handful of open-mouthed ground crew.

As soon as he was down, Tony flipped open his face plate and grinned at Martin. “S'up?” he asked.

“Tony,” said Martin, completely taken aback. “What are you doing here?” He glanced around. “There's not an emergency, is there?”

Tony rolled his eyes. “I'm here to see you, idiot,” he said. “You didn't think I'd let you come to the good ol' US of A and not pop over to see you?”

“Ah,” said Douglas in a cutting tone. “I suppose that explains why Sir was too distracted to land the plane using his own intuition.”

Martin spun and glared at him. “Relying on 'intuition' is what causes crashes, Douglas,” he said. “You may be arrogant enough to think that's a good idea, but while I am the Captain of GERTI - and I am the Captain, in case you'd forgotten - we'll do things by the rule book.”

“Oh yes, you're the Captain,” said Douglas. “And let us all remind ourselves why it is that you were promoted over me, because we all know it wasn't because of your superior flying skills.”

Martin felt himself go white, and then red. The very, very last thing he ever wanted Tony to find out about – and there was rather a long list – was that he wasn't paid. Douglas must know that.

“All right, boys,” said Carolyn. “That's quite enough testosterone for now.”

“Yeah, Martin, save your testosterone for me,” said Tony. “I'm sure we can think of a really good way to use it.” His voice was relaxed, but his eyes were flicking back and forth between Martin and Douglas as if he could see what was hidden behind their words.

Shit, thought Martin. He needed to distract Tony before he started thinking too hard about exactly why Martin might have been promoted over a more senior, more competent officer. Time for the one really obvious way to derail Tony's thoughts.

He took a stride towards Tony and pulled him into a long kiss, putting everything he could into it. When he pulled back, Tony's face had taken on a completely different expression.

“Yeah,” he said, and then cleared his throat. “Yeah, I'm on board with that. We need to get to the hotel.”

Martin couldn't hold in a grin at how easy that had been. “Definitely,” he agreed. “Carolyn, where are we staying?”

“Oh no,” said Tony. “I always stay in the Peninsula Hotel. Pepper reserved the penthouse suite.”

“Ah, so Sir will be luxuriating in splendour while the rest of us will be slumming it in whatever dive Carolyn has found for us,” said Douglas bitterly.

“Doesn't really seem fair, does it?” said Tony. “Tell you what, I'll get you all rooms at the Peninsula as well. That way you can bring Martin's luggage with you.”

“That's extremely kind of you,” said Carolyn, her eyes lighting up with the chance to save money.

“Why is Sir incapable of carrying his own luggage?” asked Douglas.

“Martin's going to be taking Iron Man Airways over to the hotel,” said Tony, giving Martin a beaming grin. “Come on, hold tight. The quicker we get there, the quicker we'll be able to have sex.”

Martin blinked at him, and then blindly handed his bag to Arthur and stepped onto Iron Man's feet, wrapping his arms around the suit as tightly as he could. “Just don't accelerate too fast,” he said. “I rather like the skin on my face where it is.”

“Course not,” said Tony. “Wouldn't want to blur your freckles.” He carefully powered them up into the sky and Martin felt his breath be taken away by the exhilaration of flying without anything surrounding him.

“I bet the CAA wouldn't approve of that method of flying,” Martin heard Douglas say as they left the rest of MJN below them, but he really didn't give a damn what Douglas thought right now. He was flying through the air with a superhero to an extremely expensive hotel, where they were going to have sex. Everything else suddenly seemed unimportant.

****

As Tony had expected, the sex was awesome. Let's face it, sex was almost always awesome, especially if Tony was involved in it – no point in false modesty, Tony was an expert at a whole bunch of things, and sex was most definitely one of them. Still, sex with Martin was definitely up at the top-end of the 'awesome scale', and not just because he was hot, and ginger, and had all those freckles. There was something really satisfying about the way that he became really, really competent in bed, once he'd got over his initial nerves. Tony was willing to bet that not a lot of people knew that Martin was really talented in several ways that made sex with him amazing.

So, what with one thing, and then another, and then a repeat of the first thing because it had been so damned incredible, it was a good couple of hours later before they were lying still in bed, Tony tracing his fingers over the freckles on Martin's shoulder and trying to convince himself that they didn't actually have to leave the bed ever again.

That wasn't going to work, though, if only because they had dinner reservations. Not that Tony really gave a crap about missing reservations, even at somewhere like Nero's where most people had to book months in advance, but he had a plan for this evening, and he wasn't about to let it get derailed this early.

Besides, he knew that if they stayed in bed much longer, he was going to start in on the new technical details of the Quinjet, and the poor guy had already sat through several hours of Tony monologuing about his inventions this week. And, okay, yeah, he always seemed happy about it and never did the thing people usually did, where they stopped Tony mid-spiel and pointed out that they had no idea what Tony was going on about, but Tony knew that his inventions weren't really interesting to people in that much technical detail. The only people who'd ever actually wanted to sit and listen to him talk about his projects were guys who then turned around and stole them – or tried to steal them, Tony had a fucking awesome legal team.

Martin wasn't going to do that – Tony was ninety-percent sure – and he seemed to genuinely like Tony, which was awesome, but he was probably expecting some Stark-treatment and not just Tony-rambling. After all, they'd hung out twice now but hadn't actually done anything that Martin couldn't have done with some other, poorer guy.

Hence, Nero's. Besides, that made it a proper date and not just an excuse for Tony to sleep with a hot ginger guy. And then they could come back to the hotel, have some more awesome sex, and maybe Martin would be happy to listen to Tony talk about the Quinjet then. Or maybe they'd just have sex, that would be cool too, Tony really liked sex with Martin, had he mentioned?

Tony pulled himself away from the constellations of freckles on Martin's chest and started to find the clothes that he'd been wearing under the Iron Man suit and that Martin had peeled him out of almost as soon as the hotel room door had shut behind them.

“Come on, get dressed,” he said.

“I thought you preferred me undressed,” said Martin, giving him a grin that made Tony want to abandon his plans and join him back in bed.

No, stick to the plan. This was a date, not a booty call.

“I most definitely do,” he said, “but the staff at Nero's, not to mention the other diners, probably wouldn't. Scratch that, no one could see you naked and not infinitely prefer it, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea for you to parade around in the buff. It's pretty cold out there and I wouldn’t want any of your important bits to freeze off. Plus, I don't really want to have to fight off the competition.”

“We're going to Nero's?” asked Martin, sitting up.

“Well, yeah,” said Tony. He'd mentioned it on the phone, hadn't he? That had actually been a part of the conversation, right, and not just a thought Tony had? Sometimes it was hard to tell. “I told you it was my favourite, didn't I? You'll love it – they do this beef thing with mushrooms, it's just incredible.”

“Tony, you know I can't really afford anything like that,” said Martin, still not moving to get dressed.

“And that's why I'll be paying,” said Tony. Well, obviously. Who actually paid for themselves when they went out with Tony Stark?

“You're already paying for the hotel room!” protested Martin. “As well as the ones for Carolyn, Douglas and Arthur. You can't-”

“Of course I can,” interrupted Tony. “Come on, Martin. Have dinner with me. Take advantage of the billionaire, come on, come on, don't make me beg, that's just undignified.”

“Oh, fine,” Martin said, finally reaching for his trousers. Tony grinned with satisfaction, even if part of him was sad to see all that skin get covered up again. He'd just have to peel all those layers off again later, that'd be fun.

****

Nero's was packed with the usual snobs and glitterati, all of whom homed in on Tony like sharks smelling blood in the water. Smelling money in the air, more likely. Tony put on his best public persona and shook a bunch of hands before they got to their table, introducing Martin to as many of them as possible. Well, the ones famous enough to impress, anyway. They got the best table in the place, naturally, and Tony ordered their most expensive champagne, which came out immediately. He was willing to bet they'd already had it waiting for him.

Martin took a sip from his glass and looked a bit over-whelmed, and Tony gave him a wide grin. This was it, the high life that everyone expected him to live all the time. Okay, so, most of the time now he just hung out in his workshop or watched movies with the Avengers, but that didn't mean he couldn't still pull out the glam for a guy like Martin. Welcome to being with Tony Stark, have some champagne, an over-priced canapé, and a chance to meet the elite of Chicago, who were not as impressive as the elite of New York, but that could wait until next time MJN flew there instead. Chicago had Kanye, at least, that was enough to make Martin’s eyes pop out when he came over for a fistbump with Tony.

“Told you the mushrooms were amazing,” said Tony as they dug into their food.

“Yeah, they're great,” said Martin, but he only seemed to be picking at it.

Tony frowned. “You okay?”

Before Martin could respond, yet another voice said, “Tony Stark! How wonderful to see you in Chicago. I do hope you're here as the CEO of Stark Industries and not as Iron Man. Not sure the city budget can stretch to clearing up after a super-powered fight at the moment.”

It was Mayor Willoughby. Christ, how was that guy still in public office? Tony turned and pinned on a smile for him. “I'm glad to say it's neither. Just here for pleasure,” he said. “Great to see you again, Mayor. How're the wife and kids?”

“Oh, great, great,” said Hamilton. “And all your, ah, people?”

“Oh, they're all great,” said Tony. “I mean, blowing things up, destroying stuff, beating up bad guys, all the usual crap. Hey, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Martin Crieff. Martin, this is Mayor Willoughby.”

The Mayor finally bothered to look at Martin, although his smile was definitely faked. He held out a hand to him. “A pleasure, a pleasure,” he said as Martin took it. “Any friend of Tony's, and all that, right?”

“Good to meet you,” said Martin, but he didn't sound like it was good. Tony gave him a careful look. He was kinda pale – was he ill or something? Christ, wouldn't that figure? Tony attempts to show the guy a good time, and instead it just makes him ill.

“Oh, you're British,” said the Mayor, sounding way more surprised he really needed to be.

“Martin's a pilot,” said Tony. “Only in town for one night – all that international jetsetter stuff that everyone seems to think I do. I should be so lucky – far too many board meetings in New York for me to be able to wander all over the globe.”

“A pilot?” asked the Mayor, looking Martin over. “Oh, so that's a real uniform?”

There was something nasty in his tone and Martin flushed. Oh, hell no. No-one got to upset Martin like that, especially not a guy who was running at least two mistresses.

“I'm glad to have run into you anyway, Tony,” continued the Mayor. “I heard you were thinking of expanding your-”

“Oh no,” said Tony, holding up a hand. “I'm not talking business tonight. C'mon, I'm trying to have dinner with a friend, here. Besides, I'm pretty sure we're going to put the new offices in St. Louis.”

The Mayor looked horrified, which served him right. “St. Louis? But-”

“No,” repeated Tony in a firmer voice. “Not right now. If you have any problem with that, email Pepper and I'm sure she'll be happy to delete your objections as irrelevant. Now, we're trying to eat.”

The Mayor gave them both an infuriated look. “Yes, I'm sure that your companion is finding the experience a novelty,” he said snidely, then swept away.

“Wow,” said Tony. “Now the new offices are definitely going to St. Louis. Remind me to email Pepper about that later.”

****

Martin looked at the remains of his meal and thought he might be sick if he ate another bite of it. He could feel the eyes of half the people in the restaurant on him, all of them wondering who he was and what he was doing with Tony Stark. What was he doing with Tony Stark? He was nothing, really: barely even a pilot, living in that awful attic room, close to the poverty line, surrounded by students who could never remember his name.

“Okay, so, you were telling me about Mr. Birling,” said Tony, pouring himself another generous glass of wine and topping up the glass Martin had barely touched. “Seriously, why do you put up with a dick like that?”

Because I need the money, thought Martin. Because I'm so poor that I need to grovel to awful people just to be able to pay all my bills. Tony had no idea what that was like, though. How could Martin even begin to try and explain it? He and Tony were in two completely different worlds – he was an idiot to think they could ever bridge the gap.

“I don't think-” he said, and then made the mistake of looking up. On the table behind Tony, a woman wearing enough diamonds to pay off all of MJN's debts was giving him a sharply disapproving look, as if she could see the word POOR stamped on his forehead. He couldn't take any more of this. “I'm not feeling very well. I think I'm just going to go back to the hotel.”

Tony frowned at him. “You have gone a bit Casper,” he said. “Yeah, let's go.” He waved a hand at a waiter, who immediately scurried over.

“Oh no,” said Martin. “You don't have to ruin your evening as well.”

“Don't be ridiculous,” said Tony. “Check, please,” he said to the waiter, who nodded and hurried off again. “Why on earth would I want to hang out here on my own? Besides, Claudia Pinkerton is just over there and she's looking like she's about to pounce. Definitely time to leave, or I'll have to write out a check for whatever pretentious exhibition she's about to put on next.”

Martin couldn't argue with that, so he just nodded and kept quiet as Tony paid for their meals – most of which Martin hadn't even touched. It felt like a shocking waste of money, but he really couldn't stomach sitting here any longer, having it rubbed in just how completely out-of-place he was.

By the time they got back to the hotel, Martin was beginning to feel really down. This wasn't going to work. He'd let himself start to believe it would because he and Tony got on so well over the phone, but it was one thing to be able to chat about aviation together and quite another to be able to fit into each other's lives. There was no way he would ever be comfortable in the kind of life that Tony took for granted, and the idea of Tony ever even seeing how he lived was enough to make him feel nauseous.

Tony gave him a concerned look. “I can't believe you managed to get food poisoning at Nero's,” he said. “Do you want me to have the chef fired?”

“No,” said Martin. “No, it's fine. It's not food poisoning. I'm probably just tired – it was a long flight. Or maybe it was the meal on the flight – Arthur's not always very good at following the instructions, you know.”

“Right,” said Tony. “Well, do you want me to get Reception to send anything up? Pepto or something?”

The last thing Martin wanted was Tony to pay for anything else for him. He shook his head firmly. “I'll be fine,” he said. “I'll just sit down for a bit, I'm sure I'll feel fine after that.”

“You don't want to go straight to bed?” asked Tony.

Martin had a very strong feeling that this was the last time he and Tony would ever hang out together. He didn't want it to end with an early night. “Tell me about the changes to the Quinjet's wings,” he said instead.

A brief look of confusion passed over Tony's face and then was swept away. “You sure? I mean, I kinda bored you to death about it a lot already.”

“It wasn't boring,” said Martin. “It was fascinating. All your aviation design is fascinating. Besides, I've been trying to work out what you've changed since you mentioned it the other night – you can't leave me guessing.”

Tony's face relaxed into a grin. “Okay, fine, hang on, let me get some paper and I'll sketch it for you. Can't have you accusing me of being a tease, right?”

It only took fifteen minutes for Martin to forget all about the awful, snobbish people in the restaurant and the certainty that he and Tony had too many differences. He got completely carried away in the changes Tony had made, trying to understand the genius behind it enough to provide more feedback than, “Wow, that sounds brilliant.” He didn't want to sound too much like Arthur, after all.

This is it, he thought as Tony sketched out the new wing design. This was how they fitted together – as friends with one main thing in common. As long as they focused on that, they were fine. Martin would just have to find some way to let Tony know that he would have to do the expensive, glamorous things like the restaurant last night with one of his other friends. Or, actually, if last night was any indication, he could probably go on his own and still end up with a table full of people, all eager and pleased to be there. Martin was just never going to be one of them.

****

Tony lost track of time in the rush of explaining precisely how the new design worked to Martin, and getting to revel in his impressed reactions. It wasn't until he glanced at the clock and realised that two hours had passed and Martin was still as completely engaged in the conversation as Tony was that he began to suspect he'd been wrong earlier. Martin didn't look at all ill now, kneeling on the bed surrounded by the bits of paper Tony had been sketching his designs on and asking hundreds of questions. And not just any questions, the kind of questions that meant he understood at least some of what Tony was trying to do, and that he desperately wanted to understand the rest. It was kinda heady, actually. He couldn't remember the last time someone had let him talk for so long about one of his designs, and he certainly couldn't remember anyone having been as engaged in it as this. All his other friends would have glazed over ages ago and changed the subject with varying levels of subtlety.

“You know,” he said in a slow drawl, “we've been on this bed for two hours now, and we're still both fully dressed. We stay like this for much longer and it's going to dent my reputation.”

Martin blinked as if just realising the passage of time himself, and then gave a tiny smile that Tony really, really wanted to kiss off his face. “Can't have that,” he said. “Tell you what, how about I take a few layers off?”

“Might be for the best,” said Tony. “If this gets back to the other Avengers, they might start thinking I've been replaced by an alien clone or a robot simulation or something, and then they'd try and kill me, and the Quinjet will never get built.”

“For the future of aviation design then,” said Martin, and started to unbutton his shirt.

Tony grinned and pounced, ignoring the sound of paperwork being crumpled beneath them. Maybe the rest of the date hadn't gone so well, but he was going to make damned sure the sex did. Only seemed fair to Martin, after all.

****

They didn't actually get around to clearing the paper off the bed until afterwards, by which time most of it was pretty much trashed. Tony swept it all off onto the floor for the maid to deal with later.

Then he crawled back into bed with Martin, slung an arm around his waist, and let himself fall asleep. It was pretty early for him but if he got a few hours now, that meant he'd be able to wake up in time to have sex with Martin again before he had to leave for the airport. That was something worth getting an early night for.

He woke up the next morning to a noise he couldn't identify. When he blinked his eyes open, he was met by a bizarre sight.

“What're you-?” he mumbled. “Jesus, are you ironing?”

“Yes,” said Martin, setting down a tiny iron that – Christ, was that a travel iron? Tony tried to remember if he'd ever actually seen anyone ironing before, and drew a blank. Clothes just turned up, washed and pressed, in his wardrobe. “Well, someone just dumped my shirt in a heap on the floor last night.”

“Someone was more preoccupied with getting to what's inside your clothes,” said Tony, rubbing at his face and then pulling himself up against the headboard. “In fact, someone still is. Leave that and come here. We've got time for a quicky before you have to go, right?”

“I can't turn up with my shirt like this,” said Martin, continuing to iron. “It wouldn't be professional.”

“Jesus, did you just turn down sex with me in favour of domestic tasks?” asked Tony. “What am I doing wrong? Come on, come here, I want to see if I can get the blush to go all the way down this time.”

Martin shook his head and just kept ironing which, frankly, was a bit of a blow to Tony's ego. Come on, seriously, who turned down sex with him in favour of ironing? The hell?

“Jesus,” he said. “Next time, we're giving your shirt to the hotel staff to press.”

Martin paused. “Yeah, about that,” he said, and that was not a good tone of voice. In fact, that was probably the worst tone of voice – all serious and tentative, this was not going to be at all good. “Look,” said Martin, “I don't want to be ungrateful – it's been great seeing you – but I don't- you can't do this again.”

Tony froze. What had he done wrong? He'd been trying pretty hard, he couldn't have gone wrong already. He'd not got wasted and abandoned Martin anywhere, or tried to feed him anything he was allergic to, or any of the usual crap that got him into trouble.

“Do what?”

“This,” said Martin again, which really wasn't any help at all. His forehead was drawn with unhappiness and Tony felt a sick feeling sinking into his guts, one he immediately tried to ignore. He really should have seen this coming – Martin was way too much of a normal guy to be able to handle all the bullshit that came along with Tony everywhere.

“It's- paying for everyone's rooms, and dinner in that restaurant, with all those people watching us, and just- all that,” said Martin. “I mean, I'm sorry, I don't mean to be ungrateful, it was really nice of you, it's just too much. I much prefer just talking to you on the phone – no, that sounds awful, I like seeing you as well, of course I do, particularly when we have sex – not that that's the only reason I like seeing you! I had fun last night before the sex, when we were just talking, but not at the restaurant, that was too- Um. Do you get what I mean?”

It was probably a good thing Tony was a genius, he thought as he went back through the ramble trying to pick out exactly what Martin was saying. He hadn't liked the restaurant, that was ridiculous, who didn't like Nero's? Unless it wasn't the food he hadn't liked, it was the company, but he'd said he liked just hanging out with- Oh. Oh, he liked hanging out with him, but not going on dates with him. That had been Martin's attempt at the 'can we just be friends' speech. Actually, given the mention of sex, it was more like the 'can we just be friends with benefits' speech. Which was fine, cool, awesome. Tony liked being friends with Martin, and he definitely liked having sex with him, so that was all good.

And if he was sickeningly disappointed, there was no way Martin needed to know that. Tony plastered on a smile. “Yeah, okay, got it,” he said. “No more-” His phone started to ring with the special Avengers ringtone and he cut himself off to answer it.

“Are you kidding me?” he asked without waiting for a response. “Are you actually kidding me? I had the night off! That definitely includes this time of the morning as well.”

“Clint's been taken,” said Steve tersely. “Something we haven't yet identified just snatched him up during his morning run.”

“Okay,” said Tony slowly. That sounded like an average Thursday and not really worth giving up his chance of getting Martin into bed for some friends-with-benefits sex before he left. “Well, I guess it's his turn for a kidnapping – makes a change from me – but can't the rest of you handle this? Just for a few hours?”

“Thor was with him and tried to stop it, but he said it didn't even slow down when he hit it with Mjolnir.”

That silenced Tony for a split-second. “Okay, two questions,” he said, getting out of bed and looking around for wherever his clothes had ended up last night. “What the hell is powerful enough to stand against Thor, and why the hell would anything that powerful want Clint? I mean, seriously – Clint?”

“We're looking into it as quickly as we can, but we need you back here,” said Cap.

“Yeah, yeah, I'm coming now,” said Tony. “I'll be there as quickly as I can.”

He found his pants and started to pull them on as he hung up on Steve. He gave Martin a rueful look. “I'm really sorry, I know this is a bad time to just take off, but this is really important.”

Martin had paused at some point during the conversation with the iron in mid-air. “No, that's – I completely understand. I hope Hawk- Clint is okay.”

Tony finished pulling on his clothes and picked up the suitcase suit. This was why penthouse suites were the best – nice big terraces that you could launch yourself off. This one had a hot tub, damn it, why hadn’t he remembered that earlier, when he could have got Martin in it? “Oh, he'll be fine. He'll probably end up winding this thing up so much that it'll just send him straight back.”

He hesitated, wanting to kiss Martin goodbye, but it didn't seem likely that Martin would want that. That was probably crossing the line between dating and friends. Instead, he gave him a grin that felt off-kilter. “I'll call you,” he said. “Not in a 'I'm just saying this to get out of the room, I'm never going to call and we both know that' way, I mean, I'll actually call you.”

“Yes, good,” said Martin, nodding rather quickly several times.

Tony took one last look at him – shirtless and ironing, Jesus, he still couldn't get over the ironing – then went out onto the balcony, activated the suit, and sped off to rescue Clint from whatever big bad had decided it needed a sarcastic archer in its private collection.

****

Martin was down in the lobby before any of the others. He'd felt awkward staying in that palatial room by himself, and once he'd ironed his shirt, had a shower and tidied up the mess of papers that Tony had left behind, it hadn't really felt like there was any reason to stay.

As he sat there, he watched the kind of people who could afford to stay in a place like this pass him by, all smug and rich and completely out of his class. Just like Tony was. He'd known that from the start, known that the only reason he'd got that night with him in Mafikeng was because there had been no-one else there, and nothing better to do. That they'd seen each other again and managed to forge a friendship out of the scant handful of things in common they had, well, that was a gift that he really shouldn't be examining too closely. He definitely shouldn't be ungrateful enough to want more. Tony could have anyone in the world, there was no way in hell he was going to want something serious with someone who took seven goes to get his CPL.

No, it was like being the Captain at MJN. Martin had got almost all of his wish to become a airline captain come true, he couldn't quibble over a couple of details like the size of the company, or whether or not he got paid. He was friends with Tony Stark – Tony Stark! The creator of some of the most innovative aviation design since the Wright brothers! - and even got to have sex with him. He shouldn't be disappointed because he wasn't ever going to go out with him properly; that was just expecting far too much from his life.

“Hey Skip!” said Arthur, bounding up to him excitedly. “Did you have a good night? This hotel is brilliant! Did you get chocolate on your pillow too?”

Martin pulled himself out of his funk. He had a vague memory of chocolate being swept aside as he and Tony had tumbled into bed the moment they'd arrived yesterday. God only knew what had happened to it after that. “Yes,” he said.

“Arthur, light of my life, please calm down,” said Carolyn. “It is a long fight home, and it will only seem infinitely longer if you're bouncing around like a hyperactive puppy.”

“Sorry, Mum,” said Arthur, still bouncing on his toes. Martin suppressed a sigh. This really was going to be a long flight, and he still had that van job afterwards. He was willing to bet that most people who woke up next to Tony Stark didn't have this sort of day afterwards.

****

Tony didn't call him over the next few days. Well, that was fair, wasn't it? People didn't usually call their friends that often and he was probably busy with whatever Avengers thing he'd had to rush off for. Martin couldn't help thinking of the conversation they'd been having just before the phone call though, and hoping that Tony wasn't angry with him about it. Or maybe he'd decided that he didn't really need a friend who didn't want to go and do the things he liked doing, like talking to celebrities and spending ridiculous amounts on a meal.

MJN were flying to Venice later in the day, but Martin arrived at the airport early to get some paperwork done and because, frankly, the portacabin that served as their office was slightly less depressing to be in than his room, especially as the student with the room below him had decided that hardcore garage music was a good revision soundtrack.

He didn't really manage to concentrate on the paperwork as much as he wanted to. Instead, he found himself drifting off into daydreams whilst staring at the shiny Starkphone Tony had given him, the one which had more gadgets and apps than he knew how to use.

“Hello, Skip!” said Arthur, coming inside. “You're early today.”

“Tariq's music was driving me mad,” said Martin.

“Oh right,” said Arthur. “Is that why you've been so sad over the last few days?”

Martin startled. “Sad? I haven't been sad.”

“Then why have you been staring into space while looking miserable?” asked Arthur. “I only do that when I'm sad.”

The problem with Arthur was that sometimes, just sometimes, he was frighteningly perceptive.

“It's not...” Martin started, and then looked at Arthur's open, helpful face. Well, if he was going to confide in someone, Arthur might actually be a good choice. Or, at least, not the worst choice. “Tony and I had a- not a fight, it wasn't a fight, it was just-”

“Was it a you-being-wrong?” asked Arthur.

“No,” said Martin. “It was just a, a difference of opinion, I suppose. Or maybe just a difference in personality.”

“Sounds complicated,” said Arthur. “Do you want to tell me about it? Talking usually helps, you know, and I promise not to say anything to Douglas or Mum if you don't want me to.”

Martin took a deep breath. “Well, it's just that – you know he's very rich, and I'm, well, not.”

“Yes,” said Arthur.

“Well, he took me to this really expensive restaurant, with all these posh people who just looked at me like – like Mr. Birling does, as if I was scum who shouldn't be there. So I told him I didn't really want to go with him to places like that again, and he seemed okay with that, but now he hasn't called in ages and I just- I don't know. I'm probably being silly.”

Arthur was silent for a moment. “So, he took you on a date, but you didn't like where you went? Well, why don't you just suggest somewhere different for your next date?”

“It wasn't a date,” said Martin. “We're just friends. It was just dinner like when we all go to dinner.”

“That only happens when we've flown somewhere and don't know anyone else,” said Arthur. “And we don't all have sex afterwards. Well, I never do, I don't know if you and Douglas-”

“No!” interrupted Martin very, very quickly. “No, we don't – there's never any sex. Just....no.”

Arthur nodded. “Well then, there you go. It was a date.”

“Sex doesn't always mean you're dating, Arthur,” said Martin tiredly. “Sometimes you're just having fun together.”

“I know,” said Arthur. “But usually that doesn't involve dinner first. I'm sorry, Skip, I still don't get why it wasn't a date. He flew all the way to Chicago to see you, he took you to a posh restaurant and then you went back to a hotel room and had sex. Where's the difference?”

“It's,” said Martin, and then realised he had no idea how to end the sentence. Had it been a date? He remembered Tony putting his hand on the small of Martin's back as they'd left, and how he'd smiled at him as he'd raised his glass of champagne. Bugger, it had been a date. Had it? And Martin had told him he didn't want to do it again.

No, no, this was too insane, Tony Stark wouldn't have gone on a date with Martin, he dated film stars and glamour models, not impoverished pilots.

“You know, I think you should call him,” said Arthur. “Even if you are just friends, it sounds like you need to talk to him. Talking always helps.”

“I- yes,” said Martin, feeling dazed. Now that Arthur had planted the idea, he couldn't shake the thought that he had been on date with Tony Stark and made a complete pig's ear of it. “I'm just going to- Um. I'll be back in a bit.”

He grabbed his phone and headed off to his van, where he could get some privacy. It took him nearly five minutes of staring at his phone before he managed to find the courage to hit the call button. When it started ringing, he almost hung up again out of panic, but Tony picked up before he could talk himself out of it.

“Captain Spitfire! How's it going?”

“Uh, fine,” said Martin. “Good, it's good. How are you?”

“Oh, just fabulous,” said Tony in the blithe way that meant something was probably on fire. Martin strained his ears, but all he could hear in the background was a faint beeping and what sounded like strong wind.

“Is this a bad time? I can call back.”

“Oh no, hell no,” said Tony. “It's always a good time for you, seriously.”

“Well, okay,” said Martin. “I really just wanted to ask you something quickly, not a big thing but, um, it's a bit silly, so if you could just answer without, you know, judging me or anything. Please.”

“O-kay,” said Tony slowly. “Sounds kinda ominous, but go ahead. Shoot.”

“Right,” said Martin, and then stopped. God, was he really going to ask this? It was ridiculous.

There was a banging sound from Tony's end, then some swearing and a burst of distant shouting.

“What's going on?” asked Martin.

“Nothing,” said Tony. “It's all fine. What did you want to ask? Come on, no judgement, hit me with it.”

“Right,” said Martin, then took a deep breath. “I was wondering – the other night, when we went to dinner together was that, ah, was that a date? Or just two friends having dinner because one of them liked the restaurant? Which is fine, just fine, if it is, either way., I just wanted to-”

Tony cut through his babble, which was probably a good thing. “Yeah,” he said. “I mean, yeah, it was a date. Did you seriously not realise that, because I thought that would be pretty self-evident, given, you know, all the sex.”

“Oh,” said Martin, gobsmacked. He wasn't sure if he was more shocked that Tony Stark had taken him on a date and he hadn't realised it, or that Arthur had been right. Either seemed pretty incredible. “I just- I didn't realise. There can be sex without dating, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Tony. “I definitely know, there are legions of people who will assure you that I know that one, but it doesn't involve-” There was a sudden fast beeping noise, and his voice cut out for a moment. He swore distantly, there was a strange whooshing noise, and then he carried on as if nothing had happened, “-me paying for dinner at somewhere like Nero's.”

“I'm an idiot,” said Martin. “I'm sorry, I didn't realise.”

“You are an idiot,” agreed Tony, although he sounded amused. “What did you think was going on? And, hey, what did you mean about not wanting to do it again, then?”

Martin had to suppress the desire to slap his forehead against the dashboard of his car. “I didn't like the restaurant,” he said. “All those people, all of them looking at me, wondering why someone who wearing the cheapest pilot's uniform that Carolyn could find on eBay was there. And you were paying for the hotel rooms, and-”

“And you hate being made to feel like a charity case,” finished Tony. “Yeah, I remember. My bad, I guess, I'd forgotten about that.”

“I'm sorry,” said Martin, feeling miserable. Had he screwed up his chance? Was there some way to convince Tony to give him another try? If it was an actual, real date with Tony, then Martin would put up with going to anywhere he wanted to go, even if everyone else there thought he was a pauper. “I'm just really bad at this kind of thing.”

Tony started laughing. “Oh god, we're screwed,” he said. “I'm fucking shocking at it – ask Pepper. Hell, ask anyone who's ever met me. Maybe we should get outside input on it – JARVIS, got any ideas?”

The smooth voice of JARVIS broke into the conversation. “Analysis suggests that a warhead impacting directly onto the creature's eye might damage the creature enough to allow Thor's hammer strokes to have some impact.”

Wait, what?

Tony sighed while Martin was still trying to work out what that meant. “No, smartass, I meant on the dating thing.”

There was a brief pause, and then JARVIS spoke again. “Most of the sources in my data banks indicate that communication is the key to success.”

“What a minute,” interrupted Martin. “Tony, are you fighting something right now? As we're talking?”

“Ah, yeah,” said Tony. “We managed to get Clint back – he'd been taken by some evil alien emperor dude, although God knows why. Possibly he needed a new court jester. Anyhow, he was pissed that he'd lost his new pet, so he sent this thing after us. We've mostly got it contained.”

“Mostly?” repeated Martin incredulously. “Tony! Why the hell did you answer the phone? You should be concentrating on not getting killed!”

“Martin, this is the first time you've ever called me, instead of the other way round. Like hell was I going to let it ring out, and risk you never trying again.”

“If you get killed because you're talking to me, I'll never have the chance to!” said Martin. “I'm hanging up. Call me when you've defeated it and you're somewhere safe.”

“It's fine,” Tony started to insist, but Martin ignored him in favour of hitting the hang up button. Christ, what kind of a person had a relationship talk while fighting some kind of alien monster?

Relationship talk. Oh god, apparently he was actually having a relationship with Tony Stark, complete with dates and all that kind of thing. Martin couldn't tell if he was more terrified or elated by the prospect.

He went back to the portacabin to find Douglas and Carolyn had arrived while he was gone. Arthur's head immediately swivelled towards him with an eager expression.

“How’d it go, Skip?”

Martin made a rueful face. “You were right,” he said.

“I was?” said Arthur. “Brilliant! I never get to be right! And double brilliant for you! Unless you didn't want-”

“No, no, I wanted,” said Martin quickly. “I just didn't think I'd get.” He looked at his phone for a moment, at the backdrop Tony had preloaded of a Spitfire in flight. “I definitely want.”

“Should one ask?” said Douglas.

Martin gave an embarrassed shrug. “Apparently Tony and I are dating,” he said.

There was a resounding lack of surprise from either Douglas or Carolyn, and he wondered how he was always the last to know things, even when they were about his personal life.

****

By the time Tony called back, MJN had flown to Venice and Martin was in the line at passport control.

“Are you okay?” he answered the phone without bothering with a greeting. He'd spent most of the flight in a state of anxiety that maybe this time Iron Man wouldn't make it through the battle unscathed. It had slowly begun to dawn on him that he was dating someone who put their life in danger on a regular basis. “Did you beat it?”

“Chill, I'm fine,” said Tony. “Bad guy defeated, day saved, good guys all able to go home in one piece. I just didn't think there was any point in calling while you were in the air – there's no way Captain Spitfire would risk the safety of his plane by using a cell, right?”

Martin huffed a breath. “Well, no,” he admitted. “The instruments on GERTI are delicate enough without forcing them to try and cope with a mobile signal.”

“Exactly,” said Tony. “Plus, this way I've gone through all the pointless debriefing and poking from medics and now I can give you my full attention.”

“Medics?” asked Martin. “I thought you said you were fine?”

“I am, they just like to fuss,” said Tony. “I bounced off a couple of buildings, that's all. Picked up a bruise or two, maybe a cut. Nothing to worry about.”

Martin frowned. “Is JARVIS there?” he asked.

“Yes, Captain Crieff,” said the voice of the AI.

“Is he lying to me?”

“Oh, good grief,” muttered Tony. “Why does everyone trust a computer over me?”

“Mr. Stark is being rather casual with his use of language, but he is essentially correct,” said JARVIS. “The bruises cover 73% of his left shoulder, and the cut necessitated three stitches.”

“Traitor,” said Tony. “C'mon, I built you. Whatever happened to loyalty to your creator?”

“Tony,” said Martin through gritted teeth. “Please don't lie to me about your health. I want to be able to trust you.”

Tony was silent for a moment, and then sighed. “Yeah, okay,” he said. “I'm mainly fine, though. My shoulder hurts, but it's not major. After I've talked to you I'm going to get some sleep – we didn't actually manage any sleep last night, what with running around alien palaces looking for Hawkeye, and taking out weird shadow monster things.”

“Okay,” said Martin. “That sounds like a good idea. I should probably let you get straight on with that.”

“No,” said Tony. “Not yet, we need to finish our chat from earlier. I figured, as my first attempt went so badly, I should ask you out for another date, but this time actually, you know, ask. So, yeah. Do you want to go out with me, on a date, some time?”

It felt as if Martin's lungs were filling up with helium, leaving him feeling lighter than air and rather dizzy. “I- yes,” he said immediately. “Yes, of course. Yes.”

“Okay, awesome,” said Tony, and Martin could hear the grin in his voice. “We'll have to work our schedules out, then. Are you coming to America again soon? Or I can come there – you said you didn't like Nero’s, you can show me where you like to go, I could totally fly over in the suit, wouldn't take-”

“No,” said Martin quickly. Tony going to Fitton was only going to end with him expecting to be taken back to Martin's home, and he couldn't bear that, not yet. Not ever, if he thought there was any way he could get away with avoiding it. “We're, let me think. We're flying to LA in a couple of weeks. Can you meet me there?”

“Yes!” said Tony. “Perfect – we can stay at my Malibu house, and I know plenty of places to eat near there. Somewhere less fancy and filled with idiots. Yeah, I can do that, not a problem.”

“Great,” said Martin with a smile. “That sounds great.”

“Awesome,”” said Tony. “Well, okay, JARVIS is beginning to dim the lights as a really unsubtle hint that I should be sleeping, so unless you want to finally have that go at phone sex, I guess I should get some sleep.”

“I'm in the middle of an airport,” said Martin, glad he had an excuse.

“Damn,” said Tony. “Well, okay then. I'll call you later, when I'm awake. Good night. Or morning, or what-the-hell-ever-time it is where you are. I'm not even sure I know what the time is here.”

“Good afternoon,” said Martin. “And sleep well.”

He hung up, then couldn't help rubbing his thumb over the inscription that said Starkphone.

“You look like the cat who didn't just get the cream, but also the rest of the pudding,” observed Douglas.

Martin considered for a moment. “Yes, I rather feel like it.”

Douglas let out a melodramatic sigh. “Ah, is there anything more beautiful than the love between a pilot obsessed with planes and a man who spends large amounts of his time pretending to be one? I suppose a man who flies is the ultimate fantasy date for you.”

Martin stubbornly refused to let Douglas’s digs get to him. He was dating Tony Stark, who was apparently happy to ignore just how inept Martin clearly was at this whole thing.

Douglas was going to have to try a lot harder to ruin his good mood.