Title: The Untold
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Rating: T / FRT
Characters: J.A.R.V.I.S., James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Tony Stark (Iron Man). (Mentioned: Pepper Potts.)
Pairing: Rhodey/Tony (although not really); Pepper/Tony (implied/off-screen)
Summary: This is the one they’ll never tell Pepper about. Not because she wouldn’t understand, but because she might think it’s a ‘thing’.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Written for: My card on Trope Bingo’s round 3 (square: “celebratory kiss”)
Warnings: Impromptu M/M kiss, language, canonical violence.
Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras-fire)
About The Untold: I write Tony & Rhodey too rarely – whether it’s friendship, a team-up or something of a more intimate nature. So, here I have something in all of the above categories.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
It was Rhodey’s first time out since the Iron Patriot was discarded and War Machine was back in the game. It was also the first real mission he and Tony did together, and if truth be told, there was a reason why War Machine was teaming up with Iron Man for this one: the fight was brutal.
The tech their opponents – an insurgency group mostly made up of mercenaries – were using was more advanced than mere Soviet-era purchases, leading Tony to suspect the involvement of the remaining branches of A.I.M. or some other contributor he would later look to pin down.
If they got out of this one.
Tony had upgraded Rhodey’s armor after stripping every last A.I.M. component from it – for safety reasons, as well as for both their peace of mind – and Rhodey was satisfied with all the new additions; he had told Tony to keep his fancy little gadgets to a minimum and for once his friend had listened, taking off the bells and whistles and just leaving the essential things Rhodey needed.
All his firepower wasn’t winning them this fight, though, and Tony’s chest plate was so scarred, charred, and dented it couldn’t be healthy. Rhodey wasn’t sure if he was imagining it, but there was a hitch in Tony’s breathing he could hear even over the comm.
“J.A.R.V.I.S., missiles,” Tony ordered after being knocked down again.
“The targeting system is still rebooting –”
“Just give me manual control!”
“Sir, that is very unadvisable, given the fact that –”
Tony yelled, either from frustration or the fact that a bowling ball-sized explosive round hit him, vaporizing everything within a ten-foot radius and sending a blast wave outwards, almost taking Rhodey down with it.
“Tony!” he shouted, unable to see whether the other’s armor had withstood the explosion or not. Before, Rhodey had been in close proximity to another one of those things and he was very likely to be suffering from a mild concussion afterwards, even though the armor had kept him alive.
There was no response and Rhodey’s concern steadily grew – then out from the dust shot a single blue line, like a five-inch wide laser, cutting through one of the armored vehicles – and straight into the container of unused weapons behind it.
The explosion that followed sent Rhodey’s ears ringing even with the helmet muting most of it. Earth, metal and bodies flew in every direction. Rhodey rolled around, unable to stabilize himself, then landed hard on something more unyielding than the ground. A few seconds later, a smoking wreckage of a car landed on top of him, threatening to wind him even through the suit.
Rhodey decided to just breathe for a bit, to let everything settle, and then go out to search for Tony.
Tony would be fine…
“Hey, Rhodes,” his friend’s voice called out eventually, the comm a little scratchy but still making the words audible.
“You okay, man?” Rhodey asked, feeling like coughing. It was possible there was a breach in the suit and he was inhaling smoke, which would explain the burn in his lungs, nose, and eyes.
“Considering…” Tony started.
“It would be polite to just answer Colonel Rhodes, under the circumstances,” J.A.R.V.I.S. butted in.
“I’m fine,” Tony said a bit icily. “I’ll be better once you move that car, just saying.”
Rhodey blinked, then realized that the unyielding thing he had fallen on was actually Tony in his armor. He could not see the other man’s face through his smudgy faceplate and the in-helmet view had disappeared on his HUD, but it was nevertheless a good kind of surprise to have him so close by and still talking.
With a grunt, Rhodey shoved the car away, then braced himself above Tony. “I think…” he started, trying to take a look around to see if anyone else was still standing.
“We won,” Tony declared. “Metal suits beat body armor and combat vehicles every time.”
Rhodey couldn’t help chuckling, the post-battle adrenaline rush starting to course through him. They had made it… He knelt down, straddling Tony’s armored legs, his body feeling stiff. A possible culprit was damaged armor joints, but he also knew both of them would be covered in bruises after this fight. “Tony?” he asked out loud.
“Yeah?” the other replied, struggling to sit up.
Rhodey flipped up the faceplate, somewhat surprised he could still do that. Tony did the same, the metal pulling back to show his face. There was blood dripping down from his forehead, his nose and cheeks stained with it. Rhodey knew not to fear the worst since even small wounds could make a mess and sweat never helped matters.
“What?” Tony asked again, and Rhodey wondered what he had wanted to ask him in the first place. Looking at him now, bloody and sweaty, both their armors creaking at the seams and faintly sparking in places…
There was no one else in the world who understood this moment; not the Avengers or the soldiers in the battlefield, because this was an unique experience and Rhodey was scared and glad at the same time that Tony was the one in the other suit. His best friend…
Before Rhodey realized he was doing it, he had grabbed Tony’s head between his gauntlets and kissed him, their helmets getting a little in the way yet there was nothing to block the touch of lips, salt, copper and fine dust clinging to them afterwards.
Tony never called him by his first name – not unless something was really wrong.
Rhodey jerked back, blinking, the rush of victory fading slightly. “I’m –”
“Don’t be,” Tony deflected quickly. “Don’t be sorry.”
Rhodey nodded jerkily, feeling a bit wild all of a sudden. “You can’t tell Pepper,” was the first thing he said, almost unconsciously, and Tony’s lips pursed briefly before he guffawed a laugh – then grew very serious.
“Rhodey, it’s okay,” Tony reassured, facial muscles still jumping a bit with barely contained mirth – and possibly something else, but Tony was probably feeling the post-mission jitters, too.
“Promise me,” Rhodey demanded, wanting to shake Tony but suddenly afraid of touching him for fear that the other man would read it the wrong way. A fist-fight was the last thing they needed.
“My lips are sealed, although I wouldn’t worry too much; she’s an understanding woman. In fact –”
“That might be an even bigger problem,” Rhodey realized. They were all close friends, even more so after Tony built his first armor in the cave, and she might think too much of it.
Tony nodded and tilted his head. “J.A.R.V.I.S.,” he said, tone just a little different when he spoke to his AI.
“Yes, sir?” The comm was still open, J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice clear in Rhodey’s ears.
“Not a word to Miss Potts,” Tony ordered.
“Of the impromptu celebratory kiss between you and Colonel Rhodes?”
“My lips are sealed.”
Rhodey trusted the AI’s promise more than he did Tony’s, but then the other man clasped his shoulder, firmly enough that Rhodey felt it through the armor, and he knew this wasn’t going to fuck up their friendship.
Knowing that the moment had passed, Rhodey closed his faceplate and hoisted himself to his feet, helping Tony do the same. They both swayed slightly – but not badly enough to warrant Tony leaning his head against Rhodey’s as they caught their balance, briefly, like he was still in that weird headspace where it was okay for them to kiss, no matter how inconvenient it might be later.
Rhodey turned to see whether there were any more bad guys for them to beat up. It would take his mind off the whole kissing business – not to mention Tony, who always had the habit of clinging onto the things that Rhodey would rather forget.
Not that he really wanted to forget this sense of togetherness he rarely experienced even with the other air force pilots; the sense of something raw and powerful and unique that only the two of them got to share.