Tony stood up because it seemed like he should have been standing up for this sort of thing and he tugged at his shirt and felt awkward standing in front of Rhodey when he hadn’t ever really felt awkward standing in front of anyone in years and definitely not since he became Iron Man. “Pepper thinks we’re dating.”
It was like fission down his spine the relief and the disappointment that couldn’t settle which was the more powerful. Tony shifted on his feet with a smile plastered on his face and shrugged with a short lift and fall of his shoulders. “You never stopped looking for me.” And Rhodey went quiet. “You probably should have. I don’t even know what it must have cost you—ten years worth of favors? Money? Rank? I don’t know anything that means more to you than your job, than your country and—”
“You’re my friend,” Rhodey said.
“Yeah,” Tony agreed. “Your friend.”
“We’re not dating,” Rhodey said. “I can’t—I won’t date you.”
He let that burn down his spine for a minute and then smiled with a little snort of breath out through his nose. “Rhodey,” he said with both hands on Rhodey’s shoulders, pulling him close enough to smell—he never noticed before the way he smelled so fucking good, how he tensed and relaxed when Tony touched him, how he leaned in close to hear him talk.
“Pepper never stopped hoping,” Rhodey said like he was cutting him off.
“You found me,” Tony said, “and we’re dating.”
“No we’re not.”
“Yes we are.”
“No we’re not.”
“Yes we are. We are because I said we are.”
Rhodey laughed, “that doesn’t work in relationships Tony.”
“You said relationship, I didn’t say that. We’re dating; US Weekly says we are. According the National Enquirer you’re pregnant with our second child.”
“I’m just that good,” Tony said and Rhodey looked aghast while Tony laughed at him and squeezed his shoulders. It was awkward in the dry air between them because he wanted to wrap his arms around him and crush their mouths together—drag him backward to the couch or bedroom and spend a few hours learning his body and he couldn’t and he wasn’t ever any good at not doing things. “We’re dating. We’re going on a date right now, change this—wear something nice. I’ll wait here.”
“Tony,” Rhodey said.
“Go,” he said. He must have looked serious (or pitiful) because Rhodey nodded and started unbutton his jacket as he headed back toward his bedroom.