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Title: A Guide to Handling the Unhandleable Tony Stark
Author: NightRider
Beta: the freakin' amazing runawaydreamer
Rating: R for sexy times and A/B/O dynamics
Fandom: Avengers/Iron Man movies
Characters/Pairing: Tony Stark/James "Rhodey" Jones with Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov
Word Count: 3,645
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: I can't afford them so they're definitely not mine.
Summary: Written for the following prompt on the avengerkink meme: The rest of the Avengers assume Tony is an unbound Omega by the way he acts. He's reckless and carefree and does what he wants. Imagine their surprise when they find out that Rhodey is Tony's Alpha. They're all confused at the way Rhodey lets Tony act and how they can be away from each other for long periods of time and Rhodey's just like 'He didn't want to give up his career and I didn't want to give up mine. And I gave up trying to tell Tony what to do years ago.'
Alternate AO3 link: here



It had taken nearly two weeks to find Tony. It was two angst-filled, exhausting weeks the Avengers spent exploring every possible lead, trying to find out who had taken their most obnoxious and very crucial teammate. Tony would laugh in their faces if he could see them chasing their own shadows all across the Eastern seaboard. It’s true what they say: you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s not there to insult your taste in music.

Tony had stepped in front of Natasha, shoving her out of the way to take the brunt of the weapons blast against his armored chest plate. He’d fired back and disappeared into the sky, robotic monsters on his heels. Twenty minutes later the enemy was mostly destroyed, Thor and Hulk were rounding up the stragglers, and Tony was missing in action. The enemy robots didn’t seem to fight as hard once Steve couldn’t raise Tony on the comm.

Once they figured out where he was being held, mostly by good luck and a few pointed tips from Air Force intelligence, they’d launched a full-on recovery mission – Operation Motor Mouth. Or, as Clint so aptly put it: Operation Bring Stark Fucking Home.

They’d busted in the entrance of the dilapidated warehouse, less tact and more brute force because they’d been sitting around doing nothing and finally they were going to take back what had been stolen from them.

Of course, because Tony Stark was Tony Stark, he was stripped down to a dirty, grease-covered tank top, enemy combatants unconscious and restrained in the corner, and bent over a jury-rigged repulsor device. “Oh, hey. You guys made it. Awesome,” Tony says. He waves a filthy hand in their direction, eyes never leaving his fledgling creation. “Bruce, once you de-Hulk yourself, you wanna help me with this?”

He’s thin, thinner than normal, skin stretched over bone and sinewy muscle. His eye is bruised, right hand swollen, and his normally immaculately trimmed goatee is growing into a fully-formed yet splotchy beard.

It’s nearly a standoff, a far more impressive one than when Tony brought his captors to their knees using a couple of paper clips, a fountain pen with no ink, and some broken stereo equipment, until Steve agrees that Tony can take whatever he’s building with them, and finally Tony goes willingly. He slaps Steve on the back and smugly says, “I knew you’d see things my way.”

Steve wonders what the appropriate time length is before he can wring his lost and now recovered teammate’s neck.

Tony hadn’t taken his suppressants, because his being an omega is not common knowledge, and only Bruce was smart enough to bring them along. Tony eyes the vial in Bruce’s hand, eyes shifting between his work and the medication. Tony dismisses him with a simple, “Later,” and continues fiddling with the equipment in his lap.

It’s less than an hour before they reach SHIELD headquarters and it stings that Tony was being kept so close this whole time. If they were that hard up, they could have walked to get him back. He only agrees to a medical check because Steve is being particularly mulish about it, and with Thor and even Clint (the traitor), backing him and conveniently blocking all available exits, Tony goes. It’s clear he’s doing it under extreme duress if the ruckus he’s kicking up is any indication.

Tony is dressing down the nurse – who doesn’t look a day over twenty – and her lack of basic blood-drawing skills with words that are sharper than Natasha’s favorite knives. It’s not the first time Steve wishes Tony was bonded. No alpha would allow this, not when their omega was hurting and there was a chance of greater injury. Steve tries to step in, as an alpha, as the team leader, as whatever it would take to get Tony to tone it down for five seconds and let someone verify he’s not actually going to keel over in the next five minutes.

When the nurse misses his vein on the third attempt, Tony jerks his arm away. “All right, you’re done. Three strikes and you’re out.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stark, but if you’d–”

“Are you blind? It’s big, blue and currently gushing deoxygenated blood through my circulatory system. How can you not see it? Here, give me the damn syringe and I’ll do it myself.” Tony grabs for the needle, his other arm curved protectively over his stomach.

“Tony,” Steve starts, squaring his shoulders for a fight.

The door to the medical unit bangs open and Colonel James Rhodes strides through, gaze flashing from the nurse to Steve and finally landing on Tony with keen interest. “Okay, what’s going on?”

“Rhodey,” Tony says gleefully, already pushing out of bed.

“Lie back down,” Rhodey says, quickly taking stock of the situation, and Steve is more than marginally impressed when Tony does. “Blood draw?” he surmises promptly when he sees the empty tubes on the table next to Tony’s bed. Tony holds up his arm, three tiny punctures marring the crevice of his elbow. “Send someone who’s competent, please,” Rhodey says. He’s polite, but it’s nothing less than an order and the young woman flees immediately.

The doctor is ushered in less than a minute later with another nurse, who’s older and looks bored with the whole situation. She’s efficient, and in less than thirty seconds, there are three vials of blood and a Band-Aid for Tony’s trouble. Steve stands back and watches Rhodey issue orders and basically handle the entire situation with the kind of grace and ease that he would love to master. Sure, Steve’s great in the heat of battle, but these one-on-one situations, especially when Stark is involved, usually end with tossed insults and someone storming out.

Finally, when Tony is bitching about the less than palatable food, and dear God what would it take to get some ohmi-gyu beef around here?, Rhodey’s hand ghosts over his head. “Eat your toast.”

“Yes, because this grilled bread product – it’s wheat, isn’t it? Couldn’t you at least find some white bread? – is so much more appetizing than premium Japanese Wagyu beef. My kingdom for a cheeseburger! Seriously, I have five hundred shares of premium Stark Industries stock with your name on it, if you’d just–”

Rhodey doesn’t lift his gaze from Tony’s medical chart, and Steve’s pretty sure that’s a violation of several federal laws. “Eat your toast and we’ll discuss it.”

“This is not a negotiation, sugar plum. This is cruel and unusual punishment. This is– I don’t even know what this is. Take me back to the warehouse. At least they had decent–”

Steve backs out of the room silently, half-listening as the verbal gymnastics roll on, content that Stark is finally in good hands.

That lasts for nearly two hours until Stark goes missing and half of Medical is in an uproar. Rhodey’s amongst the chaos; he’s growling into his cell phone, and when Steve turns around, he’s gone.

*~*~*


“I don’t care, you don’t do this,” Rhodey says when he locates Tony back at the tower. He doesn’t yell because he doesn’t have to, and because yelling at Tony is about as effective as asking him to talk about his feelings. “You don’t do this to me.” He herds Tony into the shower, cutting off a few feeble escape attempts, with skill wrought from years of practice.

“Oh, come on, honey bear. Don’t be like that.”

“Two weeks, Tony,” Rhodey admonishes with one hand around Tony’s neck and the other framing the arc reactor in his chest.

“Actually, it was thirteen days, if we’re counting. Were you counting?”

“Of course I was–” Rhodey leans forward, tirade dying on his lips as he presses his forehead against Tony’s, and if the cut over his eyebrow stings, Tony doesn’t mention it. “Don’t joke.”

“It’s kind of our thing,” Tony reminds him, teasing. “Anyway, they were amateurs. I mean real amateurs. I had more advanced equipment when I was in middle school.”

“Amateurs, huh? Then why didn’t you bust out of there the same day they took you?” He strips off Tony’s clothes with well-practiced ease. The shower’s already running, the temperature preset to Tony’s preference.

Tony groans when Rhodey follows him in, corralling his body underneath the warm spray. “Wanted the Avengers to feel at least moderately useful. Morale and all that jazz.”

Rhodey growls, pressing a firm kiss to Tony’s temple. “If I thought you deliberately stayed there, I’d have you grounded within an hour.”

Tony laughs, fingers sliding down Rhodey’s back and finally finding purchase on wet hips. “You could try.”

“I just want you to think, Tony.”

“I do think. All the time, actually. Genius, remember?” He doesn’t move his hands from Rhodey’s hips and tap the side of his head like he usually does when he’s reminding the world that he’s an engineering mastermind.

“Disappearing from Medical and leaving everyone up in arms is not thinking,” Rhodey chides.

Tony shrugs unapologetically. “Don’t need to think. I’m bonded to you.”

Rhodey growls, nipping his way down Tony’s neck and soothing the sting with the flat of his tongue. “If I thought that was true, you’d be grounded so fast your armor-plated head would spin.” He sucks at the cords of muscle where Tony’s neck and shoulder meet. “Maybe I should remind you. Have you sink to your knees right here and–” Tony’s halfway down, eyes already closed in anticipation, and Rhodey is sucking empty space and water before he realizes what just happened. “No, not here. You need to heal, need to rest.”

“I’ll make you feel good. So good. You won’t even–”

“No, Tony. Tony–” He manages to get one hand threaded through Tony’s hair and the other around his neck, and he tugs up, gentle yet firm. “Not here,” he repeats. He kisses the pout away. He would challenge any person, man or woman, to look at a willing Tony and say no. He takes a deep breath and manages to turn Tony around. He washes Tony’s hair with expensive shampoo that smells like sandalwood, keeping him distracted with long strokes down his neck.

Rhodey washes the rest of the soap away after he quickly lathers his own body and before Tony can regroup for another attempt at a pass. He’s not sure he’ll be as strong a second time. He turns off the water and slides the door back to grab a couple of ridiculously fluffy towels. Tony’s injuries are mostly superficial, but the bruises are clearly evident, purple contusions mottling his stomach and sides.

Rhodey’s jaw clenches and Tony slides his hand up his neck, cupping his cheek. “It looks worse than it is. Trust me, you should see the other guys.”

“You better hope I never do, or I’ll be the last thing they see.”

Tony smiles and Rhodey uses the distraction to adjust the towel around his hips. “I love it when you go all alpha male on me and promise swift retribution and imminent pain to anyone who dares to cause me harm.”

“Come on, heartbreaker,” Rhodey says, rolling his eyes and guiding Tony out of the bathroom with two arms around his waist. Tony pauses and Rhodey nearly knocks his chin against Tony’s shoulder. He hooks his chin over it like that’s what he was going for all along.

“It’s been years since you’ve called me that.” Tony tilts his head to the left, trying to place the memory as Rhodey kisses down his neck. “You haven’t called me a heartbreaker since MIT.” Tony doesn’t move, and Rhodey urges him toward the bed with a push of his hips. “You washed my hair then, too. After the epic disaster we decided to never speak of again.”

Tony had been young and looking for his way in a world that wasn’t ready for seventeen-year-old genius with a superiority complex and the aptitude to back it up. Tony was all brass and bluster, jagged edges and alcohol-soaked bravado. The other students were afraid of him, and his professors simply didn’t know what to do with him. Several people, the brave few who wanted a chance to conquer the unattainable, had more than willingly stepped up to put Tony in his place, to rein his temperamental rages and self-destructive streak that was wide enough to fly SHIELD’s helicarrier through. The biggest contender was Alexander, who was an alpha with a reputation for handling the wild ones, for breaking the untamable, and Tony had gone willingly because he’d always liked a challenge. It was nothing more than an experiment with consequences that had never crossed Tony’s young, brilliant mind.

In the end, Rhodey was there to pick up the pieces. The failed romance between Tony and Alexander had been doomed before it started because Tony was no one’s sub, biology be damned, and Alexander was prepared to beat it out of Tony, who was too young, too stupid to see it as anything other than a threat to the walls he’d carefully constructed around his heart. In the end, Rhodey kicked in the door to Alexander’s dorm room and collected Tony, who was stripped to his jeans, bent over the bed with welts all over his back, quivering and saying, “I didn’t break. See, Rhodey? I didn’t break.”

That night, Rhodey had explained in careful detail to Tony that it wasn’t about that; it wasn’t about besting biology or science – not everything’s a fucking experiment, okay? – or doing something just because that was what everyone else did. The world wasn’t going to fit nicely into little labeled boxes, and one day Tony would find someone who understood that, who understood him, and who was willing to put up with his cynical ass and still love him in the morning. He’d carried Tony to the shower and carefully washed his hair then bandaged his back and put him to bed. He’d called Tony a heartbreaker once he thought the other man was asleep, because as smart as he was, he couldn’t see what was right in front of him, and Rhodey wasn’t going to be the one to spell it out for him. Eventually he’d stretched out beside Tony because when Tony was close, he was safe. Rhodey could keep him from self-destructing into a million little pieces, or at least die trying.

In the morning, Tony had kissed him awake. After a make out session that rivaled and beat Rhodey’s best conquests, Tony sat back on his heels, fingers barely touching soft, tingling lips and said, “Oh. That’s what it’s supposed to feel like.”

Tony rolls across the bed now, tugging Rhodey down and pressing his body flush against Rhodey’s side. He kisses him, torturously slow. “It still feels like that,” Tony says quietly. “Even after all this time, it still feels like that.”

Rhodey wraps his arms around Tony, drawing him close, their bodies slotting together like perfectly matched puzzle pieces. “Me too, Tony.” He rubs his hand over Tony’s cheek. “You need to shave.”

Tony laughs because it’s perfect. It’s so stupidly them, and even now, Rhodey can guide him back down when the moment’s too intense, too real. “You can help me tomorrow.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Rhodey says, pressing a final kiss to the side of his mouth before he lowers Tony’s head to his chest, fingers lazily carding through his hair.

And that is the exactly the position the Avengers find them in three hours later, assembled in Tony’s bedroom doorway, ready for havoc and mayhem. What they are not prepared for is Tony asleep in Rhodey’s arms, snoring softly against the other man’s neck, peaceful and sated. At Rhodey’s sleepy raised eyebrow, Steve backs them out of the door quietly, closing it behind them.

“Okay, I’ll buy whoever saw that coming a beer,” Clint says, shaking his head as if to block the memory.

“They’re bonded,” Steve says, staring at the closed door like it harbors the secrets of the universe, or at least the secrets of the very elusive Tony Stark.

“How did we miss this?” Bruce asks, ever the scientist who is annoyed because he obviously missed a very crucial piece of evidence.

“Natasha, why wasn’t this in your report?” Steve asks. Sure, Rhodey kept tabs on Tony because that’s what friends did. Not once did any of them get the inkling it was anything more than a dedicated Air Force Colonel and liaison trying to keep track of one of the country’s greatest assets.

“Because I didn’t know,” she replies evenly. “I still don’t know.”

“Well, the evidence is currently cuddled up under Colonel Rhodes’ chin, purring like a fat cat in a sunbeam,” Clint replies.

“I need tea,” Bruce decides, because he’s still trying to align the normally insatiable, restless Tony with the man he just saw sleeping comfortably in the arms of another man.

After tea and waffles – a lot of waffles – Bruce says, “It makes sense, actually.”

“How does any of this make sense?” Natasha asks, still annoyed because she missed something so vital, so basic when she’d prepared her report on Stark.

Bruce shrugs, running his finger delicately around the rim of the bone china teacup Tony had given him after he’d moved into the Tower. “It just does.”

“Because Stark’s no one’s sub, right, Dr. Banner?” Rhodey prompts, walking into the room and opening the refrigerator to rummage around. He pulls out the milk carton and pushes the door closed with his heel.

“He’s yours, though,” Steve amends. “I mean… we saw it, right? Stark’s yours.”

Rhodey leans against the counter top, crossing his feet at the ankles before he drinks from the carton in a move that reminds them all of Tony. He wipes his arm across his mouth and sets the carton on the counter. “Yeah, he’s mine.” It’s said in such a casual way, like he’s daring someone to challenge him, to say that Stark isn’t his. If anyone was doubting what they saw in Tony’s bedroom, they’ve got all the proof they need right here, and it’s currently wearing flannel pajama pants and nothing else. “It works both ways. What we have – it’s taken years, believe me.” He laughs, caught in a distant, fond memory that they all want to hear about but no one dares ask. “It just works.” Everyone seems lost in thought, trying to picture this laidback alpha matched with the notorious Stark. “Look, don’t try to figure it out. You’ll just think yourself in circles, and Tony will laugh at you later for it. Half the time I don’t know how it works, but it does.”

Steve shakes his head. “But how can you let him–”

“No offense, Captain Rogers, but it’s not the forties anymore. I have a military career and Tony has a fortune 500 company to run. He moonlights as a superhero, and believe me when I say every gray hair on my head is because of that man.” Rhodey turns around to prepare a cup of coffee, and it happens to be just the way Tony likes it. Once he’s done, cup in hand, he says, “I trust this doesn’t change anything.”

“Of course not,” Bruce says.

“I’m fine,” Natasha agrees.

“I’m glad Tony has someone,” Steve says, and it’s clear he means it.

“So, Colonel Rhodes, do you think you could get Stark to actually follow orders once in awhile?” Clint asks curiously, because as happy as he is for Tony, there’s got to be a way to work this to the team’s advantage.

Rhodey laughs open-mouthed and loud. “Good luck with that, Barton. If he thinks you’re trying to play him or work an angle, you can kiss every advancement he’s going to make to your gear goodbye.”

Clint stops Rhodey at the door with a hand to his shoulder. “Be sure to tell Stark that I whole-heartedly approve of this arrangement, and if he needs a shoulder to cry on when the two of you are having problems, my door is always open.”

Rhodey snorts and shakes Clint’s hand off. “As if we ever have problems.” He’s smiling, though. “I’ll be sure to pass your good wishes along.”

He returns to Tony’s bedroom where Tony manages to take the cup while he’s still face down on the bed, flip over and drink two sips without ever opening his eyes or spilling a drop. It’s the little things about Tony that always impress him the most.

“Debriefing go okay?” Tony asks as he slumps against the pillows with his legs tossed over Rhodey’s thighs.

“You know, it’s been so long since you’ve been to an actual debriefing, you’ve forgotten what they look like.”

Tony pokes his toe between Rhodey’s ribs, wiggling until Rhodey drops a hand to his ankle, holding him still. “You know what I mean.”

“They’re fine,” Rhodey says, sliding his hand slowly up Tony’s leg. “Like you’d give two shits if they weren’t.”

Tony shrugs and leans over to set his empty cup on the nightstand. “The less drama in my life, the better.”

“You’re not getting rid of them that easily,” Rhodey says, pouncing now that Tony’s hands are free. He pulls Tony down on the bed and rolls on top of him, pressing him against the mattress.

Tony looks up, eyebrows raised. “Do you really want to talk about the Avengers right now? Because if you do, I’m going to be hurt, and I have it on good authority that I can go to Clint when you’re being–”

“No one likes an eavesdropper, Tony,” Rhodey says, biting down on his shoulder.

Tony grins, turning his head and exposing his neck. “I prefer the term ‘voyeur.’”

“I prefer the term ‘mine.’”

Tony breathes into Rhodey’s mouth, “That works, too.”

~finished~

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
summerholt
Dec. 7th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
Love your humor. Very entertaining. Although it's not the couple I'm rooting for, it actually works well in your story. By the way I had to look up who James was, ha!

Why is Tony so careless and self-destructive? It sure makes interesting stories. You capture the Avenger characters very well. I like Clint the most, always so practical.

Great story!
nightrider101
Dec. 13th, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I'm normally not a huge Tony/Rhodey shipper, but I stumbled across the prompt on the kink meme and thought I could actually fill it! It's nice being able to contribute something.

Tony has a history of being reckless and his self-destructive streak makes fabulous story fodder.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment. I love hearing your thoughts!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )