Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers & Iron Man (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie, after “Blue Glow” fic.
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Darcy Lewis, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Thor, Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Pairings: Bruce/Tony, Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor (, Clint/Natasha, implied past Pepper/Tony)
Summary: It starts with a dream and ends with something that resembles strutting more than tiptoeing; in other words, Bruce has a new-found obsession with Tony, Tony finds that endearing and wants to take it further while everyone else – including Bruce – seems to think it might actually be a very bad idea.
Work in progress. Part of the “Turquoise” –series.
Warnings: Slash (m/m relationship) and some sexual content, past and current het (f/m), superheroes vs. villains violence, language.
Sometimes Tony wondered about what a horrible person he was, seeing as J.A.R.V.I.S. was in many ways adopting the traits of his creator; Bruce had his tongue pretty far into Tony’s mouth, probably aiming to climb all the way down his throat if they could make that physically possible, when the AI decided to make an announcement:
“Sir, Mr. Rhodes is on the line.”
Tony groaned and pulled back, licking his lips. Bruce looked too chastised for it to be fair in this universe and Tony attempted to convey in one singular look that they weren’t done. “What does he want?” he snapped at J.A.R.V.I.S.
There was a slight pause, indicating that J.A.R.V.I.S. was actually asking Rhodey on Tony’s behalf instead of just connecting the call. Perhaps he wasn’t too far gone after all… “He is enquiring after his suit and your progress with it,” the smooth voice returned, sounding just as unenthusiastic as ever.
“Tell him he can pick it up tomorrow,” Tony informed the AI then turned back to Bruce. “Now, where were we?”
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk to Rhodes? I can step out for a moment,” Bruce offered.
Tony narrowed his eyes. “Either you were not enjoying our previous activities – which I might take as a personal insult – or you don’t like Rhodey.”
Bruce surveyed something behind Tony that certainly didn’t warrant that much of his attention. “You know I like the things we do,” the scientist offered then, as a token of peace.
The Cheshire Cat could have taken notes from Tony’s responding grin. “You know, we can totally focus on that any time you want –”
“Not now,” Bruce blew him off, tender and patient as well as hard and unforgiving.
Tony tried to reel in his anticipation before the big fish called ‘Disappointment’ got a bite out of it. They had gotten as far as Bruce jacking him off, which was fantastic in the scale of their relationship, but Tony could admit he sometimes got a little frustrated when they didn’t move on from that. However, ‘not now’ was not the equivalent of ‘not ever’, and he knew which he preferred.
“So, Rhodey it is, then,” he returned to the topic at hand and could see Bruce relax a bit more when he didn’t press for further intimacy. “There’s nothing for you to be concerned about with Rhodey’s visit. I made it very clear to him that you’re off limits on every imaginable level he and his military buddies can come up with. If he has a problem with that, he can take it up with me.”
Bruce’s face darkened, just slightly. “You don’t need to protect me.”
“Of course I do,” Tony argued. “A) you are my friend, teammate and boyfriend. B) Rhodey is also my friend so he’s my responsibility. C) I have an uneasy relationship with some branches of the military and especially one General Ross, so I think we’re pretty much on the same page as to why you would possibly need protection from me.”
Bruce didn’t laugh or smile. “How come it doesn’t surprise me you’re on Ross’ shit list?”
Tony grinned. “I may have done a little… consulting to get there. Plus Iron Man isn’t on his Christmas card list.” He straightened his face after that, though. “Rhodey isn’t someone you have to be concerned about. He might talk big but he won’t make a move on you because that means going through me first. He isn’t that kind of guy.”
“I hope you’re right,” Bruce said, standing up. He didn’t appear nervous or worried but it didn’t mean those feelings weren’t crossing his genius mind. “I’ll let you work on War Machine; I know you’re not done with all the armor repairs yet. We’ll continue this later.” And with that he leaned in, touching Tony’s cheek as he kissed him once more, with a little bit of tongue to make it dirty – and Tony sure did love dirty.
He smiled at the other man as he left the lab then rolled his chair around and tapped a monitor to pull up the War Machine specs. “Okay, boys, time to get to work,” he announced to the room at large and moved over to the rising platform that held Rhodey’s suit.
James Rhodes entered the lab after Tony had moved on to tinker with his own suit. Tony had left the room long enough to get some shut-eye but it happened to be during the day so Bruce refused to join him; apparently the man wasn’t going to stay up at convenient hours with him just so that they could sleep at the same time.
As it was, Tony had been up for a couple hours and his mind was full of things that needed to be done before he got called out next on a mission of some kind, whether it was Iron Man flying solo or alongside the Avengers. J.A.R.V.I.S. let Rhodey in without a fuss and lifted the War Machine armor up for inspection.
Tony allowed a minimal portion of his brain to focus on the fact that Rhodey was circling his armor, as if to seek out faults in what Tony had done to it. Mostly his brain was still recalibrating an external energy output that could be used as some kind of force-field should he be able to stabilize it – and not fry his arc reactor once it took a hit.
“The armor seems fine,” Rhodey commented.
“Of course it does; I repaired it,” Tony snorted, rolling his eyes away from the screen in front of him, sweeping the calculations off to the side, knowing J.A.R.V.I.S. would save and store them for him. “Do you want to take it out for a test drive?” he asked as if he were a car salesman.
Well, knowing Rhodey, he might just ask for a test flight and then come back with a new list of things he wanted to change – mostly all the upgrades Tony had slipped into the armor.
“Not right now,” Rhodey responded instead, stepped out from behind the bulky metallic suit and walked closer to Tony. It was a bad sign even before he started talking: “Pepper’s been worried.”
“About what?” Tony asked, already trying to wheel himself further from his friend trying to make it not look like an escape attempt.
“I’m fine, she should know that.”
“Tony,” Rhodey snapped, making him stop moving. “I don’t want to have to talk to you about this but Pepper’s concerned – which means I should be concerned.”
“Let’s move back to the source of her concern because I think I failed to catch that,” Tony shifted his chair an inch further from the other man.
“Banner,” Rhodey responded without missing a beat. His brown eyes narrowed just slightly as if trying to pin Tony in place. “She’s worried about your relationship with Banner. Plain enough for you?”
“Yeah,” Tony said, eyes already moving to the side, trying to find a way out. “We’re doing fine.”
“That’s not what is bothering her.”
Something between anger and annoyance sliced through him, making him defensive – and that was never a good place to be. “If she’s so worried she can come and talk to me about it, not send you to do her dirty work.”
“You know it isn’t like that,” Rhodey insisted. “If she’s worried, I’m worried.”
“I heard your concerns the first time,” he snapped. “If that’s all you have to say –”
“He’s dangerous and you’re not with him for the right reasons,” Rhodey blurted out despite the warning in Tony’s words.
“Right reasons? Do you think I’m with him out of convenience, because he happens to be there? That I went through the trouble of winning his trust just because he happens to be the hardest member of this team to get into a relationship?” Well, not that he knew that for certain but Tony had figured that Bruce had the most reason not to be in a relationship, due to his green problem. “Has it occurred to either you or Pepper that I might actually be happy with Bruce?” he finally asked, voice hard as steel, cutting anything it touched.
Rhodey’s face flinched, just a little. They had been down the road of mistrust before, before Rhodey took his armor. It seemed neither of them had learned a lesson from that. “Are you sure you’re not just trying to prove something – to yourself, or the world? I’m sure Banner’s difficult to manage and it’s amazing you’ve got this far but you must see the dangers involved. Or maybe the dangers are all that you see; you’ve never been shy about doing what most sane people wouldn’t even attempt.”
“Being with him isn’t a dare of some kind,” Tony stood up from the chair, body poised for a fight. Was he going to end up smashing Rhodey through the Mansion before this was over? Their fight in Malibu played through his brain, filtered by a concentration of alcohol in his blood that had been present at the time. “In fact, dating him is probably the safest thing I’ve done in my life, seeing as the Hulk is so fond of protecting me.”
“When he isn’t smashing in your chest!”
“That only happened once!”
“Once should have killed you, but you got lucky. Dating a guy who’s capable of that – who has already done that – isn’t my idea of safety,” Rhodey insisted. “How is it going to work, anyway? The piece of his file that I managed to dig out suggested some serious control issues, not to mention potentially hazardous levels of gamma radiation.”
“We’re working on those,” Tony replied, jaw so clenched he was certain something was going to be dislocated soon. “I know what I’m involved in – who I’m involved with. Nothing you can think of is going to scare me off because I’ve already thought about it, or Bruce has told me about it a dozen times in an attempt to make me back off.”
Rhodey sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. “You make it sound like he’s not into the idea of you two… you know.”
“Oh, he isn’t,” Tony said, feeling like flipping him off. “But we’re working towards it, thanks so much for asking.” It looked like Rhodey didn’t want to hear more about that subject. Maybe describing all the ways Tony wanted to get naked with Dr. Banner would drive him out of his lab and make him never bring it up again.
“You haven’t had sex yet?” Rhodey finally asked, looking like he wished he could avoid it but was made to ask by a superior – that superior possibly being Pepper.
“Not in the biblical sense.”
The frown on Rhodey’s face seemed to have a life of its own. “Seriously?”
Tony took a moment to wonder why that was such a shock to one of his oldest friends – then it clicked. “It hasn’t been the right time yet,” he shrugged, the tension disappearing slightly.
This last revelation seemed to throw Rhodey off his game; it wasn’t like Tony to drag out having sex with a person he liked, the whole world knew that much about Tony Stark. Pepper had perhaps been the only one with whom it took time and once they got into a relationship, sex hadn’t exactly been an issue. With Bruce, though, it had to be a new record on any level he could think of – and he still thought it was worth the wait.
“Is it because you can’t, or because you won’t?” Rhodey asked next, tentatively, as if still figuring out the answer himself.
“Can’t,” Tony admitted. “We may be eager to do crazy science together but some things require finesse.”
Rhodey nodded slowly. “I still don’t like it.”
“You don’t have to,” Tony noted, sharpness returning to his tone. “There are two people involved in this relationship and you’re not one of them.”
“I wonder why you couldn’t have found this kind of focus and determination in any of your prior relationships. Hell, you didn’t even call them relationships, as if you were allergic to the very word and all its implications.”
Tony knew where Rhodey got that impression from; he wasn’t deluded enough to think he was a model of any kind of healthy lifestyle when it came to interactions with other people. Maybe that was why Pepper left him… Had Tony not been truly with her, in body and mind? He thought he had, that they’d had a connection, but… Iron Man always came first, she was right about that.
He and Bruce, however, were together because of Iron Man and all aspects of Tony’s life met Bruce’s.
While he pondered if Rhodey would see his point if he told him that, there was a tap from the side wall and a lab door opened, letting in Captain Rogers; he was wearing his leather jacked and slacks but carrying his shield which meant he may have been visiting the Helicarrier or something equally work-related that didn’t require him to put on the entire uniform.
“Am I disturbing you?” Rogers asked. “J.A.R.V.I.S. let me in.”
Tony caught Rhodey staring at Rogers and he couldn’t help rolling his eyes. “Rhodey, meet Steve Rogers, our resident Capsicle,” he said as he introduced Cap.
The man in question didn’t really have time to narrow his eyes at him before Rhodey had stepped over, hand first, admiration written all over his face. “Captain Rogers, this is an honor,” he stated as they shook hands. “I’m Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes.”
“I didn’t think Tony had friends in the military,” Rogers replied, although kindly.
“I used to be a liaison for Stark Industries. Lately we’ve mostly bonded over armor,” Rhodey shrugged.
Recognition dawned on Rogers’ face. “You’re War Machine.”
“Yes, sir,” Rhodey nodded.
“You don’t need to call him that,” Tony couldn’t stop himself.
Rhodey gave him a dirty look as if Tony had just ruined his greatest wet dream in years. “I didn’t ask for your input.”
“If gushing over him is all you’re going to do, please take it somewhere else,” Tony waved him off, finding his seat again and rolling the chair across the smooth floor. “I have work to do.”
“There’s dinner upstairs,” Rogers offered.
“I’m feeling a bit hungry,” Rhodey grinned – Tony could almost see his teeth flashing from the reflection on his armor before the two men left, leaving him alone with the armor schematics and slightly betrayed feelings.
It had nothing to do with the camaraderie between the two men because he had always known they would bond in no time – especially because everyone in the military seemed to have a secret fanboy boner for Captain America.
No; what left him uneasy was the fact that the two people who knew him best didn’t trust in his choice to start a relationship with Bruce. They had always wanted him to go steady or to calm down at least, and now that he had they kept bombarding him with distrust, advice and accusations about the state of his sanity.
Tony re-opened his latest project and tried to dismiss Pepper and Rhodey’s voices as he was used to doing over the years – only it worked just as poorly as it always had, mostly because over time, he had learned to trust them and value their points of view.
And here he had been thinking that overcoming Bruce’s green issues would be the biggest stepping stone in their relationship…
to be continued…