Iain is like my best friend. He comes over a lot. And he really loves hanging out with Sylvia (5), they’re like best friends. Which is kind of cool actually. He like saves her artwork and all that. They’re like really buddies. I hang out with him the most socially.
This is actually an old post I wrote back when I first started this blog and apparently never posted? So yeah, enjoy :)
Headcanon that Rhodey is the first person to genuinely compliment Tony (there was Jarvis of course, but those words of encouragement were always tainted by Howard’s imminent disapproval and Maria’s distanced acknowledgement).
The first time it happens they’re studying in the library together. Rhodey’s been watching Tony’s back for a few months now - because tbh the kid needs all the help it can get - and they’ve now reached the somewhere-between-being-friendly-and-being-friends territory. And well, Rhodey honestly likes Tony who’s funny and sarcastic and never lets anyone intimidate into keeping his mouth shut, which is why he’s decided to put more effort into this budding friendship (after it becomes clear that Tony won’t reach out but won’t push him away either, and damn does Rhodey want to hit his past self once he realises that it’s because Tony’s shy) and spend more time together. So. Studying.
Turns out they work surprisingly well together. Tony, known for his age, his genius and his complete inability to shut up, is actually very focused once he’s presented with a problem to figure out. Rhodey on the other hand is spurned on by the air of intense concentration surrounding Tony when he gets like that. It draws him in but doesn’t overwhelm him which is actually sort a perfect combination. At the same time Rhodey is stubborn enough to pull Tony out of his zone occasionally to get him to eat or drink or get his ass outta the library because we’ve been here for eight hours straight and you haven’t blinked in ten minutes, now move it! Suffice to say Tony becomes Rhodey’s new study buddy. Permanently.
But on that very first day at what later becomes widely known as ‘their’ table, Rhodey witnesses for the first time just how intelligent Tony really is. Sure, rationally he’s known that Tony’s a genius. You can’t spend five minutes with the guy without realising that he’s smart. But this, watching Tony breeze through calculations Rhodey knows for sure the prof won’t even talk about until February is something else.
“You’re brilliant,” Rhodey says, wonder and amazement and respect all mashed into a confusing ball of emotions.
Tony’s head snaps up at the sudden sound, allowing Rhodey the pleasure of seeing firsthand how Tony’s eyes widen as his mind processes the actual words, confusion flashing across his face before he hastily ducks his head. And that’s, that’s unusual all right because Tony doesn’t averts his eyes, doesn’t back down, not ever, and now Rhodey is definitely almost worried. Except-
Except Tony is blushing.
Rhodey blinks, mind frozen in disbelief because Tony doesn’t blush. Ever. But it’s undeniable, the flushed cheeks clearly visible even with his head bowed so low the tip of his nose is touching book. Rhodey opens his mouth, perhaps to tease, perhaps to change the topic, he honestly has no clue, when Tony peers up from under his lashes, all bright eyes and dark cheeks and a small, pleased smile that Rhodey has never seen before, and Tony’s never been out of place at MIT, always carried himself larger than life, but in this moment he looks so fucking young- and Rhodey doesn’t do any of those things.
“You’re brilliant,” he repeats instead, firmly. Holds Tony’s eyes patiently, until he’s sure his stubborn friend knows how serious he is, knows that he honestly, truly believes that. And then, when Tony’s hands start to twitch nervously and he swallows, clearly uncomfortable, Rhodey doesn’t comment on that either.
It’s “Now help me figure out what’s wrong with this equation because Professor Lanz is gonna kill me for real if I get it wrong again,” instead of “You’re a wonderful, talented person who’s here on their own merit and not just because of who your parents are, never let anyone tell you different,” and “You still aren’t done with that? What have you been doing in the past hour?” instead of “Thank you.”
It’s Rhodey and Tony, and maybe it’s their beginning or maybe it’s the core of what they are together but it doesn’t matter. They’ll figure it all out on their own time, eventually.
And if Rhodey makes it a point to genuinely compliment Tony at least twice a day, just to see that beautiful, pleased smile light up Tony’s eyes again, well that’s nobody’s business but his own.
I know I said I learned my lesson last time… but I’m also a strong believer in second chances. Which is why I’ve decided to replace all the Camembert in the house… with skim-milk mozzarella cheese sticks.
Suffer, you sentient bobble-headed incarnation of abject humiliation.