So I was just chatting at my cowriter BorealisBlast for our story “Becoming a Bird-Family” and I suddenly had Thoughts about James Rhodes and Tony Stark.
Like, I see a lot of fic where Rhodey is the Voice of Reason and honestly??? I do not believe for ONE SECOND that Rhodey always made great decisions. They met in college. At their youngest, Tony was fourteen and Rhodey was maybe seventeen, probably eighteen. And even if Rhodey was in ROTC (which I do headcanon), he’s still a teenager/young adult. Nobody is making smart choices. And what eighteen-year-old is going to take great care of a fourteen-year-old that’s way too smart and way too young for his surroundings? He probably just tried to keep an eye on Tony because honestly at least if he’s there he can try and help.
“Hey I’m gonna go get smashed wanna come?” Rhodey asked. Tony agreed because he didn’t want to be alone and drank everyone under the table. Rhodey cheered him on. They played beer pong and then were banned from playing beer pong. (No hard feelings though. Lots of engineering students were banned from regular beer pong. Engineering once got together to play beer pong and everyone got alcohol poisoning so they gave it up.)
I bet that Rhodey and Tony stayed at school over a holiday weekend and went on a bender those entire three days inventing a robot that could cook them breakfast when they were hungover. It happened more often that either of them would have expected for a fourteen- and eighteen-year-old and neither of them wanted to be the ones to cook in the morning. When the robot finally shorted pouring orange juice they both mourned its passing.
You what what? Rhodey was probably the one that started Tony’s coffee addiction and he’s not even sorry about it. In fact, I bet Tony was that student who accidentally fried his hard drive with his final paper on it and Rhodey told him, “I know a Turkish exchange student that can caffeine you up enough to redo it in two days but to be honest it might punch a hole in your stomach” and then he watched Tony redo his final exam paper and then, still hopped up, have several conversations with various inanimate objects in Italian, French, and Spanish. “You didn’t tell me he was fourteen years old!” Turkish Exchange student shouted at him, horrified. “I thought he was an adult! That was way too much caffeine! He’s still growing! He should have died!” Both Rhodey and Tony wonder if this incident is why Tony is so short.
Even as adults, when they’re together, the probability that they’re going to do something stupid actually SKYROCKETS, not plummets, because Rhodey has enough rules and regulations with the military. He doesn’t need to worry about that kind of shit while he’s off duty with his best friend. Tony has spent thousands of dollars to bribe people into silence so that some of the stupid shit they do doesn’t make it back to the brass and get Rhodey kicked out of the Air Force. Pepper loves to see Rhodey but she’s also extremely anxious when he comes to visit because last time they got drunk and decided to try and invent a new type of rocket fuel and accidentally blew a hole right out the side of the workshop, through the rest of the house, and the model rocket finally landed in the ocean, and all they had to say for themselves was “that was probably not safe but at least we know that it worked.”
Like I love the serious military man trope but honestly a lot of my extended family is former military and when they’re home they are WILD.