You Jam My Gears
Link: Link to AO3
Title: You Jam my Gears
For: @TolkienGurl for the @black-characters-matter-fest
Summary: Based on the following prompt: Rhodey notices Sam among the new recruits of Avengers that Steve is training. He starts coming to Avengers' trainings to "watch", but he's secretly pining. Sam mistakes Rhodey's stares for critique/dislike and develops an attitude towards Rhodey. Whenever Rhodey and Sam have an opportunity to talk, Rhodey gets awkward and clams up which only reinforces Sam's belief that Rhodey doesn't like him. Rhodey doesn't understand why Sam is so standoffish and is a sad puppy. Eventually they pull their heads out of their asses and get together.
++ READ BELOW THE CUT ++
yOu shOULD gO hElP stEVe. Rhodey mocked Tony in his head. “It will be fun, he said.” He muttered. Today was not fun. He had come to the Avengers facility happy and cheerful; nothing could ruin his day… well, until he walked into the training room and saw the most beautiful man he has ever seen.
Sam Wilson, codename Falcon, was standing in the room talking to Romanov. Seeing him first, she waved at him. “Hey Rhodey! Come here; I want you to meet Sam. Sam, this is…”
“Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, I know.” Sam smiled. “He’s one of my heroes.”
Flustered, and totally not ready for this conversation, Rhodey just nodded and stared. After an awkward moment of silence for Rhodey’s dignity, he mumbled something about needing to find Steve and walked away as quickly as he could. Once out of earshot, he grumbled to himself. “Come on Rhodes, you’re smoother than this!”
Sam Wilson watched as Rhodes walked off. “Well, that was weird.” He commented.
“I agree.” Natasha eyed Rhodes’ retreating back. “That was extremely odd.”
“I guess I just figured he’d be glad to see me here. Does he want to be the only black guy on the team? Too bad for him because I’m sure as hell not going anywhere.”
Natasha just grinned that stupid sneaky smirk. “No, I don’t think that’s the case.”
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter either way. I’m here, and I’ve got more important things to worry about. Ready to start training?”
“Follow me, Sergeant Wilson.” Nat inclined her head to the training room.
Sam felt Rhodes’ eyes on him the entire time he trained. Rhodes and Steve were up on the balcony watching the training room below. He didn’t say a single word as Steve yelled orders; he just stared. Sam thought grimly that Rhodes was just waiting for him to mess up. Too bad because I’m gonna run this simulation perfectly.
“Sam! That was amazing! Great job!” Steve praised him once training was over. Rhodes was still just watching.
Natasha hip checked him. “Soooo, had to show off today, didn’t you?”
“I’m just showing him that I am damn good at my job. He won’t be able to find a reason to kick me off.”
“I… don’t think you’re seeing what I’m seeing, but think what you must. Now go shower, you stink.”
“It’s not funny.” Rhodey grumbled.
Tony wiped tears off his face as he giggled. “Yes, it is! James Rhodes, the smoothest motherfucker in all of the science club in MIT, the man who met Whitney Houston and kept his cool, theee War Machine, theeeee Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, just froze up like Hammertech when he met Sam Wilson. I find this ridiculously funny.”
“You better watch it, or I’m going to tell Clint what happened the night of August 19th, 1994.”
“Ok, whoa, you don’t have to go that far.” Tony quickly sobered. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know. Try to talk to him? Maybe it will get better each time?”
Rhodey didn’t appreciate Tony’s skepticism, but he understood why he would be . Every single time he saw Wilson, he would clam up and look for an escape route if needed.
“Hey, Rhodes. Steve asked me to ask you if you have any tips for flying in these formations? He said you created these systems, and I could use a little help.” Wilson approached him yesterday.
Rhodey had been caught unaware, but he was still able to go through the whole formation with Sam. Fiercely proud and defensive of his formations, Rhodey admitted that he was a bit touchy about improving. The conversation ended with him feeling more frustrated than before. This really was hopeless. Maybe he should quit and go back to being a lone peacekeeper.
Sam threw down his jacket as he stormed into his room. “That’s it, I’m done. If he doesn’t respect me, why the hell do I have to respect him?” Then he saw Natasha sitting on his windowsill, filing her nails. “Gah! How did you get in here? Why are you in here?”
“Sounds like Rhodes is getting under your skin.” Natasha mused. “I wonder why.”
“Because he’s treating me like I’m not worthy to be here! I feel like I’m more worthy than he is! Tony Stark basically gave him his suit, and everyone just accepted him! I had to work to be a part of the Falcon program.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“No, I don’t.” Sam wilted. “I still am so amazed with him, like he’s a frickin badass. Like maybe I have a tiny crush on him.” Natasha raised an eyebrow; he amended. “Ok more than a tiny crush, but he acts like I’m beneath him! Like I’m… I just think that if he’s not going to treat me like an equal, I don’t have to hang onto every word he says. I’m going to stand up for myself.”
“Ok? That’s all you’ve got?”
“That’s all I’ve got.” Natasha grinned evilly. As she walked out, she called over her shoulder. “Now hurry up and shower. We have a loooong night ahead of us. Oh, hi Rhodey. Was gonna get some dinner, want to join?”
Sam didn’t hear Rhodes’ response. He was too busy stripping so he would seem busy if Rhodes decided to knock on his door. Thankfully the other man must have gone with Natasha, so Sam hopped in the shower. After a long, warm, steamy scrubbing, he dried off and dressed… only to find Natasha sitting on his couch. “You’re a piece of shit.” He told her.
“Come on. Let’s watch some Lord of the Rings.” She patted the couch beside her.
“I’m serious. Now he probably thinks we’re fucking or something.”
“I’m a lesbian, Samuel. And Rhodey knows that. “
Nat chose to ignore him as she turned on the TV. As this was his twenty-sixth time watching these movies, Sam could basically see them with his eyes closed. He kept facing the screen even as he thought about why Rhodes wouldn’t like him. What had he done?
“You gotta help me, man.” Rhodey flopped on Tony’s couch as soon as he walked in the lab.
“More man problems?”
“He yelled at me today! I was trying to talk to him about certain maneuvers, and he asked me why I didn’t think he knew that already. He was like ‘I was in the Air Force too, you know. What is it about me that makes you think I’m inferior?’ Tony, he thinks I don’t like him! And you know, I couldn’t be like ‘Um, actually, I just don’t know how to talk to you because you’re beautiful.’ Like, do you know how lame that sounds? And don’t you laugh, Tony! Don’t you laugh!”
Tony lifted his hands in the air. “Not laughing. See? What do you want me to do about it?”
“I don’t know. Can you talk to him for me?”
“Have you ever done that for me?”
“A part of me wants me to tell you to grow up and solve your own problems, but also, I have never been around him, so I don’t know what he’s like. I’ll think about it.” Tony leaned on the side of the counter.
“It’s just so dumb, because I can talk to everyone. I looked a crazy dude with a gun straight in the eyes and talked him out of shooting everyone in the vicinity before shooting himself. I’ve gotten laid before using only my tongue as foreplay. I’ve delivered speeches in front of millions of people. But talking to Sam Wilson? No can do.”
“Men do become fools when they fall in love.” Tony side-eyed him laughingly. “Now, come here. I need your help on this. Do you see this piece of code? It’s not working right…”
“Yeah, I can take a look at that.” The two spent the rest of the night figuring out code for Tony’s new program.
“What did you do to Rhodes?” Natasha swung Sam’s door open.
“Nothing. What are you talking about?”
“Tony wants you to visit him in the Tower today. Sounds like you’re in hot water.”
Sam groaned. “Are you serious? Rhodes can’t take a little backtalk , so he needs Iron Man to step in?” Shaking his head, he tacked on. “Man, I’ll go, but geez.”
A few hours later, Sam landed on the landing deck of Stark Tower. FRIDAY greeted him at the door. Hello, Sergeant Wilson. Boss is in his lab. Take the elevator to the 19th floor.
“Thanks FRIDAY.” Sam was trying to figure out what he’d say when Tony Stark confronted him about Rhodes.
As he walked out of the elevator, Stark’s door whooshed open. No one came out, so Sam took it as an invitation to enter. He stood there awkwardly until Tony looked up from his project due to FRIDAY’s prompting. “Oh, hey Wilson. Sorry, didn’t hear you come in. Come here, take a look at this. Was wondering if it’s something you’d like to have.”
The thing which Tony was talking about, was a small drone, bearing the colors of the Falcon suit. Sam eyed it critically, wondering if it was a bribe. “If I take it, what do you want from me?”
“Steve didn’t tell you?” Tony looked surprised. “I make most of the Avengers armor and outfits, and I like to tech them up. This drone will fit right on your jetpack. He's a learning AI so you can train him how you want.”
“And that’s all you wanted me to come for?”
“…Yeah, pretty much? Was there something else you needed that I forgot? I do that often.”
Sam felt foolish. “No, I just thought you were going to tell me to be nice to Rhodes or something.”
“Oh, well, you’re allowed to have your own opinion about people. I personally don’t see why anyone would be angry with him, but I’m not going to judge you for disliking my Honeybear.”
“Are you two dating?”
“Oh no. Can you imagine? I’d probably love it, but he needs someone more down to earth than me.” Tony laughed. “He’s the best. I love him so much – platonically, you know – and he’s always there for me. You get what I mean, right?"
At that moment, who should walk through the door but Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes? “Tones.” He said in a strangled voice. “Why is he here?”
“Oh, yeah, he’s the greatest.” Sam turned to Tony dryly. “If you’re still offering the drone, I’ll gladly accept but I don’t want to be here anymore.”
“Wait. I think I see what’s happening here. Both of you, sit down now.” Both men stood still where they were. Tony snapped his fingers. “Sit. Now.” When they complied, he resumed. “First, let this disclaimer be that I am not a licensed therapist, and secondly, you may not use this same method against me at a later time. Now, Sam, why don’t you tell Rhodey how you feel about him?”
Sam muttered. “This is stupid." He took a breath, looked at Rhodes and started "Ok. Rhodes, when I heard you were coming to watch training that first day, I was so excited. You were a big hero of mine, and you piloted an Iron Man suit. You can’t get much cooler than that. Then I meet you, and you basically dismiss me. I brushed it off, thinking you might have been late or something that day. But then time passes, I see that you’re good friends with everyone else at the Compound… except me. And you’re overly critical about every single damn thing I do.”
“Because I’m not halfway in love with anyone else in the Compound!” Rhodes blurted. “Oh shit. See, this is what happens, Tony! Why are you making me talk to him?”
“Wait. You’re… Hold up! There is too much happening all at once. Tony, did you set this up?”
“I plead not guilty. I had no idea Platypus would be coming here. Besides, why would I talk him up when I know he’s in earshot. That’s not something best friends do.”
That earned Tony a bit of a suspicious stare from Sam. “Okayyyy… and Rhodes – Jim – did you just say you are halfway in love with me?”
“Well, I mean. You’re really attractive and like, super badass.” Rhodes stumbled on his words. “And-and you’re so outgoing and friendly, and…”
“Let me step in and save his life and dignity. Rhodey is usually so calm, cool, and collected, no matter the circumstances. The fact that he can barely make a full sentence around you speaks volumes about your effect on him.” Tony interrupted Rhodes’ rant.
Rhodes deflated. “Yeah, what he said.”
“Ok, well then, I’ll make the first move. James Rhodes, would you like to get dinner and a movie with me tomorrow night?” Sam invited.
“I’d like that.”
“Then it’s a date. Thank you, Stark, for helping us figure this all out. Let me know when that bad boy is finished.” He pointed to the drone. “I’m gonna name him Redwing.”
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For @nachodiablo, Who won one of my @marveltrumpshate 2019 Auctions. This is the fifth of six aesthetics, I’ll be making for Nacho over the course of the year. Here you are, Nacho!
Sam Wilson x Natasha Romanoff - Undercover AU.
Also on Ao3.
Sam waits to say anything, until the last customer ambles away from the counter he’s seated at. “You know,” he says, hushed and quiet, eyes darting around the small cafe before zeroing back onto Natasha. “You look pretty good like this.” He watches as she pauses in her task of restocking the cupcake shelf, before she flicks her eyes up to meet his.
“I meant,” he tries to backtrack when he notices how they’ve narrowed with a dangerous glint to them. “Like you’re happy. Not like, you-I mean that is,” he flounders before letting his mouth snap shut when he notices the way her lips curve up at the side, in a half smirk.
“I think it might be best, to stop while you’re ahead there,” she keeps her voice low and soft, eyes doing a quick circuit around to ensure they were alone before adding playfully, “Cap.”
He ducks his head, glad she wouldn’t be able to see his cheeks flushing and boy, would they be red with how hot his face feels. Swallowing, he fiddles, eyes flicking up and down a few times before he takes a breath, seeming to build himself back up only to stop when he locks eyes with her.
Sam can’t remember the last time Nat looked this soft, this relaxed. It’s certainly been… months, if not years, he thinks. Relaxed, happy, it looks good on her. Though Sam muses, his head still ducked down enough he has to look at her from beneath his lashes, there isn’t much that Natasha can’t make look good.
Not that he’d ever say that to her face.
Well, not sober anyway.
Sam’s learned the hard way after a few too many, his mouth gets real loose with his secrets.
But not that he wouldn’t want to, he sighs. He’d love to tell Nat how he really feels. How he’d like to take her out, to not be too Steve about it, to court her, to treat her right. Their friendship though, he doesn’t want to risk it, if she didn’t feel the same.
No, he thinks, watching as she moves around gracefully, her friendship was far more than enough for him.
“I need to go switch out the trays, I’ll be right back,” she says, just as Jeanie — her teenage co-worker, who worked the counter a few days a week — slides behind the counter, apologizes falling from her lips. “Try not to let Scott get any more freebies,” she teases good naturedly before cutting her gaze to Sam, when Jeanie’s face goes red, gearing up to defend herself, “I’m counting on you, to watch her,” before ducking into the back.
“Ugh, Sasha is the worst,” Jeanie mutters, stashing her bag and cardigan underneath the counter and grabbing her apron. As she ties it, she eyes Sam for a long moment, lips curving up into a wicked looking smile after a beat. “So,” she drawls, moving to lean against the counter next to him. She waits until he picks his cup of coffee up to talk a sip, when she continues, raising her voice to ensure she’ll be heard in the back, “When do you plan on asking out our beloved Sasha, Tommy?”
Sam chokes, spray coffee everywhere as he splutters.
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