Ty knocks a staccato beat on Tony’s dorm room.
He opens quickly, and shuts just as fast.
They stumble over to the bed, falling down in a tumble of laughter. The door swings open, “hey, To—” Rhodey cuts off, blinking. The two separate messily, sitting up.
“Rhodey,” Tony says, “I thought you were out for the night.”
“Obviously,” he says. “Sorry — I’ll — I’ll go.”
“Yeah,” Tony agrees, daring a glance at Ty, “that would be... yeah.”
He stops short when he sees Ty. “Aren't you —”
“Tiberius Stone,” he grins, arm hooked over Tony’s shoulder. “Pleasure to meet you, again.”
The next months are out of a dream.
Break rolls around, and Tony's on the first flight of out Boston, knocking on Ty’s door at 3am.
He grizzles about it until Tony drops his bags, and kisses him long and slow and steady.
“That the only way I can shut you up,” Tony murmurs.
“I'm gonna be talking a lot more from now on then.”
That summer was the best Ty’s ever had, sun-drenched and happy, filled with kisses and sleep-ins, the lazy drowsiness of sleep blanketing mornings, the sharpness of sex spiking the nights, the contentedness of afternoons.
They go out and get ice-cream one day. Tony licks melted mint choc chip off his hand where it’s dribbled from the cone, and kisses him with sweet lips, Ty’s never liked sugar so much.
It’s almost like that date with Whit, so long ago. They don’t swim, but they do drive next to the coast. Tony leans his head back on the seat and wonders if he should feel sad he and Whitney broke up.
He doesn't really, just sort of...longing. He wishes he could have loved her, really he does.
They take a mini roadtrip, and drive all the way to San Francisco, where they pull hats low over their eyes and hold hands even when they shouldn't.
Ty kisses him in front of the golden gate bridge and on a cable car and on the street and, driving home, Tony thinks that he's never been more happy. Never been more free.
No one notices them, picks them out from the society pages and points and says, hey aren't you that Tony Stark dude?
They’re just faceless, nameless tourists, lost in the crowd.
Tony likes it more than he should, being anonymous. H e should like the fame and the pictures and the press, right? Everyone tells him he should.
They go to a party and Ty laughs as he kisses him in a back room. Tony tires to ignore the sour taste of tequila on his tongue but his mouth probably tastes the same so he just gives in.
Really, what can his father do him now?
One afternoon they go and drive, Ty isn't really sure where the impulse comes from, but looking over at Tony in the passenger seat of his red convertible, he doesn't really mind . The sky is blue and Tony cranes his head up to watch the clouds though slitted eyes. Ty just watches him.
They cruise down coastal roads that weave along the seaside and on a long, empty stretch of tarmac, no other vehicles in sight, Tony grins at him with that mischievous look in his eye. Ty knows something is coming, but strangely, he doesn't seem to mind.
Tony unbuckles his seatbelt, slides off the seat to stand on the floor of the car, and stands up, hands gripping onto the windshield -- that is until he raises them up like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, straight like a cross, like Rose from the Titanic, like a living, breathing symbol of living fast and dying slow, of freedom, of the young American life with no future but all money.
Ty thinks that Tony is a special kind of person. One that can do that. One that grows apart from the rest, so beautiful, so different that he can look like a statue 38 m high and 97 years old, one of the wonders of the world, just by standing up.
The radio’s playing in the kitchen one morning and Tony’s up and dancing jovially, happily, swinging his hips and mouthing along to the words, Ty leans on the doorway and watches the domestic scene, honey light falling into the kitchen, Tony twirling, stirring a bowl of what Ty assumes is pancake batter.
“Hey, creeper,” Tony says after a minute, showing no signs of stopping.
Tony just laughs back, chances a smile over his shoulder. “Pancakes?”
“Yes, please .”
They go out driving again — it's become quite a habit — but this time they stop at a little lot overlooking the sea, probably meant for horny teenagers (which they are) to fool around (which they won't, since Tony is putting his feet up on the dash and retrieving a cigarette from some hidden pocket inside his jacket.)
Tony slides another one out of the pack, holds it out to him.
“Where'd you get these?” Ty asks, accepting it along with the lighter. Tony is already lit, and he’s leaning his head back, inhaling with the ease of practice.
He waits a second, and then blows out in a thick plume of ash-grey smoke. “you got me a fake ID, didn't you?”
Ty laughs, “yeah, I guess I did.”
“Hm. it’s your own fault I'm a sinner.”
“Smoking is a sin?”
Tony shrugs, “I don't know. You think I go to church?”
“ I certainly don't.”
They sit in silence for a few minutes, the burn of cigarettes deep in their lungs.
Finally, Tony turns to him, “why, look, I’m Frenchy,” he lets the smoke rise out of the corner of his mouth in little smoke-puffs, a perfect imitation.
Ty laughs, “Betty should give you a pink satin jacket.”
Tony hits him in the shoulder, holding the still-burning cigarette aloft in the air like a flag.
“If anything, I’m a T-bird,” Tony rolls his eyes.
“Sure, baby. Keep dreaming.”
“I love you,” he whispers, and Tony shifts in his sleep.
“I've got school starting up,” Tony tells him, “another week, then I have to go back.”
That's what Ty likes most about Tony. There's no dancing around a subject, it’s just blunt, there, out in the open. “I mean, school is really important so —”
“It’s okay,” Tony interrupts, whispering against his lips when did he get so close?, “I don't want to go back either.”
After that, any impending doom is wiped away.
That week, Ty feels like a child playing near dusk, happy — giddy, until he catches sight of the sun slipping down the horizon, aka, the first day of semester.
Tony leaves early in the morning, he gets up too, stands by the door to wave him goodbye, and watches him wheel his bags, lug them into the taxi, and drive away, the motor purring gently down the street.
The sun has set.