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He has a dreadful suspicion he's sober. There's a robot arm flailing wildly across the room from him, three monitors with lines and lines of scrolling code next to him on the floor. As far as he can tell when his eyes decide to focus - which is only about once every few minutes, really - there's not a flask or bottle in sight. This is out of character. It's Saturday night, and campus is abuzz, and he has a reputation to maintain.

Once he manages to stand up, that is.

"Okay," he tells the arm and the computer screens. "Right, you guys, I'm gonna leave you here for the next hour or, y'know, a lot of hours, so you just keep running and behave, is that fine? Cool? Okay, good."

He'll figure out what they are, later. He's often coded things while not a hundred percent on the surface of the planet. It'll earn him a PhD at some point. Soon, even, maybe. Which is to say, it's all in the future, and he needs to be seen somewhere tonight, put in an appearance, get drinks on the - well, someone's - fraternity or sorority house. He's Tony Stark, that's how this works. He's usually hauling himself up off the floor at someone else's place, but hey, he's managed to haul himself up off the floor.

He finds his way a few doors down, where the noise is, where the lights are. They make his head hurt, tonight - another out-of-character moment. He should have someone debug him or something, look over his source code. Explain himself to a rubber duck. Then again, he doesn't think he'd trust himself not to delete his own brain.

Someone hands him a drink. See, this is the best part of college - you get to just a part of the crowd. You don't even need to be Tony Stark. You're noticed, of course, if you are him, but you get to have just as much fun as everybody else, with no one judging you. Only he ends up at the fringes tonight, instead of at the centre of the party. Sits down on a bench at the sidelines when his head spins. Lingers over the one drink like he's in his fucking forties, not his teens. Thinks about the mystery project he left back in his room. Thinks about how very indifferent he is to everyone in this room, and then it occurs to him to scour it looking for -

"Rhodey!" he says delightedly, pointing a finger at him, barely noticing when his glass slips from his hands and shatters on the floor. "Rhodey, Rhodey, Rhodey. I've missed you, honey bear."

Rhodey looks sober, too. That is not out of character. He's frowning, which is even more wonderfully normal. "Tony, you look like shit."

"What else is new," says Tony magnanimously, like he's accepting a compliment. "I'm not drunk, by the way. Came here to get drunk. Did not get drunk. Are you proud of me yet? Oh, see, we're not in private, sourpatch - why are you touching my face?"

"You're running a fever, Tony," Rhodey tells him, and oh, yeah, that would explain a lot, actually, and then Rhodey's dragging him out of the room, which is not fair at all, except that means he might get to kiss him, which, okay, is a little fair.

But then he presses a hand over his mouth for a moment to stop him talking, and lifts him up into his arms, and Tony makes a squeak of embarrassment.

"Hey, hey, could you not?"

"Shh," Rhodey says, and he's warm and strong and that's somehow enough. "Quit complaining. I'm taking you back to mine, okay? So I can hold you properly. What're you doing out here when you're sick?"

"Obie said not to," he says, muffled into Rhodey's shoulder. "Do the party thing any more. Bad company image, yada yada - "

"Oh," Rhodey says, "he said not to, so that's exactly what you're doing."

Tony wiggles in his arms, ends up with his nose pressed into his cheek. "Shut up, Rhodey. You gotta hold me."

"I can hold you, and also tell you you're a dumbass."

" - you gotta hold me, Rhodey, you said."

"Okay, all right, yeah, I did, you dork."

Rhodey scoffs, but puts him down gently on his bed, kisses him at the hairline, and when Tony looks up again, he's smiling.