Tony is forty-three, tired, in a business meeting and bored out of his mind when a voice vertebrates through his head, panic and shock griefgriefgrief bleeding through: I had a date.

Tony jerks in his chair, making nearly all the businessmen stop talking and look over at him. 

I- hello? hello, the voice continues, sounding even more panicked now, which probably isn’t helped by Tony’s constant stream of ohshitohshitfuckfuckfuck.

"I have a thing, sorry," Tony says, getting up and accidentally catching his hip on the edge of the table. He assumes he looks godawful, since Pepper actually stays when he says not to follow him.

Walking through the hall on shaky legs, Tony tries to calm his breathing. Seriously, what the fuck.

No offence, but where the hell have you been for the past 43 years, Tony sends, trying to get a hang on how this works, trying not to let any stray thoughts seep through the link, because he guesses blind panic isn’t what this guy needs right now.

What he gets back is grief, an overwhelming flood of it that makes Tony have to stop and lean against the elevator wall. Grief and shock and disbelief and the beginnings of anger, all mingling and getting shot through the link at Tony.

I’ve been, the voice says in Tony’s head. I. I’ve been away, I guess.

For how long, Tony sends. And you sound younger than me but you’re definitely not a baby, what with the talking thing, I thought this got activated when your soulmate is born, none of this is making sense, today is awful.

Whatever kind of day you’re having, believe me, I’m having a worse one, the voice sends back darkly. 

I do, Tony sends. Believe you. He’s still reeling from his borrowed grief, sagging against the elevator wall. What happened?

Another flood, unstoppable, and Tony’s head aches with it. Okay, okay, how about you explain it to me in person? Wherever you are, I can get a jet there.

You can get a jet, the voice says, dubious. I’m, uh, I’m in Brooklyn right now, but I’m being transported.

I’m in Manhattan, Tony sends, excitement brimming in him despite himself. Wherever you’re being transported to, I can get there. Do you know?

Back to SHIELD HQ, the voice sends, and Tony pauses as the elevator doors swish open. 

Would’ve pegged you for a soldier, the way you think, Tony sends, and he gets a laugh, quite bitter, in return.

I am. Or, I was. 

SHIELD doesn’t have soldiers.

That’s news to me, the voice sends, and Tony nods at Happy as he gets in the car, says, “SHIELD Headquarters,” and ignores the funny look Happy gives him.

What’s your name, Tony sends, and there’s a pause before the voice says, Steve.


It’s not until he sees him, until Fury introduces them with a deadpan voice and Tony realizes why the voice in his head, his soulmate, sounded so familiar, and how someone younger than him could have been away for 43 years-

"Oh," Tony says, staring at Captain America, who stares back at him with wide eyes and the beginnings of a smile that can’t quite make it yet.

In Tony’s head, Steve says, Tony… Stark. Huh. Not a coincidence, then.

Tony bristles, inwardly and outwardly, and Steve’s smile dies completely. 

Right, Steve says in his head, and Tony doesn’t know what he just broadcast to him through his mind or otherwise, but he assumes that Steve now knows Howard was never Father of the Year.

"Well, it’s nice to meet you," Steve says, standing and holding out his hand, and Tony startles a little at hearing his voice aloud.

It takes a second for Tony to remember to hold out his own hand, and they don’t really get to shake hands, they pretty much just stand there holding hands as the bond solidifies and Tony can pretty much feel most of Steve’s mind, which isn’t a very good place to be at the moment.

"Sorry," Steve says, trying to smile and failing, dropping Tony’s hand after he squeezes it. "I know I’m not-"

"Hey, you’re sort of entitled to be a complete fucking mess right now," Tony points out, and beside them, Fury swears loudly.

They both look at him, and Fury glares back. “If you just did what I think you did-“

"Sorry not sorry," Tony says, and Fury swears again.

omg i feel like this is a jerk thing to do, THIS FIC IS DELIGHTFUL OK, but i just—i read this prompt differently and I COULDN’T HELP IT??

Tony’s internal voice doesn’t sound like him.

His voice is all edges and sharpness, hard-hit consonants. His enunciation is very precise. He knows because he spent the first decade of his life being taught how to speak clearly and confidently.

The voice in his head is different. Deeper. It’s easy, almost drawling—which Tony has tried his damndest to fix, it is insanely difficult to learn proper diction when the voice in your head refuses to match it—and has this hint of a Brooklyn accent that Tony finds mystifying.

It’s not until he’s fifteen that he learns it’s not normal for one’s inner voice to sound different from one’s outer voice.

He’s fifteen when he learns that the voice in his head is the voice of his soulmate.


Twenty comes and goes and Tony figures he’s still got time for that soulmate to show up, he’s young, and there are plenty of other pretty people to keep him occupied in the mean time.

He’s less optimistic when his thirtieth birthday rolls by and there’s still no sign of his supposed soulmate. He’s still enjoying spreading himself around and seeing what’s out there, but there’s a part of him he tries to shunt to the back of his mind that aches at the sound of his own thoughts.

By forty, Tony’s given up entirely. He’s read everything there is to read about soulmates and apparently it’s possible to go through life without ever meeting yours. Some people hear a voice in their heads that never comes to fruition because the person kicks it as a kid or whatever. That voice in that person’s head is all that remains of them. Tony had been skeptical about those anecdotes, because how the hell do you know your soulmate’s dead if you never meet them? But there have been a couple cases where somebody heard a recording and recognized the voice instantly only to discover the horrible truth. It doesn’t take much when you’ve heard something your entire life.

So Tony guesses his soulmate died somewhere along the way. That’s fine. He’s done pretty well for himself, considering, if you discount a few major missteps along the way. No one has to know about the way his chest burns when he sees other ‘mated couples.

He’s got a reputation to uphold anyhow.


When he’s forty-two, Tony gets a call from Agent, and the only thing he says is: “We’ve got someone we’d like you to show around.

Tony bitches and moans and shows up twenty minutes late, but he shows up, because Agent is good people.

He tips his sunglasses down so he can look over the rims at him, one hand fiddling with the nuts and bolts he’s got in his pocket—he’s not sure how they got there in the first place. “So?” he says. “Who’s the special gal or guy S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to pay my very, very pricey hourly consultant fee to escort around? Does this mean you’re dabbling in prostitution? I’ve never been a prostitute, this could be fun.”

“You are not under any circumstances to do anything that might be considered prostitution,” Agent says sternly and Tony grins at him. He beckons Tony forward with a crooked finger and leads him through a door in to a drab gray lounge. Everything at S.H.I.E.L.D. is drab and gray. “Captain Rogers?” he calls.

A tall blond man with eyes the color of the California sky and broad, broad shoulders, Mary mother of God, steps through a doorway in the opposite wall and Tony says, without meaning to, “Hel-lo.”

The man’s features widen and slacken in a boyish expression of shock. He touches his temple and takes half a step forward. “You—that’s what it sounds like.”

Tony processes the words first and replies, “That’s what what sounds like?” and then hears it and his jaw drops. “Oh my god.”

“What’s happening?” Agent says, wary.

“You’re my soulmate,” Tony blurts.

“Oh no,” Agent says.

“I thought you were dead.

Rogers blinks, something like wonder on his face. “I kind of was.” He tilts his head forward just a hair and smiles crookedly, shyly. “Soulmates; is that what they’re calling it now?”

“Now,” Tony repeats and then everything comes together all at once. Captain Rogers, tall, blond, and broad, S.H.I.E.L.D., now, holy shit, his soulmate is Captain Goddamn America. “You’ve gotta be shitting me.”

“I’ve got to report this to Fury,” Agent sighs. Tony’s barely aware of him exiting the room.

Forty years he had to wait, because his soulmate is CAPTAIN FRICKING AMERICA and he was frozen in some godforsaken iceberg in Antarctica. Although, he supposes it’s good the guy wasn’t defrosted when he was like, a toddler or something, when his half-crazed dad had been hoofing it around every summer looking for him, because that would be weird, and gross, and weird, and Jesus, he’s somehow simultaneously cradle robber and cradle robee in this scenario.

“Um,” Rogers says, and scratches at his forehead, a little crease forming between his eyebrows. “No?” His shoulders start to hunch like he’s trying to make himself smaller and it’s adorable and Tony wants it to stop.

“You sure took your sweet time. Any longer and this,” he gestures between them, “would be way creepy.”

Rogers looks at him with wide eyes for a second and then starts to smile and it’s the sweetest thing Tony’s ever seen. “I’m sorry for making you wait,” he says sincerely. “This isn’t where I expected to find you.”

Tony lets out a burst of surprised laughter. “Not in your wildest dreams.”

He shakes his head. “Not even.”

Rogers closes the distance between them then and Tony feels the prickle of excitement along every nerve. He can’t believe how much better the voice sounds in reality, how perfect every intonation is. He can’t believe he’d given up. “Hi,” Rogers says, face schooled into a serious expression, and holds out a hand. “Steve Rogers. It’s nice to meet you.”

Tony can’t help the stupid grin that spreads across his face as he reaches out and takes it. “Tony Stark. It’s a pleasure.”

“It sure is,” Steve murmurs and squeezes his hand.


omg this is adorable

I DEMAND ANOTHER! *throws post on the floor*

Nakki you are an awful person and you bait me constantly. :P

Here’s a third take:


"Oh fuck," Tony says, right before the bomb goes off, and he wakes up to Steve saying "Oh fuck" in his ear.

"You got that right," he says, sitting up. Steve, who is standing a weird distance away considering he was just whispering in Tony’s ear, looks startled as he turns to him.

"What right?" he asks, and then the voice in Tony’s ear — no, in his head, oh shit, says, Oh God, what if he’s concussed? Why won’t he pad his goddamn helmet?

The guy who set them up the bomb was ranting right before it detonated about how he would bring all of Manhattan together. Tony has a really bad feeling about this.

"Me too," Steve says aloud, and then looks confused. 

Tony gives it a shot. I think we’re telepathically linked, he tries.

Steve stares at him, eyes wide.

Oh, FUCK, they think in unison.

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laurel lance appreciation week: day one (favorite season)

"you and me against an army? i love those odds."

126. The Caretaker

Listen, it’s lovely talking to you but I really got to get on. I’m a caretaker now. Look, I got a brush!