When Tony was five, he had a heart attack. Not a literal one, but you get the point. Tony had a heart attack and it was all because of two words on his wrist. Jarvis had explained to him that the words neatly etched into his wrist and resistant to any removal was a special sign.
“It will help you find your soulmate,” Jarvis said, rolling up his left sleeve to show his own beloved words curled around his bicep.
“Soulmate?” Tony questioned, head tilted to one side.
“Someone who will love you. Be with you forever,” Jarvis explained simply. It was more than that, but the answer was enough for five year old Tony.
Tony nodded, memorizing Jarvis’s explanation carefully. Because there was going to be someone for him one day. However, he didn’t expect the trouble the words on his wrist would cause him. That it would mean pain, anger and a hell lot of frustration.
So, really, five years old? And a heart attack? It shouldn’t be too hard to guess that Tony thought his kindergarten teacher was his. Also, Tony will totally deny that his five year old self fainted at the knowledge. He very maturely spoke to Mr. Hox after class (well, when he came back from the health office for his not fainting) and accepted that he was not in fact Mr. Hox’s soulmate. Tony’s first words to Mr. Hox was not on Mr. Hox’s skin. Therefore there was no way that Tony was Mr. Hox’s soulmate. Tony will also deny the pitying look Mr. Hox gave him in return on seeing the words on his wrist: Mr. Stark. By the way, Tony will maintain that it was a near escape. Mr. Hox was a balding old guy in his forties, all brusque and rough edges—trust the school to stick him in the class without the stereotypical nice lady teacher.
So, for the longest time, Tony despaired. From the moment he entered school, all throughout his life, there were like a million people who called him Mr. Stark.
“Mr. Stark, pay attention.”
“Well, Mr. Stark, I’ll like to see you do better.”
“Mr. Stark, what do you have to say about the current weapon market?”
“Oh, Mr. Stark, let me pick that up for you.”
It went on and on. Really. Just how was Tony supposed to pick out his soulmate out of everyone who fucking called him “Mr. Stark”? Once Howard died, the number of people calling him Mr. Stark increased exponentially. So, he slapped a watch over his wrist and said fuck it to the world. Not that it didn’t stop him from looking secretly, but it was truly a lost cause. For a while, Tony had half imagined that Pepper was the one. If only because she bantered with him so neatly. It was flirty.
“Mr. Stark,” she would say and smile at him, amused.
“Miss Potts,” he would say back and smiled because she did.
Not quite unexpectedly, Tony was wrong. He was genius enough to calculate the chances of Pepper being his. So, Miss Potts was not his. Not when she was happy with, ha, Happy. So, here, Tony was. Without a person to call his own. Then, bam! Steve happened. And Tony couldn’t give a damn about his soulmate or not.
Except Tony had a heart attack. Another one that was not too similar to his five year old self.
“Shit,” Tony muttered to himself, staring at the word on Steve’s skin. Because he knew Steve had to have a word or two, but Tony never saw it till now. Now after a night full of fun and exploration. Now after a year of dating. Now after freaking several years of knowing each other.
“Tony? What’s wrong?” Steve blinked up at him sleepily. His hair was mussed and he looked deliciously sinful, miles of beautiful grade A American flesh against white sheets.
“What’s the first thing you said to me?” Tony asked, and his heart was still ricocheting like crazy in his chest. It was a good thing Tony didn’t have an aneurysm otherwise it would have rupture on the spot then and there.
“What?” Steve was entirely confused, and his confused was one of the most adorable things Tony had ever seen in his life. But still, important matters at hand.
“I know. It’s an odd question. To be asking at—“ Tony squinted at the clock…wait, he didn’t have a clock. “At whatever time it is right now. But it’s important. So, answer up, soldier.”
“I don’t—“ Steve scrubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. Tony poked him.
“Come on, now. What did you say to me? The first time we met?”
Steve sighed, pulling himself up. He yawned. Then the realization of what Tony asked him made him straightened up, entirely alert. The sheets pooled against his waist, and Tony was really tempted to jump him if he wasn’t still heart beat mad over Steve’s word.
“Wait? Why are you asking this?” Steve asked cautiously.
“Can’t I just ask?” Tony said flippantly. He poked Steve in the stomach. “Come on. You have a perfect recall system. Powered by the serum. You should remember.”
“Tony,” Steve said, sounding both exasperated and fond. “You know that it doesn’t matter, right? I love you, and it doesn’t matter what our words say. I’ll still pick you over whoever I’m supposed to be with. Heck, I probably passed my soulmate a long time ago. It’s been years, and well it’s not like I could tell either.”
That was…Tony swallowed. That was really touching. He carefully looked Steve in the eye.
“I know that. It’s just…something occurred to me. Well, not really. I think—it’s just…”
Why was it so hard to get the damn words out? Tony wondered. Steve waited patiently for him to continue.
“Ah, fuck it,” Tony said. He pressed a finger to the word just below Steve’s left collarbone.
“Captain,” Tony said and hoped Steve would get it. Steve looked down.
“Okay,” Steve said. “And…?”
“Mr. Stark,” Tony rolled his eyes and gestured to himself.
“You are Mr. Stark,” Steve laughed and then trailed off. “Wait a second. Yours is—.”
“And I’m—“ Tony held out his wrist for Steve to see.
“Shit,” Steve cursed. “I thought—“
“Me too,” Tony said, dazed. “Because everyone calls me Mr. Stark.”
“And everyone calls me Captain,” Steve added, amazed. There was only one thing to do at this point.
“Well then,” Tony said and straddled Steve. “Captain.”
“How about we celebrate this discovery?” Tony all but purred. Steve kissed him fiercely in answer.