Part One: Thor and Loki
Note: Events concerning the Thor and Avengers movie happen differently here. Loki is still Jotun, but he does not fall like at the end of the movie. Nor does Loki amass an army like he did in Avengers. He does still rampage and destroy stuff because, well, it's Loki.
What should have been the happiest moment of Loki's life, happened, ironically, during one of the worst moments of Loki's life. Loki had been sitting beside his brother, reading a book while Thor gazed up at the clear, blue sky, when it happened.
He kissed Thor for the first time.
Their lips touched and for one beautiful, perfect moment, the world stilled and Loki's world was complete. His brother froze in shock, his lips still and unmoving, but Loki didn't care. His heart was pumping out of his chest, and he was dizzy with elation. And then Thor's lips moved against his, his tongue tracing Loki's lips.
It was perfect until Thor pulled back. His eyes were wide with shock and not a little bit of horror. Loki's heart plummeted into his chest, and it felt like he'd been sucker-punched.
“What is it you have done?” Thor asked.
“I would think that would be obvious, even to one as dim-witted as you can be.” Loki snapped, but his heart wasn't in the insult, and he knew Thor could tell.
Thor sighed and shifted uncomfortably for a moment before he rested his hand against Loki's shoulder. “Brother, please explain yourself.” The Thunder God gently urged.
Loki sat up straight, and stared his brother, shocked, as what seemed like an electric current raced through his body. He'd heard tales, whispered and reverent, throughout Asgard, but he hadn't hoped, he hadn't dared believe what he'd wished for in his deepest of hearts could be possible.
And yet it was true. The electricity running through his body, Thor's hand glowing where it rested upon his skin, and Loki's mind brushing up against his brother's said the gossip was true: Thor was his soulmate. He'd found him.
“Brother,” Loki breathed, his mind brushing up against his brother's. He could feel, as clear as day, Thor's shock, a surge of happiness cresting in his mind along with love, strong and all-encompassing. The love and happiness crashed, like a wave upon the banks of a rocky shore under the heavy weight of his brother's denial. It hurt Loki's mind, like he'd ran headfirst into a wall.
“No,” Thor said. “This cannot be true.”
“You know it is!” Loki hissed. He tried to draw his brother closer, both mentally and physically. His arms drew Thor closer and his breath was hot and desperate against Thor's face. Loki's mind kept hitting that damnable wall, and Loki didn't understand how his brother was keeping him out when Loki was a master of magics.
“No.” Thor denied again. He broke easily from Loki's grasp and stood. He paced fast and furious, back and forth. Loki followed his brother with his gaze, unwilling to let his soulmate stray from his gaze.
“I have felt it. You have felt it, brother.” Loki said. He tried, and failed to keep his anger and desperation from his voice. “We are one of the few, brother, we are soulmates. Just like mother and father before us.”
“It cannot be you!” Thor roared. The sky darkened with his brother's rising temper. Lightning and rain would soon follow.
“And can it not be?” Loki asked. “Am I not worthy of your love? Am I not a good match?”
Thor's eyes were glazed with unshed tears. “Why would the Gods choose my own brother as my soulmate? You are not a warrior.”
It felt like Thor's words were arrows piercing his heart. Hurt was a stinging, burning pain in his chest. The happiness he'd felt bubbling inside of him only moments before was gone, instead replaced by a numbness that would have frightened Loki in any other situation. Loki welcomed it now, as it allowed him to continue facing his brother's rage and what Loki could now see was fear, head-on.
“I am less than you because I do not face enemies with a mighty weapon, but instead my magics?” Loki asked calmly. “What I cannot match with brute strength, I am your equal with cunning and my arts. You know this is true.”
Loki allowed a small smile to touch his face when his brother conceded his point. “Please, brother, tell me what it is you truly object to.”
Thor's mouth opened and closed a few times before he finally spoke. His words, when they came, were rough and sounded as if they'd torn his throat on the way out. “You cannot give me the strong, warrior sons I need. How can I rightfully claim my place as King of Asgard, if my mate will give me naught but weak children?”
Hearing Thor's words, Loki was unable to to keep the hurt off his face. Tears fell from his eyes, and Loki cursed himself for not being strong enough to keep them at bay; that he wasn't able to remain stone-faced and blank as his brother tore his world apart piece by painful piece.
“You will leave me!” Loki cried, unable to face his brother in this moment. Thor's face was terrible to see, tormented and filled with sorrow. Loki wanted to hate him, he truly did, but he loved his brother, he always had. It was cruel and painful punishment to be handed his soulmate, the literal other half of his soul, and then find out that the one he'd secretly loved and wanted for his whole life found him a weak and unworthy mate.
“I truly am sorry, Loki,” Thor whispered. “This cannot be. There has been a mistake.”
Loki swayed drunkenly as he stood facing his brother. He wiped at the tears on his face angrily. “You know there has been no mistake, brother. Our minds were touching, our souls brushed against each other. You have insulted me gravely, and I ask that you leave me in peace now, so that I may try and forget that I have ever found you were the other half of my soul.”
Thor bowed his head and, after casting one more lingering look at Loki, he walked away. He seemed, in that moment, small and pathetic. Loki's wounded, aching mind wanted to brush touch his again, but he knew that was denied him. The mental bond that should have been his was gone forever. He would never again know the sweet caress of Thor's mind with his. Nor would he ever have Thor as his soulmate.
“You deny us the happiness the Gods bestowed upon us.” Loki said. “You are a fool, brother. I will hate you forever for this.”
Millenia ago, soulmates were common occurrences in Asgard. After Odin and Frigga found each other, Asgardians stopped finding their soulmates, and the soulmate bond became something of a legend. People talked about finding their soulmates, longing in their voices, and their eyes were envious as they gazed upon their King and Queen.
No one knew why the people of Asgard were denied their mates. The people still married and lived happy lives. They still had children. Their children married and had children. And yet, they spent their lives always looking for the other half of their soul, and never finding him or her.
It was said that when you found your soulmate, your mate's hands glowed red as it touched your skin. As your mate touched you, electricity ran under your skin, and your minds joined together. Finding your soulmate was the happiest moment of your life, and every Asgardian longed for that feeling of utter completion.
Rejection was humiliating, and the rage from it burned inside Loki's very soul. His heart felt barren and empty, and his very mind felt raw and aching. Pride forced Loki to pretend nothing had happened between him and his brother, and as the days melted away into years, it became easier to pretend Thor hadn't held his very heart in his hand and squashed it effortlessly.
Nighttime was when it was hardest to act like nothing had happened. Loki found his mind twisting and turning, as it reached for his brother's. His dreams offered him little respite, as his mind went back to happier times he and his brother had shared.
He often woke with his face wet with tears.
It was a terrible blow to his psyche when he found out he wasn't truly Asgardian, but rather Jotun. One of the things Thor had objected to, their very relation, was false. That Thor did not draw Loki into his arms and comfort him was yet another point of contention.
As the years passed his mind became a dark and twisted place. His anger and humiliation became a balm to his tattered and bruised soul, and he began to think that if he wasn't good enough for Thor, his very soulmate, then he'd find somewhere he could take his frustration out on.
And after his brother was banished to Midgard and then found love and a relationship with someone who wasn't him, Thor's precious Midgard seemed the perfect place.
Loki smirked as he watched his magical army swarm around the Avengers. His brother was magnificent in his rage as he wielded Mjölnir and smashed his infantrymen to shards of glittering light. Even without their minds joined, Loki could feel his brother's anger, and Loki was viciously glad his brother was as angry as he was.
Let Thor remember Loki existed. He wasn't a bug that could be brushed away. He was Thor's soulmate, and he was irreplaceable. Jane could try all she wanted, but she would never be enough. And if Thor couldn't understand that, and if he couldn't learn to accept Loki and all he had to offer, then Loki was going to burn Thor's world, and his precious woman, to the ground.
“You will not forget me.” Loki murmured. Thor looked up, and for one bright and shining instant, all was right in the world as their eyes touched.
“Brother,” Thor said, his voice filled with a longing Loki felt soul deep. “Stop this now.”
“Why should I?” Loki asked. “You have left me with nothing!”
“This is wrong and you know it!” Thor cried. Loki waved his hand and his magical army froze in place. Loki could hear the Hulk roaring in the distance. The Black Widow's voice called for the Iron Man.
“What care have I for what is right or what is wrong?” Loki said.
“You are not a child! Your actions have consequences!”
Loki scoffed. “Brother, you should not talk of consequences, for you truly do not care for them.” He continued before his brother could utter another useless excuse. “For if you did then you would never have treated me as you did years ago.”
Thor seemed ashamed. “I was a fool.”
Loki froze, and his heart seemed to still in his chest. He could barely force the words out. “You admit you erred?”
“Then, why...” Loki could not finish his sentence. Hope blossomed cruelly in his chest, and try as he might, he could not stop its bloom.
“I should not have said what I did to you, and long have I regretted the words that left my lips. I knew not how to take them back, and worse yet, pride would not let me speak my apology. Long has my mind ached for the sweet touch of yours, and my skin yearns for yours pressed against mine. I do not have the right to ask for your forgiveness, and yet I still must try. Do you think you can forgive me?”
“What of your Lady Jane?” Loki could not believe he was asking about his brother's maiden, when his brother had just confessed he regretted the worst night of Loki's admittedly long life.
Thor blushed, something Loki could count the number of times he'd seen on one hand. “I care deeply for her, and yet, she is not you. We parted amicably some weeks ago. I believe she is now happily with a SHIELD agent.”
Though he knew it was a sign of weakness he could not afford, he collapsed to his knees, his legs no longer able to support him. He could feel, as if through a haze, the prickle of his magic as his magical army vanished. He definitely felt Thor's arms, strong and sure, as they wrapped around his shoulders and drew Loki against his brother's strong chest.
“What are you doing?” Loki asked. His tongue felt thick and all-together too large for his mouth.
“I am doing what I should have done long ago.” Thor's large hand touched his chin gently and tilted his head so Loki's eyes met Thor's. “I am choosing you and any children we may have in the future.”
“Even though our offspring will not be the warriors you crave?”
Thor's arms tightened around Loki's even further, strong and resilient like a steel trap. “Our children will be anything but weak. They will have your cunning and my strength. They will be unstoppable warriors, and I will love every child you bless us with.”
Loki's eyes widened as, out of the corner of his eye, Thor's hand began to glow a bright red. Familiar electricity tingled beneath Loki's skin. He gasped as his mind was enveloped by Thor's. The first time he remembered Thor's fear and denial. This time, there was nothing but love, happiness and acceptance to be found.
“I feel your love.” Loki whispered, awed and humbled.
Thor almost purred as he pulled Loki closer still. “You are my soulmate, Loki, and you are perfect in every way.”
Loki blushed. “Shut up and kiss me.” Thor laughed, yet his mouth was nothing but hungry as his lips found Loki's.
Part Two: Steve and Tony
Tony Stark was familiar with loneliness. Growing up with few friends and finishing school by nineteen left him with little time to forge any serious friendships. His playboy lifestyle filled the romantic void in his life with one-night stands, but using and leaving women (and men) left him feeling even more empty and alone then his chosen partner probably did.
What he longed for, though he would never admit it, was the other half of his soul. He wanted his soulmate. He'd longed for him or her since he was twelve and he'd witnessed that special moment when his mother's friend Kayla found her soulmate.
The look in Kayla's eyes was something Tony would never forget; the fear which morphed into joy as soon as her soulmate's hands touched hers and began to glow a faint red. Tony's mother drew him into her arms, and her sigh was filled with envy.
“What happened, Mom?” Tony asked.
“Kayla found her soulmate, Tony.” His mom answered.
“Every person has someone out there who is the other piece of their soul. You can go your whole life without finding the other half of your soul. You just never feel complete. Kayla is one of the lucky few who found hers.”
Tony didn't need to ask if his mother and father were soulmates. The naked longing in her voice explained everything. Tony didn't want to be like his mother, married to someone who wasn't her other half. He only wanted to be happy with the person who completed him.
Now, years later, he was still alone, and he was seriously rethinking the vow he'd made when he was twelve. He'd been young and foolish then. What did he know about love? What could he possibly know, back then, about just how goddamn long and lonely life could be, waiting, always waiting, for your soulmate to find you?
Tony's whole world changed, and not for the better, when he met Steve Rogers.
Tony had heard about Steve Rogers. How could he not? Tony's father, Howard Stark, had had nothing but glowing praise for the super soldier he'd literally thawed from ice. Steve seemed to be perfect and everything Tony wasn't. In time, Tony grew to hate Steve Rogers, which was ironic, considering they were soulmates.
Their first meeting could be considered nothing less than a disaster. Tony invited Steve to the mansion to discuss the possibility of joining the Avengers team. Tony doesn't get much further than mentioning that Black Widow is signed up, and that an Asgardian Thunder God was talking to the head of SHIELD about the possibility that his rampaging brother might be making an appearance soon, before their conversation deteriorates. Fast.
“I've heard a lot about you,” Steve Rogers says after Tony lapses into silence. Captain America's gaze is less than impressed as it sweeps over Tony's body. Tony bristles under Steve's glance.
“My father had a lot of glowing praise for you.” Tony says. He arches his eyebrow when Steve's face brightens at the mention of Howard Stark. “Oh yeah,” Tony's voice turns sarcastic. “You're apparently some über soldier that kicked Nazis butt. That's what I want on my résumé .”
“I sense sarcasm coming from you.” Steve said.
Tony laughed mockingly. This was the perfect soldier his father praised to heaven and back? This guy was a joke. Sure he was muscled and ruggedly handsome, but those kind of men weren't lacking in Tony's life. From where he was standing, Captain America was less than impressive.
“That super serum may have enhanced your body, but it doesn't seem to have done anything for your mind. A little slow there, huh, buddy?”
Tony blinked and then, huh, Steve was in front of him, his eyes spitting fire. His mouth was set in a moue of displeasure, and damn, Tony wished he had his Iron Man suit, because it sure seemed like he was going to get his butt kicked.
“How about we go a few rounds, and see just how slow I’m not?” Steve said, his voice thick with anger. “Your father neglected to mention just how impudent you are.”
“'Impudent'? You're sure pulling out the big words there, Grandpa.”
Tony grunts when Steve's fist connects with his face. Tony's hand comes up and grips Steve's hand defensively, and then, crap, he recognizes that red glow. His mind snaps back to his mother's friend Kayla, and the joy on her face. And yep, there's no joy there, on Tony's end. There's only despair and not a little rage.
He found his soulmate. He found what he's always wanted. And he hates Steve. He can't stand him. And this is the guy who he's supposed to spend the rest of his life with? What a joke.
There's no comprehension on Steve's face, just anger. Tony wonders if Steve has ever heard of soulmates, or if he's just forgotten. Tony wagers that Steve has forgotten. It's doubtful Steve was talking about the possibility of a soulmate during the war, and Tony's father would not have felt the need to mention it after freeing Steve.
“I would love to go a couple of rounds with you, Cap, but you see, my schedule's a little bit too full.” Tony says after he can find his tongue. His mind seems foggy, and his skin is tingling in an unpleasantly distracting manner. He shoves Steve's hand out of the way and steps back, desperate for whatever space he can get between them. Steve seems surprised, but he doesn't protest.
Steve sighs and makes his way to the door. He pauses at the last second and points his finger at Steve. “I'll join your team, Tony, but you keep your distance. I don't need you biting at my heels and distracting me.”
“Whatever you say, Gramps.” Tony snarks. Steve glares and stalks out of the room.
Three glasses of his strongest Whiskey later and Tony groans and hits his forehead against the chair's armrest. “Soulmates, huh? What a joke.”
Tony never thought he'd actually go and fall in love with Steve Rogers, especially after their less than spectacular first meeting. But what do you know, it actually happened? Tony didn't go out of his way to avoid Steve, but, at the same time, they were thrown together since they were in the same organization.
Tony found out that not only was Steve strong, but he was compassionate as well. He went out of his way to help civilians. He volunteered in his free time. Steve donated money. He helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
He was perfect. Tony felt despair well up inside of him, as he fell more and more in love with the man he couldn't seem to be in a room with for longer than a few moments before they were arguing like school children.
In one of Tony's more desperate, emo moments he'd never admit to, he'd tried to make a list of all the reasons he shouldn't love Steve. He tore the list up after he'd finished titling it.
He already knew he was in over his head.
Tony nearly backed out of the kitchen when he entered and found Steve sitting at the table, eating a bagel. Steve's hair was a mussed up mess, and there was smear of cream cheese on the corner of his lip. He looked adorably rumpled. Tony wanted to kiss him senseless.
“Rogers,” Tony said in lieu of backing away. Steve nodded and took another bite of his bagel. Tony smothered a sigh and poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Any plans today?” Steve asked politely.
“The usual. Going to tinker with a weapon I'm thinking of adding to my suit.”
“That seems...exciting.” Steve said.
Tony nodded. Both men nodded awkwardly, and when the silence began to get uncomfortable, Tony decided it was time to retreat. It was hard enough being in the same room as Steve, but being forced to converse with him when they couldn't stand each other, and Steve was his soulmate but didn't know? The situation was geared to blow up in Tony's face, and he wanted to take cover before that happened.
“Tony?” Steve's hesitant voice had Tony pausing in the doorway.
“Yeah, Cap?” Tony knew he should be running, he knew it, but some masochistic part of him wanted to hear what Steve was going to ask.
“Do you think we can start over? We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot.”
Tony snorted into his cup of coffee. “You wanted to smash my face in.” Tony grinned at the answering amusement on Steve's face. “And yet, I've had worst first meetings. If you get a chance, ask Pepper about my business meeting with the head of the Mexican clean air corporation. We're still renewing the restraining order every year.”
Steve laughed. “I imagine you antagonize a lot of people.”
“It's my brilliant mind. People can't keep up with me.”
Steve's face turned serious, all amusement bleeding away. “So what do you say, Stark? Can we try again?”
Oh boy, this was going to hurt. Even though he should, Tony couldn't say no. He wanted to be near Steve, even if he couldn't have him. It was the dumbest thing he could possibly do, and he knew it. And yet...
“Yeah. Let's try again, Steve.”
“Come and join me, Tony Stark!” A very drunk Thor called, four nights after Tony had tried and failed to make his 'I Should Not Love Steve' list. One glass of whatever the hell Thor had mixed up, and Tony was very, very drunk. And very, very sad. It wasn't a good combination for Tony, and he found himself pouring his heart out to the Thunder God.
“I just love him so much!” Tony wailed. He gripped his glass so hard, his knuckles were white. “We fought the first time we met, and the second, and the third...and just this morning, I agreed to try and be his friend! What was I thinking?! I volunteered to be his friend, which is stupid, because we're soulmates! The one who is going to get hurt is me! He unfucking fair is that?!”
“That is unfair.” Thor agreed. He seemed to be gazing at some point just over Tony's fireplace.
“Yeah it is.”
“But,” Thor said, his voice loud and booming, and wow, Thor did not know how to moderate his voice when he was intoxicated, “I do not see why you cannot tell Steve he is your soulmate. You two would put aside your differences and be together.”
“Because if I told him, Steve would reject me. He wouldn't want a screw-up like me as his mate.” Tony slashed his hand for emphasis, and nearly fell off the chair for his troubles.
Thor blinked owlishly. “I do not understand. You are a very wealthy individual. Money means a lot in this world, does it not?”
Tony barked out a laugh. “Money doesn't mean anything to Steve. He has a lot of his own. Of course,” Tony's chest puffed up with pride, “He doesn't have as much as me.” He deflated as he thought of Steve donating and volunteering. “It isn't a selling point for him.”
Thor's hand slapped onto his shoulder. “Do not discount your mate's love, especially when you have not told him of your unique situation.”
Tony slapped Thor's hand away. “What do you know about love troubles? You have Jane. You're happy.” Tony yelped and backed away as much as the chair allowed as Thor's face darkened.
“I have a soulmate back on Asgard. I was unnecessarily cruel to him, and I drove him away. Because I acted brashly, and without thought, I have no chance of ever reconciling with him. I will have thousands of years alone, tormented by memories of what I should have said and done. It is torture.”
“Can't you go back and apologize?” Tony asked. It was unfathomable to think of Thor having a soulmate, and screwing things up as badly as Tony himself had.
“Alas, no,” Thor said. The grief on Thor's face was terrible to see. “Loki's mind has become dark and twisted, and I cannot reach him. There is no hope for us.”
“Wait a minute! Loki! Your brother Loki? The one who is coming to Earth kill us all?”
Thor glared at Tony. “It is as I have told your SHIELD director: Loki will harm no one. He will be coming for me alone. Midgard will be safe.” Thor thrust another drink into Tony's hand. “Now, have more spirits, and let us forget our dark thoughts for a moment.”
For the moment, forgetting was all Tony could hope for.
“Huh,” Tony said. He tilted his head to the side and squinted at Thor and Loki who were kissing passionately. “He did say Loki was his soulmate.”
Steve was gaping at the two Gods, seemingly beyond words. Clint seemed almost jealous as he gazed at the pair. The Hulk was off to the side, stomping on already destroyed cars. Natasha was the only one who was paying any attention to Tony.
“Don't you think you could have maybe mentioned it to us?” She asked, her hands on her hips. She was glaring at him in a way that hinted pain may soon be coming at him.
Tony held his hands up in a placating way. “I told you that Thor said his brother was only going to be coming after him! And see, no civilians were injured! We were barely touched!”
“Still,” Natasha said, “I would have liked to have my camera ready.”
“You better be joking.” Tony said, only half serious. Thor and Loki glued together, kissing, were very hot.
Having two Gods who were soulmates and very happy, living with you when your own situation wasn't even close to being resolved, was very hard. Especially since Thor and Loki were showing him in vivid and sometimes all too graphic detail what he could be having with Steve.
“I can't believe Fury is letting Loki stay on Earth.” Clint said. He and Steve both cringed when Loki moaned from his and Thor's bedroom, two floors up. Soundproof walls meant nothing when two Gods were having wild and enthusiastic sex. Who would have guessed?
“Or that Loki would be living with us.” Steve said. His glare was accusing, but Tony wasn't offended. He and Steve were getting along a lot better now, but anyone would be grumpy if they'd been subjected to Loki's wide array of disturbingly pornographic moans for the past forty minutes.
“Hey! I'm only doing what Fury told me to, and that's keep our enemy close!” Tony protested.
“I think,” Natasha said, not even bothering to look up from her magazine, “That Fury couldn't say no when he had an enraged Thunder God demanding his soulmate be allowed to stay on Earth. It was either say yes or have his office destroyed.”
“And maybe loose a limb or two.” Tony said.
Everyone cringed as Loki cried, “Harder, Thor! Harder!”
For the fourth night in a row, Tony couldn't sleep. He'd went to bed shortly after 2 AM, and only because JARVIS had turned off the power in his workstation. After tossing and turning for close to an hour, and contemplating taking a sleep pill, Tony had decided to forgo sleep and watch some TV downstairs.
His nights had been plagued by thoughts of Steve Rogers. The way he laughed, the way his smile made the corner of his eyes crinkle, the way he bit his bottom lip when he was thinking, the way he always smelled of Old Spice cologne that Natasha had bought him, the way....
So, yeah. He thought of Steve Rogers a lot, and not only was it pathetic, because Tony knew he could end his misery if he just tried to talk to Steve. Tony just couldn't bring himself to do it. What made Tony's situation even more pathetic, was that he and Steve were getting a long a lot better. They were now close friends. They spent most of Steve's free days together, commiserating about the two Gods living amongst them, unwilling to keep their hands off each other, and training together too.
So what was holding Tony back?
He was afraid. Tony Stark, billionaire and brave crime fighter, was too scared to tell his friend that not only were they soulmates, but that Tony loved him. He couldn't make the words come out, no matter how much he practiced saying the words in his mind.
When it came down to it, Tony didn't feel like he was good enough to be Steve's teammate. He felt like he'd never make up for what his company had done in the past, and he was still both simultaneously ashamed and proud of the party-boy life he'd led not too long ago. What was he realistically giving Steve? A mega-rich man, with a huge ego and a checkered past and a childhood that left him with feelings of inadequacy?
Tony Stark wasn't anything special. He was pathetic.
What would he do, if Steve turned him down? Would he be able to walk away from the Avengers, his friends and teammates? Tony didn't think he could. He'd still have his company, true, but that wouldn't be enough to keep him going. He needed Steve in his life. He couldn't go on without him.
“Woah!” Steve's voice jolted Tony from his thoughts. “Didn't realize you were up.” Steve sat down beside Tony, close enough that their left arm and shoulder brushed together. “Couldn't sleep?”
Tony laughed without humor. “Something like that.”
Steve glanced at him, concerned, and rested his hand casually against Tony's knee. “I'll sit with you, then.”
Tony covered his awkwardness with a cough. “I'd like that.”
They sat together, not speaking, until Clint stumbled across them a few hours later. It was the the perfect beginning to the day.
“Tell me again why I have to go?” Tony asked, as Pepper straightened the lapels of his suit jacket. “I own Stark Industries. Can't I pay someone to go?” He rolled his eyes when Pepper shot him an exasperated look. “Ok, ok. So I can't do that. But still, I own the company. I should still be able to be late, instead of having to be there for the whole dinner.”
Pepper patted his shoulder in a consoling manner. “You promised Fury, and the CEOs of your company, that you'd be more responsible and be on your best behavior when you started the whole super hero thing. Part of being a responsible adult is showing up on time. For a dinner held in your honor.”
“Well then, I don't think I want to be responsible anymore.” Pepper laughed at him, and Tony felt his breath catch. “Why couldn't you be my soulmate?” He asked morosely. Tony cursed at the devastated look on Pepper's face, and damn, not only had he not meant for Pepper to hear that, he hadn't meant to hurt her.
“I'm sorry.” Tony blurted out, desperate for some damage control.
“Tony,” And God dammit, Pepper was using that voice, the one filled with pity and a hint of 'I love you, but I can't be with you' that had drove him nuts when they were still dating. He couldn't stand to hear that. He couldn't, not now when his heart was bleeding from whatever was going on with Steve. He couldn't bare Pepper's pity right now.
Pepper's voice froze him in place with one foot out the door. “Just tell Steve. Stop being a stubborn ass.”
“How did you know it was him?” Tony asked. Because other than JARVIS and Thor, no one was supposed to know.
Pepper looked exasperated again. “I know you, Tony.” It wasn’t much of an answer, but at the same time, it was. Pepper knew him better than anyone, so Tony was a fool to think she wouldn't have figured it out.
“Please, Tony, tell Steve tonight. I can't bare to see you hurting much longer.” Pepper pleaded. “If not for yourself, than for me.”
“You play dirty, Pepper. You always have.” Tony ran a shaking hand over his face. “I will.”
He walked out the door before Pepper tried to begin a heart-to-heart. There was only so much a man could take from his ex-girlfriend. Even if they were still close friends.
The party was a success. Tony charmed the pants off of the important people from other companies, and he had a meeting set up for the following Wednesday concerning a possible business deal. All of the CEOs from his company looked pleased with Tony. Even the Avengers showing up unexpectedly didn't ruin his evening, though seeing Steve dressed up in a nice suit left Tony tongue tied.
Now he was ready to go home, and Steve was blocking the exit from the bathroom. Tony tried to get around Captain America, but Steve remained stubbornly in place, unwilling to move. He seemed amused by how flustered Tony was.
“Listen, Tony, we need to talk.” Steve said.”I'm tired of dancing around this.”
Tony felt like he'd missed some of the conversation. “What are you talking about?”
“You're my soulmate, Tony.” He pressed on while Tony's whole world was still reeling, and he was incapable of speaking, because Oh my God, Steve knew all this time! “I've known since the beginning, and I’ve been waiting for you to say or do something. So what's the problem? Do you not want me? Am I not good enough for you?”
Tony felt like he'd been sucker-punched. Why would Steve even think that? How could he think he wasn't good enough for Tony? It was the other way around. “Nothing like that,” Tony whispered. “You're perfect.”
“So why are both you and I still acting like we're not meant to be together? What's the hold up?” Steve asked. He wasn't yelling, not yet, but his cheeks were flushed red with his emotions.
Tony had never meant for this to happen. He never would have told Steve the truth, no matter how miserable Tony himself may be. He didn't have a choice now, when Steve was looking at him with wide, wounded eyes, looking for all the world like something was wrong with Steve himself, and Tony didn't want him.
“I'm not good for you. I'm a screw up, I’m worthless. I'm—“ Tony stopped, because Steve was suddenly right in front of him, his hand clasped firmly over his mouth. He also looked really, really mad.
“Don't talk about yourself that way, Tony. You're not any of those things. You're perfect.” His fingers tightened when Tony automatically tried to deny Steve's praise. “You are. And there's no one else, Tony, no one, I would rather be with.”
“I'm too messed up to love.” Tony whispered, choked up, when Steve finally freed his mouth. He couldn't keep himself from rubbing his cheek against Steve's hand where it rubbed his face.
“You're not,” Steve protested. “You're dark and brooding, yes, but you're also brilliant and hurting so much. I want to take your pain away. I want you to feel loved.” Steve pressed his forehead against Tony's. “I want to love you, if you'll only let me. Will you let me, Tony?”
Tony's mouth opened and closed a few times before he finally managed to respond. “Yes. Please.” Steve's smile, when he pulled away, was blinding, and Tony felt like a million bucks.
“You're mine now, Tony. My soulmate. Mine forever.” Steve said, as he traced Tony's lips with his finger. “I've been waiting for this for so long.”
“Me too.” Tony agreed. He cleared his throat, and his smile was lecherous. “How about we ditch this party and go back to my room, and become more well acquainted?” Steve's lips pressed against his was all the answer he needed.
They still had a lot to work through. Tony came with a mountain of issues, but Tony knew that with Steve by his side, they could work anything out. All of the worry and fear melted away as Steve set about devouring Tony's mouth.
Everything else could wait.
Part Three: Coulson and Clint
Finding out you're soulmates with an assassin led to more problems than Coulson thought. Coulson was overjoyed that he had a soulmate, he'd never have guessed that he'd be one of the lucky few to find his other half.
His joy didn't last long.
One look into Clint's eyes, and his happiness melted away. Clint had gone bone white, and he'd backed away, the drink Coulson poured him falling to the ground. He'd drawn his bow at Steve, an arrow notched in a second flat and pointed right at Phil's heart.
Phil didn't think Clint would kill him, but Clint looked so scared that he didn't dare test his theory. Instead, Phil raised his hands in surrender and simply watched his soulmate. Clint's hands shook, and the tip of the arrow keeps slipping away from his heart.
"You're my soulmate,” Phil says simply. “We complete each other.”
“We don't.” Clint says. “I'm too messed up for anyone. We're not soulmates.”
“My hand was glowing red. That's a sign. Unless you were exposed to some radiation that I don't know about?” Clint's eyes snap to his, and his lips twitch. Phil's voice stays bone dry, but his joke comes through clear anyway. Clint's brief show of humor melts away almost instantly.
“I will not drag you down. There's too much blood on my hands for me to even touch yours.” Phil refrains from rolling his eyes. He's already been debriefed about Clint's past; he knows what Clint's done. Clint's even talked to him about some of it.
“I already know. There's no need to try and scare me away with any of that.” Phil says. Clint's eyes widen. Phil can almost see Clint's mind darting around, trying desperately to think up some way to frighten Coulson away. It doesn't matter what Clint says or does; Phil won't be scared away.
“We've been alone together, touching, a lot of times. There's been no signs that we're soulmates. It was a trick of the light.”
Phil smothers a sigh. He's had this conversation with at least half a dozen freaked out SHIELD agents who've come to him, scared, demanding an explanation about why now, of all times, the soulmate bond decided to show. Phil doesn't know what it is about SHIELD, whether it's exposure to alien artifacts or aliens themselves, but the organization has the highest number of bonded pairs out of any other agency in the world.
“The soulmate bond manifests during moments of high emotions. You know this, Clint, you read the pamphlet Fury gave you. You and I were in the middle of sex, so it's only natural that the bond—“
Clint colors and looks down, seemingly just realizing he's not wearing any pants, and his shirt is half-way across the room, thrown over a lamp. The situation is so utterly ridiculous that Phil would laugh if he wasn't as disheveled as Clint. Coulson supposes he has more composure than Clint, since his pants are only undone and he still has his shirt on.
Clint visibly composes himself and tries another attack. “My line of work is dangerous. If I die, I'd take you with me. If I'm hurt, you'll feel the pain as well, and be crippled.”
This time Phil does laugh. “I'm out in the field just as much as you are, Clint. The soulmate bond is different in every pair. Some of the bonded pairs don't share pain; others do. We may not share that link. We may be one of the lucky pairs that share a complete telepathic link, where our minds are permanently joined together.” Coulson smiles as he continues. “It's said that if the bond is strong enough, you can save your partner from death. Wouldn't that come in handy?”
Clint lowers the bow and arrow, and he stares, incredulous, at Phil. “You're not going to let me argue my way out of the bond, are you?”
It seems safe now to approach Clint, so Phil does. He draws Clint into his arms, and presses him hard enough against his chest to smother Clint's words. He's strong enough to break free from Coulson's grasp, of course he is, but Clint doesn't try.
“Why don't we try this out first before we freak out, okay?”
He laughs when Clint squeaks out: “Okay.”
“Okay,” Clint pants later that night, “I'm sharing something with you, and it's definitely not pain.”
Coulson pretends to pout from where he's kneeling before Clint. “Did you want me to make it hurt?”
Clint lets out a loud groan and threads his fingers in Phil's hair. “Shut up and keep going.”
“Coulson and I are soulmates.” Clint says the next morning. He's a little offended when none of his teammates react. Even Director Fury, who's sorting through some papers before he begins the meeting, doesn't react. Coulson sighs and pours himself a glass of water.
“Guys?” Clint asks. He's a tiny bit offended here.
“Were we supposed to be surprised?” Tony asks. He sounds bored. He's making a chain out of paper clips. It's already touching the floor.
“Was this news?” Thor asks no one. He looks to his brother.
“I saw threads of fate connecting them.” Loki says.
“Really?” Tony asks. He sounds intrigued.
“No.” Loki says. “They are in love. It is obvious. Did you not see it?”
“Yes.” All four Avengers, Director Fury, Coulson, and Loki say.
“I hate you all.” Clint says.
“Are they having a telepathic conversation?” Clint asks Coulson a few days after Loki moves into Tony's mansion. Coulson looks away from one of the many repeats of the Daily Show With Jon Stewart that always seems to be playing on Comedy Central.
“They're Asgardian. A telepathic link always comes with the soulmate bond. It's nothing unusual.” He sounds distracted and Clint suspects Coulson's not paying attention.
Thor seems to be squirming in his seat and Clint frowns as he catches the smirk on Loki's face. Oh, gross. He did not want to know that Loki and Thor use their bond to do that. He pinches Coulson's shoulder to get his mate's attention.
“Phil!” He hisses. “Loki's using their bond to sex up Thor!”
Coulson frowns at Clint. He seems to be beyond words for a few seconds. His mouth gapes like a fish. “Do not say 'sex up', Clint. I just...I don't want to hear you use that phrase.” Coulson shoots a dark look at Loki. “Loki! We had this conversation before, remember how awkward it was with Director Fury? If you're going to send sexy images towards your brother, do so in another room where we can't see.”
They've had this conversation before? “What?” he asks Phil. Coulson ignores him, and instead smiles in a decidedly nasty way at Loki. Thor takes the opportunity to flee the room.
“It is not as fun without an audience.” Loki sulks.
Phil crosses his arms. “I don't care.” Loki stomps out of the room, and the TV shorts out. Coulson groans and covers his face with his hands. “You couldn't have kept your mouth shut until after Jon Stewart finished interviewing Johnny Depp? I wanted to see it.”
“Loki has done this before, with...Thor?” Clint asks. He doesn't know why he's hung up on this particular detail, but he is.
Phil looks morosely at the TV before he turns his attention back to Clint. “Yes. Director Fury nearly had an aneurysm, because Thor started pulling Loki's pants down in the middle of the hallway. Apparently Loki had been sending those images his way for almost fifteen minutes.” Phil frowns at Clint. “There was a memo concerning the incident. Did you not read it?”
Clint shifts nervously. “I go to you for the details!” Phil's frown darkens. “Pepper reads all of Tony's!” Phil still looks murderous. “I think Natasha and Bruce read theirs?”
Tony has Pepper make a memo detailing the 'No Sex in the Living Room' rule after Rhodey walks in on them. It takes less than twenty-four hours for Loki and Thor to break it.
“You're thinking about Johnny Depp again.” Clint complains the next morning. “I had a dream we were vacationing with him in Norway last night. That was you, wasn't it?”
Phil looks guilty. Tony is blatantly eavesdropping from the coffee maker. “You guys have a telepathic bond?” Tony asks.
Phil nods. “It looks like it.”
Clint tilts his head. “Wouldn't it have shown up before?”
“There's no rule for this sort of thing. The bond does what it wants. We'll have to work on setting up mental shields.”
Clint's stomach plummets. “So we got everything. We share pain. We share emotions. What happens next time I go out with the Avengers, and I get hurt? You'll be crippled.”
Phil looks uncomfortable. “I'll get on the phone with Director Fury. We'll need to start working on those shields, ASAP.”
“Seriously, Phil, stop thinking about Johnny Depp!” Clint grouses. Two hours of trying to get into Phil's mind, and he's sick of seeing Johnny Depp every time he breaks through Phil's shields. He's the one who's been trying to breach Phil's mind, because his shields are perfect. He figures it's because he's had extensive training due to his line of work.
“I'm sorry,” Phil says, though he sounds anything but. “I can't help thinking about the interview I missed.”
“I'll find the damn interview on the Daily Show website. All of the episodes are there.” Clint says. He feels his heart jump at the way Phil's excitement shows on his face. God, he's screwed. He's already head over heels for Phil.
“Thor wants to see the interview with Margaret Thatcher.” Loki says, because, of course, Loki's the only one who can train them. No other SHIELD agent manifested a telepathic bond.
"You're joking, right?” Clint asks, because really, Loki must be.
Loki doesn't seem amused. “No. Thor finds a woman in power attractive.”
Phil laughs. “You're jealous.”
Loki scowls. “It would seem I am.”
Phil must catch the warning in Loki's voice, because he stays quiet. Clint sighs and goes back to trying to get into Phil's mind. And there it is: more Johnny Depp.
“Tony Stark and Steve are together now.” Coulson says a week later. Clint looks up from the Scrabble game he's playing with Natasha, and smiles.
“It's about time.”
You can spell Qiviut. Coulson says, telepathically. Clint squints at his letters, and whoa, there it is.
“Nice word.” Natasha says, after she adds up the points. “It would be even better if Coulson wasn't helping you.”
“We're technically one person, Tasha.”
“Besides the point.” She says dismissively. Her eyes are sparkling as she asks, “So how are the lessons with Loki going?”
“I find him very insulting.” Phil says. He settles to the right of Natasha.
“That's because you like to tease him about Thor.” Clint says. He rests his hand on Coulson's knee.
“Who would have guessed a God is so insecure about his relationship? And he's jealous too? Golden material.”
Clint squeezes Coulson's knee before he draws six letters from the bag. “I think he's scared of losing Thor, even with the bond. He's insecure.”
“Sounds like someone else I know.” Natasha says. She drums her fingers against the table, and pretends she doesn't see the 'Quiet' look Clint throws her way.
Phil is oblivious. “I read about their history, about how Thor rejected him. I can see why he'd be scared.” This time it's Phil who's shooting him a look.
“I made a mistake, okay!” Clint says. “With my line of work, what I'd done, I didn't want to drag Coulson into it!”
“Hey!” Coulson says. His hand is warm and reassuring where it rests on the back of Clint's neck. “I understand why you didn't want the bond. It still doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, knowing you didn't want me.”
Clint draws in a deep breath and lets it out slowly before he speaks. “I always wanted you.”
“I know.” Phil's voice is warm and loving.
“You guys.” Natasha sounds choked up.
“Fancy seeing you guys here.” Clint says dryly.
“Shut up.” Tony Stark says. He's glaring at Loki.
“How much does he think about sex?” Coulson asks Steve.
“You don't want to know.” Steve says, long-suffering.
Clint's sweating, and his breaths are coming in harsh pants. He can feel Coulson's very essence slipping away, and his mental grip feels weak and flimsy. He can feel Coulson's pain beating against his skull. He can feel how much Coulson is hurting, how much he wants to slip away into blessed oblivion.
Clint won't let him go. He can't. Phil is his life, and he's never, ever letting him go.
“Come on Clint,” Thor says. He can feel, distantly, Thor's hand on his shoulder. “We'll take you to your bondmate. Brother!” Thor calls. “Can you take us there?”
“Yes.” Loki's response is short.
“We'll wrap things up here. Go.” Tony says.
There's cool air whipping around him, and he stumbles for a fraction of a second as he lands on solid ground. Thor leads him somewhere, but Clint is barely paying attention, every fiber of his being concentrating on Phil's fragile life-force and its attempts to slip away.
“We are at the hospital, Clint.” Thor whispers. “My brother is speaking to Director Fury and gathering information.”
Clint reaches blindly and grips what he thinks is Thor's shoulder. “He is dying.”
Thor is silent for a moment. “My brother faced this very same situation a few months ago with Doctor Doom. He kept me alive. If my brother can do so, then so can you.”
“Thank you.” Clint says, and goes back to holding Phil with him, on earth. Where he belongs.
“So you were right.” Clint says. He caresses Phil's stubbly chin. “Being able to save your partner from death is indeed convenient.”
Phil laughs, and then draws in a pained breath. “I told you.” He rasps.
“You tried to leave me.” Clint whispers. Tears run down his cheeks.
“I didn't ask to be stabbed in the stomach.” Phil deadpans.
Clint can feel Phil's pain through their bond, even dulled as it is with pain medication. He clasps Phil's hand in his, too afraid to let go of both his hand and his mind. He doesn't think he'll ever be able to let Phil out of his sight again. Phil smiles as he catches sight of that thought, though it's a pale imitation of his usual smile.
“Who would have thought,” Phil says a half hour later, “That my job would be more dangerous than yours?”
Clint laughs despite himself. “Shut up.”
“I love you too.” Coulson says, and falls asleep.
Clint watches over him.
Author's note: I think I'm going to make this a series. I'm thinking, tentatively, the next part would be Clint/Coulson, follwed by Loki/Thor. Maybe with Hurt!Thor cuz I love that, and some insecure!Loki. Maybe. Still thinking about it.
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