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Steve wakes up on the morning of his 18th birthday and takes a moment to just breathe.

He never thought he’d make it to 18, and he’s still not convinced that he’s going to have a soulmate. He’s scrawny and mouthy and has spent half his life in a hospital, either ill or being patched up from a fight. He’s been doodling on his skin all his life, practicing and making notes – but from today on, theoretically, those doodles might appear on someone’s skin. He might have someone’s doodles on his. He’s almost scared to look-

A tell-tale itch sweeps over his left forearm, and Steve brings his arm up to watch, wide-eyed, as words dance across his skin. Good morning beloved, happy birthday! Here’s hoping today’s the day!! it reads, in thick, scruffy scrawl. Steve stares at it in shock for a moment, before scrambling out of bed with a whoop.

“Steven?” his ma asks, shocked but smiling as he barrels into the kitchen, still shirtless with his pyjamas pooling around his ankles.

“I need a pen!” he’s grinning so hard his face hurts. “Pen, pen pen!” he chants, searching through the pile of papers to the side of the table to find one. Sarah dips to kiss his cheeks, but turns back to where she’s cooking at the stove as he pulls one victoriously from the pile.

Thank you soulmate! Steve writes back in his own spidery scrawl. Happy 4th of July!  He sits down at the table, and watches with bated breath for a reply. Sarah sets the customary birthday pancakes in front of him, and when he glances up at her, she’s grinning with tears in her eyes – apparently Steve hadn’t been the only one worried. He glances back down, in time to see part of “birthday” smudge and run down like- is his soulmate crying? Steve is about to ask when a reply starts to dance under his own. !!!!! is all it says at first, and Steve can’t help but laugh. It’s so good to finally meet you! I’m Tony, and you are?

I’m Steve. It’s good to meet you too!




Tony has to take a deep breath before he writes on his skin each morning.

It’s been so many days since he turned eighteen – eight hundred and three, to be exact – and he’s never had a response. Howard says they don’t want him or he doesn’t have one, and the look in Maria’s eyes says that she thinks his soulmate is already dead. Rhodey promises him that he’s just the older one of the two of them, that that’s all it is, but he’s 20 now. He’s got one PhD and he’s already planning his next, he’s going to revolutionise robotics and artificial intelligence – Stark Industries will go far when he’s at the helm, with the fiery Pepper Potts at his side – but all he’s ever wanted is to be loved. He didn’t get it from his parents and he didn’t get it from his peers… Jarvis died when he was too young to have made the most of what he had in him, and now…

He expels all his resentment for the universe on a single breath, and reaches for the pen he keeps on his bedside table specifically for this purpose. He’s at Rhodey’s parents for the holiday, and the sentimentally of the closest thing he’s ever had to a real family makes him chose ‘beloved’ today.

Good morning beloved, happy birthday! Here’s hoping today’s the day!! He writes, and then he caps the pen and puts it down, pulling on his shirt and heading downstairs – he can smell the pancakes Rhodey’s mom, Roberta, is making.

He’s halfway down the stairs when his arm begins to itch, and he stops dead, yanking up his sleeve. Thank you soulmate! is being scrawled hastily. Happy 4th of July! follows it, and Tony yelps. He scrambles back up the stairs for the pen, ignoring Rhodey as he calls worriedly up the stairs.

He’s crying, he can’t help it, but it’s been two years of waiting and waiting and hoping. Initially all he can put is a shaky few exclamation marks, just to let his soulmate know he’s here. He’s here, and they’re never going to have to wonder like he did. It’s so good to finally meet you! It’s shaky, but he can’t even care. I’m Tony, and you are? he asks, sitting down hard on the edge of the bed.

“Tony? You okay?” Rhodey calls out from the stairs, and Tony hastily tries to wipe his eyes as I’m Steve. It’s good to meet you too! appears in spidery scrawl that Tony loves already. “Tony?” Rhodey asks as he appears in the doorway. Tony grins up at him, so hard that his face hurts. “What’s-?” he starts to ask, but the itch on Tony’s arm starts up again and draws both their gazes. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting. Tony can’t help but laugh.

You had me worried there, I’ll admit. But it’s worth it. He’s still grinning as Rhodey tugs him up off the bed – the pen’s barely clear of his skin – to hug him so tight his feet leave the ground. Rhodey’s laughing and Tony’s laughing as he buries face in Rhodey’s shoulder. “Today’s the day.” He mumbles into Rhodey’s shoulder, and Rhodey presses a kiss to the top of his head.

“Today’s the day!” He replies, and Tony feels like he could burst he’s so happy. Rhodey lets him go, squeezing his shoulder and heading back downstairs. I hope you continue to think that Steve’s written while they’ve been hugging. Tony’s too busy grinning at it that he yelps, taken by surprise, when Rhodey comes back to drag him down the stairs. “Bring the pen with you, idiot.”

I will, I just know it. It’s disjointed as he’s writing while Rhodey drags him, but once he’s down the stairs Rhodey lets him go. I mean you’re a dude, so you’re already off to a good start he adds, and hopes it makes Steve laugh.

“What’s got you distracted son?” David Rhodes asks him, gruff but smiling as he steers Tony into the kitchen to sit at the table.

“Just my soulmate.” Tony tells him, happy to see how his face lights up before he, too, tugs Tony into something of a bear hug. That made my ma laugh, is there when Tony looks again. Glad to know the feeling’s mutual. Tony grins.

“I’m so happy for you son.” David tells him, clapping him on the shoulder quite like Rhodey does, and taking his seat.

“What’s that?” Roberta asks idly from the stove, but Tony lets Rhodey explain, scrawling out a reply. So mutual, you have no idea. Pretty boys are my weakness. “Oh Tony!” She exclaims when Rhodey’s told, and she kisses both his cheeks before she returns to the cooking.

“Maybe you should exchange phone numbers? Before you run out of space?” Rhodey asks, smirking, and Tony’s too happy to do any more than stick his tongue at him and tack Text me? And his number on the end. His phone – a modded to shit thing that has a lot of duct tape holding it together until he can fabricate a case – is in his pocket, and a few moments later it chirrups.

From: Unknown  09:43

I don’t think anyone would describe me as cute – Steve xxxxx

Tony saves him as ‘Beloved Steve’ before he can second guess himself, and then replies.

To: Beloved Steve  09:44

I bet I would – Tony xxxxxxxxxx

From: Beloved Steve  09:44

Would you? Xx

Attached to it is a picture, and Tony takes a moment to load it up – there’s two people in the photo, and Steve hasn’t mentioned which one he is. One of them is a tall brunet, with his hair pulled back into a pony tail and a lot of muscles under a basketball kit. He’s got a sharp angular face and stormy grey eyes – he’s undeniably gorgeous, but he’s not Tony’s type.

Now the other guy in the picture is scrawny, and has bandages over his knuckles like he’d punched something too hard. He’s got no muscles to speak of and the clothes that hang off him are covered in paint splatters. He’s got long fingers, and again his face is angular – he’s borderline unhealthily gaunt, but there’s defiance on his face even as he grins at the other guy, and his eyes are so blue. His hair flops in front of his face, and Tony can already picture those fingers pushing those golden strands out of the way. He likes what he can dream, very much.

To: Beloved Steve  09:47

Tell me that you’re the blond?!! Xxxxxx

The reply doesn’t come back as quick as the previous one, and Tony chalks it up to Steve celebrating his birthday with his family. It probably has nothing to do with Tony’s message – god, what if Steve’s the basketball hunk and sent that picture to make himself look good?? He shakes his head a little (he’s not really paying attention to the discussion at the breakfast table, but then he doesn’t think any of them expect him to, not today) and dispels the idea. He’d never be soulmated to someone like that. No, Steve’s the blond. He has to be.

From: Beloved Steve  09:55

You’re kidding, right? Xxxxx

To: Beloved Steve  09:56

Fuck no. Brunet’s cute and all, but blondie’s gorgeous. Maybe needs to eat a few decent meals, but god… I could lose myself in those baby blues xxxxx

Tony’s fingers stumble over themselves to get the reply typed. He can feel the back of his neck heat up as he types the words, but the blush will never reach his face, thank god. The words feel like too much, but they’re the truth, and he knows if the roles were reversed he’d appreciate it.

From: Beloved Steve  10:02

… you mean that? Xxxxx

To: Beloved Steve  10:03

I really do. Unless I got it wrong then brunet’s the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. Xxxxxx

To: Beloved Steve  10:03

But seriously, I adore blond’s and muscles are overrated. Give me some brains and a decent sense of humour any day. <3

He curses under his breath for making the joke – way to play into any insecurity Steve might have there – but he’s trying. It’s only day one, they’ve got plenty of time.

From: Beloved Steve  10:17

You have no idea what that means to me. Xxxxx

To: Beloved Steve  10:17

I think I have a small one… but hey, you get to tell me one day. ^u^ xxxxx

From: Beloved Steve  10:19

Yeah. Yeah I do. :D xxxxx

Tony grins down at his phone. They’ll do just fine.




To: Tony Soulmate!!   19:37

You know, when I was younger, I used to pretend the fireworks were for me. Xxxxxx

Steve sends off the message without much thought. Tomorrow he’s going to have to find a way to increase the number of texts he gets a month – when it was just Bucky and Natasha bothering him, 500 a month was fine, but if this rate of conversation keeps up (and Steve hopes so much that it does) he and Tony will go through all his texts by tomorrow evening. Steve’s not complaining.

From: Tony Soulmate!! 19:38

That’s actually pretty funny. And cute. But mostly funny. Xxxxx

To: Tony Soulmate!!  19:39

I was six! How would I know they weren’t celebrating my birthday? Xxxxx

Steve can tell that Tony’s going to laugh at that, and he’s grinning at his phone. He’s been grinning at it all day, and seeing his mother smile every time he does. It’s a relief to both of them, and Steve hadn’t been thinking about it for the last two years but the metaphorical weight off his shoulders is palpable. He’s got a soulmate. He can’t get over that.

From: Tony Soulmate!!  19:39

I would’ve been, if I’d known. And now I do. Xxxxx

Steve could feel his cheeks heat up – Tony has been so completely sincere all day, around the jokes and the teasing. The honesty was refreshing – people just weren’t that honest in everyday life – and it made Tony seem that much more real somehow. So far, he was everything Steve would have dreamed of if he'd let himself.

To: Tony Soulmate!!   19:40

And now you do <3 xxxxx