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The way you said 'I love you'

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Tony had met many people in his life. Hundreds, thousands… zillions. Old people, young people, men, women, blondes, brunettes, red-heads, rich people, poor people… but he still missed the one person he wanted to meet the most, his soulmate.

He was clearly on the wrong side of forty now and most people met their soulmate in their twenties. The probability to meet your soulmate wanes from year to year and he had almost lost all hope to find them.

His father met his soulmate late in his forties but until then he had already married Maria, a woman who had lost her soulmate when she was a teenager. They became very close friends but never anything more and that… that scared Tony more than to never meet his soulmate at all.

But if Tony was honest with himself, after Afghanistan he never really expected to meet them. He was too damaged and his soulmate would probably run away immediately. No one would like to have a soulmate as twisted and broken as Tony was now.

And then New York happened. He teamed up with a few of extraordinary people, fought against aliens and demigods from Norse mythology, he carried a bomb through a wormhole and fell back to earth, they had arrested said demigod and then all of them crashed in a shawarma joint. They all were so exhausted that they almost fell asleep where they were and after eating he went home and fell in his bed, slept for fourteen hours straight.

He met the other Avengers a few days later, when they were sending Loki back to Asgard. And this time they all were in their right mind. Tony was fashionably late - as usual - when he sauntered into the conference room, where Steve, Bruce, Natasha and Clint already waited for him. Steve sat on a chair, talking with Bruce who sat beside him, Natasha leaned against the window and watched the door while Clint just poured himself a cup of coffee.

Something smelled irresistible when he entered the room, he stopped dead in his tracks and looked at the others. He scented the air and tried to find out what smelled so good. It wasn’t the coffee. Okay, it smelled good, but it wasn’t it. No, it smelled like… lilac and leather and… and coffee. It was the combination of it and his brain almost short-circuited.

Steve? No, it wasn’t Steve. Steve smelled like… freedom and righteousness and he had smelled him before without reaction. And Natasha and Bruce, too. He had met them before, had smelled them and nothing had happened and so… his eyes fell on Clint, who just stared at him as well, his mouth agape. Tony could see him sniff the air as well.

He made a step in his direction and the odour became more and more intensive, more irresistible and… wait… he had met Clint before. In the streets in New York, in his penthouse, in the Shawarma joint and… no, he either wore his suit or he was so exhausted that he could barely stand. No, this was the first time he met Clint and they were both in their right mind and he could smell it, too.

They stood in front of each other now and looked at each other. Tony soaked in his smell and his brain almost disconnected. It was so, so good. Apparently the others had realized that something happened right now because all of them were quiet and looked at him and Clint but Tony couldn’t care less. He could smell it, him, his soulmate. He reached out, touched Clint’s hand and both men smiled at the same moment. Yes, he could feel him.

Tony licked his lips, opened his mouth and… “I love you,” he said instead of a hello. Clint’s smile broadened and Tony’s stomach made somersaults.

“I know,” he said. “I love you, too.”