So.. I may or may not be obsessed with ozhawk's fic Soulmate Shorts. And by correlation obsessed with several pairings that don't even properly exist. So this fic started in order to make at least one of them an actual thing.
The title comes from the Matthew Perryman Jones song of the same name. Each chapter will have a couple lyrics from a song at the very beginning, and you're more than welcome to submit songs that I may use in coming chapters.
It should stick to the canon timeline, though there might be some stretching or condensing of time as it goes on.
I see the faces on TV trying to relate to me. Sometimes I just have to close my eyes. I know I am not alone, trying to find my way back home. Living in America … We grow up together here, share our hopes and darkest fears. Come together right now over me. New York was a battle ground, silence was the only sound. Living in America.
~Ryan Star, "America"
In all honesty, Steve probably should've realized that the whole 'soulmate' thing was a lot more complicated than it ever seemed, even in a normal setting. To be fair though, he never thought he'd actually have to worry about it.
Before he was frozen, he'd been unmarked. There was no tattoo of first words in his soulmate's handwriting anywhere on his skin, and by the time he'd turned twenty, he'd given up hope that they ever would appear. It wasn't particularly uncommon to be unmarked, to be so put one in a very slight minority. Bucky had been unmarked as well, and seemed to find a freedom in it that Steve could never quite understand, a freedom that let him flirt with every woman he saw.
Taking comfort in the fact that his best friend was as he was, he put the disappointment behind him and focused his efforts on enlisting, on doing what he could for his country.
When he woke up from the ice, he had two marks.
The first one he noticed was across the instep of his foot. He supposed that the shock of waking up seventy years after his last memory should have rendered him numb to surprise, but when he made to take his boot off for the first time, he was pretty sure his heart stopped in his chest for the second time in as many days.
"Who the hell's Bucky?" the words asked in an angry, very near illegible scrawl, and he felt his chest tighten at the memory of his friend's death, so fresh in his mind despite the apparent years. That's when the full impact of everything hit at once. All his friends, everyone he'd ever known, ever cared about… they were probably dead.
He sat there for a very long time.
After that, he locked himself in the gym the first chance he got, and spent hours upon hours pouring every bit of anger and frustration and, yeah, fear into the punching bags that kept going flying off their hooks and fell apart under his hands. By the time he was finished, his hair was plastered to his head and his clothes stuck to his body like a second skin, both soaked in sweat. There wasn't a single punching bag left undamaged. Trembling from a mix of physical exertion and mental exhaustion, he returned to the temporary quarters they'd given him, wanting only to shower. That's when he saw the second mark in the mirror.
"I could've handled that myself."
He read the words aloud quietly and ran a slightly shaky hand over the bottom of his ribs on his right side, ghosting his fingers atop the slanted print. His eyes dropped from the mirror to his skin as he looked between the two marks, heart hammering again for a very different reason.
The fact that he had a second soulmate wasn't too strange, at least not as strange as some of the things he'd seen and heard of the world so far. To his knowledge, it wasn't exceedingly rare, or at least it hadn't been in the 40s, but in most cases, one of the bonds was meant to be platonic, signified by lighter silver or blue lettering of their words. Neither of his appeared to be though, their dark, blue-grey color signifying them as romantic bonds that could only get darker if the speaker of the words were to die.
Too agitated and distracted to think on it any further, he pushed the matter to the back of his mind and took his shower.
It was a long time before he really had a chance to dwell on the topic again. Between the extreme culture shock, the nightmares of Bucky's death and his own near demise, and coming vaguely up to date with the times, he didn't do much thinking about anything other than catching up. He focused on what he'd missed as best he could, but it was like being caught in a whirlwind that kept knocking the wind out of him. He wasn't even sure how long it was - 2 weeks? 3? A month? - before he sat down on the sofa in the DC apartment they'd given him and could actually breathe.
For the first time since the night he discovered his second mark, he truly let himself look at them. The writing on his foot seemed vaguely familiar, like it was only a little bit different from something he should be able to recognize but couldn't. It looked, he finally decided, like a man's handwriting.
The second set of writing was completely alien to him. He couldn't decide gender either, it seemed a bit of a draw. The way the words were scrawled suggested they belong to a man, but at the same time, the slight curve to each letter gave it a distinctly feminine look.
He let himself wonder what they would look like, what their voices would sound like, how the three of them would fit together. For the first time, he allowed himself be a bit excited at the idea.
He didn't meet either of them for almost a year and a half.
Six months after the Battle of New York, he was sent to LA to collaborate with Stark. They were running on barely more than a whisper, rumors of Extremis being used in further studies by some sort of shadow organization supposedly working in the area. It was all guesswork and nobody was actually sure of anything, but the risk of Extremis being weaponized was enough to warrant the search.
He'd been there for almost a week when he had the nightmare. They didn't come as often as they did in the beginning, but when they did, it was enough to keep him from sleeping for at least the rest of the night. His go-to relief was always the gym, where he could tear things apart and let go like he did that one night in the beginning. There was no gym there though, so when he jolted from sleep with his heart racing and his ears ringing, he found himself walking down a nearly empty street at almost midnight.
Other than a few people hanging around outside a bar, he hadn't seen anyone really, so it did draw his attention when he saw a girl step out of a laundromat and onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Bag thrown over her shoulder, she walked quickly, head down, and though it was dark, he in no way missed the wary look she gave him before continuing on her way. He could understand her trepidation, and dropped his pace a bit.
It was because of the new space between them that he even saw when a man stepped out of an alley. The glint of metal drew Steve's eyes to the man's hand, and his pace faltered when he saw the knife clutched in his fist.
The guy was walking just fast enough to catch up to the girl as she rounded the corner into an alley, and Steve couldn't help but pick his pace up to a run as he heard the sound of something hitting metal. When he reached the alleyway, he skidded to a stop just long enough to take in the sight of the man attempting to break the window of a van as blood dripped from his nose. He lunged forward, yanking the guy away from the vehicle hard enough for his body to hit the opposite wall.
Regaining his footing, the man redirected his attack, brandishing the knife and throwing slashes toward Steve's face that he dodged all too easily. In retaliation, the super-soldier threw a punch that had the attacker crumpling to the floor, blood pooling behind his lips before spilling over and coating his chin.
Shaking his hand absently, he turned to look for the girl, and found that while she'd taken shelter within the van during the initial attack, she'd emerged sometime during the brief fight with a metal baseball hat in hand, looking more than willing to use it.
In glancing her over to assure she wasn't hurt, he couldn't help but notice two things. One, she was beautiful. With the exotic slant of her dark eyes giving the impression of mixed race, she was exactly the kind of dame Bucky would've been all over, and he himself probably would've even considered his chances with once upon a time. And two, her expression betrayed no fear. There was wariness there, and a determination, but despite the unconscious man on the floor and the guy who'd put him there with a single blow standing before her, she didn't seem at all afraid.
"I could've handled that myself." She told him.
So.. thoughts? As always, reviews are always welcome, and I really hope you enjoyed.
Huge thank you to ozhawk for being the inspiration for this story, offering me advice on getting started, and even beta-ing this for me. You should DEFINITELY check out their work, even if you hated this.