A/N: Written for qwanderer for the marvel rare pair exchange, crossposted from AO3. Comments always welcome :)
The thing that bugged Darcy about the whole "soulmates" thing was how romanticized it all was. Scientists had proven a long time ago that the connection between soulmates was nothing more than a chance of biological compatibility and timing. Something that could and did change over a person's life time, depending on their wants and needs. Something that wasn't even limited to being only between two people (or things like age, race, sex and gender, much though the media liked to pretend differently). Add to the fact that not all bonds were even sexual in nature, the constant emphasis of the romance of it drove Darcy mad.
That didn't mean she didn't feel a thrill of excitement when she felt the first flutter of a potential bond.
"Darcy, do you have the latest readouts?" Jane asked. She was absorbed in simultaneously reading the screen and listening to Tony (Darcy still had trouble believing they were working with Tony Stark) wax poetic about something sciency. Darcy only caught every third word. She'd learned a lot working with Jane, but this was science on a whole other level.
"It's next to your elbow."
Jane just gave a grunt of satisfaction that Darcy took as a thanks. She'd trained Jane into being more sociable, but she tended to revert among other geeks.
Technically, Darcy's job no longer included being Jane's assistant, but there was something calming about catching up on her paperwork among the utter madhouse that resulted whenever Jane, Tony and Bruce got together and brainstormed. As much as she appreciated SHIELD hiring her with a promise to take care of her student loans (and one from her to keep her mouth shut about classified stuff), it got very boring at times in the data entry and data crunching parts. The boredom was sometimes punctuated by pants wetting terror when villains attacked or some other emergency was happening somewhere. Darcy much preferred the creative chaos of the three geniuses trying to actually build their own Bifrost when she needed a break from the bureaucracy that made up most of SHIELD.
Jarvis' voice interrupted her work based musings.
"Sir, Ms. Potts has asked me to remind you that Colonel Rhodes is due to arrive in ten minutes."
It took Tony a moment to register something that existed outside of his conversation with Jane and Bruce.
"Wait, what? Rhodey? Rhodey!"
The way Tony's face lit up was ridiculous. And adorable. After such a long time apart, Darcy supposed she would be excited to see her soulmate again too. Most people were lucky to get three or four such bonds throughout their entire lifetime. Tony Stark was a lucky bastard that had four all at once. Darcy hadn't had even one yet. Not that she was too bothered by it, people made deep connections all the time without being soulmates and she was no different. But it just went to show that some people had all the luck.
"We finally get to meet Rhodey?" Bruce smiled. A year ago, he would've been wringing his hands. The platonic bond he had with Tony had gone a long way in smoothing out most of his nervous ticks. He'd barely been able to look her in the eye when they'd first been introduced. It probably hadn't been helped by Tony hanging on to him crowing about how they'd bonded practically within five minutes of meeting each other. Darcy was pretty sure everybody knew the story by now, because Tony wasn't shy about telling everyone about his bonds, even that complicated thing going on between him, Pepper and Loki. On one hand, it was cute how happy it obviously made him to have people he was close to. On the other, it was really really grating. In her less charitable moments, Darcy thought that that described Tony Stark perfectly.
"Yup," Tony was already closing holographic windows, much to Jane's displeasure, "We can work on this any day, Rhodey's only got a few weeks leave this time. I want my best buds to meet."
"Come on, Jane, time to do normal people stuff," Darcy teased, putting away her own papers. Jane turned a pout her way. Darcy ignored it. Jane always got that expression whenever she was being pulled away from science (or SCIENCE! as Darcy punctuated it in her head).
"Paper, Agent Jr.? That's so 20th century. Join us in the present," Tony said as he sidled up to her. Darcy just rolled her eyes, grinning.
"There's a hundred reasons SHIELD still has things on paper, Tony and you make up about 99 of them."
Tony put a hand to his chest in mock hurt, eyes wide.
"If you're insinuating that I steal classified SHIELD data -"
"She'd be absolutely right," Bruce said. He grabbed Tony's shoulder and started steering him towards the workshop door. Tony just grinned at Darcy.
"You wound me! Such slander, I never!"
Tony kept it up all the way to the penthouse floor. Darcy had given up on keeping a straight face and just laughed.
"Tony, let the girl breathe."
Darcy's laugh cut off mid-sound. She had to gasp for a breath. Her heart started pounding.
Tony had immediately stopped and whirled around.
As hugs went, it was epic. With thankfully no awkward manly backslaps. Just two friends - soulmates - glad to see each other after a long separation.
Darcy caught Rhodey's eye as he disengaged from Tony. Holy shit. She dropped her files to the floor, causing everyone to startle.
"Oh, shit!" She tore her gaze away and bent down to pick up the scattered papers. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck. She could have a soulbond with Colonel James Rhodes? The frickin' War Machine?! That was so cool. And scary. And weird. Honestly, Darcy didn't know what to feel. She focused on picking the papers up, waving away the other's offers to help. She took in deep, slow breaths, trying to calm down.
"Let me help you with that," Rhodey said, sounding far too close.
"It's fine! You don't...have.." she trailed off at the touch of his hand on hers, both of them having reached for the same file. Something warm and wonderful flared in her chest. She lifted her face to meet his eyes.
"Oh," she breathed.
Darcy blinked. Had he actually said that?
He had some gorgeous eyes. It was totally unfair. She couldn't even really think right now, just kept being distracted by his...everything.
"This is way more intense than I thought it would be," her voice was not normally this shaky. Fuck it, she was meeting her soulmate, she could be excused.
He swallowed and her eyes couldn't help but follow the line of his throat. Darcy had admittedly always had a thing for a bit older men and the blossoming bond wasn't the only reason she was eyeing Rhodey like she was. No way was this a platonic bond. She'd cry if it was.
"It calms down after a few hours," he said, still watching her. She fought off a blush.
"I'm Darcy," she thrust out a hand at him. His hand tingled against hers when he shook it. It didn't help that she had to keep a reign on her inner fangirl as well (she was shaking hands with the War Machine!)
"James Rhodes. But then you knew that already," he smiled, "call me Rhodey."
"Rhodey then," Darcy smiled. The moment was broken by (of course) Tony.
"Is what I think is happening actually happening? Agent Jr. and Rhodey? My Rhodey? I'm so proud, man, my little Rhodey all grown up, sexy soulmate and everything!"
"Shut up, Tony," Darcy was sure she was blushing furiously. She thought Rhodey might be blushing as well.
Darcy finally looked around at the others. Jane was just smiling. She'd picked up the last of Darcy's files and handed them over to her with a wink.
"Totally having a girl night soon," she told Darcy in a low voice.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Jane Foster," she waved to Rhodey quickly, "I'd hang around, but this and I've got some readouts to take in the lab. Bye!"
"Jane," Darcy hissed. Jane was back in the elevator before she could do anything about it. Traitor.
"I'm Bruce. I have a feeling this isn't the best time for longer introductions. Glad to finally meet you," Bruce said as he dragged Tony away. All the while, Tony had not stopped talking.
"Go on! Get out of here, you lovebirds! Don't do anything I wouldn't do! If you need to go on a romantic getaway or elope, just ask Jarvis to arrange everything. Man, I gotta tell Pepper about this, she'll freak..."
"Say goodbye, Tony," Bruce could be heard faintly.
"Hey, you can't just -" Tony got cut off, presumably by a door.
Rhodey smiled, "Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I'm friends with that guy."
As fond as Rhodey's tone was, it left no doubt that he actually meant those words.
"Because he's a pain in the ass, but he's your pain in the ass?" Darcy guessed, informed by years of working with Jane.
"Must be it."
It was then that Darcy noticed they were still holding hands. Reluctantly, she disengaged. Her palm was still tingling. Getting to her feet was another awkward moment, but her calves had been killing her from holding that position for so long.
"So, um... I've never really done this before. How do people deal with it? Cause I refuse to believe that cliche 'fall into each other's arms and start making out' is an actual thing."
"Oh god no," Rhodey laughed, "Although, remind me to tell you a funny story about that one day."
Darcy felt her eyes widen.
"No way, that actually happened to someone?"
"Well, not exactly. I'd be happy to tell you the story over a coffee?" His smile was hopeful, even as he fidgeted a bit. Darcy smiled. Good to know she wasn't the only one feeling nervous.
"Coffee? I can do coffee."
"I can't do this," Darcy moaned. Her voice was muffled because she was lying face down across her bed.
"What kind of an idiot decided to give me a soulmate?"
Jane patted her on the shoulder.
"Nobody deserves soulmates, it just happens. To everyone. I could get Bruce in here to explain to you the exact science of it? I'd do it, but molecular biology isn't my thing and he's had more experience with it."
"Jane, I love you and your science, but sometimes I just want to moan about it without getting a lecture," Darcy said as she rolled over. She glared at Jane's unrepentant grin.
"I'm sorry, Darcy, I just don't see what the problem is. The coffee went well, didn't it? You agreed to meet up again. What's the biggie?"
Darcy rubbed her face with her hands, dislodging her glasses. She didn't know what the problem was either. Rhodey had been perfectly lovely during their coffee date. Funny, smart, gentlemanly. Didn't talk to her breasts the whole time, just glanced down every once in a while. Okay so he wasn't perfect perfect, but who was? Besides, her breasts were slamming and deserved to be appreciated.
She liked him. Even now, something in her chest flared warmly whenever she thought of him. The bond tugged at her with a strange mix of nervous anticipation and contentment. One thing these bonds definitely had going for them - there wasn't any of that 'do they really like me?' quibbling. It sure did cut down on a whole lot of bullshit.
"I don't know, Jane," she answered. "Probably the fact that he spent the entire time we were together acting like a perfect gentleman and I just wanted to climb him like a tree."
Jane flushed. She had quite the healthy sex life herself these days thanks to Thor, but still blushed at some of the things Darcy said. Even after working together for years. Bless.
"Well then," Jane said, tone playful even though her face was still red, "You should take your own advice."
"And what advice would that be? I know I made you a list because I gave you so much of it. Didn't think you'd actually read it."
"I didn't. This one was just memorable because of everything that happened."
Darcy looked at her, eyebrow raised.
"If you like it, you should hit it like the fist of an angry god."
She burst out laughing. Jane joined in.
"Oh my god, I forgot about that one," she gasped out, trying to catch her breath, "You know, it takes on a whole other meaning once you've actually met a few gods."
"I don't think it would've stuck with me otherwise," Jane admitted. Darcy lurched upwards. Her hair was probably a mess from rolling around the bed. At this moment though, she didn't really care.
"Thanks, Jane," she caught her in a hug. Jane returned it briefly and then started squirming. Darcy squeezed her harder in revenge and then let go. She jumped off the bed and started for her closet.
"I've gotta run and get ready then. Wish me luck!"
"Good luck. I've got to get back to the lab, Darcy. We'll catch up later, yeah?"
"Oh, just one more thing!" Darcy leaned out of the closet, red lingerie in one hand and dark purple in the other.
"Thought so, thanks. Later Jane!"
Darcy was soon lost in her wardrobe choices, excitement curling in her gut.
"I was going to go slow with this," Rhodey said. The bond pulsed between them, slow and satisfied.
"Try not to take advantage."
"You know, not be a total lecher."
"I'm 26, you're hardly a lecher. Besides," she said, rolling over to straddle him, "isn't this a much more fun way to get to know each other?"
Rhodey grinned up at her, skin still glistening from their previous coupling. It made her want to lick him all over.
"Well, you're not wrong."
His renewed interest was poking at her belly. Darcy rolled her hips a little in anticipation.
"Puh-lease," she smiled, all her teeth showing, "I'm never wrong."
Darcy shivered. Well, that was one kink she hadn't thought she'd had. Plenty of time to explore it. Later.
Rhodey lifted her up and pulled her down onto him.
Much, much later.