Author's Note: I love me my soulmate AUs, so here's another one. It was hard thinking of the perfect fandom and pairing for this, but I like this one. It's kind of a strange ship and there's some definite underage stuff going on, but… I don't know. I like it. There's angst by the way. AND SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR. SPOILERS! Just so you know :P Alrighty, read, review, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Marvel.
Steve had always been under the impression that his life was pretty good. It wasn't the easiest life – he was dirt poor and constantly sick and he didn't have many friends, - but it was still a good life. He had his wonderful, beautiful mother and his best friend Bucky. They made it through everything together and nothing seemed quite so tough with them fighting with in, always in his corner.
But there was one blight on his life, one single thing that made life a little less bright than it could have. His soulmate.
The soulmate process was sort of complicated, but easy enough when you grow into the idea. You were connected to another person through God's will. Through His will, you were able to communicate with this soulmate through your skin. The words you wrote to each other would stay imprinted on your skin until the day you died. So, for example, if Steve wrote, "the sky is pretty today" on his arm, it would show up in the exact same spot on the arm of his soulmate. There were a few exceptions, of course. The words didn't transfer over if the other person was dead, which made sense. Also, (this was the most complicated part) you couldn't write anything about yourself or your location. Steve would never be able to write Steve Rogers or Brooklyn or Bucky Barnes's best friend or super skinny and sickly with blonde hair. It wouldn't transfer over and would just disappear from his own skin within moments.
Still, there had to be a way to easily identify a soulmate. So, there was a symbol unique to each person. When a person is born, the outline of the symbol or picture or whatever would be on some spot on their skin. When their soulmate touched that specific spot on their skin, the mark would color in and the soulmate would be identified. The soulmate had to touch that specific spot, though. Steve had heard stories of people who had gone years being best friends with their soulmates and not knowing that they were connected in that way until they got touched in that certain spot. Luckily, the touch could be transferred through clothing. If not, then Steve would have a problem. His was just to the side of his chest, partially under his arm and partially along the bottom of his ribs.
Although, it really wouldn't matter anyways. It just brought Steve back to his problem. His soulmate wouldn't respond. No matter what Steve wrote/drew on his skin, there was never a response. He knew that his soulmate was still alive because the soul mark turned entirely black when a soulmate died. That hadn't happened yet.
At first, Steve thought that his soulmate just hadn't been born yet. Then he was ten and starting to wonder at the age gap. Then he was twenty. Then he was twenty-five.
And he just kind of… gave up wasn't the right phrase. He would never give up on his soulmate, but he stopped trying. He stopped writing to and drawing for his soulmate. If the soulmate wasn't going to answer, then he wasn't going to bother. Until his soulmate decided to finally respond, then that person was going to get the same silent treatment that Steve had been receiving for over two decades.
There was no way that his soulmate wasn't born at that point. There had never been a recorded age gap between soulmates that was this large. Never. Steve highly doubted that useless little him was the first one to break that pattern. He just wasn't good enough for his soulmate to respond. That was fine. He could deal with that. He had Bucky and he had the war and he had a country to fight for. That was enough.
He ended up in the army, meeting and falling instantly in love with Agent Peggy Carter. He survived the super soldier serum and he survived being an actor to raise morale. He survived going into enemy territory alone and rescuing all those people. He survived the war and he fought and he loved, and, for a while, everything was fine.
Thoughts of his soulmate faded away until he honestly wasn't sure that he would ever care if they decided to respond or not. It became obvious that Peggy wasn't his soulmate (the words he'd written weren't displayed on any portion of her skin and tentative touches to each other's soul marks yielded no results), but they didn't care. They continued in a chaste romance that was constantly put on hold and paused in order for them to fight the war to end all wars, the war that would determine the fate of the entire world. For that entire time, he didn't write a single word on his skin.
Then Bucky died.
Steve tried to drink himself into oblivion, letting the grief and rage soak out of him through the amber liquid that everyone else seemed to enjoy so much. It didn't work. The alcohol was metabolized faster than he could even feel the slightest buzz. There was no way to dim the pain, no way to numb his feelings into something manageable.
So, he resorted to the one thing he'd told himself he would never do again. Carefully, hesitantly, Steve grabbed a marker that he always kept in his back pocket and wrote carefully against his palm (somewhere he knew his soulmate would see, somewhere that person would definitely read the words), I know we really haven't been on speaking terms throughout our lives, but I really need my soulmate today. My best friend just died. He was… the bond isn't letting me describe how it happened, but it was horrible. I had to watch him go. If you could please respond, it would help so much. I just need one word, one line, anything. Please.
Long hours passed. Peggy came to find him. He spent his night in a destroyed bar smelling like alcohol and depression. Morning rose over the sky like a mockery to Steve's pain. There were no words written back.
In the end, Steve mused, it was probably better that his soulmate never responded. If his soulmate had responded, it wouldn't have been only Peggy crying as he flew himself into the frozen ocean. Without his soulmate getting to know him and getting a connection with him, there was no way for the soulmate to feel as much grief that he would now be gone. And yet, selfishly, Steve wished he had at least one word to remember them by, one single communication with the person he had been destined to love.
So, heart aching at the pain he could be causing his soulmate, Steve kept one hand on the steering mechanism of the plane, the other fishing out a pen from his back pocket. He braced his hand against the wheel and then wrote along the side of his index finger, I'm sorry we never really got to talk. I'm going to die now, and I just wanted to say that. I'm sorry.
And then he plunged into the icy depths of the ocean.
Steve hadn't expected to wake up. He especially hadn't been prepared for the time period that he woke up in, the multitudes of bright, flashing lights and the new technology and the completely different mannerisms. He would have been less shocked if he had woken up on a different planet.
For a while, he drowned. He found himself locked in an endless battle with a crippling sadness. Everything he knew was gone. Most of the people he'd fought with, cried with, battled with were dead. They had died of old age and different battles and diseases and he hadn't been there for any of them. The only one left he could find was Peggy. He sat by her side and talked to her and smiled when she talked about her husband and the rest of her family. He patiently reintroduced himself every time she forgot seeing him again. It was painful, but it was all he had left.
Except, maybe, his soulmate. Steve's soul mark was still just an outline on his chest, which normally signified that his soulmate was still alive. The scientists at SHIELD were skeptical about that. They believed that something with the serum and the makeshift cryo that could have stopped his mark from turning black with his soulmate's death.
Still, Steve refused to give up hope on his soulmate. Even though he knew, logically, that his soulmate must be incredibly old and close to death no matter what, he didn't care. The idea that he still had a soulmate, the most important part of his past, was what got him through the days where he wasn't sure if he could continue living on in this world where everything was familiar and so, so different.
Despite all of that, Steve could never bring himself to actually write any words to his soulmate. The soulmate had never written back, not even after Steve's last words. Steve wasn't sure what he'd even say, what he could say to explain what had happened, what was going on.
Eventually, there were new distractions. The Avengers were formed, and they fought together and won together. There was a city to protect and a home to find. The Avengers lived together for a brief stint. They partied, and they protected, and they had fun. They were the team that Steve had left when he'd crashed into the ocean. Thoughts of a soulmate flitted away with each bond he formed with a new teammate.
They weathered the Chitauri and all of Tony's problems and the return of the Winter Soldier (who was actually Bucky, which broke Steve's heart and put it back together all at one time) and Ultron. Then, the team fell apart.
\ The Avenger's Civil War was one of the singularly most painful things Steve had experienced. He'd really thought that the group had something special, something that was unbreakable. He never believed that something like the Sokovia Accords could bring them all down so easily.
So, when the two sides of the war stood on either side of that German airport, the farthest thing from Steve's mind was his soulmate.
The battle was nothing but intense anger and passion and so many rampant emotions that weren't being let go of in the healthy way. The teams fought each other with everything they had, and Steve found himself ultra-focused on the task. He needed to make sure that at least some of them got to the other Winter Soldiers out there and stopped them. Tony wouldn't believe him when he tried to explain the situation, so it was up to Steve alone to fix this.
He fought, and he kicked, and he punched, and he might have dropped a truck on someone. Eventually, Steve and Bucky escaped, fighting through people Steve had once called friends.
They won, sort of. There were no more super soldiers unleashed on the world. But they lost in a much larger way. Tony found out what Bucky had done to his parents. The backlash was spectacular, not that Steve expected any less than that from Tony. The fight left Steve's best friend without an arm and one of his other good friends (at least, that's what Tony had been, once upon a time) hurting and alone.
It wasn't until Bucky was safely away in Wakanda, trapped in a cryo freeze that would hold him until he was ready, that Steve really was able to relax. It was when he was washing up, getting rid of all of the blood and dirt and grime from his skin. That was when he saw it. His mark was filled in. Irritatingly enough, the symbol was filled in with red, white, and blue. As much as people seemed to think otherwise, he wasn't actually the walking personification of the American flag and not everything in his life was those colors. But, of course, his soul mark would be.
It was a testament to how tired he was that it took him another moment or so to really process what that meant. His soul mark was filled in.
His soul mark was filled in.
He was immediately hit with the awful realization that he still didn't know who his soulmate was.
Steve must have been touched during the fight, someone getting in a punch there or a kick or something. He must have been so focused on the fight, so high on the adrenaline that he hadn't noticed the burst of emotion that came from bonding with a soulmate for the first time.
No, no, no! This wasn't fair. Steve had been waiting for decades to find his soulmate, to have some kind of contact with the person. And now that he finally had, he hadn't even noticed! It wasn't fair. Steve punched a wall, feeling a hint of satisfaction at the dent he'd made in the wall (that satisfaction was immediately replaced with guilt for having punched T'Challa's wall).
Steve shook his head, centering himself. It was fine. He'd confirmed two things. One, his soulmate was definitely alive. Steve had even narrowed down who it could be. It was one of the people on the other side of the fight who had to have touched him. There weren't many people that he had touched on that side. He could work with that.
He had also confirmed why his soulmate had never responded. Somehow, the universe had known that this was going to happen to Steve Rogers. Whatever worked the soul bonds knew that he was going to fly himself into the ocean and end up in a frozen state for several decades. It knew that he wouldn't wake up until this time where he'd (hopefully) live out the rest of his life. So, the soulmate for him was in this time period. The person hadn't been born when Steve was alive.
It still didn't entirely answer why the person wasn't writing back now, but Steve could kind of understand. When there was an age gap between two people in a soul bond, the younger one would be born with all of the words on their skin that the other member of the bond had written in their lifetime. Whoever Steve's soulmate was had been born with almost twenty-five years of writing on their skin. They had right across their index fingers a promise of death.
Theoretically, Steve's soulmate would have been able to see that their soul mark wasn't black, but that wasn't necessarily a guarantee. Sometimes, soul marks were strange. All that person would know was that there was a promise of certain death written across their fingers and no more words written after that. No more contact, no other expressions of actually being alive. The person must have been terrified that Steve wouldn't respond, that he was actually dead.
Determined to rectify what was probably one of the biggest messes in his life, Steve grabbed a marker from the room he was in and held it above the back of his hand. He just held it there for a moment, poised and ready to express everything he'd been holding in for a very, very long.
He couldn't do it, though. What if he'd gotten all excited and the person still didn't respond. It would break his heart. With Bucky in a cryo chamber and the rest of his friends either in a prison (T'Challa was gathering the intel and resources to get them free; all Steve had to do was wait until T'Challa gave the go ahead) or hating him, there was no one to pick him up if his soulmate didn't respond.
Steve shook his head resolutely. He couldn't do that to himself, to his soulmate. For all he knew, his soulmate was having the same problems he was, struggling with the ideas of the risks and the rewards, weighing them against each other and trying to figure out which option was better.
Steve would help them make that decision. He'd contact them first. Taking one more deep breath, Steve wrote carefully, Hey, we soul bonded not that long ago. I think it was at that fight at the airport. It was good to finally meet you, even if I'm not entirely certain which one of the people I fought was you.
For a second, Steve stared at his hand, willing someone else's handwriting to etch across the skin there. Eventually, he closed his eyes and pinched his nose. He was being ridiculous. He didn't even know what time zone this person was in. They could be in a dead sleep. It could be hours until the person responded. Besides, he would feel the writing across his skin when his soulmate responded. It was fine. He would just do other things while he was waiting.
Thankfully, for Steve's own sanity, it was only a few minutes later that he felt a pen scratching across the back of his hand, right under his own words. The feeling startled Steve for a moment, forcing him to drop his shirt as he gasp, hand reaching behind him for a shield that wasn't there.
When he finally realized what was happening, Steve grabbed his hand and held it in front of his face, eyes wide with wonder as they took in the slightly slanted, definitely not neat handwriting taking shape across the back of his hands. The words sounded excited, Yes! I saw you! You're Captain America! Or, uh, Steve Rogers, I guess. Um, yeah. Your name. Soulmates should definitely call each other by their names and not, like, their superhero names. Yeah. That. Um, still. The bond isn't really letting me tell you who I am? But, we can definitely try hints! I think I have a hint that can get you to guess who I am. I like arachnids. There, does that help? Sorry, I've got awful handwriting and I'm writing all over the back of your hand where people will see all the time and it looks horrible. And I'm rambling, so it's super long. I ramble a lot. Sorry. I say sorry a lot too. I'm kind of a mess, actually. I've never really done this before, though, so? Sorry!
Even without the hint about arachnids, Steve would have known who it was. There was only one person at that airport with the same level of childish excitement and rambling nature. Spiderman. Steve was soul bonded to Spiderman. It kind of sucked that he couldn't get the kid's real name, but it was alright. They'd meet eventually. Once Steve was no longer a war criminal and wasn't being hunted down. They'd meet up and have a nice dinner and Steve would finally have the soulmate he's waited a lifetime for.
Suddenly, Steve remembered something, just avoiding slapping himself in the forehead. Frantically, Steve wrote in the crook of his elbow, Honestly, I deserve worse than a cute rant across the back of my hand. I dropped a truck on you! Are you alright? None of us hurt you too bad, did we?
A response was forming almost as soon as he'd finished his, It's fine! Really, I'm cool. I heal fast. I mean, it was mainly the little guy that got really big who hurt me. It doesn't feel all that good being hit by him. The truck was all good. I caught it and everything, so… Wait. Did you say cute rant? You thought my ranting was cute?
Steve smiled to himself, tucking all of warm, fuzzy emotions he was feeling down into his chest where he could call on these happy, safe, wonderful feelings he was having at the moment. He wrote back carefully, It's definitely cute. I'd like to hear you do it in person someday. I really am sorry about that whole fight.
There was a pause after that and Steve wondered if he'd done something wrong. Now that he was really thinking about it, this person had been fighting on the opposite side of Steve. Spiderman had been fighting on a different side than Steve, aligning himself with the people who had tried to stop Steve from saving the world. Was Spiderman going to be okay with being soul bonded with someone who didn't have the same beliefs as him?
Hesitant words scrawled across Steve's shin, starting at the bottom and working their way up towards Steve, So, Mr. Stark didn't really tell me what the fight was about. He said that if I went with him, he wouldn't tell my aunt that what I was doing in terms of the whole fighting thing and he said that he'd give me a way higher quality suit. He said that you were wrong, and you thought you were right and it made you dangerous. That's all I knew about the whole thing. But science has proven that there is normally a really strong correlation between the morals of two people who are soul bonded, which probably means that I didn't get the whole story. Is there a chance… could you please tell me what really happened?
Unbelievably grateful that this person who didn't even really knew Steve was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, Steve felt emotions clog his throat as he wrote out an abridged version of what had transpired in this whole messed up situation. There was another long pause after Steve finished writing and he figured that Spiderman was taking a moment to draft his response. Finally, words were being written just above where his own ended, I'm really sorry that I fought against you. I didn't know all of that. I shouldn't have been stupid enough to not get the whole story. I was just kind of star struck and I felt threatened and it was all just exciting, and I let my emotions run away. I should have known better. I messed up.
Even through writing, Spiderman sounded so dejected. It was obvious that he was beating himself up about it. Steve hastened to correct him, It wasn't your fault. It wasn't Tony's either. It was a bad situation with a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings. Everything moved too fast for anyone to talk it through. I'm sorry that Tony did that to you, though, whether it was really his fault or not. But, please, don't apologize for this. Let's let any past mistakes be in the past, okay?
Spiderman immediately responded, Okay. There was a second's pause and then Spiderman was writing, Hey, that thing you wrote on our index finger? Was that when you were crashing into the ocean? Oh, wait, sorry, that was insensitive!
Steve laughed out loud and grinned as he responded, It's not insensitive. You're fine. You can ask anything you want. And yeah, that's what it was from. I thought that my soulmate was from that time, not from this one. Never thought I was going to wake up in a different time. I wanted to warn my soulmate first.
The conversation dissolved from there, turning to lighter subjects. Spiderman never tried to get information about Steve's plans or his whereabouts and he never tried to berate Steve for anything the man had done. They just talked about anything and everything. It was the happiest Steve had been for a long, long time.
Steve and his soulmate had been talking regularly for almost two years. Steve had been tracking Spiderman's process as a vigilante in New York as often as he could. There were times when his missions didn't allow him access to a television or news outlets, but when they were in places where he could get a moment to learn about his favorite arachnid themed hero, he would obsess over it.
At some point, he'd had to tell the rest of his team about it, confiding that Spiderman was his soulmate and that they'd been talking regularly. Even if he hadn't felt guilty about talking to a member of "the enemy" without them knowing, they were bound to notice his obsession with the new hero sooner or later. The team took it well, which was a relief he didn't have words for. They did, however, use the knowledge to tease him at every opportunity.
Most of the time, Steve and Spiderman contacted each other once a day at the very least. Sometimes they'd have tiny conversations that spanned hours, but other times there would be a word or a smiley face as a way to just check-in.
The first time that pattern was broken was the first time the little burner phone in Steve's pocket had rung. Banner's terrified voice had sent him racing after Wanda and they'd found her and Vision just in time to save the two. It was a close call, though, and Vision was hurt more than he should have been.
Steve lost himself in the situation, traveling to Wakanda and having Bucky finally join the team that had rallied around him when he was still lost in the mindset of the Winter Soldier.
During the battle against Thanos, there had been something written on his side, circling the symbol that marked the love of his life. He hadn't gotten a chance to look. Bucky was dying, and other people were dying, and everyone was crumbling to dirt around him. He silently cried as he world was ripped down around him.
As the survivors circled around Steve's kneeling form, he cried out in agony, clutching at side as something burned through him at that exact spot.
The others jerked towards him, caught off guard by the scream. Steve shook his head frantically, knowing in his heart what had happened, but not willing to admit it. Not now. Not after what had just happened. He scrabbled for purchase on his shirt, tearing it up and off. The others stared at him, caught between flinching back and trying to help.
Chest heaving, Steve's slightly misty eyes landed on the pitch-black symbol taking up the side of his chest.
He twisted to the side and retched into the bush, the people behind him making sympathetic noises, adding their own grief to his. Carefully, Steve caught his breath, reading the words written there shakily, I'm sorry. I know I say that a lot, but I really mean it this time. I'm dying, Steve. I'm dying, and I don't want to go. I want to go home and meet you for real this time, and I want to introduce you to my aunt. We'd go on that romantic dinner you always talk about and then we'd kiss goodnight and it would be so sweet and perfect and we'd spend the rest of our lives together. I'm sorry we can't do that. I'm sorry that I'm doing this to you. I'm so, so sorry. I love you.
Steve didn't even know his name.
Author's Note: That was depressing. I mean, accurate for how I felt while watching the movie, but depressing. There's probably going to be a part two when Marvel fixes that mess they created. Because they have to fix it. They have to. Right? Anyways, thanks for reading!