Tony’s life had not been his own since the moment he was born with a soulmark on his right rib cage. Having a soulmark meant that his life belonged to the person with an identical mark. The two of them were two halves of a whole, destined to be with each other for as long as they both live.
The blue iris printed on Tony’s rib cage singled him out from the rest of the world. Even though iris’ symbolize hope, the flower that was Tony’s soulmark determined a fate that one would not hope for. Most people on Earth did not have kind opinions of soulmates. Most of humanity valued freedom. However, having a mark that makes one destined to fall in love with one specific person is a threat to freedom. Many people felt that they had the right to choose who they spend the rest of their lives with, and do not like the idea of having it predetermined. Soulmates are rare, with only 1 in 300,000 people having one, but it was enough to make most of the world hate the idea of it.
Tony was taught from a young age to try to avoid meeting his soulmate at all costs. Howard Stark was not thrilled when he found out that his son had a soulmark and he made sure that the world did not find out about it. He did not want the heir to Stark Industries to be hated by the world because his life was not his own. Tony had to wear sunglasses to avoid looking into the eyes of people he met for the first time to avoid the formation of a soulbond with his soulmate. If he never looked directly into anyone’s eyes, he would never form a soulbond. No one ever questioned the fact that he always wore sunglasses. Tony knew that he pulled the style off really well. He had many eccentric pairs and people complimented them all of the time.
Growing up with news headlines such as “College man attacked at a bar for having a soulmark” and “Soulbonded Pair killed in New York City” was not healthy for Tony. He was scared of the iris printed on his rib cage. He didn’t know what he did to deserve it. He would have done anything to make it disappear.
For a long time, Tony was known as a playboy. Subconsciously, he thought that he lived that lifestyle because it allowed him to have a choice. He hadn’t met his soulmate yet, so he wanted to prove to everyone that he could sleep around with many different people. He wanted to prove that he still had the freedom to choose, even though no one even knew that he had a soulmark. Mostly, he wanted to prove it to himself. He wanted to be more than his soulmark. He ignored how wrong it felt in his gut and how it made his stomach churn because none of the people that he slept with were his soulmate. Sometimes, he didn’t think about major decisions because he knew that his life would not matter once he found his soulmate. Having a soulmate was the worst thing that he could do and he didn’t even get a choice in that. That contributed to his title of the Merchant of Death.
There were only two times that he wondered if he met his soulmate. Rhodey was the first friend that Tony ever had, and he felt like they had a strong connection. Tony didn’t necessarily think that he had any romantic feelings for him, but if he was able to form such a strong friendship with him, maybe that meant that he could be his soulmate. Tony tested the idea by taking off his sunglasses one day in their dorm, but nothing changed. A soulbond didn’t form, meaning Rhodey was not his soulmate.
The second person that Tony thought could maybe be his soulmate was Pepper Potts. Pepper was the only person that Tony had ever been infatuated with. He couldn’t say that he was in love with her because he didn’t know what love was, but he knew that was the closest he had ever been. When he decided that he wanted to try dating her, he took his sunglasses off and looked into her eyes, but there was no reaction. He couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that it wasn’t her. He didn’t know who else it could be. But Tony also couldn’t help but be relieved. He spent his whole life dreading finding his soulmate. Everyone told him that soulmates were wrong and unnatural, so this allowed him to be like everyone else for a little while longer. He didn’t end up dating Pepper, though. It didn’t feel right. The iris on his rib cage didn’t allow him to have the chance to fall in love with anyone beside the person he belonged to.
Even when he surrounded himself with people, Tony constantly felt lonely. He knew it was because he hadn’t found his soulmate. He didn’t understand how he could constantly long for someone that he had never met, someone that he didn’t know the name of, but his stomach felt empty for as long as he could remember. It was another constant reminder of how he was different than everyone else and how he would never fit in with society no matter how hard he tried.
So to summarize, Tony hated his soulmate, even though he had no idea who they were.
Tony was 42 years old and still hadn’t found his soulmate, which he considered a success. Maybe his soulmate was avoiding him as well. Tony grew up hearing that finding his soulmate would be inevitable, but he made it this far without meeting them. He was thankful.
Tony’s thoughts did not always dwell on his soulmate, but he did not have time to think about them for a while when Loki arrived on Earth with his sceptre. Tony focused his time and energy on his new team and all of the chaos that arrived with the god of mischief. He was incredibly pissed off when he realized Loki was using his tower to set up the portal for his alien army. He immediately volunteered to be the one to confront Loki. It was going pretty well, until Loki lifted up his sceptre and pointed it towards Tony’s chest.
“How will your friends have time for me when they are so busy fighting you?” Loki said, as the sceptre touched Tony’s arc reactor. Tony winced as he waited to feel the power of the sceptre influence his mind, but he felt nothing.
Loki tried again, but there was still no reaction. “This usually works,” Loki muttered.
Tony looked up at Loki in shock with a joke on the tip of his tongue, but he gasped in surprise instead. When he looked up, he made eye contact with Loki and he felt his heart start to beat out of his chest. Tony couldn’t tear his gaze away from the god standing in front of him, it was as if his eyes were stuck looking at Loki’s. Every cell in Tony’s body was screaming at him to reach forward and touch the god standing in front of him. He noticed that everything in the room was fading and his attention was solely on Loki. It wasn’t until then that Tony realized a soulbond was forming between them.
“No,” Tony mumbled with a tone barely above a whisper. He spent his whole life trying to avoid this exact moment, but he failed. He knew that he wasn’t wearing sunglasses, but he still had a lot of practice not making direct eye contact when he wasn’t wearing them. How could he slip?
“I can’t do this,” Loki said while slowly lowering his sceptre. Their gaze never broke from each other no matter how hard Tony tried.
Tony wanted to say something, he wanted to say anything that would make them stop looking at each other but it was as if he was paralyzed. There were a lot of conflicting thoughts running through his head. The thoughts that were at the front of his mind were related to how terrified he was of the soulbond that was forming between them. Soon, they would be able to have an empathic and telepathic connection that they could never break. The thoughts at the back of his mind were the most terrifying because they were instinctual, so Tony couldn’t get rid of them. He felt relieved that he no longer felt the empty feeling in his stomach. He wanted to step closer to Loki and fill in the gap between them. He wanted to put his head on Loki’s chest and listen to his heartbeat and familiarize himself with the sound of his soulmate.
The thoughts only lasted for a few seconds before Tony was able to push them away. He couldn’t let himself have this. He couldn’t have a soulmate. It was a trap.
“You did this with your sceptre,” Tony said, even though he knew that it was a lie.
“No magic or infinity stone could do this,” Loki responded.
Tony didn’t know how much time had passed, but the two of them made no effort to move. They were too captivated by each other to allow themselves to focus on anything else.
“The Chitauri are coming. We can’t be here,” Loki told him and grabbed Tony’s hand before he could protest.
Tony saw his surroundings disappear and they were suddenly standing in a field. He had no idea where they were, but Tony hated how he didn’t worry about it because he was still with Loki. His chest almost screamed at him in pain when he had the slightest thought of running away. He knew he couldn’t leave. Tony also noticed how he felt literal sparks flying up his arm from his hand that was holding Loki’s. The touch felt electric, and Tony had never felt something so amazing before. It took all of his strength to let go, and he immediately felt a chill run through his body in the absence of Loki’s touch.
“Where did you take me?” Tony asked with panic in his voice.
“We are not far away. We are an hour north of your city,” Loki replied.
The question was pointless, Tony knew that the two of them had to be alone for a while for them to form a healthy soulbond. Their bond could form incorrectly if they were in the presence of too many outsiders.
“I couldn’t let the Chitauri get to you,” Loki answered.
As soon as Loki answered his question, Tony felt a pit form in his stomach. His team was still there and were left to fight off the alien army without him. He knew that he had to ask Loki to bring them back, even if that meant their soulbond would be compromised. But Tony’s instincts made Tony want to scream at the thought of leaving this field where he was alone with his newfound soulmate. The thought of being near other people made him want to cry. It was as if no one else mattered to him anymore. Tony buried his head into his hands in frustration.
“My friends are there,” Tony said, even though it pained him to do so.
“They will fight for themselves,” Loki replied.
“I need to help them,” Tony told him. Even though the soulbond was clouding his judgment, he knew that he couldn’t leave his friends and the city to fight the Chitauri without his help.
“No you don’t, Stark. This is not our fight. Not anymore,” Loki said. Tony couldn’t believe that he was soulbonded to someone so selfish. They were supposed to be completely compatible, but it definitely did not seem like it.
But all of the research said that soulmates were always selfish about each other. The new bond was probably clouding Loki’s judgment too. Tony wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. He wished that he could, but then he remembered why Loki was there in the first place.
“This is our fight. It was our fight from the moment you arrived on this planet,” Tony told him.
“I will not compromise our soulbond and our lives for your friends,” Loki said.
Compromising a soulbond can lead to psychosis and even death if two soulmates in the early stages of a soulbond formation were separated. Tony didn’t want that to happen either and admitted that Loki did have a point. He isolated themselves as a survival instinct. Tony was sure that Loki didn’t want this soulbond to happen either. He was beginning to feel Loki in his mind, which meant the soulbond was getting stronger. Tony could tell that Loki was mad at how inconvenient the timing of their meeting was. He also could feel fear coming from Loki. If anyone should be scared, it should be Tony. Loki was the one that invaded the planet and brought an alien army.
“Is there anything that we can do without separating?” Tony asked. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but he knew that he had to stay near Loki. He didn’t want to risk anything going wrong with their soulbond, as much as Tony didn’t even want it to form.
“I can bring us back to your tower but I will not allow you to leave my sight,” Loki said. The possessiveness in Loki’s tone sent a chill through Tony’s spine. Tony hated how much he liked it.
Tony took a deep breath. “Fine.”
Loki took Tony’s hand again and they were back in Tony’s penthouse. Tony immediately let go of Loki’s hand before giving himself the chance to think it through. If he let the touch linger for too long, Tony wasn’t sure if he would ever have been able to let go. He looked out of the window and saw hundreds of aliens running around the city and many buildings destroyed.
“I have to go out there and help,” Tony pleaded.
“No,” Loki said simply.
“People are dying!” Tony shouted. He wasn’t ready to let Loki make decisions for him. Tony wasn’t ready for Loki to have any control over him. He wasn’t ready for any of this.
“And I do not want you to be one of them,” Loki said.
Tony was furious with that answer, because he knew that Loki had no concern for Tony’s life before they met. But he also understood. He was very uncomfortable with the thought of Loki being harmed, even though he was an enemy. Loki was not only an enemy to the planet, but also the exact person that Tony was afraid of since the day he was born.
“JARVIS,” Tony called for his suit before Loki could object. Within a minute, he felt the familiar feeling of his suit surrounding him. It was the safest he felt all day.
“Stark! We have been trying to reach you for the past 45 minutes!” Tony heard Steve yell into his earpiece.
“I was preoccupied. What are we dealing with?” Tony asked.
“Fury just informed me that there is a nuke heading towards the city,” Steve told him. Tony wondered how long he was gone.
Tony looked up at the portal in the sky that the Chitauri came from.
“I know just where to put it,” Tony said.
“You’re mad!” Loki exclaimed. Tony wasn’t sure how he could hear his conversation. Maybe the soulbond was getting even stronger. He wondered if Loki was able to read his thoughts. Tony wasn’t able to read his yet, but he was able to feel some emotions from him. Soulmates couldn’t read every thought from each other, but they often were able to hear snippets of what the other was thinking.
“I have to,” Tony turned to Loki and said. He didn’t want to disrupt their soulbond as it was forming, but he also didn’t want the whole city to be destroyed. The choice was obvious.
Before Loki had a chance to respond, Tony was flying out of the tower. He spotted the nuke right away and started carrying it towards the portal. As soon as he left the tower, he could feel his chest ache from Loki’s absence. Tony did his best not to focus on it, but it was difficult. It was getting harder to breathe as he continued to fly towards the portal. He didn’t know how he was going to live like this for the rest of his life. As their bond gets older, they will be able to spend more time apart but it was almost unheard of for a soulmate pair to be apart during the first few weeks of meeting. Now Tony understood why.
Tony flew into the portal and let go of the nuke. There was an overwhelming amount Chitauri ships waiting in front of the portal. Behind the ships, there was an endless amount of space. Tony couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t sure if it was because of lack of oxygen or the distance between him and his soulmate. He closed his eyes.
After a few seconds, the pain in Tony’s chest disappeared and he was able to breathe again. He lifted his faceplate and took a large breath. He kept gasping for air as he looked around at his surroundings to figure out where he was. He was back in his penthouse. Loki was sitting on the floor next to him. He looked like he was trying to catch his breath as well.
Loki lost the battle. He was not in control of the people of Earth. Except for one.
“Don’t ever do that again. You will kill us both,” Loki warned.
“I won’t have to if you don’t try to invade my planet again,” Tony responded.
“I think our bond will be okay,” Loki said, completely ignoring Tony’s response.
“You want this bond?” Tony asked. As he asked the question, he immediately sensed how horrified Loki felt that the question was even asked.
“You are my soulmate,” he replied. “How could I not?”
Even if having a soulmate wasn’t one of the worst things that could happen to a person, Tony did not want to be bonded to someone who tried to take over the Earth using a mind-controlling sceptre and an army of aliens. He hated how his heart and his head disagreed. The conflicting feelings were making him angry.
“You don’t want me,” Loki whispered, and Tony felt his heart break. He did want him. Every cell in his body wanted him. It was getting harder and harder for him to push that away.
“It’s complicated,” Tony said. He would have to explain later. Clearly, Asgard had a much different opinion about soulmates than Earth did.
The rest of the Avengers arrived at Tony’s penthouse in search for Loki. They must have been wondering where he was during the whole battle. Clint stood in front of him with an arrow aimed at his head. Without thinking, Tony stood between them. Tony internally cursed at himself. Why did he do that?
“Move out of the way, Tony,” Clint warned.
“Lower your weapon and I will step away,” Tony told him. He didn’t want Loki to get hurt. He couldn’t let him get hurt.
Clint reluctantly lowered his arrow, and Tony stepped aside. Thor walked up to Loki and put a set of handcuffs around Loki’s wrists. Tony was able to tell how uncomfortable they were. Not just physically, Loki also felt restricted and panicked.
“I must take my brother to Asgard where he will be punished for his crimes,” Thor stated.
“No!” Tony was quick to exclaim.
Tony could tell that he was losing control. With every second he felt himself connecting even more with his soulmate.
“I think that Asgard is more equipped to deal with him,” Steve said.
“Stark and I cannot be separated. Unless you want the Man of Iron to rot away in a prison cell with me, I suggest that I am not taken back to Asgard,” Loki explained. And with that, Tony’s secret that he kept for his whole life was revealed.
At first, the Avengers looked at Loki in confusion. They did not understand right away why Loki was so eager to stay in Tony’s presence. Natasha was the first one to realize what Loki was saying and looked towards Tony with a shocked expression on her face. Tony wanted more than anything to run to his workshop and hide.
“You have a soulmark,” she said to Tony.
When the rest of them figured it out, they had mixed expressions. The Hulk was at the other side of the room not fully paying attention to the conversation. Clint had a look of pity on his face that Tony was familiar with from his family growing up. Steve looked indifferent. His expression was hard for Tony to read. Thor looked ecstatic, like he was a kid on Christmas morning. He then looked towards Loki with a large grin on his face.
“Tony,” Steve mumbled softly, but didn’t seem to know what else to say.
“He can stay here for now. Once our bond is solidified we can reassess,” Tony said.
“Of course! We must leave you two alone for your bond to form!” Thor exclaimed.
Get these people out of here.
Tony blinked out of surprise. He heard his first thought from his soulmate.
“I’ll contact you guys tomorrow. Gotta let the voodoo magic solidify our soulbond and whatnot,” Tony told them. He wanted everyone gone too. He didn’t like that his soulmate felt uncomfortable. Tony also noticed that he felt uncomfortable as well with so many people around while their soulbond was still new.
“Let us know if you need anything,” Natasha said and led everyone out of the penthouse.
Tony immediately sensed Loki’s confusion. He didn’t know how to explain to the god that soulmates were considered equivalent to a curse. It seemed very different than what Asgardians thought of them. Tony knew that he would have to explain it, but he couldn’t get himself to. Instead, Tony took a seat on his couch. He needed to rest for a few minutes. Loki sat down next to him but made sure to leave some space between them.
As he sat on the couch, Tony thought about how it made sense that Loki was his soulmate. He and Loki were each other’s other half, and they both have made many mistakes that were considered unforgivable. Tony spent the past four years trying to make up for his Merchant of Death title. He became Iron Man to protect the world from people like he used to be. But he realized that it could never last. His soulmate was the god of mischief and lies. Loki tried to take over Earth to rule the planet like a tyrant. His other half mind controlled countless people to try to get what he wanted. If that was Tony’s other half, that meant that he couldn’t be better than that if they were supposed to be equals in their soulmate pair. Tony would never be more than his mistakes, and Loki wouldn’t either. They would never be more than each other.
“Are soulbonds not accepted on Midgard?” Loki asked before Tony began to explain.
“No. They are considered to be one of the worst things to happen to someone,” Tony responded.
“That makes sense… It explains a lot of the emotions that I have been able to sense from you,” Loki said.
“What have you sensed from me?” Tony asked curiously.
“Apprehension and fear mostly. I can feel that you are holding yourself back,” Loki told him.
Tony knew that he was right. He definitely was holding himself back. He wanted more than anything to touch Loki to make sure that this was real. He wanted to feel the electric feeling of Loki’s touch again. He wanted to know the person sitting on the couch next to him. Everything was congregating around him and Tony was so interested in him. It was hard to keep denying himself.
“I’m sorry,” Tony apologized. He realized that this must have been disappointing for someone who did not have such a low opinion on soulmates.
“Soulbonds are celebrated on Asgard. They are rare, but they are the most pure form of love in the nine realms. I was ecstatic to have a soulmark as a child.”
I have been waiting for you.
Tony wished he grew up like that. He was able to feel how happy Loki was to have found Tony. Tony was able to feel how long Loki waited for this. He wished that it could be happy for him too.
“You have no need to apologize. It is not your fault what beliefs you were raised with,” Loki said.
Loki moved over on the couch so there was barely an inch between them. He took Tony’s hand, and Tony gasped at the contact. He couldn’t believe how amazing it felt to have his hand held by the god. The sparks reappeared, and Tony couldn’t make himself let go.
“I am not a threat to your freedom, Stark. Your life is still your own, and my life is still mine. We have a soulbond, but that does not take away who you are,” Loki told him.
Tony choked on his breath. “They always said that once I met you, my life would not be my own anymore.”
“I know what it is like to have my mind not be my own, and it felt nothing like this. Do not worry,” Loki responded.
Before Tony was able to respond, Tony’s mind was flooded with memories from Loki. They were vivid, as if Tony was there with him. Loki was on the ground covered in scrapes and bruises. There was a cloaked figure holding Loki’s sceptre standing above him. He was absolutely terrified, and it was a familiar fear that Tony had experienced before.
“You were tortured,” Tony mumbled. He hated the fact that his soulmate was tortured. He hated that Loki knew what it was like.
“I did not mean for you to see that,” Loki sighed. “I was not affected by the sceptre the same way that your friend, the Hawk, was. The sceptre transformed my own thoughts into more violent and vengeful ones that motivated me to do what Thanos wanted me to do and retrieve the Tesseract. I was upset and angry that I was stripped of my title of the King of Asgard and wanted to prove to Odin that I could be a successful ruler.”
Tony was somewhat familiar with Loki’s time as king from what Thor told him. Tony was wrong about his soulmate. He didn’t want Loki to be in danger anymore.
“I feel the need to protect you from whoever Thanos is and make sure that he never lays a hand on you ever again,” Tony told him.
Loki let out an amused chuckle. “I appreciate that. But I have no plans to meet him again. He is centuries away from here.”
The two of them sat in a comfortable silence for a while. Tony had less and less negative thoughts about the soulbond. He was warned that this would happen, that his instincts would take over and push away anything that threatened the soulbond. He was so close to giving in.
“Can I see your mark?” Tony heard himself ask. The question slipped out.
Loki gave him a soft smile. “Of course.”
Loki lifted up his shirt to reveal the familiar blue iris on his rib cage. It was the same iris that Tony stared at in the mirror and prayed for to disappear. Tony found himself wanting to reach out and touch the mark on Loki’s skin. He wanted to feel the spark intensify between them.
“Go ahead,” Loki said, knowing what Tony wanted through their bond.
Tony reached out with his right hand and traced the mark on Loki’s rib cage. The contact with Loki’s mark made Tony jump a little bit in his seat, but it was an amazing feeling. It was as if Tony was waking up for the first time. Loki felt warm and inviting. Tony looked up at Loki to see the god staring at him intently with a look of infatuation. Tony had an overwhelming urge to kiss Loki. He could tell using their bond that Loki wanted to kiss him too, but he was unsure if Tony would want to.
Tony couldn’t do it anymore, he finally gave in to the bond and allowed it to complete. He should have known that there was no use trying to fight it. Everyone always said that he wouldn’t be able to fight it. This was his fate from the day that he was born, and it didn’t seem so bad anymore. Loki was absolutely amazing. He considered Tony’s feelings and worries right away. He seemed to want Tony to feel comfortable and happy, and Tony was very appreciative.
Tony wrapped his arms around Loki’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss. He felt sparks of electricity run through his body. He felt himself sink into Loki’s grasp and his kiss, and he didn’t want it to end. Instead of feeling like his life was not his own anymore, he felt more alive than ever before.
Why did no one warn him that it would feel so good? Why did the world hate something that made him feel so warm and happy?
Who cares what your world believes. We have each other.
Tony spent his whole life fearing himself and his soulmate. He feared the one person that he was destined to be with. But now Loki was all he wanted. He didn’t understand why he didn’t want to let himself have this.
It was ironic that the blue iris symbolizes hope. Tony was not familiar with the feeling of hope until he soulbonded with Loki.