Pairings: Tony Stark/Natasha Romanoff, Natasha Romanoff & Bucky Barnes
Summary: Soulmarks are the nicknames your soulmate will call you. Tony has some Russian petnames and guesses wrong the first time, but Natasha’s just happy that Tony asked her on a date, even if he went on one with Bucky first.
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Tony’d been born with three nicknames printed on him in blocky letters. On the bottom of his left foot Котенок and мышка– and Tony of course, but he didn’t think about that most of the time. Russian, which didn’t do him any favors with his father when he was a kid. By the time the Cold War ended, Howard was long dead, but the anti-Russian sentiments remained. Tony didn’t really give a shit, he was just trying to get through his life one day at a time.
Bad as it sounded, it was easier for Tony to get through his daily work before Afghanistan. Then dealing with Obadiah, then palladium poisoning, then that fucking portal right above what was supposed to be his home. It could have gotten worse. Maybe it should have. But Fate gave all the Avengers a good bounce, and they ended up as a team. They had each other’s backs, and everything Tony had to put up with got easier. There was three times as much to deal with, but it was better somehow.
Kotyonok. Myshka. There were two Russian (or Russian adjacent, as far as Bucky was concerned) pals on the team. Tony had long since looked up what the words were, but it was still hard to imagine someone calling him that. He didn’t feel particularly cute or worthy of being called an animal. Kitten. Little mouse. Tony felt like maybe his soulmate didn’t know him that well, but he appreciated the idea. Sort of.
Bucky called him kotyonok one day, and Tony brushed it off as a coincidence. It was, according to online chat rooms, a very popular nickname, and Tony wasn’t going to put that much stock in it. It happened again, as Bucky was thanking him for the tuneup on his arm. Then again when they were sparring and Bucky gave him a few pointers on fighting someone stronger than him.
There were two problems and it went like this.
1. Bucky was a great friend, but he wasn’t anyone Tony had a romantic (or sexual) interest in. Despite looking a hell of a lot younger than him, Bucky felt more like a murder-uncle or a close friend of the parents like Edwin Jarvis had, than a peer. Obviously they worked together on the Avengers, and they were close, but it had that vibe. Same with Steve, only Steve was the team leader so he was even less in the room as a peer. It was kind of a mess, and not one Tony cared to unravel.
2. Tony was half in love with Natasha. It’s not his fault she was so incredible, but unfortunately it was his fault that he noticed it so much. It was such a goddamn cliche for him to want her. The Black Widow was the classic femme fatale, and Tony was the aging billionaire that thought he’d be different and special enough to mean something real to her. Nat could have anyone she wanted, and she didn’t have any use for the only thing Tony could offer her: copious amounts of money.