She's giving you that look again. That sadness and hint of pity that she tries to hide with a smile. You shift uncomfortably in your seat as she stares, and your gaze slips to the steaming cup of hot chocolate in front of you. It was going so well, too.
Outings with your closest friend always eased the pain of being alone and made you forget the world as it was. All until the topic of the words on your arm came up. You're that deep in thought about all the times this has happened recently that you stop registering that there's words coming out of her mouth and she's speaking to you, but quickly catch yourself as her stare intensifies. She knows you're zoning out.
"...and I'm sure that you're going to bump into your special anytime soon! I mean, come on, how many people even think the word M'am anymore?"
You really wish she'd stop talking about it. After a few seconds of deliberation you decide to flash her a smile and nod, tugging the long sleeve of your shirt self consciously. She catches on to the falseness behind the gestures meant to placate her and frowns in worry.
You were (Age) years old, and not getting any younger. There was no sign of your 'special' or 'soulmate' or whatever the kids were calling them nowadays. For decades, people have been born with the first words that their soulmate will say to them engraved on their arms. Many find their soulmates in childhood, but you hadn't. Not to say you were giving up hope completely. Everyone had one, it was completely unheard of for anyone to end up alone. You just pray that your special hasn't given up hope themselves.
After all, what sort of words would the soulmate of a mute person have on their arm?
Realising she had sent your mind spinning, your friend reaches out and pats your upper arm and you jolt back to reality once again. "At least you don't have the type of garbage I have on my arm, (Name)." She laughs, trying to make you feel better. It works, and you grin as you catch sight of the large and bold 'OH SHIT IT'S REALLY YOU' engraved on her arm, letting out a snort that you try to smother with the back of your hand.
The improved mood is cut by her phone ringing and as she looks at the screen, her smile drops a fraction. She smiles sheepishly as she looks back up at you and you can tell that the caller is the person who the obscene words on your friend's arm belongs to, her special.
"I'm sorry, I have to go, we've booked a date tonight and-"
You shake your head and raise your hand to cut her off, quickly signing that it's fine and that you needed to get going anyway. You had ordered your still steaming hot chocolate in a to go cup due to the frequency of your meetings with your friend being cut short, so with a quick sign of goodbye and after grabbing your work bag, you leave your friend to answer her phone in the coffee shop.
The streets are busy due to it being lunchtime and you find yourself drifting with the crowd, no clear destination in mind even though your next shift is bound to start soon. The softness of the sun on your face is almost enough to make you forget about the very one-sided conversation you just had. Almost, but not quite.
You think you can feel the words itch beneath the fabric of your shirt. Lift it, read us, it seems like they almost beg. But that's ridiculous, you think, as you reach to lift your sleeve. Just to check the time on your watch, you tell yourself.
You move the fabric and you do not look at your watch as you keep walking. They're still there. The words. Like a brand against your skin, a mark, a coil of chains binding you to your destiny. Yet you could never bring yourself to hate them or think of them as ugly, even with the feeling of despair they allow you to feel sometimes. They stare you down:
'Are you okay, M'am?'
The impact is sudden, unexpected, and sends you sprawling to the ground in a flurry of hot chocolate and limbs. You throw your arms out to prevent your face becoming friends with the floor and grimace as you skin your palms. You notice the hot chocolate has splattered over your shirt- you only bought it last week for crying out loud- and allow your head to hang, letting breath hiss out from between your teeth.
A hand appears in your vision accompanied by some gasps of surrounding people and you look up in shock at the deep and comforting voice that follows. But not just at the voice. Though alluring in itself, it is not what catches your attention.
"Are you okay, M'am?'
With brain function down to an all time low due to the words you had been reading on your body seconds ago being read back to you by this voice you can only bring yourself to dumbly nod. As he sets you back on your feet and asks if you're sure, you nod again, your mouth agape. He must have thought it was because of who he is, because he smiles, and as people swarm him for autographs he smiles again and politely apologises as he explains the necessity for him being on his way. Another smile in your direction- and you're not even complaining at the abundance of smiles because they're perfect- and Steve Rogers, Captain America, is walking away from you, smooth voice and strong hands and gorgeous smiles and all.
And you realise that those hands, and the arms attached to them, were completely empty of words.
You wonder how you must look sprinting through the crowd after him, coffee cup and bag abandoned on the sidewalk, bleeding palms and shirt streaked with wasted hot chocolate, eyes wild with the light of only the purest hope.
But the crowd is moving against you and you feel like crying out. There's too many people and you've almost lost sight of the golden head of hair you're using as a beacon. This isn't fair!
The chase stops when the crowd just becomes too thick, and your special seems to dissolve amongst the throngs of people. You swallow thickly and feel your eyes sting, but refuse to let the tears make an appearance.
After discovering that your bag and it's contents were missing from where you left them, you want to scream. Good ol' New York. But of course, it's not the city's fault. It's yours, and you feel stupid. A stupid girl following a stupid hope that she'll probably never be able to find again. The phone call off the nightmare boss and being unable to defend yourself was just the bitter icing on the mouldy cake of a day you were having. Well, at least you didn't have to turn up to that shitty job for the rest of the week. Hell, you might never turn up at all.
Your feet are on autopilot at this point as you mull over your thoughts, and you try to revive the feeling of burning hope that you felt in your belly as those words on your arm were made a physical thing just an hour ago. But all you find is anger. You're angry at yourself for many reasons, you're angry at whatever asshole took your bag, you're angry at your boss, and you're downright pissed off at the sun which keeps shining obnoxiously despite the utterly foul mood you find yourself in.
Your chest heaves a sigh as you finally return to the present and you take in your surroundings.
And you're outside the Avengers tower.
How on Earth did you end up there?
There's echoes of a hopeful fire in the pit of your stomach and you decide it's worth a try. After all, the day couldn't get much worse.
As luck (or bad luck) would have it, one Tony Stark enters the lobby of the tower not long after you do, yet from the elevators on the far wall opposite the door. He notices you frozen in the centre of the room, looking about in awe and he can't suppress a smile as he steps over to you.
"Can I, uh, help you?" He asks, and for the second time today you're gobsmacked. I mean, come on it's Tony Stark standing in front of you and actually talking to you.
You nod after a few seconds of unabashed staring which he only seems to take in stride and reach for you sleeve, which makes his expression change quickly, and for the worse. He rolls his eyes and only mutters something under his breath that sounds like "Fangirl again?" as he suddenly seems to lose interest and you frown as you pull your sleeve up anyway to show him the words. He plasters a fake if not charming grin on his face as he looks back at you and continues this time so you can hear, "Who is it this time? The Green Machine? Shakespeare in the park? Katniss?"
You shake your head with a glare, slightly insulted but at the same time understanding of how many people have probably pulled the 'you said my mark words' card on these people. He carries on though.
"...Tin man? Star Spangled boxers?"
You nod madly at the last one, obviously what Stark thought was a funny nickname for Rogers, and slap your arm lightly to try and get his attention there. He sighs and flourishes his hand as if to tell you to show him. You almost sneer at him, your respect dwindling as you felt he had moved from dealing with what he thought was a regular attention seeking occurrence to just being downright arrogant. But you keep it together as you show him the words on your arm.
Tony was just about sick of these people trying to get some footing or attention from the Avengers by taking advantage of the first word system. It was easy enough to wave your arm about and claim that the words on them were something the Avengers had said to them so many people tended to try and take advantage. But what they didn't know was that all of the Avengers had found their specials, all bar one. Steve. It was also common knowledge amongst the tower inner circle that Steve's arms had no words etched onto them, and they had bounced theories back and forth as to why that was. Was it something to do with him being on ice for so long? But why didn't he match with Peggy then? Did that time in the past even have the markings present? All ideas only seemed to lead on to more unanswered questions. The most believed and yet not talked about theory was that Steve simply didn't have a special at all. Even Tony had to admit that it was cruel. Steve didn't deserve that.
I guess this girl just got lucky by saying Cap. I'll entertain her.
He scans the words on the girl's arm and considers that it is a very Cap-like thing to say. Now for the fun part, though.
You saw Tony think about the words that he had just read and could see that he was going to play along. Good, at least he wasn't shutting you down and kicking you out straight away.
He smirks, "And what did you say to him? Please, enlighten me on what words are written on his arms." He croons with a flick of his hands.
Your eyebrows furrow and you shake your head gently at his tone. A brief look around the room allows you to identify the reception desk and you head towards it, Tony on your heels.
"I am going to have to ask you to leave if you're here for nothing, you know." He almost taunts. Your roll your eyes and ignore him, signalling to the receptionist for a pen. Looking confused, she hands both a pen and pad of paper over and you scrawl a single word on the paper as Tony attempts to read over your shoulder.
You pick up the pad and spin around to show Tony, jabbing at the page with the pen. His eyes widen and his jaw drops.
He quickly collects himself however, "So you're telling me that his arms are blank? That's ridiculous, unheard of! It's impossible!"
You shake your head vigorously and hand the pad and pen back to the receptionist with a thankful nod and a smile. Returning your attention to Tony, you gently tap your throat to try and get the point across, but the gesture seems to go over his head as his own brows furrow in confusion. You huff out another breath and decide to try something else, he's a world-renowned genius after all. You wave your hands to get his attention on them and then sign.
I am mute.
His brows slope more and you feel like an idiot for not just writing it on the paper, but then his eyes widen slightly.
A few more seconds of realisation.
"Oh! How did we never think of that!?" He spins to the receptionist, a face-splitting grin on his face, "Sonia, call Cap down. Actually, scratch that, pass me the phone."
The receptionist, who's name badge read Sophie, almost glared but nonetheless handed her boss the phone as he seemed to be vibrating in place. He tapped the reception desk impatiently, waiting for Steve to pick up from wherever his room was in the tower.
But there was no answer.
"He must still be out." Tony sighs as he hands the phone back to Sophie. "You're more than welcome to-"
"Tony, wasn't expecting you to be down here. What's the occasion?" You freeze up at the new but familiar voice coming from behind you, it's obvious that Steve hasn't noticed or recognised you.
"Well I wasn't expecting you to be out so late, you know. I thought you had a curfew and all that, Capsicle. Yet here we are." Tony speaks jokingly over your shoulder and you're willing yourself to move to face Steve but your feet have decided to meld with the floor and you can't.
"Hilarious, Stark. I was trying to find the owner of this bag. I uh, kinda knocked her over earlier today and for some reason she left it behind. Had a nice chat with the person who stole it." You cringe as you finally turn around to face the music (noticing that Tony was right and it has gotten pretty dark) and Steve's eyes widen marginally in recognition. "And she's right here. Of course." You smile sheepishly while Steve cleared his throat. "I'm, uh, glad you're okay, M'am. Thought something happened to you when your apartment lights were out and some crazy woman was banging at your door. You don't exactly live in the safest part of town. She said she was just your friend though, so uh..." He trailed off as he caught Tony smirking at him and he squinted in confusion.
"I think there's something you should see, Cap." He said as he gently nudged you forward, slipping the pad and pen (which you didn't even see him retrieve??) back into your hand. You shuffle forward under the questioning gaze of Steve Rogers, a curious but slightly guarded vibe coming from him at your approach. You stop in front of him and slowly raise your arm. His eyes dart to it at the movement and show that he hasn't forgotten saying those words to you. He looks like he's in disbelief though,
"It's not possible, how..?" He can't seem to find the words to say. Ironic, you think.
"She's mute, Captain. It'd explain the uh... emptiness of you arms." You barely notice that Tony is ushering Sophie and himself out of the room as he speaks, as well as blocking all access to the lobby including tinting the windows. He knows the intensity of finding your special, and he knows that you and Steve are going to need space.
Steve seems to tune everything but the two of you out after Tony's words too, and he allows the hand not clutching onto your bag as if it's a lifeline to gently trace his fingertips down the words on your arms he leans closer to look again, as if he can't quite believe that they're real. You shudder at the feeling and his eyes, filled with a greedy hopefulness snap to yours as he feels it too. It's intense and doesn't help you stop shaking or feeling like your knees are going to buckle. You know if they do that he'd catch you.
"What's your name?" The question is simple but the boyish tone that normally resides in his voice is gone and the words are spoken lowly. There's something wicked and hot and possessive in his voice that shouldn't be in Captan America's voice, and it makes you feel like once he knows your name, there's no going back and you're his. But he'll be yours, too. So you scribble your name on the pad and he takes it from you without moving away to read and his eyes- those goddamn beautiful chips of ocean- flare and spark as if he's read the meaning of life.
"(Name)..." The way his voice speaks your name makes you feel like a goddess. It's in awe and amazement, and you wish nothing more than to be able to speak, to say his own name and see if it elicits the same heated reaction from him as you can tell he's noticed in you. It's too intense, so intense, and your knees do buckle. And he does catch you.
Your bag hits the floor as he drops it for you and clutches you to him and you drag him to you and you're both grasping at each other as if either one of you will turn to smoke and be gone forever. He's breathing heavily, almost as if he's trying to breath you in, and the heat falters for a second, and he shows the vulnerability he must have been carrying for so many years.
"I thought I'd never find you."
You pull him closer, and you've never felt more complete. You're both shaking and crying and laughing all at once.
Steve Roger's arms may have no words on them, but they'll never be empty. Not while you're around.