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It was a hard thing being an atheist in his society, even with twenty years or so of practice. 

Miracles were things people believed in, as an everyday occurrence. Books, movies, TV shows. The miracle of life, friendship, employment. It was everywhere he went.

When he was born, he was taken to a church and baptized, just like the majority of the population of his country. He was taken to church every Sunday until he was eight and he hated every single moment of it, from the uninspired singing to the pointless standing and sitting at what seemed like an incredibly long game of Simon Says.

He hated every single thing about it. 

Ever since he was born, he heard the stories from both his parents - even if the stories tampered down when his mom had died - about meeting the person whose name was bound to get written on your wrist. The one person your hormones and melanin decided would be the perfect match for you when you hit puberty. Those people the most romantically inclined called their “soulmates”.

A fucking miracle.

He heard enough stories and he read enough classics and couldn’t help but scoff at old Hollywood movies that showed star-crossed lovers finally getting together after very little adversity when he lived in the real world, where support groups for people with burned skin around their wrists existed, where people killed themselves when the name in the other person’s wrist wasn’t the right one, where people got killed when the name in their wrist wasn’t the right gender. Or the right language.

He did not believe in miracles. How could he possibly believe in the concept of ‘souls’ when he knew for a fact an almighty christian God was an uninspired fairy tale people told themselves at night to forget about the finality of death. Of loneliness. Of pure human cruelty.

No, he did not believe in god. Because if he did, he would have to question so many things in his life that would possibly make him unable to get up in the morning. Why names? Why at puberty? Why his mother? He would not give such power to an unoriginal boogeyman. 

He did not believe in god. 

And he did not believe in miracles. 

According to history and science books, people developed the names in an evolutionary step. Most scientists thought it meant to make people the best they could be, in order to survive, at least when it had anything to do with health and procreating. Most experiments done with human subjects in the matter came from during the war and it made most people sick to their stomachs. 

Stiles read almost everything he could find before he turned sixteen. 

People had told him that he was just "a late bloomer", that there were reports of people receiving their names as late as when they turned 18, and that he "shouldn't lose hope".

He did not believe in miracles.

Because a miracle, if you are in the wrong side of the story, becomes something else. 

A genetic anomaly. 

Once in every 50.000 births. 

As of his nineteenth birthday, he was one of the five people alive in the U.S. with a blank wrist.

Chapter Text

He should be more appreciative of the five consecutive messages he got from his friends, since they were the only reason he actually got up in time to get to his philosophy lecture. His friends or the foresight of changing his notifications alert to Nicki Minaj’s laughter from Anaconda. Either way, while he tried to get dressed as quietly as he could and leave without waking up Sam? Sly? He didn’t quite remember the name. But he had a feeling the sleeping part was a fairly conscious decision to keep his eyes closed. Nicki’s laughter had been very loud considering the silent room and the time. But it had been an amazing night, he could pretend to preserve some part of it all. Besides, he wasn’t up for the part that usually came after either. And call him jaded, like many of his friends actually did, but he knew exactly how that conversation would go.

So… could we pretend this never happened?

Here’s the thing: Stiles had a bit of a reputation going around the not so prestigious Beacon Hills Community College and, don’t get him wrong, he appreciates that reputation more than he could possibly say. He literally worked his ass to maintain such an image. But now it was starting to get to him. He was the unapologetic easy to sleep with manslut of campus and he liked that label very much for a while, especially considering the one he had to adjust to for most of his teen life.

After spending his high school years having to see people pair up like sheep all around him (shut up, Scott, he was not jealous), he started to wonder why things had to be the way they were. Why did he have to have this forced relationship to someone he didn’t even know he’d like? He wondered constantly what kind of name would appear on his arm. Maybe the person fated to live with him forever loved country music? Or worse, maybe they’d be a reality TV fan. He wondered if he would have a marriage like his or like Scott’s parents. He wondered if he’d end up like Jackson and Lydia, getting their names at the same time, far too young, and resenting each other for it. He wondered if he’d have one of those platonic bonds where people never actually married.

He started to have panic attacks around the same time his mother died. He’d have them whenever he started making plans about his future and about leaving his father to live with the complete stranger he was destined to be with for the rest of his life. He never actually told anyone his fears, considering how the world saw the damn things, people could brand him incapable. Maybe even have one of those horrible trials he’d read about where people’s autonomy was handed to the person whose name was branded on their wrists. No matter who they were.

When he got older, he started making more realistic lists of how he’d act according to different people’s names on his skin. General information about how he’d convince whoever it was that he had to stick close to home because his father needed him, for instance. He made plans from the mailman to Hollywood actresses (famous people could deal with long distance relationships… right?). He even wondered if his wrist would betray him and have Scott’s name written on it. Because he’d never be able to resent Scott. Even if he wanted to move. And that would have been the cruelest thing to do to him.

While he did the walk of shame, well, more of a run of shame now towards his classroom, he remembered how ironic the whole thing was when his birthdays continued to pass and no name had ever shown up. He’d ended up with nobody to resent but himself.

Scott even came up with an insane plan to run away for a weekend and have Stiles get a tattoo with Scott’s name where the real tattoo should be and, while Stiles approved of the illegality of the plan, he would never put Scott into one of those situations where he’d have to lie for the rest of his life. But he couldn’t deny that he was tempted. Specially when Allison had agreed to the plan and even promised to work out a poly marriage clause when the time came.

She was, as Scott used to say, perfection.

He had gotten to class just before Mrs Blake closed the doors. This was one of Stiles’s favorite subjects, so it was fairly obvious that the teacher would literally hate his guts. She started the class as she always did, by completely ignoring they were even there before she had prepped everything to her liking: first she would separate all papers in order as to which they had to be handed over to the class, then by going to the board to write down the topic of the day. She wasn’t a bad teacher, she was just a boring one. She wrote very carefully and well centered on the white board: PHILIP vs THE PEOPLE, which prompted half of the class to shift nervously on their chairs and the other to roll their eyes.

Stiles could almost have forgotten about his dreadful morning, until his phone started screaming that he loved that fat ass right after Mrs Blake turned around to finally start the class. Stiles fished his phone as fast as he could from his pants to turn it to silent, feeling the judging eyebrows of one Isaac Lahey by his side. After a couple of snickers, class was officially starting.

Trying to be as discreet as he could, he saw that the guy he had slept with had sent him a text message. He knew it was from him because the contact just said S. and the text message was the predictable request to never mention that they had spent the night together to anyone.

If he didn’t like sex so much, he’d be offended. But he understood.

He lost his virginity to a girl he had been friends with in middle school. Her name was Heather and she wanted to have sex once before finally moving to a bigger city to try and find her Soulmate. He had been so nervous that he was shaking a little, and, even with all her confidence, so was she. They had a clumsy first time, with uncomfortable laughter at noises their bodies were making and a couple of tears from the unexpected connection. He had even started to tear up a little after it, which was a secret he never ever ever would share with anyone. But it was a small detail that was branded into his memory forever because Heather, possibly still high herself from their mutual very satisfying orgasm, had said in an awed voice that she “didn’t know soulless people could cry”.

Stiles typed as fast as he could while already formulating the first paragraph about how the entire trial was ridiculous and inhumane. 

Don’t worry about it, it wasn’t that memorable anyway.

Chapter Text

Stiles could be and he was, on a daily basis, called many things, but one of them wouldn’t be a bad student. The only time he had problems in school had been when his mom had died and he couldn’t focus on anything other than not embarrassing himself by screaming at some unsuspecting teacher. So it was a matter of personal pride that most of his teachers seemed to think he was a particularly bright young man, even if he lacked the attention span to pay attention to long lecturers. At least that was true to those who didn’t think he was unnatural and had no soul.

That’s why he waited until the end of the class to check his messages. Because he had too much respect for the institution he was currently attending to not pay his utmost attention to his professor. It had nothing to do with ignoring Scott’s invitation to lunch or with Lydia’s very likely gloating that she had gotten a higher grade for Mr. Harris’ research project.

He should have remembered that Isaac would remember every single time he refused to let him cheat off of him and wouldn’t let him escape as easily as pretending to not have checked his phone.

Because Isaac had had very little love in his life and lived to make things hard for Stiles.

When he had tried to escape and run towards the exit, he felt a tug on the back of his shirt, making him flail spectacularly and fall back onto his seat.

“Going somewhere?”, Isaac said, no intonation that signified that it was really a question, merely a smirk that refused to leave his face when he looked at Stiles. God, he hated Isaac’s face so much. Sure, he was cute and, in another universe, they could even hook up, but in this one Isaac was a douche and he should never be allowed out of the weird cave he lived in.

They’d met when they were children and, like most people who ended up at Community College, Isaac was screwed over by circumstances.

When they were kids, Stiles was loud and energetic and Isaac was quiet and subdued, making Stiles rule him out as boring and Isaac to be a little afraid of him. Nobody noticed much about Isaac then, not even the teachers. And he guessed that’s what made Isaac so hostile to most authority figures he met, including the sheriff.

The thing was, after his mom passed, Stiles was incredibly protective of his dad, even when he needed absolutely no protection. So they never got along much and Isaac tended to stay away from Stiles. Later, both the sheriff and Stiles felt a little responsible for never noticing what Isaac had been going through.

Then, hormones kicked in, Isaac got a name on his wrist, like everybody else, and Stiles didn’t.

Isaac started to always smirk in his presence then. As if he finally had something that Stiles wanted and this time he would be the one left wanted. Stiles didn’t like it one tiny bit. The worst part of it all was that he couldn’t say much because, as it turned out, the name on Isaac’s wrist had been Allison’s. Scott’s Allison.

Suddenly, there was this whole other person, who really disliked Stiles in the middle of his family and he had no say in it. After all, he knew that, if there was an intruder there, it was him.

Two people having the same name on their wrists wasn’t so unusual as to require any extra attention from the world. Many people had similar names, after all, and in the case where it indeed was the same person, multiple soulmates contracts had become legal back in the 70s. It wasn’t as dire as what happened a couple years later to him, but It sure made highschool interesting for a while. Specially if you were best friends with a very sensitive and romantic Scott McCall, who made it his life goal to befriend Isaac and to learn about his life story.

Stiles wasn’t heartless, don’t get him wrong, he felt bad when he learned that Isaac had been abused and he did most of the research to formalize the claim Allison could put forward legally to remove her soulmate from his previous guardian and emancipate him according to state law. But whenever he tried thinking of Isaac in a different light, he’d encounter the real one and his smirking face of contempt towards him.

If he hadn’t seen how he looks at Scott and Allison, he’d suspect a stroke.

“Really? Was that really necessary?”, Stiles said tipping his head back to scowl at him, who was standing over him like the creep he was. Pulling his shirt from Isaac’s hand, he pulled himself to his feet again and started to walk out again, this time with Isaac closely behind him.

“It is when you try running away from your best friend and his soulmates.” Isaac steps in front of him and crosses his arms, as if Stiles is going to be intimidated by his spaghetti arms. He then wonders if he can make him move by threatening to touch his wrist again.

One of the things he learned fairly early on was that some superstitious people didn’t like to be touched by him. It was a bit disconcerting when he had to explain that his cold hands were a reflection of his poor circulation, not related in any way to his lack of a name on his wrist.

“I have no problem spending time with Scott. Or Allison. I just don’t like you”, Stiles crossed his own arms and gave him a smirk of his own. Two could play this game. And he had just as much practice, since he did it at least once a day. “And you don’t like me either, so what do you think of pretending you couldn’t catch me and let me deal with the disappointed stares Scott and Ally are gonna give me later, huh, pal?”

Isaac paused and while he seemed to consider this solution, he shook his head and uncrossed his arms. “I promised I’d bring you with me”

“Lie, Isaac. We both know you can do it”.

“Well, some people don’t feel as comfortable with lying to people as you do, Stilinski.” Isaac rolled his eyes and apparently decided to overcome his own aversion in order to pull Stiles’s shirt once more in the direction of the cafeteria. “Besides, for some reason both Scott and Ally decided to look at me like I’m responsible for your presence in these things. So you’ll come and you’ll smile and you’ll be civil”.

Stiles knew that he could easily overpower Isaac. He also knew it would be unfair and that Scott wouldn’t approve of it. Not need to admit to himself that he’d feel disgusted with himself.

He really did hate Isaac quite a lot.