When Derek is born, his arm is clear. This is normal. His parents smile and dote on him all the same- the words don't come in till months, years even, for some children.
When Derek is seven and bouncing around the house shouting and chasing after Laura, he gives a shocked yell and falls to the ground, staring at his arm. His parents scoop him up and he struggles, pinching at his own hand.
“Words, words,” he says fearfully, twisting and clutching at his mother. “What’s happening?” They cover it with his sleeve, and smile secretly at the dark swirls of a word beginning to coalesce. Laura shows Derek her own- ‘wake not the woods’, a whisper of sharp, spiky script etched onto her wrist. He holds onto his older sister tightly, and they pull back his sleeve together the next morning. ‘Genim’ is written there in an energetic hand, rounded ‘m’s and ‘n’s with the dot of the ‘i’ a quick, small hyphen.
“You’ve got a soul-mate!” Laura says encouragingly, before slamming a pillow in his face and clattering down the stairs at the smell of pancakes. She's a supportive older sister that way. Derek stays in bed a little while longer, tracing the word, and says aloud, the words loud and bright in the quiet room-
“There’s somebody out there for me!”
Allison is brought into the world squalling, waving her fists at her mother. Chris carries her and peeks at her wrist. No words yet. He smiles down at Allison. She's perfect, perfect, and nothing will come to harm her, if he has anything to say about it. His little girl.
When her words show up a few months later, Victoria despairs.
“It’s not the way of the Argents,” she snaps. "This means her soulmate is a werewolf." Chris carries his daughter and puts the magnifying glass down, rocking her to sleep. Victoria sits stiffly on the couch, staring into space. Chris sits beside her, and Victoria takes Allison wordlessly. There is a silence, and Allison grabs Victoria’s finger and squeezes it with a chubby little hand.
“I will protect you,” Victoria says fiercely to her daughter. “You will never come to harm.” Allison smiles gummily at the both of them, and Chris puts his arms around his family.
Stiles comes out with the drawing on his arm. The nurse turns his wrist over gently and smiles at the colour, passing him back to his mother. Even against the fresh pink skin, the symbol is unmistakeable. An eye with a pale, electric blue iris. It reminds her of the Turkish Nazar charm amulet, all-seeing and meant to ward off the Evil Eye. Stiles snuffles and his mother lets go of his wrist, holding him closer.
For some reason, that night, she fears dying before her son can meet his soul mate. The thought has never crossed her mind previously, and she tells her husband so. He sits with her in the dark hospital ward, and their hands clasp.
“John,” she whispers. “Tell me he’ll be alright.”
“He’ll be alright,” Deputy Stilinski says fervently to his wife, kissing her forehead. “Genim will be alright.”
“The words on your hands, children, are meant for no one but your soul mate. If you can’t see the person in your wrist, then let them go, for they are not meant for you.” The teacher is patient with them, as she is with all eight-year olds. They shout and jostle and pull at each other's hair, but never touch the wrist. They wear simple bands or watches to hide the words- but those like Scott go without because of their hard-headedness.
“I want to find her,” Scott says firmly. “I’m not going to wear a watch or a band. I want to find her.” He holds his arm up steadily, the words neat and feminine against the pale skin of his wrist. The words ‘daughter of silver’ stand out darkly, and Stiles raises his arm too, to show the eye. They link hands and Scott looks around hopefully for more supporters. Stiles grabs Danny’s hand and raises it, and Danny squeezes Jackson’s arm for help. Jackson snatches his hand away.
“No!” Jackson snaps impatiently. “It’s dumb.” And he moves a seat over, away from the three of them as he rubs his wrist protectively. The teacher sighs and tells them to sit down so that they can start on math, but Stiles and Scott continue holding hands.
Later that day, Scott and Stiles shyly exchange stories of what they hope their soulmate looks like, and solemnly cement the bond of friendship over shared tater tots.