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1.

When Stanisław is born, the doctor assures his mother that the black smear on her newborn's arm is a just a bruise, that the arm was squeezed a bit tight as he was being born. It's not uncommon, really. Some babies bruise even more at birth, and it might cause a touch of jaundice but it's doubtful to be a problem.

There are no other marks on him and he doesn't develop the expected jaundice, either.

But the bruise doesn't go away.


The mark gets darker over the years. Less blurry. When Stanisław is five and in kindergarten, his teacher scolds him when she sees it. He looks at his right arm and tries to see what she sees — not a bruise he's had all his life, but a smeared scribble, as if he wrote something on his skin with a marker and then tried to rub it off again.

He tells his mom about it when he gets home, and they both spend some time looking at his arm.

"It didn't look like this before," she tells him, but even Stanisław can tell she's unsure.

His dad takes a look and asks, "Does it hurt?"

Stanisław shakes his head and tells him it itches sometimes, but that's all.

His mom smiles faintly and his dad tousles his hair. They don't discuss it again that year, but Stanisław spends a lot of time after that just staring or touching his mark (he's decided it's a birthmark, because that sounds cool to him). He grows fond of it. It's his. No one else has a blurry scribble on their arm that they didn't put there themselves.

Sometimes he thinks it's getting less smeared and more like actual words. But of course that's impossible.

Right?


Claudia Stilinski gets sick.

Well, at first she just starts acting a little odder than usual, but it's like the bruise/smear/birthmark. Easily brushed off in the beginning as nothing out of the ordinary.

Stanisław goes to school and everything seems normal at first. His mother is more forgetful than she used to be, but she tells him it's just like that as people get older. It's nothing. Everyone forgets where they left their keys or the right word to describe something or even occasionally that they were supposed to pick up their son after soccer practice.

He does know she went to the doctor and had some tests, but both she and his dad reassure him about this. It's just like his own yearly checkups. Sometimes adults have to do that, too.

He isn't completely oblivious, but he trusts his parents. Something is weird with his mom but they'd tell him if it was serious. So he doesn't worry.

Much.


It's winter and he's been wearing long sleeves, so no one sees it but him. He's been preoccupied with the holidays and relatives and gifts from 'Santa'.

He hasn't touched or stared at his mark much lately. It's just there, like it's always been, like his nose and elbows. Over the years he's gotten freckles that sometimes grow darker and wider to look like his mom's moles (or beauty marks, as his grandmother calls them). They're more visible than the mark on his inner arm, even, but he hasn't been paying attention to those, either.

But he sees it, one day, and it's like a bolt of lightning. A message from the universe. You must be Stiles. His mother can't even pronounce his name anymore, but she can say this.

She does, grateful, when he announces he's changing his name. He's 8 years old and he's tired of being saddled with Stanisław. No one else in school has a name anything like his.

(Not that they have a name like Stiles, either, but at least it's pronounceable.)

It was good advice.

He doesn't tell anyone about the bruise that turned into a smudge that turned into a scribble that turned into actual words on his skin. It feels too personal, anyway.

(Years later, the supernatural is a thing and suddenly the inexplicable words on his arm aren't the weirdest thing he's ever heard of.)


2.

Peter doesn't get his words until he's 15, and they appear all at once. He knows plenty of people whose words weren't clear for years as they waited, but one day Peter wakes up, takes a shower, and sees them scrawled across his arm. What do you know about this?

It makes him think, about a lot of things. First things first: his soulmate was only just born. That's a pretty wide gap between their ages. But he also believes in every romantic notion of soulmates, as much as it would make for some teasing at school, and he's sure his soulmate is the only perfect person for him. It doesn't matter if he's a teenager and his soulmate is a squalling newborn.

But something that does matter is that he needs to learn more. The words on his arm are a demand, he thinks, not just a question. His soulmate is inquisitive and bold, and he needs to match them and give them what they need.

He's been kind of a slacker up until now. He learns secrets, listens at doors, and likes to know everything about the other people around him. But he doesn't know about…

Well, there are tons of things he doesn't know about, and there's no way of knowing what his soulmate is asking about in his words. So Peter's going to put in some research time. Study time. Reading time. Learning and knowing time. Because he'll be damned if the first question out of his soulmate's mouth has no answer and the words on their skin are some dumb fumbling stuttering about how he'll have to look something up or that he just flat out doesn't know.

(There's of course the possibility that Peter's words are first, but that doesn't make sense, really.)

Peter wants the words on his soulmate's skin to be so clever and perfect that his soulmate falls in love with him before they even meet.


3.

Stiles wakes up surrounded by ghosts. He knows them only because he's seen their pictures before, and because the fact that the Hales all died in that fire meant that others came into the territory, trying to claim the area and the vault they left behind for themselves. Deaton, the Hales' former emissary and Stiles's best friend's boss, hadn't taken kindly to the various attempts to take over, and somehow Stiles and Scott got caught up in the supernatural along the way.

Scott didn't care much for what he learned. He was happy to stay at his job and learn more mundane things form Deaton. Stiles had been intrigued. Called, almost. Once Deaton saw Stiles's fascination with magic and the supernatural was more than a passing interest, he agreed to teach Stiles some of what he knew.

Stiles really shouldn't have jumped ahead and tried to do anything complex on his own. As smart as he is, as much as he seems to have an affinity with this sort of thing, he's only seventeen, and shouldn't be trying to…

Well. Obviously something went wrong. For a moment he actually thinks he managed to raise the dead.

"Um, hi?" Stiles says. "You guys know what the fuck I just did? Because I don't."

Talia Hale nods to one of the others (Stiles doesn't remember all of their names, and Deaton doesn't talk about them very often) and says, "Call Alan."

Stiles lets himself breathe again. Thanks every deity he can think of at the moment. Deaton can fix whatever he messed up. That's usually how it works out anyway.


Deaton works out pretty quickly that Stiles is — for seriously, no shit — from another world. Another dimension. And the Hales find out almost immediately because the good doc didn't put up any kind of privacy ward and the Hales have amazing werewolf hearing.

Stiles hasn't met all the Hales yet. Talia's daughter and brother were out shopping when Stiles landed in their midst, but apparently they're being kept up on all the latest by Talia's youngest son, Derek.

So it's not a surprise when Peter Hale walks in and already knows what's happening. The surprise is what he says.

"You must be Stiles," the man says, walking toward him and holding out a hand to shake.

The words jolt through Stiles. It's a literal jolt. Stiles can actually feel those words heat on his arm when they're said. He's confused and freaked out and so he barely realizes what he's doing when he's shoving his shirtsleeve up to his elbow and holding his arm out to Peter.

"What do you know about this?," Stiles asks… demands.

And Peter looks like he's just been jolted, too. He holds out his own arm, baring the skin there. There are words on his skin just like on Stiles's, except when Stiles actually looks, he can see that they're in his handwriting. His words, the ones he just said, are scrawled down Peter Hale's arm like…

Like Stiles had put them there himself. He wonders if the words on his own skin are in Peter's handwriting. He wonders what the hell it means.

His eyes lock with Peter's and he can't look away.


4.

Stiles, the traveler from another dimension, is Peter's soulmate. And the thing he swore he wouldn't do, going speechless and dumbfounded, is exactly what he's doing. Well. That won't do at all.

"You have my words and I have yours," Peter says, and his voice is shakier than he'd like.

Stiles shakes his head, smelling of confusion and a brewing summer storm. "I don't know what that means."

He doesn't know? "You don't have soulmarks where you're from?" Talia asks, and her emissary makes a contemplative noise.

Stiles looks at Deaton like he'd have the answers, and Peter hates that he's not looking at him anymore. He wants, craves the attention. Needs it back on him. He almost hates himself for having such a childish thought, but forgives himself a moment later. Soulmate. The regular rules can't possibly apply.

Before Deaton can answer him, Peter moves closer and begins to explain. "Almost everyone is gifted with a soulmate. Sometimes more than one, sometimes multiple marks will appear throughout a person's life. Mine came suddenly when I was fifteen, so I assume that's when you were born. Other people can get them much earlier, and if your soulmate is alive when you're born, like I was, your mark would have been blurry until it became legible several years later."

Stiles nods and looks at where Peter's words are written on his arm. He traces over the letters, his fingertips looking invitingly soft. Peter thinks he can feel it, almost. Like Stiles is touching him.

"The words are the first words your soulmate will ever speak to you. It's how we recognize who they are. How I know you're my perfect match," Peter says, his voice going a little too gooey on the last sentence. He clears his throat, embarrassed. "It's… amazing, really. That you came from another dimension, where soulmarks aren't the norm like they are here, and yet you had one. Had mine. What did you think it was?"

Stiles reddens but doesn't answer. "I think I'll save that for another time," he mutters.

"It's truly fascinating that you were given a soulmark even though you were born in a different dimension with, I suspect, other ways of finding partners," Deaton says. "I think this proves Fate has more to do with the matching than science, as some have put forth as an explanation."

"I've never put that much stock in fate, really," Stiles says, and looks back at Peter. His eyes, Peter notices, are brown. Peter's never seen a brown so beautiful. He's never even thought brown eyes were that attractive, really. No more than any other color. But Stiles's…

Peter is getting a little annoyed with his mind. Or is it his heart causing this problem? He's never been one to wax poetic, even silently. But maybe it comes with the soulmate.

He's awed by Stiles, just being in his company. He can't wait to get to know him.


5.

The Peter Hale in Stiles's world died in the fire. Stiles doesn't know if he would have liked him. He doesn't know if they would have gotten along.

The Peter Hale in this dimension, the one Stiles is learning to call home, is his soulmate.

It takes some time to get used to the idea of soulmates existing. Other things are easy enough to roll with — like becoming a member of the Hale pack overnight and becoming fast and close friends with Cora Hale, who is a badass with exceptional snark — but soulmates and Fate (capital F and all) are harder to take in.

But Peter is… well, just being close to him makes Stiles feel something incredible, and while Stiles would understand it if it was a societal thing Peter had, knowing about soulmates and looking toward finding them your whole life… well, it's different for him, isn't it? Except it's not really. Because every time Peter's there in the same room as him, Stiles feels a little happier.

A little more complete.

Jumping into a serious relationship isn't something Stiles is willing to do, though. The idea of it is just weird to him, and though everyone else seems to be waiting for them to announce their engagement or something, Peter's understanding. Patient.

He doesn't even ask for a kiss until Stiles is blatantly hinting with his smoothest moves that he's ready.

Well, he thought he was ready. Apparently the first time you kiss your soulmate, there's some metaphysical orgasm or something like that — it's the only way Stiles can put it into words, to be honest.

Emotional, spiritual climax. That no one thought to warn him about. Thanks, everybody.

(He doesn't mind not knowing. He just wishes he hadn't passed out and embarrassed himself afterward.)

Peter thinks it's endearing. Really, the man has a wicked sense of humor and a cutting (cunning) tongue, intelligence that more than matches Stiles's own, but he's also the biggest romantic Stiles has ever met.

He likes it. Especially when all of that previously hidden romantic sensibility is directed his way. And Peter doesn't mind that Stiles isn't that much of a romantic, either. That he's sort of an asshole. That he's got some major issues over having left one dimension suddenly, his family and friends back there being gone from him for good. Peter doesn't just mind, doesn't just put up with it all. He revels in everything Stiles brings to the relationship, the good and the bad.

And he'd sort of have to, Stiles realizes. Because they are each other's perfect match.

Here and now, and ever after, that's just how it works.