Ever since the moment you're born, all you do is wait for the day you turn eighteen. Eighteen is the magic number because it's the day you get to see who you're tethered to. Ever since he was little Stiles had always wanted to see his own string, to follow it until he couldn't anymore...until it led to his one true love. When you turned 18 you could see the red string that connected your soul to the soul of the person that is perfect for you turn purple. Stiles remembered his mother lazily plucking her own string whenever his father was away at work, and every time she touched it with her fingertips it burst a bright purple. It was only for a millisecond—if you blinked, you wouldn't be able to see it—but Stiles would watch, mesmerized, as he was able to see the string that tethered his mother to his father.
Can I Exist, Missio
It was beautiful.
Everyone dreamed of meeting their soulmate. They always wondered if they already had, or if they never would. Some people were born with frayed black strings that trailed sadly behind them—signaling the death of a soulmate—but many times they would wake up to find their string growing stronger and brighter until it was finally red again, their souls ready for a new love to begin. While that restringing happened to most, to some—like his father—they had found their one and only ultimate soulmate and their strings would remain black and frayed forever until they were once again reunited with their soulmate in death.
It was sad and beautiful.
When Stiles woke up on the day before he turned eighteen, he was bursting with excitement. One day. 24 hours. In 24 hours he would follow his string on a journey that led to his soulmate. Students were allowed to take a 3-day vacation to find their soulmates. These days were excused absences and had no effect on their permanent records. Every school was required to offer that by law, and everyone took advantage of it: even if their soulmate was only a few hundred miles away.
Stiles got ready for school in an empty house since his dad was working, grabbed a banana for breakfast, and grabbed his keys before making his way to his jeep. "Tomorrow, Roscoe. Tomorrow we're going on an adventure." He said softly to the jeep, twisting the keys in the ignition. She roared to life loudly and he made his way to school. Stiles hoped that they would be able to take an adventure. He didn't want his soulmate to be in his own backyard, or even in his own state. He definitely prayed they were in America, but overseas or inter-country soulmates made up about 15% of soulbonds. With his luck, his soulmate would be in India or some shit. He'd totally still love them, though. And he'd totally learn Indian for them. Totally.
When Stiles pulled up to the school he saw Scott in their usual parking space, waiting for him like the good friend he was. Stiles pulled in, jumped out, and slapped hands with his best bro.
"Tomorrow, man!" Scott said excitedly, shouldering his own book bag as they made their way to the school building.
"Tomorrow," Stiles shook his head, unbelieving.
Scott himself was a few months older than Stiles, so he had already gone on his journey of self-discovery and soulbond-finding. Back during sophomore year he had dated a girl in their grade—Allison. Dating wasn't the hugest thing, especially since most people wanted to wait for their soulmate, but the two decided the pull between them was undeniably strong. They dated until junior year when she had turned eighteen and found out that her string led to someone else: Isaac Lahey. Isaac had yet to turn eighteen, but unreciprocated soulbonds were very rare, and Isaac was already tethered to Allison. Scott and her had broken up, and that was that.
That is, until Scott got his soulstring. The unique thing about Scott, though, was that he not only had one soulstring, but two. One led to the string that tethered Allison to Isaac, and one led to a girl by the name of Kira Yukimura, who lived 8 hours away in Nevada. Kira's led back to Scott, and now the four teens were anxiously awaiting Isaac to turn 18 in a month so they could find out who he was tethered to.
Things like that happened, but not very often. It usually pointed to a strong bond made between non-soulmates, but since their previous connection was so strong, they forged another soulstring. Only Isaac's string appearance would tell the four of them if their bond was polyamorous or just a result of Scott and Allison's previous relationship.
Needless to say, Stiles was insanely jealous of his friends' "problem." He wanted his soulstring to appear so badly, he needed to be able to see the person he was tethered to forever.
The cool thing about soulstrings was that they didn't give a shit what gender you were. Back before soulstrings were ever followed or accepted in society, being gay, polyamorous, or anything along those lines made you a sort of outcast to society. But the strings didn't lie, and if your male soul was tethered to another man, no one said anything. Because that was the person you were supposed to be with your entire life. That was your perfect match. Your soulmate. No one was supposed to give a shit.
He checked the wall clock as he and Scott made their way into the school. He had been born at 2am, so he only had 18 hours and 15 minutes left until his soulstring appeared. April 8th, he was coming for you. "Man I'm not going to be able to concentrate in class at all today." He told Scott.
"You'd better," a voice from behind told him. It was his recent friend, Lydia. Once he had lusted for her, wanted her with all of his being, but once he realized they weren't soulmates and that he wasn't actually in love, it was pretty easy for them to become great friends. She was also, consequently, his calculus and his AP chemistry partner. "We have a huge lab in AP Chem today. We can't get under an A minus."
Stiles rolled his eyes. "I promise I won't ruin your perfect 4.0."
"Actually on the weighted scale, I have a 4.8," she huffed, then peeled off to go to her first period. "See you in fourth!" She said over her shoulder, not even worried as she walked the crowded halls. She needn't have, because the crowd of kids literally parted for the goddess that was Lydia Martin.
"To have that kind of power," Stiles breathed after her.
"What, dude?" Scott asked, obviously not paying the slightest bit of attention.
Stiles shook his head. "Nothing, man."
The day crawled by, and by the time the bell rang for school to be let out Stiles still had 11 hours and 5 minutes to go until his string showed up.
Loom, Wedding Dress
Stiles and Scott were walking down the steps of the school and heading out to their cars as students filtered all around them, eager to get out of the crowded parking lot first. "Hey man, did you want to hang out at all tonight? You know, wait for your soulstring to show up?" Scott waggled his eyebrows excitedly. "Video game marathon with popcorn for dinner and HoHo's for dessert?"
Stiles shook his head. "As appetizing as that sounds, I think I'm going to actually try and sleep tonight."
Scott shrugged. "Suit yourself. Good luck, bro. Call me if you need anything." He clapped his best friend on the back, and with that Scott left to catch up with Isaac while Stiles got into his jeep.
Instead of going straight home, Stiles found himself to be restless. He hadn't slept well the night before due to anticipation, and he hoped that the upcoming night wouldn't be similar. He drove to the most remote back roads he knew, pleased that winter was finally shaken off and spring was making all of the trees round and generous with leaves. The roads were cracked and pale, with faded lines and rusted speed limit signs, but Stiles hummed to the loud motor of his jeep, getting lost in the possibilities of the next day.
Would his soulmate be so far away that he spent days following his string? Would they be right in his backyard? Were they already 18 but just too poor to travel, and waiting for the day Stiles turned 18 so he could bring himself to them instead? Were they young? Very young? Almost 18 as well? Would they hate him? Immediately like him? Think he was annoying? Did they even buy into soulmates? Did they already have a significant other? Stiles didn't want to think about how broken his heart would be if they rejected the soulbond, so he didn't. Instead he focused on wondering what they would look like, what their heartbeat would sound like, how their hand would feel when it was holding his own.
He was told that having a soulmate was the most spectacular feeling on earth, and he was more than ready to reap the benefits.
Despite the fact that it was probably the most important night of his life, his father had to work. Stiles loved his dad and knew that his work was incredibly important, but he also would have liked to hear more stories about his parents when they first met and their soulbond was fresh and new. His dad had turned 18 when his mom was 16, and he had immediately followed where his string led. He found himself in Poland, where Claudia was visiting her grandparents during her summer break. They had run into each other's arms like they had been doing it forever, and Noah's eyes would shine every time he described the way her hand felt when it brushed his cheek.
Stiles went to bed early that night after doing his homework. Homework was the last thing on his mind, but he knew that he wouldn't be doing it in the upcoming three days (plus the weekend right after!), and he would already have work piled up from his soulmate days. He laid in bed a long time, staring up at his ceiling fan and anticipating the next day as his eyes forced themselves shut and sleep fell heavy on his weightless body.
The morning came so soon, Stiles thought the night hadn't even ended. It was barely 5am, and he excitedly ripped off his sheets. He flipped his light on and looked delightedly at his heart. Protruding from his chest, right over his magnificent blood-pumping organ, was a bright red string. It almost seemed to glow with an undiscovered magic. It was easy to get caught staring at it, touching it delicately, plucking it as one would guitar string. He was a lucky one.
Running Home to You, Grant Gustin
Stiles immediately dressed, mesmerized by how his clothes passed through the string as if it was a mirage, yet his hands held it, as real as real can be. He threw on a hoodie, pulled his shoes onto his feet, and grabbed his keys off the key ring. A full tank of gas and everywhere to go. As he ran outside, he stopped cold. When he was in the house, his string had seemed like it was just going straight out from his chest, into the unknown. Now that he was outside, however, he saw that his string rose up into the air, following a slightly diagonal path, but mostly straight up.
"What the...." Stiles plucked his string again, and watched the ripple all the way up into the clouds until it disappeared. A thought made its way to his head: was his soulmate dead? He immediately shot it down because it was stupid. If his soulmate were dead, his string would be black. Was his soulmate in a skyscraper? A helicopter? An airplane? Stiles pulled out his phone and opened up a compass app. According to it, his string was angled southeast, and it didn't look like there was an end. Stiles ran back into his house, up to his room, and dove for a shoebox under his bed. He pulled the box out and removed a small safe from it. He twisted in the combination and pulled out his goods: two universal plane tickets and a wad of cash that had been building up since he was born.
The plane tickets were issued to anyone who wanted them when they turned sixteen, as long as they had the money. The tickets were discounted only on their sixteenth birthday, and could only be used for soulmate purposes. Stiles was a tiny bit thrilled that he would have a chance to use them. They would get him two stops to his destination, and then a nonstop flight straight home. They were created and used just for soulmate situations.
Stiles got into his jeep and sped towards the nearest airport.
He decided that he would take the journey in leaps to make sure he didn't fly over his soulmate, and so Stiles bought a ticket to New Mexico first. The whole plane ride he let his leg jiggle uncontrollably as his fingers lightly touched his string obsessively. It never straightened out, just kept leading east. From New Mexico he went to Texas, from Texas to Alabama, and from Alabama to Florida. When his plane landed at the Melbourne National Airport, he saw that his string was almost completely straight up into the air, just slightly angled east. Stiles ended up taking a designated soulmate shuttle all the way up to Titusville, at the edge of Florida, and then took A Max Brewer Memorial Parkway to Kennedy Space Center.
Space Oddity, David Bowie
It's Not, Aimee Mann
As he walked to the front steps, he saw that his string shot straight up into the air. And right here? That could only mean one thing...
"Hello!" A perky young woman greeted Stiles as he walked towards the front desk. "Are you here for a tour?"
Stiles swallowed. "No, uh, I'm here because, actually, uh..." He fiddled with the cuffs of his shirt. "Is there currently a space mission underway?" He blurted.
She looked a little startled. "Well, yes. But it's a little classified, sir. Can I ask how you know that there is one?"
Stiles took a moment. "I think...I think one of the people on that space mission is my soulmate." He brought his hand to his string and plucked it for proof, and the woman's eyes widened as she briefly saw the vibrating red string.
"Oh my," she said. "Oh my. Could I have your name? Let me call someone." Stiles told her, then watched as she turned away and dialed someone on the phone. It took her about thirty seconds before she turned back to him. "Someone is on their way to come and get you. Just wait here a moment."
Stiles nodded, biting his lip. He backed into a chair by the desk and sat heavily. He couldn't have been there for five minutes before a nicely dressed young man walked into the room from behind the desk. "Mr. Stilinski? Please, come with me."
Stiles stood and followed him back behind the desk and into another hallway. "I'm Mason Hewitt. Usually I'm an aerospace engineer, but today I think I'm a soulstring seeker." Stiles laughed nervously at Mason's joke. Soulstring seekers were professionals hired to find a soulmate for someone. They provided travel accommodations and planned the trip for someone looking to find their soulmate, so they didn't have to do any work except shell out money. Stiles would rather never find his soulmate than hire one of those guys.
"So uh, we've got four people up there, and as it so happens two of them are soulmates to each other. The third is the senior astronaut. He already had a soulmate." Mason said as he led Stiles to a larger, more open room. It had a huge conference table in the middle and over ten chairs pulled up to it. "So that means your soulmate is Derek Hale, the mechanical engineer and medic on the mission. Someone will be in with a basic case file and more information than I'm allowed to give. I wish you luck, Mr. Stilinski."
"Wait! When will someone be in?" But Mason had already left the room.
Stiles sat at one of the chairs for a few minutes before pulling out his phone. It was completely dead, and he sighed in frustration. He hadn't had time to charge the damn thing and his charger was somewhere at a prepaid soulmate motel, where he had his small bit of luggage shipped when he landed. He wanted nothing more than to call his dad.
Another man walked in, this one dressed even better in a complete black suit and tie. "Hello, Stiles. My name is Peter Hale, and I am part of the team for the Omega 3 mission."
"Omega...three?" Stiles asked.
"Yes. Our team was sent into space a month ago, and have been on the return trip for a total of three days. They should be back extremely soon, which is lucky on your part." The man's ice blue eyes regarded him. "I would say it was an extreme coincidence, but what with this soulmate thing, it is most likely fate. Their estimated land time is 1500 hours tomorrow, we have a bed here waiting for you, along with any accommodations you may need. Did you already check into a hotel?"
Stiles stared at him for a minute before realizing that the guy had actually asked him a question "Uh, yes! I have one."
"Well just give my assistant their contact info and we will get your items mailed here. Now, I believe you were promised a case file on my nephew?"
"Yes, Derek Hale, the only eligible person currently on that spaceship. You were promised a case file?" Stiles nodded quickly. "Well then we will provide you with one as soon as possible." Then the man's demeanor changed a little, as if he was no longer doing business, but instead pleasure. "Now, I'd like to learn a little more about the boy who completes my little nephew." He sat down, and immediately Stiles wanted to run as far away from this creeper as possible. Unfortunately, it was kind of impossible at the moment. You don't just run from a man in a suit who was giving you information on your soulmate. "Go on. Tell me about yourself."
Stiles fiddled with his hands on top of the desk before answering. "I um, I'm from Beacon Hills, a small town in northern California. I attend the high school there as a senior. I have a 4.0 GPA, second only to one, and uh, my dad is the Sheriff. I've been looking for my soulmate for two days now."
The man scrutinized him, seemingly liking the way he squirmed. "How about—"
"Peter!" Someone burst into the room, and Stiles almost cried with relief. It was a woman, mid-thirties or so, with dark brown hair and piercing eyes. "Leave him alone. They need you on deck anyways."
Peter stood. "Laura," he whined.
"Go." She pointed him towards the door in which she had just entered from, and he slunk out...but not before sending a wink Stiles's way. Stiles just wanted to bleach his brain for a few seconds. "I'm sorry about him. He can be a bit standoffish."
Standoffish. Yeah, Stiles could think of a few better adjectives to describe the creepiness that was Peter Hale.
"I'm Laura Hale, and I'm sure you're interested in learning about my brother. This is his file," she set it on the table in front of him.
"Your brother? Is everyone here related?"
She laughed, head thrown back and neck exposed. "My grandparents began the Omega missions, we've been deeply invested in them for generations. Derek went through the extremely vigorous training to become an astronaut. Those of us who do not enjoy physical labor, well...we became communications liaisons." She winked at him and sat down across from him. "Now open the file."
Stiles did as she said, flipping the cream paper-clipped file to the middle. On the right was a bunch of papers clipped together, and on the left were a few sticky notes and a picture. The picture was from far away, of a man in a bright orange suit floating upside-down in an anti-gravity chamber. He was smiling goofily, but Stiles couldn't make out many of his features.
Laura saw him looking. "His actual file has his NASA picture with it, but his unofficial one has that picture. It was his last time I'm the chamber before takeoff." She gestured towards the right side of the file. "You're welcome to read all of that, but most of it is what I can tell you. Derek attended Columbia College in New York at the age of sixteen after graduating early from our high school back in Los Angeles. He majored in mechanical engineering, with a minor in biology, and ended with a masters at 20. He got some training and became a registered EMT. Now, for years he's been interested in the space program. Our grandparents, both well-known physicists, began a secret space program with the American Government to eventually be the first people to live on the moon and visit Mars. The Mars missions are still a few years away, but we've already begun cultivating the moon. My brother was on a trip to deliver supplies to its surface. It wasn't very long, only a month, but it took him years to become qualified to go on a space mission. He was handpicked by NASA." She looked extremely proud.
"But other than smart, my brother is also very reserved. He likes books and trees and has this weird thing for gardening. He's honestly such a nerd," she smiled at Stiles as if they were sharing a secret. He decided that he liked her immensely. "What about you, Stiles?"
"I uh, also like reading. I'm on my school's lacrosse team with my best friend, Scott. I'm planning on going to Quantico when I graduate. I was invited to one of their training programs so I can hunt criminals and all that jazz. And I plan on doing that," he warned.
Her smile softened. "I understand. He always wondered, you know. Wondered how different his life would have been if he stopped in the middle of his education and went across the country to find you." She shook her head. "But I'm glad he never did. Especially now that you're here today. If he had gone after you, you would have been, what? Twelve? He needed to succeed first. And it's wonderful that things have turned out. I know that would never ask you to forget your dreams of the FBI to be with him. I think you'll find that my brother is pretty compatible and easy to convince."
She stood. "If you would like, I will arrange for someone to take you to one of our complimentary rooms. We have dorms for our astronauts, and we have a few empty since paths Omega 3 crew won't be back until tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Stiles asked, gobsmacked. He knew that the creepy uncle had said 'extremely soon,' but tomorrow?
Man on the Moon, R.E.M.
"Yes. I suggest you get some sleep. My brother will be ecstatic to see you."
She gave him a hug and left, and almost immediately after she did Mason came back into the room. "I'm here to take you to Derek's bunk." Stiles followed him obediently down many hallways, outside for a brief moment, and then back through a maze of corridors. Mason finally let him go at a metal door. "Have a nice night," he said, and then left Stiles to fend for himself with no further instructions.
When he entered the room, he saw that all of his items were already on a bed. The room was a bit bigger than an average dorm room, and had three beds and two desks. Two of the beds were bunked, and one was perpendicular to them against the sister wall. His stuff was on the bottom bunk, and Stiles crawled into it. On the wall by the bed was some pictures. One was of a space ship launching, another was of Laura, a Laura-look alike, and an insanely hot guy with a dark beard. If that was Derek...whoa. Stiles hit the goddamn jackpot.
The picture wasn't the best quality, but Derek had wide shoulders, nice hair, and most importantly, a killer smile. Stiles bought that if this man smiled at him in person, he would explode. He sat on the bed in wonderment, watching as his string burst from his chest and up through the top bunk of the bed. He knew it was also carefully threaded through the ceiling, the ozone, and space. He wondered what it was like for Derek, to have spent all of these years with his string facing West. He wondered what it was like to spend months with your string pointed straight down instead of up. He wondered if Derek had quietly watched Stiles’s trip with his string: where it had started and ended. He wondered how Derek must have felt to see the physical connection between them but never been able to do anything about it: just hope that one day it wouldn’t be so far away.
He wondered how lonely that was.
Stiles realized that he absolutely loved this guy. He loved how smart he was, loved how much he obviously adored his sisters (they made up over 50% of all of his pictures), loved that he had lived in New York for awhile, loved that they were both Cali babies. He was completely, hopelessly in love with a man he had never met. Good thing they were destined for each other.
Derek came back from the main communications room with a huge smile on his face. Immediately he had Erica pounce him and Boyd was drawn from his book. That’s how odd he looked. “What’s got you all chipper?” Boyd asked carefully. “I know it can’t be the fact that we’re only a few hours from home. You hate Earth in comparison to the galaxy.”
“He’s finally come for me, Boyd,” Derek said dreamily.
“You finally made someone come? Did you guys have great phone sex or something?” Erica crinkled her nose, as if this wasn't interesting enough news.
Derek shook his head, his annoyance apparently dissipating the dreamlike state he had been in. “No, my soulmate. He’s at the space station on Earth, waiting for me. I knew it!”
Boyd stood up and clapped him on the shoulder. “Congrats, man!”
Derek accepted the back pats from his closest friends, smile widening by the minute. “Now I can’t wait to get home. I wonder what he’s like?”
Erica snorted. “Probably your opposite. You know, pleasant to be around, a great person, actually able to connect with other human beings.”
Derek hurled the nearest pencil holder at her, and watched in annoyance as she dodged it, laughed, and stuck her fingers in the shape of an “L” on her forehead. “I rest my case!” She said, before bounding around the corner.
At precisely 9am, Mason came to fetch him. “Are they here yet?” Stiles asked, already dressed and packed.
Mason smiled and shook his head. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself. I thought you might want to see it all.” His eyes were shining when he turned back around to lead them outside. “Tell me, Stiles, have you ever seen a space shuttle landing?”
There was nothing like it. Stiles had to stay a safe distance away and mostly watched on a huge screen that was provided for all those who were watching from the space center. He was surrounded by the rest of the uncleared NASA employees before Laura had grabbed his hand and pulled him to the front of the crowd, as close as he was allowed to be without having the clearance. But even though he was still so far back, he could feel the heat of the engines, hear the piercing sound of the craf. He couldn’t have imagined the heat he felt and the way the sun beat down on all of them in California as they waited for the shuttle to land. Stiles felt his heart rate involuntarily increase as he watched with anticipation and anxiety for them to arrive. He knew that if anything--just one thing--went wrong during the landing, he might be staring at a black, severed string for the rest of his life.
“They did it! Whoo-hoo!!!!” Laura yelled, picking up Stiles in her surprisingly strong arms and spinning him around before setting him down again. Her eyes were bright. “Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
Stiles could see Derek looking for him. He was wearing his white flightsuit, the American Flag on sewn onto his left arm. Over his heart on his chest was Hale printed in nice typeface and his flight patch immediately under. The flight patch was dark blue and black, with the words OMEGA III printed in white across the top. His eyes were uncontrollably searching the crowd as he bounced on his toes, searching. Despite that, he definitely wasn’t short. Stiles figured they were about the same height. He smiled distractedly as people patted him on the back, and he completely ignored reporters and press, who were now allowed to cover the mission now that the astronauts were back home.
Starman, David Bowie
Derek was even prettier in person. Stiles had dreamed of him for years, wondering what he could look like, but he completely passed everything Stiles could have wanted. He had a nicely trimmed (really hot) full beard, a full figure (Stiles didn’t even want to know what those arms could do to him...well, maybe he did), and pretty eyes. Finally, Derek got the good sense to look down at his string and follow the bright red soul indicator to Stiles. Stiles began to follow his as well, touching it as he did, so ready to meet his partner. He was so intent on looking at his string for a moment that he barely realized he was right across from Derek until their fingers brushed.
Stiles looked up, startled. As he stared into Derek’s pretty eyes (green and blue and caramel all at the same time), he was struck with a sudden fear that Derek might not find him as attractive as he found Derek. He was a scrawny 18-year-old while Derek was a freaking astronaut. He had been up into space. Stiles was nothing compared to him. They both opened their mouths to speak.
They both blushed and stammered, Derek rubbing the back of his head bashfully. “You first,” Stiles blurted before they could do it again.
“I’m sorry for never coming for you.” Derek said in a rush, messing with the sleeves of his suit. “I was just going so fast, and my life was getting shot through a cannon. I--”
“I get it.” Stiles smiled. “And I’m glad you didn’t. Derek, I was twelve. I wouldn’t have been able to return any affections or even understand what I was getting into. It’s a good thing you made that call for yourself. I’d never ask you to give up your success because you got me as a soulmate.”
Derek smiled. “So, I guess a belated birthday wish is in order?”
“Nah, I’d rather have a birthday kiss.” He said, then immediately blushed. Did he actually just ask Derek to kiss him!?
“That can be arranged,” Derek smiled, then carefully took Stiles into his arms. Stiles warmed into them, feeling as if he had always belonged there. He ran his hand over the rough patches sewn into Derek’s suit. Derek very gently took ahold of his chin and pressed their lips together. Immediately, Stiles felt his heart vibrating, and the string between them turned a bright purple.
“New love,” Stiles said in wonderment. He looked up at Derek, who was still cradling him. “I’m so glad to finally be here.”
Derek smiled back at him. “It only took me a trip around the moon to get to you.”