The red string had always been there.
While everything else changed, that was the only constant in his life. It was something only he could see, a thick string that nothing could sever firmly attached to his little finger. Oh, he'd tried, several times, to get rid of it; he knew perfectly well what it meant, and though maybe once he thought that having someone who might love him was a relief, something to hope for, he hated it now. He'd lost his faith in humanity. Even if his soulmate was out there somewhere, at the end of the long string that went off into the distance for miles and miles and miles, he was sure they were just like them.
Just like every abuser that had taken advantage of him during his years in the foster system.
Just like Drake Spear.
He was four when one of the older kids at the foster home started blabbing about her connection with her soulmate. She wanted to meet them someday, when she was old enough; she would follow the string until she found them. At the time he hadn't put much thought into it, he was too little to understand, but two years later his new foster sister – she was 20 - had come home with a boy more or less her age saying he was her soulmate.
And that is when he started wondering who his might be: were they like him, problematic and orphan? How did the connection work? What made a person someone's soulmate? Was it a boy or a girl?
So he asked his sister if she knew. She said she wasn't sure, but that her boyfriend was everything she'd ever hoped for and that was all that mattered.
When the abuse started one year later he began to picture his other half as a caring and strong person that would take him under his wing, that would never use him for personal pleasure like that. He longed for a safe place, imagining it at the end of the red line. And then the hope became so strong he started wishing they'd find him.
Foster home after foster home, abuse after abuse, they never came. He knew he was being stupid, maybe his soulmate couldn't see the string: not everyone was able to, it was something that only a bunch of people could do. But a part of his mind said that they never came because they too were disgusted by him, or worse, they thought he wasn't worth the effort. He was an orphan that couldn't stay in a foster family for even a year, that “caused all kinds of problems to the ones that wanted to help him”, a weight and nothing more.
Yeah. He was exactly that. Nothing.
So why would his soulmate want him?
At age thirteen, Drake Spear came to crush his last hope of having a family. He was a wreck by then, the ghost of a once cheerful and carefree boy who'd been hit by reality way too much for someone his age. He wished he could just cut that freaking connection, because he was now sure that nothing good would come of it. He wanted to disappear, and at the same time to clung to the life he had with the Spears because there was no way he would go back into the system.
But then officer Higgins told him he had a brother, a twin even, and he suddendly knew Drake might want to have him too. He liked twins, they were fun, he'd said. He couldn't do that to his own real family: if he could protect something in his life, for once, he would.
So he did what he did best: he made trouble. He set a police car on fire and made sure to get caught. They said he had to go to juvie and for a while, two years maybe, he stayed there. He could finally forget about the red string because there it didn't matter, and played exy because that was the only thing that allowed him to vent his anger even if he didn't care about the sport at all.
The third year, his biological uncle convinced his mother to take him. He chose that time to make his move: he broke out of the building, which he'd thoroughly studied knowing that moment would come, and ran. It wasn't like him to run, to turn his back to problems and avoid them, but if that would keep his brother safe he would do it. Either way, he was so sick of families, and he had no intention of living with a mother that had abandoned him at his birth.
He ran, he took the bus and went out of the state. He realised too late that he was, subconsciously, following the red string.