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i know you've suffered (i don't want you to hide)

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Wolfgang cherishes each and every memory he has of his mother, and perhaps it’s because he almost has none of them, or perhaps it’s because absence really does make the heart grow fonder, but with each piece of information he painstakingly recalls about the woman who raised him until he was five, she seems even more extraordinary.

(it might also have to do that no matter what his mother might have done or might have been, Wolfgang knows she could never have been worse than his father and his side of the family are)

But his favorite memory goes like this:

he’s on his knees on the living room’s carpet, in a position that would be highly uncomfortable to anyone but a kid, and he’s playing with crayons the way all children do at that age.

he draws his family and the colors bleed out of the paper and onto the carpet, onto his clothes and his hands and his face too, and his mother is there, by his side, her laugh like silver bells caught in a soft summer wind to his ears, trying to get him to clean himself up.

that’s when he asks, showing her his hands.

“what are those, Mutti?” He asks, and his mother stares at his extended hands, nonplussed, for several seconds until she grins.

she shows him her hands too, and twists something around her right index finger, tugs at the reddish cord Wolfgang can see is there until he feels it reverberate to his own fingers.

“This,” his mother explains, “means that I love you very much. Everyone has them, but you can only see the ones they have that link to yours.”

she tells him the story of the red strings and how they always, always lead you to the people you’re supposed to find, and Wolfgang drinks her very word.

(“Let’s keep this a secret from your father though,” she proposes at the end of the memory with a wink, and Wolfgang only understands years later that it’s because while the threads might lead you to the right people for you, people are also still able to choose someone else to spend their lives with, and they can choose wrong.)

when she asks, he tells her that he has ten strings hanging off his fingers – one for each finger – and his mother proudly announces that he’s going to do great things one day.

he believes her then, and it hurts even more when year later, he finds how wrong she was.

This memory stays golden in his mind however, and it’s almost enough some days to make him believe he’s worth something.


Two years after that, his mother is gone and all his father will say is the he’ll never see her again, that the woman ran away and abandoned them.

Wolfgang knows the truth though, because the pretty ribbon he and his mother had used to send secret messages at all times of day has been cut off, and it’s now hanging aimlessly around his left thumb.

He laughs until he cries that night because he knows what all of this means – the only thing it can mean – and then he spends the next few years trying to cut off all ties with his father, including the dark red thread hooked around his other thumb.

(he thinks it should hurt when the threads break, but it doesn’t. Instead all he’s left with are an aching heart and dreams of what should – what could – have been. Somehow, that feels worse than he thinks a thread breaking would.)


The thread he shares with Felix is so light it’s almost pink, and Felix tells him it’s a sign of deep friendship.

“No offense mate, but you’re so not my type,” the other boy laughs once they’re done with the introductions and have started plotting a daring escape from detention.

Wolfgang laughs too, but that’s how he learns that the strings’ colors always mean something different.

The one that ties him to his father – and shouldn’t it be warning enough that the man can’t seem to see it? – is the only one of its color, and it makes Wolfgang dizzy with relief.

Of the seven others, six are of the same rich deep red, the one what few accurate books he finds tell him means family, and the last one is the color of blood.

It’s tied to his pinky, and the books tell him that whoever’s at the other end is his soulmate.

Wolfgang shuts the books after that, and tries to forget about everything he’s learned about the threads.

A soulmate? Him? As if Fate would be cruel enough to tie someone else to a guy like him.

(still, when he knows that no one’s watching, he caresses the thread and imagines that someone at the other end of it feels it – feels him – and does the same. It’s not like it has to mean anything, as long as he makes sure to never meet them, as long as he can never ruin them.)

(oh, but how he wants to see them, even just the once)

Chapter Text

When Riley tells her parents that she has more threads looped around her fingers than she actually has fingers, they don't really know what to say.

Though no one can see how many threads other people have since one can only witness the ones that links them to their partners, everyone knows it's highly uncommon for anyone to have more than a couple outside their immediate family.

Maybe that's why they don't really believe her at first, not until she can describe precisely all the different shades of red she can see vanish into the horizon, and the way the thin strings just seem to feel sometimes.

They do after that though, and then they celebrate. Riley's father looks so proud Riley remembers Sven telling him laughingly that he'd burst at the seams if he wasn’t careful and didn't at least pretend to keep it under control, and later Riley herself asking her mother if it was possible to burst from too much pride.

Her mother had denied it and laughed, and to this day, that party was still one of Riley’s favorite memories.

The threads has all looked so vibrant then, and her favorite thing about them had been – still is sometimes, when she can forget all the hurt that also comes with those memories – the way they caught the sunlight in the early morning.

They almost looked alive that way, and sometimes, when her mother or her father sat next to her, they listened and Riley let herself be fooled into thinking that maybe she could hear the heartbeats at the other ends of those lines.

(and then her mother dies and the thread that links them, the one that had seemed so indestructible just crumbles before her eyes until nothing but a faded red loop remains around her index finger, and Riley screams because this is unfair and it wasn’t supposed to happen.

and then she hears a voice in a cave and a creature that shouldn’t exist tells her that she’s cursed, and maybe it shouldn’t make sense, but the only other thread she’s identified is the one she shares with her father, and it echoes endlessly with painhurtguiltgrief, but nothing else does actually make sense anymore, and so Riley believes it.)


Magnus’ thread is the exact shade of red of the roses he brings to their first date.

He tells her that he spent days trying to find the right color and that he must have gone to all the florists in Iceland, and Riley falls just a little bit more in love with him because of that.

She’s never been happier than when she’s with him, but she still can’t stop looking over her shoulder.

‘You’re cursed,’ says the echo of a memory, and Riley thinks ‘Please let it be wrong’.

For a time it even seems like it is – she gets married and she’s pregnant, she has her own family and she’s even going to be a mother, what could be better than this? – and of course that’s when it all goes wrong.

There’s a blizzard and their car goes off the road, and Magnus is deaddeaddead (she knows because his thread faded the same way her mother’s did all those years ago), but she can’t think of that because she’s going into labor and she’s all alone.

Only she’s not, because the threads she has left (she wants to hate them so much, for being there when Magnus’ isn’t, but she can’t because she knows only too well what it’d mean) pulse warmly around her fingers and wrap around her hands like a caress.

And then, and then something happens that she can only describe as a miracle, because the moment her daughter is born a soft-looking scarlet string just knits itself into existence around their fingers, and oh, no one had ever told her this would be so beautiful.

Hours later that fades too, falling apart just like Magnus’ did, and weeks after they find her Riley is still trying to piece it all back together, as if maybe if she can manage to tie it back to her daughter she can bring her back.

It never works, and eventually she stops trying, but looking at the still healthy threads coiled around her hands never stops to hurt.


The thing is, Riley never stopped wondering where the seven other threads - the ones that she hasn’t found yet - come from.

They’re not in Iceland, she knows that much, not in England, because they spread to the four corners of her horizon in a way that makes her wonder all the time how her fingers aren’t constantly drawn to opposite directions but also tells her that whoever those people are, they come from all over the world.

She daydreams about their meetings and where they’ll happen, and for once the reality far outweighs the fiction.

Who, after all, could have imagined that she had seven other people living on the edges of her mind, all of them just a thought away?

Well, certainly not her.

And yet, that’s what happens, and she likes to think that despite all the trouble it brings into her life, well, it also brings a brighter future.

Chapter Text

Nomi's still Michael when she learns about the meaning of the threads.

They have a class about it in primary school, complete with color analysis and statistics about how many people find their matches, when and where it happens and how the relationships usually develop.

Most of it goes over her head at that age, but she still remembers most of it years later, and the teacher had been a very nice old lady, who perhaps had been the first person to look at Nomi like she wasn't a freak.

Because that's what everyone else in school called her, and later she'll reflect on that and realize that maybe they could sense that she wasn't at ease in her body, that something wasn't quite right with the way she was.

Then of course, it had only hurt, and perhaps it was the fact that this lessons were the only ones Nomi really liked going to - she enjoyed others too, such as math and sciences in general, as well as anything to do with computers, but those classes were too easy and thus boring - or perhaps it was something else, but she remembers feeling like the threads wrapped around each of her fingers were the only thing right about her.

She felt like this for years, until she stumbled on some small partly hidden website on the internet, and realized that there were other people like her, that there was a name for what she was, for what she felt every day.

That had been one of the best days of her life, and it would probably always be.


One of the reasons why Nomi had always known just how different she was came from the shear amount of strings looped around her fingers. She had almost a dozen of those, and sometimes it even got difficult to separate them because seven of them had almost the exact same color. Of course that was before she managed to feel whoever was on the other side, but when she was younger it had always confused her.

She can recall almost perfectly the moment she realized that this wasn't exactly normal. She had been talking with her sister, their shared thread pulsing a healthy red between them, when her sister had asked her how many threads she had.

Nomi had told the truth and her sister had called her a liar, prompting a fight that only stopped when their mother intervened.

Her mother had been skeptical at first, but in the end she had accepted Nomi's story. That had been perhaps the last time the woman had been so accepting of her daughter, and sometimes Nomi even admits to herself that she misses that.

(sometimes she wonders if the woman had ever truly understood or if she had only pretended to, just so she could break the argument between her two children - those thoughts somehow hurt the most)


Meeting Amanita is a stroke of luck.

Nomi had reluctantly come to a party she had been invited to days earlier, and had been bored out of her mind and considering just leaving when the crimson thread looped around her pinkie had suddenly moved.

The only other threads moved that much were the ones she shared with her parents and her sister – though by then the first two had turned to a muted red, a sign if there ever needed one that her relationship with her parents had degraded over the last few years – and then again only when they were in the same room.

She had turned around, her heart beating faster than it ever had in her chest, and the moment her eyes had crossed Amanita’s, she had known that she’d want to spend the rest of her life with this woman.

(in a way, it had been strange too, because Nomi’s parents didn’t share a string, and they always insisted that one didn’t need to meet their thread-partners to find love or be happy in life, and well, with who she was, Nomi had kind of resigned herself to that kind of life too – so meeting someone as wonderfully accepting of who she was as Amanita had been a surprise)

They had left the party together that night, and wandered aimlessly for the rest of the night, talking about everything and nothing, and at some point Nomi had told Amanita her story, because the other woman deserved to be told, but instead of reacting the way Nomi had expected her, Amanita had just hugged her, and oh that had felt nice.

She fell in love right there and then, partly because Nomi had always been open with her heart and partly because the thread around her finger and the feelings it conveyed were the most genuine thing she had ever felt.


The reason why she doesn’t really believe the people only she can see and hear are real is because of the behavior of her threads around them.

One of them always seems to split in two when her ‘other selves’ show up, and one part stay the way it’s always been, stretched far into the horizon, but the other just loops to the apparition’s hand. The feelings she get from those threads are also almost inseparable from her own, and until she witnesses Will and Sun act in tandem to rescue her, she doesn’t really even consider the idea that it might be real.

As it turns out though, it is, and she now has seven thread-mates that are just a thought away, even if they live on the other side of the planet.

She doesn’t really know how she feels about that yet, but she knows in her heart that it can’t be bad. Not when the voices at the back of her head and the warmth she can feel through the red strings hooked around her fingers remind her so much of being part of a real family.

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Kala always knew about the threads. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t know all about them – her parents used to read her stories about the way they helped soulmates find each other, and how once they had they could do great things together.

“It all started at the beginning of the world,” her mother used to whisper beside Kala’s bed, her voice slow and deep. “Mankind was only just starting its first steps when Lord Shiva had a vision that they’d destroy this world if they were left on their own.

“Even to a god, that vision was horrifying, but when he went to seek Lord Brahma’s council in order to discover the truth of his vision, Lord Brahma revealed that he too, had heard of such a future from his sons. Despite all this however, Lord Brahma had put so much work into creating this world that he refused to let Lord Shiva destroyed it. Each side found that other gods supported them, and so for years the gods had a terrible feud.”

“What happened then?” Kala would then ask, captivated by her mother’s story.

And her mother would smile, ruffle her daughter’s hair, and take Kala’s hand in hers.

“Well, eventually the other gods and goddesses – those that had managed to stay out of the conflict mainly, but also some who had originally been on one side or the other of the equation - got tired of it, and they tried to find a solution that would appease both sides.

“It took a lot of time, and a lot of talking, but when the gods came to find a solution – and they did – they sent Lord Vishnu to present it.”

And no matter how many times she heard that story, Kala would always beg her mother to reveal what that solution had been.

“You see Kala,” her mother would answer then, “in Lord Shiva’s vision, man destroyed the world because he was alone, and because there was no one to stop him. Only a god’s action would be able to do that, and that’s why he thought he had to destroy this world so it could be remade better, before man interfered with forces he neither knew nor could control.

“But that’s exactly what Lord Vishnu went to offer – a godly action. He and the other gods and goddesses who supported him thought that since man’s problem was that he had no tie to the world he lived in and the people around him, then the gods would just have to make some for them.

“He proposed that they bind every person on the planet to those who could complete them and make them better, and in the end the other gods agreed. The binding manifested itself as threads of various shades of red, and the gods’ visions stopped. The world rejoiced and since then man has tried to understand everything he can about those threads.”

Maybe the fact that she loved this myth so much when she was a kid is the reason for her fascination with the threads. She doesn’t really know.

All that she knows is that she has as many strings looped around her fingers as she has fingers, and that though three of them link her to her family, the seven others all have different shades of red, and spread off to the four corners of the horizon.

No one she knows or has heard of has that many, and that makes her wonder about what it might mean, that the gods apparently decided that she needs so many people to ground her into this world.

Those questions are definitely why she gets so interested in sciences – because there has to be an explanation for the way people can only see the threads around their own hands and the way feelings and thoughts can cross thousands of miles along a crimson string only two people can see.

Her faith tells her that some higher power created those strings, but with science she could actually understand how they did that – and maybe that’s just hubris talking, but Kala firmly believes that if people would just allow themselves to actually reach for the knowledge they seek, then nothing would ever be out of their reach, which is why she’ll never stop looking for her own answers.


Rajan is… Different. He’s never shy about liking her, he’s kind and loving, and he does everything with passion. He’s handsome too, and usually she’d agree with everything her coworkers tell her – he is pretty much the man in every straight woman’s dreams.

She likes him, she can’t deny that, but Rajan loves her. He loves her, and she just can’t break his heart, not when he looks so happy every time they’re together.

The worst part is, she knows she could fall in love with him. Someday. Maybe not soon, and she may never love him as much as he loves her, but they could have a good life together.

That they’re not thread-bonded doesn’t matter, not really – her parents aren’t either, and yet their marriage works. Her parents love each other, and they always tell her that they don’t need any signs from the gods to know that even if a situation doesn’t seem ideal at first, it can and will get better eventually.

(“Besides,” her father jokes from time to time, “I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know what really goes on in your mother’s mind.”)

Still, she catches herself looking at the night sky sometimes, wondering about who the people on the other ends of the seven strings that stretch too far into the horizon for her eyes to see are. Other times, she’s in the middle of a prayer when her mind wanders to what her life could be like if she just managed to tell Rajan that she doesn’t love him, and that their wedding – their entire relationship – is happening too fast for her.

She guesses she just always thought that one of the strings around her fingers would lead her to her soulmate, but well, as her sister says, that’s probably just the romance novels she read as a teenager talking.

In those books though, the wedding had always been the crowning point of the story – same in every romantic movie she’s ever loved.

She doesn’t even remember how she ended up saying ‘yes’ to Rajan – all that she knows was that they had been dating, and that had been nice, and then in what seemed like the very next day, she was planning for her wedding with her family.

This can’t be the crowning point of her life. It just can’t. Life would never work this way, it isn’t possible.

(it is though, and it looks like she’s going to get married no matter her personal doubts)


She goes to Ganesha for help. She doesn’t actually expect him to send any help other than the usual assistance in getting some order into her thoughts, but she supposes that the German guy who keeps showing up around her is as good as anything else.

She’s not one to question Ganesha’s will or actions, but if the other six thread-mates she has are anything like Wolfgang, then it seems like she’s in for quite an interesting life.

Chapter Text

Sun is thread-blind, which means she’s biologically incapable of seeing the red threads that links soulmates that everyone else can see.

They figure this out when she asks her parents what the threads she sees in her picture books mean, and why the authors of the books seem to believe that they’re wrapped around people’s fingers.

Her mother cries after that, and she hugs her so tight that Sun just knows something is wrong. Even her father looks uncomfortable, and he tries to comfort her – it’s really the only time he does that (that she can remember at least), and so every detail of that day is etched in her memory. Her brother doesn’t understand though, and years later, she’ll still think he doesn’t and probably never will.

Her parent do some research after that – as it turns out, ten present of the population can’t see the threads. Most people are able to, though their level of sensitivity tends to vary a lot, and there are a lot of theories as to why some people are unable to see the threads.

For the more religious, it is a sign of people who have lost their God’s favor, or never had it in the first place. For others, it’s a sign that the Devil has already stolen your soul.

Sun has never met anyone who believed in that first story, but she has known a couple of people convinced of the second. She tries to avoid those when she can, and ignores them to the best of her abilities when she can’t.

Most scientists though think that the explanation lies in people’s gene – that there are some combinations of the DNA that lead to a block forbidding them from seeing the threads everyone else did.

When she’s old enough to learn about genes and DNA, Sun decides that the latter makes more sense, and is more realistic.


Growing up without seeing the threads, Sun learns not to care much for them.

She wouldn’t even know that she’s linked to her family if they hadn’t told her. To Sun, her mother had just been touching empty air when she had tried to explain that there was actually something hooked around both of their thumbs.

The only thing that had told Sun that her mother hadn’t just been joking had been that for a moment Sun had felt something, some emotions that hadn’t been entirely hers.

To this day, even after she had experienced it over a dozen times, she still can’t quite differentiate her bond-mates’ emotions from her own.

Maybe she could have learned, eventually – she had, after all, been learning how to with her mother – but her mother had passed away, and her father, who had never approved of what he considered as ‘nonsense’ in the first place, hadn’t been up to continuing his late wife’s tradition.

Her brother had tried, at first, but he had never really understood what Sun was, and after a while he kind of just… Well, gave up, for a lack of a better term. Maybe it had been her father’s influence, or maybe it had just been part of her brother’s personality since the beginning.

For the longest time, she dreams of belonging somewhere – of being normal. She dreams of heaving red strings looped around every finger of her hands, of being able to see what the ninety percent of the population can see.

She likes to think that she’s strongest than that – that she doesn’t need people she doesn’t choose in her life to be happy – but in the end, she just need something to hold onto to feel sane, even if it’s just dreams.

In the end though, no matter how long it takes her, she finds that she doesn’t need dreams – or red threads – or anything else but her own will to be strong.


Sometimes, Sun wonders if she’d have an easier or harder time protecting her brother the way her mother wanted her to if she could see the thread that links them, if she’d feel something more  than this apathy toward him if she could only have a proper proof that she matters to him the way he matters to her.

Most of the time however, she thinks that it wouldn’t make much of a difference – she knows what she had to do, what her duty is, and nothing will make her change her mind about it.


Until she meets with the rest of the cluster, she doesn’t even know if she has other thread-mates than her family. Her mother always told her that she did, and that she’d meet them one day. She had been the only one to tell her this though.

She thinks she understands why the world seems to think so much of thread-mates after those meetings – her family is her family (she has a duty toward them), but the cluster… The cluster is different.

They see her as she is, not as they want her to be, but perhaps the most important thing is that they see her.

She doesn’t think she’s had much of that since her mother died, and she finds it… refreshing, especially when she’s locked up in prison for a crime she didn’t commit.

(and isn’t that ironic – that she never feels as free as when she’s not?)

Chapter Text

Capheus’ parents weren’t thread-mates. The only reason he knows this is because, back when his father was still alive, their neighbors used to mock them for this.

His mother had had only one thread-mate outside of her immediate family, and he had died before she had ever met him.

Capheus had heard the story a thousand times – sometimes he asked for it, but more often than not, her mother was the one to bring it up.

She’d sit by Capheus’ side and reassure him that he didn’t have to meet with the people on the other side of his threads to be happy, and then she’d tell him that anyone who told him otherwise wasn’t worth knowing.

She’d point out to the red thread they share, putting her hand on his, fingers against fingers, until the silk-like string is so short it looks like it melted around both of their fingers, and tell her son that in the end, all that should matter was that he found his happiness.

“If that’s with the people fate chose for you, then that’s great – but if you can’t, or if anything happens to them-“ and there Capheus knows his mother is thinking of the grey lifeless remain of a thread that hangs around her left middle finger, because she’s making that sad frown Capheus would give anything to earse again, “-then there is no shame in finding what you want elsewhere.”

(and with moments like these, well, it hadn’t really been a surprise to anyone but Capheus’ mother herself when her son refused to ever leave her sight as long as she needed him)

He knows it hurts his mother – just a little, and she tries so hard not to let it show, but Capheus can feel it – the fact that he has so many threads, that he has what she told him once was ‘a destiny out there’. He learns not to really mention them around her when he realizes that, even though he knows perfectly well that his mother would tear him a new one if she even thought he was sacrificing something of himself she judged important just for her.

“A mother’s job is to take care of her children,” she’d say. “A son’s job is to make his mother proud.” She’d smile at him then, stern but proud, in a way that’d tell him that he already was good at that – but then she’d add something like “But a mother is at her proudest when her son finds his own way.”

But Capheus will do anything for his mother – she had done the same for him already, and always would – and that includes putting this ‘destiny’ she believes he has on hold until he’s sure she’ll be alright without him.

Besides, if having thread-mates is anything like in the stories he’s heard, then that means that whoever they are – wherever they are – they can probably already feel why he can’t meet them yet.

(and some stories say that sometimes, you never meet your thread-mates. When he hears those, Capheus goes very quiet (Jela even jokes that it’s the only time it happens, but no one ever laughs because it’s not funny), because he can’t imagine not meeting the seven people that fate has chosen to share his life. He feels so much from them already, when he has never even met them (not yet), but sometimes, in the dead of the night, when he allows himself to be selfish for just five minutes, he wishes he could just go to them.)

In a way, being a sensate – even with all the running for their lives and escaping an evil doctor bent on destroying his own kind (who could ever do such a thing but someone touched by evil itself?) – is one of the best things that ever happened to him.

He’s still there, still with his mother, able to take care of her, but as the same time, he’s more than he ever was – no, he’s finally complete, the person he believes he was always meant to become.

He’s doing something of his life – and maybe he can’t tell yet whether it’s always something good or not, and maybe he still isn’t any closer to finding the right words to tell his mother he’s actually eight people at once, and that’s why he has seven copper-red links spreading out into the horizon linked to his fingers, but that doesn’t matter, but he’s finally acting, instead of waiting, and that feels good.

(and he had been right that day too – it had been a very good day indeed.)

Chapter Text

Lito doesn’t need to ask what the threads mean. He just knows it.

Whether this is because his parents are open about what theirs mean - both the one they share with each other and the one that links them to their son – or because he simply can feel that there is something different about them is another question, but he has this gut feeling that they lead to something good.

One morning he wakes up and runs a finger on the red threads, and he finds that while they somehow feel kind of silk-like, his finger can also go through them if he doesn’t pay much attention to the specifics of that action.

It’s kind of weird, but the strings always pulse warmly around his fingers. It’s very reassuring and Lito can’t really imagine a life without them, even if he’s very thankful, despite his curiosity, that he doesn’t see other people’s threads too.

His ten are distracting enough, spreading toward every corner of every room he’s ever in, and watching them disappear into the walls never gets any less amazing.

(imagine what it’d be like if everyone had to deal with all the threads other people had – the world would just be one big sea of red)


Lito doesn’t think he would ever have approached Hernando if he hadn’t noticed that the bright red thread looped around his right ring finger – the one that always somehow felt the most like home, even compared to the ones he shared with his parents – lead him right to the young man sitting on the other side of the café Lito had decided to take his breakfast in.

(to be perfectly honest, Hernando probably would have been the one to approach Lito if he hadn’t been reading a book he had later described to Lito as ‘riveting’.)

(in another world, one without threads, he might have simply bumped against his chair while leaving the café, or he might have been bolder, deciding to take a chance and sit at Lito’s table. Who knew?)

 Lito has never been able to tell much from the threads, but his mother is very skilled at it. She can somehow tell what her thread-mates – and she had three, which is the most anyone apart from Lito, who has ten copper strings hooked around his fingers, has – feel and even sometimes feel just by focusing on them, and Lito picked up some of her tricks over the years.

Not all of them unfortunately, because no matter how hard his mother tried, neither her son nor her husband seemed to be able to reproduce her skills at thread-reading (later, Hernando will tell him that his mother must be thread-sensitive, which is apparently a (very rare) thing).

But it’s one of those tricks that lead him to realize that the string that earlier seemed to stretch far into the horizon has shrunk to a few feet now, and seems to be vibrating with something.

(if he had to name it, Lito would say it’s potential, but even that’s not quite right – there isn’t a right word for it, really)

He only has to talk with Hernando for five minutes to know that he’s worth every risk to his career a relationship with a male would bring.

That doesn’t stop him from requesting that their relationship remain a secret. Thread-mates of the same sex are more wildly accepted than simple same-sex relationships, but not by much, and he tries to makes sure that Hernando understands that he just wants for what they have to remain theirs, and private.

(the sharp pang of pain he gathers from the thread before it’s washed away by a strong sense of understanding and determination nearly has him change his mind though.)


Chapter Text

To Will, the threads are an important part of his life. Maybe even the most important.

Before Sarah, the only way he knows that is from the way his parents always seem to orbit around each other. Their fingers keep reaching for what Will knows to be a thread, even if he can’t see it, and sometimes he does the same with the thread he shares with them, but then, to him, the threads are just a pretty way to know where your family is.

Sarah is when it really starts to make sense though. He doesn’t share a thread with her, even if in his dreams, sometimes it seems like he does.

(he only ever sees her in his dreams – sometimes she’s alive, but more often than not she’s ghost-like, almost like she’s not quite real – and her fingers are always free of threads until she rests her hand on his arm, whispering in his ear not to look at the man in a white coat)

(it’s the damnedest thing, and why he never really knows if he believes the dreams are real)

The day his mother dies is the worst day in his life (until two decades later, when he realizes that the woman he’s begun to realize is the other half of his soul collapses and gets taken away to a research facility against her will), because it’s the first time he sees a thread turn grey.

One moment he’s at school, trying to listen to his math teacher lecture about the way math studies will get harder and harder during the year as they approach different subjects – but really he’s trying to see if he can’t guess where the threads might lead him – and the next the cherry red thread he knows leads to his mother darken with pain and fear.

For just a moment, he can feel it, and it hurts so much he just can’t help but to try to rip the thread off his finger, even though he knows it’s impossible, because the pain is coming from there and he just wants it to stop.

It only last a few seconds, a minute at most, but it feels like it was much longer than that.

His classmates are shouting around him, and his teacher looks concerned – horrified too, like he knows what’s happening but doesn’t want to voice it in case that makes it true – but Will hears none of this.

No, all of his attention is focused on the way the dark red thread he had been trying so hard to get rid of has now darkened so much it looks like it’s become black. It’s falling apart too, slowly at first and then more and more quickly. He can see the end of the thread getting neared and nearer to him, but his mother isn’t there with it.

(it looks like the video his friend Mike, who lives across the street, once showed him – someone had unrolled an entire ball of thread and caught it on film, and then Mike had found it funny to rewind the video.)

(it had been funny at the time. It’s a lot less so now.)

The moment the thread reaches Will – a much too short time after that message of pain – it turns grey, and all that remains of it is a small loop around his finger.

He knows what it means, and he’s not proud to say that he faints.

(he dreams of Sarah again then, only this time he can’t hear what she’s saying. She takes his hands in hers, and their threads entwine until it looks like they’re the same.

It’s beautiful and he can feel himself smiling widely, and that’s when the threads turn black and crumble around them.

Sarah fades away, and around Will the air whispers for him to wake up.

When he does, he’s in the school’s infirmary, and his father is there, eyes rimmed red and his face too stern, and the nurse is silent besides them.

Will shakes his head no and tries to speak, but all he can seem to think of is the way his father’s hands are stiller than they’ve ever been before, and how he now has one less thread tied to his hands.

‘It’s less crowded now,’ a part of him laughs bitterly, but mostly he feels like crying.

So he does.)

Things get better and they get worse after that. He and his father can’t really stand to be around each other after that – the shadow of Will’s mother is always between them, and it hurts every time they look at each other.

It’s easier to avoid each other after a while, or at least it is until Will realizes that his father’s attention is the only thing he has left.

(well, he also has seven strangers he hasn’t met yet, but they don’t seem to be entering his life anytime soon, so he’ll have to make do with his father for now)

The thing is: part of Will blames himself for what happened. He thinks that maybe if he hadn’t been trying to untie his mother’s thread – she must have felt it, must have known somehow that her son had been trying to get rid of it, of her – she would still be there.

The thing is: he never tells that to anybody, but despite his teenage rebellion he decides that saving other people might make up for that mistake.

The thing is: Sarah Patrell’s case haunts his father, but Sarah Patrell just haunts Will.

(the thing is: he’s nearing his thirties when he finds out why, and that they might go out the same way if he’s not careful)

(the thing is: he’s saving the woman he loves when he understands why Sarah always told him not to look Whispers in the eyes.)