The marks have always been there. An ever changing pattern in pale blue, appearing and disappearing at random. She never really considers what they mean, she’s eight and struggling to survive in a desert that seems determined to kill her.
She’s lucky though.
She’s small, and fast, and crafty. She watches the scavengers and mechanics, picks up languages like scrap from the sand. She learns.
Then she’s older and the marks are still appearing. A rainbow of blues blooming across her back, her arms and chest. She pulls her goggles down on days when her eyes have blossomed into cerulean flowers she can’t feel. Some days she can barely see the skin underneath. There’s one that never quite fades away though. A starburst barely bigger than her thumbnail that has taken residence on the left side of her chest, just above her heart.
She’s eleven when she finally gets an answer, she pulls her scarf down unaware of the jagged blue lightning bolt that’s split her lip in two. Mashra stares and shakes her head with a look that Rey has come to associate with a smile for the Aqualish.
“You never told me about that.”
Rey frowns, reaching up to touch the sand-worn skin of her face, “What?” Then she catches sight of herself in the side of a dull silver carbon fuse and her heart jumps. “Do you know what this means?”
Mashra is silent for a moment, and Rey can feel her weighing her up even as her heart thunders like the Racers at the Wheel. Then Mashra, in her slow, steady voice, gives her the answer.
“It means you’re soul-bound, my young friend. It means somewhere out there someone is wearing your pain in cobalt, too.”
Once she knows, she almost wishes she didn’t. Before they were just patterns, now when she wakes up sky-touched she knows somewhere out in the stars her soul mate is hurting. Hurting bad. It’s rarer now, the marks at least, but she can’t keep from crying sometimes when she remembers the years when she’d wake up blue all over. What was he suffering?
Sometimes she imagines what he’s like. A brave fighter pilot, she reckons, with a helmet like the one she found in the dunes. Or a legendary smuggler. A Prince, or a hero.
Does he think of me too? She wonders, tracing a new mark on her wrist. The first she’s seen in months. Does he know that his hands are always blue from her scavenging, hips bruised from squeezing through ventilation ports she’s rapidly growing too big for. She’s not a child any more.
Will he find me before my family does?
Her daydreams about soul bonded heroes and missing family members fade gradually with the years. She can’t eat hope after all.
At nineteen she’s almost forgotten the marks. They slip her mind entirely when she finds a lost droid and gets ripped into an adventure straight out of the stories. She’s fighting side by side with legends, real legends, and uncovering an inner power a desert rat from the Western Reaches has no rights too. She’s fighting great evil too. (She, who’d only ever fought scavengers and drunkards, has a nemesis.) He makes quite the first impression, impossibly tall, wreathed in darkness and lit in red. A monster straight from the stories, too.
It’s almost a relief when he takes his mask off. Human after all. It’s harder to remember he’s evil incarnate when she’s counting the constellation of freckles on his face, lit up by the blue glow of the data panels around them.
Then she sees inside his mind and it’s harder still . She’s pretty sure monsters aren’t consumed with crippling insecurity, drowning in rage and loneliness.
Then he murders Han and she remembers how to hate again. Any internal conflict regarding men and monsters is pushed aside when he drops Finn like a rag doll. All that’s left is the fight. Strike and parry, she can feel him pulling his punches and it fuels her determination. And when she knocks him down, sabre cleaving his face in a diagonal of red, she feels a surge of victory she’s never known before.
He looks up at from the snow and the feeling fades. It’s not anger in his eyes, or hatred or pain or bitter defeat, it’s wonder. Like she’s sprouted wings and offered him the hand of salvation. Mouth suddenly dry, she turns heel and flees. Something deeply unsettling has laid claim to her bones and she can’t fathom why.
It’s not until she steps off the Falcon back at the base on D'qar that she gets her reason. General Organa, pale faced and anxious embraces her with a warmth she’s not sure she deserves. Pulling back with a concerned gaze, her eyes trace the smooth line of something she can’t feel. "What happened to your face?“
She stumbles into the nearest wash room, eyes too big for her skull as she finally finds a mirror. There’s a jagged line splitting her face neatly in two. The blue so dark it’s almost black against her pallid skin.
A mirror image of the blow she dealt.
She can’t breathe.
She scrabbles desperately with the fabric of her tunic. There’s a blue patch on her side where the crossbow bolt hit him. She pulls at her sleeves. A cerulean slash where she grazed his shoulder.
No. No it can’t be. She’s hyperventilating now, nails scrubbing against her skin like she might somehow scratch them clean. Not him.
Anyone but him.
She remembers waking up bluer than a Twi'lek at the age of seven. Barely an inch of skin showing through.
He’s a monster.
Three years of marked eyes and arms criss crossed with sashes. Evidence of pains she couldn’t feel.
He’s a murderer.
She thinks of the one mark that never went away, the one tiny blue patch right above her heart that has become as much a part of her as any of her freckles.