It's several weeks before Leia gets around to doing Finn's official intake. She tends to do things that will save lives before she fills in the forms that make C-3PO happy. (She can hear Han in her head, saying, "You mean you tend to do the things you want to before the things you don't want to," and that's also true.) So Finn is already an established member of the Resistance before he's officially in the computers; he's got a bunk, he's got friends, and he's already made one trip through Medical. That's a true-blue Resistance fighter, by anyone's standards.
He still looks at her in alarm as she walks up to him in the refectory, datapad in hand. Poe sees her coming and swings his legs over the bench. He claps Finn on the shoulder and says, "I'll be in 24B when you're done, if you're not bored to death."
Finn watches Poe as he walks out, his expression so open that Leia's smile is probably unexpectedly fond when he finally looks at her. Finn blinks a few times and then straightens up, his hands twitching like he wants to salute. "How can I help you, General?"
Leia loves the newer recruits. She can hear how they never even think the word "Princess" as they say "General." Princess is who she once was, a title she lost along with a planet. She’d always rather be acknowledged for who she made herself, after.
"Forms," she says, sitting across from him, the table between them. The benches aren’t as easy to get her leg over these days.
Finn nods and looks serious. "Yes, General," he says. She wants to tell him that half of these forms exist just to give C-3PO something to worry about, so he doesn’t try to sort all their spare parts in order of size (again), but Finn wouldn't believe her. He's still too new for that.
He’ll learn. The ones that live do, and she has a feeling he will.
"Name?" Leia says. Normally, that's starting with the easiest question, but she's curious to see what Finn will say.
He hesitates before he says, "Finn." Then he clears his throat and repeats it, his voice firmer. "Finn. I don't know my birth name, and I can give you my designation if you want, but -- Finn."
"Finn," she agrees, and enters it.
All Finn's answers are like that. Home planet? He doesn't know. Time and date of birth? He doesn’t know. Family? He hesitates, staring at the refectory table, and Leia moves on before one of them cries. When she asks him about his schooling, he says, "I completed Stormtrooper training?"
Leia considers. "We have an alternate form that allows for assessment by skills," she offers. They fill that one out instead.
At the end, though, they get to the reason she does this in person, even now, after all these years. "Do you have a Mark?" she asks, and watches his eyes.
Finn looks away, looks back like he's testing the waters, looks away again. This kid should not go undercover anywhere. He looks back at her, and his expression has changed. Leia instantly recognizes the look of someone taking a risk. She ate breakfast across from it for fifteen years. "Yes, ma'am, I have a Mark," he says, and waits for judgment, keeping himself so still he looks frozen.
The First Order must punish people with Marks in some way, Leia realizes, studying Finn’s expressionless face. She hadn't known. But now that she does, she knows that policy came from Ben, must have. She never told him her conviction that Force-linked people are much more likely to be Marked, but he's plenty smart enough to have worked it out for himself.
Of course, this is Ben. He might also have banned Marks in the First Order simply because of how much he hates his own.
Leia shakes her head slightly and re-focuses on Finn, who is starting to look like a man whose gamble has not paid off; she's intimately familiar with that expression, too. "May I see it?" she asks, and she keeps her tone light.
Finn looks around the refectory, studying the temporary walls and the battered metal tables. It's almost empty right now; there’s just a droid cleaning tables and two engineers in the far corner, arguing over coffee and schematics. No one is watching them, but he still hesitates.
Leia says, "You don't have to show me. Or we can leave it for another time."
Finn shakes his head. "No, it's -- it's fine. Yeah, you can see." He pulls up his shirt and shows her his stomach. It's obviously a Mark, and the location both means it might have been possible to conceal it when it came in -- even for someone in the First Order -- and that it’s strong. Leia’s looked at a lot of Marks over the years, and she knows: the closer to the heart, the stronger the Mark.
She’d wondered if Finn’s Mark would be a clue to his homeland, but it’s not in any script. Instead, it's four arrows pointing out from the center, along the cardinal directions. The dark lines pull Leia’s eyes like a magnet, radiating their significance in a wavering glow. She copies the Mark carefully into Finn's file, and he pulls his shirt down again.
"What do you think it means?" she asks him.
Finn hesitates. "I, uh. I think, I used to think that it was a target. It's why I went out for blaster training. Then, later, I thought maybe it meant there was a target on me."
Leia blinks. "You don't see arrows?"
"Now I do. I swear they weren't like that before. It changed."
Leia doesn't need to ask when. She nods. "So now what do you think it means?"
Finn shakes his head cautiously. He clearly does have a theory, but he doesn't want to tell it to her. He doesn’t need to, either. Often Leia can't tell if a Mark is genuine, let alone read it, until she's very close to it; sometimes she needs to touch ones that are on feet or lower legs. Not this one. Meaning pours off of Finn's; she feels buffeted it by it sitting three feet away from him.
She thanks him, and he looks relieved as he heads off, probably following Poe to 24B. Leia waits until he's out of the room to finish the relevant form. Meaning:, she enters. I choose my own direction.
After she's typed it, she looks at the words for a minute. So much is dictated by the Force. It took her most of her life to understand how much. But now she knows for sure that free will does exist, at least for one person.
Finn has the freedom to choose, and he chooses to be here, with the Resistance. It's the most hopeful Mark Leia has seen in a long time.
Leia locks the Mark file with her personal seal, but not before she scrolls up to the very first entry. Leia Organa, it says. Mark: the word 'loss,' in Aldri, the language of Alderaan, slightly to the left of the sternum.
She looks at her sketch of her Mark. For a while, when she was very young, she found the Mark romantic. So fated! So tragic! She'd read a lot of classic poetry that year. Later, at the Alderaan Academy of Arts and Sciences, she'd decided that if she were destined to lose, she needed to pick a fight worth fighting for its own sake. She hadn't learned yet the difference between losing and loss.
Not very many years after that, she'd believed she'd lost all she ever could.
And she was wrong.
Leia closes the file, picks up her datapad, and heads back to the war room. She's got work to do. But tonight, she'll check her Mark, see if maybe it has started to change, like Finn's. She might be marked for loss, but at heart, Leia knows, she's also an incurable optimist.