Lec paused. Surely they had misheard their companion. Issa's tattoo was too jagged, edges too perfectly sculpted, to be anything less than an artist's careful work with a needle. Regardless, the similarities were so striking. Even if Issa's dark mark was more angular, more intimidating, the shape was the same, the curve of a sea, or perhaps a claw, and the way it curled in on itself. It was as if their marks were born of the same artist, but Lec had had theirs at birth. They just couldn't believe someone else would ever be able to claim the same.
Issa's lax tone didn't make any sense. Didn't he see how crazy this was? But how could he, they realized, when he could not see their own chest? He must not have noticed it during their first meeting, or their second, but there were too many other things to notice, too many things new to notice some discoloration of skin. They wanted to grab him, to demand he give them answers for this coincidence, but from the way he looked at them, the carefree way he spoke... Did he really think nothing of this?
When he moved his clothes away, Lec studied the mark once more. They hesitated, not knowing what to say or even think. Touched by a goddess. They repeated the phrase in their head. Surely just a throwaway line from some old bat of the Lucet--right? Or was it possible that Lec, too, was chosen by a god? Did the Evimairians and Lucets even believe in the same gods? No, there was no way this could happen naturally, no explainable way two people from such different places would be brought together like this.
Before they could stop themselves, Lec inched closer to Issa, and they ran their fingers over foreign skin. They expected it to feel different, as if they would feel the jagged scars, the oily ink, something. But to their surprise, Issa's chest felt smooth, tight, ordinary, as if it did not hold such a mystery. It didn't make any sense. He was claiming to not know what a tattoo was at all, but this proof under their fingertips, the proof on their own chest--it had to be more than coincidence.
They suddenly looked up at him, hands still caught frozen on his chest, blue-brown eyes burning with the millions of questions left unasked. Issa had asked them things, about human culture, and they needed to answer him, or apologize for touching him like this. The need to respond to him, to apologize to him, to draw back their hand was silenced by curiosity, disbelief, excitement. Lec struggled to find anything to say to capture their thoughts, then tugged at the edge of their hood. The shirt, not meant to be stretched, barely gave way to their own dark mark. Lec pouted awkwardly, then looked around. They could verbalize no explanation, and this place was too public to show him what they meant. So, Lec grabbed the book from where it had been abandoned on the grass, and they stood. "Sorry," they mumbled, finally, hesitantly. "Sorry, we should-- You should-- Can you, um, follow me, please?"
Not waiting for a response, they took Issa's hand and led him away from the park. If Issa had any questions or protests during their walk, Lec couldn't hear them over the incessant drumming of their own thoughts. They walked him to their inn, led him to their room, and once inside, they motioned for him to take a seat on their bed. They needed to apologize, for the silence, for touching him like that, for being so damn awkward, but they had to show him. They needed him to know that they were connected, somehow.
They disappeared into the small bathroom connected to the room. They returned without their shirt, arms stubbornly crossed over their chest in an attempt at modesty. Issa would be able to see now their own mark, just as black, crafted of the same image as his own. They waited for him to take it in, to understand their rude behavior. "I was born with this, too," they explained, voice small, fragile. "When we--erm, humans--when a human is born with a mark, it's usually small, usually red or maybe purple, never black, never so precise as these. I was an anomaly for this, and I never knew what it meant. No one knew. I just moved on. But..." They met his gaze again. A small hope settled in their throat as they asked, "You said your elder knows something about this?"