The first time almost kills her.
Jane is balanced on the edge of a twenty-foot cliff, knees bent in preparation to launch herself away from the overhang to the water below. Mid-jump, her vision telescopes. She blinks, and it’s no longer Mindoir she sees. She’s looking at an open field. Turians run across it holding sticks and chasing a ball. More turians are in front of her, cheering. The light is funny; everything seems overlaid with a cool grey filter. Her shoulder is jostled and her head turns to a young female turian. She says something, but Jane doesn’t understand. The turian’s head tilts forward, and she repeats herself, mandibles moving in an exaggerated manner. Jane’s head shakes and her hand—three fingered—pushes the turian away. Something niggles in the back of her head, something important. What...
A hard smack along the full length of her back jolts her out of it. Jane gasps, and inhales nothing but water. She coughs and only just stops herself from breathing in again. She twists toward the light and kicks desperately. Her reaching hand fails to break the surface. She needs air. Her lungs contract, needing oxygen, and she inhales again.
There’s no thought now, just pure survival instinct. She tries to keep moving up, towards air, towards life, but everything feels heavy and cold. The light fades, the water moving around her, and then she’s yanked above the surface. She hears muted noises and she dimly registers that she’s being held.
“C’mon, Jane. Mom’s already gonna kill me. You’d better survive so she can kill you too.” The words are distant, though there’s breath on her neck. Then there’s hands pulling her out of the water and turning her on her side. Water runs out of her ear, and she can hear properly again. She coughs weakly, then with more strength as her body realizes it has air again. Her back aches. Everything aches.
Jason holds on to her shoulder as one cough almost rolls her on to her face. “What happened?” he asks. “It was like you locked up halfway through the dive.”
Jane blinks up blearily at her brother. “Soul bond,” she manages, before retching up all the water she’d swallowed.
Her parents, when they’re told, are worried. They try to hide it, but she sees the look they exchange. Soul bonds are rare, soul bonds across species even rarer. It’s enough of a distraction that neither she nor Jason are scolded for the cliff diving.
“You’re welcome,” Jane says later, as they climb the steps to their rooms.
“For what, not drowning?” Jason rolls his eyes. “You’re welcome.” He stops in front of his door. “A turian, huh?”
Jane knows what he’s thinking. How’s she going to meet a turian on a backwater colony like theirs? She’s never thought about leaving. He’s the one with the big dreams. “The colony must do pretty well in the future,” she says. “If we get that kind of traffic.”
He doesn’t look convinced.
“I didn’t ask for this. I’m just as weirded out as you are.” Jane’s voice breaks a little at the end, and Jason shifts awkwardly.
“Sorry,” he says. “It’s just… a turian? I never knew you swung that way.”
She smacks him on the arm. “I don’t! You know it doesn’t have to mean that.”
“Says you.” Jason makes a kissy face at her and darts into his room before she can smack him again.
Jane glares at his door for a moment before going to her own room. Once inside, she flops on to her bed, then winces in regret. After the sting dies down, she rolls over and grabs her datapad from her desk. A few taps and she’s got the relevant notes from her galactic studies class pulled up.
“Soul bonds affect approximately one in ten thousand individuals,” she reads. “Cross-species soul bonds are one in a hundred.” She does the math in her head and snorts. Of all the ways to be one in a million. She keeps reading. “Soul bonds may be romantic or platonic. Romantic soul bonds are the majority within a species; the opposite is true for cross-species bonds. The bond is usually experienced with the onset of puberty—” Jane frowns at that. She’s had her period for a couple of years now. “—although in rare cases traumatic events may trigger the bond earlier.”
Well, that’s something, she supposes. Both of them have had normal childhoods.
“The frequency of the connection varies from bond to bond, but typically decreases or disappears altogether once the pair meet physically.” Well that’s just great. In other words, until they meet, she’s at risk for a repeat of today. Jane throws the datapad back on her desk and scowls at the ceiling.
“I hope you’re watching right now,” she says, and raises her hand in a rude gesture. “Jerk.”
* * *
The first time is a let-down.
Garrus recognizes the signs when his soul bond first sees the world through his eyes. It doesn’t last nearly as long as he expects, ending with a suddenness that sends a shock through his body. He worries that they’re okay and anxiously waits for his turn. He hopes they’re on Palaven too.
The green takes him by surprise. Not Palaven, is his first thought. It’s nice, wherever it is. There’s a cool breeze blowing that carries the scent of water. His eyes close and his head goes back to feel the heat of the system’s star. Someone calls and his eyes are open again, the view shifting as he answers. A human is standing in the middle of a field of crops, gesturing with something in its hands. Garrus nods, and comes down from the small rise to the machine at the edge of the field. He punches a few buttons, watches the screen for a moment, then punches a few more to adjust the output. The machine hums as its pump kicks into gear, sending water through the irrigation pipes. The wind shifts and some of the spray hits him in the face. He wipes it off with the back of his hand, the skin of his cheek smooth and warm.
Garrus looks out over the field again, his gaze feeling almost… defiant?
The vision fades, leaving confusion and disappointment. A human? A farmer? Garrus couldn’t imagine how such a person would fit into his life. Spirits, they can’t even eat together. He’s not about to change his plans for his future, and judging by that defiance at the end of the vision, the feeling is mutual. Just his luck.
At the match earlier, he’d waved off Solana because he didn’t want to share before he’d had his first vision. Now he’s glad for that decision. He can’t imagine having to reveal that his soul bond isn’t turian. It’s not supposed to matter, but he’s heard the comments. Hard to be sufficiently dedicated to the Hierarchy when your bonded is outside of it. Doubly hard when you were shooting at each other less than twenty years ago.
Garrus tells himself it doesn’t matter. They’re unlikely to meet before he finishes basic training, and that’s still a couple of years off. He’ll have time to prove himself in the meritocracy before anyone has to find out. He tries to envision that conversation, and fails.
At the moment there’s only one thing he can imagine, and the thought of it quickly solidifies into a resolution.
He can never let his dad find out.