They both have scars.
Shep could never tell you where he got them all. They're as numerous and ever-changing as the waves in the ocean. Solomon will see a fresh wound on Monday that'll scar by Sunday, and then by that time the next month, be entirely forgotten. There are major ones, of course, for which Shep can usually recall the cause and approximate date of injury, but it still seems like the more marks he gets, the less he remembers the ones he already has, until it all bleeds together and he just sighs, exasperated: "Just my skin, Sol. Gotta lotta marks on me. Just how it is."
Solomon's never understood that -- How easily he forgets his own body and how easily his body forgets. Because Solomon's scars don't fade. He has a dark indentation on his heel from the day he was born, when the doctors were frantic to check his blood type, afraid he'd poisoned his mother just by being born. There's a wide, crescent-shaped line of pale, stiff skin stretched across his forearm, because when he was just a boy, no older than five years old, a stray dog had taken a bite out of him that'd nearly cost him his life.
The rest are old wounds from his early days of training, and many are marks left behind by those he'd been ordered to kill, or sometimes by those ordered to kill him. But no matter how they'd gotten there, no mark -- once left -- had ever faded, and they remain on his skin like a testament to his hardiness, his luck, his will to survive. He's like a museum of look-but-don't-touch, because over a decade of leave-not-even-fingerprints has left him far from familiar with skin-on-skin contact. He guards his body and the secrets written all over it, each pale, stiff line matching a case file, an incident report, a debriefing statement he'd been forced to give between finishing a job and passing out on his couch the second he locked the door behind him. And all of the marks on his body, including four tattoos, a birthmark, and a lonely mole on his left shoulder, are documented in a file labeled: "113678: Saint James, Solomon".
The file resides in his family's archives, but there's an up-to-date version that is kept in his father's home office. He's read it before. Eye color: Green. Hair color: Light brown. Height: 179 centimeters. Weight:140 kilograms. Distinguishing features: The list grows every time he reads it.
He wonders sometimes, lying awake at night, how it would feel not to know. There's a lot he's learned about himself from reading those files, seeing those mistakes jump out at him as though he's living the attack once more. He can see his weaknesses detailed in those little black-and-white words on paper and the pale lines on his flesh. He can see his preferences -- the way he protects his left side before his right, a habit his father has long given up trying to break him of. It speaks at length of his determination, with some reports recalling injury after grievous injury before the job got done and some outlining attacks and one-on-one battles that he should not have walked away from. There are hospital bills that take up drawer after drawer, and in them are tales of thirty-two stitches placed to knit his muscles back together, holes drilled into his skull to keep his brain from exploding, week-long life support to keep him alive during comas no one thought he'd wake up from. It's all there. Everything he's done, everything he is. It's all down in ink and flesh.
So how is it that he has no idea who he is when Shep seems so self-assured? There's a day from his youth that he very clearly recalls. It took place during that summer when the girls were just turning thirteen, and Solomon must've been about twenty-two, but he feels like he was so much younger.
"S'yer favorite color, Sol?" Shep had asked, seemingly out of the blue. It hadn't been. The girls had been talking about it, having just gotten permission to paint their room whatever color they liked. Sol knows that Shep likes powder blue, June likes pink, and Lily likes green. He knows because they've told him, and not for any other reason.
Solomon didn't know how to answer. As a rule, he tries very hard not to make personal statements, preferring to speak more generally when at all possible. Saying 'This is probably a bad idea' instead of 'I think this is a bad idea' gives one a lot more leeway when it comes to responsibility, and being accountable to one's words. There's something about words like 'my' and 'I' that've always frightened him beyond all reason. He feels as though anything he attaches that little word to becomes something people can hold him to. So he's never said anything along the lines of 'I like the color blue' or 'My favorite color is pink' or even 'I think green is alright'. The more he thinks about it, the more he realizes it has more to do with not having one than not wanting to own up to it. That train of thought just leads to more questions that he's suddenly throwing at himself without Shep's usual prompting, and he realizes that along with the absence of a favorite color, he has no idea what his favorite food is, either. He doesn't know whether he likes dogs or cats. He can't tell the difference between hard rock and country.
When he really stop to examine himself, he realizes he's so much more than what's written in those files, than the marks scattered like ancient relics across a body that is starting to seem more like a tomb than a museum. When he really stops to examine himself, he realizes those files don't say much about him at all.
But if it isn't written down -- if he can't go back and read it, see it with his own eyes, feel the scar tissue pull every time he moves -- how is he supposed to know? A dog bite is real. A favorite color is something he can't even fathom, because what is it about powder blue that makes it so much better than pink or green? Solomon doesn't know, and he doesn't think he's likely to find out.