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Integrity of Self

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“If love means that one person absorbs the other, then no real relationship exists any more. Love evaporates; there is nothing left to love. The integrity of self is gone.”

- Annie Oakley

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Indra feels the slightest shift in the air as the door behind her is pushed open. Hears the soft scrape of a rubber sole against age-worn concrete, accompanied by exhalations of breath coming heavy, deep and even.

Whatever other pieces of herself she may have lost, she is still a Trikru warrior. And her visitor gives himself away all too easily.

“What do you want?” Indra asks, without looking up from her study of the object laid out on the table before her.

Her eyes trace the sharp lines and length of it, this repulsive thing that has held her in sway since the healers had finished their work and left her alone here to rest. There are few things Indra remembers about her rescue. What she does remember is the raw panic she’d felt as she was taken down from the cross, and how that panic had all but disappeared the moment she reached out and felt metal, still warm from having been fired, against her fingertips.

She’s kept the cursed thing within arm’s reach ever since.

“May I come in?”

It takes only a momentary glance for Indra to read his expression - a mixture of fear, concern and guilt - and realize that she has no chance of deterring him. Marcus Kane always was, in her opinion, a dangerously perceptive man.

Reluctantly, she nods her acquiescence. A few seconds later Kane steps fully into view and takes a seat across from her at the small, rough hewn table. To her surprise, he doesn’t immediately speak. Instead, he joins her in her contemplation, though he has no need of it. The weapon before them is as familiar to him as his own hand.

“I remember how angry you were,” he begins after several minutes spent in silence, “when I offered to teach your warriors how to shoot.” Kane reaches out to run his fingers down the grip of the rifle. “Octavia told me it was because your people believed that picking up a gun, even to use against your enemy, would bring destruction and death to those they loved.”

“Lincoln taught Octavia well.”

“He did.” Kane pauses, and in that moment of shared silence Indra senses the danger in it just as it is broken. “That story seemed to hold a great deal of meaning for you,” he ventures cautiously.

“Not any more.”

“Why?”

“Because it no longer matters.” She can feel her grip on the edge of the table tightening, blood pounding beneath the sword-worn calluses on her fingertips. “My life was damned the moment Bellamy decided to save it.”

Kane shakes his head. “You’re wrong.”

“You know nothing--”

“I know far more than you realize.” Softly spoken, Kane words are tinged with a pain Indra herself has come to recognize all too well. “According to the Skaikru legend, I was never meant to be here. Every choice I made was guided by that belief. I never doubted; not once. And then the Ark fell to Earth.”

“What did you do?”

“I stopped following the path laid out for me, and found my own.”

Kane’s words bring forth a steady flow of memories, and Indra allows her mind to skip from one to the next, until her thoughts settle on one in particular: that of a young boy defiantly meeting the disapproving gaze of his Chief before turning his back and slipping into the deepening dark of the forest, pen and sketchbook in hand.

“From the beginning, Lincoln always questioned our ways. He spent much of his life paying for his doubt.”

“Maybe.” Reaching across the table, Kane gently nudges the rifle towards her. “But he also died knowing that the life he chose, however painful, had been the one he was meant to live.”

Indra hesitates, then picks up the gun and slips the shoulder sling over her head. She feels something settle deep within her as the weight of the weapon comes to rest against her hip. “We shall see,” she says as she rises and reaches across the table to grip Kane’s forearm.

 

*fin.*