Disclaimer: I don't own The 100. Everything belongs to whoever owns them, my wishful thinking aside.
Authors Note #1: likegalileodroppedtheorange on tumblr asked for: "Kabby prompt: Grounder!Marcus and scars" – Set in the same universe as my Grounder!Marcus fic: "Incalescent" but it isn't necessary to have read that previously to understand the premise of this fic.
Warnings: description of injury, blood, canon appropriate language, scars and violence.
The second time she met Marcus Kane kom Trikru was when she was escorted into the grounder village for their meeting and came face to face with the man himself sitting cross-legged on a pile of furs in his command tent. Shirtless and eyes closed with his hands in a meditative pose as the healer attending him chose that exact moment to remove the arrow that had been sticking out of his back.
"Jesus Christ!" she exclaimed, stepping forward immediately – instinctively – only to come up short when his guards lurched in from the sidelines. Hands on the hilts of their swords as her own guard tensed behind her. Reminding her rather suddenly of her situation before Marcus murmured a quiet negative, the muscles in his back tense and trembling as the healer applied pressure to the wound.
She barely noticed the guards stepping back. Attention firmly caught as Marcus indicated for her to approach. Gesturing to the low-lying bench lined with soft sheep-skin which had been set opposite him before bidding one of the young men by the entrance to bring tea and bread.
"Chancellor Griffin," Marcus greeted, taking her in with a serious smile, giving no indication he was in any discomfort whatsoever as he carried on like the disturbance had never happened. Posture straight despite the still-bleeding wound as he inclined his head. Surprising her by extending his hand for her to take, shaking it loosely, like he was afraid of breaking her. "I believe this is the proper greeting for your people, is it not?"
"It is, thank you," she affirmed, caught more than a bit off guard before rallying herself to stick with the point she'd opened with. "What happened?"
It hadn't been long after their first meeting in Arkadia. Not long enough to build even the ghost of trust or even familiarity, but she couldn't help but ask. Watching the older woman who was mashing a bundle of pungent herbs into a small wooden bowl. Eying the sprigs of herbs that dotted the floor around her doubtfully as she mentally rooted through the supplies she'd brought with her. Deciding that at the very least she could get him stitched up and bandaged while she was here.
"Nothing serious," he replied dismissively, smile angling amusedly to port as the healer muttered something disparaging under her breath. Looking supremely unimpressed as her pile of long silver-grey hair - braided thick on either side and coiled up in a large, elegant looking knot on the top of her head – bobbled dangerously as she shook her head. "There were reports of a large group – those banished from their clan for whatever reason – was moving through the area. I proved them correct. After a fashion."
"I can see that," she returned dryly, raising a brow before deciding to cut right to the chase. Sparing a moment to look down at the glinting arrowhead leaking red across the woven mat before raising her eyes to find his already fixed on her. "I'd like to take a look at it, if you don't mind."
For a tense moment, no one spoke.
"You?" he repeated, curious but with a hint of something she couldn't quite put a name to as the guards on either side of the door exchanged dark glances. The healer, however, just looked mildly insulted. Smacking her hands on her hips as she rose to her full height behind him. Clearly ready to give her a piece of her mind. And honestly, she couldn't blame her. It was a bit too much like looking in the mirror if she was in the woman's shoes. It wasn't just professional pride. It was loyalty. But she was trying to building something here, something based on trust, friendship and understanding and the truth was, they'd been yards behind the mark every time they encountered Marcus' people.
It was time they showed their worth.
"I am a doctor before a Chancellor," she explained, keeping her eyes on him and him alone. Refusing to get drawn into a battle of wounded pride with the woman as the gauze-like cloth she'd applied to the wound slowly stained itself red.
But since Marcus' face was still open and considering, she pushed forward, hands clasped in her lap.
"When I was young, one of the first lessons I can remember being taught in a group was about working together," she started, unsure of where exactly she was going with this until the moment clicked and suddenly the words were an earnest, disjointed jumble in her mouth.
"You recall our technology? The view screens, data pads?" she asked, waiting until the man nodded before pushing on. "Well, we can watch things on them, recordings from before all this. I remember one day our teacher took us into one of the service bays and showed us this exercise. It was called a Trust Fall. A trust building exercise where you allowed yourself to fall, trusting that your partner or the entire group would catch you before you hit the ground. The lesson was, that if you work together. For each other. Even if you fall, there will always be someone there to catch you. But there was another side. In order for that working together to happen, you had to let yourself fall. Let yourself trust."
Marcus' eyes were piercing.
"I mean no disrespect," she explained, turning her attention to the healer this time as she pulled her first aid kit out of her pack and set it on the ground in front of her. Opening the Velcro with a hissing-slash of noise to reveal its contents. "But this is why I am here. We each have our own ways. Allow me to show you mine?"
Somewhere outside, the sound of duelling blades slanted the atmosphere towards the sharp of a knife's edge. Adding a tint of violence to a moment that was already drowning in tension before the man took a deep breath and firmed the line of his shoulders. Clearly trying to ease the pain of the wound as a line of crimson seeped freely down the dip of his spine. She clasped her hands tighter in her lap on reflex. Managing to resist temptation, but only barely.
"Is that what I am to you?" he asked after a long moment, thoughtful and quiet as the beaten copper strands woven into his braids reflected the light streaming in from outside. "What we are to you and your people? Partners?"
"Allies," she affirmed, smiling small despite him not returning the same. Keeping herself above needing it as she laid out her cards bare faced and bold. Understanding the diplomatic matters that were at stake here. She couldn't back down. She couldn't fold. One misstep and it would negate all their progress trying to establish a foothold here. A peace with the grounders. "And hopefully, someday soon, friends. If we're going to build something here, we need to start trusting one another. What better way to start?"
He stared at her for a long time. Like if he waited long enough any deception she was holding back would tease itself free. Eventually however, he inclined his head. Dismissing his guards before turning to the healer with a smile that was fractionally warmer. Something that spoke of familiarity and fondness and that did something to his face that made her itch to put a smile like that there herself someday.
"You honor me with your service. You may go."
The woman pursed her lips, but nodded respectfully. Preceding her own guards through the canvas flaps as she gestured for them to follow. Leaving her and Marcus alone in the tent for the first time.
She was about to say something, to move forward and stem the bleeding before he stopped her.
It was such a small gesture, the curl of his fingers stretching out to keep the space between them.
But it was enough to have her sinking back into the furs – wary and on edge.
"Your words are wise and thoughtful, and while I agree with their meaning, they do not hide what is in here," he murmured, pressing his fist into his chest before letting it fall away almost dismissively. Like an emperor of old allowing a fight in his arena to carry on unchallenged despite the very air around him charged with his own authority.
"You mean well, but you think your ways are best," he clarified, seizing her hesitation as she rode the thin line between shame and sincerity. Because he wasn't wrong. She had her biases. But at the end of the day, she only wanted good to come from them. "No disrespect meant, Chancellor Griffin, but for my people, assuming your ways are the best is not the wisest way to make friends."
She lowered her eyes before nodding.
Accepting the warning for what it was.
A quiet admonishment of truth meant not to wound, but to educate.
And despite the sting to her pride, she couldn't help but respect him all the more for it.
A/N: Thank you for reading, please let me know what you think. – There will be one more chapter, so stay tuned.
- The title, "fika" is a rare Swedish word meaning: "a coffee break between friends or colleagues."