Problematic Providence

A/N: An excerpt from Dragonfly, but you may recognize these two from an earlier post about a scrappy 12-year-old with mention of her sullen, adopted brother. Flash forward seven years, they’re nowhere near model citizenship: key players in a guerrilla-style resistance movement, up against human weapons and an impending dictatorship, suddenly faced with a possibility that could just as easily spell their victory as their demise.

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“Derek, you’ve been brooding for two days,” Andrew sat down across from her brother, who silently picked at a bowl of cereal Tuesday morning. “What’s eating you?”

Derek didn’t move for several long moments. Finally, he tentatively lifted his gaze. “You know that screening we did the other day?”

“Yeah. I thought nothing came of it.”

Derek hesitated. “I’m Compatible.”

Andrew just stared at him. Her eyebrows lowered as the full meaning of Derek’s words sank in. “Compatible.”

Derek nodded. “And Livingston wants me to activate it as soon as possible.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Please tell me you told him to get over himself.”

“I told him I’d think about it.”

“You’re actually considering it.”

Derek shrugged.

“Derek.”

“Well I don’t really have a choice, do I?” He raked a hand through his black hair. “Having a Compatibility on our side could turn this battle in our favor.” He looked up. “There’s a chance I could rescue Mom.”

“And you’re willing to turn yourself into a monster like the ICoNs to do that,” Andrew said quietly, indecisively. “Assuming Mom is even still alive…”

“They’re not monsters—” Derek insisted, perhaps a little too quickly. His mind turned to what Orly had said about her son, Patrick.

“You realize you’ll be a weapon, right? No matter what Livingston says, he’s going to head that direction the moment you finish transforming. Especially if it’s something intense.” Andrew crossed her arms and leaned back. “And once you bring it out, you can’t go back. If you don’t like your Compatibility, or if something goes horribly wrong, no one will be able to help you.”

“I know.” Derek rested his elbows on the table.

“And you’re a wanted man. If you go to the hospital, it’ll all be over. Another one of our upper circle captured.”

“I know…”

“Don’t do it, Derek,” Andrew said softly, but Derek detected the threatening edge to her tone. “We can get everyone back on our own. No mad science involved.”

“But that’s what we’re up against,” Derek said, anxiety and desperation pulling at his throat. “And would it be so bad? To be a Compatible? I’d still be me, wouldn’t I?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”
She shrugged. “On your Compatibility. And it’s not just whether you’re yourself or not. How will your decision to go through with it align with the rest of the Conscience? Would loyalty falter if you and Livingston dabble in the government’s insanity?”

Derek stared dismally at the table. “I don’t know. It’s just…I have a responsibility. To you, to Mom, to this huge network we’ve created—to do whatever I can to set things right.” His eyes narrowed. “And I helped plan those failed missions—and I hate sitting here unable to do anything. If there’s even a shred of possibility that I could repair some of those mistakes…”

Andrew frowned. “We’re all doing the best we can…”

“But what if it isn’t enough?” Derek met her gaze. “What if it will never be enough? Too much is at stake, Andrew. If we fall, who will take our place before the government wreaks utter destruction on peace and order?” He turned his face aside and narrowed his eyes at the floor. “We’re on borrowed time as it is. The more I think about it, the more I think it would be better to take the precaution…” His expression softened. “…It would be a small price to pay. You have all given so much, and that means a lot. An awful lot. What kind of leader would I be if I weren’t willing to make a few sacrifices myself?”

Andrew stared at him, her jaw tense. Her eyes burned, but she didn’t say anything more.

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