Day 016: Interests Aligned
Summary: On the way back from Coesbur, a cynic and an idealist discuss a tenuously shared vision on Unity Day.
Date: 2 June 2016
Related: Follows Doctor Knows Best, precedes First Unity Day, Part I
Cassandra Fiona 

The Way Back From Coesbur
A long trek through the forest.
16 Days After Landing

It's early morning on the sixteenth day since the dropship fell to Earth. It's also Unity Day, and the Delinquents who'd been on the mission of mercy and diplomacy are now headed back to the camp. It's a bit of a trudge for those who are walking, and at one point, Fiona dismounts to give her horse a breather, leading the reigns until she's alongside Cassandra. She's silent for a few minutes, content to let the air fill with nothing but the clip-clop of hooves, before finally she lets out a breath. "Hey."

Cassandra is back to her sullen self on the way back from Coesbur; for a while there, she seemed genuinely happy in the presence of the Grounders, although most assumed she was simply faking it for diplomatic purposes. There may have been a nugget of truth in that, but now her guarded disposition is pensive, reflective — she was sad to go — and it's more than the usual resting bitch-face she wears around camp. She slowly turns her head to crane Fiona's way when she speaks, giving her a nod. "Hey," she replies. "Didn't get to ask you earlier. How was the Summit?"

Cassandra's easy response is unexpected, but Fiona rolls with it quite willingly. "As well as can be expected, I guess." she says. "We've got the cease-fire we needed, and we should be able to keep the peace until the Ark can get into it with the clan leader or the Heda for the long term. At least, as long as nobody fucks it up."

"As long as nobody fucks it up," Cassandra repeats. This may be the reason she's more pliable to Fiona than expected, for the moment. She certainly carries animosity in her tone, but is directed elsewhere, and there is a heavy implication that she believes that someone will, unfortunately, fuck it up. Frowning, she glances back ahead, eyes flickering between the horse their diplomat leads, and the road ahead. "You reckon the Council and Cavaliers," meaning Ark Loyalists, likely. "Will be able to keep that peace?"

"I have no idea." Fiona says bluntly. "The summit was a band-aid. We all know that." Her mouth purses as she turns her head to regard Cassandra's profile. "You know… I've been meaning to talk to you. I've felt…well. When I went with Grey and Fey, I thought I was doing the right thing. But I didn't think about how it was making a decision for everybody and that wasn't right."

Cassandra slides her eyes over to Fiona's profile in return. Surprisingly, it seems that with the Political not bringing it up sooner, she has had an easier time of letting the matter go on her own — but with it out in the open again, an edge of suspicion kindles in her gaze again. She's quiet for a moment, mulling it over, then looks back towards the road. "You did what you had to do," she says, with slow deliberation. "I would have done the same."

"Yeah?" Fiona seems to take that in stride. "It still bothered me. You in particular made a point in…maybe not trusting me, but our interests aligned, and you backed me through a lot up to that point. I was bothered by the idea that I hadn't deserved it because of what I did. I've been wanting to say I'm sorry."

Cassandra looks uncomfortable; her shoulders are stiff. Combat of all kinds (insofar as the Ark allows for it, so mostly verbal) is something she has a lot of experience with, but apologies and attempts to appeal to her human nature are not. She hedges, pauses, then very quietly admits, lest someone else hear her: "I still voted for you to represent us at the Summit. Yeah, I was mad. But I got over it. And being mad don't do anyone no good." Thus speaks Cassandra, she who is always mad. She takes a breath, holds it, then tersely says, "We're good, Fi. Just don't… fuck it up. With the Grounders. That's your job."

"I wanna live, Cass. I promise you, I'm gonna do everything I can not to fuck it up." It would be earnest, and perhaps naively so, except Fiona's actually tired, and so the earnestness is replaced with weariness, which oddly makes it more sincere.

Cassandra smiles. Yes, she actually smiles, though it's of the sly, amused variety, and more than a little at the exhausted Fiona's expense. "Living's good," she replies, with a relaxed and, for once, more optimistic disposition than the diplomat displays. "Least down here it is. If we can manage not to fuck it up. And if the Ark can manage that, too, and doesn't come down and fuck it up for us." Her blithe brown eyes turn a touch more serious, and she turns to now fix them upon Fiona's with a hard gaze, gauging her reaction.

"Some will stay with the Ark. Some won't. I know that. But it serves our interest right now to appear as a united front. The first thing Oxfor picked apart was our apparent divisiveness." There's a shake of her head. "I know my parents won't want to be in the same role they had on the station. I don't know what that will mean for where we'll go."

'Parents'. That word catches Cassandra's ear, and has her briefly narrowing her eye before she tucks her hands in her pockets and looks back to the road ahead. "I voted for Quinn, too," she mentions. Likely Fiona knows this, as Quinn's was the first name she publicly shouted out her support for. The other two were only picked later, and in private. "You're opposites, you two. In some ways. But yeah, you still have my support. I know that's important to you. Politics, eh?" She stops for just a moment, staring intently at a very fascinating trail of ants ahead of them — fascinating to an Earth Skills enthusiast, anyway. Circles of them are mashed into the ground when horses obliviously step over them, but the other ants just keep going, over and around their dead comrades. Eventually, Cass snaps back to attention and resumes walking with Fiona and the rest of the company, lest she fall behind.

Fiona shrugs as she walks. "Politics are a tool. Not an endgame." At least not for her. "My mom and dad, they're history buffs, particularly the movements devoted to social equality. My dad? Made me memorize the I Have A Dream speech before I was eight." She pauses to consider the ants, but they don't hold the same fascination as the horses. "I just want things to be fair. And if they can't be fair, then they need to be as fair as they can be."

With a tilt of her head skywards, Cassandra informs Fiona with a light tone of voice, "Life isn't fair." She does not say this bitterly, but with blind acceptance. When you know the rules of the game, you can play them. "Never got why you got yourself locked up. Didn't solve shit. Ark's not twenty-century America. It just got you stuck down here." She looks like she's about to say more, but then she starts to hurry her pace, evidently to draw the conversation to a close and go find someone else to talk to at the front of the formation, or perhaps to simply scout ahead in privacy. "Happy Unity Day, Fiona," she offers over her shoulder.

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