Day 012: Like You Care
Summary: The teenagers at Coesbur discuss their need to find common ground with the Grounders. A painfully awkward heart-to-heart then follows.
Date: 19 May 2016
Related: Follows Doctor Knows Best, Guestright
Asher Cassandra Niner 

The Staheda's Hall — The Seat, Coesbur

This room is a sprawling, octagon-shaped room that acts as both the staheda's hall and a gathering place to discuss village issues and decisions. It's main access point is a pair of reinforced doors that swing inward invitingly. There is a large round window just above the doors which allows low afternoon light to stream in during the day. There are several windows along the angled, adjacent walls on either side of the doors, but their glass has been painted in a thin layer of colorful paint. Inside, the marble floors have lost their polish, but they still hold the ghost of a woman in a blue Roman-style dress, standing withe spear over the words Sic Semper Tyrannis.

The ceilings of the room are high, and the light emerges from a great firelit chandelier hanging at the center of the domed roof. Directly across the doors, on the opposite side of the room, is a series of short steps that lead to a massive chair sitting before a wall of stained glass.

A corridor leads off deeper into the structure off the back-right wall.

12 Days After Landing

If there's one thing a jury-rigged collection of space stations have no time for, it's stained glass windows — and, even if they did, the very last place they'd appear would have been the Skybox. It's like nothing Niner has ever seen before, and he gawks every time he's passed through. The tenuous 'I'll get along with you, if you get along with me' seems to be holding between Delinquents and Grounders, which leaves Niner with time on his hands. Of course, this means he's found his way back into The Seat. He stands near the wall of stained glass, scrutinizing the leaded seams holding the panes together.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Cassandra=stealth Vs Niner=alertness
< Cassandra: Failure Niner: Good Success
< Net Result: Niner wins - Solid Victory

Although by this hour Cassandra would normally be up bright and early at camp, and even just returning from the forest, the peculiar lighting around the Seat and the fact that their sleeping quarters are indoors mean she's just now coming down the stairs. She's clean, for a change, as are most of the Delinquents, and near unrecognisable at that when she steps into a blue-green beam shining town from a stained pane. It's to the infirmary she's heading; though she hasn't been as hard at work as Morgan and Silver, she's nonetheless been doing her part to assist in between breaks of fraternising with the enemy, perhaps to avoid drawing too much suspicion. "You've avoided killing anyone, I hope," she offers Niner by way of greeting when he spots her, as much as the shady creature appears to have been trying to creep down the stairs undetected. She smirks, more herself when Grounders aren't present.

Asher may be mightier — he tamed one of those massive Grounder horse-things, after all — and Faolan's, well, probably crazier, but Niner's been the group's self-appointed pair of eyeballs for most of the trip. There's no way he could tear a path through an entire Grounder village to get the Delinquents to safety, if things went sideways, but there's been a determined grimness about him, as if he'd still be willing to try. His head turns slightly as Cassandra starts down the stairs, but he doesn't turn to look at her until she's most of the way down. By way of answer, he starts cracking the knuckles on his scarred hand. POP. PA-POP. "You haven't been sucking a line of Grounder dick, neither," he replies. CRACK. His teeth show in a quick, not exactly friendly, grin. POP.

The delinquent skaigirl is used to all kinds of jibes, so when Niner throws one of those her way, she just smirks all the more, lips tightly pressed and a near-scoff forming in her throat. "Silver told us not to swap bodily fluids," she replies. "And how do you know I haven't?" Eyebrows raised, she steps right up to him and turns her head expectantly, seeming to take the comment as a challenge.

Swapping bodily fluids? If only. Asher has mostly been spending his time keeping an eye on the others. It seems that a chance to wash his clothes agrees with Asher, who looks somewhat less murderous when he isn't covered in dry splattered blood and grime. "Haven't what?" he asks as he happens upon the pair from the infirmary, apparently on one of his many strolls through the Seat, checking in on the various delinquents.

Cassandra steps right up to Niner — hello there, personal space, nice to meet you — and he tenses a little, broad shoulders seeming more squared, eyes sharper with wariness. "I think you got different priorities," he replies. He cracks his last two knuckles with thin, sharp pops, curls and uncurls his fingers, then digs his hands down into his pockets. "Way more snooping you can do before you gotta get your knees dirty. Besides—" He leans forward just a fraction, sniffs sharply at Cassandra. "You don't stink like one." His eyes dart past Cassandra to Asher when he enters, and he lifts his chin in silent greeting.

There's a familiar voice behind her, and then an upnod from Niner that confirms it; Cassandra turns, just in time to see a decidedly unfamiliar Asher approaching in clean clothes. That kills her smirk and challenge dead in the water since, well, as much as she never shies away from the theatrics to live up to her notoriety (which is generally the best way to shut people up), this happens to be someone who's marginally nice to her, most of the time. Her upright posture turns into a forcefully indifferent slouch when she turns to face him, and she quickly backtracks. "Been getting to know the Grounders," she summarises. "Socially." She slides her eyes back up towards the nine-fingered goon, with a silent, I will cut you threat in her gaze.

<FS3> Niner rolls Resolve: Good Success.

A tilt of his head is Asher's initial response as he eyes Niner and then Cassandra. "Shut it, Niner." Asher intones sharply. "You have no idea who is listening in this place. You talk shit about them here…" he trails off, but his meaning should be pretty evident. More importantly, who is this and what has he done with Asher? Saying such logical, sensical things about not insulting your hosts who could kill you all. He looks to Cassandra, arching a brow and then smirks just a bit at her. "Figured Fiona would be doing most of the socializing. Or Silver."

Maybe Niner's been cut enough times that the promise of murder in Cassandra's glare doesn't faze him. Maybe the height and weight he's got on her makes him cocky. Either way, he snorts deep in his throat at her, mouth curled in a silent bring it, cupcake. Back to Asher he looks, frowning defensively. "Yeah, yeah," he mutters — but he does sneak a glance around the room after saying it. First he gets a horse. Now he's talking sense. It's all madness. "You're going with Fiona to that gathering they're having, yeah?" he asks, looking at Cassandra again.

Cassandra's boots have numerous holes in them, and as far as fashion accessories go, she could definitely do better. But at least they're clean today, whereas they're usually caked in mud, and leave no prints when she scuffs them on the floor with teenage faux-apathy at Niner's question. "Wasn't invited," she drones, rolling her shoulders before turning to look at Asher. "No idea why. I'm one of the nicest people at camp. Love meeting new people. They love meeting me. Always got lots to talk about. It's like you lot don't know me at all." Whoever it is she's fooling with her implausible statements, she feigns being hurt at the mere suggestion that she is somehow less suited to being sociable than Fiona or Silver.

A level gaze is set on Cassandra and he offers a faint shrug, "I didn't get invited either, and I've been fucking pleasant as I can be. Apparently some of us aren't good enough to mingle." Maybe he too is a little insulted? Or he's just trying to sympathize. Poorly. Asher doesn't really do empathy.

Niner's not exactly buying the 'one of the nicest people' lines, given the dubious expression, but he also cocks his head a little to the side and studies Cassandra for several seconds before speaking. "Don't get what the vote was, except a fucking popularity contest. Even if you were gonna be there just to try and butter them up for your own good, there'd be two others there to keep an eye on you. You still talk better than most of us, even if sometimes it's bullshit." He'll take Mixed Compliments for 800, Alec.

If Cassandra was truly hurt, she doesn't stay hurt for long. "Maybe I should go anyway," she quietly considers, just loud enough for Niner and Asher to hear — or so she thinks, but the walls may have ears in this place. She gives her fellow 'fucking pleasant' delinquent a quirk of her eyebrows, perhaps extending a silent invitation. "What were you in for, Niner?" She knows perfectly well, her tone implies, and so she skips outright saying it. "Whatever happens when the people lining up to float you come down, hope you know peace with the Grounders is our best shot."

Asher moves over a few steps in Cassandra's direction, brow raised at her and then he comes to lean against a wall, taking some of the weight off his previously injured leg. Apparently that's still not totally healed. No one ever asks Asher what he was in for… of course, killing a guard tends to be sensational news in a colony of two thousand people. "Best bet is to make such good friends they take some of us on. One way or another, I'm not gonna stick around when the Ark comes down."

Niner squints suspiciously at Cassandra for a few moments before he shifts back a step, half-turns away, and folds his arms across his chest. His evasion of the question hinges on him clearing his throat. Subtle, he ain't. "Big fucking difference between two groups agreeing it's better to work together, and us ending up under their thumbs. None of you doing the talking give two shits about that." He paces away a few steps before he looks back at Asher. "Fuck going back to the Ark," he agrees.

Cassandra gives Asher a calculating smile, but says nothing until Niner reveals he's on the same page. "So what's your plan?" she asks, turning her head askance towards him even as he shows them his back. "You fight with the Grounders, fight with the Ark… then fuck off into the woods, right? Dunno how well you did in Earth Skills, but don't count on me to drop by and offer you some venison. Gotta pick a side." She jerks her head indicatively towards the door of the infirmary, where the sick are resting and those medtechs who didn't go to bed far too late may still be checking in on them. "I picked mine."

The calculating smile is noted and Asher gives Cassandra a quirked brow in reply. "She ain't wrong," Asher states quietly. "Can't live out here alone and the Gr…Trikru…" Asher tries the word out, butchering it slightly. "Seem like the safe bet here." Relatively speaking that is. Odds are there are no real safe bets. "I doubt Jaha will box all of us. Maybe what you did wasn't so bad, they'll just let you live out your life?" He apparently doesn't seem to think that's going to be his fate.

Niner has yet to move through the wilderness with anything approaching ease. As he tells it, 'all this green shit' keeps tripping him up. Earth: 1, Earth Skills: 0, Niner: -45 and counting. "Who said I wanted to fight with the fucking Grounders?" he snaps, glaring at the other two Delinquents with an agitated gesture through the air between them. He stops short, eyes moving immediately to the infirmary. When a Grounder murderizing crew doesn't immediately appear, he continues, somewhat calmer and quieter, "All I'm saying is we can work with these" There's a hitch as whatever he was going to say gets replaced with, "Grounders without rolling over for them like a…" His frustration peters out, as do his words, and he shrugs again. "Whatever. I'm gonna get something to eat." He turns and heads abruptly for the door.

Niner's outburst has Cassandra looking around the Seat, immediately on guard and wary that a Grounder murderising crew may indeed be on their way. She turns to fix him with a warning stare while they await their fate, but when he manages to calm himself down and then leaves in a huff, the tension in her posture alleviates and her shoulders fall lax. "Pretty sure I won that one," she says coolly to Asher, then turns to give him a look. "Sorry. We won that one." Credit where credit is due, even if she is a little cocky.

Asher actually didn't seem overly concerned about a Grounder murderizing crew. Either because he figured he could handle himself, or, more likely, because if they were to come there'd be nothing he could do. His gaze remains on Niner as he storms out and then flickers to Cassandra. "Never really feels like winning, with Niner." Whatever that means. "You you think we can actually find some way to have the Grounders side with us before the Ark gets down here?"

The scheming, sociable delinquent turns her back to the wall Asher's leaning against, shrugging as she folds her arms over her chest. "Their ways are not our ways," she replies, and it doesn't sound like a Cassandra thing to say; by her lofty tone, it's likely she's quoting someone. "Ark ways might not be better, but at least Ark ways are a thing we know. We got to learn the Trikru ways first. I told them so myself. Asked them to teach me." The last part is added more audibly for the benefit of any Grounders who may be listening, so that they needn't suspect the Skaikru of talking behind their backs — even if that's exactly what they're doing. She lowers her voice again to continue, giving her boots another scuff as she crosses her ankles before raising her gaze to meet his. "When the Ark comes down, if you and Quinn are leaving… I'm going with you."

This is sort of like having the same conversation with two different people for Asher. Luckily, he's gotten used to Cassandra's ways… mostly. So he thinks he can read between the lines here. He remains leaning against that wall, because let's face it, walls need someone to hold them up. "Uh huh…" he replies to the first bit. "Maybe they'll teach me too?" This is given more offhandedly, and he brushes past his own comment, gaze leveling off with Cassandra's. "Good. The others don't get you anyway. I wouldn't want to leave you back with them."

Cassandra scoffs at Asher, curling her lips in a grin with teeth bared like a steel barricade of mirth. Being nice is something she can only keep up for so long, and her humour, as she glances aside, spells keep out. "Like you care," she says. "You need me out there. I'm the Earth Skills nerd. The only one who isn't just dying to run back to the Ark for a big head-pat. I bet the ex-C never paid attention in class, either." Looking back to him, she juts her chin. "They might teach you how to ride a horse. That's where I'd start, if I were you. I asked one of their scouts to help me gather some medicinal herbs for their sick. Find common ground."

If Asher's phased by her change of attitude now. He just watches her with a relatively blank expression. "Maybe you haven't noticed…" he begins, glancing around, and then back to Cassandra, settling his typical glacial stare on her. "I'm not sneaky, and I'm not making plans based on who can do things for me. Plenty of people could be useful to me, but you don't see me makin' friends with em, do you?" He pauses, and continues to watch her, "I call it like it is, you want to act like I'm just using you for your Earth Skills, go ahead. I could give a shit about you being useful." To be fair, he's looked out for Cassandra more than once without asking for anything in return. Sort of. And then he just nods. "Sure, yeah… Common ground. I'll give that a shot."

If Cassandra's done things for Asher without asking for anything in return, like pulled him out of the water, she's probably rationalised it away. It was definitely a long con. Definitely. It got her a spear on the battlefield, right? Business as usual. But this line of thinking doesn't stop her chewing the side of her lip. "You're making friends with the Grounders," she points out quietly. "Well… you aren't not making friends with them, at least." And at this, she offers him another grin. "How come I never ran into your gang on the Ark, Asher? We could have been a team."

Asher arches at brow at the chewing of the lip, wondering if maybe, just maybe, he's gotten to her. Probably not. But maybe. "I'm keeping myself from getting killed, or getting everyone here killed by mouthing off," Asher retorts with a quick grin of his own and then he falls silent for a moment and shrugs. "I dunno. You kinda seemed like a handful. And I already had my hands full." He shrugs at her. "How come you never tried to come hang out with us? I mean, I'm not sure if we were your crowd really." A beat pause. "Were we?"

The overwhelmingly underwhelmed look Cassie gives him heralds her answer before she says it. "No," she admits, in a tone that implies the very notion would be ludicrous. "But that was back when I was a handful; these days I try to be the one doing the handling." She straightens her posture, cutting the wall some slack and escaping her slouch. "Not interested in getting handled by the Ark again. It isn't about who does or doesn't get floated, I just don't see why they should get to make that call." Radiating stubbornness, with the kind of fire that says she's putting no airs with her statement, she gauges his expression to check he's on the same page.

There's a smirk, perhaps just slightly sneer like really. She was too good for them, perhaps? "Do the handling?" he quirks a brow, but where others might make this comment obscene in some way, Asher instead seems to draw back a bit. "I don't need handling," he states flatly. "Not by Jaha or his pet guards, and not by you either." He pauses a moment, still leaning against the wall to keep it stable, "So if yer looking for an ally, you've got one here. If yer lookin' for someone to control, I ain't interested."

"I didn't mean you," Cass replies in the same flat tone, and her shoulders droop with exhaustion, but in trying to explain her meaning, she comes up short. "I like you." Apparently this puts him in a different category from everyone else. Apparently. But it's said with such a bullheaded stare, and she backtracks with a humoured grin, as always. "I still wouldn't mind a ride on that pony, though."

Asher is quick to anger, but apparently also quick to calm. He offers her a nod, and rubs at the back of his neck. Her flat tone seems to be taken in stride. "Oh you like me." He nods and offers her a shrug. "I guess I can deal with that," he supposes. Probably. Her backtracked grin earns a smirk from Asher. "I'm sure you would. I told you maybe. Still not sure what I'm getting out of that deal though. You get to fulfill a life long dream of riding Steak and New Boots and I get… what?"

Cassandra gives Asher a slow, bewildered nod of her head, but whatever awkward undercurrent there is to the conversation, it doesn't stop her from landing on her feet. "You get to fulfil a lifelong dream of watching me ride Steak and New Boots," she reasons, resuming her slouch. "It's a bargain deal. I'll be really happy about it. Tell everyone you're a really nice guy. Don't worry, they probably won't believe me."

Asher was really hoping for a gun or something. "Funny… that's not a dream of mine," he offers by way of rebuttal. There's an idle grin that creeps up across Asher's features. "And not only am I not a nice guy, I definitely don't want that as my reputation." He shakes his head and scratches his stubble free chin, apparently having taken advantage of their soap and warm water to shave as well. "Steak and New Boots is pretty particular. He may not like you."

"He liked you after you killed his owner," Cassie retorts, and she instantly regrets saying it. A glance is sent around to see if anyone might have caught wind of her words, and indeed, there's a young, skinny sort of Grounder near the entrance of the Seat standing there and observing the two Skaikru visitors warily. His eyes are narrowed, but there's no way this kid is a warrior, and it's unlikely he speaks English. Nonetheless, it's clear they're being watched, but this doesn't seem to be the only concern on her mind. She fidgets, absently scratching at her own very clean arm and furrowing her brow. "Sorry. Didn't mean to bring that up."

Her words might cut through him more than he'd have liked. Asher puts up a good front of not having cared about killing those Grounders on that day, but in truth, he feels remorse over his actions. And so her words cut him. On the inside. Where the feels are. Asher frowns just a bit, and then his gaze follows hers over to the small Grounder. There's a quick flash of emotion across his features and his hand tightens into a fist, but he goes no further with that line of thought. "Yeah… whatever. It's fine," he states flatly.

The Grounder retains Cassie's attention until finally, he moves off. He does so with a stare that says, I'm watching you and blatant mistrust for the Skaikru, whether or not he understood what was said. Upon letting her gaze drift back to Asher, and notably his curled fist, she starts to edge away. "I think I'll go see if I can find any more lobelia around the village. They might appreciate it," she says. "May we meet again."

Apparently Asher just now notices the fist himself and releases it, frowning just a bit, "Yeah… sorry." He rubs at his hands and sighs. He looks annoyed, though likely not with Cassandra so much as himself. "Don't go wandering off and getting yourself hurt, Cass." He clears his throat just a bit. "I… uh… I dunno, sorry."

And now Cassandra looks annoyed — she isn't really sure with what. It's possible she's beating herself up like he is, or maybe it's only external, with him, or maybe this whole situation. Probably all of the above. "It's fine," she insists, with a hand on her hip. "You didn't do anything."

The fact that Cassandra looks annoyed only seems to further annoy Asher. "I…" He pauses a moment. "Yeah, I know I didn't do anything," he sighs at that and rubs at his eyes. "Fuck," he mutters quietly. "You know, you are fucking confusing." A beat pause. "And annoying sometimes." Yeah! Teenagerness! "I'm not mad about you bringing that shit up about me killing that guy, ok? It happened, I did what I had to do. I always do what I have to do. That isn't gonna change. Doesn't mean that I like it. I'm not totally heartless, ok?" Because someone needs to know that… except no one can know that. "I mean… I'm mostly heartless, but not totally heartless." Cassandra is totally not the person to have this sort of outpour around.

Being called annoying only further annoys Cassandra — she lifts her brows in an excuse me sort of way and looks like she's about to snap, like she always does with whoever so happens to be in her path on any given day, but she gives Asher the benefit of the doubt and listens to what he has to say first. "I never said you were heartless," she says, visibly biting back her words and picking new ones carefully. "I get it." She says these last three words with a glare, near furious with being driven to admit it, but it isn't said dismissively; rather, with a forcefulness that could be translated into, I relate.

The lofted brow and death stare doesn't really seem to phase Asher much. She's never actually scared him in that way. He is breathing a bit heavily now, having worked himself up somewhat and seems to be focusing on calming down just a bit at the moment. "I know you didn't, I just…" he shrugs. "Everyone thinks it." And then comes those three words. Other people have a hard time with a different three words, but he knows these were hard for her. "Good," he says firmly. That's like saying, 'I understand that was hard for you and I appreciate it,' right?

Asher may officially be the worst at talking to girls ever. There are rumors he hasn't hooked up at all since arriving on the planet, and based on how he interacts with Cassandra, there is little wonder as to why. "So… yeah," he says, a little less confidently.

Cassandra is in a somewhat different boat to Asher. It's unlikely anyone could say for certain who it is exactly that she's been hooking up with, but… come on. It's Boner, right? That chick who hooked up with a teacher or something? Who hasn't she hit on at some point to get what she wants? "It don't matter what other people think," she says to him, giving a chin-jerking upnod to recuperate her tough-girl act. She stands at something of a distance now. "I got a feeling I don't need to tell you that."

Asher likely has never really bought into that whole Boner thing. If he has, he's never said anything about it, or tried to act on it with her. He hasn't even tried to offer a pony ride for a different kind of ride. That should be telling in its own right. "I've never really cared about that everyone else thinks. Not sure why yet, but what you think matters a little." He doesn't look at her when he says that, "Which, by the way, is annoying as fuck." Just to be clear about that.

Cassandra is a very smooth talker, when she wants to be — her interactions with the Grounders ought to be proof of that. But there's a limit to how much she can feel things, or think about things, of a variety that she strives very hard not to, especially when it isn't an act or a trade of some kind. So she dips her head to Asher, acknowledging his words with a look in the eye, and then she turns away… Just like that. She heads back into the village, whereupon it is her every intention to find some lobelias for medicine and to think, for the rest of the morning, about nothing but.

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