Day 067: Oxytocin
Summary: After a wild night of the reunited Hundred-survivors drinking and dancing by the lake, the girls catch up on a morning after hangover, and talk about boys.
Date: 4 August 2016
Related: Follows Taken by the Mountain and Sneaky Teen Lake Party.
Cassandra Madelyn Max 

Lake Arkadia — the Wilderness
Surrounded by breathtaking mountains and rolling foothills, the Lake Arkadia — or known as Lake Audo to the Trikru — is a sprawling, crystalline body of water that joins the Potomac watershed. It is encompassed in low grasses and young alder trees. The forests start to thicken to the west, where the rocky peaks of this small mountain range poke up out of the groves of hemlock and cedar. Following along a newly flattened path is the road to Camp Jaha. The Skaikru city is what remains of the crashed Alpha station. The enormous ring stands vertical some many hundred feet in the air, and it has already begun to be salvaged for materials.
67 Days After Landing — 4th of August, 2149

It's been only two months since the Hundred landed on the Earth, and already many of them seem to be harking back to their ancient Grounder roots. Some habits are learned, but others are more primal, and Cass Bonheur, a juvenile specimen of the Homo sapiens basicbitchicus subspecies, finds herself in tune with her long-dormant instincts as she makes her way across the grass with her shoes in hand, her damp and tangled hair swept messily to one side. This ancient rite of passage, commonly seen after mass courtship rituals, may otherwise be known as 'the Walk of Shame'. Fortunately, Cassandra has no shame, being something of an anomaly for an omega female. Her smirk is coy and satisfied as she steps on over a passed out drunk delinquent, and she heads to what remains of the crate-stack 'buffet table' to find what soy-snacks she can claim for a bite of breakfast. The sun has not yet risen, but the sky is growing lighter as rosy-fingered dawn creeps at the fringes of the horizon.

Sitting crosslegged on a large, flat rock and leaning back on her hands, Madelyn watches the sunrise. She raises her eyebrows at the surprise Cass, giving her a nod. "Wanna bring that bowl over here?" she asks, with a cant of her head. She fully expects Cassandra to say something rude and walk away, but hope springs eternal.

Cassandra has two rules to live by in life:

1. Take no shit.
2. Never turn down a party.

It is for this reason that she does not say anything rude to Madelyn, for even in the aftermath, it's worth taking a break every now and then to have a good time. She carries the bowl of soy-crisps over one-handed, boots still dangling in the other, and shoves the snacks into the party-planner's grasp before she plops herself down. Discarding her shoes, it's then only a matter of seconds before her leaning back turns to a fully horizontal recline.

"Some party," says Cass, staring up at the sky.

"Glad you had a good time," Madelyn says, taking a few soy crisps in her fingers and popping them in her mouth. "I kinda want to do it again. People seemed to really like it." She stretches out her legs, her bare feet covered in grime from the night of running around barefoot.

"Yeah, and no one even got punched," Cassandra points out. Her eyebrows are raised, tone surprised at this very fact. Not only did she not end up having to assault anyone, but her usual partner-in-crime, Asher Kholmin, was on his best behaviour too. Even Silas and Quinn were getting along… not to mention her and Kai. "I take it you didn't have much time to party in the Mountain. Makes you feel better, we didn't either, down here. Or I wouldn't know. I wasn't invited probably." She sits up only for a moment, reaching for the crisps.

"I'd never actually been to a party before. I kind of hid from the Unity Day party," Madelyn admits, rolling her ankles. "I thought Tink was gonna punch whatsherface, but that somehow got cooled off. I left kinda early when Silas got pukey, though. Wanted to make sure he was okay."

At the mention of Silas getting pukey, Cassandra smirks. "He's good fun when he's drunk, even if he can't hold his liquor," she surmises. "So I take it you and him…" Holding a soy-crisp between thumb and forefinger, she forms a circle between them. With her other hand, she then pushes a finger into that circle and out again several times, in a crass but simple gesture. Then she bites into the crisp, picks another, and nods her head in silent approval.

Madelyn's eyes go wide for a second and she looks away quickly. "Oh," she says, cheeks burning, fiddling with a soy crisp in her fingers.

Cass crunches on those soy crisps, looking at Madelyn expectantly and waiting for a fuller answer. It would be rude to talk with her mouth full, anyway.

"Not… not last night. He was really sick and I… I wanted to make sure he was okay. Made him drink water. Rubbed his back. Made sure he didn't puke in the tent," Madelyn says softly, still staring out at the lake.

"Oh," says Cassie, echoing Madelyn's own words. Another nod of her head, and she munches on in silence, licking her lips to savour the familiar taste of flavoured nothingness before continuing. "Well, it's good to have someone to look out for you, Mad Petrie. Even the Mad can use that bit of sanity now and then." She dusts her fingertips into the grass, then lowers them to inspect her leather armour, which she is never without. "When he's feeling better, I reckon I could use some repairs."

Madelyn looks over. "Did… did you and he…?" She doesn't make a crude gesture, but her meaning is clear.

<FS3> Cassandra rolls Resolve-1: Failure. (2 1 6 1 6 5 6)

Cassie gives a slow raise of her eyebrows upon Madelyn's question. For a long moment it looks like she might not deign to answer, leaving the poor party-planner to wonder endlessly in silence, but then she lets out a scoff through her nostrils, and finally bursts into laughter.

Cassie shakes her head. "No," she states simply. "Nope. No. He's too into leather for my tastes, anyway. Girl's got limits."

"Just was… just was curious," Madelyn says softly, finally eating the sad little soy-crisp she'd been fiddling with. "I don't have very good luck with boys."

"Ain't all that hard," says Cass, known for her notorious lack of class. "Show a little skin. Say, 'hey, wanna head behind the bushes?' Guys like it when you're direct. 'Course, some like it when you're indirect, in which case you gotta squirm a bit and make 'em squirm in return. You're probably plenty good with the boys, you just don't realise it. I bet he's watched you plenty bending over."

Her fingers rustle in the crisp-bowl some more, and finally she offers some more useful, less galling advice. "You got stuff in common, right? Both 'seamstresses'. So you just go over and be like, 'Hey, can you help me with these stitches?' And then you make the eyes and shit. Or ride his horse."

The horse-riding part may be a bit more specific to Cassie's situation than Mad's.

"No, I mean… we've…" Madelyn blushes furiously. "But I don't know how… into me he is. He's got a lot of layers of… you know… mask in between him and the world and I don't know if…" She shakes her head. "I'm sure there's someone else he likes more. There always is."

Cassandra hitches her shoulders and shrugs. Here she has far less useful advice, and not at all encouraging. "There probably is," she concurs. "That's life though. Keep his attention while you can and make the most of it. Try not to overthink it. He'll probably fuck you over eventually, so better you're ready for when it's coming."

"I know. People like girls who are prettier, stronger… crazier. I should be used to it, but I'm apparently still mushy and gross," Madelyn sighs, laying down on the rock and fiddling with some moss.

A decent person would probably reassure Madelyn that she's not mushy and gross at all, and is in fact quite pleasant to look at and be around. But Cassandra is not a decent person.

"It doesn't actually matter how pretty or strong or crazy you are," is all she can offer. "People fuck you over no matter what. You could just ask him if he's fucking someone else, not that I would. But I'm not a mushy romantic like you are." For what it's worth, Cass is probably lying… to herself.

"I know he's not," Madelyn says, looking over at Cass. "But that doesn't mean he's not just… you know… waiting for the right time with someone else." She arches her back, stretching a bit. "I was hung up on someone who was in love with someone else for so long that I didn't notice there was someone who was actually into me, and he died for me. He took my place when they came to take people away to suck their bone marrow out." Why is she confiding in Cassandra? Oh. Wait. Because she assumes the best in people. Hah. "I'm an idiot, basically."

Cassandra nods her head in agreement as Madelyn speaks, both as to her estimated intelligence and as to someone having died for her. "Sounds like you're doing just fine with the boys," she surmises. "What's fun about playing the victim here, Mad?" She sends Madelyn a look. "Take my advice: it's great that you're planning parties and shit, and worried about boys, but eventually something down here is gonna try to kill you. It could be a psycho wanting bone-marrow or it could be a giant panther. You find the people who don't want to kill you right now, or who'll help you not get killed, and you stick with 'em. Is Silas that person? Good. Now stop stressing about that."

Madelyn shrugs uncomfortably. "Maybe what I'm looking for isn't… isn't real or realistic. I just… I'd love to have someone who looks at me like… like… you know. How…" Words are hard and she gestures vaguely. "You know?"

Cassandra looks at Madelyn. It probably isn't how every girl secretly dreams of being looked at — more of a nightmare, really. The ex-Solitary-confined delinquent isn't great with people when she isn't deliberately making an effort to manipulate them, which is partly why it was once deemed it's better off for everyone if she's isolated. Her expression is bland, stare flat and cynical, mouth drawn thin.

"Like they're high on oxytocin?" the Ice-Queen helpfully suggests. "Blowjobs work wonders for that."

Madelyn nearly chokes on her soy crunchy bit. "I… that's… that's not what I…" She turns away again. "I don't want someone to look at me like they're high on painkillers, but that… isn't a bad description of…" she can't even continue. She coughs awkwardly.

Cassandra takes her own opportunity to munch on some leftover soy-crisps while Madelyn recuperates. They're a little soggy from the rain, but they have all the nutrients a healthy, genetically-engineered human needs to thrive — or at the very least, survive. The flavouring isn't that bad once you're used to it, and the oily, protein rich flavour is just the thing for a post-booze-night breakfast.

"Oxytocin, not oxycodone," Cassandra clarifies. "The love chemical. Helps in bonding. For example:" Normally this would be a no-no; unless she's punching you in the face, Cass doesn't typically touch people unasked. But she lays a free hand on Madelyn's thigh, then turns to look her in the eye. "Physical contact triggers its release in your pituitary gland. Makes you tingle. Even between friends and family, but yeah, moreso after sex. Hand-holding, tight hugging, all works." She raises a hand, palm up, offering to let the seamstress test her theory. "You want Silas to look at you 'that way'? Blow him. I'm not kidding. That shit isn't complicated. You think Asher would let me ride his horse if I didn't cuddle up to him now and then?"

"That's… that's different," Madelyn says, sitting up. "Forget I said anything. I'm just… I'm just an idiot," she mumbles.

"If you say so," says Cass. She picks through the soy-crisp bowl for a little longer, but eventually loses interest and passes it back to Madelyn, indicating she can finish the rest. She then resumes sprawling out on the grass, rolling onto her back.

"And you're an idiot if you think that blowjobs are the only reason Asher hangs out with you," Madelyn says quietly, picking up a couple more of the crisps.

Being called an idiot draws an exhale of amusement from Cass. "Well they're not the only reason," she admits. "There are at least two more." There are no prizes for guessing where her fingers then lazily point. "We're animals, Mad Petrie. It's simple. Animals who've been kept in cages too long."

"But even some animals mate for life," Madelyn retorts. "I… I want something like my parents had. They were best friends and they loved each other and…" She starts to tear up. "Maybe they were freaks. I don't know."

Despite a reputation for being unfeeling, which she does wonders to reinforce, there's a moment where Cass sends an awkward glance to Madelyn when the seamstress starts to tear up. She clearly feels bad. "I'm sorry," she says. "About your folks."

Max comes wandering along from somewhere along the lake shore. It's the morning after the party and he seems to have changed into something less damp at some point between then and now. Though where he was off wandering to is anyone's guess. Seeing Madelyn and Cassandra, he wanders in that direction.

Madelyn looks over. "Thanks," she says, earnestly, scrunching up her toes as she scoots down the rock to dip her feet in the water. "I… I try not to think about them," she admits, guiltily.

Fresh from her so-called Walk of Shame, Cass hasn't changed her clothes, but her shoes do sit in a neat pile beside her. The rest of her is still damp, hair swept to one side in a tangled mess.

"Probably for the best." Cassie nods, turning her gaze back up towards the fluffy clouds dotting the dawning sky. Seeing Max approaching, she lifts up a hand and rolls to her side to send him a wave.

Max lifts a hand to wave to Cassandra in return as he gets closer, until he's near enough to not have to raise his voice to greet them. "Hey," he says to the pair. Plopping down on the ground, he wraps his arms around his knees comfortably and says, "I did not get nearly drunk enough last night."

Madelyn is still in her red sun dress from last night, her shoes abandoned long ago. She sits on a large, flat rock with her feet in the water. She doesn't notice Max until he's up close and she turns, offering him a smile. She gets up to sit closer to Cass and Max on the ground, bringing the bowl of snacks. "There's still booze left if you want to fix that," she tells him. "Or we can save it for the next party."

"Next party, if there is one, we need to play that…" Cass makes a vague hand gesture, shaking her fist. "You know. The dice game. The one Cam and Lip came up with." Pushing her dirt-caked toes mindlessly in the grass, more fascinated by crawling insects than disturbed by them, she adds, "Was just telling Mad Petrie how weird it is that no one got injured this time."

"Nah," Max says to Madelyn with a shake of his head. "It's morning after, now. It'll wait 'til next time." He chuckles then and turns a bit so that they form a small triangle. Glancing over at Cassandra he says, "Yeah… I liked that game. Though I think it needs a little tweaking to keep moving a little bit, give more people a chance to get into it." Then he says, "Considering the booze and the mud — I'm surprised."

"I think people were too antsy for a game anyway. People got really drunk really fast and everyone fell on everyone else's genitals," Madelyn says, dryly. "Next time, I think."

The comment makes Cassie smirk. "Now you're getting it," she tells Madelyn. Animals. She raises her head back towards Max, musing, "Was expecting Kai Adams to start a fight. Or Asher, to be honest. Or Silas. Or Quinn." A brow is raised towards him when she mentions the last name.

"Sounds painful," Max says to Maddy, though it's with a sidelong grin. Then he chuckles at Cassandra and says, "I guess no one pissed her off enough to swing the first punch last night. It was actually pretty quiet. We danced for a while and eventually wandered off. She's not much for parties."

"It was cute," Madelyn says softly, bumping her shoulder against Max's. "I tried to get Silas to dance but he puked."

"Noticed," Cassie replies to Max, giving a grin. The sound of a distant pheasant's croon makes her perk up, drawing her eye to the rising sun. With some difficulty, she then pulls herself up to her feet. "I got some hunting to do. Can't live on soy-crips forever."

Max lifts his eyebrows and says, "Ouch. How's he doin'? Feelin' it this morning?" He chuckles just a little bit, apparently having no sympathy for hangovers. The sound of the pheasant draws his attention for a moment, glancing in the direction Cassandra does by reflex. Then he nods and says, "Good Hunting, Cass." He gives Madelyn's shoulder a bump in return.

"Have fun murdering birds," Madelyn says with a wry grin and a wave. "I think he's finally asleep. He had a rough night," she says to Max, shaking her head. "I made him drink water. He was not pleased."

"Animals," Cassandra reminds Madelyn, meeting her gaze for just a second too long after she's risen to her feet. "And I will. Thanks." With that she turns, picking up her shoes, and trudges off towards the woods surrounding the hills.

Max lifts a hand to wave to Cass as she heads off to go hunt pheasant. Then he turns back to Maddy and chuckles, "Poor guy. I'm sure he'll make it." Then he glances back after Cassandra before asking "Animals?"

Madelyn pinches the bridge of her nose. "She was going on about how humans are just animals and something something blowjobs as currency something something."

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