Revolving the skinned rabbit around on the spit, Cassidy felt her rowdy stipulating stomach growl in hope of being full for the first time in months. She had eaten, but it was never enough. And now, with the rabbit gently twisting over the heated flames and the aromas of meaty, thick and smoked food swirling in the air, her stomach wasn’t going to clench back.
As she was about to lift it off the heat her mind flicked back to Riker. Surely he was hungry too? But one tiny rabbit wasn’t enough to feed two people. She sighed an exasperated breath, this wasn’t good. Moments past before she had a decision, it wasn’t going to be the best meal she had experienced in a while but it was food nether the less.
The door scraped on its ancient hinges causing Riker to stir on the far wall away from Cassidy. “Riker…” She whispered, gently tip toeing over towards his sleeping body. “Wake up…” After many more efforts it was clear to see that he wasn’t getting up for anything.
Sitting in the same location as she was with the rabbit about an hour earlier, the stick in her hand twisted into the lovely smelling soup which she had quickly created. To her left was her rucksack which was bulging with aromatic plants and other kinds of remote vegetables. It was times like these that Cassidy appreciated her brain for being so obliging when it wanted to be.
“Hey” Cassidy snapped her head up in alarm; she was still not used to the company. She jumped a little when she saw Riker; he appeared to be very heavy-eyed and drained. Not surprising after the amount of sleep he’d had. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were cooking I would have helped” he apologized; he took a seat on the ground opposite Cassidy. “I did try to wake you up but you were going to wake up in your own time.” She chuckled, recalling the expression of the snoring stranger in her living space. “What did you make?” He asked her peering over the rim of the bowl. Quickly Cassidy flicked the stick she was using to mix it upwards so a rapid splash of vegetable stock smeared down his face. She laughed at his expression and he chuckled at his own foolishness. “I probably shouldn’t have done that…” He laughed shaking his head.
Once they had placed their bare bowls down they sat there, conversing away to each other like they had known one another for years. “So what about your family?” Cassidy asked him, he frowned in sudden distaste to the conversation. He knew the inquiry was only out of inquisitiveness and to the fact that he had queried her on the subject only hours before.
“My brothers, were my best friends… they still are.” He mumbled as if he was convincing himself that they were still there, just not close to him. “My sister Rydel, she shared a special bond with me. We were the eldest so we worked together to keep the younger siblings in line.” The smile which tugged at the corners of his mouth was unavoidable as his whole expression lit up at the mention of his family. Cassidy observed this and saw the small light flare up in the pupils of his eyes which crinkled slightly at the corners. He cared about those people a lot more than he cared about himself. “My mother was a little stressed out with 5 kids, my dad too. But when the colonisation started; I don’t know what happened, I went back to where we had lived for 8 years and no one was there, they couldn’t have forgotten me. I just hope they got out alive.” By the time he had finished his sentence Cassidy could barely hear him as his voice drifted off. However she understood how much that could damage a person, to lose everything you love in just one day. It was now a way of life for the average human. “If there were enough humans to even make an average out of…” Cassidy huffed to herself silently. The thought was wicked and sour but she had a point.
“If they had gotten though everything, which I’m not saying they haven’t, but if they did; I’m sure they would have been proud of you.” She told him reaching out and gently patting his back for support. He looked at her in perplexity “Why would they be proud of me?” “For not giving up” She whispered looking down and playing with her slender nail-bitten fingers. “I wish I could still have faith like that…like I knew William was still alive.” This time it was Riker who patted Cassidy on the back; he smiled sadly at her and turned his entire body towards her. “He is alive, he’s fighting remember? He’ll find you.” Cassidy sniffed away the majority of her doubts, but some remained. The sincerity in Riker’s eyes wasn’t enough to convince her entirely. “And if he isn’t?” she asked quietly, Riker shook his head in disapproval “No what if’s.” He told her sincerely, he meant every word.
It was in that moment when Cassidy made her decision; she wasn’t going to kill him. This man had just enough hope to transfer it to Cassidy, right then and there she changed the way her mind was processing all its devastation and grief. Hope might just pull them both through this, but only if they worked together.