RP: A Friendly Face Who: Casper & Fiona What: A breakroom reunion. When: 22 April 2028 Where: Fawley Foundation Warnings: None Completion Status: Complete
Hardly two weeks ago, Fiona had been looking for a volunteer opportunity with the Belby Assembly, and now she was on her second day at the Fawley Foundation as their newest ministry liaison. She had contacted Kieran to let him know she was intending to take a position elsewhere, as promised, though she still felt a twinge of guilt about it. It was obvious that Belby needed more help, their positions less sought after than those with Fawley, but her heart was with the children more than the werewolves, and she thought she would be able to do more good there.
Noticing the time, Fiona stood from her desk, stretched, and then grabbed her bag before heading to the breakroom. There would be days she would end up eating lunch at her desk, she was certain, but today it felt important to her to eat in the breakroom, to rub elbows with some of her new coworkers.
When she entered the room, she spotted a friendly face almost immediately. Though he hadn't been her year in school, Casper had been only one year ahead of her, and so they'd shared a common room for six years. "Casper!" she said in delight. "I didn't know you worked here." Not that she'd spent much time catching up with old housemates in recent years. Casper looked up at his name being called and smiled, “Fiona!” He recognized her easily from their years at school, and was surprised to see her here. “What are you doing over here today? I’m not surprised you don’t know I work here, though, I’m the Communications Manager, but most of the time that means I’m the words behind the posts, not the face,” his smile softened in humility.
He had stepped out of his bullpen of Communications and Fundraising staff to grab coffee - he wasn’t much of a lunch person - and he sipped it now. Fiona's smile widened when he recognized her easily in turn. "They actually just hired me as a ministry liaison," she said, not surprised that he hadn't heard about her being hired on, just as she wasn't surprised she hadn't known he was the Communications Manager. "How long have you worked here?" she asked curiously. Did he know Becca well, she wondered. Her friend had been excited when she'd told her about the job offer, and even though they likely wouldn't directly interact on a regular basis, she was excited about working with her, too. His eyes widened in delight and surprise. “Oh! That’s brilliant! Welcome to the team!” His happiness was sincere, he remembered Fiona as diligent and caring - two qualities that made for a great addition to the work Fawley did.
“Oh, um,” he thought for a moment, “Pretty much since school, I started as an assistant with the marketing team, but I’d been volunteering for a couple of years before that, during summer holiday and such.” As a volunteer he’d mostly made copies and run errands and his last summer he’d been directly with the Communications team, using his free labour to write social media, take photos at events, and help with fundraising write ups. “Have you worked with Fawley before?” If she was a Ministry Liaison now, he assumed she had worked in the field before, but he wouldn’t know of any work she’d done with Fawley directly, having little to do with the actual Ministry work they did, and working even less with the kids. He saw them, of course, events and adoptions and all of that from the public perspective, but he didn’t have anything to do with the direct work with them. “Sit with me?” he invited, taking another long pull of his large coffee. "Thank you," she said softly, politely, to the welcome, having heard it more times than she could count since starting only yesterday. It was a warm and pleasant thing, but a bit overwhelming at times. The workers at Abris d'espoir were nowhere near as cheerful, though that could hardly be a surprise.
Fiona smiled as he answered, surprised and yet not that she hadn't known he'd gone straight to Fawley right out of school. It wasn't as though they'd been close, but people talked. Apparently, she just hadn't paid as much attention to the chatter. "Oh, just peripherally," she answered vaguely for the moment as he asked her to sit with him. "I'd love to!" It was just the sort of thing she'd come to the breakroom for, after all.
Once they'd sat at a table, Fiona opened up her bag and pulled out her lunch, hoping he wouldn't think her rude to eat while they caught up. "I actually went into the DMSS right out of school," she told him, elaborating on her earlier answer. "It was the very early days of it, of course, so lots of trial and error." She realized rather abruptly that he must not have heard of her own personal crises, though she had no intention of bringing them up. That was a great conversation ender, after all. “Oh, Merlin, that’s great - they do amazing work. And you must’ve been so integral to getting things up and running over there, wow,” he was totally sincere in his answer. Honestly, he’d always been a volunteer and always cared about his causes, but he couldn’t imagine doing the work of the Social Services. Even some of the work here at Fawley was totally beyond him, he knew that about himself.
“So what brings you here instead of the Ministry?” People moved between the nonprofit world and the government all the time, especially because skills transferred across those worlds so well, but they usually had a good reason.
He tucked into his coffee again, hoping she wouldn’t find it weird that he wasn’t eating lunch. He just wasn’t really a lunch eater. Or much of a breakfast eater, either, though he’d have a protein bar after his morning run, and then lots of coffee and water as he worked, and then a good dinner... He was a bit odd, come to think of it. Her cheeks tinged a pretty pink at his words, and she shrugged one shoulder a bit bashfully. "Oh, I don't know about all that, but I was among the first few groups of workers. I wasn't nearly so high on the totem pole so as to influence how the department was run," she said with a small shake of her head. The reality was that she'd had more influence than she realized, but a lot had happened between then and now.
It felt so strange to talk to someone she'd known over half her life but had fallen out of contact with after school and not know whether they knew about her failed marriage. It was a great way to doom a conversation to awkward silence, so she fully intended to avoid bringing it up if she could. "I took an extended leave of absence after a bit of upheaval in my personal life and decided not to go back. I did some work with the shelter my aunt owns and runs, but it wasn't the right fit either. I love working with children, even though I don't actually interact with them much through my role, and Becca's always spoken so highly of Fawley. I think it's going to be a great fit." She realized that she was starting to answer as though he were interviewing her for the job, which was silly, and she mentally chided herself to relax a bit. Casper’s smile faded a bit as she spoke, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” he answered with concern, but he didn’t pry. He wasn’t the sort to dig too deeply into such things, unless he really knew someone. He knew all too well how personal falls could just overwhelm a person’s life, and he also knew he wouldn’t want people to pry into his own history with those things.
“I’m glad you found a place here,” he landed on as a response, and it was true, if simple. “Oh, Becca... Rebecca Ollerton? She works at the Home, right?” He didn’t have too much contact with the staff from the Fawley House, but he knew Becca from some of the publicity events they’d done with the kids. Fiona appreciated, more than she could say, that he let it go with such a simple statement of empathy. It wasn't something she wanted to talk about most days, but especially not now with a new colleague and old friendly acquaintance.
"As am I," she said simply before taking a bite of her sandwich. When he landed on the correct Becca, she smiled and nodded her head, finishing the bite in her mouth before saying, "Yes. She works directly with the children regularly, and I've no doubt she's fantastic at it. We've been friendly acquaintances since my Ministry days after she got on with Fawley." It probably wasn't pertinent information that Becca was now dating Fiona's cousin. “Yes, she does, the toddlers I believe. We speak every so often at publicity events - fundraisers and such when the children are involved.” Fawley didn’t often ‘use’ the kids in that way, but sometimes there was a press presence at the kids’ events, and in that case, Rebecca and the other caregivers were of course present.
Thank goodness, too, as Casper didn’t know what he would do with all those children otherwise. He was deeply ashamed that he felt he’d be rather useless with their care.
“That’s nice that you two kept in touch,” meaning after Fiona left the Ministry.
“How are you liking it so far?” he asked, wondering just how long she’d been here just yet. That sounded about right, and it would also play into how fantastic Becca was with Evie, if what Hans had told her was true, and she had no reason to doubt her cousin. "Isn't she lovely? She's dating my cousin, and I have high hopes she'll be officially family before too long," she said, apparently unable to keep that tidbit to herself much longer. She knew Hans and Becca hadn't been dating that long in the grand scheme of things, but she also knew Hans was an all-in kind of guy. If he wasn't serious about her, she imagined he'd have ended things by now.
"Oh, it's only day two, so it's hard to say definitively, but I quite like it. It seems like the right fit, all said. I'll be able to do good social work, and that's what matters most." And not have to battle her own demons every time she turned around. She'd done enough battling and was desperate for a bit of peace now. “Oh, how brilliant!” he exclaimed, how nice for her - to have her friend dating family, and for Fiona to like Rebecca so much that she liked the prospect of her marrying Fiona’s cousin. “I’ll have to absolutely give her a good natured ribbing the next time I see her.” He thought for a moment. “In fact, I think I have the perfect opportunity over holiday.”
He put on his work face, though entirely not on purpose. “Do you like carnivals?” he asked, suddenly. The fundraiser that Shingleton Holdings was throwing on behalf of Fawley had grown from a petting zoo for the kids into a full-on Summer Carnival, replete with rides, booths for food and candy and games, shows, and (of course) the petting zoo. Casper was sure to have his hands full with it all before too long, and though it wasn’t Fiona’s area, he thought she’d be a great addition to the team for the event. If she wanted. He wouldn’t pressure her, of course. Fiona's head tilted a bit when he seemed to have hit on something, and she wondered if she ought to ask what it was. Before she could, however, he was asking about carnivals, and her brows furrowed a bit. "I do, actually," she confirmed, even as her stomach churned automatically. Desmond was long put away for his crimes, though, so whatever anxieties she had associated with carnivals should be overcome, and she was determined to make it so.
"Why?" she asked, wondering briefly if it were a come-on. But no, it had never been like that between them in school, and she couldn't imagine he'd be interested in her now. It did make her realize that it was time for a bit of self-evaluation as far as the dating scene was concerned. When she told him she liked them, he lit up. “Wonderful! We’re doing a whole Summer Carnival - well, Shingleton Holdings is, on our behalf, as a fundraiser. A few of the staff have joined the committee with Holly Shingleton and me to get the event going. Would you like to join? I’m sure your expertise would actually be a huge help to us, as so far no one has joined who has worked with the Ministry, nor who might know anything about working with the kids themselves,” he added the last bit sheepishly. He just sat at a desk most days, but he really should actually work with the kids sometimes, right?
“Would you like to join? You don’t have to volunteer at the actual event just because you’re helping on the planning committee...” He made sure to reassure her about that, because some people - himself included - wouldn’t be great at the actual event, but were instrumental in planning them. His enthusiasm was rather adorable, reminding her of Spencer, particularly those first couple months after she'd finally been able to take him home. Not that she viewed him on the level of a dog, but the adorable, enthusiastic puppy comparison seemed apt. It reminded her a little bit of Jer… No, not Jeremy. Every once in a while, she still thought of Scorpius by the name he'd first told her, which seemed a bit silly.
"Sure, yeah, it sounds like it should be fun," she answered, her smile showing her amusement a bit more than she'd have preferred. "And we'll see about volunteering for the event itself. That would probably be fun, too, but certainly an entirely different sort. When is it supposed to be? And how often do the committee meet?" She supposed that would weigh heavily into whether or not she'd be able to join in. Though she knew she would go above and beyond, she didn't want to burn herself out, so she knew she would need to carefully consider any additional responsibilities before fully committing to them. His eyebrows hit his hairline in excitement at her answer. “Yeah? Awesome! Holly has been great, I’ll have to let her know. And I bet we could rope Rebecca in, too.” Certainly having someone who actually worked at the Home would be for the best.
“Oh, well, we haven’t actually met yet, though Holly mentioned meeting - virtually or in person, or a hybrid most likely - every two weeks?” And as for when the event was... “And well, as to that, we don’t have a date yet. The World Cup in August puts a bit of a hamper on us, honestly, so maybe late July? It’s sort of in Shingleton Holdings’ court on that one, as they’re the ones signing the checks...” He gave her a sheepish look. “I’m really just the mouthpiece, I rarely get to make any actual decisions,” he admitted, and then chuckled at himself in a low tone. "I have little doubt it won't take much to get Becca on board," Fiona offered, amusement still coloring her tone. How fortunate for Fawley to have such an enthusiastic marketing manager!
Chewing a bite of her sandwich, she thought on his answers, nodding slowly. Biweekly meetings shouldn't intrude on her regular duties, she supposed, and wasn't it a good idea to show herself as an enthusiastic team player, as well? "Ahh, but the mouthpiece gets all the information first, doesn't it? You're the one in the know about the decisions! But I understand that not all the decisions have been made as of yet. I'd love to work on the project, though. You'll let me know when the meetings are scheduled?" Casper’s smile softened in happiness and sincerity. “Of course I will,” he answered, as if it were a foregone conclusion. Perhaps they were meant to run into each other - maybe she was the final piece of the Summer Carnival puzzle! Fate was a thing, after all, even professionally. Look at him at Fawley, for example.
“I should have more information soon,” he added, taking the last drink of his coffee, now cold, but he hadn’t noticed.
“I should...” He thought, hesitated. “I should get back.” He didn’t really take full breaks, just too much to do everyday. “But I’m really glad you’re here.” His tone was honest, full of welcome. “I’ll let you know? And see you around?” he asked, kind of hoping to run into her at lunch more often. Maybe he’d start spending a little more time in the break room... She was such lovely company. He stood and went to pour himself a tea to take back to his office on the top floor. "Oh, all right then," Fiona said, surprised by the mild wave of disappointment that he was heading out already. But she didn't know how long he'd already been on break before she'd arrived in the room, and she wasn't about to encourage him to neglect his work.
"You will, definitely," she promised. Casper was warm and sweet, and she needed more of that in her life, even if just in a colleague. Her mind drifted to Jamie, but she shut the thoughts down. That was just too messy a situation to try to sort through.
Besides, she had a carnival to help plan now! It would be the perfect distraction, she rather thought.