If the first interaction with Quinn hadn’t made it clear that she was the ringleader of the small group that had been dumped into daycare despite all of them clearly of the opinion that they were old enough to be fine by themselves, the next few minutes easily showed that she was the one running things. Mostly due to the fact that she was the one speaking the most, while the two others were content to follow along with whatever she was saying.
Molly and Noah. Easy enough to remember, along with Quinn.
For a short while, Cassidy was stuck as the center of attention. Not my favorite, considering that her own maturity far exceeded that of these three, and she wasn’t particularly interested in spending time with them until Audrey returned. But it’s not like Cassidy could go anywhere, and Margot had already stuck her with them.
So she answered Quinn’s questions, pulling the answers from her younger self instead of trying to keep track of a bunch of lies. Twelve year old Cassidy, talking about her middle school experiences. Thankfully, none of them went to her old school. It would have been all kinds of awkward to try to explain why they hadn’t met her before. Talking about hobbies and academics was all well and good, as she could easily rely on her memories for all that. However, she wasn’t ready in the slightest for the conversation to shift towards boys.
“Umm,” Cassidy hesitated. She was already blushing. Despite being in college, it was just one of those topics that always brought on a bit of awkwardness, whether it was family asking or teenagers she’d literally never see again. “No, not really. I mean, I’m just starting classes this fall.” While it was humiliating to be viewed as a twelve year old without a trace of doubt on anyone’s face so far, she’d take the advantages where she could. She was going to call it a summer birthday and act like she hadn’t started middle school yet.
Quinn cocked her head to the side. “Really? No cute boys at the pool? No crushes on any of your sister’s friends? Older boys are hot.”
Cassidy had mentioned Audrey during the get-to-know-you interrogation, and it’s not like Cassidy could Audrey her my younger sister when Audrey was the one who would be picking her up. Even without Audrey around, Cassidy was still telling everyone that Audrey was the older one. “No crushes,” she affirmed. Technically Audrey’s friends would be datable with there just being a one year gap, but Audrey mostly hung out with girls that were as bad as her. Any boys that hung around would already be attached to one of them. Also, hooking up with anyone Audrey knew was practically begging for Audrey to get inappropriate dirt on Cassidy somehow.
“Huh. Well, what do you think about Noah, here?”
‘Oh, God.’ Not only could Cassidy feel her own heart race at being put on the spot when she was actually way too old to remotely consider someone Noah’s age as a viable partner, but she could also see that Quinn’s little suggestion had the boy blushing as well.
It had been years since Cassidy dealt with no-win questions like this, if she discounted Audrey’s tedious antics that she would never really be free from. Saying ‘yes’ obviously wasn’t an option, but she had been trapped in a position where she needed to figure out how to deny the casual weighted question without hurting the boy’s feelings. He had seemed plenty self assured so far, but girls like Quinn had a way of finding topics to make a peer’s confidence waver.
Unfortunately, Cassidy couldn’t wait too long. Lingering silence would only point towards her potentially liking the boy if she found herself speechless after Quinn asked. “Not really my type,” Cassidy said. She hoped her voice sounded normal. It was a safe answer in terms of making it less about him and more about her. And, more importantly, she was stalling for time. Best case scenario, Quinn would drop it. But if she pressed for details, Cassidy would have a few more seconds to figure out why Noah wasn’t her type.
And, sure enough, Quinn didn’t want to let it go that easily. The huntress smirked a little at both Noah’s rosy cheeks and Cassidy’s hesitation. “How so?” she asked.
Outright lying, Cassidy said, “I just kind of have a thing for blonds, you know?”
“Seriously? That’s a little shallow. You’re saying you wouldn’t date a boy who doesn’t have blond hair?”
“No, it’s not like that. It’s just-”
“Then what is it like, Cassie?”
She frowned. “It’s Cassidy.”
Thankfully, the other girl stepped in. “Just drop it, Quinn,” Molly said, “They don’t even go to the same school.
‘And I’m not actually a tween.’ But Cassidy was happy to let the other girl come to her defense. It was pretty obvious Quinn was just trying to stir up drama, rather than have a serious conversation about who Cassidy did or didn’t like.
Quinn just sighed. “I’m just saying. You can’t just write off a guy because of hair color. And what about you, Noah? Would you date Cassidy if she asked?”
Of course, the boy had been quiet amidst the three girls talking. Cassidy understood his own awkwardness, as dealing with girls at that age was brutal. Not that she had any personal experience with the male perspective, of course. But early teenage years were when certain girls really developed in their manipulation compared to whatever little tricks they had learned before; Quinn was a perfect example.
Again, Molly answered instead. “Why don’t we talk about something else. Or do something else?”
“Like one of Margot’s stupid games?” Quinn scoffed.
“Hell, no,” Molly said, “Like, one of our own games. I know one or two from camp that don’t suck, or we could always do Truth or Dare.”
Cassidy absolutely would have preferred the former. Something to innocently kill time before Audrey returned, that didn’t involve talking about boys she had zero interest in. However, the second option was what made Quinn’s eyes light up. “Ooh, that could be fun. How about it, Noah? Cass?”
Noah gave a nod. “Sure.” Since he hadn’t spoken much, it was difficult to tell if he had been checked in because he was trouble in his own way or simply because his parents/siblings wanted to see something too mature for his age. Usually it was a combination. Quinn was once again a good example, but even Molly didn’t seem particularly innocent. Though she had defended Cassidy and Noah, there was a subtle intensity to the way she did it that made it seem more like she was just over the whole conversation than looking out for anyone.
“Cassidy?” Molly asked, glancing her way.
Of all the things they could have picked, was Truth or Dare seriously going to be the choice? It was the dumbest game. Either everything was way too easy and immature, or way too intense depending on the crowd. Cassidy couldn’t remember a game of it that she particularly enjoyed over the years. But, at the same time, she was blanking in terms of possible alternatives. “Whatever,” she said. It’s not like she was actually twelve. She was mature enough to say ‘no’ to anything that her younger self might have caved to under peer pressure.
“Great!” Quinn said. “You can go first, Molly, since it was your idea.”
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