Robynne looked over the fliers and nodded. Good, most of the information was there. Still, she was the only one who knew what this game was. “So the point of the game is to be the last one standing. You have a set number of lives and the person who runs out of lives first is the loser. If people ask, Mega Mash Family: Battle is a ‘platform fighter’ and just came out like two weeks ago. This will likely be the first tournament of its kind on campus. And since somehow SaltStorm was able to secure some kind of sponsorship, they’re giving away a sweet custom controller to whoever wins, so I expect pretty good attendance.”
Lilly took a deep breath and groaned. “As if I’m going to remember any of that. I’ll just say it’s a fun game and such and that you’ll be there. That’ll work.” Robynne liked Lilly well enough, and when they went on their usual “promotion duty” it was nice to have a cheerleader who would let her complain about Cammy, but at moments like this, her negativity was not in high demand.
Vivian laughed. “Oh yeah, if they knew Robynne and I were attending they’d show up for sure, but SFEERS is kind of more interested in getting people excited about the game.”
Lilly sighed. “I suppoooooose.”
Stacy nodded her head. “Mega Mash Family: Battle. Platform fighter. Mega Mash Family: Battle. Platform fighter. Mega Mash Family: Battle. Platform fighter.”
Robynne smiled. “The name is important, but I think the prize will be a bigger deal.”
“Why is that?”
“The customized controller is total retro. Wish I had a shot at getting it; the thing’s been painted to look like a classic GameBox controller.”
Lilly perked up at that. “People paint controllers?”
Vivian sighed. “Lilly, my dear, thanks to Robynne I am beginning to see the various layers of nerd culture. From what I can tell, custom painted controllers is only scratching the veneered surface of the oddly-used artistic skill Robynne’s people have.”
Robynne scoffed, “Says the girl who just paid handsomely for some reprint of some obscure foreign film that looks like it came out in the silent era.”
“Obscure foreign film?” Vivian huffed. “La Verità Bugiarda is one of the most influential films of all time! It’s Petrelli’s finest film! I dare you, dare you, I say, to find another film with more intense character study. And it came out in the 50’s, you doink!”
Lilly smiled for the first time. “Vivz, I have a feeling you only just proved Robynne’s point.”
Vivian huffed, “Of course I only proved Robynne’s point! I knew it, too, but one does not get to insult La Verità Bugiarda and get away with it! Some bear traps are worth stepping into!”
Stacy laughed, though there was a nervous twinge to it. “So, like, um, we’re ready to get promoting then, girls?”
Robynne smirked. Stacy was always so earnest about promotion duty. Part of that, she supposed, was due to the fact that the other cheerleaders always talked about how if you didn’t do your time on Promo Squad you might not make Pep Squad the next year. Robynne herself saw no evidence of this, and was pretty sure Cammy just took whatever girls she thought would look prettier for the camera. However it clearly wasn’t just that for Stacy; the girl was very sincere and if she was asked to do something, no matter how menial the task, she’d commit to it fully.
“We’re ready, Stacy.”
“Great,” Stacy exclaimed, with a small hop of excitement. “Let’s, like, pair off then to cover more ground. Robynne and I will, like, cover the front while you two cover the streetside entrance. Maybe switch after, like, uh, half-an-hour?”
Robynne frowned. She liked Stacy and all, but she had been hoping to pair off with Lilly or Vivian. Lilly was lazy and hated Promo Squad duty almost as much as Robynne. And Vivian would push Robynne but also knew her unique situation. But Stacy was super passionate about this. This couldn’t be good.
Lilly cleared her throat. “Oh, but Robynne and are normally partners. We sort of have, um, you know, chemistry going.”
Stacy put her hands on her hips, then mockingly shook her finger at Lilly. “No way! You and Robynne always get, like, assigned together! You’re hogging all the Robynne time. And Vivs, like, gets to live with her. It’s my turn to have fun promoting with Robynne.”
Vivian snickered but gave Robynne an apologetic smile. “Geez, Rosy. I didn’t realize you were such a hot commodity.”
Robynne stifled a grimace. She didn’t understand why this was important to Stacy, but it was clear she considered this some sort of play-date or something with her new friend. “Me neither.”
She gave Vivian a pleading look, carefully avoiding grouggle sounds that Stacy would hear. Vivian simply shrugged back in an understanding-but-resigned sort of way.
As Lilly and Vivian wandered off to their post. Vivian said something that clearly perked Lilly up and made her laugh. Fate had chosen well when it had named Vivian Spirit Guard Felicity. She knew how to make people smile. Even when they were being a grumple.
Stacy hopped beside Robynne. She clearly wanted to get moving. Well, no point in delaying this further. Robynne already decided to learn something from all this. She put one foot in front of the other and Stacy grinned. “I love the criss-cross ponytail! Like, it looks great on you!”
Robynne smiled. “Thanks. Vivian’s suggestion.” She thought to the various lessons Kara had given her about “Girls’ Rules”. Kara insisted that when girls paid one another compliments, you had to thank them, but also deflect and compliment back. “I don’t have anywhere close to your creativity for this kind of stuff. Without Vivian I’d be lost.”
“Please, like, everything looks great on you,” Stacy laughed. “Still, if you wanna be more adventurous, like, I’d love to experiment. Most girls with your amount of hair are already picky and, like, have the styles they want to do. I’d totes love to help out with a much more willing test subject.”
Great. She’d walked right into that. Maybe if she was non-committal she could get out of this. Vagueness and misdirection were, after all, the weapons of stealthies like Robynne. “Not really encouraging that you said ‘test subject’ as opposed to ‘willing participant.’ Might be your sales pitch. You’re, like, sounding a bit more like Vivian every day.”
Stacy giggled again. “We have been promoting together a lot. Speaking of…” She trailed off and gestured to an area right by the entrance to the Bilot Building. Maximum foot traffic. Robynne hoped her displeasure didn’t show on her face. “I think that would be the best spot, don’t you?”
“Don’t be nervous. I know you and Lilly haven’t been doing much promoting but it’s not anywhere near as bad as you think.”
Robynne froze. “I… you…”
Sounding like a mother laughing at an innocent child, Stacy chuckled. “Like, of course I know about that. Lilly’s great but, like, a total gossip. She was bound to tell someone.”
Well, that… that was just fudging great. Robynne knew she shouldn’t have trusted that snowcapped scandalmonger to keep her lips sealed. “I… sooooo…. does the rest of the Squad…”
Stacy raised an eyebrow. “I forget sometimes you’ve never really been in cheer. Like, Robynne, come on. If one cheerleader knows it, you should know that they basically all know it.”
“Ugh,” Robynne grumbled, “it’s like a hive mind with you people.”
Stacy put an arm around Robynne’s shoulder. “Not ‘you’ people, Robynne. Our people.” Robynned tried not to, but found she couldn’t help but smirk at the joke, “You’ll have to tell me some time why someone who seems, like, so dead-set against cheer culture joined up.”
“I already told you, Cammy recruited me hardcore.”
She wagged a finger at Robynne. “Maybe true, but you said, ‘yes,’ and I just know something else is going on. I’m going to find out what eventually.”
“Well, I would, “ Robynne smirked, “but then I’d be telling one cheerleader and the entire Cheer-hivemind would know.”
Stacy did one of her full, intense laughs that included a more-endearing-than-it-should-be snort. “Always so quick.” She let her laugh end, then gave Robynne a more serious look. “But you don’t need to worry about me spreading anything. I joke about how gossipy we cheerleaders can be but I don’t spread what, like, people want kept secret. Trust me on that.”
Much to Robynne’s surprise, she did trust her on that. Even if that was exactly what someone who spread gossip would say. “I’ll remember that.”
“So, more to the point, like, promotion isn’t as scary as I think you’re imagining. Like, it’s just talking to people and letting them know about your SFEERS event. And since you’re actually part of the club and, unlike the rest of us, know what you’re talking about, it will totes be easier for you than us.”
“You’re greatly underestimating how much I hate talking to people.”
“You talk to me all the time! And, like, between you and me, I think you’re a great conversationalist.”
“That’s different. I know you.”
“You didn’t know me at first. And we had a great conversation then too.”
“Yeah, and you were the one who initiated that conversation. Had you let me, I wouldn’t have said a single word.”
“Annnd then we wouldn’t have this amazing, quality friendship. A great argument for you being more social, I think.” She giggled but got more serious. “I know, I know. You’re more introverted than me. But if you build it up to be scary, it will be scary. You gotta stop thinking of it as something you don’t want to do.” Stacy pursed her lips, thinking. “Instead, maybe, try to focus on the fact that you’re offering them an awesome new activity for them to come join. If they’re less social, like you, then they need someone reaching out to let them know this cool thing is out there. Then they might come to the event and join up with SFEERS. You reaching out could change their life.”
“Uhhh, being a bit overly dramatic. Don’t ya think, Stace?”
“Only a smidge,” Stacy defended herself. “I mean, if they are introverted, like yourself, then they are less likely to reach out to find your club. So they need someone to come to them. If you step out of your comfort zone you can let them know about an event they’d be more likely to, like, attend and stuff. Then they join SFEERS and you’re, like, hailed as the grand recruiter or somesuch.”
Robynne sighed, “Definitely hanging out too much with Vivian.”
“Oh come on. Admit it, what I say makes sense.”
Robynne had to give it to Stacy, it was a somewhat compelling argument. She herself would likely avoided the Recruit-a-palooza or whatever the event had been called had it not been for Eli and Cory telling her about the SFEERS recruitment booth. If there were others like her who had avoided that fantastic mess of humanity, they might have an interest in SFEERS but not even know it existed.
“All right. Yes. It makes sense.”
“However… how do you deal with… guys getting… uh…”
Stacy raised an eyebrow. “Hitting on you?”
“Uh, yeah, that.”
Stacy shrugged. “I mean, it’s pretty rare. Like, sure, it happens on occasion, but most guys don’t want to come across as pigs. Some might try to get your number… is that really why you’ve been avoiding promotion duty? I mean… no offense, Robynne, but as hot as you are, I’d think you’d be more used to it.”
Again, girls just assumed she’d know how to deal with this stuff. Did guys just assume other guys knew guy things as much? It was hard to really know where her biases ended and reality began. She swore, though, guys didn’t just assume this kind of stuff. Girls must just be better at subtly passing info like this along.
Robynne shifted uncomfortably. How to spin this? “Well… I mean… look, everyone knows everyone where I’m from. You don’t really HAVE strangers in Deepwater. So the concept of guys just coming up and hitting on me… I don’t know. It’s just… it’s different.”
Stacy sighed. “Huh. I guess I just don’t realize how, like, small your hometown is. Well, again, it’s not that often. But if things get out of hand I’m right here. But I doubt you’ll need my help. You’re a smartie-pants; I’m sure you can defuse it just fine.”
“And how do you defuse it? Like, I may be a bit of a ‘smartie-pants,’ but I’m not smart concerning this at all.”
Giving a warm, genuine smile, Stacy gave Robynne a hug. “I’ll bet you can figure it out. But if not, like, I’ll be right here. Experience is the best teacher, yeah?”
Robynne narrowed her eyes at the hug. And the comment. “You and Vivian really seem to favor the throw-them-in-the-deep-end approach.”
Stacy giggled, took half her fliers, and shrugged. “Don’t worry. If you start drowning I’ll, like, throw you a life preserver or something. If I notice.” She winked and walked straight up to a pair of guys about to walk into the building.
Robynne winced. Well, she did need a crash course. So… deep end it was. She just hoped she didn’t sink.