Something Gray chapter 8/26

This entry is part 8 of 26 in the series Something Gray
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Chapter 8


Tara Maclay had not wanted to meet her study partner at the Bronze. She didn’t care for the crowd that hung out there and felt vulnerable around so many men on the make.

She had only been there a few minutes when one of the burly football players from the University noticed her. “Why can’t he notice someone who might be interested?” she wondered.

The boy was losing at pool against a man dressed in black and smoking, even though it was against the rules at the pub. Tara was a nice distraction for the loser, she guessed.

“Hey, pretty thing. You new at the U? I’d be really, really happy to show you how everything works, if you get my meaning,” he leered at her. “Just let me beat this Eighties reject and I’ll show you a real good time, honey,” he had promised.

“No, thanks. I’m meeting a f..f..friend here any minute,” she had replied. Tara did not make eye contact. She always felt it would be like issuing a challenge if she did. She never seemed to come out on the better end of a confrontation either.

“Don’t see anyone looking for you just now, b..b..blondie. You know how lucky you are that I’m available tonight? Most freshmen have to wait at least a semester before I take notice. You’re gonna be making all the little girlies jealous pretty soon,” he boasted. The neckless wonder ran a meaty hand over Tara’s bare arm, getting far too close to brushing against her lush breast.

Tara felt her body freeze, her mind going blank for a moment like an antelope in the last moments before the inevitable takedown by the cheetah. She found her voice and tried to regain some control over the situation. “I’m really sorry if you thought I was interested, but I’m not looking for anything except my study partner.” Tara tried to pull her arm free from the big boy’s grasp.

“I don’t think you need any studying tonight. I know just what you need, baby. I got it right here, too,” he whispered suggestively. His free hand cupped his crotch suggestively as he made the attempt to tighten his hold on the clearly frightened girl.

A cold hand landed on the boy’s and pried it off of the shy girl’s arm. “Lady said no, I’m thinkin’. Maybe you should take some of those language classes they’re givin’ so you can learn the meaning of that word. Means the same in lots of languages, even ponce.” Spike’s voice was low and filled with menace. The pressure he was putting on the boy’s hand was just enough to get the point across without setting off the chip.

Tara took the opportunity to slip away from the would-be Romeo. She cast a grateful look at the man in the black duster and nearly ran to the other side of the dance floor.

The tension between the two men was thick and everyone expected a brawl to break out at any moment. Steve Foresman didn’t like anyone to tell him what he could or could not do. He also didn’t like losing at any sport, even if it were only pool.

“Yo, Steve, your turn to play. How about showing this dickhead how a real man handles a cue stick and take our money back,” his buddy said with a laugh. The British punk was smaller than Steve, but his buddies didn’t really want their good times to end like they usually did with him. “Think Vanessa just came in anyway, so it’s a good thing you didn’t score with the little mouse,” he said in a soothing voice.

“Yeah,” said Spike, “I bet you get lots of practice handling your cue stick, Stevie. Show us what you’ve got then,” Spike taunted.

Anger does nothing to help a pool game and the sad showing made by the college boy proved the truth of that.

“Maybe you’d better go play with your stick a bit more before you try to use it like a real man,” Spike said with a smirk. He pocketed the cash he’d won and stalked off towards the bar.

The six frat boys had been easy targets for the pool hustle. Spike had won enough to buy some of the good stuff this time with plenty of dosh left over for later.

While Spike enjoyed his winnings and the feeling of power that came from intimidating the bully into letting the bird go, the bully in question sank deeper and deeper into the sulks. Bad enough Mr. Clairol had taken their fun money for the month, then he had to butt in where the stacked blonde was concerned too. The mousy girl should have been honored to have Sunnydale U’s finest pay attention to her at all.

Steve’s long-suffering girlfriend had not come in after all, so he was likely to be sleeping alone tonight. ‘Great. Embarrassed, dissed, horny and now broke, too.’ Steve was not having a good night. That shy girl should have been quivering at the thought of him even noticing her. The interfering pool hustler had made him look a fool on many fronts. His buddies laughed at him being in this unusual position of loser until the hustler had taken them for all their money too.

None of the fine young scholars was happy at being had. They sat at their table, glowering at Spike as he downed another shot with a beer chaser at the bar.

In time, they were joined by a few of their fellow toga party rejects. More angry eyes turned upon the smug stranger in black as the home team shared their tale of woe with the newcomers. Of course, all they saw was a friendless Brit who had already had one too many drinks and far too much good luck for any pool player to have naturally.

When Spike did notice the dirty looks directed his way, he merely laughed to himself. ‘Pfft, if the pups spent half the time perfectin’ their game that they spent slammin’ back the brews, they coulda had a fightin’ chance,’ Spike thought. He never bothered to cheat at pool; his skill was finely honed from over a century of play. Wasn’t his fault the fish thought they could reel in the fisherman!

Spike ordered another bottle of Jack to take back to the Watcher’s with him.

Giles had returned to playing reluctant host to the vampire since his come-and-gone girlfriend had become gone again. It wasn’t home, but it was better than the basement hell that was Xander Harris’ hovel. Giles had become used to Spike staying there at his apartment, but he had also learned to lock up the good stuff from his ‘houseguest’.

At least Spike was free of the chains and ropes the Slayer’s crew demanded he be trussed up in for their safety. ‘Yeah, wish I could do some damage there,’ he thought wistfully. ‘Start with that mouthy Big Bad wannabe, Xander, and finish up with the royal bitch herself,’ he daydreamed.

With a sigh, he took his precious liquid comfort and strutted out the back door of the Bronze, headed for his current haven from the soldier boys with all their toys.

So caught up was Spike in dreams of what he’d like to do to the entire Scooby contingent that he failed to notice his exit was causing a stir at the Phi Kappa Cuppa table.

Tara did notice their reactions, however. She had been too nervous to stop watching their table and she could tell they were really angry with the man who had made them leave her alone.

She had not wanted to meet her study partner here instead of the library, but she was trying so hard to fit in at college that she had given in at the last moment. She had not made any friends yet and had determined to join a group or two and finally explore her hard-earned freedom. She would not let tonight set her back again. She was tired of existing and wanted to try living for a change. Still, being pawed by a drunken bully in a bar wasn’t what she’d had in mind to begin this new life.

Tara did worry a bit for her helper, however, when she saw the table full of college boys get up and head towards the back door of the Bronze where the man in black had just exited. She wondered if she should call on a bouncer to help or just mind her own business.

Maybe she’d peek out the back in a couple minutes, she thought. Just make sure everyone was all right, but not draw any attention to herself in the process.

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