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World of Darkness: Attrition - Study Group -Chapter Two [Randy Edison][FIN]

Adrian Moss

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The first exam was out of the way. They had done pretty good. Shadow and Randy had squeaked by. Monica and Laura had done well enough not to worry. Mikio had made an A, but it was Trent who topped them all, acing it. By their rough estimate, a third of the class hadn't passed, which meant most of the wouldn't be back come Monday. It also meant that things would only get harder.

Randy kept up his air of indifference toward most of the students. They knew he tried. They also knew he was struggling, being so old, and so long away from their kind of studying. They also knew he was hitting the books five days a week. Things had also settled out a bit. Mikio had a boyfriend who seemed decent enough. Laura had a girlfriend which seemed to surprise almost everybody. Trent had a roaming eye and the manners of a Howler Monkey. Shadow wasn't the same. Everyone knew it, but no one could figure out why. She would hang close to Randy, but Randy would ignore her outside of school work. Monica had a boyfriend, lost him, had a boyfriend, lost him, had a girlfriend, and lost her ... and it hadn't been six weeks. From Randy's perspective that much hyper energy would drive anyone crazy. That was the group dynamics.

Midterm was in three weeks and the cramming instincts were kicking in. Trent and Mikio pretty much led the group, answering questions and correcting the weekly tests. The others would do most of the 'leg-work' in return, figuring out translations and pumping out the answer to the book questions. It sucked pretty much for the slower members, but surviving the grade kept them going.

As this study session progressed, Randy kept noticing Monica staring out him when she thought he was otherwise occupied. It was getting annoying. When they broke up for a break, Randy got up and went for a water. Monica's eyes followed him and she began to stand up. Shadow kept to her seat next to where him, but she kept her eye on him too.

'Way too much drama,' thought the rather plain looking Death Mage. 'Why does this crap follow me around?'

"Hey buddy," Trent said on a low voice, surprising Randy. Randy cursed his distractions.

"I need you to cover me with something," said the kid, all creepy like, licking his lips and staring too intently into Randy's eyes. "I'm noticing you and Shadow. She's getting no were with you, so I figure I can make my move."

Randy did his best to look totally disinterested. Trent plowed on.

"I'm going to nail that ass, if you know what I mean," Trent continued with a conspiratorial wink. "You double with Monica and Shadow is sure to go out with me. We get some beers into them, then POW, we nail them. What do you say?"

A man of lesser will would have blinked. Randy didn't have time to blink. He was too busy getting angry; that cold, killing anger only a man comfortable with death and killing could have.

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Trent was totally ignorant of the danger he was in. He was so much smarter than everyone else, or so he thought, that he couldn't see how anyone could not agree with his plan. Lust played right into fueling that kind of thought.

"Let me get this straight," Randy began just loud enough for the sound to carry to the group, "You want me to go out with Monica, just so you can get into Shadow's skirt. That's what you are talking to me about ... right now," he clipped those last two words.

With his position and height advantage, Randy could see the group looking in his and Trent's direction. Trent somehow failed to understand Randy's intent, or volume. Trent nodded. When that didn't illicit a response, he nodded and said, "Right. Are you in?"

Randy's jaw muscles clinched. His teeth ground against one another. His eyes bore into Trent's lust-addled gaze.

"Walk away," Randy whispered. Trent didn't seem to hear, or maybe couldn't understand what was being said. He looked confused.

"Walk away," Randy repeated. "Walk away before I end you."

"Huh?" Trent suddenly realized that there were more than Randy's eyes upon him. He didn't like the looks he saw as he gazed around the group. Mikio looked afraid. Laura looked repulsed. Monica looked like she was about to cry and Shadow looked down right terrified.


That command snapped Trent's gaze around to meet Randy's glare.

"Get you stuff and get out," Randy growled at Trent. "I'm tired of talking."

Trent stumbled away. Something went wrong with his bowels. He went around Shadow, brushing against her and causing her to recoil. His hip slammed into the table. The pain tore his eyes away from Randy and allowed him to look at the group once more. It occurred to Trent then that if Randy killed him, they would all cover it up. He was even more frightened by that. The realization that his superior plan had backfired so badly heightened into terror. Trent scrambled out, his tennis shoes smacking against the flooring as he bolted away - anywhere but here.

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In the room, there was total silence. Mikio had followed Trent out, but now her gaze was drawn back to Randy. Very little of the fear had left those eyes. Monica seemed to be gulping for air. Laura seemed more certain of her situation, but still eyed Randy warily. Shadow was conflicted, half ecstatic-half mortified. He had stood up for her which was amazing. He had stood up for her and that meant he thought she belonged to him. Neither was totally the truth.

Randy took a moment to cool down. He reached inside and clutched onto the one thing that kept him going. His mana, his magic, his one hope for changing his world into something other than the sink hole it had been all his life.

The bill went into machine. He pushed the botton. The bottle fell down. He reached down and took it in hand. Only when he stood back up did he re-examine the situation. Everyone had stepped it down a notch, except Shadow. Randy sighed over that. Couldn't the girl get a clue, he thought. One problem at a time.

Randy walked back over to the group, past Monica, who had remained standing the whole time, and took his chair.

"Okay. Were where we? Laura, I think that's you. Mikio, you'll need to take up Trent's slack."

Laura nodded and started her recitation. Monica stepped up to Randy, put her hand on his shoulder, and gave it a gentle squeeze. Well, it might have been gently had she not been hyped up on adrenaline. Randy had to struggle not to winch.

"Thank you," she said, not quietly enough.

Suddenly, as Monica moved to sit down on the other side of Randy, Shadow put her hand upon his leg. Randy felt like head-planting the table. What part of 'people die around me' didn't any of these people get? During the time with this group, he had hinted heavily how he was an albatross to anyone who became too close. Shadow hadn't listened and now that relationship was such a total fuck up he couldn't figure out what to do next. Now Monica?

At that moment, Randy concentrated on the lesson and getting through it without any personal crap. He was beginning to understand monks and their desire to live in isolation from the world - women in particular. What had Sergeant Reynolds told him? Don't beat them off with a stick, they'll expect more of the same. Of course Reynolds had been on his fourth marriage, so what the hell did he know?

When the group formally broke up, Mikio had been the one to ask, "Is Trent out?"

Randy shrugged. "That's up to Shadow and Monica," then added, "I promise not to kill him if I see him again."

The joke fell faster than a lead balloon. People stared at him, questioningly until Shadow giggled.

"I want him gone," the Goth said, looking at Randy for what he wasn't sure. Monica jumped on the bandwagon, adding her condemnation. As if that wasn't enough, she walked right into his personal space (hyper and clueless) and took his hand. That brought out a 'What the Fuck' look to his face. She added to that by taking his hand.

"Walk me to my lab?" Monica said, beaming a smile up at him. Clearly she on coke, or had been hit on the head repeatedly as a small child. Randy contemplated staring her down, but canned it. That was way passed non-productive.

"Sure, it will be great," Shadow said jumping up to his other side/back. A deep, rumbling growl came from deep within. Monica looked stunned for a micro-second, but rebounded - literally.

"Great, the three of us. I'm willing to share if you are, Shadow?"

Randy stifled the urge to throw himself out of the nearest window. They were on the third floor, so he wasn't like to get killed, but he was certainly going to get banged up enough for the girls to hunt him down - for his own good, no doubt. Shadow didn't reply. She clutched Randy's other arm and dug in her nails.

Randy made a quick list - not wealthy, not good looking, not in a band. Did women find danger and death to be that exciting, because that was all he had going for him. Against his will, he found himself caught between two young co-eds, going down the hall, Mikio's and Laura's looks of bewilderment lost to his rear.

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