Ruin glowered over her shoulder. "If you did not intend to insult me, you may apologize before you go away. If you did intend to insult me . . . just go away."
As she turned away, he grabbed her arm and jerked her around and up to her feet. Her chair crashed over as she staggered to catch her balance.
"Let go of me!" she jerked her arm. A stab of pain behind her eyes, a flush of heat through her body.
"Right. Now. Remove. Your. Hand."
"Aww! Isn't that precious? Directorate School School, my ass. They teach their students to fight, even the guuurrrrls. Gimme a kiss, Sweetie."
He jerked her close, and she punched him in the ribs.
Stumbled back, clutching her fist, shivering and cold.
The man was three meters away, hands to his chest, breathing in shallow gasps. His friends were sprawled on the floor where the boor had knocked them when he'd . . . sort of flown back?
And they were getting up, now. Fists clenched and narrowed eyes on her.
"Freeze. Right. There." The guy at the bar stood up, balanced on the balls of his feet.
Twin glares turned his direction, then eyes widened and they backed away.
"She started it!" One of them jerked a thumb her direction, but his tone was wobbly.
"No, she didn't." Buzz-cut strolled over to the boor. "But she sure finished it. So Finny, you need an ambulance?"
"Ah, no, I can get there on my own!" A breathless wheeze.
"You stupid enough to file charges?"
"We'll take him!" The other two grabbed the boor and steered him out.
Buzz-cut turned and looked her up and down. "How's your hand?"
Ruin wiggled the fingers carefully. "It's fine." Hurts like hell!
"Right. Now are you going to file charges?"
She shook her head.
"Ruin! What were you thinking?" Fayt hustled up, her dance partner, giving Buzz-cut a single glance and fading away. "Geeze, why not dance with him?"
"Because I didn't want to." She glanced beyond Fayt to where Granny was glowering at her. "I'll go figure out this Metro thing and see you back at the apartment. Have fun!" You stupid slut. My fault for not listening to the warning signs that your Granny was not . . . never mind. She's not from a small town in the back of beyond. My fault for not being cautious.
Fayt looked at her wide-eyed, then down at the comm in her hand. "Maybe I shouldn't have called Ice."
Buzz-cut started grinning. "Ice? Oh, don't tell me Ice-kah Tall Trees has interns!"
"He said he'd come." Fayt's voice got a little high. "This wasn't a good idea, our first day."
Buzz-cut laughed. "First day? Oh, excellent. This I want to see." He stooped to pick up her chair, set it down and waved her into it. "Quite apart from poor Fanny standing there with your drink and nachos."
Ruin sank down in the chair. "I don't suppose you could arrest me and get me out of here before my boss arrives?"
"Not a chance."
The cold drink helped her headache and even shopped the shivering a bit. She nibbled on a nacho and eyed at the door.
Buzz-cut thought it was funny. "So . . . have you ever considered a career in Law Enforcement? I could use someone who can power punch like that."
She eyed him. "Umm . . . No?"
His grin widened as he leaned back and looked at the entrance. "Oh, you get both of them."
Ice stalked into sight, ignoring the hostess, a tall woman following him. He nodded to Buzz-cut. "Oljo, good to see you again." His gaze swung over to Ruin, and then Fayt. "I've never had interns before. I really hope bar brawls isn't the usual first day behavior."
Buzz-cut, Oljo, snickered, and stood up and shook hands. "Three men looming, one verbally obnoxious, and grabbed her arm. Was told twice to let go, tried to kiss her. The power punch was, perhaps, a bit of an over-reaction."
He paused to glance at his comm. "Two broken ribs. No big deal. No charges either direction. So . . ." He eyed Fayt and Granny.
Ice nodded. "Good. Now . . . Madam Fear, your granddaughter and her fellow student are here to work. Taking them out drinking is a bad idea any time, let alone on a work night. Not to mention that they are just twenty years old, so taking them to a pickup joint is in very bad taste." He shook his head. "However you are all adults. Madam Fear, if you wish to stay I will take home anyone who wishes to get out of here."
All delivered in a drawling superior tone that had her wanting to crawl under the table.
Granny stiffened. "Oh? Want to get the girls alone, do you?"
The tall women snorted. "Ice doesn't pick up young women at all let alone in front of his wife with his children waiting in the car." She inclinded her head to Ruin and glanced at Fayt. "We were headed for dinner, if you two would like to join us."