Fear The Dawn: Chapter 4

Friday morning was largely uneventful. The train ride into work was quiet, as though some people were taking the day off, and even in his own office there seemed to be more empty desks than usual. His job gave him some vacation time, but Aidan rarely found himself taking it, because he really had nowhere to go and no one to see. What little time off he did take he usually spent doing various chores that he didn't otherwise have time for, like shopping for clothes and going to the dentist. Occasionally his friends dreamed up big plans, like going on long trips or travelling to a different country, but one way or another they never materialized. At least there could be no questions about his work ethic from his attendance, perhaps that would pay off someday.

On the subject of perfect attendance, Dan did not actually end up working through lunch, though he claimed to have fought off a stack of papers ten inches thick that morning. Whether that was true or not, he hadn't forgotten their plans to go to the bar this evening, and was already talking up the big game that was going to be played tonight.
This is a really important one. It's against their division rivals, you know.”
They'll lose” Aidan remarked nonchalantly, barely looking up from his sandwich. “They always lose the important ones.”
No, sometimes they win. There was that time...” he paused for a moment, thinking. “You know, last season.”
Uh huh.”
Well, it'll be good to take a load off, anyway. This week has been really long.”
In truth, this week had been much the same as any other. If he went out drinking every time his job was boring he'd have become an alcoholic a long time ago. Maybe that was how a lot of them got started, people turned to alcohol to fill whatever voids existed in their own lives. Aidan finished the rest of his sandwich while Dan tried to tell him various things about the team and its players.

If the morning had been slow, the afternoon was even worse. He needed to place a call to the western branch, but he couldn't get through to anyone as they had probably all gone home early, and he didn't really want to talk on the phone anyway because the office was so quiet if someone coughed you could hear it across the entire floor. He quietly scribbled away at his paperwork, but he found his mind wandering. The person who sat at the desk by the window wasn't in, so he turned his chair and glanced out at the city below. Even in the middle of the afternoon, there were still a ton of cars going by. All of them had somewhere to go, something more interesting to be doing today. His mind slipped back to that dream he had a few days ago. “You have to get out of here”, the voice had said. Watching the world go by, he felt compelled to change his life. “There's so much more out there that I've never seen”, he thought. “There's got to be more to life than this.” There was something out there waiting for him, there had to be...
Aidan nearly jumped out of his seat as he quickly wheeled around to face his supervisor. He smiled awkwardly, trying not to look guilty.
I have some more papers for you to fill out, Aidan.” he said, dropping them in his inbox. “It is still Friday for a few more hours.”
Aidan chuckled nervously as his supervisor when back to his office. The worst part of it all was that with the office being so quiet, everyone must have heard him getting chewed out. He pulled a paper off the top of the pile and kept his head down for the rest of the afternoon.

Quitting time did eventually come, and Dan was already waiting for him in the lobby. He had stayed at his desk a few minutes extra to make sure that stack of papers was completely gone.
Are you boys heading over to Carson's?”, the receptionist asked them.
Yeah. You're welcome to join us, Nicole”, Dan offered hopefully.
I'm afraid I have to get home, but you boys have a good time”, she replied, starting to pack up her things.
Aidan double-checked his case to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything at his desk and they left the building.

It was pretty cold outside, but luckily it wasn't a long walk. As soon as they were out of the parking lot Aidan gave Dan a suspicious glance.
What would you have done if she actually did come?”
I was just being polite.”
He wasn't really convinced. “I think she's somewhere in her 30's.”
She's still gorgeous.”
He supposed that might be true. She had a pretty face, long blonde hair, and always dressed attractively, but to be honest he didn't really notice. He didn't really know her very well, so he never thought about her like that.
We don't really know what she's like. Or whether or not she has a boyfriend.”
Dan threw up his hands in exasperation. “You can go out for drinks with someone without it being a date.”
Aidan smiled slyly. “Oh good, because you're not really my type.”
Dan rolled his eyes. “Was this all a setup for that joke?”
Everything you say and do is a setup for my jokes, that's why I keep you around.”
There's that famous Aidan sense of humour again.”
You know, that's the second time someone has said that this week.”
He spent the rest of the walk heckling Dan some more. Dan was right, it felt good to let off a little steam after the week was over.

Carson's was located right in the heart of the business district, so it was a very clean and upstanding place, equally suited to business lunches as game nights. Aidan and Dan had not changed out of their work attire, but they did not seem out of place among the other patrons, many of whom came here to unwind after work, or, for some executives, to continue it. Dan wanted to sit at the bar, but Aidan's preference was for a table where they would have more space to eat. The pre-game show was on TV, but the sound wasn't on so there wasn't really a lot to watch yet. The bar was slowly starting to fill up as Aidan looked over the menu.

I'm thinking wings”, Dan announced. “Are you drinking tonight?”
I guess so.”
Might as well get a pitcher, then, it's only seven bucks with wings. What are you eating, anyway?”
Aidan turned the page on his menu. “I think I'm going to have a cheeseburger and a salad.”
That's not bar food.”
I don't think just wings is really a suitable meal.”
That's a good point”, Dan said, flipping through the menu, “we should get an appetizer. Do you want perogies? That's healthy-ish.”
You might as well just order what you want, you're always the one that eats it all.”
Too true”, he noted, milling over his snacking choices.

A waitress eventually came to take their order and returned with their pitcher. By that time, the pre-game show was wrapping up and they were getting to the national anthem, though the TV was still silent. Aidan poured himself a tall glass, and the pitcher was still about three-quarters full afterwards.
Look, it's starting”, Dan pointed out, and a few minutes later the waitress returned with their food.
It was a closer game than he might have anticipated. Their team fell behind early, but only by one goal, and Dan still found time to cheer in-between mouthfuls every time they got a good shot. Aidan finished his cheeseburger early, and spent most of the rest of the game nursing his salad and that first glass of beer. Just when it looked like their team might make a game out of it, one of their best players got crunched against the boards and had to leave the game, much to Dan's horror.
God damn it!”, he exclaimed, as though he was the one having his ribcage fractured, “if he's injured, that could really hurt their chances this year!”
Aidan just nodded knowingly as Dan poured himself another drink. In the end, they managed to tie the game up but ran out of steam in overtime, to a collective groan from most of the bar that even Aidan joined in on. Dan finished up their pitcher, they paid their bill, and headed out. It was a clear night, and the street lamps bathed the world in a pale glow. Even though it was late, the city streets were still very busy with people out on the town on a Friday evening.

I told you they'd lose.”
It was still close.” Dan's speech was a bit slurred and he was kind of stumbling around.
Aidan rolled his eyes. “I knew we shouldn't have gotten a pitcher.”
I'm fine”, he insisted, nearly toppling over.
I'd better walk you home.”
Aidan lifted Dan's arm around his back to steady him. Luckily, his house wasn't too far from here. He protested at first, but he was too out of it to put up much resistance. With so many people leaving the bars after the game, they didn't really stand out anyway.
Do you think Anderson's hurt?” Aidan asked, trying to keep him from falling asleep. He didn't want to have to drag him home.
He'd better not be.”
They just seem to have the worst luck. That's why I get tired of it.”
Gotta hope for something.”
I'm hoping we're going to make it back to your place before you pass out.”
There's that famous sense of Aidan again”, he said, not getting it quite right.
Easy now, we're almost back to your place, then you can sleep.”
Sleep sounds good”, he said, faintly. Aidan elbowed him to keep him awake.
Do you ever have strange dreams?” Dan asked him. Aidan stopped walking.
Where did that come from?”
Sometimes I have these dreams that are so vivid that when I wake up, I'm not sure which world is the real one. But then I remember about my friends and family, so it has to be this one.”
Aidan thought about the dream he'd had. The woman's voice had sounded so familiar. Was she some friend of his that he'd forgotten?
Dan laughed. “I've really had too much to drink”, but to Aidan he sounded fairly sober.

Here we are”, he said, bringing Dan to the front door of his house. “Please tell me you have your keys.”
Yeah, yeah”, he fumbled around in his pocket and found them. He opened the door, and Aidan let him down on the couch, where he quickly slumped over.
You can stay here if you want. It's late.”
No, I'd better be getting home. I still have some stuff I have to do, and I don't want to sleep in these clothes.”
Okay”, Dan said, drifting off to sleep on the couch. “Don't let the train crazies get you.”
Aidan let himself out and started to walk back to the train station.

The train was fairly busy and some of the riders had clearly had too much to drink. Towards the back, some of the patrons were swatting at each other from across the aisle and hooting loudly. He tried to find a seat towards the front, but most of them were occupied.
Is this seat taken?” He asked someone who was looking out the window.
She turned to him, and he was shocked to see it was the same brown-haired girl that he had seen on the train a few days ago. She gave him a suspicious glance.
Could be worse?” he offered, giving her a slight smile.
I suppose so”, she responded quietly, and went back to the window. He gingerly sat down on the edge of the seat, giving her lots of space.
What is she doing out this late?” he wondered. She didn't seem like the type to have just gotten out of a bar, but you could never really tell. He turned his head towards her. Now that he was actually sitting beside her, he saw that she was very tall, probably close to the same height as him. She was wearing a dark jacket and black pants, and she had an average bust and very long legs. As though she sensed he was checking her out, she shifted towards the window a bit more, leaving her back towards him. She had very long brown hair, that reached almost to her waist.
I'm not that kind of guy”, Aidan thought to himself, rolling his eyes. “Besides, I don't know the first thing about you”. He turned back towards the front of the train, and it started upon its way. Though the train car itself was quite noisy, they rode the rest of the way in total silence.

It was almost 11pm when the train finally rolled into the tiny little station across the bay. They stood up let all of the drunks file out of the train first.
Have a good evening”, he said to her, when it was finally their turn to get off.
You too”, she responded, turning to him. She had pretty brown eyes.
He climbed down from the train and instinctively offered his hand to her without even thinking about it. He was fairly surprised when she took it, but by the time he realized she had she was already exiting the platform. He shrugged and headed home, it had been a long day. It was after 11:30 when he got home, and he changed out of his work clothes, brushed his teeth, and went straight to bed.

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