Fear The Dawn: Chapter 14

Somehow, he didn't call her. Several times he picked up the phone and started to dial her number, but he convinced himself it would just make things worse. Still, he could hardly remember a longer or more arduous week. He spent every day slogging through his work, hoping to see her on the train that evening, but she never turned up, which made the entire day feel like it had been a waste. Dan wasn't helping either, by now he'd found out that there really wasn't much to tell and was starting to become sceptical that Aidan really had a date at all, and that was only compounding the doubts he had in his own mind. By Friday, Aidan's nerves had been pushed to the breaking point, the only thing keeping his sanity intact was the knowledge that today he would finally get to speak to her, one way or another. “If I don't see her on the train tonight, I'm calling her at 8pm sharp”, he told himself. He repeated that same line to himself many times throughout the day, which seemed to pass by so slowly that time might as well have been moving backwards. He tried to busy himself with his work, but it wasn't engaging enough to take his mind off of her. He settled for checking his watch every few minutes instead.

Plans this weekend, Aidan?”
Aidan wondered just how many times his boss had seen him check the time while he had been standing there. He realized there was no point lying, he had been caught. “Yes sir, I have a date this weekend.”
Ah”, he sighed, “to be young again and have your whole life hang in the balance over every little thing. Is she pretty?”
He really wasn't looking to discuss this again. Why were her looks the only thing anyone asked about, anyway? That wasn't all he was interested in, surely it wasn't. “Well, I think so. She's nice, too”, he added.
He chuckled. “Well, watching the clock all afternoon won't make the day end any faster. I could get you some more cases to work on if you're bored.”
Thank you, sir, I think I'll manage.”
Well, how about this? If you can get through the rest of that pile by 3pm, why don't you come along to our monthly strategy meeting? It'll give you something different to occupy your time and you can tell your girlfriend that you sat in on a really important meeting today”. He winked at Aidan.
I'll see if I can make it”, he looked down at his watch again. There wasn't a lot of time left to get through the rest of the pile, he'd have to hurry.
That's the spirit, lad, back to work”, his boss said, walking back to his office.

The strategy meeting certainly wasn't as exciting as he might have hoped. Some executive was presenting some slides about current trends in interest rates and the stock market for financial securities. He understood the material well enough, but this strategic planning was far too high above his lowly position to have any effect on his day-to-day activities, if anything it just made him realize how far removed he was from the decisions that really mattered. As if to highlight this fact, no one in the meeting even seemed to notice he was there, he just sat quietly as the man ran through his material and other people asked a few questions about it.

Is this the kind of job I want to have when I get older?” he asked himself as the suits talked about the overnight rate. In truth, he didn't really think about his career path that much. His boss always assured him that there was “a bright future ahead for him at Walder Financial”, and in the last little while, it had started to seem like that might be the case. After all, here he was, sitting in on a strategy meeting for the first time since he had been hired. Perhaps his career was finally going places, but right now he could only think about his date. “I can figure out what to do with my career once I know what I'm doing with my personal life”, he decided. That seemed sensible enough for now.

Well, I think that's about enough for today”, the executive giving the presentation announced.
We'd better get going if we want to beat the traffic”, said another.
Aidan glanced at his watch. It was only 4:30. The ability to leave early would be a nice perk, if nothing else. He was not so lucky, however. His boss chose to head back to his desk rather than leave, and so Aidan had to as well. He had no interest in taking the 4:45 train anyway, he was still hoping to meet Nisha tonight, so he busied himself at his desk for the last hour and a half, packed his things, and headed off to the station.
Have a nice weekend”, Nicole greeted him on his way out the building.
You too”, he responded pleasantly, but his mind had long since left work for the weekend. He practically ran out of the building and down the street to see if she would be there this time.
He arrived early at the train, ensuring him a window seat of his choosing. He sat near the front on the platform side so he could watch to see if she would come. He waited with baited breath for several minutes, and then he was overcome by a feeling of extreme relief that almost instantly turned into nervousness as he finally caught sight of her. One of his fears was set aside immediately as she sat down beside him.
Hi, Aidan”, she said sweetly, “I finally got off work on time. Are we still on for this weekend?”
Of course!” he responded, nervously. She didn't really seem to notice.
Great! What are we going to see?”
Actually”, he admitted, sheepishly, “I haven't figured that out yet, I figured we'd discuss it.”
Silly”, she said, poking him, “so what have you been doing all week?”
Oh, you know. Working a lot, doing chores around the apartment, stuff like that.”
Perhaps this time she did sense the anxiety in his voice. “You weren't just waiting around for me, were you?”
It was really hard”, he admitted, “every day I was hoping to see you on the train and you weren't there.”
Oh Aidan, you should have just called me if you wanted to speak to me that much.”
I didn't want to impose.”
You're cute, Aidan. I'm sorry if I worried you.” She wrapped her arms around him, and that made everything all right. “So, when are we going to see this movie?”
I hadn't really figured that out, either. When are you free this weekend?”
Her big brown eyes seemed to twinkle a bit. “Well, how about now?”
Now?!” he asked, taken aback.
Sure, I'm not doing anything tonight, and it'll save you worrying about it for another day.”
Well, I guess we can do that. I certainly hadn't planned-”
That's what makes it fun”, she said, putting her hand on top of his. It took him a moment to get used to that.
We'll need to get something to eat, first”, he said, slowly getting his nerves under control. “There's a nice little diner near the theatre that we could go to.”
See, now you're getting the idea”, she said, leaning up again him. Gingerly, he put his arm around her back, and she snuggled up to him. A wonderful feeling of calm and tranquillity came over him, and his anxieties melted away, leaving only anticipation for the night that was to come.
I guess we'll figure out what movie to see when we get there”, he said. Nisha murmured contentedly in agreement and closed her eyes.
Aidan was also feeling a little tired now that his nervousness had been abated. “It's been a long week, hasn't it?”
Yeah. I'll be glad to finally have some fun”. Aidan gave her shoulder a little squeeze and contended himself to ride home with her under his arm.

The diner wasn't far from the train station. They entered and sat down at a table.
Aidan, I see you've brought a date tonight, good for you!”, one of the waitresses beamed at him as she came over to take their order. Aidan flushed red, it hadn't occurred to him that everyone knew him here. Nisha simply giggled. “This seems like a friendly place”, she said, after they had placed their orders.
The food is very good, too. It's nothing fancy, but it's all very tasty. I came here a lot when I was in university.”
They say you can tell a lot about a person by where they take you to dinner on a date.”
Oh dear”, he said, feeling like he'd missed something, “I didn't really plan this all out.”
She laughed. “That's fine, this is nice. A lot of people choose these fancy restaurants and they just seem like they're trying too hard. Besides, now I know you can improvise.”
I suddenly feel like I'm taking a test that I haven't studied for.”
Well, dates are about evaluating the other person, to see if you like them. But don't worry too much, I don't expect you to be perfect, if we have a good time, that's enough for now.”
I notice you're not too nervous about all of this.”
She smiled. “Well, that's because I already know what you think of me. You're very obvious.”
That must be nice”, he pouted.
It has its upsides”, she smiled, “but really, you should have some idea of how I feel about you by now, too.”
I guess I do”, he said sheepishly. “It just hasn't totally sunk in yet.”
That's okay, as long as you want to keep being cute is fine with me.”
It's lucky for me that she likes shy guys”, he thought to himself as they ate their meal. “Or maybe this really is meant to be?”

After they finished dinner Aidan paid the cheque and they left for the movie theatre arm in arm. It had been a long time since he'd been there, and for a moment he feared that he might not find it or it might have closed down, but his fears were unfounded, it was very much still open and it was closer to the diner than he had remembered. The parking lot was packed, as might be expected for a Friday night, and he hoped they would still be able to get tickets. It occurred to him that he really should have checked the show times in advance, but luckily it was about 7:45 and almost everything was playing near 8:00.
We came at a good time”, he told her, “pretty much everything is starting in the next 25 minutes.”
So what are we seeing?”
He had still been putting that question off. “Well, what do you want to see?”
She laughed and wagged her finger at him. “Oh no you don't, you were the one who asked me out, you have to choose.”
Aidan looked up at the show times again. He didn't even recognize most of what was playing. He tried to remember the last time he had even seen a movie in the theatre, the last time he could remember was in university, when he had come with several friends, but that was a very different situation than being here with a date. For one thing, this time he was far more concerned with finding a movie she would like. Aidan quickly glanced around the lobby to the movie posters for some kind of help. Most of them were for shows that weren't playing yet, but he saw several that were in the list above. He figured any poster featuring an explosion or a bullet in mid-flight was probably out, which left only two movies, one that looked like some kind of romantic comedy and an animated movie. The comedy seemed like something he'd enjoy more, but he didn't feel like he knew her tastes well enough to know if she'd like it, and he really didn't want her to be bored, so he went with the safer of the two choices.
Trying to choose the one you think I'd like?” she asked slyly after he bought the tickets.
To be totally honest, I don't really know a lot about movies. This one seemed fun.”
She laughed and tapped him on the head with the palm of her hand. “Oh Aidan, you're funny. Make sure you watch all the trailers then, just in case I let you take me out again.”
He blushed and tried to change the subject. “Do you want popcorn?”
Of course!” she exclaimed happily, leading him off towards the concession stand.

The movie turned out all right. It was cute and there were a few laughs, but he mostly enjoyed the heartwarming scene at the end, where he really got to snuggle up close to her. Nisha seemed to enjoy herself, so coming out of the theatre he was pretty happy with his choice, even if he might not have gone to see it on his own. They stopped in the lobby on their way out to talk for a little bit.
Did you enjoy the movie?” she asked.
It was fun, I had a good time.”
I thought you'd probably like it. It's a good movie, most of my co-workers really liked it.”
Well, now you can all talk about it on Monday.”
Oh, we've already talked about it a lot”, she said, putting her hands behind her back, “I liked it a lot.”
It suddenly hit him, and his heart quickly sank. “Wait, you'd already seen it?”
Yeah, a group from my work went to see it a couple weeks ago.”
You should have said something”, he said nervously. He was sweating heavily now, he really hadn't expected things to turn bad so fast.
Well, you ordered the tickets before you even told me what you had chosen. Besides”, she said, taking his hand, “I still had fun. It's different to watch a movie on a date than when you're with friends.”
He felt his face going red again. “Yeah... it was nice”, he said, looking into her eyes.
So, what now?” she asked him before he could get too caught up in the moment.
It's already almost 10:00, I'd probably better take you home. Where do you live?”
It's pretty far from here”, she said, and it was, it was all the way on the other side of the university, it'd probably be about 40 minutes away on foot.
We should hurry and catch the bus, then, it'll stop running soon”.
She folded her arms behind her back again. “Well, we could always walk.”
It's cold, and it'd take us a long time.”
It'd give us some time to talk.”
To be honest, he thought it was a bit of a crazy idea, he didn't want to jeopardize a good evening if she got cold or tired, but she seemed into it and he wasn't brave enough to argue. He made sure to button his coat all the way to the top and they set out.

Any concerns he might have had that she might get tired of walking were quickly laid to rest, instead, he was the one who had trouble keeping up with her.
It's a lovely night”, she said, pausing for a welcome moment to look up at the sky. “the moon is almost full and all the stars are out.”
Yes, it's very crisp”, he said, his breath visible in front of him when he spoke. “That's probably why it's so clear.”
Oh, I hope you're not cold”, she said, snuggling up to him a bit. “I like taking walks at night, it's so serene and peaceful.”
You seem to have an appreciation for a lot of little things.”
I guess I do”, she said, skipping ahead of him again, “there's a lot of wonderful things in life if you know where to look.”
Is that why you became an artist?”
She stopped to let him catch up with her again and linked his arm. “I suppose that's part of it. When I see great things, I want to share them with other people. I try to capture what's good about life in my art.”
He smiled. “And I suppose there's also Dream Girl.”
Hey, I'll thank you not to poke fun about Dream Girl. You must have come up with some silly things in your time, too.”
He thought back to his comic strip and some of the things he used to do in high school. “Nothing that ever changed my life like that.”
I don't know if I'd say it changed my life. More like focused it, I guess.”
Dreams are a funny subject”, he said, “so what kinds of dreams does the original Dream Girl have?”
She froze for a moment. “Not much I'd want to talk about.”
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. I just figured it'd be something fun. You seem like a fun person.”
I had fun tonight”, she said, quickly returning to normal, “thanks for taking me out.”
I had fun too, we should do this again sometime”, he said, hopefully.
Yeah, for sure”. Aidan breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly the walk didn't seem so long after all.

They chatted a bit more on the way home about various little things. It was after 10:30 when they finally arrived at her house. She stepped towards her door and turned back to face him, expectantly.
I had a lovely time tonight, Aidan”.
I'm glad, so did I.” He suddenly found himself feeling very nervous again, facing her. She was waiting for him to do something, but he didn't know whether to give her a hug or to kiss her. Perhaps she sensed his dilemma, because she reached forward and grasped his hands in her own, taking away his other choice. He leant forward and gingerly kissed her. It was kind of nice, but he was so concerned about whether or not he was doing it right that he didn't have much time to enjoy it. He scanned her face carefully for some sign of approval. She looked at him knowingly for a moment, then pulled him towards her and gave him a big smooch before he could react. He was surprised at first, but he quickly got used to it.
That's better”, she said, smiling at him, “do it like that”.
Yes ma'am”, he said, still a little frazzled.
She laughed. “Oh Aidan, what am I going to do with you?” He could think of a few things right now, but he kept quiet. “Would you like to come in and warm up a bit? I hate sending you back out in the cold.”
His heart started racing at the thought, but he knew better than to get carried away. “I'd better not”, he said, “it's already very late.”
She gave him a knowing smile and released his hands. “All right. Good night, Aidan.” She turned back to the door, opened it, and closed it behind her with a soft click, giving him one last glance before she disappeared from view. He simply stood there and took a deep breath, relieved that it was all finally over and that everything had gone so well. “That really was a wonderful evening”, he thought, gazing warmly at her door as he collected himself and prepared to head home.

There was a soft tapping sound from above. He looked up, and a window slid open. Nisha stuck her head out the window. She had switched into her pyjamas, and she called down to him.
Are you sure you don't want to come in and warm up?” She said, playfully, flicking her hair over her shoulders and causing her now unsupported breasts to bounce up and down alluringly. His heart nearly stopped at the suggestion, and when he opened his mouth to call back to her, no words came out, it just kind of hung open like that. She laughed softly. “You're cute, Aidan, I like you.”
I like you too”, he stammered.
I know” she smiled warmly at him, “you're very obvious. I'll see you next week, okay?”
Okay”, he managed, closing his mouth. She blew him a kiss and closed the window.
He stood there and blinked a few times, having trouble processing it all. “What a girl”, he thought, wiping his sweaty forehead with the palm of his hand.
The buses had definitely stopped running by now, so there was nothing to do but start walking home. It was a long way, but he didn't feel too cold anymore, and he had all kinds of things to think about on the way back.

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