Nanowrimo 2011: Of Places I Don’t Know – Chapter 7

How had she let herself be talked into this, Echo questioned as she stood in the queue for Kalico. She’d never been clubbing before, there was no where loud or crowded or anything like it even in Stony Oaks, but she was here to experience new things. She just wasn’t too sure if this was the sort of thing that she needed to experience.

 

Aiden had talked her into it. He’d said because she’d taught him so much about Apsu, he should show her something about the Lu life, the student Lu life as he had called it for her. And a big part of that, he had said, was going out and having a good time, drinking and dancing all night. Echo wasn’t so sure that it would be a good time, but he had been persuasive, and so she stood, on a Friday night, in the queue for Kalico, one of the biggest student clubs inNorth London, with Aiden, Sophia and Dan.

 

She had tried asking both Aiden and Sophia what Kalico was like, and the most definite answer she got was that it was fun and that she would like it. Deciding that there was no point in being negative about it as it was clearly happening, she decided to accept their answers and go in with an open mind.

 

“Besides,” Aiden had said, “If you really hate it we don’t have to stay, you could just Become and sit in the corner, I bet some of the people in there would go mental if a cat came along to chill!”

 

They shuffled forward in the line, the gaps between people getting smaller. They hadn’t been there that long and already the queue behind them was twice as long as it was when they got there.

 

“Oh I hope we get in before half ten!” Sophia said, looking somewhat exasperated, “I really can’t afford the fiver to get in if we don’t.

 

Echo lifted her arm and tugged up her sleeve to look at her watch, “Well, it’s ten fifteen now, how long does it usually take to get in?” She asked.

 

“Depends,” Dan replied, flicking the end of his cigarette onto the floor past Echo, “We’re probs, oh I dunno, ten minutes away.”

 

Echo nodded. They kept shuffling forward, bit by bit, and each time they did the gaps between people got smaller. Echo wasn’t sure if they were actually moving anywhere or if it was just all of the people in front of them getting impatient and squashing closer and closer together each time. At least being here seemed to have taken Aiden’s mind off of the Xul. She hadn’t meant to tell him, she wouldn’t have if he hadn’t asked, and now she had done she was terrified that somehow, somewhere, the Xul had heard, and would be coming. She had been working on her mind-reading, the art of seeing into the mind of an Apsu, in case it would come in useful. She had popped into Aiden’s mind once, as he was the only Apsu around to try on, and his mind had been full of the Xul and fear. Now she had vowed to steer clear of it unless invited in by Aiden.

 

Eventually they reached the front of the queue. Sophia started taking her jacket off to check it in, and Echo did the same, revealing a short, black lace dress that she had purchased on yet another shopping trip with Sophia.

 

“Aw, that dress looks amazing on you, hun!” Sophia exclaimed when she saw it.

 

Echo looked down, blushing slightly. It still made her feel awkward when people commented on her clothing, however nice there comments were. She replied with a shy thank-you, before being interrupted by the bouncer asking them for their ID’s. Echo poked around in her bag before pulling out a provisional driving licence she had sent of for after being recommended to do so by her mother, despite having no immediate need or want to drive. The four of them handed their IDs over to the bouncer, and one by one stepped inside.

 

As soon as she stepped inside, Echo was hit by the musty wave of smoke-machine pumped air and spilled beer, the pounding of an electronic bass line, and bright red flashing lights. Sophia grabbed her arm and led her over to the cloakroom, where she handed over their coats and £2 and got given back the raffle ticket slip to have them returned, which Sophia slipped inside her bra. They went back over to rejoin Aiden and Dan, who were already standing in yet another queue at the bar.

 

Kalico was large, extraordinarily large as far as Echo was concerned. There was a DJ in the corner, playing an array of loud, electric rock music. Next to the DJ booth was a small table with a pen and paper, for requests. The place was decorated with mirrored walls, and swirling diamante patterns on black backgrounds.

 

“What do you want?” Aiden bent down to ask her, talking straight into her ear so that she could hear him over the music.

 

This was a slightly more difficult question for Echo to answer than it probably should have been. She didn’t like to put anything too artificial into her body, it just wasn’t the way that they did things at Stony Oaks, but here, that seemed to be all they had. Usually she stuck to wine, but they didn’t seem to have that here. She settled on a vodka and orange juice, which Aiden ordered, paid for, and handed to her.

 

“Thanks,” Echo said, going through her bag, “Let me give you some money.”

 

“Don’t worry about it.” Aiden replied, putting his hand over hers.

 

The four of them made their way, drinks in hand, to the sofas lining the sides of the club. They found a space to sit amidst the crowd of people and sipped on their drinks. Echo wondered what people actually did in clubs. All that seemed to be happening was them sitting and drinking somewhere louder than in a bar, so that they couldn’t really talk.

 

“Do you want to dance?” Echo heard Aiden’s voice say. The sound of his telepathy made her feel more comfortable in this strange, loud and large place. She replied with a shrug. She did not know if she wanted to dance, and to be perfectly honest, she wasn’t entirely sure she knew how to dance. Aiden stood up and led her over to the glittered floor where there were a collection of people dancing. Not sure of herself or what to do, she shuffled from one foot to the other, nodding her head in time with the electric bass line.

 

A few songs passed and Echo continued her awkward half-dance. Aiden’s dancing seemed so effortless to her, and she wondered how he managed to do it without looking stupid.

 

“Do you want another drink?” Aiden asked.

 

That was probably exactly what she needed, thought Echo. That was probably how everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

 

“Sure.” She replied, as they headed over to the bar, where they rejoined Sophia and Dan.

 

Sophia grabbed onto Echo’s are and lead her towards the bathroom. It was quieter in there, and, standing by the mirrors, Sophia began to scrunch up the top of her blonde hair and apply lip gloss. Once she had finished, she offered the gloss to Echo.

 

“Oh, I don’t know,” Echo replied, “I’ve never worn stuff on my lips before.”

 

Sophia looked slightly shocked at the idea that someone could get to the age of 19 without ever having worn lip gloss. Echo could tell from the look on her face that she thought it was odd, so she accepted the offer.

 

“It’ll look nice on you,” Sophia said, “I’m sure Aiden will like it.” She continued, in a sing-song voice.

 

This caught Echo slightly off guard.

 

“He likes you, y’know, he’s always talking about you when you’re not around.” Sophia informed her.

 

Echo’s eyes opened wider. Ever since Sophia had brought up the idea that Echo might like Aiden, the thought had not left her head for long, to the point where she eventually came to the conclusion that she did in fact like him, at least to some extent. If he liked her too that could only be positive, she thought. Not that it was something she would be acting on any time soon. Not that she even knew how to act on it if she wanted to.

 

They left the bathroom and made their way back to the bar. Aiden handed Echo her drink, which she thanked him for and sipped. It tasted stronger this time.

 

“I got you a double, hope that’s okay.” Aiden shouted over the music.

 

Echo nodded, drinking more of it, the pink and gold lip gloss leaving a sparkly film on the edge of the glass. Aiden got out his pack of cigarettes, and gestured to the group that he was going outside to the smoking area.

 

“I’ll come with.” Echo shouted, glad to have an excuse for some fresh air and quiet.

 

A man on the door stamped their hands with a purple “K” shaped stamp, as they walked out to stand in the sectioned off smoking area. Aiden took out a cigarette and lit it.

 

“Can I try one?” Echo asked, on impulse.

 

“Try a bit of mine,” Aiden replied, handing it to her, “’cause you probably won’t like it.”

 

Echo took it and put it between her lips. She inhaled shallowly and slowly, her lungs exploding as she did so. She spluttered coughing and handed it back to a laughing Aiden.

 

“Sorry,” Aiden said, still smiling as he patted her back.

 

“How do you do that? It’s like you can’t breathe!” She asked once she caught her breath back.

 

“It gets better, I guess,” He replied, “At least, it’s not always like that.”

 

There was silence for a little while, or, at least, as silent as you can get directly outside a loud club and midnight. Echo appreciated the quiet, giving her ears a rest. She knew it was meant to be fun, but it was not what she was used to, it was too much, too loud, and so focused around drinking. It was so loud that talking was made so difficult it was hardly even possible past the essentials. Echo thought that this was probably intentional, so that people could dance and pair off with people they found attractive without having to know them at all, using the noise as an excuse.

 

“So how are you liking it?” Aiden asked her, “You look a little uncomfortable.”

 

“Yeah, I mean, it’s okay I guess,” She said, not wanting to offend him or have her think she was too odd for not liking this thing that the Lu seemed to love doing, “It’s just a little crowded for me, I think.” She paused, “And I don’t know the music.”

 

Aiden nodded, “We don’t have to stay.”

 

“No, no you’re all having fun, and I don’t mind it so much not to stay.” She replied, although in a way she would have rather liked to have left.

 

“If you’re not having fun then I’m not either. Soph and Dan can stay, I just want to spend time with you.” Aiden explained.

 

Was what Sophia has said back in the bathrooms true? Could it be? Echo was taken aback, and her face must have shown it.

 

“Only if you want to, of course.” Aiden added quickly.

 

She did want to. She wanted to talk with him, to hear that beautiful voice and to be able to look into those beautiful eyes. She wanted to hear what he had to say and to be able to be herself. But if she wanted to talk, that was certainly not going to happen here.

 

Aiden moved a step closer to her, but that step made a lot of difference, him now within her bubble reserved for the intimate. The October night had a chill to it and he put his arm around her, her jacket still inside. He finished his cigarette and they went back in, they found Dan and Sophia, made their excused and said their goodbyes. Echo got her jacket back and they were outside again.

 

“I’ll walk you home, if you like?” Aiden asked. While he would have liked to have stayed out with her, he knew she probably was not up for it after the night at Kalico.

 

“That’s be nice, thanks.” Echo replied. She didn’t want Aiden to leave. And while she was somewhat relieve that the clubbing part of the night had ended, she didn’t want the rest of it to end as well.

Echo’s flat was not far away and it was not long before they were outside her door.

 

“Do you want to come in for a bit?” She asked him, hoping he would say yes.

 

“Sure.” Aiden replied.

 

Echo led them inside and into the living room. Now she was back at home, she wanted to take off her make-up and change back into clothes that perhaps didn’t show quite as much of her legs and chest, but she thought of all that Sophia had jokingly said about looking nice for Aiden and decided against it just in case.

 

Sitting down on the sofa, she noticed Aiden looking at her, a similar way to how she looked into his eyes.

 

“There’s something I’ve been wanting to do all night,” He said, realising how clichéd it sounded as the words left his mouth, “I didn’t mean that do sound so stupid, but is it okay if I, um, if we kissed?”

 

Before Echo could answer, their kiss was already happening. It was slow, short, but nice; nothing too much, but not disappointing a the same time.

 

“I’m sorry,” Aiden said, as their lips broke away, “I’d have waited for you to answer, but I’m a little drunk and I was scared you’d say no.”

 

Echo smiled, and leaned back into their embrace, “I wouldn’t have said no.”

 

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