Christmas is not the time for fear. Yet, as the temperature gauges in 4South plummet and the architects construct papier-maché igloos, there are sights that strike fear into even the most experienced Bathonians. For first busmen and buswomen, thoughts of black ice creeping over the roads and etching into windscreen cause a shiver. SU officers dread the slew of Christmas dinner risk assessment. Though most dreaded of all on a cold December night, preluded with screams and hoots heard across the city centre, is the sports social.

Most prolific of all are the Rugby Boys. Maybe it is the constant collisions causing concussions, but there’s a unique quality all ruggers possess that predisposes them to have the craziest Christmas socials of them all. This night would be no exception.

Aaron was several pints in. The cheapest drink at Brewhouse had served him well. He could only follow his friends from the sound of their voice and because he was sellotaped to one of them- foot touching foot, thigh to thigh. It would be romantic if, on his neon green leggings, there weren’t the remains of the earlier TC (tactical chunder). His other half, team scrumhalf Noah, was also in the depths of drunken stupor. Between the two of them they could barely march at their final destination: Tuesday Night Labs.

Aaron and Noah were running late. As professional freshers, they had gotten far too drunk far too quickly and were swaying from side to side like the palm tree blazed onto Aaron’s bright pink shirt. Other aspects of professional fresher behaviour include eating protein powder for breakfast but cereal for dinner, those who practice flatcest and those who forget their ID at halls when going on a night out. Noah was one such professional fresher, leaving Aaron alone in the queue for labs at exactly 11 o’clock.

The queue to get into a club is not the best place to be unattended and unable to see straight. His muddy vans were placed firmly into the ground, knees slightly bent in an attempt to ground himself in reality. He could see the voices around him, hear the blur in their faces through the squeals and jeers. He shuffled his feet forward slowly. Thankfully the guy Aaron bumped his head into several times was also drunk and couldn’t really tell where he was as he leant onto his flatmate.

Soon Aaron’s headrest disappeared, and he looked up to see a hulking-Chewbacca of a security guard. The head a size of a melon, a thick ginger beard that stuck out. His eyebrows thundered into a cross as he gazed at Aaron, dark grey eyes bearing into his soul.

“ID please Olivia Newton.” He squeaked.

“What?” Aaron was confused. The face didn’t match the voice. Also, who was Olivia. He turned around expecting to see a girl but there were only lacrosse guys in suits. “I’m not Olivia.”

“Aye sure you are! C’mon, the physical video?” the clouds dissipated from his forehead as his eyebrow raised. “My god. That’s disappointing. Just go on in.” Aaron nodded. He didn’t understand what just happened. He didn’t even get his ID out. Slowly, he shuffled his way down into the depths of labyrinth.

The city of Paris is famous for its’ underground ossuaries, the catacombs, that have provoked stories about the secrets it holds for years. Rome shares in treading the stories of its buried past, holding its breath every time a shovel hits the ground in hopes of more artefacts. In the city of Bath, if you dug into a street, it is more likely you’d end up in one of the basement clubs. Although without centuries-long history, everywhere Aaron looked he could see the beginning, middle and end of stories. A couple fighting in the corner. Someone screaming at the DJ for not playing ABBA. In the corner of the room stood someone that he had never seen before but he couldn’t pull himself away. She was beautiful. Someone fell into him and he lowered his gaze to see Noah at his feet who had managed to lose his shirt on the way back from halls. He looked up but she was gone.

In any club it would be difficult to find someone you know let alone a stranger. The Labyrinth of Greek myth would have been easier to navigate- three rooms in the dark, each clouded with vape smoke whose haze flicked through a rainbow of colours as the dance floor dizzied and waved. Aaron pulled Noah.

“Did you see her?” he looked around, peering over heads.

“What?” Noah grinned and glugged at his VK. Aaron let out a grunt and circled through the crowd, bobbing and weaving, his tight neon flashing as he snaked through. He needed to say hi at least. Her image was seared into his mind and he followed the music from room to room, searching for the siren that caused his mind to rock.

It had been a while of searching and Noah had downed a few VKs. They had been joined by more neon-strapped rugby boys and were all dancing to Come On Eileen when Aaron ducked away. He couldn’t get her out of his head. It was a blurry silhouette that he couldn’t make out be he could swear she was looking at him, and he felt so lucky that she had. He passed the middle bar and headed to the small one in dire need of a Jagerbomb. As You Belong With Me continued to play, he waited for the barman to notice him, hoping the lycra would do the heavy lifting.

There was a rush of blood to his face. The music changed, Latch by Sam Smith. He had been petrified, like one of the Greek heroes when they met Medusa. Instead of being stunned by sheer horror, here he couldn’t move for fear they might disappear back into the Labyrinth.

There she was.

He really hadn’t dreamed her up. The first thing he noticed was her hair in a high ponytail held by a shimmering gold bangle. A golden nose ring too. The sharp eyeliner assured him that, if she ever looked his way, her gaze would easily penetrate its way right into him. He took a breath and sided up to her.

“Hey, what are you getting?” his palms were sweaty. He was right, her eyes flicked to him. He had to bend his knees to steady himself.

“Vodka lime soda. Why?” her voice stood out from the music- it had power, it had a cheek as she slowed down to ask him the question. Why. It replayed in his head a few times.

“My treat?” he smiled. He was doing pretty good. She laughed and picked up her drink.

“Sure.” She started walking away. Aaron grabbed his phone and smiled for faceID. He looked around but she was gone. Again. He’d messed up. He might as well leave; she wasn’t into it. And he’d just wasted money. Then a head, ponytail first, poked out from around the corner of the club door. “Are you coming?!”

In the halls of any club something magical can happen. It’s when you hear the colours washing your face and see the music colouring your ears. The mass of bodies and bad dance moves transcend into a shifting mass of smiles, flashing lights and flailing arms. Aaron found himself here, his arms around the hottest girl he’d ever seen. He went for it, giving her a peck on the cheek. She drew him in with a long kiss back, feeling the fire on his lips and around his neck with her arms wrung around. No thoughts, just vibes as for the next few minutes Aaron went through dimensions and wormholes, stuck in her constellation of stars.

Minutes or hours or weeks had flown by in seconds. The lights went on and the spark went out. She looked up.

“I’m really sorry but I’ve got to find my friends,” she smiled “Message me though.” Aaron smiled back, nodding. His knees were bent. Her arms slid down and her hands clasped his face as she placed a kiss on his lips and backed away leaving Aaron standing alone in the middle of the crowd.

As nights go, Aaron felt on top of the world. Unfortunately, Noah hadn’t had the same luck and was in the middle of getting wrangled out of the club by the security guard that let Aaron in. After negotiating with the absolute unit of a man, Noah was freed without the police getting called, leaving the neon-clad professional freshers straggling up Bathwick Hill.

“Why did they want to kick you out again?” Aaron asked between deep breaths.

“It’s simple really. I tried to put a song on and they didn’t like what I chose.”

“So you tried to take over the booth?” they both started laughing.

“Only for one song,” Noah said.

“It was?”

“All I Want for Christmas is You, duh.”

“I wish I heard it.” Aaron laughed.

“What do you mean didn’t you hear it?” Noah stopped, turning and steadying himself on Aaron’s shoulder.

“No, I was busy.”

“Doing what…” Noah paused and a grin crept across his face “doing who?”

Suddenly the air left Aaron’s lungs. The street lights went out. He was stuck still. His knees were shaking. He couldn’t believe it.

“Oh, shit!” Aaron shouted. “I didn’t get her name!”

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