Later that afternoon, Shevchenko waited at the barracks in her room alone. It startled her when Savoi hurriedly entered their living quarters without speaking. Tension immediately set in, as Shevchenko watched her roommate sift through the wardrobe drawer for a change of clothes. Right away, Shevchenko noticed her face was flushed with dried tear streams and a few of her braids had come undone. Shevchenko wondered what had brought Savoi to such an altered state, but also took offense at being ignored.
“Where the hell have you been?” Shevchenko asked.
Savoi continued to gather her shower toiletries in silence.
Shevchenko had been sitting on the lounge chair, but stood to hoover over Savoi.
“Oh, you will not speak? That’s just fine Thomasa. I think I know what’s going on here, and why you’re not talking. I guess it’s true,” Shevchenko pressed further.
Savoi looked up in surprise, with eyes wide as saucers, anticipating Shevchenko’s next sentence.
Shevchenko clicked her tongue indignantly, then said,
“Word on the street is that you were off getting busy with Haru last night.”
Savoi sighed in relief, then rolled her eyes. Shevchenko had already annoyed her with the ridiculous inquiry, but she spoke in a high-pitched tone that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Savoi continued to gather her things without a word.
Shevchenko knew Savoi’s silence and body language were not a denial of guilt, nor a plea of innocence. Her voice cracked, as if she would cry, which made her angrier.
“So, it is true! Is that where you been all this time? Were you off screwing him all day?”
Savoi slammed her gear on the coffee table, then reached in her satchel to pull out a long manila envelope. She shoved it in Shevchenko’s hands. The envelope had CONFIDENTIAL stamped in red ink on top. Shevchenko opened the envelope and pulled out a file.
Savoi sighed, as if to be in deep thought.
“I had a fight with Molvik in the lab. It was the oddest thing, because I assumed he was gay,” she finally replied, then collected her belongs and headed for the door. Before she departed, she paused and turned to Shevchenko.
“Word of advice, Lilya Shevchenko; It might benefit the entire kingdom during this God forsaken war if you could loosen up… maybe find someone of your own to get busy with,” she said, then slammed the door behind her.
Savio’s nasty exchange was a hard pill for Shevchenko to swallow. Especially since she called her by her whole name. She slumped on her cot in tears at the thought of Savoi and Yoshida being intimate together. In her mind, she knew they had always gravitated toward each other like moths to flames. In her heart, she wished Yoshida fancied her instead. It was clear the latter would never come to fruition. With nothing left to consider, she laid on her back to read Savoi’s file.
An hour later, Shevchenko roamed aimlessly around campus. Farouk was in the library to study for his aviation exam. Savoi was more than likely back at the lab, and Yoshida was nowhere to be found. She bumped into Roudan coming out of the Shoppette. His hands were full of tools, and he had a slight grin when he nodded at her. She followed him to the other side of the store, where he was fixing a motorbike. Roudan was happy for her company, but surprised that she came with him.
“Taking a breather from Thomasa, I see,” he said as a conversation starter.
Shevchenko wasted no time in venting.
“It’s already bad enough I’ve covered her guard duty shifts every time she’s needed at the lab, but this latest incident is a doozy.”
Roudan laid down on his side to tinker with the bike.
“What happened now?” he laughed.
Shevchenko squatted down to quiet her voice.
“Apparently, she was working alone in the lab with cadet Molvik.”
“Oh yeah? What’s so special about that?”
“Word got out about Thomasa and Haru’s tryst.” She glared at him to see if he was familiar with the situation. When he did not reply, she continued.
“Molvik told everyone she threw herself at Haru.”
“I never liked that guy. He’s a meathead, just like his Delta dog brother.”
Shevchenko looked around to see if anyone was near enough to hear them, then leaned in closer to his ear.
“Things escalated when he tried to put the moves on her,” she whispered.
Roudan leaped up in wrath.
“Are you serious? Haru’s going to murder him, if I don’t get to him first!”
Shevchenko hushed him with a finger over his mouth. A few cadets passed by before she continued.
“There’s no need. Thomasa respectfully declined his advances, then proceeded to hand him his ass and nearly his head. They both were sent to the Brass. The Tribunal Council conducted a swift investigation. Molvik was expelled and dishonorably discharged from service. He won’t be able to enlist in any branch of the kingdom’s armed forces,” she replied.
Roudan knelt beside the bike and tinkered harder.
“And what of Thomasa?” he asked.
“Oh, she’s fine. Lt. Co. Adame wouldn’t allow anything to happen to his precious gifted child.”
Roudan signaled for her to sit next to him on the ground. The cold, hard concrete was uncomfortable, but no more than their conversation.
“Aw, come on now. We both know her skill set as a chemical technician has far superseded any of her peers. It’s a shame the citizens of Intagua Island had not been tapped sooner to enroll here. I get it, though. The islanders are minimalists, with no desire to conform to the standards of nobility. Thomasa was fortunate to have been adopted by General Malta and given her proxy to attend training with us,” he said.
Shevchenko sighed with the realization that Roudan would always be on Savoi’s side.
“She was also fortunate that General Malta created a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment before she retired from her post. Ultimately, I consider all this nothing more than a natural consequence. Thomasa’s erratic behavior has gone unchecked for quite some time now. If she threw herself at Haru, what did she expect would happen?”
“She didn’t throw herself at him,” he cackled.
“Were you there?” she asked indignantly.
Roudan put his arms up in surrender.
“No, but I know that she and Haru have had built-up sexual tension since the day of the entrance exam. They were bound to come to blows at some point,” he answered.
Shevchenko nudged him to press further.
“Are they a couple?”
Roudan studied her eyes. She clearly had a thing for Yoshida and needed to know if she still had a chance to be with him.
“It’s hard to say,” he answered dryly, then continued to work on the bike.
Shevchenko was unaware of Roudan’s disinterest in continuing the conversation.
“Haru hasn’t mentioned anything to you about his feelings for her?” she asked.
Roudan let out a faux gasp, then said,
“Despite what you might think, Lily, Haru and I are men of distinguished culture who don’t kiss and tell. Whatever his feelings are, they’re none of my business or concern.” He witnessed the pain in her eyes from their exchange and decided to lighten up the mood.
“Has Thomasa said anything to you?” he asked, knowing full well no such conversation would ever take place.
Shevchenko groaned, remembering how awful Savoi was to her earlier in the barracks.
“I can barely get three sentences out of her these days. It’s just surprising to me she wouldn’t wait for him to make the first moves. What kind of girl is she?”
Roudan smirked at Shevchenko’s disdain for Savoi.
“She’s an intelligent woman under a lot of pressure who knows that playing it safe never solved a single problem. Her boldness is an attractive superpower,” he replied.
Shevchenko shrugged her shoulders defiantly, then asked,
“Don’t tell me you’ve been enchanted by her as well?”
Roudan patted her on the top of her head to calm her down. When that clearly annoyed her more, he said,
“It’s not like that. Thomasa looks up to me as her big brother, and I see her as the little sister I never had. We share a bond in that we were both forced to enlist at the academy because of extenuating circumstances from our respective families.”
Shevchenko realized that Yoshida also was forced to enroll at Calvary to keep his crime family members safe from being tried for war crimes. Inevitably, the three of them were connected in ways she and Farouk were not. The thought made her feel lonely and out of their loop.
Roudan saw Shevchenko needed to calm herself, and the more they talked about Savoi or Yoshida, that would not be the case.
“Let’s try to take our minds off the gnarly stuff going on right now,” he said, then mounted his bike. He nodded for her to join him. She remembered how Savoi taunted her about needing to loosen up, then reluctantly agreed.
~The Waring Robins~