The room fell awkwardly silent once again, as everyone knew Shevchenko’s question was more of a plea than anything else. Yoshida’s cheeks became flushed and jawline tightened. It was safe to say there was a hint of truth nestled within Molvik’s rumor. Understanding exactly what it all entailed had the potential of devastation for Shevchenko. Yoshida was never in the business of unintentional and unwarranted harm. He deflected the question with an abrupt tap on Roudan’s shoulder to show him the new series of fiber laser beam bayonets out on display.
The men marveled at the latest version of weapons enhanced with advanced technology. They spoke in a hushed tone, as to avoid Shevchenko’s wrath for being openly dismissed. Farouk missed the cue that the conversation had changed. He banged his fist on the sergeant’s desk in a tirade.
“Wait a minute! It makes no sense to me that Lt. Co. Adame would place Thomasa essentially on lockdown at the lab over a tawdry rumor. She’s been a model cadet, even improving on her fitness qualifications. I don’t see how her off-duty activities would have such a massive impact on anything else. There has to be more to the story,” he said.
“There is,” Shevchenko interjected, as she watched Yoshida and Roudan pretend not to respond. Roudan swiftly turned and his eyes pierced hers with an intense warning not to say anything else. She darted her eyes away and zoned in on Yoshida. They each held in a breath of anticipation over her next words. The scorn in her eyes surpassed any hope that she had not become unnerved by Yoshida’s refusal to elaborate further details about his rendezvous with Savoi.
“Well, if you must know, I can tell you this; Thomasa reaped the full consequences of her actions,” she said without batting an eyelash.
Farouk perked up at the sound of her unhinged tone. Yoshida smirked, believing Shevchenko was bitter to know he and Savoi were intimately acquainted. He crossed his arms and drew in a sharp breath as she continued.
Shevchenko slowly paced between the sergeant’s desk where Farouk sat, then between Roudan and Yoshida. Her loafers tapped the linoleum floor with deliberate impact. She seized the opportunity to taunt them and relished in their dismay.
“From what I know, the Charlies got an eyeful last night. They were reprimanded for trespassing in the laboratory, which they could’ve only gained access to from a cadet with granted credentials to be there. They told Molvik that Thomasa let them inside. I can’t imagine why she would do such a thing, but perhaps only you can answer that. Right, Haru?”
Yoshida did not reply. He resisted the temptation to defend Savoi, as she had protected him from an impossible situation with the Charlie squad. In his mind, it was better to say nothing than to give Shevchenko the upper hand and twist his words. Matters could not get any worse, so he thought.
Shevchenko became impatient that she could not stir a rile from Yoshida, so she went in for the kill.
“Whatever went on must’ve been enticing, because it gave Molvik the idea that he could have a go at her as well,” she said.
By then, Farouk had become dizzy watching Shevchenko pace around them. He laid his head on the desk as he listened, but snapped upright at her last statement.
“What? What do you mean by that?” he asked.
Yoshida was taken aback. With a scoff, he asked, “You’re joking, right?” He looked at Roudan, who stood stoically beside him. “Lily’s joking, right?”
Roudan remained silent, but his eyes flashed a sorrowful surrender. He watched Yoshida’s eyes swell with rage and tears. Roudan nodded at Shevchenko.
“Lily said she fought him off, so he couldn’t get far,” he said reassuringly.
“How do you know this? Were you with her when it happened?” Farouk asked.
“Of course, not. I had no dealings with her foolishness,” Shevchenko replied smugly.
Yoshida lunged within an inch of Shevchenko’s face. It took all Roudan’s strength to hold him back.
“What do you mean you weren’t there for her? Why wasn’t anyone by her side when that sleazy bastard tried to touch her?” he roared.
Shevchenko nearly fell backwards as the two men tussled to the floor. Farouk panicked for a moment, then found the last of his bearings. He jumped up and yelled at the top of his lungs.
“You two need to stop fighting so we can find Molvik and pulverize him!”
Farouk’s declaration caused Yoshida and Roudan to stop wrestling. Roudan had subdued Yoshida with a headlock to hold him in place, but let him go. They looked at each other, then back at Farouk, in agreement. Without a word, they were on their way to charge out of the armory. Shevchenko halted them with a screech.
“Are you all mad? What the hell are you going to do, Maaz? Will you burn the academy down to avenge Thomasa’s honor? I saw her this afternoon, and she handed me a confidential report.” The men did not readily respond to her, so she continued. “Please believe me when I tell you; the hands she laid on Molvik were far worse than whatever he tried on her. I’m talking about a black eye, 3 cracked ribs, and a noted swollen groin area. The Tribunal Council had Molvik expelled with prejudice. His life is screwed since he can’t enlist anywhere and will have no service for the kingdom.”
The men stood in awe of what Shevchenko revealed. Her sincerity left no room for doubt that she had told them the truth. Yoshida looked at Roudan apologetically for his outburst. Roudan offered an unspoken pardon, and they shook hands. Farouk’s adrenalin crashed as he slumped up against the wall. Roudan and Yoshida helped him back to the sergeant’s desk to rest.
Shevchenko was nearly brought to tears by the entire episode. Everything from Yoshida’s passion for Savoi to Farouk’s attempt to save her, (as if she were a damsel in distress), put the dynamics of the Alpha squad into a clear perspective. Roudan was no better, because he also was ready to tear Molvik and the entire academy to shreds on behalf of Savoi. They all loved her. The truth of the matter revealed, Hatsuharu Yoshida was head over heels in love with Thomasa Savoi.
“Men don’t cry over a woman unless they are completely taken by her.”
Those hollow words rang through Shevchenko’s mind. Her train of thought was interrupted by Farouk’s resumed humming. He lifted his head off the desk and pointed at Shevchenko.
“I’m glad Thomasa is alright, but those were awfully harsh words you had for me, Lily,” he said.
Roudan looked at her with concern.
“Yeah, you probably didn’t need to mention anything about burning down the academy,” he replied.
Yoshida smirked; satisfied and proud that Savoi had taken the garbage out all on her own regarding Molvik. He nodded in agreement with Roudan.
“You all sound just like Thomasa. Even after her hellish ordeal, she had the audacity to tell me to loosen up.”
Farouk chuckled and flexed his eyebrows repeatedly.
“She’s right, you know.” He nodded his head toward her vest pocket, where the second chocolate truffle remained. “I bet if you tried to chill out just once, you wouldn’t be so uptight all the time,” he said.
Roudan reminded everyone that he needed to collect his motorbike from behind the library. He convinced Yoshida to keep Farouk in the armory until he sobered up. Then, he and Shevchenko went to retrieve the bike. They rode around post all night to cool off from the intensity of the armory incident. He took her to the overpass where he and Savoi hung out. Without his knowledge, she ate the entire chocolate truffle. Not long after did the effects take in.
Shevchenko felt like she was floating on a cloud. She giggled infectiously as she plopped down on the mattress. Roudan salvaged one of his flasks filled with lemon moonshine. He took a swig and reluctantly handed the flask to Shevchenko, who nodded for him to do so. She took in a big gulp, even after he tried to persuade her to slow down. She just laughed it off.
“Emmett, come sit next to me,” she cackled.
Roudan eased himself next to her, bewildered by her sudden mood change.
“Everyone thinks I need to loosen up. Well, perhaps they’re right.” She looked at him with a big smile. “Maybe I will,” she said.
Roudan smiled back, and said, “Here, here,” as he toasted his flask in the air. Before he could take another drink, she kissed him on the lips. He pulled away in shock.
“Woah, hold on there, missy!”
Shevchenko grabbed him by the collar. Her eyes pleaded with him.
“I have to start somewhere, right?” she asked.
Roudan could not shake his soft spot for Shevchenko. It was clear he liked her, and she did not dislike him. The same could not be said about her feelings for Yoshida. Perhaps this would be the best way for her to get over him. There was no pressure and nothing was forced between them. He allowed her hands to roam freely as she returned the favor.
~The Waring Robins~