The following day, before breakfast, Alpha squad was set to continue weapons training. Farouk hurriedly scurried past several groups of cadets as he made his way through the courtyard. After arriving at the female barracks, he shuffled inside while a female cadet exited the front entrance. He paced up and down the hall as his mind raced. Shevchenko and Savoi were startled to see him.
“Good morning, ladies. I hope you’re well rested and ready for the exciting day ahead of us,” he belted in an uneven, high-pitched tone.
Farouk’s unusually cheerful voice caused a bit of concern to them. Shevchenko glared at him briefly, then walked by with an unsuccessful attempt to stifle a deep yawn. Her disheveled uniform and messy bun revealed her nighttime activities with Roudan. Savoi greeted Farouk with a nod instead of a pat on the head and followed Shevchenko out of the entryway.
Farouk darted out of the building to catch up to them and called out,
“We should all eat the same items for breakfast today. It will help us be in sync.” Savoi shook her head in disagreement, so he declared, “It’s true. I heard it’s a real thing!”
“I assure you, that is NOT a real thing,” Shevchenko dryly replied.
Farouk stepped in front of them.
“Lily, Thomasa; you both are women, right?” he asked.
Shevchenko and Savoi glared at him, then at each other, puzzled by his question. Farouk seemed lost in thought, as if to plan a fitting follow-up question. Shevchenko smirked and suddenly massaged her breast. She took things further by doing the same to Savoi.
“Last time I checked, we are still women, Maaz,” she jested.
Farouk nodded his head.
“I may have done something pretty terrible involving a woman,” he said.
Shevchenko stopped feeling Savoi up and rolled her eyes.
“I hope you didn’t pull anymore stupid stunts like at the grenade range.”
Savoi chuckled at her statement, as she continued.
“Speaking of pull; why would anyone freeze after pulling the pin from a radioactive grenade?”
“Perhaps it was delayed remorse for the inevitable consequences,” Savoi chimed in.
“Ooh, good one!” Shevchenko laughed.
“Okay, but can we all just appreciate the fact that nobody died?” Farouk huffed.
“Famous last words.”
Savoi gave her a high-five with a wink.
“Lily, I must say; you’ve been on fire with your comebacks lately. I’m truly impressed. Emmett is doing an amazing job of smoothing out your rough edges.”
Shevchenko blushed at first, but let out a girlish giggle before nodding in agreement.
Farouk became frustrated with their jesting and redirect the conversation.
“Do you know cadet Abarra?” he blurted.
Shevchenko paused, then answered.
“Yes, I know Luz. She’s a 2nd year from the Bravo squad. She’s also an assistant instructor in the linguistics program.”
Savoi perked up once she realized who they were referring to.
“Oh yeah, the cute brunette with the big knockers and even bigger chip on her shoulder?”
Shevchenko confirmed by flexing her hands in front of her chest, emulating cadet Abarra’s bust size.
Savoi snickered, then asked, “What about her?”
“I wrote an essay and submitted it to her,” Farouk replied.
Shevchenko and Savoi noticed how his demeanor became sullen. They looked at each other, then simultaneously asked, “Was it an academic essay or a love confession?”
“A bit of both,” he coyly replied, with his head down and eyes to the ground.
Savoi nudged him.
“Well, what did she say?”
“Yes, tell us what happened next,” Shevchenko chimed in.
Farouk mustered the courage to continue.
“Things didn’t go the way I expected. Nothing ever does, so I shouldn’t be surprised.” He looked up to see the women eagerly awaiting his next statement, so he continued. “Our conversation went in an entirely different direction. Instead of feeling flattered, she ignored my confession completely.”
“That can’t be possible. How do you know for sure that she ignored you?”
Farouk let out a deep sigh, and answered.
“I know for sure because when she returned my essay, it was covered in red ink from where she corrected my grammar and misunderstanding of certain words. We spent the entire conversation discussing the history of a crossbow.”
Shevchenko resisted the urge to burst out in laughter.
Savoi smiled and pressed with a sincere interest.
“Crossbow you say? What does that have to do with anything?”
“I mentioned Cupid, since love is synonymous with that name.”
Savoi paused for a moment, deep in thought, until Shevchenko interrupted.
“Oh, I see! You must have confused a crossbow with a regular bow and arrow.”
Farouk uttered something, then refrained.
Savoi gently pat him on the shoulder and said, “Don’t take it too hard, Maaz. Look at it this way; strength and courage are derived from love. You demonstrated both with your confession. If the receiver is deaf, they weren’t meant to be with you.”
Shevchenko had thoroughly been amused by Farouk’s tale of unrequited love, especially since this time it was less disastrous than before he enrolled in the academy. However, she was pained by Savoi’s words. Regarding Yoshida, his awareness was keen, though she had taken no bold efforts to confess her feelings for him.
“In this instance, you pulled the string of your bow and released the arrow. It might not have landed on or even near your intended target, but it’s alright. Just remember what to do next time. Whether you choose to aim higher or lower, be sure the target is worth your effort, so there’ll be no regrets.”
Farouk beamed a smile of relief as he fully understood Savoi’s advice. He wondered if she meant any of those words for herself or Yoshida, but thought better than to ask her about it. Shevchenko signaled they should continue to head down to the chow hall. As they departed, she asked,
“So, are you going to say anything else to Abarra?”
Farouk looked at Savoi and gained a new sense of confidence.
“Nope. I refuse to give her the satisfaction of knowing she got under my skin,” he replied.
Shevchenko shrugged her shoulders and said,
“She might not care either way.”
Farouk sighed as if to release all the anxiety he felt on the matter.
“You’re right, Lily, she might not care either way.” He looked at his watch and realized they were behind schedule, and picked up the pace. “I don’t care anymore, either. It’s like Thomasa said; love confessions to the blind are pointless.”
“I said nothing of the sort,” Savoi cackled.
The trio quick-stepped into a full run to meet Roudan and Yoshida at the chow hall.
~The Waring Robins~