Yoshida allowed Savoi to remain rested on his chest long after Lt. Co. Adame had swept the Charlies away. He stroked her bare back until she stopped trebling. Silently, she eased herself up to clasp her bra. He lingered for a few moments to allow his body time to settle, then sat upright on the table with his back turned away from her for more privacy.
The lecture hall was dimly lit, with only the stars and moon to offer light through the bay windows. Savoi slightly panicked as she searched her area in silence. Yoshida hopped off the worktable and knelt to retrieve her blouse. He handed it to her with his face turned away. Once she was fully dressed, she nudged him to get up and their eyes met. He could not read her disposition to determine if she was ashamed, remorseful, or resentful. An onset of steady rain interrupted their awkward gaze.
“We should get going,” she said, then darted towards the exit.
Yoshida followed Savoi through the rainstorm behind the planetarium building, beneath a large overpass. He had never been to this location, and did not know it existed. The space was decorated with a semblance of furniture. There were two metal stools, a makeshift metal table, and a worn-out mattress. He watched Savoi as she sat on a stool and pulled a tin box from under the mattress. She opened the box to retrieve a match and an unusual-looking cigarette. When she lit it, the smell of cotton candy and a hint of marijuana filled the air.
She took a long drag, then offered the joint to him. Yoshida was stunned to see Savoi smoking, but her behavior earlier made this event par for the course. He took a long drag as well to calm his nerves. The initial pull was smooth and sweet, but soon after, he felt as if flames scorched the back of his throat. He felt an instant rush to his core and was dizzied.
“This is some potent stuff! What’s in it?” he choked.
Savoi cackled, as she did not imagine he would have such a reaction.
“Oh, just a little of this and a little of that. I designed it myself. Do you like it?” she asked, still amused by his astonishment.
He held out his index finger to signal his coughing fit was nearly over. Then, with a single tear that clung to an eyelash, he smirked.
“Now I know the real reason Lt. Co. Adame orders you at the lab all the time.”
With a devilish grin, she said, “If you only knew the half of it.”
Yoshida’s second pull on the cigarette was deliberately slower. Though the flames still burned his throat, he handled the discomfort better and eased into a mellow buzz. As the steady stream of rain lulled them, the pair took turns to puff out pink clouds of smoke. Yoshida made impressive donut holes, while Savoi made hearts. She fell into a fit of laughter when Yoshida puffed an unfamiliar-looking object.
“What’s that supposed to be?” she giggled.
Yoshida took another hit, then replied, “It was supposed to be a dragon.”
They both laughed at the preposterous notion.
Savoi took the cigarette from him and peered hard at the image before it evaporated.
“Looked more like an elephant to me,” she said.
Yoshida knelt to her and looked crossly into her now bloodshot eyes.
“Speaking of elephants in this room; perhaps we should discuss what happened between us on the balcony and in the lecture hall,” he said.
Savoi had been slumped over the table, but sat straight as possible on the stool.
“Do we really need to revisit that right now?” she asked.
“Hell yes,” Yoshida cackled. “That was intense and insane!”
Savoi grinned briefly, then pouted her lips.
“I was only trying to help, and didn’t mean for things to go that far. For that, I apologize. If you’re pissed at me, I understand,” she said.
Yoshida was too high to read her body language. The prior scenario was already strenuous because of his encounter with the Charlie squad. He knew he wasn’t angry, but surprised by her course of actions. If nothing, he was relieved that violence was unnecessary to end the situation.
He playfully bopped her on the nose with his index finger, then said, “I’m not pissed at you. I just need to know what you were thinking? Where did all of that come from?”
She returned the gesture to him and smiled.
He crossed his arms as he stood to tower over her.
“What would’ve happened if Lt. Co. Adame hadn’t come around?”
Savoi sat quietly for a moment, then blurted,
“I’m not sure. I didn’t have a plan. I made it all up as we went along.” Then she stood up to look him in the eyes. “I’ve never been with anyone like that before.”
Yoshida was taken aback by her confession. He licked his lips and reminisced about their make-out sessions on the balcony and the lab.
“Wait, you mean to tell me you’ve never kissed a boy or anything?”
Savoi shook her head.
“Nope. I often rely on my imagination for the things I’ve never experienced.”
Yoshida chuckled nervously.
“You could’ve fooled me. Hell, you fooled those Charlie dopes for sure.”
Savoi handed him the cigarette, then staggered over to the mattress and plopped down. She savored the satisfaction of his answer.
“Well, with your infinite number of intimate partners, I will have to take your word for it,” she replied.
Yoshida took offense at her dig.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked.
Savoi reclined on her elbows and hummed whimsically.
“Oh, nothing. Just that you have a mob of fangirls madly in love with you,” she replied.
Yoshida took another long drag and held in the smoke for a few seconds. As he exhaled, he asked, “Are you one of them?”
Savoi snickered and struggled to sit up.
“Yes, I am,” she proudly proclaimed.
Yoshida blinked repeatedly. There was no way he could have misinterpreted what she said. He had known for some time that they shared a mutual attraction, but nothing was set in motion.
“Her temperament has been off for a while now,” he thought. “Perhaps she’s just acting out to blow off steam.”
He kneeled in front of her on the mattress. There was a certain sincerity in her eyes that he could not shake.
“Are we to become a couple now?” he asked jokingly.
Savoi frowned and ran her hand through his hair.
“That wouldn’t be a good idea,” she whispered. When he tensed up, she continued.
“It’s not because of your past, but rather your future. You will do amazing things for our kingdom. I don’t want to hold you back.”
Yoshida was moved by her words. Just as he leaned in to kiss her, Roudan sprinted under the overpass.
“Whew, it’s raining cats and dogs and cows out here tonight,” he belted.
When he removed the hood from his fleece jacket, he saw Yoshida and Savoi. She quickly retrieved the cigarette and took a drag.
“You started without me, Thomasa,” he said, then looked at Yoshida.
“Haru, I didn’t know you’d be here.”
Yoshida stood up to greet him with their usual fist bump.
“I followed Thomasa here. I didn’t realize this was a hang-out spot for you guys,” he replied.
Roudan pulled a copper flask from his pants pocket and took a swig. He offered a drink to both Yoshida and Savoi, but they both declined.
“Oh, yeah. Thomasa and I have been coming here once a week since the end of the first term,” he said.
Savoi perched herself up from the mattress, then gave the rest of the cigarette to Roudan.
“There’s another one in the box,” she said, and looked at Yoshida playfully. “It was nice kicking it with you. I hate to go, but I’ve got to get back to the lab.”
As she departed, Yoshida and Roudan sat on the stools. They lit the second cigarette and smoked it together in silence.
“Is there something on your mind, senpai?” Roudan asked.
Yoshida did not hesitate to answer.
“She’s changed, a lot. How did I miss it?”
Roudan folded his arms on the table and rested his head.
“It’s the lab. Whatever demands they’ve made from her have produced the woman you now see. She isn’t a little girl anymore,” he sighed.
Yoshida knew Roudan was right. Whatever business she had going on at the lab had major adverse effects. Although Savoi had always been feisty, her new demeanor had taken on an aggressive tone. Out of all the women he came across, none were ever so brazen enough to come on to him in the manner she did. Most of them were timid and waited for him to make the first moves. A year ago, Savoi would not have done such things. Yoshida realized Roudan had become her confidant. He couldn’t begrudge such a noble gesture, considering Roudan had also become a like-minded dark soul. The two of them were carriers of secret burdens brought on by the war, and spent time together commiserating with drugs and alcohol.
~The Waring Robins~