“Jodie, come on,” you say. “I’m going to get in trouble if you don’t do as you’re told. So go grab a shower, okay?”
“Okay,” Jodie says. “Just for you, Cadet.”
You show her to the showers and grab her some spare clothes to change into. Then you leave her to get cleaned up and return to the main cabin where Terra is working on her tablets again.
“Is she in the shower?” Terra asks, looking up from her work.
“Yes, see. You don’t need to yell at people and hit them,” you say. “Instructor Gray is going to eat her words tomorrow.”
“Is she,” Terra says with a smile.
“Mhm. Jodie just needs someone to be nice to her, and it’s not even that hard to do…”
“Your little project just climbed out the window,” Terra says. “You might want to go and get her.”
“What?” You turn around and see what Terra saw, Jodie’s form heading into the trees, away from the cabin. You tear out of the cabin after her, overhaul her easily and grab her by the shoulder to stop her.
“Jodie! What are you doing!?”
She looks at you blankly. “I was just going to go to the barracks and grab my favorite soap.”
You get the feeling you’re being lied to.
“Jodie, I put my ass on the line for you,” you say. “I need you to work with me here.”
“Okay,” she says. “I’m sorry. I’ll just get my soap.”
“No,” you say. “Go back to the cabin and get in the shower.”
“Shheeesh, Cadet, calm down,” she says, rolling her eyes. “You don’t need to boss me around.”
“I’m just trying to keep us both out of trouble.”
“Well…” Jodie shrugs. “I mean… I can’t get in trouble for the next day or so. Only you will. So you’re really just trying to keep yourself out of trouble. That’s kind of selfish, Cadet.”
You narrow your eyes at her. She’s not taking this seriously at all. You’ve put yourself on the line for her, and far from being grateful for it, she’s using you. You never asked for this. You never wanted this either.
“Fine,” you say. “Go and do whatever you want.”
You turn around and go back to the cabin, thoroughly annoyed.
“Where’s Jodie?” Terra asks the moment you walk in the door.
“I don’t care.”
Terra’s brows rise. “Cadet, she’s your responsibility.”
“Why? Because Gray says so?”
“That’s exactly why,” Terra replies.
“Can’t you just tell Gray I can’t do this? We’re on a mission here. I can’t be saddled with brats.”
“You’re not going anywhere before tomorrow,” Terra says, returning her gaze to her work. “Stepping up and taking responsibility is important.”
You groan inwardly. This is not fair. You really didn’t think Terra would take Gray’s side.
“She doesn’t listen to me.”
Terra looks up from her tablet. “Make her.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“You’ve got the authority to discipline her,” Terra says. “Use it, if necessary.”
“What, like, spank her or something?”
“If you need to,” Terra says. “First, I’d say you better go find her and bring her back.”
You reluctantly and very begrudgingly go out again. You want a nice hot shower yourself. You want to eat something. You do not want to chase around after some little brat.
“JODIE!” You call her name. You know she wasn’t going back to her barracks for soap. She was probably up to something in the woods in between the cabin and the barracks.
You catch a whiff of something in the evening air. It’s sort of like one of Grisham’s smokes, but with a different smell. Following your nose, you come across Jodie, sitting at the bottom of a tree. She’s smoking. And not the kind of electronic cylinders Grisham uses. She’s burning actual plant material and inhaling it. You can’t believe your eyes.
“What are you doing!?”
“Relaxing,” she says. “This stuff is amazing, and the woods here are full of it.”
“Full of what, exactly?”
“Weed,” she says, exhaling sweet smoke. She holds the joint out toward you. “Have some. You need it.”