The humidity settles into the tent like a heavy blanket, smothering its occupants. It is hot enough to draw her out of her drunken dreams, vividly half remembered. She did not drink an extreme amount last night, given the circumstances, but enough to feel it this morning. Her cot groans in protest as she turns to her side, regretting how sweaty the action makes her. Through the veil of her bug net barrier, she can see he is still asleep in his cot, naked from the waist up and snoring softly. She smiles to herself in spite of the heat and wiggles out of her sleeping bag cocoon. Rooting through discarded civilian and military clothes as quietly as possible, she finds her toiletries bag and begins the long trek to the ablutions building. Today is Sunday, the little 6x10 patch of tent they call their own does not have to be perfectly in order yet. That is a task for Monday.
Last night...what had happened last night? Between intermittent spurts of icy water from the dingy communal shower head, the memories come flooding back. Leaving Tent City as a group, the rows of olive drab sentinels standing watch over the few earthly possessions they called their own here. Taking the down town by storm, looking for a bar or pub or hole in the wall--anything to satisfy their thirst in this foreign city. Settling for a club, reluctantly downing too expensive shots to the throbbing beat. Dancing within the safety of a group to cookie cutter techno, but never with each other. Fleeting glances and brief collisions of sweaty hands when nobody is looking. Flirtatious smiles flung back and forth across the chasm of 'Fraternization Policies'. And always the pounding beat, pounding, pounding, pounding.
And then stumbling back to the tents they call home, trying to puzzle out which of the eight identical cots is theirs. Stripping off the civilian clothes in favor of a tank top and military issued boxers. Trying to modestly undress in the dark, aware of the seven men in various states of consciousness within the tent. Crawling into the only sanctuary against mosquitoes, snuggling down into the olive drab sleeping bag, the one that matched the tent. Dozing off. Being woken by a cold hand finding hers.
The whispered affections. Stroking her hair in the silence of the tent, the only other noise the heavy breathing of six sleeping troops. Carefully climbing into the one man cot next to her. Holding her tight, steadying himself with uneven breaths, aching for something more. Desperate for the layers of clothes and cloth between them to vanish.
"I want to kiss you," whispered softly into her ear, lighting up her nerves like electricity, "but I shouldn't." A heartbeat. Two. The gentle touch of his fingers tracing her jaw line, already angled up. His lips finding hers for the first time, but not the last. The pounding of her heart through the alcoholic fog. The taste of his mouth, vaguely reminiscent of the drinks he had consumed earlier. And still the pounding, pounding, pounding.
Toweling off, she smiles at the memory, pausing her routine to brush her fingers lightly over her lips. Dresses in civilian clothes, but still bound by military principles, makes her way back to the tent she calls home. Wondering if kissing him was a mistake. Knowing it was, but not caring. Seeing him exit the tent as she approaches. Watching him blink in the bright sunlight, eyes finally settling on her. The shadow on his jaw, the moustache he's so proud of twisting as he smiles at her.
"'ey beautiful," he says, his mouth trying to acquaint itself with foreign shapes, his emphasis all wrong. Her automatic smile the beginning of an unspoken agreement between them. If they are caught, they will be punished; charged, kicked off course. But they are soldiers, danger is what they thrive on. The forbidden flavor of their relationship makes it all the more appealing, "Come to breakfast wit' me?"