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Behr/Vasari: Log Series - Six Months: The Neighbours Across The Hall

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Doctor S. Vasari & Lieutenant Junior Grade Lukas Behr
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Log Series: Six Months The Neighbours Across The Hall Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari (Note: This series takes place immediately following the Koan plot.)
Her chin was tipped down as she read the PADD in her hand to follow the internal map towards her quarters.  The residential building was sizeable and she felt a bit lost after the smaller layout of the Lexington.  The tap of her boots were muffled as she made her way down the carpeted hallway.  “Third floor, room forty-eight,” Jane muttered to herself, dark eyes scanning the room plates.  “Forty-six, forty-seven.” When she reached her door, the small duffle bag fell with a flop by her feet and her fingers danced over the glossy panel as she entered the temporary code.  She grasped the handle of her bag once more and entered her assigned quarters. Her chin turned left and right as she examined the room. It seemed fairly standard, though apparently she had doors that led to a sizeable balcony.  


There was a round silver table with four chairs by the replicator to one side - the designated dining space.  A seating area was created by a large L-shaped sectional couch and one armchair. A desk on one wall faced out towards the window-lined wall, several panels behind her allowed her to access the outpost computer systems.  Beyond the single wall, the modest bedroom sported the standard issue bed with a bathroom equipped with a sonic shower. The closet looked sizable. As she leaned against the door frame, she stared at the end of the bed and her chin turned towards the windowed wall.  “Great,” she muttered. The view was beautiful, but it meant getting a face-full of sun every morning since her quarters faced the east.


He had moved into his quarters hours prior.  One of the benefits of being an operations officer meant getting assignments without having to wait - and also knowing who his neighbors were.  His duffle bag was already unpacked and he'd confirmed that the crate with his other belongings was on the correct cargo ship, set to arrive at Tahanna'Wahnna IV in five weeks.  Lukas stood in the makeshift kitchenette with a wooden spatula, hovering over a hot plate with a pot of boiling water. The beef had already been cooked and removed. He'd poured out some of the water and set a basket above the surface of the water with vegetables and covered it to steam them.  A rice cooker popped, signaling the jasmine rice was done. A thick and spicy paste had already been created and set aside.


Jane's chin lifted ever so slightly and she took several short sniffs of the air.  “That's weird,” the Italian woman whispered to herself. “That smells like- No way.”  She threw her duffle bag onto her bed and didn't bother to pick up the satchel when it rolled over the edge.  Her strides carried out out of her assigned quarters and she sniffed the air. A deep inhalation filled her lungs with the savoury aroma of spices.  Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, oranges, cardamom. The combination had her tongue watering. Her body moved on its own accord and the medical officer soon found herself ringing the doorbell of her next door neighbour.  She was an introvert by nature, but she was more than willing to be an extrovert for anyone who could create her favourite dish.


“Come,” he called without looking up.  Within minutes of arriving in his quarters, he'd moved the furniture around to suit his style.  Instead of blocking the living space from the entryway, Lukas had turned the sectional around and pushed it against the wall.  It faced into the window and the kitchenette. The dining table was situated between the cooking space and the wall of windows and his bedroom hadn't been touched yet.  Hunger had him preparing a meal before he could get to it. The island was his cooking station, so he only had to lift his chin to see who had rang his chime.


She crossed the threshold, her mouth opening as she prepared to utter her greeting and introduction, and nearly tripped over her own feet at seeing Lukas Mikel Behr standing behind the silver pot with a wooden spatula in his hand.  “Sei il mio vicino? (You're my neighbour?)” The question tumbled easily from her tongue, nearly incredulously so. It seemed no matter where she went, he was nearby. She laughed softly at her luck. There was no need to invite herself to dinner with a stranger.  She'd simply invite herself to dinner with her good friend Lukas. Her hands slipped into her pockets and her smile was radiant as she made her way to his kitchenette. “If that's the Great Fire Beef Brisket Pot, I hope you made enough for two.”


The operations and sec/tac officer quickly reached for the piece of folded paper that rested on the counter and stuffed it into his pocket.  The beef brisket pot was a dish that they enjoyed many times in San Francisco during their time at the Academy. Unbeknownst to Jane, Lukas had gone to the owner of the restaurant and gotten the recipe from him.  This would be his first time trying it and he wasn't sure why he didn't want Jane to know that he had the recipe, but he needed to surprise her. The chef had even been so kind as to pare down the portions for two people.  “You're in luck,” he muttered with a wry grin. “I made enough to last me three meals. I think that's enough for you.” His brow raised in jest and he motioned her to sit on one of the barstools that rested on the other side of the island.


She didn't need to be told twice.  Quickly, she made her way around the kitchenette to gather a bowl, a glass, and chopsticks from the cabinet and drawer behind him.  Her place setting was set across from his on the table. “Did you just come straight here? It looks like you've already unpacked.” She made her way to the replicator.  A few commands had a pitcher of water appearing and she carried it to the table.


Lukas nodded in affirmation and lifted the pot to check on the steaming vegetables.  Confident they were done, he dumped them into the water, added the beef brisket and szechuan sauce, then covered it again.  He placed the wooden spoon on a metal rest and picked up a towel to wipe his hands. “I did. Don't have a shift for a few days, so I thought I'd settle in.”  The German glanced up, grinning toward the medical officer as she made herself at home in his quarters. “How's the medical building? You gonna enjoy working there?”


It came as no surprise that he knew she had simply gone straight to the medical facility the moment the Lexington entered orbit.  The Italian woman had transported down to the planet and had all but run towards the building.  She had spent hours combing through the storage rooms, the laboratories, the surgical ward. She had basically touched all the medical equipment and had familiarized herself with the computer system.  The trip to the morgue had been interesting. “I think so,” she answered truthfully as she slid onto one of the seats at the dining room table. “Lots to learn. I actually just got to my quarters a few minutes ago.”


“Is dessert at your place?” he quipped with a drop in his baritone and a suggestive grin.


“I thought we talked about your sweet tooth,” she chastised.  Jane was busy pouring water into their respective glasses and had completely missed the look he had given her.  “I swear you're going to end up with no teeth when you're old and grey.”


He grunted quietly and focused his attention back on the stew.  Lukas turned and reached to the rice maker, pulling the pan out to bring it to the table.  “Du hast es komplett vermisst, (You completely missed it.)” he murmured. When he neared Jane, he shook his head.  “You'll keep my teeth in my head, I'm sure.” The operations officer returned the few steps to the cooking island and turned down the hot plate, picked it up with the pot, and brought both to the table.


“Have you met our neighbours?”  Her gaze followed him as he returned with the main dish.  She didn't hesitate to serve him rice into his bowl before doing the same with her own.  She dipped the end of chopstick into the pot of stew and fished out a cube of meat, placing them in the operation officer's bowl.  She placed two more before grabbing him several cubes of potato.


Lukas opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted by the abrupt bang on his door, followed by a ring of the chime.  “Well, this might be one,” he mused as he turned and made his way to the door. “Open.” The German stood opposite the door and raised his brow when it slid aside to reveal a tall Klingon male.  He had lighter skin than most but his ridges were deep and his hair appeared greasy. The operations officer turned his head to look at Jane over his shoulder as he motioned toward their guest. “This is Kreth.  He lives across from me and is a barber on the Galleria.” He shifted his gaze back to his visitor.


“I should have known it was a human,” the Klingon growled.  “You will throw that filth out the window.” His shoulders pulled back as he made himself taller to glare down at the puny human.  “I can smell it and it is offending.”


Jane moaned softly as she dramatically melted to one side.  “Oh my gods, Lukas. This tastes just like the fire pot from Taste of Sichuan,” the medical officer praised, not even bothering to look at the Klingon who stood in the hallway.  The first bite into the soft meat had flavours bursting over her taste buds. Heat would soon follow, but the combination of aromatic spices were near perfection. The Italian lifted the bowl with one hand and used her chopsticks to lift a bitesize morsel of rice.  “You better get back here or else I'll eat it all.”


His smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth and he raised a brow toward the Klingon.  “Sorry, Teilhaber (Partner). We'll get rid of it posthaste.” Lukas nodded and prepared to step back.  Kreth emitted an odor himself that wasn't necessarily pleasant after more than a couple whiffs and he was quickly losing his appetite.  His stomach flipped when a wall of fish hit his olfactory senses and he nearly gagged. “Was zum Teufel? (What the heck?)”


“What is that delightful aroma?”  A Benzite head suddenly appeared from one side of the door before he straightened and took a step to stand next to the hulking Klingon.  The reclamation technician had clipped movements of his head and arms. “It is a delightful collection of spices.” He took a deep breath and a fine mist from the contraption attached to his chest filled his lungs with the compound to handle the nitrogen and oxygen environment.  He turned to the Klingon and offered his hand. “I am Targid.”


Her eyes widened and her hand immediately covered her mouth and nose.  The odor that hit her senses was beyond offensive. With a turn of her chin, she glanced towards the open entryway.  At the site of the Benzite, she couldn't help but gag. The woman could only push to her feet, her chair teetering as it nearly fell over when her knees pushed against the edge of the seat.  She ran towards the balcony doors and immediately took in a deep breath of the fresh air the moment the glass slid closed behind her.


As Kreth turned to the Benzite, Lukas took the opportunity to retreat and he tapped on the panel to force the door to close.  “Computer! Ventilate my quarters immediately!” His hand lifted to pull his dress shirt up and cover his nose but he only inhaled more of the foul odor.  “Das war verdammt schnell! Es ist in meine Kleider geraten! (That was quick! It got into my clothes!)” The German immediately pushed the buttons of his shirt apart and tore it from his shoulders to drop it into the recycler.  He started on the buckle to his slacks.


Her stomach pressed against the railing and she greedily filled her lungs with the scent of the forest that surrounded the residential building.  “Oh my gods! What- I've never met a Benzite that smelt that bad!” The medical officer turned around and her eyes widened at the sight of her stripping friend.  She screeched with her surprise. “Cosa fai?! Indossa i tuoi vestiti! (What are you doing?! Put on your clothes!)” Despite being a doctor and being used to the sight of naked bodies, the fact that Lukas was suddenly throwing his clothes off himself didn't compute for one reason or another.  It just didn't make sense. Her hands immediately covered her eyes.


His gaze turned first to the front door and he cursed quietly at hearing the Klingon and the Benzite arguing in the hallway.  Lukas shook his head and then glanced to the windows when he heard Jane screeching. He had just tossed his socks and boxer briefs into the recycler and realized when she covered her eyes that he was quite naked.  His hand immediately dropped to cup himself and he moved quickly toward his bedroom. “Entschuldigen Sie! Entschuldigung! Du hast es schon einmal gesehen! (I'm sorry! Sorry! You've seen it before!)” The German shook his head as he disappeared into his bedroom, though there was no relief there because the wall of windows simply continued.  He quickly dressed, muttering in his native tongue.


The medical officer remained outside, unsure if it was safe to re-enter the living space, let alone drop her eyes to see.  She had finally felt as if she'd cleansed her lungs of the offending scent. When she heard a hollow knock on the glass, Jane dared to spread her fingers and she peeked.  Lukas was dressed and she felt relief from the tingling sensation in her stomach. The man was far too much of a temptation at times, and that was certainly the case out of uniform.  She lingered outside as she stared at him, dark eyes meeting ice blue irises. Her step stuttered when she realized that the German had stripped because his clothes somehow caught the odor in the fibers.  Cautiously, she sniffed at her sleeve and was relieved to find it still sweet with the fragrance of her perfume. “Please tell me he lives way down the hall,” she muttered as she crossed the threshold and made her way back to the dining room table.


While he wasn't necessarily hungry anymore, it would certainly be a waste of good food to not eat.  He sat down and silently thanked Jane for serving him, though it was cold by now. Lukas lifted the deep spoon and poured more of the broth onto his brisket.  “That's Targid. He's a reclamation technician and he lives across from you.” The German lifted his bowl to his nose and inhaled deeply several times to become reacquainted with good smells.


Her chopsticks fell to the table and she whined softly.  “Non è divertente (That's not funny),” she muttered. The thought of having the Benzite across from her had her quickly losing her already diminished appetite.


Lukas understood that phrase because she said it often enough - and had told him what it meant when he asked - that his response was nearly automatic.  “Ich mache keine Witze, Liebling. (I'm not joking, hun.)” He set the bowl down and picked up the chopsticks to start eating.


She'd heard the statement enough in their many years of friendship to know what he meant and she sighed heavily.  “Merda,” she hissed under her breath. “I'm going to end up living on the balcony.” She shook her head. “I've met a number of Benzites.  They usually don't smell that bad.”


“Reclamation,” he muttered, his voice dipping to a grumpy baritone.  Lukas couldn't help but smile when she groaned again and whined pitifully.  Her retort regarding the Klingon that disliked his cooking was met with a quiet chortle.  They fell easily into the banter that seemed so natural for them. The interruption to their evening was quickly forgotten about.  The operations officer promised to make the shared balcony a bright and lively space that they would both be able to retreat to. It was near midnight when he walked her home by way of the shared deck.  He dared to kiss her forehead and then he wished her good night with his usual parting. “Buonanotte, civetta.”



   
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