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Behr/Vasari: Log Series - Six Months: The Neighbours Above and Below

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Doctor S. Vasari & Lieutenant Junior Grade Lukas Behr
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Log Series: Six Months The Neighbours Above And Below Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari (Note: This series takes place immediately following the Koan plot.)

Jane loved replicators, but she couldn't deny loving Lukas' cooking more than the materialized versions of her favourite dishes - a simple pasta dish with freshly made pesto with green beans and potatoes.  Pasta alla ligure was simple but complex at the same time, and the German was oddly adept at recreating some of her homeland's most traditional dishes. Paired with a crisp white wine, she was mentally transported to the beautiful vineyards beyond her family's property in the Arezzo Province.  Dinner was accompanied with playful banter and easy conversation about their day, which had been uneventful but good.


It hadn't taken much for Lukas to convince her to stay after dinner and the medical officer agreed that working on their respective reports could be done together.  It had been their first day back to active duty. Her quarters were personalized despite the extra hours she logged in the medical building, and she wanted to dive into studying the biological data of various species.  She retreated to her quarters - via the balcony to avoid the talkative hygienist who shared her other wall - to change and gather her PADD. When she returned, the Italian woman had changed into flowy cream pajama bottoms and a lace dark blue cami top, which was kept modest by a light cream sweater.  She settled on the corner of the sectional with a blanket before immersing herself in the biological data of the Trill.


Even with Jane staying after dinner, the German had opted to change into more comfortable attire.  Loose beige linen shorts and a tight fitting cream t-shirt kept him modest. The shirt would be discarded while he slept.  He settled onto the longer portion of the couch and laid on his back, propped against the arm and his knees bent so he didn't kick the medical officer.  A Karl Stamitz violin concerto played in the background to calm them from their respective days. The classical music was one of several personal choices that they shared.


It was easy to lose track of time.  In the three months when she had thought they were simply friends with some wonderfully added benefits, studying side by side while listening to classical music was common practice.  It didn't even phase her. There was an odd beat that suddenly broke the calm of the violin that softly played over the speakers. It only heavy, discordant, and nearly chaotic. It pulled Jane from the calm comforts of her studies and her eyes lifted to the ceiling.  Her brows furrowed. “You have to be kidding me,” she muttered as her PADD fell to her lap. “Who lives above you?”


The PADD fell to his stomach as his fingers relaxed and his chin lifted to the ceiling.  Lukas could swear he saw the metal tiles vibrating. He opened his mouth and an exasperated sigh quickly escaped him.  The operations officer picked up the tablet and moved it from his stomach to the coffee table. “A Risian couple, Brisea and Zavis.”  His body turned and he placed his feet on the short pile carpet. “Since they're married- or whatever- they have larger quarters, so it spans both our quarters combined.”


“Did we fall into some weird temporal vortex and not realize it?” she grumped as she tossed her PADD towards the coffee table.  “Because suddenly, I feel like I'm back in the Academy.” The notion that Risians lived above them both did nothing to lessen her frustration.  From her perspective, they had both drawn the proverbial short straw. The neighbours across from their respective quarters carried foul musks, the individuals to their sides apparently had problems with their hearing, and apparently those above aimed to please.  The neighbour below her, she discovered, was an Orion who rather liked having male guests over and was beyond verbal. With a sigh, the medical officer let her feet slide from the plush couch cushion to lightly press into the fibers of the soft carpet. She pushed to stand and carried her empty wine glass towards the replicator.


His steps carried him to the door and he nearly jumped when he felt vibration under his feet.  “What the-” He stopped and glanced down, shuffling in place when he could have sworn he felt it again.  The thumping was accompanied by three loud bangs. Lukas froze in an attempt to watch and listen for it to happen again.  His hands were held as if he were balancing on thin ice.


The Italian woman's eyes dipped towards the floor.  “Are you serious? Did that just happen?” She took a step towards the replicator and a set of three bangs vibrated under her bare feet had her stopping instantly.  Jane hadn't even really lifted her heels, practically shuffling on the short pile. “Federation construction on starships have better soundproofing. Who are your downstairs neighbours?”


The German officer stamped his feet to test their theory and he was rewarded with three loud thumps.  “But we haven't been stomping around.” Another heavy sigh fell from his lips as he shook his head. “Our downstairs neighbours are both Human.  Brother and sister running a general goods store requested to live together.” Lukas furrowed his brows and shook his head. “They even got advanced soundproofing because of some syndrome or something.  Shalaft?”


“Advanced-  Shalaft's Syndrome?”  When the operations officer nodded, she groaned.  “That's a rare illness. Causes hypersensitivity to sound-  A damn whisper would sound like someone's screaming in their ears.”  Jane sighed. “It's not their fault. Our footsteps probably sound like elephants traipsing through the damn desert.”


He raised his hands to pull his fingers through his hair.  “This is ridiculous. We'll never get any peace.” The operations officer glanced around as he considered what to do.  His original plan had been to go upstairs and ask the Risians to keep it down, but he wasn't even sure that would help anymore.  “They're below me, so let's go to your quarters.” Lukas pushed into motion, making his way to the coffee table to collect his PADD and glass of wine.


“We can't-  I have an Orion living below me.”  Jane had found out the hard way before she had retreated to Lukas' for dinner that night.  The sounds of pleasure echoed through the ventilation system in her quarters. “New construction.  I imagine they're still working on the soundproofing. You should probably take it up with the commander.”  The medical officer couldn't help herself. “That should be easy right? How's that working out for you? I hear you got asked out on a second date?  Third one's when you get lucky right?”


Instead of picking up his wine and tablet, Lukas fell back to the couch and groaned deeply.  “I don't know, how many was it with you?” His embarrassment was easily replaced with mischievousness and he winked toward the Italian.  A soft chortle rumbled in his chest as he winked at her.


“None!” she reached for him and placed her hand on his head and gave him a rough shove into the back cushion.  It was the only point of contention between them, though for reasons he didn't know - well, maybe he did since Lukas was far smarter than he wanted to admit.  Jane had argued they were simply blowing off steam, that their personalities matched well enough that they could enjoy one another without the complications of emotion.  The German, however, saw more and thought they were romantically involved. It was what pushed them part. The moment he uttered the word dating, the medical officer had ended it right then and there.  They didn't see each other until the second year, when they were forced into an engineering course together. Then again in their third year, during their alien chemistry course, and then in their fourth year when they were forced into leadership training.  It was how they had kept in touch. It was never ceased to amaze her how they had gotten over that awkwardness. Though, in her mind, it only exemplified why they were best friends.


His laughter was silent, though the lines creased at the corners of his eyes and his mouth.  The way they could banter with each other and not actually get mad seemed to solidify his idea that they were perfectly suited for one another.  Despite breaking up in their first year and only sharing classes and seeing each other randomly at parties through the Academy, they were the closest of friends.  He would continue to play that there was something going on between him and the commander, but in reality, his heart still belonged to Jane Vasari. Lukas couldn't explain why the Italian woman had such a vice grip on his soul, but as much as he tried to date other women, they simply could not compare.  “Oh really?” he challenged with a short chortle.


Jane had had every intention to deposit her empty wine glass into the replicator to clean up after herself, but after the sudden influx of stimuli to her senses, the Italian woman simply placed her empty wine glass on the table and grabbed the bottle of sweet white by the neck.  She hastily made her way towards the balcony, doing so on her tiptoes. The cold air created goosebumps against her skin. She leaned over the railing and tipped the mouth of the bottle over her lips. The hearty sip snaked down her throat and she relished in the sweetness that washed over her tongue.  “What are the odds that my quarters are surrounded by crazy people?” she mused to herself. “Apparently, insane. I don't even know- This shouldn't be happening in this day and age.”


Lukas picked up his PADD and hers, bringing them both with him as he joined her on the balcony.  While the closed doors did little to alleviate the heavy thumping beat of the music from the party above them, it was still cool and quiet enough that they might be able to pretend they were surrounded by peace and tranquility.  He offered her the tablet that she had been reading and reached to take the bottle of wine from her. “I'm our neighbour. Are you calling me crazy?” His challenge was made lightheartedly and without expectation of a response. The German drank straight from the bottle.


“You need a hammock out here,” she suggested flatly.  While she took the tablet and held onto it with the pads of her fingers, there was no interest in reading the data that had been downloaded.  His question was ignored. “Could pull out a couple of potted plants too.” She sought to create a paradise of some sort, even if it was only verbally.  The discordant thumping of the music above them only highlighted her general distaste for loud and obnoxious music. She preferred classical, with its sweeping passion.


“Done,” he murmured with a nod.  Mental notations were made so that he could transform their shared space into something that they could both use to escape.  A complaint would be lodged in the morning regarding the Risians and their ridiculously loud party. He could only hope that was the actual cause of their- his downstairs neighbors actual protest was with the couple two floors above them.


“BÃ*rchen,” the beloved German nickname was softened by her Italian accent, the harsher sounds romanticised by the curl of her tongue.  It was what she used whenever she was at ease. It had been the first word she'd learnt in his language and there was no way to hide the affection in her voice.


His arm draped over her lower back as he joined her at the railing.  There was comfort in hearing the term of endearment from her lips and it took him back to the short time that they spent together intimately.  Lukas could tell in that moment that there was more to her feelings for him than best friends, though there was also a whisper of doubt considering the amount of wine she'd consumed.  Still, it felt good to imagine that things were perfect between them, as if there had been no split, but they were still exploring each other as those destined to be often did. “Civetta,” he murmured in response, the nickname given in response to her teasing.


Her head tilted towards his shoulder and her eyes drifted towards the stars.  It was certainly the best thing about the outpost on the far reaches of the Alpha quadrant.  Twinkling lights of the universe were unhindered by a booming population.  They didn't streak past a porthole of a starship. They glimmered in place, giving the illusion of living in a world that didn't know about space travel or sentient beings of other planets.  There was simplicity in an otherwise complicated universe. Whatever she wanted to say was forgotten and she settled on the simple truth. “I'm glad you're my neighbour,” she murmured. “I'd go absolutely nuts without you.”


The music from the party was forgotten, the shrill opera from next door tuned out, the thumping from beneath him ignored.  In that moment, a serene calm overwhelmed him and all he could do was offer an appreciative hum in agreement to her statement.  He actually hadn't done any manipulating of the assignments to be placed as Jane's neighbour and their time together was proving to be glorious.  It almost didn't matter that she couldn't see how much they simply fit. Their conversation and banter was natural, there were no real arguments. They shared enough in common to blend but enough apart to be unique individuals.  It was a match made in heaven. …˜I just need her to see.'  Lukas dipped his chin, tearing his gaze from the stars to stare at the Italian beauty beside him.



   
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