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Behr/Vasari: Log Series - Six Months: Practice in the Morgue

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by Doctor S. Vasari & Lieutenant Junior Grade Lukas Behr
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Log Series: Six Months Practice in the Morgue Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari (Note: This series takes place immediately following the Koan plot.)

It was a rare day that he did not have duty while Jane worked a shift in Medical.  Lukas had managed to get her up for a run, he made her breakfast, and then they parted ways to shower and prepare fully for the day.  The German had stopped by the operations building and found no exciting security work to pick up for the day, so he returned to his quarters and sat in silence.  Well, not silence. Classical music played constantly in his personal space, though it was so soft that sometimes he couldn't hear it. A request to improve the soundproofing between him and his neighbours below had been completed but he didn't want to chance it.  Several hours passed and boredom hit him hard.


An idea lit his creative juices and the operations officer sprang into action.  He prepared two sandwiches, each one tailored to personal taste, steamed vegetables, and chocolate dipped strawberries.  They were wrapped and placed in a metal pail, then covered with a thick cloth. Lukas placed two bottles of water in the bucket and made his way out of the residential building.  Inquiries to the registration desk had him descending a flight of stairs and hesitating before the double doors with …˜Morgue' in bold print on the placard next to them. He left the pail outside the entry and pushed into the space, wincing as he looking over the space.  “Jane?”


The morgue was the quietest space within the medical building.  Situated in the very bottom floor, no one really cared to enter.  Bodies were preserved in low-level stasis pods and tucked away in compartments along the walls until they could be transported by a passing freighter or starship to return them to families and friends.  For unclaimed bodies, they simply remained in the room until their burial rites could be observed. Those who didn't wish to be cast into space or buried under the earth donated their lifeless shells to science.  There weren't many in the morgue - the pods tended to be empty than not. There were only two, one scheduled to be transported to Andoria and the other meant to be used for scientific study.


Music easily filled the small sterile space.  The aria of La Traviata was near deafening, Maria Callas' voice was strong as it filled the speakers of the morgue as she dove into the role of Violetta.  Francesco Albanese' rendition of Alfredo was smooth, his baritone soft yet equally as powerful within the duet.


“Amore, amor è palpito-  (Love is the very breath-)”


“Oh!”


“-dell'universo intero-  (-of the universe itself-)”


“Oh, amore”


“Misterioso, misterioso, altero, croce, croce e delizia, croce e delizia, delizia al cor.  (Mysterious and noble, both cross and ecstasy of the heart.)”


Her head swayed gently to the music that filled her ears, her heart steady with the crescendo of voices.  She was clothed in a surgical garb, fitted yet loose over the uniform hidden under the dark red fabric. The chest of the male Bolian on the table was cracked open and her gloved hands were sifting through the organs in search of his heart.  A smile pulled her plump lips up by the corners and she was at peace as her covered fingers smoothed over the heart that she held in her hand.


“Follie!  Follie! Ah sì!  Gioir, gioir! Sempre libera degg'io folleggiare di gioia in gioia, vo' che scorra il viver mio pei sentieri del piacer.  Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia, sempre lieta ne' ritrovi, a diletti sempre nuovi, dee volare il mio pensier. (Folly! Folly!  Ah yes! From joy to joy! Always free from drifting with in joy, I want your life to flow through the paths of pleasure. Be born the day or the day you die, always glad or find yourself, to always new delights, to fly in my thoughts.)”


He knew the opera well and their shared enjoyment of the classical art was one of many things that solidified his belief that he and Jane could be more than friends.  Seeing her elbow deep in the chest cavity of a Bolian, however, made his stomach turn a little. It wasn't the fact that there was a dead body on the table, or the sight of blood.  Lukas was unsettled by the glee on Jane's features. He could only hope it was because of the music that blared over the speakers, and not that she honestly enjoyed carving up dead people.  The German cleared his throat and stepped further into the cool space. “Computer, lower music by fifty percent.” He waited a beat for the medical officer to realize he was there and then grinned in her direction.  “Hey there.”


With the interruption to her music, Jane's chin lifted and her attention was pulled from her examination of the body in front of her.  Her eyes widened slightly with her surprise. “Hey you,” she greeted with ease before her eyes dipped back to the open chest in front of her.  “What are you doing here?” Wet sounds were far easier to hear with the opera's volume turned low. When she couldn't reach deeper into the chest, the medical officer carefully placed the heart back in its proper place and gripped at a rib on either side.  She grunted, her nose wrinkling as she pulled the bones apart with a quick jerk.


A wince accompanied the lift of his hand to his chest and he rubbed his sternum with sympathy pain.  Lukas turned slightly and wondered if he would even be interested in the sandwiches he'd prepared anymore.  “Uh, I brought lunch.” His gaze returned to the Italian and he grunted softly at seeing her still rooting around the cavity for internal organs.  Calloused fingers massaged his chest as discomfort moved through him.


With far more room to work, the woman once again dipped her hands into the body and she pulled the muscle out into the open.  The heart was lifted to eye level and Jane studied the exterior with interest. “You did? You didn't have to do that. I could have just gone to the replicator.  But, thank you.” Her chin tipped up briefly so she could meet his gaze. “What did you make?”


“Eggplant, roasted bell peppers, and sundried tomatoes for you.”  The operations officer figured that would be enough to lure her away from the body and out of the morgue for a quiet lunch.  There was some small part of him that was just looking for an excuse to be away from his quarters. In the week since they'd met all their neighbours, the tension between everyone had only increased.


“Piadina!” she exclaimed happily.  It was a favourite sandwich that reminded her of home.  “That sounds perfect.” Her hands lowered slightly and she pouted.  “Actually- I can't put this down. I have to dissect it. Do you mind feeding me?”  The Italian woman pleaded with him with her eyes, cognac brown glinting with hope.


He took a step toward her, then froze, his body swaying with the motion.  “I- what?” Confusion furrowed his brows as he glanced down at the Bolian then back up to Jane.  His head shook in the slightest of ways. There was no desire whatsoever to eat with a cadaver as the table.


“I have to practice,” she explained as she turned to carefully place the muscle on the tray.  “I don't have much time, and so I've got to use every minute.” She lifted the laser scalpel and didn't activate device, instead pantomiming the incision she intended to make.  


Lukas stared at her for several moments as he considered her request.  He wondered just how far he would go for this woman. …˜I suppose I could do it for her.  But that means I'm not eating.'  The German groaned quietly and rolled his eyes to the ceiling.  “Yeah, okay,” he sighed as he turned and made his way to the door.  He pushed it open and retrieved the metal bucket that was covered with a cloth.


“You're the best,” she praised with a gleeful laugh.  “Seriously. Thank you.” Her eyes remained on the bloody heart.  Jane took a breath and carefully turned on the laser scalpel to begin her dissection.


“What're you practicing for?”  He was unsure about where to set the pail because he figured the suite was sterile - until it dawned on him that a dead Bolian probably couldn't care less if there were germs.  The operations officer set the pail on a nearby table and moved the cloth aside to pick out the sandwich he'd wrapped for her. He pulled the wax paper away and walked toward Jane.  A hand rested on her shoulder to let her know he was there, then he presented her with the sandwich.


When he offered the sandwich, the medical officer simply leaned to one side and turned her chin to take a hearty bite.  There was a slight pause to her work as she let her eyes roll to the ceiling. The flavours were simply divine and she was transported home.  She didn't answer for quite some time as she chewed, her head bobbing in time to each press of her teeth through the layers. When she finally swallowed, she turned her chin towards the heart.  “A short residency at the hospital on Bel'mara.” Carefully, she reached two fingers into the muscle and let her fingertips trace along the delicate muscle. “There's a hole in here somewhere,” she muttered under her breath.  Her fingers continued to search as she turned her chin and took another bite of the beloved vegetarian dish. Her eyes returned to her work as she chewed.


He blinked, keeping his eyes on either her face or the sandwich to keep from seeing the heart she worked on.  Lukas still hoped to eat his lunch later. “Yeah, they're called valves.” He offered the pressed bread and pulled it back after she'd taken her bite.  “Bel'mara is a couple weeks travel away. How long is the residency?” The more he thought on it, the more panic started to rise. Jane was going to leave him with their hellish neighbours and no one to escape them with.


“Four months,” came the easy reply as soon as she swallowed.  “And yeah, valves, but there's actually a hole in his heart that needed to be repaired.  Initial scans showed he was perfectly fine, but then he just died. I think there's a puncture somewhere.”  She couldn't help but grin as she turned her chin and took another hearty bite of the sandwich before returning to her search.  She chewed quickly. “I've been trying to get into this program for awhile- Ever since I realized I wanted to be a surgeon. Residences are usually year long, but I convinced them I could do some of it here.  I just have to go back every year for a few months. I do need to pick a specialty though- Cardiac or neuro.”


“Vier Monate,” he whispered to himself as he pulled the piadina back from her bite.  Lukas adjusted the sandwich in the paper, noting that she had about six bites left. “Wow,” he murmured.  He knew he should be happy for her - Jane's dream was to become a surgeon and this was just another step in that process.  Selfishly, he couldn't imagine that much time away from the woman after being assigned to the outpost with her. It was just assumed that they would be the best of friends while he hoped for more and she giggled impishly to hide her true feelings.  The German pushed a smile to his features. He could be glad for her while she was still around and then sulk in private. “That's amazing, Jane. Glückwünsche. (Congratulations.)” He offered her another bite.


She nodded as she chewed after taking another huge morsel of the vegetarian sandwich.  Her head bobbed with each bite. Her finger continued to search through the chambers of the heart.  When she felt an odd gap, Jane's eyes opened. “Mmound eed!” the woman excitedly exclaimed as her feet did a little dance.  With her other gloved hand, she waved furiously at the muscle on the tray. It took a bit of effort to swallow the bite that remained on her tongue and it was significantly bigger than deemed polite.  Droplets of blood dripped from the waving hand. “I deed eed! I deed eed!” She tried to swallow and struggled to finally get it down her throat. “I found it!”


A quiet chortle rumbled in his chest and he nodded in agreement.  “You did. Looks like cardiac surgery is the way to go, hmm?” Lukas tried to ignore the splattering of blood from her hands and he had to force himself to stay put instead of taking the step back he wanted to.  …˜I swear to all that is sacred, if one drop of blood gets on me,' he grumbled to himself.  It took effort to keep the smile on his face.  The German supposed it was worth seeing Jane in her happy place.


“I don't know.  I haven't cut into his brain yet.”  She continued to do a little jig, her hips swaying slightly.  With a breath, she calmed herself. Barely. “I wish you could come.  I hear Bal'mara is beautiful. I'll write though. Send photographs.” Her hand slipped from the bloody heart and she carefully pinched at the glove to remove it before using the edge to remove the second.


Lukas was surprised to hear her say that she would write.  Throughout their time in the Academy, he had always been the one to reach out for her.  It was odd to fathom that she would be making the effort. He stepped back to give her room to remove gear and clean off in case that's what she was preparing to do.  The small portion that remained of her sandwich was wrapped and he kept hold of it. “Yeah, I don't think I can pull that kind of leave yet.” He held his tongue about sending her updates on their terrible neighbours.  …˜It's going to be hellacious without her.'


“Yeah.  That's a bummer.”  The medical officer sighed softly.  She turned and grabbed a pair of new gloves.  There was a snap to the cover as they molded around her fingers and wrists.  “You should eat. Studying the brain will take a while.” She moved back to the body.


“Uh, well.”  He tried to think of something to excuse himself from having his sandwich.  The steamed vegetables and chocolate covered strawberries were long forgotten.  Lukas simply couldn't fathom eating in the presence of a corpse. He shook his head.  


“Oh come on.  It's not like he's gonna eat.”  She motioned to the carved cadaver on the table in front of her.  She giggled softly. “Unless he's got an appetite for brains. Ooooo-  Scary!” The medical officer chuckled. Normally, she was a serious individual, but the news of her acceptance had her giddy with joy.


The operations officer chortled, the sound silent in his chest.  “I think I'm safe. I haven't got any brains.” His self-deprecating joke was lightly made and certainly didn't reflect how he actually felt about himself.  Lukas knew that he was smart though there were times he wished for a different type of intelligence so he could have been an engineer. He leaned against the table and folded his arms over his chest as they continued to banter back and forth.  It was easier than he thought to put on a smile for her, though he had an idea that he knew why.



   
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