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Behr/Vasari: Log Series - Six Months: Awkward Return

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net

by Doctor S. Vasari & Lieutenant Junior Grade Lukas Behr
[Stardate ]

Log Series: Six Months Awkward Return Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari (Note: This series takes place immediately following the Koan plot.)

He stood at the landing pad with his hands in his uniform slacks pockets.  The outpost was relatively quiet so it didn't take much to switch his shifts and pull welcome duty for the transport that carried Jane Vasari back from Bel'mara.  Lukas was more uncertain in that moment than he'd ever been in his life and it was an uncomfortable feeling. He didn't know how to deal with it. His stomach turned and his ears rang.  His throat was dry and there was a growing ache in his chest. Aquamarine hues watched the shuttle as it approached.

Four months wasn't a long time, but she felt as if she had been gone for years.  She'd grown and realized far more than she thought possible in those few months. While she'd gained valuable knowledge and was well on her way to be a confident neurological surgeon, she was less sanguine about life in general.  The realization that she'd missed the opportunity with the German didn't sit well with her. Jane lingered in the shuttle even as the door opened, frightened that her best friend wouldn't have welcomed her back to the outpost because he was with his new roommate.  Girlfriend. Fiancee. Wife. The medical officer pinched the bridge of her nose and she reminded herself to breathe. Realizing she couldn't simply remain in the shuttle - because she was practically the proverbial poster child for Shrödinger's thought experiment - she finally pushed to her feet and made her way out into the open.  Her fingers tightened around the handles of her duffle and she stopped just beyond the last step in search of a familiar face.

It was the second he saw her that he remembered that he was her friend above all else.  A warm smile tugged at his features and he couldn't help that his gaze drifted over her form before he pushed into motion.  “Hey there,” he called to Jane as he approached. Lukas lifted his hands from his pockets and reached both to take the duffle from her hand and wrap his other arm around her shoulders.

Her chin turned and there was no way to stop the smile that pulled at her lips upon seeing him.  Lukas was there - he'd come to welcome her home! Relief and excitement threatened to bubble over with her bliss, but Jane found herself shy.  Her realization during her short residency in Bel'mara had left her uncertain about how to act. It left her uncharacteristically shy around him.  They were friends, but she couldn't tell him her feelings without it sounding absolutely horrible. The German certainly deserved better than to have her suddenly blurt out that she regretted what had happened between them.  “Ciao bello,” came the soft retort. Her hands wrapped around his neck and she pressed a soft kiss on each of his cheeks to greet him. Her embrace lingered just so she could relish in the warmth that was Lukas Behr. …˜Was he always so warm?'  Realizing she'd been holding onto him far longer than normal, the Italian woman pulled away and gave him an apologetic smile.  “It's good to see you.”

His signature soft chortle rumbled in his chest and he nodded in agreement.  Lukas was sure his skin was red from where her palms rested against his neck because light tingles lingers under the surface.  He hadn't expected the show of affection, but it was quite welcomed. “You, too,” he murmured with his smile. The operations officer lifted the duffle bag a bit.  “Is this all you brought?” He decided against asking where Dr. Mayer was, though he assumed they would just do a long distance thing. “Back home?”

“Yeah,” she replied to both questions.  Her hands slid over his shoulders slowly when she realized she was lingering in his personal bubble and Jane forced herself to step back to add some much needed space between them.  “Long trip,” she murmured weakly. Her hands found their way into the pockets of her slacks and she walked alongside her German best friend. “I'll probably sleep for days.” It was odd falling into mindless small talk.  She couldn't ever remember doing so with him, even after the awkwardness she'd caused back when they had been cadets. What she really wanted to do was ask him about Therese, but that would have been rude. Also, she didn't want to know.

“You'll be lucky if you do.  I tried to have more soundproofing added to our quarters but some things couldn't be helped by that.”  He'd been waiting to see Jane to make a decision about moving back to his quarters. If there was no chance with her, he would remain on Therese's couch.  It wasn't an ideal situation, but if they couldn't even be neighbours, he simply didn't want to deal with the horrible residents that surrounded them.

“Does the floor still smell like rotting fish?”  Her tone was light, but she kept her eyes on the path.  There was a scuff on the tip of her boot. Those were the sort of things one noticed when one was pathetic enough not to be able to meet her best friend's gaze.

A low and rumbling hum of affirmation answered her.  Lukas shifted his gaze toward her constantly and he noted the little changes in her demeanor.  The woman who had come back from Bel'mara was different than the one he knew. There was some notion of telling her about living off the outpost, but it didn't seem appropriate.  …˜Es ist gefickt.  Ich habe nichts.'  The German sighed heavily to himself.

A complaint echoed in her throat, the groan low and a bit overdramatic.  “Well, I suppose it can't be helped,” she muttered softly. Jane straightened and forced a laugh.  It was convincing, even to her own ears. “Well, it is what it is, right?” Her chin turned ever so slightly as she found the courage to let her cognac brown eyes meet crystal clear aquamarine.  There was hidden meaning in her question, one she knew was unfair to ask. He wouldn't know what she meant and she cursed herself for not having enough courage.

“I suppose it is,” he mused with a forced smile.  He wasn't sure if there was more to her question because it seemed oddly out of place for her to ask for that kind of confirmation.  Still, there was no way to know and it felt wrong to ask for clarification. Lukas averted his gaze to the lake in hopes of ignoring his thoughts.  It was time to stop hoping for something more with Jane and accept being her friend. The ache he'd managed to forget came back as a sharp pang and he swallowed his grunt of disappointment.

The walk was awkward, the silence that existed between them even more so.  There were so many times she wanted to say something, anything, that would break the weird atmosphere.  She held her breath as she stepped off the turbolift. The closer she got to her quarters, the more her stomach wanted to churn.  It wasn't the foul odor that seemed to cling to the carpet and the walls nor was it the wailing song of the Vulcan opera that echoed clearly in the silence.  …˜Ho rovinato così miseramente,' she lamented and she had to swallow the sob that threatened to bubble up her throat.  She stopped in front of her quarters and motioned to her door. “Well- I guess this is me.”  Her voice was soft, nearly cracking with the emotions that threatened to drown her.

The operations officer reached up with his free hand and touched the panel, entering her code to open the door for her.  Lukas lifted the bag in offering to her and gave her a small smile. “I have to get back to my shift.”

“Thanks Lukas.”  Jane crossed the threshold but remained in the proximity sensor's range to keep the doors from closing.  She held the bag in one hand, the duffle flush against her leg. Her chin lifted and she looked up at him.  “Maybe later I-” Her mouth opened then closed. What could she say? Everything would have been so selfish, and she'd been exactly that for years.  …˜Non ho diritto.'  She forced herself to smile and the medical officer resolved to be a true friend - to be happy he found someone who could appreciate him.  He deserved that. “Yeah,” she managed to slip some brightness into her silvery voice. “Have a good day, okay? I'll see you around?”

He wanted desperately to know what she wanted to do later, but silent alarms were going off in his brain.  It wasn't right. Nothing about her return seemed right. But it was like she said - it is what it is. His smile mirrored hers and he nodded in agreement.  “Yeah,” he muttered. “Get some rest.” The dip of his baritone was heavy with his emotion, though he couldn't pinpoint which one he felt the most. As he turned and walked down the hallway, he stopped himself from detouring into his quarters to pick up things that he'd left behind.  Lukas had always intended to come back, but in that moment, he wasn't sure what he would be coming back to - other than difficult neighbours.

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