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Behr & Vasari: Log Series - Homestead: The Island

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by Doctor S. Vasari & Lieutenant Junior Grade Lukas Behr
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Log Series: Homestead THE ISLAND Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari (Note: This series takes place immediately following the Inquisition of Masterson plot.)

They visited the first ridgeline of the mountain.  It was a beautiful property, fertile soil and flat land made for a promising future.  The altitude meant no worries about buzzing insects that had a taste for blood, but it was far too cold for Jane's liking.  The German who accompanied her had made the excellent point that it would only be worse in the winter months, and that would mean the commute via shuttle would also be dangerous.  It was a disappointing truth, but the surgeon had to relent. They returned to the shuttle and Lukas guided the craft to their second destination. The banter within the shuttle was easy, as if the strangeness between them had simply vanished.  The Italian woman had no qualms about teasing him for sleeping on her couch when his bed was a few meters away, though she conveniently forgot about that very fact the same evening when she had offered to replicate his clothes and give him her bed.  She silently hoped he'd forget that fact, but there was no such luck. He teased her just as much.


He touched the shuttle down in a clearing on the island situated within Lake Talara, which was named after a water spirit of the Trill people because the scientist who first found it was from that planet and he swore that the lake sang.  In truth, the wind from the nearby mountain range whistled over the water, creating an eerie but beautiful song with the faintest of breezes. The tract of land was near the northern end of the lake but well away from the shore on any side.  Lukas was excited to see the island, but he was a good operations officer and powered down the shuttle before leaving it.


Jane stepped onto the island and quickly glanced around.  It was rather sizeable, with a narrow shoreline of smooth pebbles.  Tall trees provided some shade, but there was enough of a clearing that she could build a house without issues from the hidden roots.  Larger boulders were set to one side and the soft waves crashed lightly to smooth the surface. It was longer than it was wide. She gasped.  Already, she could imagine the west facing window so she could watch the sunset over the mountain range in the distance. A landing dock could be placed on the smaller island that was only a few meters away from the larger piece of land.  A quaint arched bridge would allow her to cross without trouble. “It's perfect,” she whispered under her breath. The smile on her lips couldn't be contained. It was radiant, plump painted red lips pulling up completely and her eyes sparkling under the sun.  


The German stepped out of the shuttle and glanced around, his eyes wide as he slowly surveyed the island.  Trees surrounded them on three sides and there were several spots that appeared level enough to build on. Yet, all he could think of was using the lumber they had to clear to build a boat.  It'd be a dream come true. “Oh, I got dibs,” he rumbled, his raspy baritone deep with his conviction.


“I found my home-  Wait, what?” The surgeon turned and looked back at the operations officer, her brows furrowing.  “No. You can't call dibs!”


He lifted his hands onto his hips and tore his gaze from the stunning view to settle on the Italian woman.  “Uh, yeah, I can. All you said was it's perfect and I'm saying it's mine.” There was no malice in his voice, just simple truth.


“Uh, no.  You can't.  You were supposed to help me find a place to live, not steal it from me!”  Her eyes narrowed and she pulled the zipper of her uniform jacket. Glancing around, she grabbed the first stick she found and stuck it into the sleeve then plunged the other end into the earth.  She pointed it to makeshift flag. “Mine. I put a flag on it. It's mine. No flag, no island.”


His chin tilted as he watched, at first perplexed and then mildly irritated at the childishness of her actions.  Then again, it seemed perfectly like Jane to do such a thing. Lukas frowned and his lips pulled into a thin line as he stalked toward her.  There were no words as he reached down to her stick, pulled it from the earth, and snapped it in half. “No flag, no island.” The German offered her the jacket back.


Her mouth dropped as she stared at him incredulously.  “You are such an ass, Luke!” The use of the wrong name was done purposefully.  Jane whipped the jacket in his direction to smack him on the arm. “I saw it yesterday!  This island is mine!”


He flinched back slightly at the snap to his arm.  The incorrect name didn't irritate him in the slightest.  It just wasn't his name and he knew that Jane used it to try and goad him.  Except, he would always be able to one up her in that type of fight. No one knew that Jane was actually her middle name.  And he knew her first name. And he also knew the nickname given to her by her family that she absolutely despised. A smirk curled his mouth as he prepared to goad her.  “You didn't claim it yesterday- Fi-!”


Oh.  It was on and the Italian woman's carefully guarded passions surged into existence.  The surgeon lept into the air, her hands tangling into his hair in a rough tug. There were only a few times she was ever physical.  Normally it was done in play - wrestling with friends and what not, but that hadn't happened since she was a child. She yanked him down to the earth and her flailing hands smacked him hard on the chest as she straddled his hips.  There was no real attempt to harm him or scratch at his face. She kept her strikes contained to his torso. “Non chiamarmi così! (Don't call me that!)” she hissed. The tirade flowed freely from her lips, her accent thicker than normal as she was consumed by her irritation.  The thought of having to live in the residence building, surrounded by their crappy neighbours, sent her over the edge. “Sei un tale idiota! Questa è la mia isola! Casa mia! Non puoi rubartelo via! Non vivrò più in quel buco infernale! Puoi trattare con le persone pazze! Questo è il tuo lavoro!  (You are such a jerk! This is my island! My home! You can't steal this away from me! I'm not going to live in that hell hole ever again! You can deal with the crazy people! That's your job!)”


It was easy enough to protect himself after being thrown to the ground.  There was a small part of him that delighted in the rough play because it was just like when they had dated so long ago.  Grunts and soft gasps filled the air around them as he tried to grab her arms to stop her from beating his chest. After several minutes, he lifted his hips and rolled to the side, trying to use his body weight to calm her down.  Lukas finally managed to grip her wrists and he panted heavily with the reprieve from her strikes. The flow of Italian always got his blood flowing, no matter what she was saying. “I'll fight you for it,” he rasped in a deep voice.  “Oh, look.” He paused to smirk down at her. “I win.”


She huffed heavily, her chest heaving with the force of her breaths.  Her hair fanned out on the tall grass. She kicked and wiggled and writhed in an attempt to escape.  Jane narrowed her eyes at him. Her head lifted from the ground suddenly and she sent her forehead flying into his nose.  When he howled in pain and recoiled back, the surgeon rolled to one side to escape him. The ringing in her head was ignored as she scrambled to her feet and ran towards the shuttle.  Her hand slammed into the panel to close and lock the door and she sprinted to the controls. She skipped the preflight checklist and forced the small vessel to lift into the air at her command before he could get his bearings.  It hovered well beyond his range and she sank back into her chair to breathe.


He laid on his back with his hands over his nose and mouth.  When he heard the whine of the shuttle, his eyes blinked open and he stared up at the vessel above him.  “Was zur Hölle machst du? (What are you doing?)” he asked, though there was no way for her to hear him. Lukas grimaced with the pain in his nasal cavity and lifted one hand to inspect his fingers, finding them red with blood.  He pushed to sit up and continued to watch for any indication of what Jane was going to do. “Du wirst mich hier wirklich nicht verlassen- (You're not really going to leave me here-)”


Standing, she made her way to the shuttle door and forced it open despite the computer's warning.  Her hands rested on her forehead as she smugly smirked down at him. “Say the island is mine!” she all but screeched over the soft hum of the vessel.  


The operations officer continued to nurse his nose, pulling his hand away to see if there was still fresh blood on his fingers.  He was floored at the amount of passion that she had exhibited about the island - or about being called by her childhood nickname.  His brow quirked as he considered the thought and he shook his head to deny her. “I called dibs!” he shouted over the whine of the shuttle.  The German considered an ultimatum. He would live on the island or live on Therese's couch. The Norwegian had a new boyfriend, so it would be awkward, but there was no going back to the residence building.  It was simply unlivable.


The fact that he refused to admit defeat irked her more than she cared to admit.  Her foot stomped heavily in place. The thought of having to return to her quarters to deal with their neighbours made her angry and filled her with dread.  It was getting to the point that she was running out of her favourite perfume. “Sei un tale asino! (You are such an ass!)” she screamed at him, practically turning red in the face.  “Dovevi aiutarmi a trovare una casa! Non rubarlo! (You were supposed to help me find a home! Not steal it!)” With a growl, she stormed back into the shuttle, slamming her hand into the panel to shut the door.


He fell back to the ground and grunted as his arms flopped to his sides.  The throbbing in his head would not relent but at least his nose wasn't bleeding anymore.  He didn't understand much of what she said, but certainly the part about being an ass. Her words were like needles into his heart and he groaned quietly at the dilemma they'd found themselves in.  Jane was probably right in whatever she'd said. Lukas lifted his hand and tapped on the badge that remained on his chest to contact the shuttle. When she didn't answer, he pushed to sit up and groaned when he felt fresh blood dribbling from his nose.  He tapped again before lifting a hand to contain the bleeding.


Every fiber in her being wanted to pilot the small vessel back to the outpost.  He could rot on the stupid island for all she cared. But, she did care. Jane cared far too much.  She already felt bad for physically attacking the man, and honestly, she had no idea what came over her.  Perhaps it had been the months apart or the culmination of months of dread that he'd found himself a girlfriend when she had finally come to terms with her own feelings.  She told herself it had everything to do with their horrible neighbours. The chirp of the communication attempt was ignored. The surgeon didn't want to speak to him. The shuttle lowered back to the island at her command.  She saw blood dripping from his nose and there was guilt there for having injured her best friend. Worse, she realized that if he didn't get the property, Lukas would undoubtedly remain with Therese. Then, he'd definitely fall in love with the Norwegian who saved his life.  Like the damn mermaid story. The sour expression on her face remained as she grabbed the medical kit from its compartment. The door opened and she tossed the kit towards him as she walked to the far end of the island to sulk, not bothering to meet his eye. “You can have your stupid freaking island,” she screamed at him.  She felt like crying. It was back to square one.


The operations officer instinctually flinched away from the flying object, then straightened when he saw it was just the medkit.  His gaze lifted up toward Jane and he shook his head. “Nein. Bei allem was heilig ist, hÃ*tte ich nicht gedacht, dass Sie sich darüber aufregen würden.  Entschuldigen Sie. Du kannst die verdammte Insel haben. (No. By all that is sacred, I didn't think you would get so upset. I'm sorry. You can have the island.)”  Lukas reached forward and picked up the medkit, pulling it closer to him so that he could attempt to fix his nose. It'd been a long time since he'd gotten into an altercation like that.  And he never thought it would be with the medical officer.


Her bottom hit the soft ground with a heavy thud.  It was a three minute walk from the shuttle, which was parked on the center of the discovered island, to one end.  The trees were close together but not so much so that she couldn't make her way towards the hidden shore. Wildflowers grew just beyond the soil, the roots hidden in the still water.  The blossoms were beautiful, pink and purple petals with a vibrant red center. Her arms wrapped around her legs and she rested her chin on her knees. Jane lost herself to her thoughts as she recalled the other sites of interest.  There was another lake beyond the mountain, but it would mean an hour commute. There was always the bay by the outpost. It'd be close to Phoenix, and she'd eventually have to deal with others taking claim to the land beside hers. She sighed and silently nodded when she decided it was probably best to claim the lakeside property on the ridgeline of the mountain they visited earlier that morning.  If she was assaulting people, she deserved to be isolated.


He replaced the regenerator into the medical kit and pushed to his feet so he could return it to the shuttle.  Lukas stepped inside just to be sure that it had been powered down properly and he cut the power to save the fuel cells.  The German picked up the basket that supposedly contained their lunch and he turned to search for Jane. When he saw the Italian woman's jacket on the ground, he picked it up and draped it over a stick before driving it into the ground.  He struck out to find her and happened upon her after scouting the other side of the island. It was heavily wooded but there was a small flat space that would make an excellent workshop. The island wasn't large but it was big enough to be secluded from everyone.  The operations officer approached quietly, then cleared his throat to signal his presence. The wicker was offered to her before he sat down next to the medical officer. “I'm sorry,” he murmured, genuine in his apology.


“Whatever,” she muttered.  Her chin slid along her knees as she turned her face away from him.  “It's fine.” Subtly she wiped her eyes on her bare arm.


“Your flag is flying by the shuttle.  Your island.”


“I don't want it.  You call dibs before the flag.  It's your stupid island.”


“I'm supposed to be helping you find a place to build your house, not for myself.  I just saw the-” He sighed heavily and shook his head. “I'm sorry Jane. I was wrong to say anything.  I'm not taking the island from you. It's yours.”


“I don't want it.”  She'd gone straight from fighting for the piece of land to being stubborn.  


He shrugged his shoulders and pushed to his feet.  “Then it's no one's island. We're trespassing. Let's go.”  Lukas leaned down to pick up the basket and then offered his hand.  There was no second thought to the gesture.


“You go.  I'll walk.”  The surgeon remained seated and didn't care to look up at the operations officer.  Jane leaned back and rested against the fallen tree. With a sigh, she stared out over the water and simply shook her head.  Even if she were to take the island, it was tainted with the memory of their fight. It was just a bad omen. Her hands rubbed roughly into her face.  It was a fine mess. The goose egg on the center of her forehead did nothing to make her feel better.


There were just several beats of silence as he stared down at her before he replaced the basket next to her, turned, and walked away.  They had just started getting things right again. Lukas lamented the turn of events that had them worse off than when she returned from Bel'mara.  His hands fell into his pockets and his gaze lifted to survey the land as he ambled toward the shuttle. Once he reached the clearing, he stepped past the vessel and lowered to sit on the shoreline with his boots in the water.  The German didn't care that his slacks were getting wet. “Wenn wir nicht zusammen sein können, ist es vielleicht am besten, dass wir nicht einmal Freunde sind, (If we can't be together, maybe it's best that we aren't even friends.)” he murmured to the lightly chopping water.  The thought didn't soothe him at all. His brows furrowed when the wind kicked up and he heard a low eerie whistling.


She didn't know how long she lingered near the shore, listening to the soft aria of the sizable lake that surrounded the island.  Her gaze shifted towards the basket and she sighed softly. The picnic was ruined. Jane was sure the friendship was ruined. All because she couldn't let him win.  “Sono un amico schifoso (I'm a crappy friend),” came her soft sad muttering. With a shake of her head, she pushed to her feet, one hand on the handle of the basket and the other dusting her uniform clean of dirt.  The Italian trudged back towards the shuttle and the moment she reached the clearing, her eyes searched out for the German operations officer. She found him by the water, so her silent strides carried her towards him.  “Hey,” she whispered in greeting. “We should probably head back.”


“Yeah,” he murmured as he pushed himself to his feet.  His hands brushed the back of his slacks and he glanced down at the medical officer before turning to head to the shuttle.  He stared briefly at the lump in the middle of her forehead. “Sie sollten sich darum kümmern. (You should get that taken care of.)”  The operations officer was sure she knew about it and would look after herself in due time. He wasn't her caretaker, no matter how much he cared for her.  At that moment, it would be difficult to show without sounding completely desolate. In his haste to apologize, Lukas had overlooked being thorough in his own care.


“Holy-  Didn't you use the med kit?”  Her eyes widened as she stared at his nose.  Their fight was forgotten, concern for him surging quickly.  Jane ran after him, her hand grabbing at his wrist as she pulled him towards the vessel.  His pace was simply too slow. The moment they reached the small craft, the basket was dropped by the open doorway.  She instructed him to sit at the small step. The natural light was needed during her examination. She went searching for the medical kit and found it in the appropriate compartment.


His brows furrowed and he watched Jane with slight disbelief, then fell onto his backside on the step.  “I used the medkit,” the operations officer assured her. Lukas lifted his hand to be sure that his nose wasn't bleeding again.  When his fingers came back dry, he looked again toward the Italian with question in his expression.


“To do what?  Your nose is broken!”  The medical officer sat beside him and turned slightly so she could face him, the medical kit placed behind and between them.  Her hands rested lightly on the his jaw and cognac brown irises studied his injury. Gently, she ran her finger over the bridge of his nose towards his nostrils to get a sense of the bones hidden under his skin.  There was significant bruising that made it difficult to tell if she had caused significant harm. Guilt swelled. …˜Di dio.  Sono una tale stronza.  Non sono un amico.'  The thought was pushed away and she opened the med kit to start on mending his nose.


“I stopped the bleeding,” he answered meekly.  The heaviness of his thoughts had his eyes closing and he remained still to keep from upsetting her again.  “Bitte vergib mir. Ich komme nicht über dich hinweg, (Please forgive me. I just can't get over you.)” Lukas whispered with a frown.  He lifted his gaze, staring into her rich cognac brown hues.


There was he was again, speaking with that thick accent of his.  She didn't know the words, but the sentiment was easy to tell from his tone.  At least, she thought she could tell. One hand flattened on his neck while the other lightly brushed along his nose.  She'd avoided his gaze, but not in that moment. There was apology in her eyes and one that she verbally shared. “I've got to reset your nose.  Take a breath- On five.” She watched as he mentally prepared. “One. Two-” There was no waiting for five. Her fingers quickly pinched at his nose and she forced the bone back into place with a sickening crack.


The howl of pain could not be helped and he instinctively recoiled, reaching his hands up to protect his nose.  Only her hand on his neck kept him from wincing away, though he did hunch forward on the assumption that his nose would start bleeding again.  Soft whining curses flowed freely, though none were directed at Jane. He understood that she'd done it to keep him from tensing, but that didn't mean it hurt any less.  Deep panting breaths helped with the lightheadedness.


“Sorry,” she whispered.  “I'll take care of it.” Her hand remained on his neck and she twisted slightly at the waist to let her other hand reached under her arm to grab at the hypospray.  It was pressed into his neck and she released a small dose of pain suppressant. The device was throw into the kit and she reached for the osteo-regenerator. The hum filled the silence between them as she tended to the small bones of his nose.


His fingers combed into his hair as he rested his temple into his palm and his elbow on his knee.  Lukas had closed his eyes to let the medical officer work. He bit his bottom lip to keep from saying anything stupid, though at this point he wondered how much it could possibly make things worse.  …˜Wie verwirrt sie immer mein Gehirn?!' he cursed to himself.  


A dermal regenerator followed after the osteo-regenerator and Jane watched as the dark bruise began to shrink and lighten in colour.  From time to time, her finger would ghost lightly over the center. Her touch was soothing as she made sure that he was healing correctly.  The device was shut off and tossed into the medical kit. In silence, she reached into the basket and pulled out the glass bottle of water and a napkin.  The fabric was soaked and the medical officer carefully wiped away the dried blood that caked his nostrils and his upper lip. “I'm almost done,” she assured him softly.


He reached up with his free hand and caressed her hair back from her forehead.  His palm rested for a moment on her neck with his thanks before drifting down her shoulder and arm.  “Can I live with you- on the island?” he muttered once she finished on his lip. Lukas sighed heavily.  The attempt at a joke felt flat and he inwardly winced at himself. …˜Es ist fertig.  Ich muss nur aufhören.'


She lowered the wet napkin and she stared at him.  She couldn't help but chuckle. The fight over the piece of land was incredibly stupid.  Though, there was a part of her that realized it really wasn't about the island at all. They'd been at odds for a while, even well before she had stepped foot onto the planet again.  “Two houses would fit pretty nicely here,” Jane whispered softly. The smile she gave him was small and timid. She would have preferred to live in the same house with him, but all she ever did was hurt him.  He was better off without her, but she was selfish and couldn't let go.


The German officer hadn't asked his question but she answered it clearly.  They were going to forever be friends. Lukas sighed again and pushed a small smile to keep her from seeing his heartbreak.  “Yeah,” he agreed despite not agreeing. The island was not big enough for two houses, unless one was the size of a shed. He hummed quietly in thought and dipped his gaze.


“You know,” she whispered softly as she avoided his gaze and began to clean up the mess she'd  created. “I did mean it- You can have the island. Crewman Jones lives on the first floor and he apparently has an office he can convert into a second bedroom.  You don't have to worry. I won't get stuck with crappy roommates. You've dealt with them for months while I was gone. You deserve a space of your own.”


His nose wrinkled and he shook his head.  “Honestly, I was really just joking about the whole thing.  I really didn't think you'd fly off-”


“Liar liar!”  The exclamation fell from her painted lips before she could stop it.  Her shove was light and nearly playful. “You were serious about calling dibs!  Don't even play it off like a joke.” She lifted the lid of the basket and reached inside, pulling out a small wrapped rectangular packet.  She offered it to him before reaching into the picnic basket once more to grab one for herself.


The packet was taken without looking at it.  Lukas furrowed his brows and his lips formed a thin line as he stared at her, challenging her assertion of his untruth.  The operations officer shook his head, deciding against arguing about it. “I don't want the island if you're not going to be on it.”  He lowered his chin and he stared at the rectangular package. Rations. Of course she would have packed rations for a picnic.


Her heart skipped a beat and she took a moment to stare at him.  “Yeah? Why?” she asked softly, unsure if she wanted to know.


“Because if I'm going to be committing three years to this place, I want you to be around too.  You honestly packed rations for lunch?” The answer to her question and his question ran together as he lifted the package to wave it in her direction.  “We're not exactly in survival mode out here. I could fish, start a fire, grill it with some of the wild herbs, looked like rosemary, and it would taste better than this.”  The plastic packet creaked in his fingers as it swung.


The blush that came from his subtle compliment remained despite the confusion in her eyes from his not-so-subtle comment about her cooking abilities.  “Sure, and you could suffer from worms from improperly cooked meat or poison yourself from using herbs that are not meant for human consumption,” she retorted flatly, her eyes widening ever so slightly.  Her slender finger pointed to the packet in his hand. “You have all your vital nutrients in that little packet. I even packed your favourite. Tacos.” It was as if their fight never happened. They simply fell back into the normal shallow arguments, the banter, the teasing.  Nothing was said out of spite and nothing was taken personally.


He shook his head and adjusted the packet to peel it open.  “Du bist süß. Aber du kochst nie wieder. (You're adorable. But you're never cooking again.)”  Lukas grunted softly and pressed the edges so that he could peer into the package. There was nothing appetizing about the finely chopped food particles that smelled like cardboard.  “Das ist Gift. Du vergifst mich, (This is poison. You're poisoning me.)” he muttered as he picked up the spoon. “Es wird Wochen dauern bis sich meine Geschmacksknospen erholen. (It'll take weeks for my taste buds to recover.)”  The playful jabs continued, a new one after he finished each bite. He tried to wash it down with the bottle of water she'd provided but the taste was just horrid and it stuck to his mouth. “Du schuldest mir so viel dafür. (You owe me so much for this.)”



   
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