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Behr & Vasari: Log Series - Homestead: Unpacking

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net

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

Log Series: Homestead UNPACKING
Lieutenant j.g. Behr and Lieutenant j.g. Vasari
(Note: This series takes place immediately following the Inquisition of Masterson plot.)

They thought the day would never come.  It took them four months. Four arduous months, but finally the house was built, the walls painted, the floors sealed.  They left the makeshift shelter up with every intention of breaking down the structure that they'd called their home. Memories of their former neighbours made them laugh more than cringe.  Furniture and crates were piled in their respective rooms, but it was going to be a daunting experience unpacking and arranging the space.

Jane set out to focus on the main common spaces before her master suite.  It was her way of being a better friend, a conscious effort in avoiding her selfishness.  She only hoped that it became more natural. Years of ambition and competition had her forgetting the value of focusing on others, and it was something she hoped to correct.  She lifted the top of a silver crate and began to pull a stack of plates from the interior. Carefully, she unwrapped each one from the paper wrapping that protected them. “Where do plates go?” she asked the German.  The kitchen was his domain.

He turned from placing the glasses into a cabinet and smiled toward her, appreciation easy to see in his features despite the shake of his head.  “I've got this, really.” Lukas had noticed that she seemed to hang around with him more often, whereas in the Academy, she was very insistent that he leave her alone so she could focus on school work.  It'd started after she came back from Bel'mara. His hand rested on her shoulder before he took the plates. “Why don't you start on the family room?” He nodded toward the space next to the kitchen.

She barely nodded and simply made her way to the adjoining room.  The family room was the common space. It was where they'd sit and simply relax if they didn't feel like remaining in their respective bedrooms, but it was less formal than the living room.  It would be a place, they hoped, where they could sit with their friends. She didn't wish to think of the women he'd be bringing into their home, and she reminded herself that she had no right to be jealous.  Her chance disappeared long ago, and it was simply something she had to accept. Jane lifted the top to one of the silver crates and glanced inside. Blankets and pillows. That'd require the leather sectional couch, but that wouldn't be delivered for another week.  The crate was easy to move to the floor.

His method was logical.  Plates were in the cabinet next to the oven, glasses next to the fridge.  Mixing bowls, pots, and pans filled the lower cabinets that flanked the stove.  Utensils went into drawers, most common used by the fridge and stove with cooking utensils on the other side of the stove.  There were only a few gadgets on the counter since there was more than enough room in storage for everything they owned. Lukas couldn't help but smile at the mixture of their styles.  Her plates were warm and his cool colored. She brought wine while he supplied the glencairn tumblers. The wine fridge was half full and a cabinet near the dining table was stocked with liquors.

She filled the industrial style bookshelves with his books and placed little knick-knacks with the an objective eye that would highlight their importance.  The old leather bound novels were arranged by author then title. She emptied out four crates, stacking them one within the other with the lids inside the bins.  She filled the shelves and couldn't help but smile at the sight. There were a mixture of ancient medical texts and beautiful nautical books. There were old compasses and telescopes.  The wooden ship in a bottle had a space of its own. Quietly, she lifted the lid off another crate in search of the one that contained a few gifts she'd purchased for him as a housewarming gift.  What she found, however, was unexpected and she was stunned into silence.

She stared at the first canvas and furrowed her brow.  It looked awfully familiar. The outline of a woman's body was made in dark blue water paint and only certain areas of her body were highlighted by blocks of paint.  Her fingers pulled it forward and she stared at the second, a framed pastel image was protected by glass and was of a woman's back. Canvas after canvas after canvas depicted a woman.  Some hinted at nudeness, some were clothed, but most were of the female form either in its entirety or a particular curve of her body. The mediums were different. Oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal.  They ranged from finished works of art to simple drafts. Each one tugged at her memories, though she couldn't place them. They ranged from impressionistic to surreal, dependant on the artist who attempted to capture their subject.  There were photographs and even sculptures.

Jane lifted one canvas out of the crate and she could only stare at the portrait as she held the painting by its frame.  Her head tilted to one side as she studied the work of art. It'd been so long since she'd seen it. Cognac brown eyes traced the spine of the woman's back and settled on the shadow of the dip to her waist.  Her black hair was pulled up in a messy bun, her arm folded by her chest to hide herself as she seemed lost in thought. A white skirt pooled low along her hips as she remained seated on a simple stool, her red blouse pinned to her abdomen and her arm.  It wasn't until she saw her face did she recognize it. “Andrei Rublev,” she whispered, remembering the artist fondly. He had been talented. It was only then that she realized why the other works of art looked so familiar.

Her chin stared at the crate that held paintings, sketches, sculptures, and photographs of her.  Mathias Dalton. Korbin Bailey. Braylon Glass. Petre Gabrilov. Jorden Guerrero. Gaelian Levinson.  Cyprian Gabrieli. Vespasian Elsworth. Ezekiel Abraveya. The artist names filled her head. She remembered every single one of them, each man talented in their chosen medium.  She'd modeled for them all and Lukas apparently had each work of art that showcased her as the subject. “Perché hai tutto questo? (Why do you have all of these?)” The question was offered softly, slipping out on her breath as a whisper.  She placed the painting to the side and began to pull canvas after canvas out of the crate. “Non puoi possibilmente- Perché- Come hai- (You can't possibly- Why- How did you-)” The questions never found their end. Just how many artists did he approach?  …˜Non avrebbe potuto possedere tutti.  Ho modellato per così tanti!'

The last of the crates for the kitchen was unpacked and everything had its place.  Lukas stepped back and glanced around the cabinets, mentally noting where all of his utensils and dishware were.  He took a few moments to envision himself in a meal to see if the placement was correct for what he needed to use.  There were several different dishes he went through and all seemed to be good. The operations officer stopped at the wine fridge and pulled out a bottle of sweet red, pulling down two wine glasses.  He poured and lifted both glasses in one hand while carrying the bottle in the other. “How about a quick brea-” His question was silenced when he turned to face the medical officer and saw the crate that she'd unpacked.  Several agonizing minutes passed in silence before he spoke, his voice low and raspy. “Those don't belong out here.” There was a hint of apology and even more dread in his deep baritone.

“Don't belong-  Where exactly were these supposed to go?!”  Jane lowered a small framed photograph and pulled a large leather bound album from the bin.  There was no anger in her tone, simply confusion and perhaps a hint of incredulity. It wasn't that he owned works of art where she was nude.  She had no problems with the human form. She'd seen enough of it as a physician and more so since she was the daughter of an art historian. The human form had been depicted for centuries in various cultures.  She wasn't ashamed that she'd modeled for talented artists. She was more than happy to be their muse. The Italian surgeon was simply floored that everything in the crate were of her and that Lukas was the one who owned them all.  There was no way to know what to think in that moment.

“My room!”  There wasn't any frustration in his voice, but he was still fearful of what she would think.  …˜I'm not a creeper, I swear.'  He motioned toward the crate, which was marked on the side …˜Lukas bedroom'.  He could only surmise that the label had fallen off the top. The operations officer lifted his hand that carried the wine glasses and they hovered in front of his face as he stared.  His heart raced and he waited for the woman to throw him out of the house.

“What?”  She wasn't sure that answer was any better.  “You were going to display all of these in your room?”  Jane's hand motioned easily over the canvases and sculptures she'd pulled from the bin, the leather bound album pinned to her chest.  “How'd you even afford all of these? I know Gaelian's work goes for a ton of latinum these days.” The album was balanced carefully in her open palm and she flipped through the pages.  There were pencil sketches - drafts really - and smaller photographs. Again, of her.

Lukas took a step back and turned to set the bottle and glasses down.  His chin lifted to look at Jane once again and he hesitated to answer. “Uh, I may have stolen some.  Beat up a gallery attendant- might have.” There was no skirting around the truth. The operations officer had stepped onto the wrong side of the law to gather the images and sculptures of Jane.  He could feel his neck warming with redness and heat moved through his body as he waited for her to go absolutely crazy on him for collecting the artwork.

“I-  You did-  You stole-  Assaulted a-”  The medical officer couldn't believe her ears.  Her chin lifted and cognac brown eyes met aquamarine.  Jane couldn't believe her ears, but Lukas was a terrible liar and he didn't seem to be showing signs of deceit.  “You're the most straight and narrow man I've ever met. You're practically the poster child for the ideal Starfleet officer.  Are you seriously telling me to believe that you stole these?” She snapped the album shut and waved it a bit in his direction.  She turned and let the leather bound book fall atop a silver crate before making her way towards him.

His shoulders tensed before his whole body did.  He wasn't going to run from Jane but he knew that she could hurt him if she chose to.  His recently broken nose was a testament to that. “Do you want me to show you the reports that were filed?”  The question was asked softly. His fingertips curled on the island counter in preparation for her assault.

“Where were you going to put them?  On your ceiling?” She waved her hand wildly as she motioned above her.  “What the hell, Lukas? What were you thinking? You could have jeopardized your career.”  Her bare feet were silent on the cold hardwood as she approached, not necessarily stalking but certainly moving with purpose.  

He pointed to the crate.  “They stay in there, no one's ever seen them.”  The German didn't have an answer for why. It was just a stupid obsession that didn't harm anyone.  Well, except monetarily. And the gallery worker. But those were easily overcome. It wasn't like he kissed them good night or anything creepy like that.

“So you stole precious works of art so that no one could see them?”  A hand pressed into his chest to keep him pinned against the kitchen island, the other gripping the edge as she leaned into him.  She wasn't a short woman, but he was a taller than average man. If he really tried, he could easily overpower her, but he never did so Jane had no qualms fooling herself into believing that he had nowhere to go.  “Why the hell would you collect art that you have no intention of enjoying?”

The feel of her hand on his sternum made his heart skip beats.  It was suddenly way hotter in the house than he'd ever known it to be.  The simple answer to her first question was …˜yes'. But deep down, he couldn't explain it.  His features were telling of his nerves, his worry about saying the wrong thing. Fear overwhelmed him and his expression fell with the realization that things would change.  “I cherish them for the memories of you,” he whispered.

Whatever she could have said simply vanished and she stared up at him, unsure what to think let alone how to respond.  It was sweet and there was no way she could stop from feeling the swell of affection that simmered under the surface. Her mouth opened as she prepared to tell him that she cherished him when he blurted out his interruption.

“If you'd done more modeling clothed, I would have collected those too!  It wasn't because you were naked! I swear it Jane!”

She couldn't help the laughter that erupted.  It started in the pit of her stomach and filled her entire being.  Her forehead fell forward and rested against his chest as she tried to fill her lungs with air.  It caught in her nasal passages and a snort interrupted the jovial ringing of her mirth. “Di dio.  Sei carino! (Gods. You're cute!)” she exclaimed, unable contain herself. She laughed freely, the sound clipped periodically by her snort.  It only made her laugh harder despite her embarrassment. Her body melted against his as she struggled to remain standing and her hand slid from the edge of the counter to rest on his side.

He was stunned into silence - until she snorted.  A light chortle caught in his throat, though he was still unsure of what had just happened.  When Jane descended into uncontrollable laughter, he finally rested his arms around her shoulder and upper torso to help her remain upright.  A smile pulled at his features and he had to believe that the time for assault had passed. Finally, his own laughter joined hers, even if it was softer and a bit timid.

It took several minutes before she calmed down enough to speak and her chin shook from left to right as she wiped her joyful tears on his shirt.  “You are such a doof,” she managed with a gasping breath. Her chin rested on his sternum as she looked up at him. “Well, since you apparently have art, we should figure out where they should go.”

The corner of his lip curled in a smirk and his chin dipped so that he could stare down at her.  “You're going to display your art for all the guys to see? What if you decide they're not bedroom worthy?  They've already seen all the best parts.”

Jane rolled her eyes at him.  “They're art, Lukas. They're not meant to be hidden away.  Besides, I don't plan on bringing any guys here.” She shook her head at him as she flattened her hand on his chest and pushed off to stand.  The medical officer turned and glanced at the collection of artwork. The German's point, as much as it had been a tease, did have her thinking about the day when he would be bringing women into the house.  …˜Dovrei avere questi in mostra.  Li avrebbe spaventati.'  She sighed and shook her head.  There she was being selfish again.

It wasn't exactly a denial, but it wasn't an affirmation either.  “Well, the Levinson and the Elsworth can't be display. If a guest were to see them in my possession, I'd be in some trouble.”  He turned and picked up the glasses of wine, offering her one. When she took it, he lifted his in silent salute and took a long calming sip.  Lukas had silently chastised himself for ruining the moment. And he hadn't even gotten a straight answer.

The sip was long to calm herself and the glass was placed on one of the stacks of crates.  “I'll make sure to call them and see if we can fix that for you.” Her voice was soft as she was filled with emotion.  The thought of him bringing women into the house had a pang of sadness resonating in her chest, and it took concerted effort to remind herself not to be selfish.  Quietly, she began putting the canvases back into the crate and she told herself that it needed to be done. The art could never be displayed. “Until then, I suppose we can store these somewhere safe.”  There was particular care in placing each work of art back into the bin. “Remind me to pick up some paper. We'll need to wrap them up for extra protection.” She covered the crate with the appropriate top and picked up her glass before moving to another stack of crates.  “Speaking of protection. We need to set up passcodes.”

He turned and refilled his wine glass.  His strides carried him out to the family room and he topped her off as well.  “Well, I know yours is 4467446.” The German made his way back to the kitchen and pushed the stopper into the bottle as he took another sip.

“It was a perfectly good code and we both know it,” she told him flatly.

“Everyone knows it,” he argued with a shake of his head.  Lukas leaned against the edge of the island counter and slipped his free hand into his pocket.

“Who knows it?” she countered easily as she turned to face him, straightening as she held her wine glass in one hand.

He raised a brow and lifted the wine glass, turning his hand so he could poke himself in the chest with his thumb.  “I do.”

“That's not everyone.”  She smirked before taking a long sip of her wine.  Her shoulder lifted in a shrug. “Well, it's not my code anymore.  So you pick something, but no changing it every three months.” She moved around the maze of crates in search of another one to open and unpack.

“Yeah, what was that about?”  The operations officer recalled trying to get into her quarters after she returned from Bel'mara, when they kept missing each other.  And her usual code didn't work. Of course, he thought she was trying to avoid him.

“You told me to change it, so I thought I'd finally listen.”  She turned and placed her wine glass on the mantle of the fireplace so she could open a crate.  She smiled at seeing the books and the lid was placed to the side. The answer she gave was easily given and without hesitation.  It was the simple truth. Lukas always had her best interests at heart. His gentle warnings and teasing reminders about her security spoke of how much he valued their friendship.  She thought it was time to value it the same way, and changing the passcode felt like a step in the right direction.

Relief was easy to see in his features.  She hadn't changed the code to drive him away, but really because she'd actually paid attention to him after all that time.  “It only took you four years,” he grumbled playfully. His grin was hidden by his glass as he took a drink of wine. Lukas pushed off the counter and made his way to the crate to help her with unpacking the contents.

“I'm a bit slow apparently,” she chuckled sadly.  With her back turned to him, she shrugged and simply added, “I learnt a lot on Bel'mara.”  It was all of an explanation she would give. Jane shook her head and she easily reminded herself of her promise to be a better friend.  “We could just go with …˜Lukas steals naked art' for a code. What's the binary for that?” Well, a friend who teased him mercilessly for being so persnickety over safety.  They lived in the modern age. Who was going to walk into their home and steal anything? She smirked as she stared up at him when he stopped to stand beside her.

“Too long,” he answered easily before kneeling next to her.  His smirk mirrored hers and he shook his head as he reached in to pull out another pile of books.  “I'll change it every six months.” Lukas offered the suggestion as a compromise and chortled quietly when she scoffed and rolled her eyes at him.  The operations officer leaned to the side and lightly bumped her shoulder with his. “And I'll start over at the beginning of the list.” Their banter was light and easy as she suggested Italian dates or cooking terms.  He wasn't convinced until she brought up the idea of something from their days at the Academy. The coffee shop they first met at or the roommates who pushed them together. They looked at each other brightly and spoke at once.

“No score!”

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