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Family Matters: Suddenly a Father

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


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

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( Many thanks to Jane Vasari for her assistance in writing this series. )

He was sure that routine was the key to success.  Lukas woke up with the sun, went for his quick run after checking on Adelina and locking her door to ensure she wouldn’t wander, showered, got his niece up for the day, made breakfast, brought her to daycare, went to work, picked her up from daycare, made dinner, went through an extensive ritual for bedtime including a bath and reading, then fell into bed around 2200 hours.  There was no time for him to think about himself or to miss Jane. After a few days, he found himself exhausted in ways that he hadn’t even thought of.

And then there were the interruptions to the routine that threw everything off.  There were days that she refused to get out of bed. There were days she had a tantrum outside of the daycare and refused to go inside.  There were days when she suddenly didn’t like potatoes and wanted carrots. There were days she didn’t want a bath. There were days she went through four changes of clothes, if only because she felt like a princess one moment and a gardener the next.  The disruptions strained his already waning energy.

He thought the worst was over until he received a call from the day care during a shift.  Marilea Weneran, the Betazoid woman who ran it, was attempting to remain calm, but he could hear the panic in her voice.  Adelina had wandered away from the playground after asking for her Onkel Lukes. The German officer bolted out of the Operations building and hopped into a hovercar.  He broke a few local laws in his race to get there. Emotion overwhelmed him at the idea of losing the little girl, and he took out his frustrations on the workers. “How could you take your eyes off her!?  How did she get out?!” he shouted.

He waved off their concerns and requested some assistance from the outpost.  Scans located her heading for the water and he ran to catch her. “Lauf nicht so davon, Lina! (Don’t run off like that!)”  The words slipped from his lips and he was immediately remorseful upon seeing her features fall. Lukas scooped her into his arms and apologized, explaining that the adults were there to protect her, that it was dangerous alone in the woods or at the water.  Of course, Lina had no idea what all the excitement was about and was just grateful that her uncle had come for her. He ended up taking the rest of the day off to assure her that he wasn’t going to leave her like her mommy and daddy had. There was some regret in the promise because his career carried far more possibility of him breaking it than Bodie or Lisette’s had.

And then that evening, he tried to take a few moments to complete a report that he’d been working on.  The girl walked over and demanded his attention with a book. “Nach deinem Bad, (After your bath.)” he suggested without looking at Lina.  Lukas jumped when she smacked his knee with the book and begged him with her pout. “Lina, es ist nicht schön Leute zu treffen, (It’s not nice to hit people.)” he admonished gently.  “Ich muss diesen Bericht beenden, dann werden wir dein Bad nehmen, und dann werde ich das Buch lesen. (I have to finish this report, then we’ll get your bath, and then I’ll read the book.)”

She stared up at him for several moments and then promptly smacked his knee again.  “Jetzt! Ich will es jetzt! Warum ignorierst du mich, Onkel Lukes?! (Now! I want it now!  Why are you ignoring me?)”

He blinked and shook his head.  “I’m not ignoring you- Hey!” His statement had been cut off by another smack of the book.  Lukas reached and snatched the weapon from her hands, his brows furrowing as he pointed for her to leave the office space.  “Ich habe es dir sp*ter gesagt. Ich muss diesen Bericht beenden und dann werden wir lesen. Setz dich in das Wohnzimmer. (I told you later.  I have to finish this report and then we’ll read. Go sit in the family room.)”

Her wail was unholy and completely unexpected.  Adelina dropped to the floor and balled her flailing fists as she screamed to get her way.  Real tears fell down her cheeks as she berated Lukas for being uncaring and a bully. She kicked at the leg of his chair.  “Du musst mir vorlesen! Es ist Lesezeit! Wenn du mir nicht vorliest, nehme ich dein Knie und wirf es! Und dann wird es brechen und dann wirst du kein Knie haben! (You have to read to me!  It’s reading time! If you don’t read to me, I’ll take your knee and throw it! And then it’ll break and then you won’t have a knee!)” she yelled vehemently.

The German couldn’t help but stare down at her for a few moments.  He’d seen a few of her tantrums but this was extra. His gaze shifted briefly to his knee and he wondered how she came to the conclusion that she could do anything with his knee.  The thought quickly left him as her continued crying tugged at his heartstrings. “Lina, Das dauert nur ein paar Minuten. Ich konnte es bei der Arbeit nicht beenden weil ich dich finden musste, erinnerst du dich?  Gib mir nur fünf Minuten und wir werden lesen, ich verspreche es. (This will take me just a few minutes. I couldn't finish it at work because I had to come find you, remember? Give me just five minutes and we'll read, I promise.)”  He tried to reason with her, but quickly learned that she would not listen.

His choices were grim - give in and be docked for being late on the report, or ignore her and have to hear her screaming for another five minutes.  He raised his eyes toward the ceiling and silently asked Bodie how the hell he managed. Lukas sighed heavily and set the book on his desk to focus on the report.  After a few minutes, the girl hiccupped and became eerily quiet. He glanced down at her and offered a meager smile in appreciation for her calm.

“Wie viele Minuten noch? (How many more minutes?)” she asked suddenly and in a sickly sweet voice.

He glanced toward the chronometer on his display and returned his attention to the report.  “Zwei weitere Minuten. (Two more minutes.)”

Not thirty seconds later.  “Jetzt wie viele Minuten noch? (Now how many more minutes?)”

“Still two, Lin-”

“Ich verstehe dich nicht! (I don’t understand you!)” she cried out forlornly.

Lukas sighed heavily and shook his head again.  “Nur noch eine Minute! Sie müssen Standard lernen, (Now just one minute!  You really need to learn Standard,)” he grumbled as he typed furiously to hurry the report.  He was sure he’d get laughed at for the quality of his submission, but he wasn’t sure he could stand putting Adelina off any longer.  He sent the report and handed the girl her book back. “Komm, lass uns gehen baden und dann lesen. (Come on, let’s get your bath and then read.)”

It ended up just being another late night for him.  It was one of the few in which Adelina didn’t sneak into his room and climb onto the bed to curl up with him.  On those nights, he was usually too tired to argue and welcomed the comfort of having someone close. Unfortunately, he always ended up with a new bruise from where she kicked or kneed him in her sleep.  Every time, he wondered how she managed to go from sleeping straight to sideways on the pillow next to him. Lukas couldn’t understand how his brother had managed to get any sleep but he also couldn’t stand to keep Lina from seeking him out for comfort.

* * *

On his days off, he made sure to take Adelina out to explore.  The island was quickly discovered and he brought her to the outpost.  Lukas focused his attention on his niece and giving her the best experience he could.  They were walking between buildings when the girl veered off to investigate a gnarly tree.  He slowed his walk and kept an eye on her as she started to climb the thick branches. When it appeared she was going to be entertained by the activity, he stopped and slid his hands into his pockets as he wandered closer.  

“You shouldn’t let her climb like that.  She could slip and fall and really hurt herself.”

He blinked and turned his head, noting that a woman with two children in tow had stopped to comment.  The German raised a brow and turned his chin to watch Adelina. After a few moments, he glanced back toward the mother and shook his head.  “Thanks, I think she’ll be fine.” He watched as she gave him an indignant look and walked away. Lukas hummed to himself and shrugged his shoulders.  Throughout the day, he heard similar comments when he let his niece explore the brush.

As they wandered the outpost, the operations officer couldn’t help but look around for Jane.  He didn’t figure he would see her, but it didn’t help to look. Lukas hadn’t been able to talk to her because he never saw her.  There had been one time that he went to search her out in the morgue, but he didn’t stay on account that she was having a conversation with a man about dinner.  His heart sank, but he figured it was less than he deserved for how he’d treated her.

There were a few times that he tried to approach her while at home.  Every time he knocked on the door, she didn’t answer. When he opened it to peer inside, the room looked untouched and the bed was made.  He’d never known the woman to set her sheets and comforter on her own, so he could only assume that she wasn’t staying in the house at all.

Even with Adelina there and his time monopolized, Lukas felt an emptiness within him.  He missed Jane and whenever he had a moment to dwell on it, he kicked himself for failing to realize how much she had done for him until it was too late.

   
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