((Deck 7, Shayne and Pond's Quarters, USS Darwin-A))
::Shayne wished he was knitting.::
::It was a peaceful, productive, time consuming activity that offered a level relaxation could sometimes border on catatonic meditation. As one became more practiced and skilled, new projects and more difficult goals could be sought and completed. One's dexterity might also improve with prolonged execution of the art form, and, when all was said and done, everyone enjoyed receiving a fuzzy sweater from a loved one or friend.::
::And apart from all these wonderful benefits, the act of knitting had one very important feature; unless you screwed up, the quality and size of a project is directly proportional to the work and time put into it. You could earn progress. The more you worked, the more you achieved. If only every activity in the universe could be that fair.::
::But, of course, there were a multitude of exceptions, and as Shayne glowered at the computer terminal before him, he rued this fact. After all, he'd been sitting there for nearly an hour, straining to think of something to say, and what had he to show for his valiant effort? An empty data packet, a bad mood, and a pulsing headache.::
::How could it be this difficult to send a simple communiqué to someone? He wasn't informing a family about a death, or anything like that. For god's sake, all he wanted to do was talk to family. How long had it been? A year? Longer?::
Shayne: Computer, start recording.
::Beep. It was as if the computer were saying, you're on.::
Shayne: Hi, Dad. It's been awhile. I, uh...I hope you're doing okay. I'm sorry I haven't contacted you for so long- things have been pretty intense out here. ::Growling in frustration.:: No, no, that's terrible. Computer, pause. Delete that last sentence.
::Dad wouldn't want to be reminded of the fact that he was not in the service anymore, or that his eldest was stationed in the line of fire of a hundred different alien threats. Shayne knew that his father's love for him conflicted with his desire to keep the young helmsman out of harm's way. The contradiction put a constant strain on the retired admiral, and Shayne was loathe to add to that worry any more than absolutely necessary.::
Shayne: Computer, continue.
Shayne: The Delta Quadrant has held some...interesting surprises.
::Perfect. It was simple, informative without suggesting that most of the interesting surprises in particular were dangerous and even life threatening. The second thing that his father had ever taught him, long before he'd been indoctrinated into the Academy, was that honesty was paramount, and the truth was far too important a thing to be omitted or tampered with.::
Shayne: I just came back from a bit of an explore inside the Dyson Sphere I'm stationed near. You should've seen it. I've seen some weird stuff in my time, but few things compared to this. Holographic technology beyond anything anyone's ever seen!
::Pointedly omitting the more dangerous aspects of the last mission, and the one before it (and the one before that...), he moved on.::
Shayne: I'm, uh... I'm with someone. ::Here he smiled.:: Name's Isabel. A Trill doctor serving on the same ship as me. It's... pretty serious. ::Smiling awkwardly.:: We've moved in together. Yeah. She's wonderful. Kind and compassionate. A hell of a medical officer, and a talented dancer to boot. I'm beyond lucky to have her. Next time we're within distance of Earth, I have to introduce y'all.
::He pinched the bridge of his nose. What else did he have to say? So, so much. What was he going to say? Not much else. He'd wanted to, perhaps without even realizing it. So much he wanted to confront, to get off his chest.::
::There is a certain point that a person reaches, where they have subjected themselves to so much self-ridicule and hatred and disgust, that they're mind becomes accustomed to it. From then on, each reminder of the reason for that hatred does not illicit a feeling. Rather, it manifests itself as a shape, a sound, a color. It passes through the back of your mind like an unholy shade traversing a graveyard. All the memories and feelings associated with it wrapped up into one dreaded totem.::
::Now that shade passed behind his eyes. Grey and lingering, it obscured his thoughts and tainted his joy. Dad, he knew, forgave him his trespass. Mom did, as well. And Zach, ironically, was perhaps the most eager to forgive, the most willing. In fact, the only person in the universe that seemed to be unwilling to forgive was himself. This was why he didn't want to contact his father, or anyone who knew. Out here in the wilderness of unexplored space, he could run, and hide, and forget. By contacting his family, he was awakening those memories, those not-quite-feelings. And that was something that had to be avoided.::
Shayne: I'll talk to you...
Shayne: oO When? Oo
Shayne: Sometime. Love to you and....everyone. Be safe.
::With that, Shayne ended the message, and transmitted it to the Endeavor, which would carry it to the Alpha Quadrant. He hesitated before hitting the send command, but only for a moment. It would be good to catch up with family, he told himself. Very good.::
Lieutenant Randal Shayne