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Captain Diego Herrera, "Super Brother"


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((USS Vigilant, Deck 1: Captain's Ready Room))
::The first traces of caffeine had hit Diego's system and he was sat behind the desk in his ready room, ready to call his parents. He had tried on the previous day, near the end of his shift and shortly after his meeting with Ensign Falcon, but for a second time he had not been able to get through. It was starting to become more than a small worry. The first time they had missed him, he had thought of several feasible reasons that might explain why they hadn't picked up. When it had happened again, he had become a lot more concerned. This time, he was already mentally compiling a list of people who he could ask to check up on his family for him if he was unable to get through this time.::
::Navigating the familiar communication menus, he attempted to establish contact and waited while the call was connected. The UFOP logo on his screen had never felt quite so much like a barrier as it currently did. He caught himself drumming his fingers on the table and clasped his hands together for a moment to hide the signs of emotional leakage. If they did pick up the call, the last thing he wanted was for them to see him looking anxious.::
::He was getting close to the point where he was ready to terminate the call when the screen blinked into the familiar surroundings of his own living room back in Santander. To his surprise and delight, it wasn't either of his parents who had answered the call, but his sister.::
Diego: Adana!
::It was impossible not to break out into a grin. For many years she had avoided using the comm altogether due to the severe aphasia that had resulted from a serious brain injury during a game of Squares when she was young. The last Diego had heard, she had been getting more confident in holding conversations since she had started using positronic inducers, devices that he'd had a big part in designing. He could see them attached to either side of her forehead, which he still thought was a shame, although her dark hair partially obscured them both. Neither one of his parents were even in shot at this point; evidently she was now feeling like she could talk without having anyone else around if she started to find things difficult. He imagined that it probably helped that it was him that she was talking to, of course, but it was still a great sign.::
::She returned his smile. It lit up her whole face.::
Adana: Hey Diego!
Diego: Hey! How's my favourite sister doing?
::She laughed and shook her head.::
Adana: I'm doing alright thankyou. How's my favourite starfleet captain doing?
::His smile shifted into a lop-sided, playful smirk.::
Diego: I dunno. You want me to give Captain Vetri on the Avandar a call and ask?
::She folded her arms.::
Adana: No, idiota. I don't even know enough Starfleet captains to have a clue who that is!
Diego: Oh? So how many do you know?
::She held up a hand, counting on her fingers, and stopped at three.::
Adana: Three. Two you worked with and you. One of your bosses wasn't a captain.
::He nodded, impressed that she had remembered.::
Diego: That's right. Commander Tel-ar. You've been keeping track! I guess it must be for that book that you're writing about me.
::By contrast, she looked distinctly unimpressed, but Diego could tell she was messing with him.::
Adana: No! You're gonna have to write your own book. I remember you saying you worked with the Romulans too? And the Klingons? That big fight?
Diego: Close enough. We fought against some Klingons while we were trying to find out what was happening on a Romulan planet. Hey, you really are keeping tabs, aren't you?
Adana: When your super brother goes away into space, you have to do that. Someone has to keep an eye on him and keep him out of trouble.
::He suddenly felt a huge pang of homesickness. If he'd been off shift while he was working on Earth then he would probably have taken her out into the garden for a while and read to her. It looked like the weather there was nice.::
Diego: I'd find a way to get into trouble even if you were keeping an eye on me!
::She rolled her eyes at him and shook her head. Despite the five year age gap she had always seemed to like to think of herself as being protective of him. In reality, Diego knew that was more of a response to the fact that she had depended on him for so long. In some ways, he had been able to be more supportive for her than either of their parents during the early years after her injury. While they had been responsible for making a constant stream of decisions about her wellbeing, he had been able to be a true friend to her, as well as lending a hand wherever he could with more practical things.::
Adana: You would!
::He laughed at her reproachful tone.::
Diego: Anyway, I'm all good and even better for hearing the way you're talking! Check you out! You've made heaps of progress since I was last home!
::She blushed and looked away from the monitor for a moment as she digested the compliment.::
Adana: I've been trying really hard. These things have helped. ::She pointed to her forehead.:: Even if you did give them the worst kind of name for someone like me to try to say.
::He hadn't actually thought of that and he flashed her a sheepish look. The devices, which used a similar design to delta-wave inducers but incorporated similar positronic technology to the kind that had been used by Dr. Julian Bashir during peace negotiations between Bajor and Cardassia was designed not only to aid aphasic patients, but to provide relief to those with other forms of minor brain damage. Initially, he had hoped that he might be able to tackle her paraplegia as well, but had quickly found that he'd hit a dead end.::
Diego: Yeah, my bad on that one. "These things" is a great name for them, though. I know what you mean.
::She stuck her tongue out at him. That was one sentiment she didn't need to express in words.::
Diego: So how's stuff at home? What's new?
::She looked uncomfortable for a moment and his cheerful expression dropped, quickly replaced with a mask of concern.::
Diego: Everything OK?
::She looked back up at the screen. It took her a moment to speak. He worried that he might be tiring her out. She had done well to keep up a conversation without anyone else to jump in and give her a break every now and again and he didn't want to push it.::
Adana: I miss you. But I'm really proud.
::He felt a lump rise in his throat as he saw her start to well up. He tried not to sound choked up himself as he answered her.::
Diego: You'll set me off if you're not careful. Really. That's exactly how I feel about you. I'm gonna see if I can come home next leave, OK? Then I can come and see you.
::She shook her head emphatically, which dislodged the tears that had been threatening to fall from her eyes. She quickly wiped them dry with the back of one of her hands before taking a deep breath and smiling a bittersweet smile. Diego had to clench his stomach to prevent an emotional outburst of his own.::
Adana: No. We said you have to stay in space. Be a captain, do a good job. Maybe we'll come see you. I've never been in space.
::He nodded, brows knitting together as he got his emotions under control.::
Diego: That would be great. We could meet on Deep Space 6 some time and you could have a tour of the Vigilant.
::That certainly put a smile back on her face. Diego coughed a few times as the poignant moment finally passed and they returned to their previous upbeat tone of conversation.::
Adana: I'd love that.
::Still a little worried about tiring her out, Diego figured that it would be a good idea to wind things up sooner rather than later. He had enjoyed seeing her fend for herself in conversation and was looking forward to the next time they could speak.::
Diego: It'd be great! Anyway, I'm gonna let you go boss Mama and Papa around some, OK? I'm gonna be thinking about you lots!
Adana: Me too!
::He badly wanted to give her a hug, but given the distance between them there was really only one option. Leaning forward in his seat, he wrapped his arms around his personal console for a few seconds before shifting back to his original position. Judging by the contented look on her face, she appreciated the gesture.::
Diego: Love you, Adana. You're in charge til I get home, alright?
::Her smile widened and she rolled her eyes again.::
Adana: Love you too, Diego. Talk soon.
::She waved for the entire time it took her to reach forward and end the call. Thoroughly proud of her for how hard she'd obviously been working and how well she was doing, Diego sat for a moment to take everything in before turning his attention back to the daily schedule.::
TBC
Captain Diego Herrera
Commanding Officer
USS Vigilant
NCC-75515
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