A Late Night Call

Rai returned to the Commander’s office in the middle of the night, having finished her first meeting with the new executive officer. She passed by the sparsely-populated bridge on the way, opting to lean against the communications terminal.

“Any word back?” she asked vaguely.

The comm officer nodded. “I’ll connect the War College to your office, sir.”

Rai nodded, flicking her gaze around. That was a little more information than she’d care to share. Though the night shift has the benefit of a more relaxed atmosphere. Before any questions or comments were raised, she headed off to the office.

Slinking into her chair, she swiveled towards the console. The emblem of the Romulan War College displayed and Rai acknowledged her presence, leaning back in her seat. The lights were off, save for the light coming from the terminal.

Of all the things she had to deal with, this was the one thing she dreaded most. Whether it be the worst case scenarios, or emergencies, or even having to sit through a six hour meeting with Command, those were all problems that had straightforward solutions. Here, she felt as though the situation may truly be unsolvable. A no-win scenario, a not-unheard of thing in times of civil strife. Still though, there-

The screen switched on suddenly, interrupting her train of thought. On the other end of the line sat a Reman in one of the cadet quarters, sitting upright.

“Commander Rai.” he stated in monotone. “I am acknowledging your transmission.”

Rai stumbled on her words, having not expected the conversation to start so suddenly. Usually there’s some sort of forewarning.

“Oh-uh-he- hi Arim,” she greeted, opting to use a familiar nickname. “How is school?”

Good work, Rai. Have you learned nothing from the last thousand calls? She started to cut at her fingernail with the one on her thumb, a bad habit she had adopted and one that’s usually moot by her wearing gloves. Something that she had elected not to do tonight, to her disadvantage.

The Reman gave an unsettled look, audibly swallowing.

“Is this a courtesy call, Commander?” he sighed wearily, perhaps painfully so. “My time in the War College has been… without major incident.” he spoke, awkwardly adjusting in his seat. “My classes are all as well as they could be.”

“Oh, that’s-” Rai cleared her throat. “-that’s good.” she nodded several times. The silence was palpable. “Listen, uh…” she turned her gaze away from the screen, her eyes focusing on the keyboard. It was a conversation that was easier held when not eye-to-eye. “I… I know that we’ve talked about this. But… two things. Firstly,” she cleared her throat, looking up at the Reman again. “I’m very glad that you’re doing well in the War College. I hope that you like it, and that you get what you’re looking for when you get out of it. And if not?” she waved the thought aside. “A lot of doors are open, you can find what appeals to you.”

Arim nodded slowly, taking the opportunity to remain silent. Despite his attempts to remain stoic, it was as much a painful conversation for him too.

Rai scratched her eyebrow. “This career wasn’t my first choice. After the Dominion War, I was happy to just teach. It’s just…” she shifted in place. “Unfortunate that the galaxy’s in a way where we don’t get what we want sometimes. Something that I hope you never have to worry about.”

She sighed, stopping herself from going into a ramble. This wasn’t an autobiography. “Secondly,” the word was hard to pronounce. It died in her throat, only to get resurrected and spat out in slurred speech. She inhaled sharply to keep her articulation. “Call me ‘mom’. Please. This is a personal call, this isn’t official business, and the last thing I want for you to do is start referring to me by a title. I know that… things are… complicated. But you are my son.” she stared at him for a moment, letting the statement “I don’t have to have given birth to you for that to be true. And you always will be.”

It was a conversation they had before. Multiple times, even. But it was a series of statements Rai felt compelled to repeat again and again. It wasn’t easy talking to him. There was always a disconnect, and she felt no blame towards anyone but herself.

It was Arim’s turn to look towards his keyboard. Though this is usually how these conversations go, it was still an unpleasant one every time.

“I am preoccupied with my studies, Commander. I think it will be best if I keep at them.” He looked off to the side, nodding to somebody. “My class is starting soon. I have to go.”

Rai sighed. “Of course. You’re smart, you’ll do fine. Just-” She cut herself off as the feed ended, and she was met only with the emblem of the Republic navy displayed on her screen. She slumped in her seat, sighing. She had hoped that it would get easier over the years. That they would start talking to each other again. Time heals all wounds, she could hear her grandmother’s voice tell her. But it doesn’t. It was something she had to figure out how to do.

“I love you,” she spoke to the screen, the dim light from the monitor keeping herself and her desk illuminated.

A hand moved to trace the old scar on her eye. A rampaging Jem’Hadar was less terrifying than this.

She would be stay there for some time in the comfort of silence.

Before she left, she’d schedule another call for next week.