|This article, Halo Spotlight: Reunion, was written by Lordofmonsterisland. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
On the eve of a critical mission against the, a long overdue reunion occurs aboard a UNSC ship in deep space.
Miranda's first punch had caught Riker off guard, but he'd let it slide. After all, Miranda had always outclassed him in agility. The second attack, a kick to the ribs, knocked some of his air, but he recovered with two quick jabs that staggered his foe back. But the third strike, a knock to the head, had shaken him. Riker could tell he was off his game and so did Miranda.
Emotions never were Riker's strong point. He was a Spartan, trained to kill since almost birth: a war machine to his core. Through the years he had gained some social skills, but he still couldn't handle emotions like a normal human. Now, after decades, Riker had begun to try to feel again: so to see him, now of all times... this was not the time to have to deal with emotions again.
Still, disconcerted by the sparring and the inner turmoil, Riker was shocked when Miranda escaped his grasp and placed him in a match-ending choke-hold. So, as he downed his water and caught his breath, Riker was not surprised when she caught him with an inquisitive glare.
"Don't," he began.
"– what's going on? You're never distracted like this."
"I said don't." Riker started to walk away, but Miranda would have none of it, jumping around and cutting him off.
"You can't get distracted now! Humanity's on the brink of extinction thanks to the Created, and all our futures wrapped up in this mission, so –"
"Don’t you get it!?" Riker demanded, exasperation clearly in his voice. "It's always about the fate of humanity! Since I was born, that's what it’s been about: 'become the soldiers we need you to be.' Everything I've had sacrificed for that crumbling dream till there's nothing else left... till no one else is left... "
Riker could feel the emotions pounding inside his head, but he didn't know how to express them properly. "I watched my only family die one by one! I've given up everything and everyone I have for humanity's future! And now… how do I face a man I took for dead?"
Miranda looked deeply into Riker's eyes. "This is about Laszlo, isn't it?"
The makeshift sparring room had fallen quiet. Riker's other companions waited anxiously to see what would happen: Dyne and Fireteam Nephthys stopped their planning, Fireteam Anvil looked away from their weapons, and the others dropped their poker game for a moment. Everyone listened with baited breath to hear what Riker would say.
"He was my only friend. Laz and I were there for each other, no matter what. And then... they took him. ONI stole him away and left a corpse. Three damn decades of lies, Miranda! Am I supposed to pretend nothing’s changed? I abandoned him!"
"Riker, you didn't have any way –"
"I didn't even try!" Riker yelled. "I just kept on being the soldier ONI wanted, trying not to look back! Even with all the secrets I saw, I never doubted for a second that he was dead. I let him be dead: you don't just forgive someone for doing that."
For a moment, there was silence. Then the faintest chuckle was heard. Slowly, Riker turned around and felt his emotions swirl again. There in the door stood Laz, smiling as always.
"You never change, do you, babyface?" He asked. "Come here, Riker: we've got some catching up to do."
Riker didn't know how, but suddenly he was embracing Laz. It was a brother's embrace, one he hadn't felt in years. And with that, tears began to roll down Riker's cheek as the emotions finally washed over him.