The sun was setting, painting the sky in vivid washes of orange and
ochre. The warm Copper based planet absorbing all it could before the
day ended with darkness.
Not that its admirer would notice. The chill of night and the lack of
Horatic chirping bugs would make that call. For the eyes that now gazed
at the orange tendrils of daylight were unmoving and translucent in
nature. Damaged. Sightless. Gauling to their owner.
You shouldnt be out here dear friend. A voice chided. The
crunch of pebbles underfoot giving away his approach. We wouldnt want
you to get sick.
Not now, I guess. The sightless man smiled, dropping his chin in
The old Romulan Parliamentarian shook his head and raised a hand to the
tall mans shoulder. Come. We have guests on their way, and ale to
He paused. Emptying his lungs in one huge sigh he
Id like to stay here a bit longer Lwan. The ancient title now
natural to his tongue. In fact if he thought about it, he hadnt spoken
Terran nor Standard in decades. Romul was his primary language of
Please. Lwan I am no longer. The Romulan dipped his soulful
You should never of been Awan, you should have gone home a long time
The soft crunch of pebbles hinted at the suddenly restless feet of
their tall charge. The past is something I could never change. And
without your kindness, I would be long dead. Just another captured,
tortured and dead Starfleet officer. He breathed in the heady jasmine
fragrance. A bush he had tended to and treasured. Not just that it had
been his Imzadis enticing scent but that it also was a link to home.
You gave me freedom in other ways...Tyan.
Tyan laughed heartily. Ah so my name does not escape your memory after
all. I was beginning to think you had forgotten. He smiled. William,
come. If your bones do not feel the cold, mine do.
Unfolding a hand from the long folds of his clothing, he took his
friends elbow in hand and guided him inside. Past the Jasmine bushes
and Californian Pines. The ornamental garden was an indulgent mix of
native Romul and Earthern plantlife. Tyan had risked a lot by securing
a few samples to comfort and please this tortured man.
A being that had been barely alive when he had called in the favour. I
need a gardener. And this broken wretch should do. Tyan had responded,
when asked for his reasons in buying a corpse. A corpse that took many
months to heal, even with the aid of his other estate staff.
I shall miss your skills William. Hopefully Rway can skilfully follow
your footsteps in helping my garden bloom.
William nodded. Hes learning. And a lot quicker than I did.
Ah but he did not need to learn with only his fingers and ears.
slowed his pace and then indicated by changing his hand to Williams
forearm that there was now a set of steps to conquer. I only hope
your friends can improve your sight. I do feel we have lost face from
our past actions. Tyans regret at his governments actions washed his
tired face with a green blush of embarrassment.
For many years these two men, owner and ownee, had confessed their
sins, their secrets over chess moves. Some days were heavily with
humility rather than play. Tyans guilt in keeping William planetside,
had always been his first apology. Forgiveness is the only way to move
on Tyan, Ive told you that many times. He would say. And once more he
intoned those words, except this time it was now considered history not
I have your aid to thank for sending me home, alive. Forgiveness,
Tyan, moves in mysterious ways. He could almost feel his Romulan
masters raised eyebrow. Without the Federation forgiving every
incursion and accepting the peace offering, I wouldnt be going
anywhere. Id be under a plot of soil with only a Pine seedling to
comfort me in the afterlife.
A mefluvious sound interrupted their philosophical exchange, and the
forms of four people appeared before the duo. Tyan moved to greet his
visitors without needing introductions. He could already see the smug
smile on Williams face. Confirmation that he was going home was now
true. And somehow, the Terran with the pale periwinkle blue eyes knew
who they were.
Commodore Tyan I understand? A young official enquired. But a gasp
halted Tyans reply, drawing his eyes towards the crumbling giant.
Large glassy tears broke the dam in one eye, and Tyan felt moved enough
to move back to Williams side to wipe away the moisture. Looking down
he almost wished he could of persuaded the man to leave the pruning be.
His pristine white robes that he had donned earlier now had a small
smear of sap in random places. No doubt this officer had been
passionate in his duties, for his determination in keeping the garden
in order was always a hard chore to drag him away from. Even when he
knew his job was done.
Tyan had read about William Thomas Riker many times late at night. His
service record, pillaged via Romulan security somehow, never truly
showed what the core of him was like. But during the fight for survival
Tyan had seen a small peak. And that peak had been enough for him to be
lenient, and to take risks to make him feel at home. And now the war
was finally over, and both sides had signed a treaty for all POWs to
be returned. Tyan hoped that home would embrace him as a hero, an
honourable man, and better still...that someone who loved him would
welcome him back into their arms without limitations.
But as the only lady of the group moved forward, with her own eyes wide
and glassy, he knew William would be within those warm, caring, loving
arms soon. She too was well aged but he knew from Williams description
and rough, sightless etchings, that this was his soulmate.
William stood still, a hint of fear creeping into his heart. What if it
was all a masterfully cruel trick? But soon the soft feel of fingers
rubbing the hard worn skin on his hand made his heart soar. Imzadi?
He sent and whispered as one.
Yes. Her nervous voice as fragrant as the jasmine he had just inhaled
Imzadi. he gasped happily, his weakened knees dropping to the pale
Through her own broken sobs, Deanna pulled him forward to rest his face
against her abdomen. Rubbing his solid back, she too clutched him
tightly, afraid hed vanish into the ether. After a quiet moment,
Deannas senses returned and she heard the hushed voices behind her.
Her entourage where not there for security purposes but to aid her in
the recovery of her husband, who had been taken from her over a decade
He was old now, but so was she. Gently untying his shaky arms, she lent
down to help him back up. The last vestiges of the sun, now creeping to
bed, emphasised the harsh wrinkles of torment upon his face.
Come. Show me your garden Imzadi. She had read the transcript from
Tyan days before, of how Will had tended to the garden like a wanting
lady. Especially the Jasmine that was now blooming as the night air
enticed it. A scent filled monument of his undying love for her.
Drawing him towards one of three wooden benches at the centre of his
mistress, she sat him down and pulled him closer. He was still silent.
Speechless with love and relief. His throat constricted with passion
Deanna knew he was blind. And not just from the transcripts, but from
the visual signs. Gently tracing the large jaggered scar across one
eye, she intercepted his chin as it dropped in humility; placing a kiss
over each shuttered eyelid to urge him to look up with those unseeing
eyes of faded blue.
He smiled brightly as she slipped slowly inside his mind. Locating all
the right and old places she loved to lay in wait while he woke every
morning. The old knee melting smile warmed her soul. He could feel her
and they were whole once more.
Ive been waiting twelve years for him to smile like that.
murmured from the edge of the arranged seating.
And shes worth every dimple. He replied. Tyan I want
you to meet
the love of my life Deanna Riker. His deep rich baritone voice sliding
back into formality, as if he were holding an Ambassadorial banquet for
An honour to know the wife of such a strong and resourceful man.
bowed deeply before indicating with a hand to the gentlemen still
standing in Tyan living quarters. I believe they are in some hurry to
Deanna felt the twirl of feelings as William fought to detangle himself
emotionally from this old home. Tyan, thank you. For everything. And
please . honour me by calling me Will. All my friends do.
Tyan mirrored his friends grin. The honour is mine to be a friend.
replied, moving to Wills other side and helping Deanna guide the blind
man from one past and into another. Deanna smiled across at the
Romulan, who seemed to be radiating almost a parental charm as Will
took each step in his stride, hed stumbled too many times not to learn
where to place his feet. And Tyan had been the one to guarantee his
continued usefulness, something she appreciated, as she new that Will
would not of survived with only idle hands and bad memories.
Captain Riker. On behalf of Starfleet, welcome home. The young
Deanna nearly burst into laughter as Will puffed up his chest, and
threw back his shoulders, in mock superiority. Im not home yet, son.
Ah yes sir. He stammered until Deanna laid his unease at rest.
Tyan moved away and gathered a small container, placing it before Riker
to let his wandering hands feel it out. Before you go, I want you to
A warm grin and a nod was all he said. Slowly raising the lid, he knew
Deanna was curious. Inside the box were a few small snippets of a plant
very familiar to her. Jasmine cuttings, or a Romulan version there of.
One night when the loneliness of missing you struck, Tyan promised me
Jayzine the day I would see you again.
He would talk about you and your Jasmine fragrance for days when he
was first brought here. Delirious with jasmine hallucinations for
weeks. Tyan chuckled. I found it a great stimulant to keep this man
Deanna laughed in understanding, remembering how often Will would just
breathe her essence in. Shed missed is hair sniffing addiction. well
both treasure these. And I have the best place for him to cultivate
them too. Thank you Tyan.
The goodbyes lasted for few more minutes until Wills emotions began to
boil again with the fear of what future lay for him back on the
otherside of the now non-existant neutral zone. We must go. Deanna
prompted, soon followed by heartfelt hugs.
Please take good care of him. He deserves only the best in life for
how he has suffered. Tyan requested as he bowed and kissed the
Betazoids fine hand.
He has been missed dearly Tyan, and I doubt he will ever be alone,
much like here. She indicated to the garden and partially played chess
game. Thank you for being his saviour. Tyan could only bow once more,
his throat constricted with emotion as he watched his charge move away
to stand amongst his own kind once more.
Turning away, wandering back to the living area, he turned at the last
moment as the chime of de-materialisation began. Locating the faded
blue eyes before they vanishing he gave a weary wave and waited. The
living area was now empty. Silent.
Will. The old Lwan proudly called out to no
one. He would
miss the Terrans badly translated humour. But with all benefactors Tyan
had another quest to fulfil. The return of his own POW son. The gods
had finally been merciful.
And with that Tyan turned back to his unfinished chess game, took his
place with the whites, and called Checkmate.