((of or relating to the river Styx))
Harry had (once) been stupid enough to think there was a limit to depravity. As if knowing the truth and breadth of Voldemort's humanity meant that he was less frightening than what monsters lingered inside childhood closets.
(Or maybe there were fewer monsters in closets than there were in the wild, growing vicious and strong in the very environments that gave them birth
… was Harry any less of one? How many would have crumbled where he survived?
"Not-" Ogilvie yelps loudly, but too late, his panicked flail collapsing into a dismayed slouch as the stone tomb's lid crashes open. "That one," he finishes with a sigh.
"What in God's Name-?"
The blasphemy is overlooked for the moment, the contents shocking enough to make even the holy man overlooks it. The contents are, of course, an amazingly lifelike replica of a man in his late twenties with pale skin and dark hair. Actually, entirely too lifelike, the man's lids just so slightly twitching as if dreaming.
"What is the meaning of this?" Imam sounds thunderstruck, turning wondering eyes on Ogilvie.
With a huff not unlike the one he'd given upon having his fine wines looted, he came forward, chin and nose both in the air. "Certainly none of your business -?"
"It's every bit my business," Fry cuts in, and she means it, bewilderment turning to belligerence. "That's either a stow away, or a - or a slave -"
"No, no," Ogilvie yelps, fanning the air nervously. "Nothing of the sort. I was - look. Never mind what I was doing. The important thing is, that thing is not living, no matter how it looks-"
"You mean for illegal organ transport?" The question is arch, Johns leaning over the collapsed lid to peer at the man inside. His words, his eyes, and it's Fry moving closer, reaching inside the tomb.
"Certainly not!" Ogilvie shouts it, patience and composure fraying. "He doesn't live, doesn't breathe -" He flails still, ineffectually trying to shoo them away from the tomb. "He's not a matter the living should trouble themselves with -!"
Johns holds him off with a look as a gold coin chases Fry's fingers out of the man's mouth, and Harry Potter sucks in a breath with a desperate heave. She springs back as he arches out of the tomb, flailing as he claws at the edges like a newborn creature searching for it's feet.
Ogilvie has frozen, and now he deflates, shoulders sinking. "Oh, dear," he says, weakly, and has to sit down.
Harry clutches a length of fine silk around his shoulders, shuddering against the the heat and brightness of the desert planet. The hiss and suck of the rebreathers make him think of heart beats or something larger and more monstrous than a handful of survivors of a crash landed ship.
The bespectacled man, balding and excitable (and selfish) hovers nervously nearby, and his presence itches at the back of Harry's brain like insects crawling beneath his skin. He wants to talk to Harry, but Harry pulls the silk closer and staggers too close on the heels of the other survivors to let him speak the words he wants.
His welcome into this age has left much to be desired. The Obol remains cool in his palm, sweat slick and dusty. The man who had possession of him has come under suspicion upon Harry's awakening, and Harry had been moved to tell them that he isn't living organ storage or a slave.
(not in the conventional sense)
"Some antique," the man with his strong chin had said coolly, dismissively, and turned his back. Harry had come to understand that he had bigger problems than just the crashed ship, with likely no way off this planet: there was some kind of murderer convict loose.
Harry had coughed into his hands and into silk upon hearing it, thankful his throat was too dry to let the rueful laugh escape intact.
There are the dead to bury, and Harry does not shirk this duty. He's shorter than Zeke, thinner than Paris, and exhausted, his muscles trembling and his joints creaking like a rusty automaton, but such matters pale next to their needs.
Paris P Ogilvie can't bring himself to sit idly by while Harry works, but he's not cut out for the labor (scholar or shop keeper, and there is tar in his lungs and toxins in his kidneys). He tires quickly, verging quickly toward a heat stroke, and Harry finally makes him sit while Zeke goes back to bring more dead.
When it becomes obvious that Ogilvie won't be catching his breath, Harry removes the rebreather he hadn't had to touch and hands it over. The cautious, uncertain, slightly hopeful and slightly awed expression on the older man's face makes Harry want to vomit bile.
He takes a breath instead, crouching in front of the man and studying his features. "Who are you to me?"
Ogilvie hesitates, the rebreather clutched in his teeth, hiss and suck like something beating or something breathing, large and hungry. The man looks fruitlessly across the dunes for a moment, but his eyes search further than that. Squinting back at Harry, he says, "Great, great, great - many times, great grandson." As if discomfited by it, he shrugs, struggles. "Or so we've been taught."
It's not the first time that Harry has met his descendants, and his heart does not stir in his chest. (Once he'd been happy for it, until his own blood taught him otherwise. Sharing his blood does not mean sharing his ideals, and woe to them for forgetting his lesson: do not fear Death)
Paris P Ogilvie does not taste of it, but Harry asks "does any of my gift remain?" His last line had faded to Squibs, and it seems that these might have, too.
Paris looks despairing and self-conscious and embarrassed and inferior. "No," he says, "the last of it died generations ago." Bitter and sour and burnt like ashes and orange rinds. He looks away again, down into the hole where the bodies lay, and up at the suns. Finally, he meets Harry's gaze again and asks "you're going to get us out of this mess, right?"
The Obol still feels like ice, wrapped in cloth wrapped around Harry's arm like a bandage, and he stands. "I don't know anything of star ships," he says, breathing dust and heat and dry. "I'm not a miracle worker. I just make corpses, and then I put them in the ground."
Paris stares up at him, uncomprehending, his mouth open. The lore is long lost that it has taken all of Harry's magic just to sustain his existence with the Obol on his tongue, that it will be months yet before he recovers. The truth is always forgotten just weeks after it happens, turned to slander and legends.
Harry's no hero. He's just a survivor. It just so happens that the 'big bads' object to his living. That was all.
Zeke has no problems touching dead bodies, and Harry does not miss how his hands do not shake as they wrap the burnt survivor in plastic. There is no sour bile as hard liquor on cloth strips the blood from Shazza's face, though she's pale.
The boy, Jack, seems the hardest hit by the death, jaw loose and fingertips unsteady, eyes dark and glossy. Shocked, but Harry thinks he's strong, yet; he'll recover fast.
Faster, anyway, than Paris, who has bolted down the path after them in a panicked tangle of cloth. He's missing his rebreather, saying something about monsters in the hole, and Riddick.
Fry arrives soon after, and they leave the dead where he lays to take the sled up and help Johns retrieve Riddick's unconscious body. Johns doesn't scorn their help, trailing after the sled with his baton in hand. Harry helps Zeke pull; Riddick ripples with muscle, and they've been hauling dead weight for hours already.
While Fry and Johns and Zeke confine the convict, Harry searches out his descendant. Paris has been into his drinks, and Jack can't seem to get any kind of sense out of him.
"It was nothing - no, must have been quick sand," he's telling the boy.
"There's more than quick sand," Harry says as he approaches, touches Jack briefly on the shoulder as he slips past the boy to confront the drunk. "There's more on heaven and earth than dreamt of, Paris."
Paris pales, staring at him again.
The mind magics have never been Harry's forte, but Paris is weak-willed to begin with and drunk besides. The blood shared between them might be weak, diluted over and over, but Harry grasps his head in both hands and tilts it back to catch a little sun scattering into the shredded hull.
"Look into my eyes, Paris," he says lowly, ignoring the quiet hiss of Jack's rebreather behind him. He shushes the silent protest in his descendant's face, and says, "now tell me what you saw."
"I - I didn't - there was -" Paris says, but the darkened, shredded hull flickers out of existence around them. The sand and rock is hot and dry. There were noises. The tarp flapped beside him. "I didn't see -" But there was the sound of dragging. And chirps. Trills. Snapping. And a wet tear. "I -"
-it hurts us- - so hungry- -rip and tear- -bring bring bring-
His pale hand, reaching out, shaking, to pull the tarp aside. Something dark. Grey. A sound like slithering.
And then the press of something against his throat, a sudden presence, and sweat. "Careful, unless you want to be next," against his ear. Riddick stripping his rebreather, then kicking him down the slope, away from the grave with a harsh laugh, sharp edges and teeth.
Harry releases his hold on Paris, pulling back. "Alright," he says, "it's okay." He reaches down and coaxes Paris to bring the bottle to his mouth again. "Sorry for pushing."
Jack is on his heels as he retreats into the hull, his goal elsewhere. "What did you do to him?" Jack sounds excited, fascinated, hungry.
Harry cuts a look back at the boy at the sound, but Jack's hunger is a weak thing, not something that gives birth to monsters. "I got the truth," he answers absently, dismissing the boy. "Stay with the ship, won't you?"
"Like hell," Jack shoots back, incredulous, but he's not Harry's to reign in and there's no immediate danger and Harry forgets him.
He's got a convict to interrogate.
Riddick awake and Riddick unconscious are impossible to separate, or would be except Harry knows when he's in a room with something seizing him up, deciding whether or not to kill him then or later. The spread of Riddick's arms is purposeful, and even with Riddick's strength, Harry bets that it aches.
Johns has already taken his turn with the convict, and while Harry does not begrudge monster hunters their grievances, he's not so sure that Johns is one. Paris won't affirm Riddick's story about what he heard, despite probably remembering it more clearly than he might wish under the influence of Harry's rummaging.
As a matter of fact, the man is the loudest supporter of leaving Riddick to die. Shazza and Zeke think it's a fair request so far ("no food, maybe some water, no technical experience") and Johns isn't saying either way.
Harry thinks that if Johns wanted Riddick dead, then out there in the field of mud spires with no witnesses would have been the perfect time. But Johns looks at Riddick like a man personally wronged - or a bizarre sense of ownership.
"Do you know anything about the things in the grave?" Harry's voice is flat in the shadowy hull.
Riddick doesn't answer, barely even breathes. Harry supposes that the convict owes him nothing and hasn't been offered anything in return.
"The antique dealer's' recollection," he adds, "while interesting, is hardly informative. If something comes crawling out of the ground, wanting to eat us, I want to know as much about it as possible, Riddick."
Finally, there's movement, a flash of white. Riddick is haloed by sunlight, but Harry sees the baring of teeth anyway. "Weak little man," he drawls dismissively. "Sounded more like denials than anything. Did he tell you I got hungry?"
Harry folds his arms, staring at the dome of Riddick's bowed head, his shut eyes. "No," he says, rolling his eyes, "that sounds more like something Johns would say. Do you know something, or am I wasting my time?"
Riddick tilts his head, breathing deep and careful as he tests his bonds in a ripple of muscle. It reminds Harry of basilisks and dragons, scenting, listening, unconcerned with his intrusion and so very sure of their own strength and superiority.
(He thinks about the fact that he's the one still standing here, rather than those myths.)
"They're everywhere," Riddick says at last, and he sounds like he's marveling, that he's impressed. Like he'd like to crawl inside their skin and play a dangerous predator game with them.
"That's not very helpful," Harry says at last. He feels hyper-aware of his own breathing and heart beating, like the delusion of Riddick's sharp senses has spread to him, too, like he's hearing himself like Riddick might hear him. "For what it's worth," he says without thinking, "I hope they don't eat you."
Riddick's dark chuckle follows him from the broken hull like memories dogging his heels.
Riddick plays the crew like a fiddle - or maybe just Fry. Maybe she's eating right out of his hand. Harry doesn't see the appeal, but at the same time he can't blame her either. Harry's eaten out of worse hands, and there's something compelling about the man. It's been a long time since Harry's looked at soft human skin and seen spikes and scales.
"Humans aren't necessarily on the top of the food chain," Harry tells her as they trek out to the grave site.
"Well, look at that, Fry," Johns says, short and unhappy. "You've got the brain damaged stowaway convinced. Seems like a sound idea to me."
"Enough, Johns," she says, glancing sharply over her shoulder. She's sweating so much that it drips from the hair at her neck. "Look, if there's some kind of animal here, we need to know about it."
"We know it eats flesh," Harry says bluntly. "Humans. I think I know enough not to crawl into it's burrow on the say so of a convict." Sins of his childhood aside, Harry has learned better than to crawl into any monster's home to confront it.
"Yeah," Jack says, "but how else could we prove it?"
"Smoke it out," Harry says.
They don't smoke it out.
Finally a fire has been lit under the survivor's butts, and there's a sort of frantic looting of what remains of the ship. Fry says they need at least one of the batteries from the ship, and they're heavy, but with Zeke and Harry and Riddick, it's not like they are desperate for strong backs.
For the briefest moment, Harry touches the stone tomb that had held him for centuries, and the Obol burns cold against his arm. His skin prickles, like a quiet hiss or the softest brush of scales against it.
"Hunting?" His question hangs quietly in the air.
"Hunting? No," Riddick says, grin audible though Harry doesn't see him in the compartment. "Watching." The correction is delivered almost salaciously.
"Ah," he sighs regretfully. He moves, finally, stepping around the fallen lid and leaning over the edge, trailing his fingers along the interior, worn smooth. "Would be a little more fruitful with Fry, I think." His fingers catch on it, finally, a smooth familiar length. He can't hold back the fond smile as he lifts the wand to the light, trailing his fingers over the slick length. A single golden spark flares from the tip. "I tend to kill all my stalkers."
"Oh, big talk," Riddick says, and he doesn't sound like he's in the same place as he was earlier, and Harry hadn't heard him move. "Forgive me if I don't shake in my boots." Then, hot against Harry's ear: "badder men than you have tried."
Harry doesn't bother spinning or striking out, his back already cold. If Riddick meant to kill him, he would have; no, this was just games. Not the fun kind, but the only kind that something like Riddick could play. "I kind of suck at intimidation," Harry acknowledges wryly, lowering his wand. This, too, he tucks into his bandages. "I've learned to live with it. Being underestimated is it's own kind of fun."
He steps away from the tomb, slipping through the maze of Paris' things. There are better things for him to do than play Riddick's kind of game - he has no reason to hate or like the man, and won't fear him, so there's no point to it.
"Underestimate?" Riddick's suddenly there at the the door right beside him like he's Apparated, where the light is brightest and the shadows is the deepest. It's enough to make Harry's heart thud, not telegraphed enough for him to keep from flinching -
(Flinch first. Sometimes it's nothing, but sometimes it's a snake. Flinch a hundred times if it saves your life just once.)
Riddick is twice his size, and looms, leaning forward into Harry's space. He's inhaling, deep and slow, slightly audible. "Don't flatter yourself," he says, hot breath against Harry's sweaty scalp. "You're either too stupid or too fucking crazy to feel fear. Bares watching. Never know what you're going to do."
It's said like a threat, and Riddick stands coiled like at any moment he'll try to twist Harry's head off his shoulders, but it tickles his brain. Because only one type of person has ever bothered to say that to Harry, to his face, and before he can stop it, he's twisting slightly to look up at Riddick's face. It's unmoved, his emotions sealed behind the pitch black goggles.
He has no idea what's on his face, but it makes Riddick lean back to stand straight. Harry doesn't mistake it as a retreat, because it isn't. Riddick isn't the kind to share, and Harry won't find any answers by staring at him. He finally looks away, stepping out into the brightness outside.
The trek to the settlement was longer than he would have liked, dry and hot and long. Harry sees the skiff. Harry drops the leash of his sled, watches Fry and Paris and Johns, and can't quite help it.
Harry laughs. It's a dry, croaking thing, rusty in his throat where it had broken a lifetime ago. He sees the way they look at him and gulps for harsh air (like swallowing sunlight) and chokes it down.
Johns touches his gun like he thinks Harry is a rabid thing that might need putting down before he's outlived his usefulness. Harry would dearly like him to try. "You wanna share with the class?"
"Lovely little two seater," Riddick drawls as he draws abreast of the breathless Harry. His words strike a nerve that most of them are trying to ignore. "Take it up to the regular lines, stick out our thumb, right? Captain."
The words strikes a nerve in Fry, and Harry's grin dries to a skull's dull grimace. "Can I get some help with this?" She struggles with the heavy battery. Harry thinks it's stupidity if lifting the weight isn't a requirement for her position.
A part of him doesn't want to leave the skiff, but another part can't stand to look at it. Salvation, but only a sure thing for two. How many could fit aboard? From the edgy nerves of the others at his laughter, it's not likely they've overcome gravity so much that everyone will be able to escape on that skiff.
Harry leaves the skiff's side anyway.
It's been a long time since he's felt squeamish about looting abandoned buildings. The presence of toys makes him feel slightly nauseous. This place has been abandoned much too long for it to smell anything like death, but Harry imagines that he still smells it, clinging to the back of his throat.
It's the squeak of a toy that catches his attention, reels him in like he thinks he'll see a friend inside the building. (he doesn't.) He doesn't speak until he sees what the boy was trying to do. "You cut yourself," he says, "and you'll bleed all over everything. Scalp wounds are the worst."
Jack looks singularly unimpressed with him, a slight curl to his lip. "Yeah right. You look like you haven't had a hair cut in years."
Harry self-consciously reaches up, but his hair wasn't unusually long. It hangs down into his eyes and around his ears, but it wasn't sticking to his neck. "Just give me that, before you hurt yourself," he says dryly.
Somehow 'give that to me' becomes him shearing off Jack's hair, but it's no big deal, honestly.
Harry thinks absently that maybe he should discourage Jack's fascination with Riddick, but at the same time, he finds it oddly interesting. There's none of Riddick's threat and danger or fang and claws when he turns his gaze on Jack. Harry doesn't remember being twelve-or-thirteen, but he remembers Hermione's crush on Lockhart and Ron's adoration of Krum, remembers his own children dressing up as heroes and villains and then some, refusing to answer to any other name.
At that, Harry thinks he won't be able to discourage Jack. He never managed with his own kids, and Jack doesn't respect him much more than he respects any of the other adults.
Stepping into the room after Jack, he realizes he isn't alone in this thought, the other adults' underwhelmed reaction to Jack's changed appearance. Harry himself isn't sure where the makeshift goggles came from, but adds points to Jack's overall score.
Proving that sometimes genes breed true, Paris' eyebrows shoot up and he mutters: "well, it's the winner of the lookalike contest."
Harry obligingly claps as he moves into the room behind the kid, ignoring that he's the only one, and gives a short, sharp wolf whistle of faux-admiration. Only because he's not dumb enough to ignore a predator does he note Riddick's slight jerk at the piercing noise; he may be the only one, and remembers that. Jack gives him a filthy look, unappreciative of the mockery.
"Don't encourage him," Johns says, not moved enough for rudeness but irritable enough to say it.
Harry smiles at the man, teeth behind his lips. "Which one?" He leans slightly forward, toward the law-man, watching him. (Johns is too practiced to be too obvious, but Harry knows strain when he sees it, knows what a bully looks like, what a predator looks like, and how to spot a man's weakness, and -)
Johns grimaces and sneers, not in any state of mind to play the kind of games that Harry liked to play. Not that Harry particularly wants to play with Johns. He's bored, but not enough to play in dirt.
(He thinks that unless a particularly good reason comes up, he will not cry to leave Johns behind. He'll never be the monster that Voldemort or his own blood once became, won't trip Johns to feed the tiger chasing them, but won't pause if the man stumbles on his own.
And, the hand in Johns' lap trembling, he will stumble.)
They drink fresh water decadently from crystal goblets while a little boy dies. 'Oh,' sighs Harry inside his skull. No one would be pulling straws for death or salvation; the planet would do it for them.
Riddick slides through the settlement, and Harry counts one-two-three-four and wonders which two of that four would show themselves as true survivors.
Harry listens at the cellar door, but there's nothing talking down there. He wonders if he caught one of the smaller ones, if he might be able to bend it to his will and make it speak. A beast was a beast was a beast. A thousand year old basilisk was no great conversationalist, but if he raised it himself ...?
It will probably sooner eat his hand than sit on it. Unless they were born by eggs, he'd never be able to tame one, listening to it's mother rip and consume and tear.
"And people call me a creepy fuck."
The words slither down Harry's spine like coils of muscle and scales. "That's because you are," he shoots back, not bothering to look.
Riddick's amusement sounds like so many mad-wild dogs growling and snapping at each other over rent meat and broken ribs, soft-slimy stinking entrails on sand. "Not the only one," he points out. Doesn't bother to try hiding, coming up to the cellar door opposite Harry and peering down. Head cocked to listen. His lips pull back, teeth sharp and white. "You admire them. A lot more than them."
It's a bad sign when Harry follows Riddick's words without confusion. "It's not admiration," he says, focuses all of his attention on the murderer across the cavernous hollow. It isn't admiration, but there is something simple and neat with animals, with predators. People are so much more convoluted and selfish.
Riddick makes a noise of enlightenment, like he's followed the thought, read it easily and plain on Harry's face. The dangerous shape of his mouth changes, becomes generous and sly like Harry's performed some kind of neat trick unexpectedly.
The sluggish, tired rhythm of Harry's heart picks up.
Harry shifts back from the hollow with a sigh, dropping his gaze and dusting off his pants. The Obol burns cold through cloth, and Harry thinks of it longingly. He's been wanting to crawl back into his tomb and sleep again, but he seems to have opened his window and gotten struck by a rock right in the middle of his head.
"Why are you bending my ear, Riddick?" Harry is tired of it; there is always someone whispering in his ear, saying this and that, trying to hold his hands and guide them as they pleased. "I'm not the captain. No one respects or will listen to me. You've nothing to gain."
"No?" The response comes immediate, sarcastically shocked. Riddick tsks or scoffs or some kind of bastard child of the two. "Ogilvie doesn't agree. Man looks at you like he's found religion." The words roll with mockery, none of Riddick's growling whispers here. "He was the one transporting you; must have a reason for that."
Harry wonders if this was a new observation, or if that had been the reason Riddick had cornered him inside of the storage compartment. "Probably has found religion," he says, but can't quite summon up the energy to be bitter about it. "He's in for disappointment."
"Unless he's worshiping a devil," Riddick agrees easily. Harry belatedly realizes that Riddick's on his feet and moving, and he wonders if he should, too: keep the hollow and it's useless mesh cage between them. He doesn't. "I've seen the way you look at them," Riddick drawls as he comes around the corner, approaching silently, unsmiling. "They're just dead men walking to you."
Harry feels hyper-aware of the few inches of space between them, the coiled tightness across Riddick's shoulders, his feet shoulder's width apart. Loose. Ready. Riddick has a smell like sweat, slightly more metallic, though Harry realizes he's never seen the man's skin wet. He wonders if Riddick's enhanced, if science sped forward that much (they're traveling the stars, it's not impossible), or if Riddick's something else entirely.
"No," Harry says, "not dead men." He watches the way Riddick's hands are slipping behind his hips, the set of his feet suddenly reading as something else, and doesn't bother swallowing back the short noise that bubbles in his throat in recognition. "But they are going to die. Everyone does. Whether it's here or in a dozen years, from overdose or old age or at the teeth of hungry things - that doesn't make a difference." He straightens, mimicking Riddick's pose right back at him, peering up at the dark goggles masking Riddick's eyes. "You're not scared of death, are you?"
The way Riddick's mouth splits open to show white teeth is part threat and part humor. "Scared of death," he echoes, looking away. His body is uncoiling, either set at ease by Harry's easy mimicry or because he's tired of trying to spook someone who doesn't flinch with any honest fear or respect. He leans forward, at the last second focusing back on Harry."I'm not scared of you," he says, the words hitting his face like a secret whisper between conspirators.
"No," Harry agrees easily, realizes that Riddick doesn't have the context for what he's talking about. He leans back, takes a casual step away with a polite smile. "I'm nothing to be frightened of." He shrugs casually, turning his back on the man. "Not much of a killer." He pauses by the door, glances back and feels gratified that Riddick hasn't pulled a disappearing trick, standing loose and ready like a soldier with no expression on his face. "Don't get eaten," he bids the man.
Riddick cocks his head, his mouth twisting into a sneer or a snarl. Harry thinks that he wasn't planning on it, but it doesn't hurt to say anyway. After all, the things in the darkness are worse conversationalists.
Fry is the one who discovers the secret behind the barren planet. She spins the orrery 'round and 'round until the planet is plunged into darkness and the planets swing with it as one.
Riddick grins and says "you're not afraid of the dark, are you?"
It's never the dark that people are scared of, but the things inside it. Harry isn't scared of those things either, but neither is he stupid. He might be the thing that Death isn't allowed to touch, but he doesn't fancy seeing what will happen if those things get their teeth into him either.
The sense of urgency increases. It's vital to get the skiff running, and they still need batteries for it. Everyone looks at Fry, and Harry figures she's the only one that knows how to pilot the thing. He touches the side of it, marveling at it, thinks it's fascinating, but he also turns to Fry and Johns who look at him like he needs to get lost.
"Are you sure you can pilot it?" He doesn't mean to instill doubt in her mind, but the question tastes reasonable on his tongue. "It's over twenty years old."
"Controls haven't changed that much," she says frankly, but there's something dark and daunted at the back of her eyes.
Harry thinks of his childhood, the last time he'd been on earth. He'd been aware enough of the Muggle world to know that as they launched into the millennium that technology had been leaping and bounding ahead. Wonders what happened that they only got this far while he slept.
He leaves to let Johns whisper in her ear and hold her hands and guide them. Harry's a survivor, and no amount of Johns ripping their group apart from the inside will hurt his chances. He'll close his own hands around the man's neck before he'll fall behind himself.
If they're lucky, the eclipse won't occur until they're well off the planet, but Harry naps and sips water constantly just in case they have to do without. Zeke shows him how to replenish the rebreathers, although they've grown accustomed to the thin air already.
Harry chuckles to the sound of the alarmed shouting of the boys. He hadn't thought they'd get lucky, but he'd dreamed.
Harry assumes Riddick jumps onto the Sandcat for the same reason that Harry himself had scrambled on board. It does no good to stay with the skiff if no one manages to get back with the batteries. He supposes the children come along because leaving them behind, alone, is unthinkable.
Shazza drives like a bat out of hell and Harry appreciates that, although he can already tell that they'll never make it there and back at the rate that the ringed planet is moving. (The ringed planet or their own, either way the result is the same.) He thinks that its pathetic that the original settlers never thought to store even a little energy from the suns, but they hadn't even bothered with lights in their own buildings.
Night is falling, and there are only so many hands that can be at the batteries. They pass them out of the ship in a line, like a water brigade or sandbaggers, out and into the Sandcat. The children are too weak to handle the weight and stay with the car with Shazza. They work quickly.
They don't work quickly enough.
The rings of the planet pass in front of their last remaining sun, and everyone slows in their tracks as if realizing what Harry already knew. The ever hungry things beneath the dirt begin to call and sing, colonies stirring. As the solar engine slows it's spin, Harry looks over.
"Can the ship's batteries power the Sandcat?"
"No," Shazza replies numbly. "They'll burn out the engine."
Harry figures that's fine. Even if they could, the Sandcat has no roof or lights to drive the beasts back. The calls rise in frequency, and Harry turns to the horizon where the mud spires stick into the sky. It's already growing incredibly dark, but he can see the haze of the flocks, rising up.
"How many are there?" Johns acts like the answer matters. More than five was already too many for their group. Riddick pays him no mind, and Harry is too far distant to hear anything he might have said.
Ogilvie is yelling at them to 'flee'. Only half of them listen, but they grab at the others, urging them. Harry lingers, Riddick in the corner of his eye, the batteries in the other. They came all this way because they need them for the ship, and Harry is loathed to leave them behind.
But when Riddick moves, Harry knows better than to stay behind; the man's got better survival instincts than Harry himself, though Harry bets that fortune loves him more.
Harry knows about running and dodging and rolling on the ground, but when Shazza picks herself up too soon, Harry has to give chase (Okay, maybe he still has a 'saving people' thing). He barely shoves her down ahead of himself, dives after her and snags a bit of debris to shield them with. Cuts burst open on his neck and cheek, his clothing tugged before he can even feel the injury, and the tiny monsters slam with loud thumps against the metal.
Shazza screams for her husband, and Harry looks forward to see that no one had wrestled the man back, that he had run forward to help his wife, into the open. Practically straight into the monsters' teeth.
Harry grabs for her, but the heavy debris trips him up and she slips out of his grasp, running and screaming at the monsters devouring her husband before her eyes. They die screaming, the ravenous things taking their bodies with them into the sky. They're like some bastard lovechild of Dementors and piranhas, Harry thinks.
The flock swirls away. After a moment, the debris is lifted from Harry's still form, and he glances up to see Riddick, standing casual and unconcerned. The man grabs him by the bicep, tugging him up without trouble and steering him toward the ship where the others are slowly filing in.
Riddick is coaxed to peel away his goggles by the songs of hungry things, and peers into the darkness and smiles and speaks words made of burnt velvet over broken glass. Fry seems nervous and scared as she retreats into the cargo compartment, and Riddick seems to remember that he's not the same kind of thing as the creatures outside and he needs to come in. He turns.
Its almost pitch black already, and Harry can barely see the shape of Riddick's face, but he sees his eyes just fine. They're ghost's eyes, silvery bright like they've got their own light, or reflect every scrap that even in this lightless world, the stars are bright enough.
"You were made for this," Harry observes aloud, thinking of the monsters and the darkness and the way Riddick's lips pull back from his teeth like a Grim, or a wolf or lion or something even worse and alien. His heart is beating loud and fast in his chest.
Riddick says nothing, moving past him, and Harry thinks that he's somehow insulted the man but he doesn't know how. Its so obvious that Riddick is in his element now, dangerous and dark, that this will bring out the best of him.
He moves to join them, and shuts the door behind.
They're stuck a tin can with the monsters themselves. They sound like whales and dolphins as they sing their eyesight to life. Harry wonders if they have blubber or ears to hear the noises bounce back, or something else new and exciting.
Poor Ogilvie has a breakdown, and he clings to Harry like a child, saying "you're Harry Potter, you've got to save us, you've got to - what do we do?"
"Like I'm supposed to know what to do with space monsters?" His voice is dry and crackling in the dark, torches of fire and electricity as the others watch. "Point me at a tyrant and I will crush his government. I'm as vulnerable to ravenous beasts as any." He pushes the man away, listening to the things outside skitter around.
They lose another child to the hungry things. Harry wonders what kind of science allows these things life, or if they're more like he himself. It's not just sun's light that hurts them, but all light. He might have a better idea if he had any magic to speak of at the moment.
Johns wants to stay in the ship. Fry derides him, and Harry says "maybe back at the settlement. But we've no more water, and the rations ran out days ago."
("Seventy-nine kilos" Johns says and Harry thinks about desperate, grim stories of stranded survivors.)
The torch that lights them burns hot, and Harry watches water drip from skin, wasted. He doesn't expect Fry to suddenly focus on him, almost a double take. She says "your face."
"My face what," Harry echoes flatly, still and watching. Her eyes dart back and forth over his skin, pale eyes thin slivers in the darkness despite the burning torch.
She reaches out, and though Harry's never gotten used to being touched, no matter how many beds he'd climbed into, he doesn't flinch from such a telegraphed move. Her fingers smear over his cheek and jaw, tentatively, then a broad swipe.
Wonderingly, she says, "there's blood but no wound."
Harry reaches up and gently pushes her hand away. "I heal fast," he says, doesn't want to elaborate.
"That's a bit of a exaggeration," Johns says sharply, welcoming the chance to bare his teeth at someone else. "You were hurt not even an hour ago."
He can't help it, because Johns is a bully and a dissenter, and so the look he turns on the man is a threat. "I've had a lot of practice," he says flatly.
"Oh, well, if only that was something that could be learned," the man says, either too high or crashing too fast to know when he should keep his mouth shut.
Harry might trip the bastard after all, if it keeps those monsters off their backs for a moment. He reached up and scrubs the rest of the dried blood off his face and the back of his neck. The spots are still a little tender, and he thinks they must still be bright red and glossy, but that should fade in a few days.
Fry takes control of the situation, volunteers Riddick to be their Rudolph, guiding the way through the perpetual, unrelenting night. Harry knows that venturing forth is the only way the others are going to get out of here alive. He could probably climb back into his tomb, put the Obol on his tongue and sleep through the eclipse, but he's not eager to be stranded here until some other unfortunate soul comes by and fishes the Obol out.
Harry has underestimated himself again. He might be drained from supporting his own existence in stasis for centuries, but he still has enough to quickly heal his wounds, and when they venture outside, Harry doesn't find himself quite as blind as he should be. It's obviously not as good as Riddick's sight - it's not sight at all, but he's strangely aware of each of the survivors around him, and the darkness, and the things beyond the light.
Whatever reserves he should be building back by being released from the Obol are being used immediately. From a very young age, Harry had begun learning about survival, and with years of practice he's only gotten better at it.
They make a sled of light and go into the darkness. Harry and Johns put their back into pulling the weight forward, following the pace that Riddick's set with his light jog.
Things are going much better than Harry is accustomed to, which was of course when things go wrong. Harry hears the clink of something hitting the ground, glances back enough to note that it's not essential, looks back forward.
Jack's saying "wait" and then before Harry can stagger to a stop, Jack is scrambling beyond the light.
Hungry things brush against Harry's awareness, and he's closer, so he's diving on the child and looping him in Harry's own harness of light. He hears Fry screaming behind him, but the things are excited, driven mad somehow, swooping down at them as close as they dare, close enough for their skin to sizzle.
Harry listens to them scream and chant the usual things, hunger and blood and rip and tear. They sound like Jack's hurt but Harry can't think of how it's true. He has to get the boy back to the sled -
And the lights die out.
Ogilvie had screamed for Harry as he died.
There is an unexpected pang at the thought. Harry hadn't been greatly impressed by his descendant, hadn't had interest in getting to know the man. He'd been past the age of which he should have needed Harry. But the death still hurts in some odd and sideways manner. Harry isn't sure if it's guilt or regret, but neither will keep him alive and he drags Jack back toward the sled, following the strange space-sense and his own nose.
His hands find a bottle, feeling someone close by, and the cocktail flares to fiery life, illuminating Johns' face before him. Johns hesitates barely a moment, snapping his flare open so that it bursts into green light. He stares at Harry, and then down at the bottle, and back.
Everything is stained the wrong color, and for the first time in two lifetimes, Harry thinks: avada kedavra green. He's faced too many enemies to this color to look away, but the others don't seem to notice, gathering forward to snatch at the box of cocktails and flares.
Harry pushes the cocktail into Jack's hand, watching the others light their own, and doesn't take one for himself. Both of his hands need to be free if he's going to make it through this alive.
He thinks they've circled but it takes the others a bit to catch on, Johns as high as he is when he's in the center of the circle and should have noticed faster. Riddick says 'she's hurt' and he doesn't mean Fry.
Jack does an admirable job of pretending, Harry thinks, watching a confident spine and wide-set elbows bend and draw in, how the child opens eyes wide and big and pitches the voice higher, enough to be excused by fear, flinching from Fry's exclamation and dropping to crouch at the ground. No one here is a parent, the closest being Imam. Jack is voicing fears about being left to the dark and eaten for something he (she) can't help.
You little liar, Harry thinks, an odd kind of fondness in his chest. He'd had stupid and honest kids, but he's also had sly little lying assholes. Jack is neither stupid, nor honest.
Fry tries to tell them they're going back to the ship. Johns derides her, and this time, Harry's forced to agree with him. "Still no food or water," he says. "And if they're tracking Jack, that's just waving a red flag. They won't give up easily."
It must make Johns feel like he has something to prove. He and Fry get into it, Johns saying 'we're just ghosts to you, expendable'. Fry goes for him, he knocks her to the ground. He feels triumphant. It shows on his face.
At least Fry feels regret, doesn't deny it for all her attempts to silence the man.
Harry doesn't have the patience to hold her hand, but he can pull her up by her bicep and make her stand on her feet. She looks around at him in surprise, giving him the kind of look she must have given Johns and Riddick because it makes him want to tell her to stand on her own and not look back.
He doesn't (lovely little two seater).
Imam takes up the lead on the sled in Johns place, since the man has gone ahead, high off drugs and shoving a woman to the ground. The others crowd around them, creating a small shield of light. Smaller and smaller, Harry thinks. Ogilvie's blood all over the ground is more attractive than Jack, luckily, because Harry has serious doubts about how well their cocktails would hold up against the beasts.
Johns and Riddick talk before them. Jack sounds nervous, asking after it, and Imam tries to sound confident, but the man obviously doesn't like it either. Riddick's shoulders and knees bend casual, Harry thinks - too casual, as is his glance backwards; when Fry tells them to hang back, 'just a little more space', Harry remembers 'how much do you weigh, Johns'.
He's never been as principled as some had wished him to be. Riddick's glance is like a signal, and he thinks that maybe whatever machinations are occurring are working out for the better.
(Johns falls bloodily.)
Riddick says 'don't cry' and Imam wants them to pray. Harry's already joined him once or twice, silent in words and thoughts as the man grieved for his own acolytes and the other fallen. For once, his thoughts are not silent, feet folded beneath him and palms pressed together.
He gives thanks that Johns' flesh has fed the beasts and given them some relief. It's the only thing Johns has done for them, but it took his life and Harry thanks it all the same.
"I'll take the cells," Riddick tells them as they get ready to move. Harry observes the sharp look Fry gives him, though she does not argue against it.
"I'll help," Harry says mildly, and smiles when Riddick looks at him. He's not yet pulled his goggles down, and it's a wild thing's eyes that glitter at him in the dark. Harry spreads his arms wide, because while he's learned to be a predator, it's a prey's language that comes easiest to his muscles. "I haven't got a light, and it's not like I can see," he says honestly, "but I can still pull."
Riddick tilts his head, watching him coolly. He looks stupidly handsome, coiled body and silvered eyes and that impersonal measuring look.
But he doesn't argue against Harry picking up his lead.
It's a mad dash and things get hectic, not that Harry thought they wouldn't when they enter a place Riddick himself calls 'Death Row'. Riddick snarls at him to 'clear the way' and while the others are hard at work, Harry is the only one with both hands free.
He ignores the others struggling with the beast that's grabbed the last boy, watching Riddick drag the cells into darkness. Jack passes him, holding the torch, calling out to him.
Harry's taller and has no light and so throws himself back when the hungry things grow eager. But sly little liar or not, when one of the monsters pins Jack under bone, Harry can't stand by. Jack is a child, and it's different from the boys. The boys had been Imam's. No one has claimed Jack, though Jack has tried and tried to be claimed.
It's a pretty stupid reason to tackle a monster with razored fangs, but Harry's done stupider things for worse reasons.
It's raining and dark and Harry is very alone.
Tackling the monster had been a very stupid idea. Their body mass was smaller than a human, but he'd underestimated how strong it'd be from hauling around it's massive bony head, even flying with it. He'd been more or less safe, wrapped around it's body, out of range of it's snapping jaws and claws. The wide, bony protrusions on either side of it's skull had provided him with a firm handhold.
He'd managed to wrestle it away from Jack, although maybe it was more that he distracted it, and it tried to brush him off on the canyon walls was more correct. It had taken time, and a lot of violent wrenching before he'd managed to finally feel resistance pop with a liquid crack, and the thing had dropped and skidded to a stop on the ground.
And it's raining and Harry can't tell if his eyes are opened or closed and he's still new to this odd magic-sense that must be a little like echolocation (maybe he's pulsing gently with magic, his brain reading the shape of the land from that).
He hugs the side of a bone and listens to the night. Where it's noisiest is Death Row, and though he's not certain which direction is the crash and which is the settlement, he's willing to try.
It feels like Harry spends hours in the darkness. More than that, maybe. Feels like weeks or months before he suddenly realizes he's seeing something in the darkness. However long it he'd stumbled around in the dark, blind and ducking and not breathing as the ravenous things rip into each other and hunt, it was enough that the skiff is illuminated and the batteries are being wired in.
Riddick's fingers twist around them, and he pauses, straightening slowly. He watches Harry slog out of the darkness, the downpour having long drenched him to the bone, his hair plastered around his face and bandages swollen.
"You," Riddick says neutrally, tilts his head, eyes shining. His mouth curves with generous reluctance. "Still alive after all."
"I'm notoriously hard to kill," Harry admits. It's his old dueler instincts that stop him a good fifteen feet away from Riddick (far enough he might dodge or shield himself, close enough that spells won't hit onlookers. Other wizards preferred twenty to thirty, and the advantage has saved him many times). He hasn't missed the fact that Riddick stands here alone, that there's no sound of other humans anywhere near.
"Well," Riddick says, glancing over his shoulder, lips peeling back from white teeth. "There are two seats."
Rain dribbles off his hair, from the ends of his lashes, and Harry feels his own mouth twist in something only superficially a smile. "You kill them yourself, Riddick? Or did you just stand by and let the creatures do your dirty work?"
His body coils in silent threat, ghost's eyes flickering. "Does it matter?" He's pretending levity, amusement, but even a man like him can't appreciate the accusations and suspicions.
Harry stares at him for a long moment, rusty memories clicking against each other. "Riddick," he says and only that, searching the man's face. He meets Riddick's ghost's eyes without flinching (they're hardly the worst thing he's ever seen, don't even rank in the top twenty-five), until finally the man's sharp mockery of a smile fades. Only then does Harry blink against the rainwater in his eyes, peering up at him. "Are they even dead?"
Riddick's mouth is a flat, tense line. He steps forward slowly, grabbing at the hydraulic that controls the bay door, moving like he's made of twisted metal and broken glass and will explode shrapnel into Harry's chest and slice his heart in twain. "Don't look at me like that," he says darkly, too dangerous to let his hand twitch at his side, but Harry thinks he's seconds away from taking a shiv to his throat.
"Like what," Harry says flatly, not really asking. "Like under all your threats and convictions and everything else, you might be a real boy?" He's tired of shouting, and doesn't like having his back so close to the shadows, so he steps forward, slow and cautious.
"A real boy," Riddick echos, even as he coils tighter the closer Harry gets. His laugh is half contempt, half snarl. "Who the fuck do you think you are?"
Harry shrugs casually. The fight occurring here only peripherally involves him; he's seen enough fights like these that it's clear and does not mind being a catalyst. "The man that gave Ogilvie religion," he says softly, cocking his head. "Imagine what I could do for you."
He's handsome even now, expression twisted and fighting a war inside himself. "I've had enough religion," he says, but his jaw is clenched firm like a man on his last leg, hobbling along and already knowing that the fight is lost.
"Wasn't what I was offering to you," he says easily. He's standing at the bottom of the door now, sharply aware that he's likely half of Riddick's weight and at least a head shorter. "Are they dead?"
It sounds like someone has given Riddick a gut wound, the noise he makes as he looks away, unwilling or unable to meet Harry's eyes anymore. "No," he says, the metaphorical spurt of blood as a shiv pulls free from the warmth of an artery.
Harry doesn't feel any sort of special relief at the knowledge. It might actually be a burden, and he breathes shallowly as he considers both Riddick and himself. "You know we can't leave them," he says finally.
"Like hell we can't," the man snaps, eyes flashing up and his glare hot; he won't stay defeated for longer than that one flash of vulnerability. "Get in so I can shut this fucking door and get us out of here."
"No." Riddick lurches forward, a threat engineered to make Harry flinch. Harry doesn't and Riddick no longer seems to know how to deal with him. "No," he says again, quieter but more sternly. "You know it yourself there's a weight limit on this thing."
Real boys feel fear, and slaves to their instincts forget how to control them. Harry knows that Riddick means it, will absolutely start up the skiff and fly away from this planet and leave the others to die from beasts or starvation or both. But Harry's watching a war play out in front of him, thinks that the real boy under the animal might be someone admirable if only given a fighting chance. If Jack dies now from Riddick's lack of action, it'll probably be a blow from which that man won't recover.
Harry turns his face away in exasperation, casting about the darkness like something will appear to make Riddick stop being such a self-destructive idiot. Though maybe he doesn't have room to speak. "I weigh half a man," he points out bluntly; there's no way Riddick could have missed it. "We have room for a twelve year old child."
"It was suicide with five people," Riddick says, voice rising as he gestures into the darkness. Harry's slightly gratified he's no longer growling and snapping, even if it took such desperate measures to forcibly pull the man into control of the beast. Then, just as quickly, he's shifting tactics. "And the other two?" He leans into Harry's space, and it's enough that Harry knows he's warm and dry instead of cold and wet. "The priest and our 'captain'? Two people and the kid, that's the limit."
"Imam will let us go," Harry parries easily. "As for Fry -"
As for Fry, Harry has no answer. She tried to kill them all to save herself at the beginning of this disaster, but Harry doesn't think that justifies a shiv in her back or tripping her to the beasts. And he does not know if the woman will give in easily.
He thinks, ideally, that it would be Fry and Imam and Jack leaving the planet on the skiff.
"Not so easy, is it," Riddick taunts, a cruel curl to his lips and unforgiving white teeth bared. "What are you going to choose, Potter? Woman and child and holy man? Or yourself?"
It's stupid, because there's no question and no doubt. At the moment of salvation, if it comes down between Harry or someone else, he'll choose them nearly every time. The stakes aren't even that high, he thinks; there's still a fairly good chance he can find some place to hide, even if he has to sleep a million years before someone else finds him.
He doesn't have time to answer because there is something splashing at a unsteady run, and both of them look to the side as Fry, panting heavily, staggers to a stop at the side of the ship. She stares at them, exhausted and nearly delirious, a glowing bottle in her hand.
"Well," Harry says, barely more than a whisper as he looks up at Riddick's face, which is so neutral Harry can only begin to guess how little the man welcomed the interruption. "I know one thing, luv, I'm sticking with you."
Riddick looks back at him with that expression that says he doesn't know what to do with him, and then Fry begins to talk.
Harry's done most of her work for her, but Fry gives it a good show, too. She still flinches and her bravado doesn't hold up well against Riddick, but Harry says nothing. He's pushed the man almost beyond endurance and knows better than to shove any harder.
Finding light for the three of them was a little harder than at the crash site, but then they're dashing through dark and downpour, slipping on mud and ducking.
Apparently Riddick had stashed the others in a cave and closed them in (like Lazarus, or a fucking squirrel with nuts for the winter). The trek back is more treacherous, not the least of which because they've got wounded. But they still might - they still might -
Harry realizes quicker than the others that they've lost their seeing eye dog. He says nothing as he comes to a halt, straining his ears, straining his eyes against the dark, vague impressions of his surroundings throbbing like he's once of the ravenous things.
He'd meant what he said. If the woman, child, and holy man make it off alive, then they do. Harry will stay behind if he must, but he's not leaving without Riddick. Not after he's dragged the man up from where the beast had buried him.
He comes upon the others at the skiff, who startle badly at his sudden appearance, and curses, ignoring Fry's demand as he turns back. Riddick was still somewhere out there, probably took some path that Harry had missed in the dark.
"Come on," Imam tells them.
Harry turns, poisonous with his teeth bared, says "he came back for you."
Imam's face tightens.
"Harry's right," Fry says, looking around like she can't stand looking at anyone. "We can't leave without him."
"Jack, get on," he tells the girl, then looks at the two of them. Finally focuses on Fry, can't hardly breathe. "Fry," he says, "what, exactly, is the weight limit on that skiff?"
Fry looks at him, mouth opening and shutting, eyes fluttering as she tries to change gears. "Half a ton," she says.
Half a ton ...?
"You're sure," he says flatly.
She shakes her head and squints at him, head tilting. Slowly, like she's just catching on, she says, "there's only two seats, but this skiff was meant to transport supplies."
Harry stares back. "Son of a bitch," he says.
Then Riddick screams in the darkness.
Harry's head snaps around, and he knows he won't be able to resist going, simply because he's already promised Riddick that he wouldn't be alone. Fry starts to charge into the darkness and Harry grabs her around her stomach with one arm, grabbing her bottle of light in the other.
"Let go," she screams at him, struggling.
"Stay here and guard Jack," Harry shouts, shoving her back toward the skiff. He looks to Imam, who'd wanted to leave fifteen minutes ago, and says, "give me ten minutes. If neither Riddick or I come back by that time - leave."
He doesn't give them time to argue, bolting into the darkness in the last direction he'd heard the screams.
The only thing Riddick's missing is burns, and then he could be a survivor of a dragon mauling. He stinks of metal and the pungent animal stench of the ravenous things' blue blood. Harry shushes him, though Riddick is barely making any noise as he struggles against his own failing body, somehow missing Harry with the shiv grabbed tight in one hand.
Harry can barely make out enough of his wounds with the weak blue light to see red blood. "Can you stand," he says, but there's no urgency, because they're not going to make it back in time with Riddick in this shape.
Riddick tries though, still not making any noise other than his own harsh and heaving breath, shaking like he's in shock. He tries so Harry grabs at him, listening to the rain because if they'd hunted Jack then Riddick's worse than a red flag. He's chum in the water, rotted blood and fish guts for the sharks.
Harry hears the wings.
Shoving Riddick back onto the muddy ground, he yanks at his bandages until his wand falls out. He scrambles for it, pressing his body down over Riddick who is grappling but at least not struggling against him. Harry hopes that he's covering the man's face at least a little as he thrusts his wand up to the sky.
He hasn't had to speak the words in a long time, but with his reserves so low he can't take the chance. He gathers everything, his will, his power; he goes deaf and blind to the world, his body aching and weak and cold. Opening his mouth, he bellows "lumos maxima."
Light explodes from the tip of his wand. There's shrieking, and Harry's eyes are burning, and his vision bleeds white. His ears ring and his thoughts fluff to fine spun floss, light and meaningless and empty as his wobbling muscles heat and fail like butter in a skillet.
At least, candy floss collapses, melting into a sticky pastel slop, I won't be awake when they eat me.
-hungry- it shrieks, singing, a flutter of leathery wings and the blind beast lunges out of the darkness, teeth extended like a shark's -
Harry springs awake, twisting and rolling across the floor, back slamming to the nearest wall, grip sweaty but definitely not weak around his wand. A second later he sees the inside of the skiff's bay, and Fry herself startling awake from the noise he'd made. She looks about the bay, dazed, sees him wide awake, and her pale eyes flutter back closed. Sleep was soon back upon her.
There is movement from the pilot's seat, and Harry's eyes jerk ahead. Riddick's been seen to, his pants leg savaged and the limb itself wrapped in white cloth. Harry stares at it in aimless shock, wondering why there haven't been any better advancements in healing since the twentieth goddamned century. He misses potions with a pang, doesn't know if he'll ever be able to find ingredients for them or even remember how to brew them.
The arm slung over the edge of the co-pilot's seat suggests that Jack's strapped in there, and fast asleep. Behind the kid's seat, Imam rests against the wall, his hand tight around a string of beads. Harry can't tell if he's sleeping or praying, doesn't care as Riddick limps back toward him.
Leaning against the wall of the bay, the man practically leers down at him. Harry doesn't appreciate it, thinks the man should know better than to leave a wound so nearby.
"Now," Riddick says softly, so quiet that Harry can barely hear him even though he can feel the heat of the man's body, "what makes me so different from Ogilvie that you let him die but for me you came running?"
Harry darts a look at the others, but they don't stir, either oblivious or willing to pretend privacy in this tiny skiff with none. He looks up, wonders if it's comfort or convenience that Riddick still hasn't put on his goggles. "You didn't expect me to," he says, not untruthfully.
His leer sours briefly. "Oh, come on," he scoffs. "It wasn't that."
"What do you want from me, Riddick?" Harry's tired, can barely believe they've all made it off that hellhole alive. Just woke from a nightmare and doesn't have the strength to play any kind of game with Riddick, the man's or his own. "I was thinking with the wrong head?"
Riddick's expression smoothed into wry shock, brow arching high and mouth twisting. "Well." He's not embarrassed, he's a convict, been in all kinds of prisons, but Harry's somehow surprised him.
"Oh, shut up," Harry says, feeling awkward and wry himself, moving his foot to kick Riddick's uninjured foot. Relief bubbles in his chest like hysteria and his shoulders and chest shake with breathless chuckles. The wand slides in his sweaty grip, and he reaches over to adjust his bandages so he can slip it safely away.
Riddick extends his hand, and after a moment, Harry takes it and lets the man help him to his feet. He wobbles slightly, and Riddick doesn't let go, hand tight and unrelenting around his forearm. He's really, really warm.
Harry isn't sure if he leans forward or Riddick does, or if they're leaning into each other or one of them is pulling. Riddick says, quiet and dangerous against his temple, above his ear "I don't share well."
It sounds sweet and sinister like parseltongue. Riddick doesn't have a lot of experience with normal flirting or dating or any such thing, Harry thinks, but that's okay because that always tastes faintly like what's easy and lies.
Harry hums his acknowledgment, leans back slightly so that he can cock his head and catch Riddick's silvery ghost's eyes. "I don't let go very well," he says plainly. "Last chance to change your mind."
"Oh, no, no, no," Riddick chides him smugly. "You're much too interesting to let go." His hand reinforces the words, almost tight enough to hurt, but not crossing that line quite yet.
They're going to crash and burn just like the ship that cursed them to the hellhole they've left behind, Harry thinks. Riddick has him crowded against the wall of the bay so close that if either of them breathe too deeply, they'll touch. There's probably a good reason he's got such a tight leash on himself, but Harry's gaze drops down to that generous, snarling mouth all the same. It twitches at the corner, not unpleasantly, but Riddick shifts back just a hair, his hand loosening and letting him free.
Whether Riddick is still too raw from his own battle with himself or is otherwise just tired or simply has some strange thread of propriety that makes their pretend privacy insufficient doesn't really matter. Harry accepts the boundary and does not push, though he's slower to release his grip. Riddick rests his shoulder to the wall, letting Harry shift to the side and slip by.
He's drawn to the window in the cockpit, all the stars and suns and planets outside. He's never been fond of wide spaces, but the sucking vacuum of space is black enough that it doesn't seem threatening. He glances down at the thin shape of Jack, sprawling over the co-pilot's chair and fast asleep, and then at the buttons and levers of the skiff.
Holding tightly to the back of the captain's chair, he thinks this is his newest lifetime, and he has a reason to stay and fight.
Glances over his shoulder, and with a grin says "teach me to fly."