Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: "So does Mr. Not-Tame Lion have a name, then?" Buffy asks. "Or should I just keep calling you that?" 1200 words
Spoilers: Post-series for B:tVS; post-Pitch Black but pre-TCOR for the Riddick-verse
Notes: Challenge fic; a long-belated following up on the Primitive Side drabble sequence (Beautiful, Instinctual, Habitual) in honor of the new Riddick movie (more on that later).
The day the Slayer finally reclaims her name doesn't start any differently from any other in her new, starlit existence. She simply pauses one day, curled around the bowl of porridge her rescuer had slid onto the table in front of her, fingertips dripping with milky grain and organic sweetener- then blinks, staring in wonder at her blunt, squared-off fingernails.
He'd trimmed them, she recalls suddenly: heavy, callused hands framing hers, the warmth of his thighs bracketing her body as he pulled her in close to his solid, muscular chest, a murmur of calming words breathed against her ear. She shivers, reaching up to touch her hair- then stops herself, switching hands to carefully thread clean fingers through surprisingly smooth strands.
Short, but not too short, she registers, just long enough to curl slightly against the angle of her jaw. A business-like cut, up out of her eyes, out of the way, but not a brutal one; he has at least some appreciation of beauty, this mystery man who smiles when she strikes at him but cares for her with a ruthlessly gentle touch.
He can match her every move for move... but hasn't pressed her for more. She remembers that, too, and it sends another shock of awareness up her spine, loosing a little more of the chains that have bound her so snugly to the darkness that kept her alive over her long centuries of drowsing imprisonment. She's known men before, even loved them, that she wouldn't have trusted to be so chary of her vulnerability, she thinks; as sure as her name is Buffy Summers...
"Oh," she says softly, straightening in her seat and lowering the hand from her hair to pick at her clothes. They're functional: leather and black cotton, clean except for the scent of honest sweat, and definitely tailored for a slight woman's frame. Her boots even fit; she has no idea where he found those, but he must have... he must have...
Dizziness breaks over her in a wave. How long has she been here on this shuttle, her world expanded to fit its bluntly curving, unlovely metal walls? And who is he, this man of the future who's somehow managed to soothe her primitive Slayer side so thoroughly?
"Hey," a voice like honey poured over gravel rumbles at her side, and she startles again, looking up into the warm, watchful expression of her benefactor. "You all right?" He takes her sticky hand in one of his large, capable paws, then turns it over and reaches for the cloth on the table to wipe her fingers clean.
"I- don't know," she replies blankly, still too dazed to be anything but honest. The dreams, the visions that have eaten her every waking moment for almost as long as she can remember, are all still there behind her eyes: the living dead men who swallow whole star systems for breakfast and may yet one day swallow her as well. But now there's a layer of distance between those lurid images and her awareness of the waking world, anchored by the atavistic presence at her side. "How long have I- how long?"
Dark eyebrows arch up over silvery-shine eyes in the dimness of the cabin- a dimness she hadn't even noticed until now, because it hampers her vision no more than it does his. Then something about her words registers, and a wide, predatory grin breaks over his face, all raw male satisfaction.
"Long enough," he says, his grip tightening on her hand as his tone shifts from cautious comfort to pure challenge. "Been wondering if you had a mind to match that body. Was starting to think you were more jungle cat than woman, and I don't have much use on this boat for a housepet."
Buffy flexes her hand in his grip, feeling the curl of waking heat at the base of her spine, then tugs it briskly free. Her body already seems to trust him- but it would be as much a mistake to bare her throat to him as it would have been to approach a pre-chipped Spike so guilelessly, she thinks.
More names are coming back to her the longer she sits there; more grounding memories, more certainties about who she is and why she's still alive. She's not the Sunnydale golden girl of her youth any more- but enough of that girl remains to pull up one corner of Buffy's mouth in an answering smirk.
"Oh, I don't know," she snarks. "Like recognizes like, after all; you're pretty much an overgrown pussy cat yourself."
His grin widens toothily, but he seems more amused than angered. "So long as you don't make the mistake of thinking I'm any kind of tame lion," he cautious her.
Buffy takes that with the weight it deserves: at face value, and grins back. "So does Mr. Not-Tame Lion have a name, then?" she asks. "Or should I just keep calling you that?"
"Riddick," he replies. "Richard B., but you can just call me Riddick."
"Nice to meet you, Riddick; I'm Buffy." Deliberately, making a point of it, she holds out the hand he'd just cleaned.
Riddick laughs, a deep, self-satisfied sound, and takes it. "I know. With a name like that- no wonder there were warning signs all over your cryotube. Gotta watch out for those damn blondes."
Old instincts and new flare up, clamoring for attention; Buffy attempts to sort them for a second, then grins more sharply and gives in to impulse, pulling on her trapped hand hard enough to lever him up and over onto his back on the table with a loud clang. "There might have been a little more to it than that."
Riddick laughs again, all adrenaline and dark delight that sends shivers up her nerves. "Good," he says, then pulls back, rolling off the far side of the table to drag her with him until they thump solidly to the floor. "Good," he repeats, shifting his dense weight where he's pinned her beneath him. "Life gets boring without any challenge."
Buffy knows she ought to be asking about the pale skinned men from her dreams, now that she has all her words back: the cold-hearted devourers of worlds who pillage and destroy and leave only ashes in their wake. That's her duty, her purpose for being here, after all; the reason she'd been on that cryoship in the first place, sent to the future like a bullet aimed to strike whatever apocalypse had shrouded every Seen future leaping outward from the Earth's surface. But her pulse is beating wildly in her throat, the musk of Riddick's scent is heavy in her nostrils, and her skin is tingling with the rush of being alive: the good old H and H's too close to the surface to ignore.
After they took her, after they drugged her and packed her on that ship, after everyone else moved on- she's still alive. And so's this Riddick: moreso than anyone else she can remember having met.
She breathes him in again- then sinks her teeth into his lower lip.
It would be a shame to let such a perfect opportunity go to waste.