He never asks why. But, then, he wouldn't. Riddick knows secrets and running from the past and everything. He's like the king of secrets and leaving it all in the past. So he's never asked and I know he never will. So I feel safe.
He didn't ask me why, so I never ask him anything. I mean, I keep on him about the eyes, because I want a pair, but I don't ask him stuff. Anything. Who he killed, where we're going, what we're going to do now. Or what I'm allowed to do.
Like, I never asked if I could sleep with him. I just did. I couldn't sleep by myself, not even in that one room that we all shared as we made our way to New Mecca. I was too scared. I keep seeing Shazza getting torn apart by those things, and hearing Paris be eaten. I hear screams and cries and saw things that I hadn't even seen.
Like Fry dying.
So, I couldn't sleep by myself. When Riddick stretched out on the floor, beautiful eyes closed, facing the wall, I curled up next to him, my back pressed against his. I could feel his blood pulsing under his skin, feel the heat rising from his body, smell the sweaty, pungent scent of a man. It was a smell that had tortured me all my life, the smell of men. But, on Riddick, it didn't bother me. Because I knew Riddick wouldn't...
I kicked him the first time of the night. Kicked and hit and cried out and smashed him in the face. Finally, he grabbed me, pulled me underneath him, and then pushed me so I was facing the wall. Then, he turned around, pressed his back against mine and said, "Go to sleep, Jack," in that gravelly, hyper-masculine voice of his.
Strange that I feel safer with him than I would have with Fry. Even though, after that first night, I was pretty sure that the monsters hadn't gotten Fry. That Riddick had.
I didn't say anything, though. Because, even though I liked Fry, she just would have tried to, like, track down my parents or find someone for me to live with. Turn me over to the authorities. And I didn't want that. She would have asked questions that I don't want to answer. So it's better that she's gone. Better that Riddick killed her.
Four days off the planet, we're picked up by a merchant ship. Not mercs, thank God. None of them have any idea who Riddick is, and he keeps his goggles on all the time, saying that they got hurt on the planet. We tell them what happened, and they get the coordinates so they can put out a warning. Then, they say that they can take us to Rigel for one-fifty each.
Imam agrees to pay the fee for all of us. I don't have any money, and I don't know about Riddick. But Imam does, and he was more than willing to help us survivors.
I don't tell them I'm a girl. Imam makes some noises about that, but Riddick gives him a look, so he doesn't say anything.
And I keep sleeping with Riddick. Only now we're sleeping in a bed, and it's a lot more comfortable. Riddick keeps me against the wall, safe, and he showers so some of the man smell subsides.
But there are a lot of other men on the ship, so I stick to Riddick like glue.
"Teach me how to fight," I tell him six days off the planet.
Imam objects, says that it's dangerous, and I know he's not talking about learning to defend myself but learning from Riddick. I think he's afraid that I'm going to turn into a killer because of Riddick.
I don't tell him that I'm already a killer. I just don't do it very well. And I want to.
Riddick agrees to teach me to fight. We find an empty room, and he gives me a knife. He has a knife, too. It's not kid's play here. It's real.
He locks the door.
"Okay. Show me how you did it the first time."
"What?" I'm taken by surprise by his words.
Riddick opens his arm. "The first time. How did you kill him? I need to know what I'm working with, here."
I don't ask how he knew. He's Riddick. He probably knew everything the first time he saw me. Smelled me.
"Um," I say, not wanting to relive it but trying to. "He was, uh, behind me."
Riddick gestures for me to turn around. I do, and I clutch the knife in my fist right against my chest, just like the first time.
And Riddick comes behind me, big and male, just like the first time. Only. Only this is Riddick and he doesn't make any sound and he doesn't breathe through his mouth and he doesn't smell like shit and beer.
I swallow. "He had one hand on my left shoulder. And the other hand came around and pressed into my face."
Riddick's hand is a lot bigger than his was. When he reaches around my face, he's able to cup the entire side of my face.
I've never had a crush on any guy. Why would? Men are disgusting. But Riddick is... Riddick, and for a second I just close my eyes and listen to my heart pound and feel his breath wash over my stubbled head.
And then struck. Just like the first time, I whirl around, knife out, aiming for the throat.
Riddick catches my wrist inches away from his neck.
"And you killed him?"
I nod, wide-eyed, seeing myself reflected in his black goggles. "He wasn't expecting it. I just turned and stabbed him through the throat. Right here." I press the tip of my knife into the soft skin at the hollow of his throat.
"All right." He smiles crookedly at me. "Now, let's practice what you do if your attacker isn't some drunk pedophile who doesn't know his dick from brain."
And we do. We practice fighting from day six all the way to day twenty. And on day twenty, we land on Rigel. By this time, I'm not bruised every day, and I don't walk with a limp like I did days six through fifteen. My muscles aren't always sore, and my hands don't have blisters from the knife. They're calloused.
And my knees....
Riddick doesn't care if I pray, of course. When Imam insisted, I tried to appeal to Riddick, but Riddick just said that God isn't a bad thing, just an asshole. And sometimes, you want to have an asshole on your side.
So, every day, three times a day, I pray with Imam. I learn Arabic and about Mohammad and the various prophets and Allah. I learn and it soaks in and my knees stopped hurting when I kneel. And, by day twenty, I can recite the chants almost as well as Imam. He says I'm a fast learner and seems really... proud.
When we land on Rigel, Imam books passage on another ship. We're not going straight to New Mecca because none of us wants to risk cryosleep. Especially since cryosleep involves DNA printing and that'll catch Riddick right away. So, we're going in a series of short hops, and I'm starting to be afraid that this is going to end up as a fight for my soul or something. Only, Riddick doesn't really care to fight for me, and Imam won't give me up to a killer. Not even one he respects.
And me? I don't care what either of them thinks. I'm staying with Riddick. He keeps the monsters away, and even though Imam seems like a nice guy, he's not Riddick.
Besides. If I stay long enough, maybe Riddick will help me get eyes like his, so I can see people sneaking up on me in the dark.