Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, plots, or locations from Pitch Black or Chronicles of Riddick. Some company holds all rights to Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick and this story is only created for pleasure, not profit.
Author's Note: Johns wasn't the only one who wanted to use Jack for bait. You need to be careful who you catch a ride from in the shipping lanes. Just after the escape from the sun-scorched planet. – This is what happens when I ignore my regular work and type fanfiction instead.Primitive Side
"So, what rock did y'all crawl off of?"
The gruff voice grated on his ears. Riddick looked around at the crew. Four men, rough from long months in space, all armed with gun or knife. The holy man and the girl stood just behind him, also looking around at their ticket home. The girl was wary, but tried to hold herself like a boy. Good idea, in the present company.
It had taken nearly two days for a ship to pass by. And just as Jack had worried, they happened to be picked up by a merc ship. Waiting any longer though, and they would have to be concerned with food. The fuel was just enough to reach the shipping lanes, then they were stranded. Luckily for them, a ship did come along; Riddick had died back on the planet, he said so himself, but waiting was not one of his virtues… waiting made him grumpy.
"Pallasia," Riddick's voice rumbled. "Ship crashed on the planet down there."
"And you're still alive. Lucky you." A couple of the crew snickered at that. The captain gave Riddick a grin of crooked, yellow teeth. "I guess God was watching out for you this time."
Riddick pinned his gaze on the man, who squirmed a little under the steady glare. The captain shrugged and turned towards Iman and Jack. "Welcome aboard, travelers," he spoke in a mock-friendly tone. "We have nothing but the finest accommodations for you 'till we can drop you off somewhere. Here we have the bedroom, kitchen, and what-have-you," the man waved around the tight space just behind the cockpit. "Pisser's in the back. And no cryo-sleep either, just have to ration everythin'. Questions?"
Iman looked at the rows of seats taking up the sides of the ship and a small storage box of food rations. He just shook his head in answer to the captain. Jack didn't speak at all, just watched the two men hovering closest to them. She was poised for action, Riddick noted. Didn't drop guard easily around strangers now. Good.
"Not very talkative, are they Cap'?" one of the men next to Jack spoke up. He was eyeing all of them, lingering on the kid. "Funny group, for a holy pilgrim-whatsit."
"Yeah," another said. This one was armed with knives strapped to every available space on him. He stood next to the Captain with a little grin. "The robed one, maybe, but the big guy and the kid don't seem like the praying type, do they?"
"What d'ya say, holy man?" the first man asked, shuffling close and making Iman and Jack stiffen. "Did'ja pick up a couple of stragglers on your trip? Convert a couple new believers?"
Riddick didn't move, but kept his eyes on the man closest to the kid. Iman placed his hands on Jack's shoulders in a protective manner. "We are all God's children," he intoned. "These are my companions and my traveling family."
The knife one chuckled. "Saved a couple of sinning brothers, huh? Made them family on your trip to New Mecca."
"Something like that," Iman replied, evenly.
"Enough wasting time," the Captain finally huffed. "We're on our way to the Bryar System, we'll drop you down there somewhere. Get behind the controls, Hughes." The only silent one nodded and moved over to the main console in the cockpit. "The rest of you may as well take a seat, this will be a while."
The holy man and the girl took the seats furthest from the front of the ship. Riddick remained standing and watched the Captain settle in next to the pilot to look over the navigation. The one with the knives settled in just behind the cockpit and closed his eyes. The other one, a skinny, twitchy fellow, moved over to the rations box. He picked out a bar and sat across from Jack and Iman. Unwrapping it, he nibbled off tiny bits while blatantly staring at the kid.
Riddick narrowed his eyes at the thin one. He didn't know how long this crew had been hanging around in space, but he knew how weeks and months could pile up on a person. Especially if there's been a lull in business, and he could see that the ship wasn't in top shape. Glancing at Jack, he could see that she had noticed the thin man's attention and was uncomfortable, but didn't know what to do about it. She shifted in her seat and looked anywhere but at the man across from her.
Waiting a little longer, but when nobody moved, Riddick deliberately walked in front of the thin man's gaze and sat down next to Jack. He had caught the other man's attention and beady eyes turned towards him. Riddick glared back and laid his strong arms across the backs of the seats, stretching out his muscles and offering some comfort to the kid next to him. Keeping the crewman's gaze, Riddick didn't move or blink until finally the man stood up and wandered back into the bathroom.
After another minute, Riddick glanced down to see Jack send an adoring and grateful look back up at him. With a steady look and a half-smile, half-frown hovering around his lips, he shook his head a fraction and the kid got the hint and turned away. It was a good thing that she had shaved her head like him; it made the brothers story somewhat more believable. This wasn't the best transport they could have hoped for, but the ship wasn't a total loss. The crew was rough, but not the worst mercs he had come across; nothing he couldn't handle by himself.
It was some time before Riddick began to feel tired. Nothing much had happened, other than a couple of pilot changes, and everyone else had been to sleep at least once. He'd glanced over at the navigation charts a couple of times and they were about a third of the way there.
He felt a little tug on his arm and he looked down at the kid. She glanced around, and seeing the crew asleep or busy, whispered, "You should get some sleep. I'll keep a lookout."
Riddick was hard-pressed not to smile in amusement at her earnest entreaty. He noted that Iman was awake and apparently hard at prayer with his beads. Not responding to the kid, Riddick simply lowered his goggles and leaned back. He stayed awake awhile, just watching the crew. Riddick noticed a few glances sent his way and other than a couple of raised eyebrows at his "relaxed" posture, no moves were made. With a final glance at Jack, he almost smiled once more seeing her sharp glances around the cabin. Then he drifted off for some needed rest…
As soon as she moved, he was awake. Eyes open behind his dark goggles, Riddick watched Jack as she cautiously disengaged from his side, trying not to wake him. She walked back towards the bathroom and he relaxed. Nothing had happened yet. With his peripheral vision, he saw Iman bent over, still in prayer. Or maybe… Riddick listened closely and heard deep breaths. No, the holy man had fallen asleep. Looking around, he noted that the Captain and Hughes were also sleeping. The knife man was in the cockpit and the thin man was leaning back into one of the seats across from him, just fiddling around with a knife.
The posture was casual so Riddick didn't catch it at first, but then he saw the thin man glance back at the bathroom door. He watched as the man looked over at the door, where Jack was just coming out. With a quick glance in Riddick's direction, the thin man stood up, put the knife in his belt and moved toward the kid.
"Hey, boy," the crewman said. Jack went still, but couldn't go back to her seat without moving directly by the man. She turned a hard look on him and he held up his hands in a placating gesture. "Hey, hey, don't be that way. I just wanna talk, yeah?"
Jack said nothing and apparently the man took this as a sign to continue. "Thought you might wanna know, we could use another crewman aboard. Wouldn't be much for picking up bounties by force," he eyed Jack up and down, "but we could use you in other ways… show you the ropes. I promise we'd get you a good cut." The thin man moved in closer, causing the kid to back up nearer to the wall. Jack glanced around the man over at Riddick and the crewman hesitated before reaching out and placing a hand on the wall just above her shoulder. Riddick's view was now blocked by the man's back but his sharp ears picked up the next thing the thin man said.
"Y'know… a lot of bounties like the look of someone as young as you," the crewman whispered. "They say the younger they are, the more like a girl…" He leaned in and Jack made some noise of protest and tried to slip out around the man, but he grabbed her shoulder with his free hand.
In moments, Riddick was across the small cabin. He pulled the thin man's hand off of the kid's shoulder and held his curved blade against the other's throat. The crewman gurgled in surprise and backed up against the back wall, with Riddick following in close, keeping his shiv in contact with the strained neck. He gestured for Jack to move back and she quickly complied, joining Iman who had woken up with Riddick's quick motion. Hughes and the Captain hadn't woken, but the knife man had turned around at the helm and was watching them, but he made no move yet.
Goggles up, Riddick looked with cold eyes at the thin man, who gulped beneath the sharp metal. "You. Don't. Touch. Him," Riddick growled out.
"I-I didn't do anything," the man's Adam's apple bobbed furiously.
Riddick tightened his hold on the man and pressed into the skin, causing a little blood to dribble out. "You. Don't. Touch. Him. Say it!"
The think man held up his hands again, this time in surrender. "Fine! Fine! I won't touch 'im! I swear!"
It was a few more seconds of the crewman sweating nervously before Riddick backed away. "Remember that," he said, voice dripping with ice. Deliberately keeping his blade unsheathed and in his hand, Riddick walked back over to his seat and sat down next to Jack, arms spread out in protection once more. The man, unwilling to stay under Riddick's stare, retreated into the bathroom. Looking back at the cockpit, he also stared down the knife man until the other crewman turned back to look out at the field of stars ahead of them.
Riddick allowed himself to relax by degrees. With the confrontation over, at least he wasn't stuck on edge with anticipation. And the thin man had proved to be weak enough. Looking over, he realized that Iman had been trying to catch his eye. With a significant glance down, the holy man tried to reach out a hand to Jack, but the kid was stiff and staring steadfastly at the floor.
"Jack," Iman whispered, but she kept her eyes down and turned a little away from him. Iman once again communicated his concern to Riddick through his eyes but Riddick just gave a short shrug. The holy man could try to talk to her, but Riddick wasn't much of a conversationalist. With a sigh, Iman tried again, "Are you alright, Jack?"
"I'm fine," was her short reply, and she wrapped her arms around herself and closed her eyes. Another sigh, and the holy man turned away.
They remained as they were for a long time. The thin man had eventually come out of the bathroom, but Riddick's glare had sent him to the navigation seat instead. Later, when he woke up and noticed the hostility, the Captain had quietly asked the crewman about the reason for Riddick's hard looks and was rebuffed with a curt, 'It's nothing.' The matter had dropped and the trip continued in relative silence, other than brief, but quiet, chatter between the crew.
Iman was asleep once more, and so was the crew, other than Hughes who was at the helm. Riddick was relaxing, as much as he ever did around strangers, when he noticed a faint trembling at his side.
Jack had sat in stillness since the incident, not talking and not sleeping, though her eyes remained closed. Riddick had felt that her shoulders were straight and stiff the whole time, and knew that her back must be aching something terrible now. Now she was shaking and holding herself even tighter than before. Riddick frowned, and the part of him that had newly reacquainted itself with humanity lowered his arm down to rest on her shoulders.
She let out a small hiccup, and opening her eyes, turned to look up at Riddick. Damp lashes blinked at him and her bright eyes spoke volumes about a need for… comfort? No, Riddick couldn't give that and he thought that Jack knew it. Protection? Now that… he could give her.
With a quick look around at the sleeping bodies, Riddick put his shiv away and turned to grasp the kid's waist, pulling her into his lap. Jack's eyebrows shot up in surprise and she tilted her head back to look into Riddick's flashing eyes. He ignored her look and wrapped his arms around her, shifting her head against his chest. Nothing could hurt her here. This was where she was safest. For once, his primitive side was in agreement with his human side. Jack was his to protect now, and he'd kill anything that tried to harm her. He rested his chin on top of her head and felt her relax.
"Riddick?" she whispered, barely a breath.
"You're safe," his low voice rumbled back. "Sleep." He felt her hands clutch at his shirt as her cheeks pulled back in a smile.
"Thank you," was her relieved reply and she fell into slumber.
Riddick felt her even breathing and contemplated his position. Somehow, leaving that burning planet with the girl and the holy man, had made him attached to them. He certainly didn't trust Iman, but he was almost… a friend? And Jack, well… it was the first time that he met anyone who so blatantly admired him, adored him really. Even on the planet, he found himself teasing her, protecting her from Johns and the creatures. He had smiled when he returned to the cave with Carolyn and saw Jack grinning at him, insisting that she never doubted him. She really was a cute kid. And now…
Now her warm little form pressed up against him in sleep, trusting him completely. They were a strange little group, he acknowledged. A holy man, a tomboy, and an escaped convict. But they were his Pack now, and he'd run with it while he could. He held her close and felt a soft sigh of contentment. He was nearly smiling again.
A chair creaked, and Riddick's eyes flashed over to the cockpit, where Hughes was silently considering him. He hadn't heard the crewman talk yet, just nodding or frowning in response to the Captain's orders and the others' banter. Narrowing his eyes, Riddick sent the silent man a look, clearly stating, 'What are you looking at?' The other man shrugged in response, turning back to the controls with several glances sent back his way.
Riddick's nerves itched, unsure what to think of the man, but stayed still to prevent waking Jack. It wasn't very bright in the cabin, but he reached an arm to lower his goggles anyway. With strangers, sometimes it was best they didn't know where you were looking. Feeling Jack squirm a little, he replaced his arm around her and she settled down immediately. Her deep breaths puffing against his chest were calming, and Riddick felt himself relax. He allowed himself to rest, but kept his eyes open behind his dark goggles. He didn't want to be caught off-guard.
One by one, the crew began to wake up and surprised looks were shot his way. Riddick supposed it might look a little odd to them, since he was usually distant and quiet. But he and Jack were supposedly brothers, so it wasn't as though there was anything wrong with their position. He didn't move, allowing Jack to sleep, and just watched as the crew gathered around the helm.
The thin man was the last to wake, and when he noticed where the kid was sleeping, he glared fiercely at the convict. Riddick was almost amused and inwardly smirked at the crewman's expression. 'You'll never touch her,' he thought with satisfaction. The man left off his look of hatred in favor of joining the rest of the crew around the cockpit.
He grumbled to the others, "Awfully close, those brothers."
The Captain shrugged back at him. "Not an issue. But tell me, does the big guy seem familiar to any of you?"
There was a silence, and then Hughes spoke up. "Thought I saw him on the list once," he said gruffly.
"Really?" the Captain raised an eyebrow. "Was it a good price?"
"Eight hundred creds," Hughes replied.
The knife man let out a low whistle. "Not bad, considering all we had to do was invite him onboard."
"Well," the Captain shot a glance back at Riddick, "he looks the part. Might wanna be careful about… restraining him."
"What's the plan, then?" the knife man asked, pulling out a blade and twiddling it.
They looked over in his direction and seemed to think it over. Riddick knew they couldn't see his eyes, but he glared when he saw the contemplative look on the thin man's face. The man with the blades noticed the look on the other crewman's face as well. "Got an idea, Davis?"
The thin man dropped his voice low, but Riddick still heard him. "He's protective of his little brother, right? We should use that…"
Riddick felt rage growing inside him. He held back the rumble threatening to escape his throat. They were plotting to take Jack away from him. He forced his anger back to a simmer; he would not allow this.
The Captain agreed, "The next time either of them gets up, we'll move."
The crew separated again, Hughes and the knife man stayed at the pilot and navigator seats, and the Captain relaxed in one of the seats right behind the cockpit. Davis, with a smug grin on his face, moved back to the seat directly across from Riddick and Jack and stared at the kid. Riddick wanted to see that face twisted in pain as he sliced the man to shreds, but he knew that the Captain and Hughes both had guns, and the knife man was armed to the teeth.
He glanced to the side where Iman was still sleeping, but his breathing was light so he was bound to wake soon. A shift in his arms warned him that Jack would be waking first. She gave a yawn and lifted her head up a little. Blinking, Jack realized whose lap she was on and a blush began to spread over her cheeks. Shifting her a bit, Riddick made sure that she was facing away from the crew and reached to pull his goggles up. He gave her a cool look and tried to convey a warning to her. Luckily, she seemed to understand and shook her head to get a hold of herself.
"Hi," was all she said and Riddick gave a nod back.
Jack moved to slide off of his lap, but Riddick just flipped her around so she could stretch her legs over the other seats. She gave him an odd look, but shrugged it off and stretched out. Riddick saw Davis shift in his seat, never taking his eyes off of Jack. The convict sent his icy glare at the thin man, but the other man only ignored him, confident in the plans to take down Riddick.
After seeing the direction Riddick was looking, Jack followed his gaze and met Davis' eyes. She tensed in Riddick's arms but didn't make a sound. Leaning back, Jack just focused on the relaxing presence that was holding her.
Iman woke up and looked over to check on his companions. He did a double-take when he saw Jack sitting in Riddick's lap. Raising his eyebrows, the holy man looked at them, as if asking whether they were serious. Riddick leveled a look over at him in warning. Iman stiffened in his seat and took a glance around, noting the furtive looks passing between the crew and the thin man's return to his first position nearest to them.
Riddick was wondering if the crew had noticed the holy man's tension, but they seemed more focused on him, and Jack. Probably figured the religious man wouldn't fight, and they were probably right, but at least Iman was aware that something might go down. He'd be able to get out of the way quickly.
After a while, Jack tried to slide off of his lap and Riddick frowned, tightening his grip. She scowled right back at him and hissed, "Riddick, I've gotta use the bathroom."
He saw that the crew had noticed Jack's movements and would be put on their guard if he refused to let her go. Making his decision, he let go of Jack and gave an obvious, distrustful look at Davis. Riddick stood up after Jack and followed her to the door. Getting the hint, she gave him an annoyed but grateful smile, and closed the door.
The thin man had watched with a frown. Riddick remained firmly between him and the kid. Davis made a small gesture to the Captain, to see if they would go ahead anyway and the Captain gave a nod. He reached behind him and pulled out a pair of metal cuffs, and the two hovering at the helm turned and moved to surround Riddick.
At that moment, Jack was opening the door, but Riddick grabbed it and slammed it shut. "Lock the door!" he shouted, past the point of subtlety. He heard the bolt go and bared his teeth at the crew. "You do not want to fuck with me," he promised them.
The Captain drew out his gun with a grin, "Gee, I don't know about that. Looks to me like a pretty payday on our hands."
Hughes also pulled out his gun and the man next to him was running his knives against each other. Davis edged around the other side of Riddick, also with knife in hand. Gritting his teeth, Riddick pulled out his shiv and waited for the right moment.
Suddenly, the lights went out. There was a startled, 'What the hell?!' and Riddick made his move. He quickly dispatched the Captain, slitting his throat and ripping the gun from his hand. Knives were slicing randomly close to him, so he shoved the Captain's body into the blades and onto the man carrying them. The weight carried him down and Riddick put a charge through both bodies. He whipped around to look for the other two.
The red backup lights kicked on and he looked over to see Hughes holding his piece to Iman's head. The holy man had made himself scarce as soon as he saw the crew moving and edged to the lights console. When he saw Riddick get into a fighting stance, he had disabled them. But Hughes had moved over quickly and held his arms behind him, holding the gun to his head with the other hand.
Riddick heard a chuckle over where he had been standing. Feeling his blood freeze over, he looked to see Davis next to the bathroom door, knife already fiddling with the lock. The thin man saw the look and grinned, gesturing over to his partner in crime. "What's it gonna be, your brother or your holy friend there?" he taunted.
Looking over at Iman, Riddick saw that the holy man didn't have a good position. Hughes was positioned behind Iman, shielding himself from a direct attack from the convict. The silent man moved calmly and deliberately, and Riddick could see that the man knew what he was doing. A thunk sounded, and Riddick knew that the thin man had gotten past the lock. Davis shoved at the door but it just slammed back on him; apparently, Jack was braced for impact on the other side. There wasn't much time.
With a cry, Iman stepped back onto the other man's foot, throwing him slightly off balance and giving Riddick his opening. The gun waved out and Riddick knocked it aside with his hand and shoved his blade into Hughes' head. The man dropped to the ground, blood pouring out of the wound when Riddick ripped it out and turned back to Davis.
The thin man was wearing a grin and was just dragging Jack from out of the bathroom. She tugged and kicked at him, but the man's determination kept his grip. Pulling her close, he faced Riddick as he held his knife to her throat. "One move and I kill him," he threatened. Seeing the convict and the holy man both still, his grin grew wider. Tugging Jack closer, he whispered in her ear, "We're gonna be very close, you and I. Much more than your brother, there." With that, he held the blade close on her throat, keeping her very still, as he ran a hand down her side. Squeezing her curving hip, Davis paused, eyes wide. "Wait, you're not even…"
Jack gave a strangled gasp as the thin man shoved his hand past her shapeless pants and grabbed her crotch. Riddick stiffened and growled low, but the other man ignored him entirely. "Well, well. You're not even a brother, you're a sister," Davis crooned. Mocking eyes looked over at the infuriated convict, "No wonder he's so protective. We're going to have lots of fun."
"Don't touch me," Jack hissed, hands suddenly moving to grasp the arm with the knife. She tried to tug it away but the man was stubbornly holding on. The blade nicked her and blood began to flow down her neck. The crewman used the opportunity to wrap his free hand around her chest, effectively pinning down her arms. She gasped again and turned frightened eyes on the frozen convict, "Riddick!"
Davis was touching her. Was touching Jack. The rage that had been building was now pounding through Riddick's veins. How dare he touch her, like he had a right? The energy was tingling all over his skin and he was vibrating trying to hold it back, so that bastard wouldn't hurt her. Riddick's eyes gleamed as he watched the blood dripping down to Jack's collarbone. Her wide eyes screamed for his protection and he forced himself to stay still, looking for the right opportunity. That man had no right to what was his.
The thin man was getting distracted. He began moving the blade down her side, letting his hand run the length of her body. As he brushed his fingers and the metal over her stomach, Davis leaned in and licked her neck, causing her to shudder in revulsion. He chuckled, flickering his eyes between Jack's skin and Riddick. "Ever get a taste of your pretty little sister? I bet you did… She's a sweet little thing, isn't she? Very obliging girl," he taunted. Bending his arm from around her to grasp her chin, Davis licked her lips, pressing the blade into her hip when she tried to tug away. Jack kept her mouth firmly closed, but the merc didn't seem to mind. "Gods, it's been too long," he groaned. Jack closed her eyes and whimpered.
Riddick nearly bounded forward before Davis' gaze fell back on him. The thin man kicked over the shackles on the floor nearby and snapped, "Put those on, I'm not waiting any longer." Glaring, Riddick couldn't see the knife, but the way the man's arm was positioned, it was likely right next to Jack's side. He picked up the cuffs and clasped one about his wrist. "Behind your back," Davis ordered. "Don't want any tricks. And you, holy man, sit down and stay down."
With a pained glance at Riddick, Iman sat back down on the furthest chair. Riddick closed the other cuff on his wrist behind his back and stood still, watching Davis closely. The man seemed to relax once Riddick was restrained and turned most of his attention to Jack. "Now, little sister, you're going to cooperate or I'll kill you, your friend, and your brother over there, got it?"
Fearful eyes looked to Riddick. Jack didn't respond, but she stopped moving, which to Davis was good enough. With a triumphant grin, he shoved her down across the seats and started to lean over her. "I'm going to fuck you so hard you'll be sore for weeks… Ugh!"
Riddick's shoulder made contact with Davis, the impact knocking the smaller man to the floor. As soon as Jack was away from the blade, Riddick had charged, taking the merc by surprise. Before Davis could recover himself, Riddick slammed his boot into the man's throat, crushing his windpipe. Barely rasping now, the thin man's eyes were wide and frightened as the convict calmly stepped backwards through his arms, clutching his shiv in front of him and thrust it right through Davis' forehead.
There were only the sounds of Riddick's steady breathing and the metallic ring as he ripped his blade out of the dead man's head. The rage at the man had not cooled down, even after killing him. Riddick wanted to kill him again and again, teaching the man not to touch what belonged to Riddick. Jack belonged to him and no one else, and things were going to stay that way, if he had any say in it. His blood pulsed with unspent adrenaline and he remained standing over the corpse, looking down at the bloody face and imagining scenario after bloody scenario.
Then, there was a shuddering cry of 'Riddick!' and suddenly arms were wrapped around him from behind. Jack. A large part of his anger deflated. The threat was gone; Jack was here and safe. She was trembling and he could hear her sobbing, but the sheer relief in her voice calmed him. His protective, raging, instincts were shifting into a firm need to know that she was okay. He turned around and she attached herself to his front in seconds. Riddick ran a hand over her crown, feeling the soft fuzz of her hair beginning to grow out again. Grasping her shoulders and holding her close to him, he leaned down and smelled that, through the fear, sweat, and adrenaline, she was fine. Her small frame was warm against him and the tremors were dying down. He let out a large breath he hadn't known he was holding and straightened up again.
Iman was standing to the side, looking over the corpses and letting them have whatever moment they needed to collect themselves. Noticing Riddick's look, the holy man sighed. "We will have to dispose of these," he said, gesturing to the fallen crew. "Afterwards, I may pray for their souls' forgiveness."
Riddick just nodded and steered the girl over to the helm. Plunking her down in the navigator's seat, he told her, "Stay here." He waited for her nod, and then turned to help Iman with the bodies. Finding the key to the cuffs on the Captain, Riddick released himself and was free to move around. They dragged the corpses to the back of the ship next to the hatch and closed off the small anterior room. They then opened the hatch and let the trash be sucked out into empty space. The holy man looked at the floor and sighed, there wasn't much that could be done about the blood spilt. The ship obviously wasn't equipped with cleaning supplies, and it wasn't really worth the effort anyway.
Iman knelt down in the back to pray and Riddick moved up into the pilot's seat. He looked at the controls and the settings, and changed the destination to the Helion system. The fuel cells looked like they'd be enough for the jump and they could be there in a few more days. New coordinates set, he turned to look at the girl.
Jack was curled up in the chair next to him, eyes staring ahead but not focused on anything. She was no longer trembling, but Riddick didn't like her stillness any better. With glazed eyes, it was as though she was no longer there. That was unacceptable.
He reached out and pulled her into his lap once again, tucking her head under his chin. She gave a muffled squeak at the quick movement and then relaxed into his chest. Her solid, warm weight against him settled the last of his rage and he relaxed as well. Slowly, carefully, he stroked her back, not really thinking about it, but knowing that it wasn't really a comforting gesture. No, it was an apology. He recalled how Davis' hands had touched her, how he'd licked her, how he'd nearly violated her… Riddick had not fulfilled his promise to protect her from that.
'You're safe,' he'd told her. In his arms, yes, Jack was perfectly safe. But beyond that, Riddick hadn't been able to protect her. That merc had touched her…
"Riddick?" Jack's sleepy voice whispered.
"Mmn?" he rumbled back, still lost in his thoughts.
"What's the matter?" Her question was greeted with silence. "You seem far away," she explained further.
"You're tired. You should sleep," was his reply.
She didn't argue with him, but sighed, her warm breath tickling over his chest through his simple tank. "Thank you, Riddick," she murmured.
Her breaths soon fell even and deep, and Riddick gave a whisper that was almost pained, "Don't thank me, Jack. I nearly killed you." His hand continued its strokes over her back, penitent, for his failure to protect. These mercs were really all the same to him, they were always there. But they threatened Jack because of him; wanted to use her to catch him for his bounty.
Riddick gripped her close. She was a part of his Pack now, but his very presence was a risk to her. As much as his primitive instincts were screaming at him to keep her close, to hold onto her… he knew that he was more dangerous to her than anyone. She needed to stay away from him.
She was curled up to him tight. Her weight had become familiar in his arms and by now he had memorized her form. He knew her scent, her touch, her voice. Tilting his head to look down into her sleeping face, the words came into his head unbidden, 'Ever get a taste of your pretty little sister? I bet you did… She's a sweet little thing, isn't she?' He recoiled, looking away. What was he thinking? After a pause, he looked down again, and instinct whispered, 'Mine.'
She really needed to stay away from him.
His sharp ears picked up Iman's prayers in the back of the cabin. Looking out at the stars, Riddick let his eyes drift closed and held Jack just a little tighter. After the trip, he'd go away, but now… just for now…
He'd hold her safe.