Disclaimer: Don't own it...never will.

Five years. Long time to be stuck on a planet covered in ice. Long time to stay in hiding. Funny how things work, isn't it? For the first twenty-something years of my life I couldn't give shit less about another human being, and now I'm sittin' in this asshole of a ship hidden in some caves, off the fuckin' map. For what? Just to keep some mouthy little kid safe. Mouthy little kid, who made me laugh, calmed the beast. Damn, five years now, Jack won't be a little kid any more. Jack. Jackie. Jacqueline, whatever she goes by now, she'll always be 'kid' to me. Shit, if someone would've told me six years ago I'd be sitting here, 100 kilometers away from the closest bar, freezing my ass off to keep some old man and girl safe…I woulda slapped him stupid…funny how things work.

Riddick shifted on his cot, throwing a heavy arm across his eyes and grumbling to himself in the pitch black of the ship, "Might as well get some sle…"

BEEP BEEP BEEP.

What the fuck?

BEEP BEEP BEPP

"Shit", he sighed hauling himself up off the stiff makeshift bed. Sauntering over to the com-unit he flicked on the receiver button and flopped into the pilot's seat. Slowly Imam's face flickered onto the screen.

Riddick sat up a little in the chair. Imam only contacted Riddick about twice a year, only when someone had been asking too many questions or for updates on Jack. Hoping that Imam's call was concerning the latter, Riddick flicked on the audio transmitter.

"Imam," Riddick said.

"Mr. Riddick," Imam smiled a little, "I am pleased to see that Allah has kept you safe so far."

Riddick grunted. There was an odd, hesitant silence. Riddick watched Imam pinch the bridge of his nose before beginning to speak.

"Mr. Riddick," Imam began.

"What's the problem," Riddick interrupted. He didn't like the way this was going.

"It's Jack," Imam hesitated, obviously choosing his next words very carefully. "I have exhausted every resource I have, Mr. Riddick, I hoped that it would never reach this point," he stopped again and exhaled a deep breath, "she's gone."

Riddick blinked. Gone.

"Gone where," Riddick demanded, and when his question was met with more reluctant silence, he repeated himself, something that he very rarely did. "Gone where, Imam?"

"Therein lays the problem, Mr. Ri…", he started.

"Don't play games with me holy man, and cut the mister shit," Riddick interrupted, growling a little, "where the fuck has she gone, exactly?"

"I do not know," he answered truthfully. Truthfully, it was tearing his heart out that he didn't know where she was. That he had sworn, not only to Riddick, but to himself that he would keep the girl safe. And that she had left by her own volition, without so much as a goodbye.

"Imam," Riddick said, voice deadly calm, "I think you should try runnin' that by me again, because I could swear that you just told me that Jack, who I left in your care, is gone and that you don't know where she is."

"She left to find you, Riddick," Imam swallowed back the lump in his throat, Riddick or not, he thought steeling himself, I will say what needs to be said, "she has joined with a group of mercenaries."

Riddick sat back as if he'd been slapped. Mercs? What the fuck do you mean mercs? Jack. No fucking way. However, what came out was, "And you know this how?"

"She sends me messages periodically," Imam replied, "to let me know that she is alive and well. But she never reveals where she is."

"Periodically, Imam," he asked, "just how long has she been gone exactly?" He knew he wasn't going to like the answer.

Imam licked his lips nervously before answering, "Mr. Riddick, what you must understand is…"

"How long, holy man," Riddick shouted, losing patience.

"Almost a year."

Fuck.

"A year…Jack's been roaming around the 'verse for a year with a bunch of fucking mercs by herself, and you're just now telling me?" Riddick said, suppressing the urge to punch in the com-unit's screen.

"I thought…" Imam began.

"NO!" Riddick shouted he was losing it. For years he had frozen his balls off on this goddamn planet, pretending to be dead, to keep them safe and now, NOW she was hooking up with the same motherfuckers that wanted to cut her up and use her for bait back on T-2. To find him?! Godammit Jack. "No, you didn't think, that's the problem!"

"I care for Jack just as much as you do Riddick," Imam said, voice steadily rising, "I have done everything …," he stopped short as Riddick help up his hand silencing him.

"You were supposed to keep her safe." Silence.

"I'll be on Helion Prime in four days, holy man… I suggest that you start praying to that god of yours." He flicked the switch and the connection was terminated.

Riddick did a walk-through of the ship, as the hull integrity tests ran, locking cabinets and securing his few belongings for takeoff. The steady rumbling of the ships engine calmed him, allowing him to properly check all of the pre-takeoff requirements.

As he maneuvered the ship through the stalagmites in the cave he thought about the last time he had seen the girl. She had been cursing a blue streak at his back as he walked up the ramp of the skiff, leaving her behind in New Mecca. What had she been saying? Oh yeah, that's right… something along the lines of 'You-liar-you-ass-I-hate-you-you-goddamn-cowardly-bastard-how-can-you-just-dump-me-on-this motherfucking-rock?'

He remembered feeling the pain and anger that radiated from her body as he stood from his crouch in front of her, placing his hand on her head. He remembered how she had gasped when he kissed her on the cheek, demanding that she continue her training. She had recovered by punching him in the gut, glaring at him and then ducking behind Imam as he took a step towards her. That was Jack in a nutshell, fearless and unpredictable, but not stupid.

He smirked as the ship began rocketing up into the night sky, leaving a trail of steam as the engines intense heat caused the moisture in the air to evaporate. She sure had a mouth on her, little brat. The smirk, however, turned into a scowl as he reminded himself of the circumstances of his return.

Hope she continued her training to back up all that talk, his cracked his neck to both sides, because she's gonna fuckin' need it.