They're not mine, but i love them just the same. Still not makin' money off them, tho.
Post- PB, just something I've been kicking around in my head for a while. We'll see where it goes.
It took every single ounce of self-control she had, and some she didn't know was even there. He still knew. Anyone who really looked at her could see the way she was shaking with the effort to not throw herself at him and beg him to take her with him. He tried to smirk like the badass he was, but it somehow didn't feel right.
"You need to stay with Imam. You know why you can't come with me, Jack. Stay with him, and I'll come back to visit if I can." He wanted so badly to promise he would come back, or to tell her he would come back to do more than visit, but he was a realist. There was no gain in giving her false hope in something that would probably never happen. The holy man had a way to contact him in an emergency, but even then he would decide if it was an emergency or not. He wished this was not the way things had to be, but wishing rarely got anyone anything. He had to give her credit for standing there and not begging. He had heard too much begging in the past, and he did not want a memory of her begging him like all his victims had.
"Ok." She was careful not to specifically say that she would stay with Imam. She had no intention of staying with the holy man and becoming a nun or something. Riddick didn't need to know that.
"Kid, that's not what I'm looking for. You and I both know you didn't agree to anything with that Ok. I want to hear the words coming out of your mouth." She shook her head and looked toward the holy man.
"I'm ready to go. I'll see you back at your house, Imam." She turned away from Riddick and began to walk away, but he grabbed her and pulled her hard against his granite chest.
"Jack, I'm not letting you leave until you say the words. I can't be coming back here in a couple months because you took off and did something dumb. So tell me that you will stay with Imam." She remained stubbornly still, refusing to make a promise she had no intention of keeping. His arms tightened on her, not enough to make it difficult to breathe, but enough to convey the threat. She shook her head, realizing this was getting to the point of being childish, but she doubted he truly realized what he was asking of her. He dropped her suddenly, walking away from them and towards his ship.
"Fine. You're on yer own, Jack. Have a nice life, kid." That was what she was waiting for. The thing she knew he had been waiting for an excuse to say, a reason to walk away without guilt or obligation. She gave him what he wanted, and now she could figure out the rest of whatever. Imam was looking at Riddick with an outraged expression on his face, his mouth open and waiting to berate him for his calousness. Riddick peeked over his shoulder, expecting to see her broken and ready to promise anything. He saw no Jack. He whirled around and looked over the causeway, but he saw no trace of her. Imam caught on quickly to Jack's disappearance and began calling for her loudly, his voice in outright panic. The stream of curses that flowed out of Riddick's mouth caused Imam to fall silent, frowning at him in dismay. Riddick took off through the crowd, following her scent through streets and alleyways until he ended up in front of a cafe. He looked inside to see her sitting in a booth at the back, lost in thought. She was stirring her coffee with a melancholy look on her beautiful features, and he felt his chest twinge. Walking into the cafe, he sat across the booth from her, noting her stunned expression.
"Why so surprised to see me, kid? Thouoght I was just gonna walk away and not look back?" His smirk faded when she looked at him, her unspoken 'yes' loud and clear.
"Kid, it's not like I don't want to take you, but I can't. I've got mercs on my ass all the time, and sometimes they get way too close. If that happens, I'll be too busy taking care of my own ass to see if yours is OK." He noted the faraway expression on her face, like she was tuning him out the way only a child can. A fist on the table brought her back quickly, and she jumped at the noise of her cup rattling on the table.
"Listen to me when I'm talking to you, Jack." She gave him a look of complete exasperation and folded her hands primly in front of her on the edge of the table.
"Let's stop the bullshit, Rid. I don't get why you're still here. I gave you the excuse to walk away. You coulda left thinking I was some ungrateful kid, and then you wouldn't have to feel bad about it. I won't stay with Imam and devote my life to God or some shit. I'm not promising something when I can't do it. I've been taking care of myself since I was six, so I'll be just fine ten minutes from now, and ten minutes after you're gone. So go away and let me finish my coffee, Riddick." He sat back, stunned at the even tones in her voice that belonged to an adult, not the teenager.
"How old are you really, Jack?" She rolled her eyes at him and took another sip of coffee.
"Look, Rid, I see this two ways. Either you want me around, or you don't. You don't, so what does it matter how old I am, or how long I've been on the streets? It doesn't matter, does it?" Even though the light was bright enough in the cafe to hurt, he pulled his goggles up and looked at her, really looking in her eyes. The teenage defiance was easy to see, it was a mask she pulled on like most people pulled on a coat in the winter. Beneath it was sadness, lonliness, and resignation. That last one was what bothered him. He had been a kid on the street, had known no one but orphans growing up, and he knew what it felt like to be resigned that no one cared about you, that you would die an early death. There would be no mourners at her funeral, if she was even lucky enough to have one, which was doubtful. She would never grow up to make a difference, or get any of the things or hopes she might have locked away deep in her heart. Her life was an exercise in pointlessness, one she was merely waiting through to the end.
"You ditch a lot of 'do gooders' that way?" She smirked around her coffee cup.
"Most took off a lot sooner than you did. And no one ever went looking for me." Her thin, emaciated shoulders shrugged through her shirt.
"Can't really blame them, can I? I got nothing to offer, I'm too old to be a kid anymore, and adults tend to get creeped out by that." He understood what she was trying to say. Living on the streets, you age quickly or die. She was a full grown woman mentally, and it was unnerving to adults to see another adult staring at them through a girl's eyes. It was always easier to help the babies, or the small children, than the teenager who forgot what childhood was like and was merely waiting for her body to catch up.
"Look, Riddick, I appreciate you getting me off that planet. It's probably the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me in a long time. But you have your life to live, and we both know you don't want anyone around. So, thanks, I hope you get the mercs off your back one day, and have a nice life." She stood and left a tip before grabbing a bag he could only assume she had lifted off someone. Jack felt his hand on her arm, yanking her back, and her patience started to wear out. She waited to see if he had anything to say to her, but he was just looking at her, his head tilted as though she were a damn math problem and he was adding up the figures in his head.
"Do you mind? I do have things to do, Rid, so please let go of my arm." Her tone made it very clear that the last part of the sentence was not a request.
"If you tell me how old you are, then I'll take you with me." He immediately felt the tension in her arm, the subtle way that she shifted onto the balls of her feet, getting ready to make a run for it. He let go of her arm and put his hands on the table where she could see them.
"I'm not fucking with you, no tricks, no trick questions. It's simple, Jack. If I'm going to take you with me, I want to know how old you are. I need to know what kind of supplies I'll need for you that I don't already have, how much training you'll need, and how much of a shit storm Imam'll raise if he finds out." That last made her chuckle, and the tension in her relaxed. She sat down in her seat, but still noted quickly the easiest way out of the shop.
"So what makes you different from everybody else, Riddick? You of all people don't need a kid hanging off your arm." He kept his hands on the table, but leaned forward slowly, his eyes piercing into hers.
"See, that's the thing. I think you won't qualify as a kid for much longer. I think you've made it this far by being younger than you really are. I'll give you this, Jack, you hide it really well. Had no clue until just now that you're not 12,13. No, you're a little older than that, aren't you? Which's why I don't mind taking you with. You're too old to go through all that hormone shit that makes kids useless, and you've been thinking like an adult for a long time, so I don't have to worry about you making some dumb kid mistake, do I?" He leaned back into his seat, his face showing satisfaction at his own intelligence.
"Besides, it gets old talking to yourself all damn day, and you're the smartest person I've met in quite a while. You're still young enough to train, and as long as you don't try to turn me in or fuck me over, then we've got nothing to worry about. I'll watch my back, you watch yours. Simple as that." She gave him a hard, appraising look, waiting for him to look away or some ulterior motive to cross his thoughts, but she saw none. Much as she thought he was above all that bullshit, she knew better than to trust someone that fully without justification.
"Ok, we can give it a shot. If it doesn't work for either of us, you can drop me off the next time you stop to get refueled, right?"
"That depends. Are you going to give this an honest try? Because I'm not gonna waste my time. I don't want to teach you a whole bunch of shit and have you leave the first time we piss each other off." She rolled her eyes at him and waved his concerns off like they were trivial.
"Riddick, I'm almost 17. We both know I still have some changing left to do and of course we're going to piss each other off, probably a lot at first. I don't remember what it's like to actually live with someone, so it'll take me a while to get used to it. But I'm not into the backstabbing shit either. Happened to me too much to go that low," she grumbled to herself more than him. He grunted and stood up, not looking back to see if she was following or not.
"Mr. Riddick, I cannot in good conscience allow you to take Audrey with you! Your life is dangerous and she needs to have a chance at a better life than what you can give her. She is still a child!" Riddick merely smirked at Imam and looked over at Jack.
"Well, I guess you need to tell the man how it is, Jack. I'll get the ship ready." He walked off and left Jack with Imam, who grabbed her elbow and tried to escort her away. She resisted with more strength than he had thought she was capable of, and she shrugged his hand off before he could try it again.
"Look, Imam, I know you are trying to do the good person thing, but it's kinda wasted on me. I'm actually a lot older than 13, I just tell people that's how old I am because they tend to want to keep anyone from messing with me if they think I'm still a kid. I've been on my own since I was 6, and while I never went to school or anything, I know more than you might think. But I don't have any ID, I don't have proof of education, and so I have no options. Riddick can train me to take care of myself, and how to find something I'm good at that won't be killing. We both know he'd probably shit his pants before teaching me how to kill people. He can show me how to make a living with the disadvantages I have, and I can show him how to be a good person again. We're both cynical and older than we should be, so we should have no problem getting along with each other. He will take good care of me, Imam."
"But Audrey, I can provide an education for you. We can find out who your parents were, obtain an ID. Mr. Riddick may have good intentions in regards to your care, but there's a saying about the path to hell being paved with good intentions. I merely want to give you the things in life that you would never have been able to have if we had not met. Would it really be so bad?" She leaned toward him and gave him a hug.
"Imam, I've been on the streets too long. I wouldn't know how to live in your world, and I honestly don't want to. This is what I know, and where I feel comfortable. Riddick is really what is best for me. Besides, it's not like I'll never write or anything. I appreciate the fact that you actually want to take care of me, because you and Riddick are the first ones who ever have. Riddick is the one I want to go with. And I am, unfortunately, old enough to make my own decisions. So you gonna see us off or what?" Imam nodded sadly, keeping any further arguments to himself. She took his hand and they made their way to Riddick's ship, where he was standing on the cargo ramp waiting. She gave Imam one last hug and sprinted up the ramp, intent on raiding the galley. Riddick shook Imam's hand.
"She'll be ok, Holy Man. I'll take care of her." Imam nodded at him before descending the ramp and waiting to watch the ship take off.