a/n -- slightly alternative universe.. I collapsed Riddick's injury on T2 and the events of Dark Fury together. I wrote this a while ago. If there is interest, I'll echo the whole thing here. It's much sweeter than my last completed story.
Riddick woke slowly, automatically taking inventory. Someone had fixed up his leg. He tensed the muscles carefully. They felt strong. They felt unrestrained. Strange.
They'd drugged him good for whatever they had done. The narcotic haze still lingered. But he wasn't in restraints, and they hadn't given him a paralytic. He seemed to be alone in a crew cabin.
No. Not alone. Steady breathing from near by. He focused on that. He knew that breathing. Little girl, pretending to be a little boy. Jack.
Okay, they really must not know who he was. No one who would clean out his wound that nicely would leave a man with his rap sheet unrestrained in a room with a teenage girl, no matter how smitten with him she was.
Riddick raised his head. The poor kid was curled into some sort of over stuffed easy chair. She must be cold, the way she was clutching a small blanket around herself. Weird she'd be so far away. She'd huddled against him on the skiff, whether for body heat or protection from monsters he hadn't explored. Curled up on the chair she looked impossibly small and vulnerable.
She woke as soon as he sat up, seeming to get bigger. He was slightly impressed. Girl had poise, and her voice was strong. "Hey, Johns. Howya feelin'?"
Johns. Right. Johns. He felt a flash of gratitude. Smart kid. Reminding him of the cover story.
"Pretty good." His own voice was rougher than usual. Slightly dehydrated.
She knew. "Lemme get you some water. I'm gonna turn the lights on now." She was out of the chair, yawning discretely. Even though it was pitch black, she seemed to know where she was going. Musta been out a while. She manually turned the lights to their lowest setting and brought him a glass of water. For the first time since she'd come into his life, her movements were almost shy.
His goggles were on a small bedside table, along with one of his shivs. Seeing them, he felt some of the tension melt away. He smiled at her and patted the bed beside him. "Not rabid, kid. Not gonna bite you. Sit down." She did, giving him a look he couldn't quite read. "So . . . what's up?"
She caught his eyes, shook her head slightly. Making sure his eyes followed hers, she looked up to a spot high on the wall. He followed her gaze to the tell tale glint of a camera.
Looked down. Okay, they put us in a room with surveillance. Smart. Someone's watching.
Could just be a sniffer program. Just lookin' for danger signs . . .
She was still talking. He focused on her earnest voice. "They fixed us both up, and said everyone else was goin' back into cryo. It's a couple of weeks to the next stop and they didn't want to spend the life support and gravity on keeping everyone awake. But they didn't wanna put you in cryo before they knew if your leg was gonna be okay. I volunteered to stay awake with you, just to make sure. This room's autonomous; they booted up life support here, but not the rest of the ship. We're supposed to go into cryo when you're ready."
Cryo. Hrmp. "So you've been takin' care of me?"
She ducked her head, her shyness belied by her foolish grin. "Not much to do. Just keep you hydrated and keep any eye on things. They told me to revive the medic if we needed him."
"Where's the holy man?"
"Cryo." She looked down, her smile fading. She took a deep breath. "Johns, there's something I didn't tell you."
"I'm a runaway."
No shit. "Yeah?"
She squirmed slightly. "Before they went back to sleep, they sent a burst about the Hunter Grazner crashing, with our . . . information. Our DNA. They are going to figure out who I am. I'm . . . I'm scared, Johns."
He stared at her, brain still slightly fuzzed. Why the fuck is she telling me this?
Sent our information . . . right. DNA. They're gonna figure out I'm not Johns real fast. Right. Smart kid. Another stab of gratitude. "You runnin' from folks who hurt you?"
Her voice dwindled, became small. "Yeah."
"Folks who are gonna come after you?"
She made a complicated gesture with her shoulders. "Maybe. I think they'll . . . send for me."
He sighed, put an arm around her. He'd figure out how much of that was true, and whether he cared, later. Play for the camera now. "I didn't get you off that fucking planet to hand you over to people who are gonna hurt you."
Her gratitude seemed wholehearted and utterly unfeigned. Made him uncomfortable. "Thank you."
"I gotta piss. There a place?"
"Yeah." She pointed at a small door. He stood cautiously. Leg took his weight without complaining. Huh. Really musta been out a while. The refresher was bare bones, just a mirror, pull out toilet, pull out sink, and small showerhead in the corner. It was clean, efficient, professional, almost military. But barely big enough for him to turn around. Would there be cameras in here too? When he was done, he washed his hands carefully. He'd check out the shower soon.
Jack was back on her chair, curled up. Poor kid was bone dead tired. Must not be sleeping well. "I'm hungry, kid. There food here?"
"Yeah, plenty." She got up as if to prepare it.
"Kid, I'm fine. Just point." She gave him a big smile, pointed to a cupboard that turned out to be full of standard rations, enough to keep them both alive for a long time. He picked one, ate slowly. Now that what ever had sustained her when he'd woken was fading, Jack's exhaustion was getting to him. But there were things he needed to know, in case things happened fast.
"Tell me about our rescuers. I don't remember them."
She nodded, earnestly. "You were pretty feverish. That wound you got was infected and we couldn't get it under control. The guys who picked us up seem to be good people. There's a captain, who's also the pilot. There's a first officer; he's also the medic. I saw three other people in cryo when they put Abu to sleep. I don't know anything about them."
"What they doin'?"
"They said it was a cargo run."
"This the only room with life support?"
She shrugged. "That's what they told me." Her voice went shy again. "I didn't go exploring. I didn't want to get too far away from you."
Despite himself, he smiled at her. "How we supposed to get to cryo?"
"They showed me how to turn on life support between here and there. And we've got breathers."
"How long have I been out?"
This kid kept quiet for three days? Didn't know she had it in her. "You been watching over me for three days?"
Another flash of unfamiliar gratitude. He ran a hand over his head. Three days growth, yup, that was consistent. Weird he'd slept that long; they must have drugged him hard. Makes sense, use up less life support, and with her watching, less risk of sepsis. He suddenly realized that she had probably rolled him over regularly, kept him hydrated, probably took care of other intimate details. He eyed her carefully. She yawned again.
"Haven't been sleeping well."
She shrugged, expressively. "Didn't want anything to happen to you while I was sleeping."
He was touched. It felt weird how much he was responding to this kid. He stood. "Take the bed. I'm gonna check out the computer, and try to get the kinks out."
"Okay." Without taking off her clothes, she tunneled under the covers, practically hugging the wall.
"Yeah?" She looked over her shoulder at him.
"I owe ya one."
She flashed him a look of pure joy. "No, you don't. I'm glad I could help."
"Go to sleep, Jack."
She did almost immediately. He turned off the lights. The room was too small for a full work out, but at least he could stretch, feel his muscles. He did a few simple katas, trying to find his balance again, working in silence. Jack had curled into fetal position away from him, but he could see her face clearly.
They took a DNA sample. They know she's a girl. Still locked her in here with me. What kind of people do that?
They might just have sent the sample without looking. The fact she's not afraid of me probably counted for something.
She is afraid. Just that whatever she's hiding from ain't here.
No, but she thinks its gonna come to get her.
Not my problem.
She rolled over onto her back. He had a sudden image of what one of those monsters would have done to her. Ripped open that soft belly and sucked up the juices. He closed his eyes.
Gettin' soft, Riddick. Anyway, you got her off the planet. More than anyone ever did for you.
He stretched as high has he could, putting his palms on the ceiling. Lowered them in a sweeping arch that took up nearly all the free space in the room. Felt muscles in his back crack.
No, not more than anyone did for you. You've been saved from monsters a time or two. Even had a girl die for you.
Even had a girl die for you.
Even had a little girl kill for you.
He suddenly wanted go get the fuck away from that little girl, but if she was right, the only place to go was cryo. Made a few more spins, then sat at the small terminal.
Only took about an hour to learn all there was to learn. Ship had valuable cargo. They wanted it delivered. They seemed like good folks; standing orders were to stop for disabled ships, stick the passengers straight in cryo so as not to tax the fuel. But they hadn't because they didn't want his wound to fester.
They'd sent the message burst three days ago. Given where they were, it'd be at least five more days before a return message would come. Best to be off the ship before then, but he could probably hack the systems to intercept. Riskier, but it'd give him a few more days. Might even be able to divert the ship, though he was getting the sense that this thing had far better navigation fail safes than the Hunter-Grazner.
The skiff was in a cargo bay. He could try to repair it. Taking it would give him the best shot not be tracked. This ship had an emergency transport, but it was sure to be tagged. Fix the skiff or take their emergency ship, be far away before the burst came back.
He looked over at the kid. She was out cold. Suddenly it seemed like a really good idea. Been far too long since he'd really slept in a bed, and being unconscious in one just did not count. He slipped in beside her and, out of habit, wrapped his arms around her, pinning her to him. Best way to sleep with someone else, just in case she decided to stab you in the middle of the night. She jerked awake and gave him a wide eyed look. She seemed about to say something, but he was dead asleep before his head hit the pillow.