10 year separated them, 10 long years as far as he was concerned, 10 years full of pain, suffering and sorrow. 10 years, it seemed more like hundreds. Riddick thought as he watched her thrash around in the bed stuck in the throws of yet another nightmare. Slowly he made his way to her bed and laid down beside her and gently folder her small trembling frame into his large one. Instantly she relaxed in his arms, her breathing evened out as she cuddled up to him. It had been this way every night since they left T2. At first it wasn't to bad, her terrors would wake her up and she would pad barefoot to the cockpit and plop down in the co-pilots chair and watch the stars in front of them, not a word was spoken, but he knew his presence helped calm her. It was during those times he realized he couldn't leave her with the holy man, she had wormed her way into his heart, he also knew that if he did leave her, her night terrors would swallow her whole. He vowed to protect her as his own. His own what he wasn't sure, but his own never the less.

Two years ago before they left New Mecca, while walking down the street after dark she'd been attacked by some alleyway thugs. They had grabbed her from behind and drug her into the alley not two blocks from the holy mans dwelling. She tried to fight back but the five of them ganged up on her. They had hit and kicked her repeatedly in the head and stomach before each one grabbed a limb and held her down. As she continued to struggle against their hold, the last attacker cut the clothes from her body. At that very moment sheer terror ran through her body and she screamed his name.

Back at the house, Riddick sat out on the balcony awaiting her return. He knew it was time to leave, he wanted her with him but he also knew it was her choice to make. He sat there pondering his attachment and protectiveness of her when her blood-curdling scream of his name echoed through the still night air. He jumped from the balcony and raced to her aid, he could smell her fear permeating the air. When he reached the alley where she was being attacked his animal took over. He noticed she had been stripped of her clothes and was being held down by four of five men. The fifth had dropped his pants and was readying himself to use her. Riddick saw red. The poor bastards never knew what hit them. In and instant all five men lay dead around the dank dark alleyway. Jack was in such shock she'd curled herself into a ball against the cold stonewall of a building and cried. He came to her, she cringed away from his touch, not realizing in her state that it was him. He tried to bring her to him but she started to flail at him, her fists hitting his chest repeatedly but doing no harm. He was finally able to gather her broken, bloody, naked body to him and calm her down. "Shhh, Jack you're safe, I've got you," he crooned as he rocked her. He eventually picked her up and took her back to the house. The holy-man was at one of his many meetings so Riddick knew there would be no immediate questions. After she was bathed and dressed, Riddick laid her upon the bed and watched her cry. The entire time he cared for her she didn't fight at all, she had been unnaturally quiet since returning to the house of the holy man. As he stood there and watched her, his heart couldn't take the sounds of despair coming from her so he lay down beside her and gathered her into his arms. From that night on he rarely slept anywhere else. From that night on her nightmare had gotten progressively worse, he knew if she didn't deal with it, it would weight her down forever, but he would never pressure her unless her spirit started to suffer, until then he would just hold her and try to help keep the demons as bay until she was ready to open up to him about what happened.

Today should be a good day he thought as he watched her eat. Today was Jack's 17th birthday. They had been together over 3 years now hopping from one planet to the next out running the mercs on Riddick tail. Jack never complained about there nomadic life style, she trained by his side with a ferocity that not only made his human side proud but his animal side as well. Riddick had watched her change over the last few years, she had become hard and cold to everything around her, everything except him. It seemed as though Jack had become him, if for nothing else than to protect herself from the evil that was out there. As they sat in silence eating breakfast, Riddick placed a small box on the table. She looked at it, a small glimmer of a smile in her eyes. "Happy Birthday Jack" he said as he stood to leave. His fear of her rejection of his gift was unnerving to him so he'd escaped to the cockpit before she had a chance to open it. He hoped she liked it, he wasn't sure what he'd do if she didn't.

She watched him leave, catching the worried look on his face. She knew he'd been worried about her lately, she had a lot going on in her head, a lot of thing to figure out, she knew she needed to confront that night so long ago and tell him what had happened, but she was still ashamed. Somehow she had gotten it into her head that it had been her fault, she knew she need to tell him but she also knew that no matter how worried he was he would never pushed her into talking about all it, he would be there when she was ready. The one thing she did know was that Riddick would always be with her. Jack pulled herself out of her own head and looked at the box and wondered what was inside. Slowly she opened it and found a note.

Jack,

Our lives have been intertwined in one way or another since the first time we met. I don't know what it is that goes through your head but it tears me up knowing you won't confide in me and let me help you. I know I'm not easy to talk to but I'm here for you whenever you need me.

I'm no good with the words or gifts for that matter. I don't have much so I'm giving you the only thing I have left to give.

R.

Jack peered into the box and pulled out a smaller black box. Inside was a heart shaped pendant on a silver chain. As she examined the pendant she noticed it had been engraved, it said "With Love, R." Tears fell down her cheeks as she realized the meaning of his gift, he loved her and was giving her his heart. After her tears had stopped and she'd washed her face, Jack made her way to the cockpit and sat in her chair and just starred at the stars. Her silence made him uncomfortable but he stayed even though he was pretty sure she had rejected his gift. He was surprised when she started talking.

Still looking at the stars she began, "I'm sorry I haven't let you in. I didn't want to be a burden, you have enough to worry about." pausing for a breath she continued before he could speak. "Back on New Mecca, that night, those m...m…men, they caught me off guard. I knew better than to be that careless, you taught me better than that, but I had my head in the clouds and wasn't paying attention." She paused again and gathered her thoughts and pushed through her fears as that night returned to her. "When they were hitting and kicking me, I tried to fight back, I tried not to show my fear but when then held me…held me down" a tear escaped " and cut off my clothes, I felt defeated and ashamed because I didn't fight harder. I felt like it was my fault because I hadn't been paying attention." more tears coursed down her cheeks. Riddick had removed his goggles to look upon her with his shined eyes. "I felt that cause they'd gotten the jump on me that I'd let you down, that you'd be ashamed of me cause you had to save me again, that you'd leave me behind again." Jack dropped her head into her hands as she sobbed harder.

Riddick got up from his chair and crouched before her. "Jack, not once have I ever been ashamed of you or thought you a burden to me. I wanted to keep you with me before we even landed on New Mecca. Baby, you keep me human, you keep my animal at bay. I'd give my life for you if need be." he knew now that she hadn't been rejecting him but trying to protect him, as she always had.

Jack placed her hands on his face, "I just don't want to be without you. I thought that if I distanced myself and kept my problems to myself then I'd be able to stay with you. Apparently I worried myself for nothing huh?"

Riddick gave her one of his rare smiles "Yeah babe, sounds like it." He pulled her up out of her chair and got lost in her eyes and she swam in his, both grinning at one another. Jack took his hand and placed the necklace in it. She turned and lifted her hair. Riddick placed the necklace securely on her neck and turned her around to face him after which he crushed her to him and look her lips with his own. When it became apparent that they needed to breath and broke apart, Riddick hugged her to him and kissed the top of her head, "I love you Jack, don't ever forget it."

Jack snuggled into his chest and held on tight. "I love you too, Riddick, and don't you ever forget it."