A/N: So for all of you following The Beast and The Ballerina, don't panic, I'm not giving it up, this was just a one-shot 'cause River kept whining she was sick of being the crazy sweet little girl, and even Riddick got sick of the whining so I wrote it down to have some peace. If you want more let me know, if you think I've gone off the deep end and should quit while I'm ahead please please tell me that as well.
Don't owe a thing…just another crazy with voices in her head.
River landed the stolen shuttle five miles outside of the city limits of New Camden on the moon Feros. She calculated she had at least seven hours until the crew of Serenity awoke to find her gone and her note about where they could find the shuttle, but by the time they would be able to return she would be long gone. Simon and the captain would be furious, they would assume she had had another "episode" and head back at full burn needles dripping with poison.
The truth of the matter was though River hadn't had an "episode" since Miranda, not having several thousand silently screaming voices in her head had made it possible for her to distinguish her feelings and thoughts from those of others, and analyze said thoughts to discard the unnecessary and keep the relevant. The Miranda secret had been like a boil on her brain, once popped the pressure release had been nearly instantaneous. Granted she still was not sane, that was not a possibility, they had removed a vital piece of her mind, you couldn't repair something which was missing a piece, but you could reprogram it and rewire it to function. That was what the crew of Serenity and Simon especially would never understand.
She had stopped taking the meds shortly after Miranda, unbeknownst to Simon; she would force the cocktail of pills back up every morning. They had never helped to begin with, only numbing her mind and leaving her even more defenseless to the constant barrage of emotions and thoughts. She had tried to make him understand but he heard nothing she had said in his never ending quest to "fix" his broken Mei-mei. He attributed her recovery to his medications and became even more insistent she remained on them.
The no guns rule still held true unless she was on a job and supervised, if the captain had known about the shiv she carried everywhere strapped to her thigh he probably would have ruptured something. She knew they each loved her and cared for her in their own way, even Jayne had developed a begrudging respect for the girl since Miranda, but none of them trusted her. In a way she could understand that, she was a government trained assassin with behavioral triggers, but understanding it and not being hurt by it were two different things. It had been three years since Miranda, three years of a steady forward progression of improvement and yet still each and every one of them feared her. It was nearly debilitating some days and soul crushing on others, but she had swallowed without complaint as if it all was just another bitter pill, she was done swallowing pills.
River shouldered her duffel after powering down the shuttle, taking in the last bit of Serenity she would see for a very long time, if ever again. Lovingly she ran her fingers across the controls; it had been Inara's shuttle before she had moved into the captain's bunk and still smelled vaguely of incense and perfume. "Goodbye," she said, her voice a barely audible whisper, and abruptly she turned and walked out the hatch locking the door behind her.
Riddick stood inhaling deeply the scent of fresh blood, he dragged his tongue along the blade of his favorite shiv, and the beast purred in pleasure, another merc bites the dust. The streets of New Camden were a dangerous place, and no one would question another dead body in a dark alleyway, he strode confidently out into the busy street, emerging from the shadows and melding instantly with the crowd. He wasn't worried about witnesses either, the people of New Camden had wisely adopted a policy of looking the other way, it was survival not indifference.
Terraforming on the moon had gone badly, couldn't grow shit in the soil so instead sprawling green cities and farms as was originally planned the rock had turned into a cesspool of factories and mines. The cities were slums; the people were hypes and drunks, Feros literally bred crime. It was the kind of rock Riddick felt at home on, where he could move freely without standing out, just another badass on the streets, until some hun dan (bastard) got ballsy and decided to try to fuck with him, then they found out the hard way just exactly who it was they were fucking with.
Electric energy shot through his veins from the rush of the kill, but his steps were steady and purposeful, he still had business tonight, and the fucking greenie merc had made him late, hadn't even been a team, a one man show, and that was just fucking insulting.
It hadn't taken River long to reach the outskirts of the city, proper weapons were the first order of business, having never been allowed to acquire her own while on board Serenity, the only one she had to her name was the shiv she had shaped herself. River knew she didn't need a weapon, anything and everything was a weapon, unconsciously she had calculated at least nine ways to kill with the bent garbage pail lid she had walked by. Most of the shops were closed at this time of night but after an hour or so of picking through random minds River found the name and location of a shop which was opened from sundown to sunrise. It said something about the city itself, that there were gun shops and businesses which only operated at night, it said it was a dangerous place, a place where people didn't ask questions, a good place to hide.
River knew obtaining employment would be difficult, she may have been a killer, but she definitely did not look like one. She had left the silk baby doll dresses aboard Serenity along with the imaginary image of a little girl, and only taken the cargos and tanks she'd worn on jobs. Her treasured shiv was now holstered against her forearm, a visible reminder she was not a helpless little girl, and her hair was tied up and pinned in place with sharpened metal chopsticks. It felt odd so contained and rebelled, strands escaping around her face and neck, but it made her look older, she mentally told it to behave and deal with it. Employment was vital to survival.
Riddick lowered his goggles before walking into the brightly lit shop, a small bell chimed as he pushed open the door. The shop was empty save for its owner, a fat fuck, went by the name Marcos, smelt like whiskey and piss. Riddick slowly approached the counter, purposely allowing his steps to echo through the empty store.
Marcos looked up from a magazine he had been flipping through, and his face paled slightly, Riddick smirked at the sound of an accelerated heart rate and the delicious scent of fear which suddenly spiked from the fucker. Marcos didn't know him, not yet, but he knew when to be afraid, and he had every reason to be. The man had information Riddick wanted, and he was very good at making people talk, pain was a great motivator, and pain was his specialty.
"Can I help you?" The man asked, his eyes darting to what Riddick assumed was a concealed weapon beneath the counter, he made the mental note.
Riddick didn't answer, silence made people uncomfortable, and he wanted Marcos very uncomfortable. He continued walking toward the counter.
"Ain't lookin' for trouble," his eyes darted to the concealed gun again.
Silently, save the pounding of his boots against the concrete floor Riddick reached the counter. His hand shot out grabbing hold of Marcos' greasy hair and slammed his face into the counter top. Blindly Marcos reached for his gun, mistake, man wouldn't have been able to fire it anyway, showed his cards to early. Riddick's free arm reached forward grabbing hold of the barrel of the shotgun and violently wrenched it from the man's grip tossing it carelessly across the floor. "Got words to be had, we can do it easy like and I can be gone, nothing more than a gorram nightmare, or," Riddick's voice was gravelly and full of promise as his free hand went for a shiv. He drew a deep line down the left side of the man's face, a ribbon of crimson flowed freely and he lowered his head to inhale, "we could do this the hard way, hard for you," he smirked, "kinda like it myself," he yanked Marcos head back, "Dong ma (understand me?)
"Dong xi (clearly understand)!" Riddick wrinkled his noise in disgust as the fresh scent of piss permeated his nostrils.
Riddick's head jerked up at the sound of the bell above the door. The girl that walked in smelt earthy and wild, pale skinned and slender, alone and not a trace of fear as her eyes leveled on him. Her head tilted slightly to the side as if she was contemplating something, but she did not speak or alter her gaze.
River tilted her head, the scene before her giving her pause. She reached out into the caramel skinned man's mind, and found much more than a man. A beast raged inside, he was a killer, a predator; it was bred into his bones and blood, FURYAN. The word sliced across her brain, he did not know it but his beast did, though the beast could not name it and so he could not tell the man, what the beast knew was instinct, it was the hunt, it was the smell of fresh blood, the sound of metal claws ripping through flesh. River was not afraid, she was intrigued, the sound of his voice, rough and brutal pulled her back into herself.
"Move along little girl," he growled out, "shop's closed."
"The girl cares nothing for your search for truth and she will neither hinder nor aid, your business is your own, as hers belongs to her." She dismissed the men and continued down the aisle.
"You deaf girl?" He barked infuriated by the little gou shi (shit).
"Negative," she answered absently as she ran her fingers along a matching pair of silver handguns, they would do nicely. "If the girl was auditory impaired she would have not responded at all, the girl has responded and proven she heard the Riddick's statement."
"You know me girl?" He growled momentarily forgetting the fat man, but not releasing his grip.
"Negative as well, the girl has no desire to divulge the nature of her information," she spoke as adjusted a two gun hip holster and slid the handguns into place, yes they would do nicely. "the girl require clips for the Xt-247s."
Marcos blinked unsure of what to make of the progression of his current predicament, he hoped to hell the girl was lying about not hindering. "End of the row, fourth shelf down." He decided being nice to anyone with a gun who wasn't the sadistic hun dan (bastard) gripping his hair was a good idea.
"The girl thanks you, but feels obliged to tell your assistance comes with no repayment, the girl meant what she said."
Riddick growled low his head jerking back down to Marcos, "Hands on the fuckin' counter." He barked and when Marcos complied Riddick drove a shiv through his right hand.
Marcos howled in agony, "Ren ci fo (merciful Buddha)!"
River ignored the man's cries, he was an obstacle to the Riddick and the Riddick made her curious, she wanted to know more, and killing him would earn her no secrets. She cleared the shelf of its available ammo, slamming a full clip into each gun.
Riddick watched the girl move as if he was of no consequence, there was no fear or even apprehension, she had dismissed him as a non threat. The girl was either feng le (insane) or incredibly stupid.
"The girl is neither." She called over her shoulder as her fingers danced over a selection of blades, her mind analyzing and assessing, discarding those too large or off balance, she settled on three, two which were long and curved, shaped to pass across the knuckles, optimal for her fighting style, she tucked these behind her and into her waist band, pulling her tank down to cover them. The third was similar to the one she had shaped, slender, the handle subtly curving away opposite the blade, she discarded her makeshift holster on the floor and slide the semi-matching blades into her boots.
Marcos sobbed beneath Riddick's grip and tried to remove the blade from his right hand with his left. Riddick caught the movement out of the corner of his eyes, and drove other shiv through the man's good hand, pinning it on top of his right, blood spewing from the wound like a fountain, "Didn't tell you to move," He growled out distractedly, still watching the girl as she selected her weapons, she had answered his thoughts as if he had spoken them out loud, he remember her reassuring Marcos she wasn't there to help, when she'd first said it he'd thought it was random, had Marcus been wondering if she was lying?
"Affirmative," River answered as she tossed three grenades and four flash bombs into her duffel, pocketing an extra one of each, she had come to share Jayne's affinity for big bangs.
Riddick smirked, "Tell me Marcos," he said with mock sweetness tightening his grip on the man's hair as he pulled out a modified handgun from the back waistband of his cargos. He slammed it down on the counter in front of the Marcos' eyes, "tell me 'bout the man who sold you two crates of these guns?" A fresh wave of fear rolled over him and he inhaled deeply again.
River's eyes widened and she reverently picked up the empty weapon, "The GT-silencer, affectionately called the hellhound, fingerprint encrypted, serves only one master, will self destruct in the enemy's hand, Alliance special issue, fires armor piercers without a whisper."
Riddick let out a growl, he hadn't even heard the girl approach, and it pissed him off. This close he could really smell her, and he inhaled deeply, he could get drunk off of it he decided and toyed with the idea of trying, after the job was done of 'course.
"Didn't use a name, showed up at the shop one night, lanky fellow, I swear I don't know anything!"
Riddick quirked an eyebrow at the girl standing next to him.
"What motivation does the girl have to help the Riddick?" She asked nonchalantly as she sighted the weapon, "She promised to neither hinder nor aid."
"Could let you walk out of here alive." Riddick growled not used to being denied.
River snorted, "She would like to see him try to dance with the girl."
Riddick barked out a laugh, a sound that frightened Marcos more than the growls. The man was unhinged and the girl was six ways to feng le (insane), and he was beginning to feel woozy from the pain and loss of blood, hopefully soon he would be blissfully unconscious.
River decided she liked the laugh and that was payment enough. "He lies." She switched over into an accent remarkably like Marcos', "Man with the guns made 'im a shitload of coin, ain't interested in burnin' that bridge, don't matter what you shiv, money'll buy it back."
Riddick smiled, it was dark and full of violence, River decided she liked that too. "Is that so?"
"Ain't no way she could know that. Feng le girl could be makin' it all up!" Marcos sobbed.
"Girl is not crazy." River shot Marcos a dark look, tilting her head to the side, her eyes glazed over, and once again perfecting Marco's accent she spoke, "Man likes his creds, likes his coins, buys 'im 'lil sweet things, buys 'im the drugs to make 'em do as he wants, ain't nothing but 'lil sweet dollies to 'im, likes to make the sweet things hurt, likes to see 'em in pain." River shuddered as she shook himself free.
Riddick stared at her in awe.
"Ruttin lying bitch! Biao zi (whore)!" Marcos screeched.
Riddick sensed the girl's sudden flash of anger, and in response he snapped one of Marcos' fingers. "Watch your fuckin' mouth." He growled.
River found herself unexplainably pleased by the Riddick's violent reaction to the attack on her purity and chose to reward him, "The man you seek is called Balder, Leon Balder, stole the crates from your employer, greedy grubby hands tired of taking orders, too bad he is not as wise as his master. Arrogance tells him he is, thinks the boss will never suspect, not from him, he's been a good dog all theses years, never left town, hiding his head in the sand in the Easttown Projects, apartment number D6."
Marcos' sobbed, he was fucked.
Riddick smirked, his gaze drifting to the sobbing man, "Lied to me."
River knew what was coming and had no desire to witness it, she had planned on paying for her weapons but since it now seemed as if the man would no longer have a use for credits she walked away to collect her duffel, and fighting the urge to stay and learn more of the Riddick, she turned to exit the shop. Objective one had been completed, employment was imperative to survival, and she was down to three hours, forty-seven minutes, and nineteen seconds until Zoe's estimated time of awakening and her absence made known.
"Where you goin' girl?" his voice was laced with amusement at the fact she had actually thought he was just going to let her walk away, no, the beast was far from satisfied.
"The girl does not wish to watch you disembowel the liar, she is behind schedule, employment and/or transport must be obtained before her time expires and it has been discovered the bird has left the nest."
"Got a ship," Riddick remarked causally as he yanked one of the shivs out of Marcos' hands, distracted momentarily but the fresh flow of blood.
River cocked her head to the side and reached into the Riddick's mind, it was so different, two voices spoke as one, symbiotic, one voice, a man's, gravelly rough, forever laced with amusement as if the world was his to play with. The other, animalistic, it was raw power, flashes of emotion and color it could not see twisting together. There was anticipation for the kill the beast was expecting, the blood tickled it's hunger, left it wanting more, there was amusement and curiosity swirling around the girl, she internally blushed as she deciphered his last thought, years of perfecting the blank stare keeping her from revealing herself. There was no anger or hostility towards her, neither the beast nor the man had any desire to cause her harm, in fact it was quite the opposite.
"The girl will be waiting outside." She answered, and calling over her shoulder as she opened the door, "The Riddick would be wise to blind the watchers."
Riddick watched the girl walk away, she'd covered it well, but he'd heard the change in her heartbeat, the quickening of blood through her veins, he usually didn't play well with others but he had a feeling he just might enjoy playin' with that one. "Lucky day Marcos, was gonna make it long and drawn out," He took the shiv he had pulled from Marcos' hands, and yanked back on the man's head, pressing the steel, warmed by blood against his jugular and leaned in close, savoring the moment, "Got a pretty little thing waitin' on me." A thin ribbon of blood bloomed from the man's throat, "would have killed ya if you told me the truth straight off, ain't personal, just business." Riddick informed the dying man as he yanked his other shiv free, and collected the shot gun he had tossed aside before. He hoped over the counter and blew the main recorder device to bits.
River found the tinkling of the bell absurdly ridiculous as the Riddick exited the store. "The Riddick still has a job to complete, the girl will wait there," she pointed to a bar down the street.
Riddick grunted, he didn't really have any desire to leave the girl at all, but he had a job to finish, and payment to collect.
"The girl will assume the noise was an affirmative, she must be off world before her advantage expires, the Riddick has three hours, forty-four minutes, and eleven seconds."
"Ain't need but one," he said, smirking as he turned on his heel and took off at a run.
River snorted at his back, then turned to find out what kind of whiskey the moon had to offer, yet another affinity of Jayne's she had picked up.
River had chosen a booth tucked away in the back corner with a good view of the entrance, a three finger glass of whiskey sitting before her. She sipped it slowly savoring every drop of the dark amber liquid, she liked the way it burned, the warm sensation when it settled in her stomach. The Riddick had five minutes and twenty three seconds before his hour was up, and well she waited she contemplated the wisdom of her decision to secure passage with him.
The Riddick knew how to find work, which meant coin and survival, he knew how to kill and he did it well, she would not be the protector any longer, but an equal in combat, he was a partner who could keep up with the steps of the dance. More than anything though, the reason she had accepted was the Riddick did not fear her, not even after he'd realized she could read his mind. He'd accepted it and not diverted from his plan nor tried to conceal his intentions. He saw power where the others had seen insanity.
The Riddick now had three minutes and twelve seconds, she took another sip from her glass, and rolled her eyes as she felt the approach and intention of a highly intoxicated male. The man arrogantly slid into the booth next to her. She crinkled her nose at the odor which accompanied him.
"Hey there pretty lady, whatcha doin' in a place like this?"
River leveled her gaze on the man, "The girl has no desire to mate with a less than desirable specimen, please and thank you be on your way."
The man, whose name she learned from his mind was Matthew, "Ain't no need to be rude, just saw you sittin' all alone like, ain't seen you in here 'fore thought I could buy you another one of those." He tilted his glass clinking the edge with River's nearly empty one.
"The girl has credits of her own, she is thankful for the man's generosity but as she asked please and thank you go away." She glared at him.
"Aw come on baby, we could have a real good time tonight." He ran his fingers along River's arm.
Her glare shifted from the man's face to her arm, infuriated he had the audacity to touch her, "The man has five seconds to remove his fingers from the girl's skin."
Matthew laughed, "Girl you sure are some kind of crazy ain't ya?" His fingers gripped her arm now.
"The girl will not warn you again." Her voice was ice.
"Or what?" He shot back.
"Or I'll break your fucking fingers off one by one." A voice growled from behind them as Riddick's fingers curled around the back of the man's neck, yanking him up and out of the booth, "Don't like what people touch what's mine. Dong ma (understand me)?
"Yeah boss I gets ya," the man stammered out and Riddick released his grip.
"Best be on your way." Riddick continued to growl, while River was positively glowing.
Matthew scrambled to his feet and back to the bar to nurse his wounds with another round.
Riddick slid into the booth next to River, "The Riddick said one hour, he is late by one minute and fifty five seconds." He barked out a laugh. "And also, the Riddick still has blood on his jaw." River did not realize she had committed to her next action until it was too late to turn away, as she wiped the blood off with her thumb.
Riddick audibly purred, echoing the beast's pleasure at the contact, he caught her hand before she could fully withdraw it and holding her gaze he licked the blood from her thumb. "Got a name besides girl?" His voice was gravelly, tinged with amusement as he listened to the rapid increase in her heartbeat, and smelt the subtle change in her scent.
"River," she managed to form a whisper, finding it difficult to form a coherent thought through the sudden and complex shift of her emotions.
"River," Riddick tasted her name on his tongue as he held her gaze and shifting the hold on her wrist he pulled her up from the booth, "ready to kick on?"
River nodded and shouldering her duffle allowed the Riddick to lead her out of the bar, conscious the entire time that he never released her wrist, but of not much else and so she missed the twinkle of greed in the mind of a blue eyed man who watched them exit the bar.
The blue eyed man finished off his drink and tossed a few cred chips onto the bar.
Endnote: Sooooooo, too much? Too far? Does it stay a one shot or do you want more? If you wanna read it, I'll write it.