Disclaimer: I do not own Riddick. If I did, there would be so many more movies and Jack would not have died. I, however, am forced to use this nonprofit means of expressing my idea about this fantastic character. So don't sue me.
A/N: So, there are so many depressing Riddick/Jack fics on here that I decided to write a happy one. This will be a collection of one-shots about how Jack helps Riddick enjoy the little things in life. These will not be in any kind of chronological order, just kind of how they come to me and what I feel like writing about at any given moment. I will always try to tell you Jack's approximate age and the general setting beforehand. In this one Jack is about 16 and she and Riddick are living together in an apartment. So I'm going to shut up now. Enjoy!
"How old are you?"
"How old are you?" Jack repeated, rolling her eyes at the mass murderer sitting across the table from her.
"I don't know," Riddick said, shrugging his massive shoulders and returning his attention to the bowl of stew in front of him.
"How can you not know?" Jack asked, half-convinced he just didn't want to tell her because he was forty or something ancient like that.
"Cryo fucks with people's age, you know that," Riddick replied, looking at her like she was an idiot. Jack mentally smacked herself upside the head. She'd forgotten how long Riddick had actually spent in cryo tubes, not to mention in prison, where she bet birthdays weren't exactly a big deal.
"Well do you know what year you were born in?" Jack asked.
"Nope," Riddick said, shaking his head briefly. "Why the sudden interest, kid?"
"Just curious," Jack replied, shrugging her shoulders. The meal continued in a companionable silence, but internally Jack's mind was churning. She was the type of person that, once she thought of a question, she couldn't rest until it was answered. Now Riddick's age, or lack thereof, was bugging her. It was like a loose tooth she just couldn't help herself from playing with. There would be no relief until she yanked the tooth out by finding the answer to her question.
Jack settled herself in front of the computer and turned on the monitor. The machine itself was out of date, but Jack had personally redone the interior so it ran faster than even the most modern machines. And it was equipped with some of the best hacking programs on the black market, a few of which Jack herself had designed.
Hacking into the intergalactic police database was easy. A few keystrokes later Jack had Riddick's entire file pulled up in front of her. Ignoring the rap sheet of crimes, she looked at the biological information. They had everything from his original eye color (dark grey) to the types of clothes he liked to wear, but under age is simply read 'unable to be calculated.' Jack scowled at the computer screen. How could the police not know his age?
Well, looks like I'm going to have to do this the hard way, Jack grumbled to herself, pulling up all the news stories on Riddick. She ignored the blaring headlines shouting his crimes and instead looked farther back. The earliest entry was a short paragraph concerning a foster home that had gotten shut down because of child abuse. The only reason the story made the news at all was because the guy who was accused turned out to be the cousin-in-law of some second-rate politician on Earth. Richard Riddick was one of the five children take from the home. It said he was taken to the hospital with multiple broken bones and some internal bleeding. The article was dated March15, 1997.
Jack switched over to the medical records. She found the report that corresponded with the article. Scanning through it, Jack felt sick. Riddick had suffered thirty-two broken bones over the course of his life and obviously many beatings.
One of the doctor's comments caught Jack's eye. Dr. Flynn wrote: 'The other children are extremely fearful, especially of males. Richard, however, is not. Indeed, when I visit him he simply stares at me, as if he's trying to peel my skin away and figure out what makes me tick. It is very eerie.'
Dr. Flynn's blood work showed Riddick was about four year old, which meant he had been born in 1993. That made him thirty years old this year. So now in order to find out what his developmental age was all she had to do was add up all the time he spent in cryo and subtract it from his natural age.
That turned out easier said than done. Jack had known Riddick had spent a lot of time in cryo, but she never realized exactly how much and how far it was spread out, between transports to different slams and all the time he had spent on the run. Finally, using a combination of his prison records, rap sheet, and reports of sightings of him, Jack was able to determine that he had been in cryo for a total of about five years.
Now that is a fucking long time, Jack thought to herself, looking over her calculations again to make sure she hadn't made a mistake. Nope, the numbers were sound. So, technically, Riddick was twenty-five years old.
He's a lot younger than I thought he was, Jack thought to herself as she powered down the unit. I wonder if he even knows how long he was in cryo. Probably not. Though he was awake for all of it. Wow. Five years being trapped in a stasis tube with only your mind for company. I'd go crazy.
Jack contemplated that fate as she changed and snuggled into bed. Turning off the light, she stared at the ceiling, thinking about Riddick. The one thing she hadn't been able to find was his actual birthday.
I wonder if he's ever had a birthday party, Jack suddenly thought. She'd spent most of her life on the streets, but she did have faint memories of a birthday cake, candles, and her parents' smiling faces. They had died just after she turned five, so that must have been her fifth birthday. She couldn't remember much, just the overwhelming love she had felt as her parents brought out the cake and sang to her, celebrating the day she had come into this world. It showed her how precious she was to them.
Smiling slightly to herself, Jack drifted off to sleep, a plan forming in her mind.
Richard B. Riddick prided himself on never being surprised by anything. He was an adept study of the human psyche and could read people as if they were open books. He couldn't remember the last time someone had taken him by surprise.
That, however, was before he met Jack. Right out of the box that girl had been surprise after surprise. She was volatile and impulsive and had a wild imagination. She was prone to doing spur of the moment things. You'd think after a year of living with her Riddick would have gotten better at reading her and figuring out what she was going to do. But the evidence to the contrary of this was sitting on the table in front of him as he walked into the kitchen two days later.
"What the hell is this, kid?" Riddick asked, staring at slightly scorched-looking cake covered in vibrant ribbons of frosting sitting on the table.
"Happy birthday, Riddick!" Jack yelled, beaming at the hulking man as she bounded around the table and wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging him tightly. "I made you a cake!"
"I can see that," Riddick rumbled, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. He looked more closely at the confection sitting on the table and saw that the icing sloppily formed the words: "HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY RIDDICK!" The last part of his name was squeezed onto the side of the cake where Jack had obviously run out of room on the top.
"Twenty-five, huh?" Riddick asked, chuckling. "I'm glad you think I'm that young, kid, but…"
"I did the math," Jack protested, scowling up at him, clearly miffed he thought she'd just made shit up. "You were born in 1993. You're technically thirty years old, but with the combination of time you spent in cryo going from slam to slam, escaping, traveling, and dodging mercs, your body is actually only twenty-five."
"Damn kid, how'd you figure that out?" Riddick asked, raising his eyebrows, impressed.
"Hacked into the IPD," Jack replied, shrugging. "Used your med file to figure out your natural age, then used the culmination of your rap sheet, prison records, and sightings list to estimate the how long you spent in cryo, altogether. That, I might add, is a fucking difficult thing to do. You're like a goddamn leaf, only staying in one place 'til the next breeze comes along and sweeps you away to somewhere else."
"Damn, kid, you're getting poetic," Riddick said, chuckling as he ruffled Jack's short brown hair, causing her to stick her tongue out at him. But internally he was touched. The kid had gone through a lot of trouble just to figure some small thing out about him. No one had ever given a damn about that kind of shit before.
"So come on, you gonna sit down or what?" Jack asked, pulling on his hand. Smiling indulgently, Riddick sat down in front of his cake and looked at Jack, raising his eyebrows.
"Now what?" he asked, noticing she carried a box of matches in her hand.
"Now I light the candles and sing to you!" Jack said, striking a match and lighting the one lone, slightly sorry looking candle stuck in the center of the cake. Then she flicked a switch, turning off the lights, and began to sing.
Riddick smiled to himself as he listened to her sing the traditional song in a sweet, melodic voice. Jack was grinning like a fool, her eyes alight with joy. It made Riddick grin in return. It'd been a long time since he'd seen her this happy.
"Now blow out the candle and make a wish!" Jack instructed when she had finished. Riddick rolled his eyes at her, then blew out the candle, concentrating on the only thing that he could think of at the moment. Please, let her away stay this happy. Don't ever let me hurt her.
Jack clapped, laughing. Flicking the lights back on, she removed the candle before it could drip any more wax onto the cake. Riddick reached for a knife to cut the cake, but Jack slapped his hand away.
"The birthday boy doesn't cut his own cake," Jack reprimanded, looking at Riddick sternly, her lips twitching with her effort not to smile. Riddick growled at her, which just made her laugh and grin at him. Grabbing two plates, she cut an enormous slice for Riddick and a much more manageable slice for herself.
"Happy birthday, Riddick," she said, toasting him with her fork as she took her first bite of the cake. Riddick followed suit. The cake was slightly dry and tasted rather strongly of salt, while the frosting was lumpy and had so much sugar in it Riddick could feel the granules crunching between his teeth. It was obvious that Jack had made it herself from scratch.
"God, this is disgusting," Jack said, scowling at her plate. "I'm sorry, Riddick, I thought it was going to turn out better than this. Let me go steal a good one from the store, I'll be right back."
"Don't you dare," Riddick growled, grabbing Jack as she went to dart past him and pulling her firmly against him. "This is the best fucking birthday cake I've ever had in my life and if you try to take it away from me I'll bite your fingers off." Jack grinned shyly at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, snuggling against him. Riddick returned the embrace, briefly burying his face in her hair so he could inhale her scent.
It was as if he could smell it coming off the cake too. He could just picture it, Jack standing in the kitchen, frowning at the recipe, trying to figure out which container was salt and which was sugar, rubbing her nose in concentration and not realizing she had flour all over her hand. It didn't matter what the cake wasn't perfect. He'd eaten way worse things in slam. What mattered was that she actually took the time to make it for him. She had put her heart into that cake, and to Riddick that made it precious.
When they had finished up their portions of the cake (some milk made it slide down the throat easier), Jack quickly cleared away the dished, wrapping the remains of the cake up and sticking it in the cooling unit. Then she turned to Riddick, her face alight with glee.
"Time for presents!" she crowed, running into her bedroom and bounding back out with three wrapped packages in her arms. She set them down in front of Riddick. "Come on, open them! This one first!"
Riddick accepted the bundle she handed him, which was wrapped in what looked like a brown paper bag and some duct tape. Tearing through the paper, his eyebrows shot up when he saw what it was.
A beautiful knife sat in the paper, gleaming at him in the dim light. He picked it up and hefted it, checking the balance. It was almost perfect. The handle fit his hand perfectly. The metal was high quality, but the knife wasn't ornate. The handle was a non-descript black and lacked any elegant tooling. This was a weapon that was meant to be used. It was also very, very expensive.
"Jack…" Riddick said, his voice half question and half warning.
"I didn't pay for it, I swear," Jack hastily assured him. "As a matter of fact, I didn't pay for any of this, so stop your worrying." Riddick knew he should be more worried that she had stolen this stuff, but he couldn't help but feel proud of her. This would not have been easy to nick. The fact that she had braved the danger for him warmed him more than any amount of money could have, even though he was so going to have a talk with her about stealing without telling him.
"This one goes with the knife," Jack said, handing him the next package, wrapped the same way as the first. Riddick opened it and found a sheath for the knife that could easily be attached to either his boot or his belt, wherever he wanted to carry it. The holster was made out of high-quality black leather and fit the knife perfectly.
"Wow, kid, this is awesome," Riddick rumbled, strapping the knife into his boot. "Perfect fit. I've been wanting one of these things forever."
"I know," Jack said, smiling at the convict. Riddick ruffled her hair, returning her smile, letting his eyes show her exactly how much the gift meant to him.
"So, what's in this one?" Riddick asked, picking up the smallest package. He was surprised when Jack blushed.
"It's kinda stupid," she mumbled, looking away from him, the tips of her ears red. Riddick was intrigued and ripped off the paper. Inside lay a small wooden shiv. He stared it, shocked for the second time that night.
"I know it's basically useless, being wood and all," Jack said, her voice slightly higher than normal, like it always did when she was nervous or embarrassed. "But I didn't have enough time make a metal one, and it's okay if you don't like it, it was just kinda a stupid idea, and –"
"Jack," Riddick said, cutting her off. "Shut up." Jack shut up. Riddick lifted the shiv out of the wrappings and looked at it more closely. The wood was pine, the most common wood used by beginners. The carving marks were slightly rough and uneven and it hadn't been sanded so Riddick could feel some of the rough patches where there had been knots in the wood. But for a first shiv, it was damn good work. Riddick felt something rough on the bottom of the hilt.
Turning it, he looked at the words Jack had carved into it: LOVE JACK. The letters were uneven and lopsided and Riddick could see where she had accidently made the bottom line of the L too long so it connected with the O. It was imperfect and flawed, but to Riddick it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Those two words went straight to the heart people said didn't exist and filled it with warmth. Riddick stood and swept Jack into his arms, lifting her off the floor as he held her tightly.
"It's perfect, Jack," he rumbled, hand clenching tightly around her gift. "Thank you." He could feel her smile against his neck as she wrapped her arms around him, returning his tight embrace. He smelled tears, but knew they were tears of happiness. Leaning slightly away so he could see her face, he set her on the floor and wiped away her tears as they laughed together. Kissing her on the forehand, Riddick hugged her again, trying to communicate how much her gift meant to him. Her answering squeeze told him she knew.
"This is the best birthday ever," Riddick told the young woman in his arms, kissing the top of her head, drawing in her scent, the scent of his pack, the only person in the world who had ever loved him. A feeling of deep peace filled him as they stood together, hearts beating as one.
A/N: Well, there you go. I'm not entirely sure if this came out any good, so please review and let me know. Also, I am taking requests/suggestions! What else do you think Jack and Riddick should experience together? The general theme is Jack helping Riddick enjoy/appreciate the little things, but it's kind of open to interpretation. Be warned, there will be little to no angst in these one-shots, so if you're into that kind of thing, sorry to disappoint. These entries will range from so fluffy they will give you cavities to more realistic. Oh, and anyone who's about to leave me a nasty review about how OOC Riddick is, save it. This is how I picture him with Jack. He's not a cold, heartless monster, especially not around her. So anyways, thank you so much for reading and please leave a review/suggestion! Cheers!