A/N: Thanks to everyone who stuck with me through this entire adventure. For now ... I wanted to reaffirm their relationship (I'm leaving Dame Vaako's fate open for now … ). If you are not into slash I suggest you skip this one.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction using characters from the Pitch Black universe. I do not claim any ownership over them or the world of PB/TCoR. This work is solely for entertainment purposes and is not considered canon (not by a long shot).


Riddick stood under the cascading water, relishing the simple pleasure of clean, hot water. His hands were braced against the shower wall and his head hung down as the stream beat down on his aching neck. He'd left Vaako to deal with the more pressing political matters for the time being and had retreated to the temporary sanctuary of Vaako's quarters. The day from hell seemed to be never-ending. He just wanted to push it aside for the moment and relax but his brain wouldn't shut off. Too much had happened. Too much had torn away what defenses he'd built up over years of living by his own rules. Kyra's face wouldn't fade from his vision even when he closed his eyes.

Riddick?

Riddick allowed himself a faint smile. Done jawin' yet, beautiful?

His answer came with a cool draft of air as the door to the shower opened and then shut. He let out a slight groan as strong hands drifted up his back and began to gently massage the knots from his shoulders. He remembered the touch of those hands ... remembered how he'd dreamt of them during the long winter on UV6. He didn't turn, however, he just reveled in the insistent pressure, easing his tense muscles without further agenda.

Have you eaten?

Not really hungry.

Vaako held back the reprimand that floated to the surface of his mind. He continued his massage as the water flowed over them both. When Riddick's back was a little less than a series of solid steel bars, Vaako reached over and took a bar of soap from the shelf insert. He wet it and began to run his hands over Riddick's skin, spreading the lather. Riddick sniffed and turned his head slightly.

"Lavender," Vaako said. Riddick raised an eyebrow. Vaako shrugged. "It will help you relax before you sleep."

Riddick chuckled and Vaako shivered, loving the sound after all the years that had passed. He continued his ministrations. Riddick turned when Vaako's hands urged him to do so and he watched as Vaako's fingers slid across his wet skin with cool efficiency. He tensed when Vaako crouched to run the lather along Riddick's legs, but his lover did nothing more than simply wash away the accumulated sweat and grime of the past few ... days? ... weeks? ... Riddick had lost track of how long it had been since his last true bath.

Riddick opened his eyes at a strange sensation and looked down. Vaako was crouching, gently washing Riddick's feet. It unsettled the Furyan enough to pull his leg back but Vaako only gripped it tighter. He didn't look up because of the water spray, but he spoke softly.

"Let me finish ..." Vaako said.

"Vaako, you don't got ..."

"I would like to ... please?"

Riddick relaxed his leg and let Vaako continue his ministrations. He was surprised to feel how gentle Vaako treated his feet - they were a mess as usual. In their life, the boots they wore were often whatever they could take - which meant limited choice for fit. This resulted in painful blisters and cramped or sprained muscles along arches and ankles. Riddick just pushed the discomfort to the back of his mind and kept an eye out for better fitting footwear. Vaako had never bothered to attend to Riddick's feet previously simply because the man wouldn't allow it. Considering some of the revelations of the past few hours, Riddick felt strangely uneasy about Vaako's attentions. He was used to their more ... aggressive methods of interaction.

Having finished washing Riddick, Vaako opened the door for him while stepping back under the spray himself. Riddick growled but Vaako gave him a nudge toward the door.

"Go. I'll be done in a minute."

Riddick went out, grabbing one of the thick towels Vaako had laid out then abruptly closing his side of the link. Vaako sighed - he had forgotten Riddick's quick mood swings when denied what he wanted, but he didn't have the wherewithal at the moment to argue it. He let his lover stalk out and leaned back to finish his own shower.

When Vaako emerged from the bathroom, he was greeted by the sight of Riddick standing at one of the larger viewports staring out at the stars. The image was not so unusual save for the fact that Riddick was completely naked. He smiled and continued drying himself as he walked into the room. His long hair lay loose against his shoulders, pulled out of its braiding for now.

Riddick did not acknowledge Vaako's presence. Vaako brushed his mind against Riddick's and met with the wall of anger again. He shook his head and began to dress. If Riddick's mood was going to stay black, Vaako intended to work. He was pulling on his boots when Riddick's baritone finally split the silence.

"That it, then?"

"You'll have to be a little more clear, Riddick ... I am a mind-reader, but I have to be able to reach the mind first," Vaako teased, his eyes on the boot still in one hand.

Vaako's entire body froze when he felt a hand immobilizing his neck and Riddick's hot breath against his ear. "Ain't in the mood for jokes, Vaako."

"So I notice," Vaako replied. He'd forgotten how fast Riddick could be.

The pressure disappeared and Riddick moved to drop into another chair across from Vaako. Vaako had to force himself not to stare at the long, muscled frame slouched before him. He toyed with his other boot just to give himself something else to look at ... Riddick remained annoyingly silent. Vaako looked up finally and saw that his lover had not moved nor looked away. Their twin gazes met and then Vaako felt the wall in Riddick's mind slide down and his lover's emotions flowed into his thoughts.

rejectionrejectionrejection

Vaako's eyes widened. His lover was an almost exclusively tactile creature. Emotions, diplomacy, human nuances ... Riddick was long out of practice in the use of anything but the very basics to achieve his goals. Vaako had always been the better of the two of them at the 'soft' skills. Unfortunately, their time apart physically and mentally had left them out of synch with reading one another. Vaako's insistence on taking his shower alone had registered in Riddick's mind as a complete rejection of their physical relationship when in fact, Vaako had simply wanted to finish cleaning up without the distraction Riddick was bound to create.

Vaako toed off his other boot and stood. Riddick followed his movement with his eyes but his body language stayed guarded. Vaako then pulled his soft undershirt back off and lay it neatly over the chair. He suppressed a smile as Riddick's body reacted to the sight of his bare chest. He pulled off his pants again and lay them on top of the shirt. Vaako walked over and stood in front of Riddick, whose arousal was now more than obvious. The sight of it brought on his own hardness.

How's this gonna work, Vaako?

Vaako bit back the initial joke that rose to his lips. Riddick's sudden uncertainty was bothering Vaako, but he thought he knew the reason. There were far too many thoughts racing through the Furyan's mind right now and he was desperate to quiet them. Vaako could sympathize with that and he decided.

Moving quickly to forestall Riddick's protest, Vaako went to his knees in front of his lover and slid his mouth over the man's very hard cock. Riddick's head fell back and he gripped the chair's arms until his knuckles whitened. Vaako traced a line from the base to the tip, relishing the growl he dragged out of Riddick. The next snarl brought a chuckle out of Vaako and suddenly he wasn't kneeling any longer.

Riddick's hands closed on Vaako's shoulders and dragged him upright as his lover stood. His mouth was devoured by Riddick and he was hard pressed not to groan. When Riddick's lips found the hollow at the base of his throat, Vaako lost that particular battle.

Riddick's heat was intoxicating in his mind. He was quickly losing the will to push back as Riddick's teeth and lips roamed over his neck and shoulders. Arousal-darkened eyes met Riddick's and his lover's chuckle dragged a low moan from him. When Riddick flicked his tongue over one of the purification scars, Vaako's hips jerked forward to press against Riddick's. Vaako didn't register being maneuvered toward the bed until he was forcibly thrown down on it.

Before he could move, Vaako felt Riddick's teeth close on the scar he wore in the crook of his shoulder. At the same time, Riddick enveloped Vaako's mind with all the molten desire burning through his own body and Vaako lost all independent thought. He was dimly aware of Riddick moving his limbs but he had no will to aid or resist. His body shuddered with pleasure as Riddick licked his way down Vaako's torso. He saw his hands reaching up to stroke his lover's shaven head but they were easily pushed aside by Riddick. He heard a chuckle but he couldn't tell if it was in his head or aloud. The disassociation with his own body was beginning to make him nervous until Riddick's mouth encircled his cock and dragged teeth gently along its length to the tip. Vaako moaned helplessly and arched his back off the bed.

Still with me, beautiful?

Vaako heard himself replying in the affirmative ... several times, in fact. Then Riddick stretched up to press their bodies together and Vaako instinctively spread his legs to accommodate him. Riddick entered Vaako as he always did – hard and fast. Vaako groaned with the pain but at the same time relished it – his alpha was laying claim to what he deemed was his.

Missed this, Riddick sent, punctuating his thoughts with thrusts. Missed you.

Riddick suddenly fell still and laved over the new bite patterns on Vaako's shoulder, enjoying feeling his lover shiver under him. Vaako's hands moved restlessly over Riddick's back. He met Riddick's eyes, questioning why his lover wasn't moving. Riddick leaned in and kissed him – Vaako felt a surge of emotion behind the kiss. He returned it, not wanting to startle the Furyan out of whatever moment they were in.

Don't know how …fuck …

Vaako found himself on the receiving end of another kiss. Riddick tangled his fingers in Vaako's hair and drew it up to his face. Inhaling deeply, Riddick shuddered. Vaako began to slightly shift his hips, but Riddick pressed down with his pelvis to stop him. Vaako ran his thumbs along Riddick's hipbone instead.

Riddick looked down at Vaako and his eyes registered the same confused anguish he'd shown when Kyra had died. Vaako reached up and pressed his hand against Riddick's face. His lover closed his eyes and leaned against it. He gradually lowered his entire body, face pressed against Vaako's neck. Vaako accepted his lover's weight easily, shifting slightly to distribute it. Riddick still remained hard and inside him, so Vaako was unsure of what he should do. He settled for gently stroking the back of Riddick's neck.

"You went back to them … to this … 'cause you … fuck … don't know how to …"

Vaako smiled, looking up at the dark tiled ceiling of his quarters. He suddenly understood the reason for Riddick's growing unease and he knew the conversation forthcoming had to happen.

I chose this darkness over a life without you in it, Riddick.

"Why … ?" Riddick's normally rough growl was almost plaintive.

Vaako pressed a soft kiss against Riddick's forehead. Because I love you, Riddick.

"Love … what the fuck does that mean anyway …?"

"I'm no more an expert on it than you are, Riddick. I just know that is the only word that … works." Vaako answered aloud, but softly. "I don't expect you to feel the same …"

Riddick raised up, his hand clenching into a fist within Vaako's hair. "That's just it, Vaako … that's just fuckin' it … I do feel the same … never have … never wanted to feel like this …" Riddick shook his head. "Fuckin' all I see is you layin' there … not movin' … like her … "

Vaako grabbed Riddick's chin to force his lover to meet gazes. "I know, Riddick … seeing you on the ground on that runway … not moving … not sending … you have no idea how deeply that hurt ..."

Riddick looked down into Vaako's eyes and the glow within them seemed to waver slightly. Riddick's mouth quirked and Vaako's gaze narrowed.

"Mock me and I will toss your significantly heavy ass off this bed, Riddick." Vaako said, blinking rapidly.

Riddick chuckled and then chuckled again when Vaako shivered. "Not mockin', beautiful. Just never … you an' Kyra … you cried over losin' me?"

"She wept … I had something in my eye …" Vaako clarified.

"Thought so," Riddick replied, driving himself as deeply into Vaako as he could and enjoying watching Vaako's eyes slide shut with a moan. Riddick then leaned down and kissed the mysterious salty moisture from Vaako's eyelashes. "Love you, my beautiful animal."

Riddick abruptly caught Vaako's erection in one tight fist and matched his stroking to the hard thrusts of his hips. Vaako wrapped his legs around Riddick and simply held on until Riddick ground out, "Look … at … me …"

Vaako met his lover's eyes and the link between them seemed to almost solidify. Their minds entwined as easily as their bodies did and Vaako quickly began losing where he ended and Riddick began. Somewhere in the swirl of emotion and thought, it ceased to matter.

The climax appeared in their minds as a wave of brilliant, swirling color that washed over everything, blotting out conscious thought and reducing them to sensation only. When it faded into a soft glow, Vaako ventured to open his eyes slightly. He felt disoriented being back in his physical body again but as feeling returned, he gradually acquainted himself with all his extremities. Riddick lay on his back beside him, powerful chest rising and falling. They lay like that for a long while, sated but not quite to the point of sleep.

Mine … my mate, Riddick sent.

Vaako felt a slight thrill race through him and he suddenly rolled over and straddled Riddick. He looked down at his lover and studied his eyes briefly before diving to the crook of Riddick's shoulder and breaking the skin in a savage bite. Riddick groaned, his body suddenly ready again. Riddick threw them over and began to claim Vaako again even as his mate's mind caressed his own.

My alpha … my mate … always.