Disclaimer: I don’t own Pitch Black or Serenity/Firefly.
Being Simon’s girlfriend had taught Kaylee the basics of medicine, and she used all her knowledge to patch up River once they’d gotten back to camp and Riddick, the murderer, had finally let go of his grip on her and allowed Johns to take him to the ‘detainment facility’ as Johns had decided to call the little room where he’d been keeping him chained up.
Kaylee’s insides turned viciously as she got a better view of the cuts and obvious bite marks scarring River’s body, and the holes in her hands from where the teeth of whatever it was she’d fended off had sunken into her flesh.
Kaylee’s gaze went around them as she bandaged River’s hand, trying to stop the blood from flowing. While River had been biometrically enhanced to heal quicker than the average human, she still feared that the girl would bleed to death before her body could do its work.
Everyone was in an uproar, and they’d dismissed River’s ramblings as the words of a child in shock. They didn’t realize, of course, that River always talked like that--she’d hardly spoken after the crash. So while there was proof that something other than Riddick could be the cause of Zeke’s death and River’s injuries, they stubbornly wanted to put the blame on the murderer.
All except Shazza and Iman.
Maybe it was the fact that she was Zeke’s wife and knew that he wouldn’t go so easily and his body couldn’t have just disappeared as it had, and maybe she’d realized that when Riddick had held River it hadn’t been like a predator his prey--whatever it was, Shazza believed River’s version of the story.
Iman and his Chrislam students had listened to River ramble on and on once Fry and them had arrived, and the Holy Man said that in their Holy Book it spoke of devils that lived within the bowels of the earth, so her words could very well be true.
Paris, Fry and Johns were another story all-together though. They were all only too happy to lay the blame on Riddick, obviously the fear of something else out there was just too much for them to handle.
Paris huddled next to Jack, as if the young boy could defend him.
Fry was arguing with Johns, who’d just come from ‘questioning’ Riddick.
Making sure that everyone else were occupied, she turned her attention on the silent girl before her. “Was it the Great Danes?”
River looked up and nodded silently.
Kaylee’s stomach clenched. “Why didn’t they come out and continue their attack when Riddick got you out of their burrow?”
“Bats hide from the sun.”
Kaylee finished the bandaging and sat back. “They don’t like the sun?” She smiled when River nodded once more. “That’s great! Fry said that they found an abandoned village and that a machine there showed that the suns never set!”
“The suns cannot stay up forever, Kaylee, they would be tired and slowly fade away.” River whispered, hugging her knees to her chest. “The village didn’t decide to just swallow the people whose pain cries in my ears and nips at my fingertips.”
Kaylee’s smile disappeared. “You’re saying that during a certain time the suns will set?”
“When?” Kaylee placed her hands on River’s shoulders. “Do you know when the suns will set next?”
River’s large, dark eyes connected with hers. “I hear them yawning in the heavens.”
Kaylee’s blood ran cold. “I wish Simon were here.” She pulled away, hugging herself. “He’d know what to do—and he’d tend to you better. He’s a doctor.”
“My brother is afraid.” River admitted. “I feel his fear and worry for us. I am his stars and you are his sun, except you will never set or fade away. You are his light, and if his sun doesn’t shine, he fades into black, as do the stars who depend on the moon.”
Kaylee smiled at the poetic words. “So Simon’s the moon?” Her smile grew even larger despite the tears in her eyes. “Oh River, those were such beautiful words. Thank you.”
River looked up at her in surprise. “I speak no beauty, only truth.”
“And that’s what makes it so much more beautiful.” Carefully hugging the other girl, making sure not to hurt her more than she was, Kaylee wiped at her own tears when she finally pulled away. “I know you’re Simon’s Mei-Mei, but I want you to know that I never want to take him from you. He’s the only family you have, and I’d never separate you two, I just want you to be my sister as well so the three of us can be a family.”
River tilted her head in silence, just watching Kaylee. “I need not read the sincerity in your aura, but you are wrong.” Her voice was soft, as was the smile on her face. “Serenity is my family, she is my mother, and her children are my brothers and sisters. You are my Mei-Mei.”
Despite having strictly ordered herself not to cry, new tears fell. She’d needed that acceptance from River to be able to truly give herself to Simon without any guilt. “Thank you, Mei-Mei.”
River gave her one of her rare, truly breathtaking smiles before it turned to a frown and she looked passed Kaylee to Shazza, who sat on the floor by herself, looking at the war-pick in her hands. “Her aura is black and her thoughts scream painfully at me. She misses him and wants to join him.”
Kaylee frowned and took a look behind her at the nearly catatonic woman before returning her attention to her friend. “Suicide?”
River nodded severely. “Speak with her and quiet her thoughts.”
Kaylee nodded and got up, brushing off the back of her overalls, heading towards the silent woman and sitting down next to her.
River slipped away from the others and into the room where they were keeping the creature Riddick chained to the wall. She frowned as she saw this. Riddick was not a creature in a zoo to be kept locked up and away from the others, he was a creature of the wilderness, which needed to be free.
She was surprised that his goggles were gone…but his eyes were closed.
“I see you got passed them.” His voice was dark and husky.
River jumped slightly in surprise, unable to understand how he’d heard her. After the attack she’d taken off her boots and returned to walking around barefoot, so she could be in contact with the planet and could now feel the vibrations of the creatures beneath the surface.
Going shoeless also made her light footsteps impossible to hear.
And yet he’d known she was there.
“Come to tell me of another gap?” He asked, giving a discreet sniff in her direction.
He knew her scent.
That was how he’d known she was in the room.
“The fox knows better than to underestimate the night wolf once again.” She spoke as she went to him and sat down next to his feet. “There will be no salvation unless he pulls the silver from his pocket.”
There was a dark chuckle as he tilted his head downwards towards her voice. “You always talk crazy?”
“Affirmative.” Having heard Jayne call her ‘moonbrain’ and ‘feng le girl’ since he’d met her, her sensitivity to being called ‘crazy’ had died a tragic death. “Once I was to be a prima ballerina, yet now the only dance I know the steps of is death.”
There was silence as he continued to tilt his head towards her. He suddenly turned away. “Yeah, well, you could say that’s the only dance I know too.”
She smiled, enjoying the feeling that he understood her. “This girl wants to thank you for saving her life when the Grim touched her skin and made her bleed.”
Riddick never got the chance to answer because Fry appeared that very moment, the sound of her boots against the metal of the floor giving away her presence immediately--as did her contradictory thoughts.
“River?” Fry asked, slightly uncomfortable yet worried for her. “What are you doing here? He’s dangerous.”
“Wolves run in a pack.” River answered solemnly, hugging her knees to her chest and taking her gaze from Riddick rested it on Fry, who seemed to be genuinely worried for her. “Even the solitary wolf will join or make one of his own, and to his pack be true.”
Fry frowned softly, looking from River to Riddick and back again. “Wolves were honorable creatures, River.”
“Honor comes in different manner shapes, sizes and tastes.” The younger woman responded. “And one is always given the opportunity to redeem ones self.”
And both women knew she wasn’t talking about Riddick.
Fry’s eyes watered slightly before she cleared her throat and nodded to River, turning her eyes on Riddick. “So, where is he?”
Riddick remained silent.
Fry breathed out a breath of impatience before trying once more. “Tell me about the sounds.” She took a step closer towards them. “You told Johns you heard something when River was being attacked.”
Riddick still refused to answer.
Fry closed her eyes in an attempt to control her temper and ran shaky fingers through her hair. “If you don’t talk to me, Johns’ll take another crack at it—at your skull, and while I don’t like you myself, if what River says is true, then we’re going to need to be prepared and need every hand we can get.”
“The stars shine brightly down, shine brightly right before the storm, yet those who watch cannot hear their warning, they need a soothsayer to interpret.”
Fry turned her confused frown on River.
Riddick smirked as he turned his head towards the dark haired woman-child next to him. “She said that she’s been trying to tell you but you just don’t understand. She wants me to tell you about the whispers.”
“What whispers?” Fry asked, frown deepening in belief.
“The ones tellin’ me to go for the sweet spot --just left of the spine, fourth lumbar down.” Riddick’s smile was that of the Grim when death was assured. “The abdominal aorta. What a gusher. Had a cup on his belt, so I used it to catch a little run-off. Metallic taste to it, human blood. Coppery. But if you cut it with peppermint schnapps, that goes away.” He smirked at the disgusted look on Fry’s face. “Course, that’s more for winter. Summertime, I take mine straight.”
River shook her head at the black satisfaction Riddick got from his role as the Boogeyman. She knew that he’d decided that if fear was the only kind of respect he was going to get, he was going to grab some with both hands, but this was not the time to frighten them away.
She turned to Fry. “The night feeds on fear and it amuses him.”
“Thank you.” Surprisingly enough, Fry understood her and turned to glare at Riddick for playing her as a fool. “Why don’t we try the truth now?”
Riddick shook his head with dark amusement. “All of you people are so scared of me--an’ most days, I’d take that as a compliment--but it ain’t me you gotta worry about now.”
Fry gulped and turned to River. “The ‘dogs’?” She asked, referring to the name River had given the creatures.
The younger woman nodded.
Taking in a deep, calming breath, Fry turned her suspicious gaze on Riddick. “Show me your eyes.”
“The eyes are the windows of ones soul.” River quoted something Sheppard Book had once told her before his death at the hands of the Alliance’s Operative.
Riddick snorted, yet it sounded amused.
“Show me, Riddick.” Fry ordered.
Riddick was silent, his eyes closed tighter.
Noticing his muscles tensing as if in anticipation of pain, River tilted her head to the side in curiosity as she stood in a movement so swift it startled both Fry and Riddick—although the latter hid his well.
She was so close to him, could smell the feral, animalistic scent that he gave off, that was purely Riddick. It soothed a part of her that was always in fear, always on the alert. The young woman didn’t hear Fry telling her to back off, that Riddick was dangerous; she didn’t even notice that they were standing in front of each other with only a breath between them.
Once again her fingers made contact with the muscles of his arm, and those eyes flew open, startling her as they connected with hers so violently she forgot to breathe.
Her night wolf had no irises, just huge, black-pool pupils, and from within there was a jewel-like shine.
“Starlight.” She whispered softly, trailing her fingers up his arm and neck, up against his cheekbone to his forehead and down the bridge of his strong nose, all the while her eyes never left his. They were as beautiful and unsettling as a starved jaguar, and the look he was giving her seemed hungry and feral, yet she had no fear. It was as the stare of a wolf in the wilderness, watching her as prey yet not to kill.
Confusion as to what the heat between them meant caused her to remove her fingers from his face and take a step backwards, listening to the rapid beats of her heart and determined to have a serious conversation with Kaylee as to the meaning of this.
“You did this?” Fry’s soft voice cut into the moment, breaking the invisible thread that kept River’s gaze fixed solely on Riddick’s. “To yourself?”
River turned her back on Riddick and suddenly spied his goggles, where Johns must have left them after taking them off.
Riddick’s voice was tense when he finally answered Fry. “Fairly fuckin’ ironic, wouldn’t you say?” He made a sound of displeasure deep within his throat. “Slamlight’s so dim that you go and get your eyeballs taken out and shined up--then you wind up here. Three ass-kick suns.”
Grasping the goggles, River returned to the captive and kept her attention on the task of returning them over his eyes, feeling his gaze suddenly return completely to her, the return of the scorching heat between them, and when she stood on her tip-toes to fix the goggles completely, she felt him nuzzle her hair discreetly, taking in another whiff of her scent.
Blush covering her face, River quickly backed away once the job was done and touched a hand to her burning face, wondering why her body seemed to be overheating.
Riddick smirked at her and then turned to Fry. “Maybe I did do a few people. But not this one. Not this time.” He paused. “I would have killed Lil’ Crazy too if it’d been me.”
Fry glared at him. “Don’t call her that!”
While River was used to being called crazy, she was still shocked and surprised that Fry would defend her.
The blonde took in a deep breath before trying once more. “If you didn’t kill Zeke, where is he? He’s not in the hole. We looked.”
Riddick shook his head in derision. “Look deeper.”
“And beware of the dogs.” River whispered, gaze falling to her bandaged hands. Already she could feel them halfway healed, yet the memory of those jaws coming at her head caused her to go pale and wince.
Fry looked at both of them before giving River a nod and storming out.
The dark haired young woman turned to Riddick. “They will go to the burrow.” She told him. “She doesn’t want to believe, but she will.”
He watched her through his goggles in silent intensity. “Come here.” His voice was dark velvet as it caressed her skin, promising her so many things she couldn’t rightly understand.
“I--I--.” Not understanding what he truly wanted nor why she craved it, River gave up the battle, turned tail, and ran.
“I don’t know what the hell is down there, but it ain’t DOGS!” Fry announced as she, Johns, Iman, Shazza and Jack returned from their investigation of the burrow in which Zeke’s life had been taken.
Kaylee looked up from a now sleeping River. The girl had come distressed to her some hours ago wondering if her ‘system’ wasn’t ‘shutting down’ or at least ‘overheating’ into ‘malfunction’. The mechanic had asked her friend to explain why she was frightened and why she thought she might be ‘malfunctioning’, and when the younger girl had told her in her own way, Kaylee had been glad for the first time since the separation that Simon wasn’t there with them.
He’d have gone insane.
Of all the men River could have found herself attracted to, it just had to have been a sadistic, cold-blooded murderer.
It’d taken an hour or two to explain the laws of attraction to a wide-eyed, childlike River, and while Kaylee wished that she could just tell River to ‘ignore it’, as Simon would have in this situation, Kaylee couldn’t bring herself to do it.
The Academy had stripped everything from River, forcing her mind to be like that of a child, and the fact that River was now showing sexual attraction only proved what Simon had been hoping--she was overcoming their programming and becoming as normal as she could.
And Kaylee wasn’t going to hinder her growth into the woman she would be just because her first attraction was for someone completely unsuitable for her.
Once they were found, Riddick and the others would go their way and River and Kaylee would return with their family. And, hopefully, River would find someone acceptable to have an attraction for and be with.
Not that there were a lot of choices lately on Serenity for her, the only single male just so happened to be the Captain.
Kaylee frowned at that thought. Sure, River was getting closer and closer to Mal each day, and he’d grown even more protective of her than he was of Kaylee herself, but, the Capt’n?
Shaking her head, Kaylee returned her attention to Fry. “What happened, what did you guys find?”
Shazza looked at Kaylee and shivered. While she was doing a lot better after their conversation, she’d still had a haunted look in her eyes when she’d left with the others. Now, that look was replaced with fury. “We found whatever killed me Zeke living under the earth.”
“And the spires are hollow.” Jack let everyone know as if this was a vital point.
Johns had a large frown on his face. Obviously he hated having to admit that Riddick had been right.
Fry turned to Kaylee and her face softened slightly when it fell on a sleeping River, but she returned her attention to the elder Frye. “Remember that thing I asked if you could do for me?”
“The adapting?” Kaylee asked, frowning.
Fry nodded curtly. “I need you to do it sooner than before. We’re moving out. Those things only come out in the dark and according to the chart in the abandoned town, we’ll soon be experiencing a solar eclipse.”
Kaylee’s heart froze, remembering River’s comment about the suns yawning.
“What are we going to do about Riddick?” Paris asked. He’d returned from where he was keeping his stash in time to hear what Fry had to say.
“We do nothing about Riddick.” Johns snapped out.
Shazza turned a glare in his direction. “Riddick didn’t kill Zeke, and believe me, while I don’t like the ratbag scum, I think we’ll need as many able hands on a weapon as we can get if the eclipse catches us unready!”
Johns glared at her, yet seemed to be considering what she said. With a curse, he turned around and stalked away.
“Everyone,” Fry immediately took control of the situation. “Pack only the essentials. We’re moving to the abandoned town, fixing the skiff, and getting the hell outta this planet before we become dog meat.” She turned to Iman. “I need your help to get the battery cells from the ship’s power bay.”
Iman nodded and followed her out.
Everyone hurried to do what they must, and Kaylee turned to a still sleeping River with a sigh, she hadn’t seen the girl rest in a while and really didn’t want to wake her up as yet. River had also told her that when she was healing her body would sometimes put her into somewhat of a self-induced coma to make the healing process quicker.
“Let her sleep for a while longer.”
Looking up, Kaylee was surprised to see Shazza. “Huh?”
“She’s injured.” Shazza pointed out. “Let her sleep a while longer and get her strength up. We’ll all need our strengths.”
Kaylee smiled her thanks and got up, giving a sleeping River another smile before hurriedly going to help the others.
Riddick liked to be alone, he liked having time to think, but right now, he didn’t want to be alone. He wanted her there with him and he wanted to be unchained. There were so many things he could have done unchained to pass the time.
Tilting his head to the side, the murderer thought back to the reaction the animal within him experienced when she touched him, when it’d been able to look at her without the shield the goggles provided.
It’d liked what it’d seen, touched, smelt, and it’d wanted more.
What was it about that waif of a girl that he found so tempting? That made him hard with desire unlike anything he’d ever experienced?
A shadow fell on him but he didn’t look up, knowing who it was by the stench of cheap cologne and sweat. “Found something worse than me, huh?”
“We’re movin’.” Johns announced, hooking his thumbs in his belt. “And I’m just wondering if I shouldn’t lighten the load right now.”
What a coward. How had he gotten caught by the fucker again?
He raised his gaze and met Johns’ full on, letting him know that nothing the blonde could do could frighten or intimidate him. Johns ratcheted his shotgun and aimed it at Riddick’s head.
“Woof, woof.” Riddick mocked, defiant to the very end.
The shotgun exploded, but despite the fact that he was now partially deaf from the magnitude of the sound, Riddick was alive and well. The shotgun had discharged next to his head and blew off his wrist chains.
“Want you to remember this moment, Riddick.” Johns announced, in his superior-than-thou voice. “The way it coulda gone and didn’t.”
His ears were ringing and he was still partially deaf, not to mention thoroughly confused. “Say that again.”
“Here’s the deal,” A muscle in Johns’ cheek jumped. “You work without the chains, without the bit--without the shivs.” He took in a breath. “You help us get off this rock…”
“For what?” Riddick snorted. “The honor of goin’ back to some asshole of a cell?”
“Truth is, Riddick, I’m tired of this head-up shit. I wanna be free of you as much as you wanna be free of me.”
That caught the murderer unawares. “You’d cut me loose?”
“Only if we both get outta this alive. And there may be a way.” He smiled, obviously very proud of himself at the moment, as he offered Riddick his hand to seal the deal.
As he stared at Johns’ outstretched hand, Riddick thought of what he’d do without chains. Two were quite pleasurable. One involved offing Johns as painfully as possible, and the other didn’t have anything to do with pain and everything to do with a pretty lil’ crazy woman with long hair and big, dark eyes.
“My recommendation: do me.” He announced in his brutal honesty. “Don’t take the chance that I’ll get shiv-happy on your wannabe ass.” He looked back up from Johns’s still outstretched hand. “Ghost me, Johns. Would if I were you.”
“If you were me, I’d kill us both.” Johns snorted, talking as if to a child. “C’mon, you wanna sit at the grown-up table or what?”
A beat passed between them before Riddick reached for the still outstretched hand--and grabbed the shotgun with his off-hand. With a blur of movement he’d turned Johns’ weapon against him, and the blonde was looking into the eyes of his own shotgun.
“Want you to remember this moment.” Riddick announced before pumping the shotgun, spitting blue shells all over the other man.
Throwing the now useless weapon on the ground, Riddick turned and walked away, wondering with a smirk where his Lil’ Crazy was.
With the blue sun setting and the yellow and orange ones rising, the survivors set off towards the abandoned settlement. Everyone was taking something or the other, Jack being the only one who only had his breather unit to contend with.
Well, other than River, whom the others hadn’t asked to carry anything considering that she was injured.
Shazza and Kaylee lugged one power cell behind them while Fry and Iman lugged the other. His boys situated themselves around them, singing songs in Arabic and holding whatever couldn’t fit into the sled.
Paris also held onto the bottles of alcohol that hadn’t fit in the over-filled drag-sled that Riddick was pulling.
Kaylee frowned as she watched the murderer pull the undoubtedly heavy thing behind him without O2 or even a breather unit. Her frown turned into a glare as she looked at Johns, who was the reason for this inhumane treatment. Murderer or no murderer Riddick was human, and he was helping them. He should be treated better.
Paris had been arguing with Johns about Riddick’s place in the group, and Iman had stood up for the murderer, saying that they should at least give him a breather unit. Kaylee—and surprisingly enough Shazza—had echoed their agreement, yet Johns wouldn’t listen to them.
Kaylee was getting rapidly annoyed with him, which was something, because Kaylee had the patience of saints.
The young mechanic watched as one of Paris’ beloved bottles fell from his arms. Trailing, Riddick picked it up, causing the little man to stop his quick dash to grab it and straighten up, his frail little hand shooting out.
“Paris P. Ogilvie.” He introduced himself shakily. “Antiquities dealer, entrepreneur.”
Surprisingly enough, Riddick shook the much smaller man’s hand. “Richard B. Riddick. Escaped convict, murderer.”
Paris’ eyes widened.
Instead of giving the man back his precious bottle, Riddick opened it and took a long drink while Paris hurried up to the front of the line once more.
Kaylee shook her head.
At least River liked ‘em with humor.
Talking about River, the girl had been silent the whole time, looking down at her bare feet as they walked. The survivors hadn’t been able to convince her to put her boots back on, and after realizing that they weren’t going to get her to obey them, they’d left her alone. She now kept glancing at the spires around them and then at her feet, as if tracking movement.
Kaylee shivered, guessing that River probably was tracking the movements of the creatures below them.
River’s head jerked up and she turned to look at a set of spires close to them and stopped walking. Minutes afterwards a slightly crumbling sound emitted from the spires, confirming the fact that River could sense the creatures and their movements.
That’ll come in handy. Kaylee was sure of it.
She noticed Riddick, who was a little behind the others, keeping his goggled gaze on her preoccupied Mei-Mei, and that he too had realized that she could sense the ‘dogs’.
That wasn’t good.
That wasn’t good at all.
River tilted her head to the side as she wandered away from the group at the skiff. Kaylee had been put to work immediately in the batter bay, adapting the power cell to the skiff’s older electrical system. Shazza and Fry were helping her with that they could, and since River knew nothing of mechanics--and they were all thinking too loudly--she’d wandered off.
The sand beneath her feet was hot and harsh, yet she felt connected with the planet on a level she’d never been before anywhere else--not even on Miranda--whose secret was one of the main reasons she’d gone insane in the first place.
Feeling a shift beneath her, River paused, hearing their scuffles, sensing their anxiety, their hunger.
It was unnerving how Reaver-like they were in behavior, yet these had never been human. The Alliance had created these things, to defend their cities yet as with Pax, everything had turned against them.
Everything the Alliance created turned against them…
…Just like River herself.
Entering one of the buildings, River ran her hands over every surface, seeing brief glimpses of the memories the building contained. She was in the communication center, but the comms had been destroyed so communication with the outside planets was impossible.
Still, she turned one of the knobs and was surprised to see the screen flicker to life, showing a prerecorded tape with songs and half-naked women dancing provocatively.
“Trying to learn other dance moves?”
River jerked her gaze from the screen and turned to see Riddick in the doorway, leaning on the doorframe, muscled arms folded over his chest, head tilted slightly, gaze fixed solely on her. She once again felt her heart rate exceed norm and her pulse skyrocket, but this time it brought her curiosity and not fear.
Now she knew this was a normal chemical reaction between a woman and male of breeding age. This was what Simon and Kaylee felt whenever they were in the same room.
No wonder Simon had been such a boob around Kaylee the first couple of months…the feeling could make anyone act like an idiot.
“Why so silent?” Riddick chuckled as he pushed away from the doorframe and slowly stalked towards her like a wolf stalked his prey. “Afraid of being away from the others and alone with a monster like me?” He was before her now, gazing down at her through his dark goggles, just daring her to make a run for it now that he was free and could give a chase.
River frowned and stood her ground, tilting her head back so she could look up into his face. “Negative.”
His smile was a purely dark thing to behold, and when his hand reached out and he threaded his fingers through her wild hair, River shivered, closing her eyes at the pleasurable sensation.
The video continued to play in the background.
“Who are you, Lil’ Crazy?” He asked, voice deepening as his other hand wrapped around her waist and pulled her flush against his larger, rock-hard body. Riddick buried his face in her hair once more, inhaling her scent and kneading her flesh with his fingers.
River whimpered, sensations attacking her with ferocity as his mouth found her neck. She gripped the front of his shirt and closed her eyes tighter as his hands traveled the length of her back, caressing her as if he had every right to, as if she was his the way Kaylee was Simon’s.
Should she fight him? Should she surrender?
River momentarily forgot how to think when he tore his mouth from her throat and claimed her lips in a scorching kiss that had that coiling sensation in her stomach become nearly painful.
What was proper in these situations?
The Academy had taught her to become the deadliest weapon in the universes but never had they considered the topic of intimacy an issue…and Simon hadn’t either…so River was confused as to if they were going too fast or if this was a normal step once mutual attraction was confirmed.
It was only when she felt him hook his thumbs into the waistband of her pants and begin to ease it down that she pushed away violently.
That, she knew, didn’t happen right away.
It’d taken months for Simon and Kaylee to see each other’s flesh and become one.
She knew because she’d been hidden and had watched the whole thing when it’d finally happened.
River glared up at Riddick, despite the fact that she was flushed with pleasure and her lips swollen from his attentions.
He gave a throaty, yet slightly pained chuckle. “Trying to torture me, Lil’ Crazy?” He took a step towards her and she took one backwards. “You’re doin’ a helluva better job than Johns.”
Suddenly a commercial began, and River paled, turning to the screen and watching the monstrous octopus as the morbid song continued to play. In her head she screamed for someone to turn it off before the subliminal message could be finished and once more trigger her as it had in the past, but it was too late.
Turning her now cold eyes on Riddick, River grabbed a chair and swung it at him.
They’d gotten the skiff up and running with enough energy to do a system-check, but had decided that they’d need four more power cells to actually launch the skiff. While Shazza had stayed behind to work on a solar sand-cat they’d found out back so they could go back to the crash site to get the cells and come back to the skiff in the vehicle, Kaylee had become uneasy at the fact that Riddick was missing, and that so was River.
Normally she knew River could take down anything or anyone, but this was a confused River with her first crush, so Kaylee decided to go find her friend and make sure that Riddick wasn’t taking advantage of her.
He was interested in River--that much was obvious. It would have been so much easier on Kaylee if he hadn’t.
Kaylee was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t realize she’d gone a good distance from the others until she heard something crash and a curse.
Recognizing Riddick’s voice, she hurried into the building without a second thought and froze at what she saw.
River and Riddick moved with such speed and accuracy, grace and deadliness, it was like a dance. At first Kaylee was frightened of what Riddick could have done to have River attacking him with such ferocity, but then she recognized the sound in the background and her eyes widened in horror as she remembered the commercial whose subliminal message had been played some years back to trigger River and help the Alliance’s Operative discover where she was and whom she was traveling.
Kaylee looked from the screen to River and Riddick once more, trying desperately to remember the phrase Simon had used to put River to sleep when she’d attacked the patrons at the bar they’d gone to meet Fanty and Mingo in.
All the while, as she desperately searched her brain for the phrase, Kaylee’s eyes were on the battling duo.
Not even Jayne—their best fighter—had been able to hold up against the 90-pound girl, and yet Riddick dodged her movements with fluidness and managed to push her against the wall a time or two. And despite the fact that she’d landed a good amount of punches and kicks, the murderer seemed to be enjoying the fight as he ducked and kicked at her feet, narrowly sending her on her ass.
Never had anyone been able to keep up with River like this in hand-to-hand combat.
“If this is your way or telling me I shouldn’t kiss you again, you’re going about it all the wrong way.” He smirked as he raised his hand and shielded his head from the chair she smashed against him, only to land a kick on her stomach and send her across the room. Following her so quickly he was only a blur, Riddick had her pinned against the wall, burying his nose in the section of skin behind her ear, keeping her there despite her attempts to dislodge him. “You’re just making me want you more.”
Suddenly remembering the phrase, Kaylee cried it out and immediately River’s eyes rolled in the back of her head and she fell unconscious into Riddick’s surprised arms.
Ignoring the murderer, Kaylee rushed to the screen and turned it off, silencing the commercial. “Damn Alliance and their damned subliminal messages! Why can’t they just leave River alone?! Who would have thought that this planet would still be able to receive this material?” She kicked at a broken chair. “How could this have reached here? According to Fry the last time anyone lived here was 60 years ago, but that message, that message is only two years old.”
She couldn’t understand it. Had someone come to this place and left it there just in case River came here?
“You might wanna be explainin’ why the Alliance would go to all the trouble for a little creature like River.” Riddick’s voice was deep darkness. “And while you’re at it, you’ll be telling me how she knows all the moves of an Alliance Operative.”
Kaylee paled, having forgotten that she wasn’t alone there. Turning to Riddick she was surprised to see that he held the unconscious River in his arms easily despite the fact that he’d been injured somewhat by the fight. “I--errr--.” She paused and frowned at him. “How do you know the moves of an Alliance Operative?”
“Let’s just say the people I murdered, the people I’m being sent to the slam for, weren’t civilians.”
Kaylee’s eyes widened. “You’re a browncoat, like us!”
He scowled at her, shifting River’s weight in his arms. “I didn’t fight in any fuckin’ war if that’s what you’re saying.” He growled. “I jus’ don’t like no one telling me what I can or can’t do or how I can or can’t live my life. I’m my own law.”
Kaylee wasn’t insulted by him or his mannerisms; she’d spent too much time with Jayne to be. And she couldn’t help but begin to see him in a totally different light. Maybe River didn’t have the worst of taste after all.
“So, if Lil’ Crazy isn’t a damned Operative, what the hell is she?”
Kaylee looked up at the one man who might just become their greatest ally on this planet. “It’s a long story.”
He snorted, going to the only chair that wasn’t broken and sitting down. “It’s not like we have anything else to do.” He arranged River on his lap with a dark frown. “Why the hell isn’t she waking up?”
“She’ll be out for a while. It happens whenever she’s un-triggered. She’ll wake up soon though, and a lot rested than if she’d gone to sleep under normal circumstances.”
“So this isn’t the first time she’s done this.” Riddick commented.
Kaylee shook her head. “No, they’ve used that same commercial to find her two years ago.” Apparently she’d decided to tell him, to trust the murderer of Alliance Operatives, and as Kaylee sat on the ground, the mechanic hoped that she’d made the right decision.
“…And for this, our gift of drink, we give thanks in the name of our prophet Muhammad, peace be unto him, and to our Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and to His father, Allah the Compassionate and the Merciful.” With that, Iman was the first to drink of the water they’d collected.
“The strangest religion…”Paris murmured to himself as he too drank of the water provided.
Shazza shook her head at the small man and gave Iman a small smile. While the death of Zeke loomed over her head, she knew that she had to be strong, she had to survive, and that life went on. For now she would be happy that they’d found life-sustaining water, a skiff to take them out of this hell hole before the solar eclipse, and that she’d gotten the sand-cat to work so they could go back and get the remaining power cells they would need to get the skiff up and running.
She looked around the room and wondered where Kaylee, little River, and Riddick were. She also noticed that one of Iman’s disciples, Ali, was missing as well. They should be here, they all needed water as much as the rest of them--although Johns would be sure to say that Riddick wasn’t human thus didn’t need water as the rest of them did.
“Perhaps we should toast to our hosts.” Paris’ voice broke into her thoughts. “What were they anyway? Miners?”
“Geologists.” Shazza answered without a second thought, refilling her glass. “Advance team, they move around from rock to rock.”
“Musta crapped out here, huh?” Johns snorted, throwing his head back and emptying the glass in one shot.
“But why did they leave their ship?” Jack asked innocently.
There was silence since it was a question that’d bothered them all since the discovery of the skiff, and they had chosen not to dwell on it to keep their peace of mind.
Yet the child had unknowingly opened the damn, and now they would have to reassure him somehow.
Surprisingly enough, it was Johns who offered an answer to the young boy. “Well, it’s only a skiff. Disposable, really.”
“Like an emergency life-raft, right?” Paris asked, sounding like he was trying to reassure himself more than Jack.
“Sure.” Shazza put in for the kid’s sake. She’d never had children with Zeke, and now more than ever she was glad she hadn’t (they’d be stuck in this horrible situation) and saddened (because she had nothing to remember her husband by). “Coulda had a real drop-ship take them off-planet. Long gone.”
Jack smiled, obviously content to believe them.
“Has anyone seen the little one?” Iman suddenly asked, looking around with a frown on his face. “Ali?”
Shazza, who’d noticed the boy’s disappearance long ago, was surprised that Iman had realized he was there.
“I haven’t seen him.” Fry spoke up, looking around the room as if the child was hiding under a table.
“They all look alike to me.” Johns shrugged, reaching for more water.
Jack cleared his throat. “When I left him he was heading towards the Coring Room.”
Iman frowned. “I told him not to stray! It is a dangerous path we lead! Eve fell into the serpent’s snare because she separated from Adam and wandered on her own!” He turned and in left the room, worry etched into his every movement.
Shazza watched as the other two disciples ran out after him. “Maybe we should all go have a look. Some of these buildings have been locked up since the last settlers, they’d be dark, perfect hiding places for those damned dogs.”
For some reason they had all gotten to calling the creatures ‘dogs’ like River despite the fact that according to Fry, they looked nothing like dogs.
The docking pilot jerked her head up at that. “You’re right. Let’s go.”
Shazza nodded and both women hurried to catch up with the Chrislams, Jack at their heels.
They exited the building in time to hear the boy’s scream.
Riddick noticed Kaylee’s head jerk up when the scream filled the air but he honestly didn’t care what was happening to the others. He had a lot on his mind with all the information she’d told him about the deceptively innocent-looking girl sleeping in his arms.
She wasn’t normal.
She was a weapon, trained to kill accurately and emotionlessly…
…And damned if he hadn’t wanted her more after that fight.
The woman was his equal in ways no one else had ever come close to being.
“That sounded like Ali.” Kaylee’s face was distressed. A pretty face like that shouldn’t be distressed. “Maybe we should go and see if there’s trouble.”
Giving her a look that said ‘go if you want, I ain’t holding you back’, Riddick stayed put. He could see that his attitude irritated the obviously sensitive woman but he honestly didn’t care if anything happened to the others and didn’t see why he should.
“Oh!” Kaylee threw her hands up in female annoyance, amusing Riddick greatly. “If it were us in trouble you’d want the others to come and help, wouldn’t you?”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “If it was me, I wouldn’t need their help.” He informed her quite seriously.
Kaylee glared at him.
Riddick looked at her coolly, turning to look down at River when she murmured something in her sleep and curled tighter against him. Usually, he’d have been smug, yet his muscles tensed and a muscle jerked in his cheek.
“Who is Simon?” He asked, looking up at River’s cousin.
He hated this, hated the fact that he actually cared that she thought he was another man when she curled into his heat. Why should he care if the crazy bitch had someone she loved and was used to being with? Why should he give a fuck that one of the men on that ship of theirs was most probably bedding her?
Riddick’s animal snarled angrily with an emotion he didn’t know or even recognized.
“Her brother.” Kaylee’s voice was even and unafraid; obviously she hadn’t noticed the anger within him.
And all of a sudden all was well again.
Apparently this little woman was getting under his skin.
“The doc who saved her.” He said more than asked, remembering that part of the story.
“Yes.” Kaylee nodded, eyes out of the windows and out into the street. “Please, we should go see--.”
River jerked up from Riddick’s hold with a blood-curdling scream as she flung herself away from them and rushed towards the darkest corner of the room, huddling against the floor, shaking back and forth, murmuring incoherencies.
She was completely insane at the moment, and yet so beautiful in a way Riddick couldn’t even understand.
“River?” Kaylee cried, going towards her yet not daring to touch.
“He’s frightened, hiding and running from the flapping of wings that follow him like an un-waking nightmare.” River’s eyes were wide, as if in a trance, seeing things they couldn’t see. “Ya Allah! Ya Allah!” She wrapped her arms around herself, rocking back and forth. “They circle him like the Grim and touch his skin, making him bleed and cry. Audhu billah! He ducks for the darkness, shivering, pained, hearing them outside…hearing them above.” She tilted her head up and her eyes trailed over the ceiling as if seeing what he saw, fear darkening her eyes, yet it was a fear not her own. “They uncurl and descend like a wave of darkness upon him. Ya Allah! There is pain as the Grim takes him for his own, and then, there is…nothing.”
On her knees next to River, Kaylee cried into her hands. “Ali…”
“If Johns realizes what she is, he’ll turn her in without blinking an eye.” Riddick told Kaylee, shocking her out of her tears. “Can you keep her un-crazy and quiet until we get the hell off this rock?”
She wiped at her eyes viciously, standing on his shaky feet. “I—I don’t know--but I’ll try.”
“Do it, you don’t want that merc realizing the woman has a price over her head that’s larger than mine.”
“Merc?” Kaylee blinked in surprise. “He’s a mercenary?!”
“’Course.” Riddick snorted at her reaction. “Why? Did he tell everyone he was an enforcer?” When she nodded numbly, he shook his head. “Did he show a badge or were you all just a bunch of trusting idiots?”
Kaylee winced. “Trusting idiots.” She sighed, getting control over her emotions better now that she had something to concentrate on. “And I should know better after all we’ve been through on Serenity.” She closed her eyes and breathed in before turning to River, who’d gone silent, staring off into space. “River? Mei-Mei?”
Those dark orbs rose to Kaylee immediately. “It didn’t hurt long.” She whispered, obviously trying to comfort the other girl despite the fact that she’d had to see it herself. “When subject to a certain amount of pain the body goes numb and feels nothing. I know—I felt it.”
Kaylee tried to give her a thankful smile but it was pitiful. “C’mon, you more than any of us know why we shouldn’t be away from the others.”
River looked at the hand she offered as if expecting it to bite her before timidly grasping it and allowing the other girl to pull her up.
Riddick admired River’s cool attitude, the way she pulled herself together rapidly and once again seemed the confident woman who’d caught his attention the moment he’d inhaled her heavenly scent.
“We must attend the service.” River told them before letting go of Kaylee’s hand and walking out the door with the grace of a dancer.
Riddick smirked as he watched her body from behind and soon joined her, vaguely noticing when Kaylee hurried to catch up with them.
“Why was the door chained up?” Shazza asked as they stood in the Coring Room. “Why the bloody hell would they lock themselves in like that?”
Iman had had a prayer service in which most had attended, yet when he and the other Chrislams ventured off into a more private farewell service, only Paris and Jack remained to offer their respects.
The rest of them were in the Coring Room, where Ali’s body had been discovered.
“Not sure,” Johns looked out at those still at the farewell service. “But tell you what: those Chrislams better not be diggin’ another grave out there.”
Kaylee gave the law enforcer an ugly glare.
Shazza could understand. A child had just been killed and Johns was acting really cold about it.
“ Other buildings weren’t secure,” Riddick announced from where he stood next to a silent and unusually pale River. Everyone turned to look at him, waiting for him to continue, and surprisingly enough he did. “…So they ran here. Heaviest doors.” He motioned with his chin towards the objects mentioned. “Thought they’d be safe inside, but…” he turned to look down into the shaft. “Someone forgot to lock the back door.”
Shazza joined him at the shaft and looked down at the millions of bones that’d been picked clean and cluttered the landing. She sighed, forcing herself to look at them, forcing herself to accept reality. “So that’s what ‘came of me Zeke.” She whispered, looking up at Riddick in silence before sighing once more. “You really were telling the truth.”
She paused. “You wouldn’t have minded killing him tho’. You were there for a reason.”
“Not necessarily there to kill him.” The murderer’s gaze shifted slightly to the silent girl next to him before speaking. “Just wanted his O-2.” He waited a beat before scoffing. “Though I noticed he tried to ghost my ass when he shot that stranger instead.”
She couldn’t deny it. They’d all been prepared to kill him because of what Johns had told them about Riddick, yet the murderer was amongst them and Shazza couldn’t help but see him in a different light now that she was a hundred percent sure that he hadn’t killed her husband. On the contrary, instead of taking a life he’d saved one.
It was time that someone recognized that.
Taking off her breather, Shazza handed it to Riddick. “Take it.”
He looked at it suspiciously. “What, it’s broken?”
She smirked. “Startin’ to acclimatize, anyhow.” Shazza shook it a little. “Take it.”
Riddick accepted it awkwardly, sucking down his first gulp of pure O-2.
Feeling something, Shazza turned and noticed Johns glaring at her. Obviously he’d watched the exchange closely and didn’t like the idea of Riddick being promoted in their sights from a murderer who should be killed on sight--to a beast of heavy-labor--to an oxygen-breathing human.
Too bad for him.
“Today.” Fry whispered and everyone turned to look at her. “I hadn’t realize but seeing the date on that calendar on the wall…today.”
“Today what?” Johns asked, impatient.
“What’s the last day marked on that calendar?”
Kaylee turned to the faded calendar, narrowed her eyes and read the date out loud.
“ So they kept calendars,” Johns frowned. “What off it?”
“Don’t you get it?” Shazza whispered, dread filling her. “They didn’t change the calendar because the next day they were that.” She pointed towards the shaft. “It happened 60 years today.”
Kaylee’s eyes widened in horror as she finally understood. “The eclipse…it’s going to happen today…”
“For, behold, darkness will cover the earth,” River whispered in a soft, eerie voice. “And deep darkness the people…”
For some reason Riddick shot Kaylee a disproving glare and the other girl gave him a ‘what would you have me do?” look.
“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?!” Johns exclaimed as he turned to River. She’d been right about so many things they were beginning to believe her without questioning how she knew those things.
Riddick’s gaze went from Kaylee, to the shaft, to River, and finally to a pale Johns. “Not afraid of the dark, are you?”
Ya Allah: O God!
Audhu billah: I seek refuge in God