Title: One photograph, a thousand words
Email: cdnsam2000 AT yahoo.ca
Summary: More happened after the crash of the Hunter Gratzner than we know. Riddick is not the bad boy he seems and Carolyn did not die that day on T2. She's been searching for Riddick to tell him the truth and when they finally meet, he realizes that he has more than just her survival to deal with.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick and their characters belong to Universal Studios. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Carolyn entered the bar and searched the smoky darkness. Riddick was slumped over a table near the end of the bar with his back to the door. She watched silently as he prepared to pour himself a drink. Obviously he had been there for some time. His hand was unsteady and the neck of the Jack Daniels bottle rattled noisily against the glass. He hesitated, and then leaned back and drained the drink in one swallow. For a brief moment he appeared to contemplate the empty glass in his hand, holding it up and studying its emptiness in the dim light. With a derisive snort, he slammed it back down on the table and reached for the bottle again.
A feminine hand reached over his shoulder and stilled his arm. "Enough" she spoke in a stricken whisper.
He was good. He was very good. He didn't even react. He just stared at her hand on his arm and then poured, this time not even hesitating before tossing it back. Without acknowledging her, Riddick leaned back and growled over his shoulder to the bartender behind the counter.
"Another bottle of Danny and a clean glass." Riddick indicated the single chair directly across from him. "Won't you join me, you know how I hate to drink alone."
All this time Carolyn stood silently behind him, not wanting to speak for fear of - for fear of what? For fear of not knowing how to begin, for fear of not knowing how to say what she had come to say. For the ultimate fear that when he did find out, his anger would be terrible.
Carolyn opened her bag and withdrew a small brown manila envelope. Silently she placed it on the table in front of him and waited. He put down his drink and sat back, his arms folded across his chest. For the longest time neither one moved and then finally Riddick swept up the envelope and unceremoniously dumped out the contents. A letter and two photographs fluttered to the table.
He picked up the letter first. He saw the official seal of the Intergalactic Council stamped on the top. His eyebrows rose as he read the security warning. She must have hacked into something pretty powerful to get this kind of information.
NOTICE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION WITHHELD BY THE DEFENSE PRISONER OF WAR/MISSING PERSONNEL OFFICE (DPMO) FROM THE PRIMARY NEXT OF KIN, OTHER MEMBERS OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY, AND THE PREVIOUSLY DESIGNATED PERSON. A DIRECT CONNECTION OR NEXUS DOES NOT EXIST BETWEEN THE CLASSIFIED INFORMATION AND THE DISAPPEARANCE, WHEREABOUTS, OR STATUS OF A PARTICULAR MISSING PERSON.
Riddick looked up and eyed Carolyn speculatively. When he bent to read the rest of the letter, he was utterly still.
The InterGalactic Council deeply regrets to inform you ..." began the official letter. "Aviation Pilot First Class Richard B. Riddick is missing in action. His shuttle, flying off the IGC Dakota had been destroyed by people unknown, over the planet Tarratin on June 29, 2202.
Due to the necessity for military security it is regretted that the names of those who were in the shuttle and the names and addresses of next of kin may not be furnished at the present time.
It was dated 5 years ago. She had been looking for him for over 5 years. All this time he had been looking for her and she had been looking for him. How ironic.
He looked down and stared at the pictures. One was old and yellow, and the ends curled in towards the centre. Riddick picked it up and studied it in the dim light. He immediately recognized it as the one that Paris had been taken of them that day so long ago, after the crash of the Hunter Gratzner. He claimed he needed the photographic evidence in order to recover his losses. Riddick never had any intention of ever letting Paris use it of course and he had always wondered where that picture had gone.
He put the photograph down and picked up the other. This one was new. It was the picture of a smiling young girl of about 5 or 6 She was beautiful, with glowing caramel coloured skin, dark eyes and long dark hair. Although he was sure they had never met, she looked vaguely familiar and he frowned in an effort to place her. He turned the photo over to search for a clue as to the date the photograph was taken and his eye was drawn to the dedication. There, in an immature scrawl, were written the words "To Mommy , Love, Rikki".
Mommy? Rikki? So Carolyn had a daughter. If Carolyn had a daughter, that must mean she was married. Riddick sat bolt upright in his chair and became very still. A miserable knot of fear formed in his stomach. She was married? - with a daughter? Now he'd never have her. Just what the hell had he expected after all these years anyway. With a slow, self depreciating shake of his head, he slumped in defeat.
Carolyn continued to stare at him without speaking. It wouldn't take him long to figure it out and then he would know. And then he would never want her again for withholding this little bit of information from him from the beginning.
Riddick needed a drink - bad. He reached for the bottle but this time didn't bother to pour. He just brought it to his lips and drank. The raw liquor burned down his throat and took his breath away but he continued to draw.
She felt totally helpless. He had acknowledged her but obviously didn't want to have anything to do with her. If she stayed, she knew he would have a few more drinks, but if she left he would surely drink until he got staggeringly drunk. And he was alone, with no one to watch his back.
"Riddick?" her voice was quivering on the verge of tears, "Please?"
He stopped swallowing at the sound of her voice and the bottle thumped back down on the formica table top. Why hadn't she just come out and told him that she was married. It would have saved them both a lot of time.
"What - " he began and was overtaken by a coughing fit. Tears formed in his eyes as he struggled to get his breath. "What would you like me to say? Why didn't you just tell me at the start?" He turned on her, the tears in his eyes weren't from the coughing, Carolyn knew, and her heart went out to him.
"But I wanted to tell you. I tried to find you but no one would tell me where you were." The hurt came flooding back, and with it came the anger. "I was scared and alone and you just disappeared off the face of the earth. What was I supposed to do?"
"So you were scared and alone and so you just went ahead and got married and had a kid with the first person you met" his voice was dripping with sarcasm and he was breathing hard in his anger.
Carolyn gasped, outraged. Was he accusing her of getting married because she needed a father for their daughter? Hey!.she'd been looking for him for five years, and anyway - she stopped dead. "Whoa - wait a minute, what was it that he said? 'married the first person she'd met?' Carolyn stiffened in shock, suddenly realizing that they were not talking about the same thing. She pulled out the chair directly across from Riddick and sat down. She leaned forward and arranged the pictures so that they were side by side. The one with Riddick in it and then one with Rikki. When she was finished, she sat back and folded her arms over her chest protectively.
"Look at those pictures again and tell me what you see."
Riddick studied the photos again, one at a time. He was confused, he didn't "see" anything. What he "saw" was a picture of the group of them taken some 5 years ago and a picture of a dark haired school girl who looked remarkably like..... Riddicks jaw sagged open. He snatched the picture up from the table and flipped it over to study the inscription again, "Love, Rikki."
"Rikki? What kind of a name is that for a girl?"
"Her name is Richelle, actually. When she was younger and was going through that, um..tomboy phase…," Carolyn bit her lip to keep from smiling at the memory, this wasn't the time or place. "….she decided that she didn't like her name. All of her friends decided that they didn't like sissy names either, so they all kind of adopted boy type names. She absolutely hated Shelly.
One of her friends suggested Eric, she sniffed and said No way was she going to be named after a Viking. Then one day she came home from school and announced that she had chosen a new name - " `Same as my daddy's' she said." Carolyn looked down at Riddick. There was a mixture of hope and sadness in his eyes as he stared back. Her voice fell to just above a whisper, "She told me to call her Rick. Over time, as she got older and discovered how nice it was to be a little girl once in a while. It just kind of evolved into Rikki,
For a minute, Riddick didn't say a word. In a daze he simply stared at Carolyn and didn't move. Then abruptly he stood up, nearly knocking over his chair in the process. He reached out and pulled her toward him, holding her by both arms. He bent to stare into her eyes and his voice held a kind of quiet desperation as he asked, "Is she here? Can I see her?"
All of a sudden Carolyns maternal instincts took over. She was already feeling vulnerable and now she was feeling a little threatened. Had she done the right thing in telling Riddick about his daugher? Rikki was the most important thing in the world to her. Would he hurt her? Carolyn wouldn't see her hurt. Rikki thought her father as a hero. When the two of them were on the move, searching for Riddick, following every lead, Carolyn would quietly tell Rikki stories about him and what he had done, saving not only her life but the lives of two other people on the Hunter Gratzner..
What would she think when she finally uncovered the whole story. It might not happen until she was older, but she was bound to find out. Carolyn, had to risk it. By that time she would love him the same as Carolyn loved him and would understand. Anyway, Riddick had a right to know, dammit, she wanted him to know. She wanted him!
"Where is she? Is she here?" she could hear hope in his voice.
She smiled at him, "Soon." Carolyn whispered as she held out her hand to him.