Title: Closer to Fine
Email: ninja_angel3 AT yahoo.com
Summary: Her life was her vigil. Giving into the darkness would be too easy, and she at least owed them that much. It was all she could give... and it would have to be enough.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black is not mine, it belongs to Universal Pictures, Interscope communications and David Twohy. This story is for entertainment only! (hopefully anyway) The title came from an Indigo Girls song, which helped me to write this little ficlet.
Author's Notes: This story started out as an original fic, which started with the idea of candlelight. It then evolved into this, my first, and likely only Pitch Black fan fiction, so constructive criticism is welcome, but don't be cruel, it won't help to make my writing any better! I know there has been a few different takes on how Carolyn Fry would feel if she had actually survived, and this is my version, and unless you all really want me to continue this, this is also a one shot. Anyway, read on and enjoy.
The candlelight made shadows dance across the wall, steaming water rippled and sweat trickled down the hollow of her throat.
Wax melted across porcelain, bleeding together, the heady smell of burning, vanilla and sulfur was in the air. Aside from the candles the small bathroom was pitch black.
It was strange, that despite everything, the darkness comforted her. It was like everything she lost in the dark was everything she gained. The light was too harsh it showed too much. The night and shadows left room for secrets. The darkness allowed her to ask questions she'd never dare to ask if she could see her reflection in a mirror.
She held her finger over the flame of a thick white candle, letting it burn. She winced but didn't pull her hand away, not until it blistered. She stared at the bubble of liquid under her skin, and then she tugged with her right index finger and broke the skin.
She leaned back and submerged under the water, water lapped over the edge, extinguishing a few of the squatter candles. She opened her eyes against the burn and stared hazily. She saw the remaining candlelightís undulate above water. She wondered how long it would take her to drown if she opened her mouth and drank the water in.
Not for me.
She sat up suddenly, raising her arms to wipe the stinging liquid from her eyes, the rest of the candles went out and all edges disappeared. She moved her hand in front of her face, she knew her hand was there, she just couldn't see it.
Not for me.
It wasn't as if she meant to. Her mind was telling her to get onto that ship, while her body was running back into the dark. Running back for him. Him. A feeling settled into her stomach, a clenching pain she hadn't yet been able to define.
A cool settled over her shoulders, and she tensed, until she remembered she'd left the window open. She reveled in the small relief of cool air that passed over her face; it was almost as if it were a caress...
Her sides ached with phantom pain; the scars had almost faded. It was amazing what medical technology and money could do. They could give a whole new life if you wanted. She had wanted, she'd wanted it so bad she'd been sick with the need. She fell to her knee's, curled in on herself and sobbed in a puddle of her own filth.
But she knew. She knew that even if she had paid for the surgery and flown as far away as she could from everything she'd ever known... she'd still remember. The memories would haunt her. That's why she was still alive. Her life was her vigil. Giving into the darkness would be too easy, and she at least owed them that much. It was all she could give... and it would have to be enough.
She dreamt of them sometimes, not on that planet. Not in their last moments. She dreamt of them without fear, pain or blood. But in a grocery store, the lights so glaring, she had to shade her eyes, turn her face away. Or in a park, with grass spread like an emerald carpet.
Those dreams were the worst because when they laughed, cried, screamed, sang-- prayed she knew they'd never do any of that again.
She stood up suddenly, water rolled off her in rivulets. She reached down and pried a candle off the edge of the bathtub. She grabbed the box of matches from the soap holder, and slipped on the water slick floor.
"Fuck." She cursed as her hip crashed against the counter. She fumbled with the matches and finally pulled one free. She lit the candle on the second try with shaking fingers; she blew out the match just as the fire licked her fingertips. She looked into the mirror and gasped.
"Not for me..."
She spun around, the candle flickered but did not go out. Her foot brushed against the edge of the bath mat and she jumped. She pressed a hand against her heart and stepped onto the terry cloth. She rubbed the soles of her feet against the softness.
She closed her eyes took a deep breath, then opened them. Scanned the bathroom. She was alone.
She let out a breath painfully. She'd been so sure... so certain.
It was only recently that she'd begun to see them, flashed out of the corner of her eyes, always just out of her line of vision...but...
A flash of silver.
She chanced a glance over her shoulder and only saw her own frightened face staring back at her. She cocked her head, frightened... and hopeful. Then she looked down at her fingers, two silver bands, wrapped around her right ring and middle finger. She shook her head and closed her eyes, trying to center herself. Then she reached down and picked up a folded towel from the floor.
She rubbed it through her hair, then wrapped it tightly around her body. She dipped her foot into the tub to unplug the drain, then she wandered over to the window. Street lamps were lit down her street, and she stared out into the night, then out into the stars.
That was when the memories came, or rather, the fragments of memories.
She didn't remember much after being ripped away into the night, except for Riddick's face, as their hands slipped as she grasped to hold on. As he disappeared into the shadow. She remembered the jarring pain, the creatures claws slipped in her skin, tearing deeper, then she was falling. She lay still, the impact had chased all air from her lungs and she was sure she was dead.
Then came the rushing pain, which was slowly replaced by a dull throbbing. She remembered thinking, being dead should hurt more. She blinked, and sucked in a deep breath of air, she cowered, but then... she heard the shrill screams and whoops overhead, and suddenly something wet and warm slopped across her face. She heard the sick squeltch and shrieking, then she knew. She had to get away now, while the rest of the birds were distracted.
She started to crawl, she dug her fingers into the mug and dragged her self along, she had no idea where she was, how far the creature had flown before it had crashed.
How the hell had that happened anyway? She'd wondered that briefly as she knocked her head into the side of something-- perhaps a building. God-dammit. That hurt was the hurt she remembered most clearly. She didn't dwell on her former question long, she didn't want to know why she was alive when the others were dead. She didn't want to be let in on the joke.
What about staying in the light, what about the light?
Carolyn had never thought of herself as particularly lucky-- but then, she'd never considered herself particularly unlucky.
If this is luck... she'd thought darkly, then luck can go fuck itself. She didn't want this luck, she wanted to give it back to Owens, to Shazza, to Hassan.
A scream tore from her throat, she felt blood vesselís rupture; a coppery taste at the back of her throat, she tripped, tore open her shin.
Then finally she turned the corner.
And she was alone. The realization had hit her like a sucker punch to the gut, it was the thing that finally forced her to her knees. Her discarded bottle of Jack Daniels crammed full of the glowing worms lay on the ground. She snagged the bottle with bloody fingers, and a strange calm settled over her. A final sort of calm.
So this is it.
She'd cradled the glowing bottle against her body, and closed her eyes.
She didn't know why she thought they'd come back for her, but somewhere she had hoped. Hoped they'd waited, hoped somehow they'd know that she wasn't dead, that she was coming back...
She'd completely forgotten about the SOS something touched her, she screamed, until the thing gathered her into warm hands. A face out of focus was asking her questions.
"Jack?" She murmured, the young girls face was triggered in her minds eye, "are you sure you're bleeding honey?"
The face kept talking to her.
A warmth, comfort, a blanket was wrapped around her shoulder.
"Imam-- Where the fuck you'd get the blanket?"
She heard gunfire, and the sound of a shrill cry.
"Riddick--" She blurted, "stay in the light," she looked over to the face, "are you afraid of the dark?" She murmured before she passed out.
When she finally came to again, the face was talking to her again. Except this time, it was more than a face, she could see a jaw and lips and a hooked nose, she saw eyes a forehead and red hair.
Carolyn had been sure this was some form of hell. She'd asked where the others were, if Jack was all right. They looked at her with concern, with pity and whispered to each other in low tones. Doctor speak that she couldn't understand.
The Face explained that they'd received a distress call, the Face kept asking all these fucking questions. Then they gave her something that would help her sleep.
"You're just a face." Carolyn murmured as she slipped into drug induced oblivion.
"Just a face..." Carolyn murmured, she pulled apart her towel and stared at herself in the mirror. She was a slip of the old Carolyn Fry, a shell.
She closed her eyes against a silver flash.
She was alone.
I do not count the times
Carolyn Fry had often thought what might have happened had she left with Riddick. If she'd just taken his hand. She'd been so tempted...
What would have happened? Where the hell would they have gone? First she felt shame because she wanted to, she'd fallen to her knee's to keep herself from walking onto the ship. His taunting voice hadn't helped; it only fueled her anger. He might not have cared what happened to them, but she did.
In a flash she screamed, when he was distracted. She'd thrown all her weight against him.
They fell into a puddle, she wanted to wrap her hands around his neck, dig her fingers into his flesh, until he was blue in the face. She wanted to kill him.
Her hip cracked against the ground when he flipped her. He sat hard, crushing her so she had to gasp air to speak-- to breathe.
She'd meant what she said. She hadn't realized it until he asked.
She would die for them.
And as far as they were concerned, Carolyn Fry was dead. Torn away into the night. There had been a short spot on the news but it had been so fleeting she was certain none of them could have seen it.
Carolyn still couldn't help but to think of them. She found the harder she tried the more the thoughts kept coming. Memories, fragments she wasn't sure had happened or if she'd just imagined them.
Carolyn sighed and stared down into her glass, which held whiskey with ice long melted. Drinking didn't help, it just made the pain all the more real. There were a few times, when she'd been certain that they'd been there with her. Those hallucinations were what frightened her the most.
She sat curled on the couch; her television was on with the volume down low. She reached over and turned on the lamp, she set her drink down on the coffee table and glanced around her apartment.
It was a fucking mess.
Plates with half finished meals lay in piles on the coffee table, on top of the TV, by her stereo system; some were even strewn across the floor. Clothes lay on the floor and across the couch all in different stages of unwash.
She stood up, and then she reached over and scooped a pile of dirty dishes from the coffee table into her hands. Then she cut across her living room to her kitchen.
When she crossed from hardwood to cool tile the lamp beside the couch flickered and then the power went out. She froze her muscles hardened and she strained her ears. Even though Carolyn mostly preferred the dark-- she also preferred to choose it for herself. She didn't like surprises, never had.
She let out a string of curses. Even with all the technological advances the power still went out.
"Typical," she muttered.
Her eyes finally adjusted to the dark and she crossed her tiny kitchen to the sink, where she dumped the plates unceremoniously.
Something flashed in the reflection of the window out of the corner of her eye. When she looked up into the window she would have screamed, had all the air not rushed from her lungs at the face she saw staring back at her. Or rather-- the reflection.
He was inside.
That's fucking impossible.
Carolyn forced herself to gasp a small breath of air as she turned on the tap, she shifted the plates under the water and recoiled as it burnt her hand.
"Fuck me!" She clutched her throbbing fingers. "Christ," she muttered under her breath. She watched with abject horror as a hand reached out from the shadows and pressed a button that turned the steaming water ice cold.
He watched as she pinched her self on her upper arm, then again harder.
"You're not dreaming."
"Right... this is some fucking nightmare..." Carolyn's hand shook violently under the frigid water. "I really have gone crazy." A warm hand came to rest on her shoulder, she jerked away and reached across the counter grabbing the first knife she could reach. She spun around, holding out her weapon. "How the hell did you get in here?"
Riddick glanced down at the knife Carolyn was holding, he 0looked back up at her with a smirk. "Your door was unlocked," he took the pearing knife from her fingers. "It's not safe Carolyn, anyone could just... walk in." He tossed the knife into the sink, Carolyn was still holding out her hand and she hadn't blinked for some time. Riddick waved a large hand in front of her face. "Aren't you happy to see me?"
Carolyn was vaguely aware that Riddick was talking to her, his mouth was moving and he had that insufferable smile on his face. She blurted the only question that seemed to make any sense.
"What the fuck?"
Riddick turned from Carolyn and glanced around her tiny kitchen. There was a small fridge and what looked like an even smaller stove. The kitchen table was bare and there was only one chair sitting dejectedly on the left side. He'd noticed the rest of her apartment was just as sparse, if not a little more messy-- hell a lot more messy.
He turned back to Carolyn and couldn't help the wonder that flicked briefly across his face.
He'd been so certain she was dead... he'd felt it, low and hard in the pit of his stomach. When he caught the news one night by chance he'd been amazed to see her face plastered across the screen. There was a brief story, lacking many details, giving the few there were about Carolyn's rescue. No mention of Riddick, or Jack, or Imam.
The look on her face was what had stayed with him the most. The empty look in her eyes, the same look Jack wore occasionally when she thought Riddick wasn't paying attention. Before he dropped her and Imam off on New Mecca. Then there had been the tears. She'd begged him to stay. She didn't understand that he couldn't. If not for his own sake then at least for theirs. Jack certainly hadn't been happy about it, but in the end, she said she understood. She'd wrapped her arms around him tightly for a moment in an awkward hug, then let go, looking slightly shocked. Then she'd stepped back beside Imam and Riddick had disappeared into the crowd.
Carolyn snorted, then suddenly, her hands were on his face, her fingers cold and searching. He grabbed her wrist.
"I'm sorry--" she pulled her hand, "I just needed to make sure..." she paused, "you're real." She realized briefly that she should have been more frightened than she was. A mass murderer was standing in her kitchen, like he belonged there. The thought irritated more than frightened her.
He let go of her and she pulled her hand away.
Silence fell over the dark kitchen, questions hung in the air between them. Questions neither wanted to ask and neither wanted to answer.
"So," Carolyn said softly, she leaned back against the counter. "How's Jack?"
"I wouldn't know."
Riddick cut her off before she could ask her next question.
"Wouldn't know about him either."
"Oh," Carolyn replied. She should have known he would have dropped them off as soon as they reached New Mecca. She wondered if he would have left her too, had she made it off with them.
She shook those thoughts away; wrapping her mind around a question like that hurt her head too much.
Another question came unbidden to her mind. Why was he here? Why now? Why come at all?
He cocked his head, and it was then that Carolyn realized she'd asked that last question aloud. She watched him closely.
"Why'd you do it?" He demanded,
"Do what?" Her question wasn't coy, but honestly perplexed.
"Come back for me."
"..." Carolyn turned, and bent over to open the cupboard under the sink. She squeezed soap into the sink then began to wash the dishes with a rag that lay folded on top of the tap.
"Avoiding the question Carolyn, or the answer?" Riddick was silent. "Or maybe both."
Carolyn snorted again; she glanced over her shoulder. "I could say the same about you. Why'd you break in anyway? To kill me?"
If her words affected him, Riddick didn't let it show. "Breaking in generally includes breaking something..." there was that smirk again, then, Riddick's face grew serious. "I came to see you."
Carolyn actually laughed out loud she couldn't help it. Riddick grabbed Carolyn's shoulders and spun her around, soapy water splattered across the front of his shirt. He shook her once, Carolyn winced but he didn't let go. "I'm serious." He growled.
"Really? You shouldn't have troubled yourself," Carolyn's voice was carefully measured, steady. "Because I'm--"
"Who the hell are you trying to kid Carolyn? You're not fine."
Fury flashed in her eyes. "How the hell would you know?"
"You're not even close to fine," Riddick went on, "not even in the same--"
Carolyn wrenched her shoulders out of his grasp, in a motion she knew would leave bruises. She slammed her fist into his face, and connected with his nose. She struck across him across his shoulders, his solar plexus, in a last ditch effort she kicked him sharply in the shin.
He caught her around the shoulders again, but this time he pulled her against him, and locked his arms behind her back. She twitched against him once, twice, then she went still. She didn't sag, she didn't cry, she didn't bite or scream, she just stopped.
Her reply was muffled into his chest, he pulled back slightly and she looked up at him.
He tightened his grip around her again and she didn't fight him.
She was skinnier than the last time he'd seen her, and he wondered fleetingly if she'd been eating. She was wearing a large sweatshirt and a pair of faded jeans. Her hair was longer and pulled back into a ponytail. She was looking up at him, the breath from her nose tickled his neck and slowly he released her. She didn't step away at first, but stayed flush against him.
Then she blinked and stepped back, "sorry," she muttered, her face flushing with humiliation. "If I hurt you."
There was an odd noise from the living room and Carolyn left Riddick standing in her kitchen. Just as she stepped into the living room the lamplight flickered on. The television was back to the channel she'd been watching before the power went off. The time that passed had seemed like hours, but when she glanced at the digital clock on her wall she saw it had only been a half an hour since the last time she'd checked.
She rubbed her hands down her arms, which throbbed painfully.
"Sorry," she called to Riddick. "The power was out." He didn't reply. She suddenly was overly conscious of the state of her apartment. "Sorry about the mess too, I wasn't expecting company." He still said nothing.
Something cold settled into the pit of Carolyn's stomach and she dashed across her living room and skidded to a stop on the tiles of her kitchen. Her breath caught in her throat.
She screamed sharply and spun around, Riddick was looking at her over the open door of her refrigerator.
"I..." I thought you were gone. She gestured to her fridge. "Help yourself."
"I will," Riddick replied and his head disappeared back behind the door. "You eat this shit?"
"Occasionally," Carolyn countered.
"I meant now."
He was looking at her over the door again. "You don't have to bullshit with me Carolyn, I know you're not fucking fine."
"I--" Carolyn swallowed the rest of her reply when she saw Riddick glare. "Fine," she shrugged. "Youíre right. But you know... considering. I'd say it's normal."
Riddick shrugged, then slammed the fridge door closed. "So would I." He was holding an open jar of pickles, he took one out and bit into it, he held out the jar and she shook her head.
"They give me indigestion on an empty stomach," she blurted before he could say anything. She opened a cupboard beside the sink. "Crackers." She opened the box and slipped a Wheat Thin into her mouth. It was strange, the both of them standing in her kitchen-- in fact it was completely absurd. A ghost of a smile graced her lips. A good dream.
In the soft light she noticed he was wearing his goggles, but he'd pushed them up onto his head. His eye's glinted as he shot her a sideways glance.
"So." Carolyn said, her mouth full of Wheat Thins, Riddick replied by taking another large bite out of his pickle. "You planning on, staying for a while?"
This time the silence wasn't so deafening.