Title: Not For Me
Author: Sullen Gurl
Email: blasie007 AT yahoo.com
Rating: TEENS
Summary: Alternate Universe: Just like in the film, Fry convinces Riddick to go back for Jack and Imam. But it all goes differently from there.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black and all its characters belong to USA Films.
Author's Notes: Hi! This was the VERY first fan fic I had EVER written so you'll have to bear with it. Warning:Contains mush and melodrama.

 

Jack hid behind Imam and clutched at his arm as they heard the boulder being moved.

This is it, she thought, we are SO dead. .

Imam, expecting the worst, prayed to God that they die a quick and relatively painless death. The boulder was now halfway pushed aside. As they held their breath, Fry's smiling face appeared at the opening. Fry was drenched and out of breath, but man, was she glad to see them. Jack and Imam's sighs of relief were quickly replaced with a look of surprise when Fry moved aside and Riddick's likewise pleased face appeared.

"Never had a doubt," Jack said proudly, despite the fact that she had been sorely disappointed only minutes ago when they all realized that Riddick had left them.

"Anyone not ready for this?" Riddick asked, suddenly serious.

Fry helped Jack and Imam out of the cave while Riddick stood guard, on the lookout for any of the creatures that could be nearby. He led them to a corner a few feet away from a spot where what seemed like a hundred aliens were. He squatted down and signaled for the others to do so. Riddick decided that the only option they had if they wanted to make it was to wait for an opening, then run through, up the muddy slope, then down towards the settlement.

Not much of a tactic, Riddick thought, but it's all we've got.

Riddick twisted around and saw that Jack, Imam, and Fry were all watching him with expectant and hopeful looks on their faces. They were waiting for any instructions he had for them. He turned his head to look directly into Fry's eyes. He wasn't kidding earlier when he said he admired her for her strong survival instincts. Even all throughout the day, he was impressed by how Carolyn was so demanding and determined to get everyone off the planet. And Mr. Richard B. Riddick was NOT an easy man to impress. Right now, looking into her eyes, he would've given anything to know what Carolyn thought of him. Fry steadily held his gaze and despite the downpour and all the fucking noise the aliens were making, he could tell she trusted him. Trusted him with their lives. He remembered her words well.

"Come on, Riddick. There must be some part of you that wants to rejoin the human race."

"Truthfully, I wouldn't know how," was his snide remark then.

But Carolyn had shown him how. Without breaking eye contact, they both found each other's hands and intertwined their fingers. Fry held out her hand to Jack and the girl grasped it with all her might. Imam held on to Jack as well with his left had while he held up the 'lit' bottle with his other hand.

Riddick turned his attention back to the aliens just beyond the boulder. After a few seconds, he saw an opening between two aliens nearest them large enough for all of them to get through if they did it quickly enough. He squeezed Fry's hand, letting her know that they were to make their move any second.

This is it, Riddick thought, it's now or never.

At Riddick's "Now!", all four hand in hand darted towards the sparring aliens. The creatures, momentarily surprised by the sudden movement and the oncoming light, stepped back far enough for Jack, Imam, Fry and Riddick to get through. The four headed for the foot of the slope like crazy. Their hands gripping the other's tightly, lest they get separated. Each trying his damnedest to stay on his feet and not slip on the mud.

This is suicide! Jack's mind screamed.

Riddick's jaw clenched in concentration. Almost there. Almost there, his mind chanted.

Finally, they had reached the foot of the slope. Riddick stopped to help Jack, Imam and Fry clamber up the slippery hill ahead of him, in case any of the aliens were sneaking up behind them. Just as the three were over the slope and he was about to go over it himself, Riddick sensed an alien land right behind him.

Damn. Riddick slowly turned around and found himself face to face with the monster.

…………………………….

On the other side of the slope Fry, Jack and Imam half slid/half rolled down. Once they were at the foot and just a few feet away from the settlement, Fry realized that Riddick had been left behind on the other side. She saw that Jack and Imam were already on their feet, each of them holding their bottles up like they were torches. Fry kept close to them and called out into the rain, "Riddick !!". What they heard was what sounded like a struggle from the other side of the hill. But no answer from Riddick. Fry tried again. "Dammit, Riddick !!", she yelled as loud as she could. Then came the sound of ripping flesh and spilling guts.

Like thunder, Riddick's low voice boomed, "Go! Just go!"

Fry hesitated. He sounded distant and seemed like he was in much pain.

As if sensing her reluctance, Riddick yelled again from the other side, "Just go! You know the way!"

Fry grabbed Jack and Imam and all three headed for the settlement, towards the skiff's glowing lights somewhere.

"Skiff city.", Jack whispered to herself.

……………..

From the other side of the slope, Riddick had heard them run towards the settlement until he couldn't hear their footsteps anymore. He was looming over a fallen alien, slashed in different places, its guts being washed away by the hard rain.

"Fucker," he spat out at the carcass, as he gingerly examined the scratches the beast had given him during their 'little scuffle'.

'Least I ain't seriously bleeding, he consoled himself.

The surrounding aliens, having witnessed the demise of one of their own at the hands of what they would normally consider to be lunch, eyed Riddick warily. They were still closing in on him, but they were sizing him up first, now knowing that he was a formidable opponent.

Riddick took that opportunity to scramble up the slope, which proved to be no easy feat, given the mud and the rain. Plus, he had to constantly keep an eye on the aliens, in case they attacked.

………………….

Fry, Jack and Imam were now only meters away from the settlement. All they had to do was make their way towards the skiff. The whole time, Fry kept looking back over her shoulder to see if Riddick had caught up, or even safely made his way past the slope.

Shit, she cursed. No sign of Riddick anywhere. Right now she had to concentrate on getting Jack and Imam safely to the skiff.

As they were making their way through the settlement, they heard what sounded like a million high-pitched screeches coming from the sky. They looked up to see a 'flock' of those bat-like creatures from the left side dive-bombing their way. Jack screamed. All three ducked. But not fast enough.

The winged aliens moved as one entity and rammed into them. Fry was knocked off her feet. She landed on her back, but had the good sense to roll over and put her arms over head. She felt the aliens whistle by, inches above her body.

The 'bats' swirled around Imam and Jack's heads, much like they had to Ali's back in the coring room, and pulled them this way and that.

Jack screamed and batted at them, dropping the bottle she was holding. She felt the damn things biting and clawing at her arms, her face and her neck. It felt like hundreds of needles pricking her skin. She couldn't see. Couldn't hear anything but the loud flapping all around her head.

Imam, too, was under assault. He whirled around and around furiously, batting at the critters, a firm hold on the bottle. He was not aware that all his turning and whirling had led him a good distance away from where Fry was.

……………………….

Jack fell to the ground and covered her head as best as she could. After a few agonizing seconds, she felt the clawing and biting ease up a bit. A few more moments later, they stopped completely, and felt the critters whiz by above her. Head still down, she waited and listened for anything besides the pounding rain.. She raised her head slowly and looked around.

There was absolutely no sign of Imam nor Fry.

She was all alone.

And she had no light.

……………………….

Fry cautiously put her arms down and looked around her, fully expecting to find Jack and Imam on the ground right beside her. All she saw was the bottle a few meters away from where she lay. Jack and Imam were nowhere to be seen. She got on her hands and knees and quickly crawled over to the bottle. She gripped its neck and stood up slowly. She waved the light around her, hoping to catch a glimpse of either Jack or Imam.

“Jack! Imam!”

She turned this way and that, yelling their names over and over. Still nothing.

“Damn this rain”, she muttered, “Damn this whole fucking planet.”

Fry jogged around the settlement. She went around corners, not really knowing where she was headed, feeling like she was trapped in some labyrinth.

No bodies, she thought, Good sign.

Fry was drenched and exhausted. Part of her wanted to just stop; just stop and let the aliens eat her or take her away. Anything, just not be desperately running around like this. She turned left somewhere and suddenly found herself caught in the headlights of the skiff they were supposed to take off into. Under the rain, she could see the empty pilot seat through the windshield.

You could be sitting there right now, a tiny voice at the back of her mind cajoled, Nice and dry, amidst all those blinking lights. You came back for them and did what you could. Save yourself now, Carolyn.

The glowing lights in the skiff and the drawn docking ramp looked too damn inviting. Fry sucked in her breath and turned her back on the skiff.

“Move your ass, Carolyn!” she whispered furiously to herself, jogging away from the skiff. “Keep looking.”

“Jack! Imam!” she bellowed into the night.

……………………….

Riddick made it to the settlement. Surprisingly, none of the aliens had followed him beyond the slope. He had not encountered any on the way either. At least not yet. He was making his way to where he knew the skiff was when he heard shouting from the distance. The rain was still pouring so the sound was faint, but he heard them nonetheless.

“Jack! Imam! Can you hear me!?!” he heard.

Carolyn. Riddick stood still and tilted his head , waiting.

“Jack!”

Once he heard her again, he turned towards her voice and sprinted.

……………………….

These bad boys know our blood.

That was what she heard Riddick say back when they were getting ready to run for the skiff. Jack remembered how those words had terrified her. She had been bleeding then, yet didn’t tell anyone about it. Not until it had been too late.

No, she thought wryly. I didn’t even tell ‘em. Riddick knew.

But how she felt then was nowhere near how unbelievably frightened she was now.

“I’m gonna die,” she whimpered. “I’m all cut up, bleeding and alone in the dark. Might as well hang a neon sign around my neck that says ‘EAT ME’.”

Jack then became aware of the goggles she wore around her neck. It was made of yellow plastic; its right lens was broken and the garter haphazardly tied in a knot.

Riddick.

She wanted to be like him so much that she had saved her head and wore the makeshift goggles. Even picked up his lingo. Riddick was a survivor. But was she?

Jack started to grope around the ground, her arms splashing on the muddy water. Her hand then came in contact with what felt like a lead pipe. She held onto it tightly with her left hand.

Real smart, Audrey, she thought to herself. What’re you gonna do, bludgeon the aliens to death with a piece of tube?

Suddenly, she got goosebumps all over. She heard movements; little splashing and clicking sounds all around her.

They’re closing in on me, she realized.

……………………….

Imam sat slumped against a metal post, his head bowed down in prayer. The creatures had departed, after he had valiantly, but futilely, tried to swat them with his bottle. His long coat had come in handy when he went down on the ground and covered himself up as best as he could with it. The creatures had left him with cuts and scratches on his arms and face too. But he was alive, and for this, he thanked God. With his beads in his hands and his eyes closed, his lips moved in silent prayer. But he was not praying for himself. He was praying that God lead the others to safety.

……………………….

Fry continued jogging around. She turned a corner and immediately slammed into something hard. Surprised, she gasped and automatically tried to step back, thinking she had just run into an alien. But a pair of big, strong hands gripped her shoulders and prevented her from moving.

“Carolyn,” came that deep voice.

Realizing it was Riddick, Carolyn flung herself into his arms without warning. She clutched at his sides and sobbed wordlessly into his chest. She was so damn tired and she didn’t know if she could go on. She wept for Shazza, Zeke, Harris and Imam’s boys. She wept for Jack and Imam. Hell, she even shed a tear for Johns. Johns was just a mixed-up guy, she felt, too fucked up by drugs. Most of all, she wept for the Captain and Owens. Owens, who had risked his ass for the others. Owens, who had died an excruciating death. Riddick’s arms kept her from crumpling to the ground.

“It’s not fair,” she moaned.

It never has been, Riddick wanted to tell her. He was taken aback for a second, unsure of what to do. After all, being a badass convict, attractive women didn’t exactly throw themselves at him on a daily basis. So he just did what he had wanted to do ever since Fry had asked to see his eyes. He dropped his hands from her shoulders and wrapped his strong, muscular arms around her. There were no chains to hold him back now.

Oh, Carolyn, he thought sadly.

They were a perfect fit. Fry’s slender frame pressed against Riddick’s powerful body felt so right to him. He was a big guy, but Fry’s head nested snugly under his chin. Feeling her up was the last thing on his mind, but he couldn’t help sense that she belonged there like that.

Fry was no longer sobbing, but only crying silently now. She strangely felt a sudden comfort at the feel of Riddick’s arms around her. She remembered how, a while ago, it had momentarily made perfect sense to climb aboard the skiff with him and leave Jack and Imam behind. When Riddick had held her at the waist and helped her up, she felt safe. It was not the first time Fry realized that Riddick had a mysterious effect on her.

Fry and Riddick didn’t know how long they stood that way. But they didn’t care. They continued to hold each other.

In the soft glow of the light coming from the bottle now at their feet.

Under the pouring rain.

In the middle of a dead planet.

……………………….

Riddick and Fry slowly pulled apart at the same time. They had been in an embrace for only seconds but it had seemed longer for both of them. Fry wiped at her cheeks with the back of her hand, avoiding Riddick’s eyes. She was no longer sobbing but just sniffling a bit, like a child trying hard to stop crying. She suddenly felt embarrassed by how she had broken down in Riddick’s arms like that. Riddick searched her face.

“Where’s the kid? The holy man?” he asked.

Fry bent down to pick up the bottle she had dropped earlier before replying.

“I don’t know. We were running towards the skiff when those flying bastards attacked us again. I went down hard…” She was babbling but couldn’t help it. “Next thing I knew they were gone. I could’ve sworn they were just right beside me, Riddick. I’ve been looking, but no sign of them …” Her voice trailed off as fresh tears threatened to pour.

Riddick’s expression was grim.

“Carolyn, they could be dead,” he said in a low voice.

“No,” she hissed at him. “Don’t you think I’d have seen their bodies or heard something by now?”

She couldn’t explain but something told her Jack and Imam were still alive. Riddick said nothing.

Alone in the dark like this, he thought, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

“Look, Riddick,” Fry continued more softly now, placing a hand on his arm. “We’ve come this far. I’m not stopping now. I told you I’d die for them, didn’t I?”

Now this was just nuts, Riddick thought.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her a little in the hopes of getting some sense into her beautiful head.

“What are you trying to prove, huh, Carolyn?” he asked harshly. Fry stared at him, dumbfounded.

“Open your eyes,” he went on. “Most of your passengers have died since we crashed onto this shithole. Two of ‘em who are lucky to have made this far are out there. They could be alone, whatever, doesn’t matter. They won’t make it.”

“And we will, IS THAT YOUR FUCKING POINT?” she yelled at him, struggling to break free from his grasp. “You think I’m trying to prove something?” Fry was afraid of the direction their conversation was taking.

Riddick looked at her intently. He knew this was a sensitive topic for Fry, but it had to be said.

“You’ve got some issues, I know that. And frankly, I don’t care. But going on this suicide mission sure gonna change things.”

Fry looked up at him defiantly, fire in her eyes.

“You’re right,” she said firmly, “it won’t. I’m not so stupid as to think it will. But I’m not going to make the mistake I almost did up there when things were at their worst. And damn you, this ISN’T about me anymore. You think you’ve got me all figured out?”

Riddick stared at her for a few seconds and then inexplicably let out a bitter laugh. Fry’s frown grew deeper. She felt both puzzled and slightly pissed. Puzzled at how someone in his right mind could possibly be amused at a time like this. And pissed that SHE was possibly the subject of his amusement. She had no idea what was terribly funny.

My God, she thought, he’s gone mad.

“So you finally know what it feels like,” Riddick said wryly. “People take one look at you and think they know what you’re all about? I know that feeling well. Well, lemme ask YOU this…” Riddick’s expression grew serious. “What makes you so sure I ain’t leaving you all here right now, huh? I came back for them and it’s just their FUCKING LUCK they got lost on the way to the skiff.”

Fry’s shoulders sagged, and she lowered her head.

“I’m not,” she admitted softly. “I’m NOT sure about anything.” She raised her head and met his gaze with hopeful and trusting eyes. “I may not know anything about you, but you DID go back for them with me. And THAT tells me something, Riddick.”

Riddick let out a defeated sigh, and shook his head.

“It does, huh? All it tells me is that I’ve lost it.”

With that, he took Carolyn’s hand and started to move, pulling her along.

“Hold up that light behind me,” he told her over his shoulder. Behind him, Fry took a deep breath. Somehow, with Riddick by her side, she felt a hell of a lot safer.

……………………….

Jack raised the pipe high over her head when she heard a sick, crunching sound come from right behind her. It took a full 5 seconds for her to realize that she had been stabbed!! And as soon as her brain was able to assimilate this, she threw her head back and let out a most ear-piercing and heart-wrenching scream. She dropped the pipe and pressed her hand onto the side of the leg where she was stabbed. The pain was like nothing else. She felt like a colossal ice pick had been rammed into her leg. Blood gushed out and dripped down her thigh. It was that moment she fainted.

……………………….

Imam heard the scream coming from somewhere to his left.

The little girl is close by, he thought.

He turned towards where he thought he heard it, raised his bottle in front of him and charged like a bull.

“YEAAAGGGHHHH!” he cried out for all he was worth, bottle thrust out in front of him like a sword. He wasn’t exactly certain of what he was doing, just prayed that he was at least moving in the right direction. He hoped it was not too late for the kid. He heard a lot of scuffling and splashing about. He caught a glimpse of what looked to be a dozen aliens scrambling out of his way, momentarily caught off-guard by his war cry and approaching light. He stumbled to a halt as soon as he saw Jack’s figure face down on the muddy ground. He knelt down, careful to hold the bottle over his head, and saw the gaping hole in Jack’s leg. He saw that she was losing a lot of blood. He quickly turned her over onto her back. After placing the bottle just beside Jack’s limp form, he bent over and listened for her breathing.

“Praise God, she is breathing,” he murmured, satisfied at her showing of vital signs. He, then, began ripping strips of cloth from his long coat and tied them around Jack’s bloody leg. While he did this, he kept hearing clicking and shuffling all around him. But he paid them no heed. Right now, he had to take care of the girl. Imam was tying one last know when he noticed that Jack was coming to. She rolled her head slightly from side to side and her eyelids fluttered open.

“Imam?” she whispered.

“Shhh. It is all right, my child. I’ve taken care of your wound for the meantime.’ he told her, wiping at her mud-stained face with his hands. Jack craned her neck to get a better look at her lower torso. Her lower lip trembled as she looked back at Imam.

“You should leave me here,” she said to him softly. “I’m not going to make it. I can’t walk, Imam.”

“Nonsense. Come on now, child. It’s best we get moving,” Imam said, handing the bottle to Jack for her to carry. “Together, we can make our way back. I will help you.”

Imam took her free arm and placed it around his shoulders as he wrapped an arm around her waist. He lifted her up as gently as he could. Jack used her good leg to stand up but as soon as she put even the slightest pressure on her mangled leg, she howled in pain.

“Here,” Imam told her, “hold on to my neck. I will carry you instead.”

Imam was in the act of bending over to lift her legs when Jack felt something shove hard at Imam’s back. She looked up to see that his face had gone pale and his eyes turned glassy. She felt Imam’s hold on her slacken.

“Imam? What is it?” she whispered anxiously.

A low, guttural sound escaped Imam’s lips. He was obviously trying to say something but for some reason, couldn’t. In an instant, even before Jack could make out what he was trying to say, Imam was yanked out of Jack’s grip and up into the heavens. Without any support, Jack fell to the ground. She raised her gaze just in time to see Imam in the clutches of an alien as they both faded into the starless sky.

“No! Imam!!!!”

The screams hadn’t come from Jack; she was in too much shock. She managed, however, to turn her head towards the voice. She saw Riddick and Fry running towards her. It was Fry who screamed for Imam. They had seen the creature carry him away, but had been too distant to do anything about it. Fry fell on her knees and hugged Jack close to her. The young girl was trembling. Fry noticed her “bandaged” leg, but tried to keep a neutral expression, so as not to alarm her any further. That was the last thing Jack needed right now.

This is bad, Fry thought to herself, as she put more pressure on Jack’s wounds and retied the strips of cloth that had come undone.

Riddick remained standing, hovering above them. He watched the aliens just a few feet away from their little circle of light, watching THEM; wary of the light but ready to pounce once given the opportunity. He looked down at Jack. Her makeshift bandages were soaked with her blood. Riddick felt sorry for the little girl. She WAS a cute kid, and it was obvious how much she admired him. But now was not the time for Kodak moments.

“Come on,” he told them. “If we wanna make it, we gotta start moving.”

Fry took Jack’s face in her hands. She stroked Jack’s cheeks with her thumbs and smiled reassuringly.

“Everything’s going to be fine, Jack. You hear me?”

Jack was still visibly terrified, but Fry’s words of solace gave her hope and the will to survive. She simply nodded. At her assent, Riddick almost impatiently bent down and easily scooped Jack into his arms, ignoring her cry of pain and discomfort. Fry picked up the bottle and stood beside them, her eyes on Jack. She was afraid that she might pass out again. But Riddick was right, it would be foolish to stay out there a moment longer.

Riddick turned to her and said, “Carolyn, YOU stay in my back pocket, alright?” To anyone else, it would seem as if he was ordering her around. But after what they’ve been through together, Fry knew she should be deeply touched. And she was, very much. Everyone had the idea that Riddick didn’t care about anyone but himself, but his instructions told her otherwise.

Was he kidding, she thought to herself, She’d be too fucking scared to stay any farther than an inch away from him.

“You’ve got it,” was all she said.

Riddick faced forward, towards the skiff.

“Move.” he said ominously.

They kicked into gear; Fry running right behind Riddick. Jack, meanwhile, suddenly went limp in Riddick’s arms. She had lost a lot of blood and the sudden movements made her dizzy and lose consciousness.

……………………….

“There it is,” Fry realized as lights from the skiff danced on her face. We’re gonna fuckin’ make it, a part of her rejoiced.

No sooner did that thought cross her mind when they heard a shriek from somewhere above them. Fry raised the bottle high above her head in time to see an alien nose-dive Riddick’s way. Its claws were retracted and teeth bared. The thing clearly had its heart, and its talons, set on Jack.

Fry didn’t think twice. She lunged forward and shoved Riddick with all the strength she could muster. Riddick was thrown frontward and onto his knees. The impact rattled his teeth but he kept his balance and his steady hold on the oblivious Jack. The alien had missed Riddick by an inch. Instead, it hit Fry squarely in the chest. Still on his knees, Riddick turned around to check on Fry, fearing the worst. For the second time in less than twenty minutes, she had been knocked to the ground. She was also not moving. He saw that her top was ripped and that her back was badly scratched. Bloodwas starting to trickle from her wounds. Apparently, the creature that had swooped down had raked his claws over her. It must’ve meant to cling on to the back of her shirt and lift her up, but had lost its grip Riddick’s focus wavered for only a second. But a second was all the time the aliens needed. With the speed of lightning and the force of a wrecking ball, an alien nearest him swung its hammer-like head at Riddick. With Riddick on his knees and Jack in his arms, he had very little control. He fell on his side and Jack was knocked off his arms. She was still dead to the world, which was probably a good thing, Riddick thought. He didn’t even notice the deep gash the alien left on his arm. He scrambled to his knees and was about to hoist Jack up. But the alien was quicker. Riddick was only able to get one arm under her when it got ahold of Jack’s leg and pulled her out of Riddick’s reach. Riddick pulled out his shiv and swiped at the alien. When the blade grazed the side of its head, the alien screeched. Riddick arced his arm and was about to go for its belly when it pulled away, dragging Jack along.

It was over for Jack, and Riddick knew it. He couldn’t see her anymore, even with his vision. He hesitated for just a second before turning back to where Fry lay. He turned her over and wiped wet strands of her hair away from her cheeks and forehead. He bent his head over her face; his ear close to her mouth. As he had expected, and with great relief, he felt her soft breath. When he lifted his head, Fry began to regain consciousness. She stirred, her eyes half-lidded and dazed. Her lips moved as if in silent prayer. He bent over her once again and stroked her hair. She whispered his name. As if in answer, he cradled her shoulders and lifted both her legs. Getting to his feet, she felt Fry automatically wrap her arms around her neck. She knew Jack was dead.

“You’re alright, Carolyn. Hold on.” Riddick told her, scanning her face as if to memorize its every feature.

The skiff’s open loading ramp was just a few feet away. With renewed strength and Fry in his arms, he ran for it.

……………………….

Riddick sat in the pilot’s seat, pushing buttons and flicking switches above him, getting ready to take off. Fry sat in the seat beside him, a thick blanket wrapped around her. Revving the engine, Riddick had his hand on the thrusters and his gaze straight-ahead. His brows furrowed in concentration, he slowly pushed the lever to start lifting off. There was no way he was staying another minute on this rock. The skiff was slowly gaining momentum when Riddick felt Fry’s hand close over his on the lever. The crazy bitch was actually pulling the thrusters back down!

“What the hell…” Riddick started to say.

“Shut up!” Fry cut him off.

She stood over him now, the blanket sliding off her shoulders and down to the floor. She was flicking off switches and turning off internal and external lights. Riddick’s first reaction was to whip out his shiv, slam her against the wall, and hold it against her neck. What did she think she was doing? What stopped him, though, was the almost murderous look she had in her eyes as she was shutting off the skiff’s engine. After everything had quieted down and not a single blip of light was seen, Fry sat back down in her chair. She turned to Riddick.

“I AM the captain of this ship. And I say we wait,” she said with authority, giving him a look that dared him to contradict her.

Riddick stared at her for a moment, nodded and leaned back in his own chair.

“You’re absolutely right, Captain.” he said, looking straight ahead. “We can’t leave without saying goodbye…”

……………………….

At last, the skiff was in space. Fry decided she had never been so glad to see the stars and planets around them. But her thoughts always brought her back to Jack and Imam. She looked out the window to her right and fought back the tears. Despite the fact that they were already dead, she felt like she was abandoning them. She knew she didn't deserve to live after so many innocent lives had been lost.

"There was nothing you could've done," a voice interrupted her thoughts.

Fry looked over at Riddick. He was staring straight ahead, looking like he hadn't even spoken. He sat in the pilot's seat because he was under the impression she wasn't in any shape to maneuver the skiff, and he was right. Fry was relieved. Right now, she wanted the least amount of responsibility possible. She stared at his profile.

"I know," she said quietly. "But that doesn't make it any easier."

She braced her hands on the armrest and tried to get up from the seat. She winced as the skin on her back stretched. It felt like her wounds were being ripped open wider. She got to her feet and ambled to the back of the skiff. She shrugged the blanket off her shoulders and saw, under the skiff's dim lights, that it was heavily stained with her blood. Gingerly, she placed her fingertips on her back and felt around her wounds. She brought her hand back to find it bloody.

"You should do something about that."

Surprised, Fry spun around. Riddick was a few away and looking at her back. She made a face at him and wiped the blood off her hand against her pants. Riddick nodded towards the wall of the skiff.

"There's a medkit in there. Might be something to help that."

Fry followed his gaze and noticed that there WAS such a compartment. She walked over, turned the latch, and pulled out the metal case inside. Carrying it over to where Riddick stood, she placed the case at his feet and looked up at him.

"Give me a hand?" she said.

Fry sat down on the skiff floor cross-legged. She then turned around, so that he was now looking down at her back. Her hands flew down to the bottom of her shirt, then froze as she hesitated. Riddick watched all this, curious and fascinated. Fry then proceeded to lift the hem of her top and pull it over her head. She shook her head and tossed the shredded cloth on the floor beside her. She crossed her arms over her chest, and looked at Riddick over her shoulder.

"Please?" she asked softly.

Riddick tore his gaze from her bloodstained back and met her eyes.

"You don't have to ask, Carolyn."

He then lowered himself onto the floor; his knees bent, one leg placed on either side of Fry, her back still to him. She hung her head and closed her eyes, waiting for him to attend to her wounds. Instead of even opening the medkit, he raised his hand and brought it inches away from her back. Even without looking, Fry could tell he was about to touch her. She felt the heat emanating from his fingertips, and almost searing her flesh. When Riddick's fingertips finally made contact with her skin, she exhaled, not even aware she had been holding her breath. He ran his fingertips along the sides of her wounds. He noticed that at first contact, her muscles tensed, then gradually relaxed. Fry kept her eyes closed. His touch was so soothing and gentle; almost a caress. Even under all the dried blood and mud, not to mention the several diagonal slashes the aliens left on her, Riddick saw how her bare back must have looked like unmarred. His eyes trailed the deep indent of her spine that disappeared beneath the waistband of her pants. Her back was fragile yet strong.

Just like the rest of her, he thought to himself.

Just when she was starting to enjoy the sensation of Riddick's fingers gliding across her sore back, he withdrew his hand. She heard him throw open the metal case and rummage through it.

"This is going to sting a little," he warned her, unscrewing the cap of a bottle that contained clear liquid.

Fry nodded and braced herself by flexing the muscles on her back. Riddick got out some cotton, thought about it, then threw them aside. He raised the open bottle over her wounds and poured, emptying almost half the bottle on her back.

Fry's eyes flew open and she screamed in sheer pain. She had thrown her head back and arched her back. The pain was Unbelievable. Her hand shot out and found Riddick's leg beside her. She gripped it, her nails digging into his flesh so hard she could've been drawing blood. Riddick didn't mind that, though. He watched Fry's reaction and was surprised to find himself getting turned on.

Fry was now gasping for air, and still holding on to Riddick's pants. The pain had subsided to a somewhat more bearable level, but her back still hurt like hell. She turned her head so that Riddick saw her profile.

"What the HELL was that?" she snarled. "You said it was going to sting a LITTLE, not bore a hole through my back!"

Riddick chuckled. "Trust me. It's going to heal a lot faster that way."

He got out some cloth and dabbed at her back, absorbing the excess liquid that ran down the length of her back.

"Besides, you look like someone who's just had great sex, so it couldn't have been that bad."

Fry released her deathgrip on Riddick's pant leg and threw him a surly look over her shoulder, remembering that she was half-naked. Riddick proceeded to tape gauze over her wounds while Fry sat submissive.

"Done," he said after a while, tossing some stuff back into the kit. Fry craned her neck and tried to look at his handiwork.

"Thanks." she said. She picked up her discarded top and surveyed it. Fry frowned as she realized that the back was only held together by thin strips of cloth. Unless she wanted to walk around the skiff and in front of Riddick topless, she really had no choice. So she put it on carefully, lest it snagged some of the gauze Riddick had just taped on her back. With everything in place, she swiveled around on her butt to face Riddick. Riddick hadn't moved so she was sitting between Riddick's bent legs.

"Your turn," she told him, a small smile playing on her lips.

Riddick arched an eyebrow, staring at her mouth. She gestured to his upper arm. Funny, aside from the hundred scratches all over his body, he had almost forgotten about the wide gash that last alien had left on his arm. Fry poked around the wound, waiting for a reaction from Riddick. He winced only once, when she poked a little too hard and a little too close.

"This is deep. Looks like it needs stitches," she said, surveying his arm.

Riddick tossed around some stuff in the medkit and emerged with a big needle.

"Do it, then." he said matter-of-factly, holding out the needle to her.

"Right," she said, laughing.

Riddick shrugged. "Better you than anyone else."

When Fry looked at his wound hesitantly, Riddick tried again.

"Would you rather I keep it untreated and die of infection?"

……………………….

5 minutes later and Fry was still slowly stitching Riddick's arm up. They were still on the floor of the skiff, sitting close. She tried to be as careful about it as possible and so had leaned her head close to her arm. The light wasn't too bright and her nerves were shot.

"…and that's how that asshole found me," Riddick was saying, referring to a certain blue eyed devil.

"Hmmmm…," Fry said distractedly, tugging at the thread.

Riddick was fully aware that Fry wasn't paying much attention, but he didn't mind. All he wanted to do was distract Fry, because she was clearly anxious about fixing up his wound. It seemed to be working, because she looked like she wouldn't have batted an eyelash had he said he could see Johns' upper half clinging to one of the skiff's wings. He turned his head and looked around the skiff, letting his mind wander. His attention was brought back to the situation at hand when Fry spoke up.

"So," she said, running her finger over the newly stitched area, "Where do we go from here?"

He looked at her and saw that she was still bent on the task of suturing. She had voiced the question so casually, as if his answer wouldn't really matter to her. Fry had to look up from his arm when Riddick still hadn't answered. When she did, she realized that Riddick had leaned his head towards hers and was looking at her so intently. Their faces were just inches apart. So close, that if Fry would tilt her head a little to the side and lean a little closer…

"We?" Riddick asked instead, snapping her out of her temporary stupor.

Fry blinked at him.

"Well, I just assumed…", she started, embarrassed.

Riddick shook his head sadly and looked away.

"Forget it," she muttered. She lowered her head and went back to his wound.

An uncomfortable silence hung in the air.

"No, let's not forget it," she suddenly said, dropping the needle. "I just thought that after….", she broke off again, unable to find the words.

Riddick studied her flushed face. She closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down. She took a deep breath as her eyelids fluttered. She couldn't say what she wanted to, but she had no idea she even had to explain. She had assumed Riddick felt the same way.

And what way is that, Fry asked herself.

"All I know is that we've been through hell together and back…and if that doesn't…," she sputtered, as Riddick watched her calmly. "That's not something you experience with a lot of people often," she finished lamely.

"So what are you saying, Carolyn?" Riddick asked patiently.

"I'm taking you up on your offer, Riddick." she told him more firmly, almost challenging him. "I distinctly remember you asking me to come with you."

"That wasn't what I meant," he replied evenly. But even as he uttered the words, he didn't believe them himself. Sure, at first he was just messing with her head, testing if she'd save her own ass just like he would. But the moment he outstretched his hand, it dawned on him that he DID want her to step inside. Until it wasn't just about getting her on the skiff anymore. Even if Fry hadn't known it at the time, he really WAS asking her to join him. That was why he went so far as to help her climb up; he WANTED it to happen.

Fry inched closer and said more softly, "Let me come with you."

"No," Riddick answered, his jaw clenched.

"Why the fuck not, Riddick?" she asked, exasperated.

"Because you don't want to live the life I lead", he snapped at her.

"You can't make that decision for me!" she countered.

"Well then I'm telling you flat-out that I don't want you along," he said sharply.

A flicker of pain flashed through Fry's eyes. Riddick saw it and it tugged at his insides. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, but he was doing this to protect her. Protect her from his kind of life. From himself.

Is it really HER you're trying to protect, something inside him asked.

"You wanna spend your whole life looking over your shoulder? Not trusting anyone who comes around? Not knowing what the next fucked-up day is gonna bring?"

Fry didn't answer. Her thoughts were in a jumble. She couldn't understand how that man who held her in his arms back on that rock could be this same man telling her he didn't want her around. She couldn't listen to anything else he was saying. All that registered in her mind was Riddick telling her "no".

"Because that's how the shit goes down when you're with someone like me."

Silent fury replaced the look of hurt that was on Fry's face. She stared Riddick down.

"You're right." she said, and went back to stitching.

Riddick couldn't hide his surprise. He didn't expect Fry to accede so easily. After being around her for that long, he knew how persistent and stubborn she could be. He knew she was going to force the issue, but he was not going to taker her along. He knew it was for the best.

It's her I'm thinking of, Riddick reasoned out.

Fry was done suturing. She gave the thread one final tug, perhaps a little harder than necessary that Riddick had to flinch slightly. She tied a knot, and appeared to be looking around for something. She darted a quick glance at him before leaning down and capturing the thread between her teeth. Her teeth grazed his skin and her hair fell over her face. She bit down and cut of the excess thread. Raising her head, she flicked it off her fingers.

"Done," she said, looking straight at him, her expression unreadable. She got on her knees and started rearranging things. Her silence was killing Riddick. He grabbed her wrist to still her movements.

"Carolyn…" he began.

"Get your fucking hand off me," she said hoarsely, without looking up from the medkit.

It would be so easy to just shut her up and force her to listen, like he had done earlier back when she tried to convince him to come back for Jack and Imam. But he knew that Carolyn deserved better. Riddick hesitated, but released her nonetheless. Fry was already on her feet and shoving the medkit into the wall. When it clicked into place, she turned and slipped back into the cockpit without even looking back at Riddick, who was left sitting on the floor staring after her.

"Damn," Riddick cursed.

Riddick absently traced his finger over his freshly stitched wound, as he thought of ways to remedy the situation. Earlier, he had told Fry that Riddick died on the planet. He was serious about that, but it certainly didn't mean he was a completely changed man. The murderer was still alive somewhere inside of him. And he'd hate for Fry to see that part if the time came. No matter how much he wanted to take her with him, he did not want to drag her into his screwed-up life. If only he could get her to understand.

But what about what she wants, a voice in his head asked; a voice which sounded peculiarly like Fry's.

She doesn't know what she wants, he answered.

Do you, Fry's voice challenged.

For a second, resentment flared within Riddick. The hell was did he have to explain things to HER for, he thought. Normally, he would've just said 'Fuck 'em' and left. He didn't need anyone's permission, and certainly didn't need anyone to fly the goddamned skiff for him. But this was Carolyn, he reminded himself, and he didn't want them to part with ill feelings. He didn't want to leave with her misunderstanding his motives.

Riddick leaned forward and rubbed his head as if it hurt. He couldn't get away; she was in his head.

……………………….

How could I be so stupid, Fry silently fumed at herself. This time, she sat in the pilot's seat, where she felt more in control. Because at the moment, she was feeling a little too vulnerable.

She was disgusted at how desperate she had sounded back there. Even to herself, she couldn't explain why or how she felt that they should go on together. She wasn't necessarily looking for a long-term relationship. Nor was she asking for a commitment from him. After her recent brush with death, she just wanted to BE with someone. Besides, didn't they share SOMETHING back there ?

But after Riddick had rejected her like that, she wasn't about to grovel. If their time on that rock had meant nothing to him, then she wouldn't let it mean anything to her either.

But I saved his goddamned life, she thought.

And he saved yours, a part of her answered back.

Carolyn ran her hands over her face and through her hair. When she dropped them, the blipping lights on the main tactical view caught her eye. A frown creased her forehead. Something wasn't quite right. She flicked on a switch for a zoom-in. It revealed that the skiff's coordinates weren't set towards New Mecca.

"..the hell?," she muttered, trying to figure out exactly which way they were headed. In her confusion, she didn't hear Riddick coming up behind her.

"Carolyn," he began.

At the sound of his voice, she whipped her head around to face him. Remembering their argument, the look of puzzlement on her face was quickly replaced by one of quiet anger. For the moment, the skiff's destination was pushed out of her mind.

"Stow it, Riddick," she started before he could say anything else. "You've made it abundantly clear that you…"

"Listen," he interrupted so severely, she had to shut up. Riddick remained standing behind the pilot's seat but leaned forward, close to her. Fry was quickly reminded of the conversation they had back on the planet, when she was doing a Sys Check on the skiff. She remembered how terrified she felt, with Riddick breathing down her neck and whispering in her ear. Terrified, and excited. She realized that after all this time, Riddick still had that same effect on her.

"Remember what I told you," he asked. "You don't know anything about me. And I know nothing about you. You're right, we've been through one asshole of a ride. But to stay together based on that one experience might be a mistake," he told her.

"We don't know that," Fry said quickly. She bit her tongue, mentally reminding herself not to sound as needy as she really felt.

"Well I don't think I wanna find out."

Fry kept silent.

Riddick tried again. "It's better this way" he said more quietly.

Fry let out a bitter laugh, and shook her head sadly.

Sighing, he straightened up and made his way to the co-pilot seat. When he spoke, his voice was surprisingly calm, concealing the conflicting emotions that raged within him.

"Look at you," he started. "You were the docking pilot for The Hunter-Gratzner. You have a job to go back to, a life waiting for you if you want it. You willing to throw all that away?"

There was something in Riddick's voice that prompted Fry look at him. He looked back at her when he felt her eyes on him. She looked into those argentine eyes and her resolve to not give a fuck about his leaving wavered.

"I was on the run, Carolyn. Still am. Rejoining the human race takes time, and it ain't gonna be easy."

Fry let his words sink in. It's true, she thought. SHE had a life to go back to. While he…he was just about to start a new one. The thought made her smile a little, but her smile never reached her eyes. She suddenly realized how selfish she was being. It never occurred to her that Riddick would want time alone to sort things out. In his head as well as in his life. For most of his existence, he didn't have to rely on anyone. Nor did he feel responsible for anyone else. It dawned on her that asking to come along was invading his carefully guarded life. She supposed he wasn't ready. It was that moment that a thought occurred to her. It was an absurd thought, but Fry knew it wasn't impossible.

"You're afraid," she whispered. It wasn't a question, but a humbling realization.

Riddick averted his gaze and said nothing.

Carolyn's lips parted involuntarily as she stared at him, stupefied at his silent assent.

Well, I'll be damned, she thought. So Mr. Richard B. Riddick was afraid of something.

Looking over at him sitting calmly in his chair, she wanted to reach out and touch him, but decided against it. It would just make his leaving harder, she figured. She sighed and leaned back in her own chair, and looked out at the stars once again.

"So," she finally said. "What's the plan?"

"There's a planet up ahead," Riddick answered. "just outside of the Astarte Ring. It's called the Incubus."

Fry glanced at the radar. "Let me guess. Just 240 tics away, right?"

"Right. Got some…contacts…down there. As good a place to start as any."

"Then what?"

Riddick grunted. "Don't plan that far ahead." He paused, then turned to her. "What about you?"

She shrugged. "I guess I proceed to New Mecca. Probably make me give a report on…," Fry paused and looked away. "..on what's happened."

How can they expect her to give a report and be detached about everything, she thought. To refer to Jack, Imam and the others as…as just passengers was something she didn't think she could do. But the harsh truth was that life goes on.

"So," she said, slapping her thigh and looking back at Riddick. "How would you like your death described?"

Riddick offered a quick grateful smile. He then pretended to think hard, forehead furrowed in concentration.

"I know," Fry volunteered. "I can just say you died in the crash."

Riddick scowled at her. "Boring."

"Let's see," she said, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "We could say…the big bad convict tried to slit the docking pilot's throat… ," she paused for effect,"but SHE kicked his shiv-happy ass."

She then grinned self-assuredly, expecting Riddick to go along.

"Could've happened ," she added.

However, a dark cloud had passed over Riddick's features, and his eyes became hooded. When he spoke, his voice held a hint of controlled anger.

"No, Carolyn. It couldn't have."

Fry was taken aback by the slightly menacing tone of his voice.

"You don't think I could've kicked your ass?" she asked cautiously .

"No, that's not it" he answered, deadly serious. "I wouldn't have tried to kill you."

Riddick's divulgence rendered Fry speechless. An awkward silence passed between them when suddenly, Riddick's face broke into a grin.

"Plus, yeah. I don't think you could've kicked my ass."

Fry threw her head back and laughed, more out of relief than pleasant surprise.

……………………….

A smile played on Riddick's lips as he watched Fry. Her hair was tousled and there was color in her cheeks. At that moment, there was a definite glow about her and a twinkle in her eye. He watched her laugh, and thought it was unfair that he's only seen her this way now, just when they were about to go their separate ways. Then again, when had life been fair to HIM?

She really was extremely attractive. Of course, he'd thought so when he first saw her. But he realized that the more time he spent with her, the more about her he found attractive.

Trust Carolyn to get to the point, he mused. And here, he thought she wouldn't understand. She said out loud what he was afraid to admit even to himself all along. He WAS afraid. Of her. Of how she made him feel when he was around her. But he said nothing then, because that would have given away too much of himself. Something he wasn't ready to do.

Fry exhaled, "That felt good.."

When Riddick continued to study her, she narrowed her eyes at him.

"What ?" she asked self-consciously.

"Nothing," was his curt reply, turning serious again. He settled back in his chair, folded his arms behind his head and stretched his legs in front of him. "Still some time aways, Captain. Better get some shut eye," he said, before closing his own eyes.

But something at the back of his head gnawed at him. Riddick remembered that moment at the boneyard, when he hid among the skeletons, listening to Fry and John's alcohol-induced conversation. He was a breath a way from cutting her up, but something in Fry's confession stopped him cold. He needed that oxygen desperately, but not enough, it seemed, to take her life. After that, it never occurred to him again, not once, to kill her. Did she really think he would've tried to X her out?

He dismissed the thought and cleared his head. Everything was alright, for now. Fry had given him freedom, in more ways than one.

……………………….

After a few seconds of shifting in her seat, Fry found that she couldn't sleep. She opened her eyes and turned her head to get a look at Riddick. She smiled warmly when she saw that he was fast asleep. For a few minutes, she just sat there and watched him, mesmerized by the slow rise and fall of his chest. She stifled a yawn with the back of her hand and turned in her seat, so that the first thing she'd see when she woke up would be Riddick. She watched him a bit longer until she felt herself go drowsy. The last thing she noticed was the small rip on Riddick's tank top before her eyelids finally fluttered close.

As Fry slept, she dreamt. And in her dreams, they were back on the planet. She was with Riddick and they were both out of the skiff and under the pouring rain. She had one arm around Riddick and the other holding a bottle high above her head. Riddick was leaning heavily against her and breathing hard in her ear. She had no idea what was going on; but felt that they had to move and fast. She looked down and saw that they were both smeared with blood. Who was bleeding, Fry thought wildly, looking up into Riddick's face. His face had gone pale and his metallic eyes turned glassy. He slipped from her grip and fell to the muddy ground. Still confused, Fry leaned down quickly and tried to haul him up. Something at the back of her mind cried for her to get them away quickly. What the fuck is going on, she screamed to herself. She hooked an arm around his waist and pulled with all her might.

"Get up, Riddick. Get up!," she almost shrieked.

Riddick appeared to have little control over his legs, but managed to hang on to Fry and get on his feet. As he held on to her, she moved and pivoted at the same time. He was heavy, and they kept slipping on the mud, but Fry kept moving.

"Come on, Riddick," she whispered furiously. "I told you I'd die for them. Not you."

Now why did I say that, she wondered. She pushed the thought aside as Riddick stumbled against her. She staggered backwards, bringing Riddick along, when she felt something hard suddenly shove against her lower back. Fry gasped in surprise and pain, jerking her head back. Her eyes instantly met Riddick's. And then time seemed to stand still. She saw that Riddick's expression was a mixture of shock, terror, and sorrow. For Fry, everything went quiet. For a fleeting moment, it was just her and Riddick. She looked deeply into his eyes and gave him a tender smile. She felt Riddick hold her closer to him. In an instant, Fry was yanked violently from Riddick arms. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out, as she felt herself being lifted from the ground. She saw Riddick's arm shoot out only to grasp nothing. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Fry's mind went hazy as she allowed herself to be carried off into the night. She thought she heard Riddick yell from below before she drifted into unconsciousness.

……………………….

Fry woke up with a start. She groaned and pressed the heel of her hand against her temple. She remembered her dream and shuddered. That was terrible, she thought to herself. She closed her eyes for a second and allowed her pulse to return to normal.

"Not for me," she whispered all of a sudden. "That's what he said. 'Not for me'."

She reopened her eyes and gave herself a moment to gather her thoughts. It was only then she realized that the skiff was no longer in space. They had landed. Fry leaned forward to look outside and saw…the desert.

"Riddick," she whispered, turning to him. "Are we already…"

Fry's words immediately broke off when she saw the Riddick's seat was empty.

Where were they, she wondered. And where the hell was Riddick?

She was looking out the pilot's window and trying to see if there was more to the planet than sand, when she heard the voices.

Fry sat perfectly still and tried to identify the voices she heard.

She thought she heard Riddick and could make out another masculine voice unfamiliar to her. She crouched in her seat and cautiously turned and peeked over the headrest. She saw Riddick standing at the top of the hatch, his back to her. She couldn’t see beyond his massive form, so she pressed the side of her face against the wall and finally caught a glimpse of the man Riddick was talking to. Her eyes widened when she caught the nickel badge on the stranger’s navy blue uniform and the 12 gauge gun he carried.

Cop!

Fry ducked back down in her seat.

What the hell could HE want, she wondered, smelling trouble.

She craned her neck and peeked over the headrest again. Riddick had one hand on the wall and the other behind his back. Fry frowned when she thought saw something glisten in his hand. She squinted and saw that he held his shiv behind him.

No, she whispered fearfully.

……………………….

“That still doesn’t’ explain what you’re doing out here,” the man was saying.

Riddick lowered the hand that he had against the wall and sighed.

“Come on, let’s cut the bullshit. What do you want from me,” he asked tiredly.

The officer regarded him suspiciously then tried to peer over his shoulder into the skiff.

“You mind if I took a look inside?” he asked.

Riddick’s lips curled in a slow lazy smile. He stepped aside and gestured to the skiff.

“Go right ahead, officer,” he said invitingly.

He grasped his shiv tighter as the cop stepped up the ramp. He took one step. Then two…

Closer, Riddick thought, readying himself. Just one more step….

“Is everything alright?”, came a voice from behind him.

At the sound of Fry’s voice, Riddick automatically tucked the shiv in his hand. He clenched his jaw and silently cursed Fry for not keeping quiet. He was THAT close. He didn’t turn around to face Fry though, but kept his attention on the officer. He noticed that the officer’s eyes went wide and his jaw slack. Puzzled, Riddick twisted around, careful to press the hand that held the shiv close to his side.

Fry was standing a few feet away from Riddick. She was barefoot and all she had on was a blanket loosely wrapped around her, which she clutched low on her chest. Her hair was more tousled than usual and she was, for some yet unfathomable reason, gazing fondly at Riddick. He stared back at her, dumbfounded.

The woman is insane, he thought nonplussed.

He allowed himself to take in the sight of her.

And damn gorgeous, he silently added once Fry started walking towards him. But when he also noticed that she was trying very hard to suppress her laughter, he cursed her again. He darted a quick look at the cop and was relieved to find him still distracted. Taking that opportunity, Rididick turned to face her fully. Fry looking up at him adoringly was more than he could take. With his back to the man, Riddick scowled at her and mouthed, “What are you DOING?”

Ignoring him, she turned to the officer, who was now blushing profusely.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?” she asked innocently. Riddick, in the meantime, let out a defeated sigh and turned to him as well. The situation was clearly in Fry’s hands now.

“Um,” , he gulped, “Just routine patrol of the area, ma’am.”

“Oh,” Fry said, letting out an embarrassed laugh. She darted a quick glance at Riddick. “Didn’t my husband tell you? We’re on our honeymoon…”

She then went to Riddick’s side, gripped the blanket around her with one hand and slipped the other through Riddick’s arm.

“We just jumped on this skiff and went for a joyride. Didn’t know we had gotten this far,” she explained sincerely.

The corners of Riddick’s mouth involuntarily lifted in an amused smile. He looked down at her, impressed. If he hadn’t known better, even he would’ve fallen for that.

The officer looked back at Riddick as if wanting to confirm Fry’s statements. Fry snuggled closer to Riddick. Playing along, he freed the arm she was holding on to and wrapped it around his waist. His hand slid lower until it rested on the swell of her hip. Fry looked up at him and he down at her. Wordlessly, they grinned at each other. Giving her a playful squeeze, he turned back to officer and glowered at him.

“Hope that’s not going to get us into trouble,” she added sweetly.

The officer took a step backward and coughed. “Um, no,” he stammered. “I was just, um, ah, just about to leave.”

The officer hadn’t even gotten his foot off the ramp, when Riddick pressed the button to close the skiff hatch. Fry wiggled her fingertips at the man. “Bye officer,” she said, as they both watched the ramp slowly raise.

“You kids fly safe now,” they heard him yell.

Knowing they were safely out of the officer’s view, Riddick grunted and Fry rolled her eyes. The second the ramp thudded shut, Riddick’s hand fell away from her while she pulled the blanket higher and tighter around her. Both moved to put some distance between them.

“What did you do that for,” he asked, “I had it under control.”

He wasn’t about to let on that he enjoyed their little charade. Besides, he hated surprises.

“Under control?,” she asked incredulously. “You were going to kill the man.”

“And what should I have done, huh, Carolyn? Introduced myself?”

“Well, why didn’t you wake me up,” she shot back. “You could’ve at least done THAT.”

“Because,” he answered wearily, “I didn’t want you to get involved. If those cops catch on to me, think you’re not gonna get any heat?”

“A little too late for that, isn’t it Riddick,” she asked dryly. “As long as we’re together, I’m ALREADY involved.”

“Well then it’s just fucking great we’re not going to be together for long, huh?”

Riddick regretted the words as soon as he said them. They didn’t come out quite the way he meant it.

“Carolyn…”

Fry held up a hand to cut him off.

"I know,” she said calmly, giving him a look that told him to just drop it.

He stopped and regarded her with an amused look on his face.

“Didn’t know you had it in you, by the way,” he told her.

“What are you talking about?”

Riddick held on to one of the skiff’s overhead handles.

“You know. The saccharine voice and eyelash-batting. Or do you reserve those for special occasions?”

“Like you said, Riddick,” she answered, slipping into the cockpit with the intent of getting some clothes on. “A lot of things you don’t know about me.”

Instead of turning away to giver her some privacy, as she must have expected, Riddick remained facing her. Fry had to stoop down to retrieve her pants, which she had tossed under the seats somewhere. When she straightened up and saw him openly watching her every move, she propped her hand on her hip and glared at him. When he still refused to turn around, she raised her eyebrow and gave him a pointed look. Riddick simply smirked. And as if to irk her even more, he lifted his goggles and set them atop his forehead. He crossed his arms, leaned against the wall of the skiff, and waited like he had all the time in the world. It was at that point that Fry looked homicidal.

Serves her right for pulling that stunt on me, he thought.

“Shy, Carolyn?” he teased her in a husky voice.

A blush crept up her neck and colored her already pink cheeks. Riddick caught the hesitation in her eyes as she gripped the blanket to her chest. Finally, she raised her chin and shot daggers at him before turning around.

Riddick smiled when he heard her mutter “Asshole” under her breath. The smile, however, faded at the sight of the blood-stained bandages he had taped to her back. But when the blanket completely fell away from Fry’s slender form, all other thoughts in his head were shoved aside. His eyes drank her in hungrily as she stood with her back to him. The swell of her hips, the elegant arch of her spine, and the way her shoulder blades played against the skin…

Riddick shifted uncomfortably when he felt the familiar tugging at the groin of his pants.

Meanwhile, Fry was quickly pulling on her own pants. She straightened up and pulled the waistband over her hips. In her haste, she left the fly on the side unzipped. She snatched her top from the pilot’s seat and shoved her arms thought it. She tried to put it on as carefully as she had earlier, but the half-shredded cloth that was her top snagged onto one of the bandages. She tugged harder, but it only managed to do more damage.

Shit, she cursed, craning her neck to look at her back.

Riddick quickly walked up right behind her and bent his head close to hers.

“Let ME,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear, stilling the frustrated movement of her arms.

Fry stiffened at the nearness of his body, but gradually relaxed and allowed her arms to fall to her sides.

With great care, Riddick released her top from the snare of her bandages and taped the gauze back into place. He slipped his fingers beneath and around her top and pulled it down ever so slowly. He heard her gasp faintly when his fingers brushed the sides of her already sensitized breasts. With her top finally in place, Fry started to turn around and face him but Riddick kept her from doing so. He stepped even closer to her, until he was pressed against her length. He thought he felt her lean against him. This close to her, in the confines of the cockpit, he breathed in her scent. She smelled of dirt, rain, sweat, and all woman. Riddick was intoxicated. Fry swiveled her head to the side and watched Riddick’s finger go to the side of her pants. He found the tab and fiddled with it a moment. Both pairs of eyes were mesmerized by the movement of his fingers pulling up her zipper until her pants fit snugly around her.

“There you go,” he drawled, stepping away from her.

Fry cleared her throat, refusing to meet his eyes.

“Thanks,” she whispered. She stumbled into the pilot’s seat and took a second to collect herself. Riddick sat in the co-pilot’s seat and looked out the window to his right. He knew he was playing with fire now.

“We should be arriving at The Incubus in no time,” she said awkwardly, after checking the panels. Riddick turned back to her and watched her flick switches above and in front of her. He noticed that she was taking longer than usual to get the skiff started and ready for take-off.

“Need some help?” he asked wryly.

“I got it,” she said tersely, strapping herself in.

“If you say so, Captain.”

“By the way,” she continued, as the skiff hummed to life, “the look on your face back there with that cop….”

Fry gunned the engine and gave Riddick a impish grin.

“…was priceless.”

Riddick had to smile as Fry’s laughter drowned out the roar of the skiff taking off.

……………………….

Riddick and Fry stood side by side as they watched the hatch open. With the loading ramp completely lowered to the ground, they looked out over the expanse of the desert and were greeted by the starlit night. The glimmering lights of the nearest city could be sighted over the horizon. Neither Riddick nor Fry spoke. Fry felt the cool night breeze and shivered. She hugged herself, wondering if she'd ever be at ease in the dark again. As if sensing her discomfort, Riddick moved to place himself between her and the open hatch, blocking out the darkness. Fry took a deep breath and looked up at him.

"Well," she said, shrugging, "this is it."

"Guess so," he said distractedly, his eyes roaming her face, like he was memorizing every feature. He did not have his goggles on and in his eyes, Fry read something. Eyes that only earlier had been cold and expressionless now reflected the turmoil she felt herself.

What do I say now, she asked herself. Do I say 'thank you'? Wish him a safe journey?

Fry let out a frustrated sigh. Everything she could think to say seemed to belittle the experience they've just shared. What do you say at a time like this? She had no answer, so she reached out and took his hand. When she met no resistance, she lifted it and placed it above her heart. Then she covered his hand with both of hers, as if meaning to keep it there forever. Riddick raised his eyes to hers and saw that she had closed her eyes; so he did the same. And in that moment, with his hand on her, something passed between them. Fry felt the heat coming from his hand and warming her entire being. Memories from the planet flashed before her mind's eye. She saw the image of Riddick springing forward, held back by the chains that bound him…of him intervening when Johns looked about to blow her brains out…and of him carrying her under the rain and bringing her to safety.

She opened her eyes and scanned his face. His eyes were closed still and his forehead was creased in deep thought.

Was he feeling the same thing, she wondered.

There were so many things left unsaid, and this was the only way she knew she could let him know. Riddick's eyes finally opened and once again, Fry marveled at how they shone when they caught the lights from the skiff.

"Take me with you," she blurted. She didn't know why she asked again, albeit half-heartedly.

Uncertainty flickered in Riddick's eyes. She saw his anguish, and yet a part of her secretly wished for his defenses to crumble.

"I can't," he said firmly but gently, although his voice hinted at how much some part of him wanted to.

That would have to be enough, she thought. She nodded and squeezed the hand on her chest.

"I understand."

Riddick searched her face. "Do you?," he asked seriously.

She gave him a small smile. "I think I do."

Riddick lifted his hand away from hers and gently cupped the side of her face. Fry leaned into his hand, reveling in its warmth and strength. He moved his hand from her face down to the back of her neck and slowly drew her to him. She willingly went into his arms and had to stand on her toes to wrap her arms around his neck. Riddick's strong arms encircled her gently as he buried his face in her hair. Fry indulged in the feeling of his strong arms holding her close.

"Goodbye, Riddick," she said softly in his ear after a while. He said nothing, but gave her a gentle squeeze.

Riddick pulled back and looked deeply into her eyes. She lifted her face as his inched closer to hers. Closing her eyes, she felt his warm breath on her cheek. And with their arms around each other, they kissed.

The taste of him was like coming home, their mouths coming together without any awkwardness or uncertainty. His mouth was soft and warm; hers pliant and willing. Tilting her head to the side, she opened her mouth to him. The kiss started out sweet and promising, but it was like a floodgate had been opened and neither Riddick nor Fry could hold back the torrent of need that burst forth. Soon, they were kissing each other eagerly and hungrily, borne out of the desperation they both felt. Pressing herself against him, she heard him groan deeply before he tightened his embrace, until he nearly drove the air from her lungs. But she didn't mind. Fry whimpered as a delicious heady feeling filled and engulfed her with a longing so intense she thought she would burst into flames right there in his arms.

Oxygen-starved, they finally pulled apart. Riddick took Fry's face in his large hands and laid his fevered forehead against hers. Their wheezing breaths mingled and echoed in the interior of the skiff. With their eyes closed, they held each other for the last time. Fry heard her own heartbeat pounding loud in her ears, and wondered if maybe Riddick could hear it too.

Slowly, Riddick stepped away from her and brushed back a strand of her hair. He then turned and grabbed a light from under of the seats. Fry watched wordlessly as he hung it around his neck, turned and made his way down the ramp. Fry tried to say something but their bone-melting kiss had left her disoriented still. And just like that, without even looking back, Riddick started walking away. Fry took a step forward after his retreating figure; but then stopped. Because she knew; beyond any question, that this was the way he wanted it. And somehow, somewhere along the way, what he wanted had become more important to her than what she wanted. So she simply watched him walk away from her, and let the darkness swallow him up completely.

……………………….

Riddick jogged towards the lights of the city nearby. He had been to the Incubus before, and knew his way around fairly well. He knew of a man who lived there; someone from the Slam who owed him big time after Riddick had inadvertently saved his life in one of the in-house brawls back then.

Time to pay a friend a visit, he thought wryly.

It had been a good 5 minutes since he'd left the skiff. And Fry. It had taken every ounce of his self-control to not look back once he stepped off the ramp. He knew that if he had, he would have been sorely tempted to jump back on board and damn the consequences. That kiss alone was enough to convince him to stay, but he knew it had to be this way. Though he knew how much of a mistake kissing her would be, he had wondered what it would be like. Fry had intrigued him from the start, but Riddick never seriously entertained the possibility that they could get to know each other better.

Back in the skiff, during their last few minutes together, he had felt a wave of emotions surge through him. Emotions he'd never felt before; emotions that confused him. Parting with someone had never stirred him as much before. He'd been on some wild, crazy shit in the past, but what happened back on the planet…that was something else entirely. Chained and blindfolded in that cryo-locker, he sensed something was about to go wrong quick, but nothing prepared him for the horror that rock held. Who knew so much could go down in so little time? Who knew he had to pay this much to gain his freedom? But if the ship hadn't crashed where it had, he'd probably be in that asshole of a cell. If Johns hadn't picked him up when he did, he wouldn't be the Riddick he had now become.

Motherfucker was a do-right man after all, Riddick thought.

Riddick slowed down to a halt and looked up at the twinkling stars above him, and wondered where Fry could be by then. He was certainly not going to forget about her.

"Watch your ass, Carolyn," he murmured, before moving onwards again.

Once he reached the outskirts of the city, he shoved the image of Fry to the back of his mind. For the meantime. He had a man to find and a life to rebuild. Riddick was finally free.

……………………….

Fry had been preparing for take-off, but it had taken her longer than usual. She fumbled over the switches because her tears were blurring her vision. With the skiff's engine finally revved up, she sat back and tried to get her shit together. She was alone, and she was dead tired. She wasn't just drained physically, but emotionally as well. Still not believing what she had just survived, she wished Jack and Imam were there with her. She found some peace at the thought that she had at least tried; had been willing to die for them.

Fry closed her eyes and tried to conjure the image of Riddick in her head. She missed him already. With Riddick gone, she felt a little scared. She realized how much she had learned to rely on Riddick for security and a sense of comfort.

Who would've thought, she mused, that it would be Riddick who'd save their asses. She was thinking of him and their kiss, when something dawned on her.

"He never said goodbye", she said softly, opening her eyes.

And then Fry just knew. Something inside her assured her that it was Riddick's way of telling her that they WOULD meet again; that there was no need for goodbyes. With the thought that their paths could cross in the future, she braced herself and finally pushed the lever. And as the skiff ran forward and off into the great beyond, Fry allowed herself a small, hopeful smile.

Hello, New Mecca.

 

t h e * e n d

 

 
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