Title: Pound of Flesh
Author: GoSpeedGrrrl
Email: GoSpeedGrrrl AT yahoo.com
Rating: ADULT
Summary: Fry didn't die... but she did have to bargain...
Disclaimers: Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick and their characters belong to Universal Studios. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Warnings: Harsh Language, Explicit Sexual Content, Death

 

She didn't bother to open her eyes. A pointless action when the silent room held the same forever blackness whether it was day or night, eyes opened or shut. He'd taken care of that the day he'd rented the flat, as she'd stood by, watching, numbed into near ambivalence. Heavy black-out blinds covered by thick, dark drapes. The lights at their brightest topped out at 7% in the bedroom, 25% in the rest of the flat. She thought that was his concession to her presence here...to her existence.

This was his domain. Everything between these walls was tailored to suit him. Even her.

She lay on her side, slack against the cool material, her body sinking into a mattress that had immortalized her shape. She knew already what had awakened her; the routine so settled it was almost subconscious. She sighed, feeling him watch her, knowing he knew she was awake. His heavy arm came around to draw her back against him under the well-worn sheets. His strong, practiced hand sliding lower into her panties, he began slowly awakening her to arousal. She sighed again and faintly smiled, wondering if her body would ever stop responding to his touch. She tilted her head slightly, and he raised up on one elbow, his mouth finding her jaw line. His lips trailed down her throat to where it met her shoulder, and she tensed in anticipation.

A small smile curled Riddick's lips as he lowered his teeth to her pale skin. He liked to bite... because she liked to be bitten. What had started out as a message- his mark, his flesh, his woman- had changed. The arch of her back had been all the encouragement he needed, and still was. His fingers circled her clit, and careful not to break the skin of her shoulder, he clamped down with measured, steady force. He felt himself harden further at her moan of pleasure, and ground at his erection against her ass. He pushed her plain, cotton panties down past her thighs and she kicked them off into the depths of the blankets, as always, to be fished out after he was gone.

And then she was still. Waiting for him.

Another small smile as he hooked her leg over his, pulling her to a better angle and teasing her with the head of his cock. It was more compliance than it was submission, and that compliance held an acceptance he'd never known.

Long since trained to his voracious appetite and the urgent pace he set, her hand came up to rest on the back of his closely-shaven head and she pressed back against his solid mass as he entered her slowly.

Riddick felt a familiar thrill course through him at the cool touch of her small hand, and his want of her soared. "Carolyn..."

His low whisper always hit unexpected depths inside her, and birthed a strumming that seemed to start from her center and radiate out. Simultaneously, they pushed towards one another, and her hand came down to cover his where he still stroked her. "Ridiiicckkk..."

She punctuated his name with a little moan, urging him on, and he complied, pulling out and refilling her more forcefully each time. He held a steady rhythm, never changing the motion of his fingers, and closed his eyes, lost in her, his face buried in the nape of her neck where the soft waves smelled like some unknown flower and always brought him some small inner peace.

It was her smell, and she was his.

Carolyn pushed back thought as he took over her body, enjoying his touch and his time-honed skills. If she let herself think, the resentment might creep in, ruining one of the few real pleasures she had. Between them, there was a companionable silence. If she wanted to talk, she had his attention, and when he spoke, she knew she could take what he said as simple, unadorned truth. He was quiet and brooding - smarter even than she'd first thought - and he took care of her. He'd never denied a request, no matter how odd or frivolous his face said he thought it was... So there was that. It could've been a lot worse. He could've been cruel. He could've been a shitty lover... but he wasn't. Both facts she was reminded of almost daily. In all ways, her lover was her jailer. Even now, as they moved together in the hollow darkness of his world, she felt his hold on her tighten. "Riddick..."

This time her voice held both plea and command, and Riddick's body tensed in response, ready to end it. He knew her now -- knew she was close and needed more. Grunting with his efforts and with his self-restraint, he pushed her half onto her stomach, straddling one leg and lifting the other to his hip. He growled through clenched teeth and watched her fists ball into the covers as she pushed back to him. "I wanna feel it, Carolyn...come on..."

Her gasps escalated into strangled cries, and she pushed back harder, locking her elbows and grinding against him each time they connected and he hit home. He was dragging her along now, so anxious for his own release... His teeth grazed her skin and she shuddered. The length of her body hummed, and she suddenly froze, trusting him to guide her through.

Riddick felt her go still and smiled in his victory. He grunted harshly into her taut shoulder with every thrust, feeling the sweat slide down the molded planes of his back in rivulets. He ground a little harder, and she cried out. His lips close to her ear, his speech was guttural and commanding. "Tell me, Carolyn... Tell me...who you belong to..."

Carolyn felt his mouth lock onto the base of her neck -- felt the slightest sting as he broke the capillaries underneath -- but quick as the pain started, the pressure centered in her abdomen. She only had time to moan his name before she was lost in the pulsing waves. She was half-aware of him pulling out. Half-aware of the heat on her back as he came. Half-aware when he pushed her down onto her stomach and left the room, coming back minutes later with a hot wash cloth. Half-aware as he cleaned her and pulled the covers back up over her. Already sleeping as he made himself breakfast and ate before leaving.

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Like most days, Riddick smiled on the inside as he made his way through the crowded, dank streets of Semiealle, but the people around him - whether they really saw him or not - made way with few exceptions. The large man in the thin leather coat, his bucket hat pulled snug over his shaven head, had the gait of someone getting down to business, and the self-assured posture of a natural-born brute. The recent socio-political upheaval of the planet made it a haven for miscreants, and that made him one of thousands. Or made him seem like one of the thousands. He disliked the throw-backs that surrounded them, but the anonymity suited him just fine. Riddick snarled suddenly when he stepped off the curb into what looked like simple runoff and found himself calf-deep in the murky dregs of the day's rain. He moved quickly, shoving people carelessly out of his path, but felt the water seeping down into his boots, soaking his socks. The rest of the night would be miserable, and he cursed his bad luck of not being able to find a "details" job that would have kept him out of the manual labor field for at least a few weeks. Every month's new influx glutted the market with less talented but much cheaper competition, and unless he actively looked, the offers were fewer and less appealing. His reputation preceded him, to be sure, but to most clients, dead was dead and cheaper was better. There were still some clients who preferred his subtle, neat ways, but by and large, the companies that had kept them fed - and him out of a hardhat - had relocated before their moderate losses got worse when the planet was on the down-swing. The tumultuous settling of the planet had brought development deals, which meant plenty of ass-busting manual labor. On this morning - whether Carolyn bitched or not, and even though it sometimes took him out of the city for days- as he walked the last blocks to the site, he regretted not taking one of the "in-house" transfers some of his larger clients had offered. Working out ‘details’ on retainer beat the Hell out of slogging through this mess. He slid his ID chip through the scanner and headed toward his sector. Twelve hours tonight… if he could get it.

 

Carolyn lay in bed a few minutes after she woke, just enjoying the satiny coolness of the sheets over her body before the start of her day. She watched the evening news as she ate breakfast, then rinsed both their dishes and put them in the washer before picking up the rest of the apartment. She surfed SemNet while the laundry spun itself to cleanliness, slamming her fist on the desktop occasionally when the voice boomed out "None shall pass!" and Riddick's custom Labyrinth program barred her entrance from sites it deemed too invasive. Keying in a "slave" site she knew enraged him, she left it blasting it's slideshow of domination and humiliation across the screen for him to stew over when he finally dragged his ass back.

 

Riddick's feet were numb, but he reminded himself what the extra hours he put in could mean. Money would never mean freedom to him, but it added a little security and gave him the means to move them somewhere else when he needed to. He finally threw in the towel when he lost his footing on an eighth story makeshift catwalk, and very nearly took the fast way down. Lights out -- not pretty. Also not terribly uncommon under the perilous work conditions around him. As he took the service lift down (slower, but overall much more effective) and waited while his day's pay was loaded onto his bankcard like everyone else, he imagined Carolyn's panic. The first day she’d just be pissed; he'd taken "breathers" before. The second day, she'd start to speculate... The third day she'd probably be a gibbering ball of terror. No need to go further, because on the third day of his absence, the automatic security would disarm itself and the bolt would pull from the inside. When that happened, his prefab message would fill every screen and speaker in the apartment with instructions to clear the accounts and get the fuck out of Dodge. Almost as an afterthought, he'd added that if he was still breathing, he'd get in touch with Imam, and she should do the same if she ever needed... or wanted... him. In his way, he’d thanked her for honoring their agreement. On the tape, he looks at the camera, seemingly wanting to say something, then reaches over and switches it off. Thinking she might bury a steak knife in his spine, he'd never told her. During the walk home, he considered doing just that.

 

Carolyn barely glanced up from the book she was reading when she heard the door open.

"S'me." He called from the doorway as he undid his boots.

Raking her hands through her clean, damp hair, Carolyn rolled her eyes, but couldn't stop a smile. For two years, the only person that didn't call "S'me." in that basso voice when they entered had been a semi-legitimate doctor Riddick had brought when her fever had reached 105 and not come down. "Kitchen..." she called back, and heard his footsteps head her way. She took the plate with what was left of her chicken pita to the counter and turned a dial on the stove, pulling the chicken from the fridge and raking it into the skillet for him. She glanced up from the cutting board and frowned a little when she saw how tired he looked. "Hey."

A slight upward nod of his head was her acknowledgment. He leaned back against the cabinet opposite her and watched her slice the lettuce and banana peppers. Any other time, the sight of her in a tank and cheek-hugging shorts might've brought other ideas, but he was beyond tired. He watched her stir the chicken as he finished off her cold leftovers, and when she started toward the small table with his dinner, he stopped her and set the plate aside. He gently sat her on the counter and leaned his face against her chest, his heavy arms resting on the counter, hands clasped behind her.

Carolyn felt how exhausted he was, and her arms came up protectively to hold him. "Rough day?" She took his heavy sigh as affirmation, and rested her cheek on his head for a moment. "Turn around." He ignored her and she smiled, giving him the small push. "Turn around and I'll give you a massage while you eat."

He ate slowly and in silence, and when he was done, he didn't move for a few minutes, but enjoyed her touch. Taking her hand, he kissed the palm in a gesture that mirrored her own tenderness, and was about to let her in on the three-day plan when his eyes fell on the flashing monitor across the room, and his jaw tensed. "You know that pisses me off."

Carolyn glanced over at the screen in time to see a woman with a bit, a small trickle of blood dripping from the corner of her mouth. She resisted the urge to laugh at the irony and instead shrugged. "I was pissed when I put it up."

Riddick shook his head slowly, as if dealing with a tiring child. "Making me mad never helps... You think you do, but you don't know shit about that stuff."

Her hands slid off his shoulders and she pushed on his back. "I’m not bound and gagged, but you make sure I remember who controls me. Who I...belong to."

Riddick was silent, staring across the room at the pictures that he found so disturbing... wondering how she could equate herself to the often abused women on the screen.

Carolyn watched him for a minute before stepping forward to stand beside him. She watched the semi-consensual images and asked quietly, "You think I don’t know… but who did you ever belong to, Riddick?"

Riddick looked over at her with no hint of emotion. "Same as you, Carolyn. I belong to me." Without waiting for a reply, he headed to their bedroom for a long shower.

As the spray pounded his back, he reminded himself that she was there by her own choosing. Despite his harsh words, he felt the occasional sting of self-reproach for allowing it to go so far... but it was her doing. It had been her bargain: their guaranteed safety for her...companionship.

He remembered coming back to the apartment almost too drunk to walk that first night. He’d sat throwing back shots of rot-gut whiskey with Everclear chasers until he deemed himself half-docile, getting sloppy-drunk… wary of what he might do. That he might lose control and break her spirit if he had to break her in. He’d stumbled into a quiet apartment, the only light coming from the bathroom in their room. She'd sat, rigid, in the bed, watching with leery eyes as he'd moved sluggishly about the room and gotten ready for his shower. He'd paused in front of the bed, his gaze unwavering and serious. "I'm no Boy Scout, Carolyn. There's a reason we ain't got single beds. You don't want me to touch you, use your mouth. I won't lay my hands on you if you don't want me to. But I want what I want." He'd pulled his head back a little and cocked it to the side. "Capite?"

She’d let out a heavy breath - maybe glad to have it out in the open -- and nodded once.

When he'd come out, he'd sobered a little and was glad to find her waiting, lying in bed with the sheet tucked under her arms and her clothes discarded. She'd cut her eyes once at him, then stared back up at the ceiling. "Well?"

Riddick had chuckled a little and crawled across the bed towards her. He’d looked at her for a minute, thinking how beautiful and unspoiled she was, lust stirring him as he thought of her sleeping beside him, nothing to keep him from her. He'd held her gaze as his hands ran over her, his movements slow and deliberate and as gentle as he could be, and she'd started to relax. By the second week, she'd become an enthusiastic lover. If he went a few days without initiating something, she'd become moody, and he'd find her waiting on his side of the bed wearing little or nothing in a not-so-subtle invitation that he never declined.

Whatever they were to one another, she was far from abused. Far from those weakened creatures on the monitor...

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Carolyn waited, conflicted, her emotions warring with her mind . She'd gotten used to living inside his life - going to bed at sun-up, rising at dusk, wandering by his side in the hours just before dawn through the deserted markets that never closed their doors - but she couldn't resign herself to caring for someone that saw her as a pet or a household fixture. A man who belonged only to himself... who gave only the physical. Her brow creased as she remembered his words from months before when he'd held her tightly against him and murmured that they belonged together. Tired from a hard day of work and even harder sex, he'd been weaving into sleep, and she hadn't said anything. Badly shaken, she hadn't known what to say. She heard him brushing his teeth and turned on her side so she could watch him come to her.

Riddick squinted as he walked toward their bed, holding his palm up to block the direct light of the candle. "Put that out."

Carolyn sat up and watched as he crawled into bed, silently appreciative as always of his powerful physique. "I wanna watch you..."

Riddick sighed heavily and arranged his pillows before laying on his side and closing his eyes. "Watch me do what?"

She stood a book to block the majority of light and looked at him quizzically. "You're that tired?"

He looked up at her, annoyed, before closing his eyes again. "I'm too tired to have this conversation..."

Carolyn raised an eyebrow and aimed for a rise from him. "Too tired to... use my body?"

A slight twitch on Riddick's face. "Use your body..." he repeated, then uttered a snort of laughter, like it was a bad joke. Despite his aching feet and sore muscles and need for sleep, he couldn't stop his body's response to the idea. He lay there a second before rolling onto his back and looking up at her again. "You want it enough to do the work?" She considered it for a moment and was about to answer when he cut her off. "Don't let my snoring stop you." He closed his eyes, the smirk still on his lips.

Anger flashed across her face, but then she smiled, flopping back onto her pillow beside him. “ lazyass.”

Riddick bit back a smile and rolled on top of her. "You better not be tryin’ to kill me, woman..." He kissed her and her hands came up to cradle his face. His weight on her was delicious as she watched his eyes as he lowered his face until their noses were almost touching. "Can we make this fast? I'm sacked."

Her leg came up to wrap around his waist. "Take yours. I just wanna watch."

Riddick smirked as she bent underneath him to push his boxer briefs down over his thighs. "Demanding and kinky..."

She didn't reply, just smiled as she guided him home and watched. His jaw clinched, he bit his lips ... He looked somehow strained and at peace - in pain and in ecstasy - in the same moment... He looked down a few times to watch them join... He almost never closed his eyes... But none of it spoke clearly enough to Carolyn about what he was feeling as he touched her. Finally he scowled, and she realized he was waiting on her. Her hands slid up the tense muscles of his arms to lace behind his neck, and she brought his face close to hers. "What do you feel, Riddick...?"

Riddick nudged her head to the side and bit her neck lightly, his tongue running a line to her ear, keeping his mistrusting eyes from her scrutiny. "Carolyn...I feel you ..."

His tone was laconic as ever, no tenderness, and she close her eyes. She had no doubt he knew what she was going for, and he'd side-stepped her neatly. There'd be no answer for her tonight. She moved against him harder, squelching her own desire for release and willing him to finish so she could brood alone in the darkness without his breath and touch to drill into her senses like a wound that won't heal. She picked a spot on the ceiling and whispered for him to let it go.

Riddick felt a surge of panic at her questioning. What did he feel? Fuck. Could I even tell you if I knew? he thought. He watched her as he finally came, his body relieved but his soul not in it. The vacancy in her face was a sharp contrast to the frenzied movements of her body.

He thought of the last time he'd hurt her and seen that. He remembered her cold expression as she'd backed away from him. "You smell like a drunken whore. Go shower." He'd shrugged it off and done as she said. It wasn't the first time she'd sneered at the smell of liquor on him when he came in, his motions slow and heavy. He'd had her with him for five months, and half a dozen times he'd detoured to a pub to blow off steam before heading home. The few times he'd been with other women, he hadn't tried to hide it, and she hadn't forced a discussion... But when he'd come to bed that last time, she hadn't been there. He'd found her in the laundry room folding towels, and when she wouldn't so much as meet his eyes, he'd left her there. After two weeks of hostile silence dotted with unsatisfying, on-demand blow jobs, a hazy realization had begun to form in his head. Carolyn did mind. Very much. Sitting at a silent meal where she once again avoided his gaze, he'd had enough. He'd leaned forward, resting his weight on his elbows. "I won't do it again."

She'd looked up slowly and watched him hard for an eternal minute, plainly deciding if she believed him, then nodded once and gone back to her meal.

Her touch that night had been the most intense of his life, and he'd whispered her name shakily through a humblingly fast orgasm. She'd smiled gently and clung to him all night, something she'd never done. Since then, he'd stayed mostly out of pubs and completely out of women, and everything had been calm until now.

In the aftershocks of a detached orgasm, he tried for once to dissect his feelings for her. No one would ever accuse him of being an emotional person ...the ones he had readily on hand were always in check and tended toward distaste and mistrust. But for her, there was more. Whether he could give it to her or not, he knew what she wanted...what he supposed all women wanted at some point... Declarations of love. Devotion. Commitment.

He rolled onto his back, pulling her against his chest and holding her for a few minutes even though he felt her apathy. He let her go when she tugged at his arm, and he watched as she turned her back to him. In his mind, he could see himself running his fingers along her shoulder blade to her spine and down to the small of her back, slipping his fingers around to her soft belly and pressing himself closer, whispering to her as she fell asleep, "I love you, Carolyn... I love touching you. I love having you here when I get home... Just knowing you're waiting for me..." His hand started to reach for her, to soothe both of them, but he caught himself. If it was love he had for her, she didn't feel it... And shouldn't she feel loved if she was? He stared at her for a few minutes, his eyes getting lost in the silky waves as he fell asleep.

Carolyn let him pull her close, though it felt not tender to her but just part of an itinerary to be kept. Bitter tears threaten to spill from her eyes, and she pulled away from him, turning her back to his watchful eyes to let the tears roll silently down her face. 'It isn't supposed to be like this.' She understood wanting him: he was strong and beautiful and there...and she had needs. What pissed her off was how much she needed him to want her. She wanted...What?...his love? She closed her eyes against the admission. '..Fucking ridiculous...' She heard his breathing settle as the exhaustion won out, and chanced a swipe at her face before blowing out the candle and settling back into the covers. She suddenly missed the way he'd reflexively grabbed for her the first few months they'd been together, and wished she'd never complained out of spite that he made her sweat so she couldn't sleep. He'd soon demonstrated a masterful control of even his sleeping movements, and although he'd reached out a few times and touched her, he hadn't pulled her against him. She lay there without even that reassurance, a chasm of isolation and longing filling the inches between them, wondering how much of her life she'd auctioned off too hastily...too cheaply.

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"Leave the door open."

Riddick looked up from the sink, meeting her eyes in the mirror as he rinsed the toothpaste from his mouth. "Wha for?" His gaze stayed on her as he lathered up his jaw and started to shave.

"Come on, Riddick. If I wanted to go I'd just make a scene next time we're out. You can't keep me if I decide to go..." his expression told her he was nonplussed by her speech and still expecting an answer. He glanced at his watch pointedly, and she sighed, leaning back against the door frame. "We were supposed to get some stuff last night... But you never showed. We're out of everything. Bread, milk..."

"So I noticed."

There wasn't a 'tone' to his comment, but it needled at Carolyn's gut. She tensed, pulling herself to her full height, hands hanging in fists at her sides,eyes flashing. "See, genius, this...is how...it works. They put one gallon of milk in there. The more you drink, the less there is to drink. You notice the container getting light, you buy more if you want milk with your breakfast. It's a pattern any 4 year old could follow. And since you've got me sealed up in here... Shit! You know, for someone so intelligent, you lapse into moron mode a lot!"

The acid in her voice took Riddick aback, but he didn't let it show. He glanced at her reflection in the mirror as he finished shaving, then turned to face her as he toweled off. "So I'm stupid...?"

Carolyn glared back at him, frustrated and infuriated by his impassive demeanor. She felt the wasted breath and wasted minutes stretch to encompass the past 2 years. Wasted. A wave of rage and pain rolled up from the pit of her stomach, pushing her voice to a yell. " Yes! You're stupid...! You're stupid for never noticing the milk... for thinking that door will hold me once I really want to go... and you're stupid for not loving the one person that loves you!"

She turned and stormed through the bedroom and Riddick watched her go before sitting heavily onto the counter, his shoulders slumped. He stared after her, then ran a rough palm over his scalp. He turned and looked at himself ruefully as he finished drying his face and smoothed lotion over his jaw. The silver of his watch caught his eye as he grabbed his shirt and headed toward the door: 25 minutes to make a 30 minute walk.

She was standing at the window, staring out over the city at twilight. He saw that the street lights were starting to flicker on, and it was almost possible to see what the city had been before the chaos and restructuring. As he got closer, he saw the shaking breaths she took and flinched. He reached out and laid a hand on her shoulder, but she shook it off. "Carolyn...come on. We'll talk about this when I get home...You wanna yell, you can yell. Whatever you want. Just hold it until I get here..." He reached out again and quickly squeezed her shoulder before he turned to go, pulling his jacket on as he went, sparing her small frame one last glance as the door closed between them.

 

Carolyn went blindly through the house, wiping at her face, feeling suddenly defeated when she realized there was nowhere to hide from him. She stopped in front of the dining room window and fought to get herself under control. Control. That was a laugh. She couldn't control her feelings, her mouth, or her tears. She choked on the regret for her words, and it fueled her confusion that even her anger toward him should be tempered with understanding and allowance for who and what he was. She heard him coming and took a deep breath, not wanting him to see how upset she was. Not wanting to give him that much to work with. His voice was caring when he spoke her name, but she shrugged his hand from her shoulder, refusing the comfort it gave even as she acknowledged it.

They'd talk about it later. Just wait for him.

She knew he needed to leave. When you were late without notice, somebody would eventually replace you with one of the men on the stand-by roster. He worked hard, long hours, and with a lesser paying job, they would only get longer and harder.

Just wait.

She listened to him go I wondered if he’d impose that by locking the door and leaving her no other option.

She waited for a click that never came.

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Riddick cut his way through the crowds of the busy sidewalks, stiff-arming more than he had to, ignoring complaints. He was making good time with his purposeful strides...might still clock in on time. He was less than a block away when he stopped abruptly. Pitched forward when a man following too closely collided with his back, he scowled and brushed the man away as he turned and fell back into the same brisk pace. He held his arm out before him, a simple flick of his wrist detoured people out of his way as he headed toward the apartment.

'...for not loving the one person that loves you...'

Whatever happened, he wouldn't let her leave thinking that. Wouldn't let her leave thinking that their time together meant nothing. That she meant nothing.

As he neared the apartment, his anxiety built. 'Let her still be packing.' The crowds were thinner here, more negotiable. He was almost running. He looked up at their fifth story windows as he crossed the street, as if they would tell him something. Or maybe he hoped to see her silouette watching above him. He pounded half-heartedly on the hood of a car that almost ran him down in his carelessness. The horn blared, but it was useless under the roar of construction up the street. The driver leaned out the window and yelled , but Riddick never spared him look as he keyed the security code for the building and took the stairs two and three at a time. 'She wouldn't leave with nothing.' The door on their landing was unlocked, and as he went through, it suddenly struck him that she would've taken the elevator. He should've waited... He was panting lightly as he opened their door, hesitating before stepping in and letting it close behind him. The first thing Riddick noticed was the silence, and his stomach dropped, but then there was a sound, and he let out a relieved breath. 'Still here.' There was a small leather bag by the door that he didn't recognize, and he quietly crouched beside it. He fingered the zipper, trying to place it, deciding if he should open it, but froze when he heard a male voice coming from the back of the flat.

Suddenly Carolyn's voice cut the man off. "Shut the hell up! Like I said...you don't know shit."

"Listen lady... This don't concern you. Take your junk and get out now..."

"Shut. Up. ." Her voice was strained, and he recognized the tone... from the planet, when all Hell had broken loose... the wheels grinding in her mind clogged with fear and insolent determination. She was doing her best to get past the worst, and pulling on reserves to do it.

Using as much stealth as possible, he crept to the bedroom door and peered in, trying to assess the situation before he got involved. What he saw made him forget the element of surprise. There she stood, holding his military issue firearm - half aimed, he noted - at their landlord.

"Where the fuck did you get that!?"

She whirled toward him, raising the gun as she did. She sneered when she realized it was him. "Where you left it...Where did you get it?"

Riddick breathed a little easier when she lowered her aim from his face to his chest. " How did you get it?"

Carolyn swallowed and swiped at her face with the back of one hand. "Hacked your codes. I got a lotta spare time on my hands..."

Riddick took a deep breath, his mind already working the scenarios into place. Okay. That probably meant she knew how much was in the cash accounts. And if she knew he'd been keeping that from her for the last two years...then redirecting that gun was Objective One. "Mind telling me why you have the landlord at gunpoint?"

Carolyn's eyes cut to the man backed to the wall beside the bathroom, then angrily back at Riddick. "Landlord, eh? Then why doesn't he know I live here? Why does he think I'm one of your whores from the bars?" Her gaze trained on the landlord as her aim centered between the two of them. She visibly calmed as she looked at him. Her tongue ran over her bottom lip and she sniffed loudly. "He's cashing you in, Riddick. It's over."

Riddick tried to keep his voice calm, but he was acutely aware that he had two threats to deal with. It was a coin toss as to which one was more dangerous right then. "...He knows who I am..." It was half question and completely rhetorical. "Okay. Give me the gun and go find something to tie him up...Something that'll keep a few days." He took a step towards her, but froze when she turned the gun on him.

"I give you anything, it'll be the business end. Stay the fuck back."

Anger flashed in both their eyes as they glared at one another. He considered making a grab for the pistol, but looking at her, he thought there was a good chance he'd come up short a finger or two at best. He swallowed slowly and made a conscious effort to soften towards her. "Carolyn...my whole life is a contingency plan. I got this shit covered. We tie up Mata Hari here, grab some shit, and leave terra. We head..."

" We? What we?"

The gun was in neutral territory again, but Riddick didn't think it'd stay that way if he kept pissing her off. He glanced angrily at the intruder plastered to his wall, but his lips curled into his most disarming smile as he turned back to Carolyn. He ran his hand over his scalp and scratched the back of his neck, shifting his considerable bulk as he did, hoping to connect with her through their shared physical familiarity. She was damn near unhinged, and his outward calm couldn't hurt. He let his arms fall to his sides. "We. You think I'd leave without you?"

Her brow furrowed, and her bottom lip quivered. She took a step backward and tightened her grip on the gun. "Just pack me up with the rest of your shit...your possessions...?" Her jaw clinched and she sniffed loudly, the gun squarely on him now. "Aren't you tired of me yet?" He took a step towards her, and she raised her aim to his face, her eyes flashing with renewed rage. Her lip lifted in a sneer and shook her head at him, her voice louder. "When will it be enough, Riddick? Haven't I paid you back? Haven't you got your...your... pound of flesh ...yet?"

Riddick's eyes flickered to the man's face as he took a step in retreat. "Carolyn...it's not about that anymore.... Thought you felt that."

"Felt? Felt?!? What do you know about feeling? You're a fucking robot! Nothing to live for, nothing worth dying for... You just are... But at least you exist in the real world. I only exist...in yours."

Riddick saw the hurt in her eyes and took a hesitant step forward, speaking softly. "Carolyn, think. Why am I here?" She held her ground but was silent, so he went on. "I came back for you. I'm going to lose my fucking job, but I came back... because you're wrong..." he leveled his gaze at her, blocking out the gun... the sounds of construction on the street, the malevolent stare of the man he was going to kill the first chance he got..." You said I don't love you... and that's not true."

Carolyn's grip wavered and she stared at him incredulously, sure she was misunderstanding.

Suddenly the man's sarcastic voice cut in. "Yeah, Lady. I love you, too...don't shoot me either."

Riddick turned a withering glare on him that erased the smirk from his face. "Stay outta this, jerk-off."

The man scowled venomously but looked away in silence.

Riddick wasn't surprised to see the barrel pointed at his face again. This mother fucker was going to feel death coming. Maybe twice if he could work it right.

"Man makes a good point, Riddick. Guess you'd say just about anything to get this gun outta your face."

Riddick lifted his chin and looked in her eyes. "Just because I would lie doesn't mean I am, Carolyn. Happens this time the truth might be best."

Carolyn's shoulders shook with a sarcastic laugh. "The truth ...?" He could see the anger back in her eyes, and she was shaking the gun at him dangerously. "If it's so damn true, why didn't you say it before I got the gun? You suddenly love me when the alternative is having your head blown off?"

Riddick stayed perfectly still, waiting for an opening. When she took one hand off the gun to push her hair behind her ear, he took his chance. Bringing his right arm up in a sweeping clockwise motion, he knocked her aim away from him and grabbed for her arm. In the same instant, he backhanded her with his left, just hard enough to stun her. The gunshot deafened him for several seconds, but it was too far to his right to have hit him. When they came to rest, he had her left arm twisted behind her and her right was pounding on his shoulder.

"Don't you fuckin' hit me, you prick!!"

He snarled down at her, keeping his face out of her reach and twisting her arm until she winced in pain and was still. "You shot at me!" He growled into her angry face. She flinched again and he heard the gun hit the floor behind her.

"The hell I did. You hit my hand, numbskull." Her free arm fell by her side and she breathed heavily, still glaring at him.

Riddick sneered, but eased the tension on her arm until she could stand comfortably against him while still under his control. "You are SO fucking lucky that didn't hit me..."

Carolyn sneered right back. "Why? What would you do, asshole? Limp after me? Crawl??? "

Riddick's eyes narrowed in anger, but suddenly he chuckled. "You crazy shit. Even now, you're up in my grill, givin' me lip..." She swung her fist to hit him again, but he easily caught her arm and held it. "Dammit, Carolyn. I won't make you stay, but I can and I will make you hear me out. You don't have the gun now, so let the words have weight. I may be rough, and I don't do feelings for shit, but I'm here and nobody made me come back. That's gotta be worth something... now quit being Psycho Bitch and listen. We gotta get this prick tied up, and I gotta get outta here... whether you come or not... but you should, because I ain't lying. Now don't hit me again... cuz I’ll prob'ly hit back."

They glared at each other silently until a faint gurgle caught their attention and they turned to look. The bullet hole wasn't immediately noticeable, but the trickle of blood running down his throat and disappearing under his shirt was. His eyes rolled in their sockets, staring vacantly around the room, his mouth opening and closing wordlessly. One of his hands twitched grotesquely at the wrist as he slid down the wall to slump on the floor, and he was finally still.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Fuck. Me." Riddick couldn't believe what he was seeing, and had to lean forward to get a better look. The irony of it all hit home and booming laughter filled the apartment as he straightened. He looked down at Carolyn, still pinned against his chest, a look of astonishment on her face. Stretching to kick the gun safely under the bed, he released her wrist and scrutinized the corpse on the floor, turning his head this way and that to get all the angles, still chuckling.

Carolyn stood limply beside him, also staring at the crumpled body. "What the Hell just happened?"

Riddick sighed and looked over at her, the slightest hint of a smile on his lips. "I think you just killed him."

Carolyn's eyebrows rose and she nodded slowly. "Oh, I definitely killed him. I don't think he could be deader...Question is, how?"

Riddick slipped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her against him, and they both looked down at the body. "...Lucky shot, I guess."

They looked at one another again, and she bit her lower lip to keep from laughing. Riddick tipped her chin and quickly tousled her hair before he disappeared into the bathroom as Carolyn bent to inspect her handiwork.

Riddick returned and fell to his knees beside her and she smiled broadly. "Got him in the jugular with no exit wound. Must've bled out internally. Less mess to clean up."

Riddick smirked and shook his head, surprised by her attitude, as he spread out the shower curtain and prepared to move the body. The salty tang of piss hit his nose and he grimaced. He rolled the body onto the plastic, and sure enough, where it had lain there was a large urine stain soaking into the carpet. His lip curled in disgust and he looked slyly over at Carolyn. "There goes our security deposit. Think the landlord will notice?"

Carolyn struggled to hold back a smile. "Yeah...but I don't think he'll say anything..." As soon as the words were out, she burst out laughing, and Riddick grinned broadly.

I knew there was a reason I loved her.

They had the body wrapped and stowed in the front closet and the first of many layers of baking soda soaking up the piss on the carpet inside 20 minutes. Riddick sat on the sofa and leaned back, looking up at the ceiling. The small bag was at his feet, all manner of electronic tracking and surveillance devices spilling over the sides. He was hired help, which means someone... bigger... knows I'm here. "This complicates things."

Carolyn plopped down at the opposite end and swung her feet into his lap. "How so?"

Lifting one knee quickly to deflect her feet and made sure she didn't get him in the crotch, Riddick rolled his head to rest his cheek on the cushion and looked at her. "We got options, just none as neat as I’d like. We can clean the body and move it upstairs to his apartment, stick around and take our chances..."

"Eeeennnngh!" Carolyn made a buzzer noise. "Wrong. Try again."

Riddick frowned. "Hear me out first... We take our chances, act like nothin's up... wait till they find the body..." he scratched his chin and looked back at the ceiling. "I can make it look like it was done there. A robbery. S'possible they won't waste their time askin' 'round... At least that way we don't have to change our names. Money situation stays fairly simple... Or we can start first thing in the morning and get ourselves new everything. That'll take at least two days. If somebody misses the SOB, starts askin' questions... Then they see us moving out... put it together..."

Carolyn waited for him to finish. "Next scenario, please."

"What do you mean next? That's it. Either we stay and gamble it, or we run like Hell." She was silent and he looked at her. "Or I run and you stay. I can draw them away... They'll skip you if they think they can have me... Far as they know, you're just a hostage... Might be the best plan..."

Carolyn stared at the ceiling. "I think all your plans suck."

Riddick pushed her feet off his lap and shrugged. "You think of another one, you let me know. Either way, you need to VidCom in for me and tell 'em I'm sick."

Carolyn looked up at him, surprised. "You? Sick? That'd be a first... What do you have?"

Riddick rubbed his temples and made an impatient gesture as he stood. "Besides a bitch of a headache from that gunshot...? I dunno. The flu. Corsican Mumps. Rabies...Take your pick. Just be sure it would affect my work and I can recover..."

"Rabies is terminal..."

"Don't be a smart ass."

Carolyn sighed and watched as he went toward the kitchen before activating the SatCom and punching the button for his supervisor.

On the fourth ring, the connection clicked and a man in a denim shirt leaned toward the camera. His eyes narrowed, trying to place the face he'd seen only two or three times over the two years. "Yes?"

"Hi...Mr. Lansing... It's Karen Freedman. Brandon won't be in for a few days. He's sick."

The man's brow rose. "Brandon Freedman... sick? Wow... Okay. Tell him to get better fast... I need him."

"Will do. Thanks a lot..." She paused a moment and shook her head in affected puzzlement. "Explosive diarrhea. It's a bitch." She cut the connection and disarmed the system, smiling up innocently at Riddick’s slack-jawed face.

" ExPLOsive diarrhea?!?!?!"

Carolyn giggled and pointed a finger at him. "You said to pick!"

Riddick smiled a little as he shook his head. "You could've picked something a little less disgusting. I have to work with these people... Fuck! I guarantee every asshole working tonight is already laughing at that one. Bet Lansing made a fucking PA announcement...!"

Carolyn looked up at him, the trace of a smile still in her lips. "You're never going to see them again...least not on this planet."

Riddick sat on the couch and patted the cushion beside him, offering her one of the two overgrown apples he held. "That mean we're going?"

Carolyn sat next to him and took the apple. "This is what we're having for dinner?"

He started to repeat his question, but there was a thud from the entryway closet. He watched as Carolyn's eyes slowly turned toward the closet, then her head, as if she had to force herself to look. There was another noise, and she turned toward him, eyebrows raised, almost making him laugh. "Amateur... They do that sometimes. Just left-over nerves... Don't freak."

"Left-over nerves." She looked a little skeptical.

"And gas. I kid you not."

One side of her mouth curled up. "Maybe I should shoot him again. Remind him he's dead."

Riddick swallowed the bite and licked his bottom lip. "I think you convinced him with the first shot, Carolyn... Crane's shut off for the night. Start in on the overkill, someone's bound to hear it." He rolled his shoulders and undid two buttons on his shirt, taking another bite and leaning his head back on the couch. " Personally , I prefer the up-close and personal silence of a blade... But whatever works. You decide you want to carve 'im up a little, let me know."

Carolyn curled up next to him, chewing thoughtfully. She leaned against him and one hand came up to stroke the material over his ribs. "I think I'll leave the killin' to you when I can..."

Riddick growled happily and his arm came down to cradle her to him, his eyes closed.

Carolyn smiled and moved her touch up to circle his pec. "Feel good?" She skimmed over his nipple and he inhaled deeply, purring on the exhale, a slight smile on his lips as her answer. She moved to straddle his lap and looked down into his face. "You know I love you, right?"

Riddick's hands came around to squeeze her ass and he pulled her closer. His eyes met hers and again, that silent half-smile was her answer. She waited expectantly, and his brow creased. After a pause, he sighed and almost frowned. "I...love you too."

Carolyn thrust her pelvis forward hard and he grunted, getting a hindsight grip on her hips. "Like you mean it this time."

Riddick chuckled and pressed against her, his erection already straining against his jeans. His face was open as he looked at her, his eyes honest. "I love you, Carolyn." Taking her apple and letting it fall beside the remains of his on the couch, he kissed her quickly and stood. "... but I'm not sure love figures inta what I'm about to do to you." He pressed her against the nearest wall and kissed her, feeling the lie of his words to his very center.

Carolyn never took her eyes off his face as he pounded into her. In the same expressions, she now saw tenderness and a desire to please she hadn't recognized before, and felt a passion she'd mistaken for simple lust. She loved him, and it felt better than it ever had.

Riddick met her eyes as he felt himself closing in on the edge. He licked the sweat off his lips and struggled to keep his pace steady for her as he grunted between thrusts. "Carolyn...are you...coming?"

Her lips twitched into a momentary smile and she tightened her legs around his waist. "Little...bit more..."

Riddick would've laughed if he'd had the breath. "No...Off planet...Are you...coming with me?"

Carolyn's lips curled again. "If you want me..."

His words followed hers without pause. "I want you."

She rested her forehead against his, inhaling his scent and loving the force of his breath against her face. "Riddick... Hard..."

Riddick's head fell back and he closed his eyes, growling almost savagely between his teeth as he plunged into her harder, pulling her hips to meet his. Carolyn's mouth fell open and a single small cry was forced from her. Riddick felt her muscles convulse and her shoulders curled towards him. Finally, he couldn't hold his release any longer and he pressed as deep as he could, clinging to her, tensed as his body shook through the orgasm. His mouth left kisses in a trail to hers, and as he caught his breath, he kissed her open lips...her cheeks...her forehead. He bowed his head on her shoulder and smiled. " Shhhiiiiit... That felt gooooooood..."

Carolyn squirmed to be let down and he looked up at her shocked face. "You came inside me..."

Riddick smirked and didn't let her down, but walked her to the couch instead. "I know. Felt great."

"I... need a shower."

"Not yet." Riddick sat her on arm of the couch and pushed her back gently, keeping her hips on the arm to make sure they stayed elevated.

Carolyn understood immediately and gaped at him. "Oh... my God..."

Riddick smiled gently and bent to pull up his jeans. " Yooooouu...have too much free time on your hands." He came around to kneel beside her and brushed the hair off her forehead, his expression serious and thoughtful. "If anything happens to me, I don't wanna leave you alone. Don't want you to forget me."

Tears welled up in Carolyn's eyes, and she grasped his hand tightly. "Nothing is going to happen to you." She brought his hand to her lips, closing her eyes as she kissed it. "Nothing is ever going to happen to you."

Riddick bent and kissed her softly, but couldn't resist. "Accidents happen." He gave a small nod toward the closet, and laughter once again filled the apartment on the dank planet that they would inhabit for another 24 hours as they readied their small ship and prepared to leave that life behind them for a greater degree of normalcy and the love that bound them.

 

 
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