It’s been a long time since anyone’s kissed me. I’m not a nun or anything, it’s just that not too many men can get past the mess that’s been made of me. I know I’m not pretty. I’m not Quasimodo, either, but when men look for a girl to kiss, they’d probably hit the whorehouse first. Not look to some beat to hell, scarred up, irritable fighter pilot.
A nice kiss, though, if a little quick. Still tasted of whiskey, and chocolate. Probably worried I’d be pissed off or something. For a guy that looks the way he does, he’s amazingly gentle. A soft, almost delicate, kiss. Like I would break. I’m not used to guys thinking of me like that, that I’m something to be handled gently. Not used to being handled gently at all, so, yea, it was nice. Probably grinned like a damned kid at it, though.
Leaving Riddick to have his leg poked at again, I make my way down the hall to my own quarters. I’m always glad to be in my own bed again. Even if the thought of going to sleep terrifies me some nights. I could ask Franks to give me something to help me sleep, but, what, I’m going to do that the rest of my life? Sometimes the hell of trying to wake up and not being able to is worse than the nightmares themselves. Sometimes, if it’s really bad, I’ll just get up and walk around, until I feel I can go to sleep without waking up screaming.
Lots of people here are used to seeing me wander around when everyone else is sleeping, I think. Not hard to spot the others who suffer with nightmares. Our cups of coffee, our jangled nerves. Quietly trying to find something to do, anything, just to NOT go back to sleep for a little while. Sitting apart, letting the shakes work themselves out. I must be a pretty hopeful person though, because I keep coming back here, hoping to actually go to sleep.
Strip off my boots, pants, do that weird girl thing, where you pull off your bra without actually taking your shirt off. Leaving everything right by the bed, in case I have to get up again in a hurry. Old habits die hard. My room’s cold. I haven’t been in it in a few days. It always takes a good day of me being home to warm the damned place up. I hate it when it’s cold. Grab the second blanket, and hope for the best.
She grinned at me, as she turned to go. Definitely not mad that I kissed her. Makes me think I would have liked to hold onto her a little longer. Probably wouldn’t have let her go if I did that. She might get a little pissed at me then. Might be worth it anyways.
Drop my pants, let Franks help me up onto the table. I tell him about the couple of ounces of whiskey, in case he decides to give me anything for pain. Running a deeper scan on my leg, watching the results carefully on the monitor. Every once in a while a small sound out of him. Not talking to me. Hardly even talking to himself. I close my eyes, and wait until he stops making them, before turning to talk to him.
“How do things run here Franks.” One of the first things you do in prison is find out who runs what, who’s really in charge, and who just thinks they are. This ship isn’t a prison. Definitely not after Jane’s offer, which makes me a freer man than I have been, maybe ever. But I doubt it could hurt to find out how things are really run.
“It’s not quite military, Riddick. Too many people here that it wouldn’t work for.”
He’s giving me another shot for pain, more antibiotics. Rebandaging the wound. It looks like it’s healing nicely.
“Where does Jane fit in all this.” He cocks an eyebrow at me at this, breaking into a grin.
“I was wondering when you’d get to that. It’s not military. But when things go wrong….”
“When things go wrong, it does.”
“Exactly. I don’t think there’s a person here that wouldn’t follow Jane into hell itself, if it came to that. She doesn’t run things. Doesn’t need to. But, if it ever came to it, she wouldn’t have to ask.”
Her silent order to Franks to stand by me, keep me from falling on this damned leg. Standing toe to toe with those mercs, then with Dufresne. A code of honour.
“Why isn’t she in the military any more?”
He looks hesitant. Wary, trying to read what my intentions for asking about her are. He’s protecting her. “I don’t mean her any harm, Franks.” He stays quiet a little longer, watching me, before deciding that I’m not going to hurt her.
“The bastards dishonourably discharged her, Riddick.”
His voice is quiet, his disgust at the thought of it, evident. I haven’t known Jane very long, just a few days. Sure as hell doesn’t strike me as even remotely dishonourable. Must have hurt like hell.
“The military started to change. The Company started to take over more and more of the higher ranks, edging the old soldiers out. Pretty soon, the Company started using the military as it’s own private assassination squad. Killing politicians, killing business rivals. Killing colonists, miners, that wouldn’t get in line.”
He’s helping me sit up on the edge of the table, as he continues. Leaning back against the opposite counter, his hands holding the counter behind him, his knuckles white.
“Atrocities was the word she used, Riddick. I had asked her once why she couldn’t sleep, why she had nightmares. She hadn’t slept for about four days straight, once, and was starting to hallucinate. She wanders the halls, when it gets really bad. Someone brought her here, when she finally collapsed. She was terrified to go to sleep, so I drugged her. I almost wish I hadn’t. There aren’t many here that know what they made her do. The price she paid for getting out. What she has to hold onto, so they won’t come after her. I got it all. Ended up with a few nightmares of my own over it.”
The Rangers were Company, so I have a pretty good idea what they made her do. It’s not something you really have much of a choice in. It’s do it, or get shot in the back of the head and left wherever they decide to leave you. Can’t see that option getting any prettier for a woman. Fuck, it’s probably worse. Most guys aren’t looking to rape me into the bargain.
The price she paid to get out. A little more than just a dishonourable discharge. I’m guessing that being beaten that badly was a part of it. That last part, about what she’s holding onto, to keep her safe, now that’s interesting.
“Where does Dufresne fit into all this.”
…cold…so cold…The room is cold. Makes every ache and broken bone in my body hurt that much more, lying on this cold tiled floor. My cheek resting on the ground, looking along the slightly tilted floor, to the grate in the middle. Make it that much easier to clean the blood off the floor when they’ve finished killing me. How efficient of them.
They still haven’t killed me. I had hoped they would, and that I would be done with it. That last hit put me out, and they dragged me in here. With it’s efficient killing floor and murderous white light crushing down on me. It’s icy fingers burrowing into every shattered nerve ending.
My jaw’s been broken. It’s jagged ends grating together. I don’t know whether to puke or black out. I seem to have done a little of both, since I’ve been stuck in this room. Not that I had much to puke up. Mostly blood, by the looks of it. Another tooth. I don’t even want to think what I must look like. I’ve never really been pretty. Maybe I won’t miss it. No one’s going to give me a second look after this.
I try to look down, to see what else has been done to me, sending a wave of nausea over me. Try to breathe, so I don’t black out again. I doubt they’re done with me, and I need to either hold it together enough to get out of here, or find a way to finish what should have been finished. I doubt they’re going to make it as easy as letting me kill myself though.
At least a couple of broken ribs, I think my wrist might be broken, a few fingers. Maybe some internal damage. I’m still dressed. I guess I’m to be spared the indignity of rape. For the moment. Rest my head on the floor, try to breathe, gather up what little I have left. I don’t intend to go without a fight, if I have to face them again. I doubt I’d manage to harm anything in this state, but that’s hardly the point anymore.
I try to get up, when the door opens, but nothing seems to work very well, and I go down again, the shattered ends of my broken jaw making me want to scream. I don’t have anything left to scream. I’m done. Watch as the boots get closer. Fuck, I can’t even bite him.
Two arms pick me up off the ground, and I fight not to black out. I can’t fight against the arms, my struggling seems to go completely unnoticed. Try to get my feet under me, but my feet don’t feel like they’re mine at all.
It’s all I can choke out. A barely human sound. Bubbling through blood. Definitely bleeding internally.
“Be quiet. They’ll hear you.”
A quiet, clipped, male voice. I have no choice in where I’m going, my legs stopped cooperating almost immediately, dragging ineffectively behind, as he pulls me out of the room. Camos, boots, that walk, he’s military, whoever the hell he is. Doesn’t mince around about my condition, he’s seen some sort of action. The sight of a girl nearly battered to death doesn’t faze him. He’s not throwing me around or anything, I just don’t have that much of a choice about going. I’m done. I’m all but dead.
Another voice calls out, softly,”all clear Dufresne”……I black out…
“Dufresne is Jane’s right hand, Riddick. I think it might grate on him some days, but that’s what he is. People here will go to Jane first, always. Dufresne may put himself out there as the man in charge, but he’s not. People here know who’s really in charge, and it’s not the one that has to say it all the time.”
“Good. I don’t trust him.”
“Because you think he’s dirty? Or because you like Jane?”
I laugh out loud at that. “Both.” Getting down off the table. A little easier to put weight on the leg, but I still take it easy, the first step, just to be sure.
“I don’t entirely trust him either, Riddick. Don’t know what it it is, either. He knows she won’t take merc runs. Don’t even like to think of how many mercs she’s killed, just on general principle alone. And ones where the final destination is a military prison ship? She’d never take that kind of chance. Ever. As for the other….”
“Yea…” He doesn’t finish the thought. Doesn’t need to. I like her.
Make my way out of the med bay, taking it slow down the corridor, towards my quarters. Looking at the small plaques at the side of the doors. Stopping in front of one marked “Adams, J.”. She doesn’t sleep. Not exactly true though, is it. She does sleep, she just doesn’t sleep well alone. Nightmares. Soothed so easily by just a touch.
Rest my head on her door for just a moment, listening. When you get used to not being able to see, all your other senses kick in. Sure, I’m shined, but that doesn’t mean that whatever slam I’m in won’t keep me blindfolded. So I close my eyes, and I listen for Jane.
A whimper. Nightmares. I rest my hand on the door panel, hesitate. Is it locked? Would she be pissed at me? Doesn’t matter. I open the door, closing it quietly behind me. Her room is exactly the same as mine, not really a surprise.
She’s awake, sort of, the moment I opened the door. Not fully awake, still fighting her way out of a nightmare. Leaving her foggy, her face tear streaked, her eyes panicked. Fighting with a sheet as she struggles to get up. Wearing nothing but a tank and panties. Both soaked in sweat. A soft whimper again, as she tries to get up. Her room is cold. Standing barefoot on the floor isn’t going to help that.
I don’t explain why I’m here, or what I’m doing, or what the hell I was thinking coming into her room. She’s still half in and half out of whatever personal hell her sleep took her to. Sit on the edge of the bed, and help her get back under the covers, her skin like ice. All of her blankets had fallen off the bed, in her tossing and turning.
Lying on her side, still crying in her sleep, still not fully awake, not fully asleep. In some limbo in between. Jane, when she’s awake, isn’t a woman that would cry. It hurts to watch her now.
I kick my boots off, and quietly curl up behind her, not waking her. Pull her cold body gently into the curve of mine. Feeling her shiver, and tense up momentarily, before pressing into the warmth. Listen for her whimpers, her tears. Listen to them subside, as I stroke her side. My hand against her skin. She feels so fragile in her sleep, my hand easily spanning her ribs. Running along the lines where they’ve been broken. Down to her hip, and back again. Feeling her body warm up under my hands. Feeling her still, as her nightmare leaves. My nose behind her ear, breathing in the scent of her sweat and her fear, and the musk underneath that’s just her, whisper to her that it’ll be all right, and to sleep, and that she’s safe. I won’t let anything hurt her. Sleep Jane. Sleep.
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