“When our medic gets drunk, he starts telling Riddick stories. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, sweetheart, but I’d always figured you were dead, from the way he talks about you.”
He’s giving me a strange look at that. I suppose that’s understandable, when someone says you’re dead, and you’re clearly not. He hasn’t let go of my hand yet. His grip hasn’t tightened, and he still hasn’t moved.
“Not dead yet. Close. But not yet.”
The water’s helped his voice a bit. No longer ragged and broken. He has a beautiful deep voice, a sound filtered through stale bourbon and ground glass. As if deep brown had a sound. Sexy as hell. Not that I’m going to say that out loud, but fuck, I’m not dead yet, either, just closer some days than others.
“Is the leg the worst of it?”
She’s asking, quietly. Almost under her breath, as I drop her hand and let her hands move over my injuries. She’s still wary, her weight on the balls of her feet, so she can get the hell out of my way, if I threaten her. I don’t like it that I still make her nervous. Other than staying still, and not startling her, there’s not much I can do about it. I sure as hell don’t want to scare her. I could probably take her, but not without her hurting me pretty badly first. And I don’t want to hurt her at all.
“Yea, I think it’s infected. Don’t know what the hell he shot me with, but I’ve already been on it about two days now.”
She’s watching me, listening carefully, before getting up, and coming back with more clean cloths, and a basin of hot water. Takes the med kit off the dead mercs back, kicking him out of her way, and making herself more comfortable at my side. Still a little wary, as she sits down. Knowing she’s going to be there awhile. Knowing that she can’t sit on her heels the whole time without cramping. A last hard look at me. It’s dark enough that I can lift the goggles, so I do it, so that she can see me, read for herself whether I’m telling her the truth or not. A flicker of interest. I’m used to that from women. I don’t know why women find the shined eyes beautiful, but they invariably do, and she’s no different.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Jane.”
There’s sincerity in his face. I already know he’s a murderer. That doesn’t automatically make him a liar, and I don’t think he’s lying. I’ve just gotten so used to being careful for so long. Most men I have to deal with are bigger than me, and stronger than me. That’s something I’ve just had to deal with. I might be faster, and meaner, but that helps only to a point. Somewhere along the line, you have to decide who you can trust, and who you can’t. I don’t know Riddick, other than the stories I’ve heard. The man’s a myth, for fuck’s sake. But he’s looking me square in the eyes, and I believe he doesn’t intend to harm me. I don’t like trusting anybody, and I intend to keep my guard up, but, for the moment, I’m going to trust him.
She holds the gaze for a moment longer, before coming to her decision, and sitting more comfortably at my side. Her small cool hands run over my leg, just above where I’ve tied the would off. Probing, stopping at my intake of breath, her brows knotting. Her muttered calming words, as she pulls the knife out from the back of her pants. Carefully cutting the strips of cloth away, where I had tried to bind it. Her hissed breath, a soft gasp, when she finally cuts away the rest of the fabric, clearing the area.
“……those fucking animals…..to leave anyone like this…..I…..”
The rest of her breath comes out in a tightly controlled exhale through her nose, her anger evident, her knuckles white on the knife. She doesn’t touch me with it, when she’s so angry. Waiting until she’s relaxed the grip on the knife before cutting my pantleg down the side. Pulling a small flashlight out of the med kit, telling me to hold it for her.
I’d say that I can’t believe anyone would leave another person in that kind of a mess, but I know, from personal experience, that that isn’t the case. Doesn’t mean it still doesn’t piss me off when I see it. Riddick would be dead within a week, with the leg like that. Reach around in the med kit, filling a syringe. I have to clean a spot on his arm, before I can inject him.
“Antibiotics….it’s all right. I’m not looking to hurt you either…….we’re going to have to trust each other, Riddick. I’m four days from home…gotta sleep sometime….”
She’s right. It’s a little hard to expect her to trust me, if I think she’s going to try and kill me at every turn. Old habits die hard. Forty five is a long fucking time to live the way I’ve been living. It’s hard to change a lot of the ways I’ve been doing stuff. She’s not helping me out of pity. Getting a closer look at her face, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’s faced a little of what I’ve faced. Maybe not Slam, but she sure as hell hasn’t lived easy. Her jaws’ clearly been broken, at some point. Somebody’s made a point of beating the hell out of her.
She’s soaked a cloth in hot water, and moves to cleaning my leg, gently, taking her time. Stopping every once in a while, looking at me intently, checking for pain.
“I have to wait….a little bit… before giving you something for pain…figured the antibiotics were more important. You really wouldn’t have lasted long if they’d delivered you. Was that the idea?”
“Kill me and get a full bounty for me at the same time. Yea, that was the plan. You said ‘home’ was four days away. Where’s ‘home’?”
“Heavy armed freighter, the DECATUR, don’t much care for being stuck on a planet somewhere. You?”
She has the wound mostly cleaned now. Ragged and red, inflamed. She’s looking down at the mess, shaking her head softly. Leaves her cool hand on my thigh, while she looks in the med kit. A bottle of alcohol. Her eyes flick up to me,while she looks for something for the pain. Home. She’s asking about home. I’ve never really had one. It felt like one, for a very short while, with Jack. Jack’s been gone a long time now. Even then, it wasn’t so much a place, as it was a feeling. To know you had a place to go. A place where it didn’t matter what time you showed up at, or in what kind of trouble, they helped you, and were there for you. And never judged you. Just accepted. Her question’s hard for me. A point she gathers, when I don’t answer.
“Sorry, shouldn’t have asked.”
“It’s all right. I was living on Outpost 17 for close to a year. Don’t know if I’d call it home.”
I was getting comfortable though. Wanted to be comfortable. Maybe not there. Maybe just somewhere. She’s bandaging my leg, after cleaning it with alcohol, the clean white bandages looking odd against the filth that’s the rest of me. She’s preparing another syringe, telling me it’s for pain. I offer her my arm this time, letting her know I trust her. It’s not enough to quite kill the pain, just soften it around the edges a little bit.
“Sorry about your clothes. I don’t have anything that will fit.” She nods her head at the mercs, dead now for over an hour, while she unchained and cleaned me up. “You really don’t want anything of theirs, they’re even filthier than what you’ve got on.” Said with a bit of humour in her voice. I may be filthy, but I’ve managed to not piss myself, which is more than can be said for the mercs. Of course, being dead, it’s not like they had much of a choice in the matter. Everything lets go, whether you want it to or not.
She’s packing up the med kit, stowing it away. Moves to my other side. Not as wary, but being a little careful, as she touches my shoulder, sliding her arm underneath me.
“You’re going to have to help me, Riddick. Too damned heavy to carry you, and I’m sure as hell not leaving you here.”
She seemed bigger, when she was standing. Maybe just watching a woman kill someone will leave you with the impression that she’s not small. But she is. Not weak. But still small. Small growl of exertion, as she helps me up. The leg had locked up down here. A flicker of fear in her, when I’m finally standing, when she finally realizes, fully, the size difference. Normally, scaring someone wouldn’t bother me. I don’t want her to be scared of me. She gets over it quickly enough though. Helps me move up front, into the co-pilot’s seat. Steps back from me for a moment, I can hear her back pop when she stands.
“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, Riddick, but you stink.”
I haven’t really laughed in quite a while. Not a real laugh, but I can’t help but laugh right out loud at that. Turn in the chair to watch her, as she goes through the pockets of the mercs, even checking all of the secret places they would have stashed stuff. Pulling the bodies together, over the sliding doors in the floor, the airlock. Opening the first doors, letting the bodies fall through. The basin of water she used to clean my wounds she uses to rinse some of the blood off the floor, the cloths wiping up the rest. When it’s done, she closes the first doors, and then flushes the bodies into space.
Stands for a moment, not facing me, before she begins to talk quietly.
“The DECATUR isn’t much, but as far as a home goes, it’s not bad. I’d be the last person to ever guarantee anything, but it’s a pretty good bet you’d be safe there. No one’d turn you over. If you want to stay, you’re welcome to.”
She doesn’t wait for an answer, just pulls the ship out of the orbit of the small moon, and heads for home.
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