Chapter 16: Should I, or shouldn’t I
Riddick spat out his mouthful of beer and rushed off in search of Jack; with his blood frozen in his veins. He’d heard her scream his name in panic, and his mind raced with all kinds of thoughts. He slammed the door of the bathroom open. A painful ray pierced through his eyes as light stabbed his optic nerves, hurting his eyes as if they were going to burn up in seconds. “FUCK!” he grunted as he covered them with his hand. “Lights out,” he ordered in a growl. He quickly shut them tightly and then opened them again.
Riddick found Jack crumpled on the floor of the shower naked, she appeared to be in shock. His heart stopped, only to start racing like never before in his life. Jack’s nose had been bleeding under the water for a few minutes, so her blood was covering her chest and hands. Fuck! he cried out in his mind. “JACK!” he yelled as he rushed to her side. She didn’t react to the sound of his voice. He couldn’t believe that he had been so stupid as to leave her alone. He had suspected this would happen. “Jack, baby. I’m here,” his deep voice was gentle with a hint of panic. This was going to happen sooner or later, he argued to himself. Her body was shaking uncontrollably and her eyes were wide in horror. A fucking seizure, Rick, he said to himself as he sighed. Riddick kneeled in front of her and held her tight while staring at her eyes. “Come on, kid. Look at me, baby,” he pleaded with her as he realized that Jack’s mind was somewhere else. Fuck, fuck, fuck, he thought. “Come back to me, Jack,” he said as he raised her from the shower and took her into his arms. Her nakedness, and the fact that she was drenched with water and blood, was forgotten for now. Jack’s body was limp and seemed like a broken marionette to his eyes. She weighed almost nothing, as if she was made of air. Riddick thought for a second about bubbles. So beautiful and so fragile. He then looked at her eyes again, and saw that they were still wide open but her gaze seemed lost, staring at something only she could see. Forget about fucking bubbles, Rick. She needs you now man, he clenched his jaw and grunted deeply.
Riddick laid her on the bed, before getting back up and grabbing a small wet towel and returning to her side. He cleaned the blood from her nose and hands gently. He then looked at her naked body. Fuck, Rick. It’s going to be a hell of a trip, here, he scolded. Then carefully, as if he was sure that she could break at any time, Riddick cleaned her blood from her breast and belly. In the process he realized that his hand was shaking slightly. I thought we were clear on this point, Rick, he argued with himself. That was something that shouldn’t, couldn’t, be. Not after what you know is going to happen if she sticks around you again, he grunted. When he finished, he went to his closet and grabbed a blanket. Riddick wrapped her body with extreme tenderness, almost reverently, and laid beside her. He held her tight against his chest and began to stroke her back with such gentleness that only the tips of his fingers were rubbing her skin, while murmuring soothing words in her ear.
Riddick remembered how this simple act had soothed her back then, when she was a kid in New Mecca, and hoped with all his will that it would still work. He was right. It wasn’t long before Jack’s shudders were subsiding, and then her breathing became almost even. Still, her eyes looked shocked and her skin was pale. He brought a hand to her neck and checked her pulse; it wasn’t necessary though, her chest was pressed against his and he could feel her heartbeat. Riddick noticed how her skin was burning his through the fabric of the blanket. Eventually her heart rate slowed down to something approaching normal, and Riddick let out a heavy sigh as he closed his eyes.
Jack whimpered in pain and struggled to release herself from his embrace. “Stay still kid,” his voice like a sweet whisper into her neck, but firm.
Jack went still and she slowly blinked several times. She focused her vision, but she could only see darkness around her. She then tried to move, but two strong arms were holding her. Jack felt her body pressed against something more. She turned her head to one side, ignoring her aching muscles, and realized she was on top of someone else. Oh, Jesus, what…? she felt dizzy and couldn’t think clearly. Jack remembered that she was in the shower, and afterward, everything went black. Jack winced and let out a hiss of pain. She swallowed hard and a small whimper escaped her dry throat. After a moment she seemed to become aware of him. “Riddick?” she whispered weakly.
Riddick heaved a deep sigh. “Yeah, kid,” the sound of his voice rumbled into Jack’s chest.
Jack’s eyes shut and then opened again slowly. She blinked several more times. Everything around her was still black; she couldn’t see anything. “Oh, God,” she hissed in pain as her eyes closed again. She felt as if her muscles were being ripped apart under the skin. “I’m gonna die,” she moaned in panic.
Riddick frowned. “Just a seizure,” he said, and she could feel his hot breath against her neck. Jack let out a heavy sigh as she tried to move again. “Lights low,” he ordered. Jack blinked and carried a trembling hand to her eyes, rubbing them slowly. She then focused her vision and looked up. She found Riddick’s eyes staring at her. “You’re not gonna die,” he said and tucked her wet hair behind her ear with deliberate slowness. He then stroked Jack’s cheek with the outside of his hand, lingering in his caress. “I won’t let you,” he said while staring into her now teary eyes.
Jack opened her eyes and stared back into his. She felt mesmerized by his mercurial gaze, and realized that it was getting closer and closer. Suddenly he stopped, just a few breaths from her face, and locked with her own. Fuck, man. You’re playing with fire here. Jack couldn’t suppress the shiver that crossed her spine, and slowly, she batted her long lashes. Shit, Jack. You’re making this fucking difficult for me. Riddick kicked himself mentally. Jack felt her heartbeat quicken in time with her breathing, and moved one hand to his chest. Fuck it, just one. Maybe I’ll be able to change the things…, he thought as he closed the distance between their lips. As soon as Riddick’s lips touched Jack’s, she helplessly pressed into him with her body. Riddick tensed, deepening the kiss, demanding her surrender. Jack couldn’t think at all, her world was filled with Riddick’s kiss. So, she gave herself up to his lips. They were smooth and gentle, brushing her own in a soft caress. Jack let out a small moan into his mouth. Fuck, not like this, Rick. Riddick reluctantly released her, as he grunted deep in his chest. Jack’s eyes snapped open, bemused. Neither of them moved nor spoke for a long moment. Riddick felt his lips burning, as if he had been kissing pure fire. Told you, man. I fucking told you, Rick. Don’t play with fire, you already know where it’ll end. That’s not the way to change the fucking future, asshole. Jack flushed in an instant and carried a hand to her lips. They were trembling slightly in the aftermath of Riddick’s kiss. Finally, she could form just a few coherent thoughts in her brain. Oh. My. God, she uttered to herself, and felt a little proud of herself just for being able to think at least that much. Riddick turned his gaze away from her as he slowly raised Jack; moving a little away from her and to one side. He then cleared his throat as he frowned. “How you feeling Jack?”, his voice cold but strangely soft.
Jack took a deep breath and looked down, suddenly ashamed of herself. She then realized that she was naked and her body was wrapped in a blanket. I’m naked, oh fuck, naked! her mind screamed. She felt exposed and vulnerable, not so much physically as emotionally. “Um, Riddick… I, … I,” she hesitated. She again couldn’t form a phrase in her mind, let alone speak aloud.
Riddick got up. “You had a fucking seizure in the shower,” he said as he opened the wardrobe. Oh, shit, she thought, at first frightened and then embarrassed. He pulled out a t-shirt and a set of cargo pants for himself. Jack watched him in silence. His clothes were soaked with water, uncomfortably, she suddenly realized that the bed was too. Riddick turned around without looking at her. “Gonna get a shower,” he said, suddenly his voice serious. “You should sleep kid,” he added over his shoulder and headed to the bathroom. But first, for my peace of mind, you should get dressed, he added silently.
Jack heard the door being closed and let out a heavy sigh. She then rolled to her side and grabbed the pillow. He kissed you, she said to herself. Riddick kissed you, she repeated in her mind as a big smile appeared on her face. She couldn’t help but lick her lips, relishing his taste on them and felt her cheeks burning. She then felt a new wave of pain pass through her and shut her eyes, clenching her teeth. “Oh, shit,” she hissed in pain.
Riddick slammed the door closed and punched the wall. Fuck, man, he growled to himself as he looked in the mirror. His head and chin needed a shave, and dark shadows were under his shined eyes. You look like shit, he said as he rubbed his chin. No, Rick. You are a piece of shit, he corrected. Riddick was furious with himself. He couldn’t believe he had taken advantage of Jack in her current state. Kid probably didn’t even know what she was doing, he thought as he sighed. But you knew Rick. You have known all these fucking years what would happen if you let her get too fucking close to you. Are you sure you can change the future, Rick? Are you fucking sure? You left her five years ago. What were your reasons back then, huh, Rick? he added as he punched the mirror with such force that it fell to the floor in broken pieces.
Jack jumped on the mattress when she heard something smash, she turned her head in the direction of the sound. “Riddick?”, she called weakly. When no answer came, she raised her voice. “Riddick? Are … are you ok?”, she asked hesitantly as she climbed off the bed.
Riddick shook his head when he heard her call his name. “Yeah, kid,” he growled. “I’m fine,” he added as he looked down at the mess at his feet. He then saw her blood on the floor of the shower and grunted.
Jack wrapped her body more tightly within the blanket and headed toward the bathroom. “What… what happened?” she asked against the door.
“Nothing, kid,” he snapped his head up when he realized she was just on the other side of the door. “Just an accident,” he let out a heavy breath. “Just an accident. Don’t worry,” he growled as he crouched to pick up the pieces.
Jack raised her head and looked at the ceiling. She was worried for him and wanted to help him. “Open the door, please,” she said and bit her lower lip, waiting for him to either answer or open the door.
Riddick sighed. “You should sleep, kid,” he growled as he took a deep breath and tried to relax. “You’re still weak and need the rest. I’m ok, so leave me alone,” his voice was cold.
Jack winced at the sound of his voice. “Well, I’m not sleepy, I’m worried and I want to be sure that you’re ok, so”
Riddick cut her off.
“I said leave me alone, kid!” he raised his voice as he stood back up.
Jack arched her brow in surprise. “And I said open the door,” she retorted mimicking his tone of voice.
Riddick arched his own brow and looked amused. He couldn’t believe that she had used that tone with him. What the hell…? He then shook his head slowly from side to side. “Ain’t the best time for this, Jack”, his voice was deadly serious.
Jack took a deep breath. “Open the fucking door, Riddick!”, she yelled at him and braced herself for what might follow.
Riddick roared and went to open the door. “What!”, he growled, almost shouting. Jack winced but didn’t backup. Riddick looked her up and down slowly. “I said, leave me the fuck alone kid!”, he yelled at her while he moved forward.
Jack then had the thought that maybe she had pushed him to far and started to take a small step back. Riddick grabbed her by her shoulders. “Stay out of my sight for a while, got it?”, he shook her.
Jack’s eyes were wide open. She then realized that his hand was covered with blood and a few pieces of the mirror were stabbed into his skin. “Oh, Jesus, Riddick!”, she looked in shock at his hand. Riddick released her and stared at his bleeding hand. “You’re hurt!”, she exclaimed as she grabbed his hand in both of hers.
“It’s nothing”, he growled as he pulled his hand away.
“For God sake! You’re bleeding. Why!”, she tried to grabbed his hand again, but Riddick raised it.
“I can take care of myself”, he said as he turned to grab a towel from the bathroom.
“Yeah, you’ve been doing it since before I were born”, she rolled her eyes as she snatched the towel from his hand. “You’ve told me that before, big guy”, she added as she shook her head. “Now, let me help you”, she held his hand and wrapped it with the towel as she pushed him back into the bathroom.
Riddick grunted but didn’t pull his hand away this time. He frowned and grabbed his goggles with his free hand from his pocket. Jack looked at him and waited untill he covered his eyes with them. “Lights full”, he ordered as he sighed. “You sure you know how to do this, kid?”, he teased as he relaxed a little.
Jack chuckled at his words. “Yeah, I’ve patched you up before. Don’t you remember?”, she asked as she inspected his wound. “I thought I was the only one with memory loss here”, now she chuckled at her own words. Riddick smirked and relaxed completely. Jack cleaned his wound exactly as he had cleaned her blood before. Her touch was soft and gentle upon his skin. Later, Riddick went in search of the med kit and gave it to her.
She began to extract the small pieces of mirror one by one carefully, trying not to hurt him. Jack was lost in her own thoughts. She had so many questions at this point, and she needed to know the reasons why Riddick was acting so strangely. Jack hadn’t remembered everything, but enough to know that something was missing. He obviously was concerned about her safety and did care for her. And without a doubt, they had been close enough, because he seemed to read her really well and knew how to act when it came to her own good. A dead silence fell upon them. She could no longer hide her curiosity. She wanted answers and that moment was as good as any other to get them. “Why?”, she broke the silence after a long moment.
Riddick stiffened in his seat and cleared his throat. Here we go. Why? Why what? The kiss? The punch? Back in her life? Protect her? Want her? Save her? Fuck with her? There were many whys, maybe too many that needed to be answered. And he didn’t have, or want to give, the right answer for all of them He frowned, “Why what, exactly?”, his voice suddenly serious. Jack pressed a little more than was necessary on one of the cuts. Riddick raised a brow and stared at her from behind his goggles. “Trying to hurt me kid?”, he teased and he dropped his tone of voice. “Cause bigger and badder than you have tried before”, he mocked.
Jack raised her head. Not this time, big guy, she silently said. “Lights low”, she ordered as she gently stroked his hand. Riddick frowned, and a second later he froze when she reached for his goggles and pulled them down to his neck. She then locked eyes with him as she took a deep breath. “Why everything, Riddick?”, her voice soft and full of longing.
Riddick kept silent, his face unreadable. Everything, huh? No less for my girl, he chuckled at his thought. He steeled his gaze and pulled his hand from hers. “You done?”, he asked as he got up.
Jack frowned, disappointed, and turned away from his eyes. “Yeah, I’m done”, she said as she stood careful, so as to not make the blanket slip from her body. She sighed and headed toward the bedroom. “For now”, she added over her shoulder. She made clear to him with the tone of her voice that she wasn’t the scared woman-child he had found on Thalion.
Riddick noticed it and followed her with his gaze, letting out a deep breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Yeah, for now, he echoed silently and headed toward the cockpit.