Chapter 17 Part B: All Through The Night
“Audrey Jacqueline Travis!” the man yelled at her. “I’m sick and tired of your unacceptable behaviour. You should know that we will no longer tolerate your disrespect here”, the manager of the “home in transit” said; fully annoyed at an eight years old Jack. She crouched in a corner and covered her head in anticipation of what was about to happen. Jack was terrified and wondered if sneaking around the kitchen, looking for some food for her roommate, was worth the punishment that was to follow her innocent action. “I’ll teach you some respect, you little bitch”, he hissed as he viciously grabbed Jack’s hair and dragged her out of her bedroom. Jack shut her eyes, clenched her teeth, and braced herself for what came next.
End flash back
Jack screamed in her dreams and bolted wildly on the mattress. Riddick felt his blood burning hot in of his veins and closed his hands into fists as his beast roared with rage. He could smell her fear and wished with all his will to be able to get into her nightmare and kill, slowly and painfully, whoever it was that caused her fear. Jack’s eyes were closed and she was shaking with terror.
“What’s your name?”, a voice whispered next to Jack’s side.
“Jackie”, she answered as she hissed in pain. “Yours?”, Jack tried to move closer but her back side screamed, aching with her latest beating.
“Amanda”, was the answer, along with an extended hand. “Been here a few times before. It’s your first time, isn’t it?”, Amanda asked as she looked at the girl who was probably around twelve years old. Amanda was fourteen. Jack nodded yes as she took a deep breath. “What’d you do? Didn’t call him daddy?”, her sarcastic tone echoed in Jack’s mind.
Jack chuckled and wiped her face to dry her tears. “Cut the fucker”, she grinned as she shook Amanda’s hand. “I think he’s not gonna be daddy after all”, Jack smirked.
“Good. One motherfucker less to worry about”, Amanda grinned.
End flash back
Jack eye’s fluttered open, just for a few seconds, and she saw someone beside her. “Everything’s ok kid”, she heard whispered in a grave, deeply tender voice as she felt fingers stroke her forehead. “You’ll be fine in a couple of days”, the voice echoed in Jack’s mind. She smiled weakly and closed her eyes, swallowing hard. The man seemed familiar to her. Riddick, she thought, before she fell unconscious again.
“Jackie, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going”, her latest roommate whispered, stopping in her tracks and looking over her shoulder with her eyes narrowed. At close distance they could hear shouts and heavy footsteps heading directly towards them.
“I’m not going back”, Jack hissed and tried to get her friend to move. “I rather die here, free; than inside of that fucking hell”, Jack looked over her friend’s shoulders and grabbed her bag. “Come with me”, Jack pleaded to her friend.
“Good luck, Jackie. You deserve a better life”, the girl looked at Jack, her eyes full of tears. “Run, Jackie. Run”, her friend pushed Jack hard and almost made Jack fall. “Don’t look back!” She called back over her shoulder as she ran in the opposite direction; trying to make as much noise as possible in order to force them to follow her instead of Jack.
End flash back
Riddick stroked her wet hair as he murmured soothing words in her ear. Jack was gasping for air and covered in a cold sweat. From what he could tell, she was reliving all of her painful memories. He knew what some of those memories were, and he wouldn’t wish them on anyone. Riddick was sure that it was Jack, and not Audrey, who was fighting against them, and that Jack was strong enough to defeat them.
“Nice name for a girl”, Shazza said as she extended her hand to shake Jack’s.
“I’m a boy”, Jack retorted as she nervously looked over her shoulder to Zeke.
“Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us”, Shazza whispered to her as she looked at Zeke. He nodded and smiled gently. Jack narrowed her eyes in suspicion and just stared at Shazza. “It’ll be better if you stay close to us. Just in case someone asks questions”, she said as watched a couple of The Firm’s men inspecting the docking area in search of someone over Jack’s shoulder. Jack looked at Shazza’s hand, and after a long moment, she shook it back, a little relieved.
End flash back
Riddick tapped Jack’s arm and injected the sedative. She was so out of it at the moment that didn’t really even notice the needle, she let out only a small whimper. Riddick rested his elbows on his knees and grunted in frustration. She had passed two days in this state and it seemed that the worst had yet to pass. Suddenly, Jack’s body began to shiver and he smelled her fear. Riddick’s raised his head quickly and stared at Jack’s face. T2, he growled and then sighed.
“Never leave your guard down kid”, Riddick said as he glared at her from the corner of his eye. Jack looked at him, puzzled, as she turned to leave; only to find Johns leaning against the doorframe. Shit, she thought. Johns looked at her from head to toe slowly as he licked his lips. Jack took a step back and crashed into Riddick’s muscled body, who was now right behind her. Oh, fuck, now what? she asked herself, trying to hide her panic as best as she could.
“Hey, Big Evil!”, Johns called to Riddick. “There’s enough of her for both of us”, Johns smirked with a dirty smile, staring at Jack’s body. “You should know that good friends share”, he added as he moved forward. Jack gasped and her eyes widened in panic.
Riddick put a hand on Jack’s shoulder and she cringed. “Never were too good at sharing”, he growled as he pressed his big hand into Jack’s back. “Make yourself invisible for a while kid”, he whispered into her ear as he pushed her slightly. Jack let out the air she was keeping painfully inside of her lungs and ran without thinking twice; passing Johns on her way out. “Don’t touch what’s mine, merc”, she heard Riddick warning Johns in a deadly serious voice. She stopped dead, and turned on her heels. Riddick had Johns trapped against the wall. “Don’t forget who’s the best fucking killer”, Riddick’s low menacing tone echoed in her mind. Riddick then let him go with a hard push.
End flash back
Riddick saw how Jack’s eyes were moving wildly under her lids. She wasn’t unconscious, but deeply asleep. Riddick sighed and rubbed his eyes. He felt more than tired, he felt exhausted, but forced himself to keep focused on her. Riddick had made a promise to her, and no matter what the cost, he planned to keep it. He was not going to fail her. Not now, he thought as he took a sip of his strong, black coffee without taking his eyes off her. Not ever.
“Now. With those things outside?” Jack’s voice, full of panic, spoke to Fry.
“Don’t worry, Jack”, Fry said as she rubbed her shoulders. “They’re afraid of the light. We’ll make it”, Fry reassured her as she took one of the big lamps and headed toward the entrance.
“Be careful with your cuts”, Riddick growled as he crossed over by where Jack’s body crouched in a corner against the wall. “These fuckers have already had a taste our blood”, he added, staring at her before turning on his heel and going outside.
End flash back
Riddick took a sponge and cleaned Jack’s body gently. She had been sweating too much during the last two hours. He cursed himself silently, because he wasn’t able to stop his mind from playing with the idea that in some way, it seemed to him, that he was taking advantage of Jack’s situation. Her t-shirt was drenched with her sweat and her nipples were becoming erect under his chaste touch. He supposed that he shouldn’t be paying attention to natural, unconscious reactions of Jack’s body. But Riddick was a man after all, and Jack was a beautiful and sexy woman; even if she was covered in sweat, pale, and in much need of a real bath. He cursed himself for such unacceptable behaviour on his part, but forced himself to finish with his task.
“We survived that planet just to die here in the middle of fucking nowhere”, Jack hissed as she looked at Riddick.
“You must keep your faith, Jacqueline”, Imam’s gentle voice echoed in the skiff.
Riddick arched a brow. “You’re not gonna die, kid”, he growled. ” Not if I’m around”, he added as he took her little hand in his.
End flash back
Jack’s hands shook as Riddick took them in his. “Almost there, Jackie girl”, he muttered against her forehead as he kissed her. He kept her hands in his. Almost there, he repeated to himself sighing.
“Jackie!”, Imam’s gentle voice called to her. “Come on, my child. You shouldn’t be late”, he added from downstairs.
Jack looked at herself in the mirror. “Oh, fuck, holy “, she winced at her answer. “I’ll be down in a minute, Imam!”, she called as she turned and grabbed her bag.
Imam chuckled at her improper first answer and shook his head. He then turned his head when he heard Jack’s steps. “Sorry, Imam”, she softly said. “I didn’t meant to speak with such harsh language…”, she trailed off, suddenly ashamed, and looked down. Imam took her hands in his.
“I know it is difficult for you, child. But you are the strongest person I have ever known, and believe me, I know a lot of people”, he kissed her shaved head tenderly and let go of her. “Besides, you are learning fast. I am proud of you, Jacqueline”, his gentle smile lit up Jack’s heart and she pulled herself into his arms. Jack had tears silently rolling down her cheeks. Imam noticed them. “Soon you will be fine”, he hugged her tightly.
Jack let go of him and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Yeah, I know”, her voice sounded strong. “Remember that today after school I’ll go to that party at Kashimir’s house”, she took a deep breath. Imam nodded smiling.
“Ah, Kashimir is a great girl. I am very happy that the both of you have become good friends”, he said as he headed to the door of the house. “Allah protect you my child”, Imam’s voice sounded solemn and full of pride to her.
End flash back
Riddick frowned and bent closer to her face. Her eyes were closed, shedding tears, and Jack sobbed. She was dreaming about the father that gave her love and tenderness without expecting anything in exchange from her; Imam.
Jack turned her head when she heard the door of her room open. Two men came inside. “Hi, Audrey”, one of them told her as he headed to her side, while the other close the door. “I’m Dr. Morris. Don’t try to move, you’re still too weak”, he continued as he took her hand.
Jack narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Where am I?” She asked and tried to swallow, her mouth was very dry.
“You’re in my clinic. We’re going to take good care of you. Don’t worry about anything, my child”, he added as he stroked her hand gently. The second man took her other hand and checked her pulse.
Jack closed her eyes again and sighed. “What… what has happened to me?” She asked, with a hint of fear.
“Well, as far as we know, there was an explosion near the mines located in the south area. We don’t know what you were doing there though”, Dr. Morris explained to her. Jack’s eyes widened as she looked at the man beside the bed. “What’s the last thing you remember, Audrey?” He asked, sounding concerned as he looked her right in the eyes.
Jack frowned and thought about his question for a long moment. Suddenly silent tears rolled down her cheeks, and her eyes widened in horror. “I … I can’t remember…”, she trailed off as she stared at Dr. Morris.
Dr. Morris’s smile widened as he tapped her hand gently. “Don’t worry now about that”, he said as he turned around and picked a hypo syringe from a tray beside her bed. “This is a treatment that is going to help you to remember everything”, he continued as he loaded it with a red ampoule. “You’ll be better soon. You’ll see”, he continued as he injected the liquid into her neck.
Jack shut her eyes. Shit, she thought when she felt the needle pierce her skin. Oh my God, help me! she cried out in her mind.
End flash back
Chapter 17 Part C: Waking Up
Three days passed while Jack slipped back and forth between unconscious and consciousness, but she was never fully awake. Every twelve hours Riddick injected her with the drugs that would help her with her withdrawal, and stayed awake beside her all the time. He didn’t sleep at all. He was determined to not make the same mistake twice. He had made a promise he meant to keep, and no one in the Galaxy could have made him change his mind. After three days he was exhausted, even if he insisted on denying to himself that fact. Riddick had put his crossed arms onto the mattress and rested his head on them. His heavy eyelids closed without his consent as he finally fell asleep, unable to keep his self – imposed obligation.
Jack stirred on the bed and opened her eyes carefully. She blinked and shivered. The bedroom was in shadows, but after a moment her eyes had grown accustomed. She felt as if her body was floating in air or water. What happened? she asked herself. Her mind was blurry and full of memories. Jack slowly turned her head to one side and noticed something beside her arm. She tried to move her hands and found that one was trapped. She raised her head and looked down. Jack’s lips curved into a tiny smile as she saw Riddick’s hand covering hers. Riddick, she thought. She then carried her other hand to hesitantly stroke Riddick’s arm gently. As soon as Riddick felt the slight caress he snapped his eyes open but didn’t move.
Jack looked at him and saw his tired eyes and the fatigue written all over his face. It looks like he hasn’t slept in days, she thought. Then she tried to swallow and noticed her dry throat, which caused her to frown. “What …”, she tried to speak, but she felt sick and took a deep breath. She relaxed a bit and tried again, forcing the sickness back. “What … what happened to us?”, she forced out, her voice was still weak, almost a whisper. Jack couldn’t think straight right now. Her mind still couldn’t register all the events of the past few days. She felt tired but not sleepy, as if her mind was tired and needed more time than usual to form thoughts and phrases. She felt as if she was ethereal and weighed almost nothing.
Riddick slowly raised his head and locked eyes with her. “It’s over now, Jack”, he said as he blinked the sleep from his eyes. Jack slowly nodded, finally starting to put together what had happened, and closed her eyes. Swallowing hard, she felt Riddick’s arms raising her torso and encircling her body as he took a deep breath. It’s over, Jack, she said to herself. You already won the battle, she added as she made herself comfortable within Riddick’s strong arms. Riddick sighed heavily and closed his eyes. They would need to speak about this sooner or later, but for now they were in need of much rest and sleep. Jack is back, he thought. I can feel her, he added to himself as he stroked her back.
Jack pulled them both down onto the mattress. Riddick locked eyes with her, puzzled. He then let go of her and Jack shifted to one side, patting the place beside her and smiling shyly. He watched her, amused and not saying a word, he laid beside her as he again pulled her to him. Jack rested her head on his shoulder and breathed deeply. She still felt disorientated and dizzy but there was no pain in her body now. She relaxed completely in his arms and Riddick noticed that there was no trace of fear in her actions. He finally relaxed as well and let out a heavy sigh. Yeah, she’s back, was his last thought as he joined her in sleep.