Chapter 5: About hugs, kisses and trust.
It had almost grown dark on Thalion, and a soft breeze loaded with dust, due to the explosions in the mines, was blowing around the city. The temperature was warm even during the night. The activity around the port had been frantic during the past weeks. Many ships had landed during the day, the port had plenty of people coming and going from one side to another. In the middle of all this activity, one ship in particular landed. On board it had just one passenger, the captain. Both of them went unnoticed by local port authorities, The Darkveil and her captain, Mr. Richards. He reported a maximum stay of forty-eight hours, just enough to refuel the ship and buy supplies on his way to the frontiers.
Riddick had arrived early that morning, and after reporting his arrival, he had been checking the ship with meticulous devotion, and later he had bought supplies and refuelled The Darkveil. He wanted everything ready for their departure , he didn’t expect to be on Thalion for more than two days tops.
On board The Darkveil, he had passed much of the afternoon training and reading about Audrey Jacqueline Travis. The files that The Firm had sent him included a diary with her activities on the planet. A psychological profile and other documents like school marks, reviews from her boss, and a list with the people who were around and in contact with her. Riddick discarded everything except the list of Jack’s friends. He frowned, there were just two names: Dr. Morris and Danielle Petersen, Period, her doctor and her roommate. According to the files, Jack had been on Thalion for almost five years. Where are the rest of your friends, Jackie girl? He asked to himself. He knew she was funny and a nice person, she was full of tenderness and cared for people. Why don’t you have more friends, kid? He was suddenly worried about her. Could a person change so much in a few years? He then took the medical report and read it carefully, paying special attention to her psychiatric tests. Riddick knew too well about their methods and technical concepts. The girl that those reports talked about was a complete stranger to him. There was almost nothing in the file that reminded him of the annoying brat that had somehow gotten under his skin, without him even realizing it, making him care about her, even miss her when he had left. What had happened to the skinny little girl? He wonder lost in thoughts.
Sure, he hadn’t spent all that much time with Jack, but it was enough, and he felt he knew her pretty well. He knew that he had a knack for knowing the minds of his fellow human beings. In the end, he had learned to follow his gut instincts. He had used this instinct on numerous occasions against his victims. He was good at fucking with peoples minds, recognizing their weakness and using it to his advantage.
Within the files he found a fifteen-year old Jack’s picture. She wore her hair really short, and in her eyes, you could feel her sadness. The brightness that had shown once had disappeared, along with her smile. He thought that probably was taken after he had abandoned her in New Mecca. Riddick just stared at her picture. Oh, fuck, Jack, what did I do to you, kid? He thought. When he had left her, he had never thought about her feelings, just about her safety. Period.
“NOOOOO! RIDDICK!” Jack cried out at the top of her lungs.
Seconds later, she found herself in Riddick’ arms and he was soothing her with his low and deep voice, whispering into her shaved head and holding her tightly. Jack gripped his t-shirt like it was her only lifeline, so tight that her knuckles were white. Riddick felt her pulse quicken, and he thought for a second that Jack’s heart would explode from her flat chest. A veil of cold sweat covered her body and she was trembling with fear. He hugged her against his own chest as his hands brushed lightly across her back trying to calm her.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me alone, Riddick”, her voice was broken with tears. “Promise me you’ll never let them take me away …..”, she caught herself staring into his silver eyes.
Riddick’s eyes reflected the moonlight and shined in the complete darkness of their room. Jack was silent, waiting for his answer. She needed to know that he would always be with her, that he would always protect her from everyone and everything. “Never, kid”, was all he said.
His voice sounded solemn, hardly in a whisper. Jack smiled and nodded, that was enough for her. He noticed this with a certain kind of anguish, as Jack relaxed into his arms. “Never, kid”, Riddick repeated to himself, and as he did he realized something. He meant it, absolutely and without reserve, this was a promise he meant to keep. Jack fell asleep, cradled in Riddick’s arms, listening to the beat of his heart , sure that he would never abandon her. Riddick laid down with his little girl in his arms, holding her tightly and a few minutes later he fell asleep listening to Jack’s breathing.
End of flash back.
Riddick tensed his body and realized that he had closed his eyes, lost in memories of Jack. He then looked in the files for a twenty-year old Jack’s picture, and compared it with the one he had in his hands. No trace of that skinny girl that shaved her hair to keep his attention and emulate the infamous Richard B. Riddick himself. The colour of her eyes was still intense. He remembered one time when he asked Imam what the colour was and he told Riddick that they were green. However, from those green eyes had blazed a brightness. A brightness that once it glittered had illuminated his dark heart and even his dark soul. He dropped the documents to the floor and stood. Closing the distance between the cockpit and the ramp from the cargo hold, he went out from his ship and stared at the sky. It had almost grown dark, it was time. He decided to confirm for himself all the intel The Firm had sent him, so Riddick made his way through the crowds of people that were at the port and headed to the center of the town, in search of North Hill. In search of his Jack.
Not even Riddick could have chosen a better planet to stay for a while. Twelve hours of night, a city full of whorehouses, bars, clubs and dark alleys. There were plenty of living souls here. Spending their lives apart from the real world that surrounded them. Crossing a few alleys, he arrived to the complex that was named North Hills.
Riddick watched the building from across the street. According to his information, Jack lived at the employees level, and that building was on the other side of the complex, so, like a shadow in motion, he slid through the corridors in the direction of Jack’s apartment. Minutes later, he was at her apartment door. He hacked the security code, which was surprisingly his estimated date of birth, and opened the door. It was empty. Funny, nobody at home, he thought. Frowning he went to the kitchen and disconnected the lights. He then glanced at his chrono. Jack should have been back at home an hour ago. Where was she? He wondered. After a moment, he decided to snoop around the apartment and try to find out more about the new Jack, before she came back, supposedly without her roommate.
Today was Friday and the company usually held a party for their employees. It was a policy of the company so that everyone could relax after a long hard workweek. Jack never went to any of these parties and tonight shouldn’t have been an exception.
The apartment had two bedrooms. Riddick glanced first into the one on the right, and after a few seconds he concluded it was Danielle’s, so the one on the left side must be Jack’s. Riddick opened the door and raised his eyebrows in complete surprise. All the furniture was very similar style, and located in the exact position as they were situated in the room they shared in New Mecca. However, there was no trace of any of the personal items she had had back then. Interesting, he thought.
He headed to her wardrobe and opened it. He looked the clothing to be found there. Chiefly all her clothes were in dark colours, probably black, or that was what he figured. Riddick couldn’t distinguish colours, just variations of grey, pink and black tonalities. Who is obsessed now with the colour black, Jack? He chuckled.
The weren’t too much different now from back then, the clothes were almost identical. Too big t-shirts, a lot of cargo pants and boots. It seemed to be her priority feel comfortable rather than sexy. Actually, he didn’t know what to think about that. If that was good or not was something that Riddick didn’t want to deal right now with. One thing was clear, they weren’t girlie outfits. Hmmmmm, he said as closed the wardrobe. He then went to the drawers and looked with care inside of the first one. It was full of underwear, bras and panties. Black, of course, he said to himself. He found a couple of panties with little bunnies. He pulled one out and stared at it. It seemed to be more comfortable for a five year old child, not only for the pictures but for the size. He let his imagination fly free and pictured a twenty year old Jack wearing those panties. Mmmmmmm. He shook his head and tried to clear his thoughts. A few seconds later he replaced them in the drawer. Suddenly he turned, and looked for a second at the bedroom around him. He then stared at her bed and saw a few bears on top of her pillow. They looked old judging by their condition. He frowned. Wait a minute, Where’s the fucking Big Evil? He wondered.
“Jack! Hey, Jack!” Riddick cried out as opened the door to the house. “Where are you, kid?” He asked as climbing the stairs two steps at a time.
Jack’s smiled as soon as she heard him calling her. Riddick had been out doing God knows for what for three days. Jack missed him terribly, but she rather be killed than let him know that. “Here, big guy!” she yelled back as she turned on her heels to find Riddick’s chest in her face. “Fuck, Riddick, you always have to be so silent”, she hissed. She then looked up to his face and gave him a big smile.
He grinned. “A slam thing, kid. If you’re good at using a skill, keep using it”, he explained looking at her.
Jack headed to the bed and took a seat on it. Riddick was holding something behind his back. “What’cha got there big guy?” Jack asked as she tried to see what was hidden behind Riddick’s back.
Riddick chuckled and dropped the thing to Jack. She caught it in mid air. She saw that it was a black bear that held in one hand a shiv, and a red heart in the other. She laughed hard. “Oh, come on, Riddick. Don’t you think I’m too old for these things?” She asked him as unconsciously she hugged it against her chest.
Riddick raised an eyebrow and went to sit with her. “I thought it was perfect for you”, his voice sounded touched. In the end Jack was just a kid, his kid, and always would be. Why in hell she kept pretending to be an adult, he didn’t know. Sure she had been through a lot, experienced more than anyone her age should, but she had him now, didn’t she?
Jack watched in silence. Funny she could have sworn that his face showed pain, but then she blinked and, voila, it had gone, leaving his face without any trace of emotion. Jack just batted him lightly on the arm with the bear. “I’m kidding. I love it.” She said smiling. “Thanks, Riddick”, she continued, staring at her own reflection in his goggles. Then she kissed his cheek. Riddick tensed for a second, then relaxed. “What are we going to name him?”, she asked him looking at the black bear and frowning. Suddenly, she jumped on the bed. “I’ve got it!” She cried out. “I’m going to name him”, she began but Riddick cut her off.
“Don’t even think that, kid”, he warned her.
Jack laughed. “I’m going to call him Big Evil!” she said full of pride. “The Big Evil Riddick”, she told him as she raised the black bear in front of them. “How about that?” She asked him.
Riddick laughed. Strange how he couldn’t help but feel full of pride concerning her. Actually, it wasn’t the first time that someone used that expression to refer him, but it was definitely the first time that someone said it with pride and tenderness in reference to him. There were too many emotions and feelings inside his brain at this point, he needed to change the subject to something he could control, and fast, otherwise he would ….. What? Cry? No, no, no. Richard B Riddick, for God’s sake!
“Have you been training, Jack?”, he asked her.
Jack jumped from the bed and after kicking the air two or three times and punching the air with her fists, she turned to look at him. “Everyday, Master”, she mocked him making an exaggerated bow.
Riddick growled. “Let’s see it”, he got up and headed to the door.
Jack just looked at him. “But, Riddick, you told me that when you came back, the first thing we were going to do was take a walk together around the city”, she said in a disappointed voice and frowning.
Riddick didn’t stop. “Business before pleasure”, was all he said as he looked over his shoulder and headed to the training room.
Jack shrugged her shoulders and quickened her footsteps to reach him. Riddick watched from the corner of his eye. “Where do you think you’re going with the fucking Big Evil, kid?” He growled.
Jack stopped and looked down to the bear and then hugged it tightly to her chest. “Training, of course”, she said calmly. When he just stared at her with a steely expression, she stared back, “Wherever I go, he’ll come with me”, she explained to him. Riddick stood there frozen. She elaborated, “Look, man. There’s no one else to take care of Big Evil Riddick. Just me, got it?”, she put as much reassurance as she could into those words and he noticed, but pretended not to catch the double meaning in her words. “Isn’t it, Big Evil?”, she asked the bear and gave him a big smile.
Riddick grinned and opened the training room’s door. Jack shook her head and rolled her eyes as entered behind him.
End flash back.
A noise alerted Riddick, and pulled him from his thoughts. Jack was back. Riddick took a seat in the chair that was backed against the wall, and waited. He had a lot of questions for Jack. He was also completely sure that she was going to be mad as hell when she saw him. Riddick knew that he was going to need all his patience to deal with Jack. He remembered her dirty language and chuckled. She sure as hell’ll be screaming obscenities for hours, he thought. Riddick got comfortable in the armchair and grinned. How he had missed that skinny little brat.