Chapter 7: Thoughts of the night before.
Riddick was possessed, kicking and punching with his fists into the punching bag, giving free reign to his rage and frustration. He had been locked inside the training room for the last four hours. He had been thinking about all the possible reactions that Jack could have had, but the thought of Jack with a loss of memory had never crossed his mind. He had braced himself for shouts, harsh words, kicks and blows. Well, maybe not really those last two, but anyway, he wasn’t ready to face a Jack with no memories of him.
He had left her on New Mecca with Imam, safe and sane. How had she landed in Thalion, he asked himself. System Gemini wasn’t remotely near Helion Prime. Where’s Imam, why had Jack left him? Maybe she went looking for me, he thought. What the hell happened, he asked himself as he punched with his right fist, one, two, three more times and collapsed onto the floor, exhausted, frustrated and mad as hell. His mind was racing, full of unanswered questions. Richard B. Riddick had always been in control, and this new sensation was beginning to overpower him, and that was a bad thing. Bad for him, and very, very dangerous for other people.
After a long moment he got to his feet and headed toward the bathroom, covered in sweat and lost in thought. After taking a shower he went to his room. Once there, he saw Jack’s bag on the floor near the wardrobe. Riddick had told her, the night before, to put just a few things inside it, in order to not arouse suspicion about her. Maybe I should take care of that and put her clothes inside the wardrobe, he thought. Then he looked around and frowned. He had been so busy thinking about his little Jack in danger, that he forgot about his ship, there was only one bedroom with just the one bed. Fuck, he sighed. She’s not a kid anymore.
Riddick rubbed his forehead and shut his eyes. Shit, shit, shit, he slapped himself mentally. He thought about Jack’s clothes inside her bag. On second thought, it’ll be a better idea if she takes care of that, later, he decided, sighing once again. A funny noise from his stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten for more than twelve hours, so he turned on his heel and went to the kitchen.
Later, he sat on a couch in the living area and stared at his hands where a picture of his little Jack was staring back at him. He thought about how unpredictable the human mind was. Jack didn’t remember him, but her brain had been playing tricks with her, even without her expressed consent; such as the door’s security code, the furniture, and the clothes. At this point, Riddick felt as if he was at a dead end. He grunted and sighed. At least, after a couple of hours with Jack, she smiled at him. Certainly, it wasn’t the one he remembered, but maybe not everything had changed after all. He had even made her laugh with his dark sense of humour. Seeing her laughing had been the most precious reward in years for him. He grinned at that thought.
They had spent the night together and Jack had fallen asleep in Riddick’s arms, just like when she was fifteen. However, it wasn’t a peaceful sleep, and Riddick noticed that she didn’t trust him like she used to. Jack’s eyes had betrayed her, showing her doubts and fear, but Riddick pretended not to notice. The same we he ignored her trembling hands and the cold sweat on her forehead and back. He knew that these symptoms weren’t a result of the fear that she had felt from his being next to her . So he had wondered about the origin of them, but let it go for now, making a mental note to talk with her about it later.
Riddick had left out his real reason for coming back to look for her. He gave Imam’s God thanks for Jack’s confusion at that very moment, otherwise she would have asked a lot of questions. Questions he suspected he wouldn’t be able to answer. Not yet. Not now. He didn’t think to hide it from her, at least not forever anyway, but for now, to know this information would only make Jack panicky, and that was something that Riddick definitely didn’t want to deal with right now. Not only would it make things worse, if that was possible at this point of the events, but he thought there was no need to confuse her more. Riddick thought they would have plenty of time to deal with it later, when they were safe and alone on board The Darkveil. Alone. Shit! he exclaimed to himself. That was another problem that he had to deal with.
Riddick glanced at his chrono and realized that it was around three. The kid would probably be awake already, he thought. How fucking ironic, he stood thinking. I’ve spent the last five fucking years without even think about her, and now that I’ve seen the little brat just a few fucking hours, and I can’t wait to see her again, he grinned. You’re going soft, Rick, he chuckled.
Riddick shook his head trying to end this line of thinking. He needed something else to keep his mind busy, so he headed to the cockpit. It was time to check their destination. He figured that they had a four days advantage on The Firm’s men. Without a doubt, the hunt would be on, but Riddick was real good at covering his trail, and for now his landing on Thalion had passed unnoticed
He uploaded the codes and went to check the different routes with his charts. He needed to find a place away from commercial lines. He had noticed Jack’s weakness and he knew she might not be up to it if they were to face The Firm’s hunting dogs. A very real danger was gliding around their heads, and Jack was in need of training. For her body and mind, otherwise they would be dead in less than a month. That’s not gonna happen, he said and meant those words. Not gonna happen, he repeated to himself. Her death was something he hadn’t thought about since that terrible night; the night he dreamed of her dieing in his arms. Not gonna happen, he echoed in his mind as he clenched his fists.
Riddick growled. He was trying to fill his mind with other matters apart from Jack, and all his thought were dancing around her again and again. He then gave in, closed his eyes, and thought about the past.
“You know that you are going to break her into pieces”, Imam told him as he took a seat. “What is the reason for this sudden change of mind, Mr. Riddick?” he asked concerned.
The room was in shadows, but Riddick kept his goggles on. He didn’t want Imam looking into his eyes, he knew that in some way Imam could read him; that was something Riddick didn’t need right now. “She’s a tough kid, Imam”, he answered him, purposefully avoiding the question.
Imam sighed and shook his head in denial. He knew that sometimes, speaking with Riddick, was like preaching in the middle of the desert with no one around to listen. “But, she is just a child, and she feels very close to you”, he said frustrated and sad. Imam was completely sure about the consequences of Riddick leaving her behind.
Riddick arched a brow and stared at Imam. “I thought you didn’t want me to raise her”, he said calmly. Imam nodded and sighed. Riddick growled and closed his hand into a fist in anticipation of Imam’s words. He suspected that he wasn’t going to like them a bit.
Imam looked at him and braced himself, he carefully chose his next words. He knew full well that they could mean the difference between life and death. “Mr. Riddick, Allah knows that I close my eyes and pretend not to know about some of the things that happen under this roof, though I do not approve of them. A fifteen year old girl should not be so close to a”, Imam cut himself off and waited for Riddick’s reaction.
He just grunted and stared at Imam. Imam closed his eyes and swallowed. He could feel Riddick’s eyes piercing him even through the goggles. Imam took a deep breath and elaborated, “Nevertheless, every night when I hear how Jacqueline cries out from the nightmares that haunt her, I feel my heart tear apart, and Allah forgive me, but even I know there is only one who can comfort her and soothe her”, he sighed and continued, “Her eyes light up when you enter a room, and I notice the pride in her voice when she talks about you” he finished looking at Riddick.
Riddick relaxed in his chair and looked down. He grinned, thinking about Jack’s smile and her eyes, but suddenly the memory of his vague dreams lately made him tense his body. “She’ll get over it”, he said in a low tone of voice as he stood. Imam knew that the conversation was over. Riddick turned and headed toward the door. “You could take care of her, holy man”, he said deadly serious over his shoulder.
Imam prayed to Allah to show him the path and to give him the strength and wisdom to confront the challenge of taking care of Jack without Riddick around. “I would do my best, trust me. I would take care of her, I promise you that”, then he stood and headed back to his room.
Riddick stopped and turned on his heel when he heard Imam’s words. Seeing this, Imam extended his hand to shake Riddick’s, he said gently “Allah protect you, my son.” Riddick stared at Imam’s hand as if he was thinking about his offer, and after a few seconds, Riddick shook Imam’s hand and sighed. Imam slowly nodded yes, as he understood how hard that simple sign was for him. Imam saw Riddick for the first time through Jack’s eyes, and knew that Riddick trusted him more than anyone else. Riddick was thinking of leaving behind with him his most precious treasure. Jack.
He’d better take care of her for his own good, Riddick thought. Jack was his kid and Imam knew that. Jack was Richard B. Riddick’s kid. His Jack.
It was only a few days later that Riddick had the dream again. This time, when he woke, he remembered everything, and left.
End flash back.
Riddick opened his eyes and stroked Jack’s printed face with the tip of his finger as he took a deep breath. Just a few hours and we’ll be together, he thought. Nothing could tear us apart, Jack, not even myself. He thought, meaning every word. He stood to get ready for their meeting.