Liability Insurance

Fandom: Pitch Black

Category/Rated: T

Year/Length: 2004/ ~2815 words

Pairing: Riddick/Jack

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.

Warning: Language, blood, some killin'.

Summary: If you can't keep up you get left behind, at least, that's what she's always thought.

Author's Notes: P.B. fanfiction (on the longer side). Again completely neglecting the COR universe. Again with R/J goodness.

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The Eyes In the Back of My Head Are Blind

If you can't keep up you get left behind.

Simple enough concept. Simple enough rule. She'd lived with that knowledge most of her life, whether it was with her parents, or with the gang she ran with, or with other prisoners in the Slam. If you can't keep up you get left behind. Baby can't get it's own damn food, cutting into the money for momma's caffeine, it's gotta go. The runts sick, can't afford to keep her skinny ass around. Leave the new boy for the guards, that'll teach him to make to much noise.

If you can't keep up you get left behind. Every interaction with people she'd ever had drove that lesson home. Be the fastest, be the smartest, be the quietest, or you're on your on without so much as a 'good luck'. And no one makes it very long on their own, another lesson she'd learned again, and again, and again. Without the pack you die.

If you can't keep up you get left behind. The rule lay unspoken between her and Riddick, a dark threat that neither had ever mentioned. She had no illusions about Riddick staying with her no matter what, that was too much to expect from anyone, especially when she wasn't even sure she would stay with Riddick no matter what.

If you can't keep up you get left behind. She knew it. She accepted it. And so when the merc slammed her into a wall, winding his fingers into her short hair and tilting her head back while simultaneously pressing a cold sharp blade to her throat, she knew that Riddick would be gone when she opened her eyes. That she would never see him again. That she had just lost her pack.

The merc was hissing something in her ear, but she wasn't paying any attention to him. Her only immediate concern was escape. Before anything else, before she mourned her loss, before she began looking for a new pack, escape. The hand holding the knife pressed to her throat was shaking. Either the merc had a case of nerves or he was high on caffeine. That could work either for her or against her.

If you can't keep up you get left behind. And she hadn't kept up, Riddick was gone, she knew. She knew, until she opened her eyes, a second after she was slammed into the wall, and found her expectations shattered.

If you can't keep up you get left behind. So why the hell was Riddick turning around, blade in his hand? She felt her breath leave her in a rush, as though she'd been struck in the gut. And so she stared, waiting for Riddick to turn and go, watching him go against one of the few things she'd always known as Truth. Riddick took another step towards her and the merc jerked her head back farther, his voice shrill when he shouted, "You come any closer and I'm gonna slit her frigging throat, hear?"

And to her further shock, Riddick stopped, went completely and totally still, and she knew that the merc was a dead man. "Put the knife down!" She felt drops of cold sharp rain falling on her forehead, and a chill climbed up her spine. No people out. No one around to help even if they would have helped. Just her and Riddick and the merc.

"NOW!" the knife pressed into her throat, and she felt warm blood slip down her throat, and Riddick's hand opened instantly around the blade, which clattered loudly where it hit the ground. She wanted to scream at him to go, that his staying here was against what should be, what she knew should be.

"Get on your knees, and take off those goddamn goggles," the merc was calming down, getting comfortable with his plan. That was good for Jack, and she slowly moved her right hand out to brace it against the wall. The left hand she moved close, close, close to the mercs leg, as close as she could get without him feeling her, and waited.

Waited as she watched Riddick sink slowly to his knees, moving his goggles so they rested on the top of his head, revealing eyes of mercury that he had to squint against the sunset. The merc was making a soft wheezing noise that she realized was laughter. The cut on her neck burned, but she'd had worse, and shoved the pain away.

"They all told me I couldn't do it! People smarter'n me tried to get Riddick and failed, they said. People with teams and guns, they said," the wheezing noise was getting louder and she found herself wondering if maybe the merc was high on more than just caffeine. "But I knew what all those others didn't! I knew about the girl," he jerked her head closer to his for emphasis, and she took the opportunity to position her hand better for what she planned.

"I knew I'd get you because you're an animal, and I read how animals protect their mates! Not so tough now, are you!" the wheezing became so hard that the man's entire body began shaking. And Jack, doing her best to ignore the 'mate' comment, seized her opportunity, quite literally. She thrust her hand backwards, finding the man's balls easily enough and closing her fingers in a vice that immediately turned the wheezing into a high-pitched keening.

The mercs hand spastically opened on the blade, and she shoved herself away from him even as Riddick snatched his knife off the ground and stalked towards the merc. The merc, nameless, high, and stupid, made a wet gurgling sound when he died, and was then finally silent. Jack took a deep breath, and raised a hand distractedly to the wound on her neck.

Her hand came away bright crimson, and for the first time she allowed herself to wonder just how deep it was. She only had a second to wonder about it because then Riddick was in front of her, tilting her head back, his fingers dancing worriedly across her wound. He made a displeased noise in the back of his throat, and she felt the vibration of it threw his fingers.

And suddenly all she could think about was the mercs last words, and how she was very nearly seventeen, and how she'd caught Riddick's eyes on her so often these last few weeks. And how a year ago Riddick had stopped returning to the ship smelling like cheap perfume, cheap wine, and cheap women. And for a moment she was very still, considering as she stared down at the top of his head.

"Riddick?"

After a moment he looked up from her wound, no longer squinting because it was twilight. "What happened to 'If you can't keep up you get left behind'?" she tried to make it a joke, but knew that she failed miserably. Everything she'd thought she knew about people had just been shaken. And she needed to know why.

He was silent for a long moment, simply staring at her with mercury eyes as the rain fell hard and the tiny cold drops mingled with the hot blood that was soaking the collar of her shirt.

And then his hand was sliding behind her head, and his lips where on hers, soft and warm and tasting absurdly, insanely, like cherries. And she was pressed against him in barely a second, and damn but she'd been waiting for this for three years, and it was about goddamn time. She felt lightheaded, dizzy, and she wondered if it was her wound or the kiss or both.

Riddick drew his lips away from hers, head cocked to one side as he looked down into her face. And the dizziness was still there which meant it was almost certainly from her wound. One side of her shirt was almost completely soaked, and she thought that probably meant that she'd lost too much blood.

"Jack?" his voice was low, rough, something that might pass for worry in it. She opened her mouth to speak, closed it again to swallow, and felt her knees give. She only fell an inch, maybe two, before he caught her to his chest. The last thing she saw before her mind went black was his face, a mask of surprise and worry.

A Critical Part of Me

So small.

When he'd first met her, his upper arm had been bigger than her waist. She'd had the lithe half-starved look of someone who didn't know where his or her next meal was coming from. She had been thirteen, and there'd not been a trace of body fat on her entire body. A steady supply of food over the past three years had taken away the protruding ribs, but she had retained her long, thin form.

He didn't understand how something so small could be so powerful. But somehow she'd managed to meld herself into his life, till it was like she'd always been there, till he couldn't imagine not having her there anymore. So small, and yet within the first four weeks she'd known him she'd become a part of him to the degree that when Iman had asked him to leave Jack on New Mecca he'd almost killed the man.

Why? It was something he'd thought about for the last three years. Why pin the holy man against the wall, knife almost slicing skin before the human side of his brain even realized what was happening? And it had all boiled down to the skinny little girl with the big green eyes and the long thin hands that he could smell blood all over.

So small.

And yet how many times in the last year had he found himself standing beside her bed while she slept, watching her when she whimpered and twisted up into a ball and wanted to hold her, soothe her, comfort her? And how the hell had some skinny kid managed to get under his skin and in his veins to the point that he didn't want other women? He couldn't pinpoint when he had started comparing all other women to Jack, anymore than he could pinpoint when all those women in their short, tight clothes had started coming up wanting.

But they had, and he came back frustrated, to stare down at Jack and tell himself that tomorrow he'd be in that bed with her. Every day for a year, he'd be telling himself tomorrow, and everyday for a year tomorrow had not come. And he looked down at her small body and wondered what the hell was wrong with him.

The merc today changed everything, because though there had been mercs before none of them had ever dared get that close before. And he had finally, finally, touched those lips, and felt her small body pressed against his, and felt whole for the first time in his goddamn life. And it had almost been the tomorrow that he'd been waiting for.

So small.

The doctors were all around her, white coats that gleamed bright, wet crimson where her blood splattered on them. He'd watched enough things die to know that she was losing way too much damn blood, that her heart was pumping her dry. He wished he hadn't given the merc a quick death, wished he could go back and make the man suffer.

For a moment, he wondered what he would do if she died, in there on the table with the doctors darting around her with distress written all over their faces. Someone was telling him to "please sir, go sit in the waiting room", but he ignored them and after a moment they left. And Jack's blood fell in bright droplets to land on the white floor and his hand clenched the back of a nearby chair and he felt it bend.

Ten minutes ago he had been kissing her, pleased to note that her body felt like heaven pressed against his, even if she was tall and skinny. Ten minutes ago the animal in his head had been making pleased rumbling noises, and he had been thinking that tomorrow had been well worth waiting for. Ten minutes ago he had been whole and he had understood why he had almost killed Iman, and why other women were nothing, and why he hadn't left Jack.

So small.

And yet she was a part of him, and he'd known that on an unconscious level for years. She was a piece of him, the last piece of him, the one that made him whole, complete, finished. She was a part of him and so she couldn't be allowed to die because Rule Number One was Self Preservation Above All Else, and Rule Number One must never be broken.

One of the doctors was bitching that they were wasting to much of their precious blood supplies on a skinny little thing that was as good as dead anyway. The others were agreeing and he could smell the defeat all over them, threw their white gowns and their bright eyes. And so he was pushing his way threw the doors while some poor nurse screamed at him that "Sir, you cannot go in there! Sir!"

After a moment one of the doctors looked up and saw him, and the man's eyes almost doubled in size, his sentence, something about running out of blood, trailed off, unfinished. Riddick extended his arm, palm up, and shrugged. "Use mine," He didn't know exactly how his blood might react in Jack's body. There'd been things done to him that had assured him that he wasn't strictly human, but something inside his head kept telling him that she was a part of him and so of course everything would be fine.

So small.

And he wasn't going to let her die. The doctor gapped at him, before he set his face full of righteous indignation and snoted something about that being "against every medical guideline in the book". Riddick had discovered that most people didn't give a shit what 'the book' said when faced with someone twice their size who really wanted something.

So he shrugged, and decided to reason with the man. "She lives, or you die," he left it at that and after a moment the doctor swallowed and barked out an order for some piece of equipment that Riddick had never heard of. It turned out to be two needles, a tube, and a few mechanical devices that looked liked they'd been thrown in as an afterthought.

They stationed Riddick beside her left shoulder, and he tried not to take up very much room as they hurried around him, all of them covered with blood to their elbows. Time passed though he could not track it, till he began to feel lightheaded, and had to rest his weight on the edge of her gurney so that he didn't sway.

So small.

The big white bandage they had over her neck looked foreign, but at least the bleeding had stopped and the doctors looked relaxed for the first time since he'd burst into the hospital, with her limp and barely breathing in his arms. They were pulling the needle out of his arm, but the spots in the corners of his eyes remained.

He waited till they had removed their tubes and wires from her before scooping her up to the sound of their protests. She was light in his arms, and for an insane second that made him realize that maybe his blood loss was more serious than he'd been assuming, he thought that she was hollow. But then she made a rumbling noise in the back of her throat, and it grounded him, and he turned to leave.

There was a doctor blocking the door, whimpering something about, "you can't just carry her out of here!" And he cocked his head and felt a smile hitching up the corners of his mouth. Sometimes he wondered if people were ever going to realize that there was very little he couldn't do. Somehow he doubted it.

So small.

"You gonna stop me?" For a moment the doctor stood gaping at him, and then slowly stepped out of the way. And so he carried his Jack out of the hospital, and was pleased to note that he wasn't swaying to bad. Some part of his blood-loss deluded mind wanted to know why sharing blood with Jack had made him dizzy. Weren't they the same person?

He shook his head, making his way back to their ship, wanting only to fall into bed and curl around Jack, and sleep with her long thin body pressed against his. And when she woke up...well, it was about damn time that tomorrow got here.

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