“Is he awake yet?”
She’s sitting in a chair, beside Johnson. Comes down here quite a bit, and, if I couldn’t find her anywhere else, I know she’d be here. I’ve only left her side a couple of times, and, even at that, it’s only been in the last two days. She’s armed. Enough people here know Jane wouldn’t hesitate to shoot. Still makes my guts knot up every time I leave her alone. Had to start dealing with it sometime.
“He was for a little bit earlier. Franks put him out when he started running off a list of maintenance work for the engines.”
Let out a bit of a chuckle at that. He can’t be all that bad if he has the energy to be so pissed off. Hearing him swear and bluster, even if he can’t do it for long, is the best thing I’ve heard over the past couple of weeks. Heard plenty that’s good, but until you’ve sat, drinking coffee and smiling through words that would make a sailor blush, from someone who had to be revived twice, you don’t know good.
“We’ll probably need to start taking care of some of that for him. No way he’s going to get down there for a while. Who else do we have that can do it?”
Franks had to completely remove the leg. Suit him up with an artificial one. It’ll take time for him to learn to walk on it though. There’s no way Franks is going to let him work on an engine in that condition. An infection would kill him. He’d rather put the man out cold.
I put my coffee cup down, and slip my hand into Riddicks’, his thumb stroking over mine, soothing me without even realizing he’s doing it. The last two weeks have been interesting, to say the least. A whirlwind of ships coming and going. Bringing supplies, some just bringing news. The Company tried to stage a return, about the third day into what was a system wide revolt. The brutal methods they used, with what little manpower they had, only reinforced the uprising. There’s nothing left of the Company. Gone. I wake up every morning, and have to tell myself it’s true. It all seems too damned big somehow. So I bring myself down to the med bay every morning to remind myself.
“Johnson had me doing monkey work down there. If someone told me what needed done, I could probably make do. There’s a guy that came here the same time as Jenkins that knows his way around the engines out there, in the loading bay. Don’t know what he’d do with something bigger though. What about you?”
“Most of the basics I can handle. You might want to get a better list from Johnson when he wakes up next though. We’re going to need it, at some point, whether Franks thinks he should stay out or not.”
“What the hell would I do without you?”
She’s grinning as she says it, like a weight has been lifted off her. It was hectic here, for the first week. I guess I ended up as security. Kind of fucking funny, when you think about it. She never asked, just sort of worked out that way. She never asked Jenkins to take care of communications either. He was just suited for it, so she let him. Jane had offered the Decatur, as a home, more than three weeks ago now. Never really felt like it, until I started feeling useful here, until I started to have a place. To belong.
Started out just watching over Jane. She’s mine, and I sure as hell didn’t like to see her run ragged. Most of the time, just standing with her was enough to ensure no one gave her grief. About anything. Made things run smoothly. My ability to scare the hell out of people makes me perfect for security here.
There was an almost constant stream of hails from other ships. When Jenkins got too tired to speak, Jane would take over at the comm. He’d never sleep more than a few hours, before coming back out again. I wouldn’t have thought the kid had that much grit in him.
The kid can handle himself too. We got a few new people, from the Portugal. Hadn’t been around long enough to find out how things ran, and decided to take on Jenkins. Stood his ground, not well, but he still did it. When I broke it up, I just sort of ended up as security, and not just over Jane, but over the rest of the Decatur. There was a time in my life when I would have ducked out of the responsibility. It just feels right now, somehow.
Started showing Jenkins a few moves. There’s a gym in the back, down by the engines. I didn’t offer, he came up and asked me. A fast learner, a lot of guts. Surprising, given his size.
Johnson is waking up again. I drop Jane’s hand, and find something to write on. Jane’s waving Frank off. Let Johnson talk for a while. He runs off a list of regular maintenance for the engines. Says to get Jane to do most of it. He’s smiling when he says it.
“Have I pissed you off lately, Johnson?”
She’s laughing with him though. I haven’t heard her laugh in a little while. Probably do her some good. Franks is pressing the issue, telling us both to leave his patient alone.
We stand out in the corridor, listening to the quiet for a while. It seems like forever since it’s been quiet. She’s still smiling. Slip my arm around her waist, her head resting on my shoulder, as I take her down to the engine levels.
The plaque on the side of her door catches my eye, as we pass it, the way it has for the past week now. We had been standing in the supply room, putting together piles of things, for the new people that had come aboard, when I saw the plaques for the doors. She was using an engraver, to make the labels for the doors. Everything in me feeling still for a moment, as I watched her.
When I asked her, she smiled at me. That perfect, beautiful smile, where you can’t help but see HER. She didn’t say anything. I was starting to think she might not have heard me. I hadn’t said it very loud. Maybe part of me worried she’d say no. I spent all my time there anyway, but this was different. Her head dipped back again, with a new plate to engrave.
Adams, Jane. Underneath it…Riddick, Richard
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