It’s the last place I expected to find you. Stand back, in the entrance to the cockpit, and watch you. Curled up, with your arms around your knees, wrapped in a blanket, in the pilots chair. Your head rests back, toes sticking out. Eyes closed. I smell fear on you, but it’s not as bad.
I bring you coffee, black, the way you like it. Can’t help but notice that you’re still naked under there. Your clothes won’t be dry for a while.
“I thought this scared you Ava”
“It does, but I’m going to do it anyway.” you smile softly, your eyes still closed, “sometimes it’s the stuff that makes you most afraid that you have to deal with.”
“Open your eyes”
You swallow hard, visibly tighten, but do what I ask. We’re at the tail end of the Lupus system, no huge planets to pull at the ship with their gravity. The sky is full of stars. You tremble, a little, and pull the blanket closer. I wait until you’re still again.
Might as well get it out in the open, while we’re dealing with fears.
“Where do you want to go Ava?”
I dread having said it, the moment it’s out there, but it’s too late to take it back now. We need to make landfall sometime soon, for supplies, and fuel, and I’d rather know now if I’m going to lose you.
“I don’t really know. The agency I worked for is gone. McDermott is dead. I’m not being blackmailed anymore. For the first time in my life, I feel free. I don’t know that I want to ‘go’ anywhere at all.”
You move behind me, almost possessive.Your hand traces a lazy circle at the back of my ear.
“Stay with me”.
It wasn’t a question, or at least it wasn’t spoken as a question. I look at your face, and know that it is. Seems that question has been looming between us forever.
“I’ll stay, if you’ll have me.”
Your hand on my jaw, a caress. I reach forward, to what’s been sitting on the floor in front of me. The bag, filled with the contents of McDermott’s safe. I pull out two files. There is one for each. They’re both originals. My predecessor had given McDermott mine. McDermott secured the other, through his political contacts, after the death of his brother, who you killed.
“In a way, you’re free too, Riddick. This is an original. Oh, I’m sure that there are people who still know you, and will continue to hunt you, but this,” I hand you the file, “may buy you a little time.”
I hand you my file, as well.
“I’d like you to read it, Riddick. You may not want to stay with me afterwards, but you deserve to know. Afterall, I read yours.”
I hand you the bag as well, with the rest of the contents of McDermott’s safe. A quick look inside, a substantial amount of cash, McDermott was political, afterall, with all the dirty dealing that involves, and you put the bag and your own file down.
I curl back up in the chair, leaning back, looking at the stars, and listen as you read the file of Ava Black, 27, assassin since the age of nine.