Docked at a far slip, back at the Midorian. I have to admit, being back here makes me a little nervous. He’s playing with my hair, my ears. Getting ready to leave, but not wanting to leave me just yet. He hasn’t told me what he’s leaving for yet, just asked me to trust him, that he loves me, and that I should trust him. That everything will be all right. It’s the first time he’s said he loves me when he was calm. He tried, and failed, to hide his grin when I answered back.
She’s nervous. Can’t really blame her, it’s not like I told her what I was doing. If she knew who I was meeting, it would upset her. I don’t think she’d think I was handing her over, but she’d still get hurt, one way or another. That, and I don’t know who else he might have brought with him, or why he agreed to the meet in the first place. Need to get a chance to take a look around. I can’t do that if I’m worried about her. No way I’m leaving her on the bay.
We meet up with the Doc on the other side of the bay. Her hand squeezes mine, her steps falter a little, as we approach. Hard to read her eyes, goggles will do that. It’s dark enough, once we get out of the bay, that I can take them off. Her eyes seeking mine.
The doctor is taking my arm and I can’t help but feel helpless again. Riddick’s lips brush over mine, his thumb tracing a lazy path up my jaw to my ear. His voice drops to a whisper, his fingertips tracing the shell of my ear.
“It’s okay. Just dinner, Anise. I’ll be back before you’re done. Trust me.”
The heat of his body, so close to mine. Close my eyes, deep breath for a moment. Look him in the eyes, to let him know I’ll be all right, that I trust him. His hand slips down my back, running over an outline only he can see. The knife tucked, so it won’t show. Just in case.
“I’ll take care of her.”
That low deep growl his only answer. The only one he needs. It’s pretty clear what will happen if the doctor doesn’t take care of me. He radiates a danger that, while it may not be felt by me, is clearly felt by anyone else around him. If something happens to me, Riddick will kill him, that goes without saying.
The doctor holds my arm, making a point of being gentle, as Riddick strides down the hallway, disappearing down one of the corridors. Gone. A small flutter of fear at that. But he will come back for me. I trust that completely.
“You really are quite beautiful dear.”
I almost didn’t hear him, lost in thought, watching a now empty hallway. The doctor is holding my elbow, gently leading me the other way. He’s careful, about how close he gets to me. Talking softly, so as not to startle me. I have to wonder which one of us is the more nervous. I know we’re both nervous for the same reason. Maybe just over the same person, for different reasons.
“Thank you. I….I don’t know where we’re going….?” I’m still not used to other people. Social situations terrify me. Then again, I’ve never really had many, so it’s not surprising. Think of Riddick, and trust. “I’m sorry, I’m a little nervous…”
“Has no one ever taken you to dinner?”
Shake my head no. His voice is so kind. Pats my hand, walking down the corridor. The restaurant is quiet and dimly lit. Like so many places here, it seems. An elderly waiter escorts us to a booth, near the back. There are only a few other diners around us. Hopefully enough that I can follow their lead, and not look too much out of place.
He sits across from me, his elbows resting on the table while he talks to me. Almost non-stop. Conversation, understandably, isn’t my strong point, something he seems to realize, and is more than comfortable to just keep me company. His voice is nowhere near as soothing as Riddick’s, but he is gentle, and kind. Asks me about pain, about my eyes, but asks quickly. Doesn’t want to upset me.
By the time he orders for me, for which I was thankful, I feel completely at ease.
I hate leaving her. The doc isn’t going to hurt her. That gun he was carrying let me know he would take care of her. Doesn’t change the fact that I hate leaving her alone with anyone else. Fuck. I did say this was going to be interesting.
Circle through the back hallways, from Halloran’s ship, out. He has two guys with him. Strange, he never made a point of hiding them. I circle a few times. If he had someone else, I would have seen them. It’s like he wants me to see them. Knew I’d expect to see him bring somebody, even though he was asked to come alone. A show of respect. Interesting.
The two guys are, not surprisingly, armed. Neither one has gone anywhere near their weapons. Both look like they’re more than capable of taking care of themselves. Halloran talks to them for a moment, before walking forward, to where I’m supposed to meet him.
“I know you’re here. You said come alone. I will MEET you alone, at the end of this corridor. Out of range of my men, but not out of their sight. Is that acceptable.”
A man clearly accustomed to giving orders and having them followed. He wasn’t asking me if it was acceptable, as he strides down the hallway. This guy’s old enough to be retired. Something tells me that he’ll live and breathe military until the day they put him in the ground. He stops at the T at the end of the hallway, hands resting behind his back.
Come out of the corridor to his right. He’s heard me, most people wouldn’t. Doesn’t react. Stays perfectly still, his hands lowered now, to where I can see them. I stay within the cover of the T in the corridor, out of sight of the two men he’s brought. Keep alert, on the off chance, very off, that I’ve missed something.
He looks right at me. A small nod. Waves a hand to the two men at the end of the corridor. A signal to stay put. Another small nod of the head, and I back up, with him now in the T of the corridor fully. Completely out of range of his two men. Again, that’s provided those are the only two he’s brought. I believe they are. I don’t make those kinds of mistakes.
“Do you have what I asked for.”
“Is the young girl all right?”
“All of a sudden she’s a ‘young girl’ to you, huh, when did that happen, when she was being tortured, or when you were hunting her so you could have her as some sort of fucking pet?”
He’s handing an envelope to me. His face hard and cold, filled with a barely restrained anger. Not directed at me. If he was afraid of me, or that pissed at me, he could easily have stayed within sight of the two he brought with him. His anger is not about me at all.
“I had nothing to do with Brightman’s……interests.”
This last is spit out, the disgust in his voice evident. His eyes narrowed, a violence in the tone that has me curious, it not being directed at me.
“So you knew what he was.”
“No! There’s no way I could have known. If I had…..if i had.”
His hand waves at me, before pulling back over his close cropped grey hair. I get the feeling that if he had known, maybe Anise wouldn’t have been the one to kill Brightman. He would have done it himself.
I wait. He has the look of a man desperate to explain, even if he doesn’t like what he’s explaining, or that he has to. Tap the envelope on my thigh to bring his attention back. He looks at it, at me, sighs, and begins.
“Nobody knew about her. Served with Brightman for years. He never let a thing slip about it. Not once. I didn’t find out until after I had sent the mercs for her. All I knew about it was that a woman from the house hunted him down in the middle of the night, and ripped his throat out. Butchered him.”
“You’re not planning on sending any more after her.”
He’s slowly pacing back and forth in the T of the corridor, lost in the explanation. He looks at me, almost like he’s forgotten I’m there.
“No one else will be coming after her, no. Shortly after I sent them to find her, I found Brightman’s cache of….vids. I found the room he kept her in. If I had known what he was, what he’d done, I would have killed him myself. To keep a girl like that. No, if I had known, I would have killed him.”
He leans against the wall of the corridor, all of the will gone out of him.
“I can’t change what’s happened, what’s been done to her. Brightman had a hell of a lot of money. It doesn’t make up for it. Not for any of it. But I’m not Brightman. I would never have done this. Never.”
His voice drops. Shame. He’s ashamed just to have known him.
“Anise Jayne isn’t on any database anywhere. She doesn’t exist. She’s free to be anything she wants now. She’s….she’s still a young girl though. She’s been…..hurt. Someone should be taking care of her. Protecting her. There’s a credit chip in the envelope. It can’t begin to cover what’s been done to her, but if it helps take care of her…..I need to know that she’s okay, that she’ll BE okay.”
“She’s stronger than Brightman could have imagined. There’s nothing weak about her at all. And yea, I’ll take care of her, but I would have done it anyway. I even think that anyone’s coming after her, and I’ll let her take care of you herself.”
That same small nod. He’s not threatened, not in the least. We both back up, separating. He turns, before he gets to the corridor.
“Tell her I’m sorry.”
“Would you listen, after all that?”
“No. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m sorry it happened. If you need anything, you know how to contact me.”
© 30 Jan 2006, 12:54