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Fun and Games ( Till Someone Dies )

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Fun and Games ( Till Someone Dies )

 

“Last chance.” Riddick’s finger hovers. “Get out now or be stuck with me.”

 

Vaako, looking perplexed and mulish at the same time, folds his arms over his chest. “You are the Lord Marshal. You can’t just… leave.”

 

The computer is already running through the small ship’s pre-flight procedure. Riddick growls, “Watch me,” and hits the button that closes the ramp.

 

This isn’t going as planned – he wants some time alone, damn it, with beer, women and cards, maybe a fight or two, definitely some better food than that pig stew Necromongers call a delicacy, which Aereon warned him is just a mixture of bland nutrition pills and some gravy for color. Now he’s got Vaako with him, pacing the length of the ship’s tiny pilot’s cabin and throwing dark glances Riddick’s way while the Basilica opens the hangar doors and lets them out into space.  It’s a short journey. The Necromonger fleet’s hovering in orbit above Funhouse, undisputed ( read: the only ) star of the Gandavia System, a planet so vile it’s left out of most star maps on purpose, which is precisely why Riddick’s going down there.

 

“I want some time alone,” Riddick says, stabbing at various controls. “I don’t need a fucking babysitter.”

 

“The Lord Marshal needs a -”

 

“If you say ‘guard’ now, I’ll cuff you to the venting system and leave the ramp open while I go have some fun,” Riddick threatens, turning to give Vaako an acid glare. “So sit your ass down while you still have one that hasn’t been raped with every object in existence.”

 

Vaako glowers, paces some more, then sits in the co-pilot’s chair. It’s not like Riddick’s leaving him much of a choice: they’re already breaking through orbit and the small ship’s rattling back and forth when they enter Funhouse’s rough atmosphere. Riddick’s been here before, years ago, knows Funhouse as a safe place for anyone who’s got something to hide and everything for those who need something that’s usually hidden. The dregs of society go here when no other place wants to deal with them any longer, have been doing that for as long as Riddick can remember. The planet’s original name has long since been lost and there’s no one down there – or anywhere else, really - who cares to dig it back up. The surface is mostly grey plateaus of worthless rock, dotted with abandoned mining projects here and there; there’s only one city, but it’s large, dirty, and mostly underground, surrounded by giant atmosphere processors that make the air breathable, provided you stay inside the protective force field spanning the width of the city like a shimmering dome of light.

 

Riddick steers the small frigate toward the clearly visible port entry on the west side of the dome, a port where no one asks for your identification or about your cargo, just the way he likes it. As soon as the auto-pilot is engaged and they’re descending toward the badly lit hangar space the port’s piloting system directs them to, he turns in the pilot’s chair and kicks Vaako’s ankle. “Cat got your tongue? C’mon. Tell me how many Necro protocols I’m breaking right now.”

 

“I don’t understand why you are doing this.” Vaako sounds like he’s holding onto his composure by his teeth. “We are following you. We are not taking more converts unless they come willingly. Now you stall us here,” one hand waves at the quickly approaching, steel-dirt-grey hangar, “for no reason I can see, while the army is in cryo-sleep, leaving us potentially at a risk.”

 

“Beer, women, cards,” Riddick says, ticking points off on his fingers. “What’s not to see? Now, let’s make a deal: you stay out of my way and I’m not going to knock you flat on your ass and store you in a dumpster somewhere until I’m ready to leave.”

 

“I’m going to stay at your side.”

 

“No, you’re not.”

 

“Yes,” Vaako says, getting out of the co-pilot’s chair and reaching for the snaps of his body armor, “I am.”

 

They’ve been here before, butting heads, sometimes fists. Vaako’s an obstinate fuck when he wants something and Riddick’s made it a rule to keep him somewhat close to keep an eye on him, after deciding that killing him would be counter-productive. The devil you know is still a devil, but Riddick’s more comfortable around Vaako because he knows him well enough by now to know that the man probably considers it beneath him to resort to conspiracy again, because that worked so well the first time.  

 

Still - beer, cards, women, and Vaako? Riddick doesn’t want that. He wants a day or two away from everything Necro-related; he needs a fucking holiday. “If you get your ass killed down here, it’s on your head. I’m going to have some fun.”

 

Vaako’s peeling the heavy armor off one piece at a time, until he’s down to form-fitting pants and tunic and heavy boots, all in black. “I look forward to finding out what counts for ‘fun’ in your world.”

 

If he’d be laying the sarcasm on any thicker, Riddick’s pretty sure they’d both be slipping on it.

 

*****

 

Funhouse’s capital and only city is called Haven. It’s everything but. The more well-to-dos live in the towers and domes that spike the vast plateau the city sits on, the buildings connected by aerial walkways, the tallest spires just barely below the force field. Riddick doesn’t care for this area or the black-clad security guards patrolling the walkways and brightly lit plazas. Some of the more well-connected and ambitious mercenaries live here, and he may be the new Lord Marshal of the Necromongers, but he’s also still a wanted criminal on some planets, and mercenaries have phenomenal memory. The massive Necro fleet in orbit hasn’t impressed anyone here enough to even contact the Basilica, which just goes to show how little the planet’s inhabitants think about the rest of the universe.

 

Down is where they go, Vaako looking suspiciously at everything while they ride a large elevator together with a gaggle of tired-looking women, all of whom are armed to the teeth. Listening with half an ear to the murmur of conversation, Riddick inhales deeply, smiling: cigarette smoke, dirt, sweat, oil. Not the most pleasant mix of scents, but after weeks and weeks of aimlessly wandering the Basilica’s clinically clean halls, he wants to roll in the smells that unfold before his nose.

 

Haven’s underground city is three miles deep and about a mile across, built like a hollow stack of pancakes layered on top of each other, glued together by tunnels, elevators and stairwells. Between those tunnels, elevators and stairwells: living quarters, shops, brothels, slums, bars, and the crème de la crème of every upstanding citizen’s worst nightmares on two legs. It’s a labyrinth; Riddick loves labyrinths because there are so many nooks and crannies to hide in, lure unsuspecting prey into.

 

Screams greet them when the elevator grinds to a halt, Vaako tensing up next to Riddick, the women Riddick’s learned by now belong to a freighter crew giving him amused glances while they file out one after the other, only Riddick and Vaako remaining.

 

Riddick looks him over, shaking his head. That half-Mohawk of his looks normal enough for a place like Haven, but the rest of him… Riddick shoves his hands into the pockets of his well-worn, comfortable cargo pants. Even with just the garment usually worn beneath Necro body armor, Vaako looks like a noble, too clean for a place like this. There’s fucking embroidery at his collar and sleeves. “You’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Someone’s going to want to fuck you or kill you before the hour is over. Maybe both.”

 

Vaako straightens, nostrils flaring. “I can take care of myself.”

 

Snorting, Riddick gets them going.

 

Places like New Mecca tend to give Riddick the creeps, because they’re too peaceful, too nice. Haven is just up his alley: shifty-eyed individuals loiter on the criss-crossing walkways, in the corners, on the doorsteps. Everyone’s armed and no one’s hiding it; they’ve been walking for five minutes when they come across the first corpse, carelessly covered with a bloodstained jacket. A bored-looking guard of some kind leans against the metal wall next to the corpse, smoking a cigarette while he waits for whatever, mumbling into a portable communicator. Two walkways further, a deal of some sort is going on in not-so-broad ‘daylight’, a heavily tattooed woman, her skull as naked as Riddick’s, haggling with a fat guy in an ill-fitting suit. That sight makes him think of Kyra, but that’s a depressing thought, so he shoves it to the backburner for another time. He’s over Kyra’s death, mostly, but doesn’t like to think about it.

 

Of all the things he ever began, ever set in motion, Kyra’s death is the one he regrets. Her, and Fry, and maybe Hades is a good place to go next, just for the hell of it. Just because he’s had the Icons withdrawn from Hellion Prime doesn’t mean Riddick isn’t fascinated by the machinations of such a world-spanning weapon.

 

Riddick ignores the beggars and pickpockets and bodies for rent, following his nose, pushing his way through the crowd until he sees the cluster of doors and chooses one at random.

 

Inside, it’s as noisy and smoky and unsteadily lit as outside on the walkways. Nobody pays him any attention. Riddick doesn’t stand out here, not even with his eyes hidden behind their protective goggles and the obvious knife sheaths strapped to his forearms. The place is nothing more than a tiny hole in the wall, a rough-looking crowd milling about with bottles in their hands, some of them playing pool in a corner. Riddick gets a bottle of his own, drains it while he’s standing at the bar, orders another, and retreats to a corner table, shoving the straggle-haired individual snoring with his head on the table off the chair so he has a place to sit with a wall at his back. A cursory examination of those present reveal no familiar faces.  

 

Half the bottle gone, he realizes he’s alone, Vaako nowhere in sight. Fuck.

 

Riddick sucks on his beer, thinking dark thoughts, half of them about how he’s going to shove Vaako’s head up his ass post-post-mortem if the stupid First Among Commanders actually gets himself killed down here. It’s not like Riddick needs Vaako for anything, most of the time. When they’re not invading some planet or other, the Necros are a surprisingly mellow bunch, content to wax poetic about The Faith and how they’re going To The UnderVerse; Riddick sniffed out the more bloodthirsty ones with Aereon’s help and took care of them. With three quarters of the military in cryo-sleep and a direct order to stop the planet-invading-bullshit, Vaako’s position’s been reduced to following Riddick wherever he goes and being a general pain in the ass with all his Necromongers This and Faith That.

 

Not much to do for a military commander when the fleet’s not doing anything military-related, but, damn it, he’s Riddick’s military commander, Riddick’s pain in the ass, and Riddick’s going to skin the asshole who tries to put Vaako through the ringer. As far as Riddick’s concerned, that’s his job.

 

He gets a third bottle of beer and goes looking for Vaako, finding him just outside, ringed by three assholes. Vaako’s back’s to the wall, there’s the general sneering and jeering and intimidating going on, complete with jokes about your mother and the flexing of bulging muscles. Curious, Riddick leans against a support pillar, sipping his third beer. Usually, when his back is to the wall, the other guy(s) are about to find themselves in a world of pain. “Need any help?”

 

“That your boytoy?” Asshole #1 shows yellow teeth in Riddick’s direction. “Shouldn’t leave your stuff unattended.”

 

“Yeah,” Asshole #2 pipes up. “Our boytoy now, so piss off.”

 

Asshole #3 gets his arm broken in two places, according to the number of snaps Riddick hears, when he reaches for Vaako, and the fight’s on. Riddick doesn’t move an inch from his comfortable lean, sucking beer, thinking that maybe having Vaako down here’s going to be bad for a completely different reason: he’s not just going to kill all of Riddick’s fun, he’s also going to hog all the fighting. In less than fifteen seconds, the three men are on the floor in various stages of broken. Vaako whips his braids back over his shoulder, stepping on a twitching hand and grinding his heel down, and assumes his usual soldier’s position at Riddick’s side, hands clasped at the small of his back. He’s not even breathing hard.

 

“Told you.” Riddick bounces his empty bottle off of the head of Asshole #1 when the man tries to get back up. “I don’t have a watch, but I’m pretty sure we’ve been here less than an hour.”

 

Vaako just glowers at him, so Riddick rolls his eyes and goes back into the bar to have another beer.

 

*****

 

Three beers later, they’re on their way to the sixth level, where the gambling is, when the fat suit and the tattooed woman join them in the elevator. Riddick’s pleasantly buzzed but far from drunk, munching on some kind of meat-bread concoction, beer number seven in the crook of his arm. Fat Suit doesn’t look at him or Vaako twice, hugging a metal cylinder to his chest, triple-chins quivering with each labored breath. Tattooed Woman gives Vaako an once-over, dismisses him from her attention, and lifts an appreciative eyebrow at Riddick. “Hey, handsome.”

 

He licks mustard off his lips, giving her an eyebrow lift in return. She’s almost as tall as him, arms, shoulders and neck covered in elaborate tribal tattoos, shaved skull glinting with sweat. Not beautiful – not even pretty, scars on her face, arms and hands and something reptilian, motionless in her expression – but intriguing enough, the glint of interest in her eyes unmistakable. “Hey yourself.”

 

“Haven’t seen you here before.”

 

“It’s been a few years.” As far as pickup lines go, he’s heard worse. Riddick finishes his meal, takes a sip of beer. What the hell – why not? He’s here to have fun, isn’t he? He can’t even remember the last time someone wanted something from him and didn’t demand a pound of flesh in payment. “Got a name?”

 

“Selah.” Ignoring Fat Suit’s renewed chin wobbling, which with some imagination might actually be words, Selah deliberately moves into Riddick’s space. “Got a place?”

 

“You don’t waste time, do you?” He likes that.

 

She shrugs. “I’m a busy woman.” Her gaze drifts to Vaako again, who’s staring at Selah as though he wants her to spontaneously combust. “Your… friend?”

 

Riddick tries to come up with an appropriate word, and fails. Not friends. Not partners. Not colleagues. Riddick doesn’t have any friends, only acquaintances who tend to die around him, and the Necromonger hierarchy doesn’t encourage superfluous bonds beyond that entire wife/husband/companion deal that still doesn’t make any great sense to Riddick. “Ignore him.”

 

Selah shrugs again. “I got a place. Your Ignore Him can stand watch, if you like.”

 

Selah’s place is a tiny room-for-rent at the back end of the sixth level, above a gambling den. Fat Suit takes off as soon as the elevator stops, cylinder hugged like a baby. Vaako follows Riddick and Selah two discreet steps behind; Riddick forgets about him as soon as Selah closes the door and takes her shirt off. Not pretty, more scars, some really ugly ones on her belly and back, but damn, he hasn’t had any in so long it stops to matter the moment he gets his hands on her tits and Selah gets her hands down his pants. She doesn’t ask his name and he doesn’t ask about birth control. They fuck on her ratty, rickety bed, hard and fast; he can’t last long, takes care of her with fingers and tongue, gets her off, and then fucks her again, longer, when they’re in the shower.

 

Afterwards, Selah dragging her clothes back on and Riddick wallowing in the afterglow, she grins at him. “You got a real thing for the animal stuff, eh?”

 

He bit her, both the first time on the bed and again in the shower, leaving tooth marks on the back of her neck. “Got a problem with that?”

 

“Nah.” Selah buckles her belt. “It’s just not something you find every day, is all.”

 

Reluctantly, Riddick pulls his boots on. He hasn’t had sex in so long – five, six years, not counting his own hand – and even just smelling their combined musk in the tiny room, on the holey sheets, makes him want to fuck her all over again just because she’s here. Selah doesn’t look anything like Kyra; Kyra’s hair had been long and curly, her face completely different, her body more slender. If anything, Selah looks like what Riddick’s always imagined a grown-up Jack would look like, shaved skull and all, maybe not so many tattoos, maybe a lot more. So, yeah, the implications aren’t completely lost on him, but he refuses to think about it and continues putting his clothes back on.

 

Outside, Selah disappears into the crowd. Vaako’s standing there looking like he’s eaten a lemon. Riddick isn’t in the mood for any bullshit, snaps, “Shut the fuck up. I don’t want to hear about it,” and stalks off in the search for more beer and a card game, determined to cling to the pleasant afterglow of a nice, carefree fuck.

 

*****

 

He’s hallways through his first, decent card game in ages when a detonation shakes the metal walls of the gambling den. A piece of the ceiling comes down and crushes the head of one of Riddick’s gambling partners, flattening the woman where she sits. For a second or two, silence reigns, then pandemonium breaks loose: chairs and tables are toppled over, glass shatters on the ground, people are piling up in front of the door, trying to get out. Riddick instinctively knows this is bad and snags Vaako by the arm, heading for the back exit he took note of when he walked in. Klaxons are going off now, but their shrill wailing is quickly drowned out by the first screams.

 

“What -” Vaako asks, clearly bewildered.

 

“Shut up,” Riddick says, shoving him through the back exit. “Someone just blew something up and we’re getting the hell out of here.”

 

“But -”

 

Another detonation shakes the ground beneath their feet. Above them, the ceiling suddenly groans and metal grinds against metal. “Move your ass!”

 

The entire sixth level of Haven is in chaos. Riddick can’t smell any smoke or see any fire or electrical sparks yet; he thinks that the detonation took place on the level above them, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone on the sixth level is trying to get to the stairs and elevators, shoving, struggling and trampling those who fall. In less than a minute, a complete panic breaks out. Gunshots ring out over the din of shouts and screams, then there are more shouts and screams, blood beginning to make the floor slippery.

 

Vaako slips, is nearly barreled over, one hand fumbling for something under his tunic. Cursing, Riddick shoves a few people out of the way and lunges. He gets a hand around Vaako’s arm again, then loses the grip when a third detonation puts a large, visible dent in the ceiling of the sixth level and the lights go out.

 

Hell breaks loose.

 

Riddick shoves his goggles off, stuffs them in a pocket. Whatever the fuck is happening on the fifth level, he wants no part of it – this was supposed to be fun, fuck it, not a rehash of Run For Your Life. Keeping close to the walls to avoid being dragged into the raving crowd, ears ringing with screams, nose twitching from the acid stench of something electrical burning now, he inches toward a cluster of support beams. He can climb those, reach one of the upper stairwells that isn’t completely stuffed with bodies, find a way from there on up to the fifth, then the fourth level and a hopefully still working elevator to the surface.

 

Someone throws themselves at his back. Riddick reacts without thinking, gets a hand around their throat, ready to kill. He recognizes Vaako, eases up on his grip, and shoves him at the support beams. “Start climbing.”

 

“I have -”

 

“Move!” Riddick snaps, grabbing for the nearest handhold.

 

It’s easy for him, climbing in the dark, but Vaako loses his hold twice, both times rescued only by a fast grab on Riddick’s part. Then the emergency lights come on and Riddick nearly falls, blinded, hot pokers of pain stabbing at his eyes. It’s Vaako who rescues him, grabbing for him with both hands – one of which is slick with blood. Riddick fumbles for his goggles, gets them on, blinking through watering eyes. Directly above them is the floor of the stairwell. Vaako pulls himself up, staggers against the railing, clutching at it.  His other hand is pressed against his side, dark blood trickling out between his fingers.

 

“Stray gunshot,” Vaako grinds out after Riddick swings himself onto the stairwell and lifts an inquisitive eyebrow.

 

“One speed,” Riddick warns him, “my speed,” and heads for the stairwell exit to the fifth level.

 

He’s a little surprised to see that the fifth level is almost devoid of people, compared to the raving horde on the sixth, and soon realizes why. The large numbers of corpses shoved carelessly out of the way, against the walls, tell their own story, but Riddick’s a lot more interested in the tight cluster of still standing bodies ringing the entrance to one of the brothels. Guards are stationed at each exit and entry point of the level – not the uniformly-clad guards Riddick’s seen before.

 

Vaako, white as milk, stumbles against Riddick’s side with a small gasp.

 

The motion draws enough attention for several high-powered rifles to be trained on Riddick and Vaako a second later.

 

“Your Ignore Him appears to be wounded.” Selah, carrying a rifle slung into a crook of her arm, slowly walks toward Riddick. Riddick recognizes some of the rifle-bearers as the women who rode the elevator with him and Vaako when they arrived, and then realizes that all of them, down to the last one, bear some sort of tribal tattoo on their upper body. Selah’s tattooed the most – status symbols? He’s pretty sure they’re not just idle decoration. She comes to a halt in front of Riddick, tilts her head at him. “Don’t get in the way.”

 

The brothel doors are open. Riddick sees Fat Suit talking to someone inside. Then, children walk out of the building, five, six years old at most, one after the other, clad in little more than flimsy parodies of clothes. They keep their heads down, too subdued and scared to recognize what Riddick sees this is, now: a rescue mission.

 

“Don’t get in the way,” Selah warns him again.

 

Riddick lifts his shoulders in a slow shrug. “Not my fight.” Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees how one of the women, with great care, places something at the foot of a support beam, hands flying over a small array of buttons. It looks familiar – it’s the, or one of the, metal cylinders he saw Fat Suit carrying off into the crowd earlier. Riddick nods at one of the elevators to the upper levels. “But I’d like to get off this rock before you blow it all up.”

 

“Why should I let you go? You’re here.”

 

“Yeah, and I fucked you, not them. I don’t live here. I just wanted a beer, a card game, and sex. I got all three. Now I’d like to leave.”

 

Some of the children are beginning to cry. They’re all of them tattooed as well, not as extensively or visibly as the adult women, but those clothes don’t hide anything. Selah steps backward, rifle trained on Riddick and Vaako. “He’s bleeding to death.”

 

“Nah.” Riddick looks Vaako over. Fuck. Not looking good. There’s a small puddle of blood growing slowly under Vaako’s left foot. “Not if you let us go.”

 

Fat Suit’s chins wobble. Selah shakes her head, takes another step back. “Go.” She glances at the crying children, face twisting with rage, and adds, “Fast.”

 

Ignoring the rifles still aimed in their direction, Riddick bends, tips Vaako over his shoulder, and lifts him up, slinging an arm around the backs of his knees. A minute later, they’re riding the elevator up to the surface. Vaako’s muttering – and bleeding copiously all over Riddick – and complaining, wanting down, but Riddick snarls at him to shut the fuck up, they don’t have much time. At the surface exit, more tattooed women – an entire fucking army of women - are blithely shooting holes into surprised-looking security guards who come running out of their hidey-holes; Riddick ducks into the shadows as fast as he can, heads away from the staccato sounds of energy beams hitting flesh, and jogs quickly across the hangar to the small Necro ship.

 

Vaako’s gruff complaint, when Riddick flings him into the co-pilot’s chair, is very loud in the sudden silence inside the ship. “Shut up. Be glad you’re still alive.” He foregoes pre-flight checks in favor of a fast take-off, eyes glued to the sight of the army of women on the ground swarming out in every direction now like crazed ants, the lightning-quick pulses of shots. “Fuck. Of all the places -”

 

 Vaako levers himself half out of the chair, and Riddick sees the punch coming but is, somehow, too stupefied to do anything to stop it. Vaako’s fist leaves a smear of blood across Riddick’s cheek; the punch is weak compared to what Riddick knows Vaako can usually dish out. “What the fuck?” He has Vaako by the front of his tunic and the edge of a shiv pressed against Vaako’s throat. “I just saved your ass, you stupid Necro -”

 

“If sex is what you wanted -” Vaako’s glare is feverish and unfocused. “I would gladly -”

 

Riddick blinks. And blinks again, Vaako’s lemon-face and hateful stare making sudden, surprising sense.

 

Knees buckling, Vaako goes limp in Riddick’s grasp.

 

*****

 

Back aboard the Basilica, Vaako delivered to the care of the medics, Riddick orders the fleet’s withdrawal from Funhouse’s orbit, because, well, boom. Half an hour passes before the clearly visible dome of light spanning Haven’s topside structure flickers and goes out, followed by a number of smallish explosions in the dark. Three sleek ships break through the planet’s orbit, immediately engage ion drives, and are gone from the surveillance screens before the Necro tacticians can determine their origin.

 

Riddick watches a quarter of Funhouse explode from a safe distance, and thinks that he’ll have to contact Aereon, tell her that no, it wasn’t the Necros who did that.

 

Then he paces his chambers for far too long. Vaako would gladly, and doesn’t that put a spin on things he hasn’t considered before? Fuck, but the man has the mother of all poker faces: Riddick’s usually pretty good at reading people, but he got nothing from Vaako all these weeks. At least, not that.

 

‘Must be losing my touch,’ he thinks.

 

Because really, Vaako? Every time they spend more than five minutes in each other’s company, Riddick gets the feeling that Vaako’d like nothing more than to run off and take a shower, because Riddick has breeder cooties or some such shit. They can’t have a single conversation without Riddick taking potshots at the Necromonger’s crackpot ‘religion’; the entire deal sounds too much like a simple justification for the invasion of other worlds. I don’t like your god/creed/king, so I’m gonna flatten your world, and by the way, I’m taking all that’s yours, too.

 

It’s not like it’s the first time that greed comes in the guise of religious fanaticism.

 

Riddick paces some more.

 

The society Necros would have collective hernias. The First Among Commanders having the hots for a mere breeder whose rise to power, even several weeks after the fact, still is cause of disputes between the various Necro factions?

 

Dame Vaako would throw a massive fit. For all her sultry glances and capricious behavior, she’s fiercely possessive of Vaako, though she doesn’t seem to share his depth of belief. She’s more interested in power than faith, clawing her way to the top through conspiracy and guise. A fine woman – but Riddick’d rather amputate his own cock than touch her. He knows a predator when he sees one, has seen enough of how she behaves around her husband to know that she’s got a firm grip on Vaako but an even firmer grip on herself.

 

Vaako would gladly.

 

Riddick lets that thought percolate, chuckles, and contacts the medics. “How’s my First doing?”

 

“We have cleaned the wound and regenerated the lost skin, Lord Marshal. No vital organs were hit, but the blood loss was considerable. Commander Vaako has been sedated to aid the healing process.”

 

“When’s he gonna be back on his feet?”

 

“In two days, I should think.” The medic tries to look suitably submissive, but only succeeds in looking pissed off. “Lord Marshal, we can wake him up, but too much strenuous activity now would only -”

 

Riddick just grins. “Keep your pants on. I want him alive and whole.”

 

*****

 

On the evening of the second day, Vaako walks into Riddick’s chambers unannounced. He’s still a little pale, Riddick can tell, but he’s moving with surety, dark eyes glowing with their usual mix of suspicion and what Riddick always thinks is barely concealed anger, like Vaako’s boiling on the inside. “Nearly dying is your idea of fun?”

 

“Nearly doesn’t count.” Riddick gets up from the comfortable chair he’s been lounging in while reading through Aereon’s highly amusing response to his informative ‘report’ on the demise of Gandavia’s Funhouse. Nobody gives a damn about that dirt hole, and while he’s at it and because trouble walks in his shadow, here is a list of planets that could use some cleaning, too, please and thank you. He’ll never really understand Aereon or all her bullshit about ‘balance’. The way he sees it, if he started using the Necromonger fleet to wipe out every bad place in the universe and heavily tipped the scales in the favor of ‘good’ this way, she’d cheer and applaud.

 

Vaako glares at him and says nothing, looking like he’s trying to decide between throwing another punch at Riddick and walking back out.

 

Riddick crosses the room and puts his hands on Vaako’s waist, slides his fingers under the bottom edge of the tunic in search of skin. If any walking is going to happen, it’s going to be a walk in the direction of the bedroom. “So you’d gladly, hm?”

 

Vaako looks away, jaw set. “Arrogant.”

 

The tunic peels off easily. Riddick looks down, but there’s no evidence of a wound anymore, just a patch of skin roughly the size of his palm that feels warmer than the rest of Vaako’s hip on that side. He leans in, sniffs down the side of Vaako’s neck into the ‘V’ of his collar bones, getting an idea of what Necros – this particular Necro, at least – smell like. Nothing like that half-dead bullshit they proclaim themselves to be, that’s for sure. Not like Dame Vaako, either, though he can detect a trace of her perfume and immediately decides to replace it with something else. Clean skin, a hint of musk, and Vaako makes a low sound in the back of his throat when Riddick sucks on the side of his neck, just below the Purification scar.

 

Riddick pulls away. “Arrogant?”

 

“You. Confusing,” Vaako admits, and then his breath hitches because Riddick’s playing with his nipples, getting them to sit up and pay attention. “I shouldn’t. But.”

 

“Let’s make a deal,” Riddick offers, dipping his head down to lick at one nipple while he’s twisting and pinching the other. When his head comes back up, Vaako’s hands are on his shoulders, fingers digging in, eyes a little unfocused. Oh, fuck yeah. “I’m going to fuck you.” He leans down again, sucks on the other nipple. “Then I’m going to fuck you again.”

 

“How is that a deal?”

 

“It’s because I say so. Lord Marshal, remember?”

 

“Arrogant,” Vaako repeats.

 

“You want me.”

 

“I -”

 

Riddick clamps an arm around Vaako’s waist and drags him off toward the bedroom. Enough talk – Vaako will figure it out by himself or not, but Riddick wants to fuck him now. He’s been thinking about it for two days, mostly with his cock, but still, thinking about it, and if Selah rekindled his sex drive, then he’s going to drown it in Vaako’s ass until neither of them can walk straight anymore. As far as he’s concerned, sex is like fighting: clears the mind, relaxes the muscles if you don’t die, leaves a nice afterglow.

 

Maybe a good, hard fuck will dislodge that stick from Vaako’s ass, too. Worth a try. It’s not like Riddick’s got anything to lose.

 

Vaako puts up a perfunctory fight that frustrates Riddick almost as much as it turns him on. He pushes him down on the bed, rolls him over, and plants a hand in the middle of his back while he shoves Vaako’s pants down and fumbles his own open. “One speed,” Riddick warns him, sucking on a finger, seeking between the cheeks of Vaako’s ass, pushing inside slowly. “Fuck, you’re tight.”

 

Oil from a small bottle makes everything slick and smooth and ready for more, Vaako’s hips bucking when Riddick finds his sweet spot. Vaako bucks some more, harder, when Riddick snubs the head of his cock in, the immediate, tight, hot pressure going straight to that place under his balls, a sweet clench. He lifts Vaako’s hips off the bed, slides into him, then fucks him slow and hard, then hard and fast, teeth gripping the back of Vaako’s neck while Riddick pounds into him with abandon. He comes hard, cursing under his breath, then pulls out and collapses at Vaako’s side with a sigh.

 

The expression on Vaako’s face is a mix between turned on and pissed off. “That wasn’t -”

 

Riddick pulls him closer, rolls them over so he’s on top and Vaako on his back. He rubs his still softening cock all over Vaako’s belly, smearing come and oil into his skin. “Just taking the edge off.” He peels Vaako’s pants the rest of the way off, yanks off his boots and socks, then hikes his legs apart. Naked looks a whole lot better on Vaako than that bulky, pretentious body armor he’s usually strutting around in. “Now shut up. Busy.”

 

Two fingers pressing and rubbing inside and a hand on his cock turn Vaako into a writhing, sweaty mess. It’s gratifying and sexy as hell and Riddick’s getting hard again just listening and smelling. He pulls off and out before Vaako comes, leaving Vaako’s cock hard against his belly, his hole seeping come, and catches Vaako’s hands when they reach down, pressing them firmly against the bed.

 

“One speed,” he says again, leaving no room for discussion. “You want to come?”

 

Vaako grates out, “Yes.”

 

Riddick lets go of one hand and slides two fingers back into him, watching Vaako’s cock bounce, Vaako’s hands claw into the sheets. “Gladly?” He can feel Vaako’s sweet spot against his fingertips, crawls them over it, making Vaako’s hips dance for him. “Vaako.”

 

“Yes!” Vaako shouts, and comes all over his belly.

 

Riddick leans over him, fingers still moving gently, and sucks on a nipple until Vaako tries to buck him off. Necromongers don’t feel pain the usual way, but apparently, there is such a thing as ‘too much’. Go figure. He slides his fingers out, cupping Vaako’s softening cock in a possessive grip, and leans up on one elbow. Vaako looks more conflicted than ever, but he’s also subtly lifting his hips, pressing into Riddick’s hand.

 

Interesting.

 

Strike that.

 

One hell of a turn-on.

 

Better.

 

Vaako stops when he notices Riddick noticed, going still. “I don’t – I shouldn’t -”

 

Riddick takes pity on him. He’s not one for mercy, but if anyone ever showed their belly to him in a sweeter way, he can’t remember it. Whatever conflict Vaako’s going through, Riddick can’t and doesn’t want to help him with it, but he figures he can at least tip the odds in his favor, a little, because this? He definitely wants to do this again. And besides? He can’t wait to see the look on Dame Vaako’s face when she cottons on to the fact that someone she considers in her possession is now firmly in Riddick’s, according to the evidence at hand.

 

She’ll find out soon enough that ‘shared custody’ isn’t an option.

 

Riddick lowers his mouth to Vaako’s face and traces the edge of his jaw with the tip of his tongue. “What do you want?” He pauses when he feels fingers against his skull, on the back of his neck, and reminds himself that Vaako isn’t some kind of prison bitch, that Riddick can allow these touches without appearing weak to anyone. “Tell me.”

 

It takes a moment, but Vaako says, “No strings attached.” He traces the outer shell of Riddick’s ear, then drops his hands. “I will not be manipulated again.”

 

Riddick drags a finger up and down the underside of Vaako’s cock, considering. “Done.” Manipulation isn’t his style, anyway. “Anything else?”

 

“No. Yes.” Slowly, Vaako lifts a hand, tracing a fingertip down the middle of Riddick’s body, kneading at his hip. “Again?”

 

No way will Riddick say no to that.

 

*****

 

END