Fry liked New Mecca. The people were welcome and polite as a rule, they didn't ask questions about where she came from or why she lived alone or what was up with her scars. The streets and public areas were clean, the police were nice and aloof as far as she was concerned. She knew the Imam had to be around here somewhere, but she didn't go looking for him and so far he hadn't come looking for her. But the best part about New Mecca was that between the torches and lights in the city and the sun during the day, it was never, ever dark.
"Two whole cartons of pomegranate juice today, Miss Fry? Are you expecting company?" The city was big, but the markets were numerous enough to be small, and she stopped by at least a couple of the shops near her place every few days to pick up something or other. Most of the vendors knew her by sight if not by name.
She smiled a little. "No, Dawud, I'm just stocking up. I hear there's flu season coming, I'd like to be ready for it." The smile soon faded.
"Ah, well, that's true. Better to be prepared than caught without. A-salaam alayki."
Fry bowed her head to the old man. "Wa alayka salaam."
Peace. It had been an odd concept to her before the planet, after the planet it was completely alien. She had to make sure every light in the house was on, every cabinet door open or made of transparent materials. No corners. Nowhere to hide unless you were smaller than something she could hold in both fists. No holes of any kind on the floor, on the walls, where something could get through.
"Hi honey," she said to no one at all. "I'm home."
She didn't drop the cartons of juice, she threw them at the deep, sarcastic voice coming from just past her left shoulder. Threw them and bolted for the door. On the third step she realized the voice was familiar, on the fifth she felt the panic choke her throat because she knew that voice from the planet. Her next step gave her the name, and by the time her right foot hit the tile just in front of the door she knew she should be running faster.
Riddick's meaty arm slammed the door shut and held it there. So she turned and ducked and ran the opposite direction.
He grabbed her. "Thought you'd be happy to see me," he commented, tugging her back against him. She kicked out in front of her, then threw an elbow behind, more flailing than fighting. She'd tried to learn how to fight, but what little she'd absorbed went right out of her head when he grabbed her.
"Let me go!"
He did. She stumbled forward, not expecting that. "I didn't come here to hurt you," he said, and she believed him. Even if she still didn't trust him.
Fry stayed where she was, equidistant between him and the door behind her, breathing hard. Everything sparkled against her eyeballs, she liked the bright but this was too bright, made it hard to see. Anything that wasn't bright was in sharp relief. She thought for one crazy moment of grabbing his goggles and putting them on herself.
"You always keep it this bright in here?" Riddick looked around.
"I like the light," she snapped back.
He grinned at her. Smirked. It was a smirk, that look on his face when he thought he had you all figured out. The sick part was, he usually did. "I bet you do."
She groped around for something to throw at him, but there wasn't much on hand. Nothing that could cast a shadow. She'd spent eight months on a hospital ship when they finally got her out, four for her injuries and the reconstruction, four in intensive therapy. She still had problems with the shadows. "What the hell do you want?"
He spread his hands. "Can't a guy come by to see an old friend?"
"We're not friends, Riddick. We've never been friends." Slowly his hands dropped back to his sides, his expression stiffening from genial to blank. He took a couple steps towards her, she took a couple steps back. "A long time ago, on a crappy, godforsaken planet we survived together. Up until that last moment when you let me go..."
"Hey!" he shouted, and she jumped back. She'd made him angry. "I didn't let you go, they took you."
Fry stiffened. Curled her arms in front of her, like claws, exposing her mangled right arm as her sleeves fell down to her elbows. Riddick stopped advancing on her even as slowly as he was moving, head turning to a different angle. His voice softened to almost a purr. Only man alive she ever knew who could speak like it was a purr.
"They got you good, didn't they."
She realized what he was staring at and lowered her arms again. When he wasn't yelling it was easier not to go all defensive. Tugging her sleeves back down over her arms, she glared at him. "You should know. You were there."
"No," he told her quietly. "I wasn't."
"You should have been."
She took a breath and let it out only after she realized she was holding it, slow but loud. Too loud, she twitched, but the only threat here was Riddick and he was right in front of her. He knew where she was without having to listen for her breathing. "So, what are you doing here?"
"I told you. I just came by to see you."
He smiled. Just a little. "You think I need a reason to do something other than because I felt like it?" And there was the Riddick she knew. The killer. The freak with the shiny eyes, who did what he wanted when he wanted to because he wanted it. No other reason.
"No..." she nodded, slow and careful. "I guess you don't need a reason."
"Glad we agreed on that."
She scowled at him for laughing at her. Arms crossed in front of her chest, long sleeves draping down. Her chin tucked down over her breasts, what was left of them, and she couldn't look at him anymore. He was a part of her past, back when she had fought for something, even if it was just her life and the lives of everyone on the ship. After she'd almost killed everyone on the ship. And then they'd died anyway.
Riddick moved and was right in front of her, no transition, she missed whatever steps he took to get there. Big and hulking and his goggles were dark and right in front of her face, she could see herself reflected in them.
Blackness. The blackness of his goggles and the memories just being around him brought up, a detached part of her that could now cope with every day life wondered why it hadn't happened sooner. He hadn't come that close, sooner, was why. And he caught her as she sank to the floor, sweating and shaking.
Her fingers dug into his bicep. "Riddick." Breathing was a problem. She couldn't breathe, and when she finally managed to inhale a complete breath instead of one of those hyperventilating hiccups she got a good lungful of the sweat fumes coming off of his chest. Not that it smelled bad, but it was intense and smelled like other person and she hadn't lived with anyone in years. "Riddick." Could she only say the one thing? Dammit. Her mind churned fast on top of faster but the panic underneath kept her gulping for air and blubbering and repeating his name.
"I'm right here." He said it once, and then, "Right here." And then he stopped talking.
Fry turned her head and pressed her cheek to his chest hard enough that she could feel the curving upper edge of his shirt against her skin. Her face felt wet and sticky. "I hate the dark," she muttered. Things were coming back now, sounds and smells.
"I know," he chuckled, even though it wasn't funny. "Don't worry, Carolyn. I do real well in the dark."
"That's comforting," she muttered. Because it was.