saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 2 (Pitch Black/Riddick)
rating/genre: (NC-17) - het, angst, drama
warnings: het, sexual content, adult content, drug use, criminal activity, religious fusion
summary: What if Jack had stayed on New Mecca with Imam? What if Riddick had come back for her? (Riddick/Jack, Imam/OFC)
comments/disclaimers: General disclaimers apply.
As she kneaded bread dough for that evening’s supper, an activity that she normally found soothing, Jack’s thoughts were still plagued by the harsh words she and Imam had exchanged a few days earlier.
“There is my cousin, Jubair,” Sahar piped up speculatively, as she prepared a savory sauce in which to marinate the roast.
Fatima shot them both an evil look, and chopped her vegetables harder. Jack and Sahar had been having a random, running conversation about possible suitors for Jack for what must have seemed like days to Imam’s widowed sister. She had made it clear she thought Jack’s origins as an infidel, who had traveled without a chaperone among strange men, was the root of her problem. Although plainspoken, her object was not to hurt Jack’s feelings, for she loved Jack dearly, but to point out that her current difficulty in choosing a husband was most likely caused by her time out in the universe. Jack was inclined to believe that Fatima might be right.
One of Imam and Fatima’s many nieces, Nahlah, burst unexpectedly into the kitchen. “There’s a strange man asking about you in the marketplace, Akila!” she shouted, gasping for breath.
“Like that doesn’t happen all the time,” Sahar muttered, as she rubbed her pregnancy-sore back, annoyed at the child’s interruption.
“Sahar!” Fatima scolded. “You were like this one not so many years ago. Let the child speak her piece.”
Jack cast a desultory eye on Nahlah, striving valiantly to appear interested, when in truth she was sick to death of the whole suitor business. The little girl’s dark hair was braided back from her flushed face but at ten, she was still young enough that she could go bareheaded in public. Jack often marveled that young boys and girls were free to come and go here until they hit puberty. On the world of her birth, that was an open invitation to sexual predators of all ages.
On New Mecca, sexual abuse of children was almost unheard of. It was a crime so heinous that it was punishable by death without trial, usually inflicted in the most brutal of fashions by the victim’s numerous family members. While Jack was sure pedophiles must exist here, she was equally sure that most of them left the planet for more hospitable hunting grounds as soon as they were able.
Childhood here was the safest, most free time of a person’s life. Jack sometimes wished she had been fortunate enough to have been born here. Not only were children free to roam without a chaperone from the age of five until puberty, both sexes were allowed to roam together. Gaggles of little boys and girls seem to wander in and out of the al-Walid house at will when school was not in session. Provided they were not destructive or violent or disobedient, no one seemed to care what they did among themselves.
Jack was stunned to discover that this sometimes included sex play. In New Meccan culture, the only sexual encounters of import were those that had the possibility of producing children. Prepubescent children could not make babies, so children’s sexual experimentation was considered to be of no consequence.
Surprisingly, neither were sexual relations between same sex partners. Such activity was quite common, even among the married, although it was not discussed openly. As long as it didn’t involve a child or preempt the importance of marriage, everyone turned a blind eye. Jack, who was struggling to find a man interesting enough to marry, found the practice curious but had even less interest in women than in men.
“He was a big, tall man with a beard and dark glasses,” Nahlah related, shaping her hands up in the air to give them an idea of his size.
Again, Sahar was less than impressed. “That would be half the men in the marketplace on any given day.”
“Was he infidel?” Jack inquired, pounding absently on the bread dough beneath her hands.
“He didn’t appear so. He wasn’t pale like you, Akila, and his beard was black.”
“You didn’t hear his name?”
“No,” Nahlah moaned, chagrined, “but he seemed different somehow.”
Jack sighed, stabbing her knuckles down into what was fast becoming the best kneaded bread dough ever. “Doubtless Imam will tell me I’m to see this man next week.”
“I hope so,” the little girl wished, making it clear that something about the stranger had captivated her.
Jack couldn‘t help but smile at her childish infatuation. Nahlah was fast approaching the age of head scarves and chaperones, shortly to be followed by the intricate mating ritual Jack was currently engaged in. While in theory, any girl who had her period could be legally married, in practice this seldom happened before the age of fifteen, often not until the girl had finished basic education classes at seventeen or eighteen. Betrothals at eleven or twelve were common, with a series of courting meetings to ensure compatibility conducted just prior to marriage.
Marriages like Sahar’s, where the wife had barely seen her husband prior to their wedding, were falling out of favor. Jack’s method, however, was even more unusual than Sahar’s and not likely to catch on. She was twenty years old, not betrothed and she, not Imam, was to choose whom she married. The females in her village had watched her progress towards finding a husband closely and determined that, after four years, allowing the woman to choose her husband simply wasn’t viable. They all thought Jack was entirely too picky, having turned away men some of the not as desirable girls would have snatched up in a heartbeat.
“So what about Jubair?” Sahar urged.
“Who’s Jubair?” little Nahlah snorted with distain, her dreamy eyes indicating that her head was still full of the beguiling stranger.
“Nahlah!” Fatima’s voice cracked, heading off a hot retort from Sahar, and waved her hand dismissively. “Off with you now!”
“Brat,” Sahar gritted out under her breath as she rubbed her sore spine again.
Fatima rolled her dark eyes heavenward in mock supplication. “Allah preserve us, that we must endure two more months of your pregnancy! In the future, find a way to avoid my brother and spare us this misery.”
For some reason, the older woman’s exasperation seemed to tickle Sahar, breaking her mood. “Akila, she is suggesting that I sin by failing to carry out my wifely duties,” she smirked. “You heard her. Besides, he would need to avoid me.”
“You don’t always need to find him, Sahar. Your marriage is no longer new. Find yourself a friend.”
“How do you know I don’t already have one?” Sahar replied naughtily, letting her eyes wander over towards Jack.
“In your dreams,” Jack assured her with firm amusement. “Besides, aren’t you my mother?”
The two of them enjoyed a running joke rooted in the fact that legally Sahar was considered Jack’s adoptive mother, even though she was only four years older than Jack.
Her liquid brown eyes sparkled with mirth. “Why must you always remind me of that? Now I must go pray for my depraved soul … but first, about Jubair?”
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