saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 6 (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.
Jack could not remember ever having been as mad as she became while she waited for Riddick to be gone, so she could accost her vile excuse for a father. The more she thought about it, the more she was convinced that Imam knew more than he had let on. Once Sahar left to check on the baby, she pounded the hall with angry feet, mind brewing all kinds of vitriol that boiled and bubbled against the inside of her skull. She paced until the moment she heard the telltale scrape of the sitting room door. Ducking out of sight, she peered surreptitiously at Riddick’s broad back as he retreated down the hall.
“How long have you known?” she roared at Imam, rushing back into the sitting room as soon as she was sure Riddick was out of earshot.
He met her onslaught with his usual calm. “Since he first came on planet, about four months ago. He contacted me and asked to see you. I told him no, that when a man asks to see a single woman here, he is a suitor seeking a wife. I did not want him upsetting you, and I thought that would make him go away. But he proceeded to do something unexpected. He began making a life for himself here. He has purchased land with a fine house on it. He has gone into trading, at which he is quite adept. He has even expressed an interest in receiving instruction towards becoming Chrislam. After he did all that, I could no longer refuse him an audience with you.”
Jack shook her head at the irony. “I had heard tell of an infidel, a Richardson. A man who looks like he belongs here, but who has an off world name. I heard all about how magnetically attractive he is, even though he’s an infidel. All the young women swoon about him; even little Nahlah seems smitten. Yet I never made the connection.”
Imam’s dark eyes were filled with sympathy for his adopted daughter. “How could you, Jack? He left you with me seven years ago. You have heard not a word since. Why would you think to ever see him again? However, he has put me in an unfortunate position with his conversation just now. He said you are not a virgin. Is this true?”
She felt betrayed by the question, as if she had committed a sin about which she had no knowledge. “I thought you knew. I told you all I was dressed as a boy to keep men from messing with me. Why did you think I said that?”
But Imam’s mind had jumped elsewhere. “Did Riddick—“ he ground out in sudden fury.
“No, no!” she quickly reassured him. “It was my father. He started using me before I ran away. I never considered that it might be an issue here. I was an innocent child who had been victimized. There was no question of consent--let alone desire--on my part. For it to be a sin, Baba, wouldn’t I have needed to be willing?”
Imam’s proud face grew sad. “Yes, to my mind, but not all see it that way. It would matter to some of your suitors. And if not to them, then to their families. How did Riddick know?”
“We were talking one night on the skiff when you were sleeping. He got onto slam and how he came to be there. I told him I understood, and he wanted to know how I could, so I told him. I didn’t expect him to use it against me,” Jack explained, a bitter taste in her mouth.
Imam sighed heavily. “Riddick is an infidel. I think he meant only to frighten you with an idle threat. I doubt he realizes that simply by saying what he said in my hearing, the damage is already done.”
“So what I said to Sahar is true. I am damaged goods.”
“You may not be able to marry as well as you once might have,” he was forced to admit in a pained voice.
Jack felt the tears forming against her cheekbones. “Do you think, as Sahar does, that I should give him a chance? Even though he abandoned me for seven years? Even though he just ruined my chances of being able to choose who I would marry?”
Her adopted father looked distinctly unhappy. “You could do worse, habibti. His new identity appears to be airtight; we checked. He has made a lot of money since we parted company, all in legal ventures. We could find no evidence that Mr. Richardson has engaged in any illegal activity, ever.”
“I somehow doubt the man who created his perfect new identity lived to tell the tale,” Jack retorted, rubbing her hands roughly across her eyes, refusing her tears.
“That would be for you to find out. He has spent some of this past seven years furthering his education and knows much about a great many topics. He is smart and well-spoken. And you would make strong, healthy babies between you.”
Jack wanted to sink through the floor at Imam mentioning such a thing aloud. She turned away from him, blushing profusely. As if to magnify her embarrassment, her mind conjured up the fantasies she used to enjoy when she was younger, involving Riddick and that very activity.
“I have mentioned such things to you before, concerning other men, and never have you reacted like this,” Imam noted quietly.
“How do you know he won’t abuse me?” she demanded, ignoring his observation. “When we met, he was an escaped, convicted murderer, after all.”
Vexingly, Imam had a ready answer for even this. “Out of curiosity, I explored Mr. Riddick’s files when we were still on the rescue ship. Contrary to what Mr. Johns told us, I found nothing to indicate that his murders involved innocent victims, except when he was involuntarily employed by the Company. The murder that first put him in prison involved a young man who had violated him. Subsequent to his work for the Company, his victims appear to all be mercenaries. I would assume that, like Mr. Johns, they were after him. There is a story in all this that you will perhaps one day be privileged to hear. However, in his extensive file, there was no mention that he has ever done anything criminal to either women or children.
“Besides that, you were too infatuated with him during the time we spent with him to see what I saw. The only time the man displayed any tenderness or concern was towards you. I sense that in him still. He would rather die than hurt you.”
Jack let her lids drop wearily, suddenly impatient. “So now you’re going to tell me he’s in love with me? You can save your breath. Sahar has already said it. I believe both of you are delusional.”
Imam laughed at her, an affectionate chuckle that told her she was being his Jack again. “Well then, prove it to us.”
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