saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 10 (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.
The early morning sun in Imam’s garden was so bright that it hurt Jack’s eyes. She forced herself to squint across the lush greenery and out into the desert anyway. The sand sparkled so powerfully under the assault of the sun that she felt it had nearly enough force to cut her eyes. The shocking clear blue of the sky above it only added to the pain. She had to look away after a moment.
Riddick would willingly live here, with his prison shine, for me, she marveled.
Jack felt as if her entire world had been turned upside down in the past week. Part of her wanted so badly to pinch her arm and wake up. She wasn’t sure yet if she was having a dream, or a nightmare, but all of her had to know which it was before she would consent to stopping it.
“There you are,” Sahar greeted, baby at her breast. “Suleiman said you were out here.”
She plunked down on the bench next to Jack. They had discovered, once Sahar was well enough to get up and move around on her own, that little Ali had one saving grace. Sahar could feed him in any position, doing anything. She could even walk nursing him. Nothing would interrupt his complete and total devotion to nutrition, with the exception of his daily bout with colic.
“I should be cleaning up breakfast,” Jack said, by way of apology.
Sahar waved a dismissive hand. “Tahirah is doing that. I even made Suleiman help her. It doesn’t hurt for him to know how to clean up. There are no guarantees he will always be on New Mecca. If what you have told me of the universe is true, he may have only himself to rely on if he leaves here.”
Jack smiled affectionately at her. “Very true.”
For a woman who had known nothing else but New Mecca, with its well-defined social roles, Sahar could be remarkably forward thinking. Jack recalled the disgusting galley on the ship that had rescued her, Riddick and Imam. The mothers of its crew had not, unfortunately, had that foresight.
Sahar turned dark, speculative eyes on her. “He was here a long time last night,” she ventured.
“I know … he killed my father,” Jack heard herself say. They were not the words she had intended to speak, but her mouth had other ideas.
Her “mother’s” free hand flew to her lips in shock. “Why, then, is there even a question?”
“About my marrying Rick?” Jack guessed.
“Yes! Truly, habibti, you could share his bed from now until he dies, and you will not have repaid the service he rendered you. I rather doubt you would find such repayment unpleasant.”
If there was one thing Jack had learned above all else about Chrislams, it was that they were serious about honoring a debt, even if they had not incurred that debt themselves. To Sahar, it would seem the simplest decision in the world to marry Riddick. How she felt about him would matter little. After all, she had married Imam—almost sight unseen—and grown to love him. And if there was one thing she had learned about her “mother,” it was that the woman appreciated regular sex. Her solution to Jack’s debt was vintage Sahar.
“I wish it was that simple,” Jack sighed, not knowing if she could articulate her objection well enough to be understood. “I made Imam promise me a choice, and now it feels as if circumstances are going to take that choice away from me. You and Imam both think I should marry him, because he’s likely to be the best suitor I’ll get now that Imam knows I’m not a virgin. And, in truth, since such a thing doesn’t matter to him, you may both be right.
“Rick must feel something for me. He spent seven years trying to get back to me. It may be love, I can’t know, but he feels a bond. Enough of a bond that he would be willing to adopt our ways and stay here, for me.
“To all three of you, it seems neat and tidy, but that’s not how it feels to me. You can’t know how much it hurt me to have him reject me the way he did. He broke my heart, Sahar. It took me two years to put what I felt for him to rest. And the original rejection hurt so bad I buried the memory of it, convincing myself it was a childish crush. Yes, I know I was a child, and I took him by surprise. My head knows all this, but my heart only remembers the pain he caused me.”
Sahar was swaying her head in openmouthed confusion, trying to find a break in Jack’s words to jump into. “Wait a minute! I don’t understand. What did you do?”
In a low, almost guilty voice, Jack related the memory Riddick had forced from her depths the night before.
“You tried to seduce him when you were thirteen?” she exclaimed, delighted. “And here I thought you were shy of men!” She grew serious as she thought on it further, however. “Akila, you told me he was once a bad man. If all he wanted out of you was sex, he could have done it back then and left you there pregnant. He could have taken you with him and stranded you somewhere when he tired of you. Yet, he didn’t. He came back to see you now that you’re old enough to make a real choice about him. He may be infidel, but he is a man of honor. Even among Chrislams, those are not as common as they should be.”
“I’m afraid of being hurt again,” Jack admitted, unhappily.
Sahar shrugged as she repositioned the baby so that he was up on her shoulder. “Then go slow. Be sure. If he waited seven years, he can wait a little longer.” She absently patted Ali’s little back for a few moments until the baby let out an impressive belch. “Come on, Akila, let’s go in. The garden is getting hot now.”
The two women headed back towards the cool, airy house until Sahar stopped abruptly and turned to face her.
“What?” Jack startled, narrowly avoiding plowing into her.
“There’s going to be trouble. Have you forgotten about Jubair?”
As far as Jack was concerned, Jubair had made himself a non-issue on the night Ali was born. “His father would never sanction his marrying me now.”
Her “mother” smirked. “But your stock as a second wife just went up. Few women choose to be second wife unless that is the only option open to them.”
“Aieeee! You mean the sheik is going to actively pursue me now? I’m not sure who will be more upset—me or Jubair.” There were times that, as blasphemous as it was, Jack could still heartily agree with Riddick’s assessment of God. This was one of them.
But Sahar had that devilish twinkle in her dark eyes. Oh, Allah, here it comes.
“Make it seem as if Rick was the one you were with. Then the old man has no recourse. No one in their right mind would expect you to choose to be second wife to a wizened old sheik when you would be only wife to a man in his prime.”
Jack felt suddenly dizzy. “But wouldn’t that make both him and Rick think I was marrying Rick? I thought you just told me I could go slow?”
Sahar glanced sidelong at her. “I may have lied. This could get very ugly, ‘Kila. I’ve heard the Mullah doesn’t like that Imam granted you the right to choose, but he has tolerated it because you came to us an infidel. Four years of suitors is trying everyone’s patience. If Jubair and his father raise a stink, the Mullah may rule in a way you would not like.”
That struck fear in Jack’s heart. “He can make me marry?”
“No one can make you marry. You could always choose to leave.”
And the only person I could leave with is Riddick. “No matter what I do, all roads lead back to Rick,” Jack realized, dismayed.
“So it would seem,” a prosaic Sahar agreed.
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