saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 11 (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 preferred the sitting room for prayer and meditation to her room, which was on the far side of the house. The children were not permitted to enter without special permission, but she could still hear any trouble that they might be getting into. Jack’s evening prayers had become so fervent that she failed to hear her father enter the room. When he touched her shoulder as she arose from her mat, he startled her badly.
“Baba!” she shrieked, breathless, a shocked hand pressed to her heart. “I never even heard you come in!”
“I am sorry, habibti,” Imam said. “You have seemed rather preoccupied of late.”
“I have prayed a lot,” Jack revealed, “asking for guidance.”
“Come, sit down,” he gestured towards a set of wicker chairs with plush crimson cushions that sat at right angles to each other. “Tell me your troubles.”
As they settled into their seats, Jack wasn’t sure where to begin. “I don’t know what to do, Baba,” she started, and all her doubts and fears came rushing out without further prompting.
“Sahar told you what?” he asked, skeptical.
“That the Mullah could decide I was to marry and choose a husband for me.”
Imam shook his head, a tolerant expression on his face. “My wife, as you should know by now, has a tendency to embellish. Since I swore to you before Allah, he cannot overrule that. Besides, you are a great favorite of the Mullah’s. Why would he deliberately try to make you unhappy? However, he could rule that you must choose a husband yourself by a certain time. Four years is a long while, Jack.”
“And if I disobey?” she challenged, already guessing what he would say but needing to hear the horrid words anyway.
He closed his eyes, his usually serene face etched with pain. “He would order you to leave us. If you do not, then he can order us to shun you. It would be as if you were dead. I do not think I could bear it.”
“She also said I was likely to be sought out as a second wife now, because of what Rick told you.”
He took her hand, face sorrowful. “Life is sometimes unfair.”
Jack had never felt more resigned. “So you agree with Sahar that I should marry Rick?”
Imam compressed his lips, calculating his words carefully. “I told you before that you react to him in ways I have never seen you react to another man. At the very least, the two of you seem physically compatible. Some couples start out with less than that.”
She was becoming so inured to conversations about Riddick along this line that she didn’t even blush. Instead, she smirked with a kind of black amusement. “So you’re telling me the sex will be good?”
Imam’s mouth twisted into a wry little smile. “I daresay half the women in our village would consider you lucky beyond imagining.”
Jack snorted. “I wonder if they’d still feel the same way if they knew he was an escaped convicted murderer.”
“It never seemed to have any effect on how you felt about him,” he reminded her.
“When I was thirteen, no, it didn’t. I was young and stupid and his being dangerous only added to his appeal.”
“So are you telling me, habibti, that your problem with him is that he no longer wishes to be dangerous? He cannot be the man he was on that dreadful planet and stay here. He knows that, or he would not have requested religious instruction from me. And you know it, too.”
Jack remembered Riddick’s flat, silver eyes and knew that was not an issue. “Being dangerous is as much a part of him as breathing. There is no taming that out of him, no matter how much civilizing you impress upon him.”
“That would have its uses, even on New Mecca. Remember when the marauders came last spring?”
Two of their men had died, a young woman had been raped and many items of value had been stolen. There had been much mourning and upset in their wake.
“Or the time when the sand cat took Ibrahim?”
He had been a delightful three-year-old boy whose gnawed bones were found at a distant oasis two months later. Lamentations over his death had been long and loud.
Jack recalled Riddick’s savagery on the planet, when he had killed the flying horror that was trying to eat her with only his big hands and a shiv he had made. His brute strength and startling speed had seemed almost inhuman. She could tell that Imam had not forgotten that display of predatory prowess either.
“There’ll be no shots,” she whispered, recalling Johns’ reply to Paris’ question about what would happen if Riddick saw them first.
"Neither marauders nor sand cats would survive our Mr. Riddick,” her adopted father concurred.
“So you want me to marry him in exchange for protection for our village?" Jack asked, offended.
“Insha Allah,” he said wearily. “However, I think even if Allah wills, you will not. I do not know what to tell you or how to help you. You claim to want marriage and children, yet you have spurned every suitor who has approached you, including one I know you find attractive. Why is this?”
Jack had spent long hours wondering the same thing, and could find no explanation that made sense to her other than fear. She had been hurt at the hands of a cruel man when she was younger. She knew logically that marriage would be different, that a husband would handle her gently, would want to please her and make her happy to be with him. She knew it was not the same, yet the fear persisted. She had not lied when she had told Riddick that all she had learned from losing her virginity was fear and pain. It was a lesson she had learned all too well.
When he had made her remember offering herself to him before he left her and Imam, she was forced to look at her reluctance to marry differently. At first, she could not reconcile the contradiction, but then it came to her. The pain of being violated had been a constant in her life for the two years just prior to meeting him. It would have been worth it to her to continue enduring that pain if that was Riddick’s price for taking her with him. Now, it had been years since there had been any pain. All she had was old memories of how awful it had been. She was afraid of the pain she had left behind; afraid she couldn’t endure it again. No matter how much Sahar reassured her that consensual sex wasn’t painful, part of her was unable to believe that could possibly be true.
Her fear also had an emotional dimension that finally made sense to her. As she had told Sahar, she had lied to everyone, including herself, by calling what she had felt for Riddick as a young teenager a silly crush. His rejection of her had been so painful that she had buried her failed attempt to seduce him deep in her memory, unable to recall it until Riddick had summoned it from its hiding place. It had taken her two years to get over Riddick because she was in love with him. Despite her vehement insistence, there had been nothing childish or trivial about what she felt. Her fear of suffering that kind of emotional pain again had driven her to turn down suitor after suitor.
Even worse, she was beginning to think the love she had for Riddick had only lain dormant all these years, quiet but far from dead. She saw it now as a strange and terrible force that threatened to usurp her will and destroy the self-control she had worked so hard to impose on herself. She feared that if Riddick made her his, she would no longer be herself.
“I’m afraid, Baba,” she admitted, feeling the fear shadow her eyes.
He took her smaller hands in his, pale against dark, his face gentle with love. “Habibti, we are all afraid, but life is to be lived. Do not let your fears box you away from it. Face them, conquer them and live.”
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