saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 12 (Pitch Black/Riddick)

author: Shalimar

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 was practically dozing off into her lunch bowl. She had been thinking and praying so hard since her conversation with Imam that sleep was all but impossible during the night.

“Akila!” Fatima barked. “Are you listening to me?”

She blinked, bewildered. “You were speaking, Aunt?”

“You need to come with me to the marketplace today,” the older woman huffed.

Jack was horrified to hear herself whine, “But it’s Tahirah’s turn.”

“You spend too much time in that head of yours,” Fatima pronounced, dourly. “As hard as you have worked watching these little ones and helping Sahar with the baby, you should be sleeping like the dead at night. I think it is time for a change of scene.”

Jack glanced at Sahar, a silent plea for support, but her “mother” only shrugged. She knew better than to argue with her husband’s sister when she latched onto an idea.

Suleiman clapped his little hands, delighted. “You can bring us candy, ‘Kila!”

“Candy!” Carolyn echoed, eyes shining.

Sahar frowned at her two oldest children. “Where are your manners?”

“Pleeeease!” they chorused.

Imam’s eyes were fairly twinkling with amusement. “Are you satisfied, Mama?” he asked Sahar facetiously.

“All right, then,” she granted, with mock reluctance.

“Yay!” they shouted, while a confused little Hassan pulled on Akila’s sleeve.

“Me some?” he asked her, his lashes rimmed with tears he was prepared to shed in protest should the answer be negative.

Jack couldn’t help but be cheered by his trusting little face. “Of course, you some,” she assured him, mussing his soft, black hair.

“See,” Fatima shouted over the cheering children, “you must go now, Akila, or risk the wrath of their disappointment. Since you are not eating, go change into something nicer and try to wake up before we leave.”

Since Fatima had quite a lengthy list of items to purchase, they decided to take the air car to the outdoor market. The vehicle hovered about three feet above the ground, but with the exception of its propulsion, it was quite primitive. It was completely open to the elements and only meant to be driven for short jaunts in good weather. Since the rain came at the same time every day during the rainy season, and not at all outside it, only an idiot would go out when he knew he would get wet. Likewise, no one went outside—air car or not—during the occasional sand storm.

While her aunt grudgingly drove the vehicle when she had to, she would cheerfully relinquish that chore to any other available driver. Jack climbed into the driver’s seat, adjusting the sun goggles over her eyes, and proceeded to wrap a sand scarf around her face to keep errant sand out of her nose and mouth. The air car dipped precipitously to the right as Fatima’s broader figure clambered aboard. Once she was comfortably situated, Jack set the controls and the little car zipped along towards the village center.

The market was the place to see and be seen. Women tended to dress in brighter, more eye-catching robes, especially if they were not married. Throngs of girls about Tahirah’s age shopped in packs, formed as much by the dictates of the teen age as by social propriety. These little knots shifted from stall to stall, staying as much out of direct sunlight as possible. They pointed, laughed and talked as much about the young men they viewed from afar as they did about the wares in the stalls. Occasionally, a vendor would lose patience and send a giggling group packing.

Young men traveled alone or with a friend. They studiously ignored the girls, appearing to be absorbed in whatever they were perusing. However, their eyes would betray them, darting towards the source of a particular voice or a certain giggle. The wares in the stalls were definitely not the only commodities on display.

The mating dance never stops, Jack considered, studying the dynamics while Fatima scrutinized cuts of meat or squeezed desert fruit, checking for ripeness.

“Aren’t you awake yet?” Fatima snapped. “I’ve asked you to take this twice. My basket is full.”

Jack took a large package of wrapped meats and set it in her basket. She was trying to get the package balanced, so that the basket would be easier to hold, when somebody grabbed her roughly by the shoulders. She looked up into Jubair’s furious face, dropping her basket onto the tiles that ringed the stall in surprise.

“Tell me it isn’t true!” he demanded, with all the outrage a wronged man could muster, shaking her for emphasis. “Tell me you’re not seeing the infidel!”

“Jubair!” Fatima squawked, outraged in turn. “You had best turn Akila loose!”

“All we’ve done is talk,” she assured levelly, trying to pull away from him. “Remember, I came here an infidel.”

“Are you trying to tell me you know this man?” Jubair cried, refusing to release her.

Yes, but I can’t tell you that, Jack said to herself. I hate to lie, but—“No, I do not know Owen Richardson, just the universe he comes from.”

“I think he seeks a wife here, among us. He could have nearly any girl you see in this marketplace, yet he is talking to you, the prettiest one. Do you honestly expect me to believe he doesn’t want you, Akila?”

Jack wasn’t sure what to say to him, but he must have seen the truth in her face. She didn't think Jubair could get any angrier, but he did. “You have refused to see me since Imam’s baby was born. I have tried repeatedly. Yet you would see him, behind my back! My father is right! He said the infidel women are no better than whor—“

Before he could finish his sentence, Jubair had been swept off his feet and thrown down hard. With the wind knocked out of him, all he could do was lay there, struggling for breath. He found himself at the questionable mercy of an attacker who seemed every inch a formidable opponent.

“Don’t you say that about her,” Riddick warned, a dark rumble that was not to be ignored. “Ever.”

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