saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 17 (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.

“Are you nervous?” Sahar inquired from behind her.

Jack was studying her wedding-garbed self in a full-length mirror. She had not worn such brilliant colors since she had been a small child, living on a planet light years from New Mecca. She was meant to be the woman who caught everyone’s eye during the dancing that would follow her nuptials. Easily picturing her colorful self flying around a dance floor like a resplendent bird, she had no doubt that would be so.

For the first time in her life, Jack wore make-up. With kohl around the edges, and a shadow of green on her lids, her eyes appeared larger and more luminous than she had thought possible. The fact that she wore a veil that now covered everything, except her vibrant eyes only enhanced the effect.

“I never realized wedding clothes were made with the ability to remove them easily in mind,” she remarked, bemused, feeling underdressed despite being completely clothed, because she wore no undergarments.

“You should have,” Sahar scoffed. “Are you still worried about that? By the time you get to bed, you’ll have done enough drinking that it won’t matter. Allah preserve us, try not to spend your whole wedding worrying about that, will you?”

“You didn’t worry about it?” Jack ribbed, remembering all too well that she had.

“Evil child,” came the expected mock scolding. “You deserve to have him wear you out tonight.”

At the reminder, Jack sobered. She and Riddick had talked about sex cautiously the day before. He knew she was petrified, and he understood why. She knew he had waited a long time for her, and wasn’t going to wait anymore. She also understood why. They both agreed it would happen, on their wedding night, like it was supposed to. Jack would be happy when it was over, and the fear was behind her. Maybe once that happened, she could begin to enjoy herself.

Oddly, the idea of marrying Riddick troubled her less than the idea of making love to him. Although she knew he was no saint, he had been good to her during their courtship. She didn’t feel as if his treatment of her was in any way feigned. Behind his tough exterior, Jack had seen glimmers of this man on T2 and in the weeks that followed their escape from it. Now those glimmers were clearly in charge of him.

Riddick had spent seven years as a free man, the last four of them as a respectable citizen of the universe. He was no longer in a daily battle to prove that he was the biggest badass in Slam, a place where no sign of weakness dare ever escape. He could be who he really was here, although she doubted anyone would ever consider him an easy mark. The way Riddick stood, the way he moved, suggested the presence of something dangerous coiled within him that was best not disturbed. After his display in the marketplace on the day Jubair had accosted her, no one was inclined to disturb it.

Perhaps the biggest difference she saw in him was his capacity to laugh and to smile. She would never have thought the man on T2 could laugh in any way other than the sardonic rasp he had let out when it had started to rain, threatening to put out their meager light. “Where’s your God now?” she remembered him challenging Imam, with a smile that was almost obscene in its mockery. Now, when Riddick smiled at her, it actually reached his eyes. There was a genuineness that had not been there before. He didn’t smile often, but when he did, he meant it.

Riddick seemed to want the way of life she had as much as she wanted to continue living it. She knew that, even though there was a restless creature lurking inside him, it would not hurt anything he considered his. Neither she nor their children would be in any danger. As well as he seemed to have bonded to Imam, that likely included him and all his family, too. Some of the other villagers, however, could unwittingly unleash the beast. As Sahar had pointed out, though, she seemed to have some power over it. She wondered how long that would last, and in what manner the beast would eventually escape. Would it force him to leave this place if it did?

There are no guarantees in this life, Jack reminded herself. People grow apart, people change, people die. Right here, right now, this man wants me. He has gone to great lengths to get me. All I have to do is give him a chance to make it work. And get through this night.

“I’m sorry, ‘Kila,” Sahar apologized, giving her a little hug from behind. “I should not have said it.”

She had been so lost in her own head that it took her a disoriented second to realize that her “mother” was still in the room and had, in fact, set off her train of thought. “That’s okay,” she offered as she turned to look at Sahar. “How long did it take you to love Baba?”

Sahar shrugged, seeming unusually self-conscious. “I don’t know. Awhile. He seemed so old to me at first, but he knew a lot and he was patient. He didn’t talk to me like I was stupid or reckless, even when I was. He didn’t love me anymore than I loved him at first. We sort of grew into it together, definitely by the time Suleiman came. That’s how it is here, for most of us. You and Rick, there was something between you before now. It should take less time for you to trust what you have.”

“You think I love him already?”

Sahar gave a hearty laugh. “I know you love him already. You loved him when you first got here. There was never any room in your heart for another, even though he hurt you and you tried your best to forget him. Some things just are. Like the wind or the sand. They cannot be questioned or doubted.”

“Why didn’t you say that to me a long time ago?” Jack demanded in dismay. “Why did you let me struggle through four years of courtships?”

“Because you did such a good job of convincing me you were over him, I believed what you wanted me to believe. I knew it was a lie the day you confronted him in our sitting room. I wasn’t angry, though. You had done as good a job lying to yourself as you had to me.”

Jack felt a wry smile curve her lips. “I guess I had.”

Fatima burst into the room, looking rushed and worried. “Are you done, habibti? It is time.” While she had relished planning the wedding, now that the day had arrived, she was more nervous than the bride.

Jack turned towards her. “I think so. How do I look?”

Her aunt clapped her hands with delight. “You look lovely! Come, come, we must go!” She grabbed Jack’s wrist and hurried her out of the room, Sahar running behind.

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