saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 22 (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 stumbled into the dining room first. Unfortunately, it was now high noon. Conversation stopped as every eye at the table fixed itself on her and widened.

“I can see your hair,” Carolyn announced, brightly.

“I forgot my scarf,” Jack gasped, mortified.

Sahar couldn’t resist. “I’ll just bet you did.”

Every person at the table who was old enough to realize what had been happening since the previous evening roared with laughter. Behind Jack, Riddick fought valiantly not to join in. The smaller children forced themselves to giggle because they thought they were supposed to. Jack felt almost dizzy from hunger and from all the blood that had rushed into her face.

Imam smiled at her, kindly. “Come, sit! You must be famished, Akila. Allah should not take too much offense at bare hair for one meal.”

“He would if it was me,” Nahlah grumbled, sourly.

Nahlah’s eleventh birthday and her first menses had arrived on the same day the week before. She despised the Chrislam woman's scarf, because it kept the breeze from cooling her head. She doffed it every chance she got and had been scolded accordingly.

“You didn’t just get married,” Tahirah scolded.

“What difference does that make?” Nahlah demanded.

Sahar and Tahirah shared a knowing look and burst into helpless peals of laughter. Jack found herself wishing she was still upstairs in bed with Riddick, where she didn’t feel stupid. Her stomach lodged a stern protest at the thought, squealing loudly enough for Imam to hear it. He passed the bread tray and butter to her immediately. Jack sawed at what remained of a loaf of delicious-smelling bread in starving frustration. She was forever telling Tahirah not to set out this particular knife.

“Wait a second,” Riddick suggested beside her.

He pulled her back away from the bread. A shiv appeared in his opposite hand so quickly that nobody could have seen where it came from. It was more than a match for stubborn bread crust, reducing the remainder of the loaf to a small stack of thick slices, in the twinkling of an eye. The shiv flipped back over Riddick’s hand, moving like a thing alive, and disappeared. There was dead silence around the table.

“Thank you, Rick,” Jack said, with studied nonchalance, enjoying the wide eyes that now graced everyone but her and Imam.

She hoped he would realize that her gratitude was for more than just his cutting of the bread. She took a slice, slathered it with butter and took so big a bite that she almost choked. Bread had never tasted quite as good as this before.

“Sahar, where are your manners?” Imam chided, watching Jack inhale her food. “Go and fetch the newlyweds some soup.”

Her “mother” shot out of her chair, as if she had been spanked, and was back with two large bowls of soup almost before she left. Imam seldom corrected her, usually preferring to let Fatima scold. Jack could tell Sahar felt a little ashamed of her behavior at Jack’s and Riddick’s expense. Jack could almost have felt sorry for Sahar if she hadn’t been so busy feeling smug that it was somebody else’s turn to be put on the spot. Payback.

Riddick sampled the soup, and then asked Sahar. “You cook this?” When she nodded, he added, “Well, I hope you taught Akila to cook this well.”

To Jack’s amazement, her “mother” melted, displaying a rare blush. “Thank you,” Sahar gushed, her mood restored.

He really has learned a lot about people since the crash, she marveled.

“I never told you, Akila,” Tahirah remembered, breaking the awkward silence. “Nabil and I will marry in two years.”

Jack gulped down the wonderful soup in her mouth so she could reply. “I thought you were already betrothed to him?”

Tahirah fairly sparkled. “Yes, but I have not seen him since I was twelve, when I did not really care about such things. He looks much better at eighteen.”

She smiled fondly at Fatima’s daughter. “I take it he’s starting to come around to see you?”

“Yes,” the teenager mooned, dreamily.

Suleiman had been studying both Akila and Tahirah for several minutes with a puzzled frown. Finally, he could contain his curiosity no longer. “Why do you wanna marry?”

“To have our own home and children,” Tahirah replied dutifully, slightly annoyed at her small cousin’s taking the spotlight from her.

“I don’t know,” he said, dubiously.

“Don’t know what?” Akila prompted.

Suleiman looked at his favorite cousin with real concern. “How can it be so good if you scream?”

Tahirah ungraciously spat milk all over the table. Everybody else politely choked. Jack wanted to sink through the floor, but thought quickly, because the child needed to be answered. “You know how sometimes people cry when they’re happy?”

The little boy caught on immediately. “So, it was good screaming?”

“The best,” Jack assured, in a tone that left no doubt in any mind older than Nahlah’s that her husband was gifted where it counted. She knew Riddick was smirking beside her without even looking at him.

“I was right,” Sahar mumbled into her glass.

“What?” Fatima puzzled, unable to figure out what she had said.

Jack heard it, though, and she gave her “mother” the most imperceptible of nods. A few minutes later, they had eaten as much as they could fit. They excused themselves and headed back to the bedroom.

“Right about what?” Riddick prompted on their way back up the stairs. Evidently, he had caught what Sahar had said as well.

Jack giggled. “She said you were going to have a big zibb.”

He gave a hearty laugh at that. “Some mother-in-law I got.”

“Sahar was right,” she reminded him, reaching behind her to grab the very part under discussion.

Jack found it very satisfying to hear the catch in his breath. Then she let go of him and fled down the hall, Riddick hot on her heels.

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