saga/title/fandom: The Past Never Dies chapter 38 (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 sat out back on her veranda, listening to the tinkling of the wind chime and thinking. It was approaching her favorite time of day, evening, and she sat in her favorite position, feet snugged up against her ass in her chair, arms wrapped around her legs. She let the cinnamon wind, blowing in from the desert she loved, soothe her tired face. With the fuller contours of her body, it surprised her that she could still sit in this position and find comfort in it. As if her body had to prove her wrong, her newly tender breasts began to complain. She willfully ignored them.
Two years ago, no, maybe a little longer, I was sitting on Baba’s veranda after a fight, convinced he was completely wrong. Rick couldn’t possibly have anything to do with why I hadn’t married any of my suitors. She snorted aloud at the irony of it. I don’t know if I ever admitted to him that he was right after all.
It had seemed insane at the time, that the memory of a man Jack had spent a traumatic but scant few weeks with some seven years earlier could prevent her from choosing a husband on New Mecca, but it had been so. She hadn’t recognized it consciously, didn’t even think about him anymore, but somewhere deep in her psyche her feelings for him had lurked, waiting. Now that she had been married to him for two years, and was having their children, she was glad of it. Her heart had known what she wanted, and there had been nothing her head could do to dissuade it. Jack wondered, had Riddick not returned, if she would have eventually entered into a practical marriage or simply bucked this culture and refused to marry altogether.
When Jack felt hands start to massage her grateful shoulders, she didn’t jump because she knew whose they were by the strength they exhibited. She leaned back luxuriantly as he bent down, sniffing her hair.
“You’re pregnant again,” he stated, his tone completely unreadable. “When?”
“I told you. The night you came back,” Jack confirmed. “This is your son.”
She immediately regretted her last four words, hoping Riddick wouldn’t assume she meant to revisit an issue that was better left alone. Riddick had found it difficult to believe that Jack had spent several hours with the marauders and had somehow managed to get nothing worse out of it than a bloody nose and some bruises. Jack had become incensed at his doubt—and the implication that she was lying to him—resulting in one of the worst fights the two of them had ever had.
“A son?” he asked, intent on matters other than paternity. “How do you know?”
Jack shook her head, because there was no conclusive proof, but she had known immediately, without a doubt. “I’m carrying completely differently this time. This one feels nothing like Shazza did, even this early. I know it’s a boy.”
“The beast’s child,” Riddick said, apprehension coloring his tone, as he took up residence in the chair beside her.
Although Jack was pleased that he unquestioningly acknowledged the child as his now, she understood why he feared bringing another like himself into the universe. “He won’t be abandoned at birth. He will have a large extended family. He will know much love.”
“Maybe that will be enough,” he hoped, but it was clear that he was unconvinced. “What happened with the marauders … that wasn’t the first time.”
She felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise as she rose to her feet, turning so she could see his face. “Imam said they pulled your file. He said there were not all that many murders in it and most of them were of people who had attacked you first.” Then she remembered another fact Imam had shared. “Except the ones that happened when you worked for the Company ... Rick, what did you do?”
Riddick simply stared at her for a long moment. A muscle ticked in his jaw, indicating that whatever was coming was likely to be a revelation of the worst kind. “This won’t be in any file Imam could find. I’m not even sure it’s documented anywhere. I think they want to forget it happened. They buried me in Ursa Luna afterwards, hoping it would kill me.”
Jack bit her lip, feeling a cold dread crawl from her belly to her heart and freeze around it. “What happened?”
He dropped his gaze from her, studying the ground, steeling himself to share something awful. “When I was eighteen, the Company paid to get me out of slam and train me to be a killer. For three years, I was part of an elite enforcer corps that struck terror anywhere we were sent. I hated what we did, and got punished for refusing to follow orders, for refusing to gun down innocent people. I started collecting evidence to use against them, because I knew a lot of what they did was blatantly illegal.
“They must have figured out what I was doing. They dropped our corps on a planet to quell an uprising in a small slave labor mining camp. Our sergeant had orders to ghost me when we were finished. Unfortunately for them, he missed me. He was furious. He ordered the rest of the men to seek me out and shoot on sight. When the drop ship came to pick us up a week later, I was the only person left alive.”
It had grown dark enough while he was talking that Riddick had put his goggles up so she could see his horrified eyes. “How many?” she managed, feeling ill.
“There were five hundred in the corps,” he said, seeming appalled at his own words. “Jack, I have no memory of what happened after I heard him give them the order to hunt me down. When I knew who I was again, they were all dead.”
She licked her lips, contemplating the enormity of that many deaths. “How did they die?” she wondered, stunned.
For some reason, the question seemed to ground Riddick. “It looked like I had blown up the mining camp, with over half of them in it. A good three-quarters of those left had been shot. The rest, I used a knife on. They found one body fifteen miles away from the camp. I hunted them down, every last one of them.”
“You killed the slaves, too?” The thought that he had indiscriminately killed every human being within range disturbed Jack greatly.
“Those were our orders,” Riddick explained with disgust. “Those people were dead before he set me off.”
Jack considered his words carefully. How was that so different from the marauders? The beast in him killed the threat. It didn’t kill the undeserving. She thought of the two young women held captive in the marauder camp who were found alive and unharmed.
“How can you be so sure growing up here will be enough to offset that?” There were a lot of emotions rolled into his question: guilt, concern, bitterness, even fear.
“Our son will have his father to teach him. But without having any of the advantages he’s going to have, you never took an innocent life unless ordered. Even then, you fought against doing so. I know there is some kind of beast that rages in you, and it made you think you weren’t part of the human race. However, that beast has more humanity than a lot of people I’ve known. Certainly more than Johns, who wanted to kill me to save himself. The beast saved me from him. Then later, it saved me from that creature. Just a few weeks ago, it saved me from the marauders. I can’t be sorry it’s there. You wouldn’t be Riddick without it. I wouldn’t be here without it.” The words had come out of Jack in such an impassioned rush that she felt breathless once she had finished.
“Just like that?” Riddick was incredulous. “I can tell you I killed four hundred and ninety-nine men in a week and all is forgiven, just like that?”
“Only Allah can forgive you that,” Jack said, gently. “I have nothing to forgive you for.”
Something about Jack’s simple acceptance of the worst in him made Riddick pull her into a fierce embrace, much as his more primitive self had done a few weeks earlier. “Watch it,” she wheezed, pained. “You almost broke my ribs before, remember?”
Instantly, he released her, a contrite expression on his face. “I forgot,” he said, wincing.
“It’s okay,” she assured him, deliberately leaning against his chest to emphasize her words, intent on continuing to enjoy his scent and his warmth as he held her loosely.
After a few moments, he spoke into the cinnamon darkness. “Sometimes, it’s a good thing the past never dies.”
~ End ~
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