“So, what did you and Keira fight about?”
Jak’s face fell; his mood plummeted. He looked away from them, frowning in thought and dreading the barrage of questions the ottsels would throw at him. “After Yerran left, Keira said…Keira told me she didn’t like a part of me.”
“Heh, I knew you could get a lil’ gassy but-” Daxter was immediately silenced by the glares the other two gave him.
“What part was she talking about?” asked Tess.
Jak swallowed another mouthful. “She told me this because I had told Yerran about the time I escaped that prison.”
Daxter’s joviality instantly diminished. “Oh, that’s why.”
His larger friend stared at him suspiciously. “You got something to say?”
The ottsel gave his best friend an unusually sober look. “I don’t think you appreciate how scary it is, finding your best friend after a long time, only to find he’s someone else? I mean, I get it. I found you in that torture chamber, you were in a bad way, you were pissed off and wanted revenge. Fine. But instead of doing the sensible thing, you left via the most obvious way possible and killed as many Krimzon Guards as you could find. You were freakin’ out and going on a total rampage! And you enjoyed it. It took me a few days to figure out you weren’t gonna snap on me and even then, you were grabbing me and manhandling me like some useless doll slowin’ ya down.”
Jak stared at him stonily. Daxter resolutely put his hands on his hips. “Oh, wondering why I never brought this up before? 1) It never came up, and 2) could you seriously tell me that back then, you weren’t an unhinged time bomb ready to blow up at anyone who disagreed with you?”
Disheartened, Jak looked down and played with his food. He thought of his dream again, remembering how intimidating his current self looked. “Am I really that heartless?” he asked quietly, almost humiliated.
The ottsels’ eyes widened in surprise. Daxter raised his arms in a placating gesture. “Not now. You were definitely more yourself after getting those Light Eco powers. It’s only lately that…back then has really bothered you now.”
“So how do you feel, when you think about the time you got out of the prison?” asked Tess.
“It’s like I said yesterday, I feel nothing.” The ottsels shared a look. "You think there's something wrong with me too?"
"So that's what Keira said?" Daxter exclaimed.
"Honestly, Jak, we don't know," pointed Tess out reasonably. "Yerran's the expert, she can tell you that. And as for what we think? What we think doesn't matter here."
"You started these sessions with Yerran to figure things out," finished the male ottsel. "So how about this? You go to Keira, offer to ask Yerran what her opinion is of you, see how you act after the sessions are done, then Keira can find out how she feels."
Jak smiled slightly. "That's a good idea."
Tess was glad. "Good! So now that you have that problem settled, finish your breakfast."
Breakfast had actually been quite late that day. The ottsels, being bar owners, found it very normal to stay awake until very late, so waking up late was normal for them. Jak had found it very difficult to get to sleep the previous night, mainly because of his simmering anger over what Keira had said. After a good night's rest and a delicious breakfast, Jak happily told his best friend exactly how he would make it up to his beloved; he had noticed the ingredients Keira had brought home the previous afternoon, knowing exactly what she had planned to cook. He would make it for her, so that she can come home to a romantic dinner and he can make his offer. He also wondered what flowers to decorate the table with.
Jak and Daxter decided to spend the remainder of their free time racing each other round the track at the arena. In the years since the days of Praxis' regime, the pair had accumulated a range of vehicles designed for racing and some of them they kept in the hold at the local arena. The single non-wheeled racer they had each, which they used to race around the track as quickly as possible, setting new lap records and instantly trying to beat them. They sometimes got carried away in their personal competition, scraping and banging against the sides of the track as a consequence. After racing more than 20 laps, the surfaces of their vehicles were becoming too damaged, so they needed to stop and perform some maintenance.
They chatted as they worked. Daxter proclaimed which cocktails he and 'Tessy-poo' would bring to the upcoming street party celebrating the fall of Praxis. At this moment Jak admitted he had forgotten about the street party (despite the numerous advertisements for it) and was no longer so enthusiastic about attending. His ottsel friend assured him he would feel better once he had actually arrived at the party. They then talked about the silly tidbits of gossip that the citizens of Haven City shared. Even more stories had spread of Jak and Ashelin sharing a secret relationship, the ludicrousness of which made Jak laugh. There was also a growing list of nicknames the Freedom Guards had for Torn. There were also criticisms of various members of the City Council, peppered every so often with praise for some of them. Daxter then offered some insight as to how the citizens viewed their king.
"No joke, if that stupid palace that Praxis built was still standing, they'd demand you live there and that Keira live somewhere else," declared the ottsel barkeeper.
"Even the people want me to live in a palace now?" exclaimed an exasperated Jak. "Don't they want the little amounts of money to go into schools, better housing and power facilities? And what's with the me and Keira living apart thing?" He continued polishing the metalwork.
"People wanna see their king...act like a king. They want their king to have a palace so they can take photos against it and stuff. Make it a local landmark and symbol for their city. As for the you and Keira living apart thing? They don't want their king just sleeping with anybody. She has to be the future queen. You're not allowed to just date."
"I'd totally make Keira my queen!" declared Jak. The next moment, he looked unsure of himself.
Daxter gave him a quizzical look. "I see a 'but'."
The blonde continued polishing, apparently ignoring him. "Everyone in Spargus earned their citizenship. You remember what we had to do, right?"
The small barkeeper swallowed. He remembered the dangerous challenges the pair had needed to complete. "Heh heh, yeah...I'll just admit it right now, you did most of the work. Me on my own, I woulda been toast."
Jak tried to imagine her in the arena at Spargus. He found he could, a lot easier than he thought it would be. "I think she could do it, I really do. I can't just force it on her though."
The pair continued to work silently. Jak was inwardly reminiscing about the time he, Daxter and Keira had found each other here. Or rather, in the workshop nearby, where she had kept an apartment above it. Since then, she had changed her workspace. He got up to rummage for the spray can among his tools. The pair were surprised when Samos approached them.
At first, the taller of them was mildly curious as to why Samos had come. He then made a snap conclusion. "If you're here to do the 'overprotective father of his daughter' routine, I'm not playing along."
The sage seemed unfazed. "Fine, what about the 'elder who cares for his surrogate son' routine?" He grinned slightly at the surprised look on Jak's face. "I just wanted to see how you were. I know you've been seeing a practitioner every day, two even, and with everything else going on, I know you've been busy and distracted. So I thought I'd stop by, chat. Maybe you can tell me what happens in those sessions of yours?"
"Those are private," the younger man snapped. "What, you couldn't weasel the info out of Keira, so you thought you'd get it from me?" he accused. He felt a small glimmer of satisfaction at the surprised expression on Samos' face.
The Sage sighed. "I noticed she was upset, but she refused to tell me why. I asked her if it was something to do with those sessions you have, but she said she couldn't talk about them. I understand they're private, so it seemed a better idea to ask you."
Jak kept his mouth shut a moment. "We had a fight. I'll make it up to her later, don't worry."
"Good." He looked at the hero he had trained and taught a little apprehensively. "So, was the fight about something that happened in a session?"
"That's none of your business! You done being nosy?"
Daxter looked back
and forth between
the two in
be rude young
man," warned the
Jak faced his mentor arrogantly, smirking. "You threatening me? I'm more powerful than you. You realise that, right?"
"And you're threatening me now!" Samos could not remember the last time he was so angry at the young man in front of him. "What would your uncle think if he could see you?"
Blue eyes stared
at him blankly. Those blue eyes used to look ashamed at the thought of
disappointing the explorer. Instead, the young man laughed, darkly.
"We're not even related, you fucking
liar. You just took me back to Sandover and handed me off to some couple
you found. What were you trying to do?"
he had never
seen Samos so
seemed not to
have no idea
what to do
been raised by
my father. But
took me to
here, but you
rift rider and
you met me,
who used Dark
said to stay
of the effects
of it on a
a problem? And
got to be
locked up in a
prison and experimented
now I need
thanks a lot
to his spot
had been a
since he had
away from him
the Sage exited.
"You know," began Daxter, quiet and sullen, "if you'd never gone back in time to Sandover Village, I'd have never met you, we'd have never had those adventures. ... You'd have never met Keira."
Jak's shoulders visibly sagged.
Keira returned to the apartment she shared with Jak and was surprised to smell cooking. He was cooking? For her? And was that -
She rushed to the kitchen door and stared at the sight of Jak cooking stuffed peppers and a spicy bean salad. It was the meal she had planned to cook the previous day. She was so taken aback by this, her mouth hung open. The chef turned around, beaming his most welcoming smile.
"Hey Keira, right on time. Take a seat at the dining table, I'll bring the plates over."
With her mouth still hanging open, she wordlessly left the kitchen to take off her shoes. She wandered into the dining room and blinked. And blinked. The dining room table had a vase of beautiful flowers on it. Jak had even brought out some wineglasses for them, to be used with the small bottle on the table. Her look of astonishment turned into one of wonderous awe. This was the Jak she knew and loved, the one who would not stop showing her how much he loved her; making little surprises like this, enriching their own, private little world, making her feel so special. This did not fit the Jak she had seen the previous night. The angry young man, the heartless killer. She couldn't take it. She had to leave.
"I hope you liked the surprise," called Jak cheerily as he entered with the served plates.
Snapped out of her daze, Keira snatched a plate and picked up a knife and fork as quickly as she could. "Thanks, but I'll eat alone." She dashed to the bedroom, leaving her beloved to stare at the closing bedroom door in shock.
Somehow, eating this delicious meal made Keira even more depressed. The food was carefully cooked, exactly the way she liked it. It reminded her of the days after Jak had returned from Spargus and saved the world from the Dark Makers. The night everybody had celebrated, he and she had slipped away, to a private room in a quiet part of the city, where they had made love for the first time. In the months that had followed, their love had felt very strong. Keira only had to think about Jak for a brief moment and she would instantly be filled with happiness. They had spent all their free time together, sometimes with others, sometimes alone. They had raced each other, spent time in the slowly rejuvenating forest, looked through treasure maps, talked about any old silly thing. They had loved rebuilding the world around them and they loved getting to know each other's worlds, paying attention to what made the other happy. They hadn't made love too much at first, as the city needed rebuilding and private accommodation had been sparse; but every time they had been intimate, she had always discovered something new about him, while he had discovered something about her she had never realised. Every time they had made love, it had been amazing, always leaving her glowing inside. Their love-making hadn't turned any less pleasurable recently, but it had taken on a more desperate edge.
Thinking about it, it seemed they had sometimes resorted to sex in order to cover up the cracks appearing in their relationship. Cracks? A deep, sad realisation grew within her; her love for him had turned more caring, more concerned, the first time she had witnessed him trapped in his nightmares. The first time, she had woken him up; his reaction was at first shame, then anger, that such a thing had happened at all. This was the first time their romance had hit a roadblock. As she went over her memories of the last year with him, she realised that there had been many small moments when cracks had appeared, when she had wanted Jak to reveal more about what haunted him. Every time he had refused to say anything, saying very little if he did say something, assuring her it was nothing, that it would pass. It just got worse instead.
did not regret
learning what had
happened to him
during those near
2 years of
out was a shock,
but she could live with it. What
her rattled at this moment,
was that the experience
had truly left a scar on
him, one so bad that he had
become more a
mass murderer even. And he didn't
care. Except he must have, as he
preferred not to show her that side
But she had sometimes seen glimpses
of it, convincing herself they
had been little more
Now she knew the truth: his
was definitely present and it
scared her. How would she
react if he murdered someone
right in front
of her? Even in the name of
She sighed. How could one man make her so happy and yet so fearful at the same time?
Outside, in the dining room, Jak was feeling as low as Keira, but for different reasons. He was feeling lonely. He ate the meal, making sure nothing went to waste. He inwardly chastised himself. What did you think was going to happen? That she'd forget everything after seeing you act romantic? He felt helpless in his current predicament. He had known all along that the tension between them had not been caused by him making a mistake or screwing up, things he can easily fix. But what she had said to him. "There's something wrong with you." He could not fix that. It's how she saw him now. Was she wrong?
why I'm having these sessions
you moron. This
sudden thought made him irritable.
know that there was something wrong
with him after all;
he had used his Dark Eco powers to
attack civilians under the belief
they were loyal
followers of the dead Baron Praxis.
She herself had admitted to
soothing away his
nightmares, without his
knowledge. Why was this news
her now? And
I wanted to
talk to you tonight,
about this, over a
lovely dinner. You had
to take that away from
me, didn't you?
realised he had spent
the last who-knows-how-long
glaring angrily at
an empty plate with
his arms crossed.
clean up. His
rejected his romantic
things to the
to clean them.
mess he had
made in the
tears to fall,
but he refused
to allow that.
As he began
washing up the
what she had
also said to
cleaned up the
was jealous of
whom Keira had
looked at with
she ever given
him that look
exile to the
She had given
him many other
fear, once in
a while. So
why the hell
did she fixate
on their childhoods?
On himself as
a child? She
Was it because
he had been
Because he had
not killed a
Because he had
needs to grow
up and stop
in the past.
fault he felt
like this now!
used to adore
him like the
hero he was.
It was her own
fault she saw
that side of
him, her own
now knows the
truth of what
him. She will
suffer and he
"Um, Jak?" Stepping into the kitchen, holding her empty plate, Keira felt her blood freeze. He happened to be cleaning the chopping knife. The look he gave her was an angry, accusatory one. Just like when they had had their first argument, when he had refused to race, meaning Daxter had raced in his stead. Jak looked very chilling to her, she was unsure how certain she was he would not kill her. "Uh, sorry for doing that I...I just..."
knife into the
then held out
Keira blinked in surprise. Just like that, he no longer seemed threatening, just angry. Wordlessly, she handed him her dirty plate and utensils.
He spoke quietly as he washed them. "I told Daxter what happened last night. Not the whole story, just enough. He almost reacted the same way you did. But he had an idea, a proposal. I thought it was a good one. I wanted to tell you while we had our dinner. But you ran away. So I'll tell you now. When Yerran comes I'll ask her if there's really something wrong with me, she'll know after all, you just think. Once our sessions are done, I should be fine. If not, you can leave me."
The mechanic frowned, although he couldn't see it. "Don't be ridiculous, Jak. I can't just leave you in an ultimatum like that. I love you too much."
He swivelled his head towards her robotically. "Do you?" His eyes were emotionally hard.
This both worried and confused Keira. "Do I what?"
"Love me? Or do you prefer a different me?"
crossed her arms in annoyance. "And what other you is there?"
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by Ruth Hüneke 2013
© Naughty Dog and Sony