To anyone and everyone who has reviewed, favorited, followed, or enjoyed this story AT ALL... I am so sorry. I am the worst person ever, and I suck at writing, and I haven't been in the mood for this fic, and I got caught up in other fandoms, and I'm just super unhappy with this chapter as a whole, but WHATEVER. I have a million excuses, but I just don't care anymore.
I'm sorry if it sucks. I'm sorry if they're out of character, or if there are disturbing amounts of typos, or if the flow is awful, or if it's cheesy, embarrassing, stupid, or any of the other millions of things that I worry are wrong with it. I'm sorry that I suck at updating, and I'm sorry if it takes me another twenty years to chug out another chapter. I'm hoping that's not the case, but you know how it goes...
I honestly think I wrote this and trashed it and rewrote it and trashed it, like, fifty times over. Good LORD, it was miserable.
Conclusion: everything I do is awful, but I still hope you enjoy this chapter. I can assure you that I really, really didn't.
Oh, and I wanted to add how fucking grateful I am to those of you who add this to your favorites/follows, and especially to those of you who review. ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO REVIEW. Your words turn my heart into a tiny ball of sunshine and sugar. Seriously. You all make me smile in the most wonderful ways, and I love all of your beautiful faces.
Alright. Now that that's been said... To the chapter!
Daxter woke with his face plastered to the pillow. A dark green blanket was tugged partway down his bony frame, leaving sharp shoulder blades vulnerable to the cool air. One thin leg extended behind him and poked out from under the blanket, while the other was curled near his hip. Spindly arms hugged the pillow beneath his head, holding it tightly against him.
It was extremely comfortable, and Daxter would've loved nothing more than to stay there for a few centuries. There was only one problem—namely, someone's hand jolting his shoulder into consciousness, and dragging the rest of his body with it.
Daxter groaned, grinding his face into the fabric, unknowingly savoring its familiar, plantlike scent; he shifted against the mattress, body tensing to stretch muscles that had remained idle for what felt like several hours. The familiar chuckle of a certain blonde rumbled behind him, and an automatic smile rose to his cheeks.
"Heya," Daxter mumbled with a lazy grin, settling back into the mattress without looking up.
"Hey," Jak answered behind him, a smile in his voice. "Have a nice sleep?"
"Mm," the ginger responded. He probably should've asked what was up—he knew Jak wouldn't have woken him without a good reason. But if Daxter always did what he should've done, he wouldn't have joined the Underground, now would he? Exactly.
So Daxter, being the badass rebel that he was, instead made a little performance of going right back to sleep, yawning and curling up in the blanket and, most importantly, blatantly ignoring all of Jak's attempts to rouse him—because where was the fun in being compliant?
Jak tried to coax him back to consciousness for another moment or two before there was a halt, a hesitation, and yep, he was definitely catching on. A snort rumpled the silence, and it was all Daxter could do not to flash a shit-eating grin over his shoulder. He shifted his hips, nuzzling the pillow—an obvious challenge, he thought, that clearly said, Whatcha gonna do about it?
"Fine," came the quiet chuckle. "I'll play your game."
And as quickly as it had manifested, Daxter's smugness was swept aside, banished by Jak's suddenly very evil, sleep-thwarting hand. It quickly changed tactics, becoming much more conniving, much more insidious, and much more mischievous, sneaking from Daxter's shoulder to the nape of his neck and spidering down his spine with sinister intent. Finger tips ghosted across the planes of his back, tracing intricate patterns that twisted Daxter's gut and lured shivers from his skin; cruel digits lingered every now and again to prod and tease in sensitive places, making the former pickpocket tense and jerk and shiver in all kinds of horrible ways.
"Daxter," Jak cooed, barely audible and much too close to the redhead's ear, making it flick and twitch; a sharp tremor hurtled down his spine. Jak chuckled, dragging a finger slowly up his vertebrae. "Daaaxter… Come on, now… Wake up…"
Daxter fought back the urge to whimper, knowing full well that it would only encourage the blonde. Not that it really mattered; Jak seemed perfectly content to torture his small friend for as long as was necessary. The blonde blew in his ear and over the back of his neck, fixing every hair on Daxter's body in the upright and locked position; it took all of Daxter's will power not to squirm right out of his skin. Muscles twitched as Jak switched from teasing Daxter's spine to raking his nails over defenseless sides, mercilessly trying to break the smaller boy into a giggle, a yelp, anything that would prove that he was a perfectly conscious, rotten little shit.
Daxter, for his part, was struggling to regulate his breath but valiantly holding out when suddenly, a little spike of concern constricted his chest; it occurred to him, with a pang of mortification, that all this excess contact was starting to have certain… pronounced effects on his body. Oh precursors. They were on the highway to Bonerville, with no pit stops in sight, and that was a very bad thing.
Shit, he thought, his entire body seizing up in an attempt to control its automatic responses. This was not happening. This was going to stop right fucking now because this was not what he had intended to happen. Sure, he was asking to get his ass whooped as soon as he instigated this little competition, but humiliation of that variety sounded like a little more than he'd bargained for.
It was going to be fine though, because he could handle this. He knew how to play it down, right? Sure, no problem. He would just be a little snot about it, like he always was. It was simple. Easy, even. Like candy from a baby.
Except not, because holy shit was it starting to feel good.
Fuckin' precursors. Why the hell do I get myself into this shit?
He took a deep breath, preparing to act as though he'd only just returned to consciousness—wha? Jak? Is that you?—when an unexpected squeeze to the flesh just above his hip made Daxter yelp and roll onto his back, kicking his legs and trying to wriggle out of reach.
A hand clamped over his mouth as Jak shushed him, barely suppressing his own chuckles; his eyes flicked about, alert and mirthful. Several groans and irritated grumbles drifted though the Underground as rebels turned in their sleep, disturbed by the outburst. Daxter held still, shoulders tense, staring into the darkness; Jak's ears flicked alertly. They anxiously awaited the fierce and groggy scolding of a few dozen tired soldiers.
But the scolding never came. A minute passed, snores resumed, and the two of them breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief, tension easing from their bodies.
Jak looked down at Daxter, an impish grin unfurling across his lips; his eyes glinted with the childish thrill of narrowly escaped, but well-deserved punishment. Daxter rolled his eyes at the expression, trying his damnedest to be annoyed.
"That was your fault," he hissed as soon as Jak released his mouth, desperately trying to wrestle down the grin that fought for dominance over his pointed glare.
Jak shrugged, making no effort to look at all shame-faced; he just continued to smile, and Daxter could feel his anger slipping away, damn it all to hell. Jak was a big cheater, using that smile. It reeked of fondness and playfulness and all sorts of other fluffy-feeling-nesses that Daxter wasn't sure if he loved or hated, but he definitely didn't approve of. Jak had no right to smile like that, and Daxter had no business being so affected by it. No sir.
With an irritated growl, he forced his thoughts to safer subjects—for example, what time it might be, and what was for dinner. Just as he was about to ask, his stomach interrupted him, unleashing a ferocious growl.
"I thought you might be hungry," Jak commented in a hushed tone, poking Daxter's torso with a smirk.
Daxter jerked away from him, scowling. "Ya got somethin' for me, or did ya wake me up purely for the entertainment value?"
"Purely for entertainment," Jak answered with a devious smirk. Daxter flipped him off with a little curl of his lip, making the rebel chuckle. "There's soup in the kitchen," he amended.
"That's what I thought," Daxter snipped, sliding off the bed. He tugged the blanket after him and draped it around his shoulders like a cape, sticking his nose up haughtily. Jak smirked as he followed, shaking his head. The two of them prowled silently through the gently-snoring barracks, past a crackling fireplace and a log of an unconscious commander.
The kitchen was a junkyard of dirty dishes and rusty silverware, all illuminated by one dim eco lamp that teetered over the counter. The pot of stew on the stove had literally been licked clean by the ravenous rebels that inhabited the Underground, making it looked like the countertop had been hit by a pack of lurkers.
"Soup?" Daxter asked, glancing hopelessly at the mess. Jak moved to the far corner of the room, reaching over the idle stove and into a cupboard, from which he retrieved a mug and chunk of bread. He handed it to Daxter, who was pleased to discover that it was still warm, and they each took a stool at the counter.
Jak sat quietly while Daxter ate, slurping noisily and munching on the stale bread. The blonde leaned forward on the counter, tracing patterns on its surface with the tip of his finger. Daxter watched as he nursed his meal, transfixed by the motion, thoughts simmering quietly.
"I had this dream that I was some ferrety orange rodent," he announced, staring at Jak's fingers thoughtfully. "And I was ridin' around on yer shoulder while ya fought metalheads. But then we went down to the port and I had ta disarm a bunch of bombs floatin' on the water, but they were Krew's bombs, and he was all mad, and I couldn't swim, so ya put me in yer boot and sent me out in that. And Torn was there. He kept callin' me street rat an' laughing at his own dumb joke."
Jak snorted, drawing Daxter's focus away from his hand. He studied the blonde's profile for nearly a full minute, and then blue eyes flicked to his, accompanied by a little smirk.
"Doing alright?" Jak asked, raising an emerald brow.
Daxter jumped a little; he hadn't realized he was staring. "Huh? Oh. Yeah, I'm great. Haven't felt this good in a… while, actually…" His brow furrowed as he spoke. Suddenly, the events from the night before came rushing back—or stumbling back, rather. It was still all kind of fuzzy.
Still, whoa. Daxter's eyes widened as he reached up to touch his shoulder, finding it as flawless as the day he was born. How in the flippin' hell had Jak done that? Was that… eco-channeling? Like, mythological eco-sage crap that happened to be exactly like the bedtime stories Daxter was raised on? Shit, he hadn't believed in those since he was maybe ten…
Was Jak some sort of fictional character come true? Should Daxter be scared of him?
No, his brain instantly supplied. Jak had never done anything to hurt him. He'd never been anything but a hero to the redhead, and he was not about to go and be a jerk to him just because he had some extra funk up his sleeve—even if it was a little freaky.
"Hey, uh… Thanks," he said, awkwardly setting his empty mug to the side with a quiet thunk, metal spoon clinking against the inside of the ceramic dish. "Ya know, fer earlier. With the eco, 'n' stuff." He shrugged, swirling his hands descriptively through the air.
Jak's expression faltered as he watched Daxter speak, eyes scanning the nervous body language. His brow twitched, mouth turning down at the corners, and looked back down a little too intentionally. "No problem," he answered flatly.
Daxter watched, confused, as irritation seemed to slip into Jak's demeanor. "Uh… Ya sure?"
Jak glanced up, seeming surprised by the comment. "Huh?"
Daxter gestured at him. "Seems kinda like a problem," he remarked blatantly.
Jak frowned, and stared at the tabletop, eyes hard and bitter. "Is it?" he asked.
"Is it a problem?"
"Is what a problem?" Daxter asked, slipping fast into utter exasperation.
"What I did."
Daxter frowned. "What you…" His eyes widened, and he glanced down at his bare chest, a fountain of heat rushing under his skin. "Did you do something?" he asked nervously.
Jak's brow lowered, his eyes widened, his mouth opened. "I—we… you don't remember?"
"I remember you healing me, but not…" Daxter gulped, floundering for one, two, three seconds. "What did you do!?" he finally spat out, staring at Jak in horror.
"Nothing!" the blonde responded, holding his hands out defensively. "No, I just meant the healing!"
"Well why the hell would that be a problem!?" Daxter asked, shaking his head in disbelief.
"No—just—if I freaked you out or something, is all I meant," Jak mumbled awkwardly, looking away. "Nevermind. It's fine."
Silence pervaded the room for several heart beats.
"Ya seriously think I'm scared of you because yer some kind of crazy-ass eco wizard guy?"
Jak flinched. "I just thought… you seemed"—
"Like I was nervous 'cause I was tryin' ta be sincere?" Daxter rolled his eyes. "Sheesh, Mr. Touchy. Pardon me fer bein' a little awkward, but I don't got a whole lotta reasons ta thank anybody besides you, so it's kinda new territory." He looked away, brow creased in a frown. "Thanks fer the reaction, though. Way to freak me out an' think somethin' happened, an' I don't even get to remember what. Don't worry, I won't try that again."
Jak stared, baffled. He looked down for a moment, frowning, then back up. "So," he mumbled, peering at Daxter intently. "You're not mad at me?"
Daxter scoffed. "Oh no, I'm definitely mad at ya."
Jak rolled his eyes, the corner of his mouth tucking back into his cheek. "Okay, but you're not scared of me?"
Daxter thought about it for a moment, fingering his chin. He threw Jak a suspicious glare.
"Healing's all ya did, right?"
Jak raised his eyebrows and nodded slowly, a smile creeping across his face.
"No embarrassing naked photos?"
Jak shook his head. "No."
"No writin' on my back?"
"Didn't let Jinx have his way with me?"
"No!" Jak shouted with a wrinkled nose.
"No inappropriate lookin' or touchin' of any kind?"
Jak opened his mouth—and snapped it shut, smirking slightly. He shrugged. "Not much," he teased.
Daxter ignored the snake of excitement that coiled through his belly and the grin that was trying to force his way across his mouth, willing it to fall open in mock horror. "Oh my god."
Jak laughed, reaching a placating hand toward the redhead. "I'm kidding Daxt"—
"Back, fiend!" He snatched a wooden spoon off the table, brandishing it like a sword. The grin pushed its way through, challenging the blonde.
Jak's eyes glinted mischievously, and he lunged at the redhead with a playful growl. Daxter yelped, turning on his heel a second too late. A hand wrapped around his arm and whipped him back; strong arms wrapped around his torso and lifted him off the ground, flipping the redhead's small frame over Jak's shoulder.
"Unhand me!" Daxter squawked dramatically, jabbing the handle of the spoon into Jak's spine.
"Ow!" the blonde barked, nearly dropping Daxter on his head as a kicking foot smacked his face. "Hey!" His grip slipped again as he grabbed for an ankle, and they both went crashing to the floor in a pile of blanket and limbs. "Dax!" Jak sputtered. "Cut it out!"
But Daxter kept jabbing him, squalling with what was fifty percent war-cry and fifty percent overly-enthusiastic-laughter. He was giddy from excitement—how long had it been since he'd gotten the opportunity to just let loose and play? He'd barely had the opportunity as a child, since he'd had so little contact with other kids his age. Daxter had been forced to grow up, fast, and that had left him with an unshakable sensation that he'd missed out on something—namely, this.
Jak rolled them so that he loomed over the redhead, pinning him to the floor. The blanket/cape was slipping off his shoulders and leaving his pale chest bare and heaving with giggles, but Daxter couldn't be bothered to care at that moment. Jak snatched the spoon from his hand and held it under his nose, a vengeful snarl twisting his features.
"Quit. Stabbing. Me," he ordered.
Daxter looked up innocently, pursing his lips. "Who, me?" Jak smacked the spoon against the smaller boy's forehead, and Daxter flashed an impertinent grin. "That all ya got?"
The blonde's eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth. "You're"—
"WHAT THE FUCK."
Both their heads snapped to the doorway where Torn stood, expression livid, auburn dreadlocks disheveled from sleep. Jak scrambled away from Daxter, who sat up with a sheepish grin. They both hurried to their feet, brushing themselves off.
"I cannot believe I have to put up with this shit," their commander snarled, face contorted with rage. "It is three in the fucking morning. If you two want to fuck on the kitchen floor, then wait till we can all watch you, or find a different kitchen." He turned on his heel and stomped away, muttering a string of curses under his breath.
Jak and Daxter glanced at each other, embarrassment coloring each of their cheeks. Daxter's mouth twisted into a grin; Jak pressed a finger to his lips and nodded toward the exit. The redhead nodded, and they snuck through the Underground, grabbing their boots and gear along the way.
They stumbled into the crisp night air, tripping over damp cobblestone with bare feet. Daxter dropped his boots and gun and began the process of yanking a bloodstained sleeveless over his ears.
"Holy sheesh it's cold out here," he whined through gritted teeth, grabbing his maroon tunic from where he held it between his knees and plunging an arm through the sleeve.
Jak grinned as he teetered on the ball of his foot, shoving the other into a steel-toed boot. "Better than being murdered by Torn," he said breathlessly, deftly switching feet.
"Not if I get hypothermia an' die," Daxter argued, plopping down on a cotton-clad butt and tugging his boots on. "At least I get to be feel all fuzzy and warm inside if Torn kills me."
Jak snorted as he finished slinging his web of belts and metal over his chest, and quickly propped his goggles on his forehead before tucking his gun and jetboard into their respective holders. He reached a hand out to Daxter, tugging the redhead to his feet. "It's not that cold," he chided.
"Says the one with some kinda meat on his bones," Daxter retorted, jabbing a muscular chest.
"Ow," Jak commented, rubbing at the spot, before leaning down and grabbing Daxter's discarded weaponry off the ground. He lifted the gunstrap over Daxter's head, gently placing it around the teen's shoulders.
Daxter smacked at his hands, frowning in embarrassment. "I can do it myself," he grumbled, adjusting the strap aggressively.
Jak took a step back, hands held up in surrender. "Sorry," he responded with a smirk.
Daxter nodded sternly, ginger eyebrows furrowing as he placed goggles over them. "Right," he said. "So. What the hell are we doin'?"
Jak shrugged, a pleasant smile lifting his features as he glanced towards the alley entrance. "Finding a place to crash?" he suggested.
Daxter raised an eyebrow. "Yer tired?"
Jak yawned in response, ears shifting backwards as his mouth stretched and his nose wrinkled. Daxter had to wrestle down a goofy grin, banishing unmanly words like 'adorable' and 'precious' from his mind.
"Yeah," Jak finally answered after expelling the last of the yawn. "I haven't been to bed yet."
Daxter frowned. "Why not?"
"I was guarding your food," Jak answered simply, striding towards the square.
Daxter stared for a moment before scampering after him. "Ya didn't have ta do that," he said sheepishly.
Jak shot him a sideways grin. "Also, you were in my bed."
Daxter scoffed rolling his eyes. "Whatever," he answered. "Yer not getting me on that one. It wouldn't kill ya to be on top for once, ya know."
Jak raised his eyebrows, and heat whipped across Daxter's cheeks before he even registered what he'd said.
"Uh… Of the bunk, I meant… The top of the…" He glared at the grin that was spreading across Jak's face. "Ya know what I meant!" he squawked before casting his eyes to the ground, scowling through his embarrassment. "Sheesh, ya big pervert."
Jak chuckled, watching as the redhead tried to sink into his boots. "At least you're feeling better," he commented, a hint of amusement still tinting his voice.
"Huh? Oh, yeah. By about a hundred million," Daxter answered, reaching up to massage his once-ruined shoulder. "How long was I out?"
"Since around seven," Jak informed. "Five or six hours."
"Yikes," he breathed, cringing a little. "Sorry about that."
Jak shrugged, still smiling peacefully. "It's fine," he answered.
Daxter nodded, feeling the need to fill the silence. "Sooo," he said conversationally, glancing up at the taller man. "What was that all about, with the eco shit 'n all that?"
Jak smirked. "You might need to be a little more specific."
"Well, where'd ya learn ta do it?"
Jak tilted his head back, looking at the sky for a few thoughtful seconds. "There's an old man," he said vaguely. Daxter waited for him to continue, but he didn't.
"A-huh," the thief responded eventually, nodding with raised eyebrows. "What a story."
"Shut up," the blonde responded with a grin, punching Daxter's shoulder playfully.
Daxter grinned for a minute before pressing for more information. "So why'd you get all… nyeh about it?" he asked, making an unpleasant face and gesturing with his fingers to accentuate the negative connotation of his brilliant word choice.
Jak smirked. "Nyeh?"
"Nyeh," Daxter confirmed with a decisive nod.
Jak sighed, smile faltering, gaze slipping to his feet with a small frown. "Some people just don't like it," he answered darkly.
Daxter snorted. "Why? It was frickin' amazing."
The blonde shrugged, kicking at a loose stone in their path. "It can be dangerous."
"Dangerous, like putting doctors out of the job dangerous?" Daxter joked, trying to catch his friend's eye. Why was Jak so beat up about this? So people were jealous, but the big tough rebel didn't listen to them, did he?
"Dax," Jak warned, looking away.
"What?" he snapped defensively, suddenly irritated by the avoidant behavior—he and Jak were closer than this, damn it! "Listen Jak, I don't care what any idiot says"—
"Dax," Jak hissed again, hand coming up to wrap around the redhead's bicep as he glared in the same direction as before. "KG."
Daxter's eyes snapped up, taking in three, shiny red mecha-suits. "Oh shit," he winced, and then he was getting tugged after Jak.
The blonde's eyes snapped about frantically, looking for a place to hide before the guards spotted them. He zeroed in on a narrow fissure in the wall, little more than a foot wide and just as shallow, tapering to a mere inch as it reached the ground.
"C'mon," Jak ordered, dragging the smaller man after him.
When Daxter saw their intended destination, a coil of reluctance formed in his stomach. "Jak, I don't think we'll both fit"—
"Shut up," Jak ordered, spinning Daxter around and holding a hand against his yelping, objecting mouth before slamming their chests together and sliding into the crevice.
It was a tight fit, to say the least.
Oh dear. Proximity, you sly dog.
Anyway... Hopefully the next chapter will be more fun, and, with any luck, a lot easier for me to write. I'm not thinking this fic will be very long or serious-just a bit of entertainment for the fandom, if I can provide it-so expect smut in the fairly near future.
That is, if I can make myself write the next chapter at all.
Also, feel free to let me know if you spot any horrible errors in here. Or don't. Who knows if my fragile self-esteem can take it, but I do want to improve, so... It's up to you, whether or not you want to point out the atrocities of my writing.
In the meantime, let's all cheer for one of my favorite authors, the amazing sillynekorobs. I will look forward to the next Room and Board update for all of eternity, if I have to. If you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out.