'ello, poppets. it's my first submission, yay! for some odd reason, i've been possessed over the past couple of months by a desire to do jak series fanstuff. this means a sudden flurry of fanart for da (visit my page at iamymai. and an insatiable need to write the entire storyline of jak II with my own twist. a main purpose of this fanfic is to explore the characters and their relationships with one another, in particular jak and keira. i'm a strong advocate of the j/k pairing, and i hated jak 3 for screwing with it (although it was still a fun game).

so, we're starting between the first and second game. there's some j/k mush and i suck at writing dialogue, especially for daxter, so be nice. the rating will start low, but i can guarantee mature conent in later chapters, so that'll change.

so then, get some popcorn, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Those Magic Changes

Before Our World Turns Upside Down

A warm, gentle breeze played through the air carrying a tang of salt and seaweed. Dew sprinkled the soft, green grass and glistened in the morning sun as yakows grazed and periodically emitted low grunts when they breakfasted on an unsatisfactory patch. The plodding clip-clop of six inch wooden sandals sounded as a little green man emerged from the second story of a round hut sitting atop an island. Clasping his hands behind his back, the old man inhaled deeply, relishing the freshness of the morning.

His reverie broke at the sound of a large crash below followed by a yelp of pain.

"JAK! Watch where you drop that Precursor crap! You wanna kill me?"

Samos the Sage growled. The loud outburst had completely shattered the morning's bubble of serenity. Stepping to the edge of the wrap-around balcony, Samos glared down at the pair.

The source of noise stood about two-and-a-half feet tall and was covered ear to toe in bright orange fur. Gloved hands rested on his furry hips, and silver-tipped chin clasps dangled from a pilot cap and goggles on his head. He continued gesticulating and yelling at his significantly taller companion, causing Samos to grind his teeth in irritation.

Said companion responded to his friend's remonstrations with an amused grin. A wild spray of gravity-defying blonde hair with green roots spiked up from the youth's head, and big blue eyes sat in the center of his innocent face. A blue tunic clothed his slightly awkward body, and goggles rested on his forehead. One would hardly guess that this gawky teenager had saved the world from certain doom just two days ago.

Running out from the first floor beneath Samos, a girl joined the two and clapped her hands excitedly when she saw the sizable load they had just finished carting. Petite and curvy, her attire consisted of a white halter and maroon capris. Shoulder length green-blue tresses blew around her face, haloing sharp green eyes. Samos smiled warmly at the sight of her. However, his contented expression was soon replaced by a feeling of dread. He would have a mere few weeks more to enjoy the lazy peace of Sandover Village before events far beyond his control would be set in motion. Samos glanced first at the girl and then the boy with knowing eyes – eyes filled with regret.

After the girl dealt out instructions, the boys turned and began trudging wearily away. Samos chuckled to himself at the thought of the small one being flattened by one of the hunks of metal they would be carrying back.

"Jak, how many more dumb trips do we have to make up this junk-heap? I'm gettin' sick of all this heavy lifting!" Jak shook his head, considering as to how he was the one who really did all the work—not that he minded. The only thing that did bother him was his friend's continuous and incessant complaints. Having just climbed back up through Gol and Maia's Citadel for the third time that day, Daxter was more than a little irritated. The ottsel sat on Jak's shoulder as they rode the blue eco platform down to the few remaining pieces of the Precursor ring, ranting about the injustice of their task and blaming it all on Samos. Jak determinedly ignored Daxter and lightly jumped on top of the tower.

Jak walked over to what was left of the Precursor ring and happily noted that this would be their last hauling trip. He was physically exhausted, and the low angle of the sun seemed to be urging him to his waiting bed. Taking a rope woven from yakow hair off his belt, he began tying several pieces together. Having made several trips a day for the past three days, Jak had become well practiced in efficiently tying tight knots. His uncle would most likely try and commandeer his newfound skill and "volunteer" Jak as a porter for one of his many adventures.

Daxter walked over to the last small section and bodily dragged it over to Jak. The ottsel would simply hang onto it while riding Jak's shoulder, therefore making him do the work. Daxter jumped onto his back, causing an unprepared Jak to fall to his knees with an "oof".

"Boy, you're lucky to have such a dependable buddy like me, huh Jak," The elf in question raised a skeptical eyebrow at his companion and hoisted the bound up pieces of the Precursor ring. Just as he did so, a tiny motion caught his eye, and looking at the floor below his burden he saw something catch the light as it bounced out from a piece of Precursor ring. Dropping his pack and straightening up – which caused Daxter to fall off his shoulder with a curse – Jak ran after the object and caught it just before it sprung over the edge and down to the forest below.

Bringing his arm in to his body, Jak brought his closed fist up close to his face before carefully opening it. He grunted in surprise at the sight of it.

"Jaaaaak!" hearing Daxter's irritated voice, he speedily tucked the item into a pouch hanging from his belt, "What the hell are ya tryin' to do? Are you an' Big Green plotting against me, or what?" Jak turned to the glaring rodent and smiled apologetically. "What, like you smilin' is gonna make me feel better?" Kneeling so he was at eye level with Daxter, Jak made the most imploring puppy eyes he could manage. Daxter's eyes widened. "Hey, stop that! Don't give me that look," he tried to act miffed, but the façade soon cracked when Jak very slightly puffed out his lower lip and completed the very picture of a pitiful youth.

Daxter relinquished, "Fine then, I'll forgive you this time. Just remember I'm still the stud of the duo." Licking his paw, the ottsel slicked back his ears and struck an "I'm too sexy" pose.

Jak rolled his eyes, but grinned despite himself. Helping Daxter onto his shoulder and once again lifting the Precursor ring bundle, he jumped back onto the blue eco platform and the two were on their way.

Keira paced around her lab, impatiently awaiting Jak and Daxter's return. She was itching to begin reassembling the Precursor ring, but the boys had had to take it apart starting at the top, so the pieces necessary to start with and the last to arrive were the base.

Trying to calm her jumpy nerves, Keira sat down on a stool with a dull thud and tried to sit still, but she was soon drumming her small fingers on the tabletop. Whenever Precursor technology was involved, the mechanic in her was barely containable.

Making another attempt at calming down, Keira took a deep breath and tried to think of something else. Unfortunately, that meant her thoughts turned to the hero of the hour. Despite how obviously they were attracted to each other, Keira was still unsure of Jak's real feelings towards her. The boy had a propensity for blowing hot and cold, and the two never seemed in an appropriate setting to figure anything out. And whether "figuring anything out" was verbal or something else, interruptions never failed to occur. When the two had tried to kiss atop Gol and Maia's Citadel, Daxter told them to "put it on ice."

Keira sighed, remembering the moment. The combination of intensity and tenderness had taken her completely by surprise. There had been a certain underlying urgency in Jak's eyes, understandable when one considered how the two only had as long as everyone's attention was elsewhere and had never managed to do anything before.

But, the moment had been broken, and since then Jak acted awkwardly around her. Keira wondered if it was possible to ever get the moment back when she heard Daxter's voice. Completely forgetting her concerns, Keira ran to greet them and begin examining the last sections of the Precursor ring.

Seeing her coming towards them, Daxter struck a cool-guy pose and said, "Hey, baby! Whaddya say to givin' the lifting ottsel a big smackaroo?" Daxter puckered up, and Keira obligingly smacked him with a strong backhand. "HEY!"

Ignoring him, Keira walked over to Jak's bundle and happily exclaimed, "I can't believe you got the whole ring moved in just three days!" She began running her hands over the smooth metal and untying the knots. Fumbling, Keira noted that Jak's knots had become increasingly more difficult to undo. She frowned, knowing today was no different.

Suddenly, Jak was on the other side of the bundle helping her untie the knots. He did so with ease and was reaching for another one when he accidentally brushed Keira's hand. He hastily pulled it away and went for a different knot.

Keira stood and studied the expression on his face. He remained determinedly focused on his task. She left him to finish unloading the ring sections with a sigh, thinking that maybe she had lost her chance with Jak and the moment was gone forever.

She noticed with a small level of satisfaction that his ears were tipped pink in a blush.

Keira ran into her lab and shortly returned with a tool bag. Now it was time for what she had been waiting for: reassembling the Precursor ring.

Keira worked furiously for several weeks, enchanted with her project. A small work table had been moved outside and stood beside the Precursor ring. After only the first day of work, the table was littered with various sketches and blueprints, drafting tools, nuts and bolts, and remnants of the day's meals. She frequently forgot to eat or stayed up too late, but that hardly fazed her. Samos worried over her health and even Jak tried to get her to rest more, but Keira would not be swayed. The forces of creation were pulsing in her mechanic's veins, and she had no intention of slowing her break-neck pace.

In the beginning, Keira did the work entirely by herself, but as she got further along and the ring loomed higher and higher off the ground she got the boys to do the grunt work. Jak would generally be the one to get the basics in place, and then Daxter would do some of the more delicate work and temporarily attach sections of the ring just long enough for Keira to get to them. On several occasions, this meant a nasty fall and a bruise. In one such incident, Daxter slipped, Jak caught him by the tail and in-so-doing lost his grip, and both came crashing down to the waiting grass.

Jak needed some minor first-aid but acted undaunted and waved at his cuts and bruises like they were nothing.

Daxter had sustained only a tiny bruise but moaned like a sick yakow in an effort to get doctored up by Keira.

After three weeks the Precursor ring was complete. Keira was making some minor adjustments when Jak sans Daxter came up behind her and tapped her on the back. She was so completely absorbed in the task at hand that she hadn't even heard him walk up and gave a small screech of surprise when she felt his touch. "Oh, Jak! It's you," She mentally slapped herself for sounding so lame. "Uh… what are you doing here?"

He gestured to the Precursor ring towering over them with a questioning look, and she read his meaning easily, "Yup, It's finally done! We'll be able to test it out tomorrow." She couldn't help but giggle slightly in anticipation, but quickly tried to stifle it, unsuccessfully. Again berating herself, she put on a neutral expression and looked at Jak. She was confused to see a broad grin on his face and a warm twinkle in his eye. "What? What's so funny?" He raised a big finger and tapped her forehead. She blushed and stammered, "No, you're the one who's funny, acting so weird." He crossed his arms and continued smiling at her.

She straightened up, "Stop making fun of me. You know how I am when it comes to stuff like this," she waved her hand at the Precursor ring and machine in illustration, "Anyway, what do you want?" In answer, Jak pointed at the sun and lowered his arm until it was pointing below the horizon and then deliberately gestured at Keira, himself, and the ground beneath their feet.

"You want me to meet you here after sunset?" He nodded.

"What for?" He put a finger to his lips, as if to say it was a secret.

Having gotten his point across, Jak waved to Keira before turning and heading back down the bridge to the village looking as happy as a crocadog about to chomp down on an elusive bone.

She put her hands on her hips and stared after him with a wondering expression. She shook her head and was about to turn away when her eyes traveled down his body and watched the sway of his hips as he walked. A ripple of desire washed through her body, and she abruptly returned to her work.

Later that evening, the stars were beginning to show, and she was still tinkering when Jak showed up. Noticing his approach, she quickly dropped her tools and reached for a cloth to mop herself up. Once finished, she turned to face Jak. As soon as he stepped off the second bridge he froze and stared at her. His mouth opened slightly, and then a smile crept up his face. Jak soon was bending over and shaking trying to keep himself from laughing.

Wondering what the hell could be so amusing and starting to feel upset, Keira was about to demand what was wrong when she looked down. To her horror, she was covered in oil and machine grime. Attention snapping back to her work table, she saw that the cloth she had mopped herself with was a filthy rag she had been using on the Precursor ring.

At the expression on her face, Jak was barely able to contain his laughter. Keira began frantically searching for a clean rag, with little success. She was starting to feel like crying when Jak walked up, grabbed a cloth hidden beneath a stack of drafts, and gently wiped the oil off her skin, no hint of laughter in his face now. He was trying to apologize.

Keira took a shaky breath before saying, "It's okay, Jak. Thanks," and she tried to take the cloth. However, Jak was determined to finish the job and gave her a slightly stern look before continuing. Keira sighed in defeat and instead settled for enjoying Jak cleaning her up.

Once he was done, he threw the cloth onto the work table, grinned at her, and walked away, cocking his head for her to follow.

Keira was somewhat surprised that Daxter was nowhere in sight, but decided not to say anything. The two walked down into the village. The windows were lit by warm candles and fires within, casting an orange, cheery light while the sky burned black and blue.

"Jak, where are we going?" Keira asked the elf in front of her, who abruptly stopped and almost caused her to run into him.

Turning around, Jak reassuringly took her hand in his and smiled as if to promise her she would like it. Slightly confused and more than a little curious, Keira returned the smile and let him lead her forward. The pair walked on in silence under the star peppered sky and listened as the night came alive. Crickets chirped noisily and blades of grass rustled in the wind. The ocean waves undulated over the white sand, whispering a rhythmic lullaby, a silver thread of sound that wove a bass line through the music of the night.

Keira briefly closed her eyes and enjoyed nature's midnight symphony, feeling totally at peace. Happy to be where she was, she returned her attention to Jak. Looking at his back, Keira felt a wave of giddiness wash over her, noticing how warm his big hand felt around hers. They were all alone…

Passing the farmer's house and taking a left, the two headed up to the entrance to Fire Canyon. Gently pulling her to the left wall of the entrance, Jak released her hand and began climbing up through a narrow and easily overlooked crevasse in the rock. Really interested as to their destination now, Keira eagerly climbed up after him. After thirty feet or so, the crevasse expanded into a small ledge. Stepping up onto it, Keira looked around and saw Jak scaling a stair-like rock formation that hugged the cliff face. She followed, and just when she was wondering how much longer the climb could possibly go on, she found herself standing at the top of the cliffs overlooking Sandover Village and the ocean beyond. The roofs below gleamed in the nightglow, and Samos' lit up hut shone like a beacon. Sentinel Beach, the Forbidden Jungle, and even Misty Island far in the distance were all visible, bathed in starlight. Keira could dimly hear the sound of waves below and the taste of salt lingered in the air.

The view was breathtaking.

Jak grinned at her proudly, and she stared at him incredulously. "How on earth did you find this place?"

The mute shrugged noncommittally, implying he just happened to stumble on it one day, but continued grinning happily.

Keira beamed at him. "It's absolutely beautiful," she said, sitting down and leaning against a rock. Jak sat down beside her with an excited gleam in his eyes and pointed down towards the village. Keira understood his gesture with ease. "I know. I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight knowing tomorrow's the big test day. Can you believe it's been just three weeks since we started assembling the Precursor ring?" He shook his head in answer and was still.

The pair sat side by side in companionable silence for a time, watching the stars in the sky and listening to the waves in the ocean. Yet Keira felt herself grow more and more antsy with each passing moment. One reason was the close proximity of Jak to herself. She could hear his soft even breath and feel the heat of his body next to hers. She wondered if Jak would ever know how much he confused her. Despite her vivacious personality, Keira found it difficult to express more complex emotions, such as what she felt for Jak. She wasn't really even sure of what she felt for him, but she knew it was something meaningful.

She decided to discuss the other issue bugging her. "What do you think is going to happen tomorrow, Jak?"

He shrugged.

"To be honest, I'm a little bit scared to find out. Maybe something incredible will happen. Maybe our names will go down in history for what we discover," hearing the tone in her voice, Jak looked at her now, "or maybe not. Maybe something awful will happen, and we'll be to blame for some terrible disaster," she exhaled, "Anything can happen if the Precursors are involved."

Her heart skipped a beat when she felt Jak's calloused fingers cup her chin. Raising her head up, he gazed at her as a slight crease formed on his brow, saying "come on, this isn't the positive girl I know."

Keira sighed in agreement. "You're right. I'm being silly, and I really do want to test the machine tomorrow. It's just…" I'm afraid. She trialed off weakly.

Keira truly did want to turn on the machine and see what the Precursor ring would do. She was far too much of an experimental person not to. But over the past few days she had begun to have doubts. After all, this was Precursor technology, the most powerful and potentially dangerous force their planet had ever known, even more so than dark eco. What if something bad did happen? What if she was hurt in the process? What if Samos or Daxter or Jak was? What if she couldn't do anything to help them? What if she couldn't do anything at all?

Suddenly, gently, Jak's arm was around her, his rough hand resting on her shoulder, causing her breath to catch in her throat. He was so close she could smell his scent. She could feel the taught skin of his arm against her back. She could feel the beat of his heart.

If she wasn't aware of him before, she certainly was now.

Somewhat wide-eyed, Keira dared a glance up and found herself suddenly stunned, caught in the deep, blue depths of Jak's eyes. God, how she loved his eyes. He smiled again, a radiant smile that made Keira want to melt, and lightly squeezed her shoulder, as if to say "don't worry, I'll protect you." Reaching into his pocket, Jak withdrew a closed fist and held it out in front of Keira. Curious, she held her hand out and was astonished by what he dropped into it. A small, round object, no bigger than her pinky finger nail, fell into her open palm. Immediately a delicious warmth radiated from her hand out through her entire body, and she felt all her worry and stress wash away. The object glowed brightly, emitting a pure white light that lit their faces and the darkness beyond.

She gasped. "…A light eco crystal…"

Keira turned to face him. "Jak, I…" She found she could speak no more when she was again mesmerized by his eyes. They locked with hers and peered into the very depths of her soul, searching for an answer to an unspoken question. He smiled hopefully, and it occurred to Keira how incredibly lucky Jak was to have obtained a substance as incredibly rare as light eco twice, much less a permanent crystallized version. And the fact that he would choose to give it to her rather than keep it for himself… The enormity of such a gift was staggering, and Keira found herself at a loss for words. Her eyes widened a touch more when Jak, looking thoroughly confused and unsure, leaned in closer to her. His face was just inches from hers, his incredible eyes still asking the same question. The only words she could manage were a soft, "Thank you…" before their lips met and she answered him.

such puppy love... i prefer more complex romance. later, it'll come later.

well, the second chapter's mostly done, so i might be submitting it within the week. hopefully you can't wait to read more... cough, cough

i'm out of practice and i want your opinion, so please review!