Disclaimer: Not mine. The End.
This stemmed from something I often see where I work though it isn't going to impact your understanding of the story. More like an FYI for those who might be interested. There is a second part in the works because for me, Jak could never be this passive about something.
Comments are always welcome.
Never Gonna Catch Tomorrow
By, Nicole Silverwolf
It started as an overactive imagination. At least it felt that way to Sig. Little sleep and the endless racing was wreaking havoc on his equilibrium and he blamed the stress. It was easier than considering an alternative.
Certainly Jak hadn't taken notice of this new habit; and if Daxter's best friend didn't notice anything wrong, then he was almost certainly overreacting.
Bessie was taking a beating too and Sig spent nights working to keep his car in the best condition he could. Mostly that involved painful hours of tinkering with the engine, beating dents out of the roll cage and making constant adjustments to the alignment.
Kiera had offered to look it over multiple times, but the girl (while incredibly skilled with vehicles) was constantly overwhelmed by repair jobs. Jak was not a particularly defensive driver, and Razer had taken to lots of Peacemaker shots to regain his lead. Sig didn't even want to touch the Ashelin issue and how most of the damage could often be blamed on her "overzealous" attitude.
There was also an the irrational belief that it was his car, and that he knew it best. Regardless of the fact he'd nearly failed vehicle maintenance when he'd been a kid in Spargus.
But there was still that niggling doubt, always lingering in the corners of his mind he reserved for such introspection. Nearly an instinct.
The ottsel was getting a bit more...angular. Leaner if he'd been overweight, but if anything, he was already on the skinny side.
Daxter wasn't eating.
It was ridiculous to think that though. Sig saw him snack at the bar, and he was still drinking a little too much when they were out.
But just after Jak had been sabotaged, he started to toss it around again. Perhaps because it had been a sharp reminder of just how constant the threat on their lives was. Sig couldn't tell anyone why that night stuck out more than others, or why he'd suddenly seen through one of the most impressive ruses he'd ever come across. In the end he supposed it didn't matter.
Though they'd been provided with a racing garage and the best vehicles that orbs could buy, Krew had neglected (ironically) to budget almost anything towards food for his team.
Sig was sure the bastard was laughing in his grave.
So they had pooled resources as well as their meager talents and cooked communal meals almost every night. Rayne, Torn and Samos were reasonable cooks, certainly better than Sig, who'd learned to cook on a hotplate. Jak however had been banned from the kitchen if anything he was making involved heating or mixing more than two ingredients.
If meals weren't exactly exciting, they were filling and not the color and texture of burned rubber.
They didn't often eat together as a group, with Ashelin refusing to sit at the table with them, and Keira usually still out in the garage. If Torn raced he didn't eat afterwards, busy with attempting to salvage any kind of car from the wreak it usually became. Samos often took his meal with him to meditate and with no love lost between him and Daxter, meals were actually quieter when they didn't sit together. Jak was the most consistent other than Rayne and himself who actually sat at the metal slab that doubled as a conference table when necessary.
Even if everyone was in their own world, it was probably the most relaxed part of any given day. It wasn't something he got to do often in Spargus nowadays (being King saw to that) but family meals had been a staple of his childhood. His parents had insisted on it whenever either of their children were home. While this was far from family and home, there was something familiar about eating meals with these guys.
It was one of the good things about being here.
It had been a slip, Sig was sure of it.
As Daxter rambled, discussing finances of his bar back in Haven, food disappeared off the plate in a completely reasonable manner. But Sig grew immediately suspicious when he caught a glimpse of yakow steak expertly falling from the ottsel's plate to an expectant crocadog. One who had clearly taken to Daxter's routine judging by the way he intently followed him around all meal.
Over the years he'd known Daxter, he'd never been so careless with food. Two years of stealing scraps in Haven had taught Daxter the hard way. He didn't refuse food, nor waste it.
Sig didn't say anything that first night. After all, one slip wasn't a pattern or even a habit.
But after a week, what little it appeared Daxter did eat, had dwindled.
It was very late in any case, probably much too close to dawn for someone his age. Sig paused very briefly as passed the cars in the garage to contemplate how old that thought made him feel.
Wondered if he was asking for more selfish reasons, assuaging a guilt because he'd known Krew would try something, and had deliberately avoided the reading of the will. Because though he meant his words of friendship there was the frank fact that he would survive the end of this racing season while they all might not.
It didn't change the fact that something was going on with Daxter. Something was wrong.
Outside the door, said ottsel was perched on an overturned can, a bottle of something likely alcoholic cradled in his hands. Relaxed, possibly from the effects of a few such bottles, he was watching the ocean, easily visible from their place. The fall of light from the doorway cast sharp shadows, highlighting the bare beginnings of visible ridges on his back.
It made something twinge in the elder's gut.
"Evening Daxter. What're you doing up so late?" Sig settled down on a step next to the bucket, tipping the beer bottle he'd been nursing back and taking a swig.
Daxter didn't startle, a sign of either vigilance or what Sig was beginning to think might simply be exhaustion. He gave a ghost of a smile, slow like he had to think about it before he could do it.
"Drinkin' man. What's it look like? It's the best time to drink too. Nothing like a late night beverage before you go to bed."
Sig nodded agreement at that, holding up his golden bottle to match with Daxter's. They clinked together, glass on glass and both took another drink. Silence had never existed in Kras but they didn't add anything to the near constant hum of city for several minutes.
It was probably not the most tactful way to put it, but Sig would never master the art of diplomacy, no matter how long he commanded Spargus as its king.
So he got right to the point.
"Why haven't you eaten anything for the last couple weeks?"
Perhaps, if it had been Jak asking that question he'd have picked up on Daxter's more subtle moods. But as it was, Sig had never had many longterm conversations with the ottsel. When he'd seen Daxter in Haven, often stealing a freely offered lunch and sometimes staying near to eat it, Sig simply assumed he couldn't talk. Daxter had been skittish then, always tense and no other way. It had been difficult to contain his surprise when Jak had appeared that first time and the rat had mouthed off at Krew.
It took a few moments before Daxter pulled away from whatever he'd been staring at, taking another swig of the beer, still nonchalant. "What're you talkin' about? I've been eating. Samos is a terrible cook anyways, you didn't grow up with him as your daily chef. You might be able to tolerate it man, but no thanks for me. I'd rather get run over by Razer's car. That much green stuff can't be healthy for anyone."
Sig didn't respond. Blowing concerns off as nothing, was something Daxter did.
He reached out a hand--huge in comparison to Daxter on any day--and very lightly settled it on the ottsel's back. Even with only slight pressure Sig could feel what the precursor golden fur was hiding rather effectively. Evidence that demanded a more serious response.
Daxter shrugged out from under Sig's touch without seeming to be hasty about it. The ottsel wasn't stupid though, chances were that it had finally gotten a little too noticeable. Fidgeting for a moment, his eyes jumped to objects along the pier, and far distant to the horizon. Debating something internally, clearly cornered and found out. The response, when it came was earnest and on the verge of panic.
"You can't tell Jak."
"So what's going on then, that you won't tell the guy you spend most of your day with."
Daxter should have made a quip. Joked about how he wasn't an anorexic teenager starving himself for control or attention. But he didn't and that sobered Sig more than any argument, or witty back and forth could.
"It's the poison," he admitted hesitantly. "I try to eat...and I can't keep anything down. So, I just don't eat anything if I can get away with it. Not even this."
He shook the bottle, the heavy slosh proving that he'd been only pretending to drain the drink.
Sig tried to stop himself from drawing up a stricken expression. The ottsel glanced up from under a furrowed brow, blue eyes knowing and sharp. Daring the older man to pity him.
"Jak's got enough to worry about," his voice was thick, quiet, and angry, filled with old guilt. Sig couldn't fathom where it'd come from, only knew it was something that had long been festering inside the too tiny form.
"He doesn't need more coming from me."
There was a long pause, and multiple responses that Sig thought he should use to such a comment. How Jak probably already knew, how if it had taken him (at best a good friend) this long to figure it out, Jak must have figured out the moment he stopped eating.
In the end, cliché though it would sound, there wasn't a better way to put it.
"He's your friend Daxter. He isn't gonna think that man. You know that."
Daxter's response was quick and acidic even though he wasn't really mad.
"You haven't known him your whole life Sig, so you probably don't know as much as you'd think. He'd blame himself. He convinced us to come here; thought maybe Krew had had a change a heart." Daxter huffed, choking on a thick, sour laugh.
Sig wanted to say something, reassure the young man, refute what he'd said. But there were truths to his words and really if Jak wanted to blame himself for this, talking to Daxter wouldn't change things.
"Sides," Daxter spoke with a bit more confidence now though his statement still came across as a question. "Jak's gonna win this thing anyway! Soon as I've got that antidote, I'm gonna eat an entire yakow. You'll see."
A wry smile because that was also a truth. Jak had a peculiar knack for saving the day, in a good way. "You're probably right."
"Just don't tell Jak Sig. I mean it. It's not gonna be a big deal." Daxter was fervent again, insistent on drawing a promise out of the older man.
"Alright Daxter. I promise."
The ottsel was clearly relieved, relaxing more though Sig hadn't noticed he'd been so tense.
He reached out a few fingers to ruffle the younger man's head and stayed until Daxter managed to actually finish a good portion of his beer.
Just inside the doorway, Jak slid down until his knees were painfully crushed against his chest, pressing the fingers threaded through close cropped hair hard into his skull. Like the pain it could induce might make that conversation disappear.