A Shoulder to Lean On: It had been a surprise for Torn when the ottsel came back to Headquarters … alone. It was also a surprise that he decided to care at all. No pairings.

Disclaimer: If only, if only, the plot bunny sings.

Image: Torn Be Coloured by Kopeht

Rating: Teen

Of a king and his loyal lords

He rules them with a pointed sword

And they always fight his worrying wars

Though it is in dismay

Once in a while, day to day

A horse comes back without its rider

So the king must transpire

Rise from his throne and take the reins

New is the day, the King must say

Then he leads the horse away

"Ehhhh!" screamed Daxter as he barely had time to dodge the knife that Torn had just thrown at him. "Jak, save me!"

The ottsel then proceeded to rush in his companion's direction, jumping onto the warrior's shoulder with the grace of a fruit bat. He then smirked from his perch as if daring the ex-Krimzon Guard to come and get him. Torn merely growled, and slowly, redirected his attention to the renegade, Jak. He knew it was a useless vendetta to follow up on his threats to the rodent while Jak was there. He would never admit it, but Jak was one of his finest men, and it was best to keep him in somewhat good graces. If that meant putting up with Daxter, so be it, but Torn had silently promised himself that if the ottsel was ever left in the barracks alone … well, he might just have a new hat.

"I take it the mission was successful," said Torn as he placed his hands back on his table, his eyes traveling over the map before him.

"Those KG didn't even know what hit them," said Jak with a tint of dark mirth in his voice. In truth, Jak liked dealing with Metal Heads over the Baron's guards, but he still recalled those guards that strapped him to that table again and again during his stay at the Barons. No matter how badly Jak didn't want to admit it, that innocent boy from Sandover was still deep in his chest, dying with ever pair of dulled dead eyes that dared stare up at him.

Torn merely nodded his head, already knowing that was going to be the renegades answer. Jak never failed a mission. Never. Unfortunately, the elf was rather hard to get a hold of from time to time, so he couldn't send the boy on all the missions he'd like to send him on. Apparently, according to some of the other Underground members that wander the streets unnoticed, Jak was quite popular. He did favors or jobs for pretty much anyone who was gutsy enough to ask. Well, since the teen was still standing before him, patient as a statute, it seemed that he didn't have any favors or jobs to fulfill for today. Perfect, it wasn't a big job he had in mind, but Torn didn't have anyone free that was experienced enough to go wandering around outside of the walls of Haven.

"You want to go play with some Metal Heads, Jak?" asked the Underground Commander as he stood up straight and crossed his arms over his chest.

Jak gave him that look that said, 'What do you think?'

"Good, now remember when you went out and opened the water to the slums," said the older man, his voice cracking in its usual manner. "Well, I sent one of my men out to make sure the Baron couldn't pull that little stunt again. Plus, the idiot wanted to get some dark eco samples or something. Either way, I got a distress call from him a few minutes ago, rambling something about a huge metal head. So, he's stuck up there, trapped by some type of quote: monster with tentacles."

"Yeah, got it," said Jak, not even giving the mission a second thought as he headed for the stairs, Daxter chiming in his ear.

"Let's grab some soy sauce before we hit the outer walls, Jak. I'm in the mood for a snack," joked the Ottsel with a grin.

Torn could only shake his head at the vermin's irritating definition of humor. Perhaps one day he'd ask Jak who taught that thing how to talk so he could gut them, because with Jak's lack of a sense of humor, it sure wasn't him.

...

Daxter leaned forward on Jak's shoulder, his little body waving into each step in order to keep balance on his perch. He could feel his heart racing. Not with anticipation of the coming fight, but with a soft ache. It was just something that Daxter always felt whenever they would go outside the city walls to fight metal heads. It didn't hurt per say, but whenever Jak would scrounge up some dark eco from a downed metal head, Daxter's body seemed to beat in tune with the dark powers that were and would become Dark Jak.

Yet, despite this strange feeling, Daxter found no true reason to admit his weariness when fighting outside the walls. Personally, if it were up to him, he'd rather watch Jak hand a few Krimson Guards their asses, but he wouldn't ask such a thing of his longtime companion. When the eco channeler was out in the oozing wilderness, he didn't have to hold back; he didn't have to worry about his actions or how hard to hit; and he sure didn't have to worry about Dark Jak's actions.

Then there was Dark Jak.

At first, the ottsel hadn't thought much of the hero's new addition. To him it had seemed little more than a flashy new toy to play with. Daxter was pained to admit he was wrong. Dark Jak … Dark Jak was kind of his own being, yet he was Jak. This was acceptable to a point. The body borrower didn't seem to mind Daxter at all. He might have even found Daxter's comments enduring since he seemed to lack a voice of his own, but that was when the ache started.

The ache started the first time Jak transformed into Dark Jak. In the beginning, the ottsel had thought little of it. It wasn't really hurting him, and it would be a huge inconvenience, not to mention hazardous, if Daxter were to jump from his perch whenever Dark Jak decided to come knocking.

So, over the weeks, the ottsel just let it be.

That is, until recently…

Nowadays, the ache seemed to be a pounding and Daxter found himself knowing whenever Dark Jak wanted out. He truly felt it. Then there was the behavior of said body snatcher. Initially, Jak's other half didn't think much of the ottsel on his shoulder. It was as if Daxter was just noisy body art. Then, as the feeling grew, one day the ottsel noticed that the beast hadn't play with his kill as long as he usually did. In fact, Dark Jak had stopped just so he could pet Daxter on the head, scratching behind one of his ears with a long nail as if rewarding the ottsel for something.

Not that Daxter felt very rewarded. He had been scared out of his mind when the bulky beast had halted in his killings, standing still for a moment, just so he could bring up one of those clawed hands, dark eco jumping everywhere, to scratch behind Daxter's ear. A moment later, he returned to just Jak.

Now, Jak never truly recalled much when he was transformed and was quite surprised when he saw the expression on his pal's face. He had even asked what was wrong.

Well, what was wrong? Dark Jak scratched behind his ear. He didn't draw blood, didn't growl at him, didn't throw him off, and didn't do anything that would be considered threatening. So Daxter, not wanting to worry his companion, said nothing.

For a time, he even forgot about the strange reaction … until they went outside Haven's walls once again.

It had been the usual metal head ambush, the freaking monsters coming from everywhere like slippery serpents. Yet, as luck would have it, before Jak even noticed he was getting low on ammo, Daxter felt Dark Jak twitch under Jak's skin. It was the usual escapade after that. Purple lightening exploded over Jak's form, his body violently taking a new shape with the sound of cracking bones and straining muscles.

Daxter's heart even fell in tune with the dark eco pumping through Jak's veins.

The battle didn't last long. In fact, it was almost sad how easy it was for Dark Jak to take out half of the metal head ambush in one blow. Then, as soon as the last beast fell, its dark eco flying into Jak's form, Dark Jak didn't disappear like he usually did when all the enemies were gone or beheaded. He merely stood there, staring at the metallic tiling of the sewer floors as water dripped somewhere in the distance.

Subsequently, before Daxter could even twitch, he noticed that those dark orbs were turned towards him, his form reflected in those dark pools. For a second, Daxter considered making a run for it, but before he could even twitch a leg, a clawed hand plucked him from his roost. The next thing he knew, Dark Jak was sitting on the damp floor, crossed legged, and using his thumb to try and wipe some grime that was sticking to the side of Daxter's cheek. The ottsel merely remained still, uncertain if he should even breathe. Yet, Dark Jak must have caught on to the ottsel's nervousness and started to scratch behind Daxter's ear.

Slowly, despite himself, Daxter found himself leaning into it. True, he was not born an ottsel, but he still had the body of one and that felt nice. In fact, he was almost sad when the scratching stopped, making him look upward.

For a moment, as if time had decided to bury itself into the present, he saw Jak. Not the Jak that had been born from experiments in the Baron's prison, but the Jak from Sandover. It was the Jak without a voice. It was the much happier Jak in a much more vestal time. True, Dark Jak didn't look like the youth of the past, but his smile (despite those many lurker shark-like teeth) was the smile that mute Jak used to say so many things. Yet, before Daxter could even think of re-introducing himself to the fine language of mute, he found himself being plucked and placed back on Jak's shoulder.

Without even a hint of warning, normal Jak was back and he was staring at the confused expression on Daxter's face. He even asked, "What's wrong Dax?"

"You don't remember?"

"Remember what?" said Jak, truly befuddled of what had just happened.

"Dax?"

The little ottsel almost fell off of his roost when his mind was suddenly dragged back to the present. The boy-turned-rat blinked once at the face now staring at him. It was Jak yet it wasn't Jak. He could never be the Jak from Sandover ever again. The boy that had found him amongst the rocks, alone and crying so many years ago.

"Is something wrong? You've been quiet for a while now?" said Jak as he stood near the exit that led outside of the 'safety' of Haven, the gears clicking into place.

For a moment, Daxter was silent. His mind wanted to say something cocky or witty, but for some reason he didn't feel like being smug. He didn't want to be the only one smiling anymore.

"Just thinking, Jak. I'll tell you about it later," said Daxter, uncertain if he even had the guts to actually say anything at all. Maybe if Dark Jak did it again, maybe.

Jak merely smirked at his partner, shaking his head before the morning light bathed the two heroes in its rays, the doors to the outlands finally opening. It was strangely a free place … all its nightmares included.

...

Jak shook his head as he stared down at the crumpled mass of elf hiding amongst the pipes. The hero generally didn't pay much attention to the other Underground members being that he was not what one would call a team player, but this fellow had caught his attention. No, it wasn't because he was some type of robust hero or twitchy genius. It was because he had been adorn in a light-armor Krimzon guard uniform which was generally used for non-combative soldiers. They were not a common sight on the main thruways of Haven.

Which … was probably why Jak tackled the guy and nearly took his head off that day in headquarters. A barking command from Torn was the only thing that stalled Jak from killing the stunned double agent. Apparently, Diaz was his name and leaking information was his game.

Personally, Jak could have cared less about the informant after that.

That is, until, Diaz had offered to buy his 'pet' ottsel from him not even ten minutes later when he had exited Underground command, Jak sent outside to cool down. Apparently, he worked in the science division of the KG forces. That, in itself, was more than enough reason to hate him, but offering to buy Dax almost made Jak shoot him.

Now, it wasn't that Jak blamed anyone for calling Daxter a pet, because his childhood friend did look the part. It was just that every time someone said that, there was a silent taste of regret on his tongue. He had promised Daxter that he would get him back to normal, even though that had merely been a nod of his head and a smile back then. It had been about three years since then and Daxter was still an Ottsel. He probably would be one forever. Personally, it was just something Jak didn't like to dwell on, because it stung deeply.

Regardless, Diaz received a sturdy punch to the face that day and Jak hadn't stuck around to receive a berating from Torn.

Not that he would ever respect Torn on the subject of Daxter. The ex-KG was no better. He was convinced that Daxter was little more than a glorified pet that had somehow learned to speak.

"Huh, so it's you?" said Jak as he placed his gun back in it holster, coming to a halt in the wastelands of the pumping station, dust settling at his feet.

The scientist pulled up his face mask to properly show his displeasure as well.

"Likewise. I would have rather waited for Jinx regardless if he is on a mission or not," grumbled Diaz as he pulled himself from his hiding spot amongst the pipes. He'd hate to look cowardly, but he was a scientist first and foremost. He was the guy a unit dragged around to fix all the broken tech or ask for the quickest way to kill a particular Metal Head. He rarely, personally, killed metal heads.

"Well, the feeling's mutual," added Jak as his eyes swept the landscape lazily. "So, where's this horrible monster?"

The man nearly retreated back into his hiding spot as a whine emitted from his throat. He had been fascinated by it at first, its many long limbs reaching up from the waters as if trying to grasp the heavens with its huge sucker. Unsurprisingly, that amazed feeling was short lived when he realized just how dangerous it really was.

And when it made a swipe for him.

"You didn't see it? It's been practically guarding the way down," said the biologist as he took a step forward, glancing behind Jak. "But … I wonder what scared it away."

Jak and Daxter both snorted at this.

Shrugging his shoulders, basically telling the other to get on with it or he was leaving him, Jak started back down. Unsurprisingly, about half way down, there was a small ambush of metal heads. With a swift and accurate motion, Jak pulled his gun from his holster and gave Diaz an annoyed look.

"I'll take care of this," said Jak, a thin stream of purple electricity running up his form and making a crown around his head for a split second. "You get back to Haven. What few metal heads that were in the way are gone now."

Diaz gave the elf before him a particular glance, his expression full of skepticism. "Is there something wrong with your head? You think you can take on all these metal heads by yourself? Just because I'm a scientist before a soldier doesn't mean I'm not a sold-"

"Now," came a low growl from Jak as dark eyes turned in the direction of his unwanted company, electricity starting to jump around his form in a more noticeable manner.

Lifting his hands up in a show of surrender as he tripped backwards, the biologist did not disagree, "It's your funeral."

The scientist didn't waste another moment as he jumped down to the nearest ledge, his hands shaking as he took off running. He wasn't running because of the other's threat … it was because his scanners were picking up large amounts of dark eco.

Was this boy?

Could he be?

Was it possible?

Was Jak the Baron's escaped lab rat?

Well, one thing was for certain, Diaz was ecstatic. Observing the renegade would be far more promising than trying to obtain a full bred ottsel specimen.

Still up on the ledge, Jak merely growled in contentment, his fingers twitching with what could be called little more than delight. Daxter merely crouched down on his perch. He had known this was coming the moment Jak stepped out of the doors. Dark Jak had all but howled in demand, in hunger, to be allowed out. Jak rarely, if ever, released him within the walls of Haven due to its very nature. That was probably why the creature inside was all but clawing at Jak's skin. It wanted out so badly that Daxter could feel it.

Daxter didn't even twitch when Dark Jak was finally reborn into the afternoon air, his claws raining down before his feet barely had time to change.

Soon there was a squeal and a spray of black blood as one metal head went down. Another fell afterward, followed by another and another. Daxter merely pulled his ears back, drowning out the sound of passing souls and spilling guts. It would end soon enough. Dark Jak's lust for blood and eco would be filled soon enough, and he would pass like so many times before.

He couldn't take seeing that innocent smile, mute Jak's smile, on that dark face again.

It seemed he wouldn't be allowed such folly today though for Dark Jak had suddenly stilled.

Daxter nearly jumped out of his fur when Dark Jak rubbed his head against his small furry body, a purr echoing in the beast's throat. It was easy to say that Daxter's heart skipped a beat, falling out of tune with the dark eco rushing through Jak's body. Dark Jak couldn't help but tilt his head in confusion at this, his hand reaching out and plucking the ottsel away from his shoulder.

For a moment, those dark orbs stared at the furry companion as if the dark creature was confused. A soft humming came from Dark Jak's throat and he brought a clawed finger forward, using it to force the ottsel to look at him.

Daxter felt an eternal shame rise in his chest as he stared at that confused. It was almost a mute Jak expression and he wanted to hate this beast before him for it. He didn't hate him for being a cold blood murderer; not for being voiceless; not for having young Jak's grin; and not for anything other but the fact that he was a reminder.

Dark Jak was a constant reminder that Daxter had been too slow and too stupid in rescuing Jak from the Baron's prison. He had allowed Jak to rot there for two years while he chased around bugs.

"Please don't smile at me. What are you thanking me for? For allowing you to be?" said Daxter, a coldness dripping in his voice as he met the other's gaze. Part of him now suspected that the mute smile was meant for.

Dark Jak was thanking him for allowing him to be.

And yet, said smile dropped from the being's face as he dwelled on Daxter's reaction, the great beast flopping down on the ground and scattering dandelion seeds and dust. The eco-freak smiled again, placing Daxter on the ground so he could start ruffling the ottsel's fur in a childish manner, that mute smile slowly returning.

Daxter signed, irritated. What was wrong with this beast? A moment ago he was cutting thought metal heads as if they were little more than tissue paper, and now he was petting him as if he were the cutest little buddy in the world. Despite himself, Daxter allowed his angry stance to sag, and he flopped down onto the earth, looking up at the strange beast before him.

Dark Jak merely purred in his throat at Daxter's submissiveness and patted his head once more, electricity dancing thought the ottsel's fur. The dark being then moved his attention to that hard to reach spot between Daxter's shoulders with one of his dark nails, probably trying to get a grin out of his partner in crime.

Despite himself, the ottsel smiled and leaned into the scratch.

"Yah know … maybe I won't tell Jak quite yet. He never scratches behind my ears or anything. He still sees me as his elf pal from Sandover. And the truth is … I'm both an ottsel and elf, aren't I?" asked Daxter, a sad tone roaming into his voice as he looked up to his mute companion for answers.

The dark figure frowned as if thinking, but then his smile dragged from ear to ear, dagger-like teeth gleaming in the morning sun.

Daxter sighed, "Either you have no idea what I was saying or you are mocking me."

Ignoring the rodent's angst, Dark Jak got to his feet, the same cocking grin on his face. Yet, as he started to reach for his partner, his fingers half wrapped around the furry being, something burst from the water just beyond the cliff, spraying the two companions in polluted water.

Just catching sight of what had risen from the waters, they both stared at the huge tentacle that merely hung there as if looking at its two guests. Dark Jak barely had time to growl in defiance, electricity jumping across his fingers, when the slimy limb lurched forward wrapping itself around the dark being's right leg.

For an instant, Dark Jak merely stood there, staring at the thing around his leg in surprise while accidently dropping Daxter.

Yet, as it seems to be fate's cruel prank, the demon teen could not lash out and cut the offending limb fast enough. Instead, the creature hidden still within the water, gave a mighty tug which caused the dark hero to bark out in surprised and slam back first onto the ground, his head making a loud thunk.

He didn't even have time to react after that.

Thus, the last thing Daxter saw of his child hood friend was Dark Jak's surprised eyes, claws clutching to the edge of the earthly ledge before he was drag down to the waters below. Not a sound was made, not a scream or cry. There was just a splash.

A shivering cold splash.

...

Torn sat with his feet on his desk, the light from the lamp above dimmed. It was rare that he had free time to actually sit and clean his gun anymore. Generally, at times like these, he was on a mission, but ever since Jak had shown up there had been occasions for free time. In fact, way too much free time. Maybe he should go out for the evening and steal Krimzon Cruisers. That would certainly piss off the Baron, especially after they'd find a few of them covered in graffiti with something degrading like: the Baron likes wearing women's panties.

Childish, yes. Fun, most defiantly.

But, before the elf could finalize that idea or not, he heard the soft hiss, the front door to the Underground base opening. He reached for his gun automatically, but he wasn't truly worried. It had been a few hours since Diaz had returned, and it was no doubt Jak following in the rear and looking for a place to sleep. It was not a rarity to find the young elf in one of the bunks from time to time. Torn had been wanting to ask if the teen had a place, but hadn't really been worried enough to ask. Jak seemed fed so what did it matter that he was sleeping at the base from time to time?

Strangely, there was not the usual sound of Jak's heavy, mud-covered boots coming down the stairs though. It was just a soft plopping noise like someone was dropping a soaking wet rag on each step. The elf's ear's tilted back slightly. Now this was unusual.

Slowly, despite himself, Torn found himself leaning forward in anticipation and a little dread. What could this be?

He got an answer rather quickly and the man couldn't help, but lean back in his chair with a grumble in his throat while staring at the entering ottsel. The orange rat looked half drowned in polluted eco water.

At first, he readied himself for the usual drabble that escaped the rats mouth, but the he noticed something was missing.

Why was it just the rat? That was highly unusual. Daxter knew Torn would kill him just for his annoy behavior alone so why would he come down here without his bodyguard?

"Figures. It's just you," said Torn as he went back to cleaning his gun. "And where's Jak?"

After a moment of stillness, the commander looked up again, slightly irritated. The rodent was still standing there on the last step, his form half hidden in the darkness.

"Well, where's Jak? I don't have all night," barked Torn as he rose from his desk to get a better look at the flea ball before him. He nearly stalled in his tracks though when he heard what sounded like a whimper come from the ottsel. In fact, he almost drew back in surprised. He hadn't thought the rodent had any emotions except for whining and yet, right in front of him, here he was Daxter, crying like a lost child.

Already knowing the answer and yet unable to stop from asking, he inquired, "Daxter … where's Jak?"

XXX

Paw07: Dang, I don't know about you, but I love the idea of Dark Jak's affection towards the ottsel. Had to throw that in there for a little mystery before I 'killed' our hero off. You know, I know I should feel bad about doing Jak in, but for some reason, I just can't. I'm too much of an angst vampire. Also, so there is no confusion, I have no plans of making this slash. If you choose to see something, that's up to you. I, however, prefer some bromance.

Edit: This got turned into an oneshot for now. The other twelve chapters were ghastly. Daxter and Torn seemed so OOC compared to my current writing. So, I am currently rewriting/editing those chapters. I also plan on writing all the outlines for the last few chapters so it will be all but done when I start reposting. I just want to mark this puppy as a complete and be proud of it. Later loves.

(Revisions June 2015)