"I've Been There"

Jak and Daxter were wondering mindlessly down one of the dusty roads of the Haven City Slums, a place neither really enjoyed visiting. They had just left the Underground HQ, their ears still ringing from Torn's yelling earlier that day. They were supposed to be going on another mission for him in Dead Town after helping a few of his Underground cronies, but the duo really didn't feel up to any more dirty work after their antics in the Palace. They only wanted to get away from it all and not have to listen to anyone's bickering for a change, though in the city such a thing was practically nonexistent. There was always something else someone wanted to do for them and they were getting sick of it as they had their own agenda to take care of. Every day brought another vital mission, another poor fool to beat up, another important item to find, another battle to be fought, and today was just another day like all the others. Fate apparently didn't want to break their routine.

To think that some people actually call the city "safe" was a joke, a paradise even. To them in comparison to outside the city perhaps, but things were in reality no better within its walls. The duo knew better than to believe such obvious lies. Haven City wasn't safe; it was just one problem after another, problems that they didn't want to deal with.

Night had fallen, bringing a rather cold and damp air with a cloudy sky. Small clouds of dust kicked up from the hard stone ground from any step taken and drifted through the air for a moment before vanishing. It was somewhat quiet, with Flyers and Zoomers passing above and only a few people wandering about with the occasional Krimzon Guard on patrol. A few streetlights and signs flickered, and the Green Sun was glowing with its usual lovely soft light. It was a nice night for a walk, though the scenery could have been much better.

"Boy, this place really stinks…" Daxter muttered. "And I'm not just talking about smells here. You'd think the Tattooed Wonder would have the Underground HQ somewhere else other than this crappy part of the city."

"No kidding…" Jak agreed, gazing left and right at the poor condition of the sights around him. "But maybe that's why it's still safe from the KG."

"I'll say. They wouldn't think of finding resistance in a dump like this…"

They headed toward the south, moving through buildings and crossing bridges over trenches in the hope that the way out of the Slums was close by. They did their best to avoid the eyes of the few Krimzon Guards and fought the urge to put them in their place. They passed by various citizens, some of which were against the walls of beaten down buildings and others were huddled around fires from trashcans. They all had something in common, however: they each had a depressed look on their faces and their clothing looked filthy and tattered as if they had gone weeks without a decent wash. A few of them would stare at the duo as they passed by, making them feel uncomfortable as if they weren't supposed to be anywhere near the area.

"Sheesh, what are all these trashcans lookin' at?" Daxter said softly into Jak's ear. "These guys are worse than the ones back in Sandover. I guess they've never seen a guy as good looking as me!"

Jak rolled his eyes while Daxter slicked back his ears with a wide grin on his face. Jak could feel movement behind him, but he ignored it as he made a turn into the next road.

"I just hope none of these guys come running up to us begging for precursor orbs or a sandwich or something." Daxter said, looking left and right. "The last thing we need is some old dust rag following us everywhere."

As Jak continued to walk he suddenly could hear unsteady footsteps from behind him and slowly increasing in volume. He turned his head slightly to the right and clenched his fists. If there was someone trying to creep up behind him looking for a fight he was more than willing to give them a pounding that they wouldn't forget, regardless of who or what they were. He really wasn't in the mood for anything tonight and just wanted to continue his stroll without interruption. Daxter turned around on his shoulder to look behind them and he sighed angrily.

"Speak of the precursors…" Daxter groaned.

"What?" Jak asked.

"Sir! Excuse me, sir!" Said the weak voice of a young girl. Jak was about to turn around but Daxter pulled on his long ear.

"One of these bums is coming up on you now." He said softly. "Just keep walking and ignore her, buddy…"

Jak felt said bum approach him from behind and she started to get close to him, but he started to walk at a more brisk pace to put a little more distance between him and her. She called out to Jak again.

Jak slowed his pace slightly, immediately catching Daxter's attention.

"Just keep going, she'll leave eventually…" Daxter urged from the side of his mouth.

Jak picked his pace back up and faced forward. He tried not to pay attention to the footsteps behind him but it quickly proved to be more difficult than he would have liked. After several more paces he could still hear the soft pattering of the girl's footsteps and her heavy breathing, which didn't sit very well with him. He then came up with a plan and rounded one corner after another, hoping that he could discourage her by out-walking her and hopefully lose her. Daxter glanced at Jak, wondering what he was up to but he then understood when he noticed the distance between them and the girl started to increase.

Jak rounded another corner and was relieved that he didn't run into any more street dwellers. He couldn't help but feel a little guilty and he wasn't sure as to why, but Daxter on the other hand showed little sign of remorse. He could still hear the girl calling out to him and sighed, but he didn't think that he would have gotten away that easily anyway.

Jak's eyes narrowed, but he continued to walk on.

"Geez, can't this girl take a hint?" Daxter groaned. "What do we have to do, put a big sign on your back that says, 'Go away?'"

Jak glanced up at Daxter with a raised eyebrow.

"Or maybe one that that says, 'I've got problems, don't tick me off?'"

Jak stared at him.

"How about one that says, 'You don't stand a chance with me?' Wait, that's a shirt I would wear… Man, I miss wearing a shirt…"

Daxter looked at Jak with a saddened face. Jak merely shrugged, but then he frowned as he heard the girl's voice again.

"Please…wait…" The girl called. "I just…I just want to know if –"

There was a high-pitched "oof!" followed by a very audible thump. Jak slowed down and turned his head toward the noise to see that the girl had tripped and fallen down flat on her face into the welcoming rocky ground. Jak continued to move, but the duo watched her as she weakly picked herself back up and looked up at them. She then moved forward, limping every few steps and wore a look of pain upon her face. She tried to approach Jak, but she stumbled forward and reached out to Jak, grabbing a hold of his wrist before she greeted the ground a second time. Jak came to a quick halt and glared down at the girl. This girl was quickly getting on his nerves and his arm was starting to fill with a rather violent urge.

The girl, who seemed no older than twelve or thirteen, looked up at him with watery brown eyes. Dirt was smudged all over her teary face, her shoulder length blue hair looked more like a bird's nest, and her short ears were chipped and worn like someone had been gnawing on them. The worst out of her appearance was her clothing; a mere dirty gray blanket that was wrapped tightly around her thin body but left her bony right shoulder exposed. Two rags were wrapped around her ankles, but her feet were bare and scarred. Her hands were trembling as they held onto Jak's wrist.

"Please…" The girl pleaded again.

Jak simply stared at her. Daxter quickly whirled around on his shoulder and glared down at the girl.

"Beat it, ya bum!" He shouted at her and waving his fist around. "We got problems of our own to deal with!"

The girl shook Jak's hand weakly. "There must someplace…"

"Yeah! Right around the corner there!" Daxter said, pointing behind them.

The girl's eyes widened. "Really? Just over…"

"I don't know! Just get away from us! If you do find a place make sure you ask them for a bar of soap, 'cause you smell worse than a Metal Head's armpit!"

Jak threw off the girl's hands, making her lose her weak grip and fall backward and onto her side.

"Don't touch me…" Jak said softly but fiercely.

The girl raised herself up with shaking arms. She turned her body slowly around back toward Jak, who wore a menacing glare, and she let out a loud sniff before bowing her head low in shame. Her lip quivered and she swallowed hard, the air of utter defeat surrounding her like a depressing shroud. She looked at them again, her face wet with silent tears, and slowly got to her feet. She took one last look at the duo, in which Daxter waved his hand to shoo her away, and then she turned around and limped down the street. Jak watched her pathetic form distance herself from them and a feeling of immense relief filled him. He pitied her, but more than likely her condition was the fault of her own and the same could probably be said about the rest of those like her within the Slums. Their situations are their problems, so they should be the ones to deal with them and not bring others in to share their grief. Like Daxter said, they've got issues of their own right now and they didn't need someone who didn't even matter adding weight to their already heavy shoulders.

Jak scowled and turned on his heel in the opposite direction. His fists were tightly clenched as many mental conflicts started to pour into his mind. He tried to clear it but it was taking more effort than it should have.

"About time she got the hint…" Daxter perked up. "I was afraid she would be permanently glued to you for a sec there. At least she didn't touch me with those hands of hers; I wouldn't want that nastiness all over my due…"

Jak grunted.

"Hey! Lighten up darkie boy! We got rid of her didn't we? Let's just get out here before Praxis' goons try to stop us next, not that they could anyway of course."

Jak smirked darkly and began to walk again. They were getting closer to the gate that led to the Industrial section of the city and a wave of relief washed over the duo. Already the area around them started to look nicer and the people more civilian-like and happy. Jak was ready to step through the gate but he lightly bumped into a tall and skinny man and broke his attention from it. The man and his shorter, more muscular friend both glared at him, in which Jak and Daxter returned, and then they walked on into the Slums. Jak moved on and his ears caught the voices of the two men behind him as they started to laugh rather loudly. Jak turned his head around curiously, hoping for their sake that they weren't laughing at him. He then relaxed when he saw that the two men were walking toward someone else other than himself and pointing mockingly at that someone. Jak shrugged it off, but then his eyes caught whoever it was they were closing in on and quickly realized that it was the poor girl he successfully threw off.

Jak slowed his pace to watch the two men. They both approached the girl, who looked back at them with a questioning look. The taller man then grabbed the girl and threw her toward his friend, who in turn threw her to the ground. The men laughed amongst themselves while the girl gazed up at the two with a fearful look in her eyes. The men smiled at each other and then the shorter man grabbed the girl and lifted her up onto her feet. The girl tried get away from him but she couldn't break free from his stronger grip. The shorter man shoved the girl to the taller one and he pushed her back to his friend. They continued to shove her back and forth to each other, laughing hysterically like a pair of mad scientists. The girl tripped and fell to the ground and the men roared even louder. The shorter man bent down and grabbed the girl again, but she whipped her head around, grabbed the shorter man's arm and bit his wrist, making him yelp in pain. The shorter man yanked his hand away, growling with fury, and swung his fist, cracking the side of the girl's mouth. The girl collapsed to the ground, but the shorter man wasn't done yet. He grabbed a handful of the girl's hair from the back of her head and shoved her face into the ground, yelling numerous threats at her. The taller man, along with the few civilians walking around nearby, watched silently.

Jak's eyes suddenly widened. Their voices started to soften and the environment faded away into darkness. The two men slowly transformed into what he had come to loathe; a pair of Krimzon Guards. The girl however morphed into something that nearly frightened him. Where the girl had stood was now replaced by his own younger self, only he didn't look like he remembered. His younger self wore the yellow jumpsuit that prisoners had to wear and shackles were latched onto his wrists and ankles, the thick chains hindering his every move. The two Krimzon Guards were swinging their large rifles at him, making the younger Jak kneel over in pain from the blows. One of the Guards hit young Jak in the back of the head, knocking him down to the ground. The other Guard then pressed his spiky boot onto the back of Jak's head and into the hard, metal floor, laughing at his struggle to throw him off. The two Guards then proceeded to repeatedly kick his weakened body, without the slightest hint of sympathy, without reason, without mercy…

Jak blinked. There was a small furry hand waving back and forth in front of his face. He glanced up to see Daxter sitting on his head, looking at him upside down with a look of worry.

"Hey, earth to Jak!" He said. "What, is there a hot babe nearby or something? 'Cause if there is…where is she and what on a scale of one to ten?"

Jak shook his head, ignoring his friend's last statement. He glanced around and quickly spotted the two men and the broken girl. He was breathing heavily, his face twisted and he felt his hands twitch slightly as he felt a wave of aggression quickly overcome his mind. A monster started to squirm inside, daring anything to antagonize it in the slightest. Jak glanced left and right, eyeing the area around him in search of Krimzon Guards and spotted one moving away from him. He looked back at the two men, who were now kicking dirt and rocks at the girl as she tried to crawl away from them. He turned his head to the side, a feeling of doubt and uncertainly balancing out the anger that filled him. He then looked at the girl as her sobs and cries for help met his ears.

Jak frowned as he watched the two men continue their assault on the girl. The choice was very clear at this point. He clenched his fists and marched toward them with his face firm. Daxter glared at his friend.

"Jak? What are you doing?"

Jak stared straight ahead as he closed in on the smiling taller man. Daxter looked at Jak, then at the man, and then back at Jak and rolled his eyes muttering, "Oh, here we go…" Jak ignored him as his mind was focused entirely on what he was about to do. He approached the taller man from behind, not surprised that neither of them took notice of him. Jak came to a halt, reached a hand out and roughly tapped the taller man's shoulder a few times. The man slowly turned around to face Jak, curious as to who was interrupting his fun.

By the time the taller man faced him, Jak had already reached as far back as he could and threw a fist straight into the taller man's jaw, knocking him down to the ground as he yelped in pain and clutched his mouth with both hands. The shorter man saw his comrade collapse and quickly looked to see Jak staring down at him and immediately sprung to his feet. He growled like a furious beast and lunged at Jak, but the blonde leapt to the side as Daxter held on to his shoulder guard for dear life. The shorter man reeled back and threw a fist at Jak's head but missed as he ducked under the blow. The shorter man roared and unleashed swing after swing, but Jak was too quick and managed to dodge each one by mere inches. The shorter man raised his hands into the air for a mighty blow and Jak saw this as an opportunity. He threw a kick into the man's gut, making him reel forward from the pain, and hit the man's face with two punches quickly followed by a powerful uppercut into his nose. The man was thrown into the air briefly before flopping to the ground with a heavy thud. The man held his nose in agony while twisting and turning next to his friend.

Both men struggled back onto the feet, still holding their faces, while giving Jak cold but fearful stares. Jak cracked his knuckles and raised his fists for a second round. Both men stared at him while continuing to hold their faces as small trickles of blood oozed from between their fingers. Jak stared back, daring either of them to try their hand at assaulting him for their own amusement, but neither of the men did. Instead, they both started to slowly back away from Jak while keeping their eyes fixed upon him. Then within a second, they turned and dashed off in the opposite direction down another dusty street and quickly disappeared from sight. Jak lowered his fists and let out a deep sigh.

"Cowards…" He muttered.

"That's right, you better run!" Daxter shouted after them. "If you ever want a second taste of Orange Lightning again, you let me know!"

Jak glanced up at Daxter, who gave him a wide comical grin. Jak smirked.

"So buddy…" Daxter continued, folding his arms. "You mind telling me what that was all about?"

"What do you mean?" Jak asked.

"Oh, come on! You may be tall, dark and ticked off now but I still know everything about you! Why'd you help her?"

Jak looked down toward the ground. "I…don't really know…"

"Uh-huh…" Daxter nodded, clearly not convinced.

The duo stared at each other for a while, trying to read each other's minds. After several long seconds Jak decided to break first.

"I just needed to blow off a little steam, that's all!" Jak said in his defense.

"Right…and the Precursors have been secretly hiding out in my pants all this time. Oh wait, that's right…I DON'T HAVE ANY PANTS!"

Jak groaned and looked away, not wanting to accept his defeat but he let it sink in nevertheless and tried to hide it, though he was doing a poor job.

"You know, even when you were a mute, you never were a good liar." Daxter said, grinning and leaning toward Jak's face. "I can see right through you, you know…"

"Whatever…" Jak grunted.

"Come on, tell me!"

"No."

"You know you want to…"

"No."

"I'll give you a cookie…"

"No!"

"Come on! Why won't you tell me?"

"Why do you wanna know?"

"I just do! Now spit it out!"

"It doesn't matter!"

"It obviously does, since you won't tell me…"

"Daxter…" Jak growled.

"All right, all right! Sheesh!" Daxter groaned. He folded his arms and sat down on Jak's shoulder, pouting. "Be sure to let me know whenever you feel like pulling that Lurker out of your butt…"

If Daxter were anybody else, he would have already hurled him halfway across the city by now, but even with that thought in mind it took more willpower than he was willing to muster to keep him from doing so. Daxter would always try to find a way to keep him in high spirits despite whatever mood Jak was in. Sometimes he would be trying too hard and it only lowered his mood, but when he managed to clear the haze that his brooding would create he recognized it as just that; Daxter was trying, and nowadays it was a rarity to find someone who wasn't afraid to do so.

"Speaking of which, where did she go anyway?" Daxter said, gazing around.

Jak paused. The thought hadn't really crossed his mind somehow. Perhaps it was the adrenaline he felt during his little brawl, perhaps it was the motive in helping the girl, but somehow along the way he still forgot the girl herself. But it only took a few seconds of gazing around before he spotted her again, slowly crawling on all fours away from them and whimpering softly. Jak's eyebrows wrinkled and he started to zero in on the girl. As he casually approached her the girl quickly took notice of his presence and tried crawling away from him without so much as a glance. Jak paused for a moment and then stepped toward her and when he did, the girl would scoot another few inches away. Jak and Daxter looked at each other and it was clear to them that she didn't want to be anywhere near them. They watched her drag her limp form across the hard dirty surface of the street, a sad sight to see, sniffling and moaning along the way. Jak could have walked away at this point, but something was keeping him from doing so, something that told him that he had to do something, and it almost felt like…instinct.

Jak moved forward, quickly catching up to the girl. He placed a foot in front of the girl and gazed down at her and she immediately stopped. She slowly lifted her head up until she was looking Jak straight in the eyes. A bit of blood trickled down the side of her lip and her face was filthier than before even though it didn't seem possible. Jak didn't flinch and merely stared back silently as he ran any plans of action he could take at this point. But what should he do? What could he do?

Jak's eyes softened. For several long moments he simply stared at her, unsure at this point of his next move. She stared back with fear and uncertainty and her bleeding lip quivered slightly. Daxter glanced at his friend just as uncertain as the girl and raised an eyebrow.

"Uh…Jak?"

Jak slowly lifted a hand and stretched it out toward the girl. She and Daxter looked at Jak with widened eyes filled with surprise. The girl continued to look up at the blonde and frowned as if wondering if the hand reaching out toward her could be trusted. Jak remained very still, waiting for her response and held his hand out further, beckoning the girl. After a long minute, the girl's face relaxed and she slowly lifted a trembling hand up toward Jak's. Her hand hesitated for a moment, but then it reached the rest of the way and slid over Jak's gloved palm. He then wrapped his fingers around the girl's wrist to get a firm grip on it. He had a feeling of relief in his heart, but there was a hint of regret in his mind.

"Can you stand?" He asked softly.

The girl looked down at her battered legs in shame, but she nodded silently nonetheless. She leaned forward and placed her free hand on the ground for balance and then lifted herself off the ground with her legs, using Jak's hand for support. She stood up and swayed slightly to the side and quickly grabbed Jak's wrist with both hands but she regained herself after a moment. After she was confident in standing on her own she released Jak's wrist, looking up at him with a glimmer in her eyes. Daxter looked off to the side as if embarrassed for his friend.

"Oh, geez…" He sighed heavily.

Jak glanced at the ottsel. "Do you know if there are any…shelters or something around here?"

Daxter looked back at him, seemingly unsure if he just heard the words correctly. They stared at each other.

"Well?" Jak said.

"Well what?"

Jak's eyes narrowed.

"You're really gonna help this girl?" Daxter asked, folding his arms. "What has she done other than bug the crap out of us? I seriously doubt she's got anything useful on her, it would be a waste of time!"

"Maybe…" Jak muttered.

Daxter groaned. "Pff, whatever." He turned to the girl. "Whatever you do, don't touch me with those hands of yours! It ain't easy to maintain these good looks and the shine of my fur! And I hope you don't plan on recruiting every bum in the Slums after this…"

Jak shook his head and the girl gazed down shamefully. Daxter turned back to Jak.

"If we're gonna find this girl a place it probably won't be in the Industrial area. There might be something back down the other way on the other side of the Slums, but I ain't making no guarantees…"

"Good enough for me." Jak said. He turned around and started walking back down the street they came from, gazing back and forth for any witnesses that may have seen everything. After a few steps however he stopped, quickly noticing that something was off. He turned back around to see that the girl had remained where she was, staring at him with unsure eyes. Jak cocked an eyebrow.

"You coming or not?" He said with a slight hint of aggravation.

She hesitated, and then she gazed back and forth at her surroundings as if looking for something. She then made her way towards Jak, stumbling along the way. Just as she reached Jak her legs finally could take no more and buckled underneath her. Jak caught her arms and helped her stand on her feet, but her legs were shaking so badly that it was clear that she wouldn't be able to walk on her own. She held onto Jak's shoulders for dear life while he tried to keep her from collapsing. His aggravation rose slightly, as he really didn't want to have to literally drag the girl across the city. He searched the surrounding area for a vehicle, but he didn't see any parked on the streets, which didn't surprise him. He then looked up for any Zoomers hovering above that were ripe for the taking but he didn't spot any there either. Jak groaned as the irritation settled in, making the girl quite nervous. It dawned on him now that he was left with one option, one that he really didn't want to choose but was forced to accept.

He pulled the girl up forcefully, making her gasp in surprise, and gripped the other side of her torso. She looked up at him with fear and disgust, unsure of his intentions, but that dissipated when he reached down toward the back of both of her legs with his other arm, pulling them up off the ground. He lifted her up, amazed at how light she was, and started to walk again as she got a hold of the back of his neck for support. He carried the girl down the street and turned the corner, relieved that he didn't spot any more of the homeless or any Krimzon Guards. He looked down at the girl, who immediately looked away, but not before he noticed a bit of red beneath the dirt on her face. He searched up and down the streets for any signs of a shelter of some sort, somewhere he could take this girl, but it was difficult to find anything that stood out in the Slums other than a few neon signs and a few posters of the Baron or the KG. He pressed on to the north, moving in and out of the streets as a few citizens stared curiously as he passed by.

He made his way through the area until he reached the lone road that led toward the northern part of the Slums. He walked casually down the street while ignoring the glares from Daxter and whimpers of the girl. A cold breeze blew through the air, making the girl shiver and press herself into Jak's chest, which made him feel more or less embarrassed than he already was. A Krimzon Guard stared as he walked by, but seemed to take little notice of Jak or the girl he was carrying. Jak suddenly started to slow down as a terrible thought came to mind; they were supposedly still looking for him after their little tour through the Palace. Jak glanced back, spotting the Guard still walking away from them, but it didn't ease his conscience in the slightest. He faced back forward and continued walking at a faster pace, hoping that he would find something near the end of this street. He wanted to be rid of this girl as soon as possible and was tempted to drop her right now and find shelter of his own.

Jak looked down at the girl he carried. Her head leaned against his chest and her eyes were closed as if she was sleeping. She was so weak; there was no way she would be able to make it on her own. She needed him to find her someplace to stay, somewhere that would allow her to get back on her feet again. But even as he arrived in the next open area with streets traveling in all directions, the chances of finding such a place felt like it dropped by the second. He wasn't going to give up though, this he knew. Though he may have while he was the Baron's twisted little experiment, he was now driven by the same thing that he felt while on an important mission or in the heat of battle. There had to be someplace around here, he just knew it…

He then felt his senses perk up as he felt dangerous pairs of eyes upon him. He searched the area and he soon spotted a pair of Krimzon Guards far away, but talking among themselves while looking at him. He began to feel nervous and vulnerable. He needed to act quickly.

"I don't like the looks of those guys…" Daxter muttered, noticing the pair as well. "Let's move it, Jak. I got a feeling they're on to us…"

"Yeah…" Jak replied.

Jak moved down the street on the right and rounded the corner and out of the Guards' line of sight. They passed the road that led to the entrance of Dead Town on the right and hugged the building on the left as they spotted more Guards to the left. Jak moved cautiously around to the right and his mind started to race again. He knew the clock was ticking and had to find a place fast, but with the girl in his arms he was moving slower than he wanted. He checked each door they passed on both sides of the street, but none of them looked too promising. He could hear the faint voice of the wretched Baron on his left as he rounded the building and saw more Guards among a few citizens in the open area and froze. There were at least five Guards, but thankfully none of them seemed to have noticed him yet. He slowly backed up, turned around and headed back, but he felt that it was no use. There was still no sign of a home or shelter and he began to doubt that there was one. He came to a stop at the corner of the building.

"I'm not seeing anything buddy…" Daxter said sadly. "I'd hate to be the one to burst your heroic bubble but I don't think where gonna find a safe place, at least not here."

Jak sighed, feeling some of the fire fade away. "We can't just…"

"I know Jak, but what can we do? Those Krimzon cronies are probably closing in on us!" Daxter covered his face with his hands. "We're doomed…and we're taking a bum with us…"

Jak frowned and felt his heart sink a little. He looked down at the girl, who opened her eyes and looked up at him. Jak tried to look reassuring, but he couldn't bring himself to it as she seemed to be able to read his thoughts with her watery eyes. She looked away with sadness spread across her face. Several long moments passed and the breeze in the air somehow felt colder than ever.

"Oh my! Who have you got there?" Said a gentle voice.

Jak's ear perked up to the voice from the right. He and Daxter looked to see a woman and a man staring at them from the doorway they were standing next to. Jak turned to face the pair and the woman had left the safety of her doorway and approached them slowly, revealing her somewhat young but wizened features. The girl looked up at Jak and the duo glanced at each other uncertainly. Jak remained still as the woman stood in front of them without taking his eyes off of her. The woman brushed a lock of brown hair away from her face as she examined the girl.

"Is she hurt?" Called the dark-haired man from the doorway.

The woman's eyes quickly landed upon the girl's face, and then she turned around back to the man. "Yes, her mouth and legs look terrible." The woman turned back around to them.

Jak watched the woman as she stared at the girl, who stared at her back. It was difficult to see what exactly she was trying to do, but his ears perked up again when he caught the footsteps of metallic boots to his left. He glanced in that direction to see if there were any Guards, but he couldn't see any from where he was. He gazed back at the woman, who was now muttering "You poor thing…" while wiping the blood off the girl's cheek with her long sleeve. He caught a glimpse of her eyes and could see the worried and caring look within them. A thought struck his mind, but he wasn't sure as to how he should ask it as he knew had limited time and only one chance and he didn't want to blow it.

"Where did you find her?" The woman suddenly asked, turning to Jak.

"We picked her up from the dump on the other side of the Slums." Daxter replied quickly. "Some punks were beating her up and we took care of them with ease! We're trying to find a place for her, but we've had about as much luck as all the other bums over there."

The woman listened to Daxter carefully and the look in her eyes deepened. Jak felt that this was the time to strike.

"She needs help…" He said softly. "Do you think you can…?"

The woman looked up at Jak, and then to the girl. She then turned around to the man in the doorway and he nodded without hesitation. She faced them again with a smile.

"We don't have much, but some food, a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in is at least something. We'll be happy to let you all stay for the night. Come in! It is rather cold tonight…"

A feeling of intense relief flooded Jak and he was sure Daxter felt the same way. He looked at the girl and asked, "Think you can stand now?"

The girl stared down for a moment in thought and then looked up at him and nodded slightly. Jak nodded back and gently lowered her legs, set her feet on the ground and lifted her back up until she was in a standing position. He slowly let her go and she swayed slightly but she managed to regain her balance and remain standing. The woman took a hold underneath the girl's arm and walked her toward the doorway carefully as the man stepped aside to let them through. Jak stayed put however as a strange dreadful feeling crept inside him. The man noticed and pointed it out to the woman, who stopped and faced Jak along with the girl.

"Aren't you coming inside too?" She asked, frowning.

Jak stared down at the ground with his eyes narrowed. He could hear the faint sound of a Guard talking into a radio not too far away, possibly just on the other side of the building. He was still in danger, and if he were to linger around much longer these people would be as well. At the same time though, they could use their home to hide from the Krimzon Guard until things quieted down in the city, as escaping from their hungry eyes was no small task.

Still, their problems were their own. No one else needed to be involved…

Jak turned his head to the side and held his chin as the conflicting thoughts swirled in his head. Daxter raised an eyebrow, but he had a gut feeling as to what his friend was thinking. He thought for a moment and decided to take the difficult decision into his own hands, as he was pretty sure knew what the answer would be.

"Uh…thanks, but no thanks lady." Daxter answered. "We…uh, got our own place on the nicer side of town and we got a few things to take care of. Thank you for the…rather generous offer anyways."

Jak looked up at the ottsel on his shoulder, who simply smiled back. They gazed back at the woman for her response.

"Are you sure?" She asked, surprised.

"There is still room inside for you two and it's getting late." The man said reassuringly.

"No, he's right." Jak said nodding toward Daxter. "We have some unfinished business elsewhere."

The man and woman stood silently while Jak's eyes met with the girl's. He could see that she would rather have them stay, but he could also tell that she understood their choice.

"Well, okay then." The woman sighed. "Don't say we didn't ask. We'll be sure to take care of the girl and get her back on her feet. Are you going to come back and visit?"

Jak thought for a moment, feeling the girl's gaze upon him. "Maybe…"

The woman smiled. "Have a good night then. And stay safe; I hear the streets are more dangerous at night."

"May the Precursors bless you for the kindness you've shown to this girl today." The man said, bowing slightly, which amused Daxter as he chuckled silently.

The man disappeared from the doorway along with the woman, but the girl remained where she was for a moment, keeping her eyes glued upon the duo. Daxter gave her a wide grin while Jak's face remained expressionless. The woman returned, taking the girl's hand and shutting the door, but Jak caught the words "thank you" in her eyes before they vanished behind the door. Jak continued to stare at the door for several moments and then he took a few slow steps backward before heading back down the dusty street. Silence fell between the two as they traveled and the air felt unusually warmer. Though the streets were far from eye candy, the night sky above was clear and beautiful and the stars shone with all their brilliance.

"You know…I just realized something…" Daxter suddenly piped up.

Jak glanced up at him.

"Even though you're always brooding and angry and all anti-social, there's still a part of the old Jackie boy in ya."

Jak frowned. "What makes you think that?"

"Oh, come on! Please don't tell me you're that dense…"

Jak glared at him.

"So why'd you do it?"

"You're still wondering about that?" Jak said feeling irritated again.

Daxter crossed his arms and waited for an answer. Jak faced forward and moved passed the kiosk emanating the Baron's annoying voice and into the more open area. His thoughts drifted to a few different answers and eventually decided on one.

"I've been there…" Jak said softly.

Daxter stared for a moment in silence before cracking a smile. "Good enough for me."

Jak's senses suddenly heightened and he could feel the presence of two people behind him. He glanced back and saw Krimzon Guards following him and closing the distance between them. Jak quickened his pace but soon started to slow down to a stop when he noticed several more Guards approaching him from all directions. The few civilians nearby quickly evacuated the area, not wanting to witness what was about to happen. Jak's teeth were bared as more Guards arrived, completely surrounding him and cocking their guns. Jak clenched his fists tightly.

"Looks like we have a winner…" A Guard to the left said confidently. "Light hair…blue tunic…orange rat…yep, he's our little eco freak."

"Oh goody…" Daxter moaned. "Why do I get the feeling we've been in this situation…say, ten or twenty times before?"

A Guard in front of them stepped forward. "You are under arrest and completely surrounded. Surrender yourself immediately, and we'll make your trip to Baron Praxis as painless as possible."

"I don't suppose you feel like giving in, like you used to never do?" Daxter muttered.

"Not a chance…" Jak muttered back. He reached toward his back and grabbed the butt of his morph-gun. "It's just another day for us after all…"

"Let's just get it over with so we can take on tomorrow, eh?" Daxter said, tightly gripping Jak's shoulder guard with his hands and feet. "So we can do it all over again…"

"Sounds like a plan…" Jak said, nodding.

The streets exploded with a barrage of shouts, gunfire, and debris, shattering the once quiet air of the Slums. The green sun watched the chaos silently from above, as the echoes of the city continued on into the darkness of the night.