Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I'm just playing in Naughty Dog's sand box.

A gift fic for Kira. Merry Christmas!


Jak was hallucinating.

Are you so sure about that?

He knew he was hallucinating because the man who was speaking to him was dead.

Oh, now you're just exaggerating. I'd hardly call this state of being death.

Go away. Go away go away go away. Jak scrunched himself up into a ball in the corner of his cell, trying his hardest not to sob. He didn't know what was happening to him, but he knew it was bad. Anything involving dark eco was bad, and now he could feel the stuff swimming inside his body. It was liquid fire and sizzling acid and it was trying to eat its way right through him.

It wouldn't be so bad if you stopped fighting it, Jak.

Jak squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn't acknowledge that voice. He couldn't talk to it like it was someone real. Because that meant that either he'd finally gone crazy, or...

Or what, Jak? Are you afraid of me now? The dry, raspy voice chuckled with amusement. You shouldn't be. We're the same now, you and I.


Jak's protest was met with laughter. Deny it all you want, fool, it doesn't change the reality of what you have become!

NO. He shook his head violently, his hands clutched so tight around his knees that his nails dug into his skin. Sharp, pointed nails, and not little rounded crescents. Nails - claws - that had turned black from all the dark eco.

No no no no NO!

He dragged in a lungful of air, then forced it back out, again, and again, willing himself to calm down. It was so hard to clear his head, though, when it hurt so much, two dull aches that he knew, he knew would not be good to touch. He almost sobbed again.

What was going on?

Why don't you look in the mirror and find out for yourself?

He didn't want to. He didn't want to see what Erol had done to him. But almost against his will, he lifted his head anyway and stared across the room.

Pale hair. Black horns. Skin an ashen grey.

Gol Acheron laughed as he gazed out from the mirror.