Jak And Daxter Fan Fiction ❯ Strange Existence ❯ Six: Growing Together ( Chapter 6 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

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Jak5: Strange Existence

Six: Growing Together


Sunni went through a growth spurt that stunned most everyone, so that by age fourteen, she was above Jak’s waist. At eleven, even if she stood on her ottsel-like toes, she was barely as tall as his hip; that certainly had changed. With a few more years, growing like that, it wouldn’t be surprising that she reach Keira’s height. And she was only getting more energetic with each week, at that.

She borrowed Jak’s jet board enough times that Keira fashioned a second, slightly smaller one for Sunni so she wouldn’t have to anymore. Taking leads from Jak, it wasn’t hard for her to master using the board. At the same time, she had a tendency to chase Daxter and Tess around, only losing them where weight became a factor. Her size shaved down how nimble she was, so it became easy for Daxter to taunt her, only to never get caught.

She was much more outspoken now, too. Her sentences were no longer partial or mixed up; she was clever enough to talk back to Torn these days. Granted she never won the argument, but she could keep it up for a little while. Ashelin and Keira were both acting as a kind of mother pairing to her, more so than anyone else. It wasn’t surprising that Keira did so; however, nobody expected to see the day when Ashelin came by just to see Sunni.

This was explained in the middle of Sunni’s fourteenth year when they discovered Ashelin was pregnant. And for all his standoffishness, Torn went braindead for almost a day once he found out. Ashelin’s pregnancy was a huge source of interest for Sunni in particular, and they started spending a lot of time together. Once Sunni learned how sensitive pregnant women were, she became almost a slave for Ashelin, getting the older woman whatever she wanted as quickly as possible.

Torn remarked how Ashelin should’ve gotten pregnant sooner, if it caused Sunni to be so agreeable. Ashelin shot back that it was all his fault, when she got pregnant, and abruptly won the argument.

Today was no different from the previous weeks, Sunni leaving early to be with Ashelin. Keira barely got her to take a bread roll with her, and then she was out the door right as Jak was coming in. He said goodbye to Sunni, then turned to Keira. “How do you always get here so early?” he asked.

Keira gave him a smirk. “Are you surprised that I can get out of bed without waking you every morning?”

He hugged her to him with a matching grin. “Oh, you always manage to wake part of me, at least.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m just surprised you can get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and make it here before I can even stumble out of bed.”

“Don’t tell me you’re complaining now,” she teased. “It’s you who can’t keep your hands off of me, if you recall.”

“I recall,” he replied, mischief running through his mind. He glanced around, noting the few vehicles in here that Keira still worked on from time to time. “Remember how much fun we had with the Dragonfly X?”

She blushed, still partially innocent at heart. “Geez, you love to bring that up, don’t you?”

“Oh come on, you enjoyed it.”

She wriggled in his arms, trying to get free. He was tempted to let her, but on the other hand, he’d rather keep her right where she was. He held her tighter, then planted a kiss on her lips that halted her squirming. She gave a little moan, he relaxed his grip a little, and then he was stumbling back and she darted behind her workbench. Catching himself, he sent her a halfhearted glare.

“So you wanna play, is that it?” he asked, throwing a smile at her.

She tilted her head. “I play with wrenches,” she offered, lifting one.

He glanced away. “Yes, well. . .I didn’t quite like that game the last time we played it.”

She snickered. “Seriously, though. It sounded like you had a real point this time, Jak.” She set the wrench down and pinned him with a serious look that was too cute on her face.

He blew out a sigh, not really willing to go into detail about the things he’d thought about this morning. He saw, more often than he enjoyed, how often Keira gave Ashelin looks of longing. But rather than mention it, he decided to talk about the same thing that’d been bothering him for the past three years.

“Sunni,” he said simply.

Keira’s look saddened a bit. “I know her really well, Jak. If she remembered anything, she’d tell me. And I’d tell you. You can’t push the matter.”

“I know that,” he snapped a little too quick. “My problem is how long this is taking her. I can only help her so much without knowing anything.”

“Don’t you think you’re helping her plenty just by being here?” she shot back. “She trusts you, Jak; maybe more than she trusts me. Let her discover her past by herself.”

He sighed again, knowing full well he wasn’t going to win this battle. Keira had her mind made up, and wasn’t going to give him leeway. “Alright,” he agreed, though with difficulty. “It’s just driving me crazy that I don’t know why she. . .” He trailed off, not sure what he wanted to say.

“. . .Why she got that scar?” Keira finished for him. She looked down at her table. “That worries me, too.” Looking up again, she said more firmly, “But I think she’s doing fine.”

After a long moment, he nodded. “She’s certainly growing,” he laughed.

She smiled. “She’s going to be taller than you soon,” she teased.

“I doubt it,” he shot back.

She giggled to herself. “So,” she started, giving him a skeptical look, “was there anything else you wanted?”

He gave her a puzzled expression. “What makes you think I had something else in mind?”

“Because, for one,” she answered, “you didn’t say, ‘Besides you?’ like you normally would. And two, you’ve brought up Sunni’s past many times before. It isn’t enough of a new subject to make you come all the way over here just to talk about it.”

Damn, she knew him too well. Still, he had the options to either come clean, or turn tail and run. He gave her a wave and ducked out the door as a wrench hit the wall beside him, barely dodging a second that came flying out the door as it shut. Either she was getting worse at aiming, he thought, or she wasn’t trying to hit him anymore.

Giving a whistle, he hopped on his jet board and decided to take a spin around the city, since there wasn’t much else to do these days. The city’s fortification was practically flawless, unlike how it was years ago when Jak managed to bypass everything. Leaving the defenses to Torn and Ashelin had been a smart move. This meant there was little need to go outside the walls any longer; most everything that had tried to get in once before had decided it was a useless endeavor about a year ago. The last attack on the city had been several months prior.

Every so often, Jak still visited Spargus, partially because he felt responsible for it. He used to go with the excuse of hunting metalheads, trying to keep his heritage a bit of a secret even now. Soon, however, he was going to have to own up to the fact that he was the heir to both Haven and Spargus City. It was weird to think of it like that, but his father had ruled Haven once, then Spargus later; by blood, Jak ruled both. Unless he chose to give up one or the other to someone else.

There was worry going through Spargus, had been since Damas died. But in Haven, it was difficult; since Praxas had died, the council members under him had began fighting amongst themselves, if quietly, for power. Veager was an example of this, though granted his entire plan had backfired horribly. To prevent any further bad moves, for either city, he was going to have to make a decision, soon.

He supposed he could leave Haven to Ashelin, and instead try to lead Spargus. But he knew Haven’s city workings so much better than Spargus’, that might be the wrong move. Perhaps he could leave Spargus to Sig, then; the older man certainly knew the desert well. And it would help get Kleiver to behave, or so he hoped.

That would be for the best, he agreed with himself, launching over another group of citizens. Sig would be an excellent leader for Spargus, far better than Jak could ever be. As for Haven, he was thinking that Ashelin might not be the best of leaders. She was smart, quick-witted and tough, but that wasn’t the same as leadership ability. She was best as a general, like how Torn was best at intelligence and planning.

Jak paused then, a scenario entering his mind. He stood still for a moment, holding the jet board in one hand as he went over the pros and cons becoming clear. It was such an obvious option in his head now: they already had a perfect leadership team around. Jak had the muscle and skill to pull off brilliant plans Torn came up with, Sig offered priceless experience and advice, and Ashelin was always right there with the kind of help you needed at that exact moment. Daxter was perfect to do things that required a smaller, nimbler body, and Keira and Tess together could fashion weapons and mechanical objects that were of endless help. Even Samos, Orrin and Pecker added wisdom and communication at times when it was needed.

Together, they brought down Praxas, protected the city from countless metalheads, cured a portion of the city that was overrun with toxins, kept Spargus safe from wastelanders, and somehow kept the entire economy from collapsing. That was a lot from any one era to accomplish, yet a handful of people had done so. And as he kept thinking, more names were brought up to the surface who also deserved recognition, who had aided somehow.

It was too genius. How he hadn’t thought of it before, he didn’t know; perhaps it had something to do with having to watch over Sunni so often. And now that he thought about it, he wondered where Daxter was these days. Probably with Tess; there was no question about that. Were they still living above the gun range?

That was when it hit Jak that he didn’t know much about Daxter anymore. They’d been best friends for as long as he could remember, and now that they both had a girlfriend, they hardly spent time together. Perhaps it was time to have an unscheduled visit to his old friend.

- - - - -

It took a whole three days for everyone to hear his idea and then pin the council down in politics -- another of Torn’s plans that was practically a battle tactic and worked perfectly in this situation. Ashelin had the strongest voice of them all in such an arena, probably from having been around her father when he had to charm the council as well. Even so obviously pregnant, she was imposing, not a hint of weakness about her.

Samos aided by pointing out the wisdom of the things she said, but it seemed that even without his help, the council was swayed. Everyone except Sig, Ashelin and Samos was part of the audience, as Sig was doing his part in Spargus with another of Torn’s plans. The council adjourned to discuss amongst themselves after an hour of talking, an hour in which Torn never took his eyes off Ashelin. As she was nearing the end of her third trimester, every day became a potential birth for the child, and despite all his levelheaded state of mind, Torn was obviously stressed about it.

Once the council was out of the room, Sunni launched over the stout fence barring the audience from everyone else, and promptly sat on the table Ashelin sat before. “So,” Sunni started, “do you think you got ‘em?”

Ashelin smiled at her. “They know better than to oppose me.”

“Everybody keeps saying that, but nobody’s telling me what it means,” Sunni pouted.

Ashelin gave a laugh. “My father used to rule the city. It wasn’t very long, but we both learned a lot about politics in that time. Given how easily my father swayed them, I don’t think the council is going to fight me.”

“I brought your pistol,” Torn threw in, “just in case.”

That just made Ashelin laugh again. She threw him a look that was clearly the expression of a person content in their life, and both Keira and Tess gave a longing sigh at the look. Torn, on the other hand, quickly looked away. Jak couldn’t blame him.

The council didn’t deliberate long, as they came back within twenty minutes. Sunni relinquished her seat to hop back over the fence obligingly, as the council members all gave her unhappy and disappointed looks. None of them accepted Sunni much more than they accepted Jak, but given everyone who was looking after her, they couldn’t press the issue, legally or otherwise.

And with a great amount of discomfort, they agreed to Ashelin’s proposal, to allow the city to be ruled under a team rather than one person. However, in doing so, they were also agreeing to essentially give up their parts in the city’s future, only remaining a council when asked by any one of Jak’s team to converge. Which no one had any real intention of doing. Should the team idea fail, however, the city’s fate rested back in the council’s hands.

Apparently they were hoping to remain voices that were heard, regardless of whether or not they were called for advice. Everyone held onto their reserve until they were out of the building, before praises and cheers of various volumes went between them. Pecker, Daxter and Sunni were the most outspoken, especially towards each other.

“I can’t believe it,” Sunni was saying, “they looked so angry!”

“I know, I know!” Daxter added. “Ashe totally beat ‘em down!”

“Braaaaawk, I never had a doubt,” Pecker threw in.

“Oh, settle down,” Keira chided them.

“I’m gonna take off,” Sunni told them. With a wave she was flipping out her jet board from its holster on her hip.

“To where?” Ashelin asked. “I’m starting to wonder if you met a boy.”

“Boy?” Jak echoed, an unhappy feeling settling in his lower stomach.

Sunni paused, then shuffled one of her feet. “Well, he’s been nice. . .”

“You met a boy?” Keira asked, surprised.

Jak saw red for a second, before he managed to get a reign on his where his head was going. Ashelin was already speaking, too. “For a couple weeks now, she’s only visited me for a little while, then ran off.”

Sunni gave her a hard look. “And I asked you not to say anything.”

“Who is this boy?” Keira asked, turning Sunni to face her.

“Yeah, who’s this boy?” Jak added, eyes narrowing. He didn’t like the idea of a boy showing interest in Sunni.

Sunni pursed her lips. “Jerro, and he’s plenty nice,” she tried. “He likes that I’m different from everyone else.”

Daxter had been giving Sunni a piercing look which mirrored Jak’s own, and now he glanced over at Jak. Noticing his friend’s stare, Jak looked back at him for a second, realizing that neither of them were happy with this. Trying to be discreet, Jak gave a small nod which he hoped only Daxter would see.

“Well. . .” Keira answered, looking torn. She didn’t seem to know what to say.

“Pfft,” Torn interrupted their thoughts. “Bring him to see us, or take us to him, and we’ll see how nice he really is.”

“I second that,” Jak all but blurted.

“No, you guys!” Sunni half-whined. “You’ll just make him leave, and then I won’t have any friends anymore!”

“You’ll have us,” Daxter pointed out.

Sunni pouted. “Well, excuse me for wanting a bit more than that! I’m leaving!” she snapped, throwing her jet board on the ground and promptly jumping on it. Within seconds she had plenty of distance between them, and then rounded a corner.

“Don’t do it, Daxter,” Tess warned, apparently having noticed the looks exchanged between the best friends earlier. But she was too late; Daxter was already sprinting after Sunni. “Dax!!” she snapped, then huffed.

Keira looked uncomfortable now, and gave Ashelin a look of almost motherly worry. Ashelin returned it with a slight shrug, as though she were trying to say, “She has to grow up sometime.”

Jak was already pulling out his own jet board, glad he chose today of all days to make sure he had it.

“Jak, you too?” Keira asked, distraught. “You’re going to drive her away.”

“Not quite,” Jak answered, giving her a grin. “I’m going to drive ‘Jerro’ away. Don’t wait up.”

He was off even as Keira was still trying to form some sort of reply, and as he fell out of earshot, he heard Torn say, “I was thinking of going with ‘em.”

But of course, Torn was feeling that fatherly protectiveness these days, even if he hadn’t until Ashelin became pregnant. It was only natural for him, who was soon to be a father, to want to protect someone. Other than Ashelin herself, right now the only person Torn himself could protect was Sunni.

Just like Jak and Daxter both. All three of them wanted to keep Sunni out of danger these days, perhaps more so now that they know she’s been seeing a boy. That thought alone kept Jak focused totally and completely on trailing Daxter, who wasn’t far behind Sunni. They were going to find this boy and have a. . . “talk” with him. If the boy left with a few years shaved off his life, that would be his own fault, surely.