No rules, no worries, etc. "Akuna matata" and all that.
~Personal preference believes that the best crossovers happen when some aspect of the characters from fandom A are clarified or developed through interaction with the characters of fandom B, but that's just me.
Characters: Jak+Daxter, hinted Cloud+Zack.
“Holy crap, buddy, it looks like a metal-head went to town here and turned it into scraps.”
Jak silently agreed with Daxter’s blunt assessment, although the place—Radiant Garden, he’d overheard a local calling it—bore definite signs of rebuilding. And even though some structures still lay in ruin and there was a general run-down feel, it was much cleaner and kinder than Haven had ever been.
“Of course, a place that’s been through the shitter has got to have some great bars. How else they gonna keep their construction workers entertained? Whaddya say, Jak, how about some booze before we reveal our exotic sexy selves to the local ladies?”
“We should find someone who’s in charge,” the elf murmured, shoving his hands into his pockets and trying not to stand out too much. Having green hair with golden tips, weapons stashed on every available surface of his body, and a talking ottsel on his shoulder made that somewhat difficult.
“Pfft, all work and no play makes Jak a dull, obsessive boy with anger issues, not to mention putting my fine tail on the line from having to save you all the time.” Daxter patted the shoulder he rode on with a small paw. “I’m telling ya, it’s all about the booze. And the boobs. But booze first.”
Striding in the shadows of the shops, Jak gradually realized that he and Daxter didn’t appear as odd to the local culture as usual: not when three of the shops were run by ducks haggling with customers in squawky voices. In the distance rose a castle lined with scaffolding and pulleys, its many wings and turrets in various stages of reconstruction.
“What do you think happened?” Jak asked quietly.
“I dunno, but from the way this crowd of consumers looks like an evolutionary melting pot I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we aren’t the only new kids on the block.”
Daxter was right. The people milling in the square were dressed in such a wide range of clothes that they couldn’t possibly all be from the same origin, and as Jak listened carefully he picked out two or three different spoken languages. Fortunately—or perhaps unfortunately—the most common tongue was the one he and Daxter spoke. And from what he could see, no one else was nearly as heavily armed as they were. Even so, there was a sense of unease he felt watching the idyllic scene.
“Think the same thing happened to them?” Daxter asked with sudden seriousness, ears drooping as his paws tightened around Jak’s shoulder. Jak automatically reached up to stroke his tail, as much to reassure himself as his best friend.
“Maybe,” he replied softly, remembering the strange darkness that had bled throughout Haven like spilled ink, relentless and indiscriminate in tearing out the hearts of the people it touched. He didn’t know for certain who had been swallowed up by the darkness, how far it had spread, or even where it had come from—all he remembered was thinking PROTECT DAXTER and the dark eco surging in his veins, his vision exploding as horns spiraled out of his temples—
“Hey, buddy, keep it real,” Daxter said suddenly, appearing upside-down in his face. “No brooding until we find a nice padded room somewhere, got it? Ducks selling shiny things are one thing, but I don’t think these nice people would be sunshine-happy to find Tall, Dark, and Ugly stealing their purses.”
Jak shook his head sharply, pushing away the bloodlust that made the dark eco in his body swell with anticipation, and nearly dislodged Daxter in the process. Still talking, the ottsel dropped back onto his shoulder perch with practiced skill and struck the dramatic pose of a general prepared to head into battle.
“All right, Jak-man, let us go forth and strike awe into the hearts of all those who witness our awesomeness! Orange Lightning commands it, so make it happen!”
“Stop or I’ll kill you.”
The new voice had Jak whirling around with unnatural speed, gun pointed unerringly at the blond man wielding a large sword.
“Holy shit, man, that is one hell of an oversized pigsticker. You compensating for something?” Daxter whistled, eyeing the sword. “They’ve got solutions for that, you know—“
“Who are you?” Jak demanded with narrowed eyes. It wasn’t just the inhuman ease with which the stranger held the sword that Jak instinctively knew no normal person could lift, but the way the chemicals in his body responded as though there was a large source of dark eco nearby. The stranger reeked of tainted eco and the same darkness that had consumed their world, and as he stared down the other man Jak saw a demonic wing twitching behind a black-clad shoulder.
Unnatural, his mind screamed, while another part purred, Kin.
But the stranger didn’t seem inclined to answer Jak. “You smell of mako. Why?” he growled.
“I think you’ve got the wrong saps, Mister Compensation. We don’t know anything about this mako, but if it’s the name of some kind of cologne then I can see how you’d get your panties in a twist about it. The marketing team must’ve had one hell of a bad day to use that name.”
Judging from the way the stranger leveled the hulking sword in their direction and how his glowing eyes became thin slits, he wasn’t amused by the ottsel’s flippancy. Beneath his paws Daxter felt a familiar tension rising in Jak’s body, muscles tightening to prepare for a lethal maneuver, but they were in a new world and the ottsel wasn’t prepared to let Jak taint his reputation before he even had one.
(Once people saw the product of Jak’s fury, they’d never look at him the same way again.)
Thinking quickly, Daxter leapt off Jak’s shoulder and rolled neatly to his feet on the ground between the two men. He could also feel the dark eco in his own body reacting to the stranger’s darkness.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, people, keep your pants on. I know it’s hard to resist fighting over my gorgeous self, but really, let’s be sensible here. Before you two knuckleheads let your testosterone take over and tear this place apart, let’s get some names down first.” He puffed up his narrow chest and buffed his claws on tawny fur. “Daxter, at your service, though my pals call me Orange Lightning and the ladies think of me as That Brave Hero. Either one works for me, though I’ve got to warn you that you aren’t exactly my taste, Sexually Insecure Boy. This here’s my buddy Jak. He’s the strong, silent, violent type.”
The stranger just stared at him unblinkingly. Huffing, Daxter said slowly, “Fill in the blank, sweetheart. Me Daxter, you…?”
Brow furrowing slightly in irritation, the blond muttered, “Cloud Strife.”
Daxter clapped his paws over his mouth to smother a snerk. Strife’s frown only deepened. “Why do you reek of mako?” he demanded again, obviously determined to get an answer as he shifted into an offensive stance.
“Why are you full of dark eco?” Jak retorted, mirroring him, and between the two prickly fighters Daxter rolled his eyes. He demonstratively waved his stick-like arms in the air.
“Hey! Hey! Put a leash on the posturing, boys! Erectile Dysfunction Man, I don’t suppose your mako happens to be a shiny goop that glows like the butt-end of a firefly, does it? Minor side-effects may include insanity, uncontrollable rage, and death?”
Strife’s eyebrow twitched. Daxter got a lot of reactions like that. “Yes.”
“Well, there you go.” When both men looked at him quizzically, the ottsel sighed dramatically. “Well, we ain’t exactly from the same ‘hood, which means that your tomato is our to-mah-toe. I swear, I’m so underappreciated. I expect a good ear-scritching out of this, Jak-buddy.”
“…Be that as it may,” Strife said after a moment, “it still doesn’t explain why you’re here or who you are. Did Sephiroth send you?”
“Our world was destroyed by some kind of darkness,” Jak snarled, hefting his Peacemaker. “I don’t know who the fuck Sephiroth is, but if you have anything to do with Praxis—“
Daxter smoothly flitted his way up Jak’s clothes to his usual shoulder-perch, discretely running a paw through the hair at the base of Jak’s neck while chattering cheerfully. “Tomato, to-mah-toe, boys. I don’t know about you, Sir Happy Pills, but a trip through absolute darkness left a stain on my fur that I just can’t get out and really, do you know someplace we could stay? I promise, no mass mayhem or genocide before breakfast tomorrow.”
But Strife didn’t seem to be listening. He was watching Daxter—or rather, the paw that Daxter made sure to keep in contact with Jak—with an odd expression on his face. It might have been some kind of sadness or wistfulness or even nostalgia, but it made the ottsel unconsciously tighten his claws in the elf’s hair.
“This Praxis of yours,” and Jak’s body tensed all over again, but Strife’s voice was soft rather than antagonistic, “he…broke you. Didn’t he?”
“That’s none of your gods-damned business,” Jak snapped. Daxter’s hold tightened until it threatened to pull his hair out.
“Hn.” Strife nodded to himself as though a suspicion had just been confirmed. “There’s an inn that takes in newcomers and gives them a place to stay while they get back on their feet. Talk to Leon if you want a job.” He swung his sword back into its harness with inhuman skill (not unlike Jak, Daxter noted, looking between the two and seeing similar shadows in their hooded gazes). He abruptly turned to leave, but paused, then glanced over his shoulder at Daxter.
“You…remind me of someone. Remember that you’re the only thing keeping him—“ he indicated Jak with a brief glance, “—from being consumed.”
There was a surge of the same darkness that stank of wrongness and Strife was enveloped by smoky mist, disappearing altogether and leaving the two alone at the edge of the market. They stood there in silence until Jak murmured, “He’s right, you know.”
Daxter had to consciously tell himself to loosen his death-grip on Jak’s hair. “As if I’d be anywhere else, you great big moron. You’re not the only one that made a promise—although if there’s a sale on beer somewhere then you’re totally on your own, man.”
The corner of Jak’s mouth quirked in amusement.