Jake Berenson is the kind of person that isn’t supposed to worry. He just shouldn’t feel this out of his wits especially since the war is over. The yeerks have given up and various controllers, humans, hork bajir and taxxons alike, are being set free as he sat on his parents’ couch with his hands shaking.
He closed his eyes and leaned back. He was drowning in his thoughts; the sound of the TV droning on in the background.
This was a different house; different from the one where Jake had grown up with his parents…and his brother. But the air was still heavy. Very heavy. Jake was certain he couldn’t even breathe most of the time.
Jake’s eyes flickered open, and he realizes that he had fallen asleep. It wasn’t a deep one, thank God. Dreams weren’t his friend; never had been since he was 13. He stood up, turned off the TV and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
The clock on the wall read 01:23 AM.
There was something in him that told him he needed to go to bed. It’s Monday tomorrow—or later—for crying out loud. But things have changed. Jake didn’t have school tomorrow. In fact, there’s just no school. At all.
Jake’s body didn’t want to sleep. It didn’t need it. He needed to be on guard. He needed to make sure things were safe. He needed to make sure things were okay. He shook his head. Of course things were safe. It’s over. But things were far from okay…
Suddenly, he felt like he wanted to pour the glass of water on his head.
Jake had dropped the glass and ignored the shards as he ran out the kitchen with his feet bare. His blood was pumping and he could feel his heartbeat in his ears. He could almost feel the orange fur growing from his arms as he flew up the stairs.
"Mom!" His mother had given out another yell when Jake had just reached the landing.
Jake stopped in his tracks. He stepped back two steps and realized what was happening. He could hear his mother sobbing and his father comforting her with silent shushes every time she gasped for breath.
Jake was already at their door when he heard something his parents had avoided saying for the longest time…
"Steve, I saw Tom."
Jake blinked. Before, Jake would have collapsed. He would have collapsed out of relief, sadness, bitterness, guilt… Now he didn’t even think. His guard was already up. He turned numb as every thing that he experienced came back as a dull ache in his chest.
Jean Berenson sobbed into Steve’s chest. She had buried herself in her husband’s arms, for if she hadn’t she’s afraid she could have lost it. Lost everything.
"I saw him again," she gasped. "He wasn’t fighting. Tha-that thing! That thing left him but he ju-just lied there!”
Jake felt shivers down his spine and goosebumps on his arms. He was sweating when he realized what she was whispering about. Of course, they would have seen Tom in the yeerk pool. He had given up? Jake refused to believe it. He knew Tom wouldn’t have done something unnecessary especially then when his parents were officially in enemy custody.
Jake wiped his forehead. “Yeah that must be it.”
"Steve!! Steve!! Our son!!!" she sobbed and she cried. Her cries were muffled, Jake guessed that his dad must have embraced her.
Jake blinked and decided to leave. It was too hot in the house. He couldn’t think. He needed some air. He might even need altitude.
"Shhh, Jean. Jake’s here." His father’s voice cracked a little, he heard. "Jake’s still here."