Crying Tiger
By The Steel Angel

Authors Notes - I don't know what happened here. I began this story under the name "Attempting the Impossible" and was supposed to be an R/J fic about Jake trying to rescue his parents. Somehow, it evolved into slash, and Jake doesn't go rescue his parents at all. ~Shakes head~ Senioritis, I suppose...

"I said let go of me!!!" Naomi cried, swinging her fists at her Hork-bajir captor. It was of course, to no avail. Jake rubbed his eyes tiredly as he watched Jara Hamee drag his unpredicatble aunt back into the main area of the valley. Sleep was a foreign word to Jake these days, as he did all he could to keep this tiny army of misfits alive. He walked up to Naomi silently.
"You're not exactly making this any easier on us, Naomi." Jake said softly. Naomi growled in response.
"I never thought that my own nephew would turn into such a slave driver." She said, and fixed her icy gaze on Jake's face. "You must get it from your father's side of the family." She spat. Without hesitation, Jake drew back, and slapped her in the face as hard as he could.
"Don't you EVER talk about my family, Naomi." Jake's voice was deathly serious. He moved so that he was no more than an inch and a half away from her face. "You listen to me. Both of my parents have been taken by the Yeerks. Do you know what that means? It means that they're the enemy. They they would kill me without hesitation. if they got the chance. And do you know where I was when they were taken? Hm? Saving YOU and YOUR family. So I'd appreciate a little bit of respect." He said. Naomi could only glare at him. She grinned, and whispered.
"Whatever you say, King Jake."

***


Jake sat in his cabin the next morning, alone, and in silence. Rachel shared a cabin with her mother and two sisters, Jake's cousins. God knows what happened to her father. Cassie had both of parents with her, and so did Marco. Tobias had his mother here, and if you wanted to be technical, he had his uncle here in Ax. Everyone here had someone. Everyone but me, Jake thought.
Tom, Jake's older brother, had been a controller since the early days of the invasion. In fact, the whole reason Jake had taken on the responsibilities of becoming the leader of the Animorphs, was for the day when he would liberate Tom. Now though, that day seemed less and less likely to occur. Recently, the Animorphs had been forced to re-locate their families to the Hork-bajir valley. It was the only place left that was safe... and Jake wasn't sure that the valley was all that safe anymore. First was Marco's father, then Tobias' mother. Cassie and Rachel's families were next, and they had even managed to rescue Marco's mother from the clutches of the former Visser One. But by the time it came to rescue Jake's parents, it was too late. The Yeerks had taken them. This could have had something to do with turning a sixteen year old boy into a battle hardened war-veteran.
It was times like these when Jake felt truly, truly alone. He couldn't show it in front of the others, he knew that. He'd had the same internal argument a thousand times over. His friends too, had begun to drift away from him. Could he trust any of them anymore? Only Marco, his brain told him. Rachel was more of a loose canon than her mother was. Ax had been contacting the Andalite fleet without Jake's knowledge. Tobias was equally unpredictable. Cassie....
His mind flashed back to that moment. Tom was cornered. There was no way he could escape. Tom had the blue box. The morphing cube. The device that had transformed them into Earth's hope. Earth's resistance. It had almost killed them too. He remembered David. David was the most dangerous threat that the Animorphs had ever faced. Far more dangerous than Visser Three, and Visser One.
He had Rachel's thirst for blood. He possessed Marco's brilliance, and ruthlessness. He had within him, Ax's unbridled arrogance. He had Tobias' calm, even timid outward appearance. Given the circumstances, he could have easily take over and had Jake's leadership skills. He possessed traits from all of the Animorphs, with the exception of Cassie. Was it mere coincidence that Cassie was the one who came up with the plan to finally stop him, not with murder, but with life imprisonment as a rat?
Was Cassie the glue that held us all together? Without her, were the five of us just one big, collective incarnation of David himself? How were we any better than him?
But Tom had the blue box. Jake was in Tiger morph. He would not allow the Yeerks to get their figurative hands on the one great weapon that the Animorphs possessed. But what happened? Cassie stopped him. Stopped Jake from killing Tom. As a result, he escaped with the blue box.
Unforgivable.
Didn't she understand that this was a war? Didn't she realize that we could not afford to lose? That by giving up the blue box, they might as well be backed up on their own one-yard line, with two seconds to go, and down by a touchdown? One word flashed in his mind.
Traitor.
He felt the tears well up in his eyes. The collective result of the last three years. Not once before, had he cried out of pure emotion. But now he felt like his emotions were a tidal wave, and his self control was a surfboard, floating helplessly in the surf. He put a hand to his forehead, his tears starting to flow freely. He didn't make much noise, only a quiet sniffling sounds. Still, he didn't hear the door to his cabin open, and was facing away from the door. He did though, feel the strong arm wrap around his shoulder. He looked at the wrist. Too big to be Marco, and Tobias and Ax hardly ever went into their human morphs. However, it was too small to be Marco's father, and too light to be Cassie's father. He turned slowly, and looked up to see James' face staring at him.
For some reason, Jake didn't stop crying. He buried his face in James' shoulder, and cried until his eyes ran out of tears. "It's okay, Jake." James whispered, rubbing Jake's shoulder. Jake didn't pull away. He would have if it had been anyone else. Even Marco. if there was one thing a leader couldn't afford to do, it was to look vulnerable in front of his soldiers. But James was one of his soldiers too, wasn't he? On the flip side, James was a leader himself.
James was the leader of the Auxiliary Animorphs. The physically handicapped teenagers that the Animorphs had transformed with the blue box. Put of the twenty seven new Animorphs, only three had been healed. Two boys, one girl. One of those boys was James. He stood nearly three inches taller than Jake, with broader shoulders, and more heavily muscled arms and legs. Jake, for the first time in a long time, felt small, as he cried into the bigger boy's shoulder.
"It's not okay... I can't do this. Not anymore." Jake said softly but firmly. He pulled his head away from James' shoulder. His eyes were red and swollen.
"Don't do this to yourself, Jake." James said, looking into Jake's somber eyes. "Everyone gets scared. You can't be afraid to show it." He said.
"I can't show it in front of them." Jake said. "I have to appear immortal. Larger than life." He said. James nodded.
"I know that, Jake. And they know that too. But it's just ME here." James said. Jake smirked slightly.
"Why do you think I cried?" He said. James smiled, and took one of Jake's hands in his. Jake arched an eyebrow.
"Jake... out of everyone in this valley, you're the one person I trust and respect most." He said. Jake scoffed.
"Get a new role model." he said.
"I mean sure, you're arrogant, cruel, stubborn... not to mention utterly annoying." James said.
"..I like you too, James." Jake said dryly. James looked directly into Jake's eyes.
"Jake, you never have to be scared to talk to me or your friends. I'll always be there." James said.
"James, I--" Jake began, but was cut off when James leaned forward, and captured Jake's lips with his own. Jake surprisingly, didn't pull back. He closed his eyes, and returned the kiss softly. James pulled back after a few moments. "Wha... what was..." Jake stammered. James smiled.
"After this whole damn war is over, come and find me Jake. I'll give you the answers you need." James said, and stood up. He walked out of the cabin, leaving Jake staring after him.