Disclaimer: I do not own Animorphs.
It occurred to me, as I was trying desperately to pretend that I wasn't at the funeral of the brother I had had killed, that I had no idea what his name was. The Yeerk's, that is. I had lived with him for three years…or so I thought. I had lived with him long enough that he had been in a great deal of trouble for failing to notice what I really was, long enough that he felt that he could have killed me 'a million times.' I was of the opinion that if he had paid the slightest bit of attention to me that he didn't absolutely had to to keep his cover that he would have and, given that nightmarish future I had seen one night in my dreams, I was grateful that he hadn't. Not only did I not have a name to think of him as but I didn't even know how long he had been there. It might have been since Temrash had been reassigned but for all I knew there could have been a third Yeerk that took that second's spot, a fourth that took the third's, who knew how many. I hadn't noticed but then I wouldn't have noticed when Temrash was replaced had it not been for my own encounter with him.
Well…there might have been one difference. Before my infestation, Temrash would regularly attempt to get me involved in the Sharing. After the new Yeerk came, he didn't really bother. I have no idea why. Maybe I really annoyed Temrash while the new Yeerk was more apathetic. Maybe the new Yeerk saw Temrash's continued failure and gave it up as a lost cause. Had I been the normal thirteen-year-old that I was supposed to be when the Yeerk first came then I really wouldn't have been worth all the effort when I clearly wasn't interested anyway.
I thought that it was probably the same Yeerk since Temrash as I hadn't noticed any behavioral changes aside from an increase in stress near the end which was more than understandable but then I had been looking for the changes after Temrash died. What he had said about never being promoted despite all his work certainly made it sound like it was the same one. Host changes usually came with a promotion, right? That was the way it had happened with Temrash at least. I'll be the first to admit that I'm hardly an expert on the intricacies of Yeerk society, though.
I had lived with this Yeerk for the better part of three years. Granted, we spent most of that time pretending that he didn't exist but three years is a very long time. It was a bulk of the war and certainly felt like an eternity. How was it that I had never once managed to learn who he was? It wasn't like I cared for the Yeerk's sake, far from it. The Yeerk and my brother were two separate people. When I think of the time my brother was a Controller before I got infested I can separate them. It was Tom and Temrash. Temrash was the one who had wanted me killed or at the very least infested over a suspicion that I might have been one of the kids in the construction site the night this all began (the fact he was right was entirely irrelevant). Chapman said that they couldn't kill me because it would attract too much attention but I never did find out why they didn't try to infest me. I'm grateful, of course, and it cost them dearly but the reason is a mystery. Tom was the one who had saved my life the night I first braved the Yeerk Pool trying to save him. The irony isn't lost on me but I suppose that's what big brothers do.
With the other Yeerk…the Yeerk was the one who tried to kill my father, who might have killed me as I slept in a nightmare reality, who had infested my parents, who had taken the morphing cube, who had tried to have me killed. And yet. And yet I couldn't really think that 'the Yeerk' had done all of that, partly because it was too vague. There were a lot of Yeerks, after all. I tended to think that Tom had done it even though I knew that my brother had done no such thing. That had bothered me for awhile but I hadn't realized just how much until that day on the Pool Ship when Marco was talking about how Tom was planning on killing us all.
Tom hadn't been planning on doing that. The Yeerk had. But try as I might the closest I could get was 'Tom's Yeerk.' Funny. Phrasing it like that implied ownership, didn't it, and if anything it was the other way around. I didn't know how long that Yeerk had been in my brother, I didn't know what to call him, I didn't even know when Temrash had first come on the scene. I had seen the day my brother had first gotten infested but it wasn't like the memory had come with a calendar. I had known even before realizing that he had to be a Controller we had been drifting apart for a year or so and that he had been spending an increasing amount of time at the Sharing. Had he been a Controller for a full year before I had noticed? What kind of a brother was I? Then again, what kind of brother had their sibling assassinated?
I wasn't even sure if I wanted to know how long my brother had been a Controller. There really was no 'better' when dealing with things such as this but there was certainly a worse. Would it be worse to have an exact date that he had been infested on and to know that anything after, say, the September I started seventh grade wasn't really him? Or is it worse now that I have no idea except that it had been some time before I met Elfangor? On the one hand, knowing without a doubt that precious memories that I had held dear were fake would have killed me. On the other, having no idea if the boy in those memories was real or not was killing me now. And even if I did know that he was infested on a certain day, it's not like I would have been able to remember perfectly what had come before or after that day so I still wouldn't have been absolutely sure.
Marco and I talked about this once not long after we found out his mother was still alive. Neither of us really came to a conclusion about which would have been harder to take because both choices were pretty bad. I think if Marco had to choose, he'd want a date. It wouldn't make him happy but he's always been one to face reality, no matter how unpleasant. I guess that's how he made it through those two years when his father…wasn't handling his mother's disappearance well, to put it mildly.
My parents, seated on either side of me in the front row, were openly crying. It was strange but after everything I'd been through and everything I'd seen over these past three years, it still made me uncomfortable to see my parents in tears. My eyes were almost painfully dry. It wasn't like I didn't want to cry; I did and what's more I should. It was my brother's funeral, after all, and I had played a large role in his death. I couldn't, though. I just felt so numb.
I almost hadn't attended the service. Rachel's service had been only a few days prior and I wasn't sure I was up to attending another one. That funeral had had a body and Tobias had reappeared briefly to scatter her ashes. Tom…Tom had died a snake and the Yeerks hadn't bothered to jettison his body before they had left like they had Rachel's. I guess it was…decent of them to do so with her although since they had killed her first I could hardly be grateful to them. I wondered what had happened to Tom's body. It killed me that he hadn't even been able to die in his own body. Maybe a Taxxon ate him. I really didn't want to think about it.
I was here for only two reasons. The first being that since Tom's death was largely my fault – largely but not completely, the Yeerk had made his decision – I felt a sense of obligation to be here, as if that could somehow make any of this any better. The second, less easy to ignore, reason was that my parents had asked me to come. I had only just been reunited with them after all those weeks since I was forced to abandon them to the Yeerks and I didn't think I could say no to anything they asked of me right now. I'm not sure what I had expected (to be honest I hadn't allowed myself to hope that I would someday be reunited with them and until I saw them standing there I hadn't even known if they still lived) but it certainly hadn't been for them to hug me as if they were planning to never let go and to tell me how proud they were of me. I hadn't expected forgiveness but for some reason they saw fit to grant it. Given what my mistake had cost them, I wasn't about to start telling them that they were handling this wrong.
I think that that might actually be the worst part. Getting them infested was possibly the biggest mistake I had ever made and I've made quite a few big ones in my time. I had never wanted my parents to know about the Yeerks at all – as impractical as that seems now – and I certainly didn't want them to have to find out about the invasion from the Yeerks in their own heads (whose names I also didn't know but since my parents were still alive and I had only seen my infested parents once I didn't really care). Just the same…if I hadn't failed to save my family then the Yeerk in Tom wouldn't have been punished for failing to find me because he'd have died of Kandrona starvation. He wouldn't have been able to get away with the morphing cube and Cassie may not have stopped me from killing a random Controller trying to escape with it. The Taxxons wouldn't have seen a way out of their terrible hunger and allied with us. Tom's Yeerk wouldn't have gotten us onto the Pool Ship. We wouldn't have won.
Maybe we would have found another way but it seems unlikely. We had to take the Pool Ship and we only got a chance to because the Yeerk in my brother had wanted us eaten alive and knowing that we had been betrayed instead of being quickly zapped by a Gleet Biofilter. We might have found another way but we barely won as it is. Our victory was unlikely enough as it is. I don't know what would have happened had things been different but I do know that with the way things turned out, we did manage to win. Maybe I could have gotten my parents out and still had everything work out but Tom…sad as it is, I don't think we could have won without his Yeerk.
If I had saved my family, I might have doomed the human race.
"Then maybe Tom is the enemy," Marco had said once. "Maybe it's your own brother you'll end up destroying."
Marco had been right. He usually was.
I did what I had to do. I did my duty. I did my best. Always.
Why hadn't that been enough?