I've always felt sorry for Jake being so overshadowed by Ben and Karen, he's comes across as a bit of a dark horse; just kind of quiet while they make all the fuss.
I was rewatching the Season 4 episode, 'Parents Evening' where one of the teachers couldn't believe Ben and Jake were brothers and Pete commented that children like Ben actually 'went far' and I suddenly wondered what Jake's opinion of his two siblings really was, thus this fic was born...
Sometimes Jake gets jealous of Ben and Karen.
Oh, he'll never admit it: not to his Mum or Dad and definitely not to them, but its there, unspoken, lying deep beneath his skin.
Everyone knows kids get labelled. It only takes adults a couple of seconds to categorize, shove you in a box and after a while names become like synonyms.
Take his family for example:
Karen – Argumentative, confident and strikingly intelligent.
Ben – Outgoing, wild and a complete nightmare.
But Jake? Quiet? Calm? Normal?
He's knows he's got his faults of course: he can be snarky, stubborn, lazy, more-serious-than-is-healthy, technology dependent ect. ect.
But overall whenever his parents worry about him, it's normally outside influences, like bullying or internet: What could happen to him but never him, himself like it is with the others.
He's the good child, the easy one, the background person and quiet extra rather than the melodramatic lead.
And he doesn't mind, really. God knows, his family needs someone sane to keep it together. His Mum's told him how grateful she is that one child will cause a national disaster rather than an international one.
But sometimes; when he watches Karen run circles around his dad with her questions, or see's Ben drive his Mum insane with experiments, Jake can't suppress a brief pang of something.
Because everyone knows that they're special really: His parents and teachers may agonize over them and scream in frustration at times, but for every swear word there's a hidden smile because it's obvious his sister and brother are going to go far. They're smart and determined and stand out so naturally you can't help but pay attention to them.
And Jake wonders what it would be like to be that; to be special, to impress people as much as you annoy them, to be more than just plain, quiet, dependable Jake.
It's not that he doesn't try: he tries pretty hard at school and tries to support his parents but deep down Jake knows 'it' is not something you can fabricate. He can work as much as he likes on homework but he can't match Ben's individual twist to the assignments. He can discuss grown up issues with adults but he can't copy Karen's cut-throat logic.
Rebellion doesn't work either, he discovers, not if it's not in your nature: You can try and try to be cool and go out to parties and drink, but you can't draw people around you like Ben does. Or you can join a band and get a pole dancing girlfriend, but can't shock Mum and Dad with your maturity the way Karen does on a daily basis, they're just disgusted instead of impressed.
So Jake just gives up. They're like stars, bright and blazing...and he's just earth, solid and steady but not really noticed.
And he doesn'tcare, honestly. Most of the time Ben and Karen are just annoying, little siblings like the rest. Most of the time, he's happy being who he is.
But sometimes...Jake gets jealous.