Author's Note: Well, despite having a lot of unfinished work here on the site, I've decided to start yet another project: another fanfic prompt challenge. The lack of interconnected events make this sort of piece perfect for me – I get to practice my writing without getting too involved with plot twists and continuity. This one is going to be a bit different than "Photographs in the Wind" – I'm not putting a word cap on any of these entries. Some could be fifty words and some could be five thousand. Also, I'm not going to focus exclusively on the Animorphs' POVs; I'm going to also write from secondary characters' POVs (for example, the parents, teachers, siblings, etc.) The main purpose for this piece's existence is to provide an obscure look at the events and development of the series while (hopefully) closely adhering to the canon content. I hope you enjoy this, and as always I'll be excited to hear your thoughts. Have fun!

The Parts of the Sum

#1 – Storm

Jean looked at her youngest son with her sternest expression. She could read his body language like a book, and she could tell he was on the verge of arguing with her. She'd been letting him get away with it far too often, and she resolved not to give in to his typical teenage rebellious nature this time.

"I'm not kidding, Jake; I need this done, and I need it done now." She pointed through the westward-facing kitchen window to the gathering storm clouds in the distance. "Even if the hurricane doesn't hit us directly, we're bound to get a lot of bad weather out of it. I have to go out to pick up emergency supplies before the stores run out of batteries and bottled water, and I'd like this to be finished before I get home."

He opened his mouth to argue, but she saw the resignation in his eyes as he closed it and looked down at his dirty sneakers. "Okay, mom. But can I at least tell Tom he has to help me out?"

Irritation flashed through Jean, but it wasn't for Jake. If Jake was rebellious, Tom was flat-out disrespectful. She and Steve were at a loss for how to deal with him; every time they tried to involve themselves in his life, it seemed to drive the oldest son further away from them. "I'll tell you what," she said, trying not to let the irritation seep into her voice, "If you see him, you can assign him whatever job you want. And you can tell him they're orders straight from me." She didn't add that she was sure he wouldn't see Tom; it had been weeks since he'd been home for anything other than to eat and to sleep.

Talking about Tom seemed to soften Jake up, somehow, as it had tended to do over the last few months. "Yeah, okay. Don't worry about it. I'll get those windows taped up and boarded, and if I can swing it before it gets dark, I'll haul the generator out of the shed into the garage. Do we have gas for it?"

The irritation bled out of Jean and she couldn't keep a slight smile off of her face. 'They're just teenagers,' she reminded herself. 'That doesn't mean they won't turn out to be good men.' And she was sure that they would – turn out to be good men, that was. "I'll tell your father to fill the cans when he gets home. Thank you, Jake."

Jake smiled back, tentatively at first. Jean didn't like the way his eyes had dark circles underneath them or the natural slouch of his shoulders as he sat at the kitchen table, but she had already begun to train herself to ignore them. He was a good boy.

"No problem, mom." As Jean picked up her car keys and made for the back door, Jake said, "Hey, mom?" She turned around. "I just…I'm sorry if I've been giving you a hard time, lately. I don't mean to. I'm just…you know, I've just been busy, what with starting high school this year and all."

On impulse, Jean crossed the kitchen and hugged her boy, who was already physically larger than she was. She kissed the top of his head, subconsciously smelling it for pot smoke or alcohol-tinged sweat; she didn't know she was doing it, it was just a motherly, subconscious habit, and her nose detected none of it. "It's okay, honey. I understand. I keep trying to tell you – I was a teenager once, too." She let him out of the hug, but held him at arms' length by his shoulders.

He grinned at her, and she relaxed at the genuineness of the expression. A kid who could smile like that wasn't on drugs or in a gang. No way. "Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, right?"

She laughed and slapped his shoulder playfully, and she once again turned for the door. "Thanks again, Jake." She resolved to buy him a king size Reese's while she was out, because she knew it was his favorite.

A gesture of peace in the midst of a gathering storm could never be a bad thing.