There’s a lot Holt learns about Jake during the first year he knows the kid. Jake is absurd, daring, enthusiastic, energetic to the extent of near mania, weird, and occasionally, hilarious. He’s also extremely messed up. But he does his job well, when he’s not too busy being horribly belligerent or extremely intelligent.
He’s a quick thinker, too, picking things up and putting them down so fast it often leaves other people in the dust. He can think up things on the fly, he’s got great imagination, horrible concentration, horrendous hand writing, and an impressively disgusting stim toy that’s lost more often than it’s found. Adhd is obvious within the first week. He’s brilliant, that’s what matters.
So Holt likes him all right. He’s no Jeffords, too young and silly and desperate for a family, but he’s…he’s all right. He’s Jake.
The first time he calls Holt ‘dad’, it’s funny. A slip of the tongue that makes the whole office crack up. The second time, the third time, the fourth time, it’s apparent that he really does view Holt as a father figure. And he doesn’t….seem to notice. He says ‘dad’ without blinking, and never corrects himself.
There are other signs, apparent long before Holt learns about his real father. The way that Jake reacts to rejection or disappointment from one of his father figures, like Terry, is troubling. It’s like watching water being poured over a flame. A barely hidden crestfallen look that hides behind a sort of stuck on smile that’s stiff and uncomfortable, an ‘okay’ that’s too short to be anything other then his ‘brush it off make it go away stop’ okay. It’s one of the surest ways to dim his normal Jake-ness.
(Actually, something interesting, Holt notices, is that the Die Hard series has a very loving father who’d do anything for his kids. Not that Holt likes the Die Hard series, but Jake does. It’s just an interesting fact that Holt notices and then ignores.)
It’s not surprising when Jake reveals what’s up with his real dad, what a dead beat looser that he is, and Holt surprises himself by getting angry, because Jake is a good boy, who’d do anything for his father. The way he looks at his ‘real’ dad is heart breaking, considering anyone could pick up on what his ‘real’ dad is like.
One day, Holt calls Jake ‘son’ by accident. It’s a slip of the tongue, because he certainly doesn’t see Jake as a son figure.
But the way Jake’s face lights up is surprising, even to Holt. It’s like watching a child realize they just got the one thing they always wanted for Christmas. He yells ‘You called me son can’t take it back!’ before he runs off. Which is correct, but it was a slip of the tongue.
Holt doesn’t see Jake as a son figure.
After the Florida incident, Holt still swears he doesn’t see Jake as a son. And he doesn’t. Telling someone to get a job, to not eat microwave burritos in the hot tub, that sort of thing is just what anyone would tell anyone else. Friends, maybe, whatever.
Then a couple months later, and ‘son’ slips out, followed by ‘dad’, and neither of them notice, and Holt would still swear that Jake is just an employee. Jake wouldn’t mind. He’d still say he doesn’t see Holt as a father figure.
This is my all time favourite scene just because of the POWERFUL language used, especially when China is telling Skulduggery what she believes in her heart will be her last words. Honestly reading that last line, I’m just speechless.