Sam had never been good at regulating his emotional expressions before. He’d never understood how people could start or stop crying on command, and people always seemed to know how he was feeling when he didn’t want them to.
Since he’d developed his new abilities, that had changed. He had full control of everything he did now in a way he hadn’t before. Without that newfound control, he would have broken down in tears the moment he’d woken from unconsciousness after he’d watched Lachlan die.
The image of something that had never technically happened in this timeline kept flashing through his mind. He could still hear the glass shattering, still see his friend lying limp on the shop floor. More than anything, he could still smell the blood, like wet copper filling the air and pooling in his nose.
He’d been holding in his tears for obvious reasons–no teenage boy in his right mind would willingly start sobbing in front of a bunch of other teenagers–but now he was the only one not crying. There was no reason to hold back anymore. He let his tears fall.
Jen noticed his tears, and he saw her body move toward him a fraction, her shoulders drawing slightly inward as though she wanted to embrace him, but she pulled herself back.
He reached for her hand with his good hand, and she took it, squeezing it. She offered her other hand to Lachlan who hesitated, then took it. Sam completed the triangle, offering his right hand to Lachlan.
They sat like that for at least five minutes, holding hands and crying too hard to speak. A few times, it seemed like someone was going to stop crying, but then someone else would release a new bout of tears and all three of them would burst into renewed sobs.
When everyone’s tears finally subsided, it was Lachlan who broke the silence.
“So,” he said, his voice still raspy, “this has been fun.”
Sam sniffled. “Fun’s not exactly how I would put it.”
“Come on,” said Jen. “Don’t you feel better now, though?”
She was right. While crying in the treetops hadn’t been fun, it had been cleansing in a way. He hadn’t realized how much he’d been holding back, and he felt a strange relief now that he’d let himself open up.
He nodded, releasing her and Lachlan’s hands. They followed his lead, letting go of each others’ hands.
“We should probably figure out how to get down from here,” said Sam.