Megan looked up at Jake's car with a feeling of relief in her stomach, the stress in it moving up her neck and to her brain, making her head feel light. There was a moment she thought she'd faint as panic worked its way out of her body, but as Jake's car door slammed shut she was jarred back to reality to see him walking up to her.
"You all right, kiddo?" he said, eyes bright but brows worried. He still had that weirdly innocent look, especially in his plain, logoless white shirt and well-washed jeans, like he belonged on the cover of a Christian rock album standing with some identical guys in a rocky landscape with faces turned towards the sun.
"Jake, I'm so- I'm so sorry!" she said, the last word breaking down into a near sob as she collapsed in on herself. In a flash Jake was crouching next to her, hands on her shoulders, consoling her.
"Shh. Shh. It's okay. It's fine. You're going to be fine."
"There's- there's a man in there and I don't know him and I don't know what to do-"
"Shhh." Jake repeated. "It's okay, I'll come in with you, you can show me, I'm sure we can work things out. I can get the police in if we need to. I'm here now, it'll be okay."
She bit her lip to keep herself quiet, not bearing to let another sound out, and nodded quickly. Jake helped her to her feet, and with an arm over her shoulders, opened the door and stepped inside.
"Where is he?" Jake whispered, all sound feeling muted as the door shut behind them. Megan silently pointed towards the bedroom.
Walking in front of her like a human shield, Jake led the way into the bedroom. Megan's heart thumped as she prepared for the coming confrontation- she didn't know what to expect, but she couldn't let herself expect anything positive.
"So, uh." Jake waved his hand towards the empty, clean room. "I suppose the question I've got is obvious."
Megan opened and shut her mouth a couple times before sound came out. "I- I swear there was someone here! He was- I think he was homeless and the room smelled like him and it was horrible-"
"Well, he's gone now." Jake shrugged. "I mean, I guess. Maybe he slipped out- or is in some other room?"
Feeling that she wasn't being taken seriously, Megan's cold shivers of fear started to give way to the hot stiffness of embarassment. "He was here! I mean it! I had a homeless man in my room- god, I wish I hadn't-"
"It's okay, it's okay." said Jake again, pulling her towards him. "I believe you."
"No you don't." she said, petulantly now, feeling too nervewracked to be polite.
"No, no, really." he said. He pushed himself away slightly and grinned at her. "This is how it always goes on the shows. So and so has something show up around them all scary, it always seems to be out of sight when someone else is around, everyone thinks so and so is crazy."
Megan snorted, in spite of herself, her mood resisting the sudden urge to smile- which of course made it harder to actually stop.
"Oh! Oh? Oh, does she still have a smile?" Jake peered at her, head bobbing about like an examining doctor.
"You're silly." she said, shaking her head and trying to hide her face. "You watch too much TV."
"You can learn a lot from TV."
"That's- that's so-" and then it all came crashing down on her, the momentary smile acted like a breach in her emotional dam and the tears rolled out, the flood of horrible mixed up emotion swept down through her face. She pushed her face into Jake's shoulder and shook, body spasming with sobs that had been held in too long.
Jake held her, patting her on the back of the head, continuing to tell her things were fine, okay, all right, nothing was wrong, situation normal. And they looked like they were, the room was devoid of a stranger- the bed was even made, for goodness sakes-
"I need to go to the bathroom." she murmured, sniffing.